Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, Allina, sentient!Atlantis
Warnings: #32 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2, 2.5, 3.1); "The Tao of Rodney," thru SG1 s10e14 "The Shroud," SGU s1e01 "Air"; homophobia, non-con
Summary: Things Fall Apart
Notes: I have been working on the last page of this for weeks. The rest has been finished for ages. I decided that once I finally finished it, I had to post it or else delete it forever and abandon everything. So, as this has the scene that was the whole POINT of writing this story.... Please be merciful.
An Ancient!John Story
19 March, 2007 / IXX Mai. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
The tiles are bitter cold against his knees, even through the heavy fustian of his robes. The sleeves keep getting in the way, sliding down Rodney's forearms every time he leans forward, but he'd been too much of a hurry to deal with the get-up's thousand-and-one buttons when this began and now he can't find the strength to move away long enough to rid himself of it. Even the thought of pulling away proves to be too much and with an unintelligible moan Rodney bows once more to the porcelain throne.
When he finally leans back, it's only far enough to rest his forehead on the rim. It, at least, is pleasantly cool against his brow, which gives him something to think about other than the thing that's finally finished dying in his mouth.
/Do you intend to die in this washroom,/ the city asks wryly, /or should we send for medical assistance?/
Rodney groans and, feeling there's no danger of him throwing up again as there's no way on Earth – or Lantea – that there's anything left in his stomach after the last four times, collapses on the floor. The toilet offers an uninspiring vision in the foreground, but the position at least allows him to glare at the ceiling with only the smallest of efforts. "I totally understand all those times John called you a bitch now."
'Lantis, being 'Lantis, raises the lights in the room to twice their normal brightness before dropping them back to a merciful ten percent in retaliation. /The universe is the one at fault,/ 'Lantis corrects. /We are just the poor, unfortunate urbs-navis who'd rather we didn't have to wash blood out of our grout again, yours in particular./
"Not bleeding," Rodney corrects, stomach rolling.
/We are not all that fond of any bodily fluids being where they were not intended./
"I'll remember that in case my stomach manages to find something else it wants to get rid of." He doesn't think it's likely, but the organ has been surprising him today with the things it's managed to dredge up out of the dark recesses of his digestive track. Last week's lunch, for instance, and what he's fairly certain was the remains of his high school's infamous Meatloaf Surprise, where the only surprise, as far as Rodney had been able to ascertain, was that anyone had thought to call it meatloaf.
/Thank you,/ the city says primly.
Her song shifts, becoming light-hearted, playful even. If she were human, he imagines she'd be shaking her head at him and trying not to smile. But she is not human; her winsome affections take shape in dimmed lights and quieted air recycling units, but the meaning is the same. He's only been pastor for a week, but he's suspected as much since the moment he first heard her song in his head so many years ago. /Do you still require medical assistance?/
What Rodney needs is his own bed, a handful of Aspirin, and his body weight in water. He's had more to drink tonight than he can honestly remember, but it had started with ruus wine at the dinner celebrating John's coronation, moved briefly to champagne while supplies held out at the party afterwards, and settled on a nameless cocktail that was one part pineapple juice and two parts arrack. He'd not intended to drink that much, but, god, people are stupid sometimes. While they hadn't gotten any less stupid, Rodney had been less inclined to care with each passing drink, until finally he was drunk enough that he could deal with the overenthusiastic well-wishers, would-be hangers-on, and political opportunists that had flocked to his side when they'd been unable to find John's.
What he needs is never to hear the phrases The God's Consort or The Ancestor's Intended appended to his name ever again. Not because they aren't true enough, but because everyone who'd spoken them tonight had made it out to be all that he was. Like he wasn't rector of Atlantis in his own right, like his greatest accomplishment was not the ATLAS Device or the Intergalactic Gate Bridge or the pair of devices of his own devising shoved into his brain that allowed him to talk to Atlantis, but the fact that he'd been able to get John into his bed. Which had made him drink still more.
What he needs is for people to remember that the Wraith are the enemy, not the worlds that want the Confederation to take a different path than they do. Allina Huskis' association of religiously motivated corporatists, the Moralists, wants little better than to shape the galaxy to their vision of the Ancestral religion. Dozens of worlds have flocked to her banner, her pseudoscientific excuses giving way to scripture as her powerbase grows. Dozens of others have banded together to oppose them under the leadership of one of the Athosians, spouting many of the same thoughts but replacing much of the god rhetoric with socialist economic theory of much the same bent. John calls them the Mutualists, though their politics are even more proto than Allina's. Even the ones not belonging to either party have their own agendas and none of them stop at getting rid of the Wraith. And all of them want him to carry their words to John, who cannot be bothered to stay for longer than twenty minutes at a party in his own honour.
"I think I'll be fine if I can make it to the transporter," he says at last. From there, it's a straight shot to his suite, his bed, and – if necessary – his bathroom.
/The vectura is at the end of the hall./
"I think I can manage it this time without any more detours." His stomach protests but is ultimately quiescent as he eases to his feet.
/Perhaps you should wait. Let us send for Iohannes,/ the city suggests, air recyclers clattering concernedly, /or Argathelianus./
"I'm a big boy, 'Lantis. I don't need someone to tuck me in."
/That is not what… we… mean…/ The city begins only to trail off as he leaves the washroom, faltering as Rodney discovers the cause of her hesitation: one of John's sycophants, standing just outside the washroom door as if she'd been waiting for him. Which she most certainly has.
Awkwardly, "Oh. Hello Allina. I didn't, er, see you there," he greets the Daganian Minster for Enterprise and Innovation, moving out of the doorway just enough so as not to get caught in the doors – which 'Lantis promptly shuts behind him, as if afraid he'll duck back inside if she leaves them open. Damnable city. Barely a week in his head and she already knows him too well.
She smiles at him in a way that is, if not honest, is at least warm. "That would be my own fault, I fear. Much of my early training in The Brotherhood involved learning to move unseen, the better to guard our secrets from the unlearned. I have never quite been able to shake myself of the habit."
"That's… nice. I'm just gonna go ahead and…" He waves a vague hand towards the end of the hall and the transporter that waits – with open doors – for him.
"Oh, no. Please don't go."
"Yeah… Now's not a really good time to talk? Maybe tomorrow? Or maybe you should just talk to John about it. Whatever it is. I really don't have a lot to do with the running of the Confederation. I really can't help you with, well, whatever it is you want."
"You are an intelligent man, Doctor McKay. Perhaps the most astute I have ever known. I am sure that we can find a way to help each other."
"Strangely enough, I don't really need any help right now," he informs the Minister, edging unsteadily towards the transporter, "but maybe some other time."
Allina reaches out, more quickly than his alcohol-addled brain can quite process, and grabs his wrist. Her hold is solid. He cannot break it and trying only worsens the dig of her nails into his flesh. He already knows the bruise will be terrible come a reasonable hour of the morning.
"Do not go, Doctor," she begs fervently. "There is so much we can do for one another and our common cause."
"Our cause?" he asks stupidly, unable to tear his eyes from where they grip his arm. Her skin is dark from the sun, her gown just the right shade of pale green to make her rather comely features seem impressive beyond measure. There are dozens of women still at the party more attractive than she, but she is the one pulling him near and, were he not with John, perhaps that would be enough for him to go along with whatever she wants to happen next.
But he is with John. They'll be married in two months and, even if they weren't, it's hard to want to be with anyone else when Rodney already has everything he's ever wanted.
"If the Wraith could be defeated with mere weapons, they would have been overcome long ago."
"I think you're seriously overestimating your weapons," he wants to say. What comes out is, "Let go of my arm," his voice sounding faint and far away through the rush of blood in his ears.
If Allina hears, she pays it no mind; such is the ardency of her beliefs. "The Ancestors are mighty, but we are not. They only wait for the day we are strong enough to stand beside them to begin the final battle against the darkness. The Lord Iohannes has taken us down the first step towards the War of Wars, but there is a long way yet to go. Only by ensuring our children have enough strength of blood and bone, muscle and sinew, mind and morals to continue the battle will the war be won."
Rodney thinks of the university John has endowed and the classes set to begin there next week, its opening delayed only by the need to screen applicants – a task Rodney had gleefully passed off to Zelenka. He thinks about the Argosy Ronon has been training on Genia since the Second Exodus and the first graduates thereof, who'd marched in the Coronation. Both are but the latest examples of everything John's done for this galaxy.
But what he says is, "Let go of me."
"I have no wish to harm you, but you must understand, the very fate of the galaxy is at stake. I only press the matter because you are the Lord's consort. He will listen to your council."
At length she does, but she's still too close. His head is reeling and his stomach rolling and all he wants is to be in his own bed, but he'll settle for Allina taking a step or two outside of his personal bubble. She's still close enough that he can smell her perfume over the lingering stench of alcohol and sick clinging to his clothes. All his drinking has left Rodney flushed, but the warmth of her body still threatens to seep through the front of his robes. Blood continues to thunder in his ears, deafening his already dimmed thoughts. If he were sober, he might have asked 'Lantis to send for John or Lorne after all. But he's far from it and says instead, "Thank you," drunkenly full of offended dignity and low on common sense.
Maybe she is as well. Maybe she only sees an opportunity to press her advantage. Either way, Allina only moves closer and places the hand that had captured his wrist on his chest, directly over his heart. "You are an exceptional man, Doctor McKay. I have heard it said that you are the smartest man in two galaxies, if not more. You must know the truth of my words. I do not expect your affection. You cannot give me that, I know. But I know that once you felt some tenderness for me, and that may be enough."
"Enough for what?" he somehow manages to ask, though his head is spinning.
Allina is a politician, the Master Handler of the Sudarian Quindosim. She'd used him and his team to find her precious potentia and taken it from them at gunpoint when she'd learned that none of them were her beloved Ancestors – or, at least, admitting to such at the time. Even now that she knows what John really is, she hasn't handed over the ZedPM, although the whole purpose of her order was to present it to her gods upon their return. She uses people, abandons them, and calls it divine will. Her latest cause célèbre has something to do with population bottlenecks and inbreeding depression and the end of days, but Rodney doesn't know what she expects him to do it at 0130 in the morning, half-drunk drunk and unable to even pretend to care.
"For you to give me a child," she says, as if it were the only obvious conclusion. Perhaps, for her, it is, but Rodney's mind quickly replays all of the interaction he's ever had with the woman, little as it is, and comes up significantly wanting. "Even a single child of your bloodline would be a great boon to this galaxy. The chance to bear that child is all I ask."
But those are only words, and for all Allina says them, Rodney can't quite parse their meaning until her hand starts sliding down his chest, towards his belt It's only then that he realizes what's happening, what she wants, and then the bile rises in his throat once more. He'd give anything to stop this, to make her back off, to make her just go away, but he's drunk and starting to panic and forming a thought much more complicated than stop just isn't happening.
Rodney thinks he's going to be sick. This isn't happening. This can't be happening. There is no earthly reason why this might be happening to him. Things like this just don't happen to people like him, no matter how drunk they might be. He's engaged. He's on Atlantis. He's got a pair of devices shoved in his head so he can talk to Atlantis. He-
-thinks he's going to be sick, if his head doesn't explode first.
And then, like magic, Allina flies backwards, away from his belt and all the things he couldn't want less, and crashes into the wall two-and-a-half yards behind. The plaster cracks under her weight. A trickle of blood follows her body to the floor.