Things John Doesn't Talk About
No one (except perhaps Carson) realizes this, but John is more Ancient than human—his father is descended from them on both sides of his family, and his mother was an ascended Ancient who fell in love. John’s come to suspect this about her, after having found out about the Ancients and the whole ascension thing—it would certainly make sense out of some of her more puzzling eccentricities.
John is a divvy. He grew up trailing fingers over furniture as he passed, enamored of his grandmother’s kitchen table because of how it glowed with all the love it had soaked up over the long years of its use. (She left it to him in her will, but he gave it to the cousin who inherited the rest of the farm—by that point in his life, he had neither the ability to appreciate it properly anymore or a home in which to place it.) He had that second sight, that sixth sense, bound and hidden when he was eighteen, desperate for the chance to fly—any known divvy is automatically shunted to the ‘Site Assessment Corps’ (commonly known as the ‘Sniffer Dogs’) or the civilian equivalent, and that would have slowly killed him.
He grew up an Air Force brat, living in too many houses for him to keep track of them all. When he says ‘home’, he means his grandparents’ farm and all the summers he spent there. If things ever fall apart and he winds up unable to fly anymore, he will find himself a farm somewhere and bury the pieces of himself there with the corn. The sky barred to him, he can’t think of any place he’d rather be, anything he would rather do.
He still loves Deb, even though she refused to understand him, tried to clip his wings so he couldn’t fly. That betrayal hurt fiercely for a long time, but now he can remember her with fondness as well as love, can hear her softly said ‘I do’ as well the shrieked ‘Get out!’ that used to haunt his dreams. He wouldn’t go back to her now, though—he has another life here in Atlantis, and there’s no place for her in it.
His mother and grandparents are dead, but his father’s still alive, slowly rotting away in a nursing home somewhere. He was incoherent when John last saw him, no longer able to process time in a linear fashion. The few seconds he spent in the present, he looked John squarely in the eye and said, “Don’t come back here, son.” So John hasn’t, no matter how much it hurts sometimes.
He doesn’t have a death wish, despite the supposed evidence to the contrary. It’s simply that he has no fear of death—he learned a long time ago that everyone must die at some point. If his death could extend someone else’s life, he would willingly make that trade. That being said, if his sacrifice isn’t necessary, he will fight tooth and nail to stay alive. He’s been left behind too many times to put his friends through it without good cause.
He’s actually read War and Peace eight times now—he’s never slept much, something he inherited from his mother, and he finds it comforting to be reminded that in the course of things, one man’s screw-ups rarely have any significance.
The only woman he’s slept with other than his wife is Teer, and he did that because he was trying to move on, to continue living after losing (again) everything and everyone he loved. When he thinks back on it now, it is with regret that he didn’t wait just a little longer before taking that last step.
When he’s alone, he talks to Atlantis and to the puddlejumpers the way a man does to his dog or horse—not because he expects a response or any real sort of understanding, but because it fosters familiarity and trust and a kind of near-telepathy in emergencies. Sometimes, though, when he’s half-asleep, he thinks he hears Atlantis talking back.
He loves in various ways the people he’s come to think of as his own—Rodney, Teyla, Ronon, Elizabeth, the kids on the mainland. It frightens him sometimes, because every other person he’s loved—every single one of them—has either died or betrayed him in some way. And if that happens one more time, he thinks some necessary piece of him will break.
He would willingly die for any innocent, but for his team, for Atlantis, he would destroy himself and do it with a smile.