Characters: Ancient!John Sheppard,
Summary: Iohannes spent ten thousand years in cathedra.
Series: drabble #7 of ??? in the Ancient!John 'verse. Part of Locality.
Notes: Another fic I didn't intend to write. Be warned, it made me tear up while writing it.
Note Bene: In chronological order, this is the seventh drabble.
Once Again and Innumerable Times More
An Ancient!John drabble
"What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine?"
He's lying when he says he doesn't remember. Iohannes spent ten thousand years - the better part of his life - in the cathedra. Every thought and datum and melody and error report and motif and system failure and change in pitch and implacable scream into the empty night is etched into his memory with the unchanging permanence that only the most terrifying things can ever manage.
But the mind is a resilient thing, especially the Alteran mind. It can bury even the most horrific memories so deep that even it can become blind to the secrets it hides - particularly when doing so is the only way to maintain a grasp, however slight, on sanity.
But nothing can stay hidden forever.
On those nights when the memories of those dark, unending nights slip in wisps and whispers into his dreams, Iohannes wakes drenched in cold sweat, silently screaming words that no other living soul knows the meaning of. And though he can wash away the evidence, and though he can wander Atlantis' halls until he's convinced himself it is nothing but a dream, the vague sense of terror always remains. Iohannes might not always recognize it as such or even note it's presence, but it's always there, the leitmotif of his life in this future he's found himself awakened into.
(Sometimes, though, he'll get a flash of it while he's wide awake: of darkness so complete he cannot remember the light, of cold so absolute his skin burns where exposed; of emptiness so thorough that he'd do anything never to be alone again, even if just talking to other people can hurt sometimes after so long in the silence. In those moments, it's all he can do to fake a smile, to breathe, to continue on like nothing's happening. And it's those moments Iohannes cannot forget.)