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"now is the winter"

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Aug. 20th, 2010 | 10:05 am

Title: now is the winter [1/3]
Fandom: Stargate SG-1.
Characters: Jonas, mainly, with a background mess of Langarans and SGC personnel
Word Count: 7249
Rating: 15
Summary: Langara fell to Origin, its people enslaved beneath a veneer of freedom. This is the story of the resistance, and of how Jonas Quinn gave up waiting for help from the stars and forged his own path through the darkness. “Word spreads of a man who blazes in his disbelief, and has not been struck down.
Warnings: violence, torture, language
Notes: Written for hc_bingo (my bingo card is lurking here), for the prompt ostracised from society, aka my wild card. I know, I know - SG-1 fic? But this is a story that's been eating at me for a while now, and then I saw ostracised from society on hc_bingo's list of prompts, and I just thought, Yes.

now is the winter

His apartment has been searched again.

It’s masterful. Books remain on their shelves, the laptop he borrowed from Sam and never quite gave back is still humming away in the corner – and the coffee table is still upright. (Previous searches have never been quite so neat. If he’s honest, he’s impressed: he didn’t think Origin instilled that much tidiness in its followers, what with the galactic domination and mass murder – not that that’s a thought he’s permitted to voice.) But it’s the little things: the angle of a book, the placement of a coffee mug. The absence of the thread he tacks across the doorjamb every time he goes to the six hour nap that is Prostration. (He picked some things up from Colonel O’Neill, on those long jaunts across sandy planets where for a half hour or so, the older man would forget that he wasn’t talking to Doctor Jackson.)

Jonas brushes a touch to Kianna’s elbow, and she stops dead. “They’ve been here again,” he says, dryly. “If nothing else, you’ve got to admire their persistence.”

Something flickers in her gaze; flickers, and is gone. She pads into his apartment, and stands with her calf ghosting against the coffee table’s rough edges. “And their growing subtlety,” she answers, and there’s that look in her eyes that whispers that she believes him but that she damn well doesn’t want to. “How can you tell?”

Jonas closes the door, and the temptation to lock it is stronger than it’s been before. (But he won’t. Because the day he locks that door while he’s inside is the day he’s acquiesced to the demands of the Ori.) “Can’t you smell the holiness?” he quips.

“Right,” Kianna answers, and then: “How long can they keep this up?”

“Until I stop giving them reason to suspect,” Jonas answers, and flicks the lights on.

It’s still day outside, just, but it’s winter, and so it’s dim, and snow has settled heavily on the capital – three days ago, the windows froze shut and he had to chip them open with a now-bent knife. Of course, the Prior who drops by now and then hardly seems to notice, but Jonas didn’t expect anything less. (Once, when he was working in the government buildings, the Prior walked past. Two stories up, Jonas watched him as he corralled the people around him and kept them enraptured by his magic glowing stick – so he swept a handful of snow off the ledge and snowballed it, dropping it down right onto the Prior’s head before ducking back inside.)

He half-smiles at the memory, and goes to sweep snow off the window ledges – if it gathers too high, it freezes when the temperature of the day dips into night. That’s what happened to the windows the last time: he didn’t get back in time to brush away the snow (an afternoon and an evening spent in a dark room with several particularly unsavoury guys – and when they released him after midnight—turned him out onto the snowy streets with one eye swollen shut and blood dripping from his lips—he spent twenty minutes curled in the ice on the pavements before Lannus found him and carried him home).

“Close the windows,” Kianna says, “and sit down. I need to redo your bandage.”

Three days hasn’t been enough time for the burn marks on his ribs to heal. They ooze, and gum his skin to anything that touches it.

Jonas pushes the windows to, and pulls the latch across. “Do you have to?” he asks half-petulantly, but he’s tugging his shirt over his head with his one good arm as he says it.

Kianna doesn’t answer – just tugs open a drawer in his desk and removes scissors and bandages and a fat pad of gauze. “Sit,” she says, and drops the mess of items in her grasp onto the coffee table, slicing the gauze in half and deftly threading a well-used needle. (It’s the deftness and the way in which Kianna handles everything with a practised efficiency that Jonas hates the most; they shouldn’t be used to doing this. It’s not how things were supposed to be.)

Jonas sits, and drops his bloody shirt on the floor. “We’ll need to redo the one in my arm, too,” he says, and begins to pick at the bandage wrapped around his left bicep. “It’s opened again.”

Kianna’s gaze is exasperated and angry. She drops the threaded needle and bats Jonas’ hands away, unwinding the bandage far quicker than he could’ve ever managed, and says, “You need to keep this arm still. This is the second time you’ve torn these stitches, and you’ve only had the damn wound three days. If you’d let me find a sling—”

“No,” Jonas interrupts, softly. “That’s what they want.”

Kianna rips the bandage away, and his dried blood is sharply dark against the chilled white of her hands. “What, they want you to look after your health and ensure that you live to subvert the Prior whenever—”

Jonas’ hand is across her mouth in an instant, and he’s aware of the sudden hardness in his eyes. (This is what he’s become.) “Why do you think,” he says softly, with a thread of emotion in his voice that’s not fear and isn’t anger, “they searched my apartment for the sixth time? They can’t hope to find anything new, and they didn’t trash the coffee table this time – which is good, because I’ve only just got the mug rings developing on this one, and I don’t want to have to start again.” He pauses, and draws his hand away from Kianna’s mouth. (He misses the warmth of her skin.) “So why?”

“Surveillance,” Kianna says, in a whisper. “Is it safe?”

“Probably not,” Jonas answers, “but it’s not like I’ve got anywhere else to go.”

(There’s a Prior on Langara. The SGC is closed to him, now.)

Kianna’s quiet for a moment, but then she reaches across to the needle and thread. “You going to whine again when I fix your mess?” she asks, but hand that’s resting against his bicep is gentle.

He smiles. “Wouldn’t dream of it,” he answers.

There’s half a smile in her eyes, but her gaze flickers down to the (fortunately) cleanly-bleeding gash in his arm, and he looks away. He’s so used to the press of needle through skin by now that it barely registers – and he gazes absently out the window, at the falling snow. It should be peaceful—that’s what snow seems to do: mutes the crush of the capital city into something calm, something almost beautiful—but there’s a seething in Jonas’ gut (and hell, in the upcoming Joint Ruling Council meeting) that undercuts the tranquillity.

Kianna presses her thumb into his skin, holding the end of the thread in place while she reaches for the scissors. Clipping it off, she says, “I’m serious, Jonas. You rip this open again, it’s going to get infected – and without going to the medical centre I can’t do much else for you.”

(He’s already forbidden her from going anywhere near the medical centre. It was the government that did this to him, and government-run facilities will know about Kianna’s connection to him.)

She wraps a clean bandage around his arm, and he watches as the faintest hint of crimson seeps through already.

“I promise nothing,” he says, with a joke in the subtext, and then he flicks at the trailing end of the bandage pinned around his chest. “Ready for the main attraction?” And he feels his toes curl in his boots, dripping snow-melt onto the boarded floor.

“I wish you wouldn’t joke,” she says, and there’s something that’s almost bitter in her voice. “You were tortured by the government, Jonas. This is serious.”

He catches her hand, and there’s a frailty in the slenderness of her wrist. “Hey,” he says, and her dark eyes are stubbornly turned away. “Kianna,” he stresses, and slowly, reluctantly, she looks to him, even though there’s a harshness in her eyes that speaks of fear and apprehension. “It’ll be okay,” he says, and his thumb strokes across the pulse point of her wrist.

(She never could tell when he was lying.)

Kianna wets her lips. “This will hurt,” she says, and then smiles, bitterly. “But you know that, already.”

“Yeah,” he says, and the thick ripping sound as bandages and gauze are tugged away from raw burns is all that he lets himself feel.

(The distancing is something he’s working on. It started recently—a tingle of disassociation between what he should be feeling and what he does—and he’s working on it – not that it lasts forever, but the only way he got through that evening in a dark room was by not feeling the knives against his skin and the punches across his face until it was over, and he was back at his apartment, pinned to the bed by Lannus while Makan pulled grit and black ice out of the wounds in his flesh. He remembers his fear, then, and his pain – so bad that he became disassociated with his rational mind, too. He just wanted to get away.)

Kianna cleans the burns—three of them, star-shaped and sprawling—and she murmurs that he’s doing well and not much longer.

He doesn’t speak. (He thinks it was Nirrti, somehow – she messed with his DNA and screwed up his brain, and who’s to say that that one tumour was all she left behind. And, he’s discovering, she left a lot behind.)

Kianna’s touch slips, and the flick of pain snaps Jonas back to himself. He hisses out through his teeth, and Kianna winces. “Sorry,” she says, and her hand squeezes his shoulder. “Nearly there.”

“You always say that,” Jonas answers, and lets his head fall back. “Promises, promises.”

“It’s healing,” she says. “They’ll be scabbed over soon. So, if you stopped ripping the stitches on your arm, then maybe that’d fix itself, too, okay?”

Jonas just smiles. He’s known her three years, now; he can tell when she’s upset and when she’s just joking – and he doesn’t look at her, not now, because he’s using the excuse of having his wounds dressed to scan the ceiling for conspicuous Langaran surveillance systems. (There’s a glimmer of what might be a lens huddling in the darkness above his tallest bookcase, but when he squints harder, it’s just light refracting off the window and bouncing into the shadows.)

Snows falls past, silently.

Kianna wraps his chest tightly – he’s got a cracked rib or two, as well, and they don’t have enough bandages, but if it hurts, he can deal with that, if only because he has to. Her touch falls away from him, and she bunches needles and thread and bandages and gauze up together and drops them back in the drawer.

She stands, across the coffee table from him, and one hand clutches at the opposite elbow. “Big day tomorrow,” she says. “You ready?”

He huffs out a laugh. “Ready? What do you think?”

(The Joint Ruling Council meeting tomorrow isn’t about the Ori or Origin or anything else that might be important; it’s about whether he keeps his position, because the Prior isn’t happy with him being there – and if the Prior isn’t happy, then there’s no way the First Minister is going to object. Dreylauc lost her life for less.)

Kianna’s gaze is sharp. “Get to bed,” she says. “You heal faster asleep. That’s why you’re still bleeding.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answers, and he smiles. “See you at Prostration.” And the irony is biting and meant only for the cameras.

Kianna doesn’t smile.

The door closes behind her with a soft click.

Jonas picks up his shirt from the ground, and he balls it in his hands. There’s blood on the sleeve, and right now, he doesn’t have the energy to go and wash it out. He stands, and paces to the window, and pushes it open – the snow that’d gathered on the sill cascades outwards (like the icefalls they saw on P4X-323: water that fell from the clifftops and froze to ice on the way down), and he leans out, elbows resting in chill and hardness.

His thumb absently rubs at the shirt’s bloodstained sleeve.

He looks out, across the rooftops of the capital, and he feels the twinge from his ribs and the ache of his black eye and the tug of the scabbed-over cut on his cheek. “Not long,” he says, softly, and snow brushes past his nose.

(Civilisation isn’t civilisation with the Ori around, and Jonas doesn’t need the SGC background he has to know that. Subjugation and worship, even though he sleeps through the Prior’s lectures on their gods’ will and naps from time to time in the Prostrations he goes to. No one else speaks out, because no one else is brave enough – but he knows a false god when he sees one.)

The Prior healed the sick – walked through the city’s primary medical centre and fixed all the hurt in one blinding hum of light. So why is Jonas still walking with his body battered half to pieces?

“Not long,” he repeats, even softer, and watches the snow.

§§§

“Jonas,” Lannus says, slowly. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” Jonas answers, and tucks a lightweight thermal jacket into the corner of the duffel bag. The damn thing’s already nearly full—a handful of clothes, and reference books and some of the journals Doctor Jackson gave him and somewhere, deep in an outside pocket, his SG-1 patch wrapped around the radio that he hasn’t switched on in months—but he won’t need much, not really. Much as he tries to ignore his misspent youth, he knows this city – knows the people and the culture and where you can get cheap weapons and the basements of derelict buildings that are still supplied with lights and water.

He tucks a roll of money into his pocket, and straightens, turning to face Lannus. “The Joint Ruling Council fired me,” he says, flatly. “That position was the only thing keeping the Prior from ordering me killed. I’m not safe here, not anymore.” And he looks up, to the hole buried in the wall just above the leafy fronds of the plant in the corner. “I’m getting out,” he says, and he says it clearly, because he wants them to know.

“A year on some damn alien planet doesn’t mean you’ll be able to escape the Prior,” Lannus answers, lowly. “Helah objected, and ran all the way to the sea – and she’s still dead.”

Jonas knows that the protest isn’t really aimed at him, not so much – he’s known Lannus since his first day at the Academy of Science, and the guy might look like nothing special, but he’s got Teal’c’s strength and Sam’s mind, and they’re close, closer than anyone. “I know,” he says, and there’s a tic to the corner of his lips – forcing them upwards, but he can’t smile, not yet. “So you can’t contact me – you can’t even try. I’m going underground, Lannus. Where they can’t find me.”

(He wants to make a run for the Stargate. He wants to break through the guards and dial the SGC, and get help for his world.)

He pulls open a drawer as far as it’ll go, and he reaches into it, down behind it to the secret compartment stashed away in the wood. Pressing it open, he feels the cool roughness of the grip of a handgun. (It’s Earth-made: Sam snuck him it, as a going-away present, of sorts – she knew as well as he did that not everyone liked him when he returned home; that Dreylauc wasn’t representative of the then-Kelownan government. Jonas feels a strange twisting when he thinks about Dreylauc.) He takes it out and closes the drawer, and then he tucks the slender thing into his waistband, underneath the hang of his jacket.

“Is that necessary?” Lannus asks, quietly, and it’s not just a question about a gun.

“Not got much choice,” Jonas answers, curtly. He zips the duffel bag shut (the same one he walked away from Earth with), and slings it over his shoulder. “Come on,” he says.

He doesn’t bother to lock the door after him.

Lannus follows him down the hallway, and they clatter down the stairs together. It’s evening, now, and already dark outside (Council meetings and Prostration: never a dull day), so they’re loud in the quiet. Jonas thinks about the young diplomat who just moved in next door, and there’s something like regret in his stomach that he’ll never get a chance to meet him.

It’s snowing outside. It snowed all through Prostration, but the Prior ignored the whimpering of the young boy next to Jonas (or he couldn’t hear him, but Jonas’ scepticism doesn’t allow for much of that idea) – so he whispered to him and gave him a hand to hold as his terrified mother kept her head bowed.

Jonas breathes in, and the chill of the air burns his lungs. Winter, he thinks, appreciatively.

“So,” Lannus says, and their footprints trail back through the snow. “Where are you going?”

“To somewhere they can’t find me,” Jonas answers, and it’s acute, everything: the tug of the bag at his shoulder and the whisper of snowflakes against his cheeks and Lannus’ breaths, heavy in the frozen air. “I’ll get in touch.” And that last is whispered, because it’s late, yes, but that doesn’t mean the streets are deserted – and the fall of snow might muffle sound, but Jonas is aware that that Prior can be fucking silent when he wants to be.

He catches himself. He only falls back into Earth coarseness when he’s missing them; when he’s missing his other life.

“Kianna won’t like that,” Lannus says.

(It’s a veiled comment, Jonas knows, because Lannus says Kianna but means I.)

“I know,” he answers, and it’s an answer for both of them.

Lannus’ gaze is guarded.

He grasps Lannus’ shoulder, squeezing tight. He doesn’t speak, because he doesn’t know what to say – he’s walking away from everything, from his life, the life that Lannus has been a part of for so many years.

Lannus knows, and he’s silent, too.

“Keep an eye on her,” Jonas says, finally.

Snow flutters through Lannus’ eyelashes. “Keep an eye on yourself,” he answers.

Jonas smiles, at that.

He drops his hand from Lannus’ shoulder, and it takes so much for him to just turn his back and walk away. (He thinks what he must look like to Lannus, to his friend – a dim shape, fading into the snow-flurries, SGC-issue duffel over his shoulder and a limp to his step that he tries to hide. His ankle’s only twisted, and he did it as he raced back to his apartment – slipping on the hidden ice just outside the government buildings he used to work in.)

After a while, he can hear nothing but the crunch of his own footsteps.

His collar is turned up around his ears, and as it gets darker, he walks, sticking to the shadows of buildings and out of the orange puddles of the streetlamps. The curfew is unofficial, more a product of the people than their rulers, but no one stays out this late, anymore. Jonas knows he’ll be conspicuous, and he knows he’ll be being followed – but he hears no other footsteps than his own.

He walks, and doesn’t even pause when he passes the street where he spent his childhood.

He goes deep into the old quarter of the city, an area of derelict, maze-like buildings, and there’s something in him that curls tighter into itself when he sees none of the homeless on the streets, and no fires in the windows. Because there was no one here, this area used to be a squatter’s dream – but now, with Origin in their hearts, the homeless go to shelters because they think that they will be saved.

“That’s one good thing,” Jonas says, and snowflakes scatter across his words.

(He has a copy of the Book of Origin in his bag. He’s read it, cover to cover, and there are annotations in the margins and scribbles across the words – which is one of the reasons suspicion first fell upon him. The Prior found out soon enough that he was an ex-member of SG-1, and he came to him, in his apartment. Jonas gave his best performance of obsequious believing, but the Prior picked up that book, and saw the queries and decried it as blasphemy. He apologised, and the Prior almost accepted it. He never erased those comments, and now it’s come to this.)

Building 17B, a hulkingly decrepit factory, looms in front of him. The falling snow covers his footprints as he paces along the line of the wall (a wall that’s graffitied and missing bricks) until he comes to a door, panels still whole and handle gleaming with ice. He tries it, and it slides open with a soft groan from the hinges. Inside, it’s cold – but it’s cold and dry, and the roof is intact even if some of the walls are a little mismatched. The ground floor is cavernous, with what must be an old production line falling into rust along the middle, but there’s a second floor above with smaller rooms, and up there there’s filing cabinets and antiquated computer systems and a basket of rotten fruit that was forgotten when the factory fell into disuse.

(He knows this place. He’s dreamt about it, before—dreams that were fuzzy around the edges, like his Nirrti-given gifts—and he knows it, now.)

He doesn’t go up the stairs.

There’s an elevator shaft in the back corner of the factory floor, and he heads for that, picking his way around broken circuit boards and thinning floorboards. (The corner of his duffel bag knocks against haphazardly-fallen machinery, but he lets it swing: the muted ring of fabric on metal gives the space some character, against the background of the silent snow.) The elevator doors are cracked open, just enough for him to wedge his shoulder in and push.

(Times like this, he could use Teal’c.)

Rust showers into his hair as the doors scrape open, slowly.

There’s a bent and ancient access ladder twisted into the sides of the shaft, and he adjusts the swing of the duffel across his bag before reaching across and winding his arm into the near-ruby metal. He doesn’t know if it’ll support his weight (and a quick glance down into the snowy darkness beneath his feet stirs up a tremble in his stomach), but he figures he’ll be okay – and anyway, it’s not like he can just call for backup, now.

No choice, he remembers, and descends.

It’s thirty metres down, and he half-slides the last few – the rusty ladder disintegrates into a single flaking pole as he gets further down, but he slows his fall to a slither downwards. That’s not hard, even if it does make the ache in his ribs that little sharper. Here, the door is already open—he wonders what happened to the elevator itself, because this is nothing more than an empty shaft, and when he looks up, he doesn’t see it—and he steps through, fingers twisted around the strap of his duffel as if there’s someone who’ll steal it from him.

It’s chill, yeah, but it’s dry. It’ll do.

“No one’s been here in a while,” he says, softly, and wipes a layer of dust away from a crooked tabletop. (It’s cavernous – bigger than the factory floor above, and disappearing off into darkness: but empty. A table or two, but the rubbish of above isn’t mirrored here. No natural light, but that’s okay for now – if he squints, Jonas can see disused lights stretching out across the ceiling, and he’s got his laptop and the rubbish of the factory overhead. He can figure something out.)

“Okay,” he says, and it’s half a sigh.

(It could be easy, he knows. He could roll over and play ball, and lick the Prior’s feet and stare wide-eyed at the miracle of Origin. But it can’t be.)

He unloads his duffel onto the dusty table, unzips it, and tugs out Sam’s laptop. He spares a glance for the darkness of the elevator shaft behind him, but he’ll be okay: this factory dealt in radiation, and there’s enough left to shield him from Ori sensors – or, at least, he hopes so. They won’t resort to physically searching the area just yet, and he can turn them away when they do. The minds of followers are easier to turn, he’s discovered: the ardent at Prostration were easier to send into drowsiness, while those who questioned would blink, and shake it off. (In the last few Prostrations he attended, the latter were so much harder to find.)

It’ll be okay.

He flips open the laptop screen, and its humming is loud in the snow-muffled quiet.

§§§

For three weeks, Jonas hides.

He’d object to the term “hides”, but it is accurate, really: he skulks away in the basement of building 17B, and he fixes things. It takes three days to get the lights to work—they were rigged up in series, so he has to check each goddamn light, and at least half are shattered beyond repair, so he’s been thieving, too—and then, when he’s got each corner of his new grotto illuminated, he digs a moth-eaten blanket out of the CEO’s office above, and sets himself up a bed of sorts in the far corner. (He worked on the lights for three days straight, and seventy-two hours is a fucking long time to stay awake. He sleeps for sixteen hours, and he’s angry at himself when he awakes: before, in that year that feels like it never was, he could’ve slept, because he had others watching his back. Here, he’s alone.)

He feels like he’s waiting, but he doesn’t know what for.

He sneaks into homeless shelters and takes as little food as he can possibly survive on – and he is homeless, now, so he reasons that it’s okay. From a hardware supply, he takes wires and connections and the closest he can find to a motherboard, and he starts to rig up power to the basement, using memory and the mantra what would Sam try? – and it’s intermittent, but it works. (He returns to that same hardware supply later, when the flickering of the lights has become a little too much, but it’s gone. He asks around, and is told that the manager was found floating face-down in the river – and that tugs at him, tears at him, because he knew that guy, from his life before.)

He keeps a diary on his laptop, and it’s less a diary and more a catalogue of what he doesn’t have.

For three weeks, he survives.

He has no plan, not yet, but he knows that he cannot simply sit here, and wait to be caught. He collects maps—of the city; of the continent; of the catacombs that run beneath the streets—and he scrawls across them what he can remember – military strongpoints and Prostration times and spots the police designated as watchpoints. The maps accumulate across the walls, and he stands beneath them, sometimes, and his mind is as blank as it ever was.

But that’s not to say that his mind doesn’t work.

He exercises, and the fuzz that accumulates around his vision lessens every time. (Janet and Sam thought he was mad to try, but the nosebleeds are few and far between, now, and he’s almost thankful to Nirrti. He fell the last few metres of that elevator shaft, and he slowed himself by grabbing at the air.) He’s not quite sure what he’s working towards—what the apotheosis is; at which point it gets too much, and the SGC become right—but he works, nonetheless. It’s something to do as snow blankets 17B, and getting the lights down to check the glasswork was much easier when he could simply raise a hand and tip them out of the air.

Sometimes, on those rare occasions when someone passes by, above, he hears a whisper, in the back of his mind – their thoughts and their hopes and their dreams. He’s no hok’taur (not yet), but he thinks about the Prior and his powers, and he wonders if maybe he could equal them, somehow.

For three weeks, he hides. And then he ventures out, away from the old quarter into the government section.

(He passes by his old apartment building, and it’s through force of habit that he doesn’t look up, and give himself away. The Ori have eyes everywhere, and why would any unassuming Langaran gaze up at the window that housed a traitor? And he knows that’s what they call him: the government; the Prior. There was a newspaper at one of the homeless shelters he visited, and he lifted that, too – his name, his face, emblazoned across the pages for the second time in his young life.)

The streets are quiet—it’s early, now, and Prostration isn’t for another few hours—but he’s not the only one out. He half-expects the faces to be subdued, but they’re just normal people, leading (mostly) normal lives. As ever, he envies them.

Jonas’ favourite place, when he was studying at the university, was always then-Kelowna’s city square: wide and arching, with smooth flagstones and shady nooks. Sometimes, in the summer, the tutorials would take place here, on the steps of the Council Chambers, and it’s like he grew up—really grew up—under the pillars of a world that no longer exists – because now, he steps into the snowy square, and there’s a labyrinth in the centre, untouched by the whiteness, and the Prior stands alone at its head, fingers wrapped around the heft of his staff, milky eyes closed. The blueness illuminates the shadows of the square.

There’s a sickness in Jonas’ stomach.

He turns his back, and leaves.

(He doesn’t realise until later that the Prior ought to have noticed him. The will of the Ori is all-seeing, supposedly, but it seems that it cannot see him.)

He walks past market traders opening rustic stalls, with snow beading in their hats; he slips into the shadows at the sight of foot patrols. He has a hood wreathing his face, but he’s not willing to trust fabric alone: he makes himself invisible, and if he half-tweaks at their minds so that he’s nothing more than a ghost in their vision, then, well, that’s okay. He finds, almost, that he misses the city. (But he doesn’t, in the end, because there is freedom and happiness, but then there is the fear on free people’s faces as they bow out of the way of the Prior’s power.)

He aches.

There’s a café that he knows Kianna frequents, on the outskirts of the government sector, just a few minutes from her apartment. He goes there, and he takes a table in the corner, away from the street, and he takes his hood down, but doesn’t look up. The waitress thinks he has a coffee, so doesn’t come over, and he leans back, his feet outstretched beneath the table – the café is heated, if sparingly, and it feels, for a second, like the comfort of his apartment.

(The SGC was never hot, but never cold. He’s not quite sure how they managed to always strike the perfect temperature, but he was thankful.)

He waits.

It’s not long until she comes in, scarf swathed around her neck. She looks down, avoids the server’s eyes – but it’s her, he knows her. Kianna, he says, softly, and there’s a fuzz in his mind. (He hasn’t quite perfected the silence, not yet.)

Kianna looks up, over at him. She’s startled, but she doesn’t show it – she carries her cup and saucer over to him, and sits. “Didn’t think I’d see you again,” she says, neutrally. “When Lannus told me—” She pauses, and the pinkness of her tongue is sharp against the dimness of the café. “I didn’t think you’d last a day, Jonas, let alone three weeks.”

“Counting?” he asks, with a smile.

There’s a scathing flick in her voice. “Don’t think too much of it,” she says. “It’s been three weeks without having to patch you up. You have no idea the time I’ve saved.”

(He’s missed her sarcasm, he finds – and not just in the weeks he’s spent living under a derelict factory. Before, when he came home with blood dripping from his lip, she’d have serious eyes. Now, she’s still serious, but it’s like there’s a weight that’s been lifted.)

(Doesn’t mean there isn’t a weight there.)

“How are you?” he asks, softly.

“Fine,” she answers, too quickly. There’s the fadings of a bruise dotted around her left eye. “They questioned where you’d gone, a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t say anything – we didn’t know anything.” And there’s accusation, there, but he’s not going to acknowledge it.

“Lannus?” he asks.

Coldness bites from her lips. “They tried to take him to the central medical centre,” she says. “He wasn’t keen on that. He’s resting up at home.”

Jonas remembers his own abduction, and the pressure of cuffs around wrists and the smack of knuckles across skin. “Sorry,” he says, and the clink of the everyday workings of the café is loud in his ears. The guy behind the counter watches the clock, and wonders if he can sneak off early, if only this quiet couple’ll leave.

“Yeah,” Kianna answers.

(Unbidden, he sees it in her mind: the unnatural paleness of Lannus’ face, and the shallowness of his breathing.)

“Jonas,” Kianna says, “what do you want?”

He’s not quite sure how to answer that. He came here because he knew that she’d be here, and because he’s missed people (dipping into their minds from time to time doesn’t count) – but now, with the Prior fucking over his university years and the paling bruises on Kianna’s cheeks, he doesn’t think he can just sit by and let everything pass, and just survive.

Kianna’s gaze flickers away from him, and she drinks her coffee. “Make up your mind,” she says, harshly. “Prostration is in twenty minutes.”

Something flickers in him. “But you don’t believe.”

A muscle jumps in her jaw. “Of course not,” she says, in a whisper, and she leans forward, fingers still wrapped around her coffee mug in a gesture that must be burning her skin, because they’ve spent time at this place before, and the coffee is pretty much always scalding hot. “But not all of us have the luxury of just walking away. There are consequences, and not just for one person. I have to stay here, because I have no other option.”

(There’s a strange warmth in his heart.) He leans forward, and says, low and intent, “What if you did?”

Jonas can’t quite identify the momentary spark in Kianna’s gaze, because it passes and is gone in a heartbeat – but he thinks, almost, that maybe it’s hope.

§§§

He’s not forming a resistance, because, with the Ori, any organised resistance is pretty damn close to suicide – but he resists, nonetheless, because it’s not like he’s got any other option. Working for twenty hours a day, he defends building 17B: he jury-rigs perimeter sensors and disguises the three entrances to the basement; he cleans the one gun he owns, and, after a time, draws neat red circles around the military depots he knows of in the city. (He’s not about to go and steal weaponry in some stupid attempt to take out the Prior – but he knows that as long as he’s unarmed, he’s in danger.)

Four hours sleep is a luxury.

(There was a time, when the Prior first arrived and Jonas saw the first seeds of forced worship, that he waited for the SGC to get wind of the bastard’s lies and send help. They never did, but he’s okay with that – he’s listened to the Prior, during Prostration, even if he’s never quite taken it all to heart, and it’s the galaxy that’s in trouble, not just one little planet. The galactic saviours have bigger fish to fry. He’s the only SGC member, past or present, who cares enough to try to help this world.)

He might be a little bitter, but he carries his SG-1 patch in his pocket, as a reminder.

Jonas walks the streets at night, and he talks in whispers to those reckless enough to brave the now-official curfew. He meets a seventy-seven year old man, veteran of the hatred against Terrania and the Andari Federation, and they sit on a park bench and talk throughout the night. The man’s name is Duras, and he asks questions about the Prior, and about space, and about why Jonas is on the run – and Jonas answers, because they might’ve been supposed to keep the existence of the Stargate a secret, but this guy’s smart enough to realise that the Prior hasn’t exactly grown up on Langara.

“Why did you leave?” Duras asks, when Jonas speaks about the SGC with fondness in his voice.

(Jonas isn’t quite sure how much the old man believes, but he believes enough.) “I thought I might be needed here,” he answers. “Thought maybe I could do some good.”

There’s a quietness in Duras’ voice. “You seem to be doing more good than most of the Ruling Council,” he answers. “Rolling over to the Ori isn’t what the people want.” And there’s a sharpness in his gaze. “Not all of us, at least.”

He smiles at Jonas, with an easy comradeship that Jonas hasn’t seen since Daniel Jackson agreed to feed his fish.

He doesn’t tell Duras about building 17B—not yet—but they meet each other around the city at night, in the shadow of streetlamps and in the open of parklands, and Duras speaks about his wife’s transfer to the medical centre when the Prior refused to treat her, and Jonas tells him about Earth history, and the French revolution.

The quiet meetings are a reprieve from the silence of 17B’s basement, and one time, when a night patrol treads lightly across the lawns they sit beside, sharing narcotics and letting weapons hang loose across their shoulders, Jonas blinks himself into alertness, and, to the patrol, they are nothing but shadows. Duras curls back into the darkness as the soldiers approach, but Jonas just sits, brazen, with legs outstretched, and they pass him by. There’s something different in how Duras treats him, after that – belief, perhaps, and trust, and Jonas finally mentions Nirrti.

“One of those Goa’uld?” Duras says, pronouncing ‘Goa’uld’ as more like ‘Guld’.

“She was, yeah,” Jonas answers, and doesn’t correct him. “She tried to make the perfect host by experimenting on her subjects.” He pauses. “And, in the end, me.”

Duras regards him keenly. “Lucky you,” he says, but the tone of his voice whispers that he believes it’s anything but.

(Jonas agrees. He gets the perks, yeah—what Sam dubbed his ‘superpowers’: the telekinesis and telepathy and control over so many things he shouldn’t be able to touch—but that doesn’t mean that it’s all good. He goes out at night because he can’t sleep from the voices whispering in the back of his mind, and he has to keep control his every waking moment, otherwise the lamps overhead shatter and rain glass down into his hair, bright like the snow.)

Duras’ wife is called Mahella, and she’s two years younger than him. Doctors diagnosed her with a spinal condition that’s slowly rendering her incapable of walking, moving, even thinking – but so slowly that Duras has almost accepted it.

It’s snowing, one night, and they sit together under a shopfront, Jonas’ boots shrouded in white.

“I’m losing her,” Duras says, numbly. “I don’t know how much longer she’ll last, but the doctors say it won’t be long.” He pauses, and snow falls past outside. “I’ve asked the Prior,” he continues, and there’s nothing but bitterness in his voice. “Begged him to help her.”

“Let me guess,” Jonas says, softly, when Duras falls silent. “It’s the will of the Ori.”

Duras doesn’t answer; just says, “Do you think he knows I don’t believe?”

Jonas leans back, his head resting against the cold glass of the shop window. (It’s a bed shop—bedframes and bedding and pillows in the hundreds—and he’s got his back to it because he spends his naps curled up under a blanket on the hard floor.) “It’s possible,” he answers. “The Prior has some level of psychic abilities – could extend to sensing your sympathies.”

“They could’ve followed me,” Duras says, quietly. “Seen me talking to you.”

Jonas smiles wryly. “Impossible.”

“What makes you so confident?”

It’s ironic, really. “If they knew,” he says, “I’d be dead.”

Duras doesn’t agree, but he doesn’t disagree, either.

Snow falls fast and thick, nowadays – and it’s not the depths of winter just yet, but it’s getting there.

In 17B’s basement there’s ice creeping down the walls, but Jonas just ignores the cold. It’s not like there’s any point in complaining, and no one to complain to. (Duras has his own problems; he can’t contact Kianna, not really; Lannus is still in the med centre, as far as he knows. That tugs at him, more than anything else.) He’s begun to talk to himself, purely because there’s no one else to talk to – and he remembers that Earth idea—first sign of madness—but the constant alertness and the loneliness and the thoughts in others minds of the beauty of Origin are probably driving him crazy, anyway.

But he speaks.

He finds the people out after curfew, and he greets them with a smile and a whisper of consolidarity. They’re wary, at first, and he could always reach into their minds and allay their fears – but that would make him as bad as the Prior, and there’s no way that that’s a title he’s going to aspire to. He speaks softly, and clocks their reactions and reacts in turn, and after a while, he finds people waiting for him, in the parks and the alleyways and the secret corners of the capital city that the patrols don’t check. They know his face from the newspapers; they know his name because he tells them it. They don’t know where he lives or who he is, really – just that the Prior wants him, dead or alive, and so he is to be protected. They smuggle him food and a new blanket (and one brings a sheathed knife that Jonas doesn’t want to take, but knows that he has to), and he tells them stories of SG-1: true stories in which the good guys win, and they inspire hope.

He knows SG-1 are not coming, though, not this time, and so he becomes SG-1; becomes the mythic, and he hates that he does. Nonetheless: faith in his people wraps itself around him, and he is complacent, almost – but he can’t rest, not now, not ever. (He feels the Prior’s mind, sometimes, when he walks the city’s streets – reaching, probing, searching. He’s hidden, though, because hiding is something he’s become very good at.)

Word spreads of a man who blazes in his disbelief, and has not been struck down.

to be continued


next: [Winter has become bitter when, at night, he ventures back into the heart of the city.]

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Comments {5}

k

from: laetificat
date: Aug. 20th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
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Nice beginning! I can't wait to see where this goes. :)

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: Aug. 20th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! ♥

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ennetee

from: normaltrouble
date: Aug. 21st, 2010 08:08 am (UTC)
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Very very good...I just saw some pictures of Corin Nemec from 2 years ago at Dragoncon--he looked more rugged, slender, something different than the softer man that we see in SG1, and now this, and it's a perfect combination--I can see Jonas, and how you wrote this really drew me in. It's so odd that I was just looking at those pictures...
(run on sentence is run on)

Thanks and am looking forward to the continuation.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: Aug. 21st, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
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Ooh - can you link me to those pictures? Sounds like the world's conspiring with me. :D

Thank you. ♥♥

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ennetee

from: normaltrouble
date: Aug. 23rd, 2010 09:48 am (UTC)
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Here is one link and they seem to be from a few years ago, but I think might help with some visualization...

I honestly didn't recognize him at first when I saw some of these pictures.

Corin Nemec

There are some clearer, but I couldn't find them...and one of him looking very pensive indeed.


Edited at 2010-08-23 09:49 am (UTC)

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