John shuffled slightly on the bed in his sleep, when the door to the bedroom opened with a silent click. Bare feet tapped over the floor and quickly closed the distance to the large bed. It was a testament to how tired John was that he didn't wake until a small body crawled over his legs and his belly.
Suddenly startling awake, John needed a moment to find his bearings, but quickly identified the intruder.
"Jamie? What's wrong buddy? Are you ok?" Reaching out to gently stroke over his son's head, John looked up at the big green eyes above him.
"I can't sleep." The boy tugged at the covers until John lifted them with a smile so Jamie could crawl under them.
Pressing a kiss to the dark spiked up hair, John pulled his son close and chuckled when the boy wriggled a bit until he was in his favourite position sprawled out on his dad's chest, his head tucked safely under his father's chin.
"Why couldn't you sleep?"
"Because poppa didn't sing my song for me. Where is poppa?" The five year old yawned widely, his fingers playing with the fabric of John's shirt.
"Poppa is working. Remember how I explained that he has to go to work at night sometimes?"
"But he always sings to me when I go to bed."
John sighed and pressed another kiss to the boy's head. He had known that something like this was bound to happen, but Carson and he had agreed that it was time for the doctor to rejoin the normal duty roaster again and pull nightshifts as long as John was not flying long distance flights and could be home at night. It took a bit of juggling their schedules but they were used to that by now.
"Well, you are a big boy now, so poppa and I thought you could go to sleep without your song for a couple of nights a week."
"Will he never sing my song again?"
John knew that tears were pooling in his son's eyes and he hugged the small body even closer. "Oh no, Jamie. Poppa will still sing to you, just not every night. But when poppa is working I will be there to put you to bed and tell you a story. You like that, don't you?" John knew that his son liked his stories, but it had been Carson's deep voice singing a Scottish lullaby that had always calmed Jamie.
Carson wasn't Jamie's biological father, but he had been the only one who could get through to the boy when he had joined their family at age 2. John still shuddered when he thought about the circumstances that had brought Jamie to them.
The call had come in the middle of the night. Carson had been curled up to his side and they slept peacefully, both sated after a romantic evening resulting in some mind-blowing sex. Carson had automatically fumbled for the phone, being a doctor he was used to being called to the hospital at ungodly hours. However, he didn't expect to hear the voice of a Detective Evan Lorne of the Los Angeles police department on the other end of the call.
"Excuse me for calling at this hour, but I need to speak with a John Sheppard. I was told this was the correct number."
Worry had already formed a knot in Carson's gut, when he gave the phone to his partner. "John, the police wants to talk to you. A Detective Lorne."
"What?" A hundred horror scenarios were running through John's head at once. Something had happened to his father or his brother; why else would the police call. Taking the phone with a shaking hand, John sat up in bed and took a deep breath. "This is John Sheppard."
"Sorry to wake you, sir. My name is Evan Lorne; I'm a detective with the Los Angeles police department. I need to ask you, if you know a Sora Cowen?"
Cringing at the name, John thought back to his short-lived affair with the young woman. It had been a big mistake and he had ended it after only a months. A couple of months later he had met Carson and never looked back.
"Yes, I know her. Did something happen to her?"
"I'm afraid so. She was found in her apartment, from what it looks like she died of a Heroin overdose."
"I'm really sorry to hear that, detective. But I really don't understand what this has to do with me. I haven't spoken to Sora since we broke up three years ago." John shared a confused look with Carson, who had shuffled closer so he could listen in on the conversation.
"The thing is, sir. There was a small boy at her apartment. Luckily the neighbour heard him crying and called the police when it didn't stop..."
"A small boy?!" John couldn't believe his ears. He remembered Sora being a crazy bitch, but he never had pegged her as a drug addict, let alone a woman who would neglect her child in favour of a trip.
"Yes, sir. The neighbour knew Miss Cowen was a drug addict and had called social services before, but she must have slipped through the system as we couldn't find a record about her. But because of her known history her next door neighbour always had a close eye on the boy and so Miss Emmagen called the police when the boy didn't stop crying for two hours. When the officers arrived at the apartment no one answered their calls so they broke in and found Miss Cowen lying on the couch, already dead. The boy was sitting in his playpen."
"This is really a horrible story Detective Lorne and I feel really sorry for the boy, but I still don't understand why you're telling me this." John shuddered by the thought of a little boy being alone with his dead mother for god knows how long.
"Well, the boy is the reason why I was calling you. We found papers in the apartment, a birth certificate to be specific, which names you as the father of the boy." Lorne relayed the news in a neutral voice like everything else he had reported so far. His time in the force had taught him to be always calm but direct when delivering unpleasant news to relatives. The following silence was to be expected, he knew that Mr. Sheppard would need a moment to digest the information.
"Excuse me?" John blinked repeatedly and looked at Carson with a touch of panic in his features.
"I take it, you don't know about the child?"
"No! How... when... how is this possible?" Gob smacked was an understatement to what John felt like.
"Did you have intercourse with Miss Cowen while you were together?" Still keeping his voice professional, Lorne shifted the phone to his other ear. Sometimes he hated his job.
John was still too surprised than to be offended to be asked such a personal question. "Yes, of course." Rubbing his hand over his face, he felt like crying and laughing at the same time.
"Did you always use protection?"
"Yes!" John exclaimed, but then remembered something. "Except once," he had to admit silently." There had been that one night, when they had had a big fight and both of them had been pretty hammered in the end, stumbling into bed, having furious, angry sex.
"Sir, I need you to come down to the station, so we can run a DNA test to either prove or disprove that you are the father."
Stunned, John stared at Carson for a moment, until his partner nodded at him encouragingly. "Yes, yes of course." Rubbing his hand over his eyes again, something occurred to him. "Where is the boy now? And what will happen to him after we have the test results?"
"For the moment the boy is with social services. As to what happens when we have the test results depends on if you are the father or not." Lorne suppressed a relieved sigh. This conversation could have gone two ways, but he was glad Mr. Sheppard was obviously concerned about the boy and interested in what was happening to him. "If you are not the father, the boy is officially an orphan as Miss Cowen has no living relatives and he will enter the system, meaning he would be going into foster care. If you are the father his future will depend on your decision. Either you give him up for adoption or you claim parental custody and he will be staying with you." Lorne knew this was a heavy decision he was forcing on Sheppard. The man had just learned that he might have a son, but the future life of a young boy was hanging in the balance and from what he knew about the foster system and what he had learned from the background check he had done on Sheppard, the kid would be better off with his father. If Sheppard was the father.
"Alright, I will come down to the station right away. How long will it take to determine if I'm the father?" John was already climbing out of the bed, closely followed by Carson who collected their clothes, from where they were scattered around the room.
"We will be putting a rush on getting the results, so it will take about 18 to 24 hours." Now Lorne knew it had been the correct decision to call Sheppard right away and not wait until morning. The man would've probably given him hell for wasting time. "Thank you for coming down right away. I'm at the Northeast police station, 3353 North San Fernando Road. I will have everything ready by the time you'll be here."
"I'm on my way." Putting the phone down, John looked at Carson apprehensively. "You don't have to come."
Carson smiled at his lover, whose eyes defied his words and were screaming for him to come along. "Don't be daft. Of course, I'll come with you." Handing John his shirt and pants, Carson busied himself with getting dressed. He couldn't pretend to know what John was feeling right now, but he knew if it was him, he would be freaked out. And probably a wee bit excited.
They arrived at the precinct half an hour later and after asking the tired looking officer at the reception for Detective Lorne, they were shown to his table in the surprisingly light and open spaced bullpen that looked nothing like the usually shabby precincts from cop shows on TV.
Sheppard gave the detective a quick once over. Short brown hair, kind grey eyes with a blue touch, a black dress shirt, sleeves rolled up, blue jeans and black boots, a dark blue suit jacket hung over the back of his chair. When the detective stood up to greet them, Sheppard noticed the man was about 3 inches shorter, but his bulky frame more than made up for that. The detective radiated strength and confidence and John's gut told him, he could trust that man implicitly and it was good to have him on their side of the law.
"Mr. Sheppard, thank you for coming so quickly. I'm sorry it has to be under such unfortunate circumstances."
"No offence, but it rarely means anything good when the police call in the middle of the night," John smiled and took the offered hand.
"You're probably right there," Evan smiled back and turned his attention to Carson, who held his hand out, also sporting a smile.
"Carson Beckett, I was the one answering the phone."
"Ah, of course. Thank you for coming as well." Quickly shaking hands, Lorne stepped aside and held his hand out to lead the way. "If you will follow me to our conference room, I will try and answer all your questions as good as I can and Doctor Keller will join us briefly to take a DNA sample from Mr. Sheppard."
"Just tell me something first, detective. How is the boy?"
"He is doing fine considering the circumstances. He was a little bit dehydrated and in need of a decent meal, but other than that he is a healthy young boy. Seems Miss Cowen had at least enough of a mind to provide him regularly with food and something to drink."
John clenched his fists. He already felt protective towards the kid and the fact that they had to be thankful for Sora to remember feeding her child was making him feel like punching something.
The rest of their stay was a quick affair; Doctor Keller's appearance was short and professional and as detective Lorne had told them already what had happened over the phone, there wasn't much open for discussion at the moment. They could only wait for the results of the DNA analysis, and, depending on those, the real decisions would have to be made.
So, it wasn't long before they said their goodbyes to the detective.
"I will call you as soon as the results are in, but I'm afraid it won't be before tomorrow morning. I am really sorry I have to put you through this."
"It's alright, detective. There is a small boy who might be my son. I have to thank you for not waiting until morning to call me. The sooner we have the results back, the sooner that boy's future will be clear one way or the other." Shaking the proffered hand, John nodded at Lorne.
It was only on their way home that Carson kept glancing at John sitting seemingly relaxed in the passenger seat.
"What?" John finally snapped.
"You seem awfully calm."
"Are you kidding me? I'm as freaked out as I've never been before."
"Well, you're bloody good at hiding it."
John snorted. "Seems my time in the Air Force has taught me something else besides flying."
"John, we need to talk about this," Carson pushed, although he knew exactly how his partner reacted to being forced into a corner.
"Don't you think I know that, Carson? Just..." John rubbed a hand over his eyes, suddenly looking bone tired. "Could we wait until we're home?"
"Of course." Putting his hand on John's thigh, Carson was relieved when his partner covered it with his own, accepting the offer of comfort. "Don't worry, we'll figure this one out."
When they reached the house, dawn was already breaking and neither of them felt like going to bed again. They were both tired, but their minds were way too active to find any sort of peace.
Carson went straight into the kitchen to put the kettle on. He needed a strong tea to get him through the next hours and he knew John would be grateful for a cup of coffee. While he prepared their beverages, he listened to the sounds in the house. John hadn't followed him, but had gone to the back of the house where he had set up a small home office. Carson could hear him rummaging through some drawers or file cabinets before silence filled the house. The whistling kettle almost made him jump in surprise before he muttered to himself to not be so stupid.
It took another five minutes before John walked into the kitchen, a small box in his hands, and sat down at the table. Carson could guess what was inside the box, but he waited for John to tell him in his own time. There weren't really any secrets between them, besides maybe about John's time in the military. He would mostly evade questions about where he had been stationed or what kind of missions he had been sent on. But Carson could live with that, it was in the past as John wasn't part of the military anymore. He had received an honourable discharge after being injured during a mission and now it was a part of the pilot's life, he had, if not actually made peace with, at least decided to put it to the back of his mind.
Carson put a cup of steaming coffee down in front of John, earning a thankful smile from his partner, before he slipped on a chair opposite him, cradling his own cup of tea in his hands.
It took another couple of minutes, in which he carefully sipped his tea, while John played with the lid of the small box. When he finally pushed the lid off, Carson put his mug down and peered into the box, trying not to look too curious.
John pulled a photo out and slowly slid it over the table to Carson, who picked it up and looked at it thoughtfully for a moment.
John only nodded, having pulled a golden ring from the box and turned it in fingers. Sighing he wiped some imaginary dust from the golden metal before he began to speak. "We married when we were only 20."
Carson put the picture back down on the table and nodded. "I know. You married her shortly after you'd joined the Air Force. You told me your dad probably thinks marrying Nancy was the best thing you ever did."
John chuckled. "Yeah well, my dad and I almost never have the same opinion about almost anything." Looking up at Carson, he gave his lover an earnest smile. "I've never regretted divorcing Nancy. Especially not after meeting you."
They shared a quiet moment, before John lowered his head again and glanced at the ring still in his hand.
"I've told you we got divorced because she couldn't handle me being in the Air Force and consequently gone for long stretches at a time. Especially because I couldn't tell her what I was doing or even where I was doing it. All those classified missions crap destroyed our relationship to the point she couldn't trust me anymore and would even get paranoid, accusing me of seeing another woman when I was not at home."
"Aye, you told me."
"Well, it was not the only reason I couldn't live with her anymore. See, I always wanted a family. A bunch of kids running around the house and I wanted to be a better dad to them than mine was to me. But Nancy never wanted kids. She was too focused on her career and a child just didn't fit into her plans for the future. It was something we often argued about and each time she rightly threw at my face that I was never at home and she wasn't about to become a stay at home mom. But even after I had been discharged and would have had the time to care for a child, she still didn't want to have kids. That's when I knew I couldn't live my life with her and filed for divorce." John took a deep breath. He wasn't usually one for talking much, but he felt he owed it to Carson to know the whole truth.
"And now you might have a son out there." Carson made the connection and suddenly understood what this must mean for John. He knew without a doubt what John's decision would be if the DNA test confirmed him as the father. Hell, he knew John would fight for custody for that boy even if he weren't the father.
The word was spoken so full of emotion it got straight to Carson's heart.
John looked at his lover, almost pleadingly. "When I met you, I thought I would never have the chance to have a kid of my own. But I happily traded that for having you in my life." He was swallowing hard, fighting to word his feelings. When he saw a tear running down Carson's cheek, he reached over the table, cradling Carson's hand in his own. "When I married you, it was me who thought it was the best thing I've ever done in my life. Hell, I think my father would even agree with me on that judging from the way he welcomed you to the family." John chuckled, remembering the moment when he had introduced Carson to his family. His father had always known about John's bisexual nature, but he had never commented on it one way or the other so John had just assumed his father would go mad and disown him the second he told him he was planning to marry a man. But to his surprise his father had smiled at him the first honest smile he had received in years from his dad and it had thrown him completely. Then, to confuse John even more, his father had pulled him into a tight embrace and had whispered in his ear that he could see how happy John was and that it was all that mattered. After that he had pulled Carson into an awkward embrace as well, patted him a few times hard on the back and said 'welcome to the family, son'.
Carson smiled, remembering his first introduction to the Sheppard clan as well. "Well, it seems it's true after all. If the child brings a doctor home to marry, the parents are always pleased." Chuckling, when John rolled his eyes at that, Carson quickly got serious again. He had a feeling he knew where John was heading with his explanation and he had to erase all those worries from his lover's mind immediately. "Before you go on, let me just set one thing straight." Feeling John's hand tense, he smiled at him comforting. "You won't have to choose between me and the boy. I love kids and would jump at the chance of raising one. So, don't worry, I know you're already planning on taking that boy in and I'm all for it to give that poor child a home where he is loved and cared for." The blinding smile he got in return for his words could have powered half of L.A.
"You're serious about that?"
"I have never been so serious about anything in my life, except maybe when I agreed to marry you."
"I love you." Getting up from his chair, John rounded the table and pulled Carson up into a searing kiss.
The rest of the day went into serious planning and gauging out what their chances of custody were. Luckily, in Elizabeth Weir they had a pretty successful lawyer, who was also a very close friend. She told them that it would probably be very easy going as John was named on the birth certificate, which would make it a slam dunk when the DNA results confirmed John's fatherhood. Even if he wasn't the biological father the law would pretty much see him as the rightful dad as with Sora naming him on the certificate and John not challenging it inside of the first two years of the boys life. It was beside the point that John hadn't known about the kid until 12 hours ago.
Also both men had a good income so they good provide a child with everything that was needed. They were in a secure relationship, lived in a nice neighbourhood and had a big enough house. Elizabeth was sure everything worked in their favour and there would soon run a young Sheppard through the house.
To say they were on edge and excited would be an understatement. Both, Carson and John had taken the day off as well as the next day. Which was pretty easy for John, considering he was running his own small airline and just called one of his pilots in to cover for his scheduled flights. Carson on the other hand had to call in a few favours so his shifts at the hospital would be covered by some of his colleagues. But as he had stepped in several times to help out one of his colleagues or the other, he quickly had found someone to take over for him.
They could hardly restrain themselves from running to the next store to buy every piece of equipment they thought was needed, but Elizabeth calmly reminded them there would be enough time to do that after they knew the results. Even if John was confirmed as the father it would at least take a couple of days for social services to make sure John and Carson were suitable parents and to issue the needed paperwork. And it would even take longer if the DNA results turned out to be negative.
John hated the fact that his boy – he already thought of the little one as his son – had to stay in such a clinical, unloving environment any longer, but there was nothing he could do about that. Then sometime during the morning he suddenly realized he hadn't even asked Detective Lorne what the kid's name was and he felt really bad about that. So bad actually that Carson realized something was off.
"John, what is bothering you?" Fearing John would have second thoughts about them taking the boy in, Carson pulled his partner aside.
Looking at Carson with a pained expression, it took John a moment to admit to his failure. "I haven't even asked what the kid's name is! How can I be a good father to him if I don't even ask for his name?"
Relief washed through Carson when he listened to John and he pulled him into a hug. "No one can blame you for that. I didn't think to ask either. We were pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, learned about the death of someone you knew and that you have a son out there. It was all too much to take in at once; there wasn't really room for clear thought. The important thing was to ask if the little guy was okay and we did ask. And if I can offer my humble opinion, you were way too overwhelmed and freaked out and subconsciously probably wanted to stay detached from the boy so it wouldn't hit you so hard if he isn't your son."
Relaxing into the embrace of his lover, John sighed. "What would I do without you?"
They both agreed this was the longest day and the longest night they ever had. The minutes and hours seemed to be stretched thrice as long and it was only from pure exhaustion and the loss of sleep from the previous night that they fell asleep in the early hours.
When the phone rang the next morning Carson almost tumbled off the bed while John managed a more graceful way to just sit up and grab for the phone with trembling hands.
"Good morning, Mr. Sheppard. This is Detective Lorne and I'm happy to inform you that you have a son."
Trying to process the information, John just sat and looked blindly at the far wall, his mouth opening and closing a couple of times.
Carson stared at his partner, trying to read his expression and failing. Shaking John, he snapped at him impatiently the same time Lorne's voice was coming through the phone again. "John, what is it?"
"Mr. Sheppard, are you still there?"
Shaking himself a little, John's eyes focused again and he managed to stutter, "Yes, yes. I'm here. Are you completely sure about that?"
When Carson saw the smile blossom on John's face he knew that he would soon meet a younger version of the man he loved and he couldn't restrain himself anymore. Jumping forward, he tackled his partner and threw him back on the bed, pressing an enthusiastic kiss to his lips.
Hearing the sounds coming over the phone, Lorne smiled. He had clearly delivered the news both men had been hoping for. These were the times he loved his job. He listened a moment to which was definitely two people kissing before he heard some heavy breathing coupled with a rustling sound until finally Sheppard's voice came out of the phone.
"Uhm, sorry about that, detective. As you might have already gathered we are very happy about this news."
"I take it you will file for custody over the boy, then?"
"Absolutely! I... aahngngn," Sheppard broke up with a stifled moan and a slapping sound came through the phone, immediately followed by a muffled "Stop that!"
Lorne's grin got even wider. He was sure the boy couldn't have done it any better than with these two men.
Sheppard cleared his throat and shot Carson a glare, which told him to keep his fingers away for the moment. "Detective, what I was about to ask and really feel bad for not asking sooner. What is the boy's name?"
"His name is Jamie."
"Jamie..." John let the word roll over his tongue and smiled. "That's a good name. When can I see my son?" He was smiling even wider when he realized what he had just said. His son!
"I could arrange for you to see him this afternoon, if that's alright with you?" Knowing the answer already, Lorne was fumbling through the papers on his desk, searching for the card from the social worker, who had taken Jamie with her.
"Of course! That would be perfect."
So it was later that day, that John and Carson met with Detective Lorne outside of the orphanage Jamie was currently situated.
John's heart was beating hard and fast in his chest and his palms were clammy. He had not felt so nervous since he had asked Carson to marry him. One glance at his partner told him that he was not the only one feeling this way.
Lorne led the way into the building and showed them to a waiting room while he would go and get Jamie.
The next minutes seemed to stretch into an eternity and John was relieved when Carson grabbed his hand and they both used the contact to ground themselves. When the door finally opened they rose as one and watched how a blonde woman followed Lorne into the room; a small boy cradled in her arms.
John felt like he was floating; there, just two yards in front of him, was his son. Completely lost in his thoughts, he actually flinched when Carson's voice echoed through the room.
"Oh my God, John! He looks exactly like you!"
Remembering all that had happened since, John smiled when he glanced down at the small boy cradled in his arms; the boy, who had changed their life after a phone call in the middle of the night. And he wouldn't have it any other way. Pressing a kiss into the messy hair, he smiled even more when he realized Jamie had fallen asleep.
"Sleep tight, buddy." Closing his eyes, John relaxed back and let sleep take him as well.
When Carson quietly tip-toed into their bedroom it was already starting to get light outside and the early morning sunshine fell through the curtain and illuminated the scene in front of him. Neither John nor Jamie had moved from the position they fell asleep in.
Quickly stripping his clothes off, Carson walked over to his side of the bed and lifted the cover a bit so he could crawl under it. He actually managed to snuggle up to John's side before the other man woke up.
"Hey." His voice still rough from sleep, John smiled at his partner when his muddled brain had identified this new intruder.
"Hey." Leaning forward, Carson gave John a kiss before glancing at the still sleeping Jamie. "I see you're sleeping with another man."
Smiling sleepily, John tightened his hold on the small body. "Yeah, I'm afraid you've caught us in the act."
"Good thing, I'm not the jealous type." Carefully stroking over the boys back, Carson sighed. "I take it he didn't like me not being here?"
"Actually he just missed his song," John grinned cheekily.
"No, he was missing his poppa, of course. But he will learn to adjust. Remember, it was the same when I started to do long distance flights again and was gone over night."
"I know." Pressing a kiss to John's lips again, Carson snuggled even closer to his lover, pillowing his head on John's shoulder and throwing an arm around Jamie still sleeping peacefully on his partner's chest. "I guess you will have to share our bed with another man for a couple of nights a week then."
"Yes, it's really a hardship," John chuckled and pulled the arm, which was trapped under Carson, free to wrap it around his husband. This was exactly the place he wanted to be. This was exactly the life he had always wanted.
Content to have his family in his arms, John closed his eyes again with a smile on his face.
Summary: An AU in which John is a pilot, Carson is a doctor and how someone joins their life and changes it forever.