"Hey. You doin' okay?"
Daniel jerked out of his thoughts to see Vala standing in front of him in the hallway, eyes full of concern. He sighed, shrugging.
"Yeah. Just thinking."
"Well, I just was reading the Asgard's database…" Daniel told her.
"Tell me about it," Vala insisted. Daniel nodded, beginning to do so as he continued walking back to his quarters, Vala following. He generally didn't like sharing his thoughts on emotional things like this but, really…
What harm could it do?
"I mean, all they wanted to do was live a little longer. We're no different," Daniel said, not really noticing Vala was actually listening to him with interest. "Sequence DNA, cure diseases. One fatal mistake and they doom their entire race. I guess…no matter what you do, at the end of the day…life…is too short."
"I agree," Vala said sincerely. Daniel sighed, turning to the bookshelf, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyelids. He was getting a headache with all these morbid thoughts running around in his brain. He slipped his glasses back on and turned back to Vala to tell her he was going to find some Tylenol but stopped short at the sight he saw.
Vala had taken off her long-sleeved top, leaving it on Daniel's bed where she had sat, and was now sauntering towards Daniel with a skimpy camisole-style top and all-too familiar sense of purpose.
"What are you doing?"
"Something we should have done," Vala replied, "a long time ago."
She grabbed his belt buckle and began to undo it.
"Don't…do that,' Daniel said, exasperated, rolling his eyes and looking away as his heart jumped to his throat. Vala laughed shortly.
Daniel glared at her sternly as she began to undo his pants before jerking her hands away from the zipper. He was not going to let her do this to him, he told himself firmly. Then he pushed her away, turning his back to her so she couldn't see how scared she had gotten him.
"We've been here three months, Daniel!" he heard Vala exclaim. "Three months!" There was a pause. "You do like…girls…?"
Daniel turned back abruptly, offended. "Yes!" She knew he'd had a wife!
Vala looked reassured slightly. "Oh. Well, I don't see many other options around here, do you?"
Daniel crossed his arms. Options? Options? He was an option?
"Unless…you really…don't find me…attractive…"
Suddenly, Daniel turned on her. "Do you want an honest answer to that question?" Is that really all she cared about?
Vala turned away, an attempt to hide. "No."
"No, seriously, you started this! Do you want an honest answer to the question?" Daniel pushed, despite the internal screams to stop while he was ahead.
"No, don't worry about it," Vala insisted, voice soft as she picked up her shirt to pull back on.
"Do you believe I could have any kind of seriousfeelings for you?' Daniel asked, giving her a look that clearly said he didn't care if that stung when she looked at him, shocked.
"I-I-I wasn't…suggesting you have…serious feelings, Daniel…" she stuttered slowly.
"Oh! Oh, what, so what-what, we sleep together once and then what?" he asked, sincerely wanting to know what the hell went on in her head. "We work together! And you know, even saying that part out loud sounds unbelievable." He could clearly remember that fateful day on Prometheus… He had been such an idiot! "I mean…come on! I mean, I can't even imagine what a---what a relationship with you would belike! I mean, yes, yes, you've proven yourself to be trustworthy on a professional level, and for that I am very proud of you, but on a personal level?" Exactly why Daniel was in such a tizzy right now. "Vala, come on, gimme a break! I mean, a-a-at best, you're a…a…an emotional, unstable…wreck! I'm not sayin' I'm much better. I'm not sayin' I'm much better." This little outburst was proof enough of that.
"There was a time…when I thought…I would never get over my wife. I mean, the idea of…of being hurt that way again…" And now, in the fragile state he was currently in, that old familiar grief welled up inside of Daniel and he shut his eyes, gazing as the image Sha're in his mind's eye. But then he pushed it away, focusing on the matter at hand. "But I've finally gotten to the place, I've finally, for the first time in a longtime, have gotten to the place where I actually feel I could get close to somebody again!" There had been women since Sha're, but he had known he hadn't wanted an actual relationship, no matter how strong his feelings had been. But now… "But not in a million years, a million,million years would I ever possibly consider that person being you!" Liar. A little consideration had been all but all the same. And he had always come to the same conclusion. "I mean, we are so…completely…opposite and wrong for each other, it's not even funny! And the worst part, the worst part about that is, you know that! And this whole…flirty…sexual…thing that you do, that's just your way of having a laugh at my expense." And this was, again, why Daniel was having such a fit right now.
"So I'm so sorry if I'm not more appreciative of that," he bit sarcastically, glaring at her turned back, sitting on the edge of his bed. "And I'm so sorry that you're bored! But don't you pretend it's anything else!" He wanted that to hurt. Daniel, the one who went to extreme measures to preserve life, wanted to hurt Vala, like she had hurt him again and again. And now, finally, he was quiet, turning again to the bookshelf and resting his forehead on his arms.
A shaky breath from the woman behind him sparked that vengeful Daniel to life again, only to be quickly taken over by the fear that had fueled it.
"Don't…act like you're hurt." But, from the nervous huff of breath Vala made as she finally pulled her shirt back over her head, Daniel knew he had hurt her.
Heart sinking with a plop to his stomach, Daniel walked over to the bed cautiously, watching with horror and concern as Vala moved to hide her face from him again.
"Just…gimme a minute," she chocked, tears evident in her cracked voice.
What have youdone?
"Look at me," he pleaded quietly, the headache from before turning into a pounding worry.
After taking a deep breath, Vala turned to meet his eyes…but immediately dropped her gaze. A string of colorful curses directed at his own stupidity ran through Daniel's head as Vala looked away again. Caution in his every movement, Daniel reached out to brush Vala's hair out of her face. The tearstains on her cheeks like daggers in his heart, he nudged her face towards his. Watching her expressions for any sign of protest, he leaned forward and kissed her. Relief flooded through his veins as she returned the kiss after a moment of surprise. He pulled back after a minute and met her eyes with a smile.
"You better not be messin' with me," he warned, half-jokingly. Vala recoiled, as if stung.
Daniel blinked, shocked. "What?"
Vala stood abruptly, staring at Daniel with pained eyes.
"You…I can't believe you!" she declared. Daniel stood slowly, confused.
"Wh--…what are you…"
"You…self-centered…bloated…conceited…jerk!" she screeched. With that proclamation, Vala turned heel and ran out the room, leaving Daniel staring at the spot she just had been, hating himself quite thoroughly.
"So. What'd you do?"
Daniel looked up from the untold wonders of the bottom of his coffee cup to see Cameron sitting down across the table from him.
"What do you mean?"
"I just ran into Vala," Cam told him, stopping like that would be enough information.
"So?" Daniel asked tersely, turning back to the coffee wonders.
"I asked her if she knew where you were," Cam said slowly, not sure if Daniel really hadn't caught on or simply didn't want to, "and she burst into this long string of…well, I think they were curses, it was in a different language. I think I caught your name inserted in there once or twice."
Cam rolled his eyes, convinced that Daniel knew exactly what he was talking about.
"C'mon, Jackson. What happened?"
"She made a move on me," Daniel finally replied, still staring intently at the bottom of his cup.
"And that has happened every week we've been on this blasted ship," Cam agreed. "What did you do?"
"She caught me at the worst time!" Daniel defended, looking up. Cam frowned.
"Ohhh…kaaay…what'd you do?"
"I ranted," the linguist answered, back to the coffee. "Angrily. For a while."
"And she…?" Cam prodded.
"Cried. The entire rant."
Cam winced. "Ouch."
Daniel nodded. "Yeah."
"I kissed her," Daniel admitted after a minute. Cam looked surprised.
"Bold move. She kiss you back?"
Cam stared at the archeologist quizzically for a moment. "Okay, there's got to be more."
"I told her she better not be messin' with me, jokingly, mind you, and she blew up and stormed out the door."
"You told her she better not be messin' with you?" Cam clarified slowly, running a hand through his hair. "That was…stupid."
"I wasn't thinking!" Daniel exclaimed, looking back up. "She didn't give me the chance to defend myself!"
"Jackson…" Cam said, like a parent to a child. "Really how much experience have you had with women?"
Daniel glared at him venomously. "More than you!"
"You keep tellin' yourself that," Cam told him off-handily. "She'd just cried because of your rant. Then you tell her she better not be messin' with you? You've got to expect some sort of reaction from that! I'm surprised she didn't slap you! …Or give you a good knee in the—"
"So what am I supposed to do?" Daniel demanded, annoyed.
"Talk to her!" Cam advised, like it was obvious. "Explain yourself and make it right!"
Daniel sighed, turning, once again, to the coffee wonders. "How was I supposed to know she wasn't just playing around? She scared me, Mitchell! I don't—"
"Hey, I don't want your excuses," Cam told him, raising his hands. "Save those for Vala."
Sighing again, Daniel nodded, pushing the coffee cup away and standing up. "All right. I'll go find her."
"Sam!" Daniel called, jogging to catch up with her. Sam turned, smiling tightly at him.
"Hey, Daniel," she greeted. "I was just looking for you."
Daniel bristled. "Lemme guess. You talked to Vala."
Sam nodded. "You need to talk to her, Daniel—"
Daniel waved a hand at her dismissively. "I'm going to," he assured her. "I was going to ask if you knew where she was."
Sam smiled at him, approving. "Last I saw her, she was in the gym. I'd be careful, though. She's being pretty vicious."
Daniel winced. "Thanks, Sam."
"Vala?" Daniel asked tentatively, walking into the gym. He couldn't see her as of yet, but he could hear wood hitting a dummy and swallowed down his apprehension.
Here goes nothing.
"Hey, Vala, can we talk?" he asked, coming up behind her sweaty figure. Suddenly, she whirled, aiming the wooden staff at Daniel's ankles. The linguist fell with a painful thud on his behind, barely able to react before having the end of the staff pressed hard against his Adam's apple. He chocked, eyeing the wood before looking up to Vala pleadingly.
"I don't know," she growled, pressing harder. "Can we?"
Daniel couldn't reply as his eyes watered, unhealthy gurgling sounds bubbling from his throat. Finally, Vala pulled the staff back and conked him in the head forcefully. Then she turned her back to him, walking a couple steps away. Daniel stayed on the floor, one hand massaging his throat, one hand rubbing the side of his head where she had hit him.
"I hate you," Vala told him conversationally, as if she were commenting on the weather. Daniel nodded slightly.
"I know. I hate me too."
A slight laugh filled the air and Daniel looked up to frown at her, confused. She turned back to face him, shaking her head amusedly.
"So. I suppose you came here to beg my forgiveness?" she asked with a smile.
Daniel grinned back. "On my hands and knees apparently." Then he grew serious. "And explain myself."
Vala nodded. "Good. I'm waiting."
Daniel sighed and hoisted himself up to his feet to look her squarely in the eye. "Vala, I—" He stopped abruptly, rethinking. "Ever since we first met on Prometheus, you've been the same when it comes to a relationship. At least, that's always what it's looked like. I was never around when Tomin was, so I don't know how you are around him, so, to me… it's always looked like love is a game in your eyes. I don't believe I've ever heard the words 'I love you' from your lips and whenever you try anything on me…well, it's exactly that, just trying something on me. Like I'm just another guy for you to check off on your list. Just another challenge." He sighed, closing his eyes and looking down at his feet.
"So after I realized I held…somewhat of a…a…an attraction for you…well, that hurt. I mean, I wanted to…to…well. You know. But…Vala, I've been hurt so many times in my life…I didn't want that to happen again! I was afraid. Afraid that, afterwards, you'd check me off your list and move on without a second thought. And, just now…well, I was already in a bad state after reading some of the Agard's database…you just caught me at a really bad moment, Vala. You almost got me that time. And it scared me. I was…more angry with myself than you. I shouldn't have yelled at you."
"Ya got that right," she muttered. "Okay, I get that part, Daniel. What about after you kissed me? 'You better not be messin' with me'. Remember that?"
Daniel sighed. "Yeah. I guess part of me was still afraid. But I still shouldn't have said that. Bad timing, eh?" he said, smiling. Vala smiled back.
"Yeah. My turn, I guess?"
Daniel blinked. "Uh…yeah. That'd…that'd be nice."
Vala blushed slightly, looking at her feet. "I…well. You were somewhat of simply a challenge at first. I'd never met a guy who…who wouldn't fall flat if I pulled something on them. So you intrigued me. Besides the fact there really was something about you that I liked. I couldn't pick it out at first. I knew you were dead sexy—"
Daniel coughed. Vala grinned.
"Are dead sexy," she amended. Daniel's forehead crinkled. "But there was something else…and then after I realized I loved you…I had already gotten into the habit of 'trying something on you'. And…I guess I was afraid too. Anytime I did try something on you, you were so cold and pushed me away so easily…I was afraid you'd…reject me or something. And I don't think I could've handled that."
"I guess we're both in fault then," Daniel mused, taking a step closer to Vala. Vala smiled, stepping forward as well.
"Yeah. We're both idiots."
Daniel laughed, resting his forehead against hers. "So we're good?"
Vala grinned, kissing his lips gently. "Oh, we'll be more than good in a moment, darling," she whispered, hands snaking up the front of Daniel's shirt. Daniel smiled grandly, returning the kiss and letting his own hands wander.
At the entrance of the gym, Teal'c walked in. He turned the direction Daniel and Vala currently were, saw the spectacle before him and turned back to leave the room.
This he was not going to interrupt.
A/N: I love reviewers and live for constructive criticism!