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Fanfiction: Blending Truths

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S6 Frozen
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack UST. Jack & Teal'c friendship.  Sam & Janet friendship.  Jonas & Teal'c friendship.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Blending Truths


Janet Fraiser suppressed the chill that ran down her spine and forced herself to focus on her surroundings. The crystalline structure of the Tok’ra base was alien and cold. She wished she’d argued harder that the Tok’ra should find a way to transport the symbiote through the wormhole to Earth for the required implantation into Colonel O’Neill. Thoran’s argument that they had no means of safe transportation given their limited supplies had been hard to argue with especially since Earth was only too aware of Anubis’s continued attacks against the Tok’ra. Worse was the harsh truth that the Colonel didn’t have the time to wait for something to be constructed. His condition was deteriorating rapidly and the symbiote was the only hope of healing the viral infection that had taken him to death’s door.

Janet sighed and looked around again with dissatisfaction. She had gone ahead to the Tok’ra base to ensure everything was set-up to her satisfaction. She knew the Tok’ra had advanced medical know-how but the Colonel was her patient and under her care. Janet didn’t really care if the Tok’ra understood that or not.

The stark room was bare of adornments. It lacked soul; lacked comfort; lacked everything it needed to be a place to heal. Perhaps her infirmary was considered the same by some but they did try to ensure their visitors were comfortable.

‘Will this suffice?’ Garshaw asked quietly behind her. The Tok’ra Councillor sighed. ‘I’m afraid we don’t have a great deal since the last attack.’

Janet thawed a little. It wasn’t the Tok’ra’s fault that their supplies had been badly hit just as it wasn’t their fault that the production of an anti-viral would take too long and she couldn’t heal the Colonel, or that she had failed to heal Ayiana, the Ancient woman who had miraculously healed the rest of them.

‘It’s fine.’ Janet replied evenly. She nodded briskly at the nurse. ‘Set-up the equipment over there.’ She pointed at the flat slab that she hoped was the sleeping platform. ‘Unpack some thermal blankets and a sleeping mat.’

The nurse set about his task with professional efficiency despite Garshaw’s grimace.

‘Is this really necessary?’ Garshaw asked.

‘Colonel O’Neill is very weak.’ Janet responded mildly. ‘I want him to be as comfortable as possible and there is a chance that this won’t work.’

‘It will work.’ Garshaw said confidently.

‘I’m still uncertain why we can’t try a healing device.’ Janet remarked.

‘The healing device can only repair damage already done to the body.’ Garshaw explained. ‘Unfortunately, it will not cure an underlying infection.’

Janet repressed the urge to pull a face. She checked her watch. As though in response to her silent wondering where SG1 were, they walked in and set the precious burden they carried down gently.

Samantha Carter blew out a long breath and nodded at Garshaw. ‘It’s good to see you again, Garshaw.’

‘Major Carter.’ Garshaw responded with a short nod. Her eyes shifted to Teal’c who inclined his head before they moved with interest to Jonas Quinn.

Jonas darted a look at Sam crouched by the containment unit that carried the Colonel. Her hand rested over the strong plastic.

Janet realised Sam wasn’t going to make the introduction and gestured. ‘Garshaw, this is Jonas Quinn. He’s a member of SG1 now.’

‘Ah, Doctor Jackson’s replacement.’ Garshaw accepted Jonas’s proffered hand and shook it. ‘Jacob informed us of your assignment.’

Jonas smiled nervously. ‘I’m pleased to meet you.’

Sam looked up at Janet, apparently oblivious to the conversation that had taken place. ‘We need to get the Colonel out.’

Janet nodded.

Garshaw cleared her throat. ‘Thoran and I will leave you and return presently with the symbiote.’

‘Thank you.’ Janet said politely. She waited until the Tok’ra had departed before turning back to SG1. ‘You’ll have to wait outside.’ She held up a hand before they could protest. ‘Until the implantation, the Colonel remains under quarantine.’ Her dark gaze met theirs forcefully. ‘We don’t know for certain that we won’t get reinfected and given the seriousness of this disease I can’t risk it. You can see him when we get him situated but only in a biohazard suit.’

Sam nodded reluctantly.

‘The Tok’ra have provided a force-shield at the door, Major.’ Janet said formally. ‘If you could engage it from the other side.’

Sam turned on her heel and walked out. Jonas followed her. Teal’c paused, exchanging a look of worried understanding with Janet before he left. He had been a fellow witness to the confessions his military team-mates had made of caring for each other much more than their working relationship allowed almost two years before. The couple had focused on their professional relationship after the Colonel had been forced to shoot Sam to save the base.

Janet had believed they’d moved on, settling for a friendship as colleagues and team-mates. She was beginning to think she’d been sadly mistaken. Given Sam’s reactions in regards to the Colonel’s care, Janet was beginning to wonder if all they’d done was hidden a more intimate relationship from everyone. She couldn’t imagine them breaking the regulations in such a way but it wasn’t unheard of even at the SGC for the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule to be employed by some. If Sam was involved with the Colonel, it wasn’t safe for either of them.

Janet shook away her thoughts about the couple. She would worry about whether there was anything inappropriate going on after the Colonel was cured. She hurried into the bulky suit that would protect her and oversaw the transfer of the Colonel from the containment vessel to the makeshift bed.

He barely stirred as the nurses’ hooked up a fresh IV and connected him to the various machines. Janet checked his vitals, recording them faithfully on his chart. He was very weak. Janet knew a lesser man would have succumbed to the infection already and she figured his survival had everything to do with Jack’s own will to live.

‘Hang in there, Colonel.’ She said softly as she straightened the blanket around him.

She gave brisk instructions to the nurse who was staying and ushered the two others out into the corridor.

Sam pushed away from the corridor. ‘Is he...?’

‘He’s holding his own.’ Janet said quickly. ‘But the sooner we do this the better.’

‘I will endeavour to find Garshaw.’ Teal’c said. He walked away.

Jonas offered to walk the departing nurses back to the rings when Janet dismissed them and she waited until they had gone before she turned back around to Sam. Her friend stared through the invisible force-shield to the man lying across the room.

‘Major.’ Janet’s sharp word had Sam turning back to Janet with a questioning look.

Janet sighed and softened at the blatant worry on Sam’s face. ‘Why don’t you come in with me?’

Sam immediately reached for one of the nurses’ discarded suits and Janet helped her into it.

They walked into the room and Janet watched as Sam carefully skirted the makeshift bed and hovered beside the Colonel. Her hand rested millimetres from his arm but didn’t touch him.

Janet checked the machines and the latest readings, waving at the nurse to remain on the other side of the room.

‘What are we doing?’ Sam asked abruptly.

Janet turned to her surprised. ‘Major?’

‘He doesn’t want this, Janet.’ Sam responded. Her blue eyes glittered brightly behind the plastic barrier of the suit’s facial window.

‘He agreed...’ Janet began.

‘But he doesn’t want it.’

‘Sam,’ Janet moved to stand next to her and placed a hand on Sam’s arm, ‘if he doesn’t get the symbiote he will die.’

‘I know that, Janet, but...’ Sam stopped and took a breath, her frantic gaze falling to look at him.

Janet’s eyes followed Sam’s. The Colonel was pale and sweating, his grey hair almost black it was so damp. The fever ravaging his body was high. He was unconscious, barely breathing, his face partially covered by the oxygen mask.

‘He’s going to hate me for asking him.’ Sam said almost too quietly for Janet to hear.

‘You think he’s going to blame you?’ Janet shook her head. ‘You’re the one who insisted we wake him up so he could choose for himself, Sam. He’ll know that.’ She squeezed Sam’s arm through the suit. ‘And this is his decision. He’s doing this because he wants to live and because it will be useful.’

Sam hid her face but Janet caught the glimpse of guilt that flickered across the delicate features.

‘Sam, do you really think he did it just because you asked him?’ Janet asked bluntly.

Sam shook her head; the hazmat suit not allowing much movement. ‘No. Of course not.’

Janet flicked a glance across to the nurse. He was busy checking supplies and Janet breathed out slowly. She moved an inch toward Sam. ‘Sam, is there a problem here?’

Sam’s head jerked up and she frowned at Janet. ‘Problem?’

Janet indicated the Colonel and held Sam’s eyes firmly. ‘A problem like the one you had during the za’tarc incident?’

Sam’s colour rose but she glared at her. ‘There’s no problem,’ she insisted angrily, careful to keep her voice low, ‘you know he doesn’t feel that way about me anymore and how could you think...’

‘Then why do you look so guilty?’ Janet whispered sharply interrupting her.

Sam’s mouth fell open slightly and she turned away. ‘I just...I haven’t even tried the hand device because of what happened with Daniel and now, the Colonel...what if I could save him without him taking a symbiote?’

‘Sam.’ Janet sighed and mentally kicked herself. She hadn’t even factored in the death of Daniel Jackson into Sam’s behaviour but she should have done. Sam had tried to save Daniel and failed. The death had hit SG1 hard; it had hit everyone who knew Daniel hard. It was no wonder some of Sam’s residual guilt was bleeding over into the situation with the Colonel. She took another step toward Sam. ‘Sam, listen to me. I talked with Garshaw as soon as we arrived and asked about the hand device.’

Sam’s eyes snapped back to Janet.

‘The hand device would help heal some of the physical damage caused to his body from the fever and infection but it wouldn’t stop the infection itself.’ Janet explained. She saw Sam’s gaze falter with relief as her words impacted. ‘The symbiote truly is his only answer.’

Sam blinked back tears and nodded quickly. ‘OK.’

Janet patted her hand and moved away to check the equipment again. Where was Teal’c, she wondered. As though in answer to her question, the Jaffa appeared on the other side of the force-shield with Jonas. They weren’t alone. They stepped back to allow Garshaw and Thoran to enter the room with two other Tok’ra who wheeled a stasis chamber holding the symbiote. As soon as they were in, the force-shield reactivated keeping Teal’c and Jonas on the other side.

Janet shuddered at the sight of the writhing Tok’ra symbiote but was careful to hide her reaction from their allies.

‘The implantation procedure is very delicate.’ Garshaw began. ‘I’d prefer it if there were as few in the room as possible.’

Janet motioned for the nurse to leave. She knew Sam wouldn’t leave and she equally had no intention of moving.

Garshaw dismissed the two Tok’ra by the stasis chamber and gestured at the dark-skinned Tok’ra beside her. ‘Thoran will stay to speak with Kanan as soon as it is done. He will explain the terms of the blending.’ She paused. ‘It would be good if the Colonel was awake.’

‘I agree.’ Janet said evenly. The implantation would be terrifying enough without the Colonel being unaware of it happening and receiving the sudden shock of a symbiote in his head. She loaded up a syringe with a shot to wake him and administered it.

The Colonel stirred listlessly on the bed.

‘Colonel.’ Janet leaned over into his eye-line. ‘Can you hear me?’ She gently removed his oxygen mask as his eyes flickered open.

‘Doc?’ Jack inquired weakly.

‘That’s right.’ Janet said firmly. ‘We’re ready to do the implantation, Colonel. Do you understand me?’

Jack nodded faintly in response. He lifted a hand from the bed. ‘Carter?’

Janet moved away and Sam swiftly took her place. ‘Sir?’

His dark unfocused eyes searched hers as though asking a question.

Sam seemed to understand him. ‘I’ll be right here, sir.’

Jack’s eyes flickered to the stasis chamber and he grimaced. ‘I’m ready.’

Garshaw moved to stand beside the bed. ‘Colonel, the symbiote will enter through your mouth.’

Jack closed his eyes and opened his mouth a bare fraction.

Garshaw gestured at Thoran who opened the chamber and drew out the symbiote. It wrapped itself around Thoran’s arm willingly as he carried it. Thoran laid it gently on the Colonel’s naked chest and it sprang with surprisingly agility into the small opening Jack had made.

The Colonel’s eyes opened wide as the symbiote wiggled its way inside him. He reached for Sam’s hand and she offered it immediately. Janet saw Sam blanch at the Colonel’s tight grip but the Major didn’t let go.

Janet put another hand on his rigid shoulder. ‘Easy, Colonel.’

The symbiote finally disappeared and Jack slumped back on the bed with a hoarse groan. Sam rubbed her gloved thumb over his knuckles comfortingly.

Jack’s eyes flashed suddenly and he turned his head sharply. ‘Garshaw; Thoran. What is the meaning of this? The host is not willing. He is distressed at my presence.’

‘Be at peace, Kanan.’ Thoran soothed urgently. ‘The host is Colonel O’Neill. He has agreed to be a temporary host to allow you to impart the intelligence gained on your last mission. In return, he will receive your healing abilities.’

‘A temporary arrangement is dangerous to us both.’ Kanan observed. ‘And he is very weak. It will take me time to heal him before we will be strong enough for me to relay the intelligence. It is taking all my strength to talk with you now.’

‘Thoran assured us that you would agree to this.’ Sam said. ‘It’s the only reason why the Colonel agreed.’

Kanan frowned. ‘Then it seems I have no choice. I can keep the Colonel’s consciousness suppressed during our time together. It will be as though he is in a deep sleep. He will learn very little of me and I of him.’

‘I think that would be acceptable. If I could speak with the Colonel?’ Sam answered.

Kanan acquiesced. He closed his eyes and a moment later, they opened again.

‘Sir?’ Sam asked urgently.

‘It’s me, Carter.’ Jack’s voice was edged with panic. Janet noticed the way his fingers tightened on Sam’s unconsciously.

‘Did you...’

‘I got the gist.’ Jack said quickly. ‘I effectively go to sleep, right?’

‘Right, sir.’ Sam agreed.

Jack nodded. ‘OK. Let’s get on with it.’

‘Yes, sir.’

His eyes flashed again, signalling the symbiote taking control again. He removed his hand from Sam’s and gestured at the Tok’ra. ‘I will remain at rest until this body is healed completely.’

‘Then we will leave you to your rest.’ Garshaw said softly. ‘One of us will check on you though to monitor your condition. This disease is an unknown quantity.’

Kanan nodded. ‘Very well.’ He closed his eyes.

Sam straightened. ‘I’ll stay with him.’

Thoran opened his mouth to protest.

‘Thank you.’ Garshaw said simply. She motioned for the rest of them to leave and Janet gave Sam an encouraging look as she followed the Tok’ra out.

‘Is it, uh...’ Jonas gestured awkwardly towards the room.

‘The symbiote is in the Colonel.’ Janet confirmed. ‘Now all we can do is wait and see.’ She sighed as she struggled out of the suit and smiled a thank you as Jonas leaped forward to assist her. ‘The Major’s taking first watch.’

Teal’c frowned heavily, remaining silent.

Janet glanced back into the room through the force-shield. Sam sat beside the SG1 leader; watching over him. Janet frowned. She hoped their desperate measure worked because she didn’t want to imagine the impact to SG1 or to her friend if they lost Jack O’Neill so soon after losing Daniel.

o-O-o

Stop fighting me.

The order had just enough arrogance that Jack automatically resisted.

Fool, the symbiote muttered.

Snake, Jack rejoined.

There was a pause as though the symbiote had never experienced someone talking back to it in such a way.

Jack waited anxiously for it to continue pushing him into unconsciousness but it paused as though unsure.

I am saving your life. It had modified its tone.

I’m saving yours, Jack shot back.

The symbiote’s sigh whispered mentally through Jack’s head. The pressure of the initial invasion had receded and Jack was grateful for that. The first few moments when the symbiote had tried to force a blending only to realise Jack wasn’t too willing to participate had been torture.

You save my life only temporarily, the symbiote pointed out, and this would go better for you if you let me place you in a state of deep sleep as we agreed.

I know, Jack thought back irritated. He had agreed only...only when he’d felt the inextricable slide towards oblivion his instincts had kicked in and he’d fought to remain conscious. The fear that he would wake and be a hostage in his own body was too high.

Why do you do this, the symbiote asked.

Jack took a steadying breath. You have important information. You need to communicate it. I get to live.

There was a moment of silence.

I almost believe you mean that, the symbiote said eventually, but I feel that there is also another reason you have not even admitted to yourself.

The image of Carter leaning over him, the plea for him to accept the Tok’ra’s offer shining from her eyes flashed through his mind. She was hurting so much because of Daniel’s death; he couldn’t leave her...

Keep. Out. Of. My. Head. Jack practically yelled it at the snake.

Then sleep, O’Neill, the symbiote argued forcefully. It is the only way to prevent the exchange of information between us. I promise you, I will leave you when my information is relayed and you are well.

Jack could feel the honesty in the symbiote’s words in a way that he had never thought possible; it was truly sincere. It would leave him; it wouldn’t stay with someone so unwilling even at the cost of its own life. Jack felt his own fear seep away and guilt rise in its place. He pushed it away and focused on relaxing. The symbiote was right. The less they exchanged the better. The pull toward sleep was seductive.

He could feel movement beside him; a gloved hand on his arm.

Carter.

She had stayed with him as she had promised. He didn’t want to think about Carter; not with the snake in his head. He didn’t want to acknowledge that it had helped having her with him; didn’t want to acknowledge the guilt he felt knowing he’d walked out on her, left her behind, when she’d gone through the same experience with Jolinar. Stop thinking about it, Jack, he commanded himself. The less the snake knew the better...

The darkness beckoned and with a weary sigh he slipped into it.

o-O-o

Sam paced outside the room. She glanced through the force-shield. Jack, or rather Kanan, sat on the edge of the sleeping platform while Janet examined him with Thoran and Garshaw hovering nearby. The two days since they had arrived at the Tok’ra base had been tiring as they waited to see whether Kanan would be able to heal Jack. She had stayed by Jack’s side only relinquishing her place when ordered to by Janet to sleep or eat. She didn’t really care what anyone made of it. She had promised the Colonel she would stay with him and she took the promise seriously.

Not to mention she had spent the entire two days worried that the symbiote wouldn’t be able to save him. The strength of the infection had taken them all by surprise and he had been so ill. She’d been so scared that she was going to lose Jack. Sam paused in her pacing and rubbed a hand over her face as though to rub away the thought.

She would have liked to have blamed the whole thing on Daniel. His Ascension had hurt Sam deeply and she knew because of that she couldn’t bear the idea of losing another one of her team-mates. But she also knew that her fear had been so much worse because it was the Colonel; Jack.

Sam shook her head and stared at the crystalline ceiling. She wasn’t meant to care about her CO; to love him as much as she did. She wasn’t meant to feel the way she did especially given that he no longer felt the same way about her. It didn’t matter. She couldn’t stop herself from worrying that she would lose someone else she loved like she had lost so many others.

Then there was the guilt that continued to eat away at her: she had asked him to take the symbiote.

Do you really think he did it just because you asked him?’

Janet’s words resounded in Sam’s head. The General had quietly suggested that given her strong feeling that the Colonel should make the decision himself, she should be the one to ask him and Sam hadn’t been able to say no. Sam honestly believed that Jack hadn’t agreed just because she had asked. His initial response had been exactly what she had thought it would be; ‘Over my dead body.’ She snorted a little remembering it.

Sir. Please.’

Please don’t leave me.

Her words and the message behind them echoed in her head. She closed her eyes briefly before opening them again. It hadn’t been her plea that had convinced him. Jack embodied the concept of putting duty before self; before feeling feelings. He had walked away from her once when she’d pleaded with him to stay because he had believed it was a Goa’uld trick and he had shot her to save the base when she knew he had loved her. Even if Jack had some remnants of what he had felt for her, Sam couldn’t believe that it had swayed him although she acknowledged there was a part of her, a deeply hidden part of her that wished it had, wished she was that important to him.

Sam slumped against the wall and checked her watch. How long did it take, she thought grumpily.

‘Major Carter.’

Teal’c’s voice behind her had her turning sharply. It always surprised her how the Jaffa was able to move so stealthily.

‘Teal’c.’ She acknowledged him with a small smile.

‘Is there any news of O’Neill?’ Teal’c asked, clasping his hands behind his back.

‘Kanan woke up.’ Sam informed him. ‘Janet’s examining the Colonel to confirm the infection is gone.’

Teal’c inclined his head.

‘Where’s Jonas?’ Sam asked, noting the Kelownan’s absence.

‘He is conversing with some of the Tok’ra.’ Teal’c informed her. ‘He has managed to convince some to discuss the early years of the Tok’ra history with him.’

‘Good.’ Sam nodded. It was good that Jonas was keeping himself occupied. She had a feeling the Colonel wouldn’t appreciate Jonas being around too much while he was indisposed. She was aware that the relationship between the SG1 team leader and their newest recruit was embryonic at best and constrained by the incident on Kelowna that had led to the need to replace Daniel.

‘You should rest, Major Carter.’ Teal’c said softly.

‘We’ll be home soon.’ Sam deflected. ‘I’ll rest then.’ She sighed and leaned back against the wall. ‘I just wish my Dad was here.’

‘Garshaw indicated that his assignment was of the utmost importance.’ Teal’c replied.

‘I know. I just...’ Sam sighed again. What was she doing? She wasn’t a small child who needed the constant reassurance of her father. She was a military officer, damn it, and she would act like it. She straightened.

The force-shield dropped and Janet strode out without the protective suit.

‘Does...’ Sam began.

‘He’s clear.’ Janet confirmed. She pushed a stray strand of hair back from her face. ‘The symbiote has healed him.’

Sam felt the tension drain from her body and it was only the force of her will that kept her upright. ‘That’s good.’ Her eyes caught the grimace on Janet’s face. ‘Right?’

‘They’re claiming it will take more than a few days for Kanan to impart all his knowledge on his last mission.’ Janet said. Her lips thinned. ‘We’ve been asked to leave.’

Sam stared at her. ‘That can’t be right.’ She headed into the room without waiting for a reply and oblivious to Janet and Teal’c following her. Sam almost halted at the sight of Jack.

He sat on the bed, the sheet over his legs with his muscular chest exposed but it was the expression on his face that caught her off guard. He looked at her coldly without the usual familiar affection of his friendship warming his brown eyes. It wasn’t Jack; wasn’t the Colonel, Sam realised; it was Kanan. She pulled her attention away from him and focused instead on Garshaw.

‘Garshaw, Doctor Fraiser informs me that you’ve requested we leave while Kanan debriefs?’

‘Yes.’

‘That wasn’t part of our agreement.’ Sam said briskly. ‘We expected the Colonel would return with us once he was healed and the debrief would happen at the SGC.’

Thoran bristled. ‘We did not agree to that.’

Janet held his gaze. ‘The Colonel expected to return home once he was healed.’

‘Samantha,’ Garshaw said quickly before Thoran could reply, ‘perhaps there has been some misunderstanding.’

‘I don’t think so.’ Sam said, backing up Janet. She looked at the Tok’ra Councillor evenly. ‘The Colonel does not wish to be a host. The agreement was that it would only be a temporary situation.’

‘And we will abide by that.’ Garshaw said swiftly. ‘But until Kanan was able to speak with us we had no idea how long it would take for him to inform us of his mission and you must see that it would be easier for us to do the debrief here.’

Sam grimaced. If the Colonel was present he would have commented that it was so like the Tok’ra to keep something important from them. ‘That wasn’t made clear to us.’

Garshaw shot Thoran a look before she turned back to Sam. ‘That is unfortunate but it is the truth.’

‘The Colonel believed that he would only endure this for a short time.’ Sam said, determined not to let the matter drop.

‘Endure?’ Thoran barked. ‘Is this how you speak of blending?’

Sam bit her lip to prevent herself from speaking and saying something she would regret.

Garshaw placed a restraining hand on Thoran’s arm. ‘I would hope Jacob’s experience with Selmak would have shown you that blending is a wonderful experience.’

Sam’s chin went up. ‘My father enjoys his blending very much but he was a willing host. I’m all too aware of how much of an endurance it is when you’re not.’

‘Your own experience with Jolinar was against all our beliefs, Samantha, and I promise you; Colonel O’Neill will remain asleep and unaware.’ Garshaw added.

‘And just how long do you expect the Colonel to sleep?’ Janet shot back.

They all glared at each other.

‘I have promised him that I will leave him.’ Kanan said into the tense silence. ‘I make you the same promise.’

Sam looked at him reluctantly. Kanan looked back at her from the Colonel’s eyes. She looked away and back at Garshaw. ‘I’ll need to speak with General Hammond. He will need to know about the change in terms.’

‘Of course.’ Garshaw replied soothingly.

Thoran cleared his throat. ‘As I said to Doctor Fraiser, you should leave. We will return Colonel O’Neill once we have secured a host for Kanan.’

Sam stiffened. ‘You want him to stay here until then?’

‘It will be done quicker if Colonel O’Neill remains with us during that time.’

Thoran looked smug. Sam wanted to hit him. Teal’c looked like he was going to and Sam shifted subtly.

‘You can’t expect us to leave the Colonel with you indefinitely.’ Sam said passionately.

‘You don’t trust us?’ Thoran snapped.

Garshaw raised a hand before Sam could reply and frowned heavily. ‘I believe this matter would be best discussed with General Hammond. It is clear that we need to revisit the original agreement.’

‘On that much we are in agreement.’ Teal’c replied in a low growl.

Sam nodded. ‘We’ll go to the Stargate and request his presence.’

‘That would be appreciated, Samantha.’ Garshaw said firmly.

Sam darted another look at Kanan and turned to leave. She walked out with Janet and Teal’c at her heels.

‘What are your orders, Major?’ Janet asked briskly when they’d taken a few steps away from the room and paused in an adjoining corridor.

‘Stay with the Colonel, Janet.’ Sam said. ‘Teal’c and I will go to the gate and report to the General.’

Janet nodded.

‘Can you let Jonas know what’s happening?’ Sam asked tiredly. She wasn’t up to finding him and explaining it herself.

‘I will.’ Janet said.

Sam led the way back to the small room SG1 had been using as quarters. She and Teal’c retrieved their weapons and headed to the surface. They walked to the Stargate in silence.

Sam indicated for Teal’c to watch their position and she walked up to the DHD. She froze as she reached for the first symbol and withdrew her hand. The sense that she had failed overwhelmed her. She had failed the Colonel by asking him to take the symbiote; failed the General by letting the Tok’ra dance around the terms of the agreement and in failing to protect the Colonel’s interests.

‘Major Carter.’

‘I’m fine, Teal’c.’ She swallowed hard. ‘I just...I just need a minute.’

He took a step toward her. ‘You could not have predicted this turn of events, Major Carter.’

‘I should have done.’ Sam mumbled. She was aware more than most that the Tok’ra could play fast and loose with the truth when it came to their own survival. She shook the thought away. Feeling sorry for herself wouldn’t help the Colonel and the longer she stood doing nothing, the longer he had to endure the situation. She pressed her lips together and dialled the symbols for Earth. It was time to call in the cavalry.

o-O-o

‘What is taking so long?’

The Major’s frustration echoed in the small corridor and Teal’c shared it. General Hammond had arrived with Major Davis a few hours before to discuss the situation concerning O’Neill and the two had disappeared into the Council chamber to discuss the matter with the members of the Tok’ra Council present.

Teal’c knew his team-mate was once again regretting the absence of her father and his symbiote Selmak. Jacob’s presence may have assisted in enabling the Council to understand the viewpoint of the Tau’ri.

‘I’m sure the General’s doing all he can, Major.’ Janet spoke up before Teal’c could intercede and he inclined his head in agreement of the petite doctor’s words.

Jonas Quinn shifted beside Teal’c and grimaced. ‘It does seem to be taking a long time.’ He kept his voice low as though unwilling to reveal his words to the two women.

‘Indeed.’ Teal’c said softly. The Kelownan looked disheartened and Teal’c moved subtly shielding the young man from the rest of the corridor. ‘Of what are you thinking, Jonas Quinn?’

The Kelownan looked up startled. ‘Actually, I was thinking of Ayiana.’ He waved a hand. ‘If she had lived all this wouldn’t have been necessary.’

‘She gave her life saving others.’ Teal’c murmured.

‘And maybe that should bring me some comfort,’ Jonas said, waving a hand toward him, ‘but all I can think is that I should have done more.’

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. ‘What more could you have done, Jonas Quinn?’

‘I don’t know.’ Jonas admitted. ‘Something.’ He pulled a face. ‘Anything.’

‘I believe there was nothing you could have done to prevent her death.’ Teal’c said firmly. He was aware that his team-mate had formed a bond with the Ancient woman they had unearthed in Antarctica. She had been preserved in ice and had remarkably come back to life as they had warmed her body. Unfortunately, she had also given them all the virulent disease which had threatened Colonel O’Neill’s life. She had healed everyone but had fallen too sick to heal O’Neill.

‘I just wish...’ Jonas sighed heavily as he seemed to reluctantly accept that the way things had turned out had been the only way possible. ‘And this thing with the Colonel?’ He shook his head. ‘It all seems unreal.’

Teal’c couldn’t argue. Perhaps the Tok’ra’s omissions at the time of their offer had been simply an oversight but to his mind there had been too many such omissions in the past for it not to be suspicious. It was his view that the Tok’ra had simply seized the opportunity to provide a host to one of their kind and perhaps had hoped O’Neill would have a change of heart after the blending.

Suddenly, there was a sound at the other end of the corridor and SG1 turned to face the stream of Councillors that poured out. Sam led the way into the chamber and hurried over to the General who was conversing in quiet tones with Major Davis.

‘Sir?’ Sam asked urgently.

Teal’c could see the faint sheen of sweat that covered the General’s red brow. He had evidently given his all in the discussion.

‘Major Carter.’ The General glanced at the rest of SG1 and Janet lined up behind Sam and turned to Major Davis. ‘Could you give us a moment, Major?’

‘Of course.’ Davis nodded at them all and left the room.

The General tapped the long table beside him. ‘I’m afraid it isn’t good news.’

Sam flinched before she resumed her position. ‘Sir?’

‘The Tok’ra have insisted that we give them a reasonable amount of time to find a host.’ Hammond gave a small shrug. ‘More, they insist the debriefing must be done here and there are a number who are determined for us to leave. They made serious noises about breaking the alliance if we continued as one of them put it, ‘to demonstrate a lack of trust in their care of the Colonel.’’

‘What does that mean, sir?’ Janet asked bluntly, stepping forward.

‘It means we have no choice. The Pentagon and the President do not wish to risk the alliance at this point.’ Hammond admitted. ‘The Colonel remains with the Tok’ra and we depart. They promise to return Colonel O’Neill if no host has been found in a suitable period.’

‘And what is a suitable period?’ Jonas asked.

‘Let’s just say they remained vague but acknowledged that the longer the period, the more risk there would be to the Colonel and the symbiote in dissolving the blending.’ Hammond said.

Sam scowled and Teal’c noted she was not the only one.

‘Believe me, people,’ Hammond continued, ‘I am as unhappy as you are but in the short term, we feel it’s within our best interests to concede to the Tok’ra’s request. We think we may have more leverage once we have provided them with a reasonable amount of time.’ He seemed to understand their anxieties because he looked at each one of them solemnly. ‘Be assured that I will not allow this to go on indefinitely.’

He took a breath. ‘We have managed to secure agreement that the Colonel be woken momentarily to be informed.’ His pale blue eyes landed kindly on Sam. ‘I thought you and Teal’c might want to be the ones to speak with him, Major.’

Sam straightened. ‘Yes, sir.’

Teal’c inclined his head.

Hammond waved at Sam to lead the way. They walked through the corridors back to the room allocated to the Colonel. Janet and Jonas waited outside as Hammond entered with Sam and Teal’c.

Thoran and Garshaw were already present, speaking with the symbiote and no doubt informing him of the outcome of the Council’s deliberations. He wore Tok’ra clothing; beige pants with a brown over-shirt. It gave the Colonel a faintly alien air and Teal’c could admit to himself that it was unnerving.

Hammond cleared his throat. ‘If my people could have a moment with the Colonel.’

‘Of course.’ Garshaw said graciously. She turned to Sam. ‘I’m sorry for the misunderstandings that have arisen in this matter, Samantha. It was not our intention to mislead or misinform the Colonel or yourselves.’

Sam nodded smartly.

Garshaw looked for a moment as though she was going to say something else before she evidently changed her mind and nudged Thoran. They left.

‘You wish to speak with O’Neill?’ Kanan asked brusquely.

‘We do.’ Teal’c said without further explanation.

‘It will take some time for him to revive.’ Kanan laid down on the sleeping platform and closed his eyes.

A few minutes later, Jack blinked and opened his eyes. He gave a groan and rubbed his face.

‘Colonel?’ Sam stepped up beside him immediately.

Jack lowered his hand and looked at her. ‘So. What’s going on? Do I...’ he waved at his head.

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam said apologetically. ‘You’re still a host.’

‘Ah.’ Jack pulled a face. ‘Then why the wake-up call?’

‘There’s been a change in plan.’ She explained succinctly; the Tok’ra’s demand for a reasonable period of time, their insistence on the Colonel being left in their care.

Teal’c noted that O’Neill listened carefully until she came to a halt.

‘Well, there’s the other shoe.’ Jack commented dryly, eliciting a small smile from Sam. ‘So, how long is reasonable?’

‘The Tok’ra will not specify a time frame, O’Neill.’ Teal’c said.

‘Sir?’ Sam inquired as Jack remained silent.

Jack gave a sigh. ‘I’m going to be put back to sleep, right?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam said. ‘You won’t be aware of the time passing.’

Jack shrugged. ‘OK, then.’

‘Sir?’ Sam seemed shocked.

Teal’c was also surprised. He had not expected his friend to react with such equanimity.

Jack moved uncomfortable with their intense scrutiny. ‘I’m not saying I like this but I’m OK with it. He healed me; I owe him.’ He grimaced. ‘Maybe we should give them some time to find another host.’

‘We could stay, sir.’ Her mutinous expression gave away her intent to defy her orders.

‘Negative, Major.’ Jack shook his head. ‘I’ll be fine.’ He gestured at her. ‘You’re in charge of SG1 until I get back.’

Teal’c could see the gleam of pride that entered her eyes at O’Neill’s confidence in her abilities. ‘Yes, sir.’

He nodded at her. ‘Can you give me a minute with Teal’c?’

Sam shot Teal’c a questioning look. ‘Yes, sir.’ She went to place a hand on Jack’s arm but withdrew just before she reached him. ‘Hopefully, we’ll see you in a few days, Colonel.’

‘Yeahsureyoubetcha.’ Jack quipped bringing another smile to her face as Teal’c believed the Colonel had specifically intended.

Sam left and Teal’c was alone with his friend. ‘O’Neill,’ Teal’c began his own offer to remain beside O’Neill; he had some leeway given his own commitments to the Jaffa.

Jack waved a hand cutting him off. ‘I need you to stay with Carter.’

It was a request not an order despite the way it had been framed; Teal’c knew that. Just as he knew the request was not that of a team leader asking one team-mate to look out for another but of a man requesting another to look after his mate. Yet Teal’c knew O’Neill would never admit it nor would Teal’c ever press the matter with him. His team-mates had chosen to put aside their love to fight the Goa’uld and Teal’c admired their sense of honour and of duty; he would abide by their wishes in the matter despite his own wish to see them happy together. There was no need for further words to be spoken.

Teal’c bowed his head in agreement.

Jack looked around and grimaced. ‘I should, uh...’ he gestured at his head.

‘Rest well, my friend.’ Teal’c said gravely. He watched as O’Neill closed his eyes, as his breathing became even and regular, before he left the room. Sam and Jonas looked at him curiously but he didn’t explain what O’Neill had wanted.

‘It is done, General Hammond.’ Teal’c confirmed.

Hammond gave a sharp nod. ‘Then, let’s go home, people.’ He led the way out of the corridor; Davis, Janet and the nurse falling in behind him. Jonas gave Sam and Teal’c an embarrassed smile and followed the others. The original members of SG1 lingered.

Sam looked into the room and its single sleeping occupant. ‘I hate this.’ She admitted. ‘Leaving him behind.’ She shook her head. ‘It doesn’t feel right, Teal’c.’

He agreed with her but he hid his own unease. He knew O’Neill would never want her to risk her career disobeying the order to leave. ‘We must depart if we are to leave with the others.’

Sam grimaced but nodded. Teal’c cast one final look at O’Neill and fell into step beside her. He would keep his promise to O’Neill and remain by her side; he only hoped O’Neill would not regret his decision to remain alone amongst the Tok’ra.

o-O-o

Kanan stirred from behind his mental barriers as he felt Jack O’Neill shift back into deep sleep. He pushed him the final distance required to keep the host from waking and felt a moment of regret. O’Neill was a fascinating host. The human was unlike any he had previously encountered. So much spirit and independence. He could understand why Selmak so enjoyed being with Jacob. The glimpses he had seen of O’Neill’s memories, of his thoughts during his brief time awake had been enthralling.

He regretted that O’Neill did not want their blending to continue but he understood it more. O’Neill valued his freedom and independence; he could not countenance trading that not even for his own life. It surprised Kanan that his host had been so receptive to the change of plans given his earlier resistance. The reason had become apparent as O’Neill had talked with his team-mates; O’Neill believed Kanan was sincere and would leave him; Kanan had healed him and that was a debt that had to be repaid.

Major Samantha Carter. The blonde haired woman drifted into Kanan’s thoughts. She reminded him a little of Shallan in appearance. He thought the name wistfully. Ba’al’s lotar was a gentle creature; loving, compassionate. He could remember her touch and her scent even though his mission to Ba’al’s fortress had been completed many months before. He had loved her. He had left her with Ba’al. He had left her with his enemy; one who would not hesitate to kill her if her treachery were ever discovered.

The thought disturbed Kanan. He shook it away. His mind drifted again to O’Neill. There was no doubt in Kanan’s mind that O’Neill loved Samantha Carter. The human had been unable to stop the flood of emotions from filling him when he had woken and seen her. She was part of the reason why O’Neill had agreed to host a symbiote although he would not admit it. O’Neill hadn’t wanted to leave her.

A memory drifted into Kanan’s head. A blue force-shield stood between O’Neill and Carter; she was looking back at him with tears in her eyes, a plea for him to leave her yet he wouldn’t go. He loved her too much; would rather have died than to have left her.

The depth of feeling stunned Kanan. O’Neill would never have left Shallan, he realised. Shame filled him; overwhelmed him. How could he believe himself in love with her yet have left her?

‘Kanan.’ Thoran’s voice startled Kanan from his whirling thoughts and emotions, and he looked up to see his fellow Tok’ra beside him. ‘The Council is ready for your report.’

Kanan pushed away his internal turmoil as he stood and followed his old friend. He would consider it again once he had made his report, he decided. When that was over, then he would decide how he would go back and rescue Shallan. The brown eyes were backlit for a moment with white showing his determination. It was no longer acceptable to him to leave her behind.

fin.
 

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