Summary: What if only Lantash was the zatarc? What would happen if he and Martouf unblended? What would Martouf do? Would he try to get his soulmate back?
Note: Written for phoenix_gate on DW, for Stargate Second Lives 2012. Just didn't get it finished in time.
bold indicates symbiote talking with symbiote voice
~ is host or symbiote talking internally
"All right - Lantash is in the stasis tank, and the wound in Martouf's throat is almost healed." Ren'al says, running the healing device over him one more time. "You can wake him up."
Anise gives Martouf an injection, and he stirs slowly on the operation bed. She runs a scanner over him. "He's completely healed, and except for a few lasting changes to his biochemistry, which is normal after being a host, he is again a normal human."
Martouf groans, and suddenly he sits up, his eyes wide with fear. "Lantash! Where is Lantash!" He touches his neck, then stares at Anise and Ren'al, before demanding. "What did you do to him! I told you I wouldn't let you remove him!"
"Martouf, we had to. Lantash explained it to you. He had been made a zatarc, and it would only have been a matter of time before the programming took over and he either tried to kill someone, or himself - and thus you. He wanted you to live, and this was the only way." Anise explains, patiently.
"Live! I don't want to live without him! Why didn't you let him kill us both? At least I wouldn't be alone now." He looks devastated. "So alone..." He puts his hands to his head and hides his face.
"It will take some time to adjust, of course, but if you find you do not wish to remain alone, and decides to help the Tok'ra by becoming a host again, there will be other symbiotes in need, no doubt." Ren'al tells him.
Suddenly Martouf looks up and demands of her. "I want to see him. Now!"
"Of course." Anise says. "Come."
Martouf follows her to the stasis chamber and looks on as she pushes a button, activating a small camera that shows the interior. Lantash is in there. He looks unharmed, and does not move. He looks asleep - or dead. Martouf knows, intellectually he is in stasis, but it is nonetheless hard. He puts his hand against the glass. "Lantash..." He closes his eyes, whispering. "I love you, and I miss you..." He turns to Anise. "How is he? Can he ever come out of stasis?"
She looks at him, not really wanting to say this. "He is alive, and as long as he is in stasis, the programming will not kick in and make him kill himself. Martouf...right now we know too little about the zatarc programming to say if we will ever be able to treat him. The odds are not good, but..."
Martouf just nods and takes another look at Lantash in the stasis chamber. Anise put a comforting hand on his shoulder, before turning off the camera and she then leads Martouf out of the room, back to his quarters. He just climbs into bed and hugs his pillow, not saying anything.
"Welcome, Major Carter." Garshaw says. "We appreciate you coming."
"Dad told me about what had happened...what you did one month ago, without informing me." Sam looks angry. "I told you I wanted to know how they were doing!"
"We apologize, but there was nothing to report, other than that the extraction was successful." Ren'al tells her.
"How is Martouf?"
"Physically, he is fine." Anise says.
"Dad said he's not eating much - and that he's tried to kill himself."
"True. It is to be expected. There is always a period to get used to being alone again." Anise admits. "The injuries from his suicide attempt has been tended to."
Sam looks at her, shaking her head slowly at this. "Be honest with me. I may not remember everything from Jolinar, but I do remember that it's not usually good to separate host and symbiote when they have been together for a longer period of time."
Anise looks at Garshaw and Ren'al, then nods. "That is correct. Martouf has been Lantash's host for over 20 years. After even a fraction of that time, the loneliness after separation can be so bad that the host refuses to live. After many years...it is not surprising, what Martouf is going through. However, he is strong, and we had hoped he would be able to make it."
"It would help him if he would accept another symbiote, but he will not." Ren'al points out.
Sam glares at her. "Well you can hardly expect him to just do that. Martouf and Lantash are much closer friends even than most Tok'ra. I don't think he could ever replace Lantash. By the way, how is Lantash?"
"He is in stasis, and we, to be honest, have no great hopes that we will ever be able to undo the programming." Anise tells her, apologetically.
"Regardless, we invited you in the hopes that you could help Martouf. It is well known that he...had a special appreciation of you." Garshaw says.
"Martouf?" Sam asks, nervously, as she sticks her head into his room.
He looks up from where he is sitting on his bed, and she is stricken by how pale and thin he is - and how pained he looks. He does smile a little bleakly as he sees her. "Samantha. Please, come in."
"Hi...how are you doing? Dad says you're not feeling so hot."
He nods slowly. "He is correct. I do not 'feel so hot', as you say."
"I'm sorry about Lantash. It's strange he's not here, that it's just you. I...miss him."
"Yes." Martouf is quiet for a long time.
"Sorry. I'm an idiot." She sits down on the bed beside him. "I can't imagine what you're going through. I mean, I was devastated when Jolinar died, but I didn't really know her. To lose someone that close to you...it must be as bad as losing your spouse."
"Losing Rosha and Jolinar was terrible, and both Lantash and I were deeply heartbroken for months - even years after there would be moments we were sad. This...losing Lantash...I assure you, it is many times worse. I feel...as if I am only a half person, as if the best part of me is missing. I don't feel like getting out of bed, eating, doing anything. What is the point? Lantash is not there to experience it with me."
Sam nods, feeling very sorry for him. "At least...at least he's not dead. Maybe...maybe they'll find a way to break the programming."
"Anise and Ren'al doesn't think so. He could as well be dead - and I should be dead with him."
"Martouf, don't talk like that. Lantash wanted you to live!"
"I don't want to live! He can't have been himself when he made that decision - or maybe they forced him."
"You don't believe that."
"What makes you think you know what I believe? What I want? Why do everyone think they know that? I don't want this." He sounds agitated, then despairs again." Why didn't they put us both in stasis, together? They could have."
"I don't know, Martouf, but I do know that you can't continue like this. Please, come with me, and get something to eat?"
Martouf looks at her for a moment, then nods.
"I'm glad you're feeling better." Sam smiles at him, as they walk into his quarters after eating.
They had spent much of the afternoon talking, and Martouf did indeed seem to be doing a little better.
"Samantha, it was very kind of you to come and visit. I..." He looks at her, then slowly leans in, touching his lips to hers, tentatively.
Sam is surprised at first, but quickly recover, returning the kiss. For a moment, it grows more passionate, then Martouf suddenly ends it, pulling away.
"What is it?" Sam asks.
"Sorry." He shakes his head. "I can't do this."
"I thought...that you had feelings for me." Sam looks unhappy. "You said so, shortly before they discovered you were zatarcs."
"I do. I love you!" He looks at her, an intense look in his eyes. Then he looks down. "I love you very much, but...but I cannot do this."
"Lantash. He fell in love with you first. Don't you understand? I can't kiss you, or anything. Can't have a relationship with you. It would be...would be betraying him."