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STARGATE FANFIC "Counting the Steps Back to Safe" 2/3 rated PG-13, Daniel/Vala

TITLE: Counting the Steps Back to Safe, Chapter 2/3 "Even When We're Unknowing"
AUTHOR: campylobacter
BETA READER: oceania
RATING: PG-13/Teens
WARNING: no pr0nz :(
CATEGORY: angst, UST; missing scene
WORD COUNT: 1306
CHARACTERS: Vala Mal Doran, Daniel Jackson, Cameron Mitchell, Samantha Carter, Teal'c
SPOILERS/TIMELINE: Memento Mori missing scene
PROMPTS: for natalia5345 via the dv_exchange 2011 Fruitcake Exchange "Perfume & Promises" by Idina Menzel & "I'm pretty open to anything (especially anything angst!)"
SUMMARY/PREMISE: "I may not remember everything right now, but I do remember how I felt about you."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is a pinch-hit fill, so I didn't have time to include all 4 song prompts.


Chapter 2 "Even When We're Unknowing"

He opens his eyes and breathes in the scent of her hair.

The first time she shook in his arms like this, she was inhabiting Sallis's reborn body, and smelled of the most horrifying smoke he'd ever inhaled. The second time, she'd been trying to stand on the deck of the Odyssey after taking an Ori staff blast meant for him, and smelled of afterbirth and scorched silk. This time, she feels more fragile despite being less injured, the aroma of grilled onions and packaged Choco Waffle on her a comforting contrast to the gunpowder and zat fire hanging in the air.

"Uh, Jackson, we might wanna leave before the press gets here." Mitchell gestures an "all clear" at a couple of SWAT operatives entering the building to do a final sweep.

He can't let her go yet.

"Indeed; the reports we heard on the radio about an 'armed and dangerous ninja waitress' will attract more media attention."

She turns in his arms and looks at the one who'd uttered those words. "You're Teal'c. It means 'strength'," she murmurs, then looks at Sam. "And you're Colonel Carter – the real one, not the one who arrested me."

"Hi Vala." Sam smiles warmly. Suddenly Vala launches herself from his arms to tackle-hug her. Before Sam can fully return the hug after catching her balance, Vala flings herself at Teal'c, who solidly catches her without flinching.

Mitchell's face breaks into a jubilant grin as he rubs her back. "C'mon, let's get you home, Ninja Waitress."

She's steadier on her feet as they make their way to where the black SUV is parked, walking as close to Daniel as possible. He tentatively drapes an arm across her back as the rest of the team goes forward to pile in the car; she leans into his side.

"I, I can't," she whispers, closing her eyes, shaking her head as though shaking off a flashback. "The last time I got in with..." The red scrape along her jawline, the handcuff gouges on her wrists speak more loudly than her protests.

Before Daniel can reassure her, Mitchell turns up the radio and leans out of the front passenger's side window. "Hey, Black Eyed Peas, Vala. Your favorite." He bobs his head to my hump, my hump my hump my hump, my lovely lady lumps.

She blinks, distracted from whatever haunts her. Sam grins and beckons to her from the back seat while waving a cardboard pine tree air freshener at Teal'c, in the driver's seat.

Daniel rolls his eyes. "I don't blame you; we can be an intimidating strike team. Sort of."

Vala's troubled frown vanishes; she lets out a short laugh and steps in, covering her nose.

He follows her in, but after two weeks of doing everything he could to get her back, he's not sure he can do everything he can to get back to where they left off. Her hand grazes his thigh as she fishes around for the seat belt – a light, inadvertent touch by a delicate, injured wrist that sends a not-so-delicate shiver through him.

"Please turn that off and turn on the police scanner," Sam says, leaning forward to tap Mitchell's shoulder while Teal'c adjusts his seat and the rear view mirror. Vala fumbles for her seat belt buckle, grabbing Sam's instead.

Daniel reaches over to help Vala click the correct buckle, and is relieved that she doesn't shrink from the close contact. Instead, she seems relieved by his nearness, and leans against him as he buckles himself in.

As Teal'c maneuvers the SUV between armored trucks and squad cars parked haphazardly around the warehouse, Sam settles in her seat and reads Vala's t-shirt. "Sol's Diner, specialty sandwiches, fresh, delicious?"

Vala looks down at her chest. "I had to pay for my Blue Plate Special somehow."

"How'd you get a job without a valid Social Security Number or proof of citizenship?" Daniel asks, unsure if he should ignore her assumption of intimacy, or guide her in relearning work-appropriate personal space. He moves away the arm she's leaning on and rests it on the seat behind her.

"I, I told Sal I could beat a mean rhythm on bread dough, but he insisted he needed more help waiting tables." She interprets his motion as an invitation to snuggle into his side. "Remember when you came home after you'd joined the military? And I was making bread?" She looks up at him wistfully. "How could I have forgotten you, Daniel?" She reaches up to stroke his cheek. "All the swooning maidens envied me for marrying the handsomest bachelor in the village," she teases and tweaks his nose playfully.

Something inside his chest tightens as his stomach sinks. Microseconds stretch into minutes, sudden panic magnifying each sight, sound, touch: the warmth and weight of her body against his, the background din of staticky chatter on the scanner, Sam's wide-eyed look of surprise, Teal'c's unguarded glance of alarm in the rear view mirror, Mitchell's uneasy throat clearing.

Vala lets out a sad chuckle. "You never bargained on hunting down a runaway wife, did you?" She suddenly winces, bringing up a hand to rub her temples. "Does anyone have an ibuprofen? My head's a throbbing, wonko mess."

Sam immediately pats her jacket pockets, then swats Mitchell, already fumbling in the glove compartment for a first aid kit.

"Uhh, you're... you're just tired and confused," Daniel flounders. "You'll feel better after you've had some rest." He awkwardly pats her shoulder, uncertain if comforting her physically — as a husband would — will fuel her delusion.

"Vala, you coulda taken a mighty bump upside the head when that car overturned with you in it, so no drugs until the doc okays it." Mitchell's eyes meet his in for a brief, significant moment. "I know exactly what it's like, not being able to trust your own memory."

Daniel recalls all the times his own mind had been altered or tampered with, how the sudden or gradual rediscovery of his very identity felt like being reborn, to varying degrees, as his memories returned. Mitchell's ordeal with false memory implantation was just one among many times SG-1 had to trust instinct over experience to overcome the odds.

"I may not remember everything right now, but I do remember how I felt about you." Vala trails her finger along Daniel's thigh, and the forbidden sensation overwhelms him with the intensity of temptations he'd fought for years. "How I feel about you. All of you." She looks at Teal'c, Mitchell, Sam. Daniel swallows hard as she continues. "If I focus on the love, more memories fall into place."

Sam takes her hand. "Once you get back to the SGC," she soothes her, "I'm sure you'll remember it all."

Yes," Daniel blurts, "and Dr. Fraiser will che— Lam. I mean Dr. Lam. Will do a full checkup."

Too late, he can't take back Janet's name, nor the way Teal'c grips the steering wheel harder, nor the way Sam turns her face to the window as though taking interest in the passing scenery.

"Daniel Jackson, you have been sleep deprived for two weeks and also require rest." Teal'c's implicit message both excuses his gaffe and cautions against speaking further.

Vala yawns and nestles herself closer to Daniel. He looks at the others, self-conscious of being conscripted into a duty he hasn't served for seven years, but their eyes are full of concern for Vala. He suddenly remembers that Kasuf and Sha're had done the same thing to him ten years ago: making him a husband against his consent, but not, as it turned out, against his fondest wish.

They all spend the rest of the ride in silence, the police scanner's intermittent rasps a dull distraction from resurfacing memories too painful to remember, but too cherished to forget.


"Perfume & Promises"
by Idina Menzel
A crack in the smile
But she's always in style while she waits
Waving goodbye but she's too tired to cry and she's wasted
A letter he wrote
But it's far too exposed so he throws it away
The sound of regret as it's counting the steps back to safe

I don't want to leave you with perfume and promises
But we'll never know 'till we capture and bottle it
'Cause wouldn't it be such a shame
If all was wasted

Not an inch of the room
That isn't in bloom or in light
So we drink till its dawn
Every drip till it's gone and we're wasted
It's a thing of the truth
But we'll lie and we'll look for the perfect escape
And the moment will go like melted snow in the rain

I don't want to leave you with perfume and promises
But we'll never know 'till we capture and bottle it
Cause wouldn't it be such a shame
If all was wasted

Stay for another morning
Study the curves on my face
Stay even when we're unknowing
Stay till they tear you away

I don't want to leave you with perfume and promises
But we'll never know till we capture and bottle it
Cause wouldn't it be such a shame
If all was wasted



Read Chapter 1 "Capture & Bottle It"
Read Chapter 3 "They Tear You Away"
Tags: *daniel/vala, *fanfic, daniel jackson, stargate sg-1, vala mal doran
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