Sorry for the wait... I think I might be a week behind at this point... I'll make up for it in two weeks with a double-chapter week (the two chapters are very closely related so it makes sense to do it that way). Thanks to everyone who read the last chapter and again to all of you who reviewed. I'm actually amazed (and very happy) at how many people are reading this story. Seriously didn't expect that. =D
Betaed by theGlaistig
Disclaimer: I own neither Merlin
nor anything at the SGC.
Merlin had thus far managed to avoid meeting any of the Tok'ra who'd come to the SGC. It wasn't actually all that difficult, really. Though memorable, he wasn't exactly an important member of the base and his expertise didn't lie in anything the Tok'ra would have any interest in.
And he'd lost the patience for diplomacy centuries ago.
As a result he wasn't particularly happy when he felt the dual presence of a human and symbiont approaching the part of the mountain where he was burning General O'Neill's latest slap-dap-happy creation (exactly how the man had managed to get his hands on fake fur of that shade of blue without magic was a mystery Merlin never wanted to solve). And so it came as no surprise when Jacob Carter walked out into the clearing. He was wearing a rather perplexed look on his face as he took in the scene.
“I was a bit concerned when the airmen were doing nothing about the very obvious smell of burning,” the former general broke the silence with. “But apparently you do this often...”
“So long as General O'Neill continues to give me these ridiculous hats, I will continue to burn them,” he said.
“I see.” A pause. “I don't believe we've met. I'm Jacob Carter-”
“-and Selmak, yes I know. There aren't many at the SGC that don't.” Merlin used the end of his staff to nudge the burning brim a little further into the fire. “Doctor Merlin Hunithson.”
Jacob chuckled. Suddenly, a lot about the situation made sense. He had, in fact, heard of the eccentric archeologist, although not of this hat-burning habit.
“You're a bit of a legend yourself, Doctor Hunithson.”
Merlin's eyes snapped up to him with a speculative glint, which quickly turned to amusement.
“Yes, I suppose I am.”
Jacob joined Merlin by the fire, his mind relaxing at the calm present in this small corner of the base. The only noise was the crackle of flames and Jacob lost himself as he stared into their depths.
From just beyond the trees, they heard the sound of a vehicle passing by. Merlin idly used his staff to poke at the hat, to make sure its top didn't fall out of the small circular fire pit he'd built for his hat-burnings.
“You know,” Jacob said thoughtfully. “That looks like it was an extraordinarily ugly hat.”
When Jacob walked into Jack's office he was feeling much calmer than before. Going up to the surface had been Selmak's idea and he was glad he'd taken the advice. Yes, the universe was still erupting into uncontrollable chaos and everyone was still in terrible danger from the replicators, but at least he was feeling much less panicked about it.
Although, he was rather confused about Doctor Hunithson's parting words.
“Don't worry too much, young man,” he'd said with a smile. “You'll come up with something brilliant to save us all. Or perhaps your daughter will. Either way, the truly dark days aren't due to come just yet.”
Jacob hadn't quite known what to say to that, so he'd stayed silent.
Jack was just hanging up the phone when Jacob walked in.
“The Pentagon is clearly not giving you enough work to do if you have the time to make ugly hats in your spare time,” Jacob told him.
Jack blinked and the burst out laughing.
“I take it you met our resident wizard?”
“Wizard?” It took a slight nudge from Selmak for understanding to dawn. “Ah, of course. Long, white beard, walking stick, name Merlin: got it.”
“So, what did you think of him?”
Jacob was about to answer, when he noticed the seriousness hiding underneath Jack's good humour.
“Well, Jack, I thought he was a bit eccentric and possibly a bit insane in ways that don't seem to have anything to do with working in this place...” Jacob shrugged. “Admittedly we didn't exactly engage in stimulating conversation. Mostly I just watched him burn that hat you gave him.”
“Jack? What's this about?”
Jack paused, as though considering whether or not he should answer the question. Finally, he gestured for Jacob to close the door and then sit down.
“The NID's been investigating him,” he began. Jacob's eyes widened. “They've found nothing to connect him with anything suspicious, or anyone with any sort of interest in the SGC, but there's just something not quite right.”
“What do you mean?” Jacob asked with a frown. Despite having spent less than an hour with the man, he felt like he'd bonded with him over those flames and the stench of burning fake fur. “Has he done something suspicious?”
“Him personally, no, but his so-called nephew – who, incidentally, didn't show up in any of the background checks we did on Hunithson the first time 'round – is extremely suspicious.”
“You think he's Trust?”
“Not sure. His name is Percival Knight and he's supposedly the son of Elyan and Vivianne Knight, who died in a car crash about 10 years ago.” Jack paused for effect. “It's a lie and not a very well-constructed one either.”
“Aaah, now see he's the more interesting one. His background is solid, everything accounted for, nothing unusual. Until you go back about 50 years and then everything gets a bit hazy. It looks a bit like Merlin Hunithson didn't exist until about 50 years ago when he got accepted into Oxford University.”
Jacob sat back with a sigh.
Jack suddenly propelled himself to his feet.
“Well, there's no point in worrying about one craggy old professor now! We've got a whole big universe to save. Again.” He clapped Jacob on the shoulder. “Let's go see what Carter's cooked up in your absence, shall we?”
Hehe, the plot thickens... Thanks for reading, guys!