Disclaimer :: The characters herein are the property of their creators. I make no profit from their use.

:: m e m e n t o ::

written by Starlet2367 { e-mail // livejournal }


Vala sat alone in the cafeteria, a tray of food in front of her, poking at the orange Jell-O with her fork.

It was early in the morning, barely seven, and commissary was empty, but for the Chief, whose job it was to dial the gate and deliver coffee to the General. He sat alone at the far table, hunched over his breakfast, his digital music player plugged into his ears.

"Watch it wiggle," sang someone behind her. "See it jiggle...."

She glanced over her shoulder. "Colonel Mitchell."

He wore jeans and a gray t-shirt and his hair was damp, like he'd just showered. "Vala." His tray was mounded with food: fluffy yellow eggs, four strips of bacon and four biscuits. He looked at her, eyes narrowed. "You're not gonna handcuff me to the chair, are you?"

Even the memory of Cam, handcuffed to the bed naked, didn't improve her mood. "Not today, more's the pity."

He sat, leaning across her to pluck a napkin from the silver holder on the table. As he did, he focused on her plate. It was piled nearly as high as his, only the food was untouched. "You really don't want those eggs to get cold. They bear a frightening resemblance to rubber as it is."

She tapped the edge of her plate and sent the Jell-O wriggling again. Her sigh sounded loud, even to her.

"Cam," he said. "I thought we decided you'd call me that the other night at the rib joint." He picked up his fork, speared a bite of scrambled eggs, then paused, fork halfway to his mouth. "You don't mind if I--?" He motioned with the fork.

Vala shook her head. "No. Why should I mind?"

His forehead wrinkled. "Because you're not hungry, I mean. My mama always taught me it was rude to--" He shrugged. "Sorry. Southern manners don't always make sense on this planet, much less to someone from another." Cam took a bite of the eggs.

"What're you doing here, anyway? Isn't this SG-1's weekend off?" Vala made another half-hearted poke at the Jell-O.

"Finished my run. Decided to get my field reports out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of my weekend." Cam swallowed more eggs then went for a biscuit. As he buttered it, he frowned.

She propped her chin in her hand. "You don't like field reports, I take it?"

"Naw, they're hell on earth. But the frown was for the biscuits." He held one up between his thumb and forefinger. "Out of a can." He shook his head.

She nodded like she understood what he was talking about. "Daniel does lots of reports. He doesn't seem to mind."

He glanced up from the little pack of jelly he was wrangling open. "Jackson's an archeologist. He lives for that shit." He paused. "Pardon my French."

By now, she knew that "shit" wasn't French, any more than "fuck," "damn" or "hell." It was just Cam's odd way of excusing himself, not that he needed to. Gods knew, she'd said—and done—far worse.

Cam cocked his head at her. "Where is Jackson, anyway?"

She shrugged. "Enjoying his weekend, I suppose."

Working for the weekend. TGIF. To her, weekends meant long days spent reading out-of-date magazines and watching wrestling in the lounge with the off-duty teams. Weekends had been better when she'd been running the on-base poker games, but after the fifth time she bluffed her way to the pot with nothing more than a pair of threes, they refused to let her play anymore, which she didn't understand, because wasn't bluffing the point of the game?

"And what about your weekend? What've you been up to?"

She shrugged again. "You know. Stuff." She could be out trading ships for naqadah, and instead she was reduced to hoping Sam showed up off-shift and could be convinced to go to the cafeterial for a chat over a fruit ice.

"Stuff, huh? Exciting."

"Yeah. What about you?"

"I do...stuff."

She arched a brow.

He buttered another biscuit. "Laundry, groceries, you know. I was thinking I might check out SciFi.com and see if there's a new Battlestar webisode up this afternoon."

Vala tried to stand her knife up in her eggs. "Webisode?"

"Like a mini TV episode that only runs on the internet." Cam took the knife and put it on his tray. "You seem...I don't know...."

Vala started braiding a pigtail.


She had a quick brush-off loaded and ready to fire, but the concerned look on his face had her defenses standing down. Before she even knew what was happening, her bottom lip was quivering.

"Hey, hey." Cam tweaked a couple of napkins out of the holder and handed them to her. "That's no good."

"Sorry. I'm sorry." She took the napkins and crumpled them in her hand.

"It's understandable. From what I hear the whole memory retrieval thing has been a bitch."

Vala looked away. He'd hit too close to home. Plus, she hated being a sap. "Well, I guess I should get back to my weekend. Thanks for the company." She pushed her chair back, collected her tray, and stood.

"Hang on. I'm done." He grabbed both of their trays and walked to the kitchen window drop-off.

As Vala crossed the cafeteria, she thought of the magazines in her room. The small TV in the lounge. Maybe she could hack Daniel's latest password and do some internet shopping. She really needed some more cooling gel eye masks.

Cam met her at the commissary door. "You look miserable."

She thrust her shoulders back. "I'm no such thing."

"Come on. Let's get you out of here."

She blinked up at him. "What?"

He took her arm and pulled her down the hall. "You've been cooped up here for too long. Have you even been off base since we all went out the other night? No? I didn't think so. This place would make anyone crazy."

She rushed to keep up with his long strides. "I can't go off base without permission--"

He glanced down at her. "Don't worry. I'll sign you out."

Fifteen minutes, one signature and a long elevator ride to the surface later, Vala stood looking at Cam's motorcycle. The sleek, black paint shone in the sunlight. He handed her a black helmet he'd taken from Sam's office. "Here. Put that on."

She slid it on and struggled with the buckle.

He pushed her hands out of the way and fastened it for her then dropped the faceplate over her eyes. "Feel okay?"

She nodded. "Why are you being so nice to me?"

Cam put on his helmet. "Hey, I've got sisters." As if that explained it, he swung his leg over the bike. "Get on. Put your feet there and there--" He pointed to the footrests. "And hang on tight."

The big, black bike roared to life. Vala slid her hands around Cam's waist. Cam made the bike growl a couple of times, then took off, tires squealing, leaving a long streak of rubber on the parking lot.

The warm, rumbling machine between her legs, the bright sun warming her face...this, she thought, was so much better than last year's Vogue.


An hour later, they stopped for a pee break. Vala came out of the Seven-Eleven with a pack of gum, slurping a Coke Icee. Cam straddled the bike, his helmet under one arm, his cell phone at his ear. When he saw her coming he smiled.

She smiled back, enjoying the cool breeze while she could. It'd be hot in another hour. Thinking of it, she took another sip of her drink.

Cam hung up the phone and pocketed it. "Better?"

She nodded, offering him the Icee.

He took it and sipped, then handed it back. "Toss it. Let's go."

Vala took one more pull on the straw and tossed the cup in the trash. She stuffed a piece of gum in her mouth. "Gum?"

"Naw. Thanks." Cam started the bike, put on his helmet, and waited till she got settled.

She squeezed his waist to let him know she was ready and he took off again, the engine snarling. Vala leaned into the turn as they pulled out of the parking lot and into the street.

As she chewed her gum, she thought of Sal. He always had a green pack of Wrigley's, which he offered her at the start of her shift.

She took a deep breath. Sal. She missed him. She hadn't realized how much until now, when she actually let herself think about him.

She hadn't done that since they'd rescued her. There hadn't been time, with her incarceration in the infirmary, and getting her memories back, and then getting her badges and going on her first official mission.

Vala knew they'd offered her the badges in part as a consolation prize for being kidnapped by Athena. She suspected Daniel had talked General Landry into it, since the General still looked at her like he wasn't sure he could trust her.

Which made her feel like she still had to prove her usefulness. It grated. They said she was part of the team, but they never really played to her strengths.

She had contacts. She had power. She could get them ships, naqadah, information about cities on planets they'd never visited. In her time, she'd probably taken more trips through the Stargate than Daniel.

Cam pulled onto the interstate and eased the bike into traffic.

Vala closed her eyes and thought about Sal. He'd trusted her, even though she hadn't been able to pay him for her lunch that first day. He hadn't insulted her or treated her like a sex object or tried to knock her up for the good of the universe. He'd just fed her the Blue Plate Special, and when he realized her predicament, handed her an apron and given her a cot in the back room.

Now she looked out at the passing cars, the industrial parks, the trees. Life here was different from any she could remember. Even with the memories of her time with Qetesh, the ones that resurfaced when Sam and Dr. Lam hooked her up to the device, hadn't prepared her for this sense of containment.

It made her itch, not being able to go where she wanted, when she wanted. She was used to running, hiding, becoming whatever she needed to in order to survive, like she had for those weeks at Sal's.

When she took Daniel's hand in the warehouse, she couldn't remember him, but she did remember the feeling of him. After the terrifying memory flashes, weeks on the run, the disorienting way she'd taken down the muggers...Daniel's face, the look in his eyes, told that she was safe. Finally, she could relax because she was home.

She could hot wire an Al'kesh; she could lie in sixteen different languages; she could traffic weapons-grade naqadah.

Vala wrapped her arms around Cam's waist and leaned her head against his back. Why did the idea of simple friendship frighten her more than getting caught with a pack of stolen goods?


Two hours later, just as her butt was getting sore, Cam pulled off the interstate.

Vala stopped daydreaming and looked around. The exit felt vaguely familiar, like she'd seen it on TV.

Cam looped off of the exit and pulled onto local streets. Things that had given her a slight sense of déjà vu before were now ringing in her head like alarm bells. She knew this place. It made her tense; it made her want to claw like a cat, jump off the bike and run like hell.

Then it hit her: this was where they'd brought her. Cam was driving past the hotel where she'd shackled him to the bed.

They were going slowly enough that she could hear him yell, "Recognize this place?"

"Yeah." She forced herself to ease up on his ribs.

They drove through the intersection where she'd wrecked the car. Vala's neck and shoulder twinged, her body remembering the way she'd flown through the car as it rolled, even if the event, itself, was fuzzy in her mind. She still had to see Dr. Lam regularly for anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy.

As they got closer to the city, Vala realized what Cam was doing.

They circled the warehouse where SG-1 had found her and she stared at it. It was just a big, metal hut with sliding doors. Nothing scary, really, though her heart was in her throat.

"Wanna go in?"

"No. Thanks." She didn't need to see it again. She needed to keep moving forward or risk becoming a thing of the past.

Vala knew he was going to Sol's Diner before he turned down the street. She wasn't sure how she felt. She knew she could ask him and he'd just keep driving. But she missed Sal and Detective Ryan and her friends. She missed her uniform and the lingo.

"Adam and Eve on a raft," she whispered, "wreck 'em." There was something comforting about the nonsense syllables that symbolized different foods.

Cam slowed and parked the bike. He stripped off his helmet.

Vala slowly pulled hers off and looked around.

"Hungry?" he asked.

Her eyebrows rose. "You brought me all this way for lunch?"

"I hear the Blue Plate Special is great." He nodded over his shoulder. "Looks like we've got company."

Vala followed his gaze. Sam, Daniel and Teal'c walked up the sidewalk. Daniel wore sunglasses and an untucked button-down shirt. Sam and Teal'c walked a few paces behind, relaxed in their weekend clothes. Sam was laughing at something Teal'c said.

Vala looked at Cam. "Where'd they come from?"

"Oh, I called them from the Seven Eleven. Then I meandered and gave them time to catch up."

The mouth-watering aroma of Sal's meatloaf wafted out the door.

He clapped her on the shoulder. "Far as I'm concerned, there's nothing a bike ride and a bigass plate of meatloaf can't cure."

Daniel pulled even with them. "Hey." He nodded at Cam then looked at Vala and smiled.

Sam and Teal'c flanked Daniel. Teal'c glanced at the name on the door. "This is your diner, of which I have heard so much?"

Vala nodded.

Teal'c inclined his head. "Perhaps we should go in."

Cam opened the door for them. "Lead the way, Muscles."

Vala let herself be swept in behind them and as she crossed the threshhold, she realized she was nervous. What if they didn't remember her? What if they didn't like her?

"Welcome to Sol's. Table for five?" Alison, the other first-shift waitress, stood behind the counter with the coffee pot in her hand.

"Sure," Cam said.

"By the window." Alison motioned with the coffee pot and smiled flirtatiously at Cam.

He looked over his shoulder at Vala. "That okay?"

She nodded.

Ali followed his gaze and saw Vala. Her eyes widened. "Val? Val, is that you?"

Everyone at the bar swiveled to look at her. Vala felt Daniel's hand take hers, just as she noticed that all the faces were friendly, smiling.

"Sal! It's Val!"

There was a clatter in the kitchen, then Sal appeared in his sweaty t-shirt, his hair standing up, a spatula in his hand.

Then she was hugging him, those tree-trunk arms wrapped around her back. "Where'd you come from?" he asked, gruffly.

"My friend, Cam, brought me." She glanced over at Cam, who was now sitting at the table with the others, nose buried in the menu. She cleared her throat. "Anyway, I'm really glad to see you again."

Sal said, "Me too." He clapped her shoulder. "The place hasn't been the same without you."

She glanced over at Detective Ryan, who was giving her the thumbs up over his pie.

Ali came up beside her. She wore her red hair in pigtails, like Vala had taught her. "Where'd you go? It was like you fell off the face of the earth, or something."

"I know. I'm sorry. I just--"

"Hey, don't worry about it," Sal interrupted. "The good thing is, you came back. Lunch is on me," he told Ali. He turned to Vala. "Just, you know, don't go overboard. Your big friend looks like he could eat the whole refrigerator."

"Come on," Ali said. "I'm dying to meet Mr. Hot Stuff."

"Which one?" Vala asked.

Ali laughed and started for the table, notepad in hand.

On a whim, Val stopped her. "For old times' sake?"

Ali glanced at the table then back at Vala.

"I'll introduce you to Cam before we leave."

Ali handed her the order pad. "It's a deal."

Vala she went to the table and said, "Welcome to Sol's Diner. My name is Val and I'll be your waitress today."