Warnings: Profanity

Thanks:To Reedfem, who proofed most of the weapons information


John pressed the release button, removing the magazine and carefully placing it on the cloth in front of him. Shifting slightly to make himself more comfortable on the bed, he pulled back the slide. The chamber was empty. He pushed the catch lever up and locked the slide open.

The night's darkness lay all around him, but he worked with the assurance of movement long rehearsed. He didn't need to see - he could do this in his sleep.

He twisted the disassembly latch down until it stopped and removed it from the frame, laying it on the cloth. Carefully, taking his time with it, he released the slide latch and pulled it forward off the frame. It, too, he placed on the cloth. He took out the spring, and then the barrel.

He let his fingers trace the pattern of the objects on the fabric in front of him. Using the cloth like the face of a clock, he'd meticulously placed each piece of the pistol at a different point. When his fingers touched the barrel, he used his other hand to pull the wire brush from its home in the cleaning kit he'd settled between crossed legs.

He could hear a splattering of rain as it hit the glass of the windows behind him. Startled, he looked up. Even at night, even in the rain, the lights of the city reflected off the water surrounding it. His room was cast in a soft, grey light, although the objects on his bed remained hidden in shadow.

Dipping his head again, John pushed the brush through the barrel, unscrewing it from the cleaning rod and pulling the rod out without the brush attached. Repeating this procedure twice, he pushed the cleaning rod through the barrel again.

He'd been cleaning guns since - God, since his dad had taught him to shoot. Probably about age twelve. And this particular pistol - this one he knew intimately, even better than his P90. He was glad he still had it with him, that they'd let him keep it. Of course, the fact that he hadn't actually told them he still had it certainly helped.

Feeling inside the bag in his lap, he removed a square cloth and his small bottle of solvent. Attaching the cloth to the end of the cleaning rod, he dipped the patch in solvent and pulled it through the barrel, moving it in the same direction a bullet would travel. As the sharp scent of solvent filled his nose, he repeated the process, each time with a fresh patch. Satsified, he wiped the outside of the barrel, also cleaning the slide and the handle.

Hands moving automatically, his thoughts drifted back to the days just after the accident. It was probably more than a month ago, now. He shook his head slightly. Those early days were lost in a fog of pain and medication.

John put the barrel and spring back together, placing drops of lubricant where they needed to go. Replacing the slide, he pulled it back and locked it open with the catch lever. Then, with significant force, he pushed the slide disassembly latch back in.

Each day since then had been an effort. At first, he'd found himself snapping at everyone and everything. It was like he'd been unable to stop himself, his own frustration and anger flying forth with every word and gesture. He knew people were just trying to help, but... God, if one more person came to him with that mix of pity and...

Shaking his head violently this time, he drove those thoughts away as he loaded the rounds. As another bullet slipped into place with its soft click, he heard the door to his room open, and then a voice.

"Major, I..."

Rodney cut himself off, and John heard him draw a sharp breath. Two footsteps, then the swish of the door closing.

"Ever heard of knocking, McKay?" John said, trying to cover his tension with sarcasm.

"Major?" Rodney said again, his voice showing his hesitation. Then carefully, as one might speak to a frightened child, he asked, "What are you doing?"

In a rush, John saw the scene from Rodney's perspective. John kept his face turned away, knowing that the dim light would hide the details of his expression. McKay was probably suspecting the worst. He should tell Rodney the truth, what he wanted to hear - that what he thought John was doing wasn't in fact what he was doing at all. That all the time he'd been spending alone lately; he just needed some time to himself. That he'd been struck with the need to do something - anything - useful, and this seemed as good a thing as any. That he wasn't planning to shoot himself. Or anyone else, for that matter. John almost smiled, but not quite.

Rodney took a measured step towards him. "Listen, Major. John. If there's -

Now John did turn towards him. "I'm just cleaning my pistol, McKay."

"Oh. Right," Rodney replied, not sounding at all convinced.

John left Rodney standing there, and he continued to load the rest of the rounds. He bet McKay rushed back to Elizabeth and told her all about finding their injured, isolated C.O. alone in the dark with a loaded gun. He almost smiled at the absurdity of it all.

He knew what McKay was thinking, but he decided to leave it. Let them hash it out. He didn't have the energy. If Elizabeth came to him about the gun, he'd turn on the charm, tell her he really wasn't thinking of... His hand hesitated for a brief second.

His life sucked royally right now, but he wasn't at that point. Not quite.

He loaded the final bullet and placed the weapon in its safe. Shifting on the bed, he reached out for the dresser. Feeling along its top edge, he let his fingers trail down until they touched the drawer pull. He tugged it open and put the gun inside, careful to push the drawer shut again so he wouldn't bump into it later.

He'd learned to do things like that. If any good came from all this, he was much neater now, he thought cynically.

He turned to Rodney with a smile he knew hung false. "So, what can I do for you?"

He heard Rodney shift, could see his form move in the darkness. John knew he wasn't making this easy. He found he didn't particularly care.

"Dinner?" Rodney finally asked. "Teyla..." His voice trailed off and stopped.

"Nah," John said, cutting into the silence.

He could almost hear Rodney's frown. "You have to eat."

"I don't 'have to' much of anything anymore," John replied, a bit more sharply than he'd intended.

As silence fell again, he took pity on the man. He knew Rodney was only trying to help. "Sorry," he said, almost meaning it. "It's just that..." He stood from the bed and lifted his hands, shrugging slightly. "...I can't stand..." He let his voice trail off again, unable to put voice to his thoughts. People staring at him with sadness in their eyes, or worse.

There was a sharp intake of breath, and he knew Rodney got it.

"How 'bout I bring something back?"


The room flooded with light as Rodney left, plunging back into shadow as the door closed behind him.

After a moment, John took a careful step forward, one hand out slightly as he made his way toward the bathroom. In the darkness of the small space, he faced the mirror. Bracing himself, he turned the lights on, then back off angrily.

It didn't matter. The lights only made the haze brighter. He was still blind.


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