Categories: Ship, Het, Drama, Romance, Episode Tag
Characters: Vala Mal Doran (primary), Daniel Jackson (primary), Jack O'Neill
Spoilers: Quest, The Shroud.
A/N: An alternate, or at least expanded, ending for The Shroud.
Credits: Beta by Anne Rose and Risti.
Disclaimer: MGM owns lots of cool stuff, but I only borrow the very best.
Jack hated this whole situation. SG-1 routinely overcame the odds, but this mission was insanely dangerous, even before considering the shaky credibility of the intel. Not that he doubted Daniel. But Daniel wasn't necessarily in the driver's seat, and he didn't like that one bit.
"General." Vala jogged up to him and caught his sleeve.
He paused to meet her gaze, thrown a bit by the fear he read in her expression.
"I don't trust that little weasel man." She caught her lower lip between her teeth and squeezed his arm. "Please, promise me you won't let anyone hurt Daniel."
"If anyone tries to hurt Daniel, I'll shoot them." He meant that. Woolsey would execute a member of his team over his dead body.
"Thank you." Vala squeezed his arm again. As if she really saw anything he did to protect Daniel as a personal favor. Then she smiled and stretched up to kiss him on the cheek. "I'll take care of Sam for you."
Jack watched her race off to join the rest of the team. So, Vala and Daniel, then. Interesting.
Vala perched on the edge of the bed and watched Adria's cruel changes fade from Daniel's face as he slept. She let her fingertips wander over his features, and a lump rose in her throat. They could have lost him. Adria was so powerful, so dangerous, she could have twisted his mind, taken control of him, or -- Vala swallowed hard and ran her fingers through his hair.
He was here. He was safe. That was what mattered.
Daniel could have died in at least a dozen different ways since she'd seen him last, or lost his mind to Merlin's device, or become Adria's puppet. The only worry that remained was any lingering effects of Merlin's device, so she really should have felt better -- and she did -- but she needed to talk to him.
She needed him to open his eyes and just be Daniel. That's when she'd feel better.
The others milled around the infirmary, talking in low voices and occasionally standing vigil on the other side of the bed, but for the most part, she ignored them. Not that she wasn't grateful for their comforting shoulder-squeezes and encouraging smiles, but Daniel's face occupied her full attention.
His breathing changed, finally, and General O'Neill leaned in to ruffle his hair.
Vala held her breath.
Of course Daniel had to deal with General O'Neill's concerns first, but then he turned to Vala and asked about Adria, and when his eyes met hers, another of the knots in her stomach relaxed. This was her Daniel. Then he gave her that tiny smile and squeezed her fingers, flooding her with warmth. She might have kissed him if the issues at hand weren't so damned important, and she might have even kissed him anyway, but Sam called them to the bridge.
More Ori ships. Vala felt just the slightest bit guilty for not caring more about that particular problem, but she'd put the fate of the galaxy first earlier, after all, and right now she was just too happy to have Daniel back to let anything else bother her.
Well, bother her much, anyway.
"I should go get dressed," Daniel said.
"Or undressed." Vala grinned at him and ran her fingers up his chest to fiddle with the infirmary gown.
He aimed his most adorable glare at her.
"What?" She made an attempt to look innocent, gave up and smiled even wider, and then trotted after him when he turned away to head down the corridor. She caught his arm.
"Vala -- "
She'd meant to say something about before, or she thought she'd meant to say something, but instead she threw her arms around him for a bruising hug, and she might have told him exactly how much she'd missed him if her throat hadn't tightened too painfully for any words at all.
His arms closed around her, and he felt warm, and he smelled like Daniel. His breath tickled her ear. It felt wonderful, and for a long moment, she just held on to him.
He rubbed her back gently.
"I'm sorry I couldn't believe you unconditionally," she said, finally drawing back enough to meet his gaze. "It's not that I don't trust you. Of course I trust you, Daniel, I trust you completely. But Adria -- "
"I know." He gently touched her face. "If not for Merlin I never would have been strong enough to fight her. You were right to keep your guard up, and I'm proud of you."
That damn lump rose in her throat again, because Daniel was smiling softly at her, and that felt so wonderful, but it also made the urge to tell him certain things even stronger, and she wasn't sure if she was quite brave enough to act on it.
"Well, Daniel, I'm proud of you," she said, swallowing the lump. "You struck the blow that will win the war, in the end, and what you had to face to do it -- " She swallowed hard again at the thought, then brightened. "I think you deserve a reward for your bravery." She grinned at him, grabbed a fistful of his shirt, and used it to drag him into the nearest room.
When she reached for his waistband, he grabbed her wrist. "Vala!"
"Oh come on, darling --
"Stop." The set of his jaw made this glare somewhat less adorable. "Can't you take anything seriously? Everything isn't about sex."
"Of course it's not, Daniel -- "
"Find some other way to amuse yourself, Vala. I'm tired of this game."
It stung, and her instincts said to flee, but if she walked away from him now, it would cost far more than her dignity. "It's not a game, Daniel."
"So you want to sleep together?" He threw his hands up in the air like the very suggestion was outrageous. "Then what?"
She shrugged helplessly, not because she didn't know exactly what she wanted, but because she was afraid to say it, and probably couldn't anyway without her voice breaking.
Whatever he was about to say died on his lips. He frowned and caught her hand. "Hey."
They studied each other for a long moment. She tried to find the courage to tell him exactly what he meant to her, and exactly what it had felt like to lose him. That only made her throat close up again, and her eyes well up with tears.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have snapped at you."
"It's not that," she managed.
"Vala, talk to me."
"You were gone for weeks, Daniel, and when we finally found you -- " She briefly closed her eyes against the memory. "And then that nasty little weasel-man wanted to kill you, and I had to leave on this mission. It was important -- so important, especially after what you suffered to give us this chance -- but walking away when I wanted to stay and protect you, that was the hardest thing I've ever done."
He studied her face until she almost had to look away, and then he kissed her. His lips were soft on hers, sending a shock of emotion through her that she felt everywhere, and he pulled her close, one hand resting on her back while the other cupped her face. After the gentlest, sweetest kiss she'd ever known, he pulled back to smile the most beautiful smile she'd ever seen.
When she recovered her senses, she grinned and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"We need to talk about this."
"If you need instructions, darling, just leave the hard parts to me."
He sighed. "Jokes aside, I think there are a few important steps -- "
"I don't need fancy dinners or roses or anything else, Daniel." She glanced away from him, and forced herself to say it. "I just need you."
"You have me," he said softly.
"Really." His hands floated up and down her back, and the look in his eyes made her chest tighten almost painfully. "You mean the world to me, Vala, and yes, I have been scared to death to admit it, even to myself, but now I have, and we don't need to rush things."
"Two years is hardly rushing." She stretched up to nip at his jaw, delighted when he gasped softly in response. "Let me show you how much I missed you, darling."
He smiled again, and trailed his fingers along her cheek. "As tempting as that is, I'm not exactly feeling my best. How about we have dinner, and maybe after a decent night's sleep -- "
"Well I did have a whole extra person in my head for -- how long?"
"Five weeks, three days, and six hours." She held him tighter. "But it felt like so much longer."
He kissed her on the temple and rubbed her back. "Let's go find something to eat."
Daniel was famished, but he could hardly pull his focus away from Vala to eat. Had she always looked at him that way? He suspected she had, and he'd missed it. He could see now that this thing between them hadn't been a game to her, at least not for a very long time, and he'd put too much energy into alternately ignoring and resisting her flirting to really notice.
Of course, trying to save the galaxy made for a pretty good excuse, but he knew better. He hadn't seen, because he'd been afraid to see. Love came at a price, and he'd paid dearly in the past.
"I missed you," he said. He had volumes he needed to say to her, but for now he just reached out and touched her cheek.
She laid her hand over his, just like she had weeks ago in the cave. He smiled at her, and she beamed. In avoiding his feelings, he'd denied himself the chance to really appreciate Vala's smile.
Vala could light up rooms with that smile. No, that cliché was inadequate -- she could light up planets. Whole planets.
He needed to kiss her, and he leaned closer to do just that, his heart pounding at the tiny sound she made as he pulled away.
"I thought you were hungry," she said, her voice soft.
"Then eat your dinner, silly."
"I'm not sure it's food that I want." He leaned toward her again.
She grinned, but laid a finger against his lips. "I'm all for that, darling, but when did you eat last?"
"I can't remember," he admitted. "But I do know it's been two years since we did this." He kissed her again, and that went on for a while.
"Actually, it's barely been ten minutes." She sounded a little breathless, and he liked it. "Not that I'm complaining."
The next kiss ended when his stomach growled loudly, and they both laughed softly.
"It's probably for the best," she said as they started to eat. "The others could walk in at any minute."
"You don't mind if they find out about . . . " Her words trailed off, and she bit her lip again.
"Vala, the others probably figured it out long before I did."
"Well, yes, but I didn't think you knew that." She smiled and patted his arm. "You can be a little thick sometimes, Daniel."
Vala drank in the sight of her Daniel, safe and sound at last. Not only that, but smiling at her, and pausing as he ate to touch her hand or her face. Even her thigh at one point. She didn't want the meal to end.
After dinner, they found some suitable quarters, and Vala lingered, fussing over Daniel as he settled in for the night.
"Vala, I'm fine," he said. "You don't need to -- "
"I want to." She bit her lip, and reached for his hand. "The truth is, Daniel, I just don't want to let you out of my sight."
He squeezed her fingers. "Then stay."
Her heart started pounding just a little bit faster as he slid over to make room on the narrow bed, and she curled up against his side.
He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her closer still, and she rested her head on his shoulder. The warmth of his body stole through her, and she thought she could be happy if she could just spend the rest of her life listening to him breathe. She laid a hand over his heart, so she could feel the steady beat against her palm, and savored the peaceful feeling that had eluded her so long.
"I could stay like this forever," she said softly, long after she guessed he'd drifted off to sleep.
Daniel kissed the top of her head, proving he was awake after all. "Me too."
Jack stuffed his hands in his pockets and headed down the corridor, his mind equally occupied with the threat of the Ori army and the possibility of doughnuts. He froze in his tracks at the sight before him.
Daniel emerged from a set of quarters, and paused to wrap his arm around Vala's waist as she emerged from the same set of quarters. The look that passed between them left little doubt as to what that all meant.
Jack smiled to himself. So, Daniel and Vala, then. Good.
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Stargate™©, Stargate SG-1™©, and related properties are Registered Trademarks of MGM Studios. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, September 2008.