Title: Dei et Viri (1/3)
Words: 1,480 (of 9,671)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney, Radek Zelenka; John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: part one of #12 in the Ancient!John 'verse; takes place during "Trinity"
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, quotes et al are properties of their respective owners and I am merely using them under Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine, without intents to infringe upon or defame anyone's legal rights.
Summary: Some things should stay lost.
Notes: I gave up on my attempt at writing a "Duet" story, because I wasn't liking it at all. So I moved on to my "Trinity" story, only it's kicking me a thousand ways to Sunday and, if I don't post what I already have, I'll delete it all and hide in a small corner until I think I can write anything better. Which, considering this is turning out exactly as I wanted (so far), probably won't happen. It'll probably also only end up being 2, maybe 3, parts. And encouragements would be welcome. RL has been kicking me the past week. Oh, and Dei et Viri translates to Gods and Men.
[Retro Beta'd by sspaci1701
Dei et Viri
An Ancient!John Story
"See that? See? See the way he lights up at the mention of weapons systems? It's like Doctor Vogel at the mention of pastries. I swear, I think half of his thing with Atlantis is because she's got the biggest and the baddest weapons systems this side of forever," Rodney points out laughingly to Zelenka, who's working with almost equally manic excitement at the console next to them.
Iohannes can only roll his eyes at this. "Atlantis and I don't have a thing, Rodney."
This, of course, causes Rodney to snort as derisively as he can manage while practically high on the excitement of finding a mostly intact Alteran research base. Which is to say, not very. But he still easily manages to sound condescending when he says, "Oh, please. If you were any more involved you'd have been covered in more than blood when I found you in the control chair."
Zelenka chokes a bit at this comment and mutters something in his native tongue about this being more information than he ever needed to know.
One day he'll tell the Czech that Atlantis updated his translation matrix after he got back from Terra to include nineteen of the twenty-three languages spoken by the various members of the Expedition (the others of which are rarely ever used and therefore difficult for her to create matrices for), but not today. So instead he smirks at his amator and says, "There's no need to be jealous."
"Did I say I was jealous?" Rodney snorts, sounding genuinely surprised by the comment. "'Lantis is going to be though, when you tell her about what we found here."
"'Lantis doesn't really do jealousy."
"She will when she finds out about this."
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes again, "Just tell me how they managed to soup up the space guns."
"Space guns? And to think," Rodney says, looking over his laptop at Zelenka with a long-suffering sort of expression, "Stanford gave him a doctorate as part of his cover. Granted, it's only in mathematics but still. All this talk of space guns makes you wonder why we bothered working so hard for ours."
"Would you rather," he asks, his patience starting to wear thin, "I called it an arcusadcelerato magnetibus inerrantibus sagittariorum?"
"No, but is it too much to ask for you to act your IQ when there aren't any of your soldiers around to offend by using words with more than two syllables?"
"Alright." Iohannes grabs Rodney's arm and tugs him across the room, to a corner where there aren't quite so many ears. "What's going on?"
"What do you mean what's going on? I'm just-"
"Being an ass?" he suggests.
"You're not stupid," Rodney protests, pulling his arms from Iohannes' grasp before crossing them in front of his chest. Mercifully, he keeps his voice down. "I don't know who drummed it into your head that you are, but you're not. You're brilliant. Maybe not on my level but you're certainly up there with Radek in the grand scale of things, even if your speciality is speculative mathematics and not high-energy physics."
"Your point being?"
"My point being is that I know you find this interesting-"
"I said it was cool," he demurs, which earns him a quieting, almost plaintive look before Rodney continues-
"-and not just because it's a cool space gun that can fire multiple bursts without having to wait to recharge, unlike the one on the satellite. No, you're interested in how it works and why it was abandoned and even if you knew those five people whose bodies we found here, only you won't let yourself show it because you're too busy pretending to be John Sheppard."
"I am John Sheppard." At least, as far as the Expedition is concerned he is. It's easier this way. It keeps the awkward questions to a minimum and lets him forget – sometimes – that he's alone on Atlantis. Surrounded by people, yes, but completely alone because he is the last of his kind.
(Sometimes he even thinks the Daedalus shouldn't have rescued him from the jumper he was trying to pilot into the side of a hive ship during the Siege and it's become increasingly more apparent to him as time wears on that he doesn't have a place in the universe. Not as Iohannes Ianidedus Licinus Pastor. He still doesn't know how he feels about that.)
"No," Rodney insists, one of his hands coming up to grip his biceps, "You're not. I've seen it. You may in fact be as much of a bad-ass as you'd like to seem, but you – Iohannes, or Licinus, or whatever the hell you went by before we found you, – you are more than that."
"I never said I wasn't."
"You never said you were either. Hell, I don't even know if you like the name John."
One name's as good as any he feels like saying but doesn't because it will accomplish nothing. "You gave it to me," he says instead.
"That's not the point."
He raises an eyebrow.
"The point," the scientist continues with a sigh, "is that no one here cares if you're an Ancient or not. You don't have to pretend to be something you're not."
"Who said I was pretending?" even Iohannes can hear the defensive note in his voice.
"Fine, whatever. Do whatever you want, it's your life, but don't bite my head off if I want you to actually, God forbid, be happy." Rodney is already turning heel as he says this last, heading back towards Zelenka and the consoles he'd been poring over with excitement just minutes earlier.
Iohannes stays where he is for the longest time, just thinking, before one of Rodney's newest minions approaches him. He doesn't know the young woman's name, only that she can't even be twenty-five, and that she'd taken it upon herself to see the bodies they'd found in the outpost put into body-bags and placed with dignity in the back of one of the jumpers, rather than being left to rot beneath the stormy Dorandan sky. He also doesn't know whether or not to thank her for that – its hard to forget, with tangible proof in the hold of one of his ships, that the bodies are ten thousand plus years old and so is he and all he wants to do some days is just forget. He doesn't even want to think about performing the funerals they deserve, not when the anthropologists will be begging him to watch and the medical staff will be fighting him to examine the bodies first.
The young woman – girl, really – grows visibly nervous as she draws closer. "I-" she begins, ducking her head. "All of the bodies," she says, holding out a hand in which five pendants are gathered, their silver chains dangling loosely around her fingers, "were wearing these. We thought they might be dog tags. Don't worry," she adds hastily, "we marked which came from which. We just thought..." She ducks her head again, cheeks flushing, and walks away before she finishes her thought.
Iohannes doesn't have to do more than glance to see that she's right – the small pendants, of much the same design as the portae, served much the same purpose, for those rare chances in the War that they were able to recover the bodies of their dead. He'd left his own behind in the auxiliary control room after it had been hit and now wears tags of a different style in their place, with a different name.
Unable to help himself, he glances at the names inscribed on both sides of the circular discs:
Alitia Agnis Perita, Ollaferas Torcus Peritus, Aegidius Timal Magister, and Onoria Preco Discipula are the first four – people he'd known only vaguely as colleagues of Father's, all of whom he remembered as having died while Iohannes was stationed at Tirianus, though he doesn't recall anything about their deaths as having been part of a research accident. That's not surprising, though. Dozens had died while he'd been at Tirianus; he doesn't remember the specifics for very many of them.
But the last, the last he'd known very well, and he remembers all too clearly how he'd died.
"Rodney?" he calls when he can breathe again. "Zelenka? Pack it in."
"What?" one of them asks and, for the life of him, he can't tell who. Not now.
"Pack it in. We're heading back. Now."
"This is Project Arcturus," Iohannes says and swallows around all the words that want to follow.