Category: Sheppard!fic. Sheppard/other, Sheppard/Weir.
Summary: You never forget your first.
Thanks: phrenitis beta'd and was generally adorable. Thank you! :)
The first time John Sheppard gets a crush on a girl, he is five years old.
Her name is Lucy, and from her he learns two things: girls can make you do stupid things without even asking, and it is never nice to pull a girl's curly hair because she might try to bite you.
Her family moves into a duplex down the street three months before John and his mother move to the other side of town. She always looks dressed up -- pink dresses, bows in blonde hair -- and won't play outside on muddy days. She makes him play with dolls with her and, whenever no one else is around, he doesn't even pretend he's going to tear their heads off.
He skins the whole right side of his body by climbing on a bike far too big for him just to show her he can ride it.
His mother grounds him for the attempt, so he's not allowed to see friends for a day, but he hears Lucy at the door, politely offering get-well cookies. His mother calls Lucy his "girlfriend" when she talks on the phone to his grandparents. John tells her that girls are stupid, and Lucy's just an exception because there aren't any boys in the neighborhood to play with. He then spends the rest of the day ripping up magazines, because Lucy likes that stuff for paper doll furniture. He ends up giving her quite a few of his toys.
There are boys in his new neighborhood, and he forgets all about Lucy until his mother drives him back across town one Saturday for a playdate. Only a few months have passed, but they barely recognize each other.
He tells her he doesn't want to play with girly things like dolls, because that argument is how all their old playdates started.
Lucy doesn't argue this time. "That's okay," she tells him brightly. "I've found another boyfriend. He's better at it."
They spend the afternoon watching cartoons instead.
John tells his mother that he and Lucy aren't friends anymore, and goes back to thinking girls are stupid for a while.
The first time John has sex, he is almost sixteen. She -- Stacey, a junior -- is seventeen, and he has no idea in the world why she's interested in him.
"I think you're cute," is what she tells him, though he never asks the question straight up. He always gets the feeling she's laughing at him.
She makes him think about sex all the time.
He abandons schoolwork, sports practices, and his friends to follow her around like the horny teenager he is. She acts like she's bored -- ignoring his phone calls, mocking the notes he leaves in her locker, saying that she's too busy to be bothered with him -- but she gets mad whenever he stops chasing her to do something else for a day.
She tells him he isn't her boyfriend when he asks. She talks about her ex-boyfriend Robert endlessly, and calls John a "good friend" when he listens or buys her things out of sympathy. He thinks he's probably her boyfriend anyway, and her saying he isn't is just another one of her tricks.
The fact that he really doesn't like her all that much as a person gets muddied when she parks her father's car behind the dilapidated roller rink, sticks her hand down his pants, and makes him come before he can think. He ends up sprawled in the passenger seat every time, weak and embarrassed, as she wipes her hand clean and then drives him back home. He thinks he can put up with whatever nasty things she says to him as long as she can make his body feel like this.
The first time they have real sex -- sex where she's out of her clothes, too, and the rest of the house is empty -- John says "I love you," because he thinks he's supposed to and because he'll say just about anything to be allowed to do that again.
"Awww, that's sweet," Stacey tells him. He thinks she's laughing at him again.
They have real sex four more times -- she tells him he's "getting better" -- before Robert returns to the picture.
Stacey doesn't see him for two weeks, and when she finally does break the news in the school parking lot, it's with a pouty face that begs him not to be angry with her. "You're so sweet, John," she tells him. "There are lots of nice girls."
He thinks girls might be better, as a concept, if he never had to listen to them talk.
John is twenty-five when he has what he calls his first real relationship.
He's not counting the flings that last a handful of nights or take place entirely in motels. He's also not counting the one-night stands that he actually does call again, but who lose interest either before or after he next ships out overseas.
His buddies have all started to get married, and Jill is the college roommate of his friend's new wife.
"She'll love you," Brian and Kathy both assure him.
He's never sure if she does or not. He thinks she probably does, because they stay together for six months.
Jill is smart -- a business graduate -- and has one of the most incredible bodies he's ever seen. She lives her life at a relentless breakneck pace, while his is full of the stops and starts dictated by his career. She rarely sits still, hates sedentary pastimes in both herself and in him, and likes everything around her to move as quickly as she does. It's a trait he both admires and fears.
He gives up reading for the duration, except when he's on deployment. They run together every day -- she can keep up easily, even though it isn't a part of her job fitness requirement -- and she beats him handily at tennis. She teaches him to surf. He's slightly uncomfortable in the whirlwind of social engagements she invites him to whenever he's back State-side, so he slings an arm around her waist to keep her from abandoning him in a crowd of strangers and whispers lewd suggestions in her ear to encourage her to leave early.
It's a new kind of wonderful. They go out to restaurants every night -- neither of them can cook -- and know all each other's favorite selections. She writes him letters weekly when he's away -- short and concise, usually, but that's the way she is -- and despite the fact that she's hot enough to have gotten other offers every single day, she's still interested when he gets back. He gets sick with the flu, and she takes care of him with soup and saltines and daily laundering of their sheets. It's awkward to be in her space, to fit himself into her apartment while he's on leave, but it's also nice. He sees her before her makeup is on, when she's sitting at the breakfast nook slicing open the morning mail with her executive letter opener, and no one else gets to see that side of her. He likes that a lot, even though she's cranky as hell in the mornings.
Part of the reason why he counts this as a real relationship where no others have been is the fact that they argue so damned much.
"Oh, stop looking like a hurt puppy," she'll tell him, in a tone of voice that can cut like a knife, as her way of ending an argument. "I don't think I'm being unreasonable, here."
He does, about whatever they're fighting about that day, but once the anger has cooled off, he regrets thinking that. She's good, and good to him, and her requests shouldn't be that unfair, which means that he's the one being unreasonable. She wants him to tell her things, things about combat, things about him, but he's just fine with her continuing to see him the way she does now, without any of that attached. She wants to help, because she cares about him and because he's a puzzle. She wants him to trust her. She wants him to make something of himself.
She wants to get married.
He's not ready. He knows it with a coil of icy fear inside him that's entirely different than the adrenaline-laden fear he gets when he's sitting on explosives in a fighter jet.
He snaps at her that they can't possibly be contemplating getting a place together or a life together when they can't even get through five minutes without fighting, and she says that's unfair, and that if he wants out of this, he should just say so.
An irrational image of Jill sitting on his chest, prying him open with a crowbar, flits across his thoughts right before he walks out.
He wants to disappear from the relationship completely, but has to see her again when he goes to pick up his things. She tells him, arms crossed over her chest, that they can work it out.
"You just have to trust me, John. I'm not asking for a lot, here. We have something good."
He knows they do -- it's something better than anything else he's had -- and so he relents. They play twenty-questions for a while and he forces himself to answer, to tell her watered-down versions of why he never mentions his father, why he can't quite "toe the army line" even when it's in his best interest, and how he wants to marry her, really, most likely, just not yet.
Her arms stay crossed the whole time, while he shreds the edge of her kitchen tablecloth with his fingers. "Thank you," she says when he's done, arms still crossed, like she has won a battle. "See, none of that was so bad."
He stays for the rest of the week, and that's it.
For months afterward, he misses her whenever his friends are reading letters from home, and he wonders if he made a mistake.
The first time John Sheppard falls in love, he is thirty-four years old and living three galaxies away from where he was born. She is his boss, and he is completely out of his depth.
He has no idea when it happened, precisely. He has laid his life directly on the line for her three times, but no one moment stands out in his mind as the exact point of revelation, before which he felt something totally different for her, or felt nothing at all. He doesn't initially know what he feels for Elizabeth Weir, only knows that he's never felt anything like it before.
He feels like he's tumbling down a steep hill, picking up speed, and he has no idea what will happen when he hits the ground.
She smiles, letting him see her rare and offbeat sense of humor, and it can bring him back from the horrors of the day like nothing else ever has.
She's injured or endangered, and he feels like he can't breathe.
She tells him she's proud of him, and he believes her.
He wants to be better for her all the time.
It's two full years before he sleeps with her, two years of stops and starts and superficial violations of a deeper trust. He never thought he'd make it this far with her. There were a series of disasters, of losses and dangers and sleepless weeks that helped lead them to this point, but all that seems very far away.
Elizabeth settles down to face him in the sheets as their breathing slows to normal in her otherwise silent cabin. "What are you thinking?"
He isn't. There's too much emotion in his chest all at once. It takes a moment to pin it down amid the fear and hope and hormones and everything else crashing around inside him, but he thinks this overwhelming feeling is the same one he always has for her, just more so. He gently pulls on the end of one of her curls and watches it spring back into shape, giving him a chance to think.
He wants to be here forever.
It's the only thought in his head, but he manages not to say it exactly that way. "I don't want this to be a one-night stand," he says, and feels his heart clench as the words hit the air.
Her expression melts into a smile, one he hasn't seen before, and she kisses him before answering. "I think that can be arranged."
He touches her, gently, learning her body and the unique feeling of her skin. She's doing the same, tracing his muscles and scars, hand stilling on the rough patch of skin on his right thigh from when he fell off a bike at age five.
He curls himself around her, memorizing the points of contact. He runs a hand up and down her arm and thinks he can hear her smile.
"I want to tell you something," he says.
She catches his fingers in hers just long enough to kiss his thumb. "Okay."
He doesn't say he loves her, but he will.
John opens his mouth and tells her about him.
Author's Note: This was another iTunes challenge fic (fic inspired by first song that comes up on "random"). Given that the song was Nat King Cole's "When I Fall In Love," you're lucky it's not even sappier than it is. :)
Edit: Late entry beta efforts added, with help from the gallery. Thanks!