Title: The City of the Lost

Genre: Adventure/Romance

Rating: T/PG13

Pairing: D/V

Warnings/Spoilers: SG1-End of S10; SGA-Mid S4 (AoT never happened)

Disclaimer: These lovelies do not belong to me. I just enjoy playing with them. Thank you MGM and all of your affiliates for letting me borrow them for a bit.

Summary: A few months after Unending, SG1 discovers an artifact on an Ancient planet that may hold the key to the galaxy's survival against the Ori. D/V shippers welcome!

Big hugs go out to Aeryn for being my beta :)

Chapter 1

She found him in his usual place, surrounded by shelves of old artifacts and his beloved towers of nonsensical books. As was customary, his nose was buried in the one that looked the oldest. It was in no doubt inhabited by those evil-looking dust mite creatures she had read about in the allergy pamphlets she had found amongst his things when she had been bored.

The space between his eyebrows was set in their permanent wrinkle of deep concentration as he slowly leafed through the yellowed pages of binding. He hadn't yet noticed his attractive visitor. He rarely did. His mind was always entrenched in old, other-worldly dialects, Goa'uld proverbs, or some other ridiculous thing she would never understand.

"Competing for my title again, Daniel?" she declared, soundly reintroducing herself to the quiet room as she sauntered away from the door.

He looked up from his book, startled. Blue eyes peered back at her behind wire-framed spectacles. He never seemed quite as overjoyed to see her as she always hoped he'd be.

Realizing quickly, it was only Vala, he gave her a knowing glance before dropping his gaze back to his work. "What title would that be?"

She shrugged, trailing her fingers along the table in the center of his office. "The whole 'having no life outside the SGC' bit," she said throwing her mane of dark hair over her shoulder. "It's a wonder you leave the base at all with all of these fascinating books to keep you company in your free time."

He gave her a short frown at her sarcasm before quickly dismissing her.

Vala didn't let his lack of reaction bother her. It was the familiar way in which they interacted. She goaded him. He ignored her.

She turned away and let her eyes wander the shelves and walls for any new and interesting artifacts Daniel might have unboxed from their last mission. Her treasure seeking days may have been over, but that didn't mean that she still couldn't go through his things just for pleasure of it. Not that she held out much hope in finding anything. She had already exhausted every nook and cranny of his office only yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. By the look of his current activities, it was unlikely he had dragged himself away from his books to seek out the more exciting artifacts that they had retrieved from their last mission.

"Find anything interesting yet?" she asked in a bored tone while inspecting a familiar relic Daniel kept on his computer desk.

"I'm still struggling to translate the text on the artifact we found on P4X-587," he murmured searching the book in front of him. "I've been cross-referencing books of different Middle Eastern languages with little to no results. As close as I can tell, the closest origins it would have to Earth would be to that of the Aramaic language, but even that's a stretch."

She had no idea what Aramaic was, but she continued her query if only to be polite. "You mean that metal plate looking thingy? I don't remember seeing anything written on it," she said mindlessly rolling the old paperweight around in her palm.

"There wasn't," he continued looking up. "Dr. Lee noticed it while he and his team were going through a number of the artifacts we brought back. A short electrical burst from a naquadah generator brought ancient text to the surface."

"Ancient," she repeated. "As in the Ancients?" She placed the old relic back on his desk.

"Uh, no… I was referring to ancient as in…old." He turned to search his table for the object of discussion. "These glyphs actually have no similarities with any Ancient texts that I've studied." After a few seconds scattering his papers around, he found the object of discussion under a pile of papers in the left hand corner of his table. He lifted it and stared at it with a thoughtful frown. "However, it was found in a location that likely proves the artifact's existence during the time of Ancient settlement on the planet."

She gave the artifact a pointed gaze. "So, not Ancient."

"No. I don't think so."

She didn't reply. Her brows knit as she contemplated the strange-looking artifact.

He lifted his eyes to hers for only a moment. "It may be the reason why this group of Ancients seemed to ascend on such a massive scale. And it may be the reason why we never heard of this group of Ancients up until this point."

"Or maybe it has nothing to do with any of that," she added flippantly. By his expression, he clearly didn't appreciate that possibility. She tapped the table thoughtfully, "Maybe there's an Ori connection?"

"Well, nothing so far leads us in that direction. This artifact is likely to be millions of years old. The Ori had no knowledge of our galaxy until the last couple of years."

"So we assume."

He raised his brows at her. "The Ori have admitted as much. Their book of Origin makes no mention of this galaxy or planet. Nor have I found any reference to them on the Ancient artifacts we did find."

"Ancient as in the Ancients?" she commented for clarification.

He frowned again, only this time it was for her, "Yes."

She tipped her head, pursed her lips, and stared once again at the object. "How do you know it wasn't something used by the Ori that the Ancient's stole when they left their galaxy?"

He sighed and fully turned around to face her. "Vala, contrary to your past experiences and inclinations, not everyone is predisposed to steal."

She ignored his counter. "Theoretically, it is possible that the Ori may have a connection."

He didn't reply, but he didn't deny it either. He simply gave her an aggravated look.

Her mouth lifted at her miniscule triumph, but she didn't share it with him. Instead she turned her attention back to the artifact in his hand.

She couldn't deny the mild curiosity he had arisen. While all that jumbo mumbo he spewed often fell admittedly on her own deaf ears, she occasionally picked up information that intrigued her.

Before he had time to react, she deftly lifted it out of his hands and took a step back. Holding it up to the light to inspect it a few moments, she scrunched her face up critically. "It just looks like metallic plate-ware to me. What are the sporadically placed holes for?"

Daniel slowly and deliberately snatched the artifact back "I have no idea."

She huffed, not appreciating the mild derision in his voice. "No need to be so unpleasant. I was only trying to help. If my theories are so unlikely, you must have some grand idea about what the artifact was used for."

He didn't immediately reply, but gave her a glance that told her she was becoming a nuisance, "I'm working on it."

Shoving a couple of his books over to the side to make space, she hopped up onto his table. "So, are you planning on working on this all night?" Then she made a face and rolled her eyes. "Oh, wait. That was a silly question. Of course you are."

"For a while, yes," he said, glaring slightly at the unwelcome torso now at eye level.

"I can think of some things you might enjoy more," she teased seductively, leaning her torso over into his personal space.

"I'm sure you can," he replied dryly, giving her a quick, knowing glance before returning his gaze to his books.

She was hardly offended. He rarely took the bait, but it didn't hurt a girl to try.

"Well," she said with a sigh, leaning back on her hands. "While you spent time locked up in here with your grimy books and dusty artifacts, Muscles and I enjoyed quality time together."

He hummed in reply, hardly sounding interested. He instead traded the book he had been looking at for another dustier one. Vala scrunched up her nose as she watched him peruse through the index in the back as a cloud of dust rose into the air.

"He and I spent the evening in his quarters," she continued, sliding a few inches down the table away from Daniel and his mite infested books. No wonder he had allergies.

"Yeah?" His brows were once again furrowed, as something in the text seemed to catch his attention.

"He was quite the host."

Daniel didn't reply. Apparently whatever he was reading was quite fascinating.

"And he was very enthusiastic." She made sure to drag out the last part, her tone thick with implications.

The pages continued to turn at a slow pace, her words clearly not having the effect she wanted.

She huffed, "You're not even listening."

"You and Teal'c spent the evening together in his quarters. He was a very enthusiastic host," he said in monotone, not giving her the satisfaction of a look.

"Yes, he was," she agreed, the corner of her mouth lifting with a smile anyway. He was listening. She shook her head and sighed dramatically. "Spending an evening with him was just plain exhausting!"

Finally, Daniel looked up at her pointedly. She stared back her eyes wide and unpretentious. "Have you ever watched Star Wars, Daniel?"

He immediately dropped his head back and rolled his eyes, but she continued.

"Fifteen hours of 'in a galaxy far, far away'? It can take a lot out of a girl. Thankfully that awful Binks creature only had major screen time in the first two."

He didn't reply. She looked down and found him back to ignoring her, again. You'd think she'd be used to it.

She groaned, sitting up, "Come on, Daniel. I've left you alone to your books and ancient objects all day. I only stopped by to ask about your day and tell you about mine. You could at least pretend to be interested." She managed a noteworthy pout.

He looked up again from his work, and seeing her gloomy face, managed to look somewhat rueful. She smiled inwardly.

He sighed dropping the pencil in his fingers to sit between the pages so as not to lose his spot and finally gave her his full attention. "I'm sorry. Tell me about your day."

She immediately perked up, a dazzling grin lighting up her face at his attempt at sincere interest. As usual she had no idea of the real effect it had on him.

"So Muscles and I had our moviethon," she began, swinging her legs against the desk as she narrated. "We hung out at his quarters, ate delivery pizza, and later he made popcorn with a loud popping machine that spun the little kernels around. And he let me sit in his leather recliner that had a little cup holder. I, of course, contributed to our day of fun by purchasing carbonated beverages from the vending machines and by covering the popcorn in pretend butter," she finished looking pleased with herself.

"Pretend butter? I'm assuming you mean zero calorie butter."

"Same thing?" she asked cocking her head.

"Sort of." He looked mildly amused. "What else did you do?"

"It was a long drawn out affair. Many hours were spent in front of Teal'c's 60 inch television surrounded by surround sound." Vala's features scrunched up thoughtfully. "Is there something we missed?"

He managed a smile. "No. I'm sure it was great."

"It was," Vala said, though clearly she no longer thought so as her face now looked perplexed wondering if Teal'c had forgotten to include something in their moviethon adventure.

"And now you're off to bed?" He inquired, nodding at her state of dress, hoping the change of topic would encourage her to leave so he could finish up his work.

While pajamas had been her chosen wardrobe for the moviethon, she didn't allow such an insinuation to pass her by. When her eyes locked with his, they sparkled with mischievous intent. She purposefully hopped off the table and took her time to saddle up closer to him. "Is that an invitation?"

He looked mildly exasperated. "No," he said.

Her face sank in disappointment.

He promptly turned his focus from her back to his mountain of literature.

Her pout still in place she moved closer to him and leaned her cheek on his shoulder. Gazing sorely over it, she looked at the book he was studying again. "We don't ever do anything fun."

"Vala," he spoke warningly. This was not the first time she had started this argument.

She settled more heavily into the nook in his neck. "No, I mean it, Daniel. When was the last time you ever treated yourself to a fun adventure? With me? We're always locked away in here looking through your filthy books trying to save the galaxy."

His face scrunched up, offended. "My books are not -" Then he stopped and frowned to himself. It was amazing how he could be completely baited into battles with her over the stupidest things. "And saving the galaxy is bad, how?"

"Well, not the 'saving the galaxy' part…but the books? Well, they're just so incredibly dull."

He sighed.

"Not that you're dull, Daniel," she interrupted, misinterpreting his sigh. "Well, not most of the time…" She lifted her head in thought. "Okay, well maybe some of the time-" He made a face and waved his hand briskly at her, informing her she should quit while she was ahead. She did, but sulked. "Everyone else takes time out to have fun with me."

He turned his head and raised brows at her childish whine.

She lifted her head off his shoulder and moved back so that he could see her full, slighted expression. "I am perfectly good company."

His expression didn't change. He clearly wasn't convinced.

Her brows furrowed as she felt a need to continue to defend herself. "Teal'c and I now have a standing movie day, once a month, where we can catch up with your Earth movies. When Samantha was here, every Tuesday afternoon she and I would go shopping on our lunch break. And Mitchell invited me to his high school reunion in Kansas a couple months ago and---okay, so I invited myself and had to beg him to let me go, but he eventually did and he never once tried to send me home, and… his mother loved me. Apparently, I'm very likeable, despite what you may think."

"I'm not saying I disagree," he admitted. "I think you can be likeable."

She tilted her head as her face lit up in sincere surprise. "Really?"

He gave her a half amused look. "Yes, occasionally."

She beamed at him.

He looked away. "Unfortunately with the threat of the Ori only a few star systems away, these dull, filthy books may hold the only answer to defeating them."

She sighed. "Oh, you always sound so doomsday."

"Because doomsday is exactly what we're facing, Vala"

Her shoulders drooped, immensely tired of this topic of conversation. "We face it daily. It's lost its new carpet smell."

"Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of not taking it seriously. There are other planets and star systems that are falling under the Ori occupation as we speak. The Jaffa? The Langerans? Numerous other planets? How do we ignore what they're facing right now? Or what they've had to face?" He laughed shortly, "Or what we're going to face."

She stared up at him, her blue eyes suddenly serious. "Daniel, you aren't responsible for all of the galaxy and all other civilizations in the universe."

"The Ori wouldn't even know about us if it weren't for me," he argued looking away.

That quieted her. He noticed and looked back over at her. Seeing her silent expression, his face immediately flooded with regret, knowing he had only reminded her of the responsibility she also felt.

She admitted it only a moment later. "If you brought the Ori here, then so did I. And actually I've got you beaten there too since I spawned their spiritual leader who has now ascended and probably has all the power of the dead ascended Ori in her pretty little pinky. So if anyone should feel responsible it's me," she said with finality. She sounded unaffected, though he knew her better.

She turned away and wandered back over to his desk. "I am barely managing the self-reproach I have towards myself about the whole Ori thing already. If I don't find something fun to do outside of this wretched place, well… as you know… I tend to be bothersome. I suppose it's an internal mechanism I have as a means to keep my mind off such things."

He didn't say anything. He simply studied her. It was rare when she admitted to her feelings, even in a self-diagnosis sort of way. More often than not she pretended to be untouched and nonchalant about things that really bothered her. The walls she had built up long ago protected precarious emotions. For the things that weren't so important she put on a grand performance and drove everybody, well, mostly him, crazy. Occasionally she fed him a piece of her more fragile self, though it was never intentionally. She preferred to stay ambiguous. There was less expectation that way. Though she could see by his expression, she might be broadcasting more than she preferred to at the moment. So she quickly returned to her more common state of being. Driving Daniel crazy.

Throwing her head back, she gave him a wounded expression. "Why can't we do something fun together, Daniel? You just admitted I'm occasionally likeable. Would it be so bad to spend an occasional hour with me outside the SGC?"

She plopped herself in his chair and continued before he could answer her question. "If you're worried about losing time, we could just stay here and have sex. It would take all of ten minutes and possibly relieve all this sexual tension between us," she finished with a cheeky grin.

His shoulders sagged, his surge of appreciation towards her faded as quickly as it had arrived.

Vala leaned an elbow on his desk. "When was the last time you took me anywhere?"

"I took you out to dinner."

"That doesn't count."

"Why?" he said with a sigh even though he already knew the answer to that question.

"Oh! Let's review, shall we?" she said returning to her feet. "On the way to the ladies' room I was injected with drugs via needle in the neck and later got zapped in the brain by the nice scientists with Goa'uld memory devices, which left me with no memory of myself while I wandered the streets like a homeless person. You don't really expect me to classify that as a fun date."

He straightened. "Okay, first of all it wasn't a date. It was just din-

She waved him off closing the distance between them. "All the good intentions in the galaxy do not account for the fact that our date was a complete disaster."

"It was not a date," he ground out. But arguing this point with her was about as useless as talking to a log. He shook his head and rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Fine, you plan something," he said before fully thinking out the suggestion.

She froze. Did he just ask her to plan a date for the two of them? "Really?"

She could see he immediately regretted the words. He grabbed another text off the pile, refusing to look at her, but he didn't retract the offer either. "Pick a day next week and we can spend a couple hours off base having fun." He made quotation marks in the air with his one hand for the last two words.

His sarcasm was not lost on her, but she didn't care. "You want me to plan our date?" she inquired further, a grin beginning to spread. He was really going to let her plan an evening together? She'd seen enough of his television to get it right, even if he couldn't. Adrenaline and excitement immediately began to course throughout her whole body.

"Don't make me take it back."

She couldn't control herself. She tackled him with a side hug, her exuberance nearly knocking him over. He had to lean up against the table to make sure they stayed in an upright position. She released him just as quickly as she had jumped on him, but didn't step away. She looked up at him and continued to grin gleefully.

He stared down at her with a straight face.

"Any requests?" she queried cheerfully. She quickly thought better of her own inquiry and placed her finger to his lips. "No. I take it back. I'll do the planning." She grinned, seeing his wariness. But as she lifted her finger away and her gaze fell to his mouth, her white smile unexpectedly melted.

How was it that she could find herself so suddenly and inexplicably sensitized to this man? He was hardly her type. She preferred the old, wealthy, and unattractive type. Their inability to get women provided a plethora of opportunities for her and often suited her monetary needs. Attractive, intelligent archaeologists were hardly suited for those purposes and neither were the other men she was surrounded by on this planet, who made her work to receive any kind of sexual attention. So much so she even wondered at the beginning if all Tau'ri males were eunuchs. She was not used to having to work so hard for even this tiniest bit of attention. Nearly her entire adult life she had to keep men off her like pesky flies and now she felt like the fly, especially with Daniel.

However, at least she knew in his case the feeling was reciprocated, at least sexually. He'd seen her naked. How could the feeling not be reciprocated? But Daniel's unwillingness to act was becoming increasingly exasperating. Not that she had a particular problem with all of this raging sexual tension between them. It was at times entertaining to goad him with it. However, it would just be nice to actually act on it. Maybe if they just tickled this itch they had for each other, she would finally lose this desire to spend time with him every waking second of her day. It would certainly make her life easier. Not to mention his. Well that was assuming she was able to remain detached afterwards.

Sex was out of the question. Daniel pretty regularly made sure of that. Apparently, there was some unspoken rule that teammates shouldn't have sex. She didn't see the problem with it, but there was a history with Sam and General O'Neill where they had laid the foundation for unfulfilled foreplay. So she was forced to follow the same guidelines. It was extremely irritating. She told Sam as much on numerous occasions. Sam had only smiled in amusement with a shake of her head, hardly being helpful.

However, while Vala didn't like it, she did on some level understand. As much as she teased Daniel mercilessly, she knew she should probably never physically initiate that kind of relationship with him. Who knew what he would do or what would happen to this strange friendship they had if she did. Somehow she needed him. He was too important to play those kinds of games with. She couldn't explain it, but she feared if she ever really acted, there might be some unforeseen consequences in their friendship. She wasn't willing to take that risk, at least not yet. Not unless he gave her a sign that told her otherwise.

She lifted her silver blue eyes to his clear blue ones and wondered what was going on in that brilliant mind of his in that moment. Sometimes he could be so clueless, and yet in that moment, she didn't think he was. While he was trying to keep his expression dry and impassive, she could see by his eyes he was clearly fighting an internal battle to keep it that way.

So she made it easier on him. She manually brightened her expression and stepped away. No need in getting her hopes up for something that was bound to fall through anyway. Why not focus on what she could control. Planning. She gave him another appreciative grin.

"Night," she said dismissing him with a quick touch on the cheek. Then, as unexpectedly as she had arrived, with a half wave she skipped out of his office. "Off to plan," she called back as she exited.

She didn't worry about the impression she left Daniel with as she pranced away. Her only thoughts now were focused on how she should organize this little date Daniel had given her permission to rule over. Dinner? Movie? Parking? That was a type of date wasn't it?

Hmm… Mitchell would know. He must have done something right to have that blonde harlot all over him at his reunion. She quickly set her step to finding the Colonel.