Beware of Wraith bearing gifts.Author:
They belong to MGM and such, not me, and I make no profit from playing with them. I'm just having fun. If they were mine, there would be more Wraith snark in the show. Warnings:
Eh, slight crack and inter-species kissing?Rating:
PG.Summary: Something reminded John about the old idiom about Greeks bearing gifts.
In which John is clueless, Todd is confused, and everyone else is both amused and bemused at the same time. Character/pairing(s):
None, really. This is just silliness. Written for ♥Fluff Friday♥
Something reminded John about the old idiom about Greeks bearing gifts.
Not that Todd had much in common with the Greek, apart for the apparent distaste for haircuts. That didn't mean that John was going to believe that he simply brought gifts because he felt like it. The Wraith never did anything without having an underlying reason. Todd was tricky like that.
He really shouldn't accept anything from him.
However, he hadn't had real fruit in a very long time, and Todd had brought a large basket of something that looked a little like pears but tasted like apples and blueberry with honey. One of the Athosian women had apparently recognized the fruit, taking the basket from him, and she'd turned it into a delicious jam that definitely made breakfast a lot better. They'd recently gotten supplies from Earth, too, which meant pancakes with appleberry jam, and that was almost enough to make him forget any hidden meaning behind the gift.
John supposed it was possible that the Wraith was merely expressing gratitude, but it was about as likely as Rodney McKay leaving Atlantis to become Amish.
No, Todd was definitely up to something, and John planned on finding out what.
Just as soon as he'd finished breakfast.
*"Fruit? Really?" Rodney muttered, annoyed. "This is really rather uncomfortably Biblical, don't you think. Though those should really have been apples, of course, and the Wraith looks more like sharks than snakes." He trailed off as he realised nobody was really listening.
Teyla was watching the scene with that that unreadable expression she had, looking at the basket in Todd's arms.
"Kyreen pears are rare in their off-season," she offered sagely.
Ronon looked like he'd like nothing more than to shoot Todd in the head, but that was pretty normal for him.
The next time Todd showed up, he brought more fruit. This time, it was a mix of fruits, none of which John had ever seen before. He took some time from worrying about what Todd's underlying intentions was to wonder where the Wraith kept getting all the fruit. It caused a very amusing mental image of a bunch of Wraith running around in an orchard, all sweeping black-coated menace with great big wicker baskets in their arms.
It was such a ridiculous idea it was pure Pegasus galaxy.
Sighing, John helped himself to another not-quite-banana. Their taste was hard to describe, but they were rich in flavour, sweet and creamy as he bit into them. He might be getting just a little addicted.
Maybe that was part of Todd's plan. Get the humans of Atlantis addicted to fruit only he could provide, to keep them dependant on him.
It wasn't even that strange a plan, as far as Wraith plans went. He'd heard far worse.
Or maybe Todd was just trying to keep them as healthy as possible, for a future snack.
John had to admit that as far as evil plans went, one that involved feeding him lots and lots of delicious fruit wasn't the most unpleasant evil plan he'd ever heard of.
He picked up another not-banana and peeled it deftly. At least he was getting a healthier diet out of whatever it was the Wraith was planning. Healthier and more varied. Besides, there was no denying the fruit was delicious.
*Rodney rolled his eyes and washed his food down with a gulp of coffee. "Sheppard really shouldn't be allowed to eat that stuff in public," he grouched, eyeing the spectacle on the other table.
Radek cocked his head as he followed Rodney's gaze. "You must admit," he offered, "he has talent with the not-bananas."
Rodney snorted, accidentally inhaling a mouthful of coffee.
The next time Todd came by, to negotiate a truce for certain planets, New Athos included, he seemed to have changed tactics. Instead of the fruit he'd been bringing John for a while, he brought only the Wraith version of an USB stick, which he handed to John as they stood in the hallway after the meeting.
John took the device and pocketed it, offering an automatic "thank you", all the while thinking about all the things that could go wrong when using Wraith tech. He'd have to ask Rodney to set up a computer that was entirely disconnected from the main frame before looking at it.
He looked at the Wraith as they walked back to the pier where his Dart was landed. Despite trying his best, he still had no clues as to whatever it was Todd was up to. There had to be something; Wraith didn't offer gifts without an ulterior motive, and he was smiling, which was never a good thing. Any smugness from any Wraith was entirely a bad sign, and particularly when the Wraith was Todd, because they never knew where they had him. He'd come in there, looking all fancy in a new and extra-sweeping coat, those fancy rings the Wraith liked so much on several fingers on both hands. All dressed to impress, so people wouldn't look too closely at his motives for being all nice, no doubt.
Frowning, John took some comfort in that surely nobody in Atlantis would fall for that, no matter how much effort Todd seemed to have made to look less scruffy and feral, and more classy and elegant in a sort of goth opera kind of way.
The damn Wraith had even brushed his hair. Not enough to make it all slick and smooth like the way some Wraith wore their hair, but enough that most tangles had been dealt with, and he'd even tied some of it back. John wondered how many hours that had taken Todd to manage, considering the usual state of his hair. It certainly looked all soft and fluffy like that.
Apparently even Wraith hair was more manageable than John's, provided they took the time to deal with it.
That Todd had made the effort to dress up just proved John right, though, the way he saw it. He'd never make that sort of effort if he didn't plan on gaining something from it. He could look as good as he wanted; John still wasn't going to believe he wasn't up to something.
He didn't take his eyes off of Todd until the dart was out of sight.
Later, once Rodney and Zelenka both had assured that the terminal couldn't affect the Atlantis main frame no matter what, John opened the information package on the Wraith USB to find a series of gate addresses. That had to be proof that Todd was up to something, he decided, and went to convince Woolsey to send a MALP through to the first address on the list.
The telemetry they got back showed an uninhabited planet with tropic beaches as far as the eye could see.
John stared at the screen and wondered how a surfer's wet dreams could possibly be useful in a Wraith plot. He couldn't think of anything.
* The memory stick held four other gate addresses. All were to uninhabited planets, each of them beautiful locations that would have been prime beta site material had they not come from a Wraith. One was a world that seemed to be one big orchard, fruit trees and berry-bearing bushes as far as the eye could see. Another planet was actually a moon, but with breathable atmosphere, and a similar geographical nature to Earth. Yet another was full of naturally occurring structures that formed a fanciful obstacle course for the jumpers.
The last world was a world of endless grass plains and horse-like creatures that Teyla recognized as being easily tamed and horse-like in function, too.
Looking over the data on the worlds, Rodney decided they had to have a security breach somewhere. The only way the worlds could have been more perfect was if there'd been a ferris wheel world in there.
The next time a Wraith came to Atlantis, it wasn't Todd, but one of his Hive, a scientist who was downright short for a Wraith, but with the arrogance of a Queen. The scientist was there to trade information, but the solid box he carried was pressed into John's hands.
"The commander wanted me to give you that," the scientist said, something akin to dry amusement in his voice as he spoke, before wandering off to the labs with a group of marines trailing behind him, ignoring them all like they were a nobleman's entourage, not guards.
The box was heavy. John frowned, but carried it all the way to his quarters, unwilling to ask for help. The rest of the Atlantis crew didn't seem to realize that a Wraith plot was taking place at all, and whenever he tried pointing it out, all they did was to smile and shake their heads at him. If it hadn't been for the fact that everything else seemed completely normal around there, John would half suspect that Todd was using some sort of mind control on them.
Opening the box turned out to be more of a challenge than he'd expected. It had little panels that had to be pushed, realigned or otherwise manipulated, and being Wraith design, it was semi-organic and pulsed under his hands when he moved panels around. By the time he estimated he was halfway into the box, John was forced to admit that he was having fun. The puzzle box seemed to react to his actions by changing around, so any one technique didn't work for long, forcing him to think of new things to try.
By the time he got it opened, he had a deep feeling of satisfaction and was actually rather excited to see what was inside the puzzle box.
The object inside was not Wraith in origin. The design was clearly Ancient, though he wasn't entirely sure what, exactly, it was. It was a model of sorts, it seemed, about half the length of his forearm, and looked a bit like the illicit love child of a jumper and a helicopter. When he picked it up, the sort of rotor blades twitched and the model lit up, blue light running along the surface in intricate patterns. He really should take it to Rodney or Zelenka so they could check it for him, and make sure it wasn't going to explode, or take his head off with the rotors, but John didn't think Todd would send him a device to assassinate him. That was just a little too direct for him, and it would seriously inconvenience their alliance.
Ignoring his better judgement for a moment, John held the model up and away from his body, and thought "on" at it.
It took to the air, hovering as to wait for directions.
John checked the box again. There was a small, kind of triangular metal object in there, small enough to rest comfortably in even a child's hand. He picked it up and held it. Despite being metal, it felt warm in the hand, but it didn't really do anything else. He turned to see the almost-helicopter turn the same way.
He waved his hand. The almost-helicopter moved along with it. Another movement sent it soaring back into the air. John grinned. He was having fun.
Spending some time experimenting, he found that the model responded to his thought, not his movement, as long as he held the transmitter device. It was probably the Ancient version of a remote-controlled model airplane, he figured, but it was a lot more fun. A lot like flying a jumper, just in a much smaller scale, and a rotor craft rather than the jumper's propulsion engines.
He knew he should let someone look at it, for safety's sake. He would, too.
For now, he made it soar again, circling around him in a lazy spiral, and remembered what it had been like being a kid, dreaming of flying into the blue skies some day.
*"The Colonel is still clueless?" The Wraith scientist asked, quiet enough to not draw attention from the marines.
"Yes, yes," Radek replied, not looking up from his screen. "And your commander is still obsessing?"
The Wraith snorted. "Yes. It is most embarrassing, truly, for a commander of his standing and age to act like a juvenile with his first crush." He leaned in and pushed a few buttons, ignoring the way the marines lifted their weapons as he did.
"It is all very entertaining, though," Radek said, trying to take his mind off of having the Wraith's feeding hand in close proximity.
"That it is," the Wraith agreed, chuckling a little. "Colonel Sheppard does not seem to get it."
"Maybe your commander should try flowers next? It is traditional."
John stared at the thing in the pot. The thing stared back. It didn't even have eyes, but it was definitely staring right back at him. Dr. Parrish had confirmed that it was some sort of a plant, probably an alien version of a fly trap. John was calling it a snapdragon. It might not be correct taxonomy, but it looked a little like a dragon's head, or lizard's, and it snapped. It had almost taken his fingers off a few times.
It was another "gift" from Todd. The Wraith had dropped by unexpectedly, bringing the strange plant and shoving it into John's arms. He had been uncharacteristically silent, and had left shortly after, leaving John with a plant that was trying to kill him.
At least the plant was obviously part of an evil plot. Presumably, it would grow much bigger and eat him, or something like that. It seemed a little strange, because with the way Todd tended to look at him, he could swear the Wraith wanted to eat him himself, and not let a plant do it, but he had no idea what Todd thought most of the time. He was a ten thousand year old alien vampire insect, after all.
John kept telling himself he'd shoot the thing, or burn it, or even toss it out of a space gate, but he never got around to it. He'd put the pot in the window sill, where it couldn't reach anything, and occasionally, he'd amuse himself tossing bits of food at it, which it'd always catch. He'd never gotten why some people talked to plants before, but this plant did seem almost alive. Well, of course it was alive, as Parrish would probably remind him, but it seemed almost sentient.
It didn't seem to grow any further as time passed. It anything, it seemed to become more used to him. It snapped at him less, though it still tried to bite everyone else that came by. He'd named it Audrey III. It just seemed right. Even if Rodney did accuse him of being a dork again.
A few weeks after he'd been given the plant, Lorne cornered him after he'd left the gym one day, Parrish in tow.
"Sir!" Lorne said, grinning. "Parrish found your plant in the Ancient database."
Parrish nodded. "It's called an Sefarra Ward-Plant. They're vaguely related to the fly traps on Earth, but they're actually intelligent. The Ancients created them as protection for a people on a world called Sefarra."
"Protection against what, exactly?" John asked. The plant was certainly a predatory plant, but he doubted it'd make much of a difference against Wraith, or anything else human sized.
"Apparently," Parrish said. "The natives of Sefarra had a problem with Iratus bugs, so the Ancients created these plants to help them protect themselves. They apparently respond well to their owners, and even more so to owners with the ATA gene."
John blinked in surprise. "It's an anti-Iratus bug plant?"
"Yes," Parrish confirmed. "The Ancients must have had some amazingly skilled botanical engineers. Imagine what we could have learned from them!"
An anti-Iratus plant. John could definitely live with that. "So, what happened to the Sefarrans?"
"The Wraith, we assume."
Right. Anti-bug, not anti-Wraith. They'd have to have been a lot bigger and scarier to deal with the Wraith.
Still, John made sure to feed Audrey III some extra treats before he went to bed that night. Couldn't hurt to have a guard dog. Even if it was a plant.
Though he still couldn't figure out what Todd's plan was. He was starting to wonder if the Wraith had lost his mind at some point, and John just hadn't noticed. Giving people flowers wasn't exactly a typical evil plot. Unless you knew the recipient was allergic, maybe.
It figured, John thought to himself as he fell, that the first person to ever bring him flowers was a Wraith who was probably planning to eat him.
*"With all due respect, commander," the scientist said, not looking up from his tablet. "A Sefarran Ward-Plant?"
"You were the one to suggest flowers," the commander the humans had named Todd replied.
The scientist shook his head a little. "I do believe that Dr. Zelenka had something more harmless in mind."
The commander snarled to himself. "Humans are entirely too complicated some times."
"Indeed," the scientist agreed. His mate had shown his interest by bringing him humans wearing pretty jewellery that he could take once he'd fed, and then by having his way with him up against a hibernation pod. None of this courting that humans insisted on, and rules for what you could and couldn't do while dating.
Glancing over at the scientist, the commander sighed as he picked up on the mental impression. His scientist was good, but he was vainer than any Queen he'd ever met, and anyway, Sheppard didn't wear jewellery. Nor would he want fresh humans. And though the rest of the suggestion was good, it wasn't viable unless he could convey his interest somehow. What he needed was something that would be the absolute perfect gift, something Sheppard would appreciate more than any other gift he'd found. Maybe then, they'd be able to get past this stupid courting phase.
If he could just find that one perfect gift to convey his interest with.
An idea dawned on him, and he immediately sent a revised version to the scientist, who did look up from his tablet this time.
"Well," the scientist agreed, already pulling up the schematics they'd need. "If nothing else, it is bound to be interesting. But if this doesn't work, then please, just ask him out for a date."
Pausing, he frowned. "Though I think the common human expression of dinner and a movie would be a bad idea."
Whenever Todd's hive was in orbit, John got nervous. Not obviously or jittery so, but it seemed like every time the Wraith brought a hive near Atlantis, it got blown up, infected or otherwise destroyed, or just attracted more hives. Considering the rate at which Todd tended to go through hives, John felt he had the right to be cautious. Still, Todd had promised to show them something, and considering that he never offered something for nothing usually, everyone was a mix of interested and paranoid. At least this, they seemed to realise was likely a Wraith plot.
He'd be the first to admit it made more sense as a plot than fruit, recreational planets, toys and plants did, but John was still certain Todd was up to something there, and that he just hadn't pieced all the clues together. There was something important he was missing, and the annoying thing was that he could almost put a finger on it, but it remained just out of reach. It was taunting him.
They were all gathered outside, near the landing docks, huddled in their warm jackets and scarves as they waited for whatever it was the Wraith was planning.
Two darts came down and landed on the dock, one landing decidedly more gracefully than the other. The canopies slid back, allowing the Wraith out. The pilot of the closer dart, the one that had landed so awkwardly, climbed out, dusting his coat off as he approached. John recognized the scientist he assumed was someone important in Todd's hive. It was hard not to recognize the only male Wraith he'd ever met that was shorter than him.
"Colonel," the Wraith greeted him, giving him a slight bow that seemed more sardonic than anything. "You will want to see this, I believe."
The other Wraith pilot climbed out of his dart and walked up to them, casually looming over everyone else there, as was the Wraith way. He was tall even for one of his species, large enough to pass for a warrior drone if he put on a bone mask. He said nothing, just watched them all in silence, standing right next to the scientist.
A bit too close, John noticed. Wraith really didn't have any concept of personal space. Of course, he'd already learned that from Todd.
"What, exactly, am I supposed to be watching?" He asked the scientist. There was nothing there, except two darts and a pair of Wraith.
The scientist made that amused half-snarl thing that Wraith did when they found something funny. "Just wait for a moment," he promised.
Still not sure what he was looking for, John turned his eyes back towards the space where the two darts were.
Except there wasn't two darts there any more. There was three, the last one hovering in mid-air between the other two. It didn't exactly look like a dart. There was some obvious design and structural differences, though it was obviously a Wraith dart. Just not one of the darts they were used to seeing. The dart landed without making any sound, touching down with easy grace. The canopy opened and Todd climbed out, looking rather smug.
"Sheppard," he greeted. "Do you like our new prototype darts?" He sounded smug, too, smug and rather proud.
Of course he liked the darts. He'd always liked darts; they were sleek and fast, and handled better than any plane he'd ever flown, except maybe the jumpers. The jumpers were easier to fly, of course, since he could understand their interface properly, but they did lack a little in the whole jet fighter image. The Wraith were masters of intimidating design. Apparently, they'd managed to master cloaking and hovering too, which wasn't exactly good news. At least Todd's hive weren't likely to share that information with any of the openly hostile hives.
"That really isn't a fair question to ask a pilot," John muttered, trying to fit that into his idea about the Wraith plot. It didn't make much sense that Todd would reveal his new weapons like that.
Todd merely grinned, showing all of those sharp teeth of his.
John wondered when he'd stopped being creeped out by that.
He took a few steps closer to the new dart, then paused, waiting for any reaction from the Wraith. When none came, he walked closer, taking the chance to see as much of the new dart type as he possibly could. He was vaguely aware of the rest of the people who'd gathered walking away, not particularly tempted to stay with the Wraith, but he was more interested in the dart. The interface had been improved, too, looking more like a cross between the dart interface and the jumper one, which made sense, since he could imagine that this new dart was made to challenge the jumpers better.
There was something odd about the interface, though. John touched it carefully, watching it light up under his fingers, like Lantean tech did. The writing and instructions that came up were all in English.
"This is..." He began, then jumped halfway out of his skin as Todd's voice came from right next to his ear.
"All in your language, yes," the Wraith almost purred.
It took John a great deal of willpower not to jerk away. "Why?"
Todd chuckled, the sound running down John's spine. "My head scientist and I have borrowed some ideas from the ones you call Ancients," he said. "Specifically, the genetic coding. This dart can only be flown by two people. One of those is me. The other one is you, John Sheppard."
John ignored the strange shiver the Wraith's way of saying his name caused. "Why me?" It didn't make any sense.
"Because this prototype is a gift for you."
That was entirely unexpected. Todd's gifts so far had been strange enough, especially since he had no idea why the Wraith were giving him gifts in the first place, but to give him a prototype dart was an entirely different category of gift entirely.
"What are you up to?" John demanded, turning to face Todd. "What is your plan?" He needed to know, before he went mad.
Making a sound that was sort of halfway between a purr and a snarl, Todd tilted his head and looked down at him, a strange glimmer in his eyes. "Humans are such high maintenance," he said. "You have complicated rituals for everything. From what intel I have gathered, I have been following the correct ritual for my intentions, though it seems as though I have still not managed to get my point across to you."
"What kind of ritual are you talking about?" John asked, feeling a little trapped between the dart and the Wraith. "I honestly have no idea what you're talking about here."
Todd growled to himself. "Forget it!"
Before John could ask any more questions, Todd grabbed his jacket and crushed their lips together. He wasn't a particularly good kisser, but then, Wraith probably didn't kiss much, with those teeth, and when John let his instincts take over and started kissing back, Todd picked up on it quickly. He had a remarkably agile tongue, and he was a quick learner.
When they broke apart, John was gasping for air. Todd wasn't nearly as winded, though he seemed to be leaning on John anyway, forehead resting on John's shoulder. John had gotten one of his hands tangled into the Wraith's hair, and he didn't really feel like letting go. It was a lot softer than he'd expected.
Todd let John catch his breath before kissing him again, apparently eager to show off how fast he'd learned.
It would seem his evil Wraith plot wasn't so much sucking the life out of John as trying to suck his tonsils out.
John would have to admit that was a Wraith plot he could live with.
*The scientist watched the display with a kind of detached amusement, leaning back into his much taller mate. The commander should have done that from the beginning, he shared with his mate, instead of fooling around with the human ways. The Wraith ways were better.
He smiled, knowing things on the hive could finally go back to something resembling normalcy, and went back to using his powers to encourage humans from straying too close.