Pairing: Sheppard/OMC, Sheppard/Nancy, Sheppard/Holland, Sheppard/McKay, Sheppard/Atlantis, Sheppard/Lorne
Series: Dramatic Exit
Summary: Seven people that John Sheppard has love, and what he regrets about each one
Author's notes: Beta by archae_ology.
1) Steven Hamilton
The less said about Steve, the better. John should have known better than to think there was such a thing as love at seventeen, or that it could possibly end well. Still, if a quarterback in the Deep South could like him, you know, like that, what was the worst that could happen in California?
In retrospect, saying that aloud had probably been a bad idea.
Steve was just about everything a young maybe-possibly just-a-little queer guy could want. He was tall and incredibly fit, had sun-bleached hair and a great tan, and his smile was dazzling. He was energetic and outgoing, captain of the varsity basketball team (no one was quite perfect), and had the kind of easy-going charm that made everyone want to like him. He was even a fellow service brat who's father was stationed at Vanderberg just like his mom and one of his uncles. John had fallen into his circle of friends within a week, and within a month they were starting to near best friends territory, or at least that's what John had thought. After two months, John was head over heals in the biggest crush ever.
It took three more months to work up the nerve to actually do anything. He'd had high hopes going in, and not without reason. John had gone through a short but fun fling with a friend back at his previous posting, a relationship born as much out of the knowledge they'd never see each other again if things went bad as it was of attraction, and it'd gone well right up until his mom had walked in one night. John had noticed that Steve never seemed to pay nearly as much attention to girls as most of the other guys did, which made him think that maybe he wouldn't mind some companionship of the male sort.
John finally made his move on a Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect and John had just aced his calculus exam, which had to be some kind of good sign. He managed to get Steve alone after school and after few minutes of chatting managed to force himself to ask the question. John suggested they grab a bite to eat and maybe catch a movie. Steve had laughed and said it sounded like he was asking him on a date. John laughed to and denied it, but he must have hesitated or shown something in his expression. Steve stepped back quickly and stared at him, his twisted with disgust, and the first words out of his mouth where, "You fucking faggot." John tried to deny it at first, but that only made Steve angrier, and soon he was shouting that if John didn't stay away from him he'd beat the shit out of him and tell everyone what he was.
John just sucked it up and nodded sharply, then stalked away with his back straight and head held tall. He was proud of keeping his self-control and not belting the bastard right there, and for managing not break down and cry when he got home. His stiff upper lip lasted until his mom got home, because all it took was one look for her to figure out that there was something wrong. She'd held John in her arms while he told her everything, manfully managing not to sob, until he'd eventually worked it out of his system. He had never seen her so furious before, and after later that night, as he lay sleepless in bed and stared at the ceiling, he had heard her talking angrily on the phone with his grandmother. On Monday Steve showed up at school black and blue and doing all he could to avoid John, and John couldn't help but notice that two of his cousins shadowed him for a few weeks until the Hamiltons moved away because of a sudden transfer to Alaska. Even John's asshole older brother Dave managed to look sympathetic the next time he was living with Dad, at least for the first day or two.
John doesn't really regret loosing that friendship, because anyone who would turn on someone that easily wasn't worth his time and probably never had been. He just wonders sometimes if he'd be a little better at the whole relationship if his first try hadn't crashed and burned so badly. On the bright side, at least it'd left him prepared for Bob.
2) Todd Stirling
Todd and John were in classes together at Stanford. Pale, stick-thin, and floppy-haired he looked every bit as geeky as he was. He was also openly and unashamedly gay, and while that wasn't as unthinkable as it once had been it was still unusual. It was a bad idea for an ROTC student to be around with someone like him, but before John knew what he was doing they were studying together, went gaming together, and for reasons he's not entirely clear on one night they started sleeping together. They were together for almost three years, and he even took Todd home to meet his mom, although he never quite worked up the nerve to introduce him to his dad. More than once John wondered if he'd found the one he wanted to spend his life with. It wasn't like he didn't have plenty of options available to him if that was the choice he wanted to make.
In the end, though, John wanted to fly and wanted to serve more than he wanted Todd. Staying together back in the bad old days of witch hunts would have put that at risk, and beyond that John knew how much it'd have hurt Todd to try to hide things for longer. It was an incredible relief when Todd was understanding and admitted he'd always known which way John would go. They parted friends and kept in touch. Todd's an engineer now, a rather good one in fact, and from time to time John's considered asking Radek to invite him to the program. He hasn't done it yet, though, and now it would be really, really awkward to try to explain to Todd, and for that matter everyone else, why he named a Wraith after him.
3) Nancy Collins
John met Nancy while they were in grad school. He was finishing up his masters in aeronautical engineering, she was doing something in criminal psychology, and he literally hadn't seen her coming and ran into her in the library. They ended up talking; talking led to dinner, and dinner lead to him taking her home. It wasn't the first time he'd been attracted to a woman, but it was the first time he thought that he might find something more from one than a quick lay. Nancy was smart, witty, funny, kind, all the things he wanted in a partner. It took less than five months before he was taking her home, first to his dad and then to his mom, and shortly after than he found himself at the altar.
John's not sure what he was thinking when he proposed, really. Maybe he wanted to finally find someone that would please both his parents - certainly his father was be thrilled with anyone who wasn't male, let alone someone as smart and charming as Nancy. Maybe he was getting tired to having to make up stories for the guys in his unit. Maybe he genuinely loved her at the time and thought it'd be enough. All he knows is that after about six months of marital bliss, they started to drift apart. His time overseas flying medevac and other less speakable things didn't help, but even when he was in the states things continued to spiral downhill. It wasn't acrimonious or anything like that, there were no huge fights, but long silences instead. They stopped having sex, and from there the marriage went into an uncontrolled dive. When he found himself not just looking at other guys but wanting them, John put his foot down and told her that he couldn't do it anymore.
They separated, although they marriage didn't actually end until Nancy met the new guy - Gary? - and John was about to be deployed to Afghanistan. It was convenient for both of them to stay married, which maybe summed up all the things that were wrong about it in the first place. John's always been glad that their marriage didn't end explosively like those of many of his colleagues. Nancy never deserved that kind of pain and trouble, and he's glad she's happy now.
4) Tim Holland
John wished he'd found to nerve to tell Holland that he was turning into more than just a fuck buddy before it was too late. There was some small satisfaction in the way the dying man had smiled when he finally did say it, though.
5) Rodney McKay
John's loved Rodney since about the time he let John shove him off a balcony. John didn't say anything about it then, but they soon fell into a comfortable pattern of playful bickering interspersed with occasional bouts of "thank god we're alive" or "screwy alien ritual" sex. They were just two friends with some benefits, never mind that they were closer to each other than John had ever been with someone else. John kept any extra feelings safely locked away where they wouldn't bother anyone, not trusting himself not to make a mess of any attempt to see if Rodney might feel the same way. During that first panic-filled year he was already barely hanging on, and he couldn't even think about what consequences a rejection might have for everyone.
It took until well into the second year for John to give an actual relationship a shot. They'd just gotten settled back into the city after that entire fucked-up disaster with Ford, and hearing what Rodney had done to try to save them touched something in John. After a few weeks of fretting, John asked Rodney on a date, and Rodney had agreed in a manner that could only be described as gleeful. As John would later tell Lorne and Parrish (or rather rant at them), he really should have recognized the warning signs and run for the nearest transporter.
Rodney the pal was great. However, John soon discovered that Rodney the boyfriend was insufferable. He worked long hours and refused to leave the labs no matter what they had scheduled, he outright ignored John's attempts to be romantic, disagreed with him about everything, and to top it off he blew John in the game room specifically to distract him from the stupid mine that he was building in John's territory. Not only that, but he was absolutely insatiable in bed -- and pretty much everywhere else. Rodney was hornier than an entire squad of marines, and apparently to him the word 'boyfriend' meant 'space slut slash sex slave'. Within a week John was so exhausted that he was all but falling asleep at his desk. Well, no, that was inaccurate - he was falling asleep on the office couch, because he couldn't sit on the hard chair at his desk.
The last straw came when Rodney blew off a date they'd had planned for a week. John had gone to the trouble of actually making dinner himself, and when Rodney 'forgot' about it and got caught up in a simulation anyone could have done, John threw in the towel and broke up with him. Maybe if they'd tried for longer they could have actually managed a stable relationship, but John had neither the stamina nor the patience for that. They went back to being friends and if anything were even closer than before. Also, who could have guessed that "we're not boyfriends anymore" sex could be so good?
There is one thing that John really regrets about loving Rodney, which is that time he managed to talk him and Evan into a threesome. "But the heat is off and we need to snuggle to share body warmth" had turned out to be a great excuse, but now he was paying for that one night of pleasure. Evan and Rodney hadn't been close before, but now John sees them in the mess from time to time, leaning in close and looking devious. Evan had long since taken to conspiring with Teyla, and it'd taken all of about two weeks after Teyla told them about The Baby Who's Name Is Neither Ronon Nor Rodney for Ronon to be whipped into joining their campaign. Adding in Rodney, and by extension Radek, only made their combined powers even more unstoppable. It probably won't be long before the entire command staff has joined the stupid Crusade To Save John From Himself, and then he'll be really fucked.
It sounds absurd and more than a little fucked up, but John loves the city. Little things like the way the lights in the shower glow pink sometimes or the way circuits in the wall hum when he runs his hand along them than make him think the feeling's mutual. It's only gotten more apparent after he kinda accidentally turned on the three million year old AI. It's really wonderful that it decided to make him a classic phaser pistol (which is totally better than Ronon's stupid blaster) but it still creeps him out from time to time. He's just glad that the city's not a jealous lover and adores Evan and all the other ATA-positive members of the expedition, even if it does play favorites some times.
However, John really, really didn't need to know how much the city likes Rodney's hands.
7) Evan Lorne
John only regrets a few things about falling in love with Evan Lorne. One is that they can't be openly together even though the President signed an executive order exempting Atlantis personnel from "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", because they're still subject to the fraternization regs. It's a small thing and he's used to it after twenty years in the Air Force, and he knows Evan is too. For the most part having to hide is an annoyance more than a burden. They can't spend the night together except on rare occasions, can't be more than casual friends in public, can't sit at each other's bedsides in the infirmary, can't do dozen other little things a couple should have been able to do. It's not nearly as bad as it could be, though, and the fact that all their friends know is a huge comfort. Still, there's a difference between acceptance and not minding. One reason John looks forward to the coming revolution is that when it happens he'll finally be able to share with the world just how much Evan means to him.
John regrets that some day he may be forced to order Evan to his death. They're not stupid or naive; they both know it could happen. They've even talked about it several times, usually with a little help from Zelenka's still or Parrish's special brownies. There's no doubt in John's mind that he would do it if he had to, and even though he knows Evan would never blame him there's a small part of John that hates himself for it. John's afraid of what losing Evan would do to him, but he takes a small comfort in knowing his team would be there for Evan if he was the one who died.
John never got a chance to introduce Evan to his dad, and while he never wanted to before now he finds himself wishing he had. The old man never approved of John being anything but perfectly straight. He thinks that it might have been different this time, though. Evan is exactly the kind of honest and dependable guy Dad liked, and he's pretty sure he would have come around once he met him. It's too late now because they were both too stubborn for their own good in the end, and John's incredibly glad that he was forced to take Evan home to meet Mom.
John's biggest regret has more to do with himself and his own hang-ups than with Evan. On their last trip to Earth together he discovered that Evan loves kids, and kids love him. Seeing him play with his nieces and nephews was possibly the most adorable and heartwarming thing John has ever seen. John should have known that would be the case, given his endless patience with young marines and his playful nature, but he hadn't connected the dots until then. John had taken one look at him and realized that Evan would be probably be the greatest dad in the history of great dads. What John regrets about it is that he knows he'll never measure up to that standard. It's not that he dislikes kids or anything, certainly not in the way Rodney pretends to. No, he loves kids, but he's always been worried that he'd end up breaking them somehow. Sure, Madison adores him, Jinto practically worshiped the ground John walked on, and Teyla's already made him some sort of official godfather and babysitter, but that's different than being a full-time dad. He had a hard enough time getting through his own childhood; God only knows how badly he'd screw up trying to raise someone. The poor kid would probably end up in therapy for life.
Still, he can tell Evan wants kids, even if he's never said as much, and while it terrifies him John's willing to give it a shot. They'll have to wait until either they're independent or Earth pulls the stick out its ass, of course, just like a dozen other couples. Once that happens one of the first things John intends to do is take Evan down to a room the city has shown him, one where the walls are lined with little tanks. He'll set aside his own fears because he knows it will make Evan happy, and if there's one thing about love that John's never regretted it's doing that.