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16.

Sam woke from the sun streaming through her window. The first she thought of, was the wonderful kisses Martouf - and Lantash - had given her the evening before. She smiled to herself, and closed her eyes again, focusing on the sensation she had felt then.

She looked towards the door to the bathroom, and thought of the fact that another door behind it led to the room of Martouf/Lantash.

Part of her badly wanted to go to them, and to kiss them again - and perhaps crawl into his bed and snuggle. Though she knew that would probably lead to more, and that was not a good idea. At least not here, in her brother's house - and in the morning when the children were probably already awake and circling the gifts under the Christmas tree.

She stretched luxuriously and pulled the blanket around her. She would rest for just a few moments longer, and then she would get up.

It was only a short time later when someone hammered on the door. Sam groaned softly and looked at the clock - it was 7:30. "Yes?" She yawned.

"It's time to get up!" Lisa shouted.

"Santa brought a lot of gifts, and mom and dad says we can't open them until everyone is there!" William added.

Sam moaned, and wanted nothing so much as to pull the blanket over her head and continue sleeping, but she still but sat up and called out to the children outside the door. "I'm coming!"

Grumbling about her brother and his wife, she got out of bed.


"Can we look at the presents before we eat breakfast? Please?" William begged.

"Please?" Lisa repeated, eagerly.

"You already looked in your stockings, what did you get there?" Jacob asked, smiling. "Was it anything good?"

"Candy!" William said, grinning. "And a small car that will run on its own when you pull it back first!"

"I got candy too!" Lisa said. "But no car." She pouted. "Only a new hairband. I want a car!"

"Please, can we open the gifts now?" William repeated.

"One gift each - and don't eat any more of the candy now. You need real food!" Marian admonished.

The adults sat down around the kitchen table, while the children ran to find a gift each.

"Coffee?" Marian asked.

"Yes, please." Sam held out her cup.

"Sorry - the kids are always really enthusiastic Christmas morning," Mark said.

"I understand. There were a lot of interesting looking packages under the Christmas tree yesterday," Martouf said, thinking of how the tree had looked when everyone had brought their gifts there, after the children had gone to bed.

"Maybe you want to open a gift too?" Mark grinned.

Martouf smiled. "I can wait until after breakfast."

"Jacob?" Marian asked, holding the coffee pot towards him.

"No, thank you. I'm... trying to drink less coffee."

"Really, dad? You? Usually you love coffee," Mark said.

"Oh, I guess I still do. I just... try to drink less, okay?" Jacob said, a bit harsher than intended.

*Someone is grumpy!* Selmak observed.

*It's early, and I haven't had my morning coffee - because you hate the taste!*

*We agreed to drink less - every other meal, instead of every.*

*Yeah, well, right now I'm regretting it!*

"The orange juice is good," Martouf offered.

Jacob scoffed. "Orange juice has no caffein!"

*It does not do anything for you anyway, since I filter it out,* Selmak reminded him.

*You could, oh, maybe not filter it out?* Jacob suggested, pouring some orange juice in his glass anyway.

"Look what Santa gave me!" William said happily, showing them the radio controlled car Sam and Martouf/Lantash had bought for him the day before.

"That's very nice, William!" Jacob said.

"Very. You must have been a good boy," Sam said, smiling.

"I got a teddy bear!" Lisa told them, holding up the stuffed bear. "He's told me his name is Little Bear." She looked hungrily at the honey jar. "He likes honey. Can we have some?"

"If you sit down here at the table, then you can share a slice of bread with honey. Would you like that?" Marian asked.

Lisa nodded. "Yes." She sat down on the bench, with the teddy bear beside her.

William joined her on the bench too. "I'd like some orange juice, please." He looked out over the table, and noticed all the many different kinds of food. "Oooh, I wish it was Christmas more often."

"I don't!" Mark said, grinning. "I'd have to file for bankruptcy! But I agree, there's a lot of yummy food!"

"What is that?" Lisa asked, pointed at a dish in the middle of the table, that was clearly hot.

"Careful, sweetie," Mark told her. "It's hot."

"It's orange-pecan French toast," Sam told her. "And no, I haven't tried it, so I don't know how it tastes."

"It's delicious. You absolutely must try it!" Marian insisted. "It's brown sugar and butter, melted and mixed with orange juice and pecans, and some spices, then poured over toast with an egg mixture and then roasted."

"It sounds... very nutritional," Sam offered, giving the dish a cautious look.

"I'd like some!" Lisa said. "Can I?"

"Sure honey, but Sam's right. It is nutritional. And very sweet. You and William can share one if you want to?" She looked at the kids, both of whom nodded. "Okay." She cut a toast in two and gave the children one half each. "Sam?"

"Um, anyone want to share?" she said.

"I would like to try it," Martouf offered.

"Okay," Marian said, handing one half toast to each of them. "I hope you like it. Jacob?"

"Ah, no thanks. I tried it last time I was here, and as I ate it, a little voice in the back of my head told me I should probably cut down on stuff like that. At my age, I mean."

Sam snorted, but quickly hid her expression by drinking from her coffee.

"So no hashbrowns or scrambled eggs either?" Mark wondered. "They're fantastic, you know."

"Sure, I'm not going overboard." Jacob smiled widely. "Hand me some of that!"

Sam grinned and cut off a piece of her toast, and ate it. It was good, but very sweet. She looked to Martouf, who smiled at her. She smiled back, feeling happy sitting her with her family, and Martouf/Lantash.



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