Page 24

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"Are we receiving a code. yet?"
"No, sir."
Gen. Hammond tensed, knowing it was probably just the Tok'ra sending the box through, but there was always a chance that it was hostile visitors on the way.
"Open the iris. Full security detail to the Gate room...just in case."
He looked up just in time to see Col. O'Neill and Dr. Jackson race into the room.
He was curious why they looked so anxious, but didn't have time to inquire before an annoyed Dr. Fraiser appeared behind them.
The look she sent him let him know they were probably avoiding the infirmary.
Allowing a small smile to show, he nodded at the men.
Relief cascaded over their expressions and Dr. Fraiser smirked for a moment before forcing a scowl on her face.
He had no idea what she whispered to Dr. Jackson, but it was enough to make the man blush bright red.
The General turned toward the Gate just in time to see the box come through.
It passed through the horizon fast enough to miss the platform and hit the ramp.
Sliding down the ramp, it finally came to a stop in front of a young soldier nervously fingering his gun.
Then, after a moment of silence broken only by the sound of machinery around them, the Gate disengaged.
Jack raised his eyebrows.
"That's it?"
Daniel turned to him.
"Since they don't want to use a remote transmitter, sending the box through first is the only way to let us know they want to come through. If the iris is closed when the box comes through, we can analyze the residue, know it was the box, and then when they come through later, we'll know it's them and they won't...umm..."
"Go splat?"
Daniel wrinkled his nose.
"Nice image, Jack. Thanks."
Jack smiled sweetly.
" long until they come through?"
The General had been listening to the by-play and now turned.
"I'm not sure. They may give us what they consider enough time to analyze the residue in case the iris was closed, but they also know we're expecting them so they may try..."
"Wormhole establishing, sir."
The General just sent the Colonel a quick 'I told you so' look and turned back to the techie.
"Leave the iris open. Colonel? Join me?"
"Wouldn't miss it, sir."
The wave settled just as Hammond and Jack entered the embarkation room.
Two robed figures stepped through the gate and onto the ramp.
The General smiled a welcome to the two sober, stiffly moving men walking down the ramp.
Martouf gently greeted each man in turn and then respectfully stepped to the Colonel's side to allow Jacob to have a private moment with his old friend.
Watching Colonel O'Neill closely, he wasn't surprised to see the lines in his face had deepened and there was a sadness even in the smile he shared with Dr. Jackson as he and Teal'c approached the small gathering at the bottom of the ramp.
Selmac nodded politely and then retreated so that Jacob could speak freely with his friend.
"George. I need to know what happened."
Jacob used every bit of control he'd ever learned to keep his voice from cracking.
The General nodded.
"I know, Jake. Everyone, let's move this to the briefing room so we can talk."
Nodding briefly in assent, Jacob watched his daughter's teammates as they walked.
It was impossible to miss the differences in the men.
Each connected perfectly with each other, but one fourth of each man was definitely missing.
Selmac added her agreement.
*They were impressive as a team. Your daughter was very courageous and inspired loyalty in her teammates.*
Jacob smiled even though the thought hurt.
*I know. I just wish I'd been able to talk to her. I had no idea...*
*You couldn't have known that it would be the last time you'd see her. She nearly gave her life to save us both. She was a soldier. She knew the risks.*
Jacob sighed, causing George to give him a quick look.
*I know. That doesn't make it any easier.*
Selmac sent as much comfort through their link as she could.
*Just know I am here for you. If you need me to take over to keep your feelings from being known to those around you, just retreat.*
Jacob knew he couldn't speak without his voice shaking, so he kept as quiet as possible as he walked.
*I know. Thank you.*
Martouf walked a few steps behind everyone as they followed the General and Jacob, unsure of his welcome.
The Tok'ra had just finished settling new tunnels on their newest world when the Chaapa'ai had delivered a box matching the one they'd been given before, alerting them the Tau'ri wished to make contact.
Selmac and Garshaw had met the Tau'ri messenger, agreeing to the procedure for contact and learning of Capt. Carter's death.
They didn't even know how Samantha died.
He supposed that was what they were about to be told.
Part of him really didn't want to know, part of him needed to know.
His last link to his wife was gone.
*You must not think of her that way. She was only a host to Jolinar for a short time. She was not our mate.*
Martouf sighed inwardly.
*I know this. She was an extraordinary woman and I think she cared for us. Not just because of Jolinar's feelings that remained after her death.*
*But we do not know for sure. Be careful. I mourn Jolinar and I mourn the death of a brave warrior, but we did not know Samantha very well.*
*She was brave, but she was also kind, inquisitive, beautiful, intelligent...*
*Enough. You are making it worse. I do not want to care for her. Jolinar is dead. Samantha is dead. Let them lie.*
*You fraud. You care as much as I do.*
*Leave me my dignity, my friend. My wife is gone. I can't let myself care again. Not so soon. I still bleed.*
*I know. I'm sorry, but I cannot put a halt on my heart as easily. I will try not to think on it anymore.*
*Thank you.*
Martouf deliberately pushed his thoughts around, trying not to think of Samantha and failing miserably.
*You are hopeless.*
Martouf walked into the briefing room behind O'Neill, sending both apology and annoyance to Lantash and getting the same in return.
"Everyone take a seat and we'll get started."
The General's voice startled Martouf and Lantash out of their conversation.
Jack took his usual seat to the General's right, across from Jacob.
He was not looking forward to this.
Martouf watched as Dr. Jackson and Teal'c sat, exchanging unreadable looks with O'Neill.
Then, a woman the General introduced as Dr. Fraiser walked in and took the seat across from him, looking very uncomfortable.

Inexplicably, a familiar sensation filtered through him as she sat down.
*Do you feel that?*
Lantash became very agitated.
*No.You are becoming delusional.*
Lantash then retreated, putting a mental wall between him and Martouf so that nothing else could be said between them until he lowered the wall.
Martouf grimaced lightly at the discomfort of Lantash moving so abruptly, but said nothing, allowing the other to mourn alone.
Janet forced her hands to still, fighting the urge to fidget.
Her headache had abated for awhile, but she could feel it starting again.
Looking up, she caught the strange look on Martouf's face as he stared at her.
Feeling even more uncomfortable, she turned to the General who was speaking quietly with a technician who had come upstairs with a message.
Out of the corner of her eye, she realized the Colonel was glaring at Martouf.
Janet turned back to Martouf, giving him a not-so-professional once-over to see what it was that had confused Sam and made Jack look at him that way.
He didn't think Martouf was interested in her, did he?
Well, that would explain the look Martouf apparently just realized he was getting from Jack.
They'd only just been introduced and Jack was laying down territory.
She'd have to tease him about that thoroughly later, after this awful briefing was over and done.
Now Martouf and everyone else would probably think they were involved or something.
Jack was definitely going to get an earful.
Jack, unaware of his fate at the end of the briefing, was very satisfied with the way Martouf averted his eyes from Janet after recognizing she wasn't available.
Jack caught himself up.
Not available as in not available to Martouf.
The last thing the SGC needed was to lose its CMO to the Tok'ra.
What if she became one to be with him or something stupid like that.
Carter had had that connection to Martouf and it was obvious how it messed her up.
He was just looking out for an old friend.
That's it.
Daniel sighed, catching all the action between Jack and Martouf.
He couldn't believe Jack did that.
He didn't miss the look Janet sent Jack, either.
What he wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall for that argument.
The technician left and the General turned returned to the table.
"The Stargate had a couple power disruptions that we're concerned about. Are we ready to begin?"
Jacob just nodded impatiently and a soberness settled over everyone.
The General nodded to Jack.
He'd rehearsed what he was going to say to the point where he almost wasn't paying attention to the words.
Jack looked Jacob in the eye as he spoke.
"We were on G78-XE2 for a routine re-con. Lots of trees, one path. We followed the path and hid under a big tree and watched native children walk in formation. They left, we encountered a rodent, I was wounded, Carter took command, we went back on the path and were shot with darts loaded with a sleeper of some type. Teal'c woke up, Daniel woke up, they helped me off of Carter, and we saw one of the darts she'd been shot with had severed her jugular. She'd bled to death in her sleep. We carried her body home."
Daniel looked up sharply at the way Jack had ended the explanation and realized Jack just couldn't say the rest.
Teal'c, realizing the same thing, interjected.
"A small, apparently carnivorous animal attacked Captain Carter's body while we were gathering our possessions to leave. The animal severed her head from her body. I killed it. Then, we brought her home."
Jacob's eyes had widened in shock as Teal'c spoke and he began to shake a bit as his mind conjured images.
Selmac, realizing Jacob's control was breaking rapidly, took over, allowing him to mentally scream without anyone seeing.
Her voice echoed soothingly as she spoke.
"Thank you for telling us how she died. We needed to know. We're proud she died in the line of duty, trying to bring her wounded commander home."
Shocked expressions turned toward her as it sunk in that that was exactly how Carter had died.
Daniel opened his mouth to speak, but the forbidding expression on Jack's face stopped him.
Obviously, the Tok'ra were not to be told that Sam might not be dead.
Daniel thought very carefully about it.
If he had a daughter and friend who hadn't died, but might as well be dead, would he want to know?
Daniel sent Jack a warning look and turned to Jacob.
Ignoring the alarm in Hammond's eyes as the General realized Daniel was about to reveal everything, Daniel began talking.
"I don't think Sam's least not the way she should be dead."
Both Tok'ra swiveled toward him in confusion as Jack groaned and rested his head in his arms.
Jacob took back over, a fierce and desperate anger filling his eyes.
"How can she not be dead? Her head was taken from her body, her body brought home. Please tell me just how my little girl isn't dead!"
Everyone flinched at the broken, raw grief in his rasping voice, but Daniel, unable to ignore the tears welling in Sam's father's eyes, refused to back down from it.
"I think Sam was displaced from her body because of an alien protection device on a previous planet we went to. I think we all were. I think that if Jack, Teal'c, Teal'c's Goa'uld larvae, or I was to die, we would do the same thing Sam did."
Martouf's brow was furrowed.
"I do not understand. What has she done to make you think this?"
Daniel stood up and began pacing as he spoke, each step enunciating his words.
"After Sam died, we were all in my office, and I was able to see her lying on the floor, listening to Jack and Teal'c talking. Then, when she realized I could see her, we worked out a way to communicate and were trying to figure out how it happened..."
Lantash erupted from behind the wall, giving him and Martouf a splitting headache in his haste to kill any hope before it could build.
"Was anyone else able to see her? Are you sure it wasn't just a delusional wish on your part?"
Janet's eyes flashed with indignation.
"For your information, I have medical proof that Daniel's eyes are changing rapidly. That change allowed him to see things we can't. Sam was one of those things. We all know for sure she was there, we just can't figure out where she went."
Jacob started to speak when Hammond interrupted.
"Everyone settle down. There's no need to yell. Jake, Martouf, if you'll bear with us, we'll explain. Starting with Colonel O'Neill, I want each of you to give your version of the events after Capt. Carter's return."
Jacob retreated, listening, but with Selmac in physical control so he wouldn't make another outburst.
Martouf took control again, feeling Lantash's fear, wishing he could take it away.
Finally, after Daniel, last in rotation, finished with his dissertation, the group waited for the reactions from the Tok'ra.
From the first word that Sam had disappeared near Janet, a suspicion had begun in Martouf.
Lantash tried to keep Martouf from thinking further about it, knowing it would just lead to hope and then more pain.
Watching Janet carefully, Martouf ignored Lantash's mental protestations and saw definite signs that she was hurting.
He realized she'd been showing signs of a headache the moment she walked in.
Every time she'd moved, she'd winced a bit.
Lantash sighed, realizing that Martouf would not be turned from this line of inquiry until the doctor had rejected the idea.
Selmac looked around the room.
"Jacob needs some time to deal with this. We'd like some time alone, if you don't mind."
The General immediately stood.
"Of course. It's a lot to take in. I can't come now, but Col. O'Neill will escort you to the guest quarters we've reserved for you. Colonel?"
Jack stood, sending Daniel a look to let him know he'd be next on Jack's visit list, and started toward the door.
"Of course, sir. This way, General."
Martouf stayed seated.
"If you don't mind, I have a few questions for Dr. Jackson and Dr. Fraiser."
Selmac turned to him, her eyes flashing in shared grief.
"We will wish to see her body before the funeral. Do you wish also to view it?"
Martouf nodded stiffly, but politely, unable to answer that question verbally.
Realizing this, Selmac smiled gently at him before turning to the door as O'Neill stepped out of the room, closely followed by Teal'c.
Hammond turned back to Martouf, a deep sorrow adding deeper tones to his voice.
"Unfortunately, I think I should get a few things finished. If you need me, I'll be in my office. Dr. Jackson, if you'll escort him to his quarters when he's ready?"
Daniel nodded, curious at the way Martouf was watching Janet.
The General nodded shortly and left as quickly as dignity allowed.
Janet started to stand, but Martouf's voice stopped her.
"Please, sit. How long has your head been hurting?"
Janet stared at him, perplexed, trying to remember when the migraine had first started.
Daniel looked hard at Janet, wondering whether Jack was right and Martouf was coming on to her.
His gaze sharpened at her reply.
"Just after the guys left the infirmary. Col. O'Neill and Teal'c went to the General and Daniel went to his office."
Martouf stared at her a moment longer, then stood.
"Dr. Jackson, you said Capt. Carter was removed from her body and once she was freed from its grasp was able to walk around without physical limitation. Correct?"
Daniel nodded, seeing a small tinge of excitement in Martouf's eyes, but not sure why.
Janet stood and walked around the table to where the men were standing in front of the blast window.
Martouf startled her with the swift way he approached her.
"Have none of your medicines helped the pain?"
Janet and Daniel looked at each other, trying to figure out the odd questioning.
"No, nothing's helped. It abates a bit and then hits full force. It's a migraine."
"Lantash thinks that I am a fool and that I am stretching a bit too far, but is there a chance Samantha entered you?"
Daniel began racking his brain, trying to see if it was possible, remembering play-by-play the moment Sam disappeared.
"It would make sense. I don't know why I didn't think of it."
Janet looked from one man to the other, seeing the hope flaring in their eyes, thinking they were both showing signs of insanity.
"Wouldn't I know if she were in me? I mean, you can't usually miss something like that, can you?"
Daniel realized how freaked out Janet was getting.
"Have you had anything odd besides the headaches? Memories or thoughts that don't feel like they're yours? Anything?"
Janet backed up a couple steps, away from the two men.
"No. Nothing. Just the migraine."
Then, a thought struck her and she looked alarmed.
"You are right about one thing, though."
Both men looked at her, hopeful.
"This did start when Sam disappeared. I thought perhaps it was stress, but nothing's touching it. I'm going to report to the infirmary and have Dr. Warren look me over. If he can't think of anything, I'll have my head examined, literally. If something did happen to me, either as a side effect of what Sam did, or something else we don't know about, I'm going to find out. I can't take the chance something is wrong with me. Not just in case it's dangerous or contagious, but if I lose concentration with a patient, someone might get hurt. I should've done it sooner. I can't believe I didn't."
Janet didn't wait for another word from either man, but left, walking as fast as she could to the infirmary, annoyance and unease evident on her face.
Martouf watched her leave, disappointed.
He'd been so certain Samantha had entered her somehow, but he hadn't felt the sensation he'd had earlier when Janet had first sat down.
*You are much too swift to trust hunches. That is why you constantly get hurt. Jacob called it wearing your heart on your sleeve. Not only can everyone see your heart, but you keep bumping it into walls.*
Lantash turned to Daniel.
"We wish to go to our...quarters now if you don't mind."
Daniel looked at him, chewing his bottom lip for a moment.
"I still think you may be right. We just have to get the facts and watch her to see. We can't tell anyone, though. They already think I should be committed."
"Huh? Oh...umm when a human's mind stops working correctly and they start believing unbelievable things like everything's made of spit or that everyone's trying to kill them when they aren't. For their own protection they're taken to a building where doctors watch them and keep them from hurting themselves or other people. We call that committing. I keep saying I see Sam or I found a way to contact Sam..."
Martouf interrupted.
"You did?"
Daniel looked annoyed.
"Yes, well it was an old ritual that would recall her spirit from wherever it had gone, whether to an afterlife or even from Janet, but you have to use the deceased or separated's body and, well, Jack told me something happened to her head. Unless you at least have all the body parts, it won't work. We can't do it even if she is inside Janet. So anyway, that's why they would probably commit me. It's just too much for them. I'm always having to disobey orders and do my own thing to prove I'm right and they never learn to just listen to me and get it right the first time. Jack's always saying there's a time and a place for mythology and it's like I have to kick him in the head or something to make him realize that pretty much everything that's happened has it's place in mythology and who knows how many things we'd know if we'd just..."
Martouf was just standing there, staring at the archaeologist and listening.
Daniel flushed.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to rant. I usually don't, it's just been a pretty stressful few days around here."
Martouf smiled gently.
"You have nothing to apologize for. No one has properly listened to you and you needed someone who would. I was impressed with your intelligence and the way Capt. Carter looked to you for support while you were with us. Many times as I walked by, I would hear the friendship in your voices as you spoke, while we were trying to decide whether we could trust you. She is who you would normally 'rant' to, isn't she?"
Daniel nodded a bit.
Is there anywhere you want to go before going to your quarters?"
Martouf shook his head.
"No, we were in a very difficult situation, which is why we were not able to arrive earlier. I am very fatigued."
Daniel smiled and bowed in a dramatic flourish..
"Right this way, then."
A laugh escaped him at the incredulous look Martouf gave him before the Tok'ra walked over to the door, shaking his head slightly.
Martouf turned to Daniel as they began walking down the corridor.
"You are an odd man, Dr. Jackson."
Daniel smiled at him.
"I know. Oh, call me Daniel. I'm getting used to it, but I still feel old whenever anyone calls me Dr. Jackson."
Martouf smiled.
"Will you awaken me when you have time to speak? Lantash said we did not know Samantha very well and in many ways he was right. If you wish to speak of her time with your team, we would like to listen."
Daniel stopped outside Martouf's quarters.
"I'd love to. I'll ask someone to come get you in a few hours. A team brought back some inscriptions I'm going to work on and I tend to forget the time and Jack delights in grumping about it. If you wake up and want to talk before then, just ask anyone where my office is and they'll tell you. Everyone knows me. Okay?"
Martouf smiled a little distractedly then ducked his head.
Lantash flashed a smile to Daniel, the echo in his voice no longer startling the doctor at all.
"Of course. Martouf is still trying to believe Samantha is inside your doctor so I will take my leave of you. In a few hours, Dr. Jackson."
Daniel didn't correct him, realizing he didn't like Lantash as much as he liked Martouf.
Martouf walked into his quarters, slowly closing the door behind him.
"Until later, Daniel."
Daniel gave a short wave and walked away, muttering a bit to himself, earning indulgent smiles from a couple of uniformed women heading the opposite direction.

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