Warning(s): …Ian hates Riley? Spoilers for 2nd movie. Riley has really blue eyes. Slight nonsensical-ness. Sentence fragments. A really long winded metaphor. Genfic. Giftfic. Excessive use of post-it notes. I really like emphasis. Finished at 2 am in the morning. I think that's it? Oh, you need to know that a wi-fi connection is wireless internet essentially, just cooler. Oh, and I have the first movie at hand, so those lines are right, but I only saw the second movie today, so the lines might be a bit paraphrased. Sorry in advance. Annnnd, that's it. I'm pretty sure.
Disclaimer: If it makes you feel better, I could take them off your hands Jerry. I know how much of a burden they must be. Stuff you recognize is his.
something like a sofa
The imprint of Riley's glasses only complimented the growing drool spot on the pillow he had claimed as his own as he collapsed in exhaustion. One of Ben's pillows, of course. Ben sighed and rolled his eyes and gave a grumble, but it was all rather half-hearted. It wouldn't have been an all night research session without Riley crapping out on him at about three am and completely rendering the couch unusable and managing to ruin at least two cushions in the course of an hour.
When Ian had commented on the 'kid's' bedtime, Ben had summoned a smile, but excused himself a moment later. The Riley mocking was all well and good when the techno geek was awake to defend himself, but while he was sleeping was just bad form on Ian's part. But Ian was an old friend, sensible and not very minding of Ben's occasional nuttiness. Ben wasn't going to alienate him because of the geeky computer nerd they'd hired for the Charlotte Project. Wasn't like Riley was going to be around when Ian wasn't. He was just there for the job.
A month later and Ben came home to an unfamiliar apartment. Riley, again, was collapsed in sleep on his busted old blue couch - the only sign that Ben hadn't entered the Twilight Zone while making the three flight walk up to his apartment door. Ben closed the door with solid click, not enough to wake Riley but loud enough to send him snuffling into the pillow before flipping over with a flail, his back to the door. Ben wouldn't call this strange new apartment clean per say - clothes were everywhere, his artifacts still covered in dust - but his papers were gone. His books - piled up. His notes… he didn't even know. And there, in the middle of his desk sat a fairly well taken care of laptop, with only a few scratches across its hard cover and a chipper yellow post it note attached to the top. The laptop was humming cheerfully and Ben collapsed into his desk chair, staring at it with some misgiving.
The post-it read:
I got bored. This is one of my old laptops, your stuff's cataloged on here. Plus, those books smell weird and trying to sleep with them around was like sleeping next to an old farty man. No offense, but dude. No one likes old farty books or old farty men. Except maybe you, but your kinks are safe with me.
Dude, upgrade. You're not seriously still on cable internet, are you? What a joke. Your set up makes me want to cry. And your reception sucks. The History Channel, 24/7? Are we serious here? You're lucky I didn't go Carrie on your shit and just stab everything to death. That channel could make anyone go crazy after a few hours.
Books are by year, then alphabetical, since I figured chronological order sort of helps with you history people, yeah?
Ben was proud that he didn't manage to free the utter noise of astonishment that was threatening to break past his lips as he opened the laptop and stared at the neatly filed desktop of the computer, folders labeled with things like "CHARLOTTE", "THOMAS GATES" and "THINGS FROM THE SMELLY BOOK WHOSE TITLE I CAN'T READ BUT YOU'VE TOLD ME 100 TIMES, SORRY BEN". Ben's lips twitched halfway into a smile before his attention was caught by another post-it note.
PS. Your name is seriously Benjamin Franklin Gates? Dude, ego trip, major? Not like it's unsubtle or anything. Oh, the CD in the CD drive has that stuff you wanted on it.
Ben shook his head - he was not amused, he was not - okay, maybe a little. He popped open the CD drive and another yellow post-it stared up at him.
PPS. You're out of milk. And coffee. And bread. Butter too probably. I'd just do a general shopping trip if I were you. Someone whose name rhymes with Smiley had a craving for toast.
Out of habit, Ben glanced over his shoulder at the doorway that led to his kitchen. Another bright yellow post-it note hung at chin height - probably eye level for Riley, Ben guessed - and Ben crossed the room to pluck it off the wall and read,
PPPS. You're out of jelly beans.
Ben couldn't hide the smile that crept onto his face this time. He knew for a fact that he'd never had jelly beans in his home. But maybe he'd pick up a bag this time around, if only to keep the computer technician from rearranging his boxer drawer next.
A few months later and that damned drool spot was inching its way closer and closer to Ben's new suede couch cushion. Riley had whined that the couch was uncomfortable and he didn't like it much, but Ben had ignored him in favor of finishing his phone call with his mother, who had called about the piece of code he'd sent to her a few days ago.
Ian had given up on the all night sessions, but Riley had stuck in there, snickering at Ben's crack about bedtimes for little English boys - which sort of made Ben feel better about fake smiling at Ian's jokes about Riley.
Ben considered throwing something at Riley's head, but the kid had found some great things tonight and Ben was wont to let him sleep - although Ian would claim they weren't getting enough bang for their buck. But Ian was always saying things like that, had since they discovered Mr. Riley Poole, instructing customers of his computer tech company to just try and turn the monitor of their computer on and see if that made the difference. Ian didn't much like Riley, but the compu-nerd had grown on Ben, much like a particularly loud and obnoxious barnacle and he found himself spending more time in the kid's presence - if only to keep him from completely destroying the apartment in his attempts to update Ben to the 21st century, because Ben, c'mon, this setup is seriously pathetic.
"Ben?" came the sleep slurred voice from across the room and Ben glanced up from his - Riley's old - laptop, gazing over the tops of his glasses to peer at Riley, whose sleep-tousled hair made him look faintly duck-like. Ben gave an answering 'hmm?' to which Riley replied hazily, "Next time, can we look for a pirate's treasure? Because boats are reeeeaaally, reeeeeeaally cool."
There was a soft thump as Riley collapsed back into sleep and Ben blinked at the boy's prone form. He was glad the kid probably wouldn't remember this in the morning because one, he definitely didn't have an answer to the question, two, Riley probably wasn't planning on hanging around for long after the treasure and three, what did boats have to do with anyth-
Charlotte… Charlotte… Charlotte was a boat. The Charlotte. The Charlotte.
"Riley, you're a genius!" Ben shouted as he leapt up, sending papers flying as he did so. He was at Riley's side in an instant, "A genius Riley, that's what you are. A genius!" Riley blinked blearily up at the ecstatic Ben.
"All part of the job description Ben," he said drowsily, before turning back over and collapsing back in sleep with a definite snore, drooling steadily on Ben's new couch.
Two years after he'd met Ian, a year after he'd met Riley and Ben was so close to the Charlotte, he could almost taste it. Their expedition was to begin in a few days and last minute preparations were tying everyone up. There was a non stop buzz around the tiny set of offices Ian had rented for the last month of the Charlotte Project. Ben sat, peering at an old map, checking the possible migratory route of the Charlotte for the thousandth time. There was a knock at his door and Ben glanced up over his glasses and grinned when Ian stepped into the room.
"Doing alright Ben?" Ian asked with a half-grin, before handing over a folder full of files and papers. "We need to go through these at some point before we leave, make sure that kid has it all on correctly on his little computer for once," Ben nodded, taking the folder and glancing through it quickly, ignoring the crack about Riley. He couldn't help but be gleeful as he glanced through pictures and old reports, he was a few days away from finally finding what 180 years had yet to unearth. Today was officially the best birthday he'd ever had. No presents, but being this close to the Charlotte was good enough.
Another knock at his door and Ben glanced up to see big blue eyes staring at him from behind thick black glasses. "Ben!" Riley said cheerfully as he hurried into the room. "Can't stay long, just wanted to give this to you, happy birthday!" With that, Riley dropped a rectangular package, badly wrapped in newspaper but topped with a bright red ribbon, expertly tied. Riley spent so often tying his shoes, Ben was sure he was a professional. "Bet my present beats out everyone else's," Riley gave a meaningful look in Ian's direction before trotting out of the room, whistling.
Ben stared at the package and then at the door. Ian was studiously not meeting Ben's eyes - clearly he had no idea when Ben's birthday was, which was completely fine with Ben, because he hadn't a clue when Ian's was. But Riley knew? Ben blinked and reached for the present. He pulled at the ribbon and the tape and soon a book fell into his lap. Lifting it, he read the title and smirked.
It was one of those "On This Day In History…" books, which Ben had always glanced at but never bought - he didn't know why. It was a very 'him' sort of thing to own. Ben noticed a bright pink post-it note sticking out of the top and opened to the page of his birthday to find a note in Riley's impossible handwriting.
Not like you need anymore random trivia inside that big dome of yours, but hey. Thought it was kind of cool. PS. In return for getting you an awesome gift, you need to buy a new sofa. Soon. The yellow one's not working out.
Ben glanced at the page, taking note that he shared a birthday with Baz Luhrmann, John Ritter, two chief justices of the Supreme Court and… Ben laughed aloud. It wasn't like he'd forgotten, but it wasn't something he thought about every day. Trust Riley to remind him.
On this day in 1787: Delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia vote to accept the Constitution.
Yeah, pretty much the best birthday ever.
"Ben, the Treasure of the Knights Templar is the treasure of all treasures!"
"Oh... I didn't know that, really?" Ben replied snottily - he wasn't an idiot and he didn't need Ian reminding him of things he knew too damn well. They weren't stealing the Declaration of Independence and that was final. A half-second later, he wanted to smile despite their situation. Riley was clearly rubbing off on him if his first reflex was now a sarcastic one-liner. But perhaps sarcasm wasn't the best choice, considering moments later, Ian pulled a gun. Or, Shaw pulled a gun at Ian's bidding. Same difference.
"Shut up Riley, your job is done." Ben frowned, he knew Ian didn't much like Riley, but - Ben froze. Now Shaw was waving his gun around and Riley was being threatened? Ben frowned more deeply and in an instant, he knew what he had to do, what had to be done to keep Riley from being shot.
Lighting the flare, Ben heard Riley's cautious, "Ben…?" which was careful question, a 'do you really know what you're doing?' while still being a faithful, 'I trust you know what you're doing.'
And okay, so the plan didn't work out so well. There was running and diving and shouting and Ben throwing Riley to the ground and slamming the door closed against the explosion that rocked the tiny room they were in. But they were okay. They were covered in snow and they didn't have the pipe but Riley was alive and he was alive and it was only a nine-mile hike to the nearest village, not so bad.
Or, it wasn't, until the part of Riley's brain that had heard "nine mile hike" and ignored it, started reminding the rest of the brain and body of the short computer programmer that nine miles was not for the faint of heart. Soon Ben was hearing complaints. Lots of complaints. Complaining about leaving his laptop behind, about guns, about Shaw, about Ian, about Shaw and Ian and derogatory comments about what they did in their spare time together, about getting almost blown up, about fire, about gunpowder and dead people and blood - Ben had noticed Riley flinched in sympathy when he cut his thumb and half smiled, before Riley's obnoxious whining tone reminded Ben that moments ago he'd wanted to shoot himself because of the aforementioned computer whiz - and walking and boots and snow and ice and hoods and glasses that fogged up and wind and clouds and sun and cold and exhaustion and sleep and couches and Ben's gross green couch and-
"Tell you what Riley, I'll even let you pick out my next couch if you just shut the hell up," Ben groused and Riley fell silent for a moment.
"Deal!" he replied cheerfully and Ben felt victorious for a moment before realizing what he had just done. The scary scenarios he thought up kept his mind occupied for most of the rest of the walk.
Ben wasn't really sure when he stopped thinking of Riley as simply a temporary fixture and started thinking of him in terms of permanence. He'd promised the guy he'd let him pick out his sofa, but that wasn't a best friend thing, was it? That was just a deal, made between two guys, who happened to be searching for the treasure, one of them constantly faithful and loyal to the other, who dragged him all over and got him shot at and yelled at and… oh.
Ben thought back and figured it might've been when Riley stuck with him, through getting kicked out and laughed out of every government agency open to the public. Or perhaps when Riley didn't leave, despite the many times Ben yelled at him or snarked at him for no particular reason. (And he only apologized once, really, why was Riley still around?) Despite how many times Ben talked down to him, got him shot at or threatened by guns (Riley drove the car during the whole chase!) or pushed around by Ian's lackeys - Riley was still around. He saved them from missing a whole day with the Daylight Savings Time thing - which Ben still couldn't believe he missed, but there was Riley for you, a veritable genius - and he even saved Abigail's life and his own.
It was all sort of coming together now.
So they were best friends now? The feeling was new and odd, but familiar at the same time - kind of how his house felt, historic but new to him, comfortable and lived-in but fresh - but Riley still came over every other weekend or so, hung out in the kitchen or living room, writing his book, bickering with Abigail and fulfilling Ben's snark quota for the month. He had his own guest room that held some of his belongings and clothes he managed to leave behind every time he visited and he still left post-it notes wherever he went.
Dude, get your own wi-fi connection. Bumming off your neighbor won't cut it. Loosen the purse strings Ben and go for broke, you'll thank me. Hell, I'll thank me.
More jelly beans please.
Anyone seen my sweatshirt with the green and the blue and that little thing with the sort-of stripes?
Idea: next time the hot water heater is broken, someone informs Riley?!
Bug in the pantry, I left it for you to kill Abi. You have all that hidden malice, I think it would be good for you.
It's 10am, have you fed your Riley today?
Abigail would pick up books and plants or open the piano or pull the curtains and there one would be, as if Riley knew exactly where they would look next.
And if Ben ever wanted to tell Riley something, he just left one in the sofa cushions.
It'd been a month since Ben had last seen Riley. During that month, he'd been so wrapped up in his own life that it hadn't really seemed like a very long time, but looking back - he could spot several holes or points in time that a visit from Riley would've filled quite nicely. But that was the way of things, or it was for Ben. And that way seriously needed to change.
Ben was really the worst friend to ever exist. He was fully and utterly cognizant of this fact. It had been slightly less horrible before, when Riley was fairly oblivious to the fact, but now Ben was sure Riley was slowing becoming aware of the idea that perhaps Ben Gates was not someone who deserved his blind and unyielding faith.
Ben hadn't even read his dratted book, hadn't even opened the damned package.
And yet… "Ben, if it were you, you'd have less evidence and I'd already believe you." And Riley was right. Ben would spout off some random theory, come to Riley with the craziest ideas (kidnapping the President anyone? And what had Riley said? 'I'm in' - and that was that) and Riley would simply trust and that would be it.
And the days when he could rely on Riley's innate and finely honed sense of self preservation to ensure that his best friend would be okay in the end? Done with. What was Riley thinking, offering himself to be the one to stay behind on the giant sliding table of doom? "Just promise you'll come back for me. I can do the math too." Ben wanted to stand and gape and blink and stare. When did Riley ever come to the conclusion that it was okay for him to stay behind? To offer to stay behind? Of course it wasn't okay. Ben took care of Abi and Ben took care of Riley and that was the way of things. It was like Riley was ensuring that Ben got the title of Worst Friend To Ever Exist.
Ben nodded and smiled and agreed but was almost relieved when the table started cracking. At least now he didn't have to make obvious the fact he never planned to let Riley stay behind - the idea hadn't even crossed his mind for a split second before Ben had thrown it out. He made Riley jump, figuring that if his time had come, he had at least ensured Abigail's and Riley's safety. But apparently neither were going to let him go without a fight, Riley hauling him up the ladder with a single hand.
Ben felt his standing as a best friend drop with every second.
And then there was Riley being stupid, trying to swim against the current, trying to save Ben when Ben had already decided he was going to save Riley. It was a given he wanted to save Abi, wanted to save his mother and father - but Ben couldn't even look at Riley. Couldn't tell him that Riley was the best friend and brother he'd never had and man, was he sorry for a lot of things. He couldn't look at Riley and not see the fear in his eyes. Dammit, he should've been a better friend.
And when things turned out mostly alright in the end, Ben could be happy that everyone was alive and well but there was still the fact that Riley had been his friend for years and Ben still treated him like a couch. Like he would always be there to hold people up and he'd always be around for people to just take him for granted. People like Ben. People who treated him like he was simply there to be exchanged and passed around and poked and prodded and reupholstered. God, they had a sofa friendship.
So two days later, after everything had settled and credit and money and things had been divvied up, Ben told Riley they were going couch shopping. Three hours were spent at the store, Ben trailing behind Riley as the man flopped, bounced, napped and relaxed on every sofa in the store. When Riley was satisfied, Ben didn't even try the couch out. He bought it straight away, got immediate delivery and happily followed the delivery truck home, for once feeling like a good friend.
Riley and Ben remained friends for the rest of their lives. Riley insisted it was because he had invested so much in the damn couch, that it just wasn't right for him to leave Ben in the dust. Ben smirked every time he said it, but he kept the couch around just in case.
AN: Okay, not quite sure how this flows or goes or anything really. It seems completely nonsensical to me - hopefully it worked for you guys? It was entirely and completely inspired by the first image I gave you all. Riley, glasses all wonky, snoring, asleep and drooling on one of Ben's pillows. From there… I claim no responsibility. I sort of imagine Ben's head to work in this way though, thoughts that no one really hears, sort of disjointed and sometimes fragments of sentences, bits of memory to tell the story, but mostly understandable to the common public. And why sofas? Not a clue. Please tell me this wasn't horrible, unless it was, then let me down gently but firmly. (Oh, and there was a bunch of other lines and stuff I wanted to put in, but Ben was Not Agreeing.)
AN: PS. Happy early birthday to Jules, pretty much the reason for all my great obsessions and for squeeing with me about Riley's blue blue eyes and Ben being the best sort-of brother ever and for agreeing that there needs to be a Shaw & Ian fic written at some point (but not for agreeing that I should be the one to write it). Love you dearly and utterly my luffly.