Title: Nature of the Beast
Author: Pip (dannysgirlsg1)
Summary: She's the huntress and he's the prey.
Rating: PG
Spoilers/Warnings: Minor spoilers for Ark of Truth. Daniel/Vala pre-ship and ship.
A/N: Written for the 2008 ficathon on the daniel/vala (danielvala) community on LJ. Ironically, my recipient was dvshipper, and her prompt words were music, driving, and something pink.

--

Nature of the Beast

"Come on, Vala!" Daniel practically yelled into the door of her quarters, banging his hand on the metal surface. "We were supposed to be there twenty minutes ago!"

"Just a minute, darling!" Came the muffled reply from the other side.

Blue eyes rolled. "You said that twenty minutes ago." He muttered, resting his shoulder against the wall by her door. Checking his watch for the umpteenth time since waiting for Vala to come out, Daniel wondered if he should just call the others and tell them they weren't coming.

Of course he was the one who had suggested the whole outing. He was the one who thought Vala would probably have a lot of fun going to the place he had in mind. Besides, it was about time they introduced her to another SG-1 tradition of sorts since she seemed to be in the whole Earth-thing for the long haul.

It still baffled him as to why she wanted to stay so much. He had never pegged her as the type who would prefer this life over the one she'd had before, even after he'd seen her grow and change before his very eyes in the time she'd been at the SGC. Daniel was so proud of her for sticking it out with the Ori – for fighting so hard to right a wrong they had started together. She had been there every moment with him to fix that mistake they had made.

But that was over, and Vala had had the chance to go back to her life with Tomin. Yet, she hadn't. She'd stay on Earth, and as much as Daniel was happy with that in the long run, he just couldn't imagine why she would. It's not like she wasn't wanted – He just felt she deserved better than what she could get on Earth – she deserved happiness.

A quick flurry of movement as the door before him opened snapped Daniel back to the present. He straightened up, drawing a deep breath as she made a show of stepping out of her quarters.

"Well?" Vala murmured, making a slow circle. Daniel couldn't help but drop his eyes to her firm, jean-clan ass. He quickly snapped them up as she completed the turn, and the excited look in her eyes let him know there was no way he could possibly back out now.

"Casual enough?" She asked with a tilt of her head, ponytail swaying gently with the movement. From the tone of her voice, Daniel knew she was genuinely asking him his opinion.

He smiled and nodded, truthfully thinking so but knowing if he said anything differently, it'd be another twenty minutes before they got out of there.

"Come on, the others are waiting…" Daniel jerked his head in the general direction of the elevators. His shoulder brushed hers as he moved to the end of the corridor, letting her know he was really ready to go.

He failed to miss the slightly wounded look on Vala's face as she turned back towards the door. She brought it closed slowly, wondering why she put so much trouble into looking for the right thing to wear if he wasn't going to notice.

--

"So what is this place again, Daniel?" Vala asked, her eyes alight with wonder and excitement as he wound the car up and down the enormous parking lot, looking for a space. Her stare was transfixed on the huge building at the head of the parking area.

Daniel glanced at her for a moment, smiling a little at the look in her eyes. "Boomer's." He said simply at first, like she hadn't already seen the giant sign on the front with a huge kangaroo next to it. "It's like a huge arcade…"

Vala frowned slightly and tossed a look his way. "That's like the little place with electronic games and such that's in O'Malley's, right?"

He nodded, turning the car down yet another row. "Yeah, but this one is much, much bigger."

"I can see that." Vala said, her voice filled with amazement as she looked back at the building.

--

Finally having found a parking spot, Daniel ushered an overwhelmed Vala through Boomer's, over towards the concession area. He quickly spotted the other members of SG-1, dragging Vala by the wrist as she took in the mishmash of sounds, smells, colors, and lights.

"'Bout damn time you two got here!" Cam said around a mouthful of corndog, not even bothering to move his outstretched feet from the spare chair they were resting on.

Daniel glared at him. "It's not like it's my fault…" He looked at Vala, who was still looking around in wonder. "Hey, you gonna say hello?" He asked with a tug on her wrist.

She looked around as if snapped out of a trance. "What?" Her grey eyes took in the three sitting at the table, and recognition finally dawned. "Oh, hello everyone."

Sam smiled at her. "Big place, huh?"

Vala smiled back. "I'm not sure big is quite enough to cover it. I mean…" She pulled her wrist out of Daniel's grasp and swept her arms to encompass the vast area. "The place is... gigantic!"

"Indeed it is." Teal'c agreed, giving her a soft smile. "I have found there are many pleasurable games and otherwise here."

Plopping herself down in his lap, Vala snatched up a fry from Cam's plate. He protested loudly, and she ignored it as she stuffed the food in her mouth. "This your first time here too, Muscles?"

Daniel dragged a chair over, casting a quick glare at Cam for making him do more work than was necessary. "No, Teal'c's been here before – we all have, on several occasions."

"Cept for you, of course." Cam smiled, tossing a fry at Vala playfully. She pouted and threw it back.

"And why am I only getting to come here now?" She asked after sticking her tongue out at Cameron. He returned the gesture. "Was I not worthy of such an obviously amazing team tradition?" Her pout became more pronounced and dramatic.

With a grin, Sam shook her head and leaned forward to rest her arms on the table. "That's not it at all…" Her blue eyes met Daniel's, who was giving her that look that said he knew where she was going and she better not. But, of course, she went there anyway. "Daniel doesn't like it here."

"Oh?" Vala asked curiously, looking down at him from Teal'c's lap.

He rolled his eyes. "It's not that I don't like it here – how could anybody not enjoy the sounds of shrieking children and annoying games, the smells of greasy food and…other enjoyable things."

Sam looked up at Vala. "He's still pissed that Jack won our usual game last time we were here."

"Won my ass!" Daniel bitched, stealing the now cold piece of pizza from Sam's plate. "He cheated," he bit into the half-eaten slice. "And I still refuse to believe you didn't help him win." As she blinked at him innocently, he scowled at her.

Cam sighed and rolled his eyes. "As much as I love ya'll recalling history, why don't we get back to having fun in the here and now?"

"Speaking of which…" Vala looked around the table. "What fun is there to be had here? Because as pretty as all these flashing lights are, I just don't seem to get the purpose of it all."

"I think we'll leave Daniel to explain all that to you." Sam said cheerily, tapping a hand against her surrogate brother's cheek. He batted her hand away, still chewing on the cold pizza. "We have to get back to our current competition."

His blue eyes flicked between the three now rising from the table. Vala quickly occupied the chair Teal'c had been sitting in. "Wait, you guys already started playing?"

Cameron snorted. "Hell yeah we did…" At the glare Daniel once again threw at him, he held up his hands. "Hey, don't look at me – we weren't forty minutes late." An accusing finger pointed to Sam. "And it was her idea." With that, he waved a quick goodbye and took off running into the maze of people and games.

"That's cheating!" Sam yelled after him, not even bothering to wave as she ran after him.

Daniel shook his head, looking down at the table and fighting his smile.

Vala frowned in confusion. "I don't understand…" She said with a slow shake of her hand.

"Oh, they're playing the game Sam mentioned earlier…" Daniel looked up at Teal'c. "Shouldn't you be off to the races too?"

"I do not race, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c said in a calm voice and with a very serious face. He began to stroll off slowly. "I deviously plot."

--

"So tell me about this game…" Vala asked distractedly as her and Daniel strolled through the labyrinth of games on the first level of the building. They would stop occasionally to watch some of the more adept players conquer virtual gorillas or plow down a dilapidated house full of the undead.

Daniel looked up ahead of them, hands in his pockets. "Well, it's kinda like a scavenger hunt of sorts. We each write down a list of games that you have to play in a certain order, and then pass it off to each other and just go." He pulled a hand out and swept it in front of him for emphasis, smiling. "The specifics are a little complicated, but it is fun."

"And we can't play?" Vala wondered.

He shrugged. "Uh, well – we didn't think it would be fair for you to play since you'd never been here before. Teal'c had agreed to be the one to show you around, but since we got here so late…"

Grey eyes looked away from Daniel. "I'm sorry I ruined your fun…"

Daniel snapped his attention to her. There was a guilty frown on her lips that struck him in an unexplainable way. Reaching out, he gently took her hand in his. It brought her attention back to him.

He smiled softly. "I think I'll be alright."

--

They wandered all over the place, watching people playing games, and taking part in a few themselves. Occasionally, they would see a blur of something running one way down a row of games, quickly followed by one heading another – knowing that was Cam and Sam still going head to head.

Finally, Daniel and Vala found themselves standing by a set of chairs attached to the 'Racing U.S.A.' game, both of which were surprisingly empty. Remembering the way Vala had eyed the people playing earlier and how she was looking now, Daniel figured it was time for them to get a little more playful.

He pushed past her, hopping in the closest seat. Looking up at her curious look, he quirked a challenging smile. "Feeling competitive yet?"

Vala grinned and rushed to take the other seat. "Bring everything you've got, rock boy."

"Rock boy?!" Daniel laughed as he leaned down to drop the tokens into the slots. As he sat back up and met Vala's flirty look, he shook his head. "I'm seriously deleting Jack's number from your phone!"

He tapped the start button, Vala following suit. Daniel moved to select the easiest track so he wouldn't have any advantage over her, but much to his surprise, she used her own steering wheel to select the toughest course available.

"I said bring it, not make it easier for me to beat you." She murmured with a wicked grin as they both went to select the car they wanted. Daniel was quicker than she was, and he snatched the car he knew she would go for. She gasped and took her second choice, shooting him an icy glare.

"Screen's in front of you, beautiful." Daniel said, and Vala's eyes widened in surprise with his words. He snapped his eyes back to his own screen just as the third indicator sounded and the race started. He punched the gas.

Vala snapped out of her shocked state with a gasp of realization, turning back to her screen and hitting the gas of her own car. "That's cheating, Daniel!"

He focused intently on his screen, fighting a smile as he fought with the steering wheel. "Well, I can't help that I'm so gorgeous it's distracting."

Laughing loudly, Vala punched the gas and shifted up a gear. "You wanna play distracting…" She leaned in close to him as much as she could, and he couldn't help but look at her. Grey eyes locked onto blue. "I'll give you distracting."

Daniel felt his breathing halt for a second as she whispered those words. He didn't even notice his virtual car careening off into the desert before it was too late.

--

She was definitely crafty. Of course he'd always known that, but it hadn't really struck him just how crafty she truly was until he was up against her – like now. Maybe it hadn't been the best idea to have the bored teenager explain the rules of laser tag to her.

Because now Daniel found himself lost in a maze of black felt walls, guided only by the light of painted on black light enhanced designs, with the music at a level far louder than was normal. Obviously Vala had worked her magic on the young man.

It was hard enough to play the game when people blended in so easily to the dark walls, but now Daniel wasn't able to hear anything but the pulsing beat of the 80s music blasting overhead.

"She thinks that's really going to stop me…" He murmured to himself as he rounded another corner, gun at the ready. He paused as the song switched over and the familiar beat to Jessie's Girl started playing.

A shouted, excited 'turn it up!' came from somewhere behind him, and Daniel spun on his heels. He began to wonder how Vala has bribed the little twerp running the show because seconds later the music was at a decibel that was almost painful. Any possible chance he'd had to listen for her before, he'd lost now.

Daniel had known it wouldn't be easy to challenge her in a game of stealth – Vala was one of the best at it that he'd met, and he knew a lot of black ops trained people. There had been several occasions where she'd snuck up on him, in the halls of the SGC, or his office – her body brushing up against his like a teasing cat. He'd always jump at the contact, eliciting a playful giggle from her. And all the time he was glad she with the team, instead of against them. An enemy of hers, supernatural powers notwithstanding, could be dead before they even knew it.

Except now, he was the enemy – even if it was only for playful purposes. The thought messed with his head more than it was supposed to. Daniel couldn't imagine ever being on opposite sides with Vala – not when it really mattered.

And even though they were only playing a game, he felt that it always mattered. They worked better together. He worked better with her on his side.

The song changed again, and Daniel straightened. He strained to listen for any kind of movement or sound. The abrupt loudness of his chest sensor blaring out, indicating he'd been hit, caught him by surprise and he jumped back.

"Ah, dammit!" He growled at the same time a faux-innocent giggle came from somewhere around him. Daniel jumped for cover against the wall of the passage he'd just emerged from. Peeking around the edge, he searched for her.

"Where'd you go?!" Daniel shouted playfully, hoping she'd heard him as the music started pulsing through every inch of everything around him. Even his body was thumping instinctively to the music. It got him in the moment, and he stepped out around the wall, almost like the music was giving him confidence.

The giggle came again. "You're not gonna find me anyways." The faint sound of feet on the black carpet came from the passage parallel to the one he'd just been in. Daniel stalked after her, a soft smile tugging at his lips.

"I've always found you before…" He replied, keeping his gun at a ready position. He now only had two hits left before he was defeated, and Daniel wouldn't lose the game without a fight. The sound of the footsteps stopped. He stopped too, wondering why she would herself.

Out of nowhere, a sudden strobe light above his head started flashing in time to the music, and it threw off his focus. He cursed loudly, stepping in a circle. It was through the dizzying light that he noticed he was in a very exposed area. Vala had led him right into a trap…

His chest sensor rang out again.

"Son of a bitch!" Daniel laughed, still trying to orient himself to his location and the damn flashing light.

"What's the matter darling?" The light stopped as she started talking, the song switching once again as if she were bending the whole maze to her will. The world around him was dark after the sneak attack, and Daniel could only stand there as his eyes adjusted to the black light darkness once more.

Her sultry voice filtered over the music, making it impossible to peg which of the several passages around him she was standing back in. "What happened to upping the ante, my dear Daniel?"

Daniel felt like he was being hunted – hell, he knew he was. He was being hunted by the best predator he'd ever know. A predator that was fierce, and intense, and tempting – she was beautiful, and seductive, and intelligent. It struck him in that moment how'd she'd always been on his trail – sniffing him out and hunting him down. Finally, he realized he was a prey with no hope of escape.

So he did what prey did best – he bolted. Clutching his toy weapon in his hand, he took off down the passage closest to him. A mischievous laugh bubbled up from somewhere behind him, and he grinned. Still, he kept running, down one passage, then another. This was his last ditch attempt at escape.

The music thundered in his ear, and he couldn't help from laughing at the irony of Thriller playing as he ran. Just as Vincent Price was speaking of foul stenches and 'grizzly ghouls', he found himself staring at a wall, two passages branching out on either side. A wild pattern of lights danced on the wall before him. Not even giving himself time to think, he dashed down the right side and found it to be a dead end. So he turned on his heels and headed back up the passage, out into the open again, and down the other side. Again, he found no escape.

"Might as well come out, Daniel." Vala purred, her voice mixing in with Vincent Price's 'mere mortal'. Licking his lips, he dropped his gaze to the floor. A playful grin of accepted defeat came to his face, and Daniel gallantly headed back up the narrow corridor of black felt. He stepped out into the open just as the infamous evil laugh rumbled overhead.

With his back to the wall, Daniel's blue eyes met with feral grey. The song on the speakers changed again, this time to something a little mellower, though no less lacking a beat. That was 80s music for you.

Vala slowly brought up her gun, holding it in both hands. Daniel shook his head, smiling as his hands came up and he dropped his own gun. It dangled from its cord at his side. She smirked knowingly as the bright pink laser dot from her gun danced over his chest sensor.

"We gonna end this game now, or what?" He asked her, his gaze unwavering, trying to hide his smile.

She watched him for a long moment, and then slowly began to move towards him. Daniel kept his hands up, fighting the grin trying to break free. The pink dot trained on him got bigger and bigger as Vala got near. He stepped back until the wall halted his attempt.

Vala's gun was now just a few inches from him. Her look had gone from victorious to gauging and curiosity as she'd neared him, and now she was giving him one of the most serious looks he'd ever seen grace her beautiful face.

The gun lowered slowly and she stepped up so that she herself was just inches from his chest. Daniel gazed down at her, hands still in the air.

"You ready to end it?" Vala asked softly.

Daniel was ready with his own truth-seeking question. "Why did you stay?"

She shrugged as if it was the most obvious thing. "I wanted somewhere to belong, somewhere my own…" Vala paused a moment to work out how she wanted to get the next part out just right. "I felt like I had someone to belong with here."

Daniel shook his head, offering up what he felt. "You deserve happiness."

"I'm not the only one." Vala said, reading what he was really saying. They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then she asked her question again. "Are you ready to end this game, Daniel?"

If she was looking for some kind of verbal response, Daniel was sorry he was going to have to disappoint her. Because as the music changed to a familiar song, instead of words, he lowered one of his arms to wrap around her waist and draw her in flush to his body. She made a small surprised noise, but was fighting a shaking smile as Daniel slowly lowered his lips to hers. The kiss was soft and excruciatingly short, but it conveyed the answer Vala had been waiting for.

He pulled away a fraction, smiling playfully. "Alright, you got me."

Vala didn't waste any time placing her hand on the back of Daniel's neck. As their lips met for a more heated kissed, both of Daniel's arms wrapping around her slender body, she brought the gun up to fire on his chest sensor.

It went off just as the words 'I just died in your arms tonight' starting playing overhead. Daniel grinned against her lips, deepening the kiss and pulling her even closer.

--

"So how goes the competition?" Daniel asked as he and Vala stepped up to Teal'c, holding hands with tightly laced fingers. Vala came to stand with her back against Daniel's chest, and keeping their hands connected, he wrapped his arm around her waist.

The Jaffa looked at the pair for a moment. Vala sipped from a concession stand cup, pulling the straw out of her mouth with a slurp and holding it up by her shoulder. Daniel leaned his mouth in and took a sip, never breaking eye contact with Teal'c.

A smile that came more easily these days came to Teal'c's lips. "Both Colonel Mitchell and Colonel Carter are still long from defeating one another."

"And you?" Vala ask curiously after sipping on her coke again.

Teal'c tilted his head slightly. "I have refrained from playing just yet."

A curious frown creased Daniel's brow. "Why?"

"Because I believe this would be an opportune moment for you to get back at O'Neill and Colonel Carter…" Teal'c said with a very perceptible smug smile as he held up the list of games he was supposed to be playing – the list Sam had given him to complete.

Daniel did not hesitate to snatch it out of Teal'c's hand, causing Vala to jerk forward with the motion. She admonished him with a pouty 'hey!' Daniel just ignored her as he glanced at the list.

"I KNEW they were teaming against me!" He said loudly, looking up at Teal'c after a moment. "Oh, now I really want some payback!"

Teal'c tilted his head in agreement. "And what better way for Vala Mal Duran to experience her first Boomer's competition than through a victory."

Nodding, Daniel agreed as he glanced at the list again. "Yeah…" Then his eyes narrowed and he looked up at his friend. "Wait, what's in this for you?"

Face becoming suddenly blank, Teal'c blinked. "Just to see you show Vala Mal Duran how to properly gain retribution."

Daniel watched Teal'c suspiciously for a moment. "Riiiight…"

"Don't look a gift steed in the mouth." Vala said to him with a smile.

He grinned. "It's horse, actually, but you're right." Daniel released her hand and let his squeeze her hip. "Still feeling competitive?"

Vala licked her lips slowly, a grin breaking out on her still red and swollen lips. "Daniel, please…"

"Right, what was I thinking?" Daniel laughed, leaning in to kiss her. Teal'c couldn't help raising an eyebrow as the kiss quickly found its way into more adult territory. It ended with Vala rising up on her toes and Daniel gently squeezing her ass.

She squeaked, pulling away with a pleasantly surprised raise of her eyebrows and a smirk.

Daniel licked his lips, eyes alight with mischief. "Lead the way, noble huntress."

Vala's smirk became predatory and she snatched the list out of Daniel's hand. Tossing the coke into the trashcan without even looking, she dragged Daniel off towards the games once more. He looked back at Teal'c as he went, lifting his eyebrows suggestively as he grinned.

Teal'c smiled smugly, placing his hands behind his back. As he slowly trailed after them, he understood he'd just given them the means to win the competition. He could live with losing this time around – especially when he knew he'd just won the betting pool back on base… a sum that he was happily prepared to give to the pair that had helped him win it when the time was right.

--

Reviews are definitely appreciated!