Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate Atlantis. If I did, do you think it would be cancelled?
A/N: I am not a doctor, nor am I a psychologist. Xxxx means change in viewpoint. Please enjoy! (and review ) This chapter should answer some questions, but the story is long from finished :)
Beta'd by XX-Samantha-XX and Iratus (bunches of hugs to you dears)
Strides long and determined, the leader of the expedition entered the briefing room, late for her own meeting she called to order.
"You're late." was the first thing spoken to her by Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard sitting slouched at the table. Flanking him were his two most loyal members of his team, Teyla Emmagen and Ronon Dex. The man pacing in the corner on his data-pad bounced of the usual Dr. McKay with too much caffeine coursing through his veins.
"I know, and I apologize for my tardiness." Dr. Elizabeth Weir didn't offer an explanation, she didn't feel obliged to. "Now the real matter we're here."
The scientist paused long enough to catch eye contact with his superior, and then back down at whatever he was fiddling with. The door slid open and Dr. Carson Beckett joined them.
"Sorry," he began, but when he caught the look in her eye, he became silent.
"What is your diagnosis of her?" her business tone hid her emotions from it all, displaying her efficiency as leader.
"Och, she's a troubled girl. From what I can tell, her entire mind, minus the subconscious of course, has been wiped. She has all of her motor functions and can obviously breathe for herself and such."
"She's got great reflexes." Interjected Col. Sheppard with a nod of his head.
"So I've been told. How?" Her stare settled on the anxious pacemaker in the corner.
"Well, we, uh, we don't really know. When we found her, she was already unconscious and we didn't have the time to collect the necessary data we needed." The scientist shot a glare at his team leader.
"We couldn't risk it. Infiltrating the lab took longer than anticipated and the window we had was closing."
"We'll never know, now will we? And the brains of it all doesn't have the information to fix it." Snapped McKay with his shrill voice.
"I'm sorry." The colonel's eyes narrowed.
"Alright everyone." Interrupted the leader, refereeing once again. "What do we know? From the beginning."
"The kidnap attempt occurred off world. The target was," the scientist waved his bandaged hand, "Dr. McKay. They only managed to kidnap his assistant at the time. The natives of the world we were visiting had seemed agreeable at the time, but there was a bounty on all Lantian personnel that we were unaware of. We traced, what is it called?" The Athosian leader glanced at the colonel who responded, "Paper trail."
"Which we found led us to yet another lab of Michael's." concluded Teyla
"She was unconscious when you found her?" asked Weir.
"Which we already said." bit out McKay.
"So, the memory loss occurred before all this, what caused it?"
Dr. Beckett spoke up, "I don't think we could ever know unless she remembers herself, which could quite possibly never happen. She's lost more than her memory; her whole mind has been reset."
"Like a computer that's screwed up. Reset to its original settings." The scientist surmised.
"Which is why she can't talk or understand." filled in the colonel, "But how can she walk? How far back is the reset status?"
"I've got a theory of that. There was a life support machine there. Michael either accidentally erased it, or was trying to retrain her and the brainwashing went wrong. She did have a heavy dose of tranquilizers in her system." McKay rambled on.
"Can we fix her?" Sheppard asked, trying to hide the guilt filling his face.
"We will certainly try." Beckett responded.
"Is she a risk?" Weir asked the one question no one wanted to ask.
"To Atlantis? No, only to herself, and anyone who frightens her into a corner." Beckett shot a look at Sheppard, who shrugged his shoulders in innocence.
"Paging Dr. Beckett to infirmary, stat." Announced over the comm. system.
Dr. Weir watched as the entire team emptied out of the room in seconds.
Colonel Sheppard paced outside the room, the scene he had seen before Beckett had closed the door had been heart wrenching, even for a military man. She had been sitting in the fetal position, rocking and clutching her head with an intense grip, as the tears streamed down her face. Her eyes still had that lost and confused daze look in them, and it was his fault.
He remembered how she had approached him in her quiet way and said something wasn't right about the people they were visiting. He had brushed aside her concerns as her lack of experience and nerves talking but within an hour McKay and she had disappeared. Racing to the gate to cut them off, they only managed to rescue him, through measures that McKay thought had been extreme. Getting shot with a wraith stunner to stop him in his tracks had been the only way to recover him.
A smile crept across his face as he remembered McKay griping about needing an assistant, but having burned his fingertips, he needed someone to be his hands. A quiet girl had been perfect, less talk equaled less arguments. But she was a smart as a whip. Sheppard had looked into her file since the disappearance. She had always been at the top of every class. How she found herself in the SGC was a story unto itself.
She never afforded a university. Her source of higher education had been the community college in Southern Oregon and hadn't planned on pursuing any sort of job in the scientific world. She just so happened to get talked into taking a physics class and ended up writing a report on quantum mechanics that impressed the teacher enough to enter it in the year end scientific contest without her knowledge. Upon winning, much to her shock, an Air Force colonel who happened to be there with her son, approached her regarding getting a higher education. A few strings pulled here and there and a scholarship, it led her all the way to the SGC.
And now, her mind was wiped clean.
Screams brought John back to the present from his reveries. The door slid open and she came running out right into him. Her eyes went wide with shock, and he braced himself for the meltdown to follow. He sensed recognition in her face, and then she backed away, but without the sheer terror of before.
"It's alright. We want to help. Help." He said slowly, starting to raise he hands when she flinched. He dropped them back down to his sides, watching as she stood her ground studying him. He saw that she had dropped weight, almost to the point of a gaunt malnourishment. Her skin had an unhealthy paleness to it, and her long brown hair was limp and stuck to her neck and forehead, it looking as if it hadn't been brushed in days.
"Help." He repeated, watching as her head tilted slightly, her mind seemingly trying to put the pieces together, pulling all the right files. Someone shifted behind him, from her flinch and the heaviness of the sound, Sheppard guessed Ronon was growing restless.
"Joh…" she started.
The soldier in front of her responded to her attempt at communication. Frustration built inside of her as she couldn't recall any other words or sounds to say. She backed away slightly more, still sorting through the faded images in her head, figuring if this man was good or bad. Something inside told her he was good, but the memory of him killing was too strong just to forget. Ironic how that was when she couldn't figure anything out, she thought to herself. Coherent notions started compiling and she felt somewhat lucid since her first escapade back here, wherever here was. She knew life started before waking in the bed in the room where the doctor tended, but for her, it was the beginning. Remembering she was still standing in front of the four humans there, she slowly walked backwards, facing them the entire time, and into the side ward toward her bed. The doctor, she knew the word was his title, but was unsure what it meant, stood waiting beside the bed. Suddenly feeling very immature and, the term wouldn't come to her. Ignorance frustrated her as she sat down on the bed. She knew deep inside that she wasn't right, it was apparent from the beginning to her, but she didn't know how to fix herself. Anger welled up and she slammed her hand down on the bed.
The doctor hurried over, and said a few words. She couldn't decipher anything but the tone of concern in his voice. Unable to communicate what she was going through, she pulled away from him, lay down, and pulled the covers up over her shoulders to her neck, trying to block out the desperation filling every part inside of her. Closing her eyes, she tried to shut out the chaotic world around her, to escape to a place of safety, but it wouldn't come. She had no place to vanish into; the only place she knew was this hellhole. A shift of weight from one foot to the other drew her out of the covers.
The man from before stood there outside the doorway, the others still hovering in the background. The very large man seemed uncomfortable by it all, and she actually felt sorry for him, wanting to let him know she was ok and he didn't have to hang around. The heavy set man, he wasn't fit, but not fat, had a nervous tick that seemed familiar to her, but she couldn't place it. The woman with her kind eyes and smile that set ones at ease had a worried look of a mother. They were all listening to the hushed conversation of the doctor. But at the forefront, standing watch was the man that had terrified her from before. He grinned at her when he noticed her looking at them. Walking over, he stood near her bed. She watched every motion his hands made, before looking up into his face. He was saying something, and a feeling of ease came from staring at his face. Something was stirring in her memory that he would keep her safe.
John. That sound uttered itself in her mind over and over again. It was more than a title and she knew it meant him. She tried to say it again, but telling her tongue to grasp the sense of forming the syllables made her mouth feel full of fluff.
He put his hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently and reassuringly. He continued to talk to her, and she caught an expression that sent a shiver up her spine as it triggered an entire release of images and memories overloading her senses. She let out a moan as she pressed her temples, trying to slow the input process. He leaned down as the others rushed in, but she could barely acknowledge them.
Images of horrible creatures from her nightmare earlier came flashing by, along with one who looked different from the rest, more human. There were a lot of him and his face bursting into mind, haunting her with his scowl. Hands bound, feet immobilized, she was incapable of defending herself. Tubes, darkness, monsters lurking in shadows. Losing her strength, feeling changes, questions. Interrogation. He came at her with needles, many times. Scars and tears, her own screams plaguing herself, echoing in her mind.
Shouts brought her out of her almost hypnotic state and they were pulling her hands away from her face. Blood dripped off her fingertips, her blood drawn up by digging her nails into the sides of her head. Her whole body went rigid, fighting the restraining arms holding her down. She had to get away, had to flee from the one holding her captive.
"Easy, easy." that small word broke through the barrier built up in her mind, and she ceased struggling to stare up at the petrified faces above her.
"ok." she whispered back, not knowing what it meant, but as a knee jerk response.
"Sheppard." squawked McKay, his face finally matching a name that came floating into her mind. They communicated something amongst themselves that she could still not understand, but the hopelessness from before was waning. John held her hand tight, and asked her a question. Concentrating hard, she ran all the sounds through her mind.
"Do you understand me?" he asked again, "Try hard Kate."
Kate. Her identity was all bottled up with that simple word. A tear slipped down her cheek as mental pain tore her up, she couldn't handle it all. She just wanted sleep, sleep away all her troubles. Pulling aside from everyone, she shrugged down into the blankets, and watched as Dr. Beckett shooed them all away. By the time he turned around, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
They all stood there solemnly, trying to process what had just progressed in front of them moments ago.
"One moment, she's calm and seems like she's trying to remember, then she goes haywire and flips out, driving her nails into her skull. How are we ever supposed to repair that?" McKay complained, "I mean, she needs real help. More than you can provide." He nodded at Beckett.
"Aye, I don't know if anyone is qualified to fix Michael's messes, but she shouldn't go to earth, not yet. Not until we know what happened." Beckett countered.
"But you said yourself Doc, we might never know if she can't remember." Sheppard litigated.
"That response we just saw in there was her remembering, and whatever it was, it was traumatizing, which is what might be part of why this is being drawn out so long. Her mind is building walls to protect itself from the hurt it went through, but at the same time, it seems she..." the doctor trailed off as Dr. Weir entered the room.
"Meeting without me?" She chastised gently, but shooting a pointed look at Col. Sheppard that few missed.
"Sorry, we just left her to sleep. We did not have a chance to meet up with you yet." Teyla interjected before Sheppard could retort something snide.
"Any progress?" She raised her eyebrows with a look of optimism.
"She remembered his name." McKay jabbed his thumb in Sheppard's direction.
"She also said ok. For not understanding English, she sure got down the important stuff." John smirked over at McKay.
"I don't know why she remembered yours first, when we obviously spent more time together with her being my assistant and all. You barely even acknowledged her except to dismiss her." protested McKay
"Low, Rodney." growled back Sheppard.
"I'm sorry, but why..."
"Enough." Elizabeth broke in. "She's remembering?"
Beckett started, "Yes, and I think it's coming back fast. We'll have to be ready to give her the moral support to cope with all the trauma she went through."
"She shoved her nails in far enough to draw blood. She'll need some help from Dr. Heightmeyer, as soon as she can communicate anything." Sheppard concluded.
"What if she drew?" Ronon's gruff voice interrupted everyone and they all turned to look at him.
"Drew?" McKay's tone got slightly haughty.
"Yeah. Draw what she went through. All one would have to do is show her." He said, staring Rodney down, watching the scientist shrink away from him.
"I mean, we could always give it a try." agreed Weir, and gestured a dismissal.
He stood there; fully aware of his height imposing in the room, glancing over at the frail girl huddled in the blankets. He tried to shrink some of his bulk and had pulled back his dreadlocks to show some sort of domestication and tame his complexion. She looked intently at him, completely ignoring what the doctor was telling her. He wondered how much actually was ignorance; he knew he tuned out when too much talking went down. Must be why he and McKay didn't get along well.
"All right Ronon. Come over here." Beckett motioned with big gestures, she wasn't an idiot, Ronon thought gruffly, slightly annoyed with how everyone had been treating her. He stalked over, and she peered up at him with intense blue eyes and he knew then she didn't fear him. Feeling more at ease, he straightened slightly as he reached the stool at the edge of her bed. In his hand was a clip board, a sheet of white paper and a couple colored pencils. Drawing took him back to being a child on Sateda. Never one for many words, even before becoming a Runner, he loved to draw out his most memorable experiences. Maybe it would work for her. Sitting, he showed her the blank piece and then, taking one of the pencils, he clutched it in his hand and started drawing a figure standing next to a taller one. He pointed at the little one and then at her, and repeated it with himself and the larger one. She fingered the stick figures, and then looked back up at him. Her finger pointed at the one he had labeled her.
"Kate." she whispered.
"Yeah. That's you." he grumbled, trying not to sound so harsh or deep. She pointed at him. "Me? Ronon."
"Ronon." she repeated.
"Here. You try." he handed it over to her. She picked up the pencil in her right hand and a look of uncertainty crossed her face, then she switched hands. Drawing another figure, she pointed to it and said. "John." Then added his signature hair style on top.
"Yeah, Sheppard." Ronon watched as she started drawing another one, this one with longer hair. "Her? That's Teyla. Can I try another?" He asked, reaching for the pad. She willingly gave it to him, but never took her eyes off the page. "Here's McKay." He drew another with a frown on his face which brought a smile to hers. Deciding that he'd taken long enough, he looked hard at her, trying to catch her gaze. "Who hurt you?" She glanced at the door, then back at him. "Hurt?" he repeated, making a motion ever so slightly as a needle stabbing the arm. Her eyes widened with fear and she snatched the pencil back from him. Furiously drawing out a face, with the eyes of a Wraith, short hair and an evil glare, she turned the paper back to him. "Michael." Ronon growled. She licked her lips nervously, trying to sound it out.
Her voice caught as she said his name, "Michael."
"What did he do? How?" He motioned for her to continue on the paper, but she shoved it away.
"Tied. Me tied." she started, and then gestured needles poking her arm, and she started shivering. "Questions. Too many questions. About city."
"He asked about Atlantis?" Ronon was surprised how much she was actually speaking.
"Here." Ronon pointed around and she sat there in her own private revelation. Feeling out of his place, he got up to leave and she grabbed hold of his forearm. It was that moment he realized just how delicate she was and how angry it made him that Michael had used so much of her up.
"Ronon." her gaze softened, coming back to the reality in front of her. "Thank you." she kept a tight grip on the clipboard. As he left, she flipped the paper over and started drawing more.
Once out of her room, he fell back into his typical stance, as Beckett and Weir approached him.
"That was incredible. She's..."
Ronon interrupted. "Sometimes words don't work." Then he stalked off. Sheppard caught sight of him near the cafeteria and jogged to catch up.
"Did it work?"
"She's talking. Knows who Michael is."
"That's great. Now, do you remember that planet a few months back we visited, it was uninhabited. McKay griped about the plant life that gave him a rash?"
"Yeah. What about it?"
"A couple of scientists want to check it out and they need an escort. Weir wants us to go since we've already been. It'd be an easy deal; McKay's fingers are almost back to normal. You don't have to, but I was thinking with this whole deal with Kate, we haven't gone off-world in a while."
"You wanna leave her here?"
"Well, if Beckett says she can come, I bet it'd do her some good to be out in the fresh air. And she's seem to taken a liking to you." Sheppard slapped him on the shoulder.
Ronon grunted a monosyllabic response. "I'll get my stuff." He turned around and headed to his quarters.
Thank you for reading. More will be posted tomorrow :)