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All's Fair in Love and Monopoly

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“Even your God took a nap on the seventh day, didn’t he?”

Hearing Vala demonstrate even rudimentary knowledge of the Bible is surprising enough for Daniel to turn and stare at her.

She’s leaning against the doorjamb, a shopping bag in one hand.  Taking a moment to think, Daniel can confirm that it actually is Sunday.  They’ve been on downtime for a week now, most of which he has spent here in his office, digging through a backlog of work.

“What exactly are you suggesting?” Daniel finds himself asking, despite knowing he can only be walking into trouble.  He blames the blunder on the fact that he hasn’t actually seen all that much of her these last seven days.  Not that her absence should bother him, but for some reason it does.  He refuses to acknowledge that he may have actually missed her.

Vala takes a few steps into the office.  “Teal’c has been explaining something called ‘bored games’ to me.  I figure I am never going to get more bored than I am right now.”

Daniel blinks at her for a moment, but doesn’t bother to correct her misunderstanding. “Has he?” he asks, wondering what exactly this has to do with him.

She nods.  “He gave me this.”  Reaching into the bag, she pulls out a copy of Monopoly still wrapped in protective cellophane.  Her wrist rolls, the box twisting side to side with the rumble of pieces moving around inside.

“Can you tell me what it is?” she asks.

“Teal’c didn’t explain it to you?”

“No,” she says with a shrug. “He told me to ask you.”

Strange.  Daniel peers down at the box, trying to work out Teal’c’s motives.  “Did he say why?”

She shrugs, dropping the box on the table.  “Not really,” she says just a tad bit too nonchalantly.

His eyes narrow in suspicion.  “Vala.”

“What?” she says, throwing up her arms.  “I was just trying to get a little information out the man, for goodness’ sake.  He’s been driving me insane!”

A really childish retort about how she likes getting a taste of her own medicine is on the tip of Daniel’s tongue, but he bites it back, refusing, for once, to rise to the bait.

Vala is now pacing back and forth in front of the door.  “I mean, would it kill him to tell us something about what our lives were like?  Fifty years!”

Fifty years.  Daniel still has a hard time wrapping his mind around that.  He’d been annoyed too at first when Teal’c was so stubbornly silent about those erased years, but after awhile he realized it’s probably wiser.  Who wants to know what might have happened in such close quarters for so long?

Glancing at Vala again, he wonders how long it took for her to go completely stir crazy.  Or how long it had taken him to try to shove her out an airlock.

“What exactly does Monopoly have to do with this?” he asks.

She stops pacing, glancing at the box again.  “I have no idea.  He just said, ‘Take this and cease your questioning, woman.’  But he had that look in his eyes, you know?  Like he was giving me some giant hint.”

As far as hints go, it’s fairly obscure.  “Maybe you just really liked playing it.  It was fifty years.”

“But I didn’t ask him what my favorite hobbies were!” she blurts.  The moment the words are out, her eyes widen, looking distinctly like she hadn’t meant to admit that.

Daniel straightens a little, suspicion beginning to tingle at the back of his mind.  “And what exactly did you ask him?”

He rolls his eyes at the blatant lie, but knows getting something out of Vala once she had her shields up is nearly impossible.

Picking up the box, it finally clicks in Daniel’s mind that Teal’c hadn’t just given her a copy of Monopoly, but told her to ask him about it.  Though it’s possible Teal’c had just been trying to get rid of Vala and thought hoisting her off on him would be amusing, Daniel can’t help but think there is more to this.

And considering he has a pretty good idea what Vala had really been asking Teal’c about…

“So…are you going to show me how to play or what?” Vala asks, sitting down on a stool across from him.  She looks a little tentative beneath her bluster as if trying to pretend she doesn’t really care which way he answers.

His first instinct is to hand back her shiny new toy and kick her out of his office as quickly and firmly as possible.  Humoring her is just asking for trouble.

He’s not sure who’s more surprised when he agrees.

“Oh,” she says, sitting up a bit taller.  “Well, okay.  Are there any particular rituals I should know about?”

“Just that I get to be the racecar,” he says as he pulls off the cellophane.

Her head tilts to the side, her eyes narrowing in confusion, but she still doesn’t skip a beat.  “If anyone’s a racecar, darling, it’s me.”

He pulls off the top of the box, taking out the board, watching Vala’s eyes widen at the sight of stacks and stacks of multicolored currency, the racecar completely forgotten.  Maybe he can get her to take the thimble if he tells her it’s a shot glass.

“You know the money isn’t real, right?” Daniel asks as she begins to take the bills out, her thumb moving with eerie efficiency as she counts it.

“What?” she asks distractedly.

“Never mind,” he says with a grin, reaching for his cup of coffee.  He can’t explain why, but he has the weirdest feeling that teaching her to play Monopoly might actually be fun.

“Teal’c also told me to ask you about something called ‘strip Monopoly’.”

Daniel spits his coffee all over the table.

* * *

Fifty years earlier…

Teal’c is sitting with Sam in the Daedalus’s commissary late one night when Daniel appears, a bit out of breath.  Despite the close quarters they’ve been stuck in, neither of them has seen much of him for the last few days and it doesn’t escape their notice that Vala has also been scarce. 

Daniel seems as surprised to see them as they are to see him.  His hair is mused, his clothing rather rumpled, but there is something awake about him that Teal’c has not seen in many months, or perhaps even years.

“Hey, Daniel,” Sam says, putting down her cup.  “Long time, no see.”

Daniel runs a hand through his hair, disheveling it even further.  “Yeah, sorry.  The Asgard archive was just driving me nuts.  I had to take a break.”

Teal’c and Sam share a look.

“What?” he asks, the picture of innocence.

“Daniel,” Sam admonishes, her lips curling with barely concealed amusement.  “We’re not stupid.”

The familiar stubborn glint appears in Daniel’s eye as he crosses his arms over his chest.   “I don’t know what you mean.”

Teal’c knows vague allusions will get them nowhere.  “How is Vala Mal Doran?” he asks pointedly with great seriousness despite the barely contained snort of amusement coming from Sam’s direction.  “I have not seen her for nearly as many days as you have been absent.”

Daniel sputters momentarily at the direct attack, apparently having not yet prepared himself for this particular line of questioning.  Eventually he settles for blurting, “Monopoly!”

“Excuse me?” Sam asks with the same amount of incredulous confusion that Teal’c himself feels at the bizarre statement.

“I’ve been teaching her to play Monopoly, okay?  That’s all.”

Daniel has never been particularly good at lying.

Looking closer at his friend, Teal’c can now make out a dark mark low on Daniel’s neck.  “You seem to have sustained an injury, Daniel Jackson. I was not aware that particular game was so hazardous.”

Daniel looks confused before Teal’c pointedly nods to his neck.

“Maybe he’s teaching her strip Monopoly,” Sam helpfully supplies.

Teal’c can no longer contain his amusement, his lips twitching.

Daniel’s face has turned a becoming shade of crimson.  “You guys suck,” he complains, collapsing into a seat next to Sam, apparently having realized his pathetic attempt at subterfuge is doomed to failure.

Sam grins, wrapping her hand around Daniel’s arm and squeezing warmly.  “You look happy,” she observes.

Daniel turns to look at her, his hand covering hers.  “I think I am,” he says, something like surprise in his voice.

“Then may I be the first to congratulate you both,” Teal’c says, “and wish you many fine years of…playing Monopoly.”

At that, Sam finally looses her battle with mirth, trying to stifle her laughter with her hands as Daniel lets out a long-suffering sigh.

“I am never going to hear the end of this, am I?” he grumbles.

“Indeed you will not, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c confirms, already mentally planning to have Sam replicate a copy of the game as soon as she is able.  The possibilities for mischief are truly endless.

Teal’c smiles.