John looked at the beach and crashing waves in front of him. He had been on earth for the past three days and was enjoying the time down. His arm was still in a cast, he had to walk with a cane, and still felt sore all over, especially his side, but he figured that in the overall picture he wasn't doing too badly. Of course, the fact he was unable to go surfing, even though there were perfect waves in front of him, was its own form of torture.
Sighing, he looked at Dave and Sydney, who were in their own comfortable beach chairs. Dave was typing on his computer, probably still catching up on work after being gone on Atlantis, and Sydney was reading a book. John had already had a wonderful time with them on earth and looked forward to the rest of his two weeks of leave.
Sydney was as wonderful as he had thought she would be, and he knew that she and Dave would have a wonderful life together. She had made John promise to be back for their wedding. It felt good to be a part of his brother's life again. Though he was unaccountably glad for his family on Atlantis, it was nice to have his family on earth back. He even felt at peace with his father.
The first day on earth, David had handed him a letter written in his father's script. "I didn't find this until a few weeks after Dad's funeral, and I wanted to give it to you in person. I guess I was sort of nervous it would get lost on its way to your base, and I didn't want to risk that. I…I probably should have told you about it, but I was unsure what was in it, and I didn't want you wondering about it for who knows how long."
John had taken the letter hesitantly and went to the guest bedroom he was staying in while at Dave's place. Dave and John had talked some more on Atlantis about everything that happened in their family and David had explained how much their dad still cared for and thought of John. Yet, he discovered his hand was trembling when he opened the letter written undeniably in his father's script, though it was shakier than he had ever seen the usually bold and firm writing.
Forcing his hand to be still, he read his father's final message to him. His eyes filled with tears as he read the regret his father had for what had happened.
"I'm sorry John, for the things I said that day. I only wanted what was best for you, and the thought of losing you on one of your missions filled me with horror. Yet, in wanting what was best for you, I forgot how different you and I are. You have a lot of your mother in you, and I tried to fit you in the same mold as me. John, I can't say how much I miss you and wish things had turned out differently, but I want you to know I am proud of you. You grew up to be a strong man that stands up for what he believes, and I could not ask for more than that."
Though John made a point to never cry, he found himself wiping his eyes as the rest of the letter blurred together. Taking a deep breath, he read on.
"I know that you probably regret that we didn't get to say goodbye in person, but I don't want you to worry about it. Just know that I love you, and no matter what I'm glad you were my son."
The rest of the words in the letter merged together for John. He had lived for years with the knowledge his dad was disappointed with him as a son, and wished he had been different. Yet, in one letter all those ideas were blasted away. His dad said he was proud of him and glad he was his son. John bowed his head as he took in that new knowledge.
Later that day, Dave had driven him to the cemetery his father was buried in. Dave had stayed in the car as John slowly limped over to the large headstone. Unconsciously, John straightened as he spoke.
"Dad, I'm sorry for the things I said that night as well. I am proud of you being my father, and I wish I had been there before you died." John was silent for a moment and then murmured, "I'm glad you wrote the letter."
He stood quietly by his father's grave for the next thirty minutes as he truly said goodbye to his father. Though at the funeral he had tried to find some peace, this time he actually felt like he would be able to heal. "Goodbye, Dad," John whispered before heading back to Dave at the car.
As John listened to the cries of the gulls on the beach, he thought how ironic it was that it was the death of his dad that had finally given him his family back after years of thinking they were lost to him. Well, not only the death of his father, but his own almost going over the brink as well had brought him to a place where he finally felt at peace with his father, his brother, and ultimately, himself.
John realized he was glad that he had his brother back, but was even more thankful for his surrogate family on Atlantis: a family that would do anything to help him. That included managing to overcome walls of red tape to get his civilian brother to the Pegasus galaxy with the hope it would help him recover. Who could ask for more than that?
John was shaken from his thoughts as Sydney turned to him and asked, "So, do you miss the people on your base?"
Smiling, John said, "You have no idea."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story. Please review and let me know what you think. Even if you have been lurking at the edges, this is a perfect time to tell me what your favorite part or line was. :D
2A/N: Even if you read this long after it was originally posted, leave a review! :D
3 A/N: I want to thank all of you for going on this journey with me, and I hope none of you were too disappointed.