BY ANY OTHER NAME
It was a perfect day. The winds were calm and the ocean below them was as placid as John had ever seen, smooth as glass and reflecting the jumper like a living mirror. The sun was shining and the sensors had shown clear skies all the way to the mainland and beyond. It was an ideal day for a trip to the mainland. John glanced to the back of the jumper where Teyla sat. She smiled at him and John felt himself grinning back at her. Yep, he decided, turning his attention back to the forward view screen, it was a perfect day….
“Whoa there!” John reached over to the controls quickly when the jumper pitched, steadying the small craft with practiced ease. He heard a thud and a muffled yelp and glanced quickly back over his shoulder, a slight grin tugging at his lips when he saw Teyla pushing herself upright.
“I told you I’m not a pilot!” Carson reiterated for at least the hundredth time, throwing up his hands, and the jumper pitched again.
“Put your hands back on the controls!” John admonished their reluctant pilot, steadying the craft once more until Beckett grimaced and huffed and finally took the controls.
“What’s with you?” Sheppard asked, his perfect day diminishing somewhat. “You’d think this was the first time you’ve ever flown one of these things.”
Beckett huffed again before sighing heavily. “I just didn’t sleep well last night. I have a lot on my mind.”
John grinned. “Would any of that have to do with your date with Cadman tonight?” He clapped the doctor on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, you’ll be back in plenty of time for your big date.”
“Laura is a nice girl,” Teyla added from the back.
“She’s a very sweet girl,” Carson said dreamily and the jumper tumbled into a gentle roll.
John quickly braced himself, his innate pilot’s sense kicking in, but by the series of thuds and muffled Athosian words he could hear coming from the back of the ship, Teyla was caught off guard again. Reaching out with one hand, John managed to stop the roll and righted the small ship; Carson had managed to keep his seat but looked a bit green around the gills.
“You okay back there, Teyla?” John called while deftly getting the jumper back on course.
“I will be fine once we are on dry land,” she answered tartly.
“Maybe you better take over, Colonel,” Beckett pleaded.
“No…you get right back on the horse after you’ve fallen off.” John was adamant. “Just concentrate on piloting the jumper. Don’t let your mind drift from the job at hand.”
Carson let out another heavy sigh. “Very well.” His brow furrowed and his lips moved silently, totally focused on the controls. John smiled and shook his head; he wondered if the doctor was praying or reciting the rudimentary jumper flight manual John had developed. He guessed it didn’t matter either way, just as long as they got to the mainland.
After several minutes of blessedly uneventful flight, and with land looming on the horizon, John figured it was safe to leave the controls and go aft for a few minutes.
“I’ll be right back,” he told Beckett as he stood. The doctor didn’t remove his eyes from the controls, merely nodded his head.
John took the few steps that led him to the back of the jumper and stood in the doorway, studying the woman sitting there. “You okay?” She looked fine, if not the tiniest bit annoyed, but it was so hard to tell with Teyla. Even after over a year of working with her, she remained a mystery to him. A mystery he hoped to solve one day, but a mystery none-the-less.
Her dark eyes flashed and held his for a moment before she answered. “I am fine.”
He raised an eyebrow and didn’t say anything, sitting down next to her. In his experience when a woman said she was ‘fine’, she really wasn’t. But then again, this was Teyla. So maybe she really was fine. “He didn’t mean any harm.”
“I know,” she answered ruefully. “I’m not so sure my bruises understand that.”
“Hey, you get more bruises during our workouts!” he teased.
She arched an elegant eyebrow, her lips curving in a half smile. John laughed. “Okay, maybe I’m the one who gets bruised.”
Stretching his long legs out in front of him, John lounged back against the bulkhead. “So, what are you going to do while Carson holds his clinic?” The only reason he had volunteered to oversee this routine visit with Carson was the fact that he had discovered that Teyla had requested to go to the mainland too. Otherwise, Lorne or one of the other pilots could have supervised Carson and his flight, as it certainly wasn’t something the senior military leader of the colony would be expected to do. But then he also wasn’t the typical base commander.
His life had certainly gotten more complicated since his promotion, which was also one of the reasons why he had volunteered for this trip—at least that was the reason he’d given Weir. Arranging to spend time with Teyla away from the sometimes claustrophobic atmosphere at Atlantis wasn’t something he was going to readily admit to Elizabeth, not when he had a mountain of paperwork waiting at his desk. Every now and then he just wanted to get away. And when it seemed like so much of his was life monitored and up for public scrutiny, there were still some things he worked hard to keep private...like his friendship with Teyla.
“It is almost time for Ranae’s marriage ceremony.” He recognized the name; Teyla had mentioned the woman’s impending nuptials after her last trip to the mainland. He nodded and she continued. “And I have been invited to participate in her ceremonial bridal cleansing.”
John raised an eyebrow. “Bridal cleansing? You mean, a bath?” His imagination immediately took a dive into the gutter at the thought of Teyla and her friends bathing together. It was with great effort that he cleared the prurient thoughts from taking over his higher—and lower—functions. He forced his eyes to keep looking at her face and not at…other parts of her anatomy.
She laughed softly. “Not exactly. The bride and her closest friends meet at the lake. Each of the bride’s friends sprinkles some water over her head as a symbol of renewal and purification and then Charan, as the eldest female of the village, will give a blessing.”
“Sounds…nice.” If not a little odd, he decided. But then, they weren’t exactly in Kansas anymore.
“Do they not have similar rituals on Earth?”
“Well, we do have bridal showers, but I know for a fact that they don’t involve water. The bride’s friends throw a party and bring gifts.” At her amused look he quickly added, “Her female friends.”
“Colonel Sheppard!” Carson’s slightly panic-tinged voice rang into the back of the jumper.
John refrained from rolling his eyes and stood, smiling at Teyla. “I’d better check on our pilot. We must be getting close to the mainland.”
They were indeed rapidly approaching the shoreline and John took his seat, watching carefully as Carson handled the controls. He’d already decided to have Carson set down in a field not too far from the main settlement—no point in giving their pilot more to stress about.
“You’re okay,” he reassured Beckett as the shoreline quickly gave way to the forests and plains of the mainland, some of the taller trees perilously close. “We need just a bit more elevation,” John pointed out when they brushed the top of a particularly tall conifer.
Carson’s knuckles were almost white, his face pinched. “Aye, Colonel,” he muttered and adjusted their altitude, the jumper now skimming safely over the tree line.
“There the clearing is,” John pointed to a break in the forest, the village and the lake just visible to the south and east of the meadow. To John’s relief, Carson showed more finesse in the landing than he had the rest of the flight, the jumper landing in the meadow as gently as a butterfly lands on a flower. Beckett collapsed back in his seat, his eyes closed and a look of utter relief on his face.
“Nice job!” John picked up his PDA and tapped in a few notations. “You’re good to go for another six months.”
Beckett opened his eyes and gave him a baleful look. “Now may I do my job?”
John ignored the not so subtle jibe and stowed the PDA. “That’s the whole reason we came here.”
Teyla already had the rear hatch open, the bright morning sun flooding the interior of the jumper as she piled the three large backpacks that held the doctor’s gear out on the grass. John set the jumper into a power-saving mode and by the time he made his way to the rear of the ship, Teyla and Carson had already put on two of the large packs.
“I guess this one is for me?” John asked, eying the third pack. Carson merely grunted and Teyla suppressed a smile. John winked at her and picked up the pack, it had to weigh at least fifty pounds. “What the heck do you have in here, Carson?” John complained, adjusting the straps. “Rocks?”
“Careful with that Colonel, if you don’t mind. It has the microscope in it.”
“Microscope?” John asked, following the other two out of the jumper, the hatch closing behind them. Teyla had already started off at a brisk pace down the trail that led to the village. It was a beautiful day for a hike and John felt some of his tension melt away at the warm feel of the sun against his skin and the fresh breeze that idly blew through the trees. “What do you need a microscope for?” he asked idly, slipping on his sunglasses and falling into step next to Carson.
“Oh, for the usual. Blood counts and the like. Did you know…”
John tuned Beckett out as he launched into a lecture about Athosian blood values, still murmuring appropriately every now and then. It was a technique he’d perfected after countless boring briefings and meetings. As Beckett continued to talking, John imagined that the doctor’s enthusiasm for his work was one of the reasons he was such a good doctor. But right now, he found his attention centering on the woman walking confidently in front of them and wondering how he was going to get to spend any time with her if she was supposed to go to this bridal washing thing.
Maybe, John thought optimistically, he could tag along with her. Stand guard or something, just in case they were attacked by the Wraith or some wild animal. Of course, given that the Wraith had been conspicuously absent of late and that the wildest animals around were some over-sized hares and an elusive creature the Athosians had dubbed a segonku, he seriously doubted whether Teyla would buy that reason.
The hike to the village didn’t take long, which was fortunate, given the packs they were carrying and John wasn’t anywhere closer to having a believable reason to accompany Teyla and her friends than he’d been at the start of their hike. The closer they drew to the center of the village, the more people they encountered and eventually a group of children gathered around them, chattering excitedly to Teyla and the doctor.
“Colonel, it is good to see you again.” Halling strode up through the throng of children, holding out his hand. John smiled at the other man, accepting the handshake and then his help with the heavy pack.
“Thanks, Halling.” John set the pack down and looked around the village. Everyone looked happy and healthy; several new buildings had been finished since the last time he’d been over. “Looks like you’re settling in.”
Halling looked around the small central square, pride evident on his face. “This is the first time we’ve felt like we could build a permanent settlement.” Halling smiled. “It’s a good feeling—and we have you to thank for it.”
“Well, I don’t know about that.” The other man’s thanks made John uncomfortable, since if it hadn’t been for them arriving at Atlantis and disturbing the Wraith, none of this would have been necessary. “Um…” John looked around, spying Carson and Teyla setting up the doctor’s clinic on the far side of the square. “I better go help Doctor Beckett,” he said, hefting up the pack with one hand and slowly stepping back. Halling smiled and nodded, not at all put out it seemed by his departure. “Right, so I’ll see you later.”
Skirting the people that were already lining up to see Beckett, John looked around for Teyla, who seemed to have disappeared in the short time it had taken him to reach their location. “Where’s Teyla?”
“Oh.” Carson looked around like he’d just noticed she was missing. “Gone off with her friends, I think. I told her we wouldn’t need her help.”
“We?” John set the pack down and slipped his sunglasses off.
“Aye.” Beckett was already busy opening the pack. “I need someone to help me.”
John frowned. “Don’t you have a nurse or somebody to do that?”
“Colonel Sheppard,” Beckett paused, the precious microscope safely in one hand and gestured expansively with the other. “Do you see a nurse or anyone here to help me?”
John’s frown deepened. This wasn’t working out the way he had planned at all. “Why didn’t we bring one?”
Carson set the microscope down, fiddling with the lenses and peering into the eye piece before pinning him with a stern look. “Because we’re short staffed right now, until the Daedalus returns.”
John briefly considered just making a break for it, but by the look in Beckett’s eye, he’d probably be sporting a hypodermic syringe in the ass if he tried to escape. Accepting his defeat with as much grace as he could muster, John sighed and carefully stowed his P90 under the table but kept the stunner close at hand. “What do I need to do?”
“Wash your hands.” Becket said with a grin, tossing a small plastic bottle at him.
Deftly catching the bottle of antibacterial hand cleanser the doctor always seemed to have with him, John squirted a generous amount onto his palm. Rubbing his hands together, he mustered a charming smile for their first customer, a young woman with a baby in her arms and two toddlers hanging onto her skirts. “My name is John. I’ll be your nurse today.”
John handed out the last of the chocolate kisses to their two last patients—a brother and sister sporting matching rashes. They both grinned, immediately unwrapping and popping the sweets into their mouths. “There you go,” he told them, sending them off to their mother, who clutched a tube of cream in her hand. “Be good now!” he called after them and then quickly grabbed the hand cleanser. “You’re sure they’re not contagious?” he asked Beckett, rubbing the cleanser vigorously into his skin.
“Positive. It’s just a wee touch of contact dermatitis.”
“So,” John said slowly, “that looks like the last of the patients.”
“Doctor! Colonel Sheppard!” Halling approached them, a broad smile on his friendly face. “You have been working hard, please come,” he invited. “Lakeisha has prepared a meal for you.”
“Why, thank you, Halling. That sounds quite lovely.” Carson stopped in his packing, an eager smile on his face.
“Ah…Doc, Halling, if it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll go find Teyla.” John slipped back on the vest he’d discarded halfway through the warm morning and grabbed his P-90. “Don’t leave without us,” he cautioned Carson with a grin and started walking down the short lane that he knew ended in the path to the lake.
“I believe she is still at the lake,” Halling called after him.
John threw a casual backwards wave and turned down the tree-lined path. He hadn’t gone far when he met a group of smiling and laughing women, one of whom was dressed in a white, flowing dress with flowers in her hair—the bride, he assumed. But there was no familiar dark face and sparkling brown eyes among the smiling faces. The women smiled and giggled when they saw him, which filled him with mild male paranoia, but he merely smiled benignly and nodded, saying, “Ladies,”—which only resulted in more murmuring and giggling. John was relieved to see Charan walking slowly up the trail behind the women.
“Colonel Sheppard,” the older woman greeted him.
“Charan.” He gestured to the group of women who had resumed their leisurely walk toward the village. “Where’s Teyla?”
She paused, leaning on her walking stick. “She is still at the lake.”
John wasn’t sure what to think about the glint in Charan’s eyes. The older woman saw way too much. “Ah, thanks,” he told her, nodding politely and waiting for her to pass.
“Colonel?” He looked back at Charan. “She is a special woman.”
John wasn’t sure what motivated Charan’s almost cryptic comment, so he just politely agreed. “I know.”
She studied him for a moment longer and then nodded, apparently satisfied. “Good day to you.”
“Uh…right. Good day.” John waited while Charan walked past him, and then watched the women for a moment longer. He wondered if he’d ever understand how the female mind worked. So far, he was just as clueless in the Pegasus Galaxy as he’d been in the Milky Way. Continuing on his way, John wondered what Teyla was doing and why she hadn’t returned with the other woman. Maybe she had wanted some time alone, away from the fishbowl that they lived in. An uneasy thought occurred to him, maybe she wanted some time away from him.
Rounding a gentle curve in the path, he finally saw the lake and his gloomy thoughts disappeared. It was an idyllic scene, the deep blue water surrounded by gently swaying trees, all nestled amidst lush grasses and flowers. The smooth surface of the lake was suddenly broken by a splash and Teyla’s head broke the surface of the glassy water, droplets flying as she shook the hair out of her face.
John stood stock still, transfixed by the sight, as she started a leisurely breast stroke toward the bank. She stopped about ten yards from the shore, her hands skimming gently over the surface of the clear water. John kept his eyes firmly fixed on her face, ignoring the tempting flashes of dark arms and legs just visible in the clear, blue water. Teyla smiled and John felt desire sit up and howl in his gut.
“Doctor Beckett is finished with his clinic?”
John tried to speak, but nothing came out. Clearing his throat, he tried again. “Yeah,” he answered gruffly. “How was your bridal thingy?”
She swam a bit closer. “It was very nice. Ranae is very happy.” She looked around, as if expecting to see someone else. “Where is Doctor Beckett?”
“Ah, having lunch I think, with someone named Lakeisha.” She nodded, apparently satisfied with the answer. “So,” he cleared his throat again. “How’s the water?”
His breath caught when she slowly started swimming backwards away from him, the water lapping gently at the top of her breasts. “The water is fine.” She looked him straight in the eye then. “Perhaps you would like to see for yourself?”
John was pretty sure his jaw dropped and while his brain worked on all the reasons why that was such a bad idea; he was already walking closer to the shore, his hands moving of their own accord and unclipping the P90. Teyla continued to smile at him, floating easily in the water, her hands moving idly over the surface. The grass around the lake was lush and deep, coming up to his knees, but his attention was focused totally on Teyla….
“What the hell?” John yelped when he stepped into a hole and something underfoot suddenly squealed and moved. Jumping back awkwardly, John lost his balance and fell. His P90 went flying and he ended up sprawled on his face in the deep grass—nose to nose with a very large and very pissed looking animal.
“John?” Teyla called from the lake and over the low growling of the animal, he could hear the sounds of splashing.
He ignored Teyla for the time being—he had a more pressing problem. “Easy now, big guy,” John murmured, slowly backing away from the white and gray striped animal that continued to growl menacingly, baring its teeth and its bushy tail waving furiously.
“John?” Teyla’s voice was closer now and tinged with concern.
Apparently the animal heard her too, because it growled and yipped sharply, and then thankfully turned its back on him and started waddling away. Good, John thought, it was leaving. He carefully started to stand up, only to be caught by total surprise when the animal suddenly stopped, raised its tail and sprayed him.
“Oh crap!” The spray caught John right in the chest and his eyes immediately started to burn as the pungent fluid soaked into his clothing, the strong and foul-smelling scent pervading his nostrils. The animal scampered off; emitting a small squeal that John knew had to be a laugh. The smell was rank and John groaned, sitting down amidst the trampled grass, he’d recognize that particular odor anywhere. He’d just been sprayed by the Atlantean version of a skunk!
“Are you okay?” Teyla suddenly loomed over him, barefoot, her hair dripping and wearing what appeared to be her hastily thrown-on BDU trousers, the laces of her blouse loose. “Oh,” her nose wrinkled and she frowned, backing away from him. “What is that smell?”
John grimaced, but still managed to notice how her damp blouse clung to her in all the right places. Sheesh, he was sad, or maybe just a normal guy. He stunk to high heaven with his pride lying in a heap beside him and he still had only one thought on his mind when it came to a wet Teyla. Dragging his thoughts away from the missed opportunity, he answered her question. “I’ve been sprayed by a skunk—or whatever it is you folk call it.”
Teyla laughed and stopped backing away when she was about ten feet from him—and upwind, he noticed wryly. “A segonku.” She shook her head, looking puzzled. “They are usually only out at night.”
“Is that so?” John kicked at a clump of grass, revealing the hole he’d stepped in. “I think I stumbled onto its burrow.”
“Ah,” she said. And then burst out laughing again. “I am sorry,” she said. “You smell very bad.”
“Yeah well…you won’t be laughing when you have to ride all the way back to Atlantis in the jumper with me!”
John was gratified when the smile left her face. But she immediately brightened up. “Do not worry, I am sure in the village they will have the ingredients we need to make the mourassey.”
“The what?” he asked.
“The mourassey. It is a special bath that will neutralize most of the odor.”
“Most of it?” John got to his feet, his nose wrinkling again. He really did smell bad.
Teyla shrugged and gathered the rest of her gear from the lake’s shore, all the while continuing to maintain a safe distance from him, he noted sourly. “I will go on ahead, to advise the others.”
“Don’t you mean to warn the others?” he called grumpily after her retreating figure; her only response the faint sound of laughter. Scrounging through the grass next to him, John found his P-90. With one last, longing look at the lake, he started back up the path after Teyla.
“Doctor Beckett says to put your clothes in here.” Teyla’s hand, holding a large red biohazard bag, appeared through a gap in the tent flaps. “Here are some towels, as well,” she said, stuffing several cotton towels at him, as well.
“What am I going to wear home?” John complained, taking the plastic bag and towels from her and tossing them into the currently empty tub. He was currently exiled to a hastily erected tent on the outskirts—and upwind—of the village. His head practically brushed the top of the canvas and most of the space in the small tent was taken up by a large wooden tub.
“Halling will lend you a pair of trousers and a shirt, so you need not be concerned.”
“Right,” he grumbled, pulling his T-shirt over his head, catching a fresh whiff of the foul scent. He was gradually becoming used to the smell, but every now and then the strong odor assailed his nose anew. “Where is our esteemed physician, anyway?”
“He is helping with the mourassey. He believes he will be able to improve on its ability to counteract the odor.”
“Well, tell him to hurry.” John finished removing his clothes and wrapped one of the rough towels around his waist, before stuffing them into the bag. He opened the flap a bit more and he handed her the bag—which she took very gingerly from his outstretched hand. “It won’t bite,” he said dryly.
“I am sorry,” she said, meeting his eyes with a rueful smile. “You still smell quite…strong.”
She stood there, clutching the bag, an uncharacteristic uncertainty about her. “I am sorry,” she said again. “This would not have happened to you if—“
John immediately interrupted her. “Hey, don’t worry about it. There’ll be other opportunities to go…swimming.”
Her lips curved in a slow smile and she nodded. “I am sure you are correct.”
Whatever else he might have said was cut off by the sounds of a loud commotion approaching them. John opened the tent flap all the way and stood blinking in the bright sunlight. What looked like half the village was parading down the road to the tent. Halling and three other men were in the lead, pulling wagons loaded with a wide variety of pots and buckets, all emitting steam. Charan and Beckett followed along behind the wagons amidst a group of laughing and talking adults, both of them carrying what looked like soup tureens. And scampering in and out amongst the wagons and adults were several dozen children, all apparently enjoying the outing—and his plight.
Some of the older, and it would seem braver, children were racing back and forth between the group and the tent, shrieking and yelling while holding their noises. However, the majority of the group stopped a safe distance from the tent. Halling and the other two men tied handkerchiefs over their mouths and noses and trundled the wagons up to the door; Beckett and Charan close behind.
Charan sniffed. “Smells like that segonku doused you well, Colonel.”
“Aye, Colonel,” Beckett agreed, his eyes tearing up. “From what I’ve been told, this particular animal seems much like the North American Mephitis mephitis.”
“Yeah, well, if that all means ‘skunk’ then you’re both right. And since we all know I smell, can we just on with this mourassey thing? So I can quit smelling so bad?”
John stepped hastily back into the tent and grabbed the rest of the towels out of the tub when Halling and his helpers started carrying the steaming buckets of water into the tent, dumping them into the tub. After the last bucket was emptied into the tub, Halling gave him a sympathetic smile. “This happened to Jinto once. Do not worry, the mourassey is very effective.”
“Thanks,” he murmured dryly. It was one thing to be a twelve year old boy and get sprayed by a skunk, it was another thing to be the leader of the military contingent at Atlantis and get ambushed by one of the blasted animals. Not to mention the humiliation of it happening in front of the woman with whom he had hoped to get…closer.
Charan squeezed in after the men departed and with a smile, dumped the contents of her bowl into the water. John sniffed and thought maybe he could detect the faint hint of eucalyptus. Beckett was the last, pouring his offering into the water, which immediately began to foam and bubble.
“Best hop in fast, Colonel, while it still has its full potency.”
John frowned. “You’re sure this will do the trick?”
Carson’s head bobbed up and down. “The Athosian remedy is good and will leave you smelling nice. I’ve merely added some ingredients that will actually counteract the chemical elements of the animal’s scent. You’d better get started.” Carson handed him a bar of the Athosian lye soap. “Be sure to wash your hair—and behind our ears.”
When the gate activated and jumper’s signal finally came through, Elizabeth felt a rush of relief. Not that she had really thought anything untoward could have happened on a routine medical trip to the mainland, but when Carson had radioed that they would be returning later than scheduled due to an unspecified ‘incident’, she had been concerned.
“Lower the shield,” she ordered. It was certainly with a lighter heart that she walked down the steps to the gate room and awaited the jumpers return. There was a gentle ripple and then the jumper appeared, gliding to a faultless landing in front of her. She could see Beckett and Teyla in the two cockpit seats and she felt a brief flutter of panic. Surely Carson would have told them if something had happened to Colonel Sheppard?
Striding quickly to the rear of the jumper, she waited impatiently until the rear hatch slid open. And there, much to her relief, stood John. She couldn’t quite stop the gasp that escaped on its own volition when she saw him. “Oh my,” she murmured, not entirely believing her eyes.
“Elizabeth,” he rumbled through tightly clenched teeth and strode past her.
There was complete silence in the gate room and upper balcony as Sheppard walked rapidly past the gaping technicians and other staff members. Elizabeth was speechless. He was dressed in too tight brown leather pants and a matching shirt, which could have only come from one of the Athosian males on the mainland—a smaller Athosian male, at that. But it wasn’t his clothing that was so startling. It was his hair…his beautiful black hair looked like a high school girl had given him a very bad bleach job.
“What happened?” Elizabeth asked when Carson and Teyla walked out of the jumper. The three of them stood silently as John disappeared from view.
“He had an encounter with a segonku,” Teyla replied, her voice calm and matter-of-fact.
“A skunk,” Carson supplied.
Elizabeth gave an experimental sniff. “I don’t smell any skunk.” In fact, all she could smell was the faint scent of eucalyptus.
“The mourassey was effective,” Teyla commented.
Elizabeth raised a finely arched eyebrow. “The mourassey?” Deciding that that explanation could wait, she pounced on the doctor, there was something else she needed explained first. “Carson? What happened to Colonel Sheppard’s hair?”
Teyla’s lips twitched and she murmured, “If you’ll excuse me.”
Elizabeth didn’t stop her from leaving, merely fixed Carson with a stern look. “Carson?”
The doctor sighed, his shoulders rising and falling heavily. “It was the peroxide.”
“Hydrogen peroxide is used to counteract the chemicals that produce the offensive odor.” He sighed again and looked at her, his blue eyes painfully earnest. “I had no way of knowing that the peroxide would interact so…vigorously with the ingredients of the mourassey.”
Elizabeth just had a horrific thought. “It’s not permanent, is it?”
“Ach no,” Carson reassured her. “It’ll grow out. Just give it ten or twelve weeks and he’ll be right as rain.”
The next three months were going to be interesting; and as she and Carson walked slowly up the steps to the control room, Elizabeth wondered idly if it was too late to get a message to the Daedalus to bring a couple bottles of black hair dye with them when they returned to Atlantis.