Chapter two

Sam stared sightlessly at her dark television, curled up on the couch in her silent house. She had never had a close, daily relationship with her dad, but suddenly knowing that she would *never* see him again was numbing; further isolating her in the universe. Cass so far away -by Earth standards-, Daniel dead, Teal'c about to leave for his new life -impossibly further away than Cass-.

Jack...

She'd tried to avoid that thought. She'd been managing to keep a wall between them for so long now... But their shared grief today had fractured the fortifications and before she could start patching them, she'd gotten a shocking visit.

Hiding in her lab to get a little perspective before she actually went home and started dealing with all the real world aspects of her father's death, she'd looked up to see the last woman she'd ever expected a visit from. Then she'd had a thought that maybe she should have. Maybe agent Johnson wanted to warn her off, or.. Sitting on her couch hours later, Sam closed her eyes, pushing away the hurt she'd given herself with those thoughts before the very pretty woman opened her mouth with an uncertain attempt at a smile.

"I can't believe I'm doing this.. but I actually like the guy, and from all I've heard, I'd be dead a hell of a lot of times over if not for sacrifices you've made." She'd shaken her long hair back, looking, to Sam's eyes, uncomfortable, "So. Here's the deal," her lips twisted ruefully, "I was simple; pleasant company. At a *wild* guess, having something to do with your upcoming marriage. It wouldn't have lasted, I think I figured *that* out by the second date when he wasn't connecting, was just being a nice companion. It took seeing him look at you earlier and, frankly, barely tear himself mentally *away* from you, to not only really see the difference, but why it existed. So," she backed away, smiling determinedly, ignoring both the sheen in her eyes and Sam's shock, "Yeah. I pretty much told him the same thing a little while ago, but I'd bet my badge he won't do anything and," she was almost out the door when she refocused on Sam, obviously trying to send a message, "I have a feeling you'd had second thoughts before I landed between you and.. well, I figure if I at least try to fix this, maybe the fates will have pity on me if it's ever my turn to feel that kind of love."

Sam barely remembered the woman closing the door behind herself as she left. At what point had she convinced herself that Jack no longer cared? When had she started so carefully *not* looking at him that she hadn't even seen the feelings that woman talked about? Standing in her quiet lab, she heard her father's dying voice again, telling her to be happy in spite of rules. Heard him say he cared about Jack, and her eyes closed in redoubled grief. The two most important men in her life and she'd been blind to what they both thought and felt.

And now she would never see dad again to let him know she finally understood what he'd tried to tell her. That she appreciated his caring for her happiness over the Air Force rules he'd always cherished.

Even though he was wrong. Because he was, wasn't he? She loved Pete. Annoying nagging and clinginess and all.

Right?

That she'd blinded herself to her friend was something she could work on -she ignored the other annoying trait of jealousy that her fiancé all too often displayed, especially when Jack's name came up-. That her father had hated her fiancé -no matter what he claimed, Sam could read *that* much- was something she would live with; just like half the population of the world did.

She was about to be married; all this isolation and loneliness she felt would get better then. Her survivor's guilt over her father's loss, her anguish at suddenly being an orphan, it would pass all the faster with her husband besides her. She refused to wonder why that thought was so hard to-

She looked up as a knock sounded at the door, her heart jumping with the sudden memory of a tight hug that had actually managed to make her feel better.

When the door opened before she could get up and Pete hurried in, she tried not to let her disappointment show. Instead, she willingly clung to his neck as he wrapped his arms around her, babbling about just hearing about her father and she should have called and was she okay-

Sam didn't say a word, just hung on and tried to find the comfort she needed. She wanted to blame the barely hidden accusation in his chiding tone for the fact that she only felt hollow and empty, wished it was guilt that made her skin crawl. Grief that made the tears fall silently.

But she couldn't. She was more alone with Pete than she'd been on the Prometheus more than a year ago. She was aware that her friends avoided him at almost any cost, that Cass barely tolerated him and had already hinted that she wouldn't stay in a house with him. And she could never even hint at Jack's existence unless she wanted to have a fight. And her father, whom she thought had finally begun to be proud of her-

She could have handled all of that if Pete had made her feel.. right. Safe, comforted, happy; something. But he didn't. Sam suddenly couldn't pretend anymore, not with the memory of feeling more supported and cared for just *watching* Jack mourn besides her. With the memory of undemanding comfort and safety in hugging him.

She cried harder, acknowledging that for a moment then, she'd felt as though she could heal again, from *everything*.

What had she done with her life?