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Burn it All Away

Chapter Text

The door to the brig opened; Todd did not bother standing to greet John as he entered the small room.

The cat-like stares of a wraith were something to get used to. It was hard to tell if they were being pensive, or merely watching the dust floating in the air. As a species that often connected minds, few found any reason for subtle gestures or expressions. Todd was not one of the few who had mastered gesture, yet one could often pinpoint his current attitude by his expression. He was waiting for something…watching and waiting.

“So…” John said.

Todd said nothing. He kept waiting. That was all he was going to do and he knew it was now obvious. He was going to do what he wanted to do and not what he was told without a good reason and he knew John didn’t have one.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” John asked.

“Aren’t you going to shoot me?”

“Hey!” John protested. “You did save Earth.”

The fact that Todd didn’t change his expression in the slightest told him that wasn’t an answer.


“Okay, fine. I won’t shoot you. Now get up, Dr. Keller—“

Todd narrowed his eyes in resentment, not at John, but at his words. There was a line John didn’t want crossed. Perhaps he knew where it was and perhaps he didn’t, but John did. The problem was John was standing at the edge of the line he’d drawn himself and was coming after him. When John had said ‘all bets are off’ he had never imagined John would slip into the role of their common enemy, even in the slightest. Being held by Atlantis was something he was used to. He didn’t mind anymore. John Sheppard, of all people, had done worse than merely take him prisoner. He’d taken everything away. No shoes, no clothes, no real name, no sky to see again, no galaxy of his own, no hope. Either John understood or he didn’t, but either way he wouldn’t want to be told what he’d done. Whichever it was, John had left him with one thing his previous captors hadn’t: a promise. He remembered those biting words John had told him, how he had insinuated death in escape was better than wasting away locked away with nothing. Even if those words were laced with his promise, Todd was going to hold him to it; it was all he had and he was not going to let it slip away without a fight.

“Stop looking at me like that!” John complained. He didn’t know half of what Todd was thinking, but he knew what the wraith wanted. He didn’t like it and he didn’t want to think about why.

“You taught me that you kept your promises, no matter what,” Todd said.

The two stared at each other for a long time. John kept trying to find a way around what Todd had said and Todd kept keeping him from doing so. Todd didn’t need to say what he was thinking. Every second John was silently asked ‘Well, what kind of human are you? I can either no longer trust you or I can and you’re just waiting to find the time when you’d best like to execute me. Which is it?’ He couldn’t escape the fact that there was no disappointment, just plain expectation laid down so thick he found it hard to move looking at Todd’s face. The worst part was that he knew it was his fault and he didn’t know why that bugged him.
“I can’t do this,” John said and turned away, waving at Todd and giving up.

Todd watched him leave, still waiting.


“I hear you’ve been rather quiet, lately,” Woolsey said.

Todd didn’t reply.

“That wasn’t a joke. You’ve also been giving the guards a hard time.”

Todd still didn’t respond. He had refused to stand when told. He’d been dragged to his feet and manacled. He did obediently go where he was told, but that was the extent of his cooperation. John had taught him the importance of both defiance and trust. The cunning to twist those things like a pretzel was all Todd’s. It was a combination that needed to be handled with care.

Woolsey pushed a clipboard with a document that spanned over ten pages on it towards Todd, who immediately shoved it back, almost too fast for Woolsey to catch it. “Dr. Keller is concerned about the effectiveness of your ‘cure’.’” Woolsey said, ignoring Todd’s reaction. “She wants to know what exactly happened and believes this could give us genetic information about the wraith.”

“I see no point.” Todd finally said, leaning forward and setting his cuffed wrists on the table. “If I agree, I am to be shot and this information will be useless. If I don’t, Sheppard will eventually find a reason to keep his promise anyway.”

“He has been sent on vacation specifically because of this situation.”

“Then you can tell him of my insolence when he returns. There is no need to insult me by pretending I might choose to have any part of this.”
Woolsey sighed.

“If you truly needed my consent, you would have used a language I could read.”