|Despite What You Think
Author: sarahofearth PM
John and Jane adopt their former bait, a Mr. Benjamin Dantz. None of the company are particularly happy with the situation. What adventures will befall our new family? Please R&R!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Chapters: 9 - Words: 29,412 - Reviews: 46 - Favs: 43 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 09-22-07 - Published: 06-03-07 - id: 3573320
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Okay, sorry for the lengthy wait. I tried to write this sooner but A LOT of things have been preventing me.
Thank you so much for the reviews, people. I want to personally thank chozina, Jade St. James, and save changes to normal for their continuous support. Don't worry, new reviewers like butterfly affect and Lylana played a big part in the update too. I'm so grateful for your guys' wonderful comments. They mean a lot to me. Thanks a million!
Disclaimer: 16, obsessed with the film, and writing fanfiction about it- Yep, definitely not the owner.
Ben sighed tiredly, plopping his weighty backpack onto the regal couch as he entered the formal living room. Eddie walked in after him, removing his sunglasses and making a beeline to the fridge in the kitchen. It had been one day after Jane's release from the hospital and the two-ton jar of drugs she'd taken post-surgery had almost worn off, but, unfortunately, it hadn't worn off enough to drive anywhere, forcing Ben to ride to and from school with the guy currently stuffing himself full with leftover Thai.
"So, who was that girl that you were staring at?" Eddie said, quirking a knowing eyebrow. He was seated in one of the sleek black barstools lining the island counter. Three opened boxes of Thai were messily strewn in front of him already, one of which he was currently picking out of with a fork.
Ben just gave a miserable look to the man that anybody (except Eddie) would instantly read as: "Why on God's green earth am I stuck having you ask me about my personal life?" But instead of voicing the sullen thoughts, Ben collapsed into one of the couches.
"She's just a girl I like." He grimaced at how high school (no pun intended) that sounded. He was 21 for goodness' sake. Was it even legal for him to be crushing on the 17 year old?
"Huh," Eddie replied simply. Ben resisted the urge to stick out his tongue in disgust as he heard the tell-tale sounds of slurping from Eddie's end. It was brutally apparent he'd found the pad Thai. "Yeah, she was pretty hot."
Ben burrowed his head deep into one of the couch's pillows, turning red. It smelt like Febreeze and Ben refrained from holding the scent in his nose until he was suffocated to death. He let go.
"Yeah, she's 'pretty hot,'" Ben agreed sarcastically. Kate was gorgeous. Stunning was the word Ben had chosen though.
"Why don't you ask her to go out with you?" Eddie asked, popping a piece of cold chicken into his mouth.
"She's already dating Chad Freemont, that's why." Ben said sordidly. He didn't like Chad. He was a spoil-brat rich kid. He had no jock title, no smarts, nothing- Except for loads of cash. The dude could charm too, Ben would give Chad that. The man's freakish good looks easily wrapped anyone around his finger. The school was under his beckon call, so it was only expected the hottest girl would be his arm candy.
"That'd never stop me." Eddie said with a reminiscing smile. Ben rolled his eyes and suddenly spotted John coming down the stairs, wearing a weary look. He had taken time off work since bedridden, drug-filled Jane was abnormally clingy and constantly wanted John near her. Ben felt sorry for the guy, but that sympathy quickly turned into terror as John spotted Ben on the couch.
"Good, you're home." The young man suppressed a groan. That comment only meant one thing: "Jane errands." And boy, were there a lot of them. Jane always needed something. Mostly things that Ben would tirelessly labor to get only to be forgotten after one minute on Jane's bedside. It didn't matter if Jane asked for a jar of dog food or a ladybug-shaped umbrella. Whatever drug-induced request, John made him go down to the store and pick it up. "Jane needs a-"
"Let me guess, a vat of boiling oil or… Cocaine, perhaps?" Eddie mocked. He knew of Jane's odd needs and made it a point not to be there for the assigning.
"Ha, ha," John fake-laughed. God, John thought scowling, he got that from Benjamin. Sarcastic little… "Her drugs are wearing off so there will be no more demands for pomegranate-flavored pudding."
Ben sighed in relief. That pudding took forever to make, and Jane ended throwing it against the wall anyway.
"But speaking of drugs, I need you, Eddie, to pick up her prescription. It's nothing strong-Just some weak antibiotics." John added hastily, turning to the hostile-faced Ben. The young man's blood pressure lowered significantly.
"Oh, sorry, Johnny. No can do. I've got to pick up Ma from the tennis club. But good luck with, Jane. Glad she's feeling better. Tell her I said hi." Eddie hurriedly walked towards the door with the box of Thai and left with one last farewell.
The door shut with a snap and John sighed audibly.
"Sometimes I think he only hangs around for the food." John mumbled. "Fine, I guess I'll do-"
"John! Where are you?" Jane cried from upstairs.
Ben turned to look at the ceiling where her room was and then to John whose eyes were closed and jaw was clenched.
"She was asleep." He grounded out frustrated. "I need to get your prescription, sweetheart." He called back.
"Noo, John, come up here." Jane whined.
John made a gesture as if to signal wringing her neck and turned to Ben.
"Looks like you're getting the prescription then."
Ben's eyebrows knitted together.
"But I just got home. I'm tired." It came out whiny and childish, but it was true. Surprisingly, John only saw it as childish and whiny.
"Benjamin," John began in a scarily calm voice and a level look to the younger man. "Do you know what I've had to deal with all day? Jane. That's what. Now, I can be forced to deal with Jane's whining. She's sick. I get it. But you are not sick. You can, in fact, be injured. Something I'm very willing to do if you don't get the money out of my wallet and fill. Jane's. Prescription."
Ben had instinctively backed way to the farthest part of the couch.
"Where's your wallet?" Ben peeped.
John smirked; that was one of the first times threatening Ben had actually worked. He tried not to sound too triumphant as he said, "Coffee table."
"Can I take the car?" Ben asked hopefully. He had asked that a total of three times since living with John and Jane and the answer had always been the same from both:
"No." John responded simply, climbing up the stairs.
"Please, John, I don't want to walk all the way to the store. I'm so tired." Ben whined again, following the man up the stairs.
"From doing what?" John asked, turning. "Playing chess?"
"Ouch. Low blow. I just had a hard day at school. C'mon, you gotta let me take the car someday."
"Well, it's not someday, it's Tuesday, and you have to walk," John said. The conversation was over as John walked into Jane's room cautiously.
The young man threw his hands up in frustration. Why wouldn't John let him take the car? The trip would take twenty minutes less than if he walked there! He was twenty-one; he knew how to drive! Ben fell against the nearest wall and banged his head on it a couple times.
"So. Tired." He stopped mid-bang when the clever idea of simply taking the keys and driving off invaded his mind. John wouldn't even do it.The sinful conscience told him. No, he'll throttle you if you do!Do you want to go back to the hospital? Just walk! The cowardly conscience squeaked.
In the end, Ben sighed heavily for the second time that day and grudgingly made his way down the stairs with doing the "good act" in his mind. John's wallet was on the coffee table and the keys sat looking tempting a few inches away from it. Ben kept his eyes trailed on the set of keys as he picked up the wallet and absent-mindedly took out some money.
Something familiar caught his eye though as he grabbed a twenty. Ben flipped over one of the gorgeous pictures of Jane at some fancy restaurant and revealed a picture Jane had taken of him with his chess trophy. Ben's mouth fell open a little. What the…? Ben stared at curiously. The sight of Ben's picture inside John's wallet was definitely throwing him for a loop. Had John put this in here on purpose? It was scary to think that John had been listening to him at that moment in the waiting room. Most of the time, Ben talked just to talk. He wasn't used to people caring about what he had to say. The self-proclaimed cheesy picture was proof that John did though.
Ben looked up from the picture to get his head on straighter. It's just a picture. He told himself. …Still, something about it was beautifully touching. It meant more than just "Check it out. This kid I know won a chess trophy." Ben couldn't quite put his finger on it, but knowing John had done this warmhearted deed made walking the thirty minutes to the Walgreens a whole lot easier…
Ben walked through the front door and up the stairs. He slowed his pace when he arrived at John and Jane's door and knocked.
"Come in," he heard John call.
Ben opened the door and was greeted by the sight of Jane and John reading books in bed. John was fully clothed but Jane still wore the nightgown from the morning. She looked healthier and her arm was wrapped comfortably in the bandage provided by the hospital.
The two looked up from their reading and Ben handed Jane the bag of medicine.
"I'm so tired of medicine." She said, staring at the orange pill bottle she unwrapped from the paper bag.
"Me too," John and Ben said simultaneously. They, of course, were referring to Jane's druggie phase but the woman popping another pill didn't read into the comment.
Ben scratched his unruly mop of hair, looking around the lavishly furnished room he'd largely ignored compared to the rest of the house. One thing that especially attracted his attention was the window seat that overlooked their large backyard along with the rest of the neighborhood. The sun streamed lightly through the white curtains making it look inviting to any and all.
Ben stepped closer to into the midday sunlight that drifted through its window, stuffing his hands into his hoodie's pockets. That's when he felt the slip of paper. The moment he pulled out the green slip he instantly recognized it as the memorandum Ms. Briggs handed out for the Open House Night. Ben gulped. Attendance was usually required so how were they going to get out of this one?
Ben unfolded the paper and cleared his throat, causing John and Jane to look up from their books.
"Uh, do you guys want to look at this?" he asked, walking over to hand the slip to them.
"Did you get in trouble?" John asked, wondering if Ben was actually capable of getting into a fight at school. He looked down at the paper and read the memo in two seconds flat before handing it to Jane who read it equally prompt.
"What do you want to do?" she asked, looking up at her husband.
John saved the page of his book.
"Well, it's tomorrow and I'd already decided to postpone the assassination for two more days." John shrugged but Ben's eyes bugged out at the word. "How about you? Are you feeling up to it?"
"Anything that gets me out of this bed is a welcome," Jane said, stretching a little to relieve her relaxed muscles. "Not only that, it'll give us a chance to strengthen Ben's questionable absence from school yesterday." She said pointedly, raising an eyebrow at the dark-haired boy.
"Hey, he said I could," Ben said innocently from the window seat he had finally settled himself into.
John tossed a pillow at Ben's head, missing by an inch.
"Traitor." John accused while Ben only smirked in reply. John's eyes flickered with an urge to tackle the boy.
"Don't start," Jane warned her husband firmly. She was starting to realize these "light banters" between the two always ended with an imminent injury to Ben's face-And sporting a double-shiner to the Open House didn't fall in the category of normal."Benjamin, go find something to wear to it. Yes, you have to wear a tie." She added rapidly when she saw Ben's mouth forming into the shape of a whine.
The young man kicked at the pillow thrown at him in protest and walked stingily out the door.
A smile tugged at both of the agents' faces as they went back to reading.
Ben opened the door for Jane leading into the familiar high school classroom hall. John stepped in after her and studied the students and their parents milled to and fro from each room. Voices and corny music drifted throughout, and Ben loosened his tie an inch to better search the place.
"My classroom's this way," Ben said, already walking ahead of John and Jane. The two agents glanced at each other, wondering what the rush was but nonetheless following the young man down the hall and into one of the classrooms.
The room was large with the customary desk facing towards the teacher's chalkboard where a tall black man stood talking to a smiling pair of parents.
"Probably lying to them, no doubt." John whispered to Jane who nodded as they continued to cynically study the three. The satisfied parents finished their discussion shortly after and the Smiths took it as their cue to act interested about their child's classroom habits. They walked up to the teacher, leaving Ben who mumbled something about the bathroom, and introduced themselves. Mr. Boone's face seemed to fall at Ben's name.
"Oh, you're his parents?" the teacher started. John and Jane didn't think this would end well -for Ben that is.
Ben threw the paper towel into the trashcan, not wanting to be around for the big revealing of his sleeping in class. What? He'd already been through high school once; why not catch up on his resting the second time through? Ben fixed his hair a little in the mirror, feeling confident that if he were to run into Kate he'd charm her to be his in two seconds flat.
Ben haughtily walked out the bathroom door to be met with the sight of Kate, his long red-haired and dazzling green-eyed beauty, making out with her boyfriend: Chad Freemont.Had he been saying his name, Ben would've spat it on the floor and rubbed his Converse in it. He absolutely hated the guy and to see him attacking her mouth like that. Ben felt a quiver of adrenaline pulse throughout his frame at the thought of punching the guy.
"H-Hey, Kate." Ben heard someone say. Only until they broke apart kissing and stared confusedly at him did he realize had said it. Stupid. Stupid.
"Problem, Smith?" Chad said, his big blue eyes flashing with anger at the unwelcome interruption.
"No, I just-Well-Heh, heh…" Kate's deepening lines on her forehead were doing nothing to calm his nerves. Ugh, he was back in high school again, literally!
"C'mon, Kate, let's go to the classroom. My step mom will be out of the bathroom soon and I'm not done with our little session here." The two smiled lovingly to each other, hands intertwined playfully. "Um, take it easy there, Smith." Chad said as an afterthought, nodding towards the still dumbstruck and awkward Ben. The couple walked off, hand-in-hand, and Kate was no still closer to Ben's side than JLo was.
The young man sighed, realizing for the utter billionth time in his life, he'd failed. Backing up into the wall to bang his head against, he hadn't noticed the woman walking past behind him. He collided with her, sending the cell phone she was punching into clattering to the floor. Ben turned around confusedly.
"What the heck?" the two said simultaneously. The chorus caused them to look up at each other, and what Ben saw, he would never forget. The woman was none other than Natalie Dantz- his own mother!
"M-m-" Ben couldn't form the word. It was almost foreign on his lips. He'd only used it when Jane and he were out in the supermarket but now the word seemed so odd.
"Ben?!" She certainly didn't have any problems with blurting his name out. Her mouth fell open momentarily, eyes identical to his own widening. "Where have you been? Oh my god."
She wrapped her boy in her arms and Ben got a mouthful of the familiar bush of red hair.
"Hi, Mom," he all but coughed out. His mother was squeezing his thin frame suffocatingly tight. She let go of him, eyes shining as she looked up at him with a small smile on her face.
"I can't believe I'm looking at you. I thought I'd never see you again. When they said you were finally adopted, I was amazed; I-"
"Wait-Wait a second, you knew I was at the center?" This was news to him. His agency had told him they were unable to locate his parents. He knew it was a lie so his involvement in their missions would be kept a secret, but the fact that they actually had gotten in contact with his parents greatly surprised him. "But then, why didn't you- Why didn't you try to get me out of there?"
Ben's eyes searched his mother's. She seemed to be struggling to break it to her son how her life had transformed in the two years he had been gone.
"I have a question for you, first," she countered. Ben looked quizzical and hurt at the notion. "Why didn't you tell me you were part of some secret agency?" she said the last part just above a whisper, forcing Ben to lean forward to hear.
Crap. He was supposed to be under cover. That plan was obviously down the pooper. But his mom already knew who he was so John and Jane couldn't be too mad, right?
"Ben?" The young man looked up from his reverie, met by his mother's earnest expression.
"You want to know why I didn't tell you?" Ben reiterated. "Because you wouldn't have listened! Or understood, or even cared!"
"What are you talking about? Your father and I would have cared if our only son was going off risking his life in some covert operation."
"How do you expect me to know that though?" Ben almost screamed. He was fuming as the weight of his past life hit him at full force. "You and dad never cared about anything I did. You just left me alone to fend for myself most of the time."
"That's because we didn't understand you, sweetie." She replied, her eyes were in a sympathetic knit. "Half the time we didn't know what you were talking about. You mumble and rant an awful lot."
Ben knew this to be true but only became angrier at the statement.
"You guys didn't even try to get me though. Just like all the times before you left me stranded! When I thought I got Heather pregnant, you guys didn't help me at all. Both of you acted like it was my fault! And you expect me to confide my private life into that?" Ben's voice cracked on the last part. He wouldn't allow himself to cry though. He didn't want his mom to know how much she and his dad had affected him so.
"Ben, I'm sorry," his mom said, forcing her pain-filled eyes to look up at her upset son. "I didn't realize that it was that hard for you. If your father were here, I'm sure he'd have something to say to this too but-"
"Hang on, 'if my father were here.' What does that mean? Where's dad, mom?" Ben asked, his breath hitching. "Mom?"
"I'm so sorry, Benny…" she said, eyes tearing up as she looked into her son's worried face. She rubbed at his forearm, hoping to comfort him. "The cancer- it came back last winter. He-He died two weeks later."
Ben's universe was just about shattered. His dad was… Dead? This was just too much for him. A tear finally escaped down his cheek and the lump in his throat was getting harder to contain. He felt on the verge of fainting.
"Don't worry though. We can start over, Ben. Hal, Chad, you, me- We can be one happy family now."
Ben struggled to understand her words in question.
"Chad and Hal?" he asked, voice straining to hold in a sob.
"Yeah, honey, Hal Freemont and I got married in March. His son Chad is from a previous marriage but I think you and him would get along. He's the most charming boy I've ever met…. Besides you." She quickly added to her shocked son.
His mother was married to his sworn enemy's father? Worse yet, she expected the both of them to be brotherly. Ben nearly vomited. This tornado of news had numbed his entire body. He felt like the world he had forgotten was rebuilding itself in the worst way possible. His dad, dead; mother, remarried; and Chad, his brother? His head was spinning.
"This isn't happening." Ben whispered. His mother could only stare confusedly. She thought her son would be thrilled to be back with his real family.
"Hey, buddy, how's it going?" John asked, landing a hand on Ben's shoulder. The young man didn't seem to notice though. His mind was so far deep into his thoughts; it would take an earthquake to shake him out of it. Jane smiled to the woman Ben was apparently talking to, noting something familiar about her.
"Hi, I'm Jane Smith," she said cordially. "You are?"
John studied Ben's flushed expression and connected his charge's tearful gaze to the woman before them. The one good thing about being an agent was your innate ability to remember every face you came across. But the one bad thing about being a man was that sometimes words just fell out of your mouth.
"Natalie Dantz." John said, staring at Ben's long-lost mother. The name seemed to finally draw Ben out of his thoughts and he looked around at the three closest people in his life at this point. All of them seemed to settle their looks of worry, confusion, and expectancy on him. Feeling inundated by the situation, Ben shrugged off John's hand and walked quickly towards the exit. Natalie was hot on his heels though, leaving John and Jane to feel severely out of the loop.
Jane turned to her husband.
"His mother is here of all places?" she exclaimed incredulously.
"I can't believe it. Natalie Dantz."
"You can't believe her? I can't believe we have to move again."
Outside in the cooling fall air, Ben took a shaky breath, hoping to calm his emotions. Didn't work. A sob quickly followed and a few more tears fell.
His mother grabbed at his wrist but he tore it away, rounding on her.
"How can you just forget about dad like that and go to marry someone like Hal Freemont?" he cried.
"Don't judge me, Ben. You don't know Hal. He's a nice man!"
"Yeah, a nice man with loads of cash. That's the only reason you would want him."
"Ben, you know that's not it. I'm not like that." Ben searched his mind and found her words to be true. His mom wasn't a gold-digger; she just had really bad taste in stepsons. "I really can't see why you wouldn't want them to be a part of your new family. They're nice people and you could have whatever you want."
Oddly enough, Ben was beginning to wonder why he was getting so worked up over the offer. It was a pretty nice deal. He'd finally be with his mom again and that had always been just a capricious dream in his stay at the Detention Center. So why did his whole body detest the idea?
Suddenly, his eyes softened in recognition as John and Jane exited the school to survey the scene between mother and son. That's when it hit Ben. He knew all along why he wasn't going to do it… A silence hung in the air for a while.
"You like them, don't you?" his mother stated. Her son was staring longingly at the two strangers behind her a long ways off. Ben turned to her, surprised she had noticed. "You have that look to you. The same one you got when your Uncle Dan went off to war. You want to go with them, don't you?"
Ben opened his mouth but closed it again. He didn't know what to say so he hung his head shame-faced and nodded softly.
He didn't want to break his mother's heart, but it was true. John and Jane rescued him when his mom abandoned him. They listened to him more than his parents ever had. Little did the two agents know, but they were turning out to be amazing parents. They had some kinks and quirks to work out but Ben didn't mind that. That's what love was, he supposed.
"Benny, that's fine." His mom laughed through some tears. "I just want what's best for you and being with them obviously is. I want you to be happy, not miserable with me again."
The young man was shocked. He's never thought his mother would ever be this understanding. For once in his life she had finally got what he was trying to tell her. The only think he could think of to do was hug her. He embraced her fiercely and two more tears fell.
"I'm sorry." Ben couldn't help saying.
"Oh, don't be, honey." She said, arms wrapped around him strongly. "I love you. Don't feel guilty about me. I'm in love with Hal and you're in love with them so I'm perfectly happy." They pulled apart. "Promise."
Ben looked in her shining eyes and smiled.
"Hey, don't be a stranger though." She said, pointing a finger at him and grinning. She placed a hand on his cheek. "I missed you too much. Take car, sweetie. And be good."
She turned to leave but offered John and Jane waiting at a distance a small wave. They returned the gesture, uncertain of what exactly was going on. Ben walked up to them, looking beat from all his crying.
"So, anything happen while we were gone?" Jane questioned.
The young man almost laughed. He stuck out his lips in mock thought and shook his head.
"No, nothing much. What's up with you?"
"We're thinking Portland is looking like a nice place to live." John said. The three were walking towards their car now.
"That so?" Ben replied, catching the drift. "Well, I was getting tired of this place anyways."
"Well, let's just hope we don't run into anymore ghosts while we're there." Jane said.
"And we don't sleep in class," John hinted, glancing at a sheepish looking Ben.
"Sometimes high school gets boring." Ben shrugged.
"Which is why we're going to sign you up for some community college. It's a lot more flexible." Jane explained. "Plus John's company's got an office over in Portland."
Ben smiled despite himself. He would never in a million years think he would end up choosing his these people over his own mother. But he was happier than he had ever been in his entire life.
"It all works out then." John said simply, slinging an arm around Ben's shoulder as they arrived at their car. "Better get to packing."
A/N: This might be the last chapter or it may be the third to last. I don't know. I do know that I'm kind of dry in the idea department. Anybody's ideas will be greedily ruminated on and eventually put into the story. I'm not kidding. Two of the ideas from peoples' reviews were put in this chapter. Just… Think about it. Thanks for reading. Please review!
Have VERY nice days,