Better Offer

Summary: Jonas reflects on his reasons for refusing, and almost accepting, Nirrti's offer in 'Metamorphosis'.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just enjoy getting inside of their heads from time to time.

Spoilers: Ep 6.16 "Metamorphosis"

Feedback: Always welcomed and much appreciated.

Better Offer

There is something very unsettling about being hit on by a Goa'uld Queen. I mean, yeah, damned attractive without a doubt, but… whew! Thanks but no thanks, sister. I know what you look like on the inside; I know all about that little parasitic snake living in there. And I have no desire to end up the same way, thanks.

Talk all you want about 'genetic variance' and how different I am from the Tau'ri, but I am not a stupid man. I know enough to know that what all that sweet talk really breaks down to is two little words: good host. Again, thanks but no thanks.

Maybe I've been hanging around with Colonel O'Neill for too long, but the idea of having one of those things inside of me just… it freaks me out a little. Not that that was the only part of the experience to freak me, mind you! Okay, getting pawed at by Nirrti? Uh… not my idea of a good time. Now don't get me wrong! Beautiful women are definitely nice.

Let's just say that this Kelwonan prefers his beautiful women to be sans snake and leave it at that. Not that I have a lot of experience with the other type. Not that I need to, having read Doctor Jackson's notes. Goa'uld Queens tend to be bad news. Period. So I tend to go for the non-snake-infested type of woman. Especially, though, this Kelwonan goes for the non-snake-infested type of woman who is not currently trying to kill his friends. There's just something about a woman trying to kill your friends that's a real turn-off. Go figure.

Uh, but… well… Let's just get one thing straight, okay? I'm not perfect. I do have vices. And part of me wanted to say yes to Nirrti's offer. It wasn't about the power she was offering me, though. It was that knowledge… Becoming a host would have given me access to a lot of information that I could never get my hands on otherwise. God, what scientist wouldn't think twice? So, yeah, I wanted to say yes. Badly. And there's a time when I would have. I mean, I'm not sure what that says about me, really, but there it is: once upon a time I would have bartered my soul for the knowledge that a Goa'uld could have provided me with. Five years ago, I would have said yes in a heartbeat. Two years ago, even. But it's like my mom, God rest her soul, always used to tell me:

Times change. People change.

And in the past year and a half, two years, I have changed. I am not the same Jonas Quinn who worked the Naquahdah project, that's for damned sure. Just like I couldn't go back and do that again, being who I am now, I couldn't have said yes to Nirrti. Couldn't do it. Wanted to, just couldn't. Guess you could say that I've had a better offer.

Huh, now there is a statement that begs the question if ever I have heard one. Better offer than galactic dominion. RightSure you had a better offer, Quinn. So what's her name?

Samantha Carter, Sam. Her name is Sam, but it's not like that. As far as I can tell, her affections reside firmly elsewhere. I'm not about to get between them. It would be, among other things, suicide to try to come between Sam and the man she loves. Although there are times when I honestly wonder if he knows… More the fool if he doesn't. He will, though. He'd have to be blind to miss her little looks, and I've seen him give her enough little looks of his own. He knows, or he will, very soon. Not my point, anyway.

My point… Um, where was I? Right. Better offer. What's her name? Sam, her name is Sam, and in spite of what you probably think at this point, I'm not in love with her. Yeah, I do love her, but I'm not in love with her. Huge distinction, that. I do love her, though. She's an absolutely amazing woman and a good friend besides.

Which I guess is at the crux of it. Major Samantha Carter was the first human on this planet to so much as give me the time of day, the first one to trust me. The first one not to blame me for something I still blame myself for… While her CO was still glowering at me, dismissing me as an 'alien' and refusing to so much as acknowledge me, Sam Carter, mourning just as badly as he was, accepted me.

Might not seem like much, but there was more than one day there in the beginning when her little smile and gentle 'morning, Jonas' was really all that kept me going. Doctor Jackson's death hit her hard, I know that, but even while she was still mourning it she began to accept me. It was a little thing, but it meant the world to a scared, lonely young man.

Teal'C was next. I don't think he's actually smiled at me yet, but I don't take that personally. Teal'C is not exactly the sort to smile often and you have to look for it or you miss it. All those years of servitude… he wasn't exactly rewarded for showing things like good cheer. They're there, though, if you know where to look. It's in the eyes for Teal'C. His eyes are more expressive than the rest of him put together. His eyes are the first place I saw acceptance from him…

General Hammond accepted me before Colonel O'Neill did, gave me the chance to prove myself on the Team. He's a nice man, reminds me of my father or Doctor Kieran in a lot of ways. Strict but fair. And always willing to give a guy a chance. All I really wanted was a chance to prove myself, and he was willing to give it to me. That chance to earn his acceptance meant almost as much to me as the acceptance I had already earned from Sam and Teal'C.

The Colonel's acceptance was harder to earn and I'm still not sure when or where I did, but one day it was just… there. This subtle alteration in the way he treated me, the tone of voice he used when he spoke to me or gave orders, the things he let me do. He had grown to accept me, too.

My parents died when I was very young, and my sister was placed with a different family a few years later, it's why I threw myself into academics like I did. It was a defense against that constant, nagging loneliness… I pulled my nose out of the books long enough during my first year of college to get engaged to a wonderful girl. She died and the loneliness was back, worse than before. Those books were a damned welcomed distraction. For a long time a distraction is all they were, though.

Actually loving the things I was studying came later. I moved to the head of my class without noticing. Desperate in my loneliness, I made a place for myself in Kelwona's scientific community and didn't even realize it. That's where I found my second family, men and women like me, who enjoyed science and learning and discovery. We were all close, some more than others, but it was a family in a very real sense, especially after I began working for the government. We lived and worked together, a family in every respect, with Doctor Kieran as our 'father'. Me more than the others, though. He treated me like a son and I loved him like a father. He showed me that it was okay to care again…

I lost that, or threw it away. Which? Depends on when you ask me. Some days I feel like they were torn from me by circumstance. Sometimes I feel like I threw away the best thing I ever had when I came here. I honestly don't know, and I don't like thinking about it, to tell the truth. It doesn't matter, really. Well, sometimes when I lay awake at night, alone in my room. Remembering what it is to really be lonely. My friends are gone; I'll never see them again. My 'family', my 'father' are gone, driven mad by the research we all worked on, a fate I only narrowly escaped by defecting… So maybe I threw them away or maybe I had them taken away. Or maybe it was both. But for current purposes, it doesn't really matter that much.

What matters is the end result. I was so damned lonely after I came here. Smile all day, try to please everyone, ignore that nagging, aching, gnawing loneliness. Then to your empty, undecorated room at night. Lay alone. Try to ignore that nagging, aching, gnawing loneliness… Lie on your stomach so that the cameras that you're sure they're using to keep tabs on you don't catch the tears that you can't help but shed.

Because whether you threw it away or had it ripped away doesn't matter. You are a lonely man, so lonely it leaves a sick, bitter taste in your mouth. Cry all night, smile all day.

Janet worries, wants to know if there's something we'd like to talk about, something keeping us awake at nights, maybe? Smile and tell her that you're just getting used to sleeping somewhere other than a barracks dorm full of other men and women, that the quiet takes getting used to. Janet still worries as she gives you a few sleeping pills to help tide you over, says that the offer to talk remains open. And this time your smile is genuine because you can tell that she means it.

All those tests, all that poking and prodding, that's her job. Worrying about you, though, that's because she accepts you as another human. So you smile and you thank her, and you mean it. Because one more person has accepted you. Sam's little smiles, Janet's offer to talk, Teal'C with his training sessions, General Hammond giving me a chance to prove myself. Colonel O'Neill, treating me like a member of his team instead of an interloper.

That was my better offer. Godhood or acceptance? No. Godhood or family. That's SG1's secret. They are a family. Sam, Teal'C, Colonel O'Neill, General Hammond, Janet. And now Jonas Quinn.

Now, don't get me wrong. I still use my smile as a defense-mechanism. I still cry myself to sleep most nights, but it's not because I'm lonely. Life's not perfect for me, not by a long-shot. I've seen some horrible things, helped to bring some horrible things about. My dreams are usually troubled, sometimes by memories, sometimes by imaginings of what might come to pass because of me. Or of what might have already, because of me, on my home planet.

My sister lives on a planet with a functional Naquardia bomb. If she still lives at all. If any of them still do.

So, yeah, my dreams are troubled and I still cry myself to sleep or wake up crying…

But I am not lonely and it makes all the difference in the world. Sam's smile starts my day, Teal'C's dry greeting, the Colonel's sarcasm that I sometimes think is as much a shield for him as my smile is for me… And I still talk to Janet a lot. It's not exactly therapy. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, yet, in spite of her promptings to the contrary. But it still helps, those quiet conversations over tea: in the infirmary, or in the commissary, or even in the gym.

I never had friends before, just colleagues and Doctor Kieran. But the men and women of this Command are not just coworkers. They live and die for each other on a daily basis, not because they have to but because they care. They are friends, family. My friends, my family.

So, yeah, I wanted to say yes to Nirrti's offer, but I didn't. Couldn't. I had a better offer…

The End