A/N: This is for all of you who requested another NT fic. I didn't think I'd get it up this soon, but I decided to make it multiple chapters instead of a one-shot. Hope it's enjoyed!
--Cue cheesy announcer music-- sarahofearth, this one's for you!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, and I'm not making any money. Sure. Rub it in.
First of all, before anything else, let's get one thing straight. I'm not a hero. I've never been a hero; I never will be a hero; and I've never had any real desire to become a hero. Heck, the most experience I've ever had with heroics in general is when I stuck up for this cute blonde girl when she was being teased by a big mean kid named Alex in the fifth grade. Of course, I ended up getting my butt handed to me in front of the entire playground. That bully. It didn't help any that "Alex" was of the female variety. I'm about 98 percent sure it was the weight of that humiliation that stunted my growth. But seriously, freckles and pig tails aside, that chick had arms like Hulk Hogan, and she was definitely going through her "bad guy" phase.
But anyway, the point is, while I'm no hero, I seem to attract more trouble than Lois Lane. And she at least had Superman to back her up. Who do I have? A mean Declaration lady and a history buff. Geeze. Life really isn't fair, is it? But that is a very important part of this story.
Here's what happened. Me and Ben and Abi were in New York, special guests at this big gala deal celebrating a new exhibit opening in the New York Museum of Art. It featured some of the junk we found on our "redefining history for all mankind" adventure. It was kind of a big deal. There was media everywhere, big important people; I had to wear a tux.I'm not gonna lie. I looked good. But I can't stand those things. Ben forced me to wear those shiny, uncomfy shoes. And I mean forced. He pulled my sneakers right off my feet and held them over the toilet bowl until I agreed to wear the "right ones." Then Abigail nearly strangled me with the bowtie.
So I basically sulked around for three or four lifetimes--hours--smiling pretty for the cameras and clinking glasses with the bigwigs until it was finally over and we could leave. The minute we were back in the limo, I pulled off those accursed shoes and slid my feet into my trusty sneakers. I mean come on. Converse shoes have been around for like ever. Why mess with a good thing? "I don't know how people wear those," I said seriously, kicking at the stiff dress shoe. "I mean, who designs these things? Isn't torture frowned upon in this country? This is the United States, people."
Abigail gave me a look. "Pardon me if I don't hold much pity for you." She looked down at her own feet. Ouch. She was wearing those little strappy, spikey kind of shoes girls wear.
"My point exactly," I said. "What's the deal with everybody killing themselves to look good? I say next time we show up in jeans and T-shirts to make all the beautiful, uncomfortable people realize how ridiculous and shallow they are."
Ben shot Abi one of those lofty kind of looks he gives her whenever he wants to come off like the mature, responsible one but really secretly agrees with me. "Somebody's grouchy."
"I always get grouchy when my blood sugar gets this dangerously low," I retorted, tugging at my bowtie. "That food they had in there was awful. I'm pretty sure some of it was still alive."
"Most of that food in there probably cost more than my salary at the archives," Abigail informed me with one of her Looks. Sheesh. I wasn't the only one who was cranky.
I snorted. "What's that tell you?"
"Just order room service when we get back to the hotel, Riley," Ben cut in, obviously trying to preempt an argument. He didn't get that I was trying to start an argument. Just for kicks. My night had been that boring. Or maybe he did get it. Either way.
"Come on. We're in New York. The night's still young-ish. Let's go find someplace with real food. I don't want to spend another night trapped in a hotel."
"A five-star hotel with restaurants, swimming pools, and basically every other luxury known to man," Abigail reasoned, rolling her eyes slightly.
"Come on," I pleaded. I turned to Ben. "Let's just go get cheeseburgers or something real quick. I want to do something normal. Let's go be normal for a second, Ben." I paused and added as innocently as I could, "Please?"
Ugh, he's doing that thing with his eyes again. That wide-eyed, innocent, you're-my-best-friend-in-the-whole-world look I'm relatively sure he designed specifically to make me melt. I could feel my defenses crumbling. "You know, I could probably go for a cheeseburger," I said, cringing inwardly. If Abigail and I ever have children, and Uncle Riley teaches them that look, they will be the most spoiled rotten kids in the world. I looked at Abigail, trying to save face. "Wouldn't you like a cheeseburger?"
She crossed her arms. "I'm not going into a burger joint dressed like this. I'll wait here, thank you."
Wildly grinning, Riley sat forward and told the limo driver to take us to the place with the best-tasting, greasiest burgers in town. The man's name was Jerry. Riley had immediately taken to calling him "James" in a cheesy British accent. Of course, he did that with all our drivers. "Thank you, James," he said sitting back, looking altogether pleased with himself.
It didn't take long to get there. As soon as the limo stopped, Abigail leaned forward and smacked Riley on the side of the head. "Bring me back a burger. No onions," she ordered.
Riley smirked and, quite characteristically, stuck out his tongue at her before scrambling out of the car. She rolled her eyes, trying not to smile. I went to follow my friend, but she stopped me with a hand on my arm. "You know you're a pushover?" she asked.
I thought about protesting. What would be the point? "Yes. I got that."
I assumed she was going to scold me. She surprised me with a kiss before shoving me out the door. "Hurry, back with my food," she called.
I grinned, following Riley into what looked like one of those mom and pop's type restaurants. It didn't look like much, but there were cars in the parking lot even after ten o'clock, so apparently they did a lot of business. That was encouraging.
A young lady came up to us and asked how many were in our party, looking us up and down. I guessed they didn't get frequented by people in tuxedoes very often. While I told her we'd be taking our meals to go, Riley spotted a large aquarium full of exotic fish and made a beeline straight for it in true Riley form. He has one of those attention spans that allows him to sit and stare at a computer screen for hours without looking up, but show him something pretty or shiny, and he's off like a kindergartner at Disneyland who's just spotted Mickey. I ordered for us and went to stand next to him while they prepared the food.
I glanced at him and couldn't help but smile. He really did look like a kindergartner on his first trip to Disneyland, standing there completely enraptured by the colorful fish with his tux all rumpled, sneakers on his feet, tie hanging untied around his neck, and his cummerbund upside down (wonder how he got past Abigail with that one). I made a mental note to take him diving with me sometime. If I could get him past the "Are there like sharks or jellyfish down there?" I bet he'd have a great time.
"Ben, we should get one of these," he said after realizing I was there.
"If you're good I'll put it on your Christmas list."
He finally tore his eyes away from the fish to give me an odd look. "But…" Then he realized I was kidding. Sometimes it takes awhile for him to switch gears. He mock-coughed. "Sorry, I think your sense of humor just sucked all the moisture out of the air."
"Ha ha," I said. Dryly.
Then a new thought seemed to occur to him. "What are we going to get each other for Christmas? We're all filthy stinking rich. What could we possibly get for each other that we couldn't buy ourselves?"
Trust Riley to find the cloud inside the silver lining. "I'm sure we'll think of something," I assured him.
He started to say something else, but something over my left shoulder caught his attention, and the color drained from his face so quickly, I thought I might have to catch him before he passed out. "Right now I'll count it as my Christmas present if you just tell me one thing," he said quickly, sounding unsettlingly afraid.
"What?" I asked immediately.
He pointed behind me towards the door. "Please tell me it's ski season in New York."
I turned to look, and almost wished I hadn't. Three men. Black ski masks. The cause for concern, though, really had much more to do with the guns they held in their hands. One of them stepped forward and shot a round into the ceiling, eliciting a scream from more than one patron. "Everybody freeze!"
Shouts went up from all over the restaurant. I can't promise that one or two of them didn't come from me. I jumped as a hand landed on my arm in a tight grip, nearly sighing in relief when I realized it was Ben.
"Everybody line up against the back wall over there! Go!" The man in front shouted. Guy was obviously the leader, because the big old guy on his right looked too stupid, and I was pretty sure the guy on the left would've rather been at home munching a burrito. I could totally relate.
That's when they spotted mine and Ben's tuxedo-clad selves. And I nearly had a coronary. The leader, Mo, started toward us, gun at his side, followed by Curly. Larry rolled his eyes and went for the cash register. Ben pulled me back behind him. See this guy knows how to do the hero thing. Not that it would've done much good if the Stooges decided to open fire, but I appreciated the sentiment just the same.
"You," he said pointing at us. "You two. That your limo outside?"
"Think we could convince him we're on our way to prom, and our dates are in the bathroom?" I whispered to Ben as Mo got closer.
"Riley," he hissed.
"I'll shut up."
Mo stopped just a couple feet from us, still waiting for an answer. No way was I saying anything. Ben answered. "Yeah. It's ours."
"Wallets and jewelry," the guy demanded, smiling. I was beginning to not like this guy. I took out my wallet, which was brand new by the way and didn't have a single Disney character on it (as instructed--cough, commanded--by one Abigail Gates), and handed it to the guy. Ben did the same. Mo looked at Ben's I.D. "Benjamin Gates." He looked at my friend. "Why does that name sound so familiar?"
"Oh, crap," I whispered.
I could see realization dawning. "I saw you on the news. You're that guy who found the treasure." Ben was still standing in front of me, and I could see his shoulders tense. Not good; not good; not good.
Mo smiled and looked at Curly. "Jackpot."
A/N: Okay, a bit of a cliff-hanger. I'll admit it. But I'm going as fast as I can, and I'll write more ASAP, 'kay? I promise. In the meantime, I'm not sure I'm completely sold on this plotline, so pretty please tell me yea or nay.