Ties That Bind: The Broken Road

Title: The Broken Road
Author: Keira Marcos
Betas: Chris King & Ladyholder
Series: Ties That Bind
Series Order: 14
Fandom: SGA
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard, Lorne/OC (many secondary pairings)
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 15,978
Warnings: BDSM, discussion of past abuse, fucked up politics, asshats of many nationalities, angst, and an author who is completely amazed by herself and tolerates no bullshit from trolls.

Summary: John and Rodney return to Earth and prepare for the house trial.

The Broken Road by Fan ArtsSeries

– – – –

“I’m going to ask you a series of extremely insulting questions,” Thomas began and smiled just a little when John laughed.

Sheppard ran his fingers through short black hair and waved a hand towards Thomas Grant. “Go ahead. I can’t imagine I’ll even get a warning from de Sade.”

“No, I agree you won’t,” Thomas murmured. “Have you ever become physically aroused in a combat situation?”

“No.” John relaxed in the chair and crossed his legs at the knee in what gave every appearance of a laid-back sprawl. “I’ve never made a connection between sex and violence.”

“Or violence and dominance?” Thomas asked.

“There is a…” John frowned. “There is an inherent dominance game in violence between combatants. Someone is going to come out on top but that has never been sexually gratifying for me, at all. I’m not sure when I made the disconnect… maybe the first time I had to kill. That was a hard moment for me.”

“More than a moment,” Thomas said and lifted an eyebrow when John frowned.

“Right, well, there were some nightmares,” John admitted. “It wasn’t… it was an up close and personal situation. There was so much blood; his and mine by the end of it. I had a knife in my thigh and his… guts spilling out over my hand. I watched his eyes go dull.” He cleared his throat and shifted in the chair. “I don’t know how long I laid there before I pushed his body off of me. It was an extremely unpleasant experience.”

“How old were you?”

“Twenty,” John answered. “I can’t say it was easier the next time but I was able to push past it faster and do my job.”

“Tell me about Jared Holland.”

John started to shake his head and took a calming breath. “They’re going to ask about him?”

“Of course they are, John. He died wearing your collar in a combat zone. His brother nearly killed McKay. You’re not going to get out of this trial without discussing Jared and his brother, Scott.”

“Right.” John closed his eyes and wet his bottom lip with the tip of his tongue. “I loved him. It was a… quiet, contented sort of love that I thought I wanted for the rest of my life. We were planning to resign our commissions at the end of that year. I’d bought wedding rings and my sister-in-law was quietly planning a ceremony. She’d made appointments for us to be fitted for civilian clothes. We had a deposit down for the venue.” John cleared his throat. “A higher ranking officer was visiting the base and my CO requested that I perform with Jared. It wasn’t a surprise—we were well known for our exhibitions. Jared was utterly shameless and on the extreme end of masochism. Our pleasure dynamic was perfect.”

“It’s interesting that you phrased it that way,” Thomas murmured. “You had issues in other areas?”

“Jared was raised in a household where his father had slave status. Jared’s mother had taught both of her sons to want that lifestyle despite the fact that neither of them demonstrated that kind of dynamic. Both Jared and Scott were eventually trained and marked by La Petite Mort. Jared was, at times, at war with himself due to the conflicts between how he was raised and how he was eventually trained.”

Thomas considered that silently for a few minutes then nodded. “I can see how that might have proven difficult for you both. So, you exhibited for this officer?”

“Yes, there were about thirty men and women in attendance that night,” John explained. “There was nothing particularly special about the exhibition—nothing we hadn’t done easily a hundred times before. But the visiting officer found Jared very alluring. He wanted him. Asked to see him privately.”

“And Jared was interested,” Thomas said bluntly.

John’s eyes snapped open and he turned to stare pointedly at Thomas. “What?”

“Jared wanted you to say yes to the private visit with General Daily.” Thomas inclined his head.

“Yes,” John admitted hoarsely. “Jared… berated me in private for declining the invitation as he believed it might damage our careers. I never told anyone that… how did you know?”

“I made a guess,” Thomas admitted. “He would’ve been well within his rights to refuse to leave the base without you, John. I reviewed the records for the mission Daily assigned him and Jared didn’t even make a token protest. The mission itself was not mission essential and any number of pilots on the base could’ve taken it. Jared should’ve cited the collared-submissive protocol and remained on the base. There was no reason not to.”

John rubbed his face with one shaking hand. “He did it to please Daily. He did it knowing I would be furious.”

“You should know that your official military records include a recording of your flight to rescue Jared and his team. I can’t promise it won’t show up in court.” Thomas winced when the blood drained from Sheppard’s face. “I certainly will do everything I can to prevent it but the Peer Board has been given an uncensored copy of your military jacket. They might gain access to the transcript if not the recording itself. We know they requested files from the Corps.”

“Goddamn it,” John ground out through clenched teeth.

“I want to believe that Rampart would refuse them,” Thomas began. “But this has probably become a very political matter on Earth. As a house, de Sade enjoys very powerful relationships with the governments of both the US and Canada. Nearly a third of the seated members of the US Senate were trained at de Sade. Gerard’s disciples will circle their wagons, John. Please keep this in your mind at all times. Any one of those men would throw you under a bus to protect Gerard.”

“I’m aware,” John murmured. “I would do no less for the men that trained me. Rodney told me who they were sometime ago. I gave Dato’ Raja this information as he didn’t have a complete list.”

Thomas cleared his throat. “Very few people have a complete list, John. Some of them are as much of a secret as Rodney once was.”

John shrugged and slouched down in his chair. “I loved Jared. I thought we wanted the same things and I mourned him then I let him go so I could… move on. I understand my dynamic and basic nature enough to know that I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life alone. Holding onto his presence in my life would’ve left me angry and bitter.” He paused. “Broken. It would’ve left me broken and I’ve never been much for self-flagellation. I processed the loss, accepted his death, and moved on.”

“You engaged the private attendance of many submissives between the loss of Jared Holland and your collaring of Dr. McKay,” Thomas began. “Tell me why you offered McKay a collar.”

“When I entered Cheyenne Mountain, it was with the intention of speaking with Dr. McKay. I had decided to offer him a collar due to his specific skill set and how beneficial it would be for my mission. I was prepared to offer him a social guardianship collar or a standard collar with an agreement not to seek him sexually. I offered him a year of mutual celibacy in return for accepting the collar and the position of Chief Scientist on the mission.”

“A year of celibacy,” Thomas repeated, clearly shocked.

“I knew that if I put a collar on him that most if not all of the Dominants on the base would keep their distance. I told him that I would remain celibate during that time since my collar would result in his own social isolation.” John shrugged at the continued display of shock. “He wasn’t… particularly interested in that and suggested we have a session together to see how well we meshed.”

“You offered him a social guardianship and he offered you sex instead.”

John grinned. “Yeah, something like that.”

“And you spent one night together before you left the base to purchase a collar.”

“We had sex that night and left the base the next day to pick out a collar together. We also bought some equipment as I’d left my pleasure kit on my base. I… didn’t expect to have sex with him during our time on Earth. I didn’t approach him with the expectation that he would submit to me. While I certainly made no secret of my attraction to him, I made it as clear as I could that I would do whatever he wanted to get him to accept the transfer to my base.” His gaze drifted to the recording device on the low table between them.

“Tell me about the first time you and Rodney performed for other people.”

“We were in Canada visiting his sister. Rodney went to the Toronto branch of the de Sade Institute to arrange for his niece to receive his legacy. The House Mistress requested that we demonstrate for her students.” John shrugged. “They all appeared to enjoy the demonstration and I answered a few questions for one young Dom who appeared more interested in me than in McKay.”

“And the second time?”

“We were on base in Colorado. General Rampart requested that I exhibit for him and I agreed. That performance was very well-received by everyone who attended as far as I know.”

“In Rodney’s medical records, there is a notation that you sent him to the infirmary to get a bite wound treated.”

John flushed. “Yes. I drew blood by accident. Lotus trained me to bite for pleasure—it was the first time I’ve ever had such an accident.”

“The reason?”

John pursed his lips and offered Grant a mild glare. “I’m almost exclusively a Top but there are times when I want to be penetrated. I bit McKay while he was fucking me.”

Thomas reached out, snatched up the recorder and turned it off. “Hmm.”

John grinned and laughed. “I know, right?”

Thomas huffed. “Christ, you’re a dreadful tease.”

“You let him fuck you, right?” John asked with a sly little grin. “Don’t tell me you didn’t… he’s got such a pretty dick.”

Thomas laughed. “Shut up, Jesus.” He tossed the recorder on his desk as he stood up went to get himself some more coffee.

It was the third session he’d recorded in as many days. They’d agreed to get McKay squared away and it had given John time to get his head together for the evaluation. Thomas didn’t actually think his opinion was going to hold any weight in the trial. It was about appearances and procedure at this point. An evaluation had to be done and entered into evidence. They’d get a brief report and he’d already done what he could to seal his own records regarding John Sheppard and Rodney McKay. He could hide beyond doctor/patient confidentiality indefinitely. He’d already made both them sign documents refusing him the right to release notes and records pertaining to them individually.

John was, for the most part, resigned to the process that was going to take place. McKay, on the other hand, was furious and getting more so by the day. Thomas figured by the time they reached Earth, Rodney would be fairly close to voluntarily withdrawing from de Sade.

– – – –

Randolph Rampart was casually planning a murder in his head while he listened to Antoine Devereaux question Gerard de Sade’s fitness as a Dom and social guardian. The Peer Board had gathered in Quebec for the first of six meetings that would take place leading up to the trial in New York.

“Randolph.” Heather Kessler put her hands on the table in front of her. “You’ve attended an exhibition where John Sheppard performed with Dr. McKay.”

“Yes, I’ve also attended two exhibitions where John Sheppard performed with another submissive,” Randolph murmured.

“The one he got killed in combat?” Devereaux questioned snidely.

“John wasn’t involved or responsible for the death of Jared Holland. They weren’t even on that mission together as you well know, Devereaux.” He paused and frowned at the younger man. “After all, you were passed classified military files by a traitor that detailed that particular incident.”

Devereaux flushed. “Yes, well, it was mentioned in Sheppard’s debrief at Cheyenne Mountain. We don’t have anything but his report on the matter. How do we know he didn’t lie?”

“I was on the ground three hours after Jared Holland was killed. I’m on the one that ordered Sheppard back to the States after the loss of his submissive. I’m the one that held that young man like a child on a six hour flight out of a war zone. Two different doctors in Germany suggested that I sedate him for the flight back to the US. So don’t you ever fucking in your whole goddamned life question the grief he experienced or insinuate that he got his submissive killed.”

Heather cleared her throat. “As I was saying, you’ve witnessed him in exhibition and you’ve seen the footage that we were given of the exhibition he had with Dr. McKay several weeks ago.”

“I’ve seen it,” Rampart murmured. “I’ve got a young Marine corporal in the brig for his part in the transmission of that data. He’ll never see the light of day if I have a damn thing to say about it.” He shot Devereaux a pointed look. “John is a talented and captivating performer. I enjoyed the exhibition I personally witnessed and find myself jealous to have missed the live performance of the one that was recorded.”

“Some time elapsed between the one you witnessed and the one that was recorded,” Heather asserted. “Did you notice any differences in the performances regarding their relationship or Dr. McKay’s reactions?”

“Dr. McKay was very aware of the audience in the one exhibition I witnessed,” Rampart murmured. “In the recording, it was clear that the audience wasn’t even a concern for him. He entered subspace between one breath and the next. It was an intimate and unspeakably beautiful performance. To have it recorded and distributed without their permission is a grave insult to them both.”

“The blood play didn’t bother you?” Heather asked.

“Christ, no, it was the hottest thing I’ve seen in years.” Randolph grinned when she smirked at him.

Heather took a few seconds to gather herself. “Do have any doubts about the consensual nature of their relationship?”

“None. I would’ve never tolerated it if I’d thought that for a single second. They are blessed in their pairing. I’ve rarely seen such synergy between two people and the time they’ve been together has only deepened their relationship.”

“Dr. McKay has tolerated abusive and damaging behavior from a Dominant before.”

“Yes,” Randolph agreed. “But only to a certain point, Heather. He stopped being intimate with his wife after she threatened him with permanent physical damage.”

“She tried to castrate him,” Devereaux snapped. “And Gerard did nothing about it.”

“Gerard didn’t know about the incident until McKay had been divorced from Dr. Carter for more than a year,” Randolph returned bluntly. “I whipped the woman bloody when I found out about it, Devereaux. Contrary to what you might want to believe, McKay is entitled to privacy. He chose not to report his ex-wife for her failings. Not even Gerard had the legal or social right to demand that he do so. Yes, he could’ve contacted the Institute and I certainly think he should have. He could’ve have filed criminal charges against her. He could’ve reported her to her commanding officer. He didn’t. Instead, Rodney cut off his wife’s collar in the middle of their work place and threw it at her feet. He filed for divorce and when it was final—declared her persona non grata for every de Sade submissive on the planet.”

“It’s not enough,” Devereaux snapped.

“That’s not your decision,” Heather said bluntly. “We don’t have the right or the authority to punish Sam Carter for what she did. True, we could put her on trial but the area is grey due to the fact that Rodney is no longer her collared submissive and refused to press charges against her.” She held up a hand when Devereaux started to speak. “I handled Rodney personally when he retreated here to Quebec. He recovered from his marriage quickly and was sexually responsive to a variety of situations including several that he admitted his ex-wife had used against him in the past. When I released him from my care, he was in a great frame of mind and in excellent mental health. The mistreatment he suffered in his relationship with Sam Carter was more damaging to his ego than anything else.”

“The fact that he didn’t report his wife and didn’t seek the aid of his Pleasure Master makes me question his training and his marked status,” Devereaux said. “He should be evaluated and retrained.”

“That makes you an idiot,” Heather said bluntly. “Rodney McKay is not nor will he ever be the property of the de Sade Institute. He’s a Canadian citizen, by the way, and has refused repeated offers for US citizenship. When he is available—he will find social guardianship offers from Master Nori Tanaka of Lotus, Master Akira Saito of Lotus, and Master Philippe Dubois of La Petite Mort, and the House Mistress of Lotus herself, Kia Nakamura.”

Devereaux stared at her in silence. “Saito and Dubois trained Sheppard. I understand their interest in protecting their own. The other two are a surprise.”

Heather offered him the shark-like smile she was infamous for. “Nori Tanaka is the Geisha Master for Matthew Sheppard and Mistress Kia met Rodney when he visited Singapore and she was enthralled by the exhibition she personally witnessed there. She’ll be at the trial with her brother, Dato’ Raja.” She leaned forward a little. “You were warned, were you not? Congratulations, Devereaux, this little house trial of yours is going to lead to the meeting of the current house masters of the most powerful pleasure houses on the planet. The Master of Heian has also requested an invitation from Napier and Neal Peyton is on a plane to New York as we speak. The major houses haven’t met like this since the end of World War II.”

– – – –

He didn’t like sitting in Caldwell’s chair. As far as he could tell, Caldwell’s crew didn’t like it much either. Granted, they’d been great and had accepted his temporary leadership without skipping a beat. John knew that on some level they were treating him with kid gloves. Situations were automatically explained so he’d yet to face a situation where he had to admit to not knowing something about the ship or operations. The reason he was returning to Earth and why Caldwell had been left behind was not a secret.

Caldwell and Weir had both asked him what he wanted and he decided against trying withhold the information. It would’ve lead to more hassle than anything and despite how much everyone else was worried—he really wasn’t. He had faith in Rampart, of course, but more so he knew that Dato’ Raja would go to the wall for him and over it if necessary. He hadn’t done anything wrong and he could handle politics as well as most men of his training. Beyond that, he could and certainly would resign his commission immediately if Rampart didn’t hold up his end of things. He had money and options – some asshole civilian Dom in New York was not going to get the best of him in any situation.

He finished his shift in moody silence and couldn’t muster up much of a smile for Lucas Foster. The younger man had been especially helpful but John could tell the circumstances had disappointed the Navy man. It hadn’t taken him but a day to hear that Foster had been enjoying Caldwell’s private company during the trip to Atlantis.

It was irritating that his private circumstances had created a divide between them. People at the SGC were a little tight lipped when it came to Caldwell and his private relationships so John figured that his connection with Lucas Foster was something to be carefully protected and nurtured. He did know that Foster had turned down every single offer since they’d started home—including one from Thomas Grant.

McKay had spent the first week of the trip flitting around the ship, expending nervous energy by creating work for himself. But they were just four days from Earth now and Rodney had sequestered himself in their quarters. John had set up meal delivery when it was clear that his submissive didn’t want to interact with the rest of the crew. As far as John knew, Rodney had spent the last seven days methodically plotting the ruination of half a dozen people.

Rodney had set up dinner on the small two person table by the time he made it back to their quarters. He was dressed in a pair of loose cotton pants and a t-shirt. John unzipped his flight suit to the waist before sitting down to tackle his boots. “Hey.”

Rodney inspected him. “I keep thinking that there has to be some uniform you’d look bad in.”

“Nope,” John said cheerfully. “Look great in them all. It’s a curse really.”

Rodney snorted. “Right. How did your final session with Grant go?”

John paused. They hadn’t discussed the evaluations that they’d both done with Grant. Rodney had spent a total of seven hours with the psychologist while John had just done three hours. “It was okay. He brought up something that I didn’t… consider.” He stood up, dropped his boots on top of the footlocker at the end of the bed, and shrugged out of the flight suit.

“What?” Rodney asked.

“They have access to my uncensored file. So it is possible that the Peer Board asked to review the audio files of Jared’s death. I won’t know for certain until we’re on the ground.”

“If that bitch wasn’t already going to roast for treason I would dedicate myself to making her life a living hell until she died,” Rodney muttered. “I’m sorry, John.”

“I haven’t heard the recordings so I don’t even know what the Corps kept. There were deaths involved and I know that there was an inquiry but I didn’t attend. At the time, I didn’t want to know if Jared… it crossed my mind that the accident might have been pilot error and I didn’t want to hear it. Eventually, I got a report.”

“Was he… at fault?”

“No,” John cleared his throat. “Not at all. It was just a series of very bad circumstances.”

Rodney pulled two bottles of water from a small refrigerator and put them on the table. “It’s fortunate, by the way, that there is plenty of fascinating work for Miko on Atlantis. Otherwise she’d take this ship’s engineering department over.”

John grinned as he sat down. He’d been surprised when Miko had informed him that she would be returning to Earth with them and utterly charmed when she’d said that a member of her family wasn’t going to go on trial without her there to glare snottily at everyone about it. He figured between Jonah, Miko and Matt, no one was going to be spared the snotty, vicious wrath of an offended Geisha.

– – – –

Emmanuel Michel was lounging by his pool, naked. Gerard admired the view for a few minutes before he stepped out onto the patio. Andre was in the pool swimming laps, something he often did in the afternoons. Gerard dropped down on the lounge chair beside Emmanuel and sighed.

“Tough day?”

“I’m pretty sure that Rampart is planning on murdering a few people.”

Emmanuel laughed and shook his head. “Just wait until my nephew surfaces.” He paused and inclined his head. “You do know where he is, right?”

Gerard shrugged. “After a fashion, yes. I know he’s with John Sheppard and he’s part of a military mission. I can’t discuss more than that with you or anyone else. I signed a confidentiality agreement. Plenty of people are already going to prison for treason—I don’t plan to be one of them.” He frowned. “And stop calling Rodney your nephew in that tone. He’s only two years younger than you.”

Emmanuel grinned. “My father was a randy bastard. You do remember I have three siblings under the age of ten.”

“I’m aware,” Gerard murmured. “It’s going to get ugly, Emmanuel. Devereaux saw too much and I think if he were lesser known that the US Military would have had him killed.”

“I have no doubts about that at all,” Michel agreed. “The US government takes its secrets very seriously. Though most governments do I suppose. It’s human nature to horde information and justify it by saying the regular people couldn’t handle it. Maybe whatever they keep to themselves would make us all lose our minds.”

Gerard figured the fall-out of the Stargate program being declassified could cause unrest on the level of a world war. Religious fanatics would lose it. Scientists would lose it for being excluded. Countries that hadn’t been read in on the program would demand… everything. It was the kind of nightmare he wanted no part of. Personally, he’d like to forget just about everything he’d learned about the SGC.

“It would be dangerous,” he finally said and shrugged when Michel turned to stare at him pointedly. “The conflict could be damaging in a variety of socioeconomic ways. Everyone who witnesses the trial will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement with their own country.”

“I’ve already been approached,” Michel admitted. “I’m not sure I want to know.” He turned and focused on Gerard. “Tell me, Gerard. Do I want to know?”

“There is no reason for you to know,” Gerard murmured. “Rodney’s family for you but knowing the specifics of what he does would change nothing. You’d never have the ability or power to change those circumstances. He is his own man and he gave himself to John Sheppard. I don’t see anything changing that.”

– – – –

Jack O’Neill hadn’t been torn a new one in about ten years. Saving the planet gave a man a lot of leeway and when George Hammond had been in charge of the SGC, Jack had been doing a lot of planet saving. Once the Air Force got it in their collective heads to start putting stars on his collar, well, Jack figured he was pretty much done with being yelled at. He was sorely mistaken.

Henry Hayes had started behind his desk, cool voiced and calm. Ten minutes into the conversation, he was pacing around the oval house, cursing like the former military man he was and doing his level best to shove his verbal foot up Jack’s ass. O’Neill was rather relieved that he’d left Daniel at home. He doubted his submissive would ever let him live it down if he’d been there to witness it.

“And for the love of Christ, O’Neill, McKay’s medical records read like something out of a motherfucking battered-submissive movie of the goddamned week!” He pointed one blunt finger at O’Neill. “And that is on you. You had a civilian in your operation being routinely, habitually mistreated by an officer in your command. Not to mention how you let her treat him after he had to sue for a fucking divorce!”

“Sir, with all due respect, there is nothing you can say that will compare with what I’ve already said to myself regarding the situation between McKay and Carter. I’ve spent most of the last year going through personnel records, assigning social classes, arranging for training sessions when needed. I cleaned house and I am doing my level best to make sure the Mountain stays in order. I understand the root of the problem far better than you do. McKay didn’t report her because he didn’t trust me. He didn’t trust Frasier. He didn’t trust a single officer in the Mountain to take his side and to act in his best interest. That is on me and I’m not ever going to forget it.”

Hayes huffed and dropped down in his previously abandoned chair. “Oh, shut up and sit the fuck down.”

Jack sat down near General Mason Blake and shared a pointed look with George Hammond. Rampart had spent the entire conversation sending text messages. Jack sort of hated him for it.

Rampart tucked his phone into his pocket and smirked at O’Neill. “Congrats, Jack, you made the sitting President of the United States of America say the word ‘fuck’ sixty-seven times in the space of a single hour in the middle of the Oval Office. I think that’s a record!”

Jack looked at the ceiling and started to count to one hundred. Every man in uniform in the room outranked him and he needed to keep that shit in mind. His job kept his submissive in good coffee. Good coffee was very important to Daniel.

“Tell me about this security mess,” Hayes snapped. “What have we learned?”

“Lance Corporal Travis Laweson worked in Logistics in the Mountain for six months,” Jack began. “Shortly after Dr. Kara Summers joined the Atlantis Expedition—he requested and received a transfer into Communications. He worked in the gateroom periodically and often was assigned third shift hours. It was during one of these shifts that the standard data burst came from Atlantis.”

“So he maneuvered himself into position to receive the communication from Dr. Summers?”

“He admits as much. Kara Summers was stationed at the Mountain for a period of six months before finally receiving a nod from McKay which allowed her to travel to the city. She submitted upwards of seventy proposals for research before she managed to capture his attention and earn a rotation on the city,” Jack explained. “While she was at the Mountain, she regularly engaged in a sexual relationship with Laweson. He’s eighteen years old, smart but has had no pleasure training outside of the course in basic.”

Hayes sighed. “He committed treason for her.”

“He’s young and naïve,” Jack said. “It doesn’t excuse his behavior and there are no circumstances I can see where he will avoid a court-martial and a jail term. JAG has the case at this point but I believe they are in agreement that in his case the death penalty is off the table.”

“We either keep him in uniform or in jail for the rest of his life,” Hayes murmured. “He knows too much about the SGC and Atlantis for us to just let him go.”

“Granted,” Jack said. “JAG is waiting on you at this point, sir. The nature of our mission and the long reaching ramifications of his actions… it’s unprecedented.”

“I don’t want him in uniform,” Rampart murmured. “It’s an insult to the men and women who look to me for leadership, sir. We have an obligation to them. He doesn’t respect the Corps or our mission. I’d just as soon put a bullet in his head. O’Neill sees a kid when he looks at Laweson. A fucked up, stupid kid. I see a man who debased the uniform, violated his oath, and betrayed his country.”

“I do see a fucked up, stupid kid,” Jack agreed. “I’ve seen a lot of them through the years. On this world and on others, and maybe it made me… hell, I don’t know. I don’t have a pressing desire to kill him but I’d rather not ever set eyes on him again. I agree with you that he doesn’t deserve to be uniform. He’s not going to survive being housed in the Disciplinary Barracks long term. If he goes in with a life sentence, they are going to know he’s a traitor. Rapists and traitors to their country don’t stand much of a chance in Leavenworth.”

“No,” Hayes agreed. “They don’t.” He sighed. “General Court-Martial. We’ll seal the trial with the recommendation that he be housed in isolation if he’s given a prison term. I don’t oppose the death penalty in this case. Let the JAG play it out and see how the cards fall. Make sure Summers is available to testify if they want her.”

“The Daedalus checked in with the first gate in the galaxy, they are at this point roughly four days from Earth,” Jack explained. “The trial is set for ten days from now. Devereaux has demanded that I update him on the availability of McKay as soon as I know anything but I declined on the grounds of national security. McKay is a priceless and peerless civilian asset and his personal security cannot be left up to de Sade.” He glanced at Rampart and Blake. Neither looked put out by his opinion so he relaxed.

“It is procedure for de Sade to separate a Dominant and a submissive if there are charges of abuse,” Rampart began. “Devereaux wants to know when McKay is available so he can take him into protective custody. The majority of the Peer Board is in agreement on this point. Those of us who know McKay, realize that even attempting to do such a thing would infuriate Rodney. As for John…” Rampart took a deep breath. “It needs to be said that if someone attempted to take Rodney by force that John’s response would be vicious and deadly. He’s a Marine down to his bones and he’s three times the combat asset now than he was when I let him trot off to Pegasus. He’d burn the New York branch of de Sade to the ground, salt the Earth it has stood on for the last sixty-six years, and clean his nails with the fragments of Devereaux’s bones while he waited for transport back to base.”

“Odds on us just letting John handle his business?” Mason asked.

“None,” Hayes snapped. “The man is a goddamned war hero. I can’t have him running around the country killing people without orders. Not even people who need it.”

– – – –

They entered Earth orbit six hours into John’s eight hour shift on the bridge. He made contact with the SGC, then started to prepare the ship for crew change over and cargo retrieval while Rodney packed away what they’d unpacked in their quarters and gathered up their family to return to Earth. John couldn’t let himself think that this was the last day he’d ever be in space. The very idea that Atlantis might be lost to him due to social politics was a nightmare. And he was very familiar with nightmares. Cameron Mitchell was on the ground handling that end of the things and would be coming up at the end of John’s shift to take over the ship. The Daedalus would remain in orbit a week then it would start back to Pegasus.

The last two hours passed quickly enough and he shortly found himself welcoming Colonel Mitchell on board. After that matter was handled, John made his way down to the quarters he’d been sharing with Rodney. He found his submissive at the desk, two laptops open.

“Work?”

“Research,” Rodney said bluntly. “I’ve received emails—formal offers of social guardianship from Master Nori Tanaka of Lotus, Master Akira Saito of Lotus, Master Philippe Dubois, Mistress Kia Nakamura, and my paternal uncle Master Emmanuel Michel.” He turned to look at John. “Your choice?”

John took a deep breath and shook his head. “I can’t… no. I won’t make that decision for you, Rodney. It’s important that you make it separate from both me and Gerard. His judgment and mine is being questioned by the Peer Board. I want you to be able to tell them that you made the choice on your own.”

“Tell me about Akira Saito,” Rodney said.

“He’s been at Lotus since he was a very young man and received his Dom mark when he was just eighteen. He’s only eight years older than me and isn’t a sadist. Akira is wealthy, ruthless, and is currently on sabbatical from teaching at Lotus. He’ll return in a few years and take on another student or two. It’s not something he does full time. That being said, if I wanted to return to Lotus for more training he would make himself available to me. That is the promise he’s given all of his students. I’m proud of my legacy with Lotus and his teachings had just as much impact as what I experienced with Dato’ Raja and Master Philippe.”

“Gerard sent me an email. The general consensus is that I will take Philippe Dubois’s offer.”

“He’s a good, strong man,” John murmured.

“You had mentioned asking him to volunteer,” Rodney prodded.

“Yes. I trust him.”

“As you trust Akira Saito?”

John nodded. “Yes, without reservation. I didn’t believe he would involve himself in the matter… he hasn’t marked me.” He unzipped his flight suit and shimmied out of it. “I’ve arranged with the SGC for us to beam down to my father’s house directly.”

“Antoine Devereaux sent me an email demanding that I surrender myself to house custody immediately,” Rodney said dryly as he closed his laptop. “I told him to go fuck himself.”

John bit down on his bottom lip to keep from laughing. “McKay.”

“I’m not letting that ignorant thug boss me around like a fucking slave,” Rodney said moodily. “I imagine that the government will be forced to reveal that we’re on Earth and my location.”

“Agreed but they aren’t getting past my father unless you agree to see them.”

“Oh, I’ll be more than happy to tell them all to their faces exactly what I fucking think of this bullshit,” Rodney muttered and set about packing his computers. “By the time we go back to Atlantis they are all going to be very glad to see me gone.”

– – – –

He beamed into Patrick Sheppard’s private office. John wasn’t surprised to find his father was not alone. Randolph Rampart, Gerard de Sade, Akira Saito, and Dato’ Raja were all in various places around the room giving the impression they’d been there a while.

“John.” Patrick reached out for him and John didn’t give a token protest about being drawn into father’s embrace. His fingers trembled briefly against his father’s thick sweater.

“Dad.” John cleared his throat as his father released him. “I see you have a full house.”

Patrick inclined his head. “They can all leave if that’s what you want.”

“No, it’s fine. The others are waiting to beam down.” John touched the radio in his ear and gave the order to beam down the rest of the family.

Miko and Matt beamed down hand-in-hand. John held out his hand for Miko and she immediately came forward. “Gentlemen, may I present my sister Miko Kusanagi of Lotus.”

Miko glanced around the room shrewdly and said nothing as John transferred her hand to Patrick. “Father.”

“Princess.” Patrick pulled her close and pressed a kiss to her temple. “I have your rooms ready. I am honored to have you home. John tells me you wish to remain unavailable while you are home. Is this Dom you left behind so precious to you?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good,” Patrick murmured. He went to the intercom on his desk and called Jonah to the office. “Ethan it’s good to have you home as well. Claire has been working the staff to the point of crazy getting the house ready for you all. It’s been years since I’ve had you all here at once.”

Ethan nodded. “I’m pleased to be here, Sir, despite the circumstances.”

Patrick inclined his head in Evan Lorne’s direction even as he drew Matt into a hug. “Your father… knows you’ll be here for the next week. I imagine we can blame de Sade for that. I told him to fuck off when he implied he’d like to visit.”

Evan grinned. “I’m sure that went over well.”

“I’m not above kicking his ass,” Patrick muttered.

John went to the bar and poured a drink when Jonah entered and removed everyone but Rodney from the room. He pressed the bourbon into Rodney’s hand and settled his submissive in a love seat near his father’s desk. “O’Neill told me you’d brief me, General Rampart.”

Randolph sighed. “Take a seat, son.”

John sat down on the love seat with McKay and tried to relax. “I’ve already had the de Sade trial system explained to me.”

“Good.” Randolph leaned forward. “You should know up front that the Marine Corps and the President have filed formal protests regarding your being brought to trial in such a way. JAG has spent the last two weeks reviewing the materials provided by Summers to the Institute. The President has issued an executive order preventing the physical punishment of active duty military by a civilian or house court.”

“I’m not worried about that,” John admitted. “I can handle anything a Dom from de Sade could dish out frankly. It’s my understanding that the Peer Board is limited to the strap due to their current make up.”

“Unfortunately that is no longer the case,” Randolph explained. “Dr. Heather Kessler joined the Peer Board six months ago and she’s rated for a bull whip both within the house itself and with the governments of the US and Canada. That being said, she’d never agree to using a bullwhip on you and is the only member of the board that refused to declare a need for a trial at all.”

John still didn’t consider it a problem but he said nothing.

“If I’m found guilty?” John questioned.

Randolph took a deep breath. “If you are convicted of a crime in a civil court of any kind you’ll automatically be detained for General Court-martial. Depending on the evidence and the seriousness of the crime you could spend upwards of ten years in Disciplinary Barracks.” He paused at Rodney’s sharp exhale. “But, I don’t believe it will come to that. I’ve reviewed their evidence and the charges have no merit.”

“What about Jared?” John asked. “Did the Peer Board request information about his death?”

“Yes but it was denied,” Randolph said. “Jared went down in a war zone. It’s classified and it will remain that way for some time to come.”

“And Scott?”

“That information was… they have that… including the recording of the communication between you and Rodney during the incident. Weir filed it in her report with the SGC. Jack O’Neill agreed to its release and after every member of the Peer Board signed the confidentiality agreement they received the report. That was four days ago.”

John nodded and took Rodney’s empty glass from him. He pushed the heavy, glass tumbler onto the corner of his father’s desk. “Where is Philippe?”

“His flight arrives in a few hours,” Patrick interjected. “Rodney.”

Rodney met his gaze immediately. “I’m fine.”

“You are not,” Patrick said gently.

“I’m so furious I could raze the city of New York,” Rodney offered instead. “I considered using the Daedalus’ beaming system to snatch Devereaux off the planet so I could space him. I’m still not convinced it’s not a viable option.” He huffed when John took his hand but relaxed back against the love seat.

“We should nuke him from orbit,” John said and grinned when Rodney laughed.

“It’s the only way to be sure,” McKay agreed wryly.

John took a deep breath. “So, tell them what you decided regarding the social guardian issue.”

Rodney frowned but finally looked at Gerard for the first time since he’d beamed into the room. “When will they reach a decision regarding your fitness as a social guardian?”

“Very shortly after the conclusion of John’s trial,” Gerard murmured. He started to speak but then shook his head.

“Right. I’d like to arrange secondary social guardianship with Lotus through Master Saito.” He looked toward the man and found a small smile when the Lotus Master simply nodded.

Gerard raised an eyebrow. “I’m surprised honestly. We believed you’d choose your Uncle or Philippe.”

“If I had my druthers, I’d pick Dato’ Raja but we all know the Peer Board would probably refuse such a choice if John is found guilty and your rights as a social guardian are stripped. I won’t allow myself to be placed under the social guardianship of an American. My uncle is a citizen of France and they have as many social problems with submissive rights as the US does. Japan, on the other hand, honors submissives on a level very few countries on the planet can meet. Should the de Sade Institute come to be a place I can no longer trust—Lotus would be my refuge.”

“Rodney…” Gerard leaned forward. “You have to know that I’m… I did everything I could to stop this. We’ve filed for a closed trial and Kyle will preside personally. Because John isn’t of de Sade he can’t be tried before the Peer Board as one of our own Doms would be. Kyle will have the final decision and while I can’t order him to the verdict we both want—he’s one of mine and he’s not some freak zealot like Devereaux. He’s a sadist, himself, and in all honesty his appetites aren’t all that different from John’s.”

“I’m furious with you,” Rodney said quietly. “I don’t remember ever being so angry with you, Gerard. I’m disappointed in the leadership of the Institute; it’s shocking that this undereducated thug is actually in a position of power in our House. I’m hurt that you’d allow someone like Devereaux to use me to further himself. You promised me, Gerard, you promised that our house would honor me. You promised me that I would be safe within the confines of our house as long as I lived. Well, I don’t fucking feel honored and I don’t feel safe. You failed me and if this trial damages John in any way, I’ll make you all regret it for the rest of your life.”

John released his hand as Gerard visibly paled. “Rodney, you can go upstairs and rest if you’d like.”

Rodney stood immediately and left the room without another word.

“Wow,” Patrick muttered.

John sent his father a knowing look. “He spent the last three hours researching the New York branch and the individual members of the Peer Board. I’m pretty sure he’s already ruined Devereaux’s credit which is only like step one out of a hundred when it comes to his petty revenge options. I think he intends to drive Devereaux to a very messy public suicide.”

Dato’ Raja snorted in amusement. “Don’t look so upset, Gerard. You had that coming.”

Gerard stood, went to the bar, poured himself a nearly full tumbler of bourbon. “I don’t deny that.” He stared at the alcohol. “John, could I speak with him privately?”

“No,” John said. “That’s not a good idea, at all.” He shook his head when Gerard started to protest. “You’re underestimating his temper, Gerard. I’d hate to have to punish him for punching you in the face and he’s very close to that sort of response. In fact, I’m not even certain I could honestly ask him to apologize for such a violent response.”

Gerard huffed. “He’s not violent by nature, John. His psych profiles have always indicated that he would go to great lengths to avoid physical violence. He never turned on Sam Carter like that and God knows she deserved it.”

John relaxed and threw one arm along the back of the small couch. “The answer is still no, at least for the moment. He deserves some time to collect himself.” He looked away from the man and focused on the wall above his father’s head. “Have you all seen the exhibition footage?”

“Yes,” Patrick answered. “Philippe has seen it as well.”

John nodded. He turned to look at Dato’ Raja. “Sire?”

Syed stared at him for a long moment. “It was lovely, John. A true testament to your training and skill. I’m very irritated that it was shared without your consent. That alone is such an insult that I will demand reparations from de Sade on your behalf. I won’t be dissuaded.” He paused. “Philippe will stand with you in trial. He’s the most even tempered of us and Akira agrees.”

John nodded. “Right. Okay.” He leaned forward and rubbed his face with both hands. “That’s… frankly the hardest we’ve ever played in public or private. I didn’t believe I was out of line and his responses were genuine and at times involuntary. I’ve never pushed him so far beyond his training before and haven’t since. We avoided any heavy play the entire trip home. I’m not… I’m not okay with being accused of abuse.”

“None of us expected you would be,” Akira said. “I’m surprised you didn’t see yourself to the New York Branch of de Sade when you arrived. Surprised but relieved. It would be easy for you to vent your temper on a man like Devereaux but it wouldn’t serve you long term.”

“Blake is all for letting you kill them all and burning the estate to the ground,” Randolph said dryly. “I think the President would let you if you weren’t so damned patriotic.”

“I could be less… patriotic,” John said lowly. “Devereaux sent Rodney an email demanding that he come to New York and surrender himself to House protective custody.” He paused. “Rodney suggested that he go fuck himself.”

“That’s going to go over well,” Gerard said pointedly. “Don’t you monitor his outgoing email?”

“He’s not my pet, Gerard,” John snapped. He huffed and slouched back on the love seat. “Besides, he sends upwards of two hundred emails a day while he works. I’ve got better things to do then read all of that. I get copies of things he thinks are worth my time or that might interest me intellectually. But I have no desire whatsoever to censor him like a child and he certainly isn’t the kind of submissive that would tolerate that sort of oversight no matter his collar status.”

A knock on the door prevented Gerard from responding but the older Dom glared at John. Patrick Sheppard went to the door and opened it without a word.

“Reginald.”

“Sir, we have visitors.”

“I made it clear that we weren’t taking any social calls this evening,” Patrick said evenly. “I take it there is someone with a badge in my foyer?”

“Yes, Sir, an Agent Bryan Durrant and two individuals that declined to give me identification.” Reginald raised an eyebrow. “I assume his companions are from de Sade.”

“Show them into the formal salon and inform Dr. McKay that he has visitors. It is very likely we will have no choice but to allow the Agent from the Overseers Office to meet with him.”

– – – –

“Agent Durrant, Department of Submissive Abuse Prevention.”

Patrick took the hand the man offered. “How can we help the DSAP, Agent Durrant?”

“Sir, we’ve had a report from de Sade concerning the impending House trial of your son, Mr. John Sheppard, and his refusal to give his submissive over to protective house custody.”

“Colonel,” Patrick corrected. “It’s Colonel John Sheppard, US Marine Corps and he has not refused his submissive protective custody. Dr. McKay, himself, refused the protection of his House.” His gaze flicked to Antoine Devereaux. “As Mr. Devereaux is personally aware.”

“He doesn’t have the right to refuse protective custody,” Devereaux snapped.

Durrant cleared his throat and shifted slightly away from Devereaux and the young Dom he’d brought with him. “Dr. McKay is certainly within in his rights to refuse anyone’s protection, Devereaux. A House trial is a social matter, not a legal one.”

“Colonel Sheppard has been charged with multiple counts of physical abuse and the forced collaring a de Sade Courtesan, Agent Durrant.” Devereaux glared pointedly at John. “The man’s an animal.”

“Looks pretty normal to me,” Durrant said dryly. He sighed. “Colonel Sheppard, the law demands that I speak with your submissive and determine his circumstances for myself.”

John went to the door where Reginald was waiting. “Reginald, please retrieve Dr. McKay and inform him of the nature of our guests’ visit.” He closed the door and forced himself across the room. He sat down in a chair and crossed his legs at the knee. “We’ve had a very long day traveling, Agent Durrant; do your job but keep that in mind. Dr. McKay is exhausted and irritable at present.”

Just a few minutes passed before the door opened and Rodney entered. Devereaux bounded to his feet and started forward immediately only to be cut off by Durrant. “Master Devereaux, contain yourself. Dr. McKay is a collared submissive and you’ll respect social protocols or I’ll remove you from the situation before I begin my evaluation.”

Rodney for his part, raised one eyebrow in Devereaux’s direction before strolling across the room and sitting down in a chair. He motioned to the chair across from him. “Sit, Agent Durrant, ask your questions.”

Agent Durrant took a deep breath. “Hmm, right.” He ran fingers through short hair and sat down. “Dr. McKay, thank you for agreeing to speak with me.” He pulled a digital recorder out of his pocket. “I’ll need to record this interview.”

“Fine.”

“I can request that your Dom leave the room, Dr. McKay. Legally, he would have to accept my authority on this matter considering the abuse charges that have been filed with your house.”

“I have no reason to fear John and I won’t have any problem answering your questions honestly.” Rodney paused when Reginald entered the room with a tray. “Excuse me, I ordered coffee. Would you like some as well?”

“That would be fine,” Durrant agreed. He accepted the cup from Reginald and put the recorder down on the small table between the two chairs. “Mr. Devereaux has indicated that Colonel Sheppard forced you to wear his collar? Is that true?”

“Of course not, and if you’d bothered do a background check on me you’d know I cut off my ex-wife’s collar in public. I wouldn’t tolerate being forced to wear anyone’s collar.” Rodney plucked a cookie off the plate Reginald had left behind and shrugged when Durrant set aside his own coffee without having taken a sip.

“Did you levy abuse charges against your Dom with your House?”

“No. In fact, I protested the trial formally the moment I could. John has never touched me in anger, never punished me without cause, and never once in our entire relationship have I feared him.” Rodney explained. “The entire thing is a political maneuver designed to discredit my Courtesan Master.”

“May I have the name?”

“Gerard de Sade. If you’d like to speak with him—he’s here.” Rodney paused as the color drained out of Durrant’s face. “I apologize that Devereaux used your department and you personally to further his little game, Agent Durrant. I realize you’re just here to do your job.”

“Yes, well.” Durrant picked up his coffee cup and drank from it in a rush. “It is my job to see to the safety of submissives and to insure their rights are respected, Dr. McKay.”

“Agent Durrant, I insist you take Dr. McKay in custody and escort him to the New York branch of de Sade.”

“Mr. Devereaux, your understanding of submissive protection law is severely impaired.” Durrant stood and set aside the half-empty coffee cup. “What you are suggesting is kidnapping. Furthermore, the Overseers Office will not act as enforcement for House matters. I have a great deal of respect for the de Sade Institute but it doesn’t extend to violating federal law. Dr. McKay denies any sort of abuse and there are no obvious signs of physical or emotional trauma.”

“Reginald will show you out, Agent Durrant.” Patrick stood and walked to the door. He opened it and motioned the government agent through the doorway.

“Thank you, Dr. Sheppard.”

Rodney focused on his coffee for a minute before turning his gaze to Devereaux who had arrogantly sat down in the chair Durrant abandoned. “There is no circumstance where I will surrender myself to your custody. As you’ve questioned John and Gerard’s fitness to be in my life, I’ve chosen a secondary social guardian. Master Akira Saito of Lotus. He is currently in residence so if you have any questions for him—he may answer them. Though considering the insult you’ve dealt him, he might cut off your head instead. Lotus Doms aren’t known for their… gentle hand when it comes to punishing those who have wronged them.”

“You are a marked student of the de Sade Institute, Rodney. Your behavior is insulting and I assure you that you will be punished for it.”

“Submission is given and with that submission comes the right to punish for wrong doing. I have not, nor will I ever submit to the likes of you,” Rodney said bluntly. “Whatever you intended to accomplish with this trial, Devereaux, it’s not going to happen. I could buy and sell you a hundred times over. With that kind of money comes power that transcends dynamic. No matter the outcome of this trial, I plan to ruin you—financially, politically, socially—you’re done. You could’ve come at Gerard from any direction but you chose me and you’re going to regret that until the day you die.”

“I won’t be threatened by you,” Devereaux hissed. “How dare you speak to me…” He stood up and John cleared his throat.

“You lay a hand on him, Devereaux, and I’ll gut you.” John inclined his head. “You’ve read my military files. You know perfectly well that I’m capable of it. Considering my military worth—I’d probably even get away with it if I did it in this room, right now.” His gaze flicked to the young, silent Dom Devereaux was using for muscle. “You can’t think he’d be much of an obstacle.”

“You’re finished, Sheppard,” Devereaux promised.

“You should leave now,” Patrick said. “And you are not welcome to return, ever.”

– – – –

Rodney slipped, naked, into the bed beside his Dom and said nothing when John gathered him up and tucked him close. They hadn’t had sex in several days, hadn’t played even on a low key level since the message from Earth had been received. It made him nervous as hell. John hadn’t been reluctant to touch him but the touch was different—in some instances non-sexual. They’d been together almost a year and he’d never once doubted John’s desire for him—until now.

John pressed a kiss against the back of his head and took a deep breath. “If I removed your collar—the Peer Board would probably withdraw the trial. You’ve more than proven your worth to the IOA. They’d let you return to Atlantis.”

“Without you?” Rodney questioned quietly. “It would be an admission of guilt if you removed your collar. The Marine Corps would have no choice but to reassign you—keep us apart to preserve your career as much as possible, which wouldn’t be a lot. If you’re going to go that route, you might as well take your father’s jet to New York and butcher them all.”

“I want what is best for you,” John murmured. “This trial—it’s going to force you to talk about things that you never wanted to talk about. You avoided pressing charges against Carter to protect yourself from this.”

“I don’t care about any of that, John.” He turned in his Dom’s arms and their gazes connected in the semi-darkness of the room. “If you don’t think what we have is worth fighting for—that’s one thing but I don’t think self-sacrifice is all that fucking sexy to be honest. It’s bullshit. This petty, ridiculous trial is nothing more than political posturing and frankly it’s obscene that they felt it necessary to remove you from your mission to satisfy the whims of a minor Dom in the Institute. Maybe Devereaux isn’t the only one chaffing under the influence of the de Sade family but frankly there are other pleasure houses if they don’t like it.”

“I look forward to you telling them that,” John said with a small laugh.

“I do need to have a serious conversation with you,” Rodney confided. “It’s about your recent cock-stingy ways.”

John flushed. “You’re horrible. Maybe I’m punishing you.”

“Maybe you’re punishing yourself,” Rodney said quietly. “I saw how tense you were when we beamed down. Were you really that worried that your father or Dato’ Raja had a problem with the exhibition footage?”

“I’d really hoped my father hadn’t watched it,” John admitted in a hushed voice.

“I bet he feels the same,” Rodney said with a little laugh. He nudged John on his back and slid astride his Dom’s hips. “If you have some kind of performance problem going on…”

John lifted his hips slightly and rubbed the length of his hard cock against the underside of his submissive’s balls and dick. “Insulting me is liable to get you spanked, McKay.”

“I sincerely fucking hope so,” Rodney said in a pouty complaint.

John dragged his nails down McKay’s thighs and raised an eyebrow when Rodney hissed softly in pleasure. “I guess I have been neglecting you.”

“Just a little,” McKay said breathlessly.

“Don’t close your eyes,” John murmured. “Look at me.” He reached out and turned on the bedside lamp. “Get the lube.”

Rodney shifted slightly and leaned over to rummage through the top drawer of the nightstand. He pulled out a small, sealed tube and used his thumbnail to break the thin, crisp plastic surrounding the top.

“How do you want me?”

“Just like this,” John said. “Just… open yourself up and give me a nice long ride.”

McKay opened himself up with practiced ease, working slick fingers into his asshole repeatedly. He tossed the lube aside and wrapped his hands around the headboard as he shifted upward. John used one hand to position his cock and Rodney impaled himself in one long, slow drop.

“Fuck.”

“Yeah,” John agreed. “Perfect.” He braced his feet on the bed and clamped his hands on Rodney’s hips. “Just like that.”

McKay rolled his hips as he moved, fucking himself on his Dom’s thick cock in a slow, easy rhythm. John relaxed on the bed and let Rodney work over him for long, pleasured soaked minutes until they were both damp with sweat. When he could take no more, he smacked Rodney’s ass more to get his attention than to excite the submissive further.
“On your back.”

Rodney lifted off John’s cock with a little hum of pleasure and sprawled on his back on the bed. He spread his legs, tilted his hips slightly to expose his fucked open hole and lifted his arms above his head to wait.

John grinned. “Christ, Rodney, I’ve seen that pose before…oh. Is that you in that de Sade book? The face is in shadow.”

Rodney smirked. “It might be.”

John brushed his fingers over Rodney’s mark. “Before you were marked, of course, or they airbrushed your mark off.”

“The day before I was marked,” Rodney clarified.

“Are all the pictures you?” John asked as he hooked his hands into the bends of Rodney’s knees to spread him open completely. “I’m irrationally jealous about this.”

“They’re all me,” Rodney said. “It is called Portrait of a Courtesan after all. All of the pictures were taken in training. And there is no need to be jealous. Other Doms might have pictures of me but you have me. I’m all yours.”

“All mine,” John agreed and pushed into him. “Can you come like this tonight? Just on my cock?”

“Anything you want,” Rodney said quietly and groaned when John started to fuck into him. “I can come for you whenever you want.”

John shuddered. It was a heady and rewarding thought—that McKay could and would come on his command despite his established sexual kinks. His pace got a little rough and fast after that—it had been entirely too long since they’d fucked and he knew he was to blame for that.

“So good, fuck,” John whispered and groaned. “God, Rodney, I love you so much.”

Rodney shuddered and came all over his stomach. “Oh.”

John paused, shock filtering over his face. “That’s… wow.” He grinned as a blush stole over McKay’s face. “You’re going to get spanked for coming without permission.”

“Yeah, okay,” Rodney agreed breathlessly. “I’d love that… I mean as long as it’s a fun spanking. I deserve a fun spanking.” He let his head fall back as John started to move again.

“It can be a fun spanking,” John agreed breathlessly as he started to come. “Neither one of us…ah fuck.” He shivered and his arms weakened briefly. John leaned down and pressed a soft kiss against McKay’s mouth before he slipped from his sub’s ass. “Let’s not tell anyone ever about our impressive lack of stamina just then.”

Rodney chuckled. “This is what happens when you don’t fuck me regularly like I deserve.”

John dropped down on the bed beside him and laughed despite himself. “I think if we admitted to this to our Pleasure Masters, we both might get spanked.”

“I’d love to see Dato’ Raja spank you or better yet, he could spank me,” Rodney said wistfully.

“This future spanking is getting less fun for you by the second, just so you know,” John said conversationally and rubbed his stomach—sated and only slightly put out by the fact that he’d shot off like a sixteen year old.

– – – –

Miranda Sheppard darted into the room half way through the silent, not completely uncomfortable breakfast and climbed up into Rodney’s lap with a frown. “Good morning, Uncle Rodney.”

Rodney adjusted her slightly and regarded her sleep creased face severely. “It’s far too early for piano torture. What has you all sullen?” He used his thumb to rub at the skin between her eyes. “Don’t squint. Do you want to be the only girl in elementary school with frown lines?”

She huffed. “I put Tollan crème on my face every night. It’s part of my régime.”

Rodney grinned. “You’re ridiculous. What did you want to eat?”

“Not hungry.” She crossed her arms defiantly.

“You are far too young for an eating disorder,” Rodney said with a shake of his head. “Let’s steal your Uncle John’s bacon.”

John pointed at them both with his fork. “Coming between a man and his bacon is a serious matter, McKay.”

Miranda pointed her finger back at him. “Sharing is caring, Uncle John.” She turned to Rodney. “But I don’t want any. I’m a vegetarian this week.”

“You’re going to have to get off my lap,” Rodney said seriously. “What if you contaminate me with your vegetarianism? I’m not really down with plant murder.”

She stared at him aghast for several seconds but then scowled at him. “Honestly.”

Rodney shifted his plate over a little as Reginald placed a small fruit plate and a bowl of oatmeal in front of them. “I think you’re really underestimating the importance of bacon.” He pulled the sugar bowl toward them when she wiggled her fingers toward it. “Where is your more interesting sibling?”

Miranda sent him a dirty look. “I know I’m your favorite.”

“You totally are not,” Rodney protested.

“The Barbie lap top you got me for my birthday says differently,” Miranda confided.

“I got your brother a lap top, too,” Rodney reminded.

“It doesn’t have Barbie on it,” Miranda stated and nodded as if that ended the argument.

John laughed. “What did his have on it?”

“Luke Skywalker,” David said dryly. “The damn thing makes light saber noises every time he clicks on something. The worst part is that people from R&D keep showing up at the house trying to get a look at them.”

“Jeannie helped me with some programming,” Rodney explained. “Not much.”

“I’m pretty sure Joe is creating the Matrix,” David told his brother and frowned when John laughed at him. “Seriously.”

The door swung open from the kitchen and Joseph Sheppard came through with Reginald. “Daddy, if Miranda gets to eat in here… I should, too. Fair is fair.”

Matt snatched his nephew up and rearranged his place setting to make room for the kid’s plate of bacon and eggs. “I see you aren’t a vegetarian this week.”

Joe sent his sister a dirty look. “That’s just unnatural.” He wrapped one fist around his fork and raised an eyebrow at McKay. “Uncle Rodney, when we finish will you play the Devil for us? Master Claude was fired for being rude so we haven’t had lessons in weeks. Grandpa has to do background checks.”

“What is the Devil?” Evan asked as Miko entered the room with Claire.

“The concert grand piano they take lessons on,” Rodney said dryly. “What did Master Claude do?”

Miranda frowned and shrugged. “Said mean things to Joe. So I kicked him in the leg and told Daddy.”

Rodney raised one eyebrow at David Sheppard which earned him a brief smile from the man. “Well?”

David sighed. “Master Claude had some rather unfortunate views on gender roles and submissive rights. His backward and socially unacceptable politics didn’t show up in the background check. We’ve added a few questions to the job application as a result. I won’t have my children taught to do anything by an idiot.”

– – – –

Philippe Dubois was everything John said he was and more. Rodney was still under the man’s knowing gaze as they were introduced and John was embraced with a great deal of affection. His gaze narrowed briefly at the kiss Dubois pressed against his Dom’s mouth and he averted his gaze when the La Petite Master smiled broadly at him.

They settled into the small office space that John had taken over shortly after breakfast. Philippe sat down on a small couch and accepted the coffee John offered him with a grateful, open smile. He was nothing like Dato’ Raja or Master Akira which was unnerving as hell. It stunned him that a man so pleasant and hedonistic would’ve chosen John for personal instruction. Yet, John wore his mark.

“I’ve reviewed the evidence,” Philippe began and Rodney didn’t miss the way John stiffened against him. “La Petite Mort is prepared and will sanction the de Sade Institute severely if your trial proceeding is anything less than fair. They’ve already received our conditions and I’m considering protesting Kyle Napier’s placement as the master of the trial.”

“Your reason?” John asked.

“He was trained and marked by Gerard,” Philippe said pointedly as his gaze drifted around the room and settled on the de Sade Dom. “I’m not sure I can trust a Disciple with your future, John.”

Gerard glared at him. “What are you implying, Dubois?”

“That anyone of your Disciples is capable of ruining John to protect you,” Philippe responded evenly.

The very idea had fury pooling in Rodney’s gut. It must have shown on his face because Gerard held out a placating hand.

“Don’t,” Rodney snapped. “I don’t want assurances and excuses, Gerard.”

“What do you want, Rodney?” Gerard asked.

Rodney averted his gaze. “Nothing you’re in a position to provide.”

“I can see you’re very upset, Dr. McKay,” Philippe murmured. “We have only a few days to prepare for the trial and I will need to speak with you privately at some point. Do you consent to that?”

Rodney looked over his face and huffed. “You’re extremely attractive; it’s horrible.”

Philippe grinned. “It’s a familial curse.”

“I’m sure,” Rodney said. “If John is agreement, I’ll make myself available to you though I don’t promise to answer all of your questions.”

“You should know that de Sade has filed a request for a comprehensive medical examination,” Philippe said. “You’ll not be allowed to attend, John.”

John’s gaze widened in shock. “You can’t possibly expect us to submit to something like that.”

“It’ll make things easier with the Peer Board.”

“They can go fuck themselves,” John snapped.

Dubois sighed. “Which reminds me… why aren’t you monitoring his communication? He’s sent vicious emails to nine of the ten members of the Peer Board and has apparently filed personal law suits in civil court against all of them and Antoine Devereaux as of an hour ago.”

John rubbed the back of his neck. “It makes him feel better.”

“Christ,” Dubois frowned. “Which one of you is wearing the collar in this relationship?”

“That was out of line, Philippe,” Syed snapped from his place near the only window in the room.

John glanced towards McKay and found his sub glaring at Dubois. “Relax, McKay, Philippe’s default setting is asshole.”

McKay frowned but nodded. Before he could say anything, a cell phone started ringing and he pulled an iPhone out of his pocket. He sighed and glanced up as Miko entered the study on an identical phone.

“Yes, Dr. Ingram, I’m completely aware of your work on the project in question.” She held out her hand and Rodney handed her his phone. “Let me assure you, if you ever manage to have an original idea concerning the technology, you’ll be granted unfettered access to Dr. McKay. Until such time, no matter what Dr. Carter has said, you’re simply too stupid to even communicate with him through email much less meet with him in person.”

Rodney leaned against John and relaxed so he could watch his favorite princess work. Miko worked with his phone for a few minutes then handed it back to him.

“No, absolutely not, the last time I allowed you to be in the same room with Rodney you nearly gave him a stroke. Your arrogance and assholery are only outmatched by your ignorance. Now, I’ve blocked your number so you can’t contact him again. As always, your emails will be filtered through his staff.” She huffed as she left the room. “Speak to me that way again, doctor, and I’ll send a platoon of Marines to Nevada to teach you some manners.”

“You’re a bad influence on her,” John said to Rodney with a sly grin.

“What makes you think she wasn’t a bad influence on me?” Rodney demanded.

“Experience,” John answered and laughed when Rodney merely shrugged.

“About the medical exam…” Dubois began and paused when Rodney huffed. “Dr. McKay?”

“Even if John agreed, I won’t. There are precious few medical personnel alive that I would allow that sort of intimate access to my body and I won’t allow myself to be violated on the whims of Antoine Devereaux. This trial is going to happen and I can’t stop it but I can assure you all that every single person who crosses me during the days to come will suffer for it for the rest of their lives. Every indignity I have to endure because of Devereaux’s obscene ambitions will be doubled on anyone who gets in my way. You think they’re pissed about the civil suits I’ve filed, do you? That’s just the beginning of what is in store for them. I already have access to the records and have reviewed the transcripts of all of the Peer Board’s official meetings concerning me. The ones that sided with Devereaux and allowed him to create this mess—they’re done. I’m going to ruin them all.”

Dubois cleared his throat. “Dr. McKay, I realize you are frustrated with the circumstances of this situation but the trial process is a matter of social order. It is designed to protect submissives….” He trailed off and set back at the furious glare he received for his efforts.

“Do you know how many de Sade Doms have been brought trial without the complaint of a submissive?” He held up a hand when Dubois started to speak. “None. Do you know how many Doms outside of de Sade who have been brought to trial within the Institute without the complaint of a submissive since sexual slavery was outlawed in the United States? None. They had to go back sixty-two goddamned years to find precedent for this trial, Dubois. Those sorry motherfuckers are treating me like a goddamned slave.

“They decided what I wanted was immaterial. They chose to violate the privacy of my relationship based on nothing but the word of a clearly disturbed individual who maneuvered herself into a position where she could try to gather evidence. And their so-called evidence is in itself a violation so disgusting that I want to have each and every person who viewed it without permission strapped to a cross and caned within an inch of their lives. So don’t… just don’t sit there and talk about social order and submissive protection like it fucking matters to these people.

“Antoine Devereaux doesn’t actually care about my safety. As to the personal lawsuits, I’m not finished filing them.” He stood from the love seat. “The way I figure it—forty-three people watched me come without my permission. Every single one of them—the men in this room included—are going to formally apologize to me for the violation of my privacy or I’ll see them in court.”

John said nothing as Rodney stalked from the room without his permission. He found he wasn’t even irritated. Hearing what he’d said, understanding the implications of being treated like a slave by his own house left him furious and bereft on Rodney’s behalf.

Philippe sat back in his chair and offered the room a wry grin. “I think I’m in love.”

John sent the man a narrowed-eyed look. “I’m capable of cold-blooded murder.”

“He’d really sue me?” Philippe asked.

Syed snorted. “I’ve already prepared an apology on behalf of my entire house and bought him a beach house in Hawaii. He’ll receive the deed before the trial. I suggest you consider your options carefully. No matter anything else, he is a Courtesan¸ Philippe, and no one is in a position to deny that his privacy was violated in a base and lurid fashion. Were he marked by my House—everyone who viewed that recorded performance would face my personal judgment.”

“Syed, I have no control over it!” Gerard said.

“You damn well could!” John snapped before anyone else could respond. “Keep covering your own ass, de Sade, and he’ll break with you. Don’t doubt it. He’s not the trembling boy you marked anymore.”

“That has never been more clear to me,” Gerard said quietly. “You can’t think… John… I’ll never stop loving him. The depth of my failure in this situation appears to know no end. I see how angry and hurt he is. I could murder Antoine Devereaux.”

John wasn’t entirely sure he wouldn’t. He glanced towards the doorway when he heard a careful tap he’d been hearing for months. Evan Lorne was standing in the doorway, jaw clenched. “What’s got you in a twist, Major?”

Evan exhaled sharply. “My father…”

John winced. “Dad, I think Evan needs a drink.”

Patrick sighed. “What’s that asshat done now, son?”

Evan entered the room with a shake of his head. “He’s being himself, of course.” He took the glass Patrick offered him and slouched down in a chair near the window. “The bastard actually called me and ordered me to request a transfer.”

“Because of me?” John questioned. “The trial?”

“He said he didn’t want me tainted by being under your command,” Evan said wearily.

“What did you say in return?” Philippe asked.

Evan flushed. “I told him that living with the taint of his last name had caused me more harm than anyone else would be capable of and that I intended on…” He took a deep breath. “I’m taking Matt’s last name when we marry.”

“Jesus Christ,” Gerard muttered. “I bet that bastard lost his mind.”

“You know my father, sir?” Evan asked with a frown.

“You’re one of Kyle’s,” Gerard said. “I know the details of all of the Doms he has trained. He’s only personally trained four—Mason Blake suggested he take you under his care during your sessions. Have you spoken with him about the trial?”

Evan shook his head. “There is a conflict of interest to consider.”

“As for your father,” Gerard sighed. “Yes, I know him far better than I would like. He is an intimate friend of Antoine Devereaux and a real son of a bitch. I came close to sanctioning him twice while I was the House Master for the Institute. He’s tried to use his relationship with you on several occasions to influence Kyle. The results have never been in his favor as Kyle is very aware of the fact that you blame your father for your mother’s death.” He leaned back in his chair and relaxed with a grin. “Besides, you’re gorgeous and I make a habit of keeping track of such things within my own house.”

Evan flushed and tossed back the bourbon he’d only been nursing.

John laughed. “What else did you tell your father?”

“To go fuck himself in the orifice that would cause him the least amount of pleasure,” Evan admitted. “After he also suggested that Matt’s value would be diminished if you were found guilty at trial.” He glared at the floor in front of him, clearly furious.

“Well, I can see someone has been talking to their sperm donor,” Matt said dryly as he entered the room. He strolled to Evan and offered his Dom a hand. “Come along, darling, I’ll draw you a bath.”

Evan raised one eyebrow at him.

“I can’t say the rest in front of my father. He’s delicate.”

Evan laughed and took the offered hand.

John said nothing as Matt took his Dom away and looked toward his father. “Did you know about the name thing?”

Patrick nodded. “We’ve discussed it. I have no problems with it. Do you?”

“No, of course, not,” John said. “He’s everything I’d want for Matt and then some. I’ve never met a better, more honorable man I wasn’t related to.” He took a deep breath and pulled out his phone. He dialed a number from memory and left the comfort of the loveseat. Speaking to a superior officer while sitting on his ass had always made him uncomfortable.

Jack O’Neill answered immediately. “John.”

“Sir, I need to speak with you. I’d prefer to do it in person. Could you have the Apollo beam me back to the Mountain?”

“I’ll come to you,” Jack said. “You’re technically suspended from duty until after the trial is concluded. The action hasn’t been recorded in your file, however and it won’t be as long as the trial is concluded in the manner we believe it should.”

“Thank you, sir. When can I expect you?”

“Momentarily,” Jack said and ended the phone call.

John frowned and pocketed his phone. Jack O’Neill appeared in front of him thirty seconds later. John flushed. “I apologize, sir, this wasn’t an emergency.”

Jack raised an eyebrow and unbuttoned his jacket. “Sheppard, do you have any idea how many times I’ve been screamed at by the President since this mess began? If we weren’t eighteen months from declassification, I believe Hayes would’ve staged an accident for quite a few people. He’s already questioned me about the feasibility of a failed military satellite crash landing on Devereaux’s house.”

John grinned before he could help himself. “Yes, well, do let him know that I’m ready and able to do whatever he might require, sir. Bourbon?”

“I’d love one.” Jack said and took a seat in the chair Evan had abandoned. He glanced around the room. “Quite the party.”

Syed huffed. “You and I have very definitions of what a party is, General O’Neill.”

“Yeah, Syed prefers everyone be naked at his parties,” John said as he handed O’Neill a tumbler.

Unable to sit back down, John went to the window that Syed had been lounging against until O’Neill’s arrival. Now his Pleasure Master was seated at the desk near the back of the room with a smart phone in his hand.

“Sir,” John began. “Will this trial damage the men under my command if I’m found guilty?”

Jack winced and set aside the bourbon untouched. “Not with me.”

“But with others?” John asked.

“It certainly won’t be official,” Jack said bluntly. “But it will be known to those high up in command who served under you during the time period. They’ll be questioned and perhaps even investigated if you end up in front of JAG. Do I think that is likely? No. But if it does… the men under your command have the least to worry about.”

John turned and faced him. “Sir?”

“It will set back the declassification of the SGC by ten years,” Jack said bluntly. “If a high ranking officer in the SGC is found guilty of abusing a civilian submissive in his care… Frankly, John, if Rodney had filed charges against Carter you would have never met me. I can’t say my career is going to survive Carter’s testimony at this trial much less if she’d been forced to defend her obscene actions in a trial of her own. If this takes you down, it will take me with you. Mason Blake… Rampart… it’s going to filter up the chain of command like a hurricane. No one is walking away from this clean.”

John exhaled sharply, his blood started to rush, and he averted his gaze because he knew his eyes were shifting black. They always did when he was angry—a side effect that Carson Beckett had been unable to correct after the bug incident. “In that case, I’d like to formally request that in the event I’m brought before JAG and found guilty of abuse that I be allowed twelve hours after the verdict to settle my affairs.”

“That depends,” Jack said conversationally. “What does settle your affairs mean?”

“I figured I’d earn my time in Leavenworth,” John said bluntly.

Jack picked up his drink and downed the contents. “Twenty-four hours, then. I wouldn’t want you miss anyone because you ran out of time.”

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Patrick ground out through clenched teeth. “If you think…” He trailed off and took a deep breath. “Gerard, if my son goes to jail for this shit I’m going to murder you.”

Patrick stalked from the room without another word and Gerard stood. “Right.”

“He doesn’t mean it,” John began.

Gerard sighed. “Oh, yes, he does and I don’t blame him at all. You’re his boy. I get… that and I want you to know that no matter what else anyone thinks, I’m not going to sacrifice you to save myself some embarrassment. Kyle knows. Rodney… obviously cares about you a great deal and that means there is precious little I won’t do to keep you safe. And frankly if it were up to me, you could go kill Antoine Devereaux right now.”

– – – –

“Thomas.”

“Heather.” Thomas Grant sat down in the seat he was directed to by Kyle Napier. “I trust you’ve read the report I submitted?”

“I admit to being a bit concerned,” Kyle admitted. “I wasn’t before but… do you honestly think that Rodney McKay would break with de Sade over this trial? Do you know the kind of shit storm that would cause?”

“I think if there is even a single hint of disrespect shown to John Sheppard that Rodney McKay will destroy us,” Thomas said placidly. “The man is extremely wealthy and he has far more power than he’s ever demonstrated before despite the fact that he’s a submissive. I know you’ve been read into the Stargate program so you need to understand that McKay literally is the smartest man on this planet and his worth as an asset in the protection of our galaxy cannot be measured. He’s a priceless, peerless military asset and John Sheppard makes him feel safe. I have to think he hasn’t had that in a long time and there is literally nothing he wouldn’t do to keep that safety and affection. Sheppard adores him, coddles him, and pleasures him in ways that no other Dom has ever accomplished. Devereaux wants to destroy us from the inside out, Kyle. He wants to remove the de Sade family from our Pleasure House – destroy their power base because he was slighted. He wants your place and arrogantly assumed his distant relation to Gerard would give it to him.”

“Is he a threat to McKay?”

“He might have been before he actually met Sheppard. I understand he showed up at Patrick Sheppard’s house last night,” Thomas sat back in his seat and crossed his legs. “Men like Antoine Devereaux play at the kind of dominance that John Sheppard comes by naturally. If that asshat puts his hands on McKay, Colonel Sheppard will kill him. I couldn’t be more serious about this.”

Kyle nodded and turned to Heather. “Your progress with the board?”

“None, Devereaux has them firmly in his court and they aren’t going to honor McKay’s request for a dismissal. In fact, they were extremely offended he filed it but that might be because of all the lawsuits he filed shortly after he made land, as it were. I already settled by the way and I suggest you do the same.”

Kyle frowned. “Really?”

She laughed. “Yes, really. I arranged to furnish the house Dato’ Raja bought him in Hawaii and the house Gerard is currently in the process of buying him in Virginia. He managed to talk to the people living next to Patrick Sheppard to let him buy their house for McKay. Apparently, it’s a two-fer as Patrick’s submissive hates their neighbors and Jonah Dean is so infuriated by this whole mess that Lotus has contacted every single member of the Peer Board to let us know how they don’t appreciate the fact that our petty house politics have upset not one but three Geisha to the point where they’ve filed formal complaints about us. One of them is a red petal and all three of them will be in court sitting right behind John Sheppard.”

Kyle rubbed his face with one hand. “I… I really don’t appreciate this shit.”

“No, I can’t see how you would,” Thomas said dryly. “Back to my report. Was your only concern McKay’s reaction?”

“Sheppard is a heavy combat asset,” Kyle murmured. “What can I expect from him in this setting?”

“He’s career military and grew up under the heavy hand of Dato’ Raja. The only way Sheppard could lose his shit in the course of the hearing is if someone verbally or physically abused McKay. He won’t tolerate that shit, Kyle, in any form and you need to keep a heavy hand in on the entire proceeding as a result. Every single disrespect shown to McKay will be eventually dealt with by Sheppard and God fucking forbid this trial not go in his favor.”

“I don’t… what does that mean?”

“If he’s separated from McKay, taken from his command, and his career is destroyed…” Thomas took a deep breath. “When a man like John Sheppard has nothing left to live for people who wronged him aren’t going to live long. He knows he’s done nothing wrong, Kyle.”

“I know that, too,” Kyle said exasperated. “I have no intention of finding John Sheppard guilty of abuse.”
“You might not have a choice,” Heather said quietly. “You and I both know despite the fact that the Peer Board can’t stand in judgment of a Dom not of our house that you’re required to take their council in private before you render judgment. There are many on the board who are horrified by what they’ve learned about McKay’s circumstances. They’re furious he was allowed off the planet and put in such danger.”

“We don’t have the right to say he can’t,” Kyle snapped. “He’s not a goddamned slave.”

“Devereaux has been maneuvering and planning this since you were named House Master,” Thomas said. “One way or another, his goal was always to undermine and destroy Gerard. He must have thought he’d hit the mother lode when it became known who Gerard’s Courtesan was. Rodney’s circumstances aren’t the norm for a submissive of his training and I’m sure it rankles many. Even Gerard isn’t particularly thrilled with the life Rodney chose to live. That being said, he doesn’t have the right to interfere.”

“You’re saying he might be planning something beyond what he’s already done,” Kyle said. “Fantastic.”

– – – –

“You don’t like me,” Philippe said.

“That would be rather unfortunate if it were true,” Rodney said mildly and stirred his coffee. “I find you… discomforting to be honest but that hasn’t translated into any sort of negative emotion so far.”

“Why?” Dubois asked as he relaxed back in his chair.

“You’re… it’s more about John than you,” Rodney finally admitted. “I see Dato’ Raja’s training in John—the way he moves and the way he uses tools in our sessions. I don’t see you and I should. It bothers me.”

Philippe grinned. “Oh, you see me, Rodney.” He inclined his head. “When I met your Dom he was young and intent on providing pleasure. Dato’ Raja sent John to me, you know, to teach him how to accept pleasure. You know I was his first, right?”

Rodney frowned in confusion. “I don’t follow.”

“The first to fuck him,” Dubois said bluntly and smirked when Rodney glared at him. “Don’t be mad, McKay, you knew there had to be a first.”

Rodney huffed and shoved a whole cookie in his mouth. He chewed it sullenly and averted his gaze as he processed his misplaced jealousy. He swallowed and sighed. “Right.”

“So you see me,” Philippe murmured. “When he fucks you and most definitely when he lets you fuck him.”

“Wow, I changed my mind, I hate you.”

Philippe grinned. “I bet you wish you did.” He grew serious. “The thing is, McKay, that I know John Sheppard so I know he isn’t guilty of hurting you more than you can handle. I know he hasn’t mistreated you in word or deed on purpose. He’s a careful man so I don’t worry about serious accidents during play.”

“All right,” Rodney said. “So what is your concern?”

“It’s my job to advocate for him during the trial. To protect him in the fullest measure of the word. I need to know if you’ll be my partner in this.” He held up a hand to prevent McKay from immediately agreeing. “Hear me out.”

“Okay.”

“There will be times during the course of the trial where you will be forced to discuss situations and people you’d rather not. This includes your ex-wife and John. You’re going to have to be frank and explicit in your answers. Don’t give them any room whatsoever to twist your words or alter the meaning of your words. This is important and not just for this trial. If John ends up being reviewed by the Judge Advocate, the transcript of this trial will be part of that review.”

“I will throw Sam Carter under a bus for John,” Rodney said bluntly. “It would ruin more than her career and I don’t care. I will speak explicitly and honestly about every single thing you wish without exception if it keeps John safe.”

The End

Author’s Note: I only have one part to go in this arc of Ties That Bind and I find that incredibly rewarding and sad at the same time. Happy Holidays everyone.

Series Page

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It's not the usual kind of hobby for a "domestic engineer" in her 30's but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people's expectations.

176 Comments:

  1. Wow. What can I say? Just wow. Mindblowing, as usual. Thank you so much for contributing something so beautiful to this fandom. I’m going to go die in that corner over there. Bye.

  2. Yeah, this is a hell of a thing…

    ~L

  3. Oh, lovely. House politics and hot sex – just delicious. I loved that Rodney came without permission when John said he loved him…oh, my heart.

  4. Okay, this was awesome as always. I was vastly amused by the people tripping over themselves to make their formal apologies to Rodney though I can’t say I blame them at all. I would be too if I were in their shoes. Devereaux just needs to be taken out into the street and hit by a freaking bus, the moron. And Evan’s dad, the douchenozzle.

  5. Wow. Damn, you’re good. Now I’ve got to go reread the whole thing. Again. What a sacrifice. 😉

    Heh, this make me wish for even more cast pics/bios (of like even the lesser bit characters) &charts of all the houses & interconnections. I’m so greedy! You spoil us, Keira. World-building like nothing else. Thanks for writing.

  6. Oh WOW! That was definitely worth the wait. Nice to finally meet Phillipe DuBois and I have always liked Lady Heather so I am glad you chose her for this universe. I kind of feel sorry for poor Gerard and really can’t wait to see what Rodney does during the trial as he really is a force of nature when pissed, not to mention John, Dato Raja, Master Saito, Miko, Patrick, etc. Deveraux and his lackeys are going to be toasted, roasted and thrown on a dung heap before they are all done. Thank you again for the lovely Christmas present you gave us all.

  7. Wow. I can’t believe there is only one part left. I can’t believe that the power of Rodney’s brain didn’t burn Devereaux to ash. I’m intrigued to see what kind of stash Rodney gets from the suits that he’s filed. I loved Heather’s recommendation to Napier that he settle – that she was settling hers. LOL So, Rodney is already up two (furnished!) houses. Not bad. And this is from some of the ones he actually cares about. The ways he’s going to ruin the others can’t even be imagined by my poor brain. They totally have it coming, though, for backing Devereaux’s play. Such a bad move. They’re going to wish they’d never heard the names Colonel John Sheppard or Dr. Rodney McKay. Seriously. I can’t wait. It’s also possible that I love Thomas Grant much more than I even thought I did. Dubois is interesting and he’s definitely hot. I think the next part will make him more clear for me. Loved this like crazy!!

    What an amazing and unexpected Christmas present! I can’t imagine getting anything I’d have loved more – and I mean that sincerely. Happy Holidays to you, Keira. I hope that they’re everything that you could wish for…

    Thanks so much!

  8. oh my…………More please?

  9. Thank you. You have once more out done yourself. As a fan who waits with attempted patience for your posts I am grateful that posted us a present, you have made my Xmas. Have a merry and safe Christmas and a happy New Year.

  10. I love it! Well worth the wait. I laughed so hard I cried! I am sad that there is only one more in this arc, but that means there will hopefully be a season 2. Can’t wait for the trial – one highly pissed Courtesan and three highly pissed Geisha. Can we make it a full house and have Claire attend as well?

    Eagerly awaiting more!!!

  11. Whew. Happy holidays indeed. This will be one of my favorite gifts of the year, I am sure. Thanks you so much for this (and all the other stuff you have written that I haven’t commented on too). Have a wonderful holiday!

  12. Your author note almost made me fucking cry. I feel excited and at the same time utterly destroyed by the idea of this ending. It’s been such a journey to watch this story develop and progress. Everything about this verse is so rewarding. I wrote Tsunami Bomb because of this verse. I literally class people into dynamic roles and houses because of this without even thinking about it. This story has been such a part of my life for the last few years and the idea of that coming to an end breaks my heart.

    I realize you have plans for a Criminal Minds arc but that arc isn’t going to have some of the characters I’ve fallen in love with and that crushes me. No Mattie, or Evan or Ethan. I know I can reread this whenever I want but it’s not the same. I can perfectly imagine how this must feel for you and that makes me sad too because I understand that sometimes things just have to end but it’s never easy. Thank you so fucking much for sharing this world and these people with us. You’ve breathed so much life into them that they aren’t just characters. They are friends and family in that way that only beloved fictional characters can be.

    I just felt like I needed you to know that there are readers that know how hard that last chapter is going to be for you to post and we grieve with you even as we thrill in that final piece of this story. Thank you so much for this. Merry Christmas to you too PQ and thank you again.

  13. Someone in this room is making high-pitched dolphin noises. It might be me.

    Can’t wait for the actual trial. Rodney and John are going to dismantle DeSade house dom by dom and throw them all in the East River.

  14. OMG, OMG, OMG, you are such a tease to leave us hanging. A lovely, beautiful, tease. We should have one of those toppy doms spank you. LOL I adore this series, and as eager as I am to read the next part, I am also sad it will be the end of this part. I do hope there are more stories out there for you to share with us about this wonderful version John and Rodney!?

    As for this part….OMG, OMG, OMG,…yeah, I’m still not coherent enough.

  15. One more part in this arc – that means there will be other arcs, right? *hopeful*

    Either way, this is fabulous. I was so tense while reading this – I want everyone who has had a part in ignoring Rodney’s wishes and brought John to trial to die in a fire. Slowly. In a very painful way. They deserve nothing less. I like that Lorne will be taking the Sheppard name, and I love that everyone knows John is in love with Rodney and fiercely protective of him. It makes me feel all mushy about them 😛

  16. Ooh, a treat for Xmas! Excellent work, the politics is very well put together and I look forward to seeing how this pans out. There is going to be up merry hell to pay, isn’t there!
    I too am happy to see this and sad to know we are nearly at the end of this arc, though I’m hoping this means that there will be another arc in TTB (no pressure, just some Xmas optimism)

    Thanks for this and all your writing – I’m currently on my umpteenth reread of WMHB which just seems to get better the more I read it, must be the depth of the storytelling, always a detail or nuance I hadn’t quite picked up before.

    I wish you and yours all the best for the New Year.

  17. Wow than you. what a wonderful Xmas present. 🙂

    But I am a little bit put out with you because now I am way behind in all my errands.

    Wonderful as always.

    Hope you have a really wonderful Xmas

  18. Wow!!!! Go Rodney, they don’t have any idea of what is going to happen to them, do they??? Almost makes you feel sorry for the sorry SOB’s . I really like the idea of Lorne taking Matt’s name. He make a much better Sheppard anyway.
    Thanks again for the great present.

  19. Oh My God

    I think I’ll need a cigarette after McKay finishes fucking with all the asshats who have intruded into his life.

    I love John’s vulnerability here and can hardly wait for the next installment.

    On behalf of all of the minions, thank you for our Christmas present and have a wonderful holiday and new year!

  20. Oh Happy Holidays in deed. Not for them, but for me
    And can I just say I am grateful that you apparently give presents on Christmas Eve instead of this weird the day after tradition 😀
    A rather upsetting chapter, I must say. Though I admit that that is mostly a testament to your good writing because I actually felt their upset. It was very very clear and I really enjoyed reading it.
    I am already looking forward to the next chapter and the final explosion that will hopefully draw this to a good end.
    Keep up the great work! and Happy Holidays to you too

  21. A very delightful Christmas present full of intrigues 🙂 Now I know how to spend my December 24th until this evening – re-reading the entire series. Thank you and a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  22. I just wanted to say that you are my favourite. Thank you for the xmas eve present!

  23. *hugs* Thank you!

    This was a wonderful start for my christmas eve morning!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    – Kim

  24. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thank you for a lovely Christmas gift:)

  25. You are the Evil Master of Suspense! I thought I was eager for an update before, but now….
    I think I was looking forward to this more that my Christmas presents! I can’t wait to read the thrilling climax!
    *stares at screen in rapt anticipation*

  26. Happy Christmas to us !!! And to you, of course 😉 Thank you for this awesome gift. Love and happy Hollidays to all Minions and The Queen Keira.

  27. Wow, Christmas came early here! Thank you so much! It’s maybe a bit sad that there is only one part to go in this arc, but the little bits from Evil Author Day are so tantalizing that I can’t help but thing it will be a beauty. I’m so looking forward to Rodney putting those arrogant a:%$¨s in their place… The lawsuits are a nice start, for sure!

  28. Wow, this was an amazing update to my very favourite story of yours. The politics of the situation are so fucked up and Rodney’s anger so justified. His rant against de Sade was epic.

    I’m sad that the next chapter is the last in this arc, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Rodney deals with Deveraux and the other asshats on the board. 😀

  29. Thank you so much for posting today. It was great. I have already read it twice. 🙂

    I absolutely adore Rodney’s petty revenge options. I could read a whole chapter about them.
    And the scene with Miranda and Joseph was so much fun.
    It is interesting to see how John’s and the overall image of Gerard de Sade changes. It was something I already noticed during the House trial of Kevin Jordan. In the beginning they pay so much deference to him and especially in this chapter you see none of this anymore.

    Thank you again for such a lovely Christmas present.

    I whish you a Merry Christmas!

  30. I got home from work at midnight, that means it’s Christmas Day here in NZ, to find this perfect gem waiting for me, none of my other Christmas presents are going to be able to measure up to this.

    I don’t have the words to express how awesome this installment of TTB is, or how beyond awesome your Rodney is in it. I will just bow down and thank you for my best ever Christmas present and wish you and your family a perfect Christmas because you deserve it for you generosity in sharing your genius with us…. and lots of superior coffee and chocolate of course.

    Thank you and goodnight.

  31. Great. I love it
    Thank you

  32. Lovely Christmas present, thank you very much! 🙂

    Artwork is, as always, lovely to behold.

    Cheers,

  33. Holy Hannah!!! What a major horse’s ass (with apologies to equines everywhere)!

    Deverieux has a serious death wish, doesn’t he? This kind of stupid is dangerous. But Rodney needs to be the one to shoot this guy, starting in the nuts and knees.

    Keira, this is the hottest series I’ve ever read. When I leave the computer THAT weak in the knees, it’s good.

  34. Thank you

    So freaking curious……. just literally finished reading this again and this chapter appeared as I finished !!!!!!!

    Utterly freaking brilliant chapter, personally I would let Rodney beam them all up and space the idiots.

    Gerard need to man up and take control !!!!!!

    Mores soon please, would adore to be able to read all this start to finish…..plus how many other parts do you think you will write in this universe????

  35. Yay! I had thought that the chapters of the Soulmate Bond and Unspeakable Plot were going to be the last before the New Year and then you suprise us with this.
    As usual you has given us a finely crafted story that is awesome. I am looking forward to your next installment.
    Have a lovely Christmas and New Year.

  36. What a wonderful gift on Christmas Eve! I love it, and I hope Rodney ruins everyone who causes any inconvenience to him or John. Whenever I read your Rodney, I feel my own bloodthirsty revenge bitch start to cheer.

    Cheers, Keira, and a joyous Noel to you and yours.

  37. I was just about to go to sleep when I saw an email in my inbox saying you updated. So, naturally, a half hour to forty minutes later I’ve finished this installment, and if I dare say so, want more. I’m prepared to wait as long as it takes to get more, since I am well aware that you don’t like people telling you what to write. This part has fired my imagination and I’d love to read the actual trial not just the lead up to it. 🙂

    As usual, it has been superbly written, and this part was well worth the dozenth rereads of the rest of the series in the time period that I waited for it, hoping that I might have missed the update saying it was posted.

    So, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and thank you for the update to one of my favourite series.

    Hugs,
    dragonlover44

  38. That’s a great Christmas present. Thank you!

  39. EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeee!

    Merry Christmas to us!

    I’m looking forward to Rodney decimating the peer board at this fiasco of a trial…

    Thank you for a lovely update!

    (And, like many others, I will also be sad to see this arc end!)

  40. My first response upon seeing this was ‘squeeee’ and the second after reading was ‘noooooo’. Damn the cliffhanger! Keep writing and thanks for a great holiday gift to your minions!

  41. Thank you for this. Happy Holidays 🙂

  42. Holy shit!! You made me want to go on a killing spree. A totally awesome chapters as always. Thanks for sharing your gift of the word with us. Happy holidays to you and your family.

  43. I absolutely adore everything you write, but just so we’re clear, this is my absolute favorite of your series!

    I’m now going to have to go back to the beginning and reread it all because once again I am hooked and waiting anxiously for the next installment. Beautiful as always and the tension is enough to make my heart clench! I could seriously kill everyone maneuvering to take Rodney from John.

    You are truly a goddess among women!

  44. Best early Christmas present ever

  45. What a fantastic Christmas gift! Thank you sao so much.

  46. What a lovely early Christmas present. Can’t wait to see what Rodney does’ the destruction is going to be epic. Thank you for the chapter and the reminder of the rich world you built with this series.

  47. I’m just gonna roll around and wallow here.

  48. This was the best Yule gift ever!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  49. Awesome! Can’t wait for the trail

  50. Thank you for the early Christmas present! Wonderful, as usual. Happy Holidays to you and CP.

  51. yay Happy christmas to me !!! Thanks you sooooo much for this gift Keira ! As always it’s fantastic.
    I want Rodney to bankrupt every single one of those assholes. and Devereaux is a Villain . With a capital V. I want him to be black-listed by the Houses. He managed to piss off De Sade, Kesakitan Pembawa,La Petite Mort, Lotus and Heian. That must account to pretty much all the big Houses. And if they ALL do it the little ones would probably do it too. No more anything for him.
    I’m a little sorry for the sub who got manipulated by Simmons but well when you fuck up…

  52. This… this made me realize how much I have missed this verse. I just wanna keep all of these characters forever because I am guaranteed to run the full monty of emotions while reading their story.

    Knowing there is just one more part kind of gives me sadface, it also thrills me because that means I’ll be able to put the whole thing on my Kindle. Which, seriously, YAY. I did notice you said last one in the SGA arc, which totally implies there we’ll be seeing this universe in other fandoms… THAT is the best Christmas present ever.

  53. OMG i love it
    Merry Christmas¡

  54. Hi, just to say thank you for a great update. i wasn’t aware this was here until i came her checking for an update for ‘the unspeakable plot’ and found this! am off to read it before going to get plastered at an xmas party! great start to the holiday!

  55. This is lovely. Thank you!

  56. As always, stunning. Thankyou for this and all of your writing, I love it all. Have a very merry christmas and a happy and safe new year.

  57. I think it’s both brilliant and sad that there is so little to go to the end too – this is one of my very favourite fics from *any* fandom, and I love re-reading it again and again. I enjoy how BAMF your characters are, and those going after Rodney and John are going to sorely regret it – and so they damn well should! Thank you for a wonderful and unexpected christmas present!!

  58. Oh. My. God.

    This is the bestest Christmas present EVER!!! (It’s already Christmas Day here in Australia)

    WOW!! Had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through, and while I am in no way going to bug you or beg you with regard to the next part, I must say that I will be waiting for it, if not patiently, then definitely eagerly, if silently 🙂

    I was supposed to be in bed (it’s nearly 4am now) because I have a long drive ahead of me later today, but how could I possibly have resisted reading this and the last few parts leading up to it in preparation so that I could savour it properly?

    Thank you sooooooo much for posting this. It’s exquisite and tantalising and just…. WOW!!

  59. Fucking awesome.

    I don’t know who I would be afraid of more: Rodney or Mattie, Jonah and Miko. Three pissed off Geisha is a very scary thing to behold.

    I have loved every single freaking word of this, and I will continue to do so.

  60. Thank you very much, I love it, I wish you a merry christmas

  61. Happy Holidays!!!! & New Years 🙂

    so you know that feeling where you can’t wait to read the next sentence, but at the same time you’re dreading reaching the end? Yeah, that was me lol 🙂 And If you hear a high pitched screech in your area, that was probably me when i saw the email update, lol. I think the sound traveling leagues.

    That said, this was AWESOME *_* and sooooo worth the wait. I’m so happy that we’re getting to meet the rest of John’s masters. I do wonder how many houses Rodney will end up with after this, though. I love that while the focus was on John and McKay and the Trial, that we got to see how it spirals out to everything else. Now, I’m going to have to go back and reread the series all over again to better appreciate the nuance I probably missed or forgot about 🙂

  62. Amazing! Cannot wait and sincerely hope your muse and rl conspire to inspire you to continue. Thanks so, so much.

  63. I only just now got around to writing this; I actually read the story last night and it was awesome, all the way through. While it saddens me that the end is near, it has been such a great ride that I can’t regret the experience. Thank you for that, and for everything else that is to come. Thank you, in particular, for making John Sheppard threatening anyone, (and everyone), with death and destruction on a biblical scale a new kink for me. I honestly didn’t know that short of thing was a turn on, could be a turn on, much less be one of mine. This chapter made me go “Oooh” so many times, I didn’t bother keeping count. Thank you for making me tingly, Keira!

    Much love and peace for you and yours for the rest of this year, and well into the new year!

  64. Lovely. And Rodney is getting at least 2 houses. ZI hope one of the apologies are some lovely pikes to display Devereaux, Euler and the not Heather board member who are stupid enough to see the exhibition for what it is. Thanks fro a very spoiled and happy minion.

  65. This is… Oh My God! Merry Fucking Christmas to me! ♥ I’ve been reading this with my back all twisted and eyes riveted to the screen. I can’t wait to ‘see’ how the trial is going to happen and especially, how McKay is going to ruin them all ;D

  66. Thank you for the wonderful Christmas present, it is a lovely one.

    But I’m surprised no one posted this…. Quite fitting for this chapter, definitely. it’s a live version, and well done.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkWGwY5nq7A

    Merry Christmas to all.

  67. What a lovely christmas present you have given us.

  68. What a great Christmas present. Thank you. Happy Holidays.

  69. I Love Rodney! I love how John is the Dom but accepts that Rodney will be Rodney. Great Job!

  70. Thanks for this long awaited xmas pressie.

    It litterary saved me during a family dinner. I sat back in the sofa reading on my iPhone while having coffee and thus avoided participating in a boring conversation about the TV show being watched. Hope you post next part soon.

  71. Brilliant. Thank you so much. Your time spent with wizards and witches hasn’t harmed your SGA chops at all.

    I have been rereading this, and it strikes me that as much fun as the earlier chapters are, and as successful as they are at world building, the last three chapters have had a quality of emotional power that goes far beyond what you had accomplished before. I mentioned while commenting that the chapter where they find out what Summers had done that the chapter made me uneasy because I made me feel the desecration that John and Rodney feel. Now I feel the rage.

    I better get busy making bread so I can take some of that rage out on the dough.

    Thank you, Kiera. Seriously. Thank you for your hard work. You’ve given me so much pleasure over the last few years and all I can give you in return is my admiration and my thanks.

    (and maybe a little jealousy because, damn I wish I could write like you do)

    Merry Holidays!!

  72. First off Keira I love you and sga my love for you made me dip into kirk/spock and be come addicted still resisting the het tho…this is a wonderful early Christmas present. I’m sad its almost the end but then you drop the Hotch/Reid bomb and my head just exploded…I’ll be sad to see Rodney and Johns story end but so excited for your spin on a fave pairing of mine

    Thank you so much. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  73. Happy Holidays, Keira!! Thanks for this update 🙂 Angry Rodney is something to fear, and smitten John is just delicious . I love this story!! Love the characters and the universe, and will be sad to see it end. The detail and the complexity of the developments, including politics and the dynamics and the elements of the original series, and the OCs, all make for an amazing and brilliant work, and for a reader such a delight and a ride to remember. Thanks for writing it!! Love, Lil

  74. I love this story and how people who do not know Rodney expect him to be so different from what he is. I very much look forward to the next chapter and hope it will not be very long. Happy Holidays and thanks for this great Christmas present!

  75. Dear GODS I love this update. I can’t even form a coherent comment to explain how much I adore this story and this update in particular. SO much love!!! GAH!

    I hope your holidays and New Year are extraodinary.
    Thank you for writing and sharing your stories. They are pure awesome.

  76. Thank you so much, this was an amazing chapter to read. Can’t wait till the assholes get what they deserve. 🙂

  77. I have had a shitty week and a half, culminating in assholery from relatives, health organisations, beauraucracy…
    Christmas was something I was dreading.

    Got home and saw this today…and all the stress and tension melted away as I was drawn into the world created in one of my favourite fictional series EVER 🙂

    Loved the chapter- and what an unexpected twist, the reveal about Jared Holland’s wanting to obey the ass who got him killed! Brilliant of Thomas Grant to deduce it.
    Fabulous the way the political intrigue plays out in this world- some original worldbuilding you’ve done throughout.
    I want to read the House Trial…but DONT want this series to end.

    Thank you for the Christmas present! Merry Christmas, Kiera.

    PS The mellow vibe I felt after reading this helped me calm the domestic turmoil and everyone ended up having a lovely Christmas Eve dinner, bonding, and almost ready to sing ‘kumbaya’. Was tempted to tell them to thank a BDSM m/m slash fiction for my patience and gracious hostessing *smirk*

    PPS Squeeing about the upcoming Criminal Minds Hotch/Reid arc (my fave couple from that fandom)

  78. Wow! Great chapter. I love an angry Rodney, ready to salt the earth with his enemy’s blood. But the most touching moment was when Evan told Patrick he was going to ask to take Matt’s name when they married. I just melted into a little puddle right then and there. So sweet. And Miko was so masterful with the stupid scientist bothering Rodney. I loved Rodney choosing Lotus as his secondary guardian. Geishas are very, very cool.

    I still think fondly of the moment when Jonah came in and sat in Patrick’s lap back several chapters ago. I love the world you’ve created and am so thankful you share it with us. Merry Christmas!

  79. Happy Holidays! I love this entire series, this part was amazing. I am both excited for the final part and very sad that it will end. As always, a pleasure to read your work and thank-you for posting, it’s been a lovely holiday gift!

  80. i am just sooooo happy, you wrote more BAMF John and Rodney and it is awesome. Rodney is going to ruin them ALL isn’t he? Please say yes because some of those people need it really bad lol can’t wait.

  81. You’re like Santa! If Santa brought epic romances about space explorers full of kinky sex! Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou!!! (Also, Happy Holiday of your choice!)

  82. Wow! Best Christmas present ever!

  83. Wheee! “You’d better watch out” isn’t so much a song about Santa as it is about John & Rodney!

    Another excellent installment 😀

  84. What a great read on Christmas eve…thank you Santa Keira, thank you. Have a great holiday, you just made it a great one for all of us who follow your tales.

  85. First off, Happy Holidays.

    Second, learning the info about Jared was shocking. All this time I thought Jared had been coerced into taking the mission that lead to his death. However, this installment revealed that was not the case at all. Considering that Jared took the mission to spite John, I am left wondering just how similar he truly was to his brother Scott. Also, it boggles my mind that John considers their pleasure dynamic perfect. Sure physically they meshed, but from has now been revealed about Jared, it seems to me that the psychological aspect of their dynamic didn’t mesh. John wants to be exclusive with his collar sub, while Jared thought he should use his dynamic for personal gain, whether he wore a collar or not.

    Third, I am a bit a shamed of myself for not thinking more thoroughly about what would happen if John was convicted was abusing Rodney. It never crossed my mind that if John was arrested that he would be inadvertently taking down numerous other people with him. After Jack made mention of it, I felt like hit myself for not realizing it sooner.

    Overall, it was lovely to have been able to read the new installment of this series during this holiday season.

    • When someone dies, the good parts of your relationship are romanticized in the grief that follows. John’s POV on his relationship with Jared may never shift beyond what he sees now. It’s a coping mechanism.

    • There have been hints that John was wearing rose-colored glasses about Jared all through the story. Not that Jared wasn’t a great guy, but their “perfect” mesh just wasn’t that perfect. Remember Matt saying that Jared’s slave mentality drove the family nuts, but “John loved him and eventually we grew to love him too.” Also remember Ethan thinking that he couldn’t understand how John could have been satisfied with Jared, given how much more completely Rodney actually matched him?

      I’m not saying Jared was like Scot. Scot was a psychotic little shit. John just doesn’t often let himself remember the parts of his relationship with Jared that didn’t work very well. In fact, I would guess that their biggest problem is that John needs honesty above everything else, because he needs to know what a sub can tolerate. John is terrified of his own dynamic. It’s kind of hard to be a decent man who is also a very hard core sadist. And I suspect that Jared was so eager to be exactly what John wanted and needed that he was not honest with John. We know they had a problem with it that was revealed when their did their couple’s session with Philippe. I suspect that wasn’t the only time Jared was not honest with John. Not that he was a bad guy, but he probably knew, at least a little, that they really weren’t that perfect match. He wanted desperately to be the perfect sub for John and tried too hard.

      I don’t think he took that mission to spite John. I think he wanted to appease Daly, not because he actually wanted him, but because he was trying to help John out of what he perceived as a potentially serious problem for his dom. He did it, knowing it would piss John off, not because he wanted to piss John off, but in spite of it. It was a sort of sacrifice to what he thought was the greater good.

      But of course, if Kiera says he was being a little shit, then I am just wrong.

      Damn, I love it when a story and characters are so well written that we can get into detailed conversations about them.

      • I don’t think of Jared as a “little shit”. His motivations were always rooted in keeping John safe, even from himself. Most of that might have been behavioral conditioning from his own childhood where he was repeatedly told over and over again that it was his job to be anything and everything to please/appease Dominants.

  86. Reading the email sent about a Christmas Eve surprise made me very excited and the actual chapter I just finished made my day! In fact, it made my Christmas AND New Year! Reading something from TTB after so long, I missed it so damn much and I was so eagerly and patiently waiting for the actual chapter since the excerpts HAD BEEN posted for so damn long! THANK YOU! *____* I’m even more eager for the last chapter now! MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ^____^ I’m gonna go re-read the last chapter excerpt now! ^____~

  87. This is THE most awesome Christmas present ever. *bounceclapglee* Just. WOW.

  88. Yes a Happy christmas and a happy new year to all the minions and Keira. And thank you for a really great update this christmas day, windy and rain outside and I am in fromt of the fire with Keira goodness, yheee best present ever..

  89. I save this to unwrap on Christmas day….Oh what a pretty gift it was and so worth the wait. Can I say death to those that are trying to break my boys….and not easy simple ones either!!!!!

    Merry Christmas

    Kimber

  90. Beautiful. Such a lovely gift to receive for Christmas. Thank you.

    It has been an epic adventure with SGA – very much looking forward to you final installment. I’ll be sad to read the end of it – but it will be there to reread many times AND a new Criminal Minds arc to enjoy. Win!

    Thank you for sharing your incredible talent. I very much appreciate all the hard work you put in to your writing.

    Merry Christmas.

  91. McKay on a ruining rampage is one of my very favourite things. Merry Christmas Keira! Thanks for everything you’ve given us this year and hope 2014 is awesome for you!

  92. From the first word to the last , this grabbed me by my proverbial balls and wouldn’t let go. Devereaux has created a shit storm of epic proportions and I can’t wait til Hurricane Rodney drops a house on him and all of his cronies. I can literally feel Rodney’s fury combined with Miko, Matt and Claire retributions will be epic *grins evilly* can’t wait. I know that bastard Devereaux has something up his sleeve but I am totally confident Team John will prevail in the end. Love all of the sci fi references mentioned..Alien, Matrix ( I totally got my geek on;). The brief glimpse of the kids was adorable. I am conflicted regarding Gerard… I personally think he hot as f*ck but his inattention to his house is what caused this mess in the first place. So hopefully he learns his lesson and doesn’t come out of this too damaged. Dato Raja ( the Coolest Dom EVER) buying Rodney an apology house in Hawaii with out being asked and Lotus’s apology house next to Patrick’s was made of awesome and totally inspired.( If Kyle knows what’s good for him he’d better get on the bus before he gets run over.) I vote that the De Sade House in New York be razed to the ground, the earth salted and the ass hat Dom’s lobotamized after Dato Raja schools them regarding their transgressions. So many good things in this chapter and the perfect build up to the next. Can’t wait….off to read again!!!!

  93. OMG what’s better than Christmas with my brother & brother=in=law? You posting! Happy Christmas and thanks for our present. Have a great time with CP. Love Hxx
    PS Hope to read this tonight so will comment later 🙂

  94. Ok, so I registered today only to say : thanks for the Christmas present!
    Now I will read this 🙂

  95. Great addition. I’m really looking forward to Rodney ‘expressing his anger’ on their asses.

  96. Perfect timing for me! I was just rereading my downloaded pdf of this story, and when I finished I decided to check your sites to see if you’d updated either of your current HP fics. I was so extremely happy to find this update instead! I have been very interested to see what happens during the house trial. I was expecting Rodney’s meeting with Neil(?) from La Petite Mort to go better than it did, but it was a fun interaction nevertheless. I really wonder if Sam Carter will make it out of this without some sort of trouble (I hope not). I was surprised, but it fit perfectly, to see Rodney so mad at Gerard. Lady Heather Kessler is very interesting and I hope we see more of her. You are a rare author who makes me interested in side characters and romances that aren’t the main pairing. Speaking of which, I do wonder if after this part we’ll see Allison and Teldy find a man to trio up with. I also wonder if the de sade sub who was disconnected with his emotions and only got 2 sessions will come up again and either change for the better and get a romance, or for the worse and do something awful. I wonder when McKay will get past his baggage and be able to admit he loves John too. I hope soon, but we’ll see! Thank you so much for your wonderful escapist writing crack.

  97. Hi,

    I just wanted to say this was really great. A lot of emotion going on that got to me. I just watched the Time of the Doctor before this so I was already emotionally compromised lol I love the combination of snark, anger and upset with every character. I felt for Lucas being separated from Steven so soon into their relationship. I just want to hug a lot of them and kill others so yeah, well done.

  98. WOW!

    It’s taken me a couple of days and multiple readings of this to get me calm enough to tell you how AMAZING this is! (My first thoughts were all in German – and I’m not sure how fluent you are!)

    I was actually trembling when I saw the e-mail notification that there was a new Ties That Bind chapter…and it does NOT disappoint! (Seriously does anything you write ever disappoint?)

    I can barely wait for the next chapter. Rodney is clearly working on some extremely creative ways of inflicting his own kind of justice on the bastards who have done this to him and John……that much is a given….but what about John?…we know from an earlier chapter (was it the first chapter?…I’ll have to go back and re-read….what a chore!!!!) that John has residual effects from the Iratus Bug…and in this chapter we see a physical effect – blood racing, eyes shifting black – oh John is just going to be AWESOME in the House Trial!

  99. A perfect example of how the best holiday gifts are hand-made! Thanks for sharing this story with us, and part of me can hardly wait to see how it ends up! (Of course, the other part of me is a little sad that the story will be done.)

    You have an unparalleled gift for weaving new worlds and setting believable characters in them. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!

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