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The Librarians fic: ...And the Alien Abduction (1/1)

December 2nd, 2015 (10:05 pm)
determined

feeling: determined

Title: ….And the Alien Abduction

Disclaimer: I do not own the Librarians.

A/N: A fill for my alien abduction square on hc_bingo. Unbeta’ed, and set in early S2 with minor references thereof.

Summary: “Well, I think it’s obvious,” Ezekiel said seriously. He nodded intently. “We’ve been abducted by aliens.”



-o-

His hearing, of all things, came back first.

It was a low buzzing, not quite a ring. Insistent and steady, droning in the back of his mind like a jackhammer.

Annoyed, he wrinkled his nose, trying to keep his eyes squeezed shut in a vain attempt to stay unaware. Not that he particularly like being vulnerable, but some stones were probably better left unturned.

That was the wrong damn analogy to use.

Inhaling sharply, sensation flooded back of him. Which made him realize two things. One, he was on the ground. Like, flat on his face. And two, that little jackhammer in his head? Hurt like hell.

The problem was, of course, that it was true. Some stones were probably better left unturned, but Jake had never been able to abide by that. If he had, he never would have started reading all those books in the first place. No, Jake had spent most of his life trying to turn stones back over after he flipped them in the first place.

It was just part of who he was.

If there was a question, then he was probably going to answer it.

Vision, that came third, and it assaulted even worse than the rest. The sheer brightness overwhelmed him, ratcheting up the intensity of the jackhammer until his entire head throbbed.

“Stone? Hey, Stone. You awake?”

The voice was familiar, accented, young.

“Come on, mate. Wake up.

And annoying.

That meant….

Jake blinked a few more times before he could make sense of the dark shadow above him. When his eyes focused, he groaned miserably. “Ezekiel.”

Ezekiel, who was perched in front of him, grinned. “About time,” he said. “You were starting to freak me out a little.”

Jake inhaled, trying to control the nausea in his gut while the pain in his head spiked dangerously. Cautiously, he pressed the palm of his hand between his eyes while he tried to sit up.

“I mean, you’ve just been lying there,” Ezekiel continued, almost heedless. “And I wasn’t sure if you, like, needed help or something, or if I should just let you sleep--”

Arching an eyebrow, Jake tried to glare at Ezekiel.

It hurt too much.

“But I didn’t have anyone else to ask,” Ezekiel said with a matter of fact shrug. “And they must have taken my phone, which is not only really boring but inconvenient--”

“Wait,” Jake said, voice deep with pain. He squinted at Ezekiel, trying to lessen the effect of the light as it drilled relentlessly into his skull. “Your phone?”

Ezekiel blinked at him like he was crazy.

Jake’s head hurt worse just looking at him.

“Uh, yeah,” Ezekiel said. “You know. A smartphone? Games, apps, the web. Phone calls for those who want to be quaint.”

Jake shook his head carefully, doing his best to keep the weight of the pounding at bay. “I know what a phone is--”

“I thought maybe you hit your head harder--”

Jake all but growled. “What happened?” he demanded through gritted teeth. “What happened to your phone, my head? What happened to us?

Ezekiel actually looked earnest.

Which was how Jake was pretty sure he was going to hate the next thing that came out of his mouth.

“Well, I think it’s obvious,” Ezekiel said seriously. He nodded intently. “We’ve been abducted by aliens.”

-o-

All things considered, Jake must have hit his head pretty hard. Because not only was he in pain and disoriented, but Ezekiel was talking about aliens.

“I thought it was never aliens,” Jake said, getting haltingly to his feet. His stomach lurched for a moment while his vision threatened to black out entirely. He kept his balance -- barely -- and he steadied himself on the wall for a little extra support.

“How else do you explain?”

Jake forced himself to focus, looking around the length of the room. The walls were painfully bright white and totally smooth with no obvious signs of doors or hatches. “I don’t know,” Jake said. “Magical library.”

“Uh uh,” Ezekiel said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Magic is ancient. This thing? Looks like cutting edge tech.”

He was, unfortunately, sort of right about that. There was nothing remotely historical about the room. The walls were made of some material he couldn’t identify -- smooth and firm and cold. It wrapped seamlessly from the walls to the floor and ceiling, as if it was almost constructed from a single piece. “There’s not a lot of tech in here,” he observed, taking a tentative step and hoping his equilibrium didn’t fail him now.

“Look at this place,” Ezekiel said. “It’s secured tighter than a vault with no sign of any access point.”

“That we can tell,” Jake said, continuing around the room with a slightly off kilter gait. He turned his eyes up, trying to figure out where the light source was even coming from. “We’ve seen some crazy things with magic.”

“And nothing like this,” Ezekiel said. “Because this is aliens.”

“It’s not aliens,” Jake said, rocking back on his heels experimentally. The floor had no give to it, and there was no indication of a hollow space.

“Then I’ll ask again,” Ezekiel said. “What?

Jake opened his mouth, but no words came out. Aliens, honestly, weren’t his specialty, and to be entirely fair, he was pretty sure he was concussed.

At this exact moment, though?

He had no idea.

Scowling, he drew a frustrated breath.

The last thing he wanted was to admit that to Ezekiel.

Not that he didn’t already know. “See? You’ve got nothing.”

“I have a concussion!” Jake snapped and regretted it immediately. The throbbing intensified behind his eyes.

“You must have landed on your head,” Ezekiel said. “I think I sprained my wrist. I couldn’t even use my phone if I still had it.”

“They took your phone?” Jake asked.

“And I sprained my wrist, but I’m fine, thanks for asking,” Ezekiel said.

“How would an alien know to take your phone?” Jake asked.

“Because they’re advanced intellectually and technologically,” Ezekiel said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “I think they can figure out what a cell phone does.”

Jake sighed, feeling the weariness spread through his bones. He made his way around the room again. “It’s not aliens.”

Ezekiel groaned. “Yes, it is?”

Frustrated, Jake turned to face him. If this headache wasn’t going away, he might as well greet it head on.

That felt a little literal at the moment.

“Why?” he demanded. “What evidence could you possibly have for that theory except your desperate hope for it to be true?”

Ezekiel was unbothered by the venom in Jake’s voice. If anything, Jake’s adamancy only made him more smug. “What do you remember before this?”

Jake’s face screwed up in confusion. “What?”

“What do you remember before waking up?” Ezekiel asked again.

It took him a moment -- concussion! -- but finally the bits came back to him. “We were heading out of the library to get some food,” he recalled. “You were insisting on Chinese, but Cassandra wanted us to bring back pizza.”

“And you wanted fried chicken, of all things,” Ezekiel said. “You are such a cliche.”

“Fried chicken is delicious,” Jake said. “But we didn’t get very far. We walked down the steps and--”

He stopped.

Ezekiel waited, ever expectant.

Jake pressed his lips out thinly. “There was a light.”

“Not just any light,” Ezekiel said.

Jake sighed. “A bright light.”

“From above,” Ezekiel added. “And a rush of wind.”

Jake was already shaking his head. “That doesn’t mean it was aliens!”

“Then, by all means, tell me,” Ezekiel said. “What was it, then?”

Jake looked around helplessly at the room. He remembered the bright light; he could still feel the wind in his hair. He couldn’t account for anything in this room or explain what it might actually be.

“I don’t know,” he said gruffly. “But I don’t intend on being around long enough to find out.”

-o-

Concussed and locked in a room with Ezekiel, it was safe to say that Jake was having a bad day.

After ten minutes of scouring the room, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t about to start getting any better.

They were ten valiant minutes, at least. Jake didn’t know anything about being held captive, by aliens or otherwise, and he wasn’t much of an escape artist. But he was smart, capable and determined, which had to count for something.

Just not much apparently.

The room was perfectly sealed. Jake couldn’t detect any gaps in the facade, and there was no sign weakness. The density behind every surfaced seemed exactly the same, and although there was clearly oxygen in the room, there was no evidence of a filtration system.

He kicked and stomped, kicked and punched.

Before finally sinking to the ground, exhausted.

“Even if you could find a way out,” Ezekiel said from his spot across the room. During this time, Ezekiel had made himself useful by doing nothing. However, since he had also chosen not to speak, Jake wasn’t going to start being choosy. “We probably wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.”

“Yeah?” Jake asked, wiping the perspiration of his brow. “Why’s that?”

“Because we’re probably on a spaceship,” Ezekiel said.

Jake stared. It sounded like a joke, but it was painfully not a joke. “Even if we are--”

“We are,” Ezekiel interjected confidently.

“Even if we are,” Jake reiterated, ignoring the pain in his head with all the self control he could muster. “Then why would we want to wait here? We’re fish in a barrell.”

Ezekiel wrinkled his nose. “Is that something people still say?”

“You’re missing the point,” Jake said. “We can’t just sit here and let them get the upper hand.”

“Look around,” Ezekiel said plaintively. “They already have the upper hand.”

“Exactly!” Jake said. “So we can’t just sit here! What if they want to, I don’t know, dissect us?”

Ezekiel looked bothered by that notion. “Why would they want to do that?”

“That’s what happens, isn’t it?” Jake asked. “In the books and stuff.”

“What sort of books are you reading, mate?” Ezekiel asked.

Jake grunted in frustration. “You’re the one convinced that aliens took us up to their spaceship and locked us up in here!”

“Sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to pick us apart,” Ezekiel said. “I mean, you’re assuming first that they don’t have advanced scanning technology to make dissection completely unnecessary and second, that they’re not evolved enough to recognize that dismembering people you don’t know is wrong.”

That was almost sensical.

Jake must have hit his head really hard. “Look, if you can say it’s aliens then I can say they’re going to dissect us, okay?” he snapped. “So what do we do then?”

At first, Jake was glad to see Ezekiel taking the question seriously.

Until he answered.

“Easy,” he said. “I’ll just point out that you’re a much better specimen for dissection. Compact; more meat on the bones.”

Jake glared.

Hard.

Indifferent, Ezekiel shrugged. “It was your idea, not mine.”

Jake growled. “Shut up.”

Ezekiel held up his hands, as if he were innocent. “With pleasure.”

Pleasure, Jake thought to himself.

Aliens, he could handle, sure. A concussion was fine.

But being locked up in a room with Ezekiel?

Might just be the death of him yet.

-o-

Ezekiel and his aliens were annoying, but they were also pretty motivational. With one option being sit and wait for rescue in his current situation, Jake had every reason to keep looking for a way out.

Not that it was overly fruitful.

He’d bruised his knuckles on the walls, and he was currently grinding his fingernails to stubs picking at the floor.

Or trying to.

There was nothing to pick at.

Frustrated, Jake sat back on his heels and breathed hard. His headache had abated a little, settling into a dull but constant ache that kept him on edge.

“They’re probably watching us,” Ezekiel said conversationally as he studied the ceiling. “They must be studying our behavior.”

Jake rolled his shoulders, trying to dispel the tension there and failing.

“You’re not representing us very well, though,” Ezekiel commented. “An exercise in futility.”

Narrowing his gaze angrily, Jake grunted. “Better than you,” he drawled. “Watching you, they’d think the human race will sit back and take whatever they give.”

“Or they might realize that I’m saving my energy for when it matters,” Ezekiel said. “Pragmatism is a survival skill.”

“Uh uh,” Jake said, stretching his overworked fingers. “Laziness is not a virtue.”


“Hey, when they come back, who is going to be too worn out to fight?” Ezekiel said.

Getting to his feet, Jake ignored the throbbing pains in his body. “When was the last time you actually stayed for a fight instead of getting out of it?”

“About the same time you stopped trying to solve problems by charging in with your thick head,” Ezekiel returned.

Jake huffed, trying to gauge the best way to get to the ceiling. “You’re not like this with Cassandra.”

“And neither are you,” Ezekiel shot back, indignant. “I wish she were here.”

“You’d like her to be trapped in an alien spaceship with no way out?” Jake asked pointedly.

Ezekiel shook his head, making a face. “I thought you said it wasn’t aliens.”

“Touche,” Jake said.

“Ugh,” Ezekiel muttered, dropping his head back against the wall. “Aliens would be better than you.”

“Yeah,” Jake said, stepping up on his heels but finding himself still too short. “That’s something I think we can actually agree on.”

As he judged the distance, he looked around the room again. He’d need something to stand on, something to get a leg up.

There was nothing there, though.

No furniture, no ledges.

Just one unhappy thief-turned-Librarian.

Jake looked up at the ceiling again.

He looked at Ezekiel.

“Hey,” he said. “Come here.”

Ezekiel was sulking. “Why?”

“I need your help,” Jake said.

Ezekiel raised his eyebrows. “You? Need my help?”

“Yes, yes,” Jake snapped. “I need your help.”

“Just give me a minute to mentally make a note--”

“Just get over here!” Jake said.

Clamboring to his feet, Ezekiel smirked at him. “For you?” he said, as condescendingly as possible. “Anything.”

-o-

Ezekiel’s helpful attitude lasted about ten seconds.

This was about five seconds longer than Jake actually expected.

“This is a terrible idea,” Ezekiel said, situating himself gingerly on all fours.

“At least it’s an idea,” Jake countered, assessing Ezekiel’s back. It occurred to him now, looking at the uneven surface and Ezekiel’s fidgeting, that it was actually a sort of terrible idea. Not that he was about to admit that.

“Your idea is to use me as a human tabletop,” Ezekiel said.

“Would you rather be the one climbing up to look at the ceiling?” Jake asked sharply.

Ezekiel scoffed melodramatically. “And electrocute myself?”

“My point exactly,” Jake said, lifting one foot experimentally. Ezekiel stiffened, which was actually sort of useful, and Jake shifted his weight to put his other foot up when Ezekiel jerked, nearly sending Jake toppling to the ground.

“Ow!” Ezekiel hissed, craning his neck to glare at Jake. “I have a sprained wrist.”

Head spinning, Jake ground his teeth together. “And I have a concussion.”

“You’re trying to stand on me.”

“And I’m trying to get high off the ground to look at lights,” Jake said. “Do you know the symptoms of a concussion?”

“Then tell me again how this is a good plan?” Ezekiel said.

“Oh, just stand still,” Jake muttered, climbing back on again before Ezekiel could protest further. All snark aside, it was telling that Ezekiel was doing what Jake asked. It wasn’t that Ezekiel couldn’t follow orders; it was that he didn’t like to. The two of them had a tendency to spend more time fighting with each other than fighting together without clear leadership established. That was what had made Peru such a pain in the ass: Jake had been scared to let people down, and Ezekiel had been afraid to let anyone get their hopes up.

As a trio, they could work. As a quartet, they were damn good.

Partners, though?

If they got out of this so-called spaceship, Jake would reassess that as necessary.

“You about done up there?” Ezekiel asked, though he mercifully didn’t look back.

Jake struggled to keep his balance while reaching up. His fingers touched the ceiling, which was just as smooth and unbroken as the rest of the room. The only difference was the lights, which seemed to be embedded behind the surface. Looking closer, he could tell that the surface wasn’t opaque white like he had thought before. Instead, it somewhat translucent -- and thick.

He squinted, doing is best to keep the light from burning his retinas and intensifying his headache. The access point for the power source could be outside but--

It was hot.

The rest of the room was cool to the touch, but the light source produced heat -- and a significant amount.

Running his fingers over the surface more carefully, the pads of his fingers felt a indentations.

It could be porous, which would explain a filtration system. No vents, but the air was cycled through the surface of the material itself. Small openings.

Still openings.

“Stone!” Ezekiel demanded. “Hurry up!”

“Just hang on,” Jake said, trying to stretch himself a little higher. He pressed his fingers into the indentations, trying to push through. “I think I got something….”

Something gave way, and his fingers broke some kind of barrier.

“Stone, if you don’t hurry up--”

It was the right thing to do. With his fingers through, Jake finally had access. He finally had his first opening, the hint of a chance.

It was also the wrong thing to do.

Because a pulse of energy surged through him, burning through his fingers and spreading like wildfire up his arms. He felt it shock his heart into a stuttering beat, seizing in his lungs before electrifying his legs. It sizzled into his skull, ricocheting relentlessly through his brain.

He smelled something burning; he heard Ezekiel call his name.

Then, he was falling.

The irony was not lost on him.

Survived: alien abduction.

Succumbed: electrocution.

And what hurt the most?

That Ezekiel may have been right about everything.

-o-

Voices.

Soft murmurs, all around him. When he opened his eyes, the lights were even brighter than before, but when he tried to turn his head away, he found himself immobilized.

That was...weird.

Blinking a few time, he tried to get his bearings but only succeeded in aggravating his headache. This time, the throbbing extended all the way down his back and he realized, somewhat belated, that he was cold.

There was a buzz and a whir.

The voices murmured in approval.

He was tired but determined, and he squinted as hard as he could, trying to get his tongue to work. “Ezekiel?” he croaked.

The voices pitched and something rubbery brushed against his arm.

That
wasn’t Ezekiel.

He really wished it was. Because, the thing was, it was hard to trust people, but Ezekiel was an honest thief, and Jake didn’t trust much, but he had to trust that. Sometimes -- more than any of them wanted to admit -- Ezekiel did the right thing, even against his own will.

That was the irony. The thief was the most trustworthy of them all. He’d never minced his words when it came to himself. He’d never pretended to be something that he wasn’t. For all the times that he was selfish and lazy, he was true to himself and true to his word.

Jake hated that because he couldn’t say the same about himself.

True, he’d never pick the like of Ezekiel Jones in a pinch.

But given Jake’s life choices so far, it could be fair to say that his judgment was in question.

In a lot of ways, there was no one Jake trusted more.

His vision was hazy, hard to focus, but a dark shape wafted in front of the light.

“Jones?” he asked again, daring to hope.

The shadow neared, too short and too oblong.

Spindly fingers held up something metal.

And sharp.

Jake’s heart skipped a beat.

“Look, if you can say it’s aliens then I can say they’re going to dissect us, okay?” he snapped. “So what do we do then?”

Of all the things to be right about.

Fingers like wax pressed his shoulders down, and Jake shook his head, trying to protest before pain exploded through his body and the light consumed him.

-o-

Light.

The early sun as it came up over the oil fields, long and bright over the flat stretches in Oklahoma. It was beautiful as it broke over the horizon, but by midday it was scorching, burning his skin into leather.


The small lamp he turned on in his bedroom after his old man passed out on the couch. He turned it, tilting it so he could read his books and see the paper as he scrawled another essay for the latest degree he was working on.

The flash of magic, twisting before his eyes, pushing the boundaries of what he thought he knew and what he’d hoped to accomplish. It was a light that captivated, reminding him that it wasn’t too late for him just yet.

Light was warmth.

The sound of Jenkins’ voice as he explained another magical fact in exasperation. The vigor in Flynn’s eyes when adventure called. The steadiness in Eve’s countenance when they faced ever evolving danger. The feel of Cassandra’s skin, pressed against his own with an unexpected hug. The smirk on Ezekiel’s face as he thought of the answers they were all too wrapped up in to even consider.

Light was warmth was whole.

Jake could take himself apart, piece by piece. He could analyze the parts and take apart the meaning. That wouldn’t be it, though. They were all more than the sum of their parts.

The team was more than the sum of its players.

Light was warmth was whole was good.

Jake just hoped when he put it back together that enough of him would survive.

-o-

Then, it was dark.

Jake startled badly, taking in a rattling breath that sent him into a sitting position before he realized what was happening. The throbbing in his head was strangely muted, and everything felt heavy somehow.

The really disconcerting part, however, was that he was naked.

He exhaled sharply before looking up in confusion. The room was dim and it wasn’t one he recognized.

It still looked familiar, somehow.

There were trays with tools, and strange monitors all over the place. One a tabletop, there was an advanced-looking iPad with strange marks scribbled on it.

Over his head were bright lights, currently turned off. And he was sitting on what appeared to be an examination table.

Abducted by aliens.

Dissection.

Jake’s stomach turned and he clamored off the the table, going to his hands and knees as his stomach rebelled. He emptied his stomach, spitting up bile before struggling to make it to his feet again. Bewildered, he looked around.

Feeling frantic, he went to the table, pulling open the drawers and looking for something, anything--

Tools he didn’t recognize.

Electronics he could place.

Then a sheet.

Eagerly, he yanked it out, fashioning it around himself as best he could before tying off the ends for a makeshift robe. It wouldn’t offer much coverage, but it was better than walking around naked.

And it was sure as hell better than staying here.

He didn’t want to know what else they might do to him.

Moving numbly, he made his way to the door, muttering a desperate prayer under his breath. There was no traditional handle, and he floundered for a moment, hitting every button he could find.

Finally, one of them worked and the door swished open so fast that Jake nearly leapt back. His heart was thudding against his ribs as he tried to control his breathing, peeking out tentatively.

It was a long corridor, made of metal and light with the same bright lights as the cell from before. It stretched in both directions with no obvious signage to provide him any further guidance.

More importantly, however, it was empty.

Holding his makeshift robe tightly, Jake eased out into the corridor.

It was time to find Ezekiel.

And get the hell out of here.

-o-

All the corridors looked the same, and worse, Jake felt oddly disconnected from himself. His senses felt dimmed, muffled somehow, and he wasn’t sure if that was a side effect from a sedative or the actual procedure itself.

Really, though, he would have expected it to hurt worse.

For now, it just felt weird.

Stumbling along, it was a trial to keep himself covered while trying to look over his back. But there was no sign of, well, anything, and for a brief second, Jake imagined that he was going to wander in circles for the rest of his life.

The same blank, white walls. The same glaring bright lights.

Again and again and again.

Maybe this was still part of the procedure. For all he knew, this was a test.

Or, really, the worst version of hell.

Gritting his teeth, Jake braced himself on one of the sleek walls, trying to catch his breath and bring his vision back into focus.

Damn it, all he wanted was to find Ezekiel.

Was that so much to ask?

That was the moment that he turned the corner and found exactly what he was looking for.

He stood, stunned, trying to fathom this inexplicable turn of luck. He hadn’t even been navigating in a meaningful way, and he’d been completely disoriented.

And here it was.

The corridor ended abruptly with a door -- the first one Jake had actually seen after the infirmary -- and while there was no reason to assume it was, in fact, a holding cell, Jake knew that it was.

How? Damned if he could say. It could be him being a Librarian. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the bastards had probed him.

For all he knew, he just deserved this break.

Whatever the case, Jake wasn’t about to question it.

He was concussed, naked, disoriented and violated. The damn door looked pretty good right about then.

Moving forward, he hoisted his makeshift gown higher, searching for a knob or handle. Finding nothing, he realized quickly that the door wasn’t as white as the rest of the corridor. Instead, when he got close enough, he saw that it was a little like a one-way mirror. Close enough to look through, the white surface seemed transparent enough to see through, giving Jake a clear view of the inside.

Ezekiel.

The youngest member of the Librarians was sitting inside, head dropped to his knees. He appeared no worse for wear -- thank God -- but his hunched posture suggested that he wasn’t feeling as good about alien abduction as he had before. There would be time for an I-told-you-so later.

Once they both got out.

That was all well and good, assuming that Jake could get them out. Though he could see through the door, he still didn’t know how to open it. Jake was pretty damn good with historical pieces, and he was developing an affinity for unlocking magical mysteries, too, but aliens?

He was out of his depth.

Still, he decided logically, this was a door. There was always a way to open doors.

The white frame around the door blended seamlessly into the rest, but when Jake looked closer, he could see markings on the surface of the door itself. Running his fingers over it, he could feel raised portions and indentations. Symbols, for sure. Writing, possibly. If he had more time, he could probably study the symbols and start to build a rough grasp of the language.

But there wasn’t time.

This damn hallway was getting drafty.

Blowing out a heavy breath, Jake start pushing the buttons, alternating the rhythm and flow as best he could.

Nothing.

He pushed harder, faster. He paused between each one.

Nothing.

It was probably locked. Cells would be locked, wouldn’t they? What if he needed a pass code? Some kind of identification? If he could find an alien and chop off its finger maybe? But how was he going to find an alien much less chop off its finger? And what if it chopped off his head in retaliation?

Jake’s breathing caught, and he could feel the frustration building, mounting to something like fear. He was going to die here.

He was going to die.

It wasn’t supposed to be aliens.

Aliens weren’t even real.

This couldn’t be how it ended.

The determination coalesced in his stomach, thrumming through his body. It lanced through his head, humming with a growing intensity.

He fisted his hands, steadied his gait. Closing his eyes, he dropped his head against the door, praying an invective only he understood.

And, just like that, the door opened.

Standing there, Jake was dumbfounded.

It was open.

How had it opened?

That wasn’t just improbable; it was nearly impossible.

Was it a trap?

Was Jake going completely insane?

“Stone?” Ezekiel asked.

He was sitting up now, looking across the room with his face scrunched up.

Jake let out a breath, a near-hysterical laugh. “Ezekiel.”

On his feet, Ezekiel looked at him uncertainly. “What happened to you?”

Jake glanced down, remembering what he was wearing. “Aliens,” he growled.

Ezekiel paled. “Aliens?”

“Yeah,” Jake said. “Remember how you said dissection wasn’t likely?”

Ezekiel blinked.

“Apparently not,” Jake reported.

Ezekiel’s mouth hung open in obvious shock. “You mean…?”

“Yeah,” Jake said. “So I thought we should leave.”

“But they….”

“Will probably be coming back,” Jake pointed out. “Unless you want to be here when they come back for test subject number two.”

In the year Jake had known him, he’d never seen Ezekiel Jones move quite so fast.

-o-

The rush of adrenaline kept him moving, but it made his head even fuzzier. He kept pace with Ezekiel, but the white corridors looked even more like a maze than before. One after another, Jake focused more of his attention on keeping the sheet over his chest than anything else.

One minute, two minutes.

Five minutes, ten.

Ezekiel leaned close. “So, uh,” he said, voice hushed but urgent. “Do you actually know where we’re going?”

Jake cleared his throat for a moment, turning another corner. “Not a clue, no.”

Ezekiel kept moving, edging around toward an identical pristine hallway. “Shouldn’t we know where we’re going?”

“I know where I’m not going,” Jake said. “Isn’t that good enough?”

“If we walk into a room full of aliens, not so much,” Ezekiel said.

Jake huffed, fisting his fingers into the sheet a little tighter. “They dissected me, man! I’m doing what I can!”

“I’m just saying, we should think about this,” Ezekiel said with surprising clarity.

“Well, I’m thinking about not getting dissected again!”

“Sure, okay, but look,” Ezekiel said, coming to a stop.

Jake moved on several more steps before realizing it. He turned back, vexed.

Look,” Ezekiel said, tapping at the wall where a screen appeared. And not just a screen, but buttons and writing, too.

Jake was thoroughly confused. “That...wasn’t there before,” he commented, tilting his head curiously.

“Well, it’s here now,” Ezekiel said, matter of fact. “It only makes sense that there are interfaces. We just have to find them.”

Jake looked down the length of the hall again, feeling even more perplexed.

“And look,” Ezekiel said, tapping a few buttons. “It’s user-friendly. Man, and just like Star Trek!”

Jake’s eyes widened as Ezekiel brought up what looked like schematics. The shape of the ship was strange, but the network of corridors seemed appropriately like a labyrinth. “Wait,” Jake said, leaning closer to look at it. “This is the ship? How did--”

Ezekiel pressed another button, starting to grin. “Check it out,” he said as another compartment appeared below the panel. Ezekiel bent over, picking up what looked like a gun. “Blasters! Just like Han Solo, only better!”

It was like Han Solo’s gun.

Jake furrowed his brow, wondering if he were, in fact, hallucinating. Because now they had schematics and weapons, whereas two minutes ago, Jake had only had a sheet.

Ezekiel just chuckled. His confidence was both annoying and strangely reassuring all at once.

“Hey, listen to this,” Ezekiel said before something started playing from the speakers -- speakers Jake hadn’t even seen until just then.

The sound, though, it wasn’t what he was expected.

Clicks and scratches, cadenced and patterned.

“Is that--?” Jake started.

“Aliens,” Ezekiel said, looking pretty self-satisfied. “I don’t know what they’re saying, but it definitely sounds like communication. A little like the baby monitors on Signs.”

“Just how many alien movies have you seen?” Jake asked.

“Those are the classics, man,” Ezekiel said. “We should just be relieved they haven’t become outright homicidal like Alien or Predator. But I never bought into that anyway. Sentient species would surely evolve beyond violence.”

“But not beyond dissection?” Jake asked. “Not to mention abduction.”

Ezekiel actually rolled his eyes, as if Jake was the one being unreasonable -- and not the aliens with Star Trek panels and Star Wars blasters and talked like they were in Signs.

That was a hell of a coincidence.

Except…

Jake’s head was starting to ache again, more intense now. The drugs had to be wearing off, which meant his clarity would be returning.

Just in time to realize that he didn’t believe in coincidences.

Not when he worked for a magical library.

“It’s never aliens,” he murmured, thoughtful now. Jenkins had said it; Flynn had concurred.

“Um, this is totally aliens,” Ezekiel said, zooming in on the map.

“No, these aren’t aliens,” he said again, the ideas started to solidify in his mind just beneath the throbbing in his skull.

“Then what would you call them?” Ezekiel asked.

“Amalgamations,” Jake said, inhaling deeper now.

“What?” Ezekiel asked, turning to pin Jake with an incredulous look.

“They’re amalgamations of your ideas about aliens,” Jake said, nodding to himself as his own confidence started to return. “Think about it. It’s combined elements from everything you know about the genre of fiction.”

Ezekiel let out a breath, shaking his head. “Then why did they try to dissect you?”

Jake’s eyes widened. “Because I mentioned dissection.”

“I don’t follow.”

“These aren’t aliens,” Jake said again, more determined this time. “These are our aliens.”

Ezekiel raised his eyebrows. “Um…”

“Okay, look,” Jake said. “Think about another element of the story. Any element you like.”

Though he appeared skeptical, Ezekiel still seemed to be complying.

Until there was a loud thud behind them, and Jake turned, nearly falling over in shock when a massive slug like creature started to writhe.

Because a girl in a skimpy gold bikini was choking him to death.

“Princess Leia? Really?” Jake asked, scrambling backward as the massive tail flailed at him.

Ezekiel was transfixed, smile of wonder on his face. “I’ll be damned.”

“You couldn’t have picked something a little more discreet?” Jake hissed, glancing anxiously down the corridor.

“Who needs discreet?” Ezekiel asked. “This is spectacular.”

Jake glanced. “This?

“It’s not what you think,” Ezekiel said, a little exasperated. “Her ability to get out of a tight spot with literally nothing on her back just impresses me. She’s always been a role model for me in how to handle myself in a tough situation.”

“You wanted to be Leia, and not Han?” Jake asked.

“Hey!” Ezekiel objected. “I could easily be both. Leia’s skill; Han’s swagger. The Rebellion never needed Luke; they just needed me.”

“As overwhelming egotistical as that is,” Jake said. “It proves my point. This whole thing? It’s not real.”

Ezekiel seemed to consider that, even as Jabba the Hutt fell silent and Leia went scampering down the hall. “It’s building the world we give it.”

“Exactly,” Stone said. “It’d have to be a powerful magic.”

“So is this an alternate reality?” Ezekiel asked.

“Or an altered dream state,” Jake suggested. “For all we know, we’re probably right outside the library still.”

“Better still,” Ezekiel said, eyes lighting up. “If we can think things into existence, then all we need to do is think of an exit.”

Jake pointed his finger with a grin, jabbing it at Ezekiel. “That’s right,” he said. “That’s right.

“We can build our own reality,” Ezekiel said.

“And we can build our own way out,” Jake said.

There was a beat. Ezekiel looked down the hallway. “So, uh,” he started. “Did you have any ideas?”

“Oh!” Jake said, feeling his cheeks start to flush. He was off his game. “Um, you first?”

Ezekiel frowned, thinking.

Then, just like that, Jake’s clothes were back.

“Whoa,” Jake said, surprised. “Did you--”

“Yeah, I couldn’t think knowing you were naked under there,” Ezekiel said with a shrug.

Jake might have been annoyed with that, but he was pretty happy to have clothes again.

Now, he could escape without flashing anyone.

But how?

How might he escape?

There had to be a rescue party, naturally.

An epic space battle, probably.

Battle cruisers and a covert shuttle party, using the barrage of conflict--

The ship rocked, an explosion sounding. Jake braced himself on the wall.

“Whoa!” Ezekiel said. “Is that--”

Another explosion rocked the ship and Jake winced. “Yeah,” he said.

“You thought about a massive space battle?” Ezekiel asked. “That was your out?”

Sparks flew and the lights flickered. “It was better than Princess Leia!”

“Ugh,” Ezekiel said, glaring as gas hissed out of a vent that hadn’t existed two minutes ago. “But how is this helping us exactly?”

“Well, this is what happens in space rescues,” Jake said, lifting his voice over the sound of an alarm. “Isn’t it?”

“Sure, but you’re thinking inside the box, mate,” Ezekiel said. “We picked the genre. We can change the genre.”

Ezekiel closed his eyes, just for a second.

The ship shimmied around them, the smell of smoke starting to burn in their lungs.

“Uh, Jones,” Stone said, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice. “Any second here--”

Ezekiel opened his eyes, grinning.

Then, he pushed a button and another panel opened.

And there, looking more beautiful than Jake had ever seen before, were stairs.

-o-

There was no way it should have worked.

Stairs.

Out of a spaceship.

Back to reality?

Should not have worked.

But twenty steps later, and the spaceship was gone and Jake was standing, shoulder to shoulder with Ezekiel, on the lawn right outside the Library.

Sun shining, birds chirping.

As if they had never left.

Jake laughed. “You did it.”

Ezekiel pursed his lips proudly. “Naturally,” he said. “I am a genius, after all.”

Jake’s smile faded a little.

Ezekiel let his shoulders fall, just a bit. “But I only did it after you figured out the magic,” he added with an air that almost sounded like modesty.

Jake gave a nod of satisfaction. “We did it.”

Not the team, not magic, not the Library.

Them, Jake Stone and Ezekiel Jones.

Partners not by choice, but chance.

And maybe it wasn’t as bad as Jake might have thought.

“But, um,” Ezekiel said. “What did we do exactly?”

Jake slapped him on the shoulder. “Honestly,” he said. “I have no idea.”

-o-

“Are we sure it couldn’t have possibly been aliens?” Ezekiel asked.

They had made their way back inside. It had taken a little bit of time to explain what had happened to Eve and Cassandra, and it wasn’t until Jenkins had showed up and said that it made perfect sense that they made any progress at all.

Apparently, it was hard to believe that anyone could get not-abducted by not-aliens right outside the library within the fifteen minutes they had been gone.

“I’ve told you, Mr. Jones,” Jenkins said, flipping through a book. “It’s never aliens.”

Ezekiel slumped miserably.

Jake hissed while Eve probed the knot on the back of his head. “Then what was it?” Eve asked with a sympathetic look. “Stone here definitely has a concussion.”

“And who knows what else,” Ezekiel said. “He was dissected.”

Cassandra made a face.

Eve glanced him over. “No offense, but I don’t think I’m checking for that.”

Jake glared, jerking his head away from her touch. “I only think I was dissected,” he said. “But I don’t think it left any kind of damage.”

“And what you think is all that matters,” Jenkins said, carrying a book over.

“How’s that?” Eve asked.

Jenkins laid the book down, pointing at a picture. “The fictionals,” he said. “It takes a strong power to bring them to life.”

“I think we remember,” Cassandra mused.

“Yes, well,” Jenkins said. “We don’t always understand the residue of magic. When you’re pulling that kind of energy, it’s going to leave tracks.”

“Like a chemical reaction,” Cassandra said.

“Um, what?” Ezekiel asked.

Jenkins sighed. “It’s excess,” he said.

“Like manufacturing waste,” Jake thought.

“A crude analogy, but apt,” Jenkins said. “There are bound to be leftover pockets of energy from the fictionals when they were here, mostly undetectable unless you walk into one.”

“You think?” Ezekiel asked.

“That’s why it was creating a story,” Jake said. “Creating the elements from our own ideas.”

“But it caused real damage,” Eve pointed out.

“Just like the fictionals,” Jenkins agreed. “In our world, they operate within our rules. In theirs, you operate under theirs.”

“So can we contain it?” Eve asked, ever pressing to the point.

“Once we know what to scan for, sure,” Cassandra said. “I mean, just judging from what we know of the fictionals. The energy is all around us; we just have to tune something to find it.”

“Something?” Ezekiel asked.

“A radio,” Jenkins said with a small shrug.

“Right,” Cassandra agreed. “And then we can simply identify its energy pattern and find the appropriate power surge to neutralize it.”

“What if there are more of them?” Jake asked, rubbing absently at the lump under his hair.

Cassandra shrugged. “Shouldn’t be hard to find, once we know what to look for.”

Eve looked thoughtful. “The fictionals will leave these behind wherever they go?”

“In theory, I suppose,” Jenkins said.

“So can we scan other places for this?” Eve asked.

Jake sat up a little straighter. “We can use it to find where they are.”

“It could work,” Jenkins said. “As long as they’re not lying too low.”

“We could fine tune the technology,” Cassandra suggested. “With my calculations and Ezekiel’s technical skills…”

Eve beamed. “We could have a bonafide fictional tracker.”

“Which means all this?” Jake said, motioning to himself. “Wasn’t for nothing.”

At this point, Jake was feeling better about things. They all were.

They were alive, after all, and mostly in one piece. They had a way to neutralize the energy pocket so it wouldn’t affect anyone else. On top of that, they had a way to check for fictional activity, thus giving them an edge in the coming conflict.

All things considered, they had had worse days.

So they all had good reason to be content.

Except Ezekiel.

He sighed, more melodramatic than ever. “It should have been aliens,” he muttered dejectedly.

“Ah, Mr. Jones,” Jenkins said. “You are, if nothing else, consistent.”

“And ridiculous all at the same time,” Eve said. She smiled at Jake. “I’m glad you’re okay, though.”

Cassandra leaned closer to them. “For what it’s worth,” she whispered in a conspiratorial tone. “I still think it’s possible that someday it will be aliens.”

When they were alone, Jake let out his own sigh, rolling his shoulders in an attempt to alleviate the tension still sitting there. He loved this job, no doubt. That didn’t mean it wasn’t without its stresses.

Aliens or not. “You know,” he ventured. “We were good back there.”

“You mean when you were getting yourself electrocuted? Or the part when you were literally wearing a sheet down a hallway?” Ezekiel asked.

Jake narrowed his gaze but refused to let himself get annoyed. “How about the part where I came back to save your ass?” he said. “After I had been dissected.”

There was no quick quip to that. “You know, for the record, I did try to come after you,” Ezekiel said, squaring his shoulders somewhat.

Jake lifted his eyebrows.

Ezekiel shrugged. “I asked them to let me come with you,” he said. “I mean, when you disappeared, I thought--”

He stopped, voice wavering, just a little.

Just enough.

Teammates wasn’t easy for any of them.

It didn’t come naturally, but that didn’t make it bad. If anything, that made it stronger. Because it was a choice they made, every single time.

It was a commitment they made.

“You know,” Ezekiel said. “I think maybe we’re missing the point?”

“You mean that it’s never aliens?” Jake asked.

“No,” Ezekiel said with a long suffering sigh. “That we’re actually a sort of good team.”

Jake nodded, trying not to smile. “Yeah,” he agreed slowly. “Maybe.”

Ezekiel grinned back unabashedly. “Yeah. Maybe.”

“Listen,” Jake said. “If we ever get abducted by aliens again, you’re the person I want with me.”

“Same here,” Ezekiel replied.

“Not that it’s ever aliens, though,” Jake added snidely.

Ezekiel did not laugh. “It could be. Cassandra thinks so.”

“Jenkins doesn’t,” Jake said.

“And here, I thought we were getting along so well,” Ezekiel said.

Jake chuckled as he started toward the door. “Tell you what,” he offered. “Next time, if it is aliens? I’ll let them dissect you first.”

“Ha ha,” Ezekiel said, crossing his arms over his chest. “You’re not funny.”

Jake squeezed his shoulder on his way out after the rest. “Good,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be.”

Because aliens?

Weren’t a laughing matter.

Neither was teamwork.

And, by now, Jake knew a little bit more about both.

Comments

Posted by: honor_reid (honor_reid)
Posted at: December 29th, 2015 06:03 am (UTC)
The Librarians

This was awesome. Poor Jake that he had to deal with Ezekiel and a concussion! Just kidding. I love their dynamic on the show and you showed it perfectly here.

I also loved that it was Jake and Ezekiel stuck together. They are definitely the odd couple of the group. They don't get along naturally but they can when they have to. They both felt in character and their interactions were perfect.

I actually felt a little badly for Ezekiel that it wasn't aliens. :D

Very interesting story. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 19th, 2016 02:39 am (UTC)
Librarians Jake Smile

I love character pairings where the friction eventually gives way to fondness, even if neither party wants to admit it. That's very much a thing I see for Ezekiel and Jake, and it makes for fun fic fodder. Thanks!

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