A/N: First National Treasure fic, so be nice for a couple of chapters until I get the hang of this. The first chapters just a background, so there's no plot in it whatsoever, it's purely for fun. I don't own National Treasure. If you do, great, I'm happy. Don't sue.
Nine Years Ago
Ben Gates tapped his fingers against his pants impatiently, waiting for the elevator. He was supposed to be giving this lecture in five minutes and he still had to find the room.
He stepped in as soon as the doors opened and poked the 5 button. In his haste, he had hit his briefcase against the wall. It sprang open just as the doors closed.
Muttering curses under his breath, Ben scooped up the pages. Most of it was notes on the treasure. He reached out to grab a page and found it being handed to him, stacked neatly on top of several others.
A second's examination of the bearer of the pages revealed a young man, presumably a student, eighteen years old at most, glasses perched on his nose. "Thanks." Ben said, gratefully taking the papers. The second his hand reached for them, the elevator jerked to a stop.
"Wh ―" the papers were pushed against Ben's chest as the student's balance was thrown off. They were both pushed against the side of the elevator.
Looking up, Ben gritted his teeth. He was definitely going to be late for his lecture now. He started to gather his papers up for the second time, rifling with them until they were in order. This was exactly what he didn't need right now.
Realizing he was missing several papers, Ben glanced around the small space for them and found that they were still in the possession of the student. He was holding them, staring at them, but his hands were shaking. His whole body was shaking.
Not sure how best to go about getting his papers back from the student, who he might be sharing the elevator with for some time, depending on how long it took the maintenance crews to get the elevator back on line, Ben cleared his throat.
The student looked up from the papers, which he was now clutching so hard his knuckles were turning white. Seeming to realize for the first time that Ben was there, he said, "Oh. Hi. I guess you want your papers back Mr...?"
"Gates." Ben said, taking the papers from the boy. "Ben Gates."
"Mr. Gates." The boy repeated, still staring at the papers. Still shaking. He tilted his head slightly to one side, as if trying to remember something. "You aren't the one who was giving the lecture?" it was a half-question that Ben answered. Anything to do with history.
"Yeah, I am. You take the class...?"He left the end open, hoping for a name. Looking at the boy, trying to calculate the odds of meeting someone who took the class that he supposed to be speaking to right now.
The boy was clearly trying to get his shaking under control, he kept glancing at the elevator doors as if willing them to open. "Yeah, I do. Take the class. Riley." The words came out calm, the shaking continued.
"Riley." The boy brought both eyebrows together, puzzled.
Ben laughed, even though he knew it wasn't meant to be funny. "No, I'm Ben." Unable to take the kid's shaking any longer, Ben asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." The response was too quick to be true, said as if that was the answer he had given to the same question many times before. Riley must have seen Ben's eyebrows lift because he sighed, amending. "I don't like elevators."
Ben nodded, understanding. "Claustrophobic?"
Riley nodded, clearly wanting to get off the topic, even if his shaking couldn't let him forget his phobia completely. "So...what's on the papers? Something about a...treasure?"
It was the only invitation that Ben needed. Launching immediately into the story of his great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Gates, and of Charles Carrol, then backtracking through the ages to the Knight's Templar and the Holy Grail, touching on the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, the Knights of the Round table. His story had gotten infinitely larger than the one his grandfather had told him, talking in detail about the countries and nations that had contributed the treasure and ending with his belief that the treasure existed and that there were clues that would lead his to it.
He finished speaking, realizing that the kid, Riley, was staring at him, eyes wide, a slight smile on his face. "You'll find it."
"What?" Ben was used to defending his theory in front of professors, scientists, his father...everyone who claimed it didn't exist. No one had believed him in so long, he found it highly improbable that anyone ever would.
Riley hadn't stopped shaking. Ben realized that the two of them were sitting very close together and he was tempted to put his arm around this boy. There was something about him...probably his youth, or maybe the fact that he was scared, or that he believed in the treasure...something that made Ben want to protect him, to comfort him.
Riley continued, the words coming fast, his eyes round and passionate. "You'll find it, the treasure. Mr. Gates, you should hear the way you talk about that treasure. You'll find it." Ben wondered how he could say those words over and over. His grandfather had known that he would find it, but he had said it out of pride and conviction. Riley...this kid he'd met in an elevator...said it with simple faith.
"Ben." Ben said it to keep himself grounded. Someone believed in him. Even if it was an eighteen-year-old college kid, it still counted for something.
"Riley." Riley corrected. He looked at the elevator doors, than at his watch. His shaking doubled, and this time Ben put a hand on his arm, which earned him a fleeting smile.
Ben let out a deep breath. They'd been in here for a while. His legs were starting to cramp up. "So, Riley, you know a lot about history, I take it."
"It's my minor." Riley shrugged, but this simple conversation had reduced his shivers somewhat. "Majoring in computer technology."
Ben arched an eyebrow again. "Odd combination." Just as he said it, the elevator groaned. Riley's body tensed under Ben's hand. He obviously thought the elevator was going to drop. Instead, it started descending.
Riley let out a huge sigh of relief, clamoring to his feet and picking up his discarded school bag. "Well, that was an adventure." He said as they both got off the elevator. "We should definetly do it again sometime, Mr. Gates." He put out a hand, which Ben shook.
"Ben." He corrected.
"Riley." The boy said back, turning around, leaving the older man laughing in the middle of the lobby surrounded by maintenance workers.