Chapter 8 summary: Sam and Martouf/Lantash are safe - for now, at least - in a hut they have found in the forest. The trees have surrounded the place, making it impossible for the people inside the hut to leave. As if that was not bad enough, Martouf and Lantash's hallucinations are getting worse.


[ Chapter 1: Pain, Sorrow, and Joy | Chapter 2: Escape and Rescue | Chapter 3: A Pleasant Surprise | Chapter 4: Escaping Together | Chapter 5: Waiting for News | Chapter 6: Lurking Danger | Chapter 7: Hallucinations | Chapter 8: Uncontrollable Emotions | Chapter 9: Happier Times | Chapter 10: They are not Gods | Chapter 11: The Trees of the Forest | Chapter 12: Collision Course | Chapter 13: Travel | Chapter 14: Enemies at the Gate and Land of the Light | Chapter 15: Another Option | Chapter 16: Undercover | Chapter 17: Going Home ]

"You wanna take first watch or shall I?" Sam asked, cutting off slices of bread to eat with some of the deer meat. They had just under one loaf left, then they would have to bake some from the flour they had found.

Martouf had mixed flour and warm water in a jar, then put it aside, saying they should 'feed it' more flour and tepid water every day for about a week, maybe less, since he had added a little honey which apparently was supposed to make the sourdough develop faster. It could then be used instead of yeast. Sam remembered her grandmother having had a jar of a slightly disgusting stuff, which she praised as 'Aunt Johanna's sourdough'.

"Watch?" Martouf wondered, putting down the sandwich he had just made out of bread and meat. "What should we watch?"

Sam almost groaned. "The trees, of course!"

Martouf looked at her, confused. He took a bite of the sandwich and slowly chewed it, either thinking her statement over, or discussing it with Lantash. He took another bite, then followed it with a large drink of water. His expression cleared. "Ah. Those trees. Yeah, we should watch them." He suddenly got a scared expression. "The trees! No one is watching them! They'll get us!" He scrambled for his zat'nik'tel - then the hand device lying nearby.

Sam intercepted him, grabbing the hand device and putting a hand on his arm. "I think it's my turn to guard against the trees. You should get something to eat." She got up and was about to leave the room.

"Samantha! Don't leave me!" Martouf begged.

"Martouf...I'm not leaving you. I'm just going to go keep an eye on those trees, remember?"

"Of course I remember! Why would I not?" He looked insulted. "Wait, you need to open the windows to do that, right?"

"Yes, those that don't have glass panes. I can't see through animal hide." She smiled reassuringly. "I will be careful. Don't worry."

He nodded, and eventually returned to his sandwich.

"I've checked in all directions. The trees are still out there, flocking around the edge of this clearing, but they haven't come any closer." She smiled, sitting down to grab the food she had not had time to eat before. "I think we're good."

"You are very good, I am sure." Lantash smiled, a look of worship - and lust - in his eyes. "And so very, very beautiful. Samantha, I love you so much!"

"Eh, thanks, Lantash." She smiled, awkwardly, not certain how to react. 

"Do you think you can ever come to feel anything for me, or do I disgust you?" Lantash asked, looking heart-broken. "I will agree to never take control whenever you are with Martouf, if that will make you accept him, but I will not leave him. He does not wish it, and neither do I."

"Lantash! I...I would never consider a relationship with Martouf, if I did not also want you. Of course, you don't disgust me! You''re a sweet and wonderful person."

"I the tunnels, before, when saw my natural form. I thought...maybe that was why you barely reacted when Elliot told you of my feelings for you." He looked at her, tears in his eyes. "He told you the truth. I do love you - as much as I loved Jolinar...and so does Martouf."

This declaration of love was not something Sam had expected, not at a time like this - nor did she know how to react. Part of her screamed at her that this was the time to tell them of her feelings - last time she had worked up the courage, that damn plant had attacked them just as she was telling him. Clearly, he had not heard her then.

"Lantash..." She swallowed. "I am very flattered, and..."

"And you don't feel anything for me - for either of us. I'm an idiot for thinking you might." Lantash swiped the tears from his eyes, looking at her angrily. "How dare you break our hearts? Mine...well, I can accept that, but you will not cause Martouf pain! Don't you realise how fragile he is? After losing Rosha, and Jolinar, and...and..." He got up from the table and stormed out of the room. She heard the door to the outside slam after them moments later.

Damn! Why did he not wait until she had time to tell him how she felt? She felt like kicking herself. Why had she not just told him immediately, instead of trying to find a better way of telling him? Instead of being afraid to tell him? Now he thought she hated him, and he was out there, with the...trees! Oh, no.

She looked at the table. Both zat'nik'tels and the hand device was lying there. So he did not even bring a weapon! She snatched one of the zat'nik'tels and ran after him, as fast as she could.

"Lantash!" She called out, frantically looking in all directions for him. She spotted him almost at the edge of the clearing, running towards the trees. "Stop!" She ran towards him.

He halted in his steps and turned towards her. "I am doing what is best. There will be more food for you if the trees eat me and Martouf, and you will not have to concern yourself with us. We both agree. You do not love us - and this will end our pain."

"Don't be ridiculous! I never said I didn't love you! I do love you, both of you!" Sam cried, desperately.

"You do?" Lantash took a few steps towards her. "Martouf thinks you are only saying you love us, so that we will not allow the trees eat us."

"That is not true! Besides, if I didn't care about you, why would I care if the trees got you?"

"True." Lantash looked thoughtful. "I do not believe it would be because you enjoy watching us suffer, and you are strong enough to survive here on your own, until the owners of the hut return..."

Sam had reached him by now, and she grabbed a firm hold of his arm, dragging him towards the hut. He followed, not putting up a fight, but not saying anything either. She really hoped that poison stopped working in him soon, because she was not sure how much more of this she could take.

She got them inside the house again, and locked and bolted the door after them, taking the key and putting it in her pocket. She then took his zat'nik'tel and hand device, and went into the bed room, hiding them there. She considered taking the knives as well, but there were knives in the kitchen which were needed, and she could not hide all weapons from him. She would just have to do her best to convince him not to try to kill himself.

Meanwhile, Lantash sat down by the kitchen table again, slowly munching on the rest of his food. Sam joined him a few moments later.

He looked up, a look of anguish on his face. "I am sorry for my behaviour, Samantha. The poison got the better of me - of both of us - again. I apologize for failing both you and Martouf."

"Don't worry about it, Lantash. It's not your fault." She felt relieved. Despite the anguish, he seemed to be himself again. "Do you remember what happened?"

"Some of it. I tried to kill myself and Martouf by letting the trees eat us." He looked shameful. "I promise you, it will not happen again."

"I'm glad to hear that. You gave me quiet a scare." She smiled at him, putting her hand on his and squeezing it gently.

"Jacob - welcome back. Did you find out anything new?" Hammond greeted his friend.

"Nothing new about Sam, except that Zipacna still hasn't caught anyone. Unfortunately, Ren'al was killed during the attack on Revanna, but some of the members of her team survived, and they admitted they kept Martouf's body in stasis, in case they wanted to do any further examinations, after it was decided nothing further would probably be learned."

"Don't you have any kind of funeral rites for the former hosts?" Daniel asked, having just come into the gateroom together with O'Neill and Teal'c.

"We do." Jacob nodded. "The body is covered with a blanket and placed on a platform in front of a Stargate, which is then activated. The unstable wormhole destroys the remains. However, the Tok'ra don't have any kind of 'viewing' of the corpse - it remains covered during the entire ceremony."

"So no one saw if there even was a body? They could just have placed a doll or something on the platform, and no one would have been the wiser?"

"True," Jacob admitted.

"That's...some deception there." Daniel looked shocked.

"Just what you'd expect from the treasonous snakes!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"It does seem a dishonest - and degrading - thing to do." Hammond said.

Jacob bowed his head, giving Selmak control.

"I agree, but you must not think this was sanctioned by the Council, nor that a majority of the Tok'ra agreed with it. Only Ren'al, her team - and Delek - knew. A few of the others may agree with their reasoning, but most find it shocking anyone would do something like this, despite the situation we are in. Martouf and Lantash were well liked, and many have been grieving their loss." Selmak sighed. "We learned something else, which is even more disturbing than this deception, something which it shames me having to admit any Tok'ra could do."

"Must be bad if you're telling us...not that anything would surprise me..." O'Neill mumbled, and Daniel elbowed him to keep him quiet.

Selmak looked at him, her expression stern. "It is, but despite your dislike for our kind, this is not something acceptable to the Tok'ra. It is, in fact, against everything we believe in."

"What did you learn?" Hammond asked.

Jacob took over control, apparently feeling the reaction towards him, in response to what he was about to say, would not be as severe as towards Selmak, if she were the one to tell them.

"Ren'al, and the group of scientists working with her, informed the Council that Martouf was more severely injured than he was, and that the probability of Lantash healing him was remote. They also told us Lantash was badly wounded. This, combined with the need to examine the brain of someone who had been programmed as a zatarc - and the recent loss of Tok'ra lives - meant the Council agreed on something they would normally not. Lantash was to be removed from Martouf, instead of letting him try to heal them both, and then Lantash should be allowed to recover in a healing chamber, if possible, while Martouf should be examined for possible clues about the brainwashing."

Daniel frowned. "Yes?"

"It was not an easy decision, and it dragged out for many months, before the decision was made. From Si'thakka, one of the scientists in Ren'al's group, we learned that some information was kept from us....and some was exaggerated, at the very least. Martouf was not so badly wounded that Lantash would not have been able to heal him, and Lantash himself was barely injured at all."

"They lied," Teal'c concluded.

"But, Lantash was still weak from his injuries when he took Elliot as his host, so how could that be, then?" Daniel wondered.

Jacob took a deep breath. "He sustained the majority of his injuries when they removed him from Martouf - because he fought them, rather passionately. He did not want to leave him. I think the only reason they succeeded at all, was because he did not wish to risk further aggravating Martouf's injuries." He rubbed his forehead. "Removing a symbiote from a willing host - when the symbiote does not wish to leave, and the host will probably die without is an unforgivable crime."

"Yet they did it," O'Neill pointed out, though there was no sarcasm in his voice this time.

"They did, and those who are not dead will be punished severely for it. Steps will be taken to assure that it cannot happen again, no matter the situation, and no matter how badly someone feels it is needed in order to achieve some goal. It is pure luck that both Martouf and Lantash were brought back to life - and are together again. Now we must hope fate will let them - and Sam - escape Zipacna's clutches."

Sam yawned as she came out from the washing room, wearing a nightgown she had found in a drawer in the bedroom. She vigorously rubbed her hair with a towel, trying to get it to dry quickly, so that she could get to bed. She was quite tired after everything that had happened that day - fetching firewood, guarding against murderous plants - and keeping an eye on Martouf and Lantash.

They had not tried to kill themselves or do anything else stupid for the rest of the day, but they had had two further 'episodes'. She had noticed that - unless they were angry or desolate - they had begun to become more...amorous.

If the situation had been different, she would have enjoyed their advances, but as it was, she felt it would be wrong to allow anything to develop between them. Later, certainly, if they made it out of here alive, but not while they were so obviously not themselves.

"Martouf - the washing room is vacant now, and there is plenty of warm water in the cauldron, if you want to clean up."

"Thank you, Samantha." He ogled her, letting his eyes run over her body. Her nightgown was relatively modest, but it still showed much more flesh than what she usually wore. "Are you sure you would not like to accompany us?"

"Thanks, I just washed." She smiled at him.

"Oh, but you are very welcome to help Lantash and me get clean. We would enjoy it if you would do so." His eyes shone, and he smiled mischievously.

"I think I'll pass. I'm really tired. Maybe another day." She turned to go to the bedroom, when Martouf suddenly grabbed her arm and pulled her to him.

"You're not going to leave without giving me a kiss first, are you? My sweet Samantha..." Lantash said, having obviously taken over control from Martouf. He pressed her close to him and their lips met.

He kissed her slowly, and very thoroughly. When they finally broke for air, Sam was feeling light-headed and slightly dizzy. She discovered she had thrown her arms around him as well, and she enjoyed the feeling of his very hard erection pressing against her.

They were about to kiss again, when they both jumped from the sound of something scraping against the window in the room. Sam ran for her zat'nik'tel, and joined Lantash who had already reached the window, armed with a fire poker.

They gazed outside, but despite the moon light they saw nothing which could have made the sound. Then the scratching noise returned, and they saw what it was - a piece of thin rope, connected to the clothesline that ran from the side of the hut to a rod secured some distance away. The wind had picked up some, and it was fluttering, now and then hitting the window.

Relieved, they nonetheless took an extra look at what they could see from the window, but nothing moved outside except the wind - at least not close enough for them to see.

The window shutters could be closed from the inside, by an elaborate puller system, and they quickly did that - for all the windows. Why they had not done so earlier, Sam had no idea. That should prevent the trees from breaking in, even if they decided to expose themselves to the alkaline soil.

"Well, go take your bath." Sam touched Lantash's shoulder. "I don't think we're in any danger."

"I agree," Lantash said. He gave her an embarrassed glance. He was lucid again, but he did remember some of his behaviour. Well, Sam had not been angry at his forwardness - and she had not pushed him away when he had kissed her.

Relieved - and pleased, he went to wash and prepare for bed.

Chapter 9: Happier Times