Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended; written without permission - that would be the "unauthorized" part of the title. I'm not sure yet if I'll use direct text from the show in later chapters or not, but if I do I'll make sure to mention at that point that it does not belong to me.
Author's Notes: This story is entirely Sheridan-centric (obviously), so reader beware of that. Reader also beware that I do intend to draw some biblical parallels in this story, not the least of which is the antidote in this first chapter, so if it bothers you that parts of this story scream SHERIDAN IS A 23RD CENTURY JESUS OMG, then probably this is not for you. This is one big, giant writing experiment in voice and point of view and foreshadowing and... probably some other stuff. A sub-sub heading of this story would be "NHPW throws a bunch of stuff in a big pot called John Sheridan's Life, lets it simmer and looks every now and then to make sure it's coming along OK."
Summary: Pretty much what the title says. In his much-later years, Sheridan writes his memoirs. The parts that are in first person are "text from the book." The parts that are in third person are stories to go along with said text, memories, moments from John's life (or, in the case of Chapter 1, before his life.)
Note on the name of John's mother: I don't think there's any canonical account of John's mom's name, but the book adaption of In the Beginning gives her name as Nancy. As the movie is accepted canon, I ran with this.
The Book of John: An Unauthorized Autobiography of a Fictional Megalomaniac
Chapter 1 – Genesis
"And the government will be on his shoulders." – Isaiah 9:6
Human writers have an annoying habit. …Actually, they have several, but I speak now of one in particular. It is the "unauthorized biography." For generations, literary minds have recorded opinionated accounts of the lives of Humanity's greatest leaders under this heading, and they are entitled to do so as long as their records are not libelous and as long as, when written without the consent of their subject, they are titled in part as "unauthorized."
The trouble with this is that it gives the average Human reader – not to mention the galaxy at large – entirely too much credit. Many will not know what "unauthorized" means, precisely; many more simply will not care, and will take to heart 100 percent of what they read as true and factual, no mater how much it may taint their viewpoint of the biography's subject.
It is not with arrogance that I believe one – or, God help us, more – will be written about me. It is with disgust. I know that after my passing (please, Lord, let them wait until after I die) biographers, or those who fancy themselves as such, be they supporters of my controversial career decisions or not, will pick up their pens and the recorded historical accounts of the things I have done, and they will begin to write. They'll do some research, and for the things they don't understand, they will be creative. And so, here in these pages, I am doing what I refused beyond measure to do as a soldier – I am beating them to the punch. I will fire first.
This will not be the most riveting historical record of a life – but I assure you as much as I can, it will be true. It is my story, after all. And what better place to begin… than at the beginning.
The truth is that I am lucky to have been born at all. That I was conceived, that I drew my first breath on what my mother forever recounted as "the coldest day in the history of Iowa" (I have checked the Almanac; it was not) "after 17 hours of hard labor and not a single pain-relieving drug" (I can neither confirm nor deny this, but my father is known to have shaken his head regularly at this part of the story) is nothing short of a miracle.
I know most parents feel that way about their children. I am a father – I remember the feeling well. I say it of my own birth because the fact is that by 2214, my father had abandoned all hope that he and my mother would ever have children. The heartbreaking losses they had suffered in their attempts to start a family had driven the two of them apart, driven him to an emotional breaking point – and my father was many things, but he was not an emotional man.
When I was old enough to understand the gravity of the situation – that is to say, I had lived and lost a little myself – my father told me this story, recalling it as "divine intervention." As for me… now, with my life-years dwindling and all of the facts presented to me through pain and experience, I can speculate on the truth. I do not believe any divinity stepped in on my behalf, but rather an ancient, overly parental and admittedly manipulative race who knew what I was to become before I was even a sparkle in my father's eye.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. So… in 2214, my father, David, was a mid-level bureaucrat; my mother, Nancy, was a teacher. Humans had been space-fairing for only about 60 years. To us – foolish children, playing tag among the stars – it seemed a long, long time. It would be another 30 years, and I a grown man, before the universe saw fit to put us in our place. In this time we were still naïve, still self-assured of our superiority, and so my father had no reason to believe it was anything less than fate that sent an "angel" to speak to him, to impart his patience and, finally, to orchestrate a miracle and bring him a son.
David and Nancy Sheridan were not a particularly happy couple. They had wed five years prior and in that time had suffered half again as many miscarriages. The last one had been the hardest. They'd had two first trimester losses in early 2213. When they conceived again in June and Nancy carried to three months, and then four, they'd thought, foolishly, that the child would be carried to term. Instead, Nancy had gone into pre-term labor and delivered a stillborn baby girl in late October.
Nancy still desperately yearned for a child. David couldn't bear another loss, nor could he bear the physical and emotional consequences that rained down on his wife's mind and body every time they lost a child. The result was an ever-increasing void between them. David spent more time at his office. Nancy invariably sought the comfort of a close male friend – a new friend, who seemed to come out of nowhere following their most recent loss. They fought on the weekends. The "D" word began to present itself with more and more ferocity.
It was a cold, snowy night in February 2214, and David was working late. He didn't need to work late for his job… he needed to work late for his sanity. He couldn't go home. He didn't know what to do with his wife anymore. Sometimes, she was affectionate, almost the exact same woman he'd married. Sometimes he arrived home and she was beside herself with grief; still others, he came home to an empty house, and Nancy wouldn't return until the early hours of the morning. And yet, tonight, for the third night in a row, there was a young administrative aide at his office door telling him quite simply to do just that. "Go home," he said. "It is late."
His sentence construction was odd, but David thought he detected a bit of an accent, and so he guessed English was not this man's first language. Politely, he took off his glasses and smiled in the dim light of his desk lamp. "I'll go home when I'm finished," he replied.
There was a long pause. Then, "You are finished. Go home."
"I beg your pardon?" He inquired of the aide. "I'd never even seen you around here before a few days ago; you have no authority to tell me what I should and should not do with my time. Who are you, anyway?"
A nod from the aide. "An excellent question." And David simply stared, befuddled. How was he to respond to that? "Who… are you?"
Now – David was trying to work out why it was that he felt annoyed. It wasn't that work of any great import was getting shoved aside for this pointless conversation. It was more the intrusion on his solitude and, to a point, his personal life that he resented. "I'm David Sheridan," he responded simply. "Who are you?"
"David Sheridan," the aid echoed, and David admitted to himself at that point that he felt more than a little bit creeped out. He hoped there were more people in the building than just himself and this aide. For all he knew, he started to realize, this was no aide at all, and was simply a serial killer who'd broken in and was about to tear him limb from limb. "Yes. That is the right question." He nodded again, slowly, as if confirming something for himself. "Your wife will need you."
That was enough. "I don't need you to tell me my business." Why was he even continuing this conversation? He couldn't be sure. He would never be sure, in the months and years to come as he looked back on it. "My wife does not need me. She's fine. She'll be fine… without me." Somehow, saying it aloud to a complete stranger seemed like a good idea. It was practice. He was convincing himself, bit by bit, of the truth… that his marriage was crumbling, and that it would soon fail.
"She wishes… a child." Now the aide stepped into the room. He looked harmless and wore the right security badge for an entry-level admin. But he knew too much. Something wasn't right. And yet… David's uneasiness had faded. He was still confused, to say the least, but that this stranger knew so much was intriguing, not frightening.
"Do you know my wife?"
His mind scrambled for details. "Are you… Paul?"
Anger, now. "Are you sleeping with my wife?"
"No. She needed someone, as you do. She talks. I listen."
It was beginning to feel like a game of 20 questions he couldn't possibly win. David threw up his hands. "What do you want, huh? What do you want from me?"
There was no response. Paul seemed almost taken aback by the question. "She wishes a child," he repeated at last. "She will have a child."
"By another man," David responded with a frustrated shake of his head. "We've suffered enough on that road."
There was another long pause. "She will have a child." Paul was like a broken recording device, stuck on a single message, and yet David was unable to grasp the meaning behind it all. Was this a dream? It must be, he thought. I must have conked out at my desk, and this must certainly be a dream. "You will suffer no more loss. But your son…" Paul trailed off, as though realizing he had said too much.
"My… my son?" The word felt alien on his lips. Not just a child… a son. "What about my son? Are you saying that he will suffer?"
Paul walked toward the door. "He will need big shoulders," he responded vaguely without looking back. "Go home."
David stared after him for a long moment.
He stayed another hour but was unable to keep his focus on his work. His mind drifted to Paul, and to Nancy… he wondered what the two of them talked about. Was Paul always so odd? A son… he'd said they'd have a son. He shouldn't know that. There was no reason he would know that; even if he was a telepath, he wouldn't be able to predict the future.
On these thoughts, he gave up and went home.
Two full months would pass, and slowly the Sheridans would rebuild their relationship. David convinced himself he had, indeed, fallen asleep at his desk that February night, and the encounter with Paul in his office had only been a dream, a voice of his subconscious who truly loved his wife agreeing that he should give it one more shot. By the time they conceived in April, this was what he truly believed.
They waited. They waited every day for a month, two, three, four… five… for the life within Nancy's womb to be snatched from them. They refused to decorate a nursery. David formed no connection with the child, even after it was confirmed to be a son, just as Paul had predicted. He carried fear in his heart every day, jumped every time his office phone rang, afraid it would be the call from Nancy – "I need you to take me to the hospital. Something is wrong." But that call never came.
Six months. Seven. Eight. Even as delivery drew near, there was a part of David that believed the child would be delivered full-term and stillborn, that they would not take a son home from the hospital with them; that this baby would not live to see the light of day.
And then, for the first time in nearly a year, Paul appeared at his office door. David jumped, startled; he hadn't heard footsteps approach. "And so… it begins."
"So you know, then." After the initial shock, he didn't retreat from Paul's strange manner of conversation. There was no doubt what he was talking about.
"Yes." A nod of confirmation. Paul moved into the room… glided, really, as though he wasn't being carried by footsteps, but rather by a slow-moving walkway made for him alone. "What will you call the child?"
Names. They'd barely discussed names. For two people who believed in their heart of hearts that the child would not survive delivery, names were out of the question. No… they hadn't settled on a name at all. "I… I don't know."
It had an air of finality to it, as though it were a proclamation with no room for discussion. "I… really don't…" He shrugged. "We'd always said that if we had a son…" Why am I telling you this?... "He would carry my name."
"Your legacy will be attended to." There it was again – a statement of fact, as though he knew things he had no business knowing.
"I don't understand."
"Good." He turned and left.
David never saw Paul again.
But his child, his son, was born three days later, on a very cold day in January 2215… a healthy baby boy, and as they had not discussed names, and the only viable option on short notice had been provided by the mysterious stranger, it came to pass that the child was named John, and he did leave the hospital a living, breathing, tiny, dependent, helpless being, full of life and promise.
And so, indeed, it begins.