Jillian May Sheppard used to sit on her windowsill and dream. She would watch the snow fall outside and think, "Would that my daughter have skin as luminescent as the snow. Would that she be as gentle as snowflakes."
If her husband, General John Sheppard, was around to hear her statements, he would add, "And if her lips were as red as the blood shed to keep America free, there would be no harm done." And she would sigh, and wish, and pretend to agree.
And then, one day, Jillian got her wish. When the General got home, she told him of the new joy in their life, of their future child. The General was pleased, for he so loved his wife, he knew any daughter of theirs would be as beautiful as she. And if they had a son, he'd make a damn fine soldier.
Nine months later, Jillian held out her arms, panting and sweating and flushed, and a small bundle was placed in her arms. And it was no daughter; Jillian May Sheppard held a small baby boy with a shock of dark hair and pale skin. "He is no daughter, but he is still my own. I shall name him John, after his father." And as she handed her son to her husband, who allowed a smile to break his stoic mannerisms, the monitor at her side beeped erratically and nurses rushed forward, and the Johns were shunted outside.
Many years passed, and the General retired to become Mr. Sheppard and still could not look at his son without missing his beloved Lillian, without seeing her in his son's features. So little John Sheppard grew up on his own, made friends with his fellow military brats. And then one day Mr. Sheppard brought home a woman and everything changed.
Jackie Murphy was the complete opposite of Jillian. Strict, vain, and devious. She forced John to have a curfew and to call her "Ma'am" and the day Mr. Sheppard made her his Mrs. Sheppard, she ordered John to burn all the pictures of Lillian. "I am your mother now," she announced.
Every day she would look in her vanity and ask her reflection, "Who is the most beautiful person on base?" and she would answer herself, pursing her lips and fluttering her eyelashes and saying, "Me, of course."
But one day, when John Sheppard, junior, was eighteen years old and some odd months, she sat in front of her mirror and asked herself the same question. But before she could reply, she caught the reflection of John outside her window, talking to someone. And she could not speak: the light caught in his eyelashes and highlighted his cheekbones and his full lips and he was handsome. He was Lillian's.
So she drove him to the enlisting station herself. In two weeks, he was gone and she hoped he'd die somewhere, mutilated from some bomb and ugly and covered in dirt. And then they'd send his remains home cremated so she wouldn't have to look at him, lying in perfection in a casket, and it would be like he never existed. She told the General it was his son's choice to enlist. For once, he was proud. He had almost forgotten about his son, about Lillian's last gift to him.
But John Sheppard junior didn't die. He found himself en route to an alien planet, through a watery-blue ring called the Stargate, to a city that lit up at his touch. With a group closer to him than any family he'd ever had.