Just a short fic to tide me over…a little unconventional, but…yeah

Just a short fic to tide me over…a little unconventional, but…yeah. (shrugs)

Disclaimer: As shocking as it may be, I am not Disney. Wow!

When I Was Judas

By now I've accepted that my life is about redemption. Every action I make is a desperate flailing attempt to climb up the muddy walls of the hole I've dug, up to the ledge where my guilt-ridden soul will finally be cleansed. But the more I try, the deeper my rut seems to become—in every chance for redemption and karma to kick in, he takes my place, increasing my indebtedness. I'm a friend to him, to use or misuse, but I want to even the score, for I have taken advantage of his trust and idealism to the point nausea churns through my veins at the thought.

I, Riley Poole, despite what anyone may tell you, am a horrible person, and it seems I will be until the day I die.

"Riley," Ian sighs beyond the glass panel before me. "Why are you here again?"

"Do you really think the reason has changed?" I mutter, glancing away. The orange prison jumpsuit is altogether much too distracting.

Still we sit in silence as he chews his lower lip in thought. Not only is his apparel hindering my thought process, but also him in himself, a reminder of my iniquities. How can he not feel my horrendous guilt—because he's in prison, serving his time, getting what was coming to him? Why can't something similar happen to me?

"Riley," he starts again.

"Why did I do it, Ian?" I groan.

"Because you were living in your car, barely making ends meet and I offered you a lot of money," he says immediately. "Don't play this game of 'would-have-could-have-should-have.' You were at the end of your rope."

"So I betrayed Ben? Did my situation justify that?"

"You did your job—I paid you to tell me those things along the way."

"To reveal his secrets to the opposition. Yeah," I snort, a lead block sinking deep into my stomach. "To steal his family's centuries-old dream for a couple thousand dollars."

To this day, I cannot believe what I did. Ben showed us the relevance of the Silence Dogood letters; I texted Ian the connection. Sometimes I couldn't get the information to him after handing it to Ben, as I was around him—Ian wanted to make it look like he was close on our heels to force Ben to be stressed, make a careless blunder, and to not suspect my part. I was the one who arranged the "deal" on the USS Intrepid. I was the one who told off Shaw before he could get to Abigail in Philadelphia, who told Ian where to find Patrick. And when things went wrong—Shaw dying and Ian snapping, threatening me—I was forced on the opposite side with the pure-hearted, left behind.

And when we found the treasure, and I saw Ben and Patrick's elation, I cried. Not for the stairs—I had been trying to take that away from them. The guilt flooded my senses and my face, as it does now.

"Still feel that bad?" he murmurs.

I nod. "Why can't I redeem myself, do something to him to make up for it?"

Again we remain silent for a long while. "Well, he finally says. "You keep trying from what I hear, even despite all odds and possible consequences. Nothing deters you."

"Ian, what are you—"

"Ben's noticed," he continues. "He told me when he visited a few weeks ago." He pauses. "You've given him something more worthy of redemption then a successful sacrifice: to him, you're an unconditional, never-failing friend."

"Don't say that! I'm the last person to be considered that—"

"Would you just listen to me, Riley?" he says loudly. "You can't be following him around just for an opportunity to reconcile with yourself. You care about him. And that's all anyone ever wants."

XXX

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