Summary: Sometimes yesterdays are better off left alone. Written for the Vala Alphabet Soup Anthology. Special thanks for SG-Fignewton who did a fantastic, super fast beta.
Taking time to reflect on one's past wasn't always a good idea. Vala Mal Doran knew this more than anyone, but sitting in a freezing cold cavern with absolutely nothing else to do wasn't high on her list of priorities either.
She sat, huddled and shivering on the cold floor, glaring at Daniel Jackson for his obstinate desire to stay as far away from her as he possibly could. Even Samantha Carter, who had the misfortune of being trapped in the same cavern, was keeping her distance. The fact that she was looking for a way out was no condolence to Vala, who was bored and just a little put out that she was stuck here with two people and still alone. This situation only led to reminiscing, which almost always led to dark, unpleasant memories.
Vala shook away the gloom that was creeping up on her and decided to liven things up a little.
"We have been all over this cavern, looking for every possible escape and all we've gotten for our trouble is a severe case of frostbite."
Daniel gave her one of his 'not now, Vala' looks, and said, "Frostbite?"
"Yes, frostbite." She was determined to get a conversation going no matter what. "My hands are so cold, they're turning blue and tingly." Daniel rolled his eyes, then turned back to the hole in the ceiling that he had been inspecting. "Of course," Vala added after some thought, "Tingly really isn't all that bad."
"Right," he muttered, clearly not paying any attention to her, even though she had put extra emphasis on the word, tingly. This was so typical of him, she thought. They were stuck in this cave, with their only means of escape being the very hole they had fallen through. She knew that rescue would be imminent - well, as soon as their teammates came back from their little side trip. In the meantime, she and her companions would have to wait. In the freezing cold cavern. With people who were more interested in the cave than conversing with her. This was not acceptable. She needed to talk, if only to ward away the memories that still lingered in her mind.
"Teal'c and Cameron will be back any time now, you know."
Sam looked back at her and nodded, then came back and sat down next to her, putting her hands under her arms to warm them.
"Moving around will warm you up," Sam said, although she made no move to do so herself. Vala shrugged, while Sam added, "I just wish we could have seen that covering up there before we stepped onto it."
"Too late for that now," Daniel said as he came over to sit down with them.
"I know," Sam said. Vala heard the resignation in her friend's voice and found herself remembering another time...
"Let's not dwell," she said forcibly, more to herself than to her friends, then smiled brightly at Daniel, who stared at her with an inquisitive expression. She shrugged again, then added, "There are more interesting things to talk about than what could have been."
"Like what?" Sam asked, just as Daniel put up his hand to stop her.
"Don't ask," he told Sam with a warning glance.
"Too late," Vala said sweetly. She smiled at Daniel, more to aggravate him than anything else, then said, "Actually, I don't have a clue, but anything would be good. I'm bored." Her pout was fake, but she could tell it was working on Daniel. He was now back to glaring at her, which pleased Vala. Picking on Daniel always livened things up.
"How long do you think it will be here before Teal'c and Cam find us?" Daniel asked instead.
"I don't know," Sam said. "Maybe a couple of hours." She huddled up even more for warmth. "God, it's cold." She looked at Daniel, then added, "This reminds me of the time General O'Neill and I were stranded in Antartica." She looked around, then up to the hole in the ceiling. "Even has an escape route up there. Of course, that's much higher up, but still..."
"I remember that," Daniel said. "We thought you had gated to another planet, only to find out that you were on Earth the whole time."
"Yeah. We nearly froze to death."
"Which is not a pleasant experience," Vala said, realizing with a sigh that she was not going to be successful in chasing away the dark memories that had popped up ever since she had realized she was once again trapped in a cave. In the cold. She turned her attention to her companions and smiled. At least she wasn't alone.
"When were you ever 'frozen'?" Daniel asked, not unkindly. He genuinely appeared to be interested.
"Well, I didn't actually 'freeze' to death," she felt it prudent to say. She pulled her knees up and hugged them to her chest, as she stared off into the shadows that rimmed the walls of the cave. "I was young. So young." The light filtering down from the hole in the ceiling didn't do a whole lot in chasing away the shadows. Vala didn't mind, though, as she thought about her childhood. "I was a beautiful child."
This was said in a matter-of-fact tone, which prompted a smile from Sam. Vala noticed it when Sam said, "I'm sure you were."
"I was," Vala insisted. She turned back to the shadows, remembering the ones from her past. "It seems like only yesterday...," Her voice trailed off as she thought about all the yesterdays, even those she missed during the time Qetesh ruled her life. "Sometimes, I think yesterdays are better off left alone."
"Words of wisdom, Vala," Daniel said, his expression softened by sadness. Vala could only wonder what brought on that look. A noise from above kept her from finding out.
"Hey!" came a voice that Vala recognized. Her heart leapt in anticipation when she looked up and saw Cameron Mitchell's face peering down at them through the hole. They were finally rescued. "Sam! Are you down there?"
"Yes," Daniel answered instead. "We've been down here for awhile now. What took you guys so long?"
"We've been looking for you," Cameron said, just as a rope sailed past his head and snaked down through the hole in the ceiling. "We'll have you out of there in a jiffy."
"Good thing," Daniel said. "Although I was just getting interested in that story Vala was trying to tell us."
"We don't need to dwell on our yesterdays," she told Daniel, as she strode over to the rope. She tugged on it, then turned to give him a huge smile. "Ladies first."