Characters: Ancient!John, Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne
Pairings: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne/Radek Zelenka
Summary: Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.
Series: part 3 of #38 in the Ancient!John 'verse (see part 1, 2) . Part of Locality.
Notes: Basically this has been sitting on my computer for over a week and as much as I wanted to make it longer before I posted, I just don't think that's going to happen. Work is crazy and school is crazy and Radek is being difficult (yes, I blame him; I always blame him). So... Enjoy what little there is.
An Ancient!John Story
21 July, 2007 – Atlantis, Nova Loegria, Pegasus
This is a letter to yourself, the first page of text says, and before you go any further, apologize to everyone around you for what you've put them through. You may not be able to remember them, but I do, and if you listen very closely to everything I have to say, you will remember them too.
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Iohannes glances up, looking without appearing to look for the two men they've locked with him in isolation. In theory, Lorne and Zelenka have been locked in here with him to keep from spreading the dreams they're having to the rest of Atlantis' population, but Iohannes suspects that's just an excuse to keep eyes on him at all times. Zelenka's just a little too interested in what's written on the papers for Iohannes to be entirely comfortable and Lorne, well, war is war; soldiers are soldiers – even if he had apparently adopted this one before losing his memories.
Watchers or fellow captives, the pair has retreated to the small sitting area that is just about as far from his hospital bed as the room allows. They've taken seats across from each other, but there's something awfully forced in their formalities, as if it's something new and having to be relearned. Former lovers, he assumes. They'll be wrapped up in their own drama too much to pay any attention to his own.
He continues reading.
So, let's not start at the beginning – that's a little too confusing right now. The river of time doesn't run as smooth as Father told you. Correlation is not causation, though the consequences are the same.
I'm explaining it badly. Maybe I should start at the beginning.
In the beginning, you are born, in the middle of a Siege that had already lasted for a generation. Your birth comes in the middle of an upsurge in the Wraith attack. Mother stays at her post until the final moments of labour, shouting orders until the contractions are too close together for her to do anything but shout. Ten minutes after you are born, she is back at her post. A week later, she is back aboard Tria, and three years later she is dead.
(More or less. Because things are always more complicated than they appear.)
Is that the beginning? Or maybe it's this:
In the beginning, there is a singularity and in that point is everything that ever was or is or will be. Timeless and terrible, no sentient species has ever devised a torment that could be its equal. You are there in that nothingness for so long that you forget the sound of voices and the feel of sunlight. You forget laughter and happiness. You forget blood and tears. You forget everything but the terrible hole in your soul where your humanity should be and burn and rave at the closing of the day.
When at last the fight left you, you swear you will do better next time, though you don't know how, because you've done all you could do – all you could ever dream of doing. But still you swear.
(And then, suddenly, there is a next time.)
But that's not the beginning, is it? It's this:
You wake up to find Nicolaa dead, her blood staining your skin in ways you'll never be able to wash clean, and you know what you have to do. You run all the way to the cathedra and you tell Atlantis you'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe for as long as she needs protecting. Your life is hers – it has always been hers – and when you wake up next, it's to man aquiver with barely contained energy, the very avatar of curiosity, and you don't know it then, but this is when your life begins.
The silence is deafening. Without Icarus to act as a barrier between them, Radek refuses to do much more than acknowledge his existence, as if he can go on avoiding Evan unhindered by the fact they are locked in isolation together. Evan would say something, anything, to force his attention for even a minute, but dares not. Anything he says now will only push Radek farther away. If he allows Radek his distance, he will eventually return. It will never be what he wants. He will never have anything more than the scraps of affection that Radek allows him – but even that is better than not having Radek at all.
It's a sobering thought.
Even more sobering is the realization that he always does this. He always attaches himself to the wrong people, the ones unwilling or unable to provide the precocious few things he asks for in a relationship – which includes admitting that their relationship is actually a relationship.
Closing his eyes, Evan lets his head fall back until it hits the couch, and tries to figure out what the hell he keeps doing wrong. He tried not to fall for Radek. He didn't want to risk ruining the best friendship he's ever had. And yet, here he is, sitting across from Radek on a couch older than human civilization in a city older than the human species, trying to figure out how he keeps monumentally failing at human interaction. Aliens and artificial intelligences he can handle. His own species, he cannot.
Too tired to honestly help himself, Evan snorts at the ridiculousness of it all. Radek, however, must take it for a snore, as he says his name almost tentatively.
"Yeah?" he asks tiredly.
"You shouldn't be sleeping right now."
Radek has a point: Doctor Heightmeyer had been scared to death while asleep in her own bed after a day spent attempting to psychoanalyze Sheppard, and so now the remainder of the medical staff is afraid it will happen to everyone else. Those few that have been having the dreams – himself, Radek, Hyun-Sook Che, and Amanda Cole – have been placed in isolation for their own safety. Safety being a somewhat ambiguous word, as the only cure anyone has come up with so far is to pump them as full of stimulants as they can before their hearts give out or the sleep deprivation drives them mad. The end result of which is, "I couldn't sleep right now if I tried."
"It certainly looks as if you are trying."
He sighs this time, lifting his head off the couch just enough to fix Radek with a tired look. "Can we please not?"
Radek frowns, confusion overriding the concern painted across his features. "Can we please not what?"
"This," Evan says heavily, leaning forward to pitch his elbows on his knees and prop his chin in the palm of his left hand. "If you wanna be with me, it's fine, it's great; go right ahead… But if you're gonna go back to ignoring me after all this…" He sucks in a shaky breath. "I can't stand all this back-and-forth. We can be lovers or friends or you can keep on ignoring me 'til the end of days, but you've got to pick one. You might be able to bounce between them, no problem, but I can't, Radek. I thought I could, but I can't. I love you and I can't keep watching you walk away because you're scared or paranoid or whatever it is anymore."