Author: vanillafluffy PM
They've just moved to a new town, and Ben goes exploring. Minor spoilers for 6.1, "Exile on Main Street", speculation about how certain events may be explained later.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Ben B. - Words: 1,312 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-26-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6355475
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
They've been in the new house for three days, and Ben wants some space. Mom is going in four different directions at once, between trying to unpack, check in with her new job, find out where things like the grocery store are, and keeping Dean busy, and all that is really wearing to be around. He asks if he can go out for a while, just to wander around and see what the neighborhood is like, and his mom says okay.
Ben bolts before she can change her mind, or assign any errands or designate a specific time to be back, because he'll be back when he's hungry, and it'll probably be before dinnertime anyway.
They drove through town when they got here, and last night, when Mom took them to a Chinese buffet across from the hardware store, and he's pretty sure he remembers seeing a park. (Not the lame kind that's all landscaping and benches, but the good kind with a playground and baseball diamond and a court for shooting hoops.) He heads in that direction, sneakers scuffling along the sidewalk.
Mom had sat him down and explained that she didn't really want to move, but she was going to be managing the fitness aspect of a fancy resort, and couldn't afford to turn a job like this down. He's okay with that, really he is. It's Dean that has him a little freaked out. After the first time he came around, Ben's thought of him as a plainclothes superhero—but now, he smells like booze a lot of the time and he wakes up yelling in the middle of the night, and Ben's caught him sitting out in his car, crying. It's kind of embarrassing.
Crying is normal when you lose someone, his Mom says, and Dean lost his brother Sam, and they have to be there for him because he doesn't really have anyone else.
Ben just wants him to snap out of it. He feels bad about Sam—obviously, he's Dean's brother, he must've been a really cool guy—but this is going to be a really crappy summer if all Dean's going to do is drink and cry.
There is a park, and it's way cooler than he expected from driving by. There's all the athletic fields and stuff, and a little lake with trails around it—off in the distance are people riding horses—and there's a big map posted showing things like stables and a campground and a pool and an ice-skating rink. This is going to be awesome.
First thing he wants to check out is the pool. It's warm for June; swimming sounds really good. And he's got ice skates packed somewhere in his stuff—that's cool, too. It turns out that there's a kiddy pool and a real pool, and he stands there reading the rules and the list of prices. It's way cheaper to buy a pass than it is to pay every time; he can pass that intel along to Mom...there are lessons, too, where he could learn to dive and do more than dog-paddle.
"Hey." Ben looks over. The other boy is a couple years younger than he is, but he doesn't give off that spazzy-little-kid vibe. He's wearing swim trunks and he gestures to the pool with a half-eaten purple popsicle. "Come on in, the water's great!"
"Ah, I was just scoping the place out, I don't have my trunks."
"I bet they've got some in the lost and found you could use."
Mom would have a hissy-fit about wearing somebody else's 'unsanitary' shorts, although chlorine should kill the germs. Ben rummages in his pockets. Not enough money.
"I'll take care of it for you," the kid says. "Come on, right now it's all girls in there, I'm totally outnumbered, you gotta help me!"
"Okay, if I can score some trunks."
His new friend grins broadly. He has brown hair, lighter where the sun's hit it, and he's tan all over—he must swim a lot—and has bright green eyes. "Excellent."
He trots over to the opening centered between entrances labeled "Girls" and "Boys" at either end of the long low building. Ben catches up as the girl behind the counter drops several pairs of trunks on the counter. The first pair is way too small, the next is too big. The third pair is blue, with a green wave design, and Ben's pretty sure from holding them up that they'll fit. He gets a towel, too, which smells bleach-y but seems clean enough.
When he comes back out of the locker room, the kid has finished his popsicle and is waiting expectantly. "Last one in's a rotten egg!" Ben dashes after him, although the posted rules said 'No running' in big, red letters. The kid does a cannonball into the deep end, and Ben does the same. The lifeguard doesn't call them on it, and Ben grins.
Wow! The water is almost cold compared to the air outside, and it feels wonderful.
They splash around for a while, and Ben finds himself talking about moving here, and Mom's new job, and Dean. He wasn't planning to divulge the details of his mom's cool-but-screwed-up boyfriend, but there hasn't been anyone else to tell about how he'd shown up a month ago, all emo because his brother had died. Ben doesn't have all the details, but he knows it was to save people.
"His brother? Whoa, that sucks." His young friend is properly solemn at Ben's tale. "I don't think that's fair, do you? He died being a hero—most people aren't heroes, let alone die from doing it. I think he should get a do-over."
"Yeah," Ben sighs, "and Dean would stop drinking and crying and get a job and be cool again."
They nod, then they have a contest to see who can hold his breath underwater the longest. It isn't Ben, but it's a handy way of getting off the subject of emo Dean.
A pack of older boys come in, horsing around. "No running!" admonishes the lifeguard. "And absolutely no cannonballs!"
"She didn't give us a hard time about it," Ben remarks.
"Just lucky, I guess." The smirk reminds him of the old Dean.
They're also lucky that the older boys are more into showing off for the girls than messing with them, Ben manages to float on his back, and looks up at the clouds drifting past, "Look at that one, it's like a big dog," he points out.
"That one's a knight on horseback."
"Wow, it really is, I can see his lance and everything."
"And there's the dragon—"
Ben stares, because not only does it look like a dragon with outstretched wings, the wind or something twists the cloud to look like it's breathing smoke. "Awesome. That one there looks like a, a—"
"Yeah. That's it." He loves this town. The park is fantastic, his little buddy is great, hey, even the freakin' clouds are amazing. His stomach rumbles and he realizes the shadows are starting to decline. Ben knows he doesn't want to risk getting grounded. "Hey, I need to get home for dinner. I'll be back tomorrow, if I can.
"Cool. I'm here most days. What's your name, anyway?"
Ben hauls himself up the chrome ladder. "I'm Ben Braeden."
"Nice to meet you, Ben Braeden. I'm Jesse Turner."