Title: As Worthless as the Stars in the Sky
Author: Pip (dannysgirlsg1)
Summary: "Did you notice there are no stars out there now? Ironic, huh?"
Rating: PG
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers for Ark of Truth, Crusade, Forever in a Day, and a minor reference to Counterstrike.
A/N: This is one that I wrote without picking a prompt first. The idea came to me and I just wrote it. Then i went back and found a prompt that could fit it, since why waste the perfect opportunity to use a prompt from mission-insane. So, written for mission-insane, Un-themed #4 Table, Prompt 04, Worthless, unknowingly snirk

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As Worthless as the Stars in the Sky

The Odyssey's infirmary was flooded with personnel, people moving about at insane speeds and nearly knocking each other over. He stood in the middle of it all, watching the chaos around him with lethargic indifference. It occurred to him that it was probably the last few months finally catching up with him – more prominently the last few days. But the thought flitted away like the piece of gauze that fluttered to the floor just a few feet from where he stood.

Daniel was having trouble holding onto any coherent thought. The buzzing all around him didn't help the funk his head seemed to be in much. In fact, all it did was ratchet his headache up another fuzzy notch. Added to his aching shoulder and bruised body, Daniel wondered how he was even managing to wonder anything.

If it wasn't for the strong, yet so delicate, hand squeezing his, he was sure he'd feel as adrift in space as the ship was that very moment. Adrift from a war that had taken a toll on the sum of its parts. Every inch busted, scarred, or unfixable. Possibly even on the chopping block for decommission once the powers that be got their teeth in – left to remain just an empty ghost of its former self.

Still he had something the ship beneath his feet didn't, and that was an anchor to something solid. Something warm and understanding and… always there. Never failing to keep him tethered to the here and now, never failing to keep him from drifting away.

Daniel stared at the hand clutched around his, and then let his weary blue gaze travel up the length of the arm attached to it. They continued over the shoulder and past the neck, until they stopped on a face so beautiful, he couldn't think of anything to call it at that moment but home.

A smile, tired and probably a little delirious, came to him unchallenged. He moved to take a step closer to her, to feel a little more here than out there. But like he'd fallen through thin ice, the reality of everything came splashing down around him in a coldness that made him gasp outright. The hand on his fell away, and with it went the cloud of indifference he'd been shrouded in.

The sounds of lives being saved, some even slipping away, bombarded his ears. Smells of death and destruction and worse assailed his nostrils, and Daniel had to blink at the sudden rush of it. He took a step forward, groping for his anchor only to come up with a handful of air.

"Vala…" He whispered, watching her rush to the side of one of the beds. When Daniel made the connection – Tomin, having some sort of seizure, the rest of reality seemed to fall into place. His stinging blue eyes roamed from Vala and Tomin to the other side of the infirmary. Sam was trying to keep Cam awake, and god was he a mess. Teal'c was also speaking to their injured friend, even as a nurse was checking out his back for any sign of the blast he'd taken there.

Memory hit like a hammer then – people rushing all around him, trying to make a difference. He was so small, so useless – He had no power to stop the stone slab from falling, crushing the life from his entire world. Daniel suddenly felt just as useless now as he had that day so many years ago. The world had been a blur of everything and nothing at the same time then too.

Nobody was looking to him; nobody noticed he was drowning in a sea of people. He could scream, and nobody would even look up. They had others to get to first – others would always come first.

Crossing his arms tight across his chest, the pain in his shoulder muted by a renewed agony of another kind, Daniel turned slowly and headed away from the chaos. He was too busy skirting out of the way of incoming personnel to even notice someone had called out to him.

--

The din of the infirmary was finally starting to taper off, and Vala couldn't feel more relieved. After all the time spent down on Celestis listening to the endless chanting of the Doci and the Priors, a little silence was definitely welcomed.

Of course it wasn't completely silent, but she didn't want to hear nothing either. It would mean she would have to think about what had been done to them down there. She wasn't quite ready to face that just yet, and she wasn't ready to do it alone.

Her grey eyes looked at her thumb stroking over Tomin's lax hand. It had seemed he hadn't been able to handle the effects of the Doci's torture as well as she had. He'd collapsed into a fit of seizures, and it had scared her to see him jerking around on the bed like he'd been. 

Looking up to his sleeping face, Vala smiled sadly. He'd already been through so much at the hands of the Ori and that lot. Now they'd left just a little parting gift behind. Maybe it was some all powerful recompense for the part he'd played in all of it. Either way, Vala knew he was a good man and that he didn't deserve such punishment 'from on high.'

The soft voices of Sam, Teal'c, and the very slow, slightly slurred drawl of Cameron brought her back to the present. Like an anchor to the here and now, her team kept her in the moment and focused. She sighed, smiling a fraction at the thought. Her team. There was a group of people in the galaxy she could call a part of her, and that she was a part of – at least she hoped they saw her that way. Sometimes she wasn't really sure what all of them really thought of her, but she thought highly of them and that had to count for something.

"Excuse me, ma'am?" A voice spoke just to her left, and Vala looked up into the kind face of a young gentleman nurse. That was another thing she'd found a bit surprising – the use of respect in regards to her.

She smiled at him. "Yes?"

He smiled back, sweet yet professional. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but I was wondering if you knew where Dr. Jackson has gone? I never got a chance to assess his injuries."

The smile fell away, and Vala looked around the young man. "Daniel's not here?" She couldn't keep the concern and surprise from her voice. She knew he'd been there, at least until Tomin had started seizing. Gods, how long ago had that been?

"Where'd Jackson go?" Cam's hoarse voice sounded equally confused. Vala stood and turned to face them, letting Tomin's hand fall back to the bed. They were all equally as baffled as she was. It seemed Daniel had slipped out unnoticed.

"I saw him leave…" Major Marks spoke from the doorway, where he'd been standing waiting for Sam's next order. With Cam laid up in the infirmary, she was the next in command. The young Major stepped further into the room. "I tried to get his attention, but he didn't seem to hear me." By the look on his face, Marks seemed to be as concerned as they were. "He looked pretty out of it."

Vala shook her head and made for the exit. "I'll find him." She said before anyone else could make the offer, her voice ripe with anger. Not only was she mad at Daniel because he'd walked out of the infirmary before getting any kind of once over by the nurse, but herself because she'd let it happen.

He hadn't snuck out unnoticed because Marks had seen him go. He'd just snuck out, unnoticed by every member of his team.

--

Every intent and argument she'd built in her mind as she searched for Daniel immediately disappeared when she needed to search no more. Vala stopped at the end of the corridor, gaze fixed on the man with his back to the wall in a darkened room just down the hall.

Barely inside the doorway, Daniel had his legs pulled up part of the way, his feet resting flat on the cold metal surface. He hadn't seemed to notice her approach, but she figured that was because all his attention was focused on the faded, worn picture in his hand. From the angle and the lack of proper lighting, Vala couldn't see who it was, but from the way his thumb caressed the front of the glossy image, she knew who it had to be.

She'd known he'd kept a picture of his late wife in his office, locker, and home. But never had she seen Daniel produce that picture on any mission. And from the curled edges and obvious ware and tear she saw, even from a distance, let her know he always kept it with him.

The sound of his quiet crying reached her, and Vala suddenly felt like she was intruding on something way too private. She'd butted in on his moments so many times before, but even she knew the boundaries. This was something of his she didn't dare steal away, not even to let him know she was there if he needed it.

Vala began to back away quietly, trying her best to let Daniel have his time alone. Of course, she'd failed to notice the open wall panel on her way down the corridor. With more noise than a kid playing with cooking pots, she managed to back right into the metal panel and send it seesawing on it hinges.

"Ow." She griped before she could stop herself, one hand rubbing at the back of her head where it's connected with metal. The other hand came to her mouth a moment later, and she looked up to see Daniel staring at her with a startled expression.

"What do you want, Vala?" He asked her in a low, sad voice.

Stepping away from the panel, Vala continued to rub the sore spot. "Nothing, sorry. I didn't mean to bother you…"

Daniel sighed and looked away. "What do you want, Vala?" He repeated with a bit more aggression and volume.

"I had originally intended to whisk you back to the infirmary for a proper check out," She told him honestly. "But that can wait. You go back to doing what you were doing."

"It's check up." Daniel corrected, gazing intently at the picture now dangling between his raised knees. His thumb stroked over one of the paper edges, splitting slightly from age and ware.

Vala took a side step to avoid hitting the panel again as she backed up once more. "Yes, either way, it's not a big thing. You can come when you're ready darling. I'll just leave you to this."

She turned to walk away, but then stopped at the coldness in Daniel's voice as he spoke.

"Rushing back to sit at your husband's bedside." If it was supposed to be a question, it certainly didn't sound like one. He'd made it sound accusing and angry, and it made her frustration with him from before return with a vengeance.

"I think that, just like this…" Vala turned back to him and waved a hand in his general direction. "Is not either one of our businesses." She didn't give in to the lost look he gave her after a moment. She'd tried to give him his private moment, and he'd just used her own 

as a weapon. "Now I'm trying to respect yours and leave you alone. I ask that you do the same for me."

Again she turned to walk away. And again it was his words that stopped her.

"I'm sorry." He whispered. "Please…don't leave me." She could hear the tears in his voice, as well as the overwhelming loneliness.

Vala spun back around and stared at Daniel for a long moment. He just watched her, his gaze uncertain and guilty. Tears were shining bright in his blue eyes, preparing to join the ones yet to dry on his cheeks. It didn't take long for him to break the stare, looking away as if he wasn't worthy enough to look at her.

"I really don't want to be alone." Daniel admitted, staring out of the ship's window on the other side of the room. She noticed how he looked at the black nothing like it could just swallow him up any second.

Finally making her way over to him, Vala took a seat just to the left of Daniel. "Then why are you sitting in this room all by yourself?" She asked, genuine concern softening her tone.

He shrugged a little. "I guess I thought knowing you're alone seems more realistic when you are alone in a darkened room staring out at black space." His blue eyes slowly turned her direction. "Did you notice there are no stars out there now? Ironic, huh?"

Vala grew even more anxious by his words. "Daniel, why would you think you're alone?"

"Because Sam and Teal'c were with Cam, and you were with Tomin, and nobody needed me." Daniel whispered, hating himself for sounding so selfish and the fact that he was crying in front of someone who expected him to be tough – the most important someone. "I was in the middle of all those people, and I felt so distant from everyone. I felt alone, just like I did down in that cell - alone and useless."

Scooting just a fraction closer to him, Vala reached up and placed a hand on his arm. "Daniel, you are not useless. You have done so much in this fight, and fights before this. You have done more than I could ever begin to dream of doing, more than anyone can ever dream of doing."

Vala's mention of fighting and doing had Daniel feeling just like he had when he'd spoken with Morgan le Fay. Fed up, exhausted… "Tired." He finished the thought out loud, dropping his chin to his chest. "I'm so damn tired."

She brought her fingers up to stroke through his hair, trying to ease the slight trembling of his body. "And you deserve to be, darling." Her grey eyes fell on the cuts on his lip and cheek, standing out dark on his too pale face. It came to her attention that they hadn't quite closed up. "Oh, Daniel – you're bleeding again."

Pushing herself up, Vala went back into the corridor and moved a little ways down until she found the bathroom. Looking inside, she was relieved to see the creepy little repli-bugs hadn't done much damage inside the tiny compartment. Snatching up the first aid kit on the sink, Vala quickly returned to Daniel.

"Why do you put up with me?" He mumbled. The fact that he didn't protest her trying to clean up his wounds let Vala know Daniel was still feeling out of sorts. A wince escaped past his lips as she ran an antiseptic wipe over the slash on his cheek.

Vala smiled. "For the same reason you put up with me." She leaned in and blew gently across the wound. "You're always there and I'm always here."

He frowned at her like she was the one who'd been found in a darkened room by herself.

"What I mean is…" She tore open a little packet of butterfly bandages. "You are always there for me, like you were there down on the planet." As gently as she could, Vala pulled one of the bandages tight across the sliced flesh and pressed on it. Daniel winced again.

"And I am always here for you, like I am right here, right now." She finished, licking the sleeve of her jacket and using it to wipe at the blood on Daniel's lip.

Daniel looked at her through narrowed eyes. "You suck at explanations." He muttered, even as she could read in his red-rimmed eyes that he understood completely – at least, she thought he had.

She patted his uninjured cheek, causing him to wince for a third time. "But I'm excellent at making you feel all better." Vala tucked all the supplies back in the case and smiled. "Like I've said – it is a natural talent of mine."

"Did you ever make Tomin feel…better?" Daniel's voice had gone quiet again, and she could tell he was trying to hide the fact that he was genuinely jealous of the man she'd had to marry.

Vala still felt she owed it to herself and Daniel to see him through his funk. "I would like to think so…why?"

He shrugged as if it was nothing, though they both knew that wasn't the case. "Well, it's obvious you did. You're you…" Daniel looked up at her, having been putting the picture of Sha're back in his pocket. He offered a barely there smile. "I'm sure he loves you as much as you love him. That's why he's your husband."

"Daniel…" Vala sighed, looking away from him.

"What?" Daniel questioned. "It's true, isn't it? He's your husband and you love him."

"I care about him." Vala said honestly. "When we were together in this galaxy, he was a wonderful man who was very good to me." She hated the way Daniel shifted his gaze away from her. Lifting her hand, she used her fingers to turn his attention back to her. "But things have happened and now we're walking two different roads."

He gave her one of his all-knowing looks. "But you do love him."

Vala rolled her eyes, moving back to sit against the wall to his left. "Okay, maybe a little." She watched Daniel drop his head and nod slowly, sadly. A gentle smile graced her lips as she spoke her next words. "But there's one thing Tomin will never be."

"Yeah, what's that?" Daniel asked, like he didn't want to know, but really, really did at the same time.

Shifting sideways, Vala wrapped her arms around his neck. "My Daniel." Her lips made their way to his cheek in a soft kiss, careful to avoid the cut there.

Daniel breathed in deeply, taking in the feel and smell of Vala against him. He brought one hand up to gently take hold off the arm under his chin. He stroked his thumb over the warm flesh tenderly, and felt the first genuine smile come to his face since he'd found her down in the dungeons of Celestis.

Feeling herself smiling outright, Vala rested her chin on his shoulder. The sudden yelp Daniel gave startled her for a moment, but then the memory of Adria tossing him against a wall like some ragdoll came flooding back.

"I forgot about your shoulder!" She gasped, standing up quickly.

Daniel squinted up at her. "That much is obvious."

Vala held out her hand and shook it urgently. "Come on, up. We have to get you back to the infirmary."

"Back to ordering me around." Daniel joked, trying to push himself up to a standing position as well. He just about got there before the world around him seemed to shift, and he about fell back to the floor.

Vala had a steady hold on him in an instant. "I think you were sitting there too long."

He nodded hesitantly, tightening his grip on Vala as it made his vision swim. "I think I was sitting there too long." It seemed the sitting, and crying, had done nothing to stem his exhaustion.

"Let's get you back to the infirmary." Vala smiled up at him. The smile dimmed slightly and her eyebrows rose an inch as he looked at her questioningly. "What is it?"

"You're gonna be here, right?" He asked, that uncertain tone back in his voice.

Vala let the smile come back to its fullness. "Of course, darling, right here."

Daniel nodded again. "Good…" He took his steps slowly as Vala started leading him out of the room. "If you're here, then I know I can get back there…eventually."

Licking her lips, Vala nodded, both to Daniel and herself. So he had understood her 'sucky' explanation. She looked up at him, then back into the room for just a moment. Through the window, in the mass of blackness, a shining light was beginning to twinkle off in the far reaches of space.

She'd never know if the light had actually been there or not, but for the rest of her life Vala would believe she'd helped a star learn how to shine again that night.

--

Reviews are definitely appreciated!