The Cave

Title: The Cave
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis, tiny bit of NCIS
Characters:  So many Sheppards, Tony DiNozzo (Alex Sheppard), Rodney McKay, and many more
Genre: Slash and Het (several pairings, all implied)
Prompt: Cave
Word Count: 1,000
Summary: John’s brother was apparently eaten. By a cave.
Warnings: No beta, murky timeline, canon? what canon?
Author Note: Not part of my If Found… verse, but sort of an unconnected AU of it with similar backstory. If you haven’t read that, all you need to know is that Tony DiNozzo IS Alex Sheppard. Yeah, I wrote fanfiction of my own work.

– – – –

“A cave… ate him,” John repeated slowly, trying not to panic. From the moment Major Lorne returned with only half his team, panic had been building. Because notably absent was his brother, Alex.

Lorne’s expression was stiff. “We were about ten meters from the opening to what looked like a cave—we’ve been to that location repeatedly. When Agent Sheppard walked near it, the rocks all shifted and this energy field seemed to reach out and grab him. He disappeared into the rock formation. When everything settled, there was no more opening—just a solid face. I left two Marines at the site and immediately returned.”

The muscles in John’s jaw worked for several seconds before he tapped the headset and ordered his team and team five to gear up. “Meet me at the gate in five minutes, Major.”

“Yes, Sir.”

As soon as Lorne was gone, Rodney peeled himself away from the wall. “We’ll get him back, John.”

John rubbed his forehead, wondering how this could go so wrong so fast. After years, the Pegasus galaxy was reasonably safe. They had three ZPMs on Atlantis to power the shields if something were to happen. Earth also had a ZPM, so when the Daedalus needed repair, it had been easy enough to request Matt. O’Neill had authorized his whole family to come. It had seemed like a good idea.

“I should have known,” John whispered.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Then Rodney made a face. “Okay… maybe.”

It seemed like everywhere Alex went, he got kidnapped or held hostage. It would be comical if it didn’t shave ten years off John’s life every time. He’d been held hostage at Area 51 twice and abducted once, another hostage situation in Cheyenne Mountain while on assignment, and abducted from the SGC by the Asgard. Not to mention that convenience store nightmare last Christmas.

They quickly went to gear up. “We’ve been to that planet a dozen times,” John groused on the way. “Nothing has ever happened. How could a cave freaking eat him?”

They’d barely made it into the locker room when Colonel Mitchell came barreling around the corner, obviously furious. “I thought you said that planet was safe.”

John fought back any retort and focused on getting his gear. He tried not to think too hard about Mitchell’s relationship with Alex. Just like he refused to contemplate how Ronon was chasing Mattie all over the damn city, or how much Mattie wanted to get caught. As long as he didn’t think about it, he didn’t have to beat the crap out of Ronon and Mitchell for getting his little brothers dirty.

When it was clear that John wasn’t going to say anything, Mitchell began to grab his own gear while muttering dire imprecations.

“What about your dad and David?” Rodney asked as they headed toward the gate. Dad was on the mainland getting a tour from Woolsey, and David was with Sam Carter and another team investigating some old Ancient’s lab.

Before he could answer, he encountered Matt, who was waiting with Ronon and obviously intent on going with them.

“You are not going.” Before Matt could get a word out, John held up a hand. “I don’t have time to argue. You’re not military, Matt. This planet has always been safe before, but its rock formations have also never eaten anyone. You have to stay here. Tell dad and David when they come back to the city. Not before. Commander Thompson is in command.” Thompson was actually the CMO, but had twenty-five years in the Navy under his belt, John had no reservations about leaving Atlantis in his hands.

Matt reluctantly gave ground. “Just bring him back.”

John nodded shortly. In another minute, the eleven people slated for Alex-rescue were walking through the gate, immediately setting out for the ‘cave’.

They’d been moving at a brisk clip for about five minutes when he spotted two Marines with Alex between them headed their way. John quickly closed the distance, feeling like he could finally breathe again.

When he got closer, he could see that Alex was wobbly on his feet and looked spaced out. He was incapable of answering questions. John just yanked his brother into a hug, getting minimal response. Then Mitchell was all over Alex. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had been gone for a couple years, and Mitchell had shown quite often that he wasn’t hiding their relationship.

“What happened?” he asked Corporal Matthews.

“A few minutes ago the cave just sort of… spit him out, sir. We immediately headed back for the gate.”

“We should split up,” Rodney interjected. “We need some readings on the ‘cave’, and the rest should take Alex back to Atlantis.”

“No,” John said sharply. “No one goes near any rocks on this damn planet until we find out what happened.”

– – – –

John paced outside medical. It had been nearly two hours since Commander Thompson had begun to examine Alex. His whole family plus Rodney, Carter, Ronon, and Mitchell were clogging the hallway, waiting for news.

Thompson finally emerged. “He’ll be fine. About twelve hours of good sleep will set him to rights.”

Knees weak with relief, John managed, “What happened to him?”

“According to Agent Sheppard, the structure is the home of energy lifeforms that can manipulate matter. They formed their home to look like indigenous rock.”

“And why did they take my son?” Dad asked.

“We’ve been in that area repeatedly,” Rodney added. “They’ve never bothered us before.”

Thompson looked like he was fighting a smile. “They found his mind to be entertaining. Agent Sheppard indicated that it seemed like they managed to take a copy of all his memories. They appear to like movies. He did secure an agreement that they would never do anything like this again. Whatever they did completely drained his energy reserves.”

John blinked.

“Why now?” Rodney persisted.

“Apparently, his was the first mind they didn’t find… boring.”

“What?” Rodney nearly exploded. “My mind is not boring!”

“Rodney…” John sighed.

– – – –

Author Note:

The Big Short is a short-story challenge on Rough Trade based on thematic or character prompts. The maximum word count for themes is 1k, for characters it’s 2k. They are not beta’d. I re-read them looking for errors but that is all.

Each short story is complete as is. They will not be expanded on, there will be no sequels, they are probably not connected to anything else, and they are not intended to prompt other writers. If you find inspiration in them, that’s lovely, but please write your own thing. My works are not up for adoption.


  1. Deirdre Morrissey

    This is brilliant and hilarious! I especially like the last few lines – Rodney’s mind boring! I Iove the idea of fanfiction for your fanfiction – particularly if it involves Tony as Alex – and I can’t be the only one, so if you felt so inspired again, be sure you’d have a lot of happy readers. And there are so many tantalising hints – maybe fanfiction of the fanfiction of the fanfiction?! Thanks for this.

  2. I laughed so hard about Rodney’s comment *LOL* – thank you so much for sharing this amazing work

  3. “My mind is not boring!”, love it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Poor Rodney, he would hate the idea of being boring!

  5. I smiled the entire time I read this. It’s wonderful. And I know you said it’s complete in and of itself, but it reads like part of the “If Found, Please Return” story. Which is another excellent read. I do love your work.

  6. This was so great! I love this universe (and the fact that you wrote fanfic of your own work – awesome), and the end cracked me up. Brilliant. So glad to see your new stuff!!

  7. Eaten by a Cave seems a very Tony/Alex thing to happen.

  8. That was fun. Thanks. I can so see Rodney being offended by that ?

  9. Does the “if found…” verse have another name? I thought I’d read everything on the site multiple times but I’m not placing that and I can’t seem to find it in the lists, though I assume I’m just looking in the wrong place and my brain is currently malfunctioning. Though the thought of there being more stories of yours that I haven’t read yet is pretty exciting, so there is some wishful thinking as well. As always thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us all.

  10. I love this verse… i can’t wait to read “If Found…” again! Thanks for posting this. You really made my Monday.

  11. Sweetie, I scared the damned dog when I burst out laughing after reading the line about Ronan and Mitchell getting John’s little brothers all dirty. Thank you so much. ❤️

  12. bwaaa hahahah Boring minds.

  13. I love this every time I read it. And I just cackle at Rodney’s indignation that the beings might think he’s boring. LOL

  14. Oh this was awesome! It’s like a mini-sequel to If Found, Please Return and that’s probably my favorite fic of yours. I’ve read it twice this WEEK! And I love the tweaking Rodney’s vanity about his mind. Awesome!

  15. This made me snort, giggle. Loved this and the familiar characters. Very awesome.

  16. This was great!!

  17. Brilliant and funny. Enjoyed John being annoyed about Mitchell and Ronon getting his brothers ‘dirty’. 🙂

  18. Dear Lord, I laughed so hard. Loved this, and now I am really hoping that you are able to find some time and the muse hits you to do a sequel to If Found, Please Return. Great job.

  19. ‘John fought back any retort and focused on getting his gear. He tried not to think too hard about Mitchell’s relationship with Alex. Just like he refused to contemplate how Ronon was chasing Mattie all over the damn city, or how much Mattie wanted to get caught. As long as he didn’t think about it, he didn’t have to beat the crap out of Ronon and Mitchell for getting his little brothers dirty.’

    Best paragraph ever! So into John’s head and I love Matt!

  20. This made me literally LOL! We do love our trouble magnets. ??
    (And is Patrick hoping they’ll find some Ancient artificial wombs, so grandkids won’t all be up o Dave?)

  21. Tis the season to think about “that convenience store nightmare last Christmas” and giggle into a cup of coffee.

  22. Okay so the cave didin’t really eat Alex but that image is going to stay with me forever anyway. And he did get kidnapped again technically lol.

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