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What Ifs

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Daniel walked into Carter's lab, two cups of coffee in hand and a granola bar in his pocket. Sam had still been in her office when he left the mountain last night, and he wouldn't be surprised to find that she had worked through the night. At the very least, he was sure she had spent the night in her quarters on base rather than going home. Sam was like that when she was engrossed in a project. He turned the last corner towards her lab and discovered that his hunch was right. Sam was still in her lab, and judging by the state of her clothing and the number of coffee cups around her, she hadn't slept at all. Daniel was a bit surprised that she wasn't hunched over her computer or some artifact. She was sitting at her lab table, her right arm resting on the table and her left elbow on the table as she worried the tip of her left thumb between her teeth. She was staring off into space and didn't notice Daniel enter.

Daniel walked up to her and placed one of the mugs of coffee on the table, pushing it towards her. She looked up and smiled at him, the smile not quite reaching her eyes. She looked tired, but Daniel could see that there was something else in her eyes. She took her thumb away from her mouth and wrapped both hands around the mug of coffee. "Thank you, Daniel," she said as she lifted the mug to her mouth.

"Work through the night again?" he asked, leaning casually against the table.

She nodded as she swallowed. "Most of it, anyway. I kept getting distracted and didn't get as much done as I should have."

"Something wrong?" he ventured.

She took a deep breath, debating whether or not this was something she wanted to talk about. Finally, she spoke. "I just found out Pete's getting married next summer."

"Oh," Daniel replied, not entirely sure what to say.

She smiled at his confusion. "I know it shouldn't bother me. And it doesn't. Not really. But it's just..."

"Strange," he filled in for her.

She smiled and nodded. "Exactly. I mean, it's not like I'm jealous. I'm the one who left him, after all. And I'm glad he's happy. I'm happy for him. But... well, finding this out sort of threw me for a loop."

"Do you wish things were different?" he asked.

"Meaning do I wish that I were the one marrying him? No. Pete's a wonderful guy, but we weren't going to work. We wouldn't have been happy. At least I wouldn't have been. And I don't think I would have made him happy either. But I can't help think about what almost was. It was almost me marrying him. I could be married to him right now." She paused. "I guess that I'm a little jealous, even though I don't want to be married to Pete." She laughed. "It makes no sense."

"I think it does," he said. "You're forced to look at what almost was. And for a while at least, you thought that a life married to Pete would make you happy. I think it's only natural to be thinking about the 'what could have been.' Even though you know that you made the right choice."

She nodded. "I guess I'm also feeling a little guilty about how things ended between us. I really could have handled that better."

"Sam, trust me. There is no good way to tell a man that you're not going to marry him after all. Besides, he's happy now. I'd say there's no reason to worry about that anymore."

"I know." She smiled. "I don't know why I'm so conflicted about this. It's not as if I wish I had married Pete."

"But at the same time, you wonder what your life would be like if you had, right? Would you live in the little house with the picket fence? Would you have a dog and be working on the 2.5 kids? Would you still be with the Stargate program? Would you still be on SG-1?"

She nodded. "And while part of me does still want the house and the dog and..." she trailed off. "With a few exceptions, I don't think I would have wanted to miss out on all the things I have done in the past few years, things I might not have done had I gone through with the marriage."

"Teal'c once told me that it's best to not to dwell on what might have happened. It didn't, and you have to keep moving forward. I think he's right. Besides, I for one am glad you didn't run off and get married and leave the Stargate program. Even when I'm forced to drag you out of your lab to take a nap," he said pointedly.

She grinned at him. "You bring me coffee and then try to get me to sleep?"

"It's decaf," he responded, matching her grin. "I thought about lacing it with tranquilizers, but decided against it. I didn't want to have to carry you to your quarters. People would talk. Can't have that."

She laughed and looked down at her cup. She looked up, a smile on her face. "Thanks for listening to me ramble. I appreciate it."

"No problem. You tend to ramble when you haven't slept," he teased. "And then when you do finally go to bed, you talk in your sleep."

"I do not!"

He nodded and tossed the granola bar onto her desk before turning to go. "Get some sleep, Sam. I'll wake you if an intergalactic crisis arises."