John Sheppard was eight years old when his mother died. After that, his father started favouring David -- who favoured her in looks and personality -- and ignoring John, who did not.
Being smart didn't help matters. John was bullied at school on a regular basis. It hardened him as much as it hurt him. He became quite adept at fighting. When they moved to California near his ninth birthday, the problems followed him.
When John was ten, a fellow classmate took him aside and told him to meet him outside the school at four. By now, John knew that meant a fight. By now, he wasn't afraid to fight.
At four, John showed up. So did the boy. John put down his books and raised his fists.
The boy smiled. "I'm not here to fight. I'm here to show you a better way."
"You're crazy!" John swung at him and the boy sidestepped. "There's no such thing!"
The boy chuckled. "It's called dinner. C'mon, let's go. I'll introduce you to the family."
John honestly did not want to meet this guy's family. But he was intrigued that he hadn't said "my" family. Curiosity won, so he called and told David that he'd be home later.
"So how do you like California?" the boy asked as they walked.
John shrugged. "Haven't been here long enough to really have an opinion."
The boy nodded. "Military brat?"
"Business orphan," John corrected. "My old man's opening a new branch here and he had to be here to get it going, all personal-like." He frowned as they walked onto the grounds of a mansion. "What in the--?"
"Trust me." The boy walked right up to the door and knocked.
A blond man opened the door and smiled warmly at them. "Cameron! Hello! Who's your friend?"
"This is John, Papa Peter. John Sheppard."
"Ah, this is the boy you've told me so much about! Come in, both of you. Valerie's got cookies and milk waiting."
John frowned. "Cookies and milk? Who does that anymore?"
It didn't take long for John to realise that these six -- four studio musicians called the Monkees and two of their wives -- were absolutely for real.
And slowly, John rediscovered the heart hidden among all that toughness. His own father may no longer have cared, but that no longer mattered.
Because John now had four father figures who loved him dearly.
John was twelve when his father decided to move back east. John didn't want to go. e wanted to stay where he was loved and paid attention to.
It turned into an ugly row that ended when his father backhanded John. Wide-eyed, John picked himself up off the floor and ran, with his father's bellowed "COWARD!" ringing in his ears.
Two hours later, John's father was paid a visit by what he would later describe as two demons. One had glowing blue eyes and the other was just a disembodied voice.
They made it very plain that if he ever laid a hand on John again, they would return and would visit divine retribution upon him.
Message delivered, two of the secretly superpowered Monkees -- telekinetic Peter and invisible Micky -- flew back home to comfort the distraught boy.
After a sleepless night, all four Monkees went with John to try to figure out what possessed John's father to do that.
They found John's possessions piled haphazardly into the empty space that had been the living room. The rest of the house was stripped bare.
John's father and brother were gone.
Peter lay a hand on John's trembling shoulder as the boy stared wide-eyed at the pile. "John?"
John shook his head, his voice coming out in a strangled whisper. "Fine," he gasped. "I-I'm fine."
And that's all he would say for the next 24 hours.
John spent the rest of his growing-up time at the Torks' mansion. He learned about teamwork. He learned about families that loved because of who you were, rather than because you were born into it.
He learned about super-powers and the responsibility that comes with being able to do things most people couldn't. He learned that choosing to do the right thing was rarely easy -- but always the right thing to do.
And from his four unofficial adoptive fathers, he learned how precious life was and how nobody was left behind.
When John graduated from the Air Force Academy, his entire family was there to cheer him on. All the family that mattered -- his birth father and brother never bothered.
After the disaster in Afghanistan, his family didn't turn their backs on him. They were proud that he'd learned their lessons so well. "Even if the 'suits' don't see it that way," Micky had assured him.
And then came that miracle of an assignment. John had a long talk with Mike and Peter the night before he left. He couched the discovery he had a supergene and the possibility of traveling to another galaxy in terms of mutant abilities manifesting and classified assignments.
They all knew it was good-bye.
They all embraced him -- reiterated again to do the right things -- reassured him they were so very proud of him.
When John stepped through the Stargate to Atlantis, he carried with him the unshakeable love of a family of superhero musicians.
When John found out that Rodney could create crystal -- and later, about his own mild telekinesis -- Rodney was flabbergasted by his reaction.
"How can you be so laid-back about this?" he demanded. "Why are you not freaking out, here?"
"I'm used to it," John chuckled.
"Used to it?" Rodney spluttered.
John grinned and patted the cushion beside him. "Pull up some couch, Rodney. I think it's time I told you about my family."
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