swordage: A man pointing a revolver at his own head in sepia. (x space amish nazis)
[personal profile] swordage
Title:
Series: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: PG-13
Stats: 2080 words in 3 hours, no beta
Summary: I got an icon. [livejournal.com profile] spacehussy got an SGA-only blog. I wrote lots of porn in the comments, which made me want to write more, which made me think of the icon that kinda looks like Sheppard, and there was a story. It involved Genii and horses and a margarita, although the latter was more on the author's part than the characters'.

John and Genii -centric. Ah, crazy Amish Nazis.

***

"We won't kill you, Colonel Sheppard," Ladon smiled, unctuous as ever. "Since the culling, we have had few spare citizens to maintain our front on the surface. You will work as hard as any loyal Genii."

"So what's my motivation?" John drawled, leaning back against his arms to get some slack in the bindings around his wrists. It wasn't that he minded the idea of getting put on the surface, really - less radiation, more sunlight, closer to the Gate - all good things. But it was really suspicious and kinda stupid.

"If you misbehave," and Ladon's smile suggested that was a foregone conclusion, "we will go to another planet and detonate a nuclear device in front of an open wormhole to Atlantis. The blast will travel through your shielding and destroy the control tower."

John tried not to lick his lips. Weakness. "What's to keep you from doing that now?"

"You make an excellent bargaining chip, Colonel. And there are still things the Genii want from Atlantis. It would be a waste to destroy all the wonderful toys you brought with you."

***

"The planting is nearly over," Ferne announced cheerfully, tugging the ropes from John's ankles as his small contingent of guards looked on disapprovingly, "so your arrival is quite fortuitous. We will mostly clean and tend to the animals until the tava spouts, and then we will be busy again. You will have time to settle in before then." She smiled up at him, small and rounded in the right places, and he looked at the clothes laid out for him on the bed. Brown and grey, undyed wool. Simple work clothes for a farmer.

"Thanks," he mumbled, pulling at the tattered hem of his T-shirt, and she blushed and turned away. Her brother glared at him, wordless; she'd called him Kadin when Sheppard had been introduced to the household. He had a possessive arm around his sister's shoulders, so John looked away from him, too.

***

The first day, Kadin handed Sheppard a scythe, waited until he stopped asking questions, and then moved his hands and legs until it swung naturally from his hip. The next day, it was harnessing the horse; the next, brushing the horse; the next, cleaning the horse's stall. Sheppard got the feeling he should stop saying good morning to Ferne if he wanted more pleasant tasks, but actually cleaning the stall and tack was kinda soothing. The leather oil didn't exactly smell like gun oil, and shoveling manure wasn't quite doing push-ups, but.

He kept saying good morning, and Kadin kept him in the barn.

"How was your sleep?" Ferne asked in the morning, bouncing a blond-curled cousin on her knee.

"It was well enough," John answered absently, stirring a tiny bit of jam into his milk. (Berry preserves, technically, and it always made them look at him funny, but it distracted him from how damn good the milk tasted.) "I brought in the first hay yesterday, so it was a sound sleep."

"You're finally losing that strange accent," Ferne pointed out with delight, and that day Kadin brought John to the fields to toil under the sun. It was a long day. He slept well that night, too.

***

The first bite of autumn brought a sudden boil of activity. The harvest came in, the trees were tapped, the moonshine came out of the cellars and the deadwood was chopped. Best of all (to John, anyhow) was the harvest festival, to which half the peoples the Genii traded with were invited. He'd only seen envoys from a distance, Kadin carefully managing his tasks to keep him away, but it was possible - their guard would be down - surely Teyla at least would know the timing - if they would just tell him to stay away from their precious festival, he'd have a chance -

"I hope you'll come, John," Ferne dimpled at him. He took the offered moonshine and silently toasted her brother. Point, and check.

***

The whine of a dart was so alien here it took precious seconds for John to recognize it and drop Gideon's yoke from his own shoulders - Ferne would be inside, hopefully to the cellar between the salt and the butter where the supports were strongest overhead, Kadin in the barn, but little Pallas and Palti, they were out playing in the dust by the old half-rotten tree in Kari's yard. He ran into the barn, startling Gideon into a sharp whinny and a jig in his traces, grabbed a scythe and bolted before Kadin would grab him. There was a wordless shout behind him that he ignored.

He dropped the scythe at the tree, grabbing the children and running as hard as he could for the forest. Palti cried out once before Pallas shushed him, older and wiser in these things; Pallas had seen the last culling. John stumbled through the underbrush just as the whine rose to a creshendo behind him;. He didn't dare look back, just sought deeper cover.

They rested at a small creek when John couldn't hear the dart any longer. The children drank obediently, turned out their pockets for snacks their mothers had given them, sat and waited while John paced and calculated and decided what to do.

He went back. The kids were gonna get hungry again soon.

***

John tried to stay away from the mass funeral. Ferne, draped in formal black from head to toe, grabbed his arm and forced him to the graveside. There was only one body. Kadin looked good as a corpse, John had to admit - very handsome in stiff black and white. Nothing like the living man. There was a dent in the side of his head that didn't lend itself to an open casket, but the Genii were apparently very firm about these things.

"It was an accident," Ferne whispered under the eulogy, her veil hiding the movement of her lips. "Gideon panicked when he heard the Wraith, it couldn't be helped."

"It wasn't because of the Wraith," John started, but the musician drowned out the words. He had to help lower the coffin. It wasn't that much heavier than the hay bales.

***

"It was an accident," John whispered into Ferne's hair in the middle of the night, because it was. He hadn't meant to spook Gideon. She only sobbed harder into his collar, so he went back to meaningless platitudes, staring out the window over her head. The second moon was tiny but yellow on the horizon, bright with late-autumn color. They might get in one more day of fieldwork before the nightly frost made it impossible. The tava left in the ground would have to fertilize the next crop.

"He wasn't meant to die this way," Ferne hissed against his chest, choked and broken. "He should have died for our people, not from a horse-kick to the head."

"Then what way are you to die?" John asked, because it seemed like the thing to say.

"I will die alone and useless," Ferne told him fiercely. "I was never of use below, and I have never been of use on the surface - it was only Kadin that kept me here."

John said nothing, just rocked her until she fell into fitful sleep.

***

He woke to smoke, hot and sharp in his mouth, and tumbled to the floor before he was truly awake. It billowed black against the rafters, dripping tar and wax from the wood, and he wrapped yesterday's shirt around his hand before trying the door. It opened to a white-hot blaze, Ferne coughing in the corner near the raging stove. Her skirt was on fire. She wasn't trying to escape.

He crawled to her, the floor burning his bare chest, and grabbed her wrist. She didn't fight, just went limp - he crouched and slung her over his shoulders, taking a deep stinging breath before hurling himself towards the window.

The neighbors silently took her from him, held a candle close to see the glass in his shoulders and bandaged him by moonlight. He could see why Kadin had never spoken. It made things simpler. The Genii saw what needed to be done and did it.

Someone slung a coat over his shoulders, thick black wool over moon-pale bindings, and he found Ferne huddled in a small circle of tsking women with a rough blanket pulled tight around her. She looked unkempt and greiving. He didn't feel sorry for her.

"I spooked Gideon," John said, voice loud in the night and rough from smoke. He coughed once. "I was running to get the children and I spooked Gideon, and you've destoryed everything he ever gave you."

No one looked at him when he walked away, but no one stopped him. He went into the barn and brushed the horse. It made him feel a little better, so he cleaned the tack too. He fell asleep in a corner of the stall, Gideon snuffling at his hair.

***

The morning discovered Ferne hanging from the rafters of her neighbors' house. The children found her. John was the one left to hold them while the body was taken care of; they didn't seem to need much holding, but they were convinced that he did need it, so he guessed it evened out somewhere. The funeral was quick and quiet, and her casket weighed even less than Kadin's. John stayed to watch the dirt pile on top of it, helped stamp rocks down over it to keep out pests and scavengers, and wandered through the graves until he was alone. Kadin's gun was a thick weight in his pocket, holding his feet to the ground and pushing them down, down, down. The graves were all simple, hurried, unnamed. No one mattered once they were dead. They were just a story.

He brought out the gun. It was a flat grey, matte and dull - that peculiar barrel design half of Pegasus seemed to use. He couldn't tell which barrel the bullet was supposed to come out of, so he spent a minute taking it apart and putting it back together to check. Wouldn't do to miss.

He stayed standing, because it seemed fitting, pulling the stranger's coat until it settled neatly on his shoulders. He'd even shaved for the occassion, eyeing the straight razor in someone else's mirror - his own was smoke-black, shattered in the heat of the fire. He'd borrowed a shirt and pants, even suspenders, and he didn't feel the least bit of guilt about getting blood on them.

He was just settling the gun against his temple, the weight of it sinking his heels into the grave loam, when a small noise behind him made him hesitate. That was a sneaking sound, a child sound.

"Pallas," he said softly, "go away."

"There are people in the woods," Pallas whispered, feet rustling in the dry grass as he came up next to John, tugging at his sleeve. "They're looking for you. I'll show you."

"There can't be anyone looking for me," John said patiently, rubbing the barrel in a little circle to stave off the headache building in his temples. He could still smell smoke. Pallas frowned up at him. "Elizabeth would never risk that."

"They're following me," Pallas said firmly. "We can wait for them here."

"All right." John tucked the gun in his pocket again, sitting down where he stood. "Do you have any cards?"

***

"Oh," Rodney said softly, and John dropped his pair of staves. He swallowed hard against a dry throat.

"What took you so long?" he rasped, because it seemed the right thing to say, but he couldn't bear to look over his shoulder. Pallas stared, though, his gaze high enough to match Ronon's hair.

"Well, you never call, you never write - fuck, Sheppard," Rodney growled, and then they were practically piling on top of him, touching his hair and shoulders and pulling his forehead to meet someone else's, and Teyla's smile was warm honey and Ronon's laugh was bright as Pallas's and Rodney's breath smelled of instant coffee.

"Wait," John gasped, breath rough in the back of his mouth, "I have to - let me," and they stepped back just far enough for him to herd Pallas into one last hug before carefully unloading the gun and pressing it into his little callused hand. Pallas nodded solemnly, tucking it into his waistband; he had to hold it with both hands. He'd grow into it.

"Now," John whispered, and they left.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-10-08 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stereowire.livejournal.com
Oh, John, you and your Issues <3 I liked this. Gideon the horse/kid confused me a bit, but it was good. And I love the mention of the Genii gun barrel because MAN, I DON'T GET IT EITHER. IT'S SO WEIRD LOOKING, HOW DOES IT WORK XD

(no subject)

Date: 2006-10-09 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] empty-geas.livejournal.com
Very, very nice. I like the sense of slow wearing down, in actions and manners if not entirely in thought. The characters are fascinating as are the glimpses of the community you give us. How is it you always manage to drag all my attention into fics I don't even follow the series for?

(no subject)

Date: 2006-10-11 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] empty-geas.livejournal.com
I also am guilty of that, though in my case it tends to only be from writers I really like and trust. *points to you* Case in point. But, I can't say I'ver ever been dissapointed yet.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-10-10 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-spacehuss207.livejournal.com
I really do love this. I'm envious that you wrote it while tipsy :) I should really try writing like that sometime, then maybe I might have some slim hope of matching your skillz.


He brought out the gun. It was a flat grey, matte and dull - that peculiar barrel design half of Pegasus seemed to use. He couldn't tell which barrel the bullet was supposed to come out of, so he spent a minute taking it apart and putting it back together to check. Wouldn't do to miss.

He stayed standing, because it seemed fitting, pulling the stranger's coat until it settled neatly on his shoulders. He'd even shaved for the occassion, eyeing the straight razor in someone else's mirror - his own was smoke-black, shattered in the heat of the fire. He'd borrowed a shirt and pants, even suspenders, and he didn't feel the least bit of guilt about getting blood on them.


I know the visual is based on the icon, but it's still powerful, and fitting and awesome and hi, I love you, have I mentioned it in the past six hours? I love him taking it apart, figuring out how it works--every detail is so efficient, perfect, and John.

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