They appeared in the middle of Jim and Blair’s loft.
Jack looked around suspiciously. “Where are we?”
Blair’s face lit up. “Cool, Jim! You took us straight back home.”
“Where else would I go?”
Daniel started examining the tribal artifacts Blair had on display. “This is where you live?”
“Yep.” Blair plopped down on the sofa. “Nice, huh?”
When Daniel had read that Blair and Jim lived together, he couldn’t imagine what their place would look like. From all accounts the two of them where totally different personalities. As he took in his surroundings, he could see both of them in the décor—a weird fusion of multicultural-casual and military efficiency. Somehow it worked.
Jack glanced at his watch. “I need to contact General Hammond and report in.”
Jim went to the refrigerator to get something to parch his desert-dry throat. “Sandburg? Get off the couch before you stink it up. You smell like piss.”
Teal’c raised an eyebrow at that. Samantha and Daniel looked at each other in surprise. They couldn’t smell a thing.
Sandburg popped up off the couch with almost child-like glee. “Alright! You picked up on that! I wasn’t sure if you could.”
“Kind of hard not to. What did you do, bathe in the stuff?”
“Nah. Just poured it all over my clothes. Now what kind of urine is it? Come on. You should be able to guess this one.”
“Sandburg! Shower, now! The rest of you are welcome to have something to drink, but stay off the furniture.” He started opening all the windows. “I wonder if Simon will let me stay with him until this place airs out?” He sniffed again, shaking his head. “Fox urine. Where does he get this stuff?”
Jim had changed his clothes and was on the phone with a loud and angry Simon before Sandburg finally came back in the room. He’d showered and changed. Although Jim could still pick up traces of urine from him, he smelled much better. He would be even happier if he could get these other reeking people out of the loft. “Chief? You want to talk to the Captain?”
All the color drained from Blair’s face. “Uhhh. No thanks. I’ll catch him at the office after he’s had a chance to calm down.” Under his breath he muttered, “Maybe in a few years.” He walked over to balcony where the others were talking. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to hear Simon’s tirades from that far away.
Jim noticed Blair standing very close to the alien, Teal’c, and frowned. “I’ve got to go, Captain.” He hung up and walked over to the others. He nudged Sandburg away from Teal’c, inserting himself between the two.
“Jim! What is with you? That is so rude, man.”
Jim turned to Teal’c. “Look. Nothing personal. But I really don’t want you standing so close to my partner. That larvae you’re carrying in your stomach is making me very nervous. I can hear it moving around in there and I don’t like the thought of it near Sandburg.”
“That is understandable. It’s presence makes many people uncomfortable.”
“Jim? You mean he’s got one of those things inside him, too?”
“Yes, but not in the same way. He’s just incubating a baby one until it’s ready for a host. I know how excited you are about meeting an alien, Chief, but keep a little more distance unless you want to drive me crazy. Just chalk it up to one of those ‘Blessed Protector’ instincts, ok?”
Blair didn’t argue with him for once. He still questioned Teal’c vigorously, but Jim was happy to see he kept a good physical distance between them. Jim knew it was hypocritical of him to make Blair stay away from Teal’c and then stand close to him with Kuk in his own body, but he couldn’t help the overwhelming urge to protect Sandburg from others. He couldn’t do that if he kept his distance, too.
Jim knew there was one more thing he had to do before they left. He grabbed the zatnicatel he’d used back at the palace. The look on O’Neill’s face almost made him laugh. The colonel thought Jim was going to shoot him. Jim quickly pointed the weapon at the mirror and fired. The gate wasn’t powered up at the time and so had no defenses. The mirror shattered silently, the shards sucked back into the empty space. Then the frame turned to dust and fell to the floor. Jim set the zatnicatel down on the table and went to get a broom, dialing his sense of smell down so the dust wouldn’t bother him. He walked past the colonel and Teal’c who were holding their weapons at the ready. “Something like that could’ve fallen into the wrong hands too easily. And there’s no way I was going to let the Tok’ra get their mitts on it.”
Kuk’s voice was thoughtful, quiet. “Yes. On that we agree, Sentinel.”
Daniel looked out over the balcony to see military vehicles approaching the building. “Jack. Our ride’s here.”
Jack never took his eyes off Ellison, giving him a brief nod of understanding and agreement. “Ok, people. Let’s move out.”
As they were leaving, they saw one of their neighbors who lived in the building. She had come out of her apartment to get the morning paper. When she saw them, she quickly withdrew and shut the door before they even had a chance to say hello. Blair looked at Jim and shrugged his shoulders. “We have such strange neighbors, man.”
The old woman handed the paper to her husband who sat down at the table and promptly began to read it. She rushed to the window, pulling back the curtain a little to peek out as the six people left the building. “Abner. Abner!”
“Yes, dear.” He didn’t look up.
“That Mr. Ellison and Mr. Sandburg are up to something.”
“What could they possibly be up to at this time of morning?” He turned the page of his newspaper.
“I don’t know, but something’s not right. They had weapons, Abner!”
“They’re police officers. They’re supposed to carry weapons when they go to work.”
“But I didn’t see anybody go into their place, and now they come out with four other people!”
“They probably came in quietly and have been minding their own business since then—something other people should do.” He sipped his coffee without looking at her.
“But Abner! Those people with them were wearing some kind of military uniforms! I just know something’s up!”
Her husband finally put down his paper to look at her. “For crying out loud, Gladys. Get away from the window and leave the poor people alone.”
Reluctantly, she let go of the curtain, letting it fall back over the window. She sat down at the table and took a sip of her coffee, muttering to herself. “Well at least that Blair Sandburg finally got a decent haircut.”
Jim and Blair waited by the Stargate with SG1 and General Hammond. The Tok’ra were sending two representatives to accompany them to the Tollen homeworld. Blair warned Jim to dial down his hearing and close his eyes. A woman and man came down the ramp. Blair let Jim know it was ok to look again. The woman walked straight up to Jim.
“Rames. After so long, you have returned to us.”
Jim’s face hardened. “The name is Detective James Ellison. And whether or not Kuk goes with you remains to be seen.”
“But surely Rames is there with you? You are joined. You are Tok’ra.”
“He can hear everything you say, but beyond that… Well, let’s just say we’re working on a separate peace.”
“This is highly…unusual.” She looked at the general. “Is all prepared?”
“Yes. The Tollen are expecting you as we speak.”
“Then let us proceed.”
Jim shot daggers at her. “I’m not going anywhere with the Tok’ra until you answer a few of my questions. When I ask you if my shirt is grey, I want you to say ‘no’. When I ask again, I want you to say ‘yes’.”
Anise looked towards General Hammond. “What is this meaning of this?”
Blair could see what Jim had in mind. He wanted to listen to the Tok’ra’s heartbeats. Because they each gave off two and they were aliens, Jim would need to test them to see how they reacted when telling lies as opposed to the truth. Their reactions might not be the same as humans from earth. Way to go Jim. Blair turned to the general. “Sir? I know it sounds strange, but it’s really important they do this. We’ll explain later. If they want Rames, they’ll have to.”
The general managed to persuade Anise and Selmak to humor Jim by answering a few of his strange questions. After several minutes of such questioning, Anise exploded in outrage. “Have we come here to be insulted?”
Jim’s eyes were cold. “I want to know something for Kuk’s benefit and my own. Why did you betray him and his wife to Sebok?”
“What! What are you talking about?”
“He sent the emergency signal to let you know they were on the verge of being caught. The Tok’ra replied, giving them the coordinates where they would be picked up and taken to safety. But when they got there, Sebok was waiting. Sebok even rubbed their noses in the fact that the Tok’ra had been relaying all their messages to him. They were betrayed.”
Jim’s voice was menacingly casual. “Kuk wants me to kill you. Does he have a right to ask?” He listened to their heartbeats.
“We never received a pickup signal! What are you talking about?”
Selmak was thinking back. It had been so long ago. “All communications would have gone through their contact. Their contact was Teneth.”
Anise practically spat his name. “Teneth! Over a hundred Tok’ra died because of him! He was another of our deep-cover agents, but he decided it would be to his advantage to switch sides. He gave away our base locations to Sebok. We managed to relocate most of them before he attacked, but he succeeded in wiping out two of our bases. It is no wonder we received no word from you or Naufri. He betrayed you and then betrayed us all. We did not know or we would have been there.”
Selmak bowed his head. “Forgive us, Rames. You have been greatly wronged. Come back with us and we will do everything in our power to heal the scars that still plague you.”
Jim waited. Kuk was strangely silent. “They’re telling the truth, Kuk. They didn’t know. And they do want you back.”
In a tired voice he finally spoke. “I need…perhaps it is time to go home.” Kuk lapsed into silence once more.