Winter Sunlight

SGA fic: untitled Sheppard-Caldwell ficlet for Tridget

tridget guessed my story correctly in the Genficathon, so I offered a ficlet of her choice, and she asked for:

"...a scene between Sheppard and Caldwell - something gen - and while they are not exactly buddies I'd like to see a scene that captures a little of the positive aspects of that relationship."

Hopefully this suits! Search & Rescue tag, gen, untitled, ~1300 words.

Recovering from surgery, John knew from experience, would have sucked even if he hadn't spent the time between injury and surgery shot up on painkillers and running around a Wraith cruiser. On the other hand, it hadn't exactly helped.

Now he was tired, sore, bleary and achy, perhaps with a side order of pissiness to go along with it, or so Ronon had told him. ("You're being an ass, Sheppard. I'll come back and visit again when you're less of a dick," Ronon had said, though not in a particularly resentful way. "You're spending too much time around McKay!" John had yelled after him, which, in retrospect, probably proved Ronon's point.)

He did make an effort not to be a jerk to Teyla, because she was recovering from having a baby, and John really did not want to get into a pissing match about that, especially not while she was still walking funny and looking like she hadn't slept in days. Besides, he was so happy to have her back that, frankly, he could have done nothing but sit and stare at her for hours. (Unfortunately she caught him in the act; he blamed it on the painkillers.)

And then there was the baby: tiny and fragile and awesome and terrifying. John tried to act cool in its presence, like he saw miniscule newborn babies every day of the week and twice on Thursdays, but he thought Teyla probably saw through his act when she told him, "It is a baby, John, not a live bomb," and put it into his arms without warning.

It. He. Torren. It — he — even had a name, and as John stared at the baby with a mix of terror and awe, he realized all over again that there was a tiny little person in there. And Torren was going to have opinions, and girlfriends (or boyfriends), and John would teach him how to shoot a gun and hold his little hands on the stick of a Piper Cub like his Uncle Gary did when he was a kid, and — oh damn, his facade of cool had totally crumbled into a doofy mess, he could just feel it.

Of course, that was when Caldwell strolled into the infirmary. "Colonel Sheppard," Caldwell said dryly, and John almost made the terrible mistake of saluting, remembering just in time that, woops, baby.

"At ease," Caldwell said, looking like he was trying not to smile, the bastard. Teyla swooped in gracefully to rescue Torren, and then made an equally graceful retreat.

"Cute baby," John said, trying to muster the tattered shreds of his cool.

"Most of them are," Caldwell said. "It's in the factory specs."

"So do you have any, uh —" John tried to stop in mid-question, because not only was it none of his business, but he was really way more comfortable knowing nothing at all about Caldwell's personal life. Damn painkillers.

"No, we never did," Caldwell said, leaving John thinking, We? He'd never suspected the existence of a Mrs. Caldwell. "My sister has three, though," Caldwell added, leaning a hip on the empty bed next to John's. "And two grandkids. Girls."

"Congratulations," John said on autopilot, in horror that the pictures were going to come out any minute.

But Caldwell turned to business. "Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we're shipping out at 0600 tomorrow. I think we've got all the Atlantis-to-Earth transfers, but I emailed you the passenger roster so you can check. I know things are a little chaotic right now."

John nodded. That was putting it mildly; things were an absolute mess, with himself and Lorne both in the infirmary, Teyla officially off duty and Carter grounded on Earth. Woolsey wouldn't be here until the Daedalus had made a full round trip, and in the meantime, Rodney was running the city, with a certain amount of input from Teyla, Jennifer, Teldy and anyone else he could snag to help him. And, from all accounts, he wasn't doing a bad job, which John thought should probably not be as much of a surprise as it was. He and Rodney had shared city-running duties during the gap in leadership before Carter's appointment, and apparently neither of them were as bad at it as everyone had always seemed to expect they'd be. Yeah, no one ever thought I'd make captain, either.

"We can delay the launch if we need to," Caldwell added. "If you need me here for another week or two, I mean."

And they'd be burning up US military dollars for every day that the Daedalus sat on the Atlantis docks, which Caldwell would have to answer for, once he was back in the Milky Way. But he was offering. And, to his own surprise, John found that he was both flattered and tempted by the offer, rather than annoyed. It didn't feel like a power grab, not anymore. Caldwell was just making himself available if he was needed.

But, no. Caldwell had duties elsewhere. It wasn't his job to clean up messes they'd created in the Pegasus Galaxy, no matter how often he got tapped for it.

"We'll be all right," John said. "Michael's on the run, if not actually dead — not that we'd be that lucky. The Replicators are out of the picture and the Wraith don't seem to be anywhere nearby. And I trust Teldy to handle things if we get a crisis out of the blue." Actually, he wasn't entirely sure about Teldy — the oak leaf on her uniform was still shiny, and she hadn't been tested in an actual combat situation yet, at least not in Pegasus. But she'd earned that oak leaf somehow, and from what little he'd seen of her so far, she was level-headed and competent.

Besides, John was temporarily out of commission, but he wasn't dead, missing or in a coma. Teldy had been sending several-times-daily status reports to both him and Lorne, and John knew she'd come to him if she ran into anything she didn't feel comfortable handling without her CO's input.

Caldwell nodded. "I thought you'd say that, but I figured it was worth asking."

"Thanks," John said, and he hoped Caldwell could tell that he actually meant it, that it wasn't just mouthing off.

Caldwell smiled slightly. "Also, that stunt you pulled on the Wraith ship, getting Teyla back? Officially you ought to be on report, and I will deny to my dying day that I ever said this, Sheppard — but that was some damned good work."

"You're only saying that because it didn't fail messily."

"Well, yes, of course." Caldwell's smile grew a little broader and more genuine. "But you pulled it off. I don't know if it was luck or that stubborn streak of yours —"

"Stubborn, mostly," John said, "and also, I have a damn fine team, sir."

"Yes, Colonel, you do." Caldwell saluted him, and Sheppard pulled himself together and executed the best salute that he could manage while flat on his back in a hospital bed.

"Get some sleep, Sheppard."

"You too, sir," John said, and as Caldwell walked away, the thought crossed his mind that a hell of a lot could change in three years.


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Ah, very nice. I love the relationship you've written here between Caldwell and Sheppard. Certainly not buddies, but definitely a mutual respect for each other - as well they should have after three years in and out of Pegasus crises (perfect last line!). Thanks for sharing!
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it; they aren't really friends, but there is a deep respect there, I think.
Oh well done! Enjoyed reading! Thought you did an excellent job of Caldwell and John, while not being close friends, were friendly and respectfull toward each other. Thanks for sharing your story with us!
"Congratulations," John said on autopilot, in horror that the pictures were going to come out any minute.

:D What a mental image *g*

This was great, I really enjoyed it... not just the exchange between Sheppard and Caldwell but all the little background stuff, too - Teyla's baby, Rodney and the others running the city... this ficlet put me in a happy SGA mindset.

and John almost made the terrible mistake of saluting, remembering just in time that, woops, baby.

Hee :)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked the little stuff too -- while the Sheppard/Caldwell aspect was the reason I wrote it, I also really enjoyed thinking about the post-Search & Rescue state of Atlantis, and figuring out how everyone was dealing with the many things that happened in the episode (and Rodney would have to be running Atlantis; he's the only one left!).
This is a great moment between these two, and the little side details are perfect.
Oh, this is wonderful! Loved the 'oh my goodness it's a baby' reaction John had to Torren. Between John being John and the drugs, I think that's a real reaction. The little pieces of back story to the events post S&R are woven so seamlessly with the great moment between Caldwell and John.
Thank you very much! I enjoyed thinking about where they all would be post-Search & Rescue; there was so much in that episode to deal with, including the question of who the heck is running the city since John's in the infirmary and Sam's been removed from command.
What a lovely ficlet! Completely in character for both - mutual respect between officers with a little awkwardness thrown in.
Thank you! Yep, mutual respect + awkwardness is exactly what I was going for there.
The description of John's cool cracking while holding Torren made me laugh and go "aww" simultaneously.
baby is feeding so I'll just say what a sweet one shot and leave it at that.
I like this very much. I adore the relationship that Caldwell and Sheppard developed over the years, and this is a nice view of that.
"Hopefully this suits!"

This suits wonderfully well! When I made the request, I only had a vague idea about the relationship between Caldwell and Sheppard but I really wanted to see the possibility explored in a positive way. When I read you're story, my thought was "that's it!" It was so right for who the characters are and the circumstances they have been through. It was perfect that they knew enough about each other in one way to have that level of professional trust and respect, but not enough in another for Sheppard to know if Caldwell had kids or not. Every backstory detail was a treat, too. John and the baby was priceless. Ronon calling John on his attitude made me LOL! Thank you. This was delightful.
Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. :D My biggest struggle with this story was figuring out what the actual story was going to be -- what else was going on while John and Caldwell had their little talk? But then I thought about setting it post-S&R, and getting to explore some of the fallout from that episode, which was fun. Anyway, I hope it was worth the wait. :D
Very excellent. I love what you showed, here - mutual respect without being over the top or understated, and John's various reactions, especially to Torren.
Thank you; I'm glad you liked it! John + baby will never fail to be adorable. :D
Very well done!

Loved this little snippet of a episode tag. Well written and in character.

Thank you!
Loved it. You have such a way with Shep and Caldwell. I remember thinking that in Killing Frost. Anyway, really enjoyed it!
Thank you! Yeah, I've always liked writing Caldwell, and I like his mutual-but-wary respect with John. I'm glad you enjoyed!
I hope I'm not damning with faint praise, but it's great to see Caldwell as an actual human being! John has come to respect him, and vice-versa.

John and Rodney must have done okay running the city after Elizabeth. I'm not surprised Rodney can do it again (with help).
*laughs* No, the praise is fine! Thank you!

As I was figuring out what everyone was doing post-S&R, I was a little startled to realize that Rodney would have to be running the city; there's no one else to do it! And now I think that's a story that really needs to be told.