Summary: Half-way through the celebration feast (there seemed to be one every three planets, now) a group of masked raiders had attacked the village.
Author's notes: set post-inquisition. (with mentions of spoils of war). Thanks to my betas. You know who you are ;)
"Where are Ronon and Teyla?" Rodney asked, clutching at the bars of the cell.
"I don't know."
"You don't think something's happened to them, do you?" Turning to face John, Rodney looked pale and worn in the harsh light from the torches and John's fists clenched.
"I don't know, Rodney," he snapped, and began to pace the floor. Their kidnappers had taken their weapons, Rodney's PDA and their TAC vests. When they'd first arrived through the Stargate, the locals had been polite, welcoming and even friendly. They weren't as primitive as the Team had been used to dealing with, a little more technologically advanced than most, and John had been surprised by the lack of Wraith activity in the area.
Half-way through the celebration feast (there seemed to be one every three planets, now) a group of masked raiders had attacked the village. John had barely had time to reach for his P-90 before he'd been stunned.
He'd woken to find himself in the cell, Rodney unconscious on his left and no sign of Ronon and Teyla. This was their first mission back after the Inquisition and John was sure that Woolsey was going to pull them from Off-world missions if they kept on getting themselves captured and interrogated. Except, there had been no interrogation. Yet.
This was the fourth hour Rodney had asked the same questions and John was tired, angry and trying to come up with a plan.
"They have to feed us," Rodney said, and John realised Rodney wasn't asking as he lowered himself to the only bench in the cell.
A beat, and then John crossed the floor to sit down next to him. "Yeah buddy, they do," he answered, not sure that they did at all.
Half way through the night - a night without food - the door to the cell was flung open, the metal bars flinging off the wall with a loud clang. Two leather-clad guards marched into the room, weapons drawn and a third grabbed the back of Rodney's jacket and hauled him to his feet.
John was already on his and as mindful as he was off the weapons trained on him, he'd be damned if he let them take Rodney without a word. "Let him go," he growled out, stepping up to the guard who had grabbed Rodney.
Dark brown eyes looked back and then disregarded him, pulling Rodney out of the room.
"Hey!" John yelled and surged forward, only stopping when Rodney's eyes widened and he shook his head.
"Rodney," John yelled, but the guards had gotten between them.
"Don't," was the last thing he heard.
John had nothing to do but count down the seconds, minutes, hours until Rodney was returned. He'd yelled, shaken the bars, paced the floor a hundred times and the memory of Rodney's wide eyes and pleads wouldn't let him rest.
The sound off footsteps snapped him out of his reverie and he was on his feet, fists clenched as the door once more flew open. Rodney was pushed into the room, no regard for whether he remained on his feet or not, and the door was pulled closed, with a snick indicated the lock had fallen into place.
Rodney swayed on his feet for a beat and then he dropped to his knees, John's reflexes allowing him time to catch him under the arms and lower him to the floor. "Hey buddy," he said, voice cracking.
"I didn't tell them anything," Rodney said, tiredly.
John's stomach twisted and he looked down at Rodney's closed eyes, bruised face and clenched his teeth. "I know."
The second time they came, John managed to get between Rodney and the guard before they could grab him. "I just want to talk," he said.
This time, the guy stepped back and inclined his head. "Very well," he said, his voice low and hoarse. "Talk."
"You kidnapped us, remember?" John narrowed his eyes. "Where are our team-mates?"
"They have not been harmed," the guy said. John was going to christen him Nigel if he didn't get a name soon.
"Why did you take us from the planet?"
"We are at war with the Rolisien's," Nigel said. "When you arrived on the continent, we knew immediately they would try and form an alliance. We did not wish for that to happen."
John raised an eyebrow. "Kidnapping us is supposed to help? Our people-"
"Your people will negotiate for your release," Nigel said.
"Why take Rodney?" John tilted his chin up, defiant. "You aren't endearing yourself to my people by beating him up."
Nigel looked him in the eye. "No," he agreed. "But we can hardly let an opportunity to learn more about your people pass us by."
"Like hell you can't," John growled and propelled himself forward. It was pointless and stupid but John had spent five days in a cramped cell and he was starting to get annoyed at the lack of communication. The stun, when it came, was no surprise.
Neither was Rodney's yell and consequent scuffle John heard, before he succumbed to the darkness.
"Please," Rodney said and leant forward, pressing his lips to John's, messy and fast.
John didn't know how to say no, not to Rodney and not to himself. Heart pounding in his chest, brain a chorus of no no no, he threaded his fingers into Rodney's hair and kissed back.
When Rodney awoke, he said nothing. He grabbed his share of the food from the plate and sat on the far side of the cell, as far away from John as possible. He didn't get angry, he didn't protest and he didn't look. He just ate, looked down at his hands and made John feel as uncomfortable as possible.
John had nobody to blame but himself and he fought the irrational urge to hit something.
On the twenty-fourth day, John was about ready to climb the walls. Rodney had been taken away fifty-six times and never at the same time. Sometimes they'd turn off the light whilst he was gone and John would be thrown into complete darkness. Sometimes they'd turn them on in the middle of the night, when Rodney was bone tired from the work they'd forced him to do, and John could do nothing but swear under his breath and wrap his fingers around Rodney's writs, the only grounding comfort in the midst of the torture.
John wondered how Teyla and Ronon were faring; if the Rolisien's were subjecting them to the same treatment.
"John," Rodney said, and twisted to the side, face muffled by the wall, "I can't stay here anymore."
"I know," John bit out and his fingers itched, itched for his gun, for a weapon, for a way out."
There was silence again, and then, "I can't do this anymore," Rodney whispered, his tone desperate.
This time when they came, the pulled John and Rodney both out of the cell and into the corridor. Propelled along with a gun at the base of his spine, John catalogued everything as they walked; every sign of an exit, every door, every window.
"IT's no use," the guard said, digging the gun in a little for some twisted pleasure. "You can't escape."
John had heard that too many times and proven them wrong to care. He gritted his teeth and followed the line of Rodney's back out of the corner of his eyes. "Where are you taking us?"
"You'll find out soon enough," was the reply.
They arrived in a large room with just a table and chair set in the middle. John was pushed forward and forced down into the chair, shackled to a metal ring set on the floor and one of the table legs. John's fingers clenched against the chairs arm and he narrowed his eyes. "Where's Rodney?"
"You will discover that in time," the guard said, and stepped back, just to the left of John's shoulder.
"Ah, Colonel Sheppard." A voice boomed into the room and a light flicked on behind a transparent screen. A face looked back at him, haloed in white and he clenched his teeth. Behind the face - the man - was a metal chair with two large claws descending down over a hood. John forced himself not to look.
"How do you know my name?"
A hard laugh and the face smiled. "Your Dr. McKay has been very forthcoming with information."
John's jaw worked. "That's a lie."
There was movement behind the face's shoulder and John could make our Rodney being wrestled into a chair, strong fingers forcing him into the metal contraption.
"What is that? What are you doing to him?"
"All in good time, Colonel," he voice said, smug.
Rodney's eyes were wide and terrified and John's fingers were wet from blood; the pressure of his fingers against the chair. When he got out of here he was going to kill that face - that bastard - and kill him slowly.
The metal claws started to lower and John had an answer, now, for the bruises on Rodney's face.
"Dammit," he shouted, but the face came back.
"Relax, Colonel. I'd hate for you to miss any of the show."
John's brow furrowed in confusion, the what on his tongue. He shut his mouth as the light lowered and Rodney and the face were thrown into darkness. John was left alone with the heavy breathing of the guard and only the feel of the chair beneath him.
Just as he was growing accustomed to the darkness, a light flickered on again and the glass had transformed into a screen, images flicking across the surface in a rush. John blinked and tried to make out what he was seeing, a flash of Teyla, Ronon, Elizabeth and Sam and john and then he realised; these were Rodney's memories.
John twisted in the chair, tried shutting his eyes but the barrage of images sent flickers of shade over his eyelids and he opened them again, swallowing hard.
He didn't want to see this, he didn't, but he couldn't look away, caught on the image from Rodney's point of view, on his knees, watching John fight against the Wraith keeping him from surging forward, and the wrecked look on his face.
God, John thought. Just stop.
"Look," Rodney said, awkward and uncomfortable, "just forget you say anything, alright?"
He couldn't though, could he?
Rodney had bared his soul; the very thing he'd never thought he would ever have to do, and John had taken that from him. An unwitting participant, maybe, but he had taken it. He knew things Rodney had tried to force himself to forget and John had torn that out of him.
"No." Rodney's eyes were hard and closed off. "Leave it," he snapped.
John caught his arm before he could move away. "Rodney, I can't forget what I saw. I can't unlearn anything, but I would never," he cut himself off and Rodney's arm went stiff in his grip.
"Forget it," Rodney said again, and his voice was tight enough, emotive enough that John let it go.
Two days later, there was a low rumble from far off that John recognised. He heard the booms and blasts of weapons fire and roused Rodney, a hand on his shoulder and a soft shove. "Rodney, rescues coming."
Rodney came awake slowly, blinking up at John in silence and then seeming to catch on. He groaned and rolled over and up to his knees. "Rescue?"
John tried to ignore the dark blue, purple and yellow of Rodney's bruises and nodded tightly. "Yeah."
"Great," Rodney groaned. The instant he was on his feet he brushed his hands against his trousers and looked up at John, their discomfort forgotten. "So, what do we do?"
John smiled for the first time in days, but it was tight. "Wait."
"John! Rodney!" Teyla was waiting in the corridor when they broke out of the cell. She had similar bruises on her face and John's heart clenched, the anger building under his skin in a hum. Her eyes ran over Rodney's face and something soft flickered in her gaze. "Rodney," she said, softer.
"It's fine," Rodney said tightly, and he took the proffered P-90 from a Marine.
John took his cue and grabbed another. "Let's get out of here," John said, and silently added a promise to take out as many of the guards as possible.
"Did they explain what they wanted?"
John ran a hand over his eyes, tired. "Information. Isn't that what they always want?"
Woolsey said nothing, just looked at John over the top of his hands. "I'm sorry it took so long to get to you," he said, sincerely.
Lips curling into a self-deprecating smile, John shrugged. "It's bound to happen again," he said.
Rodney came to his quarters that night, hair wet from the shower and sticking up at the back and the yellow paste from Jennifer for his bruises. His hands were wringing in front of him, nervously. "Look, I - I may have been a bit hard back on the planet, but if you weren't so stubborn and annoying I would have been able to let it go. You saw things that I didn't know you were seeing and I-"
John just looked for a minute and then twisted a hand in the fabric of Rodney's shirt and hauled him into his quarters, palming the door shut behind him. "Shut up."
Rodney's eyes were wide, blue and open. "Right, I just wanted you to - I'm sorry you had to see it."
John shook his head. "What they did, that's not," he fought for the right words - for any words, "Don't apologise."
Rodney nodded and they stood, uncomfortable and words apart even for the foot of distance between them. "I shouldn't have," Rodney waved a hand, "you know."
"Rodney," John said. He looked at Rodney's hair, at his face littered with paste-covered bruises and at his hunched shoulders, drawn in on himself.
"Rodney," John repeated, and stepped into his space; fingers curled around the back of his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.