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[personal profile] phantisma
Title: Time and Time Again, Part Two
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. "So, what you're telling me is that this tablet contains the hidden location of a treasure and you're not going to go after it?" Vala asked, fairly certain he was putting her on.

Book cover

"No, I'm saying I haven't finished translating it and that there are serious considerations in pursuing it. The treasure is on a world where the Stargate is heavily guarded and housed in a military complex."

"And you're telling me this, why exactly?" Vala sat back, but kept her eye on the tablet.

"My sources say that you might have a way in. Say a ship, and a familiarity with the planet? He's willing to cut you in, say forty percent?"

Vala toyed with her cup and looked around the tavern. "Where?"

The Jaffa leaned forward conspiratorially. "Earth. The home of the Tauri."

Vala laughed. "Oh, I see. That explains a lot." She shook her head and reached for the tablet. He pulled it away. She raised an eyebrow. "Fine, tell your master I said no."

She stood, and he grabbed her hand. "Not so fast."

She pulled her arm free and sat back down. "I like you Aphis. I tell you what I'm willing to do, I'll give you a crate of weapons grade, refined naquada, you give me the tablet, and your cipher."

"I can't do that."

"Look, you can't get to the treasure, which makes that tablet worthless to you. Take the naquada, that should get your master some respect. I'll even throw in an Al'kesh I've been holding on to. I know Barinthus must be going crazy stuck here on this rock."

"I don't know. I'll have to get his approval."

Vala stood again, her hands on the table. "I'm leaving in the morning. You have until then."

Of course, she could just steal the tablet, but it would be easier to translate with the cipher. She knew just enough about Ancient to know she couldn't translate it herself. In fact, she only knew one person who could.

Unfortunately, he wasn't likely to help her, if the way their last interaction had ended was any indication. She'd taken the time since then to do some research. Daniel Jackson was not the same man she had known all those years before. She only had the vaguest sketch of his life since the Earth had gotten it's Stargate to work, and it was easy to see why he'd changed.

Still, if the treasure was as big as Aphis claimed, it would have significant historical value, and that was something the Daniel Jackson she knew wouldn't be able to walk away from. She just needed to make sure he didn't side line her before they got to it…and for that, Vala knew exactly what she needed. She just needed to get them.

She left the tavern, confident that in the morning she'd unload the Al'kesh that had kept a mark on her back for months, as well as the naquada she'd smuggled out of Lucian Alliance territory and be well on her way to a return trip to Earth and a chance to see if she could salvage anything of the old friendship…and get her hands on ancient treasure while she was at it.

It took more time than she anticipated, finding a way to contact Earth and Daniel. And when she had, Vala had a moment of hesitation, after all, she had no way of knowing whether Daniel would even see her, or whether they'd put her in prison for the attempt to steal their ship.

It was a run in with the Lucian Alliance that pushed her into keeping the meeting though, because she knew that they would never pursue her to Earth. She was alone then, on the designated planet when a group came through the Stargate wearing the familiar uniforms of the US Air Force.

"I'm Major Hadden, of SG12, our orders are to make sure you're not carrying weapons and escort you through the gate."

"It must be my lucky day." Vala said, holding up both hands. She giggled as one of them felt over her tight fitting leather, as if she could hide anything in that outfit. One of them picked up the case she'd left at her feet, and she reached for it, opening it herself. "No offense boys, but I'll hold on to that if you don't mind."

"She's clean, sir."

"Alright, dial us home."

Vala waited for the gate to swoosh open, glancing behind her. She was going home, something she hadn't believed possible even a few months before.

She took a deep breath and stepped through the gate, into a large metal room with a dozen guns leveled at her. She raised an eyebrow as she stepped down the ramp. "Well, don't you all have me surrounded." Vala said with amusement, raising her hands.

"Welcome to the SGC. I'm General Landry."

"Vala. Vala Mal Doran." She stopped at the end of the ramp, glancing over her shoulder at the men following behind her. "Thank you so much for the lovely greeting party. We all had a wonderful time searching each other, didn't we, boys." Vala felt eyes and turned to the man beside the general. "I know we haven't met. That I'm sure I would remember."

"Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell," the general offered and Vala smiled.

The man cocked his head to one side and clearly gave her the once over. "Nice outfit."

"Thanks!" Vala stepped through them, looking around the room. Daniel was nowhere to be seen. "While I would normally be thrilled to have so much testosterone at my disposal…Where's my Daniel?"

"He'll be joining us in just a minute." General Landry said. "He's busy at the moment. Please, come this way."

Vala followed the General and the Lieutent Colonel out the door and up a flight of stairs into a room with a long table and a view of the gate. She set the case holding the tablet on the table and crossed to look out the window. She turned back just as Daniel came striding into the room, looking scruffy and annoyed. Vala smiled and took the few steps back toward the table.

"Okay, where is it?" Daniel asked.

Vala frowned. She'd expected some residual anger, but not flat out hostility. "Nice to see you too? How have you been?"

"The tablet! The one that leads to the 'incredible Ancient buried treasure.'" Daniel practically growled.

It bothered her enough to be difficult. "There is no tablet."

"What?" Daniel was furious, she could see it.

She smiled. "I lied. I had to tell you in person this time. I'm pregnant." Mitchell was gaping at her, but Daniel clenched his fists and glared. "Pretty sure it's yours, anyway. There's at least a one in……hmm…ten chance?" She winked at Mitchell and watched Daniel spin on his heel to leave. He stopped in the doorway and turned back, his face all scrunched up.

"Wait. This time?"

She shrugged and he stalked back toward her. "What are you saying?"

"You always were too gullible for your own good." Vala said. Daniel headed for the door again, but this time Landry called him back.

"Dr. Jackson! You're the reason we let her through the gate."

"I'm sorry, sir. I really have to finish packing…"

Landry stood and adjusted his uniform, stepping around Daniel. "The Daedalus doesn't leave for another 12 hours. At least have a look."

Mitchell opened the case and Vala lifted the tablet out of the case. Daniel looked dejected as he came back to the table and stood next to Mitchell. She offered the tablet to Daniel and he snatched it from her hand, looking over and then shaking his head. "Yep, I don't know where you got this, but uh, you got ripped off. It's complete gibberish." He handed it back, but Vala just crossed her arms.
"It's written in code."

Daniel sighed and looked it over again as Mitchell stood to look over his shoulder. "Well, I can't crack this in a few hours."

Vala smiled. "I know the cipher."

Daniel was clearly less than impressed, grinding his words between his teeth as he spoke. "Then why do you need me?"

"Well, reading it is one thing, understanding it is another. The individual I got this from assured me that the treasure it describes is here on Earth. Now, I could have come by ship and looked for it myself, but that was always your area of expertise."

"My area of expertise." He pinched the bridge of his nose. "In other words, you couldn't get a ship that would make the journey and you wouldn't know where to start."

She shrugged. "I was always better at finding things that were…less hidden."

Daniel licked his lips, but Vala could tell he was intrigued. "Fine, but I'm leaving on the Daedalus in twelve hours."

"Then we better hurry."

Daniel huffed and looked up at her, seeming to give in. "Come on."

She grabbed the case and followed him through maze like corridors to an elevator and then through more corridors until they finally entered an office that was in quite a state of disarray. Boxes sat, some taped shut, others half full. Artefacts bearing tags were grouped together. "Don't touch anything." Daniel said as he went to the table in the center with the tablet. "So, where did you get this?"

Vala set the case down on the table, then continued inventorying the room. "The Jaffa may have won their freedom, but there's still more than a few Goa'uld out there. Most of them have lost their dynasties, though, and they're either on the run or in hiding.

"Yeah, no doubt plotting some means of regaining their power."

"Yes, and in the meantime, they are having a lot of trouble maintaining the lifestyle to which they've grown so accustomed over the last 5,000 years or so. As such, there are a number of rather interesting artifacts currently on the market."

She circled back to his side of the table, watching him closely. "Anyway, that isn't the issue. The question is, what's it worth?"

"Well, the Ancients aren't exactly known for secret stashes of gold." He set the tablet down and pulled the case closer, frowning at the remaining pieces. "Like these, for example." He lifted one, tilting it to the light and looking confused. Vala reached for the other one, sliding a little closer. "Wait, these markings are Goa'uld. If the treasure is supposed to be ancient, what do these have to do with it?"

"These are actually only loosely related to the tablet." Vala said coyly.

"Yeah? How?"

"Have you ever heard of the Goa'uld Nut?"

"As in cashew? Pea? Oh, you mean the Egyptian sky goddess?" He was clearly annoyed and her window was going to close soon if she didn't make a move. "No, never heard of her."

"Well, these were her ceremonial marriage bracelets. She wore one and her husband of the moment wore one."

That at least had interested him a little and he studied the bracelet a little closer. "Of the moment."

"Yes, she had many. It's one of the few admirable things about her." Vala was close enough now and she slapped the bracelet in her hand over Daniel's wrist, snatching the other one from him and stepping back.

"Ow. What are you doing?" He tried to pull the bracelet off, struggling and grunting as he stepped back toward the door. "Security."

Two men entered, their guns drawn. Daniel kept struggling, then held his wrist out to her. "Okay, that was fun. Now take it off."

"Not until we find the treasure." Vala answered.


"These bracelets…" She slapped the matching bracelet down on her wrist, holding it up for him to see, "link us together. The tablet is mine, and I want my fair share of what it leads to. "

Of course, nothing ever really worked out the way she planned it, and Daniel managed to rebuff every effort she made at reconciliation, even told her she was not to mention anything about their previous relationship to anyone.

It might not have been so bad if they had actually followed through and given her a portion of the treasure once they'd found it or if the bracelets had actually worked the way the Jaffa she had stolen them from had told her they did and she hadn't found herself linked to a man who wanted absolutely nothing to do with her.

Daniel had kicked her out of his office, again and she was moping in the mess hall when Mitchell came in. "What's the matter, Jackson kick you out again?"

"You know, it didn't used to be like this. There was a time he actually wanted me around."

Mitchell grabbed a bottle of water and straddled the chair opposite her. "Oh really, when was this? While you were stealing Prometheus?"

She crossed her arms and sat back, forgetting for the moment that she was sworn to secrecy. "Before that, before Qetesh."

That got his attention. "Wait a minute, you're saying you knew Jackson…" He seemed to be doing math in his head. "No, that can't be right. That would have been before the Stargate was even operational."

Vala played idly with the bits of torn napkin on her tray, nodding. "Oh, yeah…years before. First time I saw him, I---" Suddenly Daniel's angry face filled her mind and she stopped, wide eyed. "I mean, obviously I'm just making up stories. It's what I do. I have to go."

She stood and made for her room, but he was right behind her. "Not so fast."

She put both hands on his chest and pressed her lips together. "If he finds out I said anything, he's going to kill me. He already hates me."

"He doesn't hate you." Mitchell countered, resuming following her as she tried to get away.

"He does. I can't really say that I blame him, the way I left."

"You lived on Earth before." Mitchell said.

She stopped, dropping her shoulders in defeat. "I grew up on Earth, if you must know. Daniel and I met in a foster home. There, satisfied?"

"Not in the least. What's the story?"

Vala drew herself up, determined to at least retain something of the secret. "You'll have to ask him. I'm not saying."

She opened the door to her room and closed it behind herself without looking back. She huffed and paced the confines of her room before crossing to the table where there was a small stack of clean clothes that had been offered to her for her stay. Most of it was the drab military clothes she was already wearing, but then a flash of red caught her eye. She pulled some slinky lingerie out of the stack and an idea began to form.

She had tried to reach Daniel with the puzzle, with the mystery, with everything but her best asset. Maybe if she could get him to see past her previous betrayals with a more physical approach, she could finally make this work.

She waited until shortly before she expected Daniel to head back to his room and slipped out of hers with a robe on over the lingerie. She winked at the guard as she let herself into Daniel's room and slipped off the robe, sliding into his bed and pulling the covers up to hide herself.

She didn't have long to wait. Daniel opened the door and turned on the light, stopping cold when he saw her.

"Hello." Vala said in what she hoped was a seductive voice.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Daniel responded, his forehead scrunching up.

"Isn't this my room?" Vala asked sweetly.

Daniel waved at the door behind him, still frowning at her. "No, your room is across the hall with the guard in front of it." Daniel looked from her to the door and back again.

This wasn't exactly how she'd imagined this working. "Ah yes, they do all rather look alike, don't they? Anyhow, since I'm here, shall we make the best of it?" She threw the covers back and posed with a wink.

Daniel actually stepped backward and shook his head. "No, we shalln't."

Vala sat up, moving onto her hands and knees and crawling toward him. "Come on, Daniel. Remember how good it was? You and me, nothing between us but sweat…"

"I remember." Daniel said, moving away from the bed. "I also remember you leaving to chase some payday that probably never came."

It was Vala's turn to pull away. "As a matter of fact it didn't, because before I could get what was promised to me, I was invaded by a Goa'uld. Thanks for the reminder."

"Oh." Daniel looked like he'd actually forgotten that part, that no matter what she had planned, once Qetesh was in play, there was no way Vala was coming back to him. "I'm sorry."

She crossed her arms. "So am I." She felt ridiculous standing there like that, so she reached for her robe.

"Vala, wait." He reached for her, but she pulled away.

"No, Daniel, obviously it was too much to think that you might want to try to get that back again, that I'd be allowed to revisit the happiest time in my life…" She was actually choking up, and she didn't want to be that woman. She shoved her arms into her robe and pulled it closed.

"Vala, stop." She risked a glance up. He looked softer somehow, like maybe he was finally considering the possibility that maybe she wasn't playing some angle. "A lot has happened since then. I'm not the same man I was."

She pushed past him and opened the door. "Yeah, I've noticed." She started to walk away, but stopped, glancing over her shoulder at him. "I'm not the same either, Daniel. A lot has happened to me too. I loved you once. I thought maybe you'd felt the same. I guess I was wrong." She closed the door and hurried across the hall to her own room.

She heard Daniel call her name, but she ignored him, closing the door behind her as the tears started to fall.

"I told you, it was a bad idea letting him come here and you can't trust a single thing he says." Vala argued.

"It wasn't my call." Daniel argued back, taking the folder from her again. "Why don't you do something ….else. Somewhere else. Sam should be here--"

"Right about now."

Vala whirled and stumbled back a step, her mind suddenly going a little blank. Daniel didn't seem to have the same problem, hugging the newcomer with a wide smile. "Sam, it's good to see you."'

"You too." They separated and Sam turned to Vala, her eyes bright and sparkling. "Hello Vala."

"Sam…Samantha…I didn't make the connection." Vala said, still stunned.

"I wasn't sure you'd remember me." Sam said, turning slightly pink and tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

Vala took a hesitant step forward, her face heating up too. "How could I…you…"

"Wait, you two know each other?" Daniel asked.

"It was a long time ago." Sam said. "And it's a long story that we don't have time for right now. We have an Ori incursion to stop." Sam smiled and the heat in Vala's face increased. "When we get back."

Vala didn't even know how to respond, so she just nodded.

"How did you do that?" Daniel asked as they headed out of the room. "I've been trying to get her to shut up for weeks."

Vala didn't even rise to the jibe, she was too busy analyzing the heat in her stomach and other places. Samantha Carter was the last person she'd expected to run into. When they'd said goodbye, Samantha was off to the Air Force Academy, sure, but somehow Vala always imagined her in the public space program, not something so secret as the Stargate program.

It wasn't until she was finishing getting into her gear that Vala looked up to find that she and Sam were alone in the locker room. "You haven't said much." Sam observed.

"You caught me by surprise." Vala said, smiling. "A good surprise."

Sam grinned. "The first time Daniel told me your name, I could only think about that last day, before you left." Her cheeks turned pink. "But, it was so long ago. I really wasn't sure if you'd remember." She bit her lip in that same adorable way she had all those years before.

Vala stood and crossed to her side. "I've thought of you often," she said softly. "I've missed you often."

"I meant what I said, when we get back, I want to spend some time catching up."

"I'd like that." Vala agreed.

Vala realized just a little too late that her heroic act, while successful, was not going to end well for her. She stumbled into the ring transporter, but knew as the energy crackled around her, she was going to be lucky to live through it.

Lightning arced around her as the rings activated and Vala closed her eyes, praying just to live through it. Everything around her exploded and she felt like she was being sucked into a dark hole…and then there was nothing.

Her next awareness was one of pain. She was stretched and broken, pieces held together by skin. Which meant she was alive. She opened one eye, but the light was too much and there wasn't much to see.

The pain overwhelmed her and she fell back into the depths of dark punctuated by voices calling her name, voices she thought she should know, but none of them came close enough to hold on to.

She wasn't sure exactly what brought her up from the dark next, but everything was different. She could tell she was in a soft bed, with warm blankets. She still hurt. Like her body had been pulled in all directions until everything snapped back together.

Vala opened her eyes slowly, hoping to find herself in the infirmary as she had so many times before, but instead of the sterile surroundings and Daniel's grumpy face, she was in a room that was vaguely familiar, rustic and simple. She heard a door open and turned her head.

The man who stood there looked surprised, but he smiled. "You're awake. I was beginning to worry." He carried a tray into the room and set it on the bed beside her legs. "I knew the Ori would not have sent you to me only for you to die."

Vala swallowed hard. "The Ori?"

He smiled again. "I was walking and found you lying unconscious on the ground. I knew that the Ori had sent you to me. I brought you here and I have cared for you. I will continue to care for you until you are well again."

"I…thank you." Vala said, her head reeling. If she'd been sucked through the wormhole…she could actually be in the Ori's galaxy. Which might explain how she was feeling. That kind of a journey by rings could likely do some damage to a body. "You may have saved my life. I'm Vala."

He smiled and blushed lightly. "I am Tomin. I brought some water for you and a warm broth, if you're able." He came around the side of the bed and helped her sit up before pulling the tray closer. He sat gingerly beside her and lifted the cup of water. "I've only managed to get a small amount into you these last few days."

She sipped at the water, taking almost half of it before sitting back. "How long have I been here?"

"It will be three days come this afternoon." Tomin said. "Would you like to try the broth?"

Vala nodded and let him help her drink it, but she was already feeling tired and it seemed Tomin understood. "You should rest more. I will leave you the water, and be just downstairs, should you need anything."

Vala bit her lip, pacing the small kitchen area, uncomfortable in the clothes Tomin had brought her. She mostly had her strength back, but there was something else not right. Well, that was an understatement. The whole situation was completely in the category of not right.

There was Seevis, who she half expected to come storming through the door to haul her into the square for a proper burning. There was Tomin, who was hopelessly doe eyed over her and believed anything and everything she said without fail.

And there was the fact that she was increasingly becoming convinced that she was pregnant. Which made even less sense than any of the rest. She was fairly certain that she would remember having sex at any point in recent months, but considering that her last attempt had ended in tears…

She knew she'd have to do something and the only thing that made logical sense, not that any of it did, was to get Tomin to sleep with her so she could at least pass that off as the reason she was pregnant. Which was going to mean convincing him to marry her, because she was pretty sure it was the only way he'd touch her.

And somehow, she had to find her way back to her own galaxy.

She inhaled slowly and let it out. One thing at a time. Don't die because you're impossibly pregnant.

It was a huge risk, but one she had to take. She held her stomach as she sat down at the table and put the stone into the device. Almost instantly she was looking at Daniel's face in the mirror. "Right. Sam." She finished washing his hands and dried them, glancing around the locker room. "Don't get distracted, Vala," she mumbled, but she stopped when she saw Mitchell just finishing shaving. She smirked at him in the mirror above him, tilting her head.

"Jackson? Is there something I should know?"

She was tempted, but she knew that she was in danger and could be discovered at any moment. She rolled her eyes. "Get dressed. I need you to come with me to find Sam."

She was surprised how easy it was to convince them that it was her, but then, Sam was brilliant. She wasted as little time as possible, well, other than asking for food, and having to back track after Mitchell told her to fast forward.

"They are building ships and armies by the tens of thousands. The village I am living in is one of many, on a world among dozens like it." She shook her, well, Daniel's head. "Even Tomin has been conscripted. They healed his limp and everything. He's so…gentle and trusting and they're going to turn him into a killer." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Sam smiled at her when she opened her eyes again. "Since you've been gone, we've learned a few things about the Ori that their followers might be interested to know."

"It doesn't matter what the truth is about the Ori. The people won't hear it, no matter what you say." Vala said.

"Obviously, some of them are suspicious enough to form a resistance." Mitchell said.

"You're talking about a handful of people compared to millions who wouldn't know the truth if it were standing right in front of them. It's all lies and propaganda as far as they're concerned. We're wrong, they're right. They're good, we're bad. We must worship the Ori or die, and they will fight until we are dead or they are. Period." It was hopeless, and she knew it. "Even the underground knows they can't win this, not on their own. They tried to blow up the ships, but someone must have found out. Nothing happened."

"So how are you using the stones?" Sam asked.

"The underground had spies in Celestus that smuggled them and the device out. The ships are working, I saw them just this morning. And Tomin." Her breath caught in her chest and she had to force air out and breathe in again. "His last words to me before going out to the ships were that a day of reckoning was coming for all those who were raised by evil."

"When you say 'day of reckoning'…" Mitchell said, turning to look at Sam.

"We've heard numerous reports of the Priors in this galaxy warning of an impending doomsday." Sam offered.

"A day when all who have renounced the Ori will feel their wrath." Teal'c added.

"We knew the Priors were just the first wave. The real Crusade is about to begin. The ships are planning to leave." Vala said.

Sam looked worried. "But that would mean—"

Vala nodded. "Somewhere out there the Ori have a working Supergate."

She had thought it would be harder to convince Tomin, and for that matter, the Priors to let her come aboard the ships. She hadn't quite figured out yet that she was nothing more than a pawn in their game, a means of circumventing the unwritten rules of ascended beings…provided they really did have rules and weren't just fucking with everyone's heads.

That understanding came as the labor started, and the child she was unwillingly carrying began to rip its way out of her body, as she finally expelled the child and the nurses brought along to see her through labor and delivery summarily left with the child, leaving her bleeding and wanting to hold her to be told that her child was some kind of Ori savior.

Now though, now it was painfully obvious that while she may have given birth to the child standing…STANDING in front of her, Vala had been nothing more than a convenient vessel for the Ori to come to this galaxy in the form of a human spokesman. Child.

Although at the rate she was growing, she wouldn't be a child long.

"I know why you believe what you do. The Ancients are the ones who have lied to you. They are the ones who long ago tried to destroy the Ori for their beliefs. Not the other way around. Only the Ori share all they learn. The Ancients have kept the basic truths of your existence from you." She was very passionate for a child less than a day from being born.

Vala stood and moved toward the door. Behind her, Adria stood as well. "They have hoarded their knowledge and been dishonest about everything! Contrary to what they've told you, the Ori most certainly do ascend their followers. And the Ancients are the ones sapping energy from humans in this galaxy, to empower themselves! That is why they created you. To give them the strength to destroy the Ori once and for all. That is why all those who cannot be made to see the true Path, must be destroyed, or all will be lost…to evil."

Vala was irritated and was starting to have a better appreciation for her own parents and what she must have been like as a child. She took a deep breath. "Are you saying this is a preemptive strike? It's self-defense?"

Adria crossed her arms and tilted her head just so. It was a posture Vala knew well. "It matters not what you call it. The cause is just, and the truth will see us through to victory."

"Do you really believe that? Or are you just hoping I will?"

That at least seemed to give her pause. "Why don't you believe me, Mother?"
Vala sighed. Maybe it was because she was the Orici, whatever that was supposed to mean, or maybe it was because she was also Vala's daughter. "I don't know."

"You choose to take the word of an Ancient over your daughter. What have the Ancients done to earn your trust?"

"About as much as you." Vala responded.

Adria was clearly annoyed with her as well. "In the end, only you can decide the fate of your own soul."

Vala nodded. "At least we agree on something."

She let herself out of the room, rubbing at her forehead as she made her way through the halls to her own. She opened the door, wanting to scream her frustration out or something, but knowing it wouldn't do her any good and could get her into more trouble.

The door was no sooner closed than she sensed she wasn't alone and she whirled around, blinking several times when she found a man in a hood standing behind her with a gun. Before she could even scream, a hand pushed the hood back and revealed Daniel. She frowned and opened her mouth to say something, but he beat her to it.

"Long story."

"Are you alone?" Vala asked, hoping he would say no and that there was some plan underway to stop the Ori and rescue her.

"Yes. What happened to you?"

She frowned, looking from him to the gun he's still pointing at her."What do you mean?" His eyes moved pointedly to her belly and back up at her and understanding dawned on her. "Oh! I had a baby." She moved away from the door. "You know, I never thought I'd agree with my grandfather, angry old coot, but now I'm starting to remember about how he used to go on about 'you nurture them, and then you raise them, and you teach them the best that you can, and then all they do is break your hearts.' I always assumed that his experience was just tainted by me."

Daniel dropped the gun and made a face. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, she started of out all sweet and innocent to begin with, and now she's hell-bent on domination of the galaxy."

"What? How old is she?"
"A few hours." She shook her head. "The Ori used me to sneak one of their own over the border. This child is their way of cheating the ascended rulebook. Well they couldn't exactly encroach on our galaxy themselves without getting into a confrontation with the Ancients, right?"

Daniel nodded, but still looked confused.

"So they created their own human representative, with their knowledge, to lead their armies."

"Sort of an uber-Prior, like the Doci?" Daniel asked.

"Oh, but she's much worse than that! The Priors are just pawns. She knows the score. She's complicit with the Ori. You should have heard the propaganda that she just tried to feed me."

"Wait, wait, wait. We're talking about a baby here, right?"

"Oh, she's been genetically altered. She'll be a fully grown figurehead in a day or so."

"This is bad." Daniel said, shaking his head now too. "This is bad."

"Hello, I'm the one who's been living with that….child inside me. After saving your collective asses, I might remind you."

Daniel sighed and hung his head. "Yes, and we were all very grateful. Do you have any idea where we're going?"

Vala bit her lip for a moment. "No. That she wouldn't tell me. She knows I'm not on her side. She's still hoping I'll see the light. But part of her can't help but feel tied to me. She wanted me to give her a name."


"Adria. Told her it was my mother's."


"First foster mother. Witch of a woman." Vala paced, going over her last encounter with Adria in her mind. "She has the knowledge of Ascended Beings, twisted as it may be, but I sense that there is a part of her that is just like any other kid, that wants her mother's approval. So I'm hoping I can use that somehow. I mean, why else would she care what I think, right?"

"Well, right now I'm a little more concerned about getting off this ship. I mean, there's only so long I can hide."
Vala could hear Tomin coming and saw his shadow at the door. "Hide."



Daniel jumped and rolled off the far side of the bed and slid under it just as the door opened. Tomin looked like he was ready to fall down he was so tired. Vala smiled at him. "Hi. Long day?"

Tomin rubbed over his face and seemed to sag as he took a step toward the bed. "Uh, I'm exhausted. Uh, I see you're up and around."

Vala tried to distract him when he looked like he was going to circle the bed, but when he didn't respond, she got aggressive, pushing him back onto the mattress and climbing on top of him, grinning down at him. "Yes, I'm much better." She kissed him playfully, and while he didn't respond enthusiastically, he didn't push her off of him either.

That was progress of a kind. All she needed to do was keep him distracted enough that he didn't realize Daniel was there…without resorting to anything that would be difficult between them later. She didn't have to worry about that at least. Tomin was too tired and she ended up with her head in his lap as they spoke of her disbelief and his devotion.

"Why are you here with me if you doubt my devotion?" Vala asked softly.

"Because I love you. Because I'm still hoping I can save your soul." Tomin responded, leaning down to kiss her softly.

The lighting changed suddenly and sirens started to sound. Tomin helped her sit up and stood. "What is it? Where are you going?"

"I'm called to duty." Tomin nodded to her and left.

Vala rubbed her forehead. "And here I was hoping I could save him."

Daniel was up and moving around. The ship was slowing and in the hallways she could hear the sounds of men marching.

"Not much of a firefight." Daniel observed from the window.

Vala moved to open the door and peek out. A column of soldiers marched by. She watched for a minute, then closed the door and turned back to Daniel. "Looks like the ground incursion is about to begin ."

Daniel looked over his shoulder at her. "We're on Chulak." He took a step away from the window and turned to her. "With most of the warriors out there fighting Jaffa, we might be able to get off the ship undetected."

"We have an opportunity here." Vala said, gesturing toward Adria's room down the hall.

"Yes, I was thinking that, but we don't know what powers that child might have."

Vala licked her lips, not sure where the sudden urge to protect the child was coming from. "She is the key to the whole invasion. If we could somehow capture her, take her with us, turn her against the Ori, then she would become the most powerful weapon we could have against them."

Daniel looked unconvinced. "That's a big if."

"You got anything better?" Vala asked, knowing the answer was no. "Look, I know we need to think about getting out of here, and far be it from me to argue against self-preservation, but she's only going to get stronger and more powerful as she gets bigger."

Daniel nodded, still not looking entirely convinced. "Okay, we try it, but--"

Vala didn't wait for him to finish. "You're going to need a better disguise."

As plans went, it wasn't her best, she knew that. It might have worked if Tomin hadn't come in, if…No, she wasn't going to kid herself anymore. They were lucky to have lived. If Daniel hadn't grabbed her when he did she would be dead, like the rest of Chulak.

She wiped the stray tear away and rubbed the bandages on her stomach. There was a part of her that knew Daniel was right, he should have shot Adria when he had the chance. And yet, there was another part of her that wanted to save Adria, to somehow reach through to the human child under all of the Ori programming.

Vala sniffed and wiped her eyes as the door opened and Sam peeked in. "Can I come in?"

Vala smiled and pushed herself up a little straighter. "Sam."

"Are you okay?" Sam asked as she got close enough that she could tell Vala had been crying.

Vala nodded. "I will be. It's been a tough couple of months."

Sam lifted her hip to sit on the end of the bed. "I can only imagine."

Vala ran her fingers over her cheeks and up through her hair, realizing she must look frightful. "Not exactly how I wanted this reunion to happen." Vala said, shaking her head.

Sam's hand was on her thigh and even through the thin infirmary blankets Vala could feel the heat of her skin. "You look great." Sam assured her. "Considering everything you've been through in the last forty eight hours, you look…incredible." She smiled and blushed a little. "We should be back on Earth soon."

"And then what?" Vala asked softly.

"And then we try to find a way to fight, we find their weakness." Sam said, just as quietly. "It's what we do."

"Maybe you didn't see what I saw out there. The Ori don't seem to have much in the way of weakness." Vala said, a little more bitterly than she meant to.

Sam's hand rubbed her thigh and Vala looked up. She had forgotten how beautiful Samantha Carter was. Even here, with the terrible lighting and the galaxy at war and all the years between them, somehow Vala felt like she did at nineteen, laying on the grass with Sam on that last day.

Sam cleared her throat and Vala blinked. "I'm sorry. I was staring." Vala said. "You--I'd forgotten how beautiful you are."

Sam blushed more and moved her hand to cover Vala's. "You know, when Daniel first told me your name I was sure it couldn't really be you, but then I thought, 'how many Vala Mal Dorans can there be?'…turns out, only one."

Vala turned her hand under Sam's, pressing their palms together. "I'm sorry." Vala said, surprising herself.

"For what?" Sam asked, tangling their fingers together.

"I lied to you." Vala said, swallowing hard. "When I left…I was…" She blinked and pulled her hand free. "I didn't want to be the one who got left. Again." She blinked at sudden tears and shook her head, angry at herself. She was never this emotional before…though she wasn't sure before what. Before Adria? Before Qetesh? Before Daniel in Egypt? Before she fell in love?

"I knew you were lying." Sam said softly. "You were scared. I was terrified. But I've never been sorry about anything between us. Those six months changed me."

Vala sniffed, not sure she believed her. "Yeah?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah." She eased off the bed. "I should let you get some rest. I need to get back to work. I'll come by later."

"I'll be here." Vala called after her, watching the door close. There was a warm feeling in her stomach, like coming home. She hadn't felt that in a very long time.

Vala felt a little odd in her borrowed dress, but as Sam smiled and they were shown to a table, she told herself to relax. It was a simple evening out. Everything had been so busy and their fight against the Ori so dismal, that taking any time away from it had seemed ridiculous. Until Sam had come to her door and offered to take her out, so that they could talk.

"Thank you." Sam nodded to the host as he held her chair, then did the same for Vala.

They were offered menus, and Vala took hers while looking around the room. "Fancy."

Sam smiled. "I wanted someplace nice."

"You remember that place we went to after you left your prom date?" Vala asked. "It wanted to be this place when it grew up."

Sam laughed and put her napkin in her lap. "With their paper placemats?"

"And the fake flowers on the tables." Vala said laughing. "I like this place better. And I don't mind telling you, I've been looking forward to this little date all week."

Sam sort of fidgeted in her chair. "I don't know that I'd call it a date, exactly."

Vala looked at Sam who was suddenly very interested in her menu. "Not a date? What is it then?"

"Do we have to name it? Can’t it just be two friends having dinner?"

"In a nice romantic restaurant?" Vala's heart was pounding a little harder than it had been. She hadn't been lying about looking forward to this night. A chance to finally go past the small talk and idle flirting.

Sam put down her menu with a sigh. "Look, Vala--"

"Good evening, can I get you ladies started with a drink this evening?"

"Oh, I think you can." Vala responded, grabbing the drink menu.

"Tonight's featured martinis are the chocolate, passion fruit, and shochu plum."

Vala avoided looking at Sam, just smiled up at the waiter. "They all sound wonderful. So… one of each, then?"

Sam took the drink menu from her hands. "Yeah, no. She'll have the chocolate. I'll just have water."

"Great, I'll get that started while you look at your menus."

He walked away and Vala lifted her menu to look at it. "Vala…"

"You always were a little bossy." Vala said, peering around the menu at her. She kicked herself mentally. She wasn't trying to put Sam on the defensive.

"Bossy? Me?" Sam put her menu down to look at her. "You know, Daniel may be more right about you than I've been willing to admit."

Vala put her menu down too, irritated at more than herself now. "Daniel? What does he have to do with …with this." She moved her hand back and forth between them.

Sam nodded. "Okay, let's start there. I know there's history there."

Vala's mouth fell open and she partially turned away, trying to follow how the conversation had gone so spectacularly wrong so quickly. "Daniel. Right." She licked her lips and wished for her drink for a distraction. "Is this…jealousy?" Vala asked, incredulously.

Sam sat back, looking startled. "What? No. What would make you think…" She sighed and pressed her lips together. "Look, you've known Daniel a lot longer than me. You have…connections I can't lay claim to. I don't…" She stopped as the waiter returned with their drinks.

"Are you ready to order, or do you need a minute?"

"Give us a minute." Sam said, smiling at him.

He walked away and Vala lifted her drink, taking a sip. Sam hadn't picked badly, it was quite tasty.

Sam cleared her throat. "What I mean is, I can't help but notice that it was Daniel you came back to Earth for, it's been Daniel you've been flirting with. If Daniel is who you want, I don't want to…I don't want to come in here with some school girl expectations that something that lasted six months, twenty years ago can just go back to being real."

Vala was quiet for a second, then looked up at Sam. "Nineteen," she corrected. She reached across the table to take Sam's hand, making sure that she caught her eye at the same time. "Nineteen years, three months, tomorrow."

Sam blushed, her eyes dropping to their joined hands as Vala rubbed a thumb over the back of her knuckles. "What? You remembered that?"

"There are a lot of things in my life that I would prefer to forget, Samantha, but you are not one of them…and neither is that day. I have regretted that day every single day since."

"Oh." Sam said, glancing down. "Me too. I mean…I think about it a lot."

"I was with you for six months. I've never been with anyone longer. Even Daniel. Yes, I've known him since we were kids. We lived in the same foster home for a little more than a year, then I found him one time I ran away and he hid me in the school basement for a week or so. And, in full disclosure, I ran into him in Egypt before he got his first PhD, and we spent a week together. And yes, we had sex and it was good…and if things had been different, I might have gone back and been with him, but I ended up a long way from him or you with no way back…until I found him by accident again."

"Um. Excuse me?" They both looked up and Vala dropped Sam's hand.

"Right. Our order. I'll have the penne with chicken." Vala said, smiling and handing the waiter her menu.

Sam was positively radiant with blush as she followed suit with her menu. "I'll have the same."

The waiter was also a rather adorable shade of red as he walked away and Sam laughed. "So, where does that leave us?"

Vala bit her lip for a second. She hadn't fully articulated her feelings in a long time. "How about, at the beginning? Like the first time?"

Sam raised an eyebrow. "What, like dating?"

Vala nodded. "There are a lot of years since that last kiss, a lot of new things to learn about each other."

Sam smiled. "I think I'd like that."

Vala couldn't help but smile too. "But first, I need to use the ladies room." She stood as Sam gestured back toward the front door. Vala took two steps away, but then swiveled back, taking Sam's face in her hands and pressing their lips together. "I thought we should get the first one out of the way." Vala said softly, grinning widely before she headed for the bathroom.

She was so caught up in the taste of Sam's lips she never noticed the man, or the needle until it was too late and she couldn't even cry out for help.
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