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Fall Harvest
Rated: R (for series)
Summary: Cam and Vala just keep circling each other.

Kansas series
I: Things That Only Happen in Kansas
II: It's Often Said that Life is Strange
III: Somewhere to Begin
IV: Crimson Crisp and Cinnamon



Fall has always been Cam's favorite time of the year, especially in Kansas.

He sits on the front porch and watches Vala, three feet away working some sort of magic with a carving knife and a pumpkin. Her hair is in pig tails and her tongue is caught between her teeth as she concentrates.

Cam sips apple cider and then goes back to the laptop in front of him. He's supposed to be answering emails, catching up on things that apparently cannot wait from people that apparently have never heard of a vacation - which actually applies to most of the SGC, Cam realizes.

He gives up the laptop as a lost cause after a few minutes, relieved at the distraction when Vala announces that she's done.

She turns the pumpkin around, and Cam has to laugh. "Vala, I'm not sure if we can display that."

Her excited looks falls into a pout. "Why not?"

"There are, you know, non-disclosure agreements."

"Surely no one will recognize this!" She looks down at the stargate carved into the pumpkin mournfully. "Oh, I know! We'll just tell them that I'm quite a fan of that television program, Wormhole X-Treme."

Cam looks at it. It could pass for what they use on that show (not that he's watched it, of course. or that he has four episodes DVR'd at home.) so he shrugs. "All right, well, just don't go showing everyone pictures of it when we get back to the base."

Vala beams at him. "Who, me? I'm the picture of discretion."

*

They head inside when the air begins to take on too much of a chill. Cam makes small talk with his parents about the weather, when the first snow will hit, how his brother's kids are doing.

Vala doesn't add much to the conversation, mostly because she's too busy with her third slice of pumpkin pie. "Your mother's going to teach me how to make it!" She says this proudly to Cam, and it makes him smile at her. It makes him want to do more, do something like take her hand or lean over and give her a kiss, but he's still coming around to the idea that maybe he can do that when he wants to, maybe he doesn't have to worry about how she'll react.

It's been over a year since he brought her here for the first time. In some ways he can see how far they've come and in some all he sees is how far still they have to go. She confuses him, frustrates him, turns him on like nothing else, and the scariest part is that he still isn't sure where he stands with her.

He knows she's stopped hanging around Jackson quite so much. He knows what she likes for breakfast and that she can sneak out of base any time she wants and he also knows that sometimes when they sleep in the same bed she doesn't sleep at all, rolls far away. He knows that sometimes she doesn't want to be touched, and sometimes it's all she wants.

He thinks he could spend an entire lifetime with her and still not have her figured out.

*

Amy Vandenburg calls the next day. She's heard he's in town, through a friend of a friend, and wants to have lunch.

Like a deer in the headlights, words spill out of Cam's mouth that do more harm than good. "Uh, sure," he says.

"Perfect - what do you say to noon tomorrow, Hart's?" She names a diner in town.

"Yeah... yeah, see you then."

Vala's curled up in a chair with computer on her lap but his conversation hasn't bypassed her. "Was that Darryl?"

She asks innocently, curiously.

"Uh, no." He stalls on responding and that pricks at her sense of perception. "It was Amy Vandenburg."

"The blonde?" Vala's eyes narrow. Cam realizes that his suspicions weren't unfounded. "'See you then.' You said 'see you then. When exactly are you seeing her?"

"Lunch. Tomorrow." Cam tries to play it off. "She just wanted to catch up."

"Right. I'm quite sure." Vala glares at him and pointedly goes back to her computer.

*

"It's not like that." He's tried pointing it out to her at least three times but she pretends not to hear. "I didn't know what to say."

"It certainly sounded like you did," Vala shoots back. "You responded rather quickly, actually."

"I was just being polite!" Cam starts to get annoyed. It's not that Vala's jealous; it's that she won't admit it. "Look, do you want to come?"

If anything, that makes it worse. "No, thank you, Cameron. I remember how you fumbled and drooled after her last time. Though I don't have any idea why."

The last part is more muttered than said.

Cam groans and walks away.

*

Lunch with Amy is fine.

He enjoys catching up, sort of. That Vala hadn't even spoken to him that morning puts a damper on things. Amy talks, mostly - about her kids, what they're gonna be for Halloween, about her home improvement projects, about her job.

She stops midway through a sentence, smiling sheepishly. "I'm sorry, sometimes I just don't know when to shut up."

He laughs, politely. "Naw, it's fine. Trust me, you've got more to talk about than me."

She gives him a doubtful look. "Maybe more that I can talk about."

This time his grin is rueful. "Okay, I'll give you that one."

"I thought so," she says, smiling. "But... how are you, Cam?"

He looks down at his cup of coffee, then takes a drink, stalling. "I'm good."

That's not really the answer she was looking for, and they both know it.

"Well, are you lonely?" She asks, but doesn't give him time to answer. "Because, I was thinking... I never made it down there for that visit..."

He'd really been hoping to avoid this. He waits a beat too long to answer and she starts to look as uncomfortable as he feels. Her warm, slightly suggestive, smile fades. "I..."

"You're seeing someone?" Amy guesses.

It's the first time he's said it out loud. He feels like it's some sort of milestone, only it isn't. It's just turning down someone he spent years daydreaming about being with, because he's somehow fallen for a girl that confuses him on the best of days.

But he has - he's fallen for her, and Amy Vandenburg is sitting right in front of him in a little sweater that hugs all the right places, and her hair pale and perfect and pretty and her eyes just the color he's remembered from days of high school dreaming, and he doesn't want her anymore.

"It wouldn't have worked anyway," he says, apologetic. "You need someone that can be around. I'm... not."

She knows it's true, he can see it in her eyes. Amy's not seeing a boyfriend, someone to have fun with. Amy wants a partner.

Cam can be a partner. Just not for her. He glances at his watch, wondering if he can politely leave yet.

He has some damage control to do.

*

When he gets back home, his father tells him that his mother has taken Vala out.

Girl's day, Frank says, and he gives Cam a look and Cam sighs. Clearly, Frank knows the story, so he doesn't bother explaining. "How mad is she?"

"Oh, son, I don't know. A little groveling, maybe some jewelry, flowers..." Frank smiles but he's only half-joking.

Cam sighs, resigned to his fate.

*

He corners Vala when she and his mom gets back.

"Let's go for a drive," he says.

She looks doubtful, but Wendy and Frank conveniently make themselves scares, and when he promises her ice cream she gives in.

*

He takes her to an ice cream place, orders her a sundae with everything on it. He figures that's a good way to soften her up.

His opening gambit: "I told her I was seeing someone."

Vala's instantly mollified, somewhat, but clearly not ready to forgive entirely. "Was she upset?"

Cam doesn't know much, but he does know something. He tells Vala what she'll want to hear. "Yeah. She told me she wanted to come to Colorado Springs for a visit, I told her I was seeing someone."

"I'm shocked you didn't agree just to be polite." Vala's mocking him, somewhat, but he lets her get away with it.

"I'm sorry, okay?" He's isn't too prideful to just lay it on the table. "I shouldn't have without saying something to you first. I wasn't thinking."

Vala waits a few moments, then smiles. "No, you weren't. But you're cute when you're guilt-ridden, so I suppose I'll accept the apology."

She holds out a spoonful of ice cream.

He leans forward and lets her feed it to him, smiling. It's possibly the silliest thing they've ever done but it makes her grin and he loves, fucking loves, that smile of hers so much.

"And, since you're all forgiven," she says. "Your mother told me about this carnival..."

*

Vala's wearing her costume - apparently, he needs to have a talk with his mother. Or maybe not, because she is adorable in the little pink and blue dress, with the shephard's crook in her hand.

He tries to draw the line when she puts the sheep ears attached to a headband on him, but she whines and pouts and he's still making reparations so by the time they get to the carnival he's wearing them.

Yes, he gets laughed at, but it's worth it it because Vala's having fun and he feels somehow like he's changed since just the day before. He holds her hand, stands close, wants her nearby, and she flourishes under the attention. They're waiting for the hay ride and she's got her arms around his waist, head resting against his shoulder. "Why can't you be so nice all the time?"

There's no malice in her words, proven by the way she leans up and presses a kiss to his jaw when she says it, but Cam feels suddenly sorry that she thinks this is something she can't have all the time. "Maybe I will," he says. He cups her cheek and kisses her mouth with more tenderness than he can remember having with her. Tenderness doesn't seem like something Vala needs; kindness, yes. But she exudes an aura of being able to handle herself. For a long time, he'd thought that tenderness would be an insult, like he thought she needed to be handled carefully, and he hadn't wanted her to question his faith in her competence. Now she's changed, they've both changed, and he doesn't have that fear.

On the hay ride he sits with straw poking his back, Vala between his legs to make room for all of the people around them. He wraps his arms around her and rests his chin on her shoulder and laughs at the jokes she makes, her wide-eyed wonder at everything. "Didn't have these back on your word?" He whispers so no one else can here.

"No," she says, turning her head slightly and kissing his mouth sort of sideways. He cups her jaw to ease the strain and prolongs it a little, enjoying her warm little sigh. "I'm glad you turned her down."

"Did you think I wouldn't?" He asks.

She turns so she's facing away from him. He wishes he could see her expression. "I thought you wouldn't actually go to meet her."

"I was never gonna... Vala, you and I are..."

"What are we?" She asks. "I don't know. You've never..."

"Whatever we are," he says, "I like it. And I don't want to lose it."

He tightens his arms around her a little, pressing his forehead to the back of her neck. "I love you."

There's silence. Deafening, resounding silence. "Are you sure about that?"

"Vala." He groans, pained. To his right, a little kid is wailing. It's not the setting he should have picked, he realizes, but he's let his mouth get ahead of him again. "I'm sure."

"Well. I suppose that's all right, then."

He thinks he knows what that is in her voice; fear. He knows it because he recognizes it, because he feels it. But she leans back against him and covers his hand with her own until he links their fingers together and squeezes. Maybe she'll say it back, eventually; maybe she won't, maybe she's been through too much to really want to offer that up to anyone again. But even if she doesn't, she knows he does, and she doesn't seem to mind.

He'll go ahead and consider that a win.
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