Summary: When tragedy strikes Riley's family, Ben is determined to be there for him. But when Riley's older brother appears, things begin to take a turn for the worst. Will Riley cope? No slash!
A/N: Hey, this is my second National Treasure fic. This story was meant to be a oneshot, but it didn't quite work out that way. Now I have no idea how many it will be! I wrote this in honor of my great-uncle who died not too long ago (and more people that I love who have died), and this is also honoring my friends who, like Ben in this story, didn't leave me alone for a minute. So, thanks for looking into this story, and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Ben and Riley are not mine, and neither is Bon Jovi or The Prince of Bel-Air, or Power Rangers. Dustin is mine though!
Ben slowly opened his eyes and groaned when he heard a loud, rather annoying sound from beside him, trying to determine the source of the irksome noise that had roused him from sleep. He then raised his head off the pillow and searched for the phone in the dark, hoping that his actions weren't waking Abigail as she slept. Finally finding the phone, he picked it up and brought it to his ear.
"Hello?" he asked, his voice thick with sleep as he laid his head back against the pillow. He had noticed from the glowing alarm clock next to the bed that it was almost three in the morning.
Ben's eyes shot open when he heard the quiet, shaking voice. "Riley? What's wrong?" he said anxiously but quietly, quickly sitting up on the edge of the bed. Abigail stirred a little and turned over beside him, but she remained asleep.
There was a small laugh on the other end of the line. "Ben, I'm sorry that… that I called this late…" Riley muttered.
"No, don't be," Ben told him in an assuring way, able to tell that something was very wrong. "What's wrong, Riley? Are you all right?"
"No, not really." This was not the response that Ben had been hoping to hear. "Ben… I just wanted to tell you that my… my dad died about a half hour ago…"
Ben's eyes widened as concern overtook him. His younger friend sounded so helpless, so lost. He had never seen this side of Riley. He was normally so confident. "I'm so sorry, Riley…"
"Ben, I need you."
The quiet statement caught Ben off guard. It was so simple, yet so heart wrenching. He had been friends with Riley for a long time, but he had never heard him say those three words before. I need you.
Ben glanced back at the sleeping Abigail and then at the clock on the nightstand beside the bed, watching as the three' o'clock hour approached. "All right. I'll be right there," he said. "Hold on, all right?"
"See you in a bit." Ben hung up the phone and rushed to his closet, quickly picking some pants and a shirt and throwing the outfit on. Then, he scribbled a note to Abigail to tell her where he had disappeared and explained the situation in case she should wake up to find him gone. On his way out, he grabbed a light jacket to shield him against the summer breeze and his Walkman, blaring it as he hurried to his car to try to wake himself up. Ben started the car and backed out of the driveway, not wasting any time in driving to Riley's apartment, which was fortunately only about ten minutes away.
Ben parked in the closest spot he could to his friend's building, not minding that it was a handicap space. He quickly locked the car and rushed inside, hurrying to the second floor where his best friend lived. As he reached Riley's door, he was slightly alarmed to see that it was open a crack. He knocked quietly.
Ben slowly opened the door and entered the living room, met with a heart wrenching sight that he knew he should have been prepared for. Riley was lying on the couch with his head propped up against a pillow, his hair disheveled and appearing smaller than he normally did. The small television in front of him was showing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but he didn't seem to be watching it since the CD player behind him was softly playing "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi. Ben noted that he really wasn't paying attention to either media. He just seemed to be gazing off into space. The computer whiz didn't even seem to notice him, and his response of "come in" must have been automatic.
At the sound of Ben clearing his throat, Riley jumped as he realized that his friend was there for the first time. "Oh, Ben," he said as he quickly sat up on the couch, seeming flustered. "I didn't… hear you… um… Oh, there's some pizza if you want some. I think it's probably cold though…"
The treasure hunter followed the younger man's hand as he gestured toward the small table in front of the couch. An open box of a nearly entire large pizza sat beside the remote control. Ben smiled when he saw that it was sausage and pepperoni. His favorite. And sometimes pizza tasted better cold anyway.
"Bon Jovi," Ben commented with a small smile after he sat down on the couch beside Riley. "Nice."
"Yeah. He's my dad's favorite musician," Riley muttered as a hint of a smile appeared on his face but then vanished immediately when he heard what had come out of his mouth. "Or was… And this was his favorite show…"
"Who brought the pizza, Riley?" Ben asked quickly, trying to change the subject as he grabbed a piece. It was indeed cold, but that didn't mean it still didn't taste good.
Riley seemed caught off guard for a moment. "What? Oh, the pizza… My older brother, Dustin, brought it about half an hour ago. His girlfriend is the owner of a pizzeria, so that's how he was able to get it this late. He left right before I called you."
Ben nodded, now understanding why Riley hadn't called him immediately when his father had passed on. At least he hadn't been alone. That was the worst thing that could have happened…
"I didn't know you had a brother," Ben commented, grapping another piece of pizza. He didn't know why he was so hungry at three in the morning. "Why didn't you ever tell me that you had a brother?"
"Oh, well, it never really came up in conversation. As I recall, you never asked if I had a sibling," Riley replied, trying to add some of his sarcastic humor into his response. "But, I don't know. I guess because we've always had this deep-seeded rivalry and we sort of went our separate ways during high school."
Riley laughed a little. "Let's just say that it all began years and years ago when he both had a crush on the Pink Ranger."
Ben smiled, remembering those days clearly. "Well, at least he still came to be with you for a little while," he said.
Riley sighed as he leaned back against the couch. "Dustin and I were both close to Dad," he muttered in a voice barely above a whisper. "He was the only one we had after… after my mom died. I was six, Dustin was ten. Our dad raised us on his own, somehow able to miraculously commit himself to everything that we both did during school. Sporting events, concerts, conferences, you name it. Sometimes it seemed that he was even in two places at once. He was incredible, Ben…"
A sigh escaped from Ben as he watched his best friend. He felt terrible. Riley was now parentless, and he still had both of his. Though he could tell that the computer whiz was trying to act as though he was perfectly fine about the whole situation, Ben could tell that he was being torn apart on the inside. There was no way that he was going to leave Riley alone that night.
"Look, Ben. If you're expecting some kind of sob-fest, you're not gonna' get one," Riley muttered, suddenly extremely interested in the end of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode. "It's already happened…"
Ben placed his hand on Riley's shoulder, waiting until the younger man looked back at him before speaking. "Riley, you can't pretend that you're completely over your father's death when it's only a little after a half hour later," he told him. "I remember when my grandfather died. It hurts terribly, and it's a wound that will take a long time to heal. Trust me, I know what you're going through. I know the pain."
Riley seemed to want to say something, but then he stopped and looked away. Ben only tightened his hand on his shoulder. "Grab your blanket and pillow, Riley."
"Why?" Riley asked, confused as he watched his older friend get to his feet.
Ben turned back to him. "You're coming to my house tonight," he answered. "I'm not letting you stay here on your own. Just think of it as being a sleepover."
Riley looked at him for a long moment without saying anything, his mind processing all of what had just been said. Then, he sighed as he shakily stood up, turning off both the television and the CD player before grabbing the pillow he had been laying against and a blanket that was folded up on the end of the couch.
Ben was leading the way to the door when Riley suddenly stopped. "Forgot something," he mumbled, going back through the living room and opening another door, disappearing inside for a moment. He soon reappeared carrying his trusty laptop. "All right," he said when he approached the older man. "I'm ready now. Ben… thank you…"
"Of course." Ben placed his arm around the young man's shoulders and led him out into the hall, taking his keys from him. He was about to close the door and lock the apartment, but stopped when his gaze landed on a picture that was sitting on the messy table beside the pizza box that he hadn't noticed before.
It was a picture of Riley and his father.
A/N: As I said before, this wasn't meant to be a oneshot, but it just kind of worked out that way. Thank you for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thanks!