Title: The Bridge
Author: Keira Marcos
Big Short Prompt: John Sheppard
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Characters/Relationship: Past Sheppard/OFC
Genre: Gen, Alternate Universe
Word Count: 1993
Warnings: No beta
Author’s Note: I took a page of Jilly’s book and wrote fan fiction of my own work.
Summary: A personal situation on Earth changes John’s life for pretty much ever.
– – – –
Being recalled to Earth for a personal situation was practically foreign to John. The only personal relationships he had were on Atlantis. But O’Neill had been specific, the matter was very personal and required John come back to Earth immediately. In fact, immediately had meant he’d had to do it in a Jumper through the half finished galaxy bridge and because it wasn’t finished—the trip had taken the better part of a day.
Everyone in the SGC was looking at him nervously which was honestly more confusing than the summons home had been. John didn’t get it—it had been a few months since he’d bugged out and everyone assured he looked normal now.
Carter, who had met him in the gate room, escorted him to the big conference room above the gate and he sat where she pointed.
“The General will be here shortly,” Sam promised and started to leave.
“Wait.” John took a deep breath. “Colonel, can you tell me anything?”
She paused then shook her head. “No, the General O’Neill hasn’t told us anything. He returned to Colorado three days ago and ordered General Landry to recall you to Earth.”
A strange agony twisted in his gut. “Has someone reported me for…” He closed his eyes briefly to hide the panic. Had someone outed him? Was he about to be court-martialed for being gay?
A hand settled on one of his, and he opened his eyes. Sam Carter was staring at his face. “No. It’s not much of a secret actually, but we knew before we sent you to Atlantis. Sumner tried to get you thrown off the mission because he assumed you were gay but had no proof. O’Neill ordered him to shut up and never discuss his assumptions with anyone as long as he lived. General Landry has been told the same thing. Jack would never let anyone come at you for it. So whatever is going on—it isn’t about DADT.”
She seemed so certain that John allowed himself to relax. “Okay.”
Carter nodded and released his hand. “I can’t say whatever is about to go down isn’t fucked up, but it’s not that sort of fucked up.”
“Small favors,” John said wryly. She laughed and left him alone.
He waited for nearly an hour which wasn’t a surprise since he’d been told that O’Neill was at his cabin off base when he’d arrived. John was standing near the large window watching SG-1 leave the mountain through the gate when the door opened, and O’Neill entered. He turned and offered the older man a salute. It wasn’t often he did it sincerely, but O’Neill had more than earned his respect over the years.
“At ease, Colonel,” O’Neill said. “Sit.” He pointed toward a chair, and John sat. O’Neill took the chair at the head of the table and stared at him. “I’m going to ask you a question before we get started—and you’d better not fucking lie to me.”
John blinked in surprise. “Yes, sir.”
“Do you have any biological children?”
“No, sir,” John said. “I was married shortly after I left college, but she wasn’t meant to be a career officer’s wife. I spent most of my early twenties in war zones, and relationships were in short supply. Why?”
O’Neill opened the folder he’d brought with him and put a picture down in front of him. “Familiar?”
John pulled the photo to him. “Karen Riley. We had…an affair when I was at Monterrey defending my degree but that was eleven years ago, sir. In fact, to be perfectly frank, she’s the last woman I had a relationship with.” Karen had been his last attempt at playing it straight, and after that had fallen apart, he’d stopped trying.
“This is her son,” Jack said quietly and put another picture on top of Karen’s. “He’s ten years old.”
It was like looking at a picture of himself as a kid. “She.” John exhaled sharply. “I…sir. I didn’t know.”
“No, that’s obvious. Her will stated as much, but I wanted to know for certain that I didn’t some asshole in my command who’d abandon his own kid.”
“She was killed in a car accident two weeks ago. You might not have kept up with her, but she kept up with you as much as she could. I guess she wanted to be able to provide her son with details if he asked about his biological father. A few hours after she died, I received a phone call from her lawyer. My name was the last Dr. Riley had been able to get ahold of regarding your assignments, and she thought that I was your CO. Resourceful lady.”
“Her father was in the Army,” John murmured. “Her godfather is high up in the Marine Corps, but I forget his name.” He focused on the picture of his son. “Do you have my son?”
“He’s in Landry’s office,” Jack admitted. “I went to California and picked him up immediately. I feared, and it’s been confirmed for me that Dr. Riley’s interest in your career caught the wrong kind of attention. The car accident…wasn’t an accident.”
Fury poured into his gut. “Who do you suspect?”
“NID for a start and it goes deeper and probably higher than my own pay grade, to be honest. It always has. Your son…is uniquely gifted genetically and intellectually but then most gene carriers are quite talented in a variety of ways. I’ve had Dr. Lam confirm his ATA gene status and paternity. She destroyed the results as soon as she was finished.”
“They killed his mother to get to him?” John questioned.
“It’s easier to kidnap a kid no one is going to miss,” Jack explained. “They miscalculated.”
“How?” John questioned.
“Her lawyer was in love with her—no relationship there, but the man couldn’t be bought. The moment he received the bribe offer, he reached out to me and told me everything. He hired private security to protect the kid until I got there.”
“His name?” John asked, focusing on the picture.
“John Sebastian,” Jack said and sat back in his chair. “Prefers Sebastian and gives me dirty looks whenever I call him Junior so I’ve been doing it on the regular since we met. He’s a good kid—but grieving.” He pulled some more papers out of the folder. “I need you to sign a few things, chief among them adoption papers. You weren’t listed as his biological father on his birth certificate. This will give you legal rights. I asked him about this, and he told me that he’d prefer to take your name because that’s what his mom wanted but…”
“No, that’s fine,” John said hoarsely. He signed everywhere he should, and after ten minutes, O’Neill gathered up everything but the two pictures and closed the folder. “Sir?”
“We have a few options,” Jack said neutrally. “I know your father is retired and living in Virginia. I can reach out to him and tell him his grandson needs a guardian and that you’re in a combat zone.”
That was the last thing he wanted, and it must have shown on his face.
“I can take him,” Jack said. “But I don’t think the NID’s interest is going to fade. They’re shady as fuck, and they always have been. I don’t know why they are so interested in him—maybe it’s his genetics or maybe they want a leverage against you. I can’t guarantee he’d be safe with your father or me.”
“No, I…want him with me.” John took a deep breath. “I don’t have the personal resources to protect him as a civilian, but I can’t guarantee I won’t be transferred back into a combat posting if I leave the SGC.”
Jack sighed. “Sheppard, the only way you get out of the SGC is retirement or a box. You’re the strongest ATA gene carrier we have, and the scientists on Atlantis have made no bones about their belief that they’d have a hard time controlling the city if you were gone on a long-term basis.”
“What are you saying?” John demanded. “Are you’re telling me I can’t come back to Earth for the kid I didn’t even know I had?”
“I’m telling you that both the President and I would greatly prefer if you took your genetically valuable offspring off the planet, Sheppard,” Jack returned tartly. “Leaving him here is a threat to the security of the program, a threat to your ability to be in command on Atlantis, and honestly a threat to his own life. They’ve already murdered his mother.”
John relaxed a little. “It’s dangerous on Atlantis.”
“He’ll have you on Atlantis which is more than he has here,” Jack said. “And to be honest, he wants his Daddy, Sheppard. You might not have known about him, but Sebastian knows all about you. At least, he knows as much as his mother knew.”
“Okay,” John said.
Roughly a minute later, O’Neill all but shoved him into Landry’s office which was empty except for his son. His son. What the hell was he supposed to do? The boy looked up from the tablet he was reading on and met John’s gaze with bright green eyes. At that moment, John desperately wished Karen Riley was alive—so he could ask her why and probably curse her out. He figured he was due.
Sebastian’s cheeks flushed, and he bit down on his bottom lip. “Hi.”
John pulled the door shut behind him and walked across the room to sit on the sofa with the kid. “Hello.”
Sebastian grinned. “You look really nervous. My mom assured me I was never a biter.” He put the tablet aside. “General O’Neill bought me a whole bunch of eBooks. He said he was going to bill you for the Kindle, too.”
John laughed. “Okay.” He rubbed the back of his neck and took a deep breath.
“I didn’t know you worked at NORAD. Mom said you were a helicopter pilot and we figured since most of your personnel file is redacted that you’re specials ops of some kind.”
John blew out a surprised breath. “You’ve read my jacket?”
“Not all of it, Uncle Randolph made me promise I wouldn’t hack into the Department of Defense on the condition that he would show me the unclassified parts.”
The kid’s utterly serious expression was unnerving. “Randolph,” John murmured. “As in Randolph Rampart.”
“Commandant of the Marine Corps, yes,” Sebastian said. “He’s my mom’s godfather. I don’t have a godfather since she didn’t raise me Catholic though she did try to put me in Catholic school once. It didn’t work out.”
“I just bet,” John said dryly. “And I don’t work at NORAD. Technically, we aren’t in NORAD.”
“Where are we then?” Sebastian asked.
“Stargate…” Sebastian trailed off. “What does that…” His gaze narrowed. “Daddy, do you fly space ships?”
John’s heart gave a little jolt at being called daddy—what an odd sensation. “As a matter of a fact, I do.”
“Can I see one?”
“We need to talk about that,” John admitted.
– – – –
Forty-eight hours after going to Earth, John exited the half finished gate bridge into Pegasus with his son in the co-pilot seat. He swung the jumper around and dialed the gate for Atlantis then sent through his IDC. They were expecting him since he and Carter had sent several messages to Atlantis through the bridge using the communication buoys he’d dropped for McKay on his way through.
“Yeah?” John questioned.
“Do you think Dr. McKay will let me have my own lab?”
The radio signaled, and McKay’s voice filled the Jumper. “John Sebastian Sheppard…Senior! You have a kid? Carter says he’s a genius! Bring him through right now!”
John laughed. “Maybe he’ll let you share with him.”
Sebastian grinned and leaned forward slightly as they headed for the Stargate. “Cool.”
The Big Short is a short-form writing challenge hosted on Rough Trade’s forum, The Workshop. The prompts come in two forms — a word challenge (the theme) and a single character challenge. I post my responses to the prompts on the forum first and eventually they’ll make it to my website. Each is a stand alone piece with no potential for expansion.
These short works are NOT prompts! These are my responses to the forum prompts. No, you cannot use them as prompts. No you cannot continue my short work with a longer work or write a sequel. For fuck’s sake.