Brat Farrar (gentle_edgar) wrote,
Brat Farrar
gentle_edgar

face marred by dust and sweat and blood

very belated christmas ficlet #4, for violeteyedcat, who wanted john facing criticism, internal or external, in the Things Already Seen 'verse

*

"Well," Elizabeth says, back stiff, face set in lines that suggest she would like very much to throw something at John's head. "You were certainly placed in a very difficult position and I can't presume that I wouldn't have done the same." But she does, John can see it in the way she looks at him. "The IOA might not see it that way, though, so none of this leaves the room. You never told me, this meeting didn't happen, and that goes for Colonel Sumner as well." Her shoulders fall suddenly, her whole body drooping, and it's like a knife to John's heart. "I had hoped we were friends," she tells the table.

"So did I," John says, too much honesty for bare words, and leaves her to mourn a man she never knew.

The subject is never spoken of again.

(But if it were, here's how it would go:

"And you decided to act on this 'knowledge' without informing anyone?" The scare quotes are sharper than John would have expected, but they don't hurt. He's neither crazy nor a liar, and it doesn't matter if the IOA thinks he is. Not really.

"Why didn't you inform Dr. Weir? She was the head of the expedition." He'd asked himself the same question uncounted times, and the answer was always the same: partly to protect her, partly to protect everyone else. She didn't need to know.

"If you 'knew' the future, why are there only a hundred and forty-four expedition members instead of a hundred and fifty-eight?" It's like someone else is being asked these questions: he knows he should feel fear or anxiety or something, but he has no regrets--except that he is only human and so hadn't really known the future, just one set of possibilities.

Afterward, General O'Neill takes him out for steak and beer and for the first time John actually understands that he is home, that this is real.

"I didn't expect you to let them pick you apart like that," O'Neill says, cutting his steak with swift, sure strokes of his knife. John doesn't realize he's doing the same until he glances down at his own plate.

"Didn't really matter what they asked me," John says, and it comes out too flippantly, not the way he intends it, because O'Neill's eyebrows go up. "It-- I--" He sets down his knife and fork and stares at his beer for a moment while he tries to articulate what's been in his head ever since the Daedalus had appeared above Atlantis and he'd known he'd succeeded.

"I made mistakes," he says finally, slowly. "I'm not going to deny that. But I fixed them. The people that died--there was nothing I could have done differently. Even if I don't get sent back to Atlantis, that'll still be true, and right now I don't really care about the rest of it."

"Well, at least you're honest," O'Neill says, dry as dust, fork poised and loaded up with steak. "Although I'm betting you'll change your mind about that last part when you're lying in bed tonight."

"Probably," John admits, and starts in on his own steak.

In the end, he gets promoted and sent back to Atlantis, and although he guesses O'Neill must have pulled some strings to manage that, he doesn't say thank you. They both know it wasn't done as a favor.)
Tags: sga au, snapshots
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