Jan. 2nd, 2011 06:10 pm
kisahawklin: John is Not. Happy. (SGA: john determined)
[personal profile] kisahawklin posting in [community profile] prospectus
So, I started roughly ten stories for [livejournal.com profile] sga_santa, but this is the first, and I really, really liked it. But for the entire two months I was writing it, I couldn't get it to work out the way I wanted. I talked it through with [personal profile] soleta at one point, and it got so dark that it was a bit off-putting. Between that and the fact that once I talked it out I wasn't particularly interested anymore, what I'm putting up here is the opening to a fic I liked a whole lot for about two months, but need to let the hell go.

The Golshoks are messing with them. Even Rodney can tell – granted, it's because of that look on Sheppard's face, the one that says "I know you’re being jerks, but we're going to play nice because I don't think you're stupid enough to hurt us" – but it's still obvious. Even Teyla seems not-entirely pleased with this particular ritual.

"We must know you are willing to negotiate, to give us items of value," the leader says. He's huge, shorter than Ronon but easily twice as muscular, with long hair that someone butchered at the hairdresser’s and a ridiculously chiseled face. Rodney almost feels like saying, "This you can trust," but Sheppard's the only one who would get the Conan joke, and it wouldn't be worth whatever he'd have to pay to make it up to them in negotiations later.

"This is the Temple of Sacrifice," Kanir tells them as he pushes open the door. Rodney checks his team but none of them bat an eye at the worrisome name. He glances inside and sees the blue-grey metal that signals Ancient architecture everywhere. He can feel himself physically relax, his shoulders lowering as he blows out a breath. If it's built by the Ancients, Sheppard'll be able to manipulate it.

"All right," Rodney says, clapping his hands together. "Let's get this over with. I'm ready to get down to the feast."

"No weapons," a frighteningly beautiful woman says. She reminds him of Grace Jones, lean and dangerous, and seals the Conan references into his brain forever. Rodney looks at Sheppard; not that he wants deadly weapons in a room that could do anything from rearrange their DNA to give them cooties, but he doesn't really like the idea of handing over their weapons to the iffy Highlander rejects.

Sheppard glances at Ronon. Ronon shrugs. "Fine," Sheppard says, handing over his P90 and reaching for his thigh holster, "we'll collect them on the other side."

Rodney looks at the chamber again and realizes the room has a door on the other side, standing wide open. Maybe they just have to cross the room, or do it in an Indiana Jones-esque pattern or something. He hands over his M9 to the Grace Jones lookalike and heads to the door. Sheppard's hand on his shoulder holds him back.

"Ronon first, buddy," Sheppard says, and Rodney's fear quotient goes from zero to sixty in half a second flat. This isn't as harmless as it seems; Sheppard's worried about what's going to happen in there, and the fact that Teyla goes second only makes Rodney's anxiety jump another couple notches.

"I'm right behind you," Sheppard says, and means it, jeez, his voice is right in Rodney's ear, his breath tickling Rodney's neck. "Go slow."

Rodney follows Teyla carefully, stepping exactly where she steps just to be safe, and Sheppard is close enough on his back that Rodney wonders if he's worried about an attack from behind and he's planning on being Rodney's personal shield.

Ronon goes to the left just inside the door, and Teyla moves to the right. There's nowhere else to go but in, so Rodney takes a careful step, looking at the floor for letters or mosaic patterns or anything out of the ordinary.

As soon as Sheppard is inside the chamber, both doors slam shut at once, and they are sealed in darkness. Rodney can't help the squeal that comes out of him. "On!" he yells, blinking and waving his hand in front of his face. "On, on, on!"

Someone grabs his arm, and thank god Teyla says, "Calm down, Rodney," because he would have done some major flailing and possibly some damage.

"Colonel," Teyla says, her thumb rubbing over Rodney's wrist soothingly. "Perhaps you can -"

She breaks off in a shriek, her hand abruptly gone from his arm, and Rodney throws himself after her in the darkness. "Teyla!"

He stumbles over something, falling ass over teakettle, and his knees hit something soft.

The lights suddenly come on, and he can see Teyla underneath him, bright red blood staining her BDUs around her crotch and thighs. "Oh, god, Teyla! Sheppard, help me!"

He glances back at Sheppard, and sees Ronon instead, on his knees, the tendons on his neck straining as something wracks his body, tremors making him shake. He looks like he's being fed on by a Wraith. He looks frailer and frailer by the second and finally falls over, face down on the floor, his dreads in an eerie corona around him.

Now it's just him and Sheppard, and the adrenaline has kicked in hard. Rodney’s head feels like it's in a vise.

He has to get to get them out of here. His eyes travel to the door, trying to see if there's a panel there he can break into. Nothing on the door they came in, and as his eyes sweep the room they pass over Sheppard, still as a statue, his eyes as dark as Rodney's ever seen them, staring, expressionless, at Rodney.

That's when he feels it, a slithering in his brain. A snakeline oozing of something looking for him, for his...

"Sheppard?" he whispers, because Sheppard is freaking him out, and he knows that whatever is doing this to him is doing something to Sheppard too; he just can't figure out what.

He sees the bits of knowledge as they slip away, equations sliding before his eyes like they're being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner. He can feel himself losing IQ points, and it hits him, even as he's becoming dumber – and that's something he never wanted to go through again – they're taking what they think is most valuable. Ronon's strength, Rodney's intelligence, Teyla's... child-bearing? That confuses him briefly before he glances back up at a weirdly still Sheppard and wonders what the hell is most valuable about him. He has a fair amount of intelligence and strength, and there's leadership and strategy, and... what is the room trying to pull out of him?

Rodney can feel the thing in his brain trying to wrap itself around his problem-solving, like it wants him to stop thinking about Sheppard. He latches on to that, and gets off the floor, lurching his way over to where Sheppard is doing his Easter Island statue impression.

"Sheppard," he says, snapping his fingers in front of him. "Sheppard, come on, fight it. Whatever it wants, fight it. We have to get out of here, we have to get help for Ronon and Teyla."

Sheppard raises his hand slowly, and Rodney says, "Yes! Come on!" His head is really starting to hurt. It feels like his brain is in a pressure cooker.

Sheppard sets his hand on Rodney's shoulder and squeezes, and Rodney starts to move away, toward the door. "Let's see what–"

Sheppard's grip gets stronger and Rodney stops in his tracks. "Come on, Sheppard," Rodney says, yanking his shoulder forward out of Sheppard's grip, "let's get out of here."

"Rodney," Sheppard says, his voice eerily flat. "You have to let it take what it wants."

"No," Rodney says, and the pressure building inside his head is getting more intense. He shoves it to the side and makes a run for the far door, but Sheppard catches him in two steps. He grabs Rodney's arms, and Rodney yelps as he feels his knee give out at a kick from Sheppard's steel-toed boots. He falls, ungainly, landing on his knees with Sheppard holding his arms behind him.

"If you fight it, you'll die."

He can't help it; he looks over his shoulder at Teyla covered in blood and Ronon withered and sprawled on the floor. The pressure inside his head is excruciating, it feels like his head is going to explode.

"I'd rather die," he says, and Sheppard's hands tighten on his biceps.

"No," he says, yanking on Rodney's arms painfully. "McKay, you give it what it wants. I'm ordering you."

"No!" Rodney yells, struggling against Sheppard's brutal grip. "No! I can't do it again, I won't. I'd rather be dead!"

He can feel the shift in Sheppard's grip as he hunkers down next to Rodney, his breath in Rodney's ear.

"Rodney," he says quietly. "I order you to let it take what it wants. You will survive. Do you understand me?"

"John," Rodney chokes out, his head ready to explode and his arms sore under Sheppard's bruising grip. "Please. I want to die." The pain is too much, he knows he's crying now, he can't help it. "I can't live like that, don't make me."

"Meredith Rodney McKay," Sheppard says, his voice cold and sharp, "You let that thing take what it wants, right now." He punctuates his statement with a squeeze of Rodney's arms on the already bruised skin and muscles. "Let it go," Sheppard says, menacing.

Rodney does let go, lets the slithering thing into his brain, watches all his knowledge pass out of him like a tidal wave of information. He starts shaking and would fall on his face if Sheppard wasn't holding him back by his arms. Unconsciousness comes and he gladly lets Sheppard take his weight as his eyes slide closed.


Rodney wakes to the sound of gunfire. His cheek is resting on the cool, smooth floor and his arms protest as he pushes himself up to look around. He's alone in the room. Both doors are standing open, and another burst of gunfire goes off as he's trying to figure out if he's stupid or not.

He remembers gunfire, so the room can't have taken everything. As he climbs to his feet and lurches toward the door, he can see Ronon, gun in hand, but he isn't the one firing. He looks shaken, but he's alive and not shriveled so Rodney could kiss him for that. He's staring at something out of Rodney's view.

Rodney forces himself toward the door. If Ronon is all right, then maybe Teyla is too, and this was all some elaborate hallucination and he's not stupid. He rounds the corner to see Sheppard gunning down ranks of their warriors.

"Sheppard!" he yells, knowing there's no way for Sheppard to hear him over the gunfire, but unable to stop himself. "Sheppard!"

He limps past Teyla, holding a pair of branches in her hands like bantos. She's surveying the damage with a cold eye. There's a ring of unconscious men and women at her feet, groaning and rolling around but not bloody, so that's a minor relief.

He makes sure to come up on Sheppard within his peripheral vision, so he doesn't get shot in the rampage. He keeps his arms raised for good measure. "Sheppard!" he shouts, his voice raw from the screaming.

Sheppard turns to look over his shoulder at Rodney. "Go back to Teyla and Ronon," Sheppard snaps, turning around to fire on a couple of guys who thought to take advantage of his distraction.

"Sheppard, stop. Let's just go home."

Sheppard turns his head, giving Rodney a quick once over, and trains his P90 on the villagers hiding behind carts and fences. "We'll be going now," he says, loud enough for everyone to hear in the sudden absence of gunfire. "Anyone that tries to stop us will be killed. Is that clear?"

Sheppard backs away, and Rodney guides him, making sure he doesn't trip over anything or anyone. "Time to blow this pop stand," Sheppard says. Rodney doesn't realize he means it literally until he hears the explosion behind them and turns to see the chamber billowing flame and black smoke.
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