A/N: My first crack at a Bering and Wells fic. Written for the AU week challenge on tumblr. Not so much Bering and Wells in the first chapter, but it'll get there soon. Also, based of the 90's show Relic Hunter.
Disclaimer: I own nothing in the following work of fiction.
It looked like an ordinary university. The gothic style architecture showed throughout the stone hallways and courtyards. Little did he know that it was to be his portal to endless wonder and enchantment.
After being tossed to and fro on a sea of bustling university students, Steve Jinks had stepped to the side and asked for directions. He was sent off towards an out of the way section of the sprawling campus.
From the outside it looked like a normal office. The door read Dr. Helena G. Wells PhD with Ancient Studies written under it in thick block letters.
Inside looked like an exploded scrap heap. Bits and pieces of metal, computer parts, and bric a brac littered every available surface. Oddly the desk in the main office area was clean save four computer monitors and a keyboard. Farther in was what he assumed to be Professor Wells' office. The door was closed and the curtains drawn, but a muffled argument came from inside.
Before Steve could knock a loud crack was heard, sounding much like a car backfiring. Seconds later the door opened with a cloud of smoke. A young woman exited, pushing a pair of goggles off her blackened face.
"You set off the fire alarms again and Dean Nielsen will have us shut – oh hey," the young woman came to a stop, spotting Steve. The protective goggles had left two glaring white circles around her eyes, and Steve fought off a grin.
"Hi. I'm here to see Professor Wells?"
"New student?" she asked, eyeing him critically. Her intimidating look was ruined when she blew an errant pink bang from her forehead and choked on the sooty black cloud that came off the rest of her hair.
"Teaching assistant," Steve laughed.
"HG, the new guy is here! I'm Claudia by the way." Steve took a breath to respond before he was interrupted by a crisp British accent.
"Ah, you must be Mr. Jinks. Helena Wells."
A newly cleaned hand was offered to shake. It was delicate and pale, made more startling by the dirty blackness covering the other. Slowly Steve brought his gaze from the hands, up a slim frame, and slightly smudged face to a pair of curious brown eyes. They regarded him with a sharp look and Steve had the feeling of being measured. A moment later she blinked and the look was gone.
"Please, call me Steve. I really look forward to working with you Professor Wells. It's a great honor."
"Helena, please or HG will do just fine. Although you should save your praise Mr. Jinks, it's early yet. You may set your things –" she trailed off noting the clutter on the unoccupied desk. "Well if you can manage to find the desk, it's yours."
"Oh crap balls," was heard from behind one of Claudia's monitors. "Got an email from Leena. She must have sent it while we were working. Dean Grumpy-pants wants you in his office yesterday."
"Doesn't he always?" HG muttered, pulling the welding goggles from her head. She quickly finished wiping dirt from her hands and face. "Righty-ho then. Best not keep him waiting any longer."
"I'll let Leena know you're on your way."
Steve watched her go out the door then looked to where Claudia was staring at him.
"That would be you. Following her. Now!" Startled, he set his things on the floor and hurried after HG.
He kept pace a couple steps behind her, noticing the way the crowded hallways parted as she passed. It almost seemed to be an unconscious action by most. HG was pleasant enough with everyone, offering a quick nod and a smile as she walked. Steve could feel the interested eyes turning to him as he trotted along in her shadow.
"Any questions so far Mr. Jinks?" HG asked, keeping a brisk pace as they walked.
"Umm who's Leena?"
"Dean Arthur Nielsen's personal secretary. She handles most of our day to day dealings with the Dean."
"Is he really that bad?" Steve asked, as they came to a stop in front of the Dean's office.
"Only if he likes you," HG smirked, pushing the door open and waltzing in.
A young woman in a floral patterned shirt, Leena according to the plaque on the desk, stood from her chair and fixed HG (and by default Steve) with a scolding look. Steve was the only one who looked chastised.
"You're late," Leena stated plainly. HG shot Leena a winning grin which seemed to soften the assistant's ire.
"Next time I shall be early. Is he in?"
"He's waiting for you and –" Leena paused, turning her gaze to Steve.
"Oh! Where are my manners? Leena this is my new associate Mr. Jinks. Mr. Jinks this is Leena."
"Steve," he offered, shaking Leena's hand. A moment later he followed HG into the Dean's plush office.
Behind the desk sat a plump, greying man who glared from over the brim of his glasses. Across from him in two cushioned chairs sat a man and woman dressed in casual business suits.
"Ah Doctor Wells. How nice of you to join us," Dean Nielsen grumbled.
"I do apologize for my tardiness, Artie. I was getting acquainted with my new associate, Mr. Jinks." Steve offered a half wave from beside her.
"Doctor Wells, Mr. Jinks these are Ms. Malashree Dahal and Mr. Suraj Karmacharya. They have a problem I think you'd be able to help them with. They've come ten thousand miles just to meet with you."
"We're with the Indian Buddhist Historical Society and recently we've begun construction on a museum to celebrate Buddha and his teachings," the man began. He reached into a bag beside his chair and pulled out a cylindrical case. "During the process we've uncovered a map showing the location of the Buddha's bowl."
Her interest peaked; HG took the case and twisted the top off. Artie handed her a pair of purple protective gloves that she slipped on before unrolling the parchment.
"Where was this found?" she asked, running a finger carefully over the symbols.
"Kushinagar," the woman spoke quietly.
"The city where Buddha died," Steve offered, slightly miffed by HG's surprised look.
"We now know the place where the bowl was… 150 years ago," the woman trailed off.
Inspecting it a moment longer, HG stood straight again and rerolled the map. With a sympathetic grimace, she declared that she wouldn't be much help.
"Please Doctor Wells. We're prepared to pay you," the man begged, offering a handful of silver coins. Worthless in the current day and age save for their sentimental and historical value.
"Perhaps we could work out a contract and lend you the bowl to your university's museum for a time?" the woman added, hastily.
HG glanced between the two earnest guests and to Artie who was desperately trying not to intervene.
"Well with an offer like that, how could I refuse?" she shrugged, shouldering the case containing the map. "Artie, I'll leave you to sort the details. Mr. Jinks I believe you and I have a bowl to find."
"This is amazing," Steve gushed as they inspected the map on HG's desk.
"You seem awfully excited there Jinksy," Claudia laughed, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm a Buddhist, this is like finding a map to the Holy Grail."
Claudia shrugged and hopped up to sit on the corner of the desk.
"So what's the big deal about Buddha's dirty dishes anyway?" she asked, trying to see around HG's purple gloved hand.
"The bowl was said to have a never ending supply of coins," HG replied, pulling the magnifying glass closer. "This looks like the gardens in Lumbini."
Steve turned his head to get a better look at the symbols. Most of the text was worn away or so illegible that the pictures were their only hope.
"And that's a bad thing because?"
"Eventually it became more trouble than it was worth," HG frowned at the map. "Some sort of fish maybe? A koi? I don't know. we'll figure it out on the way." Steve threw a startled look between Claudia and HG.
"Is she? Are we? You mean, we're actually going? There?" he gaped.
"You bet. Pack your prayer beads Jinksy, you're about to have a religious experience."
"Mykes I'm starving, can't we just stop for a quick snack?"
"Pete you just ate literally an hour ago! We're already late as it is." Myka Bering rolled her eyes at her partner's antics and kept walking through the crowded business district.
"I don't know about this MacPherson guy," Pete continued, easily keeping pace with Myka.
"Mrs. Frederic said that he had a copy of the map to Siddhartha's bowl. It would be and I quote 'an excellent piece for the museum's new Asia exhibit'." Myka didn't need to add that their curator weirded the hell out of her and it was wise to stay on her good side.
"Never mind that it supposedly never runs out of coins," Pete said, opening the door for Myka and following her inside. Myka threw him a surprised look.
"What? I read. Sometimes. When I have to."
"I know you do Pete. Now let's go get us a map."
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