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Title: Five Things John Is Afraid Of
Author name: Icarus
Author email: email@example.com
Sub Category: Various
Pairing: Some John/Rodney, some Gen, Some Teamfic
Summary: John is not his father, nor is he afraid of dying, nor will he ever care about the guys back in high school. But there are days he hates the Pegasus Galaxy.
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied. Copyright © 2006 All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually quite generous.
Author notes: As if I could resist the infamous five things meme.
1) John stops whatever he's doing to listen to the Athosian kids, crouching down beside them as the Marines and Rodney roll their eyes impatiently, puddlejumper hovering in the background. The wind is picking up. "Yeah, that's a pretty cool stick. As sticks go. I had one that was even better."
"Colonel," Rodney huffs, "we gotta go if we're gonna beat this storm system."
"In a minute," he snaps, and turns back to the kids. "Not that I brought it with me. It was a while ago…."
Alone in the jumper, John takes it up into low orbit to watch the sun disappear, blinding gold around the edge of a mostly blue planet swirling with scattered white clouds. It's almost like an eclipse and he worries briefly about his eyes, though he figures it's worth it. He yanks his headset off once Chuck starts squawking, "Colonel Sheppard, is something wrong? You're off your heading…" and remains in orbit as it vanishes.
When John catches himself about to say "Not now!" to Rodney, he stops and says, "What?" instead. Even knowing what he's in for. Rodney pauses with open surprise for a moment, then the flood of words washes over John. He's tired and, no, he can't handle it now, but he does it anyway.
John also makes sure he looks everyone in the eye, tries not to finish their sentences -- even when he's pretty sure he knows what they're about to say -- because no matter what, John's never gonna be like his dad.
2) John's not afraid of dying, but the day they sent Sgt. Russell to Earth missing half of one leg, he lay back on Rodney's bed, staring at the ceiling for several minutes. He said very seriously, his voice hoarse, "If I'm ever crippled, if I can't walk… just shoot me. Like a lame horse."
Rodney brushed it off. "Please. I'll build you a robot body."
John thought about that a moment, frowning. A funny look crossed his face as he turned to Rodney. "Like the terminator?"
"More like Luke Skywalker actually," Rodney answered, not glancing up as he tapped away on his laptop.
"Won't that turn me to the dark side?"
"Well, try to curb your propensity for evil."
3) It still makes his hair stand on end when he thinks of it. He was sitting in the Sanctuary, trying to do the meditation thing (mostly because he was bored and the place emptied out at meditation time).
Eyes closed, he felt a shadow fall over him, and the rainfall he didn't remember picked up, pattering against the roof of the building as he concentrated harder to ignore it. He was guided, almost as if someone was turning his face, to see over a huge distance. Across the endless rolling fields of the entire planet, moving fast. Then he came to the settlement, and all the lives of these people played out on fast-forward. Born, living, dying, the endless repetition and sameness of their lives.
Frustrated and impatient, he lifted away, turned to the sky… and left the planet. In the fathomless deep he found relief.
Then he saw the hive ship. Drawn in, curious and morbidly fascinated, he watched them, larvae, pupae… born, living, dying… essentially the same as the lives he'd just seen. The monotony dragged him down and he just wanted to be free of it. He struggled, and the rain sound returned and became a downpour.
John startled awake like a thunderclap. He found himself breathing hard, but still sitting crosslegged in the sun, surrounded by people quietly meditating around him. There was no storm and no Wraith.
He got up and politely left, and never joined them for meditation again. It wasn't supposed to be like that. Peaceful, my ass, he thought. Though he was sure, pretty sure, that it had just been a dream.
4) Okay, he'd promised to go, but that still didn't keep John from cringing when he saw the banner "Welcome, Class of '86!" The bad bubblegum pop music pouring out of tinny speakers in the school gym promised even worse to come. He straightened his tie and kept his mirrored sunglasses on as he picked up his badge. "Guest of Rodney McKay," he told the overly perky bottle-blond behind the card table. She had on too much make-up and eyed him up and down appreciatively. John grimaced, turning away as he pinned on the nametag.
Rodney returned, grabbed his arm and said, "C'mon! Paul Lambertson's here and once he sees you he's going to make assumptions, and he's going to be so right, and then live out the rest of his life in envy. Ha. I bet he only has one doctorate, too." He plowed eagerly into the crowd, dragging John behind him.
John followed gamely through clusters of people in ill-fitting suits, but wondered why Rodney even cared.
5) It wasn't fear, exactly, but definitely a bad vibe. John crawled through the tall grass along the ridgeline, squinting at the scene below. Teyla was at his elbow, flat on the ground, while Rodney behind them swore under his breath.
The Wraith darts had all gone and they'd assumed the culling was over; so six Wraith in the dry fields a hundred feet below had come as something of a surprise. Four men in their clutches screamed, while two Wraith turned to look around for more prey, then backed away as the encircling flames licked closer. Thirty townspeople had lit a back-fire, letting the Wraith feed as a distraction, their bows drawn. They stood up out of the tall grass once the Wraith were surrounded by flames. At the last moment four arrows sliced through the Wraiths' victims and the men went down, dropped.
"Let's go," John whispered, edging backwards. He got no argument from his team.
As he piloted the jumper into the sky, he was silent, and even Rodney found nothing to say as he punched in the gate coordinates. John sensed Teyla was angry, her chin raised and shoulders rigid.
It's not that he didn't understand, hell, he'd been there, when he shot Colonel Sumner. Those people were probably dead anyway. But he'd hesitated with Sumner because he hadn't known what was going on, because it was like something out of a bad horror movie to see him age before his eyes. Not to draw Wraith into a trap. There was something wrong with that place.
As they emerged from the cold oblivion of the gate, Ronon summed it up, spitting on the floor of the jumper (John had to talk to him about that). "They sacrificed those people just to kill six Wraith."
John's report recommended no contact with that planet.