Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Elizabeth; background John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: this takes place between "Heres" and "Dei et Viri" the Ancient!John 'verse, during the episode "Duet"
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: It's only paranoia - or is it?
Notes: As much as I dislike "Duet" at times, you've got to admit it provides a pleathora of drabble opertunities. Like this one, which I didn't even know I wanted to write until I was rewatching the episode earlier.
This also addresses - somewhat - a question Fiona on AO3 had about why no but Rodney's picked up on about John's "Ancient name." And about some of Elizabeth's more-frequent disagreements with John this "season." More about that will come later. One day, but, for now, this is a bit of it.
An Ancient!John Drabble
"[…] the truth is that no person ever understands another, from beginning to end of life, there is no truth that can be known, only the story we imagine to be true, the story they tell us is true, the story they really believe to be true about themselves; and all of them lies."
Orson Scott Card Children of the Mind
It's at times like this Elizabeth wonders if the Ancients gave their children pets to take care of – mostly because the longer she knows John, the more rescues he seems to bring back to Atlantis.
Granted, the Athosians were Lieutenant Ford's fault, if they can be said to be anyone's, and it was Teyla who'd convinced him to save Orin's people during that recon mission, but it's not like John has ever tried to stop them. Hell, if one wants to get technical about things, she could safely say that, on some level, he sees the entire Expedition as Descendant riff-raff he is doing a favour by letting stay here.
But this... this is new. And, "I'm not sure it's a good idea, John."
She doesn't have to turn around to know he's frowning. Despite all the months the Expedition has been in the city and the weeks John himself spent on Earth, he still occasionally seems to expect her and the rest of her people to act in certain specific ways – as if, in spite of the frankly Herculean effort he's put into trying to appear human, he sometimes forgets that they're members of two similar, but very different, species. Depending on the specifics, these differences seem to amuse, frustrate, and confound him by turns; though those occasions seem to be happening less and less often.
But this is definitely one of them.
"Elizabeta," he tries, insistent. "You've gotta see this guy in action. He's an incredible shot. None of my guys can beat him in a fight. And he's ex-military."
"Not a military on Earth."
"I'm not either – or at least," John points out validly, "I wasn't 'til recently."
She turns around and looks him square in the eye. "You're not just being charitable?"
He meets her gaze evenly. "No, I'm not – and I think he'd make a great addition to my team, especially since," his gaze shifts immediately to the Stargate and refuses to return, "we're short a man now that Ford's dead."
Elizabeth doesn't know who's raked John more over the coals for that: the International Oversite Committee, Stargate Command, or John himself. It was the right thing to do – both their comms had been open, so she'd known when the stunner failed to stop the Lieutenant that John would have no other choice but to use lethal force to keep Ford from threatening the safety of the city, and John would do anything to protect Atlantis – but it's one thing to know something in your head and and another thing entirely to know it in your heart.
And now she's worried that she's trying to replace Ford, who she thinks was like a kid brother to him, with the first mildly-competent alien he's come across.
"We don't know anything about him," she tries to explain.
"You didn't know anything about me and still you asked me to be your military commander."
It's not entirely true – she had had Rodney look up what he could about John while he was off trying to save Colonel Sumner and the Athosians, – but effectively so. And at the time she hadn't seen any other options than to let the man who'd protected Atlantis for so long continue to protect her.
But they'd options now, and she tries to explain this to him.
"He can shoot. He can fight. He knows his way around. What else is there to know?"
"Well, anything would be helpful. He's not very forthcoming." Possibly even less forthcoming than John himself, if that is possible.
Actually, upon reflection, it isn't. She's known John for fifteen months now and doesn't even know what all the parts of his name – is real, Ancient name – mean. Hell, she doesn't even know how or why the Marines started calling him Major John Sheppard in the first place, except that by the second week after they'd found him everyone just was. Same thing with the the way he keeps calling her Elizabeta when he calls absolutely no one else in the city by the Ancient version of his or her name.
Sometimes Elizabeth goes so far as to wonder if he's got some of the gifts that those near-Ascension are supposed to have. Not something like telekinesis or telepathy or the ability to control nature – she does know him well-enough to know that. if he'd those gifts, he'd have used them long ago to defend Atlantis, regardless of the personal consequences, - but something far more subtle. Something that allows him to blend in easier than he ought, that makes people want to agree with him more than they ought...
But then they get into arguments like this, and Elizabeth knows she's being paranoid. It's impossible that someone with the ability to bend her thoughts to his own would ever end up disagreeing with her this much. It just is.
"He's been on the run from the Wraith for the past seven years. What d'you expect? Listen," John continues, more quietly, more intensely, "the guy's got no place else to go. So just talk to him. You owe him that at least."
"Okay," she finds herself agreeing, and it's halfway through her next meeting before the paranoia starts running rampant again.
Did she agree because she'd wanted to agree or because John wanted her to?
If it was John, does he even know he's doing it?
If he does, to what end?
What, as always, isn't he telling them?
Or is it just paranoia, brought about by one to many wrathful IOA meetings and the constant and now-unfamiliar need to justify her every action to Stargate Command and the elected representatives of a world she no longer feels a part of?
Elizabeth doesn't know, and, sometimes, it truly scares her.