Synecdochic (synecdochic) wrote in fic_gremlins,

"Blood Beat Back"

This started with a typo. I swear.

synecdochic (12:39:27 AM): god, that just kills me
synecdochic (12:39:30 AM): the whole funeral
frostfire_17 (12:39:33 AM): *nodnodnod*
frostfire_17 (12:39:36 AM): with the FLAG!
synecdochic (12:39:40 AM): AND THE WREATH
frostfire_17 (12:39:45 AM): DANIEL
synecdochic (12:39:46 AM): ...not wraith, fingers
synecdochic (12:39:53 AM): there was no Wraith at Daniel's funeral
frostfire_17 (12:39:57 AM): ...
frostfire_17 (12:39:59 AM): *pictures*
frostfire_17 (12:40:05 AM):
synecdochic (12:40:13 AM): yeah, not so much
frostfire_17 (12:40:17 AM): hee
synecdochic (12:40:23 AM): although it would have made them get over it a lot faster
frostfire_17 (12:40:31 AM): ha! yes, indeed so
synecdochic (12:40:43 AM): "He was a fine man, and a good friend ... OH FUCK WHAT'S THAT THING?"
frostfire_17 (12:41:03 AM): followed quickly by the arrrrrrgh! of dying airmen
synecdochic (12:41:11 AM): although miella suggests that Daniel and Michael would have gotten along just fine.
frostfire_17 (12:41:17 AM): --omg yes!
synecdochic (12:41:23 AM): which ....
synecdochic (12:41:26 AM): *slaps brain*
frostfire_17 (12:41:27 AM): no, they would
frostfire_17 (12:42:03 AM): and Daniel would sit with Michael and talk about how all sentient beings are people, and how everyone does bad things including humans and how are you feeling now, Michael?
synecdochic (12:42:18 AM): And after all, they're both. Outsiders. Really.
frostfire_17 (12:42:28 AM): and Michael would want to KILL HIM for being so--Daniel--until he started to warm up just a little...
frostfire_17 (12:42:36 AM): because he doesn't flinch
frostfire_17 (12:42:46 AM): everyone else, even Teyla, flinches
synecdochic (12:42:48 AM): Doesn't even seem to *acknowledge* that Michael can kill him.
frostfire_17 (12:42:58 AM): doesn't seem to have that inherent--revulsion
synecdochic (12:43:34 AM): Is different. Just -- subtly, strangely. There's something off about him.
frostfire_17 (12:44:40 AM): and once, sitting cross-legged on the floor next to where Michael was chained when he went crazy (alternate universe!) he said, simply, "May I?" and reached out a hand.

And no one touched Michael like that. Calmly, carefully, like the touch might hurt him, instead of the other way around.
synecdochic (12:45:55 AM): And Michael froze. Because he could feel Daniel's life-force singing to him, calling to him, sweet and subtle like a delicacy, but Daniel just set his hand on Michael's arm and rested it there, and Michael couldn't think of anything but how this man is either brilliant or insane. Or perhaps both.
frostfire_17 (12:48:50 AM): Because who lays their hands on a Wraith?

Daniel Jackson, apparently.

"Doctor," he says one day. "You aren't a scientist. They're all afraid of me. And you aren't a medical doctor. They want to study me."

"No," says Daniel, with a quick smile--nothing behind it, no fear, no threats--"I'm an archaeologist. I started out studying ancient civilizations, but now--now I just study people, really. People, and the languages they speak."

Michael closes his eyes. "Which probably makes you more dangerous than the medical doctors. And means that you're no different than them, because you want to study me, too."

"Yeah," Daniel says, nodding his head once. It's the first time any of them have been so blatant about it, so honest. "There's so much I want to understand, so much I want to know about your people --" and that's the first time any one of them have been that open about that, as well, the fact that no matter what they did to him, Michael is still "one of them", the enemy, the danger. "But I'm not just here because of that. I want to understand you. Because you look like a guy who could use a sympathetic ear."

Michael snarls, softly. He doesn't have the right voice to give it the true ring of terror anymore, but this mostly-human approximation can still ring dangerous when he wants it to. "Kind of hard to accept sympathy from food," he says. Deliberately.

Daniel smiles. "Would that be cannibalism?"

He can hear a noise, deep in his throat. "I'm not human."

"I don't think anyone's ever tried to coin a term for a semi-cannibal," says Daniel. "So I used the closest approximation."

He hates this, hates people pretending that he's human. "I've never been human," he says. "I just looked like one for awhile."

Daniel leans forward again, drops a hand on Michael's shoulder, deliberate. "You did more than look human," he says. "I saw you. You were human. And I've spent how many hours in here talking to you? I think I'm qualified to judge. Unless you're a better actor than anybody who's won an Oscar--"

Michael knows what the Oscars are. He shouldn't. He shouldn't.

"--you don't see me as food."

Michael's teeth grind together. The dueling memories are getting worse, fighting each other. He remembers (Texas) home, remembers (his parents) his Queen, remembers --

Daniel's hand squeezes his shoulder. Warm, solid. Strong and heavy, rough with calluses, used to defend itself, and Michael knows that if he could just get free -- of the restraints, of this body, back to the way he's supposed to be, the way he was made --

But they made him this way. Re-made him this way. "Food," Michael says, trying to cling to it, that one basic bit of identity. "I've sustained myself on a thousand of your kin."

Daniel smiles. It's a smile Michael's never seen before, not aimed at him. "Shofech dam ha'adam ba'adam damo yishafech ki betselem Elohim asah et-ha'adam," he says, and just as Michael is starting to blink at him, switches languages again, flawlessly, "But they probably gave it to you in English, right? King James, I'd bet. 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

It sounds familiar. By the spirit of the First Queen, it sounds familiar. (Sitting on a wooden bench, in his Sunday best, listening to the preacher thundering about sin and damnation.) "What do you want from me?" he grits out.

Daniel lifts his hand, pushes up his glasses. "To help," he says. "To understand. To help you understand."

"I understand," Michael says, bringing both fists up to his temples as though he can push the headache back behind his eyes, squeeze it down until it is compact and disposable, "that your people have raped me."

Daniel shakes his head. "You have to understand," he says. "We're just trying to communicate with you. With all of you."

"We don't," Michael grits out, "communicate with food."

Daniel leans forward. "You're saying we," he says. "We don't communicate with food--in English, you know, the singular and the plural you are the same, but in almost every other language, they're two different words. I want to communicate with you, Michael. I, not we. You've done something no other Wraith has. You've done something only one other human has, to my knowledge, and in my experience, communicating with John Sheppard is harder than communicating with you."

"Communicating with a wall is easier than communicating with Colonel Sheppard," Michael says, without having to stop to think about it. It's his line, that other him, the not-him they made and stuffed full of lies and deception. He snarls again. Daniel would taste so good, so sweet, and even if Michael could get loose, he couldn't -- he isn't able to. They took his food away.

He thinks he remembers something called the Geneva Convention. It's all still a little fuzzy.

"See?" Daniel says, still smiling that terrible smile. "If we can't agree on anything else, we can agree on that. You have an opportunity nobody else in this galaxy ever has, Michael. You have the chance to understand both sides."

"I didn't ask for this," Michael growls.

Daniel puts his hand back on Michael's shoulder. "None of us ever do," he says.

He hates the way Daniel makes him feel human. When he's with anyone else, he can concentrate on their life-force to the exclusion of all else--even Teyla, because he wanted Teyla before, and this is just a different kind of want, really--but Daniel makes him remember Texas and high school French (vous versus tu, yeah, he knows) and want to talk and he hates it.

"Don't waste the chance," Daniel says. Quietly, softly, like he's asking Michael to be a better person or something, like he has some kind of right to ask Michael to be a better person, like he's standing on some sort of moral high ground and surveying the landscape from up there.

"You make me sick," Michael spits. He draws away. He's had enough of Daniel touching him, enough of this fake intimacy, enough of this lie. "Change me back and send me home."

He almost believes it when Daniel sighs and says, "I'm sorry, Michael. I can't. I am sorry."

"Fuck you," says Michael, and that feels oh-so-human in his mouth, so he follows it up with a snarl. He wants Daniel under his hand, wants it oh Jesus--


"I want. To go. Home," he says precisely. "That is not a concept restricted to humans. That is not a sign that I am like you. Go away and don't come back until you've got a way to send me there, or I will feed upon your life until I am satiated," and he would taste so good, "and until you have shriveled and died." And he can hear himself, and he sounds like a Wraith.

And that, that finally sparks a flare of temper in Daniel's eyes, and good, because he was beginning to believe the man was -- some kind of robot. Some kind of computer. Because nobody can be that patient.

"Will you?" Daniel asks, sharp and biting. "With what?" He reaches down and drags up Michael's hands, fingers closing around the wrists hard enough to bruise (if they weren't already bruised). Pulls, once, and Michael's off-balance and falling against Daniel's chest, hand extended, reaching, reaching --

Daniel slams his palm down over Michael's palm, holding Michael's splayed fingers against his heartbeat. "Do it, then," he says.

Michael's whole body is shivering and feverish, the way it felt when he was 15 and got mono after kissing Jenny Halimayer in the parking lot of the Whataburger. Except he was never 15, and he doesn't even know if Jenny Halimayer exists.

"You know I can't," he spits.

Daniel's whole body relaxes. "Actually, no, I didn't," he says. "But I know you wouldn't."

And Daniel has no right to know that about him. And he's wrong--Michael does want to feed on Daniel, want like gravity, hunger like falling forever.

He pushes his claws (fingernails) further into Daniel's chest, until the shirt rips and the skin breaks, and Daniel is watching him with calm eyes.

"Michael," he says.

Michael snarls.

"What's my name?"

"I'm going to kill you, Daniel." Can he not see this--

"Would a Wraith remember my name with his claws embedded in my chest?" Daniel asks, and Michael--

"What's your name?"

Michael closes his eyes.

Closing his eyes doesn't help. Michael flexes his fingertips, pushes, digs -- if he can't feed on Daniel he can fucking well claw his heart out through his chest, barehanded, reaching through flesh and bone to rend, to destroy, to hurt --

The doors hiss open, and footsteps come through at a dead run, but Michael can't take the time to look up, because he's too busy trying to vivisect Daniel with his fingernails. "Dr. Jackson --" comes the voice, and Daniel throws up a hand to halt them, without taking his eyes from Michael's.

"Tell me," Daniel says. Straight to him. Pushes his chest against Michael's hand, like he wants it, like he's asking for it. Like he's begging for it. "What's your name?"

Blood is running down Daniel's chest, and Michael--he snarls, "I'm going to rip your heart out."

Daniel just looks at him. "I've died before."


"What's your name?"


All his swear words are in English.

Daniel is still looking at him. And, deliberately, he lifts up his hand and settles it, once again, over Michael's.

There's a stirring behind them again, and the voice returns, more urgent. "Dr. Jackson --"

"Can't you see I'm busy here, Corporal?" Daniel snarls, still without taking his eyes off Michael, which -- does he have eyes in the back of his head, to know who's standing there, enough to call him by rank at least? Daniel shifts his weight slightly, on his knees, not to get away but to make himself comfortable.

And Michael is shaking, still, again, and it's not just those false implanted memories that let him realize what the burning heavy pressure in the back of his throat, the backs of his eyes, means.

"Michael," Daniel says. Slowly. His fingers half-stroke the backs of Michael's hand. "You're hurting me."

"Good," Michael shouts. Or would, if he could. It comes out soft and choked instead.

Daniel's fingers are sliding over his hand. The last time someone touched his bare skin was--

"Michael," says Daniel again, so soft, oh God. "You're hurting yourself."

Michael yanks his hand away and spins around, drops to the floor. He knows he's curling up but he can't help the fetal position (he was never a fetus) and Daniel's blood is all over his hand and anything is better than letting Daniel see him cry.

And maybe it doesn't matter, because Daniel's hands are on his back, moving, comforting, offering something Michael can't even identify.

"Go," Michael says, through tears and snot and spit and other disgusting substances he can't name and never wanted to.

"I'm not leaving you alone," Daniel says.

"Why are you even here?" Michael says in something that is not a wail.

There's a pause, and, "You can leave, Corporal," says Daniel. And over the sound of the doors closing behind the Marines, Daniel says, "You're hurting so much, and you won't even admit you can hurt. Does that sound like someone who should be alone?"

"Oh, and now you're Dr. Heightmeyer?" Michael snaps out. "Let's talk about your feelings, Michael. Let's talk about you getting angry. Let's talk about your dreams of being a Wraith. Let's talk about you, Daniel. What fucked you up so badly that you can stand to touch me?"

Daniel arranges himself next to Michael, cross-legged. Settling in for the long haul. "You can ask anyone. I don't talk about feelings. Mine or someone else's." He taps his hand against Michael's shoulder, once, not quite a pat; more to call attention. "And I'm not sure why you think I have to be fucked up to touch you."

Tired. Michael is so tired. So weak. But he has to stay on the offensive. It's the only way he's going to make it through this.

"You keep telling me I'm human," he says. "Are you sure you are? Because humans cower from the Nesh'ta."

He uses the word deliberately. It tastes like ash in his mouth. He forgets that Daniel knows languages.

"Do you know," Daniel says, like he's presenting some interesting fact to a room full of officers waiting for a briefing, "that the name every race we've ever encountered uses for itself translates as 'the true people' in some way or another?"

They gave Michael memories of psychology classes in college. He thinks this technique is called 'empathy'.

He can counter this. After all--"Right. Because to every race, they are the only ones that matter. I mean, can you honestly tell me that humans want to save the Wraith? That this retrovirus is for our sake? You just want to make us easier to kill. And--" he says, forestalling the I would never do that, Michael--"I was using the collective you, there, Daniel, not the personal one." He's not crying anymore. Thank--

He thinks that things might be simpler if he just lost the use of speech entirely.

--but that thought seizes him, sends a horror flickering through the lower parts of his brain, to not be able to manipulate words like this--

Wraith speak. That isn't a betrayal.

But he can't make it stop feeling like he's speaking human.

"I can't speak for my entire race," says Daniel. His hand is still on Michael's shoulder, and he slides it down his arm until he's gripping Michael's hand. Holding it. "I'm a single individual. What I feel might be different from what they feel, but that doesn't make it any less valid."

"Oh, fuck you." So what if he's speaking in human. There's really no other way to express it.

Daniel's hand is warm and heavy. Michael can smell the blood that's still on his fingertips, still sluggishly welling from the wounds on Daniel's chest, but Daniel doesn't seem to notice it wet and slippery on their joined hands, like his own blood is nothing more than an inconvenience to him.

"And I think," Daniel says, ignoring Michael's punctuation as though he never spoke, "our track record shows that we're quite good at reaching out to other races. When they're not trying to kill us. First we have to establish a common ground from which to work."

Anger flares up in the depths of Michael's stomach again. "You have no right to make me into your common ground."

"No," Daniel says, and takes off his glasses with his other hand, rubs the back of the hand across the bridge of his nose. "No, you're right, that was a spectacularly bad idea. But will you throw it away once it's there? Because I don't want to."

Jesus, Daniel really is --

Fuck. He's even starting to think human.

And now he's--angry. "Yeah, well, you humans have this precious thing you like to call free will, right? Do I get a choice in this?"

"Of course you do," says Daniel, patient as a rock. "You're only tied up here because you don't get a free choice about killing people for food."

Michael snorts. "If only." The sentiment is Wraith, the expression is human. He is not from fucking America.

"But you've been doing a pretty good job of making that choice over the last few days," Daniel says. "I'm asking you to change your mind."

Michael wants all of this to be a nightmare. He wants to wake up (in Texas) on a ship (at the SGC) with others of his own kind (in his own bed in Atlantis) and get the hell away from Daniel Jackson. Who--he saw Dr. Jackson around Atlantis, during the charade, and he noticed the slight awkwardness, the um, what? and the distracted pseudo-lectures about Ancient this and Ancient that. The mainlining of coffee, and the way he and Rodney McKay seemed to flutter between utter hatred and Vulcan mind-meld (he's seen Star Trek DVDs on Atlantis and now he can never unsee them) and it shouldn't fit with this inexorable force of personality whose blood is dripping from their joined hands.

But it does.

He's so tired.

"Can you choose not to eat?" he asks.

Daniel laughs. It's a completely inappropriate sound. "Actually, there was this one time -- But you don't care about that. I know you're hungry, Michael. If you'd just let the doctors --"

And maybe Daniel had lulled him into a false sense of complacency, with his oh-so-reasonable statements and his fingers curled around Michael's own, but this was what Michael was expecting from the first. He uncoils suddenly, backing as far away as he can, his hands up as if to ward himself. "No!"

Daniel has paused in mid-sentence; as Michael watches, he closes his mouth, pushes his glasses up his nose (bloody smudge against his cheek) (taste so good would taste so good). "I was going to say," he says, voice mild, "'give you a nutrient IV'. But yes, in poor taste, perhaps." He closes his eyes when he hears himself, winces. "Sorry."

And this is a crack in the facade, Daniel no longer smooth and perfect, Daniel making mistakes. But it doesn't--

It doesn't make him want to dive in, claws first. Or even snap back a comeback. Daniel's getting tired. So what, Michael's ragged with exhaustion. And he's so hungry. "Don't make puns," he says. "And maybe. Maybe I will."

"Good," says Daniel, and smiles. He does look tired, which--Michael doesn't know, he's lost count how many hours a day Daniel's been spending in here. And he's bleeding, sluggishly. He smells--good.

"I want to sleep now," Michael says, abruptly, because he can't take much more of this. He's only --

He will not think that he is only human.

Daniel watches him for a minute. "Think about what I said," he says, a statement, not a question.

Michael doesn't think he's going to be able to think about anything else. Think about what Daniel said, about what he did, about the feeling of skin and blood underneath his hands, the look in Daniel's eyes, the terrible inexorable force of him --

He lets his legs slide out of their crouch underneath him, slumps against the side of the cell. "You know me so well," he says, "you tell me if I will."

"You can do whatever you want. I can't stop you." Daniel watches him with relentless eyes. "Do you want me to stay?"

"I--what?" He didn't hear that right.

"Do you want me to stay. Sleep in here. If you need some company."

He's--dizzy. Or something. "You're still bleeding," he says, gesturing helplessly with the hand that did it.

Daniel looks down, disinterested. "It's fine. Don't say no because you think I need some Band-Aids."

Daniel, curled up asleep in the cell, hand resting lightly on Michael's chest, smelling like sleep and blood and life. Warmth from Daniel's body. His breathing in the air. He chokes out, "No. No. Go to the infirmary. I--I want to be alone." God, Beckett's going to come after him with a scalpel when he sees--

"All right," says Daniel. "But the offer stands."

Michael closes his eyes. Maybe if he keeps them closed forever, this will all go away.

"Goodnight, Michael," says Daniel. Michael hears him getting up, steadying himself, and then he steps--forward, what?--and leans down and brushes a kiss against Michael's forehead.

"Sleep well," says Daniel, and leaves Michael in a stunned heap, because (his mother used to kiss him like that, every night before bed) no one has ever kissed him before.

Eventually, he lies all the way down. Stares at the ceiling and thinks, I want to sleep forever.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

He doesn't know what better is.
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