"You are fortunate in your
The President looks around him, thoughtfully regarding the SGC
personnel going quietly about their business, his own bodyguards, calm
in their vigilance. He smiles then at General Hammond, who stands close
by, attentive but in no way intrusive. "Exceedingly fortunate, High
Councillor," he agrees.
My gaze returns, as it has so often, to Doctor Jackson, silent,
melancholy and again distracted, his eyes dwelling on the Stargate in
the room below. He seems alone in the midst of all these watchful
General Hammond and the President are aware of my too-frequent
observations of this young man, though he is not.
"I was most impressed by the amendments Doctor Jackson made to the
Treaty between our two peoples. I found the document inspiring," I
confess, embarrassed at the naïveté and romanticism of my
"Inspiring," the President says dryly, "is not the word most often
associated with Earth politics."
Hammond's lips twitch responsively. "Doctor Jackson felt strongly that
accentuating the similarities - the bonds between our two peoples -
would ultimately prove more productive."
"I am not aware that Doctor Jackson permitted to remain a single phrase
suggesting there were two peoples," I counter.
The President sighs. "If I could get away with that in front of
"He believes, does he not?" I ask General Hammond, nodding to Doctor
Jackson. "The force of his arguments was compelling," I hint. "There
was - faith." I find it difficult to quantify my own response. Emotion
is rarely to be embraced; circumstance does not allow such luxury. I
have been both soldier and politician longer than either of these two
humans have been alive, I stand in Garshaw's place to lead my people in
a war which pre-dates the history of the humans of this long lost
world. I above all can least afford to indulge sentiment.
"Doctor Jackson is always sincere," the President replies, surprising
Hammond. "Passionate," he admits, "but sincere in his advocacy. That
carries weight around these parts. It's a rare enough quality."
"I agree." With some pride, Hammond glances across at the oblivious
"I feel that signing the Treaty was but the first step in the forging
of our alliance. The Tok'ra are aware that we are held in some
suspicion by those among your people." The crass, antagonistic O'Neill
comes immediately to my mind. "We are at war with the Goa'uld and each
time we meet with representatives of the SGC, we are in crisis. Would
it not be beneficial for us to learn more of each other as people and
not as warriors?"
"If we're to honour the spirit of the alliance as well as the letter of
the law," Hammond interjects quickly, before his President can speak,
seizing the opportunity, as I thought he might, to gather additional
intelligence about us.
"That is what I feel," I respond. "Perhaps Doctor Jackson?" I suggest
politely. "He appears genuinely interested in our ways and if his word
carries weight among your people?"
"That's a good suggestion," the President agrees hurriedly, his eye
drawn by a hovering, expectant aide. "Please excuse me."
"Do not stand on ceremony on my account."
Relieved, the President shakes my hand, says all that a politician must
on occasions such as these, and withdraws, leaving me to General
"The death of Martouf is a difficult loss for us all and one which I am
certain is raising tensions." I need say little more. Hammond is as
aware as I am that the only one of his personnel who has made a real
effort to speak with my brother Tok'ra is Doctor Jackson. His teammates
did not attend the Treaty ceremony or the reception. "Major Carter?"
"Was upset," Hammond says firmly.
"Understandably, given the part she played in the death of Martouf," I
respond sympathetically. "Though the suspicions she expressed regarding
our intentions towards the internment of Martouf and Lantash were
unwarranted. Anise does what she can for our people and our cause," I
hint delicately, calmly awaiting Hammond's measured acceptance of my
offer to lay the minds of his people at rest with regards to our
intentions on this one matter at least. The man is no fool.
"If you were to take Doctor Jackson back with you," he suggests slowly,
weighing the advantages of the situation and particularly the timing of
"It would perhaps allay some of those fears."
"Why don't you ask him yourself?"
Hammond could issue an order but he chooses not to and I accept his
advice with alacrity, finding this odd courtesy of his towards Doctor
When I reach him, Doctor Jackson looks up at me, smiling a little in
that hesitant way of his. Earlier, he spoke easily and naturally with
me, his interest in all I had to say genuine and palpable, his
questions flowing. I have watched him since our quiet conversation as
he speaks with others, the distance he requires, the small, defensive
motions of his body. Even when with his colleagues I witnessed subtle
signs of discomfort and distancing. I am honoured that he feels no such
need with me.
"How is Major Carter?" I ask him sympathetically.
For a moment he seems at a loss and I recall belatedly that he has not
been approached by any of his teammates since Martouf tragically
revealed himself as the Zatarc agent. "Your friends are with her, are
Doctor Jackson relaxes. "Sam - Major Carter - is very professional,
"Martouf spoke highly of her," I assure him. "As does Selmak. You may
have noticed he at least is far from easy to impress." He flushes with
pleasure at this praise of his friend, his eyes lighting. I find myself
bemused and staring, wondering when I have seen eyes so intense, so
expressive a blue as his. A most foolish fancy, but still, I stare.
"A part of Martouf will always live on in Sam. She has Jolinar's
memories of him as well as her own."
Doctor Jackson is a gentle man, a quality for which we Tok'ra have
little time. Garshaw spoke of this, as did Kel'tar, rescued so
unexpectedly from Sokar by this idealist and his friends. Even the
bounty hunter, the 'great' Aris Boch himself, was charmed. If I am no
less foolish, at least I am surrounded by fools.
"Major Carter is concerned about our intentions. About possible
experimentation," I remind him gently. "I have a proposal for you,
Doctor Jackson, which may help to allay her fears."
"Daniel," he invites me, bowing respectfully, curious now.
Gratified by the gift of his name, I too bow. "General Hammond is not
averse to you accompanying my party back to Vorash to learn more of the
Tok'ra, our customs and our history. We seek to honour our alliance in
spirit as well as in letter."
Daniel frowns, glancing down again at the Stargate and the personnel
clearing away the debris of Martouf's destruction. When he looks back
at me, all hesitance is gone. "Thank you," he says clearly. "I'd like
that, very much."
I do not know him well but feel compelled to speak. "Do you think of
your friends? We can postpone if you would prefer it?"
"That won't be necessary," Daniel responds firmly. "If I was needed,"
he murmurs, more to himself than to me, I feel.
"Forgive me for the interruption, High Councillor."
We turn at once to find Anise standing sombrely before us, General
Hammond at her side.
"I wish to ask your advice, Doctor Jackson," Anise informs him.
"General Hammond. I am most perturbed by the day's events. I did not
suspect Martouf of being the Zatarc and because of that, I feel I have
contributed to his death."
Daniel offers no platitudes or thoughtless reassurances.
"I am also concerned about the damage I may have caused to Colonel
O'Neill and Major Carter."
"Me too!" Daniel says sharply.
"Our understanding of the Zatarcs is limited," Anise reminds him, her
manner surprisingly conciliating for one noted among us for her
forthrightness. "I have made a promise to Major Carter which I intend
to keep. Martouf's death must have meaning. His loss must be of help to
others. My judgement was faulty but my methodology - my technology - is
sound." She turns to General Hammond. "I must request that Colonel
O'Neill make himself available to me for further testing," she demands
"Excuse me?" Daniel snaps, glowering. "After what happened to
Lieutenant Astor? After what could have happened to Jack? And to Sam?"
"Easy, son," Hammond advises him, placing his hand on Daniel's
shoulder. They exchange a look and Daniel's face softens.
"That is exactly my concern!" Anise steps forward, her urgency
unmistakeable. "General Hammond, you must understand the opportunity we
have here. The Colonel and Major Carter are the only subjects I have
been able to test who have generated false readings and yet have not
been Zatarcs. I must refine the device's analysis of false recall to
protect future subjects. The data I can gather from further testing
would prove invaluable!" she argues passionately.
I notice that Daniel's scientific interest has been caught. He appears,
reluctantly, to agree with Anise. Hammond notes this as well as I.
"A control subject," Daniel acknowledges unhappily.
"I do not ask that Major Carter submit herself to further testing,"
Anise assures him. "She has been through enough. My host is in
"And of course in her emotional state, the readings might be false,"
Daniel suggests sweetly.
I am forced to hide a smile at this unexpected evidence of his
astuteness, as is General Hammond.
Anise has no such difficulty. Nor does she deny she has considered this
"You're sure the colonel would be in no danger?" Hammond challenges.
"I am positive," Anise responds confidently. "He is not a Zatarc."
"Scientists here used similar techniques when they were designing lie
detectors," Daniel muses aloud. "Which, ultimately, is what the Zatarc
detector is, albeit a very advanced one. Control questions can be used
to identify particular emotional responses and their charting by the
device and whether they read correctly if the answer was false. Of
course, that requires a co-operative subject," he suggests
Once more, Hammond is forced to look down quickly to hide his amusement.
Even Anise appears daunted.
"I could - er - break the news. If you'd like," Daniel suggests
blandly, the gleam of mischief more pronounced.
It is long since I have felt such an attraction. I would know more of
this intriguing young man.
"You want me to what?" Colonel O'Neill howls indignantly, abruptly
ceasing his restless pacing of General Hammond's office. "Martouf isn't
cold and you want to strap me back in that thing?"
"Colonel!" the general
warns him, low-voiced and grim.
This very awkward. It is rare my symbiote and I are so at odds with one
another and it is the first time in our long history together that
Anise is as interested in a man as I. She has never failed to respect
my desire to share physical intimacy and affection with another or to
accommodate any of my wishes, making many generous compromises only
because it would please me. We were ill-prepared for each of us to be
attracted, and to a different man. It is most upsetting.
"Look, Anise," Colonel O'Neill addresses me, his manner a trifle more
"Freya," I correct, hurt by his careless look. Am I so very unimportant
to him that my feelings do not matter? Reassurance whispers from my
symbiote and I cannot help but acknowledge in turn to Anise that were
her Doctor Jackson here, Colonel O'Neill would not behave so. Anise's
presence comforts with a gentleness she shares only with me, and I
understand that her withdrawal here was not meant to give me pain. It
was intended as an acknowledgement of my feelings, not hers. "I am
General Hammond silences me with a sharp look and proceeds to relay to
the colonel all that I had previously explained to him and High
Anise and I are surprised and pleased by the High Councillor's desire
to return with Doctor Jackson to Vorash. He appears to me to be one who
will learn as well as teach. His knowledge impresses even Selmak and I
am sure we will each gain much from sharing further scientific
encounters. I do look forward to the opportunity. It is rare for Anise
and I to find an individual who shares our passion or one who is so
challenging both in his beliefs and of ours.
"Daniel knows about this!"
Another eruption of outrage draws my attention again to Colonel
O'Neill's handsome, infuriated face. "He in fact suggested a number of
questions I might ask," I point out helpfully. The colonel is
speechless. "Control questions," I elaborate, mindful of Doctor
Jackson's explicit instructions on how I was to proceed on this point.
"Questions to which Doctor Jackson had the answers."
"He's added mind-reading to his impressive list of accomplishments?"
O'Neill glares at me. "Oh. I forgot," he says with great sarcasm.
"That's your job."
His opinion of my abilities is apparent to all but he nevertheless
feels the need to vocalise at length. I withstand the storm which
breaks over my head, conscious of Anise's careful withdrawal. General
Hammond offers no further assistance as O'Neill rants. We must simply
wait until he has calmed himself again.
Doctor Jackson suggested that when Colonel O'Neill asked which
questions, his participation was assured. It appears he was right. At
least, the colonel offers no further voluble protests as I escort him
to the isolated medical room Doctor Fraiser made available to us.
She and Major Carter are sequestered somewhere, no doubt angrily
commiserating over our refusal to allow them to examine Martouf's body.
He was taken through the Stargate immediately. There are scientists on
Vorash more skilled than we in such medical matters. There is some
small hope we can save Lantash at the least, and if Martouf is in
stasis, perhaps in the future we may help him too, though Anise and I
both acknowledge that it is more likely it is he who will once more
serve his people. There may be answers imprinted in his physiology,
markers we may use to search out other Zatarcs.
I feel no need to share this information with either of the two women
and trust that on Vorash, High Councillor Per'sus will distract Doctor
Jackson as he must.
The Jaffa Teal'c greets us as we enter the medical room, his demeanour
suggesting he will not be moved from his watchful position, close by my
side. I glance to Colonel O'Neill and see that he has no objections to
Teal'c's presence. He appears more relaxed, making a number of jovial
comments to which Teal'c reacts with seeming indifference as he helps
O'Neill into position, attaching the memory recall device at my
direction. Only then does he explain his presence. General Hammond sent
him to assist. It is not clear whether the Jaffa means to assist me or
to assist O'Neill.
I feel excluded. Much is communicated between the two men which does
not need words. O'Neill was perhaps more likely to question Teal'c's
absence than his presence. It is at once familiar and strange. Anise
and I share such a bond yet we do not value it as we should in humans.
Their diversity and individuality is no less or more a weakness than
our mutual dependence, the loss of one as devastating to the whole as
the loss of Anise would be to me or I to him.
It should be easier for us to communicate. We cannot always be at odds.
"I will begin," I announce, activating the device. "Please direct your
vision here." O'Neill sighs loudly but gazes obediently at the laser.
"What is your favourite colour?"
Teal'c inspects the monitor with some interest. "You are a Zatarc,
O'Neill," he observes solemnly.
The colonel appears to find this very amusing.
"Who is your favourite actress?"
"Mary Steenburgen," the colonel responds eagerly, smiling as if at some
pleasing thought. "She seems very nice."
"Remember to be as specific as possible," I warn him as my monitor
indicates he is not being truthful with me. "We are seeking to help
others in the future who may be Zatarcs, Colonel. I do not wish them to
share the fate of Lieutenant Astor and Martouf." O'Neill is silenced by
this merited rebuke. "I must learn from you what I can in order to
enable me to adjust this device to differentiate as accurately as
possible between a false memory caused by inadvertently faulty or
inappropriate recall and that which is caused by Zatarc programming. I
would appreciate your co-operation."
"Very nice and very sexy. Er, Mary Steenburgen, I mean," he reiterates
uneasily and unnecessarily.
Satisfied by the accuracy of this response, I consider the list of
questions. Naturally, Doctor Jackson is unaware of what transpired in
the second test which cleared his friends, but he did suggest a mix of
questions to ensure the widest possible range of responses for the
device to measure, some of which he was sure his taciturn friend would
be reluctant to answer.
"What is your second favourite sport?"
"I wasn't aware Daniel knew which was my favourite sport," O'Neill
"Colonel!" I snap, exasperated as the reading shows his recall is
false. "Once again, I remind you that I require your co-operation. I
will ask questions which allow you to dissemble but this is not one of
them. Please answer correctly."
"Curling," he responds in a more quiet tone than any I have yet heard
"That is better."
He continues to co-operate as I ask each of Doctor Jackson's control
questions in turn, the readings consistently measuring true and
reasonably accurate recall of facts and events. I am pleased by our
"In this next phase of the testing, I will ask questions which are more
specifically about your feelings. I leave the choice to you whether to
lie in your answer or not." I glance at him to be sure that he
understands. "It is vital that in the event of a memory reading as
false, you are then absolutely honest when I question you about the
veracity of your answer. Please be prepared for that. Some of what I
ask may be difficult for you to answer. In that event, you must be
honest with me if you genuinely feel confusion over what you are able
to recall. We will refine the line of enquiry as I attempt to quantify
the device's ability to predict true and false recall of feelings."
"As hot as Mary Steenburgen is, I think George Hammond is hotter."
I believe he is signifying assent. Smug amusement at his inappropriate
irreverence ripples from Anise.
"You said earlier that you would rather die than lose Major Carter."
O'Neill's face goes stony. "Yes," he snaps.
I did not intend that to be anything more than an opening statement to
my line of enquiry, but a swift glance to the monitor shows his answer
to again be accurate even though he is angry with me. I am heartened by
this evidence that the device can measure reiterated recall with some
degree of consistency, at least.
"You also said that you care for her far more than you are supposed to."
"Yes. Can we move it on?" he commands impatiently.
"Would you have left Teal'c alone behind that force field?"
Teal'c smiles benignly.
"Would you have left behind Doctor Jackson?"
"In a heartbeat!"
The reading is emphatically false.
Both the colonel and the Jaffa find this very amusing.
I find it intriguing that whereas O'Neill can answer questions about
Teal'c straightforwardly, he feels the need to obfuscate and bluster
regarding Doctor Jackson. My curiosity is piqued. I had thought to
enquire more closely into his feelings for Major Carter as it is this
matter of which I have most knowledge, but perhaps questions about
Doctor Jackson will prove easier for him to answer without having to
sacrifice the complexity and perhaps ambiguity of emotion I require to
trigger for this experiment.
"Have you ever left Doctor Jackson behind?"
I see at once this is the truth and look at him, startled. It is quite
opposed to what I know of his personal beliefs.
"We had false memories implanted in our minds," O'Neill tells me dryly.
"I am sorry. It must have been difficult for you."
"Piece of cake."
I am unsure of his exact meaning but his recall is false. "Please
verify the accuracy of that statement."
"I beat the shit out of General Hammond's car."
"I was present at this event," Teal'c confirms.
The reading does not wholly reflect the accuracy of this. "Please be
more specific. What were your feelings when you 'beat the shit' out of-"
"Frustration," O'Neill interjects hurriedly. "Anger. The usual."
"Because you had lost Doctor Jackson?" I frown as the reading continues
to be ambiguous.
"Because Duluth beat out Bemidji in the finals!" he retorts
"That statement is false," Teal'c observes unnecessarily.
"Throwing in a little curling reference, big guy, as requested," the
colonel points out insouciantly.
I attempt to recall his attention. "Did you feel that you had failed
The colonel's humour evaporates. "Yes," he replies curtly.
"Your response is ambiguous," I note. "Please be specific about your
feelings over your loss of Doctor Jackson."
"I was upset, okay?" the colonel snarls.
"Your explanation is not adequate."
"Dontcha mean your device isn't adequate!"
"That is what we are attempting to determine," I remind him. "You spoke
of damaging General Hammond's vehicle. Why did you do that?"
"I already said. Anger. Frustration."
"You were in pain?"
Colonel O'Neill is at a loss to respond to this, inappropriately or
"I did warn you some of the questions might be difficult for you to
answer," I remind him.
"Yes," he admits slowly and with extreme reluctance. "I was in," he
hesitates, grimacing, "pain."
"Is there more that you are unable or unwilling to recall?" I ask. The
monitor once again indicates to me that he is not telling me the truth.
O'Neill looks at Teal'c for a long time, and then his resistance fades.
"I was ready to quit the team," he confesses resentfully. "Retire."
"Had you not lost men before?" I attempt to clarify, puzzled by this
"This was different. Daniel was my friend."
"Was Kawalsky not also your friend?" Teal'c asks, his curiosity
"Sure he was!"
The monitor glows blue, confirming the colonel's veracity.
"But he did not mean as much to you as Doctor Jackson does," I suggest,
again attempting to clarify. I have discovered that accurate recall of
events and factual data is a difficult process for humans, but I begin
to feel that the complexity of emotions of which they are not always
even aware may simply be too imprecise for my device to quantify with
any degree of accuracy.
I feel compelled to do all I can to remedy what may be a fundamental
flaw in the testing of humans. We have no other technology with which
we can detect Zatarc programming and I will not willingly witness the
needless death of another such as Major Graham or Lieutenant Astor.
Their realisation of what they had done as they turned their weapons
upon themselves is not something I can or will forget. It is a
calculated cruelty on the part of the Goa'uld responsible for this
"They're both friends," O'Neill stresses.
"Are you attempting to dissemble, Colonel O'Neill?" I enquire, frowning
at the monitor. "It is not an appropriate time for that. The analysis
of your recall once again indicates that you are lying or that your
recall is faulty. I require you to be completely honest."
"I believe O'Neill is attempting to be honest," Teal'c observes as the
colonel sits brooding, his expression most unpleasant.
"I will accept your judgement, Teal'c." I bow politely to the Jaffa.
"Very well, Colonel. I will re-phrase the question. I am still hopeful
that we will gather pertinent data in this trial. It was equally
difficult for you to quantify your feelings for Major Carter, yet you
were able in the end to recall accurately with prompting."
"Are you being sarcastic?" O'Neill demands incredulously. "Prompting?"
he complains to Teal'c.
"I am not. The analysis the device made of your responses to those
earlier questions may be a suitable base to judge the ambiguity of
these feelings also." Colonel O'Neill has nothing to say in response to
my comment, so I go on. "Do you care more for Doctor Jackson than you
are supposed to?"
"No. He's my friend." O'Neill appears to realise at once this is not
enough and rushes to elaborate. "My best friend, okay? How can you care
more than you're supposed to for a friend?"
"Is Major Carter not also your friend?"
"Yes! No! It's not the same, no!"
"Because she is your subordinate? Is not Daniel Jackson your
"Yes! Technically, yes."
"It appears the correct response is technically 'no'," Teal'c observes
dryly as he watches the monitor with me. "Do you not consider him to be
your equal, O'Neill?"
"Yes! Thank you!" the colonel responds with a sarcastic tilt of his
hands. "Yes! I'm glad someone's making sense here," he grumbles,
scowling at me.
"That person is not you," Teal'c informs him.
"I'm too close to all my team. You've all become friends," O'Neill
insists, his aggravation apparent as he transfers his scowl to the
Jaffa. "I've never had a posting that was like this in my career.
Normal S.O.P. does not apply."
Of this at least, O'Neill is confident. I confess I am fascinated by
his inability to quantify and express his deepest feelings,
particularly for Major Carter and Doctor Jackson. How can any
individual have so little self-awareness?
"Do you love Major Carter?"
"Define love," O'Neill retorts.
"Do you feel affection for her?"
Once again uneasy, the colonel mumbles an affirmative, then looks
appealingly to Teal'c.
"I make no judgements, Colonel," I assure him. "My discretion is
assured. I seek only to quantify these emotions of which you speak. Do
you feel affection for him?"
"Er, sure. Sure."
The device indicates that he is once again being evasive in his reply.
I am growing frustrated because I am unable to determine from my
readings whether he does this deliberately or if his confusion is
genuine. "Do you love him?" I ask sharply.
We wait, but O'Neill can make no further answer. He stares back at us,
his brow furrowing deeply as his strain becomes more evident.
I think he does not know why his responses are unsatisfactory, only
that they are.
If I wish to elicit specific memories, perhaps it is I who should be
more specific in my questions. I think it would be wise to consult
Doctor Jackson when I return to Vorash. I feel certain he will offer
valuable insight into the framing of questions which will help the test
subjects to recall and express their thoughts and feelings
appropriately. Positive reinforcement is vital if I am to avoid once
again triggering the self-destructive programming of the Zatarc. My
questions must not be perceived as threatening. It would be advisable
to test out those limits on subjects I know to be in no danger. My own
subjective powers of observation will have to play a greater part in
the analysis than I had previously determined.
"Are your feelings for Doctor Jackson deeper than the affection you
feel for Major Carter?" I elaborate, trying to help Colonel O'Neill to
attain some measurable clarity of thought.
"No." His already strained face pales as he waits for my reaction.
"Yes?" he demands disbelievingly.
"Why do you ask if you already know the answer?" I query, curious, as
the monitor again glows blue.
When we spoke privately earlier, I asked if there was someone to whom
O'Neill was loyal. I assumed this person was Major Carter but it now
appears I was wrong. Though I am disappointed personally that there is
little hope of engaging in Lo'machen with the colonel, I must
acknowledge that this data is proving very valuable. It may still be
possible with sensitive questioning to differentiate the programmed
memories of a Zatarc. The orderly recall of such memories may itself be
an indicator I had not previously considered. I fear I was too
simplistic in my initial approach. Rephrasing the same question and
asking it again for the purposes of comparison may be another useful
strategy I could employ. This appears a most fruitful line of enquiry
"Are you attracted to Doctor Jackson?"
Colonel O'Neill's eyebrows soar.
"No!" he sputters in shock. "Hell, no! He's my friend," he emphasises.
"Plus, he's a he!"
"I ask you again not to dissemble at this time."
I look significantly at the monitor. "Then your recall is faulty."
"I will rephrase my question. Can you recall any incidences where you
exhibited physical attraction to Doctor Jackson?"
"We have discussed the stigmas and inhibitions with which the people of
Earth surround physical intimacy, Colonel. I assure you of my
understanding of the difficulties of such an admission. However, to
gain an accurate reading, I must ask that you do so."
"I am not attracted to Daniel Jackson!"
If Colonel O'Neill is not lying to me, then he is lying to himself. I
sense that his bewilderment is genuine. Instead of glaring at the
detection device or at me, he appears to be staring at nothing and his
face is grey and pinched.
"Are you alright, Colonel O'Neill?"
"You're saying that even if I'm lying," he answers in a rush, "I mean,
even if I don't even know I'm lying, the machine can tell? It can tell?"
"The subconscious mind will not lie though the conscious mind can and
seemingly does. You did not know you were lying about your feelings for
Major Carter either until this was pointed out to you."
"But you’re insisting my feelings for Daniel are deeper!"
"It is not I. The memories are yours, Colonel O'Neill. Specifically,
there are incidences of sexual attraction to Doctor Jackson which you
are unable or unwilling to recall."
He looks helplessly to Teal'c, unable to respond directly to me. The
Jaffa offers no comment, staring back inscrutably at his friend.
"Are you in love with Doctor Jackson, Colonel?" I ask directly, careful
to employ the common human usage of this terminology to describe
profound emotional and sexual intimacy, both of which I begin to feel,
from the ambiguity of his responses, to be applicable to his
relationship with Doctor Jackson.
O'Neill's gaze focuses at once on the device, a look almost of fear on
"You must answer again, O'Neill," Teal'c informs him gravely.
The colonel closes his eyes, his knuckles clenching on the arms of the
chair in which he sits so rigidly.
"I'm not in love with Daniel Jackson."
"You must answer again," Teal'c repeats.
Colonel O'Neill sits in silence for so long, I do not think he will
answer, though his friend is as insistent upon it as I.
Though it is more a question than a statement, O'Neill's hesitance does
not affect the accuracy of my reading and the screen at last glows blue.
"We may proceed," I advise, satisfied with his veracity.
"You must speak with DanielJackson," Teal'c orders O'Neill sternly,
ignoring my instruction as he walks over to release his friend.
"Are you out of your mind?" the colonel argues vehemently as he jumps
to his feet, shuddering as he momentarily glances at me then turns
away. "That's the last thing I should do!"
"I do not agree."
"You don't have any say," O'Neill warns Teal'c angrily.
"I am your friend," Teal'c contradicts him flatly. "As your friend I
must tell you that you can no longer conceal your feelings. You have
much to answer for in your behaviour to him."
"I beg your pardon?" O'Neill says furiously, his face thunderous.
"I had previously considered the difficulties you were experiencing
working with DanielJackson would be resolved in time. I was not aware
that your behaviour was a consequence of your sexual frustration,"
Teal'c informs him coldly, barring his way when he attempts to barge
past. "You have given me cause to doubt your continuing respect and
regard for DanielJackson. How much more cause have you given him?"
Colonel O'Neill has no answer to this.
"I have seen how he has become more withdrawn and more insecure in the
acceptance of his judgement and his place on SG-1 than at any time
since I first knew him, O'Neill," Teal'c insists. "This cannot be
permitted to continue."
"I am not talking to him about this," O'Neill insists with dangerous
"You cannot speak with Doctor Jackson," I point out, annoyed at this
inconvenient disruption. "He has gone to Vorash with High Councillor
Per'sus. Your presence there is not required, Colonel. Please resume
your seat so we may continue."
The Tok'ra are a very, shall we say, studied people? Their formality
and courtesy appears ingrained, so much so I'm beginning to see it as
another conscious rejection of their Goa'ulded state. They're very
deliberate in all that they do and say, excruciatingly careful to
recognise the equality of the host, and any miscellaneous humans about
the place, in all things. That gesture of theirs, dropping the head to
signal the change in - what? Consciousness? Or simply which one chooses
to speak at a given time? I wonder if the host sees it as a courtesy or
as a constant reminder of what the symbiote is capable of yet chooses
not to do?
I'm getting distracted
It's not that I'm not completely fascinated by ritual, or filled with
innumerable questions about Tok'ra history and culture, about them as a
people and as individuals, host and symbiote, it's just - well - the
formality. I'm excited. I suspect it shows. I've been on Vorash about
an hour and a half and I feel like a hyperactive toddler.
High Councillor Per'sus appears bemused. Or is that amused?
The bodyguards aren't.
"Your presence is not required," he repeats patiently. "Your time will
be better employed by examining the records of recent missions in order
to determine those who may have been exposed to Zatarc technology." He
glances across at me. "There is no doubt now that all of our operatives
are potentially vulnerable to this programming. Martouf was one of the
best among us."
"I take it you have no doubt now that Anise was correct in her
assertions about the existence of the Zatarcs?" I ask.
"None," the High Councillor responds heavily. "The evidence appears
incontrovertible." He nods absently to his bodyguards and they
unhappily disperse with the kind of unquestioning alacrity Jack often
volubly wishes I had. "I will show you to your quarters."
"There's no need, High Councillor," I respond, a trifle disconcerted.
Surely one of the bodyguards should've been assigned such a menial
task? I hesitate to ask about it as he falls into a brooding silence,
confining myself to watching the reactions of the few other Tok'ra we
meet as he leads me through one dark, anonymous tunnel after another.
It isn't difficult to see that he's held in complete respect and not a
little awe. I'm intrigued by this. The Tok'ra I've met haven't exactly
struck me as impressionable.
"Please, Daniel, call me Per'sus," the High Councillor invites me
suddenly, his rather stern face relaxing.
As a matter of courtesy, naturally I will.
"You are my guest," he assures me warmly.
I realise he means this literally when we turn into a space which
apparently isn't another corridor because it has some personal
belongings scattered here and there on the angular outcroppings of
crystal. Sadly, the, king-sized, er, slab which adjoins a particularly
spiky bit of wall doesn't strike me as being the last word in comfort.
Per'sus gestures to an opening tucked away behind another spiky outcrop
and I see I have a slab of my very own.
"You're taking my safety very seriously," I comment dryly as I release
my pack and carry it through into the small sleeping chamber. Anyone
trying to get to me will have to get through Per'sus and his bodyguards
first. Jack would be proud of my threat assessment. If he was paying
attention, he would be.
"I like this about you," Per'sus responds, startling me.
I hadn't realised he'd followed. He moves silently for such a big man,
a trait he shares with Jack and Teal'c. I'll have to ask him sometime
if he's been a soldier.
"You do not dissemble. I find your sincerity pleasing."
"Um, thank you," I mumble, flushing at the unnecessary compliment.
Feeling awkward, I busy myself with my laptop. A zippered bag isn't
much of a security measure but I'm not overly concerned about leaving
it out on display. For one thing, there's no knowing when I'll need it
and after falling over Jack, fielding his complaints, finding the
zippered bag and then extracting my laptop from it and booting the
darned thing up, sometimes I've forgotten what I wanted to write. Jack
lives for moments like that. Plus, the Tok'ra didn't know the symbiote
Cordesh was a Goa'uld spy because going through his things would have
been considered rude.
If I have anything important to write, I have my journal and a really
peachy flashlight Jack gave me when I complained the Air Force issue
one was no good for sneaking a quiet chapter when I was supposed to be
sleeping in my sleeping bag. My journal is an excellent security
measure. Jack can't install games on it and my handwriting is allegedly
more impenetrable than one of Sam's really-easy-equations-for-fun, the
ones Jack is always…
I really think about Jack a lot, don't I?
I've never been off-world without Jack knowing. It isn't, or rather I
should accept it wasn't, conceivable. I don't want to think about that
"Tell me why the Tok'ra have so little regard for personal privacy?" I
invite Per'sus instead.
"I could, but I would much prefer to hear your own deductions." He
smiles at me, his green eyes warming.
"Regard is the wrong word," I respond readily. "I see it more as
another of your checks and balances to maintain equality between host
and symbiote. Living in a space without walls and doors makes it that
much harder for symbiote to abuse host."
"You are very perceptive, Daniel," Per'sus says softly, not arguing
with my interpretation.
"The fundamental difficulty all Tok'ra face is imposing a state of
equality on a mutually dependent relationship which is inherently
unequal," I go on, warming to my theme and frankly amazed no one has
told me to shut up yet. "The host's mind can be suppressed by the
symbiote at any time and so you work at maintaining both the
independence and interdependence of both." This strikes me as being a
tad harsh and possibly even tactless. I feel that as Mr. Inspirational
Intergalactic Diplomat, I should say something nice. "I appreciate that
you work at it." I don't know that I sound terribly convincing.
"I look forward to spending time with you, Daniel," Per'sus confides
charmingly. "I wish very much to learn more about you. It is long since
I have been so attracted to another. Longer than your lifetime."
"Attracted?" I sound like Minnie Mouse.
"You are very beautiful, of course," Per'sus smiles warmly, his eyes
gentle as they roam appreciatively over my flaming face, "but your
intellect challenges me as much as your character engages and appeals.
Though I do not know you well, I feel," he adds with great dignity,
"much for you."
I have no idea what to say to this. Absolutely none. I'm usually
drugged to the eyeballs when people say this kind of thing to me. At
least, that's what my friends tell me later. I emerge from pink fogs
and find my DNA spattered all over the communal shower room. Or people
just do stuff. "I'm not used to anyone asking!" I blurt out in piteous
"You are not?" Per'sus has no difficulty interpreting this
pronouncement. He's horrified. He would be. The exertion of that kind
of force over another individual is anathema to the Tok'ra. They prefer
to manipulate you.
I'm glad we're in a space with no doors and the Tok'ra are so studied.
I might be fairly freaked by this declaration of his, otherwise.
Naturally, I stupidly have to ask myself why.
Because someone is interested? A man is interested? A parasitic life
form I've been getting along with quite nicely wants to get to know me
a little better? And is apparently interested. Why am I panicking? I'm
kind of assuming that he wants to have sex with me. I could ask.
"When you say attracted, do you mean you want to?" Instead of being
explicit about what Per'sus might want to, I find myself vaguely waving
my hand between us.
"Do I desire you?" Per'sus suggests helpfully. "I wish very much to lie
with you, Daniel, if this is what you wish also."
Okaaay. Just clarifying. He does want to - Jeez. Oh, Jeez. "You haven’t
had sex longer than I've been alive?"
There's a very disturbing light in Per'sus' eyes.
"I desire you greatly," he promises me, all low-voiced and husky.
I can't tell this very large, impossibly powerful man how much I
appreciate the respectful distance he's careful to keep. He might want
to pounce - he really, really wants to pounce - but I think he
won't, any more than I think he'd stifle the voice of his host.
"I do like you," I admit breathlessly. "But I'm not, I mean, I don't."
"I do not feel you are the kind of man who would condemn a pleasure you
have not experienced."
"I've read a lot." I highly doubt this inanity adequately expresses my
abhorrence of bigotry, which is what I was going for. It does however,
sound like a come-on. I'm not good at this stuff. No one is more aware
of this than I am. "Can I talk to your host?"
Per'sus at once bows his head and when he lifts it, he's smiling again.
"I am Geryon." He takes my hand and lifts it to his lips, kissing me
with practiced, lingering ease and courtesy. "Per'sus and I will not
harm you, if this is what you seek to know."
"Do not fear us, Daniel."
"I don't," I admit shyly. "Do you, um?" I can't actually say 'want me'.
It's too ridiculous.
"My symbiote and I are as one in our desire for you," Geryon assures
me. "We wish to give you such pleasure as you have never known before."
Honestly, that would not be difficult. I don't get out much, not even
out of my own head. I never have. I've always been somewhat obsessed
with more cerebral pleasures, something to which my one and only
ex-girlfriend could attest. She broke up with me before I actually
realised we were together, as in together. All I knew at the
time was she spent a lot of time hanging out with me while I worked and
when I absolutely had to fuel up on coffee and carbs, she'd trail along
with me willingly enough.
And that was me when I met my wife. My complete sexual history. A few
kisses and, now and again, Thai food.
"I am glad that we do not offend you, Daniel," Geryon says softly.
"No, I'm not offended," I admit honestly enough, trying without much
success to pull myself together. "I'm just surprised. Confused" I add,
"and surprised." Not that confused does my current chaotic state of
"May I kiss you?"
"Kiss?" My voice climbs half an octave. Think Minnie Mouse on speed.
Geryon interprets this as permission and gathers me into his arms for
the gentlest, warmest whisper of lips imaginable. Of course, we are
talking about my imagination, so this isn't saying much.
I'm kind of glad he's holding me up. My brain has fused along with my
knees. I cling giddily to him as his mouth moves softly over mine. When
he sets me back down, I know at once I'm looking at Per'sus. His thumb
brushes over my shaking mouth and then he takes my hand comfortingly
between both of his.
"My host is more forward than I, Daniel. I did not mean to make you
uncomfortable. I give you my word-"
"I'm not," I interrupt.
He gestures for me to go on.
I don't know what I am and for the first time, it hammers home that I
have nobody to talk to about it.
"Not with you, Per'sus."
His face lights up.
Uncomfortable with myself, maybe. Excruciatingly aware that I need to
be very, very careful here. While I don't believe Per'sus would hurt me
or force me to do anything against my will, I am concerned about how
he'll react if I can't give him what he wants from me. Will the
alliance we've spent months patiently, painstakingly building, for
which Martouf gave his life, and for which Sam hurt herself so deeply,
fall apart if I don't put-out for the Tok'ra High Councillor?
"We can talk," I offer, feeling my wince of a smile in a very stiff
face. "I'd like that. To talk."
"I would be honoured."
"I've never," I announce determinedly in the general direction of the
rather attractive chain he wears as part of the High Councillor's
official regalia. "You're, um." This is very, very difficult. "I
haven't spent a great deal of time getting to know men who want to make
love to me. In fact, I haven't spent any." I nod obscurely, really
quite intrigued by the intricacy of the carving on Per'sus' heavy gold
chain. "I'm not sure of the etiquette."
"All that is required is that you speak freely if any word or action of
mine makes you uncomfortable," Per'sus assures me kindly. "Allow me to
show you some of the objects my host and I have gathered through our
"Please," I agree eagerly, practically desperate to see and touch
something that makes sense.
Per'sus puts his arm around my waist. "Is this acceptable to you,
"It's fine," I mumble at my feet, flushing. And oddly, it is.
I didn't get to be an Air Force colonel by being anything but smarter
than the average bear. I'm certainly smart enough not to act like it,
which is why I can do stuff like dodge Carter, Teal'c and Anise with
effortless ease. I'm taking a rain-check on my sexuality crisis and
imminent nervous breakdown because I have a far more immediate problem.
My C.O. let my boyfriend go
off-world without me.
General George Hammond does nothing without a reason and I've known the
wily old bastard since he was a pissant lieutenant. I have no idea why
he didn't choose to let me in on the fact he let the biggest snake of
'em all spirit Daniel back to his lair for a cosy
tête-à-tête, but something tells me I'd better find
out, and quick.
George does not do this. Not without damned good reason.
Charging into his office and ranting hysterically until he lets me go
after Daniel may feel good, but all it will get me is my ass in a sling
and possibly in Psych.
I think my C.O. is waiting to see what I'll do. I'm sure I'm losing
points for the amount of time it's seemingly taking me to figure out my
team is coming up short one linguist, but I won't get a second shot at
this so I'm taking a timeout to plot. It's apparent something went down
while Daniel was schmoozing and glad-handing with our nation's finest,
something of sufficient magnitude to make George let one of our most
prized and carefully guarded assets waltz off all alone.
I missed all of it. The stuff that was supposed to 'stay in the room'
got ugly and spilled blood all over the gateroom. I cleaned up the mess
while Fraiser scooped up Carter and the snakes what was left of Marty,
then I bailed with the big guy and left them all to it while I hid out
and licked my wound.
Did I even talk to Daniel? I don't remember.
I think he needed me to. I can tell, here, by the look on his face. The
camera loves him, even the security kind. He's framed perfectly by the
blue of the curtain behind him, looking anywhere but at the guy trying
to attract his attention. He looks kind of lost.
The guy is good-looking, the guy is Hollywood leading man good-looking,
and now he has Daniel's attention. He has Daniel in his space and he
watches every move Daniel makes. That’s what went down. It's right
there, on every tape of the treaty shindig the SFs brought me. The guy
never stops watching. He makes his play and George sees how Daniel gets
in this guy's space. That's all it takes. Daniel likes the guy and
wants to go and that's enough for George. I don't think he sees how
much the guy likes Daniel. I know Daniel doesn't.
Telling myself I do not have a problem with or over Dr. Daniel Jackson
is kind of moot, huh? Because it sure looks like Daniel has a problem
with me. I should have talked to him. I should have been, not to put
too fine a point on it, nicer. I've seen that lost look on Daniel's
face a few times recently. Maybe it's time to face facts. That maybe
I'm the one who put it there.
I get from A to Z with no fuss, from Daniel's office to Hammond's.
George isn't thrilled to see me but he'll makes the time regardless.
He's good that way.
"What can I do for you, Jack?" he asks straight-forwardly.
"Permission to gate out to Vorash, Sir."
George sits back, folding his hands neatly on his desk, eyeing me
thoughtfully. "Any particular reason?"
"I'm not comfortable with Daniel being alone out there with the Tok'ra."
"Frankly, Sir, I'm surprised you allowed it. The recent events with
Tanith are still fresh in my mind at least."
"High Councillor Per'sus has personally guaranteed Dr. Jackson's
Per'sus? That's the guy who was all over Daniel? I forgot, or wasn't
paying attention in the first place.
"With all due respect, Sir, he couldn't guarantee his own!" I argue
forcefully. "Graham shot him right in front of me! Hard as it is to
believe that Anise can be right about anything, she's right about the
Zatarcs. Vorash could be infested with them for all we know."
"Your presence didn't make a difference when Graham's Zatarc
programming was activated," Hammond argues mildly.
"It did in the gateroom," I remind him. I may not be able to help some
snaky Zatarc, but I can sure as shit stop one. Dead.
"Your cogent arguments aside, Colonel, I'd always planned to send you
through to Vorash," George observes mildly, his eyes twinkling with
amusement. "At this point in time, I have no idea whether the Treaty we
just signed with the Tok'ra is worth the paper it's written on."
"But you plan to find out," I retort, a tad annoyed he caught me out so
easily. Too damn busy obsessing over Daniel. I don't like what that
says about me. I can live with it though, because I like the way
Per'sus was looking Daniel over even less.
"I thought I'd leave that to you," George replies humorously. "Just be
"I plan to."
"Without endangering the alliance," George add firmly.
"It never crossed my mind, Sir." There's an art to obnoxiousness.
Naturally, I excel. George is the latest in a long line of baffled
C.O.'s who can attest to that. I tend to get promoted instead of
court-martialled and none of them have ever quite worked out why. As
long as Jacob isn't around to rain on my pissy parade, Per'sus and I
will get along just fine.
"Major Carter and Teal'c?" George hints, his eyes keen.
"Better off here," I say firmly. I don't need Carter at Anise's throat
or Teal'c at mine. If I do have a problem with Daniel - and despite
what Anise's stupid-assed machine insists, I'm not convinced I do - I
do not need Teal'c doing his over-sized Jiminy Cricket act, insisting I
get off my ass and do something. Daniel, presumably. Plus, there's the
whole Jaffa revenge thing to consider. Daniel may be really cutting to
Tanith if he runs into him but he's not likely to beat the loveless
bastard to death with his own symbiote.
"You can gate out to Vorash tomorrow, Jack. I don't see any need to
give them advanced warning, do you?"
"Tomorrow?" I bark. What? That gives Percy the Perv a whole night alone
with Daniel! "With all due respect, Sir!"
"It's dark, Jack," George patiently reminds me. "Vorash isn't safe
My point exactly! There's a good reason I'm climbing the walls, here!
"General, I'm not comfortable with that kind of delay." My head has
been up my own ass too long as it is.
I just want to go. I don't want to be alone in my own head. I don't
want to think about Daniel, I want to be with him. Things make sense
when he's round. I make sense.
That's friendship, right?
I'm feeling ever so slightly outnumbered here. The only one not taking
an interest in me on any level is Freya, and she's on some
well-deserved down-time after the grilling she apparently gave poor
"The human mind is
chaotic," Anise announces with infuriating finality.
"Thank you," I acknowledge sarcastically on behalf of my species.
"I am merely reporting a fact, Doctor Jackson. No insult is intended."
While I'd be the first to admit Jack has the attention span of a
student at the start of a five o'clock lecture on a Friday night,
especially where I'm concerned, I'm not about to say so. Anise is smug
enough, thank you. "If the results are variable, the responsible
scientist will look again at the methodology employed, not the alleged
inadequacies of the subject." Insult very much intended.
Per'sus takes refuge in a sip of the rather nice fruity, fizzy, sherbet
drink he produced in my honour at the start of the council meeting.
There are nibbles, too, small dishes of fruits, nuts and pastries.
Someone must have told him humans need feeding and watering at regular
intervals. Despite the attentiveness of my host, I can't tell if my
lowly, invasive presence is casting a pall, if they're upset about
Martouf or if they're just always like this. I'm the original
anti-social animal and I still feel like the life and soul of the
The spirit of Jack, I'm sad to say, is still very much with me. The
urge to shake things up a tad is impossible to resist.
I turn abruptly to Per'sus. "If it isn't an imposition, High
Councillor, may I witness the burial rites for Martouf and Lantash?" I
ask respectfully. "We know so little of your customs."
I wonder if this is why I do so badly at parties? Bringing up burial
Per'sus looks disconcerted. "There will be no rites at this time."
"You'll be performing an autopsy, then?" I enquire. "Examining the
bodies to determine what you can physiologically about Zatarcs?" I'm
almost positive they'll make sure he's dead and stuff first.
Per'sus seems grateful for my understanding.
"You are certainly more reasonable regarding such a necessary
scientific endeavour than your colleagues," Anise comments dryly.
Sadly, I think most of the fuss was because Janet and Sam wanted to
examine the bodies of Martouf and Lantash themselves. We don't doubt
the scientific competence of the Tok'ra but they've given us nothing
but cause to doubt their veracity. They'll only share partial truths,
and those grudgingly. Anything they tell us willingly, we worry about.
"We share with you all that you need to know," Anise goes on.
"That's the problem right there," I retort quite sharply. "You
determine what we need to know and so far, in every instance, we've
needed to know more! You control the flow of information but expect
full disclosure from us. It's a fundamental inequality between us and
where you have such an inequality, trust is hard to build."
"I do not doubt the justice of what you say, Daniel," Per'sus replies,
"But it is our way. Secrecy has long served us. Our numbers are few and
the Goa'uld are many. We have not the forces to engage in war as you
have known it in the brief, turbulent history of your world. Our
operatives work from within to undermine, to seed dissent and foster
rivalry among the ranks of the System Lords. It is in this way that we
seek to maintain balance."
"I understand the concept but I also see the contradiction," I argue.
"Your country has allies on Earth, does it not?" Per'sus knows the
answer to this. The President was very amusing about some of his
livelier experiences abroad. "How many of them know of the existence of
the Stargate?" he asks me straight-forwardly.
"None," I say stiffly.
"No doubt you keep from them other secrets of state, so ultimately our
ways are the same."
"That doesn’t mean I can't question it!" I retort with as much dignity
as I can muster.
"Were we to deny such questioning, that would be a crime indeed,"
Per'sus observes seriously.
It's nice of him to let me off the hook. He could have a field day with
our 'do as we say, not as we do' double-standards. He's more generous
than I actually deserve at this point. Certainly more generous than I
would have been. I'm a naturally gifted treader of toes.
My sherbet drink seems very appealing. I crawl into it for a while and
let the Zatarc talk ebb and flow around me. The zesty taste lures me
into a second cup and then Per'sus slides over a dish of deliciously
crunchy candies which had previously escaped my attention.
I munch away, listening with half an ear while someone reports that
they're pulling together a list of all operatives who could have been
vulnerable to Zatarc programming, which appears to be a very long list.
Per'sus assigns Anise and Aldwin to grill them. I reach for the sherbet
again in self-defence. I know Aldwin. He tried to blow us up and then
had to share a Pel'tac home with Jack, after. Jack had been shot in the
leg. He took this very personally. It made for a uniquely horrible
I think I'm lousy at being covert. Here I am at the dark heart of
secret Tok'ra operations and the uppermost thing in my mind is the
operative opposite eyeing up my sherbet.
Unless he's eyeing up me.
I think I need to lie down. The sherbet is going to my knees.
"Would you like to take a walk with me on the surface, Daniel?" Per'sus
asks me invitingly. "The moons are full tonight."
Can my knees take it? More importantly, can I take the sherbet?
"Is this an alcoholic beverage?" Jack has painstakingly trained me to
be suspicious and, as far as possible, less co-operative with people
trying to zap me, drug me or get in my pants.
"It is not. We do not ingest fomented liquids of any kind," Anise
responds. "It is merely the chilled juice of the jolian fruit."
Aaah. That's okay, then. I'm not really giddy. I must just be tired.
"I'd love to, Per'sus," I agree happily. "A walk will do me good." I
achieve an upright position under my own steam, but when Per'sus
gallantly offers assistance with achieving actual locomotion, I
generously decide not to brush him off. He seems to like holding me,
even my elbow. As lust-crazed looming lovers go, he's very undemanding.
The crystalline tunnels are very beautiful and very alien, glowing
richly blue wherever my slightly glazed gaze falls as we walk. "Are you
still growing new tunnels?"
"Is this a way to discover our numbers, Daniel?" Per'sus queries,
smiling down at me.
Um, it probably should be. Yes. Thanks for that. Plus, you know, I saw
them use the crystals one time and it's really cool!
"You are delightfully innocent, Daniel," Per'sus announces amusedly as
he rings my ass right out of there.
I resemble that remark.
The night sky is vast and shivering with stars, the sands drenched in
silver light. I close my eyes for a moment and drink in the aching
familiar chill of clean desert air.
"Tell me something of yourself, Daniel," Per'sus invites me, his tone
warming to intimacy.
"What would you like to know?"
"Some small thing," Per'sus responds after a moment's reflection. "A
private thing another man might not seek to know."
Small and private? "There's nothing much to tell. I put so much energy
into my researches." I shrug, knowing that by the standards of most
men, especially men who are Jack, I'm a bit of a loser. "I love
language," I offer tentatively, not at all sure this is anything he
wants to hear. He looks encouraging so I stumble on through an
explanation. "It's more than losing myself in reading, in the challenge
of ideas or the images unfolding in my mind. I love words. I have
favourites," I admit bashfully. Words which make me feel.
"Langorous." The way the syllables glide, I always want to close my
eyes and feel this word fill my mouth as I speak it.
Per'sus strolls comfortably at my side, listening attentively as I
ramble on about my passion for the written word, the smell and other
quiet pleasures of books and the magic of a pen. "I find language
beautiful," I apologise at last, a trifle stiffly, feeling I've bored
him quite long enough. "Written or spoken, it has the power to affect
profoundly the hearts and minds - the souls - of others."
I think I owe him something for his patience, so I allow myself to be
drawn down to sit for a while, hugging my knees and staring up at the
stars. Per'sus puts his arm around me and I ask him to tell me
something of himself, something he wouldn't normally say.
"Is there not equality in love?" he asks as last.
"There must be or it isn't love as I understand it."
"Then know this, Daniel. I love my host, Geryon. We chose one another
and we would do so again. We live to serve our cause, but in our
service is a love more complete than any the unblended can know."
"Cordesh," I blurt.
"The traitor?" Per'sus asks, his brows snapping together.
"His host - he took his own life, but before he did, he told us he
didn't act alone." I'm babbling but Per'sus gets my drift.
"Host and symbiote are as one," he agrees. "Both are free and yet both
are bound, by our choice, by our cause and by our love. To be anything
less is to be Goa'uld."
"Yet Jolinar took Sam as a host against her will."
"And she gave her own life to save that of Major Carter," Per'sus
reminds me at once. "I do not condone nor do I condemn her choices. I
was not in her place and I cannot judge."
"Do you think it was as painful for Jolinar as it was for Sam?" I ask,
genuinely wanting to know.
"Of that I have no doubt. She was a warrior among us and she took great
risks, but she and Rosha were as one for centuries and in Martouf and
Lantash they found their soulmates. The loss of her host," he begins
and then stops. "Perhaps Selmak is a better one to question on this. He
and Jacob still mourn for Dayaene. It was not easy for Selmak to leave
her, knowing that she would die. His choice was as difficult as
I feel ashamed that I've thought so little about the Tok'ra and made so
small an effort to understand them. Jacob would have answered any
questions but I had none to ask him. I'm as prejudiced as anyone
because I'm as human as anyone. Still, I thought I was a better man
than that. An arrogant assumption. The Tok'ra are not Goa'uld and it's
wrong of me to judge them by the same standard. Very wrong.
"If the bond between host and symbiote is so deep, how can there be
room for anyone else? Can you both feel for another person?"
Would Selmak ever care for Sam as much as Jacob did? I've never seen
any extraordinary signs of affection from the symbiote for his host's
daughter. Perhaps for Selmak, all Sam will ever be is a necessary
encumbrance of Jacob's life.
I look up questioningly and Per'sus' hand cups my face. It occurs to me
then that as he can't read my mind, all he has to go on mood-wise is
what I just said and what I just said - damn. I'm bad at this. He leans
in slowly, giving me plenty of time to react in some way. I don't bleat
in abject horror or anything so he keeps coming and then his mouth is
on mine. Both his arms are around me and his mouth is one mine. Just
touching. Maybe seeing how we fit. I don't know.
He's very warm and very certain and when his lips rub against mine,
very gentle in his insistence, I surrender gracefully to the pressure
and he glides into my mouth, delicately touching, tasting, his tongue
fitting to mine. Savouring and then stroking sensuously into me.
I think he's been kissing way longer than I've been alive. My toes are
curling at the extraordinary, contained eroticism of it all. He's
holding me and kissing me and I'm quite content to bask for a time in
this warm flow of feeling. It's been so long since I shared anything of
myself. It's good to let go, even for a little while, and with this
man, with all he's capable of, I'm safe.
Daniel is sleeping peacefully at my side. I do not believe I have ever
kissed a man into unconsciousness before, but I am able to see the
humour in this most inconvenient accomplishment. I fear nothing he does
will ever be ordinary.
I find that there is much
pleasure to be had simply from watching him. The moon bathes his face
in light and he seems to me even more beautiful than before. I am
restless with need for him. Daniel is filled with a need all his own,
though he does not seem to know it.
He is more alone than I knew. If I could be sure it would be the right
thing for us both, I would wake him and pleasure him here among the
dunes. I believe it is what his body needs and desires, but of his
mind, his heart and his will, I am less certain. He returned my kiss
but I do not know that he was truly with me.
Still, I am more hopeful than I was that in time Daniel may return my
feelings. The intimacy he allows me is more than he has ever granted to
It is better to wait and to be sure than to risk all for mere physical
gratification and lose him.
Now that Daniel has so unexpectedly entered my life, I do not want him
to leave me.
to Part Two
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