"I just wanted to thank you for that massage again. My back feels better now than it has since we arrived here. I guess it's partly been all the stress."
Jack glanced in Sam's direction and nodded. "Like I said, any time."
"I'll hold you to that."
Jack dug his spoon into his cereal and lifted a heaping spoonful up. "You seen Bonnie around lately?" he asked before shovelling the load into his mouth.
"No, I haven't seen her for a couple of days now. I hope she's alright."
Jack picked up his bowl and drained the last bit of milk into his mouth. He put the bowl down and wiped his lips. "Maybe you should pay her visit?"
Sam picked up Jack's bowl and headed for the dishwasher. "Yeah, maybe I will. Just make sure that she's okay."
After Sam had loaded the dishwasher and Jack had headed back out to resume his job search, Sam slipped on her sandals and headed down the street for Bonnie's house. She stepped up to the door and rang the bell. Sam waited two minutes before ringing the bell again and hearing heavy footsteps inside the house. The door swung open to reveal Bonnie, with stringy greasy hair, in a robe, wiping her nose with a tissue. Sam frowned.
Bonnie blew her nose loudly. "Hi Lisa." she said, sounding absolutely terrible.
"Got a cold?" Sam asked, stating the obvious.
"Yes, I feel horrible, like someone keeps hammering my head."
"I just came by to see how you're doing. I hadn't seen you for a few days now."
Bonnie pushed back a limp lock of hair. "I haven't been out of the house in three days now. I just don't have the energy any more."
"Have you seen a doctor? This cold sounds pretty serious."
"No, no. I'll be fine. It'll pass on its own. Besides, there is no cure for the cold." Bonnie replied, trying to sound light-hearted.
"There could be complications though Bonnie. Pneumonia for one." Sam said. "Stan has a nasty cold too."
"Must be going around then. Really Lisa, I'll be fine! In fact, I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday." Bonnie tried to smile, but it must have hurt her head.
Sam eyed Bonnie critically and finally nodded. "Alright, but if you need anything, just give me a call."
"I will Lisa. Thank you for your concern."
Bonnie shut the door and Sam walked back out to the sidewalk. It was another warm day, though summer was coming to an end. The street was totally silent, which wasn't unusual. Sam had seen the owners of the other houses, but hadn't exchanged more than a half-hearted wave with any of them. They all appeared to be at work.
Once Sam reached her own house, she paused and looked across the street at Stan's place. It felt strange not to see him out working on his lawn. She hesitated a moment before crossing the street and ringing Stan's doorbell.
Sam rang the bell five times with no answer. Stan's old beater was parked in front of the house, and if he was as sick as Jack had claimed him to be, there was no way that he'd gone for a walk. Sam grabbed the doorknob and tried to turn it but the door was locked. Making a decision, Sam went back across the street and rummaged through her night table drawer.
Roughly five minutes later, Sam returned to Stan's door with her lock picking kit in hand. She knew what she was about to do was illegal, but she was worried about Stan. She didn't know why she felt that she could trust him, but she just did.
Sam fiddled around with the lock for a moment before it clicked and Sam opened the door. "Hello?" she called as she stepped into the darkened house.
A strong smell permeated the house. A combination of garbage and human excrement. Sam grimaced and tried not to breathe through her nose. "Hello?" she called again, this time louder.
A faint groan answered her hails and Sam tracked the noise to a bedroom on the upper level. She pushed open the door, which was partly ajar and looked at the scene that greeted her. Stan lay curled up on the floor, surrounded by his own waste. Sam fought back the bile that was threatening to rise up.
"Oh my God..." she breathed. "Stan!"
Sam knelt down at Stan's side and pressed a finger to his carotid artery. His pulse was weak and thready. "Stan? Can you hear me?"
Stan's eyes rolled in Sam's direction. "Lisa." he said weakly.
"I'm going to call an ambulance."
"No!" he said with as much force as he muster. "No ambulance. They must not know."
"Know what Stan? Tell me."
"What I am."
Sam put a hand on Stan's cheek. It felt cool and clammy. Mucus was streaming from his nose down his other cheek and Sam found a tissue and wiped it off. "Tell me Stan. I understand."
"I know." he said, his voice cracking. "You're special too. I could feel it."
"Do you know who I am?"
"You're Lisa Callaghan." Stan replied.
"No, who I really am. Why I'm here."
"You were like me once. You came here to kill me. But you did not. Now, someone else has."
"How did they do this to you Stan? How?"
"Must have been a specifically engineered virus. Need one to get past the symbiont."
"I was right then. Who did this to you?"
Sam shifted positions slightly to relieve some of the pressure on her knees from kneeling down so long. "Who are The Others?"
"They are allies. Not of us, but of the System Lords."
"Us? Stan, you're Tok'ra?"
"Stan nodded, his eyes rolling towards the back of his head. "I am."
"Tell me, do you know Selmak?"
"Selmak. Of course."
"My father is her host."
Stan looked mildly confused. "Selmak. She has a female host."
"Oh my God..." Sam looked at Stan with her eyes wide. "How long have you been here?"
"On Earth? For ten of your years. I move from place to place."
Sam looked at Stan incredulously. "That's amazing." she said. "And you were sent here to stop The Others?"
Stan tried to move his arm but failed. "Yes. They are here as well. They and the System Lords, have evil plans."
Sam nodded, she was beginning to understand now. "Stan? When you took Charles out to play baseball and then to the pub, he would always come home with what seemed like the worst hang over in history. What did you put in his drinks?"
"Protection? From what?"
"The Others. I knew he was special. Not like you. But special."
Stan groaned again and closed his eyes. "Stan! You have to stay with me here!" Sam said, a note of panic in her voice.
"I will try." he replied weakly, not opening his eyes.
"We killed one of these Others." Sam said.
"They cannot be killed."
Sam raised an eyebrow. "But he shot himself. He was dead, we buried him!"
"He was 'faking it' as you humans say."
"Oh God. Before he tried to kill me, he said that he couldn't kill you himself. He needed us to do it. Obviously he didn't mean that."
"What he meant...was that he could not kill me with his own hands. It goes against their religion."
"Their religion? It goes against their religion?" Sam felt like laughing. That statement was so utterly ridiculous. "They have no qualms about helping the Goa'uld wipe out the human race, but they can't kill a man with their own hands?"
Stan nodded. "Return the favour." he said slowly. "Tell me. Who are you?"
"Major Samantha Carter. United States Air Force. I work at the SGC. The Stargate."
"I'm not Tok'ra Stan. My father is."
"You are special."
"I was once host to a Tok'ra named Jolinar. She sacrificed herself so that I could live."
Stan smiled weakly. "I knew Jolinar." he said.
"She was very brave."
Stan drew in a deep breath and exhaled noisily. "You must stop them."
Sam felt tears prick her eyes. "We'll try. I think that The Others have infiltrated our government though, it won't be easy."
"You will try."
"Yes Stan, we'll try. We'll try our hardest."
Stan smiled again and drew in another breath. He exhaled then his body seemed to relax. Sam watched him, a tear trickling down her cheek. "Bye Stan." she said softly and picked herself up.
Sam was sitting curled up in the chair when Jack came through the door. Sam lifted her head and gazed sadly at Jack as he entered the living room. "What's wrong? It looks like someone ran over your dog." Jack said, settling himself down on the sofa.
"Stan's dead." Sam said simply.
"Dead. He died this morning. I was there with him."
"That cold he had killed him?"
"It was specifically engineered virus designed to do just that."
"Wow." was all Jack said.
"I didn't know what to do with the body, so...he's still in his bedroom. On the floor."
"Who engineered the virus that killed him?"
Sam took a deep breath and proceeded to tell Jack all that Stan had told her. Jack listened intently, nodding as she went along.
"So, Stan was Tok'ra all along." Jack said once Sam finished her tale.
"Yes, and now he's a dead Tok'ra."
Jack scrunched his brows together. "So, he was protecting me every time we went to the bar?"
"That's what he said, and that would explain that unknown compound that Janet found in your blood."
"He must have given it to Daniel as well. That's probably why he was so intent on asking us if we smoked, maybe the compound reacts with the nicotine or something."
"Could be. Think about it though Jack, if Janet could synthesize more of this compound, we could protect a lot more people from these Others than Stan spoke of."
"Getting ahold of that virus could be useful too." Jack added. "If it can kill Tok'ra, then it can kill Goa'ulds."
"We'd have to be careful with though." Sam said. "We don't want to kill any more Tok'ra. And besides, who knows if the virus is still in Stan's bloodstream. If the designers were smart, they would have it break down so that no one could get their hands on it."
"We need to talk to the General." Jack said, standing up. "I'll ask him not to pass anything onto the President. He'll understand."
Jack stood at the window, watching as a truck pulled up in front of Stan's house. Several men got out and ran up the walk. They were wearing full haz-mat suits. It was the middle of the night and so far none of the neighbours had turned on their porch lights and come out to watch. Jack considered that a stroke of luck.
"From what I can determine Sam, you're in perfect health."
Jack turned around and looked at Sam and Janet. Janet had been insistent that Sam have a full checkup, just be safe. She had, after all, once been a host to Goa'uld, and the virus could work with the naquada in her system.
In the twelve hours since Jack had called General Hammond, a team had been dispatched to retrieve, study and dispose of Stan's body and Janet had arrived, bringing with her an entire laboratory of equipment.
"This is unbelievable." Janet said, referring to the situation as Sam had explained it to her. "I mean, I knew when I tested that dog's blood that you were onto something big. I just had no idea how big it really is."
"Do you think it's likely that any of the virus has managed to survive in Stan's body?" Sam asked.
Janet shook her head. "If this were a natural virus, most likely yes. Seeing as this virus was manufactured by someone - or something - it's unlikely that we'll find anything. However, I have made some progress on determining the components of that compound that was in your blood Colonel."
"Do you think that you could synthesize more of it?" Jack asked.
"It's very complex sir. I'll need to get a team working on it. I can't do it by myself."
"We can't trust anyone else Janet! If you tell the General that you need a team of scientists, the government would probably send us a group of those aliens!" Sam exclaimed.
"That's a possibility, but unfortunately, there's not many stationed at the SGC right now who are qualified to deal with something like this."
"Those aliens might even be at the SGC for all we know." commented Jack. He turned around and faced the window again. The haz-mat team was now loading the body, wrapped in multiple layers of plastic, into the back of their truck. Several of the men were returning to house with spray tanks strapped to their backs. The clean-up crew no doubt.
Jack had no idea how the sudden disappearance of Stan would be explained, but that's wasn't up to him. For that he was eternally gratefully.
"Sam?" Jack said, turning around again. "Didn't you say that Bonnie was sick?"
"Yes. When I stopped by there this morning, or rather yesterday morning, she said she had a cold. She looked terrible. You don't think that..."
Jack pursed his lips. "You never know."
"But I haven't gotten any feelings from her. I'd know if she was Goa'uld!" Sam protested.
Janet stood up. “It’s worth a look into Sam. Let's get over there now."
The trio headed out the door and into the dark night.
"Bonnie!" Sam yelled, banging on the door. "Bonnie, if you're in there, answer the door!"
Jack and Janet stood behind Sam as she pounded on the door. The haz-mat team's truck crept down the street behind them, taking the body of Stanley La Grupa to an unknown facility.
Bonnie answered the door bleary eyed and confused. "Lisa?" she asked, staring at Sam. "What are you doing here? It's two in the morning!"
"How are you feeling Bonnie?" Janet asked.
"Raylene? Is that you?"
Janet nodded. "Yeah, it's me. How are you? Lisa said that you had a cold?"
Bonnie sniffled. "I was feeling better. I was finally getting a good night's sleep, that was until you started banging on my door."
"Do you mind if I take a look at you?" Janet asked, stepping closer.
Bonnie narrowed her eyes. "Why? Why do you want to take a look at me? Why are you three standing of my front step at two in the morning?"
"Because we have reason to believe that you might not be who you say you are." Jack said.
"What are you talking about?"
"Have you any contact with Stan recently?" Janet asked.
"I talked to him about four days ago, I guess. He was out trimming his bushes and I stopped by and said hi. That's all. I haven't been kissing him or anything."
Janet nodded, committing this information to memory. She held up the bag that she held in her hand. "Do you mind if I do a small examination on you?"
"Are you a doctor or something? Is Stan really sick?"
"Something like that." Janet muttered. "Do you mind?"
Bonnie looked frightened but stepped aside and let the trio in. Bonnie led them into the living room and turned an end table light on. Janet sat down on the couch and patted the cushion beside her. Bonnie cast a nervous glance at Sam. Sam nodded and Bonnie sat down.
Janet opened up her bag and took out a stethoscope. Sam and Jack sat on the loveseat and watched as Bonnie breathed deeply as instructed by Janet.
"I'm going to examine your neck now Bonnie. My fingers might be a little cold."
Janet put her hands on the back of Bonnie's neck and probed gently. Bonnie sneezed. "Bless you." supplied Jack.
Janet took a thermometer out of her bag and put the wand in Bonnie's ear. "You're running a slight fever." she said.
"I could have told you that."
"Do you mind if I draw some blood?"
Bonnie's eyes widened. "Draw some blood? Do you really need to?"
"It would be helpful."
Bonnie drew in a shaky breath. "I just have a terrible needle phobia."
"I'll be gentle." Janet took out a rubber band and wrapped it around Bonnie's arm. She then swabbed a small area with alcohol and plunged a needle in. Bonnie paled.
"Try to breath normally." Janet said, recognizing that her patient was about to pass out. The syringe filled with blood and Janet pulled the needle out. "All done." she said cheerfully.
Sam and Jack stood up. "Try to get some rest now Bonnie. Thank you for your co-operation." Janet said and the trio left the house. Bonnie watched them go and rubbed the sore spot on her arm. Something strange was going on here, she decided and went back to bed.