Twenty things about Dave that John doesn't know
Mom has been traveling back and forth from the hospital for chemo for three weeks. Martha says she's been sick much longer, but David's head can barely grasp the twenty-one days since they told him.
He knocks on the door to Dad's office, intent on convincing his father to let him drive her to her upcoming appointment, when he hears a muffled noise from inside and --
1) When he was seventeen, he almost walked out the door.
"David," Dad says, and David looks up at him, sees his father's stern face, frowning. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
There are lots of things David could say, and technically he knows what would be the right thing to do, but the thing is - the thing is, he can see it, can see just what would happen to himself, to Dad, to the company without him. So he keeps his gaze steady, voice entirely calm and more convincing than John had ever been able to make it, and says, "No, Sir."
2) During his first internship under Dad's watchful eyes, he got three assistants fired by not owning up to losing three pieces of mail.
His knees are starting to hurt, and the two hundred dollar jeans he's wearing is much too thin to keep off the cold. It's getting dark outside, leaving two long, long candles to cast unthinkable shadows. Every bone in his undertrained ivy league body longs to get off of the stone floor, but he can't, not until he can be sure --
3) Once, he hid out all night in a church, praying that the girl he'd had drunk sex with the previous weekend hadn't gotten pregnant.
“Poor boy, having to deal with that man, all alone. I hear there's a brother somewhere, but him I've never seen. It must be such a burden.”
“I completely agree, my dear. Really, it's not a wonder he never has the time for proper dancing lessons.”
“Maybe he gets it from his mother. I hear she never could keep her feet off anyone's toes either.”
4) He knows every step to every social dance there is perfectly, and has never stepped on anyone's feet when it wasn't deliberate.
It's out of the question for him to hop on over home with the tests starting on Monday,but David knows better than to even try to study for exams on this particular day. Instead, he sits cross-leggedly on his bed for hours, stares hard at the wall beside the photograph. He sips the green tea concoction his next door neighbor foistered on him and tries to think of anything at all to say for when he makes the phone call.
5) One of the reasons he began agreeing with Dad all the time was because he'd started forgetting more and more details about Mom.
He watches the flight attendant's slumped shoulders as she walks away, still holding the untouched tiny pill bottle. Everything in him longs for a good shot of whiskey, but he can't afford that any more than he can the pills; nothing good ever comes of taking pills. Eyes closed, he takes a deep breath and wills himself to go over the upcoming proposal one more time.
6) He has his own jet now, but he still prefers to drive by car or train. No matter how many times he gets up in the air, he never can shake the fear the plane will crash.
Tonight, tonight there's a football game on and he should definitely try something lighter. Budweiser, maybe, perhaps this is a Budweiser day. A large man is already standing in front of the beer section, has already made his choice, turns toward David with two sixpacks in each hand.
“Good beer,” the man says jovially and David nods tightly, making sure to select a brand as opposite as possible to the one the man was having.
7) When John left for Afghanistan for his second tour, David happened to pass football guy in his usual store and just barely managed not to punch him.
“Well, I think that wraps it up nicely,” the old man says, getting up and moving around a desk that dwarfs even Patrick Sheppard's to shake David's hand. “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
David drives home, head swimming with the insanely huge amount of money he's just earned, and grabs for the bottle of scotch before he can kick himself.
8) He once made a business deal with the brother of one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He spent entire fifteen seconds debating if he should try talking to him about Don't Ask, Don't Tell instead.
”Yes, Dad, it's me. ...Seriously? ....I'll have to look into that when I come back. ...They paid at least two thousand dollars a night to put me up here, I tell you, they're interested. ...What? ...That's not true, we can just put them in the summer house if it comes to that. ...That's what I was trying to accomplish by making this trip. ...No, actually, I think we can use that to our advantage...”
9) After John left, David almost managed to go two whole days without speaking to Dad.
David blearily opens the drawer and barely spares a look at what's inside – gray, gray, gray and another shade of gray. Then he pauses, takes a step over to the desk where his calendar is displayed, and grins. He slams the first drawer shut and opens a slimmer one beneath it.
The bright blue one it is.
10) He only wears gray underwear, except on days when he expects to fire someone.
There's nothing he can do. He signs the check, puts it on the desk for his secretary to find, then drives home to get drunk. He manages to drink an entire bottle of scotch before he feels he's about to throw up. The empty bottle crashes into the wall David throws it against, splinters into seven large and hundreds of smaller pieces.
11) There was a point five months before Dad's death where David had to supply the business with money taken from the inheritance Dad had intended for John.
He turns off the radio as he goes brushing his teeth, shuffles down the stairs to make sure the front door is locked. There are no new messages on his blackberry, and the house is silent as he climbs into bed and starts reading an article from the newspaper he'd had to put aside all day.
12) Sometimes, he thinks about what might have happened had his prayer not been answered.
The crew never comment on the way his teeth are clenched whenever he boards, on the whiteness of his face whenever he exits. David has picked them himself, scrutinized every flight they've ever been on before, let Dad's most trusted air chauffeur explain the meanings behind every qualification they had.
13) Sometimes he thinks that if it were John in the pilot's seat, he wouldn't be afraid.
”Mr Sheppard, I had hoped that we were entering into a good working relationship,” Stephen Clark says, and David hums, shifts his gaze to a nondescript point on the man's desk. Clark's face falls, but he has heard the stories about the employees who were let go without any kind of settlement, and doesn't try to deny his mistakes.
14) He gets a strange satisfaction from firing people. It's a thing.
”You walk past me and lock the door to your office, and I'm sure you forgot the appointment I reminded you of not one hour ago. What do I do?”
They have had this interview six times already, and it shows. Each previous time, David had opted to hire someone younger and prettier than her, but not only can Marietta Donovan remember his questions, he can actually remember her answers. Her smile stays with him for the rest of the day after he hires her.
15) He has never flirted with, never made out with, and certainly never slept with one of his secretaries. The memory of Dad's guilt kills the temptation every single time.
“Another drink?” the woman says, and David resists the urge to look at his watch, makes himself smile and accept. The bar is not too crowded, and the smoke-tinted air is still tolerable.
When he sneaks out of her room later that night, he feels like shit, but he can't face her over breakfast, he just can't.
16) Every woman he looks at twice these days seems to resemble Nancy.
“Ma'am, I'm sure you've got the wrong number,” David says, exasperated, to the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Oh, but I don't think so, David Sheppard. I mean, I'm a housewife and you're not, I've got a six-year-old daughter and you don't, and I'm happily married and, if you excuse my saying so, you're not, but – you know what? Forget I said that. Let's talk about brothers.”
17) It took him four meetings to make the connection between Rodney McKay and the Canadian woman who randomly had started calling him up every Canadian and American holiday.
"Sir, may I ask you a question?" the young new intern asks, and the boy has actually kept on the right side of adept for the last two days, so David is inclined to be generous.
"What exactly do we gain from establishing relations with Future Cambodia?"
"That is an excellent question. Sit.” David says, pointing to a chair next to his own. The intern looks a mixture of 'terrified' and 'delighted' as he takes the seat, and the intensity of his attentativeness is gratifying as David starts to explain the abundance of profitable happenings his company is going to earn from this.
18) He's trying to fulfill Dad's not-so secret ambition to make contracts with companies from countries John's been to war in.
"No seriously, what's your secret?" the girl says, running a finger over, in her words, his "honest, hard-working muscles".
David shifts a bit into her, thinking that he might stay a little bit longer than usual if she continues to talk like this. "I muck out stables." The girl laughs. “No really - I've got horses, they shit in their stables, I muck them out." Whether or not she believes him becomes irrelevant as the huffs of her laughter move down and down and down.
19) He kept the horses in the hope that maybe John would come back for them.
“Goodbye, Dr McKay, it was nice to meet you. Have a safe journey to – wherever it is you're going. To that classified place of yours.” David curses himself for babbling like an intern just out of school, but thankfully, Dr McKay isn't paying attention and John is already at the car, too far away to be listening.
Only when there's nothing left to see does he shut the door behind them.
20) There are emergency kits stashed beside the citrus free soap in every bathroom. All three of them hold epi-pens.
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