Finding Home

A/N: I've been working on this piece forever. I know exactly how it will end, but I got bogged down in the middle-how to get to that ending. I have a better idea now, so I thought I'd start posting the chapters I have done so far. Any feedback is appreciated-it may even help me flesh out that path to the ending!

Way back when, the fabulous Spacegypsy did some beta work on this, so thank you to her for that and for her ideas. However, any mistakes you find are 100% my own.

Prologue

"Vala, don't do this, don't you dare do this!"

"Sorry, darling. Guess I couldn't keep up the act any longer. Never was any good at being a good girl. Surprised I kept it up this long, really." She activated the rings. "Goodbye, Daniel."

"Vala, NO!"

Five years later…

Twirling a long blond strand of hair around her finger, she stared at the computer screen in fascination. A tricky one. Nice. She didn't get many tricky ones.

"Any closer?"

Vala looked up. "No, not yet. Someone did a very good job with this."

"Well, I'm sure you'll get it soon."

"Of course I will, love. That's why they pay me the big bucks."

He chuckled. "Indeed."

That one little word hit her like a staff blast. After five years, it really shouldn't hurt anymore, but sometimes it did. Right out of the blue something would remind her of everything she'd lost, and she'd be left reeling from the pain.

And it really shouldn't affect her like this. Bryce didn't even sound remotely like Teal'c—the timbre of his voice was all wrong. But it was still enough to take her breath away.

No matter. She gave herself a slight shake and forced herself back to the computer screen and the task at hand. No use thinking about the life and friends she'd left behind. Vala had taken a naquadah bomb to those bridges long ago, and there was no way to go back now.

Chapter One—Where It All Went Wrong

2012

What was supposed to have been an easy, simple mission—practically a vacation, Cameron had said, and why hadn't someone slapped him for that?—had gone wrong almost from the instant they'd stepped through the 'gate. One disaster after another after another. By the time they ended up captured by a bounty hunter and sold to a Lucian Alliance operative, no one was all that surprised.

They were already pretty battered when the bounty hunter handed them over and collected the hefty fee. Alliance shoulders tossed them into a holding cell and went to inform whoever was in charge that SG-1 had been contained.

Daniel leaned against a wall of the cell, eyes closed in exhaustion. "So, who's got any ideas?"

Mitchell sagged to the floor opposite him. "Uh, lessee. How long would it take for the Hammond to track us? Sam could come beam us out."

"Was not the General Hammond in a different part of the galaxy, Colonel Mitchell?"

"I dunno—who the hell knows at this point? All these hyperspace jumps—we could be anywhere. But somebody ought to be able to track us and find us."

"But will it be in enough time?" Teal'c asked solemnly. "The Lucian Alliance will not leave us alive for long."

"Eh, they'll want to torture us first. That buys us some time," Cam said.

"Only you would see torture as a positive," Daniel muttered. "You know, it is possible to take that whole eternal optimism thing too far."

"It's always gotten us through before."

"No, I think sheer stupid luck gets us through most often," Daniel shot back.

"We make our own luck," Cam said. "Hey, Vala, you got anything stashed to pick a lock with that the guards didn't find when they took our weapons?"

"Of course." Vala reached down into her bra, smirking as Daniel sputtered and Cameron slapped a hand over his eyes. She began working on the lock, pondering their situation as she did so. She'd overheard a couple of guards talking nearby. Apparently the man in charge of this particular Alliance vessel was named Matthias.

That could be useful. She actually knew a Matthias. He was ruthless and efficient but also too greedy for his own good. He'd worked with her, Keto, and Narain, on the Vandemark job that had gone so horribly wrong.

Vala didn't let herself think about Keto too often. Even years later, his death still hurt.

But Narain still owed her one...and so did Matthias.

If Vala could carry out what she was thinking, all debts would be well and truly paid.

###

(Present day)

As much as Vala missed her team and the SGC in general, she had to admit that she loved New York City.

She felt safe—it was far from the SGC, and Matthias or anyone else who held a grudge would be unlikely to find her here—she didn't have to con or steal just to eat, and she never, ever got bored.

That last part was the best, actually. She adored the constant flurry of people and activity.

So she called herself Val (yes, it was short for Valerie, she told those who asked), and she settled in quite nicely.

Okay, so maybe she missed her friends and her old life, and maybe she wished more than anything that it all could have gone differently, but in the end happiness was overrated. It was enough just to be content.

At least that's what she told herself anyway.