Summary: The Gates' Spectacular Mystery Theater Show is in need of a new magician's assistant. Riley Poole needs some extra cash and if he has to wear a red sequined gown to get some, then someone had better hand him his lipstick and matching pumps, because the show must go on.
Warnings: Cracky humor, cross dressing, maniacal!Abigail, slash, minor gropage, crazy old women, uh, sexual innuendo/humor.
AN: For the crack!fic challenge at the lj comm treasuregeeks. And because I just had to.
Riley Poole was not desperate. Never desperate, no. Perhaps merely enthusiastic in the hunt for rent money. No? Alright, how about passionate about not starving? Yes, that would do. He was very passionate about the concept of survival through the consumption of food. He doubted there was anyone else as passionate about it as he was. His rent hadn't been paid for the past three months and his awkward joke about paying the fee in sexual favors was becoming less and less of a joke and more and more of an outright plea.
Never let it be said that Riley Poole did not exhaust all his options.
And so here he was, proving indeed how passionate he was about consuming food at some point in the next few days. 'Here' was The Gates' Spectacular Mystery Theater Show, a tourist trap if Riley had ever seen one - but desperate people could not be choosers.
Or so he heard, not being one himself, of course.
What credentials did one need to work at a Spectacular Mystery Theater Show? Riley was not sure that 'being spectacular' or 'being mysterious' counted as talents and thus had no idea what would be required of him. He figured he'd get a clue when he got inside the damn building, but it was actually getting inside that was becoming rather tedious.
The entirety of the sidewalk just outside of the ridiculous looking building was filled to bursting with blonde, buxom, 20-something year olds - all of them very much female. Riley shifted his bag awkwardly, fiddling with the zipper on the pocket that held his only priceless possession - his laptop. It was a few minutes before any of the girls noticed that there was an intruder in their midst and one by one they turned to stare at Riley, who was nervously staring back. He had heard there was a job, just that, and hoped that they had room for a fairly compact and unobtrusive computer geek. He could be shoved anywhere really; eating only peanuts for a week had made him positively travel-sized.
"Alright! You all, listen up!" A woman had stepped from the front door of the building and Riley would've been unable to differentiate her from all the other inferiority-complex-inducing women around him had she not been carrying a clipboard with utter authority. "Anyone else with a Hooter's reference on their resume can go! We are a family business, now get a move on!"
Riley shouldn't have been so surprised at how much the sidewalk cleared in the next few minutes, but he was - unfortunately that left him rather wide eyed and bemused as he glanced around him to discover he was the only one left.
"No Hooter's reference?" The woman asked, a slight accent peeking through in her amusement as her gaze traveled up and down Riley's less than womanly figure.
"They asked, but I declined," Riley bit out before he could stop himself, "I told myself when I started out in this business that I wouldn't let my boobs do the talking for me." There was an awkward silence where Riley wished he had a gun and the woman looked like she wished he had one too.
"Come on in," she sighed, turning and re-entering the building quickly, not glancing behind her to see if Riley was following her. He had to trot quickly to keep up with her long strides, but the brisk pace kept his mind off of what might be coming next. What the hell had he gotten himself into?
"I'm sorry, there has to be some sort of misunderstanding here," Riley said desperately - er… passionately. "I'm just here for the job!" Abigail - as he had learned the woman's name was - gave him a look that spoke volumes. All of which said 'you are a complete idiot'.
"Yes, and you've got it." Riley blinked and halted, mid-step.
"I got the job?" he asked, utterly bewildered. Bewilderment melted into fear when he realized he still had no idea what this job would entail.
"Well, you're the only one left, so yes, the job is yours." Abigail had not paused in her deliberate steps down the hallway and Riley had to half scamper-half sprint after her, laptop bag banging against his side awkwardly.
"Uh, just a question - what is the job?" This time it was Abigail who halted mid-step, her tight-lipped smile becoming much more amused. Her eyes danced with amusement and she started laughing - wild, maniacal laughter that terrified Riley right down to the scuffed tips of his little Converses.
Whatever this was, it would not end well.
"No, no, no, no, annnnd no. Oh, and did I mention… no!" Riley was flailing madly, attempting to escape the crazy old women who were currently giggling and trying to shove him into a dress.
A dress. An honest-to-God, full-length-except-for-the-skanky-slit, tacky, red-sequined dress.
He ducked behind a rack of clothes, peering owlishly over it to find someone to pin the blame on. "I did not sign up for this!" He squawked in surprise as a hand quickly groped his butt, starting violently and careening headfirst into the clothes rack. He tumbled through to the other side, landing ass-first covered in ridiculous costumes and found himself staring up into the face of one of the giggling old women.
"Will fit!" She said with a heavy accent Riley couldn't recognize, "Plus, cute butt!" The rest of the ladies cheered and Riley slumped back into the rack, tugging an odd pair of gold and pink bike shorts from off of his head with a groan.
"I beg to differ," Abigail said in reply to Riley's protest. "You were in the line, clearly waiting for a job - I'd say that would qualify as signing up."
"I didn't realize there would be cross-dressing involved! Or crazy horny old women!" Here, the group of ladies cackled and Riley shuddered, "Wouldn't you prefer a woman anyway?" Riley asked with a faint note of desperation. "You know, someone that actually fit's the job description?"
Abigail shook her head and made a noise in her throat that sounded like a choked laugh. "If you fit the dress, you fit the job description." Riley took a deep calming breath and held it for ten seconds like his roommate had always instructed him. He generally still felt like punching the idiot ten seconds later, but it usually made his aim much better when he was focused and calm.
"I'm sorry," he said with something resembling composure, I really don't think this is going to work out, I-"
"And this is Benjamin Gates, co-proprietor of The Gates' Spectacular Mystery Theater Show," Abigail continued like he hadn't even been speaking. Riley turned to glare at her, but his gaze was caught halfway up. He was quick to admit that he was unashamedly curious as to who would own an insane place like this - there had been a stuffed cow in the entry way - and when he finally gazed into Benjamin Gate's eyes he found himself utterly speechless. Besides being clearly at least six feet tall, which was so much more distracting especially now that Riley was sprawled out on the floor, Ben Gates was every inch the confident and handsome business owner.
A squeaking, hiccupping noise could be heard and Riley hoped to god that that hadn't been him, but by the utterly amused look on Abigail's face, it was clearly too much to wish for. "Hi." That at least had come out half-way decently, if one ignored how Riley's voice cracked embarrassingly at the end of the syllable.
"Hello," Ben - as Riley was already thinking of him in his head - then did the worst thing possible. He smiled and Riley openly gaped. It was a slow building smile, first a quirk of the lips, a crinkling around the eyes - before it finally became a full-fledged grin, teeth and all. "Please, call me Ben," He offered a hand and Riley stared at it before pinching himself hard.
"Riley Poole," he replied back, taking the hand and moving to haul himself up. A split second later, he was off the ground and in Ben's arms, hands splayed awkwardly against a warm, firm chest. "Uh, uh," Riley stuttered, his brain not catching on quickly enough to push away until about fifteen seconds later when the awkward silence had become overwhelming.
"Sorry," Ben said, flashing another grin, "Don't know my own strength sometimes." Riley made a noise that he hoped expressed casual indifference even as his fingers itched to investigate broad shoulders.
"Riley here is unsure of whether he'll be staying with us here at TGSMTS." Riley would've been rather impressed that Abigail didn't stumble over the acronym had he not been wholly concerned with disabusing Ben of whatever Abigail had said.
"No, no, no! I mean, well, it's the, dress, and, well, yeah," Riley finished rather lamely, scuffing the toe of one of his sneakers against the linoleum floor, ducking his head. There was a rustle and Riley glanced up just in time for Ben to drop the hanger with the dress over his head, adjusting it absentmindedly at his waist. Riley held his breath, staring at Ben unblinkingly.
"I don't know," Ben said with a half-smile, "I think it suits you."
Riley missed the next two minutes of conversation between Abigail and Ben over some missing pyrotechnics program file and being unable to get in touch with the dude who designed it, simply staring at where Ben's hands rested at his hips. When Ben left the room a few seconds later, Abigail peered at Riley over her clipboard. "So, should I tell Ms. Trypsyzw to take your measurements or…" She trailed off meaningfully and Riley sighed and held his arms out to the side.
The show was apparently the next night, which gave Riley next to no time to learn what he was supposed to do as the magician's assistant. Riley didn't know who he was expecting when he stepped up to the stage an hour or so later, but it certainly wasn't Ben, surrounded by various tables and scarves and odd looking things.
"You're the magician? I thought you owned the place?" Riley blurted out before his brain caught up to his mouth. Which might actually work to his advantage, since that was clearly the longest and most coherent sentence he'd ever managed in Ben's presence.
Ben smirked and shrugged, expertly knotting a cape at his neck before adjusting it over his shoulders. "I'm more of a hands-on kind of person." Riley swallowed his slightly hysterical laughter with only minor difficulty. Hands-on was not conjuring images he was exactly comfortable with, especially with his boss only three feet from him.
"Of course," Riley said, abruptly changing the subject, "So, what's my role in all of this?"
Ben's eyes lit up and he fell into a detailed explanation of exactly what TGSMTS did. "A lot of the act is just patter, basic illusions the fill in a banter between the audience and the magician."
"Basic illusions?" Riley wrinkled his nose, this wasn't going to be a sucky show was it?
"Basic as in simple for me, interesting to see. Nothing like quarters from the ears," Ben plucked a quarter from mid air, "Or even a bunch of quarters," Ben withdrew both hands to display the twenty or so quarters that filled his joined palms, "But," he continued, dropping the coins into a conveniently placed plate, "sometimes bigger stuff, like birds." A hand went back to Riley's ear and withdrew, only to be holding a rather perturbed looking dove, that cooed bemusedly in Ben's direction. Ben smiled down at it, before replacing it in its cage.
Riley mouthed for a moment before he snapped back to reality. "Wicked!" He murmured, scurrying around to the other side of the table to watch Ben set up more tricks.
"There's some bigger stuff too that directly involves you and that's mostly what we'll be doing today, disappearing, switching, flipping and-"
"Dude, can you saw me in half!" Riley asked excitedly, peering up at Ben. There was a beat of silence before Ben's surprised laughter filled the air.
"You want to?" Ben asked, his eyes glinting. Riley nodded enthusiastically. "Perfect. I knew I couldn't have picked a better assistant," Ben said cheerfully, his hand dropping to Riley's shoulder before smoothing its way down his back. The hand paused at the small of Riley's back before returning to its owner's pockets.
Riley pretended like he hadn't shivered violently during the whole process and tried to pretend like he found the cape on Ben stupid rather than hot.
Three hours later and Riley had been "disappeared" ten times, sawed in half at least six and made friends with all twelve turtledoves that were in the show. He was tucking Holly, Molly, Dolly and Polly back into their cages, Ben having left him several minutes before to attend to some business that had come up, when laughter from off stage left caught his attention. He finished placing Wally in his own cage before tiptoeing over to the curtain and peering around it to spy on whoever had decided to hold their conversation in hearing range.
Ben stood with his back to Riley, facing a man Riley had seen bustling around the hallways carrying important looking documents. "Ben, are you sure you're making the right decision? We had all of those applicants-"
"None of which suited," Ben said firmly.
"And the scraggly little boy does?"
"He knows all the tricks Ian, fits the costumes and-"
"Ben, we could've gotten anyone to fit the costume! I'm just afraid that with your father gone, you're making some stupid decisions and-"
Because Riley couldn't see Ben's face, he missed the anger and resentment that shone fiercely across the man's face and heard only the words, "Well, he'll be good for business anyway, we collect the strange and odd here. What's cross dressing to add to the list?"
Riley stomped down on the bit of him that wanted to be hurt. Of course that was why he was here. He was strange and odd and out of place - worthy only of derision and mockery. And of course Ben turned out to be a bastard, it was always like that. Riley quietly hopped off the stage, grabbing his laptop bag as he went, exiting first the auditorium before heading towards the front door. He met Abigail on his way there and tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned to make some snappy comment about constantly being bothered, he cut her off before she could summon the energy.
"Sorry Abigail, but I'm afraid I won't be coming in tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience, but just tell your boss that no matter how good I am for business, I just don't think I'm odd enough to fit in here." Riley turned quickly, but not fast enough to miss the look of sympathy Abigail cast him before he scampered out the door and onto the sidewalk.
There was banging on his door at three in the afternoon and Riley was considering blowing up whoever it was who dared to bother him at such an obscenely early hour when he finally recognized the voice.
He would've liked to say he walked casually to the door, opening it with utter indifference, but that was rather impossible, considering he gained about six bruises from scrambling awkwardly across his living room and tripping and slamming into the door in his haste to open it.
"Abigail? What the hell are you doing here?" he asked blearily, still not quite awake despite the rather painful encounter with his front door. The blonde woman before him barely resembled the well groomed, confident organizer who had whipped the show into shape in hours only yesterday. Abigail's hair was everywhere, her clothes were rumpled and creased and she looked utterly and completely panicked.
"I know Ben probably screwed everything up yesterday, since he's been moping around pathetically since you walked out yesterday, but I desperately need a magician's assistant and I can't find one on such short notice and so many other things have gone wrong and none of the technical programs for the special effects are working and if just one thing would go right, perhaps I could manage all the others, but I don't even have time to re-tailor the dress to fit anyone else and would-"
"Abigail," Riley said calmly, inwardly astonished that he was actually the calm one in this situation, laying a hand on her shoulder. "I can't do it, Ben was very clear in-"
"Oh, just let him explain!" And with that, Abigail was hauling him out the door, giving him only enough time to grab his shoes, bag and jacket before she led him purposefully down the stairs and out of his apartment. He didn't even have enough energy to fight it, so he followed dutifully and silently.
Riley sat in a very comfortable swivel chair, kicking his feet and spinning absentmindedly as Abigail barked into her walkie-talkie. The seat over looked hundreds of controls and keyboards and monitors in the sound booth; apparently this was the part of the theater that controlled everything else and Riley would usually have been sneakily pressing buttons and pushing sliders, but for now he was just dying to be somewhere else.
"I don't care what the hell he's doing or how long he's been trying to drown himself, tell him to get his pathetic ass up here immediately!" Abigail finished, snapping the giant black walkie-talkie back to her belt as she turned on Riley. He shrunk back on instinct, staring at her with wide-eyes.
"Alright, next on the agenda. Find someone to fix this entire-" The door swung open and a fairly damp looking Benjamin Gates stormed in, eyes blazing.
"Abigail, what the hell do you think you're doing, calling me to-" Ben's eyes landed on Riley and his mouth snapped shut. "Riley!"
"I was getting your boy toy to come back here, simultaneously trying to figure out how to alert you to the fact that we have no special effects thanks to that useless know-nothing you hired who crapped out on us at the last second!"
"He didn't crap out, he had a baby!"
"Unless he was the one pushing the damn thing out, I really don't see how it was any of his business to leave us in the lurch, because we currently have nothing!"
"I'm sure there's something-"
"No Ben! Nothing!"
Riley was fairly sure that the argument would continue in this vein for several more minutes, so he took it upon himself to hook up his computer to the mainframe, check out exactly what was going on and proceed to fix it.
"Abigail, none of this is any of your business-"
"You guys?" This was Riley.
"None of my business?"
"No need to stick your nose where it doesn't belong,"
"So, I guess my opinion doesn't matter now, does it?"
"There you go with 'so' again! So!"
"YOU GUYS." It took Riley shouting at full volume for Abigail and Ben to shift their attention from their argument to the matter at hand. "I fixed it." This pronouncement received silence. "All that had to be done was calibrate the-"
"You fixed it?" Abigail nearly screeched. Riley winced, but nodded. Ben was staring at him with an indecipherable look that made Riley fidget awkwardly.
"It really wasn't that hard but now that it's fixed I suppose I can go now? So I'm just gonna head back," Riley stood, still speaking and gathered his things. He wasn't expecting to be pushed hard against the computer console and kissed within an inch of his life. Ben pulled back to gaze at Riley with that unreadable look in his eyes before he smiled hopefully.
Riley blinked, squeaked and nodded.
"Firstly, no boa, I'm allergic to feathers," Riley decreed and Ben nodded, removing the boa from the set costume pieces. "Secondly, sex on demand," Riley said, with narrowed eyes in Ben's direction. Ben smirked from his perch on the vanity in Riley's dressing room.
"I think that can be managed," Ben said dryly.
"My third condition is mphmumph-" Riley's third condition was swallowed by Ben's mouth on his again.
"Sorry," Ben said with a solemn smile, "Couldn't help it." Riley made a face in his direction but continued as if he hadn't been interrupted. He slipped on elbow length gloves and adjusted the straps on his dress.
"Third condition is I get free reign to play with the cool tech upstairs in the sound booth." Ben rolled his eyes, but settled his hands at Riley's hips, squeezing lightly in agreement.
"Whatever you say."
"I only have one last condition."
"You better respect me in the morning."
Ben smiled that slow, warm, toe-curling, shiver-inducing smile and Riley tried to tamp down on the urge to remove his cape with just his teeth.
"Always." Oh, so not fair.
"Oh, and I get to keep the shoes."
Ben smirked and Riley shivered. "Don't worry," Ben said with a dangerous note to his tone, "I was going to insist on it."
AN: I have a few more NT fics in the works, but once this one occurred to me, I just had to do it. Please tell me what you think, it only makes fics infinitely better when their authors get feedback. Please don't tell me it sucked, unless it did, then let me down kindly.