Disclaimer: not mine
Difficulties in Conflating Monetary Arrangements into Lucrative Results
Author: ALC Punk!
Warnings/Spoilers: language, mild violence, nebulously season four of Atlantis
Written For: Havocthecat
Prompt: Vala Mal Doran/John Sheppard
Author's Notes: This turned out far more gen than I'd intended.
When Vala made a bet with Teyla regarding John Sheppard's lack of a love live, she hadn't factored in getting caught and locked up with him. She'd been assigned to his team for the interim, with the proviso that she wasn't full time until Dr. Weir decided otherwise. So far, despite Rodney McKay's complaints about Vala's cheerful harassment, Dr. Weir hadn't seemed to think a change was required. Vala was a bit grateful for that, still getting used to being in Pegasus. Sheppard and his team were almost like old friends after a few weeks.
With her arms over her head, cuffed to a low-hanging pole, and her bottom on a truly uncomfortable wooden chair, she reflected that while it wasn't her greatest hour, it was a mere setback. Now, if only Sheppard would stop complaining about how she'd gotten them into this. And if the slightly coarse wool of her 'native' costume would stop chafing, she might be able to think of a way of getting free.
"I told you this wouldn't work," John Sheppard said, his voice annoyed. Given that it was the fifth time he'd said it, Vala thought he could try to be more interesting.
Probably, he was counting the seconds until Teyla and Ronon got tired of waiting for their signal and came to save them. Vala couldn't blame him--if this had been her and Daniel, or her and Mitchell, Carter and Teal'c would have been on their way already.
"You did not," she shot back as she twisted her hand a little further, feeling the sweat give her that last bit of slippage she needed to pull her hand free of the cuff. Her shoulder twinged a little, then settled down as she set her hand in her lap, wriggling a little to get the blood flow going again.
"In fact," she continued, when he didn't reply, "I seem to recall you saying it was as 'good a plan as any'."
"Maybe I was being sarcastic," John suggested.
Vala ignored him for the moment as she pulled a piece of wire from somewhere about her person--they'd removed her knife, belt and gun, of course. That was standard practice by most jailers. Very few ever bothered searching for bits of wire. Well, some did, she amended to herself as she carefully worked at the small lock, twisting in her seat to give herself a better view as she tipped back her head. It wasn't the most comfortable of positions, but it worked and the second cuff clicked open while Sheppard continued droning on his complaints.
"You know," Vala interrupted him as she stood up and started to inspect the rest of the cell, "it really was your fault. If you'd just done as Madame D asked of you, she wouldn't have let the local police arrest us."
"She was old enough to be my mother!"
Vala came around to look at him, and snorted, "But she was very spry for her age."
He didn't look as though he wanted to ask how she knew that. Instead, he glared, "You weren't the one she asked."
The cell was standard: dank, cramped, with that unidentifiable smell that one really didn't want to find the source of. The door was a slab of wood with a lock accessible from the inside. Finished with her perusal, Vala causally started picking it. "Would you have enjoyed that?"
Looking over her shoulder, she grinned, enjoying the look of utter bafflement on his face. She liked causing that look on men, though Colonel Carter had been particularly good at it, in the early days of their friendship.
"Hey. Are you going to just leave me here?"
The lock gave a soft click and Vala stood, stowing her piece of wire again. "Well," she walked over to stand in front of John, head tilted to one side, "I was considering it. This is rather a good look for you," she noted, reaching out and ruffling his hair.
It was very tempting to sit on his lap and take advantage of the situation. Vala filed away the thought for later as John growled something at her. "Don't worry," she assured him, patting his cheek before she pulled out the piece of wire again, "I'm sure we'll still be able to accomplish our mission."
"Why I ever agreed to Dr. Weir assigning you to my team--" he continued grousing as she freed his hands.
"You could have said no." Vala tucked the wire away and headed for the door, peeking out through a barely-opened crack before sashaying out into the corridor. "And hurry up, or we'll be late for the rendezvous with Teyla."
There were no guards, which puzzled her a little, but she chalked it up to their earlier performance of village buffoonery. The guards probably hadn't considered them threat enough to leave someone stationed. Someone would pay for that later, she was sure. She headed right, following her own internal sense of direction to their eventual destination. Sheppard followed, watching both their backs through several turnings before he stopped her when she would have gone left again.
"Wait. The map--"
"You're turned around."
"We go right."
"You can go right," Vala whispered, "I'm going left. We can always meet at the stargate, if you're that determined to be wrong."
John made a frustrated noise, "I'm in charge, Vala."
"You can be in charge all you want--after we borrow their zpm." Not waiting for a further interruption, Vala continued the way she'd been heading, stopping again once they'd reached the last turning. There would be guards, of course. There always were those sorts in front of large state treasury rooms.
Of course, the borrowing would be for an indefinite period of time, but Vala wasn't going to let that get in her way. Dr. Weir and even Colonel Sheppard had a bit of difficulty with the concept, and 'borrowing' seemed to make it more palatable than outright 'stealing'. Vala was fairly certain that the need for the zpm in Atlantis' defensive systems had also gone a long way towards making Elizabeth amenable.
Glancing quickly around the corner, she took the position of both guards, then backed up and put her mouth against Sheppard's ear. "Two," she murmured, "to either side."
He seemed frozen for a moment, then turned his head, almost as if he wasn't very aware of their rather close positions. Vala wriggled a little closer to him out of amusement.
"I'll get the far one," he murmured into her ear.
"Mm-mm." Accidentally brushing her lips against his ear, Vala suggested a rather different strategy. At least to get them up close and personal--with the guards, of course.
Sheppard seemed to be enjoying her being up close and personal with him, which made her entirely too pleased. She was so going to win that bet with Teyla, or die trying. Not that the outcome of the bet was a horrible one. Vala rather thought she would enjoy the result of seducing John Sheppard (though that hadn't been the exact wording, it would suffice--though not in the middle of this tense situation, though she had to admit in the aftermath, it might be worth it).
The guards stiffened as she approached with Sheppard in front of her, his hands pulled behind his back.
"Madame D has requested that he be brought here," Vala said, her tone formal and her eyes cold and icy.
It was the one on the right that objected, looking suspicious, "Madame D sent no--"
"You dare question me?" Vala hissed, stalking around Sheppard to get in the man's face. Too close for him to draw the revolver at his side quickly.
Vala punched him in the solar plexus, pulled his gun and smashed him over the head with the butt as he doubled over in shock. Next to her, Sheppard was dealing similar treatment to the other guard. Leaning down, Vala retrieved the key ring from the guard's belt and opened the door.
The room beyond the door made Vala pause to admire it. The arrangement was a little opulent, even for her goa'uld-influenced tastes. Though there wasn't enough gold. But the many surfaces--tables, shelves, pedestals--were littered with artifacts, and things that were obviously of value. She itched to take a careful look around, then grab some stuff to go. Of course, she didn't have any contacts in Pegasus yet (she just hadn't hat the time), but it wouldn't take her long to find places to fence. And Dr. Weir might not approve until she realized she needed that sort of network to survive in the galaxy.
Besides, she might need a nest egg on this side of the universe.
One lovely gold statue just called to be picked up and she had no problem doing so, her fingers stroking the surface as she considered how best to bring it out with her.
"We're not here for anything else."
"Oh, but this is lovely," Vala pointed out. "And it's not like she'll truly miss any one little bitty thing. At least not with that gone."
That was the zpm in the center of the room, a ring of candles around it, causing it to glow more than it should. Sheppard gave her an admonishing look and moved to pick it up, careful not to set himself on fire.
A quick search turned up nothing to carry it in, so Sheppard sighed and tucked it under his arm. His other hand still held the pistol he'd taken from the guard. Neither of them was going to try finding their communicators--there were too many places they could be and Teyla and Ronon would be storming the place soon.
Vala didn't hesitate to keep hold of her statue, judging the weight to be useful if she needed to hit someone. Though that would be a sad use for such a lovely object.
They made their way back out of the maze of corridors, only encountering one other set of guards who were too surprised to stop them. Vala wondered if the lax security was to their advantage, or a precursor of something far worse being between them and the stargate.
Once out of the building, they traversed the ornamental garden to the wall that surrounded it. Vala let Sheppard give her a boost and landed easily on the other side, reaching up for the zpm before he dropped down next to her.
Which was the perfect time for an alarm to start sounding from somewhere inside the compound.
"Crap," Sheppard gestured her ahead of him, "The path we took--"
"Should be right about here," replied Vala, yanking him through a set of bushes and out onto the well-worn path between the compound and stargate.
Vala was busily calculating their odds to make it to the gate before their pursuers caught up when she glanced down to admire the statuette still in her hand and spotted the tripwire. It was too late to simply stop, not with Sheppard on her heels.
"John--" She pivoted, slamming into him and shoving him sideways. They both lost their balance and fell, crashing into bushes and rolling down a slight incline. Vala ended up on top and she hissed at him to shut up as he started to object. Their pursuers were closer, she could hear them.
Really, human men were completely annoying, though easy to silence. Vala decided a little bit after that thought that John Sheppard was a decent kisser, even when surprised.
Eventually, the voices moved on, and Vala reluctantly broke the kiss off. "Well," she murmured, carefully pulling herself free of him, checking her weapon and treasure before getting to her feet, "At least you're not as repressed as Daniel."
"There was a tripwire," she informed him before starting back up to the path.
"In case you're wondering," he muttered as he followed her, "I'm fine. The zpm's fine."
"Yes, I know." Vala didn't bother telling him that if the zpm had broken they wouldn't exactly be standing there. She had enough knowledge of the physics of the situation to understand that a broken zpm released enough volatile force to level half a continent. At least, that was Sam Carter's theory, and Vala didn't intend to be the first to test it.
The rest of the trip back to the 'gate was spent keeping an eye out for their apparently incompetent pursuers and arguing about the statue Vala still carried. Ronon and Teyla were waiting for them in cover, not noticeable until Teyla melted out her hiding place, her steps cautious. "We thought we would be mounting a rescue shortly."
"Nah," Vala flashed her a grin, "We had it all under control."
"I can see that. Where are your radios?" Her eyebrow was up in the look Vala had considered patenting as Teyla's Eyebrow of Doubt.
"Minor setback," Sheppard drawled. He patted the zpm. "If you'll dial the gate and send the IDC, we can go--I'm not too happy, standing in the open like this. Too easy for an ambush."
Like magic, his words conjured sound from the forest, making them all tense, and Teyla moved in front of them while Ronon covered their other side. It was Vala who dialed, as the sound of gunfire started to break out from both sides of the clearing.
"Minor setback, huh?" called Ronon, firing into the trees with careful accuracy.
"Very minor--I remember this one time, I was raiding a tel'tac--"
"Send the code, Teyla." Sheppard ordered, firing to cover his teammate's quick movement to send her personal IDC through the gate to Atlantis command.
"It is sent, and I have confirmation--Dr. Weir, we're coming in hot--go, John, Ronon and I will cover!"
Vala didn't have to be told twice. She was through the gate before Sheppard jerked a hand at her.
Handing her revolver off to the nearest gate room guard, Vala raised a hand and waved cheerfully to Dr. Weir, standing on her balcony and quite obviously torn between worry and relief at their return. John and Teyla spilled out of the event horizon a moment before Ronon came through the gate and then it shut down with a snap.
After the de-briefing, Vala stopped at Dr. Weir's office, her little treasure still in hand. Keller had made her set it down during the post-mission medical check, but it was fairly safe while Vala watched it. Not that Vala expected someone to steal it, but one could never be too careful.
There was a massive stack of paperwork on Weir's desk, and Vala didn't envy her any of it. She wondered for a moment if she could sucker the woman into zatting it, the way General O'Neill was rumored to have done with his. Then she dismissed the idea, and set the statue on the desk, "I thought you might like something that wasn't ugly as a paperweight."
At hearing Vala's accurate assessment of the other assorted artifacts cluttering her desk and shelves, Weir actually smiled, "It's a competition, actually. Every team tries to find the ugliest thing imaginable."
Vala shook her head, "And you let them get away with it."
"I shouldn't keep this, you know." Weir rubbed a finger down one graceful arm, "The archeology department would love to get their hands on it."
"Make them steal it from your desk."
Elizabeth laughed and moved the many-armed goddess statuette to reside next to her computer, then folded her hands and looked at Vala, "Sheppard and his team, are they working out well for you?"
"As well as can be." replied Vala with a shrug before she backed to the doorway, "I should let you get back to work--unless you'd like to borrow the address of an abandoned planet to toss that through to?" She didn't want a reassignment. Not yet, if she could help it. She was enjoying herself far too much.
"No. I think I should finish it for the SGC." Though there was a slight grimace on Weir's face as she tried to look pleased. "Thank you, Vala."
Vala didn't reply, too busy wondering what would happen if she disappointed Dr. Weir or got someone killed. Would she regret the choice, then? The thought was far too depressing, so Vala resolved not to think about it anymore as she headed down to the cafeteria. She had Teyla to track down and a bet to discuss technicalities on.