Summary: A collection of random scenes from Rodney McKay's undergraduate work at Miskatonic University.
I'm looking for suggestions for various subjects you'd like to see scenes of Rodney tackling, putting up with, struggling through, or somehow succeeding at, drop a note and I'll see what I can do with it.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Wherein the anthropology department proves its powers of observation.
Rodney McKay was well into his sophomore year at Miskatonic University in Arkham before he realized that half the archeology department routinely stared at him.
It all started during a general education class, Anthropology 101, taught by some old guy, Professor Randall. It was widely believed that the Dean had threatened to take Randall's old musty books away if he didn't teach that year; the way Randall waxed poetic about the contents of those old musty books certainly didn't help dispel the belief.
Professor Randall had gone down the list of all 75 students, pronounced all of their names painstakingly, and stared at the room intently to match name to face. When he got to "McKay, Meredith" he glared around probably looking for some pretty girl to match the name when a rather male voice sighed, raised a hand, and admitted to being there. Randall looked, blinked, accepted it with a grunt, and began to move on with "Mitchell, James" but only got to "Mitch--" before realizing. He looked back up at Rodney and stared.
"Is something wrong?" Rodney asked. "I know 'Meredith' is a girl's name, I prefer to go by 'Rodney' if you don't mind."
"Nothing's wrong," Randall said unconvincingly before going on to "Mitchell, James".
After that first day of winter quarter sophomore year Rodney began noticing things more. The whispers behind his back, always before commenting on his age or his genius now began commenting on his family. "Marsh family eyes" was a commonly overheard term, a term Rodney understood all too well.
He knew he had his grandmother's eyes. And he knew why.
It took a certain amount of recklessness to do what he did about it. And an amount of pot. With no small amount of nervousness and no large amount of munchies he stayed after class one day near the end of the term. He waited until legitimate questions were answered before stepping forward.
"Did you have a question, Meredith?" Randall asked.
Rodney scowled at the use of his real name but didn't bother correcting the man, the old professors never called him Rodney no matter how much he asked or demanded. "I do, yes," he said. "But I'd rather ask it elsewhere. It's not about the lecture."
"The reading then? I heard you were a physics student, you must not be used to the type of reading I've assigned."
"It's nothing about the class, the subject, or the material," Rodney said, getting annoyed. "I notice you stare at me a great deal, Sir."
Professor Randall was taken aback by that question and suddenly looked less comfortable with the situation. "You, ah, have a distinct family appearance," he said nervously. "It's very..." He trailed off.
Rodney's annoyance grew. "I know I have the 'Marsh family eyes' as they're called," he challenged. "I know what that means. What I don't know is why you have to call attention to it by staring."
"You-you know what it means?" Randall whispered.
"Of course," Rodney said, crossing his arms and giving the professor a challenging glare. "Which is why we will be taking this conversation elsewhere."
"Yes, yes we will," Randall agreed. He quickly finished gathering his notes and hurried from the lecture hall, clearly expecting Rodney to follow.
In his office he motioned for Rodney to sit. Coffee was offered and accepted before Randall stopped puttering under the unnerving gaze of his student. Professor Randall chose a seat far from Rodney and in such a position as to keep the table between them at all times, a direct result of the disturbing way Rodney had learned to steeple his hands in front of him in such a way as to emphasize the slight webbing between the fingers.
"So?" Rodney said to begin the conversation again.
"You know what it means," Randall whispered.
"Of course I know what it means," Rodney snapped. "Lovecraft made sure of that when he wrote his histories of the area. Because that's what they are, aren't they? Histories with maybe a few names changed to protect the faceless masses. Arkham is still Arkham, Dunwich is still Dunwich, Innsmouth is still Innsmouth. They're just marketed as horror fiction. Why?"
"To warn people," Randall whispered. "They were written as warnings, as ways of telling people the truth. They're mostly true."
"Fat lot of good that did," Rodney snorted.
"Yes well what would you have done? The world around you falling apart at the seams from forces beyond human control, monsters popping up out of the woodwork, the stars were almost right back then, Meredith. It was a very different time."
"What and things have changed in the past sixty years? There are still standing stones above Dunwich, fish are still thick off of Innsmouth Harbor if you know their song, Yog-Sothoth is still the gate, and Great Cthulhu still dreams to those willing to listen. What makes these times so different from then?"
Professor Randall shuddered and sighed. He sipped his coffee as he tried to come up with an answer for his student's questions, an answer that wouldn't sound like an accusation.
Rodney sat back in his chair and sipped his own coffee before answering his own questions aloud. "The standing stones above Dunwich have been studied by the University for sixty years and thus their energies are changing subtly," he murmured. "The hybrids of Y'ha-nith-lei are no longer collected in one town to take to the water quietly in peace, now they're scattered all over the map to spread their taint wide and far. Yog-Sothoth is still the gate. Great Cthulhu dreams for those who are willing to listen but finds them unable to hear. Battles have been won, battles have been lost. Differences have been made but in the end they average out to the same."
"I see what you mean," Randall admitted.
With nervousness taken care of the munchies blossomed to full-force. Rodney reached into his backpack and pulled out a sandwich.
"So what are your plans?" Dr. Randall asked.
"Wha' do you mean?" Rodney asked around a mouthful of tuna and bread.
"If the rumors around the admissions office are true, your father is dead. And everyone knows that no one of the Marsh family survived the raids. Yet here you are with the telltale marks, showing the Innsmouth Look. What are your plans?"
Rodney swallowed heavily, washing it down with coffee. "I'm not sure yet," he admitted. "I'd like a Nobel prize but that'll take time. At least until my PhD."
Randall looked slightly confused. "So... you don't have plans to sink the continents beneath the ocean once the stars go right?"
"I'm sure once I've Changed my plans will change as well but until then I don't really feel I should have to have anything to do with Great Cthulhu or even the Father and Mother."
Dr. Randall collapsed back into his chair with a vast sigh of relief while Rodney inhaled his sandwich and watched, confused.
Rodney finished his sandwich and sipped coffee as Dr. Randall continued looking like he'd just been told the world wasn't ending. "Am I missing something?" he finally asked.
"The Marsh family patriarch isn't planning to take over New England," Randall said happily.
"Okay, so what does that have to do with me?" Rodney asked. "Last I checked my dad had that title and then he died..." He trailed off. "I see," he said.
"So you see, yes, so you see," Randall agreed. "You have to admit I have a certain personal investment in not seeing the Deep Ones sinking this particular area of continent under the ocean."
"Well, you know, those things take time. And Chesapeake Bay is evidence that we're not entirely failing."
It was a soft science at best, a construct of temporary importance destined to fail the moment humanity ceased to matter in the scale of things. It was boring and musty and its temporary nature made it very difficult for a hybrid to take it seriously. It represented the puny human lifetime at the beginning before transcendence onto bigger and better things, much in the way that a general education requirement was quickly passed through, transcended, then forgotten.
Still, if Rodney McKay was going to succeed at gaining that Nobel he was going to have to stick around for more than just a fleeting moment. He would have to stay long enough to be recognized for the genius he was, something that only rarely happened in due time.
Maybe he'd need some of this knowledge. Maybe learning about the humans he'd have to disguise himself as wasn't the worst of ideas.
Chapter End Notes:
I don't know how many of these there'll be. Despite this being a pre-Atlantis story this is a somewhat open-ended set of circumstances, so much so that I may open this story to other authors.