Anise and the Host
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, notes on the minor AU issues, and relevant backstory points (from the first story in the series) are listed in chapter 1.
Anise glanced at Colonel Carter and Daniel Jackson and Teal’c. They seemed intent on pointing Tau’ri firearms at Xander for some reason. She dropped the white rectangle of fabric that was supposed to be a Tau’ri towel, and she strode into the small ‘bathroom’. It clearly was designed for showers and toilet usage only, so she didn’t see why it was referred to with such an inappropriate name.
Perhaps Xander would tell her later. As long as Colonel Carter and Doctor Jackson didn’t ruin things for her.
Or perhaps she was reading too much into things. She had done it before. Anise had done it before. Freya tended to be far more reticent. About everything. Men, her skills, her place in society, her ability to fulfill most Tok’ra roles… The only thing she was not reticent about was her belief in Anise and in Anise’s talents as a scientist.
As she adjusted the water, she thought it over with Freya. Were they going too fast? They both liked Xander and didn’t want to scare him off.
Freya found him very attractive, in a rugged, manly way. She was from a planet where scars were a sign of a man’s bravery and willingness to fight for his village. Xander seemed like that kind of man. A man like Jack O’Neill. She was still embarrassed about how that had played out. She had been so sure he was the right one for the both of them, but then Anise had come on so strong that the man had been overwhelmed. Even Anise had admitted she had been too forceful. Eventually. But Anise’s strength was one of the things Freya loved about her. Freya had been raised to believe that she had nothing but beauty. Not bravery, nor intelligence, nor skills worthy of note. Even after their long, long blending, she still found it easier to let Anise be in charge. Anise always knew what to do, and how to do it.
Anise also found Xander attractive. Any man with enough intelligence to compare her work against that of Colonel Carter was worth watching. Any man who could translate Ancient and Gou’a’uld, even if he knew them through Tau’ri languages like Latin and Egyptian, was a treasure. It had been quite frustrating that Daniel Jackson had not been interested in her. Freya expected that kind of behavior from people, but it was not at all fair to Freya, who was a most attractive woman.
Freya and Anise usually agreed on things. Freya backed Anise up on her scientific endeavors. Anise had supported Freya for decades in her efforts to make Freya more forthcoming and self-reliant. And they were in agreement on this point too. Xander Harris was the best bed partner they had ever had, by a very large margin.
They just had to work out if Xander felt similarly about them.
Anise never spoke aloud of Freya’s past before they blended, but she knew it had shaped Freya in unfortunate ways, and had contributed to some of Anise’s attitude. Freya had been treated just as every lovely girl of her world. Her family had protected her, and she had not been abused or violated. But she was nothing more than a token to be bartered in her world. She was the prettiest girl in her part of the world, and her family used her accordingly. She was not allowed to have schooling. She was not allowed out of the house unsupervised and unprotected. She was not allowed to do anything that might give her a cut that might scar, or a callus that might detract from her beauty, or a wrinkle that might make her less attractive. She was not allowed to eat or drink anything that might give her an ounce of extra fat, or cause a pimple to mar her complexion. She was to be a trophy wife and nothing more.
There were many worlds where being beautiful was a curse. The Tau’ri simply did not understand this. The American Tau’ri seemed utterly incapable of understanding. Most often, being beautiful was a curse upon the beautiful one. In her case, it had been far more widespread, and far more horrible.
She still remembered before she had blended with Anise. She would never be able to forget. Three different warlords had engaged in a series of running battles as they fought to be the one who gained her hand. The violence attracted a more powerful warlord from the central regions. That attracted the attention of a Gou’a’uld sympathizer. And that drew the attention of Ra Himself.
If Freya had known the truth about the Gou’a’uld back then, she might have tried to kill herself. Being truly beautiful could be the worst curse in the universe, when it meant that you were soon going to be trapped forever in your own body, tortured beyond belief for decades or perhaps centuries, forced to watch as your body then did horrific things to everyone and everything you cared about… Yes, beauty was a curse. It was better by far to be one more plain-looking woman who would have an ordinary life.
The four warlords and their armies were obliterated by Jaffa. The lush, mountainous valley where her family lived was obliterated by a squadron of ha’taks. Her family was obliterated. It was a nightmare. Freya was sure she would go insane from it all.
Anise and her fellow Tok’ra Kelnor had infiltrated the forces of one of Ra’s minions, in order to find out what Ra was doing, and that ultimately saved Freya from being taken as one of Ra’s ‘queens’. From being trapped forever in her body while a Gou’a’uld controlled her and tortured her. Anise’s host Hanri was seriously injured when Anise and Kelnor tried to protect Freya’s family, and Freya made the first brave choice in her entire life. She let Anise blend with her while Kelnor rushed them to safety in a stolen ship.
For some time after their blending, Anise was not used to being in an attractive body. Her previous hosts, Melami and Hanri, were chosen for their minds, not their looks. On the other hand, Freya was not used to having any say in her own life. That led to several disastrous encounters with men. Men who really only wanted her for her beauty. Men who said they cared about her… but only for as long as it took to use her and then abandon her. Men who did not care whether she was satisfied in bed, as long as they got what they wanted.
Anise was humiliated, and dove back into her research. Freya was ashamed, and could only think to give her symbiote the little advice she had. And so they became like Freya’s aunts: ice queens who insisted on being the rulers of the family. It worked. Anise was left alone to continue her researches. They were not harassed by inappropriate men any longer. They were not asked to go on any more espionage missions. They were most productive as scholars and researchers and archaeologists.
And they were very, very lonely.
If they had not had each other, they didn’t know what they might have done in the long run. But they had each other. And sometimes, when they met a man who seemed intelligent enough or interesting enough, they considered having sex again. But there were rules. It could not be one of the Tok’ra. That way was too painful and humiliating. It could not be a man on a world where they would reside for any length of time. And they developed six other rules as well.
Their rules did not appear to be successful, so they had tried a scientific approach, moderating one rule at a time and evaluating the results before considering the moderation of a different rule next time. There was a mathematical model which suggested that this might be an effective strategy for an evolution of the rules into something that would work. But they had yet to get to any sort of rule structure that seemed optimal.
Xander was something of a surprise, even though he met all their rules. He pretended to be harmless, but he carried weapons. He pretended to be ignorant, but he was a remarkable scholar. He pretended to be ordinary, but he was interesting. She recognized pretense. As a Tok’ra, she lived it. As a Tok’ra, she saw others practice it. As Freya, she saw how Anise used it as a wall to protect herself from others. And Xander was funny. He was caring. She could tell he was worried that her little ‘escape’ from Colonel Carter’s project would create problems for her, or for the people around him. Freya could tell that the waitress liked Xander and was jealous of Anise.
But Xander wasn’t put off by Anise’s iciest manner. He acted like he was used to it. And he wasn’t put off by her revelation that she was not of the Tau’ri, which Freya really should not have admitted. But the alcohol content of those drinks was much higher than she had calculated, and there was only so much a symbiote could do before becoming inebriated as well. Her after-the-fact computations suggested that the ‘Long Island iced tea’ must have had significantly more alcohol than the ordinary ‘iced tea’ that she had consumed at the SGC.
Xander clearly hadn’t expected that she would not be put off by his scars. He had some most remarkable ones. If she had to guess, she would say that he had fought something like an Unas in hand-to-hand combat, along with engaging in ritual combat with things that were like several of the more dangerous creatures of Freya’s homeworld. His burns on his chest looked like… well, they were not from a staff blast, and they were not from ordinary fire. All of Freya’s life before their blending, she had been told that a man’s scars were his honor and his courage. Xander had not expected that she would find his scars arousing. Freya wondered what was wrong with Tau’ri females that they could not recognize a worthy warrior when they saw one. Perhaps it was the stupid Tau’ri obsession with ‘beauty’.
And what was wrong with Tau’ri females that they could not recognize what Freya’s cousin had once called… The American translation would be something along the lines of ‘a warlord in the bedroom’. Even with the accelerated healing she got from Anise, she was still tender after a few hours rest. In all the right places.
She thought about her prior lovers, and decided several of them must have been deficient in significant ways. Perhaps even defective. She should perform some sorts of studies with Xander, in order to evaluate the hypothesis. Preferable without Colonel Carter or Daniel Jackson around. Unless that was something that Xander was interested in trying with her. She had read extensively on the subject, and while some of the described activities seemed to exceed the bounds of normal Tau’ri flexibility, she would be willing to experiment.
Preferably, with replication. Lots and lots of replication.