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Once by Chance

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Life in the Pegasus galaxy leaves a mark on people. Not just the battles, but the little inevitabilities of life in general. As a result, John has developed quite a list of his least favourite things to do in the Pegasus galaxy, and though while it’s not quite on the top five, being lost in a forest at night with only a Wraith for company is still quite far up on that list.

To be fair, Todd is being silent, mostly, a dark shadow in the rainy night, almost blending into their surroundings. The jumper crash has cost him, too, both men and resources, and like John, he seems largely focused on getting to the gate. Neither of them really know the way, though. They flew on the way in, and the path looks very different on foot, at night and in the middle of a rainstorm. All they can do is to move in the direction they hope is the right one.

Focused on their journey and distracted  by the weather, they don’t notice the men until the bolas wrap around John and he falls over, landing on the muddy ground with a groan as the impact knocks the air out of him. By the time he can breathe properly again, they are everywhere, piling themselves on Todd. The Wraith is strong, much stronger than his human attackers, but they are numerous and relentless with their bolas and their nets. John tries to struggle free while their attention is on Todd, but one of them notices, and walks over, knocking a heavy club against his head.

The world goes black.

*

When the darkness lifts enough for him to stagger to his feet, they have been confined.  

They are in what could be called a holding pen, but is more accurately a hole, if a very impressive one. The walls of the hole are almost perfectly round and surprisingly smooth, easily at least fifteen feet tall. Or fifteen feet deep, rather, the hole dug into the earth itself. There is no ceiling, and the rain is showing no sign of stopping any time soon, pouring down onto them.  

The smooth walls make escape unlikely, and more concerning, there is nowhere for the rainwater to drain out, meaning the water keeps rising slowly. Maybe if they wait long enough, they can swim out, but John suspects he’ll have succumbed to hypothermia before the water level is that high. He can swim, could swim well once, but that won’t do him any good when the water is so cold.

Besides, the natives here are probably the people who would put a lid on once the water rises high enough to drown in. John has little fondness in his heart for people who ambush innocent travellers.

Admittedly, Todd is a Wraith, and has probably never been called innocent in his entire life, and John understands not liking the Wraith, but he doesn’t feel like being reasonable. He’s shivering and his head hurts, and it’s not making him feel too civil. He’s dizzy, too, probably from being knocked on the head, and he leans against the wall to watch Todd pace.

The Wraith is free of his restraints now, though it makes little difference down in the hole. The walls are not entirely smooth, but there’s nowhere to get even a grip, and though Todd tries, he can’t dig into it. All he manages to do is scrape his fingers raw, and he snarls and abandons the attempt to continue pacing around the hole like a caged tiger. Normally, it’s hard for John to guess what’s going on in Todd’s head, but right now, the frustration coming off of him in waves is almost palpable.

John resolves to stay on his side of the hole for now. He doesn’t really think he’s in any danger, but he’s well aware that even Todd has a breaking point and his day is terrible enough as it is without getting mauled by a pissed off Wraith. Todd doesn’t normally take his anger out on anyone who hasn’t deserved it, but John has never seen him quite this obviously angry, not even when they were dealing with Kolya. Of course, back then, he had been starved and barely had the energy to be angry. He is well fed now, with nothing to distract him from his anger.

To be honest, John is pretty pissed off himself, but his head hurts too much to do much about it, and though the hole is thankfully pretty spacious for a cell, there’s not enough room for him to begin pacing, too. It might have been helpful, though. The rain had been cold and miserable for hours, but having spent time lying in the wet mud has chilled him even further, and he’s well aware that he’s fighting hypothermia at this point. It’s pretty cold in the air even without the rain, and the towering walls of the hole offers no shelter from the relentless downpour.

He’s wet to the skin and he can feel himself shiver as the wet cloth cling to him like a shroud. It’s almost painfully cold, in a very different way than snow and ice is. He might have spent some time in Antarctica, but Antarctica is dry, a cold and freezing desert. It’s a completely different thing than the heavy, soaking cold of a late fall rainstorm.

Moving would help, but even if he could walk about without getting in Todd’s personal space, he is dizzy, feeling more unbalanced than hypothermia alone accounts for.

Probably a concussion on top of the chill, he supposes, scowling up at the top of the hole though there’s nobody there to feel the heat of it. He isn’t too worried about the concussion; he’s had plenty of those in his life, and he knows who he is, where he is and when it is, and who is the president and all those other things they always ask. There’s no confusion or memory loss involved, just dizziness and a dull ache. The concussion does make it hard to move properly, though, making the hypothermia a bigger problem than it really is.

He has had hypothermia before, but never in a situation where he has had no possible shelter. The walls of the pen are too hard to attach anything to, and even if they weren’t, he has nothing to use to make even a make-shift shelter. The natives took his pack and his jacket is soaked. He’s shivering more now, too, and becoming increasingly aware of it, though at least the shivering is actually a good sign. It means his body is still trying.

Todd doesn’t look bothered by the rain or the cold, showing no sign of shivering or lack of motor control. His hair is plastered to his skin and coat by the water, more tangled than ever, and his eyes are almost all yellow, anger causing his pupils to shrink to narrow black stripes. Mostly, he looks furious, but he doesn’t seem angry at John, so he’s not too worried about the possibility of having to deal with a pissed off Wraith.

That’s one less thing to worry about, John supposes, and he’s happy about that, because he’s not too optimistic about his chances against Todd while fully armed and at top health, much less concussed, hypothermic and unarmed. It’s not a surprise, really. Todd and he has a understanding of sorts, even if John isn’t entirely sure he understands the understanding. It works, though, somehow, and they are rarely angry at each other without a good reason. Todd’s anger, like John’s own, is directed at the men who put them in the hole, and as angry as John is with them, he almost feels sorry for them once Todd gets out of the hole.

Almost.

If he wasn’t cold, wet and concussed, he might feel a bit more sympathetic towards them. Normally, there are very few people John considers deserving of being on the wrong end of a pissed off Wraith. Kolya, perhaps, if he wasn’t already dead. He still feels he killed him too quickly. He’s fairly sure Todd agrees. They do, surprisingly, agree quite often. Especially when it comes to Kolya.

It occurs to John that Todd's frantic pacing might not just be his anger showing. He's still not sure how long Todd spent locked in Kolya's dungeon, and doesn't feel like asking, but he knows it was long. Long enough that it left a mark on a Wraith, a creature who, theoretically, can live forever. Long enough that being trapped in a small, confined place is not going to bring back good memories of any kind, opening at the top be damned. In which case John's not just stuck in a hole in the soaking, ice-cold rain, but with a Wraith who is possibly having a claustrophobic reaction.

He resolves to stay on his side of the hole.

There’s a rustle at the top of the hole and one of the natives appear, peering down into the hole with a mocking grin on his face. John can deal with being trapped. Travelling with a Wraith doesn’t do much to make him popular with the natives around the galaxy, and being attacked for it is almost to be expected. He does not like the gloating, mocking laughter, though, or the obvious glee in his pain and discomfort. Normally he might let it pass, but he’s feeling a little bit spiteful at the moment.

Picking up a rock from the ground, he throws it at the man, but his head is still swimming and the rock flies far above his head and into the rain. The man jeers even more, cackling like a madman.

The second rock hits him square in the face with no warning, and the man falls backward, the laughter stopping suddenly. On his side of the hole, Todd is baring his teeth in a very unfriendly grin. Of course he has pinpoint accuracy to go with all the other fancy Wraith abilities. John would be lying if he said he isn’t a bit envious of what Wraith are capable of. If it wasn’t for the life sucking, they would be one of the coolest species ever.

Above them, the man has managed to get to his feet again, but his face is a bloody mess and he isn’t laughing any more. Instead, he’s holding a hand to his nose and backing off rapidly. John meets Todd’s eyes for a moment and give him a wry grin. He’s oddly pleased at the throw, mostly because while it probably wasn’t hard for Todd to do it, it was uncharacteristic for him. He’s eerily patient at times, even when he’s pissed off, and he very rarely rises to anyone’s bait. Apparently his mood is rotten enough at the moment to make him forget about that.

The completely inappropriate pleasure of seeing the laughing man get a rock in the face isn’t enough to take his mind completely off of how cold he is, though, and the terrible throw shows how affected he actually is. John isn’t as accurate as Ronon when it comes to throwing things, but he’s much better than that throw was. His coordination is clearly shot to hell, and he’s feeling stiff, as though the cold has seeped into his muscles. Moving is difficult, and it hurts to shift, his headache spiking in protest, but if he doesn’t stop the heat loss somehow, he’s going to be in trouble.

He manages to shamble into some kind of rhythm, forcing himself to keep moving through the pain. It hurts, but he takes that as a good sign. Numbness is never a good thing when it’s this cold.

"Take your jacket off," Todd says suddenly, surprisingly. He hasn’t spoken since the jumper went down, not in more than brief yes and nods. Speaking out loud isn’t natural to Wraith, and Todd often goes quiet when unhappy. Actually, quiet isn’t the right word. He stops being verbal, though he still makes sounds, little hisses and snarls that show his irritation as well as any words would.

"Won’t do any good," John mutters, teeth chattering a little. "Soaked right through." But he fumbles with the zipper of his jacket anyway, somehow managing to peel it off. He doesn’t always trust Todd, not when it comes to things like the networks at Atlantis and important secrets, but like this, where there’s no reason for Todd to be up to anything, he finds it easier to just go along with him. The guy is ten thousand years old, and usually knows what he’s doing.

The soaked jacket makes a strange, wet slapping sound as it falls to the ground, and John wrap his arms around himself as the chill washes over him even more intensely. He really hopes Todd does know what he’s doing right now.

Todd moves behind him, out of sight, and John feels a spike of what might be fear if he let it, but then something is pulled over his shoulder, something warm and almost dry. He looks down, staring at the black not-leather for a good while before his mind catches up to the fact that he’s wearing Todd’s coat draped over him like a cloak.

The Wraith makes an almost amused sound. "Put it on properly," he says. "It is not entirely waterproof, but it should help."

The coat is too long for him, and surprisingly heavy, almost dragging the ground. The sleeves stop about halfway down his fingers and he feels, inexplicably, like a child playing dress-up, but the material does keep the water off very well, and it completely wards off the chill in the air. John fumbles a little with the fastenings, both because his fingers are numb and because he’s never fastened a Wraith coat before, but he manages somehow.

The effect is immediate. The heavy leather-like material might seem cumbersome, but it makes him immediately feel warmer and drier, even if his head is still getting soaked.

The coat is less restricting than he was expecting, the cut of the coat obviously designed with movement in mind. It makes sense, he supposes. Wraith need to be able to move to hunt properly, and if their coats were as stiff as they looked, that would have been hard. Instead, they feel almost like a protective outer layer.

No wonder Todd wasn't feeling the chill earlier.

John looks over at where Todd is standing. He has never really seen a Wraith out of the coat unless the Wraith has also been dead, and it's strange to see Todd without the long, black coat on. He is wearing a shirt beneath it, deep black even before the rain soaks it through, with a high neck and an asymmetrical closure, and what is probably some kind of decorative border at the edges. It looks soft, much softer than he would expect, although it's rapidly getting soaked from the rain, clinging to Todd's torso.

Despite his now drenched state, Todd does not seem affected by the cold. Mostly he just looks bedraggled, the rain and the earlier breeze having wreaked havoc on his already messy hair. It'd be an amusing sight if John wasn't feeling so miserable himself. The coat has helped him ward off the chill, but it does little to help combat the chill that has already lodged itself in his bones, and his head feels like there is a metal spike lodged in his temples.

He opens his mouth to ask Todd if he will be all right without the coat, but his teeth are still chattering as he tries, and Todd just looks at him, frowning.

"Your temperature is not rising," he says, walking closer, and John is suddenly reminded that Wraith can see the infra-red spectrum. He wonders what colour he looks at the moment, compared to what he should look like.

"Human," he points out, fighting to control his shivering enough to actually talk. "We don't heal as fast as you do."

Todd nods, tilting his head thoughtfully. His hair falls across his head like spider web. "You should move," he says. "It will help you warm up."

It would, if he had been able to move. John is still dizzy, and his body feels sluggish, not optimal while wearing a coat that almost drags on the ground. He can walk if he has to, but he prefers to save his strength, rather than to risk falling and hurting himself further. "I don't think that's a good idea," he says, looking over at Todd. "The guy who knocked me out hit me hard. I think I've got a concussion."

Nodding again, Todd moves closer, close enough to touch if either of them wanted to. Wraith has little understanding of the concept of personal space. Todd does know, but mostly chose to ignore it when it suits his purpose, and apparently this counts as one of those times. He leans in, looking at John's face, their eyes meeting. "Your pupils are uneven," he states.

"Figures," John mutters, and wraps his arms around himself, trying desperately to regain some of his composure. It's not like he cares about his dignity exactly, but Wraith have a way of making him feel inadequate. He would like to, just once, not feel helplessly outclassed.

"Sit down," Todd tells him, nodding towards a large stone nearby.

It's not large enough to let Todd use it to jump out, but the surface is fairly flat and even, and it's drier than the muddy ground is, and John gingerly walks over and sits down, leaning back against the wall. The coat drags in the mud as he does, but he figures that since it was Todd's suggestion to sit down, the Wraith can't complain too much.

He doesn't, either. Instead, Todd walks over and sits next to John, close enough that the heat from his body is obvious. Wraith body temperatures are much lower than those of humans, but Todd is much warmer than the air around them is, and the warmth he's giving off is welcome enough that John doesn't even try to pull away, as much as he's surprised by the action. Maybe it gives Todd something else to focus on, too.

"Save your strength," Todd tells him, voice oddly soft. "Rest and heal until the time when we can escape."

John is fairly sure he should try to stay awake, at least, to avoid ill effects from the concussion, but he doesn't feel like struggling to do anything, so he just leans into Todd and closes his eyes. Not to sleep, exactly, but his head hurts and keeping his eyes closed seems to help a little.

Todd says nothing, simply shifts so John is more comfortable.

*

He must have dozed off, because John lifts his head with a sudden start, causing a twinge of pain to pulse through his head. He fights it down and looks around. It's dark now, and the air is even chillier, but the rain has stopped, stars visible in the sky. Todd is still at his side, a strangely solid presence against him. A cold wind flows into the hole, and John shivers.

Looking down at him, Todd makes a strange sound in the back of his throat. "The temperature has dropped," he says.

Below thirty, John wagers, shivering again. He has been through cold nights before, but this is different. He's still wet, still weak, and if they don't get out of the cold, he's not going to last much longer.

"We need to get out of here," he says, staggering to his feet. The walls seem even taller now, which he knows is just an illusion, and it's dark enough that he can barely see. "How high can you actually jump?"

Todd looks at him, then looks up at the walls, eyes gleaming in the low light. He clearly hasn't got any problems seeing anything. "Twelve feet, perhaps, if I pull myself up. Not high enough."

Twelve feet. The walls were fifteen or so feet, too high for that. If there was anything at all they could have used to give some extra height, they might have made it out. John looks around the hole, trying desperately to think of anything. There is nothing. The stone they had been sitting one isn't large enough and there isn't any others. Just him and Todd. He looks at the Wraith.

He knows Todd’s strong, of course. He’s a Wraith. They’re all strong, much stronger than humans, but he doesn’t know how strong. They’ve never had a chance to actually measure, not on a cooperative test subject.

"How much can you lift?" He asks, looking over at Todd, who looks back at him, head tilted in that way he only does when he feels humans are being particularly strange.  John ignores it. He is used to that kind of look.

"It depends on the situation," Todd finally replies, still staring at John without blinking, making him look far creepier than is necessary. "As a general rule, most Wraith can at least carry their own weight."

John looks him over, frowning. Todd is not that big, just tall, but he isn't small either. His coat is a little big on John, and though John has no illusions about having the muscle mass of someone like Ronon, he's a well-trained man. Todd seems to be about the same size, just taller. John would expect a healthy human Todd's size to be at least a hundred and ninety pounds, and Wraith are heavier, with their denser bone and skin. John hasn't really bothered to weigh himself since he arrived in Atlantis, because he has been fighting and running from the Wraith since, and doubts he's put on much weight. There's preciously little unhealthy food in the Pegasus galaxy. He's nowhere near the limit for the Air Force, at least, and he'll wager he's a good deal lighter than Todd, which is what matters at the moment.

"I guess the question should be how much you can throw," he says, looking up at the edge of the hole. It's pretty far up, and he can't see a thing of what might be up there, but if they don't get out of the hole soon, it's going to be too late for him anyway, and he's survived six years of Wraith, replicators and hostile natives. He refuses to die from the chill.

"What do you need thrown, and how far?" Todd asks, following John's gaze to look up of the hole himself. His eyes gleam in the starlight, the eye-shine making them look a pale blue.
Indicating the edge of the hole with a nod of his head, John fights back another violent shiver. "Could you get me up there?"

Todd turns to him and look at him, a slow kind of scrutiny that is just barely short of predatory. "Theoretically," he says after a while, looking thoughtful. "Though I do not think it wise with your injuries."

"Do you have a better suggestion?" John asks, looking at him. He doesn't think it's wise with his injuries, either, nor with his lack of weapons, but there's no way he can throw Todd up there, unless he gets the Wraith to stand on him and jump from his back, which is likely to just make his injuries worse and he'll probably fall over so Todd gets hurt, too. He'll heal, of course, but even if Wraith heal fast, they don't really like getting injured.

Appearing to consider it, Todd tilts his head thoughtfully. "It is not ideal," he says. "But it is viable. There are no others around at the moment."

John nods. "Get me up there, and I'll go find a way to get you out. If I get a rope, you can climb out, right?"

"The only thing that stops me now is the lack of places to find a grip," Todd informs him, and John doesn't doubt that for a moment. He has seen Wraith climb before, and they're excellent at it.

"Just don't toss me too far," John says, chuckling a little. He'd rather not go flying into the dark. It’d be pretty typical, considering how his day is going so far, but he is willing to hope for a better outcome than that.

Making a decidedly amused sound, Todd shrugs. “Try not to land on your head,” he offers, completely deadpan.

*

John does not, in fact, land on his head.

He lands with a thud and a groan, half-way across the edge, and allows himself to gasp for air for a moment before hauling the rest of himself across and getting to his feet. The area is pitch black, and for a moment, he is concerned that he might step wrong and fall back into the hole. Stumbling forwards, he desperately tries to find anything to help. If he can find his gear, there is a torch there, which would be priceless at the moment. If he can’t find that, he needs a rope of some sort.

There is no trace of his gear, or of their captors, but after much stumbling around, partially because of the darkness and partially because of the length of Todd’s coat, he finds coils of rope beneath a tree, one end already attached to the trunk. Probably the rope they’d used to lower him down into the hole in the first place. Had they dropped him in, he would have felt that.

He has no idea if they lowered or dropped Todd in, but either way, it is a moot point at the moment. Using the rope as a lead, he slowly moves towards where he thinks the hole is, one small step at the time, until he feels the edge under his foot.

Peering down into the darkness, all he can see is Todd’s eyes, glowing pale blue in the starlight. It’s a decidedly creepy look. Presumably, Todd can see him, even in this darkness, or John might just end up throwing the rope at his head. Hopefully not.

He drops the rope in and stands back, really not comfortable with standing out there on the edge unless he has to.

Wraith really are excellent climbers, and it takes Todd no time at all to scale the wall with the rope to give him grip. He coils the rope back up and places it back under the tree with an effortless movement that tells John that yes, he does see in the dark, at least better than he himself does. He’s not surprised. Everything about Wraith is clearly designed to be an apex predator.

“Where to now?” He asks, looking around in the darkness. “Since you’re the only one of us who can see and all, I mean?”

“We keep going to the portal,” Todd says, looking in whatever direction he thinks it is. "Our captors cannot see at night, and they did not appear to have the technology to amend that."

That was true. From what they'd seen of their captors, they were a pre-industrial people whose weapons weren't even at the iron-age stage. In the night, they'd be as blind as John was, and they didn't have a Wraith to play guide. John wasn't happy about leaving his gear in enemy hands, but he was in no state to go after them at the moment. Better to get back to Atlantis and come back in a jumper than to rush around in the dark.

Besides, moving would help him stay warmer, which was still a priority.

"Lead the way," he said, looking at Todd. "Because I can just about see you, and that's because your hair reflects a lot of light." The advantages of running around in the dark with someone with white hair and glowing eyes.

Todd makes a small, somewhat annoyed sound, before picking a direction, seemingly at random.

Anywhere is better than here, John muses, and follows him, away from the hole and hopefully away from their captors.

The brisk pace helps him warm up a little, and John is feeling a good deal better as they move on, though he's not feeling entirely well just yet. His head is still hurting, still feeling fuzzy and a bit disoriented, but Todd pauses every now and then. He clearly doesn't need it himself, his breathing still slow and calm even at the pace they're keeping, and his injuries long since healed, so John isn't sure why he does it until, at one pause, he tilts John's head up a little without warning, sharp nails far too close to his skin for comfort.

Whatever he sees seem to meet with his approval, though, and he lets go as suddenly as he had grabbed him.

"Your eyes are back to normal," Todd informs him. "Your head trauma must be healing."

His head does feel better. It's still not optimal, but it's definitely better. John is honestly more caught up in the fact that clearly, Todd has been taking these breaks for his sake. He supposes it would inconvenience Todd if he was to fall over from exhaustion, but not that much. The Wraith could easily leave him there and make for the gate on his own, or just pick him up and carry him. He doesn't have to play nice.

"I feel better," John agrees, looking in the direction they've been travelling. "Let's just keep moving."

They do, until the sky grows lighter and John can finally see properly again. They've gotten a good distance away from the forest and the hole now, into an area of mostly meadow, filled with small hills. There are a few scattered trees around, and one has a little brook beneath it. They pause there and John fills his stomach with cool water, washes the dirt off of his hands as best he can. Todd kneels down and drinks a bit, too, before deftly climbing the tree for a better view.

While the Wraith looks around, John takes the chance to take a short break. He sits down on a rock and breathes out, watching as the breath comes out as a white puff of condensation. The sun has begun to rise in the sky now, and where the sunlight falls, the rime makes the grass shimmer as though covered in white glitter. It's beautiful, to be sure, but John isn't in the mood to admire the view. He's still cold, though much less so than he was earlier, and he huddles into the coat, trying to will himself warmer.

Beside him, Todd drops out of the tree with effortless grace, the kind of grace that comes of not trying. "The gate is in that direction," he says, indicating the direction in question with a brief gesture. "Perhaps an hour or two more, if we move at the speed we have been."

An hour or two and he'll be warm and dry in Atlantis, far away from murderous forest people. Despite his exhaustion, the thought brings new energy to John. The meadow is easy terrain to cross, at least, and Todd has been eerily pleasant company throughout the whole journey, wraithiness aside. He can't really be blamed for that.

Staggering to his feet as best he could, narrowly avoiding getting tripped up by the coat, John nods. "Let's go," he says, before setting off in the direction Todd had given.

Todd says nothing, just follows behind him like a shadow made flesh, not malicious exactly, but decidedly ominous. Familiar, perhaps, is the best way for it, though the last time they escaped together, their positions were reversed. John wonders when he became so comfortable with having Todd at his back, but ultimately decides he’d rather not know.

In the end, it takes them about an hour and a half to make it to the gate, at least as best John can guess. It's hard to tell without a watch. There is the sun, now quite high in the sky, but he doesn't know how long the days on this planet are, and so the sun tells him nothing. At least it helps him warm up, the warm rays against his skin much more welcome than bright sunlight normally is. His sunglasses are with the rest of his gear, probably hidden away in one of the natives' homes by now, and normally that'd be frustrating, but John is too happy to be feeling anything resembling warm right now to care.

Following him silently, Todd probably hates the sunlight as much as John loves it right now. Wraith eyes are much sharper than humans, but they're not optimized for bright light. There is a reason why flash grenades are a better weapon against Wraith than conventional grenades are. He doesn't let it show if it does bother him, though, just walks silently, making no sound at all as he moves.

Wraith are remarkable. Scary as hell and extremely dangerous, but remarkable. Striking even, in the sunlight. The rime on the grass is long since melted, but Todd's hair glitter the same way, at least in the least tangled parts. It is strange to see a Wraith like this, alive but not trying to kill him, safe to watch, at least as far as Wraith are ever safe. He should have been used to it by now, he supposes, but honestly, John doesn't think he'll ever get used to the concept of a friendly Wraith, not if he were to live as long as Todd has.

He smiles to himself as they come up to the gate.

The area around it shows clear signs of use, though there is nobody, or nothing, in sight as far as he can see. Just the gate, standing in the middle of the massive meadow like a strange, abandoned sculpture, and the DHD nearby. Todd walks up to it and begins dialling, pressing symbols without really looking. He's halfway through the sequence before John notices that he's dialling Atlantis. He's not supposed to have Atlantis' new address, though John supposes he shouldn't be surprised. Todd has a talent for acquiring knowledge he's not supposed to have.

"Would have thought you'd dial wherever you're going first," John tells him, though he's not complaining.

Todd looks at him, pupils narrow slits in the bright light. "You need to go somewhere warm," he said, baring his teeth in a parody of a smile. "I can wait."

John considers protesting, but although he's warmer now, he's still not warm. Just warmer. "Yeah, I guess. Thanks?" He looks at the Wraith and gives him a small smile in return.

Thankfully, the one thing the natives did not take from him was his communication gear, probably because it's too small for them to have noticed. Death by energy shield is not the way John wants to go. He sends his IDC through and turns to Todd again. "Guess this is goodbye, then?" He asks. "Until the next time the galaxy decides it has it out for us, at least."

The sound Todd makes is strange, but clearly amused, a rolling sound in the depth of his chest. "Goodbye, John Sheppard," he intones, dragging the name out like he often does. "We will meet again." The last part sounds almost like a promise, if an ominous one.

Shaking his head a little, John turns away and steps through the gate.

Moments later, he steps out of the event horizon and into a crowded gate room. At first, there’s a lot of noise, people clamouring and speaking at the same time.

Then, suddenly, there is only silence and wide-eyed stares, disbelief and surprise written across dozens of faces.

It’s only then John remembers that he's still wearing Todd's coat.