Rating: PG for character death (not main cast)
Word Count: 1,599
Notes: Written for the Dark Side challenge over at sga_flashfic but the bunny bit me too late, so I didn’t finish it in time. AU for ‘Misbegotten’.
Summary: Michael kept wanting to laugh, because at least this was a decision, and he’d thought them incapable of that. He quite enjoyed being wrong.
“Do I get a meal?” Michael said, and bared his teeth in some kind of smile, “Isn’t it your tradition in these circumstances.”
Teyla raised a sardonic eyebrow and her lips twisted, before she turned and left the room. It was hard to interpret that, although Michael decided it was nothing to do with his humanity receding, and more to do with the ambiguity of Teyla’s own feelings. It made him want to smile again. The irony was choking him, because he’d asked for this, he couldn’t deny it, but he’d never thought they’d go through with it. He thought they’d prevaricate and mouth platitudes until he starved to death. He kept wanting to laugh, because at least this was a decision, and he’d thought them incapable of that. He quite enjoyed being wrong.
Of course, these ‘Lanteans never made anything simple. It had taken time, this decision of theirs, and the edges of hunger were beginning to gnaw at his mind. But he was strong; he was a long time from the bestiality of true starvation, and he would hold his head up proudly when the time came. Such a ridiculous fuss these humans made. Although it had been fun to argue with them. To see their foreheads furrow, and their eyes fill with sympathetic tears. Were males of the species meant to be so very soft? Or was that rather a specific reaction of their so-called physician, Carson Beckett? Michael despised him, he was no healer as he understood humans meant the term – Beckett was instead as ruthless as any Wraith scientist eager to try out his own pet experiments. Although Michael could understand the tears, if he thought about it. It must be very upsetting to Dr Beckett to be losing so many healthy test subjects like this. It was wasteful.
His lack of a name had caused another delay, although he couldn’t find it in himself to regret it. Why were humans so very dependant on names anyway? It had been a great problem through the whole process. Although Michael wasn’t going to make it any easier for them, he was still at a loss to even try to explain how the feel of another’s mind was all the identity any Wraith would ever need. How would the humans record such a thing, even if he did try? No, it was far better to let Sheppard name them himself. Perhaps he would even run out of applicable names and complicate their process even further. A tiny ridiculous hope, but it made Michael smile once again. His smiles made the guards nervous, he could smell it, and that was also delicious. At least it passed the time.
Michael didn’t expect to escape. He watched for it, of course, but with no reason for any of them to enter his cell, he didn’t hope very hard. Every time he’d been moved they’d stunned him through the bars with his own weaponry, and he didn’t expect this time to be any different. He wanted to go down fighting, but he knew the humans wouldn’t give him that, and he wouldn’t beg them. Pride was a bitter comfort, but he clung to it none the less.
The last time was no different to the first. A burst of blue light and then black nothingness. He came to in the familiar restraints, although lying down this time, not sitting, and in one of their medical units. A strange set-up in an auxiliary room, with a curtained wall. Michael found his feeding hand flexing and twitching as it hit home where this must be, an automatic reaction, one he couldn’t be ashamed of. Beckett refused to meet his eye, as he inserted the needle beneath the skin, and Michael snarled wordlessly at him. The life pulsing in the human’s veins smelled unutterably delicious, even more so for being completely unattainable. Still, perhaps it was just as well. The taste of a coward was often disappointing.
He watched as Beckett made sure of connections and checked the levels in the three transparent tubes. Why three? Were humans obsessed with the number three? There had been three of them who’d stood in judgement too. Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne, and some Lieutenant that Michael had never caught the name of. He didn’t care, these stupid names meant nothing, he only knew that the Lieutenant had been young, and his distress had been sweet on the air. Sheppard and Lorne had only smelled of defiance and inevitability. Whatever their system involved, it wasn’t justice. Michael had scented their resolve before the ‘tribunal’ had even started.
Still, he smiled again, even as he was tipped up to face the curtained wall. He remembered their pointless customs, which meant nothing to him, and yet still they had insisted. That level of self-delusion was amusing even in humans. His ‘defendant’ had been Teyla, and the conflict she felt had bled through her skin and into the air. It had been a heady cocktail in that room, and with the added entertainment of intellectual argument. Privately, Michael was willing to admit that was the one thing he did appreciate humans for – such pursuits were not available to the Wraith. The Queen decreed and no argument was tolerated. Such an exercise in procrastination as the trial had been would be unthinkable on a Hiveship. It had been a pointless waste of time, but again, an amusing one.
Beckett left the room, and now Michael could sense another presence, a quiet, sure-footed shadow in the corner of his prison. How typical of humans to go through this pretence, and wring their hands, and turn something so simple into something so very complicated. But Sheppard… Ah, Sheppard understood. He would have made it simple, and bright, and things would have been resolved in a flash of fire and revenge. Michael actually liked Sheppard in some ways. He was glad it was going to be him.
The curtain opened and, once again, Michael pulled at the restraints. The urge to hunt, to kill and feed, was almost overwhelming. The glass wouldn’t have stopped him, nothing would, but it did prevent him scenting their discomfort, their pain. Their guilt. If things had to end this way, he at least wanted the spice of their guilt to drag down with him. He snarled in anger, and refused to feel fear, and looked into Elizabeth Weir’s eyes, willing her to react. She had ordered this, as the queen of her Hive, whatever trappings it was decorated with. This was her responsibility and he wanted her to watch. He wanted her to remember. She stared back, but her gaze kept flicking to one side, or the other, and Michael felt frustration. Face up to the consequences of your actions, Human, he thought, but of course, she would not.
Sometimes she looked at Rodney McKay where he sat at her side. His chin was lifted and his hands were still – and Michael could almost taste his defiance, despite the barrier between them. Here was another he could not despise, although he could still hate. McKay had been his ‘prosecutor’ and Michael could at least admire that, could appreciate the careful precision of the numbers he had been charged with, given his estimated lifespan and the rate at which the humans guessed Wraith consumed their meals. The information assumed much, but the facts were not so wildly different. Michael could admire the research, and the dry delivery; the lack of a personal agenda. And the underlying tremor of terror in McKay’s voice that gave his testimony savour. Michael had smiled even more when McKay was on the stand. McKay was looking at him now. Still defiant. It gave him satisfaction somehow, mixed with the regret – McKay would have tasted so very sweet. It seemed such a shame.
The time was close now. He was finding it hard to distract himself with generalities. He wanted to kill, to rend, to drag their life from their very bones and leave them as husks on the floor. How dare they bring him to this? How dare they demean everything he was? Although, that was the ‘Lantean way, was it not? To cheapen and reduce, and to do it all in the name of their ‘justice’?
He barely heard Weir asking him if he had any last words. He roared, and strained against his bonds, and shouted his defiance because, in the end, it didn’t matter. They wouldn’t listen anyway. And then she looked at Sheppard, past Michael’s shoulder, as they had always looked past Michael, never wanting to see him for what he truly was. And she nodded.
The liquid was freezing, and somehow Michael hadn’t expected that. It was like ice flowing into his veins, and the shock of it stopped his mouth. His last seconds. What could he say? What could he do?
“Dr Weir,” he said, more calmly now, in the face of creeping cold, “There are two hundred of us on Atlantis. There are millions of Wraith in this galaxy. Can you really do this to us all?”
Michael looked at Weir, who dropped her gaze. At McKay, who’s hands had moved to flutter at his throat, his face pale. At Beckett, who had tears in his eyes, yet again.
They didn’t have the resources for this. They didn’t have the time. And most importantly, they didn’t have the nerve.
He was the first of his kind to die this way. It made him smile, one final time, before eternal darkness fell. He might also be the last.