Watching the guards make a big production out of getting Rodney out of his shackles was the best entertainment John saw all month. Rodney could barely walk with close to a hundred pounds of iron chain binding his wrists and ankles to the metal belt locked around his waist. Whenever John was really bored, he'd crank Rodney up by calling it his chastity belt; that was always good for an hour or two of the pissed off Rodney show.
The full moon was gone for another month and Rodney was back after three nights of confinement in The Box: a tiny cell lined with solid slabs of metal with both an inner and outer door made of steel. It amused the hell out of John all the precautions the guards took with Rodney considering that without the influence of the full moon, the worst thing Rodney could do to them was insult their mothers and threaten to sic his lawyers on them for human rights violations.
He could hear Rodney long before he could see him, and that was without using his enhanced hearing. Rodney was on a roll, really laying into Lopresti, forcing the other guards to hide their laughter behind fake coughs and cleared throats. Howell didn't bother hiding her nasty little chuckle; the woman had bigger balls than all the other guards combined.
The clink of Rodney's chains was now a familiar sound to John, and a strangely welcome one. It didn't feel right facing the empty cell across from him when Rodney was boxed up. Too quiet, and Ronon didn't help matters any, the way he doled out words like they were more precious than water in a desert. John had always prized his solitude, but one of the many lessons he'd learned in the past year was that there really could be too much of a good thing.
Then again, there never seemed to be an end to the bad things that came along.
Rodney finally shuffled close enough so that John could see him, carrying his chains like a character from a Dickens novel. His face was red from exertion, drops of sweat sliding down his face. It didn't stop his mouth from running as the entourage stopped in front of his cell.
Mineo unlocked the door and hustled Rodney inside. Bringing up the rear was Sumner, a shotgun ready and aimed right at Rodney's head. Suddenly, it didn't seem so funny having so many guards shaking in their boots over one man. A mere human. They didn't even need silver to kill him, a simple lead bullet through the head would do.
Rodney wasn't like other lycanthropes. When he was human, he was fully human, with none of the usual benefits of lycanthropy. Apparently, the disease somehow went dormant in him when not activated by the full moon. Rodney had never smelled like anything other than a human to John, and that alone was unsettling, never mind the reason Rodney was there to begin with.
John, along with everyone else who had access to a television or the 'net, had seen the film footage of the first time Rodney had changed into his beast form. And he had been more of a beast than a wolf, a dark, humanoid shape with razor teeth and mad, electric blue eyes. John still had a hard time resolving this sandy-haired, average sized man with the gigantic beast that had killed fifty-eight people in one night.
The first of those fifty-eight had been his sister Jeannie, her husband, and his five year old niece.
A few weeks after his arrival, John had watched as Rodney paced his cell, becoming more and more agitated every hour, until he had stopped, pinned John with those blue eyes, and ground out, "I need to know who did this to me. I need to know why. Then I need to make them pay."
A whisper of sound came from the cell next to his, and he knew Ronon had moved so he could watch what's going on across the corridor. Ronon must have wanted his attention for some reason, because normally John could barely sense him over there. Ronon's ability to almost completely disappear from John's awareness still disturbed him. He didn't know how it was possible since there was no magic to him at all. He wasn't undead, either, or a lycanthrope.
Not for the first time, John wished there had been someone around to teach him when he'd first been turned. Anyone but the monster that had done the turning. Anything Kolya had to teach wasn't something John cared to know.
It might have been nice if John hadn't been too pig-headed to find some other mentor to show him the ins and outs of dark world politics. Maybe if he'd made at least a show of toeing the party line, Elizabeth Weir might not have used him as a test case in the human courts. No, if Weir hadn't needed him in her bid to gain power in both the dark world and the human world, she would simply have had him disposed of quietly, behind the scenes, the way dark business had always been done.
Rodney was hustled into his cell, still taunting Lopresti. Howell unlocked the heavy cuffs from around Rodney's wrists while Lopresti crouched down to unlock his ankles.
Rodney sneered down at Lopresti's head. "I guess you're getting used to being on your knees. I hear you've been keeping Howell satisfied. Maybe I should ask her." Rodney glanced at Howell. "Does he know what he's doing, or did you have to train him?"
Suddenly, Rodney yelped, and jerked his leg from Lopresti. "Watch it, Lopresti!" If John's heart was still beating, it probably would have stopped in that moment. But to John's intense relief, Sumner didn't even twitch. The man was calm and professional to the core; he wouldn't twitch if his own mother dropped her drawers and mooned him.
John called out, "Rodney, stand still and let them do their job."
"He pinched me! I have enough bruises, thank you very much. I also have lawyers. Can you say 'police brutality'?"
"They're not police, Rodney. And would you mind letting them take the chains off so the nice gentleman over here can stop pointing his shotgun at you?"
Rodney huffed in irritation, but stood still long enough for the chains to come off. Lopresti carried them out of the cell, but Howell lingered behind, not in the least afraid of being alone with Rodney. Quite the opposite. With a leer, she gave Rodney a smack on the ass before strutting through the door. Rodney squawked in outrage, but it was John she had her eyes on.
Sneering, she said, "What's the matter, Johnny boy? Don't like sharing your boyfriend?"
John sneered right back, "What's the matter, Howell? The boys in Solitary not keeping you satisfied?"
That wiped the look off her face, but she started to reach for the stick at her waist.
"Howell," Sumner warned, "Get moving, we're already behind schedule."
Sumner was one of the few people Howell didn't mess with. John smirked at her back as she walked away with a parting glare, Sumner right behind her.
Rodney called after the guards, "Hey, Lopresti! Guess what? I just won the betting pool. Howell's balls really are bigger than yours!"
John frowned at Rodney, ignoring the soft laugh coming from Ronon. "You just can't keep your mouth shut, can you?"
"He pinched me!"
John rubbed at his forehead, and decided to just let it go.
There was a crossbar about chest height, John leaned his forearms against it and watched Rodney strip off his shirt, muttering that they hadn't even let him get a shower. Flipping the tap on his sink, Rodney hissed as the cold water flowed over the chafe marks on his wrists. There were more chafes and bruises around his waist where the chains had pulled against the belt, and probably around his ankles where John couldn't see.
Any other kind of lycanthrope, the marks would be nearly healed already, but he wasn't like them. In his beast form, Rodney had been impervious to everything they'd thrown at him during his rampage. Other lycanthropes could be killed with silver, or beheaded, or burned to death. They could heal themselves amazingly fast, but there was still a limit to it. None of this was true of Rodney in his beast form. Rodney was either something new or something so old that there was no record of it. No one really knew what Rodney was, except for the person who had infected him.
As vampires go, John wasn't all that territorial, which made his one hundred and twelve year (and counting) blood feud with the Genii Family easier to execute. Maybe it was staying in one place for so long, or maybe it was staying around Rodney for so long, but he wanted to go over there and touch every mark on Rodney's body, and erase the lingering scent of the guards that still clung to him. He'd never laid a hand on Rodney, but that little detail couldn't shake the gut deep conviction that Rodney was his.
There was another sound from the cell next to his, but he didn't bother to look over. He couldn't actually see Ronon over there, anyway, unless he got out his mirror and angled in so he could see Ronon's reflection. Ronon must have felt that he had something important to say, because he doled out a few of his limited monthly allotment of words, "They're bringing the witch in today."
Rodney pulled a clean shirt over his head, making his damp hair fluff up like a pissed off kitten. "Thanks for the update, Walter Cronkite. It's not like we haven't been hearing about it on the news for weeks now."
"You still planning a way out of here?"
"Do I look like a quitter to you?"
John broke in. "Hey, guys, you realize we're under surveillance, right?" He gestured at the cameras.
"So?" Rodney shrugged, "They know I've been planning to escape since I got here. Why lie about it now?"
"Oh, maybe because most people like to keep their schemes a secret?"
"I'm not most people. And anyway, who's to say that announcing that I have a plan isn't part of the plan?"
It was Rodney's turn to point at the cameras. "Take a closer look."
The surveillance cameras were such a part of his existence that he barely even noticed them any more. John studied them for a moment and realized that the red light on all the cameras were off.
John stood up straight. "How the hell did you do that?"
"Magic," Rodney said, with a grin so smug that it made John want to grin right back.
"How? You don't have that kind of power. None of us do, not even Ronon." At least he didn't think Ronon had that kind of power.
"Since I've been talking about an escape plan, they've been sending in their cut-rate witches, not to mention that hack who calls himself a wizard, every week to re-seal the talismans and re-set the boundaries in here. Everybody knows that the heavy use of magic can interfere with electronic equipment."
Rodney had gone on non-stop about his genius and how he had been on his way to a achieving a Nobel Prize since he had arrived, but he hadn't exactly done anything to impress John. It wasn't like being locked up gave him a lot of opportunities to prove himself. For the first time, John began to think that maybe Rodney might actually get them out of there after all.
John looked at Rodney's raised chin, his fluffed up hair and said, "Rodney, I could kiss you."
Flustered, Rodney moved to the back of his cell, ducking his head to hide his blush. "Oh, um... Rain check?"
It was ridiculous to be so charmed by someone so loud mouthed and overbearing, but John found himself leaning heavily against the bars of his cell, as if that could get him closer to Rodney. "It's a date," he said.
Ronon snorted, "I hope your plan includes a place for us to hole up once we're out of here. Preferably a place where you two can get a room."
That little jibe propelled Rodney from the back of his cell so he could trade insults with Ronon. Those two had developed some kind of weird relationship based on their shared love of good food, something John couldn't really relate to since his own dietary needs were so limited. They seemed to enjoy their days long discussions, or more accurately Rodney's lectures, on favorite foods, recipes, and the horrifying mystery meals served to them three times a day.
John was content to listen as Ronon goaded Rodney, and Rodney attempted to goad him back . It was a safe way to vent their anxiety as they waited for the newest member of their group to arrive.
They were allowed one hour of television a day, the channel usually set on a news station, except the one night a week when Rodney slipped a bribe to Mineo to turn on Firefly. He had a tiny crush on Kaylee. John preferred the captain.
The TV was bolted high on the wall at the far end of the corridor, so they couldn't actually watch it except with their mirrors. The news, though, they could listen to. The past few weeks the news had been all about the witch who had attempted to destroy the multi-million dollar empire of Michael Kenmore.
Since her conviction, and knowing that she would be brought here to one of the few maximum security prisons built specifically to house supernatural criminals, Rodney had become nearly manic with excitement. He'd told them only once, probably when the cameras were off, that his plan hinged on a person capable of wielding magic.
It had taken so long for them to get their necessary fourth that Rodney had started to work out a different plan that didn't include magic. That had scared the hell out of Rodney because John had lost his last appeal and his execution date was coming up fast. John didn't wish ill luck on anyone, unless you counted the Genii, but John was secretly relieved that the final element they needed to get the hell out of there would be arriving any minute. That is, if Rodney's plan worked at all, with or without the witch.
The hours ticked by and eventually even Rodney fell quiet as they waited. The silence was finally broken by the grinding of the door at the end of the corridor as it was opened. The guards were unusually quiet, only their footsteps could be heard, and the faint clink of chains.
He caught her scent first, woman musk edged with the tingle of magic. Witch, pure witch, rare and powerful. Every hair on his body stood up, he could feel her approach. He wasn't expecting her to be so tiny.
In spite of the chains, she moved with an easy grace, her head lifted almost regally. As she passed, John saw the binding collar around her neck, the lock welded on. If he could feel her potency while she was wearing a suppressing device, then how strong was she without it?
The group stopped in front of the cell across from Ronon. There was no talking or manhandling as she was led into her cell and efficiently stripped of her chains. As the guards walked out, there was a loud clank as Ronon grabbed the bars on the door of his cell. Everyone jumped, except Sumner, who calmly kept the shotgun trained on the witch.
Suddenly, John grabbed the door of his cage and began to rattle it in the frame. Rodney caught on, and all three of them raised a racket until the guards had disappeared down the corridor. Once they were gone, an expectant hush fell over the cell block. It was the witch who spoke first.
"I am Teyla Emmagan, daughter of Tegan." She paused for a moment, expectant, then continued when they didn't reply. "Dr. McKay, I understand that you have a plan for our escape."
John's hands clenched around the bars, his dead heart giving one hard throb inside his chest. Whatever scheme Rodney had cooked up, it was going to work; he no longer had any doubts. When he got out, Kolya and the rest of the Genii didn't stand a chance, not with these three at his back.
But before they destroyed the last of the Genii, John had to take care of some personal business. Like Ronon, John hoped Rodney had a good place for them to hole up, a place with enough privacy for him to call in that rain check.