A/N: Woot, two chapters in one day :D
Riley walked into the waiting room and looked around. It was a nice enough room, he thought. Couches, magazines…nice paintings of…boats. Okay then. He walked over to a women sitting behind a desk.
"Um, hi…" she looked up at him and smiled.
"Yes hon, anything I can do for you?" She spoke with a slight southern drawl. Why did receptionists insist on calling him 'hon'?
"Yeah, I'm here for a three thirty appointment with Amy Fletcher?"
She glanced at piece of paper on the wall.
"This is your first time here?"
"Yes it is."
"Okay, it's required for everyone who's here for the first time to fill out this sheet. It's a list of questions."
She handed him a clipboard with a paper attached to it and a pen.
"When you're done just hand it back to me, kay?"
He went to go sit down on one of the couches. It was kind of lumpy but whatever. He looked at the questions and realized there were a good few pages of them.
Wonderful, he thought dully. There go my hopes and dreams of getting out of here as soon as possible.
Amy stood up as the door to her office opened. A young man walked in and she immediately took in his physical appearance. He was a small man, brown hair, blue eyes. Very pale, dark bags under his eyes, malnourished look. Maybe mid to late twenties, around the same age as her oldest son. She was trained to look past physical appearances. He had a sort of determined air to him, a briskness.
She offered her hand and he took it, shaking it with a surprising firmness.
"Hi, you must be Riley."
"That's me. You're Dr. Fletcher I take it?"
"Call me Amy. Have a seat."
Riley didn't know what he was expected but Amy's office was completely different from the image he had formed in his imagination. He was expecting more…white walls and fewer… dogs. Pictures of black Labrador retrievers dotted nearly every picture frame.
He sat on the couch and Amy must have seen him looking at the many pictures.
"Yes, that's my dog Abigail."
Riley started and felt himself grin. "Abigail, huh?" He couldn't wait to rub that in a certain person's face.
Amy tilted her head to the side at his sudden amused look. "Something I said?"
Riley waved his hand and dismissed it.
"So what about you Riley? Do you have any pets?"
He wasn't sure how applicable the question was and really didn't want the small talk but he shrugged.
"No, unless you count my computer. I don't like cats; I'm allergic to dogs. I had a hamster once but that didn't end very well."
Amy chuckled quietly and leaned forward in her chair in a conversational manner.
"I take it you like computers?"
"Yeah. Oh yeah. It's my livelihood. I don't want to brag or anything but I can basically do anything with a computer."
He seemed distinctly happy when telling this part of himself to her. Riley did in fact enjoy telling some fresh faces his skill. Ben, Abigail and Patrick knew of it very well so he couldn't exactly brag about it to them. It was probably the equivalent of them talking to him about some historical thing that he couldn't care less about.
"So Riley…" she looked over the answers to questions he filled out. Depression, panic and anxiousness, and loss of sleep. Typical symptoms she usually dealt with but always a different cause. "Do you want to talk about what brought you here?"
Riley blew out a puff of air. "Geeze, doc this is going to be a long story."
"Well, we have an hour. Just tell me what you can for right now."
About a half hour later of straight talking Riley had given her a shortened version of what had happened.
Amy was nodding and writing on her clipboard. Riley sat there uncomfortably, shifting his weight slightly.
Finally she looked up. "That's quite something," she murmured. She noted how he had told her the events on a very surface level, not talking about how he felt, his feelings. He told it to her as if he were reading it from a newspaper. That was okay, they had plenty of time to work through this.
"Well, I'm glad you're here Riley."
"Can you…I mean," Riley didn't look at her. "Since I started remembering things…from my past…I've gotten these weird things happening to me. Like, I don't like driving now because of the car accident I was in. And I've lost my appetite. And, I don't have them as much anymore, but I sometimes get nightmares."
Amy sighed and took off her glasses, looking at the pale young man.
"You have to remember…the symptoms don't just go away by themselves. We try and treat the actual PTSD, not flashbacks. The symptoms are a by-product of it, and we need to get to the root."
Riley looked visibly disappointed but he nodded.
"But, Amy continued," there are methods, to help you deal with the symptoms. And we'll be practicing those. Okay? Or if it turns out you want medication I can refer you to a physciatrist."
"No, that's okay," Riley said.
"Is it okay if I ask a few questions?" Amy continued, turning back to the clipboard. "It's just for the record so I can see where we stand with everything. This is strictly confidential, and you don't need to answer if you don't feel comfortable."
"Ask away, doc," Riley said giving her a small smile. Amy chuckled and turned to the clipboard.
"Have you ever had a problem with drug abuse."
"No, I haven't"
"Have you ever had a problem with alcohol abuse?"
Riley shuddered, thinking about the problem his father had. "No."
After a few very awkward questions later, Riley still was on a roll by answering no to all of them.
Then, "Did you ever resort to self-injury?"
Riley paused and Amy looked up briefly from the clipboard.
He sighed. "When I was in high school but I stopped. I had a slip-up recently but it wasn't that bad."
"Can I see?"
Riley said yes and held up his palm for her to inspect. She studied it for a moment then nodded.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"I kind of lost it. I really don't know, I pulled up a picture of the car accident I was in and I needed something to ground me. Ben walked in and saw what I was doing and grabbed my hand…and I basically scratched his hand instead of mine."
Amy saw Riley's eyes flick to the floor guiltily. "It might have been worse if he didn't stop me when he did."
Amy was looking at him thoughtfully. "It sounds like Ben and Abigail are a big part of your life."
Riley's eyes went bright with tears and he leaned forward in the chair.
"Honestly, if it wasn't for them, I don't even know if I'd be alive right now."
"Did they take you in?"
Riley smiled softly, "In a way…yeah they did. Sometimes I feel so selfish, just always foisting myself on them."
"Well, Riley, you kind of took Mikey in didn't you?"
"That's different. He's just a kid."
"He's a person in need, just like you were. And you took care of Mikey just like your friends took care of you."
"But he's family…my little brother…"
"And from what it sounds like, Abigail and Ben are your family as well. Riley, I'm sure they told you and I'll tell you too, that you're not a burden to them."
Riley slowly nodded his elbows propped up on his leg. "I'm beginning to figure that out a little more. Ben always tells me that."
"Well, he's right."
"He's always right," Riley muttered.
Fifteen minutes later the session was done and Riley excited the building. Abigail was waiting for him outside, reading a magazine. She had insisted on coming to the first appointment with Riley. Ben would have come but he had to work during that time and Abigail was able to take off for the afternoon.
She looked up at him and smiled.
"Ready to go?"
"Yeah, let's head out." He climbed into the passenger side next to his friend. "Hey can we stop at Starbucks or something? I'm craving some nice mocha frappuccino."
"Sure." Abigail kept glancing at him. Riley sighed and answered her blatant unasked question.
"It went fine. You know she had a dog named Abigail?"
"Don't get any ideas Riley," Abigail glared at him. Riley smirked and turned to look out the window.
A few weeks later…
Riley poked his head into the hallway with a grin on his face.
"Where are my favorite historians?" he called.
"Riley!" Abigail shouted in an annoyed voice. "How'd you get in?"
"Oh I have my ways," he answered smugly. He looked around hurriedly. "Is Ben here? I want to talk to both of you."
"Yeah he's in the kitchen…is everything okay?" Abigail asked studying her friend. Sometimes Riley would call them without telling them why. He would talk on the phone for a little while with one of them about nothing in particular. Abigail figured he just needed distraction from some demon or another that he was having difficulty with. Both she and her husband gladly took the time to talk if it meant helping him. And it seemed he was improving. The therapy sessions were helping him and he ate more regularly now. He looked healthier; the color seemed to have returned to him. Most importantly, he was happier. The glazed look that had haunted his eyes had all but disappeared and he was able to be himself more and more often.
"Yeah, everything's fine, I just want to say something to you guys."
Ben walked out of the kitchen and smiled when he saw his friend. "Hey, how are you doing?"
"Pretty good…um…" he paused and seemed to be grappling for words. "I just wanted…to say thank you."
Ben and Abigail looked in puzzlement at Riley who took a deep breath.
"I know…that there is nothing I can say to truly express my thanks. You guys helped me through some of the darkest weeks in my life. Even when I was being impossible you never gave up on me. I don't know what I would have done without you …" Riley was choking up a little bit. He wanted to say all the gratitude he felt for them being there. But nothing he said seemed to truly wrap around what he was feeling. Ben and Abigail were getting teary eyed as well.
"Man…I'm no good at this type of thing. I guess what I want to say to you both, is thank you. Just…thank you."
Riley cleared his throat and spoke before they felt they needed to reply to that. "I made something for you two. It's not much it feels inadequate after everything. But I hope you like it."
He reached into the bag he was holding and pulled out a beautifully leather bound and thick book.
"So, you know how you guys are into history and everything?"
"What tipped you off?" Ben smiled.
"Well, I did some research and got as much information as I could about both your families ancestors. "
He opened the book and Abigail and Ben leaned forward to look.
There were old black and white photographs, pieces of yellowing paper, typed information…diary pages. Over each page the relative's name was scripted out and beneath the birth and death date.
"This side is the Gates and this side is the Chases. When you get closer to the middle, the more closer to present day you get, Until…" Riley flipped exactly into the middle. Ben's picture was on one side and Abigail's was on the other.
"Ta-dah! The rest is history. Unless you guys decide to have a little baby Gates running around." Riley turned to them a little uncertainly. "You probably know all this stuff already about your families…"
Ben was flipping through the book in awe. "Riley…this is fantastic! Where did you get these photographs…and these handwritten documents! I looked everywhere but couldn't find…" He stopped at a page entitled Thomas Gates. The black and white picture showed a young man, baring resemblance to him and his father. It just made it seem so much more real, more tangible.
"Well, you know me…connections and all that." Riley smirked. Abigail suddenly pulled him into another hug and planted kiss on his cheek.
"Eeew! Abigail…" Riley tried to squirm away and wiped his cheek with his sleeve.
"Never knew you were the scrap booking type" she giggled.
"It's not a scrap book" he began defensively, "It's…"
"I was just kidding. I love it. I love it to death. We both love it. Riley this is marvelous."
Ben laughed and ruffled Riley's hair. "Wow, this is officially a family heirloom. Thank you. This is amazing! My dad will be absolutely ecstatic to see this."
Riley was beaming from ear to ear. "You guys like it!"
"Yeah! 'Course we do! I mean, I have to say, I'm a little jealous you got all this information before I did!" Ben laughed. Riley just continued smiling. They liked it. That was all that mattered.
He looked at his watch. "I should head out. I'm going over to visit Mikey now."
"You're driving again?" Ben asked with a grin.
"Oh yes. Oh yes…" Riley said evilly.
"Uh oh, steer clear of the roads and sidewalks." Abigail smirked.
"Har har. Okay, well I'll see you later. Enjoy your scrapbook."
A few days later Riley was paying another of his frequent visits to his little brother and Ben and Abigail were with him to visit their surrogate nephew.
"Riley, are you sure you don't want to come?"
"To be quite frank Abigail, I don't think I can attend another one of those things. I mean, there's the food…no girls to talk to. Just stuffy old men."
"There are actually a lot of women. Ben had quite a following of groupies."
"You have groupies?" Riley asked slightly envious.
"It's not as great as it sounds Riley. Believe me," Ben said glumly.
"Well none of them are interested in me then."
"Mmm, I don't know," Abigail said mischievously. "You're usually to busy wallowing in your own self pity to notice how many of them are checking you out."
"Really? They actually look interested?" Riley said hopefully.
"Well if you would pay attention once in a while and stop stuffing your face you would see that."
"Huh, well then," Riley turned his attention back to the road, looking pleased. "That's good to know. But…" his voice got a little quieter. "I think I'm done with parties."
The Gates looked at him and nodded.
"We understand Riley," Ben said.
"Thank you." That was all Riley felt like he was saying lately. It was a long process, he knew. His friends knew. His therapist was helping him sort through all the crap that was inside of him. How he was scared to enter into relationships because he feared abandonment or seeing the person hurt.
Seeing his father had helped close some doors that had been left opened and it helped him find his little brother. Mikey. Riley smiled at the thought of him.
"We're here!" Ben said, poking his head out the car window.
They pulled up in front of the house and David came out to meet them.
"Is Mikey here?" Riley asked excitedly.
"Sure is! He'll be so happy that you're here today! In school he…" he shook is head and smiled. "Well I'll let him tell you himself. Mikey! Riley, Ben and Abigail are here!" he called. The front door slammed open and the kid let out a cry of delight.
"Hey Chief!" Riley yelled. "How're ya doing!"
In response Mikey ran over to his brother and threw his arms around him as if it had been weeks instead of days since he'd seen him.
Abigail and Ben stood grinning. It was a soft, perfect moment that comes only comes once and far between. Abigail took Ben's hand and he drew her toward himself.
"He'll be okay," she said quietly with a smile on her lips. Ben watched his best friend play with his little brother. Ben smiled as Riley swooped Mikey up in his arms, Riley was laughing in a wonderfully open way and Mikey laughing right along with him.
"I have a sneaking suspicion," Ben said, kissing his wife on the head, "That you are absolutely right."
A/N: Well, that's the end. After months. And months. And months. Hope you guys enjoyed this.
Since I feel like torturing myself I'm going to list the things I should have done differently.
Riley in my opinion was too out of character. My sister, ever the critic, was like, "Even if he was depressed he would still have some of his humor." I agree and I'll work on keeping him in character in my next story. But it WAS kind of the point that he wasn't being himself. shrugs
Starting all the chapters with "The". It was like an impulse decision at the beginning but I mean seriously. What did I think this was, Animorphs?
Not really something I wanted to do differently but there were some little scenes I wrote but I didn't put in because they just added unnecessary angst.
Oh, also I apologize for the grammatical/spelling errors -- (Shrivels up and dies in a corner) Thank you for trying to decipher through my blunders.
BUT IT'S DONE!! Yay. I'm defiantly posting another National Treasure story, hopefully soon. Thank you again to all the kind reviewers, you guys are awesome!
ALSO I think I'm going to be changing my pen name. Just a forewarning, I've had this one for four years and it's really staring to annoy me.
HUGS EVERYONE WHO READ THE STORY!! THANK YOU!!3
Spoiler alert for the DVD (don't read if you don't want to know what happens in the deleted scenes. I'm just excited about them.):
Who saw the deleted scenes?? I loved that "Pursuit at Mount Rushmore". It was great that Sadusky got to have more screen time there so you get to see a little but more into his character. And I was really happy that Ben did his infamous "If you touch any of them, I'll kill you." I was like, "Yesh, Ben! Yesh! You tell ol' Wilkinson!"
And that little scene with Riley messing with that lady's computer XD!? That was so cute! "Do you know computers?" "Uh…not really…well, yeah, maybe a little."
Annnd…the one where Ben is balancing on the glass and Sadusky comes and corners him. And Ben calls him "Pete". XD. That was funny, their dialogue in that scene.
Too bad I don't have Blu-ray I wanted to know what happens in the two other deleted scenes!
Wow, that went longer then I thought. I'm done with rambling now!