Summary: Two warriors meet and reconcile themselves to the changes circumstances have wrought.
Season/Episode: Season Seven
Spoilers: Shades of Grey, Changeling
The door of a nondescript office building swung open and a man in a grey suit emerged. He descended the steps and strode toward his car, pulling out his keys as he went. Just as he raised his hand and pointed his remote, a voice--unmistakable and familiar--called his name. The man froze in his tracks. It was inconceivable that the owner of that voice would be standing on that street in Arlington, Virginia, much less recognize him after so many years. But the voice called him again.
Robert Makepeace turned around and found himself face to face with Teal'c, the indomitable Jaffa warrior. He looked very different from the man he last saw nearly four years earlier. This Teal'c was heavier, more powerfully built. He was in civilian attire rather than the government-issued pants and tee shirt he'd always worn back at Stargate Command. He also sported a full head of close-cropped hair. But the thing that struck Makepeace most strongly was that Teal'c was alone. He looked around for the other members of SG-1, or at the very least, a military escort. The Teal'c Makepeace knew would never have been allowed off base on his own.
"Where are the other members of SG-1?" he asked.
"Colonel O'Neill is back at our hotel. He said something about having a nap before dinner."
"And the others?"
"The other members of SG-1 are back in Colorado Springs. Why are you not in prison, Colonel Makepeace?" Teal'c said. Makepeace winced at the reference to the past. Teal'c had never been one to mince words, but his recollection of their last meeting in the gate room of the SGC was particularly painful.
"It's just Mr. Makepeace now, Teal'c. I'm no longer in the Marines."
"Yes," Teal'c said thoughtfully. "As I recall, Daniel Jackson said that you would very likely be court marshaled and dishonorably discharged for your treasonous acts, Mr. Makepeace."
"I never committed any acts of treason!" Makepeace spat back, his fists raised in anger. He immediately dropped them and sighed.
"As it was explained to me by Major Carter and Daniel Jackson--."
"Neither Major Carter nor Dr. Jackson were apprised of all the facts," Makepeace interrupted. "I doubt if anyone at the SGC aside from General Hammond has ever been fully apprised of the facts," he said bitterly.
"What are these facts, Mr. Makepeace?" Teal'c asked bluntly. Makepeace shook his head and smiled.
"You haven't changed one bit, have you?"
"On the contrary," Teal'c replied. "I have changed a great deal since our last meeting. But it would be imprudent for me to speak of such things on a public street."
"Any more imprudent than asking why I'm not in prison for treason?" Makepeace countered acidly.
"Point taken," Teal'c acknowledged with a solemn nod. "Perhaps we should adjourn to a place where we may speak more privately." Makepeace stared at him in disbelief. "Please, Mr. Makepeace. I am very interested in learning why you betrayed your--."
Makepeace leapt across the space between them and grabbed Teal'c by the collar of his jacket. Somewhere in the back of his mind he dimly recalled a training session with Teal'c in which he was barely able to budge him from the spot where he stood. He was just as successful this time, managing only to bring himself nose to nose with Teal'c's impassive expression.
"I betrayed no one," he said in a menacing whisper. "You don't know what went on back there."
"Tell me," Teal's replied. Makepeace released him and took a step backward.
"I tell you what," he said. "You tell me your story and I'll tell you mine. But not here." He gestured toward his car and opened the door. Teal'c got in and they traveled a short distance. When they came to a stop in front of a small townhouse, Teal'c broke the silence.
"Is this where you live, Mr. Makepeace?"
"Yeah... Look, could you call me Robert or Rob or something?" he asked awkwardly.
"If you would prefer it, Robert."
"Rob," Makepeace said as he unlocked the door and stood back to allow his guest to enter first. "Call me Rob." Teal'c acknowledged the gesture with a nod and entered. "May I offer you a drink?" Makepeace said, heading into his kitchen.
"Yes," Teal'c replied, following. "I will have a beer, if you have one." Makepeace looked back at him with a frown.
"As I recall, you were always a teetotaler," he said as he pulled two bottles from the refrigerator.
"That was a long time ago," Teal'c said as he accepted a bottle. "You will find that much about me has changed. Then again, much has not. I am still very much the man I was." He took a seat on a stool at the counter. "I have adapted to living here on your planet, but my values have not changed, Rob Makepeace. I cannot understand why a man of your apparent integrity would involve himself in something so dishonorable. I valued you as a fellow warrior."
"...And I greatly admired and respected your rank and experience."
"Look, Teal'c, things were not exactly as they seemed." Makepeace ran a hand through his hair and took a seat beside Teal'c. He stared at the bottle in his hands and picked at the label as he sought the right words.
"Things were exactly what they seemed. You were entrusted with this planet's greatest secret and given a great responsibility to uphold--."
"I was working undercover, Teal'c," Makepeace said exasperatedly. He looked up and met Teal'c's doubting eyes. "I was recruited, just like Jack O'Neill, to ferret out the people responsible for stealing alien technology."
"If you were recruited to find the thieves--." Teal'c fell silent when Makepeace raised a hand.
"Just hear me out, Teal'c," he urged softly. "I was recruited long before O'Neill only, unlike him, I wasn't chosen by a group of aliens. I was chosen by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They suspected that someone might be trying to sell us out long before the Tollans came knocking."
"Why were we not told of this threat?"
"It was a need to know operation. O'Neill never told anyone he was undercover; neither did I. The only one at the SGC who knew of my involvement in the investigation was General Hammond. He was also the only one to know that O'Neill had been recruited by the NID. I allowed myself to be recruited by a rogue faction working out of the SGC. We were attacking the same problem from opposite ends. My assignment was to find out how deeply the faction had infiltrated the base."
"Did you know about Colonel O'Neill?" Teal' c asked, his beer forgotten. Makepeace shook his head.
"Not at first, but I figured it out when he came back after he retired and asked to go to Edora. No way was Jack going to retire on another planet. I knew him way too well to buy that story. That's when I realized he was up to something."
"And when he returned and placed you under arrest?" Teal asked wryly. Makepeace winced and shook his head again. He took a long pull on the bottle and carefully set it down.
"My assignment was to find out who was selling us out. I schmoozed with every member of the SGC I could get close to. I was even required to investigate the SGC's premier team."
"You mean to suggest that the members of SG-1 were suspects as well?" Teal'c asked with an eloquent sweep of brow.
"It was a logical conclusion, Teal'c. As the SGC's first contact team, SG-1 had greater access to alien technology than anyone else."
"Agreed," Teal'c conceded. "If you were to carry out a thorough investigation you could not overlook any possibility."
"That is why you were assigned to SG-1 after Colonel O'Neill's 'retirement.'"
"Yes, Teal'c; General Hammond had every confidence in you, however, the Joint Chiefs insisted that no one be above suspicion."
"Why were you arrested?" Teal'c asked. Makepeace took another swig of beer and sat back.
"I was deep undercover and to my knowledge, O'Neill wasn't aware of it. So as far as he knew, I was up to my neck in Maybourne's little operation. He had no choice but to arrest me. And since exposing my own investigation at that point might have ruined things, I had to play along. I was taken into custody and brought up on charges. For all intents and purposes, I was guilty as sin," Makepeace said bitterly.
"Do you mean to say that in order to keep from exposing the Joint Chiefs of Staff's investigation, you--?"
"I was sacrificed," Makepeace spat. "The official story is that I was persuaded to testify and in return was given the 'opportunity' to retire rather than be court marshaled, but the fact of the matter is I was drummed out of the service with a dishonorable discharge on my record."
"Why would you receive a dishonorable discharge for performing such a vital service?" Teal'c asked naively.
"They had to cover their tracks, didn't they?" Makepeace sighed. "They couldn't reveal their investigation so they had to follow through. My career in the military was ruined."
"That is poor compensation for your efforts, Rob Makepeace," Teal'c replied. Makepeace looked up and quirked a brief smile, amused by his companion's forthrightness. "What have you been doing since leaving the military?"
"Actually, I haven't left the military," Makepeace said, rising to fetch another beer. He held up a bottle to Teal'c who downed the contents of the one in front of him before accepting the second. "Sure your little friend in there can handle that?"
"I no longer have a 'little friend,' as you put it. I lost my symbiote over a year ago."
"Lost it? How is that possible? Dr. Jackson led me to understand that you could not survive without it."
"The Tok'ra have developed a medicine that can replace the symbiote. Many of my people now live without one."
"That's great to hear, Teal'c," Makepeace said as he reclaimed his seat. "I have to admit, I was never completely comfortable around you knowing you carried one of those things."
"Acknowledged; many people were uncomfortable knowing that I carried a larval Goa'uld inside me," Teal'c said, shifting in his seat to make himself more comfortable. Once again, Makepeace was struck by the subtle alteration in his demeanor. The Teal'c he remembered was stiff and reserved. He always spoke formally and never appeared to relax. The man before him looked very... human.
"Have people's attitudes changed since you lost the Goa'uld?"
Teal'c shrugged eloquently.
"People are what they are. Those who choose to see me as a threat will not be persuaded by my altered state. But I am more interested in something you just said. You are still with the military?"
"Yes, but in a civilian capacity as a consultant to the Joint Chiefs."
"Is that not hypocritical? If they would have you remain in their employ, why not allow you to remain in your former position?"
"My work with the military is classified, Teal'c. Only the Joint Chiefs themselves and a handful of others know of my work. I wanted to have my name cleared and be fully exonerated but the powers that be deemed it too dangerous, even after a change in the White House and a thorough housecleaning at the NID. So instead I was given a job that basically restored my pay and benefits to what they were before my arrest. I do security checks on all personnel newly assigned to the NID, the SGC, or world security forces. On the surface of it, I've actually exceeded my previous ambitions. I thought I'd retire a colonel in the marines. I'm now equal in rank to a general. I've got everything I need, everything I've ever wanted."
"...Except for your good name," Teal'c said with characteristic insight. Makepeace nodded.
"My good name and a chance to return to the SGC. My grandfather, a veteran of three wars, went to his grave believing I was a traitor to my country. He didn't speak to me for the last two years of his life. I begged them to let me return to the Corps but they flatly refused. I loved my post at the SGC, defending the Earth and securing our place in the universe, but there was no way they'd let me go back."
"Are you not still doing your part to defend the Earth?"
"I suppose I am, Teal'c," Makepeace said, rising again and going over to a kitchen drawer, where he drew out a menu. "Are you up for a pizza or do you have to get back to have dinner with O'Neill?"
"I would enjoy sharing a pizza with you," Teal'c replied. He studied the menu before selecting the vegetarian special. Makepeace placed the order while Teal'c rose and began to look around the compact living quarters. "Do you live here alone, Rob Makepeace?"
"Yeah; my marriage was another casualty of my undercover work. Sharon didn't want to be married to a traitor, even if she had no idea what I was being accused of or why."
"I am sorry to hear that, Rob Makepeace. You have indeed sacrificed much to be of service to your country."
Makepeace simply stared at him for a moment, flopping dully onto the sofa.
"You believe me," he said, pulling off his tie.
"Should I not believe you?" Teal'c inquired.
"No, no; I've told you the truth, I swear, every last word of it. It's just--well, I ran into someone from the SGC about a year or so ago..."
"Who did you run into?" Teal' c asked as he, too, took a seat on the sofa.
"Jack O'Neill; I told him everything."
"And he did not believe you," Teal'c said. Makepeace shook his head.
"I'd assumed that General Hammond told him about me but I was apparently mistaken. And Jack has the contacts to verify my story. He just didn't care enough to bother."
"That does not sound like Colonel O'Neill," Teal'c said suspiciously.
"No, it doesn't, but then I suppose he had his own axe to grind," Makepeace said, rising to retrieve his beer. Teal'c watched him go and return, noting the nervous tension in his movements. He considered asking for an explanation of his last comment and decided against it. Over the years, he'd become used to the cryptic nature of Earth people. "So tell me your story, Teal'c. How did you lose your symbiote?"
Teal'c sat back and told Makepeace the story of how a planned meeting of Jaffa rebels turned out to be an ambush. The slaughter left over a hundred dead and Teal'c and his mentor Bray'tac clinging to life with one symbiote shared between them.
"And they were able to come up with a medicine for that?" Makepeace said doubtfully.
"The medicine already existed," Teal'c explained. "SG-1 encountered a planet that had developed it for another purpose. Ironically, the drug Tretonin is processed from Goa'uld tissue. But it enables Jaffa to live their lives free of the symbiote that would one day try to enslave them."
"And they're able to manufacture this Tretonin in sufficient quantity to--?" Makepeace gave Teal'c an apologetic look and went to answer the door. He returned with the pizzas and placed them on the table. "How about another beer?" he asked rhetorically. Before Teal'c could respond, Makepeace had gone to the kitchen. He returned shortly with two more bottles.
As they ate, Makepeace satisfied his curiosity about a lot of things he'd never had the courage to ask Teal'c before. He'd always been somewhat wary of the larger man back at the SGC. Teal'c was alien and inscrutable and dangerous in a way Makepeace didn't care to think about. Now he was surprised at how much he enjoyed Teal'c's company. He never imagined that they could spend an evening together sharing beer and pizza, much less talking about such mundane subjects as American television. At first, Makepeace had been tempted to grill Teal'c about the SGC, but as the evening wore on he forgot about the past and concentrated on the present.
"We are very much alike, you and I," Teal'c said sometime later as Makepeace cleared away the empty bottles and boxes. Makepeace looked up. "We are both skilled warriors for whom honor and duty are very important. We have both been forced by circumstance to make tremendous sacrifices, both personal and otherwise, to fight for what we believe in," Teal'c said, rising and joining him in the kitchen. "And both of us wear the mantel of responsibility with some sadness."
"Why are you sad, Teal'c?" Makepeace asked softly.
"Are you not sometimes troubled by the choices you have made? Have you never doubted your decisions?"
"Yeah," Makepeace answered. "I've had a few regrets--more than a few. But things happen. Things change; you have to roll with the punches. Play the hand you're dealt." Teal'c smiled.
"Some things change; others do not," he said.
"I am the man I have always been,"Teal'c replied, "though I confess that for a time I believed that the loss of my symbiote meant the loss of my identity. In time, I learned that I am the man I believe myself to be, as are you, Rob Makepeace."
"I'm not sure I completely buy that. I believed myself to be less than I was after being drummed out of the Corps," Makepeace admitted, turning away.
"Because we all thought less of you ," Teal'c said perceptively.
"As far as you knew, I was a traitor to my people."
"But I knew even then that your intentions were noble, though your actions were not. You violated your nation's code of--."
"I didn't violate anything!" Makepeace shouted, grabbing Teal'c by his shirt and angrily pushing him up against the wall. Teal'c regarded him calmly, in spite of the fact that Makepeace was in his face.
"Your anger is misplaced, Rob Makepeace. I do not judge you," he said. "It is you who judges yourself harshly. I am not the one you must convince of your worthiness."
"Worthiness?" Makepeace spat. "I don't have to prove anything to anyone!"
"You should not have to, but you believe you do," Teal'c said. "That is why you were so eager for me to hear the truth. That is why it matters that I believe you. Only when you have gained the forgiveness of those you disappointed will you feel whole again."
"I don't need anyone's forgiveness! I haven't done anything wrong!"
"Do you not believe it is wrong to perpetuate the lie that has enshrouded you in shame?"
Makepeace released Teal'c's shirt, but rested his palms on the broad expanse of chest before him and bowed his head. He closed his eyes, unwilling to break before the other man. Teal'c brought his arms up and held him, offering unexpected comfort and something more. Makepeace sank into the hug, but a few moments later, he suddenly stiffened and pulled away.
"Sorry, Teal'c," he said gruffly.
"You are not," he replied matter-of-factly. "You enjoyed having your body in close proximity to mine. I could both feel and smell your arousal."
"Jesus, Teal'c!" Makepeace cried, leaping backward. "I--." He turned away and glanced down when he heard a phone ringing, but it was Teal'c who reached into his pocket to answer the call.
"O'Neill," Teal'c said gravely. "I have already eaten." His gaze never left Makepeace as he listened. "Go ahead and dine with Major Davis. I will be fine on my own. Yes, I am certain, O'Neill. Goodbye." He closed the phone and returned it to his pocket.
"Let me guess," Makepeace said lightly, in an effort to break the tension. "O'Neill?"
"I, too, enjoyed the closeness of our bodies," Teal'c said, ignoring the tease. He took a step toward Makepeace, who had backed up to the counter on the other side of the kitchen. "Among the Jaffa, it is common among warriors to seek pleasure and comfort in each other, especially when distance from home and their regular partners affords them no other alternatives. It is also a rite of passage for a young Jaffa to serve his mentor in this way. Such relations between warriors, or between warrior and apprentice, serve to strengthen bonds between men who must work and fight as one. Daniel Jackson has told me that this is a punishable offense among your military in spite of a rich history of such relationships among warriors in ancient times."
Makepeace simply gaped back at Teal'c, who continued to move toward him, slowly enough to give his target a chance to escape. But Makepeace simply watched Teal'c advance, mesmerized.
"I have always found you desirable." Teal'c said. His face was inches from his prey. "As a warrior, I consider few men my equal. You are one of those few." Makepeace licked his lips.
"I'm no longer a warrior, Teal'c," he said.
"Then there is no prohibition against this," Teal'c replied, reaching out to caress Makepeace's cheek, "since you are no longer subject to your military's antiquated laws."
"...Nor am I your equal," Makepeace said, closing his eyes.
"You are the man you have always been. You are the man I have long desired. The only thing that prevents you from being either of these things is you. The only thing that prevents this from going further is you. Do you wish me to continue, Rob Makepeace?"
"Rob, Teal'c," he said as he melted into the caress. "Just Rob." But he hesitated.
"Rob," Teal'c whispered before leaning in to claim his mouth.
The next several minutes were a blur of sensation and sound. Their movements were clumsy and frenzied as each man struggled to take the lead. Teal'c surrendered, allowing Makepeace to reverse their positions and press Teal'c against the counter, exploring everywhere he could reach with his hands. His tongue and hips thrust against the dark Jaffa as he clawed at his shirt. He managed to pull it over Teal'c's head and threw it over his shoulder. Then he let his hands wander over the warm, silken skin stretched taut over sculpted muscle. Lips followed hands, tasting, teasing, tormenting Teal'c, who tore at Makepeace's shirt, ripping it from his body. He buried his face into Makepeace's throat and growled deeply as their thrusts became erratic. Mouths clashed, teeth to teeth, groans became louder. They spent several minutes thus engaged, till Makepeace was close, on the knife edge of his orgasm. Teal'c abruptly pushed him away.
"Not like this," he panted.
Makepeace threw him a wild, panicked look, but after a second he nodded and drew Teal'c to the bedroom. They stripped out of their remaining clothes, fell upon the bed, and became entangled in each other. They writhed, groped, tugged, nipped--thrusting into each other's tight fists, kissing deeply. When Makepeace slowly licked a salty trail across Teal'c's abdomen, he growled impatiently. Makepeace silenced him with a kiss and reached blindly in the nightstand drawer for something to use for lube. His hand fell upon a small bottle of lotion and he grabbed it. Showing it to Teal'c, he flipped the lid open and reached for his hand. But to his surprise, Teal'c rolled over onto his stomach, presenting himself for Makepeace to prepare him.
"You sure about this, Teal'c?" Makepeace asked. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect Teal'c to bottom. But Teal'c nodded curtly and spread his legs.
"Take me," he rumbled into the pillow.
Makepeace--half-convinced that he was taking his life into his hands for doing so--took his time prepping Teal'c, kneading the firm muscles of Teal'c's ass, using first his tongue and then his fingers slathered with the makeshift lube to assure himself that the Jaffa was fully prepared to receive him. When Makepeace felt he was ready, he drew back to prepare himself. Teal'c got up on his hands and knees and pushed back on Makepeace's first thrust. Both men cried out at the sensation. They paused briefly, savoring the moment, and then set a rather aggressive pace.
The sex was hot, rough and aggressive--two warriors sparring, pitting strength against strength, vying for dominance, bonding. They fucked noisily, grunts and moans accompanying the music of the creaking bed. Makepeace wrapped his hand around Teal'c's huge erection, setting off a chain reaction that sent them both over the edge. They collapsed onto the bed, gasping for air. They laid together in the dark for some time before Makepeace spoke.
"When do you return to Colorado Springs?"
"Our flight is at 1100 hours tomorrow morning," Teal'c replied.
"Can you stay the night?"
"I will do so."
Makepeace turned off the light and pulled Teal'c closer. For the first time in four years he slept peacefully.