That Which We Try to Forget
by Annejackdanny and Cancer

He wandered, seemingly aimlessly, down the sandy path, the heat flaring around him.  A small moving dust cloud followed in his wake where his robes swept the barren ground.   In the distance the temple ruins were looming, nothing more than shadows in the glaring red sunlight. The heat was welcomed, warming his skin right down to his bones. He had been born in the hot sands of Egypt, had been raised to worship the sun-god … until he had become a god himself.


He had been Ba'al for so long he could barely remember what it was like to be... Chenzira. 

His given name, foreign and unfamiliar.

Its meaning, born on a journey seemed ironically adequate in retrospect.

He hadn't been Chenzira in millennia.

When Quetesh, no, Vala MalDoran had asked him about his real name he had not known how to answer her at first. His mind was a turmoil of voices, memories, images...

He’d had to dig deep to remember Chenzira.

Very deep.

Not to find the memory, oh no, but to find the name. The connection. The difference.

He remembered Chenzira's life, remembered growing up with elder brothers and younger sisters, remembered hard work for the God, Ra. He remembered the sacrifices, the luxurious attire of Ra and his servants. Remembered the longing. The wanting. And the day he was chosen and taken... 

By Ba'al.

Chenzira's life had been short and devoted to serving Ra.

Ba'al had changed everything.

Chenzira had been still young the day Ba'al had taken him. But his education as a scribe had been completed and he hadn't mated yet. He was suitable.

The wanderer paused, taking a deep breath of the hot dry air. He enjoyed the solitude of this place. It gave him space to think and come to terms with being Chenzira again. Being human. For the first time in millennia. To figure out what to do with his life. His very own life. But also to explore the dark side that was Ba'al. Anhur reminded him of Egypt.

And he had been here before.

This world once belonged to Ba'al.

Its occupants were long gone from this part of the planet. But once they had worshiped him and worked in the naquadah mines that now lay dry and plundered in the mountains surrounding him.

He picked up his walk again, his body requiring a drink of the fresh water from the well in the temple yard. The water came from a natural spring feeding an oasis near the temple. A rare treat in a hostile world as this.  The temple courtyard boasted small fig trees and some low, thorny bushes bearing edible fruit. In addition, the water hole lured in small animals he could hunt.

A sparse life, but one he chose for himself.

For now.

Until he figured out a way to start over, building a new life.


Disbelief crossed Cam’s face.  “Actually, sir, I’m still going through the personnel files. This takes time.” 

Time to adjust to mentally, too, he added silently. But of course that was something you didn't tell the man in charge. Teams were changed out all the time. You went where they told you to go, sucked it up and were a good soldier. He got that. It was just... SG-1. And he had worked his ass off to get them together again.

Damn, but his grandma told him there would be days like this.  

“I want your new team ready as soon as possible.  I told you, the decision of who will be on that team will be up to you. But we need to move this on.”

“Yes, I know...”

“The president made it clear in her directive how Homeworld Security and the SGC are to be run, Colonel. HWS will send out diplomatic teams. Once first contact has been established through an SGC team.  SG-1 will be working for the HWS headed by General O’Neill. But we need you out there, too. SG-1 isn't the only team in this facility. You get to chose from the best. I'll check back with you about your progress in a couple of days.” Landry furrowed his brows and softened his voice. “I know this is hard. But it's the way things are.” 

“Yes, sir.” It was okay. He'd deal. This wasn't his first time around this barbecue. He'd received new assignments, new commands before. Landry was right; this was the way things were.  

Cam sighed inwardly. He'd had enough time to get over it.  And of course O'Neill would be offered the best to entice him to give up his retirement plans.  was saying it, but a bribe was a bribe, whether it was mandated by the president or the Joint Chiefs. As his grandma would have said, fate has a funny way of tripping you up when you least expect it.

The blaring unauthorized off world activation siren went off, pulling Cam from his gloomy thoughts. Never a dull moment.

“What now,” the general muttered as they headed out into the control room. “What's going on?” he addressed Walter as they gazed out into the gateroom where the Stargate had sprung to life, its chevrons glowing as they connected.

“Nothing yet, sir,” Walter answered and there were a couple of tense minutes until he added, “receiving identity now. It’s Chenzira, sir. He’s requesting to make contact by hologram, sir.” 

Landry pursed his lips and blew out a breath. Darn, just what they needed. “Tell him we’re happy for him to make contact.” Walter proceeded and seconds later there was a flicker in front of the closed iris before Ba'al's... Chenhzira's.... holograph stabilized. “I wish to speak with Doctor Jackson.”

The same arrogant SOB, Hank thought. “What do you want?”

A tremor ran through the holograph. “I apologize. I didn't mean to be demanding. But I would like to discuss an alliance. Of course I will talk to whomever is available at the moment.”

“An alliance, you say,” Mitchell said, raising his eyebrows. “What kind of alliance?”

“I would like to discuss this with someone skilled in diplomacy matters. No offense, Colonel Mitchell,” Chenzira said politely, “but I do believe Doctor Jackson is your expert in that field.”

“Doctor Jackson isn't available at the moment,” Landry said curtly. “I will send someone down there you can talk with though.” He turned to Walter. “Get General O’Neill to the gateroom and find Ms. Mal Doran.” 

“Yes, sir,” Walter replied hurriedly.


Jack strode down the corridor leading to the gateroom. The unauthorized off world activation alarm had stopped now that the gate address had been recognized and the caller identified. He had been in the process of finding a suitable place for the ruby slippers – and yes, he’d been moving them around a lot, not quite finding the right spot for some reason - when he’d been called to the gateroom. 

As he took a left turn he mused it was kinda odd how he'd missed the mountain with its bleak walls and windowless offices. Yet, he had. That said, after eight years of working underground, he had appreciated the luxury of working by daylight and being able to see the outside world through his office window.  Working at the Pentagon had bored him to tears at times, but the bright friendly ambience had almost been worth it. 


Being back felt better, though. Windowless office, recycled air and artificial light were a small price to pay for coming home. If he really missed anything, it was the boat. Well, the Caribbean had been a nice dream.  Therefore he’d gotten a house. Not the one he'd left behind when he moved to DC, but the new house was cabin style, easy to take care off. It had a nice yard, no noisy neighbors in ear or eyeshot, a deck with an outdoor grill that also served as a fireplace, if the weather was chilly. Cozy. And while it was similar to his old house, Jack refused to think he bought it out of nostalgia. That would be a cliché and everyone knew how Jack felt about those.  

Some boxes were still unpacked, stacked against the wall in his new home office. Jack felt a slight reluctance to unpack. Like part of him couldn't quite believe that he had returned to the Springs for good. 

Like he still kinda felt out of place. Which was weird because on the whole he had never felt more at home in a place since he had left SG-1.

This didn't make sense and before it started to make his brain hurt, he pushed the slight out of kilter feeling aside.

He'd still go sailing first opportunity he got. And maybe he could invite his new old team to join him. Daniel might have objections, but Jack had time enough to work on a strategic plan to drag him along for the ride.

“Excuse me?” The sultry voice, which could only belong to Vala Mal Doran, pulled Jack out of his musings just as he passed the stairs to the control room. Side stepping, he watched the dark haired airman brushing by, then stop and whirl around to face him.

“Oh,” she muttered. “It's you.”

“Yes,” Jack drawled, raising an eyebrow. “Is that a sue-able offense?”

“Don't you have some place else to be?” She eyed him sourly.

Jack shrugged and fell in step with her. “Nope. And may I ask where you are heading?”

“To the gateroom,” she replied somewhat snippily, throwing her hair over her shoulder. “To talk to Chenzira.” 

“Ah. Friend of yours?”

“If you must know, he has endured a traumatic change in his life. Do you have any idea what it's like to feel the evil spirit of the symbiote control your every action...”

“Yes, I do.” He cut her off. Not that he had the lifetime experience of being possessed, but he'd gotten a very good glimpse. And he preferred not to remember it too closely, thank you very much. That Kanan hadn't been Goa'uld, but Tok'ra didn't make that much of a difference from where he stood.

Vala wrinkled her nose. “You shouldn't be allowed to talk to him. There's a conflict of interest.” 

“Excuse me!? And what about you. Your history with Ba'al is way longer than mine.”

“I've been his mate. Well, Qetesh was to be specific. But while he raped me by using her body as his little toy to entertain him, he never tried to kill me. Or her. At least,” she gave him the ghost of a suggestive smile, “...never in the bedroom.”

Well, that was definitely TMI. And Jack wondered briefly how much she knew about his friendly encounter with Ba'al. He made a mental note to ask Daniel later. 

“Who gave you permission to talk to him anyway?” Not him. And if this was Daniel's  brilliant idea, Jack had news for him.

“General Landry felt my personal relationship with Ba'al and the time I spent with Chenzira after the extraction would help him to relax,” she informed Jack bluntly. “Maybe he trusts me more than he trusts you, who knows? After all, I've been here for the last few years, on SG-1, saving the world, risking my life. While you were... not.” She smiled at him, baring her teeth.

“Right.” Because if I'd been here you definitely wouldn't be. Not after the stunt she'd pulled with the armbands. Jack wasn't sure what annoyed him more. The way she was flouncing ahead of him doing that lascivious hip swing, the resentfulness pouring out of every word she’d just said, or simply the fact that she dared to give him a piece of her mind about things that weren't her business. He didn't need to hear any of this. Especially not from a woman who used to beat up, kidnap and manipulate people for her own little mind games and treasure hunts.

Right. So he knew she had changed, courtesy of one Doctor Jackson. Honestly, Jack believed Daniel brought the best out in everyone. It was just one of his many talents. So  she had changed, sacrificed herself for the good of the cause, earned her place on SG-1... That was all good and decent. Still didn't give her the right to attack him.

They were standing at the gateroom door. 

Jack swiped his card through the slot and waved her inside as the door opened. “Be my guest. Go forth, talk, be charming, be diplomatic... Just don't make any promises.” 

“He'll be eating out my hand in no time,” she said, batting her eye lashes mockingly as she looked at Jack over her shoulder. “He always had a soft spot for Qetesh.”

“Ba'al had soft spots?” Jack raised his left eyebrow in his best Teal'c imitation.

“Some,” she purred.


“You asked.”

“Remind me never to do that again,” Jack muttered, smirking on the inside though, suddenly slightly amused by her antics.

She reminded him of Daniel. In a very twisted way she seemed to be able to push Jack's buttons just like Daniel used to. Not many people could push his buttons these days.  And comparing Vala to Daniel was way too disturbing on a whole lot of levels.

He grimaced and braced himself against the poisonous mixture of hate, despair and fear crawling up his spine and invading his mind. Clamping down on every stirring emotion, Jack schooled his features to calmed and relaxed, made sure his hands weren't fisted and his breath didn't catch in his throat. He'd learned to deal. Whenever he’d had to face Ba'al after … after that... he had experienced the same post traumatic symptoms. Clammy hands, nausea, and a deep roaring desire to kill. Of all the shitheads and wacko aliens he'd encountered, this one was the one he hated with a passion almost as strong and destructive as his self loathing after Charlie's death.

The hate never cooled. But the counseling and his training made it possible to cope.

He didn't so much as flinch when faced with the life-sized holograph of Ba'al.


Next to him, Vala eyed holo-Ba'al, then plastered a smile on her face which probably was as fake as Jack's casual posture.“Chenzira, dah'ling. What can we do for you?” 

As if in reaction to Vala's bright greeting, the holograph flickered briefly before it stabilized again.

Jack stood at ease, looking the image of the man up and down, taking in the uncharacteristically plain robes, bare of any fancy adornment. 

“Yes,” he finally said, voice flippant. “What can we do for you?” He swallowed the urge to repeat Vala's 'dah'ling', trying to remember he was a diplomat now.

Ba'al... no, Chen-zero, whatever... turned his dark eyes from Vala to Jack. “General O'Neill,” he said pleasantly and for a moment Jack could have sworn there was mocking in his voice, taunting him... I remember our time together, O'Neill, don't you? Do you remember what a great time we had, how you were screaming and whimpering... 

Jack blinked and when he looked again, Chenzira had turned back to Vala. “Ms. Mal Doran.”

“I told you to call me Vala,” she said with the wave of a well manicured hand. “After all, we do know each other pretty well.”

“I have to disagree. The demon knew Qetesh very well. I merely was allowed to watch.”

“See, we already have a lot in common there,” Vala chirped and Jack refrained from rolling his eyes.

Where the heck was she going with this? He glanced at her standing next to him, hands on hips, head cocked, eyes all bright and flirting.       

“I have come to... pledge my allegiance to this world.” Chenzira's eyes settled on Jack, deep and dark, not giving away anything.

Jack remembered Teal'c saying the very same thing so many years ago.

Only Jack had believed the words out of Teal'c's mouth without even a shred of doubt.

This guy had to prove himself.

And even then...

“What do you have to offer?” He realized there was an edge in his voice and added more casually, “That is, if you do have anything to offer. The SGC of course will help you settle on any world of your liking, introduce you around, get you acquainted with all the right folks... “

Vala raised her hand and chimed in. “Of course you can't take any of your fancy toys with you. Like this holo-phone. Or your gravity doohickey. And not to speak of the clone construction kit...”

O'Neill hid his smirk behind a stoical facade, but nodded. He had already been through this particular point with the Joint Chiefs. They had to make sure Ba'al's host had no  access to Ba'al's technology once he was freed to wander the galaxy again. For now the man was wearing a locator beacon the Tok'ra had implanted in him after the extraction ceremony. It was an easy way to track him should he feel the urge to vanish from Anhur and re-collect Ba'al's belongings. So far Chenzira had stayed on Anhur with no attempt to leave. The SGC had nailed down some of Ba'al's hidey holes and technologies, but nobody had been fooled into thinking there weren't still fortresses or places Ba'al had up his sleeve they didn't know about.  

“The Tok'ra informed me of my rights,” Ba'al said politely, cocking his head. “I will leave my 'toys' behind should I decide to settle down somewhere. I have no intention of trying to gain power. All I seek is a quiet life and the opportunity to help the Tau'ri. You were, after all, my people, too.” 

Damn, but the man was good.

“So you can choose a world and – provided the natives will agree – we'll get you settled,” Jack said. 

“Aside from Earth, I assume,” Chenzira said mildly.

“There's that.”  

“I see.” Holo-Ba'al, no, Chenzira, folded his hands in front of his robe and lowered his head for a moment as if there was something utterly fascinating at his feet. When he looked up his features were carefully composed. Jack wondered which one of them was doing the best job at appearing like they were just sharing news around the water cooler. “It would be easier for your SGC to supervise me were I to return to Earth. It is after all my home planet.”

“I hate to break it to you, but just because you spent some time here doesn't make it your home planet,” Jack countered.

“No, you do not understand, General O'Neill. I was born there. In Giza.”

“Giza. As in Egypt, Giza?”

“As a matter of fact, yes.”

“He's told me that before,” Vala remarked. “While he was still... you know... Ba'al.”

"Get out,” Jack scoffed. “That would make you...” He stared at the man.

“I was Ba'al's very first host,” Chenzira said, bowing his head once more. “I was chosen among many slaves when I served under Ra.”

Wait... yeah, Daniel had mentioned that Ba'al had used this host for over 2000 years. Back at the extraction ceremony. Jack resisted the urge to rub his temple as a headache crept up on him. The extraction ceremony... thinking about it always made his head hurt. 

Stony-faced he gave the man another assessing look. “You look good for your age then.”

“You don't believe me.” It wasn't a question. “That is unfortunate, but it doesn't matter. I called you because I think I can be of good use to the Tau'ri.”

“How?” Jack took a step forward. “How do you think you might be helpful to us?”

It was Vala who replied with a roll of her eyes, “He has all the knowledge of Ba'al.”

“And? So? Therefore? The Goa'uld are no more. He has to give us a little more than vague offers.”

Vala stared at him as if he had grown a second head. Jack let her. It was one of the things he'd learned early on. Don't give away you're too interested. It made you valuable. The SGC was VERY interested in Ba'al's secrets. But he wouldn't give Chen-zero any reason to believe he was in a superior position here. 

“I have a vast knowledge of worlds you haven't encountered before. I could offer you allies. naquadah resources. Whatever it is you seek.” There was a hint of that old arrogance in Ba'al's voice and Jack snapped his attention back to him immediately.

“What do you want in return?”

“Nothing,” the holograph said quietly, subdued now.

Jack blinked and caught himself exchanging a disbelieving glance with Vala. “Nothing?”

“I want to pay my debts. However, I can never undo what Ba'al did. Take it as a small contribution of... compensation.”

Yeah, right. And pigs could fly. Jack felt his jaw twitch. If that man wanted absolution he was asking the wrong guy. Crap, he couldn't do this. Not with Ba'al. Diplomatic his ass. This was a bad idea. Jack could do cynical and annoying with Ba'al, mocking and provoking. He could kill him with a snap of his wrist without batting an eyelid. 

But diplomatic? Hell, no.

The silence stretched out too long, he realized. Squaring his shoulders he cleared his throat. “Fine. We'll schedule a meeting and you give us the specifics. What worlds, what resources, all the intel.”

“May I request for you to use the Chaapa'ai and visit me on Anhur? I do not feel comfortable around many people yet. It is difficult for me to... communicate on my own.” 

Vala edged closer to Jack, whispering, “He has issues with being crowded. He was pretty shaken on the Tok'ra world after the ceremony.”

Jack thought Chen-zero's communication skills were just fine, but refrained from saying so. “I'll see what I can do,” he said not committing.

“We'll get back to you about that, Chenzi,” Vala said brightly. “I'm sure things can be arranged. I will talk to General Landry, who is in charge here and really likes me.”

“Very well. I will be waiting for your decision then.”  With a last flicker the holograph was gone.

Vala turned to General O'Neill and resisted the urge to nervously play with her hair as she received a dark and dangerous glare from the man. Ooops. Probably shouldn't have mentioned how much General Landry liked her.

“Which part of 'no promises' didn't you understand?” O'Neill snarled in a low voice.

“I was just moving things along,” she informed him with a shrug. “You don't have to thank me for assisting. If you'd excuse me now, I have places to be, people to talk to.” 

“Well, thank you anyway,” O'Neill said sarcastically as they strode out of the gateroom. “I'll talk to General Landry. Or would you want to do that since he trusts and likes you so much?”

She thought about a smart reply but decided to leave quickly instead. She hated to admit it, but the man had a reputation she felt was hard to ignore. Not to mention that Daniel seemed to really like him. Well, Sam and Muscles seemed to like him, too. But Daniel? Hell, before she had ever met the famous Jack O'Neill for real, she had been listening to Daniel's 'Jack used to do this, Jack used to say that, Jack called and was his usual annoying self. Actually Vala, you sometimes remind me of Jack' yadda. 

Okay, so it wasn't that Daniel talked about Jack a lot. But when he did, there was something in his voice Vala noticed immediately. A mixture of annoyance and fondness. If she was good at something, it was reading people. And she knew Daniel. Daniel didn't open up to others lightly. Some had been known to force him along by putting armbands on his wrists... She smirked. But this Jack guy seemed to be one of the few Daniel didn’t  just like because Daniel gave everybody a fair chance to be liked. Jack seemed to be someone Daniel relied on in a way he didn't allow himself to rely on anybody else.  

Vala had seen him coming around in the infirmary, Jack's name on his lips, just in the few moments between being unconscious and waking up. It didn't happen often either, but it did happen. And spoke volumes about the man's place in Daniel's life.

Oh, and of course, General O'Neill was still the subject of gossip here and there. Walter, while always pointing out how much more organized and easier to handle General Landry was, had shared a few of the famous SG-1 saving the world stories. The old SG-1, mind you, not the new SG-1... Sam and Muscles seemed to be perfectly happy with the new SG-1 though, and so was Daniel. Or so Vala had thought.

So she'd been intrigued by that larger-than-life O'Neill figure for a while before she met him.

She refused to be impressed when she finally did meet him. 

When she first saw him in person he had been nothing more than a visitor accompanying them on Mitchell's 200th trip through the gate. When she met him for the second time he had waltzed into the briefing room like he owned the SGC and bellowed. “What the hell has he done now?!” Meaning Daniel of course.

Okay, fine, O'Neill had forced Woolsey to back off and in the end helped Daniel to pull off his plan. Big deal. She could have done that easily enough. And she and Cam had actually built the weapon. She had. Mitchell had just yammered about leftover pieces, to be specific. 

But whatever... it didn't give him the right to just come back and...

Vala interrupted her dark musings when she realized she was standing at Daniel's office door. 

Well, why not?

She sauntered in, finding Daniel staring at his computer screen in concentration, eyes screwed up behind the glasses. Ha. She would bet good money he’d had too much coffee and too little sleep.

“Go away, please?” he muttered without looking at her. 

“You know, you could at least pretend you're happy to see me,” she pouted.

He blinked and glanced at her. “Oh, it's you. I thought Jack had come by to annoy me.” He frowned and then waved at her. “It's just as well... Go away. I'm busy.”

“With what? And besides, there'll be a briefing soon, so don't get engrossed in whatever you're doing.” She perched her butt on the edge of his desk, swinging her legs.

“A briefing?” He was still staring at his screen. Vala made out several lines of hieroglyphs. “About what?”

“Chenzira called and invited us to meet him.” She waited for the words to sink in and when they finally did and he abruptly jerked up his head to stare at her, she gave him a bright smile.  

“Chenzira invited us? Us as in you and...?”

“Oh, well, not specifically me. But SG-1.” She looked at her fingernails. 

“SG-1,” Daniel repeated. “Which one? The current one or the old one.”

“We are the current one. Well, that's how it should be anyway.”

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and said good bye to his quiet hour of translation work. He'd been in meetings all morning and just had returned to his office looking forward to working on this text. A man could dream though... He minimized the window on his screen, knowing the glyphs would distract him if he kept them displayed.

“Vala,” he started tentatively, taking her pout and sullen posture as what it was. Hurt.

Rightfully so, if he was honest. “I know these changes were a little unexpected for you and Mitchell.” He shook his head, smiling. “Hey, it was more than a little unexpected for me. For all of us.”

“Why can he do that? I mean...” She rose and crossed her arms, eyes glittering with anger. “How can he walk back in here and take you away. Tear us apart just like that?” Snapping her finger to underline her words, she spun around and started pacing.

“Because he's General O'Neill? Because he sees you as his 'kids'? Because he saved the world a couple more times than Mitchell and I did? Why?”

“Please believe me. None of us – including Jack – had any idea of the way things were going to turn out when we met in DC. You know that.” He suddenly realized it was important that she believed him. He’d never intended to hurt her feelings. He knew Mitchell would get over it, he was military and he knew how these things worked. Vala however... Vala had just found a stable home base, family. Daniel knew how that felt. How incredibly good to finally know where you belonged; where your place is. 

He also realized he should have had this talk a long time ago. It had been over a month since they’d come back from DC. Vala had been resentful and angry ever since Sam, Teal'c and Daniel had delivered the news to their former team mates. He should have sat her down for a drink, taken her to dinner, put her at ease. Mitchell had tried to talk to her to no avail. She was balking and there was a wall of chill air surrounding her.    

She had stopped in the middle of the room, her back to him, stiff and unforgiving. “I don't believe it. He planned all this. Made nice with the president so she'd let him come back. He missed you guys. He wanted to go out there again. He set it up.”

“No. Vala, that's not true.” He pushed back his desk chair and came to stand behind her.

“Just because he can. He has the power,” she spat.

“Vala, look at me.” He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, half expecting her to flinch or shrug it off. When she just remained motionless he turned her around. “Vala, please. Why would we lie to you? Why would ‘I’ lie to you?”

“You missed him, too,” she muttered, refusing to look at him. “Don't deny it. I know you.”

He blinked. “I...” For some reason it disturbed him that she knew he'd missed Jack. They all did, more or less. Not all the time... More often than not he was more than grateful for Mitchell's more easy going lead.


“Yeah, I guess. But that doesn't mean Mitchell, you and us were any less SG-1 than we were before.” He needed her to understand that. Lifting her chin with one finger, he forced her to look at him. “Do you hear me? When Mitchell brought us back together again and you joined us, we were as much SG-1 in every sense as we were while Jack was leading SG-1.” 


“It doesn't matter anymore, does it?” she said, all snottiness and faked sulkiness gone. “He got his wish, Mitchell gets a new team and I'll leave.”

“What? Oh, no. No you don't,” he said, grabbing her shoulders. “Don't you dare start running again, Vala. You've worked too hard to be part of the SGC...”

“Part of SG-1,” she corrected, bitter.  

“You are more than part of SG-1.”

“Maybe it's all I ever wanted,” she said quietly. ”Maybe you...”

He shook his head. “Don't make this about you and me. Please. This isn't about us. It never was.”

She sighed. “Fine. It's not. But what do you expect me to do here if I'm not on SG-1?”

“Mitchell wants you on his new team.”

Vala snorted. “Yeah, right.” Then she sighed. “He made some noises about having me. But he didn't really say it.”

“Seriously, why wouldn't he?” Daniel suddenly was angry with her. “Don't sell yourself short, Vala. He wouldn't have taken you on the team if he didn't think you were worth it. It's not like he did me a favor by making you a member of SG-1. You deserved it. You earned it.”

“Then why does it have to change?” She bit her bottom lip.

“Things do change,” he told her softly. “When we went to DC, Jack told us he was going to retire. The president offered us excellent positions...”

“Oh, yes. You never told us what exactly those positions were,” she said.

“Well, you left the room and decided to sulk instead of listening to the rest when we discussed this with you and Mitchell,” Daniel couldn't resist reminding her. “And you made it pretty clear you wouldn't talk about it any further.” He should have tried though. Shouldn't have let her get away with detaching herself from them. Maybe it had been easier for him to bury himself in his work instead of dealing with her pain.

“I want you to tell me now,” she insisted.

“Well, Sam was going to command a new ship, I was offered  Atlantis, the president wanted Teal'c to oversee the IOA... What I'm trying to say is that even if Jack hadn’t  agreed to the president's wish to move HWS here – We most likely would have taken those positions they offered. SG-1 would have been torn apart. This way we're still all together. We can still work together and see each other. Just differently.”  

“Atlantis? And you let him talk you into staying here - AGAIN?” Her anger flared up once more, like a barely controlled fire. “HE was the one who prevented you from going to Atlantis in the first place. You told me he made you stay when all you wanted was to go there. You found it, Daniel. You should be there, in command. Not here.” 

He thought about this for a moment, realizing it was true. He had dreamed of going to Atlantis, staying there, being part of the team that went out to explore the Pegasus galaxy. And yes, Jack had refused him this wish back then, had slammed the door shut on Atlantis for Daniel.

Yet... Yet he had jumped at the first opportunity to have the old SG-1 reunited. To keep Jack from retiring. Had dismissed Atlantis just like that.


Puzzled, he realized he didn't have an answer to that other than it felt like the right thing to do. It still did. But...

A wave of dizziness swept over him and he pressed a hand to his stomach, feeling cold all of a sudden. Screams, staff blasts, blue ribbons of zat fire.... his vision blurred and he could see himself falling, falling, falling... 

It's not real, it's not real, it's not real...

Dead Jaffa all around him, everyone was going to die...

It's NOT...




He caught his breath and held up a hand to stop her from touching him. The thought of Vala touching him suddenly made him nauseous. He took a step back. “I'm fine.”

“You don't look fine.”

“It's just... a headache.” He turned away from her, holding on to his desk with both hands. Calm down, deep breaths. The annoying shifts of reality – for a lack of anything else to call them – had become less over the last weeks. But they never seemed to stop completely and kept catching him out of the blue. Daniel had learned to just deal with them by trying to breathe through them, knowing they came and went. And yes, he kept putting off having to talk about them to Sam or the others. He still hoped they'd go away.

Slowly reality stabilized around him and he didn't feel like he was falling anymore.

A bottle of aspirin was waved in his face and he grabbed it, irritated, and placed it back on his desk.

“Daniel, sometimes I worry about you,” Vala said softly. “I hope your Jack knows how to keep you healthy.”

“Believe me, if there's one thing I know how to do, it's keep him alive. Most of the time,” came the dry voice from the doorway.

“Most of the time isn't good enough. How often did he die again under your command?” She straightened up and looked like a cat ready to attack.

“Often enough for me to know not to let it happen again,” Jack said, his eyes narrowing.

Vala snorted.

Jack moved into the room, picked up the dollar store glass vase and started playing with it. “There's a briefing scheduled for fourteen hundred, Daniel. Don't be late.” He looked at Vala. “Colonel Mitchell wants to see you ASAP.”

She pursed her lips. “He does?”

“It's what I just said, isn't it?”

“I don't think I have to take orders from you. Daniel? Do I have to take orders from him?”

“Yes, you do. Be afraid, Vala, be very afraid, because I've been known to lock people up in VIP rooms for time outs,” Jack growled and Daniel had to lower his head to hide his grin. 

She wasn't intimidated in the slightest of course, but she rushed out of Daniel’s office nevertheless. Daniel opened his mouth to say something when she rushed back in, planted herself in front of Jack and snarled. “You better not let anything happen to him, because I'll stay right here and make sure you're treating him all right. If you let him get  hurt, I'll make you regret it.”

They glared at one another and something seemed to pass between them, like a silent conversation Daniel didn't quite grasp.

“Fair enough,” Jack finally said with a gentleness Daniel didn't expect.

“Hello? 'He' is right here and neither dead nor ascended. So if you'd please stop talking about me like I'm not here, I'd appreciate it,” Daniel snapped way more sharply than he intended to. And just out of old habit he added. “Put that down, Jack.” 

Jack stared at the vase, shrugged, and put it back on the counter.

Vala turned and stalked out. In the following silence, Jack said. “How do you deal with her?” 

“I've worked with you for eight years.” 

“Point taken.” Jack grimaced, picked up the vase again and juggled it from one hand to the other. 

“And don't forget; his name is Chenzira, not Ba'al.”


Daniel rolled his eyes. “Making a diplomat out of you is going to be hard work, Jack.” 

“Excuse me? I had four years to play diplomat and politics at the Pentagon. I have this down pat. It's Ba'al I can't stand.”

“So you talked to him?” Daniel asked casually.

“Oh, I did. He sent us a nice holo image.”

“That's interesting,” Daniel murmured. “He still seems to have access to Ba'al's technology.”

“There's that. Maybe that's why he chose to go to...”


“Anhur.” Jack grimaced. “He wants us to pay him a little diplomatic visit. Says he has things to offer. All very cryptic. Vala went all flirty at him. You should have seen her. And a minute before we went in she told me Ba'al used to rape her. I don't get it.” 

“Really?” Daniel eyed Jack carefully. “You of all people know a lot about self defense mechanisms, don't you? Ba'al raped Vala because it was Qetesh he mated with. Not Vala. She hates him as much as you do, Jack. She just has her own ways of dealing with it in order to be able to act civilized around him. You taunt him, she ...  well she uses her knowledge of his attraction to her.”

Daniel didn't miss the way Jack's hands tightened around the vase for just a moment. “I get it.”

“You're both just trying to keep control. Showing him he's not affecting you in any way.”

“Daniel, I said, I get it,” Jack snapped.

“Just... don't call him Ba'al when we meet him,” Daniel reminded him, and cringed as he saw the flash of darkness in Jack's brown eyes. Like a shadow, only there for a blink of an eye. “Jack...”

“Chenzira. See, I can say his name.” Jack carefully placed the vase back on the counter again.

They left Daniel's office and walked down the corridor,as they had done countless times on countless days. Why did it feel so right and yet so strange?

“Vala's mad at me,” Jack said out of the blue. “She was in my face right before we talked to... Chenzira.”

“She's not happy with the way things are.” Daniel sighed. “Can't blame her, really.”

“Will she get over it?”

“Eventually, yes. I guess. She's hurt now, and probably scared because she doesn't know where she'll end up. It's... kind of complicated.”

Jack clapped him on the back when they reached the briefing room. “I need to talk to Landry about something first. See you in a few.”

Fifteen minutes later, Daniel fiddled with the folder in front of him trying to ignore the raised voices coming from Landry’s office. It was obvious Jack was not happy with the whole situation.

“I'm not buying it, Hank!”  Jack said as he opened the door and strode out into the briefing room.


Whatever Landry was about to say as he followed Jack out was quickly cut off.  “If he wants to talk to us that badly he can just come here and go through the SOP. Then we can take him to one of the fancy newly refurbished meeting rooms and chat.”

“According to what you told me, he's wary of being among too many people.”

“So we make sure he's not exposed to anyone but the necessary people.”

“Jack, that man has been through a traumatic life altering procedure. I'm not fond of him. I would rather never see him again. But he offered valuable information and help in gathering new allies...”

“Which is all fine and dandy. You know I'm the most forgiving person on the planet...”

Daniel coughed and Sam bit her lip. Teal'c's face remained expressionless except for the arched eyebrow.

“...but this is Ba'al we're talking about...”

“Chenzira,” Daniel said helpfully and winced when Jack gave him the evil eye.

“ excuse me for just being a bit suspicious of his motives.”

“Well, you heard what the Joint Chiefs said. Washington thinks Chenzira might be a valid source of knowledge and they also figure if we let him work for us we can keep an eye on him. And have him lead us to Ba'al's secret bases we haven't discovered yet,” Landry said, his bushy eyebrows furrowing. “I don't like this whole idea anymore than you do, Jack, but the best way of getting there is trying to get him to work with us. And since he offered... .” 

“I know that,” Jack said, more than a little irritated. He’d been part of the meeting that dealt with Chenzira's rehabilitation right after the extraction ceremony. Earth and Tok'ra alike had agreed the man had to be kept away from Ba'al's toy boxes.

“All I'm saying is I'd rather have him come here and be under guard than going out...” Jack waved in the general direction of the gateroom, “...there and meeting him in foreign territory.”

Daniel winced as Jack sat down heavily in the chair next to him and began tapping a staccato beat with a pen on the folder in front of him.  Both Teal’c and Sam gave him sympathetic looks.

Landry took his seat. “Thank you for coming,” he addressed the others. “As you may have gathered, earlier today we had a surprise visitor in the gateroom. Chenzira has asked for a meeting to share information with us. The Joint Chiefs decided we need to hear him out at least.”

Jack carefully lowered the pen on the legal pad in front of him and folded his hands. He was all guarded tension. Daniel cast him a glance, then turned his attention back to Landry.  

“We invited him to come through to give us his proposal, but the man is balking at that. He doesn't want to be crowded.”

“And we've agreed to meet him under his conditions?” Sam asked puzzled.

Next to Daniel Jack mouthed a 'thank you' at her and reached for his pen again, twirling it between his fingers like a baton. 

“Apparently we did,” Landry said dryly. “And since this is a diplomatic mission as much as a threat assessment we'll send another team with you to cover your six.  I’ll let you know once that decision is made.”

“Shouldn't Colonel Mitchell's new team accompany us? He knows Ba'al... “ Sam frowned. “I mean Chenzira from when he was Ba'al. And Vala talked to the man after his extraction. She could probably have a calming effect on him.”

“At least she understands where he's coming from,” Daniel agreed. “Having gone through being a Goa'uld herself. Not to mention her history with Ba'al.”

“Colonel Mitchell is otherwise occupied and so is Vala,” Landry said. “I'll find someone else to go with you.”

“Vala Mal Doran would be a valuable asset in dealing with Ba'al's host,” Teal'c said.

“I'm sorry, you can't have her.” Landry tabled the discussion.

“We'll handle it,” Jack said, voice all business like now. Giving Landry a tight nod he turned to his team. “We'll move out at seventeen hundred. Standing orders are to talk to him and figure out what he really wants. Best case scenario would be he agrees to come through with us to do the rest of the talking here.”

“O'Neill, General Landry.” Teal'c pointed out urgently. “I must advise caution regarding Ba'al's host.”

“We wouldn't have it any other way,” Landry confirmed.

“He may be freed of the Goa'uld, but he has been host to him for a very long time. He may still be under the influence of Ba'al. It would be safer to bring him here to interrogate him in a holding cell.”

“See, the big guy agrees with me and there's something else that bugs me about him.  Why hasn't he aged like Apophis did?” Jack stopped playing with his pen, giving Teal'c a quizzical look.

“Apophis's symbiote had been damaged beyond repair when we found him. Host and Goa'uld had been tortured. The extraction device of the Tok'ra functions so that the host may survive and stay in the healthy condition he was in before the removal,” Teal'c replied.

“Or,” Carter observed, “he has a way of slowing down his aging progress. I mean think about it  - he took over Anubis’s cloning technology. He might have found a way not to age.”

“Alright. What about Ba'al? Is it possible he still has some powers over the host after he died? Carter?”

She shrugged.  “I honestly don’t know, sir. Chenzira will have all of Ba'al's memories and knowledge. What Jolinar left in me was more like an echo of herself. But she didn't blend with me completely and only stayed a short time. From what we know from Sarah Gardener, Vala and Skaara, the host is a witness to everything the Goa'uld does and after the removal of the symbiote all its knowledge and memory stays with the host. But we don't know if there is a way for the Goa'uld's memories and knowledge to still have power over the host.” 

“It is possible that Chenzira may be influenced by the emotions and memories Ba’al left in him. They were together for over 2000 years. I would not be surprised if something of Ba’al remains within,” Teal'c insisted.

“I guess it depends on whether or not Chenzira welcomed Ba'al in the first place,” Daniel said carefully.  

Jack spun around to face him. “You're kidding me, right?”

“Actually, no. When I was going to use the Tok'ra's symbiote poison on the Goa'ulds I talked to one of their human slaves and he was more than eager to be chosen as a host.”  

“Indeed,” Teal'c rumbled. “Some are attracted to the power that being a God brings them.”

“So,” Landry tapped the table lightly, “there's only one way to find out.”

“Alright.”  Jack stood. “Let's pay a little visit.”  He strode out of the briefing room and down into the Control room.  “Walter, contact Ba’al’s host.  I’m sure he’s waiting for us to do so.”

A hand came to rest on his shoulder, “No snake baiting him when we speak to him, Jack,” Daniel murmured.

“I'll be good. Any other orders, Doctor Jackson?”  Jack muttered in reply.

Daniel gave him a huge grin. “Nope. That's all. For now.”

Part 2

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