Let me go home
Why don't they let me go home
This is the worst trip I've ever been on

So hoist up the John B's sail
See how the mainsail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I wanna go home, let me go home
Why don't you let me go home

Sloop John B – Beach Boys

Story:

The Untold True Life Adventures of Jacob Carter, The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Let Me Go Home – Part I

Rating: PG – 13 Jake and Sel do curse a bit.

Synopsis:

Throw one cranky retired Air Force Major General by the name of Carter into a life-changing event, put an alien in his head that can not only read his mind but also is female to boot and watch what happens.

We join our heroine and her host when Jacob Carter, Major General, USAF Retired, is debating a critical issue worth of the new Liaison to the Tok'ra. It is approximately two to three weeks after he blended with Selmak and they are debating intense philosophical issues, full of the promise of the new Tok'ra – Tau'ri Alliance.

? Bold Italics ? Is when Selmak is thinking to Jacob so he can hear her.


A curtain rod and a curtain.

Yes. Perfect.

It would have to be one of those spring tension rods, so I could take it with me whenever we're on the run.

"General Carter?"

It could be also used as a weapon of defense. Throw the curtain at the bad snakeheads, let it entangle them, and then beat them over the head with the curtain rod.

? SNAKEHEADS?!?!?!?!?! ?

The resulting protest from his very own personal Headsnake regarding the offensive term in question sounded more like an indignant squawk than a hiss of protest. It had been only a few short weeks since he had … blended… with Selmak and his mind had become the equivalent of a mental milkshake full of memories, his, hers and theirs. He found that he was becoming used to her mental hullabaloo, and he even could tell her mood from the background noise in his head. Muttering meant she was thinking of something, silence foretold that she was thinking very deeply and humming foretold trouble as it meant that she felt… whimsical.

He would even swear that while the two of them were 'blending' that Selmak had crooned to him. It had been a comforting sound, a calming reassurance that she was with him, and that he wasn't going mad.

But now she was pissed. And God help him when Selmak was pissed, because she usually thwacked him inside the head mentally a few times. And she was a rather cranky headsnake. m

? SNAKEHEADS?!?!?!?!?! And now you're CALLING me a HEADSNAKE?!?!?!?

THWACK! THWACK!

Both sides of the cranium, however did she manage that?

Blame O'Neill for calling them that, because I can't stop thinking of the Tok'ra as that now, even though I am now a card-carrying member of the Rebellion of Good Snakeheads.

"Ah…. General Carter?"

The soft voice once again interrupted his thoughts, quietly requesting permission to disturb him during his meditation.

Jacob Carter nodded his head in silent assent for the voice to continue. He was sitting on his bed, in his room that looked exactly like the myriad of other cubicles formed from the tunnels, pondering deep thoughts on how he could obtain a curtain for his doorway.

But first things first.

Is it really a doorway if there isn't a door?

It was fine and dandy that the Tok'ra were one big happy family who didn't hide anything from one another, but Jacob Carter --- Air Force General, Retired, Earth Liaison to the Tok'ra--- wanted privacy. In the innermost corner of his mind, a in place that he didn't want to share with anyone, especially not a certain symbiote by the name of Selmak, he wondered if the real reason the Tok'ra were so communal was that it would be difficult for a spy to go unnoticed by the collective. Naturally, she jumped on that thought.

? Cordesh was extremely sociable and gregarious, unlike you. ?

But Jacob was a Tau'ri Tok'ra, a fact of which he was constantly reminded. The other Tok'ra with their softly dismissive tones often brushed aside his questions and suggestions, "You view things as a Tau'ri."

A Child of the first planet.

And as a child of the first planet, he had certain inalienable rights, pun intended.

The sacred privilege to pee in private without comments from the mental peanut gallery was top of the list.

The civil liberties of privacy and tranquility would be damn well appreciated also. His neighbors were exceptionally vocal during their nocturnal exercises, and the crystal tunnels echoed. Bad enough he had to hear it, but the sight of Garshaw and her boy toys had nearly traumatized him into a psychotic breakdown when he had taken the sixth left to his crystal cube, rather than the seventh.

Then they had caught their breaths long enough to invite him to join them.

Fortunately, Selmak had realized that he was just a hick kid from the sticks, who join the Air Force because he wanted to fly. His life up until now hadn't prepared him for the joys of Tok'ra sex in which the symbiote 'assisted' their host's gratification. To be honest, Jake was quite relieved that Selmak hadn't offered to demonstrate that particular technique on him. Even though his wife had died almost two decades previously, Jake still wore his wedding ring and honored his wedding vows even though death had parted him from Anne.

Selmak had thanked Garshaw for the offer, but explained that Jake was still recuperating, and did not wish to disappoint them with his body's current limitations. Selmak's snort of laughter echoed loudly in his head even as he remembered his utter embarrassment.

Once again, he wished he had someone to ask if he had done the right thing in agreeing to be her host.

Death might have been preferable.

Especially after the first few hours when he had realized that the Most Beloved, Ancient, Wisest and Opinionated of the Tok'ra had no previous experience in a male host.

? Next time, warn me that our bladder's going to explode! ?

I couldn't get a word in edgewise remember? You were too busy chewing the fat, and you decided to ignore me. Then you decided that you could handle it, even though it was pretty damn apparent to everyone that you're not familiar with my personal plumbing equipment. I'm just glad Martouf didn't offer to help you even though he looked like he wanted to assist.

Selmak gave a very off-color comment, and once again, Jacob wondered to whatever Deity-Pretending-Alien that might listening, why he had been blessed with her. Probably nobody else had wanted her, as they all knew her personality. Saroosh had seemed like such a nice, sweet, little old lady, how the hell had she put up with Selmak for almost two hundred years?

? HEY!!! ?

Or was it just mean that his karma had finally caught up with him? God knows nobody in his family liked him. Probably Mark would laugh his ass off if he ever knew that his father's new subconscious friend sounded exactly like his mother. Selmak's mental voice was even the same throaty alto.

Jacob, why can't you wipe your feet off before you come into the tunnels? I hate it when you track mud into the tunnels with your damn combat boots.

To calm himself, he decided to meditate on curtains and tune out his internal Jiminy Cricket. Nice, bright curtains that he could use to politely tell everyone to leave him alone.

What color though? I'm tired of Air Force Blue and the muted blue and brown colors of the tunnels... How about… scarlet? To match the Scarlet TT's that are emblazoned on my chest for Tau'ri Tok'ra. Maybe… Sunshine Yellow for the sun I no longer see. I wish they'd let me onto the surface just once.

How long must I stay confined in these tunnels? They don't trust me yet, as I'm not completely Tok'ra. How long will it take for me to earn their trust? Years, decades…centuries?

"Ah…. General Carter?"

He heard his name mentioned again, and his symbiote, Selmak, gave him a not so gentle mental prod. It was akin to having his brains hit by a blacksmith's hammer, and wincing, he rubbed his head. She gave him another mental rap on his cerebellum with her psychic knuckles when she heard his not-so-dear term of tacit endearment.

Jake was sure that it wasn't appropriate symbiotic behavior that she hit him mentally again; it had been an automatic response on his part to compare her to a certain four-legged female Terran animal.

? Answer him! ?

"Yes, Martouf?" Jacob answered, wondering what question Martouf was going to ask him, now.

It had taken him an hour to explain to Martouf that Jack O'Neill wasn't being malicious when he called him Marty. It was only through years of dealing with the Chiefs of Staff that he was able to lie with a straight face and assure Martouf that O'Neill was using a chummy diminutive of his name. Like Jake and Jacob, only Martouf and Marty.

Hopefully, it would annoy O'Neill when Marty… Martouf failed to rise to the bait.

His life was scarce of such small amusements.

? I don't know why he bothers with you, as you're downright surly. ?

If that ain't the pot calling the kettle black!

"Forgive me if I have disturbed you," Martouf said.

Jake waved his hand, mentally warning Selmak to get off her high symbiote and behave, as he wasn't capable of having two conversations at the same time. This mental conversation took place even while Martouf apologized at length for having disturbed Jacob. It wasn't that he didn't like Martouf, of all the Tok'ra, Martouf and Lantesh were the only ones that went out of their way to speak with him. But the boy's apologies were so damn long-winded…

The boy was older than he was, he reminded himself. Martouf just looked really good for his age, unlike Jake, who looked like ten miles of bad highway next to him, even though he was more than fifty years younger. Sometimes, he wondered if he was really schizophrenic, and that this entire adventure was nothing more than an exceptionally bizarre hallucination. Perhaps Selmak would disappear one day with an audible pop into a lithium-colored-haze.

Would that be a good thing?

Or a bad thing?

"Go ahead, shoot away," Jacob prompted generously when he realized that Martouf had finished talking and was expecting an appropriate response from the wildly inappropriate newest member of the Tok'ra Bunch.

He received an all too familiar blank look of incomprehension combined with a dawning look of sheer righteous indignation. No one could ever appear as blamelessly affronted as a Tok'ra could.

? Except for Jaffa

"I am not here to shoot you, General Carter." Martouf said indigently. "We are…"

"It's an expression, Martouf. It means, ask away," Jake said.


? I don't know why you didn't want to join him… for the Tok'ra Movie night, as you called it. It was considerate of him to ask, Jacob. ?

For a wonder, Selmak's mental tone was free of waspishness.

If anything, her voice reminded him of the times he had been peering at the mountains of paperwork on his desk, haphazardly placed and in imminent danger of causing an avalanche of forms. Those were the moments his wife, Anne, had tried to convince him that the paperwork would wait another day, and that he should play hooky. Thanks to his recent blending, he could remember her better than ever, including how much Sammy looked like her mother.

It was almost twenty years since Anne died. How close it was to the anniversary, he wasn't sure now due to how the Tok'ra counted time in the tunnel. When he had left Earth, the anniversary had been twenty-seven days away. But his sleeping schedule was skewed lately, with power naps and long stretches of wired insomnia his constant companions. Of the two, Jake hated the insomnia the most, as all he could do was sit in his cube and think or walk the tunnels until he was exhausted. Sitting and thinking usually wound him up more as he thought about Anne, Mark and Sammy, and walking the tunnels was a recipe for frustration. Right, left, counterclockwise, up and down all looked the same as the décor of the Tok'ra Tunnels was sheer, unrelenting geometric shapes.

Selmak tried to be a sounding board, but he wasn't comfortable talking with her. Other Tok'ra could simply think their conversations with their symbiotes while he spoke out loud to Selmak. He could perceive her mental voice now and then, and other times, she had to physically speak to him.

Hopefully, it would get easier.

God knows it couldn't get any worse.

Normally, if he was in the States, he always went to Anne's grave in the Cemetery of the Holy Innocents in Denver on the anniversary of her death. Due to his lymphoma, he hadn't expected to be among the living this year, so he had preplanned his ritual. Like always, there would be flowers and a mass at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament.

This time, like far too many other times in his past, he wouldn't be there physically.

Spiritually, he would be there.

If he only knew what Earth date today was.

Such deep thoughts naturally brought memories of her to his mind.Sometimes, Jacob thought that he was reliving his life as the sensations and the emotions were as intense as when they had first occurred.

Her blonde hair.

Her blue eyes.

The feel of her hand on his shoulder.

The scent of her perfume. He had first bought it for her when he had been stationed overseas and for whatever reason, she had decided that it was the only perfume she would ever wear. For that reason, the subtle smell of roses and honeysuckle always brought her forcefully to his mind. But he would never smell those fragrances again as he was permanently banished to the sterile confines of a Tok'ra tunnel.

Liaison to the Tok'ra, his bloody ass.

If he didn't know better, it was just a way to ship him off to a dead-end assignment where he would never be heard from again. But George wouldn't have done that to him intentionally, he knew.

It had seemed like an ideal assignment to be a liaison to a race technically superior to his own. Other cultures had always fascinated him, and he had picked up a smattering of languages through being stationed at various bases throughout his career. He was fluent in Italian and knew enough Japanese to get him in and out of trouble, but… the Tok'ra… they didn't seem to have a culture beyond their driving need to destroy the Goa'uld.

No music, no opera, no literature. Nothing.

They didn't even have coffee!

NO LIQUOR, for the love of God.

What they had… was…a cultural mishmash and an aversion for thinking 'outside the tunnel' if you will. After the first few days, he realized that the Tok'ra never listened to anything he said except when they found it offensive to their biased view of the universe. They had had a collective snit after their last discussion on how the Tau'ri were imperfect and limited as allies when he had reminded them that the Tau'ri had killed Ra, which was more than the Tok'ra had ever done in their two thousand years of hiding in tunnels.

And Selmak had responded, "My host is blunt, but correct."

That thought roused Selmak and she suggested a course of action.

? Jacob, you need to be diplomatic when dealing the Tok'ra. We're far older than you, and we deliberate about everything we do. You Tau'ri have such short lives, yet you accomplish so much in them. For now, just get to know us, Jacob. Talk to symbiote and host alike, so you can understand us. ?

Dear God, she sounded like his wife.

"Go play ball with the kids, Jake. Play with them and get to know them, Jake. It's been so long since you've been home, and they've grown like weeds."

That thought brought back a darker scene. He was viewing her body lying in a morgue tray, knowing that he had failed her. Her eyes closed, her mouth stilled forever more. Her silent cries of abandonment and her soundless accusations that he had done this to her through his inattention echoed through his heart and soul. Jake had noticed then that he couldn't smell her perfume. Instead all he could smell was the stink of blood and the bleach used to clean the morgue.

Reliving it, he could feel George Hammond's iron grip on his upper arms, as though George was trying to keep him standing upright. Jacob would only realize much later that he had bruises from George's grasp on his arms. At the time, he had been grateful for the physical pain, as he had focused on it, rather than the grief that was threatening to overwhelm him.

"Jacob, you've got to be strong. You need to go home and tell your children what happened."

He rubbed his head, trying not to recall what had happened next, but still hearing the words that conveyed his son's raw hatred. They were only words, and he had heard them over and over throughout the years. Each time he vowed that the words would lose their sting, but they never had. Instead, they had festered deeper and deeper into his heart.

It's your fault she's dead. You couldn't pick her up at the airport. No, she had to take a taxi because of you. Why couldn't it have been you!

And when I was dying, you had the last laugh, Mark, didn't you? You couldn't even be bothered to see your old man; you were probably practicing your dance steps to do the salsa on my grave.

Willing it not to hurt, it still did. And now it would hurt for decades, perhaps centuries to come, as Selmak had been reassured him repeatedly that he was in perfect health.

I had almost looked forward to dying, because that meant I wouldn't have to deal with how I royally screwed up my kids. My son won't talk to me because he wishes I would rot in hell, and my daughter's got a fixation on her CO who reminds me too much of a younger me. God, Sam, why O'Neill? Couldn't you pick someone like George? At least his kids talk to him.

Jake couldn't deal with a Tok'ra meet and greet right now; so instead, he decided it was time to go to sleep. He was tired, truly he was, but he wasn't sure if he was physically tired or just mentally exhausted. Perhaps his fatigue was a combination of both.

"Selmak, I'm tired, and I want to sleep. I'm still getting adjusted to everything and everyone," he protested when she gently questioned him about going to bed right after the evening meal.

? I know. I can feel your exhaustion, Jacob. Don't worry, your tiredness is only transitory and the phase should pass soon. ?

"Thank you, Selmak," he said dutifully.

Truly, Jacob did appreciate that she had saved his life, but now, his new environment was overwhelming him. So many strange faces, yet each was familiar to him. Not only did he know their names, he could recall every one of their previous physical hosts.

Now I've got new responsibilities and no doubt I'm gonna fuck everything up. The tensions among the Tok'ra are almost palpable, as each different faction have such extreme views on the Tau'ri. Most don't want anything to do with us, as we don't have anything to help them in their war against the Goa'uld. I need to bring this group together, and convince them that we are necessary allies.

Dear God, don't let me fuck this up as now the fate of humanity's new alliance with the Tok'ra is riding on my shoulders. Why me? Why not George? George could work a room, smooze and politic. He tried teaching that to me, but I lack the gene for people skills. I have no people skills whatsoever.

Jake kicked off his boots and neatly put them near the bed. He was about to change into his sleeping robe, when he stopped. He knew that the others worried about Selmak's new Chosen, as Jacob was already gaining a reputation for being solitary. Tok'ra held no secrets from one another, yet he knew that the Tok'ra gossiped about how Selmak's Tau'ri host showered alone and slept alone.

To give her credit, Selmak respected his need for privacy. After all, she had not shared her memories with Jacob except for her favorite memories of Saroosh. He had respected that, and allowed her the right to mourn in private. Selmak had never commented on his obsessing and reliving his past mistakes with his family.

The worse criticism he had ever gotten from her had been a softly expressive, "Jacob, you wrong yourself."


Her host was thinking of his family again. She disliked it when he did that, because Jacob's mood would darken into a deep depression and fill his dreams with nightmares.

In all honesty, Selmak was delighted with her new host. He amused her! It was acceptable to admit that, if only to herself. He had enlivened the tunnels considerably in the three weeks since he had blended with her. Perhaps the Tok'ra were becoming too tunnel bound and insular, Selmak decided. He had such a unique viewpoint on things.

Or perhaps, his personality was rubbing off on hers.

But for the other Tok'ra, Jake Carter was like a fireball in their midst. He alternately horrified and shocked them and sometimes did both at the very same time, just by being himself. Jake Carter had horrified the Tok'ra collective as he had interrupted his symbiote on more than one occasion when she was talking. Tunnel rumors had even reported (and truthfully so!) that he had told her to shut up and to let him have control of his body.

Among the Tok'ra, potential hosts were trained for years. They were familiar with the peculiarities of two souls, one body before they blended. In spite of the training, there were the occasional matches that weren't successful. Yet, this Tau'ri Tok'ra had blindly leapt into this experience due to his terrible fear of being tied to machines, and having his suffering prolonged.

Selmak thought that showed that her Tau'ri, her Jacob was a warrior.

But he was proud, too damn proud.

He had wanted his death to be on his terms; so he had left the hospital on what he had known would be his final mission. As always, his damnable, insurmountable pride had continued to cause problems between his daughter and him. Viewing the scene through Jacob's eyes, Selmak saw how much Samantha had wanted to help her father. He had taught her to tie her shoelaces when she was younger, and now, the circle was returning to the beginning, where she would lace his feet into the heavy military boots. His daughter had wanted to do anything, no matter how small, to help him because she loved her father.

Sam had even offered to help him change from the hospital gowns into fatigues, and he had told her, "No."

Could he not see that her acts were based on love?

Stupid, proud Tau'ri wouldn't take his daughter's help, but yet, he had asked George Hammond for help getting dressed. George had been the one to tightly lace the boots, and button Jacob's shirt. And when Jacob had started vomiting due to his chemotherapy, Hammond grabbed a bucket and brusquely ordered Samantha out of the room. Hammond had been the one to wipe Jacob's face with a wet cloth.

Why Hammond? Why not his daughter?

His stomach had been churning from his voyage in the Stargate combined with his body's weakness due to his recent bouts of chemotherapy and yet he had refused his daughter's request to lean on her for support. He would allow her to grab his arm, and nothing more. Jacob Carter had fallen to his knees; had been unable to stand due to the shifting sands and only then had he accepted her help. Only Samantha Carter's and Jack O'Neill's fast reflexes had prevented him from taking a header.

Why not his family? Why did he not allow them to sustain him? For what reasons was there that unspeakable pain when he thought of them?

Selmak pondered again on what Jacob had been thinking when he had kissed Saroosh.

For those thou dost overthrow, die not, nor yet canst though kill me.

That simple line had left her ill at ease, wracked with an unfamiliar sense of anxiety. What had it meant? Why did her new host believe that she would overwhelm his personality? Why the final thought of defiance? Did he judge her as a parasite?

It taken careful searching of his memory, but she had found those haunting words. It was a poem. Strange, how the Tau'ri found power and emotions in… words. Jacob had been terrified, but he had been determined to keep his composure in front of the others. Death comes to everyone, he had been reminding himself. It was now time to be a brave solider.

Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,

For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

That was her new mind mate.

Gruff, surly, assertive, demanding and caustic were the first words she'd used to explain him to the other Tok'ra, but some had used those very words to describe her. And now he was destined to live a life that was no longer his completely.

But he was trying; she gave him credit for that. He was trying his damndest, though she knew the thought of losing control over his body frightened him. By losing control over his body, he feared that might lose control over the emotional walls that he had barricaded himself behind.

There were far too many years of Jacob building emotional walls between his loved ones and him. He believed he was going to screw everything up, because he always did, and no matter how hard he tried, his best intentions had always ended with his loved ones furious at him. So, in self-defense, he had started building walls to hide from the pain. Selmak could sense how his internal tension was building and that Jake's emotional armor was riddled with fissures from the pressure he was inflicting on himself.

Yet his refusal to address his heart wounds were undermining his emotional health, and he needed to be well adjusted emotionally and mentally to deal with all the current changes he was facing. Physically, emotionally and mentally, he was looming toward a breakdown of epic proportions. It wouldn't be now, but several years in the future; it would be an almost nuclear meltdown.

They had time together before it happened and Selmak had the patience necessary to wait. Jake wanted things done a certain way because it gave him a sense of control over his current situations. Selmak played along because she hoped that he'd gradually learn to trust her, and she could nudge him into changing. For example, the two of them sniped and growled at each other because that's how Jacob wanted it.

Because he didn't envisage that he deserved to be treated with respect and kindness and because… he simply didn't believe that he was capable of acting any better.

The most ancient and wise Selmak was genderless, but it amused her greatly that her new soul mate believed her female because she could read his mind.

"On my planet, only women are capable of reading minds, Selmak," he had informed her.

The truth of the matter was horribly mundane. She simply couldn't block him out. Every reflection, each nuance and every flavor of his thoughts she heard and felt as clearly as if he had vocalized them. Perhaps, it was because she was too fond of him as he reminded her of Jeralt, Jana's love who had been a host for her deceased mate, Norak. Jeralt had been a real pain in the ass, but he had possessed a good soul.

One day, she'd mention her former host, Jana, to him, and the horrible day Selmak-Jana had been ambushed while exiting the Chappa'ai. But not now, as Saroosh's death had reopened the wound that Jana's death had caused. Some traumatic memories never fade, including the death of one's host, and her current host had enough problems without grieving for a woman he had never met and who was long dead in his way of thinking, especially when he was mourning his own losses.

? Jana, I think you'd like him. He reminds me of Jerry. All sound and bluster, but a good heart. ?

Perhaps, with Jacob, she'd tolerate using the Chappai'ai alone again. Saroosh had understood far too well why Selmak never used the gates unaccompanied and had never forced her host to travel alone. Somehow Selmak doubted that Jacob would indulge her aversion to solitary travel through the gate. He never cut himself any slack, so he'd expect the same from her.

But for now, the first thing she wanted to do was set things right between his daughter and him. Jake's thoughts about his family were constantly filling his mind. They were thoughts of such negativity and distortion that Selmak mentally winced whenever she sensed him thinking about his family. Did he really believe that he had been such a lousy father? Why did he blame himself on how he and his children were estranged from each other? It wasn't only because he had been such a hard ass. Each had played a part in creating the gap between father and child.

Yet, there were the surprising moments, when he didn't think about this family. During those moments, he was unexpectedly compassionate, asking her questions about Saroosh because he had sensed that Selmak wanted to talk to someone… anyone…even him, about her former host.

Even him…why such a self-deprecating thought, Jacob?

Tactless. Exasperating. Opinionated. Caustic. Excessively Self-critical.

Yet surprisingly empathetic during the quieter moments.

She desired to start forming the bond with him, and whenever she tried, they were constantly interrupted.

The one night she had been convinced that the two of them were making progress and that Jake was beginning to trust her, they had returned to their quarters to find a naked Anise in their bed wanting to discuss the sex habits of the Tau'ri. That blatant seduction attempt had disturbed Jake deeply, as he realized that Anise viewed him only as an oddity and freak, and Selmak still cursed Anise for her randiness.

"Do you want to use the body tonight?" he asked softly in a voice that belied how much that thought still unnerved him.

? Yes. I'd like to use our bodies tonight. ? Selmak informed him, gently stressing the plural possessive. ? Garshaw and Lantesh wish to speak with me. ?

"Do I need to be present?" He sighed.

? No. You can sleep and I'll handle everything. I'll only wake you if it's absolutely necessary. Lie down, Jacob, and go to sleep. ?

"Thank you."

Her host laid down on the bed, and he rolled onto to his side. Easily, Selmak adjusted his body chemistry so Jacob was soon drowsy.

"Sel?" he whispered.

? Yes? ?

"That night with Garshaw…" her host's voice slowed, and she could taste his awkwardness.

? Shhhh… go to sleep, Jacob. ?

"If you had wanted to stay, I would have given you control…" Jacob admitted softly. "The two of us have got to share this battered body of mine, and I need to learn to handle it with a modicum of grace. But never with Anise, I ask for only that much from you."

? I had no desire to stay with Garshaw, and I would never dishonor you by sporting with Anise. ?

Within minutes, Jacob was dreaming again. Since it was several hours before she was due to meet with Lantesh and Garshan, Selmak carefully slipped into her host's dreaming state, hoping that she'd learn more about him.


Her host was physically much younger, and there was a lightness in his spirit that surprised her. For this Jacob, life was still an adventure, and he hadn't developed his trademark sarcasms as a method of emotional self-defense. It wasn't to say that he didn't have his temper, as Jake let loose a string of obscenities that earned a great deal of laughter and a round of applause from his fellow pilots.

"Damn jumpsuits," he swore. "I hate these zippers."

Briefly he touched the pictures of his family that were displayed on the inside of his locker door. Anne, Mark, Samantha. It was his superstition, to touch each photo before he left Earth and flew off into the skies in his fighter jet. Doing so would bring him back home to them safe and sound, and he never failed to do so. He also had a picture of them in one of his flight suit pockets, and he always touched the pocket immediately after he buckled himself into the seat of his jet. The ritual completed, he slammed the locker shut with a loud clank.

"Captain Carter," drawled his superior. "If you're finished cursing out your zipper, I'd like to introduce you to someone."

He peeled off a perfect salute, and General Mahoney easily returned it. Next to him was a redheaded male who wore the insignia of an Air Force Lieutenant.

"This is Lieutenant Hammond, he's new to Eglin. Transferred in from Cheyenne Mountain. I'm replacing Shaughnessy with him, so Hammond will be with you."

Hammond again. Why Hammond?


"George, watch out for Johnson; he's got a tendency to get too close to comfort."

For his warning, Jake received a raised fist from Hammond who was too busy keeping an eye on his dials and monitors to talk much.

Seems like a decent guy. Quiet, though. He didn't kick the tires and light the fires, which I appreciated. He actually did a full physical inspection of the plane and found those two minor problems. Very, very methodical. As though he's afraid of screwing up again. Wasn't there some scuttlebutt about a major Cheyenne Mountain shakeup a few weeks ago? Something about aliens or Russian Spies?

Jacob loved flying, no perhaps loved was too weak a term. It was not only the reason he had decided to join the Air Force. It was the end all and be all of his existence.

What would it be like to go to the moon?

He had watched the moon landing with his kids. His son hadn't cared, but his daughter had been fascinated.

"See Sammy? Up there in the sky? There are people, astronauts, on the moon. Maybe when you're my age, we'll have a city up there, and you can fly back and forth to the moon."

Jake noticed an abnormality on his gages, and he was about to mention it to George when George interrupted him.

"I'm red on idiot lights 4, 5, 6." That was said in a Texas twang, as though George were commenting on the weather.

Keeps his cool. Thank God. Johnson would be screaming for his mommy right now.

"Confirming," Jake answered, as he briefly touched the pocket with the photo of his family for luck. "I've lost radio contact with the Base."

In his dream, time went slower than it had in real life. Each choice made to correct the condition of the airplane failed and the decision was made to eject from the plane. Keeping an eye out for George's parachute after he had punched out, Jake breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it. Maybe the two of 'em would be able to join the Martin-Baker Fan Club after all. It was the first time he had ejected from a plane, and hopefully, it would his last. But, he'd forever have a deep appreciation for his Martin-Baker ejection seat.

His hand rested on the pocket that housed the pictures of his family.

Let me make it back to them.

His landing was rough, and he took the impact hard on his right foot. It gave out from underneath him with a sickening crack, and he bit off his scream. Well, he tried, but he wasn't successful.


Foot throbbing to the rhythm of his pulse, he managed hop on his good foot until he found George. Fortunately, he was only a hundred or so yards away from him, as it took him a good twenty minutes to get to where George was. He yelled a few times for George, and finally got a moan for a response. By the time he hobbled over to him, George had taken off his helmet. Jake whistled in admiration when he got close enough to see him as George had a beautiful black eye developing which contrasted greatly with the pallor of his skin and his fiery red hair.

"Where's the plane?" George asked in a voice that sounded like he had been drinking hard liquor through a funnel for the last four days straight.

"You sent it back to the taxpayers," Jake answered.

It was the nicest way of saying that they'd be picking up pieces of the aircraft until Doomsday.

"Fuck," George drawled slowly. "First Cheyenne, now this. My career is going to be completely fucked up from getting mixed up with all you Captain Carters. I'm never making General at this rate."

"Can you stand, George?" Jake asked, wondering where the hell that last comment had come from. George would make General right after he did, which was probably in the year 2097.

"Yeah, but where's the goddamn plane?" George asked again.

Shit. No wonder George was talking crazy. He had a concussion, which was no surprise to Jake considering that he just noticed a branch that was neatly cracked in half. George must have hit it on the way down. Between the two of them, Jake decided that it would take them about six months to walk to civilization. Best thing to do was just sit down and hope that somebody was looking for them.

"It's in a hundred billion pieces, George," Jake informed him, as he slowly slid down a tree trunk.

Somehow, he managed not to scream when he bent his fractured ankle slightly while straightening his leg out.

"My career is just so fucked," George repeated sagely but wisely leaving out that every Captain Carter he met seemed to be intent on sabotaging his career and his belief that he was General-material.

George's head seemed to clear slightly or else he decided to stop asking about the plane, afraid of the obvious answer, because it was pretty noticeable that they weren't sitting next to it.

"Your ankle, sir…" George pointed out to Jake helpfully.

Perhaps the red-headed George wasn't being helpful, but vindictive, because the minute he mentioned Jake's ankle, Jake realized that it felt like there were a hundred thousand billions pieces of his ankle being held together by his tightly laced boot. Up until then, it had been a distant, fiery pain that he had ignored.

"Is pointing in the wrong direction, I know. I'm trying not to even think about it," Jake snapped.

Silence reigned between the two men, until George turned a whiter shade of pale.

"I think I'm gonna throw up," George said, even as he proceed to spew up everything he had ever thought of eating in his twenty odd years of living.

Crawling carefully over to where George was power puking Jake tried to offer him some physical support as the other man was swaying on his hands and knees. He continued to hold the other man up while George persisted in retching.

"You've got a concussion, George. Are your ears ringing?"

"Yes, sir," George drawled in between heaves.

"Well, when you decide to stop throwing up last year's Christmas dinner, let's move to a fresher location. I'm pretty sure that they're looking for us," Jake said glibly.

The two of them finally stood up with many a muffled curse, and Jake was leaning heavily on George. If he didn't put any weight on his ankle, and if he didn't lean too hard on George, they could probably move slightly faster than an ancient turtle stuck in a vat of molasses.

"Thanks," George said shortly.

"No problem, just remember to help me out when I'm that green about the gills," Jake laughed.

"Deal."

The two men became friends that day while they waited for the search and rescue team to find them. They were similar in ages and attitude and both of them carried pictures of their families with them. For some reason, George seemed amused that Jake's daughter was named Samantha and he asked if Jake thought she'd follow him into an Air Force career.

After seeing that dream, Selmak gently 'pushed' Jake's subconscious into a deep, restful sleep, so she could take control of the body. There was much work that had to be done before she met with Lantesh and Garshaw.

? My host trusts him, perhaps this General Hammond could help? ?


Later that night, Garshaw attempted to dance around the subject, but Selmak heard her concern. Jacob was not acting appropriately for a host. More and more Selmak found herself regretfully agreeing with Garshaw as Garshaw detailed point by point her fears.

"Are you two talking?" Garshaw questioned.

No, Selmak answered in her head, even while she shook her head in answer. We dance around subjects too painful for the two of us to mention. He won't mention his wife and son, and I can't bring up Jana, Norak, Jerry and Saroosh to him. Jacob doesn't know why the thought of Gate Travel petrifies me, and why I've changed from that brash Tok'ra insurgent that always volunteered for the most dangerous of assignments to one who cringes when she hears the wormhole of the Chappa'ai. He's never shared how it felt to drag our body to the Chappa'ai inch by inch and know that your beloved host is dying. He doesn't know what it was like for me to lose Jerry and Norak. We're both too wrapped up in our personal griefs to share them with someone else.

"Can you two meditate and align your souls for communion?" Garshaw inquired intently. "Is he even capable of it?"

Alignment of the souls was the end all and be all of the blending. It meant that the bond between host and symbiote had been formed, and that the two souls had developed an understanding between themselves.

Selmak had tried to teach Jacob how to align their souls. He had tried to mediate repeatedly into a deep trance, but his personal demons always disrupted his attempts. Once it had been Annie, the next few times it had been thoughts of his children.

He's too stressed to mediate, Selmak almost protested out loud, even though she knew that to be the worse thing to say. The pressure on him is growing in intensity, and he will crack.

Let him be! Can you not see that you're causing him more anxiety? She thought loudly.

At her mental mutterings, she felt Jacob rouse in her mind.

"Problems, Sel?"

His mental voice was sleepy, and she could tell that he was the state of half-dream and half-waking. Tomorrow, he wouldn't remember this conversation.

Hopefully.

Carefully, using her softest and gentlest of tones, she lied to her host.

? No. Everything's fine. Go back to sleep, Jacob. I'm sorry that I disturbed you. ?

"Are they annoyed with me because I'm not acting like a proper Tok'ra host? I can't get the knack of mediating to 'align our souls'. I know you want me to learn… but I just can't do it. I swear to you, I'm trying… I really, really am."

? Shhhh… Jacob… go back to sleep. ?

"You probably should try to get a refund on this host of yours. Too many miles, too much mental baggage. You warrant a nice, shiny new host of your own, Sel. Not this battered old soul. As the oldest and wisest of the Tok'ra, you deserve better."

? I don't deserve better. I'm quite pleased with you, Jacob. Believe me. Now go to sleep. ?

He struggled to wake, and she crooned softly to him a lullaby of sorts. The soft melody was useful in dealing with Jacob, as she could mesmerize him into a deep sleep when his inner turmoil grew.

Her silence seemed to worry Garshaw even more, and before long, there were other council members in attendance. To her horror, she realized that all of them were in opposition to her and her host.

"We are concerned and disturbed, as your host is not adjusting to us. You are changing, Selmak, due to his influence. We are deeply concerned about the ramifications of your blending with the Tau'ri."

Then came the darkest threat.

"We could… find you… another host."

Inwardly, where no one could see, she trembled at that threat. They would take her Jacob forcibly from her and they would damage him in the process. It was an action that was not taken lightly by the council, but they were growing concerned about Selmak and her host.

She needed time, more time than she could get from her fellow Tok'ra. Finally, she decided to risk her greatest fear for her host.

Gate travel.

And she'd have to be by herself, as she didn't want anyone else involved with Jacob. There was far too much pressure on him now, self-imposed and otherwise, and she needed to get him home. She had been a fool, thinking that she could be patient with Jacob, and that the bond would form.

Too many distractions here in the tunnels. Too many prying eyes. Too much pressure on her and him.

Away from the Tok'ra, he'd be fine.

Away from Anise, he'd be fine.

Perhaps?

Or perhaps, she might need to take a very radical step and for that Selmak didn't want any of her fellow Tok'ra around.

I think I'm in over my snakehead with him. He has so much emotional pain and he won't express it, plus now he thinks that he's disappointing me because he can't act like a Tok'ra. If I can get him back to his home world, it will be better for him. Jacob will have less stress, and I'll decide what to do from there. If his mental health requires it, I'll even repudiate him, as long as his body can survive without me. I'll need his medical records, and I'll have to work on separating us. I am not a Goa'uld, I will not keep him as a reluctant host. If it's even necessary... hell… if it's even possible, I didn't lie when I told him that it could kill us to separate us. But I will die before I allow any to injure my Tau'ri. If I can be the one to separate us, Jacob will not be injured.

"I would like to take Jacob home to his planet. We will continue our blending there, where it is safe and quiet." Selmak suggested, keeping her darkest thoughts to herself. "We have not been able to form a cohesive bond due to constant disruptions. It takes time to develop a relationship with your host."

"Ah, Anise and Freya again?" Lantesh asked dryly. "I am glad that Martouf won't even look at them, else I'd might find them in our bed."

Selmak's eyes flashed, "If they do not stop showing up whenever Jacob's trying to shower, I might have to bitch-slap them."

Lantesh the irrepressible roared his approval. "You are picking up these interesting colloquial sayings from your host, Selmak. Martouf is trying very hard to learn Jacob's vernacular. He practices constantly, but is not brave enough to use them with Jacob."

Garshaw gave them both the evil eye, and while Lantesh pretended to settle down into respectable behavior, Selmak refused to bend. She was the oldest and wisest of the Tok'ra, and she bowed to no one.

"No, you can not leave," Garshaw informed Selmak. "And that is final. It is unsafe, and we do not know how far the traitors have infiltrated us."

Regally, Garshaw left the room along with the other council members, and Selmak reached for Martouf's hand.

"I need to speak with both of you," she said softly. "Will you hear me?"

"Yes," Lantesh said. "But not here."

"It must be here for Garshaw will know if we are seen together outside of this room. If we stay here, she will believe that I am sulking, and that you, dear friends, are humoring me."


Lantesh quickly explained the situation to Martouf, who saw to the crux of the problem.

"He has obligations on his home world, and he does not feel that he's discharged them. Until Jacob's debts are satisfied, he will not truly be one of us. Garshaw is wrong, he must be allowed to return," Martouf decided.

Martouf's head bowed, and then Lantesh's eyes stared at Selmak.

"You see why I chose him," Lantesh commented. "There were others from which to choose, but none as perceptive as he. Martouf promised Samantha Carter than he would watch over her father, and I can do no less. He must be allowed to return, and we would be honored to assist. In fact, I will travel with you to his home world."

"No," Selmak mumbled. "I… must travel alone for this."

Martouf and Lantesh nodded their appreciation of her decision.

"Is it that serious that you risk going alone?" Lantesh asked.

Wisely, she didn't answer. Instead, she pushed a small object toward Martouf. It had taken her hours to create it from the wisps of Jacob's memories and she hoped Hammond would recognize it.

"Take this to the Chappa'ai, throw it into the wormhole and send it to his planet. Await a response, and bring it back to me," Selmak said.

"What is it?" Martouf questioned his puzzlement obvious in his tone as he examined the object.

"It's a paper airplane. Apparently, it's a running joke between Jacob and one of the officers at their Stargate and it has something to do with a crashed plane. I do not claim to understand it, but General Hammond will know it's from Jacob."

"Naturally, we will take pains to prevent them from gaining the location of our base," Lantesh said. "While I trust your host and his daughter, the others, I worry about."

Selmak nodded her head, and thanked them for the understanding.


"Unscheduled off-world activation," announced Sergeant Davis in a tense voice. "Coordinates are blacked out and none of the teams have advised that they are coming back early.

The tension began to build even as the Stargate's titanium iris closed with a quick gesture from General Hammond. As was standard procedures for incoming wormholes, the Marines ran into the gate room to defend the Stargate and Earth from intruders.

Sergeant Davis turned to face General Hammond, relief visible on his face. "It's the Tok'ra."

"Open the iris," commanded Hammond.

Perhaps it's Jacob. He'll be disappointed that his daughter isn't here. But she's on PX-JB87 right now.

With an audible hiccup the wormhole disengaged even before the paper airplane landed softly on the steel ramp. General Hammond debated about half a second about calling a team in to disinfect it, but then he realized that the paper airplane looked very familiar. George then laughed as he walked up the metal ramp toward the gate. His amusement earned a surprised look from a female Marine.

It was a faithful rendition of an F-4 Phantom II, the very model he had ejected from some thirty year earlier. There was only one man in all the universes who had access to a Stargate and who would know why Hammond held a soft spot in his heart for that particular model.

Carefully, he bent over and picked the plane up, knowing that it was a personal message for him from an old friend.

"Stand down people," he ordered. "Apparently, we've just got a mail delivery from the Tok'ra."


George went to his office, ignoring everyone's blatant curiosity about his Tok'ra-gram. He carefully unfolded the airplane to discover that a sealed note with his name on it was attached to the plane. The note was written in an angular handwriting that wasn't Jake's distinctive scrawl.

Honorable Major General Hammond.

United States Air Force

Earth

Greetings.

I would be deeply privileged to formally make your acquaintance. I feel that it is of the utmost importance that we meet before long, as we both share a strong connection with our venerated comrade. Respectfully, I would appeal to you that you keep this request confidential as I feel that our mutual friend is in dire need of a tête-à-tête.

As you may recall, there is a certain anniversary within the next week that weighs on his mind heavily. It would do him well not to be alone during this time. As much as it pains me to admit, our bond has not developed as strongly and as quickly as I had hoped.

Please send a message through the Chappa'ai to the following coordinates in thirty minutes of your time if you agree to our summit. I trust you understand why this method of communication is necessary.

Respectfully;

SELMAK

George thought back, wondering about Selmak's cryptic message.

"Has it been twenty years since Anne died?" he asked himself. "Has it been that long?"


George Hammond stood on the ramp leading to the Stargate. He felt ridiculous; he would admit that to only himself, grateful that Jack O'Neill's trademarked mouth wasn't anywhere near Earth. What would O'Neill say to see his commanding officer in dress blues, pitching a baseball through the Stargate?

"By George, I think he's cracked."

"Outgoing wormhole. Sending theTok'ra signal," blared overhead. Bad enough Davis and Siler had to witness this, but he knew how Marines gossiped.

The stable wormhole formed, and George imagined himself thirty years younger. Taking the ball carefully, he gripped it with his index and middle fingers spread wide apart. He threw it hard, hoping that he'd at least get it over the plate and into the vortex.

Damn it, Selmak, if you had only given me a few more minutes, I could have found something to write on besides a baseball that I impounded from a Marine. But when Jake sees it, he'll know it's from me. A memento of all our kids' damn Little Leagues Games and piano recitals that we missed because we were on the opposite side of the world, fighting so our kids could grow up safe, ride bicycles and play baseball.

To his delight, his pitch was a perfect example of a splint fingered fastball. It was only through years of self-discipline did he prevent himself from pumping his arm in victory.

"Yee ha!" he thought to himself. "I've still got it."

He laughed to himself as he walked off the ramp. No doubt everyone in Cheyenne Mountain had heard about his Tok'ra gram, and would soon gossip about him pitching fastballs into the vortex. It would do everyone a world of good, as George knew that they all thought he was a hard ass. Now he had just added a new adjective.

Eccentric.

That meant everyone would be behaving for the next few months, as they weren't sure what exactly he'd do to them if they screwed up. Fear was a wonderful thing in subordinates. He could take a week or two of his accrued leave, as everyone was going to be on his or her best behavior, even a certain Jack O'Neill.

He turned and glared at Sgt. Siler, who instinctively took a step back.

"We're having company and I expect this base to be spotless, is that understood? In fact, I expect the entire mountain to be spotless, even if that means you have to take a vacuum and do the entire mountain yourself, Sgt."


Jacob woke up slowly, and he mumbled a sleepy "Good Morning" to the snake in his head. He stretched slowly, wondering what time it was.

? Good Morning, Jacob. Did you sleep well? ?

"Not really, I'm afraid," Jacob growled. "What I would do for a cup of coffee."

? My apologies. My meeting with Garshan and Lantesh ran later than expected. Lantesh can be quite verbose when given the chance. It is still early in the morning, why do you not go back to sleep? As for the coffee, I am sorry that we do not have any. ?

"Sel," her host questioned. "Do you know why my dreams are so vivid? And why am I so tired? It's not the lymphoma is it? Not that I'm doubting your ability to heal me, it just has a tendency of recurrences."

Selmak sent him a wave of mental reassurance.

? There is a slight change in your blood chemistry when we blended. The elevations will fade in time. As for your exhaustion, I believe it is due to the chemotherapy and radiation treatments you endured. They are brutal and severe treatments, Jacob. ?

"Beats the alternative, Selmak. Though it's a shame you won't do anything about my hairline," Jacob laughed.

? I fail to understand the fascination with hair. ?

"Spoken by a snake who doesn't have any," Jacob interrupted.

? I do not like that term. As I was saying, before someone interrupted me, I don't understand this enthrallment with hair. Lantesh always commented on how long Rosha and Martouf took to fix their hair. ?

"It's part of the mating rituals, Sel."

? Ah. Predestined patterns hard coded in their genes then. Much like yours? ?

"I think someone just made a joke about my hairline," her host mumbled as he fell asleep again.


Staring at the wall, hearing the words echo in his head over and over again, Jake lost track of time.

Lymphoma. Aggressive. Best get your affairs together, General. Is there someone I should call? Chemotherapy. Radiation. Stem Cell. Just buying time. Hospice. Power of Attorney. Dying.

Jake laughed bitterly, trying to prevent the damning tears from falling from his eyes. "Maybe I'll call Mark. Hey Markie, good news, your father's dying. Aren't you happy?"

Unexpectedly, the phone rang. Trying to regain his composure, he let it ring until the answering machine picked up. He always screened his phone calls though only telemarketers called him.

Well that wasn't true. Every second Sunday night, faithfully, his daughter called him, and they had their mandatory familial ten-minute conversation full of awkward silences and small talk in which they deliberately said nothing that might offend the other. And well, sometimes he did hear from an old friend.

"Jacob! It's George! Where are you? Are you out wasting more taxpayers' money and crashing another plane? You'd think by now you're old enough not to scratch the paintjob. Give me a call. Your daughter's getting an award from the President. Yes, Jake, you heard me right, Sam's getting her award from the President of the U. S. of A.! You should be there. I know it would mean a lot to her."

He grabbed the phone and in his haste he nearly dropped it.

"George, it's Jake. What's this about Sammy? How the hell is she getting that award? How can she risk her life while analyzing deep space telemetry? Did you guys get a massive collective paper cut?"

George roared and the two of them agreed to meet.

"Remember, it's a surprise. Don't tell your daughter that I called you," George reminded him.

"Just like you never tell her that I call you to find out how she's doing," Jacob retorted.


Using a skillful touch, Selmak continued to direct Jake's dreams about his daughter. Samantha Carter was being awarded a high honor among her people, yet it had been Hammond who had invited Jacob to the ceremony. It had hurt her host that his own daughter didn't give him the news of her award, Selmak knew, and then words were spoken on both sides that lingered and wounded. Sam had turned down his assistance to join… NASA, and Jake had been upset.

Damn it, Sammy. Couldn't once you let me do something for you? You hated anything that smelled of nepotism, hated running into my contemporaries that knew you as Jake's daughter, but couldn't you have accepted my help – just once? Wouldn't it have been worth it? To be in space? Or do you hate me so much that you don't want your fondest wish come true because I helped?

I was hoping to stick around long enough to see you become an astronaut. Sweetheart, I don't care what it is you do in that mountain, nothing in the world can live up to the chance to actually go into space. Not for you - it's something you're wanted your whole life. And I admit it; I want to see you fulfill your life's dreams before I die. Is that so goddamn bad?

He had walked away from his daughter, wondering why he couldn't do anything right in reference to his family, when he walked past George. He didn't even see his old friend as his stomach was rebelling. Oh yeah, it seemed like a bright idea, have your insides zapped with chemo, and then go see your daughter get an award from the President. Recklessly, he thought he would be safe by not eating anything and sucking on the ice cubes from his water.

He was such a two star idiot for coming.

"Jacob, your color's horrible, sit down," George ordered.

"Can't," Jake mumbled. "Gonna spew."

George grabbed him and manhandled him through a door. Hammond then slammed it shut, and pushed Jake into a stall. Jake came out after a long while in which he had thrown up his toes and assorted internal organs, and George handed him a damp handkerchief.

"What's a matter? You got the flu? I haven't seen you throw up like that even when you were hung over. I thought you didn't look good when we talked earlier."

He wasn't going to tell George. He wasn't, he really truly wasn't; yet his mouth opened up and he heard himself say, "Radiation and chemo will make you puke like there's no tomorrow."

He didn't look at George when he said that, instead he was instinctively straightening out his dress blues, making sure that he was outwardly presentable. Peering at the bathroom mirror, he searched his uniform for any suspicious looking spots. After he finished his mental inspection, he washed his hands. Only then did he turn to face George, his emotional barriers firmly in place.

"Shiiiiit," was all George said, but the laconic George had said the only word that adequately described the entire situation.

"On the positive side, it means that soon you'll have more hair than I do," Jake interjected, trying and failing at breaking the mood. "I also finished the 'vette finally. Paid some guy to finish it for me because it didn't look like I could finish it before I shuffled off my mortal coil."

"You and that damn Corvette, Jake. You've been working on it for what, twenty years?"

"Cheaper than therapy," Jake retorted as bantering with George seemed to settle his stomach, or else it just got his mind away from the fact that the chemo was roiling in his blood. "Whenever I got stressed, I just went out to the garage and worked on the 'vette. Look, I'll tell you what. When I finish moving, I'll pick you up at work and take you out for a spin in 'vette. We'll put the top down, and you can feel the wind in your hair."

That was said with an evil grin and a deliberate look at George's shiny dome. Jake always ribbed George about his hairline, as Jake had slightly more hair than George.

"You're moving?" George questioned.

"To Colorado Springs," Jake admitted.

"Is it that bad?" George's surprise was evident in his question.

"I've got an apartment, I've just got to finish moving in," Jacob said, ignoring George's question. "I've sold most of my stuff and the most of the rest is inheritables and will be in storage."

"Don't get an apartment, stay at my house," George insisted. "I've got plenty of room, and the grandkids don't come over that often."

"George," Jacob paused. "It's gonna be bad, George. I couldn't put you through it. But when I get to Colorado, we'll have lunch, and if you don't mind, I want you to be my power of Attorney. Healthcare proxy, that stuff. "

That earned a narrowing of the eyes from General Hammond. Grown sergeants had trembled at that look and more than a few airman had broken from the pressure of that icy blue gaze.

"I'm glad I don't work for you if you glare at people like that," Jacob said mildly. "I felt like someone just dropped a cooler full of ice in my drawers just now. Where did you learn to glare like that?"

"Jacob, do your kids know?" George asked quietly, his voice full of concern.

"Of course," Jacob answered promptly, looking properly indignant.

The answer was a little too quick for George, as he knew Jacob. He knew him very well indeed.

"Let me guess, you told Captain Carter about ten minutes ago? And you haven't mentioned it to Mark." George's tone conveyed his disapproval. "Why, Jacob? Why?"

"You are a very lucky man, George, your family talks to each other. In my case, the Carter Accords were brokered with a lot of blood, sweat and tears after my wife died. It's the Cold War between my son and me, and a Treaty of Non-Aggression between Sammy and me. And I do nothing more to upset the balance of power than play an occasional game of chess with Sam."

"I'll talk to your daughter," George offered.

"No. You will not. We've been through this before and Sam doesn't know our history. She doesn't know about my junior office that crashed our plane and broke my ankle in seventy nine pieces…" Jacob's voice was extremely intense as he pointed at George.

"It was a short in the electrical system," protested Hammond. "But don't you get this conversation sidetracked by pulling up that old history, Jacob…."

"And you said that she doesn't seem to remember you being at her mother's funeral. There were a lot of dress blues there, George, but only one redheaded pallbearer in dress uniform. So I've been content with the fact that she doesn't have the pressure of trying to prove herself to her dad's best friend. It's been rough enough for her being my daughter in more ways than one…."

"Jacob…" George said softly.

"She thinks that you and I just know each other in passing. And now I've got two requests for you."

"Shoot."

"I'm going to keep your hankie as I think I ruined it. And… stop by and see me, ok? It's gonna be bad, George, and I don't really have anyone who'll stop by and visit on my good days, let alone my bad." Jacob Carter gripped George's forearm and repeated his request intently, "Please? More than anything, I just need that."

"Absolutely, wild horses wouldn't keep me away."


Jacob was lying in the hospital bed one moment, and then, he wasn't. He was sitting in the chair next to the bed, and then he looked at the still figure in the hospital bed. The body was staring sightlessly at the ceiling, and then Jacob realized that the man wasn't breathing… and… and… the corpse looked awfully familiar.

"That's me!" He yelped.

There was the sound of a long buzz filling the air, and then the staff members began flying into his room. For some reason, George was there also, and he was staring at the Jacob lying in the bed in stunned disbelief. His lips moved, "Oh God, no. What am I going to tell his daughter?"

"He's in V-tach. Let's go. Let's shock him at 200!"

"200!"

"Okay, clear!"

Pain that felt like he was kicked in the chest by a mule arched through his body and the body on the bed jumped.

The scene changed. He was on a pay phone; George was standing a few feet away, trying to ignore the fact that Jacob's wife Anne was livid with her husband and screaming loud enough to be heard fifteen feet away.

"You told me that you'd pick me up, Jacob. You're an hour late! I'm standing in the airport and you're standing at the base. Do you see the problem? Do you have the security clearance to realize that there's a major problem here, Colonel Carter?"

"I'll be there in just a few minutes, I swear. The meeting ran late."

"Forget it, I'm getting a cab."

The scene faded, and he was once again in the hospital room. There was a new figure in the room, a tall blond female who hadn't been there the first time this had happened. She looked familiar, as he had been seeing her in his dreams a lot lately. Jacob tried to look at her, but the activity around the dying General on the bed pulled his attention that way.

"Again, 300."

"300!!"

He was driving like a mad man, cutting off people right and left, and blatantly ignoring their hand gestures. George's hand was on the 'oh shit bar' and he was checking to make sure his seatbelt was securely fastened.

"Jacob, getting the two of us killed to get to the airport faster will not make your wife less angry," George said dryly. "And it will infuriate my wife. In this situation, I think only one angry wife is more than sufficient."

The traffic slowed down to a crawl, and Jacob let loose a string of obscenities when he saw the flashing lights. Police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and a tow truck were blocking most of the roadway, their flashing lights of blue, red, white and yellow lighting up the scene like a bizarre, macabre Christmas scene. He slammed his hand against the steering wheel in a futile gesture of annoyance.

"I got to get there. I've got to. Shit. What's this? An accident, just what I need."

"Looks like a taxi got totaled," George pointed out.

Jacob slammed on the brakes, ignoring the horns from the angry driver behind him. "Oh God, no."

He opened the car door and ran toward the scene. One of the cops tried to push him away from the scene, but he was screaming like a madman.

"Where's the passenger? Where's the passenger? Is she a blonde? Is her name Anne Carter? Answer me!"

The cop looked uneasy, and he said, "Let me get my supervisor here."

"ANNIE!!!" The scream that came from his throat was more animal-like than human.

"CLEAR!"

The pain came back again, though this time, it felt like he'd been struck by lightning. His body spasmed and he was lying in the hospital bed again. The doctor was yelling at him, and Jacob wished that he'd just shut up.

"Normal sinus, okay. Hey, General, how're you doing?"

"Fine," Jacob lied, as he felt like he had been robbed, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road.

The answer satisfied the doctor, who promptly gave a string of orders. "Alright, he's in aplastic crisis. Let's give him a unit of packed cells, check his vitals every fifteen minutes. And, let me know if anything changes."

"George…" he whispered.

He stretched out his hand toward him, earning a disapproving cluck from the nurse that was trying to find a viable vein. One of the nurses looked up and saw George who was whiter than the proverbial ghost. George always hated needles and loathed hospitals.

"Are you, George?" She snapped.

"Yes, Ma'am, I am," Hammond said politely.

"He wants to speak to you. Don't let him overexert himself."

George pulled up a chair, and sat close to Jacob's bedside. He grabbed the dying man's hand tightly, and raised it so Jacob could see it.

"Jake, I'm here. What is it?"

"George…" Jacob whispered. "Don't recall her. It's my final request…"

That request took the last of his strength and he gratefully fell asleep even as Hammond called him every name in the book, starting with A for asshole and ending with Z.

Some time later, he woke up. The room was quiet except for the beeping of electronic devices and only the blond woman was in the room. She was sitting next to his bed, quietly watching him and she was holding his hand tightly.

"I know you," He rasped.

"Do you?" She asked softly, as she placed her other hand on his face. The woman smiled and Jacob tried not to shiver when he saw that the pupils of her ancient blue eyes were elliptical, nothing more than a catlike vertical slit, and that her teeth were fanged.

She had a split tongue…

"At last, I figured it out. You must really, really despise me," Jake said hoarsely.

"No, I don't, Jacob. I could never hate you," the female said softly. "Go back to sleep."

"Then, Selmak, why are you making me relive the worse days of my life continuously? Does it amuse you? Are you enjoying this? Goddamn you, Selmak! My dreams should be my own!"

He woke up with a shout, and he was surprised to see that Martouf was in his room. Adding to his confusion was the fact that Martouf had his hand firmly over his mouth, affectively muting him. Jacob fought for control, succeeding in landing hard blows on Martouf and driving his knee into the other man's stomach. Still Martouf held onto him, and then Jake bit his fingers, fighting like a mad man.

Lantesh took control of his host's body and threw Jacob against the wall. The force of the throw stunned Jacob and then Selmak firmly took over his body. His mind struggled and screamed even while his body failed to respond.

"No. Damn you, damn you. I will not let you do this to me. Selmak! You're no better than those damn Goa'ulds! Damn you, you fucking snakehead, damn you, damn you all to hell!"

? We need to go. ? Selmak insisted, even while Jacob screamed inside of her, lambasting her in a mental shriek full of recrimination and rage. ? I need to get you home. Please… Jacob… I'm trying to help you. ?


While Jacob blustered and wept in silence, his symbiote was becoming more and more affected by his turmoil. Lantesh watched in alarm, as Selmak-Jacob was almost in the fetal position, rocking back and forth while whispering Jacob's name. Inwardly, her formerly rock steady mental voice turned tremulous and uncertain, as she beseeched him to stop screaming.

? Jacob. Please…We're going home. We're leaving…. please, please…… quiet down. Please, I beg you, stop it. I can't think when you're like this. Stop it. Jake. Stop. You're overwhelming me. Stop. I … can't…. think… Stop… Please…. Please… Jake… I didn't mean anger you by prying in your dreams. I wanted to learn more about you. You don't talk to me… and then I couldn't escape. I tried; honestly I did when I saw what you were dreaming about. I tried to wake you, I did. Please… believe me. ?

? Please, please. Please, let me have complete control. I'm taking you to the Chappa'ai. You'll be home again. You can see your daughter. Please, Jacob. Please, stop screaming. I can't… think when you're like that. It was a surprise, that's why I didn't tell you. I thought… you'd be happy to go home. I arranged it with your General Hammond. ?

He was still raging against her when she surprised him into silence.

? Jacob. We're going home. To… Anne? You planned the ceremony to remember her. Should you not be there? It would be proper and respectful if you were there. ?

"Annie?" Jacob whispered in a small voice. "Annie?"

? Annie. Yes. Annie. I know you how much you desired to be home for that. ?

Martouf grabbed Jacob unexpectedly, and pulled him into a rough embrace. Jacob tried to pull away, but Selmak still had control over the body. He found himself resting his face on Martouf's shoulder, even as the other man pulled him closer.

"Hide your face, I hear someone," Martouf whispered. "I'm surprised that they didn't arrive earlier. You two have been extremely noisy."

Several Tok'ra came into Jacob's cubicle and they failed to hide their curiosity at what the Tau'ri Tok'ra was doing now.

"We heard noise."

Lantesh's eyes flared and then he spoke, "I don't believe that we need your assistance. This is a delicate matter between the four of us, and we were just coming to an sweet and gratifying conclusion."

The Tok'ra laughed, and made a few suggestions in their tongue.

? Shh… they think we are lovers, Jacob. They'll let everyone in the tunnels know, and they'll give us privacy for the next few hours. I have been partnerless for a great many years, and we all worried about Lantesh and Martouf after Rosha and Jolinar died. ?

"I just want to go home," Jacob said to his symbiote. "I just can't handle this anymore."

? You need to sleep, Jacob. Shhhh… No dreams now… I'll put you in a very deep sleep, and you won't wake for hours…I've just got to get you to the Chappa'ai. ?

"This is the worse trip, I've ever been on," he whispered. "I'm talking to the travel agent when I get home and demanding a refund."

Please Selmak, Let me go home, let me go home. I wanna go home, let me go home, Why don't you let me go home?

? Let me get you to the Chappa'ai, Jacob. Please. ?