Warnings: post-"Iudex"; ie "The Return, Part 1"
Summary: Holy boredom
Notes: The next installment, "Exsul," is proving difficult. Enjoy this until then.
An Ancient!John Drabble
"He had been bored, that's all, bored like most people. Hence he had made himself out of whole cloth a life full of complications and drama. Something must happen - and that explains most human commitments. Something must happen, even loveless slavery, even war or death."
Albert Camus The Fall
The thing about dating an alien, Rodney quickly discovers, is not to judge anything his significant other does by human standards. Their races may share ninety-seven percent of a genome, but that three percent makes a lot of difference at times. And that's just nature - nurture has led to a whole set of cultural issues that Rodney doesn't think he could ever unravel in their entirety, even if he had the anthropological inkling.
But that's okay. John, for all he's not human, does a frightfully good job of pretending to be one. What's more, whatever his reasons, he seems to prefer it that way. The only time his true species is ever really an issue is when he starts talking about sex at the breakfast table or asks how much more he has to 'dumb down' one of his math proofs to have it make sense to Earth mathematicians. Which, it must be admitted, is only really embarrassing. And condescending. And annoying. But, having met other Ancients while hooked into 'Aurora's' neural network and while ferrying the survivors of the Tria back on to Atlantis on the Daedalus, he can say it's these are the least of far worse sins the Ancients seem to suffer.
But dating a god... That, it takes Rodney a frightfully long time to realise, is a whole other ball of wax, although not for the reasons one might think. It's not his 'divine' powers that are hard to adapt to or the religion that's sprung up around him - no, those are annoying and amusing by turns, and John manages to take both less seriously than he does.
No, the thing that it's hard to come to terms with is John's singular, overwhelming 'boredom'. It had been bad enough before, when John had needed to sleep and eat and breathe like the rest of them. But now there are twenty-eight hours in the day that must be filled and, even on Atlantis, work can only take up so much.
Rodney hates to quote philosophers and theologians, but, "The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings."
After his Ascension, John dives deeper into his informal study of Earth and the Tau'ri, to the point where drowning becomes more than a figurative possibility. He goes through books at a voracious rate, sometimes finishing eight or ten a night (and not small flimsy paperbacks either, or, at least, not just; Rodney's talking about all the classics of human literature, from Homer to Hugo, Dumas to Dostoevsky, Virgil to Verne to van Goethe, with one weekend dedicated to the entirety to the Harry Potter series to date and a whole week apportioned to the various Harlequin novels that people had somehow seen fit to bring to the Pegasus galaxy). Same goes for movies and television shows, showing the discrimination in what he chooses to watch as what he chooses to read (which is to say, none at all).
It's not just Tau'ri entertainment John's uses to stave off boredom. He still goes running with Ronon, for all the good it does him, lacking a physical body as he does. He still goes to the mainland with Teyla on a frightfully regular basis and allows himself to be put to work however her people require (or, at least, did until they resettled on New Athos). Add to that his new willingness to do paperwork – any kind of paperwork – to pass the time as well as his offer to teach Major Lorne about Ancient philosophy and, well, needless to say it's obvious John's grasping at straws to keep occupied.
Rodney tries. He really does. But John has absolutely no interest in learning about science and there are so many times he can ask him to help out with jumper maintenance or breaking into Janus' notes before John catches on. Because, contrary to everything that he pretends, John is a smart, wryly bastard who might actually have been manipulating them towards his domination of the entire galaxy all this time, as Radek once claimed. (Not that Rodney thinks this was actually the case, that it just happened as much as these things can ever just happen, but the possibility remains.)
So he takes to collecting books (decent books: Asimov and Heinlein, Cherryh and Reynolds, as well as any kind of non-fiction that he thinks John might be bothered to read), movies and tv series (he goes through the laughingly named electronics section at two o'clock one morning and picks up one of everything they don't already have). He fills three hard drives with semi-legal downloads of everything he can find (in alphabetical order, because he figures John's going to watch it all anyway).
It's not until he boxes it all up, clearly labelled and ready for the next Daedalus run, that Rodney remembers there aren't going to be any more Daedalus runs. Ever. He's stuck on Earth, just like the boxes, and John will never get them because he's stuck three million light-years away with people who despise his entire existence.
John must be bored out of his mind.