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Author's Chapter Notes: What has John decided? Will he confide in his team, read on and all will be revealed.


Thanks to my beta Sue although all faults remain my own.
Ignoring the rolling feeling in his stomach Sheppard struggled to gather his wits together. Looking at the familiar faces in front of him, he realised he’d been ignoring one crucial element. They weren’t just people he worked with; they were people he cared for. They also cared deeply for Elizabeth. Although he didn’t want them directly involved, they still, in all fairness, should be aware of his plans. Ronon, he knew, would have no misgivings, and it is just possible that Teyla and McKay may think likewise.

This new revelation, although not enough to vanquish his reservations entirely, gave him the boost he needed.

Pushing himself up straight, his face although tight as he addressed them, held none of his early unease. “I know you think I’m being bull-headed in wanting to continue and okay... maybe I am, but... I do have a reason.” He hesitated but only for a second. “I... Ah... need to ensure Kolya is taken care of, permanently.”

McKay’s eyes widened in disbelief “What... you mean like in... Eh...dead?”

Sheppard dropped his eyes rubbing at the ground with his boot, but his voice held conviction. “Yes Rodney that’s exactly what I mean.”

Flustered, McKay flapped his arms “How are you going to explain that to Sam? You said...”

Scratching behind his ear, he replied grimly “I know what I said McKay, but I couldn’t exactly respond differently could I.”

“But...” McKay stuttered, his eyes widening.

“This I like,” Ronon growled as he pushed McKay aside, and gave Sheppard a resounding slap on the back.

“Mind the injury big man,” Sheppard groaned as he gingerly rubbed his side.

He turned to Teyla with a wry grin “What about you Teyla, what are your thoughts.”

Teyla studied him, her expression intense “If you feel this is what must be done John, we will stand by your decision.”

He gave Teyla a tight smile “You may want to hear the rest first.”

In all honesty, he hadn’t harboured many doubts about their reactions, to what he’d told them so far. It was what he hadn’t told them that had his stomach in knots. Inhaling deeply, he somehow summoned the strength to deal with the backlash that would result. “Eh... there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned. I’ll be doing it alone.”

McKay frowned, “You won’t be alone we’ll be there.”

“No McKay, you won’t be there.”

The sharpness in Sheppard’s voice seemed took McKay aback, and a red flush crept up his neck “What do you mean I won’t be there. You’re going to take the Gorilla here, and Teyla, but leave me? Since when, have I become an unimportant member of this team?”

“Relax McKay I never said I would be taking Ronon and Teyla. They’re staying as well.”

Sheppard swore softly as he heard a thud behind him. Ronon who had been sitting perched on a rock-the same one Sheppard himself had sat on previously- now stood towering over him, eyes flashing dangerously.

“Like hell Sheppard,” growled Ronon.

Teyla placed a restraining arm on Ronon, her eyes flashing a warning. Taking a solitary step forward, she laid her left palm on Sheppard’s chest. “Rodney and Ronon have spoken wisely, you cannot do this alone. Allow us to do this in honour of Elizabeth.”

He shook his head grimly. “Teyla... earth’s rules and regulations, differ vastly to the ones here in the Pegasus Galaxy.” He glanced at Rodney, “McKay you know the likes of what I’m referring to. Earth will not condone taking a life, even Kolya’s, without just reason. Despite the atrocities Kolya has perpetrated, they will not see revenge as just cause.”

Bitterness had slipped into Sheppard’s voice, and his eyes had darkened ominously, but if McKay had noticed he gave no indication. “You... you’re crazier than I thought if you think you can take on Kolya single handily...” he flapped a hand in Sheppard’s direction, “never mind injured.”

Sheppard’s jaw clenched and unclenched, and he barely held back his anger. “It not like I’ve got much choice is it McKay. There too much risk involved. What do you think will happen if we’re found out? I’ll tell you. We’ll be whisked back to earth before we can so much as blink and Court Marshalled if we’re lucky. Ronon and Teyla may not suffer quite the same fate, as they are not of earth, but their fate will likely be just as unpleasant.”

The colour drained from McKay’s face. “They can’t... they wouldn’t, look at the trouble he’s caused.” They should be grateful.”

“They can and you know it,” replied Sheppard.

McKay stiffened his chin, consolidating his words with an expression of rebellion. “Anyway if you’re going so am I.”

Ronon quirked an eyebrow, “Face it Sheppard you’re stuck with us."

Sheppard groaned. Had they even listened to a word he’d said, he’d be hard fetched to find three more stubborn people in any galaxy. He glowered at them but felt his resolve weakening at the determination displayed in all three faces.

His resolve shattered altogether as he listened to the soft lilt of Teyla voice. “You are not alone in wanting this John. It is a need felt by all. Elizabeth was very dear to all of us, allow us to do this for her.”

With a sigh of resignation, Sheppard lifted his right hand up. Okay... Okay, if you insist, but don’t say I didn’t advise you.

“Now that’s settled maybe we can stop wasting time,” Rodney griped, “we’ve already missed lunch, now dinner's going to consist of dried up leftovers. And it’s my favourite today, meatloaf.”

Sheppard rolled his eyes bantering good-natured “What’s it with you, and food, McKay.”

“Well... it’s not like we only ate a few hours ago, is it.” McKay’s brows puckered with an irritated frown.

Dipping his hand into his pocket, Sheppard felt for the small package he’d planted earlier. “Here.... and you can at least, look, grateful” He thrust the power bar into McKay’s hand.

McKay’s responded with a glower, but half of the power bar disappeared into his mouth all the same.

Sheppard couldn’t disagree with McKay; too much time had been wasted, although their reasons for thinking this differed. He couldn’t help but think they were giving Kolya the possibility of escape, and if they didn’t quickly act the events, so far, would all be for naught.

Gingerly straightening his back he challenged the pain and felt relief when he experienced not much more than a twinge. Regrettably the same couldn’t be said a few moments later, as he struggled into his vest.

It wouldn’t have been so conspicuous either, except Teyla had decided it would be easier if she held the vest open for him and of course didn’t miss his grimace of pain.

“What... it doesn’t hurt...” his voice dropped off as her hazel eyes narrowed. “Well not much.”

Unfortunately, he’d thoughtlessly placed his right arm through first, which of course meant he had to struggle that bit harder with the left arm. This time it wasn’t a little grimace, it felt as if someone had taken hold of his innards, and was attempting to tear them apart.

Okay maybe it hurts just a little. Turning his head, to avoid Teyla’s worried look he squinted at the others instead only to be greeted by Ronon’s impression of condemnation. The Satedan strolled forward and pulled the vest into place, but to Sheppard’s relief didn’t show any inclination to speak his mind.

Having now tentatively eased himself into his vest Sheppard glanced up, surprised by the sudden, mighty chill in the air. Preoccupied, he’d failed to notice the sky darkening, substituting the brilliant blue of earlier, with dull swirling masses of grey. As they moved out the first few droplets of rain splattered onto Sheppard’s forehead and trickled down his face. He absentmindedly wiped at the wetness his focus already tuned to the arduous task that lay ahead.

oo0oo

Lorne glanced up curiously, sensing Sheppard’s approach. Seeing his boss up on his feet gave freedom to the apprehension swirling around inside of him. The injury mustn’t be as serious as what they had first surmised. His heart had been in his mouth when he had seen Sheppard felled by the bullet. Thankfully, it seemed his fear had been superfluous, at least for the time being. Sheppard still faced the daunting task, of tracking and apprehending Kolya, but it appeared his injury, wasn’t going to limit him.

He understood why Sheppard needed closure, and Lorne hoped Kolya’s capture would give him what he needed. Personally Lorne wasn’t so sure. Could there ever be closure for something as vile as the circumstances that had robbed them of Dr Weir?

In similar circumstances, Lorne hoped he’d be able to handle himself with the same bravery, and dignity Sheppard had. Stepping forward in acknowledgement, he stood just to the side of Sheppard and indicated towards the mass of prisoners.

“Colonel, we’re almost done here. Most of the Genii have surrendered. I’m sure Commander Radim will be willing to take responsibility for them.” He looked at Sheppard hopefully. “That way, it frees up my team, giving us the opportunity to assist with the hunt for Kolya.

Sheppard shook his head. “No, we’ll handle it. You’ll need to help Radim restrain the prisoners.

Lorne nodded solemnly, feeling the sting of disappointment “Good luck then Sir.”

Although he returned his attention to what he’d been doing prior to the interruption, his eyes marked the progress of Sheppard’s team until they disappeared from view, the forest engulfing them.

“Good luck.” Lorne’s repeated words were like whispers in the wind.


Chapter End Notes: Next chapter things go decidedly downhill but for who. I promise not to keep you in suspense for to long

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