So I wrote these and they're not really... in a state to go on AO3 yet, but I want to put it somewhere. It's from a really dark little series of thematically-linked snippets I'm working on about Sheppard. I feel like if I get three more done, I can do a Five Things, but I don't have three more yet and I have other shit I'm working on, but I can't close the window and put it away without posting some of it somewhere.
TW: suicidal ideation
The wind’s like a hairdryer tonight. John’s out on the roof, looking out over the darkening landscape. There’s a windbreak, an old bit of canvas they staked up to keep the dirt off the battered metal table they’ve dragged up there. It’s the smoking lounge, but nobody’s around to smoke anymore; all the guys that smoked are either rotated out or dead, by now. Last one died today, in Landstuhl, where he’d lingered for about a week with a brain injury and almost all his limbs blown off.
John flew that evac. It was a crazy bit of flying, coming in under fire and balancing one fucking wheel on a goddamn boulder and hovering low enough that they could haul the wounded and dead into the bird. He sort of wished he hadn’t pulled it off, though; it had been that one poor maimed bastard who lingered, plus four dead guys in component pieces, and if he’d taken his sweet time instead, Ruel wouldn’t have had to fucking suffer so long in the hospital. It wasn’t like he’d ever really regained consciousness, even. There had been no point to it.
John doesn’t smoke, but he has a lit cigarette between his lips anyway, in Ruel’s memory. There’s no booze here, so they all poured out Gatorade for him earlier. John’s a little dizzy from the nicotine, a little nauseated, but he’s going to finish this fucking cigarette anyway. It’s about the third he’s smoked in his life, and is definitely the last.
He’s cleaning his pistol to have something to do with his hands. It’s pitch-dark up here but he doesn’t need to see to do it— just getting the grit out, putting a fresh coat of oil in it. He reassembles it, packs away the cleaning kit, loads the magazine, and while he does he works pretty hard not to think about the divorce papers he’d just signed and put back in the mail today. He hadn’t said anything to anybody, there was nothing anybody could do and he doesn’t need the sympathy.
Sympathy doesn’t do a damn bit of good. She’s gone, and her last note was a mean one bitching him out for dragging his feet on those papers. For God’s sake, John, de Nile is in Egypt, not Afghanistan. Ha ha. Cute. He deserved that, though.
He wrote her a postcard, you were the best thing that ever happened to me, but he’s just burned it in the ashtray. No fucking point to sending it. What would it do, besides maybe making her feel even shittier? He’s caused her plenty of that, no need to pile it on.
He slots the magazine into its place and racks a bullet. The cigarette’s almost gone. He takes one more pull, lets the sickening rush hit, and stubs it out in the ashtray with the finely-flaked postcard remains. All that’s left now is the pistol, a solid and familiar, reassuring weight in his hands. He holds it for a long moment, turns it over. Thumbs back the hammer, slides the safety off. So much power in there. He knows precisely what one of those bullets will do to a human body, to a human skull; he’s shot people in the head with it before.
So easy. Nothin’ to it.
Wouldn’t feel a thing.
Shit, it’s tempting.
The barrel’s between his teeth before he’s really thought it out, and it’s thick, and the angle’s awkward, but there’s no doubt it would be pretty fucking effective like this, blow the whole back of his head right off instantly, no more fuss, no lingering on life support once the brainstem’s fucking obliterated.
Jesus Christ, he wants to do it.
But he hasn’t taken her off the paperwork yet, and she’s still listed as his next of kin. She’d get the call, and then she’d get the signed divorce papers with today’s postmark, and fucking Christ, John, could you be any more of a fucking piece of shit? What the fuck is wrong with you?
He pulls the gun carefully out of his mouth, slides the safety back on, thumbs the hammer back down to uncocked, puts the pistol down on the table. Yeah, real fucking nice, John. Just spit in her fucking face on your way out, because you didn’t do enough damage to her in all the years she put up with you.
Slow breath in, shaky breath out, elbows on knees, face in hands. Yeah, no, John, not like that. Not now. At least let the divorce go through, take her off the paperwork. It’s not her fault. Don’t make it her fault.
His gut untwists slowly, and he stands up, shoves the pistol back into the holster, picks up the ashtray and dumps the ashes out downwind. Fuck. He puts the ashtray back on the table and heads back to the rickety ladder, back down into the building where the others are playing cards.
He didn’t really give it a lot of thought, but sometimes the thought crossed John’s mind that hypothermia wasn’t actually such a bad way to go. He did a fair bit of hiking at McMurdo, enjoying the peace, the solitude, the astonishingly uplifting and breathtakingly stark beauty of Arctic nature. It was a private kind of communion, and it stirred him in ways he never would have been able to explain to anyone. It was somewhere along the same continuum as the shocking gorgeousness of Afghanistan, but it was actually quite a lot safer to wander alone here.
He knew this was career death. He’d been sent here to languish. They couldn’t whip up enough indignation to drum him out over Holland, or maybe they just didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of that kind of drama. No, they’d sent him here as a pretty clear message, telling him he didn’t matter. He had come here to drop entirely off the radar, and when it came time to move up or get out, there was nothing here that would give him any kind of footing to get promoted. So he’d languish, get passed over, and finally get booted for rank stagnation, and he’d be out on his ass with no pension and no glory and a pretty boring resume actually.
That was their end-game, and it was pretty easy to see where they were going with it. He drifted with it for a while, but somewhere, out on one of those hikes, the plan kind of coalesced without him ever really articulating it.
But he knew. One of these days, he was going to go out on a hike like this one, and he was going to leave behind all his survival gear, and he was just not going to come back. Fuck them. He was gonna cause a lot of hassle and paperwork for somebody, and he damn well wasn’t going to be around to sign off on any of it.
He liked it here. He was going to stay.
I dunno. Everyone cool seems to write in present tense; I can never manage it, but I keep trying.
The tidbit about Nancy on his paperwork has been headcanon for me for a really long time, but it's hard to work that in to casual conversation.
I wrote one with him and Rodney not-talking about it pretty early on in my SGA writing, but it doesn't fit in any of my current ones.
But the McMurdo one came to me just the other day and that's what started me writing them.