Author Notes: This story was written for NANO 2006 and is for the most part complete. It, like several of my stories, has taken into affect some spoilers for future episodes (Quest Pt 2 and The Shroud) although the way I took them may not go along with the actual episode when it airs. There is also a lot of Farscape mentioning here. I've been watching that show a lot so it kinda made its way into the story, although as a show not in the plot lines. At least I think so anyway. But just in case, I do not own Farscape, SG-1 or anything connected therein. I own Athoria and its people, the actual story here, and a bunch of photopaper. And this story also has gone with a few pairings being mentioned that I normally wouldn't do, mainly Cameron/Vala which is not going to be the main pairing (obviously if you filtered to find this story you know the main pairing). I'll post as I review the chapters for small mistakes. It hasn't been officially Beta'd but hopefully there are no big mistakes.
Hank Landry previewed the information in front of him, brought back by Sg-7 from PX9-387. It was quite a planet from what the reports said, with beautiful scenes and a few technical achievements that would be worth trading for. For the most part the planet was a few centuries behind Earth in development and lived mostly in small villages, the capital being closest to the gate. It did have one slight flaw in that the villagers claimed the gate did not always function. So far, the SG team had not seen any evidence of the gate not working, having strange readings in the power levels or any other symptom of power failure. The fact the people seemed to see the gate as more as a cultural artifact and rarely used it as transport made some believe that it had been some time since the last time the gate was used.
There was one thing of interest to note. The villagers knew of the goa'uld and claimed one of their citizens had been host to a goa'uld at one time but they had not been visited by them in at least half a century. This was not what interested Landry. It was the goa'uld they claimed was the last to leave their planet, one whose host had once lived there. One of which the SGC was quite familiar with, if only the host.
According to the report, one of the older citizens of the capital village had been a friend to Vala Maldoran before she had become a host. The women was nearing her 100th birthday and while many of the villagers thought she was crazy, the colonel in charge of the SG unit thought it was enough to cause some interest. So did Landry. However, before he sent out SG-1 on a mission to find the truth, he wanted to completely look over the information sent back by SG-7. He would make a decision by the end of the day.
Vala brought in her final box and put it down on the living room floor. Sam had invited her to move in while she searched for a new house, now that she was finally being able to walk off base without escort. Vala hoped that it would be a very short term arrangement because she felt slightly uncomfortable accepting it. Mostly because she was also sharing the house with Sam's boyfriend Jack O'Neill and she felt like she was intruding. Sam was quick to claim she wasn't, but Vala couldn't shake the feeling. She knew the pair had very few hours together between their schedules and really didn't want to make them feel they needed to use those hours to entertain her.
"All set?" Jack asked as she walked back outside. The lieutenant who had been her companion around town for the last couple of months, Lauren Tomlinson, was standing beside the car she had used to drive Vala's things over to the house. She nodded and said goodbye to Lauren and stood beside Jack as the other women drove away. Lauren had become one of her few friend and she would miss spending time with her. Granted she was also glad she wasn't forced into spending time with her as well. Jack lazily put an arm around her shoulders and led her back inside the house.
"So who's in the mood for some steaks?" Jack asked as they entered the house and saw Sam walking towards them. Neither of the women responded, and he simply walked past Sam, kissed her on the check and then out to the porch where he had a grill set up to grill the steaks. Sam continued to walk towards her and Vala picked up the final box and the two walked into the room that Vala had claimed.
Vala didn't have many processions yet, just enough to fill three boxes.
Vala sat on her new bed, something she had picked out with Sam the week before. The room had previously been a storage room since Sam had no use for it otherwise. Her three boxes of belongings and all the clothes she had bought so far were put away. There wasn't much. They hadn't given her much opportunity to go shopping, and when she did it was with Daniel or Cameron, neither of which were willing to spend five hours shopping. But she had enough.
And she really didn't want to think about Daniel and Cameron right now. It would be bad enough when they got here to have dinner with her and Sam and Jack. Things were in such an awkward status between the three of them. Guilt and regret were never the best things to have in constant.
She laid down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. She wondered if Sam would allow her to put up those glowy-star thingies on the ceiling. She had seen them once when she had met Cassandra as the team was helping her set up her new apartment two months ago and she wanted some.
But then again, she was hoping to leave Sam's house as soon as possible. Get her own apartment, her own space. It was more then being courteous, although part of her was thinking that Sam would want her space back. She had been so used to having her own space for five years before she ever made contact with Daniel Jackson. It seemed that ever since she met the man, her space had been dwindling. Most of the time she didn't mind but there were times when she started to really need her own space. One without the rest of SG-1 and the extended family that had accepted her and she could just be alone for a second and regroup.
She sat up and walked over to the dresser where her one personal item that she had carried for awhile now, the only thing she had never wanted to leave behind sat. It was a necklace she had been given by her fiancée as a wedding gift. Qetesh had worn it as some sign to show she had conquered the body of her host and Vala was still surprised the goa'uld had never destroyed it. She was pretty sure no one in the SGC had seen it, but she couldn't be sure, not with her belongings being in someone else's positions while she took her involuntary trip to Tomin's homeworld. Daniel had given her the bag and as far as she knew, he hadn't looked through it even though he thought she was dead at first.
The chain was made out of a strong silver, much stronger then the silver jewelry she found on Earth. The pendent on the bottom was the symbol of intertwining branches which had meant something so long ago, but she couldn't remember anymore. Just the echoes of the emotional pull it had on her at one time. It was the only thing that she had from her past before Qestesh and she sometimes wished she had not regressed the memories because along with the bad memories of Qetesh she had managed to lock up some of her good memories of before. She could still remember his face, smiling at her as he gave her the necklace, four days before what was supposed to be their wedding. She couldn't remember the words he spoke though and barely could remember that she had cried when he had said them.
Such an easy time, an easy love.
She sighed. Even that brought thoughts back to the people she knew now. None of her relationships were simple anymore. Laundry now treated her as one of the family, but still suspiciously as if she was the daughter who dragged the other children into misdeeds. Jack was probably her most simple relationship, he seemed to like her and she liked him and they seemed to have an understanding. Still it had taken a while before the man had trusted her.
With Sam she was still trying to figure out where she stood. She could remember how when they met she had been so blindly jealous of Samantha Carter. The women had only to step into the room and all attention was routed her direction. Now, Vala had come to respect her and understand why everyone gave her such attention but there was still a little part of her that had been hurt by how everyone had just ignored her once Sam had entered the picture. She was no longer jealous, not in the way she was before. Jealous of the close friendships Sam had, yes she was. But her jealously on another matter had fallen completely away. Eight months of being around her had taught her that she had no reason to think Sam was a rival for the attentions she sought from a certain archeologist. So, she would like to consider Sam a friend and certainly allowing her to room in her house seemed like it was the action of a friend but she still longed for the connection that the others had with her.
Teal'c was also complicated but it had straightened itself out after she had proved she was not out to kill, maim or in any other way harm Daniel and anyone else on the Tauri Base. They had a mutual respect for each other, even if she felt that half the time he was laughing at her. Hard to tell. Vala was usually pretty good at reading Jaffa facial expressions but Teal'c had never been decoded. However, she could usually figure out from his tone what he was feeling and he was also the only one who made sure to not use Earth phrases she didn't know about.
That brought Cameron. In the last couple months she had grown quite close to him. He had brought her through the hard months when she was going through some emotional battles over her daughter and Daniel. He had never been outright mean to her, even though it had taken him a few weeks to trust her and stop looking at her as entertainment or a means to get Daniel back into the 'band'. He also was the only one who held her fascination with Tauri Science-fiction. The others didn't seem to like the shows and films as much. Plus, no one could beat Cameron in commentary on movies, especially long mini-series and the old black and whites. Like Plan 9 From Outer Space. She had spent most of the night in tears from laughing too hard. However their relationship was strained as they both were trying to figure out where they stood. Funny how one mistake could change how they felt for each other and make them double guess. She hoped that would straighten out soon, because she knew full well the man was falling for Doctor Lam and she really had no intention of being involved with Cameron more then she already had been. It was just awkward to be around him at the moment, knowing what she had done. Especially when Daniel was in the room. But things were getting better.
Ah, Daniel. Her first and biggest relationship with the Tauri. She remembered being slightly amused at him when they first met, and how she had respected him for giving what he got. Then there was the period of time she rather not remember because frankly it didn't show either one of them in a good light to the other and she was still trying to live down her comments to the Senate guy. Daniel confused her as much as he drew her in. She had long ago figured out she had some feelings for him, not just a strong attraction but the last months had been hard and once he was back she had trouble figuring where she stood with him. She felt guilty for leaving him back on that planet, almost as much as if she had given him straight to Adria herself. She felt guilty for being with Cameron when she was still clearly not over Daniel and when the two were in the room together she felt the guilt and regret at the same time. Guilt in her relationship with Daniel and regret she had tarnished her relationship with Cameron because she couldn't handle Daniel being gone.
She heard the door open and voices in the hallway. The group was here now. She laid down the necklace and straightened up a bit, putting her thoughts behind her. Tonight was supposed to be a celebration. She was supposed to be a party girl, and this was a party.
Cameron Mitchell still felt odd about calling Jack O'Neill "Jack". He knew the General had given him permission to call him that off duty but it still felt odd and almost wrong. However when he did mess up and forget to forget the sir, he didn't feel too bad because he at least didn't constantly refer to the man as General O'Neill like it was one word like Teal'c still did. He still wished Teal'c would call him Cam, but so far he was still 'ColonelMitchell'.
Cameron simply went along with it now, there was no changing Teal'c, not that he wanted to anyway. Sam at least called him Cam, and for the most part Daniel was starting to as well since Cameron had started calling him Daniel and not Jackson. Vala had this irritating habit of calling him "Cammie" but he ignored her when she called him that and eventually she would just go back to plain Cam or Cameron.
When he got to the Carter-O'Neill house, he found he was the first to arrive. Daniel and Teal'c were riding in together as Teal'c had yet to get a vehicle of his own, especially since he spent much of his free time with the Jaffa and with his son Ry'ac. Vala was no where to be seen when he arrived but he assumed she was just in her room. Jack greeted him warmly (another thing that still kind of freaked him out…he was friends with a general for cryin' out loud) and Sam had a smile and they lead him out to the back porch where the grill and picnic table were sit up with food already displayed.
If there was one thing about Jack and Sam's get-togethers is that there was always plenty of good food. Sam had turned out to be a wonderful cook, and Jack was really good as well. Cameron was usually only allowed to bring chips or plastic utensils because he could not cook worth anything and no one wanted to have food poisoning the next day. Teal'c was usually in charge of bringing dessert, and never failed to bring something good. Although he didn't bake it either just bought it, which Cameron was glad to know. He would hate it if he was the only team member who couldn't cook. But then again, perhaps Teal'c could cook, just didn't feel like it. Who knew with him?
"So where's Val?"
"In her room," Sam responded. "She's unpacking. I'm sure she'll be out in a bit." Cameron nodded and sat down at one of the picnic tables in the backyard. He knew that Vala was still adjusting to the idea of being free of the base so he decided to leave her alone instead of going in and helping her unpack. Besides, it most likely wasn't a good idea to bother her anyway, not with the way their relationship was at the moment.
Granted, that was mostly his fault. It had been his idea to take her out and he had bought the drinks. They had both gotten drunk that night, although he was pretty sure Vala wasn't quite as drunk as he was. An aftereffect of being a host? He sure didn't know and frankly he should have been wiser and not have drunken anything. After all he had been the driver.
They had ended up taking a cab back to the base and he really couldn't remember much about what happened after that because tequilas had never quite liked him and he had yet to remember a night after he overindulged. But he had woken up the next morning and immediately known he had made a mistake. So did Vala. They had fought and gotten over most of the regret part of the situation. Her words still ran around his brain from time to time and he wished he could go back in time and just hit himself for doing such a stupid thing as give into the temptation Vala always was. So here they were, trying to repair their relationship, as well as with Daniel because he sure as hell couldn't look at the guy without thinking that he had slept with his girlfriend. Granted, Daniel had been dead at the time but it made little difference to Cameron and he was still trying his best to make up for it.
"What are you thinking so hard about?" Sam broke into his thoughts, sitting a bowl of potato salad on the table next to him. Sam didn't know about what had happened that night, having gone to Washington to spend time with Jack as they mourned what they believed at the time to be Daniel's Jackson's death. Teal'c had been stuck in his room so the only two who knew about what happened were Vala and himself.
"Nothing." Sam didn't look convinced and almost said something else when Teal'c arrived. Cameron breathed a sigh of relief when she went off to greet her other friend. Teal'c always had the best timing. Cameron could never stand up against the Samantha inquisition.
Daniel walked in behind Teal'c and waved hello to Jack and Cameron from the doorway to the patio. He had brought a variety of drinks of offset Jack's supply of beer for those who didn't like it. Teal'c had brought two cakes. One of which looked suspiciously like carrot cake. It made Cameron wish for home because no one could beat his Nana's carrot cake with cream cheese icing. No one.
Vala walked in shortly thereafter. She seemed happy enough, especially to see Daniel there. Daniel smiled cautiously at her before walking away and sitting across from Cameron. He rolled his eyes. Daniel and Vala's relationship was worse off then his with her simply because at least he knew where they both stood. Daniel and Vala seemed very adapt at not letting the other know the truth when it came to how they looked at each other. To Cameron, and to the others, it was clear as day. Vala, he knew from personal experience, was in love with Daniel Jackson and still felt it was her fault that he had died and become a prior. She still held onto the guilt. He wasn't sure what Daniel's problem was, but he had a feeling it was along the same lines. Feeling guilty for succumbing to the Orici and becoming a prior. Sam had told him once that Daniel had felt he betrayed his friends that day, and while everyone forgave him, he didn't seem to catch onto the fact no one blamed him for what he did.
Besides, if Adria was anything like her mother, she could talk people into most anything, even jumping off a bridge.
The team sat down and drinks and food were passed around. Multiple conversations went on at the same time, as par with any family and Cameron smiled. This was the oddest assembled family he had ever been a part of, but it was the one most special to him.
Daniel helped Sam carry the dishes into the kitchen while the others continued to listen to Jack's story of an early mission SG-1 had gone on, with some tidbits added in by Teal'c. They grabbed the gifts the group had hid in the house a day before and brought them out, with Vala looking at them confused. Teal'c decided to explain to Vala what they were doing.
"On Earth, there is a tradition to give gifts to celebrate someone's entry into a new home."
"But it's not new, its Sam's."
"It's a symbolic thing, Val." Cameron added. "You've left one place and moved onto another. This celebrates that."
"And I get gifts for this?"
"Yep. And cake!" Jack added with a smile. He handed out a gift from the pile. "This is from Hank and Carolyn. They asked that we give it to you."
Vala carefully took the package and to the surprise of all she didn't just rip the packaging. Apparently she was one of those who carefully took it off and folded up. Either way, she finally got to the present after a minute or so of wrestling with the paper and tape.
Inside was a journal, black leather bound with a lock on it. In the front cover was a post-it note with Carolyn's handwriting wishing her well? She smiled and placed the journal on the seat beside her. Carolyn had known how hard it was for her to readjust to first loosing her memory and then regaining and Carolyn had offered a journal as a suggestion for getting her memories onto paper and her feelings as well. Carolyn had been one of the first friends Vala had made on earth, since a lot of her time after she came back from the Ori galaxy was spent in the infirmary during the first few weeks.
Teal'c was the next to give her a gift. Inside the box were an "Earth Cultures for Dummies" book and a book on English. For some reason, after loosing her memory, she didn't handle the language as well. Only Daniel and Teal'c knew that while she could still speak fluently, the reading and writing abilities had been lowered considerably. So Teal'c's gift was well received even though many of the others looked at it strangely and wondered why she was happy to get an English book.
Cameron's gift was fun. He had gotten her the last of the Farscape DVDs she had been collecting as well as a stuffed Rygel. Daniel smiled as Vala leaped up and kissed Cameron on a cheek, a little surprised when Cameron's own face lit up. He frowned a little till Sam nudged him in the ribs and he realized he was being ridiculous. Cameron wasn't interested in Vala that way so he had no reason to be jealous even if he and Vala were together and not just friends as they were now.
Sam and Jack had gotten her a pair of tickets for the history museum exhibit, which confused him because she had always told him she found that stuff boring but she seemed to be excited about going to see the new exhibit
He was the last to give his present to her, not sure how she would receive it. She lifted a loaf of fruit cake, made expertly by Cameron's grandmother who was a queen in the kitchen, out of the box. The others looked on dismayed at the gift but Vala smiled and burst out laughing and gave him a wink. She understood it if no one else did, which was the point anyhow. She took it out of its packaging and proceeded to cut it. Only Teal'c seemed brave enough to try it and both he and Vala took a piece. Cameron kept staring at it, not knowing who made it. Daniel inwardly laughed because he knew Cameron would be all over it if he did know. Vala finally noticed that inside the box was another package. She laid down her half eaten slice of cake, and lifted the smaller box out and opened it up. Inside the box was a pendent he had gotten with the help of Cassandra Frasier. It was her name spelled out in loopy letters, with pink sparkles and a series of small diamonds. She smiled at him, one of the smiles she used to give him all the time. It warmed him, to see her happy for a chance in relation to him.
She held it out to him and he took it and helped her put it on. It felt odd to be so close to her, when the last three months had widened the distance between them so much he rarely had any contact with her at all. At least not physical contact like right now. When he was finished attaching the latch, she lifted her head and hugged him close.
"Thank you," she whispered. "For both the necklace and the reminder." She kissed his check and went back to facing the others but he remained rooted in his spot for a moment, realizing perhaps with the reminder of their first meeting, their first kiss, the divide between them had closed somewhat.
Landry remained silent as the team entered the room. He had called them all in the night before, telling them to be ready for a briefing at ten hundred hours. Even Jack. He knew they were all celebrating Vala's first day of "freedom" at Carter's house so he had simply called there to make the announcement. They all seemed to be in good spirits which was good. He knew there was a lot of tension in his premier team in recent weeks. The Ori threat was only part of the reason. Perhaps this mission would help them all unwind a bit. It appeared relatively easy, but knowing their luck something would go wrong. He just hoped it didn't.
He hadn't passed out the folders detailing the planet and the mission, wanting them all to find out at once. He had learned from two years of experience that Jackson and Mitchell had a very curious nature and would start reading as soon as they entered the room. Carter wouldn't be far behind but sometimes she managed to wait till he was there to start going over the information. Most of the time he didn't care but this was a special mission and he wanted them to know at the same time.
They all settled down at the table. Mitchell, Carter and Jack on the left, and Teal'c on the right along with Vala and Jackson. It was the normal sitting arrangements, although sometimes Carter and Teal'c would switch spots. They all looked at him expectantly. He stood and passed out the folders.
"Sg-7 came back from their mission yesterday with a friendly message for once. The planet called "Athora", referred to in our dialing computer as PX9-387, wishes to form an alliance with us, trading our technology, both scientific and medical for their own." The group, well those who weren't busy reading the mission brief, looked at him in confusion. SG-1 was usually not sent as a whole to diplomatic situations unless they were the ones to instigate them. "This particular planet seems to have something in common with us at the SGC." He paused as they all lifted their heads and looked at him. "They know of a Vala Maldoran." The group looked over at her but she seemed shocked.
"I don't remember this planet as any I have done business on. I'm not sure how they could know of me unless I have done business with their people on another world."
"Apparently they don't know you by your business, Vala. They claim you as a...native daughter." If possible, her expression held even more shock, then a bit of sorrow. He frowned slightly at the thought, but knowing she didn't remember could only mean one of two things. Either the planet was lying or Vala had lost more then her memories of Qetesh when she buried them so long ago. Bringing them up was going cause problems. He felt anger once again that someone had dared to hurt his "family."
"I suppose it is possible. I really don't remember much about my past that far back," she stated, confirming Landry's fears that it was the later. "Perhaps when we are there something will look familiar." He nodded. "You have the rest of the day to prepare. We are expected to arrive on their planet at their lunch time which is our six pm so be prepared to leave by then."
The group left the room as Landry began to realize only he and Vala had talked at all and he had just had the shortest briefing in the history of SG-1.
"Vala, are you sure you want to do this?" She turned around to see Daniel watching her concerned. Since she really had no role in the SGC besides alien intelligence she had continued to share an office with him. She remembered the months he was gone, how lonely the office had seemed with just her. She couldn't understand half the stuff he could in there, and had left most of it in its exact position with the exception of his glasses which she had laid on the desk located in the small area she claimed as her own. Now, it was more back to normal with him mumbling in the background as she typed up her own reports.
"Why wouldn't I be?" Unfortunately for her, unlike Sam and Teal'c and most of the time Cameron, she couldn't hold her emotions from him. Never good. He always knew if she was angry, annoyed, frustrated or simply scared. He didn't always expect her to have the emotion, but he recognized it all the same when it was there. And he used to know how to deal with it, whatever it is.
"I'm not sure. I just got the feeling that this may be hard for you, bringing up old memories." Vala remembered very little. She remembered her father, she remembered Adria and she remembered Gerath. Hell, she even remembered one clear memory of walking to the Stargate and meeting Gerath for a picnic away from seeing eyes. However she couldn't remember what her home was called, who her best friend was, and what her favorite meal was. She couldn't remember if she had any other siblings or her real mother. When she blocked her memories of becoming a host, she had lost half of her good memories and hadn't been able to block all the bad ones she had as Qetesh. To find out that they remembered her made her feel guilty for not remembering them.
"I'm sure I'm missing some good ones, darling." He seemed surprised at the old nickname but didn't say anything. Vala was glad. She needed things back to the way they were and perhaps if she managed to start it off, they could do it. "I'll be fine." He nodded and slowly walked away, not seeing her fake smile fall off. She looked back down at the file. What if she had forgotten these memories on purpose? What if she had been just as bad as a host as she was as a person and just couldn't remember?
She wished she could fall back on her usual stance when going to such a world. Before she ever met the Tauri and her only concerns were what trinkets she would be able to steal and sell for a much higher price. She closed her eyes and hoped that whatever deity really did exist that this would turn out ok and her bad feelings about this mission were simply paranoia.
So there you go. What does everyone think?