Flipping the coin
Summary: He didn't know what he should do…
Season/Sequel: season 1, part of my No Matter What series
Spoilers: Anything in the series, Rising part 1 (1-01)
Archives: my website, others ask please, I never refuse
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: This fic is part of the No Matter What series and is set during Rising.I've written this fic mainly to explain why John left for Atlantis even with Abby in the equation. Many thanks to my fantastic beta, Jaclyn.
You have a go !
The sun had set a long time ago.
He didn't know for how long he was sitting there, but one thing was sure, the sun was still a few hours from setting. He had flipped the coin, hoping that it would help him make his decision, but it hadn't worked. He still had no clue of what he should do.
A part of him was telling him to forget all about it, that it was a crazy idea. But another part of him wanted to go because people were finally showing an interest in him, because he could be more useful there than in Antarctica. And for the moment, that last part was winning. That didn't last long though, because right after he thought about accepting the offer, his daughter's face came to the front of his mind.
If he were to accept the offer, Doctor Elizabeth Weir, the woman who would be the leader of the expedition, had warned him that it would probably be a one-way trip. And he couldn't leave Abby behind. Sure, she wasn't alone, she had her mother and godmother, and he couldn't say he saw her that often these past few months, but still, he didn't want to abandon her.
He knew that feeling of abandonment way too well, and he didn't want his daughter to feel that. Not if he could help it.
But again, he could be of help in this expedition. Oh, he wasn't arrogant enough to think that the expedition couldn't be without him, not like that Canadian scientist whose name he had forgotten, but Weir had made him understand that he could make the difference. It seemed that he wasn't the only one with a mutant gene, but he possessed one of the strongest occurrences of it. Lucky me, he thought, snorting.
At least, General O'Neill had given him more time to think about it than the trip from the outpost to McMurdo.
John licked his lips, unsure of how to breach the subject. Knowing that being straightforward would be for the best, he opened the channel between him and the General.
"Sir, I wanted to tell you…"
"If you don't have an answer for me, Sheppard, I don't want to hear it."
"I don't, Sir, but I want to explain. Would the situation have been different, I might have already given you an answer, but it's not."
"Spill," Jack said, and John knew that he couldn't take more time.
"I have a child, Sir. I can't take the liberty of not thinking about her. I may not be with her mother, but she's still my daughter."
"How old is she?" Jack asked, surprising both the Major and himself.
"She'll turn three next week. With me being there, it's been months since I've last seen her, but I'll be there for her birthday. I wonder if she'll remember me, though."
"Don't worry, she will. You're her Dad."
John nodded, still a bit unsure, but he guessed that he'd soon know.
"You know what, Sheppard? Take a few days to think about it. Consider everything, the pros and the cons, and then call the SGC when you have your answer. The expedition leaves in three weeks, I expect an answer by the end of next week."
"And if you turn it down, I'll be sure that Doctor Weir understands why, and we'll have a job for you at the SGC. We can always use men like you."
"Thank you, Sir. But, please Sir, don't say anything to Doctor Weir, yet. I want to be able to explain myself when the time comes. If that's okay with you, Sir."
"It is. I won't say a thing. But whatever's your answer, tell her."
John didn't answer, unsure of what to say. Only a handful of people knew about Abby; it wasn't like he was ashamed from her, it was far from that, actually, but most people didn't need to know, and for the moment, he didn't think Elizabeth needed to know. So he just keep silent, hoping that the General would drop the subject altogether. And he did.
"So, Sheppard. Do you like the Simpsons?"
End of Flashback
As he came to think about it, John was quite surprised that the General had been so understanding. Before they took off, he had made it clear that he had wanted an answer. But then, he didn't have all the facts. Hearing that he had a child had definitely changed his mind, and John didn't regret telling him.
Not that the extra time had helped for the moment.
He hadn't talked to Clare about it. To anyone, he would say that he hadn't found the right time to, yet, but to himself he could admit that he hadn't tried. He wanted to take his decision first, and then he'd tell her. Not because he thought that she might try and change his mind, he knew she wouldn't, even knowing that he might never see their daughter again; she knew his work was important to him. No, he just needed to know where he stood before talking to her.
And for the moment, he didn't know.
He was torn between staying on Earth for his daughter, and accepting what could possibly be the job of his life. While at any other time, he would have chosen his daughter, even if he wasn't living with her, over any job, this job was different. Strangely enough, he felt that he should just accept the offer, that even though right now it was a one-way trip, they'd still find a way to come back one day. He wanted to trust Elizabeth's words about that, to return the trust she seemed to have already placed in him, even after having read his file.
But again, he thought about his daughter. What if he indeed came back but years later? Would she reproach him for abandoning her? It wasn't what he wanted.
He flipped the coin one more time, and it still gave him the same answer. What were the odds of that happening? Maybe that meant that was what he should do. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind of everything, everything but the matter at hand. Weighing once more the pros and cons, he finally knew what he should do. He should follow his gut, just like he always did, and since Elizabeth had told him everything, his gut were telling him the same thing.
Standing up, he went back to Clare's car. She was probably worrying over him by now. He had told her he needed time to think, but hadn't told her why. That was hours ago.
After a ten minute drive, he turned the car into the driveway. Immediately, the door opened, and Clare walked towards him. Sighing, he turned off the engine and got out of the car.
"I'm sorry, I should have called," John said and she nodded in answer.
"Why don't you go tell Abby goodnight while I reheat your dinner?"
"She's not sleeping yet?"
"I hope she is, but when I put her to bed, she said she'll wait till you come back."
"I'm sorry," he repeated.
"I know. I think we need to talk, right?"
They entered the house and he went up the stairs to Abby's bedroom. The door was ajar and when he pushed it, he saw that she had already fallen asleep. He smiled and sat by the bed, making as little noise as possible. Brushing a strand of hair from her face, he leaned to kiss her forehead.
"Daddy…?" she said in a sleepy voice, her eyes barely opened.
"Hey, Sweetie. I'm sorry I didn't come back sooner. Now, go back to sleep, I promise that tomorrow, we'll spend the day together."
She nodded in answer, her eyes already closed, and seconds later she had gone back to sleep. Pressing one last kiss on her cheek, he left the room and joined Clare in the kitchen.
He took a seat in front of the plate she had set for him while she sat opposite him. He took a few bites of the food before looking towards her.
"I'm going on a new assignment."
"So no more Antarctica? That's great!" she replied, a huge smile on her face, but when she saw that he didn't smile back, she sobered up. "You're going to a war zone, right?"
"No. At least, I don't think so. Look, I can't tell you much about it, I'm not allowed to, but I'll be abroad for a while, a long while. Probably with no means to contact you and Abby."
"You've been ordered to go to a place where you can't have any contacts with your daughter?" she asked, incredulous.
"Not exactly. They put the offer on the table for me to take, because apparently I'm needed there. I've just made the decision to go. You know the situation I'm in because of that black mark…"
"And it was too good of a opportunity to pass. I can understand, John. You're worth better than Antarctica. But you'll have to explain it to Abby."
"I know. So, you agree with this?"
"I'm not your wife, John…"
"But you're the mother of my child," he interrupted.
"Maybe, but you're the only one who can make this kind of decision."
"I know. This is why I've waited until now to tell you. And you know, maybe I'll be able to contact you, if not immediately, in a few months time I hope I'll be able to."
"I hope too. Not for me, but for Abby. When are you leaving?"
"I don't know exactly. I have to call General O'Neill tomorrow to tell him I accept the offer, and I guess he'll give me the details. Though I know I will be leaving in around two weeks."
"Then I do hope that unless you're needed there before, you'll spend that time here."
"Well, I'd probably have to be there a few days before the departure, but otherwise, yes I'll stay here."
"Good," she said, just as the front door opened.
"Men!" Dinah exclaimed as she dropped her bag and keys on the counter. "Remind me again why I'm not gay?"
"Because you love men way too much," John replied with a smile.
"Yeah, right. But sometimes, I wonder if it's enough of a reason."
"What did he do?" Clare asked.
"You should ask what he didn't do. He didn't pay for the restaurant, he didn't hold the door for me, that one I could excuse, he didn't let me talk during the whole evening. And I'll stop there because it goes on and on. Oh, actually yes, he did something: he tried to take me back to his place."
"Ok, give me his address," John said, already standing up; Dinah was his daughter's godmother and Clare's best friend and he wouldn't let some guy go with it.
"It's ok, I took care of it."
"What did you do?" Clare asked, her face already in her hand.
"Let's just say that I got to practice my right hook, and that he'll probably have a black eye for a few days."
"Way to go!"
"Don't encourage her," Clare warned him, but he didn't sober up.
"I should just become gay. You want to be gay with me?" she turned towards Clare with a puppy face. "And no you can't watch."
"You're no fun," John scowled at her.
"Anyway, there would be nothing to watch. I love you Dinah, but I love men way too much, and you know you do too."
"Yeah, I know, but sometimes I think we'd be better without them."
"Not you, of course, John. So what's up?"
John looked at Clare and then proceeded to tell everything to Dinah. Even though she didn't look that happy, she still supported his decision, knowing that it had been hard for him to choose.
Before he went to sleep that night, John stopped by his daughter's bedroom and watched her sleep for a few minutes.
"I love you, Abby," he whispered. "Never forget that. I may be far away from you, but it doesn't mean that I will stop loving you. I'll try to come back as soon as I can, though it may take a while. But you'll be with Mommy and Dinah, and they'll take great care of you, as they always have."
Unbeknownst to him, Clare and Dinah were by the door, listening to him talking to Abby. They both knew how hard it was for him to leave Abby, even if he knew that they were here for her. But they knew he'd do what was good for him, what was needed of him, and in the end, that was what really mattered.