laren01: (Plotbunny)
[personal profile] laren01
Title: Good Intentions
Part: 2 - In The Temple
Fandom: SGA
Pairing: John/Rodney
Disclaimer: If it were mine, there would be no Keller.
Warnings: Angst, Established Relationship, Humor
Rating: PG-16
Summary: The plan was foolproof, or wasn't it?.
Wordcount: ~5500 (part 2)
Beta: [info]koryou and [info]zannabq you are the best *huggs*

Part 1 - A Cunning Plan

On the next morning John shooed a grumbling Rodney to the House of Marguessan while Teyla and Ronon followed them with amused faces. John knew that at least some of Rodney's reluctance came from the lack of coffee but the upcoming ceremony still seemed to bother the scientist. "Come on McKay, you can't seriously still be pissed about this marriage thingy? I really don't understand why you are making such a fuss. It's no big deal, so just go with the flow."

It seemed that this was the wrong thing to say to Rodney, especially so early in the morning. Rodney came to an abrupt halt and glared in John's direction. "Just so you know, I personally think that it is a big deal to get married even if it's only a fake marriage. And I can't find anything amusing about the whole situation." The last part was directed at Teyla and Ronon, who wisely hold their tongues.

"You said it Rodney; it's only a fake marriage. Nothing of this is real, so why are you so troubled about it?"

"There are thousand of reasons," Rodney said and his glare indicated that he thought that John was a complete moron to not understand that.

"Name one," John dared.

Rodney bristled. "One of the reasons – that even a big oaf like you, Colonel, should understand – is that I don't like the idea of being forced into this ritual just to be able to do my job. This should not be necessary! If all your negotiation skills are so highly evolved, why couldn't you find a way around this? And please spare me your overused speech that this whole thing is no big deal and should be fun for everyone. I just want it to be over."

John sensed that Rodney really meant it and that it would be wise to not pester him any further. The others seemed to sense it too because the amused smiles on their faces toned down significantly. Rodney huffed once more but after that he started in the direction of the temple again.

Like all the other buildings in this city the House of Marguessan was built into the large mountain formation. The people from P4X-742 had literally carved their homes into the yellow-orange rock. The only difference between the town buildings and the temple was that the House of Marguessan was located in a small valley a few minutes walk away from the city centre. And of course that the design of the entrance was in a very different style. In fact it rather looked similar to Atlantis. This was the most telling point that had lead to their assumption that this building was an old Ancient outpost instead of a temple.

When they reached entrance – which was guarded by two of Arya's people – John gave his team a signal to stop. "Ok, this is it. McKay and I will now go into the lion's den. We will radio you each day at noon and midnight." That part had actually been the most critical issue in the whole plan. Elizabeth had insisted that Rodney and John would be reachable for Atlantis during their stay in the temple. But Arya had vehemently protested against it. She had argued that the days in the temple were meant to give the soon to be married couple the chance to be without any influence of friends and family. Therefore no contact at all should be allowed with the outside world.

Elizabeth hadn't liked that one bit, and to be honest neither had John. The people from P4X-742 seemed to be very friendly, but it was a huge risk to leave two important members of the Atlantis team locked up in a foreign temple without any contact to the outside world.

But after some more negotiations and rule bending a compromise had been found. John and Rodney were allowed to send short messages to give an update on their status, but they would not get any messages back. Only at the first contact a very short reply was allowed and this only to ensure that the communication channel was working.

"Yes, John. And we will forward any important news to Atlantis if needed," agreed Teyla. "I hope the ceremony will go well and that you will enjoy your stay in the temple."

"Marrying that pain in the ass, I don't think so," said John while pointing with his thump in Rodney's direction. The almost constant complaints from Rodney over this ritual had riled John up a bit and he thought that it was payback time. McKay should realize that he was not the only one sacrificing.

"Oh ha ha," was all Rodney retorted. John gave him his best 'befriend the natives' smile and the scientist huffed in annoyance.

John thought it was enough with the banter and so he started to give his weapons to Ronon. He didn't like that part much either but he somehow could understand that all kinds of weapons were banned from the Holy House of Marguessan. Still, it was a weird feeling to be without any protection and he wished he had learned the art of hiding knives in his hair. Maybe he should have asked Ronon for tips how to do that. "I feel kind of naked," he admitted when his last gun – the P-90 - went into Ronon's hands.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Get over it; we have far bigger problems at hand. I have to study this Ancient outpost in a short deadline, only with my third favourite notebook and without any of my minions. And while the latter could only improve the situation we really do have a tight time schedule and should start with this farce already."

As usual the whole universe revolved only around McKay; normally John would not pass this opportunity to taunt his friend but he wanted to get this stupid ceremony behind them as fast as possible too. So he took a rain check. "Ok, then let's go," he waved one more time at Teyla and Ronon and after that faced the guards at the entrance. It was high time that they entered this oh so holy temple.

After approaching the guards and requesting to see the high priestess for a joining ritual – shivers still ran down John's spine when he thought about that bit – he and Rodney were ushered into the temple. One of the guards directed them through several really familiar looking corridors. "Huh you would think that the Ancients had more than one interior design, wouldn't you?" Really did they not once in all those millennia change the look of things?

"Busy!" was all McKay replied. And he really looked quite busy as he was checking the readings on his handheld while they walked down the corridors. John knew from experience that nothing short of a threat of immediate death would bring Rodney out of his trance like state. As this was not the case he just shrugged his shoulders and ushered Rodney in the direction the guard was indicating.

A few moments later they had reached their destination. After just another corner they found themselves in a room which looked oddly like the gate-room in Atlantis. Just without a gate and instead of the huge ring John could see some altar like statue in the centre. Arya stood close to the altar-thingy and waved them forward with a huge smile on her face. She looked quite stunning today wearing a formal looking white robe which left nothing to the imagination. John greeted her with one of his most charming smiles – this whole thing was about charming these people into a partnership after all – which she answered in kind.

It seemed that Rodney had snapped himself out of studying the energy signatures because he mumbled a snappy, "What's this with you and alien priestesses?" under his breath.

John dug his elbow in his ribs. "Be friendly to the natives, Rodney," he whispered barely audible, still smiling in Arya's direction. He really should start to teach McKay when to shut up even if it seemed to be an impossible task.

"Friend Sheppard, Friend McKay. I'm so happy that you decided to partake in this holy ceremony." Arya beamed at them and waved them over.

When they stood in front of the altar she took both of their hands and told them once again how honoured her people were for them to be joined in one of their rituals. John finally understood why Teyla had vehemently argued for them to do this. It was not only a means for them to get inside of the temple; it also showed the people of P4X-742 that they valued their beliefs and that they valued them as partners. One more thing to make this stupid farce bearable.

"And we are deeply grateful to be allowed in this Holy House," was Johns reply. He really got better with all this diplomatic stuff after all.

"Whatever," Rodney waved agitated with his hands. "Can we start now; we are loosing time with all this chitchat."

John let out an all too familiar sigh. Apparently McKay would never learn not to be an ass 24/7. Luckily Arya seemed rather amused instead of annoyed. She just smiled in the scientist's direction and clapped her hands. "As you wish, Friend McKay."

And with this the holy ceremony of Joining began. Basically it was nothing too strange. Ok, John and Rodney had to hold hands – something John would not mention in the mission report – and to declare that they wished to pledge to spend their lives with each other. As religious ceremonies went, it was one of the more simple rites they had seen so far in the Pegasus galaxy. It even beat some of the earth ones in John's opinion. And it was rather short, not taking into account that it had to be repeated over the next three days.

Arya instructed them once more that they should meditate what a life together would be like and that they should use the time to make sure that they were a true pairing, that they were meant to be joined.

After that she asked the wise Marguessan to guide them and then she took two glasses filled with wine which had magically appeared on the altar right that moment.

"Huh!" was Rodney's reaction. A mere tick later he had his energy reading device in his hand and was frantically scanning the altar.

"McKay!" said John with a warning undertone. He wasn't sure that Arya would like the interruption of the ceremony. Of course everybody knew that they were only here for the chance to study the temple, but couldn't Rodney leave his doohickeys in his backpack until after the ritual?

"Busy!" replied Rodney.

John rolled his eyes, this was so typical. Working with scientists was like herding a group of cats – nearly impossible. John knew that he had to show his point quite clearly or McKay would just ignore him and antagonize their generous hosts. He took Rodney's elbow in his hand and jerked him to attention. "Yes you are. Getting married to me!" He smiled apologetically in Arya's direction.

Rodney threw a total bewildered gaze in his direction. "But... but these readings indicate that there might be a ZPM..."

John counted slowly to ten. "And the ZPM will not walk away while we finish the ceremony, will it? So play nice for the next five minutes."

Rodney's death glare promised that John would pay for this later but he did stuff his handheld back into his bag and faced Arya again. "I so do hate you," he muttered in John's direction.

"That's the base for a very content marriage," responded John.

"Oh, don't be such a moron on purpose," grumbled McKay.

Arya, who acted as if nothing had happened just handed them the two glasses. "Now drink the wine of Marguessan as a promise of the upcoming joining."

The fluid in the glass had a kind of sparkling purple colour that John had never seen in wine before. Maybe it was because of the rather strange light which came from the altar, or it was due to the alien grapes. John took a first sip, and yes the wine tasted different too, but not unpleasantly so. It was rather fruity and didn't seem to have a lot of alcohol. John took another mouthful.

"Huh, do you think this has citrus in it?" asked McKay suddenly.

"We will know that when I'm a widower in five minutes, will we?"

"Oh ha ha, Colonel." But Rodney kept drinking.

When they both were finished and handed the glasses back to Arya, she announced, "Now you have to kiss."

John looked at the high priestess in horror. "Excuse me?" he stammered.

"Oh, this so fucking figures," was Rodney's comment.

Arya looked sternly at both of them. "It is custom that the joining pledge is sealed with a kiss."

John sighed. He really should have known that something like this would happen. But on the bright side, nobody from Atlantis would ever know about this and he would most definitely state nothing of this in his mission report. This was the kind of situation that could endanger his career. Something he could not risk at all because it would mean that he would loose Atlantis and Rodney. Not gonna happen on his watch.

This was also the reason why he and Rodney were more than secret about their 'thing'. Beside the fact that it was nobody's damn business. Rodney might not like this hide and seek game but he understood and he did a rather good show of not liking John more than as a friend, in his own 'rodneylike' manner. At least for a guy who told each and everyone that he could not lie.

John knew that all his musings did not change what needed to be done. He took one last deep breath and then he cupped Rodney's cheek in his hand and bowed down to place a brief kiss on his lips. When their lips met John felt a short tingling sensation in his stomach. Rodney tasted like Rodney and like the wine they just had drunk.

After the kiss they looked into each others eyes. It was the first time that they had kissed in front of any living being and John knew that he should just take this gift and not dwell on it too much. They were safe; nobody would ever get wind of this.

"The first step of the ceremony has been fulfilled," declared Arya with just another clap of her hands.

"Finally," grumbled McKay. "Can I start with my work now?"

"Be my guest," replied Sheppard and flashed another apologetic smile in Arya's direction.

With the sigh of the long suffering Rodney took his scanning device and started to search for energy readings again. While doing that he mumbled to himself, "Come on show yourself, I know that you are here somewhere."

"Friend McKay seems to be very determined to find all the secrets of the temple," said Arya kind of amused to John.

"Never mind him," apologized John. "He can get rather single minded when he is on a treasure hunt. Kind of unstoppable."

Arya laughed. "I can see that. So it's a good balance that he will be joined with you. You can easily calm him down if need be."

A loud and proud, "Ha! I knew it," from McKay spared John to give an answer to Arya. "Ta dah! Let me introduce you to the ZPM of Marguessan," declared Rodney with unhidden glee.

John went to the altar where Rodney stood. "Did you really find one?"

"Of course I did," Rodney beamed. And he smiled the smile which was reserved only for ZPMs. Not even the promise of an absolute mind-blowing orgasm could bring so much joy into McKay's face.

"What is this ZPM?" asked the high priestess.

Rodney did not even acknowledge her existence, he was far too occupied with the readings on his handheld and his loving glances towards the Ancient crystal which had emerged out of the altar.

"It's a power source of the Ancients. We call them ZPM. They are the most powerful devices you can imagine. We have one in Atlantis, using it to cloak and shield our city. Although the one we have is nearly depleted, which is one of the reasons why we are on such a desperate search for more ZPMs. Most probably this crystal is the reason why the Wraith are not culling your people, it must power some kind of shield."

Arya shook her head, to his great surprise. "That cannot be. It is the rocks that are protecting us. This is what is written in the texts of Marguessan. When the Wraith attack, we should seek shelter inside of the mountain."

John just wanted to argue against this, when Rodney turned around and faced them both. "As much as it's sounds crazy, Arya is correct. This ZPM is nothing more than the power source for the altar and the lights in this building. It's not used for any kind of cloak or shield or weapon. It's utterly wasted." Rodney sounded kind of outraged.

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I am. I checked everything. The ZPM is only connected to the altar, nothing else. And just so you know, after 10.000 years of usage it is still at 99% capacity. Oh what we could achieve with this baby." He had an unhealthy gleam in his eyes.

"It's not ours to take, Rodney," warned John. Even if it was not needed to protect the people from P4X-742, it belonged to them. Unfortunately one did not make good friends after stealing relics. They had learned that lesson early in the expedition.

"But... but it's wasted here."

"McKay!" John's voice was stern. He turned this attention back to Arya. "So the rocks around us are protecting you from the Wraith?"

She nodded. "That is the wisdom of Marguessan. When she took my people to this planet all those years ago, she made sure that the Wraith could not reach us again. There is some kind of mineral in the rocks which interferes with the Wraith technology. They do not see that our town is in these mountains. At least this is what is written in the holy texts."

"Wow, that's pretty cool," said John. "I mean, shields are cool too. But they need a power-source. And the rocks are always there to protect you."

"Yes they are. But only as long as we stay inside them. That is our greatest asset but also a great curse. In the last 10.000 years my people were more or less free from Wraith attacks, but despite that we could not flourish as other planets have done. We need to stay in close proximity to the mountains. And even our numbers can not grow much further, to feed all of our people; we need to farm in great distance. To work that far away from the protection is a great risk."

Well that sucked in John's opinion. "How do you cope?"

She gave him another smile. "We adapted. For centuries now the population more or less stayed at a level which allows us to only use farms in what we deem to be a save distance. Usually each pair can only have two children unless we have to strengthen the numbers after high losses. Not all of my people make it to the safety of the mountains when the Wraith show up."

So they had losses, but not as high as other planets. At least they didn't have any freaking rules to kill themselves at the age of 25 to stabilize the population size. This system sounded by far better.

"You have a warning system," declared Rodney.

Arya nodded. "Yes we have, Friend McKay. At least when the darts come through the ring of the Ancestors. In the beginning we had a machine, created by the great Marguessan to keep watch. But it broke some hundred years ago. Now everyone who is not responsible for children has to take turns in guarding the ring. When it activates and darts come through they start a fire to warn us. Usually it bides us enough time to come back into safety. Of course if a Hive-ship is coming to cull this planet, we will not get any warning at all. The last time that happened it cost us nearly 300 lives."

"Huh! I can check on the warning system. Or one of my minions can do that, while I'm here. We might be able to repair it." Rodney was quite caught up in thought. "Or we can install a new one. There is no need for any living being to guard the ring. And with Hives that's easy. We have long range sensors in Atlantis, we can look out for any Hive which comes in your direction and give you very advance warning."

"That's a good plan," agreed John.

"Will this help from your side depend on whether or not we will allow you to take the gift of Marguessan with you?" asked Arya cautious.

John could see in Rodney's face that he played with the thought to say yes. And actually it kind of looked like a fair price for their help. Especially as Arya's people didn't need the ZPM. But John was sure that Teyla would have his ass if they demanded something for the help against the Wraith. Elizabeth most probably too. And John was really sure that they shouldn't exploit allies in that way. So he shook is head. "No Arya. We will give you this warning system in any case. Your people are good friends and good trading partners."

Rodney gave him the 'you are such a moron' look, but he did not protest. In his heart McKay knew that this was the correct way to handle things.

"That is very good news and we appreciate the help of your people. It seems that this partnership is even more beneficial than we thought. Praise Marguessan to send you to this planet." Arya turned to Rodney. "Friend McKay, I believe you said that you have one of these Power-Crystals in Atlantis too?"

Rodney nodded. "Yes we have, but our ZPM is nearly depleted."

"While ours is nearly full. If we would exchange them, how long would yours be able to power the temple?"

Rodney stared at her for a few seconds, totally stunned by her words. "I have to monitor the energy readings for a longer period of time to be sure, but I would guess two or three thousand years."

"Two or three," repeated Arya.

"Yes, yes," said Rodney waving his arms in excitement. "As I said, the ZPM is utterly wasted here, it only lights up the temple. Really any other power source could do the same. With the capacity of our old ZPM you should be able to last for an extended time. While yours will help to secure Atlantis."

"So exchange the devices, Friend McKay."

To be honest John hadn't foreseen this turn of events. And while he didn't want to complain he also didn't want to bully Arya into an unfair trade. "Are you sure, Arya? This was a gift from the Marguessan to your people."

She nodded. "I am. The great Marguessan did everything to protect us from the Wraith, but they are still a threat to the whole galaxy. If we can support you in the fight against the Wraith we will do so. If the almost depleted ZPM is sufficient to power our needs for the next three thousand years we should not waste the other crystal here."

"Huh, that's brilliant," said Rodney. John wasn't about to differ.


After the exciting start, the rest of the day became far calmer. Rodney was completely in geek heaven, not only because of the ZPM, but also because he found the database of the Ancient outpost. "Finally an Ancient who knew how to organize and label data. This is pure gold," was all he said before he started to happily type away on his laptop.

John sent the first data burst to Teyla and Ronon, with the instruction to forward everything to Atlantis. The other scientists could start preparing the alarm system while he and Rodney had to stay in the temple.

Other than that, John had not so much to do. Rodney needed him from time to time to turn on an Ancient device, but as McKay was mostly obsessed with the database John was left with a lot of spare time. Time he used to discuss with Arya about the possibilities to host an Alpha Site in the mountains or how they could improve the safety of the farmers.

Nevertheless the evening came faster than expected. And once more Rodney and John stood in front of the altar listening to Arya telling them about the importance to find the right person to be joined with. They again shared the wine and a kiss. Surprisingly John already got used to kiss in front of Arya. When in Rome...

Later – after some more or less subtle hints from Arya that it was time to end the day – John dragged an uncooperative Rodney towards their room.

"Let go of me you big oaf! There's so much I need to explore!"

"That's Colonel big oaf for you, McKay. And I think our gracious hosts want to call it a night. The database will not disappear till tomorrow."

"But we only have two more days left! There is some seriously marvellous stuff in there," protested Rodney.

John rolled his eyes. "And tomorrow Atlantis will send all the memory storage you need to download the whole database. Whatever you won't find in the next two days can easily be discovered later on. Don't be such an ass and stop complaining."

Rodney huffed again, but not in earnest.

They stood inside their quarters a few seconds later and had yet another big surprise.

"Huh," was Rodney's comment. "They already mastered the concept of decadent honeymoon-suites. And look, there is food." He happily rushed to a little table where a large bowl of sweets was standing.

John took the sight of the room in. Rodney was correct, this seemed to be one of the most generous bedrooms he ever had seen. The bed was large enough for at least four people, there were comfy seats all around and everything was lighted in an almost romantic light. This room beat his quarters in Atlantis hands down.

"Cool," was all he said.

Rodney grinned at him. "Seriously, this got to be the best day of my life ever. OK, beside the part of this stupid ritual. But all the rest was just brilliant."

John laughed. "Why, what got you in such a good mood McKay?"

"Let me think? Hello ZPM? And we finally met some backwater natives who are not hell-bent to kill us but are rather practical and supportive? Oh yes and we found the proof that there was at least one Ancient who did not only contemplate her navel while waiting for ascension. Instead she stayed behind and helped this people to escape the Wraith. What is more than all the others ever did. And she even knew how to create an index in a database and labelled everything. This Marguessan must have been rather 'unancienty'."

"Is that even a word?" mocked John, this joke had went back and forth between them for quite a while now.

Excited hand waving was his answer. "Ha ha, you know what I mean."

And John did. This whole trip had turned out to be one big goldmine. They hadn't had so much luck in a very long time. John let out one relaxed sigh and sat down on the really comfy bed. Maybe they could persuade Arya to give them the bed for Atlantis too? With a big goofy smile John watched Rodney – aka the overpowered energizer bunny - examine the room. "Oh wow, if you think that the bed is big, you should have a look at the bath. This is truly decadent."

But John was too lazy to stand up, so he just retorted a short "Whatever," in Rodney's direction. Suddenly he felt Rodney's weight dropping on the bed, two strong arms wound themselves around his chest and clever lips started to nibble his neck. "You know what would make this day even more perfect?" Rodney whispered in his ear.

John's first reaction was to disentangle himself. "Not on off-world missions, McKay," was his comment.

"Oh come on. Nobody will find out." Rodney started to stroke the spots where John was very sensitive. "The rest of the team has to stay outside of the temple. And these people will not mind, they even married us off and provided us with this honeymoon suite. You wanna try to find out how it feels to have sex in a bed without the immediate threat of falling down?"

John grinned at that thought. Rodney was right; it would not harm to take advantage of the surroundings and the situation. With a swift movement he flipped them both over and pinned Rodney under him on the bed. "Are you up for the challenge, McKay?"

Sparkling eyes met his. "Do your worst, flyboy."

"That's Colonel flyboy for you," grinned John. He leaned down and captured Rodney's mouth for a deep kiss. When their tongues met John could taste the wine again and a tingling sensation of anticipation started in his stomach. This promised to be one of the best nights ever.


Two days later John and Rodney stood again in front of the altar. The last days had been more or less copies of the first one. Rodney had found some serious good stuff, John had long discussions with Arya and twice a day they had shared the wine. All in all the whole stay in the temple felt more like a vacation than an actual mission. Not that John minded, though.

What he did mind was that this time they had observers. The room was filled with some of Arya's people, the rest of his team, but also Elizabeth, Carson, Caldwell – John groaned – and some other high ranking people from the Daedalus. It seems that negotiations between Atlantis and P4X-742 had reached a new level during their stay in the temple and that their 'friends' found it funny to watch them not getting married. John was sure that there would be quite some jokes in the near future.

But as there was nothing John could do against it, he just gritted his teeth. In a few minutes the whole farce would be over anyhow.

Arya started with the final step of the ceremony. John and Rodney had again to hold hands, only this time Arya had placed something which looked like a band of gold over the hands. It was thick but bendy and it even felt a bit warm, nothing like metal at all.

"Three days ago, Friend Sheppard and Friend McKay came into the House of Marguessan so that their lives may be joined together."

Was it just John or were there some amused snorts coming from the Atlantis crew? He didn't dare to take his eyes from Arya to give them a deserving death glare, but he would get them back for this later.

Arya did not even stop for a second. "You spent the last days in this temple to contemplate how your future life together might be. And now is the time to renew your pledges. Friend Sheppard, Friend McKay, is it your wish to be joined for the rest of your life? Are you a true paring?"

"As if," huffed Rodney annoyed.

"Don't take this wrong, but I rather don't," said John.

Arya nodded. "If this is your decision, I will break the bond and declare the joining as failed." She moved her hand to remove the golden band, but suddenly the band changed the colour, it was purple now and tickled on John's skin. Arya looked shocked and surprised, she withdraw her hand and shook her head. "I am sorry, but I cannot do it."

"What?" shouted Rodney loud and angry.

John felt rather shocked himself. "But you promised to break this joining-thingy. We only went with this ceremony because you said that it's not final."

"I know Friend Sheppard. But I did not know that this would happen. The colour has changed; this means you have consummated your joining. You are a true pairing; your bond can never be broken."

John stared at the high priestess in utter disbelief. The blood in his ears was ringing and John wished that he was far, far away from this madhouse. This was total humiliation in front of everyone.

"Oh you've got to be kidding me! Just because we had sex we are now married? What kind of backwater planet is this?" Rodney shouted and all hell broke loose.

Part 3 – Side Effects


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