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[ john ]
My name is John. John Sheppard. I don´t know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all. I fake them very well. That´s my burden I guess. I don´t blame my parents for that, Mary and Nathan Sheppard did a wonderful job raising me.
But they´re both dead now. I didn´t kill them.
When I was fourteen my mother was attacked by a pit bull in our backyard while we were barbecuing. My father was in the middle of grilling hamburgers and I was handing him cheese when it happened, and when my mother screamed he dropped the spatula into the pit.
I picked up the tongs hanging on the side of the pit and drove them into the dog´s head. He died instantly but my father still had to break his jaw to get my mother´s leg out of it.
Later, when mom was passed out from the pain meds and we were watching her sleep, Dad turned to me. Why did you do that,’ he asked.
Do what,’ I asked, staring at the blood that had seeped through the white gauze on my mother´s leg. I remember thinking then that maybe it would´ve been better for the leg to have been severed because Mom was kind of image-conscious and she wasn´t going to like the scar that left.
Kill that dog,’ Dad said. Son, you shoved tongs through its head and you didn´t even blink.’
I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. He hurt Mom.’
Dad looked at me and years later I was able to understand that that look was full of fear, but at that moment it just made me confused. So you don´t feel bad that you killed it.’
It wasn´t a question and I didn´t have an answer, so I just looked back at Mom while Dad went to get some coffee.
He took me to a shrink a week later, and when I told the shrink that I didn´t feel bad, I didn´t feel much of anything, and never had, he blinked at me and sat frozen for a full minute. You don´t feel anything,’ he asked finally.
Well, sure,’ I said. Pain. I mean, I feel the cotton of my shirt rubbing my skin. I feel my Mom´s hair on my cheek when she hugs me goodnight. But the other kind of feeling, no. I don´t feel guilty, or sad, or happy, or mad. I just don´t feel.’
Feelings are what make us human, John,’ the shrink had said, unable to meet my eyes and shuffling papers, flipping through books on his desk. It´s not it´s not normal to not have feelings at all.’
But see, I´ve never thought that. Feelings aren´t what make us human. Feelings are things that most humans have, but it´s not what makes us human. DNA makes us human. Blood makes us human. Feelings are just a side effect, and it´s not one I got.
The shrink didn´t know what to do with me, and Dad was transferred soon after that anyway, but I did learn one thing from those sessions: If I wanted people to not look at me with that look then I needed to learn how to act normal.
I know right from wrong, my parents taught me well, but what they didn´t teach me was how to care. It wasn´t hard for me. Human´s are really see-through once you know what to look for. Television, movies, everything´s exaggerated in them but they´re wonderful teaching tools.
I learned to act like I cared, and everyone was fooled except for my father.
When I was thirty-five I crash landed in the snow of McMurdo because an alien weapon tried to kill myself and Colonel O´Neill. Then I sat in a chair that lit up for me, and I felt the first thing I´ve ever felt in my life.
For the two minutes that I sat in that chair I felt calm, peaceful. I felt good. I didn´t feel itchy, I didn´t need to find a way to get rid of the urge to kill something, it just went away.
Rodney McKay looked at me with those big blue eyes of his that reminded me of the first bunny I ever saw and told me to imagine where I was in the solar system, and I felt bliss for the first time in my life.
The coin toss wasn´t whether or not to follow those eyes to the Pegasus Galaxy, it was whether or not to visit my Dad´s grave and tell him that after thirty-five years of nothing, I finally felt something.
We were stationed in New Jersey when I was in high school, and when it was hot it was miserably hot, and when it was cold it was freezing, but Dad loved it there. The deer-hunting there was really good, and on his off weekends he´d take a cooler and his shotgun and be out for hours, sometimes even the whole weekend.
He took me hunting with him for the first time when I was sixteen, and I killed my first deer on my first shot. Right between the eyes, and I didn´t even hesitate to do it.
He looked at me with the same look he had when Mom got bit. You´re a natural.’
I grinned, because that´s what one does when one is happy, and nodded. Guess so.’
You like killing things,’ Dad said, resting the butt of his rifle on the ground and looking at him, studying me. I can see a spark in your eyes that you´ve never had before. You you actually like killing.’
I frowned. So do you. You come out here every weekend and kill deer, and you come home happy.’
It´s different, son,’ he´d said, but he´d dropped it then because he couldn´t explain to me how my liking to kill was different from his liking to hunt down his own deer meat.
On the way home his knuckles were white. Have you killed anything else,’ he asked finally, halfway home, his voice startlingly loud in the cab of the truck.
Raccoons,’ I answered. Squirrels. Rats. Snakes. You know, the bad things.’
Dad´s fingers tightened. Why are they bad? What are they doing when you kill them?’
I shrugged. Nothing. I don´t know. Mom hates them.’
Dad had nodded and looked at me. So you kill them because your mother hates them.’
I rested my head against the side of the window, feeling the cold from the outside bleeding in. I just want to, Dad. I don´t know why.’
Okay,’ Dad said, nodding his head. He swallowed so loud I could hear it over the whir of the window he had rolled down. All right.’
I´ve never had sex. I´ve flirted with women, I´ve even flirted with men, but I´ve only done it with those I know I can´t be with. I flirt with whoever flirts with me because people´s faces go flat and their eyes go sad when you don´t.
But I´ve never wanted to have sex. I just don´t see the point. I don´t know why sex should be had. I´ve never been hard, I´ve never been dizzy at the sight of what I know to be a beautiful woman. I´ve watched porn and I spent more time wondering at the crappy set design than I did at the sex on my screen.
The first Wraith I killed, up close and personal, one on one, that big red headed monster that kept talking at me like I was supposed to be scared or something, felt like the best thing that had ever been invented. I felt it all through my body, this warm glow that shot straight down to my toes and made my dick hard.
Every time I kill a Wraith, I get that feeling, and it took me reading one of Elizabeth´s trashy novels to know that I was having an orgasm.
I thought, the Wraith. Yes. Thank God I woke them.
When I was eighteen Dad told me I should join the military.
If you have the urge to kill things, son, then at least make them things worth killing. Rats and squirrels might be annoying, but there are actual enemies out there and you´ll get paid to do it. You have to channel this in a healthy way.’
Okay,’ I said, and the next day I enrolled.
When we were in New Jersey we had a basement, because everyone in New Jersey has a basement, and in that basement we had a pool table. From the time I was sixteen till the time I was eighteen I spent almost all of my time down in that basement learning the rules of the game, learning the angles, figuring out how to hit each and every ball from every possible angle.
It turned out that was my downfall, because I was too smart to be a grunt on the ground. They wanted me to be an officer, they wanted me to fly. Because I knew the angles, I knew the math. I could hit a target hundreds of feet away without ever looking through the view finder. I could drop a bomb with precision and perfection without ever looking at my equipment.
People were jealous of me because I progressed so much faster than them. They just didn´t understand though. I killed more people than them, yeah, but I did it from up there in the air. I did it from a distance when what I really wanted was to see it up close, to watch their faces drain of blood and know that I had taken their life. They were no longer there, and it was because of me. They deserved it, and I took it away from them.
I got my black mark because I flew into a hot zone to rescue three people that were already dead. I did it because they were good people and they deserved to come home, but I also did it because it meant that I had to land and travel on the ground to get to them. It was unfortunate that they were dead when I got there, but I killed twenty Taliban on my way to finding that out and that made up for it.
Then I got stuck flying an air taxi service over vast expanses of white snow and not able to kill anything because the one thing my father taught me was to never get caught, and it´s hard to kill things when the only things around you are your superior officers and their subordinates.
Sometimes a rabbit came around though. The stark contrast of dark red blood and white white fur and snow was enough to keep me going for a while.
I´ve been faking everything for so long that it doesn´t feel fake anymore. That empty smile, that empty laugh, I don´t have to work on producing them. I don´t have to think beforehand what my reaction to any given stimuli should be, it just happens. It´s a knee-jerk thing now.
McKay´s different. I like being around him. My smiles come easier, my laughs actually come from somewhere deeper than my throat. His smell is pleasant, and his eyes are kind, even when the words coming out of his mouth are anything but.
I associate the blueness of his eyes with the warm feeling of the weapons chair, and I feel that every time he looks at me. He looks at me a lot, and I´ve been studying and mimicking human nature long enough to know that he´s interested, so one day I find him in the labs and I drag him inside an office and kiss him, tongue and everything, because sometimes I get bored and I´ve never minded the kissing part.
Kissing Rodney is nice. It´s not what it´s supposed to be, blood pumping, dick getting hard, heart fluttering around in my chest. It´s not what the books tell you it is, or what the movies try to show you. But then, books, movies, they get it wrong anyway I hear, and that´s for someone who actually can feel. Of course I´m not going to feel what they tell you you´re supposed to. I don´t feel anything in a normal way.
It´s nice though. Rodney´s mouth is soft and pliable, it molds to the shape of my lips like they´re made to go together. It makes me feel quiet, like I can rest for a moment, it stills the urge to kill. I don´t want to see blood when I´m kissing Rodney, and it´s the first time that´s ever been true when I´m not touching something Ancient.
I think if I was capable, if it were possible, for me to love, I´d love Rodney. I think sometimes that there´s a switch somewhere inside of me, and if I found it and flipped it on and made myself be able to feel, I think I´d find that I already was in love with Rodney.
I know that he loves me, and that´s enough. I´ve been pretending my whole life, I can pretend this too. Besides, I´m pretty sure Rodney and I are meant to be together anyway, because I can´t feel anything but Rodney? Well. Rodney feels enough for us both.
Mom and Dad were killed in a car crash when I was twenty-nine.
At the funeral I kept a bottle of Tabasco sauce in my pocket and when no one was looking I touched my eye with a wet finger, because you´re supposed to cry when people you love die.
It wasn´t right that my parents were dead, and I was sure that if I could´ve, I would´ve loved them. I didn´t want to upset anyone, so I let the fumes and the acid of the hot sauce do my crying for me.
No one besides my Dad had ever known I was empty, and now he was dead.
It was kind of a relief.
On our fourth year in Atlantis, Rodney, Ronon, Teyla and I found a long-abandoned Ancient wharehouse type thing with pods of people in stasis, and they all looked like me. They looked exactly like me. The hair, the face, the fingernails, everything. They were me, right down to the cuticles.
Everyone looked at me like I should be freaked out and so I widened my eyes and made my voice shake. I let Elizabeth run her hand down my back in what was apparently a show of sympathy despite the fact that I didn´t like for anyone but Rodney to touch me, because I thought I was supposed to let her.
She and a team of linguists deciphered the Ancient text in the database associated with planet J5S-145 and two months later Rodney came to my room looking like he had been throwing up all day and was ready to cry.
Just tell me,’ I said, putting that warble of worry in my voice that I was supposed to have and reaching out to squeeze his neck.
They´re you,’ Rodney said, wide-eyed and horrified. Everything about them is you. The DNA, it´s exact. There´s no deviation. Do you have any idea how even twins have deviations. They ’
Okay,’ I said, nodding and pretending to take it all in, taking a deep breath. All right.’
They brought me back to the planet because apparently there was a hologram I needed to see, and Zelenka explained to me as I watched people prodding me on the screen, poking at me with needles and probes, that I was-- that they were-- basically, clones. Clones manufactured with the sole purpose of killing the Wraith.
When they exiled the replicators they decided that machines would not work. Instead they took bits and pieces from the strongest warriors and mixed them together for a match. Stealth, and instinct, and precision. They they fit the puzzle pieces together to create an army of men, and you were their prototype.’
Rodney clutched at my shirt and snarled at him. Not him Radek, them. John is not them. He´s he´s human. He´s he´s not a clone.’
Technically, Rodney, these are men as well,’ Carson said, stepping up and clearing his throat nervously. They are human, everything about them is human. They´re just manipulated.’
Rodney squawked and ranted and raved and I walked over to the pods.
No. Rodney you don´t understand.’
I couldn´t keep my fingers to myself, reaching through the cobwebs and touching the other me on the other side. Running my fingers down my chest, down my arms, down my face. I smiled and turned to him.
This explains so much for me.’
This should've been my Halloween fic. It's MUCH creepier than my Evil Dead thing.
When I started this last night I thought it was going to be funny instead of creepy. It's kind of both in places (at least, I think it is), but the tone of the first part that I wrote was no longer going to fit with what I wrote today. It was originally going to go in the middle, despite the fact that it's the first part I wrote, but yeah. The tone doesn't fit. Still, I'm still counting it as part of the canon of this story, so I'm going to let you read it.
One day I realized that the feeling I had whenever Rodney was around was possessiveness. He was mine, and I had to protect him. He was mine, and no one else could have him. They could borrow him, they could touch him, I could walk him through the park and let them pet him, and boy would Rodney hate the fact that I just used a metaphor of a dog to describe him, but in the end, what it all comes down to, is that Rodney is mine.
I catch Kavanaugh the day he gets off of the Daedelus. Rodney´s been bitching all week about having to put up with him again, about how sometimes the sound of Kavanaugh´s voice could drive him to murder, and I can´t let that happen. Rodney can´t be a murderer, he doesn´t deserve it. He´d feel it too much, it would kill him. To let Rodney become a murderer would be like watching him commit suicide. I have to remove the temptation.
No one´s seen him yet, I made sure of that. He was on his way to Elizabeth´s office when I grabbed him from behind and drug him through the halls and corridors that only I know about, only I know how to navigate, because like Rodney, Atlantis is mine also.
His body sinks fairly easily, the rocks are enough to weigh him down. I wonder exactly how deep the Atlantis ocean is at this point, wonder how long it will take for the sea urchins to start to eat him. I wonder if one day his body will rise, bloated and decayed, and if they´ll ever know it was him. If they´ll ever identify the body. I´m not worried. They´ll never think it was me.
I feel a little let down because I was quick, I was efficient, but there wasn´t any blood this time. There was no satisfaction here, just cold efficiency. A rag in his mouth, a twist of his neck, tying his hands and feet together, wrapping a tarp around him, filling it with rocks. Dragging it to the edge of the pier. Just like that, in the blink of an eye. Gone. It´s like an itch that´s only halfway scratched.
Rodney´s relief when he finds out that Kavanaugh never got off the Daedelus is enough though. According to Elizabeth, Caldwell isn´t sure he ever saw the scientist on the Daedelus at all, only in the cattle call to board. Two weeks of Kavanaugh´s loud voice, and Caldwell can´t remember him.
I would laugh, but it would give it away.