He thinks about her, sometimes.
Three weeks in, she realizes that they’re probably in this for the long haul. It takes her another week to actually tell the others.
Though they are understandably upset about this development, her own feelings on the matter are stifled by the whirlwind of frustrated groans. Only one of them stops by her quarters that night to see how she’s doing. She thought she was fine with the idea (she always thinks she’s fine with her troublesome ideas) until he sits next to her and all of her insecurities come tumbling out.
She’s not fine at all, and he’s the only one who sees it.
He’d never wish for his symbiote, but the dreaming caused by its absence is inconvenient. He’s read much about Human dreams, that they are considered how the sleeping mind deals with concerns the waking mind ignores. He finds it fascinating that most Humans have dreamt of the same things for centuries.
But he’s never once dreamt of falling, or flying, or being chased. Then again, he isn’t Human.
Some (many, most) of his dreams feature her. She’s smiling.
When she revises her definition of “long haul” to mean “over ten years” instead of “a few years, five at the most,” she shifts gears. She doesn’t tell anyone about the revision (they weren’t so happy the last time), but she slowly starts to change her mindset. She spends a little less time working on the actual problem, and a little more time on helping them all not go insane.
Item One: booze.
When Daniel finds her spending an entire day poring over fermentation equations and distillation diagrams, he launches into a historical discussion of Humanity’s lengthy and colorful relationship with alcohol. She’s actually heard this speech before, such is their species’ proclivity for getting smashed, and simply looks up from the screen and kindly tells him to get the hell out of her lab, but to please send in Teal’c.
She ostensibly needs Teal’c because, frankly, he’s bigger than she is and setting up a distillery is more involved than she thought. But she wants him instead of Cam or Daniel or Landry (or even Vala on a step ladder). Because while the others will delight that she’s spending time creating something that will help them get drunk and will bypass what the still actually means, he will instantly know that it means they’re a lot more screwed than she initially thought. And he won’t say a word.
His silent support has helped her through countless other moments of panic, when the fate of the world has rested squarely on her shoulders. She hopes that this time is no different.
Upon seeing the parts she has gathered and the complicated diagram projected on the wall, he nods. She takes a deep breath and begins to explain how they’re going to put everything together, and lets her shoulders relax in relief. At least one person on board won’t be angry with her.
Of everyone on the ship, she’s the only one who doesn’t ask more than once. He’s thankful. He doesn’t have enough willpower to deny her queries a second time.
Before she leaves for Atlantis, they have one final mission together. He watches her across the campfire after the others have gone to sleep. Her mouth opens, and he instantly knows the question she’s about to ask.
She changes her mind and stands up and says goodnight instead. As she passes him, she pauses for a moment, her hand resting on his shoulder. The moment ends as quickly as it began, and before he recognizes what has happened, he hears the zipper closing the tent behind her.
Her flashlight stays on for a while – she’s up reading – and he almost joins her, almost tells her everything she wants to know but cannot know. He remains outside, keeping watch over his friends until one of them wakes and exchanges positions with him.
In the morning, she makes coffee for everyone like she always has. She offers him a mug and, like always, he refuses. The routine is normal, down to Vala harassing Daniel about his hair, but he senses that, somehow, she is different. That, even though she cannot, she knows.
Occasionally (frequently, daily), he wonders what she thinks she knows about those fifty years.
Item Two: food that tastes like something (she hands this one off to Cam, partly because he always looks like he’s about to go off the deep end now, and partly because he’s a wizard in the kitchen).
Item Three: something for everyone to do that isn’t books or annoy each other (Landry takes over this one as soon as she mentioned it and, to everyone’s dismay, Game Night becomes a thing shortly afterward).
She doesn’t get to even think about Item Four, because right after Item Three makes it into heavy rotation, everyone else figures out what she’s doing and why.
Landry gives her a lecture about keeping her commanding officer appropriately informed about the state of affairs. Vala repeats an oft-heard melodramatic statement about going insane and taking everyone with her. Daniel shrugs, sad for everything that he’s going to miss but knowing Sam well enough to trust that she’ll figure it out as quickly as she can.
Cam leaves the room without saying a word and doesn’t speak to her again for two months, not even to ask her to pass the salt at dinner. It makes Game Night awkward.
She puts up with it until a particularly-vicious Monopoly game finds her on the wrong side of Illinois Avenue. She doesn’t have nearly enough money and she’s going to lose, badly, unless she can convince Cam to make her a deal. They’ve been playing Monopoly together for years, before the Odyssey and even before the Stargate program, and they’ve always offered each other the same amnesty: free rides on all my property until you’ve accumulated what I owe you.
He doesn’t say anything. The only sign he gives that he’s even heard her offer is a subtle shake of his head. She finally yells, and all the others can do is get out of the way as all hell breaks loose.
“This is your fault,” he accuses eventually, interrupting her flurry of anger at his silence, frighteningly devoid of any emotion.
She stops so suddenly mid-sentence that she nearly loses her balance standing perfectly still. “I didn’t have a choice, Cam,” she says, softly enough that the background hum of the ship almost overpowers her words. She walks out and leaves the others to clean up the mess.
It’s a full two minutes before the chime interrupts her thoughts. The two minutes feel like an eternity, which is laughable considering the situation. She’s almost convinced herself that everyone feels the way Cam does, that all of her friends have turned on her because she chose stop time instead of explode. Her vague acknowledgement of the chime is good enough for the computer and the door opens with a quiet whoosh.
“You made the correct choice, Samantha.”
She nods and stares out the window at the Ori weapon, a beam of light frozen in time and space. He walks across her quarters to stand beside her. She leans into him, no longer fighting to do this on her own.
The guilt never lets go.
But neither does he.
He’s aware of the honor bestowed upon him by walking her down the aisle. She jokes that it’s because she wants someone to lean on so she doesn’t topple over while walking in heels (she’d scoff at the notion of anyone giving her away, even if her father were alive), but he knows that there’s more to it. That she asked him, instead of Daniel or Cameron, is the result of years of trust and friendship, loyalty and watching each other’s back.
And if she decided, at the absolute last possible minute, that what she needs is a getaway driver, he is the only one who would simply drive until she said stop, or they ran out of gas.
Everything is timed perfectly to musical cues, and they have twenty-three seconds before Cassandra hits her mark and it becomes their turn to walk.
She turns to him and clasps his hand tightly in hers. “I hope you never felt like a consolation prize.”
“Never,” he says, and kisses her forehead. Fifteen seconds. This is the last she will mention the years she does not remember, but it will not be the last that he thinks of the years he treasures.
“Thank you,” she whispers, and hugs him tightly.
He returns the embrace without a word. Five seconds, and a tightly-wound woman with a clipboard coughs politely.
Rarely (seldom, sometimes), does he wish that she hadn’t found a solution.
By the time Cam apologizes for being an ass, she’s no longer living alone. She’s never really sure whether that speaks to the strength of Cam’s stubbornness, or how quickly they fell into a rhythm.
It’s another year before she lets go of the idea that she has to work on getting them unstuck in time (and then not blown up immediately afterward) for twelve hours a day, every day. It’s a morning like any other, but she decides to stay in bed. He asks if she is feeling well, and her only response is to kiss him, letting the sheet fall to her waist.
They do not speak of what will happen when she stumbles upon an answer (because it is always when, never if), nor about what is occurring outside of their bubble. The streak of light slowly creeps closer to the hull of the ship, just as she slowly creeps closer to a solution.
When her cello stands abandoned in the corner, and she again returns to a grueling schedule in the lab, he knows that this is almost over.
When she returns to their quarters one mid-afternoon, after only five hours of work, her expression a heartbreaking battle between triumph and despair, he knows that he will bear these fifty years far harder than she will.
Two weeks later, and only at his insistence, she tells the others. She spends most of those two weeks with him, and only him.
Sometimes (often…always), Teal’c thinks of Sam.