Chapter Seven Summary: Martouf, Lantash, and Daniel discuss their quandary. They know they all love Sam and they believe that she loves all of them. They must decide where they stand with one another in order to help Sam reach a decision. Then they find that Sam must declare one of them her mate and one of them her “other- mate”. Sam is not happy, until Daniel tells her not only how the three of them feel about the situation, but also how he feels about the “mate/other-mate” question.
Ketra’kesh’cor’hek - four bound by the heart-blood Ketra’kesh’cor - Four bound by the heart – a threesome containing three humans and one symbiote, or two and two Kaf'kesh'cor'hek - three bound by the heart-blood “Italics” – Symbiote-Host communications
Martouf motioned toward the small open beamed, gazebo-like structure beside the spring, indicating they should relax here on the divan, in the serenity and peace of the secluded nook in which they found themselves. They sat quietly for a while contemplating nothing in particular, while wildlife scampered around them.
Finally, Martouf brought up the subject they all knew they should broach, but which all felt loath to begin. “I believe what started our conversation earlier was my observation that a kiss was hardly ravishment, and that no doubt Samantha was an ardent participant. It is an odd situation, is it not? It must be even worse for her. Her emotions are pulling her in apart, in two directions at once. At least the three of us are only being pulled in one direction.”
“All we must do is sit back and wait for her to come to the decision of which of us she loves more, or that she cannot choose between us. If the latter is her decision, then we can still sit back and wait, as she agonizes over what path to follow next. Should she give both of us up, knowing that her heart will always be divided, and that she will never be able to give either of us all of her love, as she could, if we were all together? Or, should she attempt to try to talk to us to see if either of us will accept her as she is, loving both of us, and not able to give either of us all of her, as long as we are all apart?”
“That hardly seems fair to her, Martouf. Why should Sam have to make all of the decisions? I fail to see why you don’t think we should help her.”
Martouf smiled. “I never said I did not believe we should help her, Daniel. I was simply curious as to your attitude. Now that I know that your attitude is the same as ours, perhaps we can skip the usual posturing, and go straight to the problem at hand. Which is that of alleviating the stress for Samantha. The decision she must make would be easier for her, if she knew our feelings about the four of us. She may not be able to accept the idea herself, but that is not the same as having the same decision to make, one that would perhaps be acceptable to her, but not knowing the remainder of the equation. She cannot come to a decision, if she does not know where we stand. However, we cannot tell her that, until we know where that is ourselves.”
Daniel nodded, understanding what he was asking him, but he had a question himself that he thought Martouf and Lantash might be able to answer, “Have you—have you ever been in a joining of three, or, um, six, Martouf? Do you know what it is like?”
“Yes, actually, we do. Had Jolinar and Rosha not come along, we would have stayed there quite happily, for a very long time. Malek and his mate were our pair. We were second- mates to her. It was a loving and happy joining. Neither Malek and his host, nor I and Lantash, are interested in male/male sexual play, so if that is either a hope, or a fear, I have answered one, or the other.”
Daniel gave a short bark of laughter, as he stared above him into the canopy of the tree. “Fear. You have slain it.”
Martouf nodded. “Lantash and I felt that, but were not sure.”
“What else? What is there about it that there is to like? Why were you happy in it?”
Martouf sat quietly thinking, giving Daniel’s question the thought that it deserved. “I—do not know if I can put it into words. It is an unusual bond. She loves you. You know that. You see it. You recognize it, because you recognize it when she looks at him. It is very strange in that way. You tend to become very close to both the male and the female. Malek, Devlin, Lantash, and I, to this day, are very close. It is the strongest male bond I have ever known, and Lantash says it is the strongest he has had outside of his hosts. So, as you can see, it can become very strong.”
“Perhaps the males bond because they must to survive loving the same woman and being loved by her. I do not know. I know that sharing her body was one of the most emotional things in which I have ever participated. It is as if the female becomes a conduit so that you may form and join in a circuit. The energy simply continues to circle until it bursts free into the most intense release.” He shrugged again. “It flows over into your everyday lives as well, so it is not a purely sexual thing. It is definitely about the emotion, as much, if not more, than the sexual gratification, wonderful though that certainly is.”
“You must understand though, Daniel, that there is a certain amount of intimacy that forms between the male partners in a relationship such as this. For some it does involve sex, but ours never has, nor have we ever wanted it to. But the intimacy grows and some of the barriers do cease to matter.” Martouf paused as if wondering just how much he should say, or perhaps, how to say it.
Evidentially coming to a decision, he continued, “Touching one anther no longer seems so taboo. The showing of emotions, when you are together, no longer matters, as it does when you are around others. The relationship becomes a bonding, just as it is with the female mate. When you agree to the relationship, you are in essence agreeing to a bonding, an emotional bonding, a—a mating, or perhaps a joining, if you will, so you must begin preparing yourself for that. Even though the sex never develops, it is still as deeply rooted as a mating, a joining, and in every emotional aspect, that is exactly what it becomes. It is very probable that it will happen between the three of us, Daniel. I would say inevitably, but there is always an exception and perhaps we would be it. However, I would doubt it very much.”
“When the Tok’Ra enter into a multiple joining, in our case it would be called a Ketra'kesh'cor, there is a ceremony the males can choose to go through. It is the blending of their blood. There is a little more to it than the mere mixing of the blood upon the skin as Jacob once explained young Tau’ri boys were wont to do, but if we find that we are indeed growing to care for one another, we will wish to do that. The ceremony for the two males is usually called Ketra’kesh’cor’hek, four bound by the heart-blood, as there are two symbiotes and two hosts.”
“In our case, unless you choose to blend someday, it would be called Kaf’kesh’cor’hek, three bound by the heart-blood. We can go through the ceremony if, that is, we can convince Samantha to make this a real joining, and if you decide that you can be content and happy in this type of arrangement, Daniel. I should not have assumed that you were willing to share Samantha, and I apologize for doing so.”
Daniel shook his head. “No. No, that’s okay. I’ve been considering it, since I saw it in her eyes earlier. I knew then, that she finally realized that she wanted us both, and it wouldn't be long until the realization that she loved both of us would follow. She told me earlier that she loved me, so I know that has happened now, as well.” Daniel stopped speaking, as he gathered his thoughts.
“You should know that I realize that she will always love you more in a passionate, romantic, way.” He shook his head and held up his hand as Martouf tried to speak. “No. No. Don’t. Don’t say anything. I want—I need to tell you this, and then the subject will remain closed, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll not bring it up ever again.”
He paused, and then laughed shortly, a poignant sound, and a small wistful smile touched his face. “Sam and I connected the minute we met. I was married and I loved my wife. You know that story. What you don’t know about is the connection that Sam and I made. It was there, literally, the moment we met. It was as if we made a physical connection, it was so strong. We, that is, Sam and I, didn’t know what it was, and it's my belief that we both kind of shrugged it off. I mean, we were in the middle of a crowd of people. What were we going to do, sit down and discuss this really extraordinary phenomenon that just occurred between us?”
He shook his head, continuing, “To this day, I’m not sure we completely understand what happened to us in that moment, but it wasn’t the meeting of our hearts. I’m pretty sure it was our minds and our souls. Whatever it was, it will live forever. It won’t ever break, of that I am very sure. Wherever we are, it will remain between us no matter what happens.”
“We have a bond that will transcend anything that comes between us, be it lovers, time, anger, space, who knows, maybe even death. We don’t really understand it, we’ve never discussed it, we barely acknowledge it, but we both know that it’s there. Since we have never discussed it, I have no idea how I know those things, either, I just do. I’ve always assumed that she does, too. I probably shouldn’t have taken it for granted.” He shook his head at his failure to do something so simple. Then returning to his previous explanation, he continued, “I could be anywhere in the universe, and if I needed her, and there was anyway that she could get to me, she would come. And she knows, without a doubt, that the same holds true for me.” His lips quirked, “I guess that’s another thing that I just “know” when it comes to Sam and me.”
“What I do know is that I love her. But…it’s not in the same way that you do. There are too many layers to my love of her to divide it out, so I don’t really try anymore. The only love I don’t have for her is the all-encompassing, mind altering love that you and Lantash have for her. Don’t misunderstand. I love her romantically. I just don’t love her with the single-minded passionate intensity that you and Lantash feel for her.”
“Your love for her is the one the poets and writers have immortalized. It only comes rarely, and it is a thing to cherish by those that are lucky enough to feel it. I think that it's close to what I felt for Sha’uri. I know I’ll never feel that again, and I’m not seeking to. What I feel for Sam is encompassing enough. I can barely talk when she’s around, and I think about how I feel about her, the way it is.”
“I realized before she did that our hearts were becoming involved in what was between us. She’s been in denial for a long time, and she has loved you from the day she met you. I just want you to understand that her—her heart-love will always be stronger for you and Lantash, and I can live with that. I wish I could explain what the bond she and I share is, but I can’t. I just know that nothing can ever break it.”
“He is completely correct, Martouf, and it is something we will have to accept, just as he will have to accept that her, as he calls it heart-love, is stronger for us,” Lantash stated calmly.
“What do you think he is talking about? What do you believe happened when they met?” Martouf asked him as he turned Daniel's comments over in his mind.
“While I believe that their minds met, I also believe that souls are meant to find one another, whether through love, friendship, or both. The fact that they recognized one another is proof enough that they are each the mate to the other’s soul. Their children’s blessing will be beyond measure, for they will be of those born of a completed soul. Furthermore, we shall be there to add an abundance of love to our household. Their children shall truly be happy, and so shall the four of us, or hopefully, by the time our children begin to grow older, the six of us. Nevertheless, first we must convince Samantha that she wishes more than just a joining to alleviate the tension caused by a little mishap. Now, go ahead and talk to him. Ah, and should he desire to know my opinion, for whatever reason, you are free to discuss it with him." He sighed and grimaced. “We still need to talk to O'Neill.”
“All right. I think what you have said makes sense, and I will tell him your thoughts on it, as I believe that he would wish to know but that he might feel unsure about asking for your opinion. I hope you are correct Lantash, for it would mean that they truly are meant to be one with us.”
“I know. Now, Daniel is waiting. And Martouf, you should attempt to make the first of the bonding steps if you truly wish to become his mate-brother.”
Martouf cleared his throat, and reaching out his hand, he allowed it to lie lightly on Daniel's shoulder, rubbing it lightly, in an affectionate, friendly way, before saying, in his somewhat gentle way, “Daniel, Lantash has given his opinion, if you care to hear it.”
Daniel remained comfortable and relaxed under Martouf’s hand. He recognized it for what it was. Neither of them was used to touching other men in any way other than accidentally or in some sports. If they joined with Samantha, casual touching would become a daily event. Men sometimes had to learn to show affection. It was not something their parents thought to teach them, as they grew to be men. If anything, the opposite was true, for small boys were very affectionate. At some point, that usually stopped. Martouf was beginning the process now, showing him by touch that he was accepting him as a co-mate. Lifting his hand and laying it over Martouf’s, he gave it a light squeeze, before saying, “Yes, actually, I would like to hear it. He’s been around long enough to have seen some pretty strange stuff.”
He paused, then added, “Thank you, Martouf. I’ve found the time I’ve spent with you, while you have been at the SGC very enjoyable. Far more so than I expected, I will admit. It is amazing where we can find companions when we open our eyes to see them.” His sweet Daniel smile showed up and Martouf found himself pulled toward the man’s charm. Oh, yes, Lantash, he, and Daniel would form a strong male bond. He was becoming surer of it the more time he spent with him. “Now, Lantash said?”
Martouf chuckled, before stating, “He said that while he agrees that your minds met, he believes that your souls recognized each other. He believes that souls look for a “mate” they can bond with, be it through love or friendship. Obviously yours have found one another and are content to have it so.”
“He also believes that your children will be very blessed because they will be born of a truly contented soul, since your souls have bonded. Beyond that, the four of us will surround them with love. Moreover, neither of us has a problem speaking about it. We do not find it an uncomfortable subject at all, so do not hesitate to speak of it in the future for fear of upsetting us. It will not do so, as you can see.”
“All right. I’m glad to have it out in the open, actually. Thanks.”
“At some point you probably should discuss it with Samantha. She would no doubt like to be able to talk about what happened freely, as well. She may be as tense about it as you were.”
“That’s true, and I hadn’t considered that. I’ll talk to her about it soon. I imagine there are quite a few things we’ll all be talking about fairly soon.”
Martouf nodded, saying, “Yes and that brings us back to our original topic, Daniel. Do we put Samantha’s mind at rest by telling her that we are open to the suggestion of a Ketra'kesh’cor?”
“A Ketra’kesh’cor, four bound by the heart. Yes. Yes, I think we should. But first, we need to go tell Jack that he has a wedding to attend.” Daniel almost groaned at the thought.
Martouf stood and raised his eyebrows in a question. “Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten that we had planned such a lovely outing?” Do lead the way, Daniel, and we shall, ah, watch your back as you valiantly take point and protect us,” Martouf’s voice held laughter as he gestured him forward with his most gallant bow.
“Thanks,” Daniel was at his sardonic best. “Tell Lantash that one of these days that sense of humor will get both of you into trouble.”
“You are welcome and it already has,” Martouf looked quite smug.
Daniel rolled his eyes and took point.
“Hey, Jack. Hey, Teal’c. How ya doin’?”
“Daniel, anytime you greet Teal’c and me with those words something bad that is not fun is either going on, or about to happen, so we’re already not doing well. What is it this time?”
“Well, I don’t know that I’d call it bad, exactly.”
“Ah-hah! See? I told you, so.” Then changing tact, he scowled at him, obviously exasperated at another problem rearing its head. “Okay, if you wouldn’t call it bad, then could you tell me what you would call it?”
“Nothing much, there’s just been a little rearrangement of the schedule for this evening, that’s all.”
“As in how much rearrangement, Daniel?”
“Well, you see, Jack, there’s been some changes, that is there have been one or two things added into tonight’s schedule, and I thought you might want to know ahead of time. Martouf and I will probably not be going down when you do.”
“What kind of changes, Daniel?” Jack sighed.
“Well, we won’t eat first, after all because the meal will be a little late. They’ll probably bring you some snacks instead, just to tide you over until the dinner. Jore will give a kind of speech in front of the gathering, and the guests of honor, and then they’ll be some ceremonial stuff, and once that is over, then we’ll eat.”
“What kind of ceremonial, stuff, Daniel? How long will it take? Who’s the guest of honor, and why do we have to listen to a speech we won’t understand?”
“It’s a marriage ceremony, I don’t know, Sam, Martouf, and me, and it’s just welcoming us and reciting the vows, and if you really want to know what he’s saying, Martouf can translate.” Daniel replied.
“A wedding? A wedding. Oh, no, not that. Who’s getting married, Daniel, the leader guy's daughter or something?”
“No, not exactly, Jack,” Daniel said quietly, glad to have Martouf behind him when Jack found out the truth because otherwise, he wasn’t sure he could keep Jack off him long enough to get through his thick skull. He could only hope that Teal’c would jump in, help to restrain Jack, and not attack Martouf instead. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea. They could still go back to the cottage and just sit and watch dust motes dance in the sun. That sure sounded more like fun right now, than this did.
“We have to go to a nobody's wedding, Daniel? Oh, Jeez. Can’t you get us out of it? Please, Daniel? Tell them my arms and legs are still a little tender, and I don’t want to sit up that long. I’ll just come to the meal,” Jack whined, pleadingly.
“It’s not exactly nobody either, Jack.” Daniel looked at him solemnly.
Jack straightened up and stared at him. “Daniel, who is getting married, and you better not say it is me, one Jack O’Neill, for grabbing that kid, or something.”
Daniel smiled, “Well, I don’t have to say you, but I do have to say me. And Martouf and Sam,” he added quickly.
“What? What are you talking about? You and Carter and Martouf? No. No way. Has Carter agreed to this? No. No. No. Nada. No-way. Not going to happen. No.”
“Yes, Jack. If we want the treaty for the plant that worked so well on you, we are. Yes. Furthermore, Sam has agreed. Remember, there’s this plant, Jack.”
Jack stopped. “Carter agreed? She agreed to marry both of you? For a plant? She’s getting married to an alien and a walking set of encyclopedias for a plant? Is she nuts or something? No and no.”
“Yes. For a plant that took skin that should have fallen off in sheets and turned it into nice healthy, nothing-wrong-with-it skin, yes, she has agreed to marry an alien, and an encyclopedia, no, an entire set of encyclopedia’s. She might even be coerced into marrying a card-carrying Jack-ass, if it could get us that treaty and the plant, so—so, stuff it, Jerk, er, Jack.”
Jack looked into the hurt eyes of his friend and bit his tongue that now had his foot directly on top of it. He sighed. “Okay. Okay, I didn’t mean that. You know how my mouth runs off. Okay, you aren’t an “entire” set of encyclopedias. Maybe just one book. How did this come about? Why do you suddenly have to get married? I thought you just had to claim her. Why do you suddenly have to marry her?”
“It was our fault, Colonel,” Martouf said quietly, “Not Samantha’s. Had I known, I would have gone for one of the women, but this was an area of their culture that never came up, while we were with them. It seems that until a man and woman are actually joined, they cannot be in the same room, if the woman is unclothed. Daniel and I were in the room attempting to help Samantha with a problem, when Jore’s wife walked in on us. The solution is to save face by “joining” with her tonight, and therefore making it acceptable. It is the best solution for all concerned.”
“You were in the room while Carter was naked?”
Daniel stepped completely between Martouf and Jack, “So was I, Jack, and I was alone in there with her for quite some time, while she was naked. He was never alone with her. If you think one of us should be punched, I guess it should be me.” Daniel stared at Jack until he calmed down. He was amazed he didn’t leap over him to get at Martouf. Maybe even Jack was finally beginning to realize that Sam, Martouf, and Lantash belonged together, even if he didn’t want to admit it aloud.
Instead of punching, he looked from Martouf’s calm demeanor to Daniel’s. They were right, damn it. Nothing had happened with the two of them in there. He trusted Daniel, so he knew nothing had happened. He hoped. A wedding. Great. Just Great. And he’d insulted his best friend over a plant to boot. He sighed and gave in.
“Fine, but I’m not dancing with anyone, not even if there is a plant.” Jack stalked off to the other side of the room and threw himself into a chair, as he glowered and pouted at them.
Daniel was quite sure he’d never before seen someone glower and pout at the same time and for a moment he was sidetracked as he contemplated this. Martouf poked him in the back to encourage him to continue the discussion, so it could conclude, and they could leave. Drawing a breath, he explained, “The thing is, Jack, that as our family you may have to be with us. We don’t really know. If so, they’ll find you and take you to wherever you are supposed to be. If you need a translator just continue to say our names until they come for us. Don’t back down, say, or do anything else.”
Daniel smiled as he backed toward the door, pushing Martouf behind him. “See you later, Jack. Oh, and Jack?” He waited until Jack looked up. “I may not be the entire set of books, but you’re still the Jack-ass.”
He heard another groan as he shut the door. He felt good.
As Martouf and Daniel walked back toward their cottage and Sam, they met Jore, and he asked to speak to Martouf for a moment.
“Go ahead, Martouf. He probably thinks he should say something about the entire incident to you, since it was his mate that sort of overreacted. I’ll go on back and keep Sam company if she’s awake, but she sounded serious about taking a nap. I think she really did have a headache.”
Martouf nodded. “I agree, Daniel. I have no doubt that after the scene in her room; she had a rather severe one. Go ahead and check on her. I will be there shortly.”
Daniel waved, as he went on his way, and Martouf turned to Jore. “How can I help you, Jore?”
“We need to know which of you is the mate and which of you is the other-mate, although I believe that you indicated that you were mate. We also need to know if you and Daniel are mating, as well.”
“Daniel, Lantash, and I will be brothers only. We are not mating. As for the other, I will have to discuss with Samantha which of us she now desires as mate, Jore. She is very upset over this situation, and she may decide to take Daniel, as a reprimand to me,” Martouf said slowly.
Jore’s eyes widened. “But, why? I do not understand.”
“As I explained, in her culture to have the people of the town be in her room, while she was unclothed would be a great dishonor. Daniel left, even though you told him not to move or speak, when she told him to go and shut the door, yet I did not defy you to answer her. I knew your customs, she, and Daniel did not. Still, Daniel understood, better than I did, how humiliated she would be, by what was happening. I did not, but I should have known; I should have realized.”
“Ignorance of the depth of her feelings, and how shamed she would be, is no excuse for me. I realize now that Daniel would have followed her request, even had he known your customs, for his knowledge of her, and what she was enduring, would have led him to care for her first. Therefore, she may decide to take the one who knows her needs better as her mate and, in truth, perhaps she should do so, for I did fail her in this. I should not have allowed my respect for you, to replace my respect for her.”
Jore looked stricken and sad. “We did not mean to bring this sorrow to you, Martouf. I am afraid we cannot undo it now. Speak with her. Perhaps you are not correct. No, wait. You must request Lantash to talk to her, for the two of you. There is no doubt that she trusts him and loves him greatly. She turned to him when he asked her to come to him, and she took shelter in his arms. He will be able to talk to her, Martouf.”
Martouf hesitated unsure how to answer his last few statements. “Lantash and Samantha have a deep love between them, and she does look to him to care for her. Perhaps you are correct. I fear though that he will insist that she make her own decision. As he pointed out to me, he did not realize, any more than I did, at first, how truly upset she had become. However, I will do as you ask, when I return. I believe that all three of us will probably talk to her, since it involves all of us. That is how we normally discuss any problems that arise. And I will let you know of her decision.”
“Thank you. I do wish you and Lantash well, Martouf.”
Martouf smiled briefly, bowed his head, and walked on toward the cottage.
“Nothing like a little well-placed guilt, Martouf,” Lantash's comment was laconic.
Martouf grinned at him.
Walking into the cottage, he found Daniel dozing on the bed and Sam standing at the window in “her” room looking out and watching some children playing.
“Samantha, I am glad that you are here and awake. We need to discuss something. Will you not sit here on the divan with me, so that we may talk? Lovely as you look standing framed by the window and the light, I cannot but think that you will be more comfortable, if we sit while we have our discussion.”
“Yes, of course, Martouf, what do we need to talk about? Please, don’t tell me that you’ve found out that there is some weird sexual thing that takes place during the wedding er, joining. I really, really, do not want to hear that right now.”
“No, I assure you it is not that. You may rest assured that both Jore and Marta were most emphatic in their statements that there was no public, ah, copulation.” He smiled slightly at her odd look over his choice of words for the act, but she said nothing.
Watching as she leaned back in the corner of the divan, facing him, waiting patiently for him to continue, he realized he did not want to bring this subject up. It was too close to a subject, which they had yet to discuss amongst themselves. Nonetheless, he knew the question must be asked, so he, too, leaned back and attempted to appear relaxed and comfortable with the topic of conversation he was about to broach.
Smiling briefly, he said calmly, “Actually, you simply need to tell me how you want it done, so that I can inform Jore. Since you are joining with two mates, you will need to designate who is your mate, and who is your other-mate. Otherwise, they will not know who to turn to in order during the ceremony.”
“I see. Does it really matter?”
“I suppose that in their minds it does so.”
“Can’t you just take turns or something? Tell them that I don’t consider either of you any different than the other, and I want you treated the same. If they have to do something to one first, then they can choose. I won’t be forced to choose between the three of you, I won’ t. I won’t.” Sam suddenly jumped from the divan and walked quickly to the window.
“My Samantha,” Lantash’s deep tones came from behind her as his arms came around her. His head bent toward her ear, and when he spoke it was low and soft, for her ears only, “No one shall make you choose, or do anything you do not wish to do. We, the three of us, will not allow it. We shall make the choice for you, or we will inform Jore of your wishes, and that you requested that he choose for you. Come, my love, do not allow all of these questions to bother you so much.”
“I know I shouldn’t. I mean, it’s not even as if this is real. It’s just playacting for the locals. We all know that, right? Right, Lantash?” When he did not answer, she turned to him, afraid of what she would see on his face, but there was nothing there to upset her.
He brushed the hair from her forehead and placed a kiss there, before saying, “I recognize that there are some questions that the four of us must answer. I believe that you have already come to realize that Martouf, Daniel, and I all love you deeply and want you almost desperately. We will not force you to choose between us, Samantha; we each love you too much for that.”
He pressed his fingers to her lips, as she would have spoken. “No, say nothing for the moment. Please, think about it. I realize it is not a conventional partnership, but we know it well within the Tok’Ra, and the joining can be quite rewarding, for all involved. I know this has been on your mind, just as I know that the reality and the fantasy of this situation appear to be weaving themselves together, until it is difficult to tell one from the other. All you need to know is that if this joining were real, Martouf and I would be just as eager to go through with it, as we are now, and so would Daniel. That is all that matters, and that is all you must believe. Now, Martouf is coming back to you to discuss the ceremony, if you are feeling all right now.”
Sam nodded and then leaned in and kissed Lantash passionately. As always, the touch of him took her outside of herself for a time. When she returned, it was Martouf finishing the kiss. There was no doubt that both of them could fly her kite higher than anyone else ever had, or ever would.
“Samantha, please, will you not discuss the problem with us?” Suddenly realizing that she might feel better if Daniel were there as well, he said quietly, “Would you rather that Daniel was here to discuss this with us, or would you rather just speak to him?”
Taking her hand, he led her back to the divan. “Will you not sit and try to relax?” He watched as she sank down and once again made herself comfortable. He was glad that Lantash had two thousand years of experience in handling emotion-laden women. He did not think that even with that much time, he would be able to do it with the ease and calm that Lantash could, though. There must be some secret to it and someday he would get him to tell him what it was. “That is something that will not happen. It is the only area that I have with her, Martouf. She certainly will not love me for my looks. If she can care for me because I can comfort her, then that is the one thing that I will give to her," Lantash's reply was firm and unequivocal.
Martouf’s thoughts ground to a complete halt as he sat in shock, before finally overcoming it and gasping, “You believe that is the only thing that Samantha loves about you? Have you lost your mind? Do symbiotes become insane as they age and no one told me?” Incredulous was the only way to describe Martouf’s reaction.
“No, we do not,” Lantash’s reply was flat, obviously somewhat ruffled, and quite offended.
“Well you must, if you truly believe that is the only thing that Samantha finds attractive about you,” Martouf’s reply was both doubting and derisive.
“I am sure this will be a delightful and fascinating conversation, but this is neither the time nor the place,” Lantash’s somewhat sarcastic response informed him.
“You are correct, but we will revisit it in the near future,” Martouf’s voice held a warning as well as determination.
Frowning at him, Lantash answered stiffly, “We shall see.”
“Yes, we shall,” Martouf assured him, letting him know that he would not let this matter go unresolved between them.
Sam sighed as she settled onto the pillows, “Yes, Daniel really should be here along with us. I’m all right now, Martouf. I won’t freak out on you again. Why is my life suddenly so complicated? It was just a simple little mission. Go look at some temples, do some soil samples. Go home in three days. How did I end up with two mates?”
“Just lucky, I guess?” Daniel asked from the doorway where he leaned nonchalantly. “What’s the matter now, Sam, the caterer can’t make it, or the flowers are going to be late? Which is it?”
“Very funny, Daniel. No, the minister seems to need me to designate one of you as husband number one and one of you as husband number two, so they don’t do something out of sequence, like stuff rice up the wrong nose first or something, heaven forbid that should happen.”
Daniel nodded, and not realizing what had just happened with Lantash, he asked, “So what’s it going to be, Sam? Which of us is which?”
Sam shut her eyes and swallowed convulsively, as tears suddenly welled. She whispered hoarsely, “I can’t even choose one of you over the other, Daniel, how can I decide which of you is the mate and which of you is the second-mate, or other-mate, whatever they call it?”
Daniel walked over, knelt in front of her, and brushed the lone tear off her cheek with his thumb, “I’ll make it easy for you, Sam, because I know where I stand. I’m the other- mate.” He imitated Lantash’s move perfectly, as he placed his fingers over her lips to stop her words. “No, Sam. Please. Don’t say anything.” Then, softer still, “Come on, Sam, it’s me, your Daniel, open your eyes, and look at me.”
When she finally did, he smiled at her, brushing her hair back, once again unconsciously mirroring Lantash, and then cupping her cheek with his hand, he said, gently, “I’ve loved you for a long time. I’ve watched you love Martouf and Lantash, for a long time. And then, I watched today as you realized for the first time that you love me, too. It’s all right that it’s worked out this way.”
“A long time ago, when we first met, something in you and I reached out and locked into place. I’m not sure, but I think it was the mating of our souls and our minds. You complete me in ways that no one else ever can, or will. I think I do the same thing for you. And besides that burning drive and thirst for knowledge that we share, we’ve found that we also want to share our bodies.”
“Mind, soul, and body, that’s pretty darn rare. But, for us, Sam, it will always be our minds first and,” he glanced at Martouf, “our souls. That’s why I say that I will be the second—or—other-mate, whatever they want to call it. What we call it doesn’t matter. How we feel is what matters. The passion and love you have for Martouf and Lantash is of the heart first, then the soul and then the mind. He should be the first-mate. It’s only right. Do you understand?”
“Oh, Daniel, I love you so much, too, though.
“I know that you love me, Sam, and that’s what makes it all right. Because I know that if you could, we would all be first with you. Nevertheless, we can’t, and because we can’t, we have to know where we stand, and why we stand there. I can accept my place as other- mate, Sam, because I know that our true bond, the bond of soul and mind will always be there and will never ever break. I also know that you love me and that choosing one of us over the other would tear your heart to pieces. I don’t have to do that to you, because for me, where I am is a wonderful place to stand. I’m happy exactly where I am, I promise you,” as he spoke it was very obvious that he was telling her nothing but the absolute truth.
“We are lucky in our mating-brother, Martouf,” Lantash told him softly.
“More so than I ever thought it possible to be. He is being very generous. I do not know if I could be so in his place,” Martouf answered, watching the two, as they still talked with lowered voices and small smiles.
“We could. He knows that if a love of the heart came along that was as fierce as ours is for Samantha that he would leave us. He, too, senses that he truly is the second mate, and I believe him when he says their deepest connection is through the mind. That is a bond that will last forever. It will not sever until death. The joining of their soul may not sever even then. It may now be whole and complete. Perhaps they will be reborn as one soul, fulfilled,” Lantash’s voice was calm, soft, and obviously sure of what he was saying.
“You may well be correct. I hope you are correct. I also hope that they can both be convinced to join the Tok’Ra. I do not wish to see them pass from us too soon. Either of them,” Martouf stated his wishes, as he sighed over the possibility of losing them too soon…or at all.
“No, I agree. I do not think I could bear to have our mates for only a few years. I wish we could have them forever,” Lantash’s response shared Martouf’s emotions.
“I know, Lantash. So do I. So do I,” Martouf’s agreement was heartfelt.
“Neither of us is asking for any more than your love. We both know that you love us so much that the thought of giving one or the other of us up is tearing you in two. We both know that we love you too much to allow that to happen,” Daniel hesitated, and then seemed to make up his mind about something. Maybe it was time they all told each other how they all felt about the situation.
Still kneeling in front of her, he made sure he had her undivided attention, and clasped one of her hands in his, as Martouf, believing he knew what was coming took the other. “Sam,” Daniel began, “Martouf, Lantash, and I made a really important discovery today. We went for a walk and we found a lovely garden. We sat there for a long time. We discussed our feelings about you, how we felt about the situation we are in, and how we feel about each other. We talked about what we each wanted and needed from our relationship with you, and what we were and weren’t willing to do to be with you.”
He paused as she continued to look into his eyes. She was asking him without saying a word, and he squeezed her hand slightly, and smiled gently, “We found out that we aren’t jealous of one another. Amazingly enough, we both feel that we could live within a grouping called Ketra’kesh’cor, which means four bound by the heart. We are willing to both live with you, and share in your life, Sam, rather than either of us, or all of us, being without you.”
He held up his free hand to stop her in case she wanted to say something, and he continued, “I know you are wondering how I really feel about it. You’re thinking that for Martouf and Lantash it may not be all that odd, but you’re wondering how I will adjust to living intimately with another man and sharing a woman with him.”
“Well, we discussed that, too. None of the three of us, Martouf, Lantash, or me, have any male/male leanings, so that will not be a problem. Martouf and Lantash have been in a similar situation. Malek’s mate was theirs, as well. Martouf and Lantash said that they formed a very deep bond with Malek that had nothing to do with sexuality, but everything to do with emotions. Even though the original joining is no more, their bond with Malek has remained. I would imagine that it is probably very like what brothers feel toward one another.”
“So, if that worries you, my reaction to that part of it, don’t let it, Sam, because,” Daniel paused, looked down at their clasped hands, and drew in a deep breath. Still not looking at her, he finally finished what he was trying to say. “If you feel that you can accept both of us, then don’t worry about my reaction to being with a male in an intimate situation, because I want that emotional bond. I like Martouf and Lantash, and I think I could form that bond, in fact, a very strong bond, with them over time.”
He finally looked up at Sam, his cheeks slightly pink, “To me, it would be like gaining the brother I never had, so,” he shrugged, as if it was not a big deal, though he knew that Sam would realize that it was, “you know, don’t let worry over my reaction keep you from accepting the idea. It really could work for us, Sam, if you could bring yourself to accept us. If you just can’t accept all of us as mates, I’ll understand, and I’ll always be your best friend, regardless. This will never stand in the way of that, I promise you,” Daniel’s asseveration, though emotion laden, was also firm and obviously honest.
Without giving her a chance to reply he stood, “Now, come on. Martouf needs to let Jore know that you’ve made your choice. I’m sure there is probably some stuff they have to do, and that’s why they needed the information.”
Martouf sat quietly contemplating Daniel as he stood watching Samantha. “He is nervous of what she will be thinking of his need to connect to us, to bond with a male on an emotional level.”
“If I remember correctly, Daniel Jackson was orphaned quite young and never had siblings, or a real home,” Lantash told him softly. “Samantha will understand the empty place in his heart that may be filled by joining with us in the Kaf’kesh’cor’hek. She will know because of their deep connection, too, of the deep well of aloneness that dwells within him and that needs to be banished that the loneliness will no longer have a place in him to grow.”
After giving Lantash’s assertion some thought, Martouf agreed, saying, “Yes, I believe you are correct, Lantash, and although I have always liked Daniel, I have found myself enjoying his company very much more, since we have spent time on SG-1. We have spent many evenings together, and I feel that we were already forming a friendship. I agree with him that a strong bond could grow between us. We would become his family, and so would the Tok’Ra, just as the SGC has become his family. He has built a good and full life for himself, despite the trials he has had to live through.”
“Yes, and he would still have them, if he wished to, Martouf. If they wish to live on Earth, then we will live on Earth,” Lantash informed him quietly.
“You are serious? We would leave the Tok’Ra and live with the Tau’ri?” Martouf sounded stunned and excited both at the same time, as difficult as that combination was to achieve.
“Samantha has become my first priority, after our war with the Goa'uld, Martouf; I have told you that before. Although I will not abandon our fight, if we are with the Tau'ri, I will not have to give it up, I will simply be doing it differently. Did you not believe me? You are becoming quite independent in your thinking, Martouf. I leave you for two months, or so, and come back to find that you no longer listen to me when I tell you truths,” as he answered, Lantash did his best to sound forlorn, but failed miserably.
Martouf, with at least half of his attention on Sam and Daniel, did not realize how patently false that forlorn tone was, and so rushed to attempt to reassure him, “Well, no, that is yes, of course, but, no, I suppose I did not really believe you. Furthermore, that is not true, Lantash, I listen to you as much as I ever have. You are just feeling cranky from being ill. Why do you not rest for a while, and you will feel better.” Then once more thinking he needed to say more to reassure his mate, he continued, “I do listen to you, Lantash, truly, I do, as much as I ever have, and I will believe you, I promise you.”
“Then you may begin to do so now. Go talk to Jore,” Lantash laughed softly, as he replied to him, but only to himself. Martouf was his mate and he loved him dearly, but occasionally, he could not help but tease, and therefore fluster, him. He was very endearing, when he became mired in a morass of conflicting statements, as he attempted to both assure Lantash of his love and belief in him, and at the same time keep his own independence, something he actually did quite well.
“I will. But first, I will ask Daniel one more time, if he is sure that he wishes to be the other- mate,” Martouf asserted.
Lantash gave a long-suffering sigh, “It is as I foretold, Martouf, you no longer listen to me. I am going to sleep now.”
“Lantash, no, really. Lantash. Lantash?” Martouf sighed. He wondered how long he would pretend to be asleep this time? He had finally realized that his mate was teasing him, a good sign, as he was wont to do it often, before the poison incident. It meant that he was very nearly back to normal at last.
“Daniel,” Martouf spoke quietly, “Are you absolutely sure that this is what you wish to do? Truly wish to do?”
“Yes, I’m sure, Martouf. This is the way I want it. The way it should be. Now go on and talk to Jore, so that everything is in place for the ceremony.”
“All right. I will return momentarily, for this should not take very long, I assure you.”
“Don’t forget to talk to Sam about the bracelet thing. With every thing going on, you might forget. That’s something she needs to be made aware of, and she might even already know something about it, you know.”
“Thank you for remembering, Daniel. I will bring it up as soon as I return. I had not considered that she could possibly already hold the answer, but you are correct, and she could very well know something. She and Janet are very close.”
Sam returned to them after using the facilities, “What do you want to know? What’s up, Daniel?”
“Nothing much, Sam. Martouf has something he thinks you can help him with, but he’ll tell you when he gets back. He said he wouldn’t be very long.”
“Why can’t you tell me? What’s such a big deal? Come on, Daniel, spill.”
“Sam. Martouf wants to talk to you. It’s not my place to tell you why.”
Sam folded her arms and frowned. This wasn’t good. When had her friend suddenly gone away? Had he ranged himself against her with someone else? Had she already lost him? Is this what was about to happen to her? To them? If so, then one of her worst nightmares had just become a reality. She had just lost her best friend.