Author's notes: First full-length chapter. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee...
What the heck had he been thinking? Riley sat in what Abigail had labeled "the sitting room" while he waited for Ben to come down the stairs. He was "in the shower," Abigail had said. Of course, that was before she walked up the stairs.
In the shower. Sure. If by "in the shower" they meant "kissing passionately in the bedroom," he would buy it. They were always so lovey-dovey now. Riley knew that Ben would propose to Abigail any day now; it was inevitable.
He hadn't seen much of them lately. Abigail went back to her job at the National Archives, Ben found a seventh grade American History class that needed a teacher, and Riley…
What had happened to Riley? He went back to his office job. The same boring cubicle he had known since he graduated college.
They were falling apart again, and he knew it.
Ben never called him anymore unless he needed something, like that spare turkey on Thanksgiving. Or that centerpiece for the Labor Day picnic.
So why had he called this time? It wasn't a holiday. No, it was just an ordinary day in April. But whatever it was, Riley braced himself to be asked to do something.
Finally, Benjamin Franklin Gates walked down the grand staircase of his Virginia manor. "Well, Mr. Poole," he said smugly, "long time no see!"
It had, in fact, been quite a while since Ben had seen his friend.
"A month and a half. Yeah, I'd say so," the younger man said.
Ben made his way over to the couch.
Riley half-listened as Ben said something about how the couch was from the Civil War era, and how he and Abigail had recently re-upholstered it with red velvet.
Abigail, Abigail, Abigail. It was a beautiful name; so graceful, and describing its owner perfectly. Unfortunately, it was also ripping his friendship with Ben apart. Somehow, that made the gracefulness of it turn into a fury of violence. At least in Riley's mind. He let his mind wander a bit while Ben ranted. He could picture Abigail ripping apart a picture of Ben and Riley laughing, the glossy paper turning into that awful white edging that happens when you rip photos...
"Well, I see that you haven't changed," Ben stated, amused.
That broke Riley out of his boredom-induced space-out session. "Hmm? Oh, uh, yeah."
It was true. Nothing had changed. Sure, his hair was a little longer, but after being chastised by his mother at his monthly lunch date with her, he had planned to get a haircut the next day. But he was only doing it because she was paying for it. He honestly couldn't care less if his hair got a little shaggy. It wasn't like he would be going anywhere anytime soon.
The little apartment in downtown D.C. was now home to one person. It was a mess; the remains of ramen noodles, TV dinners, and pizza lined the floor as extra insulation. Not that he needed it. He was just lazy.
Abigail had changed everything.
"So, uh, what did you want to see me for?" Riley inquired.
Ben pretended to look hurt. "Can't a guy call his friend up and chat?"
"Since when do you use the word 'chat'?"
"Hey! That isn't funny, Riley."
"Yes it is. Get to the point, Mr. Passion."
Ben frowned. "So that's what it's about."
"Er… they found something at the National Civil War Museum last night."
Riley sighed. He knew where this was going. It was the same as the, "Hey, my grandpa told me this story when I was a kid, and I was wondering if you could…" conversation.
"Where do we need to go and why?" he asked. Here we go again, he thought.
Ben got up and started to pace around the small room as he talked. "When we found the treasure, an artifact dating back to around the Civil War was uncovered."
Riley raised an eyebrow. "But the treasure was sealed up-"
Ben waved off his friend's baffled tone.
"I know. That's what makes it so confusing. Especially since the artifact was a suit of armor with the Confederate flag on the left shoulder."
Riley was still confused. "Either someone missed the medieval times during the Civil War, or some mother was really paranoid about her son getting killed…"
"But that still doesn't explain why it was with the treasure," Ben pointed out.
"So someone snuck in and found the treasure before we did. Yippee for them," Riley replied.
"And left all of the treasure there? Something doesn't make sense."
Now it was starting to bug him. Here was something that wasn't hurting anything or anyone, and Ben wanted to go after it. What was the point? It was Ben's curiosity and lust for adventure and near-death experiences that forced him to get as excited as a schoolboy on the last day of school.
Riley sighed. "What do you want me to do about it?"
"Come with me to examine the suit of armor."
"No. I have a haircut tomorrow. I'm busy." So what if it was a lame excuse? He was contradicting himself left and right. He missed spending time with Ben. On the other hand, the older man would bring Abigail, and they'd find something to kiss about. And he didn't feel like going through another near-death experience anytime soon.
"Suit yourself," Ben replied, walking out of the room and into the kitchen.
Riley quickly followed, scampering along like a dog following a boy with meat in his pocket. "Wait. The dorky puns are my thing. Suit yourself? Love does strange things to people."
Ben chose not to comment, and took out a loaf of bread from the bread box to make a sandwich. He pulled turkey, provolone cheese, and a squeeze bottle of honey mustard from the fridge.
Ben went on ignoring Riley. He put a slice of bread on a pan, and set it on the gas stove. He took the honey mustard and drew a smiley face. As a final touch, he added a unibrow.
Ben placed a slice of cheese over the face, a slice of turkey over that, and then layered another slice of provolone. He put the second slice of bread on top.
Then he grilled it.
When the sandwich was fully cooked, he took out a red Fiesta-ware plate and placed it on top.
He took the plate, and, being sure that it passed Riley's nose, he set it on the kitchen table.
Defeated, Riley sat down at the table. "You drive a hard bargain, Gates." He attacked the sandwich. "Fine then, I'll go."
Ben stood beside him, looking amused with himself. "The unibrow sandwich always works for you, Mr. Haircut."
"Don't I know it," Riley mumbled, his mouth full of sandwich.
Author's notes: Yes, cheesy adventure lead-in. I know. And I was assuming that Ben and Riley DID NOT meet because of the treasure project. Just 'cause I felt like it. Review, please?? This is a more relaxed chapter than I normally write... Don't get used to it.