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Sep. 16th, 2008 @ 03:02 pm Token of Appreciation by wildcat88 (5.06 The Shrine)
McKay and Sheppard
Title: Token of Appreciation
Author: wildcat88
Rating: G
Pairings: None
Word Count: ~2300
Warnings: None
Spoilers: None
Author's Notes: Thanks to jadesfire who wondered where Sheppard got that shirt and to kristen999 for the  lightening fast beta. All faults mine.
Summary: A package for Sheppard holds a small token of appreciation and memories of the past.

“You know, if you’re trying to hide from Caldwell, you’re not doing a very good job.” McKay lounged in Sheppard’s doorway, leaning against the doorjamb and holding a large brown paper package in his arms.
John pulled out an earbud and set War and Peace to the side. “Who said I was hiding?”
McKay sauntered in and tossed the package to him. “Mail call.”
The package was lighter and squishier than John had expected. The return address showed as World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC, and the wrapping had been resealed at least twice. Just had to love Air Force and SGC security.
“Thanks,” John said, laying the parcel on his nightstand.
“Aren’t you going to open it?” McKay asked.
John grinned, knowing curiosity was eating Rodney alive. “Nope.”
“Aw, come on. The only mail you ever get is three month old magazines.”
“Unlike you who gets, no, wait, let me think…. Oh yeah. Physics R Us.”
McKay sniffed disdainfully. “I’ll have you know that I received a letter from my sister and cookies from my genius niece today.”
“Cookies?” John did his best to look pitiful.
“Yep. Oatmeal raisin.”
“Those are my favorites.”
Rodney picked up a comic book and flipped through it casually. “You don’t say.”
“Okay. Fine.”
John tore the package open. An envelope – opened and closed numerous times – fell out along with a black t-shirt which he unfolded and held up. “Satisfied?”
McKay’s mouth twitched. “Is that a panda bear? Someone sent you a panda shirt?” Rodney’s shoulders shook for a second then he finally gave up all pretense and howled with laughter until he sagged against the pillar, arms wrapped around his middle. “Do you plan on wearing it off-world?”
“Do you remember M2R-936? The monks who thought you’d stolen their sacred relic?”
“It was a music box.”
“And made you strip to prove you didn’t take it?”
“Completely unreasonable people.”
John smirked at him. “A man who wears Batman boxers and a ‘Physicists Do It With a Big Bang’ t-shirt off-world should not be questioning the apparel of others.”
McKay’s glare slowly melted into a grin. “At least I had on underwear. Ronon-”
“Talking about me?” Ronon strode into the room, munching on a mouth-watering oatmeal raisin cookie.
“You stole my cookies!”
Ronon looked amused as he stuffed the rest of it in his mouth. “You left the tin in the control room.”
“Oh, no,” McKay groaned, heading for the door. “Chuck will be selling them if I don’t hurry.”
“Too late,” Ronon called after him then chuckled as he turned to John. “You want one?”
“You bought two off Chuck?”
Ronon smiled, handing over a cookie. “Bought?”
“Right. What was I thinking?”
“Wanna watch McKay explode all over the control room?”
John took a small bite of the cookie, savoring every crumb. “Nah. Been there, done that. You have fun though.”
“We on for sparring later?”
“Yeah. See you then.”
When Ronon’s footsteps had faded, John opened the envelope.
Dear Colonel Sheppard:
Thank you for your generous contribution of $1,000,000 to the Caroline Sheppard Memorial Fund. Your donation allows the World Wildlife Fund to research and rescue endangered animals and habitats. While small, please accept this token of our appreciation as a reminder of the good work that will be done in your mother’s name. It was a pleasure to speak with you in person after all these years. 
If you need anything or have any questions, please do not hesitate to call. Thank you once again.
C. H. Pemberly
Chief Financial Officer
World Wildlife Fund
John folded the letter, stuffed it in the envelope, and tucked it in a box for his CPA. He tossed the shirt in a corner, intending to put it in the refugee donation box that Cadman had started and Mehra was currently in charge of. Then he picked the shirt up again, smoothing out the wrinkles and tracing the outline of the bear’s face as the memories surfaced.
“That’s all we need from you, Major.”
John grinned wryly at the airman. “That’s all? I feel like I’m donating a kidney based on the amount of paperwork.”
The young man nodded in sympathy. “I understand, Sir. But we won’t exactly be able to reach you if something comes up.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Do you have any questions for me, Sir?”
“Just one. Is there a way I can have a charitable donation withheld from my paycheck? I’ve been writing a check every year, but like you say, the local post office will be slightly inaccessible.”
The airman glanced around cautiously then leaned forward. “We can, but you might not be… happy with the results. Sometimes the paperwork for that kind of thing takes months to get processed. My suggestion would be to have the organization draft your account.”
“Gotcha. Thanks.”
John slowly wound his way through the SGC until he found an empty lab. He googled the Fund’s website, looked up the contact information, and placed a call. Thirty minutes later, his annual donation of ten thousand dollars was set to be debited from his account every year on the fifteenth of April, his mother’s birthday.
John shuffled through Dave’s records, hoping his brother hadn’t taken Jesse’s Girl back to Harvard with him. Success! He pulled it and was heading back to his room when the doorbell chimed. Heaving a sigh, he tossed the record on his bed and stomped down the stairs. Dad was still at work, and the cook and housekeeper had left hours ago. John flung the front door open, knowing Jeffrey wouldn’t let anyone through the gate who didn’t belong.
“Hi, Mr. Franks.”
“Good evening, John.”
“My dad’s not home.”
“I’m here to see you.”
“Me? Why?”
“Your eighteenth birthday is next month.” When John didn’t reply, Franks prompted, “The inheritance your mother left you.”
“Oh, of course, sorry. Come on in.” John stepped back and allowed the family lawyer to enter. “Um, wanna sit in the kitchen? I hate Dad’s office, and the living room’s kinda stuffy.”
“The kitchen is fine.”
John led the way through the huge empty house and flipped on the lights in the kitchen. “Want something to drink?” he asked as he grabbed a can of Coke.
“No, thank you.” The lawyer opened his briefcase and withdrew a stack of papers. “Do you remember the provisions of your mother’s will?”
“Not really.” John slid into a chair and propped his elbows on the table. “I know she left some money because Dave got his a couple of years ago.”
John’s eyes glazed over as Franks began to read through the documents. He slumped in his chair, still trying to figure out how he was going to avoid Harvard. Stanford was his choice. Great school. Didn’t hurt that it was in California. He could already see himself catching waves on the weekends.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Franks. Would you repeat that?”
“I said your mother left you two million dollars.”
“Two million. Dollars.”
“That’s right. Your annual allowance will be fifty thousand dollars until you reach the age of forty. The balance plus accrued interest will be yours to do with as you please.”
John blinked at him, struggling to wrap his mind around the idea that he was finally free. No more towing the party line, following his father’s commands. Free.
“Are you alright, son?”
“Yes, sir. Sorry. I- I just… Fifty thousand dollars a year?”
The older man chuckled. “Any idea of how you’d like to proceed?”
By the time his birthday arrived, John had moved in with Joey Wickham’s family after his father had kicked him out, signed up for flying lessons, enrolled at Stanford, and set up a memorial fund in his mother’s name at her favorite charity. John bought a cupcake and stuck a candle in it, lighting it and blowing it out alone, feeling foolish but making a wish anyway. Who knew? Maybe wishes did come true. Maybe one day he’d find a place he could call home. Maybe.
John rummaged through his closet until he found The Suit. He hated dressing up – the collar made his neck itch and the tie choked him – but his mother had always smiled in delight and kissed his cheek when he put it on. “You look so handsome, Johnny,” she’d said. His eight year-old fingers couldn’t fasten the tie right, but he did his best. He picked up his change jar, holding it carefully with both hands, and cautiously made his way downstairs to his dad’s office.
“I’m ready to go, Daddy.”
His glanced at him over the top of the newspaper. “Go where, boy?”
“It’s Mommy’s birthday. We always work to save the pandas on Mommy’s birthday.”
Patrick laid the newspaper on the desk and rubbed his forehead before leaning forward. “Now, I’ve explained this to you, John. Your mother is dead. She isn’t coming back.”
John swallowed the tears burning his throat. “I know that.”
“She isn’t here to save the pandas anymore.”
His chin jutted out. “But I want to. I’ve got my own money.” He brandished the jar. “See.”
“You’ve got to be more responsible with your money, Son. You can’t give it to every pathetic cause out there.”
John frowned at him. He didn’t exactly understand what his dad was saying, but he felt the insult anyway. “I want to help save the pandas like Mommy did.”
“I said no.”
“But Daddy-”
“Drop it, John. Go… play.”
John held the tears in, refusing to cry in front of his father. When he reached the kitchen the housekeeper, Agnes, held him close, rubbing his back until he had cried all the tears he had left.
“What’s wrong, sugar?”
“D-d-daddy won’t let me save the pandas. Mommy said it was important, that we had to care about the things around us, but he thinks it’s pa- pa- pa… stupid.”
“Maybe he’ll change his mind.”
“But I have to go today. It’s Mommy’s birthday.”
“Honey, it’s Sunday. The office will be closed.”
Crestfallen, John’s bottom lip began to tremble. “But I wanted to save the pandas like Mommy.”
Agnes sat in a chair and lifted him onto her lap. He curled into her, wrapping his arms around her neck. “I’ll have a talk with Bernie,” she said. “Maybe when he picks you up from school tomorrow, he can drive you to the Fund office.”
“It won’t be her birthday.”
“Well, your mother was so special she deserved to have a double birthday. We’ll celebrate today and tomorrow. How does that sound?”
“Do I have to wear my suit again tomorrow?”
She smiled and ruffled his hair. “I think once is enough.”
The next day he solemnly handed his jar of change to the lady at the counter. She counted it carefully in front of him and thanked him with a big smile, saying how clever he was for saving over one hundred dollars for the pandas. Bernie bought him an ice cream cone, and they were home long before his father was. Dave merely grunted when he saw the empty jar, but when John crawled into bed that night, he found a handful of coins on his pillow.
“Where going, Mommy?” John asked.
“It’s time to save the pandas, baby.” Caroline clipped on her earring and smoothed her hair from her face.
“What’s a panna?”
“Panda,” she repeated, emphasizing the d. “A panda is like a giant teddy bear.”
“Can I have one?”
“No, sweetheart. The pandas, well, there aren’t very many of them anymore. I help this group that cares about animals, and right now we are trying to help pandas. If we don’t, they’ll all die.”
She cupped his face in her hands, stroking his cheek with her thumb. “Because sometimes people forget to take care of what they are responsible for.”
“We’re reponbisle for the pan- bears?”
“Responsible. For the bears and the deer and the birds and the trees and everything you see around you.”
“I have to take care of everything?”
Caroline laughed. “Not by yourself, but you do have to take care of what you can. You must be a good steward of what you’ve been given.”
“Never mind.” She picked him up. “Gracious, you are getting so big. Are you sure you’re only three?”
“I’ll be four soon, and I have to act like it. That’s what Daddy says.”
“I bet,” Caroline muttered. “Would you like to go with me to save the pandas?”
Bernie knew exactly where to go, and John stared wide-eyed at the tall buildings. He held his mother’s hand tightly as they went inside one and rode an elevator.
“Does Daddy’s office look like this?” he asked.
“A little. Daddy’s offices are… bigger, gaudier.”
The people were very nice, shaking hands with both of them and offering him candy. One man gave him a big black and white bear which Mommy said was a panda, and a lady gave him a book with pictures and lots of words.
When they got in the car to go home, Caroline asked, “What did you think?”
He hugged his bear close. “I like them.”
“That’s a toy, John. Pandas are real bears.” She flipped the pages in the book until she found pictures. “See. They live in the forest and eat bamboo and have families.”
“And we have to take care of them.”
Caroline hugged him close. “That’s right. We have to protect what’s important no matter what the cost.”
John snuggled against her. Protect what’s important. He could do that.
John smiled sadly as he folded the shirt carefully and set it on his table. Deciding the fireworks in the control room might need mediating, he stuffed his feet in his boots and slid his comm on his ear. He started for the door then stopped. Pulling off his plain black shirt, he tugged on the panda shirt and headed out, intent on rescuing at least one oatmeal raisin cookie.

The end.

A/N: In case you were wondering, this shirt...

...belongs to Joe Flanigan

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Date:September 16th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
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That was a lovely look at John.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!
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Date:September 16th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
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A very nice story about John; and I knew I'd seen that T-shirt somewhere before :)
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Glad you liked it.
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Date:September 16th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
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That was wonderful. I cried when he was so upset because he couldn't take his money to help the pandas. Great job!!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
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*hands tissue* Thanks so much. I'm happy you liked it.
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Date:September 16th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
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lovely fic, wildcat-mate! :) a really interesting and clever look at Earth!John as well. bravo! :) ~your pal, Sharma
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, hon! So glad you liked it.
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Date:September 16th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)


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I can totally see John's character donating a million dollars. Sheppard always seemed to dislike his wealthy roots. What a nice fic!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Awww...

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Thank you! I think John would find it fitting to give the inheritance his mother left him to a cause that needed it.
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Date:September 16th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
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I've noticed the bulk of John Sheppard's civilian wardrobe belongs to Joe. *snickers* The wardrobe rules are obviously much looser up in Vancouver.

Lovely fic! Very sweet. :D Thanks for sharing!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
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I would say so, because in Conversion he got to wear his street clothes - he made mention of that in the commentary for it. :)
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Date:September 16th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
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wonderful, and moving. Go John for doing the right thing. And actually, an organization I donate to :)
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
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Cool! From what I gathered from their website, they do good work. And I'd like to say I made up the CFO's name. Just to be clear. :)

Thanks so much for reading. I"m thrilled you liked it.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
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I absolutely loved this. I've tried to instill the idea of good stewardship for the environment in my children and students. Some of them get it, some of them don't. Starting with a child when he is young is a wonderful way to show how important it is. That John continued to honor his mother's desire to help is a wonderful legacy. And the World Wildlife Fund is one of my favorite organizations. Fantastic story!! Fantastic pics too!!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much! I'm delighted you enjoyed the story. And someone else familiar with WWF (OK, I do have to giggle at their initials). I enjoyed researching the organization.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
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So sweet! And what a great idea for a fic.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! The lovely jadesfire wondered where Sheppard got that shirt, and that made me wonder too.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
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This was just one of those heart aching little stories. I thought the flashback to little John crying and upset about not being able to save the Pandas was such an emotional punch to the gut....childhood flashbacks don't always work but this one really did!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much! I'm so glad the flashbacks worked since I wanted to show why it was so important to him.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
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Really enjoyed this. I wish we'd get even a hint of something about Sheppard's mom on the show, but I love the story you've created for him here. John Sheppard would have to have had an amazing mother. Thanks for posting!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it. And I completely agree with you about his mom. Someone had to instill his sense of right and wrong.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
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Awww, this was very nice. Loved it bunches. :)
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
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Wonderful story.

Thank you.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much!
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Date:September 17th, 2008 09:03 am (UTC)
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This story totally made me sniff! It was so sad. I really like how you incorporated Joe's and Shep's t-shirt into this. What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing... I'm off to get a tissue now! Damn you, woman - now my eyes are all red! Lol! ;)
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
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*hands tissue* Thank you so much! I'm thrilled you liked it.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 10:54 am (UTC)
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Wonderful job!! I love the slow progression back through his memories. It made each one more poignant. I also love how the motto "Protect what's important" was instilled him as a toddler.
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Date:September 17th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm chuffed that you caught the protection motto. So glad you enjoyed it.