(originally published on Livejournal)
Vala hadn't tasted Christmas dinner before in her life. Easter, Earth's strange honoring of the undead by teasing them with candy they weren't able to eat, also came with a ham dinner that she'd been dragged to by Daniel when he was her diligent SGC watchdog. Thanksgiving came once it was just assumed that she'd join the team, and though she laughed with all of them, there was more than a little of her that was holding back and unsure. Was she allowed to say what she was truly thankful for? Would they just think she was joking, or might she regret proving otherwise? She couldn't remember exactly how it turned out, and she definitely didn't remember the foods or traditions.
So even though Mitchell informed her that this would be very boring, as it was essentially a turkey dinner again, her smile was genuine. Safe on Daniel's lap at the table, she had wicked plans for all these Earth foods. MREs and "cafeteria food" she knew well...but holiday foods inspired indulgence.
But potatoes didn't taste much different creamed, the peas were still canned, and turkey was really just chicken in a bigger package. The last part she accidentally blurted out, but thankfully it made Sam and Mitchell laugh and say she'd stumbled upon an Earth cliche that was too true.
Vala smiled to herself. She liked Earth cliches. As long as people were happy, they made them more comfortable. Even Daniel, despite when he tried to roll his eyes, because there was so much change in their lives that a little familiarity did not breed contempt (as another one of their contradictory cliches said). It gave her no end of pleasure to notice that he was certainly not even trying to do so now, and was even less likely with the happy little twist of her hips that came out without her intending it. Sam might have borrowed her favorite hair sparkles, and the food might have been a sorry attempt at celebration fare, but Vala liked Christmas anyways.
Daniel only had one hand at her waist, though, and as one of Teal'c's jokes started a train of dirty thoughts in her mind (even though her fellow Earth friends didn't seem to understand how naughty Teal'c was actually being), her eyes darted around to see where the other hand might be. Her naughty intentions all set, she was slightly disappointed.
Fork in hand, Daniel mashed at the potatoes and peas left on his plate, forming them into...something. Vala tried to remember the food fight rules that Mitchell had attempted to explain years ago, after she'd tried to initiate one and had failed miserably. But she couldn't remember food grenades being part of it, and Daniel was hardly a chef like the ones on TV, so what was the point of playing with his food? As he planted a baby carrot right in the center, she had to speak.
"Is it too scary in normal form to eat?" she murmured into his ear, reaching out for a bite of the cranberry sauce on his plate (the only thing that reminded her of anything good).
"No," he said, dragging out the syllable with an understated warmness in his tone. "It's not for me, it's for us. It's a symbol."
Vala had learned to take Daniel very seriously, even when he was joking, which he probably wasn't here despite the humor lying wait in his voice. The little round mound of mashed potatoes, dotted with peas, with the carrot sticking up out of its center. "If it's about feelings of phallic incompetence, Daniel, you should know better," she said, one eyebrow slightly rising.
Daniel choked, and Vala chuckled and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, leaning in as he stammered, "No—Vala—it's supposed to be a birthday candle."
"I like birthdays," she said, perking up, finally making the connection to the Earthen way of introducing wax and fire to symbolic sweets.
"Well, not exactly birthday, more anniversary," Daniel said, tone calmer, hand at her waist now softly stroking.
"Mm?" Vala liked the feel of his hand. She liked it more than she'd sometimes feel comfortable admitting, in case she came off like one of those pathetic clingy little things that represented Earthen women in "romantic" movies.
"It's been a year." Daniel breathed out, pausing for a second, and Vala absently rested her cheek against the top of his head as she still sat on his lap. "Not for us on the Odyssey, but us—well, not even us being us, but just us acknowledging what it meant, solidifying it."
"I see," Vala said quietly, not even noticing how the words tumbled out of his mouth because yes that was sexy, but Daniel was so much more. And what he'd just said, a year since she'd finally realized after three months what trust meant for them, and had seized it and not regretted or turned back.
"I just—I realized that I can get carried away," Daniel continued, fingers rubbing circles on the thin strip of bare skin between Vala's green robe and those annoying BDU t-shirt and pants. "I get lost in things. I lose track. Then suddenly it's been seven years and I realize I never decided what my timeline was going to be, and time doesn't stop at any point no matter how much I forget about it. This," he said, waving his free hand at the little mashed potato and pea and carrot cake, "is to make sure that I count each year."
"So serious for such innocent food," Vala commented, but not loudly. It wasn't even a proper deflecting technique, because she didn't want him to stop. This focus, this commitment, was scarier than being stuck on this ship, but the kind of scary that made her heart race and made her feel more alive than dead. Humor alone couldn't rescue you from a life of feeling dead. Swallowing a slight lump in her throat, she noticed Daniel looking up into her face, and she turned in his arms to face him. "But Daniel, food? Is that a traditional first-year anniversary gift?"
He grinned at her, his whole face alight. "We don't have Google here, so I could tell you anything about that..."
Vala's heart raced with more than just the thrill of all this. Laughing under her breath, unable to stop smiling, she leaned in. Her hair was pulled back so it couldn't curtain them off, but she didn't care. She kissed him soundly, her lips teasing at his and teeth gently pulling.
His hands wound up her back, under her shirt, sending tingly shivers all through her. With her eyes closed, there was just them and their anniversary, and it was a moment of connection that was more blissful than she could ever explain to him. Then when his one hand tangled in her hair, caressing at the skin behind her ear, she lost track of all thoughts and opened her mouth, feeling ready to melt into him.
"We had rules, guys!"
Sam's voice led the other three, dragging the perfect isolation out of their moment. Vala groaned a little against Daniel's mouth, and his hand squeezed her hip before he pulled back, sighing once he'd taken a breath, adjusting his glasses and staring over them at his companions. "Seriously? After all the times I had to watch you all? Don't try to look innocent, Teal'c, the world didn't just vanish when you and Ish'ta said farewell on the gate ramp."
Vala, feeling her hair delightfully mussed, gave a quick grin at how swiftly they seemed to look embarrassed. She waved her fingers just slightly at Sam's face, watching it color even more before putting her hand to Daniel's face and turning it back towards her. "There's a whole ship, they can leave if they want," she said. "And damn the rules."
"In general, I like rules," Daniel said, tilting his head a little, as they both heard Mitchell sigh in their periphery. "But you know, half of what Cam says is just made up on the spot anyways, so in this case..."
"Oh really," Vala purred, eyes sneaking a peak at their pesky team leader without her moving her head. "Then there are a thousand earths he can't stand on for this argument."
"Grounds," Daniel whispered in slight correction, even as his eyes hooded and he leaned back in towards her.
Vala smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck, devouring his mouth to seal this anniversary dinner. Like Daniel, she had no intention of letting years pass by unnoticed; this was her new life, and it was all she had, and she wasn't wasting a second.