Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own OCs, should I create any for these stories.
Author's Note: Sixth story in the Captain No Longer universe. This one was written for jennytork on LJ, who requested: "I wanna see what happens when Benton is normal and Mike - isn't!" The request was kind of fulfilled in multiple parts, as recovery is a slow process.
Also, I'm no psychiatrist, but 'schitzophreniform disorder' is a very real mental problem, and it seemed to be the closest condition to describe what took place here.
It had been a year; a very long, difficult year. Everyone was still reeling from the recent unexpected betrayal of the reliable Sergeant Osgood, who had been revealed to be working with the Operation Golden Age conspirators.
After that debacle was over, the last thing anyone had expected was for the Trickster to make a sudden appearance at UNIT HQ. It hadn't taken the Brigadier too long to recover from the surprise, however, and he had quickly ordered soldiers to apprehend the Trickster by any means.
Heading up the front assault line, naturally, was Benton, while Mike led a second squad of soldiers around the back of the building to try and trap the Trickster in a sort of pincer movement. When the Trickster had seen the two men, he had grinned, an expression which looked rather menacing on his face. "Well, well - how has it been, Mr. Yates - having to live as the Sergeant?"
Before Mike could say anything, Benton interjected with a shout: "Spare us the pleasantries and switch us back! It's been a year - I know Benton wants to be back in his body, same as me."
To his surprise, the Trickster had merely begun to laugh. "Oh, it seems that this has been far more successful than I could have even foreseen. You think your minds have been residing in each other's bodies?"
Benton had nodded slowly, though he now looked slightly confused. Meanwhile, Mike was signalling for the other soldiers to stand down - the last thing they needed was one of the Corporals to get trigger-happy.
The Trickster had wiped away an imaginary tear from his non-existent eye, and had smirked again, before saying cryptically: "This confusion you seem to have will be even better chaotic fuel for the fire." Then faster than anyone could have reacted, he had reached out and touched Benton's forehead again, causing the man to collapse right there behind UNIT HQ, before he vanished again.
As Mike ran over to Benton's unconscious form, all he could think was "Not again…"
When Benton woke up in the UNIT infirmary, it was to a pounding headache, and Mike sitting by his bedside reading a book. He groaned, and Mike put the book down. "Finally awake, Sir?" he asked, looking relieved as he helped Benton to sit up and take some paracetamol that the on-duty medic had left.
Benton nodded. "Finally, although it feels like I've been out for ages. Did we stop them, then?"
"Stop who?" Mike looked confused. "There was only the Trickster."
"No…there was the others with him; the Brigade, weren't they called?" Benton frowned. "You sure you haven't been knocked around on the head at all?"
Mike's eyes had widened at that, before he had said slowly, "…that was a year ago, Sir."
"A year! Have I really been out for that long?" Benton asked incredulously. Then he happened to look down. "Why am I dressed in an officer's uniform?" Looking over, he suddenly seemed to realize what Mike was wearing. "And why are you wearing Sergeant's stripes?"
Now it was Mike's turn to give him an odd look. "Because it's part of my uniform?" Then he looked down at his hands. "You really don't remember a thing, do you, Sir?"
"No, I don't," Benton replied, shaking his head. Then he realized something else. "And why do you keep calling me Sir?"
"Because you're the Captain," Mike had said matter-of-factly, before standing up and telling Benton that he was going to go and inform the Brigadier that he was awake.
As he watched Mike leave, Benton couldn't help feeling that something was terribly wrong.
Over the course of the next several days, Benton felt like he had stepped through some form of looking glass. Oh, there were pleasant sides, to be sure, such as the fact that he and Jo Grant had apparently been seeing each other for over half a year now, but there were things that were just unsettling. Yates kept calling him "Sir" and saluting him, he was sleeping in the enlisted men's barracks, and wouldn't even respond to his own name. And there was something off about the way he spoke…he didn't sound like the upper-class Captain Benton remembered at all.
Thoroughly confused, he went to speak to the Doctor about it. "Doctor, what exactly is going on? I've apparently missed a full year somehow, and Captain Yates is behaving very oddly. Is something wrong?"
The Doctor, who had been in relatively good spirits when Benton had entered the lab, immediately sobered. "I think you had better sit down."
During the discussion that followed, the Doctor had explained what had gone on to Benton, from the last thing Benton could remember to the present day. Benton had been stunned when the Doctor told him that essentially Captain Yates had given up his own life for this entire year to pretend to be him. The Doctor had concluded by telling him that Mike was now essentially suffering from a form of schitzophreniform disorder, in which he had needed to pretend to be someone else so thoroughly for so long that he now thought he was someone else.
When Benton had asked if this could be fixed, the Doctor had only looked at him with a sad smile and said "With time, Sergeant Benton. With time."