Title: Time After Time
Author: Keira Marcos
Series: Ties That Bind
Series Order: 13
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard, OC/OC, Lorne/OC, Teldy/Porter
Word Count: 22,200
Warnings: BDSM, Violence, high off-world body count of mostly unnamed aliens, fucked up politics, asshats of many nationalities, mild angst, and an author who is completely amazed by herself and tolerates no bullshit from trolls.
Summary: A single day can change everything.
Notes: For the purposes of this series, Atlantis has a 25 hour day and all members of the expedition adhere to this time format on world and off. On the military clock, 0000 Hours equals 12:00AM and 1200 Hours equals 12:00pm. This means the day on Atlantis starts at 0000 Hours and ends at 2500 Hours. While the people on Earth don’t adhere to that schedule, I’ve labeled scenes on Earth and on the Daedalus on that schedule to keep things orderly and also that you, the reader, don’t lose track of where I am in this very long day.
– – – –
Chase Harris shivered and arched into the bite of Ethan Marsh’s belt. His back was hot with welts and slick with sweat, while his cock was straining painfully against the restriction of his boxers and BDUs. He took two more blows in near silence before groaning, ragged and breathless.
Ethan laughed, low and a little mean. He pressed up against Chase, sliding his free hand around the younger man’s waist. “More, Captain Harris?”
Chase bit down on his lip. How was he to fucking know that having a Dom use his rank like this would be such a turn on? His cock jerked and he hissed at the pain—the zipper of his pants was harsh against the thin, wet material of his boxers. “I’ll take whatever you give me, Sir.”
“Hmm.” Ethan deftly unfastened his belt and opened the BDUs roughly—flicking open the buttons casually before sliding into damp boxers to find his cock. “How about you take off all of your clothes, lay down on my desk and offer me your pretty little ass.”
“Yeah,” Chase nodded his agreement. “Whatever you want.”
“I want to eat you out,” Ethan murmured. “Then I want to fuck you, come in you, and eat your hole some more.”
Chase shuddered at the nasty beautiful idea of it. “No man is barebacking me without a collar.”
Ethan chuckled. “I know—I’m still going to eat you. Fuck you open with my tongue and then slide my cock into your hot ass. I think about fucking you all the damn time—I should spank you for that.”
“You can spank me for whatever you like,” Chase said in all seriousness.
Ethan smirked and released his cock. “Strip.” He walked across his quarters, opened up a desk drawer, and pulled out a leather cock ring which he dropped on the desk. Lube and a condom joined the leather then he stripped off his own clothes. “Bring the belt over here.”
Chase picked up the belt that Marsh had dropped on the floor then walked naked across the room to the nearly empty desk he knew the man rarely used for work. Everyone’s quarters had a small work area even if they rarely used it. Marsh’s laptop was slid into the top desk drawer and Chase handed him the belt. It was an inch and a half wide and well-worn from years of wear. The first time Marsh had used it on him—Chase had come all over himself, barely holding out for permission to do so.
“Put on the cock ring and brace yourself,” Ethan murmured.
Chase shivered as he did as he was ordered—very few Doms had ever pushed his buttons the way Ethan Marsh did. He didn’t kid himself about their emotional connection—it wasn’t quiet there but he knew the Dom wasn’t holding himself back either. They were both letting whatever would happen between them just happen and that was rare enough that Chase found himself being careful and attentive with the private time Marsh gave him.
He put his hands on the desk, palms flat and spread his legs just enough give Marsh a little glimpse of his hole then tilted his hips as he’d been taught. Marsh’s little hum of approval made him relax and close his eyes. It was easy, maybe too easy, to surrender his pleasure to the Navy man. Chase thought perhaps he ought to protect both his heart and his submission better but then Ethan’s belt snapped across his ass and rational thought flicked away.
Marsh worked his ass, thighs, and back perfectly—alternating between harsh, heavy lashes and glancing blows that warmed up his skin deliciously. Pain and arousal blended sweetly and his cock twitched with each snap of the belt. Despite the leather synched around his balls and cock, he was leaking precum like an old faucet.
“God you’re such a pretty boy,” Ethan murmured as he dropped the belt on the desk beside the lube and condom.
“Thank you, Sir.”
Ethan ran his hands over Chase’s back, pressing into the harsh red welts and humming softly under his breath as Harris shivered against the pain. “Lay flat on your stomach.”
Chase bit back a moan as he shifted his body and lay flat on the desk, his hips snug against the edge. He hissed when his cock briefly came into the contact with the cool ancient metal underneath the desk. Harris shifted back slightly and spread his legs so that his cock and balls hung more freely.
“Yeah, that’s good.” Ethan palmed the cheeks of his ass briefly before he grabbed his desk chair and pulled it back over to the desk. He sat down and prodded Chase’s legs a little further apart. “You’re perfect like this—hot and open for whatever I want to do with your pretty little hole.”
Chase had never been more thankful for Tollan crème, actually. The healing, cosmetic crème had a multitude of uses—with the side of effect of keeping skin soft and naturally healthy looking. Before it had come out, anal bleaching had been the kind of cosmetic procedure that many male subs had required to remain attractive. He had no illusions about it—he would’ve had it done as often as it was required because he didn’t want anything to deter a Dom from fucking him or eating his ass for that matter.
Marsh spread him open with firm hands and licked his hole with one broad stroke. Chase let his forehead rest on his arm and he pushed back slightly into the pleasure only to still when Ethan made a small negative sound. A little frustrated but quite relieved by the control the Dom had over him—he relaxed and took what he was given.
Ethan lifted away and then sank his teeth in the already abused flesh of Chase’s ass and the sub reared up off the desk in shocked surprise. Marsh slapped his thigh. “Lay back down.”
Chase’s breath caught and hitched as he obeyed. “My apologies, Sir.”
Ethan slapped his outer thigh again. “Do I need to restrain you?”
“I…” Chase shuddered as Ethan slapped him again and then scraped his nails over the swell of one ass cheek. “Oh God.” His breath hitched and he blinked back tears. It was so good.
Ethan moved closer and ran his hands slowly down his back to settle him. “We still on the same page, Chase?”
“Hell, yes,” Chase whispered hoarsely. “Sir.”
Ethan let one hand stray between his legs and Chase sucked in a breath as blunt, calloused fingers brushed over his bare balls before exploring the length of his cock. “You like my hands on you—better than the belt, even.”
“Yes,” Chase admitted in a ragged whisper, his hips jerked involuntarily as Marsh played with the head of his cock, smearing precum over the sensitive skin with slow deliberation.
“Hold still,” Ethan ordered.
Chase nodded. “Yes, Sir.”
He bit down on his bottom lip as his Dom spread his ass roughly and started lick his hole again. Soft moans escaped his mouth in a small stream every time Ethan’s teeth scraped over his skin and when Marsh turned slightly and bit into him again—Chase stayed still against the sharp, intense pain even as his cock twitched violently within the confines of the leather strap. His balls drew up and he shuddered as he fought off coming. There was no way he could come with a cock ring on.
“Easy boy,” Ethan murmured. “Just relax and let it happen.”
Chase eyes widened briefly and as pleasure ebbed slowly into his belly. “Sir.”
“You watched McKay do this in exhibition,” Ethan murmured. “You aren’t going to ejaculate with a cock ring on but an orgasm is very possible if you relax.”
Dry orgasms were the mark of a highly trained submissive or Dom. Chase knew he had the discipline for it but he’d never been exposed to the training process at La Petite Mort. It was the trade mark of a Courtesan but de Sade wasn’t the only House that strived to teach it, they were just known to be the most successful with male submissives.
Chase gave over—letting his mind go blank as Ethan pushed and abused his willing flesh until he fell into his subspace with a shiver of physical and emotional pleasure. Ethan slid out of the chair and knelt behind him—biting his thighs and ass in a series of long, luxurious pain-filled moments until Chase could take no more. Orgasm rolled over him in a hot, demanding rush while his cock jerked violently against the leather confines of the strap. His knees went weak but Marsh held him in place.
“That’s my beautiful boy,” Ethan whispered. “God, look at you.” He stood, grabbed the lube, and after a few seconds slid two blunt, slick fingers into Chase’s clenching ass. He added a third, roughly prepping a hole he fucked quite regularly, then rolled on a condom.
“Ready for more?” Ethan questioned as he placed one hand on the small of Chase’s back to keep in place.
“Yes, please, whatever you want,” Chase whispered hoarsely. “Please, Sir.”
Marsh pushed into him with one steady thrust, burying himself completely in Chase’s ass. “I could fuck you every single goddamn day and never get enough,” he admitted through clenched teeth as he started to slide in and out of Harris’ body.
“Ethan!” Chase shuddered, his fingers scrambling against the slick surface of the desk. “Fuck, yes.”
“Good?” Ethan demanded as he snapped his hips forward, smacking against the hot flesh of the sub’s ass. He scraped his nails down Chase’s back and laughed softly when the man shuddered and moaned against the pain. “You’re perfect, Chase. So perfect. I could hurt you and fuck you all night.”
Chase lost his grip on time as Ethan fucked him hard and ruthlessly—pounding into his body with all the physical strength and stamina he admired the man for. He came back to into it, pleasure ebbing over his body like a hot flame as Marsh smacked his ass once, twice, and then a third time. Orgasm edged just out of his grasp and he tried to seek it out—let it happen. But it fell away from him and he groaned softly as Ethan fucked into him deeply one more time and rocked inside his ass as he came. His Dom pulled from his hole and stepped away briefly to dispose of the condom.
“Easy, boy,” Ethan murmured as he rubbed Chase’s back. “That’s it, Chase. You’re so pretty and sweet.” He maneuvered him around and Chase gratefully slid astride Marsh’s thighs after the Dom sat down in the chair. “You make me want things I’ve never wanted before.”
Chase shivered as Ethan ran his hands down his back and cupped his ass. A soft groan fell from his lips as he was pulled closer then he jerked in shock as the hot flesh of his cock rubbed up against his Dom’s muscled stomach. “Fuck, Sir.”
Ethan reached down between them and carefully unsnapped the cock ring. “Did you like that?”
“Yes, it was so good.”
“With enough practice, you’d be able to do it without the cock ring and on command,” Ethan murmured. “You relaxed into it perfectly. I’m surprised your Pleasure Master at La Petite Mort never tried to teach you.” Ethan kissed him then, sliding his tongue into Chase’s mouth with ease and skill.
Chase trembled in Ethan’s arms, nearly overwrought with the need to come but desperate to be exactly what his Dom wanted. Marsh broke the kiss with a soft sigh and ran one big warm hand down his back.
“Come for me, pretty boy.”
Chase arched in Ethan’s arms then cried out with relief as he came in thick, hot ropes of semen on his Dom’s stomach. “Ethan.”
“I’ve got you,” Ethan promised. He pulled the submissive close and shuddered as Chase continued to shiver through the aftershocks of orgasm. “You’re safe with me.”
0100 Hours—Atlantis & PX6-H90
John checked his watch and monitored the process as the gate dialed. The wormhole established and he turned his attention towards Declan Frost. “Your team ready?”
“As ever, sir,” Declan murmured. He checked his watch and visually glanced over his team, a team that this time included his submissive. “It’s four hours after sunrise on the planet and we are due to meet with the village’s leadership in just under forty-five minutes.”
John nodded. “I know that Elizabeth suggested Sean for this mission…” He focused on the younger man then and found him outfitted perfectly in field gear.
“He’s as field ready as any Marine you have on his base, Sheppard, maybe even more so. He’s definitely the only person on my team that I don’t have to worry about balking at an order under any circumstances.”
John nodded. “Very well, you have a go. Bring our boys home safe, Chief.”
“Always my first priority,” Declan said.
Seconds later they were stepping through the gate, Declan could almost feel the excitement pouring off his submissive. He rarely allowed Sean off the city for obvious reasons—he was civilian and precious to him so the novelty of gate travel hadn’t worn off for him. Also, he knew that Sean really appreciated Weir’s faith in him to do the treaty work for their new potential ally. Sean had confided earlier in the week that he often felt like the social director for the city considering how much time he spent working on pleasure contracts and maintaining the exhibition schedule, which had expanded in tandem with their population.
“Beautiful,” Sean murmured.
Declan nodded. He had to agree that it was a beautiful world. His gaze flicked over to the horizon where the system’s star was up and two of the moons were still on display. “Yes, it’s a lovely world. We have about thirteen hours of day light so let’s not waste it.”
Sean was the only submissive and the only civilian on his team. The civilian issue was one of design, the other not. Declan’s team had been assigned to him by Major Lorne and he knew the other man had taken all of the field ready people coming to the city and used a lottery system to make up teams loosely based on skills but geared more towards mission perimeters. Every six weeks, the team leaders met with Lorne individually and if teams needed to be adjusted it was discussed then. Declan had no reason to make changes on his team. The men were solid, trained well, and not a single one of them had ever made the mistake of crowding Sean.
John leaned against the doorway of McKay’s private office. It wasn’t far from his own and they’d both been working non-stop nearly all day. He hadn’t had the chance to give McKay instructions on how long he was allowed to work so it was really his own fault that his submissive was going on sixteen hours of work. He knew McKay would work until he dropped if given an opportunity.
“You are in so much trouble.”
McKay looked at him, sly and smirking. “I must protest that, Maître. I have been diligently working at my assigned tasks.”
John tried to remain stern but he failed on a ridiculous level. “You in a place to stop?”
“I am. Did you get Declan and his team through the gate?” McKay closed his laptop and stood from his desk.
“Yes, though they hardly need me to babysit them any more than any other team,” John said and grabbed McKay’s hand as they left the office to head towards their quarters.
“It’s a tradition,” Rodney said. “You only miss a team going out if you aren’t on the city or that one time when you were in recovery from an injury.”
“Did you want to grab some food before we head back to our quarters?”
“I picked up plates for both of us. They are in the cooling unit in our quarters,” Rodney admitted. “You don’t have long to sleep. Aren’t you due back on duty at 0700?”
“Yeah.” John rubbed the back of his neck as they entered their quarters. “Food and sleep are definitely on the agenda.”
The locals weren’t as weird as some that Declan had encountered since joining the Stargate Program. Granted, if someone had told him six months ago that he would be going to other planets to chat with people about trading for food he would’ve had them admitted for a twenty-four hour psych eval. Sean had fully briefed the team on the cultural niceties of the society so they wouldn’t cause any diplomatic issues the first time they’d gone to the planet. This was their sixth visit, though Sean hadn’t been with them the last two times they’d come to visit.
Trade agreements in Pegasus were a mixed bag. Some insisted on written agreements while others were content with verbal agreements. The people of PX6-H90 were of the oral negotiation type though both Sean and a villager whom had been described as a scribe were taking notes on the discussion.
The game on the planet was plentiful and different from what they had on Lantea so one of the things they were trading for was hunting rights. The people in turn wanted help with a few development projects – one of which was a system that would notify them when the gate was activated. It was a security measure they’d provided many of their trading partners. A share of summer crops for a period of ten years would be in return for a naquadah generator. All in all, it was a better deal for the people on the planet than the city itself but another goal of the expedition was to spread the goodwill as much as possible.
The social constructs on various planets differed so much from what they were used to that it was difficult to bridge the gap at times. The expedition had learned early on that providing the people of Pegasus tools to hide and fight the Wraith was a better way of earning their trust.
Chuck brought a full thermos of coffee with him to the gateroom. He wasn’t due on shift for another hour but he’d been restless and out of sorts. Mostly because his bed was empty and a team had left the city without him being at the helm last night. He hated that. Most of the teams left during the day and he was there to make sure they were on time, out of the city on schedule, and that everyone came back on time.
Amelia Banks sent him an amused look but relinquished the chair in favor of the breakfast he’d brought her. He checked the schedule and reviewed the missions that were scheduled to leave for the day.
“Have you updated Sheppard’s PDA?” Chuck asked.
Amelia grinned. “No, I left that for you. I know how you feel about it.”
He was territorial about updating Sheppard’s schedule so he couldn’t even protest. Though most of the Colonel’s schedule was handled by Major Lorne, Chuck was the one to make sure that the Colonel was in the gateroom to send off teams and to greet them when circumstances allowed.
He logged into the server, corrected the schedule where required then made notes on the times when teams had checked in so that Sheppard would be in the loop. Chuck knew he would review it as soon as he woke.
Amelia threw her feet up on the corner of an unused console. “So, you’re looking well rested. I take it your date with Dr. Milford went badly?”
Chuck huffed. “It was like having dinner with my brother or something. We both agreed that we didn’t have the chemistry for a play date despite our well-matched dynamics. My dry spell may never end.”
Amelia chuckled. “If you weren’t so picky, you could get laid two or three times a week.”
“I want…” Chuck sighed and shrugged. “I want more than sex. I never should’ve gone to that exhibition with Sheppard.”
Amelia pulled her feet down and shifted so she could concentrate on him. Chuck didn’t mind the attention. She was a beautiful Domme and while they’d played in the past they weren’t a real match for each other. “What do you mean? Did it upset you?”
“Just… I want that. I mean, I don’t want either one of them but I want to have that intimacy and connection. There is so much love there that it makes me mad that I don’t have it. Not irrational or crazy like that sorry fuck that tried to kill McKay.”
Amelia nodded “I get it.” She nodded. “I think that’s why that Summers chick is really so bent out of shape with Sheppard. She can see what he inspires in McKay and it makes her feel inadequate. Someone like her could never bring that out in someone as strong as McKay.”
Chuck flushed. “Who would’ve thought? I didn’t even get the attraction between them until the exhibition. All of that passion and fire burning between them was beautiful.”
Anne Teldy found her lover and submissive in the shower stall. Allison’s eyes were closed, her head tilted so that her face was taking the brunt of one shower head’s water offering. The others were strategically hitting various parts of her body. Allison was adept at making the Ancient shower treat her like a princess that was for certain.
Anne stripped off the tank top and panties she’d slept in then stepped into the shower stall. Allison stepped back in her Domme’s embrace as Anne clutched one hip. She curled her fingers against Allison’s slick skin.
“Good morning, Madame.”
Anna pressed a kiss against her sub’s neck. “Good morning. You were up before the alarm.”
“Weird dream,” Allison admitted as Anne turned her around. “I was in the lab and Rodney was bitching at Miko about some results like normal and she was ignoring him like normal.”
Anne laughed. “I have this crazy picture of your work day, you know. One day I’m going to follow you around just to see what you do all day.” She pressed a kiss against Allison’s smirking mouth. “So what happened in this weird dream?”
“Well, we are in the lab being bitchy with each other and I looked up and there was a Wraith just standing in the doorway. It just kept standing there and Miko and Rodney were ignoring it and bitching.” Allison shook her head. “So, I woke up.”
“Poor thing dreaming about Wraith,” Anne murmured as she cupped Allison’s breast and rubbed her thumb over the already hard nipple.
She crowded Allison against the wall and claimed her mouth with a hard kiss as she pinched and pulled on the sub’s nipple. Anne made a soft contented sound as Allison slipped one leg around her and pulled her Domme between her thighs.
Anne pulled her mouth free “You need to make me come.”
“As you will, Madame,” Allison agreed with a smile.
Anne turned them and put her back to the wall as Allison slid a hand between her legs. “Like this?”
“Put your fingers in me,” Anne demanded. “Fuck me with them.”
Allison slid two slim fingers into Anne’s cunt and curled them perfectly as she started to move them just the right way. Anne curled her fingers into her sub’s hips and took the pleasure with a shuddery breath. The history between them made pleasure easy and familiar but still unbelievably sweet and perfect.
She lifted one hand and cupped the back of Allison’s head with it to get her attention. “I love you so much.”
Allison flushed, obviously pleased. “I love you.” She buried her face against Anne’s neck. She sucked on the skin there.
Her fingers curled into Allison’s hair, pulling roughly just the way her sub liked. Anne hooked one leg around Allison’s and let her head rest against the wall as orgasm rushed at her, making her body clench down on Allison’s fingers.
Colonel Stephen Caldwell was torn between finding some polite way to tell General O’Neill to kiss his ass or thanking him sincerely for the new scenery. His new XO and the Flight Commander for the X-302 squadron on the Daedalus was so fucking pretty that it was startling. Lt. Commander Lucas Foster, another Navy pilot that O’Neill had lured into the SGC, was probably one of the most talented pilots to come out of the Area 51 project. On paper, he was a fucking dream and Steven had counted himself lucky to get him. He hadn’t requested a submissive for the position on his ship but the dynamic served the crew well—he could already tell a difference in the atmosphere among the civilian and military submissives.
The problem was… Lucas Foster was beautiful, uncollared, and the most tempting submissive to be stationed on his ship in longer than he’d like to think about. He didn’t lead a life of celibacy. There were far too many attractive people on his ship for him deny himself and some military subs got off on having their superiors fuck them. In some cases, just his rank was enough to reduce some of them to shaking.
Lucas wasn’t like that. Like many American submissives, he’d been trained at La Petite Mort. A lily was tattooed in full bloom on his neck just under his right ear—the exact shade of blue as his eyes. His hair was cut short, too short perhaps, but it was regulation and that was more important for pilots than for most others in the program. Long hair could, in some circumstances hinder him, both with the helmets he wore in the X-302 and the flight suits that sealed to the helmets in more dangerous situations.
The commander had joined him for breakfast after a raised eyebrow from across the room had made it clear to Steven that the younger man wanted his attention at the meal. He’d nodded his consent without thinking about it—without considering that his XO might be seeking personal rather than professional attention.
“Matthew Sheppard recommended you for the X-302 program,” Steven said abruptly, shaking loose the idea that Foster wanted more than a working relationship with him. He was far too fucking old to be getting hard for pretty young submissives like Lucas Foster.
Lucas nodded. “Yes, sir, along with fifteen others. Some didn’t make the cut due to physical conditions that made space flight too risky. I’ll be honest—I’ve rarely had a more thorough medical exam in my life.” He shrugged his shoulders a little. “I had to jump through extra hoops when I admitted I was a masochist but that isn’t the first time I’ve had to do that. Remaining flight ready can be difficult for a masochist. One deep tissue bruise could be a killer in some of the planes on Earth. That’s not a very serious issue in the X-302 but still one I have to keep in mind.” He wet his bottom lip. “It makes finding someone I can trust for play… a little difficult.”
“I bet,” Caldwell agreed. “Did you need me to negotiate something for you on board?”
Lucas flushed but his eyes brightened with amusement. “I’m apparently a little rusty at this, Sir.” He slid his hand across the table and trailed his fingers delicately over Steven’s wrist. “Subtlety is getting me nowhere, so… I’d like it very much, Sir, if you’d take me to bed.”
Caldwell set aside his water bottle and regarded the younger man intently. “I’m a sadist.”
“I know but I trust you won’t go further than I can handle or injure me in a way that would prevent me from doing my duty on this ship.”
“You’re on duty until 1600,” Steven began. “I’ll see you in my quarters at 1700. Come prepared—I like my submissive to always be ready for my cock.”
Lucas grinned and he sucked briefly on his bottom lip. “Yes, Sir.”
A meeting with Elizabeth first thing was rare as she didn’t make it a habit to be in her own office before eight in the morning. John had learned long ago to make adjustments for that so to have her hovering outside his door waiting on him was rather a cause for alarm.
“Something wrong?” John asked as he motioned her in ahead of him with his coffee cup. He put his laptop down on the desk and waited for her to sit before taking his own seat.
Weir frowned. “I put Summers on the schedule for discipline. Due to the personal conflict between the two of you, I want Major Lorne to act as my second and handle her health checks.”
John raised an eyebrow at the idea that Weir would need someone to do a health check during punishment. She rarely did more than twenty lashes. “Just how many lashes is she due?”
“Forty.” Weir crossed her arms and cupped her elbow. “Dr. Graham Simmons is the head of Information Systems—he handles all of our computers from Earth, the network, and how our equipment interfaces with Ancient equipment. Last night, he came to my quarters after hours to report a breach in the server that Carson uses for medical records.”
John took a few seconds to steady himself before he could lose his temper because he could already see where this was going and it was infuriating just to think about. “I see. Such a breach is a violation of her contract with the SGC and punishable with a Federal jail term regardless of her desire to receive a physical punishment instead.”
“She opened, read, and downloaded Rodney’s private medical file. The entire, unedited version that Carson was keeping for his own personal use. I’ve already been to visit Carson and he has indicated to me that it was a very thorough account of Rodney’s medical history detailed per conversations he’s had with McKay since his arrival on the city. She did this roughly two hours after your exhibition John and managed to send a copy back to Earth in the databurst last week to someone outside the SGC. We are scheduled for another databurst at 1400 today so… we need to be prepared for what they might send back through and I’ve already prepared a report detailing her behavior, her confession, the punishment that I’ve ordered for our end of things, and the evidence that Dr. Simmons gathered. He apologizes for not noticing the breach sooner—it’s just not something he ever expected to have to deal with outside of an outright attack by an enemy.”
“No, I can’t see how he would,” John murmured. “This is… Rodney is going to fucking lose it, Elizabeth. The things he told Carson were intensely private to him and there is a lot of shame there that we haven’t been able to deal with fully.” He paused. “What about his psych records with Dr. Grant?”
“She tried but Dr. Grant doesn’t keep his patient records on a networked PC. In fact, he’s terribly old fashioned and all of his patient notes are on paper. There is a very small file from the SGC on Rodney but it’s just the basic information that is gathered on everyone – personality type, education, dynamic, social relationships. Nothing that isn’t a matter of record with the SGC.”
“Where is she now?”
Elizabeth pursed her lips and stared at him hard. “In the Wraith cage and that’s where she’s staying until I punish her and ship her off to Earth on the Daedalus.” She slid forward in her chair. “John, I’m asking you as the leader of this city to let me handle this. I promise you, that she is going to suffer for this transgression for many years to come. Her punishment here will be the most severe I’ve ever dealt in my life and she will serve a term in prison on Earth if I have to go back and prosecute her myself. I will lobby to have her sanctioned and excommunicated from the de Sade Institute.”
“I won’t touch her,” John said by way of agreement. “But both you and the SGC must realize that I have no choice but to file a personal grievance with both de Sade and Kesakitan Pembawa concerning her unreasonable interest in my collared submissive and her violation of his privacy. I respect that this needs to be handled in a way that protects the SGC but Rodney’s rights and his privacy have been violated in the most obscene way. I can’t remain silent on the subject.”
“No, and I would be furious with you if you allowed anyone, including myself, force you to remain silent. What she’s done is horrific and…” Elizabeth sighed. “She claims to have sent the records to her own Pleasure Master—a man by the name of Antoine Devereaux who is the House Dom of the New York branch of de Sade. I don’t know who he answers to.”
“He answers to Kyle Napier formally, the House Master for all of de Sade and informally they all answer to the Marques – Gerard de Sade. If you wish, Rodney and I can meet with you later and he can outline what he can about House politics for de Sade as I believe we both are going to need a crash course in the subject soon enough.”
“This is a precursor to her or someone else at de Sade filing a complaint against you,” she surmised. “She wants him—she’s certainly made no secret of that and she doesn’t particularly care if he wants her in return.”
“I’d just as soon shoot her in the face as look at her,” John said bluntly. “I have nothing to fear from a complaint or a House trial, Elizabeth, I have treated Rodney with the utmost care since I met him. There is no evidence of misconduct on my behalf to be found. He is happy with me—satisfied sexually, dynamically content on a level he admits was difficult to achieve before he met me, and I believe given enough time what we have could be a lifelong commitment for us both.”
Elizabeth nodded and stood. “I won’t… she’s under guard but I haven’t barred you from seeing her. I accept your word that you won’t touch her.”
John acknowledged the men on the door leading into the brig with an abrupt nod. His PDA had updated on the guard duty assignment shortly after Elizabeth left his office so he assumed that Lorne was already in the loop. He didn’t actually appreciate the coddling the two of them were attempting on him but he was prepared to deal with it because he appreciated their reasons behind it.
There was a narrow cot in the cage but that was it. The Ancients hadn’t believed in long term imprisonment. At first that had been a real question for the expedition until they’d stumbled across a few dozen records of people who had either been executed outright, used for scientific experimentation, or banished from the city. All of them guilty of such crimes as murder or rape. Behavior modification had been used to rehabilitate lesser offenders. Most of the Expedition had been kind of horrified by the Ancients interpretation of justice. John had found it rather… fitting.
Summers smirked at him and John just gave her a slow, sweet smile in return, which made her blink briefly and advert her gaze.
“When he finds out what you’ve done—he’ll dedicate himself to ruining you both personally and professionally,” John began. “Absolutely no one will be interested in stopping him. This is the last job you’ll hold in your field, Dr. Summers. I hope it was fulfilling enough to last you the rest of your life.”
“He’ll be in no position to ruin me,” Kara muttered. “You can’t even begin to guess what is going to happen next, Sheppard. Enjoy him while you can—de Sade will cut off your collar himself once he reads McKay’s medical records.”
John inclined his head as he considered her words. “You doctored the records. Interesting—we’ll see how that plays out.”
“I didn’t have to doctor anything you sick fuck,” Summers hissed. “Combine those records with the recording I sent my Master of your exhibition… they’ll take McKay from you by force if necessary and you’ll never see him again.” She shuddered in obvious disgust. “I can’t believe how you have the people in this city fooled! You’re a monster! I saw your records, too, Sheppard. Hell, you aren’t even fucking human!”
John stared at her for a moment, his mind racing as he considered the ramifications of his own medical records falling into the hands of a civilian on Earth. “Dr. Summers, you’ll be lucky to ever get out of the jail cell that the SGC puts you in.”
He turned on his heel and left the brig. As soon as he was clear of the doors and down the hall, he activated his earpiece. “Sheppard to Weir.”
“Weir, here, Colonel. I take it everything is in hand with the prisoner.”
“Not quite, I’m on my way to you. Ask Drs Simmons and Beckett to join us please. I have additional questions concerning the security breach. I will be bringing Dr. McKay with me after I brief him.”
“We could meet at 0900? I’ll ask Graham and Carson to come to my office then.”
“Works,” John agreed and killed his radio.
McKay was in the big astrophysics lab so locating him wasn’t a problem. Ruining the good time he was obviously having sort of sucked. McKay and Miko Kusanagi were engaged in animated conversation about wormhole theory, which Dr. Porter and twenty others were watching with some amusement. The only super computer from Earth on the city was in the lab and appeared to be running a simulation that had half the geeks on the city excited.
Rodney turned on his stool and raised an eyebrow. “Hi, did I miss a meeting or something? My PDA didn’t remind me.” Just then the device dinged and he plucked it from his belt with a frown. “Why are we meeting with Dr. Weir in forty-five minutes?”
John inclined his head towards the door. “Let’s go to your office and I’ll brief you. This really can’t wait.”
Rodney sent one longing glance towards the monitor that they were all crowded around and nodded. “Of course.”
John said nothing as Rodney led him into the private office space across from the lab that was maintained for the Chief Scientist. He rarely used the space because he’d learned early on that Kavanaugh had used it for various disgusting and unsavory activities and he didn’t want his people reminded of that when they were in meetings with him.
Rodney poured himself a cup of coffee and settled in a chair across from John, ignoring the large one behind the desk in favor of being close to his Dom. “This has something to do with the fact that Dr. Weir removed Dr. Summers from the schedule, right?”
“She and Lorne kept us both out of the loop until the matter was contained on the city because of our personal issues with Dr. Summers. It was the best course of action to keep ourselves out of legal trouble. Do you trust Dr. Graham Simmons?”
Rodney blinked in surprise. “Yes, very much. He’s a solid Dom with a great personality and a solid professional history. His work ethic is beyond reproach and socially I’ve never even heard a rumor that he was… inept. He trained at La Petite Mort at the Los Angeles branch, is a marked Dom, and plays often but rarely with masochists. He prefers bondage and utter submission. I understand he’s quite talented with sensory deprivation and is very physically fit. But then, most Masters who specialize in Tantric sex are athletic.”
John acknowledged the information dump for what it was. Rodney tended to ramble when he was nervous. “Okay, so you know him fairly well.”
“I’ve never been to bed with him if that is your question. I knew him at Area 51 and at the SGC when he was still in the Air Force. He went into the private sector about six months before you returned to Earth and was one of the first choices I made for the expedition. I put him in charge of Information Systems for the entire city. He’s also helping me program the Ancient database to make it more… functional.”
“He discovered a breach in our network last night—specifically a breach in the infirmary. Carson’s private server was hacked and your medical records were viewed, downloaded, and subsequently sent to Earth to a civilian named Antoine Devereaux. He is the House Dom for the New York branch of the de Sade Institute. Carson has reported that the records she retrieved aren’t the ones he was sent from the SGC but the ones he updated and corrected himself in regards to conversations he’s had with us since your arrival on the city.”
“John.” Rodney’s voice broke with horror and shock as the blood drained from his face.
Sheppard took the coffee cup from his shaking hand and acting more instinct than anything else pulled McKay from the chair and urged to him to his knees. Rodney made a wounded sound and leaned into him—pressing his face against John’s stomach as he was pulled in close.
John trailed his own trembling fingers through Rodney’s short hair. “Elizabeth has in her in the Wraith cage. She’s going to be punished tomorrow and put on the Daedalus for immediate travel back to Earth. She has violated her contract with the SGC and moreover I believe she’s committed treason. I intend to file complaints with both de Sade and Kesakitan Pembawa concerning her behavior but… if she didn’t redact anything that would reveal your location she’s committed treason and they’ll execute her for it.”
Rodney lifted his face and settled back on his heels. “There’s more.”
“She said she’d read my file as well. Simmons didn’t report that my file had been read or downloaded. It concerns me a lot. If she sent my unedited file to a civilian on Earth… she called me a monster, Rodney and said that I wasn’t human. She told me that de Sade would cut my collar off you personally when he read what she’d sent to Earth.” He touched his collar with fingers that were almost steady. “We have a meeting with Carson and Dr. Simmons shortly to figure out what else she might have accessed and sent to Earth.”
“Gerard would never…” Rodney’s hands fisted on his thighs. “A House trial would out the SGC, John. This is a clusterfuck. Declassification is at least ten years out, if then. Many would prefer that the program never be declassified. Why would she do something like this? It doesn’t make any sense. The IOA and the SGC dodged a serious bullet when it came to the Jordan matter and now…” He stood up from the floor and started to pace. “I was privy to a lot of reports coming out of the SGC about the Atlantis mission leading up to you and Weir returning to Earth. I saw more once my clearance was upped and I was allowed to review all the mission records. That morning, before we even met, O’Neill threw two scientist out of the Mountain because they’d submitted a research request.” He paused and turned to look at John. “You were the subject of their research. They were sent to Area 51 and told to basically shut the fuck up. It wasn’t until you told me turned into a bug briefly that I even got what they meant about researching you. I’d originally figured it had something to do with the gene therapy.”
“Let’s go see what Graham Simmons knows,” John said quietly.
“What?” Graham immediately opened up his laptop and started typing. “No….” He frowned. “There are no recorded keystrokes or clicks that indicate that she opened your file, Colonel Sheppard.” He started typing again. “And no breaches on the military server at all.”
Carson cleared his throat. “You didn’t open Rodney’s file, did you, lad?”
Graham shook his head. “Of course not, Dr. Beckett. I would never… do something so base as that. Nor did I view the attached .avi files. I assumed you or Dr. Weir would handle that matter after discussing it with Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay.”
“There was more than one .avi file?” John questioned.
“Three, actually. I didn’t read the email she sent either but provided a copy to Dr. Weir as per SGC policy,” Graham admitted. “Have I made a mistake?”
Carson sighed. “No, lad, not at all. Can you check to see if she followed any internal links in Rodney’s records?”
“Internal links?” Graham muttered. “What internal links? Where would it go?”
“I link the records of collared subs to their Dominant’s medical records for reference, Graham,” Carson explained patiently. “It allows me to oversee their health as a couple and as individuals. It is a common medical practice when a professional sees both halves of a committed couple. It also makes it possible for me to address a variety of medical issues across the board which need not be discussed here.”
Graham nodded, silent and flustered as he continued to type rapidly. “Yes, of course there it is. It’s masked due to the linkage. The system thought it was someone in the infirmary hitting Colonel Sheppard’s records because it filtered through the medical server from Dr. McKay’s files.” He paused and bit down on his lip nervously. “She has your full military record, medical files and roughly 8gig of .avi files.”
“Did she send those to Earth?”
“The packet she sent contained one large document labeled ‘evidence’ and three .avi files two of which are quite large,” Graham explained. “All of which I’ve given to Dr. Weir.”
Elizabeth put a USB drive on the table in front of her. “It’s on this. I haven’t moved it to one of my computers because I was waiting on a report from Dr. Simmons assuring me he’s corrected the security holes he found in the system due to Dr. Summer’s breach.”
“I’ve made changes to the medical server, the classified research server, and the military servers in tower three,” Graham explained. “I still have quite a bit of work to do. While the system is encrypted and requires passwords for various servers by personnel, it simply wasn’t designed to keep our own people out. It was built, stupidly, on trust. I should’ve overhauled the entire system when I arrived but just keeping up with the day to day operations was a nightmare.” Graham rubbed his face. “That is no excuse though so I will accept any discipline you deem necessary without protest, Dr. Weir.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “No, Graham, that mess was created before you even got here and you’ve just been playing catch up since you’re arrival. I do want you to table all active projects while you resolve our security issues and encrypt us like we’re the Pentagon.” She looked toward Rodney. “If you agree, Dr. McKay.”
Rodney nodded and cleared his throat. “Of course, yes, I agree. I’ll make any schedule changes you need, Graham. Both Porter and Kusanagi are above average programmers and have security clearance equal to yours and mine. You can take them both.”
“Dr. McKay,” Graham began and waited until Rodney met his gaze. “I am sincerely sorry for what this breach has cost you already and what it might come to cost you in the future. Please know I would’ve shut this whole place down the day I arrived if I thought for a moment that one of our own would betray us like this.”
Rodney nodded. “I don’t blame you, Graham. I have complete faith in you. Get your team together and do what has to be done. Shut down anyone you have to though be careful with the infirmary as they might need their records and equipment for emergency medical care.” He cleared his throat. “I think the rest of this meeting would be… if you could leave now I’d be grateful, Graham.”
Simmons stood immediately. “Of course, sir. I’ll have a report ready on our progress in four hours and every four thereafter until we’re done.”
Rodney reached out and picked up the USB drive. He opened up his own computer, disabled his network access and plugged it in. “Right well, the email is just a greeting, a sentence and her signature. The sentence itself wouldn’t have tripped any censor alarms at the SGC or on our end before the databurst was encrypted. Not that it matters since encrypting last week’s databurst was one of her duties. It stands to reason she had someone in the Mountain on standby to make sure her efforts weren’t in vain. I doubt she expected to get caught by Dr. Simmons.”
“What was the sentence?” Elizabeth questioned.
“Having a great time.” Rodney frowned and clicked away from the document. He opened up the second document on the USB drive and sighed. “Right, well, these are my records.” He scrolled quickly through them. “Very thorough, Carson, thank you for being such a dedicated doctor.”
Carson Beckett sighed. “Lad, I apologize.”
“No.” Rodney met his gaze. “I was being serious. No one at the SGC has ever paid that much attention to me even when I was married to Sam. Maybe why it was so much easier to confide in you about how bad things were with her.” He returned his attention to the file and continued to scroll. “John’s records as well—starting with his military file which has several veiled references to the death of Jared Holland.” He glanced at John and found him stone-faced. Not an unfamiliar look at all, John often went for blank when he was obviously furious. “Your report on my kidnapping and Scott Holland’s death is here as well. Your medical records, the….” Rodney paled. “You were right.”
“Treason,” John said.
“Treason,” Rodney confirmed. “Atlantis, the Wraith, the retrovirus, your bug incident,” he murmured as he continued to skim the document. “She made a note on that, saying that two of the .avi files were evidence regarding your transformation and the loss of your humanity all of which makes you unfit.”
“For you,” John clarified. “Unfit for you is what she means.”
“Yes,” Rodney admitted with some distaste. “Okay, the third .avi file is labeled with my name.” He clicked decisively and his mouth dropped open.
“McKay?” John asked gently.
“It’s…” He closed the lap top and took a deep breath. “That cunt filmed the exhibition. That is so fucking beyond the pale I can’t even…” He stood up from the table and went to pour himself some coffee. “And she sent it to someone to use against us.” He splashed coffee over the counter but managed to steady himself enough to fill the cup. “I wanted to believe this was bigger than me.”
“I don’t understand what you mean,” Beckett admitted.
“There were problems in the past in the SGC regarding an organization call The Trust. They infiltrated the government and the Mountain itself. They had a pro-Earth, scorched Universe point of view if you get my meaning. They stole weapons from the Asgard and various other peoples around the galaxy before O’Neill shut them down. But it was a tricky and horrible situation. They murdered thousands of Jaffa with a virus geared to kill the symbiotes before it was all said and done. They nearly destroyed our relationships with the Jaffa, Tok’ra, Tollan and Asgard with their actions and they didn’t even care.”
“And you wanted her to be a part of that,” John said.
“It was better than… what’s it turning out to be. I don’t remember having any contact with her before she was approved for the Atlantis mission and sent out here. She wasn’t even part of the SGC when I was on Earth but transferred in from a government think tank funded and controlled by the Pentagon. She looked good on paper, hadn’t been hired by Carter, and as far as I knew hadn’t worked with her on a long term basis.” He paused and shook his head. “Except that Carter came out of the Pentagon—when the SGC started she was working in Washington. Pure academics with a token flight record and a few combat missions so the Air Force could say they had female combat pilots so they didn’t have to acknowledge they had precious few submissive pilots in combat at the time.”
“That’s speculation,” John pointed out.
“No, agreed, they might not have ever had any meaningful contact and Summers motivations are entirely her own.”
“What about Antoine Devereaux?” Elizabeth asked. “Have you ever met him or been to the New York branch of de Sade?”
Rodney shook his head. “I had… limited contact with Doms while I trained at de Sade. Gerard was very strict concerning my education and who was allowed to touch me. No male or females outside of Quebec were allowed to touch me while I trained and before I was collared by Carter I tended to favor de Sade Doms that Gerard knew or were trained at Quebec. It was a matter of familiarity more than anything else.”
“When you went into seclusion after your divorce from Carter,” John began. “You saw a female Domme in Quebec?”
“Yes, Lady Heather Kessler,” Rodney said and paused when they all three turned to stare at him. “What?”
John laughed softly. “It’s just when I think you can’t pull another immensely powerful name out of your hat, McKay, you do. Lady Heather is a living legend.”
Rodney brought his coffee back to the table and cleared his throat nervously. “When I refused Gerard’s personal attention—he sent Lady Heather to Quebec for me. She wasn’t my choice but it was the right decision. I accepted her help and guidance while I was there. I was sequestered the entire time except for one exhibition that took place during an open House weekend on the property. There were many guests, the vast majority of which had no idea they were watching Gerard’s Courtesan. I received a lot of gifts and complimentary notes after the fact. Several invitations were also extended. I answered them all politely. I declined them all as well. I returned to Colorado immediately following my stay in Quebec and returned to work.”
“At which you point, you were eventually introduced to Kevin Jordan who attempted to…” Elizabeth trailed off. “What exactly? I know that you pushed your emergency medical button but the details are sketchy in the report.”
“He touched me,” Rodney said. “Left bruises on my arm where he jerked me around and tried to force me to my knees. He was under the impression that I was a whore. Jordan said I shouldn’t have the right to say no.” Rodney paused and stared pointedly at his coffee. “I broke free of him and pushed my medical alert button. I knew that it would mobilize help in my direction faster than a phone call or even leaving the room myself. Sam had done a lot to undermine my position in the Mountain at that point. I didn’t trust that security respond the way I needed but I knew, despite her failings, that Janet Frasier would come for me immediately. She did and Jordan was warned off me officially by O’Neill.”
“When did Sam Carter file her report with the IOA about your being uncollared and too unstable for the Atlantis mission as a result?”
“Sixteen hours after I put my name on the volunteer list to go to Atlantis,” Rodney said. “I expected something from her—just nothing on that level. It was official and damning. It also solidified my intentions to resign from the SGC at the end of my contract and return to Canada. There are already a lot of organizations within the US government trying to get their hands on me but between the IOA and O’Neill and well, Gerard’s disciples I was sheltered from those ambitions. When I divorced Sam, I stopped designing weapons. The last project I worked on weapons wise was the integration of the Asgard lasers into the X-302s. A lot of people weren’t happy about that but I wasn’t hired by the SGC to build bombs, design guns or fighter planes. I worked in those areas when I was married to Sam because that’s where she worked and she insisted that we work on projects together.”
“So, in the private sector you could name your price?”
“I could name my price in any sector in my own country, the US, France, and the UK. I’ve been offered a variety of incentive packages job wise but Atlantis… well, nothing quite beats that on the research front. Nothing on Earth is exciting as what I’ve found here when it comes to science. That being said, if I’m removed from Atlantis—I will resign from the SGC.”
John figured he’d give up his commission if that happened because he was long past wanting Atlantis if Rodney wasn’t with him. He knew that at least that part of their conversation was going to end up in a report to the IOA. As threats went—it didn’t get any bigger when it came to McKay. He hoped that they realized he would follow his submissive from the program. John figured that at the very least Elizabeth understood it because she glanced at him and her mouth firmed up. A sure sign she was about to dig a trench in the sand and beg a motherfucker to look at her wrong. He’d always liked that about her.
“So you know nothing about Antoine Devereaux. The name isn’t remotely familiar to you?”
Rodney frowned. “Not really. I’ve never had anything to do with the New York branch. I know that Gerard has been unhappy with them, their management, and many of their students since before he himself was marked at de Sade. One of the first things he did when he became the House Master was to clean House in that branch. Unfortunately, such facilities are normally staffed by their past students. As much work as he did, it probably wasn’t enough. I’d heard that there was some discussion of shutting down the facility altogether and distributing their students among the Houses in Canada and in France. It wasn’t done because it would have resulted in a scandal and many would have been reviewed. Marks would’ve been removed. Gerard’s father was ill and the family didn’t want to upset him. Thomas might know more.”
“Evan’s father and brothers trained in New York,” John murmured. “While he trained in Quebec with Kyle Napier. Do you mind if we bring them in for this, Rodney?”
McKay shook his head. “Evan is family and I have little to no secrets from Thomas.”
John really didn’t like that but he’d arranged for Rodney’s sessions with the psychologist and he couldn’t very well be an asshole about it after the fact. Well, he could but it would be untoward and foolish. The last thing he wanted to do was drive Rodney away from him with stupid, juvenile behavior. He turned on his radio and ordered both men to report to the conference room.
They arrived at the same time which wasn’t a surprise, their offices weren’t that far apart and the city’s transporters hadn’t gone off line since McKay had taken over the science department. Another significant point in his favor. They’d been broken more than they worked when Kavanaugh had been in charge.
John said nothing while Elizabeth explained the situation in full. Lorne went through a series of emotions and seemed to settle on completely furious while Grant kept his expression cool and neutral through most of the briefing. He sent several concerned looks Rodney’s way as things were laid out but didn’t say anything until Elizabeth asked if he had any questions.
“Did you want me to evaluate her mental state?” Thomas questioned. “It’s probably best if we eliminate any mental or medical issues concerning her behavior.”
Elizabeth and Carson both nodded. John couldn’t give a fuck less. He wanted to cut her head off but that wasn’t the sort of thing you admitted in front of most people. Dato’ Raja had taught him that.
“What do you know about the man she sent the information to?” John asked.
Thomas frowned and motioned towards the coffee pot. He left the table when John nodded. “Not much, sir. He’s a loose cannon within the House and Gerard has had his eye on him for years. He is outspoken in his support of the Ownership Act, which has earned him no favors with Napier nor the Peer Board within in de Sade itself. The New York branch was opened in the 1940s due to political pressure from the US. La Petite Mort was dominating the pleasure education market in the US and Franco de Sade, my uncle and Gerard’s father, couldn’t have cared less. Still, the President of the US asked de Sade to have a presence in his country and Uncle Franco reluctantly agreed. The New York branch came to be out of that.” He brought John coffee and refilled McKay’s cup as he talked.
“It wasn’t the only thing he asked for but it was the only concession that was made. Many wanted de Sade to open their doors like La Petite had and become more mainstream. They found our elitist ways and invitation only policy exclusionary to say the least. Franco eventually turned leadership of the House over to my father, from there it passed to Lady Heather Kessler who held the position of House Mistress of de Sade until Gerard was marked and deemed ready to take his place as the Marques. When he chose to train his Courtesan,” Thomas paused and glanced briefly at Rodney. “He let it be known that Kyle Napier would succeed him. It was quite a scandal internally as there were many other, older and more experienced, instructors who thought they deserved it more.”
“So Napier faced opposition?” John questioned.
“No.” Thomas brought a cup of coffee for Evan to the table and settled himself. “Not at all. Gerard’s word was law and though it hardly needs to be said… it still is. He has come close twice in the past five years to accepting the title, which would change the dynamics of the de Sade Institute for generations to come. There is a vivid difference between being the de facto Marques de Sade and actually being the Marques. He only has to claim it… just as all the men before him who left it alone in honor of Donatien Alphonse François.” Thomas sighed. “This could be the straw, I’m afraid. The situation is untenable and will likely result in a House trial no matter how many fight the matter. Devereaux has probably already filed a complaint with the Peer Board. That is if he actually received the files Summers sent. We can still hope that someone at the SGC stopped them.”
John had no faith in that. He focused on Lorne who was staring intently at his coffee. “Evan.”
“I know him,” Evan said simply. “Not intimately or anything but I met him when I was younger. I was staying with my father in New York and had just finished my second session with La Petite Mort. I was nineteen, in the Air Force Academy, and my father had pretty much blackmailed me into visiting him for a few weeks that summer. My grandfather had just started to take an interest in politics again and it was made clear to me that I would make time for my father or he’d make things very difficult for my granddad so I went to New York.” Evan all but slouched back in his chair, which surprised John—the man had a very rigid body posture when he was on duty and rarely let it fall away while in uniform.
“Antoine Devereaux attended a party my father threw my first weekend there and I was introduced to him. His first comment to my father about me…” Evan sighed. “I was an attractive kid.”
“No doubts,” Thomas said with a little grin and Evan laughed.
“Right. Well, Devereaux said it was a damn shame I wasn’t a submissive because he’d love to fuck me. My father laughed and said he could have me regardless.” His hand tightened into a fist. “I told him if he put his hands on me, I’d castrate him.”
“I take it he backed off?” John asked.
“Clear across the room,” Evan confirmed. “He did stay the whole weekend and shared several submissives with my father. Later, my father berated me for not entertaining Devereaux because it would have been good business for him to get in good with the man who was in line to be the House Master of de Sade. Sixteen months later, I received an invitation from the New York Branch of de Sade to train. I contacted Quebec’s branch and explained that I was honored to be invited but that I couldn’t see myself training in New York. Three hours later, I was on a plane to Quebec where I met Kyle Napier. I took leave from the Air Force and trained under him for seven months. He marked me just a few days before he was named de Sade’s successor.”
“Antoine Devereaux never had a snowball’s chance in hell of taking Gerard’s place,” Thomas said. “He didn’t get past the first cut. That he was bragging about getting the position two years before it even happened is startling.” Thomas rubbed the back of his neck. “Colonel, Dr. Weir indicated that you’d spoken to Dr. Summers. What did she say to you?”
“That I was a monster and that when Gerard found out I wasn’t even human he would cut my collar off McKay. She said I’d never see Rodney again by the time de Sade was done.”
“Gerard is perfectly aware of your medical history,” Thomas said. “I was with him when he was briefed by the President and I can assure you—that incident was the furthest thing from his mind when it came to your relationship with McKay.” Thomas shrugged. “You could be an alien with two dicks and tentacles and Gerard wouldn’t give a shit as long as McKay was happy.”
“Two dicks,” John repeated, shocked.
“Right, well, he might be jealous over that. The man is a perfect glutton,” Thomas corrected.
John laughed and relaxed a little. He was still furious but the psychologist had taken the edge off it which was probably the his intent all along.
1000 Hours—Earth, Stargate Command
Major General Jack O’Neill rather liked the peace and quiet that had come from seeing both Carter and McKay out of his Mountain. Granted, McKay hadn’t been to blame for a lot of the stress but the snarky bastard was loud when he wasn’t happy and he hadn’t been happy in years as far as Jack could tell. What he didn’t like was politics and what he liked less were social politics.
“And this rumor about abuse charges being levied. How serious is it?”
Randolph Rampart shook his head. “Unknown, the Peer Board for the Institute has the complaint and there are no disciples on the board at this time. The decision hasn’t reached Kyle Napier’s desk. We don’t know what they have, who reported it, or even a hint of what might come out of it. What I do know is that the de Sade Institute Peer Board requested files on John Sheppard from the Corps, Kesakitan Pembawa, Lotus, and La Petite Mort. The file they received from me was almost entirely blacked out but John is active duty military on a top secret mission which was impressed upon them.”
“Dato’ Raja responded as well I take it?”
Rampart exhaled sharply. “Yes. He has also spoken with Gerard, Philippe Dubois, and Patrick Sheppard in the last sixteen hours. Conversations that I have not been privy to so I have no idea what the Peer Board asked of him.”
“When this comes down the chain of command…” Jack’s jaw tightened. “It could ruin his career, Randolph. That man lives, fights, and has almost died repeatedly for this planet. It needs to be said that there are people attached to the SGC that aren’t above killing to keep our secrets.”
“This is not going to ruin John Sheppard’s career,” Rampart snapped. “He’s mine, O’Neill. I let you borrow him but that man and all the Marines he took with him to Pegasus belong to me and absolutely fucking no one messes with my boys and gets away with it. Am I clear?”
“Crystal,” Jack assured. “Is there anything you can tell me?”
“It was civilian—the complaint. A soldier on Atlantis would have filed a complaint with you or the JAG office. If he thought neither would listen he or she would have come to me or a former commanding officer for advice or help. It’s how we do things—you know that.”
“Agreed.” Jack sighed. “McKay handpicked the majority of the people he took back to Pegasus. Anyone left over from the original expedition who had a serious problem with Sheppard would have probably transferred back to Earth the first chance they got.” He tapped the legal pad in front of me. “That being said there are a few people we should consider that are on Earth. Sam Carter, Lt. Aidan Ford, and Dr. Calvin Kavanaugh immediately come to my mind.”
“Ford is the Marine that was in love with John—the one he sent back to Earth. He’s still in the care of La Petite Mort. Philippe Dubois has suggested a compassionate discharge. The boy is… damaged by what happened to him in Pegasus and his unrequited feelings remain. I asked Philippe if Ford was a threat to John and he didn’t believe so. That being said, he said he would question him regarding the complaint that has surfaced.”
“There is also the matter of Kevin Jordan.”
Rampart snorted. “That man doesn’t take a piss without it being directly reported to Patrick Sheppard. He’s been under surveillance since he was brought back from Singapore. He so much as breathes in the general direction of that family and Patrick will kill him. I have no doubts. He took a medical discharge and can’t walk without the benefit of a cane. I have to think if he was going to seek revenge it would be against Raja himself.” His phone dinged and he pulled the Blackberry from a pocket.
Jack watched him read the small screen in silence. “Well?”
“Email just came down from Kyle Napier—the Peer Board of the de Sade Institute has issued a formal notification to all three of the men who trained John Sheppard. He is to report to them within forty-five days with his collared submissive for House trial. It’ll be held in New York. They have also insisted on a list of witnesses: Major Evan Lorne, Lt. Commander Matthew Sheppard, Dr. Thomas Grant, Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and a Dr. Kara Summers. I assume you’ll get an official request for Dr. Jackson’s attendance.”
“Jesus Christ,” Jack muttered and stood. He went to the small bar his admin kept stocked for visitors and poured them both a drink. “This is… there is more? Your face is white.”
“John is being charged with abuse, purposeful endangerment of his collared submissive with the intent to damage, maim or murder, failing to allow his submissive to receive proper care after injury during an exhibition, and coercing a de Sade Courtesan into accepting a collar. They have also requested that he receive a full psych evaluation before he presents himself for trial.” Rampart cleared his throat. “Gerard’s fitness as a social guardian has also come into question.”
“They know… he’s not immediately available and they also know that Thomas Grant is stationed with him because they indicate that he can conduct the mental evaluation as he is trusted due to his own time as an instructor for de Sade,” Rampart continued.
“Officially, Thomas Grant is stationed here in the Mountain and Sheppard is McMurdo,” Jack said bluntly. “Someone has been talking out of school, General.”
“You’ve committed treason,” Thomas said as he watched from his chair. Kara Summers was stalking around the cell, muttering to herself and glaring at him periodically.
“Sometimes a good person has to do the wrong thing to make things right,” she defended. “No one here seemed to care what was going on and how damaged McKay is already because of Sheppard. Something had to be done. He actually let that monster beat him bloody in public. You were trained properly, Dr. Grant, surely even you have to admit that John Sheppard is dangerous.”
“He is likely the most dangerous man I’ve ever met,” Thomas agreed. “But he’d never purposely damage McKay or cause him hurt in a way that wasn’t agreed upon. Your misconceptions concerning their dynamic is not particularly unique. Many people don’t bother to educate themselves concerning the intricacies of sadism and masochism.”
“I understand just fine,” Kara snapped. “What I don’t get, Dr. Grant, is how all of you just allowed it to continue when it became obvious that Sheppard surpassed any humane limit! I would’ve interfered if I’d thought it would do any good. Sheppard isn’t a sadist – he’s a sociopath and it’s only a matter of time before he kills McKay. I had do something. It was my duty.”
“You committed treason to save McKay from Sheppard?”
“And if I told you that I attended that exhibition and saw nothing untoward or unacceptable happen?”
“Then you’re just as sick and fucked up as Sheppard is.”
“I look forward to breeding you for the gods,” the village leader said, his smile cruel and demeaning as he trailed fingers down the side of Sean Taylor’s face.
Declan’s struck the second the man’s fingers touched Sean’s face. His combat knife was in his hand and the man’s entrails spilled out as he fell to his knees in shocked horror. Sean gagged and immediately turned his face but Declan was already pulling him close and ordering the others to move. They had precious little time before the rest of the village realized that negotiations had failed. They exited the small dwelling right into the arms half the village—all of them armed to the teeth.
Watley introduced the first four he saw to his advanced projectile weapon. Bodies dropped, each with a heavy, meaty thud and silence reigned for roughly thirty seconds. Then… all hell broke loose.
The weight of the 9mm in his hand wasn’t foreign and he fired it without hesitation. Sean hadn’t been trained for war but he’d been taught by his Master to survive. Staying at Frost’s side in close quarter combat had been one of the most trying training exercises they’d done before leaving Earth. He’d had to up his game in hand-to-hand skills when they’d started asking people around the city to help them train for it. No one had taken him from his Dom in months in the training exercises and he’d be damned if it was going to happen today on another world so very far from the safety of Atlantis.
Sean turned into Declan just as the arrow struck and he took his Dom’s P-90 which he leveled at the archer. He emptied half a clip in the man before his body caught up with the idea that he was dead and tipped backward into the high grass of the field they were attempting to escape across. The safety of the forest beckoned and Sean had excelled in rural exercises. He hauled Declan close to him and pulled him towards cover.
Rodney was silent while John informed his brothers and Miko of the situation. Ethan had gotten up and started to pace half way through the conversation. Matthew on the other hand had retreated inward, his eyes were closed and he was head resting against the back of the couch.
When John finally stopped speaking Matt cleared his throat. “This is going to… it could ruin your career, John.”
That particular circumstance hadn’t even crossed Rodney’s mind. It made him instantly furious—that Summers and her agenda with Devereaux could ruin something that was so important to John.
“My career survived Daily and Kevin Jordan. It’ll survive this or I’ll resign my commission,” John said shortly. “My career isn’t a concern for me at this point, Mattie.”
Matt glared at him. “It fucking should be! Goddamn it, John, how long do you think this city would last against the Wraith without you here? How long without McKay? He’s kept this damn place from literally exploding four times since he got here! Summers and some asshole on Earth are playing game while we’re out here fighting a war!”
“I could, in theory, come back as a civilian,” John said simply. “The IOA isn’t going to want to part with me… but the fact is that if they press charges, it goes to trial, and I’m found guilty… I’ll never see this city again.”
“John,” Rodney began, his voice breaking. “What do you mean? What does that fucking mean?”
“He gave his life over to Dato’ Raja,” Ethan said quietly. “Swore if it was decided that he was a danger to others because of his dynamic that he would welcome a mercy killing. He made that pledge when he was fifteen years old.”
John took a deep breath. “Even if Dato’ Raja doesn’t agree with de Sade’s ruling; he’d probably require me to return to Singapore for my own safety. I’d never be able to leave the island again. If he’s able to gain social custody of me—he’ll have to swear to it that I’ll never have any unsupervised time with a submissive again. In some ways, the stripping of my privacy would be more heinous than death.”
“This isn’t going to trial,” Rodney snapped. “I’ll fucking ruin them all first. Devereaux and Summers—they’re already done but I’ll take a part the entire New York branch of de Sade if they persist with this utter bullshit.”
1400 Hours—Earth, Stargate Command
Atlantis dialed in right on time. For once, Jack thought, he would’ve liked a little more time to gather himself. He put his hand on Walter’s shoulder and activated his radio. “Dr. Weir, I need a private channel.”
“Of course, General O’Neill. I’m in my office with Colonel Sheppard so we have privacy. We are sending the databurst now and I have some information to relay after you.”
Jack pursed his lips. “You first.”
“I think our matters are related, sir. In the databurst last week, a Dr. Kara Summers managed to smuggle data back to Earth. Private medical data for Dr. McKay and Colonel Sheppard. His entire, unedited military record was also sent, along with classified mission reports regarding the Iratus incident. They were sent to a man named Antoine Devereaux. He is the House Dom for the New York branch of the de Sade Institute.”
“She’s in custody?”
“Yes, but it is very likely that she had an accomplice on your end to make sure her data left the SGC. Tell me your situation.”
“I am being forced by the Pentagon to recall the following people to Earth. They are return to Earth on the Daedalus. Colonel John Sheppard, Lt. Commander Matthew Sheppard, Major Evan Lorne, Dr. Thomas Grant, Dr. Rodney McKay, Dr. Janet Frasier and a Dr. Kara Summers.”
“We anticipated a few of those names but not all. We’ll be sending Dr. Summers through the gate today. She’ll be restrained and we recommend you place her in custody to prevent her from seeking out her co-conspirator in the Mountain.”
“Understood.” Jack took a deep breath. “I’m sending through orders for Colonel Caldwell. He’ll temporarily take Colonel Sheppard’s place on the city while John will bring the ship back to Earth. I need to speak with Sheppard privately, Elizabeth.”
“I’m here, sir. Dr. Weir is stepping out of her office now.” John sighed. “Is this as bad as I think?”
“Worse,” Jack admitted. “We should be demanding your return to Earth through the gate today but Rampart wants the next two weeks to rattle some cages and attempt to put out a few fires. We’re in the process of getting copies of the information they have. What do they have, John?”
“Summers sent a civilian my medical records, .avi files of me turning into a humanoid blue bug, and all the data on the Iratus research. She also sent him a recording of an exhibition McKay and I did here on the city. The recording was made without permission. I’ve never consented to being filmed—not even during training. Rodney is extremely offended by that in particular. She committed treason, sir, and violated her contract with the IOA and the SGC left, right and center. Elizabeth planned to whip her mute tomorrow so she’s a little disappointed in today’s outcome but I think it’s best if we get her off the city ASAP and I can’t see traveling two weeks back to Earth on a ship with her. McKay would space her given half a chance.” He paused and sighed. “She thinks I’m a monster and a sociopath, General. That is exactly what she told her Pleasure Master and what he surely what he passed on to the Peer Board.”
“You know about them?”
“I have several de Sade Doms on the city, sir. I’ve been thoroughly educated concerning the hows and whys of their trial system.”
“I’ve also sent orders for Dr. Grant, Colonel. He is to evaluate you psychologically for his House and will be a witness for de Sade at your trial. Rampart is going to do his best to stop this and do know that Gerard de Sade has been ripping people to shreds for half the day. This promises to be a very stressful event for you but I’ve got your back and these sons of bitches aren’t going to… well they just aren’t going to do whatever they think they want which I don’t know but I’m prepared to space a few assholes myself.”
1500 Hours—Earth, New York branch of the de Sade Institute
Randolph Rampart had a gun in Antoine Devereaux’s face while Mason Blake was making copies of the files that the man had been sent. They’d found out, too late, that classified mission data had been leaked to the Peer Board. Both the board and Devereaux had refused to give Kyle Napier copies. So, Rampart had gotten the Apollo to beam him and Mason right into the prick’s office.
“I’ll have you sanctioned for this,” Devereaux hissed.
“I’m considering blowing your head off to protect national security,” Rampart returned evenly and watched the other man pale dramatically. “Let’s be clear, Devereaux, what you’ve learned from these files is so classified that sending it to anyone else will result in charges of treason being levied against you. In theory, the Secretary of Defense might believe that you didn’t know what you had when you sent it to the ten men and women on the Peer Board but now you do. If you value your life, you’ll keep your mouth shut until a government lawyer shows up with the non-disclosure agreement you have no choice but to sign.”
“I can refuse,” Devereaux protested.
“And you’ll end up taken into protective custody and shipped off the planet. You wouldn’t be the first civilian that’s happened to—when it was decided by the powers-that-be that they couldn’t be trusted to keep their fucking mouths shut. Dr. Summers has already been put in a cell on another planet. She won’t be returned to Earth until the day of the trial and immediately thereafter she will be sent back to the off-planet facility where she will spend what time she has left.”
“Time left?” Devereaux questioned. “She is marked student. I demand to see her.”
“She might as well be dead already, Devereaux,” Rampart returned evenly. “The punishment for treason is death and there are no extenuating circumstances valid enough for what she’s done. Even if by some horrid twist of fate, John Sheppard was found guilty, she’d still be killed.”
1600 Hours—Quantico, VA—Office of Special Agent in Charge Aaron Hotchner
Gerard was watching the footage of the exhibition for the second time—this time with one of the men he had trained and marked before he’d chosen his Courtesan. Aaron Hotchner had come to de Sade fresh out of college and shortly before law school. He’d been delicious—a sadist with a large appetite for play and most especially sex.
His submissive, Dr. Spencer Reid, was leaning against the corner of the desk his gaze fixated on the flat screen they were watching. Fortunately the footage showed nothing really of Atlantis and didn’t appear to be all that different that public exhibition venues on Earth. Still, he’d arranged permissions for them to view the video with the President and they’d signed a disclosure agreement before hand. He needed to make sure he wasn’t missing anything because there was nothing in the video that put him off or upset him. He just wasn’t seeing what the Peer Board had apparently seen in the video.
The footage went dark shortly after John Sheppard came—it was a heady and fascinating image. The exhibition hadn’t been much different than what he’d witnessed in Singapore except there’d been blood play. That had been the only thing and John had handled that very well in Gerard’s opinion.
“Well?” Gerard asked softly.
Aaron cleared his throat and shook his head. “They have an intense and beautiful dynamic mesh. He obviously cares very much for Rodney and the trust he has earned from his submissive in the short time you’ve said they’ve been together is staggering. You said this was originally a political arrangement?”
“That was the appearance they made,” Gerard conceded. “But I met with them shortly after collaring and already I could see that Sheppard was emotionally involved. Probably more emotionally involved than he planned for to be honest. I saw them together in Singapore. It was exciting but also… discomforting to see my Courtesan give himself over to so completely to another Dom. I never expected to see something like that honestly. Rodney always held himself a step back from the men and women he allowed to dominant him. His submission was very difficult to earn.”
“And you felt like John Sheppard didn’t have to work for it as hard as you did,” Aaron surmised.
“Yes, perhaps.” Gerard shrugged.
“Spencer?” Aaron questioned. “What do you think?”
“He’s beautiful,” Reid murmured as he picked up the remote and restarted the video. He skipped ahead a half-dozen frames and then paused it. “He rarely speaks during the entire scene but it’s highly choreographed. They arranged everything in advance—that much is clear. Both are comfortable performing and the arousal from the audience is exciting for them. Here he’s touching McKay—grounding his submissive to the moment with just his hand on his back. This is… I’ve never seen anything like this in a public exhibition. Then the kiss on his shoulder is so amazingly intimate and profound that they might as well be making love right there on the stage. I take it they didn’t consent to this recording?”
“No, they did not,” Gerard admitted.
“I’m not surprised,” Spencer murmured. He turned it off abruptly. “It is a gross abuse of the trust they gave their audience that this was recorded. The recording itself is such a violation that I’m a little hurt on their behalf.”
Dr. Sean Taylor rarely went off-world. Most of the military thought him little more than a pet, though none so much as looked at the young, beautiful sub with anything more than the utmost respect. None of the men that served under Declan Frost had a death wish, after all.
Sean looked up from the weapon he was field stripping, his expression grim. “Sir.” He moved closer to his Dom and pressed the back of his fingers against Declan’s forehead. “You’re burning with fever.”
“Doesn’t hurt much,” Declan murmured.
“I don’t think that’s good at all,” Sean admitted. “I ran out of morphine an hour ago. Watley is trying to draw the searchers away from us and Finley went for the gate—they didn’t want to leave us but I didn’t think it was safe for you to travel.”
Declan nodded. “How bad is it, Sean?”
“If we can get you back to the city and under one of those awesome healing wands before serious infection sets it—you’re fine.”
“If not?” Declan demanded.
Sean’s expression shuttered briefly. “Then you might lose your leg just above the knee, Sir.” He ran his fingers, steady and calm, along his Dom’s jaw line. “I won’t let you die.”
Declan’s gaze flicked around the small cave he’d been dragged into. There were two bodies on the opposite side of them. “Did you kill them?”
“Yes, they found us shortly after Watley left,” Sean said shortly. “I dragged the bodies in here to prevent them from being seen. We can’t expect a check-in for another two hours, maybe more. Depends on who’s on gate duty and if they decide to give us a little room on our check-in time.”
“Fucking milk run,” Declan muttered. “Pre-industrial society, no Wraith contact, friendly, great food options, open to trade – every single one of those phrases should be red flagged.”
Sean offered his Dom a grin and put the 9mm back together. He put in a fresh clip. “I don’t suppose anyone anticipated a sex ritual—they are extremely rare in Pegasus. McKay says the place is full of puritans and space vampires.”
Declan nodded, his jaw tight with fury and a small amount of pain that was starting to edge back into his senses. “That last shot of morphine is starting to wear off.”
“I hate to say that’s a relief but it is. If you’re leg were going numb on you…” Sean sighed. “I cleaned it up the best I could—removed the arrow but I have no way of knowing what the fuck they might have put on the arrow head. I broke it off and bagged it for investigation in case you’ve been poisoned.” He leaned in and kissed his Dom carefully. “I could’ve… endured what they wanted to keep you safe, Declan.”
“I know.” Declan ran a shaking hand through his submissive’s hair. “But I couldn’t… I couldn’t let those bastards touch you. Never, Sean. You’re mine.”
Sean leaned forward and let his forehead rest against Declan’s. “Until my last breath, Sir.”
“Until mine,” Declan corrected. “Listen to me, Sean, you’re a civilian on a military base full of extremely toppy sons of bitches… if I don’t make it…”
“No, Christ, don’t even talk like that,” Sean whispered fiercely, his fingers fisting in the soft material of Declan’s t-shirt.
“If I don’t make it,” Declan began again—stronger and more determined. “Surrender yourself immediately to Colonel Sheppard’s social guardianship. Claim House Rights to his protection – he’s the highest ranking Dom on this city and he did train at La Petite Mort. Promise me, you’ll do it.”
“I promise,” Sean whispered and then moved away from his Dom to blink back tears he refused to shed. “You bastard.”
Declan laughed softly, sad and relieved in the same moment. “I love you, Sean. I’ve never loved anyone so much.”
Sean nodded, hurt and furious as he picked up the P-90 and checked the ammunition in it. “I’m going to kill every man on this fucking rock. And if you die, I’m going to blackmail McKay into building me a bomb so I can blow this fucking place back to the goddamn stone age.”
“That’s my man,” Declan murmured. He startled briefly when static snapped over the radio he still had in his ear. It snapped three more times and then silence. He hesitated briefly before he touched it—clicking it in the same pattern, producing matching static.
“Master Chief, this is Colonel Sheppard, please respond.”
“Sir,” Declan closed his eyes in relief. “My team has been separated—we’re situation red and need immediate medical evac.”
“I took an arrow in the leg—probably poisoned,” Declan said quietly. “It doesn’t hurt as much as it should.”
“Dr. Taylor.” Declan handed him the radio.
“Here, Colonel Sheppard.”
“Status on your Dom and the rest of your team?”
“The Master Chief is running an extremely high fever, has little pain despite the fact that I pulled an arrowhead the size of a fifty-caliber round out of his lower thigh. It went into the bone. He was also in several physical altercations in the village in our escape and has at least three broken ribs, Sir.” Sean moved around the small cave, policing the brass from his discharged weapon. “I’ve killed two natives at our location—we only have two radios. Finley took one to the gate and left me with the other. Watley is probably running around the place—at this point hunting natives because he is pissed.”
“Repeat that, Dr. Taylor, you’ve killed two natives?” Sheppard asked in a quiet, firm tone.
“Yes, three confirmed kills but only two managed to find our hiding place so far,” Sean said neutrally. “I did my best to kill several others as we were escaping the village—no accurate count on that.”
“Sort yourself and your Dom for evac – my ETA to your location is five minutes. I’ve a second Jumper in the air and they have locations on both Finley and Watley. Looks like Finley is alive and back in the village.”
“I suggest, respectfully, Sir that your men acquire Finley first—the natives were very interested in him and me for their little celebratory sex ritual. Consent wasn’t required.”
Sean listened with half an ear as Sheppard snapped out orders to the city and to the people he had on the planet. After he’d set all of their things to rights, he went back to his Dom and worked on rewrapping the leg wound which had bled through. Declan didn’t make a single sound through the whole process.
“As manly as your silence is,” Sean began lowly. “I’d appreciate knowing if this hurts even half as much as it should.”
Declan laughed weakly. “Ah, fuck, Sean. I don’t even feel the left side of my body at this point.”
Sean’s mouth firmed up and he took Declan’s right hand in both of his. “Do you feel this?”
Sean leaned in and pressed a soft kiss against his Dom’s palm. “You promised me a lifetime, Declan, you’re not allowed to die like this—on some backwater planet in the middle of nowhere. We’re going to retire to some fantastic white sand beach in the tropics and live on love until we’re a hundred.”
“Yeah, that was the plan,” Declan agreed. He coughed roughly and blood slicked his lips when the perimeter alert sounded. “Did you set that up?”
“Yeah,” Sean said. “I didn’t forget what you taught me.” He leveled his weapon at the entrance to the cave and lowered it just a fraction of an inch when a Marine he barely knew appeared in it.
“Easy, Doc.” The Marine held out a hand in supplication. “Found them, Sir!”
Sean lowered the weapon as Sheppard appeared and slowly holstered it as the Marine shouldered out of a field pack. “Colonel.”
“Let Benning check on the Master Chief,” Sheppard ordered as he glanced around the cave. He took in the two bodies, the small stockpile of weapons, and Sean’s neat little fire near the entrance. “Okay, let’s sort you back to the Jumper, Dr. Taylor.”
Sean started to protest, his fingers curled around the grip of the 9mm still in his hand.
“Go, Sean.” Declan reached out with his right hand and touched his submissive. “You stay with the Colonel until I wake up.”
Sean’s eyes flickered closed once then he was on his feet. He plucked his pack from the ground and let Sheppard him take him away from his Dom. His stomach was churning with helplessness and fury as he was prodded into a passenger seat near the front of an empty Jumper. He hadn’t even looked at the other Marines that were on the ground with Sheppard.
John squatted down in front of his chair then, and carefully took the handgun from his trembling hand. “He’s a strong man, Sean.”
“He ordered me to surrender myself to your social guardianship if he doesn’t… make it,” Sean whispered and ignored the men who were coming back into the Jumper. “I… will probably need to be put on a suicide watch if that happens, just so you know. Just thinking about doing it makes me want to cut my own throat and I can see myself losing my mind if he dies.”
John cleared his throat and casually pulled the knife from Sean’s leg holster as he stood. “You don’t move from this chair, Dr. Taylor, understood?”
John watched Declan Frost loaded into the back of the Jumper, Benning already had an IV in him and had cut away most of his clothes in preparation for the surgery he was going to need. He knew that Carson was already prepping a team. He touched Sean’s shoulder, briefly to settle the sub and remind him that he wasn’t alone. It felt wrong—to touch the younger man—he never had before, not even in a formal greeting situation.
The worry and grief on Sean’s face was gut wrenching. The separation that Declan had forced on him was something John actually understood. He wouldn’t want Rodney to watch him die either. John grimaced and lifted the Jumper off the ground. His team had reported in shortly after they landed that they’d secured both Watley and Finley—and the village on the planet had been all but flattened. He was furious at the leadership of the village who had put one hand out in friendship all the while they planned to abuse the men he’d sent to the planet to negotiate for trade. Their duplicity and dishonesty had cost lives and might cost them Declan.
On Atlantis, he followed Frost to the infirmary and prodded Sean into a chair. Miko and Matt appeared practically out of thin air and settled in around Taylor. He wasn’t surprised when Rodney arrived a few minutes after them with food for Sean which he forced the younger man to eat.
“Watley, talk to me,” John said quietly.
Master Sergeant Joseph Watley was one of the heaviest combat assets on the planet—a ten year veteran, former Recon, and all around complete bad ass. He’d been with the mission since the first year.
“Sir, we entered the village shortly before we were officially scheduled to be there. The leader, a man named Charlus, met us and appeared to be friendly as always. Too friendly, in retrospect, but at that time there was nothing about his behavior that made me question him. We were invited to share a meal with them—the Master Chief agreed as we had expected from previous contact with the village that we’d be asked to eat with them.”
John nodded. He knew that Frost had been to the planet several times in the last month. “Alright.”
“Charlus was curious about Dr. Taylor—asked the Master Chief some questions that weren’t too personal. It was clear he really didn’t understand us our social customs regarding partnerships but he wasn’t offensive. The Master Chief didn’t appear to be tense or ill at ease until Charlus mentioned the ritual that we’d be attending in the evening. He said that Dr. Taylor would be the most appropriate of our party to participate because of his slave status.”
John hissed under his breath. “This was the second time that Dr. Taylor had been on that planet, correct?”
“Yes, Sir, during his first visit he met with several people in the village but had no direct contact with their leader.” Watley glared at the floor for a few seconds before continuing. “The Master Chief explained to Charlus that Dr. Taylor was not, in fact, a slave but his bonded mate. That seemed to startle the leader but he was undeterred and insisted that Dr. Taylor would be in the ritual. Then he chose Finley to participate as well since he had the lowest rank on our team. The fucking bastard.”
“Sarge, take a deep breath and calm yourself down.”
“I apologize, Sir.” Watley flushed brightly and exhaled sharply. “Frost requested information on the ritual that they wanted Dr. Taylor and Corporal Finley to participate in. It was explained that they would be each be placed on an altar and ritually… penetrated by all of the members of their religious sect. Twenty priests total.” He paused when Sheppard swore. “Right, as you can imagine the Master Chief immediately disagreed with their plans and explained that it would be a violation of our own ethics and that neither Dr. Taylor nor Corporal Finley were interested in participating.”
“Charlus then said that it was better for the ritual if neither of the symbolic sacrifices were willing—that the gods would be pleased.”
Watley looked toward the ceiling then and seemed to gather himself. “Charlus reached out and touched Dr. Taylor—said he was beautiful and that he looked forward to breeding him on behalf of the gods.”
“And Frost’s response?”
“He gutted him like a fish, Sir.” Watley paused. “At that point, we decided without discussion that it would be best if we left.”
John just bet they did. “Is there any doubt in your mind that you could’ve left the village without it escalating to violence?”
“No, sir, when we exited the small building we were in—we found ourselves surrounded by men with weapons. We had to kill at least ten or more to even escape the village—more than once they tried to physically separate Dr. Taylor and Corporal Finley from us. It is my belief that they invited us back for the sole purpose of taking them both for this ritual. They are both very attractive physically—the same body type. Both have dark hair and brown eyes—that appealed to them. Everyone in the village was fair skinned and blonde. Both of them stood out significantly among the population.”
Watley frowned. “Sir, did Dr. Taylor really kill two of them in the cave? I think he probably killed one or two in the village but…that was in the heat of the moment.”
John looked towards the young civilian who was sitting quietly wrapped up in Miko Kusanagi’s embrace. The Geisha was running her fingers through his hair gently as if he was a child to be soothed. “There were two bodies in that cave when we evac’d them. Frost was in no condition to have taken those two out. The man even policed his brass for fuck’s sake.”
“Right, Frost has trained him well.”
“How many did you kill?” John questioned, conversationally.
“Everyone I could get my hands on sir,” Watley said without a trace of guilt. “At least thirty-six, I can confirm. I don’t know if I killed any outright in our escape. I had to cover Frost when Dr. Taylor removed him from the situation but he killed at least six in the bid to get out of the village. They were really intent on killing him—I think because he admitted that the collar on Dr. Taylor was his.”
John looked up as Elizabeth entered the small foyer leading into the infirmary. He shook his head when she made to approach Taylor. She shifted slightly on her feet and went to him.
“Frost didn’t think he was going to make it,” John murmured. “He ordered Sean away from him and gave him final instructions if he did die.”
“Jesus,” Elizabeth muttered and bit down on her lip. “Have you told Carson?”
“Not yet, Carson knows to bring me the news first,” John murmured. “Taylor held a gun on the Dom I had with me on the ground—he isn’t going to accept any kind of attention from a Dominant right now. He’s barely tolerating me and only because he was ordered to. He said… that if his Dom doesn’t make it we should consider him a suicide risk.”
Elizabeth’s eyes closed briefly. “Well, it’s not uncommon in very intense relationships like theirs for a submissive to grieve themselves to death. When I was at university, I knew a pair like them—the Dom was killed in a car accident. The submissive laid down on his grave a week after they buried him and just died. They talk about life force bonding like it’s a legend or myth but I believe it is possible.”
John didn’t. At least, he didn’t want to because… he pushed the thought away and looked at McKay. His submissive was standing near the double doors leading into the infirmary with a cup of coffee in hand.
“How many dead on their side?”
“Upwards of fifty,” John murmured. “Finley is in the infirmary but he said he killed at least ten himself and Taylor admitted to shooting two and injuring many more. Those that are injured will probably die if their medical situation is as primitive as the rest of their society is.”
“Should we risk offering them medical assistance in an effort to repair the damage this situation has caused?” Elizabeth questioned.
“No, I’d like to set the whole planet on fire,” John responded evenly. “Any culture that would use rape as part of their god worship—isn’t a society we want any part of. Watley reported that their leader seemed pleased when Frost said no—he said that it was better without consent.”
Disgust, horror, anger, and resentment flitted over Weir’s face. “Maybe you could send Watley back and let him kill the rest of them.”
“Should’ve known they were fucked up when we found out they keep their women and children in another village,” Watley muttered. “I never even saw a kid.”
“There was a second village about a day’s walk from the gate—it had a lot of life signs,” John said neutrally. “There were only about fifteen life signs left in the first village when we went through the gate. Not sure how many scattered for safety and how many were killed.”
The double doors opened and Carson motioned for John. He forced himself to cross the room and let the doctor lead him back into the infirmary. “Just say it quick if it’s bad.”
Carson sent him a knowing look. “Frost is awake and going to make a full recovery. He wasn’t poisoned. If they weren’t a cult of murdering rapists I’d be very interested in trading for the drug they coat their arrows in. It’s a natural, completely safe sedative. I imagine they use it to take down big game so they can kill safely for food purposes.”
“Are you sure? Because he looked…”
“Half dead, I know, amazing sedative. Never seen anything like it. I have the sample Dr. Taylor brought back and we’ll be researching it. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find the plant elsewhere.”
John nodded. “Okay, be careful with Dr. Taylor and give him full disclosure, Carson. Don’t hold anything back from him – he is Frost’s next of kin and just be careful with him.”
“Of course, I can only imagine how upset that young man has been all day.”
“Yeah.” John nodded. “What about Finley?”
“Awake and speaking with Dr. Grant.” Carson motioned towards curtained off area at the back of the infirmary. “He has a concussion but he didn’t suffer what I was told he might have.”
“Good.” John nodded. “Okay.”
1900 Hours—Earth – de Sade Institute, Quebec
Kyle Napier closed his cell phone and sent the woman across from him a grim look. “He’s infuriated.”
Dr. Heather Kessler raised one elegantly shaped eyebrow and shrugged. “It was to be expected. The board knew exactly how he would react but frankly this has been coming since Dr. McKay came here to be sequestered. The fact that he refused to press House charges against his ex-wife and former Domme was not received well and many blamed Gerard for not forcing the issue.”
“Do you think that McKay has let go abuse unreported again?”
“No.” Heather picked up her teacup. “I saw nothing in the exhibition footage that indicated that John Sheppard is abusive, Kyle. Rodney’s trust in him is extraordinary and that kind of trust isn’t built on fear and abuse. I voted against bringing the Colonel to trial. The others felt that it was necessary as they were also extremely irritated by the fact that Dr. McKay wasn’t on the planet. I think they were so genuinely shocked by what the report revealed about his physical location and the attempt on his life, that everything else piled on top of it made it difficult for them accept that they didn’t have the right to question the man regarding the safety of Dr. McKay.”
“Did you know about the Stargate program before this?” Kyle asked.
“I did,” Heather responded simply. “It was one reason why Dr. McKay agreed to let me handle his retreat here after his divorce. I was read into the program nearly eight years ago as I was needed to consult on another matter.”
Kyle didn’t ask. Heather Kessler was a specialist in sexual abuse therapy, another reason that Gerard had chosen her for Rodney. If she’d been called into a top secret project it had to have been for something extreme and private. He left his desk to pour himself another cup of coffee. “Every member of the Peer Board has been visited by their respective governments and all but forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I signed my own with the FBI about four hours ago. You?”
“The one I signed years ago still applies,” Heather said. “We’re in a bit of a situation, Kyle. We haven’t had a closed House trial in a hundred years and when it comes out that the trial involves Gerard’s Courtesan—it could be a bit of a scandal.”
“It isn’t like we have a choice,” Kyle pointed out. “I was considering asking Gerard to… ask McKay to make the request for a private trial. A submissive of his rank within our House can request such a thing formally and no one could protest officially.”
Heather nodded. “He might not even have to be asked to do it. Rodney is a private man in some respects. He exhibits well, as you know, but there is a difference between what you willingly show an audience and what you’re forced to admit in a legal proceeding. The Judge Advocate General’s office has already responded to the House trial papers we submitted. They are arranging an appropriate date based on when O’Neill can get Sheppard back on the planet. Roughly, eighteen days from now. It’ll be held in New York and we’ve already been told by the US Marine Corps, the President of the United States, and Dato’ Raja that de Sade does not have leave to physically discipline Colonel Sheppard under any circumstances.”
“Good to know. I think the last thing we need to do as a House is discipline the Pewaris Darah of Kesakitan Pembawa. The trial itself might sour our relationship with that House permanently, despite Gerard’s relationship with Dato’ Raja. I’ve heard from several reliable people that Raja considers John Sheppard a son to him. If there is a chance that either we or the US government might severely sanction the man—I imagine Kesakitan Pembawa will demand custody of their Heir and remove him from the situation entirely.”
Heather winced. “I voiced this concern in the review before we levied charges and was ignored. The board has three students from New York and they were very supportive of Devereaux’s agenda. I think after this is all said and done that we should disband the members and sit a new board entirely.”
“Agreed,” Kyle murmured. “I had a phone call from Philippe Dubois. He’s spoken with Dato’ Raja and Master Akira – he’ll stand with Colonel Sheppard in trial. I figure they picked him because he’s the most even tempered. Master Akira has beheaded three men in the past ten years for failing to act honorably and we all know what Dato’ Raja is capable of.”
Heather agreed with a little smile and shivered. “Yes, we do.”
Sean curled up along Declan’s right side, his fingers trailing over his Dom’s bare thigh. The skin was slightly pink where the arrow had gone in. “We can put some more crème on it later.”
“Yeah,” Declan murmured. “Though I don’t particularly care of I scar.”
Sean hummed softly. “Most Doms don’t actually—as long as it’s not their face. How do you feel?”
“Sleepy,” Declan murmured. “Carson said it would take a few more hours for the drug to wear off.”
Sean nodded. “This is a good place, Declan.”
“You think so?”
“We’ve never had a posting where I would be allowed to stay with you like this.”
“Because we aren’t married,” Declan said and ran his fingers through Sean’s hair. “I heard you cuddled up with Miko.”
Sean smiled against the skin of Declan’s shoulder and pressed a kiss against there. “Yeah, she’s a pretty armful that’s for sure.”
Declan laughed. “I agree.” He pulled his submissive closer. “I’m sorry I worried you like that.”
“It’s better here than elsewhere,” Sean repeated. “You’ve been hurt before and I’ve never gotten this much respect from the officers and medical staff in command. They always saw me as your pet and they treated me accordingly.”
“I’d marry you tomorrow if that’s what I thought you wanted,” Declan whispered fiercely against his hair. “There is no one else for me and there never will be.”
Sean was silent for a few seconds and then he nodded carefully. “I’d… like that very much actually.”
“You would?” Declan asked, clearly shocked.
Taylor laughed. “Well, not tomorrow because… my mother would want to attend and I’m sure your parents and brother would appreciate an invite. We have leave coming up in two months—we could take it on Earth and get married.” He lifted his head and found his Dom smiling. “Is that okay?”
“That’s perfect, baby.” Declan trailed his fingers down the side of his face. “How do you feel about what you did?”
Sean made a face and settled back down so he could lay his head on Frost’s shoulder. “They would’ve killed you. I don’t regret what I did.”
“Killing isn’t easy and once you’ve done it—it stains you the rest of your life,” Declan murmured. “I don’t want you to think you can’t talk about it. You’re going to feel anger and guilt and a multitude of other things—all of that is okay.”
“I had to kill them,” Sean muttered. “I sort of hate them for making me.”
Sean sighed. “I’m kind of mad that you didn’t do it for me.”
Declan chuckled sadly. “That’s normal, too.”
“But I feel stupid about that part.”
“Whatever,” Sean muttered. “I’ll talk to Dr. Grant about it, I guess.” He paused. “Unless you’d prefer I didn’t?”
“Sheppard trusts him with his own submissive and that is more than enough for me,” Declan said. “Get some sleep and when we’ll go back to our quarters as soon as Carson clears me.”
John slid into their bed and McKay turned so that he could tuck himself close to his Dom. The darkness of the room was broken only by moonlight intruding through the closed doors that lead out to the balcony.
“I’m sorry,” Rodney whispered.
“It’s not your fault.”
“Maybe it is,” Rodney murmured. “I have a history of not reporting abuse. They don’t trust me with my own safety so the Peer Board didn’t even try to ask me about the situation before calling for a House trial. It’s obscene and I’m so sorry John. If this…”
“Shhh.” John pressed a kiss against his hair and rubbed his back gently. “It’ll be fine, Rodney. I love you and I’ve done nothing wrong. We’ll appear as requested and answer their questions. I have faith in Dato’ Raja and he knows me. He knows how I feel about you and how important our mutual needs are to me.”
“And your career? What if some asshat makes an issue of it? Kevin Jordan isn’t the only one that was put out by my coming here.”
“O’Neill promised me that he would do all that he could to protect my career but… hell, Rodney, it isn’t like I even need a job. I might regret having to give up Atlantis but there are plenty of things I could do on Earth. Working with my father wouldn’t be any sort of hardship, you know.”
“Matt was right about how much the city needs you,” Rodney whispered. “I wouldn’t be surprised to find that someone in the SGC or the Pentagon is compiling a hit list as we speak. Lesser threats have been dealt with in the past with such a thing when it comes to the Stargate program.”
“I wouldn’t leave if I had a choice,” John murmured. “I can only hope that when this is all said and done that the choice isn’t taken from me.”
“I won’t… be taken from you, John,” Rodney whispered as his fingers curled into Sheppard’s t-shirt. “I’m not a fucking slave. I’d suffer being excommunicated from de Sade myself before I would give you up.”
“Before we leave, I’m going to send a few emails to go out in the next databurst. By the time we get to Earth—we’ll have something in place to help with that.” John hugged Rodney closer.
“What do you plan?”
“I’m going to ask Philippe Dubois to offer you social guardianship. He’s the House Master of La Petite Mort but more importantly it is well known that he’s not a sadist. I doubt the Peer Board for de Sade would accept Dato’ Raja without complaint considering his nature.”
2200 Hours—Stargate Command
Jack hadn’t seen Sam Carter in months by his own choice. She’d sent more than one request asking to come back to the Mountain but there wasn’t a single team that went through the gate that was willing to accept her as their leader. Thanks to Randolph Rampart that wasn’t a single Marine in the entire Corps that would lay a hand on her. Her persona non grata status with de Sade had filtered through the entirety of the US Marines due to Rampart’s temper. Since the Mountain was Marine heavy, the situation had turned dramatically. They’d been told that she couldn’t be trusted privately, ordered to ignore her socially, and as a result didn’t trust her personally. Jack did wonder how she dealt with it at Area 51. Maybe that was the main cause of her begging to return to the Mountain. She might think he would shelter her.
She was hovering in the doorway of his office waiting to be acknowledged. “Enter, Colonel.” He turned to Daniel. “Danny, give us the room. I’ll be ready for the notes on that file within the hour.”
Daniel immediately packed up and left after placing a kiss on Jack’s mouth. Something he’d rarely done in the past but had done often since they’d both found out the depth of Sam’s interest in Jack. Daniel shut the door behind him.
“Sit.” Jack leaned back in his chair. “You don’t have a Pleasure Master due to your lack of social training so this duty falls to me. The de Sade Institute is going to call you to be a witness in a House trial. It will concern Colonel Sheppard’s relationship with Dr. McKay.” He paused when her expression shifted into something like amused. “Dr. Kara Summers committed treason, Colonel. She released classified data to a civilian in order to get this trial to take place.” The amusement fell off her face. “I’m sure you understand that the President and General Hammond want this situation to go as smoothly as possible. In that respect, I want to be very clear. You are going to conduct yourself properly during this matter at all times. When you testify, you will answer questions honestly and without exaggeration. I will be attending this trial and I assure you if you fail to act properly – I’ll make you regret it for the rest of your life. Clear?”
“Very clear,” Sam murmured. “What if they ask about my marriage to McKay?”
“McKay declined to press charges against you with his House—more to protect himself than anything else. It was accepted at the time. I don’t know what the outcome will be for you after this trial but if you lie I’ll destroy you. I couldn’t be more serious about this.”
“I understand perfectly, sir.”
2300 Hours—The Daedalus
Lucas Foster watched his CO leave the small bathroom and come toward the bed with a washcloth. He ached pleasantly—Caldwell had been everything Lucas had anticipated and more. The Air Force man was strong and deliciously dominant. The sex itself had been fantastic but Lucas adored nothing like he adored being fucked like a whore. In that respect, Caldwell had totally delivered.
Lucas relaxed as he was cleaned. Some tops didn’t believe in handling the physical after care and some weren’t all that keen on making sure a sub was where they needed to be mentally either. He allowed himself to be turned over and sucked in a breath as the slightly rough cloth slid between the cheeks of his ass and over his fucked open hole.
He lifted his hips involuntarily and laughed a little when Caldwell smacked his ass. “Tease.”
Steven hummed under his breath and tossed the cloth aside. He laid down beside Lucas and ran a confident hand down the length of the sub’s back. “You’re a surprise.”
“A pleasant one?” Lucas asked.
“Very pleasant,” Steven said and leaned in. He placed a soft kiss on the sub’s shoulder and scraped his teeth over the still pink skin. “I’m honestly surprised you aren’t collared.”
“My physical looks have often attracted the kind of Dom that wants to collar,” Lucas said by way of agreement. “But I prefer Doms with training and I’m a masochist—not uncommon for my House.”
Steven nodded his agreement, trailing his fingers over the lily blossom on Foster’s neck. “More so than any other House, I’ve always preferred subs from La Petite Mort because of that.” He pulled a sheet over them and looked over Lucas’ face. “Did you want to stay with me or go back to your own quarters?”
“I’m very comfortable,” Lucas said as he slid under Steven’s arm and rested his head on the older man’s chest. “It’s… been a while since…”
“Since I could have something like this. Quarters were tight at Area 51. Too many people, not enough space, and a schedule that would make anyone a little insane. It’s crazy to say this considering circumstances but the SGC is a luxury assignment despite the Ori, the Wraith, and everything else.”
“Before I was brought into the program, I was stationed in a lot of places that don’t even exist anymore. The people stationed with the SGC do have more luxury than others in the service but the price we pay for this duty demands something. We are a society built around the seeking of our pleasure after all.”
Lucas couldn’t disagree with that and sometimes the perks were meaningless but at times like this he was relieved to be where he was. He figured since Caldwell had given him a choice that the Dom wanted him to stay but was willing to let him go back to his own bed if it was a preference.
“How are things going with the other pilots?”
“I was debriefed about the situation you had before I accepted the transfer so I was prepared to deal with a variety of bullshit,” Lucas admitted. “It’s been minimal though—just stuff I’d normally have to deal with being a submissive officer. Some Doms just don’t have the social training to handle taking orders from a submissive in a work situation with any kind of grace. I have a few I’d like to replace and there are two pilots at Area 51 that I’m interested in getting on board once they come out of training. While we were in Pegasus, I’d like to drill the pilots on board concerning entering the atmosphere of a planet—most of them are more skilled with using the stargate to get to a new world. We only have two on the ship that were part of NASA in the past so they understand the pressure of re-entry.”
“I’ll set up it with Weir.” Steven yawned. “We’ll be in orbit in little less than an hour but it’ll be after 2400 hours on the city.” He checked the clock on his nightstand and ran his fingers through Lucas’ hair. “So, we’ll check in with the control room but do a sleep cycle before I make myself available to Weir.”
“Are we going to land?”
“Not with your plans concerning the pilots.”
Elizabeth paused next to Amelia Banks as the younger woman confirmed that the Daedalus was twenty minutes from orbit. A databurst had informed them of the ship’s intention to orbit rather than land, which was good because Elizabeth was exhausted. Between the incident with Summers and the problems off world, they’d all had a stupidly horrible day and deserved some sleep. She sent the databurst she’d prepared and had Rodney encrypt for Caldwell personally and shook her head. Having Caldwell on the city for a few weeks didn’t concern her. The man was an excellent officer and a great Dom who had a reputation that made him socially very desirable. Still, he wasn’t John and the very idea that she might not get Sheppard back was enough to make her want to step through the gate and kill a few people herself.
2500 Hours—de Sade Institute, New York
Gerard had spent half the plane trip to New York speaking with Andre’s Pleasure Master. The official word that Gerard’s status as an appropriate social guardian for his own Courtesan had resulted in some concern from the man who had trained the Consort he’d had in his bed for the better part of five years. Andre had been absolutely furious that Gerard was being questioned by his House but the matter was currently resolved as it was going to be. He figured if John Sheppard was found guilty by the Peer Board that he’d face a House trial himself with La Petite Mort.
He let Mason handle him—putting him in a private car for the ride to the estate that held the only US branch of their House. He hated coming to New York and had rarely made a secret of it. He really regretted not shutting the House down completely when he’d been House Master. He was considering forcing Kyle to do it for him. Well, force was an ugly word. Kyle would do what was requested of him and Gerard knew it.
Antoine Devereaux was actually his third cousin, once removed and that hadn’t been too much of a surprise as he had family spread out all over the world. He had hundreds of cousins with varying degrees of closeness. He’d also discovered that Antoine had a habit of banking on his distant relationship with the de Sade family to better himself and his social standing. It was rather lurid behavior as far as Gerard was concerned. Most of his cousins went out of their way to stand on their own two feet rather than expect the world to be handed to them.
Devereaux wasn’t waiting for them which was rather a surprise since Gerard was certain the man knew he was coming. He allowed himself to be escorted up to an elegantly appointed office and barely refrained from rolling his eyes as he acknowledged the obvious power play. He sort of wished he’d brought Rampart with him instead of Blake. Rampart had apparently scared the man half to death earlier in the day when he and Blake had beamed right into his office with guns. He snorted at the image and sat down without being invited. He crossed his legs and relaxed in the expensive chair across from Devereaux’s large desk.
“If you are here to protest the charges I’ve levied, you’ll have to take it up with the Peer Board.”
“I’ve already filed an extensive objection regarding your ridiculous charges against John Sheppard,” Gerard said. “I hope you’re thoroughly prepared for the fight you’ve started Antoine because things are going to get very ugly for you and remain that way for the rest of your life.”
“I’m not afraid of you—you won’t have any power in our House when this is all finished. You don’t deserve the status you have—I’ve seen McKay’s medical records. The abuse you’ve let your Courtesan suffer is horrific and you did nothing about it!”
“Even if I’m disgraced… and let’s be frank, that’s not likely, there are plenty loyal to me in this House that will make sure you suffer the rest of your natural life. But that’s only if Dato’ Raja doesn’t have you killed outright for the insult you’ve dealt him and his House.”
“He’s the one that marked John Sheppard—he should’ve put that sociopath down when he was a teenager. If he’s insulted or embarrassed—he only has himself to blame.”
Gerard shook his head. “Your arrogance is frankly stunning.”
“Your arrogance is just as dangerous as John Sheppard and I’ll see you both sanctioned appropriately before this is all said and done. I’ve already filed papers to assume Dr. McKay’s social guardianship.”
Gerard laughed. “You’re out of you fucking mind, Devereaux, if you think he’ll accept you as his social guardian.”
“He won’t have a choice. After his trial, he’ll be sequestered for counseling and retraining if necessary. Dr. Summers has reported extensively to me already about his attitude and obvious lack of training regarding social protocols. Both of those situations will be corrected. The Peer Board will grant me the authority I need to see to that.”
“My Courtesan is not a slave,” Gerard said tightly. “Rodney doesn’t belong to our House and no matter your view on how submissives should be treated—he’s never going to be under your control.”
“We’ll see,” Devereaux said with a small smile.
Author’s Note: I believe in happily ever after. I really do. And I don’t want to hear a single motherfucking word about the femslash. I WILL CUT YOU.