Title: Not Silver or Gold
Word Count: 945
Summary: Something very important is locked in a box.
“Vala, I said don’t touch anything!”
Caught, Vala slowly withdrew her hand from its intended path towards the last Ancient device Daniel had set aside. “I can’t do anything with it,” she reminded him, pointedly. “Touching can’t hurt.”
“Oh, yes it can,” drawled Colonel John Sheppard, from his position in the strange metal chair sitting among the ruins. It was more like a lounge, really, although the way it tilted all the way back meant the blood was rushing to Sheppard’s head. He’d been a lot nicer before his face had flushed pink from the angle. Now he was almost as cranky as Daniel, and had even shoved her off her perch on his lap. Everyone had become grouchy: Daniel was being his usual touchy self, the colonel probably had a headache, and the loud little man screaming into their radios was still very pissed off about accidentally being locked in some kind of man-sized Ancient box.
“Here,” Daniel said, ripping off his earpiece and then rubbing his ear like it was ringing. “This you can touch. Actually help us, okay?”
“I’m always helpful,” Vala retorted, because she was.
“Let me know if he says anything important,” Daniel said. “Like if he starts running out of oxygen.”
Vala took the earpiece and fitted it on, then immediately ripped it off when Rodney McKay’s voice bellowed, “Well, I’m glad you’re so concerned that I might suffocate to death! Would you stop messing around and get me the hell out of here!”
She held the earpiece next to her cheek, near her mouth and far from her actual ear. “He’s mad,” she reported.
“We’re working as fast as we can,” Sheppard murmured. “We don’t even know what that thing is, Rodney.”
“He says you don’t know because he’s the one in the box,” Vala said, although man on the radio had screamed quite a bit more than that. “I think he wants to switch places.”
“I said tell us if it’s anything important,” Daniel snapped. “Otherwise shut up.”
“He says shut up,” Vala told Rodney, and then held the earpiece far away as the man started yelling some more.
“Would you not provoke him,” Sheppard pleaded. “Do you know how long he’s going to make me pay for this?”
“Well,” Vala said, reasonably, “Maybe you shouldn’t have locked him in a box ?”
“I didn’t,” Sheppard hissed.
“You’re the only one with gene,” Vala said, echoing Rodney, who decided it needed to be said several more times after that. “Rodney didn’t lock himself in the box, I don’t have the gene. Neither does Daniel. But if he did, I think I’d be the one in the box.”
“Yep,” said Daniel, briefly looking up from translating the Ancient glyphs on the box containing Rodney.
Shortly after that, Vala was exiled to the periphery of the site, far enough that she couldn’t hear Daniel and Sheppard’s conversation but close enough that she and Daniel weren’t going to pass out from the distance.
“He sent me away,” She told Rodney.
“Good,” he retorted. “You’re useless. Tell them to go get Zelenka before I die in here. He’s not a complete moron.”
“They said Dr. Weir doesn’t want anyone else coming down here,” Vala said. “Because you ended up locked in a box and we don’t know why.”
She dropped the earpiece to the dirt, and she could still hear the howl of indignation. Vala watched Sheppard shift unhappily in place on the chair, while Daniel curiously rearranged the sliding glyphs on the box. She gave them ten minutes alone, since Daniel had been really quite rough when he marched her away. When her ten minutes were up, she rose from the rock she’d been sitting on and headed right back to them.
“Maybe you aren’t thinking hard enough,” she said, coming up besides Sheppard.
“Yeah, I am,” he snapped. “I am thinking “Rodney out of the box” as hard as I can. I think this fucked up Control Chair is broken.”
“Maybe you don’t want him out of the box,” she said.
“Normally,” Sheppard grunted, “You wouldn’t be far off. But I’m coming to agree with Dr. Jackson that if one of us deserves to be locked in an Ancient puzzle box, it’s not actually Rodney. There’s a first time for everything.”
“We can all take turns locked in the puzzle box,” Vala assured him. “But you have to let Rodney out, first.”
Sheppard made a face and didn’t reply, so she moved smoothly on to Daniel.
“He wants to say something to you,” she lied, holding out the earpiece.
Sighing, Daniel sat back on his haunches and reached out for it.
“Dr. McKay,” he began, and was, unsurprisingly, immediately cut off by the diatribe Vala could hear almost as clearly as if the speaker weren’t locked in a box.
While Daniel was trying to interrupt Rodney, Vala dropped to her knees besides the box.
“Vala,” Sheppard said, warningly, but he wasn’t going to get out of the chair, so she ignored him.
She clucked her tongue against the top of her mouth, and started sliding the movable glyph tiles around the box lid. In a few short seconds, there was a loud metallic click, and the lid lifted easily up and swung down the side.
“Aaagh!” A red-faced Rodney McKay scrambled out, unfolding himself from the hunched position he’d be trapped in. He landed in a tumble on the ground, and frantically crawled away from his former prison.
“Rodney!” Sheppard said, and jumped out of the chair.
Daniel stared. He looked at Vala. “How did you do that?” he asked.
“I pretended he was treasure,” Vala said, and smiled.
~Please feed the author~