A/N: Well, I've finally reached the end. I thank all of my supporters - the reviewers, favoriters, and alerters. This may be the last of Andrea for awhile, until I have enough time and some ideas, so please enjoy this!
Epilogue: 3 Weeks Later
"…At least half of the computer manuals, all of the Chinese restaurant menus, and that ancient T-shirt your first girlfriend gave you." Placing the list aside, Andrea glanced up at Riley musingly to see his reaction.
Riley winced in response. "I have to get rid of all the Chinese menus?"
"You'll be living with a woman, Riley. A woman who's able to do something called cooking healthy meals."
"I always eat the broccoli in my sweet-and-sour chicken from Ming Ti!" Riley protested, fighting back a smile. "You can't say that I don't eat healthily!"
Andrea laughed, twirling around the straw in her iced tea. "All right, one menu can be kept. For only occasional ordering-in."
"And occasional defines as…?" Riley pressed on, looking somewhat hopeful.
"Once every two months, with little exceptions."
Riley slumped in his seat, crestfallen. "It's like moving back in with my mother."
Laughing, Andrea reached across the Formica table to playfully shove his arm. Immediately perking, Riley wiggled back up in his seat. "All right," he withdrew a stained and crumpled piece of paper from his pocket, unfolding it and scanning it over. "And now for my list of 'Things My Partner Must Get Rid Of Before We Live Together.'"
Leaning back in her chair to listen to the possessions she'd have to rid of, Andrea slurped away at her drink as Riley began. Having agreed beforehand to stay on good terms with each other by staying honest and kind-hearted, Riley was the one had pitched the idea of each creating a list of items the other had to give away before Andrea moved into Riley's apartment next month.
In order to live with Riley, she had officially transferred from NYU to the Corcoran College of Art and Design, located in the downtown area of DC. Andrea had spent the last few weeks studying painting and design, realizing that she had much of her mother's natural drawing ability in her. Set for an Associate of Fine Arts degree, Andrea would spend an extra two years in college than she had had to at NYU, but strongly felt that it was worth it if she could be with both Riley and her family.
Through the connections Ben had in the DC area, Riley had been given a job as a technical supervisor at the FBI building where Sadusky worked. Riley was normally in a completely different part of the building than the federal agents, and his main priority was to fix the agents' computers when they were on the fritz and to shut all the machines down before holidays and long weekends. But it appeared that working with the FBI made Riley feel superior and important, often leaving work wearing dark shades and a black suit, wanting to create a 'mysterious agent' image. However, Andrea would teasingly call it a 'psycho stalker' image.
Speaking of Ben, he had proposed to Abigail once again, at Mount Rushmore, the same night on which Andrea and Riley had decided to move in together. Only this time, Abigail had accepted, the treasure hunt having brought them together as a couple again. Their wedding was set for the following year – July 4th, 2008, a date the two had selected purposely. Riley had already been asked to fill in the spot of Ben's best man, while Andrea had agreed to be one of Abigail's bridesmaids. Already stressing out about her big day, Abigail had unsuccessfully talked Andrea into helping her pick out the kind of cake to be served at the wedding reception.
Patrick and Emily were adjusting to become friends, but marriage wasn't in the picture for them. They claimed to be too old and fidgety to be wed, and didn't want to withdraw the money for a wedding out of Emily's retirement fund or Patrick's longtime savings. However, Andrea had caught them more than once sneaking kisses over their coffee or during a History Channel documentary. It was odd seeing these people who were apart all her life suddenly be together, but she was learning to get used to it.
She had formally destroyed any proof of her trip to Paris with Riley as a witness, the two having had burned every photograph Andrea took in France, save for a snapshot of the Eiffel Tower both considered too priceless to destroy. Pierre and Camille came during a bad patch of her life, and although that patch would help her prepare for the future and become more of an adult, she wanted to forget the people who made that bad patch worse.
As for Agent Sadusky, he was still morose about his past and current living situation, and dedicated himself to his work more than ever. He had finally tracked down the Gates family stalker, a thirty-year-old man who had idolized the family's conspiracy theory since childhood and was taking his obsession a step too far.
Andrea took note of bringing Sadusky a homemade dessert every week, this treat usually being oatmeal raisin cookies, made from a recipe Emily had said was created by Abigail Gates, who supposedly made the cookies for Peter all the time during their relationship. The dessert would brighten his day, but never would Sadusky be happier than when he was with his precious Abby. Sometimes, people couldn't secure themselves happy endings.
"…that hideous kitten poster, your ancient laptop, and your Queen's Greatest Hits record," Riley placed his paper aside, glancing up at Andrea. "Well?"
"I can not give up Queen's Greatest Hits," Andrea said, slapping down her credit card for their waiter to swipe. "That there is classic music. Come on, I let you keep a Chinese restaurant menu. Let me keep the record."
Riley shrugged, giving into her pleads, and crossed off the mention of the record with a pencil. "All right. We each get to keep one thing on the other's list. I keep my menu, you keep your record. Deal?"
Riley shoved his list back in his pocket, swallowing his last bite of sandwich. "You ready to go?"
Andrea nodded as the waiter returned her card and bid them a good day. "Next stop: your apartment, to kill a minority of the cockroaches in the bathtub."
Riley raised an eyebrow as he held the café's door open for Andrea to walk outside. "A minority?"
"Face it, you're living with some critters not even those old gym socks can scare away," she teased him, shooting out a smile as they began strolling down the hot sidewalk. "We need to book an exterminator."
He grinned back sneakily. "Once you bring over Queen's Greatest Hits, the bugs will be gone for sure."
Andrea laughed, swinging her foot around to kick the back of Riley's leg. "Touché, Mr. Poole."
The two had gone to lunch at a café only about a block away from Riley's apartment. To return to their new home together, they only had to walk several feet. Just as they had reached the corner, Andrea's cell phone rang, her ringtone of Queen's Somebody to Love blaring from her purse.
"Queen…" Riley chuckled, shaking his head. "I'm not surprised."
Shushing him, she glanced at the Caller ID: BEN GATES.
"It's Ben," Andrea looked back up at her companion. "You go on ahead, I'll catch up. Ben tends to panic if I don't answer my phone."
Riley began the walk across the street and Andrea plopped herself down on a nearby bench to answer her call. "Hello?"
"Hi sweetie," Ben's anxious voice filled her ear. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, Uncle Ben. I just had lunch with Riley. We're going to his apartment to work out a bug issue."
Ben had moved back in with Abigail merely days after the return from Mount Rushmore. While he was happily settled in with his fiancée, he was nervously dreading his niece's move into her boyfriend's home.
"Andrea, are you sure you're okay with this arrangement? You're both young, and this summer wasn't the greatest for your relationship…"
She rolled her eyes – Ben the worrier, how cliché. Her uncle would always be up for a challenge involving life and death, but when it came to simple, everyday things, he was a complete chicken. "Ben, we've been together for ages, just as long as you and Abigail have. We'll be fine."
"I know, I know," Ben assured her, still with a hint of uneasiness. "I trust Riley as much as I trust you. But if he goes a step too far too soon for you…"
"'Bye, Ben," Andrea stepped in, clicking her phone off before Ben would worry himself to a heart attack. He was just acting the way he should be – he was the overprotective father who didn't want to let his daughter go, but knew that he had to.
Dashing across the road and between honking cars, Andrea could see Riley standing right before his apartment building, staring dumbstruck at something on the side of the road. Coming up to his side, Andrea questioned, "Hey, whatcha you looking…"
Still with his eyes glued to whatever, Riley held out a hand to pull at her arm eagerly. Finally turning to the side of the road, Andrea's mouth dropped open. For Riley's Ferrari, long ago taken by the IRS, was parked in front of them.
"Look," Riley pointed out a slip of paper tucked underneath the windshield wiper, and yanked it out from its trap. "What's this?"
On the paper, in a loose, block-print lettering, read: 'Tax-free, and cleared of all charges – Signed, A Friend'.
Andrea whistled underneath her breath. "You know anyone who's in cahoots with the IRS?"
"No," Riley observed the other side of the paper for a hint, but found it blank. "Unless…" He glanced sideways at Andrea, who looked back, both thinking the same thing.
When at Mount Rushmore to recover Cibola, the president had flown in on a FBI helicopter to observe the process. Andrea and Riley had chatted with the Commander-in-Chief, and somehow, Riley's impounded car was brought up in conversation, and the president had assured that he'd see what he could do. Although, neither Andrea nor Riley had taken the man seriously.
"It couldn't be," Andrea replied, shaking her head. "It just couldn't."
"Well, you never know," Riley said, a grin trailing across his face. "But let's make the most of it." Tossing the note into a nearby garbage can, he hopped into the car, tugging Andrea along with him. Slipping his car keys out of his pocket with a hello kiss, Riley happily charged up the ignition. "Listen to that," he drawled. "The sound of happiness."
Andrea grinned at him, ecstatic to see him so hyped about his car's return. "Well, don't just sit there! Let's take it for a drive!"
Riley eagerly nodded, playing around with the shifting stick until the car started into a reverse. Suddenly realizing that a wrong move had been made, Andrea peered behind her curiously. "Er, Riley, watch it-"
She was cut off by the sound of a piercing crash, as the Ferrari slammed into the front of the car parked behind it. Both kept looking ahead, choosing not to observe the damage. Riley, however, broke down into a wail. "Nooooo!"
Biting her lip, choosing to keep the irony of the happening to herself, Andrea chimed in, "Well, you are insured – a new model, anyone?"
He looked at her exasperatedly, with wary eyes. "Happy homecoming," he replied sarcastically.
Andrea hesitated, waiting for words to strike her as a response. Things like car accidents and insurance were part of the adult world. She had never truly experienced them before. She might as well have a firsthand look at them, right? The sooner the better.
"Yes," Andrea said, leaning forward to kiss his cheek. "It is a happy homecoming – thank you, Riley."
He glanced confusedly, still looking frantic from the crash. "…You're welcome?"
"Yes," she repeated, squeezing his hand. "Thank you very much." With a grin, she slipped out of the car silently, to inspect the damage. She could always use a firsthand experience – it was all part of a woman's life, an older woman's life, in an older woman's eyes.
A/N: Yay for working in the title! Please leave a review! Also, some questions to answer in your review...
1. What was your favorite moment in the Andrea stories?
2. Who would like a third Andrea story?