Closure, chapter 2


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* denotes host/symbiote internal communication

-
We are walking with Captain Carter, along a ridge, not far from the chaapa'ai.

"You feeling any better?" Martouf asks.

"Yeah, thanks."

"Please, ah, tell me of Jolinar."

We both eagerly await her answer.

"I get the feeling you knew him way better than I ever did."

Martouf smiles a little, thinking of Jolinar. "I'm sure. For one thing, he was a she."

"What? You're kidding!" Captain Carter looks shocked.

Again, I am struck by the thought that her time as a host must have been very brief indeed, and that they clearly did not blend.

"Well, actually, that isn't accurate. The symbiote does not have a gender. However, Jolinar has always been in female hosts," Martouf explains, trying to make her understand.

"Well, actually, the host I found him in, her in, was a male."

"Really? Must have been another method of hiding from the Ashrak. Tell me of Jolinar's last days."

What happened to Rosha? Both Martouf and I very much want to ask this young woman that, but we must take it slow, not wanting to scare her. I sense she is not completely comfortable with her experience as Jolinar's host.

"Well, it's kind of weird, it's like I'm left with these intuitions, feelings. I know this, she sacrificed herself to save me. That speaks a ton about her character as far as I'm concerned," She tells us.

Jolinar sacrificed herself for her! Our brave, lovely Jolinar! Suddenly it all becomes real to Martouf. Suddenly he can no longer deny the truth. Jolinar is dead. I feel his deep grief, feel how our throat constricts. He is close to tears, as am I, but I have spent some short time thinking about her, remembering her, and trying to come to terms with her death.

It will be a long time yet before I am able to think about her without feeling like crying. However, my dear Martouf is inconsolable right now, and he needs some time to get his feelings under control. We do not want to break down and cry in front of this young woman.

*Martouf? Do you wish me to take over?*

*Yes. Please...please do.*

"I'm sorry, are you okay?" Captain Carter asks, sensing our distress.

Martouf bows his head and gives me control. I take a moment, doing my best to control my emotions before looking up. I try to smile reassuringly at her.

"I'm sorry, Martouf is having a more difficult time handling this than I am."

That is a lie - though right now he is reacting rather strongly, while I...think I can suppress my feelings for a little while. We both look forward to spending some time alone, grieving, but we also desperately need to know what Captain Carter can tell us about Jolinar's last days.

"So you're his symbiote, Lantash, right?"

"Yes. Martouf is the name of my host." Stupid, stupid! She knows that! Think, man! Get yourself together and talk to her. Normally.

"Yeah, I knew that. I seem to know pretty much everything about you. When I'm with you, I feel a different sort of, I don't know, recognition, than I do with the other Tok'ra. Is there something different about your relationship to Jolinar?"

"Jolinar and I were together for nearly…100 of your years. She was my mate," I tell her.

"Oh. Ho…How does that work? She was whose mate? Martouf or Lantash?"

I smile, again thinking of Jolinar and Rosha. This time my thoughts of them are happy. "Both." I briefly think of how Martouf reacted the first time he met my mates, when he had just become my host. It is a nice memory.

Martouf is feeling better, and we both agree it is better he takes over control. If Captain Carter does not feel comfortable with symbiotes yet, it is better she talks to Martouf.

I dip my head, giving Martouf control.

He smiles, a little sadly, at Captain Carter. "Now let me attempt an explanation. As I said before, ours is a truly symbiotic relationship. So what I feel, Lantash feels. And what Lantash feels, I feel."

"So when one of you is in love, you both feel it."

"Yes, we love as one. And, and we mourn as one."

Martouf and I both feel a wave of sorrow again.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. We want you to truly comprehend this so that you'll better understand us," Martouf assures her.

"Okay, well, I am curious. What..what was Jolinar's host like?"

"Jolinar's host, Rosha, was very beautiful. She had eyes like the oceans of Marloon, hair was the colour of the sand on Abydos, and her smile was, was as infectious as laughter. In fact, Rosha looked very much like you Captain Carter. You are very beautiful. You'd make a lovely new host for Selmak."

*Careful!* I warn Martouf. Yes, I agree. She is beautiful, and it would be wonderful if she would stay here in the tunnels. I would love to get to know her better, but I fear suggesting she become a host - so soon after her experience with Jolinar - may scare her.

Captain Carter turns away from us, looking distressed.

"I'm sorry, I…I've said something to offend you," Martouf says, ashamed.

"No. Yes! It's difficult enough with just the remnants of Jolinar in here. The last thing I need is another person…symbiote…whatever."

She sits down on the edge of the ridge we have been walking along, and we remain standing some distance away. We feel dejected. I urge Martouf to try and apologize to her.

"I didn't mean to upset you so," He tells her, walking over to her and crouching down next to her.

"It's just the thought of going through that again."

"Don't give it another moment's thought. It was an inappropriate suggestion. Please understand that it came from an honest, deep desire to have Jolinar back in my life in some form," Martouf assures her.

That is true, and I feel the same, but I very much fear that is not going to make her happy.

"This must be what it feels like to be schizophrenic."

"What is schizophrenic?" Martouf asks, echoing my thoughts.

"It's a mental illness humans have. It's like a split personality. Two people in one brain. I mean, there's me, Samantha Carter, and then there's this leftover part of Jolinar that feels things like…"

"Like…?"

"Like some pretty deep feelings for you."

She feels what Jolinar felt for us?

"Jolinar's left this imprint on your mind?"

"Yes."

"I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, but…"

"No! It's just…what you had, you and Jolinar, you were in love longer than I've been alive! Hell, longer than I will be alive!"

She feels what Jolinar felt for us? But they were together so short? Jolinar would not have blended with her, if she considered leaving her. How, then, does this beautiful young woman feel what Jolinar felt for us?

"She left this feeling with you? You can feel how she felt for me?" Martouf asks, no more hearing what she just said, than I did. I hope it was not important that we heard it.

"Yes. And it's confusing the hell outta me."

"Why?"

"Because it's not just in my mind like a memory, I feel it. Like I've had this relationship with you for 100 years. I don't know if I can describe it with words. What Jolinar felt for you, I don't even think I'm capable of comprehending."

Jolinar's feelings for us still exists! Martouf and I cannot think of anything else. We both smile, feelings a sudden happiness.

"Maybe there's another way you can communicate it. Perhaps in a way other than words." Martouf implores her, holding a hand out to her. She takes his hand, and we interlock our hands. Slowly, she looks up, and we gaze into one another's eyes.

For a moment, it feels almost as if Jolinar is here, telling us a last goodbye. It is as if we can feel her - actually, we can sense a remnant in Captain Carter, but that is not what I mean - we can feel her emotions. Captain Carter is very beautiful, and very kind. She seems...compassionate. Intelligent, I think. If Jolinar had lived, and Captain Carter had remained her host, I think we would have been very happy with her as our mate. For a little while, it is as if time stands still.

Then, suddenly, I realize someone is talking to us. How did we not notice them arriving? How long have they been here? Why did we not even sense the energy signatures from the Tok'ra? Were we really that deeply enchanted?

I look towards Captain Carter again, and I realize that yes, we were. I think we really want to get to know her better. Her - and not just because she was host to Jolinar and carries a part of her still. Yes, also because of that, but not just because of that.

"Sam!" Daniel repeats.

Captain Carter looks at us again. She appears to still be caught in her memories, and the emotions of the moment. Slowly, she pulls herself out of it.

"Daniel," she finally says, and lets go of our hand.

Immediately, I feel a loss when she lets go.

Daniel looks wary. "Learning a lot about Jolinar?"

"Yeah, you'd be surprised how much."

"Um, the Tok'ra Council's agreed to meet with us. Jack thought you might want to be there."

"Yeah." Captain Carter actually seems as if she would rather stay here with us, and I cannot agree more. Why do they come here and bother us? Though, I suppose the Council meeting is very important.

Martouf helps Captain Carter to her feet and we all start back towards the tunnels. Daniel looks strangely at us as we pass him.

-----
Back in the tunnel, we go to our quarters, in order to spend a short time alone, collecting ourselves, while Captain Carter and her team are taken to the Council. Passing Aldwin, he tells us that we have been reassigned to Council runners and attendants for the Tau'ri for the rest of the day. He agrees that we should take a short break and get our emotions under control first, though. He will cover for us, if we are needed before we return. We promise to be back in a little while, and thank him.

We hurry back to our quarters. Martouf opens the bottom drawer and takes out a holocube, then sits down on the bed. He flips through some images of Rosha and Jolinar. Some of the pictures are of them here, and in various daily situations. Some show us together with them, usually smiling and happy. He stops the flow of images on a picture of Rosha and Jolinar smiling sweetly at us, and puts the still active cube down on the table beside the bed.

We look at the image of our beloveds, and think back to some of the wonderful times we have had with them. Soon the tears come, and we lie on the bed, clutching Jolinar's pillow, imagining we can still smell her.

-----
Maybe half an hour later, we pull ourselves together and get up from the bed, then walks to the wash basin to freshen up a little, then goes to use the facilities. We straighten our clothing, then leaves to return to our duties, as runner for the Council, and to accompany the Tau'ri, and see to their needs.

Garshaw and the rest of the Council members that are currently on base, are meeting with the Tau'ri. We are approaching the newly grown Council chamber, when a guard runs up to inform me that more Tau'ri have arrived through the chaapa'ai.

I hurry to the Council chamber and give Garshaw the information, then return to my position outside the room, as the guards lead the Tau'ri inside. I wonder why they have come?

I hear loud voices and angry words from in there, and not long after I learn that the Council has turned down the offer of an alliance! I disagree, but there is not really anything I can do. Martouf and I would still very much like to talk more with Captain Carter, but perhaps we will get that chance. The Council has decided the Tau'ri will not be allowed to leave until this base moves to another planet, so that they will not know how to find us.

I hope Captain Carter will talk to me, despite the fact that she and her people cannot feel too friendly towards us right now. I do see the Council's point of view as well - it is dangerous for us every time someone learns anything about us, and for someone to know the address to our largest base could mean disaster.

Yes, I trust Captain Carter and her team when they say they will not allow our enemies to learn of us, but they may not have a choice if the Goa'uld capture them. Especially since she carries some memories of Jolinar's. I wonder how many of her memories...a few...many...all? Even if she cannot currently access more than a few of them, there could very well be a lot of them in her mind.

The other Tau'ri team came to inform Captain Carter she must return to see her father before he dies. The Council will not let her, and I feel very sorry for her. I very much wish I could help her.

Suddenly, a guard enters and tells us the Tau'ri wishes to talk to Garshaw, and I accompany her there, as both her guard, and as a runner, should she need anything.

"What is it?" Garshaw asks.

"You said that the symbiote can cure most problems in a human." Captain Carter begins.

"Yes," Garshaw confirms.

Of course we can, easily.

"Does that include cancer?"

"What is cancer?" Martouf asks. We are both confused, wondering what it is.

"It's a disease in humans where the cells grow out of control, you get tumours…" Daniel explains.

"Oh yes, it's a common ailment amongst your species. We cure it all the time, it's no problem," Garshaw assures him.

"Colonel, I think we should at least try to offer it to my Dad?"

Captain Carter's father is sick? She would consider letting him become a host? For Selmak? I am pleased - not only is there now a chance Selmak will survive, but this also means Captain Carter is not so adverse to us as I feared. The experience with Jolinar is no longer scaring her as much.

I am relieved. I do not want fear and revulsion to be Jolinar's last host's memory of my beloved. Also, this means Captain Carter may one day reconsider, and become a host - if our people should become friends, which I very much hope. In any case, it is likely I will see her again, if her father becomes a host.

Her team mates look at her, not as convinced this is a good idea as she seems. Eventually, the alien leader, O'Neill, looks towards Garshaw.

"We might have a host for you."

"You have a host for Selmak?" Garshaw sounds happy, of course.

"Yes. My father. He's got cancer and if Selmak can save his life, I think he'd be willing to try it."

"But you have to let us go back," O'Neill argues.

Garshaw seems to think it over for a while, of perhaps she is discussing it with Yosuuf. "I will let two of you go. But the rest will remain to ensure that you will return."

I feel relief. Captain Carter will be allowed to go see her father, and she will return with him, hopefully. I do believe she will return. I will see her again. That pleases me very much.

-----
We have just passed the transportation rings in the tunnel, when they activate. I stop and wait. Perhaps Captain Carter and O'Neill are returning already?

Moments later, Ronnak appears. He looks agitated.

"Martouf. The scout in the Shoran'ka quadrant has just reported in. The Goa'uld System Lords have learned of the location of our base. They are sending two motherships. They will be here in less than a day, perhaps as soon as in a few hours."

"That is bad news for sure. I shall inform Master Garshaw immediately."

Martouf turns and runs to the room where we expect we will find Garshaw. This is urgent, and we must push our own problems aside completely.

Running into the room where the Tau'ri are waiting, we spot Garshaw.

"Master Garshaw, we just received word from our scout in the Shoran'ka quadrant. The Goa'uld System Lords have been told where we are. They have dispatched two motherships."

"When will they arrive?"

"Within the day, perhaps hours.

"Start the evacuation!" Garshaw orders.

We leave the room quickly, to spread the word of evacuation among the Tok'ra. After doing so, we run to our own quarters and pack our belongings - and those of Rosha and Jolinar's. It is for later to decide what to do with those, and we are fortunately in too much of a hurry to think long about the things as we pack them - something which we otherwise would.

-----
We close the chest after putting the last piece of Jolinar and Rosha's clothing in it. Everything we own - and everything our loved ones had - is now packed. I have just put a mark on it to show who it belongs to, when Silla, Korra, Khonak and Thova come to check if we have something that is ready to be moved.

"Yes, you can take the chests and the box. All is packed."

They nod and take the things, then leave quickly with our stuff. We stay for a moment, looking at the room.

For once, we have stayed on this planet for several years, and we have many happy memories from here. We both smile as we look at now bare bed, and think of our wonderful mates, and all the pleasure we have had together. We look at the divan. Without the blankets and pillows, it is just crystal, of course, like all of our other furniture. Still, we have fond memories of sitting in it with our mates, laughing and talking - or making out.

So many fond memories, most of things we have done with Rosha and Jolinar, even when we have sat here with other friends, talking, drinking tea or wine, playing various games. Almost always with our beloveds at our side.

I have been together with them for almost 100 years. Martouf has been with them since he became my host, 25 years ago. Neither of us can imagine our lives without them. What are we to do? Everything feels empty, and both Martouf and I just want to sit down in a corner and cry. I cannot allow myself to give into my sorrow again, one of us must be able to function. The evacuation must be completed before we can take time to ourselves, and grieve fully.

I offer to keep control and allow Martouf time to mourn, but he does not want me to have to handle everything alone. He is a wonderful, dear friend, the best I have ever had, and I 'hug' him warmly. We will get through this together. For now, we will push our grief aside and focus on what must be done.

Taking a deep breath, we take a last look at the small pool in our bathroom, and I allow myself a moment to think of the last time we bathed with Rosha and Jolinar. We sat in the water, drinking sparkling wine, the room lit by many candles Jolinar had brought from Illunis V. We talked and kissed, and made love in the water. It was...perfect. I close my eyes, and when I open them, I turn my back on it all and go to help with the rest of the evacuation.

-----
People are rushing around, moving equipment, everywhere we go. We start helping those that carry things to the ring transporter, for moving to the surface and then through the chaapa'ai. They have already gotten much moved out, and both Martouf and I feel a light stab of guilt, for having spent personal time, standing around in our quarters and doing nothing, in the middle of an evacuation.

We grab one end of a crate, and Aldwin takes the other, and we start carrying it towards the ring transporter.

I notice that the Tau'ri are helping to move equipment and belongings. It is a good sign for the future. Perhaps, an alliance is still a possibility? Now we just have to hope Captain Carter and O'Neill return with her father in time for Selmak to blend with him before the Goa'uld arrive. I doubt very much that Selmak and Saroosh will survive being moved.

We place the crate on top of another, then decide to go and see if those caring for Selmak are in need of assistance. I wonder if they have had time to pack their belongings? Martouf agrees that we should hurry to see if they need us to take over for them, and we run along.

I step into the room Selmak is lying in. Joinna/Sivesh and Noh'ak/Tawoosh are there, fanning Selmak and seeing to her needs. She does not look well, and when I see she is asleep, we decide we should probably let her do so for now.

I nod at the attendants, and ask in a low voice. "How is she faring?"

"Not well," Sivesh answers.

"Will they survive being evacuated?"

Sivesh and Noh'ak look at each other, then at me. They both shake their heads slowly.

I sit down on the sleeping platform and wait for Selmak to awake. Only a short time passes before Captain Carter enters the room with an older man who looks sick. Her father, presumably?

"You have returned."

"Yes. This is my father, Jacob Carter," she tells me.

"Honoured." I bow my head, giving Martouf control, so he can greet them as well.

"I am Martouf. You have a very special daughter."

"Why does he talk like that?" Jacob Carter asks.

I suppose there has not been time to explain much to him about the Tok'ra. It is a credit to him that he is willing to meet us and consider this anyway.

"He's a Tok'ra, Dad. I told you about them."

"Oh, so these are the aliens you were telling me about?"

"Well, I don't know if I'd call them aliens, sort of half alien I guess. I mean, the outside is human, and the inside is shared between a human and a symbiote. Martouf is actually two different…souls, I guess, sharing the same body," Captain Carter explains to him.

It is not completely correct, but not completely wrong either. I guess it will work as a short explanation. If he becomes Selmak's host, he will understand everything immediately, anyway.

"And that's what you want me to become." He looks towards Selmak and raises his eyebrows. "You got to be kidding me."

I quietly observe them. Captain Carter's father, Jacob, is uncertain - if her world truly does not know about the Goa'uld and other worlds, then this is a lot to suddenly have to understand and accept.

-----
"I'm not sure I can do this, Sam," Jacob Carter says.

"No one wishes to pressure you in any way, sir. The decision is yours, but before deciding, might I suggest that you— you take a moment to get to know the symbiote that wishes to blend with you," I suggest, reassuring him.

"This is her?" He indicates Saroosh.

"Actually, you can only see the host. The symbiote's inside her," Captain Carter clarifies.

He must know that already, though? He cannot think the symbiote is as large as a human, if it can blend with a human? Of course, he has no idea what it means to blend, so perhaps he thinks the two beings...merge physically to one? It is an interesting, if strange, thought. I decide to not attempt to guess at what he might be thinking of all of this. Perhaps I get the chance to ask him, later, if all goes well.

"Inside her," he repeats.

This proves to me that he has probably not really given any of this much thought. There is a lot to take in, of course.

"Talk to her, Dad. Get to know her," Captain Carter urges.

Suddenly, Selmak opens her eyes and looks at Jacob. She is awake again, and I feel relieved.

"If you agree to the blending, we could be together for a very long time," Selmak says, clearly having been listening for a while. She coughs.

"You don't look so good," Jacob Carter observes.

"You are no vision of beauty yourself, sir!"

Jacob Carter laughs at Selmak's comment. I hope that means they will get along well? His laugh deteriorates into a cough, and Selmak starts coughing as well. It is worrying. We Tok'ra are not used to people being weakened or sick. It is very rare for us, and somewhat unsettling.

I feel sorry for them, sorry for Selmak who will soon lose Saroosh, but there is nothing I can do. I 'hug' Martouf, relieved and pleased he is young and will be able to remain my host for many centuries to come. I assure him I will continue to take good care of him, and he 'hugs' me back.

"It's all right, sorry," Jacob Carter says when he gets the coughing under control. I think he is mostly trying to reassure Captain Carter.

"I'm the one to whom you should be talking." Saroosh has clearly taken over.

"You are the one I'm talking to. Why, why did your voice change like that?" Jacob Carter looks confused.

"That's the host talking now," Captain Carter reminds him.

"I am Saroosh. I am in the position to help you most."

"How's that?"

"I will die, Selmak will live on, you will take my place as host."

"Um, I don't understand."

They continue to talk for some time, and I stay back as much as possible. Waiting to help, when and if I am needed. They seems to be getting along well, so that is a relief, at least.

-----
"Okay…what do I have to do?" Jacob Carter asks, sitting down. He looks exhausted, having just been throwing up.

I am worried that he is so sick. Selmak has been keeping Saroosh alive for quite some time, and she is probably very weakened. I suddenly get worried the blending may fail. Martouf tells me not to worry, and that neither Captain Carter's father, not Selmak have anything to lose anyway. I suppose that is correct, but I still dearly hope everything goes well. Both because I want them to live, of course, but also because I do not wish Captain Carter to have to grieve her father so soon. I do not wish her to suffer more due to the Tok'ra, than she already has.

I release control and Martouf takes over. "First, Selmak would like to interview you."

"Huh?" Jacob Carter looks uncomprehending.

"If I am to spend the next hundred or more years with you as my host, do you not think I have the right to decide if I even like you?" Selmak points out.

Jacob Carter laughs. "What's not to like? Just ask my daughter, I'm a teddy bear."

"Oh yeah, real…teddy bear."

Somehow, it is as if she does not agree. I wonder what kind of bear a 'teddy' bear is? Why would Jacob Carter use that to prove his worth? Does he mean he is normally as strong and steadfast as a bear, perhaps? The Tau'ri speak many strange words!

"How do you feel about the Goa'uld?" Selmak asks.

"Well, you're the first one I've met."

Martouf frowns, and I smile a little to myself. Selmak is not going to like this little misunderstanding!

"I am not a Goa'uld." She looks like she considers rolling her eyes at him.

"Ah, trick question?"

"Remember, Dad, I tried to explain the difference," Captain Carter says.

"Right, right, I-I apologise. I guess I've never met a Goa'uld before. Although from what Sam and her people tell me, I don't think I like them much."

Poor Jacob Carter! Selmak decides to let it slide, and she nods at us, telling us she would like to talk to him in private. I think she likes him.

We lead Captain Carter away, so Selmak can talk to her father somewhat more undisturbed. We watch from the doorway, and Martouf and I, at least, can easily hear them talk.

Martouf gives me control again, as we stand here and wait. I listen to them discuss the Tok'ra for a short time, and then Selmak asks a few questions, trying to determine her potential host's personality. She warns him, as well, that she is weak, and that the blending may fail, if he is too sick for her to cure. I wonder if Captain Carter is listening? She looks worried. Suddenly, I feel an urge to embrace her, to hold her close and comfort her, but I am afraid she will misunderstand the gesture, since we do not know each other well.

Selmak and Jacob Carter seems to have come to an understanding, and he walks over to us. He turns to talk to his daughter.

"You must hurry, we don't have a lot of time," I warn him, before returning to Selmak's side. I am very concerned the Goa'uld will arrive before the blending can be completed. They cannot be moved without grave risk of killing them, not when the symbiote has to heal the host and blend at the same time.

I try not to listen in on Captain Carter's talk with her father. It is private.

After a few minutes, they turn to us.

"Okay, what do I do?" He asks.

-----
Jacob Carter and Saroosh/Selmak lie facing each other on the bed, and they are ready to complete the transference and the blending. Captain Carter takes her father's hand to reassure him - and herself.

"We do not enter our hosts through the back of the neck. This just leaves a scar that many of us find unsettling," Martouf explains.

"So why don't the Goa'uld do it this way too?" Captain Carter wonders.

"They don't wish to remember the horror of their host's face whenever they see their own reflection in the mirror. You must step away, Captain Carter," Martouf tell her, both wanting to give Selmak and Jacob Carter some privacy, and worried at her reaction at the sight of a symbiote jumping into her father.

"Goodbye, kid," Jacob Carter says.

She strokes his head. "See you soon, Dad." She walks away.

Selmak looks at Jacob, and he turns his attention back to her.

He clears his throat. "Now what?"

"Kiss me."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, I'm not."

Jacob Carter leans towards Saroosh with his mouth open. After a few moments, Selmak jumps from Saroosh's mouth and then enters Jacob Carter's. A short while later, Selmak looks over at Saroosh. I think she is already dead, and I feel a sadness. Saroosh was a good friend.

"Goodbye, dear friend," Selmak says.

A few seconds later, Jacob Carter loses consciousness, as Selmak begins her healing and blending. I go to their side, as does Captain Carter. She takes his pulse, I think, while I pull the covers over Saroosh's face.

I give Martouf control. He has spent a moment mourning Saroosh, and thinking about some of the happy times with her and Selmak. We - Rosha/Jolinar and Martouf and I - have often played games with Selmak and Saroosh, and talked until late in the night.

Now I withdraw to take a few moments to grieve. There is much to mourn, but our grief for Rosha and Jolinar is so great that it almost supersedes all else.

"He's alive." Captain Carter states, relieved.

Martouf uses two finger to open one of Jacob's eyes, checking.

"Is he okay?" Captain Carter asks, worried.

"He's very sick. And Selmak is weak. She may not have the strength to heal him," Martouf admits, concerned.

"Well, is there anything we can do to help?"

"Nothing. Only time will tell."

We look up as a Tok'ra guard dashes into the room. It is Tohnal.

"Our scouts have spotted the Goa'uld ships dropping from hyperspace," he tells us. Captain Carter walks towards him, perhaps recognizing him from Jolinar's memories? I have noticed she sometimes looks at a Tok'ra, as if trying to remember their names. "They will start attacking from the air and through the Gate within hours. Garshaw orders that we must destroy the complex," Tohnal continues.

"We need time!" Captain Carter exclaims, then turns to us. "Can we move him?"

"If we do so, it will kill them," Martouf tells her. Unfortunately, that is absolutely the most likely outcome. We must wait.

She hurries back to her father's side and strokes his head, then sits down on the edge of the bed.

We consider what to do. Should we step aside and leave her alone? It is her father, and maybe she would prefer to sit by him alone? However, both Martouf and I feel a strong desire to comfort her. She looks so sad and alone as she sit there, and we feel sorry for her.

I urge Martouf to go to her, and perhaps take her hand. He feels she will not welcome this, but I think she will. Hesitantly, he sits down at the very edge of the bed also, and take her hand. She looks up, and he give her his shy, charming smile.

"Captain Carter?" He looks at her, questioningly.

She takes a deep breath, and gives him a weak smile, clearly grateful for the support. "Samantha."

Martouf frowns. "I do not understand."

"My name is Samantha Carter. My rank is Captain. I...I think I would like it if you use my given name, which is Samantha."

Martouf smiles. "Samantha. It is a beautiful name. Thank you." He runs his thumb gently over her hand, and she relaxes. It feels nice to touch her like this again. I am a little confused, and get a light feeling of guilt, for being interested in another woman, when I have just learned my mates of a hundred years are dead. But she is not just anyone, I tell myself. She carries the memories and feelings from our beloved. She feels her love for Martouf and me.

We sit like this for some time, not saying anything, just holding hands. It seems to comfort her, and us as well.

She is letting us call her 'Samantha'! It pleases me greatly.

-----
"Martouf!" Yosuuf calls, entering the room.

Neither Samantha, nor Martouf and I had noticed anyone approaching, but we let go of each other's hands and look up.

"All tunnels but this one and the escape tunnel have vanished. All the other Tok'ra have gone to the new homeworld. We must go now!" Yosuuf urges.

"But what about my father?" Samantha asks, worriedly.

"When and if he awakens, Selmak knows where we'll be. He can follow."

"But the Goa'uld are coming, they'll capture him," Daniel says.

"If he's captured, he will die before he will reveal our whereabouts," Yosuuf assures him - and the other Tau'ri.

Something tells me they do not like to hear this, and it is hardly surprising, even if it may be necessary.

"Well, then take him with you!" Samantha exclaims.

"Or we'll take him with us," O'Neill suggests.

"I'm afraid that to transport him now, he will die. He needs to remain stationary until Selmak has completed her repairs," Martouf explains, apologetically.

"We can't just leave him here!" Samantha implores.

*We can stay and guard him?* Martouf suggests.

*Yes,* I agree. *I believe that is the best option.*

"I will remain with him. If I can get him out, I will. If not, I will allow the vanishing tunnels to consume us before the Goa'uld get here," Martouf tells them.

"I cannot allow you to die in this way. We must leave now!" Garshaw says.

Well, that was to be expected! However, she also knows that we will do so regardless.

"I'll stay," Samantha states.

"You are even more vulnerable since you contain the memories of Jolinar. I cannot allow you to stay. We must go now," Garshaw argues.

Martouf and I will not let her stay alone, of course. Garshaw should know that! We will guard her, though I must admit I would prefer she - and the last remnant of Jolinar - would agree to go to somewhere safer.

"She's right, Captain. We have to go," O'Neill says, agreeing with Garshaw.

"With respect, no, sir. I am not leaving him here," Samantha repeats, clearly not ready to give up.

I am struck by how similar to Jolinar she is in her dedication. Jolinar would not allow anyone else to argue her out of what she believed was the right thing to do.

"Captain Carter and I will both remain. I will assure that we will not be taken by the Goa'uld," Martouf assures them, hoping this compromise will work. We both agree that he should probably not call her 'Samantha' in front of the others, in an official situation such as this. It seems too...intimate, somehow, since the Tau'ri does not appear to use such familiarity in their military. Besides, the others may find it strange, that we use such familiarity, when we do not yet know each other well.

"Please, Colonel. I need to be here," Samantha implores him.

He looks at her for a moment, then clearly realizes she will not be persuaded. "Right. Daniel? Teal'c? Let's go."

Daniel, Teal'c, and O'Neill exit the room with Garshaw, leaving Samantha and us alone - with Selmak and her new host, Jacob Carter.

Martouf goes to check on Jacob and Selmak, holding a hand over his head. We sense that Selmak is still working to heal him, but that they are growing stronger. I believe they will make it, but will it happen quickly enough, or will the Goa'uld arrive before she can finish healing him?

Martouf walks over to the wall and sits down in a chair, giving Samantha some privacy as she goes to her father, putting her hand over his.

"Oh God, I hope I've done the right thing bringing him here."

"From what I understand, the alternative was no better," Martouf observes, matter of factually.

"True."

We sit in silence for a little while, each worrying about our own problems, and concerned that the Goa'uld will arrive before Selmak manages to heal Jacob Carter. Now and then we hear explosions, as the death gliders bombard the surface.

We look at her from time to time, studying her as she sits by her father. She is worried, and we feel sorry for her, again wishing we could comfort her.

*She is very beautiful,* Martouf observes.

*Yes, she is.* I look at her again. *I very much hope we will meet her again, under better circumstances.*

*I agree, that would be very nice. For some reason the thought that I should never see her again, is not a pleasant one. Probably, because she carries the last remnants of our Jolinar,* Martouf decides.

*That is some of it, yes.* I agree. Though I suspect I would want to see her again regardless. I again feel guilty, and do not mention these thoughts to Martouf.

Suddenly, Selmak awakens, and Samantha looks to him. She still looks drawn, worried.

"Ah," Selmak says, looking up at the roof, no doubt hearing the bombardment.

"Dad?" Samantha asks, uncertain.

"Martouf?" Selmak queries.

"I am here."

There are more explosions to be heard from above, and she sits up quickly.

"Should we not make our escape?" Selmak asks.

Martouf smiles, echoing the relief we are both feeling. "Yes, we should."

"Uh, is my Dad in there somewhere?" Samantha sounds worried, uncertain.

Is she suddenly worrying she has not done the right thing, and that Selmak is really a Goa'uld, and that we have all tricked her? Or that Selmak could not save her father, and that she - somehow - is now the only one in there? Or does Samantha suspect the host is no longer there after a blending? No, that she cannot, because she, herself, has been a host, and she still remains, even if she has some extra memories and feelings. Probably, it is just a sudden worry, and not her suspecting we are not who we say we are. I calm myself. It is understandable - she still knows so little about our kind, and thus quickly reverts to fear.

Selmak bows her head, giving Jacob Carter control.

"I'm here, Sammy. Oh man, talk about your hangover." He shakes his head a little.

"How are you Dad?"

"I'm awful. Headache the size of Kuwait. There's too much stuff in here," He complains, as he gets off the bed. "Whoa!"

Samantha looks alarmed, and I am a little worried too. Has something gone wrong?

"What?" She asks.

Her father laughs. "No more arthritis!" He excitedly shakes his hands and jumps a little. "Holy Hannah! No more arthritis!"

Martouf smiles, happy and relieved all is well, and Jacob Carter is just happy he is feeling better.

There are more explosions above us, and we all look up, concerned.

"We should make our leave as soon as possible. This way," Martouf observes.

-----
We hurry down the corridor, after Martouf has activated the self-destruct for the rest of the tunnels. We reach the ring transporter and activate it, just in time. I wonder what awaits us on the surface.

We materialize on the surface. Fortunately, there are no Jaffa to be seen, but I can hear explosions in the distance, and there are also the sound of death gliders flying nearby. We run as fast as possible to the chaapa'ai. A few chevrons light up just as we arrive.

"The Goa'uld are attempting to come through the Gate," Martouf observes.

"Not if I dial out first!" Samantha exclaims, and begins dialing very quickly. "We'll go to Earth. You two can go wherever you need to from there." The chaapa'ai activates. "Did we open the Gate or did they?"

"We have no choice!" Selmak says, stating the obvious. We have to try if we can get through, before we are killed by the rapidly approaching deathgliders.

"Wait!" Samantha orders, and she starts punching numbers into a device.

Moments later, she gives a signal that all is clear, and we all rush for the wormhole, as deathgliders fire in our direction, but thankfully misses. We jump into the event horizon.

-----
We exit and land hard on some sort of ramp. When Martouf looks up, we notice we are inside a room. There are a lot of soldiers, dressed much like Samantha and her team. They are waiting, pointing their weapons at us. Sensible, as they could not know if others followed.

The wormhole closes behind us, and we all get up, then walk down the ramp. We look around at the new place. There is a large door at the side, and above on the wall we are walking towards, there is a window into another room.

Before us we recognize O'Neill and Garshaw, standing with an older man with a bald head. Selmak walks towards him, probably prompted by Jacob Carter.

"I must give you thanks. You have saved my life and that of my new host. We thank you," she says.

"This is wonderful news." Garshaw looks relieved.

"Yes. Can we talk to your host?" The bald man says, not very politely.

I suppose he is still concerned that we are Goa'uld? Instead of getting angry, which is my first reaction, I try to tell myself that he knows even less about us than Samantha and her team, and that Jacob Carter may be someone he knows well. It is understandable he is concerned.

Selmak dips her head, giving Jacob Carter control.

He clears his throat, then looks around sheepishly.

"So when the little fella inside me is talking, do I sound like she does?" He asks.

Martouf and I almost laugh out loud. I wonder what Selmak says to being talked about like that? She is somewhat sensitive about her size, being the shortest of the Tok'ra symbiotes.

"That is correct," Teal'c observes, almost smiling.

"It's strange. I can feel myself talking, but it's not me saying the words. You know?" Jacob Carter says.

True, it is a strange feeling at first, though it was a long time since I thought of it. Martouf agrees, thinking back to when he became a host.

"Don't know. Take your word for it," O'Neill says, smiling a little.

"How do you feel?" Daniel asks.

"Well, considering I got one of those things inside me, pretty damn good!" Jacob Carter grins.

I am sure Selmak does not approve of being called 'one of those things' either! I grin a little to myself, imagining her comments.

Teal'c looks on approvingly, and the others seem quite pleased as well. This is looking good, and we may actually become friends with this people?

"Listen, George. Because of this blending thing, I already knows everything there is to know about the Tok'ra. You made the right call," Jacob Carter says with decisiveness.

O'Neill smiles, and so does Samantha. Martouf smiles as well, relieved all is going well.

The bald man, who seems to be in command, smiles. "I hope so."

"I would be proud to serve as liaison between Earth and these people," Selmak's host offers.

"Good. Well, on that note, perhaps you can ask them to come with me to do a little debriefing," the bald man says, making it clear he is in command here.

"I am afraid we cannot. We must go," Garshaw says immediately.

The commander of this base looks somewhat taken aback, clearly not used to anyone speaking against him.

"You are safe here," Teal'c tells Garshaw.

"Because of the spy, the Goa'uld may already be at the site the Tok'ra have moved to," Garshaw explains.

"You can't stay a little longer?" Samantha asks, clearly hoping for it.

I wonder if she just wants to talk more to her father, or if she would like to spend more time with me and Martouf as well?

"No, we must go quickly and stop the tunnels there before they are grown," Martouf tells them, regretfully. We would both wish we could stay longer.

"We must move the Tok'ra to yet another new home. Do you not have a dialing device here?" Garshaw asks.

"Yeah, we slapped a little one together." O'Neill looks smug.

"Hmm, you made it yourself, impressive. Will you show it to me? I would like to put in the coordinates myself." Garshaw really does look impressed - not something that happens often.

"This way," the bald man says, then leads Garshaw out of the room.

We walk with Samantha to stand a little to the side.

"I give you my word, I will watch over you father, as if he were my own," Martouf assures her.

We hear the chaapa'ai start dialing. It sounds a little differently, as if it is actually turning. I wonder if they had to make changes since they do not have a dialing device?

"Thank you," Samantha says.

"I look forward to seeing you again," Martouf tells her, for both of us.

"So do I," she says, and she looks like she means it. That gives me even more hope.

We walk to stand before the chaapa'ai, at the bottom of the ramp. I see Jacob Carter walk to his daughter. They talk for a little while, and I try not to listen. I hear him mention that Selmak is 'the oldest and wisest', and smile a little.

The chaapa'ai engages, and Garshaw comes into the room again, O'Neill accompanying her. So, it is time to leave. It will be good to get some time to ourselves, some time to grieve Rosha and Jolinar, and come to terms with all that has happened. However, we will also be looking forward to meeting Samantha again, to learn more about her and her people.

"There will come a time when the Tok'ra and the people of the Tau'ri will destroy the Goa'uld System Lords," Garshaw says.

"This'll be a good day." O'Neill looks quite friendly. I think he is starting to warm up to us, and perhaps to Garshaw in particular? He does look like someone she likes...

Daniel now enters the room, and approaches Garshaw with some sort of box. "Um…" He gives her the box. "…this box has a signature in it we can recognize. Just send it through the Gate and we'll know you want to contact us."

"Thank you. Come, Selmak," Garshaw says, accepting the box.

Samantha and her father embrace, and speak a few more words of love to each other, before he turns to O'Neill.

"Selmak says, let me see if I can translate this, don't call us, we'll call you."

O'Neill smiles at him. Jacob Carter then turns and walks together with Garshaw, and Martouf and I, up the ramp and into the wormhole.

There is much more to do before we can relax. We must move to another planet and build the tunnels there, and then move everything into place. We will all be quite tired before we can sleep - but perhaps it will be a blessing. It may help us sleep, and then we will allow ourselves time to think of our beloveds tomorrow.

For now, we are going home.


THE END.


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