fly

various stories that didn't get written for the gen ficathon

My prompt was AU, Endings and Beginnings. There would be italics here and there, but I didn't feel like doing all the coding. If any of these strike your fancy, please tell me. I'll be more likely to finish them at some point if I know someone wants to read them.

*

Research: Chaya, the Ancient found in Antarctica, “Moebius” and time machine, the episode with old!Elizabeth.

Possible story: John in the Antarctica station, in stasis (VR pod? Hooked into chair/systems?)

Begins with John reacting to news that the Alterans are ascending/leaving/whatever

John was born not long before the Alterans completely packed up and moved north (so to speak), and because he doesn’t want to abandon humanity (and because ascension sounds pretty boring) he pulls a voluntary Chaya sort of thing. Or Elizabeth type thing, minus aging, hanging out at the Antarctica defense station—in one of those stasis pods, brain hooked up to the systems so he can monitor things.

*

The IOA decides to pack up Atlantis and bring her back to Earth—it’s too much to fight wars on two fronts, against three major enemies. It’s like the beginning of “Written By the Victors”, but John holds to his oath. Atlantis and her people are his priority, not the whole galaxy, and he knows strategy, knows about the war with the Ori. Bringing Atlantis back will free up military forces for defense of Earth.

Question is, what about the Athosians? Ronon, not so much—he’s given up on Sateda. Where John goes, he goes. The Athosians could set up on the Milky Way Alpha base—some level of protection, more freedom and space than on Earth.


Beginning: “But that can’t be the end,” John protests. “They can’t just leave. What about the Manbari? Or Othar? They can’t just abandon everyone.”

“Things don’t always end the way we want them to,” John’s mother tells him.


Ending: “Once,” John’s mother says, words almost as soft as the snow falling outside, “there was a war."

*

[past]

“This is a story that must be told backwards,” John’s mother says to him. There is snow outside, snow in drifts, snow past John’s waist, and he would rather be out playing in it. But it is not yet dawn, and the wind screams past the window as if it would gladly break inside and tear him apart, so he burrows further under the blankets and listens to his mother’s voice and waits. “They left. You must remember that: they left and never went back and never gave thought to doing so. Through all the rest of the story you must hold that fact close and not let go.”

[present]

John was the only one who wasn’t surprised when the Ancients expected the expedition (and the Athosians) to simply grab their things and leave. He had his own reasons for disliking the Ancients, although he loved their ships. Puddlejumpers were cool, and Atlantis fit around him like no place had since he was a child, but the Ancients themselves made him uneasy. Sure, Chaya was nice enough, though frustrating in many ways, and the captain of the Aurora had seemed like a pretty neat guy, if a little short-sighted. But those were both Ancients who had stuck around and done something. The rest of them had apparently just packed up and left all their messes behind for everyone else to deal with, and that was never a good sign of someone’s character.

[...]

The room seemed hollow, insubstantial, as though John could put his hand through the wall, if only he reached out to do so. The inside of his head felt empty without the constant whisper of Atlantis, but the silence was . . . expectant, somehow.

He hadn’t let himself even think of trying to convince Atlantis to listen to him; he could imagine well enough what it would feel like to be denied access, and he didn’t need to experience it for real. But now . . . now that he was paying attention, he began to wonder.

Hey, girl, he thought, and although he was still alone in his head, the lights flickered. “Easy there,” he said softly, and the sense of waiting intensified. “It’s just me,” he told the city, and put his hand through the wall.

[...]

“Why are you here?” Teyla sounded almost angry, although she hid her sharp edges well, as she always did.

“Someone accessed the mainframe from this room.” Beneath Helia’s arrogance was the slightest hesitation, as though she realized she had intruded on something that she had no right to see. But she didn’t let that stop her. “Which of you did it?”

Teyla drew herself together, edges becoming visible, and Ronon sort of leaned, in a way that managed to be menacing without turning into an out and out threat. Their unquestioning faith was heartening, proof of what the expedition had forged over the years, what John had bled and sweated and lost sleep over. It was a reminder that John was infinitely grateful for, because he would need that strength for what he was about to do.

“I did.” Teyla’s sharply indrawn breath struck like a knife, but Ronon remained steady, trust like a mountain.

“You? How? The system is locked to respond only to us.”

“So?”

“You are not one of us.”

“You know, my mom used to tell me stories when I was a kid, all about the great general Helia, and the rearguard defense she fought to allow her people to escape. She herself was lost, but because of her efforts, her people were able to make it to safety. But I guess she was only temporarily misplaced after all.”

[...]

“You turned around because you had nowhere else to go. We came here knowing how dangerous it might be, and we’ve bled and died to stay here and to keep others alive. We’ve stayed, even when we could have left, when it would have made sense for us to pack up and go, to follow in your footsteps.” The words spilled out of him like water, like blood, as if the hurt he still bore was physical.

“What right do you have to condemn us?”

“What right do you have to tell us to leave?” John countered.

“You have no right to judge me—us—in this manner. Those last days—you don’t know what it was like.”

“No, but I’ve heard stories, lived through cullings, lost men. If I was to judge you, I would have every right. You made a mess and then left it for others--for us--to deal with.” But the ‘if’ was a lie, because he did, he had, ever since he first heard the story at age seven.

“You’re not human.” She spoke it like an accusation—or benediction—and he didn’t turn to see how Ronon and Teyla took it. He could still feel them against his back, though, unmoved, unmoving.

“Not quite, but keep that to yourself. I was raised human, and that’s what matters.”

“You need not leave when the others do.” She sounded as though she expected him to stay.

“I swore an oath. A whole bunch of them, actually, and I think the USAF owns my spleen. Besides, I might not be human, as you put it, but I’m definitely not one of you.”

*

This is the end, Aiden thinks as they fall into the ocean (as he is eaten, as he hovers on the edge of having his life drained away)—

And then they hit, and all he thinks is ow.

That’s all he thinks for a while.



Then the wraith is gone, leaving on a ferocious echo in Aiden’s veins and eye and a slight pain just above his heart. There are marines standing around him, brothers despite their unfamiliar faces. Safe, a part of him thinks, as it embraces the darkness that beckons him. Not safe, hisses the other part of him, the part that awoke at the wraith’s touch and even now begins to hunger.

He closes his eyes and the world slides away into silence.



When the world comes back, it’s double-layered, as if he’s seeing two worlds at once. He blinks a couple times, expecting the ceiling to slide back into focus the way it should, the way it always has, but it stays two ceilings, one on top of the other, and he can’t tell why there’s two, or what the difference between them is.

If he was still a child, he would curl up underneath the covers, bury his face in the pillow, pretend that if he waited long enough everything would go back to normal. But he’s not, he’s a soldier now, has had lives entrusted to his care, has been in command of men older than him. He’s a soldier, so he gets out of bed and pretends that the people around him aren’t glowing (but only in one world, not in the other). Dr. Beckett will probably throw a fit, but there are other men in worse shape than he’s in, and not enough doctors or beds, and if Aiden doesn’t get up and do something, he might go crazy.

Will go crazy. The world seems to warp as he walks through it, and there’s something humming through his body, thrumming, like a guitar string plucked too hard. But he has a job to do—or will, as soon as he figures out what’s going on.

[...]

Sneaking out of the infirmary was definitely the right thing to do—with each step it’s a little easier to ignore

[...]

—And his hand’s wrapped around the doc’s throat, which is wrong. His job’s to protect them, protect the scientists, watchdog to their sheep, as Major Sheppard once put it, and Aiden releases the doc like he’s been burned, backs away until his back’s against the wall.

So close. He’d come so very close to killing the doc—closer than anyone in the room realizes, except perhaps Teyla, who is watching him as she might a rabid animal. Shame floods Aiden when he realizes that, strong enough to clear away the humming that had for a moment drowned out any thought, any memory of the oaths he’s sworn, of his duty.

[...]

“Heard you had a bit of an incident with Dr. Beckett.”

“Didn’t realize how high I was until I started to come down.”

“Yeah, I know that feeling.” And from the tight line of the major’s mouth, he wasn’t talking about fooling around a little in college. “Just wait until you hit the ground.”

“Think I’m just about there, sir.”

“Believe me, you’ll know when you’ve reached bottom.”

*

It ends like this: John is on his knees in the middle of the gate room, swaying slightly because he’s got a big hole in him and is about to lie down on the floor and die. The woman who stabbed him smiles at him beatifically, blind to the blood staining her white dress.

“You will thank me for this,” she says.

“Yeah, I kind of doubt that,” he tells her, and falls over.



It begins like this: Rodney is fiddling around with his data pad, grumbling because he’s been dragged along on what’s essentially a shopping trip. John is being unsympathetic, because they’re at a fair, eating the local equivalent of soft-pretzels, and he’d practically had to arm-wrestle Lorne to snag this assignment for his team. (John may be the CO, but Lorne is wily and tenacious and as XO has a million and one ways to make John’s life miserable without even once coming near insubordination, not that the man would ever do such a thing, of course not sir, best two out of three?)

“I have a million and one projects that I could be working on right now instead of following Teyla around while she goes bargain hunting. It’s not like this is a real mission—Sam even told us to ‘have fun’.” The scare quotes are almost visible.

John jams the rest of his prootel (because it’s sort of like strudel made out of pretzel dough, heavy on the salt and mustard) into his mouth and considers following that up by jamming his fingers in his ears. Usually he gets a kick out of Rodney’s complaints, but right now he really just wants the guy to shut up and enjoy himself. They’re at a fair, there’s no one shooting at them, nothing vital riding on the mission, and three stalls over someone’s selling what looks like cotton candy.

He’s just about to suggest they go check it out, because he’s got a pocket full of the intricately-carved discs this place uses as currency and nothing vital to spend it on, when Rodney goes still and silent beside him. John instantly flips to full alert, finger on the trigger of his P-90, scanning the stalls for whatever it is that Rodney’s noticed.

“What is it?” Teyla and Ronon aren’t in sight, and quite possibly are off on opposite sides of the fair—which is supposed to be safe, supposed to be neutral. At least they don’t have to worry about Wraith; the fair is always held on a world that’s been recently culled, and darts screaming overhead are a little hard to miss.

“It’s—I’m—There’re all kinds of energy readings coming from over there.” The stall Rodney points to is a little shabby, a little run down, but painted bright red and blue and orange, with two kids juggling in front of it. John lets go of the P-90 and, after careful consideration, whaps Rodney upside the head. “Ow! What was that for?”

“I thought we were about to be attacked or something. Next time tell me what you’re freaking out over before you freak out over it.” Which is a completely nonsensical order, and John knows it, but he just almost made himself look like an idiot, and that always makes him irritable.

“Right, sure, and I’ll tell you when we’re about to be attacked by Wraith, how’s that sound?” But most of Rodney’s attention is focused on the energy readings, and his attempt at sarcasm fails pretty pathetically.

“I thought you did that already. Isn’t that what all those long-range sensors are for?”

Rodney merely waves a hand irritably and makes a beeline for the stall. John follows more slowly, still feeling uneasy, the possibility of cotton candy forgotten. But the people running the booth are friendly and talkative, although they do a good job of giving away very little actual information. And they’re selling what seems to be refurbished bits of Ancient tech, most of which John vaguely remembers having seen in Atlantis at some point.

[...]

His vision’s narrowed down to nearly nothing, but he knows that his marines line the room, futilely clutching useless guns, held back against the walls by something they can’t see or touch. That Sam watches from the command deck, equally helpless, flanked by John’s team and Lorne, all of whom want to fling themselves at the woman who stands in front of John with his blood on her hands. He’s pretty sure he shouldn’t know this, that normally he wouldn’t be able to feel their hopeless love and fury spilling out into the room like light, but he’s kind of got more important things to worry about at the moment.

He coughs once, hollowly, and touches a shaking hand to the wound that’s seeping blood down his side. It doesn’t really hurt—not unless he remembers it’s supposed to. “What’d you do that for?”

“It is time for you to stop pretending, to admit what you are and take your rightful place.”And that, more than the whole pretending-to-be-your-ally-and-then-stabbing-you-in-the-back (well, ribs) thing, really makes John want to smack her. Because he’s not pretending, not about anything. Hasn’t had to pretend for a while now. He is what he is, what he’s chosen to be. But at least he now knows what it is about her that’s been bugging him—she’s either mad or a fanatic, and it really doesn’t matter which. “Let go of your body, this petty mortal life you cling to, and become what you were always meant to be.”

“And what would that be?” He’s got his suspicions, but he’ll be damned before he admits them to her. Might be damned in the doing so. They’re playing a game now, even as his heart’s blood drains away and he begins the slow slide down into nothing, even if she doesn’t seem to realize it and he doesn’t know the rules.

“You know,” the woman says, almost serenely. “You’ve always known. Set aside this pretense and become one of us.” She begins to glow, and yeah, that’s one suspicion confirmed. Bracing a hand against the floor to keep himself from falling over, he shakes his head in denial.

“Listen, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m from Earth—my dad was Patrick Sheppard, my mom was Ana—”

“Ana Anantha,” the woman says triumphantly, and hearing her speak his mother’s name—her name from before—is like being stabbed a second time.

“Ana Sheppard,” he finishes, voice steady despite the anger now creeping its way up his spine. “Whatever other names she might have had, that’s the one she died with.” Chose to die with, just as he’s choosing now. “You know nothing about her, nothing about me.” Go away and let me die, he doesn’t say, because the game’s not over yet.

“Silly boy.” The woman smiles at him fondly. “You will thank me for this.”

“Yeah, I kind of doubt that,” he tells her, and falls over.



Actually, it doesn’t end like that. It ends like this: Sam allows herself one moment to grieve, and then a second, because John had been a good man and almost a friend, and his loss is going to leave a hole in the city and its people. And then she glances over at Lorne and nods, because—no matter how callous it makes her feel to think this way, it’s her job to do so and necessary to keep from losing any more people—the hostage is no longer a factor, and the marines can do their job without have to worry about their commander being in the line of fire.

Since he’s dead and all.

Right.

Sam allows herself a third moment.

“Teams three and four are in position,” Lorne mutters, voice pitched low enough that there’s no way anyone but Sam can hear it. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Rodney and Teyla and a marine whose name she can’t remember restraining Ronon, who looks ready to throw himself over the railing.

“Tell them they have a go,” Sam says, and doesn’t glance down at the limp curl of John’s body on the floor below.

Which is why she doesn’t see his body turn to light just as the two puddle jumpers carrying snipers decloak. She’s watching the Hrani guards, so she doesn’t realize something’s changed until the guards try to aim at the snipers and freeze halfway through the motion—just as the first batch of marines had when they arrived too late to rescue John.

“No—” The woman sounds confused, baffled, no smug conviction left. “What are you doing? I helped you!”

“You killed me,” John says, and if his voice echos oddly, it’s still undoubtably his, right down to the irritation. And because Sam’s been broken in by Daniel’s repeated deaths and resurrections, she doesn’t allow herself to look. There will be time for that later; right now she needs to make sure that her men (John’s, now that he’s back to reclaim them) don’t forget to do their jobs.

But she can’t help smiling a little.



“You killed me,” John says. “So no, I don’t think I’ll be thanking you any time soon.” It’s weird being able to see everything, even the gate directly behind him and the puddle jumpers bracketing it. The men in them are carefully not looking at him, determined not to fail him, whatever the hell’s going on. “Besides, you’re planning on stealing my city.” And perhaps he shouldn’t have said ‘my’, because Sam’s starting think things he’d really rather she didn’t, but that’s not important. Not yet.

“You,” the woman (Arundhati, who played with Ana Anantha as a child and sought ascension with an eagerness that dismayed everyone who knew her and is now on the Ascended version of probation) says articulately as she tries and fails to pry away his mental fingers. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because I don’t like it when people try to fool around with me and mine.” Might as well go all the way with the possessiveness. “Especially when they stab me.” He gives her a small mental shake and her eyes go wide.

But—” she tries to say before he silences her with what would be a blood-covered hand if he still had his real body. She’s just going to sing the same old song about ‘helping him’ and he doesn’t want to hear it yet again. Besides, he’s allowed this to go on long enough; he can feel his grip on the situation begin to weaken, and the game’s not over quite yet.

It’s not one he intends to lose.

“Colonel Carter?” he says, focus currently everywhere but on her and the other people standing on the command deck. (Rodney, Teyla, Ronon—he can’t let himself think about them. They’re alive and uninjured, and nothing else matters at the moment, not even Rodney’s chagrin and grief and hope or Ronon’s implacable fury or Teyla’s . . . whatever it is Teyla’s feeling.) “I’m going to keep Arundhati here from interfering while the marines herd the rest of gang through the gate. Pick somewhere unpleasant for them, would you?”

“Of course,” Sam says, as evenly as if she sees people die/almost die/whatever the hell just happened every day. Which she probably has, if the rumors he’s heard about SG-1 are even remotely accurate. He’s never had the guts to ask her.

The gate whooshes to life as the marines finish stripping the Hrani of their weapons, and John jerks a thumb back over his shoulder. “That’s your cue to leave.” Arundhati’s guards do as told, with a bit of prodding from the marines. John wraps an imagined arm around Arundhati and makes it look like he glances up at Sam. It’s really weird not having an actual body, even weirder than being in a virtual reality. “I’ll just get Arundhati out of your hair. Be back in a moment.”

Sam nods, and doesn’t offer to send any marines with John, which is just as well because he wouldn’t take any. He doesn’t want witnesses for what comes next. Mostly (but not entirely) because they wouldn’t understand.

The world Sam sends them to is all sand and scrub and cold in the way only deserts can manage, and when John arrives with Arundhati in tow, the Hrani are sort of huddled together off to one side of the gate. They look up, but make no motion to try to free Arundhati. Not that there is anything they could do, but it shows them to be pretty poor excuses for soldiers. The marines would have at least attempted something.

As soon as the gate shuts off, John releases Arundhati, who stumbles away from him, still trying to shake off the limits of the physical body John’s locked her into. She’s very close to succeeding, but it won’t matter in a minute.

*

In the end, it’s not enough, which seems to be the story of John’s life, particularly here. Elizabeth lies in a limp curl on the floor in front of the gate. If John’s careful about where he looks, he can’t see the blood and other bits of things leaking out of her. If he’s careful, he can almost pretend Beckett will be able to patch her back together, good as new.

Beside him, Ford makes a sound like he might be sick.

John doesn’t say anything, just puts a hand on Ford’s shoulder for a moment, and settles down to wait for the others to arrive. They’ll have to do something about the mess and the dead bodies, he realizes dimly, the colder, calculating part of him continuing to grind along despite the shock that seems to coat the world like dust. He’s never particularly liked that aspect of him, but he’s going to have to start listening to it now: there’s no one else left to make the decisions.

[...]

John is pulling his socks on when Rodney comes into the room and collapses onto the bed. “The transporters in the G-8 block and parts of, um, G-7 and G-9 are down.” Rodney yawns half-way through the sentence.

“Down as in you turned them off, or down as in they broke?” There’s a hole in John’s sock, but it’s already been darned twice, and he doesn’t have the time to do it yet again. He shoves his feet into his boots and has to take moment to remember how to lace them.

“Both,” Rodney says succinctly. “Post signs or something, would you? I told my people, but they’ll probably forget, and I’d really rather not get called in thirty minutes to extract one of them.” He yawns again, and rolls over so he can see John. “Try to keep anything from blowing up in the next four hours, if you can manage it.”

“Signs on the transporters, no scientists in the transporters, keep things from blowing up. Gotcha.” John settles his holster a little more comfortably, and goes out to face the current crisis—because there’s bound to be at least one. Behind him, Rodney sleeps the sleep of someone who thinks he should be doing something else.

[...]

It’s supposed to be sixteen hours on, seven off for sleep, and one to stay sane; a week in the city and a week at the Alpha site, but it’s not like anything else has been going it’s it’s “supposed” to. In reality, people work until they start screwing up and sleep until they get yelled for on the radio or their roommate kicks them out of bed.

[...]

Teyla always brings a measure of peace with her, even though things are almost as rushed at the site as they are in Atlantis. It probably helps that there, the place isn’t falling to pieces.

“I hope you are well, Major Sheppard.” Teyla fairly glows—long hours spent working in the sun, presumably, and John can’t help coveting the lack of bags beneath her eyes—in comparison, John feels pasty, gritty-eyed, and very nearly the walking dead.

[...]

John spends most of the shift flying around the city, running scans and doing a visual check for any new damage. He spots a couple of newly-collapsed balconies, and one of the towers on the east pier has developed a distinct list seaward, but for the most part things appear to be holding stable for the moment. Which is good, because they haven’t managed to clear more than a quarter or so of the city, and there’s a lot left to do.

[...]

On the Daedalus, John and Rodney get put in the same cabin, and it’s almost, almost like being back on Atlantis, roommates and occasional bedmates when their schedules synchronized for a day or two; Rodney sleeps like a log—really—and John sleeps on his stomach so he won’t snore.

*

Lily meets them at the door when they get back after school, eyes slightly puffy, as if she’s been crying. She sniffs a couple of times before speaking. “Your father wants to speak to you in his office.” If John didn’t know better, he’d say she looks sorry for the two of them, but that doesn’t make any sense.

Dave gives her his book bag and coat and heads off for the office without so much as a glance at John. But that’s normal. John hands over his stuff more slowly; nothing good ever comes of his father ‘speaking’ to him.

“Did he say what about?” he asks, but she just shakes her head and sniffs again, chin wobbling a little. There’s a lot of it to wobble.

[...]

And just like that, it’s over—no more mansions or fancy cars or servants or boring dinner parties. John and Graham still go to Ridgecrest, but only because their tuition’s paid through the end of the semester. It’s weird, being there, knowing that this too—the uniforms and trophy cases and pretensions—will be over soon. John doesn’t mind, mostly. He’s always felt more at home in the stables and garages, smelling of grease or leather and horse sweat, in the places where he doesn’t have to deal with peoples’ expectations. He’s been waiting to escape for a long time now, and feels like he’s being released from prison a year and half early.

Dave’s not taking it so well, but he’s always fit in, has always wanted to fit in. That the whole school’s treating the pair of them like they’re invisible seems to have both baffled and wounded him. For all that John’s spent bitter afternoons resenting his little brother’s ease and comfort in a world that’s always been alien to John, he can’t feel smug about the pain he sees in Dave’s eyes every time a former friend walks by without even a mumbled hello.

Although, to be honest, the only thing John regrets is losing the horses. He hasn’t ridden Pinochle since he was twelve, but he’s had her since he was eight, and she knows more of his secrets than even his mother did. She hasn’t been sold yet, though, so he still slips out to the stables at night, sometimes, rests his face against her neck and breathes in the scent of horse, which is something like peace. I’m going to miss you, he doesn’t tell her, because if he does, he’ll start crying, and sixteen (and a half) is too old for that.

He hasn’t cried since he was twelve, either.

A week and a half after their father tells them that their world’s about to fall apart, it actually does. John and Dave come back from school to find the house and grounds stripped bare: no furniture or pictures on the walls, no cars in the driveway or horses in the stable.

Well, that’s not quite true. There’s still a few pieces of cheap furniture from the servant’s wing, and John’s Johnny Cash poster. And when John and Dave go looking around the place—because it’s just as empty of other people as it is of anything else—they find the old jeep used by the groundskeeper. And Pinochle, old and grey and alone in the stable which should hold twenty horses, delighted to see John, though not so glad as John is to see her.

Dave stands in the doorway of the stall, looking awkward and out-of-place in his school uniform, and much younger than fourteen. He also looks like he’s considering crying; they both had old ponies, but apparently Dave’s wasn’t old enough to escape auction. Not that Dave had ever shown much interest in her once he got his horse, but it’s probably symbolic or something: the only thing John’s ever appreciated about being rich was the horses, unlike Dave, who idolized their father and everything their father did, and rode only because he was supposed to. And now John gets to keep his pony, and Dave loses everything.

John wants to tell him everything’s going to be fine, because that’s the kind of thing big brothers are supposed to say, but Dave’s always been a pessimist and is more likely to be irritated than comforted by such clichés. So John keeps his mouth shut, allowing himself to take some small pleasure in the unexpected gift.

When they go back inside and make a more through search for their father, they find him underneath the scarred and stained table in the main kitchen, completely and utterly drunk, surrounded by bottles which once held very cheap wine. The wine is more surprising than the inebriation; hard as the whole affair has struck Dave, their father’s even worse off.

John sends Dave upstairs to do homework, and begins clearing away the bottles and other detritus from his father’s bender. It takes him three tries to get his father out from under the table, and it’s a good thing John’s grown a bit over the past month and is used to mucking out stalls and such, because his father’s worse than no help at all.

*

When he was eleven, Rodney read The Brothers Karamozv. (Not voluntarily, of course. His English teacher got fed up with his biting criticism of the character, plot, and every other part of every book the class read, and in retribution finally assigned him the longest one she had on hand. She didn’t appreciate it very much when he pointed out that the book was originally written in Russian.) He was pleasantly surprised by it. The characters were appallingly screwed up (except for Aloysha, who needed to grow a backbone), but at least they were interesting, and the narrator had occasional moments of wittiness. So, all in all, it was an okay read.

Up until the ending, that was.

Rodney stared at the book for a little while before throwing it across the room in an attempt to adequately express his feelings. However, the cover stayed on, and none of the pages came out, so that was another failure. If it hadn’t been a library book, he probably would have stomped on it a few times.

One brother gone crazy, the other being shipped off to Siberia, and Aloysha gave some speech about a stupid dead kid who wasn’t even really part of the story—and all the other stupid not-dead kids shouted “hurrah for Karamazov”?

Rodney brooded all the way through his TV dinner and the rest of his homework. Not even finding a couple of errors in the math textbook made him feel better. And he continued to brood through the rest of the week. Clearly there were only two options: either Dostoevsky was stupid or Rodney was, and Rodney was pretty sure the stupid one wasn’t him.

By the end of the week, he had made up his mind: he was going to become an author and write better books than anyone else. Better books with endings that didn’t suck and characters that weren’t stupid. With that goal in mind, he threw himself into writing his debut novel. It meant he wouldn’t have time to do anything for the science fair, but anyone could build an atomic bomb if they were willing to do the research. Being a writer required a certain genius. (Well, maybe not, if a hack like Dostoevsky was so well thought of, but it sounded good in Rodney’s head.) Besides, his dad probably would’ve been pissed if Rodney’d built a bomb in the garage. Even if it wasn’t a working one.



Twenty-odd years, twelve best-sellers, a couple million copies in print, a pretty hefty bank account, and two cats later, Rodney found himself staring at the Arts & Literature section of the newspaper with—well, he wasn’t sure what. Horror? Rage? Disbelief? It was easier to label his characters’ emotions than his own.

“‘McKay is a hack,’” he reread for the fifth time, in hopes that the sentence would end differently. Perhaps something along the lines of ‘McKay is a god among writers, and, indeed, among men in general’. But the words remained the same.

He threw the paper across the room in disgust, but it just sort of floated, which was extremely unsatisfying. So he picked it up again, screwed it into a ball, and tossed it into the trash. “What does Kavanaugh know about anything?” he demanded of Shredder, who was watching the proceedings impassively from the top of the refrigerator, and stormed off to his desk and the outline for his latest book. Which was going to be another masterpiece, no matter what anyone said.

But the review haunted him all day, so that he got exactly two sentences written, both of which he deleted before hitting save. The next morning he got up early (well, never actually went to sleep) and fished the previous day’s newspaper out of his neighbor’s recycling. This time he skipped the ‘McKay is a hack’ part and read the rest of the article, in which Kavanaugh shredded every aspect of That Which Comes with the Morning, from title to closing line, paying special attention to the novel’s scientific language and the premise that wormholes could be used as cheap and easy transport between planets or even galaxies.

The critique of the science didn’t worry Rodney—he always researched such things carefully, and ran it by Zelenka, the astrophysicist who lived three floors up and bought coffee at the same place Rodney did. The rest of the review, though, where Kavanaugh said that Rodney’s characters were flat, his plots cliched and his endings contrived . . . well. Obviously the man was wrong—Rodney had the sale numbers to prove it—but he couldn’t help worrying a little.

And Kavanaugh was right about one thing: Rodney was a formula writer. His formulas were slightly more sophisticated than everyone else’s, but he still had to write by the numbers. Where other writers were apparently struck by ‘inspiration’, Rodney spent hours doing calculations and carefully plotting out every inch of every novel. In the end, his attention to detail won out over the competition, but—

There was always that but, no matter how he talked in public, or even in the privacy of his own head.

He scrunched it to the back of his mind, as he did whenever it showed itself, and settled down to another day of writing.
Indexing: ,
*glares* That's not helpful.


Honestly, I want to finish all of them too--even the one where John dies (briefly), although I think I'd have to be in a very particular headspace to get through that one. The problem is that I have at least twelve other stories that I also want very much to write (and when I say "twelve", I really mean "at least twenty").

In order to get through everything, I'm going to have to be organized. Which is always a pain, but it looks like there's no help for it.

I have the feeling I'm going to do a lot of writing this summer.
*rueful* It does. It just turned into a story I couldn't bring myself to write at the moment. But it's the most complete of the stories, and will almost certainly get finished sometime this summer.
Yup! Aiden is a little more sure in himself, and doesn't go all-the-way crazy in the infirmary, or something like that. I just couldn't come up with what happened after that. But I definitely want to do more with this at some point, since crazy/addicted Ford really bugs me.
If you've got the latest translation, it's a lot of fun. (Well, parts of it are. For certain definitions of 'fun'.) Apparently the older ones . . . aren't. I'm glad I read it, but it's certainly not a comfortable book. Insanity, patricide, people destroying themselves--it's definitely a Russian novel.
It'll be fun coming up with all the ways for Atlantis to break, I think. And what (and how) exactly they're able to disassemble certain things and reassemble them at the Alpha site.

I picture John spending long hours pouring over various schematics and maps of the city, trying to come up with routes to and from certain areas that won't end with everyone buried in rubble. And rubbing his eyes a lot because they're always gritty and don't seem to be focusing quite right.
(Anonymous)
A second vote for (D) all of the above!

Oh, but especially the one where John talks to Helia. I really like . . . everything about that conversation. Their right to be there. His choice to be human. His responsibility to his people. That last line. So good! Though I also enjoy your other AUs where he's something like three-quarters ancient and sleeps only a few hours a night. (The John Sheppard Ten Things ficlet you wrote a while back is a personal favorite!).

--Maria
A second vote for (D) all of the above!

Wait a little bit, and it will probably happen. My big project this summer (aside from work and figuring out how to function as something other than a student) is going to be clearing out my very full WIP file, which includes these even though they're technically not "in progress".

especially the one where John talks to Helia. I really like . . . everything about that conversation. Their right to be there. His choice to be human. His responsibility to his people. That last line. So good!

*looks shifty* There's actually a fair bit of bleed-through in that conversation, which is one reason why I wound up putting that story to the side--I couldn't tell whether it was John speaking, or me speaking through him. But yeah--at least one of us needed to talk about that stuff, and it's always bothered me how careless (and stupid) Helia & co. were, and how the expedition simply left without even an argument. I know they had reasons for doing so, but still.

Though I also enjoy your other AUs where he's something like three-quarters ancient and sleeps only a few hours a night.

Which is most of them, even if that particular fact doesn't appear in the story--until we hear otherwise, my canon is that his mother was an Ancient, and that when he was young, Patrick Sheppard was charming and beautiful and good--and that when his wife died, the better part of him died with her. (But Rob, the USAF flight instructor who grew up on a farm and taught his son to love the sky, will always be my personal canon.)

(The John Sheppard Ten Things ficlet you wrote a while back is a personal favorite!).

Mine too! Largely because it was an unexpected gift: until I sat down and wrote it, I hadn't realized how much I "knew" about John. And even though canon has contradicted some of it, the John described there is my John, the one that occasionally hangs out in my head and likes to trash talk canon!Sheppard and his inability to keep Atlantis secure. Or to ever show up anywhere with the appropriate amount of backup. ^_^
I think I'd most like you to finish the one with John in stasis in Antarctica, or the one where he dies/ascends or something after being stabbed.

But really, I'd take any of them...
Well, the one where John gets stabbed is certainly going to get finished--probably some time in the next couple months. The one where he's in stasis will probably get written too, after I've bulked up on the appropriate seasons of SG-1. Mostly because I'm curious about how having a non-ascended, not-dying Ancient around who was pretty solidly on their side would affect the course of things.
The one where John ascends. I like that one very muchly. ^^ Also, the tag for The Return, where he reveals his Ancientyness.

...Although the Rodney one would be good, too, if Shep were to come along and teach him a thing or two!
The one where John ascends is currently on the top of my (very long) to-write list. Actually, my plans for today are to finish answering all your comments (which is a lot of fun and good reminder of one reason why I love writing), read Prince Caspian (I saw the movie last night and it was excellent), and try to grind out the rest of the rough draft of the story (currently titled "Boojum").

The Rodney one might happen, simply because I need the practice at writing him, but I don't yet have a grasp on the world of that AU, which makes it hard to do more than sketch things out a little.
^^ Sorry, and here I can't seem to stop commenting! *sheepish* But if it encourages you as well as taking up your time, then I guess it's all good!

I haven't seen the movie, but Caspian is a lovely book, like all the rest of the series--enjoy!

It's wonderful to know you're working on these stories, I'm looking forward to the results! ^^
Those last two blew me away! I actually completely forgot the purpose of this post and those other bits I'd read before, until I came to the end and wanted to bookmark and remembered this wasn't a cut and dry piece of finished fic.

In my head those two back stories would somehow come together in one story. I don't know how, but I feel it could happen.
...Y'know, that might actually work, although I have no idea what the story would wind up being. But it's something I might play with at some point if I run out of other ideas. (Not that that seems likely to happen anytime soon. My problem's more writer's ADD than writer's block.)

A couple of these are in the process of being written, although I couldn't guess when they'll be finished.