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Twelve Months
Warning for non-specific character death.
Rated PG-13


"Vala, our holidays don't work like that," Cam tries to argue with Vala as they walk through the cafeteria line.

Vala crosses her arms over her chest. "Well, I don't see why not. Your culture embraces the holiday; why limit it to a mere 24 hour period?"

"Because Christmas wouldn't be Christmas if it lasted more than a day!" He reaches around her, arm pressing briefly into her shoulder, and grabs the last apple from the fruit bowl.

Vala snags his wrist as he moves back, guiding it to her mouth so she can take a bite first. He rolls his eyes, and lets her.


Cam walks into Jackson's lab with a box of wrapped chocolates in his hand. "Who-"

He stops talking when he sees an identical box on Jackson's desk.

Jackson looks up at him, and makes a face. It's a face Cam has come to identify as being directly related to something that Vala's done. "You, too?"

"Yeah, did she get everyone...?"

"I've seen at least a dozen people with them this morning," Daniel confirms.

Cam groans. "They're good, too, aren't they?"

"Uh huh." Jackson's box is open and Cam even spies a few candy wrappers on his desk. "So, want to take bets on whose credit card gets charged?"


Running. They're running - for their lives, why else does SG-1 run? White hot beams fly past him, and he feels a burn across his calf. Not bad, just a singe. His team; he has to get them out of here. He does a quick check - Carter in front of him, good. Jackson and Teal'c to his left, good. Vala - where's Vala-

He turns with his gun raised, fires off a few instinctive shots. She's behind him but something's not right. He slows against instinct and moves toward her, grabbing his hand around her upper arm. Vala nearly collapses into him and he can see blood staining the bottom of her shirt. She looks briefly, so very briefly, terrified.

The gate's right there, right in front of them. He barely has breath for speaking but manages to keep his voice firm, to not leave any room for her to doubt, when he says, "Vala. We're gonna make it."


Movie night. It's a good tradition; even Jackson has admitted it. Apparently O'Neil wasn't much for team bonding. The others defend him without even meaning to; they saw each of each other in the field, Carter says.

Cam thinks that's a cop out but he'd never speak ill of O'Neil. It's like a cardinal rule of SG-1. Instead he just does things his way, which really involves more suggesting than leading, and part of his way involves piling five people into his apartment to watch Indiana Jones on a Friday night. The pizza's been delivered and eaten, the beer is flowing, and Vala's already falling asleep with her head on his lap.

She's still recovering, not cleared for active duty yet. She tires easily but she doesn't complain. She never complains, not about the serious things. About bad food in the cafeteria, about not getting the gun she wants, about being denied a trip to the surface - yeah, she'll whine his ear off about any of those. But being shot, almost dying? Not a peep.

Cam looks down at her, the pale hollow of a cheek, and feels a pang at how close they came to losing her. She has hair falling in her eyes and he reaches up to brush it away. She blinks at him sleepily and smiles just a little, then turns and nuzzles her head into his leg.


Cam would never admit it, but he's glad when Vala's cleared for duty and they can resume missions again. A week of leave, a week of catching up on paperworks, and a week of assisting SG-17 have left him craving his people.

He thinks they all feel the same way. Even Jackson's irritation at Vala has a chipper ring to it, and none of them say anything when she tries to start a singalong on their hike.

Sam even starts to hum.


The campfire in front of them crackles, but it does little to ward off the chill of the planet.

"Can't wait to get home," Cam says, poking at the flame with a stick just to watch it jump.

"Why?" Vala's the only one left awake. It's not her watch but she sleeps less than everyone else anyway. It doesn't seem to effect her energy level any, and Cam secretly likes the company. Especially on nights like this.

"Because I'm bored," he says, finally putting the stick down.

Vala gets up. He thinks for a second that she's going to her tent and he almost protests, but then she just sits down beside him. As soon as she speaks, he thinks maybe he'd have been better off with her going to her tent.

"You know, if you're that bored..."

"Vala-" He's already shaking his head.

He expects her to put up more of a fight, but instead she just leans over and rests her head on his shoulder. "It's cold out here."

He hesitates only briefly and then puts his arm around her. She snuggles into his side right away, leeching heat from his body. "Yeah," he says. "It is."

Enough seconds go by that her response doesn't even seem like a response, just a comment floating unattached from the previous conversation. "Not so cold, now."


Cam stands over the grill. His feet are bare and the pavement is hot enough that he glances longingly toward the pool, where Sam, Vala, and Cassie have an impressively competitive game of water volleyball going on.

Sam's winning easily. Cassie puts up a decent fight but Vala... Cam watches her closest and realizes something.

She can't swim.

She can tread water, she can dog paddle enough to get from one place to another, but she can't actually swim. He puts down his spatula and then motions over Jackson. "Watch the food?"

"Uh-" Daniel says, startled and not exactly pleased, but Cam ignores him to walk over to the pool. He sits down on the ledge near where Vala is ever so casually loitering.

"Taking this round off?" Cam asks. Vala nods. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail but wet, and a few curls have escaped. She scoots closer to him in the water, then gasps when he suddenly pushes himself from the edge of the pool in beside her. He swims out from her and then back in, showing off a little. "You know, if you want..."

Vala lifts an eyebrow, and leans back. The position makes Cam's eyes wander completely against his will. Red bikini, nothing subtle about that. "Yes, Cameron?"

"I was just thinking, if you want to come back over tomorrow... maybe you and me could?"

Her face lights up and he almost - almost - feels bad. "Yes?"

"Well, I could..." He draws it out, and then reaches out, under the pretense of pushing back some hair that's resting against her cheek. "Teach you how to swim so you can get away from people that try to do this."

At the last second, he dunks her under.


In a moment, everything changes.

Explosions. Pain. Everyone won't make it out. He already knows that. He's seen it already; the body hitting the ground.

He lays on the ground smelling burnt flesh and if he could move he'd scream. He's angry, fury rolling from somewhere deep inside of him, because it wasn't supposed to end like this for any of them. He has no idea who made it and who didn't. He has no idea if his body's whole, if he's bleeding, bleeding out, if the sharp pain in his chest means that this next breath might be his last. He hears voices around him but he can't even lift his head.

He's angry because he lived through this once, he had his brush with death, and lightening isn't supposed to strike twice. He manages to open his eyes and the sunlight overhead sends pain screaming through him.

He blacks out and despite his fear his eyes do open again. When they open, he sees her there.


He spends Christmas in Kansas. He doesn't say much, spends most of his time in his room in bed. He still doesn't get around too well. The blast shattered his leg.

He's still angry. He can't go back to the SGC; if he does, it'll be desk duty, but he doesn't know that there's a place for him there. He's not a scientist, his skill is in the field and now he's no good there. He'll probably never walk again without a cane and even if he does, he won't be combat ready. He wishes he hadn't made it out of the ICU this time. Members of his team are dead, the mission an utter disaster. He wishes he'd been given the choice; wishes it hadn't been taken out of his hands. He might wake up every morning and feel dead on the inside but he's alive right now.

It's two days before Christmas even when Vala shows up. He's sitting on the front porch swing, a slice of pie untouched on the plate in front of him. His mother has done little else besides cook, and he knows his silence worries so he tries. He tries because apparently even when it's what he wants most, it's just not in him to give up. If he dumps out more plates of food than she realizes, well, it still makes her feel better. He's working up the will to take a bite when the car stops in his driveway. She gets out, dressed in a soft pink sweater and jeans, a bag over her arm. She leans in the window of the taxi and says something to the driver, then steps back.

The car begins to back out of the driveway and Vala turns around. She sees Cam and for a second does nothing, then she starts to walk toward him. She's got a bright smile on her face and ignores the fact that Cam doesn't.

He's not sure if he's happy to see her. He's not sure of anything right now.

"Thought you could use some company," she says, and drops her bag right there on the porch so she can sit down beside him. If it were anyone else, he'd make them go away. Anyone else, he'd yell, order them away. But, Vala... he thinks of waking up seeing her beside him, of the things he was told. It was Vala that dragged him back to the gate while the fighting still took place all around them. Vala's the reason he's alive. Should he be angry at her? Maybe he is. Maybe he can be angry and grateful at the same time. He's still got a lot of thoughts in his head to work out, but he doesn't tell her to leave, and maybe that means something. She sits a little too close, shoulder brushing his, and says, "Ooh, pie."

He hands her the plate.


Cam's first thought every morning is: ow.

He wakes up early, just like he always has. He reaches for the pill bottle beside his bed and downs a painkiller dry. It hurts going down and tastes awful.

He sits about to get out of bed when he feels a hand on his arm.

"Go back to sleep," he tells Vala. He thinks about the night before, wonders if it was a mistake. She's barely left his side in a month; it feels like it was inevitable and he's still not sure that it wasn't a pity fuck. How sad is his life if he's not above taking a pity fuck from Vala Mal Doran? A wave of disgust at himself rolls through him.

"Come back with me," she says, snaking her arm across his midsection, like she could actually hold him to her.

He shakes his head but her eyes are closed and she doesn't see. "I have to-"

He stops, because he doesn't have to do anything. Before, he'd run a few miles before breakfast. Now just making it from one room to another feels like an achievement.

"You have to come back to bed," Vala says again, curling her fingers against his side, knuckles pressing into his skin. He sighs, looks at the clock, and lays back down beside her. She opens her eyes and he looks at her and doesn't have any more idea what she's thinking now than he ever has.

He's more transparent than she is; whatever she reads in his expression makes tears well up in her eyes. She blinks them away and moves her hand off of him. "I'm sorry," she whispers, and he feels like an ass, because Vala doesn't have anything to be sorry about.

He's not sure what he'd do without her, but he doesn't know how to tell her that.

"Yeah," he says, and kisses her forehead. "Me, too."


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