blue flamingos

Pitch Black

Fandom: Stargate SG1

Category/Rated: Gen, PG

Year/Length: 2009/~2,684 words

Pairing: Cam, Vala

Disclaimer: Not mine, to my eternal disappointment

Summary: A little local knowledge sometimes comes in handy; otherwise known as the one that takes place almost entirely in total darkness.

Author's Notes: For the lovely anon who bought me two months of paid time on dreamwidth!

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

hr

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me," Cam said when Vala was shoved into the windowless cell of which he'd previously been the sole occupant.

He just about had time to see Vala start to brush off her long green coat before the door slammed closed again, leaving them in complete darkness. He'd say this for the Parvians – they really knew how to make a cell feel like a cell.

"You're supposed to be on leave on the other side of the galaxy," Cam added, a little disturbed by how much he sounded like his mother.

"Do you know," Vala said thoughtfully, her voice coming from a couple of feet higher than Cam's head, far enough away that she was probably still standing in front of the door. "I do get so confused by your planetary codes, I think I may have given the lovely sergeant the wrong designation, and it hardly seemed reasonable to disturb everyone just to let them know I was leaving the planet, now did it, Cameron?"

"It is when you're coming to..." Cam decided it wasn't worth the effort of arguing, particularly when he didn't actually mind having some company after however many hours he'd spent in the dark on his own. "What are you doing here?"

"There are a number of different theories around the reason or lack thereof for any particular human to be in existence at any given moment," Vala said, sounding like she was quoting Jackson, and also like she was getting closer to where Cam was sitting against the wall.

He drew his legs up, just in case, and said, "Here in this cell."

"Right at this very moment, hoping that no small bugs have taken up residence here as well as us."

"Vala," Cam said through gritted teeth, wondering if being alone in the dark again would really be that bad. He suspected it would.

"It's all part of a cunning plan." Vala's boot bumped Cam's, and a moment later her hand touched his knee, then made its way up his thigh.

"Uh, Vala," Cam said, pleased that his voice only came out a little high-pitched.

"Please," Vala said, sounding like she was rolling her eyes. Her hand skirted his hip, then found his hand, trailed up his arm and stopped at his shoulder. "This is hardly an appropriate moment for attempting to initiate sexual relations between us."

"Says the woman who tried to grope Jackson while she and he were tied up waiting to be executed last week."

"I thought we were going to die," Vala said, like it was a perfectly reasonable argument. "Seize the day."

"Seize the archaeologist," Cam muttered.

"Exactly," Vala said brightly, and sat down next to him, pressing her left foot against his right.

Cam opened his mouth, decided that this way led only to things he probably didn't want to know about his team-mates, and said, "Tell me about the cunning plan," instead.

"By a fortuitous stroke of luck, I happened to run into Daniel and Teal'c on their way back to the gate for reinforcements to find and rescue you. Knowing of the Parvians' charming underground accommodations, I selflessly offered to let myself get arrested in order to facilitate your escape."

"How does your being locked up as well help? Unless you've got a weapon about your person."

"I have something far better than a weapon." Vala patted Cam's hand, which was a little weird, then moved away from him.

"Do you want to tell me what it is?" Cam asked, resisting the urge to reach for her again.

"Patience, Cameron." There was a scuffling sound that Cam really hoped was Vala, then a series of clicks. "That should –" Vala said, and a three foot square hole, slightly less dark than everything around it, opened up in the wall. "Now, isn't that better than a weapon?"

Vala moved until her silhouette covered part of the opening, which made Cam feel a lot better than it probably should. "Where does it go?"

"Out, of course. Before they over-threw the Goa'uld controlling their planet, the Parvians had a thriving underground escape network. Of course, they celebrated their freedom by becoming a crazy people who lock up off-worlders for the most spurious of reasons, but no-one's perfect. Shall we go?"

The tunnel was too narrow and too low to do anything but crawl and, when Vala closed the escape hatch behind them, too dark to see anything. Apparently, several hours in a cell hadn't been enough to get him used to it, because Cam couldn't stop himself blinking, squinting, trying to see.

"How far do these tunnels go?" he asked, just to hear something other than the drag of their boots as they crawled. The ground was rough but dry and firm under his hands, the air cool, but that didn't help much when every shift of his collar against his neck felt like something crawling on him, like replicator fingers reaching for him. He shivered, and reached out to touch the sole of Vala's boot for reassurance.

"All the way to the gate," Vala said.

"That's five miles," Cam said, a little horrified.

"Actually, more like seven," Vala said apologetically. "The tunnels wind a lot."

"Great," Cam muttered.

"Still, it beats getting your head chopped off for wearing the wrong kind of hat," Vala added brightly, and Cam couldn't really argue with that.

 

Later:

"You'd think an underground escape route would have lights put in or something," Cam said after they'd been crawling for a while. He was appropriately grateful for the pins holding his leg together, but they didn't exactly make crawling long distances a fun experience.

"They did. The generator was disabled when they overthrew the Goa'uld, to stop anyone using the tunnels to escape from them."

"That was optimistic," Cam said.

"You'd have to be, to overthrow a Goa'uld," Vala said.

 

Later, again:

"So do you miss Colonel Carter?" Vala asked.

"Mostly when I'm crawling through pitch black tunnels to escape being beheaded," Cam said.

"I could have just left you there to wait for someone to rescue you," Vala said, sounding hurt. Cam couldn't tell if she was faking it or not.

"Sorry," he said, erring on the side of caution. "This is a great rescue, I'll recommend it to all my friends."

"See that you do," Vala said, stern but pleased. "We should visit Atlantis. Make sure Colonel Carter hasn't forgotten us."

"I don't think we can just drop in on a base in another galaxy for tea and crumpets," Cam said. Not that it wasn't tempting. Well, maybe not the crumpets.

"Of course we can. I'm on leave, you need the time off to recover from a traumatic near death experience, Daniel can do some research, and Teal'c's never been, we can hardly leave him behind."

"I think you should put it to General Landry exactly like that," Cam said.

 

Later than that:

"I don't suppose you've got any water?" Cam asked. He was pretty sure his hands were bleeding, his knees ached, and he was starting to feel empty and light-headed from going all day without anything to eat. On the bright side, he'd gotten used to the dark, to the point that it had mostly stopped bothering him.

"I do," Vala said. A moment later, Cam crawled into her, not realizing she'd stopped. "Here."

Cam gave the roof of the tunnel a quick raised eyes look of pleading despair, even though no-one could see it to appreciate it, then said, very patiently, "Here where? It's dark."

"Of course," Vala said, like she hadn't noticed. Apparently, she'd gotten a lot more used to it than Cam had. Cam felt her move, then her hand closed around his wrist, damp with her own blood, and dragged his arm forward until his hand bumped against the side of a canteen.

The water was warm and chemical tasting, and Cam could only take small sips, not wanting to risk spilling any when he couldn't see, but it felt great against his dry throat. He fumbled the screw cap back on and handed it to Vala, heard her drink.

"Ready?" she asked.

Cam wiped his hands on his pants and really wished the Parvians hadn't taken his field kit, which contained his med kit, complete with the pain killers he'd happily trade his mustang for. "Let's go."

 

Still later:

"Which member of SG1 would you sleep with?" Vala asked. They'd been playing a 'pick one' game for the last maybe fifteen minutes, agreeing on a zat as sole weapon and pepperoni as sole pizza topping, before getting into an argument over whether they'd rather have kept just the Ori or just the replicators (non-human).

"None of you. You're my team, it'd be inappropriate. Not to mention weird."

"If you had to."

"Under what circumstances could I possibly have to sleep with one of you?"

"To secure a trade deal. To avoid death by ingestion of too many Taralian vak natels. To demonstrate your virility. Because you'd breathed in potent sex pollen. Because –"

"If I'd breathed in sex pollen, wouldn't I pretty much sleep with anyone in reach?" Cam asked, before Vala could list any more possibilities. He didn't want to think about the implications of how fast she'd come up with the list.

"So you should tell me now, then if you ever are dosed up, I can ensure you get your first choice of partner."

"That's wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to start."

"I'm just trying to be a considerate friend. I'm sure you'd do the same for me."

"Only if I was feeling masochistic."

"Why, Cameron –" Vala started.

"I meant having to survive whatever punishment Jackson derived for me," Cam said, which didn't actually sound any better.

"Well, if you don't want my help, that's perfectly fine. Maybe I'll just arrange for you to have to sleep with General Landry."

They crawled on for a while in silence while Cam tried – and failed – not to think about that mental image and finally cracked, as he suspected Vala had known he would. "Teal'c."

 

Later than that:

"Maybe we should do this back at the SGC," Cam said.

"Crawl through tunnels in the dark?" Vala asked. "I can think of things I'd rather do with my tragically limited free time."

"I meant build an escape tunnel network," Cam said. He was pretty sure they were leaving an attractive trail of drying blood behind them, judging from the way his knees now stung to match his hands, and his leg was hurting constantly enough that he could almost get used to it and ignore it. They'd been crawling for what felt like days, and the darkness, the monotony, was messing with his sense of time and distance. He was starting to wonder if there was even still a world outside of the tunnels.

"The stargate's in the SGC," Vala said reasonably. "I'm not sure how much help a tunnel network would be."

"To the SGC from the outside," Cam said patiently. "In case Earth's ever invaded for real."

"By who? The Goa'uld are mostly gone, the Ori are destroyed, even the Lucian Alliance is happy to ignore us."

"You can never be too careful."

"Well, that's obviously not true," Vala said. "If you could never be too careful, you'd never do anything, including going through the gate in the first place."

"You don't have to be too careful. There's just no such thing as being too careful."

"Are you sure you're feeling all right?" Vala asked. "Because that didn't make any sense whatsoever."

"Yes, it did," Cam said, then realized that she might have a point. "Okay, it doesn't, but I still think building an escape network is a good idea."

"We'll get right on it as soon as we get home," Vala said, and even Cam could tell she was just humoring him.

 

Latest yet:

"I think we're nearly there," Vala said, breaking twenty minutes of silent crawling.

Cam rubbed his eyes in case it was getting lighter and he just hadn't noticed, but the tunnel looked exactly the same as before – pitch black. "How can you tell?"

"The floor's getting rougher, can't you feel it?"

"Nope," Cam said honestly. "How do you know so much about these tunnels anyway?"

There was the kind of pause that usually meant the answer had something to do with when Vala had been host to Qetesh, and Cam was about to retract the question when she said, "I used to be part of their network."

"When?" Cam asked, surprised.

"Before you knew me. Before any of you knew me, or Qetesh. For about six months. I was good at it, too." She sounded defensive, but Cam didn't have any trouble believing that.

"Why did you stop?" he asked.

The silence this time was definitely the sort that meant it was about Qetesh, which, given that the planet had once been ruled by a Goa'uld, maybe wasn't all that much of a surprise.

"Stop," Vala said abruptly. Cam heard her moving about ahead of him and hoped this didn't mean they'd actually taken a wrong turn, or were about to come out in the middle of the Parvian law enforcement center. He was tempted to sit back, take the weight of his burning knees and palms, but putting the weight back on them would be worse. "Close your eyes."

"Why?"

"Because it's early evening outside, and going from dark to daylight will hurt your eyes," Vala said, her tone clearly implying how amazed she was that Cam had survived as far as becoming a lieutenant colonel.

"Right," Cam said, and did so. It didn't make any difference, except that he immediately felt like he wanted to open his eyes again.

"Here we go," Vala said, and the world on the other side of Cam's eyelids got a lot brighter. "This way," she said, tapping his knee with the toe of her boot.

Cam felt warm, fresh air against his skin, then the sun, then grass under his hands, and then he couldn't keep his eyes closed any longer, had to look. Vala was right, it did hurt, tears springing to his eyes, blurring everything, but not so much that he couldn't see Jackson and Teal'c emerging, armed, from a conveniently situated bush, the gate ahead of them, Vala next to him, blinking her own eyes and looking pleased with herself.

"Piece of cake," she said cheerfully.

"On yeah," Cam said. He didn't want to look at his palms, or the knees of his BDUs. He wiped away the tears still burning his eyes and reached impulsively for Vala to give her a hug. "Never doubted you."

"Why would you?" she asked, hugging him back.

"You guys okay?" Jackson asked, towering over them, next to Teal'c. "Because we probably don't have all night before the Parvians figure out you've escaped."

"Daniel Jackson is correct," Teal's agreed. "We would be well advised to leave promptly."

"Absolutely," Cam said. Vala scrambled nimbly to her feet, giving Cam an unpleasant image of his own bloody handprints on her shoulders, and took her 9mm from Jackson. "You're only supposed to have that on missions," he said, and fell over, his leg screaming in pain as he tried to straighten it enough to stand." Oh, fuck, that hurt."

Vala shook her head at him sadly. "I think you need someone to carry you," she said sweetly. "Maybe Teal'c can do it."

Cam glared at her, for all the good it did, because Teal'c was already bending down, lifting Cam in his arms like a child. Cam flailed, grabbed for Teal'c's arms, and found himself glaring at the back of Jackson's head as he dialed the gate.

"Now, aren't you glad I asked?" Vala said cheerfully as the gate opened.

Cam leant his head against Teal'c's shoulder, feeling his chest move with what was almost certainly laughter at Cam's expense, and decided to just pretend he's passed out.

At least until Lam ratted him out.


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