Chapter 10

"Well, that went well!"

"Rodney!"

"Look, Sheppard, crisis averted, everyone's alive, and I'm hungry. Let's send Kinky McWraithsnogger back where he came from and move the hell on!"

Teyla stood abruptly. "If there will be nothing further..." she said to Weir, who waved at the door. She left without looking at the others.

"What's her problem?"

"McKay, you can be a real ass, you know that?" sighed Sheppard.

XXXXXX

Arthur had just finished toweling off when the door chimed. He shrugged into his battered and threadbare but finally laundered bathrobe before signaling the door open to admit Teyla.

"Oh, hello," he said. "I didn't expect to see you before I left." He smiled to show that there were no hard feelings.

"Why not?"

"Oh, well, you all seemed rather unhappy with what I had to do, er, up there, and I guess I got a bit miffed about it."

"The Wraith are a scourge on the humans of this galaxy, the very embodiment of our nightmares. We cannot help but loathe them. But you..."

"Made the 'beast with two backs' with one?"

"It is... unsettling."

"Well, there was no help for it at the time, I assure you."

"I am sure it was unpleasant-"

"No, no, I quite enjoyed most of it."

Teyla looked taken aback.

"I'm only human, Teyla, and she was only... whatever she is. Whenever I, um, finished, she would put her hand on my chest and suddenly I was, ah, ready to go again. We did a number of things I had honestly not considered doing before, to be frank, and I rather had fun. I say, would you like to sit down, you look a bit green."

"Yes, Arthur, I believe I will." Teyla sat at the table.

"Look, Teyla, I have had worse experiences, far worse, believe me. She nipped at me a bit, but by and large, it wasn't that terrible.

"Apparently," he continued, "she has some sort of, ah, 'fetish' I suppose is the best word. The fellow with the tattoo on his face who came and got me afterwards told me about it. He chuckled a good bit. I gathered from the way he talked that it's looked on rather like we look at chaps who fancy cows and goats and whatnot. Not terribly flattering, but we're alive, so there's that."

"And the queen actually kept her word? To a human? I have to say, I am amazed, Arthur."

"Well, she seemed quite, ah, fatigued when I left her. She didn't seem much in the mood for planet-killing. Felt rather good about that, actually. Said some rather flattering things about my 'tolerance.' Odd phrasing I thought, but, still..." He sat opposite her with a smile.

Teyla couldn't resist bursting his bubble. "When she put her hand on your chest, Arthur, she was injecting you with an enzyme which increased your energy and endurance."

"Ah." Arthur looked crestfallen and Teyla felt somewhat ashamed.

"I am sure, however, that it was your innate... ability which pleased her."

"Gosh. Thanks."

Teyla laughed and reached across the table to still Arthur's hand, the fingers of which were now beating a tattoo on the tabletop.

"I am sorry, that wasn't kind. We are all very grateful for what you did."

"Really? Because I got the impression you all thought I was a rather nasty sort of fellow. I suppose you must feel about me like the French felt about those women who slept with Germans during the war, collaboratrices or whatever they called them."

Teyla had no clue what he was talking about, but she could see he was deeply affected. She suddenly felt ashamed of the way she had reacted to his admission in the conference room. She had to make it up to him, or she would be no better than the so-called "friends" of his that she had railed against to Sheppard. She had to make things right.

"No, Arthur, I do not think you are a... collaboratrice." She took his hand and got up, pulling him to his feet as she did so. She stepped close to him and took him slowly into her embrace. She could think of no other act which would convince him of her true repentance for her earlier feelings of revulsion.

"Ahhh, Teyla..." Arthur was trembling and sounded almost terrified. She realized that... something... was poking her in the navel. Her eyes widened as she pulled back and looked into Arthur's apologetic eyes.

"I guess that... enzyme or whatever is still affecting me. I'm terribly, terribly sorry." He looked mortified.

Teyla smiled slightly and took his face in her hands before giving him a soft kiss.

"Are you sure it is just the enzyme talking? I would find that quite... unflattering."

Arthur's eyes, evidently jealous of Teyla's, decided they weren't going to be left out of this whole "widening" thing, and took it upon themselves to go beyond simple opening past their normal palpebral expansion into realms hitherto undreamt of in the annals of scleral exposure.

"I believe we still have several hours before you are due back on P37-104."

Arthur's jaw, not to be outdone by those snooty bastards who thought they were so cool just because they were above Arthur's nose rather than below, shrewdly chose that moment to make its foray into arena of abnormal mandibular distension.

She laughed at his expression before drawing his head down to hers.

XXXXXX

"In the town where I was born,
Lived a man who sailed to sea,
And he told us of his life,
In the land of submarines...
"

Slather the mustard on the bread, so. A bit of ham, perhaps a bit more, and now a slice of dill pickle or two.

"So we sailed on to the sun,
Till we found the sea of green,
And we lived beneath the waves,
In our yellow submarine...
"

A bit of mayonnaise on each side of another slice of bread, a couple more dill chips, and a generous helping of turkey. Some lettuce and a slice of tomato, a strip or two of bacon, and another verse of "Yellow Submarine."

"We all live in a yellow submarine,
yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
yellow submarine, yellow submarine
..."

Arthur slapped the top slice of bread on his sandwich, still humming and completely oblivious to the dead silence surrounding him in the half-full mess area. He was blissfully unaware of the eyes following him warily to his seat at what the other occupants of the mess were relieved to note was an empty table comfortably far from where they had surreptitiously clustered together on one side of the hall during Arthur's completely unexpected command performance. The normal hum of conversation cautiously resumed after Arthur stopped humming and laid into his sandwich with gusto.

The eyes which had remained fixed suspiciously on him as if afraid of a spontaneous rendition of "Golden Slumbers" averted themselves hastily as Teyla (and her potential wrath if she caught them staring) entered the mess and crossed to sit with, as Arthur had been affectionately labeled, "that goddam Wraith-fucker."

Those with sharper peripheral vision noted McKay come in a few seconds later and join them.

"So, Arthur, almost time to get back to where you once belonged, eh?"

Arthur swallowed his bite of club and nodded politely.

"Listen, what was it like?" asked McKay, sotto voce. "Seriously, are they... y'know, built the same and everything? Is the, ah, plumbing compatible?"

"Really, Doctor. A gentleman does not kiss and tell."

"I am certainly glad to hear you say that, Arthur," said Teyla, grinning mischievously at him, perfectly aware of the effect her words and demeanor were about to have on McKay.

McKay, for his part, though not being known for his quickness on the uptake in non-scientific situations, processed the implied meaning of these words and the subsequent exchange of looks between Arthur and Teyla with astonishing rapidity for a man of his social density. He looked rather stricken, like a man who, after being tied to a stake and tortured for some length of time and holding on through it all to the hope that the man he left on the boat to radio in the airstrike would be calling in the B-52s any time now, has just had that man's severed head unceremoniously laid in his lap. The horror, one might say, overwhelmed him.

"Oh, God!" he cried, springing up and drawing looks as his chair went over backwards and crashed to the floor. He looked back and forth between them in shock. They both looked back at him with airs of perfect inquisitive innocence. The magnitude of the realization struck full force.

"OH, JESUS H. GOD!" He ran from the mess wishing for a frogging gig so he could poke out his mind's eye.

"What an odd chap," said Arthur, taking another bite of his suddenly extraordinarily tasty sandwich.