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Aug 16

Flight of Icarus – To Travel the Sky

Chapter 3 – Flight of Icarus(main story page)

Note- I started writing this in 2010… I was harassed when I first started posting it because it is a dystopian mutant!verse. This was the story that made me stop posting my stories online, it remains the only story I have seriously considered deleting entirely, from the internet and from my personal devices.  

There will be one more chapter of book one. Once I have finished book one I will be taking the entire story down to do a major rewrite and edit. However I have chosen to keep posting what I am now calling my rough draft. 

 

“How hard do you think it would have be for me to convince them that the only way we could ever hope to syntheses the gene was for me to take the person with the strongest expression of the gene back to my research lab at the University? And once I had him on UK soil the mutant protection act would have kept them from sending him back. I never was all that interested in finding Atlantis.”
“Then why did you stay?” Rodney whispered,
“Because for what might be the first time in his life. John feels he has a purpose that is more than just being a destructive force. He’s been a weapon for his entire life. Can you even imagine what it must feel like to suddenly realise that you are needed for something far grander?” As Carson finished speaking John appeared next to Rodney’s shoulder, making Rodney jump. He carefully placed their food in front of them before retreating to the seat tucked at the end of the table. The furthest point in the room he could find from other people.

THIS IS A WIP! An un -beta read one
Disclaimer-Anything you don’t recognise is mine all else belongs to its respective authors.

Warnings – people are not nice in this verse! The government is corrupt and cruel. An OC dies (I don’t make you get attached but it is Jack’s child so…) Violence and some discussion/references to past rape.
As usual
Italics – Thoughts/Mental comms
Bold – Flashback

Some angler catching fish with a quivering rod, or a shepherd leaning on his crook, or a ploughman resting on the handles of his plough, saw them, perhaps, and stood there amazed, believing them to be gods able to travel the sky.
And now Samos, sacred to Juno, lay ahead to the left (Delos and Paros were behind them), Lebinthos, and Calymne, rich in honey, to the right, when the boy began to delight in his daring flight, and abandoning his guide, drawn by desire for the heavens, soared higher. His nearness to the devouring sun softened the fragrant wax that held the wings: and the wax melted: he flailed with bare arms, but losing his oar-like wings, could not ride the air. Even as his mouth was crying his father’s name, it vanished into the dark blue sea.

SGC –Crazy Town, Level 17

Departure date + 23 weeks

Elizabeth was beginning to hate the dull grey walls and battered metal chairs of the SGC. But as she once more stood before her eclectic team that growing resentment was tempered by the fact that soon she would have a very different view Dull grey metal walls, quite the change and that soon she would have all her expedition members back around her.

“I have called us all together to formally announce that the IOA have seized a space going vessel from the American government. It has been decided that our project would benefit most from a spaceship and as a multinational project it would be best if we were based outside of the physical bounds on any one country. General O’Neill has requested that we name the ship the Daedalus and I see no reason to not abide by his wishes. As of today all staff originally assigned to the Pegasus project are formally recalled, secure locations are being set up in every country associated with the IOA to allow for Asguardian beaming technology to be used in the collection of staff and equipment.

Lieutenant Colonel Lorne has been placed on permanent loan to the IOA along with the multinational team he has apparently been training at the Alpha site” Rodney twisted in his seat to look at John at the mention of a team. John looked back at him and made a ‘what?’ gesture. Rodney angrily mouthed ‘you knew!’ at him and John nodded apologetically feeling the pure fury pouring off the man from across the room. 

Elizabeth paused for a moment as the laptop in front of her buzzed before flashing brightly then dying and the chairs in the room began to slide across the room towards McKay. Rodney stood up and quickly made his way out of the room, the lift at the end of the corridor pinging and opening before he even reached it.

“As I was saying…” Elizabeth continued after a moment, quietly ignoring the gentle creaking that filled the room as metal began to relax.

SGC- Civilian Rooms, Level 15

John held his gloved hands up and quickly backed across the room as Rodney vented his not inconsiderable fury, the tirade occasionally punctuated with the odd poke to the centre of John’s chest.

“They build a, fucking, spaceship, my spaceship! I was assured that the engines we were working on wouldn’t be used until the IOA approved the construction. You should have told me. They used my designs without even consulting me.” John hit the wall with a quiet thud “ You must have known that your antiquated government would never get permission to build something like that. Why didn’t you tell me?” Rodney shouted. He looked at John taking several deep breaths as sad and hurt slowly pushed through the anger, the emotions leaching from John as the fear became overwhelming. Rodney sighed and shook his head, backing up until his knees hit the bed. He let himself fall in to a sitting position forearms resting on his thighs. John opened his mouth to speak but before he could even find the words Rodney cut him off. “ Let me guess, you were ordered not to?” Rodney glanced up just in time to watch as John closed his eyes and nodded before letting his head fall back and hit the wall with another thud.

“Sorry…”

“ It’s hardly your fault, John.” Carson murmured from the open doorway, Rodney jumped slightly as Carson spoke, surprised by his sudden presence. “You’re a soldier, it is your duty to follow orders.” Carson stepped in to the room and pushed the door shut before leaning on it. “ Now from what Elizabeth was saying it was going to take a while to reach wherever it was we’re going. I don’t care Rodney.” Rodney pulled a face as Carson pointed at him “You  two never really resolved your disagreement and I refuse to spend god only knows  how long in an overcrowded tin box while you to continue with your ridiculous ‘ pretend it never happened’ act. None of us are leaving until you talk.” Carson looked between the two of them before adding “And gentlemen, I had lunch and went to the bathroom before I came in here, I’m good for hours.”  Carson smiled sweetly at them and let himself slip down the door in to a seated position.

Original Departure date + 25 weeks

SGC – Rec room 2 , Level 15

John picked up a white knight, thin cotton gloves sliding on the painted steel, and carefully knocked over a black pawn before placing the knight back down.

“ Hah, see I was right, he isn’t as stupid as the hair would make you think!” Rodney crowed to Carson. Carson exchanged a sidelong look with John before rolling his eyes and humming at Rodney. John lifted a hand to his hair and petted it gently trying to knock the most wayward bits flat.

“How was it possible that no-one taught you to play chess? I would have thought teaching officers strategy would have been a good thing.”

“I’m not really an officer though…” John said in a barbed tone “What would the point have been?” John cocked his head to one side slightly and frowned at Rodney as he waited for the answer.

“Oh, no, not falling for that again. I’m not saying anything about you being an officer ever again. I barely survived the mad Scots man and his hostage holding techniques of conflict resolution last time.” Carson huffed a laugh and the discarded pawn flew off the board and lightly thwapped Carson in the centre of the forehead.

“Oi! Don’t be throwing your toys at me, I have nothing to do with this. Locking you two in a room was self-preservation!” Carson exclaimed grabbing the pawn and chucking it at Rodney who neatly stopped it and set it spinning before pointing at Carson. John stared at the spinning piece, heart beginning to race as he felt the group behind him begin to pay attention to the argument.

“ Nothing to do with you! It all has…”

“Guys, could you…” John tried to interrupt the burgeoning argument.

“You can’t blame me it’s not like I forced you to…” Carson shot back at Rodney an edge entering his voice,

John leant forward and softly said, “Look it might be best…” John felt the emotions in the room begin to take an aggressive tint.

“Well, Carson, maybe if you didn’t find it necessary to….” Rodney’s light-hearted mocking started to take a more serious edge.

“Please could you just…” John reached up and snatched the pawn out of the air between the two men “…stop that. People are looking.” He finished as they turned their attention to him. John carefully sat completely still as Rodney looked behind him at the rest of the rec room where half a dozen men and women were watching the trio around the chessboard carefully.

“Oh for crying out loud have you never seen someone learning how to play chess before?” Rodney exclaimed “ And if one of you even so much as considers telling me that I shouldn’t be teaching him anything then I’m going to…” John shut his eyes and almost invisibly tensed as he heard someone behind him get to their feet.

“Actually, Doc, I think the problem might be that we aren’t used to seeing floating chess pieces.  However we go to other planets for a living I’m sure every one in the room as seen odder things. And” He turned a hard glare on the rest of the room “ I’m sure that they all have far more interesting things to look at than two squabbling scientists.” John slowly breathed out, opening his eyes and relaxing slightly at Colonel Lorne’s voice. He carefully tracked the man’s progress across the room until he was stood beside John. 

“Doctor McKay, I understand that you aren’t used to being discreet but you may find it best to not antagonise people with whom you are going to share rather close quarters.” Rodney opened his mouth to speak but the man continued at a lower volume. “I can’t punish people for following the regulations and encouraging abnormal behaviour is against regulations. They might not be able to touch you but you should consider the implications for those around you.”

He turned his back on the scientists and placing a hand on John’s shoulder said “Sheppard, if you can’t contain your friend’s enthusiasm for the game I would recommend that you take your chess lessons somewhere a little less occupied. I’d rather not have to beat you bloody in front of the men. It’s not good for the chain of command.” John nodded as Carson and Rodney flinched, Carson lent forward placing a hand on Rodney’s thigh to hold him down.

“Of course Colonel Lorne” John said as he stared at Rodney, silently willing the man to not argue.

“By the way Sheppard, bishop to E7.” Lorne said comparably as he squeezed John’s shoulder. Brushing one fingertip against John’s bare neck the Colonel projected Don’t leave, before heading back to his original corner.

“John should we, I don’t know, leave?” Carson asked quietly, eyes flicking around the rest of the room, as John moved his bishop.

“Apparently not” John muttered softly.

“You really don’t seem bothered by the casual mention of being beaten for something that you aren’t even responsible for.” Rodney exclaimed slightly to loudly even as Carson hissed him to shut up.

“Soldier, Rodney, it’s a fairly violent profession. Besides it wouldn’t be the first time.” He stopped for a moment at the angry and shocked look on his companion’s faces. “ Would be the first time they didn’t want to though.” John offered in an apologetic tone before asking,“How do I move the rook?” Rodney let the deflection slide and began to explain why moving his rook would be a ridiculously bad idea.

Original Departure date + 26 weeks

“Your blood would boil instantly, you wouldn’t have to worry about decompression! This is insane, how can we possibly trust their engineering standards. Trade roots have been shut down how do we even know they had good materials to build it out of? No, no , no I don’t think you get how bad an idea this is.” John reached out and gently plucked the phone out of Rodney hand .

“Sorry, Doctor Weir, Doctor Mckay was a little overwrought right now. I’m sure you can understand, Ma’am. I will do that. Of course” Dropping the phone back into the stand John turns to lean on the desk saying “Doctor Weir thinks that you should go and eat. Oh and she said to tell you that we already did a vacuum test.” Rodney glares at him and with a small smile John added. “Still alive! So clearly the ship will be fine. Also American engineers are still some of the best in the world and we can trade through the gate fairly easily.” Spluttering Rodney let John lead him from the small office, through the lab and out towards the mess.

“It can’t be safe. It’s only been running for a couple of weeks.” Rodney argued as John guided him into the elevator. “What about hyperspace? That’s a totally different set of stresses and…” John laughed softly and lent back against the wall to watch as Rodney quickly ran though every argument he could think of to not get on the ship. Every now and again he would quietly interrupt to remind Rodney that they had spent the last few week testing every system while in orbit.

When they reached the mostly empty mess Rodney automatically peeled off to claim the table he preferred as John carefully picked through the bleak offering of sandwiches and collected enough chocolate pudding to soothe the panicking scientist.  He crept around the edges of the room to avoid the SG team slumped over a table in the middle of the mess before dropping the tray in front of Rodney and perching on the bench opposite him.

“You know why it’s so quiet in here?” John asked as Rodney carefully inspected the label on one of the sandwiches. When the man didn’t answer John carried on, “Everyone else on the Atlantis project is already on the Daedalus. They have been for two days, now we did need you to finish plotting the hyperspace coordinates but it’s time to go.” Rodney threw the pack of sandwiches he had been looking at to John and popped the other packed open, shoving half a sandwich into his mouth to avoid having to respond.

“ It feels wrong.” Rodney eventually said, “I’m cocooned in variable magnetic fields , I can sense every piece of ferrous metal around me and somewhere deep inside I can feel the subtle changes in the Earth’s magnetic field as I travel around the planet. On the Daedalus it’s all gone, the hull is made of none ferrous metals so all I can feel is the tiny vital elements of the ship that I could draw in.” John carefully slid his hand over the table and let his fingertips bump against Rodney’s softly projecting solidarity and understanding at him. “One nightmare. One slip. A miss reach for my tools and instead of dragging a pipe off the wall or a chair across the room I rip the heart out of the ship and leave us stranded in the black, tear the metal out of someone’s blood, pull that lump of shrapnel embedded in your rib right through your spleen…” John shifted forwards as Rodney’s words tumbled over each other before stuttering to a halt with an almost inaudible break in his voice. As he felt Rodney’s panic begin to turn into a panic attack John shifted around the table to sit next to him, dropping his head close to Rodney’s.

“Everyday I wake up and the entire base is open to me, my shields fall when I’m asleep and I reach out automatically to touch those around me. Every time I have a bad dream I wake up scrambling to tug my shields up and pull back from whoever’s mind I grabbed before I tear it to shreds in panic. When I get hurt I could lash out and leave the nurse trying to clean the wound a vegetable. Everyday, Rodney, I have to consciously restrain myself and take huge amounts of care to check and double check what I’m doing. It’s not easy but I guess you have almost as much as incentive as I did to learn that care.” John quickly grabbed his sandwich and avoided looking at Rodney as the other man stared at him in shock. After a long moment of quiet staring Rodney whispered,

“They have no idea what you can do, do they? You are so far beyond the norm that we don’t even have a scale to put you on.” John let himself rock away from Rodney as the other man nudged him, “You could have shattered them into pieces so why did you let them do that to you?”

“Have you ever been locked in a sensory deprivation chamber with a monster? Well, I guess for you it would be somewhere with no magnetic fields at all with a …person with no metal in them and no conscience?” John pushed to his feet and quickly grabbed the rubbish and empty tray. With a final glance at Rodney’s stunned face he added, “Everyone thinks that the truly psychically null are completely harmless. The problem is you all forget that to have no empathy, no ability to make connections with other humans, to feel guilt makes you a psychopath. I couldn’t touch him, Rodney, but he could touch me.” Across the mess the SG team’s conversation had stuttered to a halt as John’s voice carried in the echo of the almost empty room. Dumping the tray on the collection trolley John hurried from the room, slamming himself into the elevator and quickly heading to the beam up point for the Daedalus. He felt Rodney following him and sighed in relief as the doors closed before the other man could reach them, fear of space forgotten in his desire to try to comfort John.

Daedalus, Communal gym.

Original Departure date + 27.5 weeks

A gloved hand slammed into his face and John stumbled back straight in to a solid body. He was grasped tight and held as the marine in front of him pummelled his chest with blow after blow. Barely able to catch a breath, John lashed out backwards with his feet knocking the marine holding him to the ground. As the marine fell he drove his weight back winding him. The arms around him loosen and with a neat twist and tug John rolled free.  He dropped and shoulder rolled to his feet behind the remaining marine. In the split second it earned him, he delivered a double fisted blow on to the marine’s shoulder close to the spine.

“Out” Lorne shouted from the side-lines as the marine staggered forwards, crashing into the crowd around them. “One opponent still down and stunned, the other disabled. How do you finish the fight?” Lorne asked stepping between the marines and John.

“A kick across the jaw. If he stays down.” John replied eyeing the marine on the ground.

“Chief, you can take over here” Lorne ordered without looking away from John. The Master Chief quickly stepped into the centre of the group and began to select the next group to spar.

“Not a bad fight, you under manoeuvre but you started to get into it at the end.” Lorne motioned for John to follow him as he left the gym. “ You’re under trained in hand to hand, but then that’s not surprising. I don’t believe in having a weak link, John, and with your skill set you are going to be in my front line for exploration and defence. Ask for volunteers but if needs be remind them that you have a rank and I will enforce your orders.”  John stopped to stare at Lorne’s back for a moment until the man turned. “Rank is rank and I don’t give a toss what your previous CO’s opinions may have been. My command, my rules” John continues to look at him with a slight frown. “They’ll get the message quick enough Major. Besides we Air Force folk will have to stick together in this sea of flatfoots. “ He finished with a laugh and shaking his head Lorne walked off leaving John standing in the middle of the hall.

Daedalus, Communal gym.

Original Departure date + 27.7 weeks

“Look sir, you have to start the fight in the mood you usually finish them in. You wait until the other guy has got half a dozen good blows in and then, when you felt like he might just kill you, you start fighting back.  I can see why you fight like that but you need to train yourself out of it.” Sargent Stackhouse softly commented from his crouch next to the fallen Major. Softly spoken as they were the words echoed slightly in the empty hangar that had been commandeered as a gym.

“Kind of not that easy.” John sighed rolling to his feet, he inhaled sharply before huffing “Ok, let try this again shall we?” The two men repositioned themselves on opposite sides of the mat and at John’s nod Stackhouse stepped forwards and began to attack. Behind them Markham began to shout directions at John, clear instructions that had John quickly swinging to follow what years of training interpreted as an order.

“Right, that might work.” Stackhouse gasped as the slimmer man pinned him to the man with ease. Markham quickly crossed the room from where he had been perched to offer his partner a hand up before looking at John appraisingly,

“OK, so you know how to fight. All we have to do is convince your brain that I’m yelling at you every time someone aims a punch.” The easy familiarity that months of bunking together had earned them let John drop his head onto Markham’s shoulder for a second as he whined.

“Or you could just follow me around everywhere. That would work, right?”

Daedalus, Beckett, McKay, Sheppard quarters.

Original Departure date + 28.4 weeks

The Daedalus was an odd place to live it was a bizarre mix of hospital cleanliness and unfinished battle cruiser and the people an odd mix of air force, navy and scientists. Those heading for Atlantis had been banished to a few remote corners after a few days. Colonel Lorne decreeing that they were distracting the flight crew and that was the end of it.

This had lead to some worrying developments starting with John being dragged in to game of basketball by the marines, without them being ordered to include him, and ending with his current predicament. Being stuck in a tiny room with Carson and Rodney wouldn’t normally be a problem. He was used to being around them and they had both become very adept at blocking their emotions from him. It was however a problem when the tiny four bed bunk, that at a push could fit eight people if you sat two a bed, had close to twenty people in it. Every one of them strongly defending their particular area of expertise as each of them demanded that John declare that their area was the best. John wasn’t used to being popular and suddenly he was the most popular person on the ship. At least he was with the scientists, he still wasn’t sure about the marines thing.

“Look it is blatantly obvious that the only fluent Ancient reader is far more necessary than someone who can turn a toaster in to … hum let see… a toaster that works slightly more efficiently” the speaker, a young man in his early twenties was drowned out for a moment in disapproving cries. After a few seconds he broke back through. “ now… Wait…. Now I’m not saying that toast that actually cooks without getting you doused in fire suppressant isn’t nice. But knowing whether the device you have picked up was a bomb or a male fertility device…”

“Typical soft scientist! Obsessed with the sex!” came the cry from the engineers and physicists huddled near Rodney’s bunk.

“A Fertility device! Is far more important. Right, Major?” The original speaker shouted.

“No, no, no! I am blatantly more important to a man like the major I’m the guy who can make anything from guns to warheads. I keep him in bullets when we inevitable meet someone like the Goa’uld.” A tall, muscular, blond who John was half convinced Rodney referred to as ‘the blacksmith’ called from the bed immediately to John ‘s left.

My gods, I am stuck in this very small room with a bunch of completely and utterly insane people. All Lorne has to do was turn the oxygen of and he would be rid of us all. With this lot gone he could just turn round and go home. We aren’t halfway yet. John though desperately as he tilted his head back to stare at the roof, quietly glad that he had climbed onto the top bunk when the first group had invaded.

“Ah, but I can forge bullets from the very blood of his enemies” Rodney called from the hard backed chair he had claimed right at the start of this strange meeting. The entire room fell silent with a look of pained disgust on their faces. Rodney quickly added “I can make nuclear war heads and if it was really necessary I could learn Ancient. I already speak twelve languages, how hard can it be?” Every linguist in the room immediately leapt in to action defending their job and questioning the validity of Rodney’s claim.

“Aye, well, I have to say you are all daft. I, of course, will be the most useful. I can fix John up when he gets hurt, and unlike most of my profession I can fix almost anything. I can make his body literally regrow a limb or identify the tiniest change in his base chemical design and get his body to purge the unwanted material.” Carson quickly added cutting right over all the mutters. John stopped staring at the ceiling to look between his two friends at the open declaration of just how powerful their mutations were. Carson slid a foot down the bed they were sharing to nudge John’s knee to prompt him to blink even as Rodney began to argue.

“Yes, but you aren’t a scientist. We true scientists only let you in because John said he would only stay if we didn’t make you leave.”

“Why, Rodney, are you admitting that Linguists and psychiatrists are true scientists? Or was it just that you could out do doctors Heightmeyer and Jenkins?” John laughingly exclaimed shocking everyone as he finally decided to speak.

“Well, all this debate it lovely but you are all missing the greatest of us all. Me! Without myself none of you would be here. Without my pushing and perseverance you would all be sat in your respective institutes lamenting over the fact that you had this amazing chance to go one the biggest adventure of your life. However a million year old software fault got in the way! And before you say it Rodney I think you will find that seeing as you accepted that Psychology and linguistics are sciences, diplomacy must be one too!” Elizabeth crowed from the doorway. As she spoke the crowd started to look around finally seeming to realise how crammed in they were. They all tried to turn in different directions to get out with nearly every one of them bashing elbows or head butting each other and hitting the bunks. 

After a few moments everyone had left with the great debate of who was more important carrying on out of the door. Elizabeth looked pointedly at Carson and Rodney for a long moment before sighing.

“John, it is quite impossible to get you with out the entourage these days.” John smiled slightly and nodded his head in a ‘what can you do way’ “I was asked to give you this note by general O’Neill” she handed him a thick envelope made of heavy almost fabric like material. “He didn’t tell me what was inside but he did say that it was unlikely that you would remember the events that he has written about. He also said that the lack of memory was quite purposeful but it had become necessary for you to remember.” She stood and carefully placing a hand on his shoulder she squeezed softly before walking to the door. Stopping she turned “ Gentlemen, the general did mention that you don’t have clearance.” She arched an eyebrow delicately and after a scant second Rodney had risen to his feet pulling Carson off the bunk as he passed. Elizabeth stepped back into the room for a moment to let them pass.

“John.” He looked up at her “ It’s good to see you so comfortable” and with that she left, and as usual John was left wondering well she had really know his brother.

John frowned to himself and twisted the letter in his hands for a while before flipping it over and staring at the back like it might give him a hint to the content. He slipped one finger in to the flap and quickly ripped it up, opening the envelope.  He read the letter occasionally flipping back to read the last page again. As he finished the 10-page letter he sat there staring at the pages blankly. Mind burning as a wall fell and he remembered.

– – –

“never understood all that shitin fuck about mutants being dangerous. I mean my Charlie he was beautiful. Angelic even!” the speaker was a dangerous looking man in an American uniform being supported by John who was dressed head to toe in black. The older man was in his forties and good looking was aged by pain and bad times.  The younger man looked distinctly uncomfortable at the position he was in, holding his head as far away from the drunk man as possible and despite the boiling heat of the midday heat radiating back up off the desert they are walking across he was wearing long gloves and full length sleeves with a turtle neck shirt.  The sky was lit with two suns and an odd purple hue filled the sky. Behind the two men was a marine with an obscenely large gun and if you looked ahead you could see two marines just far enough ahead to carefully not hear the rambling as they carry what was clearly a body.

“You see Charlie, my angelic little boy, my father-in-law used to call him a cherub. Hehe. He certainly became one. My boy was a pilot’s wet dream! No, no, not what you’re thinking not in that perverted way. But my boy he could FLY! He could fucking fly Shep! Can you imagine it? This tiny little kid was everything I always wanted to be. Can you imagine what it would felt like to be out of a cockpit? Free, free of machinery and free of metal and just to fly. Free of everything so young that you have no cares and no idea of the consequences. You can simply what you are intended to be a marvel of biological design, the perfect flying machine. Free. Totally free!” The drunk man’s voice had raised explosively to a fevered pitch and pace until he sounded like he would explode with pride and joy and something once had “I was always amazed. His mother killed herself you know. Well of course you didn’t but she did. When they started growing I told her, ‘shush, have to hide it. Can’t let them find out’  but she couldn’t cope so she killed herself. Stupid, beautiful, arrogant, selfish bitch. I love her so fucking much.” John stopped to hitch the older man higher up wincing and one knee buckling slightly as a gesturing hand hits him in the face.

“Jeez, sir, you might want to be a bit quieter about this.” John muttered glancing ahead at the marines pointedly.

“Nah. See, I don’t care any more. Everyday I watch my people die and I think why should I fucking care what the government thinks? I’m on another freaking world blowing up people with snakes in their head. I’m shooting baby marines who got in the wrong place at the wrong time and got taken over by one of those shitty snakes. So guess what! The government can take its stupid policies and its stupid backwards laws and shove them up its collective asses.  The government killed my little boy. What the fuck was he going to do? Not like you was he? Drilling his way into people heads uninvited!” John flinched and quite deliberately tripped sending the older man sprawling in the sand even as he managed to keep his feet.

“Sorry. Colonel” he muttered picking the somewhat subdued man up off the desert sand.

“Know, I didn’t mean it that way, don’t you, Shep. I like you and you don’t mean to do it. Talent like that it’s a fucking curse to us. I mean you. I meant us as in the upstanding military folk who… fuck it forget that will ya.”

“Sir, yes sir, forgetting all of this as you speak.” John muttered as he stopped listening to the Colonel ramble his way down from the drunken high of the locals ‘kinship ceremony’

The entire mission had been a mess, a terrible bloody mess, and it was hardly the first that he had been on with the Colonel.

As the memories poured back a theme began to appear, blood soaked missions that ended with Jack O’Neill saying slightly too much and then getting far too close to John before it all got locked away.

Blood blurred his vision as John slit the throat of the young man in his arms. The body jerked obscenely but John kept tight hold, holding on as much out of shock at the evil he felt wash through him off of the man as to stop the body falling on top of any of the injured that surrounded him. The feeling of life slid out of the man’s mind leaving a bloody mix of shock, at the fact he had been killed, and relief that it was all over. The feeling of coating, clinging, suffocating slime was taking longer to leave. The Goa’uld don’t felt evil when you touch the host, just over whelming and claustrophobic.

The blood was cold the next time John was aware of his surroundings, and he shivered as it dried, cooling him despite the desert heat. He heard gunfire in the distance and rose to his feet, hands loose at his side as he prepared his mind to face the next onslaught.

– – –

Rodney and Carson stood in the hallway, having snuck back after Elizabeth has walked way. Rodney raised one hand to tap on the door but Carson caught his wrist gently, nodding to the slightly ajar door. The pair leaned in a little closer and listened, there was the sound of pages turning occasionally broken by a snuffle or John clearing his throat. With a prod to Rodney’s shoulder, Carson gestured down the hallway and they walked away quietly.

“Do you think he’s okay? Maybe we should go back and ask?” Rodney asked as they rounded the first corner,

“Rodney.” Carson muttered disapprovingly.

“Right stoic and stalwart…”

Broken and damaged, suffering and silent. I can think of a thousand of them. Carson snorted to himself, not that he would ever admit to any of them. Stupid hero types. “He’ll be fine, he’s always fine.”

“Surely the fact that he claimed to be fine when he had practically burnt his brain out is a good indicator that he was completely incapable of judging that for himself?”

“If he needs us, he will find us.” Carson sighed biting his lip slightly. He stopped walking and turned to look at Rodney, “stop being so pessimistic. O’Neill is an okay guy. It’s hardly going to be a soul destroying letter”

“I was born to be a pessimist. My blood type was B Negative.” Rodney shot back

“The fuck it is, Rodney!” Carson exclaims with a small grin. “I’m your doctor you idiot!”

“Well it should be.” He replied stroppy. Carson took one look at his face and began to laugh

“You look ridiculous lad, grumpy suits you but petulant makes you look like you’ve been told to train  a lab assistant!” They reach a t-junction, walking straight on would lead them to the mess and following the curve of the corridor lead back around to the sleeping quarters. Without looking at each other and without a word they turned and followed the path around and back towards John.

– – –

Another memory rocked through John as he curled further into the corner of the room, forehead pressed against the wall hard enough to bruise.

A flash filled the darkness of the cavern suddenly and John looked up to see himself tied to the wall, the memory flickering as his mind fought the idea that the memory was not his. Burns and cuts were painted over his thighs, long cuts covered his body where clothing had been sliced harshly off. His leg hung oddly, clearly broken, and a sudden burn of remembered pain let him  know a wrist was shattered. John keened as his mind fought between his own memories of the mission and the ones that had been placed there. Through the pain he remembered O’Neill leaning in slightly too close and whispering ‘I need too… I promise you won’t remember when it’s over. Just a moment of pain, Shep.’ The flashback rolled back over him, harsh and exhausting. 

A young boy was torn out of his arms and in the scuffle that started the child spread his wings and launched into the sky. Bright wings with the metallic hues of a humming bird filled his vision as the boy climbed above the roof of the house, slowly becoming a silhouette against the sun. The familiar clunk of rifle against a car roof had him twisting and fighting in the arms of the Agent pinning him to the ground. 

The memory flickered and shifted as John tried to lift a hand to trace the shape of the wings in the sky.

He pulled up the driveway, to the same house as before, in the soft light of pre-dawn. Easy motions had him locking the car and pushing open the gate to the backyard to creep through the kitchen door. A gently motion caught his attention and drew him towards the tree at the far end of the lawn. The pastel light revealing hair like burnished gold. The hemp made into a gold collar. The blue of her skin hidden by the blush colours of the rising sun. The cold of her skin had him tumbling to his knees and grabbing the bundle of blankets dumped at her feet. Breath barely escaping his tight throat. Bright sunlight bounced off the shining, delicate wings to cast colourful reflections on the warm pink skin of the sleeping toddler.  Jack rose to his feet and stumbled on numb legs into the house. He dialled the phone by rote. He sat, child in his lap for hours. He didn’t bother to search, their child was her note.

Why John tried to tug the blanket over the child, to hide the wings the memory shattered.  ‘Sorry, Shep, I’ve gotta. Need the break, need to think… crappy thing to do but I need it.’ The memory of O’Neill whispered. The images came in harsh flashes and John silently screamed as he remembered the agony of another telepath invading his head and shoving their memories in to him.

A funeral, the tiny child is in a coffin, wings artfully arranged to fan out then covered by light cloth.     

A gun clacking against his teeth. The taste of gun oil and metal flooding his tongue. The sound of the front door opening.

A desert, on Earth, one sun and blue sky. John see’s himself crouched in the distance, fingers wrapped around the wrist of a small Middle Eastern boy with wings. John realised that he could remember this, listening to the boy speaking quick Farsi. Knew that the boy just wanted to go home, that he would never say a word about the Americans he met. John remembered this and he fought to not see it again from another angle. Nausea filling him.

He drew his pistol and strode to the pair in the distance, gun tucked behind his back out of sight. When John nodded and began to tell him what the boy knew, he lifted the gun behind the boy’s head, out of the boy’s sight but where John could see. John’s eyes widened but he obediently rose to his feet and moved out of the way without an order being needed. The shot shattered through John’s playful chatter with the boy, swift and easy Farsi stuttering to a halt. He watched as John’s training broke for a moment and the mutant staggered away. Dropping to his knees in the distance to throw up.

They come out of nowhere, just like the boy had told them. ‘They rise from the sand like bugs, unseen until you get too close. They take you and you don’t come back.’ The attack is swift and harsh but Jack’s team remember themselves and don’t fight back. Getting captured was the aim of the game.

A flash filled the darkness of the cavern suddenly as unconsciousness faded away. He looked up to see John tied to the wall, just as he did every time he woke up after the latest beating. Burns and cuts were littered over the mutant’s thighs and groin. His eyes bright with fever and pain. long cuts covered his body where clothing had been sliced harshly off. His leg hung oddly, clearly broken, and deep, swollen bruising marked out the wrist that they had shattered last time Jack had tried to escape.

Slowly Jack rose to his feet and lent against the wall next to John, he slid his hand onto the bare skin of the man’s shoulder and tried to ignore the broken pleas that fell from his lips. “Sorry, Shep, I’ve gotta. Need the break, need to think… crappy thing to do but I need it.” He muttered as he carefully bundled his worst memories together and finally freed himself from carrying them. Beneath his hands John didn’t even scream.

John flung himself to his feet as he managed to break free of the endless wash of memories. Staggering,he tried to reach the door. A desperate desire for comfort driving him to find Carson. He fell, his shoulder hit the door, slamming it shut as he fell half against it and half on the wall.

The child was torn from his arms and in the scuffle that started the child spread his wings, instinct and his father’s pleas sending him into flight. Bright wings with the metallic hues of a humming bird filled his vision as the boy climbed above the roof of the house, slowly becoming a silhouette against the sun. The familiar clunk of rifle against a car roof had Jack twisting and fighting in the arms of the Agent pinning him to the ground.

“Fly, ‘Rus. Go on baby, keep going.” Jack yelled. his shouts drawing neighbours out of their houses to stand on their porches and shake their heads at the latest failings of Jack O’Neill. He could hear the thoughts waiting to become mutters,

‘Wife killed herself because of that little monster and he won’t even let them take it away to serve it’s purpose’,

‘It almost seems cruel. But it’s not like those things are human, more like a dog that bites. We’re all safer with it gone’,

‘She already did half the job for them. Should just take down the whole family. That’s that my dad says!’

Jack locked his eyes on the rising boy, calculating distance and the reach of the shot he could hear being loaded. The shot rang out, silencing the whole neighbourhood. The boy fell, wings spread and locked. Twirling like a Maple seed, gracefully to the ground. The fiery reds and oranges of his feathers catching in the light of the sun like flames.

The Agent let him go as he stopped fighting. Lying in the middle of the street, not even able to blink. The Agent laughed coldly and looked across at his partner.

“I guess Icarus really does fall in flames.”

– – –

The shouts and the shoving at his shoulder broke the hold. John tumbled to the side limply as the door was finally shoved open. John frowned slightly as he noticed the blood starting to pool on the ground in front of him. A soft, familiar pressure washed over him and the pain in his head began to ease. The words being spoke over his head slowly started to make sense and after a long moment John flinched away from the hand pressed to his cheek. Pressing against the wall to sit up.

The look Carson directed at whoever was in the door way told John all he need to know about how he looked, his shaking hands letting him know how wrecked his body really was.

“He’s in shock.” Carson said softly, John frowned as he realised that he couldn’t feel who it was stood in the doorway. ‘I’ve stopped the haemorrhaging but it’s like his mind just upped and decided to rip itself apart.”

Lifting a hand from where it was pressed against the floor, John held it out to Carson. Carson stared at the pale skin that was normally covered by a glove before stepping forward to take hold of it.

John rose as Carson tugged on the hand and with ease pulled John up to his feet. He was gently tugged in forwards and in to Carson’s  arms, tucking John against his chest tightly. John shivered before relaxing and letting his head tucking to Carson’s neck, the comfort and affection seeping through his entire body.

Behind John, Rodney cleared his throat and the door clanged shut as he left. John let Carson tug him towards the bunks and tumbled down with him as the doctor moved to lie on the bed, hand soothing over John’s hair. Letting his eyes fall shut John slowly drifted into sleep.

Eventually Rodney returned and when he opened the door he found Carson reading a medical journal with John flattened along the wall and pressed against Carson. His shoulder on Carson’s hip, face down and his head resting on his stomach. Quiet words were gently passing between them, not a conversation as such more verbal reassurance to both of them that the other was fine. When Rodney dropped stop sit on the edge of the bed John lifted his head and began to peel himself of Carson even as Rodney began to grumble at them.

“Food is one of those essential parts of life. As a medical man you should know that and as a military man your freaky little internal clock should have let you know that the mess is almost done serving. Between you, you should have been able to figure out that I was waiting for you but as you clearly couldn’t I thought I would come and get you before I collapse into a hypoglycemic coma and die. Not that either of you would notice at the moment seeing as you are totally wrapped up in each other and friendships clearly fade to insignificance given the chance for some strange pseudo-sexual time.

I, however, am not prepared to starve to death or watch my friends starve to death just because they are too absorbed in their own little world to tell the time.”  Carson dropped his journal down so that he could stare at Rodney with a bemused expression. While John carefully slid to a siting position by Carson’s knee. “I mean John looks like he’s starving to death half the time anyway so how you can possibly lie there reading while he misses an opportunity to put some weight on I just don’t comprehend.” The rant continued as Rodney began to tug Carson off the bed, passing him a fresh shirt to replace the one that had become rumpled and stained as John lent on it “Mind you, me actually comprehending something that you do would be amazing. Although neither of you are as bad as Kanavan, I had a dream that I was him… It was like I was an insect of some sort. I was so stupid; I didn’t have the brain capacity to understand exactly how unintelligent I was. Every time I thought that I had come up with something amazing it just almost killed me. It was horrible.” He carefully chucked a damp cloth at John while pointing at the man’s face.

“Does that mean you now felt sorry for Kanavan?” Carson asked as John gently wiped the last traces of blood off his face.

“No it just means that if I ever, ever suffer a major brain trauma and lose brain cells you have to kill me before I wake up. I just couldn’t live like that!”

“Well it would do for us to let our actions kill Rodney would it now, John?” Carson said with a grin,

“ I guess not.” John’s voice was small, the carefree ease from earlier gone as he prepared to head out into the ship.

“Come on, let’s get you fed before you fall and hurt your precious brain.” Carson said quickly, grasping Rodney’s elbow and starting to pull him out of the door,

“Maybe you should stay here if….” Rodney started saying twisting to look back at John.

“ Maybe you should just leave it” Carson hissed in a low almost deadly murmur even as John shook his head and moved to walk a few paces behind them.

When they reached the mess John quickly moved to join the queue to collect the food as Carson dragged Rodney to the table furthest from the rest of the occupants and dropped into the chair opposite the one Rodney had chosen. The two men sat in silence for a while until, eventually Carson sighed.

“Think of it like when you wrenched your back. After a few days you were in pain but you had started to adapt to it  so you could mostly ignore it. Then when the injury was healed and the pain was gone you could still feel the odd twinges as your brain carried on firing the pain receptors for a while because it thought you should still be in pain. After a while your brain stopped sending the false pain and you had this huge rush to do all the things you couldn’t do while you were in pain, things you wouldn’t have done before the pain.” When Rodeny frowned at him Carson added, “Like when you went skiing. You took a fall and hurt your back again, You had to go all the way back through the healing bit first before you could get back to where you were when you went skiing. But it went a little faster because you already knew how it was going to go and what to avoid doing.” Rodney looked at Carson, mulling it over until Carson touched his arm and said,

“He will never be like you and me. There will never be a time when it becomes totally normal and always feels safe to act like we do. There will always be times when the wrong word or move or person won’t send him running back to hide behind old behaviours. There will be days, even in twenty years time, where he will go back to this. And that is fine, just like you will never do some of the things you did before you damaged your back again.” Rodney twisted in  his chair to look over at John as he collected drinks and began to pick through the desserts on offer.

“There probably won’t be twenty years like this for him” he said bitterly as John flinched out of the way of one of the marines, managing to make it look like he was just moving further down the counter.

“If I thought that do you think he or I would even be here?” Carson asked softly. Rodney frowned at him before lifting his eyebrows, Carson shrugged “How hard do you think it would have be for me to convince them that the only way we could ever hope to syntheses the gene was for me to take the person with the strongest expression of the gene back to my research lab at the University? And once I had him on UK soil the mutant protection act would have kept them from sending him back. I never was all that interested in finding Atlantis.”

“Then why did you stay?” Rodney whispered,

“Because for what might be the first time in his life. John feels he has a purpose that is more than just being a destructive force. He’s been a weapon for his entire life. Can you even imagine what it must feel like to suddenly realise that you are needed for something far grander?” As Carson finished speaking John appeared next to Rodney’s shoulder, making Rodney jump. He carefully placed their food in front of them before retreating to the seat tucked at the end of the table. The furthest point in the room he could find from other people.

Daedalus, Infirmary.

Original Departure date + 28.6 weeks

“Ow, you don’t have to poke me that hard, I can feel you’re pissed with me without the shoving my ribs through my chest.” Carson frowned at the hurt tone before pressing on John’s ribs for a third time. John flinched and slid across the bed looking at Carson all hurt. Carson pulled the latex glove off his left hand and after taking a calming breath he rested his hand on John’s bare shoulder and lightly tugged the slim man back towards him as he projected Not pissed, m’ worried for you with a tendril of care, affection, love wrapped through the message. He smiled as John relaxed slightly and let himself be pulled back towards the poking and prodding.

I still don’t think you need to poke me that hard! Slipped across the connection making Carson laugh softly even as John pulled a slightly panicky face glancing around them before reached up to knock Carson’s hand off his shoulder.

“Sorry, lad” Carson muttered, after a moment he added “ I think at least one of these was broken” carefully sliding two fingers along the worst of the bruising, making John shiver.

“Really? Or was that just a…” John asked in a near whisper his hand twisting on his lap as though he wanted to waft it through the air.

“I really do think it’s broken. And I really am sorry” Carson said motioning for one of the nurses to bring him a treatment trolley

“That’s ok, Doc’, it takes more than some rough handling to upset me” John smiled brightly as the nurse arrived and handed Carson a syringe as she nudged the trolley closer with a hip.

“Aye, well, I’m afraid you’ll have to stop picking fights you can’t win for a few weeks, these ribs need some time to fix themselves.” Carson stabbed John with a painkiller and, leaning slightly to close as he passed John his shirt, pressing a kiss against his forehead just as he flicked the shirt up to cover the motion.

“No support?” John asked quietly as he started to lift his arms to slide the tee-shirt down, wincing as he began to move.

“Nope, It can cause problems with breathing and that can lead to pneumonia. Also sometimes it can cause the broken end of the rib to shift and damage the lung, especially when you cough to clear your lungs because you can’t breath deeply.” At John’s slightly horrified look Carson chuckled and added, “It’s pretty rare for that to happen. Especially without the support bandage.” John gave up on getting the shirt on and dumped it on the bed and carefully pulling his jacket on instead.

“They always wrapped my ribs in the past.” He shrugged, wincing then shifting uncomfortably to settle the jacket in place “It’s not about winning you know, the Colonel wants them to see me as one of them.” He said slipping off the bed.
“And you really think that they…”Carson hissed before gesturing with a finger and murmuring. “Come with me” as he tugged John out of the room.

“Carson?” John asked as they wound their way through the ship towards one of the rec rooms that John tended to avoid. Carson just tightened his grip a started walking a little faster.

When they arrive Carson leant through the doorway to check the room was empty before they walked in. He pulled John across the room and quickly flipped the darts scoreboard over so the back was showing. The board was split in two with the columns headed ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, the scores almost reaching the end of the board. One column filled, extra marks overflowing the line down the middle while the other had barely a handful of lines.

As John stared at the board blankly Carson muttered, “If winning isn’t everything, why are they keeping score?”

John eventually pulled the board off the wall, tucked it under his arm and quickly guided Carson out of the room.

“I’ll walk with you back to the infirmary. Have your staff meeting over lunch, you don’t go alone and you stand in the line with your team.” he ordered setting a fast pace as he half dragged Carson back in the direction they had come.

“John?” Carson asked worriedly, “What are you…”

“I have to find the Colonel.” John said grimly, cutting Carson off as they reached the infirmary door “There are too many marks on here.” He paused, and laughed harshly, “and I never win.”

 

About the author

Pickingupellen

PickingupEllen is a fanfiction writer and fanartist from Scotland who no longer lives in the sticks.

2 comments

  1. SinfulWolf

    Hi I was reading this back when you had it up on AO3. I am saddened that I never left a reply, and exceedingly happy that I was able to find this wonderful story again. I am sorry that you were harassed. I can say that not everyone agrees with the select opinions of brainless idiots. I have to tell you, I adore Flight Icarus. You have done a marvelous job depicting john so broken and yet with such a need to want him to be whisked away from the life he has lives. Your pacing is wonderful and frankly I love the dystopian mutant verse. I think it is fresh and unique. I greatly hope that you find it in you to finish this wonderful epic, not for your readers but for you. It is clear that this is a story that you want to tell and you have put so much hard work, it would be tragic to see it gone. Happy New Year, I shall wait eagerly for a hopeful next installment. 🙂

    1. Pickingupellen

      Thank you, I love this little world of mine too but I needed a break from it for a while. I’m feeling much better about it now so one of my goals for this year is to finish this story (I’m am rubbish at meeting goals I set for myself so we’ll see about that one!)

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