Rodney looked around the market place, unable to believe his own eyes because this was not something that happened to one of the greatest minds in two galaxies. He was the Chief Science Officer on the Ancient lost city of Atlantis, head of all science and research with countless numbers of minions waiting to do his bidding. Except the only bidding going on here today was the fast paced talking of the slave auctioneer in response to the various signals coming from the crowd.
The Faranians hadn't been careful when they stripped him naked, taking all his clothing and equipment to sell elsewhere in the market place no doubt. He winced as his muscles protested the awkward positions of his tied arms, and the tightness around his ankles. The bottoms of his feet were sore from walking barefoot, and he had a number of cuts and bruises from where he had tried to fight back unsuccessfully. As he waited for his turn to be dragged onto the auctioneer's block he heard others talking of him being sold to one of the sex houses as an exotic prostitute, because of his pale skin and blue eyes. Apparently he was something of a rarity on this world, which had a space gate but no means for the indigenous population to reach it.
This was all Colonel Sheppard's fault - obviously. He should never have left him alone in the cloaked jumper so close to those very interesting looking ruins of an Ancient outpost. Rodney had been bored and he simply could not resist the allure of the small power reading that could be an inactive ZPM. He had figured he could get to the edge of the ruins to take closer readings and then be back in the jumper within fifteen minutes at most.
What he hadn't counted on was the small party of slavers taking a short cut through the ruins on their way to the local slave market with their captives, and who just happened to pass by during those fifteen minutes. Of course they'd seen him as a perfect opportunity to make even more wealth for themselves at the market.
Rodney scanned the crowd hopefully as the number of slaves ahead of him slowly dwindled, relieved when he spotted familiar dark messy hair on one side of the market place. It didn't take too much more effort to spot Ronon even though he had shaved off his once-distinctive dreadlocks. Following Ronon's gaze he caught sight of Teyla stealthily sliding through the crowd to the other side of the market, closer to the slave pen where he was being held. Rodney could tell from their stance and expression that they had a plan in motion and he really, really hated not knowing what was going to happen next.
The loud explosion silenced the noisy crowd. Another flash-bang closer to the center of the crowd sent the people into a panic, stampeding in all directions, fueled by Ronon's yells to run. Teyla was right beside Rodney seconds later, cutting through the rope at his ankles that prevented him from running before forcing him ahead of her as they raced from the market place and out of the small town.
He wanted to tell her how glad he was to see her face, and for rescuing him from a life of slavery and prostitution but Teyla would not let up the hard pace, leaving him desperate to catch his breath while fighting the pain from his abused muscles and cut feet. Obstinately, he decided to pull up but Teyla's glare had him back running instantly. The sound of yelling had him glancing over his shoulder, and Rodney almost lost his footing in the process, adrenaline kicking in harder when he realized the slavers were almost on top of him.
Just when it seemed he was destined to be grabbed again with no chance of further rescue, John and Ronon stepped out from behind some rocks ahead and shot at the feet of the men in pursuit of him and Teyla. They were skirting the edge of the ruins now and Rodney recognized the clearing where they had landed. He raced towards the slight indentation in the ground that marked the edge of the lowered ramp, relieved when the clearing vanished as the jumper's walls became visible. Rodney went straight to the copilot's seat and sent out a mental image to prep the jumper. Moments later Ronon and John were back on board.
"Raise the ramp!"
It took just a quick mental command and by then John was flinging himself into the pilot's seat. He heard clangs and pings against the back knowing they were the sound of bullets from crude projectile weapons. It all faded once they were airborne and rising steeply. Blue skies gave way to the dark of space.
"Colonel, I'm-" Rodney stopped as John raised one finger, lips pursed, and eyes tight with barely controlled anger.
Rodney wanted to take umbrage but as he looked down at his still bound hands and naked body he realized he didn't have exactly have the high ground. He had screwed up and if not for his team then he'd be in a very scary and awkward position right now - probably on his knees with his legs spread.
"Rodney," Teyla said softly to catch his attention.
He looked over his shoulder.
"Eh... Thank you," he murmured as he accepted the red coveralls stored in the jumper for emergencies, dressing quickly once Ronon cut the rope binding his hands. By the time he had pulled them on and returned to the copilot seat, only a few minutes later, the space gate was looming ahead of them, hanging like a beautiful, shining blue gem on a black velvet cloth.
They sailed through into the Gate Room, allowing Atlantis to take control and raise the jumper up into the bay overhead. As Rodney made to stand up John's hand lashed out and grabbed his forearm, a stern look ordering him to stay put. Under the circumstances Rodney decided to obey the order this time and waited until Ronon and Teyla had gone before turning back to face John's wrath.
"Before you say anything I caught a power reading and needed to-."
"I told you to stay in the jumper."
"And I would have but the power read-."
"You could have been killed."
"But I wasn't-."
"This time," he hissed. "This time you were lucky. This time they didn't have a Stargate to spirit you away." His voice cracked. "I could have lost you."
Up until that moment Rodney was still trying to justify his actions, still annoyed that John seemed to think he could boss him around and he felt slightly sick because he had seen the same haunted look, but in his own eyes when he thought John was lost to him.
"I'm... I'm sorry." He moved, reaching out to cup the back of John's head and draw him closer until their foreheads were touching, breathing the same air in a gesture that was an intimate as a kiss. Later there would be kissing and more but, for now, Rodney remained quiet and breathed in John as all their fears slipped away. Safe within each other's touch once more.