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11 October 2006 @ 12:48 pm
SG-1 Fic: Five Sunrises that Malek Saw  
Summary: The Tau'ri have a saying, "It's always darkest before the dawn." But in space, the sun never rises.

Rating: Teen/PG

Pairing: Malek/Sam (in one part)

Disclaimer: Based on Stargate SG-1, which is not mine.

Note: These feature Asheron, my host for Malek from my stories "Tok'ra Allegiance" and "Going Home", and will not make a lot of sense if you haven't already read the other stories. All five ficlets are in chronological order. Three is a mission that I have not yet mentioned in the stories, so don't kill yourself trying to remember it. (g) All five of these play into the forthcoming sequel, "The Road to Tartarus."

Inspired by telscha's prompt for the "Five Things" meme, but I really can't blame her for Asheron being so demanding. Thanks to Lori for the beta.



One

Asheron stood next to the bed, looking down at Jisa's tiny, scrunched-up face sleeping on Arvalle's chest. He extended a finger to brush Jisa's cheek. Her skin was so delicate, and her hands were clenched into unbelievably small fists. It seemed impossible that she should have fingernails smaller than his cuff buttons.

Arvalle's eyes opened and she smiled up at him sleepily. "Come to bed, love," she whispered.

"Soon. I want to watch," he said and leaned forward to kiss her. "Thank you. You are both blessings in my life."

"She is a blessing, isn't she?" Arvalled kissed the top of Jisa's head and brushed her cheek across the downy hair.

Arvalle dozed off again and he watched them, his heart too full to rest. The birth had been long and difficult, and he'd nearly lost them. But Arvalle had been strong and brave, so now he had them both.

He stayed until the light started to peek around the edges of the drapes. Stirring himself, he wandered to the next room and out onto the balcony overlooking the eastern gardens. The noise of the city was muted and distant, only the birds chirped to greet the new princess. There were only a few puffy clouds in the sky. First light had come and gone, and the sky had lightened to pale blue, brightening in the east. The sun edged above the horizon, suddenly too bright to look at, and the warm golden light spilled across the lawn and flowers below.

It was going to be a beautiful day.


Two

He stirred, aware of the burning pain with every breath. He couldn't feel his legs, and he couldn't see when he opened his eyes, though he had no way to know whether it was just dark or if he was blind. He was still alive, but not for long if the pain in his chest was any indication. Not that it mattered. It was over. He'd done what he promised. The bitch was dead, and her command ha'tak was in pieces all around him.

He let his eyes close, content to drift off into the nothing. Death was a familiar friend, and he wasn't afraid.

A hand on his shoulder brought him back. "Asheron?" a hoarse, unfamiliar voice asked. "It is I, the one called Gildaruk."

Asheron couldn't muster any fear. Gildaruk was one of Ishtar's underling Goa'uld, but he was also the one who'd given Asheron the knife. If he wanted to hurt or kill Asheron, there was nothing he could do about it.

"You are dying, as are we," Gildaruk said. "But there is a way to live."

"No. No sarc --" Asheron whispered and couldn't finish. The agony of forcing breath to speak was tearing him apart inside. But he was used to pain, after Ishtar. It no longer overwhelmed him, even when it might be a good idea to pass out. He knew what Gildaruk was suggesting, but it was impossible. He'd destroyed the sarcophagus, so Ishtar couldn't come back. But even if it were working, he wouldn't use it. Never again.

"I am not Goa'uld," Gildaruk said abruptly. "I am Tok'ra. My name is Malek."

Tok'ra. He'd heard of the Tok'ra. Ishtar had called them her enemies; she'd said they were vermin. Spies. At first she'd blamed the Tok'ra for his plot to overthrow her. But it was all him. And what she'd done to punish him ...

"Asheron," Gildaruk -- no, Malek -- called, and he tried to concentrate on what the Tok'ra was saying. "My host Ivar is dying, and I cannot save him. But you are not beyond saving, if we blend. Tok'ra are not Goa'uld; we share. It was our queen's highest command that hosts give us strength and wisdom, and their bodies and minds must be respected. We fight for the end of the oppression of the Goa'uld all across the galaxy. You could join that fight with me."

He heard the words but his understanding was slow. He knew there were other Goa'uld, of course. But all across the galaxy? "How... many?" he asked.

"Thousands. Oppressing and killing millions, probably billions, of people. Everywhere."

He thought of thousands of worlds like his own beloved Naritania, bombed into submission and ruins. He thought of billions of people like his own, trying to survive as refugees or under the uncaring, merciless eyes of the Jaffa and their Goa'uld masters. He shook his head in denial and horror. Thousands of Goa'uld like Ishtar, cruel and capricious, amusing themselves with torture and humiliation.

"If we blend, you cannot stay long," Malek warned. "The Tok'ra are few, and the enemy is vast."

That didn't matter. He knew that if he managed to live, he could never stay. Not after what he'd done. Ishtar had made sure everyone knew that she was destroying Naritania because of him.

The invisible blade between his ribs twisted and he gasped, reaching out blindly along the floor. Malek's hand came over his. It was trembling with weakness or pain, but it was warm and alive, and the touch kept him from falling into the abyss of his own agony.

He had failed Naritania, but maybe he could redeem himself by freeing other peoples from the slavery of the Goa'uld. Dying now seemed too much like giving up, when there was still so much to do.

"Malek. Yes. I accept."

About an hour later, some of the broken debris of the pel'tak shifted aside and a tall figure wrapped in a blanket emerged into the dark. The stars were high and cold, and only the smoldering spots of fires scattered across the field provided light. He turned, looking upward to get his bearings from the stars, and started walking toward the city and the chappa'ai in the main temple. Weak as he was, the walk took several hours, and he had only reached the outskirts at first light.

There was so little standing. Tumbled masonry was still piled in the street, as though the attack had been yesterday, instead of three months ago. There were a few efforts to clean up, which were almost more painful to see than the broken and ruined buildings. He heard a baby crying somewhere, and then a dog barked, but that was the only sounds of life. He saw no one, even as the sky lightened.

But others saw him. The fall of the goddess' ship had awakened many, and fear kept them from sleeping as they waited for Ishtar to send her troops again. But when a handful of people looked outsdie, they saw a familiar, lone figure walking in the pre-dawn stillness and they knew they were free.

At the temple, he climbed the grand steps, reaching the top as the sun rose. He turned, unable to resist one last look. His once beautiful city was a forest of gray broken walls and burned out shells. The only signs of life were three smoking chimneys and a flock of birds high above. It was gone.

*Come,* Malek whispered in his mind, gently. *Let us go. Your fate lies elsewhere now, Asheron.*

Revulsion filled him. Asheron had done this, made this ruin with his own arrogance. Asheron had suffered and broken and fallen to Ishtar. Asheron had betrayed Arvalle, again and again.

"No," he said aloud. "Asheron's dead, Malek. Asheron died in the ha'tak. This is a new life. We start over."

He went inside the temple, turning his back on the last sunrise he expected to see on his own world.


Three


*Are we going to make it to the chappa'ai?* Asheron asked his symbiote, who was running through the darkness under the trees.

*I hope so,* Malek answered, ducking beneath a low branch.

Asheron demanded, *Why? Why did you attack him? I might have been able -- *

*To do what?* Malek challenged. *He lied to us. He broke his promise. He had no intention of ever letting you go.*

*I might have been able to persuade him,* Asheron protested. *Now he's going to be angry, and if his Jaffa catch us, he's going to torture us and kill us. You didn't even let me try.*

Malek didn't respond at first, leaping a fallen log and darting eastward to climb up a low rise and take the high ground. He turned, aiming the stolen staff weapon and firing it toward the Jaffa to keep the them back. The glow in the sky of first light was lightening the shadows under the thick branches of the trees, enabling Malek to see the Jaffa's movement more easily. Of course it also meant they could see him, and one staff weapon blast came close enough to splash heat and bits of bark in their face.

When he was running again, Malek asked, pointedly, *You would rather stay?*

The question struck Asheron, just as Malek had intended it to. Because of course he wouldn't. Go back to that? No. And yet... was it so bad? There was that part of him that remembered a shelter from suffering, giving him strength enough to keep going. It had been the only time he'd felt human his entire time as Ishtar's prisoner. *I owe him -- *

*You owe nothing!* Malek cut into the half-formed thought, firmly. *He used you for his own purposes.*

*So did you,* Asheron snapped at him, knowing it wasn't a fair comparison, but he was too anxious to control his thoughts. *You both wanted her dead. And you never tried to stop her.* Malek stirred as though he would object to that, but Asheron concentrated on their running, to put as much distance between him and his memories as he could. He remembered too much that was better left forgotten, and it was all clawing at the back of his mind, trying to get out. *We should never have come here.*

Malek kindly didn't point out that it had been Asheron's idea and just kept running through the trees. The sky was brightening, and Asheron saw it with worry. They weren't going to have much hope of getting through the chappa'ai after the sun rose.

Now racing both the Jaffa and the sun, Malek ran as fast as he could, straight for the Stargate. Asheron stayed quiet to let him focus.

Malek slowed only at the edge of the broad field around the chappa'ai to check if the Jaffa were waiting. There were only the usual two guards, and Malek fired his staff weapon at them both, before either of them had time to lift theirs. Malek ran for the dialing device and began hitting the buttons for one of their transfer worlds. Asheron was fully aware that their back was to the other Jaffa, who were coming up behind them, and he expected to get hit at any moment.

The sky was now light, and through the circle the tree line was turning golden with the coming sun.

Malek put his hand down on the activator and was already near the steps when the wormhole opened. He heard the sounds of staff weapons firing behind him as he leaped the steps, and two blasts hit the event horizon on either side of him. Everything abruptly turned bright, as the sun rose behind the Stargate.

With the sun now in their eyes, the Jaffa couldn't aim accurately and none of the blasts got close enough.

Malek ran into the wormhole, and they left Saphon behind.


Four

... stand still, my little king. Is it so difficult? Be still...

Asheron's eyes snapped open, unable to figure out where he was for a moment. The feel of warmth beside him sent a surge of panic through him, believing he'd fallen asleep in Ishtar's bed.

But it wasn't Ishtar's bed. It was his own in the hotel. He was back in Naritania, and Sam was there beside him. Not Ishtar. He took a moment, to slow his breathing and racing heart, trying to calm down. Sam was facing him, peacefully asleep. He reached out to touch her, but pulled his hand back, unwillng to risk waking her. She'd had a difficult night, and they'd both admitted they felt more than they had ever expected for each other.

He crept out of the bed, relieved when she didn't stir. He found his pants and shirt, put them on in the bathroom and went out to the balcony.

It was still dark out and cold enough that he shivered, but not cold enough to force him back inside for a jacket. The stars were veiled by low clouds, glowing faintly from the streetlamps. At first he thought no one was awake at all, but then the tantalizing aroma of baking bread teased his nose. Bread and rolls, and ... the faintest hint of the spice fruit used in shekhar cakes. His mother had loved those little cakes with her tea.

*Brooding?* Malek asked, teasing gently.

*How can I do this?* His hands tightened on the railing, gaze fixed on the western horizon. Thankfully the balcony didn't face the east and the grand temple. *I shouldn't make promises to Sam that I don't know I can keep.*

Malek reminded him, *She is damaged in her own way. And it is her choice.*

*Is it? When there's so much she doesn't know?* There was so much he would never be able to tell her. There simply weren't words enough to explain. He let out a groan and lowered his head to rest on his hands. *I hate being here. I hate what it's doing to me.*

*We will find the queen and return to Earth,* Malek promised, reassuring him. *We will stay no longer than we must.*

But Asheron wondered whether leaving the planet would be enough. Would it all stay in the past where it belonged? He hadn't had a nightmare about Ishtar in more than a dozen years, and now he was having them every night. He'd been aware of Ishtar's ghostly presence in his mind, even while making love to Sam. He'd tried to focus on what he was doing, but Ishtar had lingered, reminding him of the consequences of failing to please her. He'd felt nauseous even while Sam was coaxing him to release. He was sure he'd covered it well enough that she hadn't noticed, but it made him feel defiled, as though Ishtar was actually there in bed with them. Hopefully when they left the planet, that feeling would go away.

The dark was fading, and light was slowly filtering in across the city, moving westward across the gardens. As the sky brightened and the sun rose, the balcony remained in shadow.


Five


He awoke reluctanty, aware that he wasn't going to like where he was.

*No, you will not. We are prisoners,* Malek informed him.

He shifted position, feeling uncomfortable and achy, and realized he was tied up. His hands were manacled together around a metal bar over his head. It was just at the right height that his bare toes touched the ground, but he couldn't put his feet flat. His shirt was gone. *What happened? he started to ask, then remembered. The Jaffa had come on the ship, in the wake of Dakara. The Jaffa master Gerak hadn't believed he was a Tok'ra, and had his troops beat him unconscious. Malek had been busy healing up the bruises, but he wasn't finished yet, which told him he hadn't been out long.

*Where are we?* he asked finally. There wasn't much to give him a hint. The room was surprisingly spacious what he could see -- three meters square, but entirely empty. The walls and floor were the same, uniform grey cement. There was a closed door direcly in front of him, and a single dim panel overhead provided light. It could be a cell anywhere.

*Somewhere on Dakara,* Malek answered.

Asheron let out a short breath of relief. *Then we just need to wait until Teal'c, Rak'nor, or Bra'tac can identify us and tell Gerak that we are truly Tok'ra.* But Malek was not sharing his hope. The only feeling in the symbiote was muted anxiety. Asheron prompted, *What?*

*We are deep underground,* Malek told him. *Only those of Gerak's personal guard appear to know we are here. He has already threatened me with torture and death unless I reveal the location of 'my master',* Malek snarled the last word in disgust.

*But we are allies!* Asheron complained, but he was not surprised. The Jaffa were always eager to believe the worst of the Tok'ra, and this Jaffa master seemed unwilling to believe the Tok'ra still existed.

Asheron's chest felt heavy and tight with growing dread. Gerak was never going to believe Asheron didn't know. He tugged on the manacles without much hope. The metal was snug on both wrists, and the chains seemed strong.

*I already attempted to free us,* Malek said. Asheron tried anyway, twisting and pulling at the wrist that seemed slightly looser than the other, but he hadn't achieved anything when the door opened. The tall Jaffa master with the lugubrious voice swept in, a look of pure hatred and vicious satisfaction in his dark eyes as he led four Jaffa warriors into the room. The orange light from the corridor outside streamed in, making him blink until his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness.

Gerak was carrying a sha'nik stick, and held it up in one hand. White lightning jumped from one prong to another, making the air sizzle. "Where did your cowardly master flee, Goa'uld?"

Asheron's eyes were fixed on the very familiar torture stick, horror a cold weight in his gut. All his mistakes had led right here, back to this place.

*Go, Asheron,* Malek pleaded. *Let me protect you as long as I can.* Aloud, he answered in a clear, steady voice, "I don't know. I would tell you -- "

Gerak closed the distance between them and threatened, "I have no sarcophagus, so I will not kill you, Goa'uld. Not for a very long time. Tell me ... the truth, and you will die quickly. Where is Baal?"

*This is my doing, not yours. You shouldn't pay the price for choices I made,* Asheron protested, as Malek nudged him away from consciousness.

*I could not help you before we met, but this I will. Stay safe.* Malek folded the darkness around him, so he wouldn't see or feel what was about to happen.

The last thing he saw was the glow of the prongs through his eyelids, shining like the morning sun.



-
 
 
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
 
 
 
Telstelscha on October 13th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
wow.
Thank you. Those were great :)
lizardbeth: Maleklizardbeth_j on October 13th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
Thank you. Again. :)
Hopefully better in the final draft than that middle version you peeked at. Well, okay, not that different, except for not cutting off in mid-sentence. :)