Daniel blinked hard and pushed his slipping glasses - the only pair he had left on base after she sat on his good ones - further up the bridge of his nose. The three other pairs he normally kept in his office were currently sitting in a storage container somewhere in the Pegasus galaxy, along with a pile of books he hadn't had time to get back from the Deadelus before it left. Why on earth hadn't he gotten laser surgery over the long, quiet summer?

Too late now. He was stuck peering through lenses that weren't even his current prescription, which was probably exacerbating the headache pounding away at a point just behind his eyebrows. The original cause of which had spent the past few days prowling his lab like a bored cat.

He could see Vala in his peripheral vision, sprawled on her stomach on his workbench, swinging her booted feet in the air and leafing through something that looked, out of the corner of his eye, like a magazine. She had a strange habit of lying on tables. He didn't even want to guess why.

At least it was keeping her blessedly quiet. Too quiet, actually. Suspicion nagged at the back of his mind, prodding at the headache like a child teasing a grumpy dog. What was she up to? Maybe nothing. Or maybe she was doing it on purpose, to wind him up... Dammit, he shouldn't let her get to him like this.

Daniel shook himself mentally and bent over the cracked tablet from P4S-559 again, trying to regain his focus. The fuzzy symbols swam before his eyes, mocking him. God, he really needed his proper glasses, a moment's peace, five minutes to himself - a change of scenery even. It felt like he'd been stuck in the lab - with Vala orbiting him like an irritating moon - forever. He wasn't used to having someone constantly with him like this.

"Well, well, well!" Her voice was so loud and sudden it made him jump. He resisted the urge to glance up. "And here I thought you wouldn't sleep with me because I used to be a Goa'uld," she huffed. "Hathor, Daniel? I'm shocked!"

That got his attention. "What?" he snapped, yanking his glasses off and tossing them onto the desk.

Vala rolled onto one hip, swung her legs over the edge of the table and slid to the floor, brandishing a pile of paper. "Well, I thought the whole former-host thing was putting you off, but -"

"How - ?" he spluttered, the throbbing behind his eyes intensifying.

"I'm reading your personnel file," she replied, flashing him a wide, unrepentant grin. "And it's so much more interesting than I expected. The Destroyer of Worlds? You naughty boy." She waggled the file at him.

Oh, that really, really did it. Daniel lunged for the wad of paper, but she whipped it behind her back and danced backwards across the office. He followed her, chest to chest, trying to reach around behind her and grab the file. Vala's back hit concrete and his stomach hit hers.

He leaned forward until their noses almost touched. "Give it back," he said, unable to keep the angry tremor out of his voice.

Vala's pupils dilated, and suddenly he was very aware of her body pressed between his and the wall. "I'll give it back," she purred, "if you'll take me out to dinner."

"I don't want it back that badly," he said, stepping away to what felt like a safe distance. She was not going to get under his skin this way. She'd already read the damn thing, anyhow. The damage was done.

He thought he caught a momentary flash of hurt in her eyes, but then she poked her tongue out at him. "I know you find me repulsive but there's no need to be so rude."

"Really? I think there's every reason," he said, stalking back to his desk and putting his glasses back on before they went the same way the last ones did. Then he picked up his pen and leaned over the tablets.

Not looking up, he muttered, "What gives you the right to read my file?" He shot her a pointed look over the rims of his glasses, and she broke into a wry smile.

"Have you any idea how dull this place is?"

"I don't care. I'm not here for your entertainment." Daniel poked his fingers under his lenses, into his eyeballs, and rubbed, trying to ease some of the pressure behind them. When he took his hands away he saw stars and Vala's face inches from his own, as she leaned across the desk.

Warm fingers closed over his and took away his pen. "You work too much. Don't you ever do anything fun?"

Daniel took a steadying breath. "We've been over and over this. And maybe I'd have the chance to do something else if I could get this finished. Which I can't until somebody stops distracting me."

"Well a girl can't help it if she's distracting." Vala beamed at him again then dropped the grin as his scowl deepened. "Maybe I'd be less distracting if I had something to do."

The conversation was going in circles so fast Daniel was getting dizzy. "Try learning to knit."

Vala let out a little snort, and turned to his bookshelf, where she began fiddling with his artifacts. He made a mental note to check that nothing was missing later. It was unlikely, since he'd had Dr Lam hide all the really valuable (or breakable) stuff.

He shook his head and focused on work again, trying to let the symbols and patterns on the dusty stone slabs draw him in, speak to him in whispers, tell him their secrets. But it was no use. His concentration was shot, his head pounding, and if he was totally honest with himself, he wanted to get off base just as much as Vala did. He pushed his glasses onto his forehead and, elbows on the table, rested his face in his hands.

"You look tired, Daniel." Vala's voice, right behind him. He could feel her warm at his back and her hand closed over his shoulder. "I'm sorry about your wife."

Daniel felt himself flinch. That wound was still raw, after all this time, and he hated that Vala now knew the things that hurt him the most. "Are you?" he sighed into his palms. There was a small thump on the table in front of him, and when he peered between his fingers, his personnel file was sitting there, and Vala's gaze was hot on the side of his face.

"Of course I am. I know what it's like Daniel. Nobody should have to go through it."

He peered at her sideways. "Oh, right. Because you were once a host." He let the comment drip thick with sarcasm.

Vala shook her head. "You still don't believe me?"

"Well let's just say your track record in truthfulness is less than stellar. You've never even told me the Goa'uld's name," Daniel said, reaching over and taking his pen out of her hand. He knew there had to be some truth in it - after all, she had successfully used a healing device on him aboard the Prometheus. Right before she'd smashed a fire extinguisher into the Jackson family jewels.

"What reason would I have to lie about it?" she said, sounding irritated.

Good, he was pissing her off for a change.

"You've never needed one before," he retorted, and this time there was no doubting the flare of pain. And, crap, he actually felt a little bad for having caused it. This whole thing was just getting too tense, turning him into someone he didn't want to be.

There was no pressure valve here, no downpour to clear weeks of humid oppression, and Daniel was starting to think that before much longer, it was going to degenerate into another pinching, ball-crushing, hair-pulling fiasco.

He pushed his chair back from the desk and looked Vala in the eye. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Forcing a smile onto his face, he said, "How do you feel about a little excursion?"


An hour later they were standing in the hallway outside his apartment. Daniel had convinced Landry to let him off base, under the semi-pretense of going to collect his newest pair of specs and some research books from his place. In truth he did need those things, though he could have sent an SF to collect them.

Hammond would have understood straight away, and let them go, he was sure of it. But Landry was still new enough that Daniel hadn't quite got a handle on him, and wasn't sure how he'd answer. But the General had just winked at Daniel and said, "Well, it's not like she can run away, now, is it?" Maybe the guy was more astute than Daniel gave him credit for.

They'd found some jeans and a t-shirt for Vala and headed straight for Daniel's SUV, which coughed sluggishly to life, battery low from weeks sitting unused in the Cheyenne Mountain parking lot. Vala had muttered something about primitive machinery, and he'd threatened to push her out of the passenger door even before they'd cleared the gates and headed towards Colorado Springs in the gathering dusk.

She'd been curious about the houses, people walking dogs on leashes, shopping malls, street lights winking on along the sidewalk, and for a while Daniel almost enjoyed explaining to her about Earth society. Seeing her fascination with his world was almost like seeing everything with fresh eyes; things normally taken for granted made new and interesting again.

His apartment door swung open and they were greeted with stale, dusty air.

"Mm, nice," Vala said unconvincingly, casting a critical eye around the bare room as he turned on the lights.

"I packed most of my stuff away, since I thought I was leaving for Atlantis," he said, emphasizing the last three words. "But I never got the chance to finish the job after you..." he motioned to his wrist, and she rolled her eyes.

"When are you going to stop blaming me for that, Daniel?'

"Never. It was your fault!" he snapped, feeling his temper rising again. He closed his eyes and took a long breath. "Why don't you turn on the television and amuse yourself while I get my stuff?" She looked confused, so he handed her the remote control, flicked on the TV, and showed her how to change the channel. "Not quite as advanced as a Goa'uld communication device, but far more interesting."

"Ooh, thanks," she said, settling into the leather couch, eyes wide as the USS Voyager went to warp and shot off the screen. "Got anything to drink?"

"I'll check," he said, going through to the kitchen and opening the fridge. It was empty except for a six-pack of beer. What the hell. He snagged a bottle. Maybe if she got a little tipsy it would shut her up. He flipped the cap off, reached for the cupboard, and then decided there was no point getting the glassware dirty. She could drink from the bottle. For that matter, so could he. He grabbed one for himself.

"Here you go." He went back to the living room where Vala was taking great delight in flipping channels.

"What is it?" she asked, taking the sweating bottle from his hand and peering down the neck.

"Beer," he replied, taking a long pull from his own drink. "Made from a fermented mixture of water, malt, hops and yeast."

She wrinkled her nose and sniffed it. "Smells odd."

"Sorry, it's all I had." He shrugged.

Vala sipped and pulled a face. "You like this stuff?"

"No." Daniel felt himself smiling. "But I have a friend who does. Tastes like crap but at least it's alcoholic."

"Oh, right." Vala's eyes lit up. "Bottoms up then."

"I'm going to go look for some books now. Please, please stay here. And use a coaster," he said, pulling a cork one out of the dresser drawer and popping it on the corner of his mahogany coffee table.

He was almost all the way out of the door when Vala said, so quietly he almost missed it, "Qetesh."

"Huh?" He glanced back over his shoulder.

Her eyes were fixed firmly on the TV screen, and she didn't look up. "The name of the Goa'uld who took me as a host. She was called Qetesh."

Daniel blinked in surprise. "Oh, okay," he said, backing out of the room.

He made his way into the study, turning the name over and over in his head. It took a few seconds for the memory to kick in.

Qetesh - goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure. Depicted as a beautiful naked woman standing on the back of a lion, holding symbols of eroticism and fertility. Why was he not surprised?

Daniel absently scratched at his beard, and wondered if Vala's life as a Goa'uld - as that Goa'uld - had influenced who she was now. It would certainly explain the wardrobe. And the outrageous flirting.

All joking aside, he was intrigued. It wasn't often he got the chance to ask someone about their experience as a host. Sarah was still too traumatized to speak about her time with Osiris, and everyone else he knew who'd been successfully de-Goa'ulded was either dead or ascended. He still had questions about the process, how much the host remembered, what it might have been like for Sha're...

He rummaged around for a while, pulling the odd book off the shelves, finding a rucksack to carry them in, and retrieving his new glasses from the desk drawer. Relieved, he swapped them with the ones he was wearing, and the room lost that soft-focus look that really only belonged in wedding photos.

One last glance around the room, and his gaze fell on a book about ancient sex gods. He fetched it down, leafed to the index, and sure enough, there she was. Qetesh - goddess of love and beauty. Imported from Syria, and often placed in a triad with Reshpu, a war god, and Min, god of virility and fertility.

"A threesome, typical," he muttered, casting his eyes over depictions of orgies and etchings of Min, with his permanently erect penis. He hastily shoved the book back on the shelf, gathered up his bag and slipped back into the hallway, killing the light as he went.

To Daniel's relief, Vala was still curled on the sofa where he'd left her, although her beer was sitting defiantly on the bare wood of his table, leaving a wet ring on the polish. He was about to protest when the doorbell rang.

"That'll be dinner," Vala beamed, bouncing up to open the door. "Do you have any money?"

Why did he always feel like he was running down the platform, struggling to leap aboard the conversational train? "Dinner?"

"Yes, the television suggested I order something called a pizza. Apparently it's a very good deal." She pulled the door open before he could stop her, revealing a pimpled teenage boy holding one of those large, heated delivery bags. The kid's eyes almost went out on stalks when he saw Vala in her tight little t-shirt and low low rise jeans.

"That's fifteen dollars please," he squeaked, passing her a receipt and going a delicate shade of pink.

"Daniel, money?" She held out her hand and snapped her fingers. He had no choice but to fish his wallet out of his jeans pocket and toss it to her.

"The numbers are on the bills," he said, prompting a confused look from the delivery boy, and came over to relieve him of the pizzas while Vala fumbled around in the billfold. "She's foreign," he explained, pulling a couple of crumpled singles from his pocket for the tip.

Daniel closed the door and dropped the pizzas on the coffee table. There was enough food there for five people. He shook his head, realizing that Vala had gotten her way once again. She'd wanted him to take her out for dinner, and now, technically, he had. Oh well, he was hungry, and the pizza smelled really good. So long since he'd eaten anything but commissary food.

He was just about to pop the lid on one of the boxes when he heard Vala say, in a strange voice, "Amonet. That's the Goa'uld who took your wife?"

A little shiver prickled down Daniel's spine. He turned to Vala, who was staring into his wallet, at the picture of Sha're he still kept in there. "You recognize her?"

Vala nodded, paler. Looked for a second as if she'd seen a ghost. "Yes. She came to the planet where I lived after Qetesh was removed. She was looking for a place to hide something."

His stomach rolled. "You met Sha're?"

"I met Amonet," she said, flipping the wallet closed and tossing it on the table beside the pizza. The shocked look was gone, replaced by a superior smirk. "And I have to say, her taste in clothes was terrible, even for a Goa'uld."

"What did she say? How long was she there? Did you spend much time - ?" Daniel realized he was speaking too fast, the questions tumbling out in his enthusiasm to know more. He'd been with Vala all these weeks and never once thought she held such important information. God, there was so much he wanted to ask...

Vala held up a finger. "So," she said, smirk getting wider, "I have something that you want, all of a sudden. Yay, me."

"What does that mean?" Daniel asked, a hot burn starting in the pit of his stomach. She wouldn't -

"Well, let's say I was to give you this valuable information. How much would it be worth to you?" she said slyly, twisting the toe of one shoe into the carpet.

The burn spread to his chest. "I am not paying you, Vala," he said through clenched teeth.

"Oh, I don't want your money. That's no good to me," she replied, eyeing him up and down. "I was thinking of another form of payment."

Realization dawned in a burst of fury. "You want me to prostitute myself for information about my dead wife?" he shouted, taking an angry step forward into her space.

Vala blinked and wiped a bit of spittle off her eyelid. "That's an ugly way to phrase it. I prefer to call it an exchange of services for information."

And there it was. Daniel's breaking point. It wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back. This was a damn big tree-trunk, and the camel was just a bloody smear on the ground.

He couldn't breathe, couldn't see, and it roared up inside him like a tidal wave -

He didn't recall moving, just found himself with his hands on Vala's shoulders, shoving her up against the wall so hard that the oak barometer hanging nearby rattled a warning. All that anger and frustration boiling so close to the surface, and there was no keeping it bottled up anymore. The urge to hit - to hurt - welled up, irresistible, and this wasn't right. Something was going to give. He couldn't stop it, couldn't -

He lunged forward, mouth crashing down on hers, kissing her with all the fury coursing through him. Teeth clicked, lips bruised. She went tense as steel against him for a moment, then her arms were around him, her mouth parting beneath his, tongue sliding like velvet against his own and Jesus he was playing right into her hands.

Daniel tore himself free, breathing hard, and looked into Vala's shocked face.

"Daniel," she gasped, licking her lips. Her eyes were wild, shining and completely alive. Cheeks red as apples. Breath hot on his face. "What are you doing?"

"I don't know." It came out as a croak, as he tried to ignore her fingers curling in the hair at the nape of his neck, the press of her breasts against his chest, and her stomach hard up against his groin. Concentrated on pulling away, ending this now.

Perhaps she could read his mind, because she gave a little wriggle, a wicked sparkle in her eye, and he felt his capacity for rational thought heading south along with most of the blood in his body.

He groaned and pressed his face against hers, hands coming up to tangle in the long, dark fall of her hair. "This is wrong."

"Feels pretty right to me," she breathed, lips damp against his ear, as she ground against him in a long, slow circle. His ability to focus flew out the window, along with his misgivings.

Vala circled her hips again. God, it felt so good. So fantastic to just want and let go of thought and reason and - a speck of common sense flared. "Vala, stop."

"Why don't you put that big brain of yours away, and start thinking with the little one," she said, her voice a low purr that went straight to the place she'd just mentioned. Heat flooded him. She chuckled. "Mmm, or not so little. There's my Daniel."

He was coming apart. Vala was everything he found morally and ethically repugnant, and the logical part of his mind was trying to stage a protest. But the other part - and apparently the rest of his entire body - didn't seem to have a problem with her. And in a democracy, the majority ruled.

Daniel was so, so tired of the constant struggle. Tired of all the snarking and butting heads and trying to ignore the chemistry that crackled every time she got close. With a frustrated growl he gave in; pressed hard against her and ran his tongue up the column of her throat. She tasted different, spicy. As he grazed her jawbone with his teeth, the noise she made vibrated through him, frying his synapses and hardening his cock. She looked obscenely pleased as her lips came back to his.

"Don't think for a second this means I actually like you," he gasped into her mouth.

"Oh, you smooth talker." Her laugh was low and dirty, and it was possibly the sexiest thing he'd ever heard.

God, she was wriggling again, and suddenly it seemed he had far too many layers of clothing on. Vala obviously thought so, too, as she wrenched the hem of his t-shirt out of his jeans. Cool air met hot skin, and then her palms were on his back, rucking the fabric higher, mapping him with her fingers. It was too long since he'd been touched in that way. Breath shuddered out of him and he jerked against her. Her eyes flashed fire as she pushed back, and Jesus, was he really dry-humping her against the living room wall?

"Bedroom." His voice rose half an octave as her fingers rammed into the waistband of his pants.

"Fuddy-duddy," she huffed, nipping at his earlobe, raising gooseflesh on his neck. Her yelp almost deafened him as he hauled her up, arm across the back of her thighs, and tossed her over one shoulder.

"I prefer to think of myself as a traditionalist," he grunted as she grabbed his ass.

A few staggering steps and they were in his darkened room. Daniel bent forward, let Vala bounce onto the edge of the bare mattress, and leaned over her, arms braced either side of her head. She looked wild and beautiful and debauched; lips plum-red and swollen where they'd met his teeth, her hair spread out around her like a dark halo. No wonder she'd been the ruin of men all across the galaxy.

Nimble fingers plucked at the button of his jeans as he lowered his head to capture her mouth again. She was good with her hands, and the hazy sense of looming regret was blasted to pieces as she breached the barrier of zipper and underwear, and took hold of him in one warm palm.

He felt a groan of pure need rumble up from inside him. Heard Vala's sudden intake of breath as it spilled out. The world narrowed to just that room, then the bed, then the point where her fingers curled around him, and Daniel could think of nothing other than losing himself in her. Taking all that pent-up tension and friction and pouring it into this one act. Since the moment they met, all the punching and hair-pulling and insults and arguments and - okay, yes - physical attraction - it had all been leading to this.

She slid her fingers torturously against hard, hot skin. "I knew you couldn't resist me."

"You're the one who's been throwing herself at me since day one," he retorted, keeping his voice steady with supreme effort. He fisted a handful of her skimpy t-shirt and yanked it up her body. She wriggled and shifted until it slid out from beneath her shoulders and flew over the side of the bed, whispering to the floor.

God, she was spectacular. Milky-pale breasts offset by a bra the color of sin. The red lace thin enough to show full, dark nipples beneath. His mouth watered, and he filled it with silky flowers and warm flesh. She made a dirty little noise when he twisted his head and rasped his beard across the swell of her breast.

"Where did the bra come from?" he murmured against her skin.

"A girl's gotta shop," she said, voice hitching as he licked a damp trail along the edge of the lace.

Christ, she'd been on Earth only weeks and already she'd discovered the joys of catalog shopping. He made a hurried mental note to check his credit card statement, before losing his thread as her fingers left his cock, skirted his sides, and dragged his shirt up his back.

Her nails raked a long, burning track up his spine. "Off," she said, pulling hard.

"Ow, you scratched me!" he protested, but he lifted his arms to let it slide over his head and join hers on the floor, dislodging his glasses along the way. They hung precariously from one ear.

She grinned wide and wicked, and reached up to take them carefully from his face. "You liked it."

And then the glasses were gone, and her hands were on his chest, rubbing his nipples to hard peaks, tracing little lines of fire down his stomach, and delving back into his open jeans. Daniel felt his eyes roll back in his head, and he pushed into her hand.

Falling forward to his elbows, he palmed her face and claimed her mouth once more. Rough, wet kisses, a battle of tongues and teeth. Fighting for dominance in a mirror of their relationship, each trying to gain control, neither really winning.

The hand that wasn't in his boxers was busy between them. He vaguely heard a zipper, felt her squirm and kick beneath him, and then a dull thump as her jeans hit the floor.

Both her hands were still moving, one perilously close to ending this whole thing way too early, the other... Daniel almost lost it when he realized what she was doing. Oh, God, she was getting herself off.

"Vala," he groaned, reaching down and grabbing her wrists.

That grin was back. "What's the matter, Daniel? Am I too much for you?"

"You wish." He let her hands go, hooked his fingers into her panties and whipped them down her legs, making sure his fingernails dug in just a little. By the way she gasped and arched off the bed, he'd hit one of her kinks. Big time.

Daniel took the opportunity to slip his hands beneath her, thumbs caressing her hips while his fingers splayed across the peachy-soft skin of her ass. He shimmied down her body to kneel at the side of the bed and nudged his face between her legs. So long - college days - since he'd done this. It wasn't allowed on Abydos, and Sha're had shrieked and slapped him away the only time he'd tried it.

He ground his whiskers into the downy flesh inside Vala's knee. A strangled "oh" came from somewhere above him, so he did it again and again, until she was quivering, yielding to him, opening up. Thighs that had been like an iron vice around his head on the Prometheus were soft as butter against his cheeks as he worried her sweet spot with tongue and teeth. She smelled like sex, tasted like seawater with a tang of sweetness.

Her fingers threaded through his hair, moving restlessly as she squirmed under his attention. He could feel her trembling, tightening, and with a thrill of triumph, realized he was going to make her come. Lose control for him. Because of him. Shout his name until -


She had a fistful of his hair, and pulled. Hard. Forced him back up to her face. "Oh, no you don't," she whispered, tracing his lips with her tongue. She had to be able to taste herself on him, and the thought had Daniel reeling.

There were still too many clothes involved. He wiggled his hands up between the mattress and her back, found the clasp and freed her bra with a sharp snap. Managed with a frantic fumble to get the straps down and free those amazing breasts. Bit one nipple slightly harder than was necessary.

She gasped, planted her feet on his hips and pushed his jeans and boxers down until he was able to kick them off. He collapsed into the cradle of her hips, stomach to stomach, chest to chest. Nothing between them now but skin and sweat, and he was pressed against her, and dear God he wanted to just push home...

The rational part of his brain came up for one last gulp of air, and he reached out blindly, fumbling in the drawer of the little bedside table with one hand. He came up clutching a small foil packet. Thank God, it was still there.

Vala let out a noise of protest as he paused and squinted at it in the dim light. It was still good. Just.

"What the hell is that?" Her voice came out harsh, panting.

"Condom." His wasn't much better.


He ripped the foil open with his teeth. "It's birth control." Rolled the rubber on with shaking fingers and settled back between her legs. "Prevents an exchange of fluids."

She pouted, still breathing hard. "Where's the fun in that?"

"It also prevents disease," he said, looking pointedly at her. With her alleged history, the last thing he wanted was a case of space-herpes. Or another briefing-room pregnancy announcement.

"Daniel, I'm wounded."

He felt himself smirking, even while the feeling of almost was just about shaking him apart. "Enough to call this off?"

"I'll get over it," she breathed. Her hands clamped down on his butt, her hips surged upwards, and he slid home.

It was like a lighting strike. All his frustration finally finding somewhere to earth itself, and the current snapped strong between them.

Vala grabbed his upper arms, tried to wrestle him sideways. Of course she'd want to be on top. She always did.

The air in the room shimmered, the heat haze before a storm.

He fought back, hauled her right to the edge of the bed, pinned her arms above her head and planted his feet firmly on the floor. Buried himself in her again.

It had been building for weeks, whatever this thing was between them, looming like giant clouds on a hot, oppressive day.

"Daniel," she hissed, trying to break free. Her heels kicked against the back of his thighs as he stroked into her, bent his head and sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, completing the circuit.

She keened and arched against him, and the storm broke.

This was the one thing that would clear the air. The only thing.

Vala was rocking against him now, lifting the pace. Damn, she was tight and wet and very, very good at this. A little tilt of her hips had him spinning. Sweat broke out on his forehead. She was playing him at his own game, trying to break him, and no way was he going to let that happen. No way in the -

His stomach clenched. Oh, God. Baseball. Fossils. Ancient verbs. Budge.

He squeezed his eyes shut, and in that split-second loss of concentration, Vala moved and they were rolling, twisting; finally coming to rest in the middle of the mattress. And he was on his back.

Daniel glanced up as she planted her hands on his chest. Her flushed face was determined and triumphant and ridiculously beautiful, dark hair tousled and flyaway against her pale skin. She lifted, settled, and began to move in delicious, slow circles.

The change of position and pace gave him the reprieve he so desperately needed, but now she had all the control. Too dangerous. He reached out and closed his left hand over one incredible breast, thumb and forefinger trapping the nipple. His right hand fell on her lower stomach, thumb sliding down until she gasped and jerked against him, and he knew he'd hit the spot. Her head fell back, her mouth open.

She began to vibrate and the balance of power shifted again.

The air in the room pressed around them, humming. A bead of sweat trickled between Vala's breasts, and his name escaped her lips, whispered like a prayer. Her hips stuttered, rhythm lost. Daniel raised one knee, pushed with his foot and flipped them. Pressed her full-body into the mattress and slammed into her. All willpower to hold back evaporated, like raindrops on hot concrete. God, so close now...

She clutched at his shoulders, fingernails digging into his back, arched against him and came hard. Body clenching around him. Lower lip caught between her teeth. Completely silent, save the breath coming fast and hard through her nose.

The sight and feel of her breaking apart undid him. He jerked into her like a sloppy teenager - no finesse, no control, just a headlong rush to release. And then he was gone, blood roaring in his ears like a downpour as the world shattered.

When the storm subsided he found himself slumped on top of her, face pressed into her neck, feeling the last aftershocks roll through both their bodies.

For a moment there was nothing but stillness, broken by harsh breathing. Then Daniel rolled off, onto his back, and flung an arm over his eyes. That had been...

"She fought, Daniel." Vala, breathless and rusty-voiced beside him.

His brain fought frantically to work out what she meant.

She rolled up onto one elbow. "Some hosts - "

"No!" Comprehension caught him in a rush. "Vala, there's no need. That's not why I -"

A finger on his lips silenced him. "I know. But I'm a woman of my word."

"No you're not," he mumbled against her finger.

She cast a sheepish glance down at him. "Okay, I'm not." One beat. Two. "Some Goa'uld never quite get full control. You see it in their eyes. Sudden flashes of fear, or anger. Sha're was strong. She fought Amonet with everything she had."

He felt a hot wet burn behind his eyes, and closed them to hide it. "Like you."

Vala touched his cheek, a gentle warm sweep of fingertips. Surprisingly tender. "I guess you have a thing for strong women."

Perhaps she was right. For all Vala's many, many faults, there was something there that resonated. An irreverence, a freedom of spirit that felt like home.

Not that he could ever let her know that.

"This -" he waved a hand "- what just happened. We should forget it ever did." He squinted up at her just in time to see an open, unguarded look that she quickly shut down.

She sat up, making a big show of stretching and sighing. "How can I do that when I've got such a nice tingle in my - "

"Vala! It never goes beyond this room, understand?"

Her mouth quirked at the corners. "In that case, can we do it again while we're still in here?"

Daniel thought maybe that headache was coming back. "No," he said flatly.

"I love you too," she retorted, tossing her hair back and climbing off the bed. She looked around for a second and then picked up the red panties, letting them dangle from one finger. "You need to buy me new underwear. I think these are broken."

"No," he repeated, snagging a tissue from the bedside table and dealing with the condom.

"Goodness, Daniel. Sex makes you downright monosyllabic." She slipped her bra back on.

"Unfortunately it doesn't do the same for you," he grumbled, sitting up and looking for his clothes in the half-light.

"If it did, could we have sex again?"

He threw her jeans at her, but couldn't stop the little smile that twitched at the corners of his mouth. "Vala, get dressed."

"Okay." She let out a mock-grudging sigh as she wiggled into the pants, commando. "I'm starving. Want some pizza?"

What the hell. It sounded really, really good. "Sure." He nodded. "You get the plates. I'll be right out. And don't break anything," he added as she began to skip towards the doorway.

Daniel took a step towards the bathroom and stood on a tangled pile of denim - his jeans. There was a loud crunch, and Vala's head whipped around.

"Oh, Daniel, that wasn't - "

He bent to pick up the crumpled clothing, and the crushed remains of his glasses tumbled onto the floor.