A/N: This little ditty wouldn't leave my head. Those bloody muses! Can't decide if I want to hug them or smack them upside the head. They're obsessive, you see. John just wasn't insane enough in my other stories.

Warning: Spoiler

I haven't seen Allies, but I read the spoiler because I have no patience. Apparently, Sheppard's vanished or blew up or something. Anywho, I'm milking that idea, so this story could be considered a kind of aftermath for that episode. However, seeing as how the premiere will end up doing something entirely different, you might want to consider this an AU, an alternate ending, or it could easily just having nothing to do with that episode at all. Some hints toward Allies, though they may not be entirely accurate. Sorry.


By Stealth Dragon

Rating – T, always T, always for safety because of violence. Language... eh. Here and there, never a lot.

Disclaimer – Really now, how dare you even consider them to be mine. Stargate and all its precious characters belong to others I have no acquaintanceship with. No profits are being made. It's all for good old fun.

Synopsis – Sheppard hates it, doesn't even realize it's happening, but pity is what's going to save his life. Shep whump, duh. I am utterly beastly to him, even more so than in Just Keep Swimming. He's a complete wacko in this one. A male OC named Kace – a telepath, but not like CJ from Just Keep Swimming - and plenty of team involvement in which Rodney proves himself a mean drunk. Never, never, never any slash... Ever! Always friendships.

A/N: Jabberwocky will still be updated daily since it's finished and all. This little number will be slow in coming until it's finished. I already have a few chapters down, but not a lot. Still don't want to get ahead of myself especially since I keep going back to fix things. Chapter one I'm posting because it's fine how it is and I want to see what people think thus far.


The techs would chew him a new one if they saw him now. Feet propped up on the dialing console, chair tilted back, hands clasped behind his head; John was the epitome of stoic. He had a grin all ready for the reprimand, but the wait was going to be a long one. Not a tech was in sight.

Elizabeth had yet to say anything. Her stance was antithesis to John. Stiff back, folded arms, and lips pressed in a hard, straight line. She was giving the gate stares that could have burned holes through it.

" Come on," John urged. He caught the slight whining tenor to his own voice, and cringed at it. " You can't stay this pissed off forever."

Elizabeth's only reaction was to blink. " I can... and I will. Don't tell me what I can and can't do, John. I'm your superior, you're my subordinate."

She was merely stating a fact, a fact that stung and finally got John to lose the grin. The words didn't sound like Weir, didn't fit her, and it made John's chest tighten with an invisible vice. He dropped his feet to the floor and sat straighter like a man at attention, giving due to his superior. " This has nothing to do with chain of command, Elizabeth. This has to do with the fact that you can't bend the universe to your will. Giving everything the cold shoulder's only good for getting a headache. You can't stay like this, you have to move on."

" No." It was blunt, sharp as a knife that pricked John and made him wince.

" Why not?" he demanded.

" Would you?"

She had him there. Hell no he wouldn't. He would keep going, keep searching, keep clinging to 'leave no man behind' like it was his weapon of choice. But then there would be someone else spouting the lines of 'let go' and 'move on'. Probably McKay, or Teyla, most likely Ronon. Where were they, anyways?

John rose and went over to Elizabeth. He placed his hand on her shoulder, felt her go rigid as ice, and just as cold.

John wasn't supposed to beg, but now was not the time to let his pride call the shots. " Elizabeth, please..."

" No, John."

John's hand, even on Weir's shoulder, was unsteady, and the tremor crawled up his arm to spread through the rest of his body, taking the cold with it.

He was so freakin' cold.

" You're not helping," he said, sounding so desperate it floored him.

" I am John," Weir said. " I know I am. I'm all you have to hold onto..."


Rough hands, rough holds, grabs to his arms, his shoulders, gripping, squeezing, jerking, and backed up by the piercing shouts in his ears. John burst from his dream with a gasp and eyes snapping open.

" Get up you bony little...!"

No, no, no, no, no, he almost had it, almost grasped it. It was right there – a figure, a name. E... something. Wire, Wayne, Wur? Wrong, wrong, all wrong, too bloody wrong! Who liked to say bloody? Someone liked to say bloody. The man with a funny voice, yes, with a name starting with M... no, that was the other one... R... No! Wrong, always wrong! Close enough to touch, this time, and they came. Not again! Not freakin' again!

Panting, struggling, John snarled, whirled around, and lunged.


Kace rubbed his hand back and forth over his scalp. Nothing smooth about his skull anymore with the fine, pricking stubble coming in. It had its merits as being a handy way to scratch his palm, but the more hair that came in, the better cover the minuscule vermin would have, and then his time would be wasted trying to pick the little suckers out.

Kace's scalp rubbing produced a scraping sound resounding hollowly in his skull and amplified by the slick stone walls of the cell. Moisture had his shirt plenty soaked and his back itching. He shifted to rub his back against the stones, making the rusty bed squeak out like it was in pain. It was a sharp sound, still echoing long after the fact through the corridor of barred cells. Kace flicked his eyes to the bars and into the hall, then back to the body curled like a sleeping cur on the bed across from him.

He envied his cell mate's sleeping habits. Kace never had an easy time at reaching the deeper levels of unconsciousness normally associated with sleep. Kace's mind was too busy to give into incoherence. The thick dreams this man was experiencing was making the ambient around Kace vibrate, and it was leaving a taste on his tongue – something both sweet and bitter.

No happy wakings for Sheppard, not this time, probably not ever again. A gasp and a shudder was the usual form of waking, but Gorek and his brutes would be dropping in soon, and their manner of waking Sheppard tended to produce amusing aftershocks.

Kace smirked in slight anticipation. He wasn't normally a brutal man, but advantage and necessity usually called for a cold disposition, and he could use this scrawny, wild man's insanity to his advantage.

Kace was tempted to take a little peek into Sheppard's mind and catch a glimpse of these dreams that had him moaning, whimpering and begging some nights, or completely still on others. But dreams tended to be fragmented and fast, as well as a waste of energy. To probe the man's mind while awake was dangerous enough, being unstable as it was. Kace could probably snatch snippets of thoughts and still be safe, but not yet, not in this place and under these conditions. Kace had only read enough of Sheppard's mind to determine if having one eye open was required while sleeping.

The images had come fast, so fast that Kace didn't recall them. What he had felt had left him shaken. Strong fear, strong loss, strong confusion, and even stronger pain. Then by mere observation alone, Kace had determined that as long as he left Sheppard alone, Sheppard would leave him alone.

Sheppard had been here before Kace. For how long exactly, Kace couldn't say. Too long, because the man didn't look as though he'd last much longer. Kace's own arrival had been four days ago, dragged in on a trumpped up charge of shop lifting from a decrepit food stand selling shriveled, sour fruit. All part of the plan, of course. Now that he was where he wanted to be, the rest he was improvising, because Sheppard had presented him with a much better alternative to his original idea of jumping the warden and knocking him out. Now that idea had been pushing fate.

Sheppard was proof that first impressions were excepted only by idiots. Being shoved into a cell and finding the solitary, emaciated, apparently brain-dead man huddled in the corner staring at nothing with eyes that looked to be made of glass, had Kace both laughing and considering to side-step a mind scan this time around. He was glad he'd done the scan, because it had left him uneasy. Always wise to know what he was up against.

After that, things got interesting, and Kace found himself admiring the skinny fellow.

Gorek and the thugs had called the man Sheppard and only Sheppard. Sheppard was tall, though Kace was a quarter of an inch taller, not to mention three years older. Kace had gotten an age somewhere within the scan, popping into his own head like an epiphany. Opposites didn't stop there. Kace relied on brains and brawn, and kept the muscles of his body thick. Kace's scan had given him a few glimpses of a once lean man, healthy, strong, but slender. That was getting eaten away now, and Sheppard wasn't that man anymore.

Kace studied Sheppard's back, the arch of the ribcage discernible through the thin, ragged, dirt brown excuse for a long-sleeved and hooded shirt, mottled in holes and dried blood. He didn't seem to be breathing. Kace, however, knew better than to check for a pulse. Sheppard was alive, Kace could feel it, and if he closed his eyes and listened hard enough, he could hear the heart beating. Outside sensory was his specialty, it had to be in his profession. Sensing a body before he saw it was why he was still alive today.

A clank and a thunk echoed toward Kace, and he rolled his head toward the bars of the cell. Tromping, growing louder as it grew closer. Gorek, the over-muscled behemoth with the cropped black hair and the square jaw, stepped into sight, stiff-backed and expressionless. Behind him were the thugs – four this time around - mimicking Gorek from the black uniform to the close-cropped hair. Kace curled his lips back from his teeth in a lazy grin, and tilted his chin up in greeting.

" Gorek, you're early. Busy day ahead?"

Gorek narrowed his eyes at Kace, then slapped his palm on the lock. There followed a click, and Gorek was able to yanked the cell door open hard enough to nearly rip it from its hinges. He didn't say anything, just went to Sheppard's bed.

Kace sighed. " I wouldn't do that..."

The thugs followed in, surrounding Sheppard, giving him a deceptively fragile appearance around so much muscle. One grabbed Sheppard's arm and jerked it. Sheppard jerked it back, rolling into a tighter ball. Sneering, the thug tried again, grabbing both arms, another taking Sheppard's shoulders. What followed was an explosion of chaos when Sheppard began struggling. The guards pulled on him, yelled, called him vicious names. That's when Sheppard whipped around and lunged to send the blond guard to the floor with Sheppard on top, straddling the chest as he let his fists fly. He got in a few good slugs that drew blood from the nose, snarling and letting loose cries that were better off being called roars. It took Gorek and the other four to pull Sheppard off. Halfway up, Sheppard turned with another roar to take down the brown haired giant, battering away with eyes wide and animal wild in the pale, shadowed face. The intent of the blows was to kill - no doubt, no question. Rage rolled off Sheppard like heat from a blaze one foot away from Kace. The skinny man wanted blood.

The next time Gorek and the rest pulled Sheppard up, they threw him back-first into the wall. Kace flinched at the impact that knocked the wind from Sheppard's lungs, and the animal madness from his eyes. He slid stunned down the wall, panting with a heaving chest. Gorek, seething, stalked over to the slimmer man now on the floor, grabbing him by the throat and hauling him to his feet. Kace actually shrank back, knowing what was coming next.

Gorek reached to the holster strapped to his waist and removed a palm-sized device with a small, metal node on one end. He pressed this to Sheppard's temple, and switched it on with his thumb. Sheppard's body went rigid as a tree. He arched his back, opened his mouth, and screamed until his lungs emptied of air and he couldn't draw any back in. Gorek smirked.

Pain had tackled anger out the door. It didn't roll off Sheppard, it shot off him, piercing Kace's skin with shards of ice that cut into his veins to run with his blood. Then it was gone, done, and Sheppard's body went limp in Gorek's hand. Gorek opened his fingers to let Sheppard drop into a panting, shuddering, twitching heap on the floor.

" That was bad, Sheppard," Gorek reprimanded as though Sheppard were little more than a child. " Very, very, bad!" He kicked John in the chest. The shot of pain was knife sharp now. " What have we told you about that! Your meals will be reduced..."

Kace stiffened at that. " Hey, you already cut his meals. The man's gotta eat..."

Kace's efforts resulted in a fist to telepath's own face that snapped his head around.

" Shut up!" the meat head blond barked, spraying blood out his nose. Kace gave him a bored look while rubbing his now tenderized jaw.

" I was just saying..."

" Well don't," Gorek growled. The man always fancied himself as being half-animal. But animal was more Sheppard's state of being, or would be if he was moving. The blond with the bleeding face and the brown haired meat-head took each of Sheppard's arms and began dragging him from the cell. Kace could only watch as they removed him, then pulled him to his feet with head lolling limply on the useless neck. There would be a nasty bruise on Sheppard's back, adding to the collection of bruises and lashes Kace always glimpsed through the holes in the shirt. Play time was only fun for the thugs. Kace saw through the meat-heads what was done with Sheppard. Something about the skeletal man made him rather unique, something in or on his body. Devices alien in origin activated under his touch, even within his mere presence, like a pet waking at its master's return. He'd seen images of Sheppard commanded to touch this and touch that. If he didn't – it wasn't pretty, and Kace usually stopped the scan when the images turned to kicks, punches, whip-lashes, and that brain scrambling device. Mostly the brain scrambling device.

Gorek flashed Kace a dangerous glare before stepping out and slamming the cell door shut behind.

Kace waited until they were beyond sight, then reached beneath the stained mattress to pull out the nearly straightened coil of wire he'd finally managed to twist and pull from the rusty bed. He began bending it with grunts and gritted teeth, straightening it another few inches. A few inches more, and it would be long enough.

He heard a scream that made him pause.

Kace sighed. It wouldn't be too long before he was out of here. A day more, two days at most. He just hoped his new buddy Shep survived long enough to put the escape into action. Kace was relying on him now, because he wasn't in the mood to do things the hard way.


A/N: My cruelty knows no bounds. Massive whump ahead. Don't be mad, John, you'll live. More revealed in the next chapter. And the team will be there.