The Triad had gone off without a hitch. Since there were no opposing parties, they only had to state their objectives and that was that. The Tok’ra took Kuk with them. Jim and Blair went back to earth with SG1. Dr. Frasier, of course, wanted to examine Jim right away. She could find no physical explanation as to how Jim was able to keep control of his body against Kuk. Nor could she even find anything to explain his extraordinary abilities to begin with. Maybe with more extensive tests she'd be able to find something, but even Blair was sick of tests by that point. Besides, General Hammond wanted to see them for a debriefing. The sooner they got everything settled, the sooner they could go home--if they'd be allowed to, that is.
After they’d brought the general up to speed, Jim glanced nervously at Blair. They were both thinking the same thing—what now? Sandburg looked like he was about to have a panic attack or something. “It’s ok, Chief. Whatever happens.”
The exchange did not go unnoticed by Jack and the general. Hammond spoke up. “We have guest quarters ready for you both until you’re rested and ready to return home.”
Blair glanced at him in surprise. “Home?”
Jack lifted his eyebrow jokingly. “As much as we enjoy you’re company, I’m sure you’ll be more comfortable living at home. We really don’t have the resources to accommodate you in the style to which you’ve become accustomed.”
Jim smiled slightly. “You’re right. It’s no desert palace, that’s for sure.” Then he turned serious. “We’re free to leave? Just like that?”
“We have no reason to keep you, Ellison. There are enough recruits who actually want to be here that we don’t need the hassle of kidnapping them.”
General Hammond nodded. “Your secret never left SG1 and it never will.”
Blair let out a long-held breath. “Oh, man! What a relief!”
“If we ever do need your…particular talents, however, I hope you would be willing to help us.”
“If, in the outside chance that you desperately needed my help, I would come.”
Blair jumped in. “WE would come.”
Jim glanced at Blair appreciatively. “We would come.”
Jack was taking them back to their quarters when Carter and Daniel showed up. Carter wanted to talk to Jim. Jack had an idea why.
“Chief? Can you stay out of trouble for a while?”
Daniel spoke up. “I can show him around, if that’s ok with Blair.”
“That would be cool. I think Daniel can keep me in line. See you later, Jim.”
Daniel and Blair headed off to get something to eat. Then they toured the non-restricted areas of the facility. The two of them found they didn’t have a problem with conversation topics. They grilled each other about everything they’d been doing over the years. Daniel suddenly turned serious. “Do you miss it, Blair? Academia?”
“Sometimes. But I still do research and work on projects. I keep up with the field.”
“But what about the rest of it? The way people outside of the loop treat you?”
“I don’t think most people even remember the press conference anymore. The ones who matter remember, but don’t care. Sometimes when I drive by Rainier I get a little nostalgic, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It was hard at first until I realized that what I was holding onto was more important than anything I was letting go.”
Daniel sighed. Someone who understood. Someone who knew what it was like to throw away a huge part of your life, but get something even better to replace it. Even if the outside world never knew what SGC did to protect it, Daniel would know how important his work was. His friends in SG1 would know. That was all that mattered.
Samantha noticed that Ellison had a strange smile on his face. “Detective Ellison. What is it?”
“Hmm? Call me Jim. Do you have a first name or are you just Major Carter?”
“My friends call me Sam. What were you smiling about?”
“Nothing really. You’re base just isn’t as soundproof as you think it is.”
She didn’t know what to make of that. Sam moved on to what she really wanted to talk to him about. “Besides Skaara, I might be the only person who can understand what you’ve been through. I was implanted without my consent, as well. Jol’inar of Malkshur—a Tok’ra.”
“The Tok’ra seem to act like Goa’uld when they feel like it, don’t they?”
“Jol’inar was desperate. An assassin was after her and her host was dying. She didn’t have time. I know that’s no excuse, but it is an explanation. My friends locked me up because they couldn’t believe that the alien inside me hadn’t completely taken me over. Colonel O’Neill has a hard time dealing with the Tok’ra because the whole idea of implantation reminds him of Kowalski. I didn’t know him very well, but he and the colonel were good friends. To have Kowalski try to kill him…”
“That explains why he was so set on keeping Sandburg away from me.”
“It took Jol’inar’s sacrificing herself to save me to convince the colonel that a group did exist that only chose symbiotic relationships. He still feels a little uncomfortable around them, though. But Jol’inar left so many things in my head. Sometimes I’ll remember or dream about something from her life. I know it’s hers, but it seems like a part of me, too.”
“So I should be prepared for flashbacks? Great. Kuk was a nutcase. So am I going to have psychotic episodes?”
“No. It’s not like that. There’s a Tok’ra device that actually allows you to experience the memories, but this is more like remembering parts of a movie you saw. You recall the story, but know it’s not your own. I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m making as much sense as I thought I would. I can explain quantum mechanics and astrophysics, but this is difficult.”
“Because it’s personal. Believe it or not, you are making sense to me. I sometimes get a flash of memory. I can see it clearly as if I were there when it happened. But I know I wasn’t. Then I concentrate on something else and it fades away.”
“Yes, that’s it. They’re inconvenient, but they won’t control you or make you lose control of who you are. And the good news is that they become less intense, less clear, as time goes by. I still have them on occasion, but never like in the beginning. Perhaps someday they’ll disappear all together.”
“Hey, we can dream, can’t we?” Jim gave her an incredible smile. Sam returned it with equal brilliance. The two of them talked about their experiences for a while before the topic drifted to other things. Soon they were chatting like old friends.
Samantha realized it was getting late and she had to get back to work. She escorted Jim to his quarters. She wrote on a piece of paper and gave it to him. “If you ever need to talk about Kuk, give me a call.”
Jim was feeling reckless. “And what if I want to talk about something else—dinner, dancing.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. After a moment she gave him a kind of “we’ll see” expression. “It’s a multi-purpose number.” Then she walked off.
Jim was still standing there watching her go when he heard Daniel and Sandburg coming. Daniel left the two of the alone.
Blair had a puzzled expression on his face. “For what?”
“For being the kind of guy who has to ask why he’s being thanked.” Jim shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Sandburg waited silently for him to continue. “I don’t know how I’m going to handle all this stuff in my head. I might…I might need to talk about it sometimes.”
“Hey, man. I don’t talk all the time—I’m a good listener, too. Whatever you need. You know you don’t even have to ask.”
“I know. I just like to hear you say it.”
Jim lightly cuffed Sandburg on the back of the head as the two of them went into their quarters.
The two of them stayed at SGC for a couple of days. They needed the time to just sort through everything around people who knew and understood. True to his word, General Hammond had transportation to Cascade ready for them when they wanted to go. They were fairly quiet on the trip home, still trying to absorb everything that had happened. When their ride dropped them off at their building, Blair seemed to perk up. Jim took Sam’s number out of his pocket, wondering if she’d like to get together sometime and not talk about aliens.
“Whatcha got there, Jim?” Blair peered over his arm. “A phone number? In all this craziness, you managed to get a lady’s phone number? And it’s the major’s, too. I’m impressed. There may be hope for you after all.”
“At least I’m not losing my touch, Chief. When was the last time you had a date? And hanging out with Megan from work doesn’t count.”
Blair had a cat-who-ate-the-canary look on his face. “Oh, I don’t know, Jim. You’re not the only one who can turn disaster into triumph.” He held up a small piece of paper. “Doctor Janet Frasier’s a very charming, interesting, intelligent woman, don’t you think?”
“So she’s not your usual type?”
“Hey! What are you trying to say?”
“That you usually date young, perky, college girls who don’t always have a clue.”
“That is so mean, Jim. What about Gina and Terry? They were funny and smart. Then there was Kiki. She was a chemistry major. Don’t forget Roxy and…”
“Ok, ok. I give up. If I don’t, I’m going to have to listen to a long list of your past conquests. I’m really not that interested in your love life, Sandburg.”
“So you admit I’ve dated a lot of women. A few minutes ago you said I was a loser with the ladies. Come on, which is it?”
The two of them walked up the stairs to the loft. “Having dated a string of women isn’t necessarily something to brag about. It makes you seem commitment-shy.”
Blair was still glaring at him.
“Ok. You want me to say it? Fine.” He raised his voice, gesturing mockingly. “Blair Sandburg is the king of sex. His hippie charm is irresistible. I bow down in worship before the master.”
Just then they noticed their neighbor going into her apartment with some groceries. She seemed to be nervously fumbling with her keys.
Jim stepped towards her. “Do you need a hand, Mrs. Kravitz?”
The woman’s eyes bugged out of her head. She suddenly got the door open with amazing speed, scurried inside, and slammed the door in Jim’s face.
Inside the safety of her apartment, she gaped through the peephole. “Abner! Abner!”
Her husband turned up the volume on the TV so he couldn’t hear her.
Jim looked at Blair with a puzzled expression. “You were right, Chief. We do have some strange neighbors.”
1) I know it sounds crazy, but I really think there is something called odorless bottled fox urine. I believe I saw it at the store. I am positive, however, that K-Mart sells odorless bottled deer urine. It’s used by hunters to cover their own scents. It isn’t truly odorless—it’s just that humans can’t detect it. They also make one that smells like deer in heat. Doesn’t that sound like a fun job? “What do I do for a living? Why, I make animal urine.” (I don’t mean this as an insult to the people who actually do this, it’s just so weird and funny)
2) In the many Sentinel fanfiction stories I’ve read, I’ve seen a lot of things happen in the loft—demon attacks, sword fights, shoot-outs, stabbings, bombings, break-ins, etc. Few authors have shown what the neighbors think of Jim and Blair and the goings on at their place. I was reminded of Samantha and Darren’s neighbor, Gladys Kravitz, on the old TV show, Bewitched. She just knew Samantha was a witch and was always watching their house, face practically glued to the window. Her long-suffering husband Abner had to put up with her constant ravings about what was going on next door. I thought it would be funny if the guys had them for neighbors. As a disclaimer, I should say that I’m making no money off these characters. I have no idea who created Abner and Gladys, but they are classics.
3) The idea of possible romance between Jim and Sam, and Blair and Janet, was not mine. I read it in a crossover fanfic at the Cascade Library. I just don’t remember whose it was.