12 August 2010 @ 09:10 pm
Now Am Found (1/1)  
Title: Now Am Found
Author: somehowunbroken 
Fandom: SGA
Characters: Evan/John
Word Count: 4,666
Rating: PG-13/some violence, language, slavery
Notes: Sequel to What Once Was Lost.

John needs therapy.

Fuck, he’s known that for years; between his failed marriage, his family issues, the shit that went down in Afghanistan, he’d needed therapy long before he knew the Pegasus galaxy even existed. And suddenly he’d found out about ZPMs and wormholes and intergalactic travel, and then in the span of three minutes he’d been forced to shoot his commanding officer and had accidentally woken a horde of life-sucking alien vampires. It was enough to mentally unhinge anyone.

And then there had been the rest of that first year, the Hoffans and the Genii and the storm, the siege of the city, Everett and the Daedalus. And the second, the third, all of the years that led to now, his tenth year in Atlantis, and wasn’t that reason enough to need therapy?

But John really needs to talk this out now, talk to someone who can maybe help with the night terrors that leave him raw and shaking. Who can maybe keep him from completely losing his shit. The problem is that he hates talking, hates it more than he hates a lot of other things, and he sucks at it to boot. Add to that the fact that he hasn’t talked to a shrink since Heightmeyer died – another thing that would be cause for therapy – and John has been left feeling slightly nauseous at the thought of actually tracking down help.

Evan is his anchor, his solid point, his mooring. Evan keeps him grounded when he feels like he’s abandoning terra firma, when he could just drift out and lose himself in the sky and the clouds and the sweet emptiness that all promise rest. Evan is his harbor.

Maybe John can talk to Evan.

The thought comes unbidden during a staff meeting that John can’t make himself focus on, about a team going for a routine trade mission. Nothing’s going to go wrong, nothing’s unexpected, nothing’s out of the ordinary, and it should be easy for John to focus, to use meetings like this to slowly slide back into who he had been Before.

He thinks of it that way, in capital letters in his head, Before and Now. Before was before he’d been captured, drugged, hauled away to rot in a cell for reasons unknown. Before was when Evan was quiet, fleeting touches and easy smiles and a twinkle in his eyes meant only for John. Now, though, Now is John waking up every night screaming, sweating, and Evan’s hands stroking down his back until he remembers how to breathe, how to let his muscles relax. Now is no more secrecy; Now is Evan with him every second of every day, his touches meant to ground John, his smiles for the benefit of others, the expression in his eyes growing more haunted every day.

John wishes he could be who he was Before.

They’re lying in bed later that week, after another nightmare has broken another evening’s attempt at sleep, and John decides that he can’t take it any more, that this isn’t fair to Evan and it’s certainly not doing him any favors. He has to take more time than he’d care to admit to gather himself, to form and re-form the words in his head, before he can open his mouth and force them out.

“You said – before. When I first got back. You-” and all the planning in the world is useless in the face of actually talking. “You said that you wouldn’t push me.”

Evan’s hand is the only constant in his world, a firm pressure tracing lines up and down his back. “And I haven’t. I won’t.”

“I – need you to,” John says haltingly, finally. “I can’t – Evan, I have to get this out, I can’t hold on to it any more.” He shakes his head, pressing his face into the soft sweatpants Evan wears to bed. Evan’s hand is warm and firm against his back, and John breathes in and out, in and out. “But I need…”

“Help,” Evan finishes for him softly. John nods jerkily. He’s never been good at asking for what he needs, especially if it mean admitting some deficiency, a weakness. But it’s eating away at him, fast, and he’s losing his footing even with someone there to brace him. He has Evan, though, and Evan’s good at reading between the lines, at seeing what’s really there under everything that John layers on top. John had laughed at him for it, Before, Evan’s artist’s soul. Now he’s just grateful.

John nods again. “I can’t,” he repeats softly, hoping that Evan understands. Evan’s hands are tracing patterns on his back, and John tries to relax into it, to let go and be himself and get his life back.

Evan is silent for a long time, and John wonders if he’s asked for too much, if maybe Evan thinks that he can’t do this, doesn’t want to. He’s almost on the verge of taking it back when Evan speaks.

“What happened on the planet? The first one.”

For a split second, John feels the panic well up in him. He really doesn’t want to talk about this, to think about it. He forces the feeling down and breathes, in and out, recalling that he’s asked for this, that he needs this, that he can do this.

“The first one,” John repeats softly.

The first planet isn’t so bad. It certainly isn’t a precursor for what would come, John would think later, remembering the sunlight and birds in the trees and the thought of escape. John falls behind as Teyla talks with Rodney, keeping him entertained as they walk to the Gate. Ronon is scouting ahead, and John just slows for a minute, a second really, but when he looks up again, they’re gone.

The others come quickly, and John is surrounded before he can fully process that he’s alone. He smells something strange, almost like fruit, and his next thought comes to him in different surroundings as he blinks awake. He’s not sure how much later it is.

They gate around for a while after that, a blindfold over John’s face, and John misses the birds when they finally walk away from their newest Gate. The blindfold is still firmly in place.

John is silent, the few paragraphs feeling like an endless litany behind him. It’s just the first day to recount, the first of many, and they’re both quiet. John closes his eyes and hopes that Evan remembers, that he keeps asking, that he dredges out the details that are twisting themselves into John’s psyche. He hopes that Evan can track down all the pieces that have scattered and patch them together somehow.

He knows it’s not fair to ask, suddenly, and almost hates himself for it, for being too weak to resist. And now, for being too weak to tell Evan that it’s okay, that they don’t have to do this. Evan’s hand is still on his back, though, and John concentrates on the rhythm, breathing in time with the movement.

Evan’s voice is quiet when he asks, “What happened on the new planet?”

John laughs harshly. Everything. Nothing. He wonders again, blankly, if this is something he can do, but the words are already lining up in his mouth, so he lets them fall.

They throw him into a cell only seconds after ripping the blindfold from his eyes, so he’s still blinking as he falls awkwardly to the floor. He can hear the door clang shut behind him, and he twists back towards it, meaning to grab for the guard, for the door, to get some sort of grip on the situation.

He stops suddenly when hands land tentatively on his lower leg.

There’s a girl there, maybe eight years old, and she doesn’t raise her eyes to his as she pulls the fabric of his torn BDUs apart. John remembers falling at some point, stumbling and smacking into something. The girl prods gently at the bruise John can now feel there, gently feeling at the edges and the bone underneath.

“It’s not broken,” she says softly, backing away, still not looking up from the floor.

“Thanks,” he says softly, trying not to spook the kid. “I’m John.”

“Jiye,” the girl replies. She’s backed all the way to the wall, and there’s an older girl glaring at him, throwing an arm protectively around Jiya’s shoulders. “This is my sister, Kita.”

“Nice to meet you,” he says obligingly. “What is this place?”

There’s a sharp laugh from behind John, and he turns as the girls shrink into each other. There are more people in here, John realizes now, maybe ten or so. Jiye and Kita are the only kids; the others are adults, ranging between twenty-five and fifty years old. They’re all wearing the same drab gray clothing, and most are staring at the ground as Jiye had.

“You do not know,” a man says, almost snarling, and John shakes his head, a little confused by the hostility. “Are you simple, then?”

John bristles. “Not from around here,” he settles, trying not to glare at the man.

“Alham,” the other man says. “Welcome to the slave trade then, John.” His smile is unpleasant. “You will not enjoy your stay.”

“They had kids there?” Evan asks, and his voice is trying too hard to be neutral. John can hear the strain in it that promises violence to the slavers, a tone he’s trying hard to hide from John. John appreciates the sentiment. He’d felt it himself, still feels it when he thinks about Jiye’s hands on his leg, Kita’s protective arm on her sister’s thin shoulders.

“Yeah.” John has to lick his lips. “They weren’t there for long.”

“Where did they go?”

Alham warms up to John before long, realizing that an ally with spirit and a strong desire to be anywhere else might be a good thing. They spend time talking about security, about the guards, about routes in and out. Between the two of them, they figure out a possible escape plan and start trying to talk the others into leaving with them.

John is unsurprised that Jiye and Kita want to go with him; they’ve taken to sleeping near him, pressed against his sides, arms wrapped over him so they can still touch each other from their positions around him. He is, however, shocked and then angered to find that most of the others in their cell are indifferent, not seeming to care one way or the other about leaving.

“They have been here their entire lives,” Alham tries to explain the third night, as John is angrily tearing into a roll. “They cannot change who they are.”

John narrows his eyes at Alham. “The girls were born into it,” he points out, lowering his voice so the two children can’t hear him. They’re across the cell, playing tic-tac-toe in the dirt. They’ve been fascinated by the game since John taught it to them yesterday. “They want out.”

Alham just shrugs. “They are young,” he says simply, as if that’s an explanation. Maybe it is.

“You’re older than some of the others,” John says, and something in Alham’s face shifts.

“I was not born to it,” he says tightly. John can’t get him to open up about it any more that night, or the next.

It’s the fifth day when the guards burst into the cell in the early morning, waking everyone instantly. Their eyes search around, and they settle on John, where he sits in the corner, Jiye and Kita cowering behind him. He stands as the guards approach, wracking his brain for something to do, to say, but as he spreads his hands and opens his mouth, the guard on the left stuns him and he goes down hard.

When he wakes, the girls aren’t in the cell. Alham is bending over him, and his eyes flash relief when John sits sharply.

“Where are they?” John asks, casting his eyes around.

“Gone,” Alham says simply. “They are gone.”

John doesn’t realize he’s crying until he feels Evan’s hand cupping his face, broad thumb brushing at tears he doesn’t remember shedding. They’re dripping from his eyes but he’s not sobbing, not wailing, and he thinks dizzily that he can still breathe easily, calmly. He isn’t used to this, but then he’s not used to crying at all, hasn’t since his mother died when he was eight. Maybe this is how adults cry.

He takes a deep breath and trembles for a moment, sinking into Evan’s presence. Jiye’s laugh plays through his memory, sharp and brilliant against the backdrop of the story, and John takes a shaky breath and continues.

The guards come back later, to taunt and belittle, and it’s all John can do not to jump up and try to wring their necks through the bars, to demand that they bring the girls back, because this might be jail but as long as John can see them, hold them, he knows they’re okay. Alham tightens a hand on John’s arm when the urge nearly overwhelms him.

John snarls but stays still.

They leave and return a few times, peering into the cell and focusing on John each time. The others stare out with their dead eyes, making no sign that they even recognize that the guards are moving. John finally snaps on the sixth night and lunges when the guards bring in their dinner. Alham, who has been watching him closely all day, attacks the other guard at John’s signal. The rest of the group sits, shrinking back from the violence in a way that speaks of years of not wanting to be beaten themselves.

John comes to without realizing he’s been unconscious. The rest of them are gone save Alham, who is in a cell by himself across the hallway from John. The others aren’t gone, he realizes quickly; they’re where they’ve always been. It’s John who has been taken from them, John and Alham. The troublemakers. They’ve been separated from the group.

John swears and paces, the new cell smaller than the last, but just as barren in terms of means by which he can escape. Alham comes up with a seven-inch long stick that breaks in two when he tries to use it to pick the lock on his cell.

John watches, later, as the guards come down the hall, drag Alham away. He hears the screams, hears the sound of flesh being struck over and over and over, and doesn’t know how long it’s been by the time they dump Alham’s unconscious body back into his cell.

They just smile at John in amusement. They don’t try to beat him. They do, however, return each subsequent day to drag Alham out and repeat the process.

It’s day ten when the rest of the original group is herded up and out. They never make a sound, not one of them, never try to run or protest.

Alham dies on day twelve. They don’t notice until day thirteen, and John spends the night staring across the hall at the unmoving form, sitting just where the guards had tossed him in, wondering how long it will be before that’s him.

On day fifteen, John’s cell door bursts open and three guards enter warily. John just glares at them from his spot on the floor, and one of them steps forward and stuns him. He has enough time to think,
this is it, before he slumps over.

There’s silence, a long time without speech or sound or anything, before John pulls back from Evan and stares at the ceiling. Evan lets him go.

“They put me in by myself after that,” he says finally, when he’s sure his voice isn’t going to crack. “In that room where you found me.” He doesn’t say the rest, doesn’t need to, because Evan can fill in the silence correctly.

I counted the days by the sun on the wall. I kept track with marks in the sand. I only kept counting after six weeks because, by that time, it was habit.

Evan lets him ay by himself for a little while longer, remaining propped up on the headboard. He eventually slides down into the bed and curls around John’s back, tugging until John is turned around, his head buried in Evan’s chest. Evan’s arms are wrapped around John’s body and if it’s not the most comfortable he’s ever been, it’s the safest he’s felt in a long time. They lay there together, just breathing, until John can close his eyes without seeing Jiye and Kita, until Alham’s slumped form fades away, until that dingy room with its tiny window is all but gone.

Evan speaks then, as if he can tell that John’s ready to listen. “We found some paperwork,” he says, and it’s soft, almost hesitant in the half-light of their quarters. “In the building. One of the linguists has been looking through them, thinks he might be able to translate them.”

John waits. There’s a reason Evan is bringing this up.

“He thinks they’re records,” Evan adds a minute later. “Like… sales reports.” John stiffens at the term, and Evan’s arms wrap more tightly around him as he speaks again, the words tumbling out faster now. “It’s some sort of tracking system, with dates and shipment information and addresses.”

“Addresses,” John repeats, the information swimming in his mind. He’s already mentally filling out the requisition forms and mission briefs that he’ll need before he can go through the Gate. “Dates.”

“Yeah,” Evan says, rolling away from him and reaching for his radio. He speaks into it quickly and quietly, and John notices with a start that it’s 0830, and when had that happened? But Evan’s putting down his radio almost immediately and rising to turn on his laptop.

“I asked Dr. Lairn to forward me what they’ve gone through so far,” he says as he pulls up his email program. The message is already there, and John leans forward to read over Evan’s shoulder. He spots it almost immediately, the date corresponding with when the girls were taken, reporting two packages delivered.

There’s a Gate address and a name.

John blinks at the information, thinking for an irrational moment that the group had been extraordinarily good at paperwork for a bunch of illegal slave traders, before he’s tumbling from the bed. He’s throwing on clothing that he isn’t even sure is his own and grappling with his thigh holster as he walks toward the door. He goes to his office on autopilot, striding confidently through the hallways like he hasn’t been able to do in months. He nods at Marines and airmen on patrol and catches more than one smile in return.

Woolsey pokes a hesitant head into John’s office half an hour later, blinking in surprise at finding the military commander actually in the room, typing at something on his computer and consulting papers on the desk. John spares him a glance before turning back to the screen.

“Something I can help you with?” John asks as Woolsey stands there.

Woolsey shakes his head and something almost like a smile passes over his face. “It’s good to have you back, Colonel.”

The reports are in to Woolsey an hour later, detailed plans and maps and everything laid out exactly as it should go. Woolsey reads them through once, twice, and slowly adds his signature to the bottom of each page as is required. He calls John into his office and motions to the chair, which John takes.

“This isn’t a mission I’d normally approve,” Woolsey says, and John has almost forgotten that Woolsey sometimes has a way of not beating around the bush. “But since this is obviously of great importance to you, and it’s the first thing I’ve seen you even remotely interested in since you came back, I’m going to give it the go-ahead.”

“Thanks,” John says, not sure what else he’s supposed to say. It’s not even twenty minutes before he’s got his team together and in the ready room; Evan appears and pulls him aside.

“John,” he begins, and John just looks at him for a moment as Evan struggles to find whatever he’s trying to say.

“I have to go,” John offers a minute later, and Evan looks at him in surprise. “If I can find them, if there’s any chance at all, I have to go now.”

Evan nods. “Did you request a backup team?”

John grins then, a ghost of his old smile, but a beginning. “Of course. Gear up.”

It’s only then that Evan seems to notice the other members of his own team gearing up alongside John’s. Six pairs of eyes are studiously focusing anywhere but on the two of them, and Evan takes a few seconds to grab John‘s hand in his own and hold it tightly before moving to pick up his vest.

They’re standing in front of the Gate less than an hour after Woolsey approved the mission, the Gate dialing and locking in quick succession. John can feel the knot of anticipation in his stomach and it almost surprises him; he hasn’t felt an adrenaline rush like this since Before.

It’s all coming back pretty quickly.

John falls into old patterns as soon as he steps through the Gate; Evan and his team melt into the forest as Teyla moves to walk beside him towards the village. The plan is to try to negotiate for the girls, to resolve the matter quickly and without violence. Barring that, though, John really has no problem with blowing the entire planet to hell in order to free Jiye and Kita.

“Hi,” John says as they enter the town. A young man has approached them, a wary smile on his face, and he nods cautiously as John greets him and introduces the team. “We’re looking for a man by the name of Jeyce Tonen. Know where we can find him?”

A shadow flicks over the young man’s face as he glances over his shoulder. John follows his line of sight and finds himself staring, unsurprisingly, at the largest house in sight, near the far end of the village.

“…left yesterday,” the young man is saying to Teyla. “He is not set to return for a fortnight.” He looks at John and then glances again over his shoulder. John returns to staring at the house.

“Thank you,” Teyla says, and the group moves further into the town. John breaks off as his team enters the local tavern and radios Evan, relaying the news. As he turns back to go into the tavern, he’s surprised to find the young man from the village standing only a few steps away, looking nervous.

“Please,” he says, holding out his hands as John swears and reaches for his sidearm. “Tonen will kill me.”

John makes a show of taking his hand off of his gun. “For talking to me?”

The young man nods. “I am – I work for him,” he evades, and John suddenly knows all too well that he, too, is a slave, like Jiye and Kita, like John himself had almost been. “I am Savin.”

“Savin,” John repeats. “Do you know two girls who also work for Tonen? They’re about eight and ten, names are Jiye and Kita.” He emphasizes the words work for, showing his understanding of the situation.

Savin’s eyes widen. “You are here for them,” he breathes as he nods. “Tonen will not let them go.”

“We can negotiate.”

Savin smiles, a little bitterly. “He will not let them go.”

John considers the situation. “If you get me to them,” he says, “we’ll take you, too.”

The smile that touches his face this time has no trace of bitterness. “Where?”

“Anywhere you want,” John promises. “Just get me to the girls.”

Savin nods and frowns. “Tonen is in the town,” he reveals. “His business will continue for another three nights, and he will return to his home each night. The best time for anyone seeking to enter would be early in the morning, after Tonen has left.”

John nods. “Be in the kitchen with the girls an hour after he leaves,” he decides. “We’ll be there.”

Savin nods and slips into the shadows before John can say anything else.

Teyla isn’t happy with the plan, nor is Evan; both point out that Savin could really just be working for Tonen, and that giving him a specific meeting location could just be setting up a trap. John knows this, knew it before he suggested it, and resists the urge to snap. He can’t explain how he knows that Savin’s telling the truth. It’s not something that he can put into words. It’s not something that he wants to examine too closely.

True to his word, John is outside the kitchen with Ronon an hour after Evan reports Tonen leaving. He listens quietly as he taps at the door and is relieved to hear the sound returned. A moment later, the door is swinging slowly inward, and John looks down to see Jiye’s face brighten with joy.

“John,” she whispers, wrapping her arms around his waist. Kita does the same a split second later, and John has his arms around the girls even as Savin steps out and secures the door behind them.

“We must go,” Savin says quietly. “These two are from the kitchen. Their absence will be noticed quickly.”

John nods and spares just one more second for the girls before taking them by the hand and pulling them away from the house. They’re barely twenty yards from the house, not even to the woods yet, when the yelling begins. John scoops Jiye from the ground and Ronon grabs Kita and then they’re running, Savin behind them, running for the cover of the woods.

They can’t go as quickly as they’d like, weighed down as they are, and even as they meet up with the rest of the team John can hear the search party catching up to them. They don’t have a Jumper; they hadn’t figured they’d need one, and John is cursing to himself now. He’s gasping for air and it takes a minute to realize that Evan’s prying Jiye from his grasp. Ronon has already handed Kita to one of Evan’s Marines and is turning, his gun set to stun, shooting through the trees.

John feels a hand on his arm and is surprised to see the look of grim determination in Savin’s eyes.

“Get the to the Ring,” he says desperately. “Get them out.” And with that, he turns and heads back towards the oncoming group. John can only stare after him as he ducks through the trees. The shouting increases as Savin slips out of sight, then quiets. There’s a single, bright scream, and then they’re all moving away, towards the Gate.

It’s a long time before John can think of Savin again. It’s after he takes Jiye back, closer to the Gate, and she wraps her arms tightly around his neck and whispers Savin is dead without emotion; it’s after they run through the Gate and John sits with the girls in the infirmary; it’s after they’ve settled the girls with the Athosians, with promises to visit soon and often; it’s after a few more missions, these ones going better than the rescue. It’s late one night when it finally happens, John jerking awake like he hasn’t in months, Evan instantly opening his eyes beside him.

John is shaking and Evan doesn’t say anything, just wraps him up tightly and runs his hand up and down John’s back until he calms.

“I won’t ask,” he says after John’s breathing has slowed. “Not unless you want me to.”

John closes his eyes. “No,” he says softly after a minute. “Not yet. I’ll let you know.”

So Evan just holds him and they lay together in silence until finally, finally, they fall asleep.
calcitrixcalcitrix on August 13th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
I like that you gave this some closure even if there ends up being more emotional John!whump with the details. The summary of his years in the military and Atlantis at the very beginning is just excellent. Really focuses the plot right away. I'm glad he found a little peace, but poor John.
Kisomehowunbroken on August 13th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
It seems I can't help whumping John... but he's doing better now that he talked about it. He still probably needs real therapy, but that's... unlikely at best.
saphirablue on August 13th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC)

I'm so happy that you did a sequel that showed that John isn't fine just because he is back in Atlantis. That it takes time for him to heal and the _he_ has to decide when he is ready to talk about what happend to him.

I love the (quiet) support Evan is giving him.

I love that you made John the protector of the two little girls and that he has a chance to rescue them.

Thank you so much for this fic!
Kisomehowunbroken on August 13th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, John is far from fine, but Evan will do whatever John needs him to do. And John felt so responsible for the girls, because he told them he'd get them out of the jail cell, but then they were taken away...

Glad you liked it :)
Gaffsie: John - bodygaffsie on August 13th, 2010 09:54 am (UTC)
John is so lucky to have Evan looking out for him like that! I'm glad he's with someone who knows his needs so well.
Kisomehowunbroken on August 13th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, he certainly is :)
sherry57sherry57 on August 13th, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
Seeing John suffering like this was sad but also made him so human. Evan looking after him was adorable. I also loved that he got back to get the girls as it was obviously important to him but alas, more suffering because of Savin's death. Poor John has a life that is bound to result in some suffering for him as he can't save all the people all the time and due to his deep sense of humanity, this makes it very hard for him. Thanks for such a thought provoking read.
Kisomehowunbroken on August 13th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, John's 'no man left behind' mantra is good in theory, but it really hurts him when things go wrong. He's strong, though, and with Evan's help he has the ability to get close to who he was Before. Not all the way there, because experiences change you, but close.
raincoverdleafraincoverdleaf on August 18th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
I really liked Evan being john's Rock. You dont think about how much he has to raleigh on the other man till its put in to such beautiful wording. I think either of them would go threw the wumping if it means they get to be together in the end. Great job
Kisomehowunbroken on August 18th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Thanks dear :) They'd do pretty much anything for each other...