13 December 2006 @ 09:58 pm
SGA: Gods That Slumber (PG-13), McKay/Sheppard.  
They say there's no risk in anything if you can't actually die. John knows better.

Note: This is a Siege AU, and I mean really really AU.

He's one of the first things they find.

He's wandering the halls looking lost and off-balance, and Rodney catches sight of him on the way to find the control room holding what's left of the ZPMs. Rodney forgets all about ZPMs, because this is better, and breaks out into a grin and comms Elizabeth with the news, talking a mile a minute in-between her responses, about how they've come all this way just to talk to him, his people, his--

Rodney stops talking at some point, though he doesn't know why, because he hasn't made it through half of the questions he has.

The man just waits till he goes silent and then quirks a smile at him and meets his eyes. "But, Rodney," he says. "We've already met."

He's always been good at getting people to follow him, believe in him, give him what he wants; it made him dangerous, even to them. It's why they left him here when they went back.

His white robes darken to blue, and a patch appears on the arm of the right sleeve.

Rodney sees it happen, but doesn't recognize it as strange.


John Sheppard grew up on Earth, that little blue planet in the middle of nowhere.

He thought that was all there was. But that was then.


John sits on the counter in Rodney's lab, pointing out mistakes that he has no business finding, but Rodney's proud and not stupid, so he makes the changes, ranting while he does about how John has wasted himself with the military, and that if Sam was bad he was worse, because at least she still tried.

John just smiles, and swings his legs, and it's strangely comforting having him there. Rodney can almost forget they've only got a few weeks left to live.

"We're going to be fine," John says, like he knows what he's thinking. "We've faced worse than this before."

"We haven't actually," Rodney says. "Three Wraith ships headed to destroy us is pretty much a worst case scenario."

"Nah. It could definitely be worse," John says.

"How?" Rodney demands.

John shrugs. "They could already be here," he says, then he points at the white board. "You got that last one wrong."


There are things he should have noticed, Rodney realized later.

He's too practical to think he can be blamed.


The meetings get more depressing the closer the Wraith ships get.

For everyone but John.

John still slouches in the seat like it's football Sunday and not the end of the world, making random and innocuous little comments that tickle the back of Rodney's mind. Rodney wonders if anything fazes the man.

"You could try and be a little helpful," he says, and John's eyes go shuttered and dark, like he's just asked him to sell his soul.

Weir glances between them, confused by the tension she finds that wouldn't usually be there, not between them.

"Well?" Rodney demands.

"I say we take the fight to them," John says. It doesn't cost him much, in the long run. He's given up more before.


John admires Rodney because he never holds anything back.

John has to hold back all the time.


Rodney comes back with one less Wraith ship on its way and Peter Grodin dead.

John tries not to think about it too much. He tries not to think about how it didn't have to be this way, because he knew as well as anyone, tragedies were as necessary as air.

Actually, he probably knew it better than most.

"It's something," Rodney keeps saying. "At least he didn't die for nothing."

"No one dies for nothing," John tells him. Rodney nods, but he doesn't get it.

Two or one or three, it doesn't make a difference. Atlantis could sink all the same, if he lets it.


Sometimes Rodney has trouble remembering the day he met John.

He thinks that's probably because it's so hard to imagine life before him.


The self-destruct is on call and they're getting ready to dial the gate to somewhere safe, relatively anyway, because they've failed to save the city.

They don't have shields, they don't have enough drones, and they have two Wraith ships ten minutes from their atmosphere.

Rodney should be panicking, should be freaking out because that was how he handled these situations, but he's watching John instead, and John's eyes aren't defeated, not like Weir's, not like his own.

His hands are clenched like he could save them by will alone.

Then someone starts dialing in before they can dial out, and the IDC says it's Earth.

John's the only one not surprised.


He can imagine what it's like riding a wave. He thinks it would be a little like flying with your feet still on the ground.

John didn't really grow up in California, like he says.


Rodney dislikes Everett on sight, even before he opens his mouth. It's this weird sixth sense of danger, or maybe it's just the way John tenses, because if John didn't straighten up while he was entering his code for the self-destruct and he was doing it now, this guy had to be bad news.

"Dr. Weir," Everett says. "We're your reinforcements."

Weir's eyes go bright and excited, like they had their first time through the gate. Rodney wonders what she thinks these few people can do.

"You have no idea how glad we are to see you," Weir says.

"We're glad to be here," Everett says, and raises his right hand, signaling his marines off. They take their positions like chess pieces on a board. "I'm a little confused on one point, however. Who is this Major Sheppard that you seem to believe left with you?"


Rodney thought it was odd when John didn't have a message for anyone back home.

Then again, he knew a lot of the people had made the decision to come for the very reason that they had nothing to leave behind.


"There's no record of him on Earth," Everett says.

Weir is left speechless and Rodney's head is spinning. It's the adrenaline and the stimulants and Everett's words just circle uselessly in his mind until he finally laughs just to get them out.

"Of course there is," he says.

Everett's eyes are narrowed. He signals his men again. Rodney doesn't miss that a few of the guns turn to aim at him. "He doesn't exist," Everett says. "We were hoping there was some kind of miscommunication in the data stream you sent us, but it appears you've all been compromised."

Rodney doesn't know what to do with that, it's all so ridiculous, and it's not like they don't have living proof to the contrary. He turns to his left, but John isn't standing where he was.

He's no longer there.


John tells people that his father was a general. The truth is he never knew his parents.

They died of a plague not long after he was born.


Weir is still struggling with what she's been told, but she rallies herself quickly and meets Everett's gaze head on. "I don't know what's going on here," she says, "but you need to stand down right now, Colonel. It could very well be you who isn't what you say."

He frowns at her, ready to dispute it, but Ford appears on the balcony with his men, and Teyla's people appear from each hall, holding P90s like they've had them all their lives, and in one quick move Everett is surrounded.

Elizabeth didn't even have to signal her people. They knew what to do.

"We can work together or not," Weir says. "But you will not threaten me or any of my expedition again, Major Sheppard included. Is that clear?"

Everett's eyes are dark and mistrusting. Weir knows better than to believe him when he says, "Whatever you say, Dr. Weir."

Still, his men lower their weapons. Ford doesn't lower his.


John's never happy unless he's on the front lines.

Rodney would rather just build the bombs.


Rodney finds him first.

John doesn't look up when he enters. He's leaning over Rodney's laptop, typing quickly, and Rodney clears his throat.

John still doesn't look up. "Don't think about it now," John says. "We don't have the time."

"Don't think about it," Rodney echoes distantly.

John sighs and presses his eyes shut. "I don't want to do this."

"You--" Rodney falters. He can't say it out loud. He can't.

"Part of you has always known," John says. "You were always the hardest to fool."

Rodney supposes he should find that comforting.


John has always loved to fly.

That much, at least, was true.


"What are you?" Rodney asks. His voice isn't sure, not like it should be.

John bites his lip, fingers still typing. Rodney wants to pull his hands away, but he's afraid he'll touch nothing but air.

"You're not from Earth," Rodney says. "They don't know you."

"I was born there just like you," John says. He finally stops. Finally looks up. "I just came here with Atlantis. I was the one flying it."

"You're an Ancient," Rodney says. He knew with Chaya. He'd known there was something wrong right at the start, but John had seemed to have the opposite effect. If anything, he had something about him that always felt too right.

"I haven't been on Earth for several million years," John admits finally.

"Why?" Rodney asks desperately. "Why are you doing this? Why are you here?"

"I'm the guardian," John tells him. "Like Chaya of Proculus. This is my punishment."

"Punishment for what?" Rodney demands.

"For saving you," John says.


Rodney's first time through the gate took him to Atlantis.

John was already there.


"You remember what happened the first time you came here?" John asks.

Rodney's trying to keep up, but it's not easy, and he feels a little sick. "The first time?"

"You died in the control room," John says. "Drowned."

Rodney nods. "The other reality; before the failsafe was put in place."

"I was the one that flew the time machine," he says. "I gave this expedition the second chance it needed. They didn't realize what I was doing until it was too late, until it was easier to punish me than undo what I'd done."

"And they're punishing you by making you do exactly what you did to piss them off?" Rodney asks. That was something he never quite understood about the Ancients.

"They're punishing me by giving me an impossible task," John says. "I can do anything I can to save Atlantis. Anything but use my powers."

The ground shakes beneath them as the first volley hits the city. Rodney knows he's needed somewhere else, knows that whatever he is John still needs to be in the chair; but neither of them move.


People are dying already. John can hear them all.

Even the ones that don't scream. Especially them.


"You're actually one of them," Rodney says. "All this time we've been searching and you were right here and you didn't say anything--"

"I would only be allowed to help you so long as I didn't use my powers, or tell you too much," John says. "As long as I don't do anything a human couldn't, they won't stop me."

"It's like a game," Rodney says, sickly.

John shakes his head. "Only to them. Not to me, Rodney--"

"You could have protected Atlantis from any kind of an attack, you could have protected everyone in it," Rodney says.

John remains still. "Yes."

"You could have shot down all of those Wraith ships without breaking a sweat."

"Yes," he says.

"You could have saved us," Rodney says brokenly.

"I still can," John says.


Rodney remembers a time when he would have given anything to meet an Ancient.

Then he learned what they really were.


John turns the laptop towards Rodney. There's gate addresses scrolling down the screen. "You'll find ZPMs on these worlds," he says.

Rodney wants to ask who he is. He wants to know who John Sheppard was if he was anyone, the guy that liked Ferris Wheels and things that went over 200 miles per hour and football and turkey sandwiches and--

"This is still who I am," John says, suddenly in front of him. "I only lied about how I got here."

"The John Sheppard I thought I knew could never have stood by and let this happen when he could stop it," Rodney says.

John sighs. "If I use my powers, they'll stop me, and I probably won't be able to come back," he says. His hand slips out and rests on Rodney's neck, and it startles him when it's solid. John rests his forehead against Rodney's, and Rodney doesn't move away. "It's why I left it as a last resort. Even your John Sheppard would have done that."

"I can't handle this," Rodney says.

John frames his face. "You have to. You're on your own now."

John kisses him before Rodney can ask him what he means, and when he pulls back, flushed and out of breath, he says, "so long, Rodney" and then disappears.


John woke when Atlantis did.

Rodney was the first living thing he'd seen in centuries.


"Rodney, Rodney, Rodney!"

Rodney wonders how long Weir has been shouting into his comm. He wonders how long it takes a world to fall apart anyway.

"Here," he says. His voice is raspy and rough, and he turns in place, looking for any trace that John was just there. He can't find one.

"The ships have been destroyed, Rodney," she says. "I don't know what happened, but they're all gone. Was it you?"

Rodney remembers the reports on Orlin. He knows what happened to Daniel.

"Was it you?" she asks.

"No," he says. "No, it wasn't me."


After a year on Atlantis Rodney had decided the Ancients weren't worthy of the worship they received.

But that was before Rodney knew John.


It takes awhile for Weir to believe him, but there's really no other explanation, so it eventually sinks in.

The Daedalus arrives with the ZPM too late to do any good, but Rodney trudges along to plug it in, so they can send their wounded back to Earth. Atlantis's lights are only at seventy five percent even once he gets her up and running for the first time in thousands of years.

He thinks maybe she's in mourning.

"What do you think happened to him?" Weir asks.

Teyla is silent and still, she's having even more trouble coping than the rest. The Ancients were her Gods. She doesn't know how to reconcile that with the fact that John is supposed to be her friend, and it doesn't help that she's lost Ford as well.

Rodney may not believe in Gods, but it's not like he can't sympathize with her dilemma.

"I don't know," he says.

Weir looks at the table and shakes her head, before getting to her feet to send the wounded back to Earth. Rodney sees Everett on a gurney when he looks down from the balcony, looking too old to still be alive. But he is. They all are.


They say there's no risk in anything if you can't actually die.

John knows better.


Rodney eventually makes it back to his quarters, and John is standing on the other side when the doors slide open, naked and bruised around the eyes and he whispers, "I'm so sorry" then starts to fall.

Rodney tries to catch him, but he can barely stand on his own after so many hours with no sleep, and they both fall crashing to the ground. Rodney lets out a grunt as John falls into him, but John doesn't make a sound.

"Did I get them?" John asks.

"Yes, you got them," Rodney says. "I thought they got you."

"They did," John says. His hands are shaking as they grab for Rodney's fingers to press against his wrist. "Feel that? It's flesh and blood."

It's a heartbeat and Rodney closes his eyes, grateful and terrified all at once. "They kicked you out."

John doesn't let his hand go. "I asked them to," he says.


The city lights up again, because Atlantis was always John's.

And at least now he knew why.

Sequel: Engineering the Fall
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( Post a new comment )
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on December 13th, 2006 - 10:11 pm
Layton Colt: john crichtonlaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:14 am
Thank you! :-)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) on December 13th, 2006 - 10:21 pm
Layton Colt: recordinglaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:15 am
Thank you! :-)
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Lilas: sheppicturespegasus_01 on December 13th, 2006 - 10:31 pm
URGH! *brain melts!* Absolutely amazing. Loved it. It's a GREAT AU! *big thumbs up*
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Layton Colt: recordinglaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:16 am
Thank you! :-)
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summerteasummertea on December 13th, 2006 - 10:32 pm
Oh ♥. Thank you for writing this. It was so good.
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Layton Colt: benlaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:17 am
Thank you! :-)
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Anne Blueslashbluegreen on December 13th, 2006 - 10:47 pm
wonderful story, thank you dear writer!
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Layton Colt: atlantislaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:17 am
Thank you! :-)
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thisissirius on December 13th, 2006 - 11:18 pm
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Layton Colt: silly fangirllaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:18 am
Thank you! :-)
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vipersweb on December 13th, 2006 - 11:32 pm
I love your take on this. I like that it is not wholly obvious what is going on until Everett gets to Atlantis, and I love how Ford and Teyla back Elizabeth up. Very nice!
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Layton Colt: john in atlantislaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:19 am
Thank you! :-)
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(no subject) - alyndra on December 19th, 2006 - 04:16 am
The Wicked Witch From the North: [sga] john sheppardel_gilliath on December 14th, 2006 - 12:22 am
Goodness.... That is... That is...

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Layton Colt: au mcsheplaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:21 am
Thank you! :-)
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mercurys_wintermercurys_winter on December 14th, 2006 - 12:32 am
Coooool! Loved it! Great plot, very well executed!!! :D
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Layton Colt: dlm afterlifelaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:22 am
Thank you! :-)
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Lilith: sga-such boyfriendslilithilien on December 14th, 2006 - 12:55 am
Wow. Wow wow wow. Such a powerful story, I don't have words to tell you how much I love it.
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Layton Colt: recordinglaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:23 am
Thank you! :-)
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Doctor Science: SGA sense of wondermecurtin on December 14th, 2006 - 01:08 am
I always love Alien!John. It's creepy how close to canon you can skate with this idea. The bit about Grodin ripped my heart out, as per your intention.

Ford appears on the balcony with his men, and Teyla's appear from each hall, holding P90s like they've had them all their lives

?? more than one Teyla? or did you leave something out?

>And at least now he knew why.

Did you mean to switch tense to past?
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Layton Colt: recordinglaytoncolt on December 14th, 2006 - 01:23 am
Thank you!

I meant the "Teyla's" as referring to her people, but it looks like I forgot to actually add in the word people. Heh. Thanks for the heads up!
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(no subject) - fullygoldy on December 15th, 2006 - 05:03 pm
(no subject) - laytoncolt on December 15th, 2006 - 10:28 pm
Missylittlenell on December 14th, 2006 - 01:23 am

Oh how I adore Shep/City stuff. they the OTP.
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Layton Colt: atlantislaytoncolt on December 15th, 2006 - 10:30 pm
Thank you! :-)
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minnow1212 on December 14th, 2006 - 01:31 am
Oooooooooh. Really sharp and fascinating, and the pacing was great.
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Layton Colt: shep whitelaytoncolt on December 15th, 2006 - 10:31 pm
Thank you! :-)
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maisieritamaisierita on December 14th, 2006 - 01:33 am
Very, very cool.

Very interesting, really unique, and exceedingly well executed.

I loved the portrayal of John throughout this. And this: It's a heartbeat and Rodney closes his eyes, grateful and terrified all at once. "They kicked you out."

John doesn't let his hand go. "I asked them to," he says.

kinda broke me a little. :)

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Layton Colt: zacklaytoncolt on December 15th, 2006 - 10:32 pm
Thank you! :-)
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phela: sga - john/rodney purpleaphelant on December 14th, 2006 - 02:08 am
Oh. My. God.

John tells people that his father was a general. The truth is he never knew his parents.

They died of a plague not long after he was born.

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Layton Colt: mckay/shep the universelaytoncolt on December 15th, 2006 - 10:34 pm
Thank you! :-)
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