Title: Perchance to Live
Author: Milena D.
Rating: T+ for now
Genre: Romance/Action/Adventure, etc. Daniel/Vala all the way ;)
SPOILERS: Just for episode 10x01 "Flesh and Blood" and only for one line. That might change but I'll give a warning if it does.
Summary: COMPLETELY A.U. and COMPLETELY D/V. That's really all there is to say.
Author's Note: I know this fic is completely whacky, hence the 'AU' warning, but please give it a chance. It's got great DV potential, I promise! I'm already writing outlines for future chapters and it's looking cool!
Disclaimer: I own the plot, unoriginal as it may be. Don't own the characters.
Chapter 1: Sobriety
Daniel groaned as he was suddenly roused out of his alcohol induced sleep. He lay still in his bed for a moment, trying to remember what exactly had happened to leave him in this state. He wasn't a big drinker, as anyone he knew would patronizingly attest to. So why was he hung-over? A single name popped into his head and it sparked a deluge of motion picture memories.
The soldier had put together a party both ridiculous in proportion and wantonly carnal in content. Daniel remembered stepping into the mansion that served as their makeshift bunker for the duration of their stay in this town (Colorado Springs was it? He couldn't recall) and having to step back outside to confirm the address on the door, so overcome was he with disbelief. There were streamers and other party accessories draped over almost every piece of furniture in the main hall and scantily clad women draped over the drunken soldiers.
He'd spotted Sam, his friend whose IQ rivaled the combined intellectual power of every man in this house, on one side of the room, nursing a beer and chatting with the rest of their teammates. She was one of the only women in their expedition but instead of cringing and leaving the party, if this amount of debauchery could actually be called a party, she stood her ground and laughed with her colleagues. Thankfully, her teammembers were just as uncomfortable in the scene as she was. Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell had been raised a good Christian boy in Texas and had turned into a real gentleman in his adult years. Teal'c of Chulak was a refugee from the southern continent of Goa whose culture centered on honour and where this kind of depravity would never have been condoned. And Daniel himself, the fourth member of the team, was quite comfortable admitting he was a geek in almost every sense of the word and having half-naked women try to talk him into sex was not how he preferred to unwind.
As Daniel had made his way toward them, the crowds parted a bit and he noticed Jack O'Neill leaning against the wall beside Cameron. He'd been part of SG-1 before his promotion and had since retired to be a highly respected civilian consultant to their program like Daniel. Military heads had almost twisted clean off their shoulders in shock when General Jack O'Neill had declared his resignation, and puzzlement had been the sensation of the day when he'd announced that he wouldn't actually be leaving the program. It hadn't made sense, not to anyone outside of their tightly-knit team anyway, and Cameron, the newest member, was only now beginning to understand his idol's decision as Jack started showing up at all their private function and never strayed far from their blonde astrophysicist.
Before he reached his friends, Major Ferretti who'd just recently been promoted to Lt. Col. Ferretti – one of the reasons for this party – had accosted him and thrown an arm over his shoulders to lean in and greet Daniel. From the man's breath, Daniel guessed he'd been partying for a few hours already.
"Dr. Jackson!" he greeted loudly and swayed a bit.
"Ferretti." he returned with a wince as the man tripped over himself and jerked Daniel a few feet sideways to steady himself.
"Congratulations on your promotion." Daniel said, hoping to get to his friends soon.
Gleeful eyes looked at him and Ferretti gave him a firm pat on the back.
"Thank you, doctor." he smiled "And many congrats to you for finding that thing that, you know…" Ferretti faltered and tried to simulate the artifact Daniel had found with his hands.
"You know this party is for both of us." he slurred to Daniel conspiratorially. "And I got enough women here to share." he chuckled sweeping his arm wide to indicate the throngs of what Daniel now understood to be professional prostitutes.
"I got 'em at a real good price too. Group rate an' all. And they're not allowed--their boss won't let them drink hiccup on duty, so you know, they won't puke if things get…interesting, you know?" he giggled and butt his head on Daniel's shoulder before shooting up again with serious eyes.
"Danny, can I call you Danny?" he asked but didn't wait for an answer. "Danny, I want you to look over there, by the bar. You see her?" Ferretti asked pointing shamelessly at the women at the bar.
"Which one?" Daniel asked tiredly and Ferretti turned wide, incredulous eyes at him.
"Which one, Danny? The gorgeous one in the blue bikini. The long black hair, soft creamy skin, big blue eyes and legs for miiiillles." he described her breathlessly before facing Daniel again with a cheesy grin.
"Her name's Valerie Johnson and she is soooo good, Danny. Had her twice already." he boasted and Daniel felt sick at the thought of the undoubtedly beautiful woman being used like that.
"Hey, Danny, hey." Ferretti prodded him with his beer "Danny, you can have her too, not for the whole night but you can try her out, it's on me." he offered the archeologist generously.
Daniel shrugged the soldier's arm off his shoulder and gave him a tight smile.
"Thanks, Ferretti, that's very nice of you but I think I should really go say hi to the guys now." he declined gracefully.
Ferretti looked at him blankly with owl eyes, seemingly confused before brightening.
"Oh yeaaah, you…yeah…and SG-1, yeah go, go. I'll keep her warm for you." he winked, laughing at his own joke and then stumbling back to the call-girl he was lusting after. Daniel took a cleansing breath to shake away the feeling of filth this celebration was forcing deep into the layers of his skin and made his way towards his team.
He had spent the rest of the night with them, drinking too much if his head this morning was any indication, but thankfully, he was alone in his bed. He knew he couldn't hold his liquor and feared the day that his teammates wouldn't be there to keep him out of trouble.
He sighed and looked at his clock. It read 5:33 am. Daniel frowned, that couldn't be right. He remembered seeing 2:09 A.M. on his clock before falling asleep and he had a hangover now so he should be in a drunken coma for at least another six or seven hours. What had woken him up?
He stayed silent in his bed but he couldn't hear anything, the party had obviously been put to rest and Daniel hoped he wouldn't find any naked couples on his way to breakfast in a few hours. He looked to his left to see the sky was lightening through his French doors. His room was more luxurious than the common soldiers'; all of SG-1's rooms were higher class, Jack's too. Those were the frills seniority and risking life and limb for the good of the nation got you.
Daniel couldn't get back to sleep so he got up to get some fresh air instead. His bare feet made no noise as he grabbed his robe and open the doors to step out onto his east-facing balcony. He leaned there, against the stone ledge, looking out onto the expanse of the mansion's estate, trying to soak up the peace of the morning to replace the chaotic depravity of last night. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, holding the crisp air in his lungs and almost choking on it when a horrible sound emerged from his room.
His head whipped around and he looked into his dark room with apprehension. All was quiet again. He took a few steps forward into his room and listened attentively. There it was again, that sound…someone was retching in his room. He noticed suddenly a light peeking under the door of his private bathroom and sighed in disgust. Some drunken idiot had mistaken his room for theirs and, by the sound of it, had made themselves quite at home.
Well he wanted sleep and despite his sympathy for the sick person, he intended to do so in his room alone and without the disgusting soundtrack. Daniel opened the door and both he and the bathroom's occupant looked shocked at the other's presence.
It wasn't a soldier, like Daniel had expected, it was one of the girls Ferretti had…hired. And he actually recognized this one, it was the woman Ferretti had generously offered him the night before. Valerie Johnson in the blue bikini. With the black hair, blue eyes, pale skin and legs for miles. Except that now she was huddled on his bathroom tiles, in a satin robe, her hair pulled back into a ponytail and her skin looking slightly greener than he recalled. Her eyes were still blue and weren't as red-rimmed as one would expect from a sick woman but they were haunted for a moment before clearing and brightening in a manner that felt entirely too artificial.
"Well hello there." she greeted all too cheerfully for a woman who'd just been heaving.
"Hello." Daniel finally spoke after his stupefaction had past. "Are you okay?"
Her eyebrow rose with an air of innocent ignorance and he motioned to the toilet she was kneeling beside. She laughed carelessly.
"Oh that. No, I'm fine, I must just have had a teensy bit too much to drink last night. I'm sorry if I woke you, I was under the impression that this room was empty." she apologized in a surprisingly sultry voice tinged heavily with an enchanting accent.
Daniel frowned, recalling his conversation with the drunken Ferretti the night before.
"I thought your boss forbade you from drinking." he mused and paused when a flicker of fear shot through her eyes before disappearing. She got up from the floor gingerly and moved to the sink, retrieving a bottle of mouth wash from her robe's pocket.
"Well, what she doesn't know won't hurt me, now will it?" she winked mischievously at him and raised the bottle to her lips.
She gargled and Daniel leaned against the doorway, crossing his arms and speaking again.
"No, I don't think you drank last night." he countered intuitively. She spit out and grinned at him.
"Were you watching me yesterday, darling? You should have come over, we could have had all sorts of fun." her eyebrows quirked naughtily and she took another swig of the mouth wash.
"No, no, I'm not really into…what you offer." he tried to be politically correct but he was getting flustered now. "Not that I don't like…what you offer, it's more the method…of offering… and you're avoiding the question. Why were you throwing up if you aren't sick?" he asked seriously. Her eyes flit down with shame and she faced him again with a distressed expression.
"Fine, you've caught me." she took in a deep breath and released it dramatically "I'm bulimic." she confessed and pursed her lips anxiously. His shocked eyes stared at her before something clicked in his mind and he glared at her.
"It's 5:30 in the morning, the kitchen isn't open yet. You didn't drink and you haven't eaten." he continued to expose her lie. She looked indignant before smirking.
"I had a chocolate bar in my purse." she countered smugly.
"You didn't bring a purse." he bluffed, not knowing whether that was true or not but he suspected he was right as her eyes grew wide with apprehension. She tried to make her way past him but he stopped her.
"Listen, just drop it. You don't know me, I don't know you. You have no business prying into my affairs." she told him sternly, trying to push him out of her way.
"You're throwing up in my bathroom and I do know who you are. You're Valerie Johnson." he said haughtily, not budging from his place in the doorway.
"Wrong." she said in a triumphant voice and shoved at him again. He rolled his eyes.
"Look, nobody throws up for no reason. Did Ferretti or one of the other guys hurt you? Did they make you take anything? They were pretty off their asses last night." he asked anxiously, looking her over for signs of abuse.
This stranger was looking at her with such concern and he didn't even know her. She was a whore-for-hire, he shouldn't care so much. Any other guy would have simply let her leave, happy to be rid of a sick woman. She sighed and stopped pushing him.
"No, nobody hurt me, and nobody made me take anything. Your friends, however 'off their asses' they might have been, are actually more courteous than the majority of the people I've…met." she finished lamely.
"So you are sick. You should see our doctor, you might have some bug or something." he said with a frown, automatically reaching a hand to her forehead to check for a fever.
His large hand was on her cool forehead and she couldn't help but stare up at him in wonderment. This man, this complete stranger, was anxious over her. Her heart melted and she wished fervently that she was sick. He might leave his hand there or offer to nurse her to health or something.
"You don't feel hot." he said, sounding puzzled and she couldn't help grinning lasciviously.
"That's because you're not touching the right places, darling." she said suggestively, reaching a hand to stroke the slight stubble along his jaw. Even in the very dim light of morning she could see his cheeks bloom pink and she could have swooned at his charming innocence. His hand fell from her forehead and his eyes shifted away nervously but he didn't step back or allow her room to escape the bathroom.
"Seriously, you should see Dr. Lam. I'm sure she can get you all better in no time." he told her, finally turning from the bathroom to fetch his shoes and day clothes.
She closed the bathroom light and pocketed her bottle of mouth wash.
"Listen, soldier boy, I appreciate the concern, but really, I'm not sick. I'm in the peak of health, honestly." she smirked and sauntered up to him, removing the good shirt in his hands that he'd grabbed from his dresser. "Would you care to find out for yourself?"
"Uh-" Daniel looked startled but his mind buzzed with another possibility. "Oh my god, are you…pregnant?" he breathed quietly imagining the consequences getting pregnant from one of her clients would have on her. Unless she had a boyfriend on the side, he had no reason to suspect she wouldn't. She was an attractive woman, surely with her skills, getting a date would be an effortless task. Oh, that sounded derogatory. His musings were halted as she frowned at him.
"No, I'm not pregnant! We have very strict rules on protection, you know." she told him, feeling slightly insulted that he'd think she wouldn't have the foresight to prevent such a possibility. She might not have the most reputable profession but she wasn't reckless or an idiot. She sat down on the edge of his bed in a huff with her arms crossed and he immediately felt contrite for having spoken in the first place. He sat down beside her, keeping a good foot between them.
"I'm sorry, I'm just trying to wonder why you could possibly be throwing up and now I'm…completely out of ideas." he tried to explain how his mind worked and she gave a small mirthless laugh.
"Trust me, you don't want to know why I was being sick." she said quietly, she should just leave this man's room and return to her client but…well she really didn't want to. There was a sense of peace here, a safety she didn't have the luxury of experiencing very often. He turned to face her, concern and determination etched on his face.
"What if I said I did?" he asked sincerely and she looked into his eyes to search for any hidden motives this stranger could have for prying into her personal life. To her great astonishment, she found only genuine curiosity and sympathy? She lowered her head and closed her eyes for a moment, tightening her robe around her body and making sure the hem reached her thighs as she thought of the reason for which she'd had the compulsion to walk into his bathroom and heave the contents of her stomach.
He saw Valerie, no, apparently she wasn't Valerie Johnson…he saw the woman pull her flimsy satin robe around herself and berated himself for his inconsideration.
"Are you cold?" he asked already halfway to his French doors to pull them shut.
"No, please don't close them, I like the morning air, it's refreshing." she latched onto the distraction from the conversation with a soft smile. He nodded and left the doors open instead made a detour to his dresser, pulling out a sweatshirt and a pair of sweat pants. He very much doubted the women had brought overnight bags with a change of clothes, he wondered where she even grabbed the robe she wore now. He returned to the bed and offered the clothes to her shyly, his heart skipping a beat when she looked at him with eyes that shone with amazement and gratitude.
"Thank you." she said softly and rose from the bed to change. As the robe slipped past her shoulders, Daniel was suddenly made aware that it was the only piece of clothing she'd been wearing and he swiftly turned around in embarrassment, feeling a warm flush rising up his neck. By the quiet giggle behind him, he knew she'd seen the red tinge climbing as well and he was powerless to prevent the blush from infesting his cheeks.
A delicate hand on his arm told him to turn as she'd finished changing. The sight of her drowning in his oversized clothes tugged hard at something in his chest and he took the robe she offered him.
"Could you give this back to the blonde woman you were with at the party yesterday?" she asked him and laughed when his eyes bulged out of his head.
"This is Sam's??" he asked, looking at the robe in his hands like it was a plague-ridden cloth. The woman nodded. The thought of the woman he considered a sister dressing in this practically non-existent robe was not doing good thing to his psyche and he placed the offending material on the chair near his door for later.
He turned back to the bed but found it empty. Apparently he'd taken too long staring awkwardly at the satin robe and his companion had moved to the lounging sofa on his balcony. It struck him as odd that she didn't seem the least bit inclined to leave his room but he certainly wasn't complaining…though he probably should be.
She was sitting on the cushion-covered wicker loveseat the previous owners had left. She sat with her knees drawn up to her chest, looking out at the rising sun mesmerized. Daniel hesitated before sitting in the space beside her.
"My name's Daniel by the way. Daniel Jackson." he said feeling like an idiot for having spent the last twenty minutes in her company without knowing her name. She apparently felt the same way as she ducked her head and smiled at him.
"I'm Vala. Vala Mal Doran." she said, putting her hand out to shake his. Their hands were warm against each other and neither felt absolutely inclined to let go. Daniel opened his mouth though, and the spell was broken.
"So who's Valerie Johnson?" he asked puzzled and she snorted before answering with a notably more American accent than she'd been using so far.
"Valerie Johnson is an all-American girl from Iowa. She was a cheerleader and now she's doing this to pay her way through graduate school." she said with a slight bitterness. Daniel was confused.
"Qetesh, the woman I work for, decided that my looks weren't exotic enough for my accent and so gave me a new personality to better appeal to her clients." Vala explained nonchalantly.
"Oh." Daniel had no better words for the evidently twisted scheme of her life.
"Yep." she popped her lips and they sat there in comfortable quiet for a while.
"Do you – Do you mind my asking…" Daniel started uncomfortably. He was very content to sit beside her and stay quiet but his curiosity had other ideas.
"You want to know why I'd live such a life." she finished softly and he nodded.
"Is it like the story? You're paying your way through school?" he asked half-hopefully and she began to laugh.
"No, it's nothing quite so virtuous, if such a word could ever be applied to my life." she said sorely, indulging in the rare moment of self-loathing before continuing.
"My mother…step-mother actually…Adria…" she began stiltedly before shaking her head and starting over.
"My real mother died when I was a teenager. Within a year, my father married the mistress he'd had on the side for years, Adria. However, Adria had borrowed an inordinate amount of money from Qetesh to elevate her previous husband to a higher position of power in their government. Then, when he died suddenly, leaving everything to his children from a former wife, she went to work for Qetesh at the house to pay her debt. My father met her there while I was very young and while he was still very married to my mother, and fell madly in love with her fabricated personality." Vala said irritably.
"Anyway, when my mother died, it gave my father the chance to marry his 'one true love'. The only problem was that Adria hadn't worked off her debt yet, she still had eleven years of service to fulfill and Qetesh wasn't willing to let her go. For a year they negotiated when finally Adria got a brilliant idea. You see, Qetesh doesn't care for people, Daniel, she only cares for her precious profit. So Adria offered her a profit: me." she spoke softly and Daniel felt bile rising in his throat.
"She offered her my body for fifteen years against her debt of eleven and she and my father went on their honeymoon while I became Qetesh's newest possession." she finished, her hands waving to represent her father leaving her.
Daniel sat stunned beside her, no words coming to his mind. She didn't look sad, she looked numb with the smallest hints of fury in her eyes. Her hands, however, were curled tightly around her knees as she stared sightlessly into the beautiful sunrise.
"I'm-" Daniel started to speak but Vala cut him off with a shake of her head. She knew there weren't any good words to follow the tale.
"That's why I was sick." she said softly, facing him after a long silence. "Every so often… it just gets to be too much. I just feel…too spent, too trashed and too disgusted to keep it all in." she whispered despondently, finally answering his original question, before returning to silence. "It's getting better actually." she brightened wryly "I used to get sick after every single client, now it only happens maybe once a month." she shrugged and fell quiet again. She didn't want to look at him and she didn't want him to speak. She just wanted…to be heard, she supposed.
Eons passed them by and neither spoke but they both began to feel the effects of the long, sleepless hours. Their sides were touching now and Vala's legs were folded under her sideways, causing her to lean into Daniel. Neither knew how it had happened but neither minded. The sun warmed their skin and the chirping birds lulled them gently into sleep.
When Daniel awoke next, it was to a bright sky and a heavy weight against his shoulder. His cheek rested comfortably on silky black hair and the feeling contrasted greatly with the painful clenching of his back against the wicker furniture. He was still sitting upright but he'd been pushed against the arm of the sofa as Vala stretched her legs out on her side. His right arm had wound itself around her warm body and his hand had instinctively starting stroking the material of the sweater she was wearing when he'd awoken. His subtle movements drew her out of sleep but she didn't move, opting instead to cherish the relaxed pose for longer.
"What time is it?" she finally mumbled into his chest and he smiled, looking up into the blue sky.
"Well, I'm not a naturalist but the sun is over the house now so I'm guessing it's somewhere around noon." he told her, his hand wandering down her arm to stroke the skin of her wrist absent-mindedly. Vala jumped up on the sofa.
"Noon?" she looked around worriedly for a clock. She ran into his room and he felt cold despite the heat of the sun.
"It's 11.30!" she exclaimed in relief as he joined her in his room.
"What's wrong?" he asked as she flopped onto his bed with a sigh.
"Nothing's wrong." she said "I just-It's time for us to leave soon."
"Us?" he asked and she sat up.
"Us. Me and the other girls. Back to the house." she explained.
Daniel stood before the bed dismayed and angered at the thought of Vala returning to the life she'd been leading. He'd only known her a few hours but he felt an irresistible pull toward her that had nothing to do with her blatant sexuality and more to do with the way she looked in his clothes and the way he'd felt her lips moving against his shirt when she'd spoken into his chest. He wanted to hold her, lose himself in her, hell he wanted to get to know her.
"You don't have to go back there, you could stay here." With me. She shook her head mournfully.
"I've thought of escape before, Daniel. And my parents weren't exactly upstanding citizens, I know exactly how to go about escaping and I could probably get myself out of the state with a new identity before long." she began "But Qetesh has contacts like no others I've ever know. She has people everywhere and the last two girls to leave did not make it back in one piece. A life of self-loathing is far more appealing than a life of constant fear anyway." she tried to joke.
"We can protect you, I'm sure my superiors would understand." Daniel tried.
"And what? Stay indoors with guards for the rest of my life?" she shot back before softening her face into a sweet smile that broke his heart. "I appreciate your concern, Daniel, but you don't need to worry about me. I'm nobody, just forget about today and meeting me and you can go about your life without another thought." she counseled him and he frowned at her.
"I can't just do that Vala. I can't just forget I met you, forget that you're going back to a horrible existence. I can't just push this out of my mind and pretend like you're not out there suffering somewhere." he told her fiercely and she got up from the bed to face him.
"Well you'll have to Daniel." she told him with finality "Besides, I only have about 300 000$ to repay which translates into roughly three years left to serve and then I'm free." she told him with a forced smile and Daniel scowled.
"You shouldn't have to-" he broke off in frustration and she stepped closer to him, wrapping her hands around his clenched fists.
"But I do." she said quietly.
"I'm sorry, Daniel." she said morosely and he finally looked down at her in question. "I'm sorry I told you all of this. I was being selfish and I should have never-" Daniel didn't give the chance to finish as he shook his hands free of hers and pulled her roughly into his arms. She stood stiffly in his hold with utter shock. He was hugging her? She'd been kissed, stroked, licked and violated by men over her years of service but this…this was an intimacy she'd rarely known and it took her breath away.
Daniel held her tightly to him for long moments before his doubts started creeping up on him. He'd wanted to comfort her so badly, wanted to lift the guilt from her shoulders, so he'd hugged her…but she remained frozen like a statue against him. Finally she seemed to relax and raised her arms tentatively from their position at her sides. He felt her touch on his back fleetingly before it disappeared. It was as if she was afraid of him.
"It's okay." Daniel whispered into her hair and not a beat later her arms closed around him like a vice and she buried her head into his shoulder. He tightened his arms around her body in response.
"I'll save you from this, Vala. I swear I will." he vowed and she broke gently out of their embrace. She looked up at him gently, with an indulgent smile that told him she believed his sincerity but knew it would never happen. She leaned up and placed a kiss on his lips so chaste that he'd never believed she was capable of the sensuality for which she was lusted after.
"I have to go." she said quietly when she ended the kiss. "I'll send you your clothes back."
"Keep them." he said distractedly and she nodded softly before leaving the room, closing the door with a gentle click leaving Daniel with the empty room.
Please let me know what you think!! I'll keep writing it because it's in my head but I won't post it if it's too icky or disturbing for the fans.