Captain Mason Rhodes sighed slightly as he waited for the elevator in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, and then stepped inside once it arrived. Pressing the button for the mess hall level, he leaned against the back wall, and tucked his hands into his pockets, waiting. He'd gotten to Stargate Command not more than hour previous, and had already been to see General Landry to report for duty. From there, he'd checked out the quarters, looking for any members of his team, but found no one. His next best guess was the mess hall.
If he could have found someone to take the bet, he wouldn't put money on Major Stuart being here already. Unless she'd changed even more than he had since they'd last seen each other, there was no way she had been particularly enjoying this downtime. Normally, he might've liked to get a bit of time off, but that really wasn't what he'd ended up with. The last five days had been a small vacation for him, but the rest of the month had been anything but. The main reason the team had been on leave was, in fact, him.
Their last assignment had been to aid in the evacuation of a Tok'ra outpost that had come under attack by a minor Goa'uld. The Tok'ra, it seemed, weren't content to just call it quits after the last of the System Lords had been taken out, and instead were still working towards getting rid of every Goa'uld they could get their hands on. This one in particular had managed to find their outpost and launch an attack from orbit. With no ships nearby to help, the Tok'ra contacted the SGC seeking help. It was during that mission that his life had changed in the most significant way since the day he'd been briefed for the first time about the Stargate.
In the time since, he'd been through two separate psych evaluations, numerous sessions hooked up to either a human lie detector or a Tok'ra zatarc detector to ensure the symbiote inside him was really Tok'ra and not Goa'uld, and more physical tests than he could count. On top of that there had been training reviews - real-world training missions alongside new recruits, simulated F-302 flights, and then finally some real flight time. Apparently after all that everyone was sufficiently convinced that he could get back to doing his job, and he was more than eager to do so.
The blending had been difficult to go through, moreso than he'd even expected, but Vakleth had been able to help him through it, to. The Tok'ra had a certain calm about him that had kept him from being too freaked out by the whole thing. Now, he'd mostly gotten used to the fact that he was never really alone, that someone else could hear every single one of his thoughts, and he could hear every one of someone else's. That had been even harder to get used to than having Vakleth take control of his body. The two of them didn't see eye to eye on every topic, but there were no fundamental differences in their beliefs, so it wasn't really a problem.
The elevator came to a stop, and Mason headed out, going down the corridor to the mess hall. It was by no means difficult to pick out the Major, since the place was practically empty. He paused in the doorway for a few moments, both he and Vakleth gathering their thoughts, and then moved over near the table where she was sitting.
"Captain Mason Rhodes, reporting for duty, Major," he said, purposely with more formality than was necessary, given their working relationship, "...finally..." The last word was added quietly, after the fact, because he was pretty damned sure she'd share his sentiment that a month had been far too long a break. "The snake says hi, too," he quipped slightly, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as Vakleth berated him for it. He lowered his head for a moment, his posture changing ever so slightly.
"Major Stuart - it is an honor to meet you," Vakleth said, now in control, in the low, echoing voice that anyone at the SGC would recognize immediately as either Goa'uld or Tok'ra.