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Christmas/advent calendar - Day 13

"Come - it's time to go to the Halloween party," Janet said.

"In a moment," Sam answered, before going back to helping the others put together the 3-D puzzle.

"There's lots of yummy food - and the room looks really great. Weren't you looking forward to the party?" O'Neill reminded them.

"Yes..." Martouf admitted. "We just wanted to finish this." He pointed at the puzzle.

"It does not appear to be close to completion. Perhaps you can continue this project tomorrow? If you wish for me to assist you, I would be honoured to do so." Teal'c offered.

"That'd be great, Teal'c, thanks!" Daniel smiled. "Okay - we're coming."

The children all got up and followed Janet/Rhiva, O'Neill, and Teal'c.

"So, what did I tell you? Doesn't the room look great?" O'Neill asked, smiling at the children.

"It looks fantastic!" Sam breathed.

"Very... cool," Martouf said, backing a little from the doorway, when he discovered the large spider hanging just in front of him.

Daniel grinned, giving the spider a thwack. "It's fake. Plastic."

Martouf nodded, and followed Sam and Daniel into the room. Anise hesitantly went after them, taking care to keep as large a distance as possible to the spider.

The large recreation room had been decorated mostly in black and orange, with a few other colours mixed in. Large - fake - cobwebs hung in corners and in lamps, and small and large spiders were placed in them or dangling down from them. Small pumpkins decorated the tables, and the large pumpkins the children had carved were standing among smaller ones, with lit candles in them.

The light was subdued, with candles providing the only light. Small skeletons, ghosts, and other items meant to provide the right 'atmosphere', were placed on the walls, and hanging from the roof. It was clear the personnel assigned to this 'mission' had invested a lot of time and energy in the job.

Food and drink were being brought in while they looked - and that, too, were made to fit the rest.

"Wow, those drinks look awesome!" Daniel exclaimed, going to grab one.

"What are they?" Martouf asked, carefully.

"That one's called 'Ghoulish Punch'," Hailey explained. "And no, it's got nothing to do with 'Goa'uld'."

"I know. Daniel explained the difference earlier today." Martouf said. "What's in it? It's green... and with some sort of white foam floating on it. Lantash thinks it's disgusting, and maybe dangerous."

"It's supposed to be disgusting! Look at the rest of the food and drink!" Sam told him, rolling her eyes.

"It's just lime gelatin, orange juice, mineral water, and orange sherbet. Try it!" Hailey smiled at him.

"Okay." Martouf took a glass and studied it carefully, before taking a very small sip. "It tastes great!" He looked surprised.

"I'll get one too, then!" Sam said.

"And me!" Anise took a glass from the table.

"I think I prefer this one," Daniel said, sniffing the glass he had picked up.

"Nope, sorry - that one's for the adults, Daniel!" Hailey grabbed the glass. "It's 'Vampire Sangria' - it's made with red wine and orange juice, and some other stuff."

"Can I have one of those, then?" Daniel pointed at a light green drink, with a gummy worm and gummy fish in. A light mist had formed at the top.

"Ah, 'swamp juice'." Hailey grinned. "Sure, go right ahead." She winked at Janet. "Mineral water, lemonade, tapioca pearls, and food colouring - and the gummy candy. The mist is from dry ice - which has evaporated now. Can't harm him."

"Okay." Janet nodded, still eyeing the drinks suspiciously. "I guess I'll have a, uh, 'vampire sangria'."

After gettings drinks, they each grabbed a plate and started filling it with the different kinds of - fun and disgusting-looking - food. There were sandwiches made to look like severed fingers, baked potatoes made to resemble heads, pizza with mozzarella cheese cut out in little ghost-shapes, small hotdogs made to look like mummies, a large chocolate cake that resembled a graveyard, cookies shaped like pumpkins, and much much more. The cooks had been very creative.

When everyone was full, O'Neill had a game for the children - and for any adults that wanted to participate as well.

"It's called 'bobbing for apples'," O'Neill explained. "Lots of you probably know it, but for those that don't, I'll explain... see that large basin full with water? We're going to put a bunch of apples in it, and then you try to catch an apple, and pick it out of the water - using only your teeth. Get it? You can't use your hands - we'll tie them behind your backs to prevent cheating!"

"That sounds difficult," Freya observed.

"How hard can it be?" Martouf insisted. "Just bite into the apple and pick it up!"

"Hard - trust me. I've tried it before," Sam told him.

"But we're ready to try!" Daniel said, looking confident.

"Do you time us? Is there a prize for the winner?" Sam wanted to know.

"No, this is just for fun - though there are prizes, sort of... for everyone." O'Neill promised. "Something my uncle made for me when I was a kid. Something edible."

"What?" Daniel asked.

"You'll see - you've probably tried it, they still make it."

"Okay." Daniel sighed dramatically.

Janet tied Martouf's hands behind his back, then pointed at the water-filled tub with apples floating in it. "Okay, try to pick up one."

"Of course." Martouf awkwardly kneeled beside the basin, and leaned out over the water. He tried catching the nearest apple, but it rolled and slipped aside, and he almost stumbled, dipping his face in the water.

O'Neill stood beside the container, ready to help, so no one got their head under water. Martouf sent him a glare, making it clear he did not need assistance. He righted himself, and looked at the apples, which were floating and rolling around on the surface of the water.

He made another attempt to catch an apple that were floating nearby, but it got away as well. After a couple more attempts, he pushed one of the apples against the side of the basin, and managed to keep it there for long enough to bite into it, and pick it up from the water.

Victorious, he stumbled to his feet, with the apple still in his mouth.

"Nice!" Janet said, hurrying to untie his hands.

"Well done!" O'Neill smiled.

"You're good at it!" Sam admitted, giving him a hug, then turning to Janet. "My turn now?"

"Sure. Come, let me tie your hands."

"Can I eat the apple?" Martouf asked.

"If you want to, but aren't you full? You also need to save some appetite for my surprise, after the contest," O'Neill told him.

"Lantash can tempo-rarily raise our me-ta-bolism... oh, and he wants to try to pick up an apple also," Martouf told them.

"It's my turn after Sam," Daniel said.

Martouf bowed his head, giving Lantash control.

"I can wait." He looked at Freya. "What about you?"

"You are welcome to go first. Anise suggests we study various people's tactics, before attempting this."

Lantash nodded. "A sound strategy."

Eventually, all the children had succeeded in picking an apple out of the basin, using only their mouths. Lantash had been much better at it than Martouf, but the others insisted it was just because he had observed how his host did. Lantash was somewhat miffed about this, but too much fun was going on for him to be angry for long.

Some of the adults tried bobbing for apples as well, and the children enjoyed looking on, and seeing that they were generally no better at it.

"So... time for that surprise of yours, right?" Sam asked, looking at O'Neill. "You said it was almost like a prize for each of us!"

"Well, that might be stretching it a little." O'Neill admitted. "But I do think you'll like it. Teal'c! Let's go get the goodies."

"Of course, O'Neill."

"See, these are candy apples - and I'm sure plenty of you folks have tried these before. Or so you think, because you haven't tried these candy apples. They're made with the special recipe of my uncle Patrick O'Neill. You see... the trick is to use small, tart, not too soft apples."

O'Neill and Teal'c each put a large tray down on the table. The red candy apples had been sprinkled with coconut flakes, and really did look very delicious.

"Nice!" Sam said, her eyes sparkling.

"Can we take one each?" Lantash asked.

Wise from experience, O'Neill knew what Lantash was asking. "You and Martouf can have one, to share. If it turns out that you're still hungry after that, then you can have another. Okay?"

"Okay." Lantash nodded.

Teal'c had left the room, and now came in again, carrying a very large bowl, which turned out to contain popcorn balls.

"Looks like they turned out great, Teal'c!" O'Neill grinned, grabbing one of the treats and eating it. "Yummy. We tried these in a store somewhere, and decided to try and cook some."

"The idea was mine, but you were not adverse to it," Teal'c observed.

"What's popcorn balls?" Anise wanted to know.

"You know what popcorn is, right?" Daniel asked.

"Yes, of course!" She rolled her eyes.

"Well, this is popcorn, stirred in some sort of caramel, and rolled into balls," Daniel explained.

"That is a very short version, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c observed.

"But essentially correct," O'Neill hurriedly said, not wanting any long explanations. "Listen, we need to go get one more thing, then we've got it all, okay?"

"Sure you don't need help carrying anything?" Janet asked.

"No, we're good." O'Neill assured her.

He and Teal'c left, only to return after a little while, pushing a rolling table between them. On the table stood enough cups for everyone in the room, and a large pot, with steam coming up from.

"What's that? Witches brew?" Daniel asked, grinning.

"Yeah, that's what we're calling it." O'Neill smiled at him. "Want any?"

Daniel sniffed. "Smells good."

"What is it?" Lantash asked, suspiciously, when Teal'c poured him a cup.

"Apple juice, honey, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and orange," Teal'c informed him.

"Careful - it's hot!" O'Neill warned, as he and Teal'c poured the drink to the children.

"I'm always careful!" Sam insisted, blowing on the hot brew.

"You've really done a good job!" Janet said. "Rhiva and I are feeling guilty for leaving most of this on you."

"Nah, don't worry about it, we know you've got stuff to do at the Tok'ra... though, if you're feeling guilty, you can always bake us a cake." O'Neill smiled as Janet rolled her eyes at him.

"Can I have another candy apple?" Lantash asked. "Please?"

O'Neill, Teal'c, and Janet all grinned.

"Sure, sweetheart. Here you go." Janet handed him one, and he happily ran over to join the other children, who were playing a game.

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