Some Things Never Change
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis. I don't own the characters of the Atlantis universe. Blah, blah, blah. You get the drift.
Author's Notes: Again, a big thanks to all those who reviewed! For all you Shep fans, here's your dose!
"So, you and Rosetta, huh?" asked Sheppard as he led his son, Joseph, to his quarters.
"Yeah," said Joseph as he walked in step with a younger version of his father.
"Huh. I never thought that my son would be getting married to McKay's daughter…or the fact that McKay even had a daughter," said John as he continued to walk down the corridor.
"Guess life's just full of surprises," said Joseph with a wry smile.
"So…how many kids?" asked Sheppard.
"What?" asked Joseph as he stopped to look at his hip and cool father. He had always wondered what his father was like when he was younger, and to be honest, he hadn't really changed much. Maybe he was slightly more bitter when he was older, but that was understandable after what happened. Other than that, his father was pretty much the same, and Joseph loved the fact that he could treat both the past and future versions of his father the same. He knew that the others weren't as lucky as he was.
"How many kids?"
"Oh," said Joseph as he continued walking along, "you and Mom had four sons. I'm the fourth. There's your first son, John Sheppard Jr. He's like you. Fighter pilot and stuff. He was supposed to be the chief military officer, but he declined it."
"Ah," said John as he nodded his head in understanding. He twirled his hand in a circling motion.
"There's Daniel Sheppard, who's the head diplomat of Atlantis. Mom's still the leader, so Daniel's just helping her out and stuff. Learning the ropes. Then, there's Chase Sheppard, who's one of the doctors at the infirmary."
"A doctor?" asked John as he stared at Joseph questioningly.
"Yeah. He was pretty close to Uncle Carson, so he decided to follow Carson's footsteps."
"Ah," nodded John, "Carson's a good man."
"Yeah, he is," said Joseph.
"And how did you…uh…?"
"Get engaged to Uncle Rodney's daughter?" asked Joseph with a smile. He knew that that fact bothered his dad.
"Yeah," said John with a wince.
"Nearly wasn't going to. I was going to marry Zelenka's daughter, Harriet, but things didn't work out for both of us. We're still good friends, just not…you know."
"Uh, huh," said John. Joseph noticed the bewildered look on John's face, and he smiled, knowing exactly what was going through his father's mind.
"I know what you're thinking, but Rosetta's pretty different from her father."
Joseph felt his throat close up on him. It'd been since he'd had to think about it, and before he could stop himself, he'd said the words that were on his mind.
"Guess it had to do with his death."
"What?!" exclaimed John as he turned to Joseph. He looked to see if his son was playing a trick on him, but the painful look in his eyes told him it was anything but. Joseph quickly masked the pain, though, and looked away from his father.
"Yeah. It was tough on all of us. Even Uncle Ronon had a hard time adjusting after that."
Silence stretched between the two as the future Sheppard recalled painful memories, and the elder Sheppard absorbed this new piece of info. They continued to walk towards Joseph's quarters and stopped in front of it.
"Well," said John as they stood in front of Joseph's temporary quarters, "welcome back home."
John was about to turn around when his son called out.
John turned to see his son looking at him with steely eyes. There was no ill will behind them, just a sense of determination…and understanding.
"Don't blame yourself for something that hasn't happened yet. The future you did all that you could to save him."
John looked back at Joseph with the same, steely eyes.
"You did the same. Don't be so hard on yourself either."
Joseph's eyes turned into wide emerald orbs of surprise.
"Hey, talking to a Mensa genius here. I catch on fast."
Joseph smirked back. John's smile faded a little at seeing his son's bitter expression, and he turned to face his son in full seriousness. He clasped a hand on his son's shoulder and squeezed tightly.
"Whatever happened out there, Joseph, I'm pretty sure that you did what you could. Don't take it so hard. I know it's a Sheppard thing."
John was happy to see Joseph chuckle a little at that. He didn't know whether Joseph's brothers felt the same guilt, but John knew that Joseph had taken Rodney's death hard. John felt the same when it came to all of his friends; he felt responsible for their welfare; from what he could tell, Joseph believed and felt the same. Realizing what Rodney's death meant to Joseph, John clasped his hand tighter on Joseph's shoulder.
"But there are things that you can't control. You have to know that no matter what, you did your best, and that's all that anyone can ask of you."
Joseph nodded solemnly, and John returned the gesture with a nod of his own. He let go of Joseph's shoulder and turned to leave.
"Dinner's at 7."
"I know," said Joseph.
Joseph saw his father give another quick, understanding nod and leave. For a second, Joseph stood there, taking in his father's words of wisdom. With a mental smile, Joseph turned and walked into his quarters, realizing that it was good to know that some things never changed.