The Life of the President's Son
This harsh and incessant sound came from the President's famous brown chair behind the desk in the Oval Office. However, it wasn't the President that sat in the chair; rather, it was his son. Riley Keith Poole sat in the big brown spinny chair with a frown on his face, having been forced into the office by his mother. According to her, he had succeeded in going through his fifth Secret Service agent in a month, and, as always when his agent quit, he was forced to go through the pleasantries of meeting the new one.
Ten minutes had gone by since Riley's mother had told the twenty-two year old to sit on the couch, and in his opinion, they had been ten of the longest minutes of his life. (Or so he thought every time he was forced to meet the new agent that would ruin his life…until he made the new suit quit, that is.) Riley had only stayed sitting on the couch until his mother had shut the door behind her, then immediately had moved to the President's spinny chair.
Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee – "
Riley looked up mid-spin to see his father walk into the office, followed by the newest suit-of-the-week. This one, however, looked somewhat familiar to Riley. In fact, (he wasn't sure, but would probably bet some of his father's money on it) Riley had a hunch that this was one of his father's best Secret Service men; one that travelled everywhere with the President.
The President cleared his throat, and Riley immediately jumped out of the chair. (President Poole was one of the most well-liked Presidents to date, but he could be a very formidable man when the need arose.) Still standing behind the desk, Riley cocked his head to the side, almost as if to ask, "What d'you want with me? I'm here, aren't I?" Waving his right hand in a gesture that clearly said "come here," the President watched his son walk out from behind the desk and over to his side. Both father and son then turned to look at the man standing a little ways back into the room. He was dressed crisply in a gray suit, earpiece in his right ear, sunglasses reflecting the light shining in through the Oval Office windows. Looking down at his son, the President spoke.
"This is Special Agent In Charge Benjamin Gates. He's been on my staff since I was Governor, and he's one of my best men," President Poole said, looking down at his son. "Don't screw with him, Riley."
Riley looked up at his father, in his slick blue suit with the American flag pin attached neatly to the lapel of his jacket. His eyes sparkled behind his glasses (much like the ones his son wore), but Riley understood the message hidden in their depths. He couldn't remember his father speaking this highly of any man in the Secret Service before, SAIC or otherwise. This man – Gates, or whoever he was – must have done a lot to earn praise like that from the President of the United States. Nodding at his father, Riley spoke.
"I get it. Don't mess with Gates. There's only one problem: I never intend to mess with your men, Dad. They mess with me first."
"Riley…" the President said, a small threatening tone present in that single word.
"Okay, okay. You like this guy. I get it. Can I go now?"
Riley looked up at his father with a bored expression on his face, at the same time pushing his glasses back up his nose. The President looked at his son, trying to evaluate silently exactly how much of that speech the younger man had actually absorbed, rather than just blown off. After about thirty seconds of silent thought, he nodded. Riley bounded across the room, pulled open the door to the Oval Office mid-bounce, and left through the doorway, humming loudly. SAIC Gates turned to follow the younger man out the door, but stopped when the President called his name. Turning back around, he spoke, pulling his sunglasses off in the face of the President.
"Riley can, quite frankly, be a pain in the ass some of the time, but I know you. You're one of my best men, and you can handle him. I have faith in you," Mr. Poole said, smiling at the other man. "However, if he does decide to give you trouble, and you've tried everything in your power to get him to behave and he still won't, come to me. I'll see to it that he listens."
Ben Gates, who had been standing silently in front of the President with an unreadable expression on his face, cracked a smile for the first time.
"Thank you, sir. I'll do that, sir."
"Now go look after my son."
"Yes, sir," Ben said, turning to leave.
"Yes, sir?" Ben asked, wheeling around again to face the President.
"I'd check his room first. Wherever his computer is, that's usually where he is."
Smiling again, Ben spoke.
"Thank you again, sir. See you around."
Riley Poole bounded out of the Oval Office, his intent being to get as far away from his father and that stupid Secret Service agent as possible. Why did he need a Secret Service guy following him anyway? So what if he was the President's only son? He was twenty-two, for crying out loud! No normal twenty-two year old had a constant babysitter that followed them everywhere. In his mind, it just wasn't normal…and that was part of the reason why he had gone through five agents in the past month alone. He didn't have any hatred against them personally; it was just the job that they did.
Riley made his way through the maze of hallways that stood between the Oval Office and his own bedroom in the East Wing, humming the whole way. It didn't really matter what he was humming – it didn't really have a steady tune anyway – all that mattered was that he was humming. Humming made Riley very happy for some reason, and it often drew weird looks from the Cabinet and other staff members that passed him. Finally, after walking through the winding hallways and up staircases for about five minutes, Riley arrived at the door to his bedroom. Still humming to himself, he turned the doorknob, ignoring the look he gained from the maid as she walked by. He silently shut the door behind himself before taking in the sight of his room.
Riley's room was …well, something else. The walls and dressers were covered with things he had made, pictures he had taken, and posters of various bands and movies. Only in Riley's room could you find a poster of Indiana Jones on the wall, a Beatles CD in his laptop, and Paradise Lost sitting on the bookshelf. Despite seeming random, all of these pieces put together helped define Riley as a person, if one could define a person through pictures and things. Riley loved all of his things, but one of the most important to him was his laptop (and the extensive list of hacker codes taped to the desk next to it).
Crossing the room, Riley sat down at his desk and began typing away at his laptop. Within seconds, the sounds of Quiet Riot filled the air, and Riley smiled. Slowly, things were getting back to normal. No sooner had this thought crossed his mind, however, than did a knock sound on his bedroom door. In response, Riley turned the music up louder.
Riley turned his gaze away from his laptop and onto the door. When another knock didn't sound on the door after fifteen seconds, Riley grinned. His expression did a complete one-eighty, turning into a frown, as the bedroom door opened, revealing Ben Gates. Stopping the music playing from the laptop, Riley stood up, glaring at the older man.
"What do you want?"
Ben didn't respond immediately. He stood stock-still in the doorway, sunglasses still resting on his nose (which, in Riley's opinion, looked really stupid, seeing as they were inside), the only motion made was his chest rising and falling slightly with each breath. Despite being angry at having his privacy violated (but since when did he really get any privacy anyway?), Riley couldn't help but take in the (he hated to admit it) impressive sight that was Ben Gates. The first three words that came to mind were tall, dark, and handsome, but Riley quickly shook those away. His father had unintentionally made his life even more of a living hell than it already had been. The reason why? Ben Gates.
'Could my father have picked anybody worse than this guy? He's practically Mr. Right wrapped up in a nice-looking package…all that's missing is the big red bow on the top of his head!' Riley thought to himself, still glaring at Ben. 'WHY did my father have to make him my babysitter?'
Finally, after what felt like forever to Riley, Ben moved. Reaching up, he grabbed the sunglasses off his nose and brought them down to his side, all the while fixing Riley with a glare that rivaled Riley's own.
"This doesn't have to be difficult."
Riley raised his eyebrows, looking at the older man in total surprise.
"Difficult? You think I'm making this difficult?" Riley asked, half-shouting as he rose from his chair.
"Yes," Ben replied simply.
"UGH!" Riley yelled as he stalked towards the door. "You're just like my father! I'm twenty-two! I don't need a babysitter!"
"Riley – " Ben began, but it was too late.
Riley had already marched out the door, turned right into the hallway, and was gone. Ben sighed as he put his sunglasses in the front pocket of his suit. He had been in the President's service for ten years now, and had practically watched the younger man grow up. Ben hadn't really interacted with the kid much, but he had always admired him from afar. He had spunk, was so full of life, and wasn't afraid to fight for what he believed in. When the President had told him that he was to be Riley's personal agent, it would have been lying to say that Ben wasn't happy about it. He had always hoped to be able to spend a little time with the kid, but had never been able to because of his job. Now, with this job, he had the chance. The only problem was that Riley didn't like him. Ben represented everything the younger man hated: rules, the man, and the end to all rebellion. Personally, Ben wasn't surprised, but he did wish that things were different.
Heaving another sigh, Ben left Riley's room, and after shutting the door behind him, began the search for the President's son once more.
Two weeks had passed since Ben had been assigned to Riley as his personal Secret Service Agent, and in that time, Riley had managed to evade Ben's watchful eye seventeen times. Ben had known from that meeting the very first day that Riley wasn't going to make things easy for him, but to be brutally honest, he had underestimated the kid's sense of creativity by a longshot. Out of those seventeen times, ten had Riley being reprimanded within the first hour, five within two hours, and the last three, upwards of four hours. Having lived in the White House for almost a year now, Riley knew the ins and outs of the place almost better than the Secret Service themselves. (He had even gone as far as using the ventilation system in the ceiling as a last resort hiding spot. It would have taken Ben a lot longer than an hour to find him if his allergies hadn't acted up.)
It had gotten to the point where Ben didn't even have to open his mouth in order to piss Riley off. Earlier in the afternoon, the two had been sitting in the library, Ben reading a magazine, Riley doing his homework (in between shooting glares at Ben across the table) when Riley had suddenly gotten fed up. He had fed Ben the line of "I need to use the bathroom," (which now that Ben reflected on it, was extremely stupid of him to fall for) and left the room. After fifteen minutes, Ben had rolled his eyes behind the sunglasses and started looking for him. That had been four hours ago.
The sun was starting to sink below the horizon as Ben exited the White House through the kitchen's glass double doors. He had looked everywhere for Riley inside (from the movie theatre's projection room to the top shelves of the library bookcases to the enormous kitchen pantry), and had finally come to the (somewhat scary) conclusion that he wasn't inside the building. To be honest, Ben was nervous. Hell, nervous didn't come anywhere close to what he currently felt. If he didn't find Riley outside, he'd have to make the trip to the President's office in the West Wing and let him know that his son was missing. That was a conversation he'd really rather avoid, if at all possible.
The sun's slanted rays tinged everything various shades of pink and red as Ben made his way across the front lawn. Looking around as he walked, Ben shook his head.
'Why am I even out here? There's nowhere here for him to hide, and Riley's not one to sit out in the open when he doesn't want to be found…'
By this point, Ben had canvassed the entire front yard (even though he really hadn't expected to find Riley out here). The sun was almost totally below the horizon now, leaving everything tinted reddish-gold. As his worry level increased exponentially with every step he took, Ben rounded the corner of the house and headed into the backyard.
The White House's backyard still wasn't very secluded, but it was much less open than the front. (The front was, of course, the side of the house that almost every tourist that had ever visited Washington D.C. had a picture of.) The only things here (other than open grass) were a couple of trees, a garden surrounding a small pond, and the gardener's cottage. For someone who loved finding new places to hide, this certainly wasn't Riley's type of place.
About twenty paces into the backyard, Ben stilled, surprise written clearly on his face. There, sitting on the front steps of the gardener's cottage, in plain sight, was Riley. The younger man was staring almost absentmindedly at the ground, twirling a dandelion between his hands. It was clearly obvious to Ben, who was hidden under the shade of a giant oak tree, that something was bothering Riley. His posture radiated tension and anger, even from two hundred feet away. Drawing a deep breath and bracing himself for the worst, Ben began walking towards the gardener's cottage.
Riley, who had been sitting on the cottage steps for the past five hours, looked up at the sudden intrusion of noise into his world of silence. (Granted, the only noise was the sound of Ben's footsteps in the grass, but to someone who'd been sitting in silence for hours, even the smallest noise seemed significant.) His eyes, which were missing their normal sparkle, made contact with Ben's sunglasses for a couple of seconds before finding the dandelion in his hands once more.
Ben, who had felt the tidal wave of relief rush through him a minute ago, found himself suddenly fuming. After seven hours of searching for the President's son – the son who didn't seem to appreciate the position in which he found himself – Ben had finally found him, only to notice that the younger man didn't care. He didn't know why this bothered him so much; after all, hadn't Riley made it clear to him on that first day that he didn't want somebody following him around all the time? Taking those final steps towards the cottage, Ben shot a hard look at Riley before sitting down on the stairs next to him.
The two sat in silence for about five minutes before Ben spoke, his tone harsh.
"Do you have any idea how worried I was?"
Riley didn't answer, just continued to twirl the dandelion around in his hands. Ben heaved a frustrated sigh, at the same time grabbing his sunglasses off his noise and glaring at the young man beside him.
"Really, do you have any idea?"
"Do you know what would have happened if I couldn't find you?"
That made Riley look up. The two locked gazes, and it was at this point that Ben was able to identify the odd emotion behind the blue irises. Sadness.
A minute or so more of silence passed as Riley continued to play with the dandelion. Ben shook his head, looking out at the gardens in front of him. Suddenly, Riley spoke, taking Ben somewhat by surprise.
"I have no idea."
The tone of Riley's voice – monotonous, quiet, and slightly sad – only fueled Ben's anger further. Turning on the stairs so that his body was facing Riley, he spoke, volume increasing with every word.
"I would have had to go to your father – the President of the United States – and tell him that his son, his only son, was missing."
Ben paused, trying to figure out what was going through Riley's head.
"And do you know how that conversation would have gone? NOT WELL."
By this point, Ben was a little surprised at two things. One, he found himself standing up (making it seemed like he towered over Riley), even though he never remembered moving, and two, he found himself wondering why Riley hadn't really reacted yet. Normally, the two would get into arguing matches that could be heard wings over inside the building. Despite Riley not liking him, Ben knew the kid well enough to realize that he wasn't one to let people boss him around or berate him for something. No, not at all. Riley was the type of individual who would yell right back at you, defending his point of view to the ends of the earth. This, then, posed a question. Why wasn't Riley reacting?
Ben, who suddenly realized that he'd been standing over Riley for the past two minutes without saying a word, walked a couple paces away from the stairs, sighing angrily. As he looked out over the yard and the Washington D.C. street beyond, Riley spoke, his tone shaking out of anger and frustration.
"I don't care!"
Ben slowly turned on the spot, one eyebrow raised.
"You don't care?"
"No, I don't!" Riley retorted angrily, getting up off the steps and crossing the garden to where Ben stood in a matter of seconds. "I don't care that you spent God knows how many hours searching for me, or that you were worried, or that you'd have to tell my father."
Ben's eyebrows were both raised at this point, interested in this reaction he had gained from the younger man. Despite the fact that the two were almost chest-to-chest (Riley only reached Ben's shoulders) and that Riley was yelling, Ben made no move to back up.
"I know what you think of me," he snarled. "You think I'm some stuck-up, pain in the ass, good-for-nothing kid whose sole purpose in life is to wreak havoc and destruction for his suit of the week! And you wanna know something?"
Riley paused, eyes gleaming brightly, chest heaving.
The words were soft, but they carried the message across almost as loud and clear as if he had still been yelling.
"You don't know me at all. There's so much about me that you don't know or care to learn, it could fill the whole damn library!" Riley's voice, that had begun in a soft tone, had risen to a shout once more as he pointed back towards the White House behind him.
Taking a deep breath and shaking his head, Riley turned away from Ben and began quietly walking back towards the house. He stopped suddenly, however, when Ben spoke, his words quiet and his tone light.
"What don't I know?"
Riley turned slowly on the spot, eyes still gleaming brightly. Just as slowly, he began the walk back towards Ben, stopping when they were two inches apart.
"You really care about what you don't know?" Riley asked, shaking his head as he spoke. "Why would you want to know? You're just fucking with my head!"
Ben smiled slightly before speaking, the first emotion he had shown other than anger in the past seven hours. The action only served to ignite Riley's anger further.
"I have no reason to fuck with your head, as you so bluntly put it. Did it ever occur to you that I might actually be interested in getting along?"
Riley's eyes flashed dangerously as these words passed Ben's lips. Taking a deep, angry breath, he shook his head.
"Fine! You wanna learn what you don't already know? Fine! You don't know that I hate being the President's son. You don't know that I've wanted nothing better than to leave this damn perfect White House ever since I moved in. You don't know that I lost most of my friends because of my dad's campaign. Hell, I didn't even vote for him! And you don't know that I really don't hate you, I like you a hell of a lot more than I should, and that's wrong in more ways than I can count, and –" Riley's eyes widened as he realized what had just come out of his mouth, "I'm going to shut up now."
Riley blushed deeply, the scarlet coloring discernable even in the low evening light. Without another word, he turned away from Ben and began walking back towards the glass double doors of the library. Ben, recognizing the fight-or-flight response from the younger man, quickly called out and started after him.
Riley stopped with his hand on the door to the library, his body still as a statue while he listened to Ben's approaching footsteps. His heart, which had been beating quickly with his screaming rant of two minutes ago, now seemed to have vanished when it fell through the floor. All that was left was a sense of unavoidable dread, horror, and embarrassment. Riley was painfully aware of Ben's presence behind him, but still jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Ben, using the hand that he already had strategically placed on Riley's right shoulder, began slowly turning the younger man around. Riley let the older man guide his motions, providing no resistance due to the fact that his brain was trying to deal with the panic that was currently running through his mind. If there was one thing that Ben had noticed, both while watching him grow up and chasing him during the past two weeks, it was that Riley did a lot of rash and unexpected things when he was stressed out and not thinking straight. This observation, however, didn't help prepare him for Riley's next move.
Riley, somewhere between facing the library's glass door and Ben's nose, decided that there was no explanation on earth that could get him out of this situation, and found that the phrase 'actions speak louder than words' actually did have a proper place in a conversation. Without leaving himself any time to change his mind (or get cold feet, as the case would have been), Riley grabbed Ben by the lapel of his suit coat and pulled him down for a kiss.
No matter what Ben had been expecting, it certainly wasn't this. However, he wasn't the Special Agent In Charge of the President's son for nothing; he was used to adapting to unfamiliar situations. Ben had enough sense (and was surprisingly aware enough) to move the younger man from in front of the library's glass doors to leaning up against the side of the house before he turned his brain over to pure feeling.
Riley threaded his hands through Ben's neatly combed hair, making it stick up at odd (but Riley would later call them adorable) angles. One of Ben's hands rested on Riley's lower back, the other on his hip, pulling the younger man as close as he could get without physically merging their atoms. After thirty seconds of pleasurable entanglement, the two men broke apart, both breathing heavily.
Riley's eyes gleamed even in the darkness, matching the sparkle echoed in Ben's own blue irises. Riley, looking into Ben's eyes, quirked one of his patented half-smiles, and decided that he liked that look on Ben's face, and that he wanted to see it there more often. Ben's thoughts seemed to follow the same pattern as he stepped back a couple paces to look at the younger man. Riley's clothes were no longer neat, his hair stuck up at an angle on one side, and for the first time Ben could remember in his presence, he looked happy. Slightly embarrassed, but happy. Rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly while leaning back against the wall of the White House, Riley spoke.
"I, uh, didn't mean to mess your hair up like that…or really do any of this," he said quietly, blushing.
"But you did."
"Well, yeah," Riley replied, looking up at Ben with sparkling eyes. "I couldn't find the words, and well, it's obvious that we both enjoyed that more than any explanation I could come up with."
Ben, looking down at his grinning companion, couldn't help but smile. There was something about this kid – the same kid who had been driving him up the wall for the past two weeks straight – that he couldn't help but like…maybe even love. Nodding his head, still smiling, Ben pulled the younger man into a hug, at the same time speaking softly in his ear.
"You know, I'm putting my job in jeopardy by doing this."
Riley, who had laid his head down on Ben's chest while accepting the hug, looked up to meet the older man's blue orbs. The smile had vanished from his face, and his expression made it look like one wrong word from Ben would break him.
"B-but, I thought…Ben?"
Ben quickly gave Riley a squeeze, trying to reassure him that everything would be okay. The last thing Ben wanted to do after what had just happened was to scare the younger man away. Running a hand through Riley's hair, he spoke.
"I didn't say it wasn't worth it."
Some of the light seemed to re-ignite in Riley's eyes at this comment; hope was clearly written all over his face, despite being mixed in with some confusion.
"Then…what?" Riley asked, still puzzled. "I didn't kiss you against the White House wall only to have you and the government turn on me all at once. What's it gonna be, then, Ben?"
Ben smiled, ruffling his younger companion's hair.
"We'll just have to speak with your father, that's all."
Riley stepped back from Ben's embrace, looking at him with a mix of shock and awe. Running a hand through his hair (as he often did when frustrated or stressed), the younger man spoke.
"You – you'd tell my father, the President, that you want to – what? What is this, anyway?" Riley asked, gesturing with both hands at the two of them.
"That I want to date his son, or whatever else his son requests," Ben replied swiftly, his eyes twinkling mischievously at the implication behind his words.
Riley stayed still for a moment before launching himself into Ben's arms, grinning like a little kid on Christmas. Kissing him swiftly, Riley then let go of the older man and went about straightening his hair, all the while blushing profusely. Ben laughed at this, the first true laugh he'd had in a while. It felt good to let your feelings out every once and a while, and when that action bought you time with that special someone, well…even better. Slinging his left arm around the younger man's shoulder, Ben used the other hand to open the door.
"Well, let's go see the President."
Riley nodded, then grinned mischievously. Ben cocked his head to the side, wondering what was going through his younger companion's mind.
"Don't worry about your job. I have pull within the White House. I know people."
Ben laughed, the sound echoing throughout the empty library.
Riley, never being one to make quiet entrances, threw open the doors to the Oval Office without knocking. Ben, knowing that a relationship with Riley would mean many more experiences like this one (but not necessarily caring), thanked his lucky stars that the President was the only one in the office. He didn't even want to think about what might have happened if Riley had opened the doors on a meeting with the entire Cabinet. The pure thought made Ben shiver.
President Poole had looked up from the papers in front of him at the sound of the doors banging off the walls, only to find his son bounding happily towards him. The President smiled (which Ben took as a very good sign), but the expression turned into one of confusion as Riley stopped in front of the desk, suddenly looking nervous. Ben, figuring he better make an entrance before the questions started flying, walked into the room quietly, coming to stand next to Riley with a hand on the younger man's shoulder.
"Well, well. This certainly is a first," the President said, smiling. "You two seem to actually be getting along. Or am I reading into this too much?"
Ben managed a small smile at the joke, wishing there was an easier way to ask the President of the United States of America such a personal question.
"Sir, there's something I'd like to ask you," Ben said slowly, feeling Riley shove a hand inside one of his jacket pockets.
"Dad, am I allowed to date White House staff?"
The question, which neither Ben nor the President had been expecting, caused both men to turn and stare at the young computer whiz.
"Riley – " Ben began, but was cut off by the sound of laughter.
Both Riley and Ben looked up to find the President in peals of laughter. Both men also had shared looks of confusion written on their faces. Finally, after two minutes of straight laughter, the President managed to compose himself enough to get out a response.
"I can't believe it took you two weeks to figure this out!"
Riley and Ben shared a puzzled look before both turning to look back at the President. Ben was experiencing a sense of wonder; could the President really have…?
"Dad!" Riley said indignantly, hands on his hips, face torn between anger and excitement. "You set me up!"
"Sure did," the President replied, grinning. "I figured that a sure way to make you stop forcing my agents to quit was to find somebody you liked…really liked."
Ben was stunned. Sure, he had liked the President before, but now? The President of the United States had just played matchmaker with his son!
"Mr. President – " Ben began, but was cut off once again.
"You don't even have to ask. Now, you boys run along."
"Yes, sir!" Riley replied, grabbing Ben's hand as he turned to race out of the Oval Office.
Riley stopped half-in, half-out of the room, Ben stumbling to regain his balance at the sudden lack of force on his wrist. Turning around, he gave the President a questioning glance.
A grin so wide it might have been powered by Washington D.C. itself spread on Riley's face. Grinning at Ben for a moment before turning back to look at his father, Riley replied.
"Believe me, I have no reason to behave."
A/N: Well, there you have it. My first ever AU fic, National Treasure or otherwise. Hope you enjoyed! R&R, please!