Title: Knight in Shining Armor
Pairings: Vala/Daniel, light Sam/Jack, implied Sheppard/Weir and Teyla/Ronon
Captain Carter settled into her chair and glanced to the right. A dark haired man turned from his paper and looked back at her.
“Are you still here, Detective?” Carter asked.
“Yep,” the man answered as he sipped at his coffee. “Until the arsonist, or ists, are caught, the department wants me to stay right here so I can be on the crime scene as quickly as possible. And so I stay here at this nice fire department instead of doing actual work. Unless there’s a fire. In which case I get to ride on a fire truck.”
“And that also involves eating our food?” Murray asked, placing his cup down on the table.
“For now,” Cameron said.
“Oh lay off the detective,” O’Neill said as he took a seat. “It could be much worse, believe me.” He reached for the pot of coffee and refilled his mug. “Remember Detective Simmons?”
Before anyone could respond, a voice rang out through the fire hall.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow fire fighters, if I could direct your attention over here for just a moment?”
Everyone looked up to see Jonas standing by the kitchen door. He was grinning broadly and holding something behind his back. “You all remember what our latest probie looked like when he came to us, don’t you?” He revealed a picture from behind him of a well built, attractive, but wild looking man. His dreadlocked hair reached all the way down his face, almost brushing the goatee he wore.
Jonas stepped to the side and held the picture up above him and motioned towards the door. “Come on out,” he said.
A loud sigh could be heard from the kitchen. “Do I have to?”
Jonas nodded emphatically.
“…Is that an order?”
“Yes, step out.”
An enormously tall man stepped out from the kitchen, his face hidden by the picture. He had a pink apron emblazoned with the words “New Guy” and a small teddy bear fire fighter by the right strap. And he was evidently very unhappy about it. He turned towards the table so that his body matched up with the photograph.
“And now, today, we see the new Ronon Dex!” Jonas dropped the picture. Gone was the beard. Gone were the dreadlocks. In its place, a clean cut, dark skinned man.
Carter raised an eyebrow while she sipped at her tea.
Ronon frowned as he raised a red fire bell he had attached to a string. He started to hit it with a drumstick.
Jonas shook his head. “C’mon, put some feeling in it!”
Those sitting at the table looked back to their coffee while Jonas lectured the probie in how to properly signal it was breakfast time.
O’Neill started spooning sugar into his coffee when he suddenly looked up and pointed his spoon at Carter. “Tonight,” he said.
“Tonight. Daniel asked us to come with him when he had dinner with that art dealer.”
Carter raised an eyebrow. “Yes, he did. Has something come up?”
Jack lowered his spoon into his coffee and started stirring. “No, just confirming that we, in fact, having dinner.”
“You forgot, didn’t you O’Neill?” Murray asked.
“I did not forget,” Jack said, setting his mug on the table as hard as he dared without it spilling over.
Jonas came over to the table and pulled up a seat as the probies, lead by Ronon. The probies started to set the table. Jonas reached for the coffee pot and started to fill his own mug. “Oh, chief,” he said, taking a sip at his coffee before pulling a face. “Don’t forget you’ve got dinner tonight with Dr. Jackson. And before you even ask, I had the probie wash your suit.”
Everyone turned to O’Neill, who took a long drink of coffee. “Mmm, good coffee,” he said. “Cinnamon?”
“So who’s the girl?” Dr. Frasier asked.
“She’s just an art dealer,” Daniel responded as he stared at the menu and frowned. “I’m meeting her to finalize a large purchase.”
“Another knick-kack for your living room, Daniel?” Carson asked. “Don’t you think you’ve got enough?”
“It’s not just a knick-knack. It’s a very old and important piece of Egyptian history and it would have meant a lot to my parents if I was able to acquire it.”
“You still haven’t explained to us why this requires you to have dinner with her,” Janet pointed out.
Daniel stared intensely at the menu.
“Or why you asked your friends to come with you,” Carson added.
“Or why you haven’t finished this after meeting with her twice before.”
“Look, I know what you’re both trying to suggest. I have absolutely no romantic interest in her. She’s possibly the most annoying person I’ve ever had to deal with in my entire life.”
“For a psychologist, that’s saying something,” Janet said.
“Exactly!” Daniel responded. “If it’s taking so long for this to finish, it’s because she keeps stringing the thing along. I thought maybe if I brought someone with me I could better corner her into getting to the point.”
Janet and Caron nodded knowingly.
They sat for a while, waiting to be served. Daniel idly watched a Priory of the Eternal Flame member passing out leaflets to passerby.
“You still haven’t told us her name,” Carson said.
O’Neill glanced at his watch. Before he could say anything, Daniel held up a hand. “I know. I know. This isn’t the first time.”
As if on cue, a dark-haired woman in a black dress slid between two of the tables and approached them. “Now there’s my Daniel,” she said as she got closer, opening her arms.
Daniel, sighed, stood up, and hugged her with apparent reluctance.
Carter gave O’Neill a sideways glance. O’Neill’s eyebrows darted up slightly as he looked back at her.
Daniel Jackson broke out of the hug and turned to the table. He cleared his throat. “Vala, these are Fire Commissioner Jack O’Neill and Captain Samantha Carter. Sam, Jack, this is Vala Maldouran.”
“You’re fire fighters? How fascinating! Putting your life on the line every day!” Vala said as she took a seat.
O’Neill signaled to a waiter. “Excuse me, but we’re finally ready to eat.”
“Look, the point of such pieces is their historical importance. I don’t care if you think you can get me it, it belongs in a museum,” Daniel said pointing at Vala with his steak knife.
“Oh come on, what’s the point of having unearthed these great pieces of beauty if no one appreciates them?”
“People do appreciate them. In the museum.”
“Oh come on, no one appreciates anything in a museum. People go to museums so that the feel bored while at the same time giving the appearance that they’re intelligent and cultured.”
“That is not true! Sam, Jack, back me up on this one.”
O’Neill took a moment to swallow his mouthful of steak. “Sorry Daniel, I agree with Vala. Museums are boring.” He started to cut another piece of food. “I mean, you may have noticed that I’ve never gone with you to one?”
“What about the museum of natural science?” Carter asked.
“How, exactly?” Daniel asked.
“Well, it’s science. Plus, I go to those with Sam. Not you.”
Daniel handed the check to Vala, who folded it up and put it in her purse. “There, that’s taken care of,” he said.
“Yes, it’s so nice to have that out of the way.” She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek.
“Yes, well. Now that that’s over, good-”
Carter and O’Neill had come out of the restaurant in time to see Vala kiss Daniel. They had elected to wait, however, to make their presence known.
“Do you want to come back with us and have a drink at the firehouse?” Carter asked suddenly, interrupting Daniel.
Two voices answered at once.
“Do you not see it?” Zelenka asked, pointing at the television.
Rodney McKay stared hard at the TV, then turned to Detective Mitchell. Back to the TV, then to Mitchell. TV. Mitchell.
“You’re clearly out of your mind. And I don’t really care what the rest of you say, he doesn’t look anything like Cameron!”
The probie had invited his current girlfriend to the Firehouse. She had, in turn, invited one or two of her friends. One of her friends invited her boyfriend, who invited a couple of his friends.
And as a result, a sizable number of people were crowding around a TV in the Firehouse.
Sheppard turned to the Detective. “Well, I see it, at least.”
Cameron considered the character on the TV screen. “Well, I have to agree that the actor is devilishly handsome. There’s definitely a resemblance there.”
McKay leaned back in the couch and crossed his arms. “I still think you are all insane.”
“The feeling is mutual,” Zelenka said under his breath.
“I think his girlfriend looks like me,” Vala said as she sipped at a beer. “What do you think, Daniel?”
“I think I’m going to get another drink,” Daniel replied as he stood up. He left the room.
Vala glanced over to the other side of the couch at Sheppard and Weir. “Was it something I said?”
Daniel stepped into the kitchen and leaned on the counter. He looked up to see Jonas Quinn chopping onions. “Don’t you usually make the probies cook?” he asked.
“Yeah, but the new ones can’t cook at all,” he dumped the onions into a mixing bowl. “Plus, no one can beat my salsa.” He winked at Daniel. “Secret family recipe.”
“Ah, need help?”
“Sure, grab some peppers and start cutting.”
“So,” Jonas said as he dug through the spice rack. “How is it going with that woman, the art dealer?”
“Nothing is going with her. After tonight I never have to see her again.”
Jonas looked up quizzically. “You’re not? I thought… Why did you drive her here then?”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “She doesn’t have a car and needed a ride here.”
“Couldn’t she have ridden with the Captain and the Chief?”
“I didn’t want to burden them with her presence.”
“Oh. That’s generous of you.”
The cut vegetables in silence for a while.
“It’s just that, well, from what the Chief said, it doesn’t sound like you’re trying to resist her advances very-”
Jonas was interrupted as Daniel slammed the knife down hard, burying the blade part way in the chopping board.
Jonas’ mouth dropped open. “I’m sorry Dr. Jackson, did I say something wrong?”
Daniel closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down. “No, no. I just wish people would stop talking about us as if we were already dating!”
“We’re not saying anything like that,” Carter said as she stepped into the room and helped herself to an apple.
“We’re more or less confiding ourselves to giving each other significant glances and snickering behind your back,” O’Neill said as he followed Carter into the kitchen. He looked down at the knife embedded in the board and gave it a tug. “Remind me to talk to Murray or the probie about getting this thing out of here.”
Daniel leaned forward onto the counter and rested his head in his hands. “This is turning into some kind of nightmare,” he said.
“Maybe it’s just your perception of it. If you look at it in a different way, you might enjoy it,” Carter said.
“Sam, I’m a clinical psychologist. Please don’t try to talk to me about my perception or mental state. This really is a nightmare.”
“A nightmare? I never really thought of myself like that. Wet dream, maybe. But not a nightmare.”
Daniel looked up to see Vala leaning against the doorjam. He stood up, walked over to her, and put his hands on her shoulders. “We aren’t dating. We aren’t friends. We don’t need to see each other again. Money was exchanged, the statue will be shipped to my house. Please, stop coming on to me, stop calling me, and stop being in my life.” He turned and strode out of the firehouse.
Vala stared after him for a moment, then turned to the kitchen. “I’m confused,” she said.
They were silent for a moment when Jonas’ eyes widened. “Sir?”
“Yes?” Carter and O’Neill answered at the same time.
“It’s the fourteenth.”
“Damn it!” Jack swore as he looked down at his watch. “It is.”
Carter looked down at the floor for a moment and then looked up at Vala. “Head to the cemetery. Third row in, fourth grave from the center. He’ll be there.”
“I don’t see how I’m supposed to get there. I don’t have a car.”
O’Neill glanced at Carter. “Who has a car and hasn’t been drinking?” he asked.
O’Neill nodded at Vala. “There’s your answer then.”
Cameron pulled the car to a stop. “You want me to come along?” he asked.
“No,” Vala responded. “Just stay here for now. I’m hoping that I won’t need a ride back.” She opened the door and stepped out, wrapping her coat around her tightly.
She never really liked graveyards at night. Well, she had never really liked graveyards in general, but she particularly didn’t like them at night. Something about being with the dead made her want to go out and do something to remind her that she was alive.
Third row back and four from the center…
And there he was, in his long brown overcoat, staring at down at a gravestone. She crept up behind him as quietly as she could and looked down at the inscription.
“We met at a museum,” he said suddenly.
Vala remained silent and listened.
“She was leading a group of students around and was showing them an exhibit of the coffins of the pharaohs. I corrected her on how long Ramses II reigned in Egypt. She asked me exactly what my credentials were, and when I told her that I was a psychiatrist, she informed me that she had a doctorate in archaeology, so who was the more likely to be right?” He smiled at the memory. “The argument got worse from there.”
“How did she die?”
“Cancer. Untreatable. Three floors from my office.” He shook his head. “After about a year, Jack started trying to set me up with girls. Said I had to move on. I went through a string of them. The last one I broke up with went so badly she’s somewhere in Europe now.” He raised his eyebrows in a gesture of resignation. “Physician, heal thyself, I suppose.”
Vala put her hand up on Daniel’s back and rubbed it gently. “Daniel, I’m sorry…”
Daniel shook his head. “It’s alright. You didn’t know. And for what it’s worth, I didn’t mean everything I said. It’s just… I had kind of resigned myself to the idea that there would be no one else after Shar’e. The idea of even trying is an unpleasant one.”
“Well, if you don’t mind an untrained layperson saying so, I think it’s bloody well time you got used to the idea of trying. I mean, it’s insulting to her even.” She slipped into a parody of Daniel’s voice “‘I loved you so much that I’m just going to be miserable and grouchy because not even the memories of you make me happy’? What kind of way to mourn is that?”
Daniel turned to her and opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. “You are very different from the girls I’ve been dating since she died.” he finally said.
Vala rolled her eyes. “I should bloody well hope so. I think the fact that I haven’t been scared off by your little graveside chat says a lot. Anyway, if you are prepared to accept our little meetings as dates, this is third one.”
Daniel looked off to the side, then back at her. “Aaaand?”
“Third date rule? No? Never heard of it? Somehow I’m not surprised.” Vala crossed her arms. “At the end of the third date, you either kiss me or give me the ‘friends’ talk. Or not friends, whatever you prefer. Since you didn’t mean anything you said at the fire house…?”
Daniel sighed and looked into her eyes for a while. Finally, he reached a hand out to her sighed and leaned in.
“In a graveyard? Have you all no shame at all?”
Daniel straightened up and looked behind him. A short, older man in a suit was standing there, smoking a cigarette. He had a cross enveloped in fire hanging around his neck.
The symbol of the Priory of the Eternal Flame.
“There is still hope for you,” he said, stepping forward. “Salvation lies within the cleansing fires. You only have to accept it.”
Daniel sighed. “If we’re disturbing you while you visit someone, we’ll move. But is the moralizing really necessary?”
“Daniel?” Vala said as she peered out into the darkness that surrounded them. “I don’t think he was just moralizing.” She started digging into her purse.
Daniel looked around as more and more people crept out of the shadows. Men, women, young, old, poor, rich. All of them in masks. All of them with burning cross necklaces.
“Of course, if you do not repent, the cleansing fires will burn you to your core,” the man with the cigarette said.
One of the Priory members in masks took another step closer to Vala, who pulled a taser out of her purse and pulled the trigger. The wires shot out and connected to the man, who convulsed and fell backwards.
No one moved for a moment.
Then the priory members rushed them. Daniel vaguely remembered grabbing Vala and pulling her in close to him.
The sound of two boards hitting together. The cultists all stopped as a voice rang out though the darkness.
The cultists all turned to see Cameron Mitchell striding through the graveyard, gun raised. A few moment calculation and they all turned and ran. The man smoking the cigarette was nowhere to be found.
Cameron ran over to the gravestone to find Daniel and Vala resting against it. He reached his hands out to help them up. “You two alright?”
Vala nodded while Daniel managed to choke a “Fine, we’re fine.”
Vala looked down at Cameron’s glock. “Do you always carry your gun around with you.”
Cameron glanced down at it and looked back up at the two of them. He shrugged. “Call me paranoid.” He glanced around. “Listen, I’m going to call for backup and have a quick look around. You two going to be fine by yourselves?”
“Good, if anything happens, just yell.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out flashlight and slid into a custom groove on his gun. He flicked it on, reached into his other pocket, and pulled out a cell phone. As he crept out into the darkness, Daniel and Vala could already hear him talking.
Daniel glanced at Vala and they both slid back against the grave to the ground.
“I hope you didn’t have any ‘knight in shining armor’ fantasies.”
Vala laughed and put her arm around Daniel’s shoulder. “Knights are too stuffy anyway.” She leaned in close to him. “Now, I believe we were in the middle of something…”