"I would I could
Quit all offences with as clear excuse
As well as I am doubtless I can purge
Myself of many I am charged withal."
— Prince Hal, William Shakespeare's Henry IV
Vala slammed the box of assorted clay statuary on the lab table hard enough to rattle them even in their protective packing, but Daniel didn't even look up from his translation project, muttering his thanks almost absently. She waited a moment longer for him to acknowledge that she was still there before realizing he was well and truly engrossed in his work. "Sam gave them to me," she blurted.
Daniel blinked at her. "What?"
"The lockpicks. Sergeant Siler told Sam that Harriman told him he overheard you talking to Mitchell and expressing your disbelief that I—and I quote—'jumped to pick the lock so quickly'. I'm not that far removed from my old profession, you know."
The archaeologist, for all his vaunted brilliance, did a remarkable impression of a landed fish. It was not an expression which conveyed much intelligence. "What?" he repeated.
"What's more," Vala continued, on a roll and not prepared to stop anytime soon, "I'm disappointed in the lack of respect you showed me with regard to my feelings for my father. I would think you of all people would know that I have reasons for behaving the way I do around other people, much less acknowledging the tremendous sacrifices I have made to try to 'fit in' around here."
Finally, Daniel reacted, taking his glasses off and rubbing at his eyes. "Uh, what brought this on, exactly?"
She crossed her arms defiantly over her chest. "Sam and I had a girls' night in last night and had a lot to discuss. She thought I should share my frustrations with you and I agreed. I seem to be indulging myself in a lot of emotional outbursts lately, so I figured what was one more?"
Slipping the frames back over his ears, Daniel crossed the room and pulled the door shut. "Okay, I guess we need to talk."
"I'm pretty sure that's what I was doing," she answered.
"When I said 'we need to talk', I meant that we both needed to talk... as in I guess I need to explain myself."
"Good idea," she agreed, leaning against the lab table and waiting.
He blinked and leaned against the counter opposite, hands resting to either side of him. "Okay, let's start with the lockpicks. First off, I knew Sam bought you a set just like hers... she actually asked me if you had a good set of tools already before she ordered them. What got lost in communication from Harriman to Siler to Sam to you, was that I was surprised at how quickly you whipped 'em out to open the lock." He shrugged his shoulders, looking a little sheepish. "I had a key."
"Yeah... General Landry had a copy made of Jacek's apartment key."
"So why didn't you tell me this?" she frowned.
"Because I only found out about it at the same time that I found out about the locator implant... which was right before we left. And I forgot."
"Oh." She canted her head, fluttering her eyelashes in a gesture she realized—belatedly—she'd copied from him. "That still doesn't explain why you were so... so disrespectful."
"I didn't think I was."
"Oh, please, Daniel, I hate that 'resist the temptation to fall back on your old ways' line," Vala replied, rolling her eyes. "You sound like Obi-wan Kenobi... like I'm just barely managing to keep from crossing over to the Dark Side."
"Sorry... I didn't realize it bothered you." He took a deep breath. "Honestly? I'm proud of you, and not just for setting aside everything you've ever known to join the SGC. I'm amazed at your survival instincts, your courage, your intelligence... and well, your stubbornness. A friend of mine, someone that I was once very close to, was taken as a host."
"You've told me about your wife," she reminded him.
"Yes, but this is someone else, an old girlfriend from my college days. She was taken by Osiris, but we were finally able to capture her and the Tok'ra removed the symbiote. A few months later, she committed suicide."
Vala's eyebrows rose. "Really?"
Daniel sighed. "Yeah. Her therapists thought she was recovering from the ordeal really well, but then she walked out of her apartment one day and hanged herself from the banister in the stairwell." He blew out a brief gust of air. "The letter she left me said she couldn't deal with what had been left in her mind by Osiris, the things he'd forced her to do. So yes, I'm very much impressed with the way you handled your freedom."
Vala cocked her head. "Not exactly the best compliment I've ever received, but I'm listening."
The look he shot her seemed to ask, "You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?"
Her answering stare stated, "Not on your life."
"Oookay," he drew out, scratching absently at the nape of his neck. "Maybe part of my attitude the other day came from the fact that I maybe—might have been—just a little jealous."
That certainly hadn't been the response she'd been expecting. "Jealous? Of what? Of whom?"
"Of you, actually," he admitted. "I was a little jealous, I guess, that you still had a father. My parents... died when I was a little boy, and I can't imagine that if they were still alive today, I wouldn't want to talk to them, communicate and... and interact with them. The only 'feuding families' I've had any real experience with have been those of the other members of the team. Sam and her dad became very close and reconciled with her brother, Teal'c and his son have found their common ground, Jack and his ex-wife met once every month or so for dinner until she moved back to Minnesota. Even Carolyn and General Landry are getting pretty comfortable with one another now. I guess I thought it'd be the same with you and your father."
"Because that's what you see as 'normal'," she guessed.
He looked a little embarrassed. "Yeah, I suppose so."
"Well, Daniel, that should teach you not to think you know what 'normal' is. Normal's different for everyone. Lying, cheating, swindling, and trying to convince his daughter he's still trying to reform his ways is 'normal' for Jacek." She dropped her arms and shoved off the table, heading for the door.
"If it's worth anything, I'm sorry for trying to push you into making up with him."
Vala looked over her shoulder, one hand holding the door open just a crack. "You know, Sam tells me an appropriate means of making an apology is taking someone out to dinner."
He coughed. "The last time I took you out to dinner, you went around base for a month telling everyone it was a date. I mean, technically speaking you're a cultural liasion attached to the archaeology department, which essentially means that I'm your 'boss'."
"And? Two friends and co-workers aren't allowed to go out to dinner?"
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "That's what I thought we were doing the last time."
"Oh, well in that case, I accept. Pick me up at seven?"
Smirking to herself, Vala opened the door, almost colliding with Samantha Carter who was on her way into the lab. Quickly, she grabbed the colonel by the arm and escorted her out to the hall. "Oh, there you are Sam! I was just going to look for you. Daniel's taking me on a date tonight, and I need your help picking my outfit."
"It's not a date!" Daniel protested.