Title: Walking Shadows

Author: Settiai

Disclaimer: "Stargate Atlantis" and other related characters belong to their copyright holders. No infringement is intended. This story, such as it is, was written as a sign of respect and love for the characters, the series, and their creator. I claim no ownership of the aforementioned series and characters.

Rating: PG

Summary: John had been to enough museums to know that skeletons weren't supposed to move.

Feedback: Comments and helpful criticisms are always appreciated.

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John Sheppard had been to enough museums to know that skeletons weren't supposed to move.

Of course, considering the nice-sized hole in his thigh that was well on its way to becoming infected, he was fairly certain that it was just his eyes playing tricks on him. Or, at least, he hoped it was just his eyes playing tricks on him. He reluctantly glanced over at McKay, who was guarding the entrance to the cave they were in. "McKay, I think I'm starting to see things."

"Don't tell me that," Rodney snapped. He glanced over at John, not even attempting to hide his worry. "Things are bad enough as it is without you hallucinating on me."

John snorted and gestured toward the long-decayed skeleton lying several feet away from him, near the back of the small cave they were in. "I'm just imagining that our buddy over there's moving, right?"

Rodney glanced over at the skeleton and started to reply. Then he did a double-take. "Oh, that can't be good." He quickly pushed himself to his feet and made his way over to where the bones lay; then he knelt down beside them. "Crap," he muttered after a second or two had passed.

"What's wrong?" John asked, pushing himself up a little straighter with a grimace. "Don't tell me that they really were moving."

"Fine, I won't tell you that," Rodney said tersely, glancing up at the ceiling worriedly. "Now shut up."

He stood back up and hurried over to where he had been sitting. Tightening his grip on his gun, Rodney knelt down and carefully aimed it at the plant-covered entrance to the cave.

"Rodney?"

"Seriously, Sheppard, you need to be quiet," Rodney shot back. "There's some kind of vehicle or something going over us. It was shaking the cave enough to make that skeleton move a little."

John glanced up at the ceiling, which suddenly seemed to be a lot less stable that it had just seconds before. "Think it's enough to cause a cave-in?"

Rodney flinched. "Did you have to mention that?" he asked. "I was worried that someone would find the entrance, not that the ceiling was going to collapse! Now I'm going to think about them both!"

Shaking his head, John started to reply. He paused, though, to stare at something near the back of the cave. "Rodney?"

"What?" Rodney snapped, glancing back at him. When he saw the look on John's face, though, his irritability disappeared almost immediately. "What's wrong?"

"Just out of curiosity," John asked, just a hint of concern in his voice, "do you see anything . . . glowing? Near the back of the cave?"

Rodney followed the other man's gaze with his own eyes. "No," he said after a second, glancing back at Sheppard suspiciously. "Why?"

John took a steadying breath as he leaned back against the wall. "Okay then, this time I am really seeing things."

"You better be kidding," Rodney said slowly, his gaze never moving off of the other man. "Please tell me you're kidding."

"I really wish that I was," John replied quietly.

Rodney took a shaky breath before turning his attention away from Sheppard and back toward the entrance to the cave. "What's taking them so long?" he muttered. "If they made it to the 'gate, they should have been back by now."

Behind him, John gave a cold chuckle. "Maybe they got captured," he suggested.

"Will you just . . . stop talking," Rodney said, a tiny hint of panic in his voice. "I can come up with my own worst-case scenarios, thank you very much."

"Just trying to help," John replied, coughing just a bit as he spoke.

Rodney started to reply, but his mouth snapped shut when a rustling sound suddenly came from the bushes covering the entrance to the cave. He quickly brought his gun up and aimed it at the opening. Behind him, a soft sound let him know that Sheppard was pulling out his own weapon, just in case.

As the sounds of movement got even louder, Rodney kept his gun trained on the opening. At least he did until Ronon stepped through, following almost immediately behind by Teyla. When he saw it was them, he quickly lowered his weapon. "You could have given us some warning it was you," he snapped. "I could have shot you!"

"You wouldn't shoot until you knew who it was," Ronon said simply.

"That's what Ford said on P3X-627," John said with a weak chuckle as Ronon knelt down beside him and glanced at his wounded leg. "And we all know what happened there."

Ronon raised an eyebrow. "I don't."

John grinned, though it faded a bit as Teyla also knelt down beside him. "That was some time ago," she said, shooting him a chastising look. "Rodney was still learning to use your weapons. Besides, I am certain that no one wants to hear that story."

"I do," Ronon said, grinning.

"Yeah, yeah. Fun times," Rodney said, cutting Sheppard off as the other man opened his mouth to talk. "What took you so long? And why didn't you bring the cavalry?"

Ronon glanced over at him. "Couldn't make it to the 'gate."

Rodney stared at him before turning slightly and resting his back against the wall. "So we're on our own."

"Not entirely," Teyla said quickly, shooting Ronon a look similar to the one she had just bestowed upon John. He had the good grace to look at least slightly sheepish. "Since we had not contacted Atlantis, Doctor Weir opened the Stargate to contact us. We were luckily near enough that our radios worked. Major Lorne should be on his way even as we speak."

"Why didn't you just say that?" Rodney snapped, glancing over at Ronon.

The other man shrugged.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "I'm surrounded by sadists," he grumbled. Then his gaze drifted past Ronon and Teyla to focus on John, who was staring at something near the back of the cave again. "Please don't tell me you're still seeing dancing lights and walking shadows. Can't you just pass out from the blood loss like a normal person?"

"Rodney!" Teyla said, a chiding tone in her voice as she turned toward him.

John grinned, albeit a little more unsteadily than usual. "Just for that, Rodney, I'm telling Ronon about P3X-627."

Before Rodney could reply, Ronon held up his hand. "Tell me later," he said, suddenly pushing himself to his feet and starting toward the cave's entrance. "Wait here. I'll check to see if it's safe."

Rodney frowned and listened for a second as Ronon disappeared outside. When he heard the familiar sound of a jumper, he shook his and pushed himself up. "Come on," he said, glancing over at Teyla. "Help me get Elwood P. Dowd here up on his feet."

"Hey!" John protested.

Teyla looked between the two of them and frowned. "I assume that name comes from one of your television shows?"

"Actually, it's a movie," Rodney said as they each grabbed one of the injured man's arms. "I'll ask around when we get back to Atlantis and see if someone will let you borrow it."

John snorted as they helped him to his feet. "You won't have to look far," he said with a slight grimace. "I've got it on my shelf."

Rodney paused for a second and stared at him.

"What are you staring at, Harvey?" John asked with a weak smirk, earning a bemused look from Teyla.

She raised an eyebrow. "I assume this movie will explain that reference as well?"

Before Rodney had a chance to respond, Ronon stuck his head back in the cave. "It's clear," he said, raising an eyebrow at the look on Teyla's face. "Beckett's in the jumper."

"That's the best news I've heard all day," John said, still smirking though it was quickly fading in strength. "Let's go home."

Rodney and Teyla barely kept him from hitting the ground as he suddenly slumped forward. They shared a look before carefully lowering him to the cave's floor and glancing expectantly at Ronon.

Shaking his head, Ronon walked over and picked the colonel up as if he didn't weigh anything. He gently flung him over his shoulder, careful to not jar John's injured leg.

Rodney glanced over at Teyla and shot her a tired smile. "Sheppard's right," he said wearily. "Let's go home."