A/N: From the get-go, we must be clear that this is an AU story. Riley was adopted by Patrick when he was a little kid. All of this WILL be explained, and the differences in the story and the characters steam from this. I swear to you, this isn't going to be like reading the movie.
You can thank save changes to normal for a lot of these ideas. Seriously, she's the best brain-storming partner EVER.
Format info: this is going to be set up, due to a suggestion by save changes to normal similarly to Psych episode, in that there will be a corresponding flashback for almost every chapter. The flashback will come before the chapter that is set either during the movie or close to it.
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters, situations, or dialogue you recognize.
Summary: How would the story be different if Ben and Riley really were brothers? A lot more would change than you think…Some BoS spoilers.
Chapter 1: Family
Benjamin Franklin Gates was the most miserable fifteen-year-old on the face of the earth. He was completely sure of this, and there was nothing that anyone could say or do that would convince him other wise. After all, how many other fifteen-year-olds had to deal with a mid-life crisis their father had had years ago? Not many. Fewer still were going through one where their father had decided that he needed another KID to fill the empty space left in their family by Ben's mother leaving.
His father's logic was something to the extent of Ben needing a sibling to play with. It was flawed, at best, in the teenager's opinion. Even more so when he looked at the kids that were all running around screaming and laughing. He was far too old for play, and even if he wasn't these kids were too young to play with. Quite frankly, Ben didn't think his father had thought this through at all. He'd spent fifteen years as an only child and was perfectly content with that. He did NOT want to be in this room, surrounded by screaming, crying, giggling little kids.
For his part, his father was ignoring the icy glares the teenager was sending his way. Instead, he was surveying the room full of children with a wistful half smile. "Do you see any kids you like yet, Ben?"
"No. They're all loud. I don't like them." He wasn't going to go along with this, and his father couldn't make him. Patrick Gates may not care about Ben's happiness in the slightest, but that didn't mean Ben couldn't make this whole thing as difficult as possible.
"Ben," there it was, the scolding look over the glasses he'd been waiting for all morning, "you should at least try. You were fine when we were getting approved to adopt a kid."
Saying that this was only because he hadn't actually believed they would allow a single middle aged man to adopt a child sounded a bit beyond mean, even in Ben's own head, so he decided to keep it to himself. Instead, he opted for a, "I didn't realize they'd be so…sticky."
Patrick smiled and ruffled Ben's hair affectionately, ignoring him again as Ben ducked away with a scowl. "Maybe you'll find you like one once you get used to it. I'm going to get a drink. Why don't you at least try to get to know a few of them while I'm gone?"
Ben humphed, crossing his arms over his chest. Why even bother trying? These kids were ignoring him completely. In fact, they seemed almost skittish around him as they were keeping a good three feet between themselves and him. They wanted to go with him as much as he wanted them to. Besides, most of the kids here were so young! He wouldn't know how to talk to them anyway.
This whole thing was a dumb stupid idea, and NOBODY cared that he thought so. He was the one whose life was going to be disrupted! He was going to have to share everything, and play nice, and…
He was startled out of his mental tirade by a small hand on his arm. Looking down, Ben found himself looking into a pair of large and incredibly blue eyes, half-hidden behind wild strands of coffee colored hair.
It was one of the kids, probably two or three years old. The little boy grinned once he realized he'd gotten Ben's attention, revealing a mouth full of tiny teeth, and pushed a book into Ben's lap, "read?"
The teenage picked up the bright green book curiously, turning it around so he could read the title. He made a face at what he saw: "Yertle the Turtle and other stories".
"Read," the child said again, more forcefully this time. When Ben made no move to comply, the boy reached up and opened the book for him, before pointing to the words and saying slightly louder, "read me."
Ben quickly weighed his options. If he read the book, it might look to his father like he was cooperating when he returned, and Ben certainly didn't want to give him any ideas about this being a good thing. On the other hand, if he didn't, the kid might start to cry, and that was a far less appealing option.
He looked the toddler up and down, sizing up the screaming potential. He may have had a scrawny frame, accentuated by the baggy shorts and too large Philadelphia Flyers jersey, and may have seemed innocent enough with his untied shoes and all, but Ben wasn't fooled. Oh no, it would take more than that to delude a Gates. That kid had some serious screaming potential somewhere inside him, of this he was positive.
There was really no choice.
"On the far away island of Sala-ma-Sond, Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond," Ben began, only to be stopped by the little boy tugging on his sleeve.
"Uh, uh. Up!"
"Up," the boy said again, a slightly whiny tone in his voice, before he began forcefully trying to climb up into Ben's lap.
"Hey! Watch it! Stop!" Ben yelped in surprise, nearly dropping the book. He knew immediately that the harsh tone had been a wrong move as the blue eyes started to fill with tears. Groaning, Ben scooped the small boy all the way up into his lap. "Okay, okay. Better?"
The boy nodded, a grin spreading over his face and he pointed to the page. "More?"
"Sure." With a sigh, Ben adjusted the book so the child could see the pictures. "A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat. The water was warm. There was plenty to eat."
"Eat," the boy echoed with a giggle, pointing excitedly to the word on the page and grinning up at Ben.
Ben couldn't help the corners of his mouth twitching at the boy's excitement. "Yeah, eat. Good job, kid"
He was rewarded with another shy giggle and the boy trying to hide his face in Ben's shirt. Ben chuckled at the little boy and adjusted the book once again. "The turtles had everything turtles might need. And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed…"
By the time he'd reached the part of the story where the turtle at the bottom of the pile complained about his king's fascist ways, the little one was pretty much reading along. Every once in a while, he would point and ask "read me 'gain, p'ease?" and then would repeat it slowly with Ben's help.
This amazed the older boy, who was only to happy to see how much the tot could do. He expected very young children to ignore the words and just want a story based on the pictures. This little one seemed to have some sense that the words on the page corresponded with the ones coming out of his mouth. Ben hadn't spent much time around little kids, but he was fairly certain this wasn't normal behavior.
Once the story had ended, he smiled at the little boy who was looking up at him eagerly. "What's you're name, kid?"
"I is Ri'ey," he responded eagerly. "You?"
"Ben." He took one of the small hands in his much larger one and shook it. "Pleased to meet you, Riley."
At least, he hoped that Riley was what he'd meant to say, as it had sounded more like Rye-ee, which wasn't a name he knew of, but he'd noticed the little boy had a tendency to completely drop his 'l's.
No correction about the name was forthcoming, as Riley jumped off his lap and quickly came back with another book. "Read me 'gain, p'ease?"
Ben groaned inwardly. You give a kid an inch. "Gees, Riley, I don't know. My Dad might be coming back soon.
Riley's face fell and he looked down at his shoes, "then you has to go?"
He wasn't going to feel bad for the kid. Nope, Ben would not allow himself to be drawn in by this poor pitiful me act. No matter how sad those large eyes looked or how much Riley's bottom lip trembled. "Yeah, probably soon."
"Oh…you come p'ay more 'ater?" Riley looked up at him hopefully, still holding the book tight to his chest.
"I…don't know, Riley. Maybe."
The small face brightened instantly and he toddled over to sit next to Ben again. "Okay. Ben come p'ay 'gain. We friends?"
Ben opened his mouth, ready to correct this idea, when he heard his father speak from behind him, "I see you took my advice then."
Ben scowled over his shoulder at him; sure he'd been standing here for a while. Patrick just smiled at him and took a step toward the pair. Riley watched Patrick approach with wide eyes, half hiding behind the teenager.
"Hey there, kiddo. What's your name?"
Riley shook his head, turning to completely hide his face completely in Ben's side. It tickled, and Ben squirmed a little in response, which caused Patrick to smile.
"This is Riley," Ben muttered, trying to push the small boy out of his hiding place without much success.
"Hello, Riley. How old are you?" The older man smiled kindly, and Riley slowly held up his had with two fingers raised.
"This many…and one half."
Ben rolled his eyes at this, but Patrick simply chuckled. "You're sure a brave boy, Riley, making friends with my son all by yourself."
Riley almost glowed at the praise, slowly disentangling himself from Ben's side. "Ben nice. Ben my friend."
"I can see that," Patrick interrupted, shooting Ben a look the teen couldn't quite read. "How would you like Ben to come back and play with you on Saturday?"
The grin that split Riley's face looked almost painful as he nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! P'ease."
"Well, I think we can arrange that, Riley. I know Ben's excited about it too, aren't you, Ben?" His father looked at him expectantly, but Ben could only groan in response. His father had been sucked in by that evil charm!
Ben's opponent in the war to keep that status quo now had a name and a face, but that somehow wasn't encouraging because he had no idea how he was supposed to beat him.