CHAPTER EIGHT

Egeria could tell that something was wrong when she saw Daniel the next day. He seemed distracted and a little nervous. Something appeared to be preying upon his mind, and she wondered what it was. At last, she decided to find out.

"You appear troubled again, my Daniel," she remarked.

He glanced at her. Since getting up this morning, he'd been trying to figure out how he was going to go about doing what he'd decided to do. How could he even broach the subject? Where should he start?

The archeologist drew in a deep breath, knowing that he had to start somewhere. "I, um, have been thinking about something."

"Oh? What?"

"I've been thinking about . . . about your host. You said her name was Arria."

Egeria frowned slightly. "Yes."

"You said that she was a willing host, unlike my wife, who was taken against her will. Some Goa'uld I met claimed that nothing of the host survives, but I know that isn't true. I know that, when the Goa'uld inside my wife was trying to kill me, Sha're must have fought her, tried to keep her from doing it."

Egeria studied Daniel's expression. "You wish to know if any of my host's consciousness survives? It does. I can feel her presence. If I listen, I can hear her thoughts. She is aware, Daniel."

"Do you listen to her thoughts often?"

"Only on rare occasions and not in quite some time. It is distracting."

"I see." Daniel looked away, his gaze going off into the garden.

Egeria frowned again. "You are displeased."

Daniel got up and walked away a few paces. He was trying not to let this conversation get to him, to keep it from getting personal, but it was impossible. It touched on things that were too deep in his heart.

"You have to understand that this is very personal to me, Egeria," he said, "because of what happened to my wife. For all the time that Goa'uld was in control of her, she was a slave, far more a slave than any of the servants on this planet. Her body was used against her will to do terrible things. She had no voice, no control at all of her own life. She was utterly powerless. I know that you're not like the one who took control of her, but, every time I think about the host of a Goa'uld, I wish that. . . ."

"You could free them, like you wanted to free your wife."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the ground. "Yes. I'm sorry if that makes you angry."

Egeria got to her feet. "It does not anger me, Daniel. I can understand why you feel that way." She circled around to face him. "I swear to you that I have never subjugated Arria the way that the Goa'uld within your wife did. Though I have sometimes sensed her displeasure over something I have done, I have never heard her crying out in denial, begging me to stop. I have never used her body to commit the terrible acts that my fellow Goa'uld do."

Daniel finally looked at Egeria. "Have you ever talked to her?"

"Talked to my host?"

"Yes. An actual conversation with her, the way that you and I talk."

Egeria's frown was back. "No. I have never considered doing such a thing. I have spoken to her only once, after I entered her body. I soothed her fear and told her that she would soon be well."

Daniel was happy to know that at least Egeria had done that. "May I ask why you've never talked to her since then?"

"I simply saw no need. Some Goa'uld delight in speaking to their hosts, cruelly taunting them. I would never do such a thing, and I saw no purpose in speaking to her for any other reason."

Daniel looked at her. "If I were you, I would see things a lot differently."

Egeria was now curious. "How so?"

Daniel returned to his seat. "Well, if I was a symbiote inside a host, I would see that person as more than just a physical body I inhabited. I mean, it would be a person I was actually living inside, someone to whom my mind was physically connected. No other relationship could be more intimate than that. I'd want to know my host's thoughts and opinions, his emotions. I'd want him to be my friend and companion, a person I could share my most personal thoughts and feelings with, knowing that he was doing the same. In my opinion, it could be quite a rewarding and emotionally fulfilling relationship. No matter where I was, I would never truly be alone. I would always have a friend."

What Egeria's reply would have been to his statement was something that Daniel didn't find out. At that moment, a servant came up to them and told the Goa'uld queen that there was a problem. Deciding that she needed to attend to it herself, Egeria bid Daniel goodbye and left the garden.

With a sigh, the archeologist went to the library. He hoped that Egeria would start thinking about what he said, but he had no illusions that she'd immediately jump right in and start talking and listening to her host. What Daniel was proposing was pretty much a foreign concept to the Goa'uld, who, for all these millennia, did things one way and one way only: take over control of the host's body and act like it was theirs to do with as they pleased. Having an actual conversation with the host would be a step toward admitting that the body they inhabited was not their exclusive property.

And then there was the ego thing. One of the universal character traits of all the Goa'uld was their ego, their belief that they were superior to all other races. Heck, even many of the Tok'ra Daniel had met displayed an air of superiority. Though Egeria may have said that she believed Daniel was more intelligent than some of her race, she obviously still had an inflated opinion of herself. If she didn't, that temple wouldn't exist.

But Daniel knew that, eventually, Egeria would take that step, and that knowledge gave him hope that she'd really think about what he said and not dismiss it.


It had been two days since Daniel's conversation with Egeria, and the Goa'uld queen had not been able to get his words out of her head. Any other Goa'uld would have laughed at the mere suggestion, pointing out that the mind and will of the host were utterly unimportant. They'd say that the body of the host belonged to the symbiote, claimed by the right that a superior being had to take what it wanted.

But was that really true? Egeria herself had looked upon the body she inhabited as belonging to her even though she knew that it was another's by birth. Because she had thought that way, she'd seen no reason to talk with the host.

Yet again, Daniel's words returned to Egeria's thoughts. She had never considered that kind of relationship with her host. It had never even entered her mind. That was not the way of the Goa'uld. A host was a vessel used to enable a Goa'uld to live outside their natural watery habitat. In all the millennia that had passed since the Goa'uld first began taking hosts, none had ever had the kind of relationship with their host that Daniel had suggested.

What would it be like to have that kind of relationship? There had been many times when Egeria felt alone, when she had thought it would be nice to have someone with whom she could share her thoughts and feelings in complete privacy and confidence. The Goa'uld did not share such things with each other, for they believed that to do so would show weakness and give the other an advantage over them.

In this time that she had known Daniel, Egeria had shared private things with him, but there were many things that she would not tell even him. But with a host all things would remain secret. A host could not speak of them to another, so they would stay private.

Egeria mentally shook her head. No. It was foolishness for her to even think about this. She should drive it out of her mind and let it trouble her no further.

Entering the sitting room, Egeria went to the window. She could see Daniel in the garden, sitting on one of the benches with several scrolls beside him, busily writing something down. She smiled as she watched him, seeing the look of intense concentration on his face. The basket beside him most likely contained his lunch, but it sat untouched. She'd come to realize that, when Daniel was working, he often forgot to eat, his mind focusing entirely upon his task.

Deciding that she should go tell him to eat, Egeria went outside.

"I see that, yet again, the palace cook's talents are going to waste on you," she remarked teasingly.

Daniel blinked and looked up at her. "What?"

"You are not eating."

The archeologist glanced down at his lunch. "Oh. I was kind of busy."

"I am sure that the translation will still be there for you to do after you eat."

Daniel considered telling Egeria that she sounded just like a human mother, but thought better of it. Putting aside the scroll he'd been translating, he picked up the basket and began to eat.

Egeria settled upon another bench. "So, what is this thing that you are translating today?"

"It appears to be a philosophical treatise on the human psyche, the conscious versus the unconscious."

Egeria frowned slightly, not quite understanding. "Explain."

"Well, on one hand, we have our conscious thoughts and desires, the things we know that we want and believe. But there are also the unconscious needs and desires, the parts of ourselves that can influence our actions and behavior without us actually realizing it or thinking about why. Sometimes, that second thing can have a greater influence on our behavior than the first thing."

Egeria nodded. "Yes, I believe I see what you mean."

Daniel paused for several seconds. For the last two days, he'd been dying to know if Egeria had given any thought to what he'd said. He was hesitant to ask because he didn't want to push. Yet if he didn't find out what Egeria's thoughts were, how could he continue on the course he'd chosen to take?

Deciding to take the chance, Daniel finally said, "I was wondering if, you, um . . . have thought about what I said the last time we talked."

"Yes, I have thought about it, but it is not the way of the Goa'uld to converse with their hosts."

Daniel couldn't prevent himself from feeling disappointment even though he'd known that this was probably not going to be that easy.

"I see," he murmured, staring down at the remains of his lunch. "Egeria, may I ask you something?"

"Of course."

Daniel met her eyes. "What if I was taken over by a Goa'uld? If that happened, I would be subjugated by the symbiote that possessed my body. I'd have no voice, no ability at all to control my own fate. Would you think that was all right? Would you think that's the way it should be?"

Egeria's mind immediately cried a resounding, 'No!' Just the thought of the brilliant mind and caring heart of the man before her being imprisoned by the will of a Goa'uld made her ill. It would be so horribly wrong, a travesty.

"No. I would not think it was all right. It would be a terrible thing."

Daniel just stared at her. He didn't have to say anything, for she knew what he was thinking. If it would be wrong for a Goa'uld to repress his mind and will, how was it any less wrong for her to do the same thing to her host?

Feeling a spark of irritation, Egeria stood and walked away several yards. Her Goa'uld instincts and countless generations of genetic memory were fighting against the clear and simple wisdom of what Daniel was conveying, yet, as much as that part of her might want to reject his words, she knew that he had a point. Ever since she brought humans to this world to build her little kingdom, she had made an effort to be a wise and just ruler, just as she had counseled Numa to be, yet there was one human in her domain who had even less rights, less freedom than the slaves here. Should she not at least talk to Arria, listen to the woman's thoughts? Would there really be any harm in that?

Egeria turned back to the man sitting on the bench. "Please understand, Daniel, that what you are asking is not an easy thing."

"I know, Egeria. I do understand that, and I want you to know that just the fact that you're actually considering it, that you're even listening to me, makes me feel a lot of respect for you. I know what the Goa'uld are like. I've seen plenty of demonstrations of their egos, their belief that they are superior to all other living things. There is not another Goa'uld in this galaxy who would have the wisdom and courage to even consider doing this."

It pleased Egeria immensely that Daniel would think those things about her. Of course, some Goa'uld would say that he was merely flattering her to get what he wanted, but she could see the sincerity in his eyes. He truly meant what he was saying.

Egeria came to the bench he sat upon, and he removed the scrolls and laid them on the path so that she could sit beside him.

"I must admit that I feel some measure of trepidation," the Goa'uld queen said.

Daniel smiled. "I can understand that. I probably would, too, in your position. Would you like me to leave?"

"No. Stay."

Her gaze drifting off into the garden, Egeria turned her attention inward, to the presence that was always there with her, yet had been nothing more than something in the background of her consciousness.

'Arria?'

There was a long pause before the voice she had not heard in hundreds of years replied. 'Egeria?'

'Yes.'

'You . . . you have not talked to me in so long.'

'I know.'

'It . . . it is nice to hear you speak to me.'

Egeria became aware of an emotion that was not hers, and she realized that Arria was crying inside.

'Why do you cry?'

'Because I have been alone for so long.'

'Alone? But how can you be alone when I am always inside you?'

'You are inside me, but I am still alone. No one speaks to me, and I can speak to no one. Sometimes, I feel as if I am like someone who is dead, a spirit that no one can see or hear.'

That upset Egeria. She had not realized that Arria felt that way.

'I am sorry. I did not realize you felt like that.'

'I have heard the things Daniel said, and I have longed so deeply that you would do what he wished.'

'You have heard all of the things he said?'

'Yes. Much of the time, I pay attention to only some things that happen because I know that I have no control over any of it, but when you are with him, I listen always. He is special.'

Egeria smiled inwardly. 'Yes, he is.'

'I like him very much, as do you.'

Egeria concentrated more fully upon the emotions of her host and realized that her own desire and deep affection for Daniel were within Arria's heart as well. That pleased her, and she had the sudden desire to talk about him with her host, to share her thoughts and feelings. She put a rein on that desire.

'I must go now,' she said.

'Will you talk to me again?'

Egeria could not help but hear the desperate, lonely plea in the mental voice.

'Yes, I will talk to you again.'

'Thank you.'

The Goa'uld queen turned back to Daniel, who was staring at her intently.

"I have spoken to Arria," she told him.

A smile lit his face. "And?"

"And . . . it was not unpleasant."

Daniel's smile got bigger. "Great! Do, um . . . you think that you'll do it again sometime?"

"Yes, I believe that I will."

Daniel let out a laugh. "You have no idea how happy that makes me, Egeria."

Seeing how happy Daniel was made the Goa'uld queen glad that she had done what she did.

She got to her feet. "And, now, I must bid you good day. There are matters that require my attention."

As Egeria left the garden, Daniel was fighting not to shout aloud with delight. He felt like dancing. He actually did it. He got Egeria to talk to her host. He knew that this was just the first step, that talking to Arria was a long way from actually letting the host have any control over her body, but it was still a huge step.

Daniel was on the moon for the remainder of the day, smiling at everyone. Decimus asked about the archeologist's good mood, but he only said that something very nice had happened. He realized, however, that now would come one of the hardest parts, at least for him: being patient and waiting for Egeria to be ready to take the next step.


Daniel was still in a good mood the next day . . . that is until that afternoon, when he had an unpleasant and very puzzling run-in with Spurius. The man was coming from the kitchen, to which Daniel was going for a late lunch. The archeologist greeted him pleasantly, wishing him a good afternoon. Instead of returning the greeting, Spurius glared at him with hostility.

Perhaps he should have just let it slide and kept on walking, but Daniel didn't like the idea that one of Egeria's fellow slaves might bear some kind of grudge against him for some reason. He halted his steps.

"Spurius, I can't help but notice that you seem to have something against me. Did I do something to offend you? We've never really spoken before, so I don't know what I could have done, but if I did do something, I apologize."

The man did not react as Daniel had hoped. If anything, the depth of his hostility increased.

"Do not waste your false overtures of friendship upon me," he said. "You may have fooled everyone else here, but not me. I know the truth about you."

For a moment, Daniel almost panicked, thinking that Spurius had somehow discovered that he was from the future. But something was off. Why would knowing Daniel's secret make the man angry at him? And if he did know, wouldn't he have told Egeria? Spurius had been a palace slave for seventeen years and had a high position there. From what Daniel had heard, the man was utterly faithful to Egeria.

"I'm . . . I'm sorry, Spurius, but I don't understand what you're talking about," Daniel said.

The man took a step closer, pointing a finger at him. "There will come a day when our queen will see the truth about you as well, and then you will suffer greatly." He then strode away, leaving an extremely puzzled Daniel in his wake.

The archeologist continued to the kitchen and got something to take back to the library, though his mind was no longer on food. He thought about Spurius' words as he ate, trying to figure them out. What was the man talking about? Did he suspect that Daniel was hiding something from everyone? If that was the case, Daniel worried that Spurius might do some digging and somehow figure out the truth. But the man had said he already knew the truth.

"Um, Decimus, do you know Spurius very well?" he asked the only other occupant in the room.

The elderly man looked up from the book he was translating. "No, not extremely well. Though he is one of the senior slaves in the palace, he and I have seldom talked. I do know that he is very devoted to Egeria. It is said that he would quite willingly do anything for her. Why do you ask?"

"Uh . . . he, um, appears not to be very fond of me. I had a little encounter with him on the way to the kitchen. It wasn't very pleasant."

"Ah. Well, my young friend, if I had to make a guess, I would say that he is jealous."

Daniel's brow furrowed. "Jealous?"

Decimus smiled. "How long have you been in Egeria's service, Daniel?"

"Around three and a half of this planet's months."

"And you have been a palace slave for a month less than that, yet you now have a high position here and are living in the area of the palace for the slaves of high station. Your position has been elevated to one with greater privilege and prestige than any other slave here, except perhaps for Egeria's Lo'taur. You have gained Egeria's friendship, and she converses with you often, even sharing meals with you. She has given you money and even went so far as to change one of Estrania's laws to save your life. Do you not think that some here might resent this or be jealous?"

Daniel frowned. He had been concerned that some slaves who'd been here a lot longer would resent the fact that he got moved to those new quarters instead of one of them, but Spurius was already living in that section of the palace, so that couldn't be the reason for his hostility.

Were there others like Spurius, slaves who looked upon him like some kind of upstart who'd gained a position of privilege without earning it through years of service? Daniel hated to think that might be the case.

"Are there a lot of slaves here who resent me, Decimus?"

"There are some, far less now than there used to be. You have won over many of them, due mostly to what you have given to our queen."

Daniel's brow knit in puzzlement. "What do you mean?"

"Before you came, a smile was something we saw very rarely on Egeria's lips. She held herself apart from us, alone and without friends. Since you came, that has changed. There is happiness in her that we did not see before. She seems to find more joy in life and more interest in all things. Just yesterday, Liviana, the girl who cleans Egeria's bedchambers, was quite excited and pleased when Egeria inquired about the man to whom she is betrothed. They have been betrothed for three months, yet, until now, Egeria had done no more than give permission for Liviana to marry. This was not an isolated incident. There have been others with other servants."

"Decimus, I really doubt that has anything to do with me."

"Yet the fact remains that these things have begun to happen only now, in the months that you have been here in the palace. You have given our queen your friendship, and she has given hers to you. She no longer feels alone."

Daniel's gaze drifted away as he recalled what Egeria had told him. He knew that she probably did feel alone, a lone Goa'uld ruling a world of humans and Jaffa she could not speak to about her thoughts and feelings. That wouldn't be a problem for the average Goa'uld, but for one like Egeria, someone with the compassion that all others of her species lacked, it would be a lonely existence. He suddenly felt very sorry for her, thinking that he really wouldn't want to be in her place.

"Those few among the servants here who still resent you are those who are blinded by their jealousy," Decimus said. "They wish that they had the privileges you have gained and the attention from our queen that she gives to you. Do not concern yourself with them, Daniel. They are men and women of small minds and petty hearts."

Though Daniel still wasn't happy that there were servants here who were resentful of him, he decided that he should not let it bother him too much. After all, it's not like he was a stranger to those kinds of feelings. Steven Rayner had made no secret of his resentment of the way Professor Jordan favored him, something that Steven hadn't thought Daniel deserved, and there had been other incidents in school as well, when a teacher took a particular liking to him, and he was accused of being the teacher's pet.

That evening, Daniel was heading for his quarters when he glanced out a window and spied a flash of white within the darkness. Guessing that it might be Egeria, he changed direction and went outside. He found the Goa'uld gazing up at the stars.

"Good evening," he greeted. "Nice night."

Egeria gave him a smile. "Hello, my Daniel. I would have thought that you would have retired for the night."

"Actually, I was heading off to bed when I spotted you out here. I just thought I'd come say hello."

The Goa'uld queen's smile grew. Though a small thing, the simple act of friendship pleased her greatly. Never before had she known someone who would do something like that for her.

Daniel's eyes lifted to the stars. "When I was little, my mother and I would sometimes lie beneath the stars and talk about all the wonders that lay out there. We would make up imaginary worlds and populate them with all kinds of strange people and creatures." He smiled softly. "It was one of the happiest times of my life."

Egeria studied his profile, seeing a trace of wistfulness there. "You loved your parents a great deal."

Daniel's gaze dropped from the heavens above. "Yes, I did."

Egeria paused, then said, "I envy you for that." When Daniel looked at her questioningly, she continued. "Though a Goa'uld may harbor some emotions of affection and respect for the ones who call them 'son' or 'daughter', there are no true feelings of love, not as humans feel love. With humans, the bond between parent and child is strong. A parent will give their life for their child. A Goa'uld would give their life for no one. The only real love they feel is for themselves. Most Goa'uld believe that the love humans feel is a weakness, yet I know that it is not. The love your race feels gives you strength to do things that would seem impossible." She paused again. "In that way, you are far superior to the Goa'uld."

Surprised by the admission, Daniel didn't say anything.

Egeria turned back to the sky. "I feel privileged that I have found the ability to feel love as well," she murmured. "It has opened my eyes to many things to which others of my race will be forever blind."

Again, Daniel was surprised. Though Egeria had already said that she'd felt affection for some humans and friendship for both him and Numa Pompilius, to say what she just did was quite a confession. Yes, Apophis had told Daniel that he loved Amaunet, but the archeologist had known that any feelings Apophis felt for his queen could not compare to what Daniel and Sha're had shared, to what humans throughout time had felt for their spouses, their families and friends, love that would make them sacrifice their own happiness, their own lives for the sake of the ones they loved.

But what about Egeria? What would she sacrifice for someone she loved? She was, after all, still a Goa'uld, and self-preservation was the most important thing to one of her race.

That thought brought another one back to Daniel's mind, one that he'd pondered many times since learning about the existence of Egeria.

"Egeria, there's something I've wondered about for a while now. I'm hesitant to ask about it because it's, well . . . kind of a personal question."

Egeria walked over to a bench and sat down. "Please ask it. I will not be offended."

Daniel took a seat on the bench. "As I've already said, I've come to know the Goa'uld pretty well. I know the way most of them are and why they are that way. I know about your genetic knowledge, how it is passed on through the queen to all her offspring. I know that the viewpoints of the Goa'uld, their feelings about things and their lust for power, all stem from that genetic knowledge. Knowing that, I have to wonder. . . ."

"Wonder what, my Daniel?"

Daniel met her eyes. "Why you're so different. You're not the evil, heartless things that the other Goa'uld are. You feel kindness, and compassion, and so many other things that the others are incapable of. I'm a living example of that. If it had been any other Goa'uld here instead of you, I'd probably be dead."

Egeria was silent for so long that Daniel began to think he'd insulted her by asking that question. He was just about to apologize when she spoke.

"The truth, Daniel, is that I cannot answer your question, for I have no answer to give. For as long as I can remember, from even before I took my first host, the lust for great power was not something I felt. Yes, I wished to rule, to have human subjects, Jaffa to serve me, but what others of my kind feel, their unquenchable need for ever more power, was something I did not share. When I took my first host, I looked into her memories. I wished to see who it was whose body I inhabited. I learned much from what I saw. I saw the love she felt for her family, the grief she suffered over the death of her sister, the way she overcame the sorrows and hardships in her life. She was a woman of keen intelligence and great strength, and, to my surprise, I came to feel respect for her. I believe it was that which opened my eyes to your race, to the things that are admirable about humanity. Yet I know that I am alone in this. Other Goa'uld have looked into the minds and memories of their hosts and gained nothing from the experience except knowledge, and, sometimes, a measure of cruel amusement. Why I felt more is something I cannot say."

Daniel thought about what he'd just learned and had to wonder if the reason why Egeria was different was something physical, some way in which she was born different, perhaps a rare chemical or genetic anomaly. Among humans, certain chemical imbalances in the brain could alter a person's personality. Could the same be true for a Goa'uld? Could Egeria be the way she was simply because the chemical makeup of her brain was just a little different than it was in others of her species? It was an intriguing question, one that would probably never be answered.

"It grows late," Egeria said. "You should get some sleep."

Daniel rose to his feet. "Thank you for answering my question, Egeria. I appreciate it."

The Goa'uld queen nodded. She then bid him good night. She watched him leave, remaining where she was. After he was gone from sight, she turned her attention inward, suddenly feeling the desire to speak to her host again.

'Arria.'

'Egeria. I am so pleased that you are speaking to me again.'

'You heard my conversation with Daniel?'

'Yes. The host you spoke of, was she the one you were in when we met?'

'Yes. Her name was Ishala.'

'I am sorry that she died.'

Egeria did not answer. Just before she left the body of her dying host, she told Ishala how much she admired and respected the woman and that if there was any way to save her, she would do so. Ishala had replied quite pragmatically that she would have been dead many centuries ago if she had not been Egeria's host. She thanked Egeria for giving her the opportunity to see and experience things she never would have otherwise.

After the transfer was done, and Egeria was in her new host, she looked upon the dead body of her former host and grieved. It was the first time in her life that she felt that emotion. She raised a cairn over Ishala's body with her own hands, feeling that she owed the woman that much.

'Egeria?'

'Yes?'

'I am glad that you are not like the other Goa'uld. I have thought about Daniel's wife, how she must have suffered having her body enslaved by such a cruel creature, and it makes me shudder to think about how it could have been the same for me. What must she have felt when the one inside her tried to kill the man she loved, using her body to do it?'

Egeria thought about it, too. Daniel's wife probably welcomed the death that came to her, the release from that enslavement. In her position, Egeria knew that's how she would feel.

The Goa'uld queen remained outside for another hour, silently talking with her host about other things. She found that, the more she talked with Arria, the more she came to enjoy the conversation. Arria was different from Ishala in many ways. Whereas Egeria's first host was opinionated and the possessor of a bit of a hot temper, Arria was gentle and mild-tempered. Yet there was also strength within her, a quiet strength from deep inside. That Egeria had seen even before the woman became her host.

Egeria was heading for her chambers when a sudden desire took hold of her. She altered her course and went instead to the section of the palace where the slaves of higher station resided. Because of the late hour, all was quiet there. No one witnessed her stopping before a certain door and listening for a moment before carefully opening it. On silent feet, she approached the bed and gazed down at its occupant. In sleep, Daniel looked years younger, hardly more than a youth. The beauty of his peaceful face took Egeria's breath away. He was naked from the waist up, and she ran her eyes over his body, feeling desire stir within her. It would be so very easy for her to lay beside him, to breathe upon his parted lips with the chemical that all Goa'uld queens possessed. Then he would be hers. She imagined him kissing her, his hands gliding over her form, his body mating with hers. It would be so glorious. But it would also be wrong. She wanted him more than she had ever wanted any man, but, more than his body, she wanted his heart. She wanted him to love her.

It was in that moment that Egeria realized the truth about her feelings for Daniel. She was in love with him, with her whole heart and soul, more than she had loved anyone or anything in her life.

Stunned by the realization, Egeria left Daniel's quarters and went to her own. She went onto the balcony and stared out into the night. She heard her host trying to talk to her. It was the first time Arria had attempted to initiate contact. For a moment, Egeria ignored it, wanting to be alone with her thoughts, but she at last decided to hear what the woman had to say.

'What is it, Arria?'

'I can feel your emotions,' her host confessed.

Egeria frowned internally. Though a Goa'uld could easily feel the emotions of the person they inhabited if they so desired, they usually blocked their own emotions from their host, believing that the host had no right to be privy to such a private thing. The only time that changed was when the Goa'uld wanted to torment the host by letting them actually feel the pleasure the Goa'uld was experiencing while performing some evil deed.

In all the years that Ishala was her host, Egeria kept her emotions locked away from the woman. It was only in those last moments, when Ishala was dying and Egeria was preparing to leave her body that the Goa'uld queen let the woman see what she was feeling. Yet, now, Arria was saying that she could sense Egeria's emotions.

'What you feel is very strong,' Arria said.

Egeria wondered if that was the answer. Was her love for Daniel so powerful that she could not hide it from her host?

Suddenly deciding that this might not be such a bad thing, Egeria said in her mind, 'I love him.'

'Yes.'

'I have never felt like this before, not even for Numa.'

'I know.'

'I do not know what to do. I should not feel this. For a Goa'uld to love a human like this is something that should not be. It has never been so before, not in all the history of my race.'

'Then you are merely the first,' Arria stated.

'It is not that simple, Arria. As a human, Daniel will grow old and eventually die. I cannot save him from that without making him a host, something that would destroy all the things that make him who he is.' Deep sorrow took hold of Egeria. 'There can be no future for us.'

Arria did not reply. Egeria left the balcony, wishing that she was the master of her own heart and could banish this hopeless love from within it.