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Burning

By Leesa Perrie

The questions burned inside of her, forcing her to ask against her better judgement.

“Is it true?”

He couldn’t face her, eyes down and staring at the laptop’s screen, his defence against her gaze.

“It is, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he answered, throat on fire, burning as he tried to hold his emotions inside.

“Why?”

“She would have died and I…I had nothing.” Shame coloured his answer, his face flushing with heat at being forced to admit it, especially to her.

“I’m surprised, and yet I shouldn’t be.” She studied him closely, knowing that he had changed since the first time she’d met him; the memory burned onto her brain and hard to forget.

“I had no other option. She would have died,” he repeated, trying to concentrate on his work while her eyes caused fiery holes in his façade.

“And Sheppard…”

“Stopped me.”

“And then…”

“Nothing. You read the report. He was showing Wallace the lab…”

“I read the report,” she agreed. “Didn’t believe a word of it.”

He looked at her then, worry and fear alight in his eyes.

“You won’t…”

“I would have done what he did, if it had been a member of my team.” And she would have, she knows that now, having questioned herself and seen the darkness hiding deep inside.

“Wallace agreed,” he said, pushing, explaining, anger simmering. “He volunteered. Wanted to make things right.” Close to flashpoint, he dared her to disagree and let the fire pour out.

“Yeah.” She believed that he believed that. Needed to, or else it would eat at him, burn him up inside. And she didn’t doubt it was true; that Wallace had agreed, after Sheppard had given him the facts, no doubt tailored to inspire guilt, maybe even despair.

She would have done the same for any of her team; Daniel, Cam, Teal’c, Vala, Jack. Would have done more if needed, and she had no doubt that Sheppard would have gone further if he’d had to. Like Rodney, who had offered himself, who had been locked out of his lab to stop him, who had tried to enter using Bill’s card…

She’d read all the reports; read between the lines.

How far would she go to save a team-mate, a friend?

The answer burned through her, stronger than the questions that started this had.

She would do whatever it would take.

Whatever.

The End

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