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13.

"So, what kind of cookies are we making first?" Sam asked.

"Snickerdoodles!" William said.

"No, peanut butter cookies!" Lisa insisted.

Sam grinned. "Why don't we make the cookies in alphabetical order? What other cookies are we supposed to make?"

"Gingersnaps," William told her.

"Okay, in that case we start by those," Sam decided. "Help me find all the ingredients, guys!" She turned to Martouf. "Could you get the bag of flour? It's in the second cupboard from the left - then I'll start finding bowls and stuff."

"Of course, Samantha."

Everyone helped out, and soon they had the dough mixed and kneaded. Martouf rolled out the fairly hard dough, and then the children used cookie cutters to cut out different shapes of the dough. Sam then transferred the cookies to a baking sheet, and put them in the hot oven.

"When are they ready?!" William asked, impatiently, looking at the cookies through the oven window. "They look finished, don't you think?"

Sam gave them a brief look. "No, not yet. She checked the watch. "Another three minutes to go."

"That's an e-ter-nity!" he said, dramatically.

She ruffled his hair fondly. "I am sure you will survive it."

When the cookies were finished, Sam removed them from the oven and stacked them on a rack, before going to load the baking sheet again, with the next batch of cookies that the kids had cut out.

"Can I have a cookie now?" William asked.

"Me too?" Lisa said.

"No, you have to wait. They're way too hot," Sam told them. "You'll burn your fingers, and they taste better when they're cooler anyway."

"I have rolled out more dough, if you want to cut out more cookies?" Martouf said.

"Yes," Lisa said.

"Okay," William said.

"You're from another country, right?" Lisa asked, looking at Martouf, when she had finished making the next batch of cookies.

He nodded. "Yes, I am."

"What kind of cookies do you make there?" William asked. "And did your mom let you eat them?"

Martouf laughed. "We have some cookies that resemble these, actually. I need to taste them to see how similar they are, but I think they are quite similar. My mother also sometimes made some with cinnamon and sugar on the top, but I honestly haven't thought about it for a long time."

"You haven't been home in a long time?" William asked, confused. "To your mom and dad? Why?"

Martouf's expression became somber. "No. My mother and father were killed by... some bad people, when I was a, a teenager."

"Oh, that's so horrible!" Lisa exclaimed and threw her arms around Martouf's legs, incidentally smearing flour all over his jeans. She noticed and started trying to brush it off, getting more flour on him instead. "Sorry!" She looked up at him, clear worry on her face.

"Idiot!" William hissed at her.

"It is no matter." Martouf dusted the flour away. "See? it's gone now."

She nodded and smiled at him. "Yes. Thanks!"

"You shouldn't talk like that to your sister, William," Sam admonished. "You wouldn't like being called an idiot, would you?"

He got an unhappy expression. "No." He looked at his sister. "Sorry."

"How is it going out here?" Marian asked, sticking her head in through the doorway.

"Great! We're soon halfway through baking gingersnaps," Sam told her, smiling.

"No problems, I hope?" Marian looked at William and then Lisa.

"No, it is going well," Martouf told her.

"Good." Marian smiled. "Just call if you need my help with anything, okay?"


"Well, that was the last of it," Mark said, closing the trunk. "Anything you need to buy?"

"No, I'm good," Jacob said. "Let's get back to the others and see if they've finished baking cookies." He got into the car.

Mark got in beside him, on the driver's side. "He calls her Samantha - and she let's him. You notice?"

"Martouf? Yes, he's done that almost since he met her."

"You don't think that's strange? That she let's him get away with it? She never does that, not unless it's some guy she's interested in. Romantically. Actually, I'm not sure she even let Jonas call her that."

"They're good friends," Jacob said. "Martouf and Sam."

Mark snorted. "I don't think that's the whole story, but I guess we'll see."

"You've only just met Martouf! And you haven't exactly spent a lot of time with your sister either! Not since you decided she was like me!" Jacob exclaimed.

"Really, dad? We're having this discussion now?" Mark said. "I thought you didn't want us to talk about that over Christmas!"

*Apologize to him now!* Selmak told Jacob.

*Why should I? He did do that!*

*Yes, and you are both stubborn fools! You have worked on bettering your relationship for months! Don't throw it all away now because of some silly pride that stops you from admitting you are wrong!*

*I am not wrong!*

*Do you want me to talk to him?* Selmak threatened.

*No.* Jacob was silent for several moments, then he took a deep breath. "Okay, you're right. I don't want us to fight. I'm... sorry."

Mark looked at him, clearly not expecting that. "Ah, that's... that's... thank you." He sighed. "I guess I took that a bit too hard. You're right. We shouldn't fight - and it's no wonder if it takes us a while to stop doing something we've done for such a long time." He started the car. "I still thinks there's something more between Sam and Martouf. Just wait and see."



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