Spoilers: Everything up to Beachhead S9, with speculation upon later events...
Summary: She can't stop being who she is, but she needs to be something else – just that it's not easy to know what else she can be anymore. Vala fic, post-Beachhead, Daniel/Vala leanings, at least one sided...
A/N: Betaread by Fanwoman. Loosely linked to a previous short Vala piece, 'Everything Burns', but you don't need to have read it really.
She'd vowed she would stop this, stop writing down, stop dreaming things that can't be. She'd accepted she couldn't change, that she couldn't be the woman he wanted, if he wanted anyone anymore. She knows he's been hurt before, and she wonders if he's hurt by this. Does he miss her? It's a silly question; of course he would. He's one of them. He's had a sheltered life compared to her. He's had time to grow up in a world, an environment, where morality is possible. That's not to say he hasn't had a hard time, because she knows he's seen terrible things and done his share of fighting, but he never lost that innocence, the compassion that’s such a fundamental, incorruptible part of him.
He actually finds it hard to do wrong, even when he's doing it for the right reason. With him, she was reminded of a world where truth was the ideal, where you were yourself most of the time, free and yet perfectly fine - without struggle or ideals being inconvenient to your survival. That’s not to say it's true of everyone on Earth, just that it is much more applicable there than in the rest of the galaxy.
Of course, she's not in that galaxy anymore. Here the truth is the norm, and freedom is impossible. Perfection is expected; it's their life, a path of enlightenment, as long as it's their way. She never liked all the lies, but in her home galaxy, she couldn't stop being who she was. Now, she has no choice. It's ironic she still can't be truthful, in a place where truth is held in such honor, because she doesn't have that liberty. Speech here is limited, and she remembers what happened last time she spoke out of turn. She doubts they'd bring her back again, and she has enough to deal with as it is – being burnt alive is not on her agenda this time.
She can't say what she wants or do what she wants; she’s practically scared to think anything 'wrong'. But she has one way left to be true to herself; she can write without fear. Even if they can see, no one here can read it. So she writes to him and prays that he's coming for her. She can survive this, no doubt about it, because she's strong, but she doesn't want to have to. She doesn't want to be broken down like this, to live out a life of lies that really hurt people. Every minute she spends here, she wants to tell these people, who have become friends and almost a family, the truth. She wants to scream out in the courtyard that they are worshiping the wrong gods, that they won't have enlightenment and they certainly won't go anywhere when they die. She wants to save them, but she's alone. She couldn't manage the truth on Earth, and she still can't. The reasons are different, but it still hurts - it's like she can never change.
The only time she'd felt like she could was with Daniel. He expected more from her; he showed her what more she should be. But ultimately she's alone here, surrounded by decent people who would never the less kill her if she spoke a word of what's really going on. She doesn't want to just survive here, and she doesn't just want to get away. She wants to change. If she can't change herself, she'll change the world for others. All she needs is some support, because without someone to believe in her, she can do no more than dream like before.
Until that comes, when he comes, she will save her strength – write it all down, keeping it hidden and buried, utilizing the skills she is so good at. She will pour her heart into this journal, and she will keep it. There will be no more wasting her talents away, no more burning away of her wishes. She knows she's not perfect, but if she's going to make a difference, she has to accept what she's already got. You don't get anywhere by giving up, and if she's anything, she's always been a particularly determined kind of girl. Maybe this is no time for lies or seduction or thieving, but that makes it more of a challenge. She likes challenges. Daniel would be proud to see her 'learning' and, besides that, who knows what a nice plain pious girl can find out from decent people around here. Not to mention the SGC will look positively thrilling compared to here, when she gets back.
She needs him here, or preferably, to get back there, and she can't allow herself to think 'if'. She isn't someone who approaches things like that; she makes things happen. Things don't always go to plan, as this whole debacle illustrates so well, but she never fails to get somewhere. Enough somewheres and she might manage something, something more than she's managed in her life, something that might even stand up to his high ideals…or so she hopes. At this point, ideals are the only thing she can hold onto, and maybe she’s beginning to understand why they are so important to him. When everything else is taken away from you, you have something left that can't be removed, something more than yourself that sets the standards, that will always exist even when you cease to be yourself. She thinks she's going to need to borrow those ideals here, and they might even stick if she's lucky.
Sometimes changes come when you aren't expecting them. It’s a lesson she learned long before she ever set foot in this honest yet truthless galaxy, but in relearning that lesson, she has learned a new one. Sometimes feelings come when you aren’t expecting them, too. She never managed to be close to anyone, not with her past – and the kind of life that led to – but things have changed. To care about people opens you up to a world of hurt, but the world is always full of that anyway, and she can see sometimes you need support, something more than just surviving until another day. You need more than to simply get somewhere, you need where you're going to mean something or else you'll always find a dead end when you arrive, with nothing to be gained. You can't live a life of chasing dreams forever, someday you have to achieve something. However small it is, it's worth alot more than a thousand wishes that never come to anything more, and she thinks that maybe she might have found something she can achieve at last – something to hold onto no matter what happens here.