Tears of the Soul
Title: Tears of the Soul
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things SG1 belong to MGM, Gekko, et al.
Distribution: The normal places, though I don’t think any of you guys archive this kind of fic.
Notes: In answer to Challenge #224 at Heliopolis.
Summary: Daniel is faced with a difficult challenge – and an even difficult time living with it.
Daniel looked up, shaking his head in despaired frustration both with himself and the situation. He’d thought he’d heard something, out there. Like a branch snapping or leaves crunching. Maybe it was a member of SG1 –
He sighed, turning his eyes back to the ground at his feet. There was nothing out there. Just his overactive imagination playing tricks on him. Or maybe it was fatigue. That wasn’t out of the question, he knew. The day had been long, and it was only early afternoon. Yet still he felt like he’d run a marathon. The harsh reality of adrenaline wearing off, he had come to learn, was exhaustion, and exhaustion, in turn, could play tricks on your mind.
The day had started off as any other mission. It was day three of a week long excursion to PX3-567, a joint operation of exploration and meeting with some familiar faces of the Tok’ra for a little information sharing. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Sam, he remembered with a faint smile, had been more thrilled at the thought of spending time with Martouf than getting to see her father again.
A little too happy about seeing him for Jack’s taste, anyway. So far the good Colonel had been doing his best to avoid even talking to his Second, which had made things a little rough going.
So he’d been happy to get away from it all today, on his own for a little trek to a temple-like building they had cleared the day before. Safe and sound, as far as they could tell. Not even enough in the way of structure to hide anything dangerous to him. So it was going to be just him, and a bunch of ‘rocks’, as Jack would say. No oppressive air of non-talking for him. Not today, at any rate. What tomorrow brought was another story entirely. And one he hadn’t felt up to contemplating when he first set out that morning, and especially not now when everything had fallen apart.
He’d been happily translating his second wall panel of the day when he’d heard it.
Shots. Staff blasts. The sound of an attack, for sure. Without even thinking twice he’d left the relative safety of the building, crashing through the underbrush of the jungle planet towards where they’d made camp, and where the sounds of the attack where coming from. He couldn’t remember when he’d pulled his zat, but it was definitely in his hand when he went sprawling face first into the rich earth of the jungle floor, foot caught up in –
Daniel cast his eyes back towards where the injured Tok’ra still lay, shutting his eyes. The sounds of fighting had stopped nearly an hour before, and with it the sound of what could only have been a mothership leaving close range. He could only blame the thick overhead foliage for the fact that he hadn’t noticed it before then.
No one was answering their radios, and a quick jog back to the base camp had shown that it was completely devastated.
The young archaeologist blinked to clear his eyes, giving Martouf his attention. He tried to ignore the blood that covered much of the Tok’ra’s clothing. More than just splatters, the entire front was covered in drying blood. He didn’t even want to think about the blood that was still coming out of wounds that showed through the tattered remains of the shirt. That, he could only imagine, was dripping down to the earth below, pooling beneath him.
“We don’t have much time left.”
Daniel sighed. This was something he already knew. His friends were either dead or captured, and they were a good ten miles from the Stargate. Martouf didn’t have that long left in him. Lantesh couldn’t repair the wounds his host had taken during the skirmish. Even if they could get him to the Stargate, and then SGC, Daniel had doubts that the Tok’ra would be able to survive. And that was a big ‘if’. There was no way Martouf was up to a ten mile hike, and Daniel couldn’t carry him that far. It was a miracle that Martouf had even managed to crawl so far away from the fighting, unnoticed, once he’d been injured. Otherwise he’d be in the same position as everyone else, of that Daniel was sure.
“What can I do to aid in your decision?”
“Nothing,” Daniel snapped before he realized what he was about to do. He flushed, embarrassed. They were laying there, dying, and he couldn’t even amass enough graciousness to be courteous? It wasn’t as if what Lantesh was asking of him was that bad.
Alright, it was. Really. It was his worst nightmare come true.
Martouf was as good as dead; and the Tok’ra had said about as much. He was clinging to life by a thread, in pain. The only keeping him going right now was the delicate balance his symbiote held him in.
And even that couldn’t last forever.
So the question had been put to him. Would he take Lantesh as his own? Oh, it wasn’t said in those words, and it was phrased far less tactfully, but the intent had been the same. Without him Lantesh would die for sure. His own survival was in doubt, as well, this far from the Stargate, with few supplies and only a zat to protect him. The Jaffa could very well still be on the planet, closer to the gate. With him, they both stood a better chance at survival.
But it was, to be honest, his worst nightmare. When Sha’re had first been taken as a host he would have given anything to find himself in the same position. To just not remember the pain of her loss. But that had changed almost immediately, even as the words left his mouth to the Goa’uld that was looking him over as a potential ‘child’. He knew in his heart that he could never want that for himself.
The Tok’ra were different, a part of him was consistently whispering. It was a symbiosis. Not a takeover. He’d still be Daniel Jackson. Just. . .Daniel Jackson with a symbiote. A member of the Tok’ra.
“I have responsibilities to my people, Lantesh,” he was thinking aloud, not really expecting an answer. “I can’t just up and leave them. Wouldn’t the Tok’ra require that of me? Wouldn’t you want that?”
“We can . . .come to an arrangement.”
Daniel sighed. How hard could it be? Just do it, and live with the consequences of the action afterwards. Get home. Find a way to rescue Jack and the others, provided they were still alive and hadn’t rescued themselves already. And then –
Deal with it.
“You could go to another host later?”
“In time,” Lantesh conceded quietly, much fainter “Once our blending has settled and we find another host.”
Which wasn’t necessarily a quick process, from what he understood.
Just deal with it in the meantime, he reminded himself. Don’t let Lantesh and all that knowledge he had accumulated over the years, knowledge that could save lives one day, die.
Easier said than done.
“My brain’s no picnic, Lantesh,” Daniel found himself going to his knees next to Martouf. The Tok’ra looked even worse than he had moments before. His skin was beginning to take on a gray hue that Daniel knew, even without prior medical experience, wasn’t a good sign.
“Nor is mine,” the symbiote admitted through Martouf’s mouth.
Daniel swallowed. How could he even be considering this? After everything that had happened, as firmly as he had protested ever even thinking of taking a symbiote. If it were to save his own life, he’d rather die.
But it wasn’t just to save his life. It was to save someone else’s life. Lantesh’s. For all that the Tok’ra had sometimes been less than up front with them, Martouf and his symbiote had never steered them wrong.
He didn’t even realize he’d decided until the words were out of his mouth and hanging there. He could almost imagine them sitting there, heavily, in the space between them.
“One more thing,” Martouf was back in control now, looking up through sightless eyes to the canopy of trees above. “Tell Samantha my last thoughts were of her.”
Daniel nodded, shutting his eyes. Pain, both physical and emotional, was clear on Martouf’s face. He was dying. This was it. Within moments of Lantesh leaving him, the sandy-haired Tok’ra would draw his last breath. And. . .if Daniel didn’t take Lantesh, both host and symbiote would die.
At least this way one of them would live, he told himself firmly; as if trying to squelch the revulsion that was churning in his stomach.
“Lie close,” Lantesh murmured, turning the broken body of his host so that he was more on his side.
Daniel found his eyes once again shutting as he laid down next to Lantesh. This wasn’t permanent, he told himself. In a few months, maybe a little more, he could have this all fixed.
“Closer – and open your mouth.”
He fought the urge to clamp his teeth shut and just say ‘forget about it’. This was the right thing to do, even if it tore at him like nothing else ever had. He inched closer, until he could feel the slow, unsteady breaths coming from Martouf’s dying body.
And then he opened his mouth, aware that his entire world was about to change, and not for the better.