Title: Lineage Episode 1: One Hell of a Surprise
Fandom: Criminal Minds, Stargate Atlantis, The Sentinel
Characters: Rodney McKay, John Sheppard, OFC – Tara Gideon, Various Stargate: Atlantis Characters
Pairings: Rodney McKay/John Sheppard, Past Tara Gideon/Spencer Reid, Teyla Emmagen/Ronon Dex
Genre: Angst, Sentinel Fusion, Drama
Beta: none, no non-consensual beta
Word Count: 8520
Warnings: Feral Drive, Suicidal Thoughts, Severe Bond Separation
As soon as SGA-1 stepped through the gate they were confronted with a young woman in battle with a small group of Wraith. She was spinning, kicking, slashing and stabbing, and before anyone could get their guns up the five Wraith were dead at her feet. When the last creature was dispatched the young woman landed in a crouch in the middle of the death and destruction and glared at the group. Even covered in blood and gore the woman was slight, but impressive.
“You feel it,” Rodney asked the man standing next to him.
“Yeah, she’s also feral Rodney. We have to be careful.” As soon as those words were out of John’s mouth the woman flew at them and knocked Rodney to the ground. The two of them hit the ground hard and four guns were quickly drawn on the woman.
“Whoa, are you all stupid? We have a feral female Sentinel on our hands, get those guns out of her face,” Rodney barked at the overprotective marines.
“Rod-ney,” the woman growled out as she lowered her face to his, her clawed finger was softly stroking his face. He could also see small sharp teeth and wondered about the strangeness of these features.
“Yes, I’m Rodney.” He smiled and projected calm to everyone around him trying to settle the marines as well as his Sentinel.
The woman shook her head, “Rod-ney,” she said more emphatically, “Guide.”
“Yes, I’m Rodney and I am a Guide. Can you tell me your name?”
The woman grunted again, “Guide, Rod-ney.” Using the flat of her hand she patted her chest, “Guide.”
“I, I, I’m sorry I don’t know what you’re saying.” Rodney shook his head at her.
She finally sat up straddling him around his waist, “Rod-ney.” She then patted her chest again, “Proofs.”
“John, how long has she been feral?” Teyla had moved to one side of her Alpha while Ronan stood next to her watching, trying to figure out what was going on.
“I have no idea but it’s been long enough that this is her normal status. Bringing her down is going to have to be delicate and it will take time. If we do it all at once she could go into sensory collapse.” John slowly let out some of his own empathy and gently touched the girl’s mind. He pulled back because it was utter chaos, and he flinched from the overwhelming emotional pain he felt there.
“Proofs? I’m sorry I don’t understand.” Rodney also reached out to her with his empathy and found a mind and soul in utter chaos. He also felt her agony. But it was as if she was used to this state, and ignored the pain. This led him to believe that the young woman on top of him has been feral for a very long time, he’s just not sure how long.
“Rod-ney,” She patted her chest again in frustration, “Proofs, Rod-ney,” she said again trying to make him understand.
“John,” Rodney looked to his Sentinel, “I don’t understand.”
The woman got up frustrated as she stomped off, grabbed a branch then stomped back. Furiously she cleared a large patch of grass out of the way and started to make symbols in the dirt, muttering incomprehensibly to herself the whole time.
The team stood back and waited hoping they could find a way to communicate better with the girl.
“Rod-ney, proofs,” she said again and patted the dirt next to where she was working.
“Proofs,” he said softly as he walked over to observe what she was doing. When he saw what it was that she was etching out in the dirt he stopped dead in his tracks and all color drained from his face. He felt when his Sentinel moved to his side.
“McKay, are you okay?” John was concerned by how fast his Guides heart was beating and how shallow his breathing became. Instead of answering Rodney slowly got down on his knees and gently touched the girl’s shoulder.
“Tara?” He asked not wanting to believe what he knew in that moment was the truth.
The girl looked up sharply at him, “Rod-ney.” She flew at him again and wrapped her arms around him. Slowly he engulfed her in a hug and closed his eyes. After a few minutes she pulled back and took his face in her hands.
“Guide?” She looked at him hopeful her heart hammering in her chest.
“No sweetheart, I’m not your guide you know that.” Rodney held her by her shoulder trying to give her comfort.
She again huffed out her frustration and broke away from him to again write crudely in the dirt. The name she wrote shattered his heart.
“Guide?” She gently patted the name as she looked at the scientist and smiled hopefully.
“No, no Tara we don’t have Spencer.”
“Guide,” she said again stronger as she patted the name again.
“I am so sorry sweetheart, he’s not with us.” Rodney was having trouble keeping his emotions under control. His empathy wanted to break free and surround the young woman he had once known when he was back on Earth.
“Guide.” She patted the name harder as tears pricked the sides of her eyes, “Guide.”
“Tara, we don’t have Spencer, he’s,” he looked up at his Sentinel for once utterly speechless. It took a long moment for Rodney to find his voice again, “Tara he’s on Earth still.”
The keening cry that came from her throat was a sound that none of them would ever forget, “Pen, Guide, Pen,” she cried out as she patted the dirt harder and harder crying out in pain and frustration. Every Sentinel and Guide on the team felt her pain and just didn’t know how to help.
Rodney grabbed her and pulled her to him, “I know sweetheart, I know.” He held her close as she brokenly sobbed against him. He rocked her back and forth letting her purge her emotions.
John had gone still. His heart stopped as he the scene in front of him unfolded.
“Rodney please tell me that isn’t Tara Gideon.”
“Yes, it is. But how do you know her?” Rodney stroked her hair as he put a tight lid on his own anger and frustration. He wanted to know how and when she got here, and what caused her to go into feral overdrive.
Tara’s head whipped up and she growled low in her throat as claws slowly protruded from her own nails, “Wraith.” She surged up just as a group of the parasites broke out of the tree line. Pulling long bladed knives out from the back of the long flowing pants she was wearing she ran headlong into the group and started killing with a scary kind of efficiency.
The other’s joined in the fight and as soon as it started, it was quickly over. When she felt the threat was neutralized Tara ran back into the trees grabbing a large pack then joined the rest of the gate team.
“Come on, I think we need to beat a hasty retreat here,” John yelled as he ran for the Stargate. Dialing up Atlantis he sent his team’s signal code as Rodney grabbed onto Tara’s hand and they tumbled through the gate.
As soon as they dropped out of the wormhole Tara looked around startled. Rodney grabbed her elbow and it helped settle her down a little. He steered her to the infirmary first because he wanted to have Jennifer check her over.
“Tara,” Rodney got her attention, “Do you want a shower after Dr. Keller is done?”
Her eyes widened and shaking her head yes fairly violently he grabbed her hand again to help keep her calm. After she settled he left her alone with the doctor while he went to talk to his Sentinel that was standing right outside the door to the infirmary.
“John, I’m going to take her to our quarters then maybe one of the isolation rooms. She’s dialed up so high and has stayed there for a long time. I don’t know what it will do to her to be isolated though. In fact I have no idea how she has survived this long of a feral episode. We may have to have Jennifer on standby just in case.”
“Rodney, we have a lot to talk about.” John was concerned for his Guide’s own emotional state. Hell, he was worried about his own as he closed his eyes and thought of his family back on Earth.
“Yeah we do. I want to know how you know her. Let me get her taken care of first, then we’ll talk.” He stubbornly refused to let the girl be helped by anyone else.
“Yeah, because I don’t want to believe she is who she seems to be. If she is…” John pulled his Guide to him wanting a little bit of contact to help settle himself down. He leaned in for a kiss and when his lips touched Rodney’s, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
“I know, and I’m really pissed off and I want to know who it was that hurt her so I can make a really big bomb and blow them up,” he quirked up the side of his mouth in an almost smile as John shook his head knowing he would probably let the man.
“And we’ll find out Mer.” John grabbed Rodney’s chin in his hands and gave him one more kiss. “Get her settled, then come find me and we’ll talk.”
“I will, because you aren’t dodging that conversation, Sheppard.” Rodney walked away from his Sentinel, and went back into the infirmary. He was able to gauge Tara’s senses and was happy that she had been able to settle down some.
“Except for her blown senses and feral state she appears very healthy,” Jennifer smiled softly at the young woman. “I’m comfortable giving her over to you McKay, but you let me know immediately if there are any changes.” Jennifer moved off to wash her hands then she came back. “You’re safe with us Tara, okay?”
Tara grabbed Jennifer’s hand, “Th-thank, y-y-you,” the woman smiled as she held the doctor’s hand a moment.
“Come on Tara.” Rodney helped her off the bed, then led her back to his quarters. He showed Tara the shower and how to turn it off and on. He told her all the products were Sentinel friendly, which she looked immensely grateful for.
“I’m just going to be a few minutes. I’m going to get you something to wear, and do you want something to eat?” Her eyes widened again and she shook her head yes. “Okay, I’ll be back,” he started to walk out the door when she grabbed his arm.
It took her a few minutes to process the word she wanted, “Coffee?” She had such hope in her eyes that he couldn’t deny her this small luxury.
“I’ll let you even have some of my personal stash. But don’t get used to it. Those vultures will be all over me if they knew I had even an ounce of the good stuff left. Now, just stay here and don’t break anything.” Tara laughed at the man’s minor tirade as she finally let him go. She stripped completely, unashamed with her nudity, and stepped into the bathroom.
Rodney left the room and leaned back against the wall next to the door to his room. He took a deep breath to help settle himself, and to get his own emotions under control. After a couple of minutes he moved away to go get those things he promised Tara. It took a while, as he made good on his promise of the coffee, and by the time he got back she was sitting on the bed with a towel around her.
“Here, brought you some clothes.” He handed her the small pile in his arms. She greedily grabbed at them and ran to the bathroom to change. When she came back out Rodney had set up the table with some sandwiches, the coffee and chips. There was also a bowl of fruit and some Jello. Tara pounced on the food growling low in her throat as she kept the plate close to her.
“Ah kid, what happened to you?” He didn’t know if his heart could take it, watching her take a step forward then fall back to this feral state. He hoped that being in an isolation room would help her be able to try to dial back her senses. He knew she was in pain, he only needed to be a low level Guide to figure that out. He came to the conclusion that she had lived with it for so long that she had learned how to ignore it.
“Good.” She sat up and smiled. Then her eyes lit up as she surged out of the chair and grabbed the pack that she had brought with her. Dumping everything out on the bed she hurriedly searched through everything she had in there.
“Ah Tara, come on. Now I have to change the bed again,” Rodney groaned as dirt, sand and leaves were scattered all over the bed. The Sentinel grunted at him as she grabbed the thick papers and shoved them at him.
“Proofs.” He could detect her sarcastic tone even through her grunting, but he didn’t say anything about it. When he just stood there looking at her trying to understand what she wanted, she quirked up a brow and made motions for him to open the paper, “Proofs,” she said more emphatically.
Looking at her like she had lost her mind, he slowly opened the thick homemade paper. He started to look over what she wanted him to see and his eyes widened in shock.
“Tara, these are new proofs. Where did you figure this out?” His heart was racing in anticipation. He would never forget the smile on her face as he looked up. That smile made his heart ache for her because it was the smile she only ever gave to Spencer. Grabbing the papers she grabbed what looked like a crude pencil and wrote on the back of the paper then handed it back to him.
“Here, you did your work at this address?” She nodded her head as she sat on the bed, and began to sort through her things muttering to herself incoherently as she did it. Slowly he walked to the bed to see what she was doing. When she grabbed a necklace with a ring on the end she went utterly still.
“Pen.” She held the ring to her chest as she cried out the name. Her heartbreak was profound enough that Rodney could feel through his connection to John, that every Sentinel and Guide on the city felt it, even those that were sensitive picked up a small echo of her pain.
“Tara.” Rodney cupped her chin to force the young woman to look at him. “If I could call Earth right this minute I would, but we’re still running on half resources. I’m so sorry. I would bring him to you in a heartbeat if it were possible.” She scooted up and curled up in his lap as she once again purged herself against Rodney.
John burst into their rooms, which scared the young woman, as she grabbed on tighter to Rodney.
“Dammit John,” Rodney yelled at his Sentinel.
“Sorry, just I thought something had happened. Everyone is feeling what she is Rodney, she’s projecting all over the city.” John stood cross armed in the middle of their room and Rodney couldn’t help that his body responded to his Sentinel. He closed his eyes to get himself under control, and after a few minutes he looked down at the Sentinel in his lap, caressing her back trying to help her calm down.
“Tara, we have isolation rooms, would you like one for the time being?” Rodney gently stroked her hair as she buried her head against his shoulder. After what seemed like a long time she finally shook her head yes.
“Okay, do you want your things?” She slowly pulled away and looked down at the items scattered on the bed. She reluctantly got up, grabbed her pack and started to carefully put everything away. When she stood she put the necklace around her neck and looked to Rodney.
“Need quiet,” she said. The two men smiled at her happy that she used more than one word. As they started to make their way out a book that was left caught Rodney’s eye. He picked it up and read the inscription inside.
“Tara you forgot-“ She looked at him then lunged for the book, holding it close to her chest.
“Spencer gave.” She frowned deeply and willed herself not to cry, not to project.
“Okay.” John looked over at Rodney deeply concerned for the young woman. He didn’t know if she recognized him or not. He would wait before he talked to her if she didn’t come to him first.
After getting Tara settled in an isolation room and turning up the white noise generators, Rodney watched as the Sentinel breathed an audible sigh of relief. She immediately crawled under the bed sheets and exhaled the breath she had been holding in. She visibly relaxed on the comfortable mattress, exhausted after two battle rages, and the emotional purges which had fatigued her mind and her body, Rodney was grateful that she quickly fell into a deep sleep almost immediately.
When John felt her heartbeat slow down and her breathing even out he stood next to her and gently touched her shoulder, memories of young girl and his brother filled his head. Frowning he turned and laid a hand on his Guides shoulder and indicated for them to leave her alone.
Before they went to the conference room John steered Rodney to their room first and pulled him into his arms, “We so need to talk.”
“Yes we do.” Rodney laid his head on John’s shoulder, and breathed in his Sentinel’s scent. It helped to settle him down some. He slid his hands under John’s shirt to get to the skin underneath. He didn’t want sex at the moment, but he needed to feel his partner, needed to reconnect till he was able to talk.
John bent down and kissed Rodney softly letting his Guide settle even more. “Come on McKay, tell me your story with her and I’ll tell you how I know her.” John cupped Rodney’s cheek and gently rubbed circles under his cheekbone.
“I only want to tell this once, so let’s do this in the conference room.” Rodney broke away from John leaving the room and stalking towards the large conference room that was next to John’s own office. The Alpha Sentinel had already anticipated that his Guide wanted to only tell the story one time. John had the forethought to gather together those he assumed that Rodney would want there to hear whatever story it was he was going tell them. He took a deep breath and thought of the brother he had left behind. His biggest regret in disappearing was not getting into contact with Spencer before coming to Atlantis. He knew he hurt his brother when he had needed him most. He pushed those thoughts aside as he and Rodney entered the conference room.
When they got there Teyla. Ronon, Dr. Weir, Zelenka, Lorne, Keller and Dr. Heightmeyer were there waiting for them. He knew more of the Sentinels and Guides wanted to be there, wanted to know how to help the feral Sentinel, but they didn’t want to crowd the room.
“Thank you for coming. Just bear with me while I tell you what I know. Save your questions till I’m done, I only want to say this once.” Rodney started to slowly pace back and forth while he talked.
“I didn’t meet Tara Gideon and Spencer Reid till they were fifteen. By then they already had a very strong platonic bond. They were both students at CalTech, where every summer I would pick two or three students to mentor. How they flew under my radar for two years I don’t know.” Everyone in the room chuckled at him and waited to find out what made these kids so special for Rodney to take notice of them.
“Tara has an IQ of 193, is an autodidact, which means she can learn anything fairly quickly and retain that information. Close to, but not necessarily an eidetic memory. She can also read 10 -15,000 words a minute, but I have a feeling that was Spencer’s influence. Spencer Reid, has an IQ of 189, can read 20,000 words a minute has an eidetic memory, and is a bit of a magician. To say these two took CalTech by storm at such a young age would be an understatement. By the time I got to them they already had a PhD each. Spencer in Maths, and Tara in Cognitive Behavioral Science. She was working on concurrent Chemistry and Archeaology degrees, and Spencer was well on his way to his Engineering PhD. They were the most compatible Sentinel and Guide that I had ever encountered.” Rodney stopped and looked around the room, he knew they all had questions, but he wanted to wait to get his story out before they asked.
“What was unusual was not only were they bonded, but Tara is the Sentinel, as you have all have guessed. They lived off campus in their own apartment with a conservator. He was there to make sure that they didn’t have sex and bond completely before they were ready. Thing is these were smart kids. They knew they weren’t ready for that step, but it wasn’t unusual to find them curled up around each other every chance they got. They would even study like that. First time I saw it I laughed to myself. It was sweet and it often made me ache for my own Sentinel.
“They also slept in the same bed. The conservator had quite a hard time keeping them apart, so in the end he just let them be. The one time he took Tara back to her bed she had a mini-episode, and that put the fear of god in the man. It was never tried again,” He shook his head thinking back to the young couple and how much potential they had.
“That year I also met her father Jason Gideon. She told me the unusual circumstances of her childhood. She had been adopted by him and an NCIS agent named Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Tara’s family was the victims of a rather vicious serial killer. She came online at six years old during the trauma. When Tara told me of the unusual arrangement, I didn’t know quite what to think. Jason and Jethro were not a couple but they did share custody. Jason was an FBI agent and was often on the road, so when he was gone Jethro would take the girl. I met both eventually but not at the same time.” He stopped to take a deep breath.
“Spencer didn’t talk much about his own family. I know his mother was put in an institution. She is schizophrenic, and I know Spencer had a hard time with it. He’s very protective of her. He also talked a little of his brother’s, but didn’t tell me much. I know Tara knows the whole story, but she respects his privacy and never broke that trust. This led me to believe that the mother was a Sentinel, but her gifts were suppressed because of her mental illness. Its no wonder that they were meant for each other.” Rodney stopped and looked around the room then dropped into the chair at the head of the table.
“Her father became enamored of Spencer’s mind. The boy made connections saw things differently than even most scientists. He’s brilliant and Jason, the bastard, tried to interfere in their bond several times. It got to the point where I was ready to get Jethro involved to take over custody and get her safe. Just as I was making plans to get back to California, Spencer called me one day in a panic because Tara had disappeared. There was no trace of her, and for nine years we have been looking for her.”
“How did she end up here though?” Elizabeth leaned forward, trying to make sense of the girl’s life and circumstances.
“I can only guess. The last time I was at CalTech to continue their mentorship Senator Woolsey was there. He was giving an invite only mini-conference. I didn’t get one of those invites, but I found out later what it was. There was a secret mission going on in Area 51 that was being hushed up even from Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond. A ship had been reverse engineered; this was before the Prometheus started to take shape. It was going to be a one way mission to go past our own Milky Way to try and gather information about the space beyond. From what Spencer was telling me, he and Tara wanted to go. They were seventeen, their birthdays just a few months away. I had the impression that they were going to take that final step, and join the expedition.” Rodney shoved out of his chair as his anger rose.
“There is only one possibility and it’s-” Rodney crossed his arms as he furiously paced by his Sentinel who was letting him try to work off his anger.
“You think her father had something to do with this, don’t you?” Elizabeth was the one that spoke up.
“Yes, yes I do,” Rodney stopped next to John and leaned into him, “Spencer went into sensory deprivation. His Sentinel was ripped from him, and the bond almost breaking came near to killing him.”
John had waited for Rodney to finish before he said anything.
“Spencer is my brother.”
“What?” Rodney frowned as he looked at his Sentinel. “You, you never told me this.”
“And you never told me about mentoring two kids at CalTech. I would have told you McKay, but you never said anything to me.”
“Because i didn’t know I had to. Dammit Sheppard.”
“What McKay?” John crossed his arms as he cocked his head and stared at his Guide.
“Just, you never talk about your family and now this? Did you ever visit them?”
“As much as I could. He’s my little brother, of course I would make sure that he was okay at school like that.”
“Then how did we never see each other?” Rodney frowned and wondered at all the times he was at CalTech and never once ran into John Sheppard. “And why didn’t he go by Sheppard? Why did he never mention you?”
John wiped a hand down his face as he tried to settle the raging emotions moving through him.
“When he went to school he wanted to do it on his own. He didn’t want to be seen as riding on the coattails of our father. His Mother is Diana Reid, he decided to use that name in school. Tara was, god they were beyond perfect for each other, and losing her, you’re right it almost killed him. I took him to the Sentinel and Guide center in Los Angeles myself, then called Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. I knew they’d be the only ones to help him, and I didn’t care that they were being pulled from seclusion. I couldn’t handle his grief, it was too much. I left him behind and it’s my biggest mistake.”
“John, he didn’t blame you, you have to know that.”
“I left my brother in pain McKay how am I not to blame for that?” John pressed his lips together and tried to control his emotions. “He wouldn’t even take my call before I went to Antarctica.”
“What is the young man doing now?” Dr. Weir asked as she looked between the two man trying to gage their emotions.
Rodney shook his head and huffed out a slight chuckle. “He’s working for the FBI in the very unit Tara’s father helped to found. He said he wanted to be close to Gideon, to see if he could find out what happened. That boy was playing the man who thought he was being Spencer’s mentor. Then after a bad case the bastard disappeared. I got called up for Atlantis and I haven’t heard from Spencer since.”
Rodney could feel the anger pouring off of every Sentinel within hearing distance. They had turned on the dampeners in the room, but it didn’t really mean anything. Tara was now part of the pride and their collective protective instincts went on overdrive.
“We have to be very careful on how we bring her down. If it’s too fast it could cause a city wide empathic event, then all of the Sentinels and Guides would be down for the count.” Rodney started to pace, his mind racing to think of a solution.
“What if we try to do a spirit walk?” Teyla asked the Guide.
Rodney stopped in his tracks and considered her suggestion, “Have you ever been on the spirit plane Teyla?”
“I was trained by our spiritual leaders as a child. It was part of my overall training to be leader of my people. We just have to make sure she is aware enough to be able to understand what will happen.”
“That might work. We could get all of the city’s Guides together then do a guided walk.” Rodney got lost in thought and John cupped the back of his neck helping to bring him out of his thoughts.
“I’m sorry, I’m just so angry.”
John closed his eyes and pictured Spencer and Tara the last time he had seen them. They were just shy of their seventeenth birthdays. Spencer had taken John aside and asked his brotherly advice on whether they should wait another year. He was proud of his little brother for respecting his Sentinel enough to wait. Then the guilt bubbled up inside him. He had been so angry at their father that he left everything and everyone behind. He left his shattered younger brother behind and it tore him to pieces.
“He was the one person I truly regretted leaving behind John. And I can’t even let him know she’s alive. You saw what it did to that boy.” Both Sentinel and Guide were unsettled by Tara’s presence and didn’t know how to process their feelings.
“We’ll find a way McKay. I promise.” John had an inkling of what his brother had gone through when Rodney had activated a personal shield around him by accident. It had cut him off from his Guide and it was the most painful thing he had ever lived through. Not even the Iratus bug was as bad. He closed his eyes tight because he didn’t want to relive those two days that his bond was suppressed. He almost didn’t survive it, he couldn’t even imagine the nine years his own brother had to live it.
“I know what it is to lose your Guide, and I do not envy the young man or Tara. He never took another Sentinel Sheppard? McKay?” Rodney knew that Ronon was the only one in the room to truly understand what the young woman was going through, he had an idea that maybe Ronon could help her.
“No, he said he would never take another Sentinel. He told me before I left that if he had to spend the rest of his life alone, he would. Tara was it for him.” He broke out away from John’s touch and remembered the papers he had with him, “I almost forgot these. She did this while feral.” He threw the papers on the table and each scientist took one to study it.
“The girl, in the state she is in did this, yes?” Zelenka looked stunned as he went over the math on the homemade paper in front of him.
“Yeah, she did that while in her current state.”
“How can you tell?” Weir was trying to figure out the math, but it was too far beyond her to really understand it.
“Everyone seems to think that all mathematicians work in the same way, well we don’t. We all have signatures, styles as you will. John can always tell my work from Zelenkas, or one of the other scientists. I know Tara’s work. She hates math, with a passion, but give her a proof to solve? The girl is a fucking genius at it.” That got a slight chuckle from the scientists. “I know her work when she’s in a normal everyday state, this may look organized, but it isn’t. It is hers, but it’s more chaotic.”
“She hates math and she does this?” Zelenka was stunned as he looked over the work.
“It was one ongoing debate between Tara and Spencer. It was truly the only thing they fought about. He wanted her to get her mathematics degree, she was vehemently opposed. She once told me that Proofs are elegant, they have a creative and open to interpretation aspect to them. She compared working on them to solving the great philosophical mysteries.” John smiled softly as he slowly paced, “I can’t say she’s wrong. Math is pure, it’s beautiful. I would watch the two of them when working on something new and it made me proud of him.” John clamped down on the bubble of emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. He knew very well that he could end up in a Zone because he was fighting himself so hard. He tightened up his emotions, almost shutting them off completely. At least for the time being. McKay frowned at him and he knew he was suppressing their bond, but he needed to, at least to get through this.
“These change everything we know about the Stargates, where did she do this thing?” Zalenka took the papers and spread them out on the table and quickly figured out the order they should go in. Even John was intrigued by this time and he stared in shock at the amount of work before him.
“Wow, look here she’s incorporated the Jordan Curve Theorm, what was she trying to prove?” John, Rodney and Radek got lost in the math. But it was the last page that truly brought it together for John, “Rodney, look.” He pointed out the page and his Guide pounced on it.
“She was trying to prove that none of the Stargates actually intersect with one another, but instead are just one continuous loop, but what for?” He looked at the list of address and he slowly sank into one of the chairs. “Oh god. She was playing telephone.” Rodney closed his eyes as he fought to get his own emotions under control. In that moment he was glad that John was suppressing his feelings, he didn’t think he could help either of them at the moment.
“What is this telephone?” Ronon looked confused.
“It’s a device we have on earth that we can dial a set of numbers and connect to someone else on the other end of the ‘line’ so to speak. Children, not knowing they shouldn’t play with the device, will often dial at random. But, smart ones will start with 111-1111 and go from there.”
“What would be the purpose of this young woman doing this?” Teyla frowned trying to comprehend the significance of what they were talking about.
Rodney closed his eyes as he realized what it was she was doing and it just pissed him off even more.
“She was trying to find home.” Rodney was slowly losing control as he violently shoved out of his chair and stalked off. John took one last look at the papers, then went after his Guide. He finally found him outside the isolation room staring into it watching the young Sentinel sleep.
“I am so angry, and sad, and I want to hurt someone, John.” The Sentinel just wrapped his arms around his Guide and held him close. “This is just so fucked-up. I can’t believe her father did this to her. Didn’t the bastard know the damage he could cause?” He clutched the back of John’s shirt as he held on trying not to break down from the grief he felt.
“I don’t think he cared. I warned Spencer about him several times, but, like a Sheppard he was stubborn. Damn stubborn kid liked the man. I could kill him.“ John was almost shaking under the force of his suppressed emotions. Normally his control was better than this. His brother’s Sentinel was in the other room, and there was no way at the moment to tell him, and it was pissing John off even more.
“I know John, and I think I would help you do it. What are we going to do? I know she won’t bond with anyone else, and when she crashes we have no idea what it’s going to do to her, or to every Sentinel and Guide on the city.” He sighed as he buried his face in his Sentinels neck breathing deep trying to settle himself.
“We’ll take care of her, no matter what happens, Mer. We’ll take care of her and goddammit we’ll find a way to get him here.” He looked through the glass in the door to the sleeping girl and vowed to help her anyway they could.
___________________________________________________________________________________ The next morning Rodney went to the mess hall and prepared a breakfast tray and took it to Tara’s room. When he walked in he saw her sitting there with a picture in her hand, silent tears falling from her eyes. He knew she had heard him, but she didn’t look up when he came in. Wiping her eyes she put the photograph down and finally looked up at her former mentor.
Rodney didn’t let too many people into his trusted circle, but Spencer and Tara, he had. From the first day he had met them he wanted to instantly protect them. Their bond and their love for each other was strong yet, sweet and gentle. He tamped down on those memories as he walked further into the room.
“I brought you some breakfast.” He smiled as he set the tray down on the table.
“Th-a-nk y-you.” She climbed out of the bed and slowly lowered to the table taking a plate filled with food. Rodney sent a little prayer up to whoever was listening, though he didn’t believe in any deities. He did consider it an unmitigated miracle that the girl was even there. He noticed that she ate slower than the evening before, and considered that a step in the right direction.
“Tara,” Rodney sat with her, a cup of coffee in hand, at the small table. “We can help you dial back, but your senses are blown so high I don’t think you can do this on your own. What do you say we attempt a Spirit Walk?” He hoped she understood, he wasn’t sure what she was and wasn’t comprehending.
“Yes, need to.” She closed her eyes and he knew she was calling her spirit animal to her. A golden cougar appeared by her side, faint black stripes outlined a regal face. Rodney was stunned though at what he saw, the poor thing had scars all along his flanks. “Need help.” Tara looked up and pain and guilt shone in her eyes.
“Sweetheart, this isn’t your fault.” She pushed her food away as she dropped down next to the feline wrapping her arms around him she buried her head against the cougar’s side.
“Hurt him, my fault.” She curled up around the animal who had come to wind itself around her.
Rodney got down on the floor next to the young woman and pulled her into his arms holding her close.
“We’ll figure this out, I promise you.” He carded his fingers through her hair and sighed. It wasn’t until John showed-up looking for him that he realized how much time he had spent there. Tara sat up and looked between the two men.
“Rodney, found Sentinel?” She smiled brightly as she looked between them.
“Yes, I did.” Rodney stood and wrapped his hand around John’s wrist.
“Tara.” John sat back on his heels and looked at the young woman hoping she would recognize him, he wasn’t going to push, he would let her take the lead. “We’d like to do a spirit walk with you, but we think it might be dangerous to do it here, because we aren’t sure what the impact will be when you come down. Is there a place you would like to do this at?”
Tara frowned as she thought about it then asked for the papers she had given Rodney. He ran to his office then came back and handed them to her. She looked over the page with gate addresses then pointed one out.
“Here? You want to go here?” Rodney asked.
“Yes, pretty, Derrian, good people,” she said to them.
“Derrians?” Tara nodded and sighed. Rodney could tell that she was deeply frustrated that her communication skills were still lacking.
“It’s okay, we’ll get you better, I promise.” John squeezed her knee then stood. Motioning for Rodney to follow, he started to leave the young woman.
Tara stood up then walked over and wrapped her arms around John. “Thank you,” she quietly said against him. John frowned but slowly wrapped his arms around her and just held the young woman close to him. “John, brother.”
“It’s okay kiddo.” He kissed the top of her head then smiled down at her. “I was wondering if you knew me still.” He held her close again. “We will find a way to get you back to my brother Tara.” He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead then let her go. When he did she looked around the room looking lost.
“Are you okay?” Rodney was worried that she was already starting to shut down.
“Move.” She looked frustrated as she started to walk around the room.
“You want to move?” Rodney shook his head not understanding what she wanted.
“Want to move.” She huffed out her breath then did a series of karate like moves. When she stopped she gave them an almost Mckay worthy snarky look.
“Exercise? Do you want to know where you can exercise?” Her eyes lit up and she nodded furiously.
John laughed as he shook his head.
“Come on, I’ll show you.” He led her down to the gym where she walked the room looking at all of the equipment. Tilting her head she grabbed a set of the Athosian Bantos Rods.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, those can be dangerous. I don’t want Spencer bitching me out that you got hurt because we were playing too rough.” John walked towards her to take them when she quirked up a brow. Holding them up she looked like she wanted to challenge him.
“No, we are not going there. You are still fairly feral and if we do this it could push you further.” She just smiled and clicked the sticks together.
“Are you trying to get yourself hurt? Dammit Tara.” Her expression darkened as she shrugged out of the top shirt and grabbed the sticks again giving him a challenging look.
“Fine, but we are starting out easy.” He threw off his jacket and grabbed another set of batons. He didn’t expect the smile that lit up her face as she easily slipped into a crouching stance.
John just shook his head as he also crouched down ready to spar. They slowly circled each other, and Tara lunged bringing the sticks up swiftly and expertly. She got in a blow to his side which surprised him.
“Oh, I see. Okay kid let’s go.” They started to go at each other faster and more aggressively than what John originally wanted. After a while they started to gain an audience. Tara didn’t really notice because she was concentrating so much on the combatant in front of her she blocked out everything else around her.
Rodney, Teyla and Ronon were watching and were impressed by the girl’s skills. It looked like she had trained somewhere and wondered where. They knew they wouldn’t get any answers till she was back to normal, whatever that may mean for her.
Tara dropped, spun and tripped John then jumped back up on her feet. She made the mistake of not watching his feet and when he got up he tripped her then dropped down, holding her to the floor. Jumping back up he held his hand out to help her up.
“I’d really like to know where you learned to fight like that. You only took those self-defense classes that my Dad insisted on.” Her face darkened and she frowned walking away.
“Bantu,” she said softly as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Oh no.” Teyla’s eye widened as she stepped forward, “Tara, were you in the pits?”
She lifted her head and closed her eyes trying to keep her emotions under control. “Yes,” She took off her t-shirt and showed John and Rodney a series of scars on her arms.
Teyla moved forward and ran her hands along the scars, “Oh sweetheart, how long?”
Slowly she held up two fingers and bowed her head. Teyla grabbed her and held her close, “I am so sorry.”
“Teyla? What’s going on?” John moved over and frowned at the scars on his brother’s Sentinel’s arms.
“Bantu is a world I have not told you about, nor have I given you the address. The people there are very dangerous. They are known for underground fighting pits. Most of the people in the pits have been kidnapped and used as slaves for the fights.” She looked up at John, not finishing what she was going to say.
“These fights,” John’s heart sped up as he looked down at the girl, “I take it they don’t end well?”
“No, they don’t. You may not want to know what she had to do to survive. It could also go a long way to explaining her feral state.” She let the girl go, “Are you okay?”
Tara nodded as she turned around, picked up the Bantos rods and put them back-up. Grabbing her shirt she turned to go find the showers on her own.
“Teyla, do I want to know about these fighting pits?” John crossed his arms as a deep frown formed on his face and anger started to replace all other emotions he had at the moment. Everything about Tara since finding her had him off kilter, and he knew part of that was his guilt, and part was the heart-breaking thought that she was so far away from his brother, from her guide, and it hurt him deeply.
“They are rather barbaric as you would say. Anyone who lands on their planet are in danger of being forced to fight in the pits.” Teyla looked towards the showers where Tara had gone, “Each scar is a win.”
Rodney’s face darkened in rage, “John, I am losing it here,” Rodney was pacing frantically back and forth as his empathy started leaking out everywhere. His shields weren’t locked down as tight as they should be, he was letting his emotions rule him. His Sentinel grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him in close.
“Shut it down Rodney, you need to calm down. You getting angry isn’t going to help that girl. She trusts you, and I hope me as well. She needs us to be our best.” John helped to shore up Rodney’s shields as he held him close while he worked to quell his own rage.
“You’re right, I know you’re right, but I don’t know how she’s survived and stayed sane.” He leaned into John’s side seeking comfort.
“What we have to remember is that she has survived. When we finally get her sorted she’s going to crash and it isn’t going to be pretty. She’s going to remember all of those things she’s done to survive and she may have guilt. We don’t know what kind of emotional shape she is going to be in when this is done.” John slowly put aside his own anger, locked it up tight till the time came when he could let it out. Right now his Guide and a Sentinel still in distress needed him to be strong. Spencer needed him to be strong, and he would. He was more determined than ever to find a way back home.
“You’re right, I know you are.” Rodney blew out a breath as he quickly pulled back on his empathy and reinforced those shields he worked hard to keep intact. “So, this is what we are going to do. We are going to do the spirit walk, then if all goes well I am getting the whole story. If it is her father that set her on this road and we ever get to dial Earth I swear to god John I will be tempted to put a hit out on the son-of-a-bitch.” He practically growled out.
“And I will help you.” John tried not to smile at his Guide, but he just couldn’t help it.
“Stop that, it’s not funny and I hate you right now.” Rodney glared at his Sentinel who just cupped his cheek and leaned in to kiss him which settled him down even more.
“No you don’t.” Tara came back in the room after showering. She had put her hair up and was wearing fresh clothes.
“I..am..sorry.” She had such a look of misery on her face, and her whole body was shaking. She was feeling the effects of coming down from being feral so long and she knew she was in trouble.
“I think you need at least a conservator Tara.” John was worried that without any type of Guide support she would just fall back into a cycle.
Slowly she nodded her head then headed back to the isolation room. She turned up the dampeners and the white noise machine before stretching out on the bed and falling asleep. As she fell into a deep sleep she felt a brush against her mind, but couldn’t quite place it. She reached out even more, pulling on that tiny thread she still had with her Guide and felt the slightest of vibrations. Rolling on her side she grabbed a pillow and curled around it as she held onto that thread, that lifeline that had been with her for so long. It was her only hope, her only connection to Spencer and she would guard it with her very life. She turned into the pillow as she let silent tears fall, clinging to that tiny bit of hope that she would see her Guide again.