Pairing: Dave Sheppard and John Sheppard brotherhood
Rating: PG. Gen
Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of the people or events depicted in this work of fiction. It is intended for the amusement of the recipient and no profit has been made from it.
Author's Notes: My recipient was hoping for something shippy. I'm sorry to say that this is purely Gen. However; it does contain the characters she wanted with back-story for John and Dave. I hope she enjoys this gift as the first of many for her Christmas season.
Summary: Dave was the outsider here. The unwanted one. That John would prefer the company of these enigmatic strangers to his flesh and blood Dave had no doubts about at all. It was some perverse streak he'd never realized he possessed that kept him glued to his younger brother's bedside; tied him to John in ways that the duties of family never had.
"You're giving up on him!" Rodney couldn't help but shout. "There's nothing on Earth that we don't have here...or I'll get!" They couldn't send Sheppard back to Earth. They'd never get him back! None of those idiots in Washington had ever wanted him here in the first place.
Teyla's small hand on his arm brought his building tirade to a whimpered end. "We will go with him. Perhaps by the time we must return with the Daedalus the Colonel will be more himself and you will have nothing to worry over." They were all worried. Carson and Jennifer had conferred and decided that his injuries had healed enough so that his life was no longer at risk from moving him and that his best hopes for recovery would be on Earth. They all had accepted that with some pain but Rodney always did have trouble letting John out of his sight.
"We're not giving up on him, Rodney," Doctor Keller was still being reasonable with him. Carson had called him names in Gaelic and ordered him to go to his quarters for some sleep. "He needs more care than we're equipped to give him. You didn't have this trouble when we sent Lt. Cadman or Doctor Bush home and they both came back." She too reached over to pat Rodney's arm. "Go get some rest so you'll be able to go with him."
Reminding Rodney of the return of his nemesis was a stroke of genius. At least for the moment his attention no longer focused on the preparations to send the unconscious Colonel home with the next opening of the Stargate to Earth.
"I fail to see why all of AR-1 needs to travel to Earth via the wormhole," Richard Woolsey's job was to watch the bottom line. While he did indeed sympathize with the Colonel's team it was simply impossible to send the all to Earth.
"The Colonel's convalescence is likely to be lengthy. It simply doesn't make sense for the three of you to stay with him the entire time he recovers." He hated this part of his job, but it was his job and it must be done. "I will grant you leave for a week, no more. The Daedalus will be leaving Earth on the 18th. Make sure you are all on board when she launches." Richard stood up from his desk, signaling that the meeting was at an end. The three disappointed team members dispersed to prepare for the trip to Earth.
Richard hoped the Colonel had regained consciousness before his friends had to return. It would be so very hard for them to leave him behind.
Doctor Caroline Lam was used to people getting in her way. Team members always refused to leave a bedside until they had been assured of survival. Then they refused to leave until they were assured of a return to duty. Then they refused to leave until they could speak to their injured comrade.
She was used to people being in her way. Sheppard's team was even more annoying than most. All through his check-up at the Mountain. All through the transfer to the National Naval Medical Center in Virginia. They complained about his care. They complained about the need to move him outside the SGC. Vociferously. But the Colonel's family home was in Virginia. It was best for him, therefore what would be done.
They could be in the way there just as easily as in Colorado.
"Doctor Lam?" A tall, gaunt man with a stethoscope around his neck stepped up to the moving circus that was the team moving Sheppard into his new room. "I'm Doctor Case. We spoke on the phone. I'll be taking care of Colonel Sheppard during his stay with us."
Caroline flinched at the speed at which Sheppard's team descended on the hapless physician. "Yeah," she said. "Good luck with that."
Dave didn't even look up when Penny knocked on his doorframe again. It had been that kind of morning. Calls from the partners, calls from suppliers...the phone had been ringing all morning. On top of the busy office routine, Silve had called a couple of times about problems at home. Dave looked at his desk clock before acknowledging his secretary. Only 11:30.
"I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Sheppard, but there's a General O'Neill on line two. He's insisting that he speak to you directly."
Dave's heart froze in his chest. The military called frequently. That fact alone should assure him that this wasn't that call. The one call all families of those whose career was military service dreaded. A few months ago it wouldn't have even occurred to Dave that the authorities would remember to call him. Now, with the delicate tendrils of their brotherhood sprouting again, fear clutched at Dave's heart.
Washington bought power from Sheppard, Inc. power just like everyone else on the Eastern Seaboard. It didn't have to mean a problem with John. Dave forced himself to breathe in while reaching for the phone. It didn't mean anything at all.
"This is David Sheppard, General. How may I help you?"
Dave knew he was reacting in a way that was at odds to his normal persona. The problem was he couldn't seem to stop moving long enough to get a handle on things. One call from the Pentagon and his world had imploded. Well-ordered plans for dinner with his family following his day at the office exchanged for a meeting with the representative from the Department of Homeworld Security. Had he just heard that wrong? He'd know soon enough. That had to be the General's aide heading his way now.
"Mr. Sheppard?" The aide came to a stop in front of Dave. "My name is Major Paul Davis. Thank you for coming so quickly." Dave mechanically shook the man's hand, already numb from the hours of fear.
"Where is my brother? I want to see him."
"I understand, Mr. Sheppard. We want to facilitate that as quickly as possible. To that end we need to sit down and have you read over and sign a confidentiality agreement that nothing you learn about Lt. Colonel Sheppard's posting and duties is ever leaked." The Major held a large envelope for Dave to take.
"Confidentiality agreement." Dave refused to take the offered envelope. "My brother has been brought back to Washington from an area unknown with injuries unknown in a condition unknown and I cannot see him until you're sure I won't call The National Inquirer?" He knew he was shouting but honestly! These people and their stupid, stupid rules!
"I understand your frustration, Mr. Sheppard." Major Davis held up a peacekeeping hand. "I truly do. I wish this was a step we could avoid but I promise you that once you're briefed you will understand our precautions. John signed these very same agreements. He will understand your delay."
Dave gulped in a deep breath. Calm. He needed to center himself. "Do you know my brother?"
"I don't know anything, yet." Dave sighed. Silve wanted details, naturally. He had none to give her. "I have to sign a confidentiality agreement first and I'm not sure I should. But if I don't I won't be seeing John at all." Blindly signing something like what the military expected clashed with Dave's business sense. He should run it by the lawyers. He should be getting advice. He wasn't allowed to do either. Sighing again he tried to pay attention to what Silve was saying.
"Stop thinking with your big corporate dick, David!" His lovely Swedish wife could be truly coarse when she was riled. At the moment she seemed more irritated with Dave than the government. "He is your brother! You were so happy to have him back in your life." That was true. It was a source of joy for Dave to think that somewhere Johnny was alive and maybe thinking of home.
"Sign the agreement, David." Silve had no interest in the welfare of Sheppard Industries. Only in the welfare of it's owners. Both of them. "Sign it and go to John. Tala om for honom du alskar!"
"I don't speak Swedish, Silve. You know that." He clicked open his pen and signed his name to the first page. Only two hundred and twenty to go.
"Yes, my darling." He could here the smile of victory in her voice. "I know this. Tell him I will have his room ready for him when he is ready to come home for his convalescence." Dave was pretty sure the strange trio that had been John's shadow since he'd arrived would have something to say about that.
"I will." Ninety pages left. "I don't know when I'll get in. I'll try to stay here as long as they'll allow. Could you have Coleman pack a bag for me? I'm hoping the staff will let me stay."
"Of course, min alskling. And I'll put together some things for John as well."
Twenty-five. "Yes, Silve. I'm still here."
"Try to rest. This is not going to be a sprint, min alskling. This is going to be a marathon. You will need your rest."
These people, his team, whispered their consultations around the foot of John's bed. Dave was fairly sure they knew he could hear them. They seemed unconcerned that their behavior was rude. Dave was the outsider here. The unwanted one. That John would prefer the company of these enigmatic strangers to his flesh and blood Dave had no doubts about at all. It was some perverse streak he'd never realized he possessed that kept him glued to his younger brother's bedside; tied him to John in ways that the duties of family never had.
"Please, could one of you explain to me what happened to John?" So far he'd learned a great deal of what John's life entailed but nothing of how he'd ended up so still and pale in this hospital bed. "The doctor's say he's not physically injured. Why is he unconscious?"
The others looked back and forth between them, clearly uncomfortable.
Teyla, the clear diplomat of the group tried first. "It would be very difficult for you to understand, Mr. Sheppard. Even with clearance there is so much that you cannot know in such a short time. Suffice to say that there are...machines...where John is posted that react to his genetic structure. Sometimes, not often but sometimes, these machines cause damage before we are able to get him safely away."
Dave's confusion must have telegraphed to the others because Doctor McKay decided to try next.
"Let me see if I can explain this in words of one syllable..."
The legendary lost city of Atlantis. Real. Space travel, aliens, life on other planets. Real. John...his little brother Johnny...leader of intrepid space explorers. Apparently also real. Dave rubbed his pounding temples. It was too much. It had to be some huge joke. Someone would start laughing any moment.
John. The screw up. The one that would never make it past Captain in his father's opinion because he couldn't or wouldn't fall into line when it was necessary. Now? A Lt. Colonel and General O'Neill had made it pretty clear he'd be bumped up to full bird once he "got over himself and opened his eyes."
General O'Neill was not the sort of General Dave had dealt with in the past. He was never sure when to take him seriously but there was no doubt he thought highly of John.
"It's really time to wake up, John. It's almost Christmas." The girls and Silve had taken it on faith that John would be recovered enough to join them at home for a family Christmas. Last year had been so quiet with the death of Silve's Dad, the year before with the death of his own. They were excited to have a full Christmas celebration this year. "You can't let them down. It's not in your DNA."
The three people that had hovered over John quietly came back into his room after leaving to find some lunch. Dave's own stomach had been growling for a while; it was time for him to search out a meal as well.
Teyla came towards Dave with a tray in her hands. She was an alien, Dave thought with just a tiny edge of hysteria. He could chalk that up to exhaustion. She was an alien, as was the bear of a man that had come with John to Dad's wake, from other planets in another galaxy.
"You have not been taking care of yourself, Mr. Sheppard." She set the tray on John's bedside table and drew off the cover. "It will be of no benefit to John if you make yourself ill keeping vigil." She gestured to the tray holding a turkey sandwich and a soda. "I did not know what things you would find appetizing but these are things I know John enjoys so I took a risk. Please. Eat. Then perhaps you would take time to rest."
"I don't want to leave him." Dave was startled when the words tumbled out of his mouth but recognized the truth in them. "I'm afraid he'll disappear." He ruefully rubbed the back of his neck, unknowing mimicking his younger brother. "I want to be here when he wakes, no matter how long that takes." Realistically he couldn't stay too much longer. He'd already been away from the office for two days and his cell phone's voicemail was full. He just couldn't make himself leave, no matter how sensible that was.
Teyla just nodded as if his insane statement made perfect sense. Maybe in the life they all led it did.
"Eat, then. Tonight we will have the staff set up a cot for you. I am sure you will benefit by some sleep." Teyla smiled at Dave and then surprised him by leaning over his brother to press her forehead against his. "We will leave you to your meal."
"We will?" Doctor McKay was not a fan of Dave's.
Ronon's big hand closed over Rodney's shoulder. "Yes. We will."
"You need rest as well, Rodney," Teyla soothed. "We all do." She stepped into Dave's personal space and placed her small hands on his shoulders, leaning forward as she had with John just moments before. Feeling out of his depth Dave leaned forward to press his forehead against hers. It was amazingly comforting. "We will return in time for you to take nourishment this evening and perhaps to arrange time to bathe."
The General had been kind enough to allow Silve to know some of what was going on. Not the whole "aliens could attack and kill us all" parts (which was fine with Dave) but the secret mission, not a screw up, really very brave part.
After a somewhat slapdash explanation from O'Neill Silve just sighed. "Aven den mycket smarta arsu ofta dumma." Of course no one in the room understood Swedish but she was kind enough to translate. "Even the very smart are so often stupid." She smiled at the little assembly around John's bed. "I have always known he was wonderful! What took you so long to catch on?"
Having a cot to lie down on didn't help Dave's insomnia much. The night before he'd dozed fitfully; jerking awake to make sure the beeping of John's heart monitor said he was still with him.
Dave shifted over to his side, looking over at his brother's bed. "Do you remember that fat little pony Mom gave us when we were little?" It had been docile to the point of immobility and still she had made them wear helmets and padded jackets to sit on his back.
"You loved that thing beyond all reason. Tried to sleep with him; told Dad that you were afraid he'd have nightmares!" Dave chuckled. "What did you call him? Victor! You named him Victor!" Dave shifted back to stare at the ceiling again. "You always came up with the craziest names for your pets."
John's team arrived at eight that morning, only to find his bed empty and being remade by an orderly.
"Where's Sheppard?" Ronon demanded. "What have you done with Sheppard?" They all feared the worst...that their friend's condition had deteriorated over night and they had not been with him.
"He's okay." Dave came in behind them. Sensing the fear pouring off them he hurried on to explain. "Brain scans today. Just tests. His condition is unchanged."
The three wilted with relieve. "You would have called us, right?" Ronon wanted to be sure.
"I will call you if his condition changes." Looking into the faces of these people that clearly loved John he felt humbled. "Any change at all."
"Did I tell you that Monique is trying to challenge Dad's will?"
Dave had fallen into a pattern of talking to John as though they were just sharing a room as they had as children. The fact that John didn't answer him wasn't all that different from that long-ago time.
"She's got some team of lawyers claiming she was well on her way to being Mrs. Sheppard number seven when Dad died and as such should get some compensation for loss of status." He snorted.
"Weirdly? It seems the courts will allow it if she can prove Dad intended to marry her." Not that Dave was worried about that. Mrs. Sheppard number seven was indeed on the horizon when the heart attack felled their father but it hadn't been Monique.
Dave scrubbed his hands over his face.
"I have to go into the office tomorrow, John. I'll be gone most of the day and well into the evening. Teyla and Ronon will be here with you. Rodney has to meet with someone he called Radek but we'll all be here for a late dinner."
He pushed himself off the cot and padded over to his brother's side. Leaning over, he pressed his lips against John's forehead. "It would be really great if you'd join us."
The others were already gathered around John when Dave finally made it in from the city. He was exhausted and hungry. For the first time in the six days he'd been at John's side he wished he could just say 'screw it' and go home. Until he got a look at the faces of the three waiting for him to come fully into the room.
"What's going on?"
Teyla looked at the others before answering. "We have been ordered to return to our base of operations. Our return has already been delayed as much as possible." She stroked her hand down John's arm. "We will be leaving the day after tomorrow."
She turned her eyes up to Dave. "We must depend on you to see him through this in our stead. Please. Do not let us down."
"Do you remember that summer cottage Dad took us too so we could get to know Constance?" Dave looked over at his brothers still face. It was still unnerving after more than a week to see him so still.
Johnny was never still. He was a master at making people think he was indolent but never really idle. Dave had figured it was just another of John's techniques to drive their Dad crazy that ended up as permanent personality traits. Dave smiled at John, lost in the memories.
"You decided you hated her over night." John had been twelve that summer. Not quite as difficult as he would become in his later teens but already his father had been at a loss as to how to handle him. "You never said, Johnny. Why you hated her. I mean she was like step-mother number three." He counted on his fingers. Gretchen, Faith, Martha than Constance. Four. "Number four." Dave leaned closer to his silent brother as though proximity alone would make him share his secret reasons. "You got along really well with Faith and Martha." They both had. "What turned you against Constance?"
John had spent the entire summer outdoors. There was a miserable excuse for a convenience store that had a series of old video games along one wall and John pumped in quarter after quarter of Constance's money, spending the hours it was raining outside becoming high scorer on all of them. It had been a moment of smug pride for the younger Sheppard when his brother had been unable to unseat him. To this day just the sound of a game of Pacman opening was enough to make Dave's thumbs ache in memory of the hours he'd spent trying.
"I wish you'd wake up, Johnny. I'll buy you one of those old Pacman games if you'd just wake up." He was so tired. He probably should head home. He hadn't seen the children in a week. He knew he couldn't go on like this. He rested his head on the edge of John's mattress for a moment. Just to rest his eyes. Then he'd go home, tuck the girls into bed and hope for a few hours sleep.
With his eyes closed he missed the twitch of an eyelid, so quick, then gone.
"Wha..." Dave jerked upright. "Ow!" the spasm of pain shooting down his neck and back was testament that he'd fallen asleep while talking to John the night before. He pulled himself upright, twisting and stretching to ease the kinks.
A quick look around showed the others dozing as well. Dave smiled. He'd miss these people. He hoped Johnny would bring them home with him from time to time. He hoped John would come home himself.
He turned to gather the needed supplies to shave John's face. He definitely took after their mother's hairy side of the family. Smiling, he turned back to John to lather his face only to drop the foam onto the floor.
The crash of the can on the tile floor roused John's team and brought them clustering around the bed.
"Sheppard!" Ronon's happy bark made him sound like a boy.
"It is wonderful to see your eyes, John." Teyla touched foreheads with him. "It had been far too long."
"About time, Sheppard," the irascible scientist wasn't fooling anyone. The moisture around his eyes was proof of his relief and joy.
"Dave?" John's voice was rusty from disuse. "That you?"
"Yes, Cubby. It's me."
"Cubby?" three voices chorused.
"Not allowed to name anything. Ever," was all John said, but he managed a tired smile for them all.
"Silve and the girls have your room all ready for you. You'll be staying with us while you get your strength back." Seeing John's look of stubborn will forming he pressed his hands down on his brother's shoulders so they were nose to nose.
"Listen to David, John." Teyla's hand joined Dave's. "We must return on the Daedalus this afternoon. You will not be ready to travel for some days. You will stay with your brother and family and you will not argue!" She wiped her happy tears away and stepped back to allow the others their chance to reconnect with their friend.
"What is this name, Cubby?" Teyla asked once John had settled into a nap.
Dave laughed. "There's an organization for boys here on Earth and I joined it when I was six. Johnny was too young but that didn't stop him from wanting to be part of what I was doing." Dave looked over at his sleeping brother. "Dad started calling him his little Cub Scout and it trailed off to Cubby soon enough."
"He really hated it," Dave's evil smile was contagious. "You might remember that for future reference."
Seeing his team off was hard on John. Dave wished they could stay.
It had only been a few days ago that he'd felt like the outsider around them. He'd resented their closeness to John, their surety that their place with him was secure. Now he valued their affection for his wayward sibling. They would protect him to the best of their varied abilities when he returned to his post.
They would have John's back in Pegasus. Dave would take over for them here. It was a sound business arrangement, using the best resources at hand to get a vital job done.
John turned to Dave when the door had finally closed after his friends. "She took Mom's bracelet."
Dave looked at John for a minute, not understanding what he was referring to.
"That's why I hated Constance. She took Mom's bracelet and then acted like Dad gave it to her. He made her give it back but I never trusted her after that."
"You could hear me?" Dave was incredulous. And concerned. Just what had he babbled on about over the last eight days?
"I could hear everyone. I just couldn't answer." He rubbed that back of his neck, a gesture Dave recognized as one he himself made when he was nervous or embarrassed. "I'm grateful. I would have gone crazy without you talking to me."
The brothers shared a look. Dave heard Silve's voice in his head, urging him to tell him how much he mattered.
"I'm glad you'll be with us this Christmas, John." John smiled, nodding. "I..."
"You?" John teased.
"I want you to know that I love you. That I've always loved you and I intend to make sure you don't slip out of my life again."
They were both shocked at that emotional declaration.
"Yeah." John was acutely uncomfortable. "Me, too."
Dave was relieved. Christmas was just days away. The first Christmas in years that he'd spend with his brother, but certainly not the last.
"Merry Christmas, Cubby." John feebly swiped at Dave, missing but making the man laugh.
"Merry Christmas, Dave." The younger Sheppard stretched and settled back into his pillows with a sigh.
"I'm holding you to that Pacman game."