He sat alone in the front seat of the dark sedan, nothing with him but his own steady breaths. He was in his dress blues, his cover on the seat next to him. He was parked in front of a simple country home in the middle of a small Oregon town. Taking in a deep breath, he opened the car door, grabbing his cover on the way out.
He put it on over his partially gelled hair, and shut the door with a firm hand, then started up the walkway. Little pansies lined the stone path up to the front steps of the small porch. The grass was growing in green this spring as birds flitted around in the crisp, fresh air. A child's shrill laugh came out of the house in front of him. He continued up the walkway, fingering the envelope in his hand.
Taking each step slowly, he felt like his collar was starting to choke him. Pulling on it, to loosen it slightly, he knocked on the front door. A young woman answered the door, apron on, flour dusting her face and hair.
"Hello?" her sweet voice asked with a big smile on her face.
"Hi, my name's Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. I'm from the United States Air Force. Is Devon Anderson at home?"
"Yes. He's my husband" Her face dipped slightly, "Come in." She stepped to the side, and he entered, taking off his hat, feeling out of place in the small room. "This way." She led him into the living room, where a small wood burning stove was lit and heating the room. A little girl sat in the center of the room, playing with her dolls. She turned when she heard her mother come back into the room. A man came out from the down the hallway and held out his hand.
"Devon Anderson. Pleased to meet you."
"John Sheppard." Grasping the proffered hand, he shook it heartily.
"He's from the Air Force." The wife spoke up.
"So I heard. What brings you to my house?" Devon asked, pleasantly enough, but with a protective tone of a father and husband.
"Is there somewhere we can speak privately?" Sheppard asked, not really wanting to break the news in front of everyone.
"Sure, let's step out onto the front porch." Devon opened the door and Sheppard followed him out. "What's going on?"
"It's about your sister, Kate."
"What happened? We knew she was recruited by the government on some top secret project. We haven't heard from her in a couple months. She was very regular in her monthly letters. We were worried something happened."
Swallowing hard, Sheppard started, "something did happen." Feeling his throat tighten up; he continued. "There was an accident, and I'm afraid your sister didn't make it."
The look went from apprehension to disbelief. "What? How?"
At this Sheppard had to look away. "There was a mishap with something one of the scientists was working on, and it ended up going haywire, and she was caught up in the after math. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for your loss."
The man before him turned pale and tears sprang up in his eyes. "Little Kate." He whispered. "I thought that what she was going to do would be great for her."
"She got to see things she would never dream of before."
"Did you know her? Or are you just the messenger?" there was a hint of contempt in Devon's voice, and inwardly Sheppard cringed.
"I didn't get to know her till the last couple months, but she was a great girl. Very bright."
A look came onto the grieving brother's face. "Where you more than…"
The door creaked open, and the little girl came walking out. "Daddy, mommy says dinner's ready."
"Ok sweetheart, I'll be right it." His voice caught a little.
"I leave you to your family then." Sheppard handed him the envelope as he disengaged himself from the conversation, but Devon caught his arm before he left.
"Thank you for being the one to tell me." A tear slipped down the man's face as he turned to enter into his house. Sheppard jogged down the steps, then back to his car. He opened the door and tossed his hat in the passenger seat. Sitting down, he turned the key of the ignition. Sitting there with the engine running he saw the silhouettes through the curtains of the husband informing the wife, and her sitting on the couch. Sheppard could imagine her reaction, he knew how he did. He didn't come out of his room for days, angry at himself, angry at Michael, furious with the rest of the world. Teyla had been the first to dare enter his room and all she had done was sit down on the bed. He had yelled a bit, then sat down, withdrawing. She had said one sentence, then left, but that one statement meant more to him than anything. "Life brings heartbreak, but the best way to remember someone is to not let it keep you from all you are capable of." Those words replayed over and over in his head on the Daedalus ride from Atlantis, and he knew it to be true. He'd move on, never forget her, and one day he'd hunt down and find Michael. And make him pay.
He shifted the car into drive, and slowly made his way out of town. He started the long drive back to the SGC.
This is it! The end! Thank you for reading all along! Thank you for the many reviews!