Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne/Radek Zelenka, Jinto, Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, Vala Mal Doran, David Telford, Anne Teldy
Warnings: #33 in the Ancient!John 'Verse; everything thru "Sunday," and considers everything thru The Ark of Truth to have happened
Summary: It's the wedding of the millennium, which brings with it its own problems
Notes: The whole point of this one is supposed to be fluff. I really don't think I achieved it in this half, but it was getting long and popkin16 was desperate for reading material, and, well, maybe the fluff will come later.
For various reasons, this bit on Midway and this bit on spaceships may prove helpful. Everything is translated in context, save for the title. Which means spouse.
An Ancient!John Drabble
16 May, 2007 / XXXI Iun. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
"You're overreacting," he promises, giving Radek a quick, distracted smile as he emerges from the bedroom. "Also, have you seen my socks?"
"Borrow mine. And, no, I am not overreacting. I am reacting perfectly reasonably, děkuju mnohokrát."
"No bachelor party planned by Carson Beckett is going to be that wild. He'll probably make everyone go one-for-one with water for each beer you drink and hand you a couple aspirin at the end of the night. And there aren't any in the drawer."
"Check under the couch."
"Why would there be socks under the couch?"
Radek shrugs from his place at the small table he's crammed into the room next to the even smaller kitchenette. The suite can only optimistically be called such – it's more of an on-call room really, part of the same complex that makes up the hangars where Aurora and Thetis live when they're not on missions. Evan calls it cramped. Radek calls it European. They agree to disagree.
Sighing, he grabs a flashlight from the pile of gear atop the coffee table and gets down to eye level with the gap between the sofa and the floor. "I see three pens, an empty magazine, and what must be all of the change that was in your pockets when we left Earth, but no socks."
"Maybe there are some in the laundry bag."
"The one from last week? No," Evan says quickly, ducking back into the bedroom, "don't answer that. I love you, Radek, but your organizational skills are crap."
"My organizational skills are prioritized," he hears Radek correct from the other room. "They keep Atlantis running, our bosses functional, and the floor clear enough that we can find both bed and coffee maker. Everything else is secondary."
"You may have a point there."
"Do not sound so surprised."
"I am: I just found the last two socks we own and they match and everything. It's a minor miracle."
He sits down on the edge of the bed and pulls them on. He's already in the rest of his Guardsman's uniform, having taken extra care to make sure that the lacings on his brigandine are straight, that his dove grey vambraces are unstained. All that remains are the knee length boots, which somehow stopped seeming ridiculous months ago, and now feel almost like armour against the life he had before.
It's best to pretend that life doesn't exist anymore, that he never had a life on Earth, that he really is Icarus' son. Then he doesn't have to think about the fact that the Air Force dropped his name from the rolls, or told his parents he's 'in collusion with the enemy' and emailed him the audio recording of the resulting conversation, or numbered the list of Evan's supposed crimes so high that he's likely to be the first person the US military executes in forty-six years if he ever sets foot on Earth.
Atlantis is his home now. There's little for him left on the world of his birth, but he would have preferred not to burn those bridges. But he supposes he did that the moment he beamed the twenty-three Émigrés aboard Rory and high-tailed it back to the city – an action for which Icarus has given him a single silver star to sit on his shoulder, as blindingly bright as the praetor's insignia at his throat and the embroidery on his shirtsleeves.
"But seriously though," Evan continues, lacing his boots, "McKay is your friend and it's his bachelor party. Go, bring proper booze, have a good time. I promise you it'll be nowhere near as bad as you're imagining and, if it is, you can always sneak into the Colonel's. I can guarantee neither of us would mind."
Voice growing closer until he's leaning the doorway of the bedroom, "It's not so much the bachelor party as it is the guest list," Radek tells him, coffee cup in hand, fond smile belaying his worried tone. "You can't tell me you think inviting half of Earth's première gate team to the wedding isn't a horribly bad idea?"
"Of course I think it's a bad idea. We're five minutes away from a Lantean-Tau'ri war on a good day as it is. We don't need anything – or anyone – else fanning the flames. But he thinks that if he can just get through to the people at the top – General O'Neill and Colonel Carter, even Doctor Jackson – that he'll be able to accomplish something."
Radek hums. "And what do you think?"
"If it can convince them to pull Colonel Telford, then I'm all for it. He's half the problem. I mean, Marines are Marines, but usually they're more reasonable than they've been since the Expedition came back, especially the ones vetted by the SGC. But the man wants a war, or at least to be the one in charge of Atlantis, and there's nothing that we'll ever be able to do to convince him otherwise."
"That would be ideal outcome, yes."
"It's certainly the one I'm hoping for."
"But not the one you're expecting."
"No," he sighs. "Not really." Because there's just as much chance that the Terrans will arrive in the city, take one look at Sheppard, and declare him the next Big Bad they have to fight.
Radek sets his coffee on the dresser and sits beside him on the edge of the bed. Technically, it is Radek's bed. Evan has one of his own aboard Aurora that he usually stays in, even when she's in port. They try not to take this thing between them seriously, neither of them knowing which mission might be their last. But it's hard – so hard, especially like this, when Radek's sitting next to him, his hair still mussed from sleep, and things are so comfortable and easy that it hurts to think that he can't have this forever, because they've promised themselves they'll make no promises.
He loves Radek, he really does, but there are times when he honestly thinks they'd be happier if they'd never gotten together rather than rather having to keep forcing distance between themselves.
"I do not think it will come to war."
"Feeling optimistic today, are we?"
"Ne," Radek says, shaking his head before bumping his shoulder against Evan's. He's hyperaware of the touch, as if they'd not done much more in much further states of undress. Radek makes him feel like a teenager all over again, like everything is new and wondrous and exciting, and it makes him want to end it all because Evan cannot stand the fact that he cannot say I love you without turning it into a parody of itself, couched in jokes and exasperation; that his toothbrush in Radek's bathroom borders on too much commitment even after almost a year of being together. He wants, well, not what Sheppard and McKay have – not yet – but he'd like to start moving in that direction rather than carefully measuring out steps backwards for each forward movement they make.
"No one in charge wants a war. If they thought John was actually dangerous, it that would be another story, but he's not. So they will be content to leave him to sort out the problems of the Pegasus galaxy – the Wraith and Replicators and so on. But until the regime changes, or until John does something to make them seriously consider him a threat, we are good. We are safe."
"I wish I could believe you," Evan says. The touch remains. He leans into it now, wanting it to be more than it is, but even if it could be, there's no time. The Terran delegation is coming in a few hours and then after that it's a whirlwind of activity through the wedding until the thirty-sixth, which will mark the one-year anniversary of Icarus' Ascension. And then, after that, if all goes according to schedule, everything will be in place for Sheppard's big plan.
"You should. I am very smart."
"The Colonel is many things, but carless about the people under his protection is not one of them. He will be going out of his way to show his guests that he is a kind and benevolent ruler, not worth starting a war over at all."
"He is a kind and benevolent ruler," he says with a frown.
Radek gives him a half-smile before pushing himself off the bed. "Then we have nothing to worry about, do we?"
They have a whole hell of a lot to worry about, actually, because Evan-
-has watched Sheppard stand on a hillside of a lifeless world, touch his hands to the earth, and lift a half a million tonnes of iron ore to the surface with the power of his mind alone.
-has seen him take steel ingots hot and glowing from the mills on the other end of the South-West Pier, warping and twisting them with his mind until they have become the skeletons of the new battleships he's building in the hangar – great ships, dozens of times over longer than Daedalus, six times larger than even Aurora; two of them at once, to be filled by the Argosy training on Genia.
-has looked on as he's healed the sick and cured the blind and done a thousand impossible, wonderful, magical things, and there is every chance that SG-1 will only glance at him and not see one man with extraordinary gifts doing everything in his power to help others and see instead another enemy for them to tear down.
"What are you doing here?"
"The Terran delegation arrives in fifteen minutes," Evan tells Colonel Telford with forced cheer as he takes the Gate Room stairs two at a time. He pauses briefly to catch Jinto, racing up the steps the opposite direction, by the collar and say, "No running."
Jinto looks for a second like he's about to say something, most likely about how he's already late (his shift started five minutes ago), but instead he smiles charmingly at him before saying, "Yes, Lord 'Helianus," and continuing up the steps at a slightly slower pace. He sighs, because Sheppard indulges the city's few children terribly, and nothing he says will ever stick unless all the planets and stars align so that it's something that his adoptive father happens to agree with him upon – like arriving to one's shifts on time, if not running in the halls.
"Isn't it a little beneath you to be babysitting, my lord?" Telford sneers.
Around anyone else, the Colonel can usually hold his temper, but when left in Evan's company he cannot seem to help but reverting to the same jackbooted methods of some of his Marines. Radek calls it twisted envy, that Evan should be praetor and heres of such a magnificent city while Telford is nothing more than military commander of the part they let the Second Expedition lease – but, then again, Radek also thinks Jinto has a crush on him, so what does he know?
No, most likely it is plain old resentment that colours Telford's words and nothing more. Telford is a full-bird colonel, whereas Evan was only a major when the Hegira stripped him of his rank and his homeworld. Yet it is to Sheppard – or, in practice, Evan, – Telford must report at the end of each day. Very few people would be happy with that situation, regardless of the posting involved.
"Nah, otherwise I'd have sent Doctor Ahavah to deal with you," Adi Ahavah is a physicist who'd served in the Israeli Defence Forces before getting her degrees, and who is thus the closest thing he has to an executive officer among the Émigrés.
Telford's face colours comically.
Major Teldy steps in strategically at this point. "Gentlemen, if you'd start acting like the fine, upstanding officers I know you can be? Otherwise kindly whip out your measuring sticks somewhere else – preferably somewhere that's a nice, long distance away from my Gate Room."
"Gladly, Major," he agrees. He likes Teldy. She's terrifyingly competent in a way that Evan can't help but admire and takes absolutely no shit from anybody, including her commanding officer.
Luckily, the Gate activates before anyone has time to say much else.
Vala Mal Doran is the first one through, her already bright smile widening when she sees him. "Hello, Handsome," she says, not quite flinging herself at him, but stopping close enough that he knows a hug of some sort is required. Which he gives, gladly, "Not quite the welcoming party I was expecting, but I'll take it. You still taken?"
"Very much so."
"That remains one of the most tragic things I have ever heard. I would weep if it wouldn't ruin my makeup." She pulls back, examining him at arms length as she says, quite seriously, "They claim it's waterproof, but it never really is. Now," her hands fall from his shoulders, "where is Good Looking?"
"Vala, let the man go," Doctor Jackson asks tiredly, coming up from behind, his entrance unnoticed in the chaos that naturally surrounds Vala.
"Not everyone is so adverse to a little human contact as you, Daniel," she replies peevishly. "And, if you'd bothered to pay attention, you'd have noticed I wasn't even touching him anymore."
Sighing, "Fine, yes, where is John anyway? Or Rodney, for that matter?"
"I was just asking that-"
"It's alright. I'm here," Icarus calls, coming through one of the side hallways. He's sans robe and brigandine for once, wearing only a blood red tunic with embroidery at the collar and grease down the front and a pair of dark pants that are stained from the knee down. "Sorry I'm late, there was a problem at the steel mill. There were some impurities in the last lot of ore we didn't pick up on and, well, we lost a whole batch of joists. Luckily we're ahead on production and so it shouldn't-"
Sheppard stops suddenly, the tired grin he'd been sporting all but falling off his face. He looks slowly between the still open Gate, Doctor Jackson, and Colonel Carter (who has only just rematerialized on this side) for a moment before asking the room with quiet deliberation, "Anyone care to explain to me why 'Lantis is telling me that she's picking up radiological signatures coming from Midway?"
Startled, Evan's eyes snap to the ceiling. But before he can so much as ask, the city tells him-
/We do no know what Iohannes is talking about. Our sensors are picking up nothing unusual coming from the navale beyond what seems to be an excessive number of bio-sign readings./
/How excessive?/ he asks while Carter answers-
"It is a precaution, nothing more."
Icarus spreads his arms out wide, showing them to be open, empty, and not a little grease stained. "You'll notice I'm not pointing any weapons in your direction."
"No, but you wouldn't need to, would you?" she says, sounding perfectly reasonable in her concern, as Atlantis informs him-
/Enough for more SG teams than a navale that size could reasonably need. We count in total thirty-seven people aboard./
/Which is sixteen more than Midway was deigned to hold,/ he sighs internally. /What are their files saying about it?/
The pause before she answers is interminable. /That we are dangerous. That we are to be feared./
"We have done nothing to threaten you. We have done nothing to harm you. We've given you every ZPM we could spare, given you knowledge and technology and access to this city when we could have easily refused you all of it after you abandoned us to our fate. And yet you point nuclear warheads through our porta and call it precaution."
"The Asgard are gone," Carter informs them stiffly, as if she understands the logic of her words but is uncomfortable with their reality. "The Ori have been defeated. Adria is defeated. This leaves you as the most powerful being in the universe. Can you not understand why some people might not be scared?"
"Not when I've done nothing but help." Icarus' arms fall heavily to his sides. One twitches towards the still-active Gate, which shuts off shortly thereafter, and if Evan hadn't caught that brief movement he imagines he would have thought the Gate had disconnected naturally. "Nuclear weapons pointed in my direction tend to make me disinclined to continue that."
"Then help us to make them see reason."
"We're on your side, John," Jackson cuts in. "You have to believe that. But not everyone back on Earth is as convinced of your good intentions as we are."
"I shouldn't have to convince them of anything," Sheppard responds coolly, but with a level of petulance that undermines any attempt to take his anger seriously. "They should be able to see that I'm only trying to do what's in everybody's best interests and just let me."
"Just give them time. They will."
"Well," Vala declares in the silence that follows this pronouncement, lurching forward to grab Sheppard's arm, "I for one think that's enough posturing for one day. What do you say you go show us what it is that's gotten you so deliciously dirty, and then we can talk about what we're going to do for your bachelor party."
"We're calling them Victoria and Vindicta."
"Victory and Vengeance," Jackson translates, staring up at the huge spaceships that dominate the hangar and dwarf Aurora. Despite this, however, Rory maintains pride of place in the centre of the now crowded hall, and he's caught Sheppard standing near her as he works, explaining process of building her new sisters to her with soft and easy words that make him feel like he's intruding upon something fragile and special. Sheppard is proud of his creations, but he loves Rory.
"It seemed appropriate," Icarus agrees with a nod. "They're not as big as the Tethys-class was – only about half the size, really – but they should more than do the job."
"Half? This one's got to be eighteen thousand meters long. At least."
"Twenty-one thousand and two, actually. She'll have eight batteries of five hundred fifty railguns spread across twelve decks when she's completed, along with three hundred drone tubes and six launch bays capable of holding two hundred sixty of your F-302s each. Rodney's is working on a design for our own fighter-interceptors, of course, since the jumpers were only really ever designed to be runabouts, but I doubt we'll have more than a few off the line by the time Victoria and Vindicta are ready to launch."
Carter whistles, moving beneath the half-plated skeleton of Victoria. She's a little further along than her twin, with a rounded sort of bow that reminds Evan somewhat of a dolphin's nose, slowly curving upward to encompass the higher decks, and ending quite suddenly in an utterly sheer stern that runs straight from Deck 1 to Deck 12, unbroken by anything save for six thin vertical slits for the engine exhausts.
Victoria is a strange mix of gentle curves and sharp angels, beautiful in that undeniably exotic way that most Ancient technology proves to be, although much of her design is of Terran origin. While she is naked and raw now, with little more than a third of her milky grey hull plating lain down and a great many of her pipes and cables lying exposed for all to see, that elegance remains.
She is nothing at all like Rory, but then again, few things are.
"What I want to know is how you've managed all this in, what, five months? It took us over two years to build Prometheus and four to build Daedalus – and we had ten times the manpower you do."
"Six weeks, actually."
"Six weeks?" Carter sputters. "That's impossible, even for you."
Icarus shrugs. "Thank Jackson here, actually. Your little stunt with the Sangraal knocked the total number of Ascended beings in the known universe down to fifty-two, which is far too few for them to keep their threats of planetary annihilation."
"You mean the others are just letting you build ships that will drastically change the course of human existence in this galaxy?"
"The times, they are a-changing, Doctor Jackson."
"And what, precisely, does that mean?" Vala asks, her eyes drifting away from the linter long enough to cast a concerned look Sheppard's way.
Shooting her a wide grin, "It means that this galaxy is finally going to have the peace it deserves and they can't stop me, no matter how much they might want to."
Icarus turns back to look over his creation proudly, but Evan watches his guests. And their reactions are telling.
It will be war.