|The Scarab Society
Author: Brunette PM
[HIATUS.] Modern AU. FBI Agent Ardeth Bay thinks he might finally be on his way to putting the mysterious international criminal, Imhotep, behind bars when he meets ex-con Rick O'Connell. But their search for the truth is about to get terribly complicated...by four women. Rick/Evy. Ardeth/OC.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Romance - Ardeth B. & OíConnell, R. - Chapters: 29 - Words: 54,308 - Reviews: 70 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 22 - Updated: 03-13-13 - Published: 06-18-12 - id: 8229798
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note. I've been planning out this story for a little while now, trying to fit in the characters I want to use and coming up with the appropriate backstories. I think I'm to the point now where I can start it. It's been a while since someone has written a story putting the characters in modern times, and I thought it might be a fun change of scene.
Disclaimer. The characters of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, originally written by Stephen Sommers, are the property of Universal Studios. This chapter title is taken from the song "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Elements of this story were inspired by a fic published (and since removed) years ago, titled The Learning Curve. I wish I could remember who wrote it. Though I promise, it's not a rip-off.
A Simple Kind of Man
Rick's eyelids fluttered. The room seemed much too bright as he opened his eyes a crack and attempted to make out the figure standing next to his bed. He reached a hand up to rub his face, which was sore and a little swollen under his fingertips. He breathed a sigh that sent a sharp pain through his ribs, and he tried to look at the man again.
He was tall, dark skinned with curly black hair that fell to his shoulders. He wore a well-trimmed black beard and was dressed in a smart black suit. Rick couldn't be sure, but he thought it looked as if the man had make-up on his face. The man gave him a cordial smile and held out his hand. Rick looked at it curiously, and reached out to give it a shake.
"My name is Ardeth Bay. I'm a special agent with the FBI," he said in a smooth, cultured voice, using his other hand to flash his badge. He released Rick's hand and glanced at the chair at his bedside. "Do you mind if I have a seat?"
Rick shrugged. He watched Ardeth Bay take a seat and pull himself a little closer to the bed.
"So what do you want?" he asked. A throbbing pain was growing in his ear.
Ardeth glanced at his hands a moment, folding them in front of him. "Do you...remember what happened to you, Mr. O'Connell?"
"You can call me Rick," he said. "And I remember."
"Good," he said. Ardeth leaned over and picked up a briefcase from off of the floor. "Would you mind telling me about the incident?"
Rick eyed him suspiciously. "Why?"
Ardeth didn't look up from his briefcase, flipping open the clasps and rummaging through some papers. "Because I think you might have some useful information concerning a man we're searching very hard to find."
"So what's in it for me?"
Ardeth glanced up, his dark eyes flashing to his. "I might have a proposal for you, if you have the kind of information we're looking for."
Rick scoffed. "My head's killing me."
Ardeth frowned, scanning Rick's bed before reaching over and grabbing an oblong remote. He pressed a red button, and a moment later, a woman's voice came over the intercom overhead:
"Can I help you?"
"Mr. O'Connell would like some pain medication for his head," Ardeth said loudly.
"I'll send your nurse."
Ardeth sighed, returning back to his papers. Rick started to ask him what information he was looking for, but he was silenced with a look. They waited together in the awkward quiet until a nurse showed up with a bag of fluid. Rick barely responded to her cheery questions about how he was feeling. She hung the IV and hurried out of the room.
"You are an interesting man, Rick," Ardeth said finally, his eyebrows raising at the paper in his hand. "I see here that you could have left three months ago on good behavior, but you chose to stay in prison."
Ardeth shrugged, meeting his eyes. "So why would you do that?"
Rick let out a gruff sigh. "Are you just going to quiz me on my past, or are you going to tell me what you want from me?"
Ardeth chuckled. "Perhaps I should wait until that medicine kicks in."
"It's kicked in," Rick retorted. "I just don't like being kept in the dark."
"And you don't like cops, either, I suppose."
Rick gave him a sarcastic smile. "How'd you guess?"
Ardeth's eyes returned to the paper. "It seems to be a trend with people in prison."
Rick didn't say anything and leaned into his pillow. The pain in his body was slowly melting away, and he felt as if he could relax now. He glanced down at the end of the bed and noticed his foot handcuffed to the bedrail.
"You were incarcerated for bank robbery, along with your partner...Beni Gabor, who, it seems, was just released today. And you both served...five years. What is your relationship to Mr. Gabor?"
Rick sighed. "So we are going to rehash my past, then?"
Ardeth ignored him, continuing to scan through his papers. "Oh, that's interesting. The two of you spent your adolescent years in the same foster home. I guess that explains your relationship."
Rick turned and looked at this guy, in his nice suit and his briefcase, and felt himself growing angrier by the second.
"Look, what's it gonna take for you to get to the point of this little visit?"
Ardeth raised his eyebrows and glanced up at him. "Well, if you answered my questions, this might go a bit faster."
"I don't see how any of this is cause for a federal investigation."
The agent took a breath and leaned back in his seat. He met Rick's eyes evenly and patiently, and looked as if he was trying not to smile.
"Rick, I promise I'm not wasting your time," he said gently. "It's just...it's very important that I know the sort of man you are before I ask you about the incident. I need to know if I can trust your word, or else I am wasting both of our time. Do you understand?"
Rick glanced down at his hand, noticing how raw and swollen his knuckles were. He nodded slowly.
"Good," Ardeth said. "Now, I don't like to play games. I have been reading over your file for the past few hours. You are not an unfamiliar story. Orphaned at the age of six, shuffled between relatives before ending up in foster care, where you were...something of a troubled adolescent. You graduated high school, at least, and then moved on to some factory and warehouse work before robbing this bank with your foster brother."
Rick sighed. Something about hearing his past summarized in a few short sentences made him uncomfortable. Almost as if he didn't have a name; as if he was just a tally mark in a statistic.
"Yep," he said. He started to cross his arms over his chest, but when he noticed the enormous needle in his hand, he quickly put it back down on the bed.
"Why didn't you leave prison early?" Ardeth asked again. "Were you afraid?"
Rick scoffed. "All I wanted was to get out of there."
"So why didn't you? The opportunity was presented..."
"I couldn't..." Rick took a breath. "Look, I just couldn't leave Beni there alone. Have you seen the guy?"
Ardeth flipped through some papers. He paused at one and scanned it. "He's small. Five-foot, ten. A hundred and forty pounds."
"Yeah, exactly," Rick said. "Do you know what happens to guys like that in prison? I couldn't leave him there. He would've been eaten alive."
Ardeth nodded slowly, gazing at the paper a moment longer before glancing up at Rick. He watched him with quiet, sympathetic eyes a moment before saying quietly:
"And you remember what happened to you."
Rick swallowed hard and nodded. He cleared his throat, and his voice didn't sound quiet as apathetic as he meant it to. "Yeah, I guess he didn't feel like paying me the same favor."
Ardeth sighed, his gaze unwavering. "Tell me what happened."
He closed his eyes and ran a hand through his hair. He felt a sharp pang in his heart as he thought back through what had happened, but he pushed it away and started talking.
"It was early in the morning. I don't know. We were supposed to be released, so I was getting my stuff together, and that's when Lock and a couple of guys came into my cell. They started bothering me about something, I don't know. Some liquor store robbery they thought I was a part of. I had no idea what they were talking about. The next thing I knew, I was trying to defend myself against six guys. They kept telling me I had to answer for Baltus, and I told them I had no idea who that even was. But apparently Beni told them I did, and everyone knew we were foster brothers. So they didn't believe me."
Ardeth nodded slowly. "You say Lock attacked you. Is that Tiberius Lock, who goes by the alias 'Lock-Nah'?"
"Yeah, that's the one."
Ardeth slid all of his papers back in his briefcase and snapped it shut. "And you don't know anything about this Baltus they were referring to?"
Rick shook his head. "Never heard of him."
Ardeth sighed, rising to his feet. "You have given us a very...intriguing connection."
Rick frowned in confusion, and he pulled himself up in bed a little. "Hey, wait a minute. What's this all about?"
The agent looked him over carefully, his eyes unreadable. "Those men who beat you...I believe they are part of a larger criminal organization operating in this city. Baltus Hafez was the curator at one of the local museums. He was murdered in his house, where the police confiscated a large quantity of cocaine and a few priceless artifacts. Until today, there's never been any proof of a connection between him and criminals like Lock. You are not the only one who heard them yelling about Mr. Hafez, but since you were the one they were beating, I thought perhaps you might know more about his involvement with them."
Rick mulled this around in his head a moment before looking Ardeth over with narrowed eyes. "And that deal you mentioned?"
Ardeth shook his head. "I'm sorry, but I cannot make good on that. You don't have the kind of information we were hoping for."
Rick nodded quietly. The agent offered him a smile and his hand.
"I have been told you'll be released from prison upon your discharge from the hospital."
Rick took his hand and gave it a shake.
"Congratulations," Ardeth added, turning to go.
Rick nodded again, starting to settle himself back against the pillow. His hands were shaking. He glanced up, seeing the agent's back at the door now, and he couldn't seem to stop himself:
"That Baltus guy, when was he murdered?"
Ardeth paused, turning to face him. "Six years ago, in December."
Rick stared thoughtfully at his sheets. He could feel the agent watching him intently.
"He lived in a big house, in that gated community on the West End."
Rick looked up, meeting Ardeth's eyes now. "I might know something about that."
Ardeth crossed the room slowly and took his seat again. "I thought you said you didn't know who he was."
Rick shook his head. "I didn't know his name. But you said he was a curator, and then there was the cocaine..."
The agent leaned forward in interest. "What do you know?"
But Rick held up a finger. "You first. What's in it for me if I tell you?"
Ardeth took a deep breath. "I suppose that's fair." He looked into his eyes steadily for a moment. "Rick, I do not think you're a bad person. I think you're a good man in a bad environment, and you proved that to me when you said you stayed in prison to protect your friend. Frankly, I'd rather have you working on my side."
Rick's eyebrows jerked up incredulously. "You want me to join the FBI?"
Ardeth shook his head. "I am afraid you can't do that, with your criminal record."
"Well what, then?"
Ardeth took a breath, meeting his eyes very seriously. "I want you to help us. Can you spare a few weeks?"
Rick stared at him. "A few weeks?"
"Yes. We would pay you for your time."
Rick scoffed, shaking his head. "And what am I supposed to tell my girlfriend?"
Ardeth shrugged. "Anything you like. Tell her the truth. Or tell her you had to stay a little longer in prison because of your fight. It doesn't matter."
Rick sighed, staring at this man for what felt like a long time. After a moment, he let out a sigh.
"So what am I 'helping' you with?"