CATAGORY: Drama, angst, missing scenes.
SPOILERS: Tok'ra I and II, Into the Fire, Seth, Jolinar's Memories/The Devil You Know.
SEASON: 3rd, before and during Seth.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild mild violence, swearing. Discussion of war and war crimes.
SUMMARY: Why was Selmac haranguing Jacob to reconcile with Mark? It's a sequel to "Union," contains missing scenes from "Seth," and explores Jacob's past.
DISCLAIMER: Stargate Sg-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. Within the constraints of the disclaimer above, the original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Thanks to my proof readers: Gracie, Lorien, and Lady S.
Reading "Union," and seeing "Seth," before this story is not strictly necessary, but is *highly* recommended. If the muse cooperates, these Jacob/Selmac stories will become a series.
A deep thanks to the folks over at www.stargatefan.com, from whom I borrowed the transcript of "Seth." Used with permission. Also thanks to the folks over at BadFic, Fer, and the military guys on the newsgroup who kindly answered "what would Jacob had done in Desert Storm?" and numerous other questions about him and his possible career and back story.
Italics indicates when host and symbiote are talking to each other, bold indicates a symbiote speaking out loud.
Jacob bit back another angry retort, and swallowed, hoping to loosen up his rage-constricted throat muscles. The members of the Hreeve Council were completely quiet, their wings utterly still, as the last words of his diatribe continued to echo through the large hall. He turned and gestured curtly for Martouf to step up to the table, since his diplomatic skills far exceeded Jacob's. As Martouf cleared his throat in preparation for a conciliatory speech, Jacob retreated to the row of 'chairs' that the locals had provided, sat down, and took a deep breath.
'Way to go, brilliant.' Why not just offend their culture, their leaders and most of their holy beliefs while you are at it?
Jacob sighed internally and wiped his sleeve across his forehead.
Really, Selmac, I seriously regret ever using that phrase on you. I've corrupted you forever.
Jacob, just what *was* that? Why are you so angry about this? We have run into effective pacifistic resistance before, and we, as Tok'ra, always respect their wishes and that decision.
Selmac, they're just going to sit around and let themselves be slaughtered!
That is inaccurate, Jacob. At this juncture we know very little about this culture and do not yet have comprehensive information regarding their technology, their methods of hiding, or the effectiveness of their resistance to the Goa'uld.
They're sitting ducks, Selmac! The next time we come to this planet we're going to find piles of bodies and smoking ruins! How can you face that with equanimity?
That may be, but I would be surprised. There is evidence that the Goa'uld have been here before, and yet this civilization is intact and is even prospering, despite having significant natural resources which the Goa'uld covet.
Jacob sighed again, realizing that Selmac was right. He'd just screwed up big time, and it was time to make nice. He tuned back in to Martouf's oratory, listening as the suave diplomat smoothed ruffled feathers. Feathers! Who would have guessed sentient birds? As Jacob listened, Martouf started to develop a framework in which the natives and the Tok'ra could collaborate. Jacob, despite his blow-up, was proud of the mere existence of this mission, and of what he was managing to pull off with the Tok'ra. Before the Tau'ri and himself, the Tok'ra rarely searched out allies, arrogant in their assumption that they alone could take down the System Lords.
That is unfair, Jacob. We were merely minimizing our exposure to potential spies.
Jacob stifled the inappropriate grin, and managed to catch Martouf's eye. Jacob made an 'I'm heading back' sign, and Martouf nodded. Jacob figured the other Tok'ra was probably glad to see the crusty Earther go before he could do more damage to the negotiations. Besides, he could always 'make nice' later.
As he left, he saw the wings start up their slow beating again, moving the stale air around the sweltering hall. The locals might have evolved to be too big to fly, but they found good uses for the wings anyway.
As Jacob tromped back towards the Tel'tac, he could sense the tendrils of emotion that Selmac was unable to completely conceal as she worked out an argument to throw at him. From the feel of things, she had pulled her standard trick of staying cool in the situation, only to let her anger out after they had removed themselves from the situation. And he could feel her anger focusing, concentrating into a hard core.
He and Selmac had reached an understanding early on. Most of the time, they functioned effectively as one unit, feeling and thinking as one, but there were times when they both needed their privacy for independent thought. Jacob realized that it was more him than Selmac who needed this privacy. Even after nine months of being blended he still occasionally woke up in a cold sweat about what he had let Martouf and Sam do to him. How could he have known what this entailed? How could he possibly have made an informed decision about being a host, even to save his own life? He knew he was incredibly lucky to have a symbiote of Selmac's caliber; he cared for her deeply, and would never go back. But that didn't mean he still sometimes didn't feel a little overwhelmed, not to mention disconnected from everything he had known before. 'Privacy,' as they had come to call these times, had started out as their way of keeping him functioning.
They always merged again after 'privacy,' absorbing and integrating the thoughts and feelings they had experienced while apart. Despite the fact that this temporary separation was very rare among the blended, they found it made them stronger. More recently these periods of independence almost always preceded a rip-roaring argument, which both immensely satisfied them and served to cement their opinions. Then, during the merge, they absorbed all of the other's arguments that weren't made 'verbally.' Jacob found that he treasured the merge almost more than any other factor of his new existence; it was like gaining new wisdom at two for the price of one.
Selmac had told him that this was not a normal way for a blended pair to function, and that many might see it as the prelude to madness. So they didn't share their secret and took mild guilty pleasure from doing something that, while not forbidden, was certainly not the norm.
This time, however, Jacob faced the coming argument with trepidation. He really didn't want to face what Selmac was about to dredge to the surface.
He entered the Tel'tac and made his way into the cargo hold, where he, Martouf and Boran had set up pallets for the flight to this planet, as it was over two full weeks flight from the nearest planet with a Tok'ra presence or a Stargate. Without the trinium deposits, this planet would have been safe from the Goa'uld, but the deposits were rich and extensive. He settled down into a seated position on his pallet, loosened the flap at his shoulder, and rested his head against the wall. This was going to be a long one, and there was no reason to 'wake up' stiff. He was perfectly capable of multi-tasking an argument with Selmac, but he preferred engaging her with no distractions.
Selmac, during the return trip to the Tel'tac, worked to control her anger and frustration. She had to admit, this current host was continually one of the most frustrating people with whom she had dealt with in recent memory. Even with her two thousand years of experience in dealing with irrationality, he could still irritate her to an amazing degree. He could be righteous, and had a strong moral sense, but those aspects of his character often came into conflict with the pragmatic side of his personality. And this latest gaff on his part was almost unbelievable. She knew he had a strong military background, but there were definitely memories and feelings which had led her to believe that he respected, at least, the pacifist ideal, even if he didn't always agree with it.
So she tried to organize her thoughts for the upcoming argument. However, the more she thought back on the scene in the Hreeve council chambers, the more angry she became. She was having a difficult time controlling her emotions, and that was never a good sign. As Jacob entered the Tel'tac and settled down on the pallet, she reorganized her prepared arguments, and waited for him to start the conversation.
Selmac, I'm sorry.
You are not. You fervently believed what you said to the Hreeve Council, and your over-reaction to their pacifism was completely out of proportion to the situation.
No. You will listen to me. I have never seen you act so irresponsibly. You ignored me *and* my warning to tone down your diatribe, and you were unconscionably rude to me in the process. You should never have allowed something of this magnitude to remain unexplored between us. It should have been the subject of one of our earliest sharings. Privacy is one thing, but to allow me to be blind-sided by this after we agreed on our working relationship was completely irresponsible.
I wasn't *that* rude. Haven't you ever had someone tell you to 'shut up' before? Sheltered life you lead.
Selmac couldn't believe what Jacob had just said. A two thousand year old rebel, sheltered? Why the impertinent little.... A groan caught her attention. Jacob had lowered his head into his hands, and to her dismay, it was because she had let her anger cause him pain. She damped down her emotions immediately, and let him feel her contrition.
Okay, that was uncalled for, Jacob apologized. For that I am sorry.
Indeed. She paused and reconsidered.
Jacob, nothing in what I've seen so far in your memories would have indicated that you felt so strongly that pacifism was wrong and futile. From whence does this come?
Jacob was silent, and Selmac thought back over the sensations she had picked up during the earlier incident.
It felt as if this were an intensely personal anger; as if you were personally offended by their stance. Why is that?
I don't know, Selmac. You don't suppose it could be that I was in the military for upwards of forty years, do you? Pacifists reject everything I stand for.
That would explain why you would disagree with the pacifist ideal, but you are not the type to internalize criticism on this level. It must be something significantly more personal.
Oh, I suppose it could be that rat-fink of a son I have. He claims to be a pacifist. I think Mark's just overcompensating for having a General for a father.
Selmac's attention focused abruptly. Despite the bravado, Jacob was deeply hurt by his son's reaction. She very carefully followed the thread of that pain back into the skein of emotions surrounding them, and gently teased out it's origin, something about a fight they had engaged in years ago. She brought the knot back up and presented it gently to Jacob.
What was this fight about?
What, that? Nothing. He took exception to my doing my duty in the Gulf. I took exception to his being a naive, self-righteous asshole. What's there to tell? And what are you doing rooting around in there, anyway?
Sometimes Selmac honestly envied the host's ability to express their frustration physically. She could use a good head-pounding right now, or at least a gusty sigh. And this was definitely the origin of this conflict, his emotions were now roiling.
Hardly 'nothing,' Jacob. This was the last time you spoke to your son, nearly ten years ago. And you should not deny how angry you still are over this. Now that it has been brought to the fore, it is amply clear how deeply it is upsetting you.
She paused, but could not resist adding, And I was not 'rooting around.' This *is* the origin of your intense feelings during the incident earlier, and you mentioned your son before I brought him up.
She observed as Jacob reflected on what she had just said. Despite his stubbornness, she had to give him credit. Once an issue of this sort was brought to his attention, no matter how unpleasant, he would usually face it. He might be a master of self-denial on a subconscious level, but his forthright character would generally insist that he face it on a conscious level. Selmac paused. 'Usually' and 'generally.' But certainly not invariably. Perhaps a further prompting ...
You should have told me of this a long time ago. You know I have extensive experience with chil —
Back off, Selmac. Just because you're thirty times my age doesn't mean you know everything, and you know nothing of Tau'ri relationships that you haven't learned from me. You *don't* know everything and you can't *fix* everything. Especially not this.
So perhaps prompting him was not such a good idea...
Well, then, enlighten me. What could have happened that you feel so bitter about your son?
I don't particularly want to do this, Selmac.
You must — you know that. We've previously discussed the damage that concealing things from one another can do to us. And could this issue really be worth losing your son?
Jacob shook his head, something that Selmac really didn't enjoy. Then Jacob leaned his head back against the wall, and started twisting his wedding band around his finger. A deep sigh escaped from his chest. All of these were sure signs that he was deeply upset but resigned to what was about to happen. She felt blinded by the agreement not to deliberately access his emotions during 'privacy,' but an agreement was an agreement.
My wife Allison died, as you know, back when I was a colonel, about 20 years ago. She was killed in an auto accident, when I forgot to pick her up. Sam forgave me, but I guess Mark never really did. I thought at first it was because he was a teenager at the time; things are rough when you're a teen — but apparently it went deeper than that, because our relationship stayed rocky for years. Then, in the early Nineties, the U.S. got involved in a conflict in the Middle East ...
Jacob continued, but Selmac withdrew her attention a bit. She was much more familiar with this 'Gulf War' than Jacob imagined, he tended to forget that while she had agreed to not delve deliberately into his memories, she still experienced his thoughts and dreams, except during 'privacy.' And this particular conflict even now took up a surprising amount of time of his thoughts, both awake and asleep. She was familiar with both the 'petroleum vs. dictator vs. chemical/nuclear weapons' arguments, and the 'were we guilty of war crimes?' arguments, because he still debated them in his mind. In his surface thoughts he thought he had reconciled it, but in truth it still bothered him to a significant degree.
She sensed that he was starting to slow a bit.
Why so expositive? How does this relate to your son?
Hold on .... As the years went on, and more stories came out about Gulf War Syndrome and possible misdeeds by the U.S., his opinions got more and more strident and our fights became truly vicious. Finally, he accused me of being a war criminal and a cold-blooded murderer. I disowned him, said I never wanted to see him again and ordered him out of the house.
Mark was completely unwilling to understand that regardless of the goals, purpose or results of the war, I was doing the right thing; I was doing my duty. Saddam Hussein is a monster, plus we absolutely had to protect our interests in the region. It's shortsighted and naive for him to accuse the military. Pacifists might provide a valuable point of view, but they wouldn't have the freedom to express that point of view without the soldiers that protect them. Freedom must be fought for; it's not a right, it's a privilege, and is bought at a terrible price.
You don't have to convince me, Jacob. I too am a warrior, I have been one for two thousand years. But you know, as do I, that even given the precariousness of their position, the voice of the pacifist is necessary to prevent the warriors from becoming monsters themselves.
Perhaps, but —
That's not everything, Jacob. There's one more facet to this.
Yeah, what is that?
Selmac reached deeply down into a familiar section of his memories and pulled out something *he* hadn't thought about in years, at least not consciously.
Oh ... that.
You would willingly admit that your country's military has been wrong in the past, that it has been involved in some conflicts that are of dubious moral and ethical standing. This is not an uncommon feeling in your society, even within some military ranks. What you will not admit, and never have, is that you came to desperately agree with that sentiment during your early years in the military — that you admired greatly the public proponents of these opinions, and nearly left your unit without authorization multiple times during one of these engagements. And you would have, if it weren't for the fact that you would have been abandoning your squad-mates in what was effectively hell. Yet you condemned your son for a political and moral stance you yourself supported, albeit not publicly. His accusations of your being a murderer do not disturb you nearly as much as your fear that he is correct.
You must face him, Jacob. You must tell him of this.
No. You're absolutely wrong. What I felt wasn't out of the ordinary. The pacifist ... *thing* during 'Nam was just a reaction to being in such a horrible situation. Lots of us felt that way at one time or another, but we did our duty, that's what soldiers *do.* We didn't protest, we didn't go AWOL, we didn't show the world that the country didn't support their troops, and we didn't harass those troops when they returned home.
No. Listen, Selmac, it's not at all uncommon for war vets to feel guilty about what they have done. As for Mark's accusations of my being a war criminal, that's what our chain of command is all about, it absolves the solders of the responsibility for what they were ordered to do.
For the most part yes, and I agree that your roles in your country's conflicts do not make you guilty of war crimes. Your circumstances were not those which would make you guilty despite the chain of command, and even when you were put into situations that were dubious, you have always behaved as ethically as the situation allowed. You know that intellectually; you have come to terms with it on rational grounds, but not emotionally. And *that* is where this guilt is coming from. You must go to Mark, and share these doubts, and listen to his side. It is the only way you can come to accept this.
I won't do it, Selmac. Most of this was thirty years ago, and it does not give Mark the right to judge me, for Vietnam or the Gulf War. No one who wasn't there has the right to judge.
So you and I do not have the right to judge what the Goa'uld have done? Or the soldiers under their command? By your criteria they are even more innocent, since Goa'uld are born as tyrants, and Jaffa are bred to be slaves to their tyrant masters.
That is different, Selmac.
The Goa'uld are monsters. They conquer and enslave whole populations with abandon.
Of course they do. And we *can* judge the Goa'uld because what they are doing is wrong. The Jaffa are a more difficult case; they are like you, partially protected by their position as slaves, and must be judged on an individual basis. But we do not have to have 'been there' in order to judge the Goa'uld. We can hardly be expected to become tyrants in order to judge tyrants.
Selmac, that's not what I —
You fear that since you can judge the Goa'uld, then Mark should be able to judge you. And you must risk that he will conclude that you were wrong as well. He *does* have the right to judge you. I do not think he was correct in his conclusions, and if you are to gain a rapprochement, he must meet you halfway. But his right to judge comes from the same basis as does our right to judge the Goa'uld.
It's not the same, Selmac.
You are correct in that you are not guilty of the same crimes as the Goa'uld, but you have to understand *why* before you can come to peace with this. From what I understand of political history on your planet, you were a member of the military of the dominant government, a government based on the representation of its citizens, with elected officials. And despite the many problems, this was indeed a strong and robust system, with multiple 'checks and balances,' I believe you call them, built in.
*You're* lecturing *me* on my own government? And the justifications of our military?
Yes, because even though you know all of this, in your cycle of guilt you have forgotten its significance. Your military fights to protect not only your country but to protect others around the world from those who would oppress them. Certainly there is debate on whether you had the right to do that — interfere in the affairs of other countries — but don't you see how important even the ability to have that debate *is*?
The Goa'uld conquer for their own personal aggrandizement, and to perpetuate the fraud of false religion in order to consolidate their power. Some, if not most of them even believe it. We Tok'ra fight to protect all the billions who can not fight for themselves against the Goa'uld. And you fought to protect those who depended on you; those who had no one else to defend them. Perhaps some of the conflicts in which you were involved were not of the highest moral stance, but you were doing the best you could, your government, for the most part, was doing the best it could.
Gee, thanks for your seal of approval.
*However,* at the same time it must be acknowledged that the position Mark has taken also has legitimacy, you must also acknowledge that you have had doubts yourself; that in fact you agreed with him, if only for a little while, and that you were forced to do things which were very wrong. Without those doubts, without the checks that those of Mark's ilk impose upon you, you lose your moral and ethical basis, what you term your 'humanity.' It is those doubts that make you and your society strong. Engaging in this continual debate keeps your military on track. It is a strength, not a weakness, and you should not allow this to keep you separate from your son.
You must speak to him. You must acknowledge both to him and to yourself that the pacifist view is valuable and necessary, even if it isn't always possible to maintain, or even attain, those pacifist standards. And you both need the opportunity to forgive each other and yourselves.
I won't do it, Selmac. You're asking too much.
He didn't even come to me when he knew I was dying! What kind of son can he be?
Had you given him any indication that he would be welcome? You were the one who disowned him, after all.
What makes you think he would agree to see me? He thinks I'm a monster.
Mark may not be able to meet you halfway, Jacob, but you must give him a chance.
Selmac, *please.* Just let this go. At least for now.
Selmac withdrew, slightly relieved. That had not gone as well as it should have. She would have thought that since she had millennia of experience in which to come to terms with the moral and ethical issues of warfare, she would be better at expressing them. Nevertheless, perhaps her arguments would start the process of getting him to change his mind. She let seep through their emotional connection that she intended on considering for a few minutes, in order to give Jacob a chance to recoup. He took that opportunity to stand up and stretch. Despite her best efforts, his physical body was still prone to stiffness; damage done by years prior to their joining couldn't be completely fixed.
Jacob, for his part, was grateful for the break, but was still angry over the whole topic. Who was she to dredge all of this up? He had been doing just fine, thanks. He fumed as he paced, getting angrier and angrier. When he felt that Selmac was going to restart the conversation, he moved over to some of the crates and leaned back against them, sitting slightly on an edge. When she 'spoke' again, she returned to their previous topic, as he knew she would. In some ways, she was incredibly predictable. He sighed in frustration.
Now, about listening to me when you're in full cry, when I'm trying to stop you from ranting at people you really shouldn't be offending —
Selmac, please. I'm an adult, and an experienced commander. I can take care of myself.
Today was not a shining demonstration of your abilities, Jacob.
What, are you my jockey, that you have to rein me in? Or my master that you have to control what I say? Why don't you just shut me up?
Jacob felt the long-damped heat of her anger transform into bitter cold. It felt as if someone had injected liquid nitrogen into his mind; as if the area around Selmac would shatter if he moved too quickly. He squeezed his eyes shut and gripped his head, remembering the flash of fear that had shot through his stomach earlier, when her anger had burned his mind. He had thought, just for a second, that it might be deliberate.
That would make me a Goa'uld, Jacob. If I were a separate being you could defend yourself. You have no defense against me, and therefore I can never allow myself to cause you pain nor harm.
So you're just along for the ride? Or is trying to freeze my brain just an expression of your affection? Should I believe your actions or your words?
She didn't respond, but the frigid sensation disappeared immediately.
Her reply, when it came, was cold and emotionless. For a human in what was late middle age, and an 'experienced commander' at that, Jacob, you are amazingly immature.
He felt her retreat, and she would not respond to any entreaty. Fine. It's not like she could go anywhere.
Martouf had been looking at Jacob suspiciously since Martouf and Boran had returned to the Tel'tac. On their return they had reported a successful negotiation. The Tok'ra would provide the Hreeve with advanced communication technology and information on Goa'uld movements in their region of space, which should hopefully increase the effectiveness of the Hreeve's ability to hide. In return the Hreeve would allow the Tok'ra access to a considerable amount of trinium, and the Hreeve apparently had some camouflage technology Martouf thought was promising.
As gratified as Jacob was to hear this, after the first conversation he tried to withdraw from the other two as subtly as he could in the confined space. He shouldn't have been surprised that Martouf had noticed, as he and Martouf had developed a sort of reciprocal mentoring relationship; spending the hours on the trip out swapping tales and life lessons. Despite being a warrior himself, Martouf's questions revealed that he found the Tau'ri military baffling, with all of its rules, complex structures and chains of command. He had told Jacob that he thought he should have a better understanding if he were going to be working periodically with the SGC. And, of course, Jacob still had much to learn of the Tok'ra, things even Selmac couldn't fill in completely.
But Selmac hadn't forgiven him for the comments at the end of their fight, and was still remaining very quiet. He, for his part, didn't feel up to dealing with the other two. He had some real thinking he had to do about who he had become, or perhaps more accurately *what* he had become.
As much as he tried to deny it, their conversation had dredged up some of his oldest shames: Vietnam, the Gulf, and his son. No, dammit, he had acted all along as he should have, she wasn't going to change him now. Besides, no man should have to have to adapt to having a secondary 'conscience;' complete with different views and the will to express them loudly and at length; not at his age. And he didn't care if she heard that, either.
Jacob was resting, in the fifth day of their return trip, leaning against the far Tel'tac wall, when Martouf slid slowly down next to him.
"You have been very quiet since the planet, Jacob. Is there something bothering you?"
Jacob opened his eyes and glanced over at Martouf. The younger man was sitting with his arms braced on his bent knees, holding his chin in his cupped hands, staring at him. Jacob leaned his head back against the cool wall and sighed. No, it would have been asking too much to get through this trip without this conversation.
"Selmac and I had an argument. That's all. It's not that big a deal, it just gave me a lot to think about."
"May I ask what the two of you were discussing?"
Jacob brought his head back up to level and twisted to glare at Martouf.
"I'd really rather not discuss it, thank you."
"Truly? I often find it helpful to seek out others when Lantesh and I don't completely agree, it can be very helpful to get a third opinion."
Jacob shook his head in annoyance, and clambered to his feet, one hand braced against the wall.
"Well, isn't that nice. What a touchy-feely little family you all have here. That's not the way I function, Martouf, can't you all understand that?"
Martouf also rose. "I did not mean to offend you, Jacob. However, I would have thought that by now you would have learned that arguing with Selmac is often quite futile," Martouf commented with a slight smile.
"Since Selmac is the one along for a ride, you'd think she'd learn not to argue with *me,*" returned Jacob, turning towards the front of the Tel'tac, intending to check on their flight status.
Martouf reached over Jacob's shoulder and spun him around. Then he grabbed Jacob's tunic tightly and slammed him into the ship wall, hard enough that Jacob could feel the hieroglyphs pressing into his back. Jacob coughed as the breath was knocked out of him. Confused and in pain, he grabbed at Martouf's hands. But he drew up sharply as Martouf's eyes flared white, as Lantesh came to the fore.
"You will *never* again say, imply, or even *think* that Selmac is in any way a hostage to you. Is that *clear*?"
Jacob stared at Lantesh, eyes wide, unable to think clearly. "Martouf..." he managed to choke out.
Jacob tried to twist away. But Lantesh retained a solid grip, even as his head dipped and Martouf emerged.
"Lantesh and I are in complete agreement on this, Jacob."
"Not what ... I meant!" Jacob gagged.
"Be *sure* that it wasn't."
Lantesh untwisted his tunic and dropped him, turned, and went to join Boran in the cockpit of the Tel'tac, leaving Jacob gasping against the wall. He slid slowly slid back down to a sitting position, arms wrapped around his aching chest.
She didn't respond, all Jacob felt was the bitter coldness of before.
Selmac, I am *so* sorry, that isn't what I meant at all. Not at *all.*
She still did not respond.
Jacob rolled over onto his side on his pallet, and drew his knees up to his chest, aghast at what he had said. Not knowing what else to do, he let his regret for hurting her and his love and appreciation of her bathe them both, soaking through their blended selves. He felt her slowly start to relax, and she hesitantly let her emotions meld back into his; the coldness slowly, so slowly, melted away.
The rest of the trip was tense, but quiet. Boran wisely stayed up front, Martouf was carefully circumspect, and Jacob spent most the time in the remaining days slowly trying to rebuild his relationship with Selmac. While she was being professional with respect to their 'working relationship,' mostly by filling in Tok'ra history in response to Martouf's tutoring, she rarely participated in anything else, withdrawing when her duties were finished.
Jacob had stopped apologizing. He knew she was aware of how badly he felt over what had occurred earlier. Wasn't she the one who was saying that people had to meet each other halfway? But, as the days passed and she remained mostly withdrawn, he found himself genuinely missing her banter, her off-color remarks about their situations and surroundings, and simply her company.
Selmac was very glad to be back on Vorash. The return flight from Hreeve had been extremely unpleasant. She knew that Jacob hadn't meant what he had said and implied about her status as a symbiote, at least not seriously, but nevertheless she couldn't yet move past it.
She didn't completely understand the Tau'ri reaction to symbiotes. Certainly, those slated to become hosts to the Goa'uld showed appropriate horror, but most of the hosts who came to the Tok'ra viewed the blending with deep respect and even awe. And while Jacob hadn't been too greatly influenced by what the other members of the SGC believed, she could still tell he was uncomfortable with the idea of being a host. He wasn't uncomfortable about *her,* per se, but the whole idea still nagged at him. And she was finding this increasingly hard to ignore. She had thought they had dealt with it months ago, but little things still occurred often enough that she was now hyper-aware of it. And the incident on the Tel'tac had just been the last straw, as Jacob was wont to say. And what's more, she was uncertain now how to deal with it.
An opportunity presented itself during one of the one interminable meetings necessary to the running of a resistance movement. Jacob hated these meetings, despite sitting through countless similar meetings during his career, so he usually let her 'take the reins.' This also allowed her to practice her abilities to control the host's body. Like many sophisticated skills, it required constant honing.
Aldwin was presenting his summary of the Goa'uld System Lord Status survey that they had been undertaking, including passing on the information about the demise of Hathor at the hands of SG-1. He had left the various 'status unknown' Goa'uld for the end of the report. The information that he suspected that Setesh might still be hiding on Earth gave Selmac just the opportunity she needed to get Jacob to face Mark, and perhaps she would have an opportunity to put to rest his latent fears regarding symbiotes.
"Garshaw, may I suggest that we take the assignment of tracking down Setesh? Given Jacob's relationships on Earth, it would be most convenient."
Hold on! I've told you that I don't want to go back to Earth now!
Garshaw studied them curiously for a few moments, apparently puzzled by the use of one of their old signals. 'Convenient' was a keyword for something important, because for life-long resistance fighters, nothing was convenient, only necessary. But neither of them had needed to use it in centuries. Garshaw narrowed her eyes at Selmac, and nodded.
Don't do this, Selmac!
"That is indeed a logical choice, Selmac, thank you for the suggestion. How soon can you leave?"
Don't I get a say in this? It is, after all, my planet, and my daughter's team you want to put at risk.
Of course you get a say, Jacob. But do you not agree this is the best way? We can not afford at this juncture to have Seth emerge back into the political landscape of the System Lords. And with the current Gate activity on Earth, he is bound to become aware of it's presence soon, if he has not already.
He didn't respond for a few seconds. She sensed his struggle to find a counter-argument, but his military training won, and he conceded that she was right. And with that, they were committed to return to Earth.
Nevertheless, Jacob had made his displeasure 'about being ambushed' and her 'high-handed methods' clear, but despite his misgivings about this mission and her motivations with respect to Mark, Selmac could sense that he was looking forward to seeing his daughter. And it would be interesting to see if they and Samantha's team could find and take down Seth. Even when weakened, Seth had always had a knack for causing chaos on a scale that could boggle even the mind of a two thousand year-old rebel.
Jacob was miffed. While he had to admit that he and Selmac were the best choice for this mission, he was still having a hard time coming to terms with how Selmac had maneuvered him into this trip. So as he prepared himself for the return to Earth, he found his hopes for the mission tempered by the inevitable continuation of the battle over his relationship with his son.
The death of Hathor very conveniently gave him something to use to break the ice when he returned to Earth, and after the greetings they smoothly moved to the briefing room to hear what he had to say about the 'Goa'uld hunt.'
During the briefing, as Jacob filled in George and SG-1 on the details of Setesh, Jacob to his surprise realized how much he had missed this — the formal but relaxed give and take of a well-honed team. He also found himself missing the Spartan military surroundings, so different from the Tok'ra crystal tunnels and the lavishness of their stolen Goa'uld technology.
The briefing broke up as Daniel went off to see if he could find evidence of Setesh in the historical records. George invited Jacob into his office, to catch up on what had been happening since their last encounter during the Ree'tou incident, while Samantha waited for him in the briefing room. She apparently didn't realize that Jacob knew the layout of the base extremely well now, and had no need of a guide.
It almost felt like old times as he and George traded insults and old memories; not to mention some new stories regarding a few of the more interesting aspects of living with the Tok'ra. But after almost an hour, George pleaded paperwork, and sent him off to check on the progress of Daniel's search. As he and Sam descended the stairs from the briefing room level and entered the hall, he brushed self-consciously at his Tok'ra clothing; he felt strange being back here as a Tok'ra after his long history working in installations just like this one, especially after talking to George. The last time he was here, they were so busy dealing with the Ree'tou that he didn't have a change to think about it. This time, the pace was considerably slower.
"So Dad, you don't really think we have a chance of finding this Goa'uld, do you?"
Jacob pulled his attention back to Sam.
"It's the mission Garshaw assigned me."
"You didn't request it?"
Hmmm. How was he going to explain this one to his curious daughter? Selmac had requested it, not him, but he didn't feel up to explaining *that* at the moment. And if he mentioned Selmac's pressure to see Mark, she would jump into the argument as well. The last thing he needed was hearing it in stereo.
"Why would I request it, huh?"
"Come on, would it be so awful to admit that you just wanted a chance to see me?"
Oops. Brilliant. He hasn't seen his daughter for months, and then he makes her think he didn't want to see her now. That's a proud father for ya. Perhaps a bit of bravado and misdirection ...
"Of course not. You're right, that's why I requested it."
"Okay, so that's obviously not the reason. What's going on?"
They paused in front of the elevator, and Sam ran her access card through the reader. Jacob was trying to organize his thoughts when Selmac, who had been quiet since he had reached Earth, broke in.
Jacob sighed. So much for monophonic. Whatever ...
The elevator door closed and Sam pushed the button for the lab level.
"It is I who requested the assignment."
"Selmac!" Sam exclaimed, a bit startled.
"Nice to see you once again, Captain Carter."
"Likewise. So, let me ask you the same question."
"Your father has an unresolved issue here on your planet and frankly it is beginning to irritate me."
"Yes. Your father is a proud man. He refuses to seek out your brother and mend their relationship."
You did give me permission.
"Yeah, well Mark isn't exactly rushing into my father's arms either. Even when we thought Dad was gonna die, he wouldn't take my call."
"It hurt your father deeply when his son didn't come to him on his deathbed."
Dammit, Selmac, can't you leave well enough alone? That's it. Give me back control.
Selmac acquiesced without further comment.
"Now why would it hurt? As far as I was concerned, the kid wasn't my son anymore. It didn't hurt a bit.," Jacob snapped out in frustration. This was exactly what he had been hoping to avoid. What part of 'disown' didn't they understand?
The elevator stopped, and the doors opened onto the lab level, and Jacob gestured Sam to precede him out through the doors.
"Dad, I have a number for Mark in San Diego."
"I just thought you might want to know."
"When was the last time you saw him?"
"I haven't seen him since either of his kids were born, I guess he paints me with the same brush as he does you."
Jacob sighed. He had known that Sam and Mark weren't close, but he hadn't realized it had gone that far. He would also love to see his grandkids. He only knew them from a few pictures and what little information Mark had sent Sam in letters over the years.
"Well, Selmac's pushing me to go mend some fences."
"I guess Selmac is as wise as they say. Look, I'll go with you. When do you want to do it?"
"No, I didn't say I'd go, I just said Selmac's pushing it."
Not even to see your grandchildren? Jacob, you *must* do this.
He turned gratefully around the corner into the distraction of Daniel's lab, where they listened to the astounding news that within a few hours of their arrival on the planet, Daniel had actually found Setesh.
The mission was going unexpectedly well. Jacob had been integrated into the team with surprising ease, given the strange state — or non-state — of his military rank. On the outside, Jacob was presenting himself as the General he still nominally was, but he knew better than to mess with Jack's command. It was a testament to Jack's skills and confidence that he accepted this and even used it to their advantage.
Their plan to take out Seth by using the nish'ta against him still made Jacob nervous. But given how effective SG-1 could be with unconventional methods, he wasn't as worried as he might have been. And this time their actions wouldn't affect the political setup of the system lords, or kill Tok'ra operatives. Nevertheless, he listened tensely as the team made their way into the compound, and were captured and integrated into the cult. A father should never have to listen to a Goa'uld take in his daughter as part of a harem. With any luck, though, they wouldn't be in there for long.
Given her familiarity with Setesh, Jacob let Selmac take control as they waited for the team to emerge from the sleep that the nish'ta imposed on them. Jacob had to admit, though, that even now he had a difficult time watching his daughter go willingly into danger. He and Teal'c sat in the command tent, listening and waiting.
Teal'c tensed. "They are awake. Shall I activate the devices?"
"No. We must wait to be sure the nish'ta has permeated their tissues before negating it."
"How long?" Teal'c inquired.
"About an hour. It's a smart virus. If there is any unaffected tissue remaining in the body, it will give the organism safe harbor in which to mutate. Then it will overtake the body once again."
As Selmac was finishing, the flap to the tent opened to admit Jason Levinson.
"Excuse me. Mind if I watch? I mean, my son's in there you know, I just want to be involved."
Selmac quickly returned control back to Jacob, who removed his headphones and turned around in frustration. The man had the worst timing!
"I'm afraid I can't let you do so. I'm sorry."
"Yeah. Figured. Can I grab a cup of coffee?"
Jacob glanced at the haunted man, noticing how badly his hands were shaking, even though he was trying to hide it. Coffee was the last thing he needed, but under the circumstances ...
"Sure, go ahead."
Jacob replaced the headphones, hoping the man would leave quickly, so he could concentrate on the team. His sympathy backfired; Levinson yelped as he spilled the hot coffee onto his hand.
Teal'c, who hadn't yet returned to listening, jumped to his feet, startled.
Levinson replaced the coffee pot and wiped off his hand, a look of pain on his face. Jacob looked at him more closely. The coffee wasn't that hot, so the burn couldn't be that painful.
"Sorry. Sorry, it won't happen again. Just been kind of short fused ... since I found out about Tommy.
Jacob winced, and turned away.
"I understand," Teal'c nodded, and he slowly returned to his seat.
Levinson clearly wanted to talk. It couldn't have come at a worse time, with the team just waking up. But apparently Levinson wasn't going to leave without sharing his feelings.
"I find out from his college room-mate, 'cause Tommy and me hadn't been talking for something like six months before they sucked him in."
Lost sons ... Jacob closed his eyes in sympathy. Levinson was lucky to have lost only six m —
"I do not understand." Teal'c said to Jacob, interrupting Jacob's train of thought. "How could a father not speak to his son for so long a time?"
Jacob grimaced, unsure how to answer. How could he explain?
"That's the funny thing about it, I don't even remember why," replied Levinson. "Obviously something pretty stupid in the scheme of things." Levinson stopped fidgeting with the coffee maker and started to leave. "I'll get out of your hair."
Stupid. How stupid was it to disown his own son? Jacob ducked his head. Even after being called a murderer? After seeing the haunted look on Levinson's face, Jacob could feel his own resolve start to soften.
As Levinson left the tent, Teal'c turned to Jacob, baffled.
"Do human parents not love their children unconditionally?"
"Well..." Jacob sighed, "Sometimes, things get complicated."
Complicated. Levinson's son could easily die here today, if he wasn't already dead. Mark was safe in San Diego, with two grandkids Jacob had never even seen, except in rare pictures sent to Sam. Yet he still missed them. How could he miss someone he'd never met? How would he feel if something happened to them, or to Mark? Pretty damn stupid, that's how.
"Many things are complicated, General Carter. In Jaffa society, loving ones children is not one of them."
Teal'c was right, it should be simple. And faced with Levinson's intense pain, Jacob thought he might just be able to —
From the mouths of babes...
Dammit! Where does she get this shit?
Selmac, can't you leave well enough alone? Jacob asked in frustration. This argument *was* coming in stereo now. If Sam walked in, he'd be getting surround sound. Damn right it was complicated ... but it shouldn't be.
"In human society, sometimes it is."
How much longer are you going to try to avoid this? I will not cease.
And I won't give in.
Jacob and ATF agents stood impatiently around the entrance to Seth's secret tunnel entrance, while Teal'c remained in the van, listening to the headphones. After hearing that the team had been discovered, they had rushed to the concrete-reinforced opening to the tunnel, only to find no activity. Jacob attempted to stifle his worry. He knew that SG-1 could take care of themselves. But they were at such a disadvantage this time; potentially still suffering from the side-effects of the nish'ta and probably unarmed. And to make it worse, the gung-ho ATF 'special' agent, Hamner, was about to make a nuisance of himself again, by insisting that they rush into the tunnels.
"Okay, I think I've been very patient ... " started Hamner.
Jacob turned to the agent, placing his hands on his hips in an age-old 'I'm in command here, are you going to make an issue of it?' stance, trying to think of something that would stop Hamner from sending in his men with guns blazing.
But just at that moment, figures started to emerge from the opening, clothed in disciple-like robes and flimsy slippers.
Hamner jumped into action, snapping "Call the medical teams up here stat! Some blankets and shoes. Come on you guys, get in here!" as his men helped the figures out of the entrance. Jacob reached in to help, but paused as he sensed a presence too close behind him. He turned, a bit disconcerted, to find Levinson hovering at his shoulder. The man really was desperate to see his son.
The stream of people climbing the ladder went on, but Levinson didn't move, not even to help the others. Jacob was just starting to get a little annoyed when another dark head emerged from the gloom.
The head turned, and Jacob could see the resemblance. "Tommy?" He also saw the Goa'uld technology on Tom's wrist. This was definitely going to be an interesting cleanup. He helped the young man out of the hole, as Levinson stood up a bit straighter; the last vestiges of pride warring with the need to hold his son again. The latter won out, and he pulled Tom from Jacob's grasp into a tight hug. Jacob watched, and wondered. Could he possibly make up with Mark?
He turned as Teal'c came rushing up, carrying a hand device.
"General Carter, our friends have been neutralized. I must go in. I believe Selmac will be of help.
Just let me at him. Get the hand device!
Jacob didn't even respond to Selmac's impatience, as he deflected Hamner again. "It's a long story," said Jacob, as he started down the ladder. He reached the bottom, and stepped into the crowd of young people waiting to climb out. He started to pull on the hand device, not caring at this point if anyone could see it.
As the crowd pushed past him, Jacob realized that Seth probably could escape in the confusion. And perhaps they hadn't found all of the tunnel entrances.
"Teal'c!" he yelled back up the tunnel. "Stay outside and cover the other end! Just make sure he doesn't get out another way!"
Selmac was twitching in her anxiousness not to miss Seth. So when Sam emerged from the stream of people and grabbed his arm, Jacob barely had the opportunity to feel relief that she appeared unhurt.
"Dad, where are you going?"
We don't have time for this! Selmac snapped.
"Setesh used a hand device on Colonel O'Neill and Daniel. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she replied.
Jack's voice echoed down the tunnel.
"Carter, he's down here!"
Jacob and Sam turned and headed deeper into the passageway. Just as Jacob sensed another symbiote, Selmac wrenched control away from him, twisted him around, and knocked the hood off of one of the passing acolytes.
The removal of the hood revealed a dark-haired man, whom quickly raised his arm, a hand device already glowing malevolently in his palm.
"Tok'ra! Kree cho!"
The blast smacked into Jacob, tossing him against more disciples, crashing them all into the wall. Jacob groaned in pain, nevertheless he and Selmac started to twist off his own hand device. Sam!
She appeared out of the stunned crowd, and kneeled at his side. Jacob tried to speak, but Selmac hadn't returned control.
"Your father will survive. Stop Seth." Selmac handed the ribbon device to Sam, who looked at it with wide eyes.
"How? I can't control this!"
Oh, Sam ...
"You have the will within you. You must summon it."
Jacob wanted so badly to not have it go down like this, but he had been nearly knocked out by the blast, and his head felt like someone had rolled over it in a tank. Selmac relinquished control, and started to work on healing the concussion. Jacob watched in dread as Sam put on the device and took off after Seth, a determined look on her face.
He lost sight of her in the crowd, and sat there helplessly as he heard her yell out "Hey!" followed by the sounds of another blast, and a low growl. Another blast echoed down the tunnel, followed by a gruesome crunching noise. Jacob could only sit there, trying not to anticipate the next sounds.
"You killed him." That was Daniel.
Jacob sighed in relief. Trust Jack for a totally inappropriate comment ...
The pain was fading. How does it look in there?
Ugly as always, but the damage is not severe. We will be sore for a few days, but that is all.
Jacob focused his eyes back to the outside, and saw his daughter standing in front of him. He searched, and found a bit of a grin to give her. She returned it, just a bit, but the tiny smile couldn't overcome the tight, haunted look on her face.
"What in God's name happened here?"
Hamner had found Seth. And so the clean-up, and cover-up, started. Sam had removed the hand device; it was dangling from her left hand. She reached down with her right and helped him to his feet. He grunted, but made it without embarrassing either of them. He gathered up the device and tucked it into his coat, and the put his arm around her shoulder, despite Selmac's protest that he shouldn't move it. They walked together, slowly, towards the tunnel entrance and past where Seth had been blown *into* the concrete.
The complications from the Goa'uld technology had made the post-mission protocol a mess. So it wasn't until the team had boarded the transport plane which would take them back to Colorado Springs that Jacob got another chance to talk to Sam. He was puzzled as to why the uncharacteristic brittleness and vulnerability in her expression which had been there since the tunnels hadn't faded. Given how well the mission had gone, and the death of Seth, he couldn't figure out why she was still upset.
The hand device, Selmac commented. She hasn't killed with one before. And she still hasn't completely come to terms with the legacy that Jolinar has left her.
Jacob blinked. Of course. Thank you.
After they secured their gear in the cargo hold of the transport plane, and settled in for the flight back, Jacob went over to Sam and inclined his head towards the other end of the bay. There they wouldn't be overheard by the others. She got up and followed, and they settled down into the jump seats. Sam leaned forward, examining the floor, her elbows on her knees and her hands hanging down. The plane taxied for take-off, and here at the back of the cargo hold, the engine noise made conversation difficult. Unable to speak, Jacob watched his daughter sadly, and remembered.
It seemed as if he had been watching her deal with her pain for years from afar, since she had left home to go to college, two years earlier than the other kids. At college she had been driven, finishing early there as well, proving herself for who-knew-what reasons. Somehow, though, she had found the time to spend one summer with him, at Davis-Monthan Air Force base in Arizona.
That had been an incredible summer. Somewhere, some time between the gawky teen that had left for college and the woman that had returned, she had found the means to finally forgive him for what had happened to Allison, and they had grown close — much closer than ever before. He took some leave, and they had traveled around the southwest, visiting national parks and monuments, losing themselves for days hiking in the red rock, listening to the winds blow, spending hours talking, or enjoying the silence, the stars, the tiny lizards doing push-ups in the shade, cooling themselves. And coming back to Tucson, laughing at the ranks of saguaro cacti, crowding together in the sun like an army of crotchety old men, arguing.
Then, she had followed him into the Air Force, where she had labored under the triple burden of being the daughter of a high-ranking officer, a brilliant scientist and a stunningly beautiful woman. And again he had watched, tongue-tied, unable to help. She had balanced being a scientist and warrior quite well, and had vastly overcompensated for the other factors, becoming an excellent officer but isolating herself from those around her, going it alone.
But now their relationship had changed again in the last few years, since she had joined the SGC and truly come into her own. It was clear that here she had found her place, and knew she had done it completely on her own merit. He, on the other hand, wasn't in the military any more, at least not in any real manner. George had managed to swing an 'indefinite leave' for him, so when he did return to Earth he still could lean a bit on his rank, and still had some of his security clearances, especially with respect to the SGC, but for all intents and purposes he was no longer a member of the military.
And then there was the Tok'ra thing.
Truth be told, he did miss the simplicity of the military life on Earth. Simplicity, that was rich. Back then, organizing and ordering hundreds if not thousands of troops through the sand in the Middle East seemed enough of a challenge, and he'd wondered at the Admirals who ran the Pacific Fleet during World War II. But now, he had the memories of two thousand of years of resistance against the Goa'uld, from small actions to one or two solar system-spanning battles. And he and Selmac were currently part of the planning of guerrilla actions on dozens of worlds, plus they helped to keep track of the infiltration of dozens of Goa'uld strongholds. One small action on one blue planet in his past seemed like playing with toy soldiers as a kid. And as much as he missed Earth, and his friends, and Sam, he knew he could never go back. Not after tasting the life of a Tok'ra.
Sam ... He loved to come back and visit her. He was so proud of her. A cliché, he knew, but what father had such a daughter? Yeah, her social life was a bit stunted, and that Jonas character! What a jerk. But even when he had been pretty worried about her career during those lame 'satellite' cover years, he had been proud of her. And he relished having future opportunities to work with her and her team against the Goa'uld.
The plane finally leveled off, and the cabin quieted down enough for conversations to resume.
She looked up from her examination of the floor, a haunted look darkening her eyes. He shivered, to see such a look of pain on her face.
He leaned forward towards her, and gathered her hands in his, and gave her his best sympathetic look. At least he hoped it was sympathetic.
"Using that hand thing's a bitch, isn't it? Me, I still prefer the feel of a MP-5."
She just looked at him, kinda chewed on her lower lip and shook her head. Okay, maybe a bit more sensitivity. Yeah, she was a soldier, but a soldier in very strange circumstances.
"Samantha. Please, talk to me. Is it your ability to use Goa'uld technology? Believe me, I understand how strange all this must seem."
She gave him a wry smile, and nodded slightly. That was better. She sat up and leaned back against the bulkhead, and put her hand up to rub the back of her neck, twisting her head. He heard a pop even over the noise of the engines. She winced.
"I guess so, Dad. Do you realize it's been just about a year since Jolinar blended with me? Sometimes it feels as if it were a bizarre dream, or some weird sci-fi movie I saw as a kid. 'Invasion of the Parasites.' But then something like this will happen, or I'll experience a particularly vivid flash of memory. And I wonder what I've become. You should have seen the looks the Colonel and Daniel gave me after I used the hand device on Seth. They were wondering what I've become as well."
Jacob squinted and nodded slightly to her, encouraging her to continue.
"On the one hand, I can see, as can everyone else, how useful these skills are; being able to detect naquadah and the presence of Goa'uld. And the knowledge she gave me has certainly come in handy once or twice. But the things I occasionally remember, Dad — the atrocities, the feelings, the hatred, the love ... the pain." She paused, and looked at him. "You, at least, still have Selmac to help you through all of the strangeness, you have her wisdom to fall back upon."
"That isn't always the advantage you would think, Sam. However, I think, and Selmac agrees, that if anyone can handle this, you can. You are as strong as anyone else I've ever met, and I'm not just saying that because I'm your dad. And your friends, teammates and colleagues don't wonder what you have become. You're still Captain Samantha Carter, brilliant astrophysicist and Air Force officer. You've just had an upgrade, is all."
Sam laughed, a true, genuine laugh, causing the rest of the team in the front of the cabin to turn and look.
"See, Sam? Look at your teammates. They trust you, they care for you, and they value you. You *should* worry about acquiring more power, and you should respect it as you would any dangerous weapon. But you don't need to fear it. And those who know you won't fear you. They know you could do nothing but use these abilities responsibly. That's how I raised you, that's how you're trained, and that's who you are."
Sam took a deep breath. "Yes, I know that intellectually. Easier said then done, though." She shook her head slightly. "Wow, Dad. You sound like you've been thinking a lot about this recently. That's quite the pep talk. "
"What are fathers for?"
"Uh-huh," she grinned. "Is Selmac in there, coaching you?"
Jacob grimaced. "No, she's not saying much at all these days."
"What do you mean?"
"We had a fight, of sorts."
"Oh, you know."
"Mark. Of course. But there must be more going on between you and Selmac than just a fight about Mark. She's barely come to the surface at all on this visit, and only when necessary. And I haven't seen you chuckle over an internal comment since you arrived."
Oh, yeah, that's his Sam. Right to the point.
"It's not much. You know how infuriating I can be. She's just mad."
"Really. I would think a two thousand year old symbiote would have dealt with a lot of obstinate hosts."
Jacob gave a short snort of laughter, and shook his head. Sam caught his eye again and continued.
"And you don't want to talk to the other Tok'ra about issues with Selmac, right? They are all much more conditioned to trust the symbiotes implicitly. You don't have that. I know where you're coming from, Dad."
If you tell Captain Carter, you might find it easier to talk to Mark later.
Jacob jumped slightly.
"She picks the damnedest times ... "
And so Jacob slowly began to tell Sam about the fight, surprising himself by even touching on his old fears in 'Nam. Sam showed some surprise at that, but not as much as he expected. During this slow and halting recitation, Sam never said a word, but she took his hands again, across the small space separating them. Apparently, having Selmac as a soul mate *was* helping him; he found this confession easier than he expected.
"But through it all, Selmac has been treating me like a kid. As if being two thousand years old has taught her everything. Her hosts have been parents, but always prior to the blending, not while she's been their symbiote. So she has their memories, but hasn't actually lived through it herself. I've seen those memories, Sam. There are an infinite number of ways to screw up being a parent."
"You resent her."
Jacob looked up, surprised, to see her eyes locked onto his. He disentangled one hand from hers, rubbed his forehead tiredly, and nodded slightly.
"And you fear her."
He reclaimed his other hand and put his head down into his cupped hands, and nodded slightly again.
"And you love her."
He jerked his head up, unable to stifle the smile that came with her comment. Love her? The ancient, crotchety, opinionated, sneaky old snake? Yeah, he guess he did. He raised an eyebrow, and nodded again.
"You have to talk about this with her."
"God dammit, I was a Brigadier General in the Air Force, for Christ's sake! Why is everyone all of a sudden telling me that I have to talk about my feelings? That I have to confront my emotions, like I were a little kid? And what, you think she's not listening?"
Sam laughed delightedly. Jacob shook his head, feeling a little stupid.
"So, are you going to be okay, kid?"
Sam nodded slightly. "And you, Dad?"
Jacob paused, and took a long, detailed look at his daughter. He loved her so much. How could he put himself, her, Selmac and the son to whom he hadn't spoken in years through such pain? If Mark had grown into half the person Sam was, he couldn't *not* know him. There must be a way to build a bridge back to his son. There *must* be. He took a long, slow, deep breath.
"Come to San Diego with me?"
Sam closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. When she opened them again, he could see the faintest glisten of tears in their corners.
"You've got to be kidding me, right? Of course I'll come!" She leaned in and gave him a bear hug. He returned it. And happened to look towards the front of the plane, where Daniel was looking at his feet, trying to hide a smile. Jack wasn't so shy, he had a goofy grin plastered all over his face. Teal'c just had his eyebrow raised, as usual. Jacob smiled back at them, and hugged Sam all the harder.
They broke apart, and Jacob gestured towards the front of the plane. "Why don't you go join your team. I still have some work to do back here."
Sam nodded, and tried to surreptitiously wipe a tear from her eye. She got up, and as she started forward, Jacob caught her elbow. She turned back around.
"That's what daughters are for," she smiled, turned and walked towards the others. Jack turned back to Daniel, gave him a slight punch on the arm and started in with "A Jaffa, a Marine, and the Unas walk into a bar ..."
Jacob chuckled, shook his head, and sat back again, eyes closed.
And there are many ways to do it right, Jacob.
Do what right?
Be a good parent. Samantha is a fine young woman, you should be very proud of her.
You think I'm not?
Of course you are, I can feel that, but I'm telling you anyway. You should be very proud of Captain Carter.
Yeah, yeah. He paused, and examined her emotions more carefully. She sure was feeling smug. Had she known about his conflicting feelings about her all along? Hmph.
So if you can dredge all of this wisdom out of my emotional morass, why didn't you tell me everything I just told Sam?
Because you wouldn't have heard it from me, you would have resisted it. You had to hear it from someone external, or figure it out for yourself. I am the last person you would have believed. Also, I was still realizing some of it, as you spoke to Samantha. Most of my previous symbiotes had deep reservations to the idea of having a symbiote, knowing how close the relationship must perforce be. Having a symbiote as old as I is daunting. However, in you the reservations, the fears, run deeper than in any other. Surprising, really, given your military background and your early training in subsuming yourself for the good of the team. But perhaps not so surprising, given the history of both your country and your species since the banishment of Ra.
What can I say? I'm just a stubborn old coot. But I can see now that my reactions back on the Hreeve planet, and since then, weren't so much to the situation, but to my fears of you. Which you didn't help, by the way, with that little headache you gave me.
Yes. I am truly sorry about that. It was not intentional. You can be infuriating. And this new enlightenment doesn't relieve you of the responsibility of how you reacted, Jacob.
Yes, I know that. How can I make it up to you? What on earth could I do?
Besides a reconciliation with Mark and taking out Setesh? What on Earth indeed.
We've been eating rations, it seems, for months. Introduce me to the cuisines of Earth. Your memories show a stunning diversity of cultures here, all with different cuisines. Let us explore them.
Uh, okay. That will give me an opportunity to introduce you to ice cream headaches. But only if you do me a favor.
A favor? This is *your* apology.
Well, yes, but this is a favor for both of us. You'll have to crank up my metabolism, if you want me to fit back through the Stargate when we're done.
He felt the amusement spread throughout his body, and sighed in relief. It was *good* to have her back.
Jacob, there is still one aspect to this on which I am not entirely clear. If you felt so strongly near the beginning of your career that what the military was doing was suspect, why did you remain in the Air Force after Vietnam?
Jacob considered that, chewing on the inside of his cheek.
There were a bunch of reasons, I guess. Simple expediency — the country was going through some rough times when we returned, and it seemed easier to stay in than face that. I was in pretty rough shape at the end of 'Nam. I sure missed some great times, I'm told, by making that decision. But I had a wife and family to support. And I thought that maybe I could change things from the inside, you know? Make sure that it never happened again. As I rose through the ranks, I started to understand the logic that led to Vietnam, and some of it was valid. But some of it was not, and I thought if I could maintain that perspective, then maybe I could do some good.
I understand. A laudable sentiment.
He nodded and opened his eyes, and glanced towards the others. They had settled back in for the flight. Daniel was flipping through some tome or another, Sam was making notes, Jack had dozed off, his baseball cap twisted down over his eyes, and Teal'c was meditating. Jacob looked down and examined his hands — and the wedding band still on his left hand. He had given some thought over the years to removing it, but with his arthritic knuckles, he just couldn't bear the thought of having it cut off. And he had felt that it would be the equivalent of 'declaring' himself single again, something he felt no need to do. On the rare occasions where its presence mattered at all, the explanation of being a widower with enlarged knuckles had been accepted gracefully.
But his knuckles had been slowly returning to normal size since the blending. And a ring had no special significance among the Tok'ra. In his self-reflective state, he slowly was coming to realize that he had kept it on as an expression of his independence from Selmac, his continued loyalty to Earth.
He slowly began to work it off.
That isn't necessary, you know.
He continued to work at it, though.
I'll obviously be back, if Mark will see me, and even if he won't. Sam is here, George is here, and I'm still the liaison to the Tau'ri. But I'm Tok'ra now, Selmac. I *do* have to do this.
Her acceptance floated through his mind as the ring came off. He squinted to see if he could still read the inscription. No, but it didn't matter. And it wasn't anything out of the ordinary for a wedding band. Just a simple 'A - J.' He reached over to his gear and pulled out a leather boot-lace, threaded it through the ring, and placed them in his pocket.
As the car slowly rolled to a stop in front of Mark's house, Jacob turned to Sam.
"There's one thing I forgot to ask, Sam. How did you explain to Mark my being alive — much less healthy — after you called him to come to my deathbed?"
Sam put the car in 'park,' and turned towards him.
"I had to think about it, but I figured the truth, mostly, would be safest. I told him you were given a new, experimental treatment by a Dr. Selmac. I just skipped over the part about her being a symbiote."
Jacob barked out a short laugh.
"That way, if you slip up and mention Selmac, you'll have a plausible excuse."
"Very clever. Let's go and get this over with."
Easy for you to say. I've been demoted! Doctor indeed!
Jacob smiled, but then sobered. Would Mark forgive him after all of this time? His stomach was roiling as badly as it did before embarking on a dangerous mission.
Just give him a chance to meet you halfway. That's all you can do.
He and Sam got out of the car, and slowly made their way up the sidewalk to Mark's yellow house. Jacob paused, looking at it, and clenched his jaw. Sam stopped beside him, and gave him an intense 'you okay?' look. In response, he pulled her into a hug.
As they broke apart, she stayed down on the sidewalk while he stepped up onto the stoop, glanced back at her and knocked on the door. If Mark wouldn't see him, at least Jacob still had Sam.
The door opened, framing Mark, who had a stunned look on his face. Jacob opened his arms, and took a step forward; it was one of the hardest things he'd ever done. And to his vast relief, after a brief pause, Mark stepped up into the hug.
The feeling of relief almost overwhelmed Jacob. He heard something else inside, and pulled back, to see his granddaughter peering up at him from the hallway. He smiled, and leaned down to pick her up. She looked just like Allison. He turned again to grin at Sam and carried the child into the house.
Selmac watched Jacob play with the younger child, the male toddler, while Samantha tickled the daughter over on the couch. Mark, although he still appeared to be a bit uncomfortable, attempted a joke, which brought a broad smile to Jacob's face. Selmac felt herself relax totally for the first time since the trip to the Hreeve homeworld. The pure, unadulterated happiness which radiated from Jacob was almost overpowering. Yup, she'd have to do this more often.
His quiet comment surprised her, she wasn't expecting any of his attention for hours. You are most welcome. This is what symbiotes are for.
No, this was far above and beyond the call of duty. I nearly lost my son, and my grandkids forever, Selmac. You gave me back my family.
He paused, and she could sense his resolve hardening.
Selmac, I'm ready.
For what? And watch the baby. He's going for the glass!
Jacob leaned over and rescued the threatened glass of lemonade, and then stood up, and clapped his son on the shoulder. "I'll be right back," he told Mark.
Mark nodded, and Jacob walked out the French doors onto the back deck, and settled down onto a bench.
I'm ready to end this artificial separation between us. I'm ready to give you complete access to everything I have cluttering this old mind of mine. I'm ready to commit fully to this thing we have, without reservations. Except I still reserve the right to tell you when you're full of it.
Gracious, Jacob. You're about to totally destroy all of my long-held convictions that you are a stubborn, abrupt, infuriating old curmudgeon.
Hey, anything to keep you guessing.
Selmac let her amusement, and her agreement, bubble through their emotions. Shall we return to your family?
As they entered the house again, Selmac checked the location of Mark and the kids, flashed her eyes briefly at Samantha, and winked. Samantha's face broke out into a grin, and she walked over and gave her father a big hug.
"It's great to have you back, Dad. And thanks, Selmac, " she whispered. Selmac and Jacob squeezed her back, content.
And in complete agreement.
My memory prompts on the Gulf War came from
- a page at Mt. Holyoke.
- A page suggesting that the U.S. is guilty of war crimes in Iraq.
- A Summary of United Nations Agreements on Human Rights