Dog Tags by AndromedaMarine

The chain was cold, cool against her neck. It was hidden inside her shirt, away from prying eyes. Although it had been a little over two years since the accident, she still found comfort in one of the things of his she was allowed. Slowly she walked down the corridor of personnel quarters, making her way to the room that had once bore the pronoun 'theirs.' Now it was just 'hers.' Immediately after she had wanted to give up their room and move into something smaller, but her rounded belly had convinced her otherwise. The child was now spending time annoying his Uncle Rodney with the high-pitched voice she was sure could break some equipment and of which her husband would have been proud.

She stopped outside the door to her quarters, remembering how quickly they opened when he had been around. Now it took a few moments to open, reminding her of the elevator doors at the SGC. Of course, these doors had a little bit more of an excuse, having been standing for so long in the first place. Her earpiece crackled as she stepped through the doors. "Yes?"

"Elizabeth," came Rodney's weary voice, most likely due to watching two year old John Lincoln Sheppard. "John's annoying the hell out of me. Seriously, I have work to do."

Elizabeth smiled. "Don't you always?"

Rodney groaned. "Just come down here, and take him away before I decide to send him to another universe with the equipment I'm trying to work on."

"All right, all right," Elizabeth said, laughing. She knew there was nothing more amazing than the quantum reality machine the Ancients had left behind for Rodney to find, but damn Rodney if he sent her son into an alternate universe. "I'll be there in ten minutes. Try giving him something to play with."

"Fine," the still-weary voice said. "I'll try to keep him away from the QRM. But no promises."

--

Elizabeth Sheppard walked down the hall towards her figurative brother's lab; she fingered the ring her John had given her three years ago. She had refused to rid of it for two years now, still remembering the day John had slipped it onto her finger, his hands trembling with nervousness. She wouldn't rid of it; it would always serve as a reminder of her vocation – and the losses it came with. She knew it would prevent her from having a long and loving marriage to someone alive, but in her mind he never died. He had ascended, after all, which didn't bear the name of death with it.

She reached the lab door and her hand automatically pulled the chain from beneath her shirt. She could wear them here; she could wear them here and not be stared at for it. The tags chinked as they came to rest over her chest. A very small child zoomed out and smacked right into her legs, toppling onto his bottom and smiling up at his mother. "Hello, John," she said, picking up her son. The child's hair looked exactly like his now-ascended father's – black and naturally untidy.

"Hi Mummy!" Little John said, wiggling in Elizabeth's arms. She put him down again and he promptly zoomed back to Rodney, where he bumped into Rodney's legs and fell on the floor again.

Rodney groaned; the sound showing the age his looks didn't. "Elizabeth, please!"

The leader laughed, and walked over to her brother. "Relax, Rodney. The 'Terrible Twos' will pass in a few months."

Rodney slammed the equipment in his hands onto the lab table. Elizabeth jumped in shock, not understanding why her brother was doing such things. "Dammit, Elizabeth. Do you know what happened today? I swear to God that child is going to drive me to my death."

"What happened?" she asked, resting a hand on her brother's shoulder.

The shoulders heaved up with a deep breath. "John called me 'daddy.' I'm not supposed to be 'daddy.' I'm Uncle Rodney, not Daddy. You need to sit him down and tell him that I am not his father. He needs to know that his father is d..." He couldn't finish the sentence. He too was still distraught over Colonel John Sheppard's death. "He needs to know his father is gone."

Elizabeth's face morphed into an expression of pure shock. Her son calling her brother Father saddened her. She now understood the tiredness and pain her brother was feeling. She squeezed his shoulder, took her son, and returned to her quarters.

--

Sixteen Years Later

"Mum, I'm taking Tori and Uncle Daniel to the mainland," Lincoln shouted from the hall into their quarters. Daniel Jackson and Vala Mal Doran had been married eleven years ago and had a child named Tori. Fourteen years ago Daniel and Vala both moved to Atlantis permanently. Lincoln had stopped going by the name John when he realized that all senior staff saw his father when they used that name.

"John, wait." Elizabeth was the only one on Atlantis besides Rodney who called him by his first name. Rodney was allowed because he had been called Father for ten years. The now much older leader of Atlantis caught her son by the arm and pulled him around into a hug. "Be safe."

"I will Mum. Did you want something?" he asked when she stood there, not releasing his arm.

She pulled the chain around her head and stared at them for a few moments. Then she put them around her son's neck. "These were your father's. Colonel Sheppard's." Tears glistened in her eyes. "Eighteen years ago, two months before you were born, your father was wounded in a fight with the Wraith."

Never before hearing this story Lincoln stood, staring at his mother, entranced by chronicle of his father.

"They brought him back but Carson said it was too late. Just before he died he ascended, leaving behind the tags, wristband and choker – all of which you wear now."

Lincoln pulled his mother into a tight hug, amazed to learn all this information about his father's death in a few words.

The only home he had ever known was Atlantis. Lincoln had visited Earth four times. Twice he hadn't been let out of the SGC and the other two times his mother had taken him to Washington D.C. to meet the President and to Antarctica, where his father's and his mother's fates intertwined.

Lincoln lifted and stared at the dog tags. It bore his father's (and his) name, SS number, rank, branch of the military, and religion. "Thank you, Mum."

Elizabeth smiled and laughed, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I've carried those tags for eighteen years and I've worn this ring for nineteen. While the tags are now yours, I'm never letting go of this." She held up her left hand and sunlight from the Atlantean sun glinted off the gold. "When you're flying the Jumper to the mainland be sure and ask Daniel about your father, the black hole, Rodney, and the lemon." She laughed again, this time at the story to which she was referring.

Lincoln kissed his mother on the cheek, smiled, and left to find Daniel and Tori.

--

Lincoln had inherited the gene his father owned. The gene was stronger in Lincoln than it had been in John, purely because of the dormant one in Elizabeth that had mixed with John's. He used his mind and had the Jumper fly itself. Swiveling around in the captain's seat of Jumper One (the Jumper that had been his father's) Lincoln faced Daniel and said, "Mum said to ask you about my father, the black hole, Rodney, and the lemon." He smiled.

Daniel stared at Lincoln for a moment, and then began to laugh. "Oh my God, it's been years since that happened."

"What, Daddy?" Eleven-year-old Tori asked. She too was captivated by the story her father was about to tell.

Daniel laughed again. "About nineteen years ago, I was finally offered the chance to come to Atlantis. It was for a mission designated 'the Pegasus Project' with SG-1, but just the fact that I got to see the Great City made me happy. Vala and I remained on the city while Cameron and Sam took the Daedalus to a black hole, where they would use nukes to activate one of the Ori's supergates."

Lincoln knew very little about the Ori, having never been exposed to them since birth, like he had with the Wraith. Tori knew all about them. After all, her half-sister had been the Orisei. But Lincoln knew enough to get by.

"But when the team was here, right after the briefing your father found Cameron and tossed him a lemon, saying that if Rodney became too much of an annoyance to threaten him with it. John said that he carried one at all times, just to be safe. In fact, during the mission the lemon came in handy as Rodney works better under threat of death. Cam showed him the lemon and he did the calculations needed for activating the supergate."

Lincoln laughed, loving that he could hear Daniel talk about his fathers. Lincoln had always had a father-son relationship with the petty, arrogant, and caring doctor of sciences and to hear that gave him comfort in a way.

"Your father also jokingly threatened to shoot Rodney if he spoke during the briefing," Daniel added, smiling. "The mission was right after your parents' wedding. He loved your mother very much," Daniel said, resting a hand on Lincoln's shoulder.

"I think I remember Mum telling me that you ascended. Is that true?"

Daniel coughed, glancing at his daughter, who smiled. "Twice, actually."

Lincoln's eyes widened. "Really? Did you see my dad?"

The archaeologist grimaced. "I barely remember anything from either stint – the second less than likely coincided with your father's passing, so probably no."

Lincoln's face fell. Daniel tightened his grip on the young man's shoulder.

"Lincoln, I met your father when he brought Jack to Antarctica. He was a good man and let me tell you, you look exactly like him. You are John Lincoln Sheppard, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise." The caring archaeologist sat back and watched the mainland approach on the HUD. Tori smiled at her "big brother," indicating she enjoyed the story about the Pegasus Project as well.

As Lincoln landed Jumper One on the beach of the mainland, he fingered the dog tags that had been his father's. The dog tags that had seen his father's life and death, per se. The dog tags that Lincoln would carry with him the rest of his life. He was John Sheppard. John Lincoln Sheppard was no longer trapped in a world of hurt.