I Suppose This Means I've Failed ?

By Ann3

Writer's note: Okay, another quick diversion from By Its Cover, just because Shep mentions this in the story I'm currently working on, and... well, before I knew it, my Beckett bunny was just begging me to expand on it.

So for all those who wondered who'd be brave enough, or just plain suicidal enough, to teach Carson to fly the Jumpers... read on...

As always, I hope you enjoy !

He'd had some dumb ideas in his time, most of which would only be revealed under threat of death. But this latest doozie was rapidly taking pride of place in an already bulging file of mental regrets – the one filed in John Sheppard's head under the rather catchy tag of 'What The Hell Was I Thinking…?'

"Doc…?"

Silence.

"Doc…?"

More silence.

"Hey, doc…!"

"Wh – Wha'…?"

Hey, finally, some progress. To get Carson Beckett's attention, you had to use more than one syllable. Check.

"Okay, doc… now, I'm gonna make just a tiny little suggestion here, okay…?"

Silence, again. But at least they'd now progressed to a terrified, teeth-clenched, head-dropping-off-shoulders nod.

Good. The gibbering yelp which followed, though…? Okay, John now dryly reflected, not so good.

"Okay, Carson, let's just start with the basics…" he went on, with a breeziness he really did not feel. "First basic rule of flying, okay…? You okay to try for that now…?"

Another head bobbing nod. Great. At this rate, they might get back to Atlantis by Christmas.

Yeah, Christmas 2010.

"Okay, Carson, you're doing great… now, that first rule of flying… you've gotta kinda open your eyes…"

With startling suddenness, two deer-stuck-in-headlights eyes snapped open, staring blindly ahead.

"Ye – Ye mean, like this…?"

Spluttering laughter turned rapidly into a masking, hand-shielded cough as John nodded in breezily smiling, approving encouragement. Yep, definite progress. At least when they finally did get moving, they'd be able to fly in a straight line.

Okay, rule one down. Onto rule two.

No, scratch that. First remind a medical doctor that he needed to breathe, as well as open his eyes. Then rule two.

Judging by a stifled gasp beside him, said medical doctor had apparently worked this out for himself. And would miracles never cease…? He'd graduated to whole, if not entirely coherent sentences too.

"How-m-I-doin'…?"

"You're doing just great, Carson… just great…"

Yep, when backed into a tight enough corner, Ma Sheppard's little boy could lie with the best of 'em

"I – I am…?"

"Yeah, Carson, you're doing fine… just fine…"

I'm wasted hereI shoulda been a politician

The graphic display had come up now. And Carson Beckett was doing what Carson Beckett did best.

"Oh, crap…! M – Major…! Wha – Wha' did I do...? Wha' do I do now…?"

Yeah, 'cos I sure as hell couldn't cope with being a flight instructor

"Easy now, Carson, it's okay… it's just the Jumper linking with your mind, doing what you want…"

"I wan' it to bloody slow down…!"

"Yeah, we'll get to that, doc…" John assured him, treating his terrified pupil to his very best smile. "But we kinda need to take off and get moving first, before we slow down…"

He'd sounded reassuring, every bit as reassuring as his father had been for his first driving lesson.

"Oh, bloody hell…!"

Okay, not quite reassuring enough.

Damn it, whose bright idea had it been to train those with the Ancient gene to fly the Jumpers…?

Yours, flyboy

Damn.

And whose even brighter idea had it been to personally train up one Dr Carson 'oh, crap' Beckett…?

Two for two, you dipstick

Oh, great. Wonderful. This was one hell of a time to start with the Dukes of Hazzard flashbacks. Still, at least it gave him a good idea on who'd taught Carson Beckett to drive.

Fighting down a ridiculous urge to start whistling Dixie, John Sheppard counted silently to ten. Then, when this didn't quite succeed in slowing his heart-rate down to a respectable level, on to twenty.

"Look, Carson, it's a piece of cake… all you've gotta do is close your eyes, and concentrate, and…"

"You just told me I had to keep my bloody eyes open…! Make your bloody mind up...!"

Okay, bad examplehey, I wonder who else in the SGC has said that…?

Pasting on his very best smile, John Sheppard bypassed one to twenty nine and went straight to thirty. Tossing up yet another prayer to the god of patience, he then took a deep breath and tried again.

"Yeah, Carson, I know… scrap that, bad choice of words… what I meant to say was…"

where the hell did my stomach go…?

"Oooooooh, craaaaaaaaap…!"

If there'd been a record for making orbit from planetary standstill, Carson Beckett had just broken it. And the record for reaching instant, all out, hysterical panic…? Yep, he'd landed that one too.

Pulling more g's than even he'd thought possible, John Sheppard felt damn tempted to join him

"Carson…? Carson…!"

"Wha'…?"

"Oh, I'm gonna go out on a real limb of obvious logic here, doc… slow us down…!"

"Wha'…?

"Hit the damn brake…!"

...THUD...

Hey, way to go, doc…! You've just performed the first emergency stop in space

Peeling himself from the top of the console, John Sheppard fell more than sat back in his seat – his fumbling search for something to hold onto becoming suddenly, and damn painfully, redundant.

"Um, Carson…?"

Silence. Again. Complete silence. And, as its source would say, in his own unique, irrepressible way

Oh, crap…

"Carson…!"

"Mweek…?"

Oh, great. The Chief Medical Officer of Atlantis had just turned into a five foot nine inch mouse.

"Okay, real slow on this thought, Carson, okay…? Real slow and easy… get us the right-way-up…"

...THUD...

It's a wise man who knows when to quit. And John Sheppard was nothing if not wise.

"Okay, Carson, I – I think we've covered enough today, so if you just want to let me take over…"

...WHEEEEEE...

...THUD...

"Um, Carson…? You… uh… wanna get out of my lap so I can actually do so…?"

Not knowing whether he was right-side up, upside down, or even alive at this point, John Sheppard hauled himself gingerly up into Jumper One's pilot seat. Not trusting himself to glance across at the gibbering wreck beside him, he then thumbed his headset.

"Atlantis, this is Sheppard… Stackhouse, do you read…?"

"Sir…?"

"Brush up on your flight training, sergeant… I've… um… got a little job for you…"

Breaking the connection, John Sheppard then released a long held breath - staring, in complete and utter astonishment, at the plaintive voice which now piped up from the seat beside him.

"Um, Major...? I - I suppose this means I've failed...?"