"Chevron four encoded."
Daniel glanced to his left and smiled at the anxiously-bouncing woman standing next to him. "You sure you're fine with this?"
Vala turned and gave him a defiant look. "I'm pregnant, Daniel, not an invalid!"
He grimaced, realizing that he hadn't worded the question clearly. She'd already had more than enough admonishments about taking it easy and avoiding unnecessary stress from self-appointed nags Sarilis and Jack. All the attention had been exciting and fun at first, but was quickly proving to be a bit excessive at times.
"What I meant was, you sure you're okay with letting the Hans turn this into the wedding of the century?"
"It's our wedding, darling," she smiled as Sergeant Harriman called out the final chevron and the wormhole opened. "I wouldn't mind a smaller guest list, of course, but I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone either."
Turning to wave at General Hammond, Daniel stepped into the event horizon, emerging on the other side with only a gentle bump. A fraction of a second later, Vala was beside him. "Me neither," he agreed, waving and calling out a greeting to the Stargate's guard. "But seriously? The Hans, my friends from Earth, and your friends from Katana? Then there's the political guests from Earth, Jaya, the Jaffa rebels, and the Tok'ra, plus at least one Asgard, four Nox, and a who-knows-who-all-else from some of the worlds allied with the SGC. I'm telling you... eloping looks better and better all the time!"
Vala laughed and punched him in the arm. "You're not cheating me out of the chance to wear a wedding gown! Besides, I'm not sure who'd kill us faster: Sarilis or O'Ne--Jack."
"Or Sam... or Mai... or--"
"Silly. Just don't forget that I can be held accountable for only the small number of acquaintances I've made over the years, while you are directly to blame for well over eighty-percent of the guest-list... and counting."
He grimaced. "Well, I don't think I'm--"
She whacked him across the bicep again. "I thought we'd broken you of that habit?"
Vala squinted at him. "Thinking less of yourself?"
"I wasn't denying anything other than the fact that I'm not the one who dialed up practically every planet I've ever visited to invite them to our wedding! I just can't believe the President--who I voted for, by the way--decided to turn this into one great big political showboat." He shook his head in disgust.
"Well, I think it shows that he thinks very highly of you," she answered, lifting her chin defiantly.
He shrugged. "Maybe so, but I can't help but feel that we're going to be the main act at a three-ring circus."
"No, only two rings."
Daniel froze. Did Vala just successfully make a joke out of an Earth reference? He stared at her in bafflement, watching the shy grin spread across her face. "Funny," he sighed, resuming his pace.
"Well, some of these people have known you for a very long time," she replied. "And if we hear back from Nick, that includes someone who's known you since you were a baby."
Daniel didn't hold out many hopes that his grandfather would get the message or accept the invitation, let alone actually show up for the nuptials. "I wouldn't hold my breath on that one." He gave her a smug look. "Hear back from Jacek yet?"
Vala scowled. "Knowing my father, he's likely to try to scam every one of the guests. I hope I don't. Besides, this isn't one of those traditional Tau'ri weddings of yours where the father walks the bride down the aisle--"
"--Because I think being beamed in by Asgard transport would be far more exciting!"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "On the plus side, having an Asgard cruiser or two in orbit of the planet would stop any curious Goa'uld or Luciens from trying to crash the wedding."
"Thank goodness for small favors," she agreed.
They continued on their set path, complaining good-naturedly about the wedding plans being practically yanked out of their hands and given over to the very capable talents of Yuna, the matriarch of the galacticly-respected Han trading family. Daniel didn't envy the plump woman the headache she would undoubtedly garner trying to satisfy all parties. Despite their tenuous alliance, the Jaffa wouldn't be happy sitting next to the Tok'ra, so the Tau'ri would probably have to have the center of the seating arrangements with the other two races on either side.
And that was just one expected snafu.
Nearly an hour after they passed through an overgrown break in the forest, they finally emerged from the springy conifers into a shoulder-high field of ripened grain. Vala probably couldn't see over the tops of the plants well, but Daniel could just make out several cleared sections where the locals were making a headway into harvesting the bountiful crop. One of the workers happened to glance in their direction, so Daniel cheerfully waved a welcome.
It wasn't until they stepped into one of the threshed areas that they were recognized, the short natives being no more able to see over the grains than Vala. "Theadan!" the young man shouted. "Theadan apistra sa!"
"Looks like they're happy to see you, too," Vala grinned, nudging him in the ribs.
She was right, of course. Excitement swept through the people of Makosis, the villagers dropping their scythes, rakes, and baskets to gawk at the newcomers, whispering amongst themselves and pointing.
"Eranos!" Daniel barely had time to turn when Atrus and his family were suddenly upon him, sweeping him into a group hug that included Vala, too. Finally, after what felt like half the village joining in, they were released, grinning faces surrounding them on all sides.
"We began to grow worried when you did not return for mid-summer festivals," chided the older man. "Your people came looking for you the very day you left!"
"I know," he answered. "I finally remembered who I was. You remember Vala?"
"Of course," replied the village leader, bowing respectfully to the dark-haired woman. "How could I forget such a beautiful lady?"
Although Vala didn't understand much of the Makosin language, she certainly got the gist of this particular message. She beamed at Atrus and leaned in to give him a quick kiss on the cheek before slipping her arm protectively through Daniel's.
"Oh, I see other matters have changed!" Atrus winked, provoking laughter from the gathered crowd. "But come along, Eranos! You and I have much to discuss, I think... and the grain will not harvest itself!"
Grudgingly, the villagers began to disperse back to their duties, though a few stopped to offer their individual greetings to the man who had once been one of them and the woman who had helped him to become who he was always meant to be. Mikos, the young boy Daniel had saved from drowning nearly a year ago, threw his arms around Daniel's waist in an enthusiastic hug before dashing off to help his father sharpen scythe blades.
As they stepped up to the door of the travelers' hall, Atrus' daughters fingered the trailing edge of the scarf Daniel wore--the scarf they had helped make for him--before reluctantly returning to the fields. Atrus and his wife Melia continued on into the cool building, and the younger couple followed.
"It is good to see you again, Da-nee-el," Atrus smiled, settling himself into one of the chairs at the large dining table. "Although we could not understand each other's speech, I believe your 'Zhek' spoke highly of you when he was here."
Keeping up a running translation for Vala, Daniel grinned. "Knowing Jack as I do, he probably called me a pain in the bottom!"
Melia's eyebrows rose. "Do you still think so little of yourself?"
"That's high praise from Jack," he replied with a laugh, shaking his head. "But no, I am beginning to accept who I am. Vala has been very good for me in that regard, as well as other, innumerable ways."
Atrus nodded knowingly. "As I had hoped, she helped you to find your true self and your belief in yourself."
"It wasn't without struggle, of course," he admitted, curling his fingers around Vala's, "but we love each other very much and plan to be married."
Melia gave a cry of joy, leaning across the table to grasp their joined hands. "Oh, Da-nee-el, we are so happy for you!"
"We also want to have the wedding here. Vala and I have made a number of friends in our travels, and there are many allies I made in my past that also have an interest in seeing us exchange vows. Because they come from so many different planets, we wanted to provide a location which was neutral to all the guests." He smiled. "I think it fitting that we embark on a new journey together from the same place as we began our first."
"A complete circle! Yes, you would be more than welcome to bring your people here to see you wed!" Atrus exclaimed as though there was never any question that they couldn't hold the festivities at this village.
"I should warn you, though," Daniel continued, "not all of them will look like we do. There will be some Jaffa in attendance, as well as other races of which you have never heard."
"Any friends of yours are friends of ours," Melia promised, smiling pointedly at Vala.
Vala leaned against him. "Why do I get the feeling I'm about to get mothered to death again?"
He pulled their hands to his lips, kissing the backs of her knuckles. "Because you are," he replied, then switched back to the Makosin language. "We also have further news... better news."
"What could be better than the happiness of a young couple?" the older woman asked.
Daniel could feel the corners of his mouth curling even higher. "Well, in about eight moons, the first 'sky-eyed baby' should make his or her appearance."
Atrus' expression rivaled even the most paternally-possessive look Jack had ever managed. "Oh, Eranos..." he whispered. "I do not... Words cannot begin to say how that makes me feel!"
Words were not needed, as the softness and warmth in his eyes told Daniel exactly how much the news affected the older man. Atrus had been his lifeline when Daniel first descended from a higher plane of existence, stripped of mind and cast naked on the ground. The patience and great kindness the people of this world and this village had shown him had allowed the man with no memory to finally find himself, even though it had meant leaving their shelter to stake his life on what he could discover.
It was a chance that had paid off a thousand times over and more. Kissing Vala softly on the forehead and resting his cheek against her hair, Daniel felt like the luckiest man in the universe.
Three months and seventy chapters later! Whoa!
Okay, so here we go: the first thanks go out Ael L. Bolt, who quite incidentally started this whole thing with that little plot bunny of hers. Next, I have to hug Candy, my RL best pal and sounding-board, plus all the ladies over at the Daniel Fic Recs Yahoo! Group, which includes Cynic (CynicAlb here) and Lady D. More hugs to my cheerleaders: Nyx Ro, sorrel rowan, BkWurm1, and Star Trek Freak. I'm also sending hugs out to Stargate Fan and all the other wonderful folks at the Daniel/Vala forum on Invision!
Last, but certainly not least, anyone and everyone who voted for me in the Isis Awards, plus all you lovely, wonderful people whose continual encouragement has kept me going: Shinki (who never missed reviewing a chapter since day one!), Whirlwind-2005 (didn't miss any either!), Rebel Goddess, Myosotis13, forestwife, Samvalasam, GaterBait, piano-fingers, catgirl789, Quacked Lurker, Bekki, Sokorra Lewis, E. Nagrom & melinda119, Marzi, weemcg33, isabelqc, TurnerH, the ever-so-anonymous Lurch, Xinnlajgin, acer-sigma, Nytegoddess (xxDark-Elfxx), Desert Blossom-by-the-Sea, Milena D., Zuzanny, Khentkawes, bluedragon 1836, gopherfool, Obsessed Pam, drey'auc475, HAZMOT, sarahmw42, Amber Jack, cam-is-hot, CrazyLikeaFox, Darth Tater, eresseami, Not A Muggle, BalrogsBreath, angelathene, Calendar, Shannon K, sir newton, syzygy13, Verity Kindle, abydonian, darthme1011, the always-anonymous dawn, PadmeKenobi, The Eromancer, Transgenic-girl, AV21, Fission25, mightylibrarian, Rae16, Spamurai, tnickel, WezH, Alowl, Kay Vegas, Maeve Bran, Taeriel, Talenyn01, Thraesja, KearSeer, Lady Jaye, madaboutdanny, Mage Ren, reighost, SabineHolterman, Talzin, The Rushing Wind, Alicia Spinnet, AngusH, aprun, Ayankha, booster-t, Castianna, ccgig, DarkBlade the Damned, Farah, FlyGirlRhiannonRaaye, fonzo, fyere, ilna, JayDragon, Jessica, Kale, kibberly, kiftgirl, majinme, NeilDingley, Nogitsune-chan, Oceda Kendara, purplegryphon, QuasiOuster, set, SG-Fan, slipfighter, spacegypsy1, spanishgirl, Tigerdrake, v, Vala Fan, vasti, whisper99, Wings90, xX-Silver-and-cold-Xx
Okay, so I'm not really finished. I got the Women Who Love Daniel page set up, so go take a peek at that at wwld dot cleothemuse dot net. I promise there IS more to come, but I will need to catch up on three months worth of lost sleep first!
//hugs everyone again//