Chapter Ten Summary: The "guys" are suffering from the after effects of the Furling mating cycle, the Lun’ak’ mat. Needless to say, none of them are particularly happy campers. In fact, Martouf refuses to speak to Sam. However, Lantash is very supportive of her and assures her that he holds no grudge. Malek is actively hostile to Gwennetha, but Devlin is saying nothing. Gwennetha and Kataya discuss solutions to the problems facing them, and none of those are very appealing. In fact, most of them call for rather unpleasant consequences for Gwennetha. Jacob and Merdwin discuss the situation and agree that there are some rough patches ahead for them all.
Amat Wyn – My Love Carusawyn – My Dear One; My Dearest One Coeurawyn – My Heart – a Term of Endearment Prinekh - Joined life. It is another More Intimate Name for a Lifemate used by Both Host and Symbiote. Mer Prinekh is Often Used as a Term of Endearment and Affection. Pher’ak’tel - The Essence Given off by the Female during the Furling Mating Ritual. Only used for Conception Lun’ak’mat - Furling Mating Cycle Mal’et’matk - Morning Sickness; In the Furling, the Morning Sickness is Shared by the Male, Along with the Food Cravings, and Emotions. It also Affects Non-Furling Mates “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communications
“Lantash, will we die soon?” Martouf moaned, as he once again found himself worshiping the facilities bowl. “Please, tell me that we will die soon. Tell me that we will die within minutes, because if you do not, I will take the situation into my own hands, and take our lives myself. I swear to you that I will. I cannot and will not allow us to be tortured in this way,” He declared, almost fiercely, before dropping his voice to a more plaintive tone. “We must make it stop, Lantash, please. We are so weak we can barely lift our head,” he lamented mournfully, his voice unsteady.
“Calm yourself, Martouf. We will recover soon, I promise you. Daniel assured me that Valynara has returned with the herbs for the tea, and from what I can remember it does help. The others are having, um, a meal, and she gave instructions for them to deliver the tea to as soon as it was ready. It has to steep for some time first. She has taken everyone who is well out for the day; I heard Daniel telling us so.”
“We are going to die. We must die. That is the only thing that will help. Help is what I need; it is what we need. We need help to put us out of our misery. I will find Daniel and get a zat’nik’tel from him. Set on overload, it will kill us quickly and painlessly, compared to this. If I cannot do that, then I will throw us from the balcony. I will find a way to end this,” Martouf declared vehemently.
“Martouf, the tea will help. Although you think we wish to die, and I am afraid that I, too, would find it preferable, we do not wish to leave Samantha alone to bear this.”
“Samantha,” Martouf spat venomously, “is the reason we are worshiping this disgusting bowl. She is the reason that we are so ill we cannot go beyond the doorway of this room, and are spending our time lying on the floor next to the same disgusting bowl that we are showing so much devotion. She is the animal that tore our body into shreds and infected us with chemicals and substances that are the direct cause of our current and future sufferings.”
He paused for a moment, thinking and picking up thoughts from Lantash. “And, furthermore, you are attempting to lie to me, Lantash. The tea may help, but only minimally, does it not?” he queried peevishly.
“No, it will help as long as we use it in the way that it must be used. I promise you, Martouf, truly,” Lantash replied, before allowing a very small sound of distress to escape him.
Martouf at once realized what it meant. “Dear universe, no, not again, please, please, not again,” he keened.
It was a despairing cry that tore at Lantash’s heart, but he, too, was whimpering. He added his own "no, not again" to the lament.
Hearing the answering wail from Lantash, Martouf knew he was correct in thinking that another wave of nausea was making its way through their shared body.
Not only that, but as usual, when Martouf was ill in this way before Lantash could control it, it gave Lantash a brutal headache…which he was so thoughtfully sharing with Martouf.
“Must you share everything with me, Lantash?” Martouf snapped querulously, as the pain in his head intensified. “Stars of Fire, will this never end? Will no one come to our aid and kill us? Death is the only viable alternative,” Martouf repined in an agonized voice, as he once again attempted to heave, an impossibility, for there was nothing left to disgorge.
“Here you go, Martouf,” Daniel said cheerfully, as he entered the bathroom carrying a cup of tea and a carafe. He kept up a steady flow of conversation as he looked for a good place to put the carafe and grabbed a wet cloth for their face. Then he began to try to find a good place for the cup as he moved in behind them and got comfortable. “Try this and see if it will help the retching. If it doesn’t, then Kataya said they’d render you, Lantash, Dev, and Malek unconscious for a while, so that you will get some rest. I guess that sometimes doing that helps stop the reflex.”
“You know how it is, you gag and then you try to puke and sometimes it just gets to be a kind of vicious circle. You heave, trying to throw up and your stomach contracts and convulses. Then, even though there isn’t anything there, you still try to vomit and it just keeps up the contractions even though you really shouldn’t be sick. You can’t upchuck if there’s nothing there.”
“Janet’s concerned that you and Malek are going to dehydrate. Although you really aren’t barfing anything up now, are you? Not a thing left to spew. Dry heaves can be really uncomfortable though. Painful even, and of course, as long as you are trying to heave your guts up, it keeps that vicious cycle going. Contraction, gag, heave, contraction, retch, heave, etc.” Daniel chattered on, oblivious to the discomfort his words were bringing to his friends as he tried to settle himself more comfortably behind them.
“Daniel, must you be so graphic? How can one language possibly have so many different and realistic words for something so horrendously uncomfortable and utterly disgusting?” Lantash came forward to complain. “Where is the tea? This bout of nausea seems to have passed for the moment. How is Samantha?” Lantash inquired from his position on the floor.
“Oh, Sam’s fine. The tea seems to have helped her quite a bit. She gets nauseated every so often, but it doesn’t seem to last. Gwennetha’s the same way. You and Malek, though, appear to be quite ill. I was the same way and so was Merdwin. Kataya says that from what she was told, her father was very ill when her mother was pregnant. Evidently, they carry a very potent form of the chemicals and hormones that cause the nausea. Since they share a mother, evidently Sam carries them, too.”
“What a wonderful trait to have inherited,” Martouf said sarcastically. “Why could she not have simply inherited her eye color or her height?” he asked bitterly, as he raised himself on one elbow.
“Kataya inherited eye color and her chemical and hormonal traits. Sam inherited her hair color and height as well as the other things.” Daniel said softly, as he first tried kneeling and then finally decided to sit on the floor behind Martouf. He helped him to sit up. Leaning back against him, Martouf took the cup of tea from Daniel. Taking a large mouthful, he swallowed it before leaning forward to bring it right back up.
“Ah, sorry, I guess I should have warned you. You need to sip it, slowly. Very, very, slowly.” He used the cloth to wipe their face and neck as they moaned again. He thought he heard one of them mumble something about 'the only viable alternative was death', but he couldn’t be sure.
“Daniel, this is the most vile, disgusting tasting tea that I have ever had. I cannot possibly drink this. The taste alone made me bring it back up,” Martouf wailed as the retching finally abated enough for him to talk.
“Dear one, please; Daniel is correct. You must sip it slowly. I will deaden your taste as much as I can. Please, Martouf, try again. It really will help to mitigate the nausea, I promise you.” Lantash pleaded softly with his mate. If only there was something he could do to at least lessen the nausea for his Prinekh he would, but unfortunately, not even a symbiote could reverse the effects of the hormones and chemicals with which their mate blessed them.
Leaning back wearily as the nausea passed once more, he allowed his head to fall back onto Daniel’s chest. Martouf closed his eyes for a moment as his arm went around Daniel and held him tightly, drawing comfort from his solid warmth and caring. Daniel held him tightly in return, silently giving support and understanding.
This man had been a good friend to them, and still he was here for them, caring for them, supporting them, physically as well as mentally, through this most abominable and revolting situation. He held Martouf’s head, wiped his forehead and his mouth, and supported him as he emptied his stomach time after time. How he managed to both support and soothe them was beyond them, but they would be eternally grateful to him for his care of them. He felt tears prick the back of his eyes and became aware of the same feelings of intense love for Daniel and his kindness coming from Lantash. How odd that they were so overwhelming.
Opening his eyes again, he looked up into the sympathetic eyes of his brother and sighed. Then he sipped. When it stayed down, he sipped again. He realized that Lantash was allowing the taste to come through a little at a time. It did not seem to taste quite so bad.
Lantash released a silent sigh of relief. If he could bring Martouf to the point of drinking the tea as often as needed, then they would be able to begin functioning again soon. It would just take a few days to allow their body to become accustomed to the invasion of these foreign substances. Then, as he knew from prior experience, it would slowly begin to assimilate and control them and within a couple of months this would all be over. “It grows on one, Beloved. That is why you must sip it at first. Once you become used to it, you will have it near always, and sip it almost constantly. It is the only way that it will work. I am afraid that we will drink gallons of it over the next two months.”
“Months? Are you telling me that this lasts for months?” Martouf's response was whispered and it was very easy to discern that he was appalled at the prospect of being in this condition for that long.
Lantash did his best to reassure Martouf, while still being truthful, murmuring, “Yes, I am afraid so; however, it will decrease in both frequency and violence as time passes.” Lantash sighed and decided he might as well tell him the rest of the bad news, “You will also wish to know that as most teas do, this also works on the, ah, system. It is a diuretic. So, I am afraid we will still be spending more time in this room than we normally would, but at least it will not be for such an unpleasant occupation. Most of the time, anyway,” he admitted, still being as truthful as he could.
“I still think that death may be the preferable and viable alternative,” Martouf moaned one more time.
“I know. And I agree with you, but they will not allow us to die, no matter how much we beg to, so it does no good to ask at all. I know, for I begged to die, when Kataya was carrying our children. No one would allow me near any instrument that could be used in that way until it began to abate.”
“Truly, Lantash? I cannot imagine you begging to die,” Martouf's disbelief was apparent in his tone.
Lantash shared some rather vivid memories that he had of him and Dominic grabbing Merdwin in a convulsive grasp and begging him to allow them to die, as well as one of them doing the same of Artereos. Martouf whimpered, almost wailing, as he realized how very ill Lantash had to have been to act in that way. “It is all right, dear one, there is no worse to come. We are every bit as ill as Dominic and I were, and the only reason that I have not voiced my wish for someone to put us out of our misery is because you have been doing it for us so well. I am aware that they will not allow us to end the misery no matter how much we beg.” Martouf moaned louder at the final and total destruction of his last faint spark of hope.
“Martouf? Isn’t the tea making it better?” Daniel asked softly, as he heard Martouf first whimpering and then moaning.
“Yes, I believe it is, Daniel, thank you. I was reacting to something that Lantash showed me. I was unaware that I had done so aloud. The truth is that I am feeling slightly less nauseated. At least it appears to be lessening. Does the tea work that quickly?” Martouf questioned him, as he considered the idea that there was, after all, one very small spark of hope still there; perhaps, it was not all gone.
Daniel looked at him closely and then obviously deciding that he was telling the truth, he told him, “Yes, actually, it does, and if you drink it as you should, it will keep all except the worst waves of nausea under control. Even those won’t be quite as bad as what you have experienced so far.” Standing so that he could help them get up, Daniel bent down and assisted them to their feet, as he said, “All right, then, come on and I’ll help you to lie down, now that your stomach has settled some. Sam wants to see you, Martouf.”
“I have no wish whatsoever to see her, Daniel. You will keep her away from me. She is barbaric, sadistic, insatiable, and vicious. I have no wish to see her ever again,” Martouf stated firmly, but with his voice beginning to quiver near the end of his statement. What was the matter with him now? He – he felt as if he was going to cry just as he had moments ago when contemplating Daniel’s many kindnesses. Dear Universe, he felt as if he could break down and bawl like a small child!
Lantash attempted to suppress his own overpowering waves of emotion and informed him, “Fluctuating hormones, Martouf. You will find that you tend to cry very easily, until they settle down somewhat, and I will be little or no help, for your emotions are also mine. If I could cry, my beloved, believe me I would be crying with you,” he stroked him gently, attempting to soothe him.
“Is there anything else she has done to me that I should know? How many more nasty little surprises are waiting for me? How much more of my life and control of it is she going to take?” Martouf asked furiously.
“Yes, there is something else, but I will tell you later,” Lantash said quietly.
As a horrible vision entered his mind at Lantash’s comment, he asked fearfully, “Lantash, we will not – not change body shape, will we? Please, please tell me that my body is going to remain unchanged,” Martouf, begged him, his voice no more than a whisper as his rage and fear entwined once again bringing him near to tears.
“No, it will not change. It is nothing like that. Calm down, dear one, it is nothing very bad at all,” Lantash kept his voice as soothing as possible as he responded to Martouf's obvious fear and anger.
“Then what is it? I must know what else she has done to us,” Martouf insisted, his normally easy-going personality morphing into his stubborn one, rarely seen but always lurking there.
Lantash sighed, before replying, “We will soon begin to experience food cravings. Voracious desires for specific foods. It…can be very disturbing.”
“Food? That is all? I see nothing disturbing about that,” Martouf’s reply was redolent with relief.
“Yes. Food. And it can be worse than you think when your host craves something he is allergic to. Never mind that now though, I will tell you all about it later, I promise.” he assured him.
Lantash sighed tiredly before returning to the subject of Samantha and continuing, “You can remain quiescent and I will see Samantha. Not only did I promise to love her for eternity, I also promised her that nothing would change the love I have for her and this has not changed my mind. So, if you wish to break our vows, you may do so. I will not,” Lantash stated firmly, as he abruptly took control of their shared body and ruthlessly suppressed the emotions boiling just under the surface.
What he told Martouf was true. He was sharing the emotional storms, but he could suppress at least some of them for a short time, and he would do that. He would not allow Martouf's anger or perhaps overly hasty words, to hurt Samantha. He would handle being with her, since Martouf could not, for he would not hurt her by refusing to see or talk to her. This was not her fault, not any of it, and he refused to blame her for it. They would cope. Somehow.
“I wish to see her, Daniel. I can go to her though,” Lantash said to Daniel, while he scolded Martouf internally.
“Nor will I allow you to hurt our Samantha’s feelings by being cruel to her. She did not do this on purpose. Kataya assured us that she had no control over it and did not even know what was happening. You go sulk. I will take care of this,” Lantash told him, his voice stern and implacable.
“Fine. Go ahead,” Martouf, said, still feeling put upon, disgruntled, and deceived.
“No, you are to lie down, rest, and drink tea. You need to put fluids back into your bodies, and if you don’t, Janet will be starting IV’s. Trust me on this,” Daniel assured him.
Smiling slightly, as he rolled over onto his side, he answered, “I will not argue, Daniel. I feel very weak. It is an unsettling feeling. We are rarely ill, for as you know, we can cure almost any disease. I believe that makes this even harder to bear, as we do not know how to cope with being ill.”
“I know, and I remember what it is like.”
Martouf came forward, and frowned, “You have said that twice, Daniel, but I did not think that you and Kataya had children.”
“We don’t,” Daniel said, softly. “Kataya lost the kits that she was carrying because she was protecting me. You could say that I caused the loss of our kits, if you really wanted to get technical. I didn’t have the skills to defend her, so she lost the only set of kits that we’ ll ever have.”
“I had forgotten. I am sorry, Daniel; I remember now. Samantha told me after the first mind link that they did. She said that it was not your fault, and that Kataya can have others. You will have more, Daniel.”
“No, Martouf, there will be no kits for us,” Daniel said, as he left the room.
“Why is Daniel so adamant, Lantash? I do not understand. Do you think it is because he will not again go through this? I cannot say I blame him for that, but surely, the Furling mating cycle is not upsetting for him? I mean, he is Furling as well as Tau’ri.” Martouf was clearly confused by Daniel’s attitude toward having children.
“No, I do not believe this had anything to do with his answer. He was one of the few who is known not to have asked to die. I remember Kataya telling me that, and Merdwin, also, admitted that fact when Dominic and I were begging death to claim us. So, I do not know why he is so adamant, Martouf, and he obviously does not wish to discuss it,” Lantash said, as he once again took control back as Sam came through the door.
“Lantash, I’m so sorry,” Sam said, as she knelt by the bed. “Is Martouf all right?” She asked, realizing immediately that of the two of them, Martouf would have the most trouble accepting the incident.
“He will be in time, Samantha, I promise you. He is somewhat upset at the moment, but I assure you it is a normal reaction. It is just such a shock to him, Amat Wyn, and the emotional upheaval your hormones are causing is very difficult for him to understand as well. I myself would no doubt be struggling with this, if I had not lived through it before. It seems,” he smiled wryly, “that the male is truly the weaker of the sexes when it comes to childbirth, my love.”
“I can’t blame him, Lantash. I didn’t know and Kataya didn’t either. She assumed that I would continue in my Tau’ri cycles, and I never thought about it at all, mainly because I didn’t know. I’m really, really, sorry. If I could take the last twenty-four hours back, I would.”
“I would not, my Samantha. Do you realize that although you are pale, there is a luminescent quality to you? You are glowing, my love. You are – you are happy about the kits, are you not?” Lantash asked, as he gently stroked her arm and then her cheek.
Sam smiled at him and a slight flush rose in her cheeks. “Yes. Yes, I am. I’m sorry for the way it happened. I’d rather you both had been fully informed beforehand about what would happen and had consented, but now that it’s a fact that can’t be changed, well, yes. Yes, I’m thrilled.”
“I promised you that there would be no children, Samantha, because of the pain of the birth. I had forgotten this part, although I do not know how I could have. I would understand if you did not wish to go through with it. I know you said that you wanted children and that was why you would not blend right away, but I still feel bound by my promise to you. I would have waited for you to truly decide you wanted to do this.”
“I couldn’t be happier about the outcome, Lantash. I was very serious when I said that I wanted children with you. True, I hadn’t planned on it happening this way, but now that it’s happened, I want them very, very, much.”
“I am glad, Coeurawyn,” Lantash replied. So am I, I assure you.
“I just wish Martouf wasn’t disgusted and angered by it all. I really wouldn’t have done those things to you if I’d been able to control it. I’m really sorry,” Sam whispered, as tears filled her eyes and slipped silently down her cheeks.
Pulling her up onto the bed and into his arms, Lantash settled her beside him on the bed, and said quietly, “He will get over it, Samantha. In fact, I think that once he remembers everything, he will remember the beautiful parts as well as the more, ah, aggressive parts, and he will realize how much love was between the three of us during our mating. He is simply still in shock, my love. Do not forget that he had no prior knowledge of the Furling mating cycle, so he is still somewhat…” Lantash’s voice faded as he realized that he could not say what Martouf was feeling.
“Appalled? Disgusted? Repulsed? I understand, Lantash. I was shocked myself, you know. I mean, once I understood why it happened, I could understand it, but the fact that I gave him, or you, no choice is what bothers me. If I could have explained it to him and had his consent, that would have been different. I feel as if I raped you, both of you, and it’s a terrible feeling, Lantash. It’s as if I used you against your will. I feel awful about it and every time I think of it, I become really sick to my stomach. It’s taking a lot of the joy of the result away, I assure you.”
“Samantha, look at me,” Lantash said, as he forced her to look up from where she was staring at the blanket on the bed. When he had her full attention and she was looking him squarely in the eyes, he said, “We wanted you, Samantha. It was not rape. I admit the drugging effect caused us to desire to mate more often than we would have, but that did not stop us from enjoying it, Carusawyn.”
“In fact, from what I have been able to remember, and I believe that I remember almost all of it now, it was a very erotic night. It is a night that I will remember fondly forever. Moreover, if you do not believe me, then you may ask Martouf, once he stops sulking, and he will tell you that the night that Lanwin and Taesha were conceived is another memory I will always hold very dear. The Furling mating cycle is somewhat barbaric and pagan, but even so, it is a very erotic and fulfilling mating. Perhaps it is so erotic because it is so uncivilized. It is lusty, wild, and completely unencumbered by civilized behavior. I think that makes it even more enticing and bewitching.”
Hugging him tightly, she said, “I love you so much. I hope they have some of your traits, Lantash, as Lanwin and Taesha do. I’d love to see my children growing up to remind me of you, as well as Martouf. I know how much it meant to Kataya that she could look at them and see both you and Dominic. It will be the same for me. I just hope that Martouf forgives me before they are grown,” she sighed sadly, tears once again finding their way slowly down her cheeks.
Sam felt the change in his body before he spoke. “There is nothing to forgive, my Samantha,” Martouf said, as he gently wiped the tears from her face. “I am a fool and an idiot for blaming you for something that you could do nothing about. No, even more than that, I am wrong because I love you, and I promised to love you for eternity, to be there for you, and to love and accept you. I did not do that, and it was very wrong of me.”
“And, Lantash is correct. In many ways, I will never forget the experience. I have to admit that what he said is the truth. It was erotic, passionate, and in some ways, liberating. We made love on a very elemental level, where we each both gave and took what we wanted and needed. I will go through it as many times as you wish, Samantha, and give you as many children as you want. Please forgive me for acting like a child myself,” he said, remorse evident in his voice. He had been a childish idiot. He loved this woman more than his own life. She was his eternal mate, his wife. He would not fail her again. At least, he would try not to.
Sam smiled at him and kissed him softly, before he jerked away from her and quickly sat upright. “That is, if we survive this time,” he groused, as he raced for the bathroom.
Sam sat up, poured herself a cup of tea, and sipped it until she felt her nausea leaving. Then listening and realizing that he was no longer heaving as much as he had been, she poured him a warm cup of tea from the carafe and headed to the bathroom.
He really had to learn to keep sipping this stuff, she thought, as she sipped a little more of it herself. Kneeling beside him, she offered him the cup.
Taking it in a shaking hand, he moaned again and took a sip. It was not the most pleasant tea that he had ever had, but its medicinal value made it wonderful.
Kataya sat with her daughter while she sobbed as if her heart was breaking. She had been afraid of this happening, but she could do nothing to avert it. The damage was done, and now they were doing their best to control it. Unfortunately, for the moment all they could do was listen. Eventually, there would be more constructive things to do, but the time for that had not arrived yet.
“How could he call me those things? I thought he loved me. He promised to love me forever, for eternity. My mother, I do not understand.”
“The male does not always understand these things. I doubt that he expected the Mal'et'matk to be so, um, unpleasant. Malek may even have believed that he could override it, so they would not experience it at all. Tok’Ra are rarely ill, Gwennetha, much like us, and it is a very debilitating condition.”
“Momma,” Gwennetha bit her lip until it bled to stop it from trembling and then confessed, “He did not know. I – I forgot all about it when he asked me to become his mate. It never even occurred to me that I should explain it. Momma, he is so very angry.”
“Oh, Gwennetha, how could you not?” Kataya sighed, disappointed in her daughter, but she could understand how it had happened. So much had been happening then. The battle with Morgasha was fast approaching, finding her Soulmate at last, almost killing him in a hot tub. Explaining how, once they were bonded, it became an eternal bond, for they would be reborn as Furling, as her mates, and that only at death could they choose to change that. They had been together for such a short time, and yet Devlin and Malek knew so little of the Furling. There was so much that she needed to explain to them. She could not truly blame Gwennetha for forgetting it.
Yes, she could see how the Lun’ak’mat had slipped her mind with everything else, and she did remember to explain the rebirth. In the normal course of events, with a Furling as the chosen mate, it would not have needed to be brought up at all. Gwennetha would have no more thought to explain the Lun’ak’mat than she would think to explain how to sleep or eat. It was simply a fact of life for the Furling. Unfortunately, it was not a fact of Devlin and Malek’s life. Until now, that is.
“Normally, I would tell you to pay no attention to Dev and Malek, for they did not mean it; they are simply quite ill and still in shock at the turn of events. However, while I still believe that this is partly true, you have the added disadvantage that they were totally unprepared for this.”
“You should have explained the Lun’ak’mat before they agreed to be your mate, so you must expect them to be quite angry, Amat Wyn.” Looking at her sadly, she continued, “Especially Malek, for in addition to everything else, Gwennetha, Malek will feel that he failed in his duty to protect Devlin. Moreover, he will resent that he would have to protect him against you, of all beings. It will be a very difficult situation. His pride will be hurt as well. Malek will be furious, for to a Tok’Ra, to be out of control in this way will be a terrible blow to his pride. When you add to the list that he will, no doubt, beg to die, I am afraid that you must expect it to be quite some time before he can bring himself to forgive you.”
“However,” she continued briskly, as Merdwin had known she would, “your own father was even more derogatory to me when he was first ill with the mal’et’matk. He called me an insatiable, devious, vicious, savage, beast that delighted in making him ill. Men are sometimes like small children, and small children are not patient when they are ill. In fact, they are often quite cranky and querulous. In my experience, men are very much the same.”
“Dev and Malek are hurting and confused and like any injured animal they have turned on the one they perceive as their tormentor. Unfortunately, you are in that position.”
“On a cheerier note, you will do the same during labor, for you will no doubt call them every derogatory name you can think of for planting within you the seeds that grew so large that they could not possibly leave your body without tearing you in half.”
“Gwennetha, even though you are somewhat at fault for not preparing them, I do not doubt that, in time, they will forgive you. They do love you dearly and you know that. They have simply forgotten it for the moment because of the trauma. You must be patient. No doubt, they will be very sorry later. Now, come, calm down, Coeurawyn.” Kataya said softly, as she rubbed her daughter’s back and allowed her to cry. It almost broke her own heart to hear her daughter’s heart breaking, but there was nothing she could do short of knocking Malek upside his head, and she doubted even that would get his attention right now.
“Gwennetha,” she said solemnly, as her daughter’s crying quieted, “you do realize, that if Malek and Devlin cannot bring themselves to forgive you, the all will grant them the release from their vows. Even the Soulmate can be released when there has been deception, whether intentional or not. Did you explain that to them, too?”
Gwennetha’s lips trembled again. “No, I explained that it could be broken after death, before the rebirth. So there is another deception on my part,” she said bitterly. “I do not deserve them, my mother, and I know what I must do. I will petition the all to restore to them their soul-threads and return mine to me.”
“Do nothing yet, Gwennetha, and do not discuss that with them, under any circumstances. Understand?” Kataya said sternly.
Gwennetha looked at her mother intently and then smiled sadly. “You believe that they will change their minds. They will not. To Malek, I am no more than a vicious animal, who wishes to harm him and Devlin. I cannot fight that attitude, nor do I believe that I wish to. In truth, mother, I wonder if their love was truly as strong as they vowed to me that it was. They promised me unwavering faith and part of that is trust that I would never intentionally hurt them. You know this as well as I. Therefore, while it is true that I have broken my vows to them through deceit, they have broken their vows of faith to me. It was all I asked of them, so, while it is true that I should have explained, I believe that if they truly loved me, they would forgive me.”
“Exactly, my love. However, even love occasionally takes time. Your father would not speak to me for a week other than to call me names and moan loudly to anyone who would listen about what I had done to him. Moreover, Gwennetha, he is Furling and inflicted the pain and bleeding on us himself with the spines on his male member. In addition, even though ours was a joint decision to have kits, in his mind, they were my chemicals and hormones that made him ill, therefore, it was all my fault. So do not give in so easily, and do not assume they will not forgive you. It is not yet even one day. Your father will mentor them, so do not feel so depressed. It may all work out in the end. In fact, I am sure it will.”
“Now, I suggest you lie down for a while and rest. Keep the tea nearby and sip it often. While you will be ill on and off, if you sip it as often as possible, it will help. I really believe that part of the reason Merdwin suffered so much is because he did not remember to sip his tea. Once he learned that it did help and began to keep it by him all the time, he was not nearly so ill, even though he was nauseated often. Still, he no longer heaved so much.”
Picturing her proud father begging to die and heaving into a bowl brought a slight smile to Gwennetha’s lips. If he could survive that, surely Malek and Devlin could. She was going to miss them, though, while she waited for them to realize that they still loved her. If they ever did.
After settling her daughter, Kataya went in search of Merdwin. She had explained in more detail to Janet this morning about the spines on the Furling male’s member and the Furling mating ritual. Needless to say, Janet had been appalled, but she had finally realized that although human in form, the Furling were a different species, and they had evolved in their own way. They certainly were akin to the cats of their world, as Merdwin had explained. They were simply more akin than she had realized. It didn’t change her love for Merdwin, but it certainly brought home the fact that he was an alien.
Kataya sighed, as her mind came back to the original problem. At least Lantash and Dominic had consented ahead of time. She did not doubt that Lantash would understand and he would help Martouf. Malek and Dev were different, however, and they would take careful handling. If one or both of them petitioned the All for release, the chances were that Gwennetha would be required to die to release them from those vows. She hoped it did not come to that, as it was not an avenue she would wish to have to deal with. It would be very painful for all involved. However, if worse came to worst, it could force them to either realize they did love her, or prove that they did not. One way or the other, it would solve the problem.
Merdwin looked at Jacob Carter as they sat together enjoying, well, eating brunch. Of those not affected, the two of them were the only ones left at the table; the others having gone off for the day to explore and be entertained by Valynara. No one else had been able to stomach the thought of food, and Jacob was obviously expecting to talk to him. If Merdwin had been the sort of person to groan, he would have.
Lantash and Martouf were as ill as Malek and Devlin. Samantha and Gwennetha were not only ill, but also remorseful and feeling very depressed. Daniel was holding Martouf and Lantash’s hand and helping them with their tea sipping. Lantash had wanted to see Samantha, so that was encouraging and hopefully by now she was being cuddled by the two of them.
Malek had petulantly insisted that the tea was too disgusting to drink, that they were attempting to poison them, and refused it completely, so to stop his whining, Merdwin had finally put Malek and Dev to sleep so that they would stop heaving… and stop complaining.
Once they were asleep, Merdwin had locked them in their room, ensuring that they could not throw themselves off the balcony by also locking that door and window … from the outside. Moreover, he had removed all sharp objects.
After talking to Gwennetha and then discussing the situation with him, Kataya had insisted she had a migraine. Kataya never had headaches, so that was her way of avoiding the meal and Jacob. Therefore, it had landed squarely in Merdwin's lap to tackle the explanations. Merdwin sighed deeply, and Jacob looked at him sharply.
"What's wrong? Is Sam okay?”
“Samantha is having morning sickness, or what passes for your morning sickness. Unfortunately, although it is worse first thing in the morning, it often lasts all day. We have procured the herbs that will mitigate it. She is resting at the moment and drinking the tea, which will help her. No doubt, by later this afternoon, she will be able to eat. Kataya always could when she was pregnant. Moreover, other than the Mal’et’matk, the morning sickness, she is glowing, Jacob. Your daughter is thrilled to be pregnant, I assure you.”
“I am more concerned with Martouf, Lantash, Malek, and Devlin than I am Samantha and Gwennetha. The women will handle this situation quite well. Martouf, Lantash, Malek and Devlin, however, are another matter altogether.”
“If Sam and Gwennetha are the ones that are ill, why are you worried about Martouf and Devlin? Aren’t they willing to give support and comfort? What the hell is wrong with them?” Jacob demanded, frowning. “Don’t they realize that it’s their place to be with their mates during this?”
“On your world, it works that way, Jacob, but the Furling are somewhat different. You see, during the mating ritual, Samantha and Gwennetha infected their mates with the chemicals and hormones from their own bodies; Ergo, both Martouf and Lantash, as well as Devlin and Malek, are quite ill this morning, and it will continue until they learn to drink the tea that mitigates it. That will help, but it will not go completely away for a couple of months.”
Jacob stared at Merdwin, seeming at a loss for words. Finally realizing the meaning of the words that Merdwin had said, he asked, “They have morning sickness? The men have morning sickness? Maybe it’s time for you to explain to me exactly what took place last night,” Jacob said firmly.
“Ask him about Colonel O’Neill’s attitude, Jacob,” Sel instructed.
“And Selmak wants to know what got into Jack? He acted like he had no idea anything had happened last night.”
Merdwin smiled slightly, saying calmly, “I convinced him that it would be unwise for him to comment, ever, to any of the people involved. In other words, Jack has agreed that he has total amnesia in regards to the situation last night. He will be suitably surprised and delighted when Samantha announces her pregnancy.”
“I – see. So am I supposed to have amnesia, too?”
“No, Jacob, that will not be necessary and depending on how things work out, it could possibly be detrimental.”
“So, are you ready to tell me all those things that you insisted last night could wait until today?”
“Yes. Valynara offered us the use of the library. I suggest we go in there, if you have finished your meal.”
“Yeah, I’m ready, er, well, I’m finished anyway. I’m not sure about how ready I am to hear this.”
Merdwin smiled fully at him for the first time that day. “It will no doubt repulse and appall you, Jacob. I am sorry that this is so, but it cannot be helped; it is our way. We are akin to the cats of our world, so please keep that in mind,” Merdwin warned him mildly, as they stood and headed for the library.
Having found the ever-present Port and Mead, Merdwin relaxed for the first time in what seemed like hours. As he sank into the comfortable winged-back chair and sipped his port, he closed his eyes and simply existed for a moment. He had contacted Kataya to check on Malek and Dev and she had agreed. Thank the All; they were still sleeping soundly.
Drawing a deep relaxing breath he began to speak, “You are aware that we take on many attributes of the Great Cats of our world, the Pantherataya and the Lionkatanar. This extends into our mating rituals. A Furling female must have blood drawn before she will release her eggs, Jacob. And the male member must bleed for his blood must mix with his semen in order to ensure fertilization of those eggs.”
Merdwin stopped and sipped his port. Glancing at Jacob, he was not surprised to realize that Selmak had taken his place, no doubt to suppress Jacob’s rude comments. Therefore, he said to him, “Selmak, it is not necessary to try to protect me from Jacob’s less than flattering remarks. We are very aware of how barbaric our mating is to non- Furlings. Millennia ago, it was worse than it is today, for there was a violent rite called the blooding that took place to bond the male and female for eternity. It has evolved into the bonding rite we have today, and only two consenting Furlings now use the ancient sexual aspect. Not that I mind talking to you, old friend, but I think you should allow Jacob to express his horror and revulsion.”
“If you are sure that you do not mind, Merdwin. I would not insult you and your people for any price. Your rites and rituals, while pagan, are in themselves beautiful. Lantash told me once, when he could finally bring himself to talk of his time with Kataya, that the night his children were conceived was one of the most wildly erotic and passionate, yet love-filled, nights that he had ever known, and he would cherish that memory forever.”
Merdwin smiled at the memories that flashed through his own mind of the mating with the woman he had loved and the night she conceived their kits. The memories of that night had washed over him often in the horrendous days following it and helped to soothe his wounded pride. Moreover, as Lantash did, to this day, he remembered it with awe and almost overwhelming feelings of gratitude and love for the woman that had given him, not only that night, but also the two children that he loved so much.
“Yes,” he answered softly. “I, too, have only wonderful memories of that night. The love given and received during Lun’ak’mat is a wondrous thing indeed.” Suddenly he laughed ruefully, “In order to mitigate the suffering that follows it, it must be.”
Jacob came forward and looked uncomfortable as he said, “All right, Sel’s giving me hell, telling me not to be rude, and he’s right. So, I’ll um, try to keep my comments to myself.”
“There is no need to censor yourself, Jacob. I will understand.”
“Okay, thanks, but I’ll still attempt to stay polite. Sel’s right and your ways deserve respect as much as our ways do. So, could you, maybe, start at the beginning? I mean, I don’t understand any of it. Maybe just tell me first what happens between two Furling mates. Maybe I can extrapolate from there.”
Nodding, Merdwin began his lecture. “I have already explained that there must be blood drawn on the female for her to release the eggs, and there must be blood drawn from the male member in order for the blood and semen to mix to insure fertilization.”
Watching Jacob closely as he continued, he said, “A male Furling’s member has very short, very sharp, spines just under the skin on its upper half. They are completely inactive and are undetectable except during Lun’ak’mat, the Furling mating cycle. At the time of Lun’ak’mat, the female exudes a very potent aphrodisiac called the Pher’ak’tel. It calls to the male as nothing else that I have ever encountered. The female’s chemicals drug both the male and the female so that they will complete the rather painful mating.”
He smiled wryly as Jacob closed his eyes and winced, fully understanding what he was saying. “The spines have receptors which cause them to harden and become vertical when in the presence of the chemicals within the female’s channel walls.”
“So, the pheromones call the male. The chemicals and hormones, released by her first climax, drug both of them. They also immediately begin the building of the overwhelming desire to mate. The female will tease the male for quite some time, pleasuring him to the point where all he can think of is sinking himself into her body.”
“When he reaches the point of being unable to stand anymore and insists on taking her, she will allow him entry and the chemicals act on the receptors. As the male climaxes, the spines stiffen and become vertical, ripping through his skin and into her channel walls. Her eggs are released; his semen mixes with his blood and in all probability, in about four to five months, two to four kits will be born.”
“In very mature Furlings, the female can control the amount of pheromones she produces, and they will only mate a few times. In younger ones, where they cannot control the output of the pheromones,” Merdwin sighed, “In those cases, they can mate to the point of exhaustion.”
Jacob stared at Merdwin, unmoving and saying nothing, as his mind grappled with this information.
He cleared his throat, and then said, somewhat hoarsely, “Okay, I understand that, but I’ m not able to extrapolate it out and apply it to Martouf and Sam. Martouf isn’t Furling and he doesn’t have those, um, spine thingies.”
“No, he does not, you are correct.”
“So, what exactly happened? I mean, did they just, um, you know, exhaust each other? I mean, Lantash did look exhausted when he was there in the hall.”
Merdwin wondered if he should keep the truth from Jacob but that thought passed as he realized that if Samantha needed him, and he did not have the facts, he would be unable to help her.
“Jacob,” he said softly, “Samantha followed her Furling instincts. She had to bleed and so did they. Kataya did the same to Lantash at the time of their kits’ conception. When the female mates with a non-Furling for the purpose of conception, they must imitate the conditions as closely as possible. When she sensed that they were drugged enough and in enough need of her body, she would have used her claws to bring blood to his member, and she would have insisted they draw blood, probably on her neck, before she allowed them access to her. All the criteria of conception were met, Jacob, or she would not be pregnant.”
“And Jacob, although she understands it, Martouf does not. Add to it that he is vilely ill, and the consequence is that he is refusing to do so much as speak to her. Lantash, of course, having experienced it before, will be able to help Martouf to understand not only what happened, but that Samantha did not do it deliberately. Her body took over for her, and she was as much a victim of the drugging as they were. They will work it out, I assure you, but she will need your support and acceptance. I hope you can accept her.”
Jacob sat, stunned. “Sel, tell me what to think, to feel. He just told me that my daughter assaulted her mate. It almost sounds like rape.”
“No, I do not think so, Jacob. Remember what I said about Lantash’s feelings, as well as what Merdwin admitted he felt about it. That it is a night of love and passion. One they never forget and cherish forever. Certainly, there were things that were out of their control, but neither of them could control it. Rape is a violent act committed purposely by one being on another to hurt them.”
“Neither of them had control of what transpired, nor did Samantha do what she did as an act of violence, so I do not believe it can truly be called rape. Merdwin told you that she was a victim of her own body. She did not know, nor could she control it, Jacob, and she could do nothing to stop it once it started; I am sure. Otherwise, Gwennetha would not have also gone through with it, for she must have had to do the same to Malek and Dev,” Selmak gave his opinion on all aspects of their discussion in a calm and practical manner. He was neither appalled nor disgusted by what happened and he hoped that Jacob would adopt his attitude as his own. So far it was not too bad. He hoped it stayed that way.
Jacob groaned. “My god, what a mess. Malek will never forgive her. He lost control, without his consent, if what they are telling us is true. On top of that, he failed to protect his host. He will find that extremely hard to forgive or forget. For her to have injured him would be bad enough; for him to have allowed her to injure Dev…” he groaned again, realizing just how deeply upset Malek would be. To allow himself to be injured was one thing; to have failed in his responsibility to protect his beloved Devlin would be a crime he would find hard to forgive himself for, let alone the woman who had caused it.
“I will allow Malek to sulk for a while, Jacob, but if he does not come around in the end, then I will take a hand in this affair. Gwennetha was as much a victim of her body as he was. She would not have done that without his consent if she had a choice. The Furling are an ancient, civilized, and caring race. They were born of the Mysts of time. They accept all sentient creatures as worthy of respect, and I have a great deal of respect for them. I will not allow Malek, or anyone else, to look on them as ‘animals,’ so you should remove that word from your thoughts, also, my dear one,” Selmak chided Jacob gently, even as he let him know that he loved him.
Drawing a shaky breath, Jacob smiled slightly for his mate, “I’m sorry, Sel, and you’re right, of course. I have no right to judge them. I’m just upset that Sam could do, did, that. I guess I just don’t know how to get my head around it.”
“Try finding the love you have for her and accepting that she now has traits of an ancient race that must be accepted as a part of her, much as you accepted her as the Dragon of the Star, and as much as the Tok’Ra traits she inherited from Jolinar make her part Tok’ Ra,” Selmak advised gently.
“True. I do love her. And I suppose if Lantash and Martouf can accept it, then who am I to refuse to?” Jacob asked, his tone accepting.
“Exactly, Jacob,” Selmak agreed. He was quite pleased with Jacob's attitude as he finally thought the situation through.
Another thought coming into his mind, he turned back to Merdwin, who sat quietly and waited for him to finish his internal conversation. “Sam was too young to be able to control any of this, is that what you’re saying?”
“Yes. Not only was she too young to control it, but she was not even aware of it on a conscious level, only an instinctual level. Had we realized she would trade her normal Tau’ri cycle for a Furling one, we would have taken steps to protect her from it, I assure you.”
Jacob nodded decisively, “Yes, I know you and Kataya both well enough by now to know that’s the truth. So now what?”
“Now, we do our best to give support to all who have been affected the most. Of all of them, Malek and Devlin will have the most difficulty, for Gwennetha did not tell them about the Lun’ak’mat. It was very remiss of her, and she is well aware of that.”
“However, as Kataya pointed out, she can choose to abort the kits to free them from the Mal’et’matk and death for herself to free them from their vows. Or, if they will use the tea, she may wait and choose to die during the birthing and thus free them if they wish that.”
“We must hope that Malek is not so enraged that in his anger, he petitions the All to repudiate Gwennetha and to have his soul-threads returned. If he did, it could have unpleasant consequences. It will depend on their reaction to what has happened. So far, it is not good and I do not expect it to get better anytime soon.”
“Isn’t that a little drastic?” Jacob asked, appalled.
“I sincerely hope it will not come to that, Jacob. I believe they truly love my daughter. They have just forgotten it for the moment. The Mal’et’matk is a very distressing event. In the Furling, the male shares the morning sickness, the food cravings, the hormone swings, and the emotions, everything except the actual carrying of the kits. The woman can also choose to allow him to experience the labor. Kataya was kind enough to do so with me,” he said sardonically. “Lantash she spared that, mostly because of Dominic, I am sure.”
Jacob shook his head. “I don’t envy them at all. Sel and I will do everything we can to help though, Merdwin. Just let us know what needs taken care of and we’ll do what we can.”
“Let us see how Lantash and Martouf respond to Samantha. I already know how Malek and Devlin are responding to Gwennetha. Thank the All, they are asleep for the moment.”
“I am going to have another glass of port before they awaken and begin to beg to die again.”
Jacob looked startled, “Do they really beg to die?” he asked incredulously.
Merdwin gave a twisted grimace of a smile. “Oh, yes, Jacob, we do. Even I begged death to claim me. Very few do not. Believe it or not, Daniel is one of the few that I know who withstood it stoically and stayed by their mates’ side without a whisper of blame. Llancellon was another.”
“Even - even Lantash?” Jacob asked, awed by the idea that such a proud being could be cut down in that way by a little illness. Malek, also, had a great deal of arrogance and pride. But, then, Merdwin also, was very proud and strong, and he admitted to begging.
“Even Lantash, Jacob, and not only do we beg someone to kill us, we actively plot our demise. You would no doubt be surprised. This is why Malek and Dev are locked into the room with all sharp objects removed and their access to the balcony restricted. Once they accept it as part of the process and forgive their mates, we will be able to trust them again.”
“Would you care for another glass of port, Jacob?”
“Yeah,” Jacob said, and then he grinned, “Yeah, I think I would. Thanks. Hopefully, we can get more if we need it.”
“Certainly, Jacob. There is more where that came from. Artereos is ready and willing to send more. We have his full sympathy, by the way. And his agreement to step in, if necessary. Everything will work out in the end. Trust me on this.”
“I do, Merdwin, believe me, I do,” Jacob declared fervently.