Five things John Sheppard hadn't ever thought he would do

by Domenika Marzione

1) Shoot his CO. Not that there weren't times he'd dreamed of it, cocking his right index finger and making the little blam! noise under his breath.
The P-90 had a great sight. It sucked in almost every other way and he privately said "amen!" every time the marines had cursed the rifles and asked why they couldn't take their M16s, but it had a great optical sight. He just wished that he wasn't taking advantage of it so that he could kill his commanding officer. Sumner was asking for it, begging him with eyes that had only ever looked at him with annoyance and frustration, and yet still John hesitated. Because this was murder.

Putting Sumner out of his very obvious misery -- and keeping the Atlantis mission from even more trouble in the process -- would be the right thing to do. But it wasn't something for nothing. This was a court martial if they ever made it back to Earth. This was the stuff of wake-up-screaming nightmares even if they didn't. This would shake the expedition badly at a point when they really couldn't take another hit. Sumner alive -- even incapacitated -- was better than Sumner dead. Except, at that moment, he knew differently and so did Sumner.

He centered the sight so that it would go right where he wanted on his exhale. Deep breath in, let it out slowly, and then he squeezed the trigger.

2) Make friends with aliens. Or, how John Sheppard suffered from foot-in-mouth disease for most of a year. Even when it wasn't his foot. Or his mouth.
"It was a perfectly innocent comment," Rodney began as the wormhole closed behind them. The marines on gate room duty didn't even bother to hide their laughter, even though John glared at them with the Stare of Storekeeper Duty for a MONTH.

Elizabeth, who had come down the stairs to greet them, stopped where she was. And promptly lost the battle to keep from smiling. Unfortunately, John was pretty positive that he couldn't threaten her with playing quartermaster for any length of time. "Do I want to know?"

"No," Ford and Teyla answered in unison, wiping paint off of their faces.

"I'm sure, upon reflection, the very nice people of M32-G21 will come to appreciate that you describing their sacred idol as a Monchichi was a great compliment," John told Rodney as he walked by him. He wanted to go directly to the shower, do not pass GO, do not collect two hundred dollars. Because the paint was starting to dry and he had no idea if any of this would even come off without a stain. He didn't want to be red and blue for the next however many weeks.

"It would have been fine if Lieutenant Helpful over there hadn't explained what they were," Rodney snapped back. "For all they knew, Monchichis could have been high art where we come from."

John turned to Elizabeth. "Do we have loofas?"

"Just Brillo," she answered apologetically. "Why don't you guys go down to medical and get cleaned up and checked out and we'll debrief once you're changed."

3) Command marines. He'd done joint operations before, had even taken the course at Bragg. But every scenario he'd ever been trained to had never had the USAF rotor pilot directly in charge of the day to day operations of Marine infantry.
"I understand the words, and yet they make no sense," Lorne sighed, leaning back in his seat. Next to him, John could only nod. It wasn't enough to learn the jargon. Marinespeak wasn't hard to grasp -- just use Navy terms plus a few grunts and extra obscenities. But Marine logic....

"I think we should let them do what they want," John finally replied in a confident voice that was mostly undone by his sliding down in his chair. He still hadn't figured out how Lorne had seemingly cornered the market on comfy chairs. These were better than the ones in Elizabeth's office. "We take a day to think about it, then tell them to go ahead and it sounds like a good idea and don't piss off the scientists too much."

Lorne cocked an eyebrow, then pointedly looked over his notes. He flipped pages on the yellow pad, seeing nothing that pleased him. "Are we taking this period of consideration to figure out what the hell they actually want to do?"

The captains had come to them with a plan for a battalion-wide exercise that involved the newly opened pools, an amphibious assault on the west pier, and maybe some flashbangs. John wasn't sure in what order.

He shrugged. "As long as they don't sink the city, I'm not too worried. They didn't say 'live fire exercise,' so if they want to run around and get wet, let them run around and get wet. They're marines. They like water and they like noise. We're throwing them a bone."

Lorne didn't look convinced.

"It'll make us look like we have insight into the Marine psyche," John promised, sitting up. He had a hot date with the business end of Teyla's fighting sticks.

"They're crazy, sir," Lorne replied, standing up when he did. "And I think they know we know that."

"But they also think we mean it as a compliment," John countered.

4) Make Lieutenant Colonel. He knew, statistically, that most officers who stick it out past captain retire as O-5s. But the road past captain's been so bumpy, he's still a little surprised that he made it to O-4.
"You look good, John," Elizabeth tells him as she takes a step back. She gives him the once-over with a critical eye, checking for random bits of white fluff or crookedly pinned anything or whatever else can go wrong with dress blues, and then meets his eyes and smiles. "Very good. Very handsome. Dare I even say dashing?"

The last bit embarrasses him. "Well, you know what they say about a man in uniform," he says lamely. "I think it's the wings."

She gives him a smile that clearly states that she knows he's weaseling and she's indulging him. "Maybe."

The uniform feels odd and not just because it's stiff from the dry cleaners. Before these last two weeks, it had been more than a year since he's worn a tie or dress shoes and the weight of everything pinned to his jacket is uncomfortable for more than the usual reasons. He runs his hand through his hair, not used to the short length. It's been a long time since he was anywhere where it mattered.

The ceremony is small and with as little fanfare as possible. There was one the previous week where they pinned a medal on him and read a message from the President. He suspects that it was supposed to have been the golden parachute before they kicked him out of the program, but somehow it turned out not to be and so here they are again. The generals who'd been smiling falsely at him last week are more dour this time; they aren't pleased with the promotion and don't care who knows. Elizabeth looks extra smug next to them and he can't help but grin a little at the scene.

Beckett and Rodney are there as well and, to his surprise, so are those marines from Atlantis whose wounds allow them to leave their beds. He doesn't like the attention, but for their sakes he wishes that more of them were able to attend. Elizabeth and General O'Neill replace his gold oak leaves with silver, there's a little speechifying -- very little, since O'Neill is the only one to say anything -- and then canapes. John accepts hollow congratulations from various men with stars on their shoulders and then goes to make sure that his marines get the bulk of the caviar before it all goes away.

5) Get used to getting rescued

He looks up at the voice. There, in the transom, is the face of Sergeant Suarez. The transom is maybe ten feet up, a little hole over the door with old-fashioned metal bars. He'd tried to reach it during the first few days, but he didn't have that kind of vertical leap and there was nothing in the cell to use as a springboard.

"We'll have you out in a minute, sir," Suarez promises. "Stay back from the door."

"Not a problem," John answers, mostly to himself because Suarez has disappeared. It's been four days since he's had anything but water, so he's content to just stay where he is and let the marines do the heavy lifting.

The door itself is solid metal and it takes C4 in the keyhole to get it open. His ears are still ringing when Safir appears, followed closely by Lorne and Ronon. Ronon was in a cell nearby and looks like John feels -- bruised, filthy, and a little dazed.

"You good?" he asks Ronon.

Ronon nods once. "Good enough."

"Are McKay and Teyla all right?" John asks Lorne as Safir gives him a surprisingly gentle once-over. Deeming nothing so urgent that it can't wait for home, Safir offers him a hand up, which he takes. He's unsteady on his feet, dizzy from standing too quickly, and Safir doesn't let him go, instead calling over his shoulder for Reletti.

"They're fine," Lorne assures, "They're with Eriksson downstairs. You ready to blow this popsicle stand?"

"Hell, yeah," John replies, relieved. He's spent his captivity assuring himself that the Honians wouldn't hurt Teyla because she's female and Rodney because he's a civilian. The Honians have very peculiar notions of honor, starting with why they decided to take his team hostage during a ceremonial tea service. A few beatings later and he's still not sure what they did to offend.

As Lorne gives orders over the radio, Reletti materializes from behind Safir. They're about the same height, so he slips his shoulder under John's, smiles apologetically, and proceeds to half-drag him out of the cell. The sound of gunfire -- theirs, since the other guys have crossbows -- is a little too close to be comfortable.

"I think we lost the element of surprise, sir," Reletti announces a little too cheerfully as they make their way toward an ill-lit staircase.

They meet up with Eriksson and his men downstairs and execute a remarkably orderly egress. Rodney and Teyla are indeed looking well, dressed in local clothes and clean. This isn't the first -- or the fifth -- time they've gotten sprung, so even Rodney knows to save the questions for later. That doesn't stop him from expressing his relief or John from appreciating it.

They make it a couple of hundred yards into open ground before the cavalry arrives -- literally. Men on horseback wielding vicious, heavy swords, about to mow them down. Lieutenant Eriksson orders his men to form a square around his team and Lorne's, and to fire on his mark. Once the cavalry is either dead or fled, it's easy for the cloaked jumpers to land.

John falls asleep in the right rear seat of the cockpit, ignoring both the (oddly comforting) steady stream of Rodney's complaining coming from behind the bulkhead as well as Safir's renewed examination.

feed me on LJ?

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22 October, 2006