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Free of Him

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"I know your face."

The man's low voice startled Vala, as did the gentle hand he used to reach out and stroke her cheek. It was the first time in three days that he had spoken, the first time he had acknowledged anyone or anything since the Goa'uld that had resided in him for centuries had been removed.

Vala swallowed and cleared her throat lightly before answering. "Yes. My name is Vala. I was host to Qetesh. You and I were together for while. Or perhaps I should say Ba'al and Qetesh were together, as you and I didn't exactly have much choice in the matter. I'm free of her now, the same as you. What is your name?"

His face took on a look of absolute confusion. "My name?"

"Yes, your name. What were you called before you were taken as a host?"

"Yhalnir."

Vala placed a warm hand over the his that was still resting on her cheek and smiled. "It is very nice to meet you, Yhalnir. Now, I don't want you to worry about anything, everything is going to be alright now. You'll see."

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8 months later

The Stargate disengaged behind them and SG-1 stepped off the platform. They could see well tended crops growing in the nearby fields and the faint bleating of sheep could be heard in the distance. It was a quiet and peaceful planet.

Their Tok'ra contact met them a short ways from the gate and led them into the village. Everyone was breaking for their mid-day meal and the men were coming in from the fields. Vala's eyes scanned the villagers quickly, looking for one man in particular, the man that she insisted that SG-1 check on personally.

Yhalnir was one of the last to enter the village center, and when the members of SG-1 saw him, all of their eyes grew wide.

He was still tall and lean, but was now wearing simple homespun clothing and was tan and dirty from working in the fields. He had let his beard grow as it wanted, and now bushy and full, it very efficiently hid his infamous face. His hair was also longer and tied back with a cord. Both his hair and beard were laced with copious amounts of gray and the lines on his face had deepened, this was not unexpected as he no longer used a sarcophagus.

If his appearance had at all surprised them, it was his current actions that completely flummoxed them, for he had company as he walked in the form of two children about six or so years old. They each had one of his hands and were enthusiastically sharing something with him that had him smiling. It was a sight none of them had ever expected to see.

The Tok'ra said quietly, "He has fit in very well with these people and has expressed his desire to remain here the rest of his days."

Vala had a thoughtful, almost sad look on her face as she said, "It probably reminds him of his home world."

The Tok'ra agreed, "Yes, he has said as much."

Vala's voice was low as she said, "You know, he had four children. And a wife. All those years ago."

Yhalnir saw them standing at the edge of the village and he sent his little friends off to eat their meal while he approached the visitors.

"Hello," he said simply as he looked at each of them in turn.

Gone was any sense of arrogance or superiority in his demeanor. In its place was a humble and simple man. A man that just wanted to tend his fields, watch the village children grow and play, and eat a hearty meal with his neighbors.

And in that moment, Vala and the rest of SG-1 finally realized that Ba'al was well and truly dead.

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the end.