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8.

"They're here!" Mark said, getting up from his chair when the doorbell rang.

Jacob switched off the television. He had not succeeded in finding anything interesting there either. Instead he followed his son out into the hallway.

*Energy signature,* Selmak remarked, calling his attention to it. *Just outside the door. And it is not Samantha, though I believe I sense that too - the one from her feels different, more spread out and thus fainter. At a distance, at least.*

*What the Hell? I wonder if Sam knows? Unless it's Teal'c, of course, who for some reason went with her.* He frantically looked around for something that could be used as a weapon.

*There is a walking stick among the umbrellas,* Selmak told him. *It is unlikely to be Teal'c, as he is currently with Daniel Jackson, helping out on an off world archaeological dig, as we were told by General Hammond,* she reminded him. *You can relax, though. Not only will the person outside have sensed us, if it is a Goa'uld - or Tok'ra - but he would be unlikely to stay there if he was an enemy, knowing we can sense him. Also, I think I recognize the energy signature.*

Mark opened the door before Jacob or Selmak could decide on an action.

"Hi, Sam!" Mark said.

"Hello, Mark." Sam gave her brother a hug. "This is Martouf." She indicated the man standing beside her.

"Welcome... Martouf?"

"Yes. Thank you. I am honoured by the invitation," Martouf said, making the small traditional Tok'ra half-bow, with his hands before his chest.

"Uh..." Mark frowned, not expecting that kinds of greeting. "Sure, glad you could make it."

*Well, that explains the energy signature and its familiarity. It is Lantash I sense," Selmak observed, pleased. *And it also explains why Samantha would bring him - I know he wanted to learn more about your culture, and this is a good opportunity for that.*

*Yeah. He must have returned from the mission earlier than expected.*

"Well, come on in, both of you," Mark said. "Marian has heated some food for you."

"Thanks. We've just got some stuff we need to get inside first," Sam said.

"I'll help you with that," Jacob said, stepping closer. "Hi, Sam! Glad you could make it."

"Hi, dad!" Sam hugged him. "Thanks."

Jacob turned to Martouf when he had let go of Sam. "Martouf - I hadn't expected to see you here!"

"Hello, Jacob. No, I had thought the mission would take much longer, but I was able to return in time for... the holiday. I will assist Samantha with her study of, ah, with her research, and that means she will have time to celebrate with her family, which pleases me greatly. I am very grateful that she has kindly offered that I can accompany her." He turned to Mark. "And very grateful that you and your wife is allowing me to share this time with you."

"Ah, it's no problem," Mark said. He smiled. "I noticed your quick catch there - almost mentioning whatever it is you and Sam is working on. Don't worry, I won't pry. I'm aware some of it is secret, even though I can't for the life of me understand why deep space radio telemetry can be of importance to national security." Then he frowned. "You know my dad?"

"Yes. We have... worked together... on several occasions."

"Right. Okay." Mark shook his head. "Well, let's get your stuff inside so you can get something to eat."

Marian entered, having heard part of the conversation. "Hi, Sam! Hi... uh, Martin? Was that your name?"

"Martouf. Hello, mrs. Carter," Martouf said, repeating the half-bow from before.

"Oh!" She smiled. "Please call me Marian! So, Martouf - interesting name. Where are you from?"

"I am told that it is... confidential." He gave her a charming smile, and threw a quick look at first Sam, then Jacob.

"It is," Sam quickly said. "His people are allied with us, but not officially. There's... another faction who would not be happy, and for various diplomatic reasons we can't admit to the alliance right now. It also means most about Martouf's background is secret." She smiled sheepishly. "Sorry."

Marian shook her head. "That's crazy!"

"And so typical of the Air Force!" Mark complained, his voice rising.

"Yeah, let's not talk about that right now!" Jacob said sharply, not wanting to risk reopening a discussion they had had many times before.

"I agree. I'd also like to remind you not to wake up the kids," Marian told them. "Sam, I've prepared the guestrooms upstairs for you and... Martouf. The bathroom is located between them, as you know, and shared. I hope that's not a problem?"

"Not at all. That'll work nicely. Thanks, Marian," Sam said, realizing suddenly that they had been unsure of her relationship with the man she brought along, and had tried to arrange for all eventualities.


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