TITLE: Out of the Abyss
CATEGORY: Drama, Angst, short story
SUMMARY: AU version of 'Abyss'. What would have happened if Kanan was unable to leave Jack O'Neill and instead stayed in him?
RATING: PG-13 for mentioning of torture.
CHARACTERS: Jack O'Neill, Kanan
AUTHORS NOTES: * denotes thoughts or host/symbiote communication.

-
He slowly opened his eyes, blinking against the bright light. Tried to think. Confusion... He could hear some sort of grinding noise. The last he remembered were...glimpses...of him...no...the other. The snake, using his body to go pay some other snake...a visit. O'Neill remembered now. His headsnake...now that was not something he had ever dreamed he would say...this snake...Kanan, it called itself...what had it done? O'Neill tried to think. He remembered very little of what had happened since they left the Tok'ra tunnels. Yes, that was it...Kanan had used his body to go on some crazy mission. O'Neill felt the anger well up in him.

By now the grinding sound had ceased and O'Neill felt himself being pulled up and out of what he now realised was a sarcophagus. He also sensed The Snake waking up. He decided to ignore him...it. Someone was speaking.

"The Tok'ra is ready for questioning, my Lord."

Two Jaffa dragged him through some corridors and into a room, then walked him onto a platform. He felt himself being sucked forward and into a metallic, spider-webbed panel in the wall. Someone walked unto the platform behind him and he felt the panel turn. He now faced the room. He just had time to watch the Jaffa leave before the man before him began to speak.

"Who are you, Tok'ra?"

*Great, a Goa'uld!* O'Neill thought. "You go first."

*I believe you should let me handle this.* It was that hated, internal voice!

*I thought you just did what you wanted. Took control and surpressed me when you felt like it. Just like all the other Goa'uld. Why are you asking me for permission now?*

O'Neill felt anger, then embarassement from Kanan.

*I am not a Goa'uld! I will explain. Later. For now, it is better if you let me speak.*

*You've had your turn.* O'Neill ignored Kanan's complaints and watched as the Goa'uld...Ba'al, he realised Kanan called him...picked up a large knife from a table beside him. Ba'al then sat down on a bench, leaning back with an annoying, arrogant expression.

"You claim you do not know me?"

"Well, take no offense there, Skippy, I'm sure you're a real hot, important Goa'uld, I've just always been kind of out of the loop with the snake thing."

"I'm Ba'al. And you, Tok'ra, are obviously a coward, hiding behind your host."

"That's it? Just Ball? As in Bocce?" O'Neill refused to allow Kanan fore, even as the symbiote fumed at the Goa'uld. That was something O'Neill could understand, though.

"Do you not know the pain you will suffer for this impudence?"

*Are you crazy? He will torture us to death!* Kanan 'yelled'.

"I don't know the meaning of the word. Seriously. Impudence. What does that mean?" O'Neill said, continuing to ignore Kanan. It was getting harder - especially when he was yelling in his head.

Ba'al walked to the front of the platform and held up the knife, aimed at O'Neill. He then let go of it and it flew into O'Neill's left shoulder. As he grunted in pain, Ba'al picked up another knife.

*OK...be my guest, then. Talk to your fellow snake! See if you can do better!*

Kanan immediately took control, not bothering to hide the eye flash.

"I see you have found the courage to face me, Tok'ra...I shall begin again. Who are you?" Ba'al demanded.

"I am Kanan of the Tok'ra."

"Good. We are getting somewhere now." Ba'al raised the knife again. "Why have you come to this outpost?"

"That is of no concern for you."

Ba'al let go of the knife and it flew into O'Neill's left shoulder. Kanan surpressed a yelp of pain, and looked with defiance at the Goa'uld. Belatedly, Kanan blocked off the pain from O'Neill.

*You don't seem to be doing much better...* O'Neill observed.

*I apologize. Our blending is incomplete. I cannot shield you fully this way. The best I can do is block you out completely.* Kanan proceeded to do so, amid O'Neill's protests.

-
Later. O'Neill found himself waking up in a sarcophagus again. The top opened and two Jaffa pulled him out, then lead him to a prison cell - which immediately changed its position and became a hole in the ground. They left him there.

*Kanan? We need to talk.*

*I agree...I believe I have some things to explain. And I think maybe to apologize for.*

O'Neill mentally rolled his eyes. *Ya think?*

Kanan drew a deep breath. *I should not have surpressed you and gone here on a personal rescue mission. It was insane to hope I would succeed.*

*I thought Tok'ra didn't surpress their hosts! So you're just Goa'ulds after all...*

*No! We are not the same!* Kanan sounded enraged.

*Sure felt that way!*

*You have no idea what you are talking about! If I were a Goa'uld I would not merely have blocked you out! You would have suffered endlessly! I could cause you such pain that you do not believe!*

*See? You're considering it! You're a Goa'uld!*

*Do you really believe that? Why am I even speaking to you then?*

*You didn't before!* O'Neill considered. He did not know why he was taunting the symbiote. Not really, except he was angry. Did he really think Kanan was a Goa'uld? He had surpressed him - that was what Goa'uld did, was it not? But he had not done anything else. No matter how hard O'Neill had fought Kanan, no matter what names he had called him - and he admitted he had called him some pretty bad things - the symbiote had not retaliated.

*What did you expect me to do? I tried talking to you. Repeatedly. All you did was yelling at me and fighting me. Violently. It got to the point where I had to block you out and even surpress you, or your panic would have killed us both. I could barely complete the pseudo-blending as it was. I have not done a full blending. As abhorrent as I seem to be to you, I held off. To make it easier for you when we separate, but also because a full Tok'ra blending requires consent from both parties.*

*Good. I don't want any more of your thoughts mingling with mine than I have to. And I certainly don't want you to look at mine.*

*I still can - but I have not done so unless it was necessary. Some things still bleed through, though. Strong feelings. Opinions. Ideals. I felt your strong opposition to leaving anyone behind. I...took that to mean you would accept me returning to save Shallan.*

*OK. That was maybe a bit of a stretch right there. So now this is my fault?* O'Neill felt himself getting angrier again. Then he noticed the unfamiliar name. *Who is Shallan?*

Kanan carefully hid his thoughts, but not before O'Neill had caught a glimpse of a woman.

*Someone who helped me during my mission as an operative at Ba'al's court. Someone without whom I could not have succeeded. Someone I should have freed.* He sounded apologetic, shameful even, but there was something else there as well...

*That woman. Ba'al's slave. Shallan. You love her.* It was not a question.

Kanan was quiet for a while. *Yes. I would have brought her with me when I left, but she dared not follow. Her fear of her 'Lord' was too great. Ba'al was beginning to suspect me and I could not stay any longer and try to convince her. Ba'al would have found out about Shallan's connection to me, and Ri'jahn and I could not allow that to happen. And we had a responsibility to the Tok'ra. More than to any personal desires.*

That was a feeling O'Neill knew well. Sometimes you had to do what it took to succeed in your mission, no matter the personal costs to yourself or others.

*Why then did you return now?*

*I had given my report. I have no current mission. Indeed, given how hard it is to find new hosts and the fact that you would soon no longer tolerate me, I thought it unlikely I would be alive much longer. I would rather die than stay in an unwilling host. Thus I was no longer of any use to the Tok'ra. The only thing left that I wanted to do was to free my beloved Shallan. It was also the last wish Ri'jahn had, before he died. He was my host, then, and shared my feelings for Shallan.* Kanan was quiet for a long time.

O'Neill had sensed Kanan's deep grief before the symbiote blocked it. He did not know what to say. He was having difficulty continuing to hate him. It angered him. He wanted to go back to not knowing Kanan and just hating him.

Suddenly Kanan spoke again. *I hoped she would be safe. At least as safe as anyone can be as a Goa'uld's slave. Then, shortly after you became my host, I learned that Ba'al still harboured suspicions. He had suddenly found cause to suspect the underling that had dissappeared had stolen information - and that he had not worked alone. Ba'al certainly suspected this underling was a Tok'ra. He had begun to dig for information. I...panicked. What if he found out Shallan had helped me? I could not risk her being punished for helping me. She would be tortured endlessly. My poor, sweet Shallan...Ba'al is cruel, even for a Goa'uld, and he also has...shall we say...unusual tastes... Shallan would not be safe if he even suspected her. As I said, I panicked. I was unable to talk to you, or even complete a normal blending. Then I learned from you how important you felt it was to never leave someone behind and I...convinced myself you would understand. You still did not react to my probes when I tried to communicate with you. And so I left the Tok'ra base on my mission, telling you nothing, hoping you would have agreed. I was wrong, and I deeply apologize.*

*Why do you even care about me? I'm just a host, to use and throw away when you can get a better one.* O'Neill said, knowing it would hurt. He did not want to feel sorry for the snake. Did...not...want...to.

*Is that what you think? I care for...love...all my hosts! Even you! Despite what you think of me! I would do anything for them. For you! If there was anything I could do so you would not have to go through this, I would happily do it. I would leave you if I could, even if it meant I would die. In fact, if the Jaffa had not shot us with a zat'nik'tel, I would have left you. It would not have saved you from being taken to Ba'al and tortured, but you would have very little of my knowledge and he would eventually realise this and stop bringing you back to life for more torture. Not so whilst I am inside you. He will torture us endlessly, until we both go mad. Until we betray Shallan. You would not have had any knowledge of her to betray, were I not here. Now, we may give up information, people dear to us...is that what you want? Do you hate my kind so much that you would rather the Goa'uld capture all the Tok'ra and torture us to death? Kill those that have helped us?* Kanan hissed, angry beyond anything he had been for years. Why did this man not understand? He sensed O'Neill's anger, then shock, realisation. Accept, even perhaps.

Kanan calmed down. Yes, O'Neill was unusually hostile to the Tok'ra, but he at least had reason to hate him, Kanan, if not the other Tok'ra. And they did share a hatred of the Goa'uld. *I am sorry...that was uncalled for.*

O'Neill said nothing for a long time. Then, *I...am sorry too. Yes, I still wish I had not accepted to become your host, even if I'd die, but I realise...well, I'm probably not a very pleasant place to live. And you did save my life.*

*Only to hrow it away again.*

*Yes.* O'Neill sighed mentally. *And I would probably have agreed to it. To go together with you. For Shallan. An innocent who risked her life to fight the Goa'uld. They're the ones we're fighting for. Both our people, I guess. But you should have asked.*

*I promise I will - if we ever get the chance to choose anything again. Which doesn't seem likely.*

*I agree, but I've been in worse situations.*

*Really?*

*No, but we're not dead yet. And I'll be damned if I'm going to let a Goa'uld kill me. Or you.*

*I thought you wanted me dead. You've told me often enough. Me, the damn snake.*

O'Neill suddenly grinned. *Yes, but you're my damn snake now.* He sobered. *Is there anything we can do? Can you kill us?*

*Yes, I can kill us, but we would just be revived. I can keep the torture from you, but only to a point. Eventually it will exceed what I can block from you.*

*I understand...* O'Neill was quiet for a while again. *I can't believe I'm asking this, but...would completing the blending help?*

Kanan considered his answer. *Yes and no. It would make us stronger, mentally. We would be able to support each other better. Draw strength from each other. I would be able to protect you better, without having to completely surpress you, as I have to do now. We will cetainly be able to stay sane for longer. However, eventually that will not be enough and we will go mad from the pain. And when I pass out from the torture you will feel it, unless I manage to make you unconscious first. And you would know much of what I know. Feel what I feel. Under normal circumstances it is...not recommended to unblend after blending fully. It is very unpleasant. The former host rarely lives for long after that. The few instances I know of, the former host committed suicide within a week. They were unable to stand the solitude. If we blend during a time as this - when we have to depend so deeply on each other and then go through several cycles of being tortured to death and subsequently revived... Well, we will be blended very closely. As closely as if we had been together for years. We would not be able to unblend. Ever. We would be together for the rest of your life. Is this what you want?*

*No...yes. Hell. We're not going to get out of this one anyway! If it'll help us while we're here, I say go for it! We'll worry about the consequences later!*

Kanan smiled, for the first time since O'Neill had become his host. *I like you. It saddens me we will not have the opportunity to be together for a long time. Truly get to know each other.*

*Yeah, yeah...that's what they all say. Get it over with, before I regret it.*

*Yes, dear...*

-
When O'Neill awoke, the connection to Kanan felt subtly different. He knew him. Intimately. Besides, his head still hurt from all the extra information. He had shared much with Kanan as well. Thought, memories...things that he had never thought he would let anyone know. His deepest, darkest secrets. Strangely, he no longer minded that Kanan knew. Had he been corrupted, somehow? Had Kanan done something to him? Something to change his mind? To be honest, O'Neill did not think so. All that had happened was that he had learned more about the snake...the symbiote. He now understood his reasons, even if he did not always agree with them. He no longer hated him. And...he did not truly hate any of the Tok'ra anymore. Getting to know Kanan meant he now understood some of the reasons for why they did as they did. The history that had shaped them, and made them suspicious, arrogant, unwilling to share information. He knew there was a reason. He could even understand it. He might not always agree with them, and he sure as hell would still try to convince them to change. In some situations, at least, but he now also saw that Earth had not always gone about this the right way wither. Oh, yeah. He could absolutely understand why some of the Tok'ra reacted as they did. He sighed. He hoped Kanan was still asleep and had not listened to his thoughts. He might be ready to admit this to himself, but not to Kanan. And certainly not to anyone else.

He probed gently after the symbiote. He was still sleeping. Dreaming of better times. O'Neill decided to let him sleep. It would be nice with some solitude. As he sat up, he sensed someone in the cell with him. Someone else. He quickly turned around.

"Hi, Jack."

O'Neill looked at the man, dressed in casual clothes, no glasses, sitting on one of the built-in benches. Had he gone crazy?

"Daniel…"

"I leave, and look at the mess you get yourself into."

O'Neill looked strangely at him.

"It's good to see you." The man...apparition? that looked like Daniel, said.

"Yeah, you too." O'Neill said, cautiosly. He walked to the bench opposite Daniel and sat down. "It's a shame you're a delusion."

"No, I'm here. I'm…really here."

"Sure you are." O'Neill sensed Kanan waking up.

*What's going on? Who are you talking to?*

*Delusions. Go back to sleep.*

O'Neill took off one of his shoes and threw it at Daniel. It passed right through him and bounced back to O'Neill after hitting the wall.

"Here in the sense that my consciousness is here, if not here in the full physical flesh and blood sense, which is really…neither…here nor there. The point is, you're not imaging this..."

*That was creepy.* Kanan commented. *Why are we hallucinating...seeing your friend Daniel?*

*No idea. Thought it was just me. You see him too?*

*Yes.*

"I just tossed my shoe through you." O'Neill complained.

"Yes you did. That's because I've ascended to another plane of existence."

Daniel went on to explain how he was now pure energy, after Oma Desala had helped him ascend. It took quite a while before O'Neill (and Kanan) accepted he was not a delusion. The fact that Daniel could not help them escape, because he was not allowed to interfere, was not something O'Neill appreciated.

"Well, thanks for stopping by, then." O'Neill told Daniel, feeling annoyed.

"Ba'al is torturing you and I wasn't just gonna sit by. He really wanna know why you're here. Why the Tok'ra - Kanan - took you here."

"Well, I'm not gonna tell him. And Kanan certainly isn't."

"Nobody knows you're here...and even if they did, they'd never be able to pull off a rescue because this place is a fortress. Ba'al is just gonna keep on torturing you to death and reviving you in a sarcophagus until…he finds out what he wants. Or until you're not worth reviving any more. But you'll cease to be the Jack O'Neill we know long before that."

"And you can't help. Well, Kanan and I'll just have to manage on our own, then. Unless you can do something?"

"I can't stop Ba'al from torturing you any more than Oma could heal my radiation sickness, but…I can help you ascend. Both of you."

"So…you wanna be our Oma? Make us glowy, just like you?"

Daniel and O'Neill talked back and forth for some time. O'Neill was not happy with the answers he was getting.

Then, Kanan asked for control.

"Can we still fight the Goa'uld?"

"What?" Daniel seemed surprised.

"If we ascend - can we fight the Goa'uld or is that also not permitted?"

"I am afraid we're not allowed to interfere in any way. So that would be a no."

"Then I am not inrerested. I have...unfinished business, I believe you humans call it...with Ba'al, among others." He dipped his head and gave O'Neill control.

"Jack?"

"What the snake just said...I don't think ascension is really something for me either. At least not right now." He saw Daniel's expression. "Sorry."

O'Neill spent some more time trying to convince Daniel to help them, or at least do some recognosance for them. It was all to no avail. Apparently nothing was permitted, except help to ascend.

Eventually, they heard a sound and Daniel made himself invisible as the Jaffa came for O'Neill and Kanan again.

The Jaffa dragged them back to Ba'al, and the torture and interrogation began anew. Still they did not tell him about Shallan. They both knew it was only a matter of time before their minds and their ability to resist would give out. Would they speak before that?

-
A long time later.

After waking up in the sarcophagus - again - they were thrown back into their holding cell. The Jaffa left them and they just continued lying there quietly until they both dosed off.

-
Shallan smiled, nervously.

"He will come back soon. I cannot come with you. He will know if I do."

"You will be safe with me. Please!" Kanan pulled her closer. "I cannot bear to think of you here, alone, with that despicable Goa'uld."

"Can you not stay? He may not suspect you yet." She looked at him, her eyes begging.

Kanan's heart ached for her. How could they leave her? His host comforted him silently, sharing his feelings. Reminding him of their duty. Their mission. They could not risk their lives - or Shallan's life - because of their love for her. If only they knew with certainty she would be safe, then that was the most they could hope for.

Kanan could not truly believe she could love him. His host, maybe, if she had even met him - but not Kanan. He doubted she was truly able to separate him from the Goa'uld she served. The Goa'uld who had killed much of her family. No, Kanan did not dare hope she could love him. But he dearly wanted to free her. To make sure she was somewhere safe. If he only knew she would have a good life, then that was all he wanted. Why would she not come with them?

"Please. As you say, Ba'al shall be back very soon. If we leave now, we will be able to get away safely. But it has to be now. He suspects! I know he does. I cannot stay. Come with me!"

She shook her head.

"No. We shall be fortunate if you can flee this way. The tunnel ends near the chaapa'ai, but there will be Jaffa. You may be able to get away. I will only slow you down. I will be captured anyway. I dare not risk it." She looked at him with tears in her eyes. "Leave - if you cannot remain with me. Leave. Now, while you can."

Kanan felt his throat constrict and swallowed thickly. He pulled her close, hugging her tightly to him. Then he kissed her deeply. He whispered, so low she could barely hear him. "I love you." Then louder. "Be safe." He let go off her and ran away, quickly. Not looking back. His eyes stinging from the tears he tried to fight.

-
O'Neill slowly woke from the dream. It had been so real! Still affected by it, he suddenly saw Daniel appear, now standing over them.

"Told you I'd come back."

"If the Daniel Jackson I knew was really here…" O'Neill said, shaking the effects of the dream from him. He felt Kanan wake up as well. He was still affected by the dream, evidenced by his sadness. Suddenly O'Neill felt sorry for him and wished there was something he could do for his symbiote. He tried sending warm feelings to him, before he concentrated on Daniel again.

"I am." Daniel said.

They began a discussion about what the ascended were and were not allowed to do - and of the potential for O'Neill and Kanan to escape. Daniel was convinced ascension was their only hope, while O'Neill stubbornly believed the rest of SG-1 would find a way to save him.

"How many more times do you think you can go into that sarcophagus before it starts changing you? Or the Tok'ra...Kanan?" Daniel suddenly asked. reminding them of its effects.

O'Neill shrugged. He did not want to think about that. He felt...fear from Kanan at the mention of the sarcophagus and its possibility to change you.

"How many times has it been already? It can regenerate your body, make you strong enough to go through that all over again, but all the time, it's destroying who you are. And once that happens, you won't be able to ascend no matter how much you want to." Daniel continued.

*You wish to try this? Ascending? You think we should tell Daniel to help us?*

*There is nothing...nothing I fear more than becoming a Goa'uld! If I ascend, I will not be able to help my people, not be able to help Shallan...but if I..if I...turn...become a Goa'uld...the very thing I hate more than everything else. I would surpress my host...torture him...you...I have vast knowledge about the Tok'ra. All that would be used against them. I would be a terribly enemy and a great asset to the Goa'uld. As would any Tok'ra. No! I would rather die than allow that to happen! Ba'al will prevent that. So...I think...maybe we should try to ascend.*

*The thought of you going Goa'uld on me is not something I relish. Believe me! However, I'm sure we'll get out of here before that happens.*

*You have that much trust in your friends?*

*Yeah. They'd never let me down.*

*Daniel?*

*Well, I see what you mean, but...he wouldn't if he were the Daniel I knew! Carter and Teal'c - and Jonas - they'll save us.*

Kanan did not feel as confident as his host, but he did not want to argue. O'Neill went back to debating with Daniel, trying to convince him to help them.

"This is it! What I'm offering you is your only way out." Daniel looked frustrated that his friend did not understand.

Giving up on making Daniel help him get out, O'Neill tried another strategy.

"You're wrong about that too. I have another choice."

Daniel closed his eyes and shook his head.

"What are you talking about?"

O'Neill just looked at Daniel. Daniel again shook his head.

"No."

"Any minute, they're gonna come. Ba'al is gonna kill me again. Me and Kanan. You can make it the last time."

"Don't ask me to do that."

"You can put an end to it. We both prefer that to going crazy and betraying our friends. Everything we believe in. You know that's what'll happen if Ba'al continue this. We'd be...lucky if we should become too mad to be useful before that."

"I won't do it."

"Kanan doesn't want to turn Goa'uld. I sure as hell don't wanna be host to one. You can prevent that, Daniel."

They looked up as they heard the mechanism that would switch the cell's position. It would not be long now before the Jaffa dragged O'Neill back for more interrogation.

"I'd do it for you, and you know it." O'Neill told Daniel.

He walked over and lay down with his feet a few inches from the wall so that when it became the floor again, he wouldn't fall.

"I don't want to see this cell again, Daniel." He told his friend before the room reoriented. The Jaffa entered immediately afterwards, ushering him out of the cell and to the interrogation chamber.

Kanan gently 'hugged' his host and took over control, in order to shield him as much as possible during the interrogation.

-
The cycle repeated. When they wre again lying on the floor of their cell, they merely stayed there. They felt hopeless. After a little while, they just curled up and went to sleep, both of them.

The sleep was far too short, and soon they were back to being tortured. Ba'al sat, leaning back in his chair, grinning. He looked relaxed and rested. This somehow made O'Neill hate the Goa'uld even more. Bastard! He was not sure if it was him or Kanan who thought it. The difference between them seemed to be fading.

"What was your mission, Tok'ra?" Ba'al began.

"No mission." O'Neill said. He just wanted to go back to sleep.

"Ah, the host! No doubt the wretched Tok'ra is too scared - or too weak - to face me!" Ba'al grinned wider. "So, did you come here to steal my lo'tar? Do not look so surprised. I have discovered that is what you were trying to do. Did you think a slave could know my secrets?" He picked up a knife, pointing it at O'Neill. " There's something else you're hiding from me."

"When are you gonna end this?" O'Neill almost whispered.

"If you tell me what I wish to know, I will end this."

Kanan took over control.

"We'll never tell you! Slimy snake!"

Ba'al looked strangely at him.

"Taking after your host, hmm? No wonder the Tok'ra are such loosers! Perhaps it is time for the sarcophagus again already. You need to regain your strength."

-
Later. Back in the cell again. O'Neill was in control, easing Kanan's fear he was becoming Goa'uld. He looked up, asking hopefully.

"Daniel?"

"I'm here."

O'Neill sighed and looked straight ahead as Daniel stepped to his side.

"You were gone."

"I know, I'm sorry, there was something I had to do, but, I'm back now and I promise I'll stay with you 'till this is over."

"It'll never be over. Not until Kanan and I go crazy or tell Ba'al about Shallan. That we...I mean Kanan...came back for her. That he loves her. Ba'al will kill her. Torture her to death. For us...him...whatever. You can't let us do that. Please."

"You won't have to. It's almost over, Jack."

Daniel went on to explain that Sam, Teal'c, and Jonas had found a way to help. They had told Lord Yu the location of Ba'al's secret outpost, and he was now attacking. It would be the diversion O'Neill and Kanan needed to get out.

Soon they heard the sound of an explosion and the lights flickered in the cell. Daniel walked closer to O'Neill and looked up.

"This is it. All you ever wanted was a fighting chance, Jack, now you have it. If anyone can make it out of here, you can. You and Kanan." Daniel said.

The room started to change its orientation again. When O'Neill looked back, he noticed Daniel was no longer there.

"Daniel?!"

O'Neill waited for the wall to become the floor. Afterwards, he listened. He heard nothing. The light flickered again. They decided to walk out. Standing in the opening, Kanan sensed a symbiote approaching and they turned to see a Jaffa. Kanan quickly took control and attacked the surprised Jaffa, overpowering him and taking his zat'nik'tel.

*Nice. Well done.*

*Thank you.* Kanan almost smiled. *Now we find Shallan.*

*Agreed.*

They made their way through the halls until they found the lo'tar in a cell. Seeing them, she backed away, frightened.

Kanan held out his hand.

"Come with me."

"No. He'll stop us." She looked fearful.

*We're not leaving without her. Grab her and pull her with you or give me control and let me do it.*

Kanan grabbed Shallan's hand.

"No, he won't stop us. Not this time. We're here to save you. Come on."

He began walking, not letting go of her hand. Looking around her, she nervously followed. They left the cell, running quickly down the hallway and made their way outside.

No Jaffa was there - they were all occupied with the imminent attack, so O'Neill/Kanan and Shallan got to the Stargate without any problems. Not having a GDO, they went to the Tok'ra base Kanan was stationed on, stopping briefly on another planet, in order to throw off any followers.

The trip was uneventful, and soon they found themselves on the Tok'ra base planet, where other Tok'ra took care of them. Shallan was taken to be debriefed, as was Kanan.

The Tok'ra were very angry at Kanan. The way they saw it, he had abducted a host - one that was only semi-willing at best - alienated the Tau'ri further, and at the same time potentially jeopardized the Tok'ra. All because Kanan was in love. The Tok'ra did not approve of someone risking all that purely for personal gain, even if it had meant saving an innocent. There was simply too much at stake for that.

O'Neill could understand what they meant - he might even have agreed under certain cirumstances, but he was still furious with the Tok'ra. Both he and Kanan said they wanted to be left alone, and would deal with all of it - including SGC - when they were no longer suffering from the aftereffects of the sarcophagus. This was something many of the Tok'ra had experienced, and the knew well how O'Neill and Kanan were feeling. Their wish was accepted and they were released to their own quarters.

-

Home. The feeling was strong from Kanan. O'Neill pondered it. Some part of him felt it too - though he missed the grey walls of the SGC instead. No, screw that! He didn't miss those grey corridors. He missed what SGC was - the people, what they did - not the place. For the first time he actually considered if he could get used to blue corridors instead? They were kinda pretty if he had to be honest. He immediately felt shocked. He decided he must be more affected by the withdrawal symptoms, than he had expected. Or maybe it was because of the blending with Kanan.

Kanan was being very quiet. He left O'Neill in control the whole time, unless someone needed to talk to him. It was obvious he was feeling guilty about what he had done.

The Tok'ra had given them some medicine to counter-act some of the withdrawal symptoms, but they were still feeling pretty bad. However, as long as they were lying still on their bed, it was manageable. This meant there was little to do exept sleep and think. They had already slept more than enough, so that left thinking - or talking. Neither Kanan nor O'Neill wanted to spend any length of time with their own thoughts as the only company. They were both getting antsy. Perhaps it was time to talk.

*Um...so what happens now?*

*We wait until the withdrawal symptoms recide, give the council a full debriefing, get yelled at, go to the Tau'ri, get yelled at, then...I do not know.*

O'Neill grinned at his symbiote. *You're starting to remind me of me. I'm not sure if I love it or hate it.*

Kanan sighed. *Host and symbiote influense each other. It is to be expected. We are blended. That, combined with the situation it happened in, means we cannot unblend. We are too closely intertwined. Leaving you would kill you.*

*Yeah, you mentioned that.*

*I have been thinking. If you still find the thought of me remaining in you repulsive, then there may be an option. Something which may work. I am uncertain.*

*Yes? And what is that?* O'Neill was no longer sure if he actually wanted Kanan to leave or not. Though he admitted readily to himself he doubted he would make a good Tok'ra. Living here. Surrounded by snakes...symbiotes. He could feel them. All the time. It was unnerving.

*I could perhaps do what Jolinar did. It might be dangerous for you, if I do not get it perfectly right, but...*

*What! You're not talking about committing suicide, are you?* He felt shocked by the idea. Afraid, yes. He knew the usual result from a symbiote dying inside someone. But that was not all of it. He suddenly realised...he did not want Kanan to die.

*I assure you, I would only do it if you feel you cannot learn to accept me. And I would take the greatest care not to release any poison. Of course, you may still find you are unable to live without a symbiote. Alone. But I am willing to do it if that is your wish. Shallan is safe now. I was told she would be staying here.*

*I absolutely forbid you to ever mention something like that again! Are you crazy? Yeah, I might not have chosen this, but I sure as hell don't want you to die for me! You're not getting out of this so easy! I...we can do this. And there's Shallan. Yes. Your damn emotions are bleeding through to me. I'm falling for her. Hard. And I'm not willing to just give up on her. I can't believe you are. Not really. Not after going on this crazy-ass mission. And she must feel something for your slimy self since she was willing to defy Ba'al to help you. I may not be as young and sexy as your previous host, but I say we give it a shot!*

*I...am honoured that you will remain my host. After what I did to you.*

*Yeah, well. Just don't do something like that again. I realise...and don't you ever tell anyone I said this, or I'm going to rip you out and tie you into a knot, so help me...but, I realise that I have often been a bit narrow-minded when it comes to the Tok'ra. I do know you're not Goa'uld. And I realise you're actually interested in helping. You have chosen to live a hard life on the run - when you could have lived in luxury and had slaves. I know that. Doesn't mean I don't think you're pompous, arrogant bastards from time to time. But so are humans, and you're actually very human. Thoughts, emotions, desires...they don't feel alien to me at all. Which in some ways surprise me more than anything.*

*Thank you for telling me this. I will not betray your honesty. And some of the Tok'ra do have a tendency to be a little arrogant from time to time. Like my friend Thoran...or especially Delek, but I don't think you've met him. I will tell you something in return. The arrogance sometimes covers uncertainty and fear of rejection. We are very much aware of how most people we meet feel about us. The fact that...that biologically we are Goa'uld, however much we deny it and try to be different. We cannot change what we are physically, and many people react with fear and hatred to us. It hurts when they look at you with revulsion and pretending you are better than they are helps. Well, a little, at least.*

*I agree there are errors on both sides. Perhaps, we could become a kind of...um...ambassador or liasion, perhaps. Like Jacob, but staying at the SGC. Maybe it would help get our people to begin working together better. And I will try to suggest that the exchange program Marty wanted is actually started. I think it was my fault it didn't get up and running. I told myself it was because I didn't trust you - and that you'd just make anyone going to the tunnels into hosts. But I realise now the real reason probably was I didn't want anyone to get to know each other well enough to become friends. You cannot keep hating someone if you know them.*

*That is a good plan - and so is your decision to pursue Shallan. You are correct...I want nothing more than for her to become ours.*

Their decisions made, Kanan and O'Neill went back to sleep. They would relax a little more before starting their new life. Together...as friends.