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Fanfiction: Bend With the Wind

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S7 Birthright
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Teal'c and Jonas friendship.  Daniel and Sam friendship.  Teal'c/Ishta.  Teal'c/Drey'auc.  Daniel/Sha're.  Jonas/Kianna.  Sam/Jack UST. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Bend with the Wind

'There are men at the chappa'ai.' Neith reported breathlessly, interrupting the sparring session Ishta was in the middle of overseeing without a word of apology.

Ishta frowned at the look of 'I told you so' on Neith's face. It had been two days since they had left the Tau'ri, and despite agreeing to tretonin and making progress in being friendly to their new allies, Neith still believed they would be betrayed. Ishta also could not quite forget or forgive Neith's challenge to her leadership.

Ishta motioned for her staff weapon, missing Mala more than ever. 'How many?' She nodded at Ka'lel, the warrior who had stepped up in Mala's absence, to take care of getting their community hidden while Ishta went to investigate.

'Two.' Neith said crisply as they made their way out of the camp and back along the track. 'They have not moved. Tali and Kao'pi stayed behind to watch them.' Her face creased in pain but she didn't complain at the pace Ishta set and Ishta didn't slow down to accommodate her.

It wasn't long before they reached where Tali and Kao'pi were hidden. Ishta approved of their location; they were well concealed but had a good view of the chappa'ai. They watched for a long moment.

Ishta felt some of her tension leave her body as she registered the nature of the two men. One was an old warrior dressed in the old fashion with a swirling grey cloak and a head plate that caught the sunlight. The young man with him was barely into adulthood, dressed much more simply in tunic and leggings; an apprentice. They carried weapons but they waited – the old man more patiently than the younger.

A fragment of a remembered conversation came to her and Ishta's lips pressed tightly together. If she was right, she would need to remind Teal'c when he visited next that she decided who came to Hak'tyl not he.

'Stay here.' Ishta ordered. 'I believe I know who they are.'

Neith sent her a look which was a strange mix of annoyance and worry. Ishta ignored her and moved away. She changed direction to ensure that she appeared to the men as though approaching from a different direction to where the others were hidden. If she was wrong she did not want to give away an advantage.

She approached without any attempt to conceal her footsteps and the two men straightened. They turned in her direction and waited. She stopped just beyond their reach should they attempt a physical attack. The old man's eyes warmed with approval. Up close she could see the marks of Apophis upon their forehead and something eased within her.

'Tak mal tiak, Master Bra'tac.' Ishta bowed her head solemnly.

'Well met, Ishta of Hak'tyl.' Bra'tac responded. He bowed his head in return. 'May I present Rya'c, son of Teal'c.'

Ishta's gaze moved to the young man. She could see little of Teal'c in the shape of his face or his stance; his colouring was lighter; his build wiry where Teal'c was sturdy, but there was a solid and assured confidence with a hint of wariness in his dark eyes that reminded her of Teal'c. Perhaps, she considered, Rya'c was Drey'auc's son in form, but his father's in spirit.

Rya'c bowed his head. 'My father speaks highly of you.'

Ishta heard the curiosity and the uncertainty of why Teal'c did so in Rya'c's words underneath the surface compliment. 'And of you.' She responded with amusement.

Rya'c looked confused at her response. Ishta wondered at it; did Rya'c believe that his father was unlike others and not prone to praising his child? She let the thought drift away as she turned her attention back to Bra'tac.

'Forgive me for the lack of welcome but Teal'c did not inform me that you had been told of our location.' Ishta said bluntly. Her belief that Teal'c knew she had expected he would not tell anyone went unsaid.

Bra'tac nodded sharply in understanding. 'I requested the address when Teal'c informed us of your new alliance with the Tau'ri.' He smiled wryly. 'He impressed upon us the need for secrecy. We are aware of the issues.'

Ishta smiled humourlessly. 'I was unaware that an alliance with the Tau'ri extended to the rebel Jaffa.'

'It does not.' Bra'tac agreed, his dark eyes twinkling. 'But your alliance with Teal'c does.'

She cursed her pale skin for the blush that she could feel heating her face. She sensed Rya'c's gaze sharpen with interest and held her position proudly.

'We have a…proposal.' Bra'tac continued smoothly. 'And we bring supplies.' He motioned to the sacks by his feet that she had ignored. 'Food, water, blankets.' He gestured off to where the other women hid. 'Perhaps your friends could assist in carrying them to the camp.'

Ishta bowed her head again. He had made his point; he had always known he was being watched, and she and her warriors were not as good as thought they were. The failure smarted although Ishta comforted herself with the thought that Bra'tac was a former First Prime and one did not achieve that position without a gift for warfare. She pressed her lips together and motioned at the others to join them.

Neith was the first beside her, breathless again but a fierce look on her face that dared anyone to mention it. Ishta introduced the group with quiet authority to Bra'tac and Rya'c. Neith sent her another 'I told you so' look and Ishta ignored it again; she knew she could not keep doing so without her leadership looking weak.

Bra'tac examined each of the female warriors carefully and harrumphed. He pulled his cloak around him as they set off for the camp.

'I admit I am surprised that you would wish to visit us.' Ishta murmured.

'Because you are female and claim to be a warrior?' Bra'tac asked bluntly. 'Or because you stole your symbiotes from other Jaffa until the Tau'ri offered you another way?'

'Both.' Ishta replied, refusing to let her ire rise at his well aimed blows.

'Even an old tree must bend if it expects to survive when the wind blows a different way.' Bra'tac said forcefully. 'As to the rest; I have blood enough on my own hands not to judge those who are simply trying to survive.'

Ishta inclined her head at the generous judgement; she had not been so kind to herself in the past few days as she had considered their former actions. 'And how far does the tree bend?' She asked instead.

'It bends enough that I no longer have a symbiote.' Bra'tac replied, ignoring the sharp looks he received in the wake of his pronouncement. 'I believe we have our new dependence on tretonin in common.'

Since Teal'c had declined to actually say the words out loud to her that he was taking the drug, Ishta was bemused at Bra'tac's casual acceptance.

'Do you accept that females can be warriors?' Neith asked challengingly.

Ishta was aware that Rya'c and her own people were all eager to hear the answer.

'There was a time when I did not.' Bra'tac admitted with an ease that surprised Ishta. 'But I have since made the acquaintance of the Tau'ri and seen that a woman may have the heart of a warrior.'

'My father himself fights alongside Major Carter.' Rya'c added. 'She is a great warrior.'

Ishta nodded. She had liked the Tau'ri woman.

'We need all warriors in the fight for our freedom. Our old prejudices must be forgotten.' Bra'tac said. 'No woman I have known has ever failed to fight for her home or her children, and our cause is a fight for both.'

'Yes, we have always been expected to defend our homes yet we are denied all but the most basic of training.' Ishta commented dryly.

Bra'tac's dark eyes gleamed suddenly. 'Teal'c informed me of your sparring session. He said that what you lacked in discipline, you made up for in passion.'

Ishta bristled; felt the others behind her bristle too at the suspected sleight to Ishta's prowess as a warrior.

'But I suspect passion only goes so far.' Bra'tac added with a huff. 'I will no doubt see for myself when we train.'

His words made Ishta stop abruptly by the edge of the camp. She turned to him unable to keep the shock from her face. 'You intend to train us?' That a former First Prime of Bra'tac's reputation would offer them – women – warrior training…it was almost an unthinkable break with tradition.

'Of course.' Bra'tac said and carried on walking.

Rya'c smiled sympathetically at her and Ishta hurried to catch up.

o-O-o

'Jaffa female warriors? Really?' Jonas Quinn leaned forward, his tunic coming dangerously close in Teal'c's opinion to the food before him. 'Fascinating.'

'Daniel Jackson expressed much the same view.' Teal'c said dryly.

It felt good to sit with his friend once more. Jonas only returned to the SGC rarely for the ongoing treaty negotiations of a friendship alliance between Kelowna and Earth. He'd turned up earlier that day, hoping to catch up with his former team. Unfortunately O'Neill was at Area 51 supervising an exercise involving the 302 squadron and the ship he and Teal'c had appropriated to rescue Major Carter. With Daniel Jackson and the Major involved in training new scientists for another few hours, it had left Teal'c alone with Jonas for lunch.

Teal'c missed Jonas. Since his departure, Teal'c had realised how much he had enjoyed the younger man's company and their shared outsider view of the Tau'ri. But Jonas had returned to his home planet to help his people rebuild in the wake of the attack by Anubis and Teal'c respected his decision.

Jonas's lips twitched with rueful amusement. He picked up a bread roll and dipped it into the stew he had chosen. 'I'm not surprised. Anthropologically speaking, the group's creation and subsequent community-building are very interesting.'

'Indeed.' Teal'c allowed.

'That these women came together to save female children, pushed beyond their own training to become warriors to ensure they could take on male Jaffa in their pursuit of obtaining symbiotes…' Jonas grinned as he scooped up more stew with another torn piece of roll. 'Like I said, fascinating.'

'I believe Daniel Jackson spoke with many during his time at the camp.' Teal'c said. 'I am certain he will appreciate a discussion regarding his findings.' His dark eyes sparkled with repressed mirth.

'You mean the Colonel didn't let him talk about it at the briefing?' Jonas laughed. 'Can I just say that I'm pleased to know it's not just me who brings that out in him?'

Teal'c inclined his bald head in understanding and heaped a stack of mashed potato on his fork. 'I believe O'Neill was relieved to return to the SGC.' He said. 'Ishta and her seconds preferred to deal with Major Carter and myself.'

'I guess that's understandable.' Jonas mopped up the last of the stew. 'You both represent known elements to her; female and Jaffa.'

'I believe you are correct.' Teal'c demurred. It had even taken some time for Ishta and her people to relax around Daniel Jackson who was easily the most approachable of the Tau'ri men in SG1.

Jonas smirked at him and picked up the banana he had selected. 'So I hear you and Ishta…' he trailed off and waggled his eyebrows violently.

Teal'c paused in eating and glared at him across the table.

'Oh come on,' Jonas sat back and gestured at him, 'you can't expect to kiss a woman in the gate room and not have everyone gossiping about it. I had three people tell me before I even made it to General Hammond's office this morning. And besides, you watched me make out with Stacey from the Colonel's living room window so I don't think the Jedi Death Glare is entirely warranted just because I inquired after your love life.'

Teal'c conceded that Jonas might have a point. He resumed eating.

'So?' Jonas prompted when Teal'c remained silent. 'Are you and Ishta together?'

'We are not.' Teal'c said with regret. He pushed his empty plate aside and reached for his dessert. 'It would be difficult to maintain a relationship given our commitments and responsibilities elsewhere.'

Ishta understood that his first priority was the fight against the Goa'uld to win the Jaffa freedom and he understood she had a higher purpose in saving the children Moloc would put to death; to the people she led.

'That's a shame.' Jonas said.

Teal'c inclined his head. Ishta was a good woman; beautiful, fierce and intelligent. If circumstances were different, he might think of courting her as he had once courted Sho'nac; Drey'auc. The emotional aches that always came when he thought of either slid through him although he was certain there was no evidence of it on his face. But circumstances were not different and Teal'c had learned his lesson with Drey'auc.

His wife had dissolved their marriage because Teal'c had left to fight for their freedom. They had forgiven each other in the wake of Rya'c's brainwashing; he for her betrayal; she for his. But while Drey'auc had made it clear that she remained available to him, he had rarely sought her arms again. Especially after Sho'nac had re-entered his life and had been killed by Tanith. Still, he had mourned Drey'auc's death and she had left a void that he had not sought to fill until Ishta had reached out to him.

She was as alone as he, Teal'c knew that. They had that much in common.

'We are agreed that should I visit Hak'tyl again…' Teal'c let the rest remain unsaid.

'Oh, so friends with benefits.' Jonas declared, flapping the banana skin in Teal'c's direction.

Teal'c raised his eyebrow.

'Cassie told me the term referred to a close friend with whom you were intimate occasionally but not in an actual relationship.'

Jonas's tone resembled that of someone repeating information learned verbatim. Teal'c wondered how Cassandra Fraiser knew of such a term and determined that it would be best not to inform O'Neill until Teal'c himself had assessed the situation. He turned his head considering whether the phrase did apply to his arrangement with Ishta.

He inclined his head toward Jonas. It was an acceptable term.

Jonas nodded briskly and then grinned at him again. 'So when are you going back to Hak'tyl?'

Teal'c allowed a small smile to curve his lips upwards. 'It is not yet determined, however, I informed Master Bra'tac of Hak'tyl yesterday when I accompanied Doctor Fraiser to her clinic at the Alpha site. He and Rya'c have gone today to approach Ishta with a proposal of an alliance between Hak'tyl and ourselves.'

'Giving you another valid excuse to visit?' Jonas noted with glee, pointing at him. 'Clever.'

Teal'c demurred with another tilt of his head. He set aside the empty dessert bowl and reached for his own selection of fruit, pulling the filled plate toward him. 'And what of you, Jonas Quinn? How do you fare on Kelowna?'

'OK, I guess.' Jonas squirmed in the hard plastic seat of the mess hall. 'They're allowing me to travel here for the negotiations without Commander Terra anymore so that's a good thing.'

'You still require a bodyguard on Kelowna.' Teal'c stated.

'So they tell me.' Jonas shrugged, his young face flushing with embarrassment. 'I don't know why because it's not like I go out in public a lot. Most of my work is done at the old institution or in the Council chambers so…' He shifted a little. 'I enjoy the research. I pretty much have carte blanche. The Council meetings though…' he sighed and looked over at Teal'c ruefully, 'there are times when I find myself thinking the Colonel would have just zatted everybody already and wishing I could.'

Teal'c nodded. O'Neill was not known for his patience.

'I miss you guys.' Jonas admitted gruffly.

'As we miss you.' Teal'c confirmed gently. He motioned with his apple. 'I am certain you are making new friends, Jonas Quinn.'

Jonas smiled shyly and leaned forward again. 'There is someone.'

Teal'c raised his eyebrow, encouraging his young friend to continue.

'Her name's Kianna.' Jonas's face lit up. 'She's smart. Crazy smart. Like Sam smart, you know? She gets everything straight away and the way she's caught up on all the Goa'uld stuff is amazing. I think she might have surpassed me.' His hands weaved through the air expressively. 'She and I, uh, well, we've been spending lots of time working together and I think we could be heading, you know, in that direction.'

'You shall have to bring her to Earth so we may meet her.' Teal'c said solemnly. 'We can have another barbeque.' It was a mild joke based on Jonas's past experiences of dating on Earth but part of Teal'c was serious about meeting the woman who had so engaged his friend; they were family after all.

Jonas laughed. 'I don't think so.' He sat back in his chair again, relaxed and looking as happy as Teal'c had ever seen him. 'It's nice knowing the rules this time round.'

Teal'c understood. The ways of the Tau'ri were often confusing especially in matters of the heart. Jonas Quinn had adapted to Earth, bending to the rules of his new home but he had stumbled occasionally. Teal'c continued to stumble himself although such moments were rare given his lengthy time among the Tau'ri. For his own part, Teal'c had never considered courting someone on Earth regardless of his regard for the Tau'ri women he knew. He finished his apple and determined the rest could wait.

'Perhaps we should go in search of Daniel Jackson before you need to depart?'

Jonas grinned at him again. 'You always have the best ideas, Teal'c.'

Teal'c smiled back at him. 'Indeed.'

o-O-o

Daniel shoved his glasses back up his nose and watched the last new recruit leave the training room with a sigh of relief. He threw a look over his shoulder at Sam who was packing up the laptop.

'Is it just me or did they all seem to not take this seriously?' Daniel wondered out loud.

Sam shrugged; her attention on the laptop monitor. 'They're new. They haven't faced their first emergency lockdown or off-world attack. They haven't lost anyone yet.'

Daniel frowned in concern at the bitterness in her voice. 'Hey, are you OK?'

'I'm fine.' Sam replied.

He cast a disbelieving look in her direction and she rolled her eyes at him. 'I was thinking of Mala.'

'The Jaffa woman who died?' Daniel clarified sympathetically.

Sam nodded. 'We'd gotten friendly and I think we could have been really good friends, you know?' She tapped a button and Daniel could see the laptop begin its shutdown.

'I know.' Daniel said softly. 'But if it's any comfort, I think she died doing exactly what she wanted; fighting the Goa'uld in her own way, and protecting her people.'

Sam nodded. She turned to Daniel, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her green BDU pants. 'You know we never got a chance to discuss Hak'tyl when you got back.'

'It's fascinating.' Daniel admitted, gathering up his own strewn paperwork that had somehow managed to end up everywhere. It reminded him of his days in academia; he really had been the most unorganised lecturer anywhere. 'That they've evolved this matriarchal society to protect the female children of their tribe? I'd have loved to have spent more time there.'

'I'm sure.' Sam said teasingly.

Daniel blushed but averted his gaze.

'Hey,' Sam poked his upper arm with a stiff finger, 'are you OK?'

'First: ow!' Daniel complained, rubbing his upper arm and shooting her a look of mock outrage. 'And second, I'm OK.'

Her elegantly arched eyebrow rose in a good imitation of their Jaffa team-mate.

'I just…' Daniel sighed and waved a hand at her. 'I was thinking about Teal'c and Ishta.'

Both of Sam's eyebrows went upward. 'OK.'

'I mean, not them kissing in the gate room because, you know, that was like seeing my older brother making out with his girlfriend and I'm still trying to erase that image from my mind…'

Sam snorted.

'But, thinking about them as a couple.'

'Are they a couple?' Sam asked unplugging the laptop from the projector.

'I don't know.' Daniel admitted, pushing his mess of paper into a blue folder and stuffing it under his arm. 'But I was thinking about Drey'auc – Jack told me she was dead, by the way…'

'Ah.' Sam hovered beside him. Neither of them moved for the door as though agreed their discussion should remain within the private confines of the room.

Daniel sighed and pursed his lips. '…and I was thinking if Teal'c's moved on, maybe it's time I did too? I mean, Sha're's been gone a long time; longer than Drey'auc.' Although he acknowledged that he hadn't really begun the grieving process until he had returned from his Ascension; before he'd been stuck between anger and guilt unable to move forward.

Sam winced but she reached out with her free hand and clasped his arm. 'It's not a race, Daniel. Everyone grieves in their own time. You'll move on when you're ready.'

'How do I know if I'm ready though?' Daniel asked bluntly. There were days when he missed Sha're so badly he ached with it. But he recognised that there were days when he looked at another woman, one who he admired greatly, and felt the urge to make her smile again at him, to want something more than the friendship he had.

'I think you'll know when you…know.' Sam said eventually.

'Yeah,' Daniel smiled sadly, 'but you know there are days when I think I know and there are days when I think I definitely don't so…' he lifted one shoulder in an abbreviated shrug. 'Sometimes I worry that I'll never know.'

'I get that.' Sam said softly.

There was understanding lighting her eyes in a way that had Daniel regarding her with an inquisitive look.

Sam shifted the weight of the laptop tucked under one arm. 'After Hailey told me she was pregnant, I told Janet I felt a little stuck.' She lifted a hand as though to stop Daniel's immediate and surprised thought that Sam was broody. 'Not that, but more that Jennifer had something happening in her life and I…don't.'

'You mean apart from saving the planet, exploring new worlds, risking life and limb every day…' Daniel teased lightly.

Sam chided him with a glance.

'Sorry.' Daniel muttered.

'Don't get me wrong, I love my job but…' Sam waved at him. 'I've been on SG1 a long time and career-wise, if I make the promotion for Lieutenant Colonel at the next board, they're going to expect me to be leading things.'

'You led things on Hak'tyl.' Daniel pointed out. 'Didn't Jack say General Hammond was giving you another commendation or something?'

Sam gestured at him. 'Leading as in leading full time not just because I'm a woman.' She paused. 'Although it was pretty neat the way Ishta ordered you all to stay outside the tent.'

Daniel laughed at her gleeful expression. 'I had to placate Jack with power bars.'

Sam laughed back. 'Anyway, it's not just about work. I've been kind of thinking about what I want from the rest of my life too.'

'And?' prompted Daniel when she fell silent. He wondered if Jack figured into her thinking. While he wasn't entirely certain of the state of play between them, he believed she still had some romantic feeling for their team leader even if she pretended otherwise. Daniel was more in the dark about Jack's feelings for Sam. Sometimes, it seemed like Jack was wooing Sam with Goa'uld ships and promises of photos of 302 exercises, and other times it seemed like Jack was content with the friendship he had built with Sam.

'I don't know yet.' Sam confessed ruefully.

'Maybe you'll know when you're ready.' Daniel said, batting her own words back at her.

Sam smiled at him knowingly. She jerked her blonde head towards the door. 'Come on. I was hoping to catch up with Jonas while he's on base.'

Daniel hurried to fall into step beside her, inwardly pleased. He thought Jonas at least would appreciate the anthropological observations Daniel had observed of the Hak'tyl community.

o-O-o

Ishta watched as Bra'tac finished eating and sat back. For an instant, she regretted that the food was so basic but it was all they had and neither Bra'tac nor Rya'c seemed to enjoy it nevertheless. One of the women moved to collect the dishes and Rya'c pushed himself to his feet.

'I will see to our camp while you talk.' Rya'c said.

'Stay close.' Bra'tac ordered fondly.

'Kar'yn!' Ishta waved the young girl at the tent flap forward. 'Show Rya'c where he and Master Bra'tac can camp.'

Kar'yn nodded and waved towards the entrance, motioning Rya'c out into the brisk cold of the night air. She followed Rya'c out.

Neith shifted beside Ishta. 'You mentioned training?'

Ishta cannot fault her for her impatience to know but she darted a look of admonishment all the same; it was not Neith's place to question Bra'tac.

'I did.' Bra'tac answered mildly, his eyes on Ishta. 'It is part of the proposal.'

'Then perhaps we should hear it all.' Ishta said.

Bra'tac inclined his head. 'You have built a community here; one that Teal'c much admired. He believed that it may offer a solution to a problem that we have struggled with for many years.'

Ishta gestured for him to continue as she picked up her goblet of water.

'Namely, a base for the non-combatants.' Bra'tac said. 'We have established camps many times on Chulak, on other planets but… we have not successfully managed to establish a community spirit in the same way you have achieved here.'

'You flatter us.' Ishta said dryly.

Bra'tac smiled. 'It is our proposal that we request you consider adding to your community.'

'You would endanger us all.' Neith said harshly. 'This is…'

Ishta held up her hand and glared at her.

'Your location would remain secret.' Bra'tac said mildly. 'We would adhere to any precautions you would wish to take.'

'But…'

'Neith.' Ishta snapped. 'If you cannot be silent, you can wait outside.'

Neith flushed but subsided.

'What is it you wish exactly?' Ishta asked pointedly, returning her attention to Bra'tac. 'Hak'tyl has a purpose and it is not to provide the rebel Jaffa with another base.'

'I would say cal mah.' Bra'tac countered.

Sanctuary, Ishta thought poignantly.

'I would propose we start with women and children; the elderly.' Bra'tac said.

'You speak of what Hak'tyl can provide for the rebel Jaffa but not of what you can provide for us.' Ishta said forcefully.

'Supplies of food, water and provisions in addition to those agreed with the Tau'ri.' Bra'tac said. 'And the training we have already mentioned.'

'You would provide this training?' Ishta pressed.

'I or one of my apprentices.' Bra'tac confirmed, pushing his hands into the folds of his cloak. 'Again, the location can be here or at another of your choosing.'

'And if we fail to agree to your proposal?' Ishta asked bluntly.

'Then Rya'c and I will return to our mission of recruiting Jaffa to our cause.' Bra'tac said firmly. 'You have nothing to fear from us.'

Ishta inclined her head, the fall of blonde hair drifting across her vision for a moment. 'We will need time to discuss this.'

'I will leave you.' Bra'tac stood, flowing to his feet with an ease of a much younger man. 'My thanks for your hospitality.' He bowed.

Ishta stood and returned the bow. She stayed standing until Bra'tac had left the tent. She sank back into a cross-legged position and waved a hand at the gathered women. 'Your thoughts?'

Ka'lel spoke first, beating Neith to the punch. 'The proposal has merit.' She shot a look daring Neith to interrupt her and Neith rolled her eyes but indicated for Ka'lel to continue. 'If we agree to women and children only and put proper precautions in order, I believe the additional supplies would be worth it.'

'We would need the additional supplies if we are to feed more mouths.' Tali commented dryly.

'But the offer of training is attractive.' Neith said. 'Master Bra'tac is renowned and respected. I for one would welcome an opportunity to train with him.'

They all looked at her surprised at the positive comment.

Neith flushed. 'I do see the merit of the proposal. But we do have a higher purpose here,' she continued, 'and we risk that in opening Hak'tyl to outsiders who have no connection to our cause.'

'Is not the cause of the rebel Jaffa complementary to our own?' Ka'lel rebutted. 'We seek to free the girl children of the Goa'uld's decree; they seek to free us all.'

'Neith is correct.' Ishta allowed firmly. . 'Our cause remains our highest priority.' She nodded in acknowledgement to Neith who looked back at her with a mixture of stunned pleasure and confusion. 'But so too is Ka'lel.'

She paused, preparing what she wanted to say. How could she explain her own need to assuage the guilt she felt for every life she had taken to procure a symbiote? How the offer from Bra'tac felt like an opportunity for redemption? 'Do we not also have a duty to all Jaffa women and children in need of sanctuary?'

'We could accept only those that we agree to,' Ka'lel suggested, 'and find planets to act as way-stations. The address to Hak'tyl would not be given to those choosing to come here but remain with those of our leadership.'

'I would also suggest we train elsewhere.' Neith said. 'To lessen the risk.'

Ishta looked around the group. 'We are agreed?' Everyone nodded. 'I will inform Master Bra'tac in the morning.'

The others stood to go and Ishta got tiredly to her feet again.

'Neith.' Ishta said firmly, indicating she should remain behind.

Neith hovered unhappily, her fingers twitching and fidgety until they were alone. Ishta sighed, finding herself more weary than ever and paced away a few steps, needing the distance.

'You cannot keep challenging my leadership.' Ishta said finally.

Neith's mouth turned downwards unhappily. 'I spoke out of turn and I apologise.' Her words and stance were stiff.

'You have my word that when I request it or if we are alone in private you may speak freely,' Ishta continued, 'as you did tonight.'

Neith inclined her head.

'Mala was always able to negotiate a path between us but she…she is no longer here.' Ishta sighed again. Her grief for her friend and sister priestess rose up unexpectedly, closing her throat and stinging the back of her eyes with tears. They had all mourned Mala at the night of her funeral rite but the loss was still raw.

'I miss her too.' Neith said softly.

Ishta turned and as their eyes connected, she could see Neith was sincere and fighting tears as much as Ishta herself was doing. Neith dropped her gaze first, swiping at her face.

'We will need to rebuild our trust.' Ishta said gently. 'I cannot lose you too, Neith.'

'I will do better.' Neith promised.

Ishta nodded. 'You should leave. Nesa will be waiting for you.'

Neith turned to go but halted after a step and turned back. She straightened her shoulders and raised her chin. 'You said in private I could speak freely?'

Ishta braced herself but indicated for Neith to continue.

'Teal'c was wrong to give our location to Master Bra'tac and his son.' Neith said firmly. 'No matter how well-intentioned or how much to our benefit this alliance may be, he was wrong and you should not allow your attachment to him to blind you to that.'

'I agree with you, Neith, and I intend to tell him when I see him next. You should also know that there is no attachment.' Ishta said forcefully. 'We shared a night, Neith, we did not exchange promises beyond the moment.'

'That is a pity.' Neith surprised her by saying. 'Teal'c is a good man; you are a good woman. You both deserve more than a night.'

A movement by the door had their heads snapping around quickly; Neith moving for her weapon even as they both registered it was Rya'c.

'My apologies,' Rya'c said stiffly, 'Master Bra'tac sent me to give you this.' He held out a box. His young expressive face was as impassive as Teal'c's and Ishta could once again see the father in the son.

Ishta stepped forward to take the box and looked at Neith who quietly murmured an excuse, darted around the young man and left. Ishta opened the box and pursed her lips at the small vials of tretonin.

'Doctor Fraiser gave them to us when my father informed her of our intention to travel here.' Rya'c explained.

Ishta nodded. 'Thank you.'

He tilted his head and made to walk out.

'Rya'c.' Ishta called out to him, halting him before he could step outside the tent. She met his inquiring gaze and lifted a hand from the wooden box. 'I would speak to you about what you overheard.'

Rya'c straightened and clasped his hands behind his back. 'What transpires between my father and yourself is no business of mine.'

'Is it not?' Ishta asked gently. 'You are his son. Your mother was his wife. He spoke of both of you.'

Rya'c's young face flushed. His chin rose proudly. 'When I was younger I perhaps would not have understood why my father would seek the company of a woman who was not my mother, but I am a man now. My father has sacrificed much in the fight to free us from the Goa'uld.' He opened his mouth and hesitated to speak. He closed it and gestured at her. 'If I may be so bold, I believe I agree with…Neith?'

She nodded to indicate he had gotten the name correct and waved back at him. 'You honour me with such a thought but as I said; your father and I have made no commitment to each other.'

They could not, Ishta thought with regret. Both she and Teal'c were committed to their causes. The only promise they could exchange was an intention to spend another night together should the opportunity arise.

Rya'c acknowledged her statement with a tilt of his head. He motioned with his head toward the entrance. 'I should return to Master Bra'tac.'

'Of course.' Ishta said.

Rya'c made to leave but halted and turned back again. 'Did he really speak to you of my mother?'

'Yes,' Ishta replied, surprised at the question, 'he told me that she was fierce and gentle; that she would always have a place in his heart.'

'He never speaks to me of her.' Rya'c confessed quietly.

'Do you ever speak of her to him?' Ishta rejoined.

Rya'c shook his head and smiled at her cheekily. 'My mother would have said the same thing.'

'Then I believe we both would have made our point well.' Ishta said wryly.

'Indeed.' Rya'c replied lightly. He bowed deeply; a mark of respect. 'I will leave you to your rest.'

'Thank you, Rya'c.'

'Good night, Ishta.' Rya'c ducked out of the entrance and Ishta was alone.

Alone like always. It was one thing she and Teal'c had in common for all they had people around them.

She stowed the box of tretonin away carefully and sat down, thinking of all that happened; all that was still to happen. Hak'tyl would see many changes in the coming days; Ishta was certain of that. She only hoped she and her people would bend rather than break.

fin.
 

 


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
q_d_o_g
Jan. 1st, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
I am SO obsessed with this series. When I see an update it never fails to put me in an awesome mood and I think I have read this from the beginning like at least 10 times. FANTASTIC.
rachel500
Jan. 2nd, 2011 10:31 am (UTC)
Hopefully I'll be writing more Aftershocks this year, I was a bit surprised when I did my review that I'd written so little! Glad you love it so much! :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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