Chapter Three Summary: After spending time in the bathing pools, Sam joins up with the rest of her team. Just as they are ready to leave the area, a small child jumps into the extremely hot water. Jack rushes into the water and pulls him out. Both he and the child are severely burned, but Martouf tells them that the people on this planet have a plant that heals burns as well as many other types of injuries very quickly and completely. Sam makes the decision to stay and let them try. While they wait to see the results of the leaves on the burns, Lantash and Martouf begin a private and important conversation.
Mer Prinekh – Lifemate. Used as a Term of Endearment between Host and Symbiote “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communications
As the group was led to the bathing pools, Sam wondered if they were unisex and found herself relieved to find out that there were men’s, women’s, and a large area where couples could bathe together. Martouf looked at her with a raised brow. Daniel cocked his head, and she turned toward the women’s area, with a quick negative shake of her head. The two of them looked like little boys denied their favorite toy, then they shrugged, and turned toward the men’s bathing quarters. Jack and Teal’c joined them there. Sam breathed a sigh of relief that they didn’t object.
There was no doubt that the bathing pools were happy places. It was obvious that they were places to socialize, learn the latest news, exchange gossip, enjoy the company of the other women, and just plain relax. The water was so close to hot tub hot that it felt wonderful in the shade of the huge trees. Sam found that by moving several feet either way, she could change the water temperature, from very hot on down to warm, then to quite cool, and finally to cold. A few hardy souls sat in the steam in one end, jumped out, and plunged into the cold at the other end. Sam shuddered. She would stay right here in her very warm, not quite hot tub hot water and relax, thank you. She smiled to herself thinking, “wimp”.
Then she laughed silently, thinking that, so far, this mission was a long way from boring. She just hoped the nicely paced events continued to be nicely paced and pleasant. Frowning, she sighed. She was never that lucky. It was inevitable that something would screw it up. Oh, well, no point in worrying about something that had yet to occur. Still frowning internally, as she lie relaxed with her eyes closed, she realized that Daniel wasn’ t objecting to being pulled away from the temple. Ah, her smile came back. He was just as interested in getting to know the people and find out about their culture, as he was the temple. Poor Daniel. He was so very interested in so many different things; they often pulled him in two opposite directions. Optimally, he would find a people who knew about the artifacts he wanted to study. That did happen occasionally and it always excited him. Her smile was tender, as she thought of him and his enthusiasms. He could get as carried away over a new language or an old scroll, just as easily as she could get carried away studying black holes, wormholes, and the universe in general.
Considering how far apart their areas of interest and expertise were, they certainly got along well. After giving it a little thought, she realized it was because they would listen to one another. Even if they didn’t always understand the significance of something the other found, or discovered, or figured out…they listened to one another. They never cut each other off, never turned away in obvious boredom, never gave the other the feeling that they were too dull for words. She sighed again. It was a shame they couldn’t…whoa, just where were her thoughts heading? Not down that road, no way. That way lay dragons…and probably demons, as well.
She turned her thoughts to other things and almost fell asleep, until she realized what she was doing. She found her thoughts once again wandering into troubling territory, before she realized where they were going. All she could see were Daniel and Martouf standing in front of her, pants riding low on their hips, and their chests bare. As she had gazed at them, she had felt a shiver race through her and reach her very center. When she looked at the two of them standing there like that, it was all she could do not jump them both and have her way with them. Yes, she wanted both of them. Then, when she had turned and looked into Martouf’s eyes, for just a minute, she would have sworn that it was Lantash’s sultry look, gazing back at her. Looking back at it now, she was aware that it had taken all of her much-depleted will power not to melt into a puddle right then and there. She had then taken herself quickly and firmly in hand and covered her reactions to the two of them by teasing them, but what she had wanted to do, was throw them both back down on the floor and have her way with them.
What was wrong with her? Sheesh, she could not remember ever wanting to be with two men in the same bed at one time in her life until today. Well, except for her favorite fantasy where Indiana Jones and Legolas, no, scratch that thought and the image that went with it. Quickly, very, very quickly.
When Jore put that damn collar on Daniel, and she caught herself smugly thinking “Mine”, she had been shocked at her own thoughts. So completely and absolutely stunned at the pure female possessiveness of, not just the thought, but also the feelings that flooded her at the thought, she almost gasped aloud. The truly scary part, though, was that she looked into Daniel’s eyes, and he saw her claiming him with her eyes. Surely, she imagined that didn’t she? His look of, god, she didn’t even know what to call it. Not surrender, not even agreement, it was, almost as if he had greeted her knowledge, saying “at last”, as if it was something he had known for a very long time and had just been waiting for her to wake up and realize that she felt that way about him. It was almost overwhelming—and it was certainly disquieting and unsettling.
She had then turned her eyes to Martouf, who, thank every god in the universe, had been looking at the others in the room, because as she gazed at him that thought again popped into her mind unbidden and unrestricted. “Mine”. The same rush of possessive female emotions again screamed their way into her consciousness forcing her to acknowledge them as legitimate feelings. They were not a fantasy, but real true emotion, and there was no doubt that these three men generated those feelings. It was not ‘this man’. It was ‘these men’. Just the thought of it was causing her face and loins to flush with heat.
What was wrong with her? Was it something in the air here? Could something be in the water? She hadn’t drank any of their water, so it couldn’t be that, or their food because she hadn’t eaten any of that, either. No, she couldn’t blame some outside influence. Whatever this was, it was coming from within her. The Gods, Goddesses, and any other deities out there listening please help her; she was pretty darn sure she was in trouble here. What did you do when you thought that you possibly might be, or maybe were, or there was a chance that you could be, falling in love…with two different men? Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the one hell of a passionate symbiote.
Sam groaned and pushed herself up from the shelf she was sitting on and forced herself to swim to the cold end of the pool. Yeah, it was definitely the colder the better, at the moment. This was so not good. It was so not good at all. She could never choose between those two, no, those three. She couldn’t give up Lantash anymore than she would be able to release Martouf or Daniel.
Wait a minute, what was she worried about? They might not even want her. She probably imagined that look of Daniel’s. So it was if, and it was a mighty big if, they even wanted her. She stopped swimming around and stood still in the water. There that solved it. Neither one of them had really shown that much interest in her. Lantash had kissed her once; Martouf had kissed her once as her, and once as Jolinar, and never mentioned it again, or even tried to kiss her again, for that matter. The kiss this morning was short, sweet, and initiated by her, so it didn’t count, and Daniel treated her like a sister.
So, no sweat. Game over before it began. As she swam cheerfully back to the warmer water, she conveniently forgot that not more than an hour or so ago, she had been sandwiched between two very hard pieces of male flesh. Moreover, they had been neither inconsequential, nor less than impressive. Furthermore, it was a pretty safe bet that they had been that way because of her, not because of each other, since neither of them swung that way. It is sometimes amazing what the human mind can so conveniently forget. Sam relaxed, and once again began to enjoy the sound of the birds in the trees, and the women’ s soothing chatter as they discussed her, just as the men in the men’s pool discussed the newcomer’s there.
As the newest and most exciting of the news, it was apparent that the members of SG-1 were under much discussion. It was as well that the women’s bathing pool was not near enough for viewing from the men’s bathing pool, or they would have been watched even more closely than they were being watched now. The men were looking from Martouf, to Daniel, and back again. They could not understand it. They shared no more than the woman. That was the only explanation. They themselves did not partake of each other physically. There was no overt affection between them, not in a physical sense.
Yet, their talk seemed more intimate at times than that of mere friends. And then, there was also the symbiote. It was apparent in his eyes when he came forth as well, for when they rested on the younger man, they shone with emotion. No, their household was not truly a sharing of four by four. It was a sharing of the love of four and a sharing of the three by one and of the one by three. It was in the love that one would find the four, they decided.
As the men were watching Daniel, Martouf, and Lantash, the women were watching Samantha for any signs that she missed her mates. She seemed quite content to be here with the other women. But then, she had two, no, three men, who wished for her attention and would hover over her to get it. Not many women could take on two; three would be wearying indeed, and they were not yet fully joined mates. No doubt, she enjoyed the company of other women, even if she did not understand them. She smiled and was happy to be here, that was enough. They bathed and laughed, talking and gesturing. Sam smiled back at them and even laughed lightly when they did simply because it was infectious laughter that made you want to join in.
Now that she managed to stop her mind from going in circles, Sam relaxed against the side of the pool again, and seated herself on the shelf. It was nice simply to exist quietly. Just be. I am, she thought, and then laughed at herself. She was correct earlier and this was turning into an unusual mission. Nothing had shown inhabitants on this world. Chances were that nothing would have seen the homes in the trees. Only if a person came out into the open at the right time would they have seen them. Once the people heard the UAV, and not knowing what it was, they probably would not go out where it would see them.
She sighed as she realized that the chattering had calmed and lessened. Opening her eyes, she saw that many of the earlier bathers were now gone. She moved inside the true bathing area and washed quickly watching the water swirl rapidly away. Rinsing her hair and body one more time, she felt hands on her hair. Her bathing attendant was rubbing a lotion into her hair, and then she indicated that Sam should rinse it again. As she leaned backward to do so, the girl once again helped to remove the lotion, and when she felt it was good enough, she indicated that they should leave the bathing pool.
They climbed out, and Sam found herself enveloped in a huge bath blanket and then a robe in a lovely shade of blue. Then she gave her some sandal-like shoes. The attendant then dried, combed, and fluffed, her hair, and then she was motioned forward. Her “family” was awaiting her. Evidently, they did not allow the male members of a household to leave the bathing chambers, until the female members of their family were ready to leave. Nor did they allow them to send word to her that they had finished bathing and were ready to leave. This was her time, and they would wait upon her. Sam smiled. It was kind of nice.
“Jeez, Carter, what did you do, take a nap?” Jack snapped, as she finally joined them.
Martouf turned to him, and said, almost under his breath, but still loud enough for the Colonel to hear, “It is not acceptable to speak to the woman in such a manner here, Colonel. Please, wait to address any remarks other than those of greeting, or love, until we leave the bathing area. And, please attempt to remember, as I told you earlier in the cottage, that they esteem their women highly and, therefore, be careful of your tone of voice when you speak to Samantha. They may not understand your words, but they will understand your tone of voice.”
“Almost, sir, it was very relaxing. There’s something about sitting in hot water like that. I get sleepy,” Sam's voice was mild as she answered him.
Martouf and Daniel stepped apart, “Come, Samantha, and walk between your mates,” Martouf said easily.
“Yes, of course, by all means, Sam, um, do that,” Daniel did his best to act his part, the problem, of course, being that he really didn’t want it to be an act, which seemed to him to make it that much harder to do.
“Thanks, I think I will.” Sam stepped between them, just as they heard an exclamation from Jack, and two high pitched screams; one of them from a mother, the other from a child who had jumped into the water of the hot spring and was being washed toward them in the hot water.
“O’Neill,” Teal’c ran forward along the walkway making his way toward his friend, as Jack headed toward him through the obviously steaming water rushing past him. His face etched in pain, he passed the child to Teal’c and collapsed onto the walkway where hands pulled him the rest of the way onto it.
As soon as he took in the scene, Martouf turned to the nearest attendant and immediately began to give her precise orders as to what they should do. As quickly as he could, he instructed her to locate some of the healers and tell them that they would soon need large amounts of the Quasterpa Plant. Inform them that they would be arriving soon with two badly burned people, one adult, and one child. As soon as he finished giving his instructions, she immediately left for the healer’s cottage; Sam, Daniel, and Martouf headed toward the group clustered around the two injured people.
Martouf pushed his way through the crowd. There seemed to be a disagreement as to what they should do. Ignoring the discussion, which was obviously going nowhere any time soon, Martouf held his arms out for the child, and then he looked from Teal’c to O’ Neill. “Can you carry him, Teal’c, or do we need transport? I would help you; however, it seems that we must take charge of this situation.”
Teal’c looked back at him, nodded, and then bent down lifting O’Neill, as if he was a small child, and replied, “I will be fine, thank you, Martouf.”
“We better get them straight to the gate, Martouf. Janet can get them started on fluids and…”
“That will not be necessary, Samantha. Please trust me on this,” Martouf said slowly. “I know you do not know me all that well, perhaps, but please believe that I would not lie to you about something this serious and important. These people have a plant that has amazing healing properties for things such as this. By later this afternoon, these burns will be almost gone. Look at the people here, Samantha; they have no scars. Anywhere.”
Daniel listened to Martouf’s claim and looked around at the people walking with them. “I think he’s telling the truth, Sam. At least, I think we should let them try. We have Martouf and Lantash with us so that they can tell us things they know that we don't. There is no point in having them with us, if we won’t listen to what they tell us about things like this. Furthermore, I don’t think that Martouf would lie about something like this…or anything else for that matter,” Daniel told her as he gave his distinctive nod that meant he was sure they were doing the correct thing.
“All right. Nevertheless, Daniel they are going to be in shock and pain when they wake up. They’ve both passed out, but that won’t last for long,” Sam reminded him.
“The plant will take the pain,” Martouf told them quietly. “I am aware that it sounds unbelievable, Samantha; however, it does work exactly as I have stated, I assure you. If Lantash was awake, he would tell you exactly the same thing, I assure you."
Sam took a deep breath, and nodded. Daniel was right. Martouf had seen many things about which they knew nothing. What was the point of having he and Lantash on the team, if they never listened to their experience?
“There is one more thing, Samantha. Daniel is quite correct. I would never lie to you about anything else, either,” Martouf added to his original statement.
She nodded her acceptance of the remark before leaving and catching up to Teal’c. “Teal’ c, we’re going to allow the local healers to work on the Colonel. Martouf says they have a plant that has amazing healing properties. I believe him.”
“Very well, Major Carter,” Teal'c's reply was, as usual, brief and stoic, but it was not condemning in any way. By neither look nor action did he in any way indicate that he believed she was doing that wrong thing. That was good enough for her.
Several minutes later, as they entered the healer’s cottage, the Colonel woke up, and bit off a moan. He looked up at Teal’c, and asked, “How much farther to the gate?” The pain was causing his eyes to glaze and appear unfocused; his breaths were coming in short pants and gasps.
“We are not returning through the Stargate, O’Neill. Major Carter has ascertained that the local healers have knowledge of plants that heal these kinds of wounds very quickly. She has decided to stay here and allow them to treat you,” Teal’c replied stoically, knowing that O’Neill would not like this, but also knowing that he was in no condition to make a rational decision, at this time, and that it was up to Major Carter to do so. Besides, he also, believed that Martouf was telling them the truth. He would not tell them something like this, if it was not completely true.
“And I’m countermanding that order, Teal’c. You will return with me through the Stargate, at once," the Colonel ground out his counter-order.
Hearing his command, Martouf came over to him. “That would be a mistake, Colonel. The healers here have a very effective remedy for burns, and many other injuries to the skin and body. You will be over the majority of this by this afternoon, if you remain, and allow them to do their healing,” Martouf informed him quietly, and softly, but firmly.
“I’m in charge here, Marty, and don’t forget that,” O’Neill almost spat his reply.
Lantash was now awake, and he immediately took umbrage at O’Neill’s usage of the disrespectful name that he called Martouf, “Marty? He is still calling you Marty? I will handle this, Martouf. It is time that…”
Martouf cut into his diatribe, assuring him, “Quiet, Lantash. I will handle this. I have the authority of General Hammond to do so, and Colonel O’Neill is well aware of it, for we were both given our instructions.”
“We were? In this situation, we have the authority?" He questioned, obviously surprised. “Why did I not know this?”
In too much of a hurry to take care of this problem to be polite, Martouf told him, “Not now, Lantash. Please, allow me to handle this in my own way. You have been too ill to know what has been happening. Of course, you are unaware of what we can and cannot do. Now, excuse me, please.”
Martouf’s eyes narrowed as he stared at O’Neill. His lips firmed. If O’Neill would never accept his knowledge of the universe, there was no point in him being here other than to be with Samantha. While that was one of the main reasons he wanted to be here, he was here to do a job as well. Furthermore, he intended to do it, to the best of his abilities. General Hammond gave him his orders, and he expected him to follow them. Martouf had vast knowledge of the galaxy that they did not have. His orders were quite plain. O’Neill was the military leader of the group, and all military decisions fell to him, and then to Major Carter.
However, in dealing with situations where Martouf had knowledge that would keep them from serious mistakes, he was to apply it. He was to prevent them from killing, or harming themselves, through ignorance. The Tok’Ra’s knowledge of the universe and it’s peoples while not complete by any means, which they had been very frank about, admitting there were many things that they did not know, either, was still much more vast than that of the Tau’ri.
Moreover, in this particular instance, Martouf was absolutely sure of his information. He knew for a fact that the plant worked exactly as he described, having seen it work on worse burns than these. They were not returning to the SGC. “I am sorry, but in this instance, I believe that I have more knowledge than you about the situation in which we find ourselves. I do have knowledge that you do not, Colonel O’Neill. That is why I am here. If you are not going to use my knowledge, there is no point in my being here, and I do not believe that is true.” He smiled somewhat grimly as he added, “Nor does General Hammond. You will allow these people to aid and care for you.”
Jack stared at Martouf and heard General Hammond’s voice in his head as he’d spelled the situation out to him, “Jack,” he’d paused, then continued, “Martouf, and when he recovers, Lantash, have two thousand years worth of knowledge of the universe and its people that we don't have. If he knows something, listen to him. I've told him the same thing. If push comes to shove, he has my approval to use his knowledge to get you all out unharmed. You're the military leader, that is true, and he agrees to that entirely, but even in those situations don't discount what he has to tell you about the people and the things he knows. He has no desire to take your leadership from you. He doesn’t desire it, or want it. He is here to learn and to help. Let him do his job and you do yours. He will have authority in some non-military situations, Jack, through knowledge that you just don’ t have.” Jack bit back another moan as much from the mental stress, as from the pain, but both were agonizing. Crap, he hated this.
O’Neill was not showing much of the pain, although Martouf knew that it had to be extreme. He would not wish to show it in front of his team and definitely not in front of him. Mentally, he shook his head. Such stoic acceptance was ingrained in men of all races, species, and worlds, regardless of how pointless it was. He grimaced to himself admitting that if it was him, he would be the same. During the poisoning, he had remained on his feet well past the time he should have collapsed on a bed somewhere, so as not to appear weak in front of Samantha. Oh, he understood Jack O’Neill, and every other man the universe over, for that matter.”
He stepped aside, as a healer moved by him to begin deftly wrapping Colonel O’Neill’s arms and hands first, and then his legs and feet, in the softened leaves of a pleasant smelling plant. She checked his face, clucked, and placed a leaf over his cheek where the hot water had splashed on him and left a small burn. She continued to check every inch of his body, whether he wanted her to or not. Next, she patted his head, as if he had been a very good child, and left him to his friends.
The child was laughing in the other bed. He waved a leaf wrapped arm at O’Neill. Jack waved back, but then he turned back to scowl at Carter and Martouf. Martouf quietly told him, “You will find that in a few hours, your burns will be healed, except for a small amount of tenderness. By tomorrow, you will not know you were ever burned, I assure you.”
“You seem awfully sure of this,” Jack snapped at him.
“I have seen it before, Colonel, otherwise, I would not have told you to allow it to be done. I know that it works, for I assure you…I have seen it work. Furthermore, the burns on which I saw them used were worse than yours. Within four hours, the person was up and walking back to his cottage.”
“Sir, you realize, that if this plant truly does all that Martouf says it does, which we have no reason to doubt, we really need to try to sign a treaty for scientific research with these people. This plant would seem to have amazing properties. Think what it might lead to for surgeries, injuries, wounds. The list goes on and on. No matter what it takes, if this plant heals your arms and legs by this afternoon from those burns, then we have to get a treaty.”
Seeing the Colonel’s look of skepticism she continued, “Sir, some of your burns, well, they look like they might be mild third degree. There are areas of white and yellow skin and usually second degree is all red, while white, brown, yellow, and sometimes black, indicate third degree burns. I’m sorry. I just want you to be aware. The burns on your hands and arms are second degree. Were your legs hurting as much as your arms?”
“Yes and no, and I thought that was weird. They were hurting in some areas and others they didn’t.”
“Sir, a third degree burn doesn’t hurt, but the area around it is very painful. It’s destroyed the nerve endings. If this plant really does what they say in that short a time, we have to have it, no matter what it takes to get it.”
“If it works, Carter, and that’s a big if, then I agree. Let’s see how much more Janet and the air force have to do when it’s over. It did deal with the pain though, and that’s a big plus. That might be worth looking into, if nothing else. I’m serious as a heart beat here, the pain literally left, as soon as the leaves touched it.”
The group sat quietly, not saying much, mostly watching Jack. Time appeared to slow for them, but the bustle of the town around them seemed to move at its normal pace. Every so often, one of them would come up with a subject to discuss, but for the most part, they were silent, simply watching the leaves and waiting. Caught within their own thoughts, each of them soon lost their awareness of the passage of time, as they contemplated thoughts that seemed to tumble into their streams of consciousness from out of the void.
Martouf sat on the floor and leaned back against the wall. He had chosen his place well, for he could see the others; however, they could not easily see him. His view of Samantha was perfect. He could see Daniel Jackson as well. They sat closely together, obviously both comforted and comfortable, by and in, each other’s presence.
He allowed his head to fall back against the wall. He had not slept well again last night. Nightmares had again awakened him, as they did so often, since the attack on the Tok’Ra base. Each time, he awoke shaking, bathed in sweat, and searching frantically for Lantash, because in his dream, his Lantash was gone. The traitor released the deadly poison instead of the one he used. The one that was no longer on the Tok’Ra base at all, but at a top-secret facility of the Tau’ri’s. The Tok’Ra were now working on it, where an entire base of symbiotes, were no longer in danger from a mishap or sabotage. As he relaxed, and his mind wandered, he remembered his words to his Soulmate earlier.
“Lantash, I wish to apologize for being rude to you earlier. There is no excuse for being impolite to you, and I am sorry,” Martouf spoke softly, but firmly, obviously feeling remorse for his less than polite words during the earlier contretemps with Colonel O’Neill.
“You were not impolite to me, and there is no need for an apology, Martouf. For so many years, it has been me in the position to tell you to be quiet, and let me do my job that it was a little strange hearing it from you. I was very impressed with the way you handled yourself and O’Neill. Of course, there have been many instances where you have handled situations in the past, but it was always a joint effort, with me standing behind you, ready to take over should the need arise, just as you would do for me. This was different. You did not have a safe haven. Had I still been incapacitated, you would have handled it in the exact same way. I enjoyed watching it,” Lantash assured him
Sighing softly, Lantash continued telling him some of his thoughts, as he reflected briefly on past and present occurrences, “It is a shame that it takes something like this poison incident to remind us that we should tell those we love how we feel. I do not remember ever telling you how proud you have made me on many occasions, and yet, you have done so many, many times. This was another. We should not put off saying these things. You have often made me feel proud that you are my host, Mer Prinekh. I am often grateful for whatever fate put us together. I love you dearly. These things you should know today, in case tomorrow does not come. They are Evertime feelings, Martouf; they will not change, so do not ever think it. They will always live within my heart for you. Forever, as long as I live. Now,” he made a sound that, in a human, would be a clearing of their throat, “we will continue with our other conversation, please.”
Martouf swallowed, hesitating briefly, before almost whispering his response, “I—I am not sure what to say to you. I appreciate your confidence in me. I found, during the incident, that my one fear was that there was something about the poison that we did not know, and you would die and leave me. Once we knew that would not happen, I worried that you would never awaken and regain your memories. These last few months have been difficult for many of us, some, of course, more so than others. Those whose symbiotes almost died have had an even harder time coping than those of us whose symbiotes were just very ill.”
He laughed shakily, before continuing, "It sounds odd, but the Tau'ri suggested that some of us talk to their," he frowned, thinking, before finding the correct word, "psychologists. They specialize in helping one to deal with trauma and stress. At first, we all scoffed at the idea that we would need that type of help. Then one of the healers decided that she would see what they did and see if it would help. The healers that removed the symbiotes were feeling a great deal of guilt over removing and, therefore, almost killing many of you. She went several times before saying anything to anyone, but it became apparent that she was feeling somewhat less to blame. As it turns out, to put it in a very simplified way, what they do is simply allow you to talk and they listen. Then they will lead you to make discoveries that will help you to understand and cope with the trauma. Many of our people have gone now, and it has helped many of them. In fact two of our healers are studying with the Tau'ri Psychologists to learn how to treat trauma survivors...they do not call them victims; they call them survivors. Had you not awakened soon, I too, would have gone to see if they could help calm my fears for you."
He paused again before adding, "When we mentioned that we did not believe it would help us, they pointed out that, while we are two beings in one, we are still human with human reactions and emotions. There was added stress on us, over and beyond what occurred in the tunnels, because you were dependent on us, on our system, to get well. Once our people started to talk about it with them, we became more open about how we were feeling among ourselves. It did help a great deal."
He shuddered as he thought back over the last months since the ‘poison incident’. Suppressing his reactions, he told Lantash, “I have nightmares almost every night. I dream that the poison was the fatal one and you are gone from me. I wake up soaking with sweat, with my heart beating so hard and fast I think it will leave my chest. I am looking for you frantically, and only when I find that you are still within me am I able to get up, shower the sweat off, change the sheets, and go back to bed. I have never been so lonely in my life. I find myself talking to you even though you are asleep.”
Pushing those very distressing thoughts away, Martouf assured him, “I have always been proud to be your host; I have always thanked the fates for giving us to each other, and I love you. I will always love you. Until the day that I die and leave you and then beyond, because I know you will always carry me in your heart, as you do the others that came before me that you loved so much. Just as you carry the love that they felt for you. They are all there, and you love all of them still, so I know that I shall join them. Sometime in the future, when the nights are long, and you cannot rest, or when you have been captured, and are being tortured, you will bring me out of your memories, and it will be me that will encourage and help you to resist them. I know this is a truth, for I have known you to do so to help us. So, you see, I have no doubt whatsoever, that I will love you forever, for I know that I shall be kept in my special place in your heart, and my love will burn for you there always, just as your love for me burns in my heart and will until it beats no more. Who knows? Perhaps it will even go beyond with me.”
For some time Lantash could not answer him. Just the thought of losing him hurt so very deeply. However, what Martouf said to him was very true. He would always know the love he gave to him and he would always feel the same love that he felt for him today. ‘“I do not know what to say, Martouf. I am glad that you understand how much I love you. If you can see so plainly into my heart, then you know how deep my feelings for you run. I am glad. Your words are a caress to my heart and will warm it forever. I will only have to remember them to feel loved at any time. Thank you.”
“Yes, and I thank you,” Martouf told him. It was obvious to both of them that the words meant more than they said.
He paused and as he did so, Lantash said, quietly, “I think you need to tell me more about what happened, Martouf. While I have remembered a lot over the last few hours, I do not believe I will remember any more on my own.”
“Why is that, Lantash?” Martouf frowned at Lantash’s request, wondering what, if anything, was wrong.
“Because every memory I have abruptly ends, as if someone turned off a switch. They begin in the same manner. Therefore, I believe I have remembered all of the lucid moments I have had, and it appears that they were few and far between.” He felt Martouf shudder and drop his head forward. “Martouf? What is wrong?
Martouf shook his head, saying, “I am sorry; I am fine. It was a difficult time for us. We were the ones filtering the impurity from your systems, and it was a great responsibility. It was not as if we had any control over it, for we did not. Either our bodies filtered it, or they did not. Luckily, they all did, some better than others, true, but soon you will all be cleansed of the last of the poison. That is the main thing.” He sent him a small smile.
Sighing, he agreed to do as Lantash requested, and so he began to tell him what occurred, “I will start at the beginning, since I do not know exactly what you remember and what you do not. They released the poison into the new ventilation system we are experimenting with, and it spread quickly. We have no idea who did it because the release of it was on a timer. As far as we can ascertain, it was one of our own people, Lantash. It was one of our own.” Lantash could hear the anguish in Martouf’s voice, and his own heart echoed it. It was so unusual to have a traitor in the Tok’Ra ranks. He could count what few they had in the last two thousand plus years on one hand. Rarely was a Tok'Ra anything but loyal for life.
Martouf drew another long breath and started talking again, “Whoever did this attempted to make it look as if it was not one of us. As you may recall, there was to be a rather large gathering of officials and their escorts, soldiers, their staff, many people. We had prepared for them to be there. At the last minute, the plans changed. They rescheduled, and a council meeting was set up instead on Giaver. Evidently, whoever set the poison did not find out in time to stop it. I would speculate, and so have several others that those involved set the poison on the timer, and then left the tunnels.” He shrugged. “They would have no way of knowing that at the last minute the main group we were expecting had a crisis, which they had to handle, and so they cancelled the meeting. I do not know how much you know of this, Lantash.”
“I knew of the postponement. After that, not much until I began to awaken periodically.”
“It seems we have Anise to thank for being able to rescue many of our people. She became increasingly concerned, as they began working on these poisons. The deadlier they became; the more paranoid she became. She brought it to the council’s attention several times, but nothing was ever decided about it,” Martouf spat, his voice bitter. This was not the first time their failure to act put them in jeopardy.
“It was their usual non-action and shelving of an issue. I believe that there will soon be some changes in that; at least I hope so. Their negligence in putting things like this off, almost got us all killed. I do believe that Per’sus will see to it that there will be some changes made. If he does not, I am not sure I will return. I am tired of the ineffectiveness of the council and their methods. However, that is neither here nor there. I believe I was telling you about the ‘poison incident’.”
“Yes, Martouf, you were and let us return to it. We can delve into the council, and the politics surrounding them at a later time. For now, I believe just allowing me to have a more complete understanding of what has occurred will be sufficient. After that, we can go onto a much more important topic of conversation. One that both of us know must be discussed by the two of us quite soon,” Lantash reminded him that there was more than one important subject that must be discussed.
“I agree, Lantash. We must make some definitive decisions very soon. Decisions that will no doubt impact the remainder of our lives together."