Party Hats

Prompt: #168 Party

Notes: Written for theatrical muse. Sam's POV.

Another planet; another mission. That's what I had expected this to be before we actually arrived here. According to our briefing prior to leaving, it was supposed to be your average, run-of-the-mill visits. It couldn't have been more wrong.

When we came through, Daniel had wanted to check out the remnants of what used to be a civilisation by the 'gate, so Teal'c stayed on with him and I went with the Colonel to investigate into any signs of life. I'm not certain of what Daniel and Teal'c found out – we haven't had a chance to talk about it yet – but what I found…let's just say wow!

After walking for about an hour with Colonel O'Neill, we came across a cliff-face scattered with caves. The brush was thick but we managed to get through with some difficulty. I have scratches all over my arms and face to prove it!

Anyway, inside the caves I went on ahead while the Colonel followed further behind. The only illumination was the light from our flashlights and in the depths of the caves, that wasn't much. (Note to self: get brighter flashlights for next mission.)

I noticed a tunnel off to the right so took the turn, gun at the ready, and there it was. Or rather, there they were. A party of five 'beings' were crowded into a small nook in the rock, seemingly in the middle of a heated discussion. The strangest thing was the topic they were brushing on. (Well, their pink fluffy ears may have topped it, but only nearly…)

I almost snorted when I heard what they were saying. I had never heard anything so…insane. They were arguing over the possible existence of the orange peas. They went on for what felt like hours before deciding to agree to disagree that they did in fact exist, but were only visible to some.

One of the beings disappeared then, only to appear moments later with a huge party hat and balloon. The cute little hat looked extremely out of place on its bald, scaly head and I almost forgot to keep quiet and giggled to myself.

Luckily, they didn't notice me so I backed out slowly, hand covering my mouth to keep in the laughter, and made my way back to report to Colonel O'Neill. I couldn't find him though. Heart racing with exhilarating adrenalin, I moved back out of the cave's mouth and scanned the immediate vicinity for signs of him. Nothing. He must have found another tunnel or something.

I turned back again and cautiously weaved my way back through the cave, searching for any tunnels that I may have missed before. There were none up to the point where I had found the five beings.

Maybe…I pulled my radio out and, pressing on the transmit button, whispered to the Colonel. "Sir? Have you got anything?" I let the button go and waited for him to answer.

A crackle of static later and I got my response. "Yeah, Carter. About that…" came a muffled reply. "I want you to know something," he added. Another crackle came and then silence.

"Sir?" I waited for him to continue, glancing up the tunnel towards the distant sound of voices – probably more of those things conspiring about the orange peas. I slowly dropped down onto the ground, kneeling in the dirt.

"Oh, yeah. Sorry about that," Colonel O'Neill said, moments later. "I thought I saw something." He paused again and the ragged sound of someone coughing up a lung came over the radio.

I stared into the darkness, alarmed. "Are you okay? Colonel?" My voice wavered – even I could hear it – and I grimaced. I so did not want to appear weak or vulnerable or caring. Especially caring. I didn't want him to know how much I cared about him. I really didn't.

"Yeah, sure, you betcha!" Colonel O'Neill replied weakly. "I'm good, Carter. Don't worry about it." Yet another crackle split through the silence. "Anyway, Carter. I wanted you to know that I've quit my job with Stargate Command and become a spokesperson for the Ab Roller."

I sat still for a little while, trying to digest what I had just heard. "Sir? Can you repeat that?" I finally said. I rubbed my temples, sure I had heard wrong. Maybe there was a chemical in the air that hadn't been detected by the MALP or any of our other equipment that was causing me to hallucinate. Or not. Maybe I had just been watching too much of The X Files lately.

"I've quit my job with Stargate Command and become a spokesperson for the Ab Roller," Colonel O'Neill repeated. His tone was serious and again, I sat in disbelief, staring down at the dark shapes that were my feet.

I blinked a few times, trying to clear my head and then clamped my eyes shut for a minute or two with no sound but the crackling of my radio to hear. Another minute or so passed and I opened my eyes again.

I wasn't in the cave anymore.

"Sir? Where am I?" I looked up at Colonel O'Neill's smirking face in confusion. "I was…I thought…what happened?" Glancing around, I knew immediately that I was back on Earth. The familiar smell of antiseptics and hospital smell filled my nose. Clearly I was in the infirmary.

My guess was proved correct when Janet came over. "Hey, sweetie," she said with a smile. "Nice to see you awake again!" She reached over and handed me something. It took my foggy brain several seconds to comprehend what it was. It was a little party hat, exactly like the one I had seen with the beings in the caves.