Chapter Five Summary: George Hammond and Jacob spend an interesting evening together discussing how to bring the Tok'Ra and the Tau'ri to a better understanding of one another. Selmak talks to Janet and takes her by surprise...pleasantely so.
"Italics" - Symbiote-Host communications
George Hammond and Jacob Carter relaxed in deep overstuffed chairs and swirled their scotch. They had a wonderful meal, discussed old times, more recent events, and talked about their grandchildren. They were back at George’s home now, though, so they could talk more freely.
Finally, George brought up the topic they had touched on earlier at the base, saying, “I had a long talk with Martouf, and also with Lantash, after this happened. I am ashamed to say that it is the first time I have ever had a one on one conversation with them, with no one else around, where we actually began to get to know one another.” He looked embarrassed for a moment, and then confessed, “When we first told them about Sam leaving, it was obvious that Lantash was furious. At one point, Dr. Fraiser suggested that Martouf take control and Lantash informed us, in no uncertain terms, that if Martouf was in control the base would probably be destroyed. Well, not exactly those words, he was much more restrained, but we got the idea.”
“I realized then that I really knew very little about them and as two aliens under my command, just as I had spent time with Teal’c to learn about him, I should have done the same with them. Everyone in that room assumed that Lantash was the more violent, the less restrained, of the two of them.”
“Martouf admitted later that his temper was something he guarded against because, if he became really furious, he tended to break things. He told us that he tried never to allow that to happen, but this had caught him off guard, and Lantash had taken over to control him. He said that he realized we would not consider that acceptable, but that it was something those that blended came to appreciate and accept as a good thing when they were prevented from doing something, ah, detrimental to themselves and others.”
George stopped for a moment recalling that confession, and smiling, he added, “He also assured us that his temper was always taken out on inanimate objects or the Goa’uld, rarely against others, and never against women or someone that could not defend themselves. I was glad to hear him say that, and yet, I realized that we should have known it without him having to assure us of the truth of that. Just another indication that I needed to become better acquainted with the two of them.”
He shrugged self-consciously before saying, “There is that underlying feeling that some of us seem to have, and I am sure you are aware of it, that even though their beliefs and outlook are different, they are still, at least physically, Goa’uld and therefore, we won’t understand them, even if we try. I found that to be very untrue after talking to Lantash. His emotions are as human as yours or mine, and I am ashamed that it took something like this, for me to take the time to get to know him. He is a very likeable, er, being.”
“Lantash has always seemed so controlled and for the most part, unemotional, other than a few somewhat upsetting outbursts, most notably one time in particular over Sokar, which shocked us all, that I think we all believed he did not feel things deeply unless it pertained to the Goa’uld. I think we have all felt that the only thing the Tok’Ra in general are truly passionate about is the Goa’uld and defeating them. I can only assume we made that assumption because they seem so formal and, sort of, I don’t know, cool... standoffish?” He allowed his voice to ask rhetorically, before continuing, “Anyway, after talking to Lantash, I realize all of our assumptions were off the mark by a whole big bunch.”
“I guess I was shocked, and surprised, to find out that he is a very passionate being about other things as well. His feelings for Sam go so deep that…” he stopped, not sure how to say what he was feeling. “I just never realized how deeply the Tok’Ra feel about their mates. To him, Sam is everything. She is the center of his world. Lantash has several passions. One is the fight against the Goa’uld, of course. That almost goes without saying, but I am listing it anyway. The other things he feels passionately about are his fellow Tok'Ra, Martouf, Sam, and now this coming child. Should anything happen to any one of the final three on that list, well, it would devastate him.” He paused and then added, "I forgot something else he is passionate about; Daniel Jackson. He feels very deeply about Daniel and all the care and love he has for Sam, and the friendship he has shown to him, as well as, Martouf. Once he said it, I realized that it should not have surprised me. Not only do he and Daniel get along well, but Daniel always knows whether he is talking to Lantash or Martouf."
He shook his head before commenting, “I do not know how they stand losing their hosts as close as they become to them. I guess that was another shock. We always assumed it was just lip service, but I could tell as we talked that he truly cared about Martouf. Much more intensely than I would have thought possible. And he also feels a deep bond with the other Tok’Ra, some more than others, it is true, but still, he has strong emotional ties to them.”
“Martouf, well, he explained the symbiotic relationship in a much clearer way than it has ever been explained before. I did not realize the bond between the symbiote and the host became so intense. He explained it to me as the type of bond that would exist between long time lovers. He said that, because you know everything about one another, you eventually do become almost as if you are one being. You still have separate likes, and dislikes, but it becomes important to please the being you are sharing your life with so totally.”
“He told me that the caring for one another takes on the overtones of those you have for your mate, and that in many ways you actually become mates with an intimacy that is the kind shared by lovers. He went on to explain that in many ways you become lovers in the true sense of the word, not in the sexual context, but as beings who love each other totally. I am glad we talked, Jacob. I understand more about their feelings and emotions, as well as how they exist together. How they share everything. Between Martouf and Lantash, I think I have a much better understanding of the Tok’Ra, and what makes them tick, what drives them, and how deeply attached they can become to humans. And how attached their human hosts become to them.”
“I guess it just seemed strange, at first, that there could be such love shared between different species. And I know this sounds silly, but I thought about humans and their dogs, their cats, their horses, and on, and on. If we can have deep feelings about a species we can’t really even communicate with on a verbal level, how much deeper could a bond be between two that can communicate? It opened my eyes, that is all.”
“What are you grinning about, Jake?” George stopped his monologue long enough to ask.
“I was showing Selmak dogs, cats, and horses and showing him some of my emotions about some of the pets I lost over the years. He wanted to know if I was the dog or if he was. He saw the humorous side of your statement that is all, George, and he is not insulted. He thinks it is great if it helped you to understand our bond and he can see how you could extrapolate from those emotions onto the host/symbiote bond and realize how much deeper it would be.”
“Good, I am glad he understands because I would not insult him for the world. I am also glad because it upholds another thought I had. If the symbiotes were truly as arrogant as we tend to think they are, my statements would have insulted him. He was not. That brings me to the next part of what I have been thinking about since my talk with Martouf and Lantash. I think their arrogance, in many respects, is a shield they put up. In some of them, it may be their Goa’uld genes showing themselves, but I do not think that is the norm. It is simply that they are not sure how to relate to people, to humans other than their hosts, or how people are going to react to them.”
“I am sure they do not always get greeted with open arms. Hell, we sure did not go out of our way to be the most diplomatic of groups, and Jack’s attitude has colored too many other people’s views of them. I am going to take care of that problem as well. I will not have Lantash treated the way he has been. Please do not misunderstand. I do not mean that anyone has treated Lantash in an actively hostile way. He has not been. However, he knows that people are uncomfortable with him and he does not come forward in a group very often. It is only since this has all come about that I have realized that Lantash rarely comes forward except with Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c. He knows they are comfortable around him, like him as he is, and accept him. It is only occasionally that he will come forward with Jack, myself, and Janet Fraiser.”
“It is time that other people get to know, like, and accept him, so his not coming forward except with them is going to change, too, and it is going to change soon. I plan to ask him to be sure to spend time at the forefront in front of others, so they can get to know him. I think once they do, they will find him as likeable as I do, as Sam does, and as Daniel does. I think that perhaps Teal’c understands Lantash more than we realize, too, and Lantash seems to know that.”
“I am glad to hear that, George. I knew Lantash was not feeling accepted, but he would never actually say anything. However, he did not come forward as often as usual. He and Martouf tend to share the body a lot more than some of the others do. Many Tok’Ra simply find that one is more comfortable being with certain groups, and they know when which one should take control. Many of the couples tend to allow the symbiote control on Tok’Ra business, but when they relax, the host tends to take over. That is something you rarely see, of course.”
“Selmak and I are unusual in that I tend to have control quite a bit more than he does, even in the Tunnels. He does not mind, and it allows him to monitor things that I might miss. If there is something that he is better at, then he comes forward. Around the SGC, he lets me have control almost constantly since he knows it makes others uncomfortable to be around him.”
“I know. I would like for him to start coming forward more as well though, Jake. I think our people need the exposure to the symbiote. They need to learn that they have human emotions even if they are not human. Our people need to see that they feel the things we feel and want the things we want. Our people need to understand that, and the only way they will learn it is if they are around them. I am thinking about contacting Garshaw about an exchange program other than Anise and Lantash. I think we need to see others as well. In addition, I am also going to ask Anise to come forward more often. It needs done for our two peoples to come to know each other better, and it has to start somewhere. We have the perfect opportunity with two of our people marrying and, er, joining, mating, with Tok’Ra. I want that understanding to grow not wither.”
George watched as his friends eyes glowed indicating that Selmak had taken him at his word and allowed Jacob to talk him into talking to his friend. “I agree, General Hammond. Our people need to come closer together if they are ever to understand one another. I will be most happy to attempt to help you, and I will promise you not to be insulted by some of the things that I am sure I will hear, any more than your people should allow themselves to be insulted when they come to stay in the Tunnels. Both sides have much to learn and, as you know in your own diverse cultures, sometimes it takes time for understanding to grow. We will help you plant this seed and hope that it grows into a healthy plant, or child, whichever way we wish to view it.”
“Thank you. And now that you are here, I have a question. What are the chances that Daniel and Freya will have a child? I know Anise would have to sleep, but it could be done, couldn’t it? Perhaps if it became a more common occurrence, the Tok’Ra would no longer view it as quite such an extraordinary event. And there really is not a reason they could not is there?”
Selmak blinked at General Hammond for a moment before he smiled. “You are correct, General. Perhaps we should begin to drop some hints to Daniel, and of course to Freya, for she must convince Anise to allow her to release her eggs. Once Samantha has returned, perhaps she could talk to Anise and Freya and point out that if they had their children close together, they would all have playmates as they grow up. I agree that it is a very good idea. The Tok’Ra are not used to children, but they do not dislike them; they simply cannot have them and are seldom around them.”
The two men sat in contented silence as they contemplated the future. Perhaps things would begin to straighten out shortly. Lantash and Martouf would learn to control their fear, Samantha would come home, and the Tok’Ra and the Tau’ri would begin a new stage in their relationship. Swallowing a little more scotch, they both decided that sometimes life is good.
Selmak and General Hammond had breakfast on base the next morning and true to his word, Selmak had remained in control and talked to different people that had come up to talk to the General. George had been sure to introduce him as if he was a completely separate person from Jacob and after the first shock of having Jacob take the back seat, most had not appeared to have a problem with talking to him. Jacob coached him, reminding him to smile once in a while. The fact that he and the General appeared to be getting along well went a long way towards easing any tension. If the personnel saw it work at the top, it could also filter down.
Jack looked curious as they invited him to join them. He also seemed slightly uncomfortable until General Hammond said quietly, “Get used to it, Jack, because this is the way it is going to be until people become more comfortable with the Tok’Ra. I am not going to have Anise and Lantash uncomfortable while they are here at the SGC anymore. It is simply not acceptable. We are going to make them welcome and come to know them. I am not going to continue to allow them to feel as if they should stay out of sight, so that our people will not be uncomfortable. Our people are going to get to know them, so they will not be uncomfortable. It would not surprise me to know that Major Carter is also concerned about that, and it may be another reason she wants to leave. She is as much aware of the fact that Lantash is not as accepted as Martouf is, as we are. She was much more comfortable and accepted by the Tok’Ra, when she was in the Tunnels, than Lantash has been here. That is going to stop. Your attitude is going to undergo a change. You will speak of them with more respect. That, Colonel,” General George Hammond stated, “is an order.”
Jack understood. He nodded as he answered, “Yes, sir.” This was not a suggestion by the General. It was not negotiable and while there were many things that Jack could skirt, avoid, and out right disobey, he could tell that this was not one of them. The Tok’Ra were to be treated with respect. Period. Got it.
“George and I were discussing some of the Tok’Ra that we thought might be good candidates for an exchange program, Colonel,” Selmak stated. “Do you have any that you feel would fit in better than others?”
“I don’t know a lot of them. Aldwin? Maybe Ren’al and Malek?
Selmak nodded. “Malek is a base commander, so he might not be able to stay for an extended time, but he might consider a short stay. I thought that perhaps Arwanna and Daimesh might consider coming. They are a mated pair, and she and Samantha became quite close during Samantha’s stay in the Tunnels.”
“I remember them. Yeah, they would probably be good. I mean it would be a pair so people could see that the Tok’Ra have couples that are sort of like our couples. I mean they see Carter and Martouf, but that is one of us and one, er, two, ah, a pair of you, just like Daniel and Anise and Freya. So they might be some good ones to use for a "getting to know you" type of exchange.”
“I will ask them as soon as we return to the Tunnels then. Thank you for your input, Colonel,” Selmak said solemnly, in his deep measured tone.
“Sure, anytime,” Jack responded, and then continued, “Well, if you don’t need me for anything else, I have some paperwork with my name on it that is calling me. Or so the General told me yesterday evening when he asked for it, er, again,” Jack groused, almost good-naturedly, as he stood to leave. Giving them a lopsided grin and a jaunty salute, he strode out of the cafeteria and headed for his office and the dreaded paperwork. Paperwork was one of those “must do” things, so while they were on base he might as well get it finished. It looked like there were going to be some changes. He wondered how everyone would adjust. Seeing Teal’c in the hall ahead of him, he hurried to catch up.
“Hey, Teal’c,” he called as he got closer.
Teal’c stopped and turned toward him as he heard his friend call his name. “Good morning, O’Neill. Is there something I can do for you?” He asked in his usual stoic way.
“Nah, not really. Have you, uh, talked to the General this morning?” Jack asked, attempting nonchalance and patently failing to achieve it.
“I have, O’Neill. I sat with him and Selmak for quite some time during breakfast. We discussed the idea of more Tok’Ra and SGC personnel becoming part of an exchange program. More people need to become accustomed to the Tok’Ra if we are to remain viable allies. Having Anise and Lantash here has not had the success I had hoped, mostly, I believe, because they do not come forward often enough. I believe that General Hammond has come to the same conclusion, and that he has asked Selmak to spend time talking to SGC members while he is here, and that he plans to do the same of Lantash and Anise. I believe it is an excellent idea.” It was a very long speech for Teal’c, but left Jack in no doubt as to how he felt about the entire situation.
“So you have no problem with more snakes walking around the base?” Jack asked, slipping into his normal mode of referring to the Tok’Ra.
“I do not think of them as snakes, but as an alien species different from any other I have known. They are of the same species as the Goa’uld, yet they are not Goa’uld. I have found Lantash and even Anise, to be very intelligent. I enjoy both their company and their conversation very much,” Teal’c replied solemnly.
“Right. I have to start thinking that way, too. I am just finding it a little difficult. Like I said before; I will never trust a Goa’uld.”
Teal’c nodded, “So you have said before. However, we are not talking of the Goa’uld. We are talking of the Tok’Ra, who are very different from the Goa’uld. By lumping them all together, it is the same thing as saying that all humans are exactly the same with the same traits, weaknesses, needs and wants, a patently untrue statement. Therefore, while you can class the Tok’Ra with the Goa’uld as a species, you cannot paint them with the same brush.”
Jack stared at Teal’c, and then thought of Lantash and his obvious anguish over Sam, his love and caring of her. “Yeah. Yeah, Teal’c, you may just be right. Well, I have paperwork calling my name. Talk to you later, T.”
“Indeed, O’Neill. Indeed.” Teal’c agreed as he watched his friend walk away. Perhaps it was not too late to hope that Jack O’Neill would discover that the Tok’Ra were not the Goa’ uld. He certainly hoped so for he was missing a very fulfilling friendship by not allowing Lantash to get to know him, or for him to get to know Martouf and Lantash. Time alone would tell. He would go to the gym. He needed some exercise. These on world days were very long for him at times. On the other hand, perhaps he would kel-no-reem. Either occupation would pass the time.
Selmak, Jacob, and General Hammond wandered the base and talked to people, being sure they talked mostly to Selmak. They did the same in the gym, in the control room, in the infirmary, in the halls, in the rec room, although at this time of day only a few off-duty personnel were there, and during lunch. General Hammond had been amused at the alacrity with which Selmak had taken him up on his suggestion that they stop by the infirmary in the middle of the afternoon. He was not surprised to see Jacob come forward and spend most of his time talking to Janet Fraiser. He did not even notice when George left to go get some paperwork done, but Janet had seen the hand signal over his shoulder and blushed as she realized that the General knew she was attracted to Jacob Carter and was arranging for them to have time alone.
She suggested that it was time for her to take a break and invited them to join her. After realizing that George had left, they agreed, and headed for the cafeteria, the closest thing one could get to a place to meet and talk other than the rec room. Neither was the most romantic place in the world. She wished she could somehow let Jacob know that she found him attractive, and that she would like to get to know Selmak. She did not want to insult him by telling him she wanted to talk to Selmak, but she did not know how else to get around to meeting and talking to him more. After all, if you took one of them on, you took both of them. From what she had seen of Sam and Martouf’s relationship, the symbiote added another dimension to the relationship that was pretty wonderful.
Suddenly, Janet returned to the present and the man sitting across from her, as what he said penetrated her mind. “…and so we decided that the people need more symbiotes to get to know than just Lantash and Anise. I imagine that Selmak and I will be spending more time here with Selmak in control, so that people can interact with him.”
“I think that is a wonderful idea,” Janet said quietly. “So, does that mean that he will be coming forward to talk to me, so that I can get to know him, too?” She asked. What an opportunity, she thought as Jacob looked up at her, appearing startled.
Then he smiled at her, “Yes, I guess it does.” He dropped his head and she watched as it raised and his eyes glowed.
“Hi,” she said softly. “How have you been?”
He smiled at her and even laughed a little, saying, “I have been quite well, Dr. Fraiser.” The depth of his voice startled her. She had heard it so seldom, and though she knew that Lantash’s was deep, it always startled her anew when she heard Selmak, or Lantash for that matter, speak.
She smiled self-consciously, as she said, “Yes, of course you have been. It is such a common question for us. We tend to use it to break the ice, you know, start a conversation when we are not sure what to say. And please, call me Janet.”
Reaching across the table, he took her hand as Jacob sputtered in his head. “What are you doing? You are going to horrify her! She is young enough to be my daughter!”
“Very well. Janet. It is a delightful name. Tell me, Janet; are you as attracted to Jacob as he is to you? I feel that you are, but for some reason you are afraid to tell him so. Is it because of me?”
Janet Fraiser’s jaw dropped for a moment, but she recovered quickly, as his words sank in. “Jacob – Jacob is attracted to me as well? Why did he never say so? He has never even asked me out!” She exclaimed, suddenly indignant.
Selmak smiled sardonically, as he said, “I am unfamiliar with the mating rituals of the Tau’ri, but this asking out, is it something which I may do as well as Jacob? Would it be acceptable?”
“Yes. Yes, it would be quite acceptable. I am glad to see you work a little faster than Jacob does. Would you mind telling me, though, why Jacob never asked me out himself, if he really was interested in me in that way?”
“Two reasons actually. I am the first, of course. He was afraid you would never consider becoming involved with what is for all intents and purposes an alien being, for now that we are blended, he is an alien to you,” he said, watching her expression carefully. It did not change, so he gleaned nothing from it. “The second is because he feels he is too old for you. Since I am very much older than he, if age is in fact a problem for you, then you are much more likely to object to me, than to him.”
“We meet aliens all the time in this job, and Sam is married to one. She seems very happy for the most part, except for this problem with the, ah, over protectiveness, which we are all guilty of, not just Martouf and Lantash. Her relationship with the two of them, though, is wonderful from what she has told me. Consequently, I would like to get to know you, and I do not consider the fact that you are an alien a negative factor, or a detriment to us having a relationship. As for his age, it is rather irrelevant isn’t it? My age is the one about which he should be more concerned. He will actually age slower than I will, so I hardly think that matters, unless he does not want to be involved with an older woman down the road.”
“I doubt he had thought of it in those terms, but you are correct, Janet, and he will age less quickly than you and you are correct; he had not considered it, but he says it does not matter. Age is irrelevant. Therefore, we have passed both hurdles in a very short space of time. Therefore, I will now, what was it you said? Ah, I remember. I will now ask you out if I can get the particulars from Jacob.”
Janet watched, fascinated, as they carried on an internal conversation. Finally, he looked up to say, “He informs me that we must request your company to a meal, or a movie, or both. Since we will, in all probability, not be leaving the base this evening, would you consider joining us for a meal here in the cafeteria this evening, and then, perhaps, a movie in the rec room? On the other hand, Jacob says we could go to our room here on base if that would be acceptable, since it would give us more privacy from prying eyes. He is thinking that you might not wish to be seen with us.”
Janet smiled and shook her head, as she answered, “I have no objection to being seen with you, but I would like to have a quiet evening just getting to know you both a little better, so I will compromise. As I said, I will not mind at all if people see us together, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say. Therefore, I will accept your offer of a meal here, and then we will go to the rec room, for a short time, and perhaps watch some TV or play some pool. Then, we will allow every one there to see us leave together, and we will spend the remainder of the evening in your room watching TV, or doing whatever else sounds interesting, or comes to mind. By leaving early with you, and being seen going to your room, it will be understood that I am staking my claim,” she said placidly. She watched Selmak’s eyes widen and grinned, knowing that Jacob was explaining her final comment to him.
Letting him catch his breath, she continued, “Now, thank you for the invitation. What time would you like to meet for the meal? Would six or so do?” She asked, thinking she could go home and change if she left a little early.
“That would be delightful, Janet. Tell me. By being seen leaving with you in this way, does it also point out to others that Jacob and I have also, er, staked our claim?” He wanted to know.
“The women will understand at once, but you will have to ask Jacob about the male half of the population. I can make it plain in other ways, of course, if you decide you want me to,” she answered suddenly realizing how forward she had been. It was out of character, but she had wanted to get to know Jacob Carter for a long time, and she was tired of waiting around. She had the opportunity, and she was taking it, by golly.
“I find that I like the idea of the other males on the base knowing that we have claimed you, Janet. Thank you for allowing that and for agreeing to allow us to take you out. Shall we come by your office at eighteen hundred hours, er, six o’clock?”
“Yes, that will be fine, and unfortunately, I need to go back there now. It is already well into the afternoon and I have some things to finish before I can get ready for our date. We have been here quite a while.”
“That is very true. I had hoped that Daniel and Martouf would have returned today. Evidently Martouf and Lantash are having a great deal of trouble coming to terms with everything,” Selmak said, with a sigh.
Janet stood, as she nodded her agreement. Then looking down and seeing their troubled look, she said, “If they should come back, I will understand that you need to spend time with them. I will not expect you to come by if they come through. We will do it another time though, that I promise you. I – I have wanted to get to know you, for quite some time, and I have wanted to become better acquainted with Jacob as well, so if something happens that preempts our evening, we will take a rain-check, and do it another time.”
Selmak looked at her and his features softened, as he said, “Thank you, Janet, that is very thoughtful and generous of you. And be sure that if Lantash and Martouf turn up, and we do have to cancel this evening, then we will gladly agree to your rain-check, which Jacob assures me is simply a promise to do something at a later time, and we will indeed have our, ah,” he paused, obviously listening, “date, later. I will promise you, also. I will, in fact, look forward to it with great pleasure, whether it is tonight, or in the future.”
Leaning forward on the spur of the moment, Janet surprised herself and kissed him softly on the lips, startling a small gasp from him, before he smiled up at her. Blushing at her forwardness, she turned and left the room. But, she couldn’t stop the smile that kept curving her lips.
Whether tonight or some other night, she would spend time with them. Suddenly, her life had taken a turn for the better. She could not wait for Sam to get back. Somehow, she thought she would be pleased even though it was her dad. Janet frowned as she thought about that supposition. Maybe she should discuss it with Jacob. She thought Sam would not mind, but it was her father, so maybe she would. Yes, she definitely should talk to Jacob about it first thing because she was not about to cause Sam anymore grief than she already had. She was honest enough to admit that she, too, had been part of the problem that finally caused Sam to run.
She walked into her office and sat down. She was glad that Jacob had told her that Sam was with the Tok’Ra, and that was why he was here. He had said she was fine, but missing Martouf and Lantash very much. She had confessed her part in the debacle, and he had assured her that he understood. In addition, he said, it was worse even than she knew, and he had explained about Jack and the guards. Janet shook her head. She could not believe that Jack would have assigned people to follow Sam to the restroom. She sighed. Between all of them, it was a wonder Sam had not run off screaming long ago.
She just hoped that Martouf and Lantash could come to terms with their part of this. The General could order Jack not to interfere. He could order her to take fewer blood tests and not to hover so much. Daniel would realize what he had done and could talk to Nyan and explain so the young man’s feelings were not hurt. However, no one could order Martouf and Lantash to love her less, or not to worry so much. They were the ones about which they should all be concerned. She knew she certainly was.