Challenge from the Gateworld Whump Thread (story has no whump though... LOL): The challenge this week is to pretend you are John Sheppard and you are being interviewed by Elizabeth for the Expedition.

Here are your questions to answer.

#1 What is your greatest strength?
#2 What is your greatest weakness?
#3 What have you learned from your mistakes?
#4 What motivates you?
#5 What do people most often criticize about you?
#6 Are you willing to travel? (Bwahahaha)
#7 What can you contribute to this expedition?

You can write this as a fic and set the scene OR you can just answer the questions in the way you think Sheppard would answer them.

No word limit!

I chose to write a fic.

The Interview

John absently tapped his pen on the table and stared at the piece of paper in front of him. For a moment, he felt like he was back in college, taking a test he wasn't sure he'd pass. He pushed his chair back and stood, walking across the conference room to the large windows overlooking the SGC Gate room. His gaze focused on the gate, dark and seemingly innocent looking, but three days of reading SGC mission reports had taught him otherwise.

He'd known about the Stargate Program now for a grand total of ten days, and he still couldn't wrap his head around all of it. Eleven days ago, if someone would've told him that the US military was conducting missions to other worlds in the Milky Way galaxy, he would've told them they were crazy, but now….

John sighed. A one way mission to another galaxy. What the hell was he thinking by saying yes? One side of his mouth twitched into a half smile. What the hell else was he going to do? Freeze in Antarctica until he missed his next promotion and was drummed out of the Air Force? Even a one way trip into the unknown beat that. If he never came back, if they never had contact with Earth again, he'd never be discharged… and he'd never have to trade flying missions that made a difference, with flying that didn't.

He looked over his shoulder at the piece of paper and pen waiting for him on the table. He sighed deeply and returned to his chair. Picking up the pen, he re-read the first question, not that he needed to, he'd read them all a dozen times already.

#1: What is your greatest strength?

He frowned. Seriously? He felt like he was interviewing for a business civilian job, and not an intergalactic expedition. His expression turned cynical. Then again, what questions would be right for an intergalactic expedition interview?

He shook the pen a couple times and started writing.

I don't blindly follow orders. I understand and recognize the value of the chain of command, but if something isn't right, it's not, regardless of who is saying it. I've watched guys blindly follow orders and die for it. That's not me. I'm also experienced. I don't know what experience you need for intergalactic expeditions, but I've spent my career in combat, not behind a desk. That has to count for something.

He stared at his answer. It was blunt, but he'd never been one to sugar coat anything. No sense in beating around the bush, when you can go right through the middle of it with a lawnmower. Besides, he didn't have anything to lose, so why put up a façade he'd never keep? Ass kissing wasn't his style and he'd be exactly who he was on this expedition. Better that Weir knew that now, rather than later.

His mind touched on his 'experience' and memories haunted him. He pushed them aside. They were part of the reason he'd ended up in Antarctica in the first place and for a moment, he wondered what sort of exile he'd land in if he was forced to disobey orders on this mission….

His eyes settled on the next question.

#2 What is your greatest weakness?

John sat back in his chair and thought for a moment. Weaknesses? Yeah, he had them. An officer in combat that didn't recognize his weaknesses was dead quick enough.

Pursing his lips, he started writing again.

Sometimes, I don't follow orders. I know what's right and what's wrong and I base my decisions on that, but I don't always see when there's more than one right answer. In combat, you have to make split second decisions, there's no time to hesitate, but not every order is like that.

He scowled and tapped his pen on the desk again. It was a bitter pill to swallow, and a hard point to admit, but he'd hard and fast decided that he was going to be blunt with this questionnaire, and that meant on every answer.

He read the next question.

#3 What have you learned from your mistakes?

John's brows quirked. Don't fuck with The Man? He sighed. Probably not the kind of answer Weir was looking for. Unbidden, memories from Afghanistan came back to him and this time, he couldn't push them away.

The mission that landed him in Antarctica was not a mistake. He firmly believed that and no one would ever be able to convince him otherwise. But the ripple effects from his choice, he hadn't anticipated and some of them he regretted.

I've learned that for every hard decision, there are consequences. Some of them can be anticipated, some can't. So, if I'm going to make that choice, I need to look at the big picture and anticipate as many outcomes that will come from my choice as I can, and be damned sure I'm making the right decision, before I make it.

He rubbed his brow. Did he have decisions in his past that he regretted? Hell yes, it's hard not to. That's part of living. He re-read his answer and decided that it was probably the most sincere one he'd given so far. He never made an important decision lightly. And if he'd learned one thing about making hard decisions, it was to look at the big picture, as much as you could.

He read the next question.

#4 What motivates you?

"You gotta be kidding me," John groused. He rubbed his eyes, stood and walked over to a small table on the far side of the room. He grabbed a lukewarm carafe and poured himself a cup of coffee. Staring at the black, steaming liquid, he pondered the question. Saving my friends. That's a hell of a motivator…. He set down the cup without ever taking a sip and walked back to his chair. He grabbed his pen and started writing.

Making a difference. It's why I joined the Air Force and it's why I took Combat Search and Rescue training. I wanted to save guys and make a difference.

He put down the pen. It was a short, succinct answer, but he didn't feel it needed any embellishment whatsoever. His thoughts lingered on this intergalactic expedition… thing and he smiled slightly. In Antarctica, he felt like he'd lost purpose. Ferrying scientists and bureaucrats around hardly qualified as making a difference. He'd been asked, more than once, why he'd decided to join this expedition and while he'd come up with some sort of vague answer, deep down, he'd wondered too. But now, he thought he might have figured it out. Maybe, just maybe, he could make a difference again….

He read the next question.

#5 What do people most often criticize about you?

John chuckled. "Can I attach additional pages to answer that?" he asked quietly. It seemed to him that every commanding officer, general or senior officer that he got crossways of, and the list was extensive, came up with a new reason to criticize him. John's expression turned cynical once again. Usually, he had a few criticisms of his own to voice, not that his observations ever went over well.

Sighing deeply, he mentally stepped back and took a look at himself and what had been said.

I'm stubborn, especially when I'm right and they're not. I voice my opinions, whether their solicited or not, but when lives are at stake, I'll be damned if I let protocols get in the way. But while you're reading the criticism, read some of my other OER's. You might be surprised.

He couldn't help but add the last line and his pride kept him from removing it. Damn it, he'd made major. He must've done something right to get there. He thought Weir should think about that too. His gaze narrowed. Maybe she had. After all, he was sitting here answering these questions, instead of freezing his butt in Antarctica, wasn't he?

He looked at the next question.

#6 Are you willing to travel?

John chuckled. She had a sense of humor. There was hope for her yet. One thing he'd learned in being an officer and commanding other people was that you had to have a sense of humor. The officers that didn't, never lasted long.

Yes, but no more than one galaxy away. Anything further and we'll have to renegotiate my salary.

He chuckled again, and read the final question.

#7 What can you contribute to this expedition?

He drummed his fingers on the table for a minute before he started writing.

Experience. I listed it as a strength, and I meant it. I know most of the military contingent on this expedition is made up of SGC veterans, and I'm not, but I haven't spent my career behind a desk either. I've been in combat. Afghanistan, Somalia and other places I can't talk about. I know this is a peaceful civilian expedition, but the bottom line here is that you really don't know what you'll find on the other side of that Stargate. It might be peaceful and it might not. With the likelihood that there's no way back, you're going to need people that can handle themselves in any situation. If it all goes bad, you're going to need officers that can think on their feet and protect a bunch of civilians who don't know the front from the back of a gun.

You're going to need people like me.

He scratched his signature on the bottom of the piece of paper and slid it into its accompanying manila folder. He left the pen where it was, but took the folder and left the conference room, making a beeline for Weir's temporary office. He knocked on her closed door and didn't have to wait long for her permission to enter.

He walked into the office, closed the door behind him, turned and met gazes with her, carefully keeping his expression neutral.

Weir returned the favor. Her eyes flicked down to the folder briefly before returning to meet his gaze. "You finished?"

John smiled slightly. "Yep." He walked over to her desk and handed her the envelope. "I have to warn you," his expression taking on a slightly challenging look, "I was blunt."

Slowly, Weir smiled and she reached up, taking the folder from him. "I read your record, Major," she arched a brow, "I expected nothing less."

John cocked his head slightly. He hadn't expected her answer and wasn't sure how to reply. But in the face of Weir's friendly smile, he surprisingly wasn't worried. His gaze narrowed as he studied her for a moment. Not a lot of people could catch him off guard or keep him off balance, but she seemed to have a singular talent for it. At first, he'd seen nothing more than another bureaucrat, this one wearing the coat of a diplomat, but on a second and third look, John suspected there was a lot more to Doctor Elizabeth Weir than he'd first seen.

She set the folder down on her desk and picked up a pen. "I'm sure it'll be interesting reading."

John smiled. "Let me know if I need to start packing for McMurdo."

Her smile deepened. "I doubt it. Thank you, Major."

John took that as a dismissal and left her office. He paused in the hallway as he slowly closed the door behind him. He hoped she'd take his bluntness in stride, because for the first time in ten days, he really and truly wanted to be on this expedition.

Smiling, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked away.