Vir (3/?)

Title: Vir (3/?)
Rating: R
Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne/Radek Zelenka
Warnings: part 3 of  #37 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2); everything thru "Doppleganger," and considers everything thru The Ark of Truth in SG-1 to have happened (i.e., everything but Continuum, which I consider to be post-SGA S4); SGU thru "Air"
Summary: It takes ten times as long to put yourself together as it does to fall apart.
Notes: I'm not sure how I feel about this one. It has been a struggle to conform it into a narrative, and I'm still not sure it actually manages to move the plot forward in any way anyone but me understand, but I am at the publish or pluck-out-my-own-eyes stage of things, so...
1) Check out Atlantis' (very long) soundtrack. 2) The Schutzstaffel is more commonly known as the SS. 3) Msemen is a Moroccan breakfast food. 4) I think that's it, but this was mostly written in the last two days, so... let me know if there's something grievously wrong.


An Ancient!John Story

19 July, 2007 – Atlantis, Nova Loegria, Pegasus

Looking back, Evan will never quite understand how he makes it through the six weeks on either side of Icarus' delinquent apotheosis and precipitous Fall. Icarus had done the impossible in moulding a Confederation from such a disparate galaxy, but what he had held built with charisma and charm, Evan barely manages to hold together through sleep deprivation and sheer force of will.

Bolstered by his newfound decision never to sleep again, he ploughs through three Loegrian days without rest, completing paperwork, reading backlogged files, and even contributing three hours to the effort to track down whatever hole Icarus had crawled into following his flight from Evan's office some days previous. Atlantis proves captiously stubborn regarding the last, refusing to give up her longest serving pastor but willing to reassure the remainder that Icarus is both alive and in relative good health. Its worrisome in the extreme, but without the city's help they have no hope of finding Icarus if he doesn't want to be found, and so they all have to resign themselves to the state of affairs, such as it is.

Still, there is only so long that the human body can go without sleep, and by the time the Third Expedition is set to arrive, Evan is tired, irritable, and in no state to deal with the politicking required to hold a civil conversation with anyone from Terra these days. Even so, he is the least of all possible evils, which is why he's the one leaning against the balcony of the otherwise empty Gate Room, waiting for the SGC to dial in, rather than anyone else.

He glances at his watch, set to Terran time until they can figure out what to do about Nova Loegria's twenty-one hour days. He's still got ten minutes before they're supposed to dial in, but Evan's so tired, it might as well be an eternity. As much as he doesn't want to sleep ever again, he's rapidly reaching the point where soon he'll have no choice.

Maybe he just needs to rest his eyes. He's bound to catch his second wind soon…

{?} – {?}

The rain falls steadily in long, straight streaks, an unwavering curtain of wet and grey that makes examination of his surroundings impossible. The earth is equally wet and grey, anything noteworthy having been stamped out of it long ago by a hundred thousand feet. Those same feet have churned the mud to a thin, even consistency that can slip through even the sturdiest of boots in a downpour like this.

The floorboards creak under his feet as Evan hurries his way to the open door, practically groaning when he stomps his feet against the already sodden mat. His boots – the sturdiest of makes, pebbled-leather running calf-high and the soles hobnailed by the best manufacturer on the continent – squeak and squelch as he makes his way further into the building. He does his best to ignore the sound, walking quickly to his destination: a door, no more interesting than any of the others on the hall.

This is a dream, Evan thinks. I'm asleep in the Control Room. It will be a miracle if I don't fall off the balcony.

The knowledge that this is only a dream doesn't help Evan much. Indeed, if anything, this one feels even more real than the one that came before. Evan can feel the chill in the air this time, smell the must of damp wool; trace the path of raindrops down his neck and under his collar. He thinks, if he allowed himself, he could forget himself entirely – forget that this is only a dream and slip into his dream-self's skin without ever remembering this it isn't real.

This time, he knocks on the door.

"Come in," says the voice on the other side.

Evan opens it and steps through. Inside, behind a great wooden desk, surrounded by sepia-toned maps and violent red banners, is Icarus, wearing the grey-green uniform of the Schutzstaffel.

19 July, 2007 – Atlantis, Nova Loegria, Pegasus

Evan jerks awake violently, nearly tumbling over the railing as the Gate activates. He's hardly managed to catch his breath before the SGC comes over the comm, requesting permission to send the Third Expedition through.

He grants it, heart pounding in his chest, and goes down the stairs to greet them.

"That," Rodney says definitively, fixing the rounded tip of his spoon at him, "is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

"I doubt that," Radek snorts, poking at his own breakfast rather less eagerly. "Weren't you telling me just yesterday about Doctor Durand's solution to our twenty-one hour day problem?"

Rodney makes a noise of both consideration and contempt. "The universe is full of idiots, all of them bent and determined on yapping to me about their idiocy. You especially."

"All I said was, I do not know. That is hardly idiocy."

"For the last three days," he says, piling steamed Tava beans onto his msemen-style pancakes as Radek watches, "every time I've asked you about Evan, your answer has been you don't know, which can only mean you're avoiding him. Avoiding the person you're in love with is where the idiocy comes in."

"I'm not -" he begins, loudly and abruptly, before cutting himself off. He glances quickly down the table, but the only other occupant in the Émigré's wardroom is Doctor Che, who is too busy blinking tiredly into her coffee cup to pay attention to what's going on at the other end of the table, if she even recognizes there's anyone else in the room at all. "I'm not," Radek continues in more sombre tones, "in love with Evan."

This earns him an amused snort this time. "Keep telling yourself that."

Undeterred, "We have an understanding, that's all."

"Is that what the kids are calling it these days?"

"Is not like that," he insists.

Radek has spent years watching Rodney's relationship with the Colonel evolve, having guessed where it would take them long before either admitted to their own feelings. Even at the beginning, there had something grand and fated about it – how could there not be, with a pair like them, Sheppard the last living Ancient and Rodney the scientific successor of Gauss and Euler? Impossible, the both of them, and yet-

They live like they're the only people alive, circling about each other in a tight orbit of furious living and vicious certainty that will one day be the death of them all. It's already killed them, though luck alone had kept it from taking. It's dangerous and destructive and not everyone can live like that, dragged though life on waves of passion only to drown the moment it all catches up with them. Most people need stability, safety, certainty. Love... Love is dangerous.

Love only gets people hurt.

"Our lives are not safe," he continues. "We could die, any of us, at any time. Better not to make promises that we cannot keep than…" then carry on like you do whenever one of us inevitably dies, Radek does not say, though Rodney can follow his argument, however unspoken, easily enough.

"Like I said: the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

"Since when are you an expert?"

"I'll have you know-" he begins, only to cut himself off abruptly with a, "John!"

Radek turns. To his amazement, it is the Colonel. He's about ten pounds lighter than when he saw him last, his face gaunt and skin pale where it is not deeply shadowed. His blood red robes, stolen from Doctor Beckett's office, only intensifies his look of malaise, as does the cane he leans heavily upon as he makes for their end of the table.

"Hey guys," he says, clapping a hand on Radek's shoulder to balance himself as he collapses into the chair on his right. "I'm starving. Pass me a plate, will you?"

"I'm starving, he says," Rodney huffs, working himself into a state of mild dudgeon but pushing his own half-finished plate in his husband's direction. "Three days you've been missing this time. I'm half tempted to put a bell on you or chip you or something."

"Kinky," is the Colonel's only answer to this, rolling up the remains of Rodney's pancakes and Tava beans into a burrito. "Hand me the, well, hand me everything."

"I'm sorry, are we just going to ignore the fact that you thought it would be a good idea to go traipsing around the abandoned areas of the city with two broken legs, three fractured ribs, and a quarter of your lungs left on the operating room floor?"

"I fixed the ribs," he says before taking a tentative bite of his breakfast, after which he makes a noise Radek is, frankly, embarrassed to hear. If he weren't so curious, he'd find a way to excuse himself before this gets vulgar. "Alimenta," the Colonel continues reverently. "Do you have any idea how long it's been since I had actual food?"

"A year or so."

"Try almost twenty seven billion. It'd forgotten thins could taste."

"John," Rodney says, waning in patience, "the universe isn't that old."

Polishing off Rodney's breakfast, Sheppard holds up two fingers, swallows with apparent difficulty, and reaches for the platter of msemen-pancakes. "I went through it twice," he informs them obliquely, the majority of his attention on his meal rather than his dining companions. "Pass me the butter, will you?"

Radek passes the butter. The Colonel, he notes, doesn't bother with the pretence of a plate this time, taking the full platter for is own.


"The Higher Planes collapsed when I killed the others. Or maybe the others died when I collapsed the Higher Planes. I'm not all too clear on that part," he says matter-of-factly, slathering butter on his pancakes. "I wasn't thinking all that clearly and it was a long time ago now. Is that jam?" The Colonel reaches across the table for what is indeed a jar of preserves, "Either way, it collapsed, which caused history to rewrite itself so that the extra dimensions are all curled up tight instead of vaguely intersecting with this dimension in some hazily defined four-dimensional space."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"No, it doesn't, does it? I've been trying to straighten it all out in my head, but..." he gestures indistinctly with his fork, to no apparent end other than to put droplets of melted butter on the table. "I watched the universe burn and knew I was the cause. It is all my fault. Everything. All the suffering, all the wars, all the death, it is my fault. I am the one responsible for it all, not the Wraith or the Haeretici or the others: me."


The Colonel does not appear to hear. In truth, he doesn't seem to hear anything. His fork falls uselessly from his hand, making a great clatter that has even the under-caffeinated Doctor Che turn their way, but Sheppard doesn't notice. His senses are in another time, another place, and while his eyes don't fade to the white of his Ascension days, they are unfocused as they stare at something that only he can see. "Time ran through my fingers. I could see all the futures my choice could make. A billions billion possible universes filled with knowledge beyond understanding, life beyond wonder, and suffering beyond measure. A glance was enough to find the one that suffered least – the best of all possible worlds – and I chose it and made it so, not daring to interfere for fear I would be the ruin of it all…

"But I couldn't. It was still too much. I tried to stop what I could, but I couldn't. Bombs keep falling. Cities keep burning. People keep dying… I think I went mad for a while, trying to stop it…" He blinks suddenly, as if returning to his senses, and pushes his plate away. "I'm not hungry anymore."

Oh, Evan. Going so long without sleep is not going to help you; it slows your thinking, your response time, etc. Poor guy, he nearly fell off the balcony! I'm super worried about him and what is going on with him. I have no idea where you're taking this, and I love it.

I also REALLY loved Radek's thoughts on John and Rodney (I've mentioned before my love of outside POVs on my favorite characters). I agree with Rodney, Radek is being ridiculous - love may get people hurt, but Radek is already there, so it's going to hurt anyway. Why not fully enjoy the time you have? LOVE EVAN, RADEK.
Oh, good. I was worried that Radek's POV might not be interesting enough to justify introducing it. But his thoughts do go a long way towards explaining his reluctance to have anything more with Evan.

But poor Evan indeed. The nightmares are REALLY BAD though, so it's understandable. Not heathy, but understandable. He'll collapse sometime soon, I promise.