AN: I wanted fluff, my world seems devoid of it recently and my writing (what little I've done) has definitely been lacking. Hopefully this counts. Call it a missing chapter from 'The Long Road Home'
Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think. :O)
Teal'c clutched the small girl close to his chest as he made his way through the SGC. The whole base was in an uproar and although he wished to be on the team that was setting out to rescue his lost friend he had a duty to the child in his arms that out weighed his thirst for vengeance against the people that had hurt her mother.
Having left the infirmary Teal'c had decided that the best course of action for Tali would be a bath, a good meal, and then a warm bed. So he proceeded towards one of the VIP rooms that he knew to have baths instead of the team changing rooms which only had showers. He was about to step into the elevator when a sudden thought occurred to him and he doubled back on himself towards the Personnel Quarters, first stopping in Cam's and then Sam's. Tali didn't move in his arms as he collected various objects from his friends on base quarters and by the time they finally made it to the bathroom of the VIP room he was almost sure she had fallen asleep in his arms.
It proved not to be the case however when he leaned over slightly to begin running the bath and she clutched his t-shirt tighter at his movement.
He smiled to himself and knelt on the floor, allowing Tali to stand on her feet in front of him. Standing on her tip-toes Tali managed to peer over the side of the bath into the rapidly filling tub, her eyes going wide as Teal'c added some of the bubble bath he had borrowed from Sam.
Turning off the taps Teal'c tested the water to make sure it wasn't too hot for the small child and, satisfied, he turned back to his young charge, "It is bath time, little one." He told her, putting as much care and gentleness into his voice as he was able.
Tali gave him a calculating look before turning to look back at the bubble filled tub, "In… there?" She asked cautiously.
"Indeed. You must have a bath Tali." He intoned still lightly, but now slightly more serious.
"No." she told him firmly, her little arms coming to cross her chest.
Teal'c couldn't help but smile at the picture she created, her long black hair wild around her, arms cross and her brow wrinkled, a defiant look in her eyes. He didn't need to wait for DNA results, this was definitely Vala's daughter.
"You misunderstand Tali, this is not a debate." His words where serious but his tone held mischief his team mates wouldn't recognise. Reaching out he grasped the little girl and used his, considerable, skill to tickle her until her giggles filled the room. Drawing her into his lap he didn't stop his attack until he had managed to turn around to face the bath, Tali trapped on his lap between it and him.
Still giggling slightly Tali turned to face her protector, her reluctance for bath time now resurfacing, "Don't want to go in with them!" she said, as petulant as Vala at her greatest.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow before reaching round blindly behind him until his hand came into contact with the object he had taken from Cam's quarters, a large, yellow, rubber duck. It was wearing sunglasses.
"His name is Floyd" Teal'c told Tali and her eyes went wide as she followed his hand as he placed the duck among the bubbles.
"No!" She cried and tried to reach for the duck, her added height from standing on Teal'cs lap allowing her to reach further into the tub, "They'll hurt him!" Frantically reaching for Floyd she managed to grasp the duck without toppling into the water she was trying to avoid. She turned round and gave Teal'c another hard look, "Naughty Teal'c."
He couldn't help but chuckle as he realised that her aversion to bath time seemed to be caused by the bubbled rather than the activity of bathing itself. Understandable considering this was possibly the first time she had ever seen them. Allowing her to clutch Floyd to her he reached past her into the bath and scooped out a handful of bubbles. Her eyes went wide in horror as Teal'c brought them between them and then gently put some on the end of his finger. Carefully, so as not to scare her, he reached out and placed some bubbles on the tip of her nose. She went cross-eyed for a moment as she followed his action and then gasped as his hand made contact, her own tiny hand coming up to touch them.
Feeling them pop beneath her fingers a smile slowly returned to her face and, as she gathered her courage, she managed to place a small amount onto Teal'cs own nose, "No hurt?" She asked Teal'c.
He shook his head, "No little one, they do not hurt," Softly he blew the rest of the bubbles from his palm at her face and was pleased when her giggling returned, "Now it is time for you to go into the bath too."
Still clutching Floyd she gave one last look into the bath before agreeing and allowing Teal'c to pull her faded dress over her head and lift her into the bath.
Now that her fear of bubbles had been concurred Tali was free to enjoy her bath, along with Floyd, splashing happily as Teal'c set about washing the dirt from her tiny body.
His giant hands careful against her delicate skin, Teal'c managed clean her fairly quickly until all that was left was the tangled mass that was her hair. "Lean your head back little one," He told her as he used a jug to pour water down her back before soaping it up with the shampoo and conditioner he had also borrowed from Sam.
"Ouch!" She cried, her eyes screwed tightly shut, "My eyes! Teal'c my eyes!"
Reacting quickly Teal'c thumbed the soap from her eyes, remembering when his own son would complain of the same thing and how to deal with it, "There we are Tali." He told her softly before reaching back into the water to fill the jug and rinse the soap from her hair.
"Ima puts her hand against my head" She told him, "Like this," her hand went to the top of her head as she tilted it back, "That's the proper way to do it."
Teal'c nodded and replaced the girls hand with his own before tipping the water down her back to rinse her hair, "Your ima is very smart." He told her.
"Uh huh," She agreed, "The smartest." She sat quietly while he finished her hair before speaking again, "You got to do Floyds now." She told him and sure enough, on top of the small ducks head she had piled a rather large amount of bubbles to represent hair, "He hasn't got no hair so I had to give him some."
"Go on then," He told her, handing her the jug and watching in amusement as she poured the water over Floyd.
"Can I give you hair too?" She asked, radiating innocence as she beamed up at him.
He patted his head, "I already have hair." Her smile faded considerable in disappointment and Teal'c realised he could stand the look no more on her than he could her mother, "But you could give me a beard." He told her, knowing if his team mates ever found out he would never live it down but somehow not caring.
The smile returned in full force as Tali set about her task of giving Teal'c a full beard with the small amount of bubbles left in the bath, standing and holding onto the edge with one hand while the other worked away on her project. While she was distracted Teal'c set about the mammoth task of untangling her hair, working a comb through it gently from root to tip. Only twice did the comb catch so badly on her, now clean, hair that she winced but it didn't seem to bother her much and by the time he was done with her hair she was done with his beard.
"Out we come now." He said as he pulled the plug and lifted her out onto the floor and wrapped her in a huge fluffy towel.
She began giggling again as she was lifted into his arms, "Captain Bubble Beard!" She laughed as she patted his cheeks, causing small clouds of bubbles to fly from his face, and Teal'c laughed with her as he caught his reflection in the mirror.
Taking her out into the bedroom Teal'c managed to dry her off and pull a USAF t-shirt over her head for her to wear to bed before patting her hair dry and methodically twisting it into one long braid down her back.
She snuggled into the crook of his neck as he made a quick phone call and headed out to his quarters.
An Airman was waiting for him there with a glass of warm milk and a plate of toast with jam. Placing Tali down on the camp bed that had been set there for her Teal'c relieved the Airman before closing the door and dimming the lights.
Sitting next to her on the bed Teal'c helped her with her drink but a wide yawn split her face and her eyes began to droop before she could take more than a few bites from her supper.
"Teal'c?" She asked, her voice now heavy with sleep, "Will ima be here soon?"
Leaning down and tucking the blanket firmly around her Teal'c gently ran his finger down the length of her nose, "I hope so little one."
"Ok." the word was said around another huge yawn but her eyes snapped open suddenly, "Kiss?"
Teal'c smiled softly and placed a the most tender kiss to her forehead, "Goodnight Tali."
"Night…" She trailed off as sleep overtook her.
Teal'c gave her another kiss before moving to his own bed, knowing that he would get no sleep until his team returned with news of Vala but for the moment content to watch the rise and fall of Tali's chest as she slept.
Four hours later as his own eyes began to fall shut Teal'c let out a sigh, "Come home Vala…" and then sleep took him too.