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2. Shopping Trip

"I need to carry this with me all the time?" Martouf asked, looking at the ID he had been provided with.

"Yes, when you're on Earth and not here at the SGC. It's safest," Sam said. She leaned over and looked at it. "Nice picture. I usually look dorky on things like that."

"Dorky?" Martouf asked, uncomprehending.

"Stupid, I guess. Not good."

"I cannot believe that. You could never look stupid," Martouf said, earnestly.

"Thanks." Sam smiled. "But I assure you I can." She looked closer at the ID. "I see they used your real name. Did you write one each? You and Lantash, I mean. The handwriting looks... different."

Martouf nodded. "Yes, of course. I wrote my name and Lantash wrote his."

Sam grinned. "Of course. Come on - we should get you some different clothes for the trip."

"Is there something wrong with these?" Martouf looked with confusion down at the green BDUs he had just been given. "Isn't that what everyone wears? You're wearing that too."

"Here at the base, yes, but not outside. Well, many from the Air Force does, but not civilians - and I wasn't going to go to a Highschool Reunion with either of us wearing BDUs. It's usually an occasion where you dress up a bit."

"I see," Martouf said, looking as if he did not. "And I do not look acceptable in this." He got an unhappy expression.

She gave him an appraising look. "Oh, I wouldn't say that..."

His expression turned pleased. "So we are going to a market now?"

Sam smiled. "Sort of. Is there anything you need from the stuff you brought here? We're probably not returning here until after the Reunion."

"Only this." Martouf held up a small bag he had been carrying in his belt when he arrived, and which he had taken when he changed to the BDUs.

"Okay." She reached out to straighten his collar, since part of it had snagged under his shirt. "Much better. Come on, let's go!" She lead him out, touching his arm lightly.

Martouf looked around the large mall, with many different kinds of stores. It was Wednesday early afternoon, and not many people, so the place almost appeared desolate. "This is different," he observed.

"I guess you're not used to this many different kinds of stores in one place?" Sam asked.

"No, it is not that. There are larger marketplaces on several worlds, but there are usually many more people there. It is also rare that the different stores are so sharply divided from each other, with walls and doors. Why is that? All the stores are inside a large building already, so it does not seem necessary."

"Well, I must admit I never thought of that..." Sam frowned. "I guess it's because they close at different times, maybe? Or because they leave their merchandise in the stores at night. As for why there are so few people here? Well, the weather is nice outside, and it's the middle of the week - and early enough that many people are still at work."

Martouf nodded. "I understand."

Sam smiled, and said teasingly, "It looks like you've calmed down after the trip in my car - you want to get something to eat before we start looking for clothes?"

He looked slightly embarrassed. "I was not truly alarmed, it was merely a, a very different experience. The other vehicles passed us at a very high speed, and the one we were travelling in did not seem to have the necessary force shields to protect us."

Sam laughed. "Force shields! No, it doesn't have that! We don't have that technology on my world."

"I see. Would you like assistance in installing it in your, uh, your car?"

"That actually sounds very interesting, and I'd love to learn more about force shields, but I think it would cause suspicion if I have it in my car. The Stargate project is, afterall, secret."

Martouf nodded. "In that case I will teach you what I know about force shields. There is a small one included among the technology I brought earlier today."

"Okay! I look forward to that," Sam said, smiling again. "So, food?"

"Yes, that sounds most appealing. I have not eaten since this morning."

"Neither have I, and I'm getting pretty hungry. It's mid afternoon now, wait - Vorash is two hours ahead of us, right?"


"Poor you! We should definitely get something to eat!" She hesitated. "What would you like? There's several options in here - Chinese, Italian, Mexican - or we could get a burger, I guess."

Martouf looked confused. "I am not sure I understand. Those are Tau'ri cultures, are they not?"

"Yes - and we call food from those cultures by that name, well, shorthand at least. So 'Chinese' would be Chinese food. Food from China, or rather inspired by it. It's often been changed to fit the local taste, you know." Sam smiled.

"Of course. That makes sense. Samantha, please choose whichever you would like. I am amenable to all of them. It would be an interesting experience regardless."

"Okay. Let's go for Chinese then. It's been a while," Sam decided. "We'll get an assortment of dishes, so you can see what you like."

"So, what do you think?" Sam asked, when Martouf had tried a little from the various plates that stood on the table - two different appetizers, soup, and three main courses. Too much for them to eat in one sitting, but she wanted him to try out a few kinds.

"I have tried something similar to this," Martouf said, holding one of the small spring rolls with his chopsticks. He dipped it in the sweet-sour sauce and ate it. "It is quite good."

"You're much better at using chopsticks than I am!" Sam said, amazed. "I didn't think you had tried using those before."

"I have, many times. They are common on many worlds, and also regularly used by the Tok'ra. They are actually much more commonly used than the knife and fork your culture prefers. Though we use those among the Tok'ra as well. It depends on the dish and what works best."

"Well, it's the same here," Sam agreed. "Try some of the other dishes. Do you recognize any others?" she asked, eagerly.

"Fried shrimp in some sort of marinade?" Martouf suggested, taking one of the items with his chopsticks. He ate it slowly. "The spices are milder than the ones I have tried before, but reminiscent of a dish they eat on the planet Kaifeng. It is in Yu's domain."

"They usually use less spices in the dishes when it's in a restaurant that caters to Americans. Much of our food is a bit more, well, bland, I guess- though we have many regional differences."

Martouf nodded and tried some of the other dishes, taking a little of each. He chewed slowly, savouring the different tastes.

"They are all good," he said, finally. "However, I do think I like this one best." He pointed at one of the dishes.

"'Mixed seafood with spicy sauce', I think they called it," Sam said.

"Lantash favours that dish." Martouf pointed at a different plate, which contained Szechuan Chicken. "But then he prefers fowl, or the meat of various land-living animals, to fish or shrimp. He claims he has had too much of the latter when he was little and lived in a lake." He grinned.

Sam smiled. "I guess I can understand that!"

"What do you like?"

"I like some variety." She grinned. "In many areas..."

Martouf raised an eyebrow and smiled. "I see. I shall remember."

She felt herself blush lightly and quickly drank some of her tea. "Do you want dessert?"

He gave her a mischievous look. "That depends... are we talking about food - or something else..."

Sam's blushed deepened. "Food, you, you rascal." She smiled.

"Rascal?" He grinned again, pleased with her reaction. "Well, in that case I believe I shall be too full before I have eaten even what is on the table now. Later, perhaps, as I am most interested in learning as much about this planet as I can."

"Sure," Sam said. "You'll at least get to see a lot more about our daily life this way."

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