The Unauthorized Biography of Jonathan Sheppard by AndromedaMarine
Author's Note: References to "Heartbeat" are intended as this is a story from Rodney's perspective. Also, most chapter title names are also used as story title names in the Generation Series.
Chapter One: Beginning the Story
I've known John Sheppard for over sixty years. Now, looking back on all that time, I can't say I've ever really understood him. But that's exactly what made him unique. If there's one person on this Earth – or perhaps in Pegasus, on one of the many worlds there – who really understood him it would be his wife, Elizabeth. I was his friend, and maybe he would call me his brother. Sixty years of friendship that started on a lonely, icy continent at the southern pole of Earth: Antarctica.
A major at the time, John Sheppard loved flying. His only dislike about his station was the cold. But solitude, helicopters and open land was all he really needed. He couldn't find that anywhere else in the world. I met John when he flew General Jack O'Neill out from McMurdo Base. At the time he knew nothing about what my work even pertained to – he was just a curious pilot whose passenger told him not to touch anything. Yet touch he did. I still remember Jack's expression when he saw John sitting in that glowing, blue chair.
"I thought I told you not to touch anything," Jack had said, glowering at the young pilot.
"I didn't," John returned, his eyes still wide with fright as the chair glowed around him. "I – I just sat down."
It was the first time I had ever seen him – but it was clear he was meant to sit in that chair, of all things. It was clear that he would join our journey to another galaxy. For a moment I stared at him, wondering what he could do. His was the strongest gene I'd ever come across, and it was important that I know how much he could control. God knows Beckett was a failure; that man could never keep his cool when sitting in that weapon. "Major, think about where we are in the solar system," I tried out for size, wondering what would happen.
Suddenly it was like I was standing below the solar system looking upwards, into the rotation of the nine planets. I knew I couldn't keep my jaw off the floor, and I was pretty sure that after the display Elizabeth would beg the general to let him go with us. "Did I do that?" he asked, and I wanted to laugh, to tell him that yes, he did, but I couldn't. I could just stare.
It took a few moments for Dr. Jackson to come to his senses. "Dear God," he breathed, smiling up at the hologram. Just moments before he had revealed to us that he had discovered the address to Pegasus, the one thing for which he'd been searching for years. He smiled, knowing that his dream had finally come true. Little did he know that it would take him four tries to get there.
I watched him leave, wondering what his answer to Elizabeth's question would be. We certainly wanted him on the expedition, but the need outweighed the want. I certainly couldn't continue forcing Carson into the chair, not after seeing the display that hovered over our heads when John sat there. I saw him two weeks later, wandering the halls of the SGC. I smiled, glad that he had accepted our offer to go to another galaxy.
For John, Antarctica had been the absolute beginning of his life. He'd lost his life at least three times, but for some reason nobody would let him move on – he was always saved. If he were any other guy in any other situation my first words to him would have sounded idiotic. But whether we liked it or not we were going on a one-way trip to another planet in another galaxy, to unknown dangers and threats, and to possible death. If we never returned at least we would have each other – the big, international family that came to Atlantis.
It took many months of living and working with John for me to finally call him by his first name. At first, to me he'd been nothing more than a military commander, and since I didn't have much respect for the military other than the fact that they would save my ass once in a while, I didn't call him a friend either. What finally brought me to my senses and the reality that was now our lives was when the Genii infiltrated Atlantis during the storm, taking Dr. Weir and myself hostage as John prowled the remainder of the city, eliminating most of the threat. I kicked myself over how naive I'd been about the guy who'd thought of himself as my friend ever since I'd been an idiot and put that personal shield on.
Now, when I reflect on his life (not mine), he'd shown his true friendship to both of us, more to Elizabeth than myself, when he took the risk and shot Kolya before he could drag our leader through the gate. I remember glancing at the two when I pestered Carson about the scratch on my arm. She was shaken by the trauma, and then John had held her close. I tried to look away, but I knew I couldn't. At that moment they sort of bonded, which sounds strange coming from me, the pessimistic, arrogant know-it-all, and owner of the smartest brain in three galaxies.
I knew I had no business interfering in their relationship that steadily got stronger, but I knew that I had horrible timing and more than once I walked in on them. I never saw them kiss, no, but just moments when Elizabeth needed to be stronger, and she could only get it by being with him. Mushy, I know, but sixty years later it all makes sense. I was his best man, remember? I know I do.
The only thing that was worse than losing Carson was almost losing Elizabeth. I knew what my job was when my leader ran out of the Jumper, and I didn't want to do it. I heard pain and agony in John's voice when he told me to hit that kill switch, and I heard the relief and the worry in his voice when it didn't work. Thank god it didn't. When we had to leave her on Asuras my heart was pounding with a fury that felt like it wanted to escape, but it probably didn't compare to the way John's was pounding, desperately trying to flee the confines of his chest to be with Elizabeth. He didn't need to say anything for me to know that it was the hardest thing he did. He confessed it to me, too, after we got back to Atlantis and landed her.
He told me then that he'd seen her pain when she looked at him, the realization and her love. And then I had been his friend, his support and I prodded him into manning up to save her. I knew that he loved her; I even used it against him to make him see what I had in our first year. I was terrified of standing up to him, the colonel who didn't have any trouble with intimidating people. I was proud that I made him see the truth, but I was worried that he'd gallivant off in search of her.
But when I watched him hold her against him as we flew home, I knew there was more underneath than what he was showing. He was my friend, and I'd been such for him. They were my family.
Antarctica was the beginning of our journey, but for John it was more than that. Many people who personally know me would say that I'm not being myself. But when John sat in the chair, his life began.