March 31, 2005

Disclaimer: almost no calories! So, John Sheppard falls through a quantum mirror and ends up in a universe where Rodney and Ronon are warlords. And hey, they like him. Do not archive without permission.

The market value of a slightly used colonel

John was kneeling in the mud and he couldn't see very much,with his neck bent and his hands tied to the wooden beam across his shoulders. He could hear, though, and what he heard was the last thing he'd expected.

"—yes, we'll get more pava fruit, we'll have it delivered, and package it in baskets, not those extremely stupid crates, you do realize half of your last delivery went bad? Do I have to do everything around here?"

He knew that voice. He heard that voice every day on the other side of the mirror.

"No," another voice answered, slow and amused. "You just think you do. Is that the good bread?"

That voice, too. John tried to twist around and got a clout on the head for his troubles. For a little while, all he heard was the regular market sounds, and a lot of different voices, but no familiar ones. Chickens squawked, and he could smell some kind of fruit and something sharp that might be cheese. He'd almost convinced himself that he'd imagined the whole thing, when he heard it again.

"Oh, look at that." The voice was very close now. John tried to straighten his back a little more.


They walked up and stopped right in front of him, and John could only stare. Oh, Ronon looked like Ronon, pretty much; his beard was a little different, his boots were a little different, but he was his usual armed and leather-wearing self, though he was eating a chunk of bread and looking relaxed and pleased with the world. Rodney, now — Rodney was dressed pretty much like Ronon was, down to the sword and all the other weapons. And the leather. He was broader, dense and heavy with muscle; he had a fighter's lumpy knuckles; his face was thinner and a bit more lined, with a scar across the jaw. His eyes seemed almost more blue, bright and cheerful.

"That's pretty," he said approvingly, and John realized suddenly that Rodney was staring right at him. "It's been a while since we had a pet."

Ronon made a noncommittal sound. "Isn't he a bit old?" He tilted his head, squinting in the sunlight as he considered John. "Looks good, though. I guess we could give him a try."

John opened his mouth, but he couldn't think of a single thing to say.

"All right, we'll take him." Rodney snapped his fingers and pointed imperiously. "Have him delivered. Not in a basket."

* * *

It was Elizabeth, in a dark red long-sleeved dress and an unbleached apron with large pockets. She smiled warmly at him. "I'm the semnia of this house," she said. "Welcome."

John smiled back, because it was Elizabeth, and he'd always gotten along well with her. "Thanks," he said. "Uh, could you tell me—"

She held up a hand, silencing him, and then held out a pile of cloth to him. "You will put these clothes on," she said.

It didn't look like a whole lot of clothing, and John was quite comfortable in his BDUs. He eyed her thoughtfully. "I don't think so."

"No?" She sounded very calm. She had a lovely smile. Then she put two fingers in her mouth and whistled, and the five soldiers who had been playing at throwing a ball outside came in, giving her sloppy, cheerful salutes.

"What can we do for you, semnia?" one of them asked.

She smiled up at him, the same lovely smile, and gestured at John. "Undress this one, if you please, and put his new clothes on him."

"Hey," John said, taking a step back, and then the first one who turned to him had Ford's clear, innocent eyes and happy smile, and he was distracted for a moment, and a moment was all it took. They were good, for all they looked so aimless and playful, and he didn't think he more than bruised a couple of them. They grabbed him and started to strip him, all of them grinning and being oddly gentle about it, although their fingers went places that made him try to elbow them some more, but they were clearly more used to stripping recalcitrant prisoners than he was used to being stripped. One of them was a woman, which he hadn't noticed before. John started to worry about what else he hadn't noticed.

"Now, now, mind your hands," Elizabeth said, laughter in her voice. "Ronon won't like it if you put your grubby paws all over his new pet."

"Ronon won't mind," one of the bolder guys said, pinching John's thigh.

"And Rodney will skin you alive," she said, still just as calm. The man yanked his hand away as though John's leg were on fire.

"There, all done," Ford said, patting John's shoulder. John grimaced. He was wearing some kind of sleeveless tunic of a soft but heavy cloth, loosely belted and not quite down to his knees, and leggings that laced up the back and ended at the tops of his thighs. The whole thing felt decidedly drafty, and he was barefoot. The kitchen tiles were cool against his toes.

"Thank you. That is much better." Elizabeth's voice was warm with approval. She came towards John with a clay mug in her hands; steam rose, almost invisible against her apron and the pale insides of her arms. "Now drink this, please." John scowled. "Drink this. Or they will hold your nose and pour it down your throat, and I don't think you'd enjoy that at all."

John took the mug and took a tiny sip. Elizabeth arched her eyebrow at him. He sighed and drank the whole thing down, barely any taste to it, like plain hot water with something faintly sweet and something faintly bitter in. "Happy now?" he drawled.

"I'm not the one who'll be happy," Elizabeth said, her voice almost prim although her eyes were not. She smiled and nodded at the soldiers, and they grinned back at her and went outside again, scuffling a little, laughing.

From where he stood, John could see parts of the yard through the open door, sunshine on the hard packed dirt and on the paving stones closest to the house. It looked hot. He could almost feel it on his skin, and reached up to tug at the neck of his tunic. Heat travelled along his spine, down his arms and legs, licked at his belly.

He looked at Elizabeth. "You drugged me," he said.

She arched one elegant brow at him. "Yes," she said patiently. "And now I'll escort you to the bedroom."

* * *

John Sheppard, helpless plaything

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