Title: A Matter of Trust
Season: Ten (early)
Category: Vignette, UST
Summary: Vala learns trust isn't easily acquired.
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
She slid her hands down the length of his chest, smiling as her touch elicited a soft moan from his lips. Feeling encouraged, she slipped her hand down lower, toying with his belt before shifting to blow gently at his ear.
"Was it as good for you as it was for me?"
Daniel's eyes snapped open. Before Vala could react, he pushed her away, scrambling to untangle himself from both her and his sleeping bag.
"We each have our own for a reason," he mumbled.
"But it's so impractical. Think about it," she said, grabbing a handful of material and consequently drawing Daniel closer. "If we shared one, we wouldn't need to lug all of these supplies.
"Or you wouldn't have to lug your supplies."
She shrugged. "Either way works for me."
"Not me." He pointed to her sack. "Yours."
Vala sighed and flopped onto her back, staring at the interior of the tent. "Honestly, Daniel. You have no sense of humor."
With an aggravated sigh, he shook his head and started to tug at the sleeping bag, only to stop and frown. "What's that around your neck?"
She glanced down at her neck and fingered the delicate chain and clasp that held a small crystal. "This old thing? Been in the family for years."
"What?" When his scowl refused to disappear, she sighed. "I borrowed it."
"You mean you stole it."
"Borrow. Steal." She turned on her side. "Is there a difference?"
"You stole it. From me."
Vala couldn't help but smile. Whenever Daniel was angry, his face never failed to pucker into a mess of fine lines and deep fissures, which only brought more attention to his mouth. He never realized how his lips puffed out when he was upset.
Her smile widened. "And just what are you doing buying jewelry?"
Daniel's cheeks puffed with indignation. "None of your business."
"Well, I should certainly think it is my business," she said. "I never knew you that you had a jewelry fetish. Do the others know?"
"What do you think they will say when I show them?"
Daniel lunged at her. In such a confined space, neither one of them had much room to move or defend against attack. Therefore, beating him into submission wasn't an option, and she could do so without the rest of his gang coming in for the rescue. And yet, she's grown rather fond of this game, unable to let go just yet.
Vala unclasped the necklace and let it drop between her breasts.
Daniel gaped at her.
"You're free to come and take it," she said with a smile.
To Vala's surprise, Daniel didn't reply at all. The anger vanished from his face, replaced by sorrow – even disappointment – encapsulated in his deep frown. Then, he turned away from her completely, sliding back into his sleeping bag.
"Well, you're no fun."
"Keep it," came his muffled voice.
"Keep it. Just take it."
Now, Vala frowned, feeling a growing unease with his sudden change in mood. The two of them had been playing this game for months now. Surely, he knew she didn't mean anything by it. She knew that he didn't. It was all just part of the fun.
"I can't just take it if you're going to give it to me," she said. Vala bit her lip, shoving her hand down her shirt as she fumbled for the necklace. She grinned as she retrieved it. "Here," she said, thrusting it towards Daniel. "Good as new."
Daniel remained motionless within the confines of the bag.
Vala rolled her eyes. "And people call me childish." She slipped in beside Daniel, reaching over to dangle the necklace in front of him. "You can at least tell me who was the lucky lady."
Daniel turned and finally faced her. "She was you."
"Me?" Vala frowned again and lowered her arms. "Was?"
He offered her a sad, regrettable smile. "I know you've been struggling to fit in and put aside your old ways. I just thought..." He glanced at the necklace in her hand. "It's not important. Never mind."
Vala found herself speechless as she watched Daniel turn away from her again. There was an uncomfortable burning sensation spreading through her cheeks.
She did not like to feel uncomfortable.
After taking another longing look at the necklace, Vala reached over Daniel's shoulder and dropped the chain into his open palm. "Here. Give it to someone more worthy."
With that, she flopped onto her back, finding herself staring at the interior of the tent yet again. For the longest time, she remained motionless, only listening to her own breathing and heartbeat as they punctured the silence. She tried not to dwell on her anger – anger aimed at herself – or to acknowledge the disappointment she'd read in Daniel's eyes.
Tomin had made her soft. Earth had made her soft.
Daniel had made her soft.
The time ticked on. Slow, fast – she didn't know. What she did know is that the silence was killing her, the heavy weight of expectations and desires confining her in this makeshift prison. If she didn't leave, she would go mad.
But before she could free herself from her own pressures, she heard Daniel shift beside her, his body heat washing over her skin as he moved into her personal space. Vala gazed past him, pretending not to watch as he brushed back her hair and slipped the chain around her neck, clasping it with a quick pinch of his fingers. He held the crystal suspended over her neck, long enough for Vala to catch the affection in his eyes, but brief enough for her to wonder if she'd imagined it. Then, he let the crystal fall through his fingers before he brought his hands to his side.
Vala reached down and traced her fingers over the chain. "Why?" she asked with a frown.
"It's okay," he said softly. "I know you're trying."
"Just not hard enough," she said, knowing the answer.
Daniel didn't reply. He pulled away from her and turned onto his back, his gaze fixed somewhere above him. Vala settled in beside him and rested her head on his shoulder.
The two didn't say anything for the rest of the night. Vala kept quiet as she thoughtfully stroked the crystal. She wondered just when she had changed. She wondered if it had been instantaneous or if it had been gradual. She wondered if this is what she'd been searching for all along.
And she wondered when gaining someone's trust and affection had become her strongest desire, outweighing any treasure she'd ever coveted.