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11.

"This is a very large house," Martouf remarked, when they were standing outside their rooms, upstairs. "Even larger than yours."

Sam grinned. "Yes, I think my house would fit almost three times in this."

"Your brother and his wife are kind, though quite different from you and Jacob."

"Oh, yeah. That's been the cause of endless arguments. Mark really doesn't like the Air Force, or anything that has to do with the military, but dad probably told you."

"He did." Martouf smiled. He noticed a decoration on the wall, and studied it closer, touching it carefully. "What does the bell signify?"

"Signify?" Sam frowned. "I don't know, it's just something that's used for decorations for Christmas, often together with large silver or golden balls. And red ribbons and spruce wreaths."

He nodded. "Yes, I noticed those types of decorations in the mall. Lantash and I thought the balls were long range communication devices at first."

"Ah, I can see why you'd think so. No, there isn't anything here on Earth that's based on Goa'uld tech - not except for what we've brought back." She sighed. "Listen, we should go into my room or something instead of standing out here and talking - in case someone comes up here."

"Very sensible. Does no one else sleep up here?"

"Dad does. He sleeps in the small guest room at the end of the corridor." They went into Sam's room. "Mark and his family all sleep downstairs."

"In the basement?"

Sam laughed. "No, on the first floor. That's the ground floor, I think you'd call it. So, is there anything you want to ask about now when we're alone?"

"Yes, there is a great many things. Much about your holiday rituals confuse me, but most of it can wait until we are back in Colorado Springs. Is there something you believe I need to know in order not to cause suspicion?"

Sam considered it. "Nothing I can think of right now. Everything about the food and many of our traditions is fair game to ask about. No one will wonder about that, since you're a foreigner. You already know of much of our technology, so that's good - it would probably be a bit strange if you asked about that, since your cover is that you're working with me, and so probably is a scientist."

He nodded. "I understand. I will be careful, and only ask about things that seems they should be common knowledge, when we are alone."

"Great." Sam yawned. "I'm really tired, so if you don't have anything else you want to talk about right now, then I suggest we go to bed."

"Of course. Good night, Samantha."

"Good night, Martouf and Lantash." She yawned again. "Wait - do you want to use the bathroom first?"

"No, you are more tired than I am, so please do so first."

She nodded and went and opened the door in there. "You can just go through here. If you think of something you want to talk about, you can just knock on the door in here - no need to go out in the corridor."

He nodded. "Thank you." He went into his own room.


While waiting to use the bathroom, Martouf and Lantash explored their room. Since Martouf had been in control since they left Sam's place, they had agreed that it was Lantash's turn now.

*This room alone is almost as large as our entire quarters - including our bathroom!* Lantash observed.

*Yes, the Tau'ri seems to prefer large living spaces. If such is indeed the case, we may never be able to convince Samantha to live with us on the base. In case she should agree to be our mate, I mean.*

*Do not give up the hope. Samantha told us that she prefers to stay on the base, in quarters much like what she would have on a Tok'ra base.*

*Very true.*

Lantash walked around and examined almost everything - he even looked out the window, touched the curtains, looked at the two chairs and the table, and studied the pictures on the wall.

*What do you think this is?* He frowned at the picture.

*Tau'ri art,* Martouf observed.

*Yes, I'm aware of that!* Lantash rolled his eyes. *I meant, what do you think it's supposed to be?*

*I don't know. A deer standing before a weirdly shaped rock, maybe?*

*Perhaps. The artist is clearly not very skilled.*

*Maybe Mark's children painted it. We should not say anything about the low quality.*

*I will not.* He went over to the bookcase and read some of the titles. *It is fortunate Jacob has taught us to read their language.*

*Very. Pick up that one and see what it is!* Martouf called Lantash attention to a book on the shelves before them.

Lantash did, reading the title. *Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.*

*I thought, perhaps, it was a book about some of the Tau'ri rituals and traditions. We could maybe learn something about how to behave during these holidays?*

*It is a good idea.* Lantash opened the book and read a little here and there. *It certainly sounds like a magical tale, possibly meant to describe life in ritualistic means. I don't really think it will help us much in understanding the Tau'ri, though, other than perhaps as background for some of their beliefs.*

*We should ask Samantha.*

*We should.* Lantash replaced the book and took down another, called "They lied about Roswell". It had a picture of a 'Roswell alien' on the front. *Is that an Asgard?*

*It certainly looks like it! We should definitely ask Samantha about that!*

*The book claims to look at a crashed alien spaceship. I wonder if the Asgard lost a small ship here?* Lantash frowned, and put the book down on the table, deciding to look at it more closely later.

*The one beside it sounds worthy of attention as well. Look at the title 'Was Ra an ancient astronaut, and did he once rule Earth?'*

Lantash took it down. *He wasn't an astronaut or part of any space program. He was just an evil Goa'uld who subjugated a great many people.* He looked at the subtitle to the book. 'Is the government hiding knowledge of extraterrestrials?' He put it on the table with the other book.

*There's a third one.*

*Yes, I see it. 'Secret alien alliances and the Air Force'. Maybe the Stargate program is not doing such a good job at hiding what they do as Samantha and Jacob thinks!*

He had just picked up the book and flipped it open, when someone knocked on the door to the bathroom they shared with Sam. "Enter," he said, using Martouf's voice.

Sam stuck her head inside. "Hi! I just wanted to say I'm finished using the bathroom now."

"Thank you." Lantash said, no longer bothering to hide the distortion in his voice. He smiled at her, then frowned as he remembered the books. "Can I talk to you briefly?"

"Sure, what is it?" Sam asked, entering the room.

He looked at her, for a moment forgetting what he was about to say and just gazed at Sam in her nightwear - a silky pale blue nightgown that reached to just under her knees. The material was fairly thin, and where she stood with the light from the bathroom behind her they could see her shape clearly through it.

Lantash shook himself, focusing on the books again. "Ah." He cleared his voice. "We were looking at the books, and found these." He indicated the book he was holding and the two others on the table. "We fear the secrets of the Stargate program may have become compromised."

Sam got a worried expression, and took the book from him. She looked at it for a moment, then grinned. "This? This was written by some nut-job! It's a conspiracy theorist - all those books are about conspiracy theories. I think my brother must have gotten them from my cousin - she's into that."

"Conspiracy theories?" Lantash wondered.

"Yes. There are some people who think that the government, or the Air Force - or some other authority - has some secrets they hide from people, perhaps that they know something, something nefarious, or whatever."

"Nefarious?"

"Well, something people would not approve of it they learned about it."

Lantash nodded slowly. "That could be almost anything - and I would assume any authority or military would have things that had to be kept secret."

"Yes, but conspiracy theories are usually about things like secret organizations, extraterrestrials cooperating with the government - or the Air Force, or things like that. Don't worry about it, it's not that they know anything - they just imagine things."

"Things that are true, though. The Air Force does know of extraterrestrials - they are in fact allied to some of them. Us! Ra did come here, and he did rule the planet!" He picked up one of the others books he had put aside, and pointed at the picture on the front. "And that very much resembles an Asgard."

Sam hesitated, then nodded. She sighed. "Yes, I suppose they have hit fairly close to the truth, but even if they somehow knows something, or think they do, then no one will believe them. At least very few credible people will believe them. We won't have a problem because of that."

"All right," Lantash said, looking relieved. "I trust you."

She smiled at him, handing him back the book. "Thanks. It may be worth it to look up the authors at some point and see how they got the information, though. Just to check that we don't have a leak."

"That is always wise."

On the spur of the moment she suddenly leaned forward and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Goodnight!"

She left for her own room, with Lantash looking after her, a surprised - and pleased - expression on his face.



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