Sam looked at the clock on the wall in her quarters. It was only a little after 5PM. No reason to leave for dinner yet. She could at least finish the report on the alien device she had been working on.
She sighed. It was a little after 5PM on December 29th, 2000. Sam's 31st birthday! There was no one on the base except herself and a skeleton crew. Her teammates were all away.
O'Neill was with his ex-wife Sara, trying to figure out if they still had a chance of reviving their relationship. Daniel had happily agreed to join an excavation of some fascinating ruins on P3X-836, and Teal'c was with his family. Janet and Cassandra were visiting Janet's sister and family.
Of course, Sam could have celebrated Christmas and her birthday with Mark and his family, but while they were getting along much better now, she had not felt like intruding. Especially not with Mark's wife's sister visiting. It would only have ended badly with Sam and her in the same house anyway. Maybe next year, if her dad could make it. This year he was on a mission, of course, so she had not expected him to visit.
Not that she really cared if anyone visited her. With no one here, she had time to work.
On her birthday.
Sighing, she picked up her cup and drank the last bit of cold coffee. Grimacing, she went back to work.
It was perhaps a half hour later when someone knocked on the door. Sam looked up, frowning. She called out, "The door's open. Who is it?"
Whomever it was, opened the door.
"Martouf!" Sam looked at the smiling man, very surprised. Then she smiled. "Come in."
"Thank you." He stepped inside.
"What are you doing here? Is my dad with you?"
Martouf shook his head. "No, Jacob is on a mission. I am sorry."
"Don't be. I'm happy to see you."
"Jacob told me it is your birthday - and he also explained some of how it is celebrated in your culture. Happy birthday, Samantha."
"Thank you. Listen, are you in a hurry?"
"No, I am not expected back on the base until tomorrow. Samantha, I brought you something from your father. Just a moment." He stepped back out through the still open door, and picked up something that stood in the corridor. "Here, Samantha." He gave her a fairly long package.
"Thanks. This is from dad?" Sam asked, weighing the gift in her hands. "It's pretty heavy. What is it?"
"Open it." Martouf smiled.
Sam opened it, then smiled widely. "It's a telescope!" She took it out and held it up, studying it. "It's made from brass and wood..." She peered through it. "Good lenses..."
Martouf nodded. "It is well made."
"It's beautiful!" Sam shook her head. "I had a small telescope as a kid, but I always wanted a bigger one. Something like this. I didn't know dad even remembered!"
"He knew you wanted it the moment he saw it. He told me."
Sam nodded. "He was right. Where did you find it? I didn't know anyone out there made things like this, but I guess why not?*
"In fact, there are a number of worlds producing things like that."
"It's not of Goa'uld make. Different style..."
"No, obviously not. It would be more advanced if it was." He gave her a wry smile. "We found it in a market on Tesana. It was not made there, but my guess is either the Lokhans or Rinddi constructed it - from the design, I mean."
"It's really nice. Tell my dad thank you when you see him.*
"I will, but you can do so yourself as well. The mission he is on should be over in a couple weeks, and Jacob said he would try to take some time to visit you then."
"That sounds great! I have plenty of vacation time I can take!"
"He will be pleased." Martouf smiled. "Lantash and I have something for you as well." He again stepped outside into the corridor and picked up something.
"Oh. You didn't have to..."
"I wanted to. We both did." He smiled and handed her a large flower bouquet and a small box. "Happy birthday, Samantha."
"Thank you!" She accepted the gifts. "The flowers are very pretty. They look very much like some of the older types of roses, except I've never seen those in blue."
"They are called wedj'hr't - which just translates to 'blue flower'."
Sam nodded. "That's Goa'uld, I assume?"
"Yes," Martouf said.
"I think I have a vase over here..." Sam went to look in the cupboard under her nightstand. "Oh, could you close the door? There aren't that many people on the base right now, but I prefer a bit of privacy."
"Of course. Sorry." Martouf quickly shut the door.
"Ah, here it is!" Sam said, as she pulled out a clear glass vase. "I got this one from Janet and Cassie last year, with some sort of flowers in. Cassie loves flowers."
"I believe it will be quite suitable."
"So do I." Sam went to her bathroom and poured water in the vase, then put it on her nightstand. She arranged the flowers in the vase, smiling. "Yes, very nice!"
"I agree. Don't forget the other gift." Martouf smiled at her.
She took the present from the table where she had put it down while looking for the vase. She untied the silk ribbon and opened the box. "Oh, wow!" She picked up the necklace inside and looked at it. "It's beautiful!"
"I have never seen you wear any kind of jewelry - except the 'dog tags', so I did not know if you would like it, but the sapphire is almost exactly the colour of your eyes, so I thought..."
Sam smiled at him. "I love it! Thank you so much!" She suddenly threw her arms around him, hugging him closely.
Surprised, Martouf froze for a moment, then quickly returned the embrace. "I am very pleased you like it."
Sam disentangled herself from the embrace and looked at him with an embarrassed expression on her face. "Oh, my god! I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to..."
"There is no reason to apologize. I am not averse to being embraced by you." He smiled at her, looking pleased. "As I said, I am happy you like the necklace. Would you like me to help you put it on?"
"Uh... yes. Thanks." She handed it to him.
Martouf stepped behind her and placed the necklace around her neck, closing the clasp. He straightened the gold cord slightly so the pendant hung perfectly. He turned her around and looked at her, smiling. "It looks beautiful on you, but then everything would. You are beautiful, Samantha." He gave her a shy look.
"Thanks." Sam blushed a little and walked over to look in her mirror. "It's very lovely... and it looks very expensive. Martouf... you really shouldn't..."
"It is for you, Samantha. If it will help you to know, then I can tell you that the Tok'ra are not poor. We find many gemstones and much gold and other valuable metals when we create our tunnels. Some of it we use for setting operatives up as minor Goa'uld, which can be costly, and some we use to pay for food, clothes, and other necessities. Some we use to help the people of various worlds... and still we have large amounts left over. Do not be concerned for us... or for me." He smiled at her.
Sam nodded. "I guess I knew it had to be that way, but you still wear those uniforms which look... well, worn and patched up and such." She smiled wryly.
"Indeed. That is very much on purpose, since it helps us to 'blend in' on the worlds we go to - both among the population, and when we are hiding in the environment. There are other reasons, but these are the main ones." He stepped closer and took her hand, squeezing it gently. "Now, does that satisfy your curiosity?"
She did not pull her hand away. "Yes. Thank you." She smiled at him.
He bowed his head, and Lantash took control. He looked back up at her, smiling.
"Samantha, may I give you something as well?"
"The necklace and flowers are from both of you, aren't they?"
He nodded, caressing her hand with his thumb. "Yes, they are... and this is from us both as well..." He leaned closer and gave her soft kiss, pressing his lips to hers for just a moment, before pulling back. "I hope you liked this gift as well?" He looked at her with equal parts hope and concern.
Sam looked surprised for a moment, then she smiled again. "Yes, I did. Very much, in fact..." She licked her lips, and then kissed him back.
Lantash put his arms around her and pulled her closer, as they shared another kiss. This was longer than the first, and not as gentle. When they pulled back, they were both a little out of breath.
"My sweet Samantha..." Lantash smiled at her, taking both her hands in his.
"Lantash..." Sam squeezed his hands. "You know... I was just about to go get some dinner when you arrived. Just something from the mess hall, but would you like to come?"
"I would be delighted."
"Great. Afterwards we can go back here, if you want. I have some wine, and we can watch a movie if you like. Or just talk, or... whatever. What do you say?"
"Martouf and I would both like that very much." He pulled her closer and gave her another kiss.
Sam held him close and smiled. This was turning out to be a great birthday after all!