Creators: Liondragon and Aphelant (shusu and aphelant)
Title: Princess Leia's Cinnamon Buns
Prompt(s): undercover + backstory + baking
Spoilers: The Return I (AU), Star Wars. Neither belong to us.
Word count: 3200 words
Warnings: She said it was okay, so we've got some INCEST. Low-key, but turn away if the mere mention's not your thing. Cross-dressing, prophylactics, pastry. Also: traumatic violation of prettiness. Thanks to serabut for pointing out the trauma. Any baking mistakes belong to Liondragon.
Princess Leia's Cinnamon Buns
by Liondragon and Aphelant
John found out he was on the mission when Rodney burst into his quarters at Cheyenne Mountain.
"Did you know you're adopted?" Rodney said before the door was shut.
"Rodney. That might've been a real shock if I didn't already know that!"
Rodney waved the file in John's face. John was still scrambling to drag a sheet or a shirt over his chest. Or his eyes. "Did you also know you're half-alien?!" Rodney said.
The sheets shifted.
It was really inconvenient that Vala was in the same bed at the time.
"So that's why Rodney fainted."
John was surprised to find himself unsurprised that he had been making time with his half-sister. It wasn't like he'd done it on purpose. He had cousins who had, and he was definitely a few steps above that.
Vala looked at the genetic scans upside-down. "Well, some inopportune comments of my father's do make a lot more sense now."
Oddly enough, Sam was even more mortified than the two of them. John gathered that all the men had stuck her with delivering the rest of the mission specs. "Apparently Qetesh loaded certain family lines with genetic markers to keep track of them."
"While breeding them for beauty and charm," said Vala. She nudged John hard. Sam found her coffee cup very interesting.
"So," John said, just to save Sam, "those genetic markers mean we can open some of Qetesh's old vaults." He pursed his lips over a smile as Vala brightened. "For the Ancient decoder ring. Not the buckets of treasure."
Vala drooped. John gave her his jello.
In retrospect, John didn't freak out because Vala was busy being upset.
"I expect things to go wrong, you know," Vala said, pigtails bouncing as she paced the tel'tak. "They so often do. But this!"
"I'm sorry?" John tried. He wanted to ask her to stop pacing, or at least put his hands on her hips so she could bounce in place. He needed both hands to fly, though.
Vala made a face. "What, it's not your fault."
"You couldn't know..." John said again. Man, he missed Teyla. She could usually cue him with an eyebrow or two if he was saying something stupid again.
"Of course not," said Vala. "And why should I be caught off-guard? Yet here I am."
John glanced at her sidewise. "You guessed we were..."
"Oh, no, I just thought you were freakishly attractive. It's just that on top of everything else, he was a baby smuggler too!"
"Yeah. I know what you mean," John said. Though he really didn't, not exactly. One look at Vala's face, however, and he was sure he knew the feeling.
Vala flopped on the floor. She tucked her brow on his lap. "He couldn't even do that right. Who mistakes a time travel device for a DHD?"
After a long moment, John said, "We're cool?"
"Oh, John. You couldn't have known either. We are definitely 'cool.' Unless," she said. "You ever forget that I'm the older one."
John smiled, and rubbed his elbow on the top of her head.
The mission was nearly over before it started. They hid the tel'tak successfully, found the cache successfully, and then walked into the wrong village.
"Oh no, back up, back up, slowly, calmly," Vala said, none too calmly.
"What's wrong?" John whispered.
"These people know me!"
"Worse!" Vala yanked at John's arm. "Someone who owes them money. Oh, too late, we're spotted."
John steered her out of the main avenue. Some of the alleys led deeper into the town, and some of them opened into the terraced fields. He grabbed a stool and headed for the fields.
There was nothing but open ground among the terraces, and plenty of farmers with pitch-forks besides. John set the stool down in front of a tree. Vala pulled on her cloak.
Ripping through his pack, John waved her off. "No hood."
"Not yet." John grimaced. She was going to hate this. "Even if we get away, we'll run into the same trouble in any of the surrounding towns. So..." He held up the scissors.
"Ohhh," groaned Vala. "Can't we hide in the tree?"
"Pitch-forks," said John. Some residents were tromping down the path toward them. "Axes."
Vala pouted, but she sat on the stool.
Quick, like pulling out medical tape, John took a pigtail and snipped.
The lock of hair was hidden on Vala's lap till John replaced it with his gun.
The group of townspeople eventually trudged past them. A few of them eyed the hair-dresser and his client, but there were fields to be harvested and no time to dawdle.
Vala's lower lip was wobbling. Just a bit.
Sighing, John surveyed his work. He poured some water from his canteen and worked it into her hair.
"I've got gel," he offered.
Vala sniffled. "I've got a hair dryer."
They were run out of town at pitch-forks' end.
"A hair cutter's union?" John said as they hid out in a tree.
"Last time, there was just the rock crushers' and painters' guild!" said Vala. "I had no idea the barbers' cooperative would take up arms!"
John knocked his head on a branch. "Ow."
Vala smirked and climbed up to pat the spot. "At least you're still pretty."
She still looked good -- different, but good, soft waves and cheekbones and a neat flip at the base of her neck -- but John couldn't say it.
"Hey," said John. "I'm keeping one. For luck." He slipped the pigtail in his pocket.
The tree shook as Vala wrapped her arms around his chest.
It started raining before they got to the next valley over. With the harvest in full swing there were fewer places to camp out, so they chanced coming into the town for shelter. Her cloak tied tight, Vala steered John through, despite her not having been there before. "Follow your nose!"
"No unions?" John said.
"None. Trust me. There's some tradition about sacred ovens."
Still, when they knocked on the half-door with the wheat tacked on, John yanked the cowl over Vala's head and did the talking. "Hi there, I'm John, and this is my brother. Val. We're looking for some work."
"We could use the help, in truth, for all hands are in the fields most of the day," said the proprietor. "We'll not hire what's not fit for the harvesting."
Vala opened her mouth. John said quickly, "My brother's mute. Nearly ran over by a wagon that missed seeing him. Good baker, though. He, uh--" John perked. "He can knead."
"Thought I'd give it a shot," John said as he helped her into the apron. She had a lot of layers on underneath. "Never worked when we did it to Rodney."
Vala glared at him and slugged him as hard as she could.
John thought he'd made a touchy situation worse, but Vala didn't seem too sore at him the next day.
Well, she had tumbled him out of bed onto the wooden floor, but that had been to get him up at the equivalent of four a.m.
He also expected to get them fired. The only baking he'd done in the last decade had been with the waffle batter at Motel Six.
Fortunately Vala seemed to know what to do. She showed him how to sift the flour, how to dig craters in it and drop the eggs in, how to judge the temperature of the water for the yeast, how to check the softness of the butter. Getting behind him, she placed her palms on his wrists and pushed the balls of his hands through the dough.
There was a tense moment when she 'talked' the proprietor with a braided loaf and a paring knife. From that exchange, she taught John how to make the local bread, watching him fold the coils and mark the dough, feeding him slices of the sampler loaf smothered in jam.
The upshot was that Vala wanted him to talk. So he asked her what the berries were, the ones she set atop muffins like small glazed jewels. She shrugged and popped one in her mouth. To answer, she dipped one in the sugar bowl and made John taste. When the other bakers had gone to the fields, he told her about the biggest sandwich he'd eaten (a deli in Manhattan), the tiniest cookie he'd ever shared (off-base in Germany), the best pastries ever (M23-488, after the locals freed them from a cave-in and celebrated with petit fours on tree leaves).
They were demoted to the stuffed pies by afternoon, but mostly so the proprietor could show Vala more recipes. John braided the edges as carefully as he could. When they came out of the oven in an explosion of meat stuffing, they just smiled indulgently at John. He wiped his brow with his apron and tried to look sheepish.
After a long evening of unlocking the cache, they crawled into the cot they shared, too wired to sleep. (They'd been offered a hammock, but Vala wouldn't get into it. John didn't ask.)
Vala let him thread his fingers through her shorter hair. She stuffed a hand up his shirt and pressed it to his heart.
John murmured in her ear, "You know that time we went to Teal'c's to see that laserdisc edition?"
"Mm-hm," Vala said. She glanced up.
He whispered, because it was a secret. "First time I saw it, when I walked out of the theater? I remember thinking, I hope Luke gets her."
Vala hummed thoughtfully. "And after you walked out of the third movie?"
There was a long silence.
"Me too," Vala whispered.
In the chill of the early morning, John waited for Vala to get out of the bathroom so they could start wrapping her up. It was too hot to keep up the layering approach. The chambers up in the cache were also getting narrower, and it was frequently Vala squeezing in first.
Vala padded out in the dark, and held up her arms so John could stand behind and start binding her chest. He'd sacrificed a t-shirt for the cause, and so went to work in just an apron and pants.
Turning her head, she said, "Now that I think about it, we must have loads of half-siblings. All over this galaxy. You were just the only one who landed where you did."
John tied off the black cloth. He knew that if Qetesh had kept close any group of humans, they'd probably been wiped out by one of the many Goa'uld wars. "Nah," he said. "You landed there."
There was a festival coming up, so they were put to work turning fruit and dough into pies. Though they were left alone most of the day, they didn't make much noise beyond the clatter of chopping knives, bubbling pots, and the thump of dough hitting the board. John watched her slice the fruit precisely while the syrups frothed over.
They made a good team. John prepped the crusts and Vala filled them -- creams, meringues, sugared fruit all glistening in their beds. While Vala marked the finished pies with fruit garnishes, John floured the board between them. Together they sketched the map of the cache's final chamber, fingertips dragging trails of butter and juice. Vala's mouth was stained with berries; John licked his lips, staring, but Vala didn't meet his eyes.
One of the bakers came by with a basket of the morning's bread, and gave them round buns that were iced and sprinkled with raisins and nuts. John searched through the cupboards while the oven roared, till he found what smelled like cinnamon.
Somberly he seasoned the sticky buns. Then he tugged on Vala's apron strings till she turned, curly hair over her eyes.
"See?" said John. He held the buns over her ears. "Just like that."
And Vala seemed to understand. She smiled, didn't say a word, and took John's wrist so she could bite into a bun. Then she gestured around her breasts -- if she was Princess Leia, did that mean she had the bikini too? -- and John laughed and thumbed the sugar from her lips.
Hours later, they burst into the darkened kitchen, an angry mob hot on their heels.
"Once they hit the town square, it'll be a door to door search!" John said. "What now?"
Vala was grabbing their things. "Quick, go find a condom!"
John froze. "This is hardly the time or the place...!"
Vala was unwrapping herself, and shaking out the Ancient crystals from her cleavage. "They look exactly like the Earth ones. Except they're made out of goat."
"Who's the older one? Hmm? Go, go!" Vala fanned her fingers in front of his nose.
"Where am I supposed to--" John moved anyway, calculating minutes in his head. The kid who stoked the oven had a girlfriend, so there was a stash somewhere. They'd always kitted up with some packets back in Pegasus, but this was the wrong galaxy. John never remembered to snatch some from the infirmary.
When he got back, Vala was whipping the cream. "Alright, keep your pants on. Here, put them in," and she handed over the precious crystals.
"I was gonna keep my pants on," groused John. He tucked them in, one by one, and tied off the condom.
"Sorry, force of habit." She swirled cream over a tart. "We have to remind Cameron."
A commotion outside sent John to the blown-glass window. "We gotta get out of here!"
"Toss!" Vala caught the condom, and shook it so it tinkled. "Let's just stay in here. We'll hide them in the cream and then sneak out later. Our faces were hidden back there. They only know us from in here."
That decided it for John. He grabbed her and pulled her to the back door. "But they don't know you!"
Vala looked down at her breasts now filling out of her t-shirt. "Oh. Okay, I'll go get the tel'tak ready. You, you be right behind me!"
John caught the waver in her voice. "Whatever you say, Vala. You're the older one."
"That's right." Vala poked him on his collarbone and took off into the night, leaving John holding the condom.
It took two hours, a clothesline, and a passable cow impersonation, but they managed to get back in the tel'tak and into orbit.
"What's in that pack?" demanded Vala from the pilot's seat. "You almost fell off the ladder with that thing."
John bit his lip and bounced a little. Still high on adrenaline. "It was kind of dark when I hid the crystals."
The tel'tak dipped. "You didn't leave them, did you? After all that time upside down and underground?"
"No! I just..." John dipped his head. "They came into the kitchen while I was hiding them, so I had to keep topping the pies with cream..." He opened the pack and took out a basket full of pies. "Uh, I think they're a little crushed."
Ten minutes later, smeared with cream from hair to chin, John added, "I guess they sank into the pie. We should probably find them before we land at the rendezvous point."
They looked at each other. They looked at the pastries.
"Five, and ten minutes flying."
"Eat the custards, and you have a deal," said Vala. She decided not to mention that she'd stolen a spoon.
"It's got to be here somewhere." Vala dug two fingers into a pie and sucked. "It's too bad we can't ring this stuff out. Some of the Lucian Alliance sorts have figured out how to track transport rings."
"We can't ring anything out till we find them." John hoped Goa'uld technology would operate with sticky fingers. They hadn't lost control yet. "...it would be pretty funny to drop a load of cream pies on them."
"It would, wouldn't it?" said Vala. "Hmm."
John glanced over his shoulder. "My turn."
They exchanged places; John was surprised when she tweaked his nose. She smelled of berries.
"You've got something on your face," Vala said.
"Hey, uh," John said, capturing her hand in his. The tel'tak wouldn't crash out in open space. Their hands slid together in a mash of sugary goo.
Vala leaned away while holding on. The star-field was bright around her head. "We were talking about possible strategies. One of them is sending me to the Ori galaxy."
John squished her fingers. "Shouldn't matter, right? It's like, I mean it is, you know--"
"Oh, of course," said Vala. She let go, smiling. "What's another galaxy or two?"
John understood exactly what she meant. He took out a knife and cut into the nearest pie. He ate it off his palm; it was sweet and tart.
"We'll find it," Vala's voice drifted back. "Sooner or later. Remember, don't swallow the goods, dear."
John lined up the rest of his pies on the floor. "Are you kidding? We'll never hear the end of it if we have to get our stomachs pumped."
"Ughhh," groaned Vala.
"Shut up," moaned John. He tried to pull the blankets up.
Rodney burst into the infirmary. "What the hell happened to you!"
"So many pies!" said Vala.
"I heard you became smuggling mules for the Ancients," said Rodney.
John flicked a drinking straw at him. Rodney dodged it.
"They did have the crystals on their person. Not in their person," said Cameron. He had a snack cake sticking out of his pocket. Vala kept shooting him dirty looks for it.
"So how many--" said Rodney.
Teal'c raised a brow in the direction of the stack of pie tins on a cart.
"Oh my god."
"Even his hair looks full!"
Vala beaned Rodney with a plastic cup. "No picking on John."
Rodney, perhaps recognizing the aegis of an older sibling, backed out of the infirmary. "Fine, fine, I happen to have some Ancient crystals to wash. Someone got meringue all over them."
"Shoo," managed Vala.
"Fly pie," mumbled John, and smirked when Vala giggled till she doubled over.