Pairing: John Sheppard/Vala Mal Doran (past John Sheppard/Cam Mitchell)
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Stargate characters, and make no profit.
Author's Notes: SG1/SGA crossover
Summary: Rodney had extorted a promise from John to not get recruited into SG-1 while he was on temporary re-assignment to the SGC. As John finished reciting his marriage vows from the crib-sheet Mitchell had handed him, he suspected Rodney would never let him live this down.
But you you're a rock with a heart like a socket I can plug into at will
And will you guess when I come around next?
I hope your open sign is blinking still
So marry me, John
Marry me, John I'll be so good to you
You won't realize I'm gone
Marry Me ? St. Vincent
Rodney had extorted a promise from John to not get recruited into SG-1 while he was on temporary re-assignment to the SGC. As John finished reciting his marriage vows from the crib-sheet Mitchell had handed him, he suspected Rodney would never let him live this down.
"There," Vala said, nodding decisively after the priestess pronounced them two halves made whole by the power of Origin. "Now we're allowed to enter the sacred warehouse of very old things?"
John could tell that Vala's sweetly compliant tone and look of wide-eyed innocence was just a front for annoyed impatience, and he assumed the priestess did, too. She raised both her eyebrows ? or, she would have, if they hadn't been shaved off ? and bestowed Vala with a gentle smile. "No," she explained with the same patience she'd been using on Vala all along. John thought it sounded condescending, but he was biased. His aunts and grandmother had always talked to him like that when he was a kid. "First you must spend your first night of marriage in the srzea."
Vala's face brightened. "A very large bed?"
The priestess' kindly expression didn't change. John gave her points for that. "A meditation hall."
"Fabulous," Vala said, and gave Mitchell a high-wattage grin. Mitchell looked pained and shifted closer to Teal'c. "Meditation."
"Indeed," Teal'c said. Like Mitchell, he was wearing one of the symbolic flower wreaths that John had had to present to his wedding witnesses. With no hair to anchor it, the wreath had slowly settled itself over Teal'c's left ear. "I have always found meditation makes me more aware of my own thoughts and desires. Do you not find it so, John Sheppard?"
John had the distinct impression that Teal'c was laughing at him. "I always felt closer to a higher plane, myself."
"The mile-high club," Mitchell agreed, and yeah, SG1 definitely thought this was hilarious. John was going to be dogged by jokes for years.
Vala pulled her hand out of John's and crossed her arms. "Do we at least get a cake?" She tipped her head at John. "On his home world, a marriage isn't official without cake."
The priestess waved her hand, inviting them to follow her. The crowd of onlookers parted to make way. John felt like an idiot as he trailed after Vala. He wished he hadn't had to hand over his weapons to Mitchell before the ceremony. The relying-on-the-kindness-of-strangers thing rarely worked out for him. "There will be a festive breaking of the fast at dawn."
Vala's shoulders slumped. She looked even more dejected when the priestess led hem into the srzea, which was a cabin just big enough for a dozen wooden benches, an altar covered with offerings, and a dirty brazier that didn't give much warmth.
Vala put her hands together and said something about enlightenment and not straying from the one true path, and went to sprinkle incense in the brazier. John coughed on the smoke, and the priestess left, giving him a look of stern disapproval.
"On the very devout planets they used to torture people to death for not being good at Origin," Vala said, and dropped down onto one of the benches, sticking her legs out and stretching her arms over her head. "But I learn quickly; that only happened to me a couple of times. My first husband of convenience," she added, and rolled her head to the side to give John a conspiratorial look, "is involved with the Reform movement. He taught me," she waved a hand, "stuff."
John lay down on a bench that turned out to be even more uncomfortable than it looked, with knots that dug into his back. "So you do this a lot."
Vala made a non-committal noise. "They didn't have the rule about only letting the righteously married into the treasure hall the last time I was here. Or I don't think they did. I didn't exactly ask for permission. Probably a good decision, don't you think?"
John closed his eyes. He wished the gene therapy had worked on Mitchell, or that the SGC didn't have a policy of not giving aliens the ATA gene. He doubted the artifact Vala claimed to have seen on this backwater planet was a viable ZPM, but part of him clung to the hope that this might be his ticket back home.
Atlantis had been stuck on Earth for almost half a year already, and John was going a little crazy wondering what the Wraith were up to. He was spending most of his time at the SGC, toeing every line, catching up with seminars and courses, saying yes, ma'am and no, sir to all the people whose disapproval could affect his future, keeping his hair short and his boots polished. Which had led to General Landry asking John to join SG1 for this mission. John'd always hated that saying about thinking of England, because what it implied was disgusting, and because he would and he did. And now here he was, married in the eyes of the Ori and SG1.
He'd heard things about Vala, mostly from Mitchell. But Mitchell was not always fair, John knew.
"I have videos on my cell phone," Vala said. "Don't go to sleep, I'll expire of boredom. I have Shaun the Sheep. Do you know what a sheep is?"
John turned his head to see if Vala was serious. She apparently took this for enthusiasm, because she got up and insinuated herself onto John's bench, holding the tiny screen angled so they could both see.
"It's very clever," Vala insisted, leaning on John as if he were an unsatisfactory bolster. "And I'll explain any jokes you don't get. I used to have porn, but Sam deleted it. It was boring, anyway. Look, that's the farmer."
John fell asleep sometime in the second hour of cartoon sheep, and woke up with Vala lying on top of him, one hand holding tight to his jacket to keep from rolling onto the floor. As wedding nights went, he figured it could have been worse, even though his back felt bruised and his arm was numb from the weight of Vala's head.
John amused himself by mentally composing e-mails to Rodney and his brother, choosing his words carefully to generate maximum outrage and irritation. He suspected that both Dave and Rodney would find the same things offensive, which was kind of weird. John didn't think of them as having much in common.
Then Vala woke herself up by rolling to the side and falling to the floor, and John found himself having to apologize for not catching her.
"Whatever," Vala dismissed, as John rubbed feeling back into his arm. She rolled to her feet and went to throw more incense on the coals, catching some of the smoke with her hands and running her fingers through her hair before pulling it into two braids. When she was done, she half-turned to give John an impatient look. "Don't you know anything about Origin?" She gestured impatiently for John to do the same thing with the incense.
By the time the priestess returned to collect them for the nuptial breakfast, John knew how to fake the minimal level of piety necessary to not seem too weird.
"Today also," John greeted Mitchell, who looked tired and possibly hung over and really unsure about the greenish scrambled eggs on his plate, "may we be guided on the path."
Mitchell narrowed his eyes. "You're chipper and you smell like cheap air freshener. I guess things went well in the honeymoon suite?"
John shrugged. "The usual."
"Oh, I'll just bet." Mitchell made a face. "Vala's never one to turn down a chance to get laid."
John wasn't sure just who Mitchell meant to insult, but he noticed Vala very pointedly turning away to say something to Teal'c. "You're talking about my wife," he said, keeping his voice low and flat.
"Yep." Mitchell pushed his plate away and took a deep drink from his bowl of red berry juice. "No accounting for taste."
"I think I'm a catch," John said, and handed Mitchell a wooden spoon with enough gravitas to make Mitchell realize he'd way overstepped the tentative bounds of their friendship. Mitchell was blotchy when he blushed; it highlighted the circles under his eyes.
"Shit," Mitchell said, and looked at Teal'c, who offered him the pot of spices that everyone was using on their eggs. "I'm an asshole," Mitchell told Vala.
She tossed him a razor-sharp smile, and John felt displacement hit him like a wave of homesickness. He never did fit in with SG1, he reminded himself, and his team wasn't likely to forget him after a few weeks, or months. He really shouldn't get involved; that was what he'd learned the last time.
The local treasure-house was ridiculously anti-climactic. It was a long wooden building lined with shelves, Everything was free of dust and smelled like incense; most of the treasures were elegant bolts of fabric or top-quality handicrafts: elegant pottery and ritual tools and bright blue lacquered boxes and bowls. In the south-west corner, past a collection of gleaming helmets, John found the Ancient artifacts, neatly arrayed. There were three well-polished ZPMs, a basket full of dismantled life-signs detectors, and a lot of striking gold jewelry decorated with Ancient data crystals. Most of the crystals were whole, but the broken ones had been neatly mended and the cracks adorned with thin strips of gold. The lowest shelf held things which John knew were machines, sleek and elegantly designed, but he didn't have a clue what they did.
He pointed to one, though, and asked the priestess to hand it to him. She did so, reluctantly, and as soon as the metal touched John's hands it came alive.
"Ooh," Vala said, leaning over John's shoulder to watch as tiny sensors along the top opened and lights danced up and down the sides. "What's it doing?"
"It's," and John was nearly proud at how well a reasonable lie came to mind, "measuring the humidity."
Vala took a step back, probably correctly assuming that he had no idea whether it would explode or not, and made a vague sweeping gesture between the priestess and the Ancient artifacts. "As Mitchell explained, we have been looking for these relics of the Ori city. His people ? " she pointed at John ? "are willing to trade. All kinds of things. Very valuable."
"Just pray for us." The priestess gave John a dubious look. "Have your people pray that we find the strength for the journey."
"Hallowed be Origin," Vala said, very gently, and wrapped her arms around herself as if the temperature had suddenly dropped to freezing.
John invited Vala out to dinner a week after they returned to the SGC in victorious style, staggering under the weight of bulky cases that nested all the Ancient tech in shock-absorbing foam. Sam was still examining the ZPMs but rumor was that at least one was viable, and John had to field irritable calls from Rodney twice a day. But even though he was mentally already back in Atlantis and preparing to depart for Pegasus, he did notice that SG1 was having a field day with Vala's marriage. Jackson's reaction had been a heartfelt thank God and good riddance, which John worried Vala had overheard, and there were Modern Bride magazines in the lounge, photoshopped pictures of Vala on tabloid covers on the women's locker-room door, and Four Weddings and a Funeral for the Friday night video.
So John felt like they probably should talk things over, and he liked the way eating disguised awkward pauses. Plus he figured that some conversations were best kept far away from the rumor mill.
"I'll make the reservation," Vala informed him. "Casual or expensive?"
John eyed her. She tried and failed to look innocent. "Dressy."
"I can do dressy," Vala said, and winked at him before sauntering off.
John got his black suit out of storage and went to borrow a shirt from Cam. And his car.
"Hell, no," Cam said. John leaned in the door to his office and stared him down until Cam gave in and tossed his keyring on the desk. When John came to claim it, letting the door fall shut, Cam coughed and added awkwardly, "Look. If you hurt Vala, Teal'c and I will not stop Sam from making your life a living hell."
John would have felt a whole lot more unfairly wronged if he and Ronon hadn't given the exact same speech to Kanaan a couple of times. He flipped the keys up and caught them. "Did you draw the short straw?"
Cam slapped a hand over his face and puffed his cheeks out. "They have so much blackmail material on me it's not even funny anymore."
John managed not to laugh at him, but it was a near thing. "You should come to Pegasus. I've never had anyone come back from offworld in their underwear." A few years ago he'd have been terrified to even hint about wanting Cam in Atlantis; he felt relieved that he could joke about it now. "Is there something between you and Vala I should know about?"
"Besides her handcuffing me to a bed naked that one time, or the time she told my mother we were fucking like bunnies in basically those same words?"
John had heard about the first incident from Sam; she had some great stories, but sadly no really incriminating photos. "So... yeah."
Cam snorted. "So... no. But she's like the terrifying older sister I never wished I had. And despite all the ?" he circled his hand in the air, comprehensively ? "she is one of us."
"You better keep telling her that," John said, scoring a hit if Cam's wince was anything to go by. "Or maybe teams aren't that close here?"
"Don't go looking better in my clothes than I do. I might accidentally delete all those stupid football games I've got recorded." John figured that was as close as Cam was going to get to admitting that he knew he was being a dick about the whole marriage thing and was ashamed of it.
John did think that Cam was fucking with him via wardrobe when he realized his choices from Cam's locker were a pink striped polo shirt, something paisley with gold buttons, and a button-down the color of boiled beets. He hated beets, but it was the best option available.
Vala picked him up wearing a dramatic wrap dress paired with a tiny sweater and high-heel sandals. John said the polite things he was supposed to, and Vala rolled her eyes, took his arm, and tried to persuade him that Cam wouldn't mind even the littlest bit if John let her drive.
"Do you have a license?" John asked, holding the door for her.
Vala settled herself in the passenger seat with a flash of thigh that John suspected wasn't entirely accidental. "Do you?"
John had no idea where his license was, but he suspected it had expired a while back. "I've been driving since I was fifteen," he said, avoiding the question. Vala still slapped his arm and swore that she was going to tell Cam all about John's terribly unsafe driving.
Their table at the restaurant was by a window, and Vala knew all the staff by name and every item on the menu.
"We had food like this where I came from," Vala explained. "One of the places I came from. I think I still have the burn scars on my tongue. Do you want me to order for you?"
John told her to knock herself out.
They had a pleasant light conversation about weapons over soup and salad, and by the time the entrees arrived John felt as ready as ever to make a fool of himself.
"We could stay married," John said, trying to work through a tangle of confused thoughts that choked him like kudzu. "If the jokes are pissing you off."
"Mitchell has been insufferable," Vala said, carefully, as if she wanted John to believe that it didn't matter to her in the least.
John winced anyway, aware of having said the wrong thing but not sure how. "He and I, once, so he's angry at me. And he knows it's stupid, so he's pissed at himself, too."
Vala pursed her lips and leaned forward, looking up at John in the same way Rodney eyed full coffee pots. "You and Mitchell? I thought that was illegal on this planet."
"Cam said I could trust you not to say anything that would get us both fired."
Vala's eyebrows went up. "Is he good in bed?"
John snorted. "I meant once. No bed involved. We agreed it was a mistake."
Vala reached over and patted John's arm twice. "People are complicated."
"I'd have done almost anything to get Atlantis back where it belongs. But you're getting the fallout. I don't know what you want me to do."
Vala tilted her head, and then quickly raked back the hair that had fallen over her shoulder, before it could fall in her noodles. "That's one of those very big questions, isn't it, like whether there's a greater power than Origin, or do machines can have souls, or are we the sum of our memories or our acts. And I guess I'm getting old, but I used to know exactly what the universe owed me, and now...." She gestured, a twist of her hand in the air, and her hair slid down again. She pushed her plate to the side "Well. I got mixed up with these people who had ideals that they'd die for ? how was I to know that's contagious?" She looked up at John, and gave him a wide, wry smile. "I was thinking about that when we got married, actually. The last time I was on that planet I left with a small fortune in my pockets, this time I got you." She picked up her chopsticks and drew a lazy circle in the air, like a lecturer emphasizing a point. "We definitely shouldn't stay married."
John thought it was a lot nicer speech than the one he'd had from Nancy. He hoped that was because he was less of an asshole these days. "Okay," he said, and took a breath, let it out.
Vala's shoulders dipped, and she picked up a broccoli floret neatly. "But we should definitely go back to your place after dinner and have sex. Why not?" There was no good way to eat broccoli seductively, but Vala gave it a try anyway, which was probably why John said yes.
In the morning, Vala dressed from John's meager wardrobe, khaki shorts and a ripped sweatshirt, and towel-dried her hair while curled on the sofa, watching cartoons. John made toast and coffee and thought that if he had more practice with this kind of thing, he'd have worried more about having decent breakfast food in the house than about Cam's ugly shirts.
"What I don't understand," Vala said, waving her toast at the television, "is this relationship between Sponge Bob and Patrick. It's not as innocent as it looks."
John snorted. "That's what you said about the sheep."
Vala leaned sideways against John, so her crumbs fell onto his trousers. "I was right about the sheep." She patted his knee. "We should do it again before going to work. Or maybe in Mitchell's car. I had the impression," she added, and tugged John's arm over so she could drink from his mug, "that men on your planet never agreed to have sex if a woman asked. I thought it was a cultural taboo. I've seen a few films." She lowered her voice for the last bit, and John wondered what films.
"Um," John said, and wrestled his coffee back. "You can't sleep with teammates, or with people in the chain of command."
"Pity you're going to be in another galaxy," Vala said, and nestled her head on John's shoulder. "Sam got clearance to take her new toys to Atlantis, did you know?"
John's stomach dropped. "Shit." No one had told him. But he'd been woken up by Vala teasing his dick and not by Rodney's campaign of phone harassment, so he should have known that something was up.
"Relax," Vala said. "They love you. Sam just gets very ?" she put her hands up, palms parallel to each other ? "focused. One of the little treasure-house machines might be some very crucial part of a spaceship, which she was excited about. I stopped listening when I realized the ship was only theoretical." Vala turned her head and kissed John neatly on the cheek. "Theories are easy to steal but hard to fly."
"Words to live by," John agreed, and let Vala put his mug on the floor so she could shove him back on the sofa and have her way with him.
He wasn't so sex-scrambled that he didn't notice Vala wearing his watch as she got dressed again afterward, her hair wild and her smile secretively self-pleased. He didn't say anything, though, out of a superstitious fear that she'd try to give it back.
The SGC was purposefully abuzz with activity when they arrived, and John found himself with meetings scheduled back to back until late afternoon and a definite date for the removal of Atlantis from Earth. The disruption to shipping lanes and the potential dangers posed to American citizens by secret alien power sources and weapons had apparently led the President to issue an ultimatum.
Atlantis was going home. John was going to fly it there. He was going home, he let himself think just one time, a kind of mental crowing that had no basis in the realities of his job or the policies of his government. He tried to keep his impatience and excitement off his face, but he kept finding himself starting to smile.
Tying up the loose ends of his life on Earth turned out to be pretty easy, if time-consuming. The keys to the furnished apartment were returned to the SGC, Cam took back his car, John ordered a year's worth of birthday and holiday presents to be sent to Dave's family and Jeannie's. SG1 was offworld when John was beamed up to the Hammond and then down into Atlantis' gateroom, but John left red roses in Vala's room, and a tiny but perfect cake from the French bakery next to the Apple Store.
Vala sent him a video of her eating the whole cake, all by herself with rose petals in her hair, while relating her latest adventures and modeling some gauzy scarves she'd bought in the downtime between meeting resistance fighters and negotiating the release of hostages.
Over dinner, Rodney said, "I can't believe you got married and didn't tell us," for maybe the hundredth time since the databurst arrived. John didn't know who had spilled the beans, but his money was on Bill Lee. They'd bonded over being divorced guys in their forties whose usual hot Friday dates were with video games. Bill had backed away fast after the Vala thing, like suddenly John was living the high life and didn't need the distraction of friendship.
"I'm not really married," John explained again, this time to Teyla.
"Did you vow to protect each other and make a safe home for your children?" Teyla asked, keeping her voice reasonable even though she looked annoyed.
"There were vows," John admitted. "Mostly about being righteous."
Teyla's eyebrows made perfect arcs of skepticism, and John changed the subject fast.
Ronon turned out to be the most sanguine about John's relationship, or whatever it was. When John complained about the enthusiastic way Ronon beat the crap out of him, Ronon just shrugged and said, "You're happy. So you should stay alive."
"Words to live by," John agreed, and tried not to get too much blood on the wall as he stumbled over to his sports bag and towel and handy roll of medical gauze.
He wrote Vala a letter which kind of explained how weird things were, being back in Pegasus ? the confusion of local politics, and his team plotting to buy them a toaster, or something. Vala sent another video, in which she explained that her free time was too precious to squander on giving herself a headache trying to read John's ridiculous language.
John sent her a fairly sarcastic PowerPoint explanation on how to install the screen reader program that Ronon and Teyla used (admittedly, while grumbling and shooting John glared threats; he didn't tell Vala that).
"I made your computer voice just like that Disney girl's," Vala said in her next video. She was sitting on her desk and leaning down to peer into the webcam, so that John kept getting views down the front of her tiny t-shirt. "I miss you less when you sound ridiculous. Did Cam tell you about my new ship? It's gorgeous. He's so jealous." She gave John a wry smile. "Of course, as soon as we get it fixed up, I'm going to have to give it to the anti-Lucian resistance, but for now," she spread her arms wide, "it's all mine." She winked. "I'm calling it the Daniel and painting everything on the bridge gold." She tipped her head to the side. "I'll send you pictures. And I promise to name the next ship after you."
John wrote back that he wasn't envious in the least; for all he cared, Vala could name all her ships Daniel. Anything but John, he said. I'd never be able to live that down.
He missed getting the thirty-seven color photos which Vala sent in the next databurst because of being offworld, with orders from Woolsey to keep a joint Genii-Latiran hiveship demolition partnership from melting down. John sucked at diplomacy, but at least he could threaten to pull his team ? and their collective intel on hiveships ? out of the project if they couldn't play nicely together.
He was idly wondering if the way Ladon Radim fought with the head Latiran engineer was just a cover for some illicit cross-cultural romance when Atlantis radioed in to report that a hiveship was bearing down on one of the planets under Genii protection.
John was kind of touched by how quickly everyone dropped the personal grievances and got their asses into gear. The Atlantis jumpers were already loaded with the reverse-engineered disruptor balls and the tablets with Rodney's code for hacking into the hive's systems. Theoretically, they could turn the hiveship's own hyperdrive into a bomb.
"Not that any of this has been field tested," the Latiran engineer grumbled, clinging to the bench between Teyla and Rodney as John swung the jumper up and around. The planet's stargate engaged, and John felt the navigation system slide into automatic as the jumper threaded the needle and emerged in a pleasant-looking meadow.
"It'd better work," Ronon said, and gave the engineer a menacing smile.
Teyla coughed. "This is what we do best," she said, and checked her weapons as the jumper shot up through the atmosphere on an intercept course. Behind them, the other jumpers blinked out of view as they also cloaked.
No matter how many times John flew into a hiveship, he always got hit with an adrenaline spike of visceral fear. He rode it out, taking a deep breath and bringing the jumper down lightly on the edge of the central cavern.
They split into three teams, one to rescue any human prisoners and two to blow shit up. Everything went pretty much perfectly, and a quick headcount as they prepared to board the jumpers and make a fast getaway showed that they hadn't lost anyone. John laid down cover fire as the captives freed from feeding cocoons were packed into the jumpers, and was completely unprepared to find himself thrown backwards, knocked off his feet, his hands suddenly too weak to brace his fall.
He didn't want to look but he figured he had to, and then wished he hadn't, because now he knew the weird crushed feeling in his back was from where the motherfucking spear must have punched right through him. He had another loose handful of seconds to feel sick horror, and then the pain washed out all his senses, and he gave up on consciousness.
He remembered the spear the instant he woke and had a few panicked moments where he nearly convinced himself that he was dead before realizing that he could smell soap and alcohol and hear voices, and that the darkness was due to a failure to get his eyes open.
The first thing he saw was Vala, dressed in black leather and armed to the teeth, standing over the bed with her arms crossed.
"Hey," John said, and felt a drugged smile creep across his face. He knew he was fucked up, but there wasn't any post-surgery nausea, or tubes in his nose, or shortness of breath. Maybe he just wasn't dead yet; maybe he was being given a chance to say goodbye.
Vala jumped a little, and John wondered if those really were grenades attached to her belt. Then she leaned over, putting a hand on John's head as she kissed him very gently on the mouth. "Hello, darling," she said, and pulled back to give John an annoyed glare. "Did I forget to remind you to stay alive? Because I have to say, it was terribly upsetting to be woken in the middle of the night and dragged through the stargate just because you decided to rearrange your internal organs on a whim."
John tried to roll his eyes, but wasn't sure it worked. "Whimsical of me, right."
Vala shook her head, making the ponytails over her ears bounce. "Being whimsical is part of my charm, and I resent your feeble attempt to challenge me."
John huffed in amusement. "There's whimsical and there's ? " he gestured at Vala ? "heavily armed with light fingers."
Vala ran the hand that wasn't still petting John's hair in a short, loving arc over the knife sheath clipped to her vest. "You knew that when you married me," she pointed out.
John grinned. "You're still wearing the watch I gave you."
Vala widened her eyes theatrically. "This?" She tapped the watch-strap with a finger. "I stole this. You just weren't clever enough to steal it back."
"You didn't sell it on eBay," John pointed out, and yawned. He'd forgotten that the drugs kept the pain away as long as John didn't do anything stupid, like yawning, and twisted his hands in the restraints as he tried to curl in on himself to make it stop hurting.
Everything around him grayed out for a bit; he was only really aware of Vala's arm around his shoulders, and a tangle of voices, Vala and ? if this was Atlantis, the other person must be Keller, and that would explain why the pain slid slowly back down to a level where John could breathe again.
Keller asked John to open his eyes, and then did a quick scan while making him do things like move his toes and turn his head.
"Am I dying?" John asked, and reached out for Vala before he even registered that that was what he was doing. She put her hand in John's and gave him a comforting squeeze.
"Nope," Keller said, and flicked the beam of her tiny flashlight into his eyes. "Right as rain. And really lucky. I mean," and she twisted her fingers together in a tangle of latex, "if the SGC hadn't had a ZPM, and if no one had been able to use the Goa'uld healing device, you'd, um, it wouldn't be looking so good. But you'll be fine," she added hastily. "A little bedrest and jell-o and, well. Good as new."
"Maybe even better," Vala agreed. "When I get my strength back, I'll see if I can cure your stupidity."
"Be nice," Keller said absently, and gave John a thumbs-up. "I'm going to go fetch your team and tell them you're awake. They're... you scared them. And me. So a short visit, and then you need to sleep."
"I'll stay and keep an eye on him." Vala gave Keller a calculating look, as if prepared to scam her if necessary, but Keller just smiled and said thanks.
Vala looked pleased.
"You should stay for a while," John said, wondering if he should let go of Vala's hand and then deciding not to. "It's a big city. There has to be treasure here somewhere."
Vala leaned down and kissed his cheek. "You say the sweetest things. Get rid of the life-sucking monsters and I'll consider it."
"I was trying to," John said, trying to sound reasonable and not sulky.
"Don't make me have to stick around to make sure you do the job right," Vala said, and settled a hip on the edge of the bed, careful not to jostle. Her fingers returned to his hair, playing with the cowlicks.
"I can get a bigger bed," John said, confused for a moment into thinking that beds were somehow important. Vala laughed, sounding as delighted as if John'd just propositioned her in an inappropriately dirty way, which John didn't think he'd done.
He must have looked out of it, because Vala gave him a fond, reassuring look. "As soon as you're out of bed and up," she said, dropping her voice and letting her mouth curl into a smile, "I'll have you in bed and up, if you know what I mean."
John blinked. "Has that line ever worked for you?"
Vala bumped her knuckles against his shoulder. "You're just jealous you didn't think of it first."
John clenched his teeth against another yawn, trying not to fall asleep before he got to be berated by Rodney and ? hopefully ? snuggled by Torren.
"I don't want you to give my watch back," John said, and raised his hand to rattle the restraint cuff suggestively. Vala took the hint and undid all the buckles, and John put his arm awkwardly around half her waist.
"That wouldn't be any fun, now would it?" Vala agreed, and gave him a brilliant smile. "Just wait and see what else I can steal."
John was saved from trying to think up some kind of clever retort by his team's appearance, concern on their faces and, in Rodney's case, Dorito crumbs all down the front of his jacket. John found himself passed from one gentle hug to another, apologizing for nearly dying and basking in Rodney's rant about safety.
"This is Vala," John told Ronon and Teyla during a lull in the harangue. Teyla sat Torren on the bed in the curl of John's arm and taught Vala the Athosian way of greeting, and Ronon asked to see Vala's knives.
Realizing no one was listening to him, Rodney let his words trickle to a halt. Turning to Vala, he said, "Welcome to the family, I guess," his eyes flicking between John and Vala as if trying to figure a puzzle out.
"We're not really married," Vala said, and then gave John a wink. "Or maybe we are, it's all very confusing."
"But convenient," John suggested, still failing to teach Torren how to play rock-scissors-paper correctly. Torren could make a rock, but then he used his fist like a hammer and cackled. "And lucky."
Vala grinned. "Two of my favorite qualities in a partner," she agreed, and blew John a kiss that warmed him straight through and made him believe that she might just stay here, with him, for a while.