Like most of my Daniel/Vala fic, The Games People Play started out being written for The Noble French Fry's livejournal community, sg-challenges. Most of it has been written for another challenge, so the length of chapters is not consistent. I thought about re-ordering it, but that was too confusing.

It began as a simple one-shot, an episode tag for 10x09, Company of Thieves. As usual, my ideas grew between episodes and during the time between the airing of the two halves of Season 10. It bears no resemblance to the second half of the season whatsover, because I purposely avoided anything that might bring spoiler-ish influences into my writing. In fact, I sort of took an unplanned break from SG-1/SGA fandom altogether over the last few months, and still haven't seen the second half of the season at all.

Games is mostly a humor piece, or a series of them. Some of it is serious, but most of it is honestly the silliest side of SG-1 that I have ever tried to depict. My hope, though, is that even while being ridiculous, things like the Boot Scoot chapter and the ski trip also reflect the friendship of the team and the real love that Daniel and Vala (and Sam and Jack) have for one another.

I've moved the fic over to this comm from my personal LJ simply for the sake of convenience. It's getting too long to post individual links to each chapter, and I've decided that I need a comprensive list of my D/V fic, and the best way to facillitate that is to house it all in the same place.

Anyway, to those of you who have read the story before on my personal journal, thanks for sticking with me. I'm sorry for leaving you hanging so long. To those who're seeing the fic for the first time, welcome to the fun. Come let your hair down. This story has been an absolute blast for me to write, and it's helped me remember why I loved SG-1 from the beginning. I hope you'll have as much of a good time reading it as I'm having writing it.

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There were tears in her eyes, and he knew he put them there. He hadn't expected it, couldn't quite believe it, but he'd seen it before she turned away. He hated himself for it, but she didn't cry, and he didn't offer the apology that, truthfully, he knew she deserved. He followed the rest of the team silently to the infirmary, where the usual post-mission chatter was hollow to his ears. Mitchell ribbed him about his short-lived stint in the captain's chair, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything about the CO's unplanned impersonation of Lutan.

Afterward, he escaped back to his office, breathing a sigh of relief when, for once, she didn't follow. Then he grabbed the first book he could lay his hand on--it doesn't mater what it is, he thought--and tried to bury himself in it. A few minutes later, he dropped it, jumping slightly in his seat as Sam came barreling through the door. Daniel didn't bother picking it up again. He hadn't understood a word of it anyway.

"What were you doing?" she demanded.

"Um…reading…?"

"No, Daniel. What were you doing on the ship? You know, you really hurt her," Sam said. "And you're acting like a scared little boy."

He didn't have to ask what she meant, but he wondered vaguely why she was taking Vala's part. Her own emotions were still running high over Emmerson. Maybe that's what had sparked the newfound empathy. He knew he should have been glad. Vala needed real friendship more than anything else--and right now, he thought, Sam could use a friend as well. His hackles were up, though.

"What about all the stuff she's done--" he broke off. Sam was right. He knew it, and he knew he should quit hiding in here and find Vala. Part of him wanted to, but another, bigger part, was still reeling inside. Reeling from the memory of his revelation to Vala about Sha're. Reeling from Vala's recent disappearance and his own panic. The need to find her--find her alive--still made his mouth go dry and his palms sweaty when he thought of it. It was terrifying, in its own way. As terrifying as the realization that his wife had been taken--kidnapped and violated, made host to Ammaunet.

"Vala's part of the team. You owe her an apology, Daniel," Sam expectantly.

Daniel bit his lip, but said nothing. Everything she'd said was true--Vala had spent years learning to depend on no one and nothing but herself. She was finally starting to understand what it meant to be part of a team. Now thanks to him, even the members of that team weren't safe.

Sam stood waiting another minute, her arms folded across her chest. He let his eyes flick down to the book he'd dropped and tried to speak again. No sound came out. Swallowing hard, he looked up at her, but Sam only shook her head and stalked back out the door.

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She was wiping the tears away when she heard Sam come in. She jumped off the bench and made a show of straightening her pigtails in the locker room mirror. Vala didn't cry in public, and she certainly didn't cry around other women. She wondered again what had gotten into her. She wondered how and why Daniel Jackson has the power to bring tears to her eyes--wondered why she wasn't over it already.

"Hey," Sam said quietly. Vala heard the Tau'ri woman slip onto the bench behind her and slowly turned to face her.

"Are you okay?" Sam asked, and Vala resisted the urge to bite her lip as she realized that the Lt. Colonel's sharp eyes must have caught some lingering trace of tears on her cheeks.

She nodded automatically, but Sam raised an eyebrow, and Vala inexplicably felt her eyes beginning to burn again. She forced her gaze away as Sam rose from the bench, but when she felt a hand close on her shoulder, the last of her defenses finally crumbled.

"I'm sorry--" she started to say. Her voice cracked on the words, and Sam shook her head dismissively. She pulled Vala into a hug, which the dark haired woman resisted for a moment; then she gave a hesitant squeeze in return. As they drew apart again, Vala sniffed vehemently, "Men suck!"

"Yes they do," Sam smiled. "Where'd you learn that expression?"

"Television," Vala responded, walking over to slam her locker door in frustration.

"If it helps any, I just gave him a nasty chewing out," Sam offered.

"Oh?" Vala's ears perked up.

"Yeah, see what he was doing was essentially pulling on your pigtails."

"I wasn't wearing pigtails," Vala said with a blank expression. "I had my hair up in that bun thingy."

"No, it's an Earth expression. It means to tease someone mercilessly because you're afraid of showing your feelings for them. Grade school boys are famous for doing it to the girls they like. Then the girls punch the boys."

Vala scrunched up her nose. "I think I see what you mean. You Tau'ri have some very odd expressions. You know…what bothers me is that lately he really has seemed to treat me differently. And everyone said was quite worried after the kidnapping. Now suddenly it's as if nothing's changed from when I first came here. Granted, I was a bit of thorn in his side then, but I've changed a lot. I thought he'd realized that…he did seem to…"

She trailed off, slumping back against the lockers. Her eyes hopefully sought Sam's, and she felt her throat tighten as she found confirmation in the other woman's gaze. Her vision blurred, and she let out a long breath, trying to force back the unwelcome emotion.

"You have changed a lot," Sam nodded, coming over to slide her arm back around Vala's shoulders. "I didn't know you back then, but from what I was told and read in reports, you're very different from how you were last year. A lot has happened to you. And I think Daniel's-- just scared of losing you. He's lost a lot of people he cared about. He even lost himself for a while. He's not really sure how to cope when he's in love with someone."

"In love?" Vala's eyes widened. "You really think he's in love with me?"

"Hey," Sam grinned. "Pulling pigtails, remember?"