Tracks In The Snow

Written for the Yuletide challenge and thought I'd share it here. National Treasure is not mine. Enjoy!


Riley Poole was not, by any means, a fan of being cold and that was exactly the state currently was in. Why? Through an unforeseen turn of events, their comrades on this mission had left them for dead on The Charlotte, with every intention of obtaining the treasure for themselves. Luckily, for him, though, Ben wasn't so easily fooled. They had managed to escape the remnants of the ship, and were now making their way to an Inuit village some nine miles away, in freezing temperatures. This was decidedly not a good day.

"Ben?"

The older man looked over at him. "Yes, Riley?"

Riley shrugged. "It's cold." And he wasn't kidding. The clothes they'd been wearing were wet with snow and reeked of smoke and gunpowder. His teeth were chattering violently and he could feel his whole body shivering, although some of it was numb by now. Ben was undoubtedly experiencing the same symptoms.

"You don't say?"

"Should have listened to the broken shoe-lace, I told you. But does anyone listen to Riley? No…" He replied, relying on humor to get them through the grueling walk.

Ben paused, the unexpected cease in movement causing Riley to run square into him, sending them both down into the snow once more. Riley had kind of ended up on top of Ben, though sprawled across was probably a more accurate word, given how close he was trying to get. Ben seemed to be giving off a lot more body heat than he was himself.

"You're warm." He pouted. "This is brutally unfair."

With a half amused, half irritated sigh, Ben stared. "We might find someplace warm by nightfall if we keep going." He observed, although he was not entirely opposed to staying like this, aside from the whole freezing to death part.

Riley pouted, climbing to his feet before offering a hand to his comrade. "Fine."

They walked in a comfortable silence for a while, covering about three miles in a surprisingly brief amount of time. But, that much silence when Riley was around was a rare thing and it didn't exactly take him very long to grow bored of the scenery either.

"Hey, Ben?" He grabbed the elders arm with his possibly frostbitten hand. "Can we stop for a few minutes?"

"Let's just keep moving, okay?" Ben insisted, but sighed when he looked at his friend,

The younger man's crystal blue eyes seem to plead with him to change his mind. "Come on, Ben, have a heart…"

"Alright, just for a few." He relented.

"Great." Relieved for the break, Riley sank down onto a nearby snow bank; Ben sat down beside him as well, closer than he normally would. "Are you gonna tell me what part of the clue you didn't tell Ian?"

"The key in Silence undetected. We'll need to get the Silence Dogood letters from my Dad, and find a way to arrange a viewing of the Declaration, which won't be exactly be child's play." Ben shrugged, he'd been thinking through plans on how to do just that since they'd figured out the clue.

"That'll be a fun visit. You know, since your father just loves me so much." Riley joked, resting his head on Ben's shoulder for a moment. "So, you think we can pull this off?"

Ben nodded, moving to stand again now that he had granted Riley's request for a break. "Yes, I do." He started walking again and Riley was beside him in a matter of seconds.

They walked for another three miles or so before they decided to stop again, this time at Ben's insistence rather than Riley's. However, this decision was not made verbally and when Ben stopped, Riley collided with him again, and they hit the ground as a pile of flailing limbs.

"You know, if you looked ahead instead of staring at your shoes, or my ass, or whatever it is that has interested you so much, then this might not happen so much." Ben commented, though he made no move to escape from where he was trapped under Riley.

Amused, and once again warmed by the furnace Ben had apparently stashed in his coat, Riley seemed to be captivated by the other man. "Well, maybe I think your ass is appealing enough to stare at. It's not my fault you're distracting me."

With a dismissive eye roll, Ben made what Riley had perceived to be a move to sit up. Instead, he found himself the one now trapped between the snow and the other man.

"What are you-?"

His inquiry was cut short, however, when Ben's lips met his in a soft kiss. It only lasted a few seconds, but that was apparently long enough to turn Riley's brain completely useless.

Before Riley had even processed what had transpired between them, Ben was moving forward again. "Hey! Wait up!" He called, forcing his opposed limbs to start functioning again and get moving.

They didn't stop again until they reached the Inuit village. It was nearly nightfall by then and the pilot they'd hired that would fly them out in the morning had graciously offered to put them up for the night as well. Once they'd both had something to eat and warmed up, they'd headed off to bed, planning to get an early start.

"So, what was that about?" Riley asked, once they were alone in the room they'd been offered.

"What was what about?" Ben was already sprawled across one of the two single beds in the room.

With a frustrated sigh, Riley moved to sit on the edge of Ben's bed. "The kiss, Ben! In the snow… Were you… I mean, was…" He was well aware that he had started to babble, it was something he did when he was nervous, or scared, and well, right now, he was definitely nervous.

Another kiss shut him up quite well, though. Riley was left to stare at the other for several moments before he remembered himself and tried to start talking again.

"Hey, Riley?" Ben beat him to it, though.

"Yeah?"

"The shoelace was wrong."