Thoughts of a Prisoner – Amaruk Wolfheart

Spoilers: set during "Poisoning the Well," mentions of "Suspicion"

Warnings and Pairings: none and none

Notes: This fic is dedicated to all who reviewed my story Questions and Answers, but primarily to Rubber Ducky of Doom for suggesting this adventure in the first place. A thousand thanks to Raquedan and Ally – you two rock! Any spoken stuff (i.e. "Woof!") is a direct quote from an episode. Anyway, read on and enjoy! 10/3/10: The only alterations made to this fic are fixing the formatting (which decided to eat) and a few small changes for clarification. Also, if you're looking for other good Steve stuff, you must try Meloku's utterly brilliant fic The Pegasus Tango. It is amazing – a thousand times better than this. And significantly longer. : )

-Rutile's Spectacularly Amazing Disclaimer- The writer of this fic owns nothing. The End.

"Hello again, Major Sheppard." He rose smoothly to his feet.

"Sorry if I woke you," the human replied, adding some nonsense about a 'magazine' and 'towels.'

"You hide your fear poorly, Major." His voice had a smug tone to it. He is a fool, but at least he is intelligent enough to be afraid… He was vaguely pleased to see his captor sidestep this comment, proving that nothing could dispute it, and instead changed the subject to the name of his prisoner.

"Let me guess… Steve?"

"I am your death," the Wraith answered. "That is all you need to know." Again, the smug confidence was clear in both voice and posture.

"I prefer Steve."

Mentally, the Wraith allowed himself a laugh as he stepped closer to his interrogator. As if I would tell you my name. You will not get even that information from me. Which brought to mind the question: "What do you hope to gain from this?"

"Just trying to bridge the gap between our two cultures, get to know you better."


"That and try to figure out how to keep your kind from sucking the life out of millions of innocent people."

Ah. Of course. Just like our ancient enemies in your arrogance. You cannot defy nature, human. We eat what we must eat. "Even if I told you what you wanted to know, it would change nothing. You are doomed, as are any humans that stand in our way."

The smug tone was grating on his captor's nerves, the Wraith noted. Good.

"Can't be a nice way to die," the major shot back, staying outwardly calm. "Hungry…slow… Knowing your food source is just…out of reach."

A spark of fury exploded in the Wraith. He lashed out, hit the force field, jerked back and whipped away from the major. "Ah! Why do you keep me here!" He turned sharply to one side and began to pace the confines of his cage in obvious frustration.

"I need to know what we're up against," came the answer. "For example: how many of those big hive ships have you got and where are they?"

He was still pacing and couldn't keep the irritation out of his voice. "You have nothing to offer me in return." He forced himself to stand still and appear calm.

"We could talk about easing your hunger," the human said, adding, almost as an afterthought, "Steve."

"You would never sacrifice one of your own kind," the Wraith retorted, regaining his composure as he continued with a rather condescending smile, "And yet, it is all that stands between you and the information you seek."

- . - . -

Major Sheppard left shortly after that. The Wraith, now apparently called 'Steve,' returned to his earlier kneeling position. Don't think I won't keep my promise to you, Major.

"When I'm free, you'll be the first that I feed upon…"

Sometimes, the thought of slowly draining the life from that foolish human (and he could imagine it in great detail) was all that kept him sane. Being caged was bad enough, but worse than that was the boredom. It had been amusing, for a while, to torment his guards, but the lack of response to the visions made even that boring after some time.

Now he almost looked forward to Major Sheppard's 'visits.' They at least broke the monotony of life as a prisoner and distracted him somewhat from the hunger. And it was almost fun to frustrate and annoy the major. Better than sitting and brooding, at any rate.

Imprisoned, bored, and hungry… It was not a good combination. If he didn't at least eat soon it was going to drive him insane, and that wouldn't do at all. A sane prisoner is more dangerous than a crazy one, and he knew that the attitude of confidence, as if he could just walk out whenever he chose, irritated his captors and made them nervous…

He heard the door of the cage slide open, but didn't move.

"Hi, Steve."

Ah, Major Sheppard. It's been some time since you last graced this prison with your presence. He rose swiftly to his feet, turning to face the open door, calculating any possible chance of a meal or escape.

"Bye, Steve." That was from one of his guards, the young one, Ford.

At this comment, the Wraith immediately raced forward only to be hit in the chest by a blast of energy from a Wraith weapon wielded by Ford. He stumbled back, in pain and rather infuriated now, and dropped to one knee, but forced himself up again only to be hit a second time. He fell again, unable to support himself, ending up on his back, numbed and unconscious on the cold floor of his prison.

- . - . -

Slowly the Wraith regained consciousness. Still feeling the effects of the two shots, he carefully pulled himself into the usual kneeling position and mentally added Ford to the list of Those who Must Die Slow and Painful Deaths.

He wasn't sure what the reason for attacking him had been. What would such an action accomplish? …But then, they are mere animals. One cannot always explain their activities.

He allowed himself a short, almost inaudible sigh, and turned his thoughts to more pressing matters. It is unlikely that I will manage to escape unaided. Our enemies' technology surpasses my own abilities at the moment. As far as assistance went, what he had told the major before was true.

"You think you've won a victory by my capture, but by bringing me here you've only hastened your own doom. It's only a matter of time before the others of my kind come to rescue me. And when they do…there'll be nowhere in this world you can hide!"

But… Unfortunately, it is also unlikely that the others will get here before I starve to death or lose my mind. His thoughts continued in this vein until Major Sheppard again came to question the prisoner.

- . - . -

The hunger was beginning to take its toll. Yes, hunger was a constant thing – never fully gone – but this was too much. It affected his concentration and control. This was frustrating enough in itself, but worse was the fact that even the major was beginning to see the slight lapses in focus, and how the Wraith was easier to irritate and sooner to snap at his interrogator.

He paced in his cell as Major Sheppard spoke, raising a hand to his forehead as he tried to stay focused on what was being said. He didn't like listening to the fool human, but any snippet of information let slip could prove useful…

"Hi, Steve."

The customary greeting, now. He was getting weary of the major, of the cage, and couldn't keep all of that weariness out of his response. He didn't even bother to glance over at the human.

"More samples?"

Yes, he had found out the reason for shooting him – an occasion which repeated itself more than once. Yet another thing he was getting weary of. After all, no sane creature enjoyed being shot.

"I was thinking more along the lines of a field trip," was the answer. While the Wraith didn't fully understand the term 'field trip,' it was enough to gain some interest in the conversation. "You want sustenance, I want information."

Well. Never mind then. We've been over this and over this several times already. He turned his head to study the major. 'I-honestly-cannot-believe-you're-this-slow' was written quite clearly all over his face. He spoke slowly and clearly, as if to a particularly young and particularly stupid human child. "You are incapable of offering such a trade."

"You tell me something of value, I let you eat," Sheppard countered. "That's the deal, take it or leave it."

The Wraith recalled another promise he had made to his captor.

"You waste your time. I will provide you with no information."

I suppose I shall have to break that one. The offer of a meal couldn't be ignored. Besides, even if the humans knew everything, they would never triumph over the Wraith. He turned to fully face the major. It was simply not possible.

"Very well."

- . - . -

His hands were chained together and he was carefully watched by five humans, including Major Sheppard, Ford, and his other constant guard – 'Bates.' He was taken aboard one of the ancient enemies' ships with a human positioned on each side, pointing guns at him to ensure their safety.

Fools, all of them. I could kill you now if I wished. But the prospect of finally getting to eat after long weeks of imprisonment and starvation gave the humans much more protection than a pair of guns did. The Wraith couldn't resist a smile.

Ford glanced back at him from the cockpit with Major Sheppard. "Hey man, this isn't supposed to be fun."

Young one, I am going to feed. This is more 'fun' for me than you could ever guess. But he did not reply aloud, only giving the human a last condescending smile before turning away. It was hard enough to sit quietly as it was. He couldn't help being excited – finally, finally a meal!

Unless they plan to trick me… But one way or another I will eat soon…

- . - . -

The Wraith ended up in another cage, on a planet called Hoff. He was becoming sick to death of cages, but at least this one had a bench to sit on and was not equipped with a shield. It was very difficult to stay still and appear as calm as ever, but they couldn't know the effect this promise of food had. At least he was more alert, able to concentrate better, than he had been in some time. However…

The Athosian woman spoke to the major. "They are ready." He recalled how fiercely she had fought him before he overpowered her, prevented from feeding on her only by the timely arrival of Major Sheppard. She would make a good meal…

Humans were entering the room. One from the city on the sea, called Doctor Beckett, walked with a female he did not recognize and a frail-looking male right up to the cage. He turned his head slightly to get a better look at the trio, then almost completely around as he got a better view of the last one, looking him over with a hint of disgust.

"This is the sustenance you promised?"

"Little change in plans," Major Sheppard said coolly. "You tell me something right now, or the dinner party's canceled."

Even a frail, sickly human would make a better meal than nothing. His response was short, voice betraying both annoyance and impatience.

"What do you want to know?"

"How many hive ships have become operational since we awakened the first one?"

He gave the human a slow smirk. This I do not mind telling you, Major. There is little you can do with that information, and it may serve to strengthen your healthy fear of my kind. "All of them, Major Sheppard." The Wraith's voice was obviously smug, and he couldn't help gloating just a tad, but he stayed polite. "First, they will travel their own feeding grounds and gather strength. We are a patient race, Major. When we have taken our fill, and gathered our strength, we will join force – and come for you!"

"Do you have any idea when that'll be?" the major asked, refusing to react. "Morning, afternoon?"

The Wraith answered by turning his head away with a short, exasperated sigh. -You have kept me locked up in that foul city for weeks. How could I possibly know? Besides, I've answered one question. Therefore, I get one meal. Do not try to interrogate me further until after that!

Major Sheppard seemed to get the message. He turned to his fellow humans. "Open it up."

A guard opened the cage door with an ominous creaking sound. The frail-looking human started forward, but paused as the doctor touched his shoulder.

"You don't have to do this."

Someone does. Perhaps Major Sheppard. He's the one who owes me a meal, after all. …And you're behaving rather foolishly, standing there with the door open for so long. I could probably kill at least one of you before I died…

"I know," the other human responded, starting to remove a blanket from his shoulders. "I'm ready."

The Wraith had difficulty suppressing a short laugh. I highly doubt that. You have no idea what you're doing. They were all afraid, every human in the room, so much so that he could almost taste the fear. He breathed in deeply, trying to loosen muscles tense with anticipation.

The human stepped forward, crossing the threshold of the cage. His hands trembled as the door creaked shut behind him. The Wraith smiled.

He stood, enjoying the tension hanging over the humans, and studied the one inside the cage critically.

"He is weak." But he was sustenance, a brief respite from hunger…

Without further warning the Wraith lunged forward, right hand hitting the human's chest.

The humans outside the cage watched – some in horror, some in grim fascination – and there was a faint sense of expectation hovering among them.

The Wraith had no desire to study this, and pushed away the niggling thought that something in the behavior of these humans was slightly off. He could finally, finally feed…but no, wait… Something is wrong, very wrong… What is happening? He jerked away, leaving the human with angry red marks but otherwise none the worse. He glanced from his hand to the human in shock. What is this? He couldn't wipe the stunned expression from his face and turned away from the staring humans. Shock threw his thoughts into a barely coherent babble. What had happened? And how?

- . - . -

"What is it?"

"Steve. He doesn't look so good."

"How long has he been like this?"

"Since the test."

"Think it's a ruse?"

"It is not their way."

The Wraith could barely make sense of their words through the searing pain. So much pain… He gripped the bars of the cage tightly, using nearly all of his remaining energy to drag himself to a standing position and grimacing at the fresh wave of hurt this caused. His breath came heavily, in short, ragged gasps. Wild confusion, anger, and pain were clear in his eyes now that he no longer had the concentration or strength to keep the calm mask on.

Major Sheppard came closer to the cage. "Hey."

A short gasp of air. "What have you done to me?" He kept his voice as level as possible. He couldn't give them a clue…

With a burst of rage and the last of his strength, the Wraith hurled himself forward, lunging at Major Sheppard. The human stumbled back and the Wraith missed him by mere inches. His companions were clearly ready to shoot their prisoner, but had no need. This last effort was all he had left.

The Wraith gripped the cage bars, trying to stay standing, and failed, slipping down to the floor.

"Get Beckett in here now," the major ordered, crouching in front of the cage to address "Steve." "We're gonna help you."

Despite labored breathing and further pain, the Wraith managed to lever himself up on an elbow to look Major Sheppard in the eye. "Don't feel pity for me." His voice held a note of victory, and the superior tone of prior days. "You will suffer far worse when the others come for you. Heh…heh…" The start of laughter turned into a hiss of pain and the Wraith collapsed onto his back. You will die slowly, Major, and in much more pain than I… Pain, so much blinding pain…then darkness…and finally…nothing…