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Title: In which Vala agrees with Indiana Jones
Word count: 1690
Rating/Warning: PG, no warnings
Spoilers: Vague references to early season 10, but other than that nothing.
Summary: Written for the SG-1 Friendathon. Prompt was "Daniel, Vala. Artifacts from dig = loot?" Behold my awesomely creative title choice. This is probably not exactly what the prompter had in mind, but hopefully it's still entertaining :)
A/N: Originally posted on livejournal Jul. 31st, 2011.

* * *


It starts on Vala's very first mission as a probationary member of SG-1, if it can be called a mission: they're on a rather boring planet that Earth has decided might once have been a goa'uld stomping ground. Colonel Mitchell and Colonel Carter have gone to greet the locals, assuming there are any left, and Teal'c is out at the entrance of a rather impressive temple ruin. Vala is left with Daniel, who as far as she can tell is her babysitter. At present Vala is wondering whether he'd notice a bomb going off outside, because apparently Horus's gloating and biased historical accounts are the most fascinating thing he's seen all week.

“Have you ever been in an arrow trap?" She's leaning on a particularly gory illustration of a Jaffa chopping off people's heads and giving Daniel her best inquisitive foreigner look, which would work better if he'd look in her direction.

Daniel's brush pauses for a second, but he doesn't turn around. “...What?”

“I mean I know you've done the falling ceiling bit, I was there, and I've certainly come across some impressive defences in my own explorations. But when you said you study history I assumed you meant in a library somewhere."

She hears a sort of sigh, and Daniel's started clearing dirt again. “What brought this on?” Really, he could at least try to sound interested. Isn't he the one that wanted her here?

"You said you were an archaeologist, when we met,” she explains, casually. “I've been doing some research, and your general sent me some videos to watch.”

He sort of freezes, and his voice has that wary tone people get when they're expecting trouble.“Landry?” But she has his full attention now, and she's rather pleased with that.

“No, the one in Washington.” The DVDs actually arrived shortly after she'd interrogated Colonel Mitchell, with a note that advised her to consult Teal'c should she need further education and was signed with a sketch of an unusual, deformed boy. Vala's not sure how the man even knew about her curiosity, but it seems she guessed correctly that he and Daniel have a history. She waits for a second to see if he'll respond to that and then continues. “I have to confess that I underestimated you, Daniel. I had no idea you led such an exciting life on your planet. I mean, you can't really blame me. The parts I've seen of it are dreadfully dull.”

Daniel is doing that thing where he pinches the bridge of his nose and looks like he's just eaten a teyza fruit. “Vala, those are movies. They're meant for entertainment, and they often exaggerate a profession to make it more exciting.”

She had rather suspected that, because she looked up some of the events they described and apparently Nazis don't exist anymore and mummies have never shown up in Egypt. Still. “So you've never been chased by man-eating bugs?”

“...Actually, yes. A few months ago. But that wasn't on a dig." He sighs. "And some tombs do have traps set up, but nothing like..." he waved his hand vaguely in the air; encompassing, Vala assumes, the topic of conversation. She's not sure whether the gesture is supposed to be insulting or not.

* * *


She drops the subject for about two months, until she spots an old healing device half-buried in the corner of a temple. It doesn't work, but Vala thinks she can fix it enough to get by in an emergency. She slips away and grabs the device, but Daniel stops her just before she rejoins the group.

“What are you doing?” He really has the disapproving tone down pat; Vala is briefly reminded of her stepmother.

“I was just admiring the...lovely décor. Did you know that on Kavor this particular pattern is considered a work of art?” She gives him her brightest smile and tries to edge around him. If she can just get to her pack...

There's a spark of interest, she can tell, but Daniel is not an easily dissuaded man. He folds his arms and puts on a matching disapproving frown. “I mean with that hand device.”

Oh, so he saw that. She supposes there's really no point in hiding it now. She brings it out from her backpack. “What, this old thing? It doesn't even work. I thought I'd...take it for parts. You know, amateur inventing is a bit of a hobby of mine.”

“Uh-huh.” Daniel holds his hand out, and Vala reluctantly hands it over. “You know, we have policies about taking items from off-world.”

Policies. That's never a good sign, in her experience. “Is this about being being probationary? Because I've been here over two months now and I like to think I've proven somewhat trustworthy in that time.” Really, what do they think she's going to do with it? All their enemies are already out to get her.

“No. Nobody is allowed to just take things. The artifacts belong to the SGC, so we can study them and-”

“Yes, yes, you selflessly contribute to the advancement of science.” She's heard this one at least a dozen times since she's been here, and she doesn't believe it for a second. But she's got leverage on Daniel; she switches to a more persuasive smile. “That's why those little candle holders from P3X 8B9 mysteriously appeared in your quarters the other week.”

That stops him pretty fast. Daniel opens and closes his mouth a couple of times before he speaks again, and Vala wonders if he knows how much he looks like a fish when he does that. “When were you in my-? Nevermind. I don't want to know. That's different. They're of no use to the SGC, and anyway they're still on the base.”

“Right. And yet when I try to bring something back, I'm the bad guy. Frankly, it seems to me that you're depriving me of my share of the loot.”

“It's not the same thing. You're looking for stuff you can sell. I'm-”

"Preserving the culture? Basking in exotic furniture? Those people are dead, Daniel. They're not ever going to come back and they're not going to miss their things. I'm merely giving them to people who can...properly appreciate them." She's not going to admit that she took the device so that she'll have a method of healing herself in the event she has to fight her way off of Earth, since she'll hardly be able to spare the time to pilfer one from storage. She's not sure that Daniel even understands that kind of planning, and anyway escape plans don't work unless they're secret.

"I'm studying the past. Artifacts help with that, but they're not the point."

Of course they aren't. "Because that's why you yelled at that poor Seargant Beckman for ten minutes after he dropped one of them. I can tell you don't care about them at all."

"Well, it's a little hard to study something when it's in a thousand pieces on the floor."

"Oh, don't be ridiculous, Daniel. You finished with that statue a week ago. You were putting it in storage, where it will collect dust for the next hundred years. I hardly see how that's an improvement."

She sees the instant he decides to stop arguing with her, because his eyes sort of close off and he puts the hand device in in jacket. “Look, just...don't take anything without permission. Please.”

Then their radios are squawking and Colonel Mitchell's telling them to head back to the gate now, so Vala picks up her pack and leaves Daniel with his artifact. It's not like she expected anything else, after all.

* * *


She's in her room when he knocks on her door later that night. He opens it slowly, like he's not sure of his welcome. And he shouldn't be. Vala flops onto the bed and pretends to be engrossed in a magazine.

"Vala? I wanted to apologize."

"For what, darling? I can't imagine anything you would need to apologize for."

"No, no, no. Hear me out.” He moves to the end of the bed and stops and he sounds almost nervous. Vala's curious despite herself. “I was...the thing is a lot of people think that archaeologists are nothing but looters or tomb robbers. Even now we always have to be careful to keep things preserved, to document our work, to have reasons for what we do. Otherwise nobody will take us seriously." He gives a little sigh then, and a chuckle. "And you probably can't even understand that."

He pulls something out of his pocket. Vala recognizes it as one of the candle holders he'd taken from his office. He looks at it for a moment, and there's a reverence in his eyes and his stance that Vala doesn't think she's ever seen before, in anyone else. It's as if that little piece of clay - not even very well made, as far as Vala can tell - is somehow more.

"Thousands of years ago, people lived. Cultures existed that we can't even imagine today. And all that's left are the, the buildings. The stone. Some writings. If nobody preserves them, if nobody tries to understand them, they're gone. As if they never existed at all. I became an archaeologist because I wanted to understand. Because somebody should remember them."

And the thing is that Vala believes him. And she also thinks he's lying. Because she's watching the way he holds that piece of clay, and it's telling her that the artifacts are entirely the point, or at least a large part of the point. And Daniel still doesn't understand that Vala is right. Knowledge is often more powerful than wealth, the Ori understand that very well. And treasure is treasure, whatever its form. He'll come around.

Vala smiles and leans back on the bed after he leaves, and thinks that this really isn't such a bad place to wait for an invasion.
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