All right, folks, here's something I bet you didn't see coming. Remember that old fic of mine, Shadow Stargate Redone? Well, it's dead, and this isn't it. Before you click away, however, I would ask that you give this a chance. I was reading a fic called "Embers" by Vathara and, while reading that, this bit popped into my head almost fully written. I realize that Embers isn't either Stargate OR Yu-Gi-Oh, but it wasn't the plot that inspired as much as the writing style. I hope Vathara keeps writing, she's such an awesome inspiration.
This is set ten years after the end of the YGO anime. As such, there are spoilers for those who haven't dared see the end (like I haven't). As far as Stargate is concerned, this is before Danny Ascended the first time.
Many thanks to my usual beta JK and sometimes-beta Eria for helping me beat this thing into submission. Also thanks to Lizeth for helping me with the name.
Warnings... there might be several. Beware of allusions to rape, not-quite-allusions to torture, and me just putting Yugi through hell. No pairings to be heard of, either.
I don't own Stargate or Yu-Gi-Oh. All I'm hoping to get off of this work is warm and fuzzy feelings.
Yugi trembled on his knees before the Goa'uld, gulping back his tears as he thought back to his family. His family would never know what had happened to him, would only know that he had vanished without a trace. Jounouchi would rant at the Air Force, demand answers, but to no avail. He could see them in his mind's eye, Jounouchi crying into Anzu's shoulder as the brunette held him, letting her own tears fall free as she tried to comfort the blonde duelist. Honda would be still as death, Bakura only a faint, sympathetic presence, and Otogi… who knew. Maybe Otogi, with his classified Defense contracts, would know. Seto would, certainly – no security system on the planet would stop him. Would he share that knowledge?
"You may leave us," a cold, deep, echoing voice directed the armored guards on either side of the linguist. Yugi couldn't even look up at the dilapidated body before him, at the eyes holding a hint of gold behind their depths. He didn't know why he'd been singled out for this. Surely the aging Goa'uld would find one of the soldiers more useful. They were fit, vital, and certainly not ugly. For him, the slight linguist with no other discernable skills, to be chosen as a Goa'uld host…
The young man clenched his fists in the dirt. He had experience with others in his mind, even if Atem was ten years in the past. He thought he might be able to fight, when it counted. Maybe if he surprised the Goa'uld, he could buy his friends a few precious seconds to escape. But there would be no escape for him. He could see it now, centuries of being trapped in his own mind. How had Bakura been able to stand it for just the few years he'd been at the Thief King's mercy?
The sound of heavy footsteps retreated to the hallway, the door sliding shut in their wake. Yugi didn't dare look behind him, knowing that any movement against the aged man before him would end only in his death. But wasn't death a better alternative than what he was facing?
"You can stand," the Goa'uld said, his voice still echoing but not commanding. "I'm not so stuck on formality that you have to kneel. We're going to be very well acquainted after all, right?"
Yugi looked up, regarding the elderly face, a smile so easily plastered on it. "If you have decided," he said carefully, "Why haven't you acted?" Not that he minded being in control of his own body for a few more moments. The longer he stalled, the more likely it was that help would come. The SGC would certainly send help, and if he was lucky, SG-1 would be available. All he had to do was hope.
The Goa'uld struggled to sit upright in his sickbed. "Because I'm a different sort of Goa'uld," he said simply. "I'm giving you a choice. Be my host of your own will. Or join your friends in the execution grounds."
That… wasn't what Yugi had been expecting. "You're giving me a choice?" he repeated dubiously, rocking back on his heels. "But why would you do that?"
"I like my hosts compliant," the Goa'uld shrugged. "When they're not fighting, it's so much quieter in my head. Besides…" And Yugi would swear that the elderly man winked. "Sometimes, I reward my hosts for their good behavior."
The linguist blinked. "You take willing hosts…" His eyes widened at the impossibility. "You're-!"
A trembling finger was pressed to lips. "I'll need your answer. The guards aren't nearly as patient." But beyond the alien smirk was gentle honesty, so much different than the arrogance that was Yggdrasil. He might have been a minor lord in Anubis' service, but he still possessed the air of one who believed he ruled the universe. This unknown Goa'uld was more like…
Yugi swallowed. "I want your word," he dared, knowing that the Goa'uld had all the freedom to lie. "Don't betray my friends. Claim that I didn't hold that level of competence, that this was a training exercise, I don't care what your excuse is." He lowered his eyes, hiding the tears that were gathering in them, praying that the other couldn't see his trembling hands. It was a trial to speak without his voice breaking, knowing what he was willingly giving up. "But please," he whispered, "Don't betray them."
The Goa'uld regarded him somberly. "I will do what I can. But I cannot promise more than that."
The tears fell, but Yugi wiped them away determinedly. "All right. I agree. What do I do?"
"Just come forward, lean over, and close your eyes."
Yugi rose to trembling knees, tripping over the few steps to the Goa'uld's bed. Leaning over like this, the man looked so frail. Sunken eyes, thin limbs… Even if the Goa'uld were stronger than normal humans, it didn't seem like it would take much for Yugi to press his hands just so…
…and then have to deal with the angry guards outside. Yugi shook away those thoughts. Besides, if he was right, then this Goa'uld was more than he appeared.
Golden eyes seemed to smile, despite all things. "Thank you," the alien whispered. Yugi closed his eyes to block out that expression, deceptively kind as it was. He felt weak hands on his head guiding him downwards, trusting that he would not break away. And Yugi wouldn't. He'd promised not to.
The Goa'uld moved him so that their faces were inches apart, breaths mingling together in the space between them. Yugi clenched his fists in the bedspread, trying to focus on that and not what was to come. He didn't want to feel gentle fingers prying his mouth open. He wanted to remember the times before, when he'd had a kind soul-partner that would never dare to do what he was inviting this alien to do now.
Atem, Yugi moaned inside, grieving his partner.
And then there was pain, Yugi choking around something that forced its way through the back of his throat. He jerked backwards reflexively but it was too late, now-limp hands thudding softly to the mattress. The linguist didn't have to look to know that the other was dead, no longer having alien strength to support it. He had his own problems, however. The Goa'uld was in his head and already he could feel it dampening his consciousness, shoving him out of control with far more force than Atem had ever used. Yugi was crying, though his eyes no longer showed it.
The Goa'uld used his body to rise, dusting dirt from his pants disdainfully. Thank you for not fighting, he told the grieving man inside. Now that there is no chance we will be overheard, I will confirm your suspicions. I am the Tok'ra spy in Yggdrasil's ranks. And as soon as I am recalled, I will return your form to you.
Yugi willed his consciousness into his soul room, settling on the plushie-strewn bed morosely. Just remember your promise.
Yes. I will do what I can to spare the Taur'i. And as for my name… The Goa'uld approached the doors and opened them with an impatient jab at the controls. "I have taken this boy as my host," he declared, voice confirming his words indisputably. "Dispose of my former host with the reverence you would have for your gods."
"Yes, my lord." The guards saluted and walked past, unperturbed by the change of face. And, if Yugi was any expert on the Tok'ra, his new occupant would have gone through hosts far faster than any other Goa'uld.
… I am Amemait, the Goa'uld finished. Now then, he thought brightly, heading for the wardrobe room and the attendants waiting there, let's get dressed. We have an appearance in Yggdrasil's court.
How SG-1 got stuck with these missions, Jack groused as he was kneeling on yet another golden floor in front of yet another Goa'uld System Lord, he would chalk up to sheer bad luck. It seemed SG-1 was the team that got stuck doing the stupid missions, including rescuing another team that had gotten caught. It seemed, by the bloodstains on the floor mere inches from soiling the Colonel's pants, they'd arrived too late. He could only pray that the System Lord had been merciful.
By the cruel smirk playing on gold-painted lips, SG-5 had suffered. Jack beat down his fury with patience born of experience. He would get out of this, he swore. He'd get revenge for Lieutenant Grace, Captain Ratchet, and Major Irin, as well as Dr. Mutou. The kind young man, barely out of college, had been recommended by one of Daniel's contacts as the best when it came to Ancient Egyptian, on par with Daniel himself. If Jack was feeling angry at this, his archaeologist had to be fuming. Not to mention that it would be Daniel informing Sugoroku that his grandson wouldn't be coming home.
"And it seems SG-1, true to Taur'i sensibilities, has fallen into my web." The black hair tied back with trailing golden ribbons, the golden circlet holding Yggdrasil's symbol against the man's forehead, the golden eyes gleaming with anticipation… Yggdrasil looked every bit the god he proclaimed himself to be. Jack willed himself not to glance away. Doing so would yield the advantage, show that he'd given up. The Colonel wouldn't give the bastard the satisfaction. "Will you be more forthcoming than your companions, I wonder?"
"Not really," Jack drawled. I'm just glad Teal'c's back home. He'd be dead already. "But I'm sure you knew that much."
"Of course." Yggdrasil glanced at something behind them, his smirk becoming a genuine smile. "But I am not without a backup plan." The Goa'uld rose to greet the person that had come in behind them. "Welcome, my dear. I had feared you would be absent at these glorious moments."
Jack didn't dare look behind him, dreading what he would see. There wasn't enough blood for all of them, he realized sickeningly. I thought they'd cleaned some up, to make it more bearable for their "gods". But they revel in death, I should have guessed…
Yugi Mutou walked into view, no longer clad in SGC's uniform. He wore an outfit of pale tan and dark sand, tunic and pants much like that Ancient Egyptian nobility had worn, much more tasteful than Yggdrasil's glaring ensemble of earthy leaves and blood reds. Decking his arms, throat, and forehead were golden bands, incorporating the tree branch that was Yggdrasil's symbol into their designs artfully. Jack could have appreciated the skill it took to craft them, if not for the fact that he had already half-risen to his feet without thinking.
"Mutou!" he snapped, echoing Daniel's shocked murmur, Sam's choked sob. "Mutou, tell me you're still in there!" It was a hopeless plea, he knew. One of the Jaffa ringing the room stepped forward and struck his legs hard, sending him back to his knees.
"Kneel before your gods!" the warrior reproached.
"Yeah, yeah," Jack groused, rubbing the abused muscles as much as he dared. "I get the point." He leveled a glare at the boy who was no longer his responsibility, except maybe to grant a merciful death. It was the least he could do…
Mutou's body was smiling, tracing Yggrasil's chin with a loving hand. "I wouldn't have missed this for anything," he murmured endearingly, voice echoing like only a Goa'uld's could. Jack thought he was going to be sick. "I only wish you had granted me the female. These male bodies are getting… boring."
"She took her own life," Yggdrasil informed him regretfully. "But we will make due, as we always have."
Jack couldn't tear his eyes away from the two, no matter how his stomach was roiling sympathetically. At least Grace didn't suffer, he told himself, a small comfort.
Firmly plastered to the System Lord's side, the Goa'uld in Mutou's body sought out Jack's gaze… and winked.
"Unfortunately," the unknown Goa'uld sighed, "We have had bad luck this time. My host was new to the Taur'i's SGC. He did not have access to their sensitive information. We will have to gain it from elsewhere."
It took all of Jack's training to keep his surprise from his face, although he traded glances with Sam, next to him, and Daniel, the last in their little line of those condemned to a fate worse than death. But Mutou was a full member of SG-5. That meant he had his own GDO and knew their code, as well as ways to get to Earth since he knew his code wouldn't work after we'd confirmed they'd been captured. That Goa'uld would know that, too.
Jacob's words before they'd departed suddenly struck him. "I'm not sure how reliable this intel is," the Tok'ra had warned them, the dialing Stargate rumbling in the background. "But Selmac thinks he remembers that we sent a spy into Yggdrasil's midst. Nothing has been heard from her in centuries, it is likely that she's been found… but if Faizah and Amemait could survive this long, they may be able to help you. Amemait might not be obvious but she will know you for what you are and she will help you, where she can."
Hot damn, Jack thought, too stunned to move. Mutou must have an incredible amount of luck. And if that little wink was what I thought it was…
The Colonel glanced sideways, caught Sam's glance. She flashed a quick hand sign, too quick for Yggdrasil to catch… hopefully. If they were wrong and the unknown Goa'uld saw them, they were worse than dead.
I saw it too. Sam blinked deliberately and glanced at Mutou. Another hand sign. Orders?
Jack signed wait, watch. "So, Yggdrasil, friend of yours?" he drawled.
"You will not speak of my wife in that tone!" the System Lord warned him. "Lady Amemait, no matter her form, will always be dear to me, far more than your pathetic lives."
Wife. Terrific. Even if she was in a male host, Amemait was Yggdrasil's wife. That made her loyalties unclear, and Jack hated that.
"You know the opinions of those lower than us have never bothered me," Amemait crooned sweetly, turning her husband's face towards her own. "Let us be finished with the filth and attend to important matters, hm?"
And then faster than the eye could follow a dagger had slashed Yggdrasil's throat, Amemait's eyes blazing golden fire. Her chest heaved once before her breathing was wrested back under control and she glared at the still-stunned Jaffa ringing the room.
"The filth has been disposed of," she said matter-of-factly. "And for the record… being his wife sucked. Being female sucked. I like being a male, it's sooo much better."
SG-1 could only stare along with the rest of the Jaffa. "Er, Amemait…" a shocked Jack began.
Amemait sighed. "We'd better get out of here before these bad boys get their senses back," he said matter-of-factly, claiming Yggdrasil's ribbon device and a zat for himself. The zat went into good use, downing many of the Jaffa who only just began to bring their weapons to bear. Jack, Sam, and Daniel grappled with the rest, coming out the winners without much trouble.
"So," Jack said, not quite pointing his appropriated zat at their tentative ally. "I thought the Tok'ra didn't take unwilling hosts."
Amemait tilted his head thoughtfully. "Yugi was unwilling," he allowed. "But he guessed at what I was, and I promised to do what I could to help, so he agreed. When I get back to my people I will relinquish his body back to him."
"Let's hear it for ourselves," Daniel demanded. It wasn't like they could trust him, exactly. He could easily fake Mutou's personality to gain trust. But it was worth a shot.
"Let's do that on the move," Amemait advised. "The Stargate is a few rooms down, Yggdrasil wanted to have escape close at hand. But I do know of your Iris and thought this would help," he added as an afterthought, producing a GDO from the folds of his tunic. Jack accepted the device and indicated for the maybe-Tok'ra to precede him into the corridor.
They got to the Stargate without incident. Sam guarded the door, Jack guarded Amemait, and Daniel dialed for home.
"You didn't think to grab a radio, did you?" Jack asked as an afterthought. Amemait produced it from his shirt, handing it to Jack without any signs of reluctance. He'd been more cooperative than any Tok'ra SG-1 had ever worked with, Jacob and Selmac aside.
The Stargate connected, the blue wormhole splashing out before stabilizing into the familiar puddle of water. Jack entered SG-1's code, then pressed the button on his radio. "Hi General, did you miss us?"
"What's the situation, Colonel?" Hammond asked wearily.
"We're not under fire – yet. Tell Selmac we might have found his Tok'ra, he killed Yggdrasil but good. Most of SG-5 is dead, we have no injuries, we're just waiting for the okay to come home." Jack rattled it off like the morning news.
"The iris is open, come on home," Hammond replied. "Jacob's waiting in the briefing room."
Amemait didn't seem to mind that most of the guns in the briefing room were pointed at him. He was leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head, eyes closed and seemingly unconcerned about the goings-on around him. SG-1 was currently dropping off their mission gear and would be back in just a moment, which left the Tok'ra alone with General Hammond and Jacob Carter. Yugi, a silent presence in the back of his mind, only spoke up long enough to inform him that Jacob was another Tok'ra.
Amemait knew Selmac very well. Although, from the glances his elder was shooting his way, Selmac wasn't certain that he was who he claimed to be.
Such a shame, the younger thought. There was one surefire way to convince him, though.
"So, elder brother," Amemait began, grinning at his sibling. Nevermind that the last host Selmac had been in was female, so far as he knew. Selmac was in a male now so Amemait would refer to him as such. "Whatever happened to that nest of sand vipers you were trying to raise? Or wait, that was your host, wasn't it?" he corrected. "I know you hate those things almost as much as Faizah did."
Selmac started, looking closely at him. "How do you know of that?" he demanded.
He had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. Honestly? "I know you're not dumb, brother. It was only us and our hosts when you were bitten by a viper and your host realized that you had been right after all." Amemait leaned closer, as close to a human could get to purring as was possible. "I do hope you helped relocate them to a safer environment." He'd been sent out on his assignment shortly after that incident and never did get to see what happened.
"It really is you," Selmac breathed, shoulders slumping from relief. "Why did you stop contacting us, little sister? I spoke to the council on many occasions and they claimed not to have heard from you, not for these past three centuries."
"Little brother," Amemait corrected tolerantly. Tok'ra shifted hosts and sometimes genders very often, so it wasn't unusual for them to get confused. "And I don't know what you've been told, but I've been sending reports all these years. The council's the one that never wrote back."
"We did shift locations many times," Selmac allowed. "Perhaps that is why. We will ask the council when we return."
Their conversation was cut short by the entrance of SG-1, now dressed in the base's casual uniform. Jack and Sam saluted General Hammond, Teal'c nodded respectfully, and Daniel voiced his greeting before they all took their seats. Amemait leaned forward in his chair, no longer interested in feigning disinterest.
"All right," Hammond began, looking meaningfully at Selmac. "You've confirmed Amemait's identity, then?"
SG-1 scrutinized the two Tok'ra closely. Neither of them seemed fazed, Selmac nodding. "Yes. We agreed, before parting, that only the two of us would know the story of the sand vipers. If we ever had to prove our identities, we would ask each other of that. I am reasonably sure that Amemait is indeed who sits before us."
"I trust your judgment," Hammond said, then turned to Amemait. "Can we speak to Dr. Mutou?"
Amemait prodded the quiet presence at the back of his mind. Hey, you there. Want to come out to play?
Yugi seemed suspiciously hopeful. It seemed, the Tok'ra sighed, that his host didn't quite realize what being a Tok'ra meant. You never hung out around Selmac very often, huh?
No, the boy admitted. I only joined the SGC a few weeks ago. This mission was my first.
Amemait couldn't help his wince. That's some luck you have there. Go share it with everyone else. And he retreated, leaving a disoriented Yugi in control. The young man blinked, shaking his head slowly. He raised his hand, clenched it, just to make sure he could.
"Yugi?" Daniel asked cautiously, attracting the boy's attention. He jerked, looking at the archaeologist with wide eyes. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Yugi said, voice barely a whisper. He cleared his throat, then nodded. "I just didn't believe him, when he said he'd give me control. It seemed too good to be true…"
"It's all right, son," Hammond said gently. "Please tell us what happened."
"Yes, General." Yugi closed his eyes, sorting events into order. "The mission began like it was supposed to. SG-5, including myself, went to the planet to investigate the ruins. We found a primitive tribe living there, of Aztec descent I'd guess. The language sounded similar. We accepted an invitation to join the tribe for dinner, but I think it was a trap. I passed out after eating and woke up in a holding cell. We were all taken before Yggdrasil." He couldn't look at the General. "Yggdrasil said Lieutenant Grace looked perfect for what he wished, which I guess was to be Amemait's host. Grace attacked a Jaffa and was killed."
"I guess that counts as suicide," Jack murmured.
"Yggdrasil looked angry, then pointed at me, and I was dragged to Amemait's chamber." Yugi grimaced. "Amemait sent out the guards and gave me the choice of being his host or dying. He said… that if I was willing, if I didn't fight, he'd 'reward' me." And what did you mean by that? he thought to the alert presence in his head.
If we hadn't escaped, I'd still have given you control when we wouldn't have been observed, Amemait answered. It would have only been fair, right?
Yugi shrugged. "I made him promise to help my friends, and when he agreed…" He swallowed hard.
"You don't have to say," Hammond told him. "We can guess." He looked at Jack. "What happened with your team?"
"Pretty much the same as Yugi said," Jack responded glibly. "The locals were way too nice, we didn't even notice that a few cargo ships had landed until we'd fallen into their trap. By the time we got to Yggdrasil, the rest of SG-5 was already dead. Then Ame walked in, did things I'm going to have nightmares about –"
"You should have felt it from this end," Yugi muttered.
"- And then Ame pulled as neat an assassination as I'd ever seen. It had the Jaffa stunned stupid long enough for us to dispose of them. And then we came back," Jack finished.
Ame? The voice in the back of Yugi's head was amused. How does he get from the Egyptian devourer of souls to "rain" in your language?
Yugi couldn't help his snicker.
"Something funny about that?"Hammond asked him, bemused.
"You know that ame means rain, right?" Yugi echoed to Jack. "He's amused."
It wasn't exactly the same, Yugi reflected. Atem had had a much different presence in the back of his mind, a dark humor compared to Amemait's light amusement. And he was still scared, frightened that what the Tok'ra had promised was false. That he would end up trapped in his own mind, unable to even do so much as twitch a finger on his own. But he'd faced much worse than that and survived. He could master his fear and enjoy his freedom while he had it.
At the same time… he'd been so alone, even with all of his friends. It was nice, he admitted privately to himself. Even if the other in his head wasn't Atem, was someone he was afraid of, it was nice to not be alone.
He buried those thoughts as deeply as he could.
"It's a lot better than calling him Amemait," Jack said practically. "Too many syllables. Selmac's lucky his name's not very long or else he'd suffer the same fate."
"Thanks," Jacob said dryly, only distinguishable from Selmac by their voices.
"Is that all?" Hammond asked, only a hint of humor in his voice.
Yugi thought back over his story, then nodded. "Yes, General."
"Yeah," Jack affirmed.
"Then I want both of your written reports on this in the morning," Hammond ordered. "Yugi, you're to see Doctor Frasier, get checked over."
"There's one more question," Jacob asked, looking at Yugi. There was a brief flash of gold before Selmac spoke. "Dr. Mutou. Are you willing to remain Amemait's host?"
Now that was a question. "I don't know," he answered honestly. "Ame seems to be one of you, he gave me back control when he was asked… but I'm scared that he won't. If I give him control again, will I get it back?"
Amemait was silent in his head, listening intently.
Yugi shook his head, clasping his trembling hands on the desk in front of him. "I know you can get him out if he does that. That's the only reason I'm not panicking. But I want some time to talk to him, get to know him." I don't want to be alone again. "I'll give him a few days, see how we get along. I'll let you know after that." If I can.
Selmac inclined his head. "As you wish. If Amemait is the same as the sister I once knew, he will meet your expectations."
May I? Amemait asked suddenly. I just have a question that's best coming directly from me.
Yugi trembled, but nodded. Go ahead. The best chance to see if Amemait was a Tok'ra of his word was sooner rather than later.
The Tok'ra took control as gently as he could, nudging Yugi out of control rather than that first initial shove. "Speaking of that," he asked lightly, shocking everyone with the suddenness of the switch. "I was wondering something, Selmac. We're siblings, right?"
Bewildered, the elder man nodded.
"And Sam's your daughter."
"My host's, yes." Now Selmac was truly puzzled.
"Does that make her my niece?"
Sam choked, Jack patting her on the back until she stopped coughing. Selmac looked scandalized, while the rest of the room was laughing. Well, as much as Teal'c could laugh.
That's what you wanted to ask? Yugi asked incredulously.
I'm sure you were thinking of it too! Amemait defended.
Not really. But the linguist was amused.
"Dismissed," Hammond told them, bemused. "Dr. Mutou, don't forget to go to the infirmary."
Yugi wanted to hold his breath but, lacking control of his lungs, he knew it was impossible. He was scared, he was sure Amemait would feel it, but he wanted his body back in his control.
Relax, the Tok'ra assured him, relinquishing his hold on Yugi's body. I'll convince you I'm not a bad guy yet.
He took his deep breath, holding it until he was sure it wouldn't rattle uncomfortably in his throat from the lingering terror before releasing it slowly. "Yes, General," he responded, standing and bowing as was the custom from his home.
"As far as I can tell, aside from your… guest, you're good to go," Doctor Janet Frasier declared, tugging off her gloves and tossing them in the general direction of the garbage can. "I think you're even better off than when you left," she added thoughtfully. "I just want you to go to the mess and get something to eat. I don't know when the last time you had a meal was but now that you have two people to support in there," and she tapped Yugi's forehead gently, "it's better safe than sorry."
"Yes, Doctor." Yugi pulled on the smallest SGC uniform someone could scrounge up for him in a moment's notice. He wasn't quite as short as he'd been in high school but he still barely broke 5'3'', which meant that he was still looking up at everyone. A few uniforms had to be special ordered in his size, which at the moment were in his on-base quarters. Faintly he wished he could keep the clothing he'd been wearing before. He'd liked how that shirt had fit, and the pants had been incredibly comfortable.
Should we stop by your rooms first? Ame suggested, seeing how Yugi had to roll up the sleeves and legs of the uniform for fear of tripping over them.
By this time, after all the random comments his visitor had been making during Janet's examination, Yugi barely flinched at the words in his head. We could, he mused, but I'm really hungry.
Whatever you'd like. And there was silence once again in his mind, although Yugi could tell that Ame was still very much alert. If the linguist had to guess, he'd say the Tok'ra was giving him as much space as was possible when two were sharing a mind.
"I'm off, then" he told Janet, who only waved to show she'd heard, presently halfway down someone's throat in search of something medical that Yugi really didn't want to know about. Sparing a thought of sympathy for the poor airman Yugi headed for the elevator and lunch. Or breakfast.
He blinked. When had he eaten last?
In that village, if I had to guess, Ame mused. Not sure how long you were out after that, but it was certainly a few hours.
Dinner, then. Maybe.
Offplanet travel plays heck with your internal clock, Yugi muttered. There would be a clock in the mess hall, or someone he could ask. He hoped.
He tried to ignore the guard that was subtly following him through the corridors.
I'd do the same thing, he rationalized as he reached the mess and headed for the food line. Judging by the lack of people there he had come in between meals, although food was served at all times since teams came and went around the clock. Selmac might have vouched for Ame, but I still wouldn't entirely trust us.
They'll go away when we get to the Tok'ra council, Ame hoped. Either you'll stay my host and we'll figure out where you're going, or you'll decline and go back to your normal life. Well, it won't be entirely normal, the Tok'ra amended. Card spirits that come to life?
Yugi missed his deck. He'd forgone taking it to that planet on a hunch, so it was safely stored in his quarters on base. All that he'd lost were extra copies of a few of his more common cards. Even though he no longer had the Puzzle, he'd touched the Cards' realm. They would answer his call if he asked, although he had rarely needed them in the past decade.
You've been rooting around my memories, he accused Ame, who felt appropriately contrite. What else do you know about?
I've just been reading surface thoughts, nothing deeper, the Tok'ra defended. You were wanting your cards when we were facing Yggdrasil, remember?
He did. And he also remembered how Ame had been practically glued to the System Lord's side, letting that man touch them. That was the first thing they'd agreed on, how much they loathed the being embracing them so tenderly. Yugi had been curled up on his soul-bed at the time trying to block the real world out, but Ame's disgust had turned his stomach sympathetically. He'd wished that he'd been able to call the Dark Magician to their aid, something he'd thought he'd kept private from his unwelcome company.
He shivered at the remembered touch, even though the mess was a few degrees warmer than the corridor outside. I'm going to need counseling, he thought grimly, suddenly aware that he'd been staring at the sandwiches for a few minutes and that the marine behind him was getting impatient. Sheepishly he grabbed two sandwiches at random, a small salad, and a random drink from the counter before escaping to an out of the way table.
He was prepared to eat in silence, his assigned guard also helping himself to a snack a few tables away. So it was a surprise when he felt a tingling sensation in the back of his neck as a shadow fell over him.
What's that? he thought, surprised at the new feeling. Ame wasn't, however.
Goa'uld and Tok'ra can feel when another is nearby because the naquadah in our bodies reacts, the Tok'ra explained. Yugi thought he remembered reading that in one of his reports. Selmac's probably come to say "hi".
I see. Yugi looked up, prepared to face the elderly man, only to find that it was instead Sam Carter standing over him with a tray of food in hand. His greeting was lost when he realized who it was, only a confused, "You're a Tok'ra too?" emerging in its place. He asked it without thinking and winced.
Sam gave a small smile, though it was strained around the edges. "Was. I was an unwilling host to a Tok'ra for a few days," she confessed. "Jolinar ending up dying for me."
Jolinar's dead? Ame asked, surprised. I thought she was a better infiltrator than that.
Questions later, Yugi chided, then winced. That was how he'd have talked to Atem… And he'd better not think that too loud.
I'm not going to bite, Ame sulked. Apparently he was either ignoring Yugi's stray thoughts or hadn't picked up on them.
"So you know how this is," the linguist said, gesturing to himself with a fork laden with strips of lettuce. "Is that why you're here?"
Sam nodded. "I can still remember clearly when I was trapped in my own head. I know it's not pleasant. And if you need someone else to talk to, I can help out." She smiled, biting into her ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich.
"You make it sound like Jolinar didn't let you out," Yugi observed, which sent a chill down his spine.
The scientist shook her head. "She didn't. She apologized many times over but said that her mission was more important. She promised to give me my body back in the end." A wistful smile. "She did, too."
Can I talk to her? Ame asked. I want to ask her about Selmac.
Yugi took a bite of his sandwiches, finding it to be turkey, which he rather liked. After swallowing he sent a mental nod to Ame. Go ahead.
Now that he was used to it again it was just like switching with Atem, only without the magic and the weight of the Puzzle at his throat. Yugi stepped back and Ame stepped forward, the latter taking another bite of the sandwich interestedly. What a nice flavor, I haven't seen anything like it!
Your question? Yugi prompted.
"Sam," Ame began. The woman didn't even seem fazed by the switch. "Has Selmac contacted the High Council?"
"He's on the phone with them right now," Sam answered. "Last I heard there was some yelling going on. He'll let us know what it was about afterwards. And I'm glad to see that you're both getting along so far," she added.
After Yugi explained what a phone was by showing the Tok'ra bits of memory and key points Ame nodded. "I see. I am eager to know how the High Council will react to the fact that I'm alive and well. I wasn't exactly in their good graces last time I spoke with them."
"Why not?" Sam was curious to know as she finished up her sandwich. Ame was eating much slower, savoring every bite.
"The last message I sent them that I know they received, I'd told them of my marriage to Yggdrasil. They didn't seem pleased." Ame frowned, tapping his fork in the remnants of his salad. "I told them it was for the influence I could exert as his wife. I was able to stall many attempts at finding the Tok'ra because of my position, as well as distract his attention from vulnerable worlds."
"When Dad gets done I'll make sure you know," Sam promised. "When they get like this, though, it's bound to take a while. Maybe you should get some sleep?"
"What time is it?" Ame asked, glancing at the clock and finding that he still didn't know if it was morning or evening.
Sam smirked. "It's about two in the morning. I'm surprised you're still awake, actually."
That late? Yugi thought, aghast. Or early, he amended. We really should sleep.
"No one's going to expect you in the morning, so sleep as late as you want." The scientist stood, gathering the remains of her late dinner and gesturing to the spot where dirty dishes were left. Ame followed suit, fighting back a yawn that was creeping up on him.
Definitely sleep, he agreed with his host. Want to carry us to bed?
They swapped again, Yugi yawning the whole trip in the elevator, not even minding that he had a silent airman-shadow. He trudged blearily to his on-base quarters, kicked off his shoes, and flopped into bed, not even wanting to spare the energy to get undressed first. But after a moment of enjoying the bliss of a comfortable mattress he rolled over, chucked his shirt somewhere towards the dirty clothes bin (he'd pick it up in the morning) and crawled under the covers.
He never remembered pulling the covers up.
He was trapped behind a glimmering green shield, Atem standing proudly on the other side, a glowing green mark emblazoned into his forehead, a cruel smirk twisting his normally serious face. Yugi banged against it as hard as he could, knowing how this duel was going to play out but unable to stop it from happening. Even when he struck it with the Puzzle the barrier remained strong, leaving the boy helpless to do anything but watch as Atem made that fatal mistake and was stolen from him forever. That's not how it should have happened, Yugi sobbed. He'd broken through and saved Atem, and gotten saved in turn…
And then he wasn't anywhere near Death Valley, someplace that had never even heard of Duel Monsters or Doma. It wasn't even his body, a woman's instead, and there was Yggdrasil hovering over him. All he could think of was stop, I don't want this, go away! while all the while his body acted on its own, and he wasn't the only one who felt this way…
He snapped awake with a cry, staring at the darkened ceiling in confusion while the feel of unwanted touches lingered in places he would rather not see. He was breathing heavily as if he'd run a mile, chilled in his sweat-soaked sheets.
Atem? he asked fuzzily, guessing that the other dreams had come from the spirit. It wasn't uncommon, the two of them sharing their dreams due to the fact that they shared the same body. He just hadn't expected those kinds of dreams from his other.
The presence in the back of his mind shifted, groaning blearily. Who's Atem? it asked, yawning greatly.
That innocent question shocked Yugi back to the present and he remembered that Atem wasn't with him anymore. And even if Ame was beginning to seem less like a Goa'uld than the human had originally feared, that didn't leave him inclined to be forthcoming with his deepest secrets.
No one, Yugi answered a bit defensively. That must have been your dream, then.
Ame shifted uncomfortably. I don't want to talk about it.
Fair enough. Yugi let the question go, glancing at the clock and finding that it was only six in the morning. He groaned, knowing that he wanted to go back to sleep and fearing that he wouldn't be able to. Ame's dream hadn't faded entirely, leaving him uncomfortable alone in the bed.
Do you want to see how I summon monsters? Yugi asked, deciding on a way to ensure he'd still be able to sleep. He reached over to his side table and dug around in the drawer until he came up with his deck.
That got the Tok'ra's attention. He was an alert presence in Yugi's mind while the other drew from his deck, knowing without needing to look that the card he wanted was in his hand.
Summoning monsters was both easier and harder than it sounded, Yugi had found over the years. After that disastrous encounter with Atlantis and Dartz, he, Jounouchi, and Seto had all entered the Duel Monsters' world, and thus were still linked to it even now. Calling on his monsters was only a matter of widening that link to allow the monster to enter the human realm. However, the more powerful the monster Yugi wanted to call, the more energy it took to keep the door open long enough for it to pass through. The one time Yugi had called the Dark Magician he had crashed for a week afterwards, leaving the Magician stranded until his caller had the energy to open the door again to send him home.
Yugi smiled fondly at the memory, even though the card he held wasn't the Dark Magician. He probed at the nearly-invisible link between his soul and the monster world, focusing on the monster he wanted, and slowly the door opened.
"Puriri?" the brown ball of fluff purred, bouncing on Yugi's chest happily. The duelist patted Kuriboh contentedly, even the small amount of energy it had taken to summon the monster draining in his already exhausted state.
"Hi," he greeted wearily. "Sorry to bother you."
The fluffball shook its body negatively.
"I had a bad week," Yugi told it. "Nightmares. Would you mind staying with me?"
It's a purring ball of fluff, Ame thought, too caught up in the fact that it was adorable to wonder how his new host had this kind of ability. Though he was definitely curious, Yugi could tell. But for now the Tok'ra didn't ask questions, instead appreciating the gift for what it was.
Kuriboh didn't hesitate to crawl under the covers, a warm furry body to ward off the night's chill. Yugi pressed his face into it, finally able to relax into sleep. The last thing he was aware of was Ame mentally cooing at the fluff ball, also relieved to not be alone.
Yugi awoke the next morning at noon when someone knocked loudly on his door. It wasn't the most startling way to wake up but it did the trick, the linguist opening his eyes blearily and glaring at the person trying to deprive him of his much-needed sleep. Sam Carter didn't seem fazed in the least by the sleepy heat in purple eyes, much more interested in the brown ball of fluff the other was cradling instead.
"I never thought you'd have a plushie obsession," she noted, hiding her amusement with practiced ease. Yugi glanced down at wide green eyes, having to take a moment to remember when he'd summoned Kuriboh in the night. Once that came back to him so did the dreams and he couldn't help his wince.
"I only drag them out when I need them," Yugi half-lied, sliding out of bed and praying that Kuriboh would stay there until he could send the little ball of fluff home. It seemed to work, the only sign that the brown furball was alive that of his side rising. It was a small motion, since the tiny body didn't require much oxygen, and hopefully it would go unnoticed by the Major in his doorway. Turning to scoop up his discarded shirt from the night before he glanced at the clock, surprised at how late he'd slept. "Is there a reason you woke me up?"
Sam smiled. "Selmac couldn't wait any longer. He wants to be gone by 1500 to the Tok'ra base, and if you want to go with him, that's how long you have."
Yugi nodded, noting the pile of laundry he had as he dropped the shirt on it. He'd have to take that to the base laundry, then, before he went. "Tell him I'll be there."
Ame nodded agreement, the Tok'ra finally coherent enough to participate in the conversation. Apparently, Yugi thought privately to himself, his new guest wasn't a morning person. I'm eager to give my report to the Council and get back to relatively normal missions, Ame commented, then shuddered. Then again, I might ask for a long vacation after that assignment!
Thinking back to the dream, Yugi wholeheartedly agreed. That also had him thinking about something else that hadn't occurred to him. If he agreed to stay as Ame's host, then it was likely that he'd be much like Jacob was, hardly in contact with Earth and only then when it was convenient for the Tok'ra. That meant that if he did agree, he'd be leaving everyone behind. He wasn't sure if his grandfather could deal with never seeing him again, not to mention the heads that would roll if Kaiba got the news that his favorite opponent wasn't going to be around anymore. He would have to think about that as well, not just about how well he got along with Ame.
"I'll leave you to get ready, then. SG-1's going with him to get the usual news." She snorted. "Which will probably boil down to, 'We haven't found anything that might be useful to such an inferior race, but thanks for sending us hosts, we really appreciate it.'"
On that note she left, leaving two bemused souls behind.
It looks like my people really haven't been helping you all, Ame noted.
Yugi shrugged. "I've read the mission reports. They do help out when it's convenient for them as well." Making sure that Sam was really gone, he walked over to his bed and touched Kuriboh gently, amused to find that the Duel Monster was already asleep again. He decided to leave the slumbering creature be, grabbing a new uniform and his bath set and heading for the showers.
A half an hour later he was freshly dressed in clothes that actually fit, feeling much better than the night before. It was amazing how a shower and clean clothes could wash away that kind of pain, Yugi thought contentedly as he headed back to his room to check on Kuriboh. This time the fluff was awake, bouncing on Yugi's bed to pass the time. When Yugi opened the door he found himself with a face full of furball and smiled.
"Hey there," he told it, tickling under its eyes where he thought the chin might be. "Ready to go home?"
"Puri!" it beamed, bouncing in Yugi's arms excitedly.
Yugi sent it back without too much trouble, just opened the gate again and let the monster through it. Ame was an interested spectator, although he was quiet in the back of Yugi's mind. This didn't bother the linguist much as he headed for his hairbrush, his tangled mane definitely needing to be wrestled back into shape.
For a moment he stared at his reflection in the mirror, comparing it to how he'd been the last time he'd shared his soul with another. This time around his hair was shorter, cropped so that it at most ended three inches from the top of his head, though it still tried to form the star shape that no one else could believe was how his hair was naturally. Lacking the sufficient length to do that, it settled for sticking up in random clumps instead. He'd still crowned the black strands with red, though, even as he'd let the blonde grow out of his bangs. This framed his unusual purple eyes with black, drawing out their color in a way that had had him fending off women for years. Hair aside, Yugi's face was different as well. He'd lost the chubby cheeks, the last of his baby fat disappearing after he'd gained his master's degree in languages and went shooting for his doctorate. His body was leaner as well, more fit after he'd taken the job at the SGC. They'd put him under a training regimen meant to make him able to keep up with the least-fit airmen in the base, making him less of a liability in the field.
Overall, Yugi mused, finally bringing the brush to his head and raking it through his hair vigorously, he still looked the same, only older. He no longer had that same air of innocence he'd once held, which was probably a blessing. He wasn't the same naïve kid, either.
I think I would have liked you better with long hair, Ame mused, poking the mental image. It was fetching, even if I can't fathom how it grows naturally into that shape.
Stiff roots is in the genes, if what Grandpa says is right, Yugi relayed, finally satisfied with his hair. It wasn't so randomly spiky thanks to his efforts, even if it did stand on end. When it gets longer is when it starts to droop, and then it's heavy. Which was why he'd cut it in the first place.
Ame pouted. It was a bit much, Yugi thought, having a pouting Tok'ra when the race was supposed to be oh-so-much more evolved than the humans they occupied. Maybe Ame returning to them would be a blessing, if only to get them to lighten up.
Daily maintenance done, he lugged his clothes to the laundry service, then went off to find some breakfast. Or rather, Yugi glanced at the mess' clock as he walked in, lunch.
Can I choose this time? Ame asked eagerly, eyeing the mass of food being offered. Yugi rolled his eyes but gave his assent, settling back to watch the spectacle and hoping no one would mind a bit of strangeness on his part.
Although, given that he still had an airman-shadow, chances were that his status wasn't a secret.
Ame studied the foods thoughtfully, Yugi obligingly allowing the other access to his memory so he could make an informed decision. The linguist was hesitant about it at first, but Ame didn't take this newfound liberty and run with it. The first wall Yugi threw up was acknowledged, the Tok'ra not even attempting to pass it even though he very well could have if he tried. Eventually Ame decided on the stew with some rice, as well as a bread roll to go with it, and with his finds he headed for the nearest table.
The Tok'ra enjoyed the odd food, munching happily as he observed the humans going about their day. After being around nothing but Goa'uld and Jaffa for a few hundred years he was glad of the chance to just sit and observe, liking that he didn't have to put on an act. Although he had been Lady Amemait for so long that he had to consciously tell himself he didn't have to act that way anymore. He didn't try to hide this from Yugi, either – perhaps a bit of trust from his end would help his host get used to him.
That was also, he reflected, why he hadn't asked Yugi about the monster he'd summoned the night before. It was obviously something he'd kept secret, since Sam hadn't known what it was when she'd walked in, and Ame wasn't about to betray that secret. Doing so would probably end in him losing a host, and finding a new one was always so annoyingly hard. Thus he'd keep his host's secrets like his own and, if Yugi chose not to keep him after all… well, he'd figure out what to do then.
Food finished he took care of his plates, glancing at the clock. It was well after 1300 so he decided that perhaps it was time to get ready to go. Want to take care of that part? he asked Yugi, a little disturbed by his silence. He'd never had a host with such little presence before, as if he'd retreated so deeply into his mind that he'd become comatose.
Receiving no answer, Ame frowned, mentally prodding the human. Yugi? You in there?
Sorry, Yugi apologized, resurfacing from wherever he'd hidden. You were thinking and I didn't want to pry.
I wasn't trying to hide my thoughts from you, Ame sighed, heading for the elevator. I meant for you to know them, so you'd know you can trust me.
Ah. Yugi seemed a bit sheepish. Sorry, I had some thinking of my own to do. Ame retreated, leaving him to push the proper button and send the elevator careening towards the locker rooms. Mostly about what would happen if I did stay as your host.
Not outright rejection, then. That was a positive sign. It's likely that you'd be asked to stay with the Tok'ra, meaning you'd leave whatever life you had here, Ame noted. It was the same with the rest of my hosts as well. They all had siblings, parents, lovers, that they left behind in order to rid the galaxy of the Goa'uld.
Yugi winced, heading for the locker rooms. I'm not so sure I could deal with that. Grandpa wouldn't be able to deal with it, either. If I vanish without him knowing, it might kill him. Not immediately, of course, but his Grandpa would work himself into a frenzy trying to track him down and then fade away. Not to mention what Kaiba would do with his hacking prowess if he should drop off the map. He still hadn't tried to summon even his Blue Eyes, but given the right motivation? Jounouchi certainly wouldn't think twice before setting his Red Eyes on the mountain if he ever found out where Yugi went.
Ame was amused at Yugi's mental image of a raging dragon. The choice is yours, he said seriously. Whatever path you take I won't begrudge you.
Finishing his preparations, Yugi went to find Selmac to see what he was up against. Against his better judgement he was bringing his proper deck, although he had multiples of each of the cards he held. The Egyptian Gods were safely stored with his spare cards, however. He wouldn't trust that sort of power without a dire need.