Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: G

Synopsis: There's only so much a mind can take before it cracks.

Up, down, forwards, backwards. In the end, it was all the same. There was a time for everything and everything in its time. There was good and there was evil. There was, if anything, a hell of a lot of grey between the two; a no-man's land where rules were obsolete and anything was fair. The knee in the groin, the chomping down on the opponent's ear in the heat of the fight, the pulling of the hair, the screaming and bitch-slapping. Yeah, it was all fair here. There were no rules and if there were, they were meant to be broken. Well, he'd broken a few and he was going to break a few more, all in the name of survival and protecting the universe against evil. But in the end, it wasn't about the universe. It was only about survival; beginning, middle and end. His survival. Her survival. It was the two of them against the rest of the universe and to hell with the rest.

"Will you make a deal?"

John tilted his head to the right and eyed the wraith that had haunted him since his arrival in the UTs. He had been so afraid of him, afraid of the ruthlessness, the carelessness, the downright evilness of this half-breed standing in front of him, offering him salvation and damnation all on the same silver platter.

"Eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Kick the chair and stub your toe."

He worried his lower lip with the ball of his thumb and eyed the creature responsible for so many bad dreams, so much madness. But now the fear was gone. There was nothing left but mad loathing, insane hatred, and an all-consuming need for revenge.

"Will you accept the deal?"

John straightened his head again and smiled. A part of him wondered if it looked as mad as he felt, but then he let his head tilt to the other side and hooked his thumbs into his belt.

"Deal, shmeal." He chuckled with something akin to joy, straightened his head again and took a step forward. "There is nothing you have that I could possible want, Scorpy. So why bother offering me the sacrificial lamb when you're not prepared to wield the knife?"

The look on the half-breed's face was one of worry and confusion. He had no idea what John was talking about. It was obvious. And it pleased John immensely that he could confound the confounder, confuse the confuser, befuddle the befuddler. He chuckled again. Were there any such words? He couldn't remember and it didn't really matter anyway. He would never see Kansas again. Dorothy had taken her last trip in a flying house and was lost in munchkin land forever. There was no yellow brick road leading out of this mess and the wicked witch of the west was going to win this war if he didn't stop pulling punches and flung himself into the fray without thought or compassion.

"One, two, Freddy's coming for you," he whispered and started chewing on his lower lip.

"Are you not well?"

Scorpius's expression was priceless and John found it hard to not laugh out loud at how confused he looked. "Well?" he asked and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand, his brow knitted in concentration. Then he grinned and tapped his index finger against his brow. "You slaughtered the goose that laid the golden eggs, Herman Munster. You invaded my mind, you frelled my psyche, and you dare ask me if I'm not well?" He laughed; a short, controlled burst which would have scared the living daylights out of anyone back home. "No, I'm not well," he admitted and smiled benevolently. "I've taken leave of my senses. My sanity is out to lunch and it's not coming back, I fear. It ran off with my common sense and is shagged up somewhere with my sense of responsibility." He took a step closer and this brought him nose to nose with his worst nightmare. "Lily is at home with grandpa and Marilyn and little Eddie and they're expecting me to come home from a night's worth of grave digging soon." He glanced toward the ceiling, still smiling. "You think the moon's out yet, eh, Mr. Scarran Half-Breed Sir?"

Without delay, he grabbed Scorpius's shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. "Clatu Verata Nictu." His grin widened. "Should have known. You can't drive out evil with evil. What'll work on you, Scorpywolf? A cross? A silver bullet? A bottle of holy water?" He chuckled and pulled back a step, releasing the half-breed's shoulders and wiping his palms absentmindedly on his pants. "Late last night and the night before, tommyknockers, tommyknockers knocking on my door. I want to go out, don't know if I can, because I'm so afraid of the tommyknocker man," he wheedled and then turned his back on the evil that could not be killed.

"I wish I may, I wish I might, wish upon a star tonight," he muttered and brushed his fingers through his hair, smoothing it back against his skull for a moment. "Ever see a shooting star, Scorpy? I used to think they were beautiful. Then my dad told me what they really were. Sorta took the joy right out of them."

He turned back halfway and gave Scorpius a crooked grin. "Home on the range, man. Home on the range," he said, drew in a deep breath and let it out again in a sigh. He shook his head, wet his lips with the tip of his tongue and grinned to himself.

"OH GIVE ME A HOME WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM AND THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE GRAZE," he bellowed at the top of his lungs and then laughed out loud. "Yeah, I'm doing a-okay. I'm just slightly mad. Nothing that can't be cured with a little ... what's it called? ... psycho-therapy. A little electro shock treatment will make me right as rain. Yeah! DOCTOR? YOUR PATIENT IS IN."

She turned up in the doorway, arms folded over her chest, her eyes dark with worry. She glanced at Scorpius, then back at him, but he knew she didn't care about the half-breed. She was worried about him.

"Hey, baby," he said and gave her a thumb's up before turning back to face Scorpius, who looked as confused as ever. "Guess what, Scorpy," he said. "Life's a bitch. And then you die." With those words, he ripped Winona out of her holster and emptied the pulse chamber by squeezing the trigger repeatedly. Several shots went astray while some hit their mark. None had the desired effect.

Scorpius was still standing when Winona ran out of breath and John smiled ruefully as he lowered the weapon, caressing the hilt with his thumb. "Oops. I appear to have lost control there for a moment. Good thing that you're wearing your bullet proof vest, ain't it, Scorpy?" He chuckled and then clapped a hand over his mouth in mock surprise. "Oh, I'm sorry, Scorpy. Did I hurt you? Should I come over there and kiss it better?"

Scorpius stared at him for a moment, and then glanced down himself at the holes in his suit. "You have taken leave of your senses, John," he finally confirmed and looked up again to meet John's eyes. "You need help."

"Oh?" John asked and swaggered a few steps closer. "And you're ... like ... offering?" He grinned. "As if," he added in a conceited tone of voice and then laughed again. "Ah, we're having a ball here, aren't we? Sorry, Scorpy, but my dance card's all full."


"Translated into understandable language that means you're not welcome here and you should leave," Aeryn said and stepped closer. "John is not doing well, as you can clearly see."

Scorpius met her eyes, then glanced back at John. "Clearly," he agreed. "Will you get him the help he needs? Because I am offering the extensive knowledge of my medical staff."

Aeryn smiled and shook her head. "There is nothing to be done. John is mad. You drove him to it and there is nothing that can reverse this. For now, he is not a danger to anyone, not even himself," she continued and stopped beside John. She slipped a hand behind his neck and smiled sweetly at him. "We keep him with us because we cannot bear to be apart from him." She pushed her fingers into his hair, her eyes never leaving his. "His mind is so muddled that he doesn't know who I am half the time, do you, John?"

He arched an eyebrow and gazed into her gray-blue eyes for a moment. Then he grinned. "Whoever you are, baby, you're beautiful as all hell," he replied, grabbed her face and kissed her deeply. Then he released her and sighed. "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair," he said and wove his fingers into hers with a frown. "D'you cut your hair, baby?"

She grabbed his wrist, still smiling. "No, John. It's as long as it was the last time you asked," she said and sighed. She cupped a hand against his cheek and brushed her thumb over his cheekbone, before returning her attention to Scorpius. "I think it's time for you to leave," she said quietly. "Next time he shoots at you, you may not survive."

Scorpius lowered his head briefly in a half-hearted nod, glanced at John one more time and turned back for his transport. He hesitated briefly, the look in his eyes indicating that he wanted to say something, but then he shook his head and climbed into the transport.

Aeryn took John's hand and dragged him out of the bay just in time for the doors to cycle shut. She waited until the transport had left before releasing John's hand. He stood still, staring into space, his eyes on a spot on the opposite wall. "And then there was one," he muttered, blinked twice and focused on her. "Hey baby," he said.

Aeryn smiled a little sadly. "Hey yourself," she said. "You got a clear moment?"

His gaze darted to and fro for a moment, then settled on her again and she knew what the answer would be. "Winona needs to be fed," he said and held up his gun before pressing it against his brow. "Ah, girl, you've done me right."

Aeryn just watched him for a microt, searching for any sign of those few moments of clarity, but found none. Well, he'd had one a few arns ago. It was still too early for the next; if it ever came. The diagnosian who had examined him several monans ago had said that the chance existed that he might not even have those any more after awhile.

She grabbed his hand, thereby returning his attention to her, and looked into his eyes. "Are you completely mad now?" she asked and brushed her fingertips over his face.

"Mad as the mad hatter," he agreed with a grin. "What's for dinner, honey?"

"Foodcubes," she said.

"Ah, eggs and toast. One little cat on a sunny day put on his hat and went out to play. Two little cats when it started getting dark put on their hats and went to the park. Three little cats when the sky was blue put on their hats and went to the zoo. Four little cats by the kitchen door put on their hats and went to the store. Five little cats on a sunny day put on their hats and they all ran away." He started walking and trailed his fingers along the walls of the corridor. "I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny."

Aeryn lingered for a moment while the smile on her lips died. Scorpius had thought it was a trick, that John was just acting mad to get him off his back. But the sad fact of life was that John had, in every manner and fashion, taken leave of his senses. The few times in a solarday that he recognized any of them were the moments Aeryn treasured. He was happy and loving and still active in every way, but his mind was muddled and his sense was gone.