Bargaining Chip

Author: Tari_Roo

Rating: PG13 (Gen)

Fandom: SGA

Disclaimer: I own nothing, I profit from nothing. But if I could own anything, I'd own Sheppard, cough, I mean Sheppard's wrist band, I mean Sheppard.

Summary: Life isn't easy for galaxy hopping Colonels. Meetings, conferences and wraith are top of the list of things to avoid. And sometimes it's easy to forget that Earth has its hazards too, even if they're only the occasional kidnapping.

Spoilers: set post Season 5 of SGA and assumes Atlantis returned to Pegasus, post ep 100. General spoilers for SGU.

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"That him?"

"Yep?"

"You sure?"

"100%."

"Ok, we're a go."

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John had a killer headache, the kind that only mind numbing boredom and bureaucracy can induce. He shoved his aviators onto his nose a little too forcefully but the bright June sunshine in Washington was not helping his mood or headache.

Glancing to the left as he exited one of the controlled access points for the Homeland, aka Homeworld Security building, Sheppard took in a deep breath of city air and groaned. Day 2 of a 5 day pow-wow of SGC big wigs, and Sheppard still had no idea who he had pissed off enough that he had got the nod to represent Atlantis and escort Rodney. The main topic on the agenda was Destiny or rather The Destiny and what the SGC were going to do about rescuing all those people.

Since the ship was Ancient and they lived in an Ancient City someone from Atlantis had had to come and hell, it had to be him. Personally, Sheppard didn't get what the big deal about Destiny was. Yes, definitely rescue everyone, get them back home. But the ship? So what? It was a million years old, half broken and a billion light years away. A newer, far closer and much cooler Ancient City was ready and available. Half Dead Ship vs. Awesome City? A no brainer as far as he was concerned.

Rodney though was beside him. He was torn between the desire, or need, to have a crack at the turning the ship around or fixing it and proving himself to be the ultimate authority on all things Ancient and terrified of the Ancient stones malfunctioning and being trapped on the ship, in someone else's body no less. John quietly murmured to Rodney that maybe that someone would be a non-hypoglycaemic, citrus loving marine and that Rodney could finally enjoy the delights of near-orange fruit salad. Naturally this had not been well received by McKay, and naturally McKay's overly loud response had resulted in Sheppard's temporary recusal from the debate.

All part of his cunning plan.

So free for the afternoon, Sheppard tried a smile on for size and didn't so much trudge down the steps as bounce.

And just his luck, a cab pulled up just as he was thinking of hailing one and the young driver yelled out, "Where to, Boss?"

Slipping inside, Sheppard drawled, "Anywhere but here."

The cabby smiled and said, "Sure thing, Boss. It's your dime." He put the driver into gear with flair, and barely checked his mirrors before pulling out into the road. Sheppard leant back into the seat and sighed, "Let's make it lunch. Palena, please. Connecticut Ave."

"Palena, sure thing. Great burgers, man. Get you there in no time."

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"I thought the military had regulations about haircuts."

"They do."

"And what, this guy don't count? Got a note from his mom?"

"More like enough of a loser that they don't care."

"Can't be too much of a loser, made Colonel."

"Yeah? And what else do you think Daddy's money bought?"

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Sheppard came to with an even worse headache, this one accompanied by the taste a dead dog and a furry tongue. He could feel his pulse throbbing behind his eye and as much as a swinging light bulb overhead was a swinging cliché at least it wasn't bright enough to do more than make him wince as he opened blurry eyes.

"Wha?"

Opening his mouth, and trying to get rid of the furry sensation, John cricked his neck, groaned at the accompanying spike of pain and closed his eyes to stop the room spinning.

"Not good."

And as usual, the headache and wooziness only helped him focus more on the rest of the room, and his situation. He'd spent too much time tied up in chairs waiting for something to happen for the sensation of restraints on hands and feet not to send his heart rate racing and adrenalin surging. No matter the headache, Sheppard was taking in the bare walls, cold but rusty metal chair and plastic ties, as well as the door at 12 o'clock and the small window at 3.

When the door slammed open, Sheppard was expecting it, having heard the tread of heavy feet and it was a little surreal to see two men in dark suits stride in. They weren't Koyla, not by a long shot, but his heart still skipped a beat and the scar over his heart ached.

"Awake I see."

This came from a tall man, with sandy hair and cool blue eyes. His calculating gaze was a little chilling and John knew it was not a good thing that neither man was bothering to mask their identities. But Sheppard couldn't help smirking and saying, "Captain Obvious, I presume."

Neither man reacted violently to the quip and they weren't joined by an appropriately overmuscled henchman whose sole purpose was to look scary and beat some respect in John Sheppard, but Captain Obvious sighed and said, "Colonel Sheppard, this need not be an entirely unpleasant experience. We have an end game, obviously and fortunately your part in the whole procedure is relatively small."

It was bad that they knew his name, but since he was on Earth, not all that surprising. And reassurances aside, John doubted his 'small part' would be entirely pleasant.

"Weirdest audition I've ever been too."

Motioning for his so far silent companion, the man smirked in ill humour and took a cellphone and piece of paper from the man. Thick black leather gloves struggled to manipulate the phone but he eventually said, "Here's your part. I am going to record a little message, you are going to read the piece of paper." He held out the paper, which was printed out in large font, and Sheppard frowned.

"What does this have to do with Dave?"

Captain O. smiled, "Everything, Colonel. So be a good soldier, and read it. Nice and slow. And no improvising."

The lack of threats of bodily harm and looming Todds was a nice break, so Sheppard decided to play along, for now, because mostly he really wanted to see what the rest of the message was.

The silent minion stepped forward and propped today's paper on Sheppard's lap, and then Captain Obvious pressed a button on his phone, and nodded at the paper in his hands. John squinted, pretending to struggle and said, "Come closer, I can't..."

His kidnapper did just that, scowling all the while and shook the paper at Sheppard. John began to read, "Dave, as you can see I'm in a bit of a pickle..."

John stopped and drawled incredulously, "Pickle... who in the hell says... I would so not say this!"

Captain Now Very Displeased shook the paper, looked irate and John sighed dramatically but continued, "... in a bit of a pickle. They assure me that I will not be harmed... you didn't assure me that at all, dude."

Captain Obvious stopped the recording and yelled, "Just read the damn note, Colonel. The sooner you do so, the sooner we can complete this transaction!"

Silent Minion drew out a fairly new looking Walther PPK and pointed it somewhat competently at Sheppard. John smiled innocently and squinted again, "Er... They assure me that I will not be harmed if you co-operate, ah right, ... sorry man, is that a M or a N?"

Lowering the camera phone, paper and his voice, going for serious and deadly and channelling constipated instead, Captain growled, "Do not doubt Colonel Sheppard that we are capable of shooting you. Read! This is not a joke!"

"Wanna bet?" John sighed before clearing his throat and reading aloud, "Dave, as you can see I am in a bit of a pickle. They assure me that I will not be harmed if you co-operate. Your bid for Mark... Markham Industrial must be withdrawn within 12 hours, otherwise, the next video you will receive will be... does that say pause for dramatic effect?"

Minion cocked the Walther with menace that was ruined by his pink tie and flushed face. "Fine," John said, "Otherwise the next video you will receive will be of ... my execution."

Captain O. lowered the camera and smiled in what was either an attempt at an evil smile or a pressing need for the toilet and said, "See, not so hard afterall. Make yourself comfortable, Sheppard."

Minion lingered for a moment to snatch the paper off his lap, trying to look tough and dangerous all the while before scurrying after the other man. Once the heavy metal door closed, Sheppard relaxed a little, and tugged on plastic restraints. At least a 12 hour window would be enough for the SGC to notice he was missing and track his sub-cutaneous transmitter down. Hell, Rodney would miss him after lunch, definitely before dinner, hell maybe he'd be rescued before the need to pee became too urgent. It was certainly colouring his perceptions of his kidnappers though.

However, the need to be rescued was real, because there was no way they were letting him leave here alive, not with him being able to identify them. May as well start planning an escape, just in case.

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"Cocksure isn't he?"

"Arrogant more like, just like his brother."

"Video sent?"

"On its way. Oh, to be a fly on that wall."

"Think he'll cave?"

"Might be a cold hearted bastard but family is family."

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John's left wrist was a bloody mess, the unforgiving plastic tie cutting into his skin but there was a jagged piece of metal on the leg of the chair and after a lot of effort, the plastic tie felt looser. With his hands secured behind his back, tied to the legs of the chair, Sheppard had to carefully judge his progress by feel, and between the blood and sweat it was difficult to tell exactly, but the top of the tie felt frayed.

It was difficult to judge the passing of time accurately in expressionless, monotone rooms but after years of travelling to other worlds, different planetary axis's and hemispheres, let alone time zones, his internal clock ran true Atlantis time. It was about 8pm in Atlantis, so about 3pm in Washington, give or take. He'd only been missing for a couple of hours, given he'd been nabbed just before 12.

He wasn't expecting a visit, so when the door slammed open and his kidnappers stormed in, he tried to cover his surprise but their anger and instant violence was pretty damn out of left field. Minion was wearing a blue balaclava but had on the same suit and pink tie as he closed on John and whipped his gun across his face.

Seeing stars, the world tilting a little, Sheppard didn't see the second blow coming, let alone the third, his ears ringing. The sound of duct tape was unmistakable and before John could really gather himself, a thick piece of tape was wrapped over his eyes.

Plunged into darkness, he felt a small, sweaty hand grab his hair and yank his head back and as he gasped, the barrel of a gun was shoved into his mouth, and pressed hard into the roof of his mouth. Gagging, trying to breath as his head was pulled back further, Sheppard vaguely heard someone yelling, "You think we are not serious, David! You think this is some sort of joke!"

Minion shook John's head hard, banging the gun against his teeth. "Withdraw your offer or watch me blow your brother's brains out!"

And just as suddenly as the gun had been shoved into his mouth, it was yanked out and pressed into the meat of his left shoulder. Sheppard heard the click and instinctively braced himself, "And so you know just how serious we are..."

John had been shot a few times, but in all honesty, far weirder and worse things than being shot happened to you in Pegasus. That though didn't change the fact that being shot point blank hurt like a son of a bitch. His shout was strangled, and apparently not loud enough, as thick little fingers that were more used to typing out emails dug into his shoulder, at both entrance and exit points. It was unexpected and painful enough to elicit a scream and then they were gone, leaving only the sharp screaming pain of the bullet wound.

"Midnight, David. You have until midnight to withdraw your offer."

It was no comfort at all that in the stunned silence afterward, that John could hear Minion's rapid fire breathing over the thudding of his own heart.

"Man, what a rush!" Minion sounded excited and Captain's constipated drawl was still condescending, "Yeah, but your suit is ruined."

"True."

The sound of their heavy footsteps and the slamming door allowed the stunned silence to return and John couldn't help wondering what on earth Dave's response had been to elicit such a reaction. And if maybe a business deal was more important to Dave than his own brother.

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"Charles looked like he was having fun."

"Who knew he was such a bloodthirsty little bastard."

"You certain the FBI can't trace this."

"Positive, it's what we do afterall."

"He gonna bleed to death before midnight?"

"Who cares?"

"Proof of life, man."

"Fine, I'll go check on him just now."

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They didn't leave him alone, not if they wanted him conscious enough for another video so when the door opened, John let out a silent gasp of 'Thank goodness,'. His shoulder was on fire and maybe there'd be morphine.

Whoever it was didn't say anything as they approached but they clearly had no idea what they were doing. Thick, fumbling fingers pressed into the wound and John hissed, "Hey, watch it, come on, man."

"Shut up and stop moving."

Ah, Captain O, who had apparently learnt his first aid from TV as he pressed down hard on the bullet wound to slow the bleeding but forgot about the exit wound.

"Shit, stop, just..."

"Quit being such a baby. Probably the first time you've been shot, huh, Colonel?"

Sheppard shook his head slowly, more in response the constant painful pressure and hissed, "It's not even the first time I've been shot by a moron. Shit!"

Captain O was really leaning into the wound, and John arched in the chair pulling at his raw and bleeding wrist, trying to escape the pain. "Stop moving, idiot! I'm trying to help. I've gotta stop the bleeding!"

And then John heard the most wonderful sound in the world. The distinctive whir of a transport beam. Several transport beams.

There was no sensation of being 'beamed' up himself, instead even as Captain Obvious exclaimed, "What the hell?" there were multiple shouts of "Hands in the air!" "Step away from the Colonel!"

"Finally!" Sheppard exclaimed as someone pulled the kidnapper away.

"Sorry, sir," said a Marine-sounding person and the duct tape was peeled quickly off his face. Blinking against the bright light, John smiled at the concerned Marine Sergeant and said, "Man, I love you, guys."

"That's to be expected, sir," the Sergeant grunted, and then tapped his radio, "We need a medic."

The rest of the Marines however had ran out of the room, through the metal door and there were sounds of gunfire and shouts in the distance. Captain Obvious was face down on the floor, a heavy Marine boot on his back as his hands were secured behind him.

The Sergeant flicked open a knife and cut John free, but Sheppard didn't move, content to sit and wait for a medic. And he had to smile when Dr Lamb was beamed in, her hair tied back in a tight ponytail.

"Doc."

"Long time, Colonel. And in less than pleasant circumstances. Although trust you to derail a 5 day conference."

"All part of my charm," Sheppard sighed, as Lamb leant over and began prodding his shoulder. She tapped her radio and said sharply, "Michaels, are we clear for Bethesda. It'd make life easier for O'Neill and the FBI if we are."

John couldn't hear the response, but Carolyn nodded and said, "Good. Then please beam three to Bethesda."

Captain Obvious had the stunned expression of the 'No frigging way' on his face and Sheppard couldn't help smirking as the white transporter light enveloped him and whisked him off to Bethesda.

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It was pretty late, long past visiting hours, when his final visitor made an appearance. Once out of surgery, and awake, John had had to deal with O'Neill, some bland FBI agent and Rodney, all demanding pretty much the same thing. Answers.

Rodney's questions were less typical and not always addressed at John but he kept on forgetting where he was and talking about Carson and Atlantis, so O'Neill had eventually ordered him aboard the Deadalus by the easiest means. Asking Caldwell to beam him up.

Once Rodney was gone, things got quieter and less interesting, and John ended the FBI's questioning session by simply falling asleep. But he'd been hoping, waiting for this visitor, so when the Marines let Dave through, Sheppard felt something inside him ease.

Dave looked terrible, hair awry, suit rumpled and even though he didn't have a smile for John, he oozed relief. He closed the distance from door to bed with a purposeful stride but as he reached John's bed, seemed to lose a bit of that confidence and ended up looking more than a little lost.

"Hey," Sheppard said softly in deference to the late hour and his brother's haggard expression.

"Hey, I..." Dave began and then lost momentum. He stood looking at John, opened his mouth a few times and eventually John asked, "You okay?"

"What? No, wait, of course, now, I mean, damn." Dave sat down in the chair by the bed, its hard plastic form unyielding even under O'Neill's presence. "John, I am so sorry, I had no idea..."

Sheppard would have shrugged but that was a little beyond him even the 'oh so lovely' drugs, so instead he quipped, "Sheppard luck, maybe. 360 days of the year I'm unavailable for corporate kidnappings and the 5 days that I am ..."

Dave didn't laugh, or even crack a smile. He looked... really awful, haggard and drawn, the life sucked out of him. "Hey, I'm fine," John said, firmly, disliking the images memories of being sucked dry gave him, and never really being able to see his brother upset.

Dave launched himself out of the chair and stood towering over John, "No, you're not. You got shot, John! Shot over some damn business deal and because I listened to a frigging FBI agent. Shit... John, I am so sorry."

The shout had drawn the Marines attention but they only looked in, before returning to their posts. John tried to sit up a little more in the bed, look less hurt and he said calmly, "Shit happens, Dave, there's..."

"That's crap, John! Shit doesn't just happen... people, people ... shoot your brother and, and, and..."

Dave collapsed in the chair again, his head in his hands, visibly, audibly shaking, maybe even crying and John momentarily fought with the various IVs and oxygen tubes, trying to move closer to his brother.

"Dave, ... damn it, Dave!"

His brother looked up, eyes dark and red and John waved him over, "Get up here now, damn tubes and things are going to be..."

Dave moved like lightning, up and next to John, wrapping his big brother in a tentative hug that lasted all of three seconds before he tightened his hold and whispered, "I am so sorry, John."

Wincing as his shoulder was jostled, its pain dulled but hardly gone, Sheppard sighed, "I know you are, but you got nothing to be sorry about. Really, I am serious, shit happens and you can't control what the idiots of the world chose to do. So ... "

Dave held on, fierce and tight and Sheppard hoped to God that he wasn't still crying. "Dave... could you... kinda tight."

"Oh sorry, sorry, man, I..." Dave let go and tried to back away, off the bed but John snagged his hand and said firmly, "No more hugging, but ... we're ok, ok?"

Dave nodded, reluctantly and pulled the chair closer to the bed, leaning up on the stiff white mattress. He seemed a little calmer, less wrecked and as John was about to ask about the kidnappers, Dave blurted out, "I called Nancy. Told her you were in the hospital."

"What, why? Dave!" Sheppard exclaimed, scowling deeply to which his brother simply and effortlessly shrugged, damn him. "Habit, I suppose. Something happens to you, phone Nancy."

"Dave."

"Don't Dave me, John. I get that we're not close and ... well... but I had to do something."

John shook his head, "You coulda just bought me a car or something, dude. No need to call my ex-wife."

Dave smiled, small and tentative and sighed, "I really am sorry, John."

"I know. But I am serious about the car – for the bullet and calling Nancy."

"Ok, sure."

"Serious?"

"No."

Sheppard though just smiled and leant back into the pillows and said, "Fine. Don't have anywhere to put it anyhow."

"Sure you do."

John quirked an eyebrow and Dave smiled, "You'll always have a home with me, John."

And Sheppard smiled sadly in return, because as nice as that sentiment was, Atlantis would always be home, and Earth a paltry second best. "Sure, thanks, Dave."

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Fin

AN: ta da! Prompt from last year, first prompt fic of 2011. With brother!hugging