Yes, yes, I have three other things to be working one, but I was bored and this would not get out of my head. It's just a Daniel/Vala one-shot that I had some fun with. It's season ten, post-Memento Mori, but I don't think there are any major spoilers or anything so go ahead and read away. :) I hope you all enjoy this fun romp, and please review and tell me what you think. Any reviews are eternally welcome, and constuctive responses are even more welcome. Thanks!

Shopping Bags

"How did I let you talk me into this?" Daniel sighed as he pulled his car into the parking lot at the mall in Colorado Springs.

Vala shrugged and grinned. "Because I have money now and I want to spend some of it."

Daniel's eyes rolled. "Just because you're an official part of SG-1 and get paid now doesn't mean you can go berserk--"

"I know, but I do need more regular earth clothes. I don't have much besides those boring green and blue things we wear around the base."

"But you don't go off base much anyway, so why do you need a bunch of other clothes?"

"Because I'm going to start going off base more," she said matter-of-factly.

He raised an eyebrow. "How?"

"You're going to teach me how to drive."

"I--what?" he said, blinking. But she didn't answer; she was already opening the door and hoping out of the vehicle. Daniel sighed and got out himself. "Who said I was going to teach you how to drive?"

"Teal'c suggested I ask you. He said you taught him, so why can't you teach me?"

"Vala, that was special circumstances. We were stuck in 1969, and we all needed to take turns driving so we could get where we needed to go in time so we could get back."

Vala crossed her arms. "So. You can still do it. Come on, Daniel, really. If I'm going to live on this planet, I need to know how to do what any normal adult here does."

He shook his head and steered her towards the entrance to the mall. "Fine. I'll think about it, okay? Now let's just get this over with…"

Vala didn't answer, but smiled and linked one of her arms with his.

"What are you doing?"

"We're a couple going to the mall together, Daniel. I've seen enough of your television to know how we should act," she announced happily.

Daniel pulled his arm away from her and stopped walking. "You used that line in the restaurant. Besides, we are not a couple," he stressed.

He'd been having to stress that point quite often ever since Vala had returned to them and regained her memory after being kidnapped by the Goa'uld Athena and her cronies. Whenever Cameron, Sam, Teal'c, General Landry or Dr. Lam saw him and Vala even in the same room they smirked or giggled and turned away, trying to hide it but only making it even more obvious that they thought the two were in at least some way.

"We are just two friends and co-workers out to the mall."

Vala stopped walking as well and put her hands on the hips of her jeans. "You used that line in the restaurant," she mocked, barely hiding another smile.

Daniel sighed heavily and turned his face to the sky. Why me? "Come on," he said finally, grabbing her arm and pulling her toward the door. She followed easily, grinning to herself.

"No. No way, Vala. I've been married before and I've never had to carry shopping bags for any woman. Why should I do it for you?" Daniel said defiantly, arms crossed.

Vala pouted from where she stood in front of him just outside of the store they had just come from. "Oh come on, Daniel, please? We still have half the mall to go through. I have to look, but my hands are full. I just need some help."

Daniel stared at her as she held out the bags in her hands. He knew there really wasn't any reason to protest. It was a simple thing she was asking him to do, just to help her carry her things. He would have done it for anyone else. He would have done it for Sam. He wished he could have brought Sha're to earth at least once, done it for her…but this was Vala.

If he carried Vala Mal Doran's shopping bags for her, he knew it would seem to her as if he was giving in, finally responding to her constant subtle advances on him, even if he made it clear he wasn't. But then again, wouldn't he be? It wasn't like he didn't care for her, but it wasn't that way. Or was it?

Finally Daniel shook the thoughts from his head and sighed heavily for the umpteenth time since he and Vala had arrived at the mall. He hesitated another moment before reaching out and snatching the bags from her.

"All right," he said irritably, to cover the confused emotions in his mind.

Vala's famous smile returned. "Thank you, Daniel," she said brightly. Then she shouldered her newly acquired purse and flounced around him, off toward the next store.

Daniel shook his head and watched her go, then hefted the bags to follow. He stumbled temporarily to a halt. He'd gathered that she was no weakling from the first time he'd met her and she had beat him to a pulp in the Prometheus's control room, but maybe she was a bit stronger than even he'd thought. They certainly hadn't looked this heavily when she'd been carrying them…maybe he needed to work out more.

Grunting initially as he picked up the bags again, Daniel plodded after Vala, still wondering how he had let her talk him into bringing her here.

Daniel dropped the bags on the ground just outside the dressing rooms of another store and leaned against the wall, taking up his usual posture of arms crossed over his chest as he waited for Vala. Why was he doing this? He could be back at the SGC, getting work done on translating the text from the artifacts SG-2 had brought back from P7R-365, but no--he was here, following Vala Mal Doran around a mall carrying her bags for her. Wonderful.

Sighing, once again he tried to delve into his mind to find the answer, and once again his inner defense systems shut down his efforts. He knew he knew why, in the back of his mind, but he refused to look there. Vala was a friend, someone he worked with and had to get used to despite her antics, and that was all.

"Daniel, how do you think this looks?" Vala's voice penetrated his thoughts.

Jackson looked up to see her coming out of the dressing room, wearing an outfit that he had to admit looked rather good on her. But of course he wasn't to tell her that.

"Why are you asking me?" he said instead, returning her question with one of his own.

Vala crossed her own arms. "Because I care what you think, Daniel."

He blinked. "You do?"

"Of course I do," she said in exasperation.

"You haven't asked me about anything until now," he stated blankly.

"I know, but I really like this one and I want to know what you thought. Now does it look all right or not?"

Daniel shrugged. "It's fine," he said, but he would admit nothing further.

"Good," she nodded, and then turned back into the dressing room and shut the door.

Daniel knocked his head back against the wall beside him. What was he setting himself up for?

As they left that store, Vala tried hooking her arm around his again, and for once Daniel let her. What was the point in making her stop? No one else they knew was here, so who cared what anyone else around them thought there relationship was. As long as later he made it clear to her once more that the restaurant had not been a date, and neither was this, there was no reason not to let her have her fun.

Not to mention that she was spending her own money, not his. He had no reason to let this little side trip frustrate him any more than it had to. Besides, his arms were too heavy with the bags to move much. He wouldn't have really been able to get her off him even if he'd wanted to unless he jerked away from her completely, which would just be mean.

"Where are you going now?" he asked curiously as Vala walked between the shops and larger stores, looking around. She'd already been to all of the bigger ones, and several smaller ones and vendors, and bought at least something in most places.

"I'm hungry," she announced. "Where does one get food around here?"

Daniel smiled. "I thought you watched a lot of TV. You should know that you get food in the food court in the mall."

Vala blinked. "Well, of course I knew, Daniel. I was just asking where it was in this mall…"

Sure you were, he thought, his grin widening at the triumph of finding something about pop culture she didn't know.

It became even more obvious that Vala hadn't known what a food court was when they got there. She stared in wonder at the more than a dozen choices they had in the way of food. Daniel led her to a table so they could set down their things before getting in any lines, and she continued to look around. He stood beside her in satisfaction, hands in the pockets of his jeans.

"So…what should we get?" she asked cluelessly. "There's a lot of Earth food I haven't tried."

He shrugged. "We could just get pizza."

Vala pulled a face. "Daniel, how much of that stuff do earth humans eat? I've had enough of it already. Not that it doesn't taste good, but really--I'd like to try something else."

"Suit yourself," Daniel replied. "Fine, like what? There's plenty here."

She looked again, and finally seemed to pick one at random. "All right, that one," she said, pointing to the Chinese food. "That looks interesting." Without hesitation she grabbed his arm again and pulled him toward it.

Within a few minutes they had their food and were sitting down, eating. Daniel had no problem with Chinese food, and Vala seemed to enjoy it--especially the shrimp that were in the rice. She thought they looked like Goa'uld larvae, with was actually rather accurate, and considering how much she hated the Goa'uld, it made sense she would like the thought of several being dead on her plate…though it made Daniel a bit sick to his stomach. Finally he'd been forced to tell her to stop commenting on what her food looked like and just eat it.

Vala had shrugged and obliged, and they had finished lunch in relative silence. Daniel had enjoyed the peace until she had jumped up, proclaiming she was finished and ready to resume shopping.

Sighing once again, he followed her as they threw away their empty food containers, picked up their things and kept going. In the back of his mind though, that thought, the one he knew was there but wouldn't accept, still had not gone away, and seemed to be growing as the day progressed. And as it grew, so did his awareness of it. Finally, as Vala scampered smilingly back to him from the cash register of another vendor, the thought pushed itself into the light and Daniel realized it for what it was: He was enjoying himself.

Where had that come from? How could he be enjoying himself while tramping around a mall following Vala Mal Doran when she wasn't hanging on him? Shaking his head to himself once more, Daniel continued to follow her.

Vala sighed in contentment as she settled back into the car seat again later that afternoon. She and Daniel had thrown her bags into the back seat. They had been at the mall for hours, and both were exhausted. She looked over at him as he climbed into the vehicle and shut the door behind him.

"What?" Daniel asked, when he realized she was looking at him.

She shrugged. "Thank you," she said simply.

"For what?" he asked in confusion.

Vala smiled and shrugged again. "Just for today. Thanks for bringing me."

Daniel started the car. "You're welcome," he said in return, smiling to himself and not knowing why.

Before he knew what was happening Vala had leaned over, kissed him on the cheek and retreated back to her side of the car.

Daniel blinked in surprise and looked at her. He waited for the usual annoyance that came when she did such things, and some of it was there. But then the scene from the warehouse flashed through his mind again, as it had much too often over the past few weeks, and he found the aggravation was overridden by something else that he didn't really want to explore at the moment.

He simply looked at Vala in amazement for a moment.

"Well, Daniel, are we just going to sit here or are we going back to the SGC?" she asked, grinning back at him.

Daniel shook his head to clear it of conflicting thoughts and turned back to the steering wheel. "Yeah, we're going," he answered, choosing to join her in not mentioning what had just happened.

It was easier that way. He knew that whatever it was he was feeling would have to be addressed eventually, but for now they were comfortable with their relationship the way it was, and there was no reason to upset the friendship they had formed.

So Daniel backed the car out of the parking space and headed for the highway, finding himself smiling again. Okay, fine, so he had carried shopping bags for her. Would Vala read into it in the end? Maybe she would, and maybe she wouldn't. At the moment, it didn't matter to him.

The End