Stargate: Atlantis belongs to someone else.
My Dead Child
by Brat Farrar
The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,
Met his own image walking in the garden.
by an unknown poet
And everybody’s dead, and there’s joke that goes like that, and his brain keeps fishing for the punchline, the way a scratched record keeps skipping back to the same spot. John’s never felt this fragile before, even when Deb left him, and so he stays curled up on the floor, trying not to shatter.
He’s going to be court-martialed for this, drummed out, and he deserves it—deserves to be stripped of his wings. Except he can’t be, can he? Deb saw to that. And she’s been gone for years now, so that thought really shouldn't hurt so much.
His eyes are watering, but he can’t tell whether it’s from grief or the after-affects of shock. He shuts them, but that just gives him a better view of his memories, so he opens them again.
When he does, his own face is looking down at him—or rather, his doppelganger, his shadow-self. He half wishes it would speak, would tell him that everything will be all right, but he knows it won’t. And even if it did, he wouldn’t believe it. Things are never all right. Not for him.
“Hey,” he croaks at it after they spend a minute staring at each other, and for a moment he thinks it’s going to cry. He’s never realized before how funny his face looks when it’s all screwed up like that. “Don’t worry about me. The most they’ll do is ship me home.” Except Deb’s gone, and his grandparents are dead, and there isn’t really any home left for him to go to. “So nothing to worry about.” Which is patently false, but the thing’s face relaxes into a less distressed expression. And just how messed up is this situation? Here he is, a certain black mark on his career, and he’s comforting his doppelganger, which has never said a word to him.
He wonders vaguely sometimes if its silence means that there’s something wrong with him, but at the moment, all he really cares about is having a sympathetic face around. And while he’s always really wished it would speak, he’s heard about the kind of advice doppelgangers are reputed to give, so maybe it’s just as well his never has. John’s enough of a screw-up as it is.
“Hey,” he says again for no particular reason. “Nothing to worry about.” Too bad he knows better than to believe himself.
This is one of many attempts (at least eight) at an entry for the doppelganger challenge over at sga_flashfic, but I ended up submitting something a little longer and less depressing, with a more traditional doppelganger. Still, there's something about this one that I kind of like. It doesn't quite fit with the other John stories, so best to think of it as an AU of an AU.