When John received the email that told him his father had died, the first thing he thought was a panicked, Peter? Mike?
But as the rest of the email scrolled and he saw the name "Patrick Sheppard", he allowed himself a moment of relief so intense that tears sprang to his eyes and he felt a soothing mental caress from Lantea.
He was not a nice person? she asked.
"No," John whispered. "He abandoned me because I was too different from him."
That is terrible! No child--
"I gained four fathers who loved me. And mothers who cherished me. His rejection turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me."
And now you have us.
"And now I have you and the people here."
His door chimed, and Lantea identified, Rodney. Then she caressed his mind one final time and retreated.
John thought the door open, and Rodney walked in. "Hey, John -- the shield on M7G-677 is having trouble, and I was gonna go check it out."
"M7G-677? Isn't that the kid planet?"
"It is. So I'm gonna--" He stopped and frowned slightly. "Hey -- what's the matter?"
"My father died." Seeing the flash of panic cross Rodney's face, John smiled. "No -- Peter's fine."
Rodney sagged in relief. "Ah, good. When you said your dad, I thought --"
"No. Patrick Sheppard. My biological father."
"Oh. I... I'm sorry."
John shrugged. "Yeah, well -- after what he did, I'm not too broken up. Still, though..."
"He was your father."
John looked at Rodney. "You get it."
He nodded. "My dad was no prince, either -- but he was still my father."
"You do get it." John smiled.
"When do you leave?"
"In an hour."
Rodney nodded. He put a finger on John's wristband, and when he removed it John had a small bracelet of crystal on top of the black.
"Thanks," John said.
"It'll help... let you know you're not in this alone till you need to go."
"Speaking of needing to go?"
Rodney nodded. "Right. I'll just ... uhm...."
"M7G-677. Yeah. See ya, Rodney."
Rodney nodded and walked out of the door.
John stood, watching the Gate dial Earth. His hand felt clammy as he held his bag and his heart felt like a stone in his chest. A stone that gave a little pang when Rodney's crystal bracelet dissolved back to the air it had been made from. His crystal only lasted an hour.
As the Gate finished dialing, John became aware that Ronon was standing by his side. "What?" he asked, looking at the two bags Ronon held. "Where are you going?"
"With you," Ronon said simply.
"As am I," Teyla said as she walked up beside them.
"Teyla," John protested.
She crossed her arms over her expanding stomach. "You were by my side as I mourned Charin. Now it is my turn to stand with you."
He opened his mouth again, and Teyla interrupted, "And I have been cleared for Gate travel."
Satisfied, John closed his mouth and nodded. They turned toward the Gate.
And then, suddenly, they were four. Rodney jogged up, gasping slightly. He, too, carried a bag and wore a backpack. "Oh, good -- I thought I'd be too late!"
John frowned at him. "M7G-677?"
Rodney made a dismissive gesture. "Radek can handle it. Besides, we both know I'd just end up making crystal toys for them."
John looked around. "Thank you... all of you. You didn't have to --"
"Oh, hush," Rodney snapped. "You know we did. We're a team -- and that means we're family."
And as one, the Team -- the family -- stepped through the Gate to bear the burden of one of their own.
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