Title: A Bit of a Mystery

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T

Summary: On the way back from Shanghai, the O'Connells encounter two travelers lost in time. 1400 words.

Spoilers: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008); Eureka through (and AU for) 4.9 "I'll Be Seeing You"

Prompt: 24 Days of Ficmas, Day 19: For po_thang. Prompt: Time Travel - something goes wrong, and Jack Carter meets Evie O'Connell.

"So we're agreed, darling?" Evelyn O'Connell said, smiling up at her husband.

Rick made a put upon face, and sighed; but she knew she had him by the reluctant smile that crept up from the corners of his mouth as he tugged her closer in his arms. "Okay, you've got me. The long way home from Shanghai it is," he said. "Retirement can wait. And at least it's America; I won't have to worry about the British government sending us with some three thousand year old magical jewel this time, or a five thousand year old mummy, or anything else likely to wake up and try to eat us- just a nice, innocuous set of top-secret schematics."

"Not that any harm ever came of reading anything, hmmm?" she teased him, leaning up for a kiss. "No, you're right; no mystery at all, just a long, traveling vacation on our way back to England."

"Incidentally giving Alex plenty of time to finish up here before we get home?" he suggested, arching his eyebrows.

"That, too," she confirmed. With any luck, he'd be presenting her with a daughter-in-law by the time their trip was over. Evie quite liked Lin; though the age difference was a bit daunting.

Rick sighed. "It has been awhile since I've been back in my old stomping grounds," he allowed. "Might be kinda nice to show you around."

"And would these old stomping grounds be filled with more friends like your pals Izzy and Maguire?" she asked, pulling back a little as she traced her hands up the front of his shirt. "Or- perhaps a few belly dancer girls?"

He rolled his eyes at that. "Evie, I'm a happily married man on the wrong side of fifty."

"Not that you look it," she had to point out, with all the solid evidence of him pressed up against her.

"Not that you look like you're in your forties either, dear," he smirked at her. "Fairy tales and 'hokum' do have a few benefits, I've noticed. But a straying eye's not one of 'em. When are you going to stop reminding me about that?"

"Oh, when you stop reminding me how very proud I was to be a librarian when we met?" she replied, tone equally as light. More than twenty years of marriage, and bar a few dull moments when they'd tried to settle down and behave like a normal aristocratic British couple of advancing years, they'd never once ceased to thrill and entertain each other completely.

"But I loved librarian Evie," he said, plaintively, then bowed his head for another series of kisses. "And archaeologist Evie... and aristrocrat Evie... and Egyptian Princess Evie... and even British war spy Evie..."

"It's a good thing I'm equally fond of my multitude of Ricks, don't you think?" she murmured, leaning into him. "Hmmm, perhaps we should leave in the morning, then?"

He chuckled, lowly, and began tugging the hem of her shirt free from her trousers. "Morning's soon enough for me."

Jack Carter grabbed a fistful of Dr. Trevor Grant's shirt and threw the scientist back against a wall of equipment. One day. One morning; this was the very first morning he'd ever shared with Allison, and this self-centered anachronism took her from him? He'd known the guy was bad news. He pulled back his fist, ready to knock Grant's teeth to the back of his skull for the sheer stupidity that had led him to test this- whatever it was- where it could recklessly endanger just anyone passing by-

But the world wavered while he was still winding up, and he froze mid-punch, staring at the trees that had appeared all around them. "Oh, no," he whispered, letting go of Grant to get a look back around at the past.

"Oh, yes," Grant said, wiping a hand across his bleeding mouth. "Now look what you've done. And thanks to you, I've lost my hat!"

"Your hat?" Jack stared at him, wondering in what universe the loss of a hat could ever be compared to Allison- or, even assuming he didn't know what he'd done, say, a little time travel?

And then- not fifteen feet from where they were standing- an unfamiliar car drove by.

"Wait, wait," Grant said quickly, staring after it with a very peculiar expression. "Forget the hat. Those were the British liaisons! But they aren't due for another- oh, damn something's gone very wrong, hasn't it? I've overshot the mark! If Adam Barlowe's already been arrested-"

The mark? Jack blinked at that, then started putting clues together; obviously, he'd been planning to return to 1947 to take up where he'd left off. But something about Jack's interference had made him arrive late- too late to even get a glimpse of Allison whole and alive while they were here before, and way too early to do anything to save her from the accident.

"Forget Adam Barlowe, Allison's dead," Jack told him, savagely.

"What are you talking about?" Grant blurted, turning back toward him.

"When you fired up the machine there was a pulse," Jack replied, swallowing past the knot of grief that seemed to have lodged in his throat. "And she was... she's gone."

Grant stared at him a long moment, mouth opening and closing slightly as though searching for an answer- but before he could give one, a voice hailed from the road. The car that had passed was back, having reversed back toward them- and a beautiful woman somewhere around Allison's age was leaning out of the driver's side window.

"Gentlemen?" she asked, baring brilliant white teeth in a wide smile. "Can we perhaps be of assistance?"

"Or not," a man with a strong, square-jawed face leaned across to look out of the window next to her. "Evie, doesn't that look like the traitorous scientist they told you about at the port?"

The woman- presumably Evie- narrowed her eyes at Grant, then nodded and gave her companion a smile. "So it seems. But he doesn't seem a likely traitor to me, hanging about in the woods not half a mile from the scene of his supposed crime. Perhaps we've stumbled into a bit of a mystery, after all."

The man pulled back at that choice of wording, shaking his head at her. "No. No! Evie, come on, this is supposed to be our vacation!"

"Not until we've delivered the schematics," she said, reaching up to pat his cheek. Then she nodded out the window, a cheerful curiosity in her open gaze. "Perhaps we could give you a lift and help you clear up this misunderstanding, Dr. Grant? Your companion is also welcome, of course."

Jack was still breathing hard; he turned to look at Grant, who still looked stunned.

"Well? What now?" Jack hissed at him.

"I… I don't know. I never planned for any of this!" Grant said, then wiped a hand over his face. "But the O'Connell's… they have a reputation. If there's any way forward to both salvage my reputation and- and save Allison, if what you say is true-"

"I held her in my arms," Jack interjected, grimly. "Believe me, it's true."

"Then I think we should take Mrs. O'Connell up on her offer," Grant continued, softly. "She's not American, obviously, but Adam's daughter said that when I disappeared the military initially thought I was involved with the unidentified 'spies'. If I'm currently recognized as a traitor, we might need outside assistance to reset my beacon, find a way to leave a message for Allison, and send you home."

"All right," Jack sighed, then turned to wave up at their still-smiling rescuer.

They trudged through the trees toward the car; Mrs. O'Connell's husband gave her one more dark look as they approached, then shook his head and ostentatiously adjusted the underarm holsters visible beneath his jacket. "I'm just saying. If any more mummies show up, I'm not answerable for what happens, got it?" Jack heard him say.

"Got it, dear," his wife replied, through clenched teeth.

Mummies. Jack shuddered, remembering a curse, a plague of insects, and a piece of Lexi's music that he could really live without hearing ever again. He seconded the sentiment- and tried not to think about what kind of past experiences might have prompted it.

"You'd better be right about this," he hissed at Grant. Then he opened the door and got in the car.