Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own OCs, should I create any for these stories.
Author's Note: Fourth story in my Captain No Longer universe. I recommend reading the other stories first, or this probably won't make sense.
It had been five months. Five months, and he was finding it harder and harder to sort out who he was anymore.
He had started introducing himself as John Benton out of reflex, which caused some confusion when he ran into some old school friends a week or two back. He kept having to remind himself to sign his name "Mike Yates" on certain UNIT forms the Brigadier needed (hidden from Benton, of course). Some of the new UNIT recruits didn't even know that he was really the Captain instead of Benton; they hadn't been here long enough to know him as anyone other than their Sergeant.
How long, he wondered? How long before he lost himself completely? His upper-class accent was completely buried by now; he no longer had to think about using Benton's more working-class manner of speech. He had learned a lot of Benton's mannerisms and habits as well; they were so ingrained at this point, they might as well have been his own.
He had learned to control his temper (not that he hadn't before, but he had learned that John Benton was much more patient than he first thought), learned how to take being in the background and defer to officers (even those that technically were lower-ranking than him) without protesting, and was much more accepting of the fact he seemed to get injured much more easily these days (honestly - it seemed like wearing stripes on your uniform sleeve was just a big sign that said "Shoot me first!"; how he had managed to survive this long, he wasn't sure).
He'd stopped drawing; in the beginning, it had been his coping method, as very few people knew that he enjoyed doing it, and it was something he could keep that was still "Mike" and helped him hold onto himself. But that had stopped recently, when he had found out that Jo had accepted Benton's offer to go out with him on a regular basis. And not only that, but he had done it by offering one of Mike's own sketches of Jo; one that he thought he had hidden well enough in his quarters before this had all started.
The worst part was that Jo had immediately come to him after to share the good news, which was how he had found out about the drawing. If the circumstances had been normal, he would have gone in and laid the man out with a proper right hook for the utter cheek in using his work to get the girl he was interested in.
As it was, he'd merely smiled, congratulated the excellent likeness of her, and wished them well before he had to go back on-duty. He thought he'd seen Jo give him an odd look as he left, but his mind was preoccupied - no more drawing. Benton had taken the last thing that was truly his in his life; what did he have left?
He had to pretend to be "Sergeant Benton" all the time when he was on-base, he had needed to call up his mother ages ago to tell her not to expect him to come visit for a while (Benton was doing that for him, now), he had lost Jo…he couldn't even draw anymore; something that he had kept close to him for many years.
That night, as he prepared himself for another night stuck on-base, while many of the other men were out, he had a thought. Why should he keep fighting, and holding onto "Mike Yates"? Clearly, Benton was doing a much better job at it than he had. Even if he wasn't, though, it was apparent that the older man was winning the war, and at this point, he saw no end in sight to this madness, and no alternative than to accept defeat gracefully.
With that, he mentally let go what little bit of "Mike" that he had been holding onto, letting himself fully embrace the persona of "John".