A/N: This is a plot bunny I've had running in my head for a while. It contains brief language and kind of mature themes but nothing graphic. No slash.
Ben Gates paused briefly outside of the door of the hospital ward. A guard sat at a desk, writing something on a clipboard. Not exactly at his most alert, Ben thought.
There wasn't really a reason to be. The man in the room behind him was quite injured and it wasn't as if he could make a run for it anywhere. The power and money he had acquired turned out to be of no use to him in these prison confines.
The guard looked up at the visitor almost incredulously almost as if almost wondering why he would want to visit this man.
"You're here to visit Mr. Ian Howe?" he asked. Ben nodded uncertainly at the guard's suspicious look. He had become quite paranoid of police officers over the years. Even if he name was cleared it always felt like they knew the he broke multiple laws.
"Yes sir, I'm Benjamin Gates."
The guard nodded and looked slightly impressed. Then he opened his mouth with an "oooh" look of realization.
"So are you here to rub the treasure in this guy's face?"
"Um, well…" Ben said slightly taken aback. "We'll see."
"If anyone has the right to do that I'd think it would be you," the guard muttered looking over whatever was on his clipboard. Ben wasn't sure entirely why he had come, it partly due to curiosity. He had been toying with the idea of visiting Ian but the phone call prompted him to do so. Apparently Ian had been stabbed and seriously injured. Abigail and Riley told him he as crazy to go. So did his parents, especially his father. But here he was and he entertained the thought of bailing, but he knew he wouldn't.
"What's his relation to you? Friend?"
"Not friend," Ben said flatly.
"I apologize. Former friend?"
"Not friend," Ben said again. "He's a former associate."
"Fair enough," The guard muttered, finishing the paper work. Then he turned back to Ben, all business.
"Okay Mr. Gates, " he began to recite almost lazily. "You have a fifteen minute visiting time, before you go in I need to make sure you have nothing on you that can be potentially dangerous to the inmate or yourself."
Ben nodded in compliance and let the guard check him for any weapons or items he may have been concealing.
"You're good. I will come in when your visiting time is up."
"Thank you," Ben acknowledged and opened the metal door into the room. He wasn't sure entirely what he was going to expect. Images had been forming in his mind the whole drive here, but now that he saw Ian for the first time in over five years it was a little shocking.
Ian was lying in the bed of a one window stark white room, he only thing in it besides the various medical contraptions that were next to his bed. He was paler and more drawn then Ben remembered. The man had defiantly lost weight, his face appearing hallow and eerie, sporting the patented hardened prisoner look. The longish blond hair had been shaved making his appearance slightly alien.
As Ben walked in, Ian looked up and froze, his eyes wide. Then his surprised expression morphed into a cold sneer.
The two former associates looked at one another for a moment, the heart monitor beeping incessantly in the background. Ben didn't want to be the first man to say something.
"Well, why are you standing there? Sit down and make yourself comfortable," the Englishman offered sarcastically. Ben obeyed silently and took a seat next to the bed. Something caught his eye and he glanced briefly down at Ian's torso. A tight tourniquet had been wrapped around it but Ben could make out a few bloodstains.
"So Ben, did you come all this way to gloat over my misfortune or laugh at my grisly injury?"
"Neither, both, one or the other, you can pick." Ben wasn't sure himself why he decided to come. It was one of those crazy impulse decisions that he had that grated on him and wouldn't leave him alone. Not that he would ever admit that to Ian. "They told me you were stabbed, although I'm not sure why they told me. Maybe because I used to know you."
"Well, it makes for a good story, doesn't it? Two enemies meet again, the hero visiting his injured foe in prison to show how much he was the victor."
Was it just him, or did Ian get much more sarcastic? Ben shook his head, at the man's words and shot back, "No, but why don't we catch up, Ian. You know, how has my old friend been doing in a maximum security prison?"
"Not bad, thank you for asking. No one ever asks." Ian answered lightly. "I am actually very surprised you came Ben. They told me you were coming to visit but I didn't believe it until I saw you with my own eyes. I'm glad you came, I wanted to see how finding multiple treasures may have change you."
Ben shrugged and beginning to feel like this whole trip was a mistake. There were no benefits to visiting this man who had caused him his father, Abigail and Riley so much trouble. Not to mention the record of his past, it was enough to lock him up for nearly twenty years.
"So…how is that lovely lady? Abigail was it?" Ian asked smartly. Well, there was something Ben could brag about. He held up his hand to reveal a gold ring.
"We're engaged, actually."
"Most men don't wear engagement rings," Ian pointed out.
"Well I do," Ben replied, lowering his hand. "And I'm proud to wear it."
"Congratulations, mate. Never thought any girl would show an interest in a treasure hunting lunatic, but you really pulled it off."
"Yes, I really did. Thank you," Ben said getting increasingly irritated by the man's constant cynicism.
"What about that little friend who tagged along with us…Ryan?"
"Riley. Riley Poole."
"That twerp was defiantly annoying, I should have shot him when I had the chance, it would have been a life sentence anyway."
"That's enough," Ben said angrily, not wanting to hear anymore.
"Take it easy mate. I couldn't do anything even if I wanted to. It was a joke."
Ben just gave him a glare. Even if Ian was lying in a hospital bed Ben didn't take his words lightly. The man had after all pointed a gun at Riley twice.
The whole conversation was becoming more awkward then it already was. Might as well cut the chitchat and get down to brass tacks.
"Okay Ian, let me ask you this. Was there a particular reason why you decided to stab me-I'm sorry- injure me in the back and go after the treasure with the rest of the guys that I'm guessing you bribed handsomely? I mean seriously Ian, was it really worth it? You already had so much wealth, why could you have possibly wanted more, especially if you ran the risk of being arrested?"
Ben hadn't meant the question to be so bitter but he found that seeing this man had aggravated some old wounds. Ian rubbed his chin in between a thin forefinger and thumb.
"For one thing, no one can have too much money. Money in my book is a step to power and influence, I'm sorry you never caught onto that."
"Yeah me too, otherwise I could have ended up just like you." Ben snapped. He felt disbelief that even after he was thrown in prison Ian still didn't recant this way of thinking.
"Oh pish-posh, Benjamin. Think about it. I saw you on the news. It said you took one percent. How much influence do you have now? Now what if you had taken all of the Templar Treasure for yourself?"
To Ben this idea was nearly preposterous. "The problem with you Ian is that you saw the treasure room as a giant safe. Money just waiting to be used for your own advantage. It's thousands of years of history, chances to enrich the culture-"
"Yes, yes, I've already heard that history prattle from you quite a bit on our little escapades." Ian sighed, rolling his eyes.
"Besides, if you seriously consider it, what would I have done with ten billion dollars? I can see you maybe wanting to take over the world or at least the north eastern area of the United States but…"
"Alright Preserver of History. Maybe you wouldn't have been able to have that much money because you wouldn't have known how to handle it. Believe me, I know how to handle it." Ian's voice suddenly took on a darker edge. "And when you play your cards right Ben, you can do things you wouldn't have normally dreamed of doing." His cold eyes studied Ben and he lowered his voice conspiratorially. "If I wanted to I could have erased you from the very face of the earth, as if you never existed at all."
"I highly doubt that, Ian."
"Ten billion is a lot," Ian said, his voice taking on the sarcastic indifference once again. "And money isn't that end all be all, Ben. Money is just a means of attaining the highest goal, power. And if you know your history…"
"Yes, you end up like Al Capone." Ian's little monologue had unnerved Ben. Mitch Wilkinson had also been after a treasure, The City of Gold. But he had done it for a completely different reason. At least he had recognized the importance of leaving a mark on history, trying to regain his family's name much like Ben had done. That was the only slightly positive quality Mitch had in Ben's opinion. Ian on the other hand wanted what every dictator wanted across the board and once they got it they wielded it for mostly horrific purposes.
Hasn't this guy ever watched Spider-man? Ben grinned inwardly, thinking that was something Riley would say. Ian was talking again. "Besides, I knew it was only a matter of time before my records caught up to me and I was arrested. I might as well have pulled out the big guns."
Ben shook his head disappointment, although he wasn't sure what he was disappointed about. That answered his wonderings over the last few years of why Ian had done what he did. The man seemed to have not changed, maybe he had gotten worse in some respects. Wanting to change the subject, Ben pointed to Ian's injury.
"Why were you stabbed? Make someone angry?"
The Englishman looked annoyed at the change of subject or perhaps the subject matter.
"You could say that," Ian smiled without humor. "Let's just say I wouldn't comply to another inmate's…wishes."
Ben's expression turned to one of shock.
"Ian that's…I'm sorry."
"Sorry? Please, save your breath. Won't change anything."
Ben went silent, studying his former associate.
Ian couldn't make heads or tails of what Gates was thinking. A strange look was on his face. Was it disgust? Anger? Or even worse, pity? Ian found he didn't much care, but then why did he lower his gaze to the bed sheets?
"You shouldn't have to deal with that," Ben said suddenly. "No one should have to deal with that. Even if you are a low-life bastard."
"Thanks Ben," Ian grinned. "I appreciate the sentiment."
Ben was silent again, and Ian felt the intense stare of Ben's piercing blue eyes. It was really starting to grate on him. He found he couldn't look up and meet the man's gaze, even though he told himself not to be an idiot. Out of all the people in the world, it had to be this self-righteous treasure hunter who told him that.
Benjamin Gates, it had been quite a dramatic schism. Ian had berated himself long after he learned Ben and his little twerp of a friend Riley had survived the explosion of the Charlotte. But he should have known better he should have guessed they were going to survive. When Gates, had first come to him with the proposition to finance a treasure-hunt, telling him a fantastic story that had been past down in his family, Ian initial response had been to laugh. But after more research, his already interest in the Templar Treasure, he changed his mind. He recognized Ben Gates as a man of passion, and even if they were chasing fool's gold, Ben believed it was real. If it was real, it was well worth the risk.
And it turned out to be quite real, as shown by the television networks on the screen. Ian couldn't believe that Ben had wanted to distribute the treasure to museums. So much wasted potential.
"Being in this particular room isn't so bad," Ian found himself saying. "It's a nice switch from my cell I normally stay in. Although, after a while prison does tend to break you. You have to find strange hobbies you never thought you'd be interested in to keep yourself sane…" He paused contemplatively. "It wouldn't have done that to you though."
"Excuse me?" Ben asked the sentence going over his head, slightly startled at Ian's change of topic.
"It wouldn't have broken you," Ian explained again in an almost exasperated manner. Ben wasn't sure why Ian was saying this to him and Ian didn't know why he was telling him.
"You're…too," he waved his hand, "noble or something."
"I don't follow."
"I was thinking The Shawshank Redemption," Ian said with a smirk.
"Haven't seen it."
"Mate, it's a classic. Go see it when you return to your green mansion."
Ben sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. As much as he and the man didn't get along (understatement), he didn't want Ian to be continually tormented in prison. It wasn't right.
"Ian, look. You need to put a stop to this. Can't you talk to a guard or something?"
"Oh, believe me, that has been done. And it has helped. But guards can't be patrolling you twenty-four seven."
They both fell silent again and Ben shifted in his seat, restraining a hopeful glance at the door. He wondered when the guard was going to come back in because he was getting increasingly uncomfortable.
"How's the food here?"
"It's manageable. Not horrible."
"Well, at least that's okay. Look Ian…"
Ian suddenly snapped, his voice rising and his cold demeanor melting with anger.
"Is there anything else, you wish to say because you're beginning to greatly annoy me. You never answered my question. Why did you come waltzing in here, thinking you're king of everything? Couldn't you just leave everything alone and not feel like you had to preach history to me like some pig-headed idiot?"
Ben waited until Ian was finished and prided himself by not snapping back. So Ian wasn't all as cocky as he wanted to seem to be.
"I came for the same reason as you wanted me to come. You wanted to see how the treasure changed me, and I wanted to see how prison changed you."
Ian was silent for a few moments. "That's fair enough I suppose. And I get to see that you haven't really changed at all. You're still the man with old-fashioned delusions of the past. "
Ben smiled slightly and inclined his head. "And you're still an ambitious power-hungry Englishman. Although…maybe there's one more thing I see in you now that I don't remember."
The guard suddenly opened the door to the room and motioned to Ben.
"Time's up Mr. Gates."
Ben stood up and began to walk out, but then Ian called after him.
"Come on Ben. Don't leave me hanging, finish the statement."
Ben turned back to him, a thoughtful expression on his face. "For once you seem to be a little regretful."
Then the guard escorted Ben out, slamming the door behind him. The sound echoed in Ian's mind a long time afterward.
A few weeks later…
Ben was mumbling to himself over a last-minute presentation that he was working on. The day before the computer had crashed, and he couldn't recover the file. Even Riley told him it was 'lost in cyber-space' as he attempted to retrieve it.
"The hard-drive is completely fried Ben," Riley told him apologetically, after multiple failed attempts. Riley had let him use his laptop but even so, it was very late in the game. Spot on timing for the computer to break. The history presentation gods were defiantly smiling down upon him.
Looking at the antique clock in the corner room it was already almost one in the morning. Ben groaned. He was tired and agitated and the presentation wasn't coming together like he wanted.
Abigail was sitting on her favorite chair as the flames snapped in the fireplace, occasionally shooting strained glances at her fiancée. Riley was fast asleep, snoring lightly on the couch. He wouldn't leave until Ben was done with his computer. Although Riley gladly lent it to his friend, he was still very protective of his technology. The techie had said he didn't trust to leave it alone with Ben, the reason being he had killed the other one.
Suddenly the phone rang shrilly, breaking the stillness. Ben hurried to pick it up, partly for an excuse to do something else and partly not to wake Riley who had already sat up with a start.
Abigail listened as Ben tiredly answered the phone.
"Hello? Oh, yes hello…is there something going on?"
His voice had shaken the tiredness off itself. Riley was sitting up and yawning. "Who is it?" he mouthed to Abigail. She shrugged, and motioned him to keep it down.
"I am," he whispered, frowning at her.
"Shhh." She hissed, wanting to hear who was calling this late.
"What?" Ben sat up straight, his eyes going wide. Abigail and Riley both turned their full attention to Ben, wondering what the news was.
"When was this?" Ben asked, visibly shaken. "Okay…thank you. …I know. Thank you for telling me… Goodbye."
Ben clicked off the phone and cradled it looking a little dazed from lack of sleep and whatever he had just heard on the phone. He looked up at the expectant faces of Abigail and Riley.
"That was Sadusky. He just told me Ian Howe killed himself."
Abigail let out a small gasp and Riley paled a little. Neither of them were particularly fond of the man but it was a shock to hear that he had committed suicide. There was a few moments of silence as he fire crackled away in the hearth.
Riley looked soberly at Ben. It was true, Ian and Ben did get along well. Riley had warned Ben repeatedly, he had never picked up a good vibe from the guy. It all seemed like very shady business to him. Ben had told him he would need more then a 'vibe' to kick Ian off the team. The man was the sponsor for the treasure hunt after all. Ian and Ben had even become friends…until Ian attempted to blow them up.
Abigail spoke up, her blue eyes looking gently at Ben. "Ben I'm sorry. I know that you and him knew each other…"
Ben sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah. Well, I'm sorry too. I'm sorry it turned out this way for him."
"Why do you suppose he did it?" Riley asked quietly.
"There's probably a lot of reasons…" Ben muttered looking like he wanted nothing more then to sleep. "Look, I think I'm going to turn in…"
"What about the presentation?" Abigail asked Ben as he shuffled out of the room toward the staircase.
"Uh, I guess I'll just have to work with what I have," Ben said resignedly and walked up the stairs to the bedroom. Riley waited for the door to close before turning to Abigail.
"Is Ben that upset?" he asked in a low voice. "I mean it's sad, but Ian was the guy who tried to kill all of us."
"Riley, you know that Ian and Ben worked together and I think Ben considered Ian as a friend. You were on the team."
"That's true, but he seems to be taking it hard."
"I think Ben feels a little guilty about what happened," Abigail said softly. Ben tended to push the blame on himself when things went wrong.
"Why? The guy deserved to go to prison."
"Did he deserve to be stabbed in the chest or have those other things happen to him when he there?"
Riley paused and suddenly he thought about how Shaw had fallen to his death. It was a moment he hated to think about and that he'd much rather forget. From time to time the man's scream would echo in his subconscious. Even how Mitch met his untimely demise…. waiting for the cold water to fully engulf him until he drowned. They were both horrific deaths and he wouldn't wish them upon anyone. Even Ian.
"Okay," Riley nodded. "I see what you mean."
Abigail sighed and leaned back on the couch. Poor Ben…he had to give that half-finished presentation and talk tomorrow. Suddenly, she sat up, grinning at Riley.
"Woah, Abi. That was kind of creepy."
"Riley, are you up to help me finish a presentation for tomorrow?"
Riley's eyebrows rose and he tapped the side of his nose conspiratorially.
"I'll give my writing skills a run for the money."
He said settling in front of the laptop as Abigail looked over his shoulder.
"What writing skills?"
"What would you know? You didn't even read my book!"
"I did so and I thought it was sub par."
"Owch Abi…owch.… that went deep. So wait, you actually read my book?"
"Riley…try to focus on the task at hand."
"Okay…sorry. So do you think Ben would like an aquamarine background to accompany his slides, or a magenta?"
A/N: Ian and Ben's relationship is pretty interesting to me. Ian must have seen something in Ben like Riley did. He believed Ben wasn't completely crazy; that he was on to something in looking for the treasure and even funded the trip. Except then he ended up betraying him and almost killing him. So much for being poker-buddies.
Please review? Riley's puppy dog eyes