Disclaimer: Any characters you recognize do not belong to the authors. Some of the ideas were inspired by Xanthia Morgan's wonderful fic, Brother of My Soul.
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A/N: This story is coauthored by Rina and Shade—we hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much to everyone who posts reviews. Feedback is greatly appreciated.
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"What next, Father? Magic lessons?" Ardeth asked, suddenly remembering that they hadn't told Suleimon about Rick's developed powers.
"Yes," the king said nodding. He turned looking at Rick. Remembering the conversation he had with the adult Ardeth just two nights ago, he shook his head in wonder. Rick looked up at his father in confusion, not sure how to interpret the look on Suleimon's face, feeling certain he was in trouble for something. A little of this suspicion inadvertently showed on his face.
The man laughed. "You are not in trouble, my son. I am just amazed that you developed magic. Come, let us return to my study. I have found more of the ancient books that teach of the control of magic."
Rick breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at Ardeth as they followed Suleimon to his study. He was eager to learn how to do the amazing things he had seen his brother and father do in the past.
Both boys followed Suleimon to the study. The king gave each of them a large tome to study. "Rick, if you have difficulties with the language, ask one of us for help. It should be instinct, though, since your magic is awake."
Rick nodded, tracing the symbols on the cover of the tome in fascination. He opened the cover looking over the spells already enthralled by it. He murmured one of the phrases out loud without thinking and jumped when a gust of wind blew the shutters to the study open.
The two Med-jai exchanged a wry glance. "Be very careful what you say, Rick. Those phrases all have serious consequences." Suleimon warned, with a slight smile. "Ardeth did the same the first time he received that book."
Rick nodded, still wincing somewhat and grinned sheepishly at his twin, glad at least that he wasn't the only one to do something like that. "Thank goodness that was one of the milder spells." He closed the book gently making a mental note to check with Ardeth before reading anymore of the spells aloud until he got a better handle on what he was doing. Then he looked up at the king, slightly puzzled. "Hey, Dad, how did you know about my being able to use magic?" he asked, wondering if the king had known before he had.
Suleimon smiled. "Your older selves told me quite a few things about the future, including the fact that you needed to be trained."
Rick nodded, as he looked down at the book in his lap. He examined the hieroglyphs embossed in gold on the cover, then started slightly as he realized he could understand what it said. He looked at the cover again, puzzled, but he could clearly read the title: "Elemental Rites of the Med-jai". He scratched his head in confusion at this new ability. But in so doing, his fingertips brushed against the scar on the back of his neck. He froze as memories flashed in his mind. Looking at his younger brother through cruel eyes, hearing his own voice threaten him with death, feeling a malice with in him towards the prince and then to the older king that was not his own. Then other memories, not ones he had personally witnessed, but that the symbiote had done through previous hosts. He face paled as he seemed to watch on helplessly as people died at his hands pleading for mercy then screaming in agony as they were murdered.
Rick could distantly feel a tug against his mind as Ardeth tried to use the bond to stop the flashback. Then, a large, powerful force entered his mind. The memories of the goa'uld fought against the intrusion. The presence swept aside the remnants of the goa'uld, though, and went straight to Rick. It took mere seconds for Rick to realize that the presence was that of Suleimon, and the king was watching him with great concern.
"Come, my son, let us talk—leave your mind and speak to me face to face."
Rick seemed to gasp as the trance was broken and he found himself once again in Suleimon's study, his brother and father beside him. He blinked a few times, trying to compose himself, ashamed at how frightened he knew he must look at that moment. Finally he raised his eyes to meet the king's.
Suleimon rested a gentle hand on Rick's shoulder. "What happened, child?" he asked, nudging Rick to one side on the couch so that Ardeth was sitting on one side and the king on Rick's other side.
It took a while before Rick found his voice. Swallowing hard, he shook his head in frustration. "I was... possessed by a creature while the NID had us," he confessed quietly. "He was trying to use me so that he could escape from the sacred site undetected. But when he was caught, he threatened to kill Ardeth. It was my voice he used and my hands he intended to use. I could feel his evil presence inside me but there wasn't anything I could do to stop him." He paused, hesitant to continue.
Suleimon pulled Rick closer to his side, while Ardeth silently pressed against Rick, hoping his presence would sooth the older boy.
"Be calm, my son," Suleimon said, resting his warm hand against the back of Rick's neck. "You are safe here, and I will not let the memories continue to assault you."
"It's not just my memories," he whispered. "He may be gone, but I can still remember everything he did in his life, the people he slaughtered, the worlds he burned." Rick clung to their presence with him like a life raft.
"Oh, child," Suleimon's voice was full of compassion. "It will take time, Rick. But know that Ardeth and I will be with you. In time, you will be able to separate these memories from the creature from your own, and use them to help motivate you as you fulfill your duty as a Med-jai. Because of what the creature did to you, you have now seen exactly what they are capable of, and you understand why our duty is so important. For now, would you like me to put a block over those memories? This will prevent them from intruding upon your mind unless you consciously seek them out. It will wear off in several years, but it will give you peace for now."
Rick nodded silently. Maybe in time these visions would motivate him, but he did not think he had the strength to deal with them yet. He wrapped his arms around Suleimon as tears slid down his cheeks, but he didn't care if he looked weak anymore. He was only filled with relief that his father didn't see him as such. "Thank you, Dad," he breathed, his shoulders shuddering slightly.
Suleimon hugged Rick tightly, then slid an arm free to rest it on Rick's forehead. "Sleep, Rick. When you wake up, the memories will be dealt with," he promised, using a touch of magic to send his adopted son into a deep sleep.
Rick slumped against his grasp, his face smooth as his muscles relaxed. He looked quite young, much younger than his age. The king looked from Rick to Ardeth to see if he would be alright. He knew Rick's time with the creature inside must have taken its toll on him as well.
Ardeth looked up at Suleimon. "Is there anything I can do to help, Father?" he asked quietly, not letting go of Rick's hand.
Suleimon smiled sadly. "Only to be there for your brother as I know you already are. Not much else but time will heal these wounds. You have had to grow a great deal in the past few months, but you are stronger than you think." He reached over to include Ardeth in his embrace, holding both of his sons close.
Ardeth clung to his father and brother, closing his eyes to shut out the world for just a few minutes.
Suleimon sent peace and comfort through their bond to both Rick and Ardeth. He himself drew comfort from having seen his sons as men knowing that the wounds would heal and that his boys were already well on their way to becoming great leaders for the Med-jai, that some good would come from their pain.
It didn't take long for Ardeth to fall asleep also, with the influence coming over both of his bonds. Suleimon took advantage of this to build the block in Rick's mind.
After he was finished he had one of the workers help him to bring the boys to the room, laying them in their beds. He would bring their new books to the room later. Rick slept soundly despite this, exhausted both mentally and physically.
Ardeth refused to be separated from his brother even in sleep—when they tried to put him in his own bed, he shifted restlessly and tried to wake up. Once they moved him to Rick's bed he calmed right down, latching onto the older boy's hand.
Suleimon smiled as he watched his sons sleep for a moment. "They certainly are twins," he breathed, wondering why the thought hadn't occurred to him sooner. After a while he silently left their bedroom and gave instructions to the staff at the palace that the boys should be allowed to sleep until they awoke on their own.
Ardeth woke up a few minutes before his brother, and smiled when he found that they were in the same bed. He relaxed against the soft mattress, thinking through what had happened. It was time to put all of that in the past, and enjoy the time with his family.
Rick turned over in his sleep. "I didn't do it, Evy, I swear..." he mumbled before as he was slowly coming around. Then when he realized he was in his bedroom, he sighed in relief.
Ardeth snickered. "What were you dreaming about, my brother?" he asked, sliding out of the bed and throwing the curtains open to let in the sunlight.
Rick shook his head, half of the dream already faded from his mind. "I don't really remember. Evy was just lecturing on about how I was responsible for something..." he thought hard trying to remember. "Oh yeah," he said with a devilish grin as it came to him. "I had moved one of the museum displays into a different room. It was a pretty large display, and it was taking her a while to figure out how I had gotten it in there and how she was going to get it back out again."
The boy laughed. "That sounds like a lot of fun. Next time we go to Cairo, we ought to try something like that."
Rick laughed as he walked over to a water basin splashing some water on his face. "We don't necessarily have to wait," he suggested, his expression one of deep thought. "I mean one of your cousins already wants to kill us but you have a few more to go before we really have to worry."
Ardeth thought about that. "That might work. We would have to switch their clothes bureau's—that would confuse them so much!"
"That would work!" Rick laughed, approving the idea.
"Let's go do it—everyone still thinks we're asleep, and it's late enough that they're all helping in the kitchens!"
"Perfect!" Rick followed his brother as they snuck out the door and down the hallways, carefully looking over their shoulders to make sure no one saw them out of their room. 'Which cousin should we target?' he asked through their bond once they reached the part of the palace where their bedrooms were located.
'Those two rooms! Let's switch everything, not just the clothes bureau!' Ardeth suggested, grinning.
'I like your style!' Rick enthused as they carefully entered the room. Fortunately, this pair of rooms was joined by large doors. Rick and Ardeth quickly set about the work of switching the furniture.
Deciding that this was an excellent opportunity for Rick to practice with his powers, Ardeth taught him the spell for moving large objects. Their prank quickly degenerated into a race to see who could get everything switched first.
Just as they were moving the last piece of furniture, they heard footsteps coming down the hall. Rick grimaced as he looked at Ardeth. 'Do these rooms have secret passageways too?' he asked with a slight tone of worry.
'Yes, come on, this way!' Ardeth led the way into the secret passage, carefully closing the door behind them. He led them through lots of passages, doubling back a few times to obscure the trail, before they ended up back in Ardeth's rooms. 'Quick, let's get cleaned up before someone comes to check on us!'
Rick and Ardeth both washed up as quickly as they could. They had just finished when they heard a clamoring sound resounding down the halls of the palace.
'Back in bed!' Ardeth hissed, flinging himself onto Rick's bed and tossing a blanket over the dust he hadn't been able to get off of his robes yet.
Rick also got in the bed, laying down and using every ounce of control to maintain a straight face.
Just before the door was thrown open, they heard Suleimon's deep voice interrupt the shrilling of the two girls and demand to know what was going on.
Rick wasn't sure whether to be grateful or to worry. Suleimon knew their tendency for playing pranks on their cousins, but he also had used the sleeping spell and might think they were still out. Without moving, Rick tried as hard as he could to hear what he was saying to them.
There was a brief discussion, then disgruntled mumbling from the girls as they went off. Suleimon came into the room. "You two can stop pretending to be asleep now, I sent them away."
Rick looked up sheepishly. "We appreciate you," he said with an innocent grin.
The king rolled his eyes. "I am certain you do. Now, how are you feeling? Any better?"
Rick nodded as he sat up. "Much. Thanks, Dad."
"You are welcome, my son. Now, I sent Amir to get our supper, since I don't believe it would be safe to entrust any of your cousins with your food right now. How exactly did you switch their entire rooms?"
Rick and Ardeth exchanged glances. O'Connell shuffled his feet somewhat. "Theoretically, we may have been practicing some of the new spells from our books... possibly."
Sighing heavily, Suleimon settled onto a chair. "I can see that I am going to have no end of problems now that both of you are magic-users."
"Or," Rick suggested as if he could find away to make it allowable to constantly harass the girls of the house, "we could see this as an exercise so that we're fully ready to use magic before we need to use it in battle!"
"I will consent to that, if you can convince Amir of it." Suleimon told them. "He is the one who has the final say on how much practice you are allowed. If you do too much, you will hurt yourself."
Rick looked surprised that Suleimon had even taken his suggestion seriously. "Really? It worked—I mean we can?" he quickly corrected himself.
"If I don't give my permission, you will just do it anyways, and without any supervision. Talk to Amir before you do anything else, though."
"Okay," Rick agreed nodding vigorously. He looked shocked over at Ardeth.
Ardeth was waiting at the door for Amir. Moments later, they heard footsteps. The prince opened the door a crack to confirm that it was the healer before letting him in.
Having heard from the king of what had happened earlier, he wore an amused expression to see the prince cautiously peek around the door before allowing him entrance. "I see you are being quite wary of those you permit into your bedroom. An understandable measure considering the bounty the girls have placed on your heads."
"What have they put on our heads this time?" Ardeth asked, resigned. "Is it food again? If it is, then we are safe."
Amir nodded. "I can assure you, you are both quite safe."
Rick snorted to think that he and his brother were now wanted men and no one wanted to turn them in to claim the reward.
"They promised food as the bounty the last four times I pranked them. The first time, one of the guards thought it sounded good, so he 'captured' me and brought me to them. He spread word about the food, so we only have to worry about the girls themselves." Ardeth explained, taking one of the trays from Amir.
It took a second for Rick to get his laughter under control. "Your father sent me here to discuss with you the limitations of your magic-using abilities," Amir said as he handed the other tray to Rick. "While the king has assured me that some of your pranks are allowed, other may not be, we don't want you to expend your strength harming you and possibly others in the process."
"Yes, Amir. The same rules as when I first started using magic? No more than two spells a day?" Ardeth asked, hopefully.
"That will depend on the strength of the spell you use. You have been using magic a good deal more than you are accustomed," he said to Ardeth and then turned to address Rick. "And you have been using magic for the first time in your life. You both must take it slowly or you will become weaker, not stronger."
Ardeth dropped his eyes, wincing a little. He did not want to tell Amir that he had nearly drained himself completely several times. The healer wouldn't let him do magic again for weeks if he found out.
Amir did not notice this since at the moment his eyes had been focused on Rick. "You need to consult with me when you plan to do magic. And I will not deny you your fun, but you may want to take into account that if you push yourselves too far you may not have the strength to defend yourselves when they find out and come to try and hunt you down," the healer stated with laughter in his eyes.
"Oh, don't worry, I'll be very careful to conserve enough magic so that we will always be able to defend ourselves." Ardeth told the man—that had happened to him once, and he was very careful to not let it happen again.
Rick caught what he was certain was the hint of a rather long story behind that and made a mental note to ask Ardeth about it later.
"Enjoy your supper, boys, and come to me if you have any questions about magic restrictions." Amir told them, before leaving the room.
"We are going to have fun these next few weeks," Ardeth promised Rick, as he started to eat. "We can use some of the pranks we did in the future here."
Rick's laughter was evil as he moved over to sit next to his brother and begin plotting, bringing his food and the books their father had given to them with him.
Suleimon watched his sons eat and laugh as they planned enough mischief to send the entire city complaining to him. They hadn't let the shadows of future memories destroy them, and they would be fine.