Warnings: post-"Alii" Ancient!John 'verse; set during "Vegas" in the AJ version of that episode...
Summary: Vegas!verse meets Ancient!John. Kinda
Notes: Because 1) I've always wanted to see what happened when Vegas!Rodney met our John Sheppard and 2) I wanted an AJ 'version of this episode for, like, ever, and for that reason made Vegas!Rodney, not Rod, the alternate McKay who came over in "Alii"... just for this.
An Ancient!John "Vegas" Story
"You... You know everything," Iohannes manages at great length, finding it hard to string even those three words together. His translation matrix must be acting up again: his nanoids have been wearing out more quickly of late and Terran technology still has yet to reach a point that would allow him to repair them.
"It was a hard choice," Doctor McKay sympathises. Iohannes hates him for it. He doesn't want anything from this man, this man who's been to Atlantis without him. This man who claims to be 'custodia' and have knowledge of his city that no Terran could possibly have. "Certainly you didn't intend things to go as badly as they did. Things just don't always go the way we plan."
His nails dig into his palms. "You don't... You can't..." Who is this man to talk to him about the Wraith War? The Siege? About the Exodus and the ten thousand terrible years he spent in 'cathedra' before the 'potentiae' finally failed and 'Lantis used her last breath to send him across the universe to Terra to track down the others who never returned, only to find a world so primitive that there was no hope of finding help for the 'urbs-navis', let alone ever returning home.
Iohannes has spent two hundred and fifty-seven years on Terra. He's wandered all of it's lands and sailed each of it's seas. He's found nothing but the most basic of technology and the basest of people. He has seen war (so many wars) and sickness and death, but for some reason he does not age and, though he's come close to it more times than he can recount, he cannot die. His only hope has been to return to Atlantis before the end finally comes, and now here is this man, telling him that he's been to Pegasus - that he's been living on Atlantis for 'years' - and that all his suffering has been for naught.
He wishes they'd not taken his Colt.
He starts looking for a door.
Despite himself, Iohannes pauses his search and turns back towards Doctor McKay. "What?"
"I know you'll probably think this sounds ridiculous, even for one with your rather... unique background, but a little while ago my team encountered a rift in space/time. On the other side was an alternate version of reality. It was very similar to ours in many ways. I met a team much like the one I work with, only 'you' were the leader. You were a hero, had saved the world several times over."
"Doesn't sound much like me," he says with a bitter smile. 'Lantis is dead because of him, whatever this man says. Because of him, Tirianus is in pieces beneath the ocean and 'Tethys' is nothing more than debris floating in the Palamede - and that's not counting the Terran battles, the Terran wars.
"I don't think there's much difference between you and that other John Sheppard I met. It's amazing how one incident can entirely alter the course of your life. Of so many lives."
"And just what 'incident' might that be?"
"As near as I can tell? The ZedPMs. In this universe, they ran out of juice before we found Atlantis, but in at least one other they lasted long enough for us to find you in stasis."
He sucks in a sharp breath. So maybe this man does know everything. It doesn't change anything. "What do you want from me?"
"Besides an answer for what a ten thousand year old Ancient is doing working in the Las Vegas Police Department?"
"Right now? Trying to figure out how a Wraith wound up in the middle of the Mojave Desert."
"A hive ship attacked Earth three months ago. We were able to defeat it with a weapon we found beneath a mile of ice in the Antarctic-"
Entirely against his will, Iohannes' eyebrows shoot up. "You found the 'cathedra'?" He remembers the state he'd found the outpost in when the 'porta' had deposited him there. Buried beneath so much ice and snow, it had taken him three days to climb his way to the surface after he'd finally determined the outpost to be as dead as Atlantis had become. To the best of his knowledge, the Terrans haven't been doing the kind of research that might uncover it. But, then again, to the best of his knowledge, he'd thought the Terrans were still woefully uninformed about wormhole travel between galaxies, so he supposes it might be possible.
"If you mean the Control Chair, then yes. A few of us have the right genetic code to make it work."
Iohannes' hands, which had loosened, clench again. It's utterly stupid, but the idea of someone else - one of these Terrans, who can't even possibly begin to appreciate just how amazing the technology really is - sitting in one of his 'cathedrae' makes him jealous beyond all belief. He doesn't care if they saved Terra, which he actually likes now that the inhabitants have figured out indoor plumbing and broadcast television, he is 'pastor'. He belongs in 'cathedra', not some Terran who can't possibly have a clue what he's doing. As is obvious by the way at least one dart must have escaped.
"So, what? You came looking for the Wraith you let get away, found me in the process, and decided to have this little chat with me out of the goodness of your heart?"
Doctor McKay taps the edge of his file folder against the desk. "Not exactly..." For the first time since since walking into the room, the other man looks uncertain, nervous even. "I know everything about you - everything that you did in Atlantis, everything that's happened since you were commissioned in the United States Air Force in '84:
"I know what happened at Tirianus and the Palamede. I know that you gave up everything to stay behind and protect Atlantis for as long as you possibly could. I know that the only thing you own is a car. You have two thousand, three hundred and sixty-three dollars in the bank and are thirteen thousand dollars in debt, not counting off-the-books gambling losses to a guy named Mikey. I know that you passed your detective's exam with the highest scores the LVPD has ever seen, but have been scraping by with progressively poorer and poorer performance reviews ever since.
"But, most importantly, I know you have the same strength of character as that other John Sheppard I met. You belong on Atlantis and, if you're willing, I can bring you back there. If you help us."
Iohannes turns back towards the door. As much as he wants - needs - to go home, he doesn't think he can bear going back to a dead city. He lost the right to call Atlantis home long ago, when he abandoned her like all the rest. It doesn't matter that she was dying, that she was dead. He should have died with her there instead of attempting to find help on Terra. The only thing he has to look forward to if he returns is the final straw that will likely push him to seeing if he can't end this farcical existence once and for all.
His hand slips off the door handle. He's not heard that name in years.
McKay walks around the table and tucks a business card into Iohannes' jacket pocket. "Please. Think about it. You know where to find us."