Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis, etc.
Summary: Feeling angry and betrayed by the Atlanteans, Michael exacts justice in the most poetic way possible: by turning Sheppard into a Wraith, as he was turned into a human.
Genres: Action-Adventure, Angst, Character Study, Drama, Team
Spoilers: Up to Misbegotten, definately before Common Ground
Chapter 1 of 8 , Chapter 2 of 8 , Chapter 3 of 8
Chapter 4: The Waiting Game
To his disappointment, the sight that waited for him when he returned to consciousness was not a familiar one. The room was dimly lit like on the hive, but the floor he was sprawled half-hazzardly across was hard and unwelcoming. More importantly were the bars stretching horizontally across his vision. Dragging his stiff arms to him, Sheppard pushed against the floor, levering himself onto his knees for a better look. He was in a cage.
The bearded man had shot him. He had an inkling that hadn’t been the first time either. He could remember waking up, in pain, in a white room, asking if Ronon had shot him. Ronon. Apparently not everyone here was his ‘friend’ after all. He’d have to make sure his malfunctioning brain remembered that at least.
Sheppard’s whole body felt stiff and sore, and he had a feeling he’d been lying on the floor for several hours. The humans had shot and caged him. This was just wrong. They had NO right to do this to him!
He sent his mind through space, tendrils of his thoughts reaching for the only friendly presence he knew. He made contact with Michael, only to feel the other Wraith push him away with a snarl. Reeling, Sheppard crashed back into his own mind, allowing his shoulders to slump.
He was rejected by both sides. What had he done to deserve this?
Elizabeth watched the Wraith pacing back and forth in his cell through the security cameras, feeling ill at ease. She had sent her people to the planet to bring back John, and instead they came home with a Wraith. Granted, it was a Wraith claiming to be John, but could it really be possible? With their population problems such as they are, what possible reason could the Wraith have for developing a serum to convert other creatures into Wraith? It just didn’t make sense.
The Wraith never stopped moving, never deviated course, never slowed down. He reached one end of the cell, turned, and paced to the other end. It was a dizzying pattern, and Elizabeth wondered why he bothered. There was no chance that they would ever feed him; he had to know that, so why was he wasting the energy.
Staring at his face, Elizabeth realized she had never seen a Wraith look so… lost. Usually they were shouting death threats and bragging about the superiority of their kind by now. According to the guards on duty, this one hasn’t spoken a word since he woke up. He was a puzzle all right, but she thrived on mental power plays. If it led to rescuing Colonel Sheppard, she would figure this Wraith out if it was the last thing she did.
McKay ambled into the room behind Elizabeth, absently munching on a power bar. Without a word, he sat down on the stool next to hers and began his own study of the prisoner.
“He still hasn’t said anything?” McKay asked.
“No, not one word,” confirmed Weir.
McKay shared his colleague’s sentiments on the Wraith’s odd behavior, but at the same time, couldn’t help himself from considering how the Colonel might react in a situation like this. If Sheppard had been subjected to the toxin, his memories would be suppressed, and he would most likely be horribly confused by the situation. As his teammate, McKay was intimately aware of the way Sheppard responded to stressful situations. When the goal was clear, Sheppard attacked. But when there was doubt, Sheppard tended to clam up until he understood what was happening a little better. As much as he hated to admit it, the Wraith’s silence spoke in its favor.
But why the angry pacing? Was he that mad at Ronon for shooting him? Between Thalan and the Iratus Bug incidents, Ronon and Sheppard have shot each other plenty of times. Both times, they had gotten over it. There had to be more to the pacing than that.
McKay watched the Wraith stuff his hands into his pockets as he paced. After a minute, he took them back out again. Before long, they were hidden once more. This happened several times, and each time the Wraith seemed completely unaware of it. McKay was struck by the human-ness of the gesture. As far as he knew, Wraith clothing didn’t have pockets, yet this one clearly had an unconscious habit of using them….
“You can’t go in there,” Ronon snarled at Teyla, desperately trying to talk his teammate out of a foolhardy plan.
“I’m going to speak to him, Ronon,” Teyla rolled her eyes. “You are welcome to accompany me, but I am going.”
“Even after what happened with Michael when you went to talk to him?” Ronon argued. “He took over your mind and made you release him.” He got away because of you, was the unspoken thought that Teyla knew wasn’t really meant to hurt her. Ronon just didn’t want history to repeat itself.
“I will not be alone this time,” Teyla assured him. “I will be fine.”
“Teyla…” he started.
“Ronon, you don’t know what it’s like,” Teyla cut him off. “I saw inside his mind, and I know he’s hurting. He’s not like the other Wraith. I believe this really is Colonel Sheppard.”
“It’s a Wraith, that’s all it is,” Ronon growled heatedly. Why didn’t they all see that? There was only one way to deal with a Wraith and it was strapped comfortably against his hip, begging for use.
Teyla did not respond this time, merely continued towards the cell where the Wraith was held. As she arrived at the door, she could feel his mind ghosting over hers, touching but not invading. As soon as Sheppard realized he’d successfully touched another mind, he jerked back as if burned. Teyla frowned. It reminded her of a reflexive action not dissimilar to trying to feel a limb that was no longer there. She had it every time she cut her hair and would go to tie it back, only to realize there was nothing to tie. Sheppard probably didn’t even realize he was doing it.
Continuing through the door, Teyla entered the room with Ronon right behind her. Sheppard stopped pacing and backed into a corner defensively when he saw Ronon. The runner grinned in satisfaction and fingered his blaster. Oh, for the pleasure….
“Hello,” Teyla offered, diverting the Wraith’s attention. She could feel his mind pull tightly in on itself, determined not to make contact again. Smiling, Teyla instead sent her mind out to his, softly resting her mental presence within easy reach. This close, she could feel his desperate confusion, bordering on despair. Something else must have happened to him recently for him to be hurting this much.
“It’s all right,” she tried to assure him, brushing her mind up a little closer to his. She could feel him battling the need to pounce on her thought and smother himself in them.
“What do you want?” Sheppard demanded. He was tired of these human’s and Michael’s games. Everyone seemed to know what was going on except him, and no one was all that inclined to let him in on the fun. And now, this one was dangling the comfort of her thoughts in front of him like a glass of water to a man in the desert, as if he didn’t know Ronon would shoot him the instant he accepted her comfort.
“I want to speak to my friend,” Teyla answered calmly, walking right up to the bars of the cage, displaying for all that she was not afraid of him. It was a useless gesture with the shield keeping him from reaching between the bars, but sometimes the thought really helped.
“I believe that you are Colonel Sheppard, and I am relieved that you are back in Atlantis where Dr. Beckett can help you,” she told him. Knowing that talking probably wasn’t going to do much to help the Wraith in this condition, she continued to invade his personal mental space. It’s all right. I won’t let Ronon hurt you, she assured him.
Ronon continued to scowl at the Wraith, no doubt itching to stun him again, but at least he had stopped trying to provoke Sheppard.
Sheppard eyed Ronon and Teyla. That Ronon wanted to shoot him he had no doubt, but were Teyla’s words genuine? Her mind was right there for the manipulating, if he chose. She was leaving herself vulnerable to him. It was a generous display of trust; so much so that he felt his mind tentatively reach out to hers.
The instant they touched, he felt himself relax. On the hive-ship he’d always been surrounded by other Wraith’s minds; even if they weren’t actively communicating, they were a constant presence. He hadn’t realized how comforting that was until he was abandoned to the humans, and left alone to whatever fate they had in store for him. But this one wasn’t leaving him. Her mind was a warm blanket of sincerity and friendship, and it brought him the first peace he could remember in a long time.
Ronon watched Teyla’s eyes glaze over and knew she wasn’t seeing the room anymore. The Wraith was completely entranced by whatever thoughts he and Teyla were sharing. Both stood completely still, but their bodies were relaxed and their faces looked calm, even peaceful.
He didn’t like it. The Wraith could be doing anything to Teyla’s mind, and she was allowing it! Rule number one in the Pegasus Galaxy: You can never trust a Wraith. It was one he and many others had learned the hard way; Teyla should know better.
Ronon continued to move his hand over his blaster, reassured by its familiar weight; it had kept him alive for seven years and he intended to live for many more.
For two days the senior staff of Atlantis continued monitoring the Wraith with baited breath, waiting for the symptoms of reversion to appear that would finally prove that this was truly Colonel Sheppard.
Dr. Carson Beckett waited more anxiously than most. He didn’t like to consider the implications of what it would mean if the Wraith really did transform into Sheppard, yet he found himself able to think of little but. It was his formula that had started this whole mess, his and his alone. He had created it without anyone’s prodding, and perfected it without anyone forcing him to. Granted he had certainly been encouraged to perfect it into a weapon, but no one had made him.
Now, his cure for the Wraith ‘illness’ was being turned against his own kind, and his friend had been the first to suffer. He had no doubt that Michael had the ability to reverse engineer the toxin. Michael had spent quite a bit of time learning to from him how to do so. Michael ripping through his mind as if it were his own personal playground had been a painful experience, and the consequences of it were now coming back to haunt him.
All his decisions seemed to haunt him these days. Hoff and Perna were his first strike. The poor girl Elia (and yes, he was willing to consider a Wraith a poor girl... she really had been a sweet child who tried hard to do right) had had to be slaughtered and both an innocent life and a wonderful opportunity had been lost that day because of his meddling with natural evolution. Strike two. Right after that, Colonel Sheppard almost suffered a similar fate to Elia, but Carson had been able to reverse it in time. Carson was a fair man; he’d call that a foul ball.
But what had happened to those Wraith on the planet, and what Sheppard was currently suffering because of his weakness… well that was strike three and he was out. He was a hypocrite. How could he possibly uphold the Hippocratic Oath when all he did was cause harm? He was just as bad as Mengele. Well, maybe not as bad, but close. He was like Rogue from the X-Men; he hurt everything he touched. Maybe he was just jinxed.
He knew the Wraith was Sheppard. Five minutes with him had been more than enough to convince him. All the mannerisms were the same, the body language, the pattern of speech... it was all Sheppard. Dr. Weir still insisted that he be confined until Beckett could be sure, which wouldn’t happen until Sheppard’s human traits started manifesting again.
Beckett felt sorry for his friend, and had every intention of doing whatever he could to make it up to him while he recovered from this. It was the least he could do. Maybe once he knew Sheppard was okay, he’d return to Earth where he couldn’t do any more harm. Clearly he was just as much a plague in this galaxy as many of its local inhabitants.
The hunger was a dull ache in his gut that never went away and was constantly reminding him of its requirements. Sheppard longed to feed, but knew it wouldn’t happen anytime soon… possibly never again. The first day the hunger pains plagued him endlessly, but now it had changed into a different ache that he couldn’t describe. He was still ravenously hungry, but it was different.
Everything was beginning to look different. The room was too dark, and the floor was too cold. More disturbingly, the humans were starting to look less tasty and more… well, more something else. Whatever it was, they weren’t sending out the ‘eat me!’ vibe they had been. But if they weren’t going to clench his hunger, what would?
Contradicting instincts were tearing his mind apart. He would surely have gone mad if not for the mercy that was Teyla. Even when she was not with him, she allowed him to feel her thoughts and take comfort in them. When the pacing became too exhausting and the hunger too much, Sheppard withdrew from the humans, and lost himself in Teyla.
“There! You see that?” McKay demanding, backing away from his stool and pointing at the screen.
Elizabeth looked at the Wraith more closely, seeking whatever detail had made Rodney so excited. “What is it?” she asked.
“His eyes… they’re hazel. Yesterday they were blue. And look at the skin… it isn’t so green anymore. Look at that, he’s positively rosy.” McKay started laughing and clapped his hands together. “It’s him. It’s really him.”
Now that she was looking at the skin tone specifically, she could see the subtle difference that had escaped her previously but had glared at a certain genius. Elizabeth looked carefully at the Wraith on the screen, and for the first time in what felt like forever, smiled.
“Let’s get him out of there,” she ordered.