NOTES: Written for the 'Search and Seizure' challenge at sgaflashfic.
"I'm sorry," Elizabeth said in disbelief at what she had just heard. "You demand what?"
The Sedjian's eyes darted this way and that as he noted the armed and tense personnel of the city. "I require proof that Colonel Sheppard and his team are not hiding the item on their person."
"That wasn't what you just said," she noted. "You demanded that I have them searched."
"That is the only way to acquire proof that they do not have the control remote."
Her lips thinned. "Not in Atlantis it isn't."
"Dr. Weir, I don't believe you understand how critical this item is to the stability of our society. Without it, we may very well collapse into barbarism."
It was probably wrong that she didn't care if the Sedjian society descended into barbarism. Right now, she was more focused on the manner in which he'd made his request upon his arrival at the city. "Representar Tegor, I don't believe you understand. It's not that you asked to have Colonel Sheppard's team searched, it's the manner in which you did it."
"I hardly think that a request--"
"You made it a demand," Sheppard said. "If you'd just said 'please'--"
She wanted to glare at him, drag him into her office and get an accounting off him; what had he done to the Sedjians that they thought he'd take this control remote of theirs. Then again, this was John Sheppard. He was good at making enemies.
"Representar Tegor, I'm willing to have my people searched for this remote of yours - if they give their permission. However, understand that the manner of your request hasn't earned you any of our goodwill here."
"We are allies."
"We're considering an alliance," said Sheppard.
Elizabeth didn't grind her teeth, but she turned a little and caught the Colonel's eye in warning. He gave her a very steady look back and subsided. "I don't know how your alliances traditionally work, Representar. However, where we come from, allies request. They don't demand."
And she squashed the mockery of the cynic in her head.
Representar Tegor frowned, although a high flush appeared on his cheeks. If anything, his demeanour grew more pronouncedly stiff and his tones more pedantic. "Then I request that Colonel Sheppard and his team be searched for the control remote. In my presence," he added after a moment's pause.
She turned to Colonel Sheppard's team in query. If they agreed with it, then she'd comply. If not...
Well, if not, then she'd have to order them to comply. And hope that Sheppard wasn't feeling insubordinate.
"Isn't it possible they might have dropped it somewhere?" Rodney complained. "I don't see why we're suspect."
"Because Colonel Sheppard was the last one to handle the device before it went missing," the Representar said. "Will you submit to a search, Colonel, or will I return to my masters and inform them that you would not comply with their request."
Sheppard looked at his team. Ronan shrugged, but Rodney and Teyla looked less than pleased. He turned back to the Representar. "I think we can manage to comply with a request."
Tegor wanted the search to take place in the gateroom, where they stood. Elizabeth led the way to the briefing room, noting that the Representar chose to walk behind the team and objected when Rodney stepped a little too close to someone else.
"He may have been trying to pass the device on," he said in explanation.
Elizabeth stared in disbelief, while Sheppard was giving the man the glare of flat dislike that he brought out for the people who pissed him off.
Once in the briefing room, she had Major Lorne stand as witness while Colonel Sheppard's team laid out the contents of their flak jackets on the table; then the jackets themselves. The Representar brushed his fingers across the items.
"None of them your control remote?" Sheppard asked.
"As you can see," Teyla said, "we do not have your device."
"That remains to be seen," the Representar declared. "Your clothing may yet--"
This was going too far. "Representar Tegor," Elizabeth said with acid politeness, "I don't think that will be necessary."
The man regarded her with a snake-eyed glare. "Dr. Weir, your protests make it all the more requisite that Colonel Sheppard and his people are shown to be completely free of suspicion on this matter."
"You know, your demands make it all the less likely that we're going to comply with the request," Rodney snapped.
Sheppard gave her a sour look. "Just do it, Rodney. The good Representar isn't going to be satisfied with anything less."
Rodney was astonished, his eyes as large as saucers. "What? You want me to...to...? Here? In front of all these people?"
"Rodney, we've seen you drooling on your computer keyboard first thing in the morning," Colonel Sheppard said with a mocking expression. "Undressing is nothing compared to that."
"Elizabeth, I protest at this..."
"Rodney, just strip," Sheppard said in the tones of a man who just wanted to get it all over and done with. "That's an order."
Elizabeth wanted to turn her back. She couldn't. Not with the Representar watching her people like a snake. She kept her eyes on him, however, and ignored the rapidly increasing amount of bare skin that was being displayed as, one by one, the team began taking off their jackets, shirts and trousers.
John was undressing with the patient stoicism of a man who was accustomed to shared locker rooms, concentrating on his own clothing and ignoring everyone else in the room. Beneath his fatigue pants, he wore Spiderman boxer shorts, which earned him a snort of disdain from Rodney and a grin from Elizabeth and Major Lorne.
Teyla pulled her top over her head with apparent calm, although a dusky flush faintly tinged her cheeks. She unlaced her boots and bent over to ease them off her feet, and Major Lorne went pink and turned so he wasn't facing that corner of the room. Her halter neck sports bra covered her breasts, but accentuated the curves of her body rather than hiding them, and Elizabeth caught John checking Teyla out and quirked an eyebrow at him. His mouth twitched in something like a smile, before he looked away from both her and Teyla.
She looked away to Ronan, who was pulling knives out of his vest and taking a wicked pleasure in eyeing them, then looking at the Representar. The man caught his gaze and shifted, then looked resolutely elsewhere. Ronan glanced at Elizabeth and winked, then began pulling the vest off.
Elizabeth looked away.
Rodney still looked sullen as he hauled his shirt over his head, but from what Elizabeth could see, he had nothing of which to be ashamed. He wasn't 'built' but he wasn't entirely flabby either - a little more flesh around his waist than John, but not surprising. He sat down to pull off his boots, wincing as he did so, and then hesitated with his hands on his waistband.
"Is this really necessary?"
"I had to," Sheppard said without a trace of sympathy. He was now sitting back in one of the briefing room chairs, his hands folded across his stomach. "That means you have to, as well."
Rodney muttered imprecations at Sheppard as he kicked off his trousers. Beneath them, he was wearing navy blue boxer shorts with lemons all over them.
In spite of herself, Elizabeth stared. "Aren't you allergic--?"
"So why do you have lemons all over your underclothes?" Teyla asked, mystified.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "It was a gift."
"From who?" John asked.
Rodney mumbled something that might have been, 'Tibetan llama.'
"I didn't hear that."
"Samantha Carter sent them to me," Rodney snapped, this time in a normal voice. "It was in my package from the Daedelus."
John jerked up as Major Lorne choked. "This is that Major Carter you're always talking about?"
"Colonel Carter, actually," Lorne remarked, grinning broadly.
"I am guessing it was a joke," Teyla said.
If anything Lorne grinned even harder. "I think it means that she was glad to see him go."
"Or it might just have been a joke," said Rodney acidly. "I don't see what's so bad about lemons. And the colour looks good on me. Besides, they're better than Spiderman!" He shot John a meaningful glare.
John shrugged, unbothered by Rodney's irritation.
Rodney sought another focus of attention rather than himself and looked over at Ronan. "Well, what are you waiting for?"
It seemed that Ronan had removed jacket, vest, and assorted hidden weaponry - all now laid out on the table in front of him - and his boots, but he was still standing around in the not-quite-leather trousers that he insisted on wearing.
He tilted his head a little to the side, "I'm finished."
"No you're not - you've still got the trousers to go!" Rodney looked outraged.
Ronan eyed Rodney, causing the other man to shift uncomfortably. Then he said, "You've still got those to go." He indicated the lemon boxer shorts.
"These?" Rodney clutched the waistband of his boxers. "But I...need these. I'm not taking them off!"
"And I need these." Ronan said. "And I'd rather not take them off."
It took them a moment to realise what Ronan was saying. John mouthed an 'okay', while Lorne looked as though this was more information than he really wanted to know. McKay looked stunned, and Teyla coughed.
Elizabeth blinked, stared, caught Ronan's eye as he shrugged, and turned to Representar Tegor, who was picking through Colonel Sheppard's things with a grimace. "Well, Representar," she said. "Are you satisfied that my people aren't hiding anything?"
If the man was repentant of his insistence that the Atlantis expedition had had something to hide, he didn't show it. "I am." The austere features looked around the room with admirable composure given that he had four very annoyed, underdressed people watching him with no sympathy at all. "Thank you for your assistance, Dr. Weir, Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay, Sera Emmagen, Ser Dex. I apologise for the inconvenience, but I had to be sure."
Sheppard leaned across the table. "Next time," he said grimly, "you might like to be 'sure' a little more politely."
The Representar wasn't made of inferior material. "I will keep that in mind, Colonel." He turned to Elizabeth. "If you will permit me to return to my planet?"
Elizabeth saw the Representar out and left Sheppard and his team reclothing themselves in the briefing room.
He was stiff and polite all the way to the Stargate, at which point he said, "I apologise for whatever...difficulties I might have put you through over the matter of the control remote."
"Your apology is welcomed." She didn't bother to keep the faint tinge of malice out of her voice, and watched his expression change.
As the Stargate opened behind the shield, lighting up the gateroom, the Representar bowed. "I hope that we may have further commerce in future."
"That will depend on the goodwill of Colonel Sheppard and his team," Elizabeth told him. "You'll hear from us in a week."
The man bowed again and walked through the gate without a further look or word.
Elizabeth let loose a long, exasperated breath.
"At least next time we'll have the upper hand," Lorne said.
"Yes," she murmured. The Sedjians should have been more polite about the search than they were. Whatever had gone missing was important to them and their society.
When she returned to the briefing room, Sheppard's team were dressed again and discussing the matter among themselves.
"...not terribly disappointed that they lost the device," Rodney was saying.
"What was the device?"
Sheppard looked up from the gun clip he was studying. "A torture device." His fingers slipped up and down the length of the clip as he turned it over and over in his hands.
Elizabeth stared at him. "A torture device?"
"Their servant class wear collars," Teyla explained. "Each collar has a device that sends it instructions relating to the punishment of the servant who wears the collar. They use it to...discipline...servants who have not met their standards." The careful tone of her voice and the pause in her words indicated quite clearly that the 'discipline' meted out by the Sedjians had been for very minor infractions.
"The thing they were looking for was the master controller," Rodney said, leaning back in his chair. "The individual collar controllers piggyback on the signal it emits - apparently the type of crystal in the device is very rare in the Pegasus Galaxy."
She winced. "And they thought you'd stolen this controlling device?"
It was the look Teyla gave John that first clued her in. Rodney and Ronan caught on a minute later, looking from one to the other with slight frowns on their faces. "What aren't you telling me? John? Teyla?"
With a quick scowl at Teyla, John tossed the clip he'd been handling to Elizabeth. It slipped through her fingers and dropped to the table with a noisy clatter. She picked it up.
She began pulling out the bullets one by one, a growing feeling of dread in her stomach. And then, halfway down, there was an item slipped into the clip that definitely wasn't a bullet.
It was cylindrical and long and only just fitted in the clip.
Oh, my God...
Elizabeth nearly had a seizure.
She looked from the Sedjian control remote to Sheppard, to Teyla, to Rodney and Ronan.
The Sedjians had been right.
- fin -