Chapter Forty-two Summary: Daniel, Martouf, and Lantash are unconscious to the world at large, but not to each other or the voices that keep calling them to come back. As time passes and they float within the Mysts, they slowly start to overcome their despair at the loss of their mates. Martouf and Daniel realize that Lantash is not doing well, as he has been supporting them and keeping them from floating away and thus deeper into the Mysts. They decide they will not give up, but will live and keep the promises they made. They take over and care for Lantash as he gains strength. And so, they begin the journey back to the light, their promises...and their friends.
‘"Italics" - Inner thoughts of Martouf, Lantash, and Daniel; Symbiote-Host and Telepathic communication
Coeurata’irs – Heartbrothers, Brothers of the Heart.
“It was nice here,” Daniel thought. “There was no pain, no anxiety. Nothing seemed to matter, or be either right, or wrong. Yes, it was nice here.”
Suddenly, Sha’uri was there. As she stood watching him, he spoke to her, “Why are you here, Sha’uri? Is something wrong?” He frowned. “Why are you so sad? I love you still, Sha’uri. I always will love you.”
“Yes,” she said, “Just as I will always have you in my heart, so I shall live in yours. You are the Heartmate, my Dan’yel. So was it meant to be, as I told you.”
“Yes, you did try to tell me. I understand now. But, that does not explain why you are here now.”
“I came only to tell you that I am always only a heartbeat away, and that I will care for you and watch over you always, but you must fight and survive, my Dan’yel. The woman, the mate wishes it. You must not disappoint her.”
Anguish ripped through Daniel. “The woman, the mate, is gone. She is dead.” He told her, his voice bitter. “She has left me, and this time I don’t think I can survive it.”
“No, she is not truly dead. She lives, and she will return.”
“I held her as she died, Sha’uri. I saw her take her last breath; I heard her breathe her love for me as she died. I felt it enter my heart. I have no reason to continue, Sha’uri.”
“No. You saw only that which you expected to see, and it matters not. You made a promise, my Dan’yel. You must survive. You must. You are the mate,” Sha’uri insisted.
“I can’t Sha’uri, I’m sorry, I can’t, not yet.” Daniel closed his eyes against the pain and fell back into the ever-present blackness that waited for him with soft arms of velvet nothingness.
Jack O’Neill stood by the infirmary bed and looked down at the man who, against all the odds, had become one of his closest friends. How many times had he stood, or sat, and waited for this man to wake up, to get better, to open those intense blue eyes, and say, “Hi ya, Jack, what’s goin’ on?” How damn many times had he watched, and paced, and worried, and hoped? How many times had he wished he had done something, anything, to prevent whatever it was that had put his friend in this position once again? A lot, that’s how many.
However, this time was different; this time the wounds were healing, but Daniel was not waking up. He was drifting away from them, and Jack didn’t know what he would do if they could not call him back.
One thing was for sure, standing here staring at him was not going to get it done. Jack sat down on the stool that was as close to the bed as it could be without being in it with him, and took his hand. How he wished he could relive that day over and make sure that Daniel and Martouf had some backup, maybe a Katteri of their own to shield them during the Great Battle. It was funny how they all thought of it in those terms. The Great Battle.
Squeezing Daniel’s hand lightly, Jack started talking to him. “Damn it, Daniel,” he said, his voice hoarse with suppressed emotion, “Your body is healed. It’s time for you to wake up, and come back to us. You promised Kataya that you would survive for her, for us. You promised to stay and take care of Martouf and Lantash.” Daniel heard him draw a shaky breath. “Don’t you dare leave us now, Daniel,” he heard Jack whisper. “We need you.”
Daniel frowned. “Why was Jack here and whispering in that choked voice? Where was Kataya and why had he promised her that? He didn’t want to leave here for some reason. He could hear Jack talking to him still and this was not the first time he had been here and talked to him either,” he thought.
“Daniel, you know I am not good at this feelings stuff. But, I want you to know that I think, that is, I know, you are my best friend.” Daniel heard Jack sigh deeply and draw a deep breath before saying, “You’ve gotta survive; you have to come back to us, Daniel.” Jack stopped speaking, again, and when he started this time, his voice was stronger, harder, “You have a purpose in life. You have to fight the Goa’uld. You promised Kataya and probably Sam, for all I know, that you would stay behind and fight the evil that took them,” Jack’s voice continued to talk to him.
“Why was Jack still talking to him like that? What had happened? Something bad,” he realized, suddenly. And as it came in a blinding flash, he closed his eyes against the knowledge, “I’m sorry, Jack, I can’t, I just can’t come back. I hope you understand,” he whispered in his mind to his friend as he sank back into the blackness that waited for him.
Teal’c stood behind O’Neill and listened as Jack talked to Daniel, discussing his promise to his mate, his promise to return to help fight the Goa’uld, and mundane everyday things like hockey scores. He talked to him of anything and everything that might keep him listening to them. Talking, hoping to bring Daniel back, as they all were.
“O’Neill, you must go now; it is time for me to stay with Daniel Jackson. You must rest, so you can be here for him later. I will stay and talk to him now,” Teal’c said, as he laid his hand on Jack’s shoulder.
“Yeah, I’ll go in a minute, T. Just—gimme another minute,” Jack said quietly.
“You must rest. If you become run down, then you will not be able to sit with him later if the need still exists,” Teal’c said, as he stressed their need to stay strong in case this did not end soon.
“All right,” Jack finally agreed. “I’ll be back later today though.”
“Indeed, O’Neill. As will I.”
Jack nodded, as he left the room. Teal’c would not let Daniel leave them. He would keep him from leaving them. He hoped.
Teal’c looked down at the still form in the bed. Many times before, they had stood vigil over the young man. Never before had he so felt that it was the spirit and not the body that was moving away from them. He must be called back, as the Katteri had warned them.
Knowing this to be true, he began to speak, “Daniel Jackson, you must be strong. It is what the mate wished. You must not give up, for to do so would be to break your promise to her. Your mate expects you to carry on, and you must do so.”
Teal’c’s voice was the one calling him back to the gray edge of knowing/not knowing. “Why was he doing that?”
“Kataya would not wish you to cease to exist now. You have a promise to her to keep. You must come back to us. The Goa’uld must be defeated, and we need you to help us do so. You promised that you would survive and help in the fight. We wish for you to return.”
“What was he talking about?” Daniel, wondered, as he listened to Teal’c.
“Daniel Jackson, you must not yet leave this world, for this world needs you. You are one of its shining lights, and with the loss of you, it would lose a great Warrior and a special man,” Daniel could hear the heartache in his friend’s voice, as he continued to speak to him.
“The world will lose much, but I will lose even more, for you have accepted me, cared for me, and been my friend, although most would not have done so in your position. You are a good man, Daniel Jackson, and we need you. I,” Teal’c’s voice stopped, and Daniel wondered why he sounded so sad. “I would miss you greatly, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c finally whispered.
“Teal’c wanted him to do something. Well, Teal’c was his friend, and so was Jack, so he’d try,” he thought.
As he pushed his way toward the light, he saw Kataya’s eyes close in death. Again, the pain tore through him. “No. No, he could not go back to the awareness of that yet. He would just sink back into the blackness. He hoped his friends would understand,” On that thought, he allowed himself to return to the peace.
Dr. Janet Fraiser stood by Daniel’s bed. There was no medical reason for this. There was nothing to keep either Daniel, or Martouf and Lantash, from waking up. Nothing, that is, but the desire to do so. It was the only viable explanation at which she could arrive.
Taking his hand in hers, she began to speak quietly to him, “Daniel, there is no reason for you to be asleep. Once things calmed down, the Tok’Ra used the healing device, and it finished the job for you. It is time for you to come back to us now.”
Daniel knew that it was Janet talking to him again. All of them kept talking to him, stopping him from drifting farther into the warmth of the darkness. “Why was she here with him when he was fine? He was fine, wasn’t he? What was she saying now?”
“You promised Kataya that you would survive, and stay with us. You must do as you promised. You have to go on and continue to live,” Her voice continued, reaching him in the Mysts where he was quietly existing.
“You have to return to us and go on fighting the Goa’uld. You have a purpose to fulfill, a job you have to accomplish,” once again she urged him to return, but he knew she was wrong.
He would just as soon drift out here in the velvety soft darkness where the pain went away at least for a while. Daniel frowned. “What pain was he thinking about? Why did he know she was wrong?” Then a vision of Kataya dying flashed through his mind, and he turned away for a moment. “Not, yet, Janet. I cannot come yet, but I think, I really think that soon, I will. But, not yet.”
General Hammond looked at Janet Fraiser as he came to relieve her. She shook her head, “I am sorry, sir. There has been no change.”
The General nodded, and sat down in a chair they had pulled close to the bed. He had something he wanted to tell this man who had come to mean so much to him. He should have said it before now, but he had not. Well, he was going to tell him now. He wanted this man to know how much he meant to him, to all of them. He had changed them in many ways, made them see what, in the life they lived, was important. He was their voice of reason, their conscience; they needed him. They really needed him.
Taking a deep breath he began to tell him, “Son, I don’t know if you can hear me or not, but I am going to tell you anyway and assume you can. When I first met you, I didn’t have much use for you. It didn’t take me long to realize that whether you had come back the first trip to Abydos or not would have made no difference, and I am sorry for the way I treated you those first few days and weeks.”
“I will not tell you that I realized right away what an asset you were to us, but it didn’t take me very long, and I began to get the picture. You are a good, kind, and brave man, Dr. Jackson, and I consider myself privileged to be able to call you friend.”
“Why was the General telling him these things, and why was it so important that he do whatever it was they wanted?” He sounded sad, just like Teal'c, Jack, and Janet.
“We need you here. I need you here,” General Hammond said, to the still form lying in the bed. “Keep your promise to Kataya. You promised her you would stay, and god knows we need you more than ever. Come back to us, son.”
Daniel turned toward the voice and began to go toward it, but stopped. “Something was wrong. General Hammond should not be here talking to him like this. Why was he talking about his promise to Kataya?” Then he saw her smile as her trembling fingers touched his lips. “I must go. I love thee eternally, Dayillon.” He watched as her violet eyes closed. The pain cut into him like a knife. “No, he could not go back just yet. Please understand, General, I can’t, not yet.” Turning, he went back to the soft warm darkness.
“Daniel, you are floating away from us, you must come back. The three of us are bound to one another, and we must sustain each other. We are brothers, now.”
“Why was Lantash talking to him? Was he here in this place with him?”
“Yes, Daniel, yes, Martouf and I are here, and you must come back. You promised Kataya you would see to Martouf and I, and you must stay with us to do that. Just as we promised to take care of you, and you must stay close by that we may do that, also.”
Grumbling, Daniel floated over to the pulsating energy that was Martouf and Lantash, and entered their aura. He watched as the two attempted to entwine with him with some small success.
“Something bad happened. Something I do not want to remember,” Martouf said, suddenly. “Something none of us want to remember.”
Then he saw again their Samantha and heard her as she said good-bye to them, “You have given me so much. I will love you always.” Martouf returned to the forgetfulness and warmth of the blackness, and Daniel felt the same pain. Looking at the energy that was Lantash, he knew he was feeling it, too. You could actually see the edges of his aura tearing raggedly as the pain tore through them. They needed one another. They needed to stay together.
Brialek stood beside the bed where they had placed Lantash and Martouf. He and Daniel were in the same room, not more than six feet separating their beds. They had found that, odd as it sounded, when they moved the beds any farther apart, their heart rates increased drastically, as if they were extremely agitated, and the Tok’Ra had picked up increased brain activity. Janet’s tests backed that finding up. Whatever was going on, the two, well, three of them were aware of one another. Neither the Tok’Ra healers, nor the Tau’ri Doctors, could explain it, but it was obvious. Martouf, Lantash, and Daniel were very much aware of each other and became quite anxious when moved to far from each other.
He stood looking down at them, the same puzzlement with which the Tau’ri gazed at Daniel Jackson apparent on his face. It made no sense to the Tok’Ra healers. Martouf’s body had healed well, he was out of danger, but he refused to awaken. Lantash on the other hand, was not healing quickly at all. It was as if he was busy sustaining Martouf, instead of healing, which made no sense, either. He was still very weak and he, too, appeared to be refusing to awaken.
Taking the healing device in his hand, Brialek leaned over Martouf and again used it on Lantash, as he said, “Lantash, Martouf, hear me. You will not fail Samantha, your mate, the Blood of your Heart, and you will not fail Kataya, the adored one. You promised to survive and continue to fight the Goa’uld, and you will do so.” Brialek felt as if he had repeated that phrase a thousand times. It did not matter, he would repeat it ten thousand more if he had to. Lantash and Martouf were going to live.
“Brialek is talking to us again. What is he saying now?” Martouf asked Lantash.
“He is talking about a promise we made to Samantha,” Lantash answered quietly.
Martouf saw Samantha’s eyes close and her breath stop. “I am sorry, Brialek, I cannot come back, I cannot.” He turned away from him to re-enter the blackness that surrounded them. Lantash let him go, for he was not drifting away, he was simply escaping the pain for a while, as they were all doing.
“Lantash, Martouf, your mates expect you to survive and so do your children. You will not leave them, either. You must fight to stay with us. You must come back to us and continue. You gave your word, and that is something that you will not break, especially to your mate,” Brialek insisted as he ran the healing device over them once more. He frowned as he again wondered why Martouf was healed, but Lantash was still quite weak.
Martouf came back to the gray edge, and asked, “The healing device is helping you, Lantash?”
Hearing the anxiety in Martouf’s voice, Lantash reassured him, “It feels wonderful. Warm and soft, like the darkness that surrounds us. I feel as if I could get lost in it and simply stay here forever.”
“But, we cannot do that can we, Lantash?” Martouf said, softly. “Are we not supposed to be doing something for Samantha?” With the thought of her, the pain came back to both of them.
As the anguish moved through them, Lantash turned to Martouf, saying, “Yes. Yes, we are supposed to do something for Samantha, but not just yet. We will stay a little longer and rest. Daniel is quiet, resting. We should join him.”
“Yes. I hope Brialek understands that we cannot come back now,” Martouf said, before drifting toward the darkness again. Lantash agreed, as he followed Martouf and Daniel farther into the Mysts.
“Brialek, it is time that I took over. Jacob is finally sleeping, and I assume Selmak must be, also, or he would be here. I let them rest, as they are not sleeping enough.”
“No, they are not, but neither are you,” Brialek responded. “I can stay longer and continue with the healing device. It does not seem to matter whether we use it, or not, at this point. I think perhaps we do it more for us than for him,” he said sadly, not even trying to hide his dejection at his failure to heal Lantash completely.
Malek said, quietly, “I know you do not think it is helping, but we do not know that. He does not seem to be getting weaker, and I do think that he is, perhaps, slowly getting better. For all we know if we stopped using it, he could worsen. Although not as proficient with the healing device as you and Selmak, I can and will continue to use it on him.”
“You and your host both need to rest. I assure you, I will not fail to do what needs to be done,” Malek said, as he laid his hand on the other man’s arm, offering silent support.
Nodding, Brialek gave him the healing device, as he said, “As I indicated, Lantash is not responding to the healing device, and I am not sure why. He should be healed by now. It is as if he is expending his energy in some way. It is not as if he is not healing at all, for I believe the physical wounds are almost healed, but his strength is not returning. His energy signature is very low, but at least it sometimes goes up a little. I just wish it would stay up.”
“I understand, and I will continue to use it as you have been. Go and rest. I will be here, and I will not leave them, I promise you,” Malek assured him. “We will pull them through this Brialek, we must. We cannot, will not, lose them now, when they are so close to being healed,” Malek said, almost fiercely.
“I know, and I know you will do your best, just as we all are. I will return later this evening to check on him again.”
Malek nodded his acknowledgement, as Brialek quietly left the room, and then he turned back to look at the man on the bed. The pain in his chest as he looked on them no longer surprised him in its intensity. Lantash and he had been friends for many years, centuries in fact. He was fond of Martouf, too, for he was a perfect host for his friend. They were, he realized, not for the first time, both his friends. He could not let them drift away.
Activating the healing device, he said, “You must survive Lantash, it is the wish of the mates, and you promised them. We need you to survive, and they expect it of you,” Malek said. Then as his breath caught in his chest, as it had so many times recently during his talks with them, he continued, his voice husky with emotion, “You are my friends and my comrades, and I want you to return, also. I need you to return.”
“Why was Malek sounding so distraught? That was not like him. What did he want from him? Did he not know that he was doing all he could to sustain Martouf right now?” He watched again as Samantha told them she loved them, and then was gone. The soft warm blackness cradled him, and the pain left him for a while.
“I wish you to return to us, Martouf. We need you. You are respected and cared for by our people.” Cared for, Malek thought to himself, what a pathetic word to use for what they felt for him. “That is not true, many of us love you, for you are our brothers. We are Tok’ Ra, we have a purpose, a mission, and you promised Samantha that you would carry out that mission. You must return to us.”
“Why was Malek calling him out of this warm dark place where there was no pain? He did not wish to leave it.” Martouf frowned. “What was Malek saying now?”
“They loved you so much. Remember the legend and how it proved to be true; for there is no greater love in the universe than that of a Dragon Slayer for its mates. Dear universe, Samantha loved you both, so very much. You must not disappoint her. You know both Samantha and Kataya will be within the All, and they can see you.”
Lantash joined Martouf, and asked him, “What is he telling us? What does he want? Why is he talking of Samantha in that way?”
“We are failing them,” Martouf said, quietly. “He is saying that we are failing them.”
Malek continued, his voice rough with suppressed emotion, “Is this what you wish them to see of you? They expect to see you being strong and taking care of Daniel. You must take care of Daniel and Martouf, Lantash. And you, also, Martouf, made promises to take care of Daniel. You must do this.”
“What more did Malek want?” Lantash wondered. “Could he not see that he was doing what he could to keep both Daniel and Martouf here and alive? He had called them back numerous times.” Martouf was listening to Malek now. “Perhaps he could rest for a while longer in the black nothingness that held no pain or sorrow. Yes, he would leave and rest for a while, as Malek helped Martouf.”
Jacob walked up to stand beside Malek, and said, “I will take over now, Malek; you have been at this for hours. I am sorry you had to take my place with so little warning. Janet gave me something that made me sleep and Selmak, too. First time I have ever known something like that to put him out, but Janet said it only worked because he was so exhausted. I guess we both needed the sleep. As you do. I suggest that if you can’t sleep on your own, you go to see her because it really did help. A lot.”
Shaking his head as he picked up the healing device and again ran it over Martouf’s body, using it to give strength to Lantash, he said, “You could have slept longer, Jacob, I am fine. Go back to sleep, and Dev and I will stay with him a little longer.”
As Malek looked up, Jacob was surprised at the anguish he was allowing to show, as he whispered, “I am almost afraid to leave him, Jacob; he was not this way even when Kataya had to leave. I know that you do not understand, but Lantash and I have a long history together. He was with me through some very difficult times for me, and I—I was with him when Kataya left.”
“It is very true, Jacob, but they do not speak of it. To lose Lantash would be like losing a part of himself. In reality, they are much closer than one could tell from their public behavior. I would guess that he, as well as Devlin, is getting less sleep than we were before we saw Janet,” Selmak told Jacob quietly. “They are much closer than it appears on the surface.”
“What do you suggest, Sel? I can’t force him to sleep,” Jacob answered. “If he will not accept help from Janet, there is not much we can do for him but catch him when he collapses.”
Selmak replied, his voice calm, but with an undertone of deep concern, “No, but perhaps you can reason with him. Remind him courting incapacitation from exhaustion will not help Lantash or Martouf. Point out that if they collapse, and this goes on for long, then they are endangering both Martouf and Lantash,” Selmak paused in his suggestions, as he gave the situation some more thought. Evidentially coming to a decision, he asserted, “Malek is normally a very reasonable and logical being. If you can make him see what he is doing to himself and Devlin, he will take our advice. Point out to him that not only will he not be helping Martouf and Lantash, if he wears himself out, but that he is also causing distress and exhaustion in Devlin. If there is one thing that Malek will respond to, if the other arguments fail, then it is that he is hurting Devlin by his behavior.”
“Okay, Sel, I will give it a try. As they say, you have to break the eggs and mix in the flour, before you can make the noodles,” Jacob responded, while Selmak quickly looked through his memories to try to figure out why he was speaking of noodles. Finding nothing, he pushed the somewhat cryptic remark aside. He could always ask later.
Imitating Malek’s stance by leaning over the side of the bed, he looked at him closely. Sel was right. Malek was near the edge of exhaustion and this could not continue. Keeping his voice low, so that they could not be overheard, Jacob voiced their concern for the two of them, “Malek, you do realize that if you become exhausted and collapse, then you will not be able to come in here and call them back to us. That will be one less voice that they might listen to, one less reason for them to return. From what Sel tells me, you were one of the very, very few people Lantash allowed to help him before. You may be one of the few, or maybe even the only one, that can hold him here. We don’t know that for sure, of course, but are you willing to take the chance? Do you want to leave him without your support because you refuse to act responsibly? Do not take that help away from him this time, by not listening to reason. Personally, I think they need all of us, and that we are holding them here. I think they need all of us badly. For all that, what if it is your voice and your words that can not only hold them here, but can encourage them to begin to find their way back to us? You know the emotional anguish they might be experiencing. We know they are conscious of Daniel…what if they are also conscious and aware of Sam’ s…dying? If they are lost within their pain, then we have to be here for both of them. Please, Malek, do not allow yourself to become too exhausted to help them,” Jacob finished quietly, but firmly.
Sighing, Malek nodded, and allowed the healing device to stop. “Where would I find her?” He asked, just as quietly.
“Try her office. She was in there when I came in,” Jacob said softly. Then a thought springing to mind he said, “Malek, the Tau’ri will not look on the use of something to help you sleep as a weakness. They will consider that you are being realistic and will look on you with favor at what they perceive as your good sense and willingness to be helped through what is a difficult time for all of us. Don’t underestimate their understanding.”
“Jacob. I thank you.”
“Any time, Malek. We are all in this together.”
Jacob stood beside the bed. Looking up from the man lying in this bed, he gazed at the man in the other one and sighed. The Furling had not been wrong. The problem was with the wound to their hearts, not to their bodies. Looking back down to the man he was trying to recall to this world, he said to him, “Damn it, Martouf, you have to live. Hear what I am telling you, Lantash, you have to come back to us. Soon. You must return to us soon.”
“Who is calling me this time? What do they want?” Lantash wondered.
Sighing again, Jacob said, more softly. “Martouf, I know this is hard for you and Lantash. Hell, it is hard on all of us,” Jacob murmured to the man who was now his son, and the last link he had to his Sam. “Listen, I know what you are feeling, and I know that you just don’t care, but you promised Sam that you would go on without her, and that you would take care of those she left behind.”
Lantash heard Jacob’s voice catch, and then he heard him sigh again, deeply. Jacob was hurting and Lantash could not help him.
“Well, there are a bunch of us hurting y’know? I am hurting and Janet is hurting, Teal’c, Jack, and General Hammond are all hurting, too. Brialek, Jocasta, Garshaw, Calise, we are all hurting. Malek’s about to wear Devlin and himself out, and he is not sleeping; he is hurting so much. We all want you to keep your promise, and come back to us so that Sam and Kataya can be at peace.”
“You promised them, and you have to stay for us. And Daniel. Daniel, he’s gonna need you, too. You are a good man, Martouf. You are my sons now, you and Lantash, and I need you. We all need you, but most of all; Sam needed you to go on and keep fighting against the Goa’uld. You’ve gotta return to the fight, for Sam, like you promised.”
“Jacob is distraught. He is worried about us. We should tell him that we cannot come now. We must stay here for a while longer,” Lantash, said to Martouf.
“Why is Jacob distraught?” Martouf asked, and then saw again his Samantha, as she left them. “Oh. Now I remember. I am not ready to go yet, Lantash. I may never be ready to leave here.”
“I know,” Lantash sighed. “Neither am I. Not yet, but soon, Martouf. We must return soon and face what has happened. Go on with our lives. You can rest for a while yet, if you want to, though.”
“You know, I can remember when Sam was a little girl, she was so sweet and so loving, but she was also so stubborn. She never gave up once she started on something, whether it was putting together a bicycle, or taking apart some piece of machinery and putting it back together, or learning to bake a cake, my Sammie, never gave up until she got it done.”
“She never changed either; she was just as stubborn and just as adamant the day of the Battle as she’d ever been, and she would not want to see you and Lantash giving up either. She would expect you to get up and continue with what we have yet to do. Please don’t disappoint my little girl, and please don’t leave me alone with this grief. Come back and we will share it, and maybe it will help both of us. Live, like you promised her,” Jacob talked on into the night.
“Martouf, come, Jacob is talking to us again. You must come forward for a little while, and stop this constant drifting away towards the darkness. Jacob is telling us about Samantha as a little girl. He says we will hurt her if we do not return to the fight. If we do not keep our promise.”
“Why should we return, Lantash? When we head toward the light the pain returns. It cannot reach us here. Only their voices reach us. Why will they not let us be? Why can they not see that we do not wish to go on?”
“We promised Samantha that we would survive, and go on without them. We promised our mate, our...our wife. We should try to do as she wished. We must think about leaving here soon and returning to them. We have promises, vows, to keep.”
Martouf sighed deeply, before saying to Lantash, “Soon, Lantash, but for now, I wish to rest. I wish to lie quietly here in the warmth of the darkness. I promise I will try to be ready to go on soon.”
“All right, but only for a short while. We cannot leave Daniel alone, Martouf, for he might leave us, and we cannot allow that.”
“No, we will not allow that, but for now, I wish to stay in the arms of the darkness,” Martouf told him as he once more felt it close around him.
“Daniel, you must come back. You are drifting too far away. I cannot keep my promise to the mates if you drift too far away.” That was Lantash again, calling him to drift closer to them.
Sighing, Daniel forced himself to make his way to them. “I promised to take care of them, but god, I didn’t know it would hurt so much,” He thought as he approached them.
“All right, I am here,” he assured Lantash, “What is wrong?”
“We must help Martouf. He is not answering me. He fell back into the darkness to rest, but now, I cannot get him to answer me, and I am so tired, Daniel. You must try. He is drifting away from us,” Lantash said, his voice tired, but urgent, nonetheless. “You must do as they desired, as I am trying to do. We must not fail them,” Lantash said, sounding completely exhausted.
Looking at the dimly pulsing light within Lantash’s aura, he asked, “Is that him? Why is he so pale?” Daniel frowned. “Lantash, too, looks dimmer, as if he is growing weaker. He has called both Martouf and I back many times now. I have to do as Kataya wanted and take care of them.”
“I do not know, but perhaps he is refusing to live. He is not trying to come back to us. I am sorry, Daniel, but there was much damage done to me. You and Martouf have healed quite well, and you have much strength to give to Martouf. You must try Daniel. Please, you must try,” Lantash, said, his voice sounding anxious, near desperation.
Moving closer to the pulsing light Daniel attempted to entwine once again. “Martouf, you must come back from the darkness. If you don’t, Sam will be upset and disappointed in you, and it will make her unhappy. You have to come back. You are hurting Lantash. You are not keeping your promise,” Daniel tried again, to get Martouf to come to him.
“Why should I come to the two of you? She is gone. What does it matter? What does anything matter?” He wanted to know.
“It matters because we promised. We have to live up to our vows. I don’t want to either, but we have to. Come on. Come back, and let us try to entwine again. I think if we can succeed in entwining, we will be able to find our way out of here. Because right now, I think the three of us have just drifted farther and farther into the darkness. The light seems a long way away. Farther than it was. I think we are lost, and it is going to take all three of us to make it back. Come on, Lantash is losing his strength because of us, and we promised to take care of him, too,” Daniel urged.
“All right, all right, I will come back for Lantash, if you truly think he needs me,” Martouf agreed, as he once again began to pulse and glow more brightly.
“There is no doubt that he needs you. We have healed, but he is still weak and tired from his injuries and helping us all stay together. We are letting him down by not helping him. We must help ourselves and stop depending on him, and we need to help him, as well,” Daniel said.
“All right, Daniel. I will try,” Martouf told him solemnly.
Daniel felt relief flood him. He had to do as Kataya asked of him. He must take care of these Coeurata’irs of his.
“Someone is calling to us,” Lantash said suddenly, as he attempted to rejoin them.
“It is probably just Jack, or Teal'c, or Malek, or Jacob,” Daniel responded. “We will listen to them after we have attempted to entwine our auras again.”
“No. No, it is not, Daniel. Do you not feel their presence?” Lantash asked, once again.
“I do,” Martouf spoke up suddenly. “I feel it very strongly. They are calling to us to go forth to the light that is the universe and begin again to build and live our lives. They are saying,” he frowned, slightly, listening, “they are saying that the Dragon’s mates have a strong life force, and we must use it to go back to the world we know.”
“It is Merdwin and Artereos. They are asking that we join one another,” Daniel said. “I think they are entwining our blood. Yes, they have cut our throats, and our wrists, and I can feel my blood seeking yours and Lantash’s, Martouf. There, it is entwining and joining at last,” Daniel stated softly, his relief evident.
“Yes,” Lantash said, “I concur. This will help to lead us home.”
Watching as their auras and pulses entwined and grew brighter Daniel agreed, “Yes, I think we can start to go forward now. What a peaceful feeling,” he said, and he watched, as Martouf seemed to stand away from them, and yet still be a part of them.
“I agree. This is what we have needed. We should not have put off the blood joining before the battle. You can both stop worrying about me now. I will not drift away from you again,” Martouf assured them quietly, but firmly.
“Neither will I,” Daniel agreed. “But, Martouf, I believe we need to tend to Lantash; he is not yet strong. He looks very weak even now, and he is not growing brighter as we are. I believe he has used his life-force for us. Of all of us, he has come the nearest to fulfilling his promise to Sam and Kataya, for although he would not go to the light, he would not allow us to cease to exist. He has been diligent in recalling us, and now we must help him.”
“Yes and once he has completely regained his strength we can all go forward together.” Martouf paused for a moment examining an unusual, but oddly comforting feeling, then he said, “They have left our wrists bound and the wound open that we will remain closely tied until we return and remove it.”
“Yes, I feel it, too,” Daniel said, quietly. “And we will return soon now.”
With a brother on either side of him, Lantash slept. As they floated quietly in the darkness, Daniel looked toward the light of the universe. He frowned for a moment, and then turned to Martouf saying, “I feel as if there is something we are supposed to do. Something we have left undone.”
Martouf nodded, as he answered, “I think it has to do with our promises and the fact that we are still needed. We cannot end our journey now, nor are we ready to take a new path. The old one is not yet traversed. I vowed to avenge her death by continuing to fight against the Goa’uld. Perhaps I should not have, but I do not regret my vow, and I believe that once my heart begins to heal, I will fight even harder to stop them.”
“I vowed that I would help to avenge the deaths that the Goa’uld cause. Moreover, like you, I do not regret my vow. I believe it will give us a greater purpose, something to strive for that will help us to begin again to live and go on. I am sure Kataya was aware of that, too,” Daniel replied. “I think, also, that we have to make our way to the light and not let the anguish of our parting stop us once we start. We have to be strong and determined once we begin the journey back, or we will not ever get there.”
“You feel that, too? That this is a journey we have taken, but that it is now time to return to our lives and pick up the threads, so that we might continue to fulfill our purpose?” Martouf was curious as to whether Daniel, also, felt they had been on a journey of sorts.
Daniel frowned again, as he thought about it, and then he said, “I believe that we are being tested in some way, but I don’t know what or how. I know that we cannot fail to keep our vows, and that by doing that, we will have done what was needed.”
“I think so, too. I think that perhaps this journey was to see how strong our life force truly was and perhaps our determination as well as our strength of purpose. I am glad I am not the only one feeling these things,” Martouf said to him. He paused, before continuing, “If our friends had not called to us, we might have failed in our journey, Daniel. Do you think that will count against us?”
“I don’t think so. I think how we manage after we go back will be more important as well as what we do now that the blood tie has been accomplished. I think that was a part of everything. Now that it is completed, whatever we do from here on out is what is the most important. We will talk to Lantash when he is rested, but I feel sure that he will agree,” Daniel answered.
“Daniel, we can support Lantash between us. We can slowly begin to move toward the light so that when he gains back his strength, we will be most of the way there. He has supported us as we drifted, and he has kept us together. We can do this for him, can we not?” Martouf asked.
Daniel looked toward the light glowing dimly in the distance. He frowned as he gave thought to what Martouf said. “It was true; Lantash had kept them together and followed them as they went farther into the darkness. They could do this for him. He was resting; his energy level stable for now and seemingly brighter than it had been earlier. If they stopped and rested often, perhaps they could make it most of the way before he awoke completely. On the other hand, if he awoke and they were closer to the light the pain would be more intense when he awoke.” Finally, he made a decision and turned to Martouf, “I don’t think we should try just yet. Not with him this weak. I don’t think we want to get him too close to the light and then have him wake up and be in pain right now. Let’s let him rest for a while first, okay?”
Martouf looked down at Lantash and then at the light. He nodded his agreement to Daniel. "Perhaps, they should wait for a while, at least until Lantash seemed to gain some strength."
Time was passing; they could tell by the changing of the people sitting with them. Soon, they would have to go forward toward that light and face their lives again.
Martouf said, softly, “I think Lantash is better than he was, Daniel. He seems stronger; he is glowing brighter, and I think we can slowly begin to move toward the light.” He paused, and then said, “I believe Malek is sitting with us again. Jacob has just left. Malek is stroking our hand. He has been a good friend to us. We have caused him much pain by not coming back to them sooner. Jacob also, has done everything he could to bring us back. He is in a great deal of pain over,” his breath caught on the pain, and he forced himself to continue, “over Samantha’s loss. He wishes us to come back to him so that he does not lose a son, as well as a daughter. Brialek, Jocasta, and even Garshaw came and talked to us, before she had to return to the base. I did not realize how many people truly cared for Lantash and I,” he said, surprise in his tone.
“I know what you mean. There is always someone sitting with me. Often touching me, and calling for me to come back to them. They sound so sad. I know Jack is very upset, and I wish I could help him. The sooner we go back, the better it will be for all of them, I think. They are very worried about the three of us,” Daniel replied, as they began to move toward the light supporting Lantash.
“Daniel?” Martouf asked, “Have you noticed that they are no longer talking to us about our promises to Samantha and Kataya? Do you think our friends have given up on us?”
“No, I think they know, as we do, that this is something we have to do on our own now. It is time we stopped depending on them to call us back, and I think they know that. I would guess that Artereos told them that it is now up to us to do as Sam and Kataya asked, or die. It is our choice, and they are letting us make it.”
“I wish we could tell them we have chosen to live, so they would stop worrying so much,” Martouf said quietly.
“As soon as Lantash is well, we will go. It should be soon, he is much brighter than he was, even more than he was a little while ago. I am not sure, but I think it has been almost three days since Artereos was here,” Daniel replied.
“How do you know that, Daniel?” Martouf asked.
“The nursing staff has changed enough times for it to be almost three days. When Lieutenant Marlow comes back, it will be three days, I think. I don’t know how long it was before Artereos and Merdwin came,” Daniel answered.
“Then do you not think that it is time for us to move toward the light?” Lantash’s voice surprised them both.
“Yes, and actually we have slowly been working that way. We are almost there. There is Lieutenant Marlow. It has been three days since Artereos was here,” Daniel said.
“Then come, we must now go the remainder of the way,” Lantash said, sounding much stronger.
“Yes, I agree, for I believe they are getting more worried. Jacob has rejoined Malek, even though he was here not long ago,” Martouf pointed out, softly.
“Yes, and Jack and Teal’c are both here. They don’t usually both stay. Okay, then, let’s go. We have put these people through more than enough already. It is time to put their minds at rest,” Daniel said, quietly.
“Hi, Jack, how long have we been gone?” Daniel said quietly, to the man sitting beside his bed. He heard Martouf asking the same thing of Malek. They had made it back, and the light was right above their beds. “Do ya think we could turn the lights down a little? They are really bright. Hey, Teal’c, how ya doin’?”
“Daniel?” Jack’s head jerked up at the raspy sound of his friend’s voice.”
“I am well, Daniel Jackson, and I believe that I will be even better now,” Teal’c replied calmly, but with relief evident in his voice.
Daniel smiled slightly at Teal’c, and then said, “Yeah, Jack, it is me; do you think I could have some water? I am kind of thirsty,” Daniel said. Then, “It is good to be back, guys. Thanks for calling us.”
Jack closed his eyes and thanked whatever gods were listening, before opening them, and hitting the button that would notify Janet Fraiser and bring her at a run. Then he helped Daniel to get a drink, just as Jacob was doing for Martouf. Finally, the long dark night was coming to an end.