"Colonel Sheppard, can I help you?"
"You can give Major Lorne permission to use the gym."
"Ummm, no. I can't believe you'd even want to spar with him after the beating he took!"
John sighed. "I don't want to get in the ring with him, Doc. He needs an outlet for the anger he's feeling. A few rounds with a punching bag would help."
Carson finished checking the supply cabinet and turned to face Sheppard. "Have him come in for a scan and if everything is looking good I'll okay a modicum of physical activity."
Sheppard nodded. "Thanks, Doc."
Two hours later, Evan was in the gym, hands wrapped hitting the bag hard. Rage and guilt poured off of him as thick as the sweat dripping from his body. People gave the area around the bag a wide berth not wanting to be even a blip on his radar although he knew he was being discreetly babysat to ensure he didn't re-injure healing ribs.
Evan flicked a heated glare up at whoever decided to hover only to discover his CO leaning against the wall studying him. "Sir," he acknowledged his presence knowing it came out kind of snarly but at the moment not exactly caring.
Sheppard raised an eyebrow but said nothing about the attitude. Evan Lorne was usually unflappable – even tempered, cool under pressure even at times showing a wry humor. He knew how truly over the edge Lorne was at the moment. John tried to imagine having his loved one raped in front of him and failed. He did know he'd be killing furious. "That helping," he nodded toward the much abused bag.
Evan gave a short, negative shake before landing several more vicious blows to the bag.
"Well," Sheppard drawled, "I'm not allowed to spar with you but I will hold the paddles if you want to actually hit someone."
Evan stopped pounding the bag and huffed. "Sir."
Sheppard glanced around the room. "Clear the room," he snapped and people headed immediately for the door. He turned to Lorne as soon as they were alone.
"I won't pretend to understand what you're going through, Evan but you told Kate you'd love to hang a psychologist from the ceiling and beat them to within an inch of their life."
"Someone failed us." Evan hissed in a low, furious voice. "They failed and Re and Laura paid for it."
"I know." John agreed quietly.
"You don't know!" Evan shouted then silently glared at him when Sheppard crossed his arms and regarded him thoughtfully.
"Say what's on your mind. Forget rank. Forget I'm your CO. Man to man – it stays in here."
Evan paced away with a strangled sound. "Did she tell you? What Devereaux did to them?"
"No. I know they were raped," John replied his own anger leeching into his voice.
Evan whirled back and threw a punch into the bag that sent it swinging wildly. He winced at the complaint of his healing ribs. "He'd beat them until they quit fighting then drag them over to me and chain them to the floor at my feet."
John sucked in a deep breath. "Evan…"
"Eight days! Eight times. Don't give me platitudes or lectures on being the better man." Evan growled viciously.
"I wasn't," John retorted just as harshly. He pulled the padded paddles on. "Come on. You need to get some of it out of your system before you blow."
Evan's face settled into harsh lines as he flung all his aggression into hitting the paddles. He kept seeing the gate guards lying pale and still on the floor, Chuck's worried gaze, Reanna's fury and her determination as well as her pain, Laura's shock and humiliation layered with pain and fear. He kept feeling his own helplessness. Guilt ate at him every time she flinched from him at night.
John was fairly certain that Evan wasn't aware that he was vocalizing as he landed blows hard enough that John was going to have to soak his hands later and would still probably feel it tomorrow.
"People died and were tortured and raped because we insulted his manhood on Selatz."
John staggered under the rain of blows. He grit his teeth and firmed his stance. "Not your fault."
"Then whose is it?" Evan roared. He threw a punch that had John wincing and wondering if he'd need a scan on that hand.
"I knew he was a chauvinist. I knew he'd hate that mission and have difficulty with it. I took him anyway so I'd have a reason not to put him on my team." Evan bent over, hands propped on knees. "I knew it would piss him off."
Knowing that even with the tape Evan's knuckles were going to be bruised John dropped the paddles ending the session. "We all go on missions we find difficult. I send people out all the time to do things they'll find personally distasteful. I expect them to suck it up and do their job."
"You don't bait wack-jobs."
John snorted. "Please. Koyla, Cowen, Michael not to mention various priests, village elders…"
"I get it, Sir."
John stepped into Evan's personal space and grabbed his shoulders. "Did you know before hand that he was unbalanced?"
"Did you have any clue he'd react like he did?
"Exactly. Not. Your. Fault." John took a deep breath. "I should have been here."
"No. Not your fault. You had no way of knowing."
"Neither did you."
They stared into each other's eyes seeing their guilt reflected back at them. It was so much harder to forgive themselves for failing to protect those under their care.
"Yes, Sir." Evan finally replied with a hurting sigh.
John studied his 2IC for a long moment before nodding and letting him go. "Now we both go to the infirmary and get scans. I'm not sure you didn't break my hand."
Evan snorted. "Don't be a wuss….Sir." He headed for the door.
John glared at his back a moment before following him out. The anger was still there and the guilt. John knew from experience that it would take a while for it to fade but it was slightly less intense now.
"And for the record," he said as they strolled down the hall, "I want to go kick a psychologist's ass too."
Evan glanced at his CO in surprise. He noted the helpless fury in the colonel and suddenly didn't feel so isolated in his rage. "Yes, sir."
It was another three weeks before a team came through the gate with a grin on their faces. After the quick debrief, Elizabeth called Reanna to the control room.
"I think we've located your home world." Elizabeth said with a smile.
Reanna stared at her for a moment then looked over at the team grinning at her. "Are you sure?"
"Well, there's a Nicolette that says she had a sister named Reanna…"
Reanna laughed happily and hugged Lt. Talbot. "My sister! Thank you!" She stepped back. "I must tell Evan!" She rushed from the room.
She ran through the halls happiness flooding her. Her sister! She thought never to see her again. She dodged surprised personnel and skidded around corners. She jittered in the transporter and was out like a shot as soon as the doors slid open.
"Evan!" Reanna called out as she ran into the gym.
Evan turned in time to have Re leap into his arms. He arms automatically wrapped around her. "Re? What's wrong?"
"They found her," she crowed. "They found her!"
"Nicolette," Re grinned at him.
"Your sister?" Evan took in the shining countenance of his fiancé. Oh and didn't his chest swell whenever he thought of that. They had been putting off the wedding until all the gate addresses had been checked out.
"Yes," she shouted gleefully. "They found her and she remembers me and I want to go see her now."
Evan chuckled and set her down on her feet with only a slight twinge from his ribs. "Can I get a shower and permission from the colonel first?"
Re clutched his shirt excitedly. "Yes. You shower now. I will find John." She pressed a quick kiss to his smiling mouth and was out of the gym like a shot.
"Yeah, sir. You got your orders. Shower. Now." The men called out good naturedly ribbing him.
Evan mock glared at them. "You tell her to postpone meeting her sister she hasn't seen since she's been about ten."
"Go, sir!" Several hands pushed him toward the door.
Evan laughed and headed to his quarters.
"Major Lorne." Sheppard called him over the radio.
"I've been informed that we have an impromptu mission."
"Yes, sir. With your permission, sir."
Sheppard chuckled. "I'm not dumb enough to tell her she can't reunite with her sister. Conference room in thirty to get debriefed by Talbot then we're a go."
Evan jogged to his room and showered quickly. Reanna was pacing in their rooms when he came out toweling his hair. He watched her nervous pacing, amused.
Re glanced over at him. "What if she does not like me?"
"She'll like you."
"I have changed. I am not her little sister anymore."
"And she isn't your young, just got married older sister. You've both grown, changed, matured." He crossed over to her and pulled her into his embrace. "She'll love you. She'll be ecstatic to be reunited again after thinking you've been dead all these years."
Reanna paced along the conference room wall ignoring everyone's tolerant looks as Lt. Talbot spoke.
"It's comparative to an ancient feudal society. There's one family that's prosperous and everyone is answerable to them. The head of the family is called The Gerent. They're pretty much judge and jury. Everyone else in the village and outlying areas pays tithes."
"Did you speak to The Gerent?"
"No, Ma'am. We strolled into the village, made nice, said we had a friend looking for her sister that she hadn't seen in ages. We settled at the inn for a meal. We were there an hour or so when a man came in and sat down with us. He asked several questions then finally had us follow him home."
"Can we go?" Reanna exclaimed impatiently.
"Re," Evan reached for her and pulled her to him.
She huffed as she settled into his lap. "I just want to see my sister," she muttered sadly.
"I know, baby. We need to know what we're walking into. These people tossed you onto Jurassic at ten years old."
Re sighed and nodded.
"Your sister was disbelieving at first then she began crying."
Every man in the room grimaced.
"She's believed you all to be dead."
"No one survives being sent to that planet. It is what we are taught. No one knows the dialer was broken." She looked down at her hands. "Does she…? Maybe she doesn't want…"
"She wants to see you." Lt. Talbot said firmly. "She asked a lot of questions."
The men all groaned in sympathy.
"I told her you were well." He flicked a glance at Evan. "And getting married. I got grilled on your husband-to-be. Told her he was one of the best men I know."
Evan flushed slightly.
Lt. Talbot smirked slightly then got serious again. "Her husband did warn though that The Gerent may not be happy about your return. True it was your father and you were just ten but he didn't want you caught by surprise."
"I believe they will be surprised if they try to harm me." Reanna said fiercely.
Evan pressed a kiss to her temple. "Yes, they will be."
"I want Colonel Sheppard's team to go with you two."
"To visit my sister?"
"To keep you safe – just in case."
Reanna caught the intensity in Evan's voice and expression. She laid a gentle palm to his face. "Okay. Now can we go?"
Evan grinned at the plaintive tone. "Yes."
John stood up. "Gear up."