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Ronon circled the two figures engaged in battle. This had been a long time coming and, frankly, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. For years he’d been telling anyone who would listen (and many who wouldn’t) that the wraith couldn’t be trusted. That he’d betray them all one day. That they should just shoot him and get it over with. 

But no. Sheppard just couldn’t do it.

So when the Colonel had announced that the time had finally come for him to challenge Todd, Ronon wanted a front row seat. 

***

Rodney was leaning up against the wall in defeat. Eyes had been rolled. Hands had been flailed. Rants had been… ranted. But to no avail. Sheppard insisted on this stupid display of masculinity so he could lord it over Todd for the rest of time. To be honest, like Ronon, he had been surprised at John’s choice of challenge. 

A duel. I mean, seriously? 

Despite his protests, he still didn’t want to miss out on the action. He just hoped John would win in the end. He would be insufferably pouty otherwise.

***

Contrary to the serene expression on her face, Teyla was entirely unimpressed at the role in which she had been cast. Having prepared the necessary items to Sheppard’s specifications, she was relegated to sitting on the sideline. She felt that McKay must have missed some details when he had explained the nature of this Earth duelling.

Details like the purpose of the tea. Her tea. 

She watched as the Commander and the Colonel glared at each other from opposite sides of the table. Perhaps the fate of the wafer was an indicator of an impending greater combat?

***

“Shepparrrrrrd,” growled the wraith, “I do not intend to relinquish victory to you, no matter how strange the weapons. Did you truly believe you could triumph simply by selecting something foreign to me?”

“Toooooddddd,” the Colonel tried to growl back. Yeah, the wraith’s human name didn’t exactly exude the same sense of threat. Like, at all. “Now don’t you complain about my weapons of choice. The tea is Teyla’s favourite Athosian blend and Carson’s mum made these.”

The wraith aimed a courteous nod in Teyla’s direction and conceded that Dr Beckett’s progenitor was indeed a master of baked goods. Upon his return to Atlantis, he had immediately sniffed out the doctor’s hidden stash of the woman’s foodstuffs. In fact, his battle coat had become noticeably snug thanks to indulging one too many times when the hoard had been left unguarded. 

The Colonel continued, “and don’t think I haven’t noticed that ya had to give up wearing that snazzy belt of yours.”

The wraith bared teeth. “Shepparrrrd, you had better watch yourself---”

“I’d watch my temper if I were you, buddy,” he jeered, one eyebrow raised. “You’d think that 10,000 years would teach you some patience...”

And that’s when the wraith commited his fatal error. Allowing the Colonel’s taunting to get the better of him, his whole body shook with his growing outrage. As he raised his feeding hand, so did the precious confection pinched carefully between clawed thumb and taloned fingers - pinky finger up, of course, as per the rules of engagement. Todd refused to risk losing on a technicality. 

But technicalities were the least of his worries. The gasps of the humans alerted him to his misstep and he looked down at the delectable piece of shortbread. It quivered in his trembling hand, hovering just above the steaming mug of fragrant herbal tea.

The ancient Commander glanced quickly from the biscuit to the evil look of anticipation on the Colonel’s face. 

“You’ve done it now, Todd,” he gloated. “It’s only a matter of time---”

 

“Why are we even indulging this ridiculous example of absolute stupidity---”

“I admit I do not understand the meaning behind this most… unusual earth ritual---”

“Can. We. Just. Shoot. The wraith---”

 

“Calm down guys,” Sheppard drawled. “It’ll be over in a sec. He’s lost and he knows it.”

“Enough, Sheppard!” the wraith snarled, slamming the fist of his offhand down onto the table. 

Todd’s eyes widened with fear as the lower half of the sweet pastry wavered and then broke away from the rest, still clutched in his dainty grip. With a humiliating ‘plop’, the soggy treat splashed into the tea, spattering the aromatic beverage across the wraith’s horrified face. 

Around him, the humans froze, not knowing what to expect. 

The tension was broken by an obnoxious slurping noise emanating from the opposite end of the table. Sheppard had sprawled back in his chair, blatantly flaunting his victory by sucking on the shortbread now wedged in his mouth.

“You shee,” he mumbled, “it’sh all ‘bout having a shteady hand”. Holding the biscuit in his teeth he demonstrated his point by holding our both hands. “Shee. Shteady ash a rock!”

The wraith looked back down at his tea, lip curling at the unsightly lump of brown goo sitting in his mug. He slumped back in his chair, jutting out his lower lip in an uncharacteristic pout.

Sighing, Teyla got to her feet. “I’ll fetch you a fresh cup.”

Rodney marched over to the wraith. “Look, it’s all about the structural integrity of the biscuit. Next time maybe try thinking a little before hulking out, hmmm?”

“Do we shoot him now?” asked the Satedan. “He lost, right? So now we shoot him?”

 

Across the mess hall table, wraith glared at human. Human stared back at wraith. 

 

“Best of three, John Shepparrrrrrd,” Todd challenged, reaching for the plate of cookies.