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Title: Mail Call
Pairing: None
Rating: G
Summary: John gets a letter from a woman he's never met.



Now that the Daedalus was making the trip between Earth and Atlantis on a semi-routine basis, mail delivery became an eagerly anticipated event for most members of the Atlantis mission. Even John Sheppard found himself looking forward to the latest installment in the ongoing correspondence he’d developed with an always amusing and occasionally sarcastic general officer. Against his better judgment, he’d come to count on that solitary envelope – while half expecting that this time it wouldn’t be there.

This trip, John was surprised to find himself handed two envelopes. One was addressed in O’Neill’s familiar sprawling hand, the other, thicker envelope was from a Nora McMartin in Virginia. He was pretty sure he didn’t know anyone named Nora from Virginia. Curious, John opened that letter first. It contained a typed page with an address and phone number written at the bottom. It also contained an envelope addressed simply to “Johnny.” Johnny? Even his father had never called him Johnny. Unaccountably nervous, John read the typed page:

Dear Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard,

There is no easy way to say the things I need to tell you, so I’m just going to try and come out and say them. I apologize for composing something this personal on a computer, but after destroying most of a box of stationery trying to figure out what to say, I decided this was the only practical route. You don’t know me, but I’m the practical one in my family. My brother Teddy is the cynic and Kyle, our youngest brother, tends to be the dreamer. My name is Nora, and I have every reason to believe I’m your sister. See if this fits: My mother’s name was Suzanne, her first husband was a Lieutenant Matthew Sheppard, they had a son named John, and she left them when the boy was about four. From what I can find out, that boy was you.

I’m sorry, that was abrupt – but really, there was no easy way to get it out there. This will be kind of abrupt, too. My mother died last year. She was never very strong and her heart finally gave out. She knew it was coming. I took care of her for the last two months, once she couldn’t manage on her own. We’d always been close, but it wasn’t until near the end that she told me about you. We spent days talking about her first marriage and the son she had to leave behind. Finally, she gave me the letter I’ve enclosed and asked me to try and get it to you. She died four days later. I really want to tell you all the things she said about you and her life, but I think she needs to have her say first.

My brothers and I debated sending the letter on. We have no idea what you believe about Mom or how you feel about her. Teddy felt that a letter from your mother after 33 years would only cause harm and disrupt your life. Kyle felt strongly that if he were you, he’d want to know. And me? Well, the bottom line for me was that Mom asked me to do it. That, and as the months of trying to find you dragged on, I found myself curious about you.

Mom was far from perfect. She was flawed and fragile, yet she managed to overcome so much. The one thing I don’t believe she ever overcame was leaving you. She was always just a little sad, even at happy times. I never understood why. I asked my father about it once and he told me to leave it alone, that it had nothing to do with us. Now, I think it must have had to do with you.

Well, there you have it. Read the letter or not – your choice. I’d welcome the chance to meet you, if you’re interested. The boys and their families would, too. (They both come with wives and a total of six children ranging in age from nine to seven months. I come unattached except for them.) We're not a bad family, all things considered. If you’d rather get to know each other by mail, I'm willing to give that a shot, too.




John put Nora’s letter back in its envelope with the unopened letter from her mother. His mother. The mother who died when he was five. He put them in his desk drawer and locked it. He wasn’t ready to deal with it yet, wasn’t sure if he ever would be.

With a sigh, he swung his feet up on his desk and opened the letter from Jack O’Neill.
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