This is just a plot bunny that wouldn't go away, so i took a short break from Left Behind to type it out. :) I hope you all like it, and please let me know what ya think when you're done. I'll get the next chapter of Left behind up tomorrow. Thanks!
Where were they?
Daniel paced back and forth in the control room, one eye on the stargate at all times. A few hours before he'd come back from going out with SG-15, who'd needed an extra archaeological mind for their second recon of a planet with some rather interesting ruins, and the rest of SG-1 had been out elsewhere at the same time. But Sam, Teal'c, and Mitchell should have been back two hours ago. They hadn't even checked in.
Not only was he worried about what could have happened to them, but he, Sam, and Teal'c were all supposed to meet Cassie and the girl scout troop she assistant lead in town later that day to help with a fundraising car wash.
A green jumpsuit clad Vala wondered in from the corridor. "They're still not back," she observed.
He shook his head and sighed. "No…not word."
She dropped into a chair and put her chin in her hands, elbows on the console in front of her. He watched her stare out the window at the 'gate for a moment. It had only been a little over a week since the battle at the supergate and SG-1's return home, plus one return visitor. He didn't think even she knew what she was going to do from this point on, but at the right now it seemed like she was planning on staying here for the time being. That was all right with him.
Vala had been out of the infirmary for a few days now, and he was glad she was all right. Now that he thought back to before he'd found her on that Ori ship, Daniel didn't even want to remember how he'd gotten through the past several months never knowing exactly what had happened to her. Not that that meant anything.
It only took a couple of minutes before she was out of the chair again. "I'm bored," she announced.
"The story of your time spent at the SGC," Daniel replied dryly. "Sorry, but I don't have time to entertain you right now."
"Sure you do," she countered, turning to look at him, full black pig tails shifting on her shoulders. "Look, I'm concerned about them just as much as you are, but standing here isn't going to bring them back any faster."
She did have a point there, but he refused to let her be right.
"Maybe so, but I am not going to play cards with you while my--our friends could be in danger out there somewhere," he replied.
"All right, all right," she shrugged. "I'll be in my room. Let me know when they get back." Daniel noticed she when, and smiled just a bit as she sauntered out of the control room.
Later that afternoon, there was still nothing from SG-1. Daniel was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and practically leaped closer to the window when the 'gate activated off-schedule. Then promptly shut down again.
Walter Harriman looked up at his exclamation. "We didn't get an iris code, but we did get a recorded message."
General Landry came down at that moment and heard most of the 'gate tech's sentence. "What type of message? Audio? Video? Text?"
"Audio only, sir."
"Put it on," the general nodded.
Harriman complied, and a moment later Cameron Mitchell's voice came up over the speakers.
"Okay, if you get this message instead of us, we're still having problems with the 'gate. We set it to send if the 'gate was going to shut down before we could get through. At least that was Sam says; I don't do the technical stuff."
Sam spoke next. "The DHD is damaged, but in a spot that we couldn't see with the angle the M.A.L.P. camera gave us. I'm pretty sure I can fix it though, and I'm working on it, so don't worry about us. We have our emergency rations and camping gear, so we'll be all right. If we're not back by late tomorrow, though, send through a naquidah generator and a laptop with the dialing program because that'll mean I haven't been able to fix it."
"Right what she said," Mitchell said. "That's about it…to recap, we're fine, Sam's fixing it, and teal'c and I are sitting around counting squirrels--or whatever it is their weird--looking counterpart on this planet is called. They're all white and their claws are longer and they're kinda--"
"Mitchell," Teal'c interrupted.
"Right. Sorry…That's all there is, general. We'll be signing off now."
With that, the message ended, and Daniel let out a breath he didn't know he's been holding. They were all right, just detained. Then the other reason he'd been worried pushed back into his mind, and he quickly glanced down at his watch. It was three o'clock; he had an hour to get to the mall parking lot in town.
The downside to that was, he was only one pair of hands, not three. He couldn't show up no other help for the scouts. That tripped him up for a moment, and he stood where he was, racking his brain, until he realized he only had one other choice.
"Doctor Jackson? Are you all right?"
Startled out of his though, Daniel blinked and looked at the general. "Sorry. Yes sir, I'm fine. I'm glad they're all right, but I've really got to go now. We promised a friend of ours we'd help with something, and since I know where the others are now I guess I'd better get there."
Landry nodded. "Sounds good. Keep your cell phone with you, and I'll let you know as soon as they're back or we hear anything more."
"Thank you, sir," Daniel smiled. "And can I ask you something else?"
The general heard him out, but still required a bit of convincing before he agreed.
By the time he rocketed from the control room, and to the site of his only option besides going alone, he only had forty-five minutes.
Daniel stopped and hesitated in front of the closed door to Vala's room, then sighed and lifted a hand to knock.
The door opened almost immediately, and vala smiled graciously when she saw who was calling.
"Hi," she grinned.
"Are they back yet?"
"No, but we got a message, and they're fine. More on that later though. Listen, do you have any normal clothes?"
"Define normal," she answered, raising an eyebrow.
"I mean normal as in what normal people wear outside of the base."
"Ah," she said, nodding once, and Daniel stood up straighter, a bit hopeful. "No, I don't. Why?"
Daniel deflated and leaned against the doorframe. "Great…"
Vala frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, I--" he stopped, thinking hard again. Finally he stood straight again. "Okay, that's fine. Sam keeps some clothes here for emergencies and such, in her room down the hall. I think you're about the same size. You can raid her closet, and I'll explain myself when she gets back. As long as you don't touch anything else in there and put the clothes back when you're done with them."
Now she was confused. "Why? Are we going somewhere?"
Daniel glanced at his watch. "Yep, and we have forty minutes to get there. Sam and teal'c would have gone with me, but they probably won't be back until tomorrow, so you'll have to do."
"Are you going to tell me where it is you need to be?"
"Yeah, on the way there. Now go get something to wear; I'm gonna go change too. Meet me by the elevators in ten minutes." Then he turned and started back down the corridor, Vala's frustrated sputters fading behind him.
Vala rolled her eyes as Daniel disappeared around the corner. "Fine…" she sighed. She came out of her room the rest of the way and shut the door behind her, then skipped over to Sam's room.
She had no idea where Daniel wanted to take her, but she certainly wasn't going to object to going with him anywhere.
It turned out that the clothes Sam kept in her room were not in the tiny closet at all, but in the chest of drawers. She ended up in a pair of what she was pretty sure were called jeans that were just a bit too big, but all right, and a simple, pale yellow fitted short-sleeved shirt that worked even better. There were no extra shoes, though, so she was stuck with her boots. She didn't think they looked too horrible with the pants, though. Satisfied, she went to meet Daniel at the elevators.
He was already there and waiting, looking at his watch again.
"You're a minute late," he told her immediately.
"Well excuse me," she retorted, crossing her arms.
"Sorry," he sighed. "Come on, let's go."
Vala stepped into the elevator once he'd opened it, and he came in after her, shut it and punched in the right number.
"So where are we going?" she asked as it started to move.
Daniel glanced at her. "Have I ever mentioned Cassandra Fraiser to you before?"
She though, and came up with only a couple of scraps of information. "Once or twice. You found her on another planet as a girl…"
"And Janet Fraiser adopted her."
"But now she's gone, soo…"
"Well, Cassie is almost twenty now, so she has an apartment of her own, and she's doing all right. She's in college and helps with the local girl scout troop."
"Girl scout?" Vala asked, clueless.
Daniel shook his head. "Sorry. Uhm…it's a kind of club for young girls, where they learn things, like outdoor stuff, and things women need to know, too…It's kind of hard to explain if you're not female."
"Ah…Okay, so what does this have to do with where we're going?"
"The troop--the group of girl scouts she helps with--needs money for a trip this summer, so they're having a car wash to raise money, and Sam, Teal'c, and I were going to help, but they're not here now. You don't mind helping, do you?"
Vala shrugged. "Sure, I guess not. What do we have to do?"
She knew cars were the vehicles they had on this planet, and while cleaning them didn't sound like the most appealing way to spend an afternoon, it was better than sitting around the SGC bored to death. Besides, Daniel would be there.
"People driving by will hopefully stop and pay us to wash their vehicles. I'll show you how to do it when we get there."
"Okay," she replied brightly. Daniel hadn't been paying a lot of attention to her they'd gotten off that Ori ship. He'd been busy with reports, that mission with SG-15, and who knew what else…or maybe he just didn't care that she was back. Vala hoped that wasn't the case, and she was determined to find out. Going with him now would give her time with him to figure it out. She hoped it was worth it.
"Did you miss me?"
The question was completely out of the blue, and it almost made Daniel jump and swerve off the road. "What?"
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Vala look at him and smile a bit. "I was gone for months, Daniel. Didn't you miss me at all?" The tone was almost playful, but he could sense an underlying tone of…something else.
"I was concerned about you," he said evasively. "We didn't know exactly what had happened to you." How else was he supposed to answer that? It was a deliberate trap and any other way he would be backed into a corner. So he threw out that answer, hoping she'd take it. It was true, after all.
"I didn't ask if you were 'concerned,' Daniel. Everyone was 'concerned.' I mean, did you miss me?"
He sighed. "All of us kind of missed having you around, Vala; it made things more…interesting."
Vala's eyes rolled. "Uh huh. Why are you avoiding the question?"
"I'm not avoiding the question," he protested, glancing over at her.
She looked at him. "Then just answer it for goodness sakes."
Daniel's jaw clenched for a moment in frustration. "Fine, I missed you," he said nonchalantly. He hoped it would throw her off the scent of what he'd really felt, and it worked.
"Don't lie just to make me feel better, either," she added pointedly.
"Would you make up your mind?" She opened her mouth to reply to that, but then he spotted the turnoff.
"Never mind; we're here," Daniel announced, turning into the large parking lot. He pulled up near the group of preteen girls at the back of the lot surrounding a sud-covered truck, and turned off the engine. "And remember that yes, Cassie is also from another planet and you two might have a lot to talk about--but later. There are too many people around who don't and can't know, okay?"
"All right…" she sighed, a bit dejectedly.
Daniel nodded once, pushed open the car door and stepped out. Vala followed suit on her side and came around the vehicle to stand near him. Almost immediately they were surrounded by several girls ranging from nine to twelve--a junior girl scout troop.
"Hi Doctor Jackson!"
"Where are Colonel Carter and Mr. Murray?"
"Who is that?"
This wasn't the first time he, Sam, and Teal'c had helped Cassie with the girls, and most of them knew who they were--Sam more than any of them, but he and teal'c were also frequent faces. But they had never seen Vala.
"This is Vala--"
"Is she your wife?" one of the younger girls asked.
Daniel saw Vala smirk at that, and felt himself turning red. "No, she is not my uh…no. She's a friend visiting from out of town. She might move here." That was about as accurate an assessment as any, he supposed.
"Is she your girlfriend?" another of the older ones asked pointedly.
"No," he said at the same time Vala supplied a 'yes'. He would have elbowed her--hard--but at that moment Cassie came over, ordering the girls to get back to washing the truck, and he had to settle for a glare in Vala's direction before turning to greet her.
"Hey, Daniel. Sorry about that…" Cassie smiled.
"It's okay," Daniel shrugged. He gave her a brief hug, then she noticed Vala.
"Who is this?"
Vala stuck out her hand voluntarily. "I'm Vala MalDoran. Maybe you've heard about me from Daniel. I'm not from around here either." With the last, she punctuated her smile with a wink, and Cassie gave an amused smirk.
"Yes, I've heard about you once or twice. And since you said 'either' I guess you've heard about me."
"Great. Well, we can get to know each other…well, when this is over in an hour or so and the girls have gone home. Maybe we can all get something to eat somewhere."
"Sounds good!" Vala beamed.
"Uh, well, I don't know about that part, Cassie. We'll see. It took long enough just to convince General Landry to let me take her off of the base."
"Oh come on, Daniel. I'm sure he won't mind if we stay out just a little longer."
"I said we'll see," he answered irritably.
Cassie butted in. "Uhm, Daniel, where are Sam and Teal'c?"
"They were…held up elsewhere. They're fine and they'll be back soon, but they couldn't get home in time, so…" He motioned to Vala.
"Here I am!" she finished. "What do I do?"
"Come on, I'll show you," Cassie offered.
"That's all right, Daniel said he'd--"
"No, go on with Cassie," Daniel interrupted, seizing the opportunity.
Vala protested. "But--" But Daniel had already taken off toward the buckets of water sitting on the asphalt and the extra sponges floating in them, silently thanking Cassandra.
It didn't take long for Vala to catch onto what Daniel, Cassie, and the girls were doing. It was simple enough, and once she had the hang of using her soap-soaked sponge, it was sort of fun, actually. Except for the fact that Daniel was ignoring her.
Soon after they'd arrived, Cassie had decided to split everyone into three groups, so they could wash here vehicles at a time, instead of one or two, and she had put an adult with each group. That meant she, Cassie, and Daniel were each with a different group. Wonderful. And though that definitely contributed to the lack of acknowledgement from Daniel, he was just plain staying away from her. Which was downright frustrating.
Had she gone too far just outright asking him what she had on the way here? Was he angry? Daniel was just so hard to read at times…She backed up mentally. At times? Try all the time.
But she didn't have whole lot of time to worry about that. The girls in Vala's group pummeled her with questions even as they all washed vehicle after vehicle. Most just wanted to know the truth about her and Daniel--was there anything going on there? But that was a little fuzzy, and after the glare she'd gotten from him before, she decided to play it safe and avoid those questions.
Vala ended up regaling with tales of her days as a space pirate/khan artist, presenting the stories as fictional and about someone else. This enraptured the girls, effectively shutting them up, and they washed on in silence, listening to her.
She was quite proud of herself.
Daniel watched surreptitiously as Vala told her stories, actually a bit impressed with how she captured their attention. For some reason he'd been afraid she would get frustrated with the children too easily, but in fact she was doing quite well. He also noticed that his and Cassie's groups were getting mysteriously smaller, and Vala's was growing. Well, didn't that just beat all?
Vala really seemed to be enjoying herself after a while, almost as much as the girls were enjoying her. It wasn't like her at all, it seemed, yet there she was, fitting right in with a group of girl scouts. Just watching, Daniel could feel his--was it really affection?--for her rising. Automatically, he tried to squash it, telling himself those feelings didn't make any sense, but it refused to die.
Swallowing, he made himself look away and focus on scrubbing the window he was swiping at.
"Something wrong, Doctor Jackson?" one of the smaller girl asked, looking up at him with big blue eyes. She looked about nine, maybe ten. About the age the kid would be if he and Sha're had ever had one…
He shook the thought out of his head. "No, no, I'm fine, thanks," he answered, putting on a small smile. The girl shrugged and went back to scrubbing the side of the vehicle they were working on.
"She's a natural."
Daniel glanced up at the comment to find Cassie standing beside him, looking over at Vala. "Huh? Oh…yeah…"
"I might have to get Sam to bring her to the regular meetings. Do you think she'd go for that?"
"I don't know," Daniel shrugged. "We'd have to get General Landry's okay first, but then…sure, she might."
Cassie nodded, smiling, then went back to her group. Daniel just sighed.
Why was he avoiding Vala again?
Oh, right. She wanted to know if he'd missed her these past months, and he was sure she would keeping asking if he got anywhere near her, so he stayed away. He wasn't going to risk that right now. He would worry about the ride back to the base later.
By the time parents started showing up, many of the girls were already demanding to know when they would see Miss Vala again, and Cassie suggested the same thing she'd said to Daniel. The girls were more than enthusiastic about the idea, and Vala seemed open to it, as well. Daniel got near her long enough to let her know the same thing he'd told Cassie about that. She was optimistic that Landry would let her. Daniel actually found himself hoping he would. Maybe it would be good for her.
Just after the last of the girls had hugged both Cassie and Vala and left, and he, Vala, and Cassie were picking up, another customer drove up. That was when they realized that they hadn't taken the sign down. Finding themselves unable to say no, they agreed to wash the woman's van while she took her own small troop of children inside the McDonalds at the back of the mall parking lot to eat.
Cassie grabbed the hose and soaked the vehicle, then they all grabbed sponges and went to work. But apparently all of the laughing and giggling with the girl scouts had pulled Vala out of her slightly blue mood--which, he had to admit, had probably been his fault--and made her hyper. Before he could even get a whole window washed, the sponge was snatched out of his hand, and a blur disappeared around the side of the van.
"Vala!" he yelped. Cassie giggled, and he just looked at her. She held up her hands and grinned.
"Your sponge; your problem. Go get it back yourself," she said teasingly.
Daniel raised an amused eyebrow at her, but before he could turn to go around the vehicle looking for Vala, he heard a distinct squish just behind his head, and a splash of cold soapy water soaked the back of his shirt. He yelled and jumped.
"Hey!" he spun around and saw her vanishing around the corner of the van again. Groaning in frustration, he followed her. But she was fast, and it turned into a game of suspense and hide-and-seek. He snuck up on her around a corner, but instead of reclaiming his sponge, he emptied another one he'd grabbed over her back.
"Ah! Daniel!" she squealed.
Daniel chuckled and disappeared again himself.
He saw Cassie finish washing the van herself, and then go into the McDonalds to tell the woman they were done and leave them to their…whatever it was. He wasn't quite sure himself, but within minutes both he and Vala were drenched from various surprise attacks, but still evading capture by the other.
Why was he doing this?
Fine. Daniel wasn't afraid to at least admit to himself that he was having fun. It was childish fun, but fun nonetheless. He could hear vala giggling madly and bre4athing hard on the other side, as he wiped water out of his eyes from behind his glasses. Was the world going insane? What next?
Eventually, probably realizing that she couldn't keep going round and round the same vehicle and keep away from him forever, Vala bolted for the nearest bank of parked cars, which were his and Cassie's. But she was out in the open at the moment.
Daniel sprinted after her, and she sped up, shrieking with laughter and still holding his captured sponge.
"I've got you now!" he called, and sure enough, seconds later he caught up with her. His car wasn't big enough to hide behind, and he cornered her against in, an arm on either side of her and his hands pressed on the side of the vehicle. "Okay, hand over the sponge," he smirked.
"Never," she replied, though trapped, attempting to look serious but barely smothering a grin.
"Doesn't look like you have a choice."
"Oh really?" she asked. Then she brought up both sponges she held in her hands and pushed them into his chest, emptying the water in both of them over the front of his shirt. As if he could get any wetter.
Daniel snorted. "Oh, like that's gonna help you?"
Vala looked a bit put out by this, but in the next second she had ducked under his arm and tried to make a run for it.
"Oh no you don't," he laughed, catching her around the waist. "Surrender the sponge." She squirmed, but he held on, and finally she held the sponge she'd taken from him above her head.
"All right!" she gasped, doubled over in laughter. "You win!"
Daniel let go of her and snatched the sponge back, and both of them sank down to sit on the pavement, dripping wet and barely able to breath for laughing. It took a few minutes to catch their breath, and when vala did she looked down at her soaked clothes.
"Well, I guess that rules out going anywhere for dinner, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Daniel replied, grin still on his face.
They sat there for a moment, still smiling, letting the remaining warmth of the sinking sun start to dry them, but it wasn't long before Cassie came back out.
"Are you two done?" she asked, eyebrows raised, and amused expression in place.
Daniel glanced up quickly, purposefully sobering up immediately. "Huh? Oh. Hi…Cassie, yeah…" Suddenly it all seemed rather awkward, and both Daniel and Vala stood right up, brushing of excess water.
"We're done," Vala answered quickly.
"Yeah, yeah, done; this section of the pavement seems clean enough now, yeah…" he stammered, crossing his arms over his chest self-consciously.
Cassie smiled. "Well, I was going to ask if you wanted to go inside and get some burgers or something, but I don't that'll work now."
Vala shrugged. "Oh well. I can try them another time."
"No, you can try them now," she corrected, pulling a bag and a carry-out cup-holding tray with two drinks in it out from behind her back and setting them on the hood of Daniel's car. "There's enough in there for both of you."
"Great!" Vala grinned.
Daniel blinked and started to go for the door of the car to get out his wallet. "Oh, thanks. If you'll just wait a second I'll--"
"Both worry about it, Daniel."
"I'll pay for it, Cassie."
She shook her head. "Just think of it as my 'welcome to earth' present for Vala." Then she looked both of them up and down good. "And I've got a couple of towels in my car you guys can borrow too so you can get dry enough to eat and drive back."
Daniel sighed and smiled a bit now. "Thanks; that would be great."
Cassie nodded and crossed the few feet to her own car. She pulled a couple of thick towels from the back seat and tossed them to them. They each caught one and started drying off what they could.
"You can bring those back to me some other time, Daniel; you'll probably want to put them on the seats so the inside of your car doesn't get too wet."
"You're a life saver, Cassandra Fraiser."
"I do my best," she smiled. "Thanks for helping out, you guys. And Vala, you really should look into helping with the regular meetings. The girls love you."
"Well, we'll see," Vala shrugged. "Apparently I have to get permission from General Landry first."
"That shouldn't be too much of a problem," Daniel assured her.
Cassie took her leave, gathered the rest of the things she'd brought for the car wash, and drove off. Daniel and Vala spread their towels over the front seats of his car and climbed in, the McDonalds bag in between them. Daniel went to separate out the food.
"Do you have anything I can get my hair out of the way with?"
Daniel glanced up at her from rifling through the bag. "What? You mean like a rubber band?"
"Uhm…" He reached across her a pulled open the glove compartment. "Excuse me…" She leaned back, and he pushed aside papers in the small compartment until he found what he was looking for. "Here."
Vala took the offered stray rubber band. "Thanks." She flashed a smiled at him, then started raking her damp hair toward the back of her head and gathering it in her hands. Daniel went back to looking through the back. There were two double cheese burgers, a large order of chicken nuggets, and two medium French fry orders. And they had the cokes. Well, Cassie had obviously wanted to either make sure Vala could try more than one thing or that they didn't go hungry at all. Or both.
Daniel pulled out one of the burgers and one of the orders of fries and set them in the extra spaces in the cup holder, along with a little less than half of the chicken nuggets. Then he set the bag with it's remaining half of the original contents in Vala's lap.
"That's yours," he explained.
"Ah. Okay," she agreed. She pulled her hair through the rubber band one more time and let go of her hair. She picked up her drink first.
"That Cassie is really nice."
Daniel smiled. "Yeah. Yeah, she is. I wish her mom were still around though."
"Oh…Janet. Right….I'm sorry."
He swallowed and shrugged. "It's okay. Thanks."
She nodded. "So…back to the SGC?"
"Yeah. Then we'll both need to get on dry clothes…" When he saw the mischievous look on her face he quickly added, "In separate rooms."
Vala pretended to pout about that for a moment, then shrugged and started eating. Daniel half unwrapped his cheeseburger so it could be eaten, then pulled out and got on the highway back toward the mountain.
But the image of Vala wet, laughing in joy, and sitting on the pavement beside him wouldn't stay out of his mind.
Well, that had certainly been interesting, Vala mussed silently, as she and Daniel rode the second elevator down into the SGC. He'd mentioned that he planned on staying at the base that night in case the rest of SG-1 got back.
But Vala couldn't take her mind off of the afternoon. He'd ignored her, but then…Well, she knew she'd had fun. She certainly had never seen that side of Daniel before, and now she hoped she would see it again.
She was prepared to part at the elevator when they got off, but instead he offered to walk her to her room. He seemed sincere enough, so she accepted the offer, but once they found themselves standing in front of her door, he started shifting uncomfortably on his feet.
"Uhm, thanks for helping…" He started.
"No problem," Vala shrugged. "It was fun; thanks for bringing me. I think I will look into asking General Landry if I can help with those girls on a regular basis."
Daniel smiled. "I'm sure both Cassie and Sam would love that--not to mention the girls. They really did love you."
"Well, they don't know me well yet," Vala replied mischievously.
He rolled his eyes. "Great…just promise me you won't corrupt them," he smirked.
Daniel chuckled, then stared at his feet for a moment.
"Well…let me know when they get back."
He nodded, still not exactly looking at her. "I will."
"Okay…later then." There didn't seem to be anything else to say. She sighed inwardly and pushed her door open, but halfway through the door Daniel spoke up again.
She turned around again, hand on the doorknob. "Hmm?"
"I uh…" He sighed and picked his head up to actually look at her now. "I did. I really did miss you," Daniel admitted quietly.
Vala blinked, but before she could open her mouth he had walked off. She watched him go for a moment, then smiled to herself and shut the door. It was a small victory, but a victory just the same.