Part Ten - Reflections
Ok, just to give you a head's up, the last few bits of this chapter are unbeta'd - she's been a right lazy shit lately, so on her head be it. I wanted to put this up now cos its been a wee bit too long since I posted, and I had my last morning exam today - ceeeelebrate good times, come on! Admittedly there isn't much plot, mostly background and the finish of the dream sequence, etc. Have fun!Part Ten – Reflections
When Faith was younger, she had never been inclined toward any place that was associated with books. Books were for the smart kids, who had parents with the money to buy them. Libraries were towering, silent places, full of whispering and shuffling and hard, accusing stares. What are you doing here, little girl?
She’d never been clean enough for libraries.
When she turned fourteen, Matilda Wyatt had come for her, and she’d had a whole new reason to avoid books. She’d never actively disliked her Watcher, in fact, after the first perilous six months or so, they reached something of a truce and became accustomed to one another. Mat could still be too wordy for Faith, and Faith too brash for Mat, but they were friends, after a fashion.
When the Slayer rose in her, burning through her with furious energy, there had seemed no need for books, even though Mat still insisted she make some
effort. Five months later, Mat was a savaged heap of flesh with blank eyes, and Faith was making tracks to SunnyD, Kakistos hot on her heels.
When Faith was one of the Chosen Two, any thought of books and learning and knowledge had been thrust into the very darkest recesses of her brain. There was no time, no need; no way
was she ever going near books, except for the odd bit of sparing with B in Giles’ library.
But when Faith became a ward of the Tok’ra, things began to change. Knowledge wasn’t kept in books. Anise kept a diary, but that was seen as something of a novelty. Knowledge came by word of mouth, in whispers, in glowing alien script that flowed across cut crystal monitors. All she could think was that while she had slept, whoever sent the Slayer dreams had wrought some sort of inexplicable change in her, because there was no way in hell…
How could she explain this, this sudden burning need to learn, to know
? She wanted to know everything. It was insatiable.
One thing that bothered her – one gaping whole in this new skein of information – was not knowing how she got there, to the planet with the Tok’ra base, and in an Asgard stasis pod. But the others had known, or at least, had an idea…
Faith, by that time familiar with the crystals and how they worked, had gotten unusually creative and built a burrow – running level with the ceiling – from her quarters to the council chambers. No mean feat, considering she could only work on it without anyone in or near her room. The Tok’ra had no doors, and theoretically no secrets. Yeah, right. They just sometimes conveniently didn’t tell people stuff. From what she’d guessed and overhead, they’d been doing that to the Tau’ri – Earthlings, apparently – for years.
“Faith says the events that led to her coma took place in the Tau’ri year 1999,” Malek had said. “By their count it is now 2003. She has been in a coma for over three years.”
Her heart had nearly stopped in her chest. He’d told her, but she hadn’t really believed…
“It cannot be a coincidence then,” a new voice said. Faith didn’t know it. “The Asgard informed the Tau’ri that Loki’s ship passed them several years ago, in the year 2000. She would have been asleep for nearly eight months at the time. He could have beamed her from the hospital then, and been keeping her for a later experiment. Faith’s physical results show she is not a normal human.”
“I concur with Selmak.”
She shivered. Anise’s attention unnerved her. Made her wish for something sharp and an excuse to start stabbing. The feeling was probably mutual.
“Faith is very different from the rest of her kind. A scan from Loki’s ship would have revealed her. With that in mind, I would like to propose to the council that she –”
“Anise,” Garshaw said, sounding weary. “Faith is to remain in Malek’s care. He holds her best interests at heart, while you seem to be only concerned with how you may use her. We support your scientific tenacity, but that will not win her trust, Anise. We will hear no more of your petitions.”
It was days later that she finally badgered the full report from the Tau’ri out of Malek while they sparred. Loki had returned to Earth recently, abducting a man with supposed advanced DNA and attempting to clone him. Faith had laughed herself sick when they told her the clone had only aged as far as fifteen. Mal had won that round.
Now…well, now things were falling into place. She could almost feel it; like sand drawn beneath her feet by invisible waters. Portents sliding and aligning like stars and people, shuffling and turning; a tarot deck, and the card you pull will be the Chariot. The battle card – willpower, conviction, righteousness and plain hard work. Mat had spread the tarot, late in the evenings before she took Faith hunting, in the early days of Slayage. Faith remembered her face by the light of the Tiffany lamps, blue and red and dragonfly green…
In the coming months, while she learnt and strived and journeyed out into the galaxy, looking for the Little Queen who haunted her dreams, Faith remembered those old cards. Of all the things she wanted back, if she ever set foot on Earth again, Mat’s tarot was one of the things she wanted the most
Faith was treating the staff blast on his shoulder when the convulsions began. She gripped his arms and pushed him back onto her bunk, yelling for Mal, and it still took all her weight to keep him there.
“What is happening?”
“Dunno, he was fine, just sleeping. Now this!”
“I was afraid of this,” the Tok’ra told her, holding O’Neill while Faith bound the Colonel to the bunk. “The Queen may be rejecting him as a host.”
“What the fuck?!”
“Through no fault of her own,” he was quick to add. “She may not be biologically capable of remaining within a male host.”
“And you didn’t think to bring this up earlier?” Faith ground out. One of O’Neill’s arms snatched free and managed to clip her jaw. She swore colourfully.
“I’m fine, Mal, five-by-five. Just hold him.”
It was around then that O’Neill flung himself upward, torso rising several inches off the mattress, and began speaking in harsh, half-sobbed Latin. His voice was deeper, layered; a Tok’ra voice. In the midst of his cries, Faith made out one word; one name.
The Roman Slayer, the girl she had walked beside in her prophet’s dreams. Dreaming…
“This isn’t a rejection; she isn’t rejecting him as a host. She’s dreaming, and she’s taken him along for the ride to hell,” she told Mal urgently, leaning forward and tapping roughly on O’Neill’s collarbone. “O’Neill! O’Neill, wake up!”
“Try his first name,” Malek said, still struggling to subdue the other man’s flailing. “Try ‘Jack’.”
She stared at Malek for a moment. By his first name… In all her sordid years, it was something she avoided. There was something uncomfortably intimate in calling someone by their first name. It had always been a surname, or a nickname, or a hurled insult. Hell, most times she got away with an innuendo.
But now…now there was no time for her issues.
She curled one small hand into the fabric of his shirt, unconsciously imitating Teryl all those centuries ago, only this time there was no snow, and not nearly as much blood.
! Come on man, wake up. It’s just a dream, its Tigwin’s dream. She’s dragged you in, but you can get free. Dude, you have to wake up. Jack…”
Somewhere, somewhere in the dark someone was calling his name. But he couldn’t answer, couldn’t breathe through the blood and snow. Tigwin was weeping on his chest, and the Jaffa could come for her…
Wait a sec. This was
Tigwin’s dream. Tigwin was in control at the moment. Grabbing two fistfuls of shirt, Faith shook him slightly.
! Tigwin, let him go!”
She sat up, gasping through the tears, wrenching her gaze from his dead face. Her name on the wind…how…?“Tigwin, let him go!”
Let who…? But…
Looking down again, she let out a cry of horror, for it was not Wolf who lay in the darkening snow, but Jack, her current host.
Her host. He was here, in the dream. Reliving this…she couldn’t do that to him.
“NO!” she yelled, pulling away from him. As she did, a vice of cold steel clamped about her wrist. She gasped and looked down. Jack was watching her with dark, hooded eyes, lips blue with cold.
The barriers of the dream shifted, widened and finally gave. Jack and Tigwin’s collective consciousness spread outward like spilled ink from her mind, into his.
A new nightmare began.
It was sunny, a Saturday afternoon. A couple sat on their front doorstep, surrounded by flowers, glorying in the achievements of their child.
Across the street, unseen and unreal, Jack watched Sara and himself, and knew with terrible certainty what would follow.
Beside him, Tigwin blinked in the sudden light and reached for his hand. Jack wrapped him fingers unthinkingly around her own, and when the shot rang out, and her dark eyes widened in shivering terror, he turned her face into his chest, embracing her and shielding her view, but watching over her shoulder.
He felt his heart rend beneath his ribs.
“Your son,” Tigwin whispered, muffled.
“He died,” Jack choked out.
Sara was screaming for Charlie, but there was no sound upstairs, because Jack had shutdown that day, becoming the curt automaton willing to go on a suicide mission, willing to follow a disgraced archaeologist through an alien gate…
Jack closed his eyes, made himself blind and deaf to the horror playing out in his own mind.
This couldn’t continue.
“No,” he said out loud. “No
The scene dissolved, becoming somewhere else…somewhere safe.
Half adorned concrete walls, wooden furniture, all lit by a single bedside lamp; the VIP quarters at the SGC.
Tigwin lay curled in a gently trembling bundle beneath the covers of the bed, her tear-stained face peeking out at him. One pale hand clutched her pillow while the other was still firmly clasped by his own. Jack sat in an armchair beside the bed, keeping careful guard.
“Stay with me,” the girl whispered. “Until I fall asleep?”
“I’m not going anywhere, Tigwin. I’m staying right here.”
He watched her eyes slip closed, her breathing go slow and even. For the first time in centuries, millennia, the Little Queen slept, dreamless and safe.
Jack heaved a sigh, settled back in his chair, and eventually, was carried away by sleep, too…
Faith sat back and scrubbed her hands over her face. Argh… Looking up, she and Malek exchanged tired looks. Kay’rahn was watching them owl-eyed from the cockpit.
“Sonuvabitch,” she muttered.
They were sleeping. Actually
sleeping. O’Neill’s eyes were still beneath his lids. No telltale flickering that would indict REM.
She felt a warm hand gently grasp her chin, tilting her face upward. Malek peered at her solemnly. She watched him blearily, thick-lidded and washed out. Now that she thought about it, she’d been up for at least thirty-six hours. She lost track out here sometimes. It was easy too, with the lack of daylight and definite nighttime.
Faith gave him a lazy smile. “I look like shit, huh?”
He answered with a perplexed half-frown. “You look tired
. Use my bunk. Kay’rahn and I will not need sleep for many hours yet.”
She did, slumping amongst the blankets, pressing her face to the pillow that smelt of him, and was soon sent curling away, into a soft place lit with Tiffany lamps and filled with the muted rustle of books and tarot cards.
They journeyed onward, and for now their world hung about them, quiet.