Title: How Much For the Little Girl?
Author: jenn (email@example.com)
Spoilers: none specific, second season in general
Summary: Rodney's negotiating skills leave something to be desired.
Author Notes: The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: How To Determine If Someone Is a Con Artist. Thanks to cjandre and chopchica, who preread, did a fast and dirty beta, and didn't mock me too much for being, well, lazy. chopchica for the title, or this would never, ever have been finished.
"You did what?"
It's negotiation time, and usually, this would be the time they send John out to "secure the perimeter" or perhaps "take watch", and occasionally, and not very subtly, "find some ruins", which is kind of nice, since pretty much every planet they've ever visited has or requires one of these three things. But.
Ronon and Teyla have the Athosian flu (characterized by green spots and a sudden hatred of sunlight and Scottish accents, and therefore, are confined to the mainland), and that leaves John and Rodney.
Elizabeth had given them the supply list over a bottle of Tylenol and made them swear on the puddle jumper not to trade anything that was covered by Geneva Convention standards. Or Prime Directive standards, for that matter (Rodney's idea).
So, welcome to MarketWorld, where everything, and repeat this twice, everything is open for trade, up to and including people, which Rodney totally hadn't seen coming or he really, really wouldn't have said yes.
Really, really wouldn't have signed anything.
Really, really, really wouldn't have *waved the contract around under John's nose* because, yay, coffee!
Not so great with the trading of John.
John stares at Rodney, and Rodney stares at the two very large men bearing down on them, carrying a collar and what looks like a leash.
"You *sold* me."
Rodney's never seen John turn that color before. He's never seen *anyone* turn that color before. "Traded. And no, I didn't mean to, I--"
Incredibly good coffee, too. Rodney discreetly keeps the kind-of-like-styrofoam coffee cup behind his back, because wow, John's not going to be amused.
"Look, it's a mistake. I'll clear it up. I swear, I was trading *medicine*--"
John stares at him like he's lost his mind. "And him pointing at me? That didn't, maybe, clue you in?"
Okay, this was an honest mistake, could John *get over it*? "The medical bag! I was pointing at that!" The bag that John's holding, because as stated before, John doesn't do negotiations, what with the germ warfare and nuclear stuff, but on the other hand, he hasn't sold anyone into slavery, either.
The two very large men--and it's a universal thing, Rodney realizes, all the oily salesmen have superlarge thugs, no matter what the planet. It's like they breed them all somewhere, sending them out into the universe for employment by unscrupulous businessmen and okay, off track again. "Colonel, I'll--"
"No!" The large men come up on either side of John. It's kind of like watching a terrier with some mastiffs. "No, you get Elizabeth to get me out of this. Don't try--God, you didn't trade the jumper, did you?"
Rodney blinks, then quickly reads through the contract. No, not yet. "No."
"Then *go get Elizabeth*." John shakes off their hands and take a step back, spearing Rodney with a look that one day, promises Rodney will suffer for this in the most creative way possible. "Now."
Elizabeth takes two Tylenol before Rodney's even finished the story, reading over the contract with two fingers rubbing her temples, like her life is so difficult. "I miss when John did the negotiating," Elizabeth says finally, looking up. "At least then, we weren't reinstituting slavery."
That is *so unfair*. "I thought it was for the medicine!" The coffee is still all in the Gate room, under guard, just in case someone gets desperate, though Rodney's not sure if they really *need* to be armed. But still. Coffee. "Elizabeth--"
"All right. Lorne will assemble a team and we'll go--try and get this settled." Standing up, she picks up the contract, eyeing Rodney over the top of it. "Did you read this before you signed it?"
"Yes." No, not really. "I thought it was for the medicine."
Elizabeth nods shortly. "Right." Rolling the contract up, she straightens her shoulders. "This shouldn't take too long."
*three hours later*
Elizabeth takes the Vicodin that Carson gives her and leans back in her chair, staring at the ceiling with wide, unseeing eyes. Rodney does not think the negotiations went well. "It seems we are now short a puddlejumper."
Rodney blinks. "More coffee?"
She nods slowly, looking slightly shell-shocked. "Yes. More coffee."
On the upside, they are up what amounts to being a metric ton of coffee. Lorne's posted armed men around the storage room. Rodney's heard stories of scientists rioting in the halls.
On the downside, they're short one Lieutenant Colonel and a puddlejumper.
"Did you see John, at least?" Because Rodney's now remembering a snippet of conversation between Ford and John regarding John's status as the most successful prankster at the Air Force Academy.
Elizabeth nods, glancing down the length of the conference room table. "Yes. He's fine." Her mouth flattens. "He's wondering if we'd like to just go ahead and sell Atlantis, instead of doing it in pieces." Resting an elbow on the table, she glances around the room. "Ideas, gentlemen?"
Rodney thinks of all the ways he's going to need a nightlight to go to bed in the near future, because when John gets back, he's probably *never sleeping again*. "We could try to trade again." Everyone looks at him. "Look, logically, perhaps I might have, maybe, made a mistake during trading. But *Elizabeth* does it professionally. The diplomatic thing, I mean. Therefore, we have to assume that the trader is, to put in it in the common parlance, conning us somehow."
Nods all around. Some wistful looks out the door, toward the storage room, where the only source of known caffeine in the Pegasus galaxy resides. To the Stargate, where the person most likely to eventually get his freedom and come back to *kill them all* if they leave him for coffee will appear one day, probably with the lost puddlejumper and calling himself Spartacus, due to madness contracted during his stint as a slave. Back to the coffee. The Stargate. The coffee. The Stargate.
Rodney's seen John *shoot*. "I have an idea."
The oily little salesman is thrilled to see them again, ushering Rodney and Elizabeth into the tent. Shooing them onto cushions, he takes a seat across the table from them, smiling with so many teeth Rodney's tempted to count them. "What can I swind--I mean, do for you today? More coffee?"
"We want to discuss John, the man we--sold to you."
The oily little man looks at them thoughtfully. "You mean Spartacus, my trusty manservant?"
Rodney closes his eyes. "Spartacus?"
The oily man shrugs. "He said it was appropriate."
Dear God, John is going to *kill them*. "We want him back," Rodney says, and ignores the way that Elizabeth's nails cut through his pants. He can't quite ignore, however, the slap across the back of his head, and really, he doesn't get paid enough for this kind of abuse.
The oily little man lights up like some indecent Christmas tree. Rodney thinks he can see the Pegasus galaxy equivalent of dollar signs in his beady eyes. "You wish to trade?"
Wow, that can only end badly. "May we speak to him first?" Elizabeth inserts quickly, before they can accidentally sell off Atlantis for more coffee. "If that's allowed?"
The oily man shrugs. "He is free to speak to who he pleases. I will send him in. Then, we trade?" He looks very, very happy. Rodney doesn't think he's ever seen anyone look that happy.
After he's gone, Elizabeth turns to him. "Rodney. Don't try to negotiate."
"Because you did so well on your own?"
Well, from that look, he's going to be hiding out in the distant parts of Atlantis for a while. The conversation is interrupted by the curtains swinging open, and John--Spartacus, God, Rodney *remembers* that movie, and it, too, did not end well--drops into the cushion across from them.
"Sell off Atlantis yet?" John asks, leaning one elbow into the table, and wow, he could *at least* show a little relief that they came back for him and didn't simply indulge in a metric ton of the finest coffee in the galaxy. Possibly the only coffee in the galaxy.
He looks okay, the clothes having a definite Bedouin-sheik thing going on. It's not unattractive.
"John," Elizabeth begins.
"And the puddlejumper addition is great. Let me tell you how much fun they are having *disassembling it*." John's voice breaks on the last word, eyes flickering down and toward the back of the tent, like the pain far too great for mere words.
Elizabeth's hands fist on the table. "John. This isn't helping."
John gives them a dark look. "They took my shoes. I am enslaved to a guy who smells like *garlic*. And his wife keeps--doing things."
Rodney's never seen John blush before. "Things? What things does she want you to do?"
"Inappropriate to the dignity of a military officer, and also, his wife is a 'he'."
John will draw out their deaths. Maybe for *days*. It might involve garlic. "We need to know how to beat him."
John pulls up a knee. "He's utterly brilliant, and utterly ruthless. He's killed more men than I can count. Or so everyone says." John looks away again, resting his chin on his knees. "We don't have much time. When his wife comes back--" John swallows hard, eyes flickering away. "You have got to get me out of this."
Rodney can imagine it; poor John, forced to strip down to perfect golden skin, stretched out on big soft cushions, perhaps a great deal like these cushions, maybe his hands bound behind him--or *over his head*, pleading with them not to--not to….
*Way* off track, there.
Elizabeth leans across the table, hand on John's shoulder. Even from here, Rodney can see how it's shaking, and his stomach twists. God, *John*. "Tell us, John."
John rubs his face against his knee and finally looks up, mouth tight. "You have to do *exactly what I say.*"
*two hours later*
Rodney takes a deep breath. He can do this. "Elizabeth?"
From the balcony, she nods slowly, and Rodney picks up John's laptop, swinging it over his shoulder. He can do this. He can *so do this*.
"All right," Lorne says, coming up beside Rodney, P-90 in hand. "The plan is, we leave you in the clearing and you get the Colonel out. When we see your puddlejumper, we get back through the gate as quickly as possible." His eyebrows draw together sharply, looking at the laptop over Rodney's back. "But--why--"
Well, hell if Rodney knows. "He said he had to have it for this to work." God alone knows how it will--who the hell would think *Rodney* could sneak into a camp at night, composed entirely of evil oily men smelling of garlic? On the other hand, this is a very delicate--thing. And definitely none of the Marines would understand the necessity. "Radio silence, all that?"
Lorne nods seriously, doing something macho and annoying with his gun. "All right. Let's move out."
There are a completely impossible number of tiny, breakable twigs spread between the tents, and even with the goggles, Rodney's still stumbling over tent stakes and into canvas. But luckily, he's *very good* at covering for himself, dropping flat whenever a curious head peers out into the dark.
The tent, of course, is in the *very center* of the mass, but luckily, it's easy enough to spot. Rodney watches the doorflap carefully, cleverly using his trip over the stake to pull it open and tumble inside, the quicker to get in and not be seen.
Pulling himself from his almost-but-not-quite-a-crouch, Rodney studies the dark room, centering on the bundle of cloth on some extremely soft looking cushions. The cloth shifts, and John's head peers out. "Rodney?"
"Here, Colonel." Oh, *remember*, indoor voice. Rodney carefully crawls the space between them, looking carefully left and right, because you just can't be too careful. "Colonel? Are you okay?"
John blinks at him for a second, then pushes off the covers. "So you're going to do this?" He sounds--kind of choked, Rodney thinks sympathetically, and reaches out, resting a hand on one shaking shoulder, trying to impart comfort.
"Of course I will." Swinging the laptop down, Rodney sits back on his heels. "Okay. So. You said that, they value--"
"Purity," John says slowly, still staring at him. "It's very important. To them. Rodney. Have you really thought about this? Because I don’t want to--"
"No, I'm good. Get on your back."
John twists out of the rug-thing, and Rodney carefully doesn't look at the boxer shorts or the long legs, or maybe he should, since he's just about to save John's life by taking that pesky virginity off his hands. He's a good friend. Possibly the best friend ever. "Um, Rodney--"
"It's okay. I've done this before."
Wow, that's a new look. "You have."
Rodney starts unfastening his uniform jacket. "Just relax." John doesn't look relaxed, which is a problem, but Rodney can understand *completely*. Coming up on his knees, he carefully--and gently, he's going to try to make this as untraumatizing as possible, it's not like John's done this before--pushes him back onto the cushions. "Relax. Seriously. You're going to cramp something." Rodney unlaces the throat of John's shirt.
Unaccountably, John tries to push him *away*. "Rodney, listen. There's something you should know before we get to the deflowering thing, okay?"
"I get it. I mean, it's the same as with women, just kind of different, but you'll see, nothing scary here." John opens his mouth again--probably to argue, like Rodney doesn't know John's *life* is in the balance here, and Rodney braces himself on John's shoulders, leans down, and kisses him.
He will admit that, just maybe, a few fantasies started out like this, though the tent and Bedouin thing never made the top ten. Puddlejumper always made the top five--all that post-fight adrenaline and fighting for their lives, it would be *totally understandable* if he jumped John one day after a stressful raid on the Wraith. Also fun, post-infirmary sex, or perhaps even more fun, lab sex, where Rodney's two favorite things in the world--science and sex--can happen in the same place. This? Not top ten. But top twenty, easy.
A few long seconds pass, where John acts like he's never even been kissed before, and now, come think, is the whole virginity very *literal*, because Rodney thought he meant just *men*, but--wow. A part of him wants to ask, but then John's tongue brushes against his mouth, and well, talking? Highly overrated. Very, very highly overrated.
When he pulls away, John blinks his eyes open slowly, and, Rodney thinks smugly, a little surprised. He doesn't fight this time when Rodney unfastens the shirt, even sits up when Rodney tugs at him--really, John *could be* more helpful here, but Rodney tries to make allowances for surprise.
The entire clothes thing should probably be handled now, while John's still calm, Rodney thinks, and pulls down the boxers, and yes, John looks *good* naked on very nice cushions. But then again, John's the kind that looks good pretty much *anywhere*. "Okay, do you want an explanation first? So you'll know what's coming up?"
John's mouth shuts with a click, hazel eyes widening suddenly. "No. Rodney--" He pushes himself up, looking frantically toward the door. "You--I need to explain something."
Rodney pushes him back down. "Look, I *get it*, okay? So don't worry. This will be quick." Well, that sounds--not very good, actually. "But still satisfactory. Promise. If you'll just--"
"Rodney, you really, really don't have to do th--Jesus Christ." And that's a look that Rodney will keep for the repertoire, John's eyes wide, mouth soft, cock hard in his hand and wow, John's almost *shaking*.
Rodney kisses him again, and finally, John gets with the program, long fingers sliding around the back of Rodney's neck, the other going to the front of his uniform pants, cupping him through the thick material--not perfect, but pretty good, all things considered. *Really* good, actually, when John's hand unzips and John's fingers are wrapped around his cock, God, yes, he's a quick learner, really, and Rodney moves from his mouth to his throat, silky skin, the faint taste of salt and some kind of spice, *definitely* not garlic, and John's making the hottest sounds.
And that's a different voice. Rodney jerks up, turning his head enough to see the tent flap open and the oily man staring at them. And *well before* the purity has been breached.
"Manny." Okay, what? Rodney turns to see John sit up, grabbing for his boxers with one hand and leaning across Rodney for the laptop. "Yeah, just--um, has it been an hour already?"
Manny grins, and he really does smell like garlic, Rodney thinks, as John stands up, one hand rubbing absently at the back of his neck. "It has, yes. You have it?"
"Here you go." Rodney watches as John hands over the laptop, then steps back, carefully not looking at Rodney. "So the jumper?"
"Outside the camp." Clutching the laptop, Manny grins. "I will contact you when I need--batteries, you say?"
"Yes." John's back is very, very straight.
"It was good doing business with you, Colonel. Please, feel free to stay until morning." With a wide smile, he lets the tent flap close.
John doesn't turn around for a while. Rodney thinks that's a very good idea. A better idea would be if John started running *right now*. Which it looks like he just might do.
"Okay, thought. You didn't actually need anyone to, and I quote, 'deflower you'." Rodney wonders if he could get away with killing John and claiming it was an accident.
John turns around, slowly. "Not really, no."
Mm hmm. "And this was--"
"Okay, I need to explain. I was kind of pissed you traded me for coffee."
He's bringing *that up*? "You *tricked me*?"
"I was *angry*, okay? And then Elizabeth lost the puddlejumper, and God knows when Teyla will be back, so I kind of--negotiated it out."
The bastard *shrugs*. "Apparently, they haven't developed a lot of visual porn. So. My laptop for myself and the puddlejumper. You'll notice how I didn't sell *anyone else*."
Oh, that's just *low*. "You tried to *sexually coerce* me--"
"Yes, I noticed how unenthusiastic you were there." John's eyes flicker down, reminding Rodney of two key points; one, his pants are undone, and two, anger has never, ever really been a turn-off. Also? John's still mostly-naked. "And I didn't think you'd actually *do it*. I mean, you were supposed to come here and then, you know--"
John throws up his hands, like *Rodney* is the one being unreasonable here. "How was I supposed to know you'd actually *want to*?"
"You--" There aren't even *words*. "You--you *lured* me here just to--and I said it was an *accident*! It could happen to anyone!" Though probably not someone who read the contract, but John doesn't know that.
John sighs, coming back over and dropping on the cushions, and how depressing is it that he still looks good? "I'm sorry. I really didn't--think you'd go through with it. And I was going to tell you, but you kind of--distracted me."
"Distracted you." Oh. Rodney involuntarily glances down, then back up. "*Oh*."
Now he pulls out the wide eyed look, a lot like the one in the tent earlier when he was telling Elizabeth and Rodney very seriously how he needed to be deflowered immediately or the horror would know no bounds. "So um. Yeah. So, considering everything--you selling me for coffee, and the fact we're keeping the coffee, hey, notice how we are *keeping our only supply of coffee in the known galaxy*, this could be considered, you know, even. Right?"
Rodney considers this--deep, bitter betrayal, comfortable cushions, mostly naked John. "You know, I don't think so." Before John can do something incredibly stupid, like, say *anything*, Rodney leans forward, and John's mouth is warm and responds immediately, letting Rodney push him back on the cushions again, *stretching* even, and God, that's hot, John on those cushions really *is* the hottest thing, definitely top four material. Maybe even top two. "But. You could make it up to me."
John grins, sudden and bright, and the boxers are a crumpled heap on the floor. "I can do that."