Vir (4/?)

Title: Vir (4/?)
Rating: R
Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne/Radek Zelenka
Warnings: part 4 of  #37 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2, 3); 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. Or, Evan and Radek's dream.
Notes: I'm a little shaky about the very end, but by and large I like the rest now that I've figured it out.
1) Radek's Czech is, in order: "Alright, let's see if we've got this working," "I think that is it. Unless you have something else for me to fix?", and "Then it is time I called it a night. The sun will be up on a couple hours anyway." 2) The Silver Age. 3) Doctor Bosak is fictional, if based on actual doctors who were conscripted into taking part. Eduard Wirths is not. 4) Feldgendarmerie were German MPs thru WWII. 5) Standortarzt is an SS Chief Medical Officer.


An Ancient!John Story

19 July, 2007 – Atlantis, Nova Loegria, Pegasus

Atlantis, Radek thinks occasionally, would more rightly have been named The Lonely City. Regardless of the infusion of almost five hundred Terran scientists, Marines, and administrators, the city remains near empty. Her entire population could be housed in one of the medium-sized towers and still have room for their offices and equipment. With space left over.

Doctor Weir had asked once, in the earliest weeks of the First Expedition, how many people Atlantis could hold. He remembers Colonel Sheppard answering – indeed, he remembers being surprised the Ancient had answered at all, for in those days he'd rarely spoken to anyone save Rodney about the past he'd so recently lost – that he was unsure. The city hadn't boasted a full population since the start of what he called The Silver Age some seventeen million years previous, but she mostly likely could room and board a million people, had Sheppard's ancestors been so inclined.

Personally, Radek thinks Atlantis was never even half that crowded. The Ancients had been a dying race for most of their history. Between war and disease, Ascension and catastrophe, their population had never been able to grow. The only beings Atlantis has ever had many of are ghosts. They linger around ever corner, darken every door. Not actual ghosts, of course, but there are places in Atlantis that seem tainted by lingering psychic scars that science cannot explain. Maybe the walls remember what no one left alive can.

It's a big, wide universe out there. He's seen stranger things.

Even with the population boost, Atlantis feels empty, or at least the parts that Radek, in his own way, haunts. Evan has restricted the Expedition to the East Pier until further arrangements can be made, and Radek spends most of his time on the Southwest, with the empty ships that had once brought doom to Asuras.

He finishes testing the final connection before sliding out from under the master environmental control console. Victoria and Vindicta had survived their flight from the besieged city, but not without significant damage, mostly to their electrical systems. Repairing them isn't urgent, not like some of the repairs to Atlantis, but he's always liked to have an escape route on hand if at all possible. Besides, Rodney has those under control. If Radek tried to help, he'd only be sent to work on the water filtration systems.


"Dobře," he tells Victoria, "uvidíme jestli máme tuto práci." He enters a few commands onto the console and then steps back, keeping one eye on the master environmental systems display that takes up most of the side wall and the other on the wires beneath the console itself. No alarms, however, are triggered and none of the wires melt or spark from overloaded circuits.

Radek smiles and pats the console lightly. These ships may not be self aware, as Atlantis and Aurora are, but that doesn't matter. He's always talked to his tech – computers and life signs detectors, puddle jumpers and car engines, it's never mattered. He holds conversations with them all. He's just never entertained the idea they might be talking back to him.

"Myslím, že to je. Pokud nemáte něco pro mě opravit?" He waits a moment. When nothing in his line of sight obligingly breaks down, he continues, "Pak je na čase, volal jsem ji v noci. Slunce bude až na pár hodin tak jako tak."He should probably sleep.


As much as he should sleep and let his body adjust to this wretched twenty-one hour day they have to contend with on their new homeworld, Radek can't face heading back to his own quarters. They're not that far – just in the other side of the hanger, actually, in the part of the complex where all the old offices and ready rooms for the officers and crew of the Tethys-class warships used to be, in the days when Tethys-class warships still existed – but it has been four days now since he's seen Evan. And as patient and understanding and generous as Evan may be, four days is long enough that he'll start looking for him. And Radek doesn't want to be found, not yet. He needs time to get his head straight:

He doesn't love Evan.

He can't love Evan.

He can't loose Evan.

Which is what will happen if he lets himself love him – lose him, that is. Loss is what love is. And maybe, just maybe, if they can keep going like this, they can have the best of both worlds without suffering the consequences when it is brought to an end, as it inevitably will be.

But if that's the case, why does it hurt so much?

Radek ignores the pain. It's better this way. Getting too close will only hurt them in the long run. A little pain now is worth the price if it keeps them from falling apart later, when it really matters. To that end, he doesn't return to his quarters, but goes up to Deck 2 instead. There are a couple of cabins there that he could spend the night in. Some might call it hiding, but Radek calls it self-preservation.

{?} – {?}

Radek has barely closed his eyes when he finds himself being shaken awake.

"Wake up," says a voice – adult, male, with a Polish inflection and a distinctly harassed tone. He's known his share of Poles in his time, but there aren't any in Atlantis, unless the Third Expedition brought one with them, and even if they did, he doesn't know why this one would have been sent to wake him. Even if anyone knew where to look for him, there are comms for this sort of thing. "Doctor Bosak, you must wake up. The Horváth twins are dead."

His eyes snap open, not entirely of his own accord. The world around him is sharp and crisp, too real to be the creations of a tired mind but too different from where he'd gone to sleep to be anything other than a dream.

The Polish man is leaning over him, a bony hand still on his shoulder. The light in the room he finds himself in is dim, provided only by a single, flickering candle, but it is enough to make out a few of the speaker's features. His face is gaunt in the manner of someone who has lost too much weight in too short a time and his close-cropped hair does his sharp features no favours. Behind him, shadows and murmurs suggest other sleepers in the barracks.

"You must hurry. He wants the autopsies done before the morning inspection. It's already half-past three already."

You have the wrong person, he tries to say, but what comes out of his mouth is, "So soon?"

"He wishes to repeat the experiment on the Džugi girls this afternoon."

Radek is on his feet before he can think of the proper response, following the Pole out the door and down a labyrinth of grey wood hallways without another word. Try as he might, he has no control over his actions. If it is a dream, than it is the strangest dream he has ever had, and he has had some strange ones in his time.

It's only when his dream-self removes his jacket in favour of a physician's lab coat that he sees the triangles stitched onto it's breast pocket: one red, inverted, superimposed over one of yellow.

His dreams have taken him to the Auschwitz concentration camp at the height of the Second World War.

He falls into the dream like no time has passed, closing his eyes to find himself standing in front of a great wooden desk, the kind he's ever only seen in Victorian-era movies, flanked by blood red banners bearing the unmistakable right-facing swastika of the Nazi Party. A lone figure stands behind it, gripping the edge of the desk until his hands have turned as white as the bones beneath them. His uniform (the unmistakable grey-green of the SS, or Schutzstaffel) is sharply pressed; a child daring enough could cut his fingers on the front pleats. The various buttons and inginia are highly polished. Evan would bet good money that his boots, despite the weather, are the same. And yet-

-and yet his collar is open, revealing the sweat-drenched shirt underneath. His hair is tousled from more than the peaked cap teetering on the near corner o the desk. His eyes are red, bloodshot, and the skin beneath bruised to the point of violence, but there's a manic light in them that makes Evan think there is more than plain and simple exhaustion at work.

His dream-self must notice, but, unlike Evan, he is more disgusted than concerned about his superior's appearance. "You wished to see me, Commandant?" he asks stiffly, his voice not his own.

The Commandant – Icarus, for there can be no mistaking his adoptive father, even in the Nazi regalia this dream has outfitted them both in – nods stiffly, his fingers impossibly tightening on the desk. "I did. We need to talk, Eduard."

"What is so important that you dragged me out of bed at this hour, in the middle of this storm, to hear it?"

"It's this war, Eduard."

"The war, sir?"

"I can't stand it," he vows, shuttering. Though he doesn't look strong enough, he pushes away from the desk violently, so much so that a more modern piece of furniture would have gone skidding across the floor.

Evan's dream-self, to his credit, barely flinches at this outburst.

Icarus continues, clearly unaware that his actions are outside the range of human normal. "Don't get me wrong, I understand hate. I understand need and must and balance. I understand that eighty million people have to die so that the porta would be taken out of Egypt and resources expended to discover its operation, so that one day fifteen billion people across two dozen galaxies can be saved. I hate it, but I understand it. It was the choice I made: this war and hundreds like it for a future free of them."


"I don't expect you to understand. You believe in this war, Eduard. You think it's good and noble and right. But you can't build paradise – or the closest thing a universe can ever get to it – from exclusion. It doesn't work that way. Ten or twenty generations ago, the people you're killing now were your brothers. The blood your spilling now may as well be your own, for all the difference it makes."

Though Evan himself can make some sense of Icarus' words, he can feel his dream-self stiffen with every syllable. His disgust culminates in the question, "Have you gone mad?" said with such Teutonic fury that Evan, though he can feel his mouth move, can hardly imagine it as coming from himself.

"Oh, yes," Icarus answers, unusually honest. "But that's not important right now."

"I disagree. Since it is obvious that you are not longer fit for duty, I must-"

"The only thing you must do is stop your experiments."

A strangled, "Sir?" is his only reply.

"You're the chief doctor here, Doctor Wirths. If you order your men to stop their experiments, the other camps will follow. You're the kind of man others want to follow. In another life, you could have been a great man. I robbed you of that by choosing this universe and this war, but I'm giving you the chance now to be the person you always should have been. You're a good man, Eduard, a kind man. Stop these experiments. Save the universe that little bit of suffering."

"You are mad," his dream self – Eduard Wirths – says.

"That's hardly the point," Icarus waves off the accusation, rounding his desk to stand uncomfortably close. "I'm not asking you to change the world. No one could have stopped this war – one way or another, it was always going to happen. But you can stop your experiments. Maybe these people have to die. Maybe some of them even deserve it. But your experiments are just wrong. I don't know if suffering is inevitable or if it builds character or preserves free will or whatever else the philosophers and apologists argue, but I do know that what you're doing goes beyond the pall, Eduard. War or not, prisoners or not, Jew or gentile or anything in between, no one deserves what you and your lot are doing. It's pointless and malicious and cruel and you're above that Eduard, you really are."

Evan can feel his dream-self shaking with anger. "I must call the Feldgendarmerie."

"No, no, no," Icarus says, walking the line between sadness and insanity. "That won't do at all."

He snaps his fingers and a flood of dizziness overcomes Evan, strong enough that it's a minor miracle he manages to stay on his feet. His vision goes completely black and, when it finally clears, Icarus is back behind his desk, collar buttoned, hair straightened, hardly looking as he had moments before.

Then Evan blinks, the Commandant isn't Icarus at all, but some rough, square jawed man with close-cropped hair and a permanent scowl. And it is he who orders, "Dismissed, Standortarzt," as if their conversation never happened.

They play the game for another week of dreamtime, Icarus calling Evan's dream-self to the Commandant's office for a midnight talk in the Commandant's body, each more desperate than the last. By the fifth, he's fairly certain Icarus is actually mad, if not in the way his dream-self thinks. Twenty-seven billion years is a long time to be alone and the universe has never been a kind place to those who care too much, as Icarus does beneath his laconic façade.

Maybe that all the Devil is: the One who cares, the One who cares so much it hurts, and that hurt destroys Himself and everyone He touches, because excess of love destroys just as easily as excess of hate, and more insidiously.

Either way, Icarus continues to try to persuade Evan's dream-self to put an end to the dreadful medical experiments he and the other doctors preform on their prisoners, but after a week even Icarus can see it's pointless. His dream-self, Eduard Wirths, wholeheartedly believes in what he's doing, and not even divine providence can chance that.

And that's when the trouble starts.

Oh my god, now even Radek is having the dreams! AHHH WHAT IS HAPPENING. He doesn't even have the gene, so I don't think it's connected to that. Evan makes a good point that twenty-seven billion years is a long time to be alone, and a length of time that's pretty much impossible to survive sanely.

Radek continues to bury his head in the sand about his relationship - and feelings - with Radek. You're already in love, Radek! And love does not equal loss, ahhhh I want to shake him.
Radek will come around soon enough - although admittedly he does have a point. Love can be loss, and though often times its worth it, sometimes it is not.

But, yes, Radek is having the dreams too. The same dream as Evan, I might add. The reason for which will probably be explained in the next chappie. It is admittedly a significant reworking of one the S4 episodes, but ::shrugs::

Thanks bb. It just makes me sad sometimes I get more reviews for fluff than I do for intrigue I work very hard at. It's not your fault, but it makes me prickly sometimes.