Not my usual D/V type of fic, but there is a bit of it in here if you want to look at it that way (might also be taken as Cam/Vala) but mostly it's Vala/team.
Enjoy and let me know what you think :)
Red. It was the first thing she was aware of.
Black. It was the last thing she remembered as she sunk into oblivion.
And somewhere between the Red and the Black the hysterical thought came to her that this should probably hurt and that now might be a good time to lay down.
It all happened in slow motion. Such painfully slow motion that for a moment he thought time had stood still. And then she fell.
Lying on the ground with her eyes rolled back into her head. So still. Motionless.
No, no. This wasn't happening, this couldn't be happening.
Not to her.
"Please" he begs, clutching her clammy hand. Somewhere in the back of his mind he registers that he made it to her side from the other side of the square in less than 15 seconds. 15 seconds in which the ground is stained red. He shakes the thought off and prays to a God he isn't sure he believes in that she will squeeze his hand back, prays that she will surprise him like she always does.
He squeezes again, harder, but still there is nothing.
And then when he turns around it's his moment for hysteria to take over.
"Where the hell is Sam with the med kit!"
It's a cacophony of noise that comes back at him, but he understands none of it beyond the words "Almost here."
And it's not nearly good enough.
Not with all this Red.
It's no one's fault, he reasons.
They had done this a hundred times before. Put her on display to charm and beguile the locals. Let her weave her magic in front of untrusting villagers until they were swallowing up her words with the enthusiasm of hungry sharks.
And the whole time he had stood watching, his hand resting on the butt of his P90, a cocky grin on his face. He was meant to be covering her, but he was watching her performance as well.
He knew his place in this miss-fit group. He was the big-brother. The protector.
But today, today he had just been another admirer of her well-honed skills.
An admirer of how she didn't seem the least bit afraid.
Even when the shot rang out through the busy square.
Even when she'd raised her hands and seen the Red coating them.
So much Red.
Too much Red.
It's only when she falls backwards, with no one between her and the paving stones that he sees her fear.
She was sure that he must have run past her. After all, she was the only one pushing in this direction. And damn it if she hadn't let him.
She had been standing with Teal'c, admiring the show. They both had. And she'd leaned over and whispered, "Do you ever wonder how often she plays us like this?"
He had turned to her, grinned, and replied "Every day." And she hadn't been able to work out if he meant he wondered every day or if he just assumed that Vala played them every day. Sam thought it was probably a little of both.
So they turned back to watching her.
Because watching Vala when she was like this was a bit like watching a well-choreographed dance.
The right words, the right cues, a gesture here, a look there.
She manoeuvred them into trusting the team without them even knowing it.
They hadn't been looking for the danger. Hadn't thought that their mere presence would be enough to set one of them off into a red fury.
And a violent one at that.
She was sure he must have pushed past her when the stampede had started.
In any case, he was gone now.
And there was Vala lying on the stones, covered in blood.
The absurd thought that she had a shirt the same shade of red passes fleetingly through her mind as she bends down beside Daniel to stop the flow.
They had all rushed to her. All pushed in and got in each other's ways.
All but him.
Even now he has to be the one to keep a cool head, be the one to take charge.
Because Daniel is too covered in her blood to do so, too panicked at the thought of loss.
Because Cam is too angry and Sam too shocked.
"Get her up." His voice is quiet. Calm. Some may have mistaken it for indifference but that was far from the truth.
It's just that someone has to lead.
He sees Sam struggle to find some logic in this situation. He doesn't have the heart to tell her that there isn't any to be found.
This is just life.
He looks down on the raven haired woman lying in Daniels arms just a few feet away from him.
She's covered in Red.
His last thought before he turns and strides off towards the gate is that he's seen too much Red in his life time.
Too damned much.
He watches the surveillance footage from the SGC infirmary like a macabre daytime soap opera.
He doesn't know Vala that well, but he knows her well enough to be worried about her.
Because being in the SGC is like being part of the world's most secret fraternity.
When one of them goes down, they all feel it.
Because next time it could be you.
Next time it could be you who wakes up, kisses your loved ones goodbye, and then walk through the gate never to come back again.
Jack had to snap himself out of it.
Vala had neither loved ones to kiss goodbye nor was she dead.
He hopes because he's too afraid to make the call and find out, to hear the defeat in Landry's voice as he says "We did everything we could, but the damage was just too much."
He doesn't know how he would handle losing a woman he barley knows, when all he does know about her has turned out to be so strange and contradictory.
That she would smile at the most absurd times.
That she had somehow learned every word to every Beatles song ever written and could fire them off at a moment's notice, all horrifically out of tune.
That even after all she had gone through she still cared enough to cry.
He had never called her on that. Didn't think any of the team had either, probably because they all hoped to God that they could all still cry when the tears where warranted.
He didn't know if he could he thought absurdly. Didn't know if she where to die today wither he would have any tears left to cry for another fallen hero.
He turns back to the screen.
"God, I've never seen so much blood." He whispers, "Never seen so much red…"
Cam wished he could see into the operating room. Wished he knew more of what was going on.
He had heard the strain in Carolyn's voice, the fear, as they had rushed Vala from the gate room.
The fear that by the end of this there would only be four members of SG1 and not five.
He went over the scene in his head a thousand times, committing ever detail to memory. The way she had been talking with the women of the village, a cheeky grin on her face. Even the throaty laugh she had given when one of them told a joke. It was burned in his memory with frightening clarity.
The dull pop of a weapon being fired, like a cork being shot from a bottle.
Vala had registered shock before the pain had hit her. Her head tilted to the side as her mind tried to process the turn in events.
And then she'd begun to waver. Just a little, as if she was rocking back and forth on her heels.
Her mouth had opened as if to ask a question but no sound had come out before she began her slow fall to the ground.
So now he waited.
Wondering if he would have the chance to do the same to the man that had hurt her.
Darkly, he hoped so.
Reasonably, he prayed otherwise.
And then Carolyn was in front of him.
"We think she's going to make it."
It's a long, slow, breath before he can answer, a barely audible "Okay."
And then he's walking away.
It's not until he's in the quiet of his office that it hits him.
He starts laughing.
And then he's doing both at once and swiping his arm out at all the things on his desk until they are lying in a mess on the floor.
A bottle of her nail polish is all that remains on the table. She was going to put it on before they left but hadn't had time.
It's spilled now, flowing sluggishly cross his desk and dripping onto the floor.
Awareness if a fickle thing. Especially when you added in the drugs.
The kinds that make you see Mickey Mouse and Count Duckula dancing a rather elaborate jive.
But somehow blue eyes cut through it all. The pain and the drugs.
Because they are afraid.
And this isn't right. This is more wrong than anything her drug induced delusions can come up with, there's just something fundamentally wrong with the image in front of her.
He takes her hand and squeezes and when she doesn't squeeze back he repeats the gesture. Looking up at him and into his eyes, a question dies on her lips, somehow she knows exactly what he needs.
She squeezes back.
She sees him exhale.
And then the blackness is claiming her again.
Thankfully this one isn't quite so dark and welcoming. This darkness didn't have a stripe of light shining behind it, the kind that murmured "come this way, lay down your troubles and come home."
She realises as the black takes her that she isn't ready to go home just yet.
"How is she?" Sam asked as he stepped out of her room. There had been no debate about him being the first in to see her. They had all accepted a long time ago that it would always be him at her side first, they might not be happy about it but it was a fact of their lives now.
In that same dark place he wonders if they would react the same if it was him that was shot again. Would they all look so frightened then?
They were irrational these thoughts.
"She's okay." He says, forcing a smile for their benefit.
He isn't surprised when Cam is the first to explode. "We need to go back and find the son of a bitch that did this and…"
"Bring him to justice," he says quickly, trying to cut off the anger. Already his mind is whirling, wondering if they shouldn't leave this to another team.
But they'd never accept that.
So instead, he could just beg them to remember that they were the good guys. And that good guys couldn't cross the line between justice and vengeance. No matter how much they wanted to.
He knew that look that he saw swimming around in Cam's eyes. It reminded him so much of Jack when they had first met. It said that if he found the guy who'd shot Vala and no one was around to stop him, he probably wouldn't give a shit if the guy was armed or not.
And well, that train had to be stopped in the station.
Because all it led to was hell.
"We find him and bring him to justice."
He says this staring at Cam and Sam. He knows that he doesn't need to repeat the warning to Teal'c.
Teal'c liked Vala, he thought she was a smart woman. Someone he respected and even admired for her skill.
But he also knew the dangers of vengeance.
That darkness that could threaten your soul under the wrong circumstances.
And for that, he was thankful.
Because right now Teal'c might be the only thing that could keep one of the team from crossing that line. No matter what promises they made. No matter what assurances they gave.
He wasn't sure that he himself should be excluded from that list.
Because in the end, it was all about being tired of the pain.
And they all were.
So very tired.
And so drawn to the blackness of vengeance.
Especially if it would make up for some of the pain.
Jack had taken him aside ten minutes after he arrived and assured him that it wasn't his fault.
Normally he would have played along, pretended he knew that.
He wasn't in the mood for games.
He wasn't up for lying just to keep the others off his back.
"Bullshit," he'd said. "It was my job was to cover her Sir."
And he knew that was right because he'd had his hand on his gun.
Covering her. Protecting her.
Only not very Goddamned well.
God, why hadn't they made her wear a vest? Who the fuck's stupid idea had that been?
Because she had never been afraid of being shot and always complained that a vest ruined the line of her outfit.
And showing the vest would have gone against the "no fear" message that she'd been trying to relay to the villagers.
Sam said she was sure the shooter was someone from the village.
Which meant someone knew who he was. Which meant he was on an Intel list somewhere.
Well he was on another list, too.
The kind that Daniel was warning against.
Too fucking bad.
His family. The ones who defended him, insisted that the authorities on Galar were wrong, fought for him even after realizing that they didn't know near as much about him as they thought they had.
They had still said they had the wrong guy.
He'd lay down his life for any of them.
He'd kill for all of them.
Even if doing so meant turning his soul black.
The tension was rising by the moment.
She felt like she wanted to scream.
The men were pacing the room; all but Jack who was just staring at her.
Because he knew that she was right on the edge of a mental collapse.
Anger. Frustration. Fear.
Because she'd never been shot.
Hit, hurt, beaten, but thank God never shot in cold blood.
And the fear of a bullet, well sometimes it kept her awake at night.
Right now, though, she'd take that bullet a thousand times if it meant that the younger woman – her good friend, who had accepted her immediately as an ally against their male team mates – could have been saved the pain.
That realization, so bitter and frightening, well it sent chills through her.
Because that was the true essence of family.
Do anything, die for them.
In any case, that option wasn't on the table. Only finding this son of a bitch and making sure he could never ever hurt anyone else, well that was.
"Let's go back to the planet. One of them did it."
Cam nodded. Jack nodded. It was a plan then.
They'd find him.
And part of her begged every holy power that there was that she would be the one to find him.
The other part, well it knew that only ugly darkness lay that way.
Hatred, fury and vengeance.
Black as coal, dirty and pure.
Jack could tell that they were all bending beneath the strain of this.
Not breaking so far, just bending.
But holding on.
If they could just get through this. Just find him, arrest him, toss him in a cell, get back to the gate and leave the planet behind forever.
And do it all before one of them said "fuck it".
Before one of them screamed "enough."
He and Landry had decided to break up the "kids", keep an eye on them.
So now it was he and Carter. Mitchell and Daniel were with Teal'c. The village had offered them complete cooperation to find him.
The first interview of the day was a short man named Brody. Immediately he knew that Brody wasn't their guy. Still, by the end of the conversation, he was pretty sure that Sam wanted to shoot him.
He was also pretty sure that he'd actually considered letting her.
Not because Brody was their guy, but because he was probably the single most annoying human being ever.
And because Brody had called Sam, "Baby Cakes" at least twice.
Which he'd been smart enough not to laugh at.
Interviews 2 through 8 hadn't been any more useful and so it was back to their meeting point and hoping that the others had had more luck.
Even while being slightly absurdly thankful that he and Sam had come up empty.
And wondering if Teal'c was hoping for the same luck.
Because the look on her face when she'd asked her questions, the tension in her body, the way her hand had constantly dropped down to her gun.
He'd had to remind himself that though he and Landry sometimes – and very much in private - jokingly called them the kids, they were no such things. They were adults, full of grown-up emotions.
Like anger. And rage.
He had learned his lesson about vengeance the hard way.
But in the meanwhile, through the years, so much had rotted away.
Until all that was left was a blackened husk with a heart still beating deep inside
He didn't want that for them.
He desperately hoped it wouldn't ever be them.
And he was thankful beyond words that at least for this day, it wouldn't be Samantha Carter.
At least for today, she wouldn't be black and dead inside.
He knew they had their guy before Cam and Teal'c did. Not because of the words he said, but because of the way he moved his hands.
His fingers had been fidgeting nervously when Daniel had seen him in the square, like he was trying to keep them from doing something else.
But there was more and now staring at McCoy he remembered it all so clearly.
McCoy had been fidgeting constantly, but there was also the business of how his hand had constantly dropped to his waist and then jerked back up. It seemed an innocent, if not slightly abnormal movement.
Like a constant twitch.
Or maybe someone timing when to pull a gun and fire.
And a few minutes in, everyone knew he was their guy.
There was a couple seconds when it seemed like time came full stop. They stared and everyone tried to figure out what to do.
McCoy suddenly turned around and ran, first throwing a heavy pot at Cam. Cam took off after him like a pissed off bat out of hell, with Teal'c behind him screaming out his name.
Like he was trying to remind Cam not to cross that line.
Idly, he realized that Teal'c wasn't afraid of him doing the same. After all, a genius like him? Self-Sacrifice, sure, cold blooded murder? Probably not.
McCoy didn't get far. Maybe he didn't want to. Within minutes, the three of them had him surrounded.
But all McCoy cared about was Cam.
"You want me dead, don't you?"
"Colonel Mitchell " Teal'c warned.
"Yes," Cam admitted.
"Then kill me. Pay me back for hurting your pretty friend."
He felt a surge of anger rip through him. Hurt. This hadn't been about killing Vala; it had been about hurting her and that was somehow worse.
And suddenly something black and cold inside of Daniel wanted McCoy to hurt, too. To feel the pain Vala must have felt when the bullet had torn through her flesh, when she had felt herself falling.
He watched Cam's fingers tighten on his gun, saw Teal'c step in closer.
He didn't move an inch. But he wondered…
Teal'c nodded to Cam who took no mercy in the way he slammed McCoy to the ground and secured him.
He watched Cam lean, saw him whisper something to him. And even though he didn't actually hear what Cam said, the way McCoy's entire body seemed to quiver said more than enough.
Something like "you got lucky".
Something like "you deserve to die".
And try as he might, he felt in agreement with those statements.
And he hated it.
Because it felt so horribly dark.
Like a pit with no bottom.
An insane urge flew through him…
Drink bad coffee.
Don't notice how black it is.
Remember that she's alive and nothing else matters.
"You can go in and see her," the nurse told her with a smile.
"She's tired and sore, but she's awake and she's lucid."
She nodded, said thank you and walked down the hall.
They had gotten back to Earth almost two hours ago after turning the man that shot Vala over to his local magistrate.
Which meant he was alive.
Which meant that none of them had crossed the line.
She was ecstatic.
She was furious.
She entered the room and saw her petite friend.
"Vala," she breathed.
"Hello Samantha," the younger woman said, trying to sound flip. "Guess we're changing sides, huh?"
"Don't even joke," Sam warned. "I…I thought –"
"That's what I thought, too. About you, I mean. I thought we'd lost you."
She reached out, took Vala's hand and squeezed it. "Two tough broads, huh?"
"Something like that," Vala grinned, before coughing. She quickly waved her hand to signal that she was fine
And then they both laughed. Because doing so reminded them that they were both alive. Both refusing to just lie down and die.
But then, quietly, "I thought I was going to die."
She swallowed, "So did I that day, when Cam and I were hiding from the Ori. Did you see everything, too?"
"No, just red. Lots of red."
"Funny," she replied. "I remember the black. Nothing, but black and then a light. And I started walking towards it…"
"And then you woke up," Vala murmured, as if lost in her own thoughts.
"Yeah," she confirmed.
"Two tough broads," Vala confirmed.
And once again, together they laughed.
She thought it funny and charming and sweet that they had all insisted on bringing her to her quarters together.
All of them, even Jack.
She was due to be out on medical leave for six weeks or at least until she didn't feel the need to pop a Vicodin every ten minutes for the pain.
They helped her in; she told them she could walk inside herself, but Cameron, always the chivalrous knight insisted and so she let him.
Well at least he hadn't tried to carry her.
Next had come the offers to do everything from get her a cup of tea to steal her more pillows from the supply room.
Absurd, sweet and touching.
The final straw had been Sam offering to help her get into her pyjamas.
Awkwardly offered, of course.
She smiled, assured them she was fine and in a roundabout way of asking them all to leave had said that she was really tired and just wanted to sleep.
They got the message loud and clear, turned towards the door, waved goodbye, promised to call and check in come the morning.
And just as Daniel was about to shut the door behind him, she'd called them back and said simply, "Thank you."
For the red and the black.