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9. Exploration

"There are several small stores on this street, would you like to see some of what is sold here? I mean, I know I took you to the mall and the supermarket in Colorado Springs, but..." Sam shrugged. "These are different, I guess."

"I am very interested in learning as much as possible about your world, Samantha. I am sure I will find it fascinating to visit these stores."

"Okay." She smiled. "Then why don't we start with that one?" She pointed to a small shop selling antiquities, old books, and various curios. "It might be fun."

They walked up to the store front and looked through the windows.

"They certainly have a great many different items," Martouf remarked. "It resembles some of the shops I have seen on the larger markets on for instance Shorren, or Nirra. I can take you there some time if you would like?"

"I might. It sounds interesting. Do they sell, ah..." She lowered her voice. "...alien tech too?"

"Rarely. It is generally only the Goa'uld, and a few other races who have any kind of advanced technology." He smiled. "And Goa'uld technology isn't alien. Well, to me, at least."

She smiled. "Of course not. Come, let's go inside. I can pay for you if you see something you'd like? As a souvenir, I mean. Something to remember this trip by."

"I assure you, I will never forget it, but I will tell you if I see something that I would like to take back with me."

They spent some time looking at the various things, and Sam ended up finding a folding chess set where the pieces could be stored inside. The box was made from wood, with the inlaid board made from marble. The pieces were carved from marble and onyx, and surprisingly everything was whole, and no parts were missing.

"Do you know the game?" Sam asked. "Chess?"

"Your father has introduced me to it, so I have tried it a few times. Not very successfully, though." He looked rueful. "Lantash says a similar game is played on some worlds, but it is not a game anyone among the Tok'ra usually plays. We do have many other games, though."

"My dad is a great chess player, but I can beat him! I'll teach you if you want to play some time? In return you can show me some of the games the Tok'ra play."

Martouf nodded. "That is, as your father has taught me to say, a deal."

"Great! So, did you find anything you'd like?"

"I found this book. It is about the history of science on your world. I thought it might be educational."

"Well, I suspect that it might not be very accurate, and it definitely is not up to date, but yeah, it's probably a good introduction. I can give you something more recent later, if you want."

"I would like that. I would also like to learn more about your world, your people, the history of this world..."

Sam laughed. "Do you even have time to read all that? With your busy, ah, schedule I mean."

He frowned. "Busy schedule?"

"You have a lot of work to do usually. Missions and such."

He nodded. "Ah. Yes, my people do not have much spare time, but we do have some. Everyone needs to relax from time to time, and I would very much like to spend some of the time learning about your culture and your world, Samantha." He caught her gaze and held it. "Even more, I would like to learn about you, and your life - and spend time with you. Lantash and I are very much enjoying this time with you, and we hope the future holds many more opportunities for us to meet."

She smiled warmly at him. "So do I, Martouf. Very much."

They stood like that for a few moments, looking into each others eyes, until they were interrupted when the door chimed as another customer entered.

Blushing a little, Sam gave Martouf a sheepish smile, then took the book and the chess set to the counter to pay for it. Martouf followed, a happy smile on his face.


They had looked at a couple other stores, including one that sold high-quality chocolate. There they had bought a small box with several different kinds and gone to the nearby park to share it.

"That looks like a good place," Sam said, pointing to a bench in a somewhat secluded corner of the park. "No one will hear us, even if we should say something, ah, secret."

Martouf smiled. "Good - and I look forward to tasting Tau'ri chocolate. I have only ever tried the dark kind of chocolate, never the light one you call milk chocolate, nor the white one."

"You have chocolate among the Tok'ra?" Sam asked, as they walked over to the bench and sat down.

"We do, both used in confection, cakes, and as a hot drink. Jacob tells me it is the same here. Several planets produce chocolate, but the best comes from a world called Ix'thul."

Sam nodded. "I'll have to try it some time." She opened the box of filled chocolates and held it out to him. "Pick one."

"Thank you." Martouf took one of the white pieces and carefully bit into it. The filling was fortunately solid in that one, so nothing spilled from it.

"What do you think?"

He frowned. "It's very sweet and creamy, and doesn't taste like chocolate at all."

"I think it's mostly cocoa butter, milk, and sugar."

He nodded. "I do like it, but I think I prefer the darker, somewhat more bitter type of chocolate." He ate the rest of the piece.

Sam laughed. "So do I. Try one of the milk chocolate ones."

He smiled and picked one. When he bit into it the caramel inside leaked out over his fingers. "Ah." He quickly put the rest of the candy in the mouth and licked at his fingers. "Very good - and sticky!" He grinned.

Sam smiled and thought he looked absolutely adorable. "You still got some on your cheek."

She wiped it off and Martouf immediately leaned in and licked it off her finger, making her gasp.

"Sorry," he said, though his expression was not really bashful, in fact it was more mischievous. "So, which ones do you like best?"

"Ah, I like the milk chocolates filled with caramel, like you just had, and the dark chocolate ones with mint." She pointed at the piece. "Also dark chocolate with orange crisp." She pointed at another. "And several others."

She picked up a piece of the chocolate and popped it into her mouth, eating it slowly and clearly relishing it.

"There is only one of the chocolate-mint ones." Martouf dipped his head.

"Would you care to share?" Lantash asked, not bothering to hide the distortion in his voice, since they were alone. He quickly picked up the confection and bit into it, then held out half to Sam, a cheeky grin on his face.

Sam raised an eyebrow, then made a decision. "Certainly!" She winked at him and leaned forward to take the chocolate from his fingers, holding his gaze the whole time. Instead of just plucking it neatly from his fingers, she took his fingers into her mouth, and slowly withdrew, letting her lips slide against his them.

He made an audible gasp, and did not move his gaze from her as she slowly ate the piece of chocolate, then licked her lips.

He took the box from her and put it down on the bench beside her, then grabbed both her hands and spoke hoarsely. "Samantha, since we're pretending to be a couple for the reunion, we should kiss."

"Kiss?" She asked, feigning ignorance. "Why?"

His eyes twinkled. "So they don't think we are pretending..."

"Mmm, that makes sense." She nodded, a mock serious expression on her face. "We should probably kiss."

"Definitely," Lantash said, entwining his fingers with hers and pulling her to him.

He looked at her for a moment, their faces only inches apart, before he closed the last distance and touched his lips to hers in a soft kiss.

Sam responded, closing her eyes as she leaned into the kiss, moving her mouth slowly against his. Lantash ran his tongue over her lips, pushing against them. She opened her mouth, more than happy to let him deepen the kiss.

When they finally pulled apart, they were both breathing heavy. Sam felt dizzy, as much from the intensity of the kiss, as from the lack of air. She looked into Lantash's eyes, noticing how dark his otherwise pale eyes had become. She smiled, pleased with his reaction.

He smiled back, then dipped his head briefly and gave Martouf control. He did not waste many seconds, but immediately pulled Sam in for another kiss, no less passionate than the one she had shared with his symbiote.

He slowly let go of her, a soft smile on his lips. "I very much look forward to being your, ah, date tonight."

Sam felt her cheeks redden. "Um, so do I - and we should probably be getting back to the hotel so we have time to take a shower and get changed, if we want to be on time."

She took a piece of the chocolate and held it between her lips, then pressed her mouth to Martouf's, pushing half of the confection in between his lips, sharing it this way. He returned the kiss, then pulled back, licking his lips.

His eyes flashed as Lantash again took control. "You are teasing us, Samantha." He grabbed her hand and caressed it. "Tempting us." He looked hungrily at her.

She felt her heart beat faster and swallowed hard. "You don't seem to be complaining." She really just wanted to keep kissing him until they forgot where they were. With some difficulty she forced her thoughts in a different direction. She got up and pulled him along. "Come - and remember we're out in public. This place was pretty secluded, but no eyeflashes or flanged voices until we're alone!"

"Yes, Samantha," Lantash said, grinning. He bowed his head, giving Martouf control before they followed her.



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