Attack of the plot bunnies! Run for your lives!

A short and sweet stand-alone piece – simply because I would probably do the same thing if I were in Elizabeth's shoes. Oh, and for those of you out there that did 4-H as kids, and opted for the horses, you'll sympathize with the whole barn stall thing. Honestly, if I never have to muck out another horse stall in my life, it will still be too soon.

Read and review and enjoy!

P.S. They aren't mine, I'm just borrowing them.

The mission was supposed to be one of establishing relations with a small desert community. Elizabeth wasn't even going to come along, mostly because she wasn't feeling all that well, but then Sheppard had hinted at his "flare for diplomacy" – his words, not hers – and she had changed her mind. She'd seen his flare for diplomacy at work and she didn't think it was really appropriate for a community of nomads. The Genii, yes. Nomads, not so much. So, she had changed her schedule, had met Sheppard and his team at the puddle jumper, and had come along for the ride. In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea, but then again she suspected that was how MC Hammer felt about the Hammer Pant.

The whole thing was ridiculous and getting even more ridiculous by the minute. A three-ring circus missing only, thankfully, the elephants. She honestly didn't think she could handle elephants on top of…everything else. Though the guide, Merrin's cologne did remind her of mucking out barn stalls when she was a kid in New England. When Merrin moved his arm to point things out, the scent drifted toward her and added to the headache that she'd been fighting since they'd arrived.

Happy place, happy place, happy –

"Dr. Weir, are you unwell?"

She attempted a smile, if for no other reason than to punctuate her gag reflex, and nodded. "I'm fine, Merrin. Just a little hot. Please, continue with your tour."

Sheppard glanced at her and she saw amusement and concern warring for dominance on his face. Amusement was victorious and he smiled at her as Merrin continued to prattle on about trees, all of which seemed confined to an oasis in the center of the commune.

"Hot?" he asked softly and she had to restrain herself from pinching him. She said nothing but instead pretended to listen to Merrin. Sheppard tried again. "I thought you did some work in Kuwait?"

It was infuriating, but he was right – she had. She'd mediated negotiations between the Kuwaiti government and an export industrialist from China for the month of November, their official summer. It had smelled similar, though the camels had added a hint of exotica to it all. Especially when the one she had been riding had spit on the liaison's Armani suit that he had insisted on wearing into the desert. Of course, she hadn't been fighting off the flu in Kuwait.

Her stomach flip-flopped and she closed her eyes in hopes of convincing it to settle down, at least for the remainder of the tour. It would be bad form to puke on the guide's shoes or, in Merrin's case, sandals.

"Liz," Sheppard whispered and she turned to glare at him. It didn't seem to faze him – a bad sign. Even Ronon backed down from the Weir glare.

"What, Colonel?" she snapped and the effort required to make a two word question sound exceedingly angry sapped the energy from her. She faltered, just a step, and recovered with a little help from John Sheppard's well-placed hand.

On her hip.

Her stomach revolted.

Happy place, happy place….

"You really don't look so good," he said. His hand didn't move.

God, it was hot. She'd gotten used to heat that month in Kuwait and had, surprisingly, missed it when she'd returned to winter in DC. She'd gotten sick, then, too. Bronchitis. She'd spent a week in her bed watching infomercials because she didn't have the energy to get up and search for the lost remote. Not exactly her finest moment.

She did own a set of fabulous Ginsu knives, though.

"I'm fine, Colonel." Her head was beginning to fog over – sand is down, green is up she reminded herself. Green skies were a definite plus of space travel, she decided.

"Are you sure?"

"Colonel, pay attention to Merrin. It's far more important than my health – which is perfectly fine." Oh boy, if she made it back to the jumper without losing her breakfast it would be a miracle.

Spots – she was seeing spots. Seriously.

"He's talking about shrubbery, Liz. And, frankly, I just don't care." He moved his hand from her hip to her forehead. She felt the temperature change immediately – even she knew that wasn't a good sign. "You're burning up," he said.

"Am not," she said in the most childishly defiant voice she could muster. She went to take a step away from him and her balance left her, literally. It walked out, didn't leave a note, and Sheppard somehow managed to keep her upright. Good man.

"Alright, champ, back to the jumper."

She heard him call out to Ronon and Teyla, who were a hundred or so feet away speaking with Merrin. She saw them turn, saw Merrin turn with them, and saw the three of them begin the short walk back to where she and Sheppard stood. At that same moment, she felt a breeze pick up.

Oh no.

Horse manure in the summer heat smells like decomp. It's sickly sweet to begin with and the hotter it gets, the heavier the smell becomes. When she would get home from the barns, her clothes would reek of that smell and of horses, even after two boiling hot washes and a load of soap. It was the summer she cut her hair short. She'd move her head and smell horses. It was horrible.

She tried to tell Merrin to stay back, to move down wind, anything to keep him and his god-awful cologne at bay, but she couldn't. In fact, the instant she opened her mouth, her stomach took it as an invitation to show them all what it was made of.

She had to give Sheppard credit – he held her hair back while she puked on his shoes.

Merrin bolted for water, Teyla took over the mothering, and Sheppard…Sheppard laughed. "I knew you were sick," he said in what he probably considered to be a comforting tone.

She wondered, wickedly, if she could do it again, maybe even aim a little higher.

"I take it negotiations are over?" Ronon asked.

She looked up at him and he winced. It gave her hope.

"I'm just glad I skipped breakfast," Sheppard managed in between laughing fits.

"Thanks, John," she managed, her sarcasm laced with vomit-induced irritation.

"Anytime, Liz. Anytime."