With many thanks to Davechicken for the beta!
Commander Athos Leontis stalked the corridors of the Genii bunker complex, trying to get all the thoughts in his head straight. On the one hand, he should be pleased about what he’d heard. He certainly wasn’t all that surprised by it.
On the other hand… on the other hand it did things to his stomach that he really didn’t want to engage with. And for a man who had spent a great deal of his life involved in torturing people – for the greater good, but torture nevertheless – this was a rather alarming concept.
He should not be unnerved by this new development. He should be happy. It was right.
…It was wrong.
On his third circuit of the residential block, his hesitation finally gave way, and he stalked deeper in, heading for a door he had not had cause to see for a long time, but had once seen almost as often as his own.
Taking a very deep breath, Athos raised his hand and hammered on the door of room 1603 – the quarters long-assigned to one Commander Acastus Kolya. His ex-colleague. Ex-ally. Ex-best friend. The man who had gotten his son, Idos Leontis, killed.
Athos was taking a great risk in doing what he was doing. He wasn’t even sure why he was doing it. But he was. And now that the low, heavy knock had echoed through the corridor – and the room beyond – he would have to do it. Have to say it. He only had one other reason to be here… and that was beyond what he would do.
After a moment, the door opened, and Athos found himself face-to-face with Kolya. “You,” the other commander said, his voice deliberately devoid of emotion. “What are you doing here?”
“I need to talk to you, Acastus. Let me in. Now.”
Kolya glared at him. “What could you possibly have to say to me?”
“Not here,” Athos hissed. “Inside.”
And, without waiting for an invitation, he pushed his way past Kolya and into the room. With a resigned sigh, the other man slammed the door and turned to face his unexpected guest.
It was a long time since Athos had been in this room, though it was still as he remembered it: cool and wide with low lighting, the back wall covered in an assortment of weaponry. The room was, of course, very tidy, though the desk was currently strewn with several piles of paper.
“All right. Now start talking,” Kolya said, in the kind of voice he tended to use whilst holding knives against various parts of people.
Athos held up a hand, trying to get control over the situation before Kolya lost it. He certainly had the last time they’d talked. “Look. Just let me speak before you start questioning my sanity, my presence here, my existence… any of it. There’s something you need to know.”
Kolya glared at him. “Then I suggest you tell me.”
“I’ve just come from a meeting with Drelas, one of Cowan’s aides.”
“I know of him,” Kolya said, carefully now. “Go on.”
“He doesn’t like you all that much, but he owed me one and came to me with some information earlier this evening.”
“Skip the prologue, Athos,” Kolya insisted. “I don’t have all night.”
Athos sighed. “Cowan’s plotting to move against you,” he said, bluntly. “Apparently, you’ve fallen completely from grace, and he’s lost patience with you at last. Drelas thinks Cowan is about to order an attempt on your life.”
“What?” said Kolya, rather sharply. “Cowan wouldn’t dare. He knows I have a number of powerful allies among the other officers.”
“You’re right,” Athos replied. “He does. Hence why he wouldn’t try anything official. But if you happened to wind up dead, it would be a lot harder for people to question matters, and Cowan could certainly handle the situation.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Kolya asked. He looked remarkably level, everything considered, though Athos knew it was all a façade. He knew that, beneath the surface, Acastus’ mind was likely to be a raging storm of emotion, none of it welcome.
“Because I think Cowan’s wrong,” said Athos, rather bluntly. “If he has a problem with you, he should deal with it officially. We cannot hope to keep our society together if our own leader won’t follow the rules.”
“Is that all?” Kolya now asked, with a very strange look in his eyes.
Damn. Athos had hoped this wasn’t going to come up, though he should have realised it would. His own expression was getting rather complicated.
“…No,” he said, finally. “No. I…” Athos shook his head, feeling the mental walls inside suddenly break down. “I hate you,” he went on, very bluntly. “I hate what you did to me, what you did to Idos, and what you did to yourself. I hate that we’ve spent almost a year hardly speaking at all; I hate that most of my thoughts about you involve beating you into the floor, and I hate that neither of us can find resolution over what happened. I hate everything you are, everything you do, everything you represent. And yet…” He hung his head, the eye-contact too much, now. “I hate that you once loved me. And more than anything else, I hate that I couldn’t love you in return.”
He raised his head, fighting back the tears. “I want you to leave. Go. Get out of here. Before Cowan manages to get to you. I have a friend on Manara. He’ll point you in the direction of a suitable place to hide out.”
Kolya stared at him. Really, truly, stared. He wasn’t bothering to hide the shock in his eyes, now, although Athos suspected most of it wasn’t connected to this potential attempt on his life.
“I don’t run from a fight,” he insisted, an obvious statement which clearly covered a lot.
“You have to,” Athos insisted right back. “This time, you have to. You can’t take on the full force of Cowan’s resources. And I… damnit, I don’t want you to die!”
“Why not?” said Kolya, suddenly very quiet.
“Because if you do, neither of us will find peace. Now, please, Acastus, listen to me and go!”
And Kolya, his expression more complicated than Athos had ever seen, nodded.
Acastus Kolya and Athos Leontis stood side-by-side as the Stargate flared into life, filling the darkness with a bright, dappled blue glow. Around them, all was quiet, save for the light rustle of the trees, the rippling of the grass.
“Aderon will be waiting for you on the other side,” Athos said. “Try not to threaten him too much.”
Kolya nodded. “Promise me something, Athos. Promise me you’ll make sense of this one day.”
“…I promise,” Athos replied. “Now… please… you should go.”
They paused for a moment, staring at each other, both clearly trying to say something and both failing as miserably as the other.
Then, without another word, Kolya hefted his heavy bag onto his shoulder – still favouring his right, of course – turned, and walked up the steps to the Gate. He reached the top and – with a single glance back – walked through it, beyond that wall of dazzling blue.
And was gone.
Head hung, Athos lifted his hand to the dialling device, gently tapping it to deactivate the Gate again. Darkness fell once more, the area now lit only by moonlight.
It was done. It was over.
Calmly, Athos pulled a gun from his belt. It was not his own gun. It was the one Cowan had given him, as the chief had spoken those three simple words.
“Do it tonight.”
Silent, Athos stared at the weapon, thinking about what he’d just done. What he’d just done, and what he hadn’t done. And then, as the wave of emotion inside finally reached breaking point, he lifted his hand to the dialling device again, tapping out the address which was burned into his mind despite him never having dialled it before.
With one final breath, Athos drew back his arm and threw the gun straight through the open wormhole, knowing it would be obliterated by the Atlantean gateshield, and fully counting on that fact.
Obliterated. Finished. Over.
Or so the world would think.
And, finally absolved, Athos Leontis began the long walk home.
Summary: There can be no peace in death… but he may have more motivation than that. [Written for Fanfic100 prompt #64 – Fall, Kolya/Athos UST, set pre-Coup d’Etat.]