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, Something I Should Know, The Burdens that You Carry.
SOUNDTRACK: Fish and Bird (Tom Waits / Kathleen Brennan) from the album "Alice" by Tom Waits
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author
You Can Live in My Heart
I watched her from the doorway. Vorash by all accounts had been hot and sandy. Colorado Springs was cool and damp. A light rain was falling. Sam was standing in the garden. She was barefoot, wearing tshirt and jeans. As I watched she raised her face to the sky. From this distance I could not tell if it was rain on her cheeks or tears. It was probably a combination of the two. Apart from her team I think Cassie and I were the only other people to ever see her cry. Carter's don't cry. She's told me that delightful aphorism more than once.
Carter's also hate to lose a battle. And between them Sam and her father just won one of the biggest. With his daughter's help, and the assistance of a symbiote that just a few short weeks ago we might have unknowingly cast as our greatest enemy Jacob Carter cheated death.
Beyond the bare facts of the mission we haven't talked about what happened yet. It was one hell of a First Contact. I recognized the young man who came through the Gate with Sam and General Carter from Sam's vivid description. It was the man she had been seeing in her dreams, Jolinar's lover - and in a sense, Sam's since she could probably describe every inch of his body. Martouf, his symbiote Lantash - and I really don't know how I feel about all of this yet. I'm jealous and sad and scared for her all at the same time. A part of me wonders if I can compete with that kind of epic love story.
I know she knows I'm watching. I can see it in the set of her shoulders. She knows I won't come out. I won't give her comfort until she's ready to receive it. She'll let me know when she needs me. We trust each other.
The rain is getting heavier. She runs her fingers through her hair, flattening it to her skull, her eyes closed. I can see her lips are moving but I can't hear what she's saying.
I think I'm past running on empty, running on fumes, the ghost of fumes. I'm gonna crash soon and hard. But Janet's watching and waiting. She'll catch me when I fall.
My father isn't dead. He isn't even dying - well, no more than the rest of us are. But then again he's not entirely human any more either. And we're at the same time closer than we've ever been and further apart than ever.
I knew my father would want to do this. He's a Carter and Carter's hate to lose a battle. A few short days ago, his only option was to die. I gave him - the Stargate gave him - something else. The opportunity not just to live a long and fulfilling life but to serve as the liaison between ourselves and possibly the most important ally we will ever have.
He wasn't exactly pleased to see me appear at his bedside, horrified that I had been recalled just to witness his death. And as ever when my dad was in a less than gracious mood just the tone of his voice could take a layer of skin off you. He just laughed when I told him we needed his help.
"What? The Pentagon wants me to deliver a message to God when I get up there?"
"Not exactly," General Hammond smiled.
"Well, I don't plan to see the other guy." He started to cough again, and the harshness of it scared me. We were running out of time. If anything, he looked sicker than Serouche.
"Dad, have you ever heard of the Stargate program?"
He guessed at satellites. And I admitted what he already knew: that it was a cover for a classified operation. He made some typically sarcastic comment and I refused to rise to his bait. It has taken me over thirty years but I don't need his approval any more. Daddy's girl is all growed up.
He stared at me. "So tell me, what do you do that's so great you don't want me to get you into the astronaut programme?"
And so I told him. "I travel to other planets, much further away than any astronaut goes."
He almost laughed in my face. "So you're not going to tell me the truth."
"She is telling you the truth, Jacob," General Hammond said.
"We discovered a piece of alien technology. It can send us to thousands of planets all over the galaxy."
Somehow I convinced him.
I could not hold back my smile. This was going to work. I was going to save my father's life.
"So what do you want me to do?" he asked.
"Well, we'd like you to travel to one of these planets with us," I said.
"Why, so I can die there?" he frowned.
"No," I told him gently. "Actually, I'm hoping what we want you to do will cure your cancer."
"They have a cure there? What's the catch?" Dad asked.
The sixty-four billion dollar question. "It's a doozie, Jacob. I won't lie to you on that," General Hammond told his old friend.
I was going to save my father's life. So why did I feel so guilty?
She glances back at me, just for a moment. She's so pale, her lips seem faintly blue, her eyes are wide and dark. She's replaying it all in her head, wondering if she's done the right thing. She'll second guess herself to kingdom come if I don't bring her out of it. It's time.
The rain is soft but penetrating and by the time I reach her side I'm distinctly damp. The cloud cover is heavy, it's already starting to get dark. The soft material of her tshirt and jeans is saturated. I can see the goosebumps on the bare skin of her arms and the top of her chest. She's still so slender, she looks like a puff of wind could bowl her over which is why so many underestimate her strength and resilience but she's like a willow tree, she'll bend with it and come right back. I take her hand in mine, futilely try to chafe some warmth into it for a moment before tugging at her, pulling her back towards the house. Time to go momma-bear on her.
"Sam, come inside, please, love. You're soaking, and you're starting to shiver."
These were statements of fact. She couldn't object. It did not stop me frowning at the defeated look on her face as she allowed me to lead her inside. I led her through the house upstairs to our ensuite bathroom. I turned on the shower, told her to get undressed and under the hot water. Passively she did as she was told. A few seconds later I joined her under the hot spray. I picked up the washcloth and wet it, then poured on a generous dollop of showergel. I passed the cloth gently over her back, watching how the foam spilled slowly down her long lean lines, following the path of her spine down to the cleft of her buttocks. She still hadn't said a word, hadn't made a move. Her head was bowed, the spray hitting the back of her neck. I moved so that I could see her face. Her eyes were closed, her expression inscrutable. I abandoned the washcloth, poured more showergel into my palms and reached up to gently massage her shoulders, feeling the tense muscles bunch under my touch.
"You're still worrying over whether you did the right thing," I said. I moved round until I was facing her, passed my sudsy hands over the skin of her upper chest, skirted the edge of her breasts. Her arms, which had been hanging loosely at her sides came up, her hands resting on my hips.
"Do you think I did the right thing?" Her voice was husky, a sure sign that she had indeed been crying.
"I think that if things had continued as they were you would probably have been arranging your father's funeral sometime in the next week or so. So yes, I think you did the only thing you could to save your father."
"But have I really saved him? He's out there, somewhere. I don't know even know where."
"He's with friends, with people who will look out for him. He has a new challenge. And from what little contact I had with him, your father looked like a man who enjoys a challenge. Just like his daughter."
She smiled at that, dropped a gentle kiss on the crown of my head.
"He could have backed out at any time, remember? In the end, the choice was his." I stood close to her, running my hands over her smooth skin, gently massaging some of the tenseness out of her body. The room was becoming faintly tropical by the time I rinsed the suds from us both and turned off the water, reaching for the towels. Quickly I wrapped one around myself and then wrapped its twin around Sam's slim frame. She smiled at me again, walked past me into our bedroom.
I hadn't realized just how chilled I had got standing in the rain, how distanced from myself. Emotionally as well as physically frozen. Janet was right. Dad had had plenty of opportunities to back out, to say no. But he had gone through with it. I hadn't talked him into it. I had given him an option, and he took it. I remembered.
In a shorter time than I would have thought possible I stood with my father and Colonel O'Neill on the ramp leading up to the Stargate. Dad looked pale and far too thin but there was a light in his eyes that had not been there a few hours before.
"So this is the alien thing you found?" Dad said.
"Yup," I grinned.
"And it sends you to other planets?" With perfect timing the Gate engaged and a fountain of energy exploded into the room. We were used to it by now but Dad gasped in amazement.
We walked up to the event horizon. "Does it - what does it feel like?" he asked softly.
"You've handled worse, Dad," I told him.
"It's a piece of cake, sir," the Colonel said. Dad did not look completely convinced by this. We walked through the Stargate.
"You do that a lot?" Dad asked, somewhat shakily.
"Once or twice a week," I told him.
"It beats the hell out of a shuttle on the back of a rocket," Dad said. And that was the nearest I got to an apology for the shit he had put me through over the years about my career choices.
"Goes a lot further too," the Colonel smirked.
Vorash was not the most impressive place we had ever been to, nothing to distinguish it from a thousand other desert worlds which was probably precisely why the Tok'ra had chosen it for their base. What was surprising was the lack of a welcoming committee. Considering the almost paranoid suspicion we had been under before being grudgingly allowed to return to the SGC I would have expected at least a token security presence to greet our return.
The Colonel was already looking around, watching for the other shoe to drop. As we made our way down to the Tok'ra tunnels we realised that they were organizing a full scale evacuation: the Goa'uld had made their position. Vorash was no longer a safe haven. I had brought my terminally ill father into the front line of a warzone.
Yes, the choice was his but he didn't have the full picture. How could he? He only knew of the Goa'uld as a word. He had never met one in the flesh.
Sam was still looking pensive when I came out of the bathroom having taken care of my wet hair (left to its own devices it would have dried into an unmanageable frizz). I had dried off and was now wearing a clean tshirt and shorts. Very short shorts. I had to do something to take my girl's mind off recent events. Sam had dried herself off and put on a nightshirt but that was about it.
I realized that nothing I could say would stop her worrying about her father. That would ease a little only when she saw him again. And I realized something else. We had yet to talk about Martouf. Perhaps it would be better to get things out into the open now, get the conversation over and done with before it had chance to fester.
"So what was it like to meet Martouf in person?" I asked. "Did he match up to Jolinar's memories?"
Hesitantly at first, as if unsure what my reaction would be, she told me about the walk along the ridge, about the connection they had made the wealth of emotion and memories invoked just by the simple touch of hands. "It made my memories - her memories, I mean - so much more intense," she said. "It was as if we were sharing our thoughts. Suddenly I understood a whole lot more about Jolinar, about the Tok'ra."
I watched her expression, her eyes. They told me that she had enjoyed meeting Martouf, that she liked him but that she was also more than a little scared by the whole experience.
"Lantash - the symbiote - he's very intense, very driven. Also not the most diplomatic of people."
"My grandmother had a saying - he speaks as he finds," I said.
She smiled. "Yes, that sums him up exactly. Martouf is much easier to deal with, more willing to explore other possibilities but equally committed to the Tok'ra cause."
"And what did he - they - think of you?"
"It took them a while to get over the fact that Rosha - Jolinar's host when they were last together - was gone. And they felt guilty over the way I had been forced into being a host. That goes against everything that the Tok'ra believe, apparently. She broke some pretty big taboos when she jumped into me the way she did. Rosha. I look a lot like Rosha, apparently."
"That made you feel uncomfortable."
"Yes." She was silent for a long moment.
"It must have been difficult, dealing with your father and with all the emotions and memories of Jolinar. She lived on Vorash didn't she?"
"For a time," Sam said as she crossed to the dressing table and picked up her pot of moisturiser. She applied a little of the cream to her hands and then to her face, smoothing it across her cheekbones and brow. I waited for her to continue. "It didn't really hit me until we were trying to explain the blending process to dad and what it would mean."
Dad seemed to take everything in his stride from his first trip through the Stargate to his meeting with Martouf. I think it was when he saw Serouche for the first time that he truly realised just what he was getting into.
Before he made his decision, Lantash invited him to get to know the symbiote that wished to blend with him. And so I was privileged to witness one of the strangest and yet most heartwarming conversations I've ever heard.
"If you agree to the blending, we could be together for a very long time," Selmac said. She started to cough, paling visibly.
"You don't look so good," Dad said.
"You are no vision of beauty yourself, sir!" They both started to laugh at that but it soon degenerated into a fit of coughing that left them both limp and breathless. Then Serouche took over the conversation. "I'm the one to whom you should be talking."
Dad didn't understand. "You are the one I'm talking to. Why. why did your voice change like that?"
I tried to explain "That's the host talking now."
"I am Serouche. I am in the position to help you most. I will die, Selmac will live on, you will take my place as host."
Dad still looked confused. "I don't understand."
"Selmac is a wonderful Tok'ra. She is selfless and caring, she is good company. She has a wonderful sense of humour."
I could not resist. "Well that's good, Dad. You can sit around for hours cracking yourself up." He glared at me and I thrilled to see some of the old fire in his eyes again.
"She's not far wrong. I've had almost two hundred years of laughter thanks to Selmac. I'm biased of course, but I believe that Selmac is among the best educated of the Tok'ra. You will probably be overwhelmed by the knowledge and wisdom you will gain upon blending," Serouche said.
"So I get all of this thing's. all of its memories and stuff?"
"Yeah, Dad, something like that," I said.
"I won't deceive you, sir. We have some pretty awful things buried in our memory. memories of countless Goa'uld atrocities, the loss of the host before me, and you will feel the mourning for my loss."
Dad had reached the end of whatever resources had brought him this far. He made his excuses and stumbled out of the room and we could hear him retching in the corridor. I gave him a minute or two to get himself back together and then followed him outside.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't want my future, um, I guess you could call her soul-mate, to see me like this."
"Dad, you don't have to do this." Suddenly it hit me what I might be committing him to. The Tok'ra were actively hunted down and murdered by the Goa'uld. And the Goa'uld were not fans of easy death. Perhaps, horrible though it sounded, dying of cancer was a better option.
"Yes I do. My only other choice is death and that's not acceptable. Look, don't worry, its not just hearing all that stuff that made me lose my stomach, it's the chemo. And the trip through that damn Stargate thing.
"It's okay," I said. "This is a lot of weird information for anyone to take in at once. Trust me, I know."
Dad knew his options. And above all things he was a hard headed realist. He could make the big decisions however unpalatable. It was something he prided himself on. It did not take him long to decide. "Okay. what do I have to do?"
"First, Selmac would like to interview you," Martouf said.
"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?" Selmac said.
Dad laughed. "What's not to like? Just ask my daughter, I'm a teddy bear!"
It was so very hard to keep a straight face. This whole thing was getting more surreal by the second. "Oh yeah, a real teddy bear," I choked out.
The interview seemed to go well. There seemed a real chemistry between the two of them and I found myself instinctively liking Selmac. Jolinar had liked her - and Serouche as well. Again I found myself taking the dead Tok'ra's remnant feelings and emotions as my guideline.
"Tell me, sir. Are you a good man?" Selmac asked. Dad had no idea how to answer that. "We'll be spending the rest of our lives together," she reminded him.
"Look, forgive me for being blunt, but you're dying, right?" Dad said.
"My host is, yes," Selmac said.
"And you'll die with her unless we do this. So my point is: good man, bad man, what difference does it make? We don't have a choice. And I don't mind telling you the whole idea scares the hell outta me. So can we just get it over with?"
I winced. Dad was never in the diplomatic corps. But to my surprise the Tok'ra took it in good part.
"I have decided I like you. but I must be sure that you understand there will be no turning back. I cannot blend with you, cure your disease, then leave. To do so would probably kill us both."
"I understand," Dad said. "Let me ask you something though. After we do this, will I still be able to talk to my daughter?"
"The way Serouche talked to you - yes. But you and your daughter must understand the blending may not work at all. I am very weak and the damage to your body may be too extensive."
"In other words, we might die anyway." Selmac confirmed this. Dad drew me aside. Lantash reminded us both that we were running out of time.
I had no idea what Dad was going to say to me. Neither of us was any good at this kind of thing - which is why we had spent most of the previous decade not really speaking at all. "You got to know one thing," he said. "How proud I am of you. I'm not good at saying these things enough."
"I think you just said it pretty well," I told him, fighting to hold back my tears.
"Even when I thought you were this whiz satellite geek, I was proud. That's all I want to say."
I didn't know what to do. I just stood and looked at him, trying not to cry because I knew he would really hate that.
He made a joke of it. "Hey, I know I'm a pain in the ass. maybe this Tok'ra lady will, uh, sand off some of the rough edges. It might be a good thing, right?"
"Could be," I said. "The longer we wait, the less the chance is." I was so torn. I wanted more than anything to see him well, but I knew that the price for that would be to change my dad forever. Either way I would lose him.
But at least he would still be alive and kicking.
She was crying again as she told me how the implantation process differed to what we know of the Goa'uld method. The explanation of why Goa'uld go in through the back of the neck rather than the mouth disturbed me as well.
"They do not wish to remember the horror of their host's face whenever they see their own reflection in the mirror."
"So the Goa'uld are squeamish," I commented. "Hardly fits with the usual face they put to the world."
"I didn't see the blending. Under the proper circumstances, it's a private thing between the old host and the new host. Dad said goodbye to me and Martouf and I waited outside while it happened. To be honest, it would have brought back too many demons to see it happen to someone else, particularly someone I knew. love. Selmac went in to Dad and a few moments later Serouche just died. All we had to do then was wait to see if the blending worked and if Selmac could cure Dad."
"Well he looked fine when you got back here though I would have loved to examine him properly just to check, maybe figure out a bit more how the symbiote does it."
"Vorash was compromised. They had a traitor - one of their most trusted counselors was secretly working for the Goa'uld. I don't know whether it was our arrival that precipitated the attack. The Tok'ra were literally dismantling their base around. The Colonel ordered me to go but I could not leave Dad. It was dangerous to move him before we knew whether the blending had taken or not. So Martouf and I waited until my father and Selmac were strong enough to be moved. Both Garshaw and the Colonel were dead set against it. Garshaw only agreed when Martouf promised that none of us would be taken alive. And I . well, I'm not proud of manipulating the Colonel. But there was no way I was leaving my dad."
I drew her into my arms and just held her. Sam put her arms around me, her head pillowed on my shoulder. I could almost feel her drawing strength from me. I kissed her temple, bringing my hand up to soothe through the short hair at the back of her neck, feeling her relax into me. I don't know how long we just sat like that on the edge of the bed before I felt her subtly push against me. I lay back, bringing her with me as she shifted position to straddle my body. She kissed me, exploring my lips, my mouth before moving down to nibble along the edge of my jaw, the tendons in my throat. I let her take the lead, my fingers wound in her short hair giving myself up to just feel what she wanted me to feel. The sensation of being loved, of being alive.
She suckled at my breasts through the thin material of my shirt, biting and mouthing me, the gentle stimulation combining with the sensation of the damp material against my nipples to make me quickly, almost painfully aroused. I took hold of the hand resting against my hip and moved it over my centre making my intentions, my desires very clear to her. I felt her smile against my skin as she kissed her way down my sternum and belly, stopping to pay her respects to my navel on the way. I did not stifle the moan of sheer desire and need that burst from me as the tip of her tongue rimmed the sensitized skin and my hips lifted from the bed. This gave her the opportunity to slip off my shorts and I moaned again as I felt her breath stirring through the hairs that masked my centre. Her fingers brushed against my slick folds, cool against my heated skin and then her lips closed gently around my clit drawing it into her hot mouth and I gave up thinking anything at all.
Nothing that I remembered from Martouf and Rosha, Selmac and Jolinar compared in any way to what I had with Janet and yet the emotions involved were exactly the same. Commitment, love, trust. Universal and yet so rare. As I felt Janet shudder and spasm under me, tasted the sweet liquor flowing from her in response to my touch, heard my name broken and beautiful on her lips I knew that what I had here and now was incredible and eternal and something to be cherished in every way. I had so much to be thankful for - the love of a beautiful woman, the chance that my father would have a long and fulfilling life, the fact that we had got out of another bad situation on Vorash, the certainty that we had new and powerful allies in our fight against the Goa'uld.
There was a strong chance that it would not have worked, that we would have lost everything. My father was very sick after all, and Selmac was weak. She might not have had the strength to heal him. And all we could do was wait. Martouf. promised that he would do what was necessary to ensure that none of us were captured by the Goa'uld. I'm neither a child nor an innocent, I knew what that meant. Yet I could not help but wonder if I had done the right thing in bringing him there. But then all I had to consider were the alternatives. My one true regret was that I might not have the chance to properly say goodbye to Janet. Dying so far away from her and leaving her alone.
Then the most wonderful thing happened. Dad woke up. And he was fine, better than fine. Selmac had not only taken care of his cancer but also his arthritis. And he was still my father, the whole stubborn and infuriating package.
We were one step ahead of the Jaffa all the way back to the Gate, racing a couple of deathgliders on a strafing run through the event horizon itself. Garshaw was waiting at the SGC for us. Her pleasure at seeing Selmac again was obvious. I got the feeling that between Martouf and Garshaw my father was in good hands. Because this was it. He was leaving with them.
Dad and I said more to each other in our last conversation before he went with Garshaw and Martouf than we had for years. "I was trying to find you a better assignment and you didn't need it. Now you've found me the best assignment an old soldier could dream up. Thanks, kid."
We were alive and we were free. My father had a new purpose in life. Against all the odds we had found new and powerful allies against our enemies. And I was with the woman I loved above all things, who accepted me for who and what I was without pause, without question, holding her in my arms in the afterglow of lovemaking, her soft lips whispering across my skin.
"There will come a time when the Tok'ra and the people of the Tau'ri will destroy the Goa'uld System Lords." So Garshaw had said. So we all wholeheartedly believed. One day. But on this day at this time my love had unerringly helped me to focus not on future hope and all the inevitable conflict and unpleasantness that was likely to be our lot in trying to achieve that goal. She had brought me back to myself, to her, to the truth that if I did not live my life now, take every opportunity to give and receive love, to dwell in light and love and not in fear and regret then the fight was already lost. Janet's fingers caressed my skin, and I pushed everything else away, gave myself to her, to the moment, to the joy of being alive and in love.
Janet's open mouthed kisses across my skin made me purr with pleasure. Her small, deft hands traced over the curves of my body in an ornate calligraphy of their own, secret messages for my heart to read. Just an hour ago and I had been alone and miserable, brooding in the rain, unable to get past the fact that even though my father was alive and well I still might never see him again. Don't call us, we'll call you. Typical of my dad. And now, now - my back arched into her touch as her lips traced lines of fire down my body, my hands returning her caresses, my voice murmuring her name, declaring my love for her over and over and over again.
She is so beautiful when she is like this, in the eye of the storm of her emotions, all her walls down, so open and loving. Her eyes are heavy lidded, the crystal blue darkened to storm as she gazes up at me, her pale skin flushed, beaded with sweat. I lick a drop from the base of her throat and she makes that almost purring sound again. "Janet!"
I can't protect her when she's out there, I can't wrap her up in cotton wool like some precious keepsake. I can't slay her demons for her but this, this I can do. I can bring her some peace of mind, I can give her the love that she needs, that she deserves. This much I can do.
And most of the time, I'm lucky. It's enough.
Fish and Bird (Tom Waits / Kathleen Brennan) from the album "Alice" by Tom Waits
They bought a round for the sailor
And they heard his tale
Of a world that was so far away
And a song that we'd never heard
A song of a little bird
That fell in love with a whale
He said, "You cannot live in the ocean"
And she said to him
"You can never live in the sky"
But the ocean is filled with tears
And the sea turns into a mirror
There's a whale in the moon when it's clear
And a bird on the tide
Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes
So tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend you're mine
Though I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart
Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes
And tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend that you're mine
I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart
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