Title: Like a House On Fire
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Spoilers: Post-series for both B:tVS and Stargate SG-1
Summary: This one, Vala would have been tempted to wink and woo, had she met him in another situation. 1100 words.
Notes: Originally posted August 15, as part of the Twistedshorts annual challenge. Also for a prompt: Xander meets Vala away from the SGC or the Council while neither is in a relationship.
The thing was, while the death of the last Ba'al clone was the effective end of both the rule of the Goa'uld System Lords and the vast global conspiracy known as the Trust, it was not the end of the Goa'uld as a species. Both in the larger galaxy, and on the little backwater world known locally as Earth.
The last iteration of SG-1 had spent a few years stamping out the various fires that sprung up in the ruins formed by the collapse of not one, but two galaxy-spanning empires run by beings that claimed to be gods in close succession, then retired its designation as its members were reassigned to other duties. Vala had not been surprised to find that her new job involved picking up those last threads of the Trust and running them to ground, wherever they might hide.
Just like her old job, it comprised long stretches of boredom punctuated by bursts of adrenaline; and just like the job before that one, it made extensive use of her wits and wheedling skills. She saw less of Daniel than she'd have liked, in the course of the mission he referred to as her 'perpetual road trip'; but paradoxically, she thought that might be for the best. They'd settled into a solid friendship, once she was past desperately trying to earn the approval of the one man whose word had earned her sanctuary; once she had seen with clear eyes how very deeply he flinched from every kind of intimacy- their romantic incompatibility had never really been about her.
Well; it was his loss. And if that left her footloose and fancy free as she chased rumor, innuendo, and traces of naquadah through the teeming masses of Terra, perfectly able to wink and woo whomsoever she chose along the way and dish about cultural variations in flirtation to Daniel afterward on the phone... well, it lent verisimilitude to her cover, now didn't it?
Thus it was a self-satisfied Vala Mal Doran, largely comfortable in her skin for the first time in more years than she cared to count, who walked into the alley behind a grimly little bar in Africa and spied a pale-skinned, dark-haired man armed with a sword- unusual, on Earth- looming over an alarmed-looking young woman brandishing a pointy piece of wood as though she meant to fend him off with it.
She glanced between them, then slipped the zat'nik'atel she carried from under her jacket. The general wouldn't be happy; but then, he was the one who'd given her permission to carry it in case of emergency. The looming man didn't give off the naquadah ping of a Goa'uld host, but she could always claim later that she'd been mistaken.
She smiled grimly, then aimed at the man's torso. "You really don't want to do that," she spoke up, announcing her presence.
At the same time, unexpectedly, the young woman spied Vala over his shoulder and gasped. "Xander, behind you!"
The man- what kind of name was Xander, anyway?- spun, and his eyes- no, eye- widened as he caught sight of her in all her black leather ensemble and alien weaponry.
"What...?" he blurted.
"Put down your weapon and step away from the girl," Vala told him firmly. Was he dim?
He stared at her, deepening that impression; then glanced over his shoulder at the young woman, and at the sword in his hand... and abruptly dropped it as though it had burned him. "Oh. Oh! You thought... I know what it looks like, but we were both fighting. Uh, someone else. Someone else very bad, and we'd, ah, just chased him off before you appeared. But it's all good now!"
She noticed that despite disposing of the sword, he hadn't moved away from the girl, and clucked her tongue. "A likely story. I bet you say that to all the authority figures who interfere in your menacing of young ladies... not that I am one, you understand. An authority, that is. Just a concerned citizen, here. That's me."
The eye patch made him look vaguely- ah, what was the word Sam would have used? Piratey; that was it. He looked quite fit under his slightly baggy clothing, toned and slightly tanned and it really was quite unfortunate that he was probably evil. This one, she would have been tempted to wink and woo, had she met him in another situation.
He sighed, muttering something under his breath that reminded her of the way Daniel cast his eyes up and murmured 'why me?' Then he spoke up- to the girl. "It's all right; I'll handle this. Go find Vi; she should be a few alleys down, and I'm sure she'd welcome the help while I deal with our visitor."
The girl gave him an incredulous look, still seeming quite content to stand in such close proximity to the man who had been menacing her. "But Xander- she's not human!" she said, in a locally accented voice.
Vala's surprise that the girl seemed to recognize her was echoed in the sudden intensifying of his gaze. But his tone only grew more wry as he replied. "Well, she'd hardly be the first. It's okay; go on."
Vala frowned and let the zat'nik'atel droop toward the ground as the girl obeyed, frowning as she went. "I'm calling Buffy!"
"You do that, then," he called after her. Then he turned his full attention back to Vala.
"Now, where were we?" he said cheerfully.
"I was... threatening you, and I do believe you were challenging my assumptions," she replied, lightly. "Not a predator, then, I take it?"
He snorted. "Not the way you mean- though that's a more complicated question than you'd think."
"And what do you mean by that?"
"Well... turn around? And if show and tell doesn't do it, I'll be happy to discuss it with you over your beverage of choice, how's that?"
Show and...? she thought, curiously- then swallowed as a growl sounded behind her.
Well, then. A girl learned something new every day. And perhaps she could still get in a bit of wink and woo afterward, provided they both survived; appreciative banter and the promise of action were good signs, in her experience.
"We'll see about that," she replied, then turned and aimed... at a glowing-eyed, monstrous-looking being standing right behind her. Who also, interestingly, wasn't a Goa'uld.
Would Daniel ever be surprised when she called him that night.
She fired as Xander retrieved his sword, turning to face off against a second, abruptly appearing opponent.
Or... perhaps in the morning, instead.