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Title: I Don't Do Floors (The Rest is Negotiable)
Author: danceswithgary
Pairing: Rodney McKay/John Sheppard (pre-slash), John Sheppard/OMC (past-implied)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None
Spoilers: None, only borrowed a few of the characters for a bit.
Word Count: 15400
Archive: Fine, just let me know
Summary: "So, do you always travel with a machete and a parachute?" SG-1/SGA AU remix of 'The Librarian: Quest for the Spear'.

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I Don't Do Floors (The Rest is Negotiable)


"You can't spend the rest of your life sitting in your apartment reading and writing anonymous articles for journals no one has ever heard of. It's been six months. How long is it going to be until Immigration starts knocking on your door? You have to get out there and find another job, start living in the real world again."

"Jeannie...." Pacing along a narrow hallway rendered even narrower by a series of over-filled bookcases, he frowned at the cell phone in his hand before placing it back against his ear and continuing. "You haven't been listening. The real world sucks. No one wants to hire me in any of my fields. They hear my name and...."

The woman on the other end of the line wasn't accepting any excuses. "And exactly whose fault is that, Meredith Rodney McKay?"

Waving his free hand wildly and narrowly avoiding the destruction of a hanging model of the solar system, he protested, "God, you sound just like Mom!"

"And you're ignoring me just like you did her. People get tired of constantly being informed that they're idiots and morons. A little common courtesy can go a long way when it comes to job retention. Share a little of yourself, be polite. It isn't an impossible skill to pick up, even for a socially challenged genius like you."

"Hey, I should not have been fired just because I pointed out that Daniel Jackson had made an error in the Third Dynasty translation and, as a result, the entire pyramid was geographically misaligned along the magnetic line of force by half a cubit. Scale-model or not, the fact is the museum expected an exact replica complete with capstone...and didn't get it!"

"Mer, you insisted that they take it apart and reconstruct it from the ground up after five weeks of work... based on something only you considered significant."

"Yeah, well, despite the catastrophic implications, they obviously didn't listen, did they? They put the capstone on anyway, and there it sits in the middle of the museum, the only existing complete replica of the Great Pyramid...misaligned. How can they be so cavalier with the facts?"

"Then there was what happened at NASA, JPL, Dow, Northwestern, MIT...the list keeps getting longer. Something...someone needs to change, and you know who that is."

"Yeah, because the world prefers polite to right." Frustrated at the lack of sympathy, he slid down the side of one of the bookcases and let his head drop backward with a thud. The result was a cascade of precariously balanced books that scattered across the dusty floor after ricocheting off him. "Ow! Damn it!"

"Mer? What was that?"

"Just a...." Tucking the phone under his chin, he scrambled to his knees and attempted to re-stack the offending literature. "Just a little...accident...here...." An unopened envelope fluttered to the floor, catching his attention. "Hey...what's this?"

"Are you still listening to me? Mer?"

"Hunh, I don't remember ever seeing this before."

"What? What is it?"

"Just wait a second, will you?" Ripping the embossed envelope open with an impatient twist, he extracted the blank piece of cardstock and held it up, puzzled. Suddenly, a flare of cold, golden fire raced across the page, leaving gleaming black calligraphy behind.

You have been selected
to interview for a
prestigious position
with the Metropolitan Public Library


After checking the reverse side for any clues to the phenomenon, he muttered, "Some sort of thermal-activated media...possibly activated by touch or the temperature differential when I breathed on it...."

"What are you talking about now?"

"I have a job interview, and it's a lot closer geographically than my only other choice."

"That's good to hear. When I said you needed to get back out into the real world, I really wasn't encouraging you to commune with reindeer on the Russian steppes. With any luck, I won't have to clean out the spare room for you to stay in after you're deported back to Canada because you're unemployed."

"Gee, thanks for the encouraging words, sis."

"You want some words of encouragement? All right, how's this? You can do it, Mer. You can go out there and get yourself a new job...and keep it this time. Just keep reminding yourself that the things that make life worth living aren't just stored in your head, they're also found in your heart."

"Hallmark card of the week?"

"Meredith."

"Fine, fine, you're right, words I should live by and all that. Thanks, Jeannie."

"Hey, that's what sisters are good for...a built-in support group. Listen, wear the blue suit and call me when you hear about the job."

"Yeah. Bye." Snapping the phone shut, he glared down at it for a moment, stuck out his tongue at it, and then muttered, "Sure, that's what sisters are good for. Bad poetry...and telling Mom that they saw their fifteen-year-old brother kissing the boy next door and getting him grounded for life."

%+%+%


"...never been treated so rudely in my entire career...."

"Next!"

After narrowly avoiding being knocked down the marble staircase by the preceding applicant, he straightened his shoulders and muttered, "Siberia," before striding into the interview room. The high-ceilinged room was enormous and contained only a single occupant seated behind a massive wooden desk. Despite the late-afternoon gloom of the chamber, the gleam of the brass nameplate on the desk rivaled that of the bald pate of the sixty-ish man, who was calmly scanning the contents of a manila folder.

Placing the folder on the desk, the dark-suited interviewer looked up and nodded. "Dr. Meredith R. McKay...."

Advancing to within a few feet of the desk, and assuming the nameplate belonged to the man behind it, he shrugged and dipped his head in apology as he interjected, "Actually, Mister...ah...Woolsey, I prefer Rodney...Dr. Rodney McKay."

"As you wish, Dr. McKay. Tell me. What makes you think you are qualified to be 'The Librarian'?"

The forced smile on Rodney's face faltered as he recalled the stream of rejected applicants and he struggled to find an answer that wouldn't result in his immediate dismissal. Finally, one side of his mouth twitched and he offered with a shrug, "Well, I've read a lot of books."

The frown on the other side of the desk was much more apparent. "Please don't attempt to be amusing. I've already heard that one at least a hundred times today."

Rodney winced apologetically. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"So was I. Let me repeat. What makes you think you are qualified to be 'The Librarian'?"

Clasping his hands behind his back and tilting his chin a fraction higher, Rodney listed his qualifications in an increasingly steady voice. "I'm familiar with the Dewey Decimal system as well as the Library of Congress encoding, multiple applications of research paper orthodoxy...web search algorithms. I can set up an RSS feed...."

Dark eyes narrowed behind black-rimmed glasses. "In other words, you're no different from the rest of the applicants. They're experienced librarians...and you are not. What makes you think you are qualified to be 'The Librarian'?"

Flustered at the direction of the questioning, Rodney shook his head and countered with waving hands, "Are they also geniuses who have studied in and hold multiple degrees across a broad spectrum of fields?"

"Dr. McKay, stop wasting my time. I have your resume in front of me. I need to know if you're strictly theory...or if you can apply your vast knowledge. Tell me something that no one else who has walked into this room could tell me."

"I...you...." Stepping closer, Rodney scrutinized the other man for a few moments before nodding and declaring, "Your marriage broke up two months ago, you broke your nose when you were four..and...and you live with a Yorkshire terrier. Is that what you had in mind?

Encouraged by Woolsey's look of surprise, Rodney explained his deductions. "It takes three months for an indentation on the ring finger to completely disappear. Yours is approximately two-thirds gone. Your surgeon left you with a terminus paralateral scar, which is the accepted treatment for children under the age of six. And...." He reached out to snag a hair from the black wool of Woolsey's lapel and displayed it. "Is it a male or female?"

A single eyebrow raised in brief surprise at the accuracy of the analysis. "Male...and I didn't break my nose until I was five." Folding his hands in front of him atop the folder, Woolsey recovered his aplomb, and then inquired, "What's more important than knowledge?"

Shocked at the question, Rodney blurted out, "You're joking, right?"

"I'm waiting for an answer, Dr. McKay." The lack of amusement in Woolsey's demeanor made it clear Rodney's response would determine his future at the library.

"More important than...more important...." Rodney stared down at his empty hands as if he might find the answer penned along the lines of his palms. Struck by a flash of memory, he raised his head and snapped his fingers several times, as he exclaimed. "The things that make life worth living aren't just stored in your head, they're also found in your heart!"

Inclining his head graciously and granting the hint of a smile, Woolsey reached out to thumb the intercom on his desk phone. "The interviews are over. Send the applicants home." Halting Rodney's slump-shouldered retreat by clearing his throat, Woolsey rose from his seat and offered his hand across the desk. "Congratulations, Dr. McKay, although I must inform you will be on probation for the next six months. Assuming you have fulfilled your duties adequately within that period... you will then officially be recognized as The Librarian."

Gingerly shaking Woolsey's hand, Rodney stammered, "Oh...thanks." Stepping back, he frowned for a moment and asked, "Can you...can you tell me what I said that worked so that I know for the next time?"

Woolsey walked around to the front of the desk and clapped Rodney on the shoulder. "There isn't going to be a next time, Dr. McKay. You are about to begin a wondrous adventure and your life will never be the same." Turning away, Woolsey gestured toward an ornate door at the side of the room. "Follow me. I'll show you where you'll be working."

Rodney hurried to take a position at Woolsey's side as he released a series of locks before opening the door onto a long corridor. Their footsteps echoed along the passageway as Rodney babbled in excitement. "I know I probably should have asked sooner, but what exactly are my duties? I mean, I've never worked in a library before. I have no problem with research and cataloging; I can even check in and shelve returns if necessary. However, I'm assuming you have a janitorial staff because I don't...." The stream of words faltered as they approached two armed guards stationed on either side of what appeared to be an elevator. "Isn't this a lot of security for...books?"

"This happens to be the most secure place in the world, Dr. McKay. Soon you'll see why." Woolsey silently directed the two guards to use two separate keys on either side of the entrance and unlock the elevator.

Rodney wasn't able to restrain his curiosity. "Isn't that what the Army does with nuclear weapons?"

Woolsey nodded and waved Rodney into the waiting compartment. "Where do you think the Army got the idea?" The doors closed and the elevator began to descend to its only destination based on the lack of any buttons to select. "You're about to see something that few people in the world have ever seen."

The doors swished open onto a stadium-sized room filled with row after row of wooden bookcases with glass cases and wooden tables scattered between them. Eyes wide in wonder, Rodney stepped out and immediately headed for the nearest display. His hand fluttered above the gleaming coffer and he gasped out, "It's two and a half cubits in length. Setim wood. Gold overlay. That is an exact replica of the Ark of the Covenant!" He reached out, only to have Woolsey grasp his arm and yank him back.

"It's not a replica," Woolsey admonished. "Don't touch it or you'll be electrocuted. Or, as they used to say, be 'smote down.'"

Rodney frowned and backed away, glancing at the surrounding walls in distrust. "Am I being recorded? Did someone set me up to be 'punk'ed or something?"

Shaking his head, Woolsey lead the way down the aisle between the bookcases. "Trust me, Dr. McKay, this...all this...is your destiny. You are now the guardian of all these great treasures."

Still suspicious, Rodney followed silently until he halted at a familiar-looking painting of a dark-haired woman, which mysteriously hung in mid-air. "If that is...then what's hanging in the Louvre?"

Woolsey dismissed the question with an impatient huff. "Well, you don't really think we'd let the real one hang in a public museum, do you?" They proceeded past cases containing a variety of gems, weapons, and illuminated manuscripts. "You must understand we are very careful about who we recruit to be The Librarian. There are many who would gladly kill for the treasures we store here."

The golden gleam of a small chest caught Rodney's attention and he reached out to tip the lid open, drawing back at the dark, roiling mass revealed inside. Woolsey was at his side in an instant, slamming the box shut with a rushed explanation. "This particular box once belonged to a young woman named Pandora. She opened it one day and evil controlled the land for over a thousand years." Grasping Rodney's elbow, he urged him away. "I think it's best not to repeat her mistake, don't you?"

Yanking free from Woolsey, Rodney stopped dead and protested, "All this is...is scientifically impossible. These things can't really be what you're claiming."

"Look familiar?" Woolsey displayed a small object extracted from an inner pocket of his suit jacket. "Ordinary cell phone. You talk in here and someone hundreds of miles away hears you. No wires in or out. Impossible, right? Even two hundred years ago, this would have belonged in the Library. Four hundred years ago, you would've been burned at the stake for owning it." Tucking the phone away, Woolsey pointed at the surrounding cases and continued, "Some of the items in the Library certainly appear to violate the known laws of science. But that's only because we haven't advanced enough to postulate the laws that would explain them."

Reluctantly admitting Woolsey's point, Rodney restrained himself from further objections, contenting himself with examining everything surrounding them with objective eyes. His resolve was instantly tested when he encountered an obsidian block skewered by an ornately decorated, razor-sharp blade. "Whoa, this can't be...Excalibur!"

Woolsey halted and returned to Rodney's side. "Ah, but that's where you're wrong, Dr. McKay. It is indeed just that and, just as the legend claims, only the worthy can release the sword from the stone." Woolsey smiled a little smugly and waved toward the embedded weapon. "Go ahead. Try it."

Rodney backed away, his hands raised as if to ward off the suggestion. "No, no, no. Definitely not worthy, trust me."

"How do you know if you don't try it?" Woolsey shook his head and frowned in mild disappointment at the refusal.

Waving his hands around his head, Rodney sputtered, "Because, to be perfectly honest, I'm still not exactly sure why it is that you chose me. I mean, not that I'm not a genius and all, but...."

"The selection process is quite painstaking. We scour the educational systems, both public and private, all over the world. We read essays, doctoral theses, patent applications." Woolsey rolled his eyes as he admitted, "We even read those accursed online blogs."

"So there's a system."

Woolsey nodded in agreement. "Oh, yes, there's a system for identifying candidates. When it comes down to actually selecting The Librarian...well, that often has an odd way of working itself out. Dr. McKay, you've been accumulating knowledge all your life." Woolsey gestured at the books and artifacts surrounding them. "This is why."

"I didn't want to believe all this, but if it's true...this is incredible! I can't wait to tell my sister about this. I mean, she is going to..." Rodney choked off his enthusiasm when the sword slid free from the stone block and flew through the air to hover a hairsbreadth from his throat. "Sword. Neck...help?"

Woolsey looked a trifle disgruntled at Rodney's faux pas. "Dr. McKay, I know you are intimately familiar with the concept of classified information and non-disclosure agreements. Let me just say that the secret of the Library has been kept safe for thousands of years."

"Got it. Mum's the word." Rodney slumped in relief as the sword resumed its former position.

"Excellent. I knew you would be a quick study. There's every chance you'll turn out to be a great Librarian, perhaps even as great as Eldred, the Truly Wonderful." Woolsey pointed to a large portrait hanging on the wall of a man in robes with his hand placed on what appeared to be a golden-fleeced ram.

Rodney walked along inspecting the gallery of former Librarians, noting with fleeting interest the portrait of a much younger Woolsey, and shrugged. "Well, right now, I would settle for Rodney, the Not-So-Embarrassing, although, when I thought about the future, I always saw myself as McKay, the Nobel Prize Winner."

At the final portrait, he paused and Woolsey haltingly named a tall, stern-looking man holding a scroll. "That was...uh...Harold Maybourne."

"I'm assuming he was the last Librarian?"

Rodney suddenly found himself rethinking his excitement over his new position when Woolsey intoned, "Yes. Yes, he was, poor man. God rest his soul." Recovering his aplomb, Woolsey scrubbed his hands together enthusiastically and suggested, "So. Why don't I show you where we stable the unicorn?"

%+%+%


Having arrived on time for his first day on the job, Rodney listened carefully to Woolsey's instructions as they approached the first door leading to the concealed chambers. "I'll supply you with the codes and a copy of the keys...." Woolsey halted, his face creased in consternation. "Oh, this is not good at all. This door shouldn't be unlocked."

Following Woolsey's lead, Rodney hurried down the passage toward the elevator, slightly out of breath from worry and exertion as he asked, "Is there anyone else who has access?"

"Just the guards you saw yesterday outside, but they're restricted to this level." At the sight of the open metal doors and the crumpled bodies of the guards, Woolsey groaned, "A security breach. We need to get down there right away."

The guards were just beginning to groan and sit up as Rodney and Woolsey approached the elevator, and Woolsey spared little time on them. "Are you men all right? Good. I'm going to access the security system below." The elevator doors closed before the two men could respond, and Rodney stood next to Woolsey, silently repeating 'Siberia' and waiting for a clue as to his responsibilities in the increasingly worrisome situation.

It didn't take long for Woolsey to fill him in after they entered a small room located a few yards from the elevator at the bottom. Entering a passcode, Woolsey quickly brought up the surveillance recordings revealing a group of black-clad intruders exiting the elevator and immediately heading for a display case. "Ah...see those tattoos? The Serpent Brotherhood! It appears they knew about the fail-safe and the security protocols. Based on this tape, they only had time to acquire one item...the Spear of Destiny." Woolsey frowned as he turned his attention to Rodney. "Tell me, Dr. McKay, how familiar are you with it?"

"If I'm recalling my history correctly, and of course I am, it's the spear that supposedly pierced the side of Jesus on the cross?"

Woolsey zoomed in on the artifact in question, tapping the screen to indicate details. "That's correct; an ancient talisman purported to have mystical powers. Evidence suggests that whoever controls the Spear controls the fate of the world. For thousands of years, whoever controlled the Spear, from Charlemagne to Napoleon, became the greatest conqueror in the world."

Rodney immediately pointed out the flaw in Woolsey's claim. "It makes no sense to steal that! It's clearly not the entire Spear."

Bringing up a different screen on the monitor, Woolsey rapidly began to fill in an online form as he explained the discrepancy. "The Spear was too powerful to remain intact." Hitting the Enter key, he abandoned the system and chivvied Rodney out the door and toward another room a few yards away. "But since you can never completely destroy the Spear, the Librarian who was in charge hundreds of years ago broke it into three pieces and hid those three pieces around the world."

Rodney crossed his arms and huffed, "Still, a disassembled Spear of Destiny can't be a credible threat, can it?"

Woolsey turned away from the monitor and rummaged in a nearby file cabinet. "That's where you're wrong. Hitler had only one piece." With a sound of satisfaction, he handed Rodney a heavy canvas messenger bag before opening another drawer and extracting notepads and pens. "One can only speculate how powerful all three sections could be."

Watching in bafflement as Woolsey stuffed the stationery inside the bag he was holding, Rodney asked, "So, this Serpent Brotherhood. Are these guys into D&D? World of Warcraft?"

Whirling back to the computer, Woolsey brought up an email program and hummed in satisfaction before explaining, "They were a splinter group...back when the Library was in Alexandria. Their name was taken from the serpent that brought knowledge to Adam and Eve. Although they were scholars, they fell victim to the lure of power and attempted to use the artifacts to rule. They actually incited the riot that led to the destruction of the first Library."

Backing up a step, Rodney suggested, "So, it sounds like we have a real problem on our hands. We should definitely contact the authorities as soon as possible." He waved toward the ceiling as he backed toward the door. "Why don't I go upstairs and...."

Woolsey advanced on him, a mocking smile in place. "By all means, call the police. Tell them all about the Spear of Destiny, the golden goose, the lost Ark. I hope you'll enjoy your stay in the psychiatric ward." Rolling his eyes before grabbing Rodney and shoving him out the door, Woolsey scoffed, "I understand Thorazine comes in both chocolate and vanilla now."

Preceding Rodney down the nearest aisle, Woolsey continued to make his point. "While I appreciate the value of rules and authority, no one can truly understand the complexities of the Library's traditions unless they experience them." Halting next to a long wooden table holding several stacks of books, Woolsey turned to face Rodney, his expression intent. "Dr. McKay, you are the only one who possesses the breadth of knowledge that can prevent the Serpent Brotherhood from succeeding in their quest for power."

The canvas creaked between Rodney's fingers as he twisted the bag and objected to Woolsey's contention. "There must be someone out there more qualified! I mean, look at me!"

Woolsey shook his head and began to shuffle through the books. "That's not the case, I'm afraid. You truly are the only one on Earth qualified for the task. Look at it this way...if you come back, you'll be a hero."

"Well, that sounds very...if I come back?" Rodney slowly began to back away from Woolsey while protesting, "Oh, no, no, no. Whenever I hear the words, 'if you come back,' I'm forced to subscribe to an interpretation equivalent to 'there's an excellent chance you're not coming back.' I think it's safe to say that I don't want to go wherever you're sending me if I'm not coming back."

Holding a book in the air, Woolsey chortled in triumph. "Ha! They didn't take the book, once again proving that if you want to hide something, leave it in plain sight." He handed the leather-bound volume to Rodney adding, "This book contains all the clues you'll need to locate the other two pieces of the Spear. The only thing that I personally know for certain is that...the second piece is hidden somewhere in the Amazon jungle."

Intrigued in spite of his fear, Rodney began to page through the book. "Well, good, that narrows it down to about three million square miles. Wait, is this written in the 'Language of the Birds'?"

Woolsey nodded. "Yes, yes, it is. Legend has it that it was mankind's universal language...before that little incident at the Tower of Babel."

"This has been a dead language for thousands of years." Rodney's awe was apparent as he regarded the ancient tome. "There's nobody alive that knows how to read it." Shaking his head in disbelief, Rodney attempted to hand the book back to Woolsey. "You want me to use this to find the other two pieces of the Spear? That's impossible! Even with the Rosetta stone, it took hundreds of Egyptologists seventeen years to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics."

Refusing to accept the book, Woolsey insisted, "While I agree that even Dr. Jackson would have found it a challenge...well...you're the one we're depending on to translate the book in considerably less time."

The book subscribed loops in the air as Rodney made his opinions clear. "I still haven't agreed to all this, you know. After all, this is my first day, and I was thinking I'd start out by checking your systems, see how efficient your search algorithms were, maybe beef up the indexing, add some feeds. I haven't even had my second cup of coffee yet and I'm supposed to defeat an evil conspiracy by myself? Seems a little unrealistic, don't you...." Rodney's eyes narrowed and his mouth twitched down in a frown. "Wait a minute. Dr. Jackson?"

Woolsey shrugged and avoided the question. "If the Serpent Brotherhood should ever get their hands on all three pieces, trust me, it would be a catastrophe of epic proportions. You don't want to go down in history as the man who allowed evil to rule the Earth, do you?" He turned and began to walk back toward the elevator.

Rodney was at his heels. "You mentioned Dr. Jackson."

"Yes."

"Daniel Jackson." Rodney hurried to plant himself in front of Woolsey, forcing him to stop.

Clasping his hands behind his back, Woolsey inclined his head in agreement. "Yes."

Rodney snapped his fingers and blustered, "That overrated linguist was your first choice for the job, wasn't he? All this buildup about how I'm supposed to save the world...and I'm the backup!"

Woolsey failed to meet Rodney's eyes as he admitted, "Dr. Jackson had already accepted a position with another multinational project."

Stuffing the book inside the canvas bag before he looped it over his shoulder, Rodney raised his chin and declared, "It so happens that you ended up with the better man after all." Wheeling about, he stomped toward the elevator grumbling, "It's bad enough Sam Carter thinks the sun rises and sets in that fool. Save the world. I'll show them!"

Woolsey followed Rodney inside the metal box, his face impassive in the wake of Rodney's furious sputtering. The only additional information he offered during their journey to the surface was a subdued, "Your flight leaves in two hours."

%+%+%


After stowing a small carryon in the overhead compartment, Rodney squeezed into his economy-class seat and attempted to make himself comfortable despite the lack of legroom. A crackling sound alerted him to the small screen on the seat in front of him, which displayed a miniature Woolsey, complete with serious expression. Woolsey's message was interspersed with bursts of static. "...McKay, one more...I forgot to...guard...book...life and...trust no one...my...shepherd."

The screen blanked out, leaving Rodney wondering what he'd missed. "Woolsey? Woolsey? Are you quoting psalms at me?" Tapping at the screen failed to recall the other man, and Rodney slumped back in his seat muttering, "What the hell was that supposed to mean?" Giving up on the unsolvable puzzle, he opened the canvas bag and extracted the book he was supposed to translate.

A soft voice intruded before he could do more than scan the first page. "Dr. McKay?"

"Yes?" Impatient at the interruption, Rodney answered brusquely as he rummaged in the bag for a pen and notepad. "What is it?"

Still polite despite Rodney's rudeness, the woman explained. "I don't have a meal preference listed for you, and I thought I'd get that cleared up before takeoff."

Still not looking up from his task, Rodney supplied the requested information. "Yes, yes, that's good. I'm deathly allergic to citrus, so if there's any possibility that the food or drink has been contaminated, then don't bother to bring it anywhere near me. Coffee. I'll take lots of coffee and any sealed cookies or muffins or even pretzels without citrus. Is that clear?"

"Yes, very clear, Dr. McKay. No citrus."

Notepad and pen finally secured, Rodney glanced up and his mouth dropped open as he caught sight of the tall blonde flight attendant still leaning over him. He stammered, "The...the golden ratio...."

Straightening back up with a supercilious smile, the attendant sighed and shook her head, "Let me guess. You're about to inform me that the ratio of 1.618-1 has been proven to be the key to everything in nature that we find beautiful and that my face is the most perfect example you've ever seen of that ratio."

Rodney blinked in surprise. "How could you possibly know that?"

The tall, dark-haired man who appeared behind the attendant supplied the answer. "Because every geek she's ever met has tried to hand her that line." He eased his way past her with a smile and pointed at Rodney, raising one brow as he stated, "My seat I believe? I happen to prefer the aisle. Long legs and a quick getaway and all that."

"Oh...uh certainly...one second." Rodney scrambled to gather up his research materials and transfer to the seat next to the window, his face flaming in embarrassment. "Sorry, sorry."

Calmly tucking a knapsack under the seat in front of him, the new passenger took his seat with another patient smile in Rodney's direction. After buckling his seatbelt, he settled back and closed his eyes without a word.

Rodney redistributed his possessions, and then recalled his sister's suggestion for improving his manners. "Believe it or not, this is actually my first trip to another continent."

His attempt at being polite fell flat, the other man not even opening his eyes as he responded in a flat tone, "How exciting for you."

Ignoring his first inclination to mock the other man's artfully disheveled hair, Rodney made another attempt, wishing Jeannie were there to appreciate his effort. "I'm actually traveling for my job. I'm a librarian, which is actually a lot more exciting than you'd expect. Of course, I've always enjoyed reading. Aristotle. Voltaire. Jung. Descartes. Books contain slices of the ultimate truth from the greatest thinkers of all time. And they speak to me."

The arched brow reappeared, even though the man's eyes remained firmly shut beneath it. "They speak to you?"

"Like nothing else."

The corner of the man's mouth twitched and he coughed a little before he asked, "Do they tell you to do bad things?" He rolled his head in Rodney's direction and squinted at him with one hazel-colored eye. "Do they tell you to set fires? Seriously, don't listen to the books if they tell you to set fires...or to hurt small animals."

Rodney stared at him, lost for an adequate retort. He was finally rescued by the flight attendant's announcements and, as soon as they were in the air, he dedicated all of his attention on the ancient book while his seatmate slept undisturbed.

%+%+%


"The vowels are Akkadian, but the consonants are both early Sumerian...and Indian...and sometimes Hebrew. The genders are Sanskrit, the phonemes are Etruscan, with certain...certain semantic features of Víteliú. Hah! Daniel Jackson, eat your heart out!" Rodney's low mutters gave way to a gurgle of self-congratulation. "I did it. I just learned the...I just learned the Language of the Birds. Didn't even have a Rosetta stone and I did it in..." Rodney checked his watch and performed a quick calculation. "...seven hours and twenty-three minutes!"

An overhead announcement interrupted Rodney's triumphant seat dance. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. We're currently at 11,000 feet and starting our descent."

Physical needs suddenly intruded on Rodney's consciousness and he scrabbled all his notes together and placed them and the book inside the canvas bag. Tapping his non-companion on the shoulder, he apologized for his request. "I'm sorry to wake you, but I have to get by. I need to use the facilities."

"Yeah, sure." The other man scrubbed a hand down his sleep-creased face and stood in the aisle to let Rodney exit the row, canvas bag slung carelessly over his shoulder.

It only took a few minutes for Rodney to relieve himself and splash some water on his face, and he spotted his seatmate still standing in the aisle as he stepped out of the tiny lavatory. Trying to squeeze by the next person waiting in line, he felt fingers dig into his biceps and shove him toward the rear of the plane. He struggled to free himself, shouting, "Hey! What are you doing? Let go!" A glitter caught his eye and he began to panic at the sight of the syringe approaching his thrashing arm. "Stop!"

Suddenly he was free and stumbling backward in the same direction that he had originally been shoved. The dark-haired man who'd spent the trip sleeping next to him pushed Rodney again in spite of his continued protests. "What's going on?"

"Sorry, no time to chat." Another shove and Rodney was pinned against the bulkhead while the other man began to open the emergency exit. Shouts behind them made it clear chaos had infected the entire plane.

Rodney wrestled with the other man, trying to prevent him from engaging the dangerous bright-red lever. "Stop that, you idiot! Who the hell are you?"

The door blew out and plane began to decompress, the rush of air and shuddering metal making it difficult to make out the man's shouted, "I'm the man who's trying to save your life! Come on, we're leaving!"

Shots rang out in the main section, and Rodney unconsciously moved closer as the man shrugged on his knapsack. When he realized it was actually a parachute pack, he reversed direction. The other man grabbed his arm and yelled, "Don't tell me you're afraid of heights!"

Rodney held tight to the nearest handle-like protrusion and shook his head as he protested, "It's just that I know that the odds of an untrained guy like me surviving a jump from 10,000 feet...is seven to two against."

His hands were pried free with a yank, and the last thing Rodney heard as he was blown out the door was a sarcastic shout. "What do you think your odds are now?"

%+%+%


Bending over and propping his hands on his knees, Rodney groaned, "I think I'm going to be sick."

No commiseration was forthcoming. "I kind of expected that to happen when we were still in the air, not five minutes after we landed safely."

Rodney raised his head and glared at the wild-haired man kneeling in the center of the clearing, folding up the means of their escape. "Well, excuse me for feeling less than stellar after being rescued from certain death in mid-air by a suicidal parachutist. Who in the hell are you anyway...you...you...maniac?"

Tucking the neat folds of nylon inside his knapsack, the other man rolled his eyes and rasped, "Now, don't go getting your panties in a twist, McKay. Woolsey sent me to look after you and that book. Didn't he tell you to expect me?"

"No, Woolsey told me to trust no one...and then there was this 'something something is my shepherd' or some such nonsense. A psalm, I think." Straightening up, Rodney waved his hand in dismissal. "I couldn't catch it all because of the static. But that still means I...."

Reaching under his black t-shirt, Rodney's nemesis extracted a set of dogtags and pulled them over his head. He tossed them to Rodney, drawling, "Well, this is your lucky day. I'm John Sheppard."

The identification confirmed Sheppard's claim, as well as revealing he was...or had been a USAF major. Rodney frowned at the embossed lettering, and then clumsily tossed the tags back with a quiet, "Major?" When Sheppard frowned and shook his head, Rodney understood it was 'formerly' and that the rank would not be appreciated as a form of address. "No. Nobody told me anything. To be honest, I feel as if I have no idea what I'm doing, and it's been that way since I walked into work this morning."

A snicker greeted the confession. "Really? What a surprise." Scrambling to his feet, Sheppard slid the knapsack on his back and adjusted the long sheath hanging off his web belt.

Resettling the canvas bag on his shoulder, Rodney pointed at the oversized knife and asked, "How the hell did you get that thing on the plane? They confiscated my nail clippers." When Sheppard ignored the question to look up at the sky, Rodney slowly spun in place and inspected their surroundings. "Where the fuck are we?"

Sheppard shrugged. "I have no idea. You're the brains of the operation. Figure it out."

Crossing his arms and tilting his chin skyward, Rodney huffed, "Oh, you think I can't? I could just climb that tree right there. In a matter of seconds, I could determine exactly where we are and correlate it to the sections of the book I've translated."

"Well, I'm not stopping you." The mocking grin betrayed Sheppard's opinion of Rodney's claim.

His bluff called, Rodney pointed at the leafy giant that towered a hundred feet overhead. "That tree."

Sheppard nodded. "Yep. Need a hand?"

Shedding the canvas bag and his corduroy jacket, Rodney rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and shrugged off Sheppard's offer. "I'm fine."

Of course, he changed his mind after the second time he slipped and ended up racking himself on an inconveniently placed branch. A few more splinters and bruises later, the two men were perched in the upper branches and looking out across the forest.

"Okay, let's hear it, genius."

Mopping his forehead with an already damp sleeve, Rodney tried to catch his breath as he surveyed their surroundings. After a few moments, he nodded and began to extrapolate. "Well...that...is an extremely rare blue condor above us. They're found only within a one hundred mile radius of the Amazon's Purus tributary. The only mountain tall enough to have a snowcap at this time of year within that radius is Mount Pôrto Velho. Therefore, we are at minus 5.2 degrees latitude and minus 64.6 degrees longitude."

Sheppard's eyes widened as he reluctantly admitted, "I'm better with directions when I'm in the air."

Riding high on success, Rodney grinned and pointed. "Okay. We need to go 24.7 miles...that way."

Looking in the direction Rodney indicated, Sheppard asked, "So how'd you do that?"

"Just your basic geography, biology, botany." Rodney looked down and frowned in consternation as he contemplated their return to the distant ground. "That...and I pretty much memorized the Earth."

"You're kidding, right?" When Rodney shook his head in disagreement, Sheppard laughed. "You really need to get out more, buddy."

The suggestion irritated Rodney, who'd been feeling proud of his accomplishment. "You know, people keep telling me that. I'm currently sitting at the top of a tree in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. You can't get much farther out than that unless you want to discuss Antarctica...and let's not because it's cold and I really hate the cold."

"Fair enough. Just try not to fall on me on the way down, okay?'

%+%+%


"So, do you always travel with a machete and a parachute?"

"I try to be prepared. You know, part of my job description."

"Or you're actually a manic-depressive that likes to alternate jumping out of planes with sharp objects with an imitation of a mime. Of course, the hair could carry a conversation by itself."

"Gee, you really know how to flatter a guy, McKay."

"And that's a grand total of twenty-two words from you in the last hour or so. How many miles have we walked anyway? Five? Ten?"

"I'd estimate about...one."

"Hello. Another person here. A little consideration when it comes to branches in the face, please."

"Oh, sorry. I didn't see hear you behind me alerting everyone within five miles to our presence, including the bad guys."

"I'm not shouting here. It's just that all this is new for me. Everything up to now in my life has pretty much been all theoretical, what I've read in books or discovered in a lab, and I'm having a little trouble reconciling that to a really hot, sweaty, not to mention grimy, reality."

"Sorry, did you say something, McKay?"

"I just thought that since we're going to be spending so much time together, we might as well...get to know each other a little bit. My sister keeps insisting that's important."

"You seem like the observant type."

"I like to think so."

"Then you must've observed by now that I'm not the type who's suddenly going to open up to you."

"So how long have you worked for the Library?"

"And yet you keep trying."

"I just want to get to know the Sheppard below the surface arrogance. Peel back the layers, as it were."

"What do you think you're going to find below the surface arrogance?"

"More arrogance. And then perhaps a few delicious layers of flaky disdain...all around a creamy sweet center of homicidal rage."

"What the fuck do I have to do to get you to shut up, McKay?"

"Waving the big knife around works. Okay, I won't ask you any more questions."

"One-mississippi, two-mississippi, three-mississippi...."

"So how long have you worked for the Library, Sheppard?"

"Two years."

"Well, do these jumping-out-of-airplane-jungle-adventure things happen to you often? By the way, what happened to the last Librarian?"

"Listen, you don't need to know about me. I don't need to know about you. We just need to be able to work together."

"So, I'm assuming nothing good, then."

%+%+%


"We're going to die."

"It's the only way across, McKay."

"That is not a way, it's a death sentence. Look at it. The support beams are decomposed. The crossbeams are completely rotted through. Termites would starve if they had to live off the wood that's left. This bridge cannot structurally support our weight and we are going to fall two hundred feet into the rapids and be swept over the falls to end up as finely-ground piranha food."

"This is not open for debate. Come on."

"Sheppard!"

"Take a chance, buddy. Just don't look down."

"Oh, God. I looked down. Why? Why do I always do that?"

"Focus on something else, McKay. You must have a girlfriend, right? Big glasses, doesn't shave her legs, wears Doc Martens? Makes you watch a lot of subtitled documentaries?"

"I'm...between...girlfriends...at the moment."

"I had the feeling. Come on, you're doing great. Tell me something. Have you figured out exactly where the second piece is yet?"

"You know, most of the clues are pretty self-explanatory."

"Good. Keep going, just don't forget you can walk and talk at the same time."

"All the clues except for this one, 'To get inside you must know the time it takes a bird to become a bird again.' Any idea what that means?"

"You're the brains, I'm the brawn. We're almost halfway there, come on."

"You know, I cannot believe that I was wrong about this bridge. I really didn't think that this would support our...."

"McKay! Take my hand!"

"Sheppard!"

"Reach. Reach for my hand!"

"Don't let go!"

"Come on, that's it. Grab hold of that crosspiece. Up!"

"Just don't let go, Sheppard."

"Keep reaching. There you go."

"Well, I hope you're having fun while I'm suffering from a dislocated everything."

"Actually, I am. That wasn't so bad...uh..... Run!"

"I told you! I told you this bridge couldn't support our weight, Sheppard!"

"Less talk! More running! Jump!"

%+%+%


Rodney leaned a little closer to the small fire to read the ancient script again. "To get inside you must know the time it takes a bird to become a bird again. The time it takes a bird to become a bird again. Bird, bird, bird. That must be some sort of metaphor. Usually a bird stands for reaching some sort of unattainable height...like a mountain or...or...I don't know what the hell I'm talking about anymore. Maybe I'm just not as smart as I thought I was."

Poking at the embers with a stick, Sheppard shook his head and drawled, "Come on, we've come too far for you to give up so easily. Maybe you just need to take a little break."

Rodney tucked the book back into the bag and stood, twisting and stretching cramped muscles with a groan. "O...kay. Hey, you wouldn't happen to have any toilet paper in your pack, would you?"

"What's the matter? Didn't pack any in that bag of yours along with all the sunscreen, power bars, and water bottles?" Sheppard mocked, "Knock yourself out." He pointed to a large leaf on the ground and returned his attention to the fire.

"Gee, thanks, Great White Hunter." Rodney gingerly picked the leaf up and examined it for passengers before stepping out of the firelight. As he edged deeper into the bushes, he spotted lights and movement in the distance. Backing away slowly, he whispered, "Sheppard. Come here."

Sheppard was there instantly, responding to the urgency in Rodney's summons. "Damn it. It's the Serpent Brotherhood." He drew Rodney away from the edge of the cliff they were camped on.

"Do you think they saw us?"

Sheppard shook his head, but still kicked dirt over the fire. "No, but just to be safe...."

"Should we go on tonight, or are we staying?"

Resuming his seat on the ground, Sheppard settled back against a convenient log. "They wouldn't dare make that climb until morning." He waved toward the bushes in the opposite direction. "You can go to the bathroom now."

Rodney crumpled the leaf and slumped down next to Sheppard. "Lost the urge." He rubbed his hands along his arms, and then draped his jacket over his shoulders. "Kind of cold without that fire. You know...wind-chill factor...dew-point." He looked pointedly at Sheppard's short sleeves.

Sheppard grabbed his knapsack and extracted the parachute, offering it to Rodney. "Here, this should help."

"It'll work better if we both...." Rodney held one edge out, waiting for Sheppard to wrap the thin fabric around his back. After a brief hesitation, he did and brought it around to snug against his chest. Rodney relaxed against the crumbling wood with a sigh. As he slid a little lower, he tipped his head back to gaze up at the night sky. He raised the hand next to Sheppard to point out some constellations. "That's Sheliak and Terebellum, Cassiopeia."

"Don't tell me. You memorized the universe, too," Sheppard drawled with a chuckle.

"Well, the known universe. Genius with degree in astrophysics here." Rodney subsided for a few minutes before venturing a question. "Sheppard, what happened to the last Librarian?"

Sheppard's answered in a quiet monotone. "He died. End of story. I'm no good at remembering details."

"I highly doubt that," Rodney scoffed. "You're the type that remembers everything."

Sheppard shifted impatiently, the nylon whispering with the movement. "You don't know anything about me, McKay."

"You have an older brother and you rode horses growing up. Your favorite color is blue, although you wear black because you think it makes you look tough." Rodney paused for a moment when he felt Sheppard tensing beside him. "And you wish more than anything that you could forget half of what you've seen. But you can't."

Rodney waited for the demand for an explanation, surprised when Sheppard rasped, "Impressive. I wonder if I could do the same thing for you."

"Be my guest," Rodney shrugged, grateful that he hadn't trespassed too far.

Sheppard's analysis was succinct. "Geek."

Rodney nodded with a laugh. "Fair enough." He waited another minute, and then asked, "Tell me about the last Librarian...Harold Maybourne?"

Rodney was convinced Sheppard would refuse once again, but the other man finally sighed and began to speak. "To be honest, I spent almost two years working with Maybourne, but I'm not sure I can tell you what kind of man he really was. He was smart, tough...ambitious. He was always looking for the next best thing and, in the end, that's what killed him."

Sheppard fell silent for a moment before continuing. "We were in the Antarctic tracking down a rumor, and one night we both...fell asleep...instead of splitting the watch. When I woke up the next morning, he was gone. I tracked him down just in time to see the Serpent Brotherhood...they...they cut off his head. I ended up pretty badly injured, but I managed to get away. Maybourne's body was never recovered." Throwing off the parachute, Sheppard scrambled to his feet and paced to the edge of the small campsite. He stood there looking out into the night, his back to Rodney.

Restraining the impulse to go to him, Rodney called softly, "Sheppard?"

Sheppard's voice sounded raw. "So now you know, McKay. I had one simple assignment...protect The Librarian...and I failed."

"It wasn't your...."

Sheppard wouldn't let Rodney finish. "It's late and we have a long walk ahead of us tomorrow. Get some sleep, McKay."

Regretting his stubborn need to know, Rodney wrapped the parachute a little tighter around himself and closed his eyes. As he drifted into an exhausted sleep, he heard a harsh whisper that soothed at the same time it reminded him of the danger they were in. "I won't let it happen again, McKay. I promise."

%+%+%


"We have company, McKay."

"I don't see anybody."

"They're right behind us. Run!"

"Oh, no...we're screwed! They're gaining on us!"

"Come on, McKay, stop looking back. Move!"

"Sheppard, wait!"

"Keep up! Bad guys chasing behind us!"

"Why did you stop? Oh, shit, another cliff. Are you smiling? I don't think I like it when you smile, because that usually means you're about to do something dangerous."

"You know me so well already. Take my hand, Rodney."

"Sheppard?"

"Come on, we need a running start. One, two, three...go!"

"Ohhhhhh.....shhhhiiiitttt!"

"Rodney?"

"John! John!"

"I've got you, Rodney! Come on, swim! Just a little bit farther!"

"I think...I...I think...I hate you."

"You have to be...alive to...do that, so go right...ahead, McKay. Keep on hating me...and swim."

Part Two




Date: 2008-12-12 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] selinamoonfire.livejournal.com
I haven't read the whole thing yet. My eyes are beginning to cross, but I loved the Librarian movies and so far I love this too. Rodney will make such a great Librarian. ;)

I'll finish when my eyes are in their normal position. LOL

Date: 2008-12-12 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jlvsclrk.livejournal.com
I must say how much I love the story so far! I'm not a follower of SGA but this story has so much verve that its spellbinding. Reminds me of watching Raiders of the Lost Ark when it first came out. On to part two!

Date: 2008-12-13 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] margec01.livejournal.com
I squealed with glee when I saw your new story. But I am thankful you let us know what it's a remix of, since I haven't had the time to watch the movie yet. Recorded it, just no time to watch yet.

So, will I manage to hold off on reading until I can watch the movie? There are worse dilemmas. (g)

*******************************

Notice how I couldn't even wait to post before I glanced through the story? I can't stand it--I'll be reading first! LOL!

Oh, wait, this is from one of the earlier movies? Even better!
Edited Date: 2008-12-13 12:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-12-13 05:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] margec01.livejournal.com
Just finished the story. What fun to remember the original movie, with the addition of John and Rodney. A MUCH better romantic pairing as far as I'm concerned.

I hope the sequels strike a McShep spark within you as well!

Date: 2008-12-13 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kensieg.livejournal.com
I loved this story!

Date: 2009-10-10 02:57 am (UTC)
ext_2125: (Default)
From: [identity profile] sterlingirl.livejournal.com
Love it so far. I'm about halfway through but I wanted to say that you've got a new fan. :D

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