As John walked through the halls towards the flight deck he let his mind flick over the order he had just been given for hints of who he was going to find next to the ‘chopper,
“Sheppard! Flight orders out to the outpost, come on, haul ass. You don’t wanna keep the general waiting” Jenson hadn’t felt angry just that odd frustration he seemed to get whenever anyone higher ranking than him passed through the base. The general wasn’t close enough to feel yet so no clues from that direction but as the mainland pilot passed him in the corridor he grabbed John’s elbow lightly, a flash of emotions, feelings and residual pain from an old injury hit John like a punch to the face but one thing ran clear the touch wasn’t malicious, intending to just pass something on, this guy didn’t know. John focused on the muttering catching the end.
“… O’Neill not a bad bloke, likes it if you use his name rather than just General” and then the guy was gone.
John quickly pushed the residual whispers to the back of his mind quickly thinking through the Colonels and Generals he has met in recent years unable to remember why the General’s name was bothering him. He had recognised the name but it was a vague flicker of a memory to him, really just a flash suggestion of missions gone wrong and pain, physical and psychological but blurry and patchy like a night out on the town a confused mix of someone else’s feelings and his own.
‘Jack O’Neill’ the name came to him out of the blue making him flinch for no reason he could remember but muscle memory was telling him he didn’t want to be near Jack.
“Bad luck Johnny looks like we’re stuck flying him unless you can come up with something brilliant” he whispered to himself hoarsely. He reached the hanger and upon seeing the general saluted and went on to automatic pilot, handing his orders and tracking card to the sergeant on duty. He took them back at the nod and headed over to the General. He avoided contact in a practiced manner, pulling on long, light gloves before pulling himself up to the ‘chopper and when he glanced down at the General’s face as he climbed in to the chopper, John caught him with sorrow and apologies in his eyes.
Jack watched the kid pulling on gloves before lightly hopping up. He couldn’t help letting his mind flick to the last time he saw him, being carted off by the medics in some desolate grey military hospital. For a moment he wanted to say that he was sorry that he’d used the kid like a human painkiller. Sorry that he had pushed everything on to him to make himself numb. Sorry he had almost killed the kid for a moment’s peace in his own head.
It had been stupid and selfish and had fucked the mission up. He knew that he’d shoved something of himself in to the kid’s head and if he hadn’t then the kid would still be running around in some war zone getting shot at instead of in an icy prison for doing the right thing. Jack rarely regretted managing to hide for his entire life and the secrecy that required.
He had no illusions that his rank would protect him if he slipped up now. Despite the idiocy that it would be he wanted to reach out and tell the kid that he was sorry that the government treated him like some freak just for being alive. Wished he could tell him that what he needed to do was get away from America. ‘Steal a chopper, steal a god damn plane, steal your fucking life back’ he wanted to shout, ‘everyone deserves a life and believe me most places in the world would give it to you. You’re one of a kind, never been anyone like you! Christ governments would start wars to free you, if you would just damn well ask.‘ but there would be no point the kid had been trained to give everything for his country, had never been told that thinking was allowed and most lightly the best he would get was a quiet ‘I won’t report you sir’ and then the kid would turn back in to John Sheppard, well-trained self-sacrificing pilot of the fine US of A.
A gold fleck appeared on the horizon racing towards them rudely breaking Jack’s train of thought, instinct kicked in seconds before the alert came over the radio and Jack started backseat flying.
John avoided the UFO landing on the snow, leaping out of the ‘chopper. Stumbling as he hit the ground, catching himself on one hand. Rough snow slicing through his right hand glove like a knife and a few seconds later training took over and he flung himself over the already prone General. Covering him with his own body to protect him from the impending blast. The blast never came and eventually the two men peeled apart before standing. Jack grabbed John’s hand to pull himself up feeling slick blood coating it. In the second before he let go the memory and still sharp pain of ‘Rus’ murd… ‘Lawful Termination’ leapt across the skin barrier seizing John with shock before he jerked back. John remembered.