A/N: I want to send a big thank you to everyone who has reviewed! Also, I want to thank Isobel Kelte for being my beta. All remaining mistakes are mine…
Sheppard awoke to feeling his arms being stretched out above his head and to the side, so that all his previous bruises stretched uncomfortably. Guards were tying his wrists tightly to the bars of his cell and when they were done his feet barely touched the ground, putting an incredible amount of pressure on his already sore shoulders. The ropes cut into the flesh of his mutilated wrists as well, and Sheppard felt a few drops of blood run down his arms.
Sheppard became aware of the fact that Bric'ien was also in the room when he said, "Well, that was a foolish endeavor and shall ultimately cause you a fair bit of pain."
Sheppard tried to twist his aching head to look at Bric'ien. Finally, he caught a glimpse of him and noticed that George was standing beside him with a bandage wrapped around his upper left arm. Sheppard's eyes widened as he saw a long thick leather whip with two meticulously frayed strips fanning out from it resting in his hands.
"Sheppard, so far I had not brought this whip out, because I wanted to show you how reasonable we can be; but you have just done something completely unreasonable. I am afraid I must teach you a lesson about trying to escape or attacking me or my men. For attempting escape I am going to have you be given five lashes, then for every one of my men you attacked five lashes, bringing us to a total of twenty lashes."
Sheppard swallowed the bile in his throat as he saw the malicious pleasure in George's face. Sheppard knew that it was pay back time for the gunshot wound and felt his body already tensing for what he knew was coming.
Moving slowly forward towards Sheppard another guard began slicing Sheppard's shirt. "There is no reason for you to have this get sliced up by the whip; I would hate to have it get in the way of your lesson," he said as he finished ripping it off of Sheppard, leaving his bare back exposed.
"You know," Sheppard said, swallowing, "there is a draft in here and I sort of liked that shirt."
"I'm afraid it cannot be helped now," said the voice with an evil smirk.
"Are you sure this is the best way for me to learn the lesson? Are you sure that you don't have a book or something I could read instead?"
Bric'ien chuckled quietly. "Always joking, Sheppard; however, this is serious. You must be taught the futility of escape and the consequences of attempts."
Turning away from Sheppard Bric'ien turned to George. "You may begin whenever you are ready. If you begin to tire making the blows not as hard as this punishment deserves, stop so that we can ensure that each lash is exquisitely painful. Also, I shall allow you two extra lashes to ensure that you have the correct technique and because I know you want to repay Sheppard for that wound."
George grinned maliciously at Sheppard and then glanced at his arm where Sheppard had hit him. Sheppard swallowed, knowing that he was about to pay for the pain and frustration he had caused that man. His muscles tensed and he found himself clenching his hands around the bars of his cell to which he was tied.
As much as Sheppard tried to prepare himself, the first strike felt like a bolt of fire and his breath left him in a gasp. George laughed quietly and asked, "So how did that feel? Trust me, that is nothing to what the later strikes will feel like."
George sought to prove his statement, and Sheppard felt the whip jolt against his back again. George was right; it was worse the second time as the whip crisscrossed the lacerations already on his back.
"Now we will begin!" Bric'ien said with an evil laugh.
Sheppard tried to hold in a groan as he realized that despite all the pain he was already in the punishment had not even begun yet. They were still planning on giving him twenty more lashes with the whip.
The next strike was harder than the previous two and curled around Sheppard back to reach his chest. "One."
"Remember, Sheppard, you brought this upon yourself and you deserve every bit of it," murmured Bric'ien.
Another lash attacked Sheppard's throbbing back with a burst of fire. "Two."
"Isn't that right, Sheppard? You deserve this?"
"Answer, Sheppard, or I will add another lash!" demanded the evil voice that Sheppard could barely focus on as his body tensed for another painful blow.
"No, it is…not my…fault…" panted Sheppard, "It is…the fault…of the evil bastard…who captured me…"
"Oh no, Sheppard, it was your fault, and since you feel you should lie to me about this I believe I still need to add another lash."
Turning to George, he said, "You are at three again."
George smiled and then struck Sheppard's back again, saying, "Three."
Sheppard bit his lip to hold in a cry of pain and wished it all over; yet knew that it was not even close to being done. The sadistic bastard would make sure that it brought Sheppard to the limits of his strength…in fact; Sheppard was beginning to wonder if he might just be pushed past his limits.
Again George struck out, causing more bloody lines to appear on Sheppard's back. "Four."
"I need to make sure you learn your lesson, Sheppard. Tell me, why are you being whipped?"
"Cause…I've been…captured by an…evil bastard…who needs to…get a life?"
"I'm afraid that is not the correct answer. Sheppard, this is entirely your fault and I need you to admit it."
Sheppard's grip tightened on the bars and his breath came in quick gasps as he tensed for the next blow.
"Seven." The blow was even harder than the previous ones and Sheppard felt the whip wrap around his chest.
"I said admit it! Either tell me what each lash is for or I will add five more lashes!"
Sheppard considered not answering, but figured he should choose his battles. "Five lashes…were for…trying to escape…"
The next blow caught Sheppard by surprise and he let out a breathless gasp as George said, "Eight."
"And the other lashes?"
"They were…for attacking…your men…"
"Nine." Another lash of fire swept across Sheppard's back and Sheppard had to bite back a groan of agony. Then, giving him no chance to recover, the whip cracked again and came in contact with his back.
"Ten." The pain had intensified with every lash, but Sheppard realized that the strength behind the last gut-wrenching stroke was not as powerful as the previous ones had been. Apparently Bric'ien noticed this as well.
"Stop." Bric'ien told George. "That last stroke was not up to the strength deserved in this punishment. Rest your arm and we will continue when you are able to give Sheppard every bit of pain he deserves."
Then Bric'ien turned to Sheppard, who was resting his face against the bars of his cell trying to catch his breath. "I'm afraid that last stroke will not count towards the twenty lashes. We will have to start at ten again."
Sheppard just panted, ignoring Bric'ien as much as he could. He took stock of his current condition and realized that he was a lot worse off than he could wish. For one he knew that it was only the ropes that were digging into his mangled wrists that were keeping him vertical. For another he knew that his right shoulder was suffering from being jerked around by the whip and was at least strained, though he was glad to note that it was not dislocated. His back throbbed in time with the beating of his heart and Sheppard felt blood drip down his back.
Suddenly Sheppard felt a sharp pain and let out a gasp. Bric'ien was pressing his hand into one of the lacerations on Sheppard's upper back. "I don't think you are paying attention to me, Sheppard."
"Sorry…I was trying…to recover…from…having my…back flayed…open…"
"Yes, well, try to pay attention to me when I am talking, because otherwise I will have to use less than pleasant methods to get your attention." As Bric'ien said that he again pressed down on one of the wounds on Sheppard's back.
"Ever thought…of just…leaving someone…to their misery…for a bit?" Sheppard muttered to Bric'ien as he struggled to not cry out in pain.
"Sheppard, I know that you chose not to answer my question yesterday about why you and your father had not talked for years. Perhaps, you will answer this question instead. Why did you not talk with your brother, Dave, or was it David, for all those years?"
Sheppard's mind began to race as he tried to figure out how Bric'ien knew that Sheppard called his brother Dave, but that Dave introduced himself as David, now. Though Sheppard knew there was a spy on Atlantis from their previous conversation, the fact that his dad had just died, and he hadn't talked with him in years would not have been too difficult for anyone to deduce. However, Sheppard was unable to figure out how anyone on Atlantis, except for maybe Ronon, could have figured out such a specific detail about his brother.
"Sheppard, did you hear me? Why did you not talk with your brother?"
Sheppard brought his focus back to the conversation and tried to think of how he could answer that question without really answering it. His not talking with his brother was in many ways more complicated than his not talking with his dad, and though Sheppard and Dave and begun to slowly make amends and bridge the gap that had formed between them, it was far from there yet. Too many years of unspoken words allowed them to build up resentment between each other that would take time to break down: time Sheppard now realized he might not have.
"Well it's…a common…story, really…two brothers…fall in love…with the…same girl…fight over…her and…then don't…speak…for years… Happens all…the time…on earth…"
Sheppard could see that Bric'ien did not believe him, but that he was not going to make an issue of it, at least for right now. He turned away to talk to George and the other guard in the room.
For the next twenty minutes as George rested his arm, Sheppard was left relatively alone. He was unable to focus on his surroundings as all his attention seemed to be stuck on the incredible pain he felt all over his body.
Then without warning, Sheppard felt the whip strike his back with an incredible amount of force. Sheppard, unable to prepare for the stroke, was unable to contain a small cry of pain as he felt the scabs that had formed on his back be ripped off by the leather straps.
Laughing, George said, "Ten."
Again Sheppard heard the whistling of the whip as it raced through the air to land against his back. The blow awakened the fire that had slowly died to an ember of pain.
Bric'ien, clearly enjoying the pain Sheppard was in, said to him, "You know, if you had not gone back to destroy all of my research, you would not have ended up in my hands; so really all the pain you experience here is your fault."
"Furthermore, considering all the people you have killed over the years do you really think that you do not deserve pain?"
The next strike was even more powerful than the previous ones, and Sheppard bit his lip to prevent his scream of pain.
"You are the reason the wraith awakened early. It is because of your 'Atlantis Expedition' that Michael and his hybrids exist to torment all they come across. You did not even care enough about your family to speak with your dad before he died. Yet, you believe that I deserve pain more than you?"
"Come, Sheppard, this is a punishment, not torture, and anyone can be pleased when they are teaching someone a lesson that is drastically important for that person to learn. Remember, I am doing all of this for your benefit."
This lash caused Sheppard's knees to finally buckle, refusing to hold his weight anymore as Sheppard's strength was all but gone. He cried out as his shoulders suddenly were forced to support all of his weight.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Sheppard, are you tired? It is too bad that you still have five more lashes of your punishment left." Then Bric'ien turned his gaze back towards George. "Continue the punishment."
The goon, clearly pleased by this instruction, quickly brought his arm back and lashed Sheppard's back.
Sheppard slowly sought to stand straight again to relieve some of the pressure on his shoulders, but as soon as he managed to stand up the whip cracked in the air again and the blow made his legs crumple underneath him.
Breathing heavily, Sheppard tensed for the next strike, unable to pull himself up again. However, the strike did not come right away; he struggled to turn his head and saw that George was handing Bric'ien the whip that dripped with his blood.
"I always like to give the last part of any lesson personally, Sheppard, and in your case I desire to do so more than in most. I want you to realize the mercy I give by not giving every blow of the whip myself."
Sheppard tried to swallow as his muscles tensed up. He felt some sweat drip off his forehead and he tried to catch his breath. He wanted to make some smart ass comment that would show Bric'ien that he was not afraid, but nothing came to mind as he felt his back throb in pain. Slowly he got his feet under him and stood as straight as he could; doing the only thing he could think of to show Bric'ien he was not broken yet.
"You certainly have courage, Sheppard. Most men would have given up by now, yet here you are still trying to be defiant. Now, I would like you to apologize to my guard over here for the gunshot wound you gave him."
The answer was swiftly given in the form of a powerful lash that was worse than anything that had come before. Bric'ien had not been kidding when he implied that he caused more pain with the whip than the other guards. The force behind the blow alone was enough to make Sheppard gasp in pain. However, Bric'ien had also skillfully caused the whip to mark as much of Sheppard's skin as possible, the main strap even wrapping around his stomach. Each strip of the whip fanned out and cut into Sheppard's skin or deepened the previous lashes with vicious force and Sheppard felt tears form in his eyes from the pain of it all.
"Eighteen," said Bric'ien an almost bored voice as if he hadn't just caused another human being immense pain. "Now, why do we not try this again…hmmm? Apologize to him immediately!"
"…Sorry…" panted Sheppard, unable to catch his breath.
"Good," said Bric'ien right before he brought down the whip again. It felt as if Sheppard's entire back was on fire as once again Bric'ien managed to spread the straps of the whip out to cause the most amount of damage and pain. This time, in fact, one of the thinner lashes wrapped itself tightly several times around his upper right arm before it was yanked free, leaving several bloody lines.
"Are there any other things you are sorry for, Sheppard?"
Unable to hold his weight up anymore and resting all his weight on his shoulders, Sheppard seriously considered just telling Bric'ien were to stick his words. Yet, he reminded himself, he needed to choose his battles and making Bric'ien even madder at him would only cause him more pain and weaken him further.
"Excellent," said Bric'ien as he once again brought the whip down upon Sheppard's' back. Sheppard could barely take in the pain this time, yet he just reminded himself that it was over. That was the end of his punishment. Sheppard felt his muscles slowly begin to unwind and he felt some of the tension leave his body even as he became more aware of the pain.
Then suddenly without warning he felt another explosion of pain on his back. Bric'ien had used the whip again on Sheppard and this time he could not hold back a cry of agony. Unable to push away the encroaching darkness any longer, he slipped into blessed oblivion.
To be continued…
A/N: Please review! I am sort of nervous about this chapter, so if you liked it please let me know!