Title: An Acceptable Arrangement
Rating: PG-13, but um, not really at all.
Timeline: If you think this falls somewhere in the show's actual timeline, I would check the expiration date on your medication. It's obviously not working properly.
Category: Austen!verse (Which is very, very AU.)
Pairing: Shep/Weir UST. And seriously, look at that U there. Do not read this story if it's going to bother you. I don't want rageful emails at the end bemoaning the lack of closure. Don't say I didn't give you fair warning, because this is me, giving you warning. Also, a tiny little bit of established Sam/Jack and Vala/Cameron.
Disclaimer: Did the high boots and petticoats give me away? Yeah, I thought so.
Author's Note: Okay, I'm not really certain how much of the Sam/Jack fandom from SG-1 overlaps with the Shep/Weir fandom. I figure it's probably a good bit, but just in case, I'm going to go through a quick explanation here. Basically, awhile back I wrote this really bizarre AU where the characters of SG-1 were all sort of transposed into a bad Jane Austen knock-off situation. Anyway, it sort of spun into this series thing, and of course the Atlantis people had to get in on the action. (Well, my brain dictated that it was necessary, anyway.)
You don't really have to read the previous stories in Austen!verse to understand this fic. I mean, events will be kind of referred to, but not really anything essential. Just…go with the silliness, accept it as it is, and you'll be fine. (Oh, and any historical/political stuff? Total crap. Completely made it up. Just…don't pay attention to the girl behind the curtain.)
As always, I have to thank my beta readers, thekatebeyond, caroly214, and raisintorte. Without raisintorte, Austen!verse never would have happened. Without thekatebeyond, I never would have gotten the guts to post it. Without caroly214, Austen!verse (and really life in general) would just suck. So, thank you. Also, thank you to the many, many, many people who I have ranted and raved and rambled at, who have plotted with me and listened to me bitch and whine and moan. (jennukes? aj? karmaaster? I'm looking at you, here.)
"Evil to some is always good to others."
Despite Gateshire's undeniably convenient proximity to the Atlantic, the small country town had never been considered as a prospective home for any of the many naval enterprises that British society expected as a matter of routine. The exact reason for this oversight could only be speculated upon, but as it is particularly difficult to miss what you have never had, no one bothered.
Of course, this all changed when John Sheppard arrived in Gateshire.
Being the second (and his parents might claim, lesser) son of a barely landed country gentleman, John had from his birth been expected to make his own way in the world. As he had no particular religious inclination and a tendency to stumble through speeches rather than imbue them with any kind of import, the military seemed to be the most logical (and frankly, the last) recourse left to him.
His life would have been entirely spent soldiering had it not been for the simple fact that, for as long as he could recall, John Sheppard had possessed a remarkable proficiency with numbers. As a single man with no financial obligations, his pay stipend often exceeded what he required for day-to-day living. With this residual income, John was known to make frequent and, as it turned out, often exceptionally prosperous investments.
As a result, John found himself the unlikely holder of vast financial resources, much to his chagrin. As he saw no sense in continuing to garner a salary he had no use for, he resigned from the military, planning to indulge himself in the life of leisure he had unexpectedly earned.
Not two weeks after this decision, John forced himself to reevaluate. As it turned out, idleness (however leisurely it may be) did not suit him. So instead, he set about finding some use for his unanticipated windfall.
He quickly dismissed the idea of resuming his education. Becoming a barrister seemed too dreary, becoming a doctor too gory, and he certainly did not have the temperament to become a politician. No, a business venture was clearly what he needed, something entertaining and new and preferably profitable for other employees.
So Atlantis Trading and Shipping was created, born of equal parts boredom and excess wealth. John had slowly been building what he believed to be an unparalleled staff of ship captains, sailors, scientists turned shipwrights - a winning team when combined with his own financial prowess. However, as was clearly evidenced by the letter he currently held in his hand, there was one crucial component of his company missing – a diplomatic element.
"How can they claim we don't have a permit?" he wondered aloud. "I obtained one when we began to build the boats a few months ago."
"Ships," muttered Rodney McKay from across the room. "They're called ships."
John had known that, of course – he just enjoyed Rodney's exasperation. "Those little puddle jumpers? They hardly seem big enough."
"That's the point now, isn't it? Small, but fast. Efficient. Get the goods quicker in order to stand a chance against the monolithic East India Trading Company," Rodney retorted. "And I swear to God, if you name them all 'Puddle Jumper 1', 'Puddle Jumper 2' and so on, I'm quitting right now."
Seeing as Rodney made similar declarations at least once a day, John foresaw no immediate threat. "That's reason enough," he replied cheerily, just to bait him.
"Gentlemen," Cameron Mitchell interrupted, "Can we get back to the issue at hand?"
Turning his attention back to the letter that had just arrived in the post, John felt a distinct sense of frustration. "Yes, right. So what are we going to do about this?"
Rodney just looked at him blankly while Cameron shrugged. "I've no idea. I think a trip to London is required."
John had been dreading that inevitable suggestion. "I hate London. I don't suppose you'd be interested?"
Cameron raised his hands, a smug grin on his face. "Do I really have to point out who the owner of this company is? Besides, I'm a newlywed yet. Tearing me away from my new wife and her many charms right now would just be…cruel."
Somehow, John suspected that six months from now, after spending weeks in close quarters at sea with his newly won spouse, Cameron would be singing a different tune. But no matter.
"I'll go!" Rodney volunteered. "I love London. Why, the food alone…."
As happy as John would have been to pass the odious duty of hobnobbing with the privileged and repellent to someone (anyone) else, the idea of sending McKay to sort out diplomatic matters could be nothing but disastrous. "No, I'll go. I suppose it's my office as the head of this company. Besides, I want to see if I can find someone to take care of this sort of thing fulltime – dealing with contracts, easing the way with foreign dignitaries, opening trade possibilities in other regions. Lord knows none of us will be any good at it."
"You could hire Jackson," Cameron suggested. "He certainly talks enough."
"That he does," John admitted with a grin. "But unfortunately, I already offered the post to Mr. Jackson. He's refused, incapable of imagining himself away from his studies so regularly. He did say if we ever need a traveling dignitary he might consider a trip or two, though. For all the good that does me now."
"What about his protégé?" Rodney suggested. "You know, the annoyingly cheerful one."
"Jonas Quinn. I considered it, but although he's undeniably bright, he's a bit on the inexperienced side, don't you think?"
Their silence was answer enough. "No, someone new is our only recourse, though I fear it may take me at least a fortnight to sort out this whole mess."
"It'll take at least that long to install the rest of the new improvements on all the ships," Rodney assured him. "Possibly longer, so there's no hurry."
John curbed the impulse to laugh. "Anxious to get rid of me, Rodney?"
Seeing as Rodney had never been one to bother with the charade of good manners, John should have expected his reply.
"Is it that obvious?"
While John Sheppard was packing for his reluctant trip to the city, Elizabeth Weir was swallowing a bitter pill of her own – the finalization of her wedding arrangements.
Ideally, such an event was supposed to be heralded by something other than a vague sense of dread, but Elizabeth Weir had learned long ago that reality was rarely ideal. Her impending nuptials were neither her choice nor her desire, but rather her duty – a state of affairs that she had become more than accustomed to over the years.
After the untimely death of her mother more than a decade previous, Elizabeth had been left to serve as the mistress of her father's house – no small task for a normal household, let alone one that centered around the mercurial political world of Parliament. Thus from an early age, Elizabeth had gotten a curious insight into a world normally dominated by men and their so-called superior political minds. She had learned five languages, could manage to be seated with both a Frenchman and a Spaniard and keep things civil, and was able to gracefully navigate the steps of seventeen foreign dances in an attempt to make visiting foreign dignitaries feel friendlier towards their strained English allies. Above all, she had learned that politics had a hand in everything.
So really, it shouldn't have surprised her when her father arranged her marriage with the same calculating eye that he had used for every previous undertaking regarding his daughter. She knew better than anyone that every move he made was a political one, and having a daughter married to the promising young Mr. Simon Narim was sure to be a beneficial arrangement for both men.
Obviously, the idea of consulting Elizabeth had never really occurred to either of them.
Still, despite her lack of involvement in the situation, she found herself curiously unemotional about the idea. Mr. Narim did not seem to be a bad sort of man – merely ambitious, an attitude to which she was accustomed. At the very least, marrying him would allow her to continue flourishing in a familiar situation, exerting what little influence she had in an attempt to guide political matters in a way few other women had the means or interest in doing. So while part of her naturally wished that she had some stronger emotion for her husband-to-be, the larger, more practical part accepted her marriage with all the grace she could manage.
If some small, romantic part of her rebelled at the idea of such a calculated union, then no one need know about it. She had long ago learned to keep her own counsel about such matters.
Still, as she laid out her dress, Elizabeth found herself curiously uninvolved. It was a beautiful gown, though simple in design, with an elaborate lace veil (a gift from her fiancé) and new white boots. The neckline, however, demanded some kind of decoration.
"That strand of pearls you have would look lovely just there, Miss," pointed out her lady's maid, Miss Simpson.
The thought had occurred to her, but for some reason, Elizabeth hesitated. "The pearls were my mother's."
"And lovely they are. The necklace is just the thing." Simpson fetched to pearls from Elizabeth's scantily populated jewel box, laying it against the simple neckline of the dress.
Elizabeth ran her hands over them thoughtfully. "Perhaps." Something about the thought of wearing her mother's pearls for this hollow ritual touched on her too often quelled sensibilities. "Come, I need to get dressed."
With Simpson's help, Elizabeth dressed methodically, pinning up the long dark curls of her hair and arranging the delicate veil and smoothing every wrinkle of the fine ivory satin. But when she arrived at the church and took her father's hand for the long walk down the aisle, her neck was curiously bare of adornment.