I'm sorry this is not a part of The Bribe... maybe this will kick-start that again.I HAVE NOT abandoned it, I promise.
This is based on Ali Baba with Rodney as Ali and John as Morgana.
WARNING - character death... but only in keeping with the original story and she really deserves it! Also some real character bashing - Jeannie is not a model sister.
SGA, John/Rodney, various other pairings mentioned... fairy tale, happy ending, some 'naughty bits' etc.
Point of view changes to John and then back to Rodney etc.
BETA - the AMAZING goddess47
Rodney put down his guitar and sighed. It was a particularly good, heavy and meaningful sigh, but completely wasted on the trees and weeds and random insects that surrounded him. He loved playing and composing music, but it just didn't pay the bills. He was even quite well known here in Atlanta for his music and he had played at the royal court several times.
And that, really, was the source of his problems. If he hadn't defied his father and turned down the opportunity to be a timber merchant (woodcutter really, Rodney sniffed to himself), in order to pursue his musical dream, then he wouldn't have played at court, he wouldn't have introduced Jeannie to Kaleb, Lord Miller and life would have been simpler and much more pleasant.
Jeannie was now Lady Miller and rich and she just loved rubbing Rodney's nose in it. She had her little spoiled brat of a daughter and, as Kaleb had happily died of old age (in his bed... in ecstasy according to Jeannie), she was now fabulously rich herself, a member of Queen Elizabeth's court and owner of a huge estate.
Rodney was expected to attend court too as the spare composer or musician, depending on whether that idiot Kavanaugh was being particularly useless or not, and the work was sporadic and usually cost more than Rodney was paid. He had to dress properly, get to the court on time and bring an instrument that worked, and all of that cost money.
Then there was the issue of Jeannie's birthday presents. Every year she expected something grand and that cost a fortune that Rodney didn't have. He also had to spoil the brat... Madeleine...? Melanie? Whatever. Then Jeannie would reciprocate.
Four years ago it had been Katie, the mousey ginger slavegirl. Rodney had scared the poor creature so much that he had been obliged to give her to Carson, just to stop her crying all the time.
Three years ago it had been Jennifer. Rodney had tried with her, he really had, but she had fallen in love with Captain Lorne of the Royal guard and so he had freed her too. Jeannie had been furious and so last year she had given him John.
That really wasn't fair at all. John was... spectacular. He was laid-back and cool, efficient and brilliant and he even seemed to like Rodney, but he was still a slave and Rodney wasn't allowed to sell him, give him away or free him for no reason. It was written into Rodney's contract with the slave merchant and apparently 'having weird hair', 'being a fabulous cook' and 'making even Rodney look good' was not enough of a good reason to free him. He had two mouths to feed and two bodies to clothe and that all cost money his didn't have as well.
So Rodney had taken to wandering into the forest to 'practise his music', which was a euphemism for... well, let's just say that he sometimes played his guitar as well.
At least last year Jeannie had given him a cat. Something he actually wanted. Although it was fair to say that he wanted John too, but in a very different way.
Rodney was about to...er... practise when he heard the sound of tramping feet and horse hooves heading his way. He quickly picked up his guitar and hid behind a tree to... hide the evidence... and was only just in time as a large band of men and women, led by a weird looking man on a palomino. As Rodney did up the last button, he cautiously peered around the tree and realised that they had stopped there, right in front of him.
The reason Rodney had chosen this place was that it was pretty, with a small rockface on one side, a babbling stream making a mini waterfall and a large clearing, but it seemed like a weird place for the man on the horse and his gang to be hanging around. Rodney clambered inelegantly into the tree and watched, hidden in the foliage, as the dark-haired man dismounted.
Rodney didn't really get a good look, but he seemed swarthy and sinister and his gang carried bags and sacks that clinked. They all waited while a couple of scouts reported to the leader and then the leader dismounted, went to the rock face. Rodney pulled out his special spy-glass (it was a very useful tool for seeing all kinds of things close up... especially John working in the garden or leaning over in the kitchen) and watched as the man actually opened up a... a cupboard in the rock. Inside was a set of buttons with numbers on and the man pressed 197 and 3 and then stood back.
A door opened in the rock. Rodney narrowly escaped falling out of the tree in surprise. It opened up and revealed a dark passageway into which all the people disappeared. They left the horse behind, chomping happily on grass.
Rodney was half intrigued and half terrified, and both emotions left him hiding in the tree for over a hour, clutching his guitar and shifting carefully, but nervously every so often until his bones ached with cramp.
Just as he was beginning to think that they would never come out again - and his mind had come up with all kinds of scenarios from exit passageways elsewhere to fire-breathing, human-eating dragons - the door slid open again with a grinding, grating sound and the horse whinnied. Then the gang reappeared, only this time with empty sacks and bags that no longer clinked.
As the gang leader came through, he pushed the red button on the bottom of the pad, and the door slid back. Once more, they all looked around and the scouts were sent off again, then the gang split up and left. The gang leader got up onto his horse and set off with just a few of his people (at least one of them was a blond-haired woman).
Even though the clearing was now devoid of people and even the jangling sounds of the horse's harness and clipping of its hooves had died away, Rodney stayed up in his tree for another twenty minutes, worrying that maybe there had been other gang members in the weird cave. No one came out, so he decided that only the chief knew the number and that, presumably, all the gang had come out. Whatever, Rodney's curiosity overcame his fear and he slipped out of the tree, taking the guitar with him. He couldn't leave it outside as it would have been an obvious marker that not only had someone found the secret cave, but that they had also found a way in.
It took a bit of time to find the 'cupboard' door, but eventually Rodney realised that the oddly round blemish in the rock face was the handle and he poked a finger in and pulled the door open. Behind the panel he found the buttons that looked a lot like the buttons and weird glass thingies in the village temple. He had never been allowed to get close enough to see them properly, but his fingers had always itched to try.
Now, his fingers hovered over the panel in a moment of indecision, but he couldn't help himself. He pressed the four buttons in the same order as the gang's chief and immediately the ground shook like a mini earthquake and the door slid open.
Now that he was close by, Rodney realised that the passageway wasn't dark at all. There were lights like the ones in the temple lighting up all around, and a glitter in the depths of the cave that called to him.
As Rodney entered the cave, the door slid closed behind him, but he quickly found the panel that would open the door back up again and was relieved when the same code made it open. Turning back to the cave, he allowed the door to close again and headed towards the centre of the cave.
He had expected to find some treasure there, but never in his wildest dreams had he expected to find quite so much treasure! It was stacked in over-flowing piles all around the large cave. There were coins of gold and silver, crowns, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other stones he had heard of, but never seen. There were goblets and plates, swords and shields as well as guns and... well, larger guns. The treasure was piled in haphazard heaps all around, but underneath all the gold and sparkly stuff Rodney saw twinkling lights and screens just like the temple.
He couldn't take it all in and he had to sit and just stare at it for a while, until common sense told him that he should really get out of here, just in case anyone came back. So Rodney took a satchel that was fairly old and peeking out from under a full dinner service of tarnished silver, and after dusting it down, he set about picking coins up. There was no point in taking any of the jewellery or precious stones as no one would buy them from him and he wasn't really interested in anything like that for himself. He did pick up a diamond pendant that he could give to Jeannie on her next birthday and then he spotted a really nice gold collar - the only jewellery that John was allowed to wear. It was understated and not at all flashy, but it would look a hell of a lot better than the tatty old leather thing that had adorned the necks of both Jennifer and Katie before John.
The coins were valid in any market place, so he took a few -no more than three - from each pile so that no one would notice they were missing, and stuffed them in the bag and his pockets. Even so, he was carrying more money than he had ever seen in one place before and he and John could enjoy a far better standard of living from now on.
It took a lot longer to get home than usual as Rodney was weighed down by the metal in his pockets and he was still clutching his guitar. As he made his way up the garden path to the miserable hovel he called 'the place where I live', John emerged looking... well stunningly handsome of course, but also a bit frazzled.
"Where the hell have you been, Master?" John demanded angrily. Rodney let him get away with quite a bit actually.
"Get inside!" Rodney hissed urgently and John's expression turned to one of surprise. Rodney didn't often bother to order his slave around.
John followed Rodney into the house and closed the door, watching as Rodney swished the curtains across the only window. Then Rodney put his guitar down on its stand, opened up the bag and emptied the contents onto the bare stone floor.
"What the hell?"John asked. "Did you rob a bank or something?"
"What? No!" Rodney refuted. "Do I look like the kind of person who would rob a bank? No, I took this from a robber gang." And Rodney related quickly what had happened, only embellishing the truth a little bit... and skirting quickly over what he had actually been doing in the clearing ("I was practising!!").
"Are you sure they won't notice what's missing?" John asked urgently when Rodney had finished.
"I'm not an idiot! I made sure that I only took a bit and only stuff that we could use. You'll have to come with me next time."
"Next time?" John squeaked. "You're not thinking of going back, are you?"
"This isn't going to last forever!" Rodney argued, pointing at the pile of silver on the floor.
"How are you going to explain that suddenly you can pay your bills instead of trying to fob them off with crappy songs?"John asked.
"Crappy? My songs are brilliant!" Rodney defended.
"Yes, Master, sure they are!" John smirked.
"I thought that we could pretend that someone actually wanted to buy them... maybe someone from another planet, and so we have money at last."
John pondered that and nodded. "That could work. We'll have to go through the Ring of the Ancients a couple of times before we start spending."
"I... I brought this for you..." Rodney offered the gold collar tentatively, unsure of how John would feel about it. "I mean, you don't have to wear it and it doesn't lock or anything..."
"Do you think you could get the disc engraved in the town?" John asked gently and Rodney beamed with happiness.
John was truly happy at the upturn in his master's affairs. The collar was much nicer and it made him much more secure when he went out to the market. Rodney had had the thing engraved in Sateda and it just 'MRMcKay' in standard letters. Teyla and Ronon had both approved and Ronon even expressed some jealousy, not that John could blame him. They both belonged to Lady Miller and had really ornate locking collars about their necks.
Rodney had spun the tale of being successful at last and John had been really impressed with his master's acting skills -which was all the more surprising seeing as he totally sucked at lying normally. Rodney had huffed, of course, and claimed that he could have been a professional actor if he hadn't decided to be a musician and John had laughed at the proud expression on the man's face. One day he would get his master into his bed, John swore to himself again. John's bed was smaller than Rodney's and his feet stuck over the end, but it was also much softer - Rodney's was hard as a rock in a bid to help his back, apparently.
The weird thing was that as soon as Rodney put about that he had become successful, everyone wanted his songs and he actually did become moderately well-off just through his music. Rodney moved to a better house with enough room for both himself and John, their food and clothes became much better and life improved radically for both men.
Of course they still had to go to court and that cost money, so John went with Rodney to the cave and marvelled at the contents, as well as the lights that blinked and glowed at him from behind the treasure.
"You know, I think it's brighter in here than I remember," Rodney mused as John leaned on a sort of shelfy-thing and it all lit up and beeped at them. "Can you hear a voice... very faint, but...?"
"Yeah," John agreed, relieved that he wasn't the only one who could hear the female voice welcoming him by name.
When Jeannie's birthday came around, Rodney and John were called to her annual banquet at which she would show off all her wealth and be scathingly rude about Rodney's pitiful present. John helped Rodney to dress and calmed him down before leading him to his sister's house.
Once there, Rodney was embraced and kissed by his sister and informed that he was even fatter than before and that his hair had receded even more.
"Happy birthday Jeannie, you look splendid as usual," Rodney sighed, wishing that his sister weren't such a spiteful cow. All the guests had heard her words and were laughing at his expense.
"Don't believe a word of it!" John hissed in his ear. "You've lost weight and I like your hair!"
Rodney flushed and accused, "You've got to like me!"
John snorted and followed Rodney to his place where Carson waited.
"You've had some luck, I hear!" Carson beamed, hugging his friend and appraising him. "And you've lost some weight! Are you looking after him then John?"
"Yes, sir!" John winked and went to place Rodney's present on the large pile.
The meal was large and had many courses, but John growled in anger when three of the main dishes had lemon or orange in them and the dessert was a large lemon and lime blancmange, all calculated to insult Jeannie's brother. This year Jeannie seemed to be outclassing herself with her meanness and John could only presume that she was jealous of her brother's good fortune.
After dinner they came to the presents. Rodney sat on a long cushion next to his sister, John sitting cross-legged next to him on the floor, next to Teyla who attended her mistress and tried to keep a serene expression on her face.
"Is this your present then, Mer?" Jeannie asked, holding the little box up for all her important guests to see. "It's a bit small isn't it?"
The guests all laughed and John gritted his teeth, wishing he was free and able to say what he wanted to say to the bitch.
Jeannie opened it up saying, "It's bound to be something crappy! Is it one of your stupid songs like last year?"
"No, Jeannie, it's not a song," Rodney smiled and waited happily.
"Oh, don't say you got me jewellery! I have so much... Oh my god!" Jeannie pulled out the ruby pendent on its gold chain and held it up to the light. It was about the size of her little finger nail and was surrounded by little diamonds - understated, but undeniably expensive. "That's... that's actually quite pretty..." Jeannie struggled with her shock. "They aren't real jewels, of course..."
"I hope they are!" Rodney retorted, "They damned well should be!"
"I didn't realise you could become that rich from writing songs!" Jeannie exclaimed, "especially not those crappy, stupid things you write!"
"I quite like his music!" Captain Lorne opined from his place on his own cushion, snuggling into Jennifer. "I paid him to write a piece of music for our wedding and it was really good!"
"Aye! And he wrote a lovely ballad for my birthday which reminds me of my home!" Carson added.
"What else is there in this pile then?" Jeannie interrupted, dragging the attention firmly back to herself and away from her hopeless brother.
Hours later, when John was helping to clear everything away and stealing bits of leftover food as he went, Jeannie came back into the room and called out his name.
"John!" she shouted angrily. "Come here!"
John handed the tray he was carrying to Ronon and answered the lady's call. "Yes my lady?"
"I bought you so I own you as much as my brother does!" Jeannie told him and John had to bite back the retort that he had been given to Rodney.
"Yes my lady," he agreed, fighting to keep the anger from his tone.
"So, tell me how my brother can afford to buy real rubies and diamonds."
"Are they real then, ma'am?" John feigned ignorance.
"Of course they are! I made Peter Grodin look at them and value them for me," Jeannie spat, not taken in by John's act. "Tell me the truth or I shall have you whipped!"
John had not been harmed in any way since he had come to Rodney - not even a slap, so he had to do battle with himself not to give away his fury at Jeannie's spitefulness.
"My master has been selling his music both on and off world, my lady. Many think that he is a genius."
"Rubbish! He rarely leaves the planet! You're lying and so is he. I will find out the truth!" she threatened. "Now, get out of my house and stop stealing my food!"
"Yes my lady," John agreed, turning around and walking straight out.
The next day, Jeannie actually deigned to come and visit Rodney's house. John saw her coming and almost panicked as Rodney had gone to the cave again. The roof needed to be repaired and Stackhouse wanted to be paid in advance.
John ran to the door and let Jeannie in with a bow and he was just about to make some excuse and run to warn Rodney, when Rodney himself came in, lugging a bag bulging with silver coins.
John looked at Rodney, who looked at Jeannie who looked at both men and for a moment no one said anything.
"What the hell? Did you rob a bank, Mer?" Jeannie accused.
"No!" Rodney cried, "Why does everyone think I've become some kind of thief?"
"Because you have just come home with a bag full of stolen money, maybe!" Jeannie spat sarcastically, gesturing at the silver coins spilling out over the floor.
"I didn't steal it!" Rodney argued, "It was already stolen and anyway, there's loads more of it back in the cave!"
John had tried to derail his master and he only succeeded in slapping his hand over Rodney's mouth after the damage was done. Jeannie looked shocked as John apologised, and then they both watched her surprise turn to greed.
"If there is loads of it, why didn't you bring more?" Jeannie asked.
"It's mostly gold and jewels," Rodney admitted, knowing that now that Jeannie knew, there was no point denying it. Besides, there was masses of gold there, far more than one person could ever spend in several lifetimes. "It would look really weird if I suddenly paid people in gold. My songs aren't that successful."
"But no one would bat an eyelid if I were to start paying in gold," Jeannie said calculatingly. "I could use the jewels and the plates and people would just know that I am very well off."
"But, Jeannie, you already have a fortune!" Rodney argued.
"You are such a stupid idiot - I can't believe we're related," Jeannie derided, rolling her eyes. "How long do you think a fortune really lasts? I am getting low on funds and I could really do with more treasure. Besides, there have been thieves around recently and I have had some of my gold goblets go missing. So, tell me how to get to the cave."
"I'll take you there," Rodney agreed, miserably.
"No! I'm not going to be seen out and about with a loser like you! Tell me how to get there and what the code is and I'll sort myself out."
"At least take John with you!" Rodney pleaded, "He knows the code and..."
"You let your slave know about this?" Jeannie rounded on Rodney and demanded scathingly. "Are you a complete moron?"
"No, Jeannie, but you are being a proud madam and you're going to get yourself hurt," Rodney replied to John's satisfaction.
Jeannie's expression darkened. "Tell me the code, Mer. Tell me quickly or else."
So Rodney told her everything, even writing down the code for her on the back of an envelope and John sighed, knowing that this could be the end of this good thing.
When Jeannie had left, Rodney sat on his new couch and sighed.
"I'm sorry, John. I gave everything away and I couldn't stand up to her - yet again. I'm so weak."
"No you're not, Master," John sat next to him and rubbed his master's back. "You just care about her even though she's an evil bitch."
Rodney grinned tiredly. "But she's still my sister."
Jeannie left Rodney's hovel and angrily stomped her way to the clearing. She was furious that her brother had hidden this secret from her and she clutched the envelope in her hands, wringing it as though she was somehow inflicting pain on her no-good brother.
The clearing eventually came into view and Jeannie stomped over to the rockface. It took her some time to find the hole in the rock that would allow her to open the panel and she called Rodney all kind of names for his poor description skills.
Tugging the envelope open, she jabbed in the numbers and the door opened, revealing a dark corridor - Jeannie cursed her brother for lying about the light in there - and she ventured in, peering into the gloomy light.
About half way down the corridor there was a very strange orange light that blinked at Jeannie like one of the temple lights and as she passed it, the entrance door rumbled closed. Jeannie stopped and would have turned to look, except that the light brightened a little and she spotted the treasure.
It was piled high in jumbled heaps and Jeannie gasped at the astonishing amount of gold, silver and jewels. There were plates, goblets, crowns and necklaces and Jeannie found that she was almost crying with glee. It was far more than her idiot brother had described and Jeannie couldn't imagine why the stupid boy hadn't brought more out. No one knew that he was rich and had such access to further riches, but she wouldn't make such a ridiculous error. She had brought a large back-pack with her, so she started piling gold and jewels into it.
About an hour later, Jeannie was repacking for the third time. She just couldn't fit all the treasure she wanted into the bag, so she had taken out anything that was silver and replaced it with gold, then taken out the gold and replaced it with diamonds. She felt justifiably angry when she discovered her own missing goblets in amongst the treasure, but that just made her even more determined to take things that would be sellable. She could always come back for more later.
Finally she had a bag full of diamonds, gold coins and jewellery that she knew would suit her, so she decided that it was time to go home and start calculating how much she had now.
Back at the entrance, Jeannie set the heavy bag down for a moment and then searched around for the panel. It opened easily and she dug around for the ratty envelope her brother had given her with the code on it.
It wasn't there.
Jeannie dug through the pockets of her coat, then through the bag. She emptied the bag out, missing a couple of diamonds as she stuffed it all back in again, but had no luck - the envelope was gone.
Jeannie was beginning to panic now. It was dark in the cave and she really wanted to go home and show her brother what she had thought to bring. She searched all around the corridor, but to no avail. She even searched through the treasure to see if she had dropped it while selecting her haul, but there was no sign of any paper at all.
Feeling rather scared and a lot annoyed with her brother, Jeannie went back to the panel. After all, she was a genius and she should be able to figure out the code. She remembered that it had a pattern to it, but she had been too excited to take note of what she was doing on the way in.
Another hour passed and Jeannie was still stuck in the cave. The door just wouldn't open and Jeannie sat on the floor and burst into tears. All the riches in the world were hers, but she couldn't get out to spend any of it. Her only consolation was that Mer would soon realise that she hadn't come home and he would come looking for her.
"Master?" John called to Rodney as he got up from the table. Rodney had had the daily argument with John about eating together and, as usual, he had lost.
"That was great, thank you John!" Rodney grinned, "and do you think you could call me Rodney?"
"Nope!" John replied as he always did. "But Teyla and Ronon are here and they wanna know if you've seen your sister."
"Jeannie? Not since she left to go... you know where," Rodney frowned. "Maybe she's out on the town celebrating?"
"No, Master Rodney," Teyla answered gravely, entering behind John. "Lady Miller did not come home last night and her bed has not been slept in. Ronon and I thought that maybe she had decided to stay here for once."
Rodney laughed. "No chance! She thinks I live in a hovel. Have you checked in town? At court? She's... er... come into some money and..."
"No, Master Rodney," Teyla interrupted. "She is not in any of those places. Neither is she in the temple, nor the bank, and she has not passed through the Ring of the Ancestors."
"Oh crap! She must still be in the..." he waved his arms at his servant in some kind of secret signal "you know where," Rodney sighed. "Look, don't worry, John and I will go and find her."
"We should probably take Teyla and Ronon with us," John opined, "I mean... they're both, you know... good at fighting and stuff."
Rodney gave Ronon an appraising stare and the giant grinned scarily back.
"Ok..." Rodney agreed, "as long as they remember they're on our side!"
John opened the cave door, took one look at what was waiting inside and then refused point blank to let Rodney go in.
"Stay out here!" he commanded his master, "You just don't wanna see it!" he added grimly.
"Tell me," Rodney demanded softly as Ronon and Teyla went inside to deal with the mess.
"As far as I can tell, Jeannie was in here when the robbers came back and... they found her," John told Rodney, clasping his shoulder and speaking softly.
"She's dead?" Rodney asked unnecessarily, to which John nodded.
"Very much so, I'm afraid." John sighed. "They... um... cut her in half."
In the end it was decided that they would let it be known that Jeannie was not well. They called for Carson, the court doctor and Rodney's life-long friend, to come and help and he agreed to 'diagnose' an illness that had been festering in Rodney's sister for a long time. He told them that he had no wish to know where the cave was or how to get into it, but that he would do it for the sake of friendship, which made Rodney cry again.
Carson dealt with the body, sewing it back together and then dressing it, then he announced Lady Miller's death and the court lost interest and went back to what they usually did.
Rodney inherited all of Jeannie's possessions and Maddison. He also inherited Teyla and Ronon, whom he freed instantly as long as they promised to carry on guarding him (mostly from his niece). He decided not to move into Jeannie's enormous house, but to carry on living in the modest sized house with just John to look after him, and to carry on writing music and ogling John. All in all, life was pretty good really...
Robber Commander Kolya was livid. Not only had they discovered a girl wandering around in their secret cave that no one was supposed to be able to get into, but someone else had come into the secret cave and taken the body away!
He called his gang to attention.
"We have a problem. Only I know the code to get at our treasure and one day I would have passed the information on to my successor. Now we have another person coming in and helping themselves to our fortunes! That person must die!"
"But Commander," Sora, his lieutenant argued, "We don't know who it is. We have been watching the cave for days now and no one has even come near!"
"We will carry on watching, but I have decided that we must find this person soon. Idos, Cowen, I want you two to go into the town and try to find out if anyone has got rich recently. Once we have a suspect we will find out if that person has a dead friend or sister. As soon as you find him or her we will kill them."
Idos and Cowen went to the town and quickly discovered that Lady Miller had recently died and that her brother was now rich, but they couldn't really be sure that this was the right person - after all, Lady Miller had always been rich. Lady Miller had died of an illness and the court doctor himself had tended to her, so maybe it wasn't her. They decided to mark the door of the rich dead woman's brother anyway.
What they didn't know was that John spotted them. He was just about to go and ask them what they wanted, when he saw them marking the gate with chalk.
Rodney's house was one of many pretty identical houses on the street and he liked it better than the mansion he had inherited from his sister. John waited until the two strange men had disappeared and then marked all of the gates on the street in the same way. He then went to find Rodney and told him what had happened.
Rodney and John then watched out and, sure enough, the two men came back, but this time they came with the scary pock-marked man that Rodney had seen in the woods.
"That's him, John!" Rodney cried out, frightened. "That's the robber chief!"
"It's ok, Master, he couldn't tell which was your house and they've gone away."
"But everyone knows where I live!" Rodney wailed. "He'll find me and kill me!"
"You had better move to Lady Miller's house," John suggested seriously. "It's easier to defend apart from anything else."
Rodney nodded sadly and went to pack.
A few days later, Rodney was playing his guitar in Jeannie's garden when there was a knock on the ornate gate. Rodney was nearest so he went to open it himself.
Out in the street was a tall man in flowing robes with bright, blond hair and pale skin. Rodney had never seen the man before.
"Is your master at home?" the man asked in a strange accent.
"I am the master here," Rodney shrugged. "Can I help you?"
The man was clearly astonished, but he recovered quickly. "I... er... I was wandering who was playing that divine music. I was going to offer to buy him or her from you. I am an oil merchant and I frequently hold banquets for my rich guests and I would have loved to have your musician to play for us."
"Oh, well, I'm sorry, but I'm not for sale!" Rodney laughed, "But I do parties..."
"I would love to hear more of your amazing music, you must be some kind of genius."
"Well, yes, I am actually," Rodney preened.
"When is your next concert?" the stranger asked.
"Oh, not for weeks," Rodney replied, "but I'd be very happy to play for you this evening. Come for dinner and I'll play afterwards."
"Really?" the stranger asked.
"Oh yes! Come over at sunset and we'll eat in the grand hall... the acoustics are best there!" Rodney enthused.
"I have many barrels of oil with me..." the stranger warned, but Rodney waved his hand in a dismissive gesture.
"Don't worry, Jeannie's garden is massive. You can leave them all there!"
"Till this evening then," the stranger nodded with a big smile that Rodney barely saw. He was too busy bustling back inside his house.
Once inside, Rodney found John and told him about the guest.
"Guest?" John repeated. "You have actually invited someone to dinner?"
"Yes! He liked my music. In fact he said that I was a genius!" Rodney told John smugly, eyes shining brightly in pride.
"You are a genius when it comes to music," John agreed gently, "but not when it comes to people. Who is this person? What was his name?"
"Name?" Rodney asked blankly, "I don't know... he didn't say. I suppose I should have asked really."
"Yeah," John smirked.
"We're going to eat in the grand hall so he can hear me play after dinner. Oh, and he's bringing a whole load of barrels of oil with him. I told him he could leave them in the garden."
"Oil," John repeated thoughtfully. "OK. Look, I'll go and do some shopping and get some food in for this little party."
"Thank you John," Rodney beamed and he went to tune his instruments.
John asked around but couldn't really find any useful information about the oil merchant, except that no one had ever seen him before. John knew that he was feeling horribly jealous and he was very tempted to ruin the dinner for Rodney, just to get rid of this rival, but he held back. Although he loved his Master's humour and lived for times when Rodney let go and told idiots what he thought of them, he knew that other people didn't enjoy it as much as he did. Maybe Rodney would scare this suitor off on his own?
John made sure that he was at the gate to let this strange man in by himself and was shocked to the core by what he saw. In spite of the blond wig and the pale skin, there was no mistaking the man who had been watching Rodney's old house. John was positive that this strange guest who had flattered his way into his Master's house was none other than the chief of the robber gang.
Cursing his Master's trusting nature and how easily he was deceived by a few kind words, John began to plan. He first made sure that dinner was under control (Jeannie's cook was thoroughly enjoying having a master who enjoyed food so much) and then he went to find Ronon and Teyla. They would be a great help in executing John's plan.
The barrels arrived on a cart and were backed into the yard where Ronon took charge of them. As Rodney and the guest began to eat, John crept out to the courtyard and surveyed the barrels. They were much larger than oil barrels were usually and John had no idea what kind of oil it was supposed to be, but there was just something... off about them.
"Help me pull one of these barrels down," he asked Ronon and they both climbed onto the cart. That was when it hit John what was wrong. They weren't sealed. You couldn't carry oil around in unsealed barrels as all the oil would slosh out over the tops. Usually barrels were sealed and then laid on top of each other. These ones were upright. He signalled to Ronon to stop and then kicked one of the barrels.
"Is it time?"
John and Ronon sprung back in surprise as the barrel spoke to them. While the two of them exchanged glances, the person in the barrel asked again,
"Is it time?"
"Not yet," Ronon hissed back, and the two men jumped back off the cart.
"What are you thinking?" Ronon asked.
"Rodney's guest is the robber chief and these barrels contain his gang. They are going to kill Rodney and probably all of us as well once we are all tucked up in bed," John guessed.
"So?" Ronon asked with a grin.
John's grin was evil. "We kill'em all first," he decided.
They grabbed a sword each and opened each barrel separately, putting a hand over each robber's mouth as they lifted the tops off and slitting the throats of each one.
Once all sixty were dead, Ronon asked, "What about the chief?"
"Get Teyla and ask her to bring her bantos sticks to the grand hall," John smiled. "I'm going to dance for my Master and his guest."
Dinner was spectacularly good and Rodney was thrilled. Even the stranger, who told him that his name was Genii, enjoyed it all and they both had to loosen their belts a notch afterwards.
Genii took the dessert wine and then turned to Rodney.
"Thank you for such an amazing dinner. You must allow me to compliment the chef."
"Oh certainly!" Rodney agreed happily, still licking his chocolate pudding plate.
"But you promised me music," Genii reminded his host.
"I did!" Rodney grinned. "John! Bring me my guitar!"
"Here Master," John bowed and presented the instrument. "But I have a favour to ask."
"Really?" Rodney asked, astonished. He couldn't ever remember John asking him for anything before.
"May I dance for you and your guest, Master?" John asked, bowing in a fluid and sultry way.
Rodney shifted and squeaked, "Um... yeah... sure!" trying hard to remain composed.
"Maybe you would play that song you wrote for the court?" John suggested.
"Right... yeah..." Rodney agreed, head brain not entirely functioning (lower one was functioning all too well).
"Oh... yes, yes of course." Rodney picked up his guitar, glad that it hid his nether regions so well, and began to play.
It was a song designed to encourage people to join in. It started off in a slow and sultry fashion and then gradually picked up pace and enthusiasm, taking its audience with it. Rodney was especially good at adding in percussion on the guitar to make the whole thing become almost wild.
John started to dance. It was mainly warm-up moves for one of his combat exercises, but it fit the music and he moved with fluidity and grace. It was all Rodney could do to carry on playing, but he determined to do his best.
Just before the tempo changed, Teyla appeared and, bowing to Rodney, she offered her bantos rods to John who took them with a grin. Teyla then began to sing. Rodney hadn't really written words to the tune, but Teyla sang in her native tongue and the sing was lifted to being one about enjoyment, exoticism and excitement. Rodney found his fingers playing without any help from his brain as he watched John's movements - mesmerised.
John twirled the batons in his hands, first one way, then the other, throwing them in the air and catching them, behind his back and again to his front. Teyla stopped singing and took up hand drums and the tempo moved up a notch, along with the excitement.
Rodney stopped even thinking about the tune and merely played the strums and beats, faster and faster until suddenly John leaped forwards and struck 'Genii' on the head - knocking him out cold. He then grabbed the dagger that had fallen out of the guest's hand, clanging to the floor. It flashed in the bright lights of the hall and then John plunged the dagger into the Robber Chief's heart, killing him instantly.
It took Rodney a full minute to register that John had just saved his life - although it could have been one hour, or even one day. Eventually he looked from the dagger still sticking out of the robber's body, to the blond wig that had fallen off his head and finally to the smudge of make-up that covered the imperfections and sallow colour of Kolya's skin. It took another minute to find his voice and he looked at John, kneeling before him, blood splattered on his arm and watching his Master with some trepidation.
"You...you saved my life!" Rodney whispered eventually. "You... I... I mean... he's the Robber Chief... he was going to kill me."
"Yes Master," John agreed, waiting to see if Rodney would call for the guard and have his slave put to death. "I thought that if I could force him to make his move in front of me... "
"You killed him before he could kill me," Rodney finished John's sentence. He then leaned forward and kissed John.
Teyla slipped away as John deepened the kiss and then pulled back.
"Don't be ridiculous!" Rodney huffed. "Like you've ever been my slave! Jeannie said I could only free you if you did something worthy... saving my life is pretty worthy!"
"It doesn't matter," John smiled. "It's not like I'd have gone anywhere even if you had freed me."
"Well, you're free to go now and you know how to get in and out of the cave," Rodney shrugged. "You're as free and as rich as anyone could possibly be. Just don't get caught by the rest of the gang."
"Yeah... about that..." John smirked. "They're all gone... I mean dead. Ronon is at the Gate sending the cart with all the dead robbers into space."
"We killed them all and Ronon has dialled a space gate and has sent them through. He knows the guard who is on tonight." John rubbed his messy hair self-consciously.
"You killed them?" Rodney asked with wide eyes.
"They were going to attack during the night," John explained, looking a little worried.
"You did all of that for me?" Rodney asked, amazed.
"I'd do anything for you, Rodney," John admitted.
"Remind me not to get on your bad side," Rodney grinned. "And you don't mind that I... you know..." he flapped his hands between himself and his former slave.
"Kissed me?" John asked, "No... and I'm kinda hoping you'll do it again."
Rodney smiled widely, his whole face lighting up and his eyes turning as vivid a blue as they had ever been. "Oh God, yes please!" he cried and dived in.
They never saw any of the robber gang ever again and assumed that John and Ronon had killed them all. No one ever knew that Rodney's fortune wasn't left to him by Jeannie, after all his music was brilliant - especially after he freed and married John. John seemed to inspire him to unparalleled greatness until his name became a legend in the world of music.
Maddison grew up with her two uncles and learned music, dance and fighting from them and also from Teyla and Ronon who stuck around as well. All of them knew the secret of the cave and also knew that there were enough riches there to last several lifetimes.
Rodney couldn't care less about the treasure as long as he had John - and to be honest, he had John, and John had him several times and most nights... and not always at night either... Rodney's riches came from the love he shared with John and the secrets of the cave. The buttons and lights were fascinating to him and he started studying the secrets of the Ancients until he became the greatest expert in the Galaxy.
When she grew to adulthood, Maddison was a well-rounded, intelligent young lady with a fortune that attracted men and women from far and wide, but she knew that one day she would find her love. It might take many years, but until she found the one person in the world who could love her the way that John loved her Uncle Mer, she would never marry. Maddison knew, from the example before her, that love really was the answer.