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24 December 2005 @ 08:49 pm
Fic: Meeting Old Friends  
by lizardbeth

Summary: Jacob Carter finds out there's more to "after" than he ever imagined.

Spoilers: Post-'Threads'.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and all its characters are copyright of Sony/MGM.

Note: This story was finished in a hurry for Christmas. It'll likely get revised later.
(and yes, this is the same story as went to the Tok'ra list)

Jacob Carter pushed open the door, unsure what exactly was going on.
He'd thought he was dying, things had started to get dark, and then ...
strangely he was here.

Wherever "here" was. It looked like a diner. Or maybe a pancake house.
Quite a bit like that waffle house on that weird show about dead people
he'd seen at Sam's place last year, come to think of it.

There were a few customers, bent over their newspapers or talking quietly
among themselves. A few glanced at him, then turned back to whatever
they'd been doing.

He hesitated, unsure of what to do. A uniformed woman behind the
counter saw him and called, "Seat yourself, wherever you want, hon.
Be with you in a sec."

There was an empty booth by the window and he slid into it. There was
a discarded newspaper on the table and he pulled it toward him,
half-expecting it to be unreadable. wasn't it supposedly impossible
to read things in dreams? But no, he could read it just fine,
although that didn't make it seem like he was any less dreaming.
Something about "the Wraith", whatever they were, was on the front
page, and a little box in the corner said the obituary for Anubis was
on page three.

Jacob was tempted to look and then shoved the paper away. This was a
dream. One last dying dream that was all before he joined Selmak.
Sel was gone. He put his head in his hands and just rested there,
feeling the grief of Sel's passing as a stabbing ache. His only
comfort was knowing that it would be over soon.

"Jacob?" a familiar voice quietly, but suddenly, interjected itself
into his sorrow and he raised his head curiously.

He stared at the man.

Martouf. It was Martouf, looking exactly the same as the day he had died.

"You're dead," he pointed out.

Martouf smiled that same wide smile Jacob remembered so well and slid
into the opposite bench seat. "So are you. Or at least mostly."

"Mostly?" Jacob repeated. "Mostly dead? Isn't that like being a
little bit pregnant?"

Martouf chuckled, but before he could answer, the waitress came up to
them. "You want your usual?" she asked Martouf, who just nodded, and
she looked at Jacob. "And for you?"

"Um, coffee?" he requested tentatively.

She patted his shoulder once, and the touch seemed more comforting
than it ought to be. "No problem, hon. Anything to eat?"

"Not right now, thanks," he answered, hating the way he was feeling so
unbalanced. But he had the distinct impression this was not a dream.

When she'd gone, he looked at Martouf. "Where are we? Is Lantash
with you?"

Martouf shook his head once, and glanced away, expression now clouded.
"No. Egeria's children don't come here, Jacob. They could, I
suppose, but they've sacrificed and suffered for so long, they don't
linger as we do."

Jacob began to get a cold feeling he knew what was going on. "So
you're telling me we're stuck in purgatory?" At Martouf's blank look,
Jacob amended, "A sort of in-between place after death."

"As I understand it, we're not exactly dead," Martouf corrected.
"We're Ascended, or we would be if something weren't keeping us here,
still connected to our past existence. But yes, it is an in-between
place. And here, we have to choose, whether to go upward and accept
Ascension, or back to our bodies."

"And if we go back?"

"We return to our bodies just before death," Martouf answered. "And
go to whatever fate, if any, we may have afterward. If you believe in
such things."

Jacob lifted his brows curiously. He had never discussed religious
beliefs with Martouf. In fact, they had never even discussed what
Martouf's original homeworld was. Jacob had the impression that
either it didn't matter to Martouf anymore after so long away, or it
was deeply painful and personal. Either way, it wasn't something he
had felt comfortable discussing, and then, of course, it was too late
and Martouf was gone. "You don't?"

Martouf shook his head. "My people believed that when we died our
souls would be delivered to Morrigan, who would choose whether we went
to her golden palace or the dark swamp of her hell." He chuckled, a
little bitterly. "Being Tok'ra disabused me of that notion."

The waitress returned with a glass of pinkish juice for Martouf and
coffee for Jacob.

After she poured the coffee, she looked from one to the other,
settling on Jacob, "Try not to take as long as this one, hm? He's
running quite a tab." She smiled at Martouf, clearly teasing him, and
left again.

"You've been here since you .. died?" Jacob asked. "What was that?
Four, five years ago now?"

Martouf shrugged. "Time is irrelevant here."

"So if you can't go back," Jacob asked, frowning in confusion. "Why
not just go on?"

"Because Ascension means you cease to care about those you leave
behind," Martouf said sharply. He crossed his arms and looked away.
In a more moderate tone, he added, "I am sorry. But it angers me. It
seems there is little point in existing on a theoretically 'superior'
plane of existence, if in doing so, you are stripped of what I believe
it means to be human. I have seen too much suffering caused by those
who believe themselves to be superior beings, and I do not wish to
become one."

Jacob smiled a little. "You sound like Daniel."

"I saw him when he was here. I don't think he saw me, but I saw him.
And Anubis," he added as an afterthought. "He was disturbing."

"No question. But he's gone now," Jacob said. "And good riddance."

But Martouf didn't smile at the attempted humor. Instead, he looked
down and traced designs in the condensation on his glass. Without
looking up he said in a very low voice, "Jacob, Anubis was not alone."

It was as if a cold hand trailed up his spine. Jacob leaned forward,
over the table, with a frown. "What do you mean?" he murmured. This
had the air of a secret, especially the way Martouf was not raising
his eyes and even turned away from the rest of the room slightly.

"I'm not entirely sure. All I know is from the Others' collective
consciousness," he nodded his chin toward the newspaper. "And they do
not share their deepest secrets. But it is clear there is a group of
them, a sect perhaps, who *do* interfere on the mortal plane. For
thousands of years, the Others' shielded us from them, but they know
of us now. There is nothing to stop them from sending their minions
into our galaxy armed with all the technology and powers the
Ascendants can grant mortals. The Others won't stop them, only the
other Ascendants." He lifted his intense pale eyes, full of deep
worry, to meet Jacob's. "How can I become someone who won't care when
these creatures intend harm to those we love, Jacob? We have already
lost so much to the Goa'uld, must we now stand aside from the
suffering of those we leave behind?"

Jacob couldn't possibly resist the passion in those eyes and replied,
"No, of course not." But the reply was automatic, and it took him a
little while longer to mull over what Martouf had said. It was a
chilling thought – Ascended beings unbound by rules. But then he
frowned. "That hardly seems fair that they get to equip their
followers, and ours don't. Or won't." He snorted. "Not that I'm
surprised I guess -- these are same people who sat on their ass and
let Anubis fiddle around with technology *they* left behind to wipe
out all life in the galaxy. Non-interference apparently means they
don't clean up their messes either."

Martouf flashed a quick smile at the irreverence. But he grew somber
again, too quickly, and took a drink of his juice. "So you understand
my problem."

Jacob nodded. He thought of Sam and Mark, and his grandkids, and
imagined them in danger of more beings like Anubis. Sam certainly
would be -- which was likely one of the reasons Martouf refused to
move on. He wouldn't say so directly, but Jacob knew very well that
Martouf had loved Sam. He'd never abandon Sam in danger, even if
there was nothing Martouf could do about it anymore.

The door to the café opened, letting in a stream of light, attracting
Jacob's attention. He couldn't resist a smile as Aldwin and Yosuuf
entered. The other two sauntered over to their table.

"Welcome, Jacob," Yosuuf greeted with a smile and slid in beside him.

"So you two are here, too?" Jacob asked, as Aldwin sat next to
Martouf. "Get together for coffee everyday or something?"

"Not just we three," Yosuuf corrected and leaned forward. "So far we
have found twenty-two former hosts who also have yet to Ascend."

Jacob's eyebrows went up in amazement, knowing exactly what she was
implying. Apparently Garshaw had really rubbed off on Yosuuf.
"You're running a rebellion? Up here?"

She gave a small shrug and smile. "Not a rebellion. But we need to
gather together if we intend to act."

"And how's that gonna work?" Jacob asked. "Martouf was just telling
me how we *can't* act."

"We will act," she declared simply. "We will intervene. Our
symbiotes will not abandon us, nor those we left behind. We must
gather our numbers and strength, and wait for them."

Jacob opened his mouth to ask how she knew that, but closed it again.
He didn't want to know, and he didn't want to make her lie if she was
making it up.

The door opened again and he looked, to see Gweneth, Kelmaa's last
host, and Freya entered. There was no more room at the table, so the
two women sat in the booth behind them. Jacob exchanged greetings
with them. He was not entirely surprised that three more former
Tok'ra came in soon after.

Jacob looked around and took a deep breath, letting himself relax in
the presence of friends. It was good to see them all again.

His gaze met Martouf's across the table and there was the same
determination in them that Jacob had seen on Netu and other dangerous

Once the dark-hairedwaitress had brought everyone some drinks (with a
knowing wink that suggested she knew very well what they were up to),
Jacob raised his glass. "To being Tok'ra, fighting our enemies
against overwhelming odds, and protecting our friends and family."

Yosuuf added quietly, but strongly enough to be heard by all. "We
will not surrender, not even in death."

They all echoed her. "We will not surrender, not even in death."

In the tunnels, in the middle of council, Malek suddenly raised his
head, sensing …*something*. Across the table, both Delek and Sina

"What was that?" she asked. Delek shook his head once in puzzled

Malek leaned back with a small smile. "I had the strongest feeling
that Jacob Carter and Freya were watching us."

"I thought it was Garshaw," Delek said.

Sina smiled, a little sadly. "I felt Aldwin."

"Maybe it was all of them," Malek suggested. "I find it a very
pleasant feeling, to believe our friends are still watching after us."

Delek snorted in skepticism, but did not say anything.

The council returned to business, but they were all a little
comforted that they were not alone after all.

The end.