I've been digging through my old stuff I wanted to post, and I found this little one-shot sitting in the corner, alone and in need of posting, and my being the sentimental person I am, I indulged it. DISCLAIMER: If I owned TNBC, I would keep it all to myself, so no, I don't

After reading TNBC fanfics for a few days, I decided, well, what the heck, I might as well wirte a Jack-origin fic of my own, eh? This is the introduction, kind of a little Jack-angst, since I most just write angst, and this story can't really involve a lot of angst after Jack becomes, well, Jack, since you can't really torture a skeleton all that well. I mean, Jack falls out of the sky and lands on a stone statue and doesn't come out that much worse for the wear. So, this is a philosphical look at what Jack might have been before be became a skeleton. I had plans for a longer fic after this, but it didn't have a lot of action, so it died in the making, but this (which was supposed to be the prologue) still sounded really good, so make of it what you will.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Please enjoy and REVIEW!


Traditional pitiful.

That was the best way to describe the figure. He was thin as a rail, skin tone pale and sickly, clothing hanging in tatters on his shuddering frame. The shudders came from coughs and shivers, a product of the damp and cold, and the various illnesses that could easily penetrate his body through the various infected wounds. In short, very traditional prisoner treatment.

He hung by his wrists from the wall, in traditional medieval-dungeon style, against a traditional damp stone wall, with the traditional darkness lit only by a single touch, spluttering traditionally. The traditional heavy wooden door, with its traditional metal studs and inset grille, had been bared on the outside in the event of his breaking free of the traditional metal chains that bound his wrists and ankles.

Obviously, he had tried. All four of these joints were mutilated with cuts and abrasions, which had scabbed over in that traditional way that lets you know they're infected, even if you couldn't feel the intense pain. Of course, that pain also came from the long marks on his back, sides, and chest. The burnt flesh on his upper arm had long ago numbed in the face of the fresher, more intense pains.

Gravity was what really held him prisoner – his weight, lean as it was, rested on his wrists, while short but deceptively heavy chains dragged down around his ankles. Without knowing that he was naturally tall, with long limbs, the assumption might be made that his stay had stretched him out a bit – or, perhaps, that the rack had been implemented. It would have been, but they couldn't find a rack big enough. They'd just used longer whips, with little spikes on the end.

The traditional prisoner had stopped thinking long ago. He'd found that thinking about things made them worse. Thinking about why he was down here was the worst of all. He could still picture that nasty little traitor he had once called friend, with his greasy hair, weasel-like eyes, and grasping figures patting his large, round stomach or handling his prized bugs. He loved those bugs, more than anything. Much, much more than his old friends.

He grimaced and pushed the memory away, trying to fade back out into the comforting darkness of unconsciousness. He closed his dark eyes tight and forced himself away from the world, but the world pushed him back. He sighed. He'd long ago cried out the last of his tears.

That was when he noticed that he was not alone.

He looked up, trying vainly to see who was there. The room was empty, sensibility told him. Yet, he knew that there was somebody there, with the certainty of someone looking at a falling object, saying its gong to hit the ground. There was somebody else there.

His voice was a harsh croak. "Who's there?"

The faintest laugh, high and tinkling, floated through the air like the ghost of a dream.

He coughed to clear his throat a bit more. "What do you want?"

This time, the ghost had words.

"You."

There was everything, and there was nothing. And afterwards, he was not that person, who had been in that place. Who had been found as a puddle of blood and ash when a last, long scream had sounded through the traditional dungeon. But it never happened to him. Not to him.

He knew of terror, true, frightening terror. He knew of pain, of suffering, of horrible things that he remembers only as ghosts of dreams. He uses that knowledge, and it makes him stronger. He is fearsome and terrifying, more so than any of the others who have come. Much more so. They will name him their king. He will be proud, for a while.

But that has not happened yet.

He finds his old friend, though they do not know each other. He learns treachery once again. And this time, he can extract revenge, and banishment. And, sometime much later, he will destroy that once-friend.

But that has not happened yet.

He will become famous throughout two worlds, and perhaps more. He will find the love of his life, and happiness, and joy, and purpose to his unusual existence.

But that has not happened yet.

Now is a very relative term. Traditionally, it applies to what is most recent. But when all of time is at your command, the traditional meanings are useless.

Now is a place called Halloween. Now is a town in this place called Halloween. Now is the ghost of the dream of the prisoner, now become one of those who live in the town in the place called Halloween.

And this is the story of now.

And thus the movie . . . please review!