[ Chapter 1: The Storm Hits | Chapter 2: Finding Shelter | Chapter 3: Safe - but Trapped | Chapter 4: The Valley | Chapter 5: Looking for Food | Chapter 6: Enjoying Each Others Company | Chapter 7: Dreams | Chapter 8: Side Effects | Chapter 9: A Way Out | Chapter 10: Going Home ]

Summary: Sam and Martouf/Lantash are free and are going home. On the way back, there is time to discuss their future.

"We're actually out!" Sam exclaimed, looking back at the mountains. "Fantastic!" She hugged Martouf/Lantash.

"We are." He embraced her as well and smiled warmly at her, before giving her a kiss.

Sam returned the kiss, and for some time they forgot about everything else. Then she suddenly remembered the radio which they had kept turned off the most of the time, to preserve power. There had been no reason to keep it activated while they were in the valley, as the mountains had blocked any signals, but now there was a chance - if someone was on the planet looking for them.

"I better check this." She held up the radio, and Martouf nodded. She turned it on. "Hello? This is Major Samantha Carter. Is anyone receiving?" She waited for a few moments, and when she got no answer, she repeated what she had said.

After so long a time had passed that they thought no one would answer, the radio crackled.

"Carter? Is that you? This is Colonel O'Neill," he sounded almost disbelieving.

"Affirmative, sir, and it's good to hear you voice."

"Not half as good as it is to hear yours! We've searched for you for days! Are you alright? Is Martouf with you?"

"Yes, sir. And we're both fine."

"Great. That's great! Where are you?"

"About 25-30 miles from the Stargate, I think downstream, most of the way."

"Wow... and you're really okay?" O'Neill wondered, surprised they had been washed that far along by the river - and survived.

"We are - and we actually walked some of the way. It's a long story."

"I bet it is. Okay, understood. I'll inform General Hammond - and the Tok'ra. Your dad is on his way in a teltac, to search for you. He should be here tomorrow - which is probably about when you're back here. The ground is still too soft for any sort of vehicle, so you'll have to walk - carefully, I'm afraid."

"That's alright. We'll see you tomorrow."

"Okay - I'll go tell the others the good news. O'Neill, out."

Sam turned off the radio and smiled at Martouf. "Well, you heard. We're going home!"

They had walked for a couple hours, mostly in quiet, though now and then talking about this or that.

"Samantha?" Martouf said, grabbing her hand and stopping her. "There is something Lantash and I would like to talk to you about... now, before we return to our daily lives."

Sam turned to look at him, nodding. "Yes? What is it?"

"I fear, otherwise, a long time may pass before we each other again, and then only rarely... and neither Lantash nor I wish to go back to the occasional, chance visit."

"I agree, but surely we can arrange something... so we can meet more often?"

"That is our hope as well, Samantha, however..." He looked at her, a shy smile on his face. "We were hoping you would, perhaps, consider becoming our mate?"

"Your mate!" Sam looked at him, surprised. "Uh, isn't that a bit... quick?"

"Maybe so, but we are certain of our love for you, and you have told us you love us as well." He looked at her, clearly hoping she had truly meant it - and that she did not regret telling him. "If we do have to spend time apart, on different worlds, would it not be... comforting to know we are mates? It might, perhaps, also help convince your people and mine to allow us more time to visit each other, regularly. As well, we would be committed to a shared future, and could plan accordingly - arranging to live part of the time on your world, and part of the time with the Tok'ra, maybe?" he argued.

"You've certainly given it some thought!" Sam exclaimed, then smiled at him. "It is very sweet and kind, and part of me would love to agree to it... but even if we can get permission to split our time between your people and mine - and I'm by no means certain of that - then there's also a lot of other potential problems. Not the least that I'll grow old and die centuries before you - while you're no older than you are today!"

"That is true," Martouf said, sombrely, then bowed his head.

Lantash looked up at her, an intense expression on his face. "Samantha. As Martouf just said, we love you very much, and nothing would make us happier than if you would agree to be our mate." He hesitated. "Samantha, I know you have said you wouldn't blend again, but are you still completely certain of this?"

Sam opened her mouth to tell him she was, then stopped. Was she really sure she could not handle blending? She had been convinced she would never even consider it, but that was a long time ago. She no longer hated Jolinar, actually she was not sure she ever really did - except while she was her host, but then she had not even wanted to listen to what Jolinar had to say. How would that have been if she had known what a Tok'ra was? If she had talked with Jolinar, and they had gotten the time to get to know each other? Would she have liked being blended?

She did not know. Maybe. There were times when she envied Martouf and Lantash their close relationship. Times when she wished she was a Tok'ra. She sighed.

"I wish I could say with certainty that I would blend, but I can't. However, I can tell you that I'm no longer as opposed to the idea as I once was, and that I may consider it someday. I don't think I'm ready for it yet, but... actually, it's very possible I one day will want to blend." She smiled at him. "Especially if I become your mate - I don't want to die in, perhaps, 40-50 years, if I could have a few centuries with the two of you."

Lantash looked relieved, and smiled at her. "More likely 350-400 years if you blend fairly soon."

"Wow, well think of all things I'd have time to learn!" Sam pulled him to her, kissing him.

"And all the pleasures we would get to share." Lantash grinned, returning her kiss.

"Most definitely that!" Sam murmured, closing her eyes as Lantash trailed kisses down the side of her neck. Becoming his mate sounded very appealing to her... and more so the longer she thought about it.

The way back to the Stargate was fairly good the first few miles, but the closer they got to the river, and the lower the altitude, the softer the ground became. They had to pick their way slowly, making large detours around the most muddy areas, and that made the trip take a good deal longer than it otherwise should have.

Fortunately, the weather was good, as the only shelter they could find were some large, old trees, where the branches had grown together and formed a partially enclosed space. Cuddled closely together, and with the blankets wrapped around them, they slept soundly.

The next morning, they continued on towards the Stargate. The ground had dried up more since the day before, and it was easier to walk now, as long as they stayed some distance away from the river.

It was early afternoon, when they reached the road leading to the bridge that had been washed away.

"I wonder if the river is still too full and moving too fast for us to swim across?" Sam wondered.

After thinking for a few moments, Martouf answered, "I'm afraid that is likely. There would have fallen a lot of rain, which has gathered in the river, as it is much lower than the terrain around it. It will probably be some days yet before it is as calm as it was when we arrived."

Before they had time to further consider what to do, Martouf looked up, hearing something.

"What is it?" Sam asked.

"A teltac, I believe." He pointed at the rapidly approaching vessel.

"Dad! At least I hope it's him."

"We will know soon."

"You know, it's time we gave you guys some of our radios, for situations like this!" Sam said, just as her radio crackled.

"Hello? This is Jacob."

She answered it, "Dad! It's me, Sam. Martouf is here with me."

"Yes, the SGC informed me as soon as they had gotten contact. I decided to stop by anyway and see if you could use a little help getting back. Well, it's time to land. I'll see you soon."

The teltac landed a short distance from them, and Sam and Martouf/Lantash hurried to it.

"Hi, dad!" Sam called, when Jacob stepped out from the spaceship.

"Hello, Jacob," Martouf greeted him.

"Sam, Martouf," Jacob nodded at them. "Good to see you're all right." He grinned. " What do you think of Selmak's little trick managing to lock our communications on to your radio? Neat, huh?"

"Very, neat." Sam smiled. "Nice work, Selmak!"

Jacob dipped his head, giving Selmak control.

"Thank you, Samantha. It is good to see you well." She turned to Martouf. "And you, Martouf. We feared you might have perished in the storm."

"We feared that as well, for some time. However, Samantha saved us." Martouf smiled.

He and Sam began to explain all that had happened - with some omissions - as they all entered the teltac.

"Samantha..." He smiled at her. "May I come in?"

"Yes, of course, Martouf." She stepped aside and smiled back at him, then frowned, seeing he was wearing his Tok'ra uniform again. "Are you leaving soon?"

He got a mischievous glint in his eyes as he stepped inside. "Not necessarily. Jacob has taken the opportunity to visit his son and grandchildren, and I thought I might wait for his return. It all depends on you."

They had returned to the SGC some hours ago, and after a bath and a checkup in the infirmary, they had been debriefed. Martouf/Lantash had then left the room to talk to Jacob/Selmak, about Tok'ra related business, and Sam had gone to her quarters.

Sam looked relieved, and smiled again. "I'd very much like you to stay."

He smiled widely. "Then I shall stay, Samantha."

She closed the door, and they embraced, kissing each other warmly. There might be a great number of obstacles they needed to overcome, but together they would succeed.