vain_glorious (vain_glorious) wrote,
vain_glorious
vain_glorious

SGA_fic: Home Style Burn, Gen, R, SG-1 x-over Part 1

Title: Home Style Burn 1/2
Author:vain_glorious
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis/Stargate: SG-1
Summary: The IOA calls Team Sheppard in for a little chitchat on Earth, where it is completely safe and they have no enemies. Right.
Rating: R for violence and language.
Word Count: ~ 12,000. In 2 parts due to length, not flow.
Warnings: Torture, violence
Disclaimer: Not Mine
Author's Note: Set in early season 5 - spoilers for 5X01. Feedback is delicious.

It began almost, sort of like a vacation. Ronon and Teyla had never been to Earth for reasons other than their own interviews with the IOA and Ronon had been there for other uniquely shitty events like Sheppard’s father’s funeral with a side of replicator fun and when Jeannie Miller got kidnapped. This time, there wasn’t anything explicitly dreadful on the agenda for Ronon or Teyla. Only Sheppard and McKay had been called before the IOA.

The trip home on the Daedalus wasn’t too bad. Teyla was already regretting not bringing Torrin, talked a lot about how much she missed him. She had good reasons for leaving him behind with his father, though if it was bothering her this soon it was going to be a long month. But she was considering it an opportunity to teach Kanaan how to get their son to sleep without her help.  Ronon was a little unsettled. Probably mostly because he didn’t seem to believe that there was anything good about Earth and assumed there was something bad on the horizon that they just didn’t know about yet.

Unfortunately, Rodney was agreeing with him. He wouldn’t stop pointing out that when the IOA had called Samantha Carter before them for an evaluation, it’d ended with her losing her job.

The thought had crossed Sheppard’s mind. But he’d got an assurance from Richard Woolsey prior to departure that it was mostly because the IOA hadn’t seen Sheppard or McKay personally in a while and wanted the opportunity to be small-minded bureaucratic deskjockey civilian douchebags to their faces.

Possibly Woolsey hadn’t phrased it that way.

Sheppard believed Woolsey. The man had no reason to lie and he’d volunteered the information that even if the IOA wanted to, they really didn’t have anyone to replace Rodney with, anyway. Sheppard also figured that if the IOA intended on doing anything unpleasant to him personally, they wouldn’t have permitted him to bring the two Pegasus aliens everyone knew obeyed Sheppard first and the IOA maybe along with him.

So, really, it wasn’t looking to be that bad.

McKay’s paranoia about being fired, coupled with the fact that he was still pissed off at the IOA for ending his ability to see the light of his life – Colonel Carter – everyday meant he was accumulating a good amount of self-righteous indignation. It was annoying, now, but Sheppard was also counting on it making Rodney’s evaluation such an experience that the IOA wouldn’t want to see either of them in person again for quite some time.

~

Things went a little unexpected once Daedalus reached Earth. Sheppard thought they’d be beaming directly into DC for the interviews. That would have been the sensible thing to do, anyway.

Instead, Sheppard and his team were beamed into the SGC.

General Hank Landry told them not to get comfortable; Sheppard’s team would be joining SG-1 on a flight to DC.

“Flight?” asked Sheppard, confused.

“Not on the Daedalus?” asked Teyla.

“SG-1?” echoed Rodney, and looked around hopefully.

“They have an appointment with the IOA as well,” Landry said. He looked amused for some reason.

Sheppard didn’t understand why the Daedalus hadn’t just beamed them on board. He pointed up with his index finger.  “Why not?” he asked.

Landry shrugged. He was still grinning like the Cheshire cat. “IOA’s prerogative, colonel.”

“What’s going on?” asked Ronon, already suspicious.

“We get to take a plane to DC,” Sheppard said. He would explain exactly how stupid that was when they were outside the general’s presence.

“An X-302?” Teyla asked.

“No,” Sheppard said. “Bigger than that. And slower. Way slower. And boring.” A thought occurred to him and he glanced at Ronon.  “Chartered or military,” he said to Landry. “Right?”

Landry nodded.

“Good,” Sheppard said. “Airport security would not go so well.”

“Otherwise he,”- Rodney jerked a thumb at Ronon-“would end up in Gitmo.”

“What’s Gitmo?” Ronon asked. He was looking at Sheppard with the your-planet-is-so-stupid expression on his face.

“You don’t need to worry about it,” Sheppard said.

Landry continued to look amused. “Your flight leaves in about an hour. There are drivers at the exit to take you to the airport.” He glanced at his watch. “As soon as SG-1 gets here.”

SG-1 showed up shortly after that. Well, SG-1 minus Teal’c. The jaffa wasn’t there. Neither was Vala Mal Doran. Sam Carter greeted them, smiling, and seemed fairly placid. She even hugged Rodney, which would only encourage him. But Cameron Mitchell and Daniel Jackson were both pulling petulant, pissed off faces.

“Hey,” Sheppard said, curious what the story behind that was.

“Hey,” Cameron said. “How’s it going?” He didn’t look particularly interested in an answer, and he was almost overtly scowling at Landry.

“Hi,” Jackson said, without paying much attention. “Why on earth are we taking a plane?” he asked Landry.

He didn’t get an answer, because that’s when Vala Mal Doran arrived. She was carrying a giant powder blue suitcase, the hard plastic kind Sheppard hadn’t seen since the ‘70s. And she threw it into Jackson’s arms so hard he actually made an ‘umph’ sound.

“I’m here!” she announced.

The next thing happened so quickly Sheppard wasn’t entirely sure it made sense. One second she was standing opposite him with her arms crossed. “Hello,” she said, in sweet and kind of scary way. “I didn’t know you were coming.” And then she had one arm snaked across his back and jumped into him. His arms came up out of instinct, half to protect himself. But Vala settled into them, snuggling against his chest, with her other hand sneaking towards the waistband of his pants. “I love a man in uniform.”

Sheppard had changed into his dress blues. Sometimes it paid to look like you were trying. Other times it got you sexually assaulted by SG-1’s resident crazy alien chick.

Ronon rumbled in amusement. Teyla’s eyes were huge, but she also looked like she thought it was funny. Rodney wasn’t even watching, focusing on Carter.

“Get off,” Sheppard growled, dropping his arms and removing the hand playing with his belt. Nothing happened except Vala’s arm locked like steel around his neck and the other hand came up to hold herself curled against his torso. She was actually really fucking strong.

“Oh, leave him alone.” Mitchell was unhooking her hands and pulling her away.

Sheppard shook himself free, glared at her.

“Sorry,” Mitchell said. He was still holding Vala by the arm, shoving her towards Jackson.

For some reason, Jackson leaned in toward Vala and earnestly whispered: “Go for it.” Sheppard glared at him, too, but Vala now decided to sidle up to Jackson.

Landry didn’t even seem to have noticed. “You all should get going,” he said, clapping his hands. “You’re going to miss your plane.”

Fortunately, he didn’t accompany them to the Mountain’s exit, enabling some more candid conversation.

“Where’s Teal’c?” Ronon asked Carter.

“He didn’t have to come,” Carter said. She looked jealous.

“The IOA is afraid of him,” Mitchell supplied.

“They are not,” said Jackson. “They just know it wasn’t his fault since he wasn’t there.”

Mitchell looked at him. “Wasn’t my fault, either.”

“What’d you guys do?” Rodney demanded.

Nothing!” In stereo from everyone except Vala, who waited until her companions were done. “Absolutely,” she added, grinning.

“It have anything to do with why we have to take a plane for six hours instead of using the gigantic advanced space ship beaming technology that would get us there in milliseconds?” Rodney snapped.

“Six hour flight’s probably ten times cheaper than the Daedalus doing anything for half a second,” Jackson pointed out.

Apparently, he wanted to start a mathematical fight between Carter and McKay over the relative cost of the Daedalus’ operations in orbits versus a chartered government jet flying across the country, because that’s exactly what he did.

“This is going to be a really, really long flight,” Mitchell said, miserably, when Rodney started with the air equations

“It’s to make you suffer, isn’t it?” Sheppard whispered.

Mitchell dipped his head, then whirled to yell at Jackson because the man was nicking his heels with Vala’s giant suitcase.

~

There were three SUVs at the Mountain’s entrance. More than enough to fit eight people, even if one of them was ridiculously tall. Sheppard was planning on getting into the rear of the first one he saw and grabbing the least annoying person and putting them next to him, but he wasn’t the only one plotting.  Carter pretty much literally dived into the middle SUV’s open backseat, somehow managing to pull Teyla in after her. Rodney tried to climb in after them and immediately got shoved back out.

“Don’t make Teyla sit bitch,” Carter snapped. Rodney made a face and opened the door to shotgun.

“What is ‘sit bitch’?” Sheppard heard Teyla ask curiously, before the doors slammed.

Sheppard climbed into the first SUV’s backseat. He could hear a commotion outside, looked up to see Daniel Jackson in the front passenger seat, slamming the door in Vala’s face. He hit the lock-all button on the door and a mechanical click rang out in the vehicle.

Vala pounded on the window, yelling.

Daniel turned to face the driver. “You can go,” he said, mildly. “Now would be good.”

The driver glanced at him, shrugged, and started the engine. Sheppard appreciated not having Vala in the back with him, suspecting she’d probably be insinuating herself onto his lap in the first thirty seconds. But then he realized that left Ronon with her.

He felt sort of bad, but decided that Mitchell could probably corral her. And maybe Ronon wouldn’t mind the sexy yet crazy lady sitting on his lap. Or maybe Vala had finer judgment than that. Sheppard turned around and gave a wave at his teammate. Ronon was standing outside the last SUV, looking not all that happy.

Traffic was shitty. Or maybe it seemed that way because it’d been ages since Sheppard had actually had to be in any. They lost track of the other two SUVs pretty quickly. It was vaguely worrisome, but Sheppard decided Ronon wouldn’t try to jump out of a moving vehicle at 75 mph or throw anyone else out. Hopefully.

“What’d SG-1 do?” Sheppard asked Jackson, to take his mind off that image.

Jackson was slouched down in the front seat, arms crossed over his chest. “Nothing,” he said, grouchily.

Before Sheppard could persist, there was a loud and metallic clank from the front of the vehicle.

“What’s that?” Jackson asked the driver.

The sound happened again, louder. And then again and again, each time faster and louder.

“Pull over,” Sheppard ordered.

“Yes, sir,” said the driver.

But he didn’t pull over, he took the next exit ramp and steered the SUV on to the grass.

“You might miss the plane,” the driver said, frowning.

“That would be very tragic,” Jackson said, sarcastically. “Should I get out? Is this thing going to explode?”

“It’s a car,” Sheppard said, understanding that Jackson had probably been around far too many alien things that actually would explode in circumstances like these.

Jackson got out of the car, anyway, even though he had nothing to add when Sheppard and the driver popped the hood to look inside.

“What is it?” he asked, standing next to Sheppard. He was looking at the engine, too, but Sheppard figured this might be the first time he’d ever looked inside a car.

“Looks fine,” the driver said, helplessly. Sheppard didn’t see anything wrong, either.

“That was a bad noise,” Jackson pointed out.

Sheppard glared at him, even though he was right. He’d have used more sophisticated language, but they probably shouldn’t get back in 80 mile per hour traffic.

“Call the SGC,” he instructed the driver, pulling the hood shut and latching it. Sheppard dropped his weight on the bumper and glanced at Jackson. “Bad noise,” he repeated.

Their driver produced a cell phone and walked a few meters away from the vehicle to make the call.

Jackson made a little face and leaned against the other side of the car. “Picked the wrong car,” he muttered.

Sheppard said nothing.

“Or,” Jackson continued. “Should’ve brought Vala. She could probably fix it.”

“What?”

Jackson flicked his gaze off the roadway and landed it on Sheppard’s face. “Innate ability to steal,” he said. “Includes freaky automotive skills.”

“No thanks,” Sheppard muttered.

Jackson still looked pensive, but he nodded. “Trade off,” he said.

The driver came walking back from where he’d stepped aside. “Call’s not going through,” he said, waving the cell phone. “Must be a dead zone.”

“This is our lucky day,” Jackson said.

Sheppard stayed silent but he thought a couple obscenities.

“I’ll try mine,” Jackson continued, fishing around inside his jacket. “Hmm.” He looked confused and switched hands. “Uh-oh.”

“What?” asked Sheppard.

“I can’t find my cell,” Jackson muttered. He patted his pockets, frowning.

“Did you pack it?” Sheppard suggested.

“No.” Jackson shook his head. “Vala probably swiped it.”

Sheppard squinted at him. “Why?”

He was beginning to understand the astounding amount of trouble SG-1 managed to get into.

“She likes to –”

“Steal?” interrupted Sheppard.

“Yeah,” Jackson said, like that was a given. Which it probably was. “And she recently discovered 1-900 numbers.” He shrugged, far to blasé about this. “Try yours.”

“Try my what?”

Jackson blinked at him like he was an idiot. “Your cell.”

“I don’t –“ Sheppard growled. “They haven’t built any networks in Pegasus yet,” he said, scowling.

Comprehension dawned on Jackson’s face. “Oh,” he said. He leaned harder against the SUV, making it dip under his weight.

“Sirs?” Their driver looked nervous and upset. He was probably going to get in trouble for this.

Sheppard gave him a wave of his hand. “Not your fault,” he said. “Nothing we can do.” He shrugged. “Gonna miss the plane.”

“Oh, I think Mitchell will hold it for us,” Jackson disagreed.

“That’s considerate,” Sheppard said, sarcastically.

Jackson paid no attention to the insincerity. “No,” he said, quickly. “It’s totally vengeance.”

As he spoke, a black van pulled on to the exit ramp that had been empty since their own SUV stopped.

“We could wave them down,” Sheppard suggested to Jackson, though he made no attempt to move.  Jackson didn’t move either, but the van was pulling over and rolling to a stop, anyway.

Sheppard was watching the vehicle, and watching Jackson peering curiously at it as the doors opened and the driver and three passengers got out. He was paying no attention at all to their own driver.

He heard the man move, footsteps suddenly loud and fast against the grass. Sheppard turned his head toward the sound, mostly out of instinct.

In the next second, Sheppard was flattened against the hood of the SUV, the man’s hands locked around his neck and his shoulder. It was a quick but totally artless attack; Sheppard bent one leg up and caught the driver in the gut with his leg. The man gasped and staggered backwards, but not before something pinched and stung Sheppard’s neck right under his chin.

The SUV bounced as Jackson jumped off the hood. “Hey,” he said, warily. “What’s going on?”

Sheppard sat up, rubbed at his neck gingerly. “I don’t know what the hell," he answered, eyes on the driver.

The man was on his knees a meter or so in front of the car, where he’d staggered backwards from Sheppard’s kick. He had one hand on his abdomen, the other braced in the ground. More suspiciously, he was neither attacking again nor fleeing.

Sheppard glanced at the van, at the four men now approaching. He rubbed at his neck again, suddenly feeling an icy, medicinal sensation filling his veins.

“He injected me with something,” he mumbled to Jackson.

Jackson took a half step towards Sheppard, eyes darting back and forth between their downed driver and the new arrivals.

“You should run,” Sheppard said, but it didn’t come out very clearly. He could feel himself falling backwards, couldn’t do anything to stop it until his back smacked into  the hood and he slid forward. A giant, invisible weight pressed down on Sheppard, knocking him off the vehicle entirely and dropping him into the grass. “Run,” he said again, to Jackson. “Run!”

He saw Jackson start to move, blur into motion. Then it was time to shut his eyes because the world was blurring, too, and it was too hard to look at. He was still conscious, though, aware of the hard, cold ground and the rubber tire next to his body. It was there, just sort of distant and increasingly covered by a chemical artifice.

The next thing Sheppard knew, he was being grabbed and hauled off the ground. At first, he thought it was Jackson making a really stupid decision and trying to take Sheppard with him.

“I said, go!” Sheppard slurred, hearing it come out totally incomprehensible. For good measure, he tried to shove at the guy and get loose.

It didn’t work, and Jackson thumped him so hard in the side of the head Sheppard almost blacked out. When the throbbing halted long enough that Sheppard’s sluggish brain could think again, he realized that it wasn’t Jackson who was touching him.

Sheppard tried to open his eyes, abruptly frightened that the blackness wasn’t going away because they weren’t closed, he just couldn’t see. But finally his lids rose and the brightness of the world flooded in, blindingly. The part that wasn’t bright was the barrel of a gun, though, level with his face. In the next second, it was pressed into his forehead so hard Sheppard yelped in protest and squeezed his eyes shut again.

There was a guy holding him up, not even needing to pin his arms down since Sheppard was too loopy to even remember he had limbs. With his free hand, Sheppard’s captor had that lovely gun he’d seen and was now feeling.

“Doctor!” The guy was yelling right next to Sheppard’s ear. It was deafening and when he shrank away from the noise, the arm holding him up squeezed so tightly it made him almost puke. “Doctor!” again.

“We will shoot him!” Someone else whose mouth wasn’t against Sheppard’s head was also yelling. “You come out!”

“Doctor! We kill him!”

All of them had accents, sort of like Zelenka’s, except Sheppard had never heard Zelenka threaten to kill anyone. Except McKay, and he was usually kidding about that.  

Jackson shouldn’t come out. He should be running like hell away from here. Sheppard wished he could provide any kind of resistance and occupy the bad guys while Jackson ran, but he couldn’t even move. The gun against his face felt huge, the guy holding on to him was impossibly solid. He didn’t even want to open his eyes again because it seemed way harder than ever before.

The men kept yelling, but now it sounded more like instructions than threats. Sheppard used all his remaining energy to lift one eyelid. He saw Jackson stepping out of the woods on the other side of the off ramp. He must have fled across the road. But he was coming back, arms raised in surrender. And two of the guys from the van were converging on him as he approached.

The gun against Sheppard’s head suddenly vanished, as did the arm holding him up. The support gone, he felt himself crumple to a heap on the grass. His vision spiraled and then everything was black.

~

Sheppard woke up cold, half-naked, and with a bitch of a hangover. Before he even opened his eyes, he assessed that the even colder things around his wrists were handcuffs and the stinging pain in his upper arm was probably the incision where the subcutaneous tracker had been removed.

All of those things really sucked.

But the handcuffs weren’t nearly as tight as they could have been and his arms were definitely not behind his back, both of which were comparatively nicer things.

He hadn’t moved or made a sound, careful to keep all signs of his return to consciousness hidden. Carefully, Sheppard cracked one eye to take in his surroundings. His secrecy was pointless; he was in a small, dimly lit windowless room alone except for Daniel Jackson. And a bucket in the corner.

Jackson looked to be in the same condition, naked down to his boxers and with a bloody bandage slapped across his bicep. For good measure, the archaeologist also had a split, bloodied lip. He was sitting against the wall opposite Sheppard, hands cuffed together in front of his body. Jackson appeared to be glaring at the door on the far wall, as if it would open to his gaze.  

“Hey,” Sheppard said, hearing his voice sound hoarse. He struggled to sit up from the floor.

Jackson turned his head back towards Sheppard.

“Oh, hey,” he said, scooting on his knees until he was closer. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Sheppard cleared his throat. “It was just a tranquilizer, I think. You okay?”

Jackson shrugged, nodded.

“What I’d miss?”

“I ran away and they threatened to shoot you in the face,” Jackson said, pleasantly. “So I came back.”

“Shouldn’t have,” Sheppard said, which made Jackson roll his eyes. Sitting up was achievable, if a little harder than usual. Having a hangover like this without any of the fun of drinking yourself into a stupor sucked. “Then what?”

“There was some face-punching for running away,” Jackson related, hands coming up to poke at his busted lip. “Then some getting thrown in the van and sat on for hack and slash surgery.” He looked at his arm. “I didn’t get any anesthesia for that.”

“Sorry,” Sheppard muttered, not sympathetic. He looked around the room, ascertaining a second time that they were totally alone. There weren’t even any cameras, at least not visible ones. “How long was the drive?”

“I don’t know,” Jackson said. “It felt like a while. But – being sat on by a fat stinky guy – it was hard to tell.”

“Great,” Sheppard said.

“I think they shot our driver,” Jackson said next, soberly. “I heard a gunshot.”

“The guy who knocked me out,” Sheppard said.

“Yeah.”

Sheppard didn’t have any sympathy for that asshole, either.

“They say anything?” Sheppard asked. He thought it was probably time to get up and announce that he was awake to their captors. But standing might result in swaying, so maybe he should wait a bit.

“Threats,” Jackson said. “Going to kill us both if we don’t cooperate. That kind of thing.”

“Great.”

Sheppard did like that Jackson was remarkably passé about the whole thing. He knew the man was somewhat used to this kind of thing, but that didn’t rule out becoming a screaming, crying mess about it.

“Know where we are?” he asked. The concrete, unpainted walls mostly just looked like a basement.

“Fingers over my eyes,” Jackson replied. “Kind of in my eyes.”

“Seen anyone else?” Sheppard wasn’t talking about the thugs; he wanted to know if anyone from SG-1 or his own team was here.

“No,” Jackson said. He paused. “It’d…take a lot of organization to break down three separate SUVs, make sure it happened when the vehicles were far apart in empty areas, and have enough henchmen to capture seven people.”

“Yeah,” Sheppard agreed. Especially when Ronon was one of those seven people.

“Even if they went down as easy as you did,” Jackson went on.

“They tranqed me,” Sheppard retorted.

Jackson raised his bound hands. “It was an observation, not a criticism.” Sheppard glared, anyway. “Outside of that part, this doesn’t seem like a particularly sophisticated operation. More like “Comrad smash,” was the extent of their plan.”

“Comrad?” Jackson shrugged. “We’ve been abducted by Russians?”

“Russian Empire, more likely.”

“What?” Sheppard wasn’t following.

“Their accents definitely aren’t from Moscow,” Jackson said, like it made a difference. “I don’t think they share a nationality – the Russian in the van was pretty rough.”

“Okay,” Sheppard said. “What does that tell us?”

Jackson shrugged again. “My Russian isn’t fantastic.” He looked insulted when Sheppard glared at him some more. “I could ask them to let us go?”

“They say anything helpful during the ride over?” Sheppard tried.

“Not really,” Jackson said. “They were obnoxiously proud of capturing us. It was kind of annoying, actually.”

Sheppard grunted.

There was a lot annoying about this situation. At the moment, the fact that they’d taken his pants was at the top of the list. It was cold in their little prison.

“My balls are retracting into my body,” he shared.

Jackson nodded. “Mine, too,” he said. “But it might be safer there.”

~

Eventually, they got a meal.

Sheppard wasn’t sure how long it’d been since he woke up. It was hard to measure time, other than the fact that he wasn’t feeling as doped up anymore. Also, Jackson talked a lot and Sheppard kept phasing out. It was sort of annoying. Kind of like McKay’s lack of an off button, except that McKay would at least have been discussing escape options – however viable – and Jackson was just kind of babbling about where in the Russian Empire he thought these thugs were from and what that could mean. 

The door opened and a large McDonald’s bag and a jug of water were thrown through. Then the door slammed. It happened so fast Sheppard didn’t even have time to get to his feet and make an ill-advised escape attempt. Instead, he got up and retrieved the bags and the water and sat back down, closer to Jackson.

“Lunch,” he said.

Jackson made a face. “At least they’re watering us,” he said, taking the jug from Sheppard’s hand and struggling to position his cuffs so he could hold it while unscrewing the lid.

“This operation’s looking more sophisticated all the time,” Sheppard muttered, opening the fast food bag and peering inside. “Two burgers,” he told Jackson.

“That’s our bathroom, right?” Jackson asked, tilting his head towards the bucket in the corner.

Sheppard nodded. “Yep.”

Jackson made a face, then lifted the water jug and upended it over his face. Guy was probably thirsty from talking so much, Sheppard figured, somewhat resentfully. Water sloshed down Jackson’s neck and dripped across his chest.

“Don’t waste it,” Sheppard said. “We might not get anymore.”

Jackson put the jug down, wiped his mouth. “We have a toilet,” he said. “Probably not going to kill us right off the bat through dehydration.”

“That’s not the point,” Sheppard snapped. He handed Jackson a burger. “Here.”

Jackson opened the wrapper, took a sniff. “I haven’t eaten one of these in years,” he said, making a face.

“I miss these,” Sheppard said, his mouth already full. “A lot.”

For some reason, Jackson was kind of looking at him funny. “You can have mine,” he offered.

“Eat it,” Sheppard ordered. “Be glad they’re feeding us.”

Jackson actually rolled his eyes. “Yeah,” he said. “We should keep our strength up for the torture.”

~

The torture didn’t happen until several hours after the burgers. Jackson was finally growing tired of talking – that or actually progressively discouraged by the grunts of varying volume he was getting in return.

Nothing had happened since lunch. Their kidnappers hadn’t even returned to take the trash. If they were even around; the place was silent. Sheppard had poked all around their prison. The walls were concrete and the door was metal and thick.  When he pressed his ear against it, he heard nothing. There was nothing to do. The ceiling was too high to get to the old flickering fluorescent light fixture and Sheppard wasn’t sure what he’d do with it even if he could reach it.

It was boring. Boring and cold.

Unfortunately, it turned out Sheppard couldn’t have picked two worse adjectives. Because their captors came back and it suddenly became both much less boring and much less cold.

It was only two guys. But they moved quickly and with purpose, and Sheppard’s limbs were too chilled and stiff from sitting in one position for a few hours to react fast enough to accomplish any kind of resistance. He wasn’t sure if Jackson tried to fight back, but if he did it was over in a few seconds, too.

Thug number one had Jackson in a headlock with one arm, the other hand wielding some kind of long stick that Sheppard immediately identified as a weapon. Thug number two wasn’t even armed, which was kind of insulting. Unfortunately, he rectified this by punching Sheppard in the stomach so hard it almost made him puke. The next thing he knew, the guy was shoving him into the concrete wall, one arm so tight around his throat it was next to impossible to breath. Thug number two’s other hand was on the top of his head, actually pulling his hair like they were ten year old girls. Sheppard would have told him so, except he really couldn’t speak at the moment.

Thug number two switched from hair-pulling to slapping in the next second, which wasn’t any more fun or manly, for that matter. Then the arm came off from around Sheppard’s throat, the thug grabbed him by the shoulders with both hands, and hurled him against the metal door.

Sheppard hit it hip first – that fucking hurt – then bounced off and landed on the floor. Instinctually, he curled into a ball and wrapped his arms around his head in case kicking was on the agenda.

But nothing happened. Thug number two didn’t immediately come after him. From behind his own arms, Sheppard could hear Jackson trying to talk. Thug number one’s forearm across his windpipe was inhibiting but not silencing him.

“Can we talk about this?” Jackson wheezed, then switched over and said something in Russian. Sheppard presumed it was the same thing. Then, Jackson gagged because the thug holding him had started squeezing.

“Sheppard,” snapped the guy doing the beating. “Play nice and no hurt.”

Cautiously, Sheppard lowered his arms from his face. Thug number one had a really thick accent and not the greatest grasp on the English language. Jackson was right, it wasn’t quite Russian.

“I was playing nice,” he said softly, reasonably.

Slowly, in case the guy hadn’t gotten all the violence out of his system, Sheppard unfurled himself and sat up. There was really absolutely nothing he could do while the partner was choking Jackson. It was probably best not to show that he was paying that situation much attention.

“Okay,” he said, rubbing his side where he’d impacted the door. “You know who I am. Do you have a name?”

“No!” yelled thug number two.

Sheppard glanced over at him, noting that maybe he was in charge here.

“No!” echoed thug number one.

“I’m going to call you Boris, then,” Sheppard muttered, maybe too low for either of them to here. “And your friend Ivan.”

He kind of expected to get slugged for that, but instead Boris reached into his jacket. Sheppard flinched; he wasn’t expecting to get shot for it.

Jackson tried to say something but it came out as a high-pitched gurgle.

It wasn’t a gun. Boris was holding something chunky and square-shaped. He leaned over and placed it very gently one the floor next to Sheppard. Then, he stepped back and out of reach.

“You make work,” Boris ordered. “Now.”

Sheppard looked down at the object. He recognized the origin immediately. Ancient. It looked like a piece of a dismantled Ancient component – the part that usually plugged into a power source of some kind.

“Where’d you get this?” he asked, keeping his voice friendly. The situation really didn’t need to get any more intense.

“Make work!” Boris said. He looked hesitantly at Ivan. 

“I don’t know what it is,” Sheppard lied.

“You make work,” Boris  repeated. “With blood.”

“Blood?” Sheppard echoed, playing dumb.

“You make work.” Ivan had decided it was his turn to contribute. “Or I hurt Dr. McKay.”

“McKay?” Sheppard demanded.

But then Jackson cried out. Not quite in pain, more like in surprise. The arm around his neck was gone, wrapped over his chest and pinning his bound hands from rising. Ivan had jabbed him with the stick.

“Wait a second,” Sheppard yelled.

Ivan moved the hand holding the stick – stick with a red glowing tip, now – and brought it behind Jackson’s back.

Jackson screamed again and jerked forward in Ivan’s grasp. This time it was more pain than surprise.

“I thought you were going to hurt McKay,” Jackson managed to get out, even though he was gasping and wiggling futilely in Ivan’s hold.

In response, Ivan’s arm moved again. Although Sheppard couldn’t see it landing, the red hot tip must have touched Jackson skin again. This time, Jackson’s cry was behind tightly clenched teeth and he again tried to violently jerk free.

“Stop it,” Sheppard ordered. He rocked on his knees as if to get up and Boris took a warning step forward.

“You make work!” Boris repeated, loudly.

Sheppard didn’t even try. It was just a component to a larger device. He was certain they couldn’t do anything with it – unless they had the rest of components. Which – shit – he couldn’t discount.

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Sheppard said, evenly.

It was hard, because Ivan had moved the stick – what the fuck was that thing? It didn’t look Ancient or even all that extraterrestrial. Maybe a cattle prod – and was bringing it against Jackson’s flesh again. He switched to Jackson’s chest, probably so Sheppard could actually see the swollen red welt the touch immediately produced.

To his credit, Jackson was trying not to scream. He had his jaw clenched so tightly it twisted up his face. His eyes were squeezed shut, but tears were beginning to involuntarily leak through.

“Stop it!” Sheppard tried again. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re hurting him for no reason!”

“You make work,” Boris retorted.

That was when  Ivan decided to hold the end flat against Jackson’s belly, leaving it there instead of jerking it back after just one touch.

Jackson screamed, this time. He twisted and struggled in Ivan’s arms, unable to get free or get away from the instrument. The indistinct sound died in his throat, turned into a garbled plea to stop.

Sheppard picked up the Ancient square. He expected it to light up in his palm. It didn’t.

“It doesn’t work,” Sheppard yelled. “It’s broken!”

Boris looked confused. He glanced at Ivan for direction, finally causing Ivan to lift the stick from Jackson’s skin. Jackson gasped in relief, sagged in Ivan’s arms. He let out a staggering breath, raised his eyes to look at Sheppard. Jackson didn’t say anything, though. He didn’t even try to communicate anything with his face, unless he wanted Sheppard to know that he was terrified and had no expectation that Sheppard would make it stop.

“You lie,” Ivan said. He moved the stick back towards Jackson, aiming at his face this time.

Jackson flinched violently in place and started struggling again. “No!”

“I’m not lying!” Sheppard said, loudly and clearly. He turned the component over between his bound hands. “It’s broken. It doesn’t work by itself. Do you have any more? Any more of it?”

Now, both Boris and Ivan looked confused. Ivan, at least, dropped his hand so the tip of the cattle prod-like thing was away from Jackson’s face. Sheppard wasn’t sure if it was because they didn’t understand his words or if they didn’t know what to do in response to them.

Finally, Boris stepped forward and carefully took the square from Sheppard’s hands. He said something very short to Ivan, who retorted in clearly displeased Russian. But Ivan let go of Jackson – shoving him violently towards Sheppard. Jackson staggered forward and fell to the floor. Sheppard moved towards him, uncaring that the door opened while Ivan and Boris exited.

Jackson collapsed on the floor, bound hands underneath his body. He was breathing heavily and sort of moaning.

Sheppard crawled to his side, eyes traveling over the red, marked plane of his back. Hesitant to touch him, Sheppard put the fingertips of one hand the top of Jackson’s shoulder.

“You okay?” he asked, even though it was a totally stupid question.

“Ow,” Jackson replied. He heaved another breath and tried to pull himself into a sitting position. Sheppard helped, gingerly avoiding the flaming red circles that speckled his back. “That really fucking hurt,” Jackson said, unnecessarily, when he was in a sitting position.

“Yeah,” Sheppard said. He peered at the red wounds on Jackson’s chest. The last one was the largest and angrily blistered. “Sorry.”

Jackson shook his head. He folded his hands towards himself, tried to poke at the edges of the largest burn, like that would somehow help. “You shouldn’t have,” was all he said. “Denial was the way to go.”

“Don’t touch it,” Sheppard said, shoving the man’s cuffed hands away. “Infection.”

That made Jackson give a raspy laugh. “Right,” he said. “That’s my biggest concern.” He looked Sheppard in the eyes. “They’re going to come back,” he said, pointedly.

“It doesn’t work,” Sheppard said, sitting back on his own knees.

“What is it?” Jackson asked.

Sheppard glanced at the door. Even though he didn’t think they were being monitored, he leaned in to Jackson and whispered the answer in his ear. “Power element for a toaster.”

Jackson jerked away. “Toaster?” he said. “I just got tortured for a toaster?”

“Shh,” Sheppard muttered.  “Part of one. It doesn’t work.”

“They might not believe you,” Jackson said. His shoulders heaved in disbelief. “A toaster?” Sheppard decided if that distracted him from being pissed off and terrified, he should go with it.

“Yeah,” he said. “Wherever the fuck they got it.”

“Toaster,” was all Jackson said. He was shaking his head and wiping at his eyes.

They got a reprieve for all of ten minutes. Then Boris and Ivan came back.

~

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Part 2



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