Words: 2,300 (of 5,000)
Warnings/Spoliers: part 2 of #20 in the Ancient!John 'verse (see part 1); set during "Misbegotten;
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: In which John fails to sleep but kinda succeeds in meditating.
Notes: This chappie was plagued by word processing problems, so if any formating issues are to be found, they're the ones I missed on the cleanup. It's also almost nothing liked I'd originally planned, but I think Iike how it turned out a whole fraking lot better. Though the remainders of the old version might become another drabble. Or their own fic. After all, Woolsey must make an appearance sometime.
Other news, manuballista means crossbow, but has been retconned to mean Personal Defence Weapon/ Attack Riffle in this verse. There's at least one reference to another Millenium Prize Problem an The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy in this. Cookies to you if you find it. And Cookies to popkin16 for putting up with all my whinning during this one. If there's anything else, let me know and I'll try to answer it for you.
An Ancient!John Story
Iohannes stands uncomfortably in the middle of his amator's quarters, hands resting awkwardly on his hips. He feels artless and graceless and out of place, like an elephant in a bookshop.
"God, don't just stand there," Rodney tells him, coming out of the en suite with a towel knotted loosely around his hips. "These are practically your quarters too. So sit down or something. Make yourself at home - or, at the very least, try not to make this more weird than it already is."
"Sorry," he says before perching stiffly on the edge of Rodney's desk. He's not sure his attempt goes well - he thinks some some of his essence slinks away, becoming one with the desk rather than just brushing against it, - but it goes well enough.
Now running the towel through his hair, Rodney turns and frowns at him. "For what?"
"I dunno. Everything, I guess."
Rodney snorts, turning back to his bureau and riffling through one of the drawers. "Get back to me when you have something more specific than everything."
Iohannes gives him a small, sad smile. "If you want specifics, I might end up never leaving."
"I'm okay with that."
"And what about the whole non-corporeal thing? You okay with that?"
"We'll figure something out," Rodney promises, padding back into the main room in a pair of boxer shorts. Periodic Table boxer shorts. They're missing the last seventeen elements, like all Terran Periodic Tables do, but Iohannes doesn't have the heart to tell him. He never does.
"That's what Teyla said."
"You've been talking to Teyla about this?"
"Yeah. We're meditation buddies now."
"Not really," Iohannes admits, slumping back against the desk. "I think I fell asleep last time we tried, and that's saying something."
"Can't sleep either, huh?"
Sighing. "Nope. And believe me, I've tried."
"Maybe you've just not tried hard enough."
"No," Rodney says, holding up a hand. He should look ridiculous, waving his arms about in bare feet and boxers, but he doesn't. He just looks like his amator, all wild eyes and barely contained energy, always asking who and what and why why why.
Iohannes wants to cross the room. He wants to cross the room and kiss his amator. He wants to kiss Rodney wetly and messily and then tug him down to the floor, not even wanting to break apart for the ten-and-a-half seconds it takes to get to the bed. He wants to deepen the kiss until Rodney moans and rolls them over, so that Iohannes is on his back and Rodney is making short work of his clothes. He wants the rug burn from the ugly as sin carpet they'd got given for helping sort out the irrigation problem on Saritos six months ago, and the beard burn from the five o'clock shadow it's taken Rodney the better part of a week to scrape together. He wants to feel Rodney inside him and around him.
More than that, though, he wants to go to bed surrounded by the curl of Rodney's body. He wants to wake up next to Rodney early in the morning, trying not to wake him as he slips out for his morning run with Ronon. He wants Rodney to shake him awake in the middle of the night when their comms go off and there's a crisis they need to solve. He wants to argue Star Trek with him while they eat breakfast and P versus NP with him over dinner. He wants to listen to him try to explain the intricacies of various bizarre Terran customs to their team while they hike to the nearest settlement when they're off-world and insult the local chieftains (and their daughters) when they get there. He wants to sit with him in the quiet parts of the city and listen to Atlantis' music, as all custodiae should, and try to talk him into becoming a pastor, as all pastores should.
He wants to grow old with Rodney and die at his side.
He wants to grow old.
"Did I ever thank you," Iohannes asks softly, interrupting the speech Rodney is giving about the scientific method and how maybe trying to sleep next to someone would yield different results than to sleep alone, "for finding me?"
Rodney stops mid-rant, his hands hanging strangely in the air before falling limply to his sides. "What?"
"I didn't, did I?"
"John, what are you talking about?"
"I spent ten thousand years waiting for you," he presses, pushing away from the desk and stopping as close to Rodney as he dares in his current state. "I didn't know I was waiting, but I was... Now that I look back on it, I can see I was just going through the motions before you came along."
Rodney takes a step back - not to move away, but to better look him in the eye when he breathes Iohannes' name.
"But all that changed after you found me," he continues. "You're not just my best friend: you're the thing I've been looking for all these years. The part of me that was missing and I didn't even know it.
"So you really don't have to try so hard to make me stay. I'm not going anywhere if you don't want me to - though I really, really think you should. I mean, I love you, but I don't see anyway this can work with me like this. But if you want me to stay, I'll stay."
Rodney takes another step back and turns towards the bedroom. "Let's go to bed."
Iohannes follows, unable to do anything else.
The thing about being unable to sleep is that it leaves him laying in the dark beside a body he's unable to touch, which makes him feel like more of a creep than he can adequately describe.
After three hours, he slips out of bed with the intention of leaving - of wandering some of Atlantis' less well-used halls until sunrise, or maybe even making his way down the North Pier and looking into how much work would be needed to bring the auxiliary control room back to fighting trim - but something stops him. Iohannes doesn't know what. It's not like he's not done it before, when a few hours is all he could manage before he woke in cold sweat. But...
But it seems cruel to do that to Rodney now. Not after he'd been stolen from their bed and forced to Ascend.
He goes back to the main room instead and tries to figure out what to do until morning. Being intangible, among its other fringe benefits, means that most of his usual activities are no longer options. All he's able to do is contemplate his own Enlightenment - and that stopped being interesting twenty minutes in.
Iohannes tries anyway, for the sake of trying to figure out how to become tangible within the bounds of his parole, but gives up after an hour.
He spends the rest of the predawn hours contemplating his manuballista instead.
"Normally I'd be the first one to admit that you with a gun is one of the hotter things I've had the privilege to see in my life," Rodney says an indeterminable amount of time later, startling him from his reverie, "but this is just a little too much confirmation of your self-destructive tendencies for me to process without coffee."
Iohannes tears his gaze away from the manuballista. He's surprised to see sunlight pouring through the windows and his amator fully dressed in the archway.
"Huh?" he asks intelligently as his thought processes try to catch up on what he's seeing.
Rodney rolls his eyes. "Look, I know you're not actually suicidal, but you look about two seconds away from eating your gun and it's making me more than a little uncomfortable."
"Eat my..." he repeats dimly before he sorts through the idiom. "What? No. I was thinking."
"And this thinking involved a gun why?"
"Just look at it, Rodney."
"I am, for all the good it's doing. What's so special about it? It looks like your typical, run-of-the-mil Ancient energy weapon."
"This gun doesn't exist."
Frowning, "What do you mean this gun doesn't exist? It looks real enough to me."
"It was in my holster when I came back from the higher planes. It's nothing but a manifestation of my essence - a little bit of me making itself look gun-shaped for whatever reason. And yet..." Iohannes cocks the manuballista at an empty coffee mug perched on the desk on the other side of the room and fires. The cup explodes into a thousand tiny shards.
"What the hell!"
"Don't you get it?"
"That you've decided to escalate your dislike of coffee to acts of wanton destruction against it?"
"Rodney," he says fervently as he climbs to his feet, "this gun does not exist. It should not be able to act like a gun, and yet it does. And when I do this," he tosses it onto the couch, "it continues to exist for almost a minute before reappearing in my holster. Y'know what that means?"
"It means," Iohannes says, "that I can become corporeal again."
"So explain this to me again," Rodney says, tailing Iohannes to his office. It's as good a place to meditate as anywhere, with the upshot that no one will ever think to check for him there if they come looking. "How does a gun help you Descend?"
"I told you, I can't Descend. As in physically cannot. Believe me, I've tried. No, this is more... Y'know how light behaves has both particles and waves?"
This earns him a mildly curious, mostly disgusted glare. "Of course."
"Well, it's like I said, right? This gun is not actually a gun. It's gun-shaped energy. But it still acts like a gun."
"I noticed," Rodney says blandly. "You owe me a new coffee cup by the way."
"You have like twenty-three."
"You can never have too many coffee cups."
"Yes, you can. There is a coffee cup event horizon beyond which only chaos and social collapse ensues, and you passed it like ten coffee cups ago."
"As a man who only drinks tea, I don't think you should have a say in determining the so-called coffee cup event horizon."
"Hey," Iohannes says, holding up his hands placatingly as they walk down the last hall, "if you can track down more than twelve of your coffee cups at a time, I will drop the subject entirely."
"We'll have to change the bet, though," Iohannes muses as the door to his office sides open. "I think I'm on the right track, but I doubt that I'll be tangible enough for it by the end of the week."
Rodney rolls his eyes, pausing in the doorway. There's a staff meeting in twenty minutes he needs to get to - that they both need to get to, but Woolsey is bound to be there and Iohannes is boycotting the IOA's dog and pony show on principle. "I still don't understand how you're planning on doing it." If Woolsey wants to talk to him, he'll have to find him, and good luck with that. Nobody knows Atlantis like Iohannes does.
"Look, when I Ascended, all my mass got converted to energy, right?"
"Trust me on this: I'm just an Alteran-shaped ball of electromagnetic radiation right now. Which sucks, by the way."
"So what, you think that if you can make gun-shaped energy behave like a gun, you can make you-shaped energy behave like you're supposed to?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"You think it will work?"
"If I can figure out why my gun's behaving and I'm not, then yeah. Sure. No problem. Probably," he hedges, trying his luck as he leans against his desk.
Iohannes is pretty sure he manages to keep most of his essence to himself, but he's pretty sure some of it decides to check out the computer on his desk if the hopeful, booting-up sounds its making are any indication. "Might take me a while, though. I was never any good at this meditation stuff."
Rodney snorts. "Of course not. You know your guns better than you know yourself. Hell, I'm still surprised you managed to Ascend the first time. I mean- John? Are you alright? Your eyes have gone all white and glowy again. Is it the others? Are they trying to call you back?"
"I'm fine," Iohannes says, hearing his voice as if from a great distance. He blinks a couple of times, until Rodney's looking at him a little less worriedly. "I'm beyond fine. In fact, if I'd half the chance of figuring it out in the next ten seconds, I'd be pushing you up against the door and-"
Having gone from pale white to burning red faster than Iohannes would have believed possible, Rodney squawks, "John!" utterly scandalised. "You can't say things like that. Not where people might overhear."
"Please. The only one who ever comes here - besides you - is Lorne and, trust me, he's heard worse."
"That doesn't make it better, you moron."
"It should. But I'll forgive you, 'cause I think you figured it out."
"Figured what out?"
"That I should've paid more attention to biology class."
"And now you're making even less sense than usual."
"Rodney, you said it: I know this gun better than I know myself. I can tell you how it works, and why, and field strip it with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back. But I've got no clue how I work. So maybe if I can figure that out..."
"See. Told you we'd figure something out."
"Nobody likes a show off," Iohannes grumbles halfheartedly, pushing away from the desk. If he's got to meditate, he might as well do it right - so lotus position on the floor it is.
Rodney smiles cheekily at him before turning to go. "You do."
"Yeah. I do," he smiles back, and for the first time in twenty-six days, John feels hopeful.