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[personal profile] phantisma
Title: Time and Time Again, Part One
Author: phantisma
Artist: magnavox_23
Genre: drama, adventure, AU
Rating:NC-17 (but on the lighter side)
Characters: Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson, Teal'c, Vala Mal Doran, Cameron Mitchell
Pairings:Vala/Daniel, Vala/Sam
Warnings: Major Character Deaths (multiple)

Summary: At the end of everything, Vala Mal Doran stands alone, the last of SG1 left standing. When she is offered a chance, a possibility to change one moment in her life, she changes everything, and in the end, changes nothing at all.

book cover




It was over. More than over. She’d stood beside another grave trying to pretend she was completely capable of saying goodbye forever, that she hadn’t been changed by the years spent in the company of the first real family she’d ever really known, that she could…no, would, go on.

Her hair was more gray and white than black now, and even the pigtails weren’t enough to make her look younger than she was. She still wore the uniform, but it was more habit. She had a closet full of fabulous clothes, but she never really wanted to wear them any more. She didn’t go through the gate much anymore, not since Cameron had been taken by a plague so virulent they couldn’t even bring his body home. He’d been the first. Vala had stood there staring, her arm around Sam’s shaking shoulders, blindly offering comfort she was too numb to comprehend.

It hadn’t been long before Sam retired to be a grandmother to Cassandra’s children. She’d stayed close, and they’d have dinner, coffee, breakfast…until the day they were leaving a coffee shop together and right into the path of two men fighting. Sam’s head hit the concrete with a sick, wet sound and she had knelt there, in the spilled coffee and blood, Sam’s final breaths gasping out with goodbyes and “Tell Daniel…” It had been stupid and senseless and she hadn’t come out of her room for weeks after.

It had been Teal’c who finally got her breathing again, moving again. She wasn’t the same, but he pretended that she was and she slowly believed enough to get back to the job she had once taken as a sort of farce, a good position to scope out her next score. Only now it wasn’t a joke. They were SG1. They saved the world. Sometimes more.

But, Muscles died at the middle of a complicated political puzzle at the heart of the Jaffa nation. He’d talked about taking her to see something on the new Jaffa home world when he came back, but only hours after he left Stargate Command, word came that he was dead, his throat slit.

She still came to the mountain every day and they gave her things to do. Daniel had let her hang out in his lab, help him catalog artifacts while he told her stories of his childhood, or digging in various countries around the world before the SGC.

Now though…

She stood staring at the door for a long time before she finally knocked. “Come in.”

She opened the door and the woman behind the desk waved her in. “Vala, I thought you were taking some time off.”

She was younger than most of the others who had sat at that desk, a strong woman with an impeccable service record and a kind face, only there since just before…well, not long. “General Lawson, I was thinking.” Her voice cracked and she cleared her throat, licked her lips before trying again. “I think I might like to take you up on the offer you made when Daniel…well, before.”

She smiled sadly and nodded. “I thought you might. I have a ship ready for you.”

Vala raised an eyebrow. “You do?”

“It isn’t one of our new long haul cargo shuttles, don’t get excited. We have fully retrofitted an Al Kesh for you, completely upgraded and stocked with what you need to get you just about anywhere you want to go.”

“Oh.” She wasn’t sure what she had been expecting. She sank slowly into the chair, her mind wandering back to other times in this office, other Generals, Daniel’s exasperation when she would push the boundaries.

“Not what you wanted?” The general turned alarming green eyes and pinned Vala to her spot.

“I…don’t know.” Vala exhaled, closing her eyes against tears she didn’t want to cry. “I don’t honestly know what I want.” She wanted her family back. She wanted to hear Sam laugh, to listen to Cameron’s stories about his flying days, to see Teal’c’s eyebrows raise, to feel Daniel’s hand on hers.

Tears slipped past her defenses and her hands shook as she lifted them to wipe at the tears.

“I know this must be hard for you.”

“My whole life has been hard.” Vala countered. “Why should this be different?”

“Because this time, you learned to love.” The room was warm, bright.

Vala blinked, but the light was getting stronger and General Lawson seemed to blur, like she was fading away.

“Tell me, Vala Mal Doran, if you could change one moment, any moment, of your life…if you could wish for the chance to have come to this place differently, what would choose?”

A dozen scenes from her life raced through her brain. The moment she was chosen to host a Goa’uld, the day she knew her father was never coming back, the way her mother looked at her…then a moment settled in her brain. She couldn’t have been more than three. A woman came to the village and offered to take children to a safe world where the Goa’uld didn’t come and steal them to make them slaves or monsters. She’d clung to her mother…but what if she’d been brave? What if?



***
Magda Mal Doran laughed as her adopted daughter danced across the floor to whatever song was in the girl’s head, taking her hand to help her twirl as she reached Magda’s chair. Vala kept dancing, right up to the bookshelf, where she grabbed the book of fairytales and danced back.

“It’s reading time, Mom. Can you read to me?”

Magda smiled. “Of course, my dear. What will it be today? Princesses?”

Vala climbed up into her lap and opened the book. “I like the one with the straw turning into gold.”

“Rumpelstiltskin? Didn’t we just read that one yesterday?”

“Again.” She nestled in against Magda and got comfortable while Magda found the place in the book and started to read.

In the two years that Vala had come to live with Magda and her husband Jeffrey, it had taken work to draw her out of her shell. At three years old the little girl had barely spoken, and what words she said were silly, made up words no one understood but her...but they’d been patient with her and as they approached the date they’d chosen for her birthday, she was nearly ready for starting school in the fall.

It was a mixed blessing. Magda couldn’t bear children and they had been turned down repeatedly by adoption agencies because of Magda’s disability…but Magda loved being a mother, loved having a child to pour her love into and Vala’s first day of school marked the beginning of her little girl really growing up.



***
Vala stood beside her grandfather, trying to ignore the tears building in the corners of her eyes. Her mother didn’t want her to cry, so she wasn’t going to cry. Her mother had been strong and had raised her to be strong. She was a big girl now and she needed to be brave.

The mourners were sparse; a few close friends that Vala had known all of her life, Vala’s gymnastics teacher and dance instructor, some friends from school . Her grandfather was an old man she barely knew but once the funeral was over, she’d be moving to a whole new state with him, far from the people she knew.

She was nine years old and for the second time in her life, she was starting over. She barely remembered the first time, just a few scattered memories of her first mother, of being scared and feeling alone, but all of that was overshadowed by the love of the mother and father that raised her. Now, as she climbed into the car with her grandfather she wondered if she would ever feel the safety and love they had given her ever again.

They drove away from the cemetery, away from her house and most of her things. There was a suitcase in the trunk with her clothes, some shoes, her mother’s locket with a picture of the three of them when Vala had been seven. She had tucked a couple books in there too, the favorites that they had read together, a few that they hadn’t ever gotten to. She had promised her mother she would continue to read every day, that she would never stop learning history and science and other things.

But first, she was in for a long drive. She laid down in the back seat of her father’s big old car and closed her eyes. She didn’t mean to cry, but she missed the softness of her mother’s thigh pillowing her head, the gentle touch of her hand stroking Vala’s face until she was asleep.


***

She stopped at the door, her eyes swiping around the room, clocking the important information. Peter and Dominic were in the corner with what looked like a school book, but probably had a dirty magazine inside it. The old man was in his recliner, reading the paper, flicking it from time to time to pretend he was watching the kids. Jesse and Jenny sat on the couch playing with their Barbie dolls.

Her eyes caught on the new kid in the opposite corner from the older boys, knees folded up to his chest, hiding a bloody lip and black eye behind an old looking book. She crossed to sit next to him, bumping his shoulder with her own. “Who did the hitting?”

“No one.” He murmured, but his eyes lifted to the boys across the room.

“Dominic then?”

“He didn’t hit me.”

“No, he probably just shoved you into a door or something.” Vala had seen them harassing the poor kid the day before. He was a prime target for bullies like those two: small for his age, scrawny with long, shaggy hair and clothes that didn’t fit right, glasses that were too big for his face . It didn’t help that he was a little on the nerdy side, always lugging around dusty old books

“The bookshelf, actually.”

She nodded, turning his face toward her. “We best put some ice on that lip and beat it outside before the old lady gets back. If she catches us in the kitchen, we’ll end up cooking dinner. Come on.”

She stood, at first not sure he’d come, but he stood, hugging the book to his chest and she made sure to keep herself between him and the bullies until they were out of the room. She opened the freezer and pulled out two cubes of ice, then grabbed a plastic baggie from the drawer beside the fridge. She handed him the bag, then climbed up on the counter, pulling her lock picks from her sock.

“Watch the door. I’ll get us some cookies.”

Vala picked the padlock the old couple thought would keep the kids out of the treats they horded and pulled out a fistful or Oreos before she relocked it and jumped down. “Come on.”

She lead him out the kitchen door and down behind the shed, under the fence and down the worn path through the overgrown lot to the spot where the trees started, then into the woods, until they came to a dense thicket of young trees. Just around the other side was the place she came to get away from the foster family. The tarp was tied over a bolder and when she lifted the corner, the grommet fit neatly over one of the skinny trunks, creating a tent like space inside. There were cushions and a blanket and in a hole under the rock she kept the things she didn’t want to lose to the kleptomaniacs she shared a house with.

“How’d you learn to do that…with the lock?”

“One of the boys in my last foster home. Taught me other stuff too. Stick with me, kid. I’ll teach you a few tricks.”

“Daniel.”

She frowned at him. “What?”

“My name. I’m Daniel Jackson.”

“Right. I’m Vala.”

“I know. They told me yesterday.”

She divided up the cookies and sat with her back against the rock and one of the cushions under her. “If you want to get by here, Daniel, you need to learn to move faster, and look up out of your books once in a while.” She gestured at the book he was still clinging to as if it would protect him. “What are you reading, anyway?”

“It’s a book about the first archaeological dig in Egypt.” He pushed his glasses up on his face and grinned. “It even has pictures.” He held it up to show her a faded black and white photo of three men standing beside a pyramid. “It was my father’s.

Vala licked at the white creamy filling of her cookie and raised an eyebrow at him. “So you’re a nerd by birth then?”

His smile faded and he looked away, like she’d just kicked his puppy.

“Come on, Danny boy, you can’t let words get to you like that.” She reached over and ruffled his hair. “You gotta toughen up a little bit or this world is going to eat you alive.”

“I’m not a nerd.” He still looked sullen and he wouldn’t look up at her.

“Who cares if you are.” Vala said. “Smart people always win, Daniel. Remember that. The more you know, the better your chances.”

He nodded, but didn’t really look like he believed her. “My mum always told me to read everything, question everything. ‘Vala,’ she’d say, ‘you never know what you need to know, so always learn all that you can.”

He smiled at her then. “That’s pretty smart.”

She grinned. “I’m smarter than I look. That’s how I like it. Eat your cookies.”

They sat quietly as they ate their stolen cookies. It felt oddly familiar. Comfortable even. She shook it off and leaned back against the rock. She couldn’t afford to get too comfortable. It was easier to deal with whatever came next if she didn’t settle in too much. After all, this was her third foster home since her grandfather had died when she was eleven, and she was still a few months shy of fourteen.

Daniel was a good kid though, even if he made a lousy lookout. “You know this is wrong.” Daniel hissed at her several weeks later as she worked to get the locker open.

“Will you just keep an eye on the hall?” Vala hissed back. “I already told you, it isn’t stealing. He stole it from me, I’m just getting it back.”

“You should have told the teacher.” Daniel protested.

“She would have just taken it from both of us.” Vala said, shaking her head. The locker came open and she recoiled from the smell. “Boys.” She waved a hand in front of her face before picking through the random debris of teenage boy life to find what she was looking for. “Got it.” She pulled the Swiss army knife out and shoved it into her pocket.

“Um, Vala?” Daniel’s eyes were wide as he turned to her and she looked up to see Jimmy Van Der Brok coming around the corner.

“Run, Daniel.” Vala grabbed his shoulder and pushed him away from Jimmy, running after him, laughing as they rounded the far corner and got into the crowd of students headed out to the busses. “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” Vala said as they sat together on the bus that would take them back to the foster home. It was Friday and Jimmy would be at his father’s house in the city for the weekend. By Monday the whole thing would have blown over.

“You’re crazy, you know that?” Daniel asked, shaking his head as he pulled out his dusty old book.

“You love me.” Vala insisted, sitting back to watch the other kids getting on.

"Hey, Vala?" Daniel asked as the bus pulled out. "I heard Mrs. Beverly say that if you got in trouble again, she was going to ask the social worker to move you."

Vala shrugged, not all that surprised. "This is just a stop on the road, Danny."

His face was very sincere when she glanced at him. "The road to where?"

She shrugged again, her hand curling around the Swiss Army knife that had been her grandfather's. "I don't know. Home, I guess."

"I thought you didn't have a home, your parents…" He pushed his glasses up and looked away.

"I was adopted, did you know that?" Vala asked, sitting back and letting herself relax. "I don't remember much, but I know my mother loved me and I came a long way to live with the people who raised me."

"Do you think she's still out there somewhere?" Daniel asked.

"Maybe." Vala answered. "But I know what home feels like. And I'll know it when I find it."



"Don't make me do this." Vala hissed under her breath at the man beside her who responded with a hand in the small of her back, urging her forward as the door in front of her opened. Vala put on her best smile and held out her hand. "Good afternoon, I'm Vala and I'm here representing the Youth of Christ from the Frontline Baptist Church, how are you today?"

The woman looked tired, and a kid maybe five years old stuck his head between her hip and the door. "We are out this afternoon sharing the good word and taking up collections to help support our ministry." She opened the bible she was carrying and pulled out one of the pamplets, handing it across with a smile. "Do you know Jesus, ma'am?"

"We're Lutheran, but you seem like a nice young lady, hold on a minute. Roger!" She yelled back over shoulder. "Bring me my purse." A few seconds later she reached behind her and came back with a five dollar bill. "I hope it helps."

Vala smiled and took the money. "Thank you ma'am. God bless you."

She stepped off the porch and handed the money to her partner. "It's just sleazy." Vala would rather con them than this slimy religion garbage. It was cleaner somehow.

"As long as you're living with us, we do this my way."

She couldn't complain too much. As foster situations had gone, this wasn't the worst. At least the house was big and she was only sharing it with the pseudo-Pastor and his wife and one other kid. "Are we done yet?"

"One more street, then we head home. You got homework and chores."

She tugged on one pig tail, designed to make her look a lot younger than her sixteen years, then on the high collar of her dress. The house might be worth this door to door religious pitch, but the clothes made her itch.

But she had it figured out. She'd been dating a senior boy and the school year was nearly over. They planned on hitting the road, heading out to California for the summer. She was done with the whole foster thing anyway. She wasn't ever going to find what she was looking for jumping from one messy situation to another.



It was the smile. Vala just seemed to forget everything when she smiled. She laughed, her hand reaching out to catch Vala's waist, pulling her close as she bit her lip and her face flushed a delicious shade of pink. Vala glanced over her shoulder before pressing the beautiful science major into the corner of the school fence and the gym.

Vala leaned in, kissing over her lips, earning a nervous giggle. "No one's watching." Vala whispered. "And I've wanted to kiss you all day."

"Vala, I'm going to be late."

"Skip it."

"What?"

Vala pulled back and looked at her. "I mean it, Sam. Skip it. Play hooky with me. We can go to this place I know and do all manner of things your father wouldn't approve of."

She laughed and playfully pushed Vala away. "You know I can't."

"Why not? You're already going to the Air Force Academy. You're already top of your class. What can one day do to mess that up?" Vala kissed her again, licking at her lips until Sam opened her mouth and let her in, melting against Vala. "I'll even write you a note." Vala whispered in her ear. She pulled back, capturing Sam's hand and tugging lightly. "It's a beautiful day and your smile makes me want to do devious things to you."

Vala pulled and Sam came, rolling her eyes and glancing over her shoulder as if she expected to get caught. "Come on." Vala urged, moving faster now until they were nearly running, hand in hand, off the school grounds and into the trees. Vala didn't stop until they came to a grassy spot beside a deep bend in the creek where the water pooled deep enough to swim in.

"You're a bad influence." Sam said as they sat in the grass, though she was still smiling.

"You need a little bad influence." Vala teased, bumping shoulders.

"My father would kill me…"

Vala leaned in and kissed her. "He'll never know." Vala kissed her deeply, pressing her back to lay in the grass before Vala's lips roamed from her mouth and explored their way down her neck. Vala licked at her heated skin, dipping below the modest scoop neck of her shirt to caress the crease between her breasts.

"Vala." Sam breathed her name, one hand resting lightly on her hip, the other lifting to Vala's face.

Vala came back to kiss up her neck to her ear. "Do you want me to stop?" She let one hand smooth up Sam's side, lifting her shirt part way.

"No." Sam shook her head lightly, chasing after Vala's mouth for a kiss. Vala obliged, working her shirt up and exposing her bra. Vala massaged over her breasts, pinching at the nearest nipple through the silky fabric. Sam arched up some, exposing her neck. Vala took the invitation, licking and nipping at the muscle before sucking lightly at her collarbone and then nuzzling into her cleavage. At the same time, she slipped her hand down over Sam's belly and popped the button of her jeans.

Sam groaned as Vala's hand slid into her panties and down, sliding along her slit. "Naughty girl." Vala whispered over damp skin before pressing her thumb into Sam's clit.

"Vala!" Sam bit off the sound before it started to echo back to them, but as she lifted her hips, Vala inserted one slender finger into her as she began moving her thumb in tiny circles. Sam gasped, her eyes closing, her mouth open as she panted, her hips moving.

Vala licked over her lips and fucked her finger in and out in time to the movement of Sam's hips. "That's it." Vala purred in encouragement, knowing just from the way Sam's breathing hitched and sped up that she was close to coming. "Let it go."

Sam grabbed her hand, pressing down onto her and Vala felt the warm rush of her orgasm coating her finger. Sam lay back, panting. Vala pulled her hand out and sucked the finger into her mouth before she laid down beside Sam. "I do love watching you fall apart like that." Vala said softly, turning to look at her.

It hadn't been a part of the plan. She'd seen Sam first as a challenge…the hard working, dedicated girl who never looked up from her studies, brilliant and focused. Vala had wanted to break that focus, to disrupt her drive. And she wasn't ready to say that this was love or anything like it, but somewhere along the line she had taken a real liking to her, and there was no denying she was beautiful.

She was the closest thing to a friend Vala had known since Daniel Jackson and his old books and his notions of right and wrong.

"Hey."

Vala blinked and smiled at Sam. "What?"

"Where'd you go?"

Vala shook her head. "Just thinking. I'm going to miss you Samantha Carter."

Sam rolled over, frowning a little. "I don't leave for weeks."

Vala closed her eyes over tears she didn't expect. "I really like you." Which wasn't what she had meant to say at all. "That doesn't happen a lot." She opened her eyes to find Sam right there.

"I really like you too, Vala." Sam responded, kissing her lightly. "Even if you're a bad influence."

Vala pulled back and sat up, suddenly taken by the reality that Sam only liked the person she thought Vala was. "You wouldn't say that if you knew me."

Sam reached for her, but she pulled away.

"Vala…"

The truth was, Sam didn't know her at all. Vala was someone different around Sam. No, that wasn't true either, she was playing a character when she was with Sam, just as she did whenever she conned someone. Vala tried to shake it off, but Sam was concerned now, and she knew she wasn't walking away without some explanation.

Sam followed her to the edge of the water, slipping her hand into Vala's. "Hey, what's going on?"

Vala blinked back tears and shook her head, trying desperately to think of some way to guard her secrets when all she wanted to do was come clean. Sam seemed to take her silence as an answer though, pulling back. "Oh." She paced away and Vala wanted to do anything to go back to kissing her in the grass. "You're going to miss me, not because I'm going to leave for college, but because you're leaving. Now." Sam rolled her eyes and turned her back, zipping and buttoning her jeans. "That's why you were so insistent on this, on me skipping school."

Vala let a tear fall and latched onto the reason. "I don't want to." Vala said. "I have to."

Sam turned back to look at her, tears on her cheeks now. "Why. Tell me why."

Vala nodded, wrapping her arms around her stomach. "It's my brother. My foster brother." She took a deep breath and let the story unfold, hoping it would be enough. "I told you about him, remember?" Vala didn't wait to see if she responded. "I found out he's sick and he's all alone. The foster family he was with abandoned him, and they don't know if he's going to make it. I've got a ticket on a flight tonight. It was the first one I could get." She let a few more tears fall, her stomach twisting around the lie.

"Oh, Vala…I'm so sorry." Sam came to her, pulling her in and holding her. "I'm sorry. I can't imagine….I'm an idiot."

Sam kissed the tears off her face. "What can I do?"

Vala offered a weak smile. "Can we just have today? You and me and some fun?"

Sam nodded. "I think we can do that. My dad should have left on his trip by now. Let's go to my house."

Vala did her best not to give in the guilt twisting inside her, to let go of it and enjoy the day. When it was over she'd have to move on…find the next con worth spending some time on. If she thought of it like that, it almost didn't hurt. Almost.
Vala and Sam


Vala wound her way through the open air market, keeping her eyes open for anyone following her. She was pretty sure she'd gotten away clean, but she didn't want another debacle like the one in Turkey. She shifted the case in her hand as she approached a vendor selling colorful bags and backpacks. "Do you have anything less…obvious?" she asked in her best approximation of the local dialect. The man behind the wall of bags showed her a couple that she waved off before she spotted an old fashioned canvas backpack and pointed to it. She nodded when he held it up and fished money out of her pocket.

The trade made, Vala took the backpack and the case and ducked into a small café, commandeering a small table in the back. She set the case on the chair beside her and opened it carefully. There was a smaller box inside, along with the bag of stones that she'd originally been after. She moved them both to the backpack and put the empty case under the table.

She had changed clothes and donned a hat before getting to the market, now with the case gone, she should be able to evade anyone who might come looking. All she needed to do now was get back to Cairo and her planned exit from the country.

Of course, that would be easier if she hadn't lost her jeep. She sighed and nodded to the waiter, ordering a drink while she contemplated her options. She was half way through her drink when an option she hadn't even considered found her.

"Vala?" She looked up, blinking as she tried to reconcile the face in front of her with the boy she had known. "Vala Mal Doran. It is you, isn't it?"

"Daniel." She smiled and stood, letting him pull her into a hug. "It's good to see you."

"You…what are you doing here?"

"That's a long story." Vala said, gesturing for him to join her. He sat, his blue eyes sharp and curious behind his glasses. "I…I seem to have misplaced my ride back to Cairo," she offered. "We had a…disagreement. So, I'm just sitting here trying to figure out how exactly to get there. What about you? What are you doing all the way out here?"

Daniel grinned and pushed his glasses up. "I'm here on a dig, with one of my professors. We came into town for supplies." He patted the bag hanging from his shoulder before lowering it to the tile floor. "I can't believe I'd run into you here of all places."

She laughed, she had forgotten how much she liked Daniel's company. "I was thinking the same thing…but then, you always had a thing for Egypt."

"It's amazing, really." Daniel said, his eyes lighting up. "You should see it. Actually no, you'd probably find it incredibly booring."

"Why, just because I'm not a geek like you?" Vala asked with mock indignation.

Daniel laughed. "No, because there isn't any treasure. Mostly pots and household items."

"Yeah, I can see how fascinating that is." Vala said dryly.

"Well, it is." Daniel responded. "You going to tell me what you're doing in Egypt? Other than contemplating getting to Cairo?"

"Business." Vala responded. "We came to make a trade."

"We?" Daniel asked, clearly suspicious.

"Yes, me and a friend. He was the go between. I was looking to pickup an item that a friend of his was looking to get rid of. The whole thing went south when we couldn't agree on a price and he dumped me here with the clothes on my back and little else."

"So, you wanted it for free and he wasn't willing to let you steal from him." Daniel surmised. "Most people wouldn't."

"I did not want it for free." Vala said indignantly. "I was more than willing to pay him what he paid for it in the first place."

"Let me guess, he stole it?"

She shrugged. "I couldn't say. I wasn't part of that operation." She shook her head. "I was trying to get the item back to its rightful owner. There was a sizeable reward offered." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw two men in uniform enter the café. She reached across the table for Daniel's hand and leaned in as if they were having a romantic moment, her eyes skipping up to watch the men before coming back to Daniel. "Forget all of that though. I want to know all about you, what have you been up to since the last time I saw you?"

Daniel raised an eyebrow, but played along, leaning in as well. "Going to school. Getting my PhD. Digging up old things. Vala, are you in trouble?"

Her eyes flicked up to the men who were sitting at a table now. "No, I don't think so. Just being careful."

"Should we get you out of here before more of their friends come along?" He pressed his lips to her knuckles and she smiled.

"Yes, lets do that."

"You're going to owe me." Daniel said as he stood.

Vala dropped enough money to cover her drink on the table and lifted her backpack onto one shoulder, before she slipped an arm around Daniel and let his body shield her from the uniforms as they exited the café. Outside, Daniel lifted an arm in greeting to a man approaching them.

"Daniel, I thought we were going to have lunch."

Daniel licked his lips and nodded. "I know, but I ran into an old friend, if you can believe it. I was hoping to catch up with her."

The man was a good thirty years older than either of them, though not bad looking. A little pudgy around the middle but otherwise in good shape from what she could tell, with big hands that looked like they'd spent a lifetime digging in the dirt.

"I can see I would not be as lovely a meal companion as your friend."

"Vala, Vala Mal Doran." She held out her hand. "It's a pleasure."

"Ah, yes, Professor Tilman, Vala was in the same foster home I was for a little over a year."

"Well, don't let me keep you two from getting reacquainted. Just make sure there's a jeep to take me back to the site this afternoon."

"After your meeting with the museum director, I remember." Daniel said with a smile. He steered her away from the man then, out of the market into a much quieter district lined with storehouses and punctuated by intermittent houses. Daniel let go of her then, moving quickly up the street.

"Are we in a hurry?" Vala asked, speeding up to keep up with him.

"Do you or don't you want a ride back to Cairo?" Daniel asked, glancing at her.

"Well, yes. But I thought--"

"Oh, not today." Daniel said. "But some of the team is leaving at the end of the week, and new students coming in. Professor Landis will be driving out. I'm sure there's room in the jeep."

"What am I supposed to do in the meantime?" Vala asked as he pointed to a parking lot near the far entrance to the market.

"I'm sure we can come up with something." Daniel said, pulling keys out of his pocket. "Unless you want to get on a bus. There's one leaving tomorrow."

Vala didn't really want to spend most of a week in a tent in the desert, and she was about to thank him and try her luck on her own when she spotted the jeep she'd left behind with her ex-partner when she'd run. If he'd tracked her this far…."Well, I do owe you one." Vala said, climbing into the jeep beside Daniel.

Daniel started the engine and drove them out of the town, turning on the radio mounted under the dash and tuning it before they'd gotten too far out. "Lansford Dig, this Daniel Jackson, come in."

"Go ahead, Daniel."

"I need you to send another jeep up to town to get the Professor, I'm headed back a little early."

"You just made Haley's day, she wanted to go with you, but overslept."

"Glad I could make someone happy." Daniel said with a grin. "Daniel, out."

The drive out to the dig site took a few hours and Vala was over the sand and the wind in under one. Still, she smiled as she got of the jeep. "I think my ass fell asleep."

"Walk it off." Daniel replied, gesturing at a modest looking tent. He ducked inside it, and she could hear him talking. When he came back he was without the bag. "Come on." He lead her through a group of tents before ducking into one of them, holding the flap for her. "It isn't much."

She shrugged and looked around. "Better than some places I've been."

"Well, I'm not sure where you're going to sleep, but we'll work something out. In the meantime, you can stash your stuff in here."

Vala eased the backpack off her shoulder as she moved further into the tent. "Will it be safe?"

Daniel chuckled and shook his head. "Safer than that hole under the rock in your super-secret hide out."

"It befuddled those two buffoons who kept stealing your stuff." Vala countered, setting the pack down.

"Do you remember the looks on their faces when they stole the old man's girly magazines, only you had replaced the inside with the craft catalog?" Daniel laughed and surprised her by pulling her into a hug. "I never did thank you."

"Thank me?" she asked as he let go of her.

"You made that year bearable."

"Even if I dragged you into my less than honorable activities?" Vala asked.

Daniel bit his lip and moved to sit on the cot. "Even if. I was miserable before I met you. You taught me how to survive."

"That first time I saw you, I knew you were going to need all the help I could give you." Vala came and sat beside him, her hand rubbing up his arm. She was surprised when he didn't pull away. "Those glasses and that old book…I bet you still have that book too."

Daniel hung his head a little. "It's actually here." He pointed to the small table beside the bed that held a small stack of books, a magnifying glass and a bottle of water."

She reached for it, sliding it out of the stack and opening it carefully. "Haven't you proven at least half of this is wrong by now?" she asked.

"You've read it?" Daniel asked incredulously.

"Well, a girl gets bored when she's hiding from the worst hide and seek player in the universe." She ran a hand over the worn cover. "Besides, I told you what my mother taught me. Learn everything."

"Actually, a lot of it holds up. But there are some interesting new theories…and some interesting artifacts."

Vala would never really be sure what made her do it, but her hand lifted to his face, her thumb gliding over his lips before she leaned in and kissed him. His mouth was warm and slack and he huffed a little in surprise.

"Vala?"

She stood, dropping the book. "I'm sorry." She stood and took two steps away, but his hand on hers stopped her and pulled her back. "Please, don't make it worse."

He shook his head, licking his lips. "No. Just…why?"

She shrugged minutely. "I don't know."

He nodded, but didn't let go of her. Instead, he drew her closer, his hands moving to her face, his eyes closing as he kissed her gently. His tongue slid across her lips and she opened them, letting herself relax into the familiar feeling that had been building since she'd first heard his voice in the café.

It was warm and comfortable, like a favorite pair of jeans, like letting go of all the people she was supposed to be so she could just be Vala. There was no burning need to get naked, to get to the part where it felt good. Just the kissing felt good, his lips on each inch of skin as it was exposed, her breasts heavy in his hands as her bra fell from her shoulders.

Daniel's hands were calloused, but gentle on her skin, his eyes intense as they met hers, asking permission, asking if this was what she wanted, and Vala had no words to answer them, she could only respond with an offering of her own, laying back beneath him and bringing him to her, surrendering into the heat as their bodies came together.

She shivered as he entered her, tilted her head back and arched up to meet him, sighing out low and deep. In this too he was gentle, more so than any she had ever had in her bed, save maybe one. She could feel herself blushing, melting in the heat of his attention.

Her orgasm surprised her, flushing her with more heat and seeming to spur Daniel on to his own moments later. He maneuvered himself to lay behind her, both of them panting lightly, their skin slicked with sweat in the desert heat.

They were quiet a long moment, Daniel's body tight against hers, his hand on her hip. Vala felt strangely unsettled and yet safer and more protected than she'd ever been. A tear slipped past her eyelid and she moved to wipe it away. "Did I hurt you?" Daniel asked softly.

"No." Vala answered, though the question sparked more tears.

"Are you crying?"

She turned to her back so she could see his face. "Maybe a little."

"Was it that bad?" Daniel asked, pulling back a little.

She kissed him and sniffled back the tears. "No, that good." Vala whispered. "And if you ever tell anyone…"

"My lips are sealed." Daniel responded, pretending to turn a key.

Vala lifted her head to kiss him. The day had been a complete surprise, and the sun wouldn't set for hours. Daniel's hand splayed out across her belly and his kiss was deep and soft. "How long has it been since you slept?" he asked softly, his eyes meeting hers. "And I don't mean that pretend sleep you do when you're protecting something or someone. Really slept?"

Vala shook her head. Daniel's lips kissed up, over her cheekbones and pressed to her eyelids. "I've got you. You're safe here." Vala's hand tightened around his, but he just continued kissing lightly over her face. "Sleep, Vala."

She was pretty sure she meant to get up, but everything felt heavy and it wouldn't hurt…just for a little while….



The next few days were quiet, peaceful even. Vala helped catalog artifacts, which had an unusually calming affect on her. None of the items were particularly pretty or worth much, but they were ancient memories of a civilization that felt somehow familiar to her.

She took meals with the rest of the crew on the dig, sitting with Daniel, getting drawn in to their stories and lives. She could almost forget that this wasn't her life. And when Daniel's arm slipped around her and his kiss found her lips, she could almost let go of who she was away from here, away from him.

At night they shared a bed and if she was honest with herself, Vala had not had sex as satisfying since…well, since she'd lied to Sam and left her.

All too quickly, the week was over. Vala sat at the small table strewn with notes and books as she brushed out her hair. Daniel was getting undressed behind her. They hadn't said anything since leaving dinner.

"You're quiet." Daniel said as his hands slid over her shoulders, gently massaging at tight muscles.

She slid a hand up to meet his, pulling it close and kissing the palm. "I'm thinking how much I wish I wasn't leaving in the morning."

"You could stay." Daniel said, the words just hanging there between them.

She'd thought about it, more than once even. She stood, moving into his arms and letting him kiss her. "I wish I could." She said it softly, hoping that she sounded sincere. She was sincere. She would certainly rather stay and see how this played out than to go deliver the box to the man waiting in Cairo for it.

"Do you need me to ask you to?" Daniel asked.

Vala closed her eyes and sighed. This was the reason that coming here, staying with him was wrong. "I can't, Daniel." She pulled away, rubbing hands up over her face and through her hair.

"Why? What's so important?" Daniel asked, his voice tight.

She didn't want to answer that. Answering it would change everything between them. Again. Just like it had that night all those years ago when she'd made the mistake of saying goodbye to him before she ran away. "Can we not do this?" Vala asked.

"I think you owe me that much."

She nodded. He wasn't wrong. She pointed to her backpack, still sitting where she'd dropped it that first day. "There's something in that bag that I have to deliver, and I'm running out of time."

"What?"

She crossed her arms and tried to push back the emotion welling up inside her. "I don't know. A box." She shrugged.

"A box." Daniel said, narrowing his eyes at her. "What's in the box?"

"I don't know." Vala repeated. "It doesn't matter. What matters is, I need to get that box to Cairo. I need to deliver it to a very large man with a very bad temper before he decides I double crossed him and sends men to kill me." It was more than she meant to say. She dared a glance up, but then wished she hadn't. Daniel was angry, his eyes flashing.

"What are you into, Vala?"

"Nothing. Nothing. Just. It's a long story."

He nodded. "It always is."

"Daniel, please."

He shook his head. "No. Go. If you can't trust me with the truth, then I can't trust you with my…" He pressed his lips together and looked away. "You can have the bed. I've got some work to finish."

He grabbed his T-shirt and shrugged back into it before stalking out of the tent.

"Daniel!" Vala called after him, but he didn't even slow down. Vala sank back down onto the chair, blinking at the tears welling in her eyes. They fell slowly down her cheeks and she made no move to wipe them away.

She should have known better. Attachment only ever led to pain. It wasn't worth it. She needed to get past it, climb out of the soft place she'd found in his acceptance of her and get back to business. In the morning she would ride out of camp and back into her life. Where she belonged.



Daniel never came back to the tent, and Vala dozed off somewhere near dawn, waking to Hanna telling her she was going to miss her ride if she didn't get moving. Vala put her boots on and stood, glancing down at the note she'd written somewhere through the night and left on the bedside table.

It wasn't much. A promise to find him again one day and explain. A feeble attempt at soothing her own pain. She crumpled it up and threw it toward the pile of other wads of paper before grabbing her backpack and heading out to the jeep.

Daniel looked up from his breakfast, but looked away again. She wanted to wave, to say something, but before she could, the jeep was moving and her opportunity to say anything or stay behind was gone. Vala put Daniel out of her mind and turned her face forward. She had business to attend. She could play sentimental games after she'd been paid.

Professor Landis dropped Vala at the address her buyer had given her and she waved goodbye as they drove off, hitching her bag up on her shoulder before moving to knock on the door. A woman answered, her fair hair and skin marking her as a non-native to the area. "I'm here to see Aved. Tell him it's Vala."

"Come." She was led to a room that looked like the back room at a museum, with half packed crates and artefacts that just begged to be handled.

"Vala. It's about time. I was starting to think I was going to need to send some of my boys to help you find your way."

She turned, smiling. "Aved, good to see you as always." She slipped the backpack off and fished out his box. "I just got a little sidetracked, that's all. You know how it is when you're trying to lay low."

"I know you nearly got caught."

"Never. I had an exit strategy. Here." She handed him the box. "As requested, unopened, unaltered. One plain, boring box. How about my payment?"

"I'll need to validate the contents. Wait here." He stepped away, then stopped and looked at her. "And Vala, for your own good, don't touch anything."

She held up both hands and rolled her eyes, watching him leave the room. As soon as he was gone, she turned, her eyes scanning over everything, looking for something easy to pocket and not likely to be missed right away. She turned slowly, and the edge of her backpack caught on a vase. She whirled and caught it, only to back into a crate as she put the vase back. Before she could recover, a canopic jar fell to the floor, the ancient ceramic cracking open. "Shit!" She squatted down to pick up the pieces, thinking maybe she could hide it in one of the crates, but when she picked it up, there was something strange. Where the ceramic was broken, she could see some sort of metal container. "Well, that isn't normal."

Vala stood, bringing the jar up with her, her nose crinkling a little with the smell of the ancient pottery. She looked it over, turned it around, biting her lip as she tried to decide what to do with it. In the end, she decided Aved had to be hiding something of importance inside and she worked on opening it. When the seal finally gave, the jar all but leapt out of her hands and something did jump out of it.

Vala turned, trying to see what it was and more than a little concerned that something alive had been inside the jar. She tossed the jar into the nearest open crate and took a step toward the door. Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement, then something flew at her and there was a sharp pain in the back of her head, knocking her to the ground.

She grabbed at her head as something burrowed into her and she screamed as the pain intensified and it felt like something was invading her body, and not just her body. She couldn't move, couldn't think clearly. Everything went dark for a long moment, and when she could see again, she was very aware that she was no longer in control.

Aved returned to the room, his eyes wide as whatever had invaded her made her stand. "Vala?"

"Bow before your god, Qetesh."



The rebellion was bloody and swift. Vala felt the rage her captor felt, and something else besides as the palace was overrun. Fear. For the first time since the symbiote had crawled inside of her, Vala could tell she was afraid.

The Jaffa fell and Qetesh was captured by the angry people of the planet that the Goa'uld had ruled over like a tyrant. The days that followed were horrific as they tortured her, beating her with sticks and leather belts, and in the end, they planned to stone her.

She was certain that this was how she would die, lightyears from the only home she had ever known, alone and trapped inside a body she hadn't controlled in years…but then something happened. She wasn't sure what was going on. The first rock broke her leg and the second slammed into her shoulder sending her sprawling to the ground. No more rocks came though, and then there was a man talking to the symbiote, dragging her up and into a ship.''

It was days later before she finally understood, before the symbiote was gone and she was free again. Vala woke slowly, aware that she could move her own body, and that body hurt…everywhere but her right knee that was warm and tingling a little. She opened her eyes to find a man standing over her, a Goa'uld device in his hands, his focus on her knee. She had seen herself use one before, immediately understanding that he was healing her, and how to make the device work. He finished and looked up at her, smiling softly.

"I am Lustaf, of the Tok'ra. You are safe."

"Safe?" Her own voice sounded strange to her after so long of only hearing Qetesh speak when her mouth moved.

"Your wounds are healing."

She sat up, wincing as the pain registered. "Qetesh…"

He touched her arm gently. "I removed the Goa'uld. You are free." He stepped away, letting her get a look around them. They were clearly on a ship. A small cargo ship from the feel. He had made her up a bed in the cargo hold. "You must be hungry. It has been several days since I found you." He came back to her with a cup. "It isn't much, but it is nutritious.

"Where are we?" Vala asked, taking the cup.

"Still in orbit above the planet. I did not want to leave until you were awake. You should have some say in where you go from here."

She sipped at the thick broth and considered her options. "I suppose going home is out of the question."

"That depends on where home is."

She shook her head. "My world has no stargate, has no idea what is out here. Besides, when I left there…" No, by now Daniel assumed she had lied about finding him again, and there wasn't much else she had to go back to. Qetesh had always planned to go back and conquer Earth, but she hadn't built up enough of an army. Vala didn't want to be the one that introduced the Earth to the Goa'uld.

"I have nowhere to go."

Lustaf patted her knee and offered a soft smile. "I will take you to a planet where you will be able to find work, find a home."

She followed him out of the cargo hold and into the cockpit, taking the second seat. He put his hands on the console and she could feel the engines come to life. "You never did tell me your name."

His smile was soft and genuine and she pulled her knees up to her chest, cradling the cup of broth. "Vala," she answered, surprised by tears in her eyes at the sound of her own name. It had been a long, long time since she had heard it.



"Damn it."

Vala shot the last of the Jaffa that had been defending the Al'kesh, but one look at the controls was enough to tell her she was dead in the water…so to speak. Frustrated, she dropped her weapon and turned to survey what she had to work with.

It wasn't much. But she still had the Kull warrior suit she'd used to take the Jaffa by surprise. All she had to do was wait for an unsuspecting ship to come by and then she could take that ship to trade. She never should have told the Lucian Alliance she could get them a ship.

Sure, it had gotten her out of a tight spot at the time, but here she was with the deadline approaching and she had nothing to show for it. Huffing out a sigh, Vala turned to the console to record a distress call that would hopefully pull in a ship big enough to satisfy the arrangement she had made.

It took several hours, but she could have been sitting out there for days. She heard the call in answer to her distress call and suited up, keeping an eye on the sensors. The ship was bigger than the Al'kesh, more than big enough to satisfy her terms with the Lucian Alliance, which would net her a nice crate of weapon grade naquada, which in turn would trade nicely for almost anything she could want.

She waited impatiently for the approaching ship to get close enough to try to board. She watched the rings activate from the safety of a hidden compartment, and once the men who had ringed aboard had dispersed to search the ship, she moved in, activating the rings and sending herself onto the new ship.

She used a Zat'nik'tel, quickly stunning anyone and everyone she saw. It wasn't until she'd dragged a group of unconscious people into the rings that she realized that she was on a ship from Earth. Of course, in her time since Qetesh had been pulled from her she'd learned that Earth had found their Stargate and ventured out into the universe, but until that moment she'd only vaguely believed.

Vala made her way through the ship, stunning anyone she found and sending them down to the Al'Kesh. The ship was bigger than she'd expected from her initial readings. She cleared the ship and made her way to the bridge to start trying to figure out how to use it.

She got the sublight engines working and turned her attention to getting the hyperdrive to come online. Her first indication she had that she wasn't alone on the ship came as a jolt of energy hit her in the back. Thankfully, the suit dispersed the energy and she turned. A second bolt hit her square in the chest and she raised her arm to fire.

"Oh, crap." He went down before his identity had even registered.

"Daniel?" Vala frowned under the helmet. How could that even be possible. When she'd last been on Earth, Daniel was an archeology student. What was an archeologist doing on a ship in space. Then again, he'd been obsessed with ancient Egypt, which she now knew had included Goa'uld. It was conceivable that he'd somehow stumbled across something, maybe even the Stargate.

That still didn't explain how he was on her ship.

Vala dragged him to the command chair and got him into it, then set about finding something to restrain him with. It complicated things. Him being there. But then again, it might work to her advantage. If she played it right. But that meant playing Daniel.

She had time to figure it out. He'd be unconscious for a while. It was possible she could figure everything out she needed to and then she could just drop him off somewhere. No harm, no foul. He'd never have to know.

Except, the more she worked at getting what she wanted from the ship, the more frustrated she became.

"Hey, how's it going?" She didn't turn right away, still uncertain how to play this. "Guess it's just you and me, huh?" Daniel sounded stressed, of course, the suit did that. It was why she had the suit in the first place. "It's a little strange, isn't it? See, that weapon I shot you with should have killed you. What's even stranger is, you guys don't usually take prisoners either. I mean it's kind of kill first and.... No, that's generally just about it. Just the killing."

Vala smiled behind the helmet, reminded again how much she had enjoyed Daniel's company, his way of looking at things. She kind of expected more fear, but Daniel seemed determined to keep up the attempt to communicate.

"I'm just going to keep talking to myself here for a while, cause you're not gonna talk to me….not that you guys are very talkative, but, uh…"

Vala turned then. She knew how to make him uncomfortable, even if he wasn't afraid. "You may prove useful," she said.

Daniel looked a little shocked as he murmured under his breath, but he wasn't giving up. "Where's everybody else?"

"I transported them onto the Al'kesh."

"Well, you kept the wrong guy, because I don't know anything about the ship."

Vala moved toward him slowly. "But you are very attractive." That seemed to have stunned him some.

Daniel coughed and closed his eyes as she came even closer. "What?" Vala stepped up onto the platform and Daniel pulled on the zip ties holding him to the chair, pulling away from her. "Hey, hey, I'm flattered, really I am…it's just that…ah…you're not my type…ah…and I'm more than a little disturbed that I might be yours…"

Vala leaned forward and started to remove the helmet, which only made Daniel pull away harder, his head turning away and his eyes closed. "No, no, you don't have to do that…"

She shook her hair back and waited for him to open his eyes, and when he did, she smiled at him. "Hello Daniel."

He blinked at her in apparent disbelief. "Don't worry. I'm not going to hurt you."

His eyes narrowed and closed, then opened again. "Vala?"

"More or less." She smiled again, but he wasn't so happy to see her.

"What the hell…how…"

"We'll have time for that later." Vala said, turning to start pulling off the armor. "I wish to send a long range message, using the communications systems."

"Sorry, don't have a clue."

She raised an eyebrow. "You're lying."

Daniel raised his own eyebrow. "You would know about lying, wouldn't you? You do it so well."

Vala slapped him before she could think better of it and Daniel yelled in surprise. "Ow!"

"Shall I kiss it better?" Vala asked, annoyed with him being there, with him judging her when she clearly had the upper hand.

"Just don't do it again. Hey look, even if I knew what it is you wanted me to do, what makes you think I'd tell you? How the hell do you think you can steal a ship when you don't know how it works?"

"I got the sublight engines going." Vala said.

"Yeah, so you did" Daniel said dryly. "How are you here?"

Vala turned to look at him, narrowing her eyes. "So, you're not going to tell me?"

"Tell you what? What is it you think I know?"

She moved to the seat next to his and sat down. "Okay, the short version…after I left you in Egypt, I ran into a Goa'uld symbiote who decided to come live in my head. She had a hidden ship, we flew away."

"You're a Goa'uld?"

Vala shook her head, looking at the console in front of her. "No, not anymore."

"What? How?"

"I don't have time for this."

"Vala, you can't just take this ship. We were on our way to rescue friends--"

"Oh, I really don't care." Vala said, focusing now on finding the communications system.

"Look, this really isn't necessary—"

"No, Daniel? If I'd just asked for the ship you would have handed it over?"

"Well, no."

"So I took it." She brought her hand down on the console and it beeped, a message on the screen telling her that the communications system was active. "Oh. Here we go. Tenat of Oran. Tenat, this is Vala, if you can hear me, please respond. I've managed to procure a vessel, bigger and better than what I hoped for. Tenat, if you get this message, I apologize for the delay and will meet at the designated coordinates in one day. Vala out."

She turned to look at Daniel. He was still confused and angry. Keeping him tied up wasn't helping. But if she let him go, he'd stop her and that would be bad. "You have no reason to believe me." Vala said, getting up. "And I'm sorry it has to be this way, but I need this ship. If I don't deliver it, the Lucian Alliance will kill me."

"If I get out of these zip ties, I may do it for them." Daniel growled.

"I'm going to go see about getting the hyperdrive working. You just sit tight. I'll be back."



It took some doing, but with the knowledge left behind by the Goa'uld, Vala managed to get around the hyperdrive command code and reprogram it so that no matter what happened, only she could control the hyperdrive. "Much better."

"Lose the weapon. Move away from the console."

Vala lifted both hands and turned. Daniel had gotten loose and was holding a Zat gun on her.

"I liked you better tied up."

"Yeah, well, I liked you better when you weren't stealing from me." Daniel responded. "Against the wall. Lose the weapon."

Vala pulled the Kull warrior's weapon from her hand and peeled the glove off. "What are you going to do with me?"

"I should zat you and put you in the brig." Daniel said, moving over to the console and entering the command code. "What's going on?" Daniel asked when the code was rejected.

"I rewrote the access codes, so I'm the only one who can use the navigation systems."

Daniel lifted his gun a little higher. "Undo it." He frowned as the console started beeping, leaning closer.

"What is it?"

Daniel frowned harder. "A ship just appeared on our radar. It's an Al'kesh."

"This quadrant is crawling with Goa'uld vessels. Chances are it's not your friends. That ship was fully disabled when you showed up." The chances were good that the approaching ship was Lucian Alliance or some other half-baked coalition of mercenaries and power-mongering assholes that would shoot first and never really worry about asking questions. "Daniel we have to raise shields and arm weapons."

"I'm going to hail them first."

She was pretty sure he wouldn't kill her, but there was no telling if he'd hit her with the zat or not. As he moved, she kicked, sending the gun skittering away. Vala took a swing, not really wanting to hurt him, but she needed to get the upper hand. He stumbled back and she moved in to hit him again, only this time he was ready for her and blocked it, hitting her in the nose with his elbow. "Ow. You hit me!" The Daniel she had known all those years before never would have hit her.

"Yeah, well, you hit me." Daniel looked confused, but wary.

"You know, we could just have sex instead." Vala offered. He shook his head.

"Been there, done that. Was a mistake the first time around. I don't like to repeat mistakes."

"A mistake?" Vala was genuinely appalled. "Daniel, you know I never meant to…"

"What, to make me believe you had changed? That you cared about anyone other than yourself? Don't try it Vala. I'm not buying it this time around."

"Fine. Have it your way, but I genuinely need to deliver this ship."

"Over my dead body." Daniel said.

She took a swing, but missed and by the time she had turned around, Daniel had the zat leveled at her. "Daniel--"

"Fix whatever you did to the hyperdrive."

Vala crossed her arms. "No."

"Fix it now."

"Make me."

"Dr. Jackson, this is Hammond, do you read?"

Daniel smiled. "So much for that ship not being my friends. Good night Vala."

She gasped as the zat blast hit her, crumpling to the floor as unconsciousness fell.



They weren't moving when she came to, probably still sorting through the mess she'd made of the navigation system. Vala stretched and stood, looking around the small room, clearly their on board prison cell.

There was a camera in the corner. Vala looked up into it, then looked away.

She needed to get away, before they moved too far from the Al'kesh. If she could just get to the rings…the ship shuddered, then did it again.

Outside her door sirens were going off and she could hear people moving. "Daniel! Daniel, let me out. I'll fix the hyperdrive." Vala called out. For a long moment nothing happened, then Daniel was there, the zat in his hand.

"Go."

He prodded her out and herded her toward engineering. The ship lurched under their feet as they ran. Vala pushed the tech out of the way and entered the series of commands that would return the hyperdrive systems to their defaults, as they had been before she'd rewritten the codes.

"There."

Daniel looked at the tech who nodded. "Give me a few minutes to reinitialize."

"Daniel--"

He pressed a finger to her lips and then shoved her toward the door. The ship lurched again under enemy fire and she took the opportunity to push Daniel backwards and make a run for the rings. She almost didn't expect to reach them, but Daniel didn't catch up before she'd activated them and jumped into the center. She saw him at the door as the rings activated and offered him a smile, actually sorry that she was once again running away from him.
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