A/N: Re-reading this, it was very confusing, mixing the shes, but it serves a purpose. Also, I'd like to remind you that this is from POVs, meaning that it cannot be perceived solely as the truth. There's always more to it. My muse decided to bail on me as my stress level increased. Sorry!
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate: SG-1 or anything remotely related to the franchise.
Part four of Changing Priorities
They move with gracefulness and such coordination that part of her is in awe. She has barely recovered from starvation so her body is weak, her mind blurred by the intermingled mind. They are aware of each other, moving in synchronization. Separated, one part would move stealthier and more bulky, but now they move as one, breathe as one, think as one. It is truly terrifying when you've always liked to control your own life.
Sam has found that Pakhet has kept her promise. Sometimes, she takes over when she senses that Sam cannot deceive Ba'al or his Jaffa, but mostly, she allows her control of her own body. And the shared knowledge is a fascinating thing, true to what Garshaw's host said all those years ago. She realizes the irony of the fact that a Tok'ra took control and a Goa'uld is allowing her free passage. It is hard to tell where she stops and Pakhet continues these days.
Pakhet's quarters are more private than that of the Tok'ra. She is astonished by the vast amount of knowledge she has obtained, but also the artifacts in her quarters. Had she been anything like Daniel, she would have started cataloguing right away. Pakhet seems fond of them, wincing when Sam's clumsy hands touch the precious vases and relics. Sam finds it amusing to tease her like that. Having proven her wrong – so far – she has reluctantly accepted that Pakhet is planning to keep her end of the deal. It doesn't put Sam at ease, but it keeps her alive. The dresses provided are elegant and shows more of Samantha's body than she would like to, but Pakhet knows a thing or too about posture. She has revealed that she has had three dozen hosts in the past few millennia, mostly females but males when the need was too severe.
Her extensive knowledge of the Goa'uld language and customs have blown Sam's mind, surprised to find a civilized way to the greedy, arrogant parasites. Pakhet has not corrected her when she thinks this, nor has she acknowledged the selfishness of her race.
It has been our way for thousands of years, Samantha. Some of us are too stuck in our ways, the symbiote reminds her like an embarrassed relative.
Who cleans these places?, Sam asks, a lazy curiosity settling.
Human slaves. Jaffa women. I have never wondered.
Comments like those annoys Sam because of her carelessness. Pakhet doesn't even notice it, too tired to care, but too weathered not to form an opinion on the rest of the imperfections of Goa'uld ruling. In many ways, she is like a persistent friend. Albeit one she cannot escape.
Ba'al doesn't suspect, not even when Sam is in control and tenses involuntarily at his being. She can access the distorted voice and speak like Pakhet would. She has learnt a great deal of viable intel in the time she has been there. Ba'al obviously does not even consider the idea that she couldn't be suppressed, least of all that his beloved Pakhet plans to destroy him (Pakhet has mentioned it once to Sam, but ignored her on the subject ever since). And Sam is every bit of happy that Ba'al and Pakhet do not use their hosts to, er, be together. They are simply century-old companions. Sam is also aware of the faintness of Pakhet. While she can heal her body, it requires power to suppress a host for long, which means that their arrangement allows Pakhet to be undrained of energy.
Walking barefooted down the gold-clad hallways, Sam tries to put down her curiosity. Pakhet knows these halls in the back of her mind, aware of how Ba'al designs his strongholds. She is present in the back of her mind like an older sister forced to watch her sister. Never once has Pakhet lost her temper, though. Always patient if a little careless – even when Sam failed miserably at operating the kara'kesh and obtaining knowledge from the symbiote on how. The ribbon device sits awkwardly on her wrist, unnerving her much like it did when she tried on Kendra's. Pakhet's is in silver, indicating her status as an Underlord. Frankly Sam had never considered the possibility that what material used for the ribbon device indicated rank. In return, Sam has tried to explain the rank and insignias of U.S. Military. She figures that she has no-one else to tell it, and it will not mean anything, should Pakhet infiltrate Earth.
The Goa'uld has several times reprimanded her and complained about her short hair to which Sam has always snorted and stated that it is longer than it used to be. Pakhet always wear her hair in a braid. If Sam had a scrunchie, she would simply style a ponytail, her fingers always unpleasantly numb after braiding.
Secretly, Sam has always admired the artwork of the Goa'uld vessels and technology. Now she has the time to study it while Pakhet talks to others through her. Her Goa'uld is limited at best, but a flowing transition to fluency is happening subconsciously as their memories shift.
While Pakhet is otherwise occupied with Jaffa or Ba'al himself or minor errands, Sam shuts herself deep down, allowing herself to worry about Ellie. By sharing other information, she hopes she can keep Ellie and her existence from the symbiote, not knowing if she is just another sort of spy. She is glad she isn't in control of the body, because then she would perish in sobs and tears. She has never been away from Ellie this long; not that she is homesick, no, she is just a mother. Will Mark take care of her when she doesn't return any of his calls? She can't be sure how long she has been gone. A longing burns in her, originating in the separation from her child. Ellie is only three. Will she have to grow up without her mother, like Sam did? The difference is, she has no father. Martouf is dead, the image still stings to replay in her mind. It happened mere hours after confessing her pregnancy to him, feeling the need to inform him. She expected no offer at relocating or support, just wanted to be honest with him. To her bafflement, Lantash even offered to separate himself from Martouf and allow him to return to Earth with her. Sam would have expected it to be the other way around – that they would have insisted on her going with them or terminating the unborn child. They did neither, both killed by her hand when it was revealed that Martouf was a za'tarc. With her gone, Ellie will be an orphan. She doesn't hesitate that Mark and Julie will make wonderful parents to her angel, but they cannot begin to comprehend the challenges they will face. The SGC does not even know about Ellie, so how could they possibly make a cover story for her abduction and know where to send it?
From her catatonic state within the mind of her own body, she barely reacts when Pakhet nudges her mentally – or physically; Sam is too emotional to care. Pakhet is wrapped around her spinal cord, a place she could easily nudge her in several places as she is able to control every neuron in her body. But atop of her own emotional toil, she feels a deeper concern.
Sam?, Pakhet asks gently, having ended the conversation with the Jaffa and walked back to her quarters.
All too worried about revealing Ellie's location, Sam tries her best to think of something else – vanilla ice cream – but the raw emotions remain there indefinitely and for Pakhet to pick up on.
Samantha, are you alright? I can barely control your body. Just ask and you will –
That's not it, she quickly says, her voice snotty.
Then it downs on Pakhet. Sam can feel clarification and realization as were it her own. You miss your homeworld.
Sam feels silly nodding, but does it either way. Pakhet is like a friend that knows her too well; now able to read and distinguish her emotions. To confront her when all she wants to do is shy away. Sam is far too ignorant on their new partnership to reverse the effect, but bits and pieces are becoming more natural.
"I am not ungrateful for your healing of me," Sam says aloud, gaining freely the control of the body. For the first time in weeks, Pakhet allows herself to be a mere presence in her mind. The angel and devil on her shoulders, so to speak. "But yes," she acknowledges, declaring defeat, "I miss Earth."
I can imagine. Over the years I have felt hosts and their longing to be back amongst their friends and family. If it were possible, I would console your needs, the female symbiote replies. Technically, they are genderless, but Sam finds it less intrusive to think of Pakhet as female.
"It is the thought that counts," Sam hiccups and instantly feels Pakhet's risen brow and confusion. "It's an expression."
Sam takes the opportunity to gaze out a window, seeing the bare lands surrounding the stronghold. Ba'al's location is blunt, but has he ever been particularly humble?
No, Pakhet replies although Sam didn't make it a question. She simply thought it and wondered.
Days pass, and Sam finds herself going nuts. Pakhet has little role, even for an Underlord, simple called for when Ba'al needs to voice his own conquests and victories, to brag about his own superior competence. He is worse than Rodney McKay. She doesn't know how long she can take it, listening to him with the same patience that Pakhet seemingly personifies. While she likes the quiet when she works of theoretic and practical physics – extraterrestrial and human – she is a woman of action, which is why it worked so well on the Stargate Program. It was literarily the best of both worlds. Now she finds herself trapped like a defiant child getting punished.
'Khet?, she asks one day, bored and wondering. 'What do Goa'ulds do for fun?'
They conquer, the symbiote replies flatly. Why do you think they are considered sociopaths by your kind?
Sam pays enough attention to notice that she didn't say 'we', but 'they'. While her thoughts are not purely angelic, she is well in between the Tok'ra and common Goa'uld. Then again, who is she to judge? Her last, brief encounter was with Jolinar, a Tok'ra who used her the way the Goa'uld usually do once she realized Sam wasn't going to fold. Then again – who is host more than once?
Who is he? Pakhet asks out of the blue. She isn't being interrogative. Just... curious.
The man. The host of the one you call Lantash in your mind, Pakhet explains. She could easily obtain the knowledge, but she seems to enjoy their relaxed pose across the silken sheets on the soft bed. The air is humid, the sun hot in its zenith.
"His name is Martouf," she murmurs, knowing that no matter what Pakhet will hear her. It is out of comfort and habit she speaks instead of communicating telepathically. If it is even considered telepathically when they share a mind.
You have great feelings for this.. Martouf, Pakhet states softly. Sam stiffens, not realizing what she is asking for.
"I guess I do," she says to sate the symbiote who is intrigued by human and Tok'ra customs. She has never thought much about Martouf and Lantash; she has pretty much kept them away from her mind, finding the truth too tragic. Had things been different, events played out differently, she might have found herself loving Martouf and (although the idea seemed foreign at the time, it is not as disturbed as it once were) Lantash. Both noble and sentient, both open-hearted and kind. Different personalities, but as Martouf once claimed, they feel the same. Felt. All these images and memories float through Sam and into Pakhet. The good, the bad, the tragic. Incoherently, perhaps, but they are as confused as Sam's feelings towards him are.
But she had no answer, denial or acknowledgement to give Pakhet. Her uttermost sacred and intimate memories of him are one of the best she has. The way he treated her, even mourning Jolinar, when he should have been bitter to find the host sans mate alive due to Jolinar's sacrifice. The foursome's interconnected feelings transcended the love by human standards. The superficial love from movies and Hollywood. Lantash and Jolinar were together for over a hundred years. Who can compete with that at the age she is?
She remembers the warm nights of Vorash and the comfy ride on an equine creature to the Stargate. Sam had been stationed there briefly to ensure the treaty to be uphold. During that time, she had found the company of both personalities both charming and relaxing. It was the first time she had ever brought an animal through the gate. The animal was a mix of a horse and a camel, a dauntless creature with a nice, soothing gait and easy to control. It was larger than she expected, but the alternative way to travel through the stargate, her head against Martouf's chest was wonderful with the setting sun in their backs. They arrived on a similar desert planet, its sun, too, setting and had ridden in the pre-twilight before making it to a bedouin city, the tents camouflaged in the light sand.
Sleepily but curious and amazed by the beautiful landscape, careless about the breaking of her orders to remain at Vorash until otherwise needed and to report any off-world travel that didn't include Earth, Sam reluctantly let go of her hold around his waist. He slid of the creature and tied it to a wooden pole, supporting Sam as she, too, slid off the creature from her astride position. The clothes that the Tok'ra considered civilian and had been provided for her were not as scanty as most of the female Tok'ra's, but managed to fall awkwardly. The fabric was in the way for her to move freely as in her BDUs, but Martouf had insisted that she wore it and so she had.
By then her feelings for the pair hadn't faded. Remaining strong as an ever-reminder of Jolinar, she had begun to feel honored to have remnants of unadulterated love in her. It was no secret that she didn't have much of a social life back on Earth. Being with the Tok'ra made up for that on a philosophical level. Being with Martouf and in the company of Lantash did too.
It didn't feel wrong to be there with them. It felt oddly intoxicating and numbing at the same time. Positively anesthetizing. Touches had turned into something more; slow, passionate kisses trailing down hot skin. Undressing intimately. It felt good to be with Martouf. It felt right, like she had done it before. Like she knew every inch like her own. Emotions overwhelmed her...
Sam sobers up, placing the intimate memory far into her emotional shield. She can feel her body's reaction to the vivid memory, the reliving. Unfortunately, Pakhet can, too.
What happened? Your feelings are tainted with mourning, the symbiote points out, rummaging in her mind for an explanation.
"He died," Sam says sharply. That is one memory she doesn't wish to relive. Pakhet seems sated with her answer, or feels her distress and respectfully retreats.
After a while, sitting still on the luxurious bed in the chamber of treasures that is their private quarters, Pakhet speaks. I once considered joining the Tok'ra.
"You did?" Sam asks, semi-surprised. She doesn't know if it's the truth or the symbiote is saying it to lessen her pain. She can barely control her own emotions right now, let alone read Pakhet's more contained ones.
Yes. But then I realized how quickly I would be killed by Ba'al, she tells solemnly with a regretful voice. I stayed here to inflict the most damage.
"I'm sorry," Sam whispers.
I don't understand the custom of apologizing what is not you fault, Sam, but thanks anyway, Pakhet replies, using words of her vocabulary. Like Sam is absorbing her knowledge and experimenting with the Goa'uld language, Pakhet is keeping up, too.
Sam jerks from the bed, trying to calm herself. It is hard to pretend not to spite Ba'al. She smoothens her skirts, stepping into the golden-strapped sandals. It is all very Egyptian, but Pakhet is also an Egyptian goddess, so Sam figures that is why.
"Pakhet, beloved," Ba'al greets, seemingly having no problem with marching in uninvited. Then again, Goa'ulds use bodies for worse things so maybe they don't have the same scale of decency and properness. His voice may have been seductive and pleasing to an ignorant stranger, but it leaves Sam with a bad taste in her mouth, nauseous. To have someone so empathically impaired even linger to adjust himself to her is sickening. Goosebumps rise, but she quickly slips into another skin, playing the part of Pakhet.
"Ba'al, my lord." She moves to bow deeply, but is interrupted by his hand on her wrist. The pain is sudden and sharp, then gone, but enough to warn her of the change. She sends him a confused glance.
"I want you to accompany me," he says darkly, gleeful even. For a moment she is afraid that he means to the anti-gravitational chamber. He is notorious for its acid-knife-dagger-death method. He has a sarcophagus for the purpose of reviving the dead for his own pleasure. It unnerves Sam, having seen herself the damage it does on the mind.
"Whereto?" Pure sexism, Sam is certain. To be treated like some arm-candy. Frustrated, she plays along, feeling the confusion of Pakhet as well.
The maniacal spark in his eyes gleam with anticipation. Physically, Sam steps back, terrified. He speaks with glee and disgust. "The Tau'ri."
x STARGATE SG-1 x
Callista has never envied the position of Selmak. While she admires his knowledge and respects him thousandfold, since he was blended with the Tau'ri host, Jacob, he has been more subjective on the matters of the Tau'ri. Being aligned with him amongst the Tok'ra is walking a thin line but Callista likes his company. They have had many conversations, some with Jacob, but most with Selmak, who likes his new host and the values he brings to the Tok'ra in general.
Callista's host stirs, awaking from sleep. She is not an early riser, but this mission requires them to be awake near dawn. It is an important matter.
"Selmak," she greets, bowing her head in respect for the elder Tok'ra. She can only dream of his wisdom.
"Callista," he says in response, his tone disapproving on the matters to attend. He is clearly troubled, but she appreciates that he has informed them nevertheless. "I had hoped to speak with one of the Council."
"Seeing as you wouldn't get into details, they sent me," she explains, cropping a brow. "That is, if you still think it is important."
Jacob grimaces, although Callista cannot tell if it is due to Selmak or the host. "It is."
"What is this about, Selmak?" She grows impatient, upset somehow that he does not respectfully her enough to by forthcoming. He did send for a representative to advice on the given situation. He wanted to report, but now? He seems conflicted.
"It concerns the recent abduction of Samantha Carter of the Tau'ri," he says mournfully. Callista remembers that it is the daughter of his host and a former member of the Tau'ri's SG-1 team.
"My condolences," she says briefly."We have already pulled all resources available to find Ba'al's stronghold," she points out, knowing that he has tried to gain empathy for his host before.
"That is not why I sent for you," Selmak ignores his tone."I found out she had a child. A child with Goa'uld knowledge."
Callista's eyes widen. "Outrageous! Why wasn't this reported?"
x STARGATE SG-1 x
Two days earlier
Jacob enjoys being on Earth. The sun isn't quite the same from other solar systems, and here he is aware of the societal and technological development. Not to mention the pop culture. Also, here is his family. Although widowed, he still has kids and grandchildren who appreciate his being there. However, Ellie comes as a surprise.
In the few days he has been here, he has been introduced to one of the cleverest three-year-olds he has ever met. Ellie seems to be aware that he is Tok'ra but feels no ill-will and adapts quickly into situations. She has never spoken in the Goa'uld tongue in front of Mark, Julie and the kids. It is remarkable but also thrilling. On the outside she is a girl with energy like a firecracker, light-brown ringlets that seem to shine no matter how dirty her cheeks are. Her mind, however, contains knowledge of far greater prospect.
Sitting at the backyard table while Julie is picking up Lisa from a play date, he observes the two youngest of his grandkids. He has to admit, their energy reminds him of when Mark and Sam were children, playing in a backyard much like this, the air less crispy. He misses Elizabeth immensely when he compares his grandchildren to their parents. Beth, who always loved him despite his focus on his military career. Despite his military career. Despite the many deployments and disclosure agreements that prevented him from mentioning the work he did. Beth, who raised his children and who Lisa is named after. Beth, who left them all too soon.
He acknowledges the sense of loss, then smiles in reminiscence. Beth would have adored Lisa, David and Ellie. She would have been proud of Mark and Sam, and she would have loved having Julie as a daughter-in-law. She would have babysat Ellie which would have meant that Sam would not have had to keep her daughter a secret.
But even now Jacob sees why. Disbelief has faded and left understanding of Sam's decision. In the past few days he has gotten to know Ellie. She is wonderful, gleeful, beautiful. Full of life, of spirit, of hope, of youth, of energy. Of mind. Looking at her, Jacob sees nothing but life impersonated. The way she indomitably struggles to keep up with David, fighting sleep until it defeats her, and yawns turn too frequent. It is admirable that she can climb the rope ladder to the treehouse, up and down without having fallen down once. Jacob has seen her sleep like the harmless creature she is, curled up in a fetal position, her hair messily down her back, clothes ruffled. It is only while she is awake that one realizes her potential.
She plays well with David. The six-year-old boy seems enthused to have a playmate that isn't his sister. He treats her patiently and kindly, at worst rushing her. It is an odd friendship, but they make a great pair in tag. She always bounces back and outsmarts him if he thinks he is above her. She reminds Jacob of another little girl with wits to rival her brother's intelligence. As much as he finds it odd, he has to admit that Ellie is truly Sam's daughter.
He notices the little things, how she makes a face at the idea of chocolate ice cream, how she grimaces when she takes her socks on, absolutely adorable, and how she is the first to wake in the morning, quickly stirring the others.
These details, these traits that make up Ellie, they trouble him. Because he knows, Selmak knows, that they will have to inform the Tok'ra. Whoever sired Ellie (he hates the comparison, especially what it makes his own daughter, but Selmak insists on using that word) had vast knowledge of the Tok'ra, greeting him the unique way. Either Sam told her daughter everything, which he highly doubts, or Ellie is a Harcesis child, fathered by a Goa'uld host. A Tok'ra host.
Setting her fondness for raspberries and swing-sets aside, Jacob contemplates his choices. Ellie is his granddaughter! He knows by her cuteness that Sam would have done everything in her power to prevent him from taking her away, except now Sam has been taken, leaving Ellie an orphan by default. Julie and Mark know nothing of that world. Ellie sure wasn't supposed to, but her genetic memory prevents her from that. Amongst the Goa'uld System Lords, a Harcesis child between two hosts are forbidden, but since Tok'ra are against taking unwilling hosts, there has not been such a case in Selmak's lifetime. Yet it unravels Jacob to think of the punishment.
While technically Sam is no longer a hostess and hadn't been one at the time of Ellie's conception – he asked Mark for her date of birth and had been shocked to realize that it clashed with some of her last SG missions – she still has the protein marker that makes her biological makeup unique to that of a host. To that of Jolinar. Which makes things so much more complex.
Why there has never been a Harcesis child of the Tok'ra is due to participants. The female host has to agree to bear a child, and the male host has to agree to father one. Then there is the agreement between the Tok'ra mates. Jacob doubts the council would allow a child to run around their tunnels unsupervised. However, the knowledge makes seclusion on one of their host planets impossible. Too hazardous, too risky. Because whoever fathered Ellie is definitely Tok'ra.
Stereotypical anger rises in Jacob; because of somebody knocking up his daughter; because of Sam never telling him, because of her quitting the Air Force.. frankly, there is only one thing that doesn't anger or saddens Jacob in this situation – Ellie.
Watching the trio play as siblings only deepens his sorrow. He knows that even with the combined efforts of the Tok'ra and Earth, it will be close to impossible to get back the Sam they know. The mother of Ellie, who hasn't been active in the Stargate Program for nearly four years. He knows that David and Lisa have known Ellie for years even though he has only become aware of her existence in the last week. He knows that his own children have lied to him, kept her from him, deep force majeure, because of his alliance to the Tok'ra (or at least he hopes that's why), although Mark has no idea why, probably assumed things about him. That is personal – do they doubt his actions as a grandfather? History is repeating itself. Mark ignored him for years, apparently Sam has been as well.
Lisa, the oldest, with her blonde hair and gumption, is quick to challenge her brother into doing reckless tasks that often – as proved – result in injuries. David is quick to forgive and forget his sister's bratty and teasing ways. The only boy, he manages to make up for it with his energy, rivaled only by Ellie who is intrigued by everything, versatile and audacious to the point of brilliance. When Lisa doesn't want to play anymore, finding the games too childish, David and Ellie effortlessly continue, their spirits never dimmed by Lisa's lack of enthusiasm and presence. Mark's white lie had been incorrect; surely, if Jacob had known better, he would never once have believed that Ellie was a friend of Lisa's, not David's.
Selmak makes the final decision – a devastating one. He returns to the SGC, never commenting on his reasons to contact the Tok'ra, letting the General assume that it is to check up on the scouts that surveil Ba'al. In truth, he has been taken off the case, forbidden by the Tok'ra to allow his feelings to cloud his judgment.
He hopes that whoever they send will have mercy on his situation.
A/N: I hope it's not too out of character.