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All Tangled Up

by Katrina, Christi, and Ryuu

Post-Divide and Conquer

What, exactly, one was supposed to expect when a large alien asked you to 'accompany him through the forest of Colorado', Sam wasn't sure. As it turned out, companionable silence suited perfectly. The steady rhythm of breaths and footfalls became a welcome distraction from the heaviness upon her after the week's events. Who'd have thought Teal'c was an emotional genius?

There was so much rattling around inside of her head that she didn't even know where they would start, if they were to talk. She trusted Teal'c to her very core as a confidant. The emotional and physical safety he provided was uncanny, given their fragile position in the universe. She instantly smiled at the realization before warm feelings gave way to sorrow. She did trust Teal'c. That must explain why his decision to leave when Sha'nauc had come seemed like such a betrayal.

Not that he hadn’t had a right, she acknowledged. They'd been to many a planet where the culture had seemed unusual and foreign to her. Was that what Earth felt like to him? Teal’c visibly brightened when one of his own came through the Stargate. It made sense that he would long for some kind of familiarity. But there was such an innocent manner while he discovered Earth and its many different customs and traditions. Sometimes she forgot just how much life he had lived before he chose to fight with, and for, Earth; instead of against it. No wonder he'd kept to himself so much since the whole Sha'nauc and Tanith incident. Especially with the constant, life-sustaining reminder inside of his own abdomen. Talk about cruel irony.

She closed her eyes for just a moment and Martouf's contorted face flashed before her. Yes, cruel irony.

But this wasn't about her. It was about Teal'c. As hard as it was to admit, thinking about Teal'c's situation made the current events in her own life…what? Easier to ignore while the pain and guilt were so fresh? Sam bit her lip. No. She wouldn't go there. Teal'c. This was about Teal'c's pain. Teal'c's need. Teal'c's need to feel needed. He had said that he would go where he was most needed. Was it selfish of her to believe that he was needed here? Probably. Teal'c was capable of making a difference no matter where he was. But that didn’t stop her from trying to figure out ways she could convince him that he was needed here.

She glanced at her teammate. She could feel words building in her throat but she was almost nervous to break the companionable silence they had created. "Did anyone ever thank you?" The words surprised her. Had she meant to ask that?

Their stride remained unbroken as he tilted his head, "As of late, I have done nothing worthy of thanks."

She frowned at him, "I know a few people who might disagree with you on that one."

He simply bowed his head in response.

Right, she reminded herself. He was a man of few words, and many a head nod.

"You know, Colonel O'Neill was convinced the two of you had some kind of history." Once again, her words surprised her. This time, however, they were met with complete silence. "But being that you’re with Drey'auc, I was sure he was just seeing something he wanted to see. Plus Daniel pretty much shot dating possibilities down with the reminder of her being a temple priestess."

As she blinked, she once again saw Martouf's smiling face. It was important that she know if there was a history.

"Sha'nauc was, indeed, an important part of my past."

"Before you and Drey'auc then."

"For the most part. Our involvement was short lived, but highly passionate."

"Ah, so an old girlfriend revisited after years of separation?"

"After a lifetime."

His words penetrated. This time foreign, yet eerily familiar, memories of Martouf arose. His eyes. His passion. Their lifetime. She'd almost become accustomed to memories that were not her own randomly flitting to her mind’s surface. They came at the weirdest times too: while checking the perimeter on a mission, when the wind caused the flowers to bend in a certain direction, if her foot fell in just the right way, at a random word. How did it make sense that she felt a lifetime of feelings for a man she hardly knew as herself? A sigh escaped her pursed lips. She'd never know now, would she?

"It's weird to be out in the middle of the woods with no mission or goal to complete; no one to run from.” She filled in, “We've been plenty of places that look just like this. I always thought it was kind of funny, to have pieces of home so far away."

A beat of silence, and then, "Have we not both been running from those who haunt us?"

The light attempt at friendly conversation dissolved and suddenly it clicked. Despite his stoic appearance, she could have sworn there had been a miniscule amount of desperation in his eyes when he had asked for her company. Now she understood. He was hurting too, and he didn't want to do it alone.

She was strangely touched by his choice to seek her out. Although she loved SG-1, being the only woman on the team could be difficult. It seemed like whenever something went wrong, the guys always had each other to turn to. Sometimes, she felt like she had to choose between stripping herself of all her femininity to be one of the boys, or live in precarious danger of being ‘the girl’.

It was easy to forget that after four years, these three men loved her enough to just want her to be Sam.

Slowly, she let out a breath, staring out over the vista. “You’ve lived over a hundred years. Tell me – does it ever get easier?”

“Does what get easier, Major Carter?”


The word hung heavy between them as Teal’c considered her question for a moment before answering in heavy, measured tones. "It is something I have encountered often. It is, in fact, something I have caused often. Yet I find myself surprised at the pain that accompanies its advent.”

Sam gave a bitter grin and nudged him, "Indeed."

His smile was fleeting at best, but it was there, so she was going to count it as a win. “I just don’t know sometimes, Teal’c. I’ve been doing this what, four years? And already, there’s a part of me that’s just so…so damn tired. How do you keep doing this, year after year, with the weight of it all just…sitting there on top of you? Simple physics states that eventually, we’ll be crushed under the pressure. Everything has its breaking point.”

When he finally spoke, his words seemed to come out of left field. “There is a Jaffa legend - the story of two warriors in the service of Ra.”

Sam blinked at that, trying to imagine Jaffa sitting around campfires, sharing old tales and legends. She hoped that they were a bit more translatable than Jaffa jokes

“Although Makel and Ol'an were not truly brothers, they shared a bond of trust and strength that soon made them the finest warriors among Ra's forces. When one went into battle, he went secure in the knowledge that his shield brother would watch over him and help him accomplish feats that no single warrior could achieve.”

“Jaffa fighting in teams?” Sam questioned as they began to walk back down the path.

“It is unusual,” Teal’c acknowledged. “It was, therefore, no great surprise when they were separated. They were sent to a lead Ra’s forces on different planets. For the warriors, it was a tragedy.”

The sinking sensation in Sam’s stomach intensified. “I’m not going to like what happens next, am I?”

“Ol’an fell in battle,” Teal’c confirmed.

“Yeah, that figures,” Sam muttered under her breath. “This is a real pick me up story, isn’t it?”

Teal’c glanced at her while carefully stepping over a log that had fallen across the path, but said nothing. The Jaffa storytelling tradition was sounding a little too close to real life for Sam’s taste. “Sorry, Teal’c. Please go on.”

“Makel was devastated by the loss of his shield brother. He retreated from the world for many days in his grief. When he returned to his command, he performed his duties without joy or care. And he never spoke of Ol’an.”

Sam offered an audible acknowledgment. It sometimes seemed that her life was becoming nothing more than a series of things she didn’t talk about, in hopes that they would just disappear altogether.

“Makel still fought bravely, but he was no longer the great warrior he had long been famed for being. And, eventually, the opponent he faced outmatched him.”

“I swear Teal’c, if he dies too, you’re not allowed to tell me anymore stories.”

“He did not die. For at the last moment, when death seemed inescapable, Makel allowed himself to remember Ol’an. With the memory, he was able to summon the strength to defeat his foes and once again rise as the greatest warrior of his time.”

As they emerged from the woods and headed toward the parked car, Sam mulled over this story. What was the point, exactly? That repressing your emotions made you weaker? That grief was a part of life? That the people you loved were always with you? “Teal’c, I’m not sure what to make of that.”

“Make of it what you need, Major Carter.”

Well, that cleared things right up. “Teal’c, do all Jaffa have the whole inscrutable thing down to a science, or is it just you?”

Somehow, Teal’c expression managed to be both innocent and devious at the same time – without really changing much at all. “I do not know what you are referring to.”

The only thing Sam could do was laugh. Unlocking the car doors, she easily slid into the driver’s seat, rolling her shoulders experimentally. There was a loss of tension there; not a huge change, but a definite difference none the less. A step closer to feeling better.

“Back to the mountain then?” she tossed her companion’s way, turning the key and shifting into gear.

“I am quite hungry, Major Carter. Would it be permissible to acquire some sustenance before returning to the SGC?”

“Food. Mmm. I could definitely eat.” She nodded, pulling onto the road back to Colorado Springs.

“Music?” she ventured, pressing the stereo’s power button. Talk radio filled the silence causing her to wrinkle her nose; maybe not the best noise companion at the moment. She flipped through her presets, passing commercials, the beginnings of an obvious disco tune, more commercials, a bubbly classical tune, and finally landing on a country station that wasn’t completely offensive. Teal’c liked country, didn’t he?

Her hand moved back to the steering wheel, the music filling up the car. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Teal’c shifted, reached his hand out, and flipped back through the presets, landing in the middle of the intro to Funkytown.

“This is a most enjoyable composition of sounds.”

Her head snapped in his direction, a look of confused horror settling into her features. Teal’c liked disco?

All things considered, she thought that the Colonel's knitting habit was easier to swallow.

So, here’s the thing. I know D & C has the whole za’tarc confession thing, yadayadayada, but honestly, what strikes me the most is the untimely death of poor Martouf. And just an episode before, it was Sha’nauc. And really, it just seems like it could be a good time for some Jaffa/astrophysicist bonding.

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