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Code Tireseias

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They'd touched the Ancient device at the same time, so they hadn't swapped bodies, but they had swapped...genders. As soon as the machine stopped shining bright enough to blind, John could see what had happened. Where Teyla had been standing was a tall, dark-skinned, frankly beautiful young man who carried himself just like Teyla did and who looked just as strong.

And slightly ridiculous in her clothes.

John looked down at himself, at his new curves, and sighed. He was pretty sure this had never happened to SG-1. Ronon burst out laughing. Rodney went pale, then angry red.

"I told you not to touch that!"

"I wasn't touching it," John protested. "I was trying to stop Teyla from touching it." The sound of his new voice - higher, softer - made him wince.

"I do apologize," Teyla said. Her new voice was deep, soothing. "I felt this strange compulsion -"

"I get it," Rodney said. "Ancient technology, full of brainwashing. And now genderswapping! We'd better get back to Atlantis and let Elizabeth know. You guys should have Beckett check you out."

Ronon barely stifled a snort of amusement. "Sheppard, if that's what your sister looks like, well, you never have to worry about anyone checking her out."

John glared at him. "I don't have any sisters."

Ronon clapped him on the shoulder. "You do now."

Teyla stepped around the machine and wrapped an arm around John's shoulders, tugged him close, and the sheer bulk of her - she was taller than him now! - was disconcerting. "Ronon, you are being unhelpful. This is a very distressing situation."

Ronon started to lead the way back to the gate. "You don't seem very distressed."

"Because we are on the job and we are professionals," Teyla said loftily. She squeezed John's shoulders, and for a moment he couldn't breathe. "Everything will be fine, John. We will fix this."

He yanked himself away from her. "Hey! Just because I look like - like this doesn't mean I actually am a woman. I don't need comfort. I'm fine." Except his clothes were too big and his pants fit weird and all this gear was damn heavy. "Let's go. The sooner we report this to Atlantis, the sooner we can get it fixed."

Rodney dialed the gate and radioed through. "Atlantis, this is Dr. McKay."

"AR-1, you're early." Elizabeth sounded worried.

"No one's hurt, exactly," Rodney said, "but we need to come through immediately. We've had a bit of a scientific and medical emergency."

"Medical emergency? You said no one was hurt. Do I need medical teams standing by?"

"No," Rodney said. "I - it's best if you see it yourselves. I would clear the gate room of all non-essential personnel, though."

Ronon burst out laughing again. Sheppard glared at him. So did Teyla. Now that she was a man, her glare was a lot scarier, and Ronon stifled himself.

"All right," Elizabeth said, and Rodney transmitted his IDC. "Lower the shield."

There was some panic in the gate room when AR-1 returned with two strangers. John raised his hands in a gesture of surrender immediately, and Teyla followed shortly.

"McKay, where are Sheppard and Teyla?" Elizabeth demanded. "Who are these people?"

"Sheppard and Teyla," Ronon said.

"There was an incident with an Ancient device," Teyla said, "and this is how we found ourselves."

Elizabeth, still staring at them with wide eyes, radioed for Beckett.

Beckett arrived at top speed, and Elizabeth pointed out Teyla and Sheppard. Beckett must have only been half-listening, thought they were rescued refugees, because he ignored Teyla completely and skittered over to John.

"Hello, lass," he said in his gentle burr, "come with me to the infirmary and I'll look you over, make sure you're okay. I'm sure you're very frightened, but I'll get things sorted out in no time."

There was another muffled snort from Ronon. When John was back to his normal self, he was going to kick Ronon's ass. For once.

"I feel fine, Carson," John said. "Just...not myself."

Beckett blinked at him. "How do you know my name?"

"It's me, Sheppard. And that's Teyla."

Beckett blinked at Teyla. "Oh. Oh dear."

"Yes, oh dear," Rodney said, scathing. "Now hurry up so we can fix them."

John was glad of the transporters, because the halls surrounding the gate room were suspiciously crowded as they made their way to a transporter, and the halls around the infirmary were equally suspiciously crowded when they arrived.

John and Teyla were bullied into hospital gowns and forced to submit to full physicals - and John was so, so glad he wasn't a woman in real life, because a pelvic exam was horrifying, even if Beckett was careful and apologetic the entire time - and eventually pronounced in perfect health for their respective bodies.

"That's great," Rodney said, clapping John on the shoulder, and then he winced and snatched his hand back.

John sighed. "For the last time, it's me! Inside all this, I'm me! I'm not really a girl."

"Indeed you are not," Teyla said, "but your body is female, and that will take some adjusting."

Ronon winked at John. "Aren't you the least bit curious?"

John crossed his arms over his chest defensively, saw every marine in the room stare at his chest, and let his arms fall to his sides. "No, Ronon. Now I have to go fill out some paperwork." He bet Mitchell would laugh his ass off when he saw this report.

"I brought you a better-fitting uniform, sir," Lorne said.

John started and turned. Where had Lorne even come from? But somehow Lorne had scrounged up a female-sized version of the military commander's uniform John usually wore.

"I can get those forms started while you change," Lorne added. He seemed completely unfazed by the change John had gone through and his gaze didn't dip below John's chin once.

"Thanks," John said. "I'm going to change, and then I'll meet you at my office." He accepted the uniform, clutched the hospital gown closed, and made a beeline for the nearest restroom.

John as a woman wasn't very attractive. Plenty of women had found Sheppard men - or perhaps their money - attractive enough over the years, and his mother had been beautiful, but John just looked like a really ugly butch chick with his same haircut (and sideburns). The lines of his face were a little softer, his mouth fuller, but he didn't think he was pretty. He was pretty sure no one else did, but the novelty of what had happened was probably interesting, especially to the newest wave of recruits to the expedition.

His center of gravity was all wrong, but he did feel a bit better in clothes that actually fit. Lorne had even remembered to find underwear (plain white cotton panties and a sports bra that didn't require an engineering degree to figure out), socks, and boots that fit, too. John's watch was too big, but he liked it, and he wasn't going to give it up. This wasn't permanent, after all.

Once Rodney and Ronon finished their pre-mission checks, Ronon and Teldy were going to escort Rodney and Zelenka and a team of scientists back to the planet to check out the machine and see about reversing this...this madness.

John planned on hiding in his office and catching up on paperwork as much as possible. Lorne was already there, and he had half of the report filled out, including euphemisms about an Ancient device that resulted in "altered physical states with no health detriments". He handed the data pad over to John and stood up.

"It's ready for you, sir. I'm going head for the cafeteria for some food. Would you like anything?"

John eyed Lorne. Why was he being so solicitous? He'd always been polite and efficient and would get things done without needing to be asked, and the expression he was wearing was his usual polite, professional one, but John had the distinct sense that he was being coddled.

"I am a little hungry," John said.

Lorne nodded. "Very good, sir." And he left.

He returned ten minutes later with John's preferred snack - peanut-butter and honey sandwich and a bag of potato chips - and then disappeared, citing a meeting with the newest marines. It was the same kind of snack Lorne had brought him dozens of times before (a chore that would have been perfectly acceptable to delegate to a low-ranking marine) but John still couldn't get rid of the notion that Lorne was being nice to him, which was unbearable. John was glad to be left alone. He was sorely tempted to ask Atlantis to lock the door behind Lorne and key it so only Elizabeth, Lorne, or Rodney could enter. And maybe Beckett, since he'd been nice.

John had made it through almost a month's worth of backlogged inventory requisition requests when Lorne radioed in.

"Sir, I think you should see this. In the training halls." There was shouting in the background.

John was there in an instant, ready for anything – except new Teyla and Ronon going at it full tilt. As the military commander of the expedition, he turned a blind eye to the bets being made by the marines on the sidelines (KP for a week, three Snickers bars, a coveted Mars Bar) and watched. But he watched the fight closely. Teyla in her own body was a beautiful, graceful fighter. It was a stupid poetic comparison, that hand-to-hand combat looked like dancing. It didn't look like dancing unless it was dance-fighting. Hand-to-hand combat looked like combat - fast, brutal. Usually it was sloppy, both combatants hopped up on adrenaline. But Ronon and Teyla were both fast, precise, efficient. No flash. Just getting the job done. Teyla as a man was faster than Ronon, more fluid where he was brutal. Best as John could tell, they were evenly matched. Or rather, they were doing their best to show that they were evenly matched. If they were really going no-holds-barred, Ronon would have won, if only because Teyla wasn't quite used to her new center of gravity, her new weight, her new reach and length of her legs. There was some hesitation, some overreaching, some missteps. But Teyla looked damn scary. It was a good reminder for the marines.

The fight ended in a draw, both of them poised with lethal shots at each other, and the marines broke out into hollers and cheers and praise.

Lorne appeared at John's elbow. "Just got word from Zelenka, sir," he said quietly. "The machine cannot reverse the process."

John's stomach dropped into his shoes.

"But Neilson, the linguist, read the plaque next to the machine," Lorne continued, "and the effects should wear off in about twenty-four hours. So, sir, have fun." And he melted into the crowd, most likely to collect his winnings.

Fun. What the hell kind of fun could he have as a woman? Besides the dirty obvious, and he refused to go there.

After an uncomfortable dinner during which Ronon smirked endlessly, Rodney kept trying not to look at John's chest, and a stream of marines came to congratulate Teyla, John was ready to retire to his quarters and hide. He put up his cafeteria tray and started for the door, and then someone called out to him.


Most everyone had been stumbling over ma'am, with the exception of Lorne, so John was surprised.

Major Teldy trotted up to him. "Sir," she said, "as an honorary member of Atlantis's extra-extra half of the population, I am here to extend an official invitation to ladies' poker night."

For a moment, John was confused, and then he realized extra-extra meant XX. He swallowed. He was about to say no, but Teldy continued.

"There will be contraband beer, snacks, and the initial ante is a pack of M&M's."

M&M's. John loved those. He missed those. Those were usually gone within twelve hours of a Daedalus supply run.

"Sir," Teldy said, lowering her voice and stepping closer, "we could hit the gym and have a smackdown beforehand if that will make you feel better, but...we ladies do have fun."

"Just because I'm in a woman's body doesn't make me a woman," John hissed.

"Sir," Teldy said, reproving, "you're skating a thin line on DADT."

John blinked at her, confused.

She sighed. "Look, sir, it'd be good for morale. For some of the women on this newest wave of recruits. They came to Atlantis with the hope that this wouldn't be like back on earth. Prove you're one of the good guys."

John knew what it could be like for women back on earth, especially if they were greatly outnumbered by the men they served with. "How will my coming to ladies' poker night help them? Especially since right now I'm also one of the ladies?"

"Prove you're not afraid to be treated like one of the ladies," Teldy said.

John raised his eyebrows. None of the marines had made even the hint of a snide comment, especially not after what they'd seen Teyla and Ronon do. In fact, most of them looked at him guiltily. "This is temporary. It's only for a few more hours." Less if he went to bed early.

Teldy said, "Take a walk with me."

John had been using the transporters to get around to avoid being stared at, but he fell into step beside her anyway.

"Notice anything different?" Teldy asked when they were halfway to one of the rec rooms.

He had. "I keep having to dodge people," John said. "The halls are way more crowded than they should be."

"Part of that is because the new recruits are staring at the weirdness that lies on the other side of the Stargate," Teldy said. "And part of that is because they all expect you to get out of the way. For them."

When John had first been promoted to military commander of the expedition, he'd noticed some of the marines fiercely loyal to Sumner had gone out of their way to not defer to him in the halls, trying to force him to make way for them, but after a time that had faded. John glanced over his shoulder and saw Heightmeyer dodge around Stackhouse without even looking up from her report. Beside him, Teldy stepped around one of the marines.

Some of the marines would re-think their motion and step around John at the last second if they noticed the color on his commander's jacket, but those who didn't notice didn't move for him like they always had before.

"Part of it is also that you're shorter," Teldy said. "So they don't see you coming, if they aren't actively looking to gawk at you."

John rolled his eyes. "All right, all right, I get it. I'll be there. I'll need you to spot me some M&M's, though."

"With all due respect, sir, I don't think you do get it," Teldy said quietly, "but I appreciate you coming along." And then she was gone, leaving John to dodge around people in the halls and flee back to his quarters.

Ladies' poker night was in one of the rec rooms closest to Elizabeth's office, mostly because Elizabeth was the one who worked latest and typically was the last to arrive, and they other ladies thought it fair not to make her have to come from far across the city (ladies' poker night having been established before the discovery of the transporters). John followed Teldy into the room, which was appointed with a conference table, a side table made up like a snack bar, and a laptop and projector set to use the far wall, which was blank, as a screen.

"Sometimes we give up on the poker and watch movies," Teldy said. "We get a lot of home videos in the data-bursts."

"That's cool." John jammed his hands into his pockets, unsure of what else to say. Someone - he suspected Lorne - had found him some civvies in his new sizes, a pair of track pants and a t-shirt that was definitely cut for a female but wasn't pink or otherwise particularly feminine.

Teldy handed him a bag of M&M's. "This is to get you started. After this, you're on your own." She narrowed her eyes at him. "Don't eat any before we ante up."

John nodded. "Right."

The other women who came trickling in included Heightmeyer, Novak, Banks, Dr. Brown, Cadman, and Dr. Kusanagi. Teldy did a round of introductions for the women John didn't know who were from the newest wave of expedition recruits, but it would be a while before John knew all their names (Lorne probably already had them memorized). Elizabeth was the last to arrive, sliding into a seat that wasn't at the head of the table. She brought several decks of cards with her so multiple games could be played at once, and John somehow found himself roped into a game with Teldy, Cadman, and two of the new recruits. Rose Edwards was a marine sergeant and had served on SG-11 with Lorne originally. Her husband, a marine corporal, was still back under the Mountain on SG-13. Naomi London was a marine lieutenant who had gone to law school but decided she didn't want to be a JAG officer and she had a vague history in black ops that John didn't ask about too closely.

Beyond the women's thirty-second bios, John learned more about women than he ever thought he could have, having once been married to one. They gambled like sailors and cheated like thieves. While John was eligible for MENSA on his math skills alone, Naomi could do things in her head with cards and numbers that would have made Rodney weep. They talked about how glad they were to have quarters of their own instead of trying to herd the men out of the locker room so it could become the women's locker room after terribly sandy missions. John learned more than he ever wanted to about menstrual cups, sea sponges, and how the Daedalus always carried way more beer than it did tampons, which were useful for bullet wounds, by the way - it was what they'd originally been designed for.

"I think it's stupid how tampons are taxed as a luxury but condoms aren't," Naomi was saying as she dealt the next hand. She'd cleaned out John right quick, but once he was out of candy they gave up playing for snacks and started playing for pride anyway.

"Condoms are an important medical device," John pointed out.

Rose snorted. "You think tampons are a luxury?"

John swallowed. "Well, seeing how I never –"

"Oh," Rose said, and her eyes went wide. "Right, um, sir. I forgot. Sorry."

An awkward silence fell over the table.

Then Cadman said, very deliberately, "Carson's pretty cute. I love his accent."

"Carson?" Naomi asked.

"Beckett. The doctor," Rose said. She eyed her cards critically. Naomi was a genius with numbers, but Rose's poker face was dangerous. "His brogue is very pleasant."

"I hear Katie's going on a date with McKay," Teldy said.

John blinked, confused. "Katie?"

"Brown, the botanist." Teldy rearranged her cards several times, trying to decide on the best hand to go for.

Naomi snorted. "Really? That's going to be fun times."

"Hey," John protested on his friend's behalf. "I know Rodney's a little awkward, but he's a nice guy."

Rose raised her eyebrows.

"Sometimes," John amended.

Naomi shook her head. "Yeah, it's not his niceness or his awkwardness I'd be worried about."

"Then what are you worried about?" John might have been in a woman's body, but he had his friend's back when it came to dating.

"Nothing you should ask about, sir." Naomi's smile was sly.

"In other news," Rose said, "Lorne has a great ass."

John almost choked on his beer.

"You're married," Cadman pointed out.

Naomi laughed. "But not blind." She sipped some of her beer. "Ronon, on the other hand, has a great everything."

Cadman raised her bottle and clinked it with Naomi's. "Hear hear!"

Teldy arched an eyebrow at John. "Stop looking like a Victorian spinster, sir. Like you've never had this kind of conversation before."

John had, with guys he'd been stationed with in Afghanistan, but never in Atlantis, never with Lorne or Rodney or Ronon, because almost every woman was in his chain of command. He couldn't afford to get distracted by women. And Rodney wasn't the kind of man to have explicit conversations about his female acquaintances, whatever chauvinist comments he occasionally made.

"I just -"

"Thought women were nicer than this?" Rose asked.

John shrugged. "I just think Zelenka has the best ass."

The women burst out laughing, and John thought hey, maybe this being a woman for a day thing wasn't so bad.

At the end of the night, Elizabeth and Naomi had won the most. Some of the other women broke off into smaller groups, but John was tired, so he begged off of a viewing of Banks's newest stash of home videos of her nephew and headed back to his quarters. He took a transporter, because he was fed up with dodging people in the hallway. He wanted to change into his pajamas and just pass out. Then he'd wake up, have breakfast, hide in his office to get more paperwork done, and halfway through the morning he'd be back to his normal self. No problems.

Someone - probably Lorne, damn it all - had left him a set of unisex pajamas in his new size, but John said screw it and put on his own regular pajamas, which fell well past his feet, but he didn't care. He brushed his teeth without looking in the mirror and crawled into bed.

He stared at the ceiling for a while, unable to fall asleep. After a while, he reached out and tugged on his headphones, toggled his iPod onto a Johnny Cash album. He fell asleep to the haunting strains of his cover of The Mercy Seat.

Even though John had officially been stood down off duty till his body reset itself, he still woke at 0600 Atlantis time. He stumbled into the he shower, scrubbed without looking too closely at his body, and went to brush his teeth. He was reaching for his shaving cream and razor before he knew what was what, and then he stopped. Sighed. Right. No shaving necessary. Maybe that was one okay part of being a woman. Well, he didn't have to shave his face, at any rate. Since he was going to be back to his normal self soon, he saw no need whatsoever to shave any other part of this body.

John ambled out of the bathroom with his towel knotted around his waist and started toward his closet, then paused. Right. He needed clothes that fit. He really hadn't done much yesterday, so – he leaned down, scooped up yesterday's uniform, and sniffed it experimentally. Clean enough. He'd worn worse while he was in Afghanistan.

There was a knock at the door.

"Who is it?"

"Major Lorne, sir."

"C'mon in," John said.

The door hissed open, and Lorne stepped into the room. He was carrying a clean female commander's uniform. "Good morning, sir. I brought you some – uh, sir." Lorne thrust the clothes at him and politely averted his gaze.

"You know," John said, "you could just send one of the marines to do stuff like this. In fact, if you send one of the new young ones, it might help me learn their names." He accepted the uniform.

Lorne continued staring at the far wall.

"What's your problem, anyway?" John asked. And then he realized - women didn't wear their towels this way. Well, he wasn't really a woman, so he dropped the towel altogether and began pulling on the clothes. Lorne didn't even twitch, didn't try to sneak a peek. "What, you don't find me attractive?" Ronon had all but called him ugly and butch right after the transformation.

"I don't think you're supposed to ask, sir," Lorne said calmly, though the taut line of shoulders belied his calm, "and I'm not supposed to tell you even if I do."

John, halfway into his sports bra, blinked. Did Lorne mean what John thought he meant?

"Besides," Lorne added, tone deliberately light, "I wouldn't want to take on McKay. While I could best him in combat, he'd make the rest of my life miserable. No hot water till the end of my days."

John blinked at him. "What?" He'd missed something.

The amusement slid off of Lorne's face. "I'll be in the office after breakfast, sir." He turned and headed for the door.

John finished yanking on the bra and tugged the shirt on over his head. He caught Lorne by the wrist. "Major –"

Lorne had gone very still, his chest rising and falling with rapid breaths. "Sir, I –"

"Thank you," John said quietly. "For all you've done."

"You're welcome, sir."

Lorne hadn't called John "sir" so many times in so few minutes since his first week in Atlantis.

Lorne said, quietly, "I miss the regular you, sir. All of us do. It's been less than a full day, but –"

"I miss me too," John said. "See you after breakfast."

Lorne nodded and ducked out.

Breakfast was another awkward affair. Rodney still couldn't look John in the eye, but in avoiding John's eyes he inevitably ended up staring at John's chest, which led to him staring rather fixedly at John's chin, which was making him self-conscious about the way he chewed. Apparently Teyla had been up half the night sparring with ambitious marines, and she looked ready to fall asleep in her Athosian knock-off of oatmeal. Ronon, on the other hand, was still smirking.

"Have fun at ladies' poker night?" he asked.

Rodney snorted. "Oh please. You just want to know if the women gossip about your biceps."

"Actually," John said, "I hear the finest ass on base belongs to someone in the science department."

Rodney immediately affected that nonchalant expression that meant he was secretly preening inside.

"Do tell," Teyla said.

John grinned. "Zelenka."

Rodney spluttered. "Impossible!"

Ronon burst out laughing. To make matters worse, Rose and Naomi stopped by to say hello to John and let him know that he was still occasionally allowed at ladies' poker night, and while they were beside the table, they called flirty greetings to Zelenka as he passed, which left him confused and Rodney spluttering even more. Teyla giggled behind one hand.

After breakfast, John joined Lorne in the office. The other man greeted John as if it were any other morning, as if there hadn't been some dangerous but nebulous exchange between them in John's quarters. Instead, Lorne put his head down and kept tapping away at his data pad, as industrious as ever. Something had happened between them, something weird and a little unsettling, but John couldn't capture it in words well enough to ask about it, so he decided not to say anything.

And then Carson's voice crackled over his radio. "Colonel Sheppard, Teyla, please report to the infirmary."

John glanced at his watch, which kept slipping around the wrong way on his wrist. It was almost eleven. His watch would fit again soon. "Gotta go get back to my normal self."

"Good luck, sir," Lorne said. He glanced up, and had he always had blue eyes like that?

"Thanks, but I don't think I'll need it." John stood up, straightened his jacket, and headed for the door. He decided to walk the halls of Atlantis one last time, enjoy the way the newest recruits gawked. They thought they were prepared for what the Stargate could bring. They were so wrong.

Halfway to the infirmary, Teyla fell into step beside him. "How was your experience as a woman?"

They walked shoulder-to-shoulder. With Teyla beside John, he didn't have to dodge around any of the more oblivious marines, who deferred to Teyla's obvious size and strength.

"I don't know that my experience was authentically a woman's, given that I am a man in a woman's body and it was for barely a day," John said, "but it was enlightening all the same. How about you?"

"My time in a man's body was both energizing and refreshing," Teyla said. "However, I prefer my true form."

"Me too." John grinned up at her. "So let's go get them back."

Carson had excused all non-essential personnel from the infirmary, but for added privacy he'd pushed two cots close together and encircled them with a privacy curtain. He had John and Teyla change into hospital gowns and lie back on the beds.

"Should I be worried about all this?" John asked as Carson and a nurse hooked them up to a plethora of monitors.

"I just want to make sure you're all right," Carson said, "and also record the data for posterity."

John eyed the crash cart right next to Carson. "You seem worried."

"Just cautious," Carson reassured him.

Elizabeth, Ronon, and Rodney were all present as support. Elizabeth and Rodney kept checking their watches.

"Would you stop that?" John asked. "It's making me anxious."

"Do we know the exact time when we transformed?" Teyla asked.

"Well, no," Rodney admitted. He started to glance at his watch again, stopped himself. "Anyway, I just wanted to say...Sheppard, you're not entirely ugly as a girl."

John blinked at him. "Thanks. I think."

"Of course I prefer your regular, manly self," Rodney amended quickly.

The nurse snickered.

Rodney turned red.

"He's lying," Ronon said. "Seriously, Sheppard, you make a really ugly girl."

"The preferred term is woman," John said, and Ronon raised his eyebrows. John realized how that must have sounded, but before he could say anything, his entire world was filled with blinding light. He shut his eyes against the glare, and the transformation was painless, just like last time.

The monitors beeped wildly, and John waited for the light to recede. When it finally did, he opened one eye, peered down at himself cautiously.

"Yes! I'm back!"

"As am I," Teyla said, but the joy in her voice vanished. "Are you all right?"

"Oh dear," said a woman with a Scottish accent, "Marie's fainted. Ronon, help me pick her up. She's much heavier as a man."

Ronon, however, was peering at himself in the nearest reflective surface. "Hey, I don't make a bad-looking girl."

"No, you make a hideous girl," Rodney said, fretting, voice high-pitched, "and so do I."

John scrambled for his radio. "Zelenka, get Neilson and the rest of your science team to the infirmary immediately. I think Neilson might have mis-translated something."

"How so?" Zelenka asked. "You sound like your normal self."

Elizabeth made a disturbingly pretty man. Her voice was a light tenor. She tapped on her radio. "This is Elizabeth Weir. Apparently the effects of the machine are contagious. Get your team here immediately."

"Yes, uh, sir. Right away." Zelenka dissolved into a litany of Czech profanity before his radio cut off.

John went to help Ronon and Carson lift the unconscious nurse Marie - who now looked like an escape from a K-pop boyband - onto his cot.

"Knock knock," someone said.

"Who is it?" Elizabeth asked.

"Major Lorne, sir," he said. "I brought Teyla and the Colonel some of their own clothes to change into. Did everything go all right?"

John twitched aside the privacy curtain. "Depends on your definition of 'all right'."

Lorne's gaze immediately went to the red patches on Elizabeth's jacket. "Ma'am?"

She nodded. "The effects of the machine are contagious, Major. Maybe you should –"

Lorne laid the clothes on the corner of Teyla's cot and backed up several steps. He tapped his radio. "Teldy, we have another Code Tireseias. I need wardrobe assistance ASAP."

"Roger that," Teldy said. "Send sizes ASAP."

John stared at Lorne. "You actually have a code for this kind of thing?"

"Stargate Command is prepared for many things, sir," Lorne said. He flicked his gaze over the newest victims of Ancient technology and tapped his radio once more. "Please ask Lieutenant Vega, Sergeant Mehra, and Lieutenant Cadman for some of their clothes, and also Dr. Parrish in botany for some of his."

John exchanged glances with Teyla. "Let's go get some food. This discussion will probably take a long time, and people will get hungry."

Teyla nodded. "Of course. That is very wise." She followed him out of the infirmary.

Behind them, Rodney's voice rose in a shriek. "Did anyone mark the time? So we know when it'll wear off."

There was a murmur from a woman who sounded like Carson, and Rodney's voice rose even higher.

"What do you mean if it wears off?"

Zelenka, Neilson, and a host of other scientists came spilling out of the transporter.

Neilson, who looked barely old enough to vote, protested, "I'm fluent in Ancient! I had it downloaded into my brain one time, okay? I know what I read."

"What do you mean, downloaded into your brain?" Zelenka asked.

"That's classified," Neilson said dismissively. "This isn't my fault. I –"

There was another flash of light from the infirmary.

A girl said, "Fer cryin' out loud."

Over the radio, an unfamiliar woman said, "Major Teldy, institute a quarantine around the infirmary effective immediately."


"Also, please send me some of Dr. Brown's clothes."

"Really?" Rodney demanded. "We're all hideous women except for Lorne?"

"I wouldn't call myself hideous," Zelenka said.

John and Teyla ran.