Title: Aftermath (Tag for "The Defiant One")
Disclaimer: Own nothing, not making any money, and never plan to. MGM, Gekko, and the brilliant writers, cast and directors made this whole thing up. I'm just feeding my addiction.
Characters: Sheppard, McKay, Weir, Ford, Teyla and all the supporting cast all play a role.
(Originally posted January, 2005. Repost April 30, 2005--just learned that the jumper didn'thave a shield on its own. So, retooled the beginning a little).
BIG HUGE SPOILER FOR "THE DEFIANT ONE." Don't read this if you haven't seen the episode, because it gives a MASSIVE plot point away. So, wait, watch the episode, then read it, if you still want too.:)
A/N: This was inspired by a desperate need to finish The Defiant One, which felt really incomplete to me, and to respond to something I saw in the Forums on Gateworld—people mocking Weir for bringing up the Geneva Convention. Demonstrates that those folks do not understand what the Geneva Convention is intended to do, or how important it is to maintain, antiquated or no….
A/N 2: Oh, also inspired by Bastet's great "War of Wills" – she got me thinking about law out on the frontier.
Description: Tag for the Defiant One, picking up at the same point where the actual episode ends. What if Brendan Gall was right? What if people really would talk…?
CHAPTER ONE: PUTTING THE SHIP BACK TOGETHER
"You have to put the ship back together," Sheppard said, lifting his hands to encompass the jumper, taking a breath before adding, "provided," he gave a small smile, "you can disarm the shield."
Rodney looked at the gun in his hand, distracted by it. "Fine," he agreed disinterestedly, looking up again, "as long as we can go home."
Sheppard nodded, even chuckled a little, watching as Rodney holstered the gun away.
"And you can drive," he said, trying to install a small amount of cheer.
Gamely, the scientist gave a weak smile back. "Oh," he replied, "thank you."
Sheppard put a hand out then, lightly touching the scientist's arm, stopping McKay at a certain spot.
"It's about here," he said, lifting his hands again to demonstrate the invisible wall, but without actually touching anything.
Rodney sighed, looking up at the puddle jumper a few feet in front of him. With conscious effort, he forced his mind to divorce itself from everything that had occurred in the last 15 hours. He slipped into his role of analyst and scientist, and left behind the one who boasted of "field work" and wanted to hot rod in a puddle jumper.
With a surprisingly steady hand, he touched the edge of the shield protecting the ship. A hundred pricks of electricity shocked his fingers, and he drew it back quickly.
Sheppard was looking around generally at the landscape, exhaustion creeping into his face now that the primary danger had gone. But despite the weariness that seemed to have compounded on his thin frame in that last couple of minutes, his eyes were still scouting…just in case. A thought came to him then, remembering that help was close at hand.
"Ford," the major called over his radio, "if you see any more life signs as strong as mine or Rodney's emanating from anywhere, particularly that downed ship, you tell me immediately."
"Yes sir," came the response. Then, a moment later, "Only you and McKay, sir? Shouldn't there be two other—"
"No, lieutenant. Only two."
A pause, then, more subdued, "Yes sir."
Rodney had stiffened slightly at the conversation going on next to him, trying not to listen more than his proximity forced him to. As Sheppard cut off his communication with Ford, McKay pulled out the remote for the jumper, testing a few keyed commands before giving up and pulling out his scanner. It didn't take him long to figure out what the Wraith had done. The creature had used its own technology to turn the ship's cloak into a shield, clever really, and then had hidden it inside another subroutine, to prevent anyone else from easily finding it and overriding the change. All he really had to do was shut down a few things, which would unveil the cloak controls, then use his own command codes to lower it.
Sheppard sighed, as McKay keyed a few things into the scanner, downloaded them into the remote, then lifted the remote and hit three buttons.
The shield evaporated with a slight flash.
Sheppard whirled around, staring wide-eyed at the jumper, his jaw dropping open.
"Are you kidding me?"
"What?" came Rodney's tired response as he started walking up the ramp.
"Are you fucking kidding me!" the major waved a hand around, as if still expecting a shield to be there, then took a couple steps after the scientist. Rodney stopped, and was watching him with a very still expression.
"What's the matter?" he said quietly.
"It was that easy? It took you, what, half a second to shut it down?" Sheppard's fist whammed the side of the ship…prompting him to shake it a second later because that had hurt damn it…."My God! If you had just come an hour ago, when I was trying to…." He sighed, covering his hand over his eyes, "Don't think about it," he suddenly muttered, obviously talking to himself. "What's done is done. Everything's okay now."
Had he been watching the scientist, he would have seen a shudder roll through McKay, before it was hidden once more behind a stone faced façade. Without saying a word, either in apology or in his defense, McKay turned and walked deeper into the shadows.
Sheppard lowered his hand, looked up at the cloudless blue sky overhead, and blew the air out of his cheeks. He was a little calmer now.
Looking into the ship, he saw McKay was already peering into the motherboard, eyes scoping out the damage the Wraith had done. The scientist sighed.
"Besides adding a shield, it looks like the Wraith was working on keying the weapons into Dr. Gaul's remote as well--though he wouldn't have been successful, of course," McKay's voice was oddly soft. "The gene is required for those as well. But…yes…he had started to reconfigure the radio. You're right," shadowed eyes glance at Sheppard, "he probably would have figured out how to call for help if you hadn't stopped him."
Sheppard slumped against the opening of the puddle jumper, staring out at the desert. "Yeah."
He listened as McKay started sliding out the crystals from the matrix, and tiny beeps emitted from the delicate controls.
Sheppard suddenly realized he was really, really tired.
"Can you put the shield back up?" he asked quietly.
McKay looked at the major, saw the man's overwhelming tiredness, then looked vaguely out the back of the jumper.
The shield came back up with another flash of light.
Sheppard looked back at McKay, saw him returning his gaze to the matrix.
"You didn't use the remote," the major said, the statement more a question than anything.
"No," McKay slid another crystal out to examine. "Inside the ship, we don't need the remote."
"Oh," Sheppard nodded, "right. Forgot that." He tipped his head back against the edge of the ship, eyes losing focus as the desert landscape started to blur. "Has it always had a shield?"
"No," McKay was pulling out another crystal matrix, "It's Wraith technology. We'll need to retrieve the Wraith's armband to get rid of it permanently. Right now, this jumper doesn't have a cloak because of it."
"That's not good," Sheppard noted, his words beginning to slur. "Though...be kinda nice. If we're being shot at. Maybe we could swap back and forth?"
"You'll figure out a way."
Rodney didn't answer, focused instead on trying to readjust the jumper's power systems.
John sighed, grimacing a little as his ribs protested. After a moment, he closed his eyes, listening to the soft sounds of Rodney working behind him. He was just closing them for a moment. Just for a moment.
CHAPTER TWO: FAILING TO UNDERSTAND
He awoke to voices, lots of voices. He heard McKay answering Ford's questions in a tired monotone.
"…I am aware of that yes."
"How did it happen?" There was a harshness to the lieutenant's question, and Sheppard frowned. It almost sounded like Ford was angry about something.
There was a pause, then, McKay spoke softly, "He made a decision. He didn't consult me."
The major grimaced, blinking up at the roof of the puddle jumper over his head. He was on his back on the floor of the jumper, and there was a scent of antiseptic on the air. Tilting his head, he glanced at his left arm, to see the neat bandage there.
"And you didn't think to stop him, Doctor McKay?" There was no question now, Ford was angry. It was also clear he was accusing Rodney of something.
"Ford," Sheppard hissed, then coughed.
He heard two sets of feet shift in surprise, then, barely a second later, his second in command was kneeling next to him, smiling.
"Hey, Major," Ford grinned, "It's good to see your eyes open. Was wondering if you'd wake up before we got home or not."
Sheppard just stared at him, then past him to where Rodney had stepped into his eyesight.
Still not clear as to why, the major looked back at Ford, "What's the matter?"
Ford's smile fell, then he shook his head, smiling again, but it no longer appeared genuine. "Nothing for you to worry about now, sir. I was just trying to understand what exactly happened here."
Sheppard frowned, "What happened here? What's there to understand?"
"Well," Ford shifted uncomfortably, then shrugged, "There are…some things that don't add up, sir."
"Don't add up? What's there to tell?" Sheppard shook his head, "A Wraith channeling Jason's ugly cousin managed to survive 10,000 years and beat the crap out of us, killed Abrams and Gall, and nearly succeeded in delivering up me and McKay until you hit him with fireball. What else is there to tell?" Sheppard frowned, looking up again at Rodney, still trying to understand what was wrong with this picture, "McKay, what exactly have you been telling him?"
Rodney's face showed no reaction at all to the question. And Sheppard finally realized that that was what was wrong. McKay had one of those faces that showed everything he was feeling—but right now it was completely still.
"McKay? What…Ow!" Sheppard had tried to push up on his arms, only to grunt in pain as he forgot that his left arm had a bullet hole in it. Ford pressed him back down, and patted his shoulder.
"Don't worry about a thing, sir. We're going home now. McKay's going to follow Markham back to Atlantis in the other jumper and, and then Dr. Beckett will…."
"What? No. I'm not leaving him," Sheppard announced, his voice already getting stronger. "If he's driving, I'm staying with him."
"Sir," Ford frowned, "I don't think that's—"
"You and Teyla come with us, if you like. But I'm not letting him fly alone."
Ford stared at him for a moment, then grimaced, "Yes, sir."
Sheppard looked past him to McKay again, "You fix my ship yet?"
"Yes," Rodney replied.
The major stared at him, waiting for more. Always there was an explanation, or a self-congratulation, or at least another Captain Kirk crack. When it didn't come, clangors went off in his mind. He pushed himself up on his right arm only this time, ignoring the tightness in his ribs, never taking his eyes off McKay. Ford frowned, but McKay's only response was a slight tightening around the edges of his eyes. Sheppard's eyes squinted, examining every inch of the scientist's face.
"All right, what's wrong with you," he hissed, glaring at McKay. "What's the matter?"
Rodney lowered his head then looked off to the right. Sheppard sat the rest of the way up, Ford helping him the last part of the way. Panting a little, he refused to blink as he glared at the scientist.
"McKay, I asked you a question."
"I am going to make sure the others have got the bodies properly stowed," Rodney said suddenly, still not in his normal voice, and still staring off to the side. "I'll be back in a few minutes." And he walked away, completely ignoring the look of bewilderment on the Major's face.
Sheppard looked at Ford, "What the hell was that? What's wrong with him?" Ford opened his mouth to answer, but the major wasn't done yet, and he held up a finger at the younger man, "If you're accusing him of something, you had better know first that I made stay with Gall while I tackled the Wraith alone. It was my decision, not his."
Ford shook his head, "No sir, that's not it."
"Not it? What's not it?"
Ford looked down, as if unable to meet Sheppard's eyes, then out towards the end of the jumper to the sun shining down outside.
"We executed a quick retrieval operation inside the downed Wraith ship, to retrieve the bodies of Dr. Abrams and Dr. Gall." He shifted a little, then stared back at Sheppard, his eyes very dark, "Dr. Gall had a bullet in his brain, Major. Either he killed himself or…." He shook his head.
The Major stopped breathing for a second, then let out a breath slowly. Gall killed himself. In front of McKay. Oh Lord.
Wait a minute. Did Ford just imply….?
He stared hard at the younger man, "Ford, did you just say 'or?' Or what, lieutenant?"
"I'm sorry sir, it just seemed odd, that's all. I didn't know Doctor Gall well, but he really didn't seem the kind to….And why did he have a gun in his hand, sir? If he was suicidal, why did McKay let him—"
"I told him to, lieutenant," Sheppard answered sharply. "I told him to put the gun in Gall's hand, so they could both protect each other."
"Oh," Ford frowned, then frowned more deeply. "Still, sir, I—"
"No," Sheppard shook his head, "whatever you're thinking, you're wrong. If Gall has a bullet in his brain, then he put it there himself, and I guarantee McKay could not have stopped him from doing so."
Ford looked up, his eyes still not convinced, "Are you sure, sir? After all, we haven't known Doctor McKay long, and, when circumstances reach a certain level, people can be—"
"He saved my life, Ford."
The young man froze, then shook his head. "Well, I…I'm sure you think he did, sir, but—"
"No," Sheppard's tone was final, "Not another word, lieutenant. Let's just get home, okay?"
Ford's eyes narrowed, but he nodded, standing up. "Sir," he paused, "there will have to be an investigation sir. You know that."
Sheppard gritted his teeth, "We'll see."