For emrinalexander, a prison snippet I expanded a bit.
Title: Crimes Against Humanity
Codes: John/Rodney, others
Summary: Atlantis was a neutral colony before it became a prison camp, split between the mainland facilities and the ocean bound city itself for the war criminals and those convicted of crimes against humanity. Alcatraz, he'd heard Sheppard drawl when he arrived in the gateroom, manacled and bruised from a scuffle in the Colorado gate room that ended with four injured Marines. Inescapable, or so they said, but Sheppard's single word reminded him that nothing's inescapable.
Warnings: Please see Warnings cut-tag.
Warnings: (for series) violence, explicit Violence, drug use (not explicit), torture
Atlantis was a neutral colony before it became a prison camp, split between the mainland facilities and the ocean bound city itself for the war criminals and those convicted of crimes against humanity. Alcatraz, he'd heard Sheppard drawl when he arrived in the gateroom, manacled and bruised from a scuffle in the Colorado gate room that ended with four injured Marines. Inescapable, or so they said, but Sheppard's single word reminded him that nothing's inescapable.
They just haven't figured out how to do it yet.
Rodney's restrictions keep him from the computers, unwired rooms, as low-tech as an Ancient facility light years beyond human evolution can possibly manage. Setting his hand against the wall, he feels the hum of energy just out of reach, the flashes of power that pulses into his palm like heat, watching the flicker of the force fields, memorizing the new modulation like he does every day, like there's a damn thing he can do about it.
God fucking dammit, he hates this place.
Looking out of his cell, he watches Sheppard being brought down the hall, accompanied by ten special ops, zats trained on his every movement. Tall and rail-thin, bloodstained prison uniform and messy dark hair, moving like naqada-reinforced manacles at wrists and ankles don't weigh any more than air. The dark head lifts briefly, eyes flicking to study the line of cells that were once living quarters, and for a second, Rodney feels that intense gaze on him.
Just a second, long enough for a pretty quirk of his mouth, and Rodney nods back, introductions done.
The cell across from Rodney is opened, and Rodney's view is blocked as one of the men presses the zat against John's throat, forcing his head higher, stripping away the manacles and pushing him inside. Rodney hears the sound of a body hitting the floor, straining his neck enough to see Sheppard on his feet, moving almost too fast for the eye to see, but they're ready, the forcefield going up instantly.
Rodney winces as John's thrown back with a shower of sparks, hitting the far wall, the sound like a rotten watermelon slamming into the ground.
Atlantean prison guards don't bother with banter with the prisoners--work done, they set the passwords and leave. Grabbing his one chair, Rodney pulls it to the doorway, sitting down to wait for Sheppard to recover consciousness.
It's been a while since he had a neighbor, after all.
Four years ago, Dr. Rodney McKay was the toast of the scientific world, consulted by the Asgard for his work in subatomic particle physics and winner of the Nobel prize twice over. He pioneered the creation and engineering of the first-ever ZPM based bomb and extended his research to learning how to create ZPMs using vacuum energy from their own universe.
Thirteen hours into his first tests, he wiped out a living solar system, leaving blackened asteroids and the extermination of sixteen point three billion lives.
Later, Rodney still thinks his biggest mistake was not killing Dr. Radek Zelenka with the rest of his staff after the failure, as Zelenka's testimony was integral to the prosecution that stripped him of his titles, his accomplishments, and sent him to rot the rest of his life away on the outskirts of the universe, convicted of crimes against humanity before an intergalactic panel.
He's still a little bitter about that.
Sheppard, he learns, was brought in under an intergalactic warrant, crimes unlisted, but Rodney's been around a while, and rumors are as good as fact. There was once a county and now there's a barren wasteland, the levels of radiation so high that it's impossible to survey, burned into dust. There was an Asgard embassy, and now there's rubble. There was a president and now there's a corpse.
And that's just what they *know* about.
Sheppard's quiet, but he's intense, and Rodney watches him pace his cell for two days, running long fingers over the walls and checking the unmoving panels and flat, smooth floor, a thorough study of a twelve by twelve foot cell with a meticulousness Rodney approved of.
On the third day, though, it gets boring. "There's no way out," Rodney says, watching Sheppard do his thirtieth study of the panels by the door.
"How are they powering this?" Sheppard asks, not looking up.
"ZPM," Rodney says, and the bitterness in his voice brings Sheppard's head up, pushing too long hair from his eyes to grin, sudden and bright. Christ.
"Huh." Sheppard drops liquidly to the floor, legs neatly crossed. "Isn't this place supposed to be mind controlled or something?"
Rodney waves a hand. "ATA was deactivated," Rodney says, and Sheppard's eyes flicker. "And it's not like anyone here has the gene to use it anyway." Rodney thinks of Carson, six cells down, writing his theories on the walls of his cell these days, and Rodney might mock, but his own walls aren't any better. Absently, he flexes his hands, looking away from nails bitten to the quick, the crusty line of dried blood at the tip of every finger.
"Huh." Sheppard leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, watching Rodney with bright, curious eyes. "Dr. Rodney McKay, right?"
"Duh." John just grins. "And I suppose you're the one that did the first live test of my ZPM in atmosphere?" And God, what he wouldn't give to have seen it.
John's grin widens. "My reputation precedes me. Nice to know. So the question is, why the hell is someone like you still locked up in here?"
Rodney crosses his arms. "Oh, I don't know--the forcefield may be an issue? Armed guards? The fact I can't so much as look at a touch tone telephone? Any of that penetrate?"
Scratching his chin, Sheppard considers him for a moment, then his eyes snap to the side, leaning forward and craning his neck at the sound of multiple footsteps--definitely more than the four required for any visits to this level. Getting as close to the forcefield as he dares, Rodney sees six grey clad bodies surrounding a tall, slim woman, in prison white, head up. Familiar in that way that their kind are always familiar to each other--and then Rodney's memory puts it together.
"Elizabeth," Sheppard says, softly enough that only Rodney could hear. Elizabeth's eyes stay straight ahead, but Rodney isn't fooled--she notices everything. The cell beside John's is opened and she's pushed inside. Standing straight, she stays in the center of the cell while the forcefield is activated, unmoving and quiet. Only when the guards are gone does she move, coming to the very edge to glance around warily.
Closer up, Rodney can see the dark circles under her eyes, the pallor of too much time spent in a South American prison before extradition. The fragile bones of her collar are in stark relief beneath the thin skin, and her slow movements tell him that her clothes are hiding some less savory results of too much time with guards not acquainted with Geneva convention standards.
He can feel her eyes flick over him, pause, then dart back. "McKay."
Rodney waves. "Got it in one. Nice to see you again, Dr. Weir."
Her mouth quirks in an amused smile before her gaze darts to the side. "And Sheppard, I presume?"
"Presume all you want," Sheppard says expansively, leaning his head on one hand. Anyone else would look silly, Rodney reflects, but not Sheppard. "So I guess your government failed?"
The dark eyes narrow sharply. "And your famed ability to vanish into thin air abandoned you?"
Oh yeah. Rodney sighs, leaning back in his chair. "Yes, yes, yes, we all are here because we didn't get away. And hello? Some of us have been here a couple of *years*, so spare me the self-pity." Flexing his fingers, Rodney watches Sheppard uncoil himself, standing slowly, eyes fixed on the wall separating him from Elizabeth. "I'm glad we've all gotten to know each other. Now if you'll try to be interesting now? That would be nice." Before Carson was moved, at least he'd been subject to fits of psychosis, and watching had pretty much been Rodney's only form of entertainment. This isn't as fun, but at least it promises to break the monotony.
Sheppard relaxes. "You know. You have to wonder." Finding his chair, he drags it to the edge of the forcefield, slumping into it in a way that should, by all rights, be impossible.
"Wonder?" Rodney says sharply, when Sheppard lets it drift. The dark eyes are unfocused, still everywhere. "Wonder *what*?"
"Whose ass is going to go up in a sling when we get out of here." Turning his head, he smiles slowly, all teeth. "You in?"
During trial, Rodney's lawyers hadn't been able to break Zelenka's testimony that Rodney had already been aware of the dangers of his research and that his test in a populated solar system had been both deliberate and with malice aforethought.
There are reasons for this, though the truth is, Zelenka is pretty close to right. Fifteen hours before the first stage of the testing, Major Samantha Carter was touring the fourth planet after formally opening an inquiry into the deaths of ten of Rodney's most recently deceased staff.
So really, when he thinks about it, he just can't see how he's to blame at all.
For a few weeks, Rodney has some questions on Sheppard's sanity.
Socializing with the other prisoners has never been restricted--something the Nox and Asgard had insisted on during their negotiations for alliance with Earth. Group exercise is provided in the wide inner courtyard, under heavy guard. A city-island in the middle of the ocean isn't something any of them are going to voluntarily try to run out of without an active gate. Very rights of prisoners, even the ones you never expect to allow to breathe free again.
Every afternoon, just as the sun passes its zenith, their block is led here, two hours of free time surrounded by forcefields and armed guards before another twenty-two hours in their cells.
Rodney blinks up at the narrow stripe of sky and wonders if he's actually as pasty as he feels. Even Sheppard's tan is fading, pale winter-gold from dark brown, hazel eyes flickering green when they catch the light.
The women come out later. Not that there are many besides Elizabeth and Carson's scary wife.
Sheppard crouches, eyes flickering around the guards, probably looking for weaknesses, but for all Rodney knows, maybe he's noticed their uniforms don't fit.
"Special ops," Sheppard told him once when he asked. "Special conditioning." Sheppard had leaned into the wall, thoughtful. "I read up. They have to pass an intergalactic committee to get an assignment here. Incorruptible."
"Tell me something I don't know," Rodney had snapped.
"The second in command is a junkie," Sheppard had said easily.
"Ford," Rodney says, circling Sheppard. As he passes, he sees Sheppard's gaze meander up, fixing on one of the balconies briefly, then he stands up.
Every time, every guard tenses, and Rodney thinks it just might say something, that a room full of the most notorious scientists and criminals in the Milky Way doesn't freak them out half as much as the slightest twist of Sheppard's smile.
Rodney tries to see what Sheppard saw in Ford. The dark face is still, but now that he's looking, he can see the tension around his mouth, the tight look around his eyes. Rodney remembers his days on amphetamines--there's a look you get when you're going without, and Ford has it, in spades.
When he looks at Sheppard again, Sheppard nods briefly, stretching as he makes a circuit of the perimeter. The other prisoners have avoided him since the first fight three weeks ago.
And for that matter, how long is Bates going to be in the infirmary anyway?
But they avoid Sheppard, and so they avoid Rodney, which Rodney admits he's getting used to. Getting your ass pounded into the floor three times a week gets old, and he worries about concussions. The guards break it up. But Rodney suspects they give it a few minutes for the entertainment value.
Sheppard drops on one of the smooth, bolted metal benches, smiling as Rodney follows him. It's the warmest part of the courtyard, highly prized, and pretty much the demesne of Sheppard alone. No one's bothered since the second fight to even try. "Sumner's watching."
Rodney doesn't bother being subtle, craning his neck to see the red-clad commander on the balcony beside Ford. In all his time here, he's only seen Sumner twice, and always from a distance. Sumner never dirties his hands with his own prisoners if he can help it. "Why?"
Sheppard licks his lips. For the first time since Rodney met him, he looks--nervous. "I used to serve with him."
Sumner's eyes are on them--on John--the entire time. Rodney feels his back begin to crawl at the narrowed focus, laser-intense and utterly unflinching.
"He can't--" Rodney says, but the words stop in his throat. Atlantis is an modern, enlightened, commission-overseen prison, bright and lovely and humane and boring as shit. But that doesn't make it any less a prison.
And they're a very long way from Earth.
After Sheppard is taken from the courtyard, Rodney doesn't see him again for two weeks.
The thing about Elizabeth Weir isn't her work for the Goa'uld, because that was impossible to prove, though Rodney's pretty sure it's accurate. Her bloody coup that united South America into a single force under her command with a serious chance of taking over the planet--again, brilliant and dangerous, but on the scale of criminality for Atlantis, it was pretty standard.
Her deal with the Ori, turning over thirty five Nox and Asgard peacekeepers for interrogation and torture in exchange for their assistance in taking Earth--that had gotten her ass here, a woman who was willing to play the part of god or mystic or diplomat, whatever the situation requires. Her cult's still going strong and petitioning for her release, he's heard. They leave offerings of bodies all over the galaxy.
They don't talk much; Elizabeth is like Sheppard, happy with silence, but she doesn't do anything else either. Rodney's getting envious of Grodin down the hall, where every Thursday Carson has one of his episodes, screams echoing down the hall and the pounding of a body against unyielding metal.
They won't let him look at a computer, touch a wire, life bound by books, a small cell, and two hours beneath the sky every day. Insanity, Rodney thinks, watching Elizabeth sitting cross-legged in her cell for hours on end, has started with a lot less than this.
"Where's Sheppard," she asks the second day. Rodney shrugs, but the truth is, he's beginning to wonder too.
"Sumner," he says, and she opens her eyes.
"Oh." She stretches her legs, studying the force field with a thoughtful expression. Her head cocks slightly, mouth tightening in a thin line. She doesn't say anything else.
Rodney really misses Carson
Sheppard's brought back, pale and pounds lighter, showing signs of flesh regeneration at the small of his back and into the waist of his pants when he changes shirts. He talks even less than he did before, but the restlessness is back, like something's burning him up inside.
They don't hear much from the outside world, but they do hear some things, which is why Rodney's surprised but prepared when half the wing is cleared and Sheppard shoved into his cell when ten Athosians are brought in for temporary storage until the next dial-up to earth. The guards are doubled and suddenly their two hours a day is switched to one.
"Ori," Elizabeth says briefly, looking fond.
Sheppard's even thinner than Rodney thought, fragile bones beneath too-thin skin, and a change of clothes shows exactly why regeneration was required, making Rodney wonder how Sumner explained why a prisoner would need such extensive surgery. Sheppard twitches at the most casual touch and occasionally wakes at night with his hands around Rodney's throat, but he always stops as soon as he comes back to himself, and honestly, this is about the most interesting life's been since Rodney was exiled to the Pegasus galaxy, so he's not complaining too much.
Sheppard's chattier in such close quarters, curling up on the foot of Rodney's bed wrapped in their combined blankets, telling him about the last few years in the Milky Way that he's missed. The Afghanistan ZPM explosion, assassinations, the return of Dr. Jackson from the dead, and the efforts of Jack O'Neill to repair negotiations with the Asgard after John had started destroying their embassies.
"Why did you?" Rodney had asked, and John had grinned, stretching out beside him with a wince when it pulls the tender flesh of his back.
"I was hired to." He shrugs a little, and Rodney watches the dark eyelashes fan over his pale skin and the way his mouth quirks. "Not like the ZPM though." He opens his eyes, eyes shining. "That was a thing of beauty."
Rodney pushes himself up on an elbow and leans closer. "Tell me about the damage again," he breathes, and John begins to whisper casualty and mutation rates, the massive environmental destruction unseen on any planet before, and then he tells Rodney how he worked the equations to calculate the destruction perimeter, how he adapted Rodney's greatest achievement to create something that could have destroyed a world.
Rodney falls in love with the sounds of his voice, the cadence of his speech, and the way his eyes shine when he tells Rodney that one day, they'll test it on Earth, watch from the sky as they destroy the world together.