hasida (hasida) wrote in stargate_vegas,
hasida
hasida
stargate_vegas

While the Candle Still Burns (Parts 5 and 6)

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, OC, a little McKay
Warnings: 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 and 2
Back to  Part 3
Back to Part 4

 

 

Part v

 

The Alpha site was of course only meant to be for saving Earth’s best, brightest and most well connected.

 

Supposed to be.

 

That was before John accidentally hijacked a plane full of civilians to the most secure base in the country.

 

He is kind of glad he did.

 

To his mind it feels right that some ordinary everyday folks will be saved from Armageddon along with a bunch of big wigs and members of the Stargate programme.

 

John’s already been dishonourably discharged once, and besides, it is the end of the world, so he doesn’t think twice before yelling at the assembled brass.

 

“Isn’t the whole point of the SGC to protect all the people of Earth?”

 

“Not just those that actually know about the programme?”

 

John thinks General O’Neill secretly agrees with him, even if he does make a big stink about it when Sheppard insists the civilians be sent through too, now that the really important folks have been evacuated.

 

His biggest regret is that Dave and his family aren’t among them.

 

He tries to reassure himself that there was nothing more he could have done.

 

He doesn’t hear his mother’s voice in his head.

 

He wonders if he’s finally done something to lose her forgiveness.




 

John and a few SFs are racing back down the long grey corridors tinted red with the flashing alarm, the blaring clarion call ratcheting up the panic level of the civilians and scientists they are herding towards the gateroom.

 

He has no words of comfort to offer them, there really is nothing to say, he only hopes the practiced professionalism of his men conveys enough.

 

He sees Nate, Julie and their families stumbling along with the rest, baby in the front pack, a daughter holding each hand.

 

His mind wanders as his body goes automatically through the motions -

 

He teaches Julie to ride a horse and swing a golf club.

 

She teaches him her love of aircraft, space and all things flight related.

 

They spend hours ranging through the estate, climbing, riding, escaping from the rigid formality of self-important grown-ups at play.

 

Her dad is in the middle of a messy divorce.

 

His dad would have been except that his mother is terminally ill and Patrick Sheppard may be a lot of things but he has too much honour to allow himself to divorce a dying woman, even if the marriage has ended years ago.

 

Their dads spend a lot of time talking business and stocks and strategy, research and resources, global politics and oil shocks.

 

John wonders whether Gerald Taylor hams up the plummy English accent on purpose to make him more acceptable in his father’s circle.

 

For all their friendship, behind closed doors, sometimes even in public, Patrick Sheppard never quite forgets that Gerald Taylor  is a scholarship boy, despite his illustrious English private schools and his Oxford education.

 

Patrick is a Harvard man by tradition, Gerald by determination and charity, and while Patrick respects the drive and ambition of the man, he can’t help feeling superior.

 

Looking back, John wonders if this is what sowed the seeds of his estrangement from his dad.

 

The Air Force will be his by merit only.

 

His mind turns back to the present, to the motley group of civilians relying on him for salvation.

 

They’ve come to a stop in the gateroom, standing before him expectantly.

 

At this stage of life now that four year age gap is nothing of note, he and Julie are two adults, two equals.

 

He watches her: kids, husband, brother, sister-in-law, nieces, nephew.

 

A nicely put together life.

 

Part of him would be jealous except that it’s the end of the world and she is on his turf now.

 

He really wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

 

 

The evacuation is going smoothly right up until the moment the ‘gate takes a hit, power zapping crazily just as they are dialing it up to send the last group through.

 

It’s chaos in the gateroom, a terrified and confused bunch of civilians and a stressed military trying to make the best of a hell in a hand basket situation.

 

The Apollo is still cloaked in orbit, observing, guiding.

 

The odds are so hopeless that it was pointless risking her in battle.

 

She beams up the last group of civilians and most of the military left at the SGC.

 

It feels like they are abandoning Earth, but they really don’t have much choice.

 

One showdown later they are sneaking away from Earth, en route to Pegasus.

 

Colonel Ellis would have preferred the Alpha Site, but John argues that they are better off spreading the refugees from Earth between two galaxies.

 

He is kind of shocked when Ellis agrees.

 

 

Part vi

 

With so much going on it isn’t until over a week later than he sees Nate and Julie again, about halfway into their flight to Atlantis.

 

In the final confusion of the gate room beam up he hadn’t even had a chance to check that they’d all made it.

 

He knows not everyone did.

 

The ship is crowded, life support straining flat out to accommodate all the extra passengers, but it’s just about bearable.

 

Most of the civilians go between a shocked, dissociative, silence and noisy hysteria, unable to comprehend the enormity of what has befallen them.

 

John is impressed at the efficient way Julie has gone about organising the kids during the long trip to Pegasus.

 

Well, turns out she is a teacher, but she doesn’t exactly have much to work with aboard a military spaceship fleeing Earth.

 

Watching Julie soothe her baby to sleep he is reminded of Teyla singing to Torren.

 

He misses them more than he can stand to admit.

 

He thinks Teyla will be pleased at having some kind of childcare professional in the city.

 

Or just another mother and child.

 

He thinks of Nate’s wife and brood.

 

Make that mothers with children.

 

Whole families.

 

What are they going to do with these folks on Atlantis?

 

He is intrigued to see that Nate radiates the same unflability he did back in the Nevada hangar, before he had a clue what was really going on.

 

He thinks of the awkward, hesitant boy he once knew, wonders whether adult Nate could really be that collected or whether the enormity of their predicament just hasn’t hit him yet.

 

John wants to ask which it is but settles for “You’re accepting all this very well.”

 

Nate flashes him a crooked, wry smile.

 

“I’m a hydrologic engineer. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the Middle East.”

 

“It’s kind of like California, only with more wars.”

 

John persists.

 

“We’re being hunted by people eating space vampires, it’s kind of a different league”

 

Nate gives John a meaningful look, like he thinks big tough military John is talking down to him, wants to set him straight.

 

Likes it’s a situation he’s used to dealing with.

 

“I get the idea of people trying to kill me. That these things you told us about are trying to kill me. Us. All of humanity. ”

 

“I know there are no guarantees.”

 

John’s time in Pegasus has made him come to think of the citizens of Earth as soft, sheltered, hopelessly naïve about how precarious their existence really was.

 

He doesn’t expect to be put in his place by a civilian.

 

He thinks perhaps Nate’s family will fit in just fine in Pegasus.

 

 “You know, somehow I find the idea of death by my fellow human beings more chilling than pursuit by life sucking aliens.”

 

The guy has a point.

 

“How are you dealing with this whole thing?”

 

It takes him a moment to realise that Nate is talking to him, to John, his long-lost childhood friend, not to Major Sheppard.

 

That Nate thinks John might have an angle on this beyond automatically doing his job.

 

John thinks of Dave and feels the load around his neck crushing down on him.

 

“You know even if we all die tomorrow, you’ve earned your place in heaven”

 

John just stares at him.

 

Not the response he was expecting at all

 

“Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “he who saves one life, it’s as if he’s saved the world?”

 

John thinks of all the lives he has tried to save in this life and the previous one.

 

All the lives he has tried and failed to save.

 

He doesn’t have an answer to that.

 

 

John’s standing by the big panoramic window of the commissary when she speaks to him again.

 

“As long as the candle still burns, there is time to make amends”

 

It’s his mother’s voice but this isn’t one of her old familiar sayings.

 

Not that he can remember anyway.

 

Kind of makes him think of the opaque words of wisdom Jackson quotes from the Ancients sometimes.

 

He blinks, unsure for a moment.

 

In the tumultuous couple of weeks since the evacuation he doesn’t think she’s spoken to him.

 

He’d wondered if she’d abandoned him the way they had abandoned Earth.

 

(Abandoned Dave)

 

He should have known better.

 

Perhaps he was just too busy to notice.

 

It suddenly hits John that in the space of a few short weeks he has buried his father (at least he has, Dave buried the physical body years ago), attempted some sort of rapprochement with his estranged brother after coming back from the dead, escaped said brother’s attempt to have him hospitalised in the nuthouse, failed to save the world from the Wraith a second time and is now hurtling through hyperspace on a spaceship with a couple of long, lost very civilian childhood friends he just met by chance for the first time in nearly twenty-five years and whom he has accidentally rescued.

 

Even by the crazy standards of his life it’s a bit much to take in.

 

 “As long as the candle still burns, there is time to make amends”

 

Maybe they were too quick to write off Earth.

 

The Wraith are powerful, but the human spirit is too.

 

Suddenly he knows, just knows it, deep down in his soul that Dave is still out there.

 

Maybe, just maybe, they have a chance at regrouping and fighting this thing.

 

They still have Earth’s space fleet scattered between Pegasus and the Milky Way.

 

The Wraith may be strong and many, but the candle still burns.

 

It’s definitely worth a second chance.

 

 

They’ve just hit the wrecked midway point when he hears “Major Sheppard to the bridge!”

 

John’s heart is racing as fast as his pounding feet, dreading the next disaster.

 

He finds the view filled with ships.

 

Earth ships.

 

Daedelus class Earth ships.

 

More ships than Earth actually has he thinks.

 

The voice coming over the radio is eerily familiar.


(Does he really drawl like that?)
 

 
“Heard you were having some problems with interdimensional Wraith, thought we'd lend a hand”

 

 
 


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