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 11. The High School

The taxi stopped at Sam's old high school, and she and Martouf/Lantash got out.

"This was where I went to school back then," Sam said. "The celebration is held in a big ballroom that belongs to the High School. Which I think is pretty unusual to do - a ballroom at a hotel is more common."

"I am quite pleased that it is at your former school, Samantha. This means I get to see some part of your past."

Sam smiled, a little ruefully. "Yeah..."

He frowned. "Is something the matter, Samantha?"

She shook her head. "No, no it's just... well, it was a long time ago, and I was a different person back then. I was very young, and, well, I didn't get along so well with the others."

"I understand. It is often a regrettable part of life in schools. I experienced the same at some point when I was a child."

"I know it is..." She sighed, still caught up in the feelings she had felt then.

He looked at her, and took her hands. "Samantha, remember that you are not in the same situation now, nor, as you just said, are you the same person any longer. You are very intelligent, kind, and confident. You are a competent scientist, and a skilled warrior. On top of that your are beautiful. You have no reason to feel inferior to anyone."

Sam smiled. "Thank you, Martouf."

They went up to the door, where several others were arriving as well. One of the women, a redhead with a very small green dress, was sitting at the table. She was looking at Sam, and then at Martouf/Lantash, whom she sent an inviting smile. "Um..." She looked down at the list of names, then up again. "I am sure I should be able to remember someone like you, so you can't be an alumni?"

"My name is Martouf... Lantash," Martouf said. Not knowing the word alumni, he carefully added. "I did not go to your High School."

"I'm Samantha Carter... hello Wanda," Sam said, quickly. "Martouf is my..." she wavered on what to say, then made a decision. "...fiancé."

"I see. Sam Carter." The woman called Wanda looked somewhat less pleased than before. She found the name on the list and made a mark beside it, and also in the '+1' box. "Write your names on these - don't worry, the glue won't damage clothing." She handed them two labels, and two marker pens.

Sam wrote 'Sam' on hers, and Martouf carefully wrote 'Martouf Lantash' on his. They then put the name tags on their clothes.

The other woman at the table looked up at Sam and Martouf. "Welcome, I'm Jackie."

"I remember," Sam said, smiling a little at the dark haired woman, who was wearing a silvery, body-hugging dress. She had decided to try and be friendly, despite Jackie and Wanda being the two people she had the worst memories of from High School. "Thanks."

"Fiancé, huh? So, how long have you guys been together?" Jackie asked, giving Martouf a very interested look.

"Ah, we met... a bit more than a year and a half ago," Sam said.

Martouf smiled and put an arm around her and pulled her to him, giving her a kiss. "We are very happy."

"That's, that's good for you," Wanda managed.

"There's hors d'oeuvres and a welcome drink just inside," Jackie said, before turning to the next person arriving.

Sam and Martouf/Lantash went inside, and to the table, where several people were already standing and talking.

"Hi," Sam said.

The others turned to look at her, and then Martouf, reading their name tags.

"Hi, Sam!" said one of the men, with brown curly hair and wearing a light blue suit. "Long time no see!"

Sam nodded, smiling a little. "Yes, a very long time, Nick." She shook hands with him, then turned to Martouf. "This is Martouf. Nick was one of the nerds - like I was." She spotted a dark-skinned woman in a gorgeous red dress. "And Tanya! Hey!"

Tanya turned towards them and smiled widely. "Sam! You came! I would have taken any bet you wouldn't!"

"Yeah, well... I did consider not to." Sam grinned. "Meet Martouf. Martouf, meet Tanya. She, Nick, and myself were the class nerds."

"Hello, Tanya - and Nick." Martouf gave them both one of his charming smiles. "I am pleased to meet some of Samantha's friends from her childhood, though I am unfamiliar with the term 'nerd'."

"That's, eh, that's someone who's very knowledgeable in some fields, but, well, lacks social skills, I guess," Sam tried to explain. "Um, Martouf isn't from the US."

"Yeah, we guessed that!" a blond woman with a black dress said. She winked at Martouf. "Hi, I'm Jill. So, where are you from? I never heard a name like Martouf."

"I... am not at liberty to say," Martouf told her, carefully.

"I'm in the Air Force and I met Martouf on a mission," Sam explained hurriedly. "His people are allied with us, but it's not public. Yet. So he's not allowed to say. He's here as, as a liaison right now," she said, hoping that would make them happy.

"Ohh, how mysterious!" Jill exclaimed.

"So you did end up in the Air Force, just like your old man." Nick nodded. "I told ya!"

Sam rolled her eyes. "Right. Well, I did, but from how I felt about it back then, no one could have known."

Martouf put an arm around Sam again and gave her a squeeze. "I am extremely happy that she did, or I would most likely never have met her. My life would have been lacking without her."

"So romantic! Why don't you ever say things like that, Nick?" Tanya asked, elbowing the man. "By the way, Nick and I are together, if you didn't know."

Sam laughed. "I'm not surprised, given how you guys were always together back then."

She picked up a plate and began looking at the various bite-sized snacks.

Martouf did as she, and studied the various types of food, taking one here or there when he saw something that looked interesting.

They were each given a glass of some sort of punch, which was served as the welcome drink.

"It's fairly strongly alcoholic," Martouf said, when they stood in a corner some distance from the others, assuring them at least relative privacy.

"I'm not surprised, though I'd thought it was a bit too early to spike the drink. James probably mixed it - it would be his style."

"James?"

"Another one of the people I went to class with."

"I know no one here, and I almost caused you to get in trouble before, when I asked about a word I should have known." He looked unhappy. "I am sorry I am not a better 'date'."

"You're a wonderful date, and easily the most attractive man in here," Sam told him, smiling at him.

Martouf smiled back. The corner of the room where they stood had not table or chairs, but there was a low counter which served nicely as both.

The room was quite large, and while there were many people, most were located near the table with the hors d'oeuvres. Scattered around it stood several small, round, high tables, which you could place your food on while eating.

In the other half of the room was a long dinner table with chairs around it, waiting for later when dinner would be served. The table was covered with a white tablecloth, and flower pots were placed here and there. By each seat was placed a picture of the person as they had looked at graduation from High School, and if they had brought a date, that seat had an identical picture but with an added '+1' written below.

The room was festively decorated, with ribbons and balloons in many colours, and a large banner which proclaimed 'Welcome home, class of 1985'.

On the walls were placed blown-up pictures of the students from back then, together with pictures of popstars and a few movie posters from 1985.

Currently the theme from 'Miami Vice' was playing in the background, but earlier there had been music by 'a-ha', 'Wham!', 'Madonna', and 'Duran Duran'.

It was clear the organizers had gone to great lengths to keep a theme for the celebration.

"Lantash wants to know something - and I must admit I am rather curious myself," Martouf said, picking up his glass and taking a drink from it.

"Yes?"

"Isn't a fiancé something different than a 'date'?" His expression more than hinted that he knew.

"Not necessarily... but yeah. Fiancé means someone you're going to marry - which I suspect you know." She felt her cheeks redden. "I just, ah, needed to say something to shut up Wanda and Jackie. Sorry about that."

"You have nothing to apologize for. We do not mind being your fiancé."

Sam looked at his expression, and she more than suspected he meant for real. She had no idea what to answer, since the thought was both attractive and terrifying.

"Um, that's, that's good." She held up her glass. "Cheers."

"Cheers." He ate a canapé. "Do you know what these are? They are delicious." He held up another one, similar to the one he had just eaten.

"Smoked salmon and some sort of cream cheese, I think, on some sort of thin bread roll. Did you try the stuffed mushrooms?"

"I did, they were quite good as well." Martouf stuffed the last piece of food in his mouth. "I believe I shall go and get some of those chicken skewers, and perhaps something else."

Sam laughed. "I'm glad you like the food. Save some appetite for the dinner, though!"

"Don't worry, Lantash can speed up my metabolism," he told her, almost whispering in her ear. He gave her a kiss before he left to get more food.


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