Okay, so there was this little plot bunny that wouldn't leave me alone, and this is the result. If you like it, please review. Please. I really want to know what you all think.
Sleep was the only thing that had decided not to grace Vala with its presence so far that night, and unfortunately it was the thing she needed the most. She would be halfway there, dozing, but then another forgotten memory would jump to the forefront of her mind and jar her to wakefulness again. Most of them were not pleasant.
She had suppressed much of her memories from her time as host to Que'tesh, but many of them had surfaced when Athena's goons had used the hyped-up memory device equipment on her a few weeks ago. Then after she had lost her memory entirely they had started to rush back with everything else when she regained it. Lying in bed at night unwillingly remembering horrible things a Goa'uld had done with one's body while in control of it was not the most enjoyable way to spend the hours she should be sleeping.
Vala stirred restlessly in her full-sized bed, trying yet again to drift off. She was just before trekking down to the infirmary to ask for something to help her sleep. She rearranged her pillows again and settled in, hoping for a miracle that probably wouldn't come. As the minutes passed she floated closer and closer to sleep, still hoping in the still active part of her mind that this time she would not be interrupted by unwanted memories.
But it was not to be: images flashed through her mind. A woman--no, a Goa'uld--that Que'tesh had known, an accident on a Goa'uld space station, a conversation she had sworn never to forget but had anyway, and then…she saw the picture on the wall in Daniel's office. She thought she knew why she saw both, was sure she had it right, but there was a missing link there somewhere.
Something clicked in her mind and Vala sat straight up, sending a pillow to the floor in the process. Taking a deep breath, she glanced around her room, located twenty-some floors under Cheyenne Mountain in the SGC. It looked just like any of the other guest rooms in Stargate Command--with the faux wood furniture, the dark blue bed dressings, the lame cheap swirling artwork on the walls, and a small fake tree in a corner or two--but now that she was its permanent resident for the foreseeable future it had been spruced up a bit over the months she had been here.
The drawers of the dresser were full with clothes, a couple of them poking out from being over-filled. In front of the mirror on top of it personal care items littered the surface, including anything from hair accessories to nail files to a blow dryer. Half eaten imperishable snacks sat carelessly on the table along with a deck of cards and an open board game or two that either Daniel or Mitchell had been trying to teach her. The card games she could play, but she was having a hard time understanding the board games. You weren't playing for money, or even those little chip things, so what was the point?
But that wasn't what occupied Vala's mind at the moment. What concerned her now was what she had just remembered. She knew she should tell Daniel. He deserved to know, but...could she tell him? How would he react? Oh…perfect. But she had to tell him. He really did deserve to know. She glanced at the clock: the luminescent green digital numbers read eleven o'clock. Daniel would probably still be in his office.
Swallowing, she pulled off her pajamas and put her fatigues back on, then ran a brush through her mussed hair but not bothering to put it up. With any luck, maybe once she'd done this she would be able to catch a few hours of sleep…
Vala sighed and opened her door, stepping out into the wide, dull gray corridors of the SGC. The few stripes of color that ran along the walls of the previous missile silo didn't do anything to make the hallways more interesting. She hesitated just outside her room but then shook herself and kept going for the elevator. Before she realized it she was standing just short of Daniel Jackson's office, arms wrapped around herself for a bit of warmth in the cool corridor.
The office door that was always open beckoned her, soft light spilling from the opening onto her feet. She could hear sounds of movement from inside, a keyboard clicking…which meant that Daniel was, in fact, here, awake, and working. Tentatively she stepped around the corner, peeking into the office. Daniel was at his desk, typing away at something. He didn't hear her, so she knocked on the door frame.
The archaeologist looked up at the sound and spotted her in the doorway, the light from a nearby lamp reflected in his glasses.
"Vala? What are you doing in here this late?" he asked curiously, pushing aside a stack of books and papers by the computer that partially blocked his view of her.
She shrugged. "I don't know….Can I come in?"
"I guess…" he said slowly. "As long as you didn't come here just to bother me."
Vala shook her head and came over to the desk, sitting on the edge of it. "No…" she trailed. Her gaze shifted to the framed picture on the wall beside the desk--the dark haired woman that had once been Daniel's wife. Daniel saw where she was looking and turned there too, expression softening at the sight of the image.
"What is it?" he asked, curious as to why she seemed so intent on the picture all of a sudden.
Vala sighed. "Daniel, I've…been remembering things since I got back…"
"Of course you have. You lost your memory," he said, a bit confused.
"I know, but I've also been remembering things I didn't remember before--like from when I was a host."
Daniel's eyebrows went up slightly in surprise, his face showing sympathy as well. "Oh. I'm…sorry."
She nodded in thanks, still staring absently at the picture while Daniel looked at her curiously. "Some of it's kind of good to remember though." She reached up and touched the edge of the frame. "What did you say her name was again?
Daniel looked down at his arms on the desk for a moment. "Sha're," he supplied quietly, looking up again.
Vala nodded slowly. "Right. What…what was the name of the Goa'uld that took her?" she asked hesitantly.
Daniel blinked a couple of times. "Why would you want to know that."
"I don't know, I just…please tell me. I think I…"
"You think you what?"
"It's just that I think I might know something."
He looked at her for a moment, maybe trying to decide whether he thought she was serious. Finally he sighed. "It was Amaunet," he told her reluctantly.
That was it. That was the missing piece of information, and suddenly everything fell into place. Vala gasped involuntarily as the rest of the surrounding memories rushed back. Daniel stood across the desk from her.
She shook her head. "Nothing. But, Daniel…" She took a deep breath and looked at him. "Daniel, I knew her…"
He coughed once in surprise. "You what?"
"I knew her."
Jackson frowned. "You mean…Que'tesh knew Amaunet?"
Vala started to nod, but then shook her head instead. "Well, she did, but, I knew Sha're too."
Daniel fell back into his chair, staring at her. "But-but how? How is that possible?"
Vala shrugged. "I'm not sure. But back in the day Que'tesh and Amaunet knew each other well, I think, and they both knew Athena. They were something of a trio of girlfriends, if a Goa'uld can have friends. Or they were until Amaunet was killed and Que'tesh turned on Athena…"
He just continued to look at her, open-mouthed now. "You're kidding."
"No, I'm serious, Daniel."
"But how could you have known Sha're? What do you mean?" he asked, motioning helplessly toward her picture. "Really, Vala, if this is some kind of sick joke…" he warned, standing up again. "It's not funny. I miss her a lot."
She held her hands up. "It's not a joke, Daniel, really. I would never joke about something like this. Please, just listen for a moment, will you?" He looked at her for another moment before slowly sitting down again.
"Okay, okay…then what are you talking about?" he asked, now genuinely curious.
Vala drew in a deep breath. "Well, it all started about…nine years or so ago, I guess. Que'tesh and Amaunet had just met themselves, on a neutral Goa'uld space station…" She trailed off and looked at him, not sure whether he knew what she was talking about.
"I know what they are; I've been on one before," he answered her unasked question.
"Right, well, anyway, Amaunet had just recently….taken her host…" She said it carefully, but Daniel winced anyway. "Uhm, right, and they were both on the station for some business or another. I don't guess that part is important, but that Amaunet was there without Apophis might have been."
"At least she got away from him sometimes," Daniel interjected. It was ostensibly in a neutral tone, with a hint of a false humorous smile, but the underlying bitterness could not be missed. Vala couldn't blame him. The system lord had taken his wife.
"Right…." she said again, looking down at her hands entwined in her lap. "So everything was normal--normal as being a host can be anyway--until someone attacked the station. To this day I'm sure Que'tesh or anyone else ever found out who it was, but it did start the most…shall I say interesting experience of my years as a host? No, inspiring might be more appropriate, but either way I can't believe I forgot it along with everything else from that time…" She shrugged.
"What happened?" Daniel asked quietly. His gaze focused solely on her now, obviously really wanting to know. So Vala told him.
Another day, another nightmare, Vala MalDoran snorted silently. Some days passed her by without her noticing at all, without her seeing what crimes to the galaxy Que'tesh used her body to commit, while she hid safely in the back of her mind, almost hibernating. Other days, she was painfully aware of everything had happened around her. Today was one of those days.
Thankfully though, today the parasite that had control of her body was not out slaughtering, terrorizing, and torturing innocent peoples, or going into battle with another zealous Goa'uld. Today Que'tesh had brought them to a Goa'uld space station for some sort of business. She didn't care what it was, but in some ways hoped it lasted a while. Maybe the new friend Que'tesh seemed to have made would keep them here longer, give Vala something of a rest.
Just now Que'tesh sat reclined in her temporary quarters aboard the station, her human slaves bustling around the ornately carved, plush couches and chairs of the open front room as they did the bidding of their god and her guest. The bright colors of the cushions on the furniture only added to the overly decorated feel of the space, along with the typical golden, raised hieroglyphic-covered walls of a Goa'uld structure.
The finely dressed Egyptian goddess-like woman in front of her didn't help either. Whenever Que'tesh was in a setting like this, Vala thought she might choke, but at least the Goa'uld wasn't using her to kill anyone at the moment…
This woman was a rather new Goa'uld, the new queen of Apophis if she recalled correctly. She and Que'tesh were talking about something…Ah. Amaunet. So that was her name. And Que'tesh was asking her something…
"So how has your new host been behaving?"
Amaunet snorted. "Unfortunately, she is one of the more problematic ones."
"Ah…so is mine, actually, but she has calmed down in the years since I took her. She still has a rebellious spirit, but she no longer bothers me on a daily basis. But the initial annoyance was worth it--I have thoroughly enjoyed having this body. Overall I do not regret my choice," Que'tesh replied.
"Neither do I," Amaunet agreed. "Though at times this host's mind can become distracting. She was married, and she never thinks of anything but her husband and her other family."
Que'tesh shrugged and took a sip of a drink that had been brought to her. "She will learn soon enough that she will never see them again."
Vala grimaced internally and recoiled. Yes, she had learned that, but not until years of hoping that she would had passed. She felt sorry for the new host of this Goa'uld, being torn away from her family, her husband…memories of her own husband to be started to surface, but she pushed them down mercilessly. They hadn't even been married yet before Que'tesh had taken her. He had probably decided to forget she existed long ago, to save himself the pain. She didn't have that luxury.
She had to hold on to whatever memories she had left or she would go mad. She had long since given up hope of ever seeing her own love again, but Vala still held onto the hope that someday she would be free.
Amaunet was nodding thoughtfully, when suddenly something shook the station. The lights flickered, the slaves stumbled, the two Goa'uld women held onto their perches, and then seconds later all was silent again.
"What was that?" Amaunet demanded of anyone who would answer.
The station shook again, harder this time, and this time there was an obvious sound of an impact.
"Someone is attacking the station," Que'tesh scowled, standing.
"Are you certain?" Amaunet inquired, standing.
"What else would it be?" Que'tesh turned to one of her slaves. "You there! Go and find out what is happening!" The man quickly bowed and scurried away as the room vibrated again, knocking pillows onto the floor.
The floor stabilized again, only to be knocked out from under them in the next massive jolt seconds later. Que'tesh's head hit something, and Vala's world went black.
When Vala came to, she realized immediately that something had changed. It wasn't her surroundings; the room was there, albeit dark, devoid of any other persons, and littered with fallen and broken objects, but it was not what was confusing her. She spotted Amaunet not far from her, unconscious, and--Wait. She spotted? And that was when she figured it out.
She had seen Amaunet on the floor, she had noted the disheveled state of the rooms, and she had opened her eyes and moved her head to do so. Vala was in control of her body. Que'tesh must have still been unconscious.
Vala sat up slowly, experimentally. Yes, everything was working; she'd just gotten a nasty bump on the head. She had a bad headache at the moment because of it, but that did nothing to dampen her excitement. She jumped to her feet and rushed for the door, but when she approached it it didn't budge. It was supposed to open automatically. Frowning, she moved to the panel beside it and punched at the buttons. Still nothing. She scowled. The power was down, which meant the only things still running were the gravity and the emergency life support; she was trapped.
A soft moan from behind her made her turn to see that Amaunet was waking up now. Vala started to panic. What would the Goa'uld do if she woke to find that her companion was now under host control…?
There was another groan, and the body on the floor shifted. Vala started looking for somewhere to hide, but then realized that the sound had seemed…human. Could Amaunet still be out, as well? Vala watched warily as the form sat up, holding her head and looking around in bewilderment.
Vala suppressed a audible sigh. "The Goa'uld is unconscious. She must have gotten knocked around by the jolt. We'll have our bodies to ourselves for a little while I suppose," she supplied from where she stood.
The younger woman gasped and jerked around to look at her, eyes wide. "Who are you?"
"Vala," she answered simply, coming closer and sliding down onto one of the couches. "And you are…?"
The other host sighed and leaned back against the chair behind her. "My name is Sha're," she answered quietly. She had a voice heavily accented in a lilt Vala didn't recognize.
"Oh…well, that's nice. Where are you from?" She hadn't had a conversation of her own, been in control of her body at all for years. If she couldn't go anywhere, she might as well take advantage of the time she had like this.
"Abydos," Sha're answered.
"Huh--never heard of it."
"Oh…" Then she gave a small smile. "Then we are even. If you told me, I would not have heard of your world either, wherever it might be. My people had only just learned of the stargate and the many worlds it connects when I was taken from there."
"I see…is your husband back there?"
Sha're shook her head, and her face took on a wistful expression. "I do not know. He is not from my planet, and knows much more about the Chappa'ai than my people do. I like to imagine that he is looking for me…"
Vala cocked her head in curiosity. "Do you mean imagine like you like to pretend he is, or you're certain he would be?"
The young woman smiled. "I mean I am certain that he would try to."
"Anyone he meets will tell him that nothing of a Goa'uld host survives."
"But that is not true!" Sha're protested.
"Of course its not," Vala shrugged. "But it's what they try to make everyone believe. I'm sure they have some twisted reason for it."
Her new companion sighed, but then her lips pressed into a determined line. "But he will not give up. I know he won't. That is the way my Daniel is."
Vala couldn't help but admire this woman's resolve. She'd had similar feelings, after being taken. Now all that remained of any of it was a stubborn refusal to believe that she would spend the rest of her life as a host.
"Daniel is his name?" she asked. For some reason, she felt she needed to keep the conversation going. Already she could feel her spirits lifting just talking to this new acquaintance. Something about her made Vala just want to listen to her. When Sha're nodded, Vala glanced pointedly at their surroundings and continued. "Well, I don't we're going anywhere any time soon. I couldn't get the door open. Why don't you tell me about him? If you don't mind, that is."
Sha're's countenance brightened immediately at the suggestion. "No, of course I do not mind. Thinking of him is what keeps me from going mad trapped inside; I do not mind sharing."
Well, that was the difference between them then. Vala could never have born telling anyone else of the few sweet memories she had; it would have been too painful. But this young woman was still full of life and hope, and her memories had not had time to become painful to think of. It saddened Vala to think that someday, if she remained a host long enough, that would probably change.
"So what's he like then?" Vala prompted. She leaned forward, resting her chin in her hands and her elbows on her knees. Sha're picked herself off the ground and sat in the chair opposite her.
"Oh, Daniel is wonderful," she smiled. "He is bright, and funny, and wears these strange glass circles on his face that I think he calls 'glasses'. They came from his world. He needs them to see correctly…" And off she went.
Sha're told Vala the entire story; of meeting Daniel and the other strangers that had come from afar, defeating Ra together, and of Daniel staying behind to be with her when his own people went back to their planet. Stories of their time together on Abydos spilled happily from her lips, and Vala found herself captivated, wishing she had such memories to hold. Eventually Vala even felt tears in her eyes, for once thinking of someone other than herself and hoping that someday this exuberant young woman would be reunited with her husband.
"She kept going on like that, talking about you, until Amaunet and Que'tesh woke and took control from us again," Vala concluded. "After that the Goa'ulds met often, but I never talked to Sha're again. It was nice enough, though, just to be around a Goa'uld whose host I knew. In all my years of being a host myself, she was the only friend I ever made—if you want to call it that," she sighed. She felt a lump in her throat from the memories; they had gained more clarity as she told them. She felt tears in her eyes and tried to blink them back.
Daniel had sat in his desk chair while she explained, staring at her in disbelief through the entire story. Now his eyes lowered and he looked away, swallowing. It was several moments before he spoke. "Wow, I…I didn't know…" was the only answer he could come up with.
Vala gulped. "She loved you, Daniel," she added quietly, not trusting her voice to speak any louder. "She loved you more than anything—enough to talk to a complete stranger all about you. I just…thought you should know that." Not that he wouldn't have already known it.
The only response she got to that was a small nod, before the office fell into silence again. The only noise in the background was the hum of the powered up computer. Daniel still wasn't looking at her, but even studying his profile she could see that his eyes were just as wet as hers. In the line his mouth pressed into and the half of his expression she could discern Vala read the pain of loss that she had seen on his face weeks ago when he had first told her of the fate of his lost wife.
She had felt for him then, but now that the emotion was more pronounced in his features her heart went out to him. She felt the lump in her throat grow and the tears in her eyes press harder to get out. And besides the fact that now she remembered and missed the friend she'd made in that brief encounter and was troubled that she'd died, Vala realized that she cared if Daniel hurt. She cared very much.
"I'm sorry you lost her," she whispered. She couldn't stop the tears that escaped and slid down her cheek when she spoke then, and couldn't stop herself from continuing to cry silently after she had. She knew it wasn't like her, but after all it wasn't the first time. It wasn't even the first time she'd done it in front of Daniel.
She didn't notice when Jackson's head slowly came up to look at her, and didn't hear when he stood and came quietly around the desk. Vala only noticed when Daniel's arms came around her and gently pulled her close, offering her the comfort she should have been offering him. At first her eyes widened in surprise, but soon she buried her face in his shoulder and waited until the tears subsided.
When Vala felt it safe to pull away without breaking into tears again, she did, brushing at her damp face to dry it. She didn't look at Daniel, but slipped off the edge of his desk to the floor.
"I-I'm sorry," she stammered. "I didn't mean to come in here and do that. I just meant to tell you what'd I'd remembered and go back to bed. I should just do that now…" She trailed off and started for the door.
Daniel's soothing voice penetrated her need to get away and made her turn to look at him finally. His eyes were still damp, and his face looked more pink than usual, as if maybe he'd been crying with her. But Vala would never know whether he had.
"What…?" she asked.
A small smile broke through on Daniel's face. "Thank you," he admitted quietly. "For telling me that. It is good to know."
Vala gave a half smile back to him. "You're welcome." Then she tossed a thumb over her shoulder. "Now, uhm, if you don't mind, I think I'm going to try and get some sleep…"
Jackson nodded. "Right…good night," he answered. Then he turned slowly back to his desk, releasing an almost inaudible sigh.
Vala turned and retreated from the office, tucking her arms tightly around herself. So that was it then. She'd come, she'd told him what she came to tell him, and left--after a couple of bumps in the plan. But she was far from disappointed. Instead she smiled to herself as she made her way back to her room. Her mind drifted back to when she'd sat on the edge of the desk, crying, and then to when Daniel and the others had found her in the warehouse after she'd lost her memory. Not for the first time, Vala saw hope that maybe Daniel cared just as much as she did.