The first thing she remembered about the colonel were his eyes, so deep and warm, meeting her gaze squarely across the table. His words were teasing but not harsh; when he said he had a problem with scientists, not women, he meant it. Unlike the other men at the table, he did not sneer at her childhood fancies, nor did he tolerate her only for being "smarter than all of them." No, the colonel always seemed to see you, the person, he always made people feel valued and important just for being themselves.
Oh, he had his faults -- when he was being dense on purpose or gratingly irreverent, you just wanted to smack him a good hard one upside his head -- but he was the fairest, most caring superior officer she'd ever served under, and wise and strong and brave in all the ways that mattered most. He always had a wisecrack or an acerbic quip handy even in the most desperate of situations, the wry twist of his sarcastic smile always a thin sliver of light in face of grim despair.
Just to herself, she could admit she was in love with him -- how could anyone not be?
She did wonder if he could somehow love her too. Oh, he cared for her, certainly. She was close to him, working with him day in and day out, fighting beside him, laughing with him, arguing against him, spending time at his side in ways others could only ever dream -- but never that close. There was a line he didn't let them cross, a distance he deliberately kept, and while she knew the necessity for it, it hurt. She thought of the other realities where such distance was not needed between them, and dreamed that those realities were hers. Perhaps if they were dying, trapped together on an alien planet, their life slowly dissipating with the flow of blood or the lack of air or the insidious advance of a devastating and incurable disease, he would hold her in his arms and breathe out with the last embers of his dying breath the words of love he could not voice in this life.
They were all holed up in the mountain one night, the colonel waiting for word on an offworld team, Daniel working on some urgent translation -- but which translation was ever not urgent -- and she, well, she was trying to fine-tune this adaptation of the alien energy device they'd found on P2X-684, and didn't Daniel have that artifact in his office, with those etchings carved into its side that, now that she thought about it, just might be a diagram of this section right here...? So she left her lab and headed to Daniel's office, had turned the knob on the closed door and pushed it open without even thinking about it, but her ready greeting of "Hi, Daniel" died in her throat, because there, in the furthest corner of the cluttered office, the colonel stood, back toward the door, kissing Daniel.
The colonel's hands caressed Daniel's back and arms, tender and sensual and intensely gentle as she'd imagined they would be, his kisses slow and loving and infinitely passionate as she'd known they would be, and Daniel's eyes were closed, his face awash with sheer joy and pleasure as she'd dreamed she would feel -- and how in the world she managed to close the door without making sound to draw the men's attention, she would never know.
She didn't remember walking back to her lab, but somehow she was sinking into her chair, staring sightlessly at the clutter of notes and equipments strewn all over the desk. She felt herself trembling, the minute tremors of her hands refusing to go away even when she squeezed them into tight fists and buried her face against them. Daniel being in love with the colonel, she could understand -- after all, how could anyone not be? But the colonel -- the colonel loving Daniel? All that kindness, all that warmth and affection, all the wisdom, bravery, dedication, loyalty -- for Daniel? Daniel?
Daniel was a man! A kind man, brave and smart and loyal and passionate and dedicated and simply one of the best human beings she'd ever known. But Daniel had been married! To Sha're, beautiful, lovely Sha're, whom he'd lost, and tried so hard to get back -- and how heart-breakingly devastated he'd been when she was finally killed. And the colonel had been married, too! He'd had a family, a son, a wife --
The colonel and Daniel? Daniel?
Daniel, leaning so tight into the colonel's arms, his own arms wrapping around the other man's back, pressing their two bodies as closely together as the rules of physics would allow. Daniel, who called the colonel Jack. Daniel, who always stood beside the colonel, often so close their shoulders almost brushed. And the colonel always treated him with such rough affection, letting him in close where he let in nobody else. And how Daniel took that affection for granted, as if it were the most natural, ordinary thing in the universe! The colonel always ribbing Daniel, Daniel giving back as good as he got, the two of them fitting seamlessly together, the perfect complement, two peas in a pod despite all their differences, always so relaxed and intimate with each other. Even in the midst of their most heated arguments, the trust was there, the bond was there, the unshakable certainty that they would work it out in the end --
With a wail of anguish, Sam flung herself across the desk, abandoning herself to the deep pulling swirl of despair, frustration and soul-slicing loneliness.
|Summary:||She was in love with him -- how could anyone not be?|