Alright. Someone tell my brain to shut down. I get new ideas, I have to write them down. They annoy me otherwise.

General disclaimers apply, I do not own G.I. Joe or any of the characters, I'm just having a touch of fun.

This first chapter is rated G. Warning, future chapters may contain graphic violence. Use caution and discretion before reading on.


"And I find it kind of funny I find it kind of sad, the dream in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had" Gary Jules/Tears for Fears "Mad World"


It had been four years now. Four years since the day Shana O'Hara's life had changed. She sighed deeply. This day was always hard for her. The nightmares had started again and she knew her only hope for sleep would be in the little white pills she was given for that purpose. She hoped that eventually she would be able to get through an anniversary without the nightmares and insomnia. She took a deep breath and glided through her apartment, getting herself a glass of water. She wanted something stronger, but she knew better than to mix it with her meds, especially if she was going to be alone.

She was alone a lot of the time now. It bothered her sometimes, but she didn't know how to change it. Four years out of the military and she was still trying to figure out what else she could do with her life. Everyone pushed teaching on her, but she didn't know if she wanted to teach. Teaching seemed almost like giving up.

Part of her seemed to still cling to her old life in the military, refusing to believe that it had marched on without her, although she knew intellectually that it had. When she was recovering physically, everyone had supported her through the highs and lows that went along with it. The mental recovery was much harder. She admitted that she didn't make it any easier on anyone. She was so angry then, she lashed out at those that cared for her most. Slowly, she alienated most of her friends from the military. They wouldn't admit it, but she was discharged and they were off on missions, who had the time to come and chat anymore?

She set her glass back down, sitting on the couch, flipping the CD player on via remote and patting the couch next to her, giving a sharp whistle. A large german shepherd bounded up onto the couch, grateful for the invitation to sit with her. She scratched him lovingly behind his ears, smiling as she could tell how much he enjoyed the attention. "You're a good boy, aren't you, Chevy?"

She got some odd reactions when people heard his name, thinking he was named after a car. In truth, he had been named when she received him, Chevalier. It was a french term meaning 'knight' or 'gallant', and it certainly fit the dog. He had been a lifesaver in more ways than she could count. The most important being how he could fend off the crushing loneliness that engulfed her too often. On days when it was a struggle to just get out of bed, knowing he was depending on her and waiting for her, helped motivate her.

A wet nose nuzzled her hand, as she had slowed in scratching and he was unhappy with the change in plans. She smiled and resumed the more vigorous attention. Her watch said that it was nearly noon. Her therapist really wanted her to get out today, even if it was just for an office visit, but she wasn't sure if she could do it. She wasn't truly agoraphobic, but on this day, of all days, it was harder to leave her apartment.

Her phone rang and it immediately switched to the answering machine, "You've reached 555-3475, I'm probably screening calls. Hang up at your own risk." There were a few clicks as a male voice came through the small speaker.

"Shana? I know you are there. Pick up." She sighed, leaning over to grab the extension.

"Yeah. I'm here." She didn't want to be prodded about how she felt or whether she was doing alright. There was little escaping that with fathers unfortunately.

"Honey, are you alright? I wish you would have come home for this." His voice was low and concerned. He knew how difficult it was for her today, he had dealt with two of her previous anniversaries at his house as she recovered and one here as she settled into her new life on her own. She refused to let him come up or fly down to him this time, she wanted to do it on her own.

"This is my home now. I know you don't like that, but it is. I do like it here and I need to learn how to be on my own again. I couldn't live like that anymore. You know I love you, but I have to be independent."

"I know. I know, but it is my job as a father to worry about you." He sighed, "Call me if you need anything. I can fly up there in just a few hours. Or I can just talk to you."

"Thanks. I'll call if I need it. I do appreciate the concern. I love you."

"I love you too. Remember, just a phone call away."


Time seemed to crawl by. She held the bottle of pills tightly in one hand. She was trying to avoid taking any yet. She wanted to get through the day conscious. Her mind's eye helpfully replayed what happened any time her mind started to wander. Chevy whined softly, sensing his mistress's unease.

She got up and paced around the apartment. It was a nice size, her disability payments were very generous and so she didn't have to be concerned financially. Her father loved her, but in this situation, she could easily see him becoming smothering. She didn't have many goals for her life now, but being independent was one of them.

She stopped by the laptop, tempted to get on and message with some of the people she had met through her recovery and rehabilitation. She didn't want to do it though. Not without going out first. If she was going to get on, she wanted them all to congratulate her on doing this.

Another lap around the apartment convinced her that she could do it. She grabbed her sunglasses, unlocked the 2 deadbolts and chain lock on her door, gave another whistle to Chevy, then taking his lead and a deep breath, opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.

She was frozen there for a length of time; it seemed like forever to her, even though it couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes. She retreated back into the apartment for a moment, silently willing herself to go back out. She was stronger than this. It would feel better to have the sun shining on her skin and reassure her that she was out of that cell and free.

Out again. Chevy dutifully mimicked his mistress's movements, waiting patiently until she was ready to go. She took a halting step, her hand against the wall to give her a sense of grounding and direction. That accomplished, she relocked the apartment, and then headed towards the doors that would lead them outside. She kept a hand on the wall, almost as a security blanket, knowing that firm thing was there to stabilize her in case of trouble was reassuring.

They reached the doors to the outside; she slipped her glasses over her eyes and stepped out into the brightly shining sun and down the steps. Standing on the sidewalk, she felt better. She had done it. She had gone out on her own on the anniversary. She debated where to go now that she was out, debating between getting something to eat and going to the park. She decided on the park. If she got panicked in a restaurant it would be awkward leaving immediately, with bills to pay and excuses to make. If she went to the park, she could stay as little or as long as she wanted and if she wanted to bolt, no one had to know but her.

Decision made, she and Chevy headed to Central Park. They only lived a few blocks away and with each step away from her apartment she felt stronger and better. When they arrived at the park, she sat down on a bench, Chevy obediently lying down at her feet. She scratched his ears again; he was such a good dog.

She sat there, basking in the sunlight, wondering idly if she should have put some sunblock on first. Someone sat down on the bench near her, and she spoke congenially, "Hello." The person got up immediately and left without a word. She frowned, hating that reaction. It may be New York, but is a polite word too much trouble?

Through her annoyed thoughts, the cold tendrils of fear began to weave their way into her consciousness. They caressed her gently, whispering about people watching her, planning on taking advantage of her, of hurting her. She stood up. She could feel eyes on her; she knew someone was watching her, even if she didn't know whom. The fear gripped her more tightly and she grasped Chevy's lead with white knuckles and whispered, "Let's go home Chevy."

They hurried back to her apartment, still feeling followed and watched, using all of her will to not run headlong through the streets to get away. The walk to the park had taken them ten minutes; the return trip was only 4. She unlocked the security door and practically dove in, slamming it closed behind her. She felt marginally safer with that door closed, but continued quickly to her apartment, unlocking it and then quickly relocking all the various deadbolts and chains. She leaned against the door, breathing heavily, slipping down the door to the ground and shaking with fear. As she began to calm, the intercom on her door rang. Her head turned toward the sound sharply, carefully getting up and pressing the button, speaking into the microphone, her voice shakier than she would have liked. "Hello?"

Silence from the speaker and she began to think they had left when a familiar voice resonated through her ears, "I'm ...I'm sorry. I should have called first."

She stood there, stunned. What in the hell was he doing here? She didn't know what to say, so she just buzzed him in and unlocked the door. She sat on the couch, feeling lightheaded and disconnected for a moment. What in the hell was Conrad doing here, today of all days?