hasida (hasida) wrote in stargate_vegas,
hasida
hasida
stargate_vegas

While the Candle Still Burns (part 3)

Title: While the Candle Still Burns (sequel to“Lonely Man of Faith” and to “I said in my Haste, all Men are Liars”. )
Author: hasida
Episode and type: tag to Vegas (spoilers for Outcast, Enemy at the Gate, Sanctuary, some SG1)
Rating: PG-13
Categories: gen
Characters: John Sheppard, David Sheppard, a little McKay
Warnings: (brief) character death, apocafic
Wordcount: 6, 494
Notes: This is an AU of my Vegas tag AU explored in“Lonely Man of Faith”. Will make most sense if you read that first. An AU sequel or possible AU of “I said in my Haste, all Men are Liars”. I guess in theory that could make this an AU of an AU of an AU. The three stories work as an extended trilogy tag to Vegas. I blame this all on McKay and the rip in space-time.



Back to Part 1 

On to Part 4 

Part iii

 

By the time contact has been renewed with Earth John decides that he ought to make the most of his unexpected fresh start.

 

Besides, he wants to test the powers that be, see just how much freedom he really has.

 

“I forgave him long ago” says the woman’s voice in his head.

 

He fingers the little silver cross and brings up the issue of some unfinished personal business he could use to take care of.

 

McKay raises an eyebrow but manages to persuade the powers that be to let him return to Earth on the Apollo.

 

In his previous life they put a tracking device on his car.

 

This time McKay reminds him there’s one under his skin.

 

Sheppard isn’t sure whether it’s a matter of trust or his estimated value to the programme.

 

Somewhere out there is a grave with John Sheppard’s name inscribed on the tombstone and the fragmented, charred remains of a Wraith in it, buried beside Patrick Sheppard in the Sheppard family plot.

 

(Jackson’s suggestion, what with Ascension leaving no physical body to bury).

 

Somewhere out there is a brother John Sheppard hasn’t spoken to in so many years he finds it hard to conjure up the man’s adult voice in his mind’s ear.

 

That’s how he finds himself in his new dress blues, standing on the doorstop of an impressive Virginia home, his mother’s necklace in one pocket, small overnight bag in the trunk of his rental, just in case.

 

He thinks of sinners and the Road to Damascus, eyes being opened to redemption.

 

He thinks all these thoughts in his mother’s voice.

 

For the umpteenth time he mentally whacks himself upside the head and wonders what the hell he is doing here, what illogical sense of duty to an almost stranger has him travelling across the universe just so he can be here in person for one of the most awkward moments of his life.

 

It takes a further 10 minutes of concerted effort for Sheppard to summon the courage to ring the bell and when the door is opened by a clean cut man in a preppy button down shirt and khakis John almost mumbles that he has made a mistake with the address.

 

He’ed half expected to be met by the imposing figure of his father.

 

His late father.

 

Disoriented he just stands there, waiting.

 

John Sheppard can see that David Sheppard is about to dismiss him with a “Don’t you Air Force types have anything better to do than to…” when Dave’s eyes go wide with shock and he turns a very sickly white.

 

For a second John is amused that Dave is the one looking ghostly.

 

David opens his mouth and for once in his life has no words.

 

John lifts his head, looks up at David with a hope and optimism he hasn’t believed in for years, looks his brother in the eye and smiles at him for the first time in far too long.

 

“I believe I have some explaining to do”                             

 

Well, as much as the cobbled together cover story O’Neill gave him will allow.

 

Maybe this isn’t quite the existence he would have chosen, but as second chances go, he’ll take it over nothing; beggars can’t be choosers after all.

 

He feels a faint breeze ruffle his hair, nudging him gently over the threshold into his brother’s home.

 

The conversation isn’t quite going as planned.

 

Well, as well as anyone could plan a conversation based on the premise that you aren’t as dead as your brother had been lead to believe by a top secret Air Force programme’s civilian chief scientist.

 

He had thought he’d have to convince Dave that it really was him.

 

He hadn’t banked on Dave’s actual response.

 

“You let me think you were dead for nearly two and half years and now you show up

like it’s nothing?”

 

John looks at his shoes.

 

Out the window.

 

At the liquor cabinet.

 

“What is this, some cruel practical joke to get back at me, at Dad, for being written out of Dad’s will?”

 

Ouch.

 

Dave isn’t finished.

 

“You know he didn’t want to, always regretted what happened, but he figured it might be the only way to get you to understand.”

 

“Family isn’t just about benefits, it’s about obligations”

 

John chews his lips.

 

Looks at the ceiling.

 

Digs his hands deeper into his pockets.

 

John tries to explain, he really does.

 

“I know I haven’t exactly behaved well in recent years, hell, I haven’t even been around in any year that could be called recent…”

 

“I know I was a prize jerk the last time I saw Dad”

 

Dave looks at him, almost composed, but John can see the hand clenching and unclenching by Dave’s side.

 

Dave is seething.

 

Well damn it, he is trying here.

 

And it hadn’t exactly been all John’s fault that last time either.

 

Not by a long shot.

 

After so many years of telling everyone, telling himself, that he doesn’t care, it’s a shock to realise just how much he does.

 

It hurts to think Dave believes he can be that vindictive.

 

Hurts to think that Dave believes he is being vindictive at all about this whole thing.

 

He hadn’t even known of their father’s death until McKay’s briefing prior to this little Earthside jaunt.

 

Mckay had given John a cover story for his reinstatement in the USAF.

 

And John’s sudden return to life.

 

His return to Earth.

 

His father is dead.

 

Well how should John have known?

 

John hadn’t even bothered to tell his family he’d been kicked out of the service all those years ago.

 

Couldn’t bear to think of the vindicated look on Dad’s face.

 

Well, at least his father had been spared that much.

 

It’s not like the Air Force is a message forwarding service for those it dishonourably discharges and he hasn’t exactly left Dave with any other means of contacting him.

 

And for most of the last two years and a bit there hadn’t really even been a way for anyone on Earth to contact him.

 

And now, how is he going to explain the missing years?

 

His down and out Vegas years.

 

His death saving the world.

 

His miraculous unexplainable rebirth in another galaxy.

 

John is trying to decide whether to cut his losses and run or throw the heavy cut crystal glass at Dave when he is saved by the sound of an insistent phone ringing from Dave’s office.

 

 “I have to take this” is all Dave mutters as he practically sprints out of the room.

 

 

The call from the SGC comes as John is awkwardly nursing a glass of water amid the luxurious splendour of the Sheppard home.

 

Dave is still out of the room, taking care of some urgent business.

 

(see, he isn’t the only one whose work intrudes on family)

 

Without thinking John jumps up from the couch and barges into the home office, snatching the phone from his startled brother.

 

“Go get Laura and the kids, don’t bother to get anything else and come with me right now!”

 

Dave looks at him like he thinks John has really lost it this time.

 

Maybe he has.

 

In the short time John has been in the house he hasn’t even had time to give Dave the whole apology schpiel he’s been running through his mind on the way here, and John is already grabbing Dave by the shoulders and physically launching him towards the family room where he can hear young voices giggling over cartoons.

 

“Hurry, we don’t have much time!”

 

He sees panic in Dave’s eyes, and it takes him a vital moment too long to realise that it isn’t because Dave thinks the apocalypse is imminent but because he is frightened of his crazy, delusional brother.

 

The one who has just come back from the grave.

 

Too late he is surprised from behind by Dave’s private security team and tackled to the ground.

 

His brother has a private security team.

 

That’s new.

 

His instincts are screaming at him to fight back.

 

His logic reasons that it will only make matters worse.

 

Dave is looming over him with a mix of sadness and pity on his face. Maybe a hint of disgust, but John thinks Dave probably always looks at him that way, no matter what he has done.

 

“You need help John. All those war movies with the screwed up post-traumatic hero, I never quite imagined dealing with it up close and personal”

 

Dave shakes his head, like he should have known, should have guessed that John wouldn’t have come home unless he was a few cards short of a full deck.

 

Not exactly the impression John had hoped to make but if he doesn’t get through to Dave fast it really isn’t going to make much difference who believes what because they’ll all be dead or good as.

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