Critical Mass: Revisited
Zao-Jun had been in his host's body for nearly one month now. The host himself was still screaming in the back of his mind but he was looking forward to subduing Stephen Caldwell in the near future. He could still remember the look of pure horror and panic which had adorned his face when he had been implanted through his human host's mouth. The incision made was now fully healed thanks to his ability to repair his host's unwilling body. In the last month he had discovered a great many things about the tau'ri that his ancestors had not known. He possessed the knowledge of his entire lineage and yet, not one of them had lived as a tau'ri the way he had, forcing him to be reliant on his host's mind for survival. He spent every available moment searching and probing Stephen Caldwell's memories to aid his deception. The man had indeed lived an interesting life. He had no children to speak of. The one woman he had though about settling down to have a family with, had died of cancer a few years back. The man's loneliness filtered through into Zao-Jun and he longed for a mate too. However he would have to make do with his host for company until the Goa'uld could retake their empire and rule the stars once more.
He had been rather disappointed when he first saw his host; he would have preferred a more handsome and youthful body but beggar can't be choosers, he had a job to do and this host was the key to its success. He could always 'trade' him in once he was safely back within the fold of his own kind. Although he though ruthlessly that man would make a handsome host for either myself or my mate.
Stephen Caldwell screamed relentlessly in the back of his mind when he sensed the monster invading his body's thoughts. Stephen had tried in vain for a month to get someone's attention to make them see that it was not him that was commanding them. But it was to no avail. And now Lt Colonel Sheppard was stood before Colonel Caldwell delivering his crisp report on the latest mishaps on Atlantis, while the monster prospected him as a possible host or mate. If Stephen could have been sick he certainly would have. The thought of someone else going through this torture was unbearably. He might not like Sheppard but he wouldn't wish this on his worst enemy. Who, incidentally was currently coiled around his spine and inside his skull.
The journey on the Daedalus had been so boring for Zao-Jun he had to uphold his façade and unfortunately for him Caldwell did not lead a very exciting life. He sat in his command chair, ordered people about a bit and did a lot of paperwork. Not really the god-like existence Zao-Jun had been expecting when he had first matured. Still here he was now with an entire city to play with. The Daedalus was leaving again in three days and once the fail-safes on the ZPM were disables, he would have nothing else to do. He had no compunction to do Caldwell's work beyond his little act. So long as he did enough to get by, no one would suspect him and that left him plenty of time to have fun with the pretty 'flyboy' standing in front of him. He admired the grace with which this 'Sheppard' moved. The easy walk and strength which emanated from within him. He noted that his host was irked by almost everything about this man which would only make his plans more fun. He had been desperately trying to find a way to shut his host up; there really was only so much screaming in his head he could cope with.
He longed to break his host's mind and now he had found the perfect way to do it. Lt Colonel Sheppard had an air of defiance about him; it drew Zao-Jun to him. The Goa'uld were always drawn to those with beauty and strength and John Sheppard had both. It really was a shame he couldn't take Sheppard as a host himself but he had a mission to attend to, which would go to the dogs if Caldwell were to be discovered. No, he couldn't risk it, he reasoned. It was a pity really that such a beauty would die when Atlantis blew but perhaps he could provide Zao-Jun with some 'comfort' in the meantime. He smiled to Sheppard when the man finished his report and sent him on his way. Oh yes, he was going to enjoy himself here.
Later that evening…
He prowled the corridors of Atlantis, his job completed. He had uploaded the virus that would disable the ZPM's Fail-safes only moments ago and was now looking to have a little fun. The voice of Stephen Caldwell was harsh and demanding in the back of his head. You really had to admire the man, there was absolutely no way anyone could hear him but still he shouted, pleaded and begged with his torturer. Zao-Jun smiled in anticipation, he had been looking forward to this evenings events all day long. Ever since his encounter with Colonel Sheppard he had been unable to concentrate on anything else. For while he could not take Sheppard back with him to earth, he was determined to break the pilot simply because he could, and he knew that by breaking Sheppard he would finally put a stop to the din in his head.
Stephen was well aware of the beast's plans. He had spent most of the day protesting against them. He doubted that he would survive Zao-Jun breaking Sheppard, he was in utter despair. He longed to be free of this torture, even if that freedom cost him his life. He could not stand by and watch another person being raped or molested yet that was his fate. His own body was betraying him, carrying him towards Sheppard's room. He tried to shrink from it, to hide in the darkness but while his body's eyes were open he was forced to watch. To watch and to be utterly disgusted.
He rapped his fist on the door three times in quick succession. It was late but he could hear movement beyond the door, the sounds of a guitar playing halted and footfalls headed towards the door. Sheppard stood before him wearing tight black jeans and a t-shirt. He looked calm and he stood at ease.
"Can I help you, sir?" he asked politely.
He seemed to be a little unsure. Zao-Jun guessed that he was surprised to see his commanding officer so late and at his door.
"Yes I believe you can Sheppard." Zao-Jun moved swiftly into the room surveying its contents as he did so.
The Guitar that had been played earlier was propped up against the wall beside the narrow bed. There was a poster of some man, wearing black and holding a guitar, adorning the adjacent wall. The room was neat on the whole and Zao-Jun was quietly surprised. He would have thought that the man who slouched his way through the day would have had an untidy room. His host agreed.
"How's that then, sir?" Sheppard asked.
He smiled a knowingly evil grin and wrapped his fingers around the rope in his pocket. Before Sheppard could take another breathe Zao-Jun used his superior strength to wrestle the startled man on to the bed. With dexterity he quickly tied his prize to the bed face up, his wrists bound together and arms pulled taut as he struggled.
"What the hell do you think your doing!"
Zao-Jun quickly positioned himself so that he was sat on top of Sheppard's thighs, straddling the thinner man, pressing him into the mattress. He could have said something but it was so much more fun to let Sheppard struggle on, his words falling upon deaf ears. He leaned down across Sheppard's chest and licked his left cheek from jaw line to ear.
"You do know I'm not gay, right?" Sheppard looked like he was on the verge of a panic attack. His breath coming in stilted gasps his eyes looking around the room wildly.
Stephen Caldwell could not take this. He had not been trained to watch himself rape his subordinates. No amount of training could have prepared him for this. His heart went out to Sheppard, he wasn't a bad man; a bad officer maybe but he still did not deserve what was about to be done to him. No one did. He cringed when he heard Sheppard's protest that he was not gay. Nor was he! But apparently this Goa'uld wasn't as particular as they were. He was repulsed when he heard himself laugh mercilessly at Sheppard's plight. The Goa'uld said nothing more but gagged Sheppard with a small cloth. Whimpers could still be heard through the fabric as he watched horrified when his hand moved across Sheppard's body.
He felt so powerful. It was one thing to have the memories of power, another thing entirely to experience it first hand. Adrenaline coursed through his veins adding fuel to his passion. The more Sheppard struggled the better it was. He wanted to film this so that he could watch himself plunder the pilot again and again. In the heat of his ecstasy the voice of Steven Caldwell disappeared, the Colonel finally subdued. The tanned body writhed and fought beneath him, but he showed no mercy. He was a god. He could take who and what he wanted. There would be no one to stop him. He bit down hard as he came, shuddering, drawing blood from the bite on Sheppard's shoulder.
His fingers trailed across Sheppard's skin causing the man to flinch, he laughed once more. His human body had it uses and provided him with such pleasures otherwise unattainable for a Goa'uld. He pulled out of Sheppard's body quickly, causing him to cry out in pain, the other man's blood on his spent penis. He fastened his pants methodically and moved to untie Colonel Sheppard from the bed. There were tears on Sheppard's face and he refused to acknowledge his CO as he was being freed.
Stephen cried. The look of hurt on Sheppard's face was too much. He never wanted to inflict such pain and misery on another person ever again. He curled himself into a ball and prayed for death to take him. He had felt the pleasure the Goa'uld had experienced throughout the ordeal and that sickened him too. Somehow this was worse than the Trust's plan's to destroy Atlantis. He had been able to keep hope alive in his heart when the virus had been uploaded. A computer virus was something McKay the irritating, self important genius could solve. But Sheppard could not be fixed so easily. The man looked bruised and not just physically where his fingers had dug into his hips. His expression was one of betrayal, shock and disbelief.
Once he had released Sheppard from his binding, he forcefully grasped his jaw bring them eye to eye. He was careful not to expose himself but this needed to be said with conviction.
"This goes no further than this room do I make myself clear Sheppard?"
It wasn't a question. It was a demand. Sheppard's pretty hazel eyes locked on to his for the first time. The defiance was still there but it was tainted. He saw the moment Sheppard understood the order and was pleased when he received a tight,
"Perfectly clear, sir," In response,
"Good. I would hate to have to tell General Landry that the military commander of Atlantis was a homosexual."
Sheppard looked stunned, as he nodded his understanding. However he was the one who bore the marks of the encounter. Any Dr would soon see that he had had anal sex. There was no denial to be had. Zao-Jun knew this. He whistled a jaunty tune to himself as he made his way back to his quarters aboard the Daedalus his mind silent for the first time in a month.
Throughout the next day he watched Sheppard whenever he could. The man was as good as his word. Their was a slight gait to his walk, a pained look on his handsome face whenever he sat, but he soon schooled his face into a mask to hide his inner turmoil and pain. Colonel Caldwell was impressed. He doubted that he would be able to pull of such an act after last nights events. If he ever got free from his prison he would hold Colonel Sheppard in high regard. He still remained silent, if he was quiet then Zao-Jun was less likely to hurt Sheppard again, he'd learned that the hard way. Zao-Jun was unable to hear his thoughts so he was free to curse his captor as often as he wished. He was also free to regret, pray and plot. Zao-Jun was not very careful when it came to his host and Stephen had access to every piece of information the Goa'uld did. He made sure to memorise the codes to re-enable the ZPM's fail-safes, just in case he was presented with an opportunity to tell someone. Besides if nothing else it gave him something to focus on to distract him from the look in Sheppard's eyes.
Sheppard was good, but not that good. Their were huge bags under his eyes from lack of sleep and his walk was no where near as easy or lazy as it had been before. Zao-Jun was pleased to note that his little toy was behaving himself and not drawing any attention to himself or Colonel Caldwell. He had successfully had his fun without jeopardising the mission. He wanted to see Sheppard again but he doubted that he would get away with it a second time, the man looked mutinous. Besides he thought to himself I broke my host, Sheppard was just an added perk of the job. He spent the rest of the day exploring Atlantis gathering any Intel on the Ancients he could. He made sure to record his finding and saved them to disc. The rest of the Trust would be please with him. Destroyed Atlantis, brought home new technologies and information to use against the Tau'ri. Very, very pleased with him.
Stephen almost cried with relief when his voice announced that the Daedalus was leaving Atlantean space. For two whole days he'd watched Sheppard along with the monster in his head. Sheppard had looked exhausted when Zao-Jun told him he was leaving. It was obvious to Stephen that the Lt Colonel was not sleeping. Not that he blamed him. he would have had a hard time acting all day as if nothing were wrong when really all he wanted to do was scream at the top of his lungs the injustices of it all. He knew Sheppard was a private man but to keep something like this a secret? He couldn't have done it. His respect for Sheppard had increased ten fold over the last two day. He just wished he could tell him that. But even if he ever did get this damn snake out of his head he doubted he would be able to look Sheppard in the eye again.
They'd been on board the Daedalus for nearly a week when they received the message from the SGC.
"Colonel Caldwell we just received a sup-space transmission from an SG team on P4M-399, it' an urgent message from Stargate Command we are to relay to Atlantis."
"What's the message?"
"Do not dial stargate to earth a trust operative has planted a bomb in Atlantis to be detonated upon completion of dialling sequence we are to maintain our position until the message has been delivered for further Intel as it develops."
"Are we still in range to relay the message to Atlantis?"
He listened as his crew endeavoured to find a way to relay the message. He silently hoped that they would fail but these Tau'ri were nothing if not inventive and with an Asgard in their midst aiding and abetting they actually stood a chance at success. His only hope now was to try and hamper their plans as best he could whist not revealing his true identity.
Stephen Caldwell whooped for joy when the call came through, that the message had been received in time. Zao-Jun had spent the last two hours making a nuisance of himself. Asking pointless question in an attempt to distract his science team who were working on the problem. He was more proud of them than he could say when they succeeded, especially when their CO was trying his damnedest to sidetrack them. Not long after that Dr Weir asked them to return to Atlantis so that an investigation could be launched. He could feel his body tense at the news.
Zao-Jun did not want to return, he wanted to go back to earth. The 'bomb' would go off with out the codes and he would not give them up. Although he really did not want to die along with the people of Atlantis. As a Goa'uld his first instinct was to look out for himself. You would be hard pressed to find a Goa'uld as stupid as these self-sacrificing Tau'ri. If they wanted to die for each other then that was up to them, but he would not die for anyone. He was a god after all. He argued with the human woman but in the end she won, he had no choice. He ordered the Daedalus to turn around… the voice in his head back with a vengeance, was laughing at him.
He's getting better at being me. Stephen watched though his own eyes as Zao-Jun managed to escape interrogation. Elizabeth did not suspect him in the slightest. He would have to speak to her about that if he ever got free. The woman was too naive; that's why he liked her so much. She was strong and beautiful but she had a naivety to her, fooling people into thinking she was a push over. He knew otherwise, and that made him like her even more. The investigation was a spectacle to watch. He almost felt sorry for Kavanagh except the man was a total prick. Mind you he didn't deserve have that great behemoth of a man, Ronon let lose on him. He was well aware that the Atlantean 'moral compass' was dubious at best, but really, Sheppard shouldn't have suggested that. Stephen figured Sheppard was agreeing with the runner so easily because of their 'encounter'. He probably wanted to show Caldwell that he wasn't afraid to do what ever it takes. A not so subtle message to Zao-Jun not to try that again.
Stephen couldn't bear to think about what had been done to Sheppard and being back in the city he could see that the man was not dealing. Sheppard was distant with those around him. Well, more distant that before. Physically he stood away from other people where possible, preferring to stand back and letting other take the stage. The bags under his eyes could hold a weeks worth of groceries in them, he wanted to tell him that it was the Goa'uld that had made him suffer not him! Just looking at the neutral expression betrayed by the pain in those hazel eyes made Stephen want to weep.
They still did not suspect him; he could not believe his luck. He was back on board, his ship, about to escape and Atlantis was going to burn. He finally allowed himself to relax. He had completed his mission and now he could go home. He looked forward to disposing of this host and replacing it with another much more attractive one. He really would have like to have John Sheppard's body for all eternity, but it was not to be. Never mind. There were plenty more pretty hosts back on earth for the taking. With his mission complete he could try and take someone famous and powerful. A rock star perhaps. The voice inside his head was screaming at him once more. He had felt the human's hope blossom when they had been on Atlantis but it had once more been crushed. His spirit however had not.
"Dr Weir we're ready to go we'll meet you at the rendezvous site."
He suddenly found himself back in Atlantis faced with Dr Weir, Sheppard and that foolish looking runner, Ronon.
"What the hell's going on here?" he exclaimed. He voice betraying his panic.
They had caught him. his mission failed he noticed that Sheppard did not look at all surprised that he was the operative. Okay the game's up. That's it; he did not sign up for this mission to have gun's pointed at his head, he was a god! You don't point guns at your god. He allowed himself to show and watch triumphantly when a,
"Oh my God!" escaped from Dr Weir.
Stephen Caldwell tried to watch Sheppard's reactions during the conversation with Elizabeth but it was hard, the creature still had control and it was staring directly at her. He felt his eyes surge when Zao-Jun revealed himself and looked at Sheppard. Sheppard looked shocked his eyes staring daggers in Stephen's direction. He felt a surge of pride when Sheppard recovered so quickly and raised his gun; hope blossomed within him once more at the thought of freedom, one way or another.
A fight between Zao-Jun and Ronon ensued and for once Stephen was glad that Sheppard had taken in the stray. He overpowered the Goa'uld easily and Sheppard brought out a tazer gun. Zao-Jun whimpered pathetically from the pain and recoiled back in his body, forcing Stephen Caldwell's consciousness to the surface to take the brunt of the pain being administered by Sheppard. Sheppard hit him again weather for good measure or revenge Stephen did not care. He had his body back the pain helped him to feel it again. His nerve ending were on fire and he struggled to catch his breath.
He somehow found his voice for the first time in nearly five weeks, "Sheppard."
He wanted to say so much, to explain and to apologise. To beg for forgiveness he knew would never come.
"We don't have much time we need that access code." Sheppard sounded desperate as he fought for control of his body again.
It took some time and a few more jolts with the tazer but eventually he managed to tell Sheppard the code he had memorised for just such an occasion. Luckily. He was gasping for breath when Sheppard called for a medical team and ran off with Ronon to deliver to code, leaving him alone with the beast once more. He really hoped the code worked as he fell back into the dark.
Sheppard sagged against a console in the control tower as Rodney put in the access codes. His whole body shock. He ran a nervous hand through his hair noting that his entire arm was shaking so badly that the task was almost impossible. He swallowed, trying to clear the bile that was desperately attempting to spill out of his mouth. He stuffed his hand roughly into his pockets, hoping that no one would notice his less that stellar appearance. As everyone in the room sighed audibly, the disaster averted, he could take no more. He needed, needed, to escape. There were too many people here, too many watchful eyes. He saw Rodney giving him another suspicious look, as he had done all week, when he nodded a brief 'well done' and walked away.
The pain in his muscles had abated some, although it was still rather painful for him to sit or indeed run. He preferred to stand anyway. Actually it was running that was causing him the most pain. He'd been careful to avoid suspicion over the last week, but that was hard when he had marines to train and a daily routine to maintain, the jogging with Ronon had been murderous. He only just managed to limp back to his room for a shower unnoticed before the blood really started to flow and become noticeable through his sweat pants. Even now his rectum bleed if he was not careful, he was torn inside and out. But he could not risk going to see Carson; he really did not need a court marshal. He knew that if Beckett found out then it would only be a matter of time before his superiors did. He refused to allow Atlantis, his city, to fall into the hands of the colossal asshole that had done this to him.
But now he was even more confused that ever before. He knew all about the Goa'uld from SG-1 mission reports and he knew that the trust had been infiltrated by them, but he'd never really considered the impact of having one of them in your midst. Sure, there was no love lost between him and Caldwell; everyone knew that, hell the guy would probably kill for his job. But after that… that… incident, he'd guessed the Colonel had simply thought of a new way to get at Sheppard's job, driving him from the city and back to earth, tail between his legs. But for him to know that Caldwell had not been in control, well, that threw all sorts of wrenches into the pipe works.
Sheppard was finding it difficult to focus his anger, hatred even, at a guy that had not been in control of his own body. He had spent the last week focused on the anger he felt for his CO allowing it to overcome his own fears and doubts that had been thrown up in the air. It gave him the strength to get out of bed each day and deify Caldwell, to say ha! You can't drive me from my city so easily. But now the anger was dissipating, leaving behind something else… remorse, guilt. If he had not have been so concerned about his career and told someone what had happened then Caldwell might not have even had a chance to upload the virus or escape on the Daedalus. If he'd spoken out, then Caldwell would not have had to be a prisoner in his own body for so long. He should have said something to Carson or Elizabeth, and then they could have apprehended Caldwell and discovered the Goa'uld. But no, he had been too concerned about his career, his fucking job to see that the man that had… had… touched him, was not his CO but a monster pretending to be him, using his body to take what it wanted.
He kept running, his thoughts his only company until he could run no more. His breath hitched and he tried to hold back the sobs that had tried so often to emerge from his bleeding soul. His legs protesting the assault on his body, muscles cramping painfully with the exertion. He walked further out and onto the south pier, barely aware of his surrounding. He didn't remember running out here but his body had been on auto-pilot and carried him to one of his favorite parts of the city. He rested his elbows on the railing over looking the breaking waves. His thoughts drifting through his mind, fleetingly like so much flotsam and jetsam. The salt from the sea spray mixed with his tears on his face, the unforgiving cold wind making his raw cheeks sting. He leaned forward lowering his head to rest on his forearm.
Sweat poured of his body soaking his black t-shirt and making his sweatband and watch itch. He'd been careful to position them to cover the harsh abrasions that the rope had cut into his skin when he had been tied down and abused against his will. Images of his struggle swam into his vision and the bile he'd worked so hard to keep down came racing back up his esophagus. He coughed and spluttered his stomach contents out over the railing, sweat breaking out across his brow once more. The shaking started again, a deep, aching shiver that ran through his veins and into his bones. He could feel blood dripping down his tired legs letting him know he'd torn himself running, again. It was just another painful reminder for John, but at least pain was something he could focus on, he could channel it. Turn it into something useable- like anger.
He wanted to hate Caldwell for putting him through this, for making him feel so damn helpless and useless, but he couldn't. He hated feeling sorry for himself, but right now all he had were his fears and pain, all for him. He was sick of the sleepless nights, the nightmares which plagued his dreams, he wanted himself back. He did not like this broken, shell he had become. The tears were falling more freely now and his body was racked by sobs, self pity was not something he could usually afford but for now he clung to it, it was all he had left. The anger and hatred of the week had left him; he no longer had the strength to fight the dark emotions desperately trying to consume him.
A soft strong hand rested on his shoulder giving it a light squeeze, startling him. He jumped back in fear, wiping his eyes and trying to control the sobs which stilted in his throat. Two pair of shining blue eyes gazed at him, concern clearly etched within their depts. Words failed him and for once he had no witty rebuff. Part of him wanted them to know his misery, to accept the comfort so freely being offered. He felt his resolve begin to crack, he needed the help they were offering him, and he didn't want to go through this alone anymore. He fell to his knees his hand covering his face in shame. Two pairs of eyes exchanged glances, before a silent agreement was made between the two. Whatever happens on the pier stays on the pier.
He felt warm for the first time since the whole ordeal began as two sturdy arms encircled his body holding him tightly as he cried. He leaned into the warmth holding on to his friend's shirt for dear life. Another warm hand rubbed circles of comfort into his back and whispered beautifully soft words into his ear. He cried until there were no more tears to fall, his voice cracked and broken from sobbing out his story. He told them everything that had happened to him, stumbling over the words. He chocked and sobbed and they comforted him. They held him and supported him letting him be just John for once. His confusion and confessions of guilty were met with strong resounding protests; they told him he had nothing to be sorry for. They told him that they were sorry for not seeing his inner turmoil and pain sooner.
When the tear had ran dry they helped him stand, an arm around his waist another on resting on his back. They guided him back to his room where he crawled under the covers awaiting Dr Beckett's ministrations, to help heal his physical wounds.