How Many Ways Can He Propose? - Series Finale

Down the ramp they came, first Mitchell followed by Teal'c and Sam and then Daniel and Vala.

Landry's voice spoke over the intercom. "Well done, SG-1, debriefing at 1300 hours."

All five glanced up to the control room and nodded. Handing their weapons off as they proceeded out the door, each held a grin of satisfaction. It was a job well done and they knew it.

"Dinner on me tonight" Cam rolled his sleeves up, looking back at the others. "The Bar-b-que express is leavin' at 1900 hours."

"Sounds good, I'll be ready." Sam caught up with Mitchell glancing back at Teal'c who bowed slightly. "My favorite American cuisine. I will accompany you."

Before anyone could ask Daniel intervened. "I'm taking Vala out to dinner, I kinda promised her and I may as well get it over with. I already have reservations."

Vala pursed her lips and eyed him speculatively, "you do?"

"Yes." He answered emphatically with a look of 'play along'.

"Oh that! Well yes. Right! I remember. Dinner."

Mitchell turned around backwards, still making his way down the corridor. "You two are just fuelin' the gossip mongers, I hope you know that. Now we're all gonna have to go through that ridiculous Jackson's dating Vala thing again." His eyes crinkled up as he smiled at the silly notion, "I'm hittin' the showers see ya at the briefing."

Vala followed Daniel all the way to his office. Once inside she questioned him with a contemplative frown. "Dinner? I don't remember you asking me to dinner. However, I would love to go. That makes twelve."

Removing his vest Daniel watched her, "twelve what?"

"Dates. This will make it an even dozen. I love these little 'dates' that we manage to sneak in."

"They're not dates, not really." He knew they were like dates; they'd started having the feel of dates somewhere along the line. Obviously somewhere along that same line Daniel had accepted the realization that Vala Mal Doran was an intricate part of his life. No way would he be able to extract her.

"I've started a chart."

Daniel stretched his sore muscles. "A chart. You're keeping a chart of … dates?"

"Absolutely." Vala sat in his chair and started removing her boots. "I have to take a shower before 1300 hours as in 1:00 o'clock which is in...well soon. What time are we going out, so I can plan on what to wear?"

Daniel grinned. She never ceased to amaze him. "I have a little work to do first, not much. I should have plenty of time after the debriefing."

"Daniel, I'll be starving by midnight."

He couldn't help but laugh. "Okay, no later than seven. Promise." He paused briefly, "what's on the chart?"

"Number of dates, number of times you put your hand on my back. There are lots of those, hand holding, not many. I actually leave my hand on the seat of the car just in case, but you tend to ignore it. And number of kisses. Temple kisses are frequent, that line is spiking up quite high. Cheek kisses I don't always remember to record, they tend to not really count since I get those from Cameron and Muscles. And the elusive mouth kiss." Vala sighed heavily dropping the boots she'd been holding to the floor. "Whenever I get that weird feeling you might kiss me, I wait in anticipation. Let me tell you about your mouth, darling. On those rare kissing occasions I find your mouth to be consistently hot and moist, like that volcano cake Sam made."

The aforementioned hot and moist mouth dropped open at her words. He experienced the strangest internal quaking and a noticeable longing.

"After twelve dates you're still quite stingy in the kiss department. I'm beginning to wonder where this whole thing is going." Vala picked up the boots and stood. "Well, I'm off to the showers." Sock footed she made a goofy face, shrugged her shoulders and headed out leaving Daniel bemused by the volcano cake comment.

……

Having been dressed and ready by 6:30 Vala sat, leg crossed and swinging, in the chair beside his desk. He was dressed in blue jeans and a non-descript plaid shirt writing in his journal, books spread across the desk. His mind was not on his work. He was worried. It would be pure suicide if anyone found out they were 'dating' which of course they weren't. Not really. So he enjoyed her company for a movie or a bite out. So?

She continuously huffed and puffed, pulled at her dark blue blouse, studied the crease of her black pants and inspected her high healed boots.

"Be still. I'm almost done." His eyes lifted to her briefly, landing right on her mouth at the instant her tongue came out to lick. The hot and moist thought had him dropping his eyes back to the page.

Her fingers were drumming on the desk and she sighed yet again. Without looking up he reach across and placed his hand atop hers turning the page of a book with the other.

Vala licked her teeth with a little tsck sound and stared at his hand atop hers.

Closing the book he smiled. "Done. Ready?"

……

He made a point to hold her hand in the car but she only rolled her eyes. "What? You said I didn't hold your hand enough."

"It's just not romantic when you do it because I mentioned it." Vala said with a slight edge to her voice. Her hand returned to her lap as his returned to the steering wheel.

They stopped at three restaurants but all three had a least an hours wait. "You really should have made a reservation. I'm starving." Vala pouted in earnest, glaring at him.

He'd done it again. Somehow pissed her off. Shaking his head in disgust he griped. "Well I thought you might like to go out alone - not with the team so I told Mitchell we had reservations. It was one of those spur of the moment things. You know, romantic - date like. You want to date? Well this is what people do on dates."

"Ha! Not likely. I could be eating bar-b-que by now." Vala crossed her arms and stared out the window.

"Fine." He slowed the car and made a u-turn. "I'll drop you off with them."

"Lovely. Thank you so much." She shot back sarcastically.

When he pulled up at Mitchell's favorite eatery Vala jumped out and slammed the car door, pranced up the walkway and disappeared into the building.

He pulled off resisting the urge to squeal the tires. Then berated himself for having such a juvenile thought. She could make him so angry! Nobody made him lose his self control…nobody but Vala. Five minutes later he was parking, slamming his door and scowl in place making his way into the restaurant.

Vala was at the counter picking up her order when Daniel spotted the others.

"Whoa, here's the other one. Lookin' just as ornery as her. Ey yie yie, I swear the way those two act you'd think there was something going on." Mitchell sat back and waited.

"It's going to be another rough night. I've never met two more antagonistic people. You know they're good friends but sometimes they act like they hate each other." Sam whispered then smiled up when Daniel took a seat.

Vala sat clear across the table and dug into her rib platter.

"DanielJackson, would you like a menu?"

"No."

"How 'bout a beer, Jackson?"

"No."

Sam pushed her plate across to him. "Sweet potato fries?"

"No." Daniel shoved the plate back to Sam a culpable expression on his face for a succinct moment. Then his gaze lifted to her happy chattering bouncy I don't give a damn self and his gaze fired up like a propane fed torch- blazing blue – and the hot and moist mouth slammed into a thin line.

Mitchell squeezed the bridge of his nose, rubbed his eyes then squeezed his nose again. Oh yeah, it's gonna be a great mission tomorrow with them on the warpath …again.

……

"Jackson, you and Vala take the high road and come around from the other side." The two seemed to be back on friendly ground, but Mitchell wasn't taking any chances. He wasn't about to listen to them quibble for hours on end. "Sam and Teal'c and me will take the direct route. I'll be hanging back on their six. We'll give you a good twenty minute lead. Radio if you spot somethin'. Head out."

Vala quick stepped it forward and took the lead; Daniel raised a hand at the back of her head and scrunched his fingers as if he was pulling at her hair.

The other three standing in a line, shoulder to shoulder, watched them with trepidation. "What the hell is wrong with those two?" Mitchell leaned an arm on his weapon.

"I believe that DanielJackson and ValaMalDoran have unresolved sexual tension between them."

Sam coughed, nearly choking. "Unresolved…" she paused, took a quick glance at the couple far ahead and then turned back to Teal'c. "You think?"

"No way." Mitchell placed his other arm across the rifle. "Jackson would rather spend the night with a room full of screamin' banshees then one …" he stopped, mouth open and eyes blinking in wonder. "Nah. Couldn't be." He checked his watch. "Ten minutes."

……

They struggled up the incline to get a good view of the town. Vala's foot slipped on a rock and Daniel grabbed her hips to steady her. As if he'd put his hands flat on an open flame he snatched them back the second she regained her footing.

"Thank you." She snapped begrudgingly.

He was in love with her, god help him. The grin that crept across his face was the result of his sudden realization that Vala made him happy even when she made him mad; that the simple gesture of touching her to stop her fall had sent a burst of wanting through him. And he'd hurt her feelings, again. How? He had no idea.

They reached the top without further incident. Standing close she felt his body heat wave into her and her heart ached. Daniel pulled out the scope and studied the village. Ori soldiers stood sentry everywhere he looked. "Damn."

"What?" Vala took the scope from him. Raising it further across the vista she let out a startled gasp. "Daniel look!" She pitched the scope and hit her radio. "Get out of there, a troop of about twenty Ori soldiers are headed straight for you." Both of them hit the ground and Daniel watched the troop make their way towards the Stargate and SG-1.

"Jackson, Vala, we'll hold the door open for you."

"No!" Daniel yelled into the radio. "Get to the 'Gate, we'll be fine. We'll hide out up here in the hills until they leave and then we'll 'Gate home. Go now, Mitchell, your time is running out."

"Contact you soon, Mitchell out."

Vala rolled to her back closing her eyes. Daniel, still on his stomach beside her had the scope trained across the meadow. "Their gone." He rolled to his back and stared at the yellow sky. Sliding his hand up under where hers lay on the earth, Daniel laced his fingers with hers, his thumb rubbing the web of soft skin. "We better find shelter before it starts getting dark."

"I'm still mad at you." She said without rancor, squeezing his hand.

"I know." With a gentle grip of her hand he pushed himself up, taking her with him. "Why is that again?"

"Well apparently it's the only way I know how to react to you." Brushing grass from her backside, Vala eyed him with a smile as vague as a shadow.

"Apparently."

Pointing across the other side of the hill Vala squinted. "What's that?"

Focusing the scope he brought it into clear view. "Looks like a cave. Let's check it out."

Tossing their packs down both of them sat leaning against the sides of the rock their packs behind them for comfort.

"We better not risk a fire." Daniel mused.

"Right. We shouldn't go too far into the cave, it might be risky." Vala answered.

"Right." He stretched his legs out, rolled his neck and reached into his vest. "Power bar?"

She folded her legs Indian style and retrieved her own from her vest. "Have one, thanks."

He checked his watch. "I'll take a look from the hill top in about an hour."

"I'll go with you."

"Sure."

She nodded with a little quirky smile.

……

Over the next two days the routine remained the same. Small talk and recon. The Ori soldiers appeared to have settled in for a long stay.

Vala gave Daniel lessons in stealing food and water. Daniel gave Vala lessons in reading the pictograms in the cave. They hadn't gotten a call from Mitchell, but the 'Gate was heavily guarded and the deep cave far from the Stargate.

They'd spent their nights sleeping little, taking turns on watch and chatting about the soldiers movements.

As the sun set on their third night Vala sat crossed leg in front of him as he leaned against his pack. "So. Any new charting?" Racing heart in his throat, Daniel twiddled a small stick between his fingers.

"It took a nose dive right off the bottom of the page." She was grinning, head down, tossing little stones out the entrance.

He pursed his lips and bobbed his head for a while. "Care to … you know … see if we can get it to climbing back up?"

Mouth shut and eyes wide, Vala tilted her head in his direction. "Why?"

"Because, Vala, I'm in love with you, even if I don't know how to show it."

She tried to glare unsuccessfully. "Daniel, I love you so much that if you are teasing me you'll break my heart."

"Come here." Daniel opened his arms wide in invitation.

Her features softened, then a smile began slowly until it finally morphed into a complete grin. Eyes twinkling and eyebrows waggling, Vala moved to her hands and knees and crawled towards him. He reached and grabbed her under her arms and yanked her onto his lap, mouth swooping in for the kiss. A full blown wide mouthed mesh of teeth, tongues and lips. Naquadah powered - long denied passion ignited magma hot and raging steaming-kettle moist.

His subconscious mind registered the enveloping tingle, the feeling of loss of physical self but so spellbound by the fervor of having her - at last - no longer deprived of what he wanted more than life itself, Daniel only tightened his hold on her, welding their bodies into one.

Vala wouldn't have noticed the transport beam anymore than if the world had exploded and she were dead.

The damp cave disappeared and hard rock and earth turned to cool metal. Daniel was first to notice that something had changed. When he tried to pull his mouth back, she moved forward, doubling her effort, arms locking around his neck, determined to take every ounce of his strength, every bit of his breath…all of him. "Umm," He mumbled against the onslaught of her determined mouth.

Someone cleared their throat. Loudly. Vala jumped back falling from Daniel's lap to the floor of the Odyssey.

"Hi guys." What could he say? Daniel didn't even blush at the three who stood, brows furrowed and looking quite bewildered.

Vala managed to get on her hands and knees, tossed the hair out of her face and gazed up a little dumbfounded to see Teal'c, Sam and Cameron . Sitting back on her heels she squeaked out, "Hello."

"Hello." Mitchell scratched his head.

"Well, I guess you two are feeling good… I mean you're not feeling any … I mean…" Sam clamped her mouth shut.

"Obviously they have come to a resolution of their se…."

"Whoa!" Mitchell held out a hand toward Teal'c. "Don't. Go. There."

Vala sighed and sat fully on the floor leaning into Daniel. Nobody spoke; they just all stared at each other baffled for a long time. All of a sudden Mitchell burst out laughing,

"Does this mean I won't have to put up with anymore of your bickering?"

"I doubt that." Daniel put an arm around Vala and hugged her close.

"Probably not." Vala put a hand on Daniel's thigh.

"You two plannin' on getting up off the floor anytime soon?"

"Give us a minute, will you?" Daniel grinned.

Mitchell looked at the floor, out the window and then at Sam, who grinning idiotically, turned and left with Teal'c right behind her. "You both better be on the other side of that door in ten minutes or I'm comin' in and dragging you out. Regardless!"

As the door swished closed Vala turned and smiled at Daniel. "I must look a fright."

"You've never looked more beautiful."

"You've never looked more handsome." Her hand went to his cheek.

"What now?"

Vala moved back into his lap and placed her head on is shoulder. "Now you just hold me."

"I'd like to do that forever."

"Is that a proposal?"

"And if it were?"

"JACKSON! You got five minutes."

Vala giggled, kissing the underside of his chin. "If it were, I could definitely spend the rest of my life fighting and making up."

"Sounds like a perfect marriage." His lips took a slow dive for hers.

"Mmm, perfect." Her mouth came up to meet his.

Outside the door Mitchell's hand hesitated over the controls. He checked his watch and measured his options.

Sam and Teal'c both leaned against the wall waiting to see what he would do.

"ColonelMitchell, would it not be wise to extend the allotted time you gave to them?"

"Yeah, Cam, don't you think we should wait at least another few minutes?" Sam quirked her mouth, "Hmm?"

"Landry's expecting us to report, he's standing by." Mitchell punched the controls over worried about what he'd find. The couple stood nose to nose in front of the large window as the stars streamed past in the dark of space. "Jackson. Landry's waiting." Cam said softly hating the need to interrupt as much as the need to be here right now.

Daniel, who'd been speaking low, his forehead against Vala's, broke the contact and shifted his eyes briefly to the three with a slight nod of acknowledgement. His hand brushed the tangled mass of hair from her deliriously grinning face as his gaze returned to her.

Cam and the rest of the team moved slowly into the room, all with heads down wishing they were someplace else.

"You were saying?" Vala prompted Daniel, not bothering to turn to the others.

"It'll wait." One hand held her neck, still holding the hair from her face while the other one lay flat on her lower back.

"No, darling, it won't. They'll find out anyway. Go on."

Closing his eyes, Daniel once again placed his forehead against hers. "Okay." He said in a low intimate whisper. "I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side." The hand on her back came up to cup her arm above her elbow.

"Daniel, could you open your eyes? It would make it more romantic." His eyes opened revealing such intensity that Vala blinked with a small gasp. "Never mind." She closed her eyes and waited breathless.

He chuckled. "This is already extremely difficult with the three stooges looking on." He sighed. "You're sure this can't wait? Landry's expecting us."

"Come on Jackson, please get it over with. I'm takin' notes, just in case I need them later on."

Vala turned her head, eyes popping open. "Cameron, if you don't be quiet I will have to ask you to leave. This is an important and sacred occasion." She turned back to Daniel.

Both his hands came to her shoulders and he moved her back a pace. His head dropped. "My heart is beating so fast I don't think I'm going to be able to do this."

Vala's hand went to his heart. "I love you too. Daniel, will you marry me?"

Head snapping up and mouth opening in amazement he tried to speak.

Sam laid a hand on Mitchell's shoulder, looking all sappy eyed and happy while Mitchell closed his eyes and shook his head. Teal'c watched observantly with a smile plastered on his usually frowning lips.

"Yes." Daniel finally answered and the room filled with laughter.

THE END - How Many Ways Can He Propose? NONE!

A/N: This is the end of How Many Ways Can I Say I Love You. Thanks so much for all the wonderful review and comments. I am happy that so many of you share my love for these two! A big hug to Mari and Sam for the betas.