Title: The Great Gift
Time frame: KotCS AU
Summary: It wanted to give a great gift, but what could Indiana Jones possibly want?
Notes: A weird little idea that popped into my head. Can't say I've ever written from a omniscient, deity-esque point of view before, so it may read a little strangely.
It had wanted to give him a Great Gift, but the man misunderstood and translated Its words incorrectly, implying that It would extend the Gift to all the others as well.
It had no intention of honoring everyone here, certainly not the woman Spalko, whose mind was not open enough for the Sight. She had done nothing to deserve the reward; she was the bane of all They had worked for. What They built, she sought to destroy. What They used for peace and prosperity, she used to control and beguile. Only a fool would ask for what she was crying for now – and a fool she was. It would only be happy to grant her wish, but it wouldn't be an honor.
The same went with the man who called himself Mac. His only desire was for material things – gold and jewels and silver. He could have them then, It decreed, as much as he could carry and more.
It turned Its attention to the ones who had brought It here. The older man, Oxley, the one who had tried and failed to return Its skull and had lost his mind in the process, had one wish: for his mind to be clear, for the ability to make sense of the world the way he used to, for the power to once again recognize the ones he loved. This was, then, the Great Gift It gave to Its first champion. It broke the long-standing link between their minds and let him be free of all the Knowledge he had once possessed.
It felt Oxley's relief as the last strands of the bond were severed, and then his mind was lost to It. It didn't make a point of binding with a human's mind without invitation, so Oxley – once a familiar voice – would be silent to It forever more.
The other woman, Marion, who was warmth inside where Spalko was ice, wanted nothing tangible. It didn't need to see her mind to tell. She wanted her son to live, she wanted to see him enter adulthood. Curious, It dwelled on this a moment. Their race had no such thing as children, and a parent's devotion was as fascinating as all the treasures They had since gathered here. Unfortunately, it was not something that could be collected and cataloged, only observed. It had seen it often enough in Its long life here, but it was perhaps appropriate that It should see it one last time before returning to the void. Her Great Gift would be nothing, as It had already foreseen the child's destiny. He would live to make his mother proud.
The boy himself also wanted nothing beyond escape from this place. The hints of worry and doubt clogged his mind, the confusion of youth. He was conflicted about his affection for the new father and his loyalty to the old. And angry at himself for those feelings. He wanted a wisdom to understand himself that could only come from experience. It could not give him that, only years could. It let the boy alone.
Finally to Its second champion, the one with whom It had most recently bonded. The one that had succeeded in completing the journey Oxley had started. It liked him. His mind was a trove of knowledge that It readily drank from. He knew the languages and cultures of both ancient and modern peoples, confirming so many of parts Its database while adding to others. He was a wander, a studier, a collector. Never before had It met someone so like Itself – someone so focused on understanding.
More than anything, It wanted to keep this one, this Indiana Jones. To take him back with It into the void so that their minds could forever be linked, sharing in the Knowledge.
But that was the last thing he wanted. His thoughts now were not even focused on the Knowledge, but on the boy and the woman. Only on them. It was a dismaying sensation, those thoughts, but not entirely unexpected – he was human, after all, and the woman was his lover, the boy his child.
Still, this was not always the case, It knew. Indiana had often times pursued the Knowledge without regard for those he had loved. And he had lost many things because of it, the woman included. This changed when his father's life became involved – he had given up his treasure then. But the change came too late in some ways – the woman had stayed lost to him.
Regret filled It through their bond – an emotion so alien that it threw It off guard. It was raw and sorrowful, and it made It ache for the man Indiana. It dug a bit deeper, curious now; even if Indiana no longer wished for understanding, It still did, and now It wanted to understand him.
He was thinking of all the moments lost, of all the times he could have been with the woman, of all the things he could have seen when his son was growing up – first words, first steps, first loves. He had missed all of that. And regret filled him.
He asked for no Great Gift because he could not see past that regret. But It knew what Indiana wanted, and it was in Its power to grant.
It took Spalko's mind first. It was filled with nothing useful, nothing extraordinary. Truly, it was poor compensation for the mind of Indiana, but it would have to do. It watched as Indiana prepared to run away with his family, and It knew It was ready to bestow Its Gift.
A master of space was also inherently a master of time, and so It could control either with innate ease. As the portal between dimensions opened, It pulled just one thread and watched as the universe stilled and the fabric of space and time creased.
When It would let it return to full motion again, things would be different, and another Indiana Jones would be standing before It. But It let the pause stay, so that It could see and study and understand and ... enjoy.
It watched as Indiana first woke up back in 1937. It was December 25th – It had picked the day knowing that it was Indiana's first real experience of regret. This time, Indiana was lying next to the woman Marion, fully married, whereas before, in the other time line, he was alone.
It had allowed Indy to keep his old memories – the Gift would not live to its full potential otherwise. He stumbled around for a good hour, leaving the young Marion, memoryless as she was, stunned and worried. In a wild panic, he had driven to the College and had placed several phone calls, most notably to his quite still-alive father and a man called Marcus Brody. To Its pleasure, he had returned to Marion before the day was over, though, and began to enjoy the Gift by celebrating the holiday.
It took him a few months to truly get used to it; he perhaps believed that he was merely dreaming, and It supposed It couldn't blame him for being a little skeptical. Cold reality came when his father's journal arrived in his office in March of 1938. This time, Indy went directly to Castle Brunwald, never hunting the Grail markers, never meeting one Elsa Schneider in the city of Venice. He found the Canyon of the Crescent Moon from memory and briefly possessed the Cup of Kings before hiding it way from the prying eyes of the Nazis and history alike. It thought it all fascinating and decided that the Grail should be collected at some point, if not right now.
Henry Walton Jones III was born in July of that same year, and Indy was honestly surprised that Marion had insisted upon the name. He never much cared for the name Henry, and was at loath to stick his son with it, but, at the same time, he wanted the boy to still be the Mutt he knew. It was an unspoken term of Indiana's acceptance of the Gift – one, in reality, that It had no control over. Indy would have to watch and wait to see what sort of man his child would become, just like any other parent.
Henry Walton Jones Senior delighted in his new grandson. Indy delighted in the rekindled relationship with his father. When Indy offered his spare bedroom to stay in – how quickly his once too-large, too-empty house had become filled – it was on the condition that Henry would interact with the newest Jones as much as they could both stand. Which turned out to be quite a lot, as Mutt seemed to be constantly fascinated by Henry's beard.
Indy and Henry's relationship was tense at times, boarding on yelling more than either would like to admit, but Henry found, to his confusion, that Indy had mysteriously become much more agreeable. But, to his relief, still as interesting.
When Mutt said his first word – a badly pronounced fedora, as strange as it was – while playing with his father's hat, Indy had gone to his office at the College, thankfully empty due to summer recess, and cried over a bottle of gin. It had at first been worried, mistaking the emotion expressed for remorse or grief, and wondered if granting the Gift had been a mistake. But it was not so, It realized, when Indy began to pray. The prayer was not addressed to anyone or anything in particular, not Indy's God or even It itself. Indy begged through mumbling, half numb lips whoever would listen to never take the Gift away.
In that case, It had no intention of doing so. Such was Its first experience with true gratitude, so different from the devotions and sacrifices of Mayans.
Mutt took to walking on his own a month after that, and, as he sauntered across the backyard, Indy found himself confessing about the Gift to Marion in a hurried, half mad rush. She worried for her husband's sanity at first, naturally, but came to believe slowly as he relayed to her details that he should not have known. He told her of his previous life, of how he had abandoned her, of Mutt's nearly fatherless childhood. And he had apologized, asked for the forgiveness of a woman who had yet to be wronged.
They made love that night, embracing each other with an intimacy that had never been experienced before that point. Through muttered vows of I love you, repeated over and over, they bonded completely, becoming, finally, the other half of each other's soul.
The second World War began – how much of human suffering was a direct result of their own folly? – and It was surprised to feel Indiana's trepidation. He did not want to go to war, especially not again, not after he had a family to be with. But he held every belief that the Gift had to be deserved – another reason for It to like him, as no one else before him had treated the Gift with such respect.
And so to war he went. It watched with some sadness as Marion and the toddler Henry, whom Indy had always dubbed 'Mutt' in his head, had bid Indy goodbye at the train station. Indy had presented Mutt with a dog a few days before as rather poor consolidation, a mixed breed puppy that Indy secretly hoped would inspire his son's nickname. It knew that it would.
Despite his earlier joy at the present, young Mutt pitched a fit so hard at the station that most of the boarding passengers had to cover their ears as they said their goodbyes. Marion hadn't cried, swearing aloud that Indiana Jones would never again cause her tears. Thinking of that letter, the one and only he had sent to her in his previous life, which had been both too brief and too late, Indy promised to write her at every new stop – a promise he kept. He had yet to break a promise to her this time around.
Indy met George "Mac" McHale a few months later. It had suspected that Indy would have forsaken his friendship with the man who would one day betray him, but, Indy surprised It yet again. They worked and traveled together as before, and It almost began to wonder if Indy had forgotten. As their assignment in Berlin ended, through, Indy hauled Mac out of a seedy casino in Monaco and beat him to a pulp, adding an, "if you don't know what that was for, our partnership is over," after the last punch was delivered.
Mac never contacted him again.
Soon after, Indy left the Office of Strategic Services – earlier than he had before. He traveled to England and found his way onto the Royal Airforce's Elsham Wolds station, American though he was. It supposed It should have seen something like this coming when Indy had began to ask around about a certain Colin Williams, but It had not truly expected it. There had been guilt there, a feeling that Indy had stolen the other man's life – a conclusion that made no logical sense to It, since Colin was fated to die soon anyway. Indy's mind, as complex and wondrous as it was, could at times be riddled with fallacies and contradictions. It had ignored the thoughts, then, until Indy managed to place himself in Colin's squadron.
It feared that Indy would dare to sacrifice his life for Colin, and It prepared to end the Gift right then and there, because this was not the way It meant it to be. But Indy was a resourceful man.
And so it was that on November 11th, 1943, when this Colin Williams should have been killed on a routine sortie, the pair emerged from a badly damaged but flyable Lancaster frazzled but no worse for wear.
At war's end, Colin married his teenage sweetheart and invited Indy to be the best man at his wedding. Indy politely but firmly turned him down. The two had formed a more solid friendship in their time together than they ever had before, but Indy was still hesitant, afraid of losing himself in the what-weres, what-should've-beens, and what-could've-beens. He went to the ceremony, though, with Marion and Mutt.
There was some anxiety when Colin and Marion were introduced for the second time, only to be relieved after the two showed each other nothing more than a passing courtesy. Mutt was so enamored with eating the new flora and insect fauna of Lincolnshire and hanging onto his father's leg, he barely noticed Colin's presence.
When they returned to the states, Mutt vehemently told his father in no certain terms that the first grade was not at all to his liking, and, to drive home the point further, took to screaming every time he was dropped off. Indy had not figured that his son's hated of school would start so early, but obstinacy met obstinacy, and the smallest Jones soon found he didn't have much choice.
He took the name Mutt officially when he was seven, after the family dog was hit by a car and killed. Indy had just returned from finally locating the Spear of Destiny to find a wailing Mutt and a distraught Marion. It was the first time Mutt's more hotheaded personality emerged; he blamed his father leaving for everything from the dog's death to his poor performance at school. It was the first time Indy and his son had fought, and the former was half tempted to give the latter a good thrashing. But such punishment had never worked to keep young Indy in line, and had even less chance of working on Mutt. It agreed, for It didn't like to see either of them in pain.
At ten, Mutt had gotten into his first playground brawl, almost getting himself kicked out of school. The principal had called him wild and unmanageable. So Indy gave him a blunted rapier for Christmas. Marion's initial apprehension was soon replaced by wonder when the boy started to settle down.
The next year, after Mutt had won the Junior Regional Fencing Championships, a teacher had commented that he was intelligent – gifted – but lacked the drive; he was bored and restless. So much alike was the son to the father that Indy decided to take up the offer to tour the world at the behest of Marcus and the College's board of regents. The travels had done wonders for him as a boy, and would have no less of an effect on Mutt.
Besides, there was a certain missing artifact that had last been seen in Roswell, New Mexico, the disappearance of which had yet to be explained. Indy was not quite the government's chief suspect, but he decided that an extended stay out of the States could only help. Mutt was confused. Marion was scared. It was amused.
By the time Marion and Indy had celebrated their nineteenth wedding anniversary, Mutt spoke fifteen languages and had set foot on all seven continents. Every university he had applied to had coveted his attendance, offering full scholarships. He decided on Marshall College without consulting his parents and, when asked about it, he simply replied that it was for the opportunity to work with the famed archaeologist Indiana Jones, who had recently been named Associate Dean.
However, he had still asked for a black leather jacket for his birthday and motorcycle for his graduation – he had already managed to acquire the switchblade on his own from some rockers in London. Marion was horrified.
Indy was relieved.
The year 1957 came much too quickly for Indy's comfort, but still he and Mutt found themselves accompanying Harold Oxley on his journey to Nazca, Peru. They recovered Its skull without difficulty, taking mere days to do what had originally taken Oxley months. With that sort of speed, the Russians had no hope of following their tracks – Spalko was still in Nevada, hunting down the missing remains with no luck.
The crease in time was straightening, and the blurry edges of space were clearing. It had only been a moment, a wink, since the skull had been returned to Its body, and Indy – the part-time adventurer, full-time husband and father – stared into Its eyes and saw what he used to be and had since become. Another Indiana Jones.
His mind screamed through the pause, drawing forth images of all the lives that had been saved because of the Gift – Elsa, Colin, Donovan and the other Nazis, the Grail Knight, even ... and now Spalko and her party. Was that not worth something?
Indy remembered Mutt's first words, his first steps, and bemoaned the fact he had yet to see him love. He thought of Marion's sweaty, relieved grin as she cradled their newborn child in her arms. Of his father bouncing his grandson on his knee.
He bagged and pleaded and prayed that it had all not been just a sweet dream.
It had known that Indy would come to Akator – it was a matter of fate and self-imposed responsibility intertwined. But It never understood the anxiety he had always associated with the return until now, when time had slowed to but a moment.
Indiana Jones still feared that the Gift would be taken away.
If It could have laughed, It would have. Great Gifts could not simply be un-bestowed. Once given, they were forever. Just as the Spalko of the other time line could not ask for the Knowledge to stop, Indy could not ask for his original life to be given back. Such as it was and always would be.
With this understanding imparted and time once again flowing, It was finally ready to return to the space in between spaces. It would miss Indy, but the Knowledge – not just of cultures and languages, but of a man who had lived two lives to full potential – he had shared would remain with It forever.
As Indy's eyes cleared, the temple began to crumble. The last It saw of the man and his son was their backs as they ran towards the exit, Indy grabbing Mutt by the elbow as the void began to open. Words, however, filtered through the roar of the ship's activation sequence as the fleeing party yelled at one another.
"Dad, what the hell just happened in there?" The voice was still young, but its owner was no longer conflicted, no longer hurting.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Junior." This was said gruffly, authoritatively, but It had watched him long enough to know his elation when It heard it.
"Try me!" the boy yelled back as the last of the stone walls faded away from Its chamber.
C-ac-naamal yaan – Thank you – was the last thing It felt from Indiana before the Sight was finally disconnected and void welcomed It home.