She Didn't Have Time
Summary: She just didn't have time.
A/N: I posted this over on the daniel/vala community on LJ like a month ago, but never posted it on here. It is completely AU, so there are no spoiler warnings (except that you have to know the characters, obviously!).
Now if you know where the title comes from, then you'll know the basic outline of the whole thing. If you don't know, 'She Didn't Have Time' is a song by Terri Clark (high five for all my fellow country fans out there!). It started playing while my ipod was on shuffle while i was walking to class (this seems to happen a lot...ipod on shuffle and i get inspired!), and i just KNEW I had to write a fic to it. So I did, and here's the result!
If you've never heard the song, I highly recommend you go out and download it, or go to Terri Clark's official website and watch the video there. It really is LVOE!
So without any more delay, here's the fic...
The purr of the zipper on his bag burned in her ears. Her head was spinning. This couldn't be happening - this WASN'T happening. He was NOT doing this to her, to them.
"You can't." She breathed, trying to block him from pulling more things from the closet. "You won't."
He pushed past her. "I am doing this, Vala." Clothes came off the pole, hangers and all. She watched him stuff them unceremoniously into his carry-all. He didn't care to take the hangers off, to fold them, because he was trying to get out of there as fast as he could. Away from the house, away from her, away from the life she'd dreamed about building with him. "I'm not what you need."
Vala stepped up to his back, placing a hand against him. He spun on his heels, away from her touch, and moved over to the bed. "You are what I need. Can't you see I love you? That she loves you?"
"Yeah, right." He laughed in genuine amusement and it tore her heart to pieces. "She's too young to know what love really is." He flipped his shaggy mop of brown hair back from his face. Finishing tossing all that he cared about into his bag, he zipped it shut and stalked purposely out of their bedroom.
"Don't say that." Vala answered as she followed him down the hall. If it was possible, her heart shattered into even smaller pieces as he barely spared a passing glance at the door a few steps down before moving out into the living room. As he dropped his bag to the floor to pull on his leather jacket, Vala stopped just beyond the hallway and crossed her arms. "You told me we were in this together. That you loved me and you would always be here for me."
He shook his head, smiling at her with pity. "I was young - Hell, I'm still young and so are you." He leaned down to shoulder his bag and snatch up his keys from the coffee table. "I didn't ask for any of this Val. When I promised you the world, I meant you and me. Nothing else." He brushed his hair back with fingers that had once caressed her body tenderly. "I tried, baby." He missed the way she squeezed her eyes shut at the endearment. "I really did, but I just can't do this. I wasn't cut out for this kind of stuff. You know I hate being tied down - I'm destined to be free and fly." On his words, he moved for the door and pulled it open.
She followed after him. "I can't do this alone. I need you." She stopped in the doorway as he stood poised on the edge of the porch.
His hair, one of his many rocker-type selling points, flew in the breeze as he shook his head again. "You're better off without me." Pulling his sunglasses out of a pocket on his jacket, and slid them on. "See ya around, babe."
Vala took a few steps down the porch as he walked to his suped-up black mustang. "Tomin, please." He didn't even bother looking at her as he started the car, pulled out of the driveway to their home, and down the street. She watched him as far as she could, noticing how he wasted no time to look back.
Tears stung in her eyes. She felt like even a stranger walking by on the street would have shown more compassion. Arms folded tightly across her chest, she walked back up the steps and into the house, closing the door behind her. Looking around, Vala couldn't help from feeling totally and completely lost.
She wanted nothing more than to rush to their...her room, slam the door shut, crawl in bed and not get up ever again. She wanted to cry and call her mother and sob to her about what'd happened. Of course it would result in nothing but a lecture for her mother had told her he'd do this. But Vala'd been too blind to listen. Blinded by his bad boy good looks, and artistic attitude. He was carefree and wild, and she'd fallen hard for it all. Fallen so obliviously to his charms that she'd actually believed him when Tomin had said he'd loved her. Would love to have a family with her someday. Someday came sooner then they'd expected - Vala had found herself pregnant, at twenty, with his child.
A cry broke through the house and shook Vala from her memories. Wiping away the tears dangerously close to falling from her eyes, she willed herself to take control. She didn't have time to cry or wallow in the misery he'd just left with her. No, there wasn't time for any of that.
Not when she had a daughter to take care of. Keeping that determination in mind, she moved across the living room and into the room a little down the hall from hers. Stepping up to the crib by the window, Vala leaned in and picked up the sobbing baby in her arms.
"Oh, mommy's little girl is hungry, isn't she?" She pouted at her two year old's scrunched-up face. The little one nodded, and Vala brushed her hand through her silky brown hair. "How about we fix that?"
Not even an hour later, she was carrying her lethargic daughter into her own bedroom.
"You're gonna sleep with mommy tonight, Hayden." Vala smiled as she sat down on the edge of the bed, placing the sleepy girl back against the pillows.
"Daddy?" Hayden asked, sticking her thumb in her mouth.
Vala kept her face calm, knowing the question was bound to be asked. "Daddy's not here. He's not gonna be here for a long time."
Whether it was because she was so tired, or because she'd already figured it out, Hayden just shrugged at the news. She continued to suck her thumb. "Blankie?" She mumbled around it.
"Oh no! Mommy left that in your room!" Vala gasped dramatically, smacking her forehead dramatically and making the girl giggle. She patted a tiny leg, and stood up. "Stay here, I'll go get it." Vala quickly went to Hayden's room, grabbed the pink blanket from her crib, and made her way back to the bedroom. Hayden was already drifting off to sleep.
Picking her up, Vala settled back against the pillows and laid her daughter against her chest. She draped the pink blanket over her small body and gently wrapped her arms around Hayden.
Vala rested her cheek against Hayden's hair. "I love you, Hayds. And I don't know how I'm gonna do it, but I promise to give you the best life I possibly can."
Three Years Later
Everyday, she would repeat the unheard promise made to her daughter. Whether it was in the shower before work, while waiting in line at the coffee kiosk during her break, or standing in front of the stove making dinner - she'd always say it. Because she was determined to keep that promise.
Trudging up the steps to her house, which she struggled to keep in her name, Vala softly whispered the promise to herself. She was exhausted from a long day of managing the warehouse section of a department store in town. She'd held the same job since Tomin had forced her to find work after his grand exit. It was slightly reassuring to know she could hold a steady job, but as each year passed, it was harder to maintain a comfortable living - at least for her daughter. Besides, being a manager of a warehouse of a department store at age 25 was not something to boast about. Not when most of her friends and family were successful and happy.
Vala pushed open the front door to find her arms full of five year old.
"Mommy!" Hayden squealed happily as she squeezed her mother.
Laughing despite her exhaustion, Vala hugged her back. "Well, hi there munchkin." Waddling into the house since Hayden was standing on her feet, Vala closed the door. Finally, the girl released her, smiling up into her mother's face. "And how was your day?"
Hayden bounced in place. "Good. We did a lot of painting today." Her face lit up suddenly. "Oh!" She grabbed Vala's hand and began dragging her into the kitchen. "I made you a picture, mommy!"
"Oh?" Vala gave a hello nod to her best friend Carolyn, who was Hayden's babysitter during the day. The woman had been a godsend to Vala for the past three years. Besides being one of the few close friends she had, Carolyn had been a very resourceful caretaker for her daughter. Her friend was an emergency vet who worked the night shift, meaning she could watch Hayden during the day while Vala worked. Carolyn was a mother of two herself, so she had the child caring thing down to a t. Of course, she was also happily married to the father of her children, but Vala couldn't hold that against her friend. Especially when Carolyn and her husband Cameron had been her strongest support through the tougher times.
A paper was thrust into her line of vision. "Wow..." Vala drawled, taking a seat at the kitchen table. She examined the painting with the critical eye of a mother. "That's beautiful, Hayds." She pointed a finger at one rather well-drawn person. "Is that me?"
Nodding excitedly, Hayden made her mother lower the picture a little so she could point at it. "Yep, that's you."
"And who's that?" Vala asked curiously, pointing to the other person on the page, taking "her" person by the hand.
Hayden giggled. "That's your hero, mommy." She exclaimed with delight. "I had a dream about him. He came and took your hand and made everything all better."
Vala blinked in surprise, looking at Carolyn who held up her hands in uncertainty. "Uh, why can't I see his face?" She asked. Her supposed 'hero' had his face turned away from her. Part of her was disappointed about that, though she couldn't explain why.
Shrugging, Hayden smiled. She was oblivious to the looks Carolyn was giving Vala. "I never saw it in my dream." She turned to look into her mother's eyes. "I just saw him come and help you, and you smiled when he did. Do you like it, mommy?"
"Oh, very much so." Vala smiled despite what she was feeling inside. She drew the little girl in to place a kiss into her hair. "I'll put it in my room, right above the bed."
Smiling brighter, Hayden pulled back. "Okay." And like any child her age, her interest jumped to something completely unrelated. "Can I go watch some tv now?"
Vala laughed and nodded. "Yes, but none of that stuff I told you not to watch without me." Hayden had taken off the moment she'd said yes, so she got no response in return. Shaking her head, Vala turned her gaze on Carolyn, who was offering her a cup of coffee. She greatly accepted it.
"You know, it's gotten pretty bad when your five year old starts dreaming up men for you." Carolyn murmured before sipping from her cup.
Vala just fixed her with a well worn out glare. This was a conversation they'd been round and round on, even more so recently. It was a constant in her life - people telling her she should go out and look for a man. 'Ya don't know who you might find, if you just looked.' But she didn't have time to look. Between supporting her daughter, taking her to ballet class on Tuesdays, and piano lessons on Sundays, and little league t-ball on Friday nights, Vala barely had time to herself to just be. She felt life passing her by, with her unable to do anything but watch. That was the price she paid to keep her baby happy.
"If you weren't in this house all the time, maybe you'd meet someone new." Carolyn finally said, knowing Vala was thinking the exact thing she was - just on her usual opposite end of the argument.
Sighing, Vala set her mug down. "Carolyn, I work all day, and spend the evenings and weekends with my daughter. I barely get a chance to clean my own house, let alone make enough income to stay in it. I don't have time for anyone else except who I already have. Hell, I don't even have the time to lie in bed at night and contemplate the loneliness I feel. For me, it's work, Hayden, and sleep."
Carolyn frowned in sympathetic understanding. She reached out to cover Vala's hand with her own. "I know, hunny. But just give yourself one night out, try it. Get away from this house, and your daughter, for an evening. Cam and I would be glad to take Hayden for a night. Cassidy would surely love it - the two are practically sisters seeing as you're pretty much family." She smiled. "You gotta put yourself back out there. It's been three years."
"Yeah, three years of nothing but being a mom." Vala laughed humorlessly. Not because she didn't like being a mom. She did. It was because it'd put a major cramp on her romance life. Not that she was looking for romance - she'd made that mistake once already. "I don't know how to be anything but a mommy anymore." As Carolyn opened her mouth, Vala rushed on. "Besides, where would I find the time to trust a man again? The only person of the male species who I completely trust is your husband. I already told you, I don't have the time for anyone else."
"Well, it's a comfort to know you trust Cameron." Carolyn offered, making both of them laugh. Realizing she wasn't gonna knock any kind of sense into her friend's head on the subject, she rose. "Okay, I've gotta go or said trustworthy man will be beyond insane by the time I get home." She moved to the sink to rinse her cup. "Cassidy and Brian have been at each other's throats all week."
Vala winced dramatically. "Makes me glad that I only had one." Her and Carolyn shared a kiss on the cheek. "And weary about sending her over there for the night."
Rolling her eyes, Carolyn took Vala's hand. "I meant what I said, though. If you ever decide to jump back into it, just drop Hayden off. No warning."
"As tempting as the offer is," Vala laughed as she walked her friend to the door. Carolyn said a goodbye to Hayden, but the girl just waved it off dismissively as she was so wrapped up in her tv show. "I don't think I'll be taking you up on it." She finally finished, leaning on the open door.
Carolyn nodded, rolling her eyes again. "Yeah, yeah." She offered a wave as she moved down the porch. "Bye girl."
Vala waved then closed the door. Leaning back on it, she succumbed to her exhaustion for a moment. The sound of Hayden giggling at the tv snapped her out of it. Looking at her daughter on the floor in the sunken living room, Vala breathed in deep. Then she clapped her hands together.
"So what, my dear daughter, are we making for dinner tonight?"
Vala stepped out into the parking lot of the shopping center, the sun beating down on her. She squinted her eyes against the bright light, her sunglasses only doing a marginal job of dimming it. A few grocery bags in one hand, the other holding her cell phone to her ear, she expertly maneuvered her way through the parking lot, her hair blowing behind her.
"Seriously, you need to stop." She laughed into the phone. Her eyes roamed across the rows of cars. Spotting hers, Vala started towards it. "I don't care how cute Cam's younger brother is, I'm not just gonna up and go on a date with him."
Vala shook her head, laughing again. "We've been over this. I don't have time for anyone but Hayden, and on occasion the few crazy people who I consider friends." She grinned, finally emerging on the row her car was parked on. "Oh, I'm sure you resent that remark terribly well." Her smile fell as her car came into view.
"Shit!" She picked up her pace a little, coming to a stop directly behind the car. "I've got a damn flat tire!" Vala shook her head in disbelief. Of all the times for this to happen. She had a crap load of errands to get done, and no one around to come help her out. Carolyn was stuck at home with her two children and Hayden while Cameron was off helping a friend pull a tree from his yard. "I seriously don't have time for this shit."
Rubbing her forehead, Vala sighed. "Look, I'll call you back - Yes, I know. No, don't bother. He's probably half drunk by now anyway. I'll just find someone..." She scanned the immediate area for a person who could help her. For such a large parking lot full of cars, there was a very annoying shortage of people. Just her luck. "Yes, there's people around." She lied into the phone. Vala didn't want to put more on Carolyn then she already had. "Carolyn, let me take care of this and I'll call you back, I promise."
She hung up the phone, finally set free from her friend's slightly concerned voice. Moving to the passenger door, Vala unlocked it and placed her purse and groceries inside. Sliding her phone in her pocket, she went to examine the tire again. She didn't remember it being that way when she'd pulled into the spot, but she couldn't be sure. Either way, the tire was flat and Vala was stuck with no immediate help.
Looking around again, she saw a couple walking one row over. "Excuse me!" They looked at her, and she smiled. "Hi, do you think I could use your help for just a moment? See, my tire's flat and I really have-" Her words trailed off as the couple just rolled their eyes and continued on their way. "Please! I really need your-" She sighed as they climbed in their car. "Fine!"
Another person, an older man, was heading her direction. "Sir, please, can I get your help for a few minutes? I need to fix my tire and-"
"Call a tow truck." The old man grumbled, brushing past her grumpily. He didn't give her car a second glance as he trudged on by.
Vala threw her hand up in the air. "Thank you very much!" She shouted sarcastically. "God! I hate people. Doesn't anybody show any compassion anymore? Hell!" She knelt down before the offending tire and smacked her hand at it in agitation. "Call a tow truck...what an asshole!"
So wrapped up in her ranting to the tire, Vala failed to notice the shadow that fell across her and the car.
Squinting behind her dark sunglasses, she looked up into the slightly concerned face of a rather attractive young man. He held a tattered book and a Starbucks coffee cup in his hand. "Do you need some help?"
It took a moment for Vala to register that someone was actually asking her that question. "Yes!" She finally said, coming to stand. Putting her initial shock of his good looks out of her mind, she turned her thoughts to the task at hand. He was way too good looking to be available and besides...she didn't have time for a man. That was what she'd been telling herself for the past three years, and she was too stubborn to give up on the idea. "My tire just decided to go and get flat on me, and I have like a crap load of errands to run still."
He flashed her a charming smile. "Well then, why don't we fix it so you can get on your errand running way." He moved forward to place his book and coffee on the hood of the car.
"Oh, thank you!" Vala sighed in relief. "You are like my hero."
His blue eyes glanced at her as he squatted down to examine the damage to her tire. "Don't go thanking me yet. I haven't even gotten the tire off."
Vala shooked her head, not being able to fight the smile that came to match his. "Well, just the fact that you are actually helping is a gift."
"Well, I heard you cursing the entire human race from across the way." He grinned, his eyes shining over the rim of his glasses. "I figured I'd come and put a good word in, if only out of selfishness to keep my name pure."
The laugh he let out was infectious and Vala couldn't help joining along.
"I must admit," Her new found helper grinned as he moved to stand. "These tires you have are pretty damn stubborn." He wiped his greasy hands down his jeans. "But, I think you should be set."
Vala felt she could hug him. "See, now you are my hero." She sighed in relief for a second time. "Mister...?"
"Daniel." He shook the hand Vala offered out to him. "Daniel Jackson. And please, don't call me a hero. All I did was help you fix a tire." His smile was sweet and modest.
She shook her head. "No, you helped me out a lot, Mister Jackson. I feel like I should give you something for your help." Vala moved to grab her purse from the passenger seat.
His hand came up in a friendly manner, stopping her. "Daniel, please. And I couldn't accept anything."
"Yes, you must." Vala tried to get to her purse again. "You dropped whatever you were doing-"
"You ruined your pants."
"I can always get a new pair." Daniel smirked. "Besides, these ones need a little character anyway."
Vala stared at him, trying not to get lost in his intense blue gaze. "Daniel, please. Let me repay you in some way..."
Daniel quirked an eyebrow at her, and Vala found it to be unbelievably sexy. "How can you expect me to take money from you when I don't even know your name?" He asked with amusement.
She couldn't help from grinning bashfully. "Oh, right." Vala laughed with embarrassment, shifting her gaze to the pavement. "I'm Vala Mal Duran."
"Vala." Daniel said thoughtfully. "That's a uniquely amazing name."
Her grey eyes came up in somewhat disbelief. Did he just pull a line on her? The thought fizzled out at the sincerity she found in those blue eyes. No, he'd actually meant it. Her cheeks burned a little warmer, and it wasn't from the blazing sun.
Clapping his hands together softly, Daniel held them out to her in a sort of offering. "Well, Vala Mal Duran, you want to repay me?" She nodded adamantly. "Have coffee with me. Please."
"Oh, I...I can't." Vala was caught off guard by his request. She'd much rather give him the money and go - at least that was what her mind was telling her. She wouldn't let herself fall for any charms... "I have errands to run and-"
She froze as he placed a gentle hand against her shoulder. "Vala, please. Just one cup of coffee, then you can go back to your busy life. That's all I'm asking you give me. One cup and you'll never have to see me again."
Vala was surprised that she didn't like the idea of not looking into those blue eyes again.
"Besides..." Daniel smirked as he picked up his forgotten Starbucks cup. "I'm pretty sure this wouldn't taste any better than awful at this point."
Smiling before she could stop herself, Vala nodded finally. "Just one cup and I insist on paying!" She emphasized by holding up a finger.
Daniel nodded. "Excellent."
She found she couldn't keep the smile off her face as she sat opposite Daniel. He was telling her about some of the papers he'd recently received in the class he was teaching. She'd already found out he was still in school, on the road towards earning his doctorate in archaeology. He currently worked as a T.A. who taught a class on Ancient Egyptian history at the local college. From the way he talked about it, she could tell he loved his job. She envied him that.
"You sound like you really enjoy it." Vala murmured, sipping from her cup. One cup had somehow turned into two, and two had turned into more as the pair had chatted up their little corner of the Starbucks in the same shopping center where they'd met. That seemed like ages ago to her now.
Daniel nodded around his smile as he stirred the spoon in his cup absently. "I really do..." He tilted his head as he gazed at her. There was a look in those blue eyes that shook Vala to the core. "What about you?" His voice was curious. "We've spent all this time talking about me. What does the human-race cursing Vala Mal Duran do?"
Laughing at the name he'd given her, Vala shook her head. "Oh, it's nothing important."
"I find that hard to believe." Daniel offered her before sipping his coffee.
Vala blushed. "No, really. Working as warehouse manager at Walmart isn't something to brag about. I mean, it's not like I'm steering students on the way to their futures or anything."
It was Daniel's turn to blush a little. "Yeah, I doubt even a quarter of those kids in that class come to my lectures sober, let alone to hear me ramble on about the various Ramses that ruled throughout Egyptian history."
She found herself smiling again. There was something about the light shining in his blue eyes, the soft edges of his lips quirked into a smirk, the faint show of stubble across his tanned cheeks. It was almost impossible to tear her eyes away from him. Gosh, he was just so damn handsome.
"So..." He leaned forward a little, and stared at his coffee as he stirred the spoon in it once more. "Do you have kids?" The question was asked gently, but it still threw her.
Vala felt her heart stop upon hearing it, and the weight of reality crashed down upon her. The haze of this pleasurable fantasy world she'd immersed herself in lifted. He still sat beautiful before her, but once more an uncrossable distance sat between them. For a moment, she thought about lying and saying no, allowing herself to stay lost in the pretend. But she didn't have time to play and she didn't have the time or the heart to lie to the sweet man before her.
"She's five." Was all she said, letting him know in two words that she was tied down and that he didn't need to be bothered with continuing down this path he was going.
Daniel nodded thoughtfully, then turned his gaze out the window. Vala braced herself for his inevitable comment on how he suddenly had somewhere else he need to desperately be. Desperately away from her and the burdens she came with. She cursed herself on the inside. Of course this had been too good to be true.
"I saw the car seat." He finally said. She widened her eyes, suddenly realizing he'd known the whole time. Anger built up in her chest. Here he'd seemed so honest and trustworthy, but he'd been leading her on the whole time. Making her believe there was something possible when there was nothing but impossible. This was why she'd stopped trying! She knew she should have trusted her instincts and-
"I love kids." Daniel smiled warmly at her, and Vala's anger evaporated to be replaced by total surprise. "A very good friend of mine has a little boy. His name is Charlie - I'm his godfather, actually. Guess his parents are sure I can offer him a sort of protection, if you know what I mean." He laughed gently. "Yeah, I love him. No matter what, Charlie can always make me smile. Any child, actually. They just have a way of seeing the world..." He sighed pleasantly. "They have this filter that we lose along the way. They still see color when we only see black and white."
Vala stared, dumbfounded by his words. She found she couldn't speak for fear of making this obvious illusion, for it couldn't be anywhere near reality, end.
Daniel just continued to smile at her, seeming to understand her silence. "Does she have your eyes?" He murmured, and Vala finally understood what that look was. It was affection. "Because if she does, then she is the luckiest little girl in the world because I've never seen more beautiful eyes on anyone my entire life."
And suddenly she found herself standing at a fork in the road. One way led back to the same road she'd been traveling for what felt like a millennia. It was the one her mind was telling her to take, that this was all too perfect. No man would want that kind of baggage - she'd learned that the hard way. That she should just make a hasty retreat and never look back. The other road looked overgrown and lacking in any signs of travel, at least for a long time. And there seemed to be a cloud of fear and uncertainty hanging over it. But, for some reason, it felt right and her heart was telling her to take this one because on the other end she was seeing the first person in a long time to look at her differently, lovingly. That's when she knew she didn't have the time to be afraid of love anymore. Destiny was calling to her.
"Yes, she does have my eyes." Vala smiled. "But I'll have to disagree about what you said." As Daniel quirked his eyebrow curiously. "Because those radiant blue eyes I'm looking at are impossible to best."
A/N: Okie day, how many of you thought it was Daniel at first that was leaving her? COME ON GUYS! Like I would (or COULD) do that! Of course he had to be the one at the END!! I could continue on with this and make it its on series, but I'd have to see how many of ya'll would want to read it. So review and tell me what you think!