DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything
else concerning SG: SG1 belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions
etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and
no copyright infringement is intended.
SEQUEL/SERIES: This story follows A Dream Can Come True, Believe, Wonderful, Like Someone In Love, I Scare Myself, This Girl's in Heaven, In Perfect Dreams, So Happy with You, Always and Forever, An Angle Smile Upon Me , Do What You Have To Do, Stay By Me, I'll Be, Your Guardian Eyes, The Little Things, Some Space, Some Time, One Day, Saying the Words, Proving the Impossible, Nothing is More Beautiful, No Map No Compass, Metamorphosis, Laughter and Forgetting and Something I Should Know.
SOUNDTRACK: Sweetheart Come by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds from the Album `No more shall we part'
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author
The Burdens that You Carry
So now I've met the man of my dreams. I know his name. Both of their names. Martouf. and the symbiote part is Lantash. And apparently they both loved Jolinar and Rosha, her host whilst they were together. But Lantash and Jolinar the symbiotes have been together a long time, through the lifetime of several hosts I think.
Which goes some way to explain some of the dreams I've been having lately.
It took me several hours to convince the Colonel that we should follow up on the Gate address I saw in my dream - even when it proved to be a legitimate address and not just a random string of symbols. All my fears about his lack of trust in me since Jolinar entered my life came back to haunt me during that meeting. Teal'c knew of the Tok'ra and Daniel just wanted to go someplace new. The idea of meeting with anyone who could help us fight against the Goa'uld, anyone who might help him get Sha're and Skaara back was too good to pass up no matter how flaky the intel was.
At least Teal'c did not doubt me. "When a Goa'uld infests its host their minds intermingle, become as one. It is possible that portions of Jolinar of Melkshur remain in Captain Carter's mind."
Okay, nice to be vindicated but at the same time something that I really did not want to dwell on too heavily. I continued to argue for going after the Tok'ra. After all they were on the run. If we could help them in some way. it could be the basis for an alliance. And every bone in my body told me that would be a good thing.
"Now, you said their eyes glowed. are you really sure that these Tok'ra are what Jolinar said they were? I mean, good guys, for lack of a better word." Daniel had more reason than most to disbelieve what I was saying but how many times did I have to tell this story?
"Yes." He gave me one of his uncomprehending stares and asked me to elaborate. And what could I say. "I. I just know." Brilliant, Carter. Just brilliant.
Again Teal'c came to my rescue. "According to Jaffa legend, the Tok'ra are the Goa'uld resistance. Their stated goal is the destruction of the System Lords and a change in the ways of the empire. They are hunted and despised by the Goa'uld."
That did the trick as far as the Colonel was concerned. It was kind of disheartening to have everything I had gone through discounted and even derided. Then Teal'c says the word and suddenly the mission is a go. Not that I have anything against Teal'c. Or the Colonel for that matter. It just. bites sometimes.
I'm only the girl who had the alien die in her brain. What do I know?
Janet had asked me to come down to the infirmary for some follow up tests before she cleared me for Gate travel. She was concerned about the number of headaches I had had recently and the fact that I still was not sleeping two nights out of three.
Never date your doctor. It's very difficult to keep even the most minor of ailments a secret. As it was she knew better than I did how many nightmares I had had in recent weeks. She was the one who either woke me out of them or soothed me back into more restful sleep. Which made me worry in turn about the amount of sleep she was getting. I had even suggested staying on base a few nights to let her get some uninterrupted rest. That got typically short shrift.
One of the things that has always held me back from pursuing any kind of serious relationship in the past is that I hate to be fussed over. I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself. Always have done. But it's different with Janet. I know it's in her nature to care. And if I love her how can I ask her to go against her nature?
"Sam, I know you think that you're essential to this mission. And maybe you are. But do you really think that it's the best thing for you to go. Maybe. pandering to Jolinar's memories is not the healthiest option if you're ever going to get past this."
"I have to, Janet. There's a real chance that these people, these Tok'ra could be the kind of allies we've been looking for. And I have to be the one to go. I'm the only one who can tell them about Jolinar, about what happened to her. There are people there who will be missing her. They deserve closure as well."
Janet nodded. "Well, you're a little anaemic again and you've dropped a little more weight - both of which we will address when you get back - but on physical health grounds anyway there's no reason not to clear you for Gate travel. As for the emotional and mental. I won't pretend, Sam, that I'm not worried about you. We all are. But these people, these Tok'ra aren't the only ones who need closure about Jolinar. You do as well. Just. try not to confuse what you're remembering of the symbiote with your own reaction to things, please. They may call themselves something different but at the basics they are the same species as the Goa'uld. And for all you tell us that they're not the same, what we saw of Jolinar doesn't really plead her case. Just be careful, Sam. Please."
"I'll be careful, I promise," I said, reaching up to brush a lock of hair back from her cheek. She leant into my touch for a moment, her eyes closed, a smile gracing her face. Whatever siren song Jolinar's memories have for me, they can't compete with this, I tell myself. This is where I'm supposed to be.
Before I left, I did something I had taken to doing before going on missions I thought might be tougher than the norm. I found a song that `spoke' to me at that moment and made an mp3 file of it, sending it to her private email with well, for want of a better description, was a love letter. The way I was feeling at the moment only Nick Cave would do. The bittersweet notes of "Sweetheart Come"
"Walk with me now under the stars
For it's a clear and easy pleasure
And be happy in my company
For I love you without measure"
Another bad thing about going out with a doctor is the easy access to medical information. I probably knew more about Dad's cancer, about his prognosis than he does. He was rapidly approaching end- stage. He had months, probably only weeks left.
He did not want me there with him. And truth be told I did not want to be there with him. Sick bed scenes - death bed scenes - something I knew I would not be good at. Mark would not be there either. He had taken the news of dad's illness in silence and then had changed the topic to something else. When I persisted he cut me off. Mark is more like Dad than he would ever admit.
Whatever I've done these last few months Dad has been at the back of my mind. I've read through mission reports looking for hints, clues. Some alien technology that might just do it. I've spent my free time with medical journals reading up looking for some sign that someone out there has the answer so that my father can live.
I phoned him just before we jumped. He said he was fine. He was lying. The General knows about Dad's condition. He promised to look out for him.
Ironic. The one mission I really have to go on and I really don't want to go on it. As I said to the General: `This is the first time I've left on a mission where I've felt like I might be leaving something behind. Like I might miss something important.' There has to be something out there, out through the Stargate that can save him. And I'll find it. I have to keep looking. I won't give up. Not whilst there's still hope.
What else can I do?
And you were there, and you, and you.
The Tok'ra planet was sandy. No trees. We started walking. One moment there was no sign that anyone had been there for a couple of centuries and the next moment there are men all around us. Correction: Goa'uld. And one of them is wearing the face of the man in my dreams. And suddenly I have a name to go with that face. It suddenly blossoms in my mind along with a whole reef of memories.
"I do not know this woman," he reassures his colleagues. The standoff continues.
"But I'm right, aren't I. That's your name, Martouf."
"It is," he admits warily. "How do you know me?"
"I don't. But I knew someone who did. His name was Jolinar of Melkshur."
He just stared at me in silence and in those blue blue eyes I saw such a profound look of loss. And all the emotions I had felt in my dreams welled up inside me. I just wanted to hold him tightly and never let him go. And that scared me almost more than anything else.
One of the other Tok'ra broke the silence whilst Martouf and I continued to stare at each other. His name was Cordesh, I remembered. Jolinar did not think much of him. He was more of a politician than an activist. Lurking on the edges, watching, assessing, knowing everything contributing little. One for whom the pejorative `snake' was very apt. "Where is Jolinar?"
"He died saving my life," I said softly.
"We're here to seek out the Tok'ra," Daniel tried to move things forward.
"Assuming of course you are the Tok'ra," the Colonel drawled. He was still keeping his gun trained on Cordesh and Martouf.
Cordesh smiles. "And if we're not?"
"Well, I guess we all start shooting, there's blood, death, hard feelings.it'd suck."
Martouf had recovered his senses a little. "And if we are this thing you call Tok'ra?"
Teal'c spoke for the first time. "If you are indeed the Tok'ra of Jaffa legend, we should form an alliance."
"I learned a lot from Jolinar," I said. "Enough to know that we could be good friends. And frankly, enough to know that you are the Tok'ra."
To my surprise, Martouf vouched for me. "I believe this one speaks the truth. Perhaps we should. just listen to what they have to say." Cordesh gave the signal and after a moment's hesitation, everyone lowered their weapons.
Cordesh insisted that we left their weapons with them. The Colonel demurred as he had to. I vouched for the Tok'ra. "They won't hurt us Colonel."
"And you, what, feel this?" he shot back. So much for trusting instinct. So much for trusting me.
"No, I can remember," I said quietly. And I did. These were the good guys. Well, most of the time, anyway. But there was no need to cloud the issue.
"O'Neill, if they are the Tok'ra, we are in no danger," Teal'c said.
"If you're asking for opinions, I vote we take the chance," Daniel chimed in.
The Colonel reconsidered our position. "Okay, but I want it understood that we're doing this in the spirit of future relations. I expect us to be treated as such."
A few seconds later we were transported down into the tunnels that led to the Tok'ra base hidden deep below the planet's surface. I looked around me in wonder. It all looked, felt, so familiar yet I had never been there before. "This looks just like the place in my dream. But that was on the planet that we. they." I corrected myself hurriedly, "were fleeing."
It turned out that the Tok'ra had the ability to actually `grow' the tunnels using a crystal technology that was unknown to us. Teal'c confirmed that he had heard of them but had never seen them before. Apparently when the Tok'ra move on they destroy the tunnels.
The Colonel took a moment to ask me some more about Martouf. "I get the feeling that I know almost all of these people," I tried to explain, "but my memories of Martouf are the strongest. It's like I have some weird bond with him."
We were ushered into what looked like a meeting room. Several Tok'ra were waiting for us, amongst them an imposing looking woman who was introduced to us as Garshaw of Belote. Again, it wasn't so much that I remembered her as I remembered feelings I associated with her. admiration, affection, the knowledge that I would follow her into fire if I had to. This woman was important. We had to get this right or it would all be for nothing. And getting out of these tunnels would be a whole lot harder than getting in had been.
She confirmed that they were indeed the Tok'ra. As in a sense were we. Those who stood against Ra.
Then came the really hard part. I had to tell them about Jolinar. They seemed shocked, almost embarrassed that Jolinar had taken me by force, against my will. I got the feeling that this contravened some pretty major ethics in Tok'ra society. I tried to tell them that I understood. "He did it in an emergency situation to escape an assassin."
Then Cordesh accused me of killing Jolinar myself. I had no answer to that one except to ask for their trust that I had not.
"And why should we trust you?" Cordesh asked. And as far as the Colonel was concerned, that was the last straw.
"You know something. I've been asking myself the same damn question. Why should we trust you? You are after all, Goa'ulds"
Everyone in the room bristled at that. They really did not like the `G' word. Daniel, ever the diplomat, tried to smooth things but the Colonel was on a roll, overriding Garshaw's protests and making comments about the `reptilian activity' in their heads. We were not making any friends here.
"You can see how we might think you would be a danger to humans. You take humans as hosts," Daniel pointed out.
We got down to semantics again. Goa'uld take hosts, Tok'ra hosts volunteer so. Except that I didn't. No matter how I try to justify it to myself that Jolinar was in a desperate situation, fighting for her life that can't be ignored. Whatever Martouf has to say about how wonderful this symbiotic relationship can be. She did the right thing eventually but if things had turned out the way she wanted them to I would probably still be her host, running not only from the Ashrak but also from the SGC. They would not have let me go easily.
And then something amazing happened. We got to talk to Yosuf, Garshaw's host. And she explained just how wonderful it could be. "All of us who serve as hosts volunteer to do so freely."
She went on to explain. "With the blending I gain all of Garshaw's knowledge, her wisdom more than any human could ever attain. And my lifespan is twice what it would be without the blending. And for all of this, all I have to do is. share my physical body."
But nothing they could have said would ever have convinced the Colonel. "So you've kind of got a little Faustian deal going here. selling your soul for immortality."
"What you understand as soul remains intact," Yosuf assured us.
And that was the crux of it: what truly set the Tok'ra apart from the Goa'uld. It was a true symbiosis. It also meant that they had zero or even negative population growth.
Then something happened which changed the course of my life - my family's life - forever. Yosuf took us to meet Serouche, host to Selmac. Serouche was dying, and unless another willing host was found, Selmac would die with her. Together they were the oldest and wisest amongst the Tok'ra and their seemingly inevitable death would be a huge loss to them. Serouche was 203 years old, which didn't seem that old from what we knew of the Goa'uld, but then I remembered that the Tok'ra don't use the sarcophagus to extend their lifespan.
As Martouf put it "We believe to do so would drain the good from our hearts."
None of us looked at Daniel. We all knew the truth of that statement. "That's why our numbers don't grow large enough to defeat the massive forces aligned with the System Lords," Martouf continued.
I explained it to the Colonel. "Zero or negative population growth. Since you won't take new hosts by force, most of the time the Goa'uld dies with the host."
"And this is what is about to happen with Selmac," Yosuf said.
And then Martouf said something which brought the whole world screeching to a halt around me.
"Unless one of you wishes to volunteer to serve as a host."
Both the Colonel and Daniel quickly refused that invitation - reasonably politely given the circumstances. I was frozen. I had tried so hard to put the best spin I could on what had happened with Jolinar but when I came face to face with the prospect again, the sense of revulsion I felt was overwhelming. "I'm sorry, I've already been through that," I gasped out. I had to get out of that room, the sense of claustrophobia was overwhelming.
I found myself standing next to a water fountain. I leant over, scooped up a handful of water to cool my face. My mind had gone absolutely blank. Then someone touches me on the shoulder. I turned, just about to strike out when I see it's Martouf.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," he said hurriedly.
"You shouldn't sneak up on a person like that," I said, moving away from him. I still felt uneasy in his presence. I knew nothing and everything about this guy (the texture of his kisses, the flavour of him in my mouth, the sounds he made, the way he liked his morning jaal, hot and bitter, his almost obsessive tidiness that drove me mad sometimes. no not me, never me. Jolinar) and it warred inside of me, wanting to wrap myself around him and at the same time run as far away as I could. All the way back home. All the way back to Janet. To the one I truly loved.
"We didn't mean to upset you with the suggestion of becoming a host," Yosuf said.
"Well, as long as you take no for an answer," O'Neill.
"Be assured that we have never forced a human to become a host. It goes against all that we believe in," Martouf said solemnly. I believed him. That is, I believed that he thought he was telling the truth. The Colonel said it for me.
"Yeah, well, you know Captain Carter didn't exactly invite Jolinar in."
Yet again I felt compared to defend him. "Yes sir, but I believe he was sincere about wanting to leave me as soon as he found another host."
As far as the Tok'ra were concerned we were confusing the issue. "I'm curious," Yosuf said. "If you're not interested in becoming a host, then why did you seek us out?"
"To form an alliance," Daniel said.
It was an object lesson in the importance of choosing your words carefully. "Yes, so you've said," Yosuf frowned. "But it's apparent that the thought of an alliance disgusts you."
"Wait a minute, you think by `form an alliance' we mean we want to be hosts?" Daniel asked, suddenly alarmed by the turn the conversation was taking.
"Well what other sort of an alliance could a non-blended human and a Tok'ra want to have?" Yosuf seemed genuinely confused by our objections.
"Well we do have a common enemy - how about a friendship?" the Colonel asked. We all chipped in our suggestions for ways in which this alliance could work - anything that did not involve one of us taking on a passenger. Yosuf, or rather Garshaw abruptly ended the discussion.
"I do not believe you could be of any service to us. You are neither strong enough nor advanced enough."
Teal'c really thought he was doing us a favour. I don't think I want to know how close he came to getting us all executed on the spot. "You are incorrect. It was these who destroyed two Goa'uld motherships."
Garshaw was furious. "That was you? We had operatives who died on board those vessels!"
"We. we were only defending our planet," I pointed out.
Yosuf reappeared. We had already seen that she was much more of a peacemaker than the regal but volatile Garshaw. "We did not know that they had traveled to the Tau'ri. This information, it explains a lot. At least we know how and why our operatives died and for that we are truly grateful."
Progress of a sort. Yosuf agreed to put our case before the Tok'ra Council - but we were to be their `guests' until they had finished their deliberations.
All except me. Martouf invited me to take a walk with him. Only me. He wanted to talk to me about Jolinar of Melkshur. The Colonel protested - and only partially because he hated splitting up the team. Again, I argued my case. "Colonel, I. I think I should go with him. I think I NEED to go with him. There's a lot of questions he could answer about Jolinar."
The first revelation was that Jolinar was a `she' not a he. I'm still a little hazy about how that works - whether the symbiote has a `gender' of its own or just adopts the gender of the host. But then how do you explain `queen' Goa'uld like Hathor? I wish I had had more time to ask questions. Anyway, it seemed that Jolinar had always had female hosts. I did try to explain to him that the host she had `jumped' from into me had been male.
It obviously made him acutely uncomfortable to discuss how Jolinar had made me a host against my will. She had broken some pretty big taboos doing that. "It's kind of weird, its 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."
Martouf could not cope with hearing how his mate had died. So he retreated and Lantash took control. I confessed to him - them - that I felt a different kind of recognition for them than I did with the other Tok'ra. And then he told me just how long he and Jolinar had been together.
"Jolinar and I were together for nearly 100 of your years. She was my mate. ours is a truly symbiotic relationship," at some point in this conversation, Martouf had regained prominence. "So what I feel, Lantash feels, and what Lantash feels, I feel."
"So when one of you is in love, you both feel it," I said, somewhat overwhelmed by this.
"Yes, we love as one. And, and we mourn as one."
What could I say to that? "I'm sorry."
He smiled. "Don't be sorry. We want you to truly comprehend this so that you'll better understand us." Martouf went on to tell me about his mate, Jolinar's host, Rosha. "She was very beautiful. She had eyes like the oceans of Marloon, her hair was the colour of the sands of 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 Selmac."
There was no way that I could hide my revulsion to that statement. To either statement. I did not appreciate being told I looked like his dead girlfriend. I always though that Jolinar had chosen me because I was the only one available at the moment of his - her, I reminded myself - host's death. But had there been something more? My flesh crawled at the thought. And as for becoming a host to Selmac...
Martouf obviously read my discomfort from my expression, the sudden stiffness of my posture. His smile faded. "I'm sorry, I've said something to offend you."
"No," I said automatically before deciding that I had to be honest about this otherwise he was not going to let this drop. "Yes! It's difficult enough with just the remnants of Jolinar in here. The last thing I need is another person. symbiote. whatever." I moved away from him, sat down on the edge of the ridge.
"I didn't mean to upset you so," he said, crouching down beside me.
There was so much going through my head at that moment, thoughts that were mine and thoughts that were not. "It's just the thought of going through that again."
"Don't give it another moment's thought," he said. "It was an inappropriate suggestion. Please understand that it came from honest, deep desire to have Jolinar back in my life in some form."
I repressed a shudder. So he wanted to get to know me better because I reminded him of his dead girlfriend. Didn't that just make me feel special. "This must be what it feels like to be schizophrenic," I said shakily. Of course, then I had to explain what schizophrenic meant. And that meant I had to explain to him just how strongly I was experiencing some of Jolinar's memories and feelings.
"What you had, you and Jolinar, you were in love longer than I've been alive! Hell, longer than I will be alive!" I could only hope that what I had with Janet would last as long. I had a feeling this relationship was the one, the once in a lifetime if you're lucky deal but neither of us were in a lifestyle or career structure where we could afford to be blasť about it.
He was curious as to why these left-over memories were confusing me so greatly. I told him something I hadn't told anyone, not even Janet. "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." And I hoped that telling him that did not cheapen what I had with Janet. But it was the truth, my relationship with Janet was fledgling compared to what Lantash and Jolinar had experienced. And at best I could hope for another what. forty, fifty years together with her. It wasn't enough.
"Maybe there's another way you can communicate it," Martouf said softly. "Perhaps in a way other than words." He took hold of my hand, interlacing his fingers with mine. I met his gaze and it was as if something rose up inside me and I was not just Samantha Carter I was Jolinar as well and I felt every moment of the time these two had shared. And I felt his emotion as well, the twin threads of Lantash and Martouf, their devotion for Jolinar, for her host Rosha. For the remnant of her that I carried. And by extension, for me.
It felt like hours but it was only a minute or two before Daniel and Cordesh interrupted us with news that the Tokra Council had agreed to meet with us. The Colonel wanted me there.
It took me a minute or two to come back to myself, to process what had just happened to me. In a way it was humbling, to be the object of such devotion. And in a way it was life-affirming. If they had made such an unusual relationship work for as long as they had then there had to be hope for Janet and I. So I believed.
"The ones you fear are wind and air
And I love you without measure
It seems we can be happy now
Be it better late than never"
The news was not good. The Council did not think we were worthy of forming an alliance with them. We had no technology, intelligence or strategic importance to them. There was something else about us that displeased, even disgusted them, something which they had not voiced but instinctively I knew what it was. We did not want to be hosts. We found the very idea of blending repugnant. We had openly referred to them as `Goa'uld' as `snakes'. None of us had offered to save Selmac by becoming her host even though it was obvious that Serouche had only a very short time left to her.
And they were not letting us return to Earth any time soon.
I felt our failure with the Tok'ra very keenly. I had the feeling that somehow I had let down Jolinar very badly by not making them understand our position. And I was missing what might be my father's last days. There was going to be no miracle cure for him, no.
What was the one thing that the Tok'ra needed the most?
Now all I had to do was persuade every one else that this was the only solution to everyone's problem. And finally tell my Dad just what Deep Space Radar Telemetry had over NASA in the job fulfillment stakes.
NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS LYRICS
Sweetheart Come from the Album "No more shall we part" (Music:Cave, Adamson, Lyrics: Cave)
Come over here, babe
It ain't that bad
I don't claim to understand
The troubles that you've had
But the dogs you say they fed you to
Lay their muzzles in your lap
And the lions that they led you to
Lie down and take a nap
The ones you fear are wind and air
And I love you without measure
It seems we can be happy now
Be it better late than never
Sweetheart, come to me
The burdens that you carry now
Are not of your creation
So let's not weep for their evil deeds
But for their lack of imagination
Today's the time for courage, babe
Tomorrow can be for forgiving
And if he touches you again with his stupid hands
His life won't be worth living
Sweetheart, come to me
Walk with me now under the stars
For it's a clear and easy pleasure
And be happy in my company
For I love you without measure
Walk with me now under the stars
It's a safe and easy pleasure
It seems we can be happy now
It's late but it ain't never
It's late but it ain't never
It's late but it ain't never
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