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09 May 2010 @ 01:48 pm
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover Fic Challenge on skidmo_fic: Gone Without Goodbye by stella_pegasi  
Author: stella_pegasi
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: PG-13
Character/Pairing: John Sheppard, Nancy Sheppard
Spoilers: Sunday, Outcast.
Warnings: Very brief mention of intimate relations.
Het/Slash/Gen: Gen
Genre(s): Drama, angst.
Word count: 2246
Disclaimer: I do not own them, I would have treated them better.
Summary: John Sheppard faces a life-altering decision.
Prompt: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover </i>Multi-fandom Fic Challenge at
skidmo_fic/ The challenge is multi-fandom, can write for any pairing you like. The only stipulations are that at some point in the story, someone must leave their lover, and all fics must be at least 500 words. There is no maximum length. Prompt chosen: Leave without saying goodbye.


By stella_pegasi

“I’m sorry, major; I realize you’ve only been home for two days. I wouldn’t order you on this op if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. This mission is high priority, and General Hunter specifically requested you lead the team. There’s nothing I can do; the general gets what he wants.”

“I understand, sir. Wheels up at 1900 hrs; I’ll be there.”

“Sheppard, I am sorry.”

“Yes, sir; thank you sir.”

Major John Sheppard absently laid the phone down on the beige granite counter, and stood at the kitchen window for while, gazing at the dark blue waters of Destin Harbor. The haze from the late afternoon heat distorted the image of the bay, the boats in the marina, and the buildings beyond. That was exactly how he felt at the moment, distorted, as if his life was out of focus.


The call that had changed everything was from the commanding officer of his special ops unit stationed at Hurlburt Field. His thirty-day leave, the first he had taken in three years, canceled in an instant.

Grabbing a beer from the fridge, John walked through the large living room of the condo they had moved into three years before, just after they were married. He stepped onto the screened balcony, which faced the Gulf of Mexico. It was the middle of July, a beautiful, hot sunny summer day. Tourists, lying on colorful beach towels, dotted the pristine, powder-white sand beach. Off shore, sleek pleasure boats mixed with bulky commercial fishing and shrimp boats as they cruised across the clear, sparkling, azure water. A vacation in paradise for all those people, John thought; only it wasn’t paradise for him.

Nancy was coming home early from her job as an assistant attorney in the state prosecutor’s office; this evening, they had dinner reservations at Nancy’s favorite restaurant in Pensacola. He had been absent during her birthday, and wanted to make it up to her. Now, there wouldn’t be a birthday celebration tonight. John dreaded what her reaction would be when he told her.

Their strained relationship was fodder for the gossipmongers on the base. His CO always notified family members when the plane bringing them home was due to arrive. Nancy hadn’t made the effort to come to the base to meet him when his plane landed two days ago. That was the second time she hadn’t come to welcome him home, and he knew that the other wives had taken notice. Sherry, a delightful, sweet woman who was married to his buddy Will, rushed over when she realized he was alone to give him a welcome home hug. She politely asked about Nancy, and he made up an excuse that she had called; she was still in court and couldn’t get away. From Sherry’s expression, he could tell that she didn’t believe him. He wouldn’t have believed the story either.

John decided he was putting off the inevitable and left the balcony, walking into the bedroom where he pulled his go-bag from the back of the closet. Out of habit, as much as out of necessity, he had repacked the go-bag the morning after he returned, waiting to do so until Nancy had gone to work. He didn’t want to flaunt the fact that he might have to leave, regardless of his leave status, in her face. The sheer fact that she hadn’t taken time off to be with him was telling to him. Nancy had made a conscious decision not to disrupt her life, she didn’t expect him to be around very long, and he never was.

He stripped his t-shirt and shorts off and walked into the master bath. Stepping into the huge shower, he turned on the water as he tried to force images of the times he and Nancy enjoyed the shower together from his memory. Those memories had dwindled over the last three years like the water swirling down the drain.

The water was hot, streaming down his back as he tried to reconcile the emotions that were churning inside him. When Nancy had finally arrived home two nights ago, she had told him she was glad to see him; it didn’t feel that way to him. On his first night home in over four months, he had longed for a night of passion; but their lovemaking was anything but passionate. Remote and robotic, those were the words that came to his mind when he thought about that first night. Last night, Nancy spent all night working on a case, coming to bed at three am; he feigned sleep, not wanting to deal with the possibly she would turn down his advances. Now he was leaving again, and he knew that she wouldn’t really care.

John reluctantly left the shower when the hot water finally ran out. He shaved, brushed his teeth, dried his unruly hair, and dressed in his desert-camo BDU’s. After getting his gear ready, he waited on the balcony for Nancy to come home.

The soft chime on the front door announced her arrival. She only had to cross the threshold into the foyer to realize what was happening. He had laughed bitterly at his cowardice as he put his gear down directly in front of the door. What a chicken he was, he thought; he wouldn’t actually have to tell her he was leaving. His gear would do that for him.

He rose from the lounge chair on the balcony and walked into the living room. She was standing next to his bags, her expression changing from perplexed as she looked at his bags to fury as she looked at him.

“Are you serious, John? Tell me this is not happening. Tell me, damn it.” Nancy’s eyes had begun to flash with anger; she was daring him to confirm he was leaving.

He sighed, “I can’t tell you that. I received orders from the CO, a little over an hour ago; I have to report to Hurlburt by 1800 hrs; the transport departs at 1900 hr. Look, Nancy, I’m sorry. I…I…have to go. I don’t have a choice.”

She dropped her briefcase in the hallway, and tossed her keys and purse onto the sectional in the living room. “You don’t have a choice, John? You have a choice; you simply won’t take it. We wouldn’t have to live like this if you would leave the Air Force, and go to work with your father. Then you wouldn’t have to tell me that you don’t have a choice.”

“Nancy, I…”

“Don’t you dare ‘Nancy’ me; you can’t fool me, John. Leaving the Air Force means you might have to apologize to your father. You owe him an apology; all the opportunities he’s continued to offer you regardless of how many times you rejected him. I think you like playing soldier; it’s like playing Russian roulette. Maybe if you get lucky, you’ll get killed, and then you won’t have to face anything, not me, not your father, not yourself.”

She pulled her suit jacket off, threw it toward a chair and walked over to the bar. She took the vodka bottle down from the glass shelf, and poured a shot. “I’d offer you a drink, major, but I don’t think you can have one before you go off to play the hero and save the world, can you.” She downed the drink and poured another. “So, I’ll drink yours for you,” and she downed that shot as well.

He walked over to her as she started to pour a third, “No, you don’t need any more of this.” He took the bottle from her hand, setting it on the glass counter.

Nancy walked away from the bar, laughing, “Yeah, like you would have any idea what I need. I don’t think so.”

“I can’t do anything about this. Nancy, leaving right now is not what I wanted; I wanted to be here with you. I wanted to see if there was anything left between us.” John walked toward her, but she backed away from him.

“You wanted to be with me just to see what was left between us? You take off for exotic, dangerous destinations and play the brave soldier; leaving me alone for nearly three-quarters of our married life, leaving me in this godforsaken, mosquito pit instead in DC where I had a good life. You know the answer, John, you just won’t admit it. As long as you continue to value the Air Force over me, then we don’t have anything.”

Her words shattered the calm John was attempting to maintain. “Don’t throw that at me, you act as if you didn’t know exactly what being married to a special ops officer would be like.” His voice reflected the bitterness he felt. “I told you everything you could expect; that the calls could come anytime, and I would have to walk out the door, never able to tell you where I was going or why. I believed you when you said you understood, and that you loved me, and it didn’t matter; that we would make it work. I was foolish to believe you.”

“John, I thought I could deal with you being gone; but I never imagined you’d be away as much as you have been.” She paused as if she was trying to compose her thoughts. “When your father was here last month, he could see how unhappy I am and how much I miss DC. Patrick told me that he would make it worth your while to come home, to work with him and Dave. We could have a real life back in DC, together.” Pausing again, she looked at the stoic expression on his face, “But you don’t want that, do you; you don’t want the life that I want with you.”

He didn’t comprehend the last words Nancy spoke. He only heard the words that his father had visited her, that his wife and his father had discussed his future behind his back. His father would never quit interfering in his life. “What the hell do you mean; my father came here to see you? Why?”

She smiled sarcastically, “So that’s all that matter’s to you; that your father cared enough to come see me. You don’t like your father being here one bit, do you? My goodness, John, Patrick was doing what he thought you should be doing, making certain that I was alright. He came down to celebrate my birthday last month, about the sixth or seventh time he’s visited since I’ve lived here.”

“My father visits you.” He was having a difficult time wrapping his head around that fact.

“Your father felt that someone should take care of me. I was going to talk to you about this tonight, but that isn’t going to happen, is it?” She walked to the small side table in the foyer, opened the center drawer, and removed a legal-sized envelope. “Patrick left a contract for you to consider; it’s a good deal, John. He’ll give you out-right control of one of the energy development companies. He’s willing to forgive and forget, John.”

She waited for him to say something but John didn’t comment. Nancy watched him for a moment, and then tossed the envelope on the coffee table, “None of this matters to you at all, does it? You aren’t willing to forgive your father, are you? You won’t even consider forgiving him for me.”

He took a deep breath, “Nancy, when we first met, I told you that the only thing I wanted as I was growing up was to be a pilot in the Air Force. Something my father dismissed as frivolous from the moment I told him. He didn’t care that I wanted to do something with my life that was meaningful. The only meaning to life that he and Dave understand is how much money they can accumulate.” He walked over to the large windows and looked out at the water, “I’m not like them; I’ll never be like them. I don’t even know how to be like them.”

“You could try to make this work, John; if you want me, you could try.” Nancy’s hands were trembling, and tears were beginning to well in her eyes, but she fell silent; there was nothing else to say.

John turned from the window to look at her after she uttered that statement; that ultimatum. “That’s how it is?”

Nancy didn’t say anything.

They stood apart, staring at each other; neither of them willing to verbalize the words that would put a finality to the discussion. The intercom chimed, indicating that the taxi he asked the concierge to call was downstairs waiting for him.

John crossed the room, retrieved his bags, and turned to gaze at the woman he had married, one last time. On the outside, Nancy was the same beautiful woman he had fallen in love with four years before, so familiar to him; yet, he couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that had been creeping into his thoughts, since he arrived. Inside, she had become a stranger, someone he didn’t know. He suspected she had become someone he didn’t want to know.

Major John Sheppard was certain of one thing; that when he returned home from this mission, Nancy would be gone. Without a word, he walked away from his life with Nancy, back to the life he had chosen. He didn’t bother to say goodbye.

Current Mood: calmcalm
stella_pegasi: pic#100182921stella_pegasi on May 11th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
Thank you for a really cool challenge. These clever prompts make us think a bit outside of the little boxes we write in.

Thank you for your comment, as well. It is a bit sad; no doubt about that.

Thanks again!

I noticed that your icon suggests a like of a certain adorable Major...so the Icon on my message is in your honor. He's always having to save them; at least, in my stories!