"It's just all Air Force brass, the IOA committee members, and their wives," Daniel replied distractedly and pushed his glasses back up his nose, without looking away from his laptop screen. "Landry's last ditch attempt to get them to loosen the purse strings, give the SGC back its funding."
"Surely you're permitted to take a date, Daniel," Vala wheedled, her tone both breathy and simpering as she pecked Daniel's cheek and knocked his glasses askew.
"Ah, no, no, that's not a good idea. Official evening, lot riding on this..." Daniel carefully removed his arm from Vala's limpet hold and set about tidying the immaculate bookshelf in an attempt to put some distance between them, "...best not...you'd be bored, politicians aren't the liveliest company."
"You're not the liveliest of company Daniel, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, I'm quite happy to spend time with you, in this..."
Vala looked blandly around the grey concrete interior of Daniel's SGC office, then at the clutter of Ancient and Goa'uld artefacts and abandoned coffee cups that covered the work surface, and shrugged. "...rather depressing tome that tries to justify itself as your life."
Daniel sighed, like the hungriest of stray dogs, Vala would never give up a bone and it'd be far more peaceful for everyone if they allowed her to have it. "Fine. I'll ask Landry – but if he says no, there's nothing more I can do."
"Thank you Daniel!" Vala squealed while clapping her hands in a perfect imitation of a trained dolphin at SeaWorld. "I wonder if Samantha will want to go shopping, I'll need a new dress, I need to look pretty so I don't embarrass my Daniel at the big fancy government party."
Daniel thought back to the Appropriations meeting Vala had attended and knew that her wardrobe choices had nothing to do with his embarrassment. He'd been about to remind her of that when she skipped out of his lab; no doubt in search of Carter.
'Why did these things always happen to him?'
"It's not fair!" Vala pouted then threw herself huffily across Daniel's bed and the blue velvet tailcoat that was part of his costume.
"Yes, well," Daniel mumbled, his voice strangled as he twisted his white stock into submission around his neck and tucked its tails behind his waistcoat. "Landry still hasn't forgotten, nor forgiven your behaviour at the subcommittee hearing. You know, if you jus-"
"It's mean! You look so handsome and you're going off to what's clearly more than a boring government function and I feel like that cleaning lady in the brown dress who sings to birds and dresses rodents in miniature human clothes!"
Daniel tried to hide a smirk behind annoyance as he tugged the jacket out from under Vala's sprawled and rather shapely body. "Cinderella?"
"Yes, that's the one! Sheeee goes to the castle, gets to wear a pretty dress and dance with a prince – admittedly he's not much of one, I've met far more interesting people in the spice colonies of Narekai – and get out of the cellar for a night."
"I think if you remember she wasn't supposed to be there either." Daniel chuckled, unable to resist teasing Vala because she did have a way of pouting that warmed him right through. "I've put my laptop in your room with some of those romantic films you said you liked last movie night, and I've paid for a pizza."
Vala rolled over onto her back, crossed her arms below her breasts and huffed at the ceiling. "Romance, just what a girl needs when she's missing out on a party – I'd rather be tied to a chair and made to listen to General Landry's health-and-safety debriefs for the rest of my life."
"That's a bit dramatic, don't you think?" Daniel answered without thinking about who he was talking to, and felt a dull ache in the back of his skull where, no doubt, Vala was giving him a look similar in intensity to that of a Goa'uld ribbon device.
"Daniel, you had better be on your way; the General doesn't like it when his pet hole-digger is late."
Daniel's flustered protests stuttered into silence as Vala got to her feet, handed him his keys and security pass, patted his cheek and pushed him out of his own doorway.
It was just as Logan was telling Beth the story behind her brother's death, and Vala was unashamedly on the edge of her metaphorical seat, that a five-two knock sounded on her door. She threw the half eaten slice of cheese pizza back in the box and licked her fingers. "Just a moment!"
The marine, whose shoulders filled the doorway with hardly a spare inch, was holding a large white box with an outrageous red bow. "This came to the front gate for you Ms Mal Doran. Driver asked if you could be topside in twenty?"
Vala felt the excitement bubble up and out in a laugh so full of girlish joy. She knew her Daniel wouldn't leave her behind, no matter how terse he pretended to be.
The gown was beautiful, silver sparkles sprinkled like stars across the strapless bodice of the midnight-blue princess cut dress, and for a moment Vala couldn't take her eyes off the silken fabric. Even as Katesh, she'd never possessed anything so lovely.
Nineteen minutes and twelve seconds later, the guards on the late shift were graced with a sight never before seen at the mountain, as Vala Mal Doran – raven hair piled high upon her head – rode away to her very first ball in a white stretch limousine.
Her driver hadn't been able to answer any of Vala's excited questions and eventually she had settled back in the white leather seat and wriggled her toes so the city lights danced on her silver heeled shoes. 'Would Daniel meet her when she arrived? Or would she have to look for him in the crowd, like Cinderella had done?'
Vala honestly didn't mind either way; she was going to the ball, far far away from the drudgery of a top secret underground bunker.
The reception rooms were brightly lit by what seemed to be a thousand candles in crystal cut chandeliers. Mixed through the dress uniforms were a myriad of civilian men and women dressed in bright festive coloured silks and dripping with jewels. How could anyone not want to be here? Vala could feel the thrill of excitement brush over her, but the flush in her cheeks - that was for her prince.
"Why, Miss Mal Doran, aren't you the belle of the ball."
Vala startled back from her imaginings to find a tall and handsome blonde gentleman standing before her in a blue tailcoat. It was less fancy than Daniel's; was trimmed with silver buttons in rows down his chest, and complimented the white breeches and polished black knee boots he wore.
"Thank you, Cameron." Vala smiled, the candlelight sparking in her eyes as she put her hand in Cam's outstretched one. "Have you seen Daniel?"
Cam ducked his head, tried to appear calm as he led her further forward into the room. "I have a confession to make."
Vala halted, uncharacteristically quiet by his side, waiting.
"Ahh..." Cam paused like he was stalling for time. "...Jackson told me Landry had refused you permission to come tonight, said how upset you were about being left behind. So I got Sam to help me organise everything."
"Daniel doesn't know I'm here?" Vala asked in a small voice that Cam had to lean close to hear.
"Nope, not yet anyway." Cam tucked Vala's hand through his crooked elbow, rested it on top of his forearm, and patted it gently in reassurance. "But I'm prepared to squire you about, maybe dance a little, till he spies us and decides he must have you."
Vala laughed despite herself and slapped him playfully on the arm; nerves melting under the warm drawl of Cameron's southern charm.
"It would be a shame not to dance in this dress."
"Indeed it would."
Vala laughed again, Cameron's intense blue eyes daring her to be unhappy in this place. "Miss Mal Doran, might you do me the honour of dancing the next with me?"
"I shall Colonel Mitchell." Vala couldn't help the flutter in her heart or the smile on her face as Cameron led her into the middle of dancing couples and settled one warm palm on her bare back; surely he could feel her trembling.
Cam placed Vala's left hand on his shoulder, took up her right with his left and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Vala looked up and saw a secretive smirk playing on her handsome friend's face; he'd keep her from ruining everything then Daniel could not be angry with her. "Thank you, Cameron."
'Cameron really was adorably cute when he blushed like that.'
"Right, Miss Mal Doran, time to wear-in those glass slippers of yours." Cam laughed, and before Vala could ask what he meant, he was turning her within a whirl of colour, and music, and glittering stars.
Summary: Vala wants to go to General Landry's party, but politicians aren't the liveliest company...