The Highlander by NebbyJen
Summary: Answer to Halloween fic challenge. It's Rodney's turn to tell a ghost story.
Rated: Everybody. No spoilers. Humor/Friendship
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine. Aimless babble written very, very late at night. Beta'ed by Gaffer! Thanks Boss! (Sorry, original upload was the error filled copy... if you hadn't already guessed. The right one is up now!)
I never really understood all the fuss over Halloween. Wearing plastic masks that made your face sweat from the warmth of each breath. Half the candy you begged off the neighbors being inedible because the wrappers were questionable. Or how about the mere fact that it required being out in the dark and cold and I had better things to do. And now, years later, in another galaxy for crying out loud, I find myself stuck in the exact same situation! Only this time, I'm on the opposite side of the mask...kind of.
No matter how much I protested, swore vengeance upon every able body that forced me to attend this cauldron and mayhem ceremony, run by that chanting moron of all great and tedious Athosian chants… I swear Halling makes half of them up, I just can't prove it… I still find myself sitting on an uncomfortable stool, surrounded by pint sized minions clambering around Sheppard while going ga-ga over his lame excuse of a ghost story, watching them inhale chocolate and treats at a rate that would send most into some sort of insulin coma. Where was Beckett brandishing needles when you needed him? Now that would scare the bejeebers out of the horde of sticky rugrats, and I'd get to go back to my nice warm bed on Atlantis.
Of course, some might say I'd brought this upon myself, my exile to the mainland that I currently found myself enduring. How was I to know that the Athosian harvest season was marked with wearing of ceremonial costumes? Is this some sort of universal holiday? Teyla should have said something before I called her Winnie Witch. And nowhere, and I do mean nowhere because I checked, was there anything that stated the dropping of small orange gourds with cut out triangle eyes and sharp teeth, off the jumper tower spire, was against the rules. If Sheppard's aim had been better, and of course if he'd listened to me when I warned him for the like the hundredth time about the wind pattern off the ocean that blew between the spires, then Elizabeth wouldn't have had reason to look up from her balcony at the very moment the most rotten one we could find pegged her in the head. Does that woman have the timing of a bug on a windshield or what? As for the eggs and toilet paper, I had nothing to do with those. And when I find Zelenka, he's a dead man.
I refuse to look at him.
I really don't want to but I know if I don't he'll find some other way to extend my torment. My breath fogs the cool night air in front of me before I decide to see what he wants now.
Maybe it's the more than the usual over-abundance of hair gel that leaves every wayward sprout slicked back to his head like a helmet, or the glow in the dark fangs that has the kids shrieking every time he smiles, that just makes me want to walk over and pound a stake through his heart. And the cape, what I want to know is where'd he get the cape? It's one of those long black ones with the red inside. He looks like Count Floyd from a long ago episode of SCTV.
"Hey Igor, your turn to entertain the kiddies with a story."
He's starting to sound a little pissy and I resist the urge to give him the middle finger salute. "Contrary to whatever nimble minded belief you might have, I don't tell stories."
A round of disheartened 'awwws' encircled me, and at least a dozen or so ghoulish painted faces suddenly had lower lips protruding that made me want to do it right back at them. And I would have if Colonel Dracula hadn't done it first. Where's that stake? The minute he turns into a bat, I'm pinning his wings to a piece of corkboard.
"Oh come on, McKay, you have to have at least one that you know of." He waggles his brows expectantly at me and the kids are all bobbing their heads like dashboard ball players in agreement.
I scratch underneath the hump on my shoulder, the burlap grain sack shirt I'm wearing is making me itch. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who came up with this lame idea of a costume that was forced at me, and I add it to the mental tally I had running since leaving the jumper.
This was my chance. The one opportunity to terrify the mini minions in such a way as they'll never bother me again. Leaning forward so that I'm practically nose to nose with Jinto, I activate the flashlight underneath my shirt so that it shines up on my face, open my eyes as wide as I can without them burning from the smoke of the campfire, and try to look as though a wraith were about to take a good twenty years off my life.
The kids all leaned in closer, their eyes growing wide in anticipation. I almost lost it when I spotted Sheppard joining them.
Clearing my throat, I took a sudden deep breath and held it before letting it out slowly. "Once upon a time, there was an evil Goa'uld," I paused to look around and make sure no one else but the group was listening while lowering my own voice, "named…The Highlander."
I witnessed several jaws drop open. Little ones moved closer to sit next to their older siblings. And Sheppard's hand hit his forehead as he rocked back to stare at the starry heavens above, shaking his head while mouthing something I couldn't quite get. Once he decided to look back my way, I hit him with my best smug brow, glanced to the enthralled group, and continued… but not before hearing him cough 'toast'.
"The Highlander lived far, far away in the fields where the animals grazed. Rarely did any of the farmers ever see him, and it was rumored that he only came out at night to search for prey that he'd rip apart with his sharp teeth and devour while still warm."
A small hand hesitantly tapped my knee. "Did you ever see him?" the little boy beside Jinto whispered.
I nodded slowly, scanning the group again to make sure they were all paying attention. "One night when I was a boy, sitting by a fire like the one we are around now, I saw his yellow eyes reflecting across the firelight. He was covered in dark fur, and had sharp claws that," I paused again and swallowed, flexing my fingers out in front of me and then curling them, "that clicked when he came towards me."
"Well, I was so scared that he was going to tear me apart for his next meal, that I got up to run." For visual effect, I cautiously stood and glanced behind me. The kids, hinged on my every word, also glanced into the surrounding darkness before focusing back on me.
"And that's when he spoke."
You could have heard a pin drop. Not a sinlge candy wrapper crinkled in the darkness. This was easier than taking a laptop from Radek.
"Want to know what he said?"
All the heads nodded eagerly.
Rubbing my hands together for warmth, I settled back on my stool and leaned forward with my elbows on my knees. "He had a strange accent and was hard to understand at first so I had to listen carefully." Clearing my throat, I shot Sheppard another glance and caught him looking past me and then meeting my gaze, slowly shaking his head 'no'. I snuck a quick look at my watch and hid a smile. 'Right on time.'
"Hello lad," I said in a deep imitation of Carson's brogue, but only loud enough for the sugar overdosed children to hear. "You see he only talks to those he wants to eat," I added in a regular whisper.
They all nodded again.
"I've been waiting for you." Who knew I could pull off his accent? If what was about to happen, happened like I thought it would, I needed to wrap this up fast. "He came closer, his eyes glowing, and I knew that I had to get away! He was only steps away when I suddenly screamed at the top of my lungs and threw food at him." For effect, I pegged Sheppard with a small candy bar, reenacting the moment. Breathing hard, I passed out several more pieces to those seated around me. "He was so startled that I had time to make it home before he even knew what happened!"
The shuffling sound behind me was right on time and the entire group's eyes grew huge as I turned to shine my light in the noise's direction. Yellow eyes, claws, and furry skin. I had to give him credit...Carson made one heck of a werewolf.
"Hello lads, lassies," he said...just as I knew he would.
The ensuing screams were hair-raising. Handfuls of candy flew threw the air and pelted the bewildered physician, before the entire mass turned and fled back to the protective shelter of their parent's homes.
"What the bloody hell just happened?"
Ever see a shellshocked monster? Pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. He's so upset that he almost misses Sheppard choking to death on a bite of a Milky Way. It's not every day that you can thoroughly pull one over on Beckett, and by the way he's staring at me, I have a feeling that tonight isn't going to be one of those times either.
Next thing I know, he's given a good thump to the colonel's back, dislodging the fangs and candy, while both men stare at me. One has tears in his eyes and the other looks pissed.
"Rodney, what did you do?" Beckett demands.
Yep, you guessed it. Did what I always do in such situations. Righteous indignation works like a charm every time. My hand juts out and points to Dracula. "What do you mean, what did I do? I get sent off to Halloween boot camp because someone couldn't listen to directions and now…" I would have won the argument if it hadn't been for Halling returning with a wary Jinto in tow.
The tall Athosian had a nasty looking pitchfork kind of tool in hand and was headed in Beckett's direction.
"Oh, sh…." I jumped between them, effectively, okay momentarily, blocking his way to prevent any damage. Next thing I know, Sheppard is at my side with Carson safely tucked behind us. "We were telling ghost stories," I say a little too quickly and realize the sudden pain to the back of my neck could very well be from a set of fake claws pinching the skin.
He doesn't look convinced. "The legend of the Highlander?" he asks as the strange grasp suddenly tightens and I swear I feel blood running down my spine.
"Fake," I squeak. My elbow for support to Count Chuckles garners nothing more than a nod and a slight cough. I'm so doomed.
Halling stares over our heads to Carson standing behind us. "Dr. Beckett?"
No, can't imagine my next few physicals are going to go very pleasantly, judging by the tone of Wolverine's voice and his blades still in my neck, warning me of just how much trouble I'm in.
When Halling continues to stand there, I turn and shine my flashlight on the physician, proving it really was him. Someday he'll have to tell me how he got the colored contacts out so fast. "See? Just Carson. You can go home now."
With a sigh parents reserve for out of control children, he turns and walks away in disgust. Jinto, following close at his side, still sends cautious glares back over his shoulder in my direction.
"Rodney." Strange, Carson's encompassing sigh sounds almost identical to Halling's.
I fold my arms over my chest, effectively dislodging my shoulder hump that is now halfway down my back. "What?" It suddenly dawns on me just how cool the night has gotten and the burlap shirt provides little warmth.
"The Highlander? As smart as you claim to be, you couldn't come up with anything else?"
"Actually doc, he made it a Goa'uld. Highlander." Oh yeah, thanks for all your help now, Slick.
Carson quietly walked back to the jumper between Sheppard and me. I knew he was thinking and it was only a matter of time before he spit it out.
"At least I didn't show up with my pipes," he finally growled. "Can't imagine what the wee ones would have done then."
"Thank god for small favors." How he heard that mumble is beyond me, and the ensuing smack to the back of my head was fast. I turn to glare at Sheppard who is now behind us and catch him making ghoulish faces with his fake teeth glowing while waving claws in the air at Carson.
Okay, I lost it. I laughed so hard my padded shoulder hump hit the ground and Sheppard snorted his teeth out. When Carson stopped just outside of the open Jumper and turned to face us, he glanced back and forth at our tear stained faces only a moment before joining in.
"The Highlander. You bloody fool. If I'm going to become a legend, you can at least tell me the story on the way back."
All I have to say is that by the time we returned to Atlantis, we were more wired on candy than any of those kids we'd left behind. For the remainder of the night, we forgot about the worries and stress of running the Ancient city, and did what we do best. First on our list was Radek and the creative use of a few dozen rolls of toilet paper. After that, Sheppard thought of some interesting places to create a mural with a bar of soap. And the eggs? Carson, we really need to talk more some time about your childhood.