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Tell The World That I'm Falling From The Sky

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Undercover work was long, was tiring. Jonathan had done spec ops, had done his unfair share of black ops, but undercover work was something else. He supposed the goons at the NID who were desperate to break The Trust from the inside had looked at his pretty baby face and thought, he’s young, he’s got time, we can take our time. So for at least the first six months, he was supposed to work at Sheppard Industries, make himself invaluable to Sheppard Junior (and technically Dave Sheppard was Sheppard Junior Junior, John Sheppard being the oldest son), and earn an unimpeachable reputation.

Jonathan knew he was unimpeachable as a personal assistant. He was always at the office before Dave Sheppard, made his coffee just how he liked it, and learned to do a hundred different things to make his life easier.

When Dave gave him the asinine assignment to find out what kind of pony Anna wanted for her birthday, Jonathan approached the task with aplomb. He called Anna and asked to schedule a time to see her (after school the next day), and when he arrived, he was dressed in a jacket, suit, and tie. He let the housemaid show him into the den, and he was polite, attentive when Anna was brought in. He interviewed her extensively, about her wishes and desires in a pony, color and size, her goals for being an equestrienne, interested in dressage? Then he fired up his company-issued laptop, and together they looked at pictures of ponies, so she could pick just the right color.

Anna had been flattered from the get-go, to be treated like an Important Grownup, and Jonathan heard her asking her mother, as the maid showed him to the door, if he could come visit again.

Dave Sheppard looked alarmed at the perfect sincerity with which Jonathan submitted his memo, complete with pictures, exhibits of pricing options, as well as projections for future costs, like tack, riding gear, and riding lessons.

Jonathan slowly marshaled the other personal assistants into some semblance of order, converted them over to his way of doing things so the entire board of directors at Sheppard Industries worked like a well-oiled machine. If the boys slacked off and got fired, got replaced by pretty girls, Jonathan would be the odd man out, and his efficiency would be hampered by lack of unity. If anyone thought his behavior was strange, well, he had been a staff officer for a general at the Pentagon. Military efficiency was just part of his training.

Every morning, Jonathan rose before the sun, went on a run.

While he ran, he listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They had eleven studio albums, so he started from the oldest and listened to them in chronological order. Then, because he was ‘young’, he made mixed playlists for his shiny new iPod, mixes like running and songs to have sex to and hey you. It wasn’t his usual thing, but he could see why Evan liked it, the intricacy of it, the slightly nonsensical lyrics that slipped and slid like poetry. The songs were like stepping onto another planet. Like Earth, but not quite. Familiar, but just exotic enough to be memorable, to be alluring.

Jonathan got the sense that the lead singer might know something about the situation Jonathan was in.

We are all just soldiers in this battlefield of life
One thing that's for certain is my burning appetite

Jonathan missed Evan. Fiercely. He didn’t have anything from his former life, not the books Evan had sent him, not those precious rings, not even Evan’s beautiful sketchbook.

Sometimes, when he was feeling daring, he’d mosey on down to the public library, jump on one of their computers - using an old lady’s login he’d conned out of her, feigning broke college student desperate to print out an article for a research paper - and look up the website for Sheila’s gallery. She had photos of Evan’s art, sometimes, always watermarked for protection purposes.

Jonathan could gaze at the pictures, at the fine lines, at the bold brush strokes, and remember Evan’s hands, so warm and strong and perfect.


Sitting here I count the moons
The orders we obeyed
Every night 'fore we go to bed
I watch while the others pray

Jonathan couldn’t hold out forever, though, abandon everything that had made him who he was, and once he’d saved up enough money, he bought a good telescope that he could use on his balcony. More often than not, though, the light pollution from the city killed the view, so Jonathan would hop into his little, conservative, used car, and drive far away from the city. He’d crank up his iPod, set up the telescope, and lie back, gaze at the sky, search for the Pegasus Galaxy.

After three trips out to the park, he could find Pegasus without a star chart.

Once in a blue moon, he’d look for Abydos.

But he always, always went back to Pegasus.

Slip away into the solar system
Straighter rays, you find a way to twist them
Some like it dark and now I know where to find you

Jonathan went running every morning, and in the shower, he sang to himself. Opera. Songs he’d sung for Evan before, songs Evan had never heard, songs that would tell Evan how he felt, songs that Evan would never get to hear.

When he was wandering around the mall one weekend, with Lane and Tyson, two of the other boys from the office, he spotted a recording booth, the kind where you could make your own CD.

“Hey, I want to give this a shot,” he said.

Lane raised his eyebrows. “You want to record a song? For what?”

“For my uncle,” Jonathan said. “He likes music. He helped get me this gig, and I owe him. He’s impossible to buy for, and his birthday is coming up.”

Lane and Tyson looked at each other.

“Go for it,” Tyson said. “We’ll just be at Game Stop.”

They weren’t bad kids, really. They were kids, though. Far younger than even Evan. But Jonathan didn’t mind them, in short bursts. They reminded him of Dean, sometimes. And they were cool with playing video games a lot and saying little.

So Jonathan paid the bored teenage girl, stepped into the booth. Most of the opera selections she had were the kind popularized by Josh Groban and not the kind Jonathan considered real opera. He was delighted when he found Pourquoi Me Reveiller, and the girl, looking skeptical, cued up the music.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “the booth is soundproof.”

Jonathan nodded absently, made sure his earphones were on, tested the mic, gave the girl a thumbs up.

The music swelled, and he sang.

Evan, I miss you.

We are all just soldiers in this open field of time
Hoping to get with you when you get right with your mind

Four months into Jonathan’s endless assignment at Sheppard Industries, he realized that Evan wasn’t making anything new. Everything Jonathan looked at on Sheila’s website was the same thing, over and over. Some pieces were marked sold, but nothing was marked new.

Jonathan’s throat closed. He wondered if Evan was all right, if Evan was safe, if something had happened to him, his eyes or his hands.

Or just his heart.

Jonathan’s handler, a no-nonsense agent named Prentiss, was unimpressed with Jonathan’s concern about Evan.

“I made a deal,” Jonathan said, “with the Air Force and the NID. My service in exchange for his continued safety. Is he all right?”

“That’s need to know, Jonathan,” Prentiss said, because she was always careful not to call him O’Neill, “and you don’t need to know.”

Yes, he did.

You don't know my mind
You don't know my kind
Dark necessities are part of my design
Tell the world that I'm falling from the sky

Jonathan wrote, endlessly, in his spare moments. Lists and lists of things. Shopping lists. Books he’d read that he loved. Books he read that he’d hated. Movies he loved. His favorite Simpsons episodes. His favorite foods. All the places he’d been stationed. To-do lists. All the things Anna was contemplating naming her birthday pony. All of the types of tea Kathy Sheppard liked to have at hand for her monthly catered lunch at the office with Dave. All the things he’d known and seen that no one his ‘age’ could or should. All the reasons he and Evan were so wrong for each other.

A May December might not be so smart.

All the reasons they were so right for each other.

He wrote lists of books about Atlantis, and Merlin, and magic, and traveling to other worlds. If he purchased the books Evan had once sent to him, reread them and notated them endlessly and slept with them under his pillow, no one knew but him.

He wrote lists of his favorite quotes, and his favorite songs, and his favorite song lyrics.

He made code covers very carefully, with a craft knife and careful measurements. He sent the code covers to Sam Winchester, and then he sent the lists to Sam Winchester, and he hoped and prayed Sam had understood, that Sam wasn’t just throwing it all away.

He hoped and prayed Evan was getting the messages and that he understood.

He resisted the urge, with everything he had, to write Sam and ask Sam to write back, to tell him something, tell him anything about Evan. But he knew Sam knew nothing about who Evan was, that Sam was trusting enough to send the messages on without asking who they were for.

“You read the weirdest books,” Tyson said, one day during lunch in the break room.

“I have eclectic taste,” Jonathan said loftily.

“You have old man taste,” Lane said, rolling his eyes.

Jonathan said, “My uncle is an old, old man.”

And he hummed the Red Hot Chili Peppers under his breath, and he read.

Sterile as the barrel
Of an old 12 gauge
Under my skin
And half my age
Hotter than the wax
On a saxifrage
The longest wave
Waiting on the wind
To turn my page

“Is it true?” Tyson asked one night, while they were over at Lane’s apartment, playing Call of Duty.

“Yes, it’s true, your mom thinks I’m hot,” Jonathan said without missing a beat, because this was the parlance of his new generation.

“Is it true that you were a soldier?” Tyson glanced at him sidelong.

“I was a staff officer at the Pentagon.”

“What does that mean?” Lane asked.

Jonathan shot Lane's character and navigated on, exploring the game level more thoroughly so he could get a good tactical advantage on Tyson. “I wasn’t a right-hand man. I was just like I am now, except at the Pentagon, and I wore a uniform.”

“Did you like being a soldier?” Tyson asked.

“I wasn’t a soldier there.” Jonathan wasn’t a soldier here either.

“But you went to boot camp, right?” Lane nudged him. “All this stuff - you can do that? Shoot people and stuff.”

“I went to basic training, yes.” And Test Pilot School, and Jump School, and Air War College, and -

“Would you recommend military service to someone else?” Tyson asked.

“Only for one lifetime.” Jonathan navigated the level some more, found Tyson, and killed him too.

“Hey Jonathan,” Lane said, after he’d recovered some of his in-game dignity, “have you ever been in love?”

“Yes.”

“What was it like?”

We are all just soldiers in this epic loving flight
And no one that I know has ever really done it right

“It was different every time.”