AN: no idea where this came from but I hope more of it keeps coming :O) If anyone can think of a good name for this I would love to hear it because I have no clue what to call it.

Let me know what you think, bit of a different style for me so I'd like to know if it works.

***

Tonight, child, I am going to tell you a story.

Listen carefully, there's more to stories than you think.

***

In the middle of the night a woman wails loudly and then the sharp cry of a new born baby pierces the air. The woman's husband takes the baby from the midwife and places it reverently in his wives arms, smiling down at both of them.

His wife and daughter.

'I'll never leave them'' he thinks as his daughter opens her eyes for the first time and looks out at the world from behind bright blue eyes.

***

Every story, child, eventually finds its way to darkness.


Oh, you may not begin in the dark — at the start you may think the story is mother and father and a child born into a world of sunshine and ice cream, a land of good fairies and wise old men. Magic boxes and the stars at your fingertips.

That's where you start. It's not where you'll stay.

***

Five year old Vala Mal Doran ran in her mother's garden, laughing as the long grass brushed against her knees. The late afternoon sun shone down on her as she collected flowers for her mother to twist into her hair.

A man walked down the path and it wasn't until his shadow loomed over her that she finally noticed him and stopped laughing.

Vala didn't notice, she was enthralled by the man.

"Daddy! You're back!" she cried and threw herself into his open arms.

"There's my princess." He laughed as he picked her up and kissed her cheek, "You get bigger every time I see you."

"Dinner's almost ready." Vala's mother told them as she came to stand beside them and received a kiss from her husband, a sad smile on her face.

Together the family walked into the house and, for a few days, everything was normal again.

But in a few days time Vala's laughter will be gone and replaced by tears as her father leaves again, leaving her with nothing more than another trinket and a broken heart.

***

I don't need to tell you what you will find in the darkness, dear one. You've always known it was there, though you could not see it: It is in the shadows stretched thin along your bedroom wall, the groan of the tree outside your window. It is the silence after your mother has doused the lamps and left you alone in the dark. You know it well.

It knows you, too.

***

There are a set of floorboards in her mother's pantry that come lose and a small space underneath them that has been cut out of the ground.

It's where her mother hides her when the Jaffa come to the village.

She's only ten but she's self aware enough to know that she's a pretty child and she's smart enough to know that this isn't a good thing.

It's dark and damp and she hates it but Vala knows better than to cry about it, she wants to but she knows if she makes even the smallest sound they might find her.

After the first time she makes her mother promise never to turn the lamp off in her room at night.

***

That which waits in the dark, child, can never touch you when the lamps are lit. Nightmares are cowardly things — it is their nature to cling to the shadows, to hide in dim, wet places where men rarely walk. But children, my love, my heart, my little one — children stumble so easily into the darkness.

And once you have stumbled, it is but a simple thing to fall.

***

When she's 12 her mother dies and father sends her to live with Adria.

Adria shuts of the lights in her room at night and ignores her when she cries and begs not to be left alone in the darkness.

She now climbs out of her window at night and lies in the back garden looking up at the stars. If she tries hard enough she can almost pretend that the short clipped lawn is the long wild grass of her mother's house and that the stars are nearly the same as those that shine down on her home.

She knows it's not safe, that there are Jaffa on the planet, and each night she promises herself it will be the last.

Until one night when she's 16 the Jaffa steal her away it truly is the last time she'll ever see those stars again.

It's the last time she'll see anything for almost 10 years.

***

There are many ways to tell a story, child. This is one.

Once there was a girl. She was small and fierce and she stared so long at the sky that one cold night she opened her mouth and swallowed a star. She hid it away under her skin, and if you looked very, very closely, you could see the sunlight in her eyes.

But little girls aren't meant to carry stars inside them, you know. It burned everything she touched, and her fingers turned dark with ash.

***

Once the Tok'ra are done with her she finds her father.

She wants him to open his arms to her like he did when she was a little girl but it doesn't happen. She's no longer that innocent child with happy bright blue eyes, she's now covered with the invisible handprints of Qetesh's lovers and her eyes reflect the cold, sad, light of the moon.

Her father turns his back on her and makes his way back to his ship, never looking back.

The people of her mother's village mostly do the same but there are those that throw stones at her as she makes her way back to the gate.

She ignores the blood that flows down her arm from a wound on her shoulder, she ignores it as it slips over her hand until it's dripping from her fingers. Her hands are already so drenched in other peoples blood she thinks maybe it's time her own blood covered them. She contemplates going back and allowing them to finish the job they've started but then it's too late and she's already stepping through the gate.

Her old life crumbles behind her along with the person she used to be and when she steps through the other side of the gate she's no longer Vala Mal Doran, she's just someone who happens to have that name.

***

I do not want you to think, child, that the darkness is all there is. We would not fear the dark if we did not live in the light, for most of our days. It is in the light that we learn to hold things close, to touch warm hands to warmer skin and to listen for the gentle rise and fall of well-loved voices.

Without the light, we would have little to lose.

***

It's another five years before she finds something close to a home, finds something close to friendship.

Their not perfect but then again neither is she. They all have their little flaws and insecurities, their dirty little secrets and embarrassing stories. They've done wondrous things they never got praise for and shameful things that will haunt them forever.

She loves them each in her own little way.

Cameron for his eternal optimism.

Daniel for always trying to save her from herself, for thinking there was something worth saving.

Teal'c who would do anything to protect those he loved.

She's happy.

***

You will be think, my child, that you have grown too old to fear the dark. And yes, you are as strong and as brave as stars, as the flesh of the heart and electric hum of the mind. You are the body — the hands and the feet, the kidneys and toenails. The will, and the wish. Small as you are, my love, you stand tall in the light.

You are nothing here.

***

She stumbles into the rings but she knows she's not going to make it in time.

Even as the rings rise up around her she can see her ship beginning to come apart and in the moment before the flash transports her she hates Daniel for making her something better than she was before, being selfish kept you a lot safer than this.

But then the darkness is closing in around her.

When she wakes she's in a clearing next to a Stragate and a man is lifting her into his arms. She doesn't know who he is but she turns her face into his chest and cries.

Once again she's left with nothing, left to start all over again. She doesn't know if she has the will to do it again but then she begins to feel the life growing inside of her and no matter how hard it might be she knows she needs to carry on, she needs to find a way back.

She is on her own but now she knows she doesn't have to be.

***

I have a hundred stories to tell you, my love. A hundred hundred. I could hold you close and tell you stories for nights unending, speak until my voice cracked and faded and our bones turned to dust. A thousand thousand stories, child, each perfect and terrible and full of darkness.

They would all end the same way.

***

It's nine months before she manages to get back to them, to get back to him. The meeting is typical of them, stumbling into each other by accident in a corridor, and they immediately fall back into the banter and not-quite arguing that has always defined their relationship.

She makes a new friend in Sam and together the five of them save the galaxy, and each other, from her daughter and the Ori.

Together they laugh and they cry. They get drunk and create more embarrassing stories together. They run for their lives when they have to and they stand and fight sometimes when they don't. They fall in and out of love, they grow older but not necessarily wiser, they share each others joy and wallow in each others misery.

And time moved on.

***

Listen well, my love. Time grows short.

When you find the darkness — and you will, or it will find you — do not fear. Do not tremble. It is your fear that they crave, those soft sharp things waiting in the dark. They roll your terrors over their tongues like sweets, rotting their teeth, blackening their smiles. They wish you to fear them. Do not.

There are greater things to fear.

***

She no longer sleeps with the lights on.

She's grown up and learned the awful truth that while there might be monsters out there it's only sometimes that they look like you think they should but most of the time they look just like normal people, and that they don't hide in the dark, in wardrobes and under beds.

There's nothing to be scared of in the dark of her room deep in the SGC.

There's no reason to keep the lights on because now the monster lives inside her heart, it takes the shape of her daughter and taunts her from inside her own head and no light can help her then.

***

Wishes, my child, are powerful things. They are the lights you take with you into the dark.

Oh, you will find use for bravery and kindness and cleverness, if you are lucky enough to have them, but when the monster's hands close round your young throat, it is the wish that will save you. Your will, child. Your heart's desire.

Wish for home. Wish for help. Wish for power.

A wish is a kind of monster, too, you know.

***

She and Sam have been stuck in this cell for almost a week now and she doesn't know how much longer Sam can hold on.

Sitting on the floor she pulls Sam's unconscious form tighter against her in an attempt to share what little body heat she has.

She prays once again that the guys will find them and get them out. She hopes that they will make it back home before one of them dies. She wishes she had the power to stop it all.

Another day passes and Sam develops a cough and she's becoming harder to rouse when food and water are shoved under the door, Vala doesn't eat any of it, Sam needs it more than she does.

The guards come back to take Sam again but Vala puts up so much of a fight that they take her instead. They drag her down the long corridor towards 'the room' and when the door is opened and the smell of blood hits her nostrils, the smell of Sam's blood, something snaps inside of her.

She rounds on the guards and the first one is dead in an instant, his neck snapped from the force of her blow. It's a moment's work to grab his blaster from his collapsing side and turn it on his comrade, who's still fumbling to get his own.

She picks up the second blaster and leaves their dead bodies behind her.

She doesn't notice the smell of blood that now follows her as she makes her way back to Sam, cutting down everyone she comes across. She doesn't hear the sound of P90 fire that's slowly getting closer to her. She doesn't feel the blood, both her own and from others, that's now splattered across her whole form.

She doesn't notice anything until she's dragging Sam from the cell and she turns a corner bringing her blaster level with Daniel's face.

His eyes widen in shock and he can tell she doesn't comprehend what she's looking at when her finger begins to tighten on the trigger.

"It's ok Vala, you can stop now." He tells her in his most calming voice even though underneath he's shaken to the core.

On some level the words must reach her because her gun lowers and her eyes roll back into her head as she passes out. Teal'c grabs the falling form of Sam while Daniel wraps his arms around Vala and lifts her into his arms.

She's quiet the whole way back to the gate and it's not until hours later when she's in the infirmary that she cries, cries for ever wishing she could do it and cries because she knows she would do it again.

***

One day, child, you will die.

You do not believe me — I can see it in your face. You think death comes only to the old, or to the wicked. You think, dear heart, that in stories you will end well, and happily. You are young, and you are good, and you will not die.

There's more to stories than you think.

***

There's gun fire all around them and a building explodes over head when she feels a hot searing pain spread across her back.

It's gone in an instance, replaced by a sudden chill that steals her breath and penetrates her to the bone.

Time slows.

A cough drags itself from her lungs and she tastes blood in her mouth.

'This isn't how it was supposed to end' she thinks as the world blurs around her but deep down she knows that it is. People like her didn't get to die in a safe warm bed surrounded by loving children and grandchildren.

Happily ever after only belonged in story books and movies.

But then she feels warm hands grasping her shoulders and with her blurred vision she can't tell if it's Daniel or Cameron that's lifting her into their lap.

"Daniel?" She slurs out.

"Yeah, it's me." The voice doesn't sound right, it's thick with tears and hoarse from shouting.

She manages one last mega-watt smile before everything goes black, it wasn't happy ever after but she was surrounded by the arms of the man she loved.

Cam lowers Vala's dead body from his lap and turns back to the fight with the fury of a thousand suns and it's only once all of the enemy are dead around him that he turns back to his fallen comrades.

"You lied to her." Teal'c states as he begins to construct a stretcher for their dead friend, Daniel's too full of anguish to help and Sam not with them, still recovering from their last ordeal.

"Yeah, she earned that much."