Disclaimer: No profit is made from this work. Its purpose is to promote the films through exploration of the characters/settings/situations.
AN: I happened to see Night at the Museum 2 this week on TV and at one point it occurred to me that a crossover between that franchise and the National Treasure franchise would be really fun. Sadly, no one had written one so I had to do it myself.
Awkward conversation with Larry: finally happened. I knew it was going to, ever since I decided to come back to the museum.
He was really nice about it too. No hard feelings about the break-up - even if Dr. McPhee tried to create some. Larry and I got rid of him. Together.
After a moment of camaraderie we got down to business exchanging pleasantries. It was awkward and painful, exactly as it should have been. At the end he asked if I wanted to stay the night - the museum closes early on Mondays so it'll be just like old times. Well, sort of. For everyone except Larry and me.
Maybe just me.
Regardless, I felt like I was being welcomed back into a club or even a family when he asked. Leaving may have been the right move for my career, but I missed this place terribly.
Of course I said yes, why else would I have come by just before sunset?
The awkwardness though, that's still there. So I let Larry check to see that McPhee's safely out the door while I make my way to the America in the 1800s exhibit. Sacajawea and I have some catching up to do.
I take the long way. Sunset is fast approaching and I don't want to be caught anywhere near the African animals exhibit, even if they are child-safe now. I see the first bit of movement while I'm still in the halls and I know it can't be night yet because the Egyptian guard statue ten feet away is still as stone. My mouth is half open to yell for Larry when the intruder turns.
"Riley?" I demand, not a little bit confused to see my black sheep cousin.
"Rebecca!" he cries, pretending we've randomly run into each other anywhere except a closed museum. He breaks character only for a moment, glancing towards an alcove. Oh, dear God, no! He can't be doing this here!
"Riley," I repeat, forcing myself to remain as calm as possible while I march down the hall towards him. My heels click menacingly in the empty corridor but instead of backing away he takes a step forward - a step forward! He really is doing this. Here.
"Surprise!" he says when I near him. As if I'm going to believe that.
I dodge around and level my best glare at the couple hidden in the alcove. "Dr. Gates, Dr. Chase, I presume."
Gates smiles winningly, extending his hand like he's anything but a criminal in all this. "I can explain."
"This is my cousin, Dr. Rebecca Hutman," Riley says to them.
"We're trying to solve a mystery."
"She just got a spot on a museum's board of directors."
"But to do so we may need to actually handle a mummy."
"No one said it was this museum."
"I'm sure you can understand that's not the sort of thing you want to do during normal business hours."
"She's really mean."
"Riley!" Chase snaps.
"Listen," I say, raising a hand to stop any of them from speaking again. "I may not like your methods but I do trust Riley to do what's best and your record kind of speaks for itself."
"So you'll let us do it?" Riley asks with a mixture of shock and excitement.
"No! But I'm also not gonna tell anyone while you leave and find another clue or whatever elsewhere."
Gates gives me a long look before saying, "No," and grabbing my arm.
"Ow!" I say, more from the invasion of my personal space than actual pain. He ignores my outburst and pulls me down the hall.
"What are you doing?" Chase asks, concerned but not so concerned that she's stopping him.
Gates doesn't break stride when he shoots all three of us a humoring smile. "What all of you fail to remember," he says, sounding just as annoyingly condescending as Riley described him, "is that the museum just closed. The only other person here is probably the night guard who, even with Riley's bossy cousin around, still has to do his rounds. The plan hasn't changed. We still have plenty of time to get the information we need and get out."
"You really don't," I sigh. If he hadn't been right about Larry I'd have screamed but by now he was too far away to hear.
"Sorry about this," Riley mutters, trailing behind me.
I want to yell at him, snap at him for being an idiot, but I'm too worried about where we're headed. Gates said he needed to handle a mummy and I can only guess it's Ahkmenrah. What if they're looking for the tablet? They can't take it. And what if they damage Ahkmenrah? Right now he's bones and dust but in a few minutes he'll be flesh and blood. What if they break one of his bones or pull an arm off? Will it heal? Grow back? Maybe I should have spent some of my time away studying ancient Egyptian magic.
"You don't understand," I try as Gates pulls me into the tomb exhibit. "You really can't be here now."
"Well we can't be here any other time," Riley mutters.
"Not helping," Chase and I say together. We share a small smile, clearly Riley's powers of annoyance extend beyond the family.
"We're not going to hurt anything," Gates says. "Our last clue said what we need lies with Pharaoh Ahkmenrah. The context of the statement implies it's with his actual body. We'll just poke around -"
I stop listening to him and focus on the museum around us. No one else seems to notice but I do. It's like when the power comes back on after a blackout, the whole house seems to buzz with it. But instead of electricity the museum was suddenly filled with life.
"Oh no," I sigh and look up to see the tomb guardians turning down to us. I have just enough strength to pull Gates back so we're not crushed. Riley screams and Gates lets me go to grab for Chase. The three yell something about malfunctioning animatronics and finding the off switch. I just run for the front of the room.
Ahkmenrah climbs out of his eternal resting place just as I slide behind it. "Rebecca!" he says happily. "What a pleasant surprise. Whatever are you doing back in the city?"
"I'm on the board now," I gasp and nod towards the guards.
"Oh, sorry," he says with a boyish grin I'm sure had all the Egyptian girls swooning in his day. He raises his arms imperiously and gives an order in ancient Egyptian.
The guards back off and I hurry forward to check on the three treasure hunters. Luckily, they made it outside the exhibit unscathed.
"What was that?" Riley demands as Ahkmenrah and I emerge. A distant lion's roar cuts off my response.
"You know," Gates says, "you shouldn't have the animatronics on when the museum's not open. That's a huge waste of energy."
"Who are they?" Ahkmenrah asks.
I quickly introduce the three.
"Ah, Dr. Benjamin Gates!" Ahkmenrah says excitedly, shaking his hand. "He's how we got Benny, isn't he?"
I nod with a laugh. Benny was one of the statues Gates unearthed after stealing the Declaration. He's now comfortably ensconced just around the corner. He'd probably love to meet Gates, come to think of it. I shake my head. There's no telling how these people will handle the museum at night. Best to keep it hidden until we have no other choice.
"And you have the actors working? You must be hemorrhaging money around here," Riley says.
"Would you just tell him what you're here for?" I snap. It's only a matter of time before Galileo or a wooly mammoth walks by.
Riley leans close to say, "We don't really like to reveal our-"
I grab his shirt. "Tell. Him," I ground out.
"All right, all right."
Dr. Chase explains their mission, this time in much more detail. It only takes a few seconds for Ahkmenrah to see the flaw in their plan.
"The clue doesn't lie with the pharaoh physically," he says. "The pharaoh is the only person who knows where you'll find what you're looking for."
"Oh boy," I mutter. There is no way to get out of this without telling them.
"Well that sucks," Riley says. "We can't ask a dead guy."
Ahkmenrah shoots me a sidelong glance, not so much asking permission to tell them as asking what he should say. I'm saved from answering by probably the one person in the museum right now that I least want to see me in this situation.
"Rebecca!" Larry calls, jogging towards us with a remote controlled car zooming around his feet. "I thought you were heading to - Who are they?" he asks, his tone going serious.
I run through introductions for what I hope will be the last time that night. Heaven forbid Teddy and Sacajawea show up. Or Rex. Oh God, please not Rex.
"Larry Daley, night guard," I finish.
"So you're here on one of those crazy treasure hunts," Larry says with absolutely no humor. Can someone direct me to the nearest hole to the center of the earth? I'd like to crawl in now.
"And according to your actor guy," Riley says, "we would need to ask the actual pharaoh for help."
"Did you know about this?" Larry asks.
I balk. "What?"
"Did you know about this?" he repeats and it sounds even more insulting the second time around.
"Of course I didn't know about this! Do you think I'd bring them in here if I thought for a second they might find out?"
"Well, I don't know! You've been gone a long time. People change."
Oh. He did not.
"I had to leave, Larry. You know that! That research trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
"I may not have taken calculus or anything like that in school, but I'm pretty sure six month research trips do not take two years, Rebecca."
"Hold there, sir," Octavius calls up and I'm too mad at Larry to care that Riley, Gates, and Chase are standing right there. "The lady had her reasons to leave and if you had truly wished she remain you should have said so."
I nod. Octavius is right. If Larry wanted me to stay, if he wanted me to take that kind of a step in our relationship, he should have made it clear that I'd be staying for something more than the prospect of a few more daytime dates.
"Oh come on!" Jed cut in. "That's just crazy talk! Gigantor here puts his heart on the line and she just walks out on him."
"'Heart on the line'?" I echo. "When was your heart ever on the line?"
Larry opens his mouth to defend himself but Jed does it for him. "Men are different than women, you gotta understand that. We don't express ourselves the way you do."
"Oh please," Octavius says, "that's all pride. If he truly cared for her and wanted her to stay for him, then he needed to say so. We cannot expect women to reach conclusions we ourselves are not even willing to find."
Jed sputters for a moment, muttering some of his quirky cowboy sayings that no one ever understands before letting out, "But she still left! And I'm not talking about just Larry. She left us!"
"Oh don't even," I say when Larry sends me a look of "yeah, what do you have to say to that?" "You left too!"
"I'm sorry!" Riley interrupts. "Am I the only one here who sees the tiny men?"
Larry and I have identical sheepish looks on our faces. I know because I couldn't quite bring myself to look at Riley and his friends.
"Perhaps I should explain," Ahkmenrah says.
"That might be best," Larry says.
"And for the record," Ahkmenrah says quietly in my direction, "when you said you were back I had sincerely hoped it would mean the two of you were getting back together."
And now I'm blushing. Thank you, Ahkmenrah, for making the uncomfortable situation that much more uncomfortable.
"Do you see that golden tablet back there?" he asks.
Riley nods and Chase does the same while putting a hand over Gates' mouth, I assume to keep him from doing a bit more than simply agreeing.
"It is magic," Ahkmenrah says proudly. "Every night it brings all of the exhibits to life."
"Very funny," Gates says at the same moment that Riley says, "Cooool."
"You're not buying this," Chase says.
"How do you explain the tiny men?" Riley asks seriously.
Gates frowns disappointedly at Riley and squats down to get a better view of Jed and Octavius standing on the hood of the car. "Clearly they're -"
"What?" Jed asks, resting a hand on his pistol. "What are we? Clearly?"
"If you wouldn't mind?" Octavius asks, gesturing for Gates to pick them up.
"Whoever markets these should really be getting some better press," he says as he stands, the men in the palm of his hand.
"They're really not robots," Larry says.
"You can't seriously expect us to believe that this is the result of some sort of magic," Chase says.
"Indeed it is, my lady," Octavius says with a bow. "And may I say, your fair face would shame Helen of Troy."
"You're Roman," I point out with a smile.
"I can still appreciate beauty." He may be three inches tall but his comment makes Dr. Chase blush. I can't blame her, this isn't the first time I've thought the manufacturer gave the legionnaire a silver tongue.
"So," Riley says slowly, "all the 'animatronic' exhibits are … not really animatronic?"
"No," I say with a small smile.
"It's just not possible," Chase mutters and she and Gates take a closer look at Jed and Octavius.
"Hey," Larry says, his voice pitched so only I can hear.
I turn to face him but say nothing, figuring this is his show now.
"I'm sorry," he admits. "You're right. I can't blame you for leaving when I did the same thing."
I smile. "I hated it, you know."
"Really?" he asks hopefully.
"Yeah. Every single day I missed this place. It was home even before I found out the exhibits were alive. In the long run leaving may have been the right call, but in the short run it hurt like hell."
"I can understand that."
"My nights just weren't the same without Sacajawea and Teddy and Genghis and Gigantor."
There's a beat of silence just long enough that I almost regret saying it.
"Gigantor, huh?" he says.
He gives me that goofy grin I love but before more can be said he whirls around in a circle. "Where's Ahkmenrah?"
"Here!" the pharaoh calls, running down the hall towards us, a dodo bird trailing behind. "I wanted to draw out the map Dr. Gates will need to continue his treasure hunt."
He presents a piece of paper to Gates with a flourish.
"Thanks," Gates says while Chase looks it over.
Larry and I each move to relieve him of the men in his hand and when we share a smile Riley lets out a disgusted "ugh." He's certainly gotten over the magic thing fast enough.
"Thanks," Gates says after looking the map over. "This'll be a big help." He and Chase seem torn about something.
"Can we come back?" Chase asks. "I mean, we would love to learn more about all of this if you wouldn't -"
"Feel free," Larry says. "But you have to promise not to tell anyone. If people knew, well -"
"I can imagine," Gates says. "You have our word."
"I'll show them out," I say, letting Octavius join Jed on Larry's shoulder.
The doctors say their stilted goodbyes while Riley falls into step beside me. "I can't believe you never told me about this place," he mutters petulantly.
I would probably make some cutting remark but I can still hear the boys talking behind us.
"Ow!" Larry says. "What was that for?"
"You could do a lot worse," Ahkmenrah says calmly.
"Yeah!" Jed agrees. "You better not let that filly get away again."
"I thought you were on my side," Larry mutters.
"I am, but part of being on your side means I want you to be happy."
"You were never happier than when you were with Miss Rebecca," Octavius adds.
"Hey!" Gates says as we round the corner at the end of the hall. "I recognize that statue!"
"It's green guy with beard!" Riley cries.
"We call him Benny," I say.
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