Rating: R (overall)
Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney, Helia/OFC
Warnings: part two of #27 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1); "The Return, Part 1"
Summary: A family reunion.
Notes: Well, this looked longer on paper.
Also, the family tree will continue to come in helpful in this chappie. Just as an FYI, though, Danelia IS Captain Helia from "The Return." Danelia is just her first name - her praenomen - whereas Helia is her nickname - her cognomen. (It's like with Trebal from "Aurora" - Trebal is her cognomen, Alianora is her praenomen - or Iohannes - Iohannes is his praenomen, Licinus his cognomen.)
An Ancient!John Story
"Hello, Danelia," John says negligently, his words painfully loud in the Gate Room's restive silence. "Long time, no see."
The Captain - who'd introduced herself to Rodney as Helia - inclines her head with a motion barely large enough to be called a nod, the motion only perceptible at all because of her mass of dark blonde curls. "You as well, Licinus. I had been under the impression that you had died when Tirianus Fell.
"I survived," he shrugs. "I'm a little surprised you did, though, what with your ship flying apart as it entered that hyperspace window."
"'Tria' was heavily damaged in the battle, particularly our engine compartment. We were unable to repair our hyperdrive after the call for evacuation was given, but we were able to boost our sub-light engines to within one thousandth of a percent of the speed of light. Between the effects of relativity and our stasis pods, we," she gestures at the dozen or so crewmen 'Daedalus' has beamed down with them, "were able to survive for far longer than we should have."
"Same here, for the stasis at least." John hands slide twitchily from his hips into his front pockets, as if he's trying his best to keep this casual and overcompensating just a little too much. "It's been ten thousand, two hundred twelve years. Did they tell you?"
"Yes, although it is quite difficult to believe."
"You get used to it," John shrugs, like that's just something people do. "Things are a little more undeveloped than you're going to be used to, but the Terrans have 'lintres' and microprocessors and nuclear fission. The Asgard regard them as the Fifth Race of the old Alliance. They're not completely backward."
Rodney bristles at this. Sure, they might not be up to Ancient levels of technology, but they're not 'undeveloped' by any means. Like John said, they've computers and nuclear power and 304s. They've defeated the Replicators (the Milky Way versions, at least) and the goa'uld. They're holding their own against the Wraith and the Ori. They may not be Ancients, but they're certainly not primitive.
He's about to remind John of this fact right then, but doesn't only because of the look that John gives him - one of the kind John usually reserves for when they're off-world and about to risk their necks on some hair-brained scheme that has about zero percent chance of success and a hundred percent chance of getting at least one of them maimed or killed; the kind that says 'trust me, I'll keep us safe'.
Well, 'that' doesn't bode well.
"I would rather not," she says brusquely.
"Too bad. The Terrans are family. They're here to stay."
"Family," Helia - Danela - snorts. "They are Descendants. They have no place here-"
John bristles, his carefully maintained air of aloofness falling as his eyes go hard and his hands start twitching back towards his Colt. "Father had a half-Terran son after the Exodus. They are all descended from him. That makes them your cousins and my nephews."
"They have no place here," she repeats tersely.
The navigator - a plain-looking man with close cropped, dark hair and a forgettable face - steps to stand in front of his captain. "And neither do you."
"Nobody asked you, Ulixes," John snaps, jaw twitching.
Rodney takes the opportunity to start edging towards Teyla and Halling, who are standing not far away, on the lower level by the side doors.
"They should have. After all, the last anybody listened to you, twelve 'lintres' and three thousand Alterans died."
"Maybe if some people hadn't run away-"
"We ran away? What about you, Licinus?" the navigator - Ulixes Nicon Heres he remember now - accuses, growing more enraged with each word-
-and he's not the only one. John's eyes are growing colder, harder, paler while the shadows subtly darken around him. "That was completely different."
"Is it? How is it that 'you', the Abomination, managed to survive when the others - the 'real' - Alterans - did not?"
"Because 'I' didn't abandon Atlantis," he contends loudly, striding forward. "'I' stayed with her. 'I' protected her ten thousand years in the darkness and the silence while you and everyone else left her to rot."
"Who was protecting her-?"
"Enough!" Helia shouts, determined to break up the argument but apparently surprised by her own vehemence. "This bickering is pointless. As highest ranking member of the Lantean Guard remaining, I assume control of Atlantis and its population. You will contact the one who speaks for the Terrans, Licinus; it is time for your bets to go home."
John moves forward still, stopping only when he's standing half a foot away from the captain of the 'Tria'. "You've been gone a long time, cousin. I am 'legatus' now, and 'praefectus'. Atlantis is, as she's always been, mine."
"I do not recognise your authority."
"But they do," he says, jerking a thumb over his shoulder at the various Expedition members watching uneasily behind him - to include several heavily-armed Marines and Ronon, all of whom are fingering their weapons.
Helia raises an eyebrow, and, yes, now Rodney can see it. She and John are definitely related. They've got each other's same worst qualities. The same intractableness. The same determination to do whatever is necessary to reach their objectives.
There is no way this can end well.
"Do you really want to risk the lives of your pets in battle against us, Licinus?"
"They are not pets," John insists, bringing his hands back to his hips. "They have bled for this city. Some if them have died for it. They have more right to be here than you do."
"Is that so?" Helia asks archly, moving forward until not more than half-an-inch remains between them. "Well then, 'cousin', let me tell 'you' something: I have listened to what these Descendants have whispered when they thought we could not hear. I know what sort of demon you are: a 'schimaticus' and a fraud, no better than the 'Haeretici' who drove us from our home galaxy so many millennia ago. Your word means nothing. If you had any decency, you would kill yourself now and spare the universe the pain of your 'Haeresis'."
John's eyes, already flinty, turn pure white and begin to glow with their own bright, internal light that casts no shadows. The light fixtures nearest to him burst and show the Ancients with sparks. He appears shrouded in darkness and, for the first time in along while, Rodney feels a stab of fear over what his 'amator' has become.
"I have done what I've had to do to keep Atlantis safe."
"Funny how that seems to have left you in a position of unquestioned power," the navigator, Ulixes, snorts, hands going towards the butt of his gun.
The shadows deepen still further. It should be impossible to make out what's happening in the centre of the Gate Room but, somehow, it's not. It's only around John they're truly deep. It's only around John they hide anything at all.
"I never asked for this. I never asked for any of this."
"Well, my lord," Ulixes remarks, voice dripping with sarcasm, "looks like you did not refuse it either."
"Maybe not, but the universe changed while we were sleeping, Ulixes. The old Alliance is broken. The Nox and the Furlings are dead. The Asgard are dying. Our Descendants in Avalon were enslaved for millennia by the goa'uld parasites we ignored, and those that finally broke the chains came here and are helping to fight the monsters 'we' created. The Terrans are here to stay. The sooner you accept that, the better."
"I will not bow to Descendants," Ulixes announces duly, unholstering his gun, "or their false gods."
Ulixes draws his gun, but by the time it clears the holster John has already fired, as have Ronon and Lorne, and the navigator is dead before he hits the Gate Room floor.
The room erupts in noise.
A handful of other Ancients reach for their weapons, as do the few Marines without P90s currently in their hands, but Captain Helia throws up her arms. "Enough!"
The whole room falls silent.
John points his gun at her. "Family or not, Daneilia, I've got no problem shooting you either. If it comes to that."
"You have made your point," she bites out stiffly. "You are 'praefectus'. I will not challenge that."
John lets his Colt point towards the floor. "Thank you," he says so softly that Rodney's not sure he actually heard him at all.
"But," she insists, unwilling to back down quietly, "Atlantis is 'our' home. We will not allow ourselves to be replaced by these... interlopers."
John beams at her. The glow fades from his eyes and the lighting overhead returns to normal. "I knew you'd come around."
He watches John pace the perimeter of their living room.
"She's planning something."
"Danelia," he insists as he passes behind the couch Rodney is currently sprawled across. "Her name is Danelia Ival Helia Navarcha and until she stops calling me by my stupid 'cognomen', I won't call her by hers."
Rodney sits up a little. "This is probably rhetorical, but you had a really screwed up childhood, didn't you?"
"My childhood was just fine, thank you very much."
"The fact that you think that say everything."
His 'amator' pauses just long enough to shoot him a dark look. "Can we leave your opinion of Father out of this for the moment and get back to the issue at hand?"
"Which is what? That your cousin screwed you over too?"
He slumps back onto cushions. He'd been lured into this conversation with promises of popcorn and 'Wormhole X-treme'. He feels vaguely betrayed. He'd wanted a chance to unwind after a day like today too. "Fine. Helia. Go on."
"Thank you," John says with false primness.
"No wonder people think you're the woman in this relationship," he mutters, still slightly bitter.
"I've still got no idea what that's supposed to mean."
"You say that," Rodney tells him, rolling his eyes at the shadows the city lights are casting on the ceiling, "but you've been around us Earthlings for two-and-a-half years now. You know 'Star Trek' and Tolstoy and Led Zeppelin and the entire Marvel universe. You can't tell me you've not managed to pick up a couple social customs along the way."
Tiredly, "Not the time, Rodney."
He waves an impatient hand. "Fine, fine. Get back to your familial crisis."
"Y'know, you could at least 'pretend' to take his seriously."
"I'm sorry, but it's hard to take it seriously when you claim each and every other Ancient we encounter is out to bring about the downfall of the Expedition."
"Well, it's true," he says with an audible pout.
Dryly, "It's paranoia."
"It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you," John insists, passing out of view behind Rodney's couch again.
"See! Earth pop culture, right there. You only pull out the 'oh, I'm a helpless alien' card when it suits you."
"Can we 'please'," he responds, pacing back into view, "get back to the point of this conversation?"
"Which is what? How to get rid of your prodigal cousin and her merry band of men?" Rodney asks, only half-seriously. Regardless of what John said earlier - regardless of what he'd done to the 'Tria's' navigator - Helia is still family, and that means a lot to him.
Rodney rolls his eyes and pushes himself into a sitting position. It looks like there's not going to be any 'Wormhole X-treme' tonight. "Yes, because that worked out so well with Michael."
John slaps him on the back of his head when next he passes.
"Hey! No need to resort to violence."
"Are you going to help me out or not? You don't know Danelia like I do. She's never had the same regard for non-Alteran life that I do. She'd kill you all herself if she thought it would bring about the end of the Wraith and not think twice about it."
Rodney sighs, rubbing the back of his head. Though he doesn't mean to, John's stronger than he was before. "Are you sure?"
"Not counting your time in stasis, it's still been what? Over a decade since you've seen her? Maybe she's changed."
"People don't just 'stop' being genocidal psychopaths, Rodney," he says dryly.
"I spent two days with her on the 'Daedalus'. She seemed perfectly normal to me - you know, for an Ancient."
"Thus my use of the world 'psychopath'," John says more dryly still.
"Even assuming that's true-"
"Which it is."
"-then she's bound to be pragmatic as well. She's not going to do anything while you're in charge of the city, and it's not like she can stage a coup with you being all Ascended and all."
John stops pacing and sinks onto the couch next to him. "No, but she can hurt you."
Annoyed now, "One of these days, John, you're going to have to realise that I can actually take care of myself."
"I know you can," he admits in a low breath. "I do, but... Danelia is nothing like anything you've ever seen."
"You said that about the Replicators."
"Her father created them."
"And by that logic," Rodney points out, "you should be just as much of a bastard as you claim 'your' father was."
"I never said I wasn't. I'm just saying, there are lines he'd cross that I never would, and that I'm worried you'd treat her the same way you treat me just because she's Alteran also."
"Like that would ever happen," Rodney snorts. "First of all, she may be blonde, but she's nowhere near as hot as you-"
"Gee. Thanks," John says, grinning at him in the half-darkness.
"-and, second, she's married." To 'Tria's' very hot (and nubile) Chief Medical Officer, Diana de Aynecuria Immunes. Even though she's not blonde either, if he weren't with John, Rodney'd definitely consider making an exception for 'her'. Though how that pair wound up together, he doubts anyone knows.
John bumps their shoulders. "I've told you, marriage didn't mean the same thing to my people that it does to yours."
"It means something to me," Rodney says, surprising himself.
In the past, if he'd found someone attractive, he'd hit on him or her regardless of circumstances. Once at Cal Tech he'd famously managed to hit on a groom at his bachelor party - which went about as well as one might imagine, though he and the best man had ended up having a thing for a couple of months. It'd been one of Rodney's longer relationships, pre-John.
But it's different now. It's not just that he has John and can see spending the rest of his life with him, it's that he gets why people want to spend their lives with just one person now. And maybe sometimes there are bumps in the road, but it's worth it, through richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and all the rest.
Maybe he should start thinking of ways to convince John to marry him.
John, of course, completely fails to notice this lightbulb moment. "That doesn't change anything. Danelia is smart. She knows I can't keep Atlantis running without you. If 'she' thinks she'd gain anything from it, she'll try to get you to have sex with her or become indebted to her in some other way. That's how her mind works."
"I don't think you have to worry about that."
John slumps against his side, bringing his head against Rodney's shoulder.
He's quiet for a long time, long enough that Rodney would have thought he'd fallen asleep if that were still a possibility. But after a while he asks, as if there'd been no interruption at all, "Am I doing the right thing?"
Rodney knows his 'amator' is not talking about his cousin anymore. "It's worked well so far." Better than fine even. No planet their teams have visited since the singing of the Charter has been openly hostile; most have been incredibly friendly, not wanting to go against their Ancient god. And, sure, there have been hiccups - overly-friendly high priestess, chieftains' sisters and merchants' daughters; the occasional demand for a miracle or fulfillment of a prophesy - but nothing too bad, or even all that dangerous. (Though the priestess from Latira had looked like she might have clawed his eyes out after he'd reminded her John was already in a long-term, committed monogamous relationship - by thoroughly examining John's tonsils with his tongue in front of her.)
"I don't trust things that go this well."
Which possibly explains all of John's commitment issues right there.
"Well, stop it. We've not had any fatalities - or even serious injuries, besides Doctor Parish breaking his arm falling off that ladder in Greenhouse Five - in seventy-seven days. The Replicators and the Wraith haven't made any move against us since the Charter was signed. You're the king of an entire galaxy and it's blue jello day in the mess hall tomorrow. Trust it or not, things 'are' going well, so try to relax."
"I want to. I really do. I just want to enjoy what time I have with you. But..."
Rodney rests his cheek against the top of John's head. "You're a good person, John. When the time comes, you'll be an excellent ruler. You've got nothing to worry about, Ori-wise."
Again, John says nothing. But he 'does' wrap an arm around Rodney's waist and pulls him closer.
He considers saying more, but there's nothing he 'can' say. If John doesn't believe him by now, nothing he can say ever will, no matter how much he should.
Continue on to Pars Tria