Title: Abandoned Dreams
Summary: Is living in a dream really living at all?
Spoilers/Warnings: None that I can think of...
A/N: Written for mission-insane, table 14 - Phrases: Prompt 008 - Dont Dream it, Be It.
Vala had always dreamed of being a woman Daniel would respect. Not the respect of a man appreciating her as a woman, like not hitting her or treating her like a piece of meat. That respect she'd already gained from him. Daniel would never do those things – okay, so he had hit her, but he'd been well within his rights. She had hit him first, after all.
No, she wanted the type of respect that he gave Sam. The type that embodied trust and honor and appreciation of her as a person, as a downright good person. She wanted to see that look of approval in his enchanting eyes, and feel proud of herself for having made him feel proud of her.
Vala had dreamed of such things, but never really thought she could achieve such a high hope. As much as Daniel put faith in her to be that better person, Vala understood herself in a way that made her sick. She wasn't the type of person that could be respected – her past was too shady, her intentions always questionable. Just the way she considered the dirty side of things let her know she would never see those blue eyes gazing on her with pride.
She had her dreams. And in her dreams, she was perfect enough for him, and that was enough for her. If dreams were the only place she could gain such respect, then dreams were what she'd take.
Still, Vala tried to emulate the perfection that could get her such a look. She tried to make herself better, if only for the sake of herself. Every inch that brought her closer to what she dreamed, it was worth it. She knew she'd never achieve that state of goodness that would have Daniel look upon her the right way, but she could at least come close.
Close wasn't what she really wanted, but again she always had her dreams.
It just was so hard when instincts were pulling her one way, and her heart another. And it never helped that no one important, no one in particular, ever saw her make such attempts to make things right.
Just like now.
She'd seen the wallet fall as she'd looked up from the magazine she'd been perusing. The father had never noticed his young son had removed it from his jacket and dropped it on
the floor in a game. But Vala had noticed. Like some alarm that would trigger in her thoughts, she looked up just in time to watch it tumble to the ground almost soundlessly.
Her grey eyes had stared at the brown leather, bulging with cards and paper galore. A thousand thoughts had run through her head. None of them were proper, and none of them were anywhere near respectable. The thoughts continued to run as she'd picked it up from its hidden position beneath a long row of new books.
Now she had it in her hand, and was at a crossroads. Instinct, years of surviving on her own and taking what she could, told her to stash the cash – and gods, was it a lot of cash – swipe the cards, and toss the rest. Who knew how long it would be before the man realized he'd even misplaced the wallet? She could have everything she wanted from it hidden in places only she knew in an instant.
But that voice – the nagging one that hadn't been there until she'd met Daniel – was screaming at her that it was wrong. That if she stole this man's money, she could well be stealing his entire life. Maybe this was all the savings he had in the world. How could she, of all people, rip away something that could be so precious to surviving? So what if it put her ahead a little bit? Vala knew she would feel rotten in the long run – even more so when she'd be forced to lie about where she'd gained such a sum.
She'd made a promise to herself that she wouldn't resort to lying to her friends anymore, especially Daniel. After everything he'd done for her, all the hard work put into making her a better person, she couldn't just let him down. It would kill her dreams – the one where he looked at her – really looked.
Pulling in a deep breath, Vala looked up from the wallet to the retreating back of the gentleman and his son. Tossing the trashy gossip rag in her other hand onto the bookshelf, she made a decision. She couldn't destroy the only time she'd ever seen Daniel seeing her. She wouldn't destroy her dreams.
"Sir!" Vala called out, rushing around the end of the row and down the center aisle after him. He was nearing the exit, and she was terrified she'd lose her shot and wouldn't be able to tell her instincts 'no' a second time. "Excuse me, sir!"
The man paused and turned around, a blonde-haired little boy resting against the side of his chest. Vala came to a stop a few feet before him, her boots clicking loudly with her heavy steps.
She held out the wallet. "You dropped this."
His green eyes widened and he reached out to take it. "Oh my god – I hadn't even realized I'd dropped it."
Vala smiled and looked at the little boy. "Yes well, I think that was the point of your son's little game."
"Tyler!" The man admonished his son, though there was a hint of amusement in his voice. He glared at the giggling boy, and then gave an appreciative look to Vala. "Thank you, miss. You don't know how much of a life saver you are right now." He shook the wallet for emphasis.
Looking to the floor, feeling a very slight blush redden her cheeks, Vala shook her head. "I'm sure it's not that serious."
The man laughed, though it wasn't exactly humorous. "It really is that serious." Awkwardly, he opened the wallet with one hand. "I should give you something for this."
"Oh, no, please." Vala shook her head again and held up a hand. "I don't need anything, really. All I did was return the wallet." He watched her curiously. "I'm sure anyone would've done it."
Refusing to back down, the man shook his head as well. "Actually, I'm sure most people would've swiped it and ran." He looked up at her, holding a large bill between his fingers out to her. "You… aren't like most people. And you really deserve this."
Vala gave it a hesitant look. Her mind was alive with all the delightful things she could use that money on, and it made her feel guilty. It made the good deed she'd just done feel tarnished.
"Please, I insist." He thrust the bill a little closer. "Take it and reward yourself for doing something very, very good."
Maybe it was his insistence, or maybe it was the combination of his smile and that of his son's. Either way, Vala found herself taking the money from him. She smiled again and nodded as he thanked her enthusiastically before he took his leave, grumbling to his son about not taking daddy's things.
Smiling to herself, Vala was too wrapped up in the warm feeling of doing something good that she failed to notice the man leaning against the end of a shelf just to her left. She didn't even look up from the bill in her hands until he spoke.
"Got you a nice reward, huh?"
Vala spun to meet the critical blue gaze. Daniel had a book between his hands and was watching her over the rim of his glasses.
"You saw that?" She asked, feeling guilty for some unknown reason. In an instant, the good feeling caused by her good deed faded away.
Closing the book, keeping his spot with his index finger, Daniel walked over to her. He nodded casually. "Saw the wallet fall, saw you pick it up, saw you consider your options…" Standing just before her, he used his free hand to brush a finger over the money in her hand. "Saw you return it and get a reward."
Vala shook her head, feeling like she needed to defend herself. "I didn't know there would be one, I promise you." Her words were desperate and rushed. "I told him I didn't want the
money, but he was insistent and I just couldn't tell him no. I promise you, Daniel. I didn't ask for this."
"Hey." Daniel's voice was gentle, as were his fingers as they came up to cup her chin. Grey eyes looked into blue, and Vala felt as if the entire world had stopped around her. All that existed was Daniel and that look. The look. "You just did an amazing thing, Vala. The guy was right – you aren't most people."
She felt her breath catch as he spoke his next words.
"I'm proud of you." Daniel murmured and before she could even appreciate his soft smile, he leaned in and pressed his lips to hers in a sweet kiss. It only lasted a moment, but left Vala feeling more shocked and confused than she ever had around Daniel before.
"You just kissed me." She whispered with surprise.
This time she had a chance to take in Daniel's smile in its entirety. "Consider it my reward to you."
Vala felt that warm feeling rushing back and she smiled. "I might not have wanted to take the money," She could feel a mix of her confident self inside, and it made her happy to know Daniel was bringing it out of her. "But this…" Her arms came up to wrap around his neck. "This I think I'll take."
"Good girl." Daniel teased, leaning in for another kiss.
For so long she had dreamed of being the one in his arms, of being the one he was proud of. Now here she was, and there was no way her dreams had even come close. She was done living with the dreams. It was now her time to be Daniel's, and she wouldn't let a single minute slip away.
Reviews are definitely appreciated!