Fandom: Stargate the_library_au
Summery: Written for auficathon as a back up writer. For million_moments who wanted. Story 1 Fandom: the_library_au
Story 1 Character/Pairing: Sheppard, Gen
Story 1 Request: Why did Sheppard become a librarian
Notes: I've always had hope John Sheppard is not the empty character he is on Atlantis (just my opinion I don't want to start anything), and in the_library_au fics he's always in the background, being that empty character. This is an attempt to give him some life, to make me like him more (I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be writing this for Mel, not me). 3118 words.
He nearly fell over, trying to keep his eyes on the display of jets flying over his head, craning his head back as far as it would go, until a large hard landed on the little mop of brown hair on his head and pushed him forward, steadying the boy.
“Careful John.” The boy looked up at him and nodded solemnly, then turned his attention back to the air show was above his head. He was aware though, of the man’s presence being a little closer now, but his step dad was soon forgotten again as someone performed a loop-the-loop, and he began jumping up and down in the stalls.
He woke up with a groan as sunlight hit his face. He was dreaming that same dream over and over, every night, the air show Eric had taken him to when he was six years old. It was one of his first memories. One of his best memories too except now it was bittersweet. Every time he dreamt about that air show and Eric, his first thought when he woke was how he’d been rejected from the Air Force twelve years later. At least when he dreamt of the crash that had left him with a bad back and a Vicodin addiction he just felt depressed. The old memory and the reminder that he his life was anything but what he had dreamt it to be left him angry. Nasty.
He wasn’t even allowed to drive right now, let alone fly.
“Get up John.” He threw an arm over his eyes to block out the bright light. “Get up, you need to get a new job.”
“Tomorrow. Thursday is jobs day.”
“Bullshit.” She pulled the covers from him.
“Fuck off Leanne.” He growled, opening his eyes to pull the covers back from her hands getting a direct view of her pregnant belly instead. Shit, when did she get so big. He couldn’t look at her face, the blonde curls were still there but he hadn’t seen the smile he’d fallen in love with back in high school for a long time. He couldn’t remember when. He needed some painkillers, he decided, and with that thought he got out of the bed, still not looking at his wife’s face and pushing past her, heading for the bathroom. His back didn’t ache so bad in the morning, or when he was out of work like he was now, but he popped open a bottle from his bathroom cabinet anyway and downed and couple of pills, gulping a few handfuls of water to wash them down.
“Are you going to find a job today?”
Leanne was stood in the doorway, watching him wash his face and then pee, one hand on her stomach, the other on the door frame supporting herself.
“Yes okay, I’ll go, just get off my back.” He snapped.
“It’s important John, the baby’s due in three months and I’m getting too big to stand in front of the machine!”
“OKAY!” He yelled but Leanne didn’t flinch. She stood her ground, face flat, eyes empty. “Just go to work, I’ll look for a job.”
“Please John.” He looked at himself in the mirror, waiting until she had left the house before he moved again.
He hit Chucks bar at eleven, bottle of painkillers in his pocket, the paper under his arm, he settled on a stool and looked at the racing form. He wasn’t a gambler but he wasn’t much of a worker either. Since the accident at fifteen, he’d suffered from back pain, making most physical jobs just beyond him.
And he didn’t want to be anybody’s office dogsbody.
He didn’t rate his chances on the lottery much but the horses had better odds. Or the dogs. Any animal really, anything that could get him a bit of money and get his wife off his back.
He was pretty sure those were his clothes spread across the lawn.
He leant heavily on the yard gate and tried to clear his double vision by blinking hard. Still seeing two of everything he opened the gate and stumbled forward into the garden, propelled by the way his body insisted on leaning over at his waist, rather than by the movement of his legs. He inspected one of the coloured piles of material on the un-mown lawn. The blue one was definitely a pair of jeans, the white next to it an old t-shirt. On his doorstep were three refuse sacks bulging with stuff and he assumed Leanne had had a busy afternoon.
He got the point though, and, leaving his possessions in his yard he stumbled away to find a place to sleep.
He woke up hung over in his old room, dreaming about flying Eric’s coffin home, but an actual flying coffin, sitting on top of the wooden box, wings sticking out of the sides. The first thing he saw was the model planes he had made as a kid, suspended from his ceiling and he groaned.
Life got worse and he wished he had slept on the sofa but no doubt he had been too drunk to argue with his mother, who would’ve been insistent that he slept in his bed. The single bed that lay in his old room was always prepared for him. Just in case. It wasn’t the first time Leanne had thrown him out after an argument, or after he’d spent all night in a bar, or all weekend in Denver.
This was different though. She’d never thrown his clothes out on the lawn before. She was emptying the house of him and he couldn’t blame her.
That’s what made it different. He knew he deserved to be thrown out.
Popping a few pills with breakfast he headed back to the house.
His things were still on the lawn, three bags had become five as his books, cds and his PS2 were also added to the pile on the doorstep. Trying to ignore the pounding headache and ache in his back, from sleeping on an old bed that was just a little too small, he loaded his entire life into his beaten up rust and white coloured Ford, collecting up the clothes she had flung out of their bedroom window in a fit of temper.
“I’m not taking you back this time.” He turned around to see Leanne stood on the path, blonde curls tired back, belly exposed where her top and trousers didn’t meet. They hadn’t been able to afford many maternity clothes.
He plucked his jeans and t-shirt from the long dry grass and turned away. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go back, but he wasn’t really ready to tell her that just yet.
She watched silently as she cleared up the garden of his belongings, dumping them in the back of his car. He was leaving her and their baby, he knew that and knew it probably made him the bad guy, a bad guy, but he didn’t care anymore. He paused to pop another couple of pills and stretched out. He was going to miss his bed but he wasn’t sure he was going to miss his wife.
He didn’t think he should ever tell her that.
When the last piece of his clothing was collected, he stood on the path opposite his wife, unsure what to say.
“I’ll be in touch,” finally, he found some words, “be around.”
It was a strange way to say goodbye and he didn’t feel like it was completely done with just yet, how could it be with their child still due, but there had been no screaming or shouting, no tears or threats. Just silence, that sad look on her face he had come to hate. He considered saying goodbye to the baby, patting her stomach or talking to it, but he had never felt comfortable doing anything like that before so he just walked away. Drove away.
He was sitting on the same stool as always, the racing form spread out in front of him on the bar, a half drunk beer next to it. He still hadn’t placed a bet but he always looked. There was something about gambling that seemed like a step too far into desperation or destitution. Drinking at eleven in the morning was fine but he couldn’t gamble away what little money he had.
Leanne was stood in the bar, hand on hips, tight red top and fitted jeans.
“You had the baby.”
“Last week! Why didn’t you call me? Can I see it?” He jumped off the stool, knocking the paper to the floor.
“Him.” She corrected, bending over to pick up the discarded racing form. “Gambling now John?” She spat, throwing the paper at him, before turning to walk away.
“No, Leanne,” he chased after her, grabbing her arm to stop her, “I was just looking.” She wrenched her arm free.
“If you say so John.”
“Really.” She left the bar and he followed her out into the sunshine, feeling in his pockets for his shades. “Leanne please.”
“I named him Eric by the way,” she said, stopping at her car, “like you wanted.” He couldn’t remember when he’d said that, possibly at the very beginning of the pregnancy. Possibly before.
“I need some money, for maintenance. You need to support our son John.”
“I know, I will.”
“Not through gambling.”
“Can I see him?” She sighed, and opened the door to her car, still thinking as she climbed in.
“Get a job.”
She didn’t need to spell it out, he got the point again. If he didn’t get a job he didn’t get to see his kid and he had this sudden desperation to see the baby.
He didn’t go back into the bar. He’d had trouble bonding with a baby who had yet to be born, the whole pregnancy had been overshadowed by him, loosing his job at two months and a speeding conviction trying to get to the hospital for a three month scan. He had been excited and he tried to remember those feelings and that he had a son, called Eric, and without a job he was just another dead beat dad like his real father. He didn’t want that. He really didn’t, he just wasn’t happy in life, he wasn’t doing what he had always wanted to do, he wasn’t flying, he wasn’t in the Air force, and he didn’t think there was anything else he wanted to do.
Having a son didn’t automatically fill that void but it was enough to get him out of Chucks bar and buy the job paper.
His choices were limited thought. He couldn’t do any jobs were too physical. He found after a week of physical labour he could barely move all weekend. It was the lifting that got him, and the slight Vicodin overdoses that put him on his back for two days. He wasn’t very experienced in an office environment, and he didn’t really like the idea of being sat at a desk all day but he would do it if it helped feed and clothe his son.
If it meant he could see his son.
Assistant librarian didn’t sound like the most exciting job in the world but it didn’t sound like the most taxing on his back either. There was a desk involved but not the conventional sort and plenty of people going in and out (he assumed) to talk to. Plus his boss would be a woman, he could be a dogsbody for a woman.
He had to get the job first.
Wearing his best shirt, an old tie of his step-dads and black trousers, he planted himself in one the plastic chairs that had been set up outside an office at the very top of the library. He had had trouble remembering where the place was, he’d not been there since he was a kid and he could never remember there being an upstairs.
But then, he had spied the children’s’ section in the far corner as the young Scottish guy had led him through the library and delivered him to his interview.
He wasn’t nervous. He didn’t really do nervous. Too many big game nights playing football in
high school had pretty much meant he was used to nerves. A high speed car crash had meant he didn’t really worry about much anymore because he had survived it. He knew he should worry though.
He should be worrying about getting this job, a job. He should be worrying about supporting and seeing his son, his crumbling marriage but he wasn’t. They were just things to be dealt with. A duty to perform.
He took a couple more Vicodin, swallowing them as someone called out.
He looked up to see a woman standing in the office doorway, smiling at him. She wore dark blue trousers, a tight red shirt and had curls like Leanne but dark. He smiled back, this was a woman he could get along with, and stood offering his hand.
“John.” He told her, her eyes drifted over him, inspecting him, settling on his hair for a long moment. He had tried to comb it down, but knew it had just jumped back up in places again.
“Elizabeth Weir.” She shook his hand and led him inside the office. “Please take a seat.” He sat on the other side of the desk to where an balding man with a round head and light blue shirt was sitting. “And this is George Hammond.” Elizabeth continued, “Head of the county libraries, I’m the head librarian here.” George reminded him of a pool ball and he smiled at the thought, shaking the man’s hand. He wasn’t wearing a tie and was sitting back in the chair, creating a nice relaxed atmosphere for interviewees no doubt, and John would’ve felt calmer if he had felt nervous in the first place.
“Nice to meet you.”
He done a little research, brushed up on his interview skills, ironed his shirt, polished his shoes. His mom had put him through a practice run but nothing could’ve prepared him for George Hammond’s first question.
“D’you like golf son?”
He knocked on the door, rather than use his keys. He hadn’t lived there for three months and he knew Leanne wouldn’t want him to just barge in, even if he sill owned half the house.
She answered, bottled in her hand, the smile dropping from her face immediately when she saw him. He hated getting that reaction from women.
“Hey.” She waited, standing in the doorway like there was a password to get into the house. John knew what she was waiting for though.
“I got a job,” he told her, “assistant librarian, start on Monday.”
“Yep, at the county library,” he smiled, “pay is okay, benefits for me and my family.” She stepped aside to let him in that.
“He’s in the den.” She told him and he tried not to look to excited as he made his way through the house.
He recognised the crib as one belonging to Leanne’s sister and bent over to see his son wriggling in a blue blanket, eyes closed, red face, a little spit bubble on his lips. John thought he looked kinda funny but cute all the same. He considered asking, but decided that it was his son, so he lifted him up and held him close to his chest.
“He’s cute.” John said, sensing Leanne close by, his eyes only on the baby.
“He was six pounds, nine hours of labour.”
“Plenty of time to call.” She ignored the snap and John started to rock the baby to and fro in his arms. “He was healthy right, I mean, he is healthy?”
“He’s perfect.” He looked up at the tone of her voice, a tone he didn’t recognise and saw she was still looking at the boy in his arms.
“He is.” He sounded surprised but he wasn’t sure why. “I’ll sort something out, when I start getting paid, you know, maintenance, maybe we could buy him some new things together,” added, “I wouldn’t know what he needed.”
“I was thinking, you could move back in, we could give it another try.” John stopped still, he hadn’t expected that. He kissed his son on the head and carefully placed him back in the crib, covering him in the little blue blanket. Eric immediately started to squirm again but John couldn’t look after him right then.
He turned to see his wife looking him, waiting, a hopeful expression on her face.
“I don’t think I want to.” He said, looking her in the eye for the first time in months, “I,” he hesitated, did he really need to tell her why? Did she really need to know that he hadn’t missed her at all in the past three months and how he wasn’t in love anymore?
“There’s someone else.”
“No, no one else.” He hadn’t got laid in six months and he thought his new boss was hot but there hadn’t been anyone else. He hadn’t even thought about that. “I don’t, I’m not in love anymore. It’s not like it was, or how it should’ve been and right now I’m, it’s,” he wasn’t sure how to explain it, he didn’t want to hurt her.
“I understand.” He didn’t think she did, how could she, but he let it lie. The fact was that they were breaking up, saying goodbye and he was pretty sure it should hurt more but he’d been at his mom’s for three months now and he hadn’t felt anything. A little sad maybe.
“I’d better go.” He said after a long silence, after seeing the tears well up in her eyes. He didn’t want to see her cry. Didn’t want to cave in just because he couldn’t’ handle a crying woman. His crying wife.
He said good bye to the baby, smoothing down the unruly dark hair on the boy’s head before saying goodbye to Leanne his voice almost a whisper.
“Come by anytime to see him.” She uttered out.
“Thanks,” he forced a smile out, “I’ll call.”
He left the house and immediately wanted to go back in. Not for his wife but for his son and the crazy tuft of dark hair on his head. He couldn’t though, time to change his life, and it hurt, he felt pain other than in his back and while he wasn’t sure pills could help he popped a couple anyway and drove straight to the bar.