(Crossposted on AO3.)

Stop grumbling, Jacob thought.

I was ambushed, Selmak replied.

That's not an ambush, he laughed, and you have agreed. You can't take it back.

I am not going into the water.

Maybe next time, Jacob thought…mostly to himself. He missed the beach. It was, admittedly, annoying to be a host to someone who had an issue with the ocean. However, it seemed to be a common fear among the Tok'ra symbiotes.

Selmak grumbled in return.

After much convincing, working on a few of the Tok'ra one at a time, Sam had finally convinced them to actually see Earth's ocean. She smiled as they approached the planet.

"We cloaked? Jacob asked as they entered atmosphere.

"Long before this," Martouf replied, who was the one flying the ship.

Little Malika sat in his lap as he maneuvered their small ship over the top of a government hospital. She carefully watched her dad handle the controls, and they landed softly.

"Good job, Daddy."

"Thank you." Martouf smiled and hugged her.

"Remember, not everyone in the hospital will know about us. Only a selected few," Sam reminded.

"And grab everything now," Jacob added. "We aren't returning until we are actually leaving."

"We know," Malek replied as he put on a backpack. His voice was a reverberated, deeper version of his host's voice. "Do I need to keep my marriage discreet?"

"Not here."

Malek smiled and promptly took Aldwin's hand.

The group walked on to the roof of the hospital, where they were soon allowed inside.

"So you all have someone in your head?" Asked a curious and way too eager doctor.

"I am General Jacob Carter," Jacob replied as a way of telling him that the question was a little rude.

"Sorry." He blushed.

"And yes, except for my granddaughter."

Malika waved. "Hello."

"Would you be interested in becoming a Tok'ra?" Malek asked.


"We could always use a healer," Aldwin added.

"I'll have to, uh…think about it."

"Uncle Jack!" Malika ran over as Jack came out of the elevator.

Jack smiled and picked her up. "You grew."

"I'm always growing," she replied.

Sam smiled as she approached.

"Why do they look…bothered?" Jack asked as he gestured to the Tok'ra.

"They don't like oceans."

"So they agreed to go whale watching?"

"It took years to convince them."

"She cheated," Malek said. "She managed to convince most of the council that it would be educational."

"A right of all humans that we cannot deny our hosts out of petty fears," Aldwin added with a bit of an eye-roll.

Jacob bowed his head, giving control to Selmak. Her eyes flashed, and she immediately frowned. "Delek agreed just to spite me."

"You both agreed to go," Sam replied. I'm glad you aren't as afraid as they are.

I had a host that grew up on a boat, her symbiote, Kela'an, thought. I had to move past my fears to visit his family.

Malek scoffed. "I agreed to go on dry sand and see the ocean from a safe distance. I did not agree to go on to a tiny boat searching for violent six ton marine animals."

"Violent?" Aldwin asked. "No one said they were violent."

"They aren't violent," Sam argued.

"Then why are they called killer whales?" Malek asked.

"They sometimes hunt other whales."

"Besides, I've been on multiple whale watches," Jack added, "and I've never seen a whale on any of them. Seals. Birds. Maybe some fish. No actual whales. Saw dolphins once."

"Uncle Jack," Malika bounced slightly in his arms. "I made us invisible!"

"Oh good," he replied with a false enthusiasm. "You can't tell people that though."

"She's four," Sam replied. "No one is going to believe that she came to Earth on an invisible ship." She approached, and seeing that Jack was struggling a bit with the wiggling child, she picked Malika up. "Now remember what we told you?"

"Father has to talk like Daddy."

"Yes, and.."

"Mother has to talk like Mommy. Grandma has to talk like Grandpa. Uncle Malek has to talk like Uncle Amb. Uncle Aldwin has to talk like Uncle Gete. Uncle Jack will talk like Uncle Jack."

Jack smiled to that.


"Iasis is a human. She has red hair, green eyes, and lots-" She jumped. "-of freckles!"

"That's my girl." Sam smiled.

"How did you decide what 'human Iasis' looks like?" Jack asked.

"We didn't. Iasis did," Sam replied. "Red hair because her skin is red. Green eyes for her green eyes."

"The freckles?"

"Egeria's first host was plastered in freckles," Lantash added, having taken over. "Iasis has her memories." He shrugged slightly.

"You know," Jack said as they headed out of the building. "If you had picked me up, I would not have had to pay for a rental van…or a plane ticket."

"You just thought of that now?" Jacob asked.

"Well, when you said you were going to meet here, I thought you meant from-" They stepped outside. "-much longer trip from Cheyenne Mountain."

"That became tedious," Malek replied in his host's voice.

"And we still need that rental van," Jacob added. "I'll reimburse your costs."

"No, I'm good." He didn't want his money. "Thanks," he added as he unlocked the van. "Uh…Jacob. I only put myself as the driver."

"Too bad for you," Jacob replied as he got behind the wheel."

Jack sighed.

"We can call and add him on," Sam offered as she got into the van.


It was about a half hour drive, and by the time they arrived, Sam had managed to get her father added. The rental company was quite happy to add him, for a fee of course, and a "late charge." Knowing that Jack would refuse the offer, Sam wired the extra expense from her account to his without telling him.

Aldwin smiled as they got out of the van. "I admit, it doesn't smell too bad."

"Salty air," Jack said.

They walked down wooden planks, passing by various specialty stores.

"They have rides for Malika," Sam said.

"Yea!" She cheered.

"Are they safe?" Lantash asked.

"Yes, look. A carousel."

"Aldwin and I will accompany her."

Sam smiled. "I'll take pictures."

"She needs two of you?" Jack asked.

"Yes," he replied matter-of-factly.

Sam laughed as she went to buy the tickets.

"One adult ticket is free with one child's," the woman at the window said as Sam approached.

"One child. Two adults," Sam said before paying for two of the tickets. She saw that there was no actual difference in price or appearance between the child's and adult's tickets.

Jack smiled as Malika hopped into the line with Lantash chasing after her.

"I do wish we could have brought your oldest with us," Malek said, switching languages, knowing that it was not known on Earth.

Jack frowned.

"I do as well," Sam replied, struggling a bit with the language. Kela'an knew it better. "Even if it were allowed, we can't really carry a tank around."

Malek laughed, and just a hint of his flanged voice came through.

Jack glanced to them. It was annoying enough when Daniel did that. Now Sam too?

"Mommies, look!" Malika called out as she climbed up on a wooden unicorn. The colors, especially by the sea, had mostly faded.

Sam waved as she saw Lantash whisper to her.

"Mommy," Malika corrected. "Uncles!"

Jack and Malek waved. Jack grinned. He was no longer surprised to see Malek's affection towards his niece.

Lantash put the seatbelt around Malika, then held her waist so that she wouldn't fall.

"I believe this particular horse will be moving up and down," Aldwin said as he gestured to the mechanic at the top.

Lantash's eyes widened. "We need another horse."

"She'll be fine." He gave Gete control. "I was already riding horses at her age."

The music started. They began turning. Lantash held Malika as if she might actually fall off. Gete laughed and shook his head in amusement. After they spun once, Lantash slowly realized that the ride was not as dangerous as he had thought. He moved one hand away to wave at the others.

I was wondering when you were going to start enjoying yourself, Martouf thought.

After the carousel, Sam gestured to a "ride" that made Lantash's eyes glow in surprise and protest.

"It's safe."

"And watch the eyes," Jack muttered, looking around to see if anyone had noticed.

"They are flying through the air," Lantash argued.

"They are bouncing on a trampoline, wearing a harness," Sam replied.

He stared.

"And you can't go with her. This one is only for kids."

"Can she wear a helmet?"

"Where are we going to get a helmet?"

"Father, I want to go." She tugged at his shirt.

He took in a long breath. "I will allow her to go if I may inspect the contraption."

Thankfully, since it was early in the morning, no one had to wait. A good tip ahead of time also made the operator extra patient as Lantash checked the harness, the bungee cords, and the trampoline.

Jack and Gete grew bored. Malek watched carefully, as if taking mental notes on what to do should he ever encounter a similar situation.

Oh, you know he is, Kela'an thought.

Finally, Malika was allowed to jump. She bounced a bit before being lifted into the air. The operator tugged on her legs so that she flew up higher. She laughed and flipped herself over many times.

Jack was more amused watching Lantash's horrified expression than Malika.

After, Malika ran over after being released from her harness. "Again! Again!"

"No," Lantash said firmly.

"We should get some food before the boat," Sam said, "but first…" She gestured.

They followed her to behind the buildings. Cool winds brought in the scent of salt. They heard the rushing sound of lapping waves. The glittering ocean was a dark blue. White birds could be seen in the distant blue skies.

Malika ran to the wooden railing, raising on to her toes to stare.

Lantash, seeing the drop to the ocean, picked her up quickly into his arms. He held her close as she pointed. He retreated so that Martouf could admire the view.

Malek retreated as well. Gete was already in control. Jacob retreated.

Selmak shivered slightly. You should be in control.

I've seen it, Jacob laughed. I want you to enjoy this.

Selmak closed her eyes, taking in the scent, listening to the ocean, to some near birds.

Not so bad, is it? Jacob asked.

Selmak opened her eyes. No, I suppose not.

Sam had also retreated, allowing Kela'an to enjoy this.

I've forgotten how beautiful oceans are, Kela'an admitted.

"What is that?" Malika squealed. "A fur wiggle?"

"That's a seal," Kela'an said.

"Fur wiggles are only on Woods," Amb whispered softly.


"Fur wiggle?" Jack asked.

"Essentially fresh water seals," Kela'an answered.

"Ah." He grinned. "I think I should get in line for the food if we want to eat first."

Kela'an went with, giving control back to Sam.

"Long line. You didn't have to go with."

"I'll see it again. They might not. Besides, would you have any idea what to order for them?"

"Find the most bland, healthy item on the menu, and order that for Martouf and Amb."

She looked to the menu.

"The steamed seafood mix." He gestured.

"That's a start."

"A start? Oh. Red clam chowder?"

"They need calories. The white would be preferable." She looked. "The stir fried shrimp and vegetables…and…"

They ended up ordering more than Jack thought they could eat. Amb helped carry the food out while Martouf and Gete saved a table.

They had to break into their own food with utensils that the restaurant provided. Jack was surprised that Malika happily ate the seafood.

"She's used to fish," Sam reminded.

She made faces as she had to take a bite of carrot. "Yuck!"

In fact, she didn't like any of the vegetables.

"You can't waste food. You must eat it," Malek said sternly, which surprised Jack. He saw that neither Sam nor Martouf minded.

She took a few more bites.

Everything was eaten, and Martouf took Malika to clean up and use the bathroom. Malek and Gete went with.

"Malek…gives her orders?" Jack asked while, aside from Jacob, briefly alone with Sam.

"He's her uncle."

"Malek and Aldwin are very much involved in Malika's life," Jacob added. "Besides, good food can be hard to trade for. Malika can't be picky."


Malika came out of the bathroom with a jacket, new pants, and a vest with ties.

"What's the vest?" Jack asked, noticing that it was extra thick.

"It's what you would call a life jacket," Lantash replied.

"It looks…different."

"I made it."

"You…? Is there anything you can't sew?"


They went on the boat, where Sam and Jack immediately went to the front of the boat.

"This will be the best view," Sam said as three of the other Tok'ra followed. Her father just sat down.

After a welcome and instructions, the boat began moving. Malika squealed in joy, and Jack wondered if she would be so squeaky if she didn't have a symbiote as a sister.

It was slow at first, and Malika jumped. "Iasis would love this!" She looked up to her parents. "Can we bring her next time?"

"She can't," Lantash said.

"But she's my sissssteeeer."

Jack noticed that earned a few looks from others, clearly wondering why they took one kid and not the other.

Gete picked Malika up. "You know how she's…different from you?"

She nodded.

"Taking her on this boat would be very dangerous for her."

"She likes water."

"This water would burn her skin," Lantash informed. He touched drops of water on the railing, then touched it to her skin. "Even this tiny amount would hurt her."

Her eyes widened.

"We'll do something for her too," he continued. "Something that is safe for her. This is for you, and when we get back, she's going to want you to tell her everything."

"I will report back then." She smiled with a salute.

He grinned and kissed her gently. "Now watch the ocean."

She wiggled to get down, then pointed out some birds. "What are those?!"

"Seagulls," Jack said with a grin.

She did the same every time they saw a different animal, usually birds.

"Seals!" She gestured to a group that we're resting on a buoy. Then she turned to a group of strangers and said in a professional manner. "Those animals are called seals."

"Thank you," said the nearest man, playing along. "I was wondering what they were."

She giggled and pranced.

Jack wished he hadn't worn pants. The bottom of his legs were slowly becoming soaking wet. He noticed all the Tok'ra were wearing waterproof clothes.

Amb touched the back of Gete's neck, absentmindedly rubbing his thumb against his skin. He could feel Aldwin just underneath.

Jack glanced over. Outside of checking symbiotes directly for injuries, he was quite sure it was an intimate gesture for Tok'ra.

"We are approaching a group of dolphins to the right," announced the captain.

They saw water breaks in the ocean as dolphins swam.

"What is a dolphin?" Gete asked.

"It's an aquatic mammal, similar to a whale," Sam replied.

"But smaller," Jack added. "Did you see the picture on the boat?"


"That's a dolphin."

They didn't see much, but Malika still squealed while Sam took blurry pictures. After that, they got a much better view when several dolphins began swimming and jumping in front of the boat.

"They're pretty!" Malika said. "They jump out of the water like Iasis!" She giggled.

"She likes to swim?" Asked a nearby woman. She thought nothing of the jumping comment, coming from such a young child.

"She lives in the water. She has red hair and green eyes and lots of freckles!" She threw up her arms. "I didn't get freckles because I wasn't adopted." She pouted slightly.

The woman smiled at four-year-old logic.

Dolphins swam with them on the way back, but aside from seals and searching for a blue whale that was spotted by another boat, they didn't see anything else.

They stopped for ice cream, and Malika had no idea what any of the flavors were.

"Do you have citrus flavors?" She ended up getting rainbow sherbet with a cone. She licked it, then hopped. "It's sweet!"

Jack went on his phone, thankful that he could add more money to the meter he parked at through an app.

"Let's go on the Ferris wheel," Jacob suggested.

Lantash looked at the thing. "You want to take my daughter on that?"


Sam bought tickets for everyone, though only four could sit in a passenger car.

"Who sits with whom?" Jack asked.

"You, Martouf, and my dad can sit with Malika," Sam offered.

"Thank you." He didn't see Malika nearly as much as he liked. Teal'c and Daniel, still being on SG-1, saw her more often. He wanted to see the girl's reaction to the ride.

She fell asleep on the way up, leaning against Martouf, who held an arm around her.

Jacob laughed. "We might as well enjoy the ride."

"It's beautiful," Martouf said. He pointed out to the ocean. "Are those the whales?"

Jack couldn't see what he was seeing.

"Not quite," Jacob replied, giving Selmak control. "Killer whales. They are actually a type of dolphin."

"Where?" Jack asked.

Martouf pointed. "By the boat."

Jack looked to a closer boat.

"No. Farther…" He grinned, and his eyes flashed. "That was most beautiful."

"They dove under," Selmak informed while Jack was looking.

"You really have improved eyesight."

Selmak grinned in pride.


"Did you see the orcas?" Aldwin asked as soon as he was out of his car.

"Yes," Martouf replied, holding a sleeping Malika.

Jack had honestly wondered if Martouf and Jacob had made it up, but it seemed there actually had been killer whales.

"Where next?" He asked.

"The beach," Sam said which made Selmak and Malek groan.


They went back to the bathrooms to change. Jack had to grab his swim trunks from his car first. At least he was out of the wet pants now.

Sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen, especially since he forgot to pack his swim shirt.

He met up with them, and Malika was up and dancing while Sam was trying to rub her with sunscreen.

"I'm a larva!" Malika giggled as she spun. The suit even had fins made from very light fabric.

"Well, I know you didn't get that out of a store," he replied, looking to the other Tok'ra. He suddenly felt self conscious. Aside from Jacob, the male Tok'ra were also shirtless. Despite all being much older than him, they all looked younger. They were also in better shape, especially Gete. Did Tok'ra do sit-ups?

"Everyone ready?" Sam asked.

"I, uh, forgot to pack my shirt."

"We're standing right next to a store that sells bathing suits," Jacob pointed out.

Was it really worth buying an overpriced swim shirt?

Probably not. For what? No one else cared, and he decided that he looked great.

"I'll pass."

"Good. Let's get to the beach," Sam said.

Despite being right next to the ocean, it was a bit of a walk to actually get to the beach.

Once they touched sand, Malika sprinted to the ocean with Lantash and Malek chasing after.

"I bet half the people who see us think they are her fathers," Jack said.

Gete laughed. "Probably."

"Anyone want to bet which one gets in the ocean first?" Sam asked. "I'm thinking…Martouf."

"Malek," Jacob said.

"Definitely Amb," Aldwin said.

They all looked to Jack.

"Not Malika?"

"Nope," Jacob replied.

"Not a chance," Sam added.

"Alright then, I'll go with Lantash. Wait. Is that different than Martouf?"

"Yes," Sam replied.

Once they were close enough, Sam set down a sheet for everyone to sit on. Jack immediately sat down.

"I want to swim." Malika pouted.

"We must be sure that it is safe first," Lantash replied.

"I'll test the water for her," Malek said.

Jacob perked up.

Malek then glanced to it. "Amb will test the water for her." He retreated, and Amb smiled as he went to the ocean.


Amb touched the back of his neck. We already got wet on the boat.

But now we are going in the water.

Amb slowly walked in, stopping when the water moved closer.


Amb kept walking as the ocean retreated.

The ocean came back, and he suddenly went from knee deep to waist deep. He was knocked off his feet and went under.


It stung his eyes and he hit against sand before standing again. Ow. He could see Lantash staring with large eyes, now much closer. "Did you come to rescue me?"

"Yes, but you stood up before I could reach you."

Malek. Amb touched the back of his neck. Would you stop squeezing my spine so tightly?

We are in…the ocean!

"Scared?" Lantash asked, reaching to caress over Malek.


Jack frowned. "I thought you guys only did that when you were married." He glanced to Gete, who obviously didn't mind the gesture.

"It's for close friends too," Jacob replied, before glancing over. "Really close friends. Don't try it with Kela'an. You two aren't that close."

Sam was out closer to the water with Malika after Lantash ran to "rescue Amb."

"So…who gets to…pet Selmak?"

Jacob laughed.

"Uh." He lifted his hand slightly. "That came out wrong," he said as people nearby moved away from them. "That's not what it sounded like."

"You couldn't have worded that differently?" Jacob asked with amusement.

"Why was the question humorous?" Gete asked, then looked to the way people were looking at them. "Oh." He grinned.

"You know what I meant. Selmak knows what I meant."

"Selmak is still laughing at you."

Jack sighed. "Fine. See?! Selmak is a person." He gestured to the people still looking at him.

Jacob shook his head with a grin.


"That's not really your business, Jack."

"So there is someone."

Jacob shrugged, not answering, then Selmak took over.

"As you two discuss petting," Gete said as he stood. "I shall brave the waters."

Shall we? Jacob asked.

No, Selmak said firmly.

A little?

Not one toe.

Getting bored with just sitting here, Jack got up to go in the water. He approached as Gete gave Amb a quick kiss. He smiled slightly. It wasn't that long ago that the Tok'ra were always serious around him, and it was years before he had even met Amb. The host had often hid behind Malek.


A few hours later, Jack was surprised that, somehow, the sheet had no sand on it. He wondered how that was possible.

"Is this a normal sheet?"

"Yeah. Why?" Jacob asked.

Jack picked up some sand, dropping it on the sheet. He watched it slowly being repelled off.

"A mostly normal sheet," Jacob corrected
with a straight face.

"I don't suppose I could get a sheet like this."

Jacob smiled. "Probably not." He opened the backpack that Malek had been wearing for most of the day. "Are you hungry?"

"What do you have?"

"Sandwiches." Jacob offered him one.

Jack took it, then peeled back the wrapper. He sniffed at it, then took a taste. He looked to Jacob, who was watching Malika play.

"I couldn't keep up with that energy," Jack said.

"They all have a lot of it."

Jack smiled as Malika was spun, then swung, usually by Gete or Sam.

As it got darker, they moved to one of the beach's fire pits and started a fire. Malika was wrapped in a blanket. As she cuddled in Sam's lap, she ate roasted fowl off a skewer.

"We should have brought chairs," Jack said.

"I like my pillow," Malek replied, using Aldwin's lap as a pillow.

Martouf was using the fire pit to roast various foods. "Colonel O'Neill."

"Thank you." Jack took the offered skewer, curious to what was on it. "Did you roast cheese?"

"Cheese is one of the food items on the skewer, yes." He prepared the next one.

"Do you want any help with that?"

"No. No, thank you."

"He likes to cook it a certain way," Sam added. "Even Dad won't interfere."

Jack honestly had no idea what he was actually eating, though he was amused… "They don't even like it when you bring in plants from another state."

"We'll be careful," Jacob said.

Jack took a bite of meat off the skewer. Gamey, dense meat that had been marinated in citrus. It was tender and crispy. The piece was large enough to last a few bites. The next item was some sort of spicy tuber, and Jack immediately drank some water.

"Was it too spicy?" Martouf asked as Jack's eyes watered.

"No, it was…good." His tongue burned. "Very good.

"Thank you."

"I'll eat it, Uncle Jack," Malika offered, mostly out of hope of getting more of that particular item.

He was not going to be outdone by a four-year-old.

"No, I'll just…" He took a bite of the cheese, and it immediately reminded him of blue cheese. The smokiness enhanced the flavor. He found that it tasted great with the spicy potato-like thing.

Malika pouted.

"I'll make you more when we get home," Martouf offered.

That made her smile.

Next was poultry that had been honeyed. Then something that tasted like a mix of cheddar and Swiss cheese.

Martouf made his own skewer last, and he settled down by Sam as he took his first bite. He smiled when leaned against him.

"I'm full," Malika said with most of her skewer eaten, offering the rest to her dad.

"Thank you." Martouf took it. "Samantha?"

"You can have it."

Malika laid down and yawned. She had a soft blanket over her, her mother's lap, and a fire that kept her feet warm.

"How did you make a stuffed mushroom on a skewer?" Jack asked.

"I stuffed a mushroom and put it on a skewer," Martouf replied, confused by the question.

Next was something that Jack couldn't even begin to identify. It was crunchy, then seemed to melt with a burst of spicy sweetness.

"Malika is asleep," Sam announced.

The last items were all sweet, and Jack realized they were the dessert of the meal. Apple, pear, berries, and something that he was sure was some type of flower.

"How are you enjoying the rest of the meal?" Martouf asked.

"You are a good cook," Jack admitted. He wasn't sure if he had ever eaten something that Martouf made before, and he had been surprised by how each item had been completely different.

"He cooked for our first date," Sam said. "It was a…surprise date."

Jack grinned as he ate the last item, something soft, nutty, and flavored with cinnamon.

Jacob packed the rest of the food away as the others relaxed and ate.

Jack stayed near the fire, though the evening was fairly warm. He looked over the others, enjoying this moment. Downtime with Tok'ra. There was a day that he never would have even considered it, let alone enjoyed it.

"Next time, we should bring Teal'c and Daniel," Sam said.

Jack smiled, wondering if that was a coincidence or if she could tell what he was thinking.

"Were they busy?" Aldwin asked as he played with Amb's hair.

"Yeah." He looked up, looking at the sky. "Another beach, next time. Much further away." He knew they would know he meant another world. "No whale watching though."

"Actually, many other places have whale watches," Jacob corrected, "or something similar."

"Though not necessarily safe," Malek added, "and for a few, it's the other people you need to watch for." He smiled. "I saw a throwing star."

Jack frowned, very confused by that statement.

"Make a wish," Sam said. "It's tradition."

"I wish to see the end of the Goa'uld's galactic tyranny." He looked to her. "Does Amb get to make a wish as well?"


Jack sat up more. "Excuse me? Ninja star wishing?"

Jacob laughed a bit as most of the others just looked confused.

Don't be rude, Selmak gently scolded Jacob.

"A shooting star," Jack realized, thankful that Sam hadn't laughed. "We call them shooting stars. How was I supposed to know what he meant?" He briefly wished Daniel and Teal'c were there, even more than before, then realized they would have understood what Malek said.

"I wish for my people to know true freedom," Amb said, ignoring the minor squabble.

Jacob touched the back of his neck briefly, but he had his pride…and stubbornness. Then he sighed as he felt Selmak take control.

"He understands that you couldn't have known," Selmak said.

Jack smiled, knowing that was the closest he was ever going to get to an apology.

"While you were all arguing over nonsense, you missed another throwing star." Aldwin said.

Jack looked up. "The Perseid meteor showers. They come every summer, originating from the Perseus constellation." He grinned. "We should have invited Per'sus to watch."

"If I live another thousand years, I would not see the high councilor in a bathing suit, by a fire pit, watching the sky," Malek replied.

"Everyone needs to relax from time to time," Jack replied. "Especially with his responsibilities."

"He is too…Per'sus."

"He can relax, but it is rare." Selmak grinned as she warmed Jacob's hands by the fire. "But I think he should come. The whole council."

"It will never happen," Sam replied. "It took me a decade to get any of you to come."

"You have forgotten," Selmak retorted, "it is 'educational.'"

"And it is 'the right of all humans that they cannot deny their hosts out of petty fears,'" Aldwin added with a grin.

Jack was pleasantly surprised to hear the others laugh. He grinned, already planning to make sure he would be there to see this.