Part: 1 - A Cunning Plan
Disclaimer: If it were mine, there would be no Keller.
Warnings: Angst, Established Relationship, Humor
Summary: The plan was foolproof, or wasn't it?.
Wordcount: ~2500 (part 1)
Beta: koryou and zannabq you are the best *huggs*
"To my greatest regret, I can not grant you that, friend Sheppard." The high priestess Arya bowed her head apologetically.
Rodney's face went from hopeful to annoyed. "You are kidding us, aren't you? We need to get into that place. Do you know what these readings could mean? This is so typical..."
Before Rodney could get any more flustered, John put a warning hand on his arm and flashed his most charming smile towards Arya. "What friend McKay is trying to say is that we believe that the House of Marguessan is an old outpost of the Ancients, and that we most probably will find vital technology there. Technology that might help us in the fight against the Wraith."
The red-headed leader of the people of P4X-742 nodded again. "I know, friend Sheppard. And please believe me when I am saying that I and my people want to help our friends from Atlantis in every way. Your people have proven to be valuable trading partners, our community will benefit greatly from this partnership. But the House of Marguessan is the most Holy Ground. The access is limited even for my people; only the priestess may enter it for indefinite time. Everybody else is only allowed in the temple when they partake in one of the sanctified ceremonies."
Rodney muttered something unpleasant under his breath; John kicked him under the table before their more than generous host could hear his complaints about backwater hocus pocus believers. John didn't think that that would help them in their task whatsoever. "Arya, you said it yourself, the partnership between our people could be beneficial for both sides. Is there really no way around this rule? We don't mean any harm or disrespect, and I think it would also be in the interest of your great Marguessan if we find something to defeat the Wraith." John put some extra layers of charm in his smile; it could never hurt to have the natives to like you. A concept Rodney had never grasped, despite his self proclaimed status as the most intelligent man in two galaxies.
"Yes, I was prepared to bend the rules a bit and to at least show you the insides of the temple. But friend McKay told me that he would need several days to examine everything. And as I said, a stay this long on the holy ground is only granted for the priestess of Marguessan and for those who attend the ceremonies. This rule is unshakeable."
Rodney became even more flustered when he realized that there had been a chance for them to go into the temple, but that he had blown it with his usual babbling. Before his most probably outrageous comment to this revelation could leave his lips, John kicked him again. Really, he'd become quite good at stopping Rodney from insulting the locals. Not that Rodney appreciated his help one bit. But John knew a very good way to make Rodney's annoyance go away later. "Is there really no way to bend this rule too?" John asked sincerely. He just hoped that his charm would help with their task at hand.
Arya blushed a bit. "I really would like to help you, but the rules..." The priestess made a short pause. "Wait, there might be a way. I have to consult with the elders first, but I'm quite confident we can find a solution."
"What?" McKay shouted with an almost high pitched voice. "Honestly, what?" His face was red and he looked like he was going to start with one of his hour-long rants any second.
Not that Sheppard would hold it against him. To be honest, John felt like shouting too; Arya couldn't have possibly meant what he thought she had said.
"As I told you, the easiest solution would be if you friend McKay and friend Sheppard will be joined in the holy ceremony of the great Marguessan."
Darn, he had heard it correctly the first time. "Joined as in...?" John tried to get to the core of the issue.
"I think the earth term would be "married"," provided Teyla with a most polite undertone. John spared half a second to arch his eyebrow in her direction. There was no need for her to enjoy this absurd situation.
"This is ridiculous," Rodney was in full rant mode. His face was red, steam was practically coming out of his ears and he looked as if he would very much like to beat some sense into Arya and her friends. "This is what you get if you try to play nice with the locals. I can't fucking believe this. It's outrageous!"
To give her some credit, John had to admit that Arya looked quite shocked at McKay's outbreak. So maybe for her this suggestion was not quite as bizarre as it was for them. "Why us?" asked John. What the hell had triggered this hilarious idea and what had given him and Rodney away? He would bet his last dime that nobody knew anything. Fuck.
Ronon's deep chuckle went like a wave through the room. Apparently their teammate found this situation quite amusing. Oh, this definitely called for vengeance. And John was sure that Rodney would love to find a way.
As usual Teyla tried to calm everyone down; she had her arm on Rodney's shoulder and threw a very meaningful glance in John's direction. "Friend Arya, maybe you could enlighten us to a greater detail why you proposed this course of action? Why would joining those two help examine the House of Marguessan?"
Oh great, Teyla was hell-bent on being diplomatic. Sometimes John could really do without her compassion. At least just right this minute. Arya's idea was just plain stupid and they shouldn't waste any second on further discussing it. Case closed.
"As I told you all already this morning, only the priestess and the people who partake in the holy ceremonies are allowed in the temple. The easiest way to grant your team the visit of the House of Marguessan is when they share one of the rites. For obvious reasons the blessing of childbirth or the mourning ceremony are out of question. That leaves us with the joining ritual. Which is also the most convenient as it means that the two people who want to be joined will stay for full three days in the temple. I think this time span will provide you with ample opportunity to study the entire inside of the temple. Was this not what you were aiming for with your request for bending the rules, friend Sheppard?"
"I will not, under no circumstances, do unthinkable things with Colonel Sheppard just to be allowed in this building. This is just another way for the Pegasus Galaxy to show us the finger. I'm a genius, I shouldn't be forced to be joined with... to... with a flyboy."
John wasn't quite sure if he should feel insulted by Rodney's comments or if he should just nod in agreement. Marriage to grant them the access to some ancient building, most probably full of junk. There must be an easier way to beat the Wraith, John was sure of it. "Why us? Why not, for example Teyla and Ronon?" he asked again. He really needed to know that and maybe it would stop Ronon from smiling for a while.
Arya smiled quite shyly at him. "That's easy. Friend McKay is your scientist; he is definitely needed inside the temple. And as I understood you are the only other one with the ability to make the gifts of the Ancestors work. It is the most sensible way to have you two as the ones entering the house of Marguessan."
"But aren't there some rules among your people? Rules to prevent a joining of two men? Or is this the part where you are twiddling with rules?" Rodney insisted.
"Why would there be?" asked Arya. She looked so bewildered by this question that John had no doubt that she really didn't know what Rodney was speaking about.
"Never mind," Rodney waved the issue aside. "Just to repeat myself, I will not do this joining hocus pocus – whatever this may be – just to be allowed in the temple. Find another solution. This is not what I was signing up for when I joined the SGC. I mean this is supposed to be a research mission, not setting up the Pegasus equivalent of Playboy. Or whatever." Rodney folded his arms in a very abrasive manner.
"I am not so sure what you are talking about, friend McKay. But maybe it would help to understand the full situation if I explain how the joining ceremony is fulfilled."
Before John could object to this – because seriously they didn't need to hear about this in mixed company – Teyla was giving Arya a grateful smile and said: "This would be very much appreciated."
Arya nodded her head. "So on the morning of the first day, the two people who want to be joined will enter the temple and speak their intentions to the high priestess. They will declare their willingness to be one and share the holy wine of the Marguessan. After that they will spent the rest of the day either alone or together to meditate about their future life together. When the day is ending they shall share the wine again, after that they will lodge in the joining room." Arya seemed to notice that Rodney was flustered all over again because she was quite fast to add, "There is nothing required to happen in that room, friend McKay. Usually the participants of the ceremony do just sleep.
"Anyhow this is basically what will go on during the following days. The ceremony is intended to allow them ample time to make sure that this is really the destined way for them. None of their friends or family can influence them, only the wisdom of Marguessan will lead them. And this time can easily be used by you to study the Holy House. Working together on an important task usually does show people if they are fitting together or not.
At the end of the third day of the ceremony, your friends and family will enter the temple too and you will declare your willingness to be joined for good. Or in your case you will step back from it. After that you will leave the temple as if nothing had happened."
Despite his initial rejection, Arya's idea sounded not so bad at all. And yes, John was quite aware of the fact how fucked up his life in Pegasus must be that he even considered marrying Rodney – or not marrying for that fact – but it beat some of the things they had to do for their survival hands down. "Just that I got this right – we are only supposed to share some wine and to work and speak together for three days? Nothing more and with an easy 'I don't' we are free to leave?"
Arya nodded. "Most definitely so. If you do not want to be joined it will not happen at the end of the three days. This is not a common ending for this ceremony but it is entirely legal. We do not even have to bend the rules for this."
John still wasn't sure, but this did sound like a plan after all.
"This is just wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And did I mention it, wrong!" Rodney paced in full rant mode up and down, waving with his hands furiously.
John just waved the argument away. "Come on, what could possibly go wrong. As far as the high priestess explained we will just drink some wine over the course of several days and declare that we really don't want to be married at the end. So what's the harm? Besides, Arya and her people seem to be the best possible trading partners we found in all the time. They really want to help us in the fight against the Wraith."
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Just because we finally meet some backwater people who are not attacking us with arrows on the first sight doesn't mean that they are friendly and we should do nicely with them."
"McKay!" John snapped. "These people bore your presence for the last two days without declaring war on us. I think it's save to say that they really want this partnership."
Rodney became all flustered again. "Oh ha ha, Colonel."
John focused again on
"Yes, of course. Nothing else would be able. And the readings I could gather from this building seem to indicate this too..." but Rodney was able to stop himself from getting to caught up in his rambling. "But that is still no reason why I should be married off in an obscure backwater ritual. There is no guarantee that they would actually give us the ZPM. So why should I take this risk?"
"For the hundredths time, there is no risk. You were the one who was rattling about how much you wanted to get inside that building. And this simple ceremony will give us the opportunity. We will just drink some wine, that's all, no harm done. And even if they won't part with the ZPM, if we understand how the protection field is working, we can use it for Atlantis too. And we can always try to get an agreement with them, to build up an alpha side on this planet. It's perfect. These are friendly folks, bending all there rules to give us what we need, so how could we not act on this?"
Part 2 - In The Temple
"To my greatest regret, I can not grant you that, friend Sheppard." The high priestess Arya bowed her head apologetically.