- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Alternate Universe
- Episode Related
The ground is cold and wet; the rain makes everything hazy and unclear. I reach a hand out and place it on the wood surface. The casket’s cold and touching it leaves me empty, as empty as the casket is. It’s symbolic only. There was no body to be returned, no piece of you to bury, just this empty box filled with empty promises.
Wasn’t it bad enough that Dad had to go and die on me, now you too, John? Dad’s death was unexpected. The shock of it still burns in my chest, but you… I always expected it. Unknown, unknowable, that was you, John. All I knew was you were doing something secretive in the military, something that would probably get you killed, so I knew. I knew someday there would be someone at my door telling me you were gone. Only when that happened I was still shocked, unprepared, and it hurts. It shouldn’t hurt this much. I didn’t know you, not anymore. Except for Dad’s wake, I hadn’t spoken to you for years. You didn’t exist anymore. You were gone. You’d left and didn’t want anything to do with us anymore, with me. How could you do it? How could you leave me like that? The business was yours. The responsibility was yours to take. You left all that responsibility behind for me to pick up, for me to carry, for me to endure. It was supposed to be you. I was going to do… things. I had plans. You took them away from me when you left. You took all of Dad’s and my dreams with you, but you left me behind. You didn’t take me, you left me behind..
What was so important that you’d do that do me? I’ve been so mad at you for so long, I don’t know how to feel right now. All I know is it hurts and I don’t know why.
I remember when you ran off, to the military, the Air Force. Dad was angry, he yelled at me for days, wanting to know why I didn’t tell him what you where planning, and why didn’t I stop you. I would have, so I guess that’s why you never said anything to me about it. Then you came home, on some leave before your first assignment. God you looked goofy, with your shaved head and your ears sticking out. I remember how you couldn’t hide the hurt when dad wouldn’t talk to you. When you left I wasn’t sure if I’d see you again, and I was sorry I didn’t say goodbye.
Then one day you turned up at our front door like some lost dog. You been sent back to the States from Germany, where you’d apparently been stationed. I didn’t see you much that time. I had to be at the office, doing my job – your job really. I remember Dad saying something about setting you up with one of his colleague’s daughters. You stayed around more after that. Nancy was good for you, good for all of us. The wedding was everything Dad had wanted. He spent too much on it. Too much to win you back. At least you had the decency to look…well, happy. You had a wife that loved you and you finally had Dad’s approval. You’d gotten out of your responsibility and still had received everything you wanted in the end. I hated you so much that day.
I still don’t know how you could have thrown that perfect life away. Nancy was the best thing you’d ever done with your life and yet you chose the military over family again. I didn’t think Dad would ever forgive you for divorcing her. I don’t know what you two argued about that night. I just know you left and Dad never saw you again. He did regret it, you know. I wasn’t lying to you about that. When you didn’t return any of his letters, he knew you weren’t coming back. Did you know he cried about that? He did. He missed you.
When you showed up at his wake, I didn’t know what to think. You couldn’t visit him while he was alive, but you could show up once he was dead. What did you want? It had to be money. There was no other reason. You obviously didn’t want us, so it had to be the money. Then, there you were, leaving just thirty minutes after arriving. Just long enough to make a show of attending. God, what was I to think? You had to go on some ‘secret mission’. Yeah right. You just wanted to leave. You’d made your appearance and now you were just going to sit back and wait for the money.
I don’t know why I let you in when you showed up a few days later. Well, maybe I do. It was the way you looked. You looked….you looked like the brother I remembered. The one I’d been looking at in the photo album and I wanted to know. I needed to know why.
I’m glad we had that day. We said a lot of things, got a lot out into the open. Things I didn’t know. Things you didn’t know. For the first time in years I felt like I had a brother again.
So when those men in their uniforms showed up at my door, it was a shock. How could I just get my brother back only to lose him again.
Why didn’t you die before I let you back in? This hurts, and it’s all your fault!
Damn it John, I miss you. I always have.
I pray each night I will wake up to find this is only a nightmare, but it is not. I am constantly cold. The concrete walls around draw away any warmth there might have been. The blanket on the cot they have given me is old and worn and does nothing to keep the chill from me. But it is better here than on Michael’s ship. I cannot stand to be on that ship. I feel a constant unease there and I have grown to hate the dark. I fear I will lose myself in it. At least here, I have some hope. Hope that my team will find me. In space, on that ship, it has become very hard to carry any hope within me. I have been too long a captive of Michael’s.
John, why have you not found me? Why have you not come to rescue me? Only I know why. Michael does not keep us at any place for too long. He is constantly moving us, and I am tired. I can feel myself giving in to the darkness.
“And how are you tonight?” The oddly smooth yet scratchy voice crawls across my skin like a disease. A parasite that causes an itch I can not scratch. I do not turn towards him. There is nothing to say. I’ve given up on all the arguments, the explanations and pleas. They only seem to amuse him now, so I will not give him that pleasure.
“I thought I’d pass on some information my informants have provided. “This is another of his amusements. He takes great pleasure in telling me about Atlantis and my team. He tells me how he leaks information to them. How they follow it and kept wasting their time in futile searches. It is a game to him and he has been enjoying my despair. I will no longer give him this enjoyment. I will not listen.
“It appears I will be denied my revenge on John Sheppard.” He tells me.
I cannot help the uneven beat of my heart. I close my eyes and pray he will not continue.
“I do not yet know what happened, but apparently the good Colonel has had an accident.”
I can feel my heart begin to race. No. It can not be true. He is lying. He is trying to get a reaction out of me for his perverse pleasure.
“My sources tell me something went wrong with the Atlantis gate. John Sheppard is dead.”
I grab hold of the bed frame. My chest feels too tight and it is suddenly very hard to breathe. No. This cannot be true! John. I can feel Michael standing outside my cell. He is waiting. Waiting for me to deny it. To show pain. But I know. I know he speaks the truth. I can feel it in him and he knows I can. I am trying to hold on. I cannot show him how much this is killing me. I will not give this monster his pleasure. I cannot hide my gasps as I try to regain control of my breathing. It is too hard. My breath catches and I hear the sob that escape my control. Behind me I hear him chuckle as he finally leaves me.
Dead? Oh John, no. How? How could this happen? I realize I am trembling as another sob escape my control. I wrap my arms around myself as the trembling shakes my body. Pain is ripping across my chest and I cannot hold it in any longer. I curl up on the bed and let the emotions wash over me, shattering my last hope.
He isn’t dead. He’s alive. So why does it hurt so much? It’s this stupid funeral. He’s not dead, there’s no reason for this ceremony, this celebration of the dead. Only, the outcome is the same.
I’m not going to see you again, am I? No, don’t answer that, I know I’m not. I tried, believe me. God, I tried to figure out a way to bring you back, but how do you pinpoint a spot in time, when it hasn’t even happened yet? How did the damn gate send you forward? Backward – I can understand. I can figure out when another flare would strike, I’m sure given enough time I could figure out a way around this if only the gate had sent you back in time, not forward to some unknown event. God, this universe is so screwed!
I bet right now you’re acting like Kirk around some hot future Ancienty alien. God, 48,000 years. What would Atlantis be like then? Would it even exist? No, no, don’t go there. It exists. If it didn’t, the wormhole couldn’t have activated and pulled him through. So, even 48,000 years from now, the stargate is still working. That means Atlantis still exists! John isn’t dead. He’s just in the future. He’s alive. I didn’t kill him. I didn’t. I didn’t realize. I didn’t know that disabling those subroutines would do this. God, I’m so sorry John. I didn’t mean for this to happen. This shouldn’t have happened. The odds were astronomically against anything like this. I…I screwed up…I lost my best friend because I screwed up.
God John, please forgive me… I’m so sorry.
I knew it was a gamble to care again. It was a chance I readily took. Sheppard had a warrior’s sprit and deserved a warrior’s friendship. He deserved a warrior’s death.
I can only pray one awaits him in the place the gate has sent him to. It’s all I can do for him now.
It shouldn’t have happen this way. If the dam Genii contact had just shown up…this wouldn’t have happened. If I’d just asked another question, held him back for just a few moments…this wouldn’t have happened. There are so many things I could have done that would have prevented this. This is so unfair to him. He didn’t deserve this, not this way. I’ve had a few COs in my career, but Sheppard was one of the good ones. I didn’t realize that at first. He was a slacker, with a penchant for doing his own thing. Word was he also didn’t like to follow orders. I only knew one thing for sure. If General O’Neil sent him out here and has kept him out here, he must be doing something right. In the end, he was the best CO I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. And he was my friend. I know I can’t follow in his footsteps – they’re too large for me – but I’ll do my best to protect Atlantis, his city, and his team. I stand as straight as I can and give my best polished salute. I promise Sir, I’ll do my best to make you proud.
Grant mumbles something about seeing someone he knows and then he’s gone leaving me standing alone. I feel abandoned and yet, I’m glad he’s gone. I think he knows I rather have a private goodbye.
Oh John, whatever happened to us? I slide my hand across the smooth surface of the casket. It’s still and cold. There is no remembrance of the vibrancy that was John Sheppard. He never seemed to sit still for long. I remember his energy and eagerness. I think that was one of the reason I married him. I know I’m smiling, but in the beginning it was wonderful. He was so caring and attentive. He was needy in his touch, always holding my hand, my elbow. I can still feel the pressure of his lips on my neck and the caress of his hand on my back as we would walk together. I remember how safe and satisfied that made me feel. How I would tuck myself under his arm, my arm around his waist as we walked through the park.
I remember the sparkle of a promise, in his eyes, as he would leave on some unknown assignment. I enjoyed the thrill at the prospect of a very needy John Sheppard when he did return. The anticipation of those all-too-brief phone calls from God knows where. It was a mystery for me to solve. Only, nothing that good last forever.
His times away grew longer and more strained. Each new assignment took more and more of him from me. When he did return, he was different, distant. He was still needy for my touch and to touch me, more than before he left, but it wasn’t the same. Sometimes he’d come home and just hold me all night, never uttering a word, and I would feel him shaking beside me. I felt so far away from him at those times. He never talked about what happened, what was changing him. It was killing me to see that sparkle of excitement fade from his eyes and not know how to help him. The mystery had turned into misery. In the end, I couldn’t take it anymore. The distance that he put between us became a wall, with him suffering on one side and me unable to help him on the other.
“I should have just held you,” I whisper. “I know now that was what you needed. I’m sorry, I never really understood that. I’m so sorry.” The wood beneath my hand blurs. “I just need you to know – I never stopped loving you, John.”
“Nancy, I’m glad you came.”
She smiles a sweet, yet sad, smile at him. “I’m so sorry Dave.”
“Yeah, well it wasn’t like I knew him.”
She could see though his façade to the lonely little boy who had lost his father and brother in such a short time. She leans up and kisses his cheek. “If you need anything, you know where to find me.” She turns to leave.
“Do you know anything about something called, the SGC?” he calls after her. Nancy turns back around. “I heard his friends talking about it.”
She raises a questioning eyebrow at him. “No, I don’t.”
“I need to find out what it is.”
“Why, Dave? It won’t change anything. John’s gone. ”
“That’s just it, Nancy, I’m not sure he is.”
“What are you talking about?”
“They’re hiding something. How do I know he’s dead, there’s no proof. No body. They can’t even tell me what happened. ”
“Dave, you know John’s work was secretive and we both know that there are things they can’t tell us.”
Dave chews on his bottom lip and Nancy is forcibly reminded of John. “Perhaps not, Nancy, but I heard one of them say he wasn’t dead. What if he’s just missing and they can’t tell us? Please, Nancy, do me a favor and look into this SGC. See what you can find and how something called, a Stargate, could have caused my brothers disappearance.”