"I don't believe this!" Daniel exclaimed, leaning further toward his book in excitement. He flipped the page, running down the faded text with his finger, then picked up the amulet on the table beside him to compare the inscriptions.
"What?" Vala asked around a mouthful of english muffin. She planted her chin on her fist and regarded her husband with practiced boredom.
"I think it's genuine…I doubted it at first, but--look--" he flipped the book around and placed it in front of her. "You see that inscription…"
"So, it's really worth millions?" Vala asked, unable to restrain her excitement. "You're sure about that, Daniel?"
"Well--yes... But-but culturally, Vala…" he clipped himself off and sighed, snatching back the book. "I dunno why I bother," he muttered.
Vala smiled and pushed back her chair. Getting to her feet, she slid her hand along the cold, smooth surface of the table as she walked around it and slipped onto Daniel's lap. He ignored her, continuing to read, so she rested her finger against the side of his jaw, gently turning his face toward her.
"Tell me about the inscription," she conceded.
"You really wanna know?" Daniel asked.
"Well, no," Vala admitted. "But you want to tell me. So tell me."
Daniel smiled, then lowered his eyes for a moment. Looking up again at her with a frown, he brushed her cheek with backs of his fingers and murmured, "I know what you're trying to do…"
"And what would that be?" Vala leaned closer, until her lips stopped just short of his mouth.
Daniel smirked and quickly closed the distance between their lips, kissing her deeply for a long moment. But as Vala's hands drifted to his shoulders, he pulled back again. "You're trying to get me all in a good mood so you can ask me to let your sisters come while the team's gone," he told her flatly. "And no."
"Well, why not?" she pouted down at him. "Danira and Meagain are my sisters, Daniel, and you were the one who encouraged me to try to mend our relationships..."
"Yes," he agreed, "but if you're not coming with us, I'm certainly not going to subject Landry, or the rest of this planet, for that matter, to three Mal Doran women at once just to relieve your boredom."
"Fine," Vala gritted, reaching to snatch the amulet out of his hand before she jumped to her feet again. "I'll go for a visit myself then."
"Give that back!" Daniel cried.
"No," she told him, stomping out of the room. "Eat your breakfast, darling, you're going to be late for work. You can have your toy back later."
"I'd better," he called after her.
"You wound me, Daniel…"
"Yeah, I'll bet," he muttered, snatching the now cold english muffin off the plate in front of him and taking a ferocious bite.
Vala had no sooner stepped through the 'Gate than she jogged over to the DHD, dialed again, and ran back through. Still, the man lounging on the other side looked pointedly at the chronometer on his wrist.
"You're late," Aris Boch said in a tone of half amused annoyance. "Get stuck behind a line at the market again?"
"Shut up," Vala told him with a glare.
"Don't know what you see in that Tau'ri, Vala…" he went on, shaking his head.
Vala rolled her eyes and extended the amulet toward him, then let it drop so that it dangled off her first two fingers. "This what you wanted?"
Boch's lips turned up in a smile, but Vala snatched back her hand. "You'll get it when I see Meagain," she said coldly.
Boch sighed, glancing toward the ship, where Meagain Mal Doran had appeared in the hatch. She came down the ramp slowly, eyes glued to the ground in front of her, and stopped in front of Vala.
"You all right?" Vala asked her younger sister, masking her concern under a veneer of ice.
Meagain nodded, swallowing hard. "He said--"
"Good," Vala cut her off, "Because I'm going to kill you."
"Is that before or after your Tau'ri toy kills you?" Boch laughed.
"Daniel isn't her toy, he--"
"Shut up," Vala rolled her eyes. "The pair of you." She gave Meagain a not-so-gentle push toward the DHD and added, "Dial out."
The house seemed too quiet as Daniel walked down off the foyer steps three days later. It was possible Vala hadn't gotten back from Danira's yet…but it was also possible that she had some elaborate prank cooked up. "I really hate April Fool's Day," he sighed to himself, creeping slowly toward the hall. "Oh, Vala…?"
As he rounded the corner into the hall, he heard a metallic click and came face to face with the barrel of a very large energy weapon. Swallowing hard, he took a step back. "Nice toy…"
"Glad you think so, Dr. Jackson," Aris Boch said in a menacing tone. "Where's your wife?"
"I…um…don't think she's home yet…" Daniel replied slowly.
"Hey, Vala," Boch called as she came through the door. "Long time no see, eh?"
Vala's hand instantly reached behind her back, and she whipped out a zat as she moved carefully down the steps, keeping it aimed at the mercenary. "What are you doing here?"
"Now, now…" he said casually, "There's no need for all that. Dr. Jackson and I were just having a little talk."
Vala's eyes widened as Daniel came into view on the couch Boch was leaning against. His arms were pinned behind his back, and a dusty looking rag had been tied in his mouth.
"What do you want, Aris?" she grit her teeth, lowering her weapon.
"I'd ask for my money back," Boch replied, holding up the amulet, "But I didn't trade you money for this worthless hunk of plastic, which puts us in a very uncomfortable position, doesn't it?"
"What?" Vala cried, her eyes shooting toward Daniel. "You said it was genuine!"
He glared back furiously and made some reply, but she couldn't make it out around the gag in his mouth. She let her eyes close slowly. "All right, Aris…apparently there's been a mistake. Daniel had nothing to do with this."
"But he told you it was genuine?" Boch raised his eyebrow.
"Yes," Vala nodded. "But he didn't know I was going to give it to you…he didn't know anything about the deal. I swear!"
"Somehow I find that rather hard to believe…"
"I stole it from him--you'd believe that wouldn't you?" Vala pleaded earnestly. "Look, he's completely innocent. Just let him go, I'll--really--I'll do whatever you want."
"I can't exactly do that…" Boch started to say, but Daniel's shoulders began to shake, and the sounds that issued from behind the gag sounded suspiciously like laughter. His hands suddenly came loose from behind his back, and he leaned forward, burying his face in his hands as a fit of hysterical laughing consumed him.
"Sorry--sorry, Boch…I just…" he gasped out, untying the gag.
Boch's only response was to toss the "amulet" down on the table in front of him and collapse against the back of the couch as he began to laugh as well. Vala's eyes bulged, and she stared from one to another of them in complete shock.
"What--what? Daniel?" she spluttered.
"Honey," he waved his hand toward the table, "That thing came out of a cereal box. Boch and I have known each other for years…"
"What?" Vala cried.
Daniel had dissolved into giggles again, and Boch drew a breath, continuing, "You really think Danira would have let me get away with Meagain alive? Dr. Jackson's been cooking this up for months…"
"I don't believe it," Vala shook her head. "Daniel! How could you do such a thing!"
"April Fool's, baby!" Daniel replied, grinning.
"You--you made me think my baby sister had been kidnapped!" Vala glared back at him.
"Maybe you'll think twice before you decide to steal something from me next time…" Daniel smirked.