Ribbons Undone by ChristianGateFan and Cleo the Muse
Rating: Pre-Teen
Genre: Gen, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Kidfic (Pre-series Vala)
Synopis: Telling the truth? Vala generally has better things to do. Trapped in a cave-in with Daniel and faced with the reality that she may never have another chance, she shares her colorful past with her nearest and dearest friend.

Ribbons Undone

The cold of the rock under him bit into Daniel's legs, and the solid wall of their crumbled stone prison pressed into his back. He didn't have his jacket to ward off the temperature; that--along with the only blanket they'd had in their packs--was draped over Vala in hopes of keeping her from going into shock. She lay at his feet, shivering and just starting to come around again, thank goodness. When she'd gone under he'd been afraid he'd lost her.

They hadn't meant for this to happen. They never did. Daniel had heard from the natives down the mountain that there were ruins worth seeing in these caves, and of course he'd wanted to check them out. The natives were peaceful, gentle people, so Daniel was sure he wasn't needed to play diplomat. While the rest of the team stayed in the village doing the PR work, he and Vala headed up the mountains.

Sam, Cam, and Teal'c didn't even know there was anything wrong. Only Daniel's radio had made it through the cave-in intact, but it didn't seem to be working.

Maybe it had something to do with the ten tons of fallen rock blocking their exit from the cave.

The people of the village had told them about the ruins and artifacts here, but they hadn't mentioned that the cave systems were unstable. Daniel didn't think they'd meant any harm; maybe they just didn't know.

The others would eventually realize that they were missing, and come looking. They would find them at some point, dig them out, or send for the Odyssey to beam them out... whichever would take less time.

Daniel didn't know if Vala had time.

He knocked his head back against the rock. It didn't help. Standing, he moved away from Vala and started pulling at the rocks again. After only a moment, rubble started raining down again, warning him to stop trying to get out on his own. He ducked and ran back to Vala, sinking back to the ground beside her again.

"This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't insisted we come here," he growled at himself.

"—t's not your fault..."

The weak voice jarred him out of his self-loathing party and made him focus. "Vala... hey," he sighed in relief. "You're awake."

She tried to shift and stopped abruptly, grimacing. "That fact is painfully obvious."

He put out a hand to still her movements. "Whoa, easy... don't hurt yourself. Stay still."

"That won't be a problem," she breathed. She clenched her eyes shut and opened them again over and over, and the fist he could see flexed and relaxed, flexed and relaxed. Nothing else moved; it probably hurt enough just lying there. Even though there was no way for him to know now what the extent of the internal damage was, he didn't have to wonder why she was hurting. He glared over her at the slab of rock beside her that had landed across her midsection and crushed one of her legs. There was no telling how much damage that had done.

Before he was aware it had happened, Daniel's throat clogged. "How are you feeling?" he asked quietly.

"Oh, just peachy," she joked weakly. She stopped blinking and her eyes started to drift shut again.

"Vala," he said sharply.

They opened again, a little more alert than before. She tilted her head a little to see him better. "What?" she asked innocently.

"Don't fall asleep," he instructed firmly. "You almost didn't wake up this time; I don't want to lose you, understand?"

She looked almost like she was going to laugh. "And just how am I supposed to stay awake like this?"

He winced. "Look... why don't you try talking about something?"

"Like what?" she snorted.

Daniel wracked his brain, but in his current worried mental state came up with nothing specific. "I don't know... why don't you tell me about yourself?"

Vala looked at him strangely. "What's there to tell?"

"Well, you could start at the beginning... you know, where you were born, your home planet maybe... none of us have ever heard much about before Qetesh...you know."

"For good reason..." she sighed. "You don't want to hear about my life on my home planet... or anything else before or after Qetesh, really."

"If it keeps you alive by keeping you awake, I want to hear every word."

She rolled her eyes. "Sure you do."

Daniel squinted in frustration. "Vala, please, work with me here, will you?"

She gave a weak, but exaggerated sighed. "Fine... whatever... the beginning?"

"The beginning."

Vala gave a little smirk. "Well, for starters... I wasn't born 'Vala Mal Doran.'"

Daniel blinked in surprise. "What?"

"Nope..." She laughed a little, sounding almost as if she were doped up on some good pain medication. "No, when I was born on my backwater little home planet, my name was Vala Sen Jacek."

He frowned. "Jacek is your father's name."

"Exactly. The name I was given at birth means 'Vala, daughter of her father, Jacek.' Doran was my mother's name, if that tells you anything."

She was right; it didn't take long to figure that one out. "Right..." He fell silent for a moment. "When did you change it? Why?"

"Do I even have to answer the second question? And as for the first, well, you're the one who wanted me to start at the beginning. You'll just have to wait until I get there."

Daniel sighed and smiled just a little. "All right... I'm listening."

"Good." She hesitated for a long moment before continuing quietly. "I guess I should start with my mother. Everything I know of my life and my parents' history before I can remember I know from her. Jacek was never around enough to regale me with stories of the past like mother would: late at night when I couldn't sleep, or earlier in the evening when she was trying to get me to sleep." Vala smiled a small, wistful smile. "She used to tell me that she always dreamed I would be very important one day. I don't know where she got it, but she insisted she saw it in her dreams when she slept... her daughter having a wonderful life, no matter how humble my beginnings... and goodness knows they were humble."

Daniel raised an eyebrow. "Meaning?"

Vala winced and sighed. "Well, I skipped ahead. Those story times didn't come until I was older. Back to the beginning..."

CGFs note: Don't flip; I'm still working on my other stories-in-progress at the moment. And besides, this one is co-authored, so I'm not doing all the work. ;) And I'm having a blast! So anyway, see you back here again, I hope; this is going to be something of a long one! Thanks!