Teyla felt nervous as she stood outside Sheppard's room. She had been unable to sleep last night, pervaded by a sense of worry. Worry at Sheppard's mental health. Worried because she knew he was keeping something from her. Sheppard may value his distance but Teyla, whether he liked it or not, had become close to him. She could see through his mask. Tell something was wrong.

She squared her shoulders, flicked her hair back and pressed the bell to his room.

She hadn't expected him to answer, knowing he had had been in talks with Colonel Feldman and Doctor King for most of the morning, but the door opened and he was standing there with a look of surprise.



He glanced down at the floor and leaned in the doorway as if he were hiding something, "Uh, I was just on my way somewhere."

"I will not keep you long," Teyla said, trying to look over his shoulder.

In the darkness of the room, she could see his tactical vest lying on his bed with his pack. Her eyes drew downward and she realised that Sheppard had started wearing his calf holster again.

"What….." Sheppard moved to block her view, "What's up?"

"I was worried about you. After last night…"

"Oh that," he looked embarrassed, "That was nothing. Sorry I woke you."

Teyla smiled, "It did not sound like….nothing."

They stood in silence for a minute.

"John, is there something wrong? You seem….." she couldn't find the words to describe his actions and tailed off hoping he would understand her.

"I'm fine Teyla. I was just…" he looked over his shoulder guiltily, "I'm fine."

Teyla wondered why he was being so…evasive, so secretive and simply said, "I hope you can forgive us for what happened on that planet."

Sheppard swallowed visibly, "I really have to be somewhere right now," His hand brushed her shoulder, "We'll be fine."

Teyla wasn't quite so convinced. He was acting strangely.

The door swept closed and Teyla caught a glimpse of Sheppard reaching for his pack and vest.


Not going off-world left a lot of time to stand around. Ronon and Teyla had passed the afternoon with another sparring session, had taken lunch together in the commissary and were now leaning against the railing of the balcony overlooking the Gateroom.

"Do you think Rodney is right?"

Ronon continued to stare down at passing personnel and shrugged.

"I do not believe John would hold this over us."

Ronon looked to her, "Sheppard has enough on his cup as it is."

Teyla restrained her smile and said, "I believe the phrase is…..enough on his dish."

Ronon scowled, "Whatever, cup, dish. Sheppard needs time. His own time."

"But, are you not concerned he will have us put onto other teams? Rodney may be right. He might be unable to forgive us."

"Whatever Sheppard does I'll go with."

Teyla leaned back, hands gripping the railing, "I do not know how you can be so……."

Ronon turned to her again and met her with serious eyes, "I know Sheppard. He won't split up the te-"

Ronon's words were cut off by the sound of the gate alarm going off. Military personnel seemed to spill out from nowhere, securing the gate with their weapons.

After a few minutes, the gate shield was dispersed and a Lantien team started to emerge into the gateroom. Teyla couldn't believe it when she spotted Sheppard amongst them. He didn't notice them up on the balcony. He was tearing off his P90 with what seemed to be anger and exchanging a few heated words with Major Lorne.

"Sheppard," Teyla said with disappointment. And he was on another team. Perhaps he had lied to her.

Ronon was leaning over the balcony and watching Sheppard and Lorne.

"We need to tell Rodney."

Before Ronon could stop her, Teyla was storming off. Ronon watched her go and listened to the conversation filtering up towards him.

"I know what I saw Major."

"You were there Colonel. Are you suggesting Doctor Adamson is wrong?"

"I know what I saw. Are you telling me…" Sheppard stopped talking.

"Sir, perhaps you should go to the infirmary and get checked out?"

Ronon crouched down and waited for Sheppard's response. There was none. Sheppard shook his head, fixed Lorne with a glare and then shoved his way passed the other members of that team. He disappeared through one of the doorways.

Lorne looked up at Ronon, nodded and turned away.


When McKay walked into his lab, the last person he expected to see sitting on one of the stools, was Teyla. Usually it was Sheppard. Used to be.

Teyla jumped off the stool, "I think you are right,".

"I'm always right," McKay shot back with a smarmy smile, "But remind me. What am I right about this time?"

"About John."

McKay screwed up his face, "What about him?"

"Ronon and I saw him coming back from an Off-world mission-"

"What? How come he's been cleared for duty?"

Teyla held up her hand to quieten him, "- with another team.."

"What other team?"

"Does it matter?"

McKay set his coffee down angrily, "Well, that's just…..insulting."

"I went and saw him this morning. I think he was trying to hide it from me."

"I'm sure he was…..wait, you went and saw him? Did he say anything?"

Teyla shook her head.

McKay felt tense. Angry. Offended.

That's it!"


McKay marched through the halls and found Sheppard in the armoury stowing away his gear.

"Not reassigning the team huh?"

Sheppard stopped putting away his gear and threw him a look over his shoulder, "Not now."

McKay ignored the fact that Sheppard seemed to be vibrating with anger and continued regardless, "No now! I told you before I am not working with the cheese guy or the botanists or any other lower echelon team you chose to hide me away on."

Sheppard didn't turn around. "What?"

"You're trying to break up the team."

"Don't be ridiculous," he sneered.

"Then don't break up our team!"

"I'm not."

McKay was beginning to get annoyed. Sheppard still had his back to him and was methodically taking off his gear.

"Would you stop unpacking for one second and listen to me?"

Sheppard's back stiffened as if the words had got to him somehow.


Sheppard stilled.


Sheppard ignored him and that's when McKay snapped. He gave him a shove in his back. Sheppard stumbled forwards, bumped into the shelving unit and one of the packing crates on the top shelf, plummeted down and cracked Sheppard on the shoulder.

Sheppard dropped to his knee, let out an expletive and rubbed at the tender spot on his shoulder.

McKay stepped forwards to help him, but he was pushed away.

"Mckay I haven't been trying to break up the team. I've been trying to hold it together."
"By avoiding us!"


McKay sighed, "That just makes no sense."

Sheppard gritted his teeth and straightened up, kicking the crate with his boot.

"Feldman and King have been here reviewing my performance as commanding officer. They suggested the team split up after our last mission. I've just been trying to hold us together."

"They want us to split up?"

"Yes and I told them I wasn't going to do it."

"But…." McKay watched Sheppard grimace and rub at his shoulder, "-you could have just said!"

"I just wanted to get through this damn review. I didn't want to worry you."

"Well you did worry us!"

"Rodney, I wanted some space, that's all."


"Yes….space. The thing you have refused to give me over the last few days."

"Are you still angry?"

Sheppard looked at him.
"I wasn't, but now you dislocated my shoulder, I hate you again."


"I know."

"You know it wasn't us back on that planet right?"

"I know."

Sheppard leaned against the shelving unit and closed his eyes.

"Are we?"

One eye cracked open, "We're getting there."

"We need to get you to the infirmary."

"Just give me a second," Sheppard said sitting on the upturned crate.

"Why were you off world with another team?"

"I didn't know you were jealous."


"I went back to the planet."


"I just wanted to go back and check on something."

"Like what?"

"We'll talk about it later."

"You found something?"

Sheppard rubbed at his face, "No."

"What is it?"

Sheppard snapped, "Nothing. Just –"


"Just leave it Rodney. For once, just leave it the hell alone!"

McKay couldn't help but think there was something off about Sheppard at that moment. There was a look in his eyes, his glassy eyes, that just seemed…weird. He couldn't quite put his finger on it.

"Let's get you to the infirmary."

Sheppard swallowed, wiped his face with the back of his sleeve and got up unsteadily.

To McKay's outstretched hand, Sheppard practically snarled, "I don't need any help."

McKay nodded and stepped aside so he could pass.


While Beckett looked at Sheppard's shoulder, the rest of the team huddled on the other side of the infirmary waiting for a diagnosis. Sheppard was acting even stranger. His words were uncharacteristically spite filled, he was irritable and speaking to Beckett as if he were the enemy.

"Would you stop prodding me!"

They heard him announce.

"Colonel, I am trying to examine you. What's gotten into ye?"


"You can't fool me. I know something's up."

"Just get me something for the pain so I can get the hell out of here."

The side curtain swooshed open and Beckett pulled it closed before joining the team.

"Well?" McKay asked anxiously.

"It's just bruised," Beckett said in a quiet voice, "I don't know what's wrong with him."

"I do."

They all turned at the voice and saw Major Lorne standing there with a group of marines.

"Oh look, it's new team Sheppard," McKay said loudly.

Lorne gave him a look, "You need to close off the infirmary Doc."


"Because we suspect Sheppard is suffering the same effects his team were."

"Is that Lorne?" The curtain was pulled back and Sheppard tilted his head, "You have it don't you!"

McKay was even more confused now, "He has what?"

Sheppard laughed and wiped at the sweat dripping down the side of his face. He wasn't looking all that well, "He knows."

Lorne gave his team a nod and they walked over to Sheppard to restrain him. Each man grabbed his arms and Sheppard tried to pull free.

"Now hang on a minute," Beckett said, "He's injured his shoulder and he doesn't need you holding him like-"

Beckett marched over to Sheppard and reached out to pull one of the marine's hands off him. Sheppard reacted like a feral animal and bucked under their grip, going for Beckett with a malicious look in his eyes.

Beckett took a shocked step backwards.

Sheppard tried to kick out at the marines holding him and they tugged him tighter.

"Get the hell off me!" Sheppard shouted angrily.

"As you know," Lorne said, meeting Teyla and Ronon's eyes, "We went back to that planet earlier."

"Why?" Teyla asked.

"Sheppard…" he said, "He wanted to go back. Said he had a theory. Anyway……"

"What theory?" McKay regarded Sheppard as he struggled and swore.

"Not now McKay. Anyway," he continued, "When we got to the destroyed lab, there was……"

"Don't you say it Major!" Sheppard shouted.

Lorne continued, "……….. no sign of there having ever been a ZPM there."

"Don't lie Major! You know you took it!"

"We scanned the entire area and as you know Doctor McKay, if there had been a ZPM and an explosion then-"

"There would have been residual traces in the immediate environment," McKay sighed, "It's like radiation. It can hang around for years."

"So, it would seem that Colonel Sheppard was affected by the same thing you were."

"He was crazy too?" McKay rubbed at his face, "And there was no ZPM."

"He saw one because he wanted too," Teyla said sadly.

"It would appear so."

"But how?" McKay asked, "He's been fine."

Beckett's shoulders dropped, "Oh bloody hell."


"The Colonel mentioned he'd feeling off ever since he came back. When I took his temperature and ran tests there was no sign of anything being wrong. Just like when you got back."

Sheppard cursed and they all looked over.

"His ATA gene," Beckett said, "It must have delayed the effects."

"But…" McKay couldn't work it out, "But the gene."

"Aye, I guess they don't make them like they used too. The gene must have buffered his response to it and only now is it taking hold."

"Well what do we do?" Teyla asked.

""I guess we wait. Rodney, your symptoms disappeared after the destruction of the lab right?"

"Yeah…. ancients! They took their damn ZPM and left the virus! Are we ever going to meet an ancient that isn't a complete id-"

"I guess we just wait for this to run it's course."

"Lorne! Give it back!"

"Sir, there was no ZPM."

"You took it before I got there, I'm not an-" he kicked at a marines leg, "Idiot!"

"Colonel, calm down before you do yourself an injury."

"I'll do you an injury if you don't get these men off me!"

"What now?"

"We're going to have to restrain him," Beckett said, "So he can't hurt himself or anyone else."

"Don't come near me," Sheppard warned.

"How do you want to do this Doc?" Lorne took a careful step forwards.


Beckett was cut off before he could continue. Sheppard somehow managed to ease free of the marines. He arched his elbow up and caught one marine in the face, kicked out at the other sending him sprawling back into an instrument tray and retrieved a fallen P90. He held it up, smiled and shook his head when he noticed Ronon and Lorne going for their own guns.

"Nuh uh," he said raising his splinted hand, "I don't think so."

"Colonel, put that down. You're not well," Beckett said.

Sheppard smiled and unlatched the safety, "Now, Major Lorne. I want you to bring me the ZPM you have stolen."

"Sir," Lorne began, "There was no…"

Sheppard aimed upwards, released one bullet into the ceiling, and resumed aiming at his team, "No, there was. Now, let's try this again," Sheppard rubbed at his face, distracted and wobbled uncertainly on his feet.

"Okay," McKay intervened stepping forwards, "Lorne will go and get it but you have to understand that-"

Sheppard lashed out before McKay could say anything more. Sheppard used the butt of the P90 to bash him in the face. McKay dropped to his knees, blood spurting from his nose, and sat their with a dazed expression.

"Rodney, just shut up! You never stop talking," Sheppard smiled and turned to Ronon and Teyla, "You find that? He just talks and talks and talks. No wonder we're always getting attacked off world. He gives away our position by talking crap all the time."

McKay looked up from the floor.

"Oh don't look at me like that Rodney," Sheppard blinked and swallowed unsteadily, "You know it's true."

"You're not thinking straight John," Teyla said helping McKay to his feet, "Look at what you're doing."

Sheppard noticed that one of the marines was rousing and gave him a hard kick to his sternum, "Think straight. I remember saying that to you not so long ago," he wiped at his forehead.

"We were unwell. Just as you are now."

"I'm fine," Sheppard provided, "I feel fine."

His aim had lowered, the gun was pointing away and Ronon took the opportunity while it was wide open. He raised his gun, set it to stun and fired.

Sheppard dropped his weapon, muttered out a "you bastard" and the then dropped tonelessly to the ground.


Sheppard struggled with his bindings and felt the pull of pain in his shoulder. He didn't care. He wanted out. Wanted to get the ZPM!

His team were sitting around his bed. Traitors! Watching him as he pulled and tugged and writhed.

"Get me out of here," he said to Ronon.

"Come on," he looked at Teyla.

They gave him a sympathetic look but made no moves to help him.

"If you don't get me out of here I will have you reassigned."

He kicked at the railings.

"John, you must stay still."

"Lorne!" he called out, "Lorne!"

"He hasn't got the Zed pm, there never was one," McKay informed him.

"I'm not going to change," Sheppard mumbled, relaxing slightly.

"What is he on about now?"

"I have distance for a reason," Sheppard informed them.

McKay looked up from his laptop.

Sheppard laughed miserably and tried to pull at his restraints again. His wrists were red raw by now and bleeding in places but he couldn't feel it. He felt numb.

"You get too close," he muttered trying to get up and look at the door, look for Lorne, "And I'll run."

"Sheppard, maybe you should shut up before you say something you regret," Ronon advised from his chair.

"Get too close and I run," he repeated.

"We are…..close," Teyla informed him, "And you haven't run yet."

Sheppard met her eyes, "I want to. Had the chance to," he squirmed, "Didn't take it."


When Sheppard woke in the middle of the night, tired, confused and aching, he realised he had limited memory of how he had come to be in his current position. He was restrained and in the darkness of the infirmary he could see that his team were sitting around him, sleeping softly.

He pulled at his wrist and sucked in a hiss pf pain when it was sore.

McKay stirred and opened his eyes.



"What happened?" Sheppard whispered so not to wake the others.

McKay crept over to his bed and crouched next to him, "How are you feeling? Do you want me to get Carson?"

Sheppard shook his head, "No, I could do with a pee though."

"Do I look like a nurse?"

"In this light…"

McKay looked over his shoulder. The light in Beckett's office was off, the nurses were resting and the soldiers were outside the door.

"Are you going to hit me if I let you go?"

Sheppard pulled a face, "Why would I hit you?"

He was genuinely confused and trying to re-piece memories was beginning to hurt his head.

"Because you've been nuttso all night."

"Have I?"

"You don't remember?"

Sheppard shrugged and cursed when his shoulder hurt, "I remember going off-world and.."



McKay's hand hovered over his restraints.


"How can I trust you?" McKay whispered, "You could be lying and then when I let you go, you could snap my neck and-"

Sheppard chuckled dizzily, "Rodney, you talk too much. You know that?"

McKay was silent.

"What did I say?"


McKay started to undo his restraints, "It'll come back to you."

When the restraints were off, McKay took a step backwards as if he thought Sheppard might be violent. Sheppard couldn't understand it. He'd never lash out at his own team.

He gingerly edged to the side of the bed and McKay helped him get upright. He was unsteady on his feet; the world was swimming slightly as they headed towards the bathroom.

Once inside, Mckay stood outside his cubicle as he took care of business.

"So what happened?" Sheppard asked.

"You were-"

Sheppard flushed the toilet and unintentionally cut McKay off. He opened the cubicle door, "Jesus!"

McKay guided him over to the wash basin silently.

"What happened to your face?"

McKay's eyes were both bruised and his nose was splinted.

"And you didn't notice this before?"

"I was too busy trying not to pass out before I reached the toilet. Who did that to you?" Sheppard's voice, he realised, was filled with anger. Because if he ever met the man responsible he'd kill them, "That looks painful."

"You did it," McKay said.

Sheppard dried his hands, "What?"

"You gave me panda eyes."

"Pandas have white around their eyes."

"Whatever. You hit me, happy?"

"No, why would I be? Rodney, what the hell happened?"

Sheppard leaned against the basin, feeling more and more weirded out.

"You were affected by the same virus the rest of us were, only because of your ATA gene, it didn't hit you until earlier today."

Sheppard swallowed and felt sick.

"And you knew you weren't well. Didn't you?"

Sheppard could remember that part, "I was trying to protect you."

"Good job," McKay muttered, prodding at his nose.

"Oh god, I didn't hurt anyone else did I?"

"You weren't yourself."

Sheppard leaned against the wall even heavier.

"Are we okay?"

McKay smiled, "I think we're even."

Sheppard sighed. He thought they probably were.


McKay pulled a face every time he chewed, or swallowed or had a drink of coffee.

"How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?" Sheppard asked as he plonked his tray down next to McKay's and nudged him in the shoulder.

McKay attempted a scowl but even that hurt.

Sheppard wasn't looking all that hot himself. He was still bruised and covered in healing cuts, his fingers were splinted up and he was looking a little less clammy than the night before.

"I told you I was sorry," Sheppard said taking a bit of his oatmeal.


"You know, I still have your boot mark in my ribs," Sheppard said, holding his side and pulling a face, "Hurts like a bitch every time I sit or breathe,"

"Well………..I told you I was sorry about that."

"Hmmmm," Sheppard mumbled drinking his orange juice.

Teyla and Ronon joined them, Ronon dropping his tray and Teyla placing it carefully as they sat.

"Good morning John. You are looking better,"

"Yeah, well I'm free from the infirmary and King and Feldman have finally gone. I'd say that makes me feel pretty good."

"And you're staying?" McKay asked.

Sheppard nodded, "Turns out they want me to stay. They just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to……run off."

"Oh of course," McKay mocked, "Because Atlantis would fall apart without you."
"That's what I said," Sheppard said.

"And you're not going Teyla asked.

Sheppard met her eyes, a serious expression on his face, and said, "Not ever."

McKay cleared his throat, "Well, enough of the…uh….sentimentality huh?"

He reached over to Sheppard's tray and picked up his coffee.

"Hey!" Sheppard slapped at his hand.

"You owe me!"

"We're even remember?"

McKay smiled.

"Don't do it," Ronon said.

"Rodney," Teyla warned.

"What?" Sheppard narrowed his eyes.

"Colonel, I never did tell you about that ZPM you saw did i?"



Sheppard lazily walked through the field. His were team ahead of him, distant enough for him to really think about all that had happened over the last month. Not that he would ever admit it out loud, but their experience had brought the team closer. It wasn't a verbal closeness. They were just happy to exist as a unit. They hadn't asked him any awkward questions about his ex wife or about his past. He silently thanked them for that. Not so long ago he was about ready to snap. They'd let him pull himself together again. Rebuild the wall and compartmentalise. They'd allowed him his distance and maybe understood why he needed it.

No. Sheppard's grip tightened on his P90. He'd run from many things. He'd escaped his father and joined the Air Force, run from his wife to Afghanistan, left Afghanistan and the memories of Holland's death for Antarctica and when the opportunity to run away for good came, he arrived in Atlantis. He had always runaway, avoided difficult situations, avoided talking.

It was weird, but he felt if he wanted to talk to his team they were going to listen. He doubted he'd ever do it. Really open up. But they were there.

No. Atlantis was his final stop. He wasn't running away this time. No way. And for the first time in his life, his team weren't running away from him either.

McKay sped passed him and screamed, "Run!"

Sheppard rolled his eyes. Nope, not running away anymore.

Ronon rushed passed, "Get moving Sheppard!"

"John!" Teyla shouted, "Run!"

Sheppard smiled. Nope. He wouldn't be running away anymore.

That was unless a hundred spear wielding crazy cannibals intent on devouring them were heading his way. Which they were……….

Sheppard about turned and ran.

This time with his team.

The End

A/N: Well thank you to all that read this story. I hope you enjoyed and that it wasn't too abrupt an ending. I have too many ideas in my head begging to be written and I figured there wasn't much else I could do with it. However, feel free to add your own tags to this.

Again, thanks so much for reading.