Don’t own jack…or anyone else for that matter. *Sigh*.AN:
This is a pretty much direct sequel to “The Usual Suspects”. Its not as comic as my other past-tense fics of this series, but I wrote it the way it felt like it need to be written, so, meh.
The Mohra demon is from the first season Angel episode, “I Will Remember You”. I reckon the only reason he was an intact human was because he was vampire with nifty extras. It’ll make sense when you read the fic, promise.
Oh, and a lumbar puncture, btw, is when they put a fucking great needle in your back in order to get a bit of your spinal fluid. When a friend of mine was eight, she had spinal meningitis and they did that to her. Keep in mind, they can't use anesthetic, so imagine how much terror and pain she was in when the bloody thing snapped still inside her spine, had to be drawn out and the whole debacle done again. I'm just saying, not fun.
By virtue of being a creature of little tact and a blunt speaker by habit, Faith was the one to lay down the line on Michael’s new existence to the ex-Wraith himself.
The situation was thus:
Dawn had been back on Earth, calmly brushing her teeth before bed and mentally going over the finer points of a lecture transcript, when the Key pieces of her had sung out as one, coalesced and flung her across the void between galaxies, landing her in the middle of Team Sheppard’s rescue of Carson. They had at the time managed to walk into Michael, currently tall, blue and cracked in the brain-pan. Catching Dawn, he had fed from her, only to come face-to-shining-face with the Key and be utterly remade.
Back in Atlantis, Faith and the others had stood in the upper reaches of one of the observation rooms and watched Carson cautiously assessing Michael Human Version 3.0. Physically, he was entirely human. There wasn’t even a scrap of Wraith DNA, suppressed or otherwise. When asked if he was sure, the HMO had been indignant.
“Of course I’m bloody sure: we’ve tested every conceivable bit of him we can, three times
. We even did a lumbar puncture
, for Christ’s sake.”
He had, and it had been fucking unpleasant. Only Faith and Giles had stuck it out and watched, forcing themselves in an unspoken point of honour, of grit. The others found excuses to be elsewhere for few seconds or looked away. Dawn had looked like she might cry when the man on other side of the glass had cried out in shock and pain.
The explanation of this, however, was not to come medically. Dawn had volunteered the answer, looking perfectly wretched as she did so.
“I – I burnt it out of him. The Wraith DNA, I mean. It was just – it was the thing to do; why I was there. He didn’t need to be that anymore so I just stripped it away.”
It wasn’t the only thing the Key had stripped from him.
When first made human, he had been estimated to be – physically – about thirty-six. He was now roughly twenty-two.
Rodney’s fit of apoplexy on the unfairness of it all had been delightful to watch.
But wait, there’s more.
They had watched his psych assessment as well. Michael had sat up on his bed, restrained but happy to answer questions, looking puzzled and curious in the extreme. So had Dr. Heightmeyer.
It turned out that the Key had decided Michael hadn’t needed to know about being a Wraith, firsthand at least, or the subsequent bouncing back and forward between species either. Dawn phrased it as “a purge of hate. I wanted him pure for…something. God, I wish I could remember what
Their boy, it seemed, had a destiny, although not one that would play out for quite some time. The question of what would happen to him now took priority. Dawn had an answer for that too.
“He’s coming with me.”
This was followed by a direct descendant of Red’s Resolve Face.
It was a truly frightening sight, and Faith wished she could be around to see it turned on Richard Woolsey.
Oddly, the only thing he had been left with was his name.
“Do you know who you are, what you name is?”
“Michael,” he’d replied promptly, and then attempted to look at his own mouth in surprise.
Faith had smiled, up in the observation room, at the time. Now, she watched his face as he struggled to comprehend his unremembered past. On the laptop’s screen, the Wraith flailed and screamed, and Michael flinched every time. Mind you, so did Dawn.
Both young women were perched on either side of his bed, the computer on a hospital sling table between them. In the shadowed corners of the room, Ronon and a small security detail kept careful watch.
The Sateadan’s eyes some times caught the light, pupils flashing black and startling green, but at least his expression didn’t show open hostility. Michael was unquestionably human, and about to be taken off their hands and out of their faces. Faith was very aware of her Lantean friend’s feelings on the subject of the ex-Wraith. He made them uncomfortable, with his clueless and somehow innocent expressions. He was a sight they had come to fear, and hate, and suddenly he was someone else, something else, and undeserving of malice. They would not be glad to see him go, no, not glad but infinitely relieved.
Faith hadn’t liked the idea of the retrovirus in the first place. Michael had been right when he had told Teyla that what he was wasn’t a disease to be cured. It was like vampirism. Mohra demon blood could make them mortal again, bring them back to life, but it didn’t return their souls, and so instead of having a creature that could be killed cleanly and forgotten about, you had a soulless human who bled and broke and could become broken. All of a sudden Slayers could be counted as murderers, because how do you prove the lack of soul to a bruised and bloodstained sixteen-year-old, only two years Called, when everyone knows that humans with souls can do the same sort of damage, kill just as many and bathe in their blood.
So it had been with Michael, someone given humanity, but with no way of sustaining it, no way of walking out from the shadow of what he was, or willfully drawing back under it. Faith had felt uncharacteristic pity, something she usually reserved for children and animals. Adults, in her mind, were both above and beneath pity. They were responsible for their situations. Michael was not, to some degree, but after that fateful discovery he had chosen to revert, to pull away and then betray all.
The Slayer didn’t know how she’d feel about him leaving, or how she felt now, for that matter. There was pity again, though, because it was impossible not to feel it, watching his suddenly-young face crumple as Dawn, miserable herself, explained as best she could after Faith had given him the hard line: “You weren’t always human. This is what you used to be,” and let the videos speak for themselves, showing his transformation.
“I don’t – I don’t understand,” he said, after the last had finished, the media player gone static and the rest of the tale been told. “Why? Why do this, any of this?”
“We’re at war,” Faith said, meeting his eyes without shame. “I didn’t like the idea of it all. Never been crash hot on the whole messing with nature, but I got made the way I am now to keep good people and good things safe. The Wraith aren’t good, and they don’t feel like nature to me. You didn’t feel natural, but you do now.”
“Because I’m human, like you?”
Boy, this kid was quick.
She shook her head. “Because you’re one thing; a whole, not two halves.”
He nodded, looked down at his hands, and then up at Dawn, who looked so very, very tired, those big baby blues of her underscored with very faint purple. It had taken a huge amount out of her, transforming him, burning the Iratus out of the very fabric of his existence. The Key was so much, and D was so little.
She and Michael looked at each other, book ends of each others destinies, in some strange way.
“Why?” Dawn asked, eyebrows raised in a very Giles gesture.
“Like I said, I’m the Key. The Key is every cohesive energy; ever. Because of this, it’s connected to Time, and through that connection it knows all that was, is and will be. It knew something about you, about what you could do if certain things were set in motion, changes made. I’m its human avatar, and so I’m the one to enact the changes.”
He blinked, processing this, then asked, “Every cohesive energy in the…ever, is an entity, with a biased awareness?”
This kid was real
Dawn gave an elegant one shouldered shrug. “Or it could be my subconscious directing it. Call it fate.”
Michael looked mournful. “Wish I knew my fate,” he said quietly.
The younger Summers sister reached out then, one hand resting on his wrist, an expression of complete empathy on her face.
“We’ll figure that out,” she told him. “You’ll be coming home with me. The Key won’t be done with you, not by a long shot.”
She smiled at him.
“I think you’ll like it in Colorado.”
Two months had passed since Michael had taken his leave of them. the data burst that followed a week after the Daedalus’s arrival on Earth informed them the IOA had indeed fallen by the wayside in the face of Dawn – and fate’s – threatened wrath. Better yet, Faith got her wish and was able to watch the whole thing on the video file of the conference when it had happened.
Her laughter could be heard three corridors away.
It was also noted that Michael was settling in well, having been cautiously accepted into the Slayers and Watchers fold, and was getting ready to attend University with Dawn and Cassie, having somehow passed the numerous equivalency tests. They also sent copies of his enrollment forms for further examination. No one could really fathom why, until Elizabeth called Team Sheppard, Carson and Faith into her office and presented the printouts with a certain sardonic flourish.
As they read them, the reactions were varied. Faith let out an unladylike snort of laughter through her nose, Teyla heaved a resigned sigh, John merely looked pained, and Ronon smiled grimly, while Carson regarded the ceiling in a beseeching manner and muttered, “Oh bloody, buggering hell.”
Rodney threw up the papers in a fit of disgust and proceeded to rant until he wasn’t so much as blue in face, as puce.
The forms were for one Michael Sulien Summers, who would be majoring in philosophy.AN2:
‘Sulien’ is a Welsh boys name meaning ‘sun born’. I thought it appropriate given the circumstances. Also! ‘Tis the name of one of my loveliest and most darling reviewers! *Shameless plug*