- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Explicit Sex
- No Beta
- Established Relationship
- Multiple Partners
- Science Fiction
“Tara.” Spencer bolted upright in bed from the dream. He had been having vivid dreams almost everyday of his Sentinel over the last few days. He started to think that the stress of her absence along with the job was getting to him. He looked over at the clock, and it showed that it was only 4:30 in the morning. Closing his eyes and flopping back down on the bed he blew out a frustrated breath. He reached for the necklace he never took off and clutched the ring in his hand. Many nights he fell asleep to thoughts of the girl, now woman, who was his Sentinel, who had been ripped away from him by a manipulative, jealous man who was too cowardly to face what he had done. Spencer often wondered lately if Jason Gideon ran because of his mistake in Phoenix, or because of his guilt over how he almost destroyed Spencer’s life. It had taken him months to build his shields back up to the point that no one could tell that he was a Guide. Blair had helped him to carefully and methodically repair and strengthen those shields.
Spencer put these thoughts aside as he slowly managed to get-up, and prepared himself to go to work. Friends and co-workers were always trying to get him to find someone else, to re-bond, but with another Sentinel. No one understood, his bond wasn’t broken, just thin and extremely fragile. Of course it was so thin that it wouldn’t take much to fully break it. However, it was the one way he could tell that Tara was still alive somewhere, and as long as he had that thread bare, tenuous bond he would hold out hope that she would be brought back to him.
He got ready in silence, once more clutching the ring,
he brought it to his lips and kissed it closing his eyes and holding it close. Finally, he was ready to face the day. He got into work close to six am and looking up he saw that Hotch was already in his office starting his day. There were days that it was difficult, he watched Morgan and Hotch together and deeply ached for Tara. He knew this was going to be one of those days. He sighed as he put his satchel down, grabbed his coffee mug and went to the little kitchen to pour a cup of coffee.
When he walked in he grabbed the carafe and poured a cup, then added sugar to sweeten it just right. Then he just stopped. The dream from the night before had been so real, so vivid that tears pricked the corners of his eyes. When he felt Hotch’s presence behind him he grabbed his coffee mug and started to leave.
“Reid, are you okay?” Hotch had felt when his subordinate had come in, he had also felt the overwhelming grief pouring off of the young man and it worried him.
Spencer looked up into his boss’s face and sighed. He had made a pact after he had gotten clean from the dilaudid that if things got too bad he’d come and talk to Hotch.
“I dreamed of her last night.” Spencer looked to the side not wanting to see any looks of pity on Hotch’s face. “It was so real like I could just reach out and touch her. I haven’t dreamed like that in a while.” He looked down into his coffee cup then took a small tentative sip.
“Do you want to come up and talk about it, Spencer?” Aaron laid a hand on the young man’s shoulder which made Reid sigh in relief. Hotch was the only other person he knew that could settle him. It had unnerved him at first, especially when he had felt so vulnerable in the beginning, but Hotch never tried to take advantage. When Spencer learned that Morgan was Hotch’s Guide it made it easier to take the comfort the Sentinel always sought to give him.
“There’s something you should read. I didn’t mean to keep it from anyone, he wrote it to me personally but,” Spencer had the letter memorized, it was burned into his brain and it wasn’t something he would ever forget.
“Okay.” Hotch patted his shoulder then slowly made his way up the stairs to his office. Spencer stopped at his own desk and rummaged through his messenger bag for the letter he kept there. His hand brushed against the book he always kept with him, the one Tara had given to him for his fifteenth birthday. Swallowing down the lump in his throat he grabbed the letter and moved up to Hotch’s office.
“Here.” Spencer handed Hotch the letter as he slowly sank into one of the chairs that Hotch kept in his office for visitors.
The Unit Chief read through the letter that Gideon had left Spencer and what he read chilled him to the bone. “So you were right after all. I can’t believe he would do this.” Hotch was devastated. He had always considered Jason a friend. Morgan always joked that they acted like an old married couple, which the Sentinel just laughed before he kissed his Guide senseless.
“I have to tell Jethro, I just don’t know how I’m going to tell him.” Spencer stood and stalked to the window in Hotch’s office, his shoulders drooped as he stared out. “I never met David Rossi. He always came to the campus when we had separate schedules. I have to tell him too, don’t I?”
Hotch stood and walked up to the genius and pulled him into his arms. Hotch and Morgan had made an agreement when the young man started that if he needed grounding they would be there for him. Spencer hadn’t known what to think at first, but after their first major case, the Blue Ridge Strangler, he felt himself seeking out his boss for comfort. On some level, he knew that if he ever asked, Hotch and Morgan would open up their bond to him and let him be part of their life. He wasn’t ready to give up on Tara, he didn’t think he ever would be.
Spencer pulled off his vest, he needed more and Hotch knew exactly what he was asking for. The Unit Chief slipped off his jacket and pulled his shirt from his pants. They both slipped their hands under to get to skin. Spencer laid his head against Hotch’s shoulder and just let himself be held. They both felt when Morgan had come into the office but they didn’t break apart.
Morgan made his way into his Sentinels office and saw the two men. He knew something had happened, but Hotch just shook his head slightly telling Mogan that Spencer wasn’t ready to talk yet. Morgan slipped back out and went to his desk to get his paperwork organized, worry for his friend just at the edges of his empathy.
After another few minutes, Spencer pulled away, feeling more settled than he had all morning.
“Thank you, Hotch.” Spencer was always slightly embarrassed whenever he sought this level of comfort, but Hotch never minded.
“You never have to thank me, Spencer,” Hotch cupped the side of his face and was very tempted to lean in for a kiss. He knew it wouldn’t be unwelcome, but he wouldn’t ever take advantage of Spencer’s vulnerability like that.
Spencer smiled as he pulled away and put himself back together. “Aaron,” He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say, he knew he had something profound with Hotch, but he just couldn’t define it. “I sometimes feel like I’m taking advantage of you.” Spencer sighed as he picked up the letter and stood awkwardly in the room.
“Spencer, you’re not. I told you when you first started that when you needed the support, not to hesitate. I care very much for you, and if I could I would bring her back for you. But look, now we have a lead, I’ll get in contact with this General O’Neill and see if I can find out anything. Why don’t you call Jethro and have him and his Guide come here and we’ll tell them together. I have a feeling Jethro is going to go ballistic.”
“Yes, he is.” A part of Spencer wanted to tear up the letter in his hand but he knew he couldn’t. It was the only thing that gave them the clues they needed, “Okay, thank you Hotch.” He smiled shyly as he turned and left the office. Morgan had been waiting just outside so that he could slip into his Sentinel’s office, immediately taking Aaron in his arms.
“What do you need Aaron?” He could feel the anger pouring off of the Sentinel. Aaron shut and locked the door then pushed his Guide up against the wall kissing him fiercely and pulling at the button down shirt. When he finally got it open and his hands slid over the smooth chocolate colored skin he moaned in the back of his throat. Morgan’s arms came up around Aaron as he pulled the shirt out of his pants and slid his hands over his Sentinel’s hairless skin.
Pulling him impossibly closer Morgan cupped the back of Aaron’s neck and changed the angle of the kiss. Aaron felt himself becoming impossibly hard at the feel of his Guide in his arms. Snaking his hand in between them he fumbled at Morgan’s trousers getting them undone and letting them drop to the floor he reached in and felt for his bonded’s hard cock.
“Need you,” Aaron growled as he dropped to his knees and took all of Morgan in his mouth, tongue licking the head, tasting the leaking fluids, he licked a stripe along the throbbing vein in the beautiful dark cock in his mouth.
“Ah fuck,” Morgan tried to keep his voice low as he fought with himself not to thrust too hard in his Sentinel’s mouth. Aaron worked him fast and hard wanting, no needing to feel his Guide’s release. After a short time, Morgan felt that familiar pull and he tapped his Sentinels shoulder to let him know he was close. “Not, gonna last,“ he panted out as Aaron pulled back till just the head was still in his mouth. One last swipe of his tongue over the soft silken flesh and Morgan felt his release explode in Aaron’s mouth. The Sentinel swallowed and took a few last swipes before pulling off and standing to kiss his Guide senseless.
Aaron was pushed back towards the couch as Morgan undid the Sentinel’s trousers. Pushing the older man on the couch he hooked his fingers in the waistband and pulled off pants and boxers. Settling between Aaron’s legs Morgan proceeded to return the favor. Aaron’s head fell back against the couch as his eyes closed, the pleasure of his Guide’s mouth on his hard, throbbing cock pushing him closer to the edge.
“Derek,” he growled as he ran his hands over the smooth bald head. The bond between them burned brightly as he was brought ever closer to release. They didn’t often do this in the office, but after reading Spencer’s letter his usual grounding techniques just were not going to work this time. He knew that everyone in the office, especially the other Sentinel and Guide pairs were going to know exactly what was going on. The few other times this had happened there was a calm, easy feeling around the office and Morgan and Hotch would just look at each other and smile.
Aaron was close as he thrust up into his Guide’s mouth seeking more and when Morgan hollowed his cheeks and sucked harder the Sentinel came on a strangled cry. Morgan made a few more passes, riding out Aaron’s orgasm, then he pulled off and stood. He lowered Aaron back on the couch and settled on top of him.
“Thank you, Derek. I needed that.” He stroked his Guide’s back relishing the weight as he wrapped his arms tightly around the darker man. “I love you.” He kissed him fiercely as he held him tight in his arms.
“I love you to Aaron.” Morgan sat up slightly and looked his partner in the face, “Tell me what’s wrong.”
Aaron sighed, “Reid let me read the letter from Gideon.” Morgan’s face tightened but he kept his emotions in check, “It confirms what we suspected. Gideon drugged Tara and sent her away. All because he became infatuated with Spencer.” Hotch’s face darkened as he thought of the man who had once been one of his best friends. “He wanted Spencer for himself. He wasn’t going to force a bond, but I think before Georgia he was close. God, Derek how did we not see it but Spencer did?”
“Because I think we were too close to Jason. Well, as close as anyone could get to the man. We didn’t want to see the depth of his manipulation. Are there any clues to where she is?” Morgan got up and prodded his Sentinel to turn over. Walking over to a shelf Morgan grabbed a bottle of massage oil and started to give his Sentinel a deep tissue massage to help him settle even more. He had a feeling this day was going to get worse before it even truly started.
“God that feels amazing. You’re amazing Derek.” Aaron sighed as he sank into the sofa. After a few minutes, he finally answered his Guide, “Yes there is a lead, it’s tenuous and delicate, but I’m going to tug on it and we’ll see where it goes.” A little while later, there was a knock on Hotch’s office door.
“Hotch, um David Rossi is here.” JJ’s voice called through the door.
“Okay JJ tell him I’ll be ready in a minute.” Morgan stood and redressed while Hotch did the same before pulling Morgan in for one last kiss. “Thanks, Love.” He stroked a hand down Morgan’s cheek before moving away and opening the door. When he did he saw Dave standing there smiling at him.
“Well, I see the honeymoon isn’t over.” Dave tried to hide the sarcasm, but Hotch just narrowed his eyes at his best friend.
“Dave, you didn’t want to wait in your office?” Hotch raised a brow as he glared at the older man.
“Nope, too much fun speculating on just what was going on in here.” He couldn’t quite hide the cheeky grin.
Hotch just shook his head as he led his new lead profiler inside his office. “Derek, it is good to see you again.” Dave held out his hand knowing that it was okay to touch the Guide. Hotch and Morgan had given their permission years prior. “How are you?”
“Good Dave, are you really sure you wanna be back here?” Morgan asked as Dave stepped inside.
“Yes, I do. As crazy as it sounds I do want to be back here.” He moved to take a seat in front of Hotch’s desk.
“Now Aaron why don’t you tell me what you wanted to talk to me about before I officially started.”
“Dave.” Hotch leaned forward on his desk a little, “I don’t know if you ever met Spencer Reid.” He let the rest of the statement hang in the air.
“No, I never did, why?” Dave looked between the two men trying to understand what Hotch was trying to tell him.
“You do know Tara Gideon, right?” Dave closed his eyes a moment thinking about his goddaughter and tried not to get pissed off and emotional.
“Aaron, you know that I do.”
“You don’t know that Dr. Spencer Reid is her Guide?” Hotch glared at him but there was not much heat behind it.
“Tara was very private about her Guide. She was never sure how I would take him. Said that she would introduce me the next time I visited. Then I never got a chance to go back before she disappeared.”
“Spencer is very different than what you’re used to Dave. Gideon,” Hotch wanted to curse under his breath but he took a deep steadying breath instead, “Has deeply hurt the young man. Dave,” Hotch leaned back in his chair and gave his best friend a steadying look, “Jason admitted he had something to do with Tara’s disappearance in a letter he left to Reid. He’s been trying to process but he’s angry. I need you to promise me that you’ll be patient and try to understand. You’re something of a hero to him, and he’s lost so much I don’t want to see him get hurt any more than he’s already been.”
“You somehow think I’m going to do something to hurt this young man? Aaron, give me some credit.” Dave stared at Hotch trying to understand why Hotch would think he’d do anything to hurt someone.
“Dave, I don’t think you would intentionally hurt him, but he can be a little overzealous, and he’s especially vulnerable right now. I’m just asking for some patience with him, that’s all.”
“Okay Aaron, I’ll do my best. And as to Jason having something to do with his own daughter’s disappearance, that is something we are going to have to talk about more later.” Dave got up and tried to keep the shock and anger out of his voice as he made his way to the door.
“Now I’ve got to make a phone call, if we don’t have a case we’ll talk more about this.”
Dave just shook his head in understanding as he left.
“Do you want me here Aaron?” The unit chief looked over at his Guide and considered it for a moment.
“Yeah, stay I don’t know how this call is going to go or how far I’m going to get.” Aaron picked up and dialed someone he knew in the Pentagon. It took two hours and four phone calls later for him to finally connect with Major General Jack O’Neil.
“O’Neil,” the man said abruptly.
“General, I’m SAIC Aaron Hotchner of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. I’m calling because I need to come see you about a delicate matter.”
“Oh Agent Hotchner? And what would that delicate matter be?’” Jack was a little wary about someone in the FBI calling him at the SGC.
“I really don’t want to do this over the phone. Myself, my Guide and another member of my team have been vetted already. We’ve sent the required initial paperwork to your office. I wouldn’t be calling you if this wasn’t important General.”
“Okay, can you give me a small inkling what this may be about?”
“A missing female Sentinel. And that is all I am prepared to say over the phone.”
Jack sat back in his chair and blew out a breath, “Well, how long have they been missing, and why do you think someone in my command is involved?”
“I didn’t say anyone in your command is involved General. And she’s been missing nine years. We just received a lead recently and have wanted to follow-up.”
And you don’t want to give me a name Agent?” Jack asked as Daniel walked by and waved him into his office, putting a hand over the receiver he looked up, “Daniel, do you know anything about a missing female Sentinel? She’s apparently been missing for nine years.”
Daniel’s eyes widened and his face drained of all color as he slowly lowered himself into a chair. “Jack,” he swallowed hard before he spoke again. “Ask if her name is Tara.”
“Daniel?” Jack narrowed his eyes at his Guide.
“Just, please ask him.” Daniel frowned as he looked down at his hands.
Jack took a moment to appraise his Guide before he spoke again, “Agent, Dr. Jackson wants me to ask you if her name is Tara?”
“How do you know that name?” Hotch’s voice hardened as he asked the man on the phone.
“Here why don’t I let you talk to Dr. Jackson, and then I’ll decide if you should come, alright?” Jack kept a steady eye on Daniel as he handed the archeologist the phone.
“Hello, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson, who am I talking to?” Daniel tried to keep his voice neutral.
“This is SAIC Aaron Hotchner of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Dr. Jackson, how do you know Tara’s name?”
“Tara Gideon? She attended CalTech when she was thirteen, came online when she was six when her family was killed by a serial killer. Bonded to her guide at the age of thirteen but it was platonic, lived with a conservator, had her first PhD at fifteen for Cognitive Behavioral Science and was working on concurrent degrees in Archeology and Chemistry?” Daniel closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose as he listened to the other man on the phone.
“Yes, I take it you knew Tara, Dr. Jackson?”
“Yes, I helped encourage her to continue on to get her Archeology doctorate. She was studying the use of chemical compounds in ancient societies. Her dissertation was trying to prove that ancient natural medicines were much more effective than our current chemical filled versions are. I was on the sub-committee that accepted her proposal. Do you have news of her Agent?” Daniel’s heart rate increased as his excitement over the possibility of finding the girl he once mentored.
“No, but we have a lead. I would like to come there and discuss this in person.” Hotch waited patiently on the other end of the line.
Daniel looked at Jack and made a bold decision, “I think you should Agent. We’ll e-mail you with instructions. What is the quickest you can be here?”
“Assuming you are in Colorado like the letter I have says, we can be there in three days.” Hotch would put aside any cases they had, this was far too important.
“Okay, I will get that e-mail to you this afternoon. See you in three days, Agent.” Daniel handed Jack back the phone.
“Daniel, what was that?” Jack lifted his eyebrows at the Doctor.
“I,” Daniel got up out of the chair, “I can’t right now Jack. I,” He frowned as he walked towards the door, “I will explain later.” He walked back to the lab he shared with Sam and sat there stunned.
“Daniel?” Sam walked over and leaned into her best friend as she tried to help steady him, “What’s wrong?”
“A name I haven’t heard in years.” He frowned and wished for not for the first time, his glasses.
“Tell me,” she held his face in her hands as she made him look at her. Lucky for them Jack wasn’t the jealous type. He knew how close Daniel and Sam were. He also knew she often wished she was a Sentinel herself.
“When I was doing some mentoring while in California I met a young woman named Tara Gideon. She was going to CalTech and she was already on-line. She’s a Sentinel.” Sam’s eyes widened upon hearing that. Female Sentinels were rare, but she didn’t voice her thoughts because she could tell Daniel had needed to talk. “She already had a Guide. His name is Spencer and at thirteen, they already had a very profound bond-” Sam blinked at him and stopped him.
“Wait, thirteen? They were already in college at thirteen?”
“Yeah,” He smiled softly thinking of the two young teens. “To say they are smart is an understatement. Tara already had her Ph.D. in Cognitive Behavioral Science. She also had ambitions to get Ph.D.’s in Chemistry and Archeology. She wanted to study ancient medicinal practices. Her dissertation, which would combine both degrees was quite brilliant.” Daniel got up and started pacing as he continued to tell Sam the story of Spencer and Tara.
“She disappeared when she turned seventeen. No one has been able to find her in nine years. Sam. Spencer was…” He couldn’t put into words the state that the young Guide had been in. “It was the first time I met John Sheppard. He’s Spencer’s older brother. He tried hard to take care of Spencer, but it was painful to watch and so I left. I stopped looking, Sam. How could I do that?” he frowned as guilt crept up and started to take hold.
“Daniel, you had responsibilities here, remember? Did they find her?”
“I don’t know. That phone call was Spencer’s boss. They’re coming here because they said they had a clue to where she is, maybe.” He huffed out a breath as he collapsed in a chair.
Sam came up and wrapped her arms around him comforting him. She didn’t know what to say as a part of her knew what kind of torture it must have been for the young man.
“She was important to you wasn’t she?”
“I wanted to take them on that dig, you know the one in the Andes just after I came back from Abydos? She would have loved it.” He closed his eyes as he held his friend close. He had a feeling that he wasn’t going to like whatever it was that Spencer was going to tell him.
It was late at night on Atlantis and Tara was restless. She got up and put on the light shirt and pants that Teyla had given to her and left the isolation room. She had slowly been coming down from her feral state, her feelings of safety above all helping her. The Guides Miko and Jennifer had been coming to visit her every day to see how she was doing, and each time they helped her come down a little more. No one wanted to do this quickly, she knew the dangers as well, but she still felt protective about herself and her mind was still in chaos.
Silently she moved through the city that had been quietly buzzing in the back of her mind ever since she arrived. She was surprised to realize that it wasn’t unpleasant, it was nice, comforting almost. It was like the city was also trying to help her, to heal and soothe her as well. Sometime later, she found herself on the pier that she had seen many of the Marines and civilians use to dive off into one of the pools that surrounded the city. She walked to the edge, toes hanging off and stood looking out at the dark water. She admitted to herself days ago that she was tempted to fall in and let the water overtake her. The pain that she had held back for so long was overwhelming as she stood at the edge wishing for her Guide. Spencer meant the whole world to her, and he was out there billions of light years away. For all this time she had been running, dialing the gate always hoping that the one she would walk through was home.
When the team from the city had landed on the same planet as her, and she saw Rodney, and then John hope had bloomed in her heart. But, when Rodney said that Spencer wasn’t with them, her world shattered yet again, and it felt like she wanted to die. The pain was sometimes overwhelming. She watched the ripples in the water and became fascinated by how different it was to Earth’s waters. She was so focused on wanting to just jump in she didn’t feel anyone come up next to her.
“I know how you feel little one.” The deep voice behind her startled her out of the zone out she was well on her way to having.
“Hurts, here.” She patted her heart as she grabbed onto the necklace she was never without.
Ronon moved up to her and engulfed her in his arms, “I know and I know you have been alone for too long. But, you are no longer alone.” She rested her head on the large man’s chest willing herself not to cry.
She pulled back from him and took off her necklace she showed him the ring. “Pen going to marry me,” He looked inside at the inscription forever, till the end of time.
“Then you stay strong and do not do this.” He put the necklace back around her neck, “Hold onto this and believe that your people will find a way back.”
“Hard, every day, hard.” She moved away as she stood at the edge of the pier again looking out across the water. Wrapping her arms around her waist she sat down on the edge with her legs pulled up to her chest. Ronon squeezed her shoulder then continued his walk of the city.
She was still there in the morning, having stayed out all night unable to sleep. She felt it when John came to sit beside her. He didn’t say anything as he let his legs dangle off the side of the pier. He knew from dialing into her that she was suicidal, which was unusual for a Sentinel, especially female Sentinels. He couldn’t imagine the pain she was in that brought her to this edge, but he vowed to keep her safe, to bring her back to herself, so that when they do finally dial earth either she goes through, or Spencer comes to her. He wasn’t sure which and he wasn’t sure how he was going to make it happen, but he was. After a while he took a sideways glance at her, watching her as she looked out towards the mainland.
“How would you like me to take you out in a Jumper? I can show you the mainland, maybe even stop at the Athosian settlement.” He looked straight ahead wondering if she was going to acknowledge him.
She rested her head on her legs but shifted herself so she was looking at him, studying him. When her cougar came out to bump up against him she couldn’t quite keep the smile off her face.
“Okay.” Was all she said as she slowly got up and walked back towards her room. She stopped at the infirmary, a little hesitant to go in. She was still shy around many of the people on Atlantis even though they had all been good to her and welcomed her.
“Tara, hey how are you feeling?” Jennifer’s smile put her at ease as she walked in.
“Better, thank you,” Jennifer smiled even wider. Tara’s speech was getting better every day. John and Rodney were of the belief that the years of isolation along with her blown senses had ruined any sense of normalcy for her.
“Is there something you need Tara?” The Doctor pulled her inside and sat her down near her desk.
Tara was searching for the word she wanted, “B-brush,” She ran her fingers through her hair, “Cut hair first?” She hadn’t much cared for how she looked while on the run but now that she was settled the unruly long hair was bothering her.
“Oh god, Tara we didn’t even think.” Jennifer shook her head as she got up and called for Miko. At first, Rodney was put out that one of his scientists was running out on him but when she said that Jennifer asked her to go to the infirmary to see Tara, he immediately changed his mind, for the young woman he would tolerate pretty much anything.
“Dr. Keller, you wanted to see me?”
“Miko it seems Tara wants her hair cut.” The doctor smiled and ran her fingers through the young woman’s hair.
“Of course, come on.” Miko excitedly pulled Tara along, taking her to her own quarters. “Okay Tara, will you trust me?” Tara looked up at the petite woman and shyly shook her head yes. There had been a growing something between her and Miko over the last day or so but in her current state of mind Tara couldn’t understand what it was.
About an hour later Tara came out of Miko’s room not only with shorter hair but new clothes as well. When she met John in the Jumper bay he took in her appearance and smiled wide.
“Well, don’t you look amazing,” He walked up and affectionately tugged on her hair in an old familiar gesture. It put a smile on her face and John melted. He wanted his brother’s Sentinel happy and he would do anything to try to make sure she was.
“Thank you.” She had her pack with her hoping she might trade some of the things she had in there.
“Come on, I’ll show you the mainland, then we’ll stop by the settlement.” John opened the jumper and she slipped inside curling up on the co-pilot’s chair. Soon they were on their way.
“We have finalized the plans for the spirit walk. We scouted the planet you told us about and you were right, the Derrians were really great people. We made some good trades with them and we have a tentative trade agreement in place. They have a grain that the botanists think will be a good wheat substitute.”
“Helped me once.” Tara looked down at her leg, “Broke leg, healer helped me fix.” She tapped on her right leg.
“You’re talking better.” He gave her a crooked smile. “Ah kid, how have you survived so long like this?”
She closed her eyes and once again curled her fingers around the ring she wore around her neck, “For Pen, always for Pen,” her voice was low as she frowned, looking out the window.
“I wish I knew how to help ease your pain, Tara. I wanted to stay and help him, but his pain and grief were too much. His emotions almost broke through my shields. I will always regret leaving him.” She lightly touched his arm and he felt as if she was telling him that it was okay.
John gently flew the Jumper around the mainland watching the feral as she leaned forward, a smile on her face as she relished in the beautiful land before her. It wasn’t long till John landed near the Athosian settlement.
“Come on, I think you’ll like these people.” They left the Jumper and Tara clutched the bag close to her as they walked towards the village.
“Sheppard, Teyla did not say that you were coming,” A large man came out to greet the two of them.
“It was a last minute decision. Halling, I’d like you to meet Tara. Tara, this is Halling, leader of the Athosians,” Tara held out a hand in greeting. Halling smiled as he took it.
“It is good to meet you, Tara. Come we are preparing an afternoon meal. You are welcome to join us,” Halling walked back towards the large encampment and Tara and John followed quickly after him.
Tara looked at John for guidance. He gently grabbed her elbow and walked her over to the group the calm smiles helped to set her at ease. When they made it to the village Tara was assaulted by the sights, smells, and sounds of the bustling village. She stepped back a moment, ready to bolt from all the stimulus.
“Hey, hey dial it back. I know this is all new, they aren’t going to hurt you. Pull back on your senses.” John helped to walk the girl through each dial, and while he wasn’t a Guide, he knew enough to help bring her back to her currently normal levels.
“Better,” she breathed deep, frustration flowed from her in waves.
“I know you’re frustrated kiddo, but it’s going to take time, remember?” She nodded her head and slowly moved forward towards the tables that were laden with food and drink.
Tara relaxed around the Althosians but she opted to let the conversation flow around her. Saying few words, but enjoying the afternoon with these happy and generous people. Trouble came when one of the children, who was too curious for their own good, dumped out Tara’s pack on the ground.
“Kayla,” Halling yelled at the little girl, “That is not how we treat our guest, now put everything back and give it back to Tara.” The little girl, thoroughly chastised, put all the items back in the bag and handed the pack to the Sentinel.
“I’m sorry.” The girl looked like she wanted to cry.
Tara smiled at her antics and just ran a finger down her nose, “It is okay.” She shook her head as she took the pack and started to go through it. When she didn’t see the book she got a panicked look on her face.
“Kayla, where book?” She looked around the tables with that panicked look to her face.
“Tara, what’s wrong?” John looked at the girl worried that something was going to push her over the edge one way or another.
“Book Pen gave, gone.” She jumped up from the table and started to go from person to person as her anger and fear started to rise.
“Okay, Tara you need to calm down.” John had the forethought to grab one of the tranquilizer guns. He wasn’t stupid, he knew that anything could set her off and he wanted to be ready if or when it happened.
“NO,” She yelled as she frantically went around searching everyone, “Sheppard, where book?” She growled low in her throat.
“Halling, you better tell whoever picked up the book to give it back to her.” John reached for the tranq gun slowly, just in case things turned even uglier.
Halling nodded and yelled at the group for the person to come forward. When a young man finally came forward and tentatively held out the book to Tara she growled dangerously low in her throat and pounced on him knocking him to the ground. Ripping the book out of his hand her face inches from his she hissed, “Mine.”
“I, I’m sorry. It just looked interesting,” The youth was scared to death of the woman on top of him.
A dark haze clouded her mind as she sat up pulling the youth with her by the shirt. John felt her mind snap and he had no choice but to hit her with a tranq dart. Her head spun and she looked up at the Alpha with such hurt and betrayal on her face but it couldn’t be helped, he couldn’t let a feral Sentinel loose on these people. When she staggered to her feet he shot her again, she staggered back then one last dart finally took her down.
John breathed a sigh of relief because he wasn’t sure if he would have been able to hit her for a fourth time.
“I am so sorry Halling. She was doing so much better I thought-“ He was cut off by Halling laying a hand on his arm.
“You have nothing to be sorry for Sheppard. Take your Sentinel home and care for her.” He may not have been a Sentinel himself but he was sensitive. He felt the turmoil in the young woman and could tell that she didn’t really mean the things she was doing.
“Again, I apologize. I should have waited till she was better,” If she ever gets better. He thought to himself. Picking her up and cradling her in his arms he walked back to the Jumper and laid her down in the back. The little girl Kayla had tagged along and carried Tara’s bag.
“Thank you, Kayla,” John ruffled her hair which made the little girl smile as she ran back to the village. With a heavy heart, John made his way back to the city.
After landing, John gathered Tara in his arms and carried her into the infirmary.
“What the hell happened?” Jennifer was immediately at their side.
“I took her in a Jumper to show her the mainland. We stopped at the Athosian village, they were sharing their meal with us. She was doing really well till one of the children dumped out her pack. Halling got the child to put everything back,” John felt when Rodney came into the room, his Guide was attuned to the girl so much he knew when she was hurting. When he looked outside every Sentinel on the city had gathered. John just chuckled slightly at how protective his pride had become of each other.
“She carries around a book that her Guide had given her on her fifteenth birthday. It wasn’t in the pack when she looked through it,” John started pacing as he rubbed the back of his neck, “My fault, I thought she was ready…”
“She fell back into a feral state didn’t she?” Jennifer was checking her vitals as she questioned her Alpha.
“Yeah, I had to tranq her. Christ, it took three darts to bring her down. No one got hurt, thank god.” He was pacing back and forth as guilt crept up in him. Rodney was right there by his side pulling him in and wrapping his arms around his Sentinel.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, John. This is just going to take work.” Rodney was pulled in closer sighing as he watched Tara sleep.
“Mer, we may have to face the possibility that she may be just too damaged.” He didn’t want to consider the possibility that they would have to lock her up. His heart broke at the possibility that Spencer might never get the chance to be with her again.
“No, John no we are not doing that. We can’t give up on her.” Rodney didn’t fight his Sentinel too hard on much of anything but this, this he would fight tooth and nail on.
“Okay, Okay we’ll keep trying.” He kissed Rodney needing that grounding for himself as well.
“All her vitals are good. I’m taking another blood sample then you should get her back to her quarters. The isolation room will be the best thing for her. Let her sleep off the tranquilizers. I’d put her here, but I think familiar surroundings might be better for her at this point.” Jennifer did a few more tests then felt confident releasing her to John’s care.
Picking up the girl he walked her back to her room and got her settled in. He dialed into her heartbeat and found it steady, and when her breathing evened out he slowly walked back out of the room and headed towards his own.
He let Rodney comfort him trying not to feel guilty for putting the young woman in the situation in the first place. It was hours before Rodney was able to help his Sentinel settle and finally able to fall asleep.
John wasn’t sure what woke him but he felt something was off. He quickly mentally checked off all the heartbeats of everyone in the city. That was when he found it, a heartbeat that was too slow, way too slow for his liking and slowing even more by every second. He jumped out of bed and threw on some pants then ran as fast as he could towards the isolation rooms. When he burst into Tara’s the sight that met him actually terrified him.
“Jennifer, medical emergency Isolation room three,“ He yelled into the comm. He grabbed the sheet off the bed and quickly cut them into strips and wrapped them around Tara’s wrists.
“Sheppard.” Ronon and Lorne were there they each probably felt the girl in distress, “What can we do?”
“She’s lost a lot of blood. Where the hell did she get a weapon?” He shouted at the group. Lorne came into the room and saw the pack lying on the floor then saw the crude knife laying off the side. Carefully picking it up he showed it to John.
“John, look.” He knew Rodney would know by now and when he felt his Guide run into the room he just looked up at him not knowing what to say.
“No, no please tell me she didn’t.” Rodney dropped to his knees and cradled the girl’s head in his lap.
“She’s still alive Mer, okay? She’s still alive,” Jennifer burst into the room and immediately shoved everyone except John out. She went right to work on Tara using some of the ancient tech to stabilize her.
“I shouldn’t have let her go, I should have put her in an Iso room in the med lab, dammit I was stupid,” Dr. Kellar muttered to herself as she worked on the girl.
It did not take long before two of her assistants wheeled a gurney into the room and lifted Tara onto it. They rushed her to the infirmary as Jennifer continued to get her stabilized.
John, Ronon, Lorne and Rodney paced furiously outside of the room waiting to hear from the doctor. John and Ronon could tell that Tara’s heart was stable, it was slower than normal, but no longer fading.
“I thought Sentinels weren’t suicidal,” Elizabeth had been woken up by the alarms, and came to stand with the rest of the group. She had quickly learned what happened and was worried for John and Rodney as well as the young girl currently fighting her own psyche.
“Normally, you’d be right. But her mind, her very soul is in turmoil and has been, I think, for years. She was ripped away from her Guide at seventeen years old, Elizabeth. Think of what that would do to you if you were taken from Radek and put so far away there was no chance of you finding him. Then run on pure instinct.” John took a deep breath, “She’s dealing with actually staying in one place and feeling safe for the first time in years. She’s unofficially been taken in by the pride and I’m sure that is also screwing with her senses. It’s too much all at once and no one here has ever dealt with something like this.”
“John, what if we have Dr. Heightmeyer start working with her?”
“Let’s let her sleep for tonight, then maybe tomorrow we can try something different.” John moved everyone out of the room letting Tara sleep, hoping tomorrow would be a better day.