TITLE: Loss
AUTHOR: Matt
SUMMARY: He finds her in her quarters, crying. Set after the events of The Shroud in Season 10. Also contains references to events in Secrets, Forever in a Day, Maternal Instincts, and Absolute Power
RATING: PG
DISCLAIMER: Characters are the property of MGM et al. No financial gain is made with this piece, and no offense is intended.
CHALLENGE: For fanfic100, prompt "Ends"

Daniel found her, surprisingly, in her quarters. It was usually the last place she liked to be, as she seemed to prefer either his quarters or his lab. He'd never been quite certain how she'd first got into his room. It was likely she'd bribed a guard for a key card and then 'forgotten' to return it. He wasn't sure why she preferred his quarters over her own, but suspected it was probably because they were his.

But she'd not been in his lab, playing on his computer or thumbing through his books. In actual fact, the room looked remarkably desolate. So he'd turned from there and headed to the elevator, thinking that she might be waiting to pounce on him. Since the night she'd tried to seduce him – which seemed so long ago – Vala hadn't returned to his bed, choosing instead to either pace the floor or sit sideways in the easy chair. Truthfully, he wasn't sure how he felt about the change in her demeanor. Ever since her return from the Ori galaxy she seemed… different. She'd toned down and while she could still be scandalous on occasion, those occasions were becoming rarer and rarer.

His key card slid easily through the lock – she wasn't the only one with access to a different set of quarters – and pushed open the door. Vala lay on her bed, facing away from him and curled into a ball. She didn't move when the door clicked shut.

"You okay?" he asked.

Daniel didn't receive a response, but he hadn't really anticipated one. He walked over to the bed and sat on the edge of it. He didn't really want to reach out physically to her, but he was having a hard time fighting the temptation. She looked so… vulnerable.

"Hey, come on," he said, opting for the safety of humor instead, "I thought you'd be glad to see me back. I expected to have you leaping all over me. I was looking forward to fighting you off."

Vala sniffed. "There's more to my life than just you, Daniel Jackson. Perhaps your ego needs to realize that."

He sat back, stunned at her harsh rebuke. This wasn't the Vala he knew. The Vala he thought he knew would have made some salacious comment ending with the word, "Darling."

Not knowing what was wrong, and not knowing what to say, Daniel sat and waited. He didn't want to leave her, not in this traumatized state. Despite his frequent comments to the contrary, he'd really become rather fond of the former thief. She'd worked hard to earn his trust, and he'd been humbled more than once by her faith in him.

"That was the second time I'd abandoned her."

It didn't take a genius to figure out who Vala was talking about. They'd beamed off the ship just seconds before it supposedly blew, leaving Adria once again.

"We should never have left her the first time," Vala added.

"Vala… We couldn't have taken her with us."

"She was a child."

"She had the knowledge of the Ori." Even as a child, Adria would have been a liability.

"So?"

"So, there's no way she could have stayed on Earth and been a normal child."

Vala sat up, and twisted around to face him. "She was my daughter, Daniel," she hissed, her eyes flashing.

"I know." Oh, how he knew. The girl had a look of her mother about her. But he had to convince Vala that Adria could never have been a normal child, not with the knowledge she possessed.

He seized on an idea. "Did Qetesh know of the harcesis?"

"It's a myth."

He shook his head. "It's not. His name is Shifu."

"What?"

"He was the son of Apophis and Amounet." How strange it sounded, to vocalize the separation of Sha're from the parasite within her.

"Your wife." For Vala, there was no separation. He wondered if that was due to her experience as a Host.

"I was there when he was born. And when she died, I made it a point to find him. When I did, I wanted to keep him so badly. I was convinced I knew best."

"What happened?"

"I was convinced otherwise." He remembered coming to the slow realization that he could never give Shifu what he needed.

And he remembered the emptiness inside him after Shifu ascended.

Vala pushed her hair back. "But he wasn't your son," she insisted.

"No." But it was the closest he would ever come to having a son of his own. "That didn't matter. He was a part of Sha're. I could never have rejected him."

"Adria is part of me. I can't reject her, no matter how I try or how evil she is."

"I know." He thought about it. "Giving her up isn't the same as rejecting her. I gave up Shifu because it wasn't meant to be. Ask yourself, Vala, could you have given her what she needed? Could you have given her enough to be able to forget who she was and grow up like a normal, human child?"

Vala sighed. "She's not even fully human."

"Neither's Shifu."

She looked at him curiously. "Do you miss him?"

Daniel considered the question. He'd never known Shifu as he'd known the Harcesis child's mother or uncle, and he missed Sha're and Skaara immensely. But did that mean he considered his pseudo step-son any less? He'd lost his parents, his wife, his brother-in-law, father-in-law, and yes, Shifu as well.

"I miss him," he finally told her. "Just as I miss the rest of my family."

"How do you do it? How do you go on?"

Daniel shrugged. "I just do," he answered simply.

"I miss her," Vala admitted, swallowing roughly.

"I know."

He moved then, shuffling further onto the bed and gathering her into his arms. She clung to him as she wept, and he held her equally as tight. Adria was something created by an evil race of beings, but she'd been part of Vala, just as Shifu had not only been the son of Apophis but also the son of Sha're.

Despite the non-human, all-knowing, potentially evil characteristics of the children who should never have come into this word, it would always, always be alright to grieve for them.

After all, grief was what made him and Vala human.

FINIS