Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, OMC
Warnings: #32 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2, 2.5); "The Tao of Rodney," thru SG1 s10e14 "The Shroud," SGU s1e01 "Air"; homophobia
Summary: Things Fall Apart
Notes: I give up. RL is making it take too long to write a chappie, and the chappie as it stands is already approaching 4k words, so I'm just going to post the sections of the chappie as I finish them before I delete it all and loose all faith in my writing abilities. So this is PART ONE of CHAPTER THREE. There will be more. Probably two more parts. This one has actually been finished for weeks now; it is the next that is taking so much time. Please send love and support, or magically fix my boss's wrist, or make the writing I do on the back of receipt paper more legible.
1) Zachary Richards and Brandon Nelson are of my own creation. Both are Emigres, former US citizens, and worked at Duke University pre-Hegria. They are botanists by trade, were members of the original Expedition, and are not gene users. 2) Yes, i have random details like this for almost everyone I write into the story. 3) Houpelande is the name for the long-sleeved outfit I've had Teyla's seamstress friend dress everyone in. Because I can. (and it fits into the culture more than my other options). 4) epithelioma basocellula is the latin name for a type of rare(ish) skin cancer. 5) In case you've forgotten during the hiatius-like thing, this takes place in the wee hours of the morning following John's coronation.
An Ancient!John Story
19 March, 2007 / IXX Mai. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
"Would someone care to explain to me," Iohannes says, gesturing at one of the chairs stacked in the corner and waving it into the centre of the room, "why two of my scientists thought it might be a good idea to get into a kerfuffle with four of the new Expedition's rather rugged young Marines?
"Now, don't get me wrong," he adds, somewhat ameliorant as he spins the chair around to sit in it backwards, "I admire the moxie. It's not often a couple of botanists with three doctorates and four asthma medications between them decide to start a lop-sided brawl, particularly with guys who have ten years and twenty pounds of muscle on them. I just think it's a little odd, because usually my scientists have much better sense then to get into fistfights. Especially when I made it very clear before the new Expedition arrived that we're not trying to start an intergalactic war." Very clear.
Doctor Brandon Nelson continues to nurse his broken jaw with silent fury, not quite meeting Iohannes' eyes but not actively avoiding them either. The sleeves of his houpelande flop back where he holds an ice pack to the break as he waits for Doctor Keller to return with whatever it is Terrans need to fix an injury of this sort. Both of his knuckles are bruised and bloodied, and from the way he's holding the left Iohannes wouldn't be surprised if he's managed to break something there as well. Nelson had gotten in a couple of good punches before having his lights knocked out, that much is obvious, as is the fact that he doesn't have the first clue how to hit someone. Again, tenacious. Stupid too.
Doctor Zachary Richards, who's only managed to break a wrist in the process of getting two black eyes and a busted lip, lowers the rag he's holding to his lip long enough to say, "They deserved it, Sheppard."
"I'm sure they did," Iohannes agrees. "But that doesn't mean you should give it to them."
"It does if you'd heard the kind of things they were saying."
"Enlighten me, Doctor Richards."
Eyes going wide, "No, Sir. No way," he says, shaking his head harder than is probably advisable for someone with the number of cuts and bruises on his face. One of the ones on his cheek opens itself at the movement, sending a steady stream of blood down his neck, staining his collar a dark, brilliant red. Richards doesn't appear to notice.
"I see. What about you, Doctor Nelson? You feel like sharing with the class?"
Despite his broken jaw, Nelson actually manages a halfway intelligible, "Uh huh," before hurrying to replace his icepack, glowering at it out of the corner of his eye as if it were responsible for his current condition and not some Marine's fist.
Iohannes shakes his head. "Don't make me regret this, you two," he orders, reaching towards their injuries with both hands and calling upon his healing powers.
With the coronation party still going strong on the far side of the city, the energy replenishes itself faster than he can expend it. He sends as much of it as he dares into Richards and Nelson, not only healing their injuries, but also lowering their blood alcohol level back to zero and clearing out the excess plaque in their veins. In the latter, Iohannes finds the start of an epithelioma basocellulare and purges the damaged cells from his body much as he'd done with Dahlia Radhim's leuchaemia. In the former, he does what he can to lower the hypertension he finds, although there is admittedly very little he can do that will have lasting effect. Only when he's healed all he can without delving into their genes that he pulls back.
But there's still too much power coursing through his veins – too much faith screaming at him to take and hold and seize as much of it as he can for as long as he can, until there's no one left in the universe with capability to hurt the ones he loves.
It's not a new problem. Faith is power. Those who would call him god have been unwittingly strengthening him since the moment he Ascended. And while the faith of one is admittedly small, no more than a thimbleful compared to the innate power of an Ascended being, the faith of millions is a different story entirely.
And it is now truly the faith of millions: Two hundred thirteen planets in the Pegasus galaxy are now signatories to the Charter of the Confederation with another two-dozen in high-level talks to join. The number that considers him a god is almost four times as large. That's ten percent of the inhabited galaxy. It's not even been a year since he admitted to little Raichael Pero – now called Sancta Rachel on certain worlds – that he was one of their Ancestors. On some days, Iohannes can scarcely imagine what it will be like when all of Pegasus calls out his name in their prayers. It is so easy to see how so many fell to the first Haeresis.
It would be so easy to fall.
It wouldn't even be a fall. All he would have to do is take that last step and fly and fly and fly.
Richards looks at him, no longer swollen eyes full of awe. They're wide, as if he'd forgotten the healing portion of Iohannes' Ascended abilities or, maybe, never having thought he'd rank high enough to benefit from them, and such a dark brown they're more easily called black.
A tendril of faith reaches out to him from the young botanist, so impossibly young looking at that moment, though there are others younger by far in the city tonight.
Iohannes pulls back his hands as if scalded.
That's not supposed to happen. The Terrans are supposed to know better. All of them. Even the botanists.
Doctor Nelson just lowers his icepack and tests his newly healed jaw. "Thank God."
"Forget the thanks. Frankly, I'd prefer the story of how you broke it."
"Not much to tell, Sheppard. They said some things they shouldn't have and I lost my temper, and Zach here tried to help me out."
"What kinds of things?"
"Nothing much at first. We left the party before they did, but were moving kind of slow cause I had a little too much of Doctor Zelenka's moonshine – thanks for saving me from the hangover, by the way; I was not looking forward to that – so they caught up with us before too long. We overheard Corporal Howell say something about the coronation your morning and how, if it was so fancy, what's your wedding going to be like? You know, that kind of stuff.
"But then Sergeant Carr wondered which of you is going to take the woman's part, which led to Sergeant Herrera trying to figure out who takes the woman's part elsewhere, if you know what I mean. Sir," he tacks on ungracefully, checks stained red beneath the flecks of dried blood that still remain.
Iohannes raises an eyebrow. Ascended or not, Terran prejudices about sexuality are something he's resigned himself to never understanding. "If you started an intergalactic incident over something Zelenka has a betting pool over, I'm going to be very disappointed in the both of you."
"Yessir. I mean, no, Sheppard. It wasn't that. Not just that. It's what they said after. About how you, er, must be a really good lay if you could convince Major Lorne to give up the uniform."
His eyebrow climbs higher. "Well, that's moderately original at least. Still not a reason to cause an intergalactic incident, though."
Richards shakes his head, speaking up at last. The whisper of his faith is still there, but it's quiet, lurking in the shadows, flaring at the most unexpected of times. It's the worst kind of faith, if only because it allows Iohannes to forget what they really think of him until the moments where it's impossible to ignore. "It wasn't that either. I mean, it was bad, but the Marines say things like that all the time trying to get a rise out of those of us who came here on Aurora; some of the civilians too. Disgusting as it is, we've kind of learned to ignore it. Gunny must have thought so, 'cause he lit into the sergeants for suggesting it."
"Mighty nice of him."
"Yeah," Nelson snorts, "until he said that whatever hold you have over the Major is some kind of black magic. Said that they were idiots to believe you are who you say you are, that you're just a wolf in sheep's clothing, and the day will come when we'd all see you are worse than the Ori."
A breath Iohannes does not need lodges itself in his throat, congealing into an unpalatable and impassable tumescence that straightens his shoulders and curls his hands into fists where they rest on the metal back of his chair. The coldest of furies rouses in his stomach, leeching into his heart and sending terrible tides of ice water through his veins. He's given up everything for this galaxy. He's Ascended twice because of them. He's allowed them to crown him imperator, to call him God. He's crossed every line he's ever made himself for their sakes, to protect them, to save them from the Wraith and the Asurans and the Haeretici and every other nightmare his people had left behind. He's given every broken inch of himself fighting their wars and playing their politics and trying to keep them alive. He spent ten thousand years and more in the dark and the silence, never having anything for himself until he reached out and took it.
He hadn't hated his life Before, but he'd kill to keep the one he has now – he has killed for it – and nothing some snotty-nosed Terran Marines, who may have spent their entire adult lives waging their planet's wars but know absolutely nothing about fighting when there's nothing less than the survival of themselves and everyone they hold dear on the line can do to jeopardize that. But still his muscles tauten and blood rushes like liquid helium through his veins. Iohannes thinks that if the gunnery sergeant in question had been in the room at right then, his actions would have been utterly beyond his control. No body, just constituent atoms released from their bonds too quickly to settle down into a nice pile of ash.
But the gunny isn't there. He's across the ward with his comrades, weaving some excuse to Argathelianus and Major Teldy about how the big bad botanists tried to jump them, or something.
"I see," Iohannes says at last, though no more than seconds can have passed. His voice sounds remarkably normal, even to his own ears. "In that case, I guess I should be having this talk with the Marines. And, in the meantime, you two should get some sleep, 'cause you'll be reporting to Ronon first thing in the morning for hand-to-hand training. Unless," he adds archly, stalling their protestations, "you'd like to make it for every morning for a month."
"Yes sir," Richards agrees glumly.
Iohannes pushes himself out of the chair and sends it, slowly spinning, back to its corner. It looks like he has a gunnery sergeant to talk to.