A/N1: This story is based on the question: "What can you do with a stopwatch?" There was a scene in Torchwood, where Ianto Jones said: "There are lots of things you can do with a stopwatch." Since then I was thinking about it and finally came up with this story. If you never wondered about things you can do with a stopwatch, I'm really not sure if you will like the story.
A/N2: Many thanks to my beta Maryann! All remaining mistakes are mine.
Dr McKay – his right hand firmly pressed against the back of his head – entered the infirmary, escorted by Colonel Sheppard. At first sight it seemed to be deserted but quickly both heard suppressed laughter.
They noticed movement behind a curtain which obviously was supposed to maintain the privacy of a patient, and the huge number of legs peering from under the curtain would allow only one conclusion: nearly the whole medical staff was gathered there.
Sheppard cleared his throat and Dr Keller stepped out of the area of the curtain, a broad smile on her face. "Uh, Colonel, what can I…" At that moment she noticed McKay who still held his hand against his head. "Dr McKay, what happened?"
"It's all his fault!" McKay angrily pointed at Sheppard, who raised his hands defensively.
"Hey, it was an accident. Be glad that it wasn't a golf club!"
Slightly irritated, the doctor asked McKay to sit down on one of the beds. She looked at the bleeding wound. "Hmm, I need to stitch this. Miller!" A male nurse in a really good mood came to the bed. "Shave the hair at the back of his head." The male nurse nodded and went off to get a razor.
Sheppard pointed to the curtain. "What's going on there?"
"I can't tell you." She wanted to explain further but she was choking with laughter so hard she had to cough. When she got her breath back she explained with a grin: "You know, medical confidentiality."
McKay glared at her. "I didn't know that you were familiar with the concept of medical confidentiality."
"Uh hmm." A little bit ashamed, Dr Keller decided to change the subject. "How are you feeling? Are you dizzy? Do you have any double vision?"
"Above all I have a headache. A short time after the stopwatch hit me I saw some flashes of light, but that went away."
"A stopwatch? The wound was caused by a stopwatch? How could this happen?"
Five hours before
Storage manager Jones, holding a clipboard under his arm, greeted the Colonel cheerfully. "Good morning, sir. There is a problem with the delivery from the Daedalus. Would you take a look at it?"
"Isn't that Woolsey's job?"
The storage manager nodded. "Normally, yes. But he is unable to come. That's why you as his representative have to settle this affair so that the Daedalus can leave without any delay."
Groaning, Sheppard followed Jones. "Why is Woolsey unable to come anyway?"
"Colonel Caldwell invited him to a business dinner, sir."
Arriving in one of those endless storerooms, they stood in front of a cardboard box. "This box is the problem, sir." The storage manager gave Sheppard his clipboard. "It contains 100 stopwatches." He pointed at a column which said: "Stopwatches, 100 pcs."
Helplessly the Colonel looked at the storage manager: "And?"
"We didn't request these stopwatches."
Jones sighed. "What are we supposed to do with these stopwatches, sir?"
"Uhm, where is the problem?"
The storage manager shook his head. How much easier his work was with Woolsey, the bureaucrat. He understood the problems of a storage manager. "Shall we send them back with the Daedalus, or shall we keep them?"
"Space is the only thing we have plenty of. Put the box somewhere where it isn't in the way."
"All right, sir. But then there is another problem."
"And that would be?"
"Someone could ask for an explanation as to why we didn't send back the misdirected stopwatches."
"Well, then send them back with the Daedalus."
"All right, sir. However, there is a problem with that, also."
"I can't wait to find out what kind of problem that would be."
Either the storage manager failed to notice the sarcasm or he ignored it purely and simply. "If we give back the stopwatches the budget of the next delivery will be shortened by the value of the stopwatches."
"Our budget for the deliveries depends on our requirements. If we give back the stopwatches, we announce that our actual requirements became smaller and therefore are able to be shortened."
"I don't understand."
Jones gave Sheppard a look that said: "I can believe that."
Sheppard sighed. "Then come up with an explanation for the use of the stopwatches."
"That's your job, not mine, sir."
"100 stopwatches. That can't be too difficult. What can you do with a stopwatch?"
"Clock the time?"
"Seriously. I'm sure there are lots of things you can do with a stopwatch."
"Of course, sir." The storage manager made a stoic face but Sheppard could have sworn that he saw malice in the corner of this man's eyes.
"Shall we make a bet that I will be able to supply the stopwatches with a useful application?" Sheppard said.
"All right. One of your packets of Ben & Jerry's for a packet of Ethiopian coffee?"
"I'm the storage manager. I know the personal orders of everyone in Atlantis."
In the infirmary
"A bet? It was about a bet? Why didn't you say that straightaway?"
"Would you have helped me if I had told you, McKay?"
"No. I would have bet against you."
Four hours, 20 minutes before
With great concentration McKay inserted the control crystal into the temporarily fixed console. The tiniest contact with the metal case and the work of hours would be for nothing. Another 30 centimetre, 25 centimetre, 20 centimetre… "Hey, McKay!"
When the crystal touched the metal, sparks flew widely in the air. "Oh, you must've made a mistake, didn't you?"
McKay got up and folded his arms in front of his chest. "I hope this is important, Colonel."
"Do you need a stopwatch?"
One of the other scientists in the lab reacted with laughter to Sheppard's remark. When his boss looked at him he tried to suppress the laughter. "I thought of a joke, a good joke. Really. Uh, I have to do something else. At the other end of the city." With these words the man left the lab at a brisk pace.
"So, do you need one?"
"No. Did you disturb my work just for that? Why did you ask anyway?"
"I've got 100 stopwatches I want to distribute."
Shaking his head McKay knelt down in front of the console and started to remove the charred pieces. Sheppard crouched down beside him. "You're smart. What can you do with a stopwatch?"
"I could clock the time you need to disappear out of this lab and let me work undisturbed."
"Very good idea." Sheppard took a stopwatch out of a pocket of his coat and handed it to the baffled scientist. "Do you have any other ideas?"
"You aren't serious, are you?"
The Colonel smiled at the Canadian. "Think hard, McKay."
"If you haven't noticed: I'm busy!"
"One idea and I'm off."
"All right." McKay let the stopwatch swing from the attached cord. "Look."
"And what exactly do you expect me to see?"
"This stopwatch can be used as a plumb. And now get lost!"
Sheppard got up, since any further discussion would be useless. While he was leaving the lab Zelenka approached him. "May I have some stopwatches? Around eight of them?"
"Of course." Sheppard fished another eight stopwatches out of his pockets. "What do you need them for?"
"To play chess with." Zelenka took the stopwatches.
"I see." Sheppard had the impression that somehow he was missing something. But maybe it only was just the people he had to deal with. The Czech noticed the helplessness of the Colonel. "We want to organize a chess tournament. So far we had only a few chess clocks, but now we can play on even more tables simultaneously."
In the infirmary
Dr Biro stepped out from behind the curtain and looked at Dr Keller, who was finishing the stitch at the back of McKay's head. "And?" Dr Keller asked her colleague.
"We still have no idea."
"Hmm. I'll be finished here soon."
Shrugging, Dr Biro went back behind the curtain.
Dr Keller again addressed Sheppard, who had paused in his story because of Dr Biro: "I still don't understand how a stopwatch could cause this wound."
With a gesture Sheppard asked for patience and resumed his story.
Two hours, 14 minutes before
McKay was under the charred console and changing connections when he noticed a pair of legs. "Is that you, Colonel?"
"I need your help."
The scientist came out from under the console, got up and wiped the dust off his hands. "What can I do for you?"
"It's about physics."
"All right, then I'm the right one to talk to."
"Is it true that mass and time are proportional to each other?"
"Yes. Why are you asking?"
"Okay, if I understand this correctly, time passes slower the more mass is present, is that right?"
"That is correct. Let's suppose you are near a black hole. Time would pass slower than if you, for example, were here in Atlantis. Near the black hole only a few minutes would pass, but in Atlantis years and centuries."
"I see. The more I'm drifting away from a mass the faster time is passing."
"If I would take a jumper and fly it into the space above Atlantis, the time in the jumper would pass faster than the time in Atlantis, am I right?"
"Insignificantly, but what are you getting at?"
"I'd like to check it. Purely by chance I've got two stopwatches…"
"Get out! Now!"
In the infirmary
Dr Keller was shaking her head. "Colonel, you want to win the bet at all costs, don't you?"
"Not at all costs," he pointed at McKay, who in the meantime lay on a bed, "now that there is a victim I admit defeat. I will go directly to Jones and bring him his ice cream."
"But not before you finally tell me about how the injury arose."
A short time before
Grumpily McKay went to one of the balconies. Someone had told him that Sheppard was there. The man had turned off his radio. McKay wondered if Sheppard ever had anything to do when they weren't on missions.
Stepping out on the balcony, he saw that Sheppard had placed a golf ball on the floor.
"I need you, Sheppard, or, to be precisely, your ATA gene. The console doesn't respond to me. – What the hell are you doing there?" McKay now noticed that Sheppard had no golf clubs with him, instead he held the cord of a stopwatch, letting it swing near the floor.
"I thought that possibly I could use a stopwatch as a replacement for a golf club."
Speechlessly McKay turned around to leave the balcony. In that moment the stopwatch hit him with full force.
In the infirmary
"You see? It was an accident. I didn't notice how McKay had turned around."
Dr Keller nodded. "Interesting, really interesting. I thought when I signed the contract for Atlantis, my job would be to treat exotic diseases. To heal injuries caused by some strange aliens. But today I learned that seemingly harmless everyday objects involve a certain danger."
"You aren't thinking only about stopwatches, are you?" Sheppard pointed at the curtain.
Dr Keller sighed. "Hmm, I will have a short look to see if my colleagues have found a solution for my other patient. Otherwise you both maybe can help me." The doctor left Sheppard and McKay for a short moment.
"You know, McKay, according to the dictionary a stopwatch is a timer…" McKay moaned loudly and Sheppard assumed rightly that this moaning had nothing to do with pain.
Dr Keller came back to Sheppard and McKay with an x-ray in her hand. It was a picture of a pelvis and a light bulb was inside it. "Colonel, you should remind your Marines of the dangers of special sexual techniques."
McKay examined the x-ray with interest and he didn't bother to hide his smile. "What about medical confidentiality?"
"Honestly, we have a problem and no solution till now. That's why I thought you might have an idea. We don't know how to remove the light bulb safely. There's a danger of breaking the glass."
Now McKay was laughing loudly. "A light bulb! In the bottom! What made someone think of this idea?"
Dr Keller had to laugh, too, but then she pulled herself together. "No, really, it's a serious problem for us. We were thinking the whole time about what to do. I called for nearly the whole medical staff but nobody has an idea."
Sheppard, who was following the conversation without moving, decided to say something. "You could drill a small hole into the light bulb and then pour gypsum into it. After that you should be able to remove the light bulb safely."
"That is a brilliant idea, Colonel, that could work."
Excited about the idea, Dr Keller immediately went back to her patient and discussed the matter with the medical staff, then they wheeled the patient – Sheppard recognised one of his Marines with a crimson head – into the operating theatre.
McKay was still giggling. "A light bulb. Really." Then he thought about something else. "Tell me, Sheppard, how came you to the solution so quickly? They didn't have an idea for hours and you need less than a minute…"
McKay looked up and saw Sheppard had left the infirmary. "Sheppard?"