Pairing: John Sheppard/Aiden Ford (Stargate: Atlantis)
Website: System Of Alive .net
Spoilers: "Rising: Part 1" through "The Eye" and rumors pertaining to upcoming Season 2
Notes: This essay contains pictures (nine).
Sheppard: [staring skeptically at the event horizon of the 'gate] What's it feel like?
Ford: [seriously] It hurts like hell, sir.
[Sheppard looks worried]
[Ford starts to grin at Sheppard and then jumps through the 'gate backwards]
Ford: Woo hoo! [disappears]
--"Rising: Part 1" SG-A 1.01
Sheppard/Ford is commonly referred to as "ShepFord" (also spelled "Shepford"). ShepFord is easier and more fun to say than "Sheppard/Ford". It is hard to quickly squeal "Sheppard/Ford" in excitement. On that note, I'd like to state that I can't think of anything sexier than a Stargate. I'm a girl with the Stargate glyph for Earth tattooed on the back of her neck. I know Stargate. I know slash. And where there's a Stargate you're sure to find slash. Always. It's like cotton candy at a carnival. It's everywhere. So when I started watching Stargate: Atlantis I knew (without a doubt) I'd find a good pairing to become attached to. Not even ten minutes into the first episode I struck a home run.
The Leader: Major John Sheppard
Meet Maj. John Sheppard (USAF pilot), a charismatic and witty individual who accidentally stumbled (more like accidentally sat) into the Atlantis Expedition. Sheppard once defied a direct order and flew behind enemy lines to save two trapped soldiers. As a result of this he was only allowed to fly in Antarctica. Assigned to McMordoch AFB, Sheppard's job was to fly Brig. Gen. Jack O'Neill to the Atlantus Outpost and not touch anything when inside the base. Being the curious rebel that he is-- having no real knowledge of what the station was-- he sat in the outpost's command chair and activated it. Later it is discovered that he possesses a very rare gene that allows him to control Ancient technology on pure instinct. Only about a hand full of the people going to Atlantis have this gene. Eventually after talking with O'Neill, Sheppard volunteers to go through the 'gate. He later becomes the ranking military officer on Atlantis and leader of the flagship reconnaissance team (off-world missions group). Sheppard always tries to act charming and laid back, but when the going gets tough he's a true leader. He enjoys football, ferris wheels, things that go fast, and he's actually a mathematical whiz. He is between the ages of 35 and 40. Sheppard is portrayed by Joe Flanigan.
The 2IC: Lieutenant Aiden Ford
Lt. Aiden Ford (USMC) is a calm and precise soldier with a cute sense of humour that he sometimes allows to peek through his stern demeanor. He has stargate travel experience indicating he was appointed to the SGC a while before he was transferred to the Atlantus Outpost. He volunteered for the Atlantis Expedition and left his family behind when he embarked. Ford becomes the second-in-command of the reconnaissance unit after Sheppard is promoted to leader following the death of Col. Sumner. He takes every situation seriously and can sometimes come off as cold and snippy when he is worried about the people he cares for. Ford was the first one to suggest the name "Atlantica" for the planet Atlantis is on. He's a worthy soldier to have under a command and is a loyal friend. He's 25 years old and apparently enjoys football almost as much as Sheppard. Ford is portrayed by Rainbow Sun Francks.**
The ShepFord Dance
The ShepFord Dance is what I call the courtship period in which they begin to realize their feelings for one another and their bond evolves. While ShepFord is defiantly the underdog of the SGA slash community, the hints of their relationship are anything but subtle. To someone paying attention to the couple the moments shared between the two men are unmistakable. Here are some examples.
Episode 2 (Rising: Part 2): The 'naming' banter begins. This is critical in the ShepFord universe. Ford seems to have affinity for naming things and John likes to pick on him about it. At first it would appear that this was a one-time thing, but it continues up to Episode 5 (Suspicion). Take this quote for example:
Ford: [grinning] Gateship 1, ready to go.And it doesn't end there. While Shep and Ford are scouting out the Wraith base, Shep tells Ford to 'go over there' so he can see what dots are them on the locater device.
Sheppard: Gateship 1? A little puddle jumper like this?
Ford It's a ship, it goes through the 'gate. Gateship 1.
Sheppard: Oh no, no, no, that's all wrong.
Ford: Dr. McKay thought it was cool.
Sheppard: Oh, okay. Well, it's official. You don't get to name anything. [looks at him] Ever. [still staring at Ford, who has looked away] Flight, this is... Puddle Jumper. [looks out window] We're go to launch.
Sheppard: Yeah, that's you.At the end of the episode, Shep and Ford walk to the balcony together and start talking. Shep seems rather down because of Sumner's death. Ford is a little edgy around him because of this, but he tries to cheer him up anyway. "I'm thinking of a little place with an ocean veiw. Out of the way," he says and smiles at Shep.
Ford: [grinning] So, we got ourselves a life signs detector.
Sheppard: [slowly looks over at him] We can name it later.
Episode 3 (Thirty-Eight Minutes): A Wraith-related bug is attached to John's neck and is slowly killing him. The team can't get back to SGA Command because the Puddle Jumper is stuck in the 'gate and Ford is clearly distressed. The bug can't go through the 'gate stuck to Shep's neck, so Aiden tries everything to get it off of him. Eventually Dr. Beckett tells Aiden to stop John's heart with an electric shock from the defibrillator. He thinks that maybe the bug will think Shep is dead and fall off. Sheppard agrees and right before he is shocked, Ford stops and looks at him. They share this defining moment, Ford's expression clearly saying 'I don't want you to die because we might have a real future together'. This lasts about three seconds which is an eternity on TV for just one look. Then Sheppard yells, "Just do it!"-- both physical and emotional pain seeming to overwhelm him-- and Ford 'kills him'. That was the true beginning of the 'ShepFord dance'.
Episode 4 (Hide & Seek): Ford get injured when confronting an energy-based alien entity. Unable to get into a room in time, the black mist zooms over him, giving him something like a 'lightning strike'. Everyone on the comlink hears Ford scream. After he is taken to the infirmary and treated, Shep and Weir run in. Beckett asks if they are in any danger there and Weir states that she doesn't know. "How's Ford?" Shep asks and Beckett explains that it's like he was struck by lightning. "He's going to be okay?" Weir questions. Beckett gives Weir a quick look and then glances at Shep, patting his arm before walking off, "He's a tough kid." They all then walk over to Ford-- who appears to be sleeping on the hospital bed. "Hey", Shep says softly, looking down at Ford. Ford opens his eyes, stares at Shep a moment before pulling the cannula off his face. Ford asks Shep to tell the other soldier he was with that there was nothing he could have done to stop what happened. Shep does this, the soldier says he could have tried to pull Ford out. Ford replies, "Yeah, then we’d both look like this." Weir declares that she thinks Ford doesn't look so bad and Shep says, "Dr. Beckett says you're gonna be back to 'pretty boy' in no time." The exchange was bloody brilliant to a ShepFord fan.
Episode 5 (Suspicion): Continued name banter, we get to see Ford's living quarters, and him in a funny shirt. But most importantly, we get to behold this encounter:
Ford: [runs up to Shep who is walking up the stairs to the P.J. bay] Anyone else call shotgun?Ford remembered that Shep loved turkey sandwiches and took the time to fetch and/or make one. Later, while cruising around the planet-- alone, in the P.J., out of radio contact... ALONE-- Ford states that the planet still doesn't have a name. "I'm sure the Ancients had a name for it", Shep responds. "How about Atlantica; something like that?" Aiden suggests. Shep looks over at Ford and says, "I thought we agreed you weren't going to name anything anymore." Priceless. Later in the episode, Teyla returns through the Stargate dragging an unconscious Ford. Everyone assumes that Teyla hurt Ford when Ford really fell and was knocked out on a rock. Still, Sheppard is openly concerned and unpleasant as he tries to understand what has happened to Ford.
Sheppard: Just gonna drive around the planet, check it out.
Ford: Oh, you're just checking out the planet? Aw, nevermind then, that's cool. I mean, I've got better things to do than cruise around the planet in a spaceship.
Sheppard: [stares at Ford in wonder] You're like a kid, you know that?
Ford: [grins] Yes, sir. I've brought along something to eat on the ride.
Sheppard: What's that?
Ford: How about a nice...[pulls paper bag out from behind his back]... turkey sandwich?
Sheppard: [instantly responds] Let's go.
Now let's skip a couple of episodes (in between episodes do have ShepFord signs, so they‘re worth paying attention to when watched) and go to...
Episode 10 (The Storm) & Episode 11 (The Eye): Ford is very, very antsy in these episodes. To someone not looking for the ShepFordness of it, he seems like a total S.O.B. But to a ShepFord fan he seems upset because the love of his life is in danger. Let's start there. A Genii strike force invaded Atlantis, killed two men, and were holding Weir and McKay hostage. The city is flooding, the shields won't work, and a huge storm is heading their way. The city will be destroyed if McKay doesn't get the shields online. Everyone else had evacuated to another world which Shep and Ford helped the Atlantis Expedition negotiate to stay on. Very, very good scene.
Teyla, Beckett, and Ford are on the mainland evacuating people while Weir, McKay, and Shep are on Atlantis rerouting the power so lightning could travel through the city and power up the shield. The storm hits the mainland and Ford is forced to stay on the ground. Cue Genii attack. Ford hears radio transmissions from Atlantis about the Genii attacking and desperately wants to help. However, Beckett is the only one with the rare gene and isn't a good enough pilot to fly the P.J. in a hurricane. For safety's sake they stay on the ground and Ford is forced to wait. Meanwhile, Sheppard is distracting the Genii, randomly drawing them to him and killing them off. Skip a couple of scenes and here we are in Episode 11. Ford's group make it back to Atlantis in the eye of the storm and run to help John-- which is obviously the only thing on Ford's mind. Kolya (the Genii leader) is furious and annoyed with Shep and would rather see his head on a spike than see him as a hostage. After landing, Ford & Co. leave the P.J. to go find Shep. Ford hands Beckett the life signs detector. "These wee dots don't tell much about who's who. How do we know which one's the Major?" Beckett asks, looking at the locator. "He'll be the dot getting rid of the other dots," Ford replies and they race to the armory to gear up. After getting weapons, Ford is clearly ready for action and just wants to get this entire thing over with. He's not a fun sport to work with when he's worried, but he knows what he's doing and he's being a good soldier. They run around for a while and eventually find Shep. That's when they help him stun some guys and save his bum. Sheppard is visibly glad to see them and Ford is equally as relieved that Shep is alive and well.
Of course, you'd have to see all of these episodes to fully understand the signs but they are clearly there.
The ShepFord & Stargate Syndromes
In my world I don't pick the pairings, the pairings pick me. ShepFord chose me and I just followed blindly from there. Slash is like a drug so when you get hooked on a couple it's hard to get away from it and move on to something else. Hence why I passionately ship ShepFord. Yes, I do read other couples from SGA but they don't appeal to me like ShepFord. Older/younger couples are what make me melt and Sheppard is about ten years older than Ford, much like Jack/Daniel from SG-1, so I was destined to fall for them. As I stated in the beginning of this essay, I have a Stargate tattoo. I'm a hardcore fan with SG taking up about all of my TiVo storage space, a entire shelf on my sister's bookcase, and at least 30% of my hard drive. I'm dying for SGA Season 1 to come out on DVD. I wake up thinking about SG, I go to bed thinking about it, and I've had more than my fair share of SG dreams. I've even married McKay three nights in a row (I don’t know what provoked that) and seen Sheppard/Ford-- well, you get the idea. Thus far, the only cure for either of these obsessions is, well, college. And that really doesn't work either.
ShepFord is still a baby. Stargate Atlantis is a new show so the ShepFord love has barely begun to develop. But given time there is much room to grow and potential to be explored. SGA hasn't even aired all of the first season so there is no telling what will happen. That's a very enthralling yet scary thought. Everything is out of our hands except what we 'read between the lines'. That's where imagination takes over. ShepFord does exist and so does their relationship. Being only a hundred miles apart wasn't enough for them on Earth. They had to travel 840 light years together to discover each other.
The Fandom Guide
Fanfiction is few and far between for ShepFord. It's more of a 'hope and search' type of thing. I'm not kidding, really, it is. Your best bet is scavenge or write your own. That's the sad truth. So far, Wraithbait is the best source I've found for ShepFord. Hopefully as SGA continues, more fics will pop up.
Archives that have ShepFord
Wraithbait: An SGA fanfiction site with an ample amount of fiction and a wonderful links page.
Pegasus Gate: An SGA fanfiction site that is also a Yahoo! group and a LJ community. Great site.
Area 52: One of the largest Stargate fanfiction archieves on the web. Most certianly worth checking out.
Bon Voyage: An SGA archive that has slash. No ShepFord yet but it looks hopeful.
sheppard_ford: A community dedicated to ShepFord.
atlantis_slash: Completely SGA slash. Sometimes you'll get a ShepFord. Those are good days.
pegasus_gate: An LJ community for the archive.
The Shepford Wives: a Yahoo!Group dedicated to ShepFord. This is a wonderful group.
Wraithbait: The Yahoo!Group for the archive.
Pegasus Gate: The Yahoo!Group for the archive.
Scifi.com's SGA site: Drool. Just drool. :)
MGM's SGA site: I don't think they update or check this site much... some things are old/wrong... But you didn't hear that from me.
The Save Aiden Ford Project: Fan-operated campaign to keep Aiden Ford active on SGA.
**Very little is known about Ford, but his future participation on SGA seems to be in danger. His role has been scooted down to a recurring position and this further diminishes the possibility of developing him.