Title: The Bribe
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis AU
Pairing: John Sheppard/ Rodney McKay
Notes: There are dark themes in this, but the violence and nastiness mainly happens off-stage. John owns Rodney, who disgraced himself five years ago and nearly caused the deaths of members of SG1. Rodney has been a slave belonging to the International Committee that runs the SGC for five years and has never known the security and protection of having an actual owner.
I’m an Atlantis fan rather than SG1, so I have played around with the history and I’m told that Jack is a little OOC – it’s an AU, so he’s going to behave the way I see fit! Anyway, he’s not important!
This is about recovery and not about dystopia-style world-building – slavery exists in this world and there’s no real effort to change that – besides, they’re all off to Atlantis!
My plan is to post what I’ve got in lj-sized chunks and then to add to it as I work through re-watching the Seasons.
This has been read and beta’d by Rieval, my brother and, most especially, by the great and glorious goddess47 .
Please be gentle with me as I have never posted anything quite like this before, but I really, really want to know if you like it or not!
When disgraced pilot, Major John Sheppard sat in the control chair in the ancient base in Antarctica, it made a number of people very happy.
It meant that Dr Carson Beckett had a wonderful excuse to escape and avoid ever having to sit in the bloody thing again. He hated Ancient technology that wasn’t for medical use, as it wasn’t always obvious what each item did and anyway, with the mental part of the control, it meant that anything that went wrong would be his fault. He hated it when things went wrong.
It meant that Dr Beckett would never have to sit in that damned chair again and therefore would be unlikely to launch any more rogue drones at unsuspecting Generals; a concept that General Jack O’Neill could seriously get behind. If it hadn’t been for the fancy flying of that Major, he would have been an ex-General by now.
It meant that Carson would never have to sit in that, zatracený chair again! Dr Radek Zelenka had run out of bribes, arguments and threats to use to get his medical friend to the control room. The last time he had sent the genius slave Ego to fetch him, carrying a message that informed Carson that Ego would be whipped if Carson refused to come. It was underhand and sneaky given that Zelenka knew of Carson’s soft heart and abolitionist tendencies, but Radek had been desperate… until Major Sheppard had taken the seat and made it glow, producing working holograms of solar systems with a mere thought.
General O’Neill’s Quarters, Antarctica.
General O’Neill checked to see if his bed-mate was still awake.
Dr Daniel Jackson O’Neill (Lib) stirred and turned to look at his Patron in the low level lighting of their shared room at the Ancient base.
“Yeah?” he responded sleepily.
“How can I persuade Sheppard to go to Atlantis?”
Jack might have been Daniel’s Master once, and now be able to demand his loyalty as his Patron, but he had waited over a week before daring to discuss this with his freedman. Daniel was still furious that Jack had refused permission for him to go as a part of the Atlantis expedition.
“Why wouldn’t he want to?”
“Not everyone is as excited by this as you!” Jack laughed. “Anyway, he doesn’t want to be a walking light-switch.”
Jack actually understood this. As an ATA gene holder and gold-plated, dimmer enabled, bells and whistles light-switch himself, he could see where the Major was coming from, but he could also see how necessary Sheppard was to the expedition. If he didn’t go, then they were left with Beckett…
“Not exactly,” Jack admitted. “He just seemed reluctant. I told him that if he didn’t want to go, then I didn’t want him, but Elizabeth needs him.”
“How’s Beckett’s research going?”
“I thought you’d know more about that than me. As far as I can guess it’ll take a few more weeks.”
Daniel smiled at Jack’s downplaying of his own intelligence. “Imagine if we could all use the technology,” he commented wistfully.
“We just need to offer Sheppard something… I don’t know. Money is pointless; he doesn’t spend what he earns as it is. He loves flying, but I can’t guarantee that there will be anything for him to fly out there. Hell! I can’t even guarantee there’ll be anything but gruesome death out there!”
They were silent for a moment as they each reflected. Daniel thought back to the only time he had met the Major, and remembered the chair.
Actually, Daniel had not been watching the show; exciting though it was. He had been distracted by his friend Rod… Ego.
It was criminal that such a thing should have happened to Dr Rodney McKay, astrophysicist, engineer, genius and arrogance personified. Daniel had been born a slave in the senatorial Jackson family, who had sent him to be educated, allowed him to work with the Military on the Stargate program and finally sold him to Jack O’Neill’s personal ownership eight years ago. He had therefore been able to go on missions with his Master and his team, providing invaluable help with his brilliance in the fields of languages, anthropology and archaeology, and eventually being freed. Not that that really made much difference. He now lived with Jack and didn’t actually have to obey him… well, not all the time anyway… not that he’d been that good at it when he was Jack’s slave…
Rodney, however, was a genius astrophysicist who had, in spite of Daniel’s lowly status, always treated Daniel with the respect his doctorate deserved. He wasn’t as rude to Daniel (except perhaps with regard to the dubious value of his chosen specialist subjects) as he was with everyone else and had never had Daniel punished for anything. In fact, Rodney had even defended him on several occasions, hating the way that people would happily blame slaves for their own shortcomings.
Rodney, however, had made two monumental errors. He had come up with a plan that could, possibly, have accidentally caused the deaths of Teal’c and Jack, although it hadn’t in the end. He had also hit on Major Sam Carter, calling her ‘Blondie’ of all things!
Being socially imbecilic and yet having an (admittedly deserved) ego the size of a galaxy, meant that Rodney had not made many friends and there was no one to speak up for him at his trial in front of the International Committee. In fact there were many people, mainly scientists, queuing up to denounce him and speak against him. Dr Kavanaugh had been one of the most vocal, but there were plenty of others too.
McKay’s family had not responded to his appeal and only Carson Beckett had spoken for his friend. It was nowhere near enough and Rodney had been sent to Siberia, enslaved by the IC, name changed in a cruel nod to his genius.
Actually, Rodney had not let this change in his status get in the way of his work and research on all things Ancient, especially Stargate and wormhole workings and naquadah, but, on his return to the US, Daniel saw a vastly different character to the bombastic, arrogant genius who had been sent away.
Now there was only submission and silence where there had been life, brilliance, endless chatter and enthusiasm. Rodney was still the cleverest man in his many fields, (he felt safe saying this, with Sam being a woman!) that Daniel had ever encountered, outstripping Zelenka and pretty much all the other physicists and engineers in their own fields, but now there didn’t seem to be anything other than Physics and Engineering in the man. Daniel would even have welcomed a snarky comment about the pointlessness of so-called sciences such as anthropology from him, but that was over and gone now.
It was now Daniel’s turn to defend Rodney and he had done his best to save him from the beatings and abuse that he fell afoul of, due mainly to the way Rodney had treated people in his free days. Daniel had always agreed with Rodney’s estimation of his fellow scientists, although he would never have had the courage to say it so directly! Unfortunately there were a lot of people here who remembered Dr McKay and Daniel knew that he was having a hard time. He never said anything, but he often walked with a limp, or flinched at a touch, or a voice, that told its own story. He no longer bristled at people’s stupidity or flew into a passionate argument that corrected everyone’s errors and left his audience shaking, and Daniel kind of missed that.
“Jack?” he cried suddenly, causing his Patron to start out of a doze.
“Why not give Sheppard a slave? A personal one.”
“A wha…? Slave?” Jack queried, a bit incoherently.
“He’s alone right?” Daniel insisted. “He’s got the gene and he has no family or friends.”
“He’s not partnered with anyone, no.” Jack sounded as though he was coming back on-line now. “Why a slave?”
“It seems to be something that most soldiers enjoy.”
“Well, yeah!” Daniel could hear his Patron’s leer even if he couldn’t see it.
“Jack!” he admonished.
“Hey!” Jack sniggered. “You started it! I’m not too keen on picking up a slave for an officer… that’s really…”
“Well, offer one to Sheppard.”
“Why would he want one? If he wanted one, he’d have one already.”
“Who? Daniel… what are you…?”
“Rodney McKay. You know… Ego?”
“The one who molested Carter?” Jack’s voice rose and he turned over to face his lover.
“He didn’t molest her,” Daniel’s tone was angry now, “he asked her out. If I hadn’t been a slave at the time I would have testified for him at his trial. He was…”
“Yes…” Jack pulled him close and kissed his freedman to shut him up. As usual, it worked. “I know how you feel about slavery and I agree, but why suggest a slave and why that one?”
“Rodney was broken in Russia, Jack. He’s being regularly… abused and beaten. He always used to defend me, but I don’t have the power to help him now.”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, but Daniel carried on anyway. He was Rodney’s champion now and he had an argument armed and ready to use.
“I saw him looking at Sheppard in the chair. At first I thought he was looking at the show… as we all were. It was Rodney… Ego who told him to visualise where we were and up popped the Milky Way! But, Jack, he wasn’t watching the revolving planets, he only had eyes for Sheppard. He was instantly attracted!”
“Fine, but how do you know that Sheppard would be interested? I mean it’s Sheppard we want to bribe and Ego’s not the easiest man to get on with. We don’t even know if Sheppard’s into guys.”
“He doesn’t have to be a sex slave, Jack. Rodney’s…”
“Ego,” Jack insisted on the slave’s official name.
“Rodney…” Daniel disagreed, “is a fantastic physicist and he would be invaluable to anyone out there in Atlantis. He can help Sheppard to use the technology. With Sheppard’s gene and Rodney’s intelligence, they would be a formidable team. Anything is better than leaving them in the hands of Kavanaugh!” His enthusiasm was causing his voice to get louder, so Jack kissed him again.
“Let me think. We’ll need to get Elizabeth’s agreement.”
According to John Sheppard’s file and psych reports, Sheppard was, what Jack privately called, a White Knight. He thought nothing of risking his own life to rescue… well, anyone. His famous black mark had come about because he had disobeyed direct orders in order to rescue a friend… a friend who had been DOA in the end.
His notes questioned whether or not the man had a death wish, or if, perhaps, he was devoid of brains. Jack knew from talking to the man, and seeing him act under pressure, that intelligence was not one of the Major’s deficiencies, but this didn’t answer the question.
Sheppard was undoubtedly a formidable pilot. He had saved the general’s life with consummate skill… Didn’t the man deserve better?
“He deserves better than Ego,” Jack decided. “It’s a good idea, Danny, but there are plenty of better rewards around…”
“Rodney’s learnt submission the hard way,” Daniel disputed quietly. “He’s broken. He will obey, instinctively, any instruction that Sheppard will give him. He’s a genuine genius. Jack, please think about it? You haven’t seen…”
“Hey! Don’t get upset about it.”
“He didn’t deserve to be made a slave.”
Jack pulled Daniel closer to him and kissed his forehead, thinking hard.
“Perhaps it will give Sheppard someone to protect? A good cause?” Jack suggested eventually and felt his freedman’s smile against his shoulder. “Perhaps you qualify as a genius too?”
“Yes Master,” Daniel agreed.
End of Prologue
In the next part we meet Rodney and Major Sheppard.
End of Prologue