Warnings: right before part 4 of "Ascensiones" in the AJ 'Verse;
Summary: A missing moment, of sorts
Notes: Writing is hard. My story-arc for this one isn't going as planed. Writing is hard.
“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?''
That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
19 March, 2007 / IXX Mai. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
It was so easy to be brave, Before. The only thing he had to lose back then had been his life and what was that compared to the chance that Atlantis would be able to stand for a day – an hour – a minute more? She had done so much for him, though she would deny it all in all but her most petulant moments. His life was so little compared to everything she was, everything she would be. The consequences of her Fall would be beyond imagining, while his own death would have been such a little thing in the balance.
He would still die for Atlantis. He would still give up his life for any member of the Expedition, old or new, if that would insure their safety. That hasn't changed.
What has changed is the fact that he cannot die. He can never die, not until the others release him from his punishment. Until then he has no choice but to carry on, watching helplessly as everyone he loves dies, again and again and again, until the only thing he knows is death and loss and pain.
And he has so much to lose now: His city. His worshipers. His son. His crown.
Losing Rodney terrifies him most of all. Rodney has been at the heart of every decision he was made since the moment his amator found him in the cathedra so long ago. Who he is, what he is, what he's willing to do – there is no aspect of his new life that Rodney has not had a part in. Iohannes isn't sure he wants to know what he'll become without him.
Oh, he'll survive Rodney's death. He somehow managed to survive the extinction of his race. He's sure he can do it again, if he has to. Survival is his best – and maybe only – skill. But he cannot speak as to the kind of man he'll be at the end of it. Even the mere idea of Rodney dying fills him with a white-hot anger that he doesn't care to examine too closely, for fear of what he'll find. The actuality only promises to be worse.
It's this fear that has him flickering to Rodney's side before the words medical emergency are fully spoken, without thought of the consequences.
It's this fear that has him falling to his knees beside his amator's sprawled body, hands aglow, without taking note of the scene around him.
It's this fear that turns his blood to ice when Rodney protests weakly, "No, stop," when Iohannes' hand touches his shoulder and attempts to shrug him off.
"Rodney," he entreats, removing his hand – and his healing power – with great reluctance. "It's me. It's Iohannes – it's John," he corrects hastily, not willing to trust Rodney's life to his reasoning abilities when he's four-fifths of the way to unconsciousness on the floor. "I just wanna help you, okay? Let me help you, please."
It is a minor lifetime before Rodney manages to breathe, "John?" eyelids fluttering but far from opening.
"Yeah, buddy. I'm here."
Not trusting his voice, Iohannes takes that as leave to do what he can to fix whatever it is that has Rodney all but passed out on the floor, not a hundred yards from where the party celebrating the coronation he neither wanted or required is still raging. Although he is expecting to find something catastrophic – poison, perhaps, or inflammation of some critical organ, or even an allergic reaction, – what he finds is a great deal of alcohol and a few bruises. Both of which are worrisome, yes, but neither constitute a medical emergency by any means. As relieved as Iohannes is, it doesn't make any sense.
"What happened?" Rodney asks tiredly moment later. He takes a long moment to decide that, yes, he wants to take the weight off the arm trapped beneath him and roll onto his back.
"I dunno. I was hoping you'd tell me."
"I'm not- It's all kind of a blur, really," he says, struggling to sit up. "I was, er, talking with Allina and then…" He makes a vague motion with the hand he's not using to push himself up with, which Iohannes then grabs and uses to haul Rodney to his feet.
Which is, naturally, when Carson and his team of scarily competent nurses come pouring out of the vectura, half-a-dozen medical bags and a back brace between them. After the most cursory of looks, they turn their attentions to the other person in the hall, the one Iohannes has somehow managed to miss in his panic to get to Rodney, despite the blood flowing freely the back of her head. The plaster is cracked above her, dented with an impression of her body that goes almost all the way down to the superconductive lining deep inside. Yet more blood stains the wall, slowly dripping to the floor, and when the medics take her away, he sees hairline fractures in the flooring beneath the puddle that had formed underneath her.
This isn't how it was supposed to go at all.