Disclaimer – I own none of the Stargate franchise.

Casualties of War

Aiden flattened himself against the wall and slowly moved his head so he could see around the corner. Seeing that the corridor was clear he lifted up his left arm and gave the signal to move forward.

Major Sheppard brushed past him and round the corner onto the next corridor, and immediately flattened himself to the wall, so he was standing shoulder to shoulder with Aiden.

"Any lifesigns?" He whispered.

Aiden checked the lifesigns detector in his hand. The area was clear except for the two of them.

"No Sir," he whispered back. "We're all clear."

Major Sheppard nodded. "Keep an eye out," he whispered.

Aiden nodded and gripped the lifesigns detector firmly as he followed the Major round the corner and they both began to edge their way along the corridor. The success of their mission depended on complete secrecy.

Aiden followed Major Sheppard halfway down the corridor, where he stopped by another corner. As he went to look round the corner Aiden glanced at the lifesigns detector and grasped the Major's arm.

"Wait, Sir, there's someone coming," he whispered.

Major Sheppard turned and looked at the lifesigns detector. Someone was coming towards them, fast.

"Quick, fall back to the next corridor," he ordered.

Aiden nodded and the two men hurried back the way they had come. There was a dark recess in the wall which they dove into, sinking back into the shadows.

The other lifesign was now on the corridor they had just retreated out of – Aiden could hear heavy footsteps as whoever it was ran towards them. They would be able to see them at any moment.

Teyla came into view, jogging up the corridor. She stopped in her tracks directly in front of where Aiden and Major Sheppard were hiding and frowned.

"What are you doing?" She asked.

Belatedly, Aiden realised that the glow of the lifesigns detector lit him and the Major up for all to see.

Major Sheppard stepped out of the recess. "Hey Teyla," he said, looking and sounding completely casual. "You're out late."

"Yes, I decided to take your advice and go for a run," she said. She looked the Major up and down, and then did the same to Aiden. They were both wearing plain black BDUs and t-shirts, and had black woolly caps on their heads. The Major held a plain black rucksack in one hand.

"What are you doing?" She repeated.

Aiden and Major Sheppard glanced at each other.

"We're breaking into McKay's lab," said Major Sheppard.

To Aiden's surprise Teyla didn't look that shocked. If he had to describe the look on her face, he would have gone with 'exasperated'.

"Why?" Asked Teyla.

Aiden and Major Sheppard glanced at each other again. "Revenge," they said simultaneously.

Teyla rolled her eyes. "Again?" She asked. "Hasn't this gone on long enough?"

"This is war, Teyla," said Major Sheppard seriously. Aiden nodded his support as the Major continued. "This isn't over until someone is defeated. And it's not going to be us."

"Besides, he started it," added Aiden.

Major Sheppard nodded, and Teyla rolled her eyes again.

Teyla glared at them in silence for a few moments. "I am coming with you," she said eventually.

Aiden and Major Sheppard both shook their heads.

"No way – this is between us and McKay," said the Major.

Teyla looked unimpressed. "I have been caught up in the middle of this so-called 'war'" – she made air quotes to illustrate her point – "and I want to ensure that you do not make things worse."

Aiden looked at Major Sheppard – he was staring at Teyla in shock.

"I taught you air quotes yesterday," he said accusingly. "I can't believe you would use them against me like that!"

Aiden hid a smile as Teyla rolled her eyes again.

"I am coming with you," she repeated.

Major Sheppard raised an eyebrow at Aiden, who shrugged. "Alright," he said, turning back to Teyla. "You might be able to help anyway."

He looked at Aiden again. "Any more lifesigns, Lieutenant?" He asked.

Aiden checked the detector and shook his head. "We're all clear Sir," he said.

"Right, let's move out," said Major Sheppard. He and Aiden flattened themselves against the wall again and began to creep down the corridor to McKay's lab.

Teyla shook her head and walked boldly and swiftly towards their destination.

Major Sheppard looked round at Aiden. "It's a lot less fun now," he said.

Aiden smiled. "Yes Sir," he agreed. The two of them hurried after Teyla.

Aiden half-expected Teyla to try and stop them or lecture them as they worked on the control crystals next to McKay's door, but she just stood next to them and watched silently. In a way it was worse – the look on her face made Aiden feel like a foolish schoolboy up to no good.

Then the doors to the lab slid open and Aiden forgot all about Teyla's disapproving face.

"Good old Zelenka," said Major Sheppard with a grin. Aiden grinned as well and they stepped into the room, Teyla right behind them.

"You caught up Dr Zelenka in this scheme of yours?" Asked Teyla disapprovingly.

"Caught up?" Scoffed Major Sheppard. "I've never seen anyone so eager to help in my life!"

The door slid shut behind them and the room was plunged into semi-darkness. The only light came from the small lights blinking on various machines. Major Sheppard pulled a flashlight out of the rucksack he was carrying and turned it on. He tossed another flashlight to Aiden.

"Sorry, Teyla, we only brought two," said Aiden as he switched it on. Teyla nodded and, now that there was light, made her way over to Major Sheppard.

"So, what are you planning to do?" She asked him.

Major Sheppard grinned wickedly. "We're just gonna make his day a little more… interesting," he said.

Aiden shone his flashlight around the lab. "Over here looks good, Sir," he said, aiming the beam of light to the back of the room. He and Major Sheppard walked over.

"Good for what?" Asked Teyla, following them.

The Major just grinned again and carefully placed the rucksack on the large metal table in front of them. "We have a present for McKay," he said.

Aiden provided light while Major Sheppard started to unpack the bag. He pulled out a beaker and two small white boxes. He carefully unpacked the boxes – inside each was a phial full of liquid.

"You'll be surprised how easy it is to get people willing to help you play a trick of McKay," said Major Sheppard and he carefully placed the phials on the table-top.

Teyla frowned at them in confusion. The Major gestured to the phials. "Dr Oppenwood gave us these," he explained. "By themselves these liquids are nothing special, but mix them together… and you've got the world's best stink bomb."

Aiden and the Major grinned widely at Teyla, but she looked at them with a blank expression. "A what?"

"A stink bomb," Aiden repeated. "It creates a really bad smell."

"We're gonna hide it, so it will be really hard for McKay to find the source of the smell when he comes into his lab tomorrow," added Major Sheppard.

Teyla looked from one man to the other. "I - you are not serious, are you?" She asked. "All you will do is make Dr McKay very angry and prevent him from working in his lab-"

"Exactly!" Said Major Sheppard happily. He opened up a small cupboard under the table, which was full of bundles of cables. "Okay, pass me the beaker," he said.

Teyla folded her arms and didn't move. Aiden stepped forward and handed it to Major Sheppard, who placed it carefully amongst all the wires. He stood up again and rubbed his hands together.

"Right, now we just have to pour in the chemicals," he said. "Apparently it takes about thirty seconds for the smell to start, and it's really bad for about six hours - like unbearably bad."

"So we have to get out of here quickly when it's done," clarified Aiden.

Major Sheppard nodded and put everything but the two phials back in the rucksack, ready to grab as they escaped. He crouched back down, the phials in hand.

"Okay, stand back," he said.

Teyla skirted round the table and stood next to Aiden, where she had a clear run for the door.

"I cannot believe that -" she began, but Major Sheppard cut her off.

"Here we go!" And, opening the phials, he began to pour the liquids into the beaker.

The mixture immediately began to give off a white steam, and Aiden and Teyla both stepped back instinctively. A loud whirring sound filled the room.

Aiden wondered for a moment why two liquids mixing together would make a whirring sound, and then realised the sound was coming from behind him and Teyla.

They were standing in front of some kind of cabinet which had heavy glass doors that were sliding shut.

Teyla, who was standing directly in front of the closing doors, heard the noise and started to turn around. She didn't get far, though, as her long hair - hanging loose down her back - swung through the air as she moved... and the doors slid shut on half of it.

Teyla's head jerked back and she cried out in pain. Major Sheppard stood up, the white smoke billowing round his knees. Aiden leapt forward and tried to find the handles on the cabinet doors.

But there were no handles. Aiden began to try and prise the doors apart, but they wouldn't budge.

"Open the doors!" Teyla demanded. She was leaning back awkwardly, and had her trapped hair clasped in one fist to try and alleviate the pain in her scalp.

Aiden looked hopelessly at Major Sheppard. More and more smoke was swirling round their feet. He knew they only had a few moments before their stink bomb started to work, and Dr Oppenwood had warned them against being anywhere nearby when that happened.

Major Sheppard kicked the door of the cupboard shut as Aiden ran round to Teyla's other side, still trying to find a way of re-opening the cabinet doors.

There was nothing.

"We have to get out of here - get these doors open!" Yelled Major Sheppard from Teyla's other side.

"Ow!" Yelled Teyla in response, when the Major tried to look under her back.

Aiden looked desperately around the room, and his eyes fells on an object lying next to a laptop on a table nearby. He hesitated for a moment, but then leapt forward, snatched up the scissors and without giving any kind of warning to Teyla or Major Sheppard, cut through her hair.

Teyla was immediately free and stepped forward, so Aiden was face to face with Major Sheppard. Aiden gulped at the look on the Major's face.

"Lieutenant..." he said darkly. Aiden looked down and saw the Major's hand poised over a button just underneath where the doors met. Teyla must have accidentally pressed the button when she had stepped back. Now Major Sheppard pressed the button again and the doors slid open with the same noise as before.

A great clump of Teyla's hair fell to the ground between them.

Aiden looked back up at his commanding officer's thunderous expression. "Sir, I'm sorry, I panicked!" He said.

"You cut my hair." Teyla spoke softly, staring down at the hair on the ground.

Aiden turned to face her. "Teyla, I'm-"

"No time, we need to get out of here!" Yelled Major Sheppard. He grabbed the rucksack from the table.

"But-" Major Sheppard grasped Teyla's elbow with his other hand and started to pull her out of the room before she could say anything else.

"Ford, pick up that hair!" He called over his shoulder.

Aiden snatched up the hair, threw the scissors back onto the table, and ran after Major Sheppard. As soon as the doors to the lab slid shut behind him both Teyla and Major Sheppard rounded on him.

Teyla looked at him with an expression of utter disbelief that made Aiden feel like a complete jerk. Major Sheppard... Aiden took a step back. Major Sheppard looked like he was going to kill him.

"What were you thinking, Ford?" Hissed Major Sheppard.

"Sir - we only had a few seconds and -"

"You cut Teyla's hair!"

"I know, Sir - I'm really sorry!" Said Aiden. He turned to Teyla. "Teyla, I'm really sorry!"

Aiden watched her warily, expecting her to knock him off his feet at any moment. He was pretty sure Major Sheppard wouldn't have his back.

But Teyla just shook her head. "I am going to my quarters," she said. "Good night. Enjoy your war."

She turned on her heel and walked away. From behind, Aiden could clearly see the damage he had caused. Both sides of her hair were still hanging down her back but the middle section was shorn just below her shoulders.

Aiden looked at Major Sheppard - he was watching Teyla walk away with an expression of deepest remorse on his face. As soon as Teyla rounded the corner, though, he turned to Aiden and his expression was back to furious.

"How could you?" He demanded.

"Sir, I'm sorry!" Aiden repeated. "I couldn't see you had found the release and we needed to get out of there."

"But it was her hair," Major Sheppard said, now sounding a little petulant. "It was Teyla's hair."

"Er, yes Sir," Aiden said, now a little confused. Major Sheppard seemed to be taking this very hard. Major Sheppard glared at him in silence for a few more seconds before turning on his heel.

"Get to bed Lieutenant," he called over his shoulder as he walked away. "We'll talk about this in the morning."

Aiden watched him go and then looked down at the clump of hair he held in his hand. He sighed.

"Yes Sir."

By the next morning Aiden was ready for a fight. Okay, so he'd cut Teyla's hair. He felt bad about that, but what else was he meant to have done? Major Sheppard hadn't told him that he'd found the release to the cabinet, and that stink bomb was going to go off at any second.

He had acted completely rationally, and if Major Sheppard wanted to chew him out over it then he had a few choice words ready for him.

With these self-gratifying thoughts in mind, when Aiden saw Major Sheppard eating breakfast in the commissary he determinedly got some food and went and sat with him, head held high.

"Good morning, Sir," he said cheerfully.

Major Sheppard glared at him - obviously he hadn't put the hair incident into perspective like Aiden had.

"Ford," he said shortly.

Aiden rolled his eyes and sat back, ready to explain his case. "Major, I'm sorry about what happened, but I don't get why you're so angry with me," he said. Major Sheppard looked up in surprise and started to speak, but Aiden ploughed on.

"I mean - with all due respect Sir - it's just hair."

Major Sheppard glared at him again. "It is not just hair, it's Tey... er.. look, I'm trying to eat Lieutenant," he said, looking back down at his food.

Aiden narrowed his eyes - the Major looked flustered, even embarrassed. "Okay..." he said, starting to eat.

Aiden stopped a few seconds later - Major Sheppard had seemingly forgotten all about his breakfast, and was staring at something over Aiden's shoulder. He turned round and saw that Teyla had just entered the commissary.

She had cut off the rest of her hair so that it was now even, and fell to just below her shoulders. It was much less wavy that short. Aiden thought it suited her - in fact he thought she looked quite nice.

Aiden looked back at Major Sheppard and saw that his eyes were practically falling out of his head. Obviously he agreed.

Aiden cleared his throat very quietly, but loud enough to snap Major Sheppard out of it. He looked at Aiden, who arranged his face into an expression of complete innocence.

"You know what Ford," he said. "Let's just call Teyla's hair a casualty of war."

Aiden grinned. "Yes Sir," he said.

"Besides, she looks like she's... I mean it doesn't look that bad..." Mumbled Major Sheppard.

Aiden resisted the urge to laugh. "Yes Sir," he repeated mechanically.

Just then his radio crackled into life and Dr McKay's voice came through. "Sheppard, Ford, this is McKay - come in."

Aiden and Major Sheppard smirked at each other and activated their radios.

"Good morning Rodney!"

"Hey Dr McKay, how's it hanging?"

Pause.

"WHAT DID YOU DO?"

The End