These hands don’t have the strength the others did. They almost don’t feel like his hands, because he had adapted. Adapted too well, physically, even if not mentally. When the changes grew to be so obvious, the scaled blue skin, it wasn’t so easy to just be freaked out over the incredible high he felt. He looked at himself in the mirror, and felt like he didn’t want to be seen. He felt the changes inside his body, the smoothness to his motions, the way his muscles felt stretched and wrapped around him.
But he never once stumbled.
It was easy. Easy to choke Elizabeth, to run out in the corridor, and give up his mind to what was coming easily, the only thing that was coming easily. Because the human part of him shrieking inside was too hard to deal with and the drug keeping him lucid was wearing off, and … it was easy.
He rather thinks that Heightmeyer would tell him not to feel guilty over his actions; the SGC is very familiar with ‘alien influences’. Mutating into a bug is considered ‘extenuating circumstances’ like nothing else, he’s sure.
But it’s unsettling how he almost misses it. Or misses it, but doesn’t at the same time; that’s a contradiction, but it makes more sense to him than ‘almost’. He told Elizabeth about being on codeine for a week, but he didn’t tell her that afterwards, and years after that recovering from various injuries, he understood how addicts became addicts. He never felt a truly strong desire to give into the impulse for ‘more’, to regain what he couldn’t make himself feel – no worry, no fear, no pain. The absence of those things, they are a feeling, but not one human beings are meant to reach, he thinks. But moreover the rational part of him always overcame that immediate emotional reaction.
When he was running through the halls, not even sure where he was going, there was just that feeling of exhilaration. Just. It didn’t overwhelm; it was all there was, all he cared to feel. He remembers going to the transporter, being lucid enough for that and aware he was lucid enough for that with a vague kind of bemused curiosity.
He was still lucid enough.
It wasn’t supposed to have been easy, breaking to the change.
He curls up in bed, stroking the back of one hand with the other. The light no longer bothers his eyes, but he stays in the dark anyway, remembering, and bringing back this for himself. His hands are human now, the skin soft and warm, calluses hard and unfeeling, but that’s normal, too. There’s not the strange, joined hypersensitivity and lack of pain, like during the mutation.
These are his hands. Rough and warm, vulnerable too, but that’s all right. He can feel the prickle of hair, not the rough edges of scales. He sighs, a relieved sigh. This is him, just him. His hands move along the tendons of his neck, not even twitching over the scar there, to his jaw, up his cheekbone, and he remembers his eyes are human again.
He opens his eyes to the darkness, and it’s a relief he can hardly see anything at all.
He runs his hands down his arms, skipping one spot; he remembers the mutation had spread far, going up from his forearm to his shoulder and chest, but there’s nothing but skin and hair there now, familiar and comforting scars. His body marked by John Sheppard, screw-ups and all. He sits up, feels along his back, down to his hips and thighs. Calves, feet. Fully cured, Beckett had said, relief in his eyes and some of the guilt there fading, too.
John feels nothing but skin. It feels like a reclamation.
He lies back down, pulls the sheet over himself.
He’ll apologize to Elizabeth tomorrow, he decides.