Az'heni by Aurora Novarum
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Category: General
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Challenge, Character Study, Drama, Friendship, Team
Rated: All Ages
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: After SG-1's stressful first encounter with offworld natives, more of the unexpected happens, and Sam must wrestle with some of her recent past. Set pre-Seth Season 3

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Author's Chapter Notes:
Written for the all gen Sam Carter Ficathon on livejournal, the prompter asked for Jacob & Selmak, Sam's teammates, and a white fluffy scarf, with no depressing ending or flashbacks to Sam's childhood.
Sam made certain all her equipment was stored before bundling into the cold weather gear and adjusting the straps on her pack. Although stifling in the outfit, Sam knew just after walking through the Stargate, she would be very grateful for the added warmth.

She accepted her guns from the weapons master and joined her teammates in the Gate room. Even before she entered, she knew her commanding officer was not happy.

"Remind me again why we're going to this planet, Daniel. Why?"

Daniel still seemed half-asleep. The time of day on P4R-493 was optimum now...even if it was 0400 at the SGC. Still, he was game to rise to the colonel's bait. "Because it's there?" Oh yes, Daniel was not awake enough to gauge Jack O'Neill's mood was not up to snark.

Luckily, Teal'c had better self-preservation, even if he did have to bring her name into it. "Major Carter stated a large quantity of trinium may be present on this planet."

"Okay, but can anyone explain to me why we're going now, at this time in the morning and when it's eighteen below rather than say, summer?"

Sam spoke up from behind the colonel. "Actually, sir, according to readings indicating the planet's orbital path and angle, it is summer there. It's as warm as it's going to get."

"He's just mad he's missing a 'very special' episode of the Simpsons tonight." Daniel yawned while he spoke. Perhaps he had gauged the Colonel's mood after all.

Colonel O'Neill glared with mock affront. "At least Siler's taping it for me." He adjusted his sunglasses and looked at the dialing Stargate. "Well, let's hope the M.A.L.P. is right for a change, and there's enough trinium to impress the Pentagon brass."

While he spoke, the event horizon formed with its usual explosive force. The F.R.E.D. rumbled up the ramp behind the M.A.L.P. After pausing at the event horizon, General Hammond's voice came through the Gate room speakers. "SG-1, you have a go."

O'Neill gave a salute to General Hammond, then turned to Sam with a mischievous expression, all crankiness apparently gone with the mission underway. "Lead on, MacDuff." He made an elaborate gesture, and she followed the F.R.E.D. up through the Stargate, Daniel, Teal'c and the colonel behind.

The cold air assaulted Sam soon after she cleared the event horizon; apparently the active wormhole had acted as a bit of a buffer from the gusts. Daniel yelled out against the wind. "If this is summer...", the rest of his words were lost in the air, but Sam got the gist.

She dialed a few keys on the F.R.E.D.'s remote and pointed. "The strongest readings were five klicks this way, sir!" she shouted, but doubted anyone could hear.

She started moving south-east, her teammates following behind. They tried to use the lumbering F.R.E.D. for as much of a wind break as was possible.

Once they moved onto higher ground, the temperature rose, and the wind died down. The valley where the Stargate was located must have formed some sort of wind tunnel. They began to make good time towards where the readings lay. That was when Sam realized that once again, their pre-mission intel was not accurate. The uninhabited planet was inhabited after all. A young voice could be heard in the distance. The words were unclear, but the sentiment was easily decipherable. It was a tone of alarm and distress. With no more than a glance at her teammates, all of them moved by unspoken agreement towards the sound.

"Nama! Nama!" A boy struggled to climb over a small embankment, screaming hysterically. Teal'c reached the boy first and picked him up by the back of the shirt, depositing him safely on solid ground. The boy started spouting off gibberish, and they all turned instinctively to Daniel who looked as bewildered as they.

"I-I don't know. The dialect..."

Suddenly the boy seemed to realize his rescuers were strangers. He let out a loud cry and started to move away from them.


Sam's attention shifted from the boy to Daniel. He was looking over the embankment. In the next instant, the boy took off at a run, but Sam barely noticed his departure. Her eyes arrested to where Daniel was pointing at a small speck in the middle of a frozen lake bed. A child had fallen through the ice.

Daniel was already scrambling over the embankment. Teal'c had started after the boy, but turned again at Daniel's movement.

"She's going to drown!" Daniel shouted back to the team, not stopping.

"Daniel, hold up!" Colonel O'Neill shouted back. He too started moving over the embankment. "Teal'c, get the rope. Carter be ready."

"Sir, if the ice is weak, I'm lighter."

O'Neill's steely gaze locked on hers. "I don't think any of us are lighter than that kid out there. You're the closest we have to a medic, and I need you here."

Sam knew an order when she heard it, so she bit back further protest and gave a crisp nod. It didn't stop her from fidgeting as her teammates carefully moved on their stomachs across the ice, forming a human chain.

"Jack, she's going under!" Daniel cried out the warning an instant before he lunged forward.

"Daniel!" O'Neill regained his floundering hold after Daniel's sudden movements and immediately began to pull him back.

"Got her!" Daniel's cry caused Sam to release the breath she didn't know she was holding.

"Haul us back, Teal'c." O'Neill ordered. Sam pulled on the rope Teal'c had anchored to the tree in an attempt to more quickly bring her teammates and their young charge back to shore. As her teammates drew closer, Sam's attention was immediately drawn to the child he had plucked from the water.

"Sh-sh-she's not breathing," Daniel shivered out. Sam grabbed the girl, taking basic vitals before starting mouth to mouth resuscitation.

As she paused to again take the girl's pulse and check for breath sounds, she was struck by the youngster's similarity to Cassie--not enough that the two girls would ever be mistaken for sisters, but something about the eyebrows and nose Sam was now pinching closed reminded her of Janet Fraiser's adoptive daughter. The girl was younger, probably around six years old, but Sam immediately thought of Cassandra.

She was vaguely aware of her teammates' movements and presence, but even that awareness receded as her whole environment was focused on the girl.

Count off compressions, breathe breathe breathe. Pulse check.
Count off compressions, breathe breathe breathe. Over and over again.

Mid-exhale, Sam felt movement beneath her. Quickly she turned the girl on her side as the youth started coughing up water. Sam rubbed her back with one hand and checked her pulse with the other. The girl started looking around in bewilderment. Sam hastened to reassure her.

"It's okay. You're going to be okay." Sam hoped her tone of voice could convey the comfort that their language barrier prevented.

Pleased with the improvement in the girl's vital signs, Sam turned with a smile to her teammates. The sight that met her eyes caused her smile to falter, and she reached back towards the weapon she had shifted aside in her resuscitation efforts.

A group of people, dressed in furs and animal hides, had surrounded them. Sharp blades were held uncomfortably close to the throats of her friends, who were remaining very still. Only the unstable ice of the frozen lake bed behind her and Teal'c's physical presence as a shield in front of her had presumably stopped her from meeting the same fate. Instinctively, she pulled the child closer to her, trying to offer what protection she could. However, her brain was telling her that these natives were likely the girl's people. She glanced around at their faces, trying to judge their intent. Sam could only read shock and fear in their expressions.

The colonel was looking calm, staring at her with a steely expression that gave away nothing to his captors but reassured her. Beside him, Daniel swallowed and tried to speak what Sam recognized as his cycle of "guess a common language." Their only reaction was to point their blades closer to his skin. Daniel licked his lips and fell silent with a look of apology to the rest of the team for his failure. Sam gave him a sympathetic smile.

The lopsided stand-off came to a close as the boy they had first encountered came running back, still shouting. "Nama!"

He led a group of more natives, dressed similarly to the first. But while those holding Sam's team hostage appeared to be teens, this new group had a wider range in age. Sam could see no adult males in the group except for elderly, but women were present of all ages. They were moving as fast as they could towards the group. The boy who was leading them kept running forward and back as if urging them to hurry.

When he noticed their group, he raced forward, babbling incoherently. He seemed to stop short at seeing SG-1 held hostage by the others and said something from its tone seemed to be a bewildered question. A sharp rebuke from the man holding a blade at Teal'c was the only response. The boy pointed at the pond, ignoring the rebuke, then his eyes fell on Sam and the girl for the first time. Heedless of the tense situation, the boy stumbled to the younger girl and embraced her where she still lay in Sam's lap. Both started crying.

An older woman approached the group, apparently the leader. The teenagers appeared to straighten more to attention in her presence. The one who had rebuked the youth started speaking again, and the boy interrupted. The only word Sam caught was the "Nama" phrase he had kept repeating. She glanced over to Daniel, whose face was scrunched in concentration.

The older woman spoke a few words, and both the boy and the teen responded. Daniel spoke up with a few hesitant words. The woman appeared surprised at his interruption, but waved for the teens to hold their weapons back. She asked Daniel a question, to which he shrugged and appeared to repeat the same phrase. The boy started chattering rapidly, and the girl in Sam's lap started to speak but coughed, her throat likely raw. Sam shook her head, and tried to mime she should not speak.

The older woman spoke an exchange again to the teens, and they completely lowered their blades. The one near the colonel started chattering. She looked down at Sam and the girl in wonder. Delicately, she touched the girl's face, then turned to Sam. "Az'heni," she muttered.

Sam blinked in incomprehension. She shook her head and looked to Daniel. He shrugged and seemed to ask a question to the woman. The older woman turned and smiled, pantomiming gestures and speaking slowly.

Daniel turned to his teammates. "I'm still not too confident on the dialect, but it seems like it was just a big misunderstanding. They thought we were attacking the girl, but the boy explained that we must have rescued her. And I think one of them told everyone about Sam's CPR efforts. They don't know of such things. It's pretty much a miracle to them."

"Well, I'm liking the part where they don't have weapons pointed at us anymore," the colonel said.

Daniel nodded, trying to speak to the woman again. After an exchange of words, he explained. "We're invited back to the village for a feast in our honor, or at least Sam's. Nama herself wishes us to take refuge in her home."

Sam watched the girl embraced by the older woman, now known as Nama. Everyone was smiling, even trying to be overly helpful in getting Sam to her feet. They went from being treated like criminals to being treated like royalty in the blink of an eye.

Colonel O'Neill started gathering his gear, still keeping a wary eye on the villagers. "Making nice with the natives may be a good idea. If the intelligence on it being uninhabited was wrong, who knows what other surprises we may find. Let's go get some grub."

Not only did the natives treat them to dried meat from a caribou-like animal, a few of the teens offered to lead them to where the mineral Sam described could be found in abundance. After their experiences with Tonane, none of SG-1 was taking any chances at pissing off the natives, even though it appeared there were no spirit guardians watching their daily life.

Nama, it turned out, was the most respected village elder, and was grandmother to Ailee, the girl they had rescued, and Bootach her brother. According to Daniel, the tribe was nomadic, and the village had just settled, which accounted for their presence not being noted by the limited range of the life signs detectors.

The village was surprisingly sturdy for a nomadic tribe. Built to withstand the colder weather, some of the homes took advantage of the slate-like rocks. Nama's home was a more permanent structure, but blended so well into the landscape, it appeared as another rock formation. The men of the village were out on a several days' hunt, but should join the rest of the tribe soon.

Ailee was scuttled off to bed with a hot broth whereas the team was treated to the hot meal and then escorted to the hills. As much as Sam enjoyed the meal, she was anxious to check out if at least the trinium readings were correct from the initial recon. The teens that had acted as captors now escorted SG-1 almost reverently to the hills.

When they reached the cave, everyone did an initial exploration, and when it was determined to be safe, Colonel O'Neill waved to Sam's pack. "Well, looks like it's time to do your magic, Major."

"Magic, sir?"

"Sure, you know, take readings, get samples, play with doohickeys. You know, your magic." He grinned and raised his eyebrows.

Sam nodded and tried to hide her smile. "Yes, sir."

Sam was pleased with the results of her testing. The trinium deposit was a rich vein. Certainly one that would more than fit the needs of Stargate Command. When they returned to the village, they found the children engaged in a snowball fight outside the village.

They squealed in delight, calling out "Az'heni" and each of their names. Colonel O'Neill approached Bootach and some of his friends and started hefting a snowball, then taking his fingerless gloves, started working the snowball and showing certain grips to the children.

Daniel moved up next to her. "Jack's apparently teaching baseball pitching techniques."

"I see that." Sam laughed.

O'Neill looked up at her. "Find something amusing, Carter?"

"Oh no, sir." Sam did not hide her smile as she responded.

"Just teaching them the most efficient use of their arsenal." O'Neill said defensively.

"Of course, Jack," Daniel smiled patronizingly.

Bootach threw a tentative first ball which hit its target. Sam noted some of the other children started to realize their opponents were gaining an advantage and began to lob snowballs back at O'Neill's band of youths.

"Return fire!" Jack laughed, and fully entered the fray with the children.

"Jack has a universal language with kids it seems." Daniel shared a smile with Sam.

Sam started to move past, out of the way of the warring factions, when she was startled by a snowball slammed her in the back. She turned around slowly. The children all looked horrified, and the colonel shook his head arms wide and open. "Not my fault, Major."

Sam glared at him suspiciously, but noticed the children's wide eyes were all looking the other direction. She spun around. The other children looked equally shocked, but then she looked at Teal'c. He gazed back at her in his impassive manner, hands clasped behind his back, but Sam almost detected a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Before she could respond further, one of the children pointed and started shouting. A group of men could be seen approaching the village. Some of the children ran to greet them, shouting and pointing to the team. Nama and the other villagers also approached. The hunters came closer, and Nama smilingly began to introduce them. One hunter came closer. Nama seemed to be singling him out as her son, Miaachi.

Sam grimaced as a nausea in her gut became acute when Miaachi grew closer. Beside her, Teal'c raised his staff weapon and charged it. A few moments later, Sam too readied her gun. Daniel turned to them startled, as the colonel grabbed his own weapon in reaction to Teal'c and Sam's alert status and looked between his team and the hunters.

"He's a Goa'uld, sir." Sam's voice was tight.


Miaachi stared at them, startled, as Nama made protests. His eyes became riveted to Teal'c and the gold emblem on his forehead.

"Jaffa." Miaachi sneered, and his eyes took on the unholy glow of the Goa'uld. Nama cried out in alarm, and the villagers shrank back. Many of them muttered to themselves, but Sam remained focused on the Goa'uld and her team.

"Is he the only one?" O'Neill and even Daniel had their weapons trained on the lead hunter while Teal'c walked amongst the other newcomers.

"He is, O'Neill."

Some of the villagers had grabbed weapons, but seemed uncertain as to who to point them too. Many of the women had herded their children into the huts. Nama approached cautiously, her eyes filled with tears and protesting. Daniel tried to explain the situation as best he could in his halting alien tongue. Nama spoke again, and Daniel responded. Nama nodded, then turned to Sam and spoke to her.

Sam looked to Daniel in bewilderment. He shrugged, "she's asking if you were certain the rest of the village is not in danger."

"Why me?"

"Because you're the one who saved her granddaughter, and she trusts you."

Sam shrugged and felt overwhelmed. "What should I say?"

Daniel gave her an encouraging look. "Just try and look reassuring."

Sam sighed, then smiled and nodded at Nama. Daniel continued to speak soothingly to Nama, but over her shoulder, he exchanged a worried look with the team. Apparently either Sam's nod or Daniel's assurances were enough, because she spoke out loudly and gave orders to the others, including to the hunters who had accompanied Miaachi, who were not as accepting of SG-1 as of yet. Apparently Nama's word held sway with them as well, because no one threatened the team. All their attention could remain focused on the Goa'uld.

"So, what shall we do with the snakehead?" O'Neill's eyes were flint.

"I suggest you release me," said the Goa'uld.

"Uh, no, that's not going to happen."

"Perhaps we should return him to the SGC," Teal'c intoned.

Bootach approached Sam and Daniel and tugged on Sam's sleeve. He started to speak rapidly, pointing in the distance. Sam looked over to Daniel who was concentrating on the boy's body language as much as the words. Sam didn't get the urgency like when his sister was in danger, but there was something of concern in his expressions.


"Something." Daniel's eyes widened. "A storm?"

"Oh, I'd say so." O'Neill took off his glasses and was looking at the horizon. "If Minnesota winters are anything to judge by, we've got some serious weather heading towards us." He turned to Carter. "We won't make it back to the Stargate in time." He turned to Sam. "Looks like we may have to take advantage of the villagers' hospitality after all. Good thing you got us in their good graces."

Nama's house was the largest in the village because of its status. There were four rooms, one overly large that served as kitchen and parlor and three smaller rooms, a tiny one behind the fireplace for the children, a room for Miaachi and his wife, and a room for Nama. Her room was being used as the Goa'uld's prison for now. She removed a few possessions, and after some final reassuring murmurs from Daniel, left, looking at her son with concern.

"So, what are you doing here?"

"I could ask the same of you." The Goa'uld's face was as if set in stone.

"Sir, it doesn't make sense. Why was he working with the hunting parties? It's not typical Goa'uld behavior."

"Well, I'm sure it's not for the balmy weather." The colonel's eyes remained as flint staring at their prisoner.

"Perhaps the Goa'uld are here for the same reason we are, O'Neill." Teal'c's conjecture about the trinium made sense, but Sam still wasn't satisfied. Neither, apparently was Daniel.

"No, Sam's right. Something doesn't fit." Daniel shook his head. "According to Nama, Miaachi had no scars and was not acting unusual at all before he returned. It's almost like what happened on Nasya with Jolinar."

"You know of Jolinar of Malkshur?" The prisoner looked at them with new interest. "How?"

"Never you mind." O'Neill waved his weapon threateningly towards the Goa'uld. "The better question is how do you know Jolinar?"

The prisoner studied each of them closely, clenching his jaw. After what seemed like forever, he finally spoke. "I am as she."

"You are Tok'ra?"

The prisoner blinked in surprise. "Yes."

"That's still not selling me in your favor." However, the colonel no longer pointed his weapon quite as menacingly. "How about a name?"

"I am called Kandok."

"Kandok, huh?" Colonel O'Neill gave away nothing in his expression.

Sam held her breath. Trying to parse through the remnants of Jolinar's memories was a difficult task with inconsistent results. The name Kandok echoed in her brain. Vague images came to her. "Describe your last host, Kandok." Sam's voice sounded steady, which she found remarkable. She felt like she was shaking head to foot. "What did he look like?"

The prisoner focused on her. "He was close to his height." His chin nodded to Daniel. Daniel and the colonel were close in height, but with his baseball cap, O'Neill looked taller. "Black hair, green eyes. Complexion like yours." He nodded to Sam and looked down. "His name was Marzan, and he was a good man."

As he spoke, Sam could picture the Tok'ra he was describing. A sharp nose, angular features, slight of build. Either Jolinar did not know him well, or this was one of the many times Jolinar's memories were mere wisps of ghosts to her. Aside from this memory of a face, she could recall no other details, but the details sounded right.

"Okay. If Marzan was such a great guy, why'd you trade him in for a different model?", said Colonel O'Neill.

Kandok's eyes flashed with a familiar gold glow. "I had no choice," he growled. "He was dying."

The colonel raised an eyebrow. "So you just chose a convenient body?"

"Jack...", Daniel warned.

O'Neill lifted a finger and shot all of them a warning glance. Sam took it to mean nothing more should be said about Jolinar and Sam's knowledge for the time being. She for one, was anxious to hear Kandok's tale.

"Why don't you start from the beginning. Why are you here?", she said.

"So far I don't know why I should say anything else to you. The secrets of the Tok'ra..."

"Oh, we know all about the Tok'ra and their secrets. We just want to know about you right now."

Once again Kandok was startled by Colonel O'Neill's retort, whether at their tone or their purported familiarity of the Tok'ra Sam could not say. "I was on a mission deep undercover. I was returning to report, but my ship was damaged in a firefight. I tried to fix it, but the crystals had burnt out. The hyperspace engines gave out while near this system, and my ship crashed. I've been trying to salvage what I could from it in order to send a subspace communication."

"Why didn't you just use the Stargate?", Sam queried.


"The Chappa'ai." Teal'c's voice still dripped with menace.

"My scanners burnt out as I went through the atmosphere. I could only guess at its presence. Then the crash and Marzan was thrown so violently from the impact. Both of us were badly injured, and I was too weakened to save him. Then Miaachi arrived to investigate the crash, and..."

"And you decided to abandon the sinking ship for a new model." The colonel's cold delivery belied his casual words. Sam suppressed a shudder at the unwanted memories dredged up.

Kandok bristled. "It was not a decision to take lightly...and the ways of the Tok'ra are not to be explained to the likes of you."

The colonel's smile was more of a sneer. "And there's that arrogance we all know and love. May I remind you that we're the guys with the guns? Hence, the answering of questions."

"I think I've told you quite enough considering I know not who you are, or your motives in being here. I too doubt it was for the...'balmy weather'. I must get back to my ship." Kandok started to rise.

Teal'c took a step closer and raised his eyebrow, his staff weapon grasped a bit more strongly. Kandok immediately sat back down, intimidated, but clearly unhappy.

O'Neill gestured outside and his team followed to the door. "None of us are going anywhere in this storm. After that, we'll gauge the next steps. Teal'c, keep an eye on him. Daniel, why don't you go smooth over any ruffled feathers of our hosts."

Daniel nodded and started to leave, but shot Sam a worried look. She gave a weak smile and nod. She tried to show through her expression and body language that she was fine, to assuage her teammate's worries. He smiled back, but the concern still showed in his eyes before he left.

O'Neill gestured with his chin for her to follow to another room and she complied. Once there he started speaking to her in a low tone. "Major? Any more opinion on our snake friend?"

She faltered slightly before speaking. "I think he could be Kandok. All I could conjure was a vague image of the former host, Colonel. Jolinar's memories don't come at my beck and call." Carter bit her lip at her unexpected tone.

The colonel squeezed her shoulder. "Hey, I know. I'm not asking about Jolinar. I'm asking your opinion. What's your read on him?"

Sam blinked. "I...I believe him, sir."

The colonel nodded. "Yeah, his ego sounds more Tok'ra to me too, not the least of which is him sticking around this...paradise and not playing god to the natives. I'll still feel better when this storm passes and we can get him on our turf for some more conversations." O'Neill gave her a penetrating look. "Carter, are you okay?"

Sam clenched her teeth, determined to stay strong. "I'm able to perform my duties, Colonel."

"I appreciate that. But right now, I'm not asking as a c.o., I'm asking as a friend."

Sam knew that, and it made her retaining her self-control even harder. She took a shuddering breath before making the admission. "His story shook me up a bit, sir, but I'll be okay." She nodded and smiled again, this one a bit more genuine than the one she gave Daniel. Away from the Tok'ra and his history, she was finally wresting control of the spectre of Jolinar back where she liked to keep her.

O'Neill gave her an assessing look before nodding. "Yeah. You will be." His expression shifted to the one she recognized as the steely black ops colonel as he glanced back towards the other room that held Teal'c and Kandok. "We'll make sure of it."

Daniel came back and reported that the villagers were handling the news well. While SG-1 was interrogating the supposed Tok'ra, the village elders had met themselves and decided that SG-1's presence was as protectors, and the village would follow the team's recommendations. Apparently Sam in particular was singled out for honor from both her resuscitation of the girl and her initial reveal of the demon possession of their best warrior. Sam was embarrassed by the attention, but they all agreed as little as any of them liked being put on pedestals, in these circumstances with Daniel's limited language abilities and the uncertain nature of their prisoner, it was the simplest explanation.

They remained in Nama's house. One of them stayed with Kandok at all times. Teal'c was given first watch. The colonel and Daniel met with the other warriors who were with Kandok when he arrived at the village. Sam remained in the outer chambers with Nama. At least here she was able to keep track of the girl, who was making a quick recovery. Both her grandmother, mother and Sam were forcing her to take it easy, but already she was anxious to go and play with her brother. Sam kept checking her vital signs and was pleased with the results.

The little girl smiled at her and touched her blond hair with curiosity. "Az'heni," she whispered.

Sam shook her head and smiled. "Sam," she replied pointing to herself.

"S-ssam." The girl giggled at the strange new word, and Sam joined her in the laughter.

Nama touched Sam gently on the shoulder. "Az'heni." She crooked her finger and indicated Sam should follow. Sam soon realized why. An aromatic stew was being served.

She had not realized how hungry she was until she smelled the meal. She savored the stew with relish. Daniel entered the room soon afterwards, his eyes alight in excitement. Jack followed him inside.

"I think I'm making some progress communicating." Daniel nodded towards where the girl was lying, her grandmother taking a bowl of stew to her. "How is she?"

"I think she's going to be fine." Sam exchanged a look of relief with her friend.

"Well, the villagers seem to indicate they don't expect the storm to last long. And the other hunters with Miaachi are willing to show where he went off from the others," Daniel explained.

"Do you think we may find his ship?"

Daniel shrugged and finished his stew. "I don't know. Maybe there's something to corroborate his story at least."

The colonel then turned to her. "Major, what's your take?"

She shrugged. "We may be able to salvage something from the ship. If Kandok is a Goa'uld, we don't know time frames before someone may pick up a distress signal."

Daniel spoke up. "We may also find a way to contact the Tok'ra. After all, we have no way to reach them right now."

Colonel O'Neill nodded. "All right, that's it then. Carter, you and Teal'c head out there in the morning with the hunting party after the storm passes and see what you can find out. It'll be nice to give Hammond as big a present as possible, because I'm sure he's going to love all of this." The colonel's tone was sarcastic. "Daniel, as soon as the weather lets up, phone home. Make them aware of the situation while I keep our buddy company."

Sam looked down at her bowl, swirling the spoon back and forth in a mindless pattern. Her normal interest in looking at alien technology was tempered by wondering if the previous host still remained there.

Lost in her thoughts, it took both the colonel and Daniel calling her name to realize they had been speaking to her. "What?"

Daniel gave her a worried smile. "Nama asked if you thought Ailee was well enough to play a bit quietly?"

"Oh," Sam blinked and nodded. "Yes."

Daniel spoke to them for a few moments before the grandmother smiled and nodded, going to where the girl was resting. Sam smiled when she noticed the brother on the grandmother's heels.

Her assessment was punctuated with the girl leaping up and chasing her brother after he said something to her. The grandmother started scolding the pair, but her body language also indicated she was pleased. She gave a grateful nod to the team members sitting there.

The home was still cold from where Daniel and the colonel had entered. The mother stoked the fire somewhat. Sam started reaching into her pack. "Daniel, did you bring any chocolate? I don't know if I have enough."

"Um, yeah. I think so. Enough for what?"

"I've got an idea." She accepted Daniel's bar, adding it to her own and pulled a small empty pot from the stove, filling it with some water. Next she broke the chocolate apart. Her teammates exchanged knowing smiles. When the chocolate had dissolved, she beckoned to the children, who had been watching her curiously and sniffing the air at the strange smell.

She poured some chocolate into cups for each of the family members and her team. When the children tasted the beverage, their eyes rounded like saucers. Sam giggled at the sight.

"An introduction to hot chocolate?", Daniel waggled his eyebrows.

Sam brought her own cup to her lips, warming her fingers around the stone mug. "Nectar of the gods, Daniel."

"Mmm. I'm not complaining."

Jack smiled at the children before going into the room where Teal'c and Kandok remained. Sam's attention was drawn to the grandmother who was laying out what appeared to be her most prized possessions by the reverent way she handled them. She exchanged looks with Daniel, but he merely shook his head and shrugged. Finally, Nama found what she was searching for and set it aside. Replacing the other objects, she picked up the white cloth and brought it over, presenting it to Sam.

"Az'heni." The woman nodded for Sam to accept the gift. The cloth was woven from some type of wool-like material, soft and fluffy. She unpacked the item. It was a scarf, the white color pristine and the material softer than cashmere.

Daniel was speaking haltingly to the mother. "Apparently it's from a rare animal. The color and texture make it especially prized."

"It's beautiful." Sam smiled and moved to hand the scarf back. "Lovely workmanship."

Nama pushed her hands outward in a gesture Sam recognized as refusal. "Az'heni." The grandmother nodded again.

Sam shook her head. "But I can't accept this. It's yours. I..." She looked to Daniel for help.

He merely shook his head sympathetically. "I'd just accept the gift, Sam."

"What does Az'heni mean?"

"Well, it seems close in pronunciation to a similar word on Earth that means 'angel'."

"Angel? Daniel, these people think I'm some kind of savior?"

"Well, they did witness you bring the girl back to life."

"But you guys rescued her from the water. I just performed CPR. I mean..."

Daniel put his hand on her back comfortingly. "I know, Sam. But you did save the girl's life in a way previously unknown to them and later revealed a "demon" in their midst. They're grateful." He grimaced. "I found out on Abydos, there's only so much you can do to dispel a hero myth. And you...have become a hero." He nudged her playfully. "Besides, I can't really argue. You presented everyone with one of my favorite 'nectar of the gods'. That makes you an angel in my book too."

Sam laughed and shoved him back. She knew he was just trying to lighten her mood. And right now, watching the children licking the remnants of their mugs, she was finding it easy to keep the thoughts at bay. She did not feel like an angel. Quite the contrary. Meeting Kandok reminded her of a time when she felt the very opposite, like she was sullied damaged goods. But looking at the life in the girl's eyes, so much like Cassie, the girl who brought her back from the brink after her time with Jolinar, she felt better, and while no angel, she was satisfied she had done good work today.

Before she could worry about going to the tel'tak, Sam first had to worry about her guard duty with Kandok. In some perverse way, she was looking forward to it. Since her time blended with Jolinar, flashes of insight would come to her: dreams while she was sleeping. As much as she knew the information was important, many times she felt like Jolinar was still possessing her, and she had to fight to keep herself. Perhaps interaction with Kandok could give her the insight needed--interaction without her teammates hovering nearby, and without the security cameras of the SGC later recording every cough and blink. This was something she needed to figure out for herself in privacy.

But she knew better than to take anything Kandok would say at face value. Tok'ra or Goa'uld, Kandok would be manipulative, and it was in his best interests to exploit any avenues available to him. She had already witnessed it in their interrogation earlier that day.

And of course, she had firsthand knowledge of how manipulative the Tok'ra could be. She could feel Jolinar's desperation and fear when she pulled the pin on the grenade in the Gate room, trying to bluff her way out. Even Sam could not tell if the symbiote's instinct of self-preservation or fear of capture would win out as Sam screamed in her mind for Jolinar to stop before the sedatives finally took effect.

Then there was how she treated the team. Jolinar saw through O'Neill's bravado as easily as Sam had...perhaps because of Sam. It also knew of Kawalsky from Sam's tormented memories and fears she would meet the major's fate and played on that when interacting with the colonel. As Jaffa, Teal'c was a more familiar personality. Though Jolinar could not fully accept that Teal'c had become shol'va, the symbiote at least knew his culture and could relate to his call of freedom, and thus used it to its own ends to get home. And poor Daniel could not even look Sam in the eyes. His pain was acute when he finally did look directly at her to tell her he was sorry. Sam remembered Sha're, and thus gave Jolinar yet another weapon with which to manipulate her friends.

Because of all this manipulation, Sam doubted Jolinar when the symbiote assured her it would leave her mind if possible once it had reached home. Sam was comforted but wondered if those assurances were merely to quell her protests. No one was more shocked than she was when Jolinar sacrificed herself to save Sam.

But Jolinar in some ways never truly died. These dreams and flashes of memory haunted her. Through them Sam gained a better understanding of the symbiote, but at times she felt like Jolinar still possessed pieces of her, like her accidental discovery she could use Goa'uld technology with limited success, or her now constant queasy feeling any time she was near Teal'c.

As she entered, the same queasy feeling returned, and it was one she would endure for the extent of her shift. She exchanged nods with Teal'c. With a warning glare to Kandok, Teal'c departed. Sam settled herself in so that she could keep an alert eye on both prisoner and points of entry.

Now in the supposed Tok'ra's presence, she was uncertain if she wanted to speak to him. She mulled it over in her mind, when Kandok spoke instead with an expression of surprise.

"You were blended."

Sam gritted her teeth and gave a curt nod.

"I thought I was only sensing the Jaffa, I was caught by such surprise. But it was you as well." He gave her an assessing look. "How did you escape?"

"Why do you presume I did?"

"Goa'uld do not leave previous hosts alive if they switch, and the host does not live if the symbiote dies within him."

Sam had not heard that before. "Really?"

"Yes, were host to Tok'ra? Jolinar. You mentioned Jolinar." Kandok grew excited. "Then you must understand. You know I must leave. You must already know me..."

Sam interrupted. "I know that you know some Tok'ra names and have taken over a native's body, not the behavior of the "truly symbiotic" relationship the Tok'ra describe." She left out her personal history for the moment.

"You must know that was by necessity, not choice. What will it take to convince you?"

Sam suppressed a shudder. Her memory of Jolinar speaking those words was too close to the surface. Sam was not aware of her desire until she spoke it herself. "Let me speak to the host."

Kandok scoffed. "He doesn't understand Tok'ra or what has happened to him, despite my assurances. He does not even understand your language."

"He should know it now. Tok'ra share knowledge with their hosts, right? You could allow him to understand me. Like I'm certain he understands our conversation right now. He's begging for you to let him out and let him speak, isn't he? Do it." She baited him.

Kandok studied her for a moment, then lowered his head. When it came up, the expression was that of a frightened man. He started speaking quickly in a strange tongue, permeated with vowel sounds.

"Sshh. Shh. It's okay. We know what's happened to you. You're safe." Sam soothed. Now that she was speaking to the host, she did not know what to say. And in the back of her mind, she remembered how easily the Goa'uld could take on the persona of the host. It didn't matter though, the host would at least hear her, and she wouldn't say anything the symbiote wouldn't already know or easily figure out. "Do you understand me?"

Miaachi nodded. "Yes." He frowned at the expression, as if tasting its strangeness. "How is this possible?"

Sam shook her head. "It doesn't matter. My name is Samantha Carter. I understand what you're going through. It happened to me last year. But I'm fine now." Well, relatively speaking she was. "We're going to try to help you. How do you...", Sam sought for a word that could encompass what she knew he was feeling. "Are you in pain?"

"No. Not now." He moved his fingers experimentally, his hands still tied. "I couldn't be in control. Strange images... Is my family all right?"

"They're all fine."

"It was a came at me when I entered its strange house. Please, kill me. I don't want to live like this."

"You may not have to." Sam gave a confident expression that served doubly as a warning to the symbiote. "The Tok'ra only remain in willing hosts. If the...creature that possesses you is as he claims, he will leave. We'll make certain he does."

"Do it now."

Sam sighed. "It's not possible, yet. There is no place for it to go, except another person, and it will be unwilling to leave you otherwise. But we will keep you safe. You will not harm anybody."

"But I don't want to live like this. I would rather die."

Sam vowed, "if its people are not reached, or it proves to be telling us lies, I promise you, I will not make you live like this, even if I have to kill you myself." Even if the Tok'ra couldn't be reached, Miaachi was suffering enough without worrying about NID or others. Sam would not let this man go through another hell.

With a head bow, Kandok returned and studied her. "Would you really kill me, Samantha Carter?"

Sam's voice was calm and cold with finality. "If you don't leave him when asked, you better believe it."

The rest of her shift went by in silent staring.

The villagers were right. By mid-morning, the snow and wind had died down. There was a good foot of snow on the ground, but it did not make travel impassable, especially when the villagers lent some sturdy and small snowshoes, which Sam always thought looked like tennis rackets on people's feet. However, they were surprisingly effective once the colonel explained how best to walk in them. The day was clear. Teal'c was good company during the trek out to the probable crash site because his silence let her be alone with her thoughts. The hunters treated her with an uncomfortable respect, augmented by Nama insisting she wear the white fluffy scarf.

Even with the fresh snow, it was obvious there had been some recent damage to some of the trees and brush. The hunters started slowing down and pointing, obviously wanting her and Teal'c to take the lead. Her teammate raised an eyebrow. "We appear to be approaching the crash site, Major Carter." Sam nodded and held her own weapon at ready.

The cargo ship had definitely seen better days when they finally reached it. Sam doubted it would ever fly out of the atmosphere with all the hull damage. As they moved inside, Sam doubted it would ever lift off. Apparently Kandok had had enough respect to take care of his former host's body, because although some blood could be seen on some of the equipment, no body was found. Some pieces of equipment still worked, but a lot of the primary systems were destroyed. Teal'c agreed with her assessment by the way his eyebrow raised at the damage. He turned to her and shook his head.

Sam checked out some of the crystal cells, and noticed power was active for one control display. She moved over to it, finding it somewhat familiar. "Teal'c, do you know what this is?"

Teal'c joined her at the console. "It appears to be a communication device."

Sam's eyes widened. "Kandok apparently got it active after all. Do you think it's sending a signal?"

"It is not the standard distress call for this type of ship, but that is very likely."

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Sam moved back to turn off the power at its source. But before she reached the crystals, a beep could be heard. She and Teal'c exchanged worried expressions.

"It is a coded sequence, Major Carter. Perhaps it is the Tok'ra."

"Yeah, but how do we respond?"

"That I do not know. There is no audio communication, only the code."

Sam returned to studying the device, her hand moving over the console. The receiver repeated the sequence. As her hand moved across the display, her fingers moved automatically to some of the controls, like remembering how to play an old song. She pressed the sequence and paused before the transmit key.

"Major Carter?"

"I don't know, Teal'c. It just seems...familiar."

Teal'c nodded, and Sam transmitted her response. An instant later, a voice could be heard through the communicator, speaking in the recognizable echo of a Goa'uld. Sam's memories of Jolinar had its limits. Goa'uld language was gibberish to her. She looked at Teal'c blankly.

"He is asking for Kandok. It appears your code was correct."

"Which means our guy is Tok'ra. How should we respond?"

The Tok'ra repeated his request more impatiently this time. Teal'c keyed the vocal transmitter and spoke quickly in Goa'uld.

"What did you say?"

"That Kandok was unavailable, and we were friends."

The Tok'ra spoke again, his tone of voice more questioning. Sam and Teal'c exchanged looks again. Sam shook her head, then thought of something. "Maybe if we..." Sam's voice trailed off as she noted Teal'c had already keyed the microphone. Her eyes widened.

But her surprise at realizing her voice had transmitted was nothing to the shock she heard at the response.

"Sam?!?" The echoing timbre of the Tok'ra had transformed into her father's voice.

"Dad?", she replied, barely able to breathe.

"What the hell are you doing there? Where's Kandok?"

"I...he..." Sam swallowed. "He's in a village nearby with Daniel and Colonel O'Neill...where are you?"

"Just entering the system. We've been on search and rescue for him. Is he okay?"

"Well...I'm sorry, Dad. Marzan is dead. Kandok...switched hosts into a native hunter who happened by."

There was a pregnant pause before the communicator crackled again. This time it was again Selmak's voice heard. "I will triangulate on your signal and arrive shortly."

"Understood." Sam shut off their transmitter and was surprised to note her hand trembling.

Teal'c had already keyed the radio on his vest. "O'Neill."

After a pause, the colonel's voice came tinnily through the radio speaker. "Go ahead."

Teal'c continued. "The Tok'ra have responded to a distress call from the ship."

"The Tok'ra? The fun just keeps coming. You're sure it's them?"

"Indeed. Jacob Carter should be here shortly."

"Carter's dad?" The surprise came through even through the radio speaker. "Well, that is good news. Daniel, did you catch that?"

Daniel's voice came over the radio. "Got it. I've just reached the DHD. I'll let General Hammond know."

"Well, I guess we sit tight and wait for the calvary. O'Neill out."

Trying to explain to the hunters that another vessel was coming down that would not be dangerous was proving more difficult than they expected. Finally, Sam was able to convince them to return to the village. It seemed the simplest route by that point. She and Teal'c returned to the shelter of the tel'tak to await her father's arrival.

Feeling an exhaustion that was disproportional to the activity, Sam leaned against the wall and sank to the floor. Teal'c stood in his normal stoic pose in silence. In the meantime, she tried to get over the shock of her father's impending arrival. She had been wishing for his presence ever since they encountered Kandok, and now her wish was fulfilled. But hearing Selmak's voice made her stomach roil in self-doubt.

Running a hand through her hair, she finally decided to speak up. "Teal'c, may I ask you something?"

Teal'c turned to her and inclined his head slightly.

"Um, your symbiote. I know you're Jaffa, but do you ever, interact with it, communicate with it?"

"I do not." Teal'c replied placidly. "The primta is aware of my body's needs, and I of its. But that is all. I believe Doctor Fraiser referred to it as performing an autonomic function."

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Sam tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice, but from the way Teal'c looked at her, she knew she hadn't succeeded. Sighing, she continued. "No, I mean, I'm glad you're not subjected to the Goa'uld's thoughts at all, but I guess I was just wondering if you were aware of its personality and...I dunno, suppressed it." Why she even voiced the thought even she could not explain. Neither Daniel's wife nor brother-in-law or even Kawalsky could do much against the Goa'uld in them. Sam had fought as hard as she could against Jolinar's control and was just as helpless.

Teal'c studied her. "You think of your father."

Leave it to Teal'c to summarize her maelstrom of thoughts in a simple sentence. She grimaced. "I guess this whole thing has made me have my doubts. I convinced the SGC to let him go to them. I convinced him to take on Selmak. What if Jolinar was still influencing my subconscious, what if their motives..."

"The Tok'ra are an anathema to the Goa'uld. Unlike rivals, they are unmentionables to the system lords, like shol'va. If I as Jaffa can turn against their ways, I have hope that perhaps some of them also can forsake the domination of the Goa'uld."

"I suppose."

"Major Carter, if I did not believe Garshaw and the Tok'ra to be honorable, I would have advised O'Neill and General Hammond so." He looked at her somberly. "And I would never have allowed another loved one of my friends to be blended with a symbiote. You chose to do what you felt was necessary...and you chose well."

Sam took a shuddering breath, trying to fight back the tears that threatened to fall. Teal'c was saying exactly what she needed to hear, and because it was Teal'c, she did not doubt he meant every word. She was taken aback at his next statement, however.

"And if Jacob Carter is anything like his daughter, the Tok'ra have a formidable and wise warrior amongst them."

"I...thank you, Teal'c." Sam smiled at her friend and furtively wiped her eyes.

The recognizable whine of a spaceship sounded above them, and Sam and Teal'c left the wreckage to meet up in the field with her father. Sam was a bit startled to see he was not alone, but had another Tok'ra with him.

The first thing her father did was hug Sam close in a tight embrace. "It's good to see you, kid." He released his tight embrace slightly and turned to acknowledge the others. "This is Paleck. He's a good friend of Kandok's."

Teal'c bowed slightly and Sam gave the other Tok'ra a short nod.

"Paleck, this is my daughter, Samantha, and Teal'c."

"It is an honor to meet you both. I have heard good things about the Tau'ri and the shol'va who joined them."

Sam's smile was thin in response.

"How is Kandok?"

"Physically fine, but he will need a new host."

Sam's dad held her a bit tighter around the waist. "Sam, he was coming back from a very important mission with vital intelligence. If he switched hosts, it had to have been because he had no other choice." Jacob bowed his head and Selmak's eyes flashed.

"I knew Marzan and Kandok, Captain Carter. I am certain the decision was not one taken lightly."

"I'm sure." Sam's voice was noncommittal, and she hoped neither her father nor his symbiote picked up on her stiffening when Selmak took over. She broke away from her dad, and started towards the village. "Unless you want to go to the shipwreck first, Kandok is this way."

"That'll be fine." The familiar tone of her father's voice was clear again, and she caught him giving a warning look to Paleck. She recognized the look instantly as the one that promised trouble if Jacob Carter was crossed. Paleck seemed to interpret the expression correctly, because he stayed silent and kept further back.

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Finally her father spoke up, lightly, almost cautiously. "This doesn't seem standard Air Force issue...?" He fingered the soft scarf trailing from her neck.

"Oh," Sam blushed. "Long story."

"Major Carter saved the life of a young girl. The villagers have been showing their appreciation."

"It was a group effort," Sam demurred, annoyed that Teal'c picked now of all times to be overly talkative. "I really didn't..."

Her father reached around and squeezed her shoulder. "I'm sure you played your part. And it's "Major Carter" now, is it? I'm not surprised, I knew you were on the list, but I'm glad it's official. I never had any doubts at all, and that was before I knew how you really earned that Air Medal."

Sam blushed even more. "I just do my job, Dad."

"Yeah." The smirk that accompanied the response and proud twinkle told a lot about how her father really felt.

As they continued walking, Sam kept stealing glances over. If it was not Jacob Carter that walked by her side, she would not know the difference. Everything about the man screamed "Dad", and she could not find much trace of the woman she knew as Selmak/Saroosh before her father's blending.

Soon, they came to the village. "Az'heni, Az'heni! Teal'c, Az'heni!", the children of the village seemed to act as town crier. Daniel was walking back from the direction of the Stargate and smiled in greeting. Another group of children surrounded him.

Greetings were exchanged between Daniel and the Tok'ra before leading them to Kandok and Colonel O'Neill. Once his identity was confirmed, the tension in the air lessened considerably, though Kandok still seemed to show a bit of resentment. Some harsh words by Selmak in Goa'uld quelled his coldness. Teal'c and Daniel raised their eyebrows, but neither translated.

Eventually things worked out between the parties, and with Daniel and Selmak working with Kandok, they explained what had happened and how Miaachi would leave for a time, but should come back restored to them. Nama and the other village elders kept looking to Sam and the colonel for reassurance, but eventually they were convinced that Miaachi would be returned to them whole. Kandok also let slip about the trinium deposit he had discovered.

"Hey, hey. I think we have first dibs on that. After all we have been doing the negotiating with the natives. They certainly have a say in what happens, and let's face it, right now, your credibility with them sucks," said the colonel.

Paleck glanced at his companions, then carefully replied. "I am certain we can hopefully come to an arrangement, in the interests of forming an ongoing alliance."

With that, Daniel took on a diplomatic role to try to mediate a temporary negotiation. When things seemed to be settling into something fairly amicable, Sam noticed her father beckon her to one side.

"Since things are going pretty smoothly, I thought we could take a few minutes and chat before I had to leave."

"Chat?" Sam raised her eyebrows. Her father was not known for casual conversation.

Her father shrugged. "I haven't talked to you for a while. And I think, all considered, we're due for a little chat."

Sam made a face and nodded. They moved over to the hearth and sat.

"You know, Selmak knew Jolinar well when she was hosted by Rosha. I'm sure she would rather have died than remain in an unwilling host."


"Kandok has vowed to leave Miaachi, even at the risk of his own life. The Tok'ra feel strongly-- very strongly--that both partners are equal. It is what is abhorrent about the Goa'uld."

"Are you an equal partner, Dad? Really?"

"Well, it's taken some getting used to being treated as a youngster, but considering Selmak's pushing 2,000...I've gotten glimpses of Selmak's past, Sam. There's a lot we can learn from them."

"I just...I worry I made a mistake. You were dying...I didn't want to lose you, and I offered you this...this Faustian bargain. And then I haven't seen you..."

"This was in no way a deal with the devil. I'm not going to lie, it's been a bit strange, and both Selmak and I have gone through a bit of a settling-in phase. But we're working it out. I am still your father, Sammie. That did not change because I'm carrying around an alien passenger. I'm not saying the experience hasn't changed me. I think Selmak's smoothing out some of my rough edges, but hey, that can only be a good thing, right?"

"I suppose." Sam gave her father a weak smile.

"Um, Sel wants to say something, but he wanted me to ask if it would be okay first."

"Well, um...wait, 'he'?"

Her father shrugged. "Well, apparently Selmak's not been too fussy about male or female hosts over two millennia, so he's not sensitive to the pronoun. I prefer to go with "he" to protect my macho image."

That comment fit her sardonic father so much that Sam laughed. "I think I'd like to talk with Selmak for a few minutes."

Her father touched her face in a loving gesture before bowing his head.

"Major Carter, I wanted personally to apologize again for the ordeal you went through. Blending in such a manner is traumatic for both symbiote and host, and it truly is not our way, and not Jolinar's."

"I know Jolinar tried to reassure me at the time, at least in her way. And I'm sorry for doubting you, but..."

"But for someone experienced only with the Goa'uld, our ways are suspicious. And seeing it repeated by Kandok would of course give you more doubts. Be assured, such a transfer without even asking permission has been done so rarely, and only when the intelligence to be passed is vital. Often the host agrees to remain blended."

"I just happen to be one of the lucky ones who wasn't agreeable." Sam tried to keep her voice from sounding too bitter.

Selmak patted her hand in a manner so unlike her father's that Sam could almost picture Saroosh was sitting there beside her.

"The Tok'ra have not experienced humans independent of the Goa'uld. Your ways are very foreign to is your direct attitude in fighting them. It is only upon my blending with Jacob that I see how much you value your freedom and independent thought. I understand your aversion to blending. I try to explain it to my brethren, but the concept is still quite foreign to us. We have existed as a..."fifth column" for so long, change is not easy for us either. But we try to understand. Being blended with Jacob has given me an added vitality I have not experienced in decades. I do not regret learning about the Tau'ri, Samantha, and I am honored to be blended with your father."

The grip on her hand tightened and when Sam looked back, she knew in an instant that Jacob Carter had regained control of the body.

"I'm not saying this body time share thing doesn't have its disadvantages, but holy hannah! The places I've seen. It's been a dream come true for me. Do not regret this decision, Sam. I don't. It is really me."

Sam's eyes filled with tears, and she candidly expressed, "I'm just glad to see you, Dad."

"Yeah, me too, kid. Hey, I'm the liaison to Earth right? I think that qualifies me to visit a bit more often. Now that Selmak's gotten to know me a bit better, we've been working out the...", he smiled in almost a private joke, and Sam wondered if he was communicating with Selmak in his head, but the pause was a mere moment. "...kinks. I think we'll convince the Tok'ra that more frequent communications with Earth would be useful."

"I'd like that."

The negotiations were apparently over. The group was breaking up and relieved expressions appeared on everyone's faces. Nama stepped outside to announce things to the others. While the door was open, Ailee came into the room. "Az'heni! Sssam." She proceeded to present Sam with a delicate shape made out of the snow.

"By the way, what is 'az-heni'?", her father queried.

Daniel was unfortunately close enough by then to hear.

"Roughly translated, it means 'angel'. The villagers view Sam as a kind of protector."

Sam shot Daniel a threatening look which he only waved off with a smile. She could feel herself blushing.

Jacob Carter looked at his daughter with interest. "Really? Promotion to major AND heavenly being. Moving up in the world, or should I say the galaxy now?" He nudged her. "I can't argue with the villagers, Sam. You certainly have been my angel."

Sam blinked, surprised at her father's sentimental comment. "Dad."

Her father smiled. "Yeah, don't worry. I'm not going to get much sappier. Selmak may have softened me, but I'm still the same crotchety old coot you know and love." He fingered the scarf. "But I am proud of you."

Sam smiled back at her father, and at least at this moment, with her father alive and well and with a vitality she hadn't seen in years, the ghosts of Jolinar and the knowledge she gave Sam seemed more blessing than albatross.

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