A Hair of the Dog

or, The Morning After the Night Before

Author's notes: This bit of fluff takes place within the time frame of the movie, the morning after Evelyn has a drunken near-kiss experience with Rick O'Connell. Or, if you prefer, after my other story "Ghost Rain". ;)

For those of us not familiar with the expression (a couple of folks who read this story for me asked about it), a "hair of the dog" is the much-disputed curing of a hangover by drinking just enough to alleviate the symptoms. The expression comes, or so I've heard, from a time when the cure for hydrophobia (rabies) was thought to be a hair from the same animal that bit you.

As for the efficacy of either cure, well... consider the source. ;)

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"Go away!" I yelled. The reverberating echo nearly knocked my head clean off my shoulders, and I clutched wildly at the appendage in question to keep it from toppling over into the sand. The world around me dipped and swayed before finally righting itself. If this was the experience which customarily followed a night of alcoholic revelry, then I certainly couldn't fault Jonathan for not being a morning person.

I squinted at O'Connell; not only had he not followed my suggestion, he actually had the nerve to look injured at the curt rebuff. I don't know what sort of greeting he expected; the man had appeared around the corner of my own personal and private stone column and startled me quite out of my wits. Not that those accounted for much at this point, mind you--but still, I felt myself more than justified in demanding the modicum of privacy that allowed me time to wash and dress, and collect my thoughts.

This was all his fault anyhow. Him, and my incorrigible reprobate of a brother.

"Sorry, I thought maybe you could use a hand."

I shook the hair back out of my eyes and adjusted my dress as best I could. The sheer black fabric of the bodice had apparently been sewn together with approximately six stitches--two of which had already given way in very conspicuous places. I'd done my best to cinch the thing together with hairpins, but it was becoming apparent that wasn't going to work for very long.

I studiously ignored the pounding at my temples. "As you can see, I'm managing quite well without your hands for the moment." Upon reflection, that didn't sound quite right. Best push on just the same. Chin up, Evelyn... there we are. "Thank you for your concern."

He proffered a canteen and, when I refused to take it, set it gently down in front of me, hands upturned in a gesture of surrender. "Water always helps me," he remarked.

"Helps you to what?" I retorted, calling to aid my frostiest tone.

"Feel human again. When I'm, you know, hung over?"

"For your information, *Mister* O'Connell, I am not hung over." No, in fact I always see double. Makes life more interesting. So there.

"Oh. Right."

"I'm not!" Oooh, yelling was not a good course of action. Any minute now my head would tumble off my shoulders and roll away, and I'd have the devil of a time finding it and getting it back on straight...

"Sure, okay."

"Go away!" I reiterated, and gestured in what I hoped was the general direction of our camp. Judging by his amused expression and exaggerated glances over either shoulder, I was completely off the mark. "Get out of here, go on!"

"Whatever you say, I'm just trying to--"

I took off my sandal and threw it at both of him.

I immediately regretted the rashness of this act--not because it hit O'Connell in the head and drove him away, but because afterwards I had to search around in the blazing hot sun for a good quarter of an hour before I found the infernal thing. Not to mention the fact that when I finally did find it, the strap was broken. In that instant, I missed my stiff, sensible boots, and my stiff, sensible clothes--and my stiff, sensible demeanour, for that matter. I sorely lamented having spent so much money on obtaining a completely impractical dress, and so little on viable footwear. But there was nothing for it but to put the sandal on and clomp about as best I could, shaking my foot almost every other step to get rid of the sand.

Oh, all right, maybe I was just a *tiny* bit sorry about O'Connell. Certainly not enough to apologize, mind you... but enough that, when I finally returned to our camp and found him waiting, I saw fit to favour him with a smile.

He stood, awkwardly throttling a hank of rope with those formidable hands of his. In Victorian times, it was thought that the blueprint to one's destiny lay in the form of the face and head; for my part, I have always held the same belief of hands. O'Connell's hands were broad, deeply tanned, scratched, and callused. They were the hands of a man who had worked hard, fought hard, and given no quarter his entire life. But they were also, I had noticed, possessed of a singular delicacy of touch if the occasion demanded it... despite his repeated insistence that he was a soldier and nothing more, there was no doubt in my mind that Rick O'Connell possessed the hands of an archaeologist.

As for what else those hands were capable of... well, that remained to be seen.

Our fingers touched briefly as I returned his canteen; I had just opened my mouth to thank him for his thoughtfulness when Jonathan came bounding up. He was looking enviably fresh-faced and cheerful for someone who had spent the night debauching himself; then again, he'd had considerably more experience in this area than I. Now that I was closer (and not squinting quite so hard) I could see that O'Connell looked a bit peaked. I wondered if he was suffering the same indignities I was, and if so, how he could possibly bear them with such stoicism.

"Here we go, old mum," Jonathan announced, pressing his canteen on me. "Give you a leg up on the, er... you know."

I looked from one expectant face to the other, then decided I'd better essay this particular remedy for overindulgence before one or both men killed me with kindness. I tilted my head, tipped the canteen to my lips--then coughed and sputtered as the liquid seared my throat.

"Juh--Juh--" I gasped feebly, a combination of shock, anger, and burned vocal cords making it impossible to get any further than the first syllable of my brother's name. To add indignity to injury, O'Connell grabbed me by the arm and thumped me soundly on the back. Twice. Did I actually use the phrase 'singular delicacy of touch' earlier? Let it be stricken from the record! "Jonathan, for heaven's sake!" I bellowed, which set my head to spinning once more. It wasn't a sensation I was comfortable with by any means, but at least it was becoming tolerably familiar. "If this is your idea of a joke--!"

"A joke? Oh, no no no no, my dear girl--merely a hair of the dog, eh, what? Always gets me over the stile, so to speak."

"Depends on the size of the dog," remarked O'Connell.

"And, one would assume, the frequency of the bite," I retorted hoarsely.

O'Connell took the canteen from me and swigged, making a vile face. "There we go," he grunted, swiping one hand across his mouth. His manners left much to be desired, that much was certain, but there was a kind of rough-hewn charm about the man to which I, in spite of my very best intentions, was beginning to fall prey.

"How very enchanting you look this morning, Evie," remarked Jonathan, the compliment slipping so seamlessly from his mouth that I knew he was up to something. "You're getting wonderfully brown, of course, all that desert sun... a nice toasty biscuit colour--don't you agree, O'Connell?"

O'Connell grunted unintelligibly.

"What do you want?"

"Quite the Egyptian princess, you rather favour Mum, I think--though of course you've got Dad's--"

I sighed loudly. "I'm not in the mood. Just tell me what you want."

"Sister mine, would you think me a complete and utter scoundrel if I went over and begged the Americans for some rations? They're eating much better than we are these days, they must have managed to recover some of the supplies from the boat."

"Jonathan, nothing you could possibly do at this point would alter my opinion of you a jot."

Taking this as wholehearted affirmation, my brother dashed off to the Americans' camp. Deserter. I sank down onto a cot. The rush of air created by my settling skirts stirred to life the ashy remnants of the night's fire.

O'Connell knelt down beside me. "You have breakfast... princess?" he inquired mockingly. I shook my head. "I could find you something."

"The only thing I could possibly stomach now would be a cup of tea," I replied.

Without another word, he stalked off. I wasn't quite sure whether to interpret this as zeal or abject disgust, but before long he returned bearing a tin mug half-full of lukewarm tea. The other half was on his shirt. The tea was Darjeeling and not particularly to my taste, but I accepted it in the spirit in which it was offered, and used it to dampen the ashes when he wasn't looking.

"Good?" he asked, taking the empty cup.

"Oh, yes yes, quite, thanks." You can always tell when I'm lying because I start to sound like my brother. If I hadn't forced myself to stop I'm quite sure the next word out of my mouth would have been either "ripping" or "smashing".

"So... guess you don't remember much of last night, huh."

I got a chill, and this time it wasn't just one of those eerie desert winds.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I just meant, you know, because of the, uh, the thing you don't have."


He smiled. "Yeah."

"Well, I admit things aren't entirely clear... did I miss anything interesting?"

The smile widened into a grin.



I stood up suddenly, then immediately wished I hadn't as I teetered and swayed. O'Connell caught me by the arm. "What?" I demanded again, shaking him off. "O'Connell..."

He fixed me with an injured look. "Last night you called me Rick..."

"I did?"

"Uh-huh. More than once."

"When was this?"

"Don't you remember?" He looked injured.

Oh, dear. This was not good. Not good at all. "I'm sorry," I said, "I really don't. I was awfully tired last night, you know."

"Right. Tired."

"Yes, tired!" I repeated, looking defiantly up at him (how had he gotten so much closer all of a sudden?).

"You said I was your first," he murmured.

I gave an alarmed squeak, took a step back, stumbled on my own cursed sandal, and pitched over into the sand. "What? I... but, I..."

"You said you'd never love anyone else as long as you lived."

"I did?" No, no, I couldn't have. He must have been dreaming, that's it. A dream. "Are you sure?"

"Am I sure?" he demanded incredulously. "Of course I'm sure! I can't believe you don't remember!"

I lay sprawled in the sand, speechless and immobile, mouth open in shock.

Which was when O'Connell burst out laughing.

"Oooooh!" I growled, and kicked out. I can't imagine I hurt his shin very much, and it was like kicking the cornerstone of a pyramid. Which is to say, it hurt like blazes. "Why, you rotten--horrible--disreputable--"

Undaunted by my flailing feet, he hunkered down in front of me, peering intently into my face. "Whether you want to admit it or not, you were shit-faced last night," he remarked, almost casually.

"I beg your pardon, I was--what?"

"Drunk, you were drunk. It's an expression."

"Not a very pleasant one!"

He sighed impatiently. "Anyhow. I know a lot of guys who wouldn't have done what I did."

"Which was...?"

"Listened to you talk for a while, then put you to bed. That's all that happened. I swear. I never took advantage of you." He grinned, rather unpleasantly. "If I did, you'd remember. Trust me."

"Why didn't you?" I blurted, before I had a chance to think better of it.

O'Connell chuckled. "Like I said, you were drunk. I like to think I play fair. And, to be honest, you're kind of a pain in the ass."

"Well, I never!" I cried.

"And for that you should thank me." He stood up. "You're not gonna start throwing shoes again, are you?"

I regarded him dubiously. "I might."

He turned and walked away, shaking his head. I considered pelting the broken sandal at his broad back, but decided against it in the end.

And a slice of memory, which had been hovering just out of reach, suddenly snapped into focus. I had called him Rick...

But only once.