Title: Message From Pegasus
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Date: 17 July 05
Summary: Major Sheppard thought he had no messages to send home.
Many thanks to butterfly, who said it needed space to breathe.
Major Sheppard finished speaking, grinding to a halt at the end of his message to the family of Colonel Sumner. He'd never had to advise next of kin about a death before, and it had been awkward -- especially since with every word he remembered that it was his bullet that had ended Sumner's life. No matter how justified the decision was, that just wasn't something you admitted to the family of the deceased on videotape. He skirted around the details, and with all the classified information he couldn't share, there wasn't much left to say. But he said it. He forced himself to say it in spite of the guilt.
He nodded to Ford to let him know that he was finished.
"Anything else, sir?" the lieutenant asked.
"No," he said, then changed his mind. "Actually, yes. Would you let it run and leave the room? I just need a few minutes." As long as he was in the midst of painful reminisce, he might as well record a message he'd never thought to make.
Ford nodded and left.
Sheppard sat for a long moment. The sun shone in from the side windows, illuminating the sparsely furnished room. The camera sat facing the table where Sheppard sat. The red indicator light blinked somberly.
He began to speak, looking at his hands clasped on the table. "I'd like this message to be given to Cassandra Redding. I don't know where she is now, but she went to high school with me. Show it to her in private. She can decide what to do with it from there."
He took a deep breath, making an effort to ignore the tightness in his chest. "Cass, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. I don't even know if you carried to term, but if you did.... If there's a son or daughter of mine out there, this is for them. You can decide whether or not to share it."
He paused again and rubbed his face. When he continued, he was looking into the camera.
"My name is John Sheppard, I'm a major in the United States Air Force, and I'm your father. That doesn't say much about me, since I wasn't there for you like I should have been. I could say I was young, and scared -- but truthfully, that's no excuse. I should have been there, I wasn't, and I'm sorry. Running out on your mom is nothing I'm proud of, and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't think much of me.
"I doubt I'll ever have the chance to meet you, but.... Maybe..." He stopped and gathered his thoughts.
"What I've done -- or rather, haven't done -- in your life is something I'm ashamed of. You shouldn't be, because it wasn't your fault, but I want to tell you what I've been doing, and maybe -- if I'm really, really lucky -- you can find something about me to be proud of.
"When I joined the service, I swore that your mother would be the last person I left behind. That's gotten me into some trouble, because sometimes I have to disobey orders to do it, but I've been able to keep that vow.
"My first post was in...."
Ford peeked in and saw Major Sheppard still talking. He noticed the major was describing Afghanistan and ducked back out before Sheppard realized he was there.
Maybe another fifteen minutes would do.
"Right now, we're in a pretty dire situation. This may be the only message we're able to send home. The enemy's on the way and we are very, very outnumbered. I hope I live, of course, but there are a lot of great people on this team. I'll do whatever I have to to protect them.
"I should have done as much for you. I hope you forgive me."
He looked at the table for a minute then turned and rose from the chair. He rubbed tears from his eyes so he could see to turn off the camera.
Ford came back into the room just as he was leaving. "All good, sir?"
"As good as it's gonna get, Lieutenant."