Anyhow, these scenes aren't necessarily contiguous, but it's what I have so far...
Sheppard is already in her office when Sam returns, notepad in hand. She takes her seat quickly and places the notepad on the desk in front of her, with all the care due a ticking bomb.
John sits slouched in the arm chair across from Carter’s desk. Under other circumstances it would look like his normal innocuous posture – relaxed, talking to his CO as one officer to another, one friend to another. But these are not normal circumstances. Sam leans forward and rests her arms on the desk, looking intently at the man opposite. She can read the tension in his face, his body…the power curled there, waiting, tamped down by sheer will. Sheppard is staring back at her, holding her eyes, waiting for her to speak, to break the silence and the deadlock. Sam glances down briefly to the email on the tablet lying in front of her. He isn’t going to like this, and neither does she. But this is an order, albeit hidden in flowery wording.
“I know. You got word from the SGC.”
“The IOA. They want you back on Earth for an evaluation.”
“Huh. That’s what they’re calling it now. And I’m sure they have nice little suite picked out for me at Area 51 too.”
“It won’t come to that.”
“You know it will.”
“You report to the SGC, you’re US military. The IOA can ask nicely for your cooperation but only the SGC can require you…”
“To what? Sit and have a cosy little chat with the IOA representatives? Or report to Area 51 for a more formal examination?”
“I doubt it will come to that.”
“Really? Do you really think the SGC, Homeworld Security, or whoever is pulling the strings is going to pass up the opportunity to find out exactly what my intentions are…or what I’m capable of…with or without my active consent? I respect you, Colonel, I really do. But I think your judgement on this one stinks!”
“Colonel! John. I realise you are under considerable pressure right now, and I’m trying to understand…your concerns. And I’m not entirely naïve.” She raises an eyebrow at him, willing him to understand. “But there are ways and ways of pushing back…on working around orders you don’t…”
“So it is an order then? Not a request from IOA.”
“It’s a request from the IOA. But the SGC have made it very clear…” she glances at the words on the screen again – ‘all necessary force’… “that you are to comply with this ‘request’.”
John humpfs as he sits forward, mirroring her pose, and his mouth twitches into an unhappy line of resignation as he nods his head.
“If that’s all, Colonel?”
Sam tries to translate the Sheppard body language – is this capitulation to the request or a stalling tactic? Unsure, she sits back in her chair and ties on a tight little smile to mirror his.
“Yes, John. That’s all.”
Sheppard gets to his feet with alacrity, and turns to leave. Sam calls after him and he halts at the doorway, back still towards her. “The Daedalus will be here in three days. You’ll travel back with them when she leaves.”
The quiet ‘yes sir’ could almost be a figment of her imagination. And then he is gone, stalking across the walkway back towards the control room, shoulders hunched, head down, purpose to his stride, technicians skittering out of his way rather than be mowed down.
Sam takes a deep breath and then releases it slowly, looks at her tightly-clasped hands in her lap – she hadn’t realised how worried this meeting made her. Not nervous. Meeting with her 2iC wouldn’t make her nervous. But she’d admit to a little worry. And perhaps more, now that she’d imparted the order…request…to Sheppard. If she admitted to herself that she didn’t know what Sheppard’s next move would be, whether he would follow the order, then the logical next step, the required next step, would be to secure Sheppard in the brig until the Daedalus was ready to transport him back to Earth. And that would close so many avenues, for them, and for him, that she doesn’t want to consider that option. Not yet.
The feeling that she’s just lit the fuse on a highly unstable explosive settles into the pit of her stomach. She just hopes that it doesn’t take Atlantis and John Sheppard with it, when it detonates.
If he took the time to name the feeling bubbling inside him, John knows he’d probably settle on the word ‘fury’. But he doesn’t think, he just feels - a seething mass of injustice and incomprehension, frustration, anger and outrage, and that’s just for the IOA. Compound that with how the SGC were just going to throw him to the wolves – no, not wolves, jackals – or worse yet, railroad him into a cell in Area 51. The more he lets himself feel, the more he feels, a self-fulfilling loop fuelling him to the point where he needs to hit something…or someone…or explode.
Some of the Control Room technicians have witnessed his exit from Carter’s office, and seen the look on his face before he gets control of himself. How he managed to answer Carter civilly when she reminded him of the Daedalus’ schedule is beyond him, but apparently so too is control of his emotions at that moment. No wonder the technicians scurry away as he slams past them. No fool would risk getting in his way at that moment. And he can already hear the whispers behind his back as he strides away –
…wonder what she told him?
You didn’t know, he’s been called back to Earth.
…he looks furious…
…don’t blame him…
…he looks like he could kill
I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side
John ignores them all and concentrates on his righteous indignation, and lets the fury simmer. In the Transporter he hits the location for the gym – time to beat the crap out of the punch bag – but when the door opens, he pauses for a moment. Too public, too obvious, and the technicians already have too much grist for the gossip mill due to his carelessness. With a thought, the Transporter doors close and open onto the corridor leading to his room. He’ll have his meltdown in private. This time.
“You canNOT be serious!”
Rodney cringes as the catchphrase falls from his lips. But it’s so totally appropriate. And he’s on his feet, rooted to the spot in the conference room, his chair so recently and forcefully vacated that it lies on the floor. He stares at Carter, aghast that she is apparently complicit in the relocation of John Sheppard from the Pegasus Galaxy to the bowels of the SGC…or someplace infinitely worse.
“Rodney, I am sure Colonel Carter has done all she can to persuade the IOA the best place for John is..”. Teyla fumbles with how to complete the sentence – an indication of her own unease with the situation. She’s trying to calm him down, he knows, but it’s not working this time. She might have had a crash course in Earth politics by her forced interactions with IOA members, but she doesn’t get it like Rodney does…or like Sam should.
“No, no, no…just no! This is wrong and you know it, Sam.”
“Rodney, I’ve tried everything I can with them, but they felt …they said they need to see and speak with John personally. Face to face. And before you say it, a video feed isn’t going to cut it, and you know that.”
“But you know what will happen if he goes back… If he allows them to take him. And you know that’s a big if.”
“I’m not getting into this discussion, and again you know why.”
“What discussion?” Ronon cuts in.
He’s been sitting to one side, arm slung over the back of his chair so that he can twist his body to more easily watch the back and forth between Carter and McKay and Teyla’s obvious attempts at cooling the increasing heated debate. He can’t understand the unspoken conversation that’s going on between McKay and Carter but he does understand that something serious is being definitely-not-discussed. McKay breaks from staring daggers at Carter and turns to face Ronon, taking a deep breath and starting to count items off on his fingers with such force that it’s a wonder he doesn’t break one.
“First, the IOA will have a ‘conversation’ with John and deem him a security risk, someone they can’t trust, can’t manipulate and can’t make into a tool. And given his gene, they certainly won’t want him near any ancient tech. So their first priority will be to make sure he doesn’t return to Atlantis. And then they will ensure that all his security clearances, SGC-related and military, are systematically removed. He’ll wind up doing scut work in some back-of-beyond base or with his walking papers. That’s the best case scenario, and even the most naïve person in this room knows it’s not going to happen.”
McKay glances across to Sam, eyebrow raised in question and she breaks the eye contact first – tacit admission that he’s correct. He turns back to his team mates and continues.
“Two, he’s a citizen of one of the most powerful countries in the IOA which will scare the shit out of all the other member states because they’ll be thinking that the Americans will somehow subvert the IOA’s unilateral restrictions on John for their own purposes. And they wouldn’t be wrong about that. What’s the current euphemism? Permanent retirement? Given his growing capabilities and, without being overly dramatic, for the sake of political stability, the IOA would have no choice but to remove John from the equation before the Americans or some other nefarious quasi-political group secured him for their own uses.”
“McKay!” Sam’s affronted interjection only serves to bring his concentration back to her as he continues.
“And then of course there’s the American military to think about. Yeah Sam, there’s ‘good people’ in the SGC, but not enough to keep John safe or out of trouble. Once he’s back in Stargate Command, The Powers That Be will have their own conversation with him. They’ll come to the same conclusions as the IOA – security risk, can’t be manipulated, blah blah blah. But they have access to other means of ‘conversation’ and they’re not afraid to use them. Extraordinary rendition, anyone? Sheppard disappears again, but this time it’s a different sort of permanent. A long, drawn-out and probably very uncomfortable stay in a high security facility. There’s one close by Area 51, if I remember correctly. Of course you won’t find it on any map because no-one will acknowledge its existence. The dangerous and highly unstable weapon is contained. The investigators and scientists – and I use that term in the loosest sense – move in.
And even these scenarios, as utterly appalling as they undoubtedly would be – they would not be the worst outcome from all this. Everything I’ve outlined so far supposes that John goes along willingly, like a lamb to the slaughter, the self-sacrificing fool we all know he is!
But what if he doesn’t go willingly – and this is what Colonel Carter absolutely does not want to talk about or acknowledge. She has her own directive from the US military machine, because she might be the leader of the Atlantis expedition but first and foremost she’s a Colonel in the US Air Force and she WILL obey the orders given to her. She’ll be forced to break out the security escort, and an ultra-high security cell or, better yet, a stasis pod, in order to secure Sheppard until the Daedalus arrives and can beam him straight to their brig, complete with built-in anti-Ori device for good measure. Which is pointless actually because it’s not going to work on Sheppard. But let’s suppose they manage to keep him stunned or drugged unconscious for the 3 week trip back to Earth because they can’t risk what he might try to do – to them or to himself – if he’s conscious. Then the gloves are really off. He’s guilty of violating a direct order from his superior. Again. The SGC will be within their rights to lock him up. Wherever they like. But this time it won’t be Leavenworth & dishonourable discharge. There’ll be a game of pass-the-parcel for long enough for him to be lost in the paperwork and ‘oh look’ that same cosy facility in Nevada, with the soundproofed room.”
McKay pauses to draw breath, still standing but leaning on the table in front of him. For a fraction of a second, he considers not making the next damning comment. But for the sake of full disclosure, he really has no choice. He lets his head drop so that he doesn’t have to make eye contact with anyone.
“And don’t forget that Sheppard’s still learning what he can do, what he’s really capable of. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to be around when someone really pushes him and he starts fighting back. It won’t be pretty.”
It’s a lame finish, he knows, but it’s all he can bring himself to say. His worst-case-scenario vividly painted for all in the room, his task complete, Rodney grinds to a halt, red-faced and out-of-breath. There is silence, broken only by the sound of heavy breathing and Ronon’s chair creaking as he gets up to retrieve the overturned seat and put it behind the scientist. Ronon squeezes Rodney’s shoulder briefly as he turns back to his own chair, and McKay slumps down with barely an acknowledgement.
Sam looks around the people in the room and gives everyone a moment or two to digest the information so forcefully placed before them. She couldn’t have given the explanation herself – plausible deniability only stretches so far – and she might argue with some of the more extreme outcomes laid out, but Teyla and Ronon deserve to hear what they are all up against and the decision that John is wrestling with. And who better than Rodney to shine a light in all the murky corners.
“You just made my point for me, Rodney.”
McKay looks sharply up at Sam, but there is no accusation or recrimination there. Only a sad understanding and recognition on her face.
So, there we have it for the time being. I have a rough idea of what's happened to bring us to this point, and I have a penultimate destination - actually, that's the scene that came into my head first, but I'm having trouble writing more than a description, and it would be way too spoilery of the whole story to post it out of context.
More later, as and when.