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15 August 2007 @ 09:33 pm
Anger Management by Sholio  
Title: Anger Management
Author: sholio
Word Count: 1400
Rating: PG for a bit of language; gen
Spoilers: Takes place shortly after "Phantoms"; spoilers for that and "Common Ground"
Summary: Conventional Earth therapy doesn't work so well in the Pegasus Galaxy, Kate discovers.

Notes: valleya gave me the following quote as her prompt for the Pay It Forward meme: "Beware the anger of a patient man", with a request for a Sheppard-centric story somehow developing that theme. Here you go!

The afternoon sun through the windows of Heightmeyer's office glazed her red hair, individual strands glimmering like a skein of woven copper thread. John found it distracting: he'd been used to her as a blonde, and his eyes kept going from her eyes to the new, vivid color surrounding them. She'd spent one round trip of the Daedalus on Earth -- leaving with blonde hair, coming back with red. John supposed that there was a metaphor in there somewhere, but damned if he could --

"If you're too tired, John, we could continue this tomorrow," she said, and he jumped, yanking his gaze back to her face.

"Nope, I'm good." Too quick, maybe? He tried to read her face, but as always, her true feelings were hidden behind the professional mask. In honesty, he was tired, and scatterbrained; the feeling reminded him of being drugged, and it scared him, scared the hell out of him, although Carson said he didn't seem to have any of the enzyme in his system. Words like electrolytes and messed-up metabolism had been bandied about, along with more ominous words behind his back, words that could ground a pilot: depression, PTSD, obsession.

Above all else, he would have loved to get out of Kate's stifling office -- go back to his quarters, sleep, shut himself away for a little while. But quitting a session early was a sure-fire mark in her book, a black mark to follow him just as damningly as anything in his military record. He crossed his arms, leaning back on the couch in a calculated pose of nonchalance -- not realizing his mistake until her eyes went like twin laser beams to his chest, guarded behind the barrier of his hands.

"Do you still experience pain from the feeding marks, John?"

"No," he said shortly.

"You know I'm just trying to help you."

There's nothing wrong with me except that people won't stop WATCHING me. He could feel their eyes in the corridors -- weighing, judging. He hadn't felt that, not here on Atlantis, since the very early days after Sumner's death. He'd proven himself since then, a thousand times over. But it had followed him, even here, the question that no one would ask to his face: Is he unfit for command?

"I'm fine," he lied to her china-doll smile.

"I'm fine."

"So you claim, but you look like crap, Colonel."

"Let he who has not been working all night in the labs," Sheppard made a stab in the dark, "cast the first stone. How's that glass house doing, Rodney?"

"Ha," Rodney said flatly, reaching for a bottle of water from the mess hall drinks table. He was wearing short sleeves, and the pale scar on the inside of his forearm cut a line from elbow to wrist -- nearly invisible unless you knew where to look.

"You know, on second thought, I'm not that hungry." John raised a hand. "Catch you later."

"Hey, Colonel --"

But he was out in the hall already, and shaking, an uncontrollable tremor of anger that he couldn't stop.

"Do you consider Kolya's survival on Dagan a personal failure, John?"

He laughed; he couldn't help it. "Kolya's survival? That's a nice, value-neutral way to put it, don't you think?"

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"You know exactly what I mean."

"You're slow," Ronon said, after the fourth time he laid John out on his back in the gym.

John wiped his face, picking himself up, and pasted on a smile. "I'm always slow compared to you."

"Slower than usual, I mean. And tense." Ronon's lip curled, a grin of challenge. "You going easy on me?"

"Why would I go easy on you?" Sheppard retorted, forcing himself not to look at the bandage around Ronon's upper arm, while the muscles in his own arms knotted like steel cords.

"You gotta loosen up a little bit, relax when you fall," Ronon was saying, demonstrating as he spoke. "In a real fight, you'll hurt yourself if you tense up like that."

"Do you feel that recent events have affected your relationship with your co-workers?"

Co-workers: he wondered if the impersonal phrasing was deliberate. "Which recent events would those be?" John's hand fisted in his pants; he forced himself to straighten out his fingers, letting go of the rumpled cloth. "Letting Kolya torture me to death in front of everyone I know? Letting myself fall under the control of a Wraith device and shooting two people who depended on me?" Because you shouldn't have been out in the field so soon after Kolya, a small voice in his head taunted him.

"You tell me." The setting sun made a halo behind Kate's head as she made a small notation on the computer in front of her. "Is that how you see it, John -- letting these things happen to you?"

He snorted, feeling her trap closing around him with velvet-soft jaws. "What would you call it? Blaming other people isn't going to change a thing."

"No, but assigning blame where it belongs -- with Kolya, with the Wraith -- might make you feel better."

"How do you know who to blame?" he challenged her. "You weren't there."

Blue and golden light in the gym, shining through the stained glass windows -- a riot of color in Teyla's hair, on her shoulders. She offered him a bottle of water, padding on bare feet to sit next to him.

"Thanks." He drank deeply, and leaned back against the smooth, cool wall, closing his eyes.

"You know that we will listen if you want to talk, John." Her voice came from the red-tinted darkness behind his eyelids.

John laughed softly, but not at her. "I've got Heightmeyer for that; Elizabeth has me on regular therapy sessions." For all the good it did.

"I said that we will
listen," was Teyla's quiet reply.

"What's your plan for dealing with this situation, John?"

"What makes you think I have a plan?"

Heightmeyer's gaze was level, unafraid -- and maybe a little more astute than he usually gave her credit for. "You always have a plan."

Well, why not lay the cards out on the table. "I'm going to find Kolya and kill him," John said simply.

There was no condemnation; nothing ruffled her smooth face. "I see," she said quietly. "That's a tall order of business."

"I know." And he closed his mouth, leaving it at that.

The silence stretched on; then Kate sighed, looking at her watch. "It looks as if we're out of time for today." She stretched, and folded her laptop shut, laying it on her desk. "I think that we could take these sessions from daily to twice a week, if you're agreeable to that. I'll let Elizabeth know."

Poised to leap off the couch, John paused, frowning at her. "So you think we're, uh -- making progress?" Like hell.

Kate smiled at him, a weary smile that broke the china-doll facade and made him, grudgingly, like her a little bit. "Not at all. But it's fairly evident to me that the daily sessions aren't making much difference." She began gathering up her paperwork. "On Earth, I'd recommend some different forms of therapy that you might try, because the amount of anger that you're carrying around can be very destructive, to you personally, as well as to people around you. But we aren't on Earth, and I'm slowly coming to realize that, here, a certain amount of anger is -- necessary, perhaps."

John eyed her, cautiously, and then quirked a somewhat insincere half-smile. He didn't trust her compromises any farther than he could throw her. "Does this mean you're coming around to my side, Doc?"

Now it was her turn to laugh -- a small laugh, not especially amused. "Perhaps, but only in certain ways. On Earth, John, my job would be to help you release that burden of anger you carry -- to let it go. Here, perhaps, it might be more beneficial to -- not let it go, exactly, but direct and channel it. To shape it into a tool for survival, rather than letting it rule you. Can we agree to meet halfway?"

His knee-jerk response to that was -- well, anger, because she sounded so damn reasonable and he knew there had to be a catch somewhere. Stop patronizing me. But he'd spent his life distrusting therapists, distrusting everyone. The Pegasus Galaxy had, for once in his life, taught him trust, as well as other, harder lessons.


"I'll hold you to that 'maybe', Colonel." She smiled at him, and to his own surprise, he was able to return it.
kriadydragon: Shep 2kriadydragon on August 16th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)
I liked that. Unconventional therapy, and you made Kate more of a good-guy in this one. Too many writers like to make her a kind of subtle enemy to Sheppard, as well an incompetant. It kind of annoys me since I know she would do what she thought was best for John, not what would heal him the fastest.

Your story made her a real psychologist.
wraithfodderwraithfodder on August 17th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm snerching your words. I loved this story and like seeing Kate portrayed in a good light as well.
(no subject) - sholio on August 18th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sholio on August 18th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
Lady Moon-Loona-cyjennytork on August 16th, 2007 06:53 am (UTC)
Very nice!
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
Thank you!
linzi5linzi5 on August 16th, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this very much. A satisfying read with some perceptive observations about Sheppard's way of dealing with things. Thanks for sharing.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :)
vecturist: shepworkvecturist on August 16th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
Oh, just the story I need as I battle insomnia. I like the idea that Heightmeyer realizes she can never quite get Sheppard to completely open up and deal with his issues (or at least not with her) and that there needs to be a different way to handle his problems.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, while we have no clue how Sheppard's therapy sessions might actually go in canon, it seems like Heightmeyer would realize that someone so private and self-contained would need special handling. *g*
Wendy2sexyboys on August 16th, 2007 07:24 am (UTC)
Val knows how to push buttons :) Well this was great. Not that I'm surprised at all Love how she realizes she is going to have to deal with Shep in a new way.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)
deaka: booksdeaka on August 16th, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
It's nice to see a story where Heightmeyer isn't totally incompetent, and I liked the way you have her deal with Sheppard at the end. Because she's right -- I think in a lot of ways, anger *is* important to Sheppard.

Great work (as usual). :D

Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
Thank you! Heightmeyer's a bit difficult to write because, well, she's not always that competent on the show, either. *grin* But I do think a good therapist should be able to recognize that Sheppard's not going to respond well to conventional therapy techniques; he requires a bit of special handling.
blackpapertigerblackpapertiger on August 16th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC)
I love John-in-therapy stories, because it's always interesting to see how the authors deal with the fact that he's unlikely to respond well to it. You did an excellent job here of demonstrating how far John was willing to go in his therapy, and I really liked the acknowledgement at the end that maybe it's alright if he's angry, as long as it doesn't rule him. Cool story.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
Thanks! I think that any attempt to make Sheppard completely let go of his anger would only end in tears. *g* But he has a lifetime's practice at learning to use it.
teachyrchildrenteachyrchildren on August 16th, 2007 12:37 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done--this felt true to the characters, and you did a lot with few words.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Julie: Shep: Okie Dokiejackfan2 on August 16th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC)
Wow.. you made my like Kate! I loved her reasoning in the end, and yea, I could buy John accepting that perhaps the good doctor had a firm grasp on what he needed by way of support, rather than placating.

Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Wow.. you made my like Kate!

Heh. Thanks! I'm not that crazy about her in canon, which made me a little uncertain of my ability to adequately write her in fic -- but I'm glad you liked it. :)
Will write for cakesgatazmy on August 16th, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC)
*claps* What can I say? You make characters come alive with descriptions and dialog that are real and vivid. Lovely.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Thank you! ^_^
aelfgyfu_meadaelfgyfu_mead on August 16th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
Yes! I feel like you've gotten to the truth of both John and Kate. He's always going to think she's a bit of a quack (nothing personal; he'd hate anyone in her job!), and she's smart enough to know he's always going to hold some things back. But they can find some common ground.

As others have said, I like Kate not being incompetent or the bad guy! (In "The Gift," we find out that Rodney's seeing her, perhaps voluntarily; I can't imagine him coming quietly out of her office if he doesn't think he's getting something out of meeting with her, and we all know Rodney doesn't suffer fools gladly!)
Sholiosholio on August 18th, 2007 03:41 am (UTC)
Thank you!

He's always going to think she's a bit of a quack (nothing personal; he'd hate anyone in her job!), and she's smart enough to know he's always going to hold some things back. But they can find some common ground.

Yes, that's exactly what I was going for, and I'm so glad it came across! John's never really going to see Kate, or ANY therapist, in a positive light. But I think they came out of it with some mutual respect.
wildcat88: Sheppard profilewildcat88 on August 16th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
I really like your portrayal of Heightmeyer here. She's often shown in fanfiction as a nemesis to Sheppard. Yet, in The Gift, when Teyla tells John she can't sleep, the first person he goes to is Kate. I do think he would have a lot harder time talking about himself.

Great comparison between his discomfort after Sumner and after Common Ground/Phantoms. I also really like the little glimpses with his team.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)
Thank you! I haven't always been happy with how Kate is portrayed in canon (especially in Echoes) but it's pretty clear that Weir and others *do* respect her as a therapist, which means she must be pretty good at it. And Sheppard would be a therapist's nightmare...
cosmic_questcosmic_quest on August 16th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
I really liked this Kate (usually she's depicted this irritating pain to rival 'tell me all your problems' Troi from Star Trek!). You portrayed her in more sympathetic light, as a civillian psychologist who knows she can never fully gain the trust of a military Shep but is willing to work around that.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it, and liked my version of Kate too. Sheppard must be a therapist's worst nightmare, heh...
random_clonerandom_clone on August 17th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
Very good story! *applauds*

Sheppard's anger was portrayed very believably, as well as his protectiveness towards his team. As others have said before, your writing of Heightmeyer was *excellent*. I could truly see her doing this in an episode.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! Very flattering praise. (And LOL at your icon -- that looks just like my dog!)
d_odysseyd_odyssey on August 17th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
Just parrot what has been said, love your portrayals of Sheppard and Heightmeyer. You write her as trying to reach out to John, competent and able to see beyond black and white, not the rigid stance she is usually given. The glimpses into the interaction with his teammates, also give more credence to the discussions between doctor and patient. John is his usual emotionally boxed in detached self, never saying more than he has to. You capture him perfectly with him cooly stating he is going to kill Kolya. Very nicely done.
Sholio: SGA-Sheppard rainsholio on August 18th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! It sounds like I achieved everything that I set out to do with this story, and I am very happy. :)

... and your icon, where did that picture come from? I would love to see the original!
(no subject) - d_odyssey on August 18th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sholio on August 18th, 2007 05:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - d_odyssey on August 18th, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sholio on August 18th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)