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What You Don't Fear

Chapter Text

There was pain everywhere inside his body, spreading out from his skull until even his toes and his fingertips hurt. The pain must have woken him up, because the last thing he remembered was the surface of the planet coming closer at high speed until the dark green of the thick jungle-like forest was all he could see through the windscreen of his small spaceship.

Captain Erik Drum slowly blinked his eyes open with a pained groan as he tried to recall the impact when his fighter had hit the canopies of the tall trees and the hard ground only seconds later.

The pain made it hard for him to think, but he actually welcomed it, because it told him that his spine almost certainly hadn't been damaged too severely in the crash landing. He could feel and move his legs and his arms with ease, the pain bearable as he did so, and the young captain hoped that he hadn't suffered any serious internal bleeding but only some nasty bruises. His head hurt pretty much from the crash, but he didn't feel dizzy, and his vision had cleared and was as sharp as usual after the first three or four seconds of disorientation after his unconsciousness.

Erik let out another groan when he struggled into a more upright position, fumbling for the fastener of his safety belt. “What a great start to introduce yourself to Atlantis and the Second Alliance, Erik Drum,” he muttered to himself. “There couldn't have been a better way to prove your skills to Colonel Sheppard and Colonel Mitchell than to crash one of their new precious and very expensive space fighters on an unknown planet. They will be so pleased with you, congratulating you on your wonderful performance!”

If they would ever find him, that is!

Erik had no clue where he was, and the lights on the console in front of his seat remained stubbornly dark and silent when he pressed the buttons to check over his small plane. His D-1404 was one of the five new fighters Earth had worked on for more than two years, using the technology of the Asgards, the Ancients and the Wraith to create something entirely new. The small plane was actually a hybrid of the old Earth fighters F-302 and the Wraith Darts, and it contained not only a buffer like Wraith Darts did and the beam technology of the Asgards and the Wraith in combination, but also Ancient technology which could only be operated by those pilots possessing the ATA-gene.

Lady Artemis, High Commander Todd and their allied Commanders had eventually given access to their technology after years of negotiations with the IOA and General O'Neill as the emissary of the united military command on Earth, and Commander Sinamore's consort – the ascended Ancient Atreyus – had helped them with the technology of his own people.

It was only a small part of their technology because the ascended Ancients had strict rules when it came to that, but it gave the New Lanteans a huge advantage and would allow them to protect and support their allied planets from the attacks of hostile Wraith much better in the future than they had been able to do before building these new ships. If the new fighters worked without problems, then Earth would try to create bigger scout-ships with the same technology, but all of this depended on the experiences of the handful of carefully chosen pilots with the D-1404s.

Erik was a strong natural gene-carrier of the ATA-gene, and he had been so proud when he had been chosen to join the Atlantis mission and fly one of the new and so precious spaceships – not only because of his gene as Colonel Mitchell had assured him, but also because of his skills as a pilot. The D-1404 didn't need Stargates to bridge long distances any longer like the old F-302 or the Puddle Jumpers needed them, the new Dart Fighters as Erik's direct superior Colonel Mitchell called them possessed a hyper drive and had a range of several hundred light years.

The Stardust had arrived over Atlantis a couple of weeks ago, carrying the brand-new fighters in her belly to test them in the Pegasus Galaxy, and Erik had felt as if his biggest dream had come true when he'd set foot in Atlantis for the first time in his life.

The young captain had felt overwhelmed and in awe of everything, especially the fearsome Wraith he had heard so much about. The things others had told him about these amazing beings hadn't prepared him in the slightest for the 'real' Wraith strolling through the city as though they'd always belonged there, talking and sometimes even joking with the humans they encountered as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. Colonel Mitchell had spent several weeks on Earth choosing the new expedition members and pilots himself with greatest care, and he'd only smiled and winked at Erik when the young captain with the light-brown hair and the hazel-green eyes had asked him about their alien allies before they had left Earth to fly to Pegasus with the Stardust.

“You will get to know them soon enough, Captain Drum. Nothing I could tell you about them would do them real justice, you have to find out for yourself, I fear. There is only one thing you'll always have to think of: the Wraith belonging to our alliance will always protect you with their own life, you'll never have to fear them. But the Wraith living outside our alliance are still our lethal enemies, so you'd better stay away from them if you can!”

This was all Colonel Mitchell had said, and Erik had been confused and hesitant to come closer to any Wraith he'd encountered during his first three weeks in Atlantis. Watching the proud Commanders interacting with their human allies, especially their beloved consorts, had made him feel curious and intrigued at last, and Erik had hoped to get to know one of the greenish alien beings better in the course of the time.

This surely wouldn't happen now, not after him crashing one of the new and long-awaited Dart Fighters. Erik was certain that Colonel Sheppard would send him back to Earth again straight away if he was lucky enough that they would find him in time that was, his career ending before it had even really begun.

The young captain gave up his useless attempts to bring his small plane back to life, letting out a frustrated sound with an angry expression on his handsome features. He would have to check the hyper radio device and try to make it work again, but first of all he needed to get out of here and search for a place where he could rest in relative safety. He needed to find water and something he could eat, some berries or other plants, perhaps some animals he could hunt. Erik wasn't really fond of the idea of going hunting, but he only had limited supplies, and he wanted to save the energy bars for as long as possible.

Erik suppressed another groan when he pushed against the hatch of his Dart Fighter to force it open, glad when the metal frame obeyed him after the third attempt, giving in with a creaking noise of protest. The material the D-1404 was made of was a completely new alloy of steel, naquadah and aluminum, the hatch and the windscreen made of a special transparent glass and plastic alloy that was space-proof.

Erik climbed outside gritting his teeth, carefully examining and stretching his limbs as he checked himself for possible serious damage. When he didn't find any, he straightened his shoulders and looked around. His fighter had left a large swath of broken trees and bushes behind, and the young captain felt a cold shiver running down on his spine when he realized how lucky he had actually been. His plane didn't even look as badly damaged as he had feared that it might be, perhaps it could be repaired – if Atlantis found him and brought both of them back to the city that is.

“Okay Erik. You're in trouble, but not as much as you thought you were. You need to find a good place to shelter where you can stay during the nights, and after some hours of rest and hopefully having found some food and fresh water, you'll come back here and see to repairing the hyper radio device,” the handsome young captain said to himself, rummaging around in the fighter for the medical bag and the bag with the supplies. He knew that the bag also contained a scanner to check whether or not the berries and plants he hoped to find were edible, and there was also a compass and a small GPS device he needed to orientate himself. Both items were working when he tried them, and Erik let out a sound of relief and fixed the coordinates of his landing site to be able to find his way back to his plane later again.

He wasn't happy that he had to leave his fighter, but Erik was experienced enough to know that it was too risky to stay here. He didn't know this planet, and hostile species like the Genii that had refused to accept Ladon Radim as their president or the Wraith not belonging to the Second Alliance would come here first to search for possible survivors. He needed a place where he would be safe from animal predators as much as from other intelligent beings who weren't on friendly terms with Atlantis, and he needed to find a creek or other water source because his water supplies wouldn't last for more than perhaps two or three days. When he had found everything in his bags that he had been searching for, he closed the hatch of his Dart Fighter, trying the remote control that would make it invisible for others. Erik hadn't really thought that it would still work, but much to his surprise and joy it did work, and the young captain watched his precious plane disappear behind a wall of flickering air.

He turned around when his small spaceship had become invisible, musing for a few seconds about which direction to take. Finally, he looked at his compass and drew in a deep breath, starting off towards the line of green mountains he could see shimmering in the distance through the swath of destruction his plane had left. It melted with the azure-blue sky on the horizon, and Erik guessed that they were about ten or fifteen miles away. It was hard to tell, but he was young and military, and the sun was still high in the sky, so he should reach the mountains before nightfall.

Erik ignored the pain every step made shoot through his bruised body and started to walk.

 

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The squealing noise of the small ship going down with far too much speed was audible even miles away. The tall creature paused what it was doing, raising its head to stare at the deep blue sky with glittering yellow-golden eyes.

The air was formed into a long white stripe where the black dot raced through the atmosphere, sinking deeper and deeper until it disappeared between the trees of the thick forests near the mountains where the creature had found a temporary home.

The yellow-golden eyes narrowed as they tried to follow the black spot, but the canopies of the trees were too thick. The mouth of the creature bared to a hiss of annoyance, clawed fingers clenching around a large knife as their owner suppressed the urge to reach out for the unknown pilot with its mind.

Whoever the pilot of the small spaceship was - if they survived the crash relatively unharmed - then they would find their way here sooner rather than later anyway, for this place had the only source of fresh water within a radius of at least thirty miles.

It was only a matter of time, and all the creature had to do was wait for its prey to come here.

 

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Erik had been faster than he had actually anticipated, reaching the base of the mountains when the sun was still hovering over the horizon. He was totally exhausted and thirsty, and only the distant sound of what must be a waterfall had kept him walking. His compass and his GPS device told him where he had to go, but he had to search his way through the trees and the bushes and would have to climb the last two miles, hoping to find some kind of plateau with a cave or something similar where he would be safe enough from attacks of the predators that surely lived in these jungle-like forests.

Erik was glad that at least the temperature was bearable, he was sweating because of his pain and the long march through the wilderness, but it wasn't as hot and humid as he remembered it from his first off-world mission when he had visited a planet that consisted more or less of nothing but humid and hot jungles and even hotter deserts.

The air was fresh and not too thick or thin, and the radiation was low according to what he could read on his scanner, so he could live here for a while if necessary, hoping that Atlantis would send out a search party for an unimportant and greenish young captain who had damaged one of their planes on its maiden flight.

Erik walked along the mountain for a while, finally turning round a large rock to find the best place where he could start his climbing, coming to an abrupt halt when his eyes fell upon the wake of devastation in front of him. Something had cut the trees and the bushes with violent force when it had gone down just like Erik's fighter had done it a couple of hours ago, forming a large clearing in the middle of the forest.

That said something was still lying at the end of the long gash in the trees like a huge whale or fish that had stranded on the cost, and Erik didn't have any trouble recognizing what it was because he had seen these planes on pictures and on the piers of Atlantis often enough to feel an icy-cold shiver wrecking him at the sight.

The 'stranded fish' in front of him was a Dart – a real Wraith Dart – and the young captain with the hazel-green eyes was damn sure that it wasn't one of those Darts belonging to the Second Alliance because none of them had been missing when he had left the City of the Ancients early in the morning. Colonel Sheppard would have delayed Erik's flight with one of their new spaceships if there had been an incident with one of their allied Wraith, he was sure of that.

This Dart must have crashed a few days or weeks before his own landing judging by its state and the damage it had caused. The marks it had left on the grass-covered ground and on the trunks and branches of the trees were still rather fresh, and the Dart wasn't overgrown with vegetation, the dark organic surface still shimmering and unscathed by the sun, wind and rain, so it couldn't have been lying here for very long.

Erik swallowed, his hand clenching around the knife he'd used to cut the twigs in his way during his long march as he now scanned the landscape with narrowed eyes, his heart hammering hard and fast in his chest with a sudden bout of mortal fear.

There was an unknown and most-likely hostile Wraith hidden somewhere on this planet, and they were almost certainly already waiting for him to run into them so they could feed on him.

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The one waiting had been able to feel the presence of the human clearly for quite some time, almost tasting their tantalizing scent on their tongue. Patience was something that normally came naturally to the waiter's race, but it was a virtue hard to keep when stranded on a deserted planet without any chance to escape, and the creature hiding in the shadows of the tall trees found itself counting down the seconds, holding its breath when the sounds of light footsteps made their way to its sensitive ears.

The human was really good at approaching the plateau quietly and without giving their arrival away too soon – at least they would have been good at that if the secret watcher had been human too. But this was not the case, and the slim figure pressing itself against one of the thick trunks bared its teeth in an inaudible hiss of anticipation, flinching slightly when its claws dug painfully into the vulnerable flesh of its palms, hungry eyes glittering through the dark green of the leaves to search for the human who must reach the plateau any second now.

The waiting being paid deference to them for their careful and cautious approach despite having already sensed their arrival for more than an hour, not making the mistake of underestimating the newcomer just because they were human. He or she must possess certain skills and abilities to be the pilot of such a spaceship, having survived the crash landing more or less unharmed and marching the long distance in such a short amount of time after the crash.

Curiosity was the strongest emotion the hidden creature felt, the wish to get to know this human better before doing what it would have to do sooner or later. The hidden watcher almost regretted that their acquaintance would have to come to an end at some point, the thought of being alone and without the company of another intelligent being pulling another quiet hiss of disappointment from the tall being.

A rather loud sound as the other one finally reached the large plateau pulled the secret watcher out of their thoughts, and a strangled sound fled pale lips when the human looked around for a few seconds before directing his gaze at their hiding place as if he could see right through them.

It was a young man – an admittedly beautiful young man with shimmering light-brown hair, sparkling hazel-green eyes and delicate and handsome male features. He was tall and of slender shape, his uniform dusty and stained from his march through the wilderness, but still relatively undamaged, the olive-green the perfect color to melt into his surroundings. His scent was even more tempting and delicious so close by, and the creature unconsciously licked its lips, even though it felt a strange unwillingness to harm this beautiful human.

The young man let his eyes wander over the bushes and trees, and the secret watcher let out a startled growl when the human suddenly opened his mouth and started to speak, his eyes fixed on the tree where they were hiding.

“I know that you are here and watching me, Wraith! I have seen your Dart at the base of the mountain and I can feel you watching me. I most certainly won't stand a real chance against you, but I'd prefer to die after a fair fight instead of being attacked from an ambush, so please come out and let me take a look at you before you kill me.”

The Wraith hissed at the brave words of the remarkable human, and he obeyed the young man's order and left his cover to step onto the plateau before he even knew what he was doing, stopping at the other side of the open space and staring at his opponent with astonishment and fascination.

 

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Erik had recovered from the shock of his unexpected revelation surprisingly quickly, torn between his understandable fear of finding himself on a planet with a probably hungry Wraith and his relief that he wasn't the only intelligent being in the thick forests of this world.

He had stood before the Dart for a few more minutes before deciding to continue on his way and search for the waterfall he could still hear. Dying of thirst was not the better option he thought, and maybe he could do the same as Colonel Sheppard had done when he had first met High Commander Todd, offering a temporary alliance that would help both of them to leave this planet again.

The path was steep and dangerous, but Erik had been born in a region with mountains and he had spent a large amount of his youth with climbing the rocks of his beautiful home. It didn't take long until he could see a large plateau three hundred meters above him, and half an hour later, he had solid ground under his feet again, stopping at the edge of the plateau to observe the trees and bushes at the other side of it.

He could feel invisible eyes upon him, sizing him up, and his throat clenched with fear, but he suppressed it, thinking that taking matters in his own hands was better than waiting for the Wraith to make the first move and ambush him.

“I know that you are here and watching me, Wraith! I have seen your Dart at the base of the mountain and I can feel you watching me. I most certainly won't stand a real chance against you, but I'd prefer to die after a fair fight instead of being attacked from an ambush, so please come out and let me take a look at you before you kill me.”

His words sounded through the air before Erik even knew what he was doing, and he held his breath as he waited for his adversary to react to his challenge, hoping that his tough speech wasn't the last words he'd uttered in his life.

The leaves made rustling sounds when the Wraith slowly emerged from behind the tree trunk where they had been hiding, and Erik felt a strange shiver run down on his back, a mixture of fear, relief and anticipation wrecking his slim figure.

Captain Drum had encountered many Wraith during his first weeks in Atlantis, but none of them had been like the Wraith that now stood in front of him, only ten or fifteen meters away, staring at him in silence with glittering eyes.

It must be a male Wraith – Erik had met Lady Athena only one time and only briefly, but it was clear that this Wraith wasn't a Queen or another female Wraith, even though he looked differently from any other male Wraith Erik had seen before.

The Wraith was as tall as Erik was, slim and gracious like all Wraith the young captain had seen before, but there was a strange aura surrounding him, and Erik couldn't help but think that he must be a young Wraith. He wore a heavy and long coat like Erik knew from most of the higher ranking officers from the Alliance, but it didn't really fit him, hanging like a sack around his slim frame.

But the too large coat wasn't what made the Wraith look different from the Wraith Erik had encountered so far, it was his hair and his face. The young captain had learned that male Wraith always had white hair while the queens often had dark or red hair, but the hair-color of this Wraith was more silver-blond than actually white, cascading over his shoulders down to his shoulder-blades in soft waves that shimmered almost red-golden where the sun fell upon the silky strands. The face of the Wraith exhibited the usual distinguishing features like the sensor-slits beside the delicate nose and the hairless eye-ridges instead of furry brows, but his skin was not of the greenish-gray color of most Wraith, but pale-white with a bluish undertone, resembling human skin much more than Erik had expected Wraith-skin to look like.

He was a truly beautiful sight, but what Erik fascinated the most were his eyes. The pupils were only slightly reptile- or cat-like - depending on how one looked at Wraith – and their color was of a warm amber-gold, looking much more human than Erik had thought it possible.

These eyes regarded Erik with the same fascination and curiosity Erik felt towards the Wraith, and the young captain cautiously stepped closer, opening his arms to show the other male that he didn't want to attack him. He still held his knife in his hand, but he pushed it back into its sheath now, hoping that he hadn't just made the biggest mistake of his life. Erik hadn't thought that he would need a machine gun on his maiden flight, and anyway the small revolver he had taken with him wouldn't stop a Wraith from attacking and draining him, as far as he knew from the stories he had heard.

“You're either pretty dense or foolhardy approaching me without a proper weapon, human,” the Wraith broke the silence between them when he saw Erik putting the knife away, and his voice was higher in pitch than Erik had expected it to be, but possessed the unique multi-tone layers of a real Wraith.

“Probably,” Erik agreed, his eyes fixed on the strange and yet fascinating features of his new acquaintance. “But my knife wouldn't keep you from trying to feed on me anyway, I guess, and I have no reason to attack you. Quite the opposite, I'm glad that I'm not the only one stuck on this planet.”

“You are?” the Wraith asked, obviously taken aback by the human's fearless behavior. Erik's heart was still hammering in his chest, and he was sweating, the acid stench of his fear must be clearly detectable considering how sensitive the sense of smell of every adult Wraith was, but Erik was determined to keep his dignity and not beg for his life.

“Yes, I am. My plane crashed on this planet just like yours did, but I am positive that I can make the hyper radio device work again, and four hands and two pairs of eyes are always better than two hands and one pair. I don't plan to stay here for longer than necessary, and I do believe that you would be grateful to leave this world and return to your Hive again as well.”

This made the Wraith flinch and turn his head to the side as though Erik had said something that had hurt him. Erik swallowed, hoping that he hadn't offended his counterpart in any way. He didn't know enough about Wraith culture to avoid committing a blunder, and the sad expression flickering over the delicate features of the other male made him wish to learn more about the young Wraith.

“I don't have a Hive I can return to,” the Wraith murmured after a long moment of silence, and Erik felt sympathy with him. Wraith were not meant to be alone and without company, and the few days or weeks this Wraith had spent here in this world without any other intelligent being he could talk to must have been pretty hard for him.

“Has your Hive been destroyed?” he dared to ask, but the other one shook his head. “No. I just haven't had a Hive I belonged to for a very long time.” He looked back at Erik, putting on a menacing expression, but to Erik it looked more like the desperate attempt of the Wraith to hide his sorrow and his loneliness with that.

“My wish to leave this planet might not be as strong as yours actually is, human. You can't run away from me here, I will always catch you in the end, being stronger and faster, and you're young and healthy, your life-force will provide me with enough energy for a long time!” the Wraith threatened, and Erik instinctively stepped back.

“I could be poison to you. You can't know whether or not I'm a carrier of the Hoffanian disease,” he said the first thing that came into his mind as he searched for a way to keep the alien male from trying to feed on him, making the Wraith tilt his head in curiosity.

“What makes you think that this would keep me from feeding on you, human?”

Erik blinked. “You would feed on me even knowing that it will kill you because of the Hoffanian disease?”

The Wraith regarded him thoughtfully. “It wouldn't kill me. I'm immune against it,” he finally revealed, and Erik made another step back. He hadn't expected this, and he felt his stomach clench with a new bout of fear. “It wouldn't?”

Erik had lived only a few weeks in Atlantis before he had crashed on this planet, but he knew enough about the short history of the Second Alliance to be aware of the serious problem this horrible disease had caused. The young captain had never heard of any Wraith who was immune against the disease, and the Wraith of the Second Alliance were very careful when they had to feed, their research to find a solution for the feeding problem having priority over anything else.

“No. Besides, you're not a carrier of this disease. You're one of the New Lanteans, you're wearing the same uniform as they do, and none of them has ever been infected with the disease as far as I know. Plus, only they have such spaceships like the one you have crashed here, so you can't be born in the Pegasus Galaxy, being a Genii or a Traveler.”

“You know Atlantis and the New Lanteans pretty well then?” Erik wondered, not willing to comment on the other one's assumption and confirm or deny it with that, and the Wraith looked away again. “I've never met them personally, but I've once known someone who knew them better than anybody else in this galaxy.”

Erik was really confused now. “And who would that have been?”

The Wraith pulled a face as if the memory of this someone pained him, and Erik's eyes widened in shock when he heard the name coming out of the other one's mouth.

“Michael. Michael Kenmore – the Wraith your people turned into a human at first and then into their biggest enemy.”

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The Wraith watched the hazel-green eyes of the human widen in surprise and shock, and he felt drawn in to those eyes against his will. They reminded him of the beautiful lake he had discovered when he had found the plateau and the waterfall nearby, deep and endless, the green of his hazel-brown eyes becoming darker and more visible because of the young man's surprise.

“I see,” the human stammered when he had recovered from his shock, clearing his throat from both discomfort and curiosity. It was more than apparent that he knew who Michael Kenmore was – who he had been, the name Colonel Sheppard had given the Wraith he had condemned to live the life of an outlaw with his experiment being the best known and most hated name in the entire galaxy. “So... Michael... and you served on the same Hive and for the same queen before he was... uhm trapped?” he mumbled, and the Wraith unconsciously balled his clawed hands to tight fists, suppressing a groan of pain when his sharp nails dug into his palms. Some memories were still too painful to remember them, even though they were memories of events that had taken place years ago.

“No, we did not.” The Wraith felt anger rising in his guts at the New Lantean's tactless question, but it subsided again when he realized that the ignorance of the young pilot wasn't faked but real. He knew the name Michael and had certainly heard the stories the New Lanteans had told him, but he seemed to be rather ignorant when it came to what the Wraith-human-hybrid had done after his flight from Atlantis, this was clear to see in his face. The human probably couldn't even hide his true feelings and his intentions even if he wanted to, he was far too expressive to deceive others that easily, and he was definitely too expressive and inexperienced to deceive a Wraith who saw and noticed much more than humans with their dull senses would ever be able to do.

“I see,” the young man repeated, although it was pretty clear that he didn't understand anything, his gaze searching the Wraith's face for answers he couldn't give him. Not that he would have wanted to give him those answers, at least not at this early stage of their acquaintance.

“It's complicated.” He only said defensively, and the human offered him a smile of apology and regret. “I can imagine. I'm sorry, I didn't want to be nosy. I am Captain Erik Drum, and I have joined the Atlantis expedition only recently,” the young man introduced himself, biting down on his full bottom lip as though he had revealed an important secret. The Wraith had already figured that the handsome pilot must be new in the Pegasus Galaxy, and he found himself smiling back automatically.

Most humans took the smile of a Wraith for a grimace of threat and danger, but Captain Drum relaxed visibly when he saw it, so he must have seen a Wraith smile beforehand, probably from dealing with Wraith who belonged to the Hives of the Wraith Todd on a more regular basis.

The Wraith regretted that he didn't know more about the things that had happened in his galaxy over the last three years than he actually did, but judging by Captain Drum's words, this Todd must have formed a real and rather well functioning alliance with Colonel Sheppard and Atlantis – something the military commander of the City of the Ancients had refused to do with Michael Kenmore for obvious reasons. Maybe accepting the young man's proposal to form an alliance of their own wasn't as bad as he had first thought it to be. He didn't want to stay on this planet forever, and he didn't need to feed for the next weeks and perhaps even months, and he really longed to have someone he could talk to.

The Wraith cocked his head to the side and looked at the human with the odd name Captain Erik Drum. He would never understand the human need for names, and having more than one name seemed even weirder to him. Names were a rather weak attempt to describe an intelligent being, and they were not only meaningless in most cases as far as he knew, but they could even be offensive and hurtful instead of honorable. 'Captain' was most likely the young man's military rank, because he had pronounced it with audible pride in his voice, unconsciously straightening his posture as he had uttered it. This was something the Wraith did understand, ranks had always been important to his species from the very beginning.

“So you want to propose an alliance with me, Captain Erik Drum?” he asked curiously after a few more seconds of silent scrutiny, and Captain Drum's cheeks colored in a visible pink that suited the young man surprisingly well. “Uhm, yes. And Erik will do fine, I guess. There is no need to use my full name and my military rank.” the human gave back, the pink color increasing, and the Wraith cocked his head to the other side, frowning in confusion because the human apparently didn't know what he really wanted. Why had he introduced himself as Captain Erik Drum if he wanted to be called by his first name only in the first place? Another human oddity he would never fully understand.

“It's not? I must admit that I find human habits rather confusing. Why wouldn't you want me to use your full name if you tell it to me? Names are important to you, aren't they? And so are your ranks, right?”

Captain Drum looked confused now too. “Yes, names are important to us, but you don't belong to my military, and in private – with our friends and families – we normally prefer to use the first names only. Sometimes people address each other with their surnames alone, Colonel Sheppard does that with some of his friends for example, but I've never liked that.”

“I see. We're neither friends, nor family, though, so why would I want to address you in this rather intimate way?” the Wraith pointed out, and Captain Drum worried his lip again. He had paled again, apparently because he took his remark as some kind of refusal or threat, and to his own surprise the Wraith regretted that he had made the young man feel this way, watching the green sparks in his beautiful eyes die out. The human swallowed audibly and shifted his weight, his back and shoulders tensing as he readied himself for a possible attack.

“No, we're not. But we're stuck here on this planet, all alone and needing to cooperate to get away from here again, so I thought that it would be better if we addressed each other with our names or if you addressed me with my name at least. You... you don't have a name, do you? I've heard that Wraith normally don't use names when they don't belong to the Second Alliance.”

The Wraith flinched at that, clenching and flexing his fingers to keep his emotions at bay. “No, I don't have a name.” At least no name he ever wanted to be addressed with.

“I see.” Captain Drum hesitated. “I'd still prefer that you called me Erik.”

“You're really serious about this... cooperation,” the Wraith stated in amazement, and the young man shrugged his shoulders. He looked tired and worn out now, and his hands hanging at his sides trembled slightly. His scent had changed as well, filling the Wraith's nose and sensor slits with the heavy and acid smell of fear, pain and tiredness. There was still the tempting and delicious natural fragrance of a healthy and strong young human detectable underneath, but Captain Drum really needed to rest and recover from the crash landing and the long march, not to mention that he looked dehydrated and hungry. The New Lantean rubbed his eyes in a tired gesture before looking at him again.

“I have no other choice after all, have I? I can't run away from you as you've said so rightly, and I need to sleep sooner rather than later – as opposed to you. I know that Wraith don't need as much sleep as we humans do, so you don't even need to fight against me, you just need to wait until I've fallen asleep to drain me dry. Not to mention that I wouldn't win such a fight in my current state anyway. I'm tired and hurting all over from my crash landing, I'm thirsty and I need to find something to eat within the next few hours if I don't want to become too weak to defend myself against you or the predators that must live in these forests, so the advantage is all on your side.
But my fighter seems to be less damaged than your Dart is, and together we could bring the hyper radio back to life and send a message to my people. I promise you that they won't trap you but bring you to a world of your choice if you let me live and help me, the humans and the Wraith of the Second Alliance stick to the promises one of them has given to somebody else, and no one will harm you when I tell them that you helped me.
And before you tell me that you can try to make the hyper radio device of my fighter work again on your own – you cannot because you need someone with the ATA-gene for making it work. Someone with the ATA-gene who is still alive, I mean. So you can either agree to a temporary alliance with me – a truce or whatever you want to call it - or you can finish me right here and now and wait for the next spaceship to discover this world – whenever this might be. All I'm asking of you then is that you'll make it quick and as painless as possible, please. You don't look like someone enjoying the suffering of another intelligent and sentient being to me.”

Captain Drum held his head up high, even though he must be aware that he could smell his fear with his sensitive sense of smell, and the human didn't avert his eyes but looked him straight in the eyes.

The Wraith felt impressed at the tough and reasonable behavior, and he finally opened his arms to mirror Captain Drum's gesture from half an hour earlier.

“You're right, human – Erik. Working together with you is the better option – at least for the time being - and I don't need to feed at the moment. I accept your proposal for a truce and a temporary alliance, but don't make the mistake of thinking that you can betray me. I won't hesitate to kill you if you so much as only think of trying to deceive me.”

“I won't, thank you... Wraith. I'd be grateful if you showed me the way to the waterfall that must be nearby. I really need to drink something sometime soon.”

The Wraith nodded slowly. “Yes, I can smell your thirst and your exhaustion, Erik. There is a lake where the waterfall is, and the water is drinkable. I've also found a cave where you'll be quite safe. There are indeed some predators in this region, but only a few and they are rather small. They live at the base of the mountains and have problems with climbing. I don't recommend you try and fight them without my help, they are still a lethal threat to humans, but none of them has been able to reach this plateau since I've been here.”

“That's good to know. You didn't happen to find some berries or plants that are edible too perhaps?” Erik asked hopefully, and the Wraith bared his teeth to a throaty chuckle at his hopeful expression. “Yes, I did. Welcome to your new home, Captain Erik Drum. I hope that you will find my hospitality to your liking,” he said in the attempt to make a joke, and the young man surprised him as he came closer and offered his hand to him with a genuine smile that lit up his beautiful features.

“Thank you, Wraith. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. It's good to know that I am not the only intelligent being on this planet. I'm not good at talking only to myself for long periods, and I really appreciate your company.”

The Wraith took the proffered hand and grinned wolfishly at him. “Let us hope that you will still feel the same way about my company in a couple of days, Erik.”

 

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The Wraith had taken him to the waterfall and the lake, and Erik would undoubtedly have appreciated the breathtakingly beautiful landscape if he hadn't been as exhausted and hurting as he actually was. The cave the alien male had found was about half a mile away from the lake, on another, smaller plateau, surrounded by bushes and trees that protected them at least partly from the harsh wind that had started to blow when the sun had begun to go down.

Erik was leaning against the hard stone of the cave wall near the entrance where his new ally had made a campfire, watching the flickering light of the flames throw odd shadows against the walls. He was nibbling at some of the delicious, juicy berries the Wraith had collected for him while Erik had rested a little bit, and the young captain was astonished when he saw the other one taking some berries to chew them as well.

“You eat normal food?” he asked, and the Wraith gave him a strange look. “Wraith eat normal food until they reach their adolescence,” he finally said, and Erik nodded. “Yes, I knew that. But most of them stop doing that when they start to feed. I have seen those Wraith who have human consorts eat food to make their consorts feel more comfortable, and I know that some of them enjoy the taste, but I didn't think that Wraith outside our alliance would show such behavior.”

The Wraith looked down at his hand holding the berries. “Do you mind me eating food? There is enough for both of us.”

“No, I don't mind you eating together with me, on the contrary, I appreciate it. I was just surprised.” Erik couldn't see the other one's face because the Wraith had turned his head away, but he did notice the tension in his shoulders. The other male was hiding something from him, something he apparently felt embarrassed and ashamed about. Erik hadn't meant anything bad with his question, and he hurried to apologize to his reluctant ally. “I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to offend you. I arrived in Pegasus only a few weeks ago, this is still all new to me,” he said with a cautious smile, and his counterpart sighed and stared outside, watching the flickering flames, but Erik had the impression that he didn't see the fire but some memories haunting him.

“I'll have to feed in the end, but food helps me to prolong the time span until I have to do it again. I'm not... what you would call the usual Wraith, I guess.” he eventually said, his voice so quiet that Erik found it difficult to understand him. The young captain had already guessed from his unusual looks that this Wraith was different from the Wraith he knew, but he sensed that this was a painful topic for the other male and that asking nosy questions right on their first evening spent together would make the other one become angry with him and endanger their fragile truce.

“I have noticed that you look not like the Wraith I've seen before, but they haven't been that many, so I don't know enough about your race to tell whether or not you are different. Not that it really matters to me. You are who you are, and you don't have to tell me anything about you that you don't want to tell me. I'm grateful that I don't need to eat alone and that food helps you to go without feeding for a while, but I respect your privacy and won't bother you with questions, I promise you. Only those I have to ask to make our cooperation work,” he assured him gently, shivering when a sudden gust of wind blew through the cave. He wished for a blanket, but there hadn't been any in the small storage of his Dart Fighter, and Erik wrapped his arms around himself in the fruitless attempt to stay warm.

The Wraith narrowed his eyes when he noticed the shivers wrecking Erik from the corner of his glittering amber-golden eye. “You're freezing, Erik.” He shrugged out of his coat, crawling into the cave to kneel down beside Erik to wrap it around his shoulders. “Please take it, I don't need it as much as you do. Wraith can deal with the cold better than humans.”

“Are you sure? This is your coat, after all.” Erik asked through his clattering teeth, and the Wraith smiled at him. It was a real smile, a little bit lopsided, and it made warmth pool in Erik's stomach.

“Yes, I am sure, Erik. You should try to sleep, I'll watch the fire. I can take some naps during the day when you're awake. Tomorrow I will make a mattress for you from the twigs and the long leaves of the bushes. It will warm you from underneath and be more comfortable for you. You can use my coat as a cover, it should warm you even better than a normal blanket.”

Erik wrapped the coat tightly around himself, grateful when the heavy garment warmed up from his body heat, easing the chills wrecking him almost instantly. “Thank you. I wish you a good night.”

The Wraith regarded him musingly for a moment. “You're welcome, Erik. Sleep well. You'll still be alive when you wake up tomorrow, I promise you.”

Erik rewarded this dry statement with a grin. “It might be foolish of me, but I do trust you in this matter. I actually feel safer than I would most likely have felt alone and without you watching over the fire and my sleep. I know that I don't really have a choice, but that's not the only reason for my trust. You... just look like one of the nice Wraith to me.”

The amber-golden eyes widened at that. “You meant that as a compliment, I guess.”

“Yes, I did.” Erik covered his mouth with his hand when a heartfelt yawn wrecked him, and the Wraith chuckled. “Thank you then, Erik. Now sleep, you reek of exhaustion.”

“That was not really a compliment, you know!” Erik tried to scowl at the Wraith, earning another chuckle, because his eyelids were already drooping shut of their own will. “No, it was not. It was the simple truth. I'm certain that you will smell much better when you have slept properly, human.”

“Good night then, Wraith!”

Chapter Text

Erik woke up with a start, and he was wide awake in a split second when he saw the face of a Wraith looming over him at close distance. He made an instinctive defensive motion with his hands, and the Wraith let out a snarl and backed away, watching him with eyes that glowed dangerously in the gloom that surrounded them.

It took Erik a few more seconds to remember his crash landing and everything that had happened afterwards, and he groaned and sat up with an apologetic gesture. “I'm sorry, but you must have woken me up from a very deep sleep. Humans need some time to remember what's happened when woken like that after having been sound asleep only seconds before,” he said, his voice still slurred and hoarse.

The Wraith offered him the bottle Erik had filled with fresh water from the lake the previous day, and Erik took it gratefully and emptied it in several large gulps.

“I am sorry that I had to wake you, Erik, but a storm is coming, and I need you to help me collect enough wood and food. There was a storm shortly after my arrival, and it lasted two days. If this one is as bad as that one was, then we won't be able to leave the cave until it's over.”

Erik peeled himself out of the heavy coat to crawl to the entrance of the cave and take a look outside. He had thought that it was still early in the morning, but he could now see the heavy dark-gray clouds rolling towards the mountains, and he didn't waste any time with questions he could ask later, only nodded and said: “Of course, just tell me what you want me to do.”

“I'd started to collect twigs and leaves for your mattress while you were still sleeping, and I will be the one refilling our water and food supplies because I am faster than you, Erik. Just collect as much firewood as possible before it starts to rain and look for more berries, please. I know a place with some vegetables and mushrooms that are edible for both of us.”

Erik nodded again and left the cave to do as he had been told without saying another word, and the Wraith made a sound of approval and disappeared in the direction of the lake with Erik's canister and his own hose pipe. Wraith needed to drink water only every few days, and Erik had been surprised about that at first, but it made sense that Wraith needed to drink on a fairly regular basis even though they fed on human life-force instead of eating food. They had a circulatory system like every living being, and it was logical that they needed liquid to avoid their blood thickening too much.

The Wraith who ate food for the sake of their human allies needed much more water than those who refused to eat, but if it was true that Erik's special Wraith could prolong the time span between his feeding with food, than it was also logical that he needed to almost as much to drink as Erik.

The young captain flushed when he realized that he'd already started to think of his new acquaintance as his Wraith, but he couldn't help but feel intrigued and drawn to the fascinating alien male. It was more than bad timing that the storm would hit them within the next two or three hours, because Erik really wanted to go back to his fighter and repair the hyper radio device, but on the other hand the storm would perhaps give him the chance to get to know his new ally better.

Erik had never been a pessimistic kind of guy, he'd always tried to make the best out of whatever situation he found himself in, and he wouldn't start to change his positive view on things now of all times.

He piled the firewood in the corner of the large cave, where a large protrusion would protect it from the rain that would start to pour down soon enough if the harsh wind and the dark clouds over the plateau were any indication to go by.

His Wraith had left the coat in the cave, when he had run off in the direction of the lake, and Erik put the coat in the same corner as the firewood since it was their only protection and cover during the nights. Then he went outside again to relieve himself before plucking more berries from the bush the Wraith had shown him when they'd arrived here last evening.

He resisted the temptation to eat them right where he stood, using his jacket to carry them back to the cave. After the fourth trip, the pile of berries on the natural bench formed by one of the cave walls had become impressively high, and Erik decided that they should last for two or three days.

Rain had started to fall in heavy drops a few minutes ago, and the young captain with the hazel-green eyes felt his stomach clench with fear that his Wraith wouldn't make it back in time, but just when he was about to leave the cave and search for him, his new ally emerged from the tree line, running towards the entrance of the cave, shaking off the wetness with triumphant growl when he saw the firewood Erik had collected.

“I'm pleased to see that you haven't been idle and lazy, human,” he stated, putting the canister and the water hose on the bench next to the berries before doing the same with the two bags he carried over his shoulders. His black shirt clung wet to his slim frame, and Erik hurried to avert his eyes when he realized that he was staring at the Wraith's chest. Tight black trousers completed the other male's outfit, and Erik thought that he looked much better without the heavy coat.

“It's not my style to sit around and let others do all the work. I would feel useless, and I really want us to cooperate and work together,” Erik said to distract himself from his inappropriate thoughts. The young pilot was aware that the friends and family he'd left on Earth when he'd come to Pegasus wouldn't understand him if he told them that he found the Wraith beautiful and attractive, but he had always been curious and longed to see more of the universe and the many different races that lived there.

“I appreciate that, Erik.” the Wraith turned his head to look at him, and Erik smiled, sitting down to take a look into the bags. “Oh wow, I didn't think that you would find that much food,” he said, trying to recognize the vegetables his companion had collected. “I think I know these.” Erik pointed at the vegetables that looked like beans, “they are nourishing and delicious. I've eaten them once or twice in Atlantis.”

The Wraith looked surprised. “You are very attentive, Erik. I'd heard that a lot of humans don't really pay attention to what they eat, but apparently you are not one of them.”

“No, I'm not. I'm very careful with what I eat. Even more when I'm stuck on a new planet without knowing anything about the flora and fauna. I have a scanner to test plants and berries for their edibility, but I must admit that I trust you more than the scanner in this matter. You don't have any reason to want to poison me with some plants.”

This earned him one of the Wraith's unique lopsided smiles, and Erik's heart started to beat faster at the sight of his Wraith smiling at him like that. “Thank you, and you're right, I don't want to poison you. I'm sorry that I didn't have enough time to go hunting for you to provide you with meat, but the storm was too fast.”

Erik hadn't paid attention to the weather after the Wraith's return, but he flinched when a loud peal of thunder echoed in the cave, followed quickly by more lightnings and rolling thunder. The rain was like a wall before the entrance, running over the plateau in powerful creeks. Fortunately the plateau inclined slightly in the other direction, otherwise the floor of the cave would already have been flooded with water.

Erik unconsciously ducked his head when the next clap of thunder roared, shivering in the cold air. “That's kind of you, but you don't need to go hunting for me. I could do that myself – probably not as well as you – but I actually don't eat meat if I don't have to.”

“You don't like meat? But you're military, Earth military above all things!” the Wraith exclaimed as though this explained everything, and Erik glanced at him with a raised eyebrow. “What has me being military – Earth military - to do with my eating preferences?” he asked curiously, and the Wraith frowned in confusion. “I don't know... I just thought that all soldiers coming from Earth are the same, I guess. Judging from what Michael had told me about Colonel Sheppard and Earth military I thought that they all have the same way of life, that they...” the other male shrugged his shoulders in an astonishingly human way, searching carefully for his next words. “Soldiers need to be strong, don't they? Especially here in Pegasus having to fight against us Wraith, and meat is a valuable source for protein – which is good for the muscles.”

His Wraith looked so young and uncertain in this moment that Erik couldn't really be angry with him because of his assumption. Somehow it was even comforting to know that Wraith tended to have prejudices and generalize things just like humans did far too often. Erik always did his best not to draw false conclusions too quickly, but he had made such mistakes more than once or twice as well.

The young pilot was more curious about the connection between his Wraith and the hybrid Michael Kenmore than annoyed by what he'd said, but Erik didn't dare to ask him about his relationship with Michael at this point and mused about a good explanation for his 'unusual' eating preferences instead. “Hmm, you're right with the protein, but there are other things I can eat to get enough protein and the nutrients I need to stay healthy. I can eat meat when I have to do that, when I'm on an off-world mission for example and when I would risk offending my host and endangering the mission if I refused to eat what they are offering me. But I prefer not to touch meat if I don't have to. The vegetables you've collected are a good source of protein by the way, and they are really delicious when they're fried or cooked,” Erik explained, and his Wraith looked almost happy at his words.

“These should last until the storm is over, there are more where I found them. Please take the coat, Erik. It will take some time for the fire to warm up our cave, and we have to be careful with having a fire in the cave for too long because of the poisonous gas. I'll start to work on your mattress after breakfast,” the other male said, and Erik took the coat and put it on, feeling cozy and comforted when he inhaled the unique scent of his Wraith the heavy garment emanated.

“I want to help you,” he said, and the Wraith smiled at him. “You can cook the vegetables once I've made the fire.”

Erik watched him pile up some of the firewood as close to the entrance of the cave as possible because of the rain and the wind, and it didn't take long until tiny red flames were licking eagerly at the branches and twigs, blazing higher and higher with every second that passed. Erik took two long twigs to skewer the bean-like tubers, his mouth watering when the tempting smell of roasted vegetables wafted through the cave.

Maybe being stuck with a Wraith wasn't as bad as he had feared it would be at first, and Erik was determined to make the best out of his enforced vacation and learn more about the most fascinating being he had ever met.

 

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They had eaten their grilled 'beans' in companionable silence and were now working on making a mattress out of the flexible twigs and palm branch-like leaves his Wraith had brought to their cave early that morning. Erik had put up a lot of camps in his life, but he was much slower and clumsier than the other male, who didn't stub or cut his fingers on the twigs because of his Wraith skin. The Wraith looked up when Erik cut his index finger for the fifth time within half an hour, uttering a quiet curse under his breath and sucking at the small bleeding wound.

“You really don't have to help me, Erik. I can do it alone,” he said, and Erik felt the childish urge to stomp his foot in frustration like a little boy. “But I don't want to be useless! I want to do something! It's bad enough that this storm is trapping me in this cave. I'd hoped that I could fix the damage the crash has done to the hyper radio device today. I don't even know in which region of the Pegasus this damn anomaly has brought me!” he whined, scowling at the Wraith when he barked out a laugh.

“Humans are so impatient! Instead of being grateful that you're dry and safe here, you're complaining about things you can't change anyway. The storm isn't as bad as the last one, I think that it will be gone by tomorrow evening at the latest. Then we only need to wait until the sun has dried the worst of the mess before we can go to your ship, which won't take that long considering how fast the ground dried after the last storm.”

“If you say so,” was all Erik grumbled, staring unseeing on the long palm leaf the Wraith was weaving through the twigs he had tied together with astonishing skill.

“Yes, I do. Your anomaly must have been the same as the one that hit me, I guess. We're far away from Atlantis – at least if Atlantis is still in the same part of the galaxy where she was when Michael was still alive.” Erik could feel the amber-golden eyes upon his face, but he refused to look up, just nodded his head.

“Yes, she is. Not on the same planet, but rather close by.”

“I see. Your people will need some time to get here then, but the good thing is that there are only few habitable planets in this region and that we don't have to fear that hostile Wraith will show up because of that. Did you encounter a large blue star during your flight?”

Erik raised his head in surprise. “Yes, I did. I'd actually thought that my distance from the star was far enough not to get into trouble, but there was a large solar flare all of a sudden, larger than any other solar prominence I've ever seen, and it caused the anomaly that swallowed me and brought me here. If my ship had been bigger, than I could have escaped it, I guess.”

The Wraith nodded. “Yes, it was the same with my ship. We were both lucky that this planet was close by when we dropped out of the hyper space again, and I could read the data of my navigation system before I crashed, so I know where we are – which might be helpful for your people to find us in time,” he said in a calm and reassuring voice, obviously trying to console the frustrated human.

Erik had a bad conscience about his behavior, and he smiled ruefully at his ally. “That is indeed good news. Sorry for having been such a prick. I'm just not really good at sitting around doing nothing and watching others work.”

“You don't need to be sorry, Erik, I understand you better than you think that I do. You could tell me something about you if you want to. I'm starting to think that Michael Kenmore's 'knowledge' about the New Lanteans was pretty biased.”

Erik pursed his lips. “Yes, it was. But that's understandable given the circumstances.” The young captain was grateful for the Wraith's curiosity, if he was willing to tell his Wraith more about himself, then he would perhaps be willing to tell Erik more about his own life and his connection with Michael as well. Erik straightened his shoulders under the heavy coat and smiled at the other one.

“Alright, what do you want to know?”

The Wraith cocked his head to the side, returning his smile. “Everything you are willing to share with me, Captain Erik Drum. I'm pretty sure that you have a lot of interesting things to tell.”

Chapter Text

The Wraith had to admit that this human fascinated him more than anybody else had ever fascinated him before.

Captain Erik Drum was young and didn't really know anything about his new home and the dangerous race that lived there – nothing except for the few things he had seen and heard since his arrival a couple of weeks ago, that is. But Erik didn't look at him with mistrust, disgust or arrogance like Michael had told him that the New Lanteans felt towards the Wraith and especially the creature they had brought to life themselves when they'd captured a young Wraith to turn him into a human.

Erik had made himself comfortable on the hard ground of the cave after his short breakdown – accepting that he couldn't be of any help at the moment. Instead of pouting and grousing or whining about his temporary uselessness and forced stay in the cave he had begun to tell some stories of his childhood, laughing together with his new ally about the funny parts.

The Wraith caught himself staring at Erik's face with something akin to rapt admiration whenever the young man snickered, wishing to see him laughing again because Erik's eyes sparkled golden and his cheeks turned pink whenever he did so. They had extinguished the fire earlier to save the firewood for later when it would get colder, and the cave was gloomy because of the storm and their sitting place near the back of the cave, but Wraith had very good night vision, and he could detect the human's face and the change of his skin-color without any difficulties.

It was a wonderful sight, and the Wraith could hardly believe that this was truly happening – a human sitting close to him and looking at him with sparks of mischief dancing in his eyes instead of the fierce yellow fire of hate and loathing.

“I don't think that you have ever been as clumsy as you want me to believe that you were when you were a small boy, human,” he said after listening to a particularly funny story about Erik's encounter with a goat in what the young man called a petting zoo. The Wraith had never seen a goat in his life, but he could easily imagine this special animal from Erik's description, and his heart made a strange flip in his chest when the beautiful hazel-green depths crinkled into another cheerful snicker.

“Oh, I was, believe me. The billy goat was truly angry because I had teased him like that, running after me and tearing my jeans with his horns. He ripped it open right over my backside, and all the other kids laughed when they saw my yellow underwear shining through the hole. I walked around with my hands pressed against my butt for the rest of the day.” Erik grinned at the Wraith, sitting beside him, leaning against the wall with his knees pulled to his chest and his arms wrapped around them, and his heart flipped again, hammering much faster in his chest than he was used to it.

The human's still youthfully rounded cheeks were glowing in this adorable pink color again, and he turned bright red when the Wraith said nothing, just kept staring at Erik intently.

“Why are you looking at me like this?” Erik asked curiously, and the Wraith licked over his suddenly dry lips. “Your skin changes its color with your feelings. Normally, it's rather pale, but right now it's rosy. The color suits you, I like it much better than the usual white.”

“Uhm, thank you,” Erik mumbled sheepishly, his cheeks glowing deep red now. The Wraith mirrored the human's giggle, hoping that it expressed his own feelings and didn't make the young man think that he was mocking him. “I will do my best to make your cheeks shine rosy more often in the future. Your eyes sparkle green-golden when you're enjoying yourself.”

“You shouldn't even be able to see my face properly as dark as it is here!” Erik groaned in a strangled voice, his face literally burning now, and he scowled at him, but the Wraith could see that his human wasn't really angry with him, only deeply embarrassed. “I meant that as a compliment, Erik. Plus, you should know enough about Wraith to remember that our vision is much more sensitive than yours. Our Hives are not gloomy because we love spooky surroundings so much,” he hurried to assure the young man, and Erik relaxed and gifted him with a crooked smile. “Yes, I know. I'm just not used to getting compliments about my blushing. I really hate it that this happens to me all of the time.”

“There is no need to feel this way about yourself. I like your blushing and the faces you're making when you're telling stories about your childhood very much. It makes you special. I have never met anyone like you before, I think. Are all humans as expressive as you are, Erik?” the Wraith inquired, suppressing the strong urge to touch his face and find out whether or not Erik's skin was as soft as it looked like.

The young man shook his head. “No, a lot of people I know never blush, at least not as often as I'm blushing. This is something my former commander has always chided me for, telling me that I should keep my feelings to myself instead of letting them show on my face so clearly. I tried to do that, I'm actually still trying hard to keep my face as expressionless as would be appropriate for a captain of the USAF, but I always fail miserably.”

“I'm glad that you fail then. I like your expressiveness. It helps me to get to know and understand you better, Erik.”

His human smiled at him, and the Wraith smiled back, his heart still beating fast as if he had just finished a straining exercise. Erik was not like any other human or Wraith he had ever known, and he was surely not the least like Michael Kenmore. A cold shiver ran down on his spine at the memory of the Wraith-hybrid, and he bent over his task to hide his feelings from the young man, fearing that Erik would think that he had said or done something that displeased his dangerous ally.

The captain with the fascinating hazel-green eyes obviously sensed his mood change, because he didn't start another story, just watched him weaving the palm leaves through the twigs, but whenever he raised his head to peer at Erik, his human would return his gaze without fear and smile at him, the golden sparks in his eyes chasing the darkness and the sudden chill in his bones away.

 

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The day was going by quickly, much quicker than Erik had anticipated. The mattress was finished by the time the sun behind the thick clouds disappeared behind the dark horizon and the light turned from dark-gray to pitch black, only illuminated by the lightning that was still visible in the distance. The center of the storm was raging several miles away now, in the direction where his Dart Fighter had crashed, and Erik hoped that the shield that made it invisible would also protect it from the worst of the bad weather and avoid doing more damage than the crash had already caused.

It was still raining though, the water pouring down on the plateau making it hardly possible to leave the cave, even when Erik needed to relieve himself. Wraith obviously didn't need to do that as often as humans, and Erik held back as long as he was able to, using the heavy black coat as protection against the rain in the hope that the heat of the fire would have dried the leather-like garment when it was time for sleeping.

He had told his Wraith more stories to distract the other male from the strange mood that had fallen upon him after their talk about Erik's annoying habit of blushing at each and everything, stories of his childhood home in the Pfälzer Forest before his parents had moved back to the States when he had been seventeen.

Stories about his time in the USAF followed – those Erik thought to be harmless and safe enough to tell to a Wraith he'd only known for one day and who could turn into an enemy again in the blink of an eye. He had told him about his dreams to become a fighter pilot and join the Atlantis mission, and the Wraith listened to him with glittering amber-golden eyes – which looked much more human-like than Wraith-like in the flickering light of the fire.

They nibbled at their roasted vegetables, looking at each other over the fire, and the Wraith tilted his head in his unique way, like he always did when he felt curious and intrigued, regarding Erik thoughtfully. “Are you homesick, Erik? You are very far away indeed from your home.”

Erik shrugged his shoulders. “Sometimes. But only when I have too much time to think about it. I miss my family and my friends of course, but Pegasus and Atlantis feel like home now too. I wanted to come here more than anything ever since I'd learned about the City of the Ancients. It was as if she was calling out for me. Maybe it's the ATA-gene, I don't know, but I've never felt like a stranger who doesn't belong here since my arrival, and I haven't had any real problems with adjusting to my new surroundings. I'm making mistakes and committing blunders all of the time because the senior people on Earth couldn't tell me the really important things about the Second Alliance and the Wraith, but they were all really nice to me, and I felt welcome and not at all like an outsider right from the beginning. A few people were reserved at first, but that happens on Earth as well all the time. The city is so beautiful, and I love being there. Even now – stuck on a planet with you I don't feel as homesick as I feared that I would do.”

A brief emotion was ghosting over the alien and yet so beautiful male features of the Wraith. “It's been a long time since any place has felt like home to me, but sitting here with you comes close to it, I think” he admitted, and Erik unconsciously reached out to touch his hand but hesitated, fearing that by doing so he'd cross a line he'd better not cross after only one day of them knowing each other.

“Tell me more about this Second Alliance you've mentioned before,” the other male asked him before Erik had the chance to question him about his past, and Erik thoughtfully chewed the bite he had just taken from his grilled 'beans' and considered his next words for a moment. He was aware that Colonel Sheppard wouldn't approve of him telling a hostile Wraith anything about their alliance, but Erik hoped that they wouldn't be enemies any longer by the time the rescue party arrived to pick them up, and he cleared his throat and started to tell his attentive listener the things most of the Wraith and humans living outside the Second Alliance must know about Atlantis and High Commander Todd's thirteen Hives anyway.

“The center of the Second Alliance is Atlantis and the thirteen Hives under High Commander Todd's command,” Erik started to tell with a small smile, and his Wraith mirrored his posture and pulled his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around them. He looked so young, lonely and wistful that Erik's heart clenched with a wave of sympathy and longing. “Wraith and humans are true equals in our alliance, but it has been a rather long journey until both sides really trusted each other,” he continued, the other male's amber-golden eyes fixed on his face, and Erik lost himself in his own narration, hoping that he could prove to his Wraith that they didn't need to be enemies but become real friends one day.

 

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“We are true allies, and a lot of Wraith have taken humans as their chosen consorts over the last three years. The colonel who chose me to join the Atlantis mission, Colonel Mitchell, has even persuaded the Commanders to accept names so we can distinguish them apart more easily,” the handsome young captain finished his narration proudly after more than half an hour, and the Wraith frowned slightly. “And they don't feel offended about them?” he wanted to know, “I can hardly believe that, and I must admit that names like Steve, Todd or Michael sound very odd to me.”

Erik chuckled. “I know what you mean, but Steven – coming from the old name Stephanus - Todd and Michael are actually pretty old and honorable names, even though only a few people know about their meaning. Todd is a name that comes from the Celts for example, which were several related ancient tribes that lived on Earth hundreds and even thousands of years ago. They had a rich and impressive culture, and the name Todd is their name for the animal we call the fox nowadays. The Celts thought that this animal had certain virtues like cleverness for example, and the name is very fitting for our High Commander, even though it sounds a little bit odd at first.”

“I see.” His Wraith didn't look convinced, and Erik hurried to tell him more about the names Colonel Mitchell had chosen for the other Commanders. “He spent time on board their Hives for a couple of days to get to know them, and he chose each name with greatest care. The Commanders I have met since my arrival in Atlantis are actually proud of their names and they even address each other with their names when they are alone without any New Lanteans nearby as far as I know. I do believe that Alexandros, Germanus, Patricius or Kyrillos are very honorable names for fierce and brave Wraith Commanders. The meaning of these names are more than honorable, and even our two Queens have accept their names happily.”

His Wraith remained silent for a while as he digested what Erik had told him, and Erik busied himself with his now cold food to give the other one the time he needed to come to terms with all the astonishing things he had heard. There was still this wistful expression in his eyes, and Erik longed to ease his mind and console him so much that it was like a physical ache in his chest.

“It sounds to good to be true,” the Wraith finally said quietly, and Erik swallowed with disappointment, but his gaze was soft and not angry when he looked at him. “But I believe you, Erik, I can see and smell that you're not lying to me. It's just that everything you've told me is the opposite from what I thought I knew about Colonel Sheppard and the New Lanteans.”

“Was Michael the one telling you things about Colonel Sheppard?” Erik asked, and the Wraith nodded hesitantly. “Yes, but he wasn't the only one. Colonel Sheppard is well-known to every Wraith living in this galaxy, and there are a lot of rumors and stories in circulation about him.”

Erik pursed his lips. “I can imagine. But you'll be surprised when you meet him, I promise you. I was told that he's changed a lot since his first arrival in Atlantis. He's a great commander, and this alliance would never have been possible without him.”

“Yes, I think so, Erik. Hmm, he and his people have managed to achieve what no inhabitant of the Pegasus Galaxy would ever have thought it possible – neither the humans, nor the Wraith - becoming friends with some of their former lethal enemies. The names Colonel Mitchell has chosen for the thirteen Commanders and the Queens prove that. I have to admit that the ones you've told me actually sound decent and honorable to me.” The Wraith stared into the flickering flames, and his loneliness was so tangible that Erik felt a huge lump in his throat. All he wanted to do was to chase the loneliness away and make his Wraith smile again, and before Erik knew what he was doing he opened his mouth and asked him:

“Would you mind me giving you a name? A really honorable name like the ones our Commanders have?”

Chapter Text

“A name? You really want to give me a name?” The Wraith stared at his human companion, a fierce rush of emotions surging through him. His heart was hammering in his chest again, and he felt like choking for a moment, the memories of the first time he'd gotten a name floating his mind. It had been under totally different circumstances, and the memories were still painful, making it hard for him to breathe and not let his helpless despair and anger show on his face and in his actions.

Wraith had a photographic memory which was helpful in most situations, but sometimes he wished that he could simply forget his past and never remember anything of what had happened to him again, erase the Wraith he had once been and start a new life without the knowledge of what he'd lost weighing on his shoulders. He suppressed the snarl that wanted to escape him at the images flashing unbidden before his mind's eye knowing that Erik would take it the wrong way, focusing instead on the human watching him attentively over the flickering flames of their campfire.

Despite what he had said to the young captain the previous day - right when they had first met on the other plateau - the Wraith had secretly longed to be given a name after listening to Erik's stories about the Second Alliance. But he wasn't sure about his wish any longer - now that it was offered to him - fearing that his human ally would just choose the first human name coming into his mind without being considerate of his feelings and his dignity.

“Yes, a name.” Erik worried his smooth bottom lip, and the Wraith found himself staring at the soft pink flesh, unable to avert his eyes. The young man hesitated for a moment, taking a deep breath and straightening his shoulders as spoke up again.

“I know what you said about not wanting to have a name, and I'm aware that Wraith don't need names since you are a telepathic species. It's just that I'm human and can't talk telepathically to you, not without your help, I mean. Plus, even if we could do that now and then, I don't think that I would feel comfortable with being connected with you mentally the entire time because humans are not made for this kind of contact.
Therefore I would be happy if you accepted me calling you by a proper name. You must know that referring to someone by their race is usually meant to be insulting and disgraceful among humans,” Erik explained, making a calming gesture with his hand when he saw the look on the Wraith's face. “I know that you don't mean it as an insult when you call me 'human' instead of Erik, that you are mostly doing that to tease me.
I don't mind you calling me 'human' now and then and I actually like it when you're teasing me, but it's different when I have to call you Wraith because I have no other way to address you. It feels like classifying and judging you, reducing you to your looks and way of feeding as though I was refusing to acknowledge you as the individual you are. For me, you are not just any Wraith, but a very special individual, different from the other Wraith I've met, and I would be very happy if I was allowed to show you that I value you highly by calling you by a decent and carefully chosen name.”

The Wraith stared at Erik, his throat too tight to speak for a few seconds. Finally, he made a strangled sound, his voice hoarse when he forced himself to give the young man the answer he was waiting for. “You really want to give me a name, Erik, to become friends with me in doing so – and this even though you know that I might have to kill you by feeding on you if nobody comes to our rescue. Are you really sure that you have thought that through?”

Erik nodded, his voice firm as he looked him straight in the eyes. “Yes, I am sure. I know that you won't take pleasure out of draining me, having to kill me in order to survive yourself. Somehow, I'm in the better position here because I don't have to make this decision, and I don't expect you to spare me and die for my sake, although most people I know would call me foolish if I told them that. I'd actually prefer you to kill me instead of having to watch you die of starvation and staying alone on this planet without any chance of ever getting away from here. Humans are not meant to live on their own for years and decades, and I trust you to make it quick and as painless as possible if it should really come to that. The chances that they will find us when the hyper radio devices functions again are pretty high, I'm sure that they already are searching for me, even if it's only because they don't want my fighter to fall into the wrong hands. I don't want to offend you with my request. On the contrary, my wish to be allowed to address you by a name comes from my respect for you, and because I already think of you as my friend.” The Wraith could see him swallow after his admission that he considered him a friend, but he didn't look away, meeting his eyes with the astonishing courage he had showed right from the first minute of their acquaintance.

The Wraith returned the human's gaze thoughtfully, feeling impressed and humbled at Erik's speech. “I see. What kind of name do you want to give me? Would it have a special meaning like the names Colonel Mitchell chose for the thirteen Commanders?” he tried to keep his voice casual, but he held his breath as he waited anxiously for Erik's answer.

“Oh yes, it has. I have actually thought about a good name for you since you first agreed to my proposal for an alliance.” Erik smiled sheepishly at him, and his cheeks were glowing pink again. The Wraith felt a strange flutter in his guts, another wave of emotions coursing through him again. Erik's eyes sparkled when he looked at him, unconsciously mirroring his posture as he tilted his head to the side.

“I wanted to come to Pegasus, and I'm happy here, but there is someone I really miss. His name is Marco, and we have been best friends ever since I joined the USAF. He didn't have the ATA-gene and was chosen to join another expedition team a few months before Colonel Mitchell visited Earth to select the pilots for our new fighters, and we haven't seen each other for more than half a year, but I know for sure that we will always be friends, no matter how far the distance is between us. You remind me of him, you even have the same lopsided smile as him.” Erik paused, lost in the memories of his best friend, and the Wraith felt a sharp sting cutting through him right where his heart was.

He needed a moment to recognize the disturbing emotion, and he was dismayed that he felt jealous of a human he would most likely never meet. This Marco seemed to be very dear to his human, and he didn't like the thought of anybody else making Erik smile the way he smiled at him, even though it was ridiculous to feel this way of course.

“So you just want to call me Marco like your best friend?” he asked, his voice shallow and terse because of his disappointment. He should have known that the human would choose the easy way and not waste too much time and thought on coming up with a special name for any random Wraith he was stuck on a planet with, but he still felt betrayed and hurt because he had really thought that Erik would choose his name more carefully than Colonel Sheppard had been with his choices of names for the Wraith he had had to deal with after his arrival in Atlantis.

Erik blinked, shaking his head in confusion. “No, I don't want to call you Marco. That would be too simple and not respectful towards either of you, wouldn't it? But Marco is the modern version of a honorable name that has been valued highly for centuries, a lot of remarkable men and rulers have answered to it, and I do believe that it suits a fierce and brave Wraith very well.” He looked at him, and the Wraith felt intrigued against his will, nodding silently at the young man to go on.

Erik smiled at him and relaxed, eager to explain his choice of name to him. “Marco is a more modern form of the old and honorable name Marcus – which is Latin and means warrior of the God Mars. Mars was the Roman god of war, and he was worshiped as a very important god by the Romans who ruled over a huge empire on Earth more than two thousand years ago. Following Colonel Mitchell's way of choosing names for immortal beings, Marcus would be the right choice, but this version is too similar to the name of the training master of the Second Alliance, which is Marcos, and I really want you to have a special name on your own, honorable and beautiful sounding at the same time. We have many different languages on Earth, and the language that ancient Latin developed into over the centuries is Italian. It's a beautiful language, and the Italian version of Marco or Marcus is Marciano.”

Erik paused again, looking uncertain and excited at the same time. “Would you mind me calling you Marciano in the future? It is one of my favorite names since I was a boy, and it is not disgraceful in any way.”

The Wraith felt the same excitement that was displayed on Erik's face, and he cleared his throat to taste his new name on his tongue as he spoke it out loud for the first time. “Marciano. It sounds indeed beautiful, Erik. I think I like it, and I would be pleased if you called me Marciano in the future. Thank you for having chosen my name with care and respect. I... I think of you as my friend too. Friendship doesn't come naturally to us, our brethren on board our Hives are family and allied Hives are not the same as friends, but you have proved your friendship to me with your willingness to ally with me instead of trying to kill me,” he thanked his human, and Erik's genuine happy smile was all he needed to fall in love his new name right there and then. Now he had something he could cling to when the memories of his past were haunting him again, and Marciano the Wraith smiled back at the young man, happy that he had made Erik happy.

He tried to remember the last time he had felt as hopeful and content as he felt in this moment but failed, because no one had ever treated him the way Erik was doing, like the sentient and intelligent being he was, with care, friendliness and respect instead of mistrust and loathing. He had still been so young when he had been caught, torn apart from his Hive and his brethren, and ever since that fateful, terrible day, he had either been loathed, hated, feared or abused.

Marciano knew that he would never forget the young USAF captain with the beautiful smile and the hazel-green eyes, who was willing to put his trust in him instead of only seeing him as the hated Wraith and lethal enemy, offering his friendship to him and showing him respect and understanding where others would condemn him. From this day on, Erik would always be in his mind and his heart as long as he lived, no matter how long that would be.

 

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Erik was still excited that his Wraith had accepted his name when it was finally time for bed after their dinner, the grateful and astonished smile he had gotten warming him from the inside as he lay down on the mattress Marciano had made for him. The coat had dried astonishingly quickly, the heavy garment resembling leather and yet being different from the leather Erik knew. It served as a cozy blanket and smelled of Marciano, and the palm-like leaves and the flexible twigs warmed him from underneath and were much softer than he had anticipated.

The young man felt exhausted and tired even though he had been trapped in the cave all day long, but telling Marciano so many stories, dwelling in the memories of his happy childhood and his first straining weeks in Atlantis, had taken its toll, and the hazel-eyed USAF captain yawned and curled himself up on the mattress with a small sound of drowsy contentment.

Marciano was still sitting by the fire that was slowly dying out, the flames bathing his figure in their golden light. The alien male was a stunning sight, beautiful, elegant and dangerous like a big cat. Marciano's clothes were black, but he reminded Erik more of the young lion he had once seen on a safari trip when he had been a teenager, and the young man smiled at the comparison as he imagined his Wraith running through the wilderness of this world like the young lion had run over the savanna. Colonel Mitchell had told him that Wraith loved to hunt their chosen consorts – playing cat and mouse with them without ever hurting them – and Erik hoped that he and Marciano would be able to play this game one day as well, sharing some carefree moments and being real friends instead of only temporary allies because of their situation. The young Wraith aroused feelings in him he had never felt before, and Erik felt a lump in his throat at the mere thought of never seeing him again after their rescue as he now gazed at him from under his eyelashes.

Erik knew that it was impolite to stare at Marciano like that, the Wraith looking at his boots without really seeing them, lost deep in his thoughts, sitting there on the bench beside the pile of berries in the same position ever since he had wished Erik good night. The hazel-eyed captain couldn't look away though, feeling drawn to his Wraith like a moth felt drawn in to the light that would finally burn it. Marciano might have to kill him if he didn't want to die the painful death of starvation if no one came to their rescue, but Erik didn't feel any fear in his presence even though he knew that it was foolish to trust a Wraith he had just met a day ago. A small shiver was wrecking Marciano now, his expression melancholy as he allowed his guard to slip, unaware of Erik's furtive glances, and Erik called for him without thinking.

“Come here, Marciano. The mattress is big enough for the two of us, and the same goes for your coat.”

Marciano turned his head to look at him. “It's alright, Erik, I can deal with the cold.”

“I know that, Marciano.” Erik loved to call his Wraith by his name, it felt so right to do that, and loved the sound of it more than he had thought he would do when he had chosen it for the other male. “But I want you to come here nonetheless. You've said that the predators have problems with climbing, and the rain will only make it harder for them to come here. You can watch the fire from here just as well as you can do it sitting there all alone. Besides, you haven't taken a nap like you'd said that you would do during the day, and you need to preserve your strength if you want to go without feeding for long enough. You can wake me in case you don't want to leave the fire alone and become too tired to watch it.”

“Are you sure that you want to sleep lying close to a Wraith, human?” Marciano asked him in the weak attempt to keep his distance from him, and Erik lifted the coat and smiled at him. “I am sure that I want to sleep lying close to you, Marciano. Your body heat might be lower than mine, but it is warmer than the chilly night air, and I feel safe with you. I really want you to be comfortable too, my stubborn Wraith,” he insisted, using the word stubborn only to be able to call Marciano his Wraith at least once without arousing questions he wasn't ready to answer at this point.

Marciano tilted his head to the side as he regarded him, and Erik was already fearing that he would refuse his offer, but the Wraith surprised him as he stood to come over to his sleeping place. “You continue to surprise me, human,” his new friend rumbled, lying down behind him, careful not to touch him. Erik felt a little bit disappointed, but he accepted Marciano's need to keep some space between them without trying to snuggle closer to him. Trust and closeness didn't come easily to his Wraith, that much was obvious, and Erik guessed that he must have had some bad experiences, but he would wait patiently and not ask Marciano about them until he trusted him enough to tell him his story.

“I continue to surprise myself,” was all he said with a light snicker, draping the coat over both of them and closing his eyes with another heartfelt yawn.

“Good night, Marciano,” he murmured already halfway asleep, tasting the name he had found for his Wraith on his tongue again, and the other male's low purring rumble followed him into his deep and dreamless slumber.

“Good night, Erik human, sleep well.”

Chapter Text

Erik woke up to a body pressed against his own, Marciano's arm a heavy weight around his waist.

It was the second night they had spent like this, but the previous morning Marciano had already been up and busied with making breakfast when Erik had opened his eyes. This time the Wraith must have succumbed to sleep sometime during the night, unconsciously cuddling up against a source of warmth that would protect him from the chilly night air so much better than any blanket could ever do.

Erik didn't dare to hope that Marciano had sought his embrace because he felt attracted to the human who was his only companion in this beautiful but lonely world, telling himself that Wraith most likely appreciated warmth as much as humans did, even though they could deal with cold better than humans because of their lower body temperature.

Their closeness had an unwanted side-effect though, and Erik cautiously shifted his weight to move his backside away from the Wraith's body, glad that Marciano was lying behind him and couldn't feel or see the inappropriate and unmistakable reaction of his cuddling partner.

“You're in need, human. Shall I leave you alone so you can take care of yourself or do you want me to stay and help you?”

Marciano's sleepy voice next to his ear made the young captain flinch violently with a strangled sound of surprise. The Wraith didn't sound uncomfortable or embarrassed, and he apparently didn't want to seduce Erik either, he was merely stating a matter of fact, his voice calm and casual as if he had made a remark about the weather.

“Marciano! What the heck...” Erik flinched again in embarrassment, hastily moving away from the other male as far as he could without rolling down from the mattress, burying his face in his elbow.

“There is no need to curse, Erik. I was told that humans – especially healthy young men – have a strong libido. This is obviously normal for you, and you don't need to be ashamed of your natural needs.”

Erik could feel Marciano's eyes on his back, but he refused to turn around and look at him, knowing that he was glowing crimson red with embarrassment. “How do you even know? You're lying behind me, you can't even see it from your position!” he grumbled, wishing for a hole in the ground to open up and swallow him.

“It? You mean your hmm – how did Michael call it – ah, yes, 'morning wood', I guess. No I can't see 'it', but your scent is thick with pheromones,” Marciano said, reluctantly removing his arm from Erik's midsection when he sensed Erik's serious discomfort.

“Yeah, of course it is. At least you didn't say that I stink this time,” Erik sighed, craning his head to peer at the Wraith from over his shoulder. It wouldn't help matters if he behaved like a shrinking violet, it was better to address this delicate topic now and get it out of the way for all time. “It is so unfair that you can always see or smell the state I'm in while my poor human senses are far too dull to be able to do the same,” he groused, and the Wraith tilted his head and raised one of his hairless eye-ridges at him.

“Having such a sensitive sense of smell is not always fortunate, human, believe me. I have wished for a less sensitive nose more than only once.”

Erik sighed again. “Yes, I can imagine. I'm sorry that you have to endure the reek of my unwashed body for so long.”

Marciano's expression softened, and he reached out to trail his clawed finger along Erik's jawline. His cheeks were still burning red, but the look in the Wraith's amber-golden eyes was gentle and almost tender when he smiled at him.

“Please don't be sorry for things you can't change, Erik. It was still raining yesterday and far too risky to leave the cave for longer than a few minutes. You can take a bath in the lake later, the sun is shining again, and depending on how fast the earth dries out, we can try to reach my Dart to get the coordinates of this planet I've saved before my crash and see whether or not the energy storage is still functioning. We'll need it for the repair of your hyper radio device if we want to make it send a message to Atlantis for long enough. Besides, you're not smelling bad to me. On the contrary, you actually smell quite delicious to me if I'm allowed to say that without offending you.”

Erik felt his cheeks heat up even more, but he couldn't be angry with his Wraith, not when Marciano looked at him this way, admiration and mischief making his eyes sparkle and his lips curl into that irresistible lopsided smile. His morning wood, as Marciano had put it, had luckily faded due to their awkward talk, and was there actually disappointment flashing in the amber-golden eyes when his Wraith drew in a deep breath, realizing that Erik's state had changed back to normal?

The young captain couldn't be sure, but what he knew for sure was that he wanted to end this conversation as soon as possible, and so he forced a smile upon his own face and inhaled deeply as well.

“You're right that a lot of men wake up in this state on a regular basis, but it normally fades again without problems. I appreciate your kind offer, but I don't need your help, and I'd prefer not having to talk about these things again. This is something very private, you know, and having to discuss my most private needs with you is making me feel uncomfortable and ashamed.”

Marciano nodded, even though he looked a little bit hurt. “Of course, Erik, I respect your boundaries,” he said, schooling his features into an expression of calm impassiveness. “We should get up now anyway. I will check the terrain if you don't mind making breakfast for us.”

“That's a good idea.” Erik disentangled his limbs from the heavy coat and got up to see to the campfire that had burned down during the night, and Marciano did the same to leave the cave and check the terrain.

The young man was glad that he had a few moments to himself as he arranged the berries and some of the mushrooms Marciano had collected on two palm-like leaves for their breakfast, their talk still echoing in his head.

His Wraith obviously didn't know that Erik's morning wood had nothing to do with the strong libido of a healthy young man but had been caused by their closeness and Erik's secret attraction to him, and the hazel-eyed USAF captain could only hope that Marciano would never find out about his desire for him.

 

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Five hours later they were making their way downwards to the base of the mountain where Erik had found Marciano's Dart three days ago, the descent taking much longer than Erik's ascent had taken due to the still dangerously slippery ground where the sun didn't reach to dry the soil. The young captain was grateful that he had to focus all of his energies on scrambling down the mountain in order not to risk a fall that would lead to severe injuries – if not his death - glad that he could take his mind off their talk from earlier today.

Marciano had busied himself with adding more twigs and palm leaves to their mattress while Erik had gone to the lake to take a bath and wash his clothes, wearing nothing but Marciano's coat while his underwear, shirt and BDUs were drying on the meadow. It felt good to be clean again, but Erik's thoughts had circled around the fact that he wouldn't be able to hide his feelings from his Wraith companion in the long run, and the sudden bout of homesickness had only served to make him feel worse.

Marciano had noticed his lack of appetite when they had had a quick lunch, but luckily not commented on it, only looked at Erik from the side now and then. Erik missed the lightheartedness they had shared during the last two days, and he hoped that the repair of the hyper radio device would establish some kind of normalcy between them again.

The young captain was so wrapped up in his thoughts when they finally reached the base of the mountain that he bumped into the Wraith when he stopped all of a sudden, pointing at something in front of him.

Erik held his breath when he saw what it was, two small rabbit-like animals crouching under a large bush. They used their tiny front paws as hands as they nibbled at the berries Erik liked so much, making purring and squeaking sounds of delight. The small rabbits were so busied with their lunch that they didn't notice the two watchers, or maybe they did notice Marciano and him but didn't consider them a threat, it was hard to tell.

Erik felt the tension leave his body as he stood there watching the cute animals, a huge smile on his face when Marciano turned his head to look at him.

“They are so cute!” he whispered barely moving his lips, and Marciano returned his smile and winked at him. “Yes, they are. There are other animals on this planet, but these are the cutest. They live in caves in the mountain not far away from here. I spent some time watching and studying them before your arrival.”

The two 'rabbits' scampered closer at the sound of Marciano's voice, and Erik watched the Wraith plucking some berries from the bush next to him, kneeling down on the ground to offer them to the animals. The bigger one made a chirping sound as it sniffed at the berries, and Erik wished that he could stroke the fur that looked soft and shimmered golden like Marciano's hair in the midday sun, but he knew that touching a strange animal on an unknown planet was not a clever idea, at least not when you were human and could get sick from such careless behavior.

“Put the berries on your flat palm, they won't bite you, Erik,” Marciano said as if he had read his thoughts, and Erik obeyed without thinking, trusting his Wraith that he wouldn't let any harm come to him.

“These two are the most curious ones, the rest of their kin are much more cautious. They must be brothers, I think, and they are always together. Their fur is golden-brown while the others have grayish fur.”

The smaller brother scampered over to Erik, craning his head to nibble at the berries in Erik's palm. Erik snickered because the furry snout of the 'rabbit' tickled at his skin, and his new friend chirped excitedly and rose on his hind legs to beg for more berries. Erik chuckled, forgetting his worries and his homesickness completely, beaming at Marciano when he plucked more berries to offer them to his small friend. The Wraith did the same, and the two brothers chewed happily, wagging their round backsides.

“Max and Hannes like these berries just as much as I like them.”

Marciano shook his head in faked exasperation, but Erik could see the smile playing on his lips. “You and your need to name each and everything crossing your way, human!”

“Don't complain, Wraith! You actually like the names I come up with!” Erik defended himself, and Marciano chuckled. “Yes, I actually do, Erik. So tell me – which one is Max?”

“Your rabbit of course. Max and Marciano. My rabbit is Hannes. I once had two rabbits that looked like these two and their names were Max and Hannes.”

“I see. What are rabbits, Erik?” Marciano reached out with his off hand to stroke Max behind his long ears, making him purr loudly. Erik had never heard of purring rabbits, but these were Pegasus rabbits after all, and he hadn't believed that Wraith were able to purr either until Marciano's purring had lulled him to sleep last night.

“Rabbits are animals living on Earth which are similar to these cuties here. They have soft fur, long ears, and they can scamper, but they can't purr, so Max and Hannes must have some cats in their family too,” Erik tried to explain. “I'll show you pictures of rabbits and cats when we're back in Atlantis.”

Marciano's hand stilled, hovering over Max' head. The Pegasus rabbit chirped unhappily, shooting the Wraith a reproachful look out of big brown eyes before scampering away with Hannes in tow. “Do you really believe that Colonel Sheppard would let me stay in Atlantis even if it was only for a few hours or days?” Marciano asked, his voice carefully controlled, and Erik lifted his chin in defiance and determination when he returned his appraising glance.

“He will, don't you doubt that, Marciano. He's not like the Colonel Sheppard you've heard so many stories about any longer. He has changed, and you will be welcome in Atlantis.”

“If you say so.” Marciano rose elegantly to his feet, his expression stern and impassive instead of cheerful and relaxed now. “Come on, we need to see to my Dart. We can come here and visit Max and Hannes more often after the repair of your fighter, it will take Atlantis some time to come here. They need to travel by ship, there is no Stargate within reach, and the sooner your hyper radio device functions again, the sooner they will come to our rescue.”

Erik wondered about the Wraith's sudden mood change, but he only nodded and followed him along the small path Marciano must have cut through the wilderness with his long knife before Erik's arrival, wishing for the other male to smile at him again so badly that it was a physical pain in his chest.

Chapter Text

They had settled in a more or less smoothly functioning working routine over the last two days, trying to establish some kind of normality in their complicated and still fragile alliance.

Marciano shot Erik a furtive sidelong glance, drawing secret pleasure out of watching his human while he was caught up in his work. Yesterday had been awkward after Marciano's clumsy attempt to learn more about Erik and his human needs, and he still wanted to slap himself for having upset his beautiful young man that much. He had spoken without thinking when he'd woken up enwrapped in Erik's tempting scent, the cool air in the cave perfumed with the pheromones of Erik's arousal.

Marciano had hoped that Erik would tell him that it wasn't just the normal reaction of his human body but something deeper and more serious, and Erik's violent reaction had confused and dismayed him, making him realize that the handsome young man obviously didn't belong to those New Lanteans who found Wraith attractive and desirable, wanting to come closer to them in a more intimate way.

It was clear now that he had crossed a line he'd better never cross again, and Marciano had deeply regretted that he had damaged their friendship right after Erik's willingness to show him his trust by letting him sleep close to him – even though he still didn't know anything about the creature that could have taken his life so easily while he was sleeping. Erik had told Marciano so much about himself without ever asking any questions about Marciano's past, and the young Wraith was aware that lack of interest wasn't the reason for Erik's silence, but his respect for Marciano's privacy and his strong wish to make their alliance work and prove himself to him. If friendship was all the hazel-eyed captain felt for him, then Marciano had to accept that and keep an appropriate distance to him in the future.

Addressing Erik's delicate state seconds after the young man had woken up in his arms had apparently been a big mistake, and Marciano had done his best to make up with his human again, trying to distract him from his inappropriate demeanor with the cute animals when they had left the cave to go to his Dart. It had worked better than he had hoped that it would, the 'rabbits' as Erik called the animals even had names now, and Marciano had to admit that he liked the names his human had chosen for them. Max and Hannes had already been waiting for them again today when they'd reached the small path that would lead them to Erik's fighter, chirping and purring excitedly when they'd been hand-fed with more berries by their new two-legged friends.

Erik's eyes had sparkled when he had fed Hannes, and the young man had beamed at him with joy, forgetting his discomfort because Marciano had intruded on his privacy so rudely the previous day. Marciano would have liked to stay longer and play with Max and Hannes for a while just to see Erik smile like that with rosy cheeks, but they really needed to repair the hyper radio device, and Erik hadn't objected when he had gently reminded him that they needed to go.

The trek to Erik's plane took them more than three hours because the ground was still muddy and slippery where the sun didn't reach it because of the tall trees standing so close, but his human didn't complain about the straining walk or the humidity that made him sweat, he just walked behind Marciano with his bag hanging over his shoulder, looking around in awe of the new world he explored.

The Wraith had already started to suspect that the things Michael had told him about humans in general, and the New Lanteans in particular, weren't true after the first days he had spent in Erik's company, and he now knew for sure that most of them had been lies. Last night, Marciano had watched Erik curl himself up on the mattress again, still sitting by the fire on the other side of the cave, and he had resigned himself to his fate of having to lie on the hard ground for the rest of their stay here after what he had said and done that morning. But his astonishing human had just looked at him with a smile on his face, making an inviting gesture with his hand and saying:

“What are you waiting for, Marciano? Just come here, you'll be much more comfortable lying on the mattress.”

The Wraith had lain down beside him with a lump in his throat, feeling humble and grateful that his human was able to forgive him for his behavior just like that.

Right now the young captain was busied checking his Dart Fighter as his spaceship was called, his cheeks rosy again when he saw that the damage wasn't as serious as it had first looked. Marciano could have spent hours with watching him, but he tore his hungry gaze away from the beautiful face of his companion to help him connect the energy storage they had disassembled from his own Dart the previous day with the hyper radio device of Erik's own plane.

If Marciano had needed any proof that Erik's stories about the Second Alliance were true and not just lies to deceive him and make him cooperate, then his fighter was all the Wraith needed to see to believe him. He hadn't really thought that Erik's stories were lies, but he had had the suspicion that his human was perhaps exaggerating things to convince Marciano that the Second Alliance was as powerful as he claimed it to be. However the Dart-like fighter proved better than words could ever do that the New Lanteans and Commander Todd's Hives had become true allies and friends, and Marciano longed to visit Atlantis and learn more about this alliance, although he knew that his dream would never come true.

The D-1404 was a perfect combination of a Wraith Dart and the fighters of the New Lanteans Michael had found in one of Atlantis' databases and shown to him shortly after his arrival in the Wraith-hybrid's labs, and Marciano had been truly impressed when Erik had used the remote control to make his plane visible again, seeing the new and much better version of these fighters for the first time. The Wraith had stared at the spaceship in stunned silence, his eyes roaming over the shimmering dark surface and his clawed fingers itching to touch and fly it.

This would never happen though, and Marciano willed his attention back to his task, telling himself that wishing for something he could never have would only make him feel bad. He was an outlaw, the home he had once had on board his birth Hive lost to him forever when Michael had come to get him. No Hive would ever accept him as a part of their crew again, no Wraith would ever look at him with anything but disgust and contempt because of what he had become.

The same went for the humans living in this galaxy, he was still a lethal threat to them, still the enemy they had to fight and kill, and all he could do was search for a planet like this one where he could live on his own, a planet that would hopefully have a Stargate so he could leave it for some time when he needed to feed. Perhaps it would be better to just stay here and wait for his death when Colonel Sheppard came to save Erik and the precious Dart Fighter, no one would miss him when he was gone - and parts of the terrible things Michael had done not only to him, but to an entire galaxy as well, would finally be gone with him then.

“Can you help me with these?” Erik's words pulled him out of his dark thoughts, and Marciano looked up at him. The young captain wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, leaving a small stripe of dirt there, but it only made him look more attractive in Marciano's admittedly biased opinion. Erik was much more sensitive to his moods than Marciano had given him credit for at the beginning, his gaze worried and his lips curling into a cautious smile as he waited for Marciano's reaction, regarding him attentively.

“Of course, Erik. Sorry, I was lost in my thoughts.” Marciano took the screwdriver to loosen the screws Erik hadn't been able to loosen. Erik watched him work for a moment. “That's understandable, Marciano. You're stuck here for much longer than I am, you're alone in your head without the comforting presence of your own kin. You have me as your only company – a head-blind human who is actually food for you, and you're depending on my people to rescue you, people you don't know how they will treat you. I know that this must be hard for you, much harder than it is for me.”

Erik's kind words made him swallow, and he looked up to smile at him. “You're not 'food' to me, Erik, please don't think that. You're... you're my friend, and I value your company highly.”

The young man looked surprised, and Marciano knew that he would never forget the expression on his face when Erik cleared his throat and said:

“Thank you, Marciano. You're my friend too, you really are.”

 

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They had worked on making the hyper radio device function for three hours, and Erik had already started to think that they wouldn't succeed, but Marciano had refused to give up and finally achieved the miracle, bringing the device back to life and sending a short transmission with their coordinates and the information Atlantis needed to find them. The message repeated itself in an endless loop with short breaks in between, and Erik prayed that Dr. McKay or another scientist would hear it and draw the right conclusions from it.

Marciano had done his best to focus the transmission to a radiated beam to minimize the risk that hostile Hives would receive it, but they couldn't be sure that it would work. The problem was that they couldn't remove the device and bring it to their cave, but had to leave it inside his fighter because the battery was too large to carry even for Marciano, and the energy storage of Marciano's Dart alone without the larger battery of Erik's fighter wasn't powerful enough to operate the radio reception on together with the transmitter and make the transmitter work for more than a day perhaps.

They would have to come back here on a regular basis over the next few days to check if Atlantis had received their message with the coordinates, and Erik hoped that the energy would last for long enough that they could answer to a possible message from the City of the Ancients. The other problem was that he couldn't use the remote control to hide the fighter behind the shield again as long as the device was transmitting, and Erik was worried that the predators Marciano had mentioned would come here and damage the ship.

The hyper radio was their only chance to be rescued before Marciano had to feed again, and Erik found himself turning his head round several times when they were finally leaving the place to go back to their cave, his lips moving in a soundless goodbye to his precious ship and a prayer that Atlantis would receive their transmission.

The sun was a large red ball that hovered over the horizon when they saw the base of the mountains in front of them, still about two or three miles away, and Erik wiped his forehead again, every single bone aching in his body. The bruises the crash landing had left were slowly fading but still visible, and the long march to his plane in the morning and now back to their shelter had used up most of his strength. Erik was walking behind Marciano, not really paying attention to his surroundings, trusting the Wraith to do that for him, and Marciano's sudden hiss made him flinch and cry out.

The Wraith had come to an abrupt halt, pushing against Erik to make him step back, and Erik felt his blood freezing in his veins when he saw the reason for Marciano's behavior.

The animal crouching in front of them, ready to jump and attack them at any second, was not quite as big as the bears Erik knew from Earth, but it was still impressive in size, the head and the torso resembling a brown bear while the rest of it looked more like the backside of a too short kangaroo, probably the reason why these animals weren't good at climbing, their hind legs not designed for that. But they definitely were good at jumping from a standing position, because this one did that the very next second, attacking Marciano with a low growl.

Erik stumbled back when the impact threw the Wraith against him, and he fell down on his butt with a loud “uff!”, searching desperately for his knife to help Marciano fight against the predator.

“Get out of the way, Erik! It will attack you if it learns that you are the easier prey of the two of us!” Marciano snarled when he saw Erik crawling in his direction, already up on his feet again, and the young man hesitated, torn between his instinctive urge to flee and his equally strong wish to help his Wraith.

“I've fought them before, I don't need your help! Just get out of the way, human!” the other male snarled impatiently, and Erik's limbs finally obeyed his brain's orders again. He hurried to roll to the side when the kangaroo-bear jumped again, the long claws of his front paws almost scratching Erik's cheek as it turned its attention to the human.

Marciano growled and whirled around his axis faster than Erik could follow him with his eyes, his fists raining down on the back of the creature to distract it from Erik, and the predator howled and turned around to defeat the more dangerous enemy before finishing Erik afterwards. It jumped again, but Marciano had seen it coming, ducking away and kicking the animal with his heavy boot in its softer belly. The predator howled in both, pain and blind fury, and Erik held his breath when it jumped again, its sharp teeth bared as it aimed for Marciano's throat.

The Wraith snarled when the fangs of the beast cut through his arm, his own fury doubling his powers. He managed to grab the front legs just when the creature crushed against him, whirling it around to throw it down onto the ground and keep it down with his own rather heavy body weight. The kangaroo-bear crashed down with a loud noise, and Marciano pressed it against the ground with his hands wrapped around its neck, kneeling on its back. The creature went still when it felt the Wraith's strong claws tighten around its windpipe, mortal fear darkening its gaze.

Erik's head was spinning from the lack of air, and he inhaled deeply with a strangled sob, staring at the two so different creatures with wide eyes. The animal lay on the ground with trembling flanks, letting out a small whine of surrender. Erik's throat was so tight that he could hardly breathe, and he squeezed his eyes shut because he didn't want to see Marciano finishing it. The kangaroo-bear was a predator that would have killed him without hesitation, Erik knew that, but it was still a sentient living being, and Erik felt pity and sympathy with it. The beast only acted out of its nature, it wasn't cruel or drawing pleasure out of killing other beings, and Erik hoped that Marciano would make it quick and painless for the kangaroo-bear.

He opened his eyes again when he heard another whine, watching in astonishment Marciano rising to his feet and stepping back from the beast that was still alive and breathing. It pulled its tail between its hind legs and crawled away in the direction of the bushes without trying to attack them again, and Erik struggled back onto his own feet, his knees feeling like jelly.

“You let it live.”

Marciano didn't turn his head to look at him, watching the kangaroo-bear disappearing between the trees. “Yes, I have. I thought that you would want me to let it live, Erik. It isn't evil, it just wants to eat and survive like all living beings.” The Wraith looked like an ancient warrior as he stood there dressed completely in tightly fitting black with slightly spread legs, his long silver-blond hair cascading over his shoulders in tousled waves. His hands hang loosely at his sides, but Erik could see the tension in his posture, that Marciano was ready to kill the defeated animal without blinking if the beast made the mistake of coming back and trying to attack them again.

Erik took in the sight of the amazing being, proud and fierce, even merciless if necessary, and yet so gentle and kind sometimes. Erik still remembered how Marciano had fed Max with an almost tender smile on his alien, beautiful male face, and in this moment he realized that he had fallen in love with Marciano.

It wasn't just physical desire Erik felt for the Wraith, but real and deep love.

Chapter Text

The realization that he loved Marciano left Erik breathless and speechless for a moment. He opened his mouth but no sound came out, and he stared at the Wraith with burning eyes, unable to move.

Marciano watched the spot where the kangaroo-bear had disappeared until the rustling sounds of breaking twigs and leaves finally faded, proving that the defeated predator had put enough distance between itself and its conqueror not to be a threat to them any longer.

Then, he slowly turned around to look at Erik because the young man hadn't responded to what he'd said. “Was I wrong, Erik? Did you want me to kill it? This race is very sentient and even intelligent, I could feel it when I made it leave. This one won't attack us again, and its brethren will hopefully respect us as the stronger ones in the future too.”

Erik blinked to clear his mind. Marciano would get suspicious that something was wrong if he behaved strangely, and the young man didn't want him to know about his feelings. Marciano would never return his feelings, and he really didn't want to risk their friendship with a love confession that wasn't welcome.

“No, you weren't wrong, Marciano. Thank you for not killing it. Everything was just happening so fast, I'm still trying to process what has happened, I guess.” Erik swallowed and met Marciano's worried gaze. “So you could connect with its mind?” he asked stunned, and the Wraith made a vague gesture with his hand. It drew Erik's attention to his arm where the claw of the kangaroo-bear had torn the sleeve of Marciano's shirt. “You're injured!” he said, rushing to his Wraith to check his injury.

Marciano smiled reassuringly at him. “It's only a scratch, it's already healing, Erik. Please don't worry about me, I'm fine. It's you who needs some care, you're white as snow.”

“I'm okay, just exhausted and a little bit shaky on my legs. Having to watch you fight against this Pegasus bear without being able to help you was nerve-wrecking.”

“Were you worried about my well-being, Erik?” Marciano asked quietly, reaching out to stroke his cheek in a brief gentle caress.

“Yes, of course, I was!” Erik tried to scowl at him, but he was too grateful that his Wraith was alive and healthy to be angry with him about this stupid question.

“I was worried about you too, Erik.” Marciano's eyes were glittering in the red light of the setting sun, and Erik felt his throat tighten with all the love he felt for him. “It wasn't me fighting this beast. I wasn't in danger, you made sure of that, Marciano.”

The Wraith looked intently at him. “I will always do my best to keep you safe and sound, Erik. To answer your question, I didn't really connect with your Pegasus bear – whatever a bear is - but I could touch its mind and make it see some images. It's similar to what Wraith do during the culling when they want to spook humans.”

Erik had heard of that during his time in Atlantis, and a cold shiver ran down on his spine. “So you gave the poor thing a fright it will never forget again.”

Marciano nodded. “Yes. It was either that or killing it. I preferred to do the first.”

“Thank you for that, Marciano.” Erik drew in a deep breath, trying to regain his composure. They stood there for a moment, looking at each other in awkward silence before the Wraith jerked his head in the direction of the mountains.

“We should leave this place. It's getting dark and your night vision is not as good as mine. I don't want you having to climb in the darkness.”

Erik nodded, following Marciano as he turned around and started off towards their cave, wondering what it was that made so many New Lanteans fall in love with Wraith so easily.

 

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The following two days kept Erik far too busy to think much about his feelings for Marciano. They collected more berries, mushrooms and vegetables, refilling their water supplies before leaving the cave for another long and straining walk through the wilderness.

The first day after they came back to Erik's fighter was a disappointment for both of them because one of the small cables had lost its connection with the device, ending the transmission abruptly somewhere during the night. They fixed the problem and started the transmission again, hoping that it would get through this time.

On their way back to the plateau, Marciano showed Erik the caves where Max and Hannes lived with their kin, and they spent some time with playing with their two small friends. Hannes and Max chirped and purred happily when they saw the human and the Wraith, and Erik forgot his worries and doubts and enjoyed the warm sun and their joyous game until it was time to go back to their shelter.

Dinner was quiet and Erik lay awake snuggled close to Marciano for a rather long time, hardly daring to move because he feared that the Wraith would take it the wrong way and address the delicate topic of his state again. Erik was sure that Marciano wasn't sleeping either, but the other male didn't try to talk to him, and exhaustion finally overtook him and made him fall asleep.

The second day brought good news as there was a short message waiting for them when they reached the D-1404. Some words were missing, but Atlantis had received their emergency call, asking them to set up a short message every day as proof that they were still alive until the Stardust could reach the planet. Hives didn't have the beam-technology required to retrieve Erik's fighter, and coming to their rescue with one of the Hives would have drawn unwanted attention to this region of the galaxy anyway. The Wraith living outside the Second Alliance had attacked single Hives of the alliance before, and the Stardust was smaller and faster, harder to detect than a huge Hive.

It would take her several days to get here, however, as the blue star that had caused the anomaly that had transported Marciano and Erik to this planet was still causing problems, its activity at its maximum now, and the Stardust needed to fly a detour to avoid serious damage of her own.

Erik was torn between utter relief that rescue was on its way and his wish to be alone with Marciano on this planet for a while longer. Hiding his feelings from the Wraith became harder with every hour that passed, and lying close to him during the nights was sweet torture. Erik felt drained and tired when he woke up three days after their first visit to his Dart Fighter, the memory of a weird dream he'd had still vivid in his mind. They had programmed the hyper radio device to send a message every day at a fixed hour, but one of them had to check the device for incoming transmissions nevertheless, and the mere thought of another long march made Erik want to scream.

Therefore he was quiet when he saw to their breakfast while Marciano swept the cave with a bundle of twigs.

“I will check the device alone today, Erik,” Marciano said when they were sitting on the stony ground before the cave later, enjoying the warm morning sun. “I don't need your gene for that, and you really need to rest for a day. You have lost weight, and the circles under your eyes become darker with every day that passes. You'll be safe here during my absence, and I'm faster without you anyway.”

Erik only nodded, too exhausted to argue about that, and he was actually grateful to have some time on his own. Maybe he could catch up on some sleep when he didn't need to fear that he would reveal his feelings to the other male while he slept lying so close to him.

Marciano left him shortly after, and Erik crawled back into the cave and curled himself up on the mattress, burying his nose in the fabric of the black coat, Marciano's unique scent consoling him when he succumbed to a deep and dreamless slumber.

 

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Marciano came back when the sun had just passed the zenith, and Erik had to admit that he would never be as fast as a Wraith, even not when he was well rested. He prepared a light lunch for them, and the other male brought him up to date while they were chewing on their berries.

“The Stardust has had a problem with their energy system, it took them a day to fix it, so it will take them at least five days to get here,” Marciano said in a low voice, his worries about Erik's state clear to see in his expression. “They can't travel at maximum speed and have to drop out of hyper space several times when they're crossing the center of the galaxy because of the star density.”

Erik nodded, staring down at his feet. “Yes, I thought so. They know that we're quite safe here, and their own safety must have priority over anything else. The Stardust is too precious to risk.”

“Atlantis and the Stardust are observing this region as best as they can do due to the long distance, they will inform us if a hostile Hive changes its course to come here. The transmission has only a small dispersion wave and should go unnoticed by other ships. I would check the hyper radio twice a day, but this would weaken me too much, and we don't know how long it will actually take them to arrive.”

Marciano's words hung in the air, and Erik smiled melancholy. “You don't want to risk starting to see me as food instead of as a friend,” he stated, looking up at Marciano when the Wraith didn't answer him.

The amber-golden eyes were fixed on his face, and there was an expression on his face that sent a shiver through Erik's body. A shiver that was not a shiver of fear.

“I will never see you as food, Erik, even not when I'm close to dying of starvation. I'm past the point where I could feed on you.”

This stunning declaration made Erik gulp for air, and the hot wave of desire surging through him left him breathless and tingling all over.

Marciano's gaze darkened, and he inhaled sharply. “You are my friend, and I value your life as much as I value mine, Erik. I'd rather die than kill you.”

“Thank you, Marciano. I... I would let you feed on me willingly. I have been told that Wraith can share life-force or feed on humans without having to kill them right away, and I would let you feed on me to help you.”

“This is very kind and brave of you, but you don't know what you're offering to me. The feeding of a hungry Wraith is more painful for humans than you can even begin to imagine.” Marciano's voice was carefully controlled.

“Yes, I've heard that too. But having to watch you die would pain me more.” Erik didn't dare say anything else because he feared that he would reveal his feelings to the Wraith if he did that.

“You're full of surprises, Erik,” Marciano said after a long moment of silence, his lunch totally forgotten. “You're not like any human I've ever known.”

Erik tried to ease the tension between them with a chuckle. “I take that as a compliment, Wraith.”

“It was meant as one.” Marciano hesitated. “I know that I'd promised not to address this topic again, and I really don't want to intrude on your privacy, Erik, but I couldn't help but notice that your scent has changed over the last days. It has gotten an unhealthy note because of your... uhm... sexual frustration. I will check your fighter without you in the future, you'll have enough privacy to take care of yourself this way. Please don't be angry with me or ashamed, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable or upset you. I'm just worried about you, and it's been disturbing your sleep pretty badly. I could also sleep outside the cave in the future if you prefer that of course. Please don't be embarrassed, you're human and this is natural for you.”

Erik froze in place, hot redness creeping into his face. He had hoped that Marciano would leave this topic alone and not realize what the change of his scent truly meant, but he should have known better than to nurse false hopes of course.

“You're saying that as if Wraith didn't have to deal with their libido,” he mumbled at last, feeling confused because he had thought that the libido of Wraith was even stronger than the human one – judging what he knew from the mated Wraith of the Second Alliance.

“Yes, we have. But our libido is normally linked with our feelings. It is very strong actually, but only when we're in love or when a Queen honors us with her wish to lie with a male. The devotion to our Queens is engraved in our genetic code as you probably know.”

Erik clenched his fingers in his lap. “Yes, I do.” He knew that lying to Marciano would only make things worse, and he steeled himself for Marciano's reaction when he searched for his gaze, knowing that his cheeks were burning in bright red again.

“You are right that humans can feel sexual tension without being in love with someone special, but my problems have nothing to do with the natural sex drive of a healthy young man how you think it to be the case. My frustration comes from my desire for you, and me taking care of this 'problem' won't help, at least not for longer than a few hours. It's you who's making me feel this way, but you don't need to worry about me trying to make a move on you. I know that you see me as a friend only, something I'm deeply grateful for, and I would never risk that by such behavior.”

Now he had said it out loud, and Erik held his breath as he waited for Marciano's reaction, readying himself for the worst. The Wraith would never return his feelings, and he had already said more than he had wanted to say. Erik balled his hands until his knuckles turned white and his nails dug painfully into his palms, looking Marciano straight in the eyes.

The Wraith stared back, obviously too shocked to react to Erik's stunning confession for several long seconds, and his voice was raspy and hoarse when he finally found his tongue again, swallowing hard when he asked:

“Are you trying to say that you feel more than friendship for me, Erik? Do you really want to tell me that you feel desire for me? That you want us to be together?”

Chapter Text

Marciano stared at his human, unable to believe his ears. They must be playing tricks on him, making him hear words Erik would never speak out loud, but only in his wistful dreams. It simply couldn't be that the beautiful young man truly desired him, that the amazing being with the hazel-green eyes felt more than reluctant friendship for him.

Friendship that had more or less been forced upon him when his fighter had crashed on this planet, leaving the human no other choice than to ally with the lethal enemy if he wanted to survive the first days in this new and beautiful but dangerous and lonely world.

Erik looked at him, his cheeks burning in the adorable pink Marciano loved so much. His scent had become stronger over the last minutes, proving to the Wraith greedily inhaling the alluring mixture of pheromones that the young captain must indeed desire him.

“Yes, I desire you. I tried to suppress my feelings for your sake, but they are too strong, and I can't do anything about my scent that gives me away...” Erik's voice trailed off, and he cast his eyes down. Marciano realized with dismay that his beautiful human took his disbelief the wrong way, that he thought that his desire was not returned.

Marciano rose to his feet, bridging the short distance between them, kneeling down beside Erik, who sat there with slumped shoulders and a sad look on his face. “I desire you too, Erik,” the Wraith whispered hoarsely, daring to touch the young man and stroke his hot cheek tenderly. He couldn't pinpoint the exact moment he had fallen in love with Erik – probably right at the beginning, when the human had stood there on the plateau, talking so bravely to him – but the moment he had realized that he loved Erik with all of his heart was clear and sharp in his memory.

It had been when the predator had attacked them. Marciano's only thought had been that he needed to protect Erik, that he had no reason to live any longer if his beloved human died, and it had given him the strength he had needed to defeat the fierce animal without killing it.

Erik was different from anybody else Marciano had ever known, so brave and sincere and loyal, kindhearted and thoughtful, treating him with respect and honesty instead of only seeing the enemy in him. Erik had shown him trust where others would have rebuffed him, laughing with him and sleeping in his arms without any sign of fear. Erik's pain and exhaustion over the last days had hurt Marciano as if it was his own pain and exhaustion, and he had mused for a long time whether or not he should address the delicate topic of his unfulfilled need again. Erik's scent had changed over the last days, taking on a sick note, and this had eventually made him talk about it again, hoping that Erik wouldn't take it as an offense but as a sign of his deep care about his well-being.

Never in his life would he have thought that Erik's problems came from his suppressed desire for him, and Marciano gently lifted his chin to look in those wonderful hazel-green depths, still fearing that he had misunderstood Erik's words, searching for answers in his hooded gaze.

“You desire me, Marciano? How can that be? I'm only human, not in the least as amazing and beautiful as you are. I'm weak and mortal, not even capable of defending myself against predators properly...” Erik now murmured, his eyes dark with longing as he peered at him from under his thick lashes. Marciano put his clawed finger onto his lips to silence him.

“You're not 'only' human, Erik. You're the bravest and strongest person I've ever met, and I admire and respect you more than I've ever respected or admired anybody else. You're loyal and you offered me your friendship where others would have tried to kill me. You are beautiful and amazing, and I desire you more than words can express.”

Erik raised his hand to touch him as well, his warm hand cupping Marciano's cooler cheek. “If this is really true, then I want to take you up on your offer to help me taking care of my needs, my beautiful Wraith. You are the only one who can quench the fire of my desire, and I want to be together with you and show you how much I long for your touch, Marciano.”

“I want that too, Erik.” Marciano unconsciously leaned in, not really knowing what he longed for. But when he felt Erik's soft lips on his own for the first time, he stopped thinking and let his human take the lead because he feared that he would hurt him if he was the one in charge of their first more intimate encounter.

“Do Wraith kiss?” Erik asked curiously, drawing back a little to look at him, and Marciano opened his golden eyes. “Some Wraith do, but I have never kissed before. You have to show me what to do.”

Erik's happy smile made him feel the sweet ache of desire and love in his heart and his groin, and he was happy that he had never kissed before when he saw how much it meant to his human to be the first one allowed to kiss him. “I will show you how wonderful it is to kiss,” the young captain promised, touching Marciano's mouth with his lips again. Marciano focused on the way Erik moved his lips upon his own, nibbling gently at his bottom lip, and he opened his mouth with a surprised sound when the tip of Erik's curious tongue slipped between his lips, eager to explore the soft cavern behind them for the first time.

Marciano was uncertain what to do and how to react to Erik's tender intrusion, fearing that he would hurt Erik with his sharp teeth, but the young man seemed to know what he was doing and what he wanted, and he flinched only slightly when he grazed Marciano's teeth with his tongue. He wrapped his arms around Marciano's neck, deepening their kiss, and the Wraith pulled him close and started to kiss his human back, his agile tongue mirroring eagerly what Erik was doing with growing courage.

They were both out of breath when they parted again, and Erik's desire was heavy in his nose and his sensor slits, thick on his tongue and making his head spin with a forceful wave of desire. “You're mine human!” Marciano growled ardently, and Erik's happy snicker tickled his neck where Erik was licking over the smooth skin of his vulnerable throat.

“Yes, I am. And you are mine, Wraith!” he said, his voice husky with desire and lust. Erik's erection was pressing against Marciano's hipbone, and the Wraith rose to his feet again to carry his willing prey into the cave where they would be more comfortable. The thick layer of leaves covering their makeshift bed protected Erik's skin when the Wraith began to undress him with impatient hands, and Erik let him do it, wriggling onto the mattress to make it easier for him. It didn't take long until their clothes lay in a pile on the floor of the cave next to the mattress, but Erik pushed against Marciano when he wanted to lie down beside him to cover him with his body, craving to feel his warm skin against his own.

Marciano rolled onto his back with a surprised “oh”, and Erik growled contentedly, straddling him with glowing eyes. The young man was so beautiful in his arousal, not ashamed of his nudity and his human body, his smooth pale skin flushed with his forceful desire and his lips swollen from their passionate kiss. His proud erection strained into the air between his legs, and Marciano admired the play of Erik's worked-out muscles under the shimmering skin, his desire for his beautiful human taking his breath away.

“I want to look at you, I want to see you, Marciano. I have dreamed of being allowed to explore you for so long!” Erik didn't wait for his answer but started to explore the powerful body of the alien male displayed before his admiring glances with rapt devotion. Marciano had been ashamed of his looks and his nature for so long that he had forgotten that he had once been a proud young male, sure of his own worth and appeal. Erik's hands were tender and passionate as they traveled over the landscape of the new and tempting territory his human wanted to claim, giving him back the long missed feeling that he was not ugly and despicable, but beautiful and desirable.

His human took his time to learn the secrets of his body by heart, to discover all the places where Marciano would react best to his caresses and moan and gasp for him when stroked there. “I want to pleasure you too, Erik!” the Wraith complained, and Erik bent down to kiss him tenderly on his lips.

“You can do that later, my wonderful Wraith, just let me explore you for a bit longer.” Marciano welcomed the cheeky tongue slipping into his mouth again with his own, burying his claws in the soft strands of Erik's shimmering hair while they kissed, dueling playfully with each other. Erik's hands were calloused from collecting firewood, berries and from the repairs of the radio device, feeling so perfect on his burning skin, their touch sending shivers of raw need through his entire body.

Marciano was hard and aching for his human, his urge to mark him as his for everyone else to see almost overwhelming him. He could see Erik's pulse throb under the fragrant rosy skin where a loving Wraith mate would leave their claim upon their consorts, and Marciano's throat tightened with longing and need. But he restrained himself, forcing his body to lie motionless instead of overpowering the human to just take him right there and then.

Erik was too precious to him to hurt him and take him against his will, and if the beautiful young man allowed him to take him, then it would be because he wanted it and not because Marciano had forced him to do so. Erik's fingertips left hot traces on his burning skin, kneading, stroking and teasing as they caressed Marciano's torso, his chest and his abs, following the lines of Marciano's tattoos on his left arm.

“This one looks like a lion,” Erik whispered rapturously, smiling when he met Marciano's hooded gaze. “A lion is a beautiful big cat living on Earth, a fierce predator. You remind me very much much of them. I hope that I will be able to show you lions one day, my beautiful Wraith. Do you have more tattoos? I know that a lot of your kin have tattoos enclosing their eyes.”

Marciano's words came out as a loud moan. “Yes, the high ranking officers. It's a sign of their ranks. As a Wraith, you have to earn your tattoos. I was too young to have more than those on my arm when I lost my Hive.” Erik must have noticed the sad undertone in his voice, because he didn't ask further questions, but lay down beside him to kiss him again.

“You are beautiful, Marciano, I desire you so much,” he murmured at his lips, and Marciano pulled him close, eager to lose himself in the human's warmth and tender embrace. It was a relief to stroke and touch him, and Erik's moans and sounds of pleasure assured him that his first shy attempts to return the favor and arouse the young man were successful and very much appreciated.

Erik's longing for him left damp traces on his skin where it was trapped between their bodies, poking against Marciano's abs, and the Wraith gave in to his overwhelming desire and enclosed the throbbing shaft with his off hand, stroking up and down on it, a little bit clumsily at first, but he soon found a rhythm that made Erik tremble in his arms. The young man cut his tongue again when he hungrily deepened their kiss, but he didn't draw back, pressing himself against Marciano with an ardent moan.

“Don't stop, it feels so good!” he begged, and Marciano growled passionately. “I won't stop, I want to hear you scream my name, human!”

Erik felt so perfect in his hand, hard and soft in all the right places, his velvet-like skin slippery with the pleasure their passionate encounter had milked from him, the hardness underneath throbbing and pulsing with Erik's desire for him. His scent was so strong now, making Marciano's own desire and longing rise to new levels, but he pushed Erik's hand away when he wanted to stroke him.

“You first,” he ground out, wanting to enjoy Erik's pleasure and ecstasy to the fullest. The young man was close, he could feel that, his manhood twitching in his fingers with his approaching orgasm. Marciano pulled back from his lips to watch his face, the trust and lust he could see there urging him on to move his hand faster.

The next up and down pushed Erik over the edge, and his human cried out when the sensations coursing through him became too much to bear, his entire body jerking and shuddering when he came hard, coating Marciano's hand with the evidence of his satisfaction in fast jets.

“Marciano, oh, Marciano!” Erik's hoarse cry was music in the Wraith's ears, and he growled, his hungry eyes fixed on Erik's beautiful features suffused with lust and ecstasy. He stroked him until Erik softened in his hand, relaxing with a small blissful sigh. Marciano used one of the leaves to clean his hand when it was over, waiting patiently for Erik to recover from his intense climax, even though he was aching with his own unfulfilled desire for his human.

They lay like this for a while until Erik opened his eyes to smile at him. “Wow, that was amazing.”

“Really?” Marciano couldn't help but ask, his heart making a happy flip when Erik's smile deepened. “Yes, really, thank you. Now it's my turn to make you scream my name, Wraith,” he purred, and he caught him by surprised when he shifted his weight to take his feeding hand.

“Can I touch you there?” Erik asked, and Marciano nodded, his mouth too dry to speak. The feeding organ was very sensitive and one of the most responsive erogenous spots of a Wraith, but it was also a source of terrible pain for humans, and he hadn't thought that Erik would want to touch it. Hot lips on the slit made him moan, and the slit opened when Erik dipped into it with his tongue with greatest care, teasing the organ until the enzyme began to drip out of it, moistening Marciano's palm.

The young Wraith lay there, his gaze glued to his hand and Erik's mouth on his palm, and he almost forgot his throbbing desire, crying out when Erik's other hand wrapped itself around it to stroke him in the same rhythm he caressed his feeding organ with his tongue.

Marciano arched into the touch with a loud moan, liquid fire coursing through his veins. Erik's fingers were so warm, so tender and skilled, finding the right pressure and pace with natural ease. Wraith were larger in size and had ridges on the underside of their manhood that were sensitive to being touched, and his human paid careful attention to them before circling the engorged head of his member with his thumb, never drawing back from his hand as he did so.

Hostile Wraith could have attacked them without Marciano noticing it, his world shrinking to the mattress and the wonderful young man snuggling close to him as he pleasured him with rapt devotion. The fire of his desire burnt higher and higher until Marciano thought that it would burn him, and the next stroke made him cry out and arch his back again.

Pleasure erupted from his exploding member, Erik's tongue still caressing his palm boosting his ecstasy to incredible heights. “Erik!” Marciano's shout echoed in the cave, and his human laughed breathlessly, caressing him until Marciano went limp in his arms, trying to catch his breath again.

Erik wiped his hand with the leaf Marciano had used and cuddled up against him, pillowing his head on Marciano's shoulder. The air of the late afternoon was warm enough for them not to need a cover, and Marciano took advantage of that and stroked Erik's lithe frame with lazy motions, purring contentedly into his ear.

“Are you happy, Marciano?” Erik raised his head to look at him, his eyes sparkling in a wonderful golden and green color, his lips curling into a soft and sated smile.

“Yes, I am happy, Erik. Very much. And you?” Marciano asked back, even though he could see the answer in his eyes. “Yes, I am, more than ever before. I am so happy that I've met you.”

Marciano considered him thoughtfully. “You surprise me again, human. I don't think that any other human living in the Pegasus Galaxy would be happy to be stuck on an unknown planet with a Wraith they have just met.”

Erik shrugged, grinning mischievously at him. “I can live with being different from all the others, I guess. I've dreamed of adventures when I came here, and this is for sure the biggest adventure of my life so far.” He turned serious, reaching out to stroke Marciano's face. “I believe you when you say that you won't feed on me, Marciano. I would let you do it, because the thought of having to live my life without you is scary and nothing I can stand.” He paused, chewing on his lip as he searched for the right words.

“You... you've said that you've lost your Hive, and that you don't have a home any longer. I want you to come with me, Marciano. Atlantis is a good place to live in, and I am sure that Colonel Sheppard and High Commander Todd will welcome you in our alliance and offer you a new home. Please, come with me and give us a try,” he said, looking at him so hopefully that Marciano wanted to cry.

He swallowed, and his voice was filled with regret and sadness when he looked up at Erik.

“I wished I could do that, Erik, I really do. But it simply isn't possible. I believe you when you say that Colonel Sheppard has changed and that Atlantis has become a real home for the Wraith of the Second Alliance. But I will never belong to them, not when Colonel Sheppard learns who I am. He will hate me for sure, and he would also hate you too if I stayed with you. Atlantis can never be my home, and I'll have to leave you when the Stardust comes to rescue you.”

Erik stared at him with eyes wide in shock, and Marciano felt like choking all of a sudden, almost jumping to his feet and running out of the cave, his only wish to bring as much distance between the young human and himself as possible.

Marciano ran into the forest, blind to his surroundings and deaf to Erik's desperate cries sounding after him in the quiet air of the peaceful and sunny afternoon.

Chapter Text

It was already dark when Erik found Marciano sitting on a large rock near the waterfall.

He had searched for him for hours after getting over his initial shock about the Wraith's violent reaction, and he silently wrapped the heavy coat around Marciano's motionless figure before sitting down on the rock beside him. Marciano hadn't bothered to dress again when he had run away from him, and Erik wanted to show him that he cared about his dignity, hoping that his Wraith would appreciate the gesture.

They sat in complete silence for a long time before Marciano turned his head to look at him, his hair shimmering silvery in the light of the large moon that belonged to this world.

“I'm sorry that I ran away,” Marciano broke the silence at last, his voice shallow and impassive.

Erik reached out to take his feeding hand in his own. The Wraith's skin was cold, and Erik cupped it with his free hand to warm it. “Don't be sorry, Marciano. I'm just glad that I've found you. I was so worried about you. I am sorry for having upset you so much. It's okay if you don't want to live in Atlantis with me.” Erik did his best to control his own voice and not let his Wraith see his deep hurt.

Marciano stared down at their entangled fingers, and Erik wondered briefly about the astonishing fact of how natural it felt to hold the Wraith's feeding hand like that, a hand that could easily rip the life out of him.

“It's not that I don't want to live with you in Atlantis, it's just that it's not possible. The Wraith I once was could perhaps have lived there with you, but the Wraith I am now will never have a real home again. I will always be an outlaw for the rest of my life, a hated and loathed outsider no one wants to welcome on their planet or on board their Hive.”

Erik felt fear rising in his guts at Marciano's words, fear that he would lose the one he loved more than anything before he'd even had the chance to tell his Wraith how much he loved him.

“You can't know that, Marciano. I don't care about what happened to you. I mean – I do care about the hurt and the harm that must have been done to you to talk like that about yourself – but nothing you could tell me will ever change how I feel about you. You are my Wraith, and nothing will ever change that.”

“You might think differently about that when you've heard my story,” Marciano said, and Erik squeezed his hand and smiled at him. “No, I won't. Please, tell me what's weighing on your mind so heavily. A shared burden weighs less than one you have to carry all alone. Let me prove to you that your trust in me is justified. I won't turn my back on you – no matter what you tell me. I have come to know you, and the Wraith you have become is the one I cherish and respect. Give me the chance to prove to you that the stories you've heard about us are not true, Marciano.”

The Wraith looked at him, drawing in a shaky breath. “Very well, Erik, listen to my story then. It's the story of a proud and arrogant young Wraith who thought that he was strong enough to defeat every enemy crossing his way. I've learned the hard way that there was one enemy I couldn't defeat, no matter how hard I tried.” Marciano went silent, and Erik's mouth was dry, his heart hammering hard and fast in his chest.

“Who was this enemy that was stronger than you?” Erik stared at him, and he knew the answer to his hoarse question before Marciano spoke up again.

“The Wraith-hybrid Michael Kenmore. Michael Kenmore was the enemy stronger than any human and any Wraith. He came to capture me, and he turned me into the creature I am now.”

The young captain swallowed. Michael Kenmore was still casting his dark shadow over an entire galaxy long after his death, and Erik tightened his grip around Marciano's clawed fingers, readying himself for what his Wraith was going to tell him.

 

-------------------------------

 

“You probably know that the Wraith Michael Kenmore had once been was transformed into a human male twice,” Marciano began to speak, his eyes staring into the darkness, but Erik was sure that his gaze was directed at something only he could see – the painful memories that haunted him so terribly. His multi-toned voice was shallow and husky, and Erik longed to take him in his arms, but he sensed that the Wraith didn't want to be held at the moment, even though his naked body was shivering despite the heavy coat Erik had draped around him. The cold he felt came from somewhere deep inside him, and Marciano wouldn't stop freezing until he had told the human sitting next to him the story that was slowly poisoning him.

“Yes, I know. I don't know the entire story, but I know that the retro-virus didn't work properly, and that they had to try it again,” he said, and Marciano smiled, but it was more a grimace than the beautiful lopsided smile Erik had come to love so much.

“Oh, the virus worked well, but it had to be injected on a regular basis to suppress the DNA of the Iratus bug, and Colonel Sheppard and Dr. Beckett had made the mistake of thinking that changing the body of a Wraith and erasing the memories of their former lives would be enough to turn them into 'real' humans. They had transformed the physical appearance and the metabolism of the Wraith they had caught, but they couldn't change their hearts and souls with the virus. Deep inside their souls and their minds, they were still Wraith, and discontinuing the injections for a short amount of time without their captors knowing about it was enough to let their Wraith nature rise back to the surface and take over control again.”

Marciano paused, and Erik dreaded his next words, but he would listen to his Wraith and not run away, no matter what the other male would tell him.

“Colonel Sheppard and the New Lanteans were the ones capturing and changing the Wraith into the hybrid Michael Kenmore, but his own race were the ones turning him into an outlaw who hated his former brethren even more than he hated the humans who'd done that to him. The queen and the crew of his Hive treated him with disgust and contempt when he came back to them, craving for their acceptance and love more than anything, and Michael swore to take revenge on both – the humans who had turned him into the creature he had become, and the Wraith who had rebuffed him because they feared and loathed him after his transformation.”

The Wraith went silent again, and Erik squeezed his fingers, not knowing what to say. He had heard stories about the Wraith-hybrid who had wanted to rule the entire galaxy, spreading fear and terror, and he had to admit that he had never seen Michael as a victim, but only as the despicable aggressor in all of this mess.

“Michael tried to find a new Hive he could ally with when the Hive that had been his home for so long abandoned him, but the queen was the older sister of his former queen, and she didn't offer him a new home but threw hateful words at him. He had already started his own research and experiments, and he was determined to create more hybrids to build his own Hive. Michael used the retro-virus Dr. Beckett had created and he changed it to make it work better than the original virus, testing it on humans and Iratus bugs, and he didn't spare his own race, but captured other Wraith to change them into hybrids as well.”

Erik gasped out in surprise, nobody had ever mentioned that Michael had transformed other Wraith.

Marciano turned his head to look at him, his eyes glowing in the darkness like precious jewels. “You didn't know that?”

Erik shook his head. “No. I don't think that Colonel Sheppard knows that, no one has ever mentioned any other Wraith-hybrids.”

Marciano nodded thoughtfully, staring down at their entangled fingers. “It makes sense, I guess. Michael most likely didn't want Atlantis and the other Hives to know about his new hybrid-race before he had finished his experiments with his former brethren. The humans he'd changed into those first horrible creatures were stronger than normal humans, but they lost their intelligence and were more animals than the skilled warriors he wanted to create, and they were still rather easy to defeat. Wraith on the other hand don't age and they are hard to kill when freshly fed. Michael wanted to combine the skills and features of both races, creating a new race that didn't depend on the feeding as much as Wraith do, but which possessed their strength, intelligence and long life-span.”

Erik could feel an ice-cold shiver run down on his spine as he realized what Marciano wanted to tell him. “Michael captured you to transform you.”

“Yes, he did.” Marciano nodded, his face shimmering white in the blackness of the early night. The moon wasn't visible, hidden behind a thick cloud, but Erik could see his chiseled features clearly despite the darkness, and Marciano's carefully controlled expression hurt him more than seeing anger and hate on his face would have.

Erik waited, wanting to tell his Wraith sitting there with slumped shoulders that he loved him so badly that he felt dizzy from the words he couldn't say out loud in this moment.

“Michael wanted to punish the sister of his former queen for her rejection, and he knew that taking her favorite son from her would be the revenge that would hurt her the most.”

Erik stared at Marciano in shock, but the Wraith ignored his horrified glance and just continued to speak. “I was very young, the long years of my adolescence still fresh in my memory. I had only served on the bridge for three years – which is a very short amount of time for a Wraith - and I was adventurous and arrogant, the spoiled young prince who felt invincible in his childish ignorance. The third-in-command had laid his eyes upon me not long ago, courting me and introducing me to the pleasures of intimacy.”

Erik flinched, and Marciano stroked the back of his hand with his clawed thumb in a brief gesture. “He was kind and patient, and I truly liked him, but I was too young and arrogant to know what true love is, and it was more of a pleasant game for me. I don't know if he wanted to claim me as his consort, but if he did, then he most likely sensed that I was too young to know what I wanted and therefore didn't offer his claim to me. Plus, my mother didn't really approve of our relationship, she would never have allowed him to become my mate.”

There was another long silence, and Erik wanted to cover his ears not to hear the rest of Marciano's story, but he gritted his teeth and held his ground. Marciano was the one who suffered deeply, needing him and his unquestioning support, and Erik wouldn't let him down.

“I'll spare you the details of how Michael captured me, they are not important. I was a young and far too arrogant prince, and capturing me was easy for him. He made sure that my mother knew what he had done, and I will never forget the expression on her face when she looked at me through the screen of Michael's audio-visual device. Michael only laughed when she threatened to kill him, telling her that her sweet little son would die a painful death if she dared to attack him, and this was the last time I saw her.”

Marciano's shoulders moved under the black coat when he drew in a deep breath. The cloud had rolled on, and the pale light of the moon shone onto the rock where they were sitting, bathing the Wraith in its cold silvery shine. Marciano looked like an ancient god to Erik, just as though Mars had come to life, a dangerous and beautiful warrior, ruler over the life and death of his faithful worshipers. Erik shivered, but he didn't move away from him, knowing deep in his heart that Marciano would never hurt him. He wrapped his free arm around Marciano's back, and the Wraith unconsciously leaned against him, seeking warmth and comfort as he relived the painful memories of his captivity.

“I wasn't the first Wraith Michael had captured, I was the eleventh. He called us by our numbers to differentiate us, refusing to bond telepathically with us. 'Number Eleven' was my name for a rather long time, the first name I had ever gotten. My lover, our third-in-command, had never been allowed to call me by a petname when we were together. Some Wraith do that when they are a couple, but I never wanted it, it was too human for my liking. Michael drew pleasure out of reducing us to our numbers, and I hated the 'name' he called me by more than I hated and feared his experiments.”

“I'm so sorry, Marciano. If I had known that, I would never have asked you to accept the name I'd chosen for you,” Erik whispered, his throat tight with unshed tears.

Marciano turned his head to smile at him, stroking his cheek. “Please don't be sorry, Erik. I love being Marciano for you, even if it can be only for a few days or weeks. Your name actually saved me. It makes me feel cherished and valued after the long time I'd felt like an ugly creature unworthy of being treated with respect and kindness. Your name makes me feel whole and as if I might have the chance of a better future again one day, and I love the name you gave me. Michael had stolen my identity when he'd caught me. I'm neither a real Wraith, nor a human, and I didn't know who I truly was anymore before I met you, but your name gave me a new identity. I am Marciano now, and this is who I will be in the future.”

Erik kissed Marciano on his cheek, and the Wraith pillowed his head on his shoulder. “Michael had changed the retro-virus, but he didn't want to transform us into real humans, and his first experiments had gone wrong, killing half of his Wraith prisoners. I was the strongest one of them, perhaps because of my youth. My body still remembered how to digest food and use it, and he spared me until he had found the perfect formula to turn me into the creature I am now. He combined the retro-virus with the Hoffanian disease, and most of the Wraith who had been left after his first experiments didn't survive the following treatment with the new injections. In the end, there were only two of us left, me and another Wraith from his birth Hive. Michael never changed our 'names' though, he always called me 'Number Eleven' when he came to me.”

“That's the reason for your resistance against the Hoffanian disease,” Erik said after a few seconds, his voice hoarse and shaky, and Marciano nodded again. “Yes, it is. I was terribly sick for days when he injected his new formula into me for the first time, but I survived, and he made me feed on some of the survivors of the disease after the tenth treatment. Nothing happened to me, I was immune against it, and this even when he discontinued the treatment after the fifteenth injection.”

“I'm glad that you survived, Marciano,” was all Erik could croak out, and the Wraith sighed. “I wasn't – back then. I wanted to die, I wanted the torture to end, but I am glad now – because of you, Erik. I am glad and grateful that we've met, that I've gotten the chance to realize that the stories Michael has told me about Atlantis and the New Lanteans are not true.” Marciano paused, and Erik simply squeezed his hands again, pulling him close. The shivering hadn't stopped, but it was less violent now, and Erik wanted to warm him with his own body like Marciano had done it for him during the nights.

“Michael must have kept the labs where he treated me and my brethren a secret, and he always put us into stasis when he left us. I don't even know how long I was his prisoner, he never told me how much time had passed when he came back. He wanted to capture more Wraith and make them like me the last time he left me – a creature that wasn't purely Wraith anymore, but also not really human. I am still Wraith when it comes to most things, I still have my telepathic abilities – not as good as before, but still.
I am even stronger than I'd been when I was still fully Wraith, and I don't age when I can feed. But I don't need to feed as often as Wraith have to, I can draw nutrients out of normal food and prolong the time-spans between the feeding considerably with that.
I am immune to the Hoffanian disease, and I haven't lost my knowledge or photographic memory, but my feelings have changed, and the human part of me hates the Wraith part for what it does to other humans. I am torn between two worlds, not really belonging to either of them, and I know that no Wraith will ever look at me again with anything else than disgust and fear. The same goes for humans, because I still have to feed on them if I don't want to die.”

“You belong to me, Marciano.” Erik searched for Marciano's amber-golden eyes in the darkness. “I don't really know or understand how you feel, and I can hardly imagine what you've gone through. But I know for sure that I belong to you and that you belong to me. You are not an ugly creature, you are Marciano, strong and brave, kind and sensitive. No Wraith of the Second Alliance will look at you with contempt, they are not like that.”

Marciano smiled, but it was a sad smile. “I am one of Michael's creatures, Erik. Colonel Sheppard will hate me for that – for the painful reminder I must be for him. He will never trust me, and I don't think that High Commander Todd will do that. I am a hybrid – not the same as Michael has been, but still. They will never welcome a hybrid in their midst, especially not one created by their worst enemy.”

Erik shook his head vigorously. “You wouldn't be the first hybrid of the Second Alliance, Marciano. Commander Alexandros and his consort Major Lorne have a sweet daughter. She is both Wraith and human, and everyone adores her. There is another couple having a baby soon, she is one of Colonel Sheppard's Marines, and her consort is a young Wraith of Commander Germanus' Hive. You will be welcome and loved, I know that!”

“Perhaps because they want to experiment with me because of my resistance, Erik. They won't forget that I came from one of Michael's labs, Erik.” It was obvious that Marciano couldn't believe Erik's words, not after all he'd been through. Erik wrapped both arms around his Wraith, and his voice was deadly serious when he said: “I would never allow them to experiment with you. Nor do I think that they would try to do that. You are not like Michael, not the least, and Colonel Sheppard will see that too when he talks to you. You are Marciano, not just any Wraith-hybrid, and you are a wonderful and trustworthy friend.”

There were still doubts visible in Marciano's eyes, but Erik could see the tiny sparks of hope in the beautiful amber-golden depths, and he smiled at his Wraith with all the love he felt for him. “Please come with me, Marciano, let me prove to you that there is a place for you to live in peace and safety. Give Atlantis the chance to become your new home. No one will mistreat you or hate you there. The city is a wonderful place to live in, and I am convinced that she will welcome you – just like all the humans and Wraith living there – together and in harmony. But if you don't want that, if you really can't do that, then let me come with you. I don't care where I live as long as I can be together with you. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is with you. I love you, Marciano, and nothing will ever change my love for you.”

Erik was out of breath after his little speech, and his heart was hammering in his chest as he looked at the other male, waiting for his reaction.

Marciano stared at him for a long moment before reaching out, touching his burning cheek with a trembling hand. “You love me, Erik?” he asked, and Erik's eyes sparkled when he pulled him close to kiss him.

“Yes, I love you, my beautiful Wraith, more than anything. Come back to our cave and let me show you how much I love you, Marciano.”

Chapter Text

Marciano couldn't believe his ears, fearing that they were playing tricks on him. But Erik's beautiful eyes were sparkling with love and passion, and the young Wraith finally dared to hope that the knowledge of who and what he was wouldn't repulse his beautiful human.

“How can you say that after all the terrible things you've just heard about me?” Marciano asked nonetheless, and Erik kissed him again, cupping his face with his hands when he looked him deep in the eyes. “I haven't heard anything terrible about you, my beloved Marciano. My heart aches for you because of the terrible things you had to endure – losing your home and your family, being held captive for so long and having been tortured like that.
But none of these things were your own doing, Marciano. Yes, you were young, ignorant and arrogant – just like any other young male in this universe who is on the verge of adulthood. I was just like you a couple of years ago: young, ignorant, proud and overbearing, and I still am all of this now and then. Being young and proud is not a crime, and it's certainly nothing I would ever condemn you for. On the contrary, my admiration and respect for you are even greater than before, and I am so deeply grateful that you survived and that I got to know you.”

“I am grateful that I got to know you too, Erik.” Marciano let himself be held and kissed, warmth filling every cell of his body, Erik's love chasing the cold he'd felt for so long away. Erik's kiss was tender and Marciano inhaled his wonderful scent, a tempting mixture of healthy young man and sun-kissed skin, Erik's special and unique natural perfume tasting so deliciously on his tongue.

The Wraith felt new desire for his amazing human, but he wanted to finish his story before giving in to Erik's alluring offer, wishing to ease the weight of the heavy burden that had been pressing down on him for so long.

“Michael put me and the other Wraith back into stasis after finishing his last series of tests, telling us that he would come back with more Wraith and that we would soon have a new Hive and another family again. But he never came back. I don't know how much time passed or what went wrong, but it was probably a malfunction of the stasis pods caused by an earthquake. The planet he had chosen as a perfect hiding place for his special prisoners must be one of the most seismically active planets in the entire galaxy, probably the reason why he'd chosen it.
There had been several minor earthquakes before, none of them endangering the labs, but this one must have been severe. I was lucky that I managed to escape my pod, and the lab was a mess when I found my way to the hangar where he kept the Darts of the Wraith he'd captured. I tried to find the other Wraith, Michael had always called him 'Number Twenty-five', but he wasn't there.
Another earthquake forced me to leave the labs before I had the chance to search for him in the other tunnels, and I was lucky that I made it to the Darts. Most of them were damaged, but a few were still intact, and I took one of them and left the planet. Ever since then, I've been hiding on inhabited planets I knew from my time on board my birth Hive, only leaving my hiding places when I had to feed. Sometimes I stayed longer in one of the worlds I visited to feed to gather information, always fearing that Michael was still alive and searching for me. A few months ago, I finally heard stories about his death and about an alliance between Atlantis and several Hives, but that was all I knew before you told me more about the Second Alliance.
Wraith measure time differently than humans do, but I think that I lived this way for a time span of perhaps two years, and I only left my hiding places when I was close to starving. It was the same a few weeks ago when I visited another world in order to feed again. I had to flee from the planet because of hostile Wraith showing up there unexpectedly.
I didn't have time to set a less dangerous course, and I dropped out of hyper space right before the big blue star. Michael had increased the range of the Darts, but I still needed to find Stargates when I wanted to cross the galaxy, and the next Stargate I wanted to use was only a few light years away from the blue sun. I hadn't paid attention to the display, and the solar flares hit me by surprise. I tried to escape into hyper space again, but something went wrong and I was thrown across half of the galaxy just to crash here. I tried to repair my Dart, and I had resigned myself to the fate of spending the last months of my miserable life here on this planet, alone and without any chance to ever get away from here again. I had just given up all hope, and the very next day you crashed here too and offered me an alliance.”

Marciano felt exhausted after his long speech, but it was also as if a huge rock had been lifted from his shoulders. Erik stroked his face with his thumbs, and his gaze was dark with sympathy. “And I am happy that I did, because the mere thought of you being here all alone and without any hope of a real future makes me want to cry, Marciano. You must have been incredibly lonely, my beloved Wraith. Having to hide yourself on deserted planets in order not to get caught, longing for a loving mind to touch you. I'm not Wraith, only human, but I love you with all my heart, and I promise you that you will never be alone and lonely again as long as I live and breathe.”

The Wraith took his young man in his arms to kiss him. “You're not 'only' human, Erik. You are wonderful, amazing, so much more than I could ever have dreamed of, and I love you too. More than anything.”

His amazing human winked at him, his beautiful smile enlightening his handsome features. “I can see that you love me, but some more tangible proof of your love for me wouldn't hurt. Why don't you come back with me and prove your famous Wraith stamina to me? I've heard a lot of stories about it in Atlantis.” Erik asked in a cheeky voice, and Marciano growled with both annoyance and pleasure. “I'm only partly Wraith, remember?”

Erik chuckled, a throaty sound that went straight into the Wraith's groin. “You're Wraith enough for me – so stop pretending that you're not. I expect you to make me scream with desire tonight – Wraith!”

“This can be arranged, human!” Marciano snarled ardently, rising to his feet and scooping his cheeky human up in his arms to carry him back to the cave.

Erik squeaked in surprise, wrapping his arms around Marciano's strong neck, and their happy laughter was still audible when they were long gone, echoing in the cool night air until the last notes finally faded.

 

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Marciano carried him back to the cave in record time, and Erik was already starting to undress the second his feet touched the ground again, crazy with longing and need to feel his beloved Wraith close and make love to him, ripping his uniform from his burning with desire body with impatient movements. His clothes landed on the floor of the cave in a crumpled pile, and Erik pulled Marciano to their makeshift bed with another breathless chuckle.

The heavy coat fell down from Marciano's shoulders next to the mattress, pooling around his feet, his Wraith standing there in all his glorious alien beauty. His pale skin was shimmering in the moonlight, and Erik took in the sight of male gorgeousness, anticipation tingling deep in his belly. A strong wave of possessiveness surged through the young man when he reached out to caress the chiseled lines of Marciano's breast muscles and abdomen, making him growl and his eyes glow with passion. This amazing being was only his to touch and caress, his to love and cherish, and Erik wouldn't let anybody else come near his Wraith without fighting them.

“You are mine, Marciano,” he whispered against his lips, claiming the Wraith's mouth in a searing kiss. Marciano kissed him back with the same passion and longing, pulling him close to his naked body. Erik shivered when his burning flesh came in contact with Marciano's cooler skin, but he didn't draw back instead pressing himself harder against the Wraith's lithe frame, his fingers buried in Marciano's long silvery mane.

“And you belong to me, Erik. I will always cherish and love you, I promise you,” Marciano murmured as he very carefully lowered both of them down on the mattress. Their hard cocks rubbed against each other when the Wraith covered him with his body, and a loud moan escaped Erik's lips. He was so hard and aching for his Wraith, craving to feel Marciano deep inside him and become one with him in every possible way. Erik longed to become Marciano's chosen consort, but he knew that it was too early for that. His Wraith needed more time to learn that he could trust him, and Erik would wait patiently until Marciano was ready to claim him, but he really needed to be close to him.

The young captain pulled at the feeding hand of his beloved Wraith to caress the feeding organ with his lips and his tongue, hoping that it would produce enough enzyme they could use as lube. Marciano moaned and shivered with desire, his eyes glowing golden in the dark cave when Erik dipped his tongue into the sensitive slit. It didn't take long until a generous amount of enzyme coated Marciano's palm, and Erik slicked his fingers with the shimmering liquid to prepare himself hastily.

His Wraith watched him curiously for a moment before kissing him again, mirroring with his tongue what Erik was doing with his fingers. Erik stroked Marciano with his left hand, caressing and teasing the spots within his reach with rapt devotion. The other male returned the favor with passion and curiosity, stroking his body with tender hands. Marciano was very careful not to hurt Erik with his sharp claws, but he grazed the insides of his thighs with his nails in a playful manner, pulling more moans and gasps from his human. Erik loved what his Wraith did to him, dwelling in the dangerous caresses in the knowledge that Marciano would never really hurt him.

His hard shaft was throbbing and leaking milky droplets against Marciano's hipbone, and Erik's entire body jerked when he brushed over the sensitive bundle of nerves deep inside him for the first time, his quivering channel trying to swallow his fingers deeper.

“I love you, Marciano, I love you so much. I think I've fallen in love with you right at first sight,” Erik murmured against his lips, and his Wraith growled and deepened their kiss again, his agile tongue licking over the soft flesh of his cheeks and the sensitive roof of his mouth until Erik's mind was spinning with raw desire.

The young man pulled his fingers out when he deemed himself ready to take his beloved Wraith in, using the enzyme again to spread it over Marciano's impressive length. The other male buried his face on Erik's shoulder when Erik's warm fingers touched him where he was hard and ready for him. Shivers of arousal were running through his body when Erik caressed the sensitive ridges at the underside of his manhood, and his claws dug involuntarily into Erik's shoulder, but Erik didn't mind the slight pain. It only served to spur him on, and he spread his thighs invitingly, taking Marciano's face in his hands to make him raise his head.

“I want you to take me, Marciano, and I want to look in your eyes when you're taking me,” he said, and the Wraith opened his glittering amber-golden eyes to return his loving gaze.

“I love you, Erik,” he said, his multi-toned voice filled with wonder and desire, and Erik smiled at him, his chest swelling with the love he felt for the amazing being trembling in his arms. “Love you too, very much, my beautiful Wraith. Take me, don't let me wait any longer! I need you inside me!”

They never broke eye-contact when Marciano gently pushed in, slowly and carefully breaching the tight rim that clenched around the tender intruder. Erik had had two serious relationships before he had come to Atlantis, and he wasn't a virgin and untouched, but Marciano was Wraith and larger in size than any human male, and he gasped out loud at the burn he felt between his thighs. The enzyme had a numbing effect and it didn't burn as much as Erik had thought it would, but he was grateful that Marciano stilled when he was halfway inside him, giving Erik the time he needed to adjust to his size.

The young man focused on the beautiful face above him, losing himself in the deep love displayed on Marciano's expressive features. They lay like this for a moment, savoring their closeness with awe and wonder. Erik inhaled and exhaled a few times to relax his muscles, and he wrapped his long legs around Marciano's back when the discomfort of being stretched to his limits turned into intense pleasure after some time, making him arch his back with need and lust.

The Wraith captured his lips in another ardent kiss with a low growl and started to move, pushing all the way in until he was buried to the hilt inside Erik, his tongue thrusting deep into his mouth. Erik pulled roughly at the long silken strands to urge his passionate Wraith lover on, and they found a rhythm that suited them both after two or three attempts, Marciano driving in and out of him with wanton abandon.

Erik's hard cock brushed against the Wraith's slippery well-toned abs with every powerful thrust, getting the friction he needed there so badly. Marciano reached his sweet spot easily with his long and thick manhood, and stars exploded before Erik's eyes every time he thrust in, hot jolts of pleasure shooting through his groin. Marciano filled him so utterly and perfectly, making Erik feel whole for the first time in his life.

The young man hadn't known that he had been missing something until Marciano had come into his life, filling the hole in Erik's heart with his love and his passion. Marciano's scent enclosed Erik like a soft bubble, and he could feel his Wraith everywhere inside and around him, his fingers digging into the Wraith's scalp to pull him closer and kiss him deeper when he felt his climax approach.

Marciano was throbbing and pulsing inside him, growing harder and thicker with every powerful thrust. The Wraith was making purring sounds of pleasure in his throat, and Erik moaned and gasped into his mouth, his body moving frantically of its own will.

“Love you, need you, want you so!” Erik didn't recognize his own voice, so raw with need and desire, but he didn't care about how he sounded, all he cared about was how wonderful his Wraith felt inside him. Marciano moved faster, chasing his own height, and Erik arched his back into his next thrust as he lost himself in the throes of passion, spilling hot and wet between their connected bodies. His walls massaged Marciano's cock with every new wave of pure blissful ecstasy washing over him, and Erik was vaguely aware of Marciano filling him with his seed in several hot spurts.

Erik had never experienced such intense pleasure before, and he clung to the Wraith's shoulders, fearing that he would explode right there and then if he didn't have something to hold on to. Marciano pressed him close, shuddering and shivering above him through his own forceful climax. It was wonderful, magical, and Erik muffled his cry of satisfaction on Marciano's throat, trying to catch his breath when it was finally over and the hot ecstasy faded to the soft waves of warm afterglow.

It was the first time Erik had come untouched, and he was grinning stupidly and blissfully when Marciano raised his head to look down at him. “That was mind-blowing, my beloved Wraith, absolutely mind-blowing,” Erik whispered, pulling his head down to kiss him. Marciano smiled down at him, and his face showed the expression of a contented tomcat that had just drained a bowl filled with delicious cream.

“Yes, it was. You're amazing, Erik, I didn't know that I could feel the way you make me feel. I think I have waited for you for all of my life without even knowing it. You saved me when I had lost all hope, and I love you, Erik.” Marciano said, shifting his weight until they lay snuggled against each other on their sides, still connected deeply with each other. He reached out to pull the heavy coat over their slowly cooling bodies, and Erik sighed contentedly and cuddled up against his Wraith, kissing the fragrant skin under his lips.

“I want to believe that you saved me just as much, Marciano. I came to Atlantis because I was searching for something, even though I didn't know what it was, and I felt restless and feared that I would never find it. But then I crashed here and found you. I have never truly believed in fate, but I am convinced that fate brought us together, and that I heard Atlantis calling out for me over the huge distance between two galaxies because you were waiting here for me.” Erik searched for Marciano's amber-golden cat's eyes. “That sounds pathetic, I know. But it's how I feel.”

Marciano shook his head. “You don't sound pathetic, Erik. I do believe that fate has brought us together as well, and I am so grateful that it did.” The Wraith stroked his face and kissed him, deeply and passionately, his love for him so palpable in his kiss and his tender embrace. Erik closed his eyes and let himself be carried away by Marciano's love and passion, knowing for sure that he would never forget this magical night in the cave of an inhabited planet when his Wraith had made love to him for the very first time.

Chapter Text

The following days were the happiest days of Erik's life, feeling more like vacation than being stuck on an unknown planet and having to wait for rescue.

Marciano was always up when Erik opened his eyes after their passionate nights, their breakfast already waiting for him, and the only thing Erik really missed was a huge pot of hot and strong coffee, but Marciano's smile made up more than enough for the lack of it, and their laughter echoed in the cave when they teased each other, munching away on their berries and vegetables.

Erik felt strong enough to join his Wraith on his daily walks to the Dart Fighter, setting up another transmission and checking the hyper radio device for new messages from the Stardust. Colonel Manderley, the commander of the Stardust, had been forced to hide his ship in a close orbit around a large star for almost twenty hours the previous day because of four hostile Wraith Hives operating in the region he needed to cross to get to their planet. Erik didn't really mind the delay in their rescue, all too happy to spend another day with Marciano alone and undisturbed in their cave before they had to face the rescue party and answer their understandable but probably rather intrusive questions.

The Stardust was actually fast enough to escape the normally much slower Hives without any difficulty, but the experienced colonel didn't want to take the risk and lead the Hives to this planet, and fighting against them would almost certainly result in serious damage to the Stardust - not to mention the conflict between the Second Alliance and the other Wraith living in Pegasus such an action would arouse.

Erik and Marciano didn't talk about it, but the young man was sure that his Wraith felt the same way about the delay, and Marciano's happy smile when they stopped near the caves where Max and Hannes lived told him that he was right with his assumption.

Hannes and Max chirped and squeaked excitedly when they saw their friends, scampering around them in large circles to greet them. Erik sat down on the grass with crossed legs, and Hannes hopped onto his lap, bracing his tiny front paws against Erik's chest to let himself be stroked. Max did the same with Marciano, sniffing expectantly at the Wraith's palm for the berries they had collected on their way back to the mountains.

Marciano chuckled, opening his hand to let his tiny friend nibble at the fruits. “You're already too lazy to collect berries yourself, Max, aren't you?” he chided the Pegasus rabbit in a tender voice that betrayed his joy about Max's behavior. “You know that you just have to wait for us to get your lunch without having to strain yourself!”

Max didn't honor the Wraith's dry remark with any kind of reaction, curling himself up on Marciano's thighs when the last berry had found its way into his belly to close his eyes and take a nap. Marciano shook his head with an amused grin, leaning against the warm stone behind his back and closing his eyes as well.

Erik watched him stroke Max's back with his off hand for a while, carding his fingers absently through Hannes' soft golden-brown fur. Hannes purred contentedly in his slumber, and Erik felt melancholy all of a sudden, the thought of having to leave this peaceful world again forming a lump in his throat. It was such a beautiful planet, and Erik hoped that they could come back one day and explore it further.

Even the kangaroo-bears didn't scare him any longer, not with Marciano by his side. They had seen two or three of them on their trips to his Dart Fighter, but the predators hadn't tried to attack them, only watched them attentively from the distance. Marciano defeating one of their kind had obviously proved to them that it was better to stay away from the tall beings walking on two legs instead of four, and Erik was all too happy that they didn't need to kill these amazing animals to defend themselves.

The afternoon went by quickly, and Max and Hannes chirped their goodbyes before scampering back to their own kin. Erik and Marciano made their way back to the plateau to get ready for the night, smiling at each other now and then, but neither of them was in the mood to talk, and the young man with the hazel-green eyes enjoyed the comfortable silence between them.

The Stardust would arrive within the next two days if everything went according to plan, and Erik wanted to make the best out of their time together before they had to leave their shelter and fly back to Atlantis.

“What do you think of taking a nightly bath?” he asked when they were cleaning the cave together after the delicious dinner Marciano had cooked for them from the bean-like vegetables and the mushrooms they had collected and dried in the sun.

“A nightly bath sounds tempting, human!” Marciano bared his teeth to a predatory grin, his amber-golden eyes darkening with his strong desire for Erik. Wraith had indeed a lot of stamina, and Marciano didn't grow tired of proving to his human how much he desired and loved him when they lay snuggled close together on their cozy makeshift bed.

“I actually meant taking a bath to get clean, my horny Wraith.” chuckled Erik when he saw the hungry look on the Wraith's face, but he wasn't really opposed to the idea of doing more than just bathing in their lake. The days and nights had become warmer after the last storm, and Erik was very much looking forward to washing the dust and sweat away in the cool water of the lake that their long walk had left on his skin.

Marciano's hungry look had the usual effect on his body, and Marciano let out a low growl when the pheromones of human arousal perfumed the fragrant air of the warm evening. The Wraith put the palm-like branch he'd used to sweep the floor of the cave aside, slowly creeping up on his willing prey with desire and hunger written all over his alien male features.

“I'm positive that my advances are actually very much appreciated, human. Stop your weak attempts to deny the obvious because I know you well enough to see right through you!” Marciano purred with glittering eyes, making a sudden and unexpected move to throw the young man over his shoulder and set off towards the lake.

Erik let out a sound of indignation, but his Wraith ignored his attempts to free himself, just wrapped his arm around his backside to carry him along the small path, totally unfazed by Erik's protest. Erik sighed and finally stopped his wriggling, resigning himself to his fate of being carried like a wet sack as he knew for sure that his beloved golden Wraith lion would more than make up for this treatment when they reached the lake.

 

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The inhuman Wraith strength came in handy once more half an hour later when Marciano lifted his human up without any visible sign of exertion to lower him down on his aroused cock, standing in the middle of the small lake with spread legs to keep his balance. Erik moaned ardently when Marciano's impressive length filled and stretched him so perfectly, the cool water reaching to their waists sloshing around them in gentle waves, cooling their bodies flushed with passion and desire.

Erik wrapped his arms tightly around Marciano's neck as they started to rock back and forth against one another, their lips glued to each other in a deep and passionate kiss. The Wraith kept him upright with ease, careful not to hurt him with his sharp claws, and the young man dug his heels into the strong-muscled backside of his ardent Wraith lover, the tension in his groin demanding release from the sweet torture of their lovemaking.

“I want you, my beautiful Wraith, I want you so much!” Erik's hoarse words were swallowed by their kiss, vibrating in his chest like soft purrs, and Marciano answered with a growl, pressing him closer with his off hand wrapped around Erik's hips. They moved against each other in a steady rhythm, chasing their release together, and Marciano snaked his feeding hand between their wet bodies when he felt his human getting close to stroke him to completion in time of his thrusts.

Heavy shivers ran down on Erik's spine, his desire and need making his mind spin. The milky fluid his throbbing cock leaked against Marciano's hard abs intermingled with the cool water and the enzyme dropping out of the feeding slit like it always did when Marciano was aroused, making it easy for his Wraith to pleasure him.

Erik liked how the enzyme tingled on his tongue when he caressed Marciano's feeding hand, and he had mused about sharing life-force with his Wraith over the last days but had been too shy to ask him about it, fearing that his beloved space vampire would decline his wish. Marciano hadn't made any attempt to do that so far either, perhaps because doing that during their lovemaking could easily lead to Erik becoming Marciano's chosen consort – forming a bond between them that could never be undone again.

Erik wanted to become Marciano's chosen consort more than he had ever wanted anything else in his life, but he wasn't so sure that the Wraith shared his feelings in this delicate matter. He hoped that Marciano would want to become his mate one day, and he was determined to prove to the other male that he was worthy to be a Wraith's chosen consort, no matter what he had to do to convince Marciano that his love was strong enough to overcome every obstacle that lay between them and their happiness.

Long fingers stroking up and down on him where he was so hard and aching distracted him from his thoughts, and the cool water caressing his heated flesh just added to the breathtaking sensations coursing through him. Erik moaned, searching for Marciano's lips again, and the Wraith kissed him with unrestrained passion, growing harder and bigger deep inside Erik's quivering channel. The Wraith seemed to thrust right into his soul with every powerful push in, reaching deeper than Erik had thought it possible, stimulating his sweet spot with every move until all Erik wanted to do was scream with desire. Marciano was everywhere inside and around him, holding him safe in his arms and stroking him passionately, and Erik threw his head back when he reached the height of absolute ecstasy with the next thrust, spilling hot and wet between their bodies.

Marciano followed him over the edge with a snarl, spurting hard against Erik's walls milking his orgasm from him. The two so different beings savored their shared pleasure to the fullest, gasping, moaning and shuddering with every new wave coursing through them. Erik didn't want this to end, he wanted to stay like this forever, united with the one that had become the center of his world so quickly, but the cool water made him shiver when the heat of their desire slowly faded, and the young man didn't object when Marciano carried him back to the shore.

“I love you, my wonderful Wraith,” whispered Erik against Marciano's lips, and his Wraith smiled at him with sparkling golden eyes. “I love you too, my beautiful Erik, I love you very much.”

 

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“I want you to share life-force with me.”

Erik's quiet voice rose Marciano from his light slumber of satisfaction, and the Wraith turned his head to look at the young man. They were still naked, lying on the meadow in a cozy nest of leaves he had made for them to protect them from the soft nightly breeze, the stars blinking down at them looking like tiny precious jewels in the velvety blackness of the dark sky.

Erik had raised his head from where he had pillowed it on his shoulder – the shoulder with the tattoo that reminded the young man of a lion as he had told him a couple of days ago. Erik spent a lot of time with tracing his tattoos with his lips, apparently deeply fascinated by them.

“You do?” Marciano asked taken aback. “Really?”

Erik nodded vigorously. “Yes, I want you to show me how it feels to share life-force with a Wraith. With you – my Wraith. I don't know much about it, but I know that it is important and pleasurable for your kin – especially during lovemaking. I want to experience your Wraith way of making love with you.” His cheeks were burning in the wonderful pink Marciano had become addicted to, and he looked uncertain but didn't try to avert his eyes, meeting Marciano's gaze with the astonishing courage he had shown right from the beginning of their acquaintance.

Marciano swallowed. Erik sounded so sincere and honest, but he had come to Pegasus only a couple of weeks ago, and the Wraith didn't think that Erik could really comprehend the consequences of his offer. Sharing life-force when they slept with each other could lead to Marciano claiming Erik as his chosen consort accidentally if he wasn't careful enough, and the Wraith didn't want to force the young man into such a binding relationship. The chances that Colonel Sheppard wouldn't offer him a new home in Atlantis but send him away were not as small as Erik wanted to believe, and Marciano simply couldn't condemn him to live the life of an outlaw at the side of his mate for the rest of his life. The young Wraith wanted nothing more than to claim Erik as his beloved consort, but Erik's happiness mattered more to him than his own, and being a hated outsider would make Erik unhappy sooner rather than later.

Erik's eyes became dark with disappointment when Marciano didn't answer, but only regarded him with a carefully controlled expression. “You don't want that. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked,” he said, trying to turn away from him to hide his hurt from the Wraith.

Marciano gently pulled him back, stroking his cheeks with the back of his feeding hand. “I want that too, more than anything, Erik. But I don't trust myself enough to hold back. I desire you so much, and I love you more than anything. Sharing life-force with you could easily end in me claiming you as my chosen consort without your consent, and this kind of relationship is the most binding one known in two galaxies and can't be undone anymore. It would mean that you have to live the life of an outlaw at my side if Colonel Sheppard refuses to let me stay in Atlantis.”

Erik's eyes sparkled with defiance when he looked at him. “Yes, I know that, Marciano. I'd rather live my life as an outlaw at your side than lose you. Home is where the heart is, and my heart belongs to you - now and forever. You are my home, and this will never change. I don't ask you to claim me as your chosen consort here and now, I know that trust doesn't come easily to you after all you've been through, and forming such a strong bond requires a lot of trust. I only ask you to show me the pleasure and intimacy of sharing my life-force with you. But if this leads to us becoming true mates, then I'll be a very happy chosen consort, don't you doubt that.”

“You really mean it.” Marciano's voice was filled with wonder, and he pulled his beloved human close. “I trust you with my heart and my life, Erik. There is no other living being in this universe I trust more than I trust you. I just don't want to force you into something you will regret later. You are stuck here with me, and I know that you were merely trying to find a way to survive and keep me from feeding on you when you offered me your friendship. I wouldn't be angry with you if your feelings for me came only from your wish to survive and not from true love.”

“That's not the reason why I love you.” Erik's voice was firm, and his eyes were sparkling again when he returned Marciano's gaze. There was no doubt left that he meant what he said, and Marciano's heart swelled in his chest with the deep love he felt for this astonishing human being.

“I've been in love with someone before I came here and met you, and I know the difference between being in love and loving someone with all my heart the way I actually love you, Marciano. You don't have to fear that my love for you will die when we leave this planet. My place is at your side, no matter where fate will lead us. I'll surely miss my family and my friends if Colonel Sheppard decides to send us away, but I will never stop loving you or regret that I went with you.”

The young Wraith felt new desire for his human course through his veins at Erik's love confession, a powerful wave that made his mind spin and his manhood grow hard between his legs. The feeding organ started to open and pulse in anticipation, enzyme moistening his palm.

Marciano had never felt more like a real Wraith before than he felt in this moment – even not when he had still been on board his Hive before Michael Kenmore had trapped him, using him for his experiments and turning him into the hybrid he was now. His human side wasn't as strong as Michael's human side had been, but he was too human to be accepted by his brethren, too Wraith for humans to accept him – rejected by everyone except for Erik.

His wonderful human accepted and loved him the way he was, and Marciano longed to claim him and take him as his chosen consort so badly that he could hardly breathe anymore. He stared up at the beautiful young man with burning eyes, fearing that this wasn't real but only a wonderful dream he would wake up from any time soon.

“Do you really want to become my chosen consort, Erik? Do you really want me to claim you?” he whispered hoarsely, time standing still as he waited anxiously for Erik's answer.

Chapter Text

“Yes, Marciano, I want to become your chosen consort now!” Erik whispered, “I want you to be my true mate more than I've ever wanted anything else in my life!”

The young captain hadn't even finished his sentence when the snarling Wraith was already all over him, pressing him down onto the cozy nest of grass and leaves with his body. Erik didn't feel any fear that the other male would hurt him though, he sensed that Marciano's violent reaction to his confession came from his deep love and passion for him and not from the Wraith wanting to hurt him.

Erik went pliant in his arms, opening his thighs for his beloved Wraith, and Marciano's ardent kiss distracted him from the slight burn of the first intrusion when Marciano pushed into him again, slick with his forceful desire for his human and the enzyme that dripped out of the feeding slit.

“I'll make you mine, human! You're mine, only mine! Nobody else will ever touch you again!” Marciano's voice was only a hiss, and Erik chuckled at his lips, trying to remember the last time he'd been as happy as he was now. He failed of course because he'd never felt the way he felt right now before, his heart singing with joy and happiness and his body burning for his wonderful mate.

Erik hadn't known this side of his Wraith, he hadn't known how possessive and dominant Marciano could be, his eyes glowing dark gold with his urge to claim his human as his consort and make sure that no other Wraith or human would ever come near him again.

The young man had to admit that he loved this territorial and possessive side of the Wraith pushing into him over and over again, it made him feel loved and special, safe and cherished. Erik bucked his hips into the powerful thrusts, and he shivered with anticipation when Marciano shifted his weight above him to snake his feeding hand between their bodies and press it against Erik's sternum. He had heard rumors about the Gift of Life and sharing life-force, but these rumors mostly came from the New Lanteans who didn't have a Wraith mate, while those who had only smiled and shrugged their shoulders, saying that there were no proper words to describe the experience.

Erik still wasn't afraid that Marciano would hurt him, and he didn't try to pull away from the hand on his chest, Marciano's hoarsely whispered “I love you, my beautiful Erik,” assuring him that he had nothing to fear. His neglected cock rubbed against Marciano's abdomen, and Erik thought that he wouldn't come together with his Wraith this time, still sated from his forceful orgasm not long ago. Marciano was already close, throbbing frantically deep inside Erik's passage, growing harder with every desperate thrust, and Erik sensed that it wouldn't take long until the Wraith would come for a second time.

He soon realized that he had been wrong with thinking that they wouldn't come together this time though, the delicious rush of precious energy surging through him all of a sudden making him arch his back and cry out. Erik didn't feel the slight sting when Marciano bit down, the sensations of hot pleasure and pure life spreading out into every cell of his body too overwhelming to feel anything else.

The young man cried out again, unconsciously offering his throat to his Wraith when he threw his head back in ecstasy, and Marciano growled fiercely, bending down to sink his sharp teeth into the delicate fragrant skin of his chosen consort. The pain of Marciano's bite intermingled with the hot pleasure of the Gift of Life pushed Erik over the edge and right into sweet oblivion with the next thrust. His release coated their connected bodies in fast jets, and the Wraith snarled ardently when he sensed Erik's pleasure, letting go of his iron self-control and filling his human with his seed. Marciano's height prolonged Erik's pleasure, and he clenched his walls around the Wraith's cock to milk the last drop out of him, craving to be filled and possessed until there wouldn't be any doubt left as to whom he belonged to.

“Love you, love you so much, Marciano.” Erik wrapped his arms and his legs around the trembling Wraith when it was over, the desperate sucking at his neck fading until it finally stopped, Marciano's lips soothing the small wounds his sharp teeth had left with tender kisses. Erik would wear this mark proudly and without shame, the visible proof that he had found his true mate and would never be lonely again.

“Love you, Erik.” Marciano pulled his hand back from Erik's chest and raised his head to look at Erik's chest. The wound where he had bitten down with the feeding organ was already closing, the red lines healing to thin white ones, and Marciano pressed gentle kisses onto Erik's sternum as well, smiling at the young man when he looked at him again.

“Every Wraith living in this galaxy will know that you are taken as the chosen consort of another Wraith from now on, Erik. Our scents changed when I gave you the Gift of Life during our mating, and the mark on your throat will tell each human living in Pegasus that you have a Wraith as your loving and caring mate.”

“So I am yours now, and you are mine, Marciano!” Erik could be pretty possessive too, and Marciano chuckled when he saw the look in the beautiful hazel-green depths of his beloved human. “Yes, I am yours just as much. You don't need to fear that I shall so much as look at anybody other than you.”

Erik grinned, pulling Marciano's head down to kiss him. Their tongues dueled playfully for dominance as they kissed each other, their bodies humming with satisfaction and happiness. Marciano's tongue was agile and reached spots in his mouth no human tongue could reach, and only the need for air made them draw back from each other again.

A sudden thought crossed Erik's mind, and he regarded his Wraith anxiously, searching for signs that the Gift of Life had weakened his mate. He felt as strong and powerful as he hadn't felt in a long time, the pain of his bruises from the crash completely gone. “You haven't shared life-force with me, only given me some of your strength, Marciano. Will you be fine until they come to get us?”

Marciano rolled to the side and pulled him close. “I was freshly fed when I crashed here, and the vegetables are nourishing and will help me to go without feeding for a few more weeks. We can still share life-force if you want to, Erik. But Wraith normally bond mentally with each other when they do that,” the Wraith said hesitantly, clearly fearing Erik's rejection to the mind-bonding, and Erik nodded his head vigorously to show his beloved mate that he wanted to bond with him.

“I want that. Both, I mean. I want to share life-force with you, and I want to bond mentally with you. You are Wraith, and you must have been so lonely, missing the touch of a kind and loving mind in your head,” he said, licking over his swollen bottom lip as he searched for the right words. “I don't think that I would be comfortable and okay with feeling you in my head and knowing that you can read my thoughts all of the time, but I really want to bond with you from time to time, Marciano. You only have to tell me what I have to do to make that possible.”

“I would never oppress you and read your thoughts without permission, Erik. I won't try to bond with you against your will and without asking you beforehand, you don't have to fear that I would ever do that to you. I can't promise that I won't try it if you were in mortal danger and me bonding with you was the only way to save you, but I really hope that it will never come to that.”

Erik snuggled close to the Wraith, smiling at him. “You have my permission to bond with me in such circumstances, my beloved mate. I know that it would only be to save me, and I don't think that you would ever try to force yourself upon me in any way, Marciano. I trust you, and I really want to bond with you now. Please, I want to feel what you feel.”

Marciano's amber-golden eyes roamed over Erik's face, and the young man let him see his longing and his trust, holding nothing back. Finally, the Wraith sighed and gently pressed his hand against Erik's chest again, the blinking stars high up in the sky the only witnesses when the two so different beings kissed each other and Marciano reached out with his mind for him.

'Open your mind for me, my beloved consort. You have nothing to fear, I will never hurt you.'

A wave of love and desire washed over Erik, filling his mind, his heart and his soul. He didn't need to think twice about it when he obeyed the tender order and opened his mind for his mate, sending his own deep love through their bond. Marciano deepened their kiss as he bit down on his chest for a second time, suckling gently at the steady stream of Erik's life-force. It felt strange but didn't really hurt, the soothing and tender thoughts Marciano was sending through their bond soothing him and making him relax instead of fighting against the gentle pull.

'Oh, wow, this is... I didn't know that something like this even existed! I feel so close to you, so loved...'

Erik couldn't find the right words for this unique and outstanding experience, but of course he didn't need words to tell his Wraith how he felt, he knew that Marciano understood him, feeling the same way about their intimate link. Energy was flowing back and forth between them in delicious warm waves, the sweet ache when Marciano pulled at his life replaced by the ecstasy of being filled with Marciano's strength before it became too much for the young man. Love enclosed them like a soft shield that protected and warmed them, and Erik lost himself in Marciano's passion and tenderness, clinging to the Wraith's lithe frame because he feared that he would explode with desire and pleasure if he didn't have something he could hold on to.

'You're wonderful, my beloved consort, you're the most wonderful being in this universe. I love you so much, more than anything.' Marciano's mind-voice was raw with passion and desire, and Erik could feel him hard against his body, his own desire for his mate pressing against the Wraith's hipbone.

The young man reached out to take both of them in hand and stroke them together, their moans of pleasure and need swallowed by their ardent kiss. Erik couldn't tell where his pleasure ended and Marciano's began, they were like one being with two bodies but only one mind and soul, their mental bond so strong that Marciano's feelings where his own and his emotions were Marciano's. His mate completed him and made him whole, and Erik knew that it was the same for his Wraith, the deep wounds Michael Kenmore had carved into his soul finally closing and healing with every new wave of love Erik sent through their bond.

Marciano kept feeding him with his own energy and sucking tenderly at Erik's precious strength until they came together, the Wraith's musky release spilling hot all over Erik's fingers in the same moment that Erik lost himself in the throes of passion. The young man stroked their cocks until they were totally spent, and he buried his face on Marciano's fragrant throat and closed his eyes when it was over, knowing that his Wraith would protect him while he slept.

He felt naked and incomplete for a moment when Marciano slowly withdrew his mind and his hand, but he knew that they would share this experience again when the time was right. Erik was alone in his head again, but he would never be lonely again, not with Marciano by his side.

“Sleep tight, Erik.” Marciano whispered tenderly, and Erik closed his eyes with a smile and fell asleep in the arms of his mate, Marciano's loving voice echoing not only in the warm night air, but in Erik's mind as well.

 

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“I hope that we can come back here one day.”

Marciano turned his head to look at his chosen consort sitting beside him, his clawed fingers never faltering in what they were doing as he stroked Max' soft fur with steady motions. The small rabbit made purring sounds in his sleep, trusting the dangerous creature to protect him from the kangaroo-bear that that must have crossed the clearing a few hours ago. Its traces were still fresh, and it had taken Marciano and Erik some time and a lot of berries to lure their friends Max and Hannes out of their small cave this time.

“Do you like this planet, Erik?” Marciano asked, smiling when Hannes pushed his nose against Erik's chest with a reproachful squeaking sound, clearly unhappy that his favorite biped had stopped stroking him at Marciano's question. His beautiful human snickered and soothed his little friend with another juicy berry, going back to stroking Hannes behind his long ears. Hannes chewed his berry and closed his eyes, cuddling up against Erik's belly.

“Yes, I love it very much. It's so peaceful and beautiful here.” Erik looked down at the cute Pegasus bunny. “Not to mention that I will miss Hannes and Max when we're back in Atlantis. Who is going to collect their lunch for them when we're gone?”

Marciano felt the same way, but he tried to be reasonable. “I'm sure that Max and Hannes are able to do that themselves.” Max and Hannes' purring was the only sounds audible on this sunny afternoon, and the young Wraith knew that he would miss their friends too. They might be 'only' animals, but they had helped him to come closer to the astonishing young man who meant more to Marciano than anybody else in this universe, and Marciano suspected that the small rabbits were much more intelligent and sentient than most people would give them credit for.

“I will miss them nevertheless. Plus, I am sure that Hannes will miss me too. The berries taste much more delicious when you're feeding me with them than they taste when I'm eating them alone. I'm certain that Hannes likes the berries I'm collecting for him much better than those he has to pluck himself too.” Erik sounded as if he wanted to stomp his foot, and Marciano was careful to hide his amused grin from his pouting consort.

“Most likely.” Marciano reached out with his feeding hand to entangle their fingers. “I share your feelings, Erik, believe me. This world is not only beautiful, but also the planet where we met and where we became true mates, it will always have a very special place in my heart. It would be nice to come back here and see how Hannes and Max are doing. To take another nightly bath...” he drawled with a smirk, enjoying Erik's deep blushing far more than he should.

The Stardust had sent another message earlier this day, she was due to pick them up within the next twenty-four hours, and it was out of the question to sleep with each other again – now that they had to be prepared for one or two of the New Lanteans to appear in front of them out of the blue thanks to the beam-technology of the Stardust.

The Wraith really didn't want to get caught with his pants around his ankles and a naked Erik lying beneath him. Some humans preferred to shoot before asking questions, even more if they had to fear that one of them was about to be fed upon or get harmed by an unknown Wraith.

“It's not that I don't want to return to Atlantis. I miss the city and my friends and colleagues there. But the mere thought of the questions Colonel Sheppard will ask...” Erik's voice trailed off, and he squeezed Marciano's fingers when he saw him flinch.

“Not because of you, Marciano. I will hold my head up high and never be ashamed of you. But I've crashed one of their brand new Dart Fighters on its maiden flight. Colonel Mitchell is surely regretting that he chose me as one of the new pilots. What must he think of me?”

“That you are one of the best pilots he's ever known, Captain Drum!” Marciano growled. “There are only a few pilots who could have managed to bring their ship down with so little damage like you did! I'm a pilot myself, I was one of the best pilots of my Hive before Michael captured me.” Marciano didn't sound arrogant or proud when he said that, he was merely stating a fact.

“If anything, then it is the officer responsible for the controls on board the Stardust who has to be ashamed. It was their job to warn you about the star and its activity. There was nothing you could do to avoid the anomaly, believe me. I was there myself, I know what I'm talking about. You should be proud of yourself for having landed here without dying and destroying your Dart Fighter instead of feeling ashamed and insecure.”

“Do you really think so, my mate?” Erik asked gratefully, and Marciano wrapped his arm around his slumped shoulders to kiss him. “Yes, I am sure, love. If Colonel Mitchell and Colonel Sheppard are really as good and experienced as you've described them in your stories, than they will praise you and honor your great deed.” Marciano confirmed his words with a passionate kiss, and his human relaxed in his arms and let himself be held and kissed.

Hannes and Max purred their agreement to Marciano's passionate speech, and the Wraith closed his eyes to take a nap, perfectly happy with sitting in the grass on a deserted planet with a small purring rabbit sleeping in his lap.

He might not be the fearsome Wraith warrior he had once dreamed of being when he'd been a child, but he was Marciano – the beloved mate of the most astonishing human in two galaxies - and that was far better than being a feared Wraith warrior could ever be.

Chapter Text

The next day dawned as brightly as the previous one had ended, the sun bathing the plateau that had quickly become Erik's temporary home in its warm golden light.

They had just finished breakfast when the air before the cave suddenly began to flicker and two figures appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

Erik knew the beam-technology of the Stardust of course, he had been beamed on board the ship before his maiden flight with the Dart Fighter like every other member of the crew, but he flinched nonetheless, suppressing a curse at the fright he had gotten. His radio had been damaged when he had crashed on the planet, therefore the Stardust hadn't been able to contact him via radio and inform him beforehand that she had reached an orbit around this beautiful world.

The young captain had secretly hoped that the rescue party would materialize near his fighter before coming to the plateau, and he felt irritated that they had preferred to have themselves beamed down onto the plateau first, angry with himself that he hadn't seen this coming. The Stardust could detect their life-signs with her sensors, so it had been easy for the communication officer to locate Marciano and him, and he really should have thought of that.

Erik jumped to his feet and stared a little bit dumbfounded at the human with the messy dark hair who stared back at him in amazement – but not looking at his face but at a spot somewhere on his neck. The young man felt heat creeping up in his face, suppressing the urge to cover his throat with the collar of his jacket only with effort.

“Uhm, good morning, sir. I... I hope your flight here was not too straining,” Erik heard himself stammer, desperately clinging to the last shreds of his dignity.

Marciano had risen to his feet as well, ignoring the human colonel completely, his gaze fixed on the tall creature standing behind Colonel Sheppard. The Wraith stared back at the younger male, and Erik thought that they must be communicating telepathically with each other. He could see Marciano lifting his chin up in defiance from the corner of his eye, and High Commander Todd's pale lips twitched briefly. Erik got the impression that he had to hide an amused smirk, but the face of the ancient Commander was calm and stoic, giving nothing away of his feelings.

His superior clearing his throat to regain his attention made Erik focus on the older man once more. “Our flight was as well as could be expected considering that we had to cross half of the galaxy, avoid flaring stars and hostile Wraith on our way here. I prefer traveling by Stargate, but this was not an option this time. You're not the kind of guy doing things half-assed, Captain Drum, are you?” Colonel Sheppard now drawled with a questioningly raised eyebrow, his gaze wandering back and forth between Erik's neck and his burning face.

“Uhm, not really, sir.” Erik resisted the urge to duck his head between his shoulders, unconsciously mirroring Marciano's posture and raising his own chin in defiance as well.

Colonel Sheppard's eyes sparkled at the sight. “Fair enough. I'm glad to see you well and healthy, captain. We were deeply worried about you after the incident with the star.”

“Thank you, sir. I'm sorry that I crashed the fighter. I did my best to avoid the crash, but I couldn't escape the anomaly. It only released me in the atmosphere of this planet, and I couldn't bring my ship back into space because of the heavy turmoil the anomaly produced. Trying to land the fighter without causing an explosion was the only option. I really messed it up, didn't I?” Erik mumbled, and Colonel Sheppard frowned.

“No, you didn't, Captain Drum. The anomaly wasn't your fault, and you actually pulled off an impressive feat when you landed here without killing yourself and making your ship explode. Colonel Manderley will beam a team down to the D-1404 as soon as I contact him, but Commander Todd and I wanted to see for ourselves that you're okay before anything else.” The older man's voice sounded almost gentle, and he didn't look angry but relieved that his young charge was unharmed and healthy.

Erik hadn't expected this, somehow he'd thought that Colonel Sheppard wouldn't join the rescue mission personally, and that he would care much more about the precious Dart Fighter than about an unimportant captain he knew to be in relative safety in the cave. That even the High Commander himself was a part of their rescue team intimidated Erik pretty much.

“Sheppard? What's going on down there? Sheppard, please report? Have you found them?” The distorted voice of Colonel Mitchell suddenly sounded through Sheppard's radio, and Erik gulped for air. It didn't happen all day that the two most famous colonels of two galaxies came to rescue one of their new underlings themselves.

The dark-haired military commander of Atlantis tapped his radio. “Yes, we have. They are well and... no, it's better that you come down here and see that for yourself, Mitchell,” he stated with a pointed look at the purple mark at Erik's neck.

“I'll be there in a minute, Mitchell out.” The other colonel said, and Erik groaned in embarrassment. Sheppard grinned when he noticed his discomfort. “I trust you that you've found a good name for your mate, Captain Drum,” he said, pulling a chuckle from his own Wraith mate.

“He has indeed, Sheppard. Captain Drum is actually much better at naming Wraith than you are. Almost as good as the astonishing consort of my second is,” the High Commander stated, earning a scowl from his own consort. “Your name is actually very fitting for you, Todd. It is an old Celtic name and therefore as honorable as the names Mitchell has chosen for your brethren.”

Todd chuckled again. “It is, my consort. I'm lucky that the first name that came into your mind when you wanted to address me in any other way than just calling me 'Wraith' was such a fitting one. But we both know that you didn't think of all of this when you chose it, right?”

“Hrmpf.” Sheppard chose not to answer to that, turning his attention to the unknown Wraith instead. “I'm Colonel John Sheppard, and I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Captain Drum is a valued and respected member of our expedition and the Second Alliance, and if he trusted you enough to become your chosen consort – I at least assume that he consented to becoming your consort – than you're more than welcome in Atlantis.”

“Yes, I became his consort willingly, sir. It was actually me asking him to mate with me. Marciano hesitated at first because he wasn't sure that he would be welcome in Atlantis. He didn't want to risk that I'd have to live the life of an outsider at his side. I told him that I'd rather never return to Atlantis again than leave him.”

“Well spoken, captain.” The dark-haired colonel and his Wraith mate honored Erik's words with a nod and a reassuring smile, and the young captain relaxed a little bit.

Marciano wrapped his arm around Erik's shoulder. “Captain Drum honored me with his trust and his love, I would never harm him in any way, Colonel Sheppard. He offered me his friendship without knowing me, and I'd rather die than force myself upon him in any way.”

Sheppard nodded again. “I thought so. His looks warn me not to so much as think of not treating you well. Marciano, hmm, your name suits you. Mitchell will be pleased. Where is he, by the way? The minute is already over.”

“I'm here, Sheppard, right behind you. Covering your ass as always. I thought that Captain Drum would appreciate getting some coffee while we talk, it took me a moment to get it. He looks coffee-starved at least.” Colonel Mitchell's blue eyes sparkled when Sheppard whirled around, staring at the Thermos bottle his friend held in his hand. “Ah, Mitchell, I should've known that. I'm sure that Captain Drum appreciates the gesture.”

Erik's eyes were glued to the bottle, and his mouth watered in anticipation when his direct superior opened the bottle to fill one of the mugs Mitchell had brought as well with the hot brew. Marciano beside him recoiled from the smell. “What's that, Erik? Do you want to poison yourself?” he asked incredulously, and Erik, Colonel Sheppard and Colonel Mitchell burst out with laughter at the same time.

Erik took the mug to sip from the strong coffee with pure bliss written all over his face. “No, I won't get poisoned, my beloved mate. Coffee is the best beverage in the entire universe, and Colonel Mitchell's coffee is actually the very best. Thank you so much, sir, you really saved me.”

“You're welcome, captain,” Colonel Mitchell said with a grin, but Marciano didn't look convinced that his consort would survive drinking the dark beverage, staring at the steaming liquid in Erik's mug with obvious disgust.

Commander Todd stepped forward to pat his shoulder with a sympathetic expression on his face. “You will get used it, Marciano, it's only a matter of time. Humans are very insistent about their coffee, so don't even try to argue with them about it.”

“If you say so, High Commander,” Erik's poor Wraith murmured, following the other Wraith's example and sitting down on the plateau. Erik, Colonel Sheppard and Colonel Mitchell did the same, the three human men sipping their coffee with contented expressions.

“I'd like to hear your story before we fly back to Atlantis, Marciano. The Stardust will salvage the D-1404 while we're talking,” Colonel Sheppard said, becoming serious again, and Erik took Marciano's feeding hand in his own, gently squeezing his fingers.

“Just tell them what you've told me, Marciano. It'll be okay, I promise you.” His mate looked at him and then nodded, straightening his shoulders.

“Very well, listen to my story then. It is the story of a young Wraith who considered himself to be invincible until Michael Kenmore captured him...” Marciano spoke up, and Erik listened to his story for a second time, holding the hand of his beloved mate and promising silently that Marciano would never have to endure anything like this again.

 

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Marciano gratefully accepted the water bottle Colonel Sheppard offered him silently when he had finished his story, the cool liquid easing the sore feeling in his throat. The young Wraith didn't dare look up, too afraid to face the impressive High Commander and the two human colonels of the Second Alliance and see the look of disgust and contempt in their eyes they must feel after what they'd just heard. His mental connection with the older Wraith was only superficial, and Marciano was grateful that Commander Todd respected his wish not to deepen it for the time being.

“I didn't know that Michael used his own brethren for his experiments, Marciano, and I'm so sorry for what happened to you. You must hate me, and I am thankful that you didn't take your anger out on Erik.” Sheppard's voice was strangled, filled with regret, and Marciano forgot his self-loathing and raised his head, taken aback by Sheppard's words. Erik had told him that the military leader of Atlantis had changed, but he hadn't wanted to believe it, convinced that Sheppard would see him as an enemy when he heard what Michael Kenmore had done to him.

“You don't need to be sorry, Colonel Sheppard. I don't hate you, you weren't the one experimenting on me.” Marciano said, feeling confused. Sheppard pulled a face as if he was in pain, and he smiled gratefully at his mate when Commander Todd squeezed his shoulder in a brief gesture. “I was the one giving the order to capture the Wraith and turn him into Michael Kenmore. I am responsible for everything he did afterwards.”

Marciano had thought the same until he'd met Erik. His beloved human had changed his mind, and he shook his head, offering Sheppard a cautious smile. “You did what you did because you wanted to protect your people, Colonel Sheppard. It was wrong to do it, yes, but you were desperate and didn't know it better back then. You'd really thought that the retro-virus would work and that you had no other choice than to do this.
Michael still had his intelligence after the change, and he knew what he did when he decided to walk the path that would bring so much grief and sorrow to the entire galaxy. He could have stopped, but he didn't want to. It was his doing, not yours, and you tried to stop him more than once. In the end, you did, keeping him from spreading more terror and death. That's what Erik told me about your fight against Michael, and I have no reason not to believe him.”

Sheppard swallowed. “Thank you, Marciano. I'll always have to live with my guilt, but your words and your forgiveness mean a lot to me.”

“You're welcome.” Erik's hands warmed his own much colder one, and Marciano was thankful for his reassuring presence. “Michael was obsessed with you, Colonel Sheppard. I think that he did what he did because he longed for your approval so badly that it was driving him insane. He was so fixated on impressing you and earning your affection that he couldn't think straight anymore in the end. His wish for revenge was only a minor reason for his actions, I think. He wanted to impress you and prove his own worth to you. He talked about you the entire time when he came to get me for another experiment, telling me what you would say or do in his opinion. His thoughts circled around you day and night, I guess.”

“Oh, I wasn't aware of that. I'd thought that I was the person Michael hated the most in this universe, his only goal to make me suffer for what I had done to him.” Sheppard couldn't suppress a shudder running down on his spine.

“He didn't hate you. At least not only hate you. Love and hate are very close to each other after all.”

“Yes, they are. Two sides of the same coin, the one can't be without the other,” Colonel Mitchell made himself known again, regarding Marciano thoughtfully. “So you're immune against the Hoffanian disease and can actually prolong the time span between the feeding with normal food?” he asked, and Erik leaning against Marciano's side stiffened. “No one will ever use my mate for any kind of experiments again!” he growled dangerously, causing both colonels to look at him.

“Of course not, Captain Drum. It was not my intention to even hint at that. I really hope that we are past this. No intelligent and sentient living being in the Pegasus Galaxy has to fear that the Second Alliance will use them for such experiments. But if Marciano knows the coordinates of the planet where Michael kept him, then we could fly there and try to find out more about his research. The Hoffanian disease is still a lethal threat, hanging over our heads like the Sword of Damocles. There are still humans dying because of this disease, and our allied Wraith are always in danger when they have to feed. Not to mention that we could find out what happened to the other captive, the one Michael called 'Number Twenty-five'.” Colonel Mitchell shuddered at the thought of any Wraith being disgraced like that, reduced to a number, and Marciano remembered what Erik had told him about the other colonel's adaption to the life on board a Wraith Hive.

“I would like to help, Erik. Colonel Mitchell is right, the Hoffanian disease is a terrible threat for the entire galaxy, and you told me that the Second Alliance is working on a solution for the feeding problem. If I can help with my knowledge and my own changed physique, then I will gladly do that,” Marciano said gently, but Erik looked still mistrustful and unhappy.

“You don't have to do that, Marciano. You'll be a welcome and appreciated member of my crew if you want that, and you don't have to do anything that reminds you of your time as Michael's prisoner to become a member of the Second Alliance and find a new home. You wanting to live in peace with us is all we need to welcome you as one of us.” High Commander Todd's voice left no doubts that he was serious about that, and Colonel Sheppard nodded and smiled at him. “My mate has said all that needs to be said about this. Atlantis will always offer herself as a home for those who want to live in peace together, no matter whether they are humans, Wraith or both. It was a long and painful journey until we'd reached this point, but we are happy that we did in the end. You are Captain Drum's rightful mate, and you will be treated as such, with the respect and friendliness you deserve to get, Marciano.”

Marciano swallowed. He hadn't thought that Colonel Sheppard and High Commander Todd would accept him just like that, and his wish to help them with their research for a remedy for the Hoffanian disease and the feeding problem as a volunteer was even stronger now than it had been before he'd known that.

“I will gladly come with you and become a member of the Second Alliance, thank you, High Commander, Colonel Sheppard, Colonel Mitchell. Plus, I really want to help you with the research, and I do believe that I can do that – with the coordinates and with my own physical changes. As long as Erik will be by my side, I'll be fine.”

“I'll always be by your side, my mate!” Erik promised hoarsely, and Marciano ignored the curious glances of the two men and the tall Wraith, kissing his beloved chosen consort with all the love and passion he felt for him.

 

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Erik and Marciano stood before the scuttle in one of the long corridors of the Stardust, looking down at the blue and green surface of the planet that had been their home over the last week. It had been only a couple of days, but to Erik and Marciano, it felt as if they had spent an entire lifetime there, their lives changing so much after they'd met on the plateau for the first time.

Salvaging the D-1404 and Marciano's Dart had taken some time, and Colonel Sheppard had agreed to stay until the next morning to give the young captain and his Wraith enough time to say goodbye to Hannes and Max and the cave that had been their shelter for so long. The rescue team had spent the night on board the Stardust while Erik and Marciano had stayed in their cave, sitting on the still warm rock before the entrance and staring up into the starry sky for a rather long time.

Erik suspected that High Commander Todd and Colonel Sheppard had decided to spend the night somewhere on the planet as well, because they had looked relaxed and happy when they had welcomed him and Marciano on board half an hour ago, the red of the mark on Sheppard's neck fresh and rich instead of the fading pink it had been the previous day.

The young captain with the hazel-green eyes was happy to return to Atlantis, but saying goodbye to their two small friends had been hard to say the least, and Hannes and Max had sat before their caves and chirped unhappily until their beloved bipeds had been out of sight, just as if they knew that Erik and Marciano wouldn't come back again.

“I'll miss them,” Erik now sighed, and Marciano wrapped his arm around him and pulled him close. “I'll miss them too, love. I will never ever forget this beautiful world and our sweet friends, but Atlantis and the Second Alliance are our future, and I am more than happy to set foot in the city together with you and live there together with you. Hannes and Max are tough bunnies, they will be fine.”

Erik smiled at his beloved Wraith, offering his lips to Marciano for a kiss. “I am happy to return to Atlantis and live there with you too, my wonderful mate. One day I will take you to Earth and show you my home, the beautiful region where I was born. It is similar to the mountains of this planet, and I'd love to camp there with you.”

“That sounds great, human,” his Wraith purred, and Erik laughed and kissed him again, knowing that there was a bright and happy future waiting for them in their new home.

Chapter Text

Several months later:

 

“Hannes, Max, we're back!”

Erik's voice echoed in the warm air as they made their way to the caves where the small rabbits lived, Marciano walking beside him shaking his head about Erik's impatience to see their friends with a smile on his alien male features.

The Dart Fighter had landed smoothly and without any damage this time, and Erik didn't feel the weight of the two bags hanging over his shoulders, not when carrying them meant that he would get to spend a week alone with Marciano on their favorite planet of all planets.

The last months had gone by so fast that Erik's mind was still spinning when he looked back at all the things that had happened. Marciano had led them to Michael's hidden labs where the scientists under Dr. Beckett, Dr. McKay and Albert's leadership had collected the data while the Marines had searched for possible survivors. They unfortunately hadn't found Marciano's companion - the Wraith Michael had called 'Number Twenty-five' - but there had been more labs with several Iratus bugs and the hangar with the modified Darts. Erik still hoped that they would find the other Wraith one day, that he had managed to escape from the labs like Marciano. He deserved to get the same chance his beloved Wraith had gotten, and Erik was glad that Colonel Sheppard and High Commander Todd had promised not to give up their search for him.

The data and Marciano's cooperation had helped Dr. Beckett and Albert to create a vaccine against the Hoffanian disease that made both humans and Wraith feeding on infected humans immune against this terrible disease.

The modification of the retro-virus Michael had created promised to be the missing piece the Second Alliance had searched for for so long to solve the feeding problem for all time. Albert and Dr. Beckett were positive that they would find a vaccine within the next months that would stop the aging process during the feeding and diminish the pain for the humans being fed upon. The research the First Alliance had done to find a cure against the aging during the feeding process put together with Michael's experiments had achieved the final breakthrough, and the formula already worked in combination with the natural ATA-gene.

People possessing the natural ATA-gene like Colonel Sheppard, Dr. Beckett or Erik himself for example didn't age any longer when a Wraith fed on them, and Dr. Beckett's and Albert's team were working on the formula that would also work with the artificial ATA-gene and one day even without it.

Most of the New Lanteans had gotten the injection with the gene of the Ancients anyway, but Colonel Sheppard and High Commander Todd wanted a solution for every resident of the Pegasus Galaxy, hoping that it would stop the war between Wraith and humans and the bloody battles between Wraith and Wraith about food and territories. The natural gene carriers let their allied Wraith feed on them on a regular basis now, but they needed time to recover in between the feedings to avoid the addicting effect of the enzyme, and there were too few of them to help all the Wraith, so finding a solution that would work with those having been injected with the artificial gene and the humans not possessing this special gene at all was still the first priority.

Erik had been so afraid after his crash landing that Colonel Sheppard would be angry with him and send him straight back to Earth, but the military leader of Atlantis had talked to General O'Neill and requested that Erik would be promoted to the rank of a major instead. Erik was a proud major and responsible for the training of the new pilots now, teaching them how to fly the D-1404 and the Puddle Jumpers. Colonel Mitchell had been all too happy to leave this task up to him, his own duties as an emissary between Earth and the Wraith and his part-time job as Sheppard's second-in-command not allowing him to supervise the training himself.

Marciano was a valued member of Commander Todd's Hive now, serving proudly on the bridge under Commander Raven's command when he wasn't needed in the labs, but his mate lived mostly in Atlantis with him, making friends with almost everyone crossing his way. Erik always felt a lump of gratitude and joy in his throat when he saw the amber-golden eyes of his beloved Wraith sparkle with happiness and excitement, and he already couldn't imagine living anywhere else than here in Pegasus together with his mate any longer. Marciano had even started to drink coffee after his first disgusted reaction, sitting in the cafeteria in Atlantis together with his new friends to discuss their daily tasks with a large pot of coffee in front of him.

Even his looks had changed. A couple of weeks ago Marciano had started to grow a small goatee - like his brethren normally had - to emphasize his Wraith nature. The too large coat - which had actually once been Michael's coat – now hung in their wardrobe as a reminder of their first encounter, while Marciano preferred to wear a jacket similar to the biker jacket of Commander Germanus' younger brother Silvius.

The jacket suited him much better, and Erik was crazy in love with his beautiful and unique Wraith, his love growing for Marciano with every day that passed. The young major could hardly wait for their holiday to begin and show his mate how much he loved and desired him without having to fear that someone would call them via radio.

Erik turned his head to look at his mate when he heard him chuckle about his impatience to reach the mountains, and Marciano grinned lopsidedly, winking at him with a glittering amber-golden eye. “It's good that it's still summer on this planet. I plan to have another nightly bath with you later, Major Drum.”

The Wraith's nostrils flared and he grinned knowingly when Erik's body reacted to the prospect of another pleasurable bath in their lake instantly, and the young man blushed with a snicker, rolling his eyes with feigned exasperation. “And you're telling me that I am horny and only thinking of sex!” he shook his head, but his eyes shone with anticipation of the forthcoming night.

Loud and excited chirping and squeaking sounds coming from the grayish walls of the mountains in front of them distracted them from their desire for each other, and Erik carelessly let his bags fall down to the ground right where he stood to run to his dearly missed friends. The two Pegasus rabbits were scampering around in exaltation, bouncing and jumping with joy when they saw their two beloved bipeds running in their direction. Erik dropped down onto his knees in the soft grass to take the smaller one of the furry balls in his hands and bury his nose in Hannes' soft, fragrant fur, not ashamed of the tears of joy he shed at the happy reunion.

Marciano's eyes shone wet too when Erik glanced at him, the fearsome creature sitting in the grass with Max in his arms, whispering tenderly into the long twitching ears. Their eyes met over the furry balls chirping in their hands, and Erik mouthed a tender “I love you!” at his mate, smiling when Marciano mouthed back: “Love you too, very much.”

Atlantis was their home and Erik was happy there, but this world would always be special to him, the wonderful place where he had met the love of his life.

 

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They had spent the afternoon in the company of their two friends, and they had promised Hannes and Max to come back to them the next day before climbing upwards to their cave. They had packed their bags with everything they would need for their camping trip except for tents before they had left the city, thinking that the cave was a much better shelter than tents could ever be. Two large airbeds and cozy sleeping bags made sure that they'd be warm and comfortable while sleeping during the night, and they had seen to having enough food supplies to feed an entire company for a week.

Marciano had been the one insisting on adding instant coffee to their supplies, much to Erik's delight and enjoyment, and they were well prepared for the more pleasurable part of their holiday this time as well. Wraith enzyme served astonishing well as lube, but it was easier with the real stuff, and Marciano found himself counting down the hours until it would be dark enough for their nightly bath.

Their food supplies lay forgotten in one corner of the cave two hours later, his beautiful consort grinning at him with rosy cheeks when they sat by the campfire nibbling at the roasted beans they had collected together before making a fire.

“These vegetables are so much more delicious than canned ravioli, I really don't know why we had to pack so much food. We have all that we need here.”

“We did that to ease Colonel Sheppard's and Colonel Mitchell's minds, and you know that, my beloved consort,” Marciano said with a smile. “Your two superiors have turned into mother hens after your adventure with the Dart Fighter, fearing that you could find yourself standing before a hungry Wraith all of a sudden when they are not around to keep an eye on you.”

Erik chuckled. “I wouldn't mind standing before a hungry Wraith, not if the Wraith looks as good as you do at least,” he teased, pulling a low possessive growl from his mate. “I wouldn't want to be in their shoes then, human. No Wraith other than your rightful mate will ever come close enough to you to even talk to you, I'll make sure of that. You're mine and mine alone!”

His wonderful consort put his plate aside, cupping his face to kiss him. “Yes, I am, my mate. Yours alone. What do you think of reminding me of my duties as your chosen consort, my beautiful Wraith? It's been a long time since we could last bath together. I'm not sure that I still remember how to wash your back properly. Another lesson wouldn't hurt, I guess.”

This was something his human didn't need to say twice, and only ten minutes later, the fire was quenched and Erik was hanging over his shoulder as Marciano walked along the small path to the lake, just like it was appropriate for cheeky chosen consorts.

 

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The water was pleasantly warm after the long hot summer months, and Erik took the soap to wash his beautiful Wraith mate with greatest care, his loving hands roaming over the shimmering pale skin and the sculptured torso of the alien male.

Marciano looked like an ancient warrior or god in the silvery moonlight shining down on them, and Erik's breath hitched in his throat with the forceful wave of desire shooting through him at the wonderful sight.

He could hardly believe that Marciano was real and not only a dream, and he bent forward to follow his fingers with his lips, trailing kisses along the wet flesh, cool to his touch but quickly warming up under his tender ministration.

The Wraith stood perfectly still and let Erik wash him, his golden eyes hooded with his forceful desire for his consort. They were alone on this beautiful planet, they had all the time in the world, and Erik wanted to savor their love and passion to the fullest and make the best out of this magical night.

“You're so beautiful, my mate, you're the most beautiful being in the world!” Erik whispered rapturously, and Marciano pulled him close to kiss him. “You are the most beautiful being in the world, my wonderful consort. I didn't know that I could feel such deep love for anybody. You're my everything, Erik. I'd be lost without you.” Marciano's deep kiss proved to Erik that his Wraith had spoken the truth, and he kissed him back with passion and longing, their tongues dancing the old courting dance only couples deeply in love knew.

Marciano took the soap to return the favor and wash his human with the same care and devotion, and they were both aching to feel each other close when the Wraith carried his consort back to the shore to lower him down onto the towel they had left there. Erik squirmed and gasped when Marciano's agile and clever tongue licked the last droplets from his with desire burning body, and he felt for the small bottle they had put in their bag together with the soap to push it into his love's hand, but the other male shook his head.

“I want you to take me tonight, Erik.”

Marciano's words hung in the air, and Erik stared up at him in surprise. They had made love so many times, but it had always been Marciano taking him, and Erik had been happy and contented with that, sensing that his mate wasn't ready to give himself to him yet.

“Are you sure, my mate? I would never expect you to do that for me if you don't really want it.”

Marciano lay down beside him, taking the bottle to coat Erik's trembling fingers with the cool liquid. “I am sure, my wonderful consort. I wanted it for a very long time, but it didn't feel right to have my first time ever in Atlantis. I love the city, she has become my home so quickly, and I don't want to live anywhere else in this universe than there, together with you and our friends and family. But I really wanted to wait with giving myself to you until we'd be here on our planet again. This is the place where we met and fell in love, and I wanted our special world to be the place where you'd make love to me for the first time. My first lover was never allowed to take me, I'd always wanted to wait for the one I would truly love with all of my heart – for you, my chosen consort.”

Erik's eyes were wet with tears of joy and emotion. “I will make your first time wonderful and special for you, my beloved Wraith,” he promised hoarsely, and Marciano smiled up at him with love and trust. “You being my first is all I need for it to be perfect and wonderful, Erik.” The impressive alien male turned around until he lay on his back, safely nestled against the young man's body, and Erik searched for his lips again when he touched Marciano for the first time where the young Wraith had never been touched before, kissing him with all the love he felt for him.

 

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Erik had kissed Marciano the entire time while he'd prepared him with greatest tenderness, making sure that his Wraith would only feel pleasure and lust when he gave himself to his human for the first time. Marciano was trembling with raw need and he was more than ready and aching for his love to fill him and chase the last memories of his years as Michael's prisoner away with his passion when Erik finally made himself comfortable between his spread legs.

“Look at me, Marciano. I want to look into your eyes when I make you mine,” the young major murmured, and the Wraith opened his amber-golden eyes to let him see his feelings. Both gasped out as Erik now slowly pushed into him inch by inch, pausing in between to savor the moment.

Marciano wasn't prepared for the rush of desire and want shooting through him at the sensation of being filled and stretched so thoroughly and delicately, and he wrapped his arms tightly around his consort to search for his warm lips again. Erik kissed him back, distracting him from the first intrusion with his lips and his tongue, sinking into Marciano's silky tightness until there was no space left between them, their bodies united to one single being.

“Bond with me, my Wraith, I want to feel what you feel.” Marciano sensed Erik instinctively reaching out with his mind, searching for the loving touch of Marciano's thoughts he had come to know and cherish over the last months so well.

'Here I am, my consort, it feels so good to be yours.'

Marciano's mind-voice was filled with wonder and awe, and Erik sent his own longing and love through their link and started to move, unable to hold back any longer. Marciano's whole body and his heart were on fire, burning with love and passion for his consort, and the Wraith met the human's thrusts with the same ardor, growling passionately into Erik's mouth.

It was overwhelming to be so close to his consort, to feel him everywhere inside and around him, and Marciano lost himself in Erik's love and warmth, the last shreds of the pain and loneliness he'd felt for so long fading to a distant memory that couldn't hurt him any longer. Erik was hard and pulsing inside him, the fire of his passion replacing the cold in Marciano's bones that had been his only companion ever since Michael had trapped him. His own desire and need rose to new levels when Erik pushed his hand between their bodies to stroke him in time to his thrusts, massaging Marciano's aching length until his world shrank to the small spot where they lay on the meadow, nothing else important any longer than their love for each other.

Marciano came first, his long suppressed desire demanding release, and his ecstasy pushed his consort over the edge as well, making Erik cry out into his mouth and through their mind-bond. Marciano's roar of satisfaction echoed in the soft breeze that was blowing over the meadow, even louder than the sounds of the waterfall, the triumphant cry of a fierce Wraith who had found his one true love.

'Love you, Erik, love you so much!' Marciano's pleasure coated Erik's tender fingers in fast jets, and the sensation of Erik filling him with his hot seed, spurting against his most sensitive spot prolonged his own height until the young Wraith feared that he would black out from the sheer force and intensity of his climax.

'Love you too, Marciano, love you more than life itself!' Erik shuddered heavily above him, his hand clenching around his pulsing shaft until Marciano softened in his fingers and went limp beneath him. They lay like this for a long time, listening to each other's slowly calming breathing.

Their minds were still connected when Erik raised his head from his shoulder to press a gentle kiss onto Marciano's lips. They smiled at each other, still a little bit out of breath after their passionate lovemaking.

“That was wow,” Marciano murmured a little bit uncertain when Erik didn't say anything, just gazed down at him.

“It was perfect, my wonderful mate, more than perfect. Beyond words. We've had so many amazing nights since our first time, but I know for sure that I'll always remember this night – this one and our first night ever.” Erik kissed him again. “Thank you for your trust, Marciano. I still remember the way you looked when you emerged between the trees back then, thinking that I was your enemy and that you would never have a real home again. Thank you for giving me a chance to prove to you that you'd been wrong with that.”

“I remember that day vividly myself, Erik. I could see that you were different from all the other humans, different from everyone I'd known – Wraith and humans. Trusting you was much easier than you think that it was, and falling in love with you was the easiest thing to do in the world. You are my beloved chosen consort, the reason why I live and breathe.”

“The same here.” Erik slipped to the side after another deep and passionate kiss, and Marciano wrapped his arms around his human until they lay snuggled close together and could see the beautiful starry sky again.

“We will come back here again, won't we?” Erik asked drowsily, and Marciano pressed him close and kissed his temples. “Yes, we will. This will always be our planet, even though it doesn't have a name yet. Which still amazes me. I'd thought that you would come up with a good name for our special planet very quickly. Finding good names always seemed to be such an easy thing to do for you.”

Erik chuckled. “Not always. The name for our world has to be unique and special, and the names our genius came up with made me shudder and harder to come up with a good one myself so far. Dr. McKay obviously is not really good at naming planets. Just like Colonel Sheppard is not good at naming Wraith,” he said, and Marciano could only agree to that. “Indeed. It's a good thing that the High Commander insisted on us finding a name for our world – much to Dr. McKay's anger. Even though this has turned out to take much longer than I'd thought it would.”

They had tried to find the perfect name for their special planet ever since they'd left it, but it only had a number so far, which was needed for the coordinates in Pegasus' star catalog. The number their planet had gotten was BVD-1137, and it had been Erik's idea to turn Marciano's former hated name into something so much better. Dr. McKay had grumbled but given in, even more when Erik had explained to him that sportsmen on Earth wore numbers on their jerseys and that he'd once had a number in his own football team when he'd been a boy as well.

Erik hummed in agreement, and Marciano thought that his human would fall asleep soon, but the young man suddenly lifted his head from his shoulder again, smiling widely at him.

“I think I know a name for our beautiful world, Marciano. You always remind me of one of those ancient warriors that had once lived on Earth, the Teutons and the Celts – especially when you're naked and the moon is shining on you like that. Some of the proud Celts lived in the region where I grew up, and Celtia would be a beautiful name for our special world, wouldn't it?” the young man asked, beaming with joy all over his handsome male features, and Marciano smiled back, drowning in the hazel-green depths looking at him with so much love.

“Celtia is the perfect name for our planet, Erik. I love you.”

“I love you too, Marciano. Now and forever.”

Their deep and loving kiss was a foretaste of the bright and happy future that lay ahead of them, Celtia's moon bathing the Wraith and his human consort in its silvery light.

The Wraith had once been a lonesome and haunted creature, but a young man coming from another galaxy had changed everything, chasing the darkness in his soul away when he had offered him his heart and a new home, and Marciano knew that he would never be lonely again, not as long as Erik was by his side.

Erik's love was all Marciano the Wraith needed, and this would never change.

 

The End

Chapter Text

Major Erik Drum:


 

 

Marciano the Wraith: