Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne/Radek Zelenka,
Warnings: part 3 of #33 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2); 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
Needless to say, none of this actually happened. But, happily, I have declared this story finished, the next one WILL BE THE SEASON THREE FINALE, and... well, it's always darkest before the dawn.
1) The translation to the first bit of Czech is, 1- “This had better be an emergency. And I do not mean burst pipes. I mean the honest to god apocalypse." 2) The translation to the second bit is, “This is the last time I get into a drinking contest with a Scotsman. I've not been this hungover since freshman year." 3) Yes, everyone has taken to shortening Argathelianus to Helianus, because its slightly less pretentious. And shorter. 4) The Millennium Prize is $1 million. The Abel Prize (the Nobel for math) is $1 million as well. 5) Tunney is from "Brain Storm". The other corporations mentioned are from S9 SG1, and were once controlled by the Trust, when the Trust was controlled by Ba'al's clones. Mostly. 6) And I think that's it.
An Ancient!John Story
18 May, 2007 / XXXI Iun. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
Evan has to hold his hand in front of the sensor for almost five minutes before someone actually opens the door.
"Doufám, že to bude nutné," Radek mumbles darkly, his words so slurred they verge on unintelligible. "A nemám na mysli praskla potrubí. Mám na mysli poctivý bohu apokalypsy."
"No apocalypse, I'm sorry, but there is coffee," he answers with a smile, practically pressing it into Radek's hand as he blinks owlishly at him, clearly trying to make sense of his words. "Coffee," Evan repeats. "Káva."
That seems to simulate at least a few brain cells, as Radek proceeds to down half of it. Sighing happily, he says, "You are saint."
Radek rubs the sleep out of his eyes with his free hand, then runs it haphazardly through his hair. "Is too early to argue semantics."
"It's almost 1300."
"I reject your need to operate on diurnal cycle."
"Are you going to become nocturnal then?" Evan asks beginning to worry his smile might split his face, but he can't help it. The attempt at taming has only made Radek's hair wilder – less like he just rolled out of bed, yes, but more like he's on a manic cycle. It shouldn't be endearing, let alone adorable, but it is. He knows better than to mention it, but cannot contain the grin.
"Perhaps" he says, returning the smile. Pushing away from the doorframe he's propped himself up against, he waves Evan inside with what's left of his coffee. "I like to keep my options open. Be quiet," he adds as the door shuts behind them. "Rodney is still asleep and, if Carson's awake, he's still on bathroom floor. To je naposledy, co jsem se dostat do pitné soutěži se Skot. Nebyl jsem to kocovinu od prvního ročníku."
Impossibly, Evan's grin gets wider. "I thought you didn't get hangovers," he whispers as the tiptoe past the couch on their way to the bedroom.
McKay is out cold, half-a-dozen mardi gras necklaces in knots on his bare chest. A game of poker – or possibly Go Fish – lies abandoned on the coffee table, the tablets they'd likely abandoned them for balanced at various improbable angles nearby, covered with incomprehensible squiggles that might actually be equations or could just as easily be gibberish. A DVD menu is still cycling on one of the laptops, popcorn kernels and candy wrappers scattered wildly about it. A quick survey discovers no less than two-dozen mason jars in various states of emptiness in plain sight.
"I didn't think so either. I had forgotten just how unpleasant it could be. Now," he says, shutting the bedroom door, "what brings you to my door at this god-awful hour?"
"Do I have to want something?" Evan asks. The bed is unmade, the sheets a wild tangle on the floor, but he takes a seat on it anyway.
Radek practically falls face first onto the bed beside him. "I do not think I would be particularly good company right now," he says into his pillow.
"I always enjoy it," Evan says honestly, not missing the way this causes his lover's body to stiffen, as if he's said something wrong.
"You shouldn't say things like that. You only make it harder on both of us," he says quietly.
"How?" Evan asks just as quietly. "How am I making this harder, Radek? I'm not planning on going anywhere. Are you?"
Pushing himself up on his elbows, "Of course not. Do not be stupid. But," Radek tells him, "one day the Wraith will attack, or the Replicators, or there will be an accident off-world, or the water treatment system will malfunction, and then one of us will die. And then where will we be?" He shakes his head. "No. Is better this way."
"I think we're long past the point of being unable to hurt each other."
"But not as much hurt."
"We both know that you're the only one who believes that," he says more quietly still. "I do love you, you know."
The room is silent for a moment, with even 'Lantis seeming to pause her song to see how Radek might respond to that, but Radek says nothing, and before the pause grows oppressive Evan pulls the USB from his pocket.
"Colonel Carter gave this me last night. Went to a lot of trouble to make sure Icarus didn't see it too, though its debatable if she actually succeeded."
"What is on it?" Radek asks, rising up a bit further.
Surprised, "I don't know," he answers. "I thought I should wait until we could open it on a non-networked computer. One with every safety protocol you can think of on it and a few more you come up with just for the occasion."
"I have those every now and then."
"Hmm. Hand me that laptop – no, not that one, the one underneath. It should have the firewalls we need. Thank you. Now, let's see if we can't find what they want us to see…"
He's just gotten back from a run and still rinsing off the soapsuds when his earwig goes crazy. He'd left it on the edge of the sink while he showered but it's buzzed itself to the floor by the time Evan reaches it, hurriedly trying to dry himself off enough that he won't electrocute himself when he shoves it in his ear.
"Ah, Evan, thank god," Radek says quickly over the comm without even a comment about how breathless he sounds, which is as sure a sign of a Grade A Crisis if there ever was one. "Please tell me you are near the hangar."
"I'm on Aurora right now."
"Drop whatever you're doing. Rodney is about to do something very stupid and you must stop him, for all our sakes."
"What kind of stupid?"
"He's gone to confront Sheppard. We read the files on the USB Carter gave you," Radek explains. Water drips from his hair, soaking Evan's tunic as he shrugs it on as quickly as possible, and the soap is already starting to dry in places. It'll be uncomfortable before long, but there are more important things at stake here. "I know you wanted to know right away when we finished our scans, but Rodney did not want to wait and, well, he did not react well to the files."
"Are they that damning?" he asks, because it's not outside the realm of possibility that they're faked or at least exaggerated. Earth wants their help to overthrow Icarus. They're not going to tell them the full story if they can't help it. And McKay should know that.
"On their own? Not so much:
"For instance, he has been using his prize money to play the stock market, but that is nothing new. Sheppard has been doing that for a while to fund operations in the city. The only difference is that, between the Millennium Prize and Abel Prize and a few others he has been awarded, he now has around two-and-a-half million US dollars to play with."
Evan whistles. He hadn't thought there was that kind of money in math, particularly Icarus' self-admittedly obscure branch of it. "What's so bad about that?" he asks, shoving bare feet into half-laced boots. "That just means more money for the hospital and the university-"
"-and to build battleships with. But, no, I do not think they are overly worried about our transistor purchases as much as they are the shares he holds in several of businesses involved in their construction of F-304s. It is nothing much, nothing anywhere near controlling, but I suspect that they keep tabs on anyone who acquires five percent of Colson Industries stock in six months, or eight percent of Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics, or twelve percent of Stanton Research."
"But why would that make McKay mad?" Evan asks, the door of his quarters closing behind him as he makes for the transporter at the end of the passageway. "I mean, we all knew he was doing it, even if no one paid much attention to the details."
"I do not know. It may have been the articles. Several of the files," he explains, "are copies of papers that Sheppard has published in mathematical journals back on Earth in the last few months, a great many of them since Rodney's brush with Ascension."
"And this made McKay upset?"
"Like I said, I do not know. One moment we were looking at the file directory, the next moment he went running off like a madman."
"And you're sure he's gone to confront Icarus?"
"Where else would he go?" Radek asks honestly. Sighing, "I have never seen him so upset. It was worse even than last year, when the others Ascended John and we had no idea if he was dead or alive. That was heartbreak, plain and simple. This…" his words catch in his throat, as if giving voice to his fears might cause them to give rise. "He looked like his world was ending. I think he might cancel the wedding."
"Do you understand now? We cannot let him do something he'll only regret later."
"Alright. God. I understand. Fuck," he breathes, realizing he's stumbled to a halt in the middle of the loading bay, about fifteen meters from the gangplank that's almost permanently lowered whenever Aurora's planet-side. He starts walking again, picking up the pace to make up for lost time. "I'll catch him, I promise. I'm almost off the ship. I mean, hell-"
-and then McKay's voice – echoing and tremulous in the vast hangar – comes sharply, calling out Sheppard's name from some place far too close to the gangway and just out of sight from Evan's place just inside the hatch.
Evan moves to intercept him. He's seen McKay without Icarus and never wants to see it again, because as bad as Icarus had been without him, McKay had been far, far worse. But something keeps him in place – indeed, something has him moving further into the shadows, farther out of sight.
It's probably Rory's voice in his head, barely audible over Radek's voice through the comm and still almost imperceptible after he yanks the earwig out, telling him, /Hide. Do not let Pater see. Do not let Pater hear. Stay quiet and you might stay safe, Pastor./
/Why?/ is all he dares ask – or has time to – before Sheppard is responding-
"Rodney?" his own voice warm and resonant. His is the voice of a man utterly in love seeing the person whom he cannot live without. "What're you doing here? I thought you and Radek had some mysterious project you wanted to finish before-"
"Tell me it's not true," McKay demands, closer now, having none of it. "Tell me it's a lie, that it's all in my head; that I've been under too much stress and now I'm having a psychotic break. Tell me anything, just so long as it means that it's not true."
"That what's not true?" Icarus asks laughingly, as if McKay's dismay amuses him, which, admittedly, it's been known to do – but not like this, never quite like this. "Is it about last night? 'Cause it was Vala's idea to play truth-or-dare and-"
"I saw the article."
"Malcolm Tunney's obituary in the Houston Chronicle."
"Who's Malcolm Tunney?" Icarus asks, echoing Evan's thoughts.
"Did you kill him?"
"Why would I kill someone I don't even know?"
"Don't play games with me, John. Just tell me, did you kill him?"
Quietly, reasonably, rationally, he asks, "Why d'you think I killed him?" He sounds so calm and collected and sensible that next to him McKay sounds half mad.
But there's something sincere in McKay's tone – something that says that he knows exactly how crazy he sounds, but knows he must speak nonetheless – that cannot be denied. It is with this tone that he continues, "Just tell me, John: did you kill him, yes or no?"
Sheppard doesn't say anything, but that's answer enough really.
Evan sucks in a sharp breath, then holds it for longer than is strictly advisable because Rory is telling him, /Quiet. Quiet. Quiet, or he'll hear,/ and he finds himself afraid of his adoptive father for the first time since Evan he met the man.
"Why did you kill him?"
Sheppard doesn't answer that question either.
"Fuck," McKay breathes, and they must be close if Evan can hear it, or the hanger must carry sound better than he ever suspected, or the nanoids in his head have done something to his hearing. Then, "What about Allina? Did you kill her too?"
"Fucking hell, John. Do you have any idea how many people died in that explosion? 'Cause, from what I heard, they were only able to get a death count from the number of workers that were reported missing the next day, because it's not like Dagan has any dental records for their coroners to work from."
"Thirteen," Sheppard says clearly, quietly, and without remorse. "Thirteen people, including Allina."
"You know why, Rodney."
"I'm Ascended. Of course I knew."
"You never said."
"I thought you wouldn't want me to."
"But you thought I'd want her dead because of it? That I'd be willing to let you murder twelve other people to do it?"
"She needed to die," Icarus insists, absolute conviction filling his every word. Evan doesn't know what Allina had done, but when put in that manner even he has trouble believing otherwise.
But not McKay, who counters, "Like Malcolm needed to die? The man was an idiot, but a harmless one. God, John how many other people have you killed trying to protect me?"
"I've only done what had to be done to keep you safe."
"Bullshit. If that were really the case, you wouldn't be hiding it. You've wanted Allina gone since her little Moralist party started gaining enough ground to give you trouble. What did Malcolm have that you wanted?"
"You've got to believe me, Rodney-"
"I don't have to do anything. You've just told me you're going across the universe murdering people. You're lucky I don't just turn around and walk back out the door."
"Rodney, please," and Sheppard is pleading now, his voice desperate and plaintive but still filled with the surety of his beliefs, "you've got to understand. I'm doing this for you."
"Don't say that. Don't you dare put this on me."
"This isn't you. You're a better man than this."
"Of course you are. I've never known anyone to be more heroically self-sacrificing than you. If you'd asked me six months ago, I would've said that, if the universe had to choose someone to be its god, than it couldn't have chosen anyone better than you. But that was six months ago and, god," McKay admits, "I love you, but you've changed. I don't know who you've become, only that you're not the same person you were. That person wouldn't have committed genocide on his own race, or killed Allina or Malcolm or Chaya-"
As Evan wracks his brain for a face to put the name Chaya to, Sheppard's voice turns bitter cold. "What did you say?"
"I don't mean it as a criticism. I know you wouldn't be doing it if you thought you didn't have any other options, but you do, John, you do. You just can't see them anymore. You're so concerned with keeping me safe – with keeping 'Lantis safe – that you've turned your back on everything either of us has ever believed in to do it. We love you as much as we do precisely because you don't murder people to get your way, that you don't mind dissent, that you listen to other people. But now..." he sighs. "It's not too late to turn back.
"How do you know about Chaya?"
Frustrated now, "Did you not just hear anything I said?"
"What do you mean how? I saw the article about Malcolm's car accident and then I suddenly remembered that you killed Chaya to bring me back when I wasn't even dead – and don't think we won't be talking about that later. It just proves my point. Wiping people's memories? This isn't you. You have to see that. But you can still- John, what are you doing? John, stop it. Don't do this again. John, don't- John!"
Evan's pressed into the shadows as much as the laws of physics will allow, but regardless of logic, he tries to sink further into the wall. Both his hands are over his mouth, trying to hold back any sound that might try to escape. Even his breath seems too loud, and a thousand fears flash across his eyes in an instant. Icarus wouldn't, couldn't-
"Hey John," McKay says cheerfully a minute or two later. "There was something you wanted me to take a look at?"