SPOILERS for "Trinity"

SUMMARY: After the events in "Trinity", Sheppard and McKay's relationship is strained at best. But is stranding them in a remote lighthouse with only Zelenka as referee going to help them work things out? And what about the dead scientist who used to own the place?

DISCLAIMER: The following story is a work of fanfiction, and as such is for fan enjoyment only. All recognizable characters/settings are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is made.

Deus Ex Machina

By KerrAvon

18. Aftermath

"So that's pretty much my part of it," finished Sheppard to the group gathered at his bedside. Weir had decided to hold the debriefing in the infirmary once the Colonel had recovered enough to participate. He was propped up on pillows with Weir, Zelenka, and McKay scattered in chairs around the cot. "When I woke up next, I was in the Jumper headed home."

"Rodney?" Weir turned expectant eyes towards the astrophysicist who put down his latest snack, a Nanaimo bar, and happily took up the tale with a full mouth.

"Well, Radek rigged their restraints with wiring; if they wriggled too much trying to free themselves, they'd get a nasty shock. Payback I suppose." McKay judiciously 'forgot to mention' the part where a very dangerous-looking Czech had informed their captives that the device would electrocute them. 'So, Zelenka's prone to a little exaggeration…'

The small, disheveled, angry man scowled at the prisoners as he finished the wiring harness, which was attached to a heavily-insulated cable that disappeared up the stairs. Without a word he then produced a sharply edged grayish clay bar which he gingerly set on the floor in front of them. Propping a wide but light wooden board across it, he ran alligator clips attached to a small electric device, then carefully placed the Deltarrans' feet on the angled board. He made a big production of checking all the leads, then stood, arms folded across his chest, and addressed them.

"After the suffering you have caused myself and my friends, I am disinclined to stay in your presence any longer than absolutely necessary. However, I am equally averse to allowing you to escape. Therein lies the quandary, and here," he gestured to the apparatus he'd just jury-rigged, "Is the solution."

He pointed at the wires he'd strung over their bodies. "Those leads are connected directly to the main generator in the basement. If any two wires should touch in your inevitable struggles to free yourselves, you will both be instantly electrocuted." He silenced their objections before they began by raising a hand. He then indicated the board their feet rested on; "That is a powerful plastique explosive we call C-4 with a pressure switch rigged to the platform beneath your feet; if you apply too much force, it will trigger a detonation that will leave barely enough tissue for DNA identification."

The prisoners' faces paled markedly during his exposition. Widget finally found his voice as he sputtered, "You…you can't do this!"

Radek's eyes narrowed dangerously, but he refused to reply. Instead he produced a small, black box from a pocket and carried it to the entrance to the tunnel leading to the sea. Flipping a small switch set in its side, he leapt backwards as a red light began blinking. Striding silently past the bound Deltarrans, he activated a second box at the base of the stairs before joining McKay at the top. Turning back one final time, he added as an afterthought, "Oh, and those devices I activated at both chamber exits? Plastique rigged to proximity alarms - if you get too close…BOOM!" He bugged his eyes and splayed his hands in demonstration, before caroling, "Do try to be good until the police arrive. But, if you can't, I'm certain we'll find enough resultant bits later." The two men hoisted themselves out of the hole and back to the basement above.

Once safely out of the criminals' hearing, McKay turned conspiratorially to his compatriot, whispering "Where in the world did you get the C-4? And where'd you find the time to rig pressure switches and proximity detonators? We weren't authorized to bring any of that with us."

Radek sat on the floor next to the slumbering Sheppard, shoulders silently shaking; it took Rodney a moment to realize that the Czech was quietly laughing. Crouching next to him, he snapped irritably, "Want to let me in on the joke?"

It took a few minutes, but Radek's mirth slowly calmed to a low chuckling, at which point he wiped his eyes and addressed the impatient McKay. "Rodney…I don't have any of those things."

McKay blinked. "What?"

"I lied, Rodney. I rigged up a couple of blinking-LEDs to 9-volt batteries inside the boxes - there is no explosive. The 'C-4' is some artist clay I noticed earlier in the hall closet. And the wire harness is only hooked to a low power converter; enough to give them a nasty shock but little more…I think."

Rodney gaped, then slowly a smirk spread across his face. Clapping Radek on the back, he chortled, "Well done!" His brows then creased in concern, "But…won't they figure it out?"

"Not before we notify Constable Cleary and they are in his custody. Listen - even now the storm is letting up."

Rodney cocked his head, then nodded in agreement. The day was finally looking up.

Radek interrupted, "I felt it was the least I could do." He, too, left out the remaining 'minor' details. "They remained absolutely stock-still until the storm was over and I could get to the Constable's office for help." He still remembered the disappointed look in Cleary's eyes when he discovered that one of his own men had been an accomplice, and the flash of fear on the prisoners' faces followed by chagrin as he had kicked the box at the foot of the stairs.

"Wicket and Sparrow were being hauled to jail just as the Deltarran Ministry of Science arrived to examine our work," McKay continued, blithely mangling the felons' names. No one objected. "They were quite impressed with our prototype and promptly collected it with all of our original data."

"Of course, we have copies of everything in our laptops. We each made a set in case the Deltarrans confiscated one. And I have an additional copy on my USB pen-drive" Radek interjected, and produced a tiny chip from his pocket.

Weir was confused. "But I thought they agreed from the start that we would have full access to the results of the work?"

"Yeah, well you lose some of your 'trusting spirit' when you discover a member of the Science Council is trying to murder you." Sheppard noted, obviously pleased with the scientists' caution and foresight.

"About that…" Rodney waved his index finger up and down. "The Council was extremely apologetic about the whole experience. I have the feeling that Widget won't be seeing the light of day for…quite some time." He tapped his own skull, "Still, the constant headache and dulled sensorium will be with me for a few months, too."

Sheppard had to smile at Rodney's pleased expression. The whole group had been through hell, yet somehow managed to survive. His eyes widened as a thought occurred to him. "The skeletons…"

"Will be given a proper burial," replied Zelenka, suddenly serious. They are believed to be the lighthouse keeper and his son, whose relatives still live in the village."

Sheppard nodded; he was glad to hear that they would be cared for, after they had cared for so many. He suddenly found himself yawning.

Rising from her seat, Dr. Weir smiled. "I think that's our cue to go. Colonel, get some rest. I want to see you back on your feet as soon as possible; we need you." She nodded once reassuringly, then strode out of the room to attend to other matters.

Radek and Rodney stood to leave as well, but Sheppard interceded. "McKay, you got a minute?"

Rodney nodded, but didn't resume his seat.

"I will see both of you later," stated Zelenka as he continued out the door, leaving them to speak privately.

After he was gone, Rodney folded his arms across his chest. "And what can I do for you, Colonel?"

Sheppard picked at a loose thread on his blanket, then met the scientist's eyes. "Look, Rodney, I just wanted to say…well, I was really proud of the work you did back there. You double-checked your data, you didn't jump to conclusions, you waited on the actual experimental trials until you were sure they were safe…hell, you even listened to Radek! Just…good job. It was a pleasure working with you, even under such trying circumstances."

McKay stared at him, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "So…you trust me again." The statement was also a question.

Sheppard chose his wording carefully, making sure to mirror Rodney's apology after Arcturus. With a slight nod, he replied, "My faith in your abilities has been restored."

McKay didn't even try to suppress the grin that split his face. Clasping his hands behind his back, he bounced on his toes. "I'll just go help Radek evaluate the data we got from our trials." With that, he exited the room. John wasn't certain, but he thought he heard whistling going off down the corridor.

He shook his head and smiled; he might still have the occasional nightmare about Doranda, but they would be that - occasional. And, like all nightmares, they would gradually decrease in frequency until they were only a memory.

Reaching to his bedside table, he picked up the book that he'd been reading. When he'd been evacuated from Bellwick Tower, the medical team had actually transported him with the blankets he'd collapsed on in the basement. Upon arriving in the infirmary, Beckett had found the volume tucked away in the folds of the bedding and set it aside for him. "Lorton and Bellwick Tower - A History" wasn't his usual choice of reading material, but it had helped save their lives by mentioning the secret tunnel. As such, it was a perfect souvenir, like the pot that had rung his bell…twice…he'd hung on the wall over his desk.

He flipped it open to the center section of photos; when he had been interested in the layout of the lighthouse, pictures of the village's founding fathers were the last thing he was likely to study. Now he scanned the pages, confident of what he would find. Indeed, a moment later the visage of "Emil Johnson, Watch-Keeper, and his son Tyler" stared up at him out of the page.

"Tyler, huh? At least now I know your name," he muttered, staring at the red-headed boy that had thwarted Widget's murder attempts so many times. "And Mr. Johnson." The man in the snapshot was somewhat younger than the one he'd seen in the cave, and still had wispy, red hair, but it was undoubtedly the same person. "After saving your village 6 generations ago, you stuck around to save us." He was a little embarrassed about addressing a book, but it seemed right. "I just wanted to say…thanks. Maybe now you can rest in peace."

He yawned again, unable to keep his eyes open. Setting the open book back on his nightstand, he rolled over and pulled the blankets up to his ears. In so doing, he missed Tyler's wink and cheeky grin.

Fin

AN: There! Finished! Man, what a ride. I think this is easily twice the length of anything I've ever written. I want to thank my incredible beta-reader, my husband, who makes sure I keep the snark in and the "bleeding-heart crap" (his phrase, not mine) out of Rodney and the excessive use of gerunds out of my prose… Thanks, Sweetie!