The being he examined looked oddly human to his Wraith eyes. His features a subtle and perverse blend of human and wraith genetic expression. The predator mated to the prey. His hair...a rejection of the displays of race among his vampiric brethren, was shorn to barely an inch long.
"You can only be Todd." The short haired one said, examining his rival as closely as the other looked at him. "~His~ pet wraith." There was no confusion as to who he was talking about, only one man fit the bill. When it came to these two wraith,
there was only Sheppard.
The other had no reaction that would be obvious to a human observer, but Michael smiled showing his razor edged teeth, weapons he had chosen not to breed out of his flock, enjoying the anger and frustration on his rival's face. He had little doubt that if possible, Todd would have reached out and strangled him. Or fed on him. While Michael had weaned out the hunger in himself and his people, Todd was still just a plain old ordinary wraith, with needs and vulnerabilities to exploit. He could not go long without the imperative to feed taking over.
Todd lifted his chin at the expression on Michael's face. The hybrid looked...superior, disdainful of what he himself had once been.
"I have found humans useful." Todd admitted, fighting to keep his tone mild and non-reactive. He could not explain the reaction that bound him to the human man since the human had willingly sacrificed his life-energy so they might, together, escape captivity.
The binding had only grown stronger when Todd had given back what was taken, and a little more, though the man didn't know that. Yes, Sheppard was stronger, faster, physically younger than he had been before meeting Todd. Apparently Sheppard was not aware of the change.
Yet, unlike other wraith who had bound human prey to them, Todd did not have Sheppard there, at his side, serving him. Sheppard was not a wraith lover. He might never be. Todd was left knowing the attachment was a weakness, a glaring signal to any who would care to exploit it, that he was not untouchable, that he was not as invincible as he had to be. But, Todd was strong enough, none had succeeded to depose him from his place. So far.
"As have I." The smile was even broader this time. Todd did not like it. Especially not from a half dozen steps away. "They have many uses, though I have not thought of him having the use you would put him to."
Todd bared his teeth. "I have fed on him, and returned to him what I tasted."
"So you think him marked as your own? Do other wraith honor that mark even in this lean time?" It was said with real curiosity. "Does he know what use you would put him to if you could?"
"They do not dare to do otherwise. I have risen in rank." Todd addressed the first question, ignoring the second.
"His allegiance has done well for you both." Michael said, his eyes intent. "But I have no reason to honor such a thing as a mark from a wraith. The wraith have rejected me, why should I live by their rules? I am looking for your Sheppard. And when I find him, I will take him. He will be mine, not yours." There was a note of apology in the voice but it was well hidden behind the sneer.
"You would not dare." His voice had been deep before, but now it was a bass growl with
"I would. I will." Michael said, waving his hand dismissively, his fingers were human short, his palm without the feeding orifice, Todd grimaced at the deformity, feeling his face twist.
Michael bore on. "You can not have him. He has the Ancient gene. He is worth more than a body slave service or food. Whatever your intention is."
"He is mine." Todd asserted. "It is my mark that lives in him, that grows. I am why he is
not dead. He will not taste of human to you. That is if you could taste him."
The barb missed its mark it seemed, for when Michael responded his voice was calm.
Michael smiled again. "Perhaps it is what you have given him. Or perhaps it is the Iratus
gene. He is anything but merely human, many things live in him. The Iratus is only dormant. Or, perhaps you didn't know...genetics isn't your field is it?" He did not have to remind the other that it was his.
Todd was a brilliant mind, the wraith who knew him admitted it. But...he had gone too many times to the humans, schemed and allied with them. He could not be trusted. Michael thought ironically that they were more alike than different, he and Todd. Certainly alike in their obsession.
"He is mine." Todd stated firmly, dangerously. "Do not tread lightly down the path you threaten."
Michael's expression could only be described as a smirk. "Never lightly." He agreed and his eyes let the other see how deadly serious he was. "Does he know who's leash waits for him? I wonder which he would tolerate? Your leash...or mine? Which face would he want to wake to? Yours? Or mine. I at least look somewhat human, while he must see you as the animal you are."
"Do not forget you are wraith, Michael. Do not forget and think you can set yourself above us. To him you are as much wraith as I. And more a monster. You chose to prey on humankind, when you do not need to. Sheppard would make the distinction. I think, yes...he would prefer me. I am honest about what I am. While you..pretend to be what you are not." Todd was utterly serious.
Michael for all his intelligence, for all he shared more genes with the humans, knew them less than Todd did. Todd who had sought out and worked with humans. It had been grudging at first on their part, manipulative on his own, but he had never misrepresented himself. He had no illusions. "You are blind if you think Sheppard sees you as human."
"As blind as you? You who think he will accept his place with you?" Michael shot back. "He will kill you first. You will die with his lead in your belly, his knife wet with your blood before you will see him kneel to you."
Todd heard the desire to strike out in his opponent's tone. He did not let his triumph show. "His knife in my belly, perhaps. But it will not end there." He caressed his hand low on his own slender belly then ran it up his throat in a gesture even the hybrid could not have forgotten how to interpret. The memories were never so distant as to have faded completely, memories of time spent on his own knees.
The wraith fire had not completely faded in those too human eyes, Todd decided when he met the other's slitted glare. Whatever it was Michael told himself, he was not human. It was Todd's turn to smirk as Michael turned on his heel and walked away on the brink of losing control. He burned, did Michael, knowing Todd had had what Michael had never tasted, and with his half human body, what Michael could never have. Todd had tasted Sheppard, more than once. Michael could not deny that, could not erase it.
It wasn't over between him and Michael, Todd knew watching the other walk away. But he also knew when it came to trusting monsters, Sheppard would trust him before he would trust Michael. Todd would watch, and wait and serve when it served his interest to do so. The strings that bound them drawing tighter and tighter, Until the day when Sheppard would realize where he belonged. It would take time.
Time was easy.