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Saturday, October 6th, 2012 09:17 am
Title: At Your Service
Author: velocitygrass
Main Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Genre: Historical AU with young John and Rodney

I like to write little scenes from an outside POV as my previews, so this isn't an excerpt, but an event that happens in the second half of the fic (though we only see the result from it), written from the POV of Jennifer Keller.

Jennifer Keller's first Courting Day

Jennifer felt a bit awkward.

This was her first Courting Day. That alone wouldn't have made her nervous, but while all the other young men and women were looking to find a partner, she already had one.

Unfortunately Michael was too young to officially claim her without a scandal that she didn't want to put her father through. Not being claimed on her first Courting Day would also raise a few eyebrows, but she couldn't bring herself to allow a hopeful young man to court her when her heart already belonged to another.

So she tried to be polite while she turned down the men approaching her. They seemed nice for the most part, which made her feel even more determined not to get in the way of their finding a real partner.

One such man sat down at her table, smiling almost conspirationally.

"I'm Rodney McKay," he said.

He had to be the son of Dr. McKay of the McKay Laboratories, which was probably the best scientific lab in Atlantia—and the world. Jennifer nodded and told him her name. Maybe she could chat with him a bit before telling him that she wasn't interested in being claimed.

"I've watched you," Rodney said, looking slightly gleeful.

Jennifer's smile faltered. She wasn't sure if Rodney thought he was being charming, but it would probably be best to tell him to look elsewhere.

Before she could open her mouth, though, Rodney added, "You don't want to be claimed."

Jennifer paled. She'd thought she'd done an adequate job of talking to the young men before turning them down. She didn't want word to get around that she was actively trying not to be claimed.

"Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me," Rodney said. "In fact, I'm in a similar position as you and maybe we could work that out to both of our advantage."

Jennifer hesitated for a second, but something made her trust Rodney's word, and the idea that she wasn't alone in her situation was a relief. She leaned forward to make sure they wouldn't be overheard and asked, "The woman you wish to marry is too young to be officially claimed?"

Rodney's expression darkened.

"I'm sorry," Jennifer said. "Is she...dead?"

"No," Rodney only said curtly. He hesitated for a minute, then looked around before leaning forward. "He's my body servant," he whispered.

"Oh." Jennifer had heard of intimacies between body servants and their masters, but she hadn't really considered... Thinking about it for a moment, she realized what a horrible situation Rodney was in compared to her. She only had to wait out two Courting Days for Michael to be old enough to claim her. Rodney on the other hand would be forced to claim someone he couldn't love.

"My father...was less than happy when I didn't make a claim on my last Courting Day," Rodney explained. "And if you'd allow me to officially register a claim for you, we could put our parents' fear to rest at least for the next six months. I'll give you my word that I do not intend to marry you or stand in the way of another man who will claim you in the future."

Jennifer nodded. More than herself she wanted to help Rodney make the best of the situation. They began to chat about their lives and how they could make this charade work.

After a while, Jennifer noticed a young man who kept looking at their table. She couldn't remember having had any contact with him, and he seemed to look at Rodney more than her.

Rodney seemed to notice her distraction and frowned. Then he rolled his eyes. "Let me guess. A dark-haired, ugly brute is staring?"

"I wouldn't say ugly, but yes."

"Berenson," Rodney said derisively.

The Berensons were one of the richest families of Atlantia.

"He wants John for himself," Rodney added darkly.

"John?" Jennifer asked.

Rodney's expression softened. "My body servant. The man I love."


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