A/N: Okay, first…. I want you all to know that professors in University of the Philippines are not like Dianne, okay? I should know, I study there!
Although, I'm just a freshman… I know nothing just… yet… bwahahaha.
Disclaimer: And so, I declare none of this to be mine. ;)
"To what do we owe this very interesting family meeting?"
Riley was the first to break the ice. He leaned on his knees and stared at everyone else, who at turn was staring at Ben.
"What's wrong, dear?" Emily asked. She wrung her hands together.
"Ben?" Patrick added.
"Ben, what is it?" Abby followed with a question of her own.
Ben turned to Patrick, his mouth opening for the first time. "Dad, do we know anyone named Paul Gates?"
Patrick leaned forward a bit. "Who?"
"Where did you hear that name?" Patrick asked, surprise – or shock – evident in his voice.
Ben told them almost the whole thing – about Dianne and her curious little statement about Paul Gates and his betrayal. He managed to leave out every bit of detail about the treasure, though.
Patrick's eyes darted from person to person. Everyone looked both eager and apprehensive to know what he was going to answer. "Paul Gates was…" Patrick paused, and sighed. "I better just come out and say it. The reason you didn't hear anything about him, Ben, is because whatever that woman told you, is true. He did collaborate with the Japanese. He did a lot of things the Gates family is not proud of. So everyone was determined to erase his name from our memories, and from the memories of others."
"So it's true." A crestfallen look suddenly appeared on Ben's face. "I don't believe it."
"Accept it son, our family is not perfect." There was a moment of silence.
Abby placed a hand on Ben's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ben." She knew how important Ben's family name was to him, and the honor that came with it. And this revelation, just after he cleared Thomas' Gates name…
"Wait a second Ben." Emily started again. Everyone's heads snapped towards her.
Ben looked at Emily with a questioning look. Emily continued. "There is something else. I know there is something you're not telling us."
Riley nodded, his face looking relieved that someone changed the subject. "Yes! According to my experience, no one drops a huge revelation like this on you Ben, unless they need something from you."
"Ben, what are you doing with a woman named Dianne in a coffee shop?" Abby asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Look, I went to this conference, okay? I had enough time on my hands. And the speaker was Ms. Dianne Castillo, a professor in University of The Philippines, talking about the Yamashita Treasure…" Ben continued the rest of his story, filling in every detail that he left out.
Emily groaned. "Not another treasure hunt."
"Admit it Emily. You like treasure hunts. You were talking about the last one in your sleep!" Patrick said, smirking.
Emily threw a cushion at him. "I was having a nightmare!"
"No you weren't – I heard your every word!" Emily and Patrick continued their spat, their talk elevating to some trip to South America and their guide who got them lost.
"Emily! Patrick! Enough!" Abby said, sighing. "You're not helping!"
"Wait a second, back-up. You're saying that this woman was a speaker at this lecture you went to, asked you out for coffee, and offered all this up?" Riley said in disbelief. He blinked at Ben. "And she came from the Philippines? Wow, Ben. International."
Abby turned to Ben. "What's the next step now, Ben?"
"So they're looking for the Yamashita treasure, and like the rest of the stuff we looked for, of course, is missing. Great." Riley continued to rant. "Why couldn't they provide a cereal box treasure map, x marks the spot?" He scoffed. "All we're missing now are our favorite villains. Who are we getting this time? Some psycho?"
Ben looked up from his silent thinking, and said the two words everyone wasn't sure they wanted to hear. "I'm in."
"What?" The group looked at Ben, their eyes wide, faces in shock.
"I'm going to call Ms. Castillo and tell her I'm in." Ben announced. "This is the least I could do to make up for what Paul Gates did. I need to find that treasure, and bring it back."
"Ben, do you know what you're saying?"
"Ben! Not another treasure hunt!"
"Ben, I know this is to redeem the family's name…"
"Stop!" screamed Riley. That made everyone shut up. "Ben, not that I'm discouraging you, but we already won the war. That single betrayal didn't make any significant difference." Riley said.
"Finally, a voice of reason. Listen to your friend Ben, he's making sense for once." Emily said, releasing another sigh. "Look, Ben. I love you dear, but this is dangerous. I know the last one worked, but Ben! You almost got killed! We all almost got killed!"
"Ben, listen to your mother." Patrick placed a hand on Ben's shoulder. "She's right."
Emily looked at Patrick in astonishment. "Did you really say that?"
"Yes, I said it." Patrick looked back at Ben. "Look, Ben, I don't know if this would be a real find or a wild-goose chase, but no matter what it is, this job is getting more and more dangerous. And from what you said, I think she's only looking for someone to fund their expedition…"
"Ben, I don't want to come close to losing you again." Abby said, voicing everyone's obvious concerns. Everyone looked at Ben.
Ben bit his lip. "That doesn't change the fact that someone did something wrong. That Paul Gates, did something wrong. And I have to do something to make it up for my country." He tapped the armrest.
"Ben, don't you think the Cibola and the Templar Treasure are already enough?" Riley sighed.
"This one is for a different reason, Riley." Ben said.
Riley ran a hand through his hair. "It's in the past, Ben. No one else knows. Let it go."
"The past haunts the present. Always beware of the past, for you never know what it might reveal." Ben said, causing everyone to be silent.
Riley was the first one to say something. "Here we go again." He muttered, and smiled. "Whatever, Ben. But I'm in."
Abby pouted. "I was just getting used to normalcy again, Ben. But I'll help."
"I'll do what I can, son." Patrick called. "I- I understand what you're trying to do. I'll help in any way I can."
Emily sighed. "It would seem that I have no choice in the matter. I'll help too, of course."
"Thank you." Ben said, smiling for the first time the whole day. "Now if you excuse me, I think I have an important call to place."
Room 2065. Ben knocked at Dianne's door, and waited for her answer. His face was blank, effectively hiding the mixed emotions he was feeling. He was doing a pretty good job for a man who can't bluff. Riley was with him, as was Abigail.
Dianne opened the door, and immediately launched into her greeting. "Hi Ben. Glad you could make it. Glad you could all make it." Dianne smiled at them. She offered the trio a seat on a couch. Dianne turned to Ben. "So, how was the day after we last talked? Decisions have been made, I take it?"
Ben looked at her. "I'm in. We're all in."
"Why so serious, guys?"Dianne laughed, her laughter sounding really evil in Ben's ears, even if it sounded light-hearted and happy. Her eyes sparkled – or glinted, Ben thought – as she said the quote. "Lighten up! You're going on another one of your adventures!"
"A real live Harley Quinn in action. Do you have your own joker, or do you operate as him as well?" Riley mumbled.
Dianne looked at him, and pouted. "Oh come on Riley – it is Riley, right? Your little quips are so cute. As long as you don't piss me off, you should be safe."
"And what are you going to do? Last time I checked, cuteness and charm don't kill anyone."
Dianne smiled, and shrugged. "The last time I checked, guns can kill anything. And oh, my friends think that too." About four men stepped out from a room. None looked really muscular and thug-material, but the guns they were holding would scare the crap out of anyone. That quieted Riley down. The four men sat beside each person in the room – one beside Ben, beside Riley, beside Abby and beside their boss.
"Hi Abigail." Dianne smiled, her eyes on Abby now. Abby glared at her. Dianne shrugged. "Oh come on, Abby- may I call you Abby? Yeah. I was thinking that we could actually be friends. Loving history and all. Unless you go all cold – like you're doing now." Dianne looked around, and her eyes settled on Ben's face.
"You blackmailed me." Ben said once he made eye contact with her. A henchman shifted beside Ben, the gun's nozzle hitting Ben's side. The man grinned absently, and stroked the barrel of his gun.
"I did nothing of the sort, Ben…" Dianne stood up, and leaned closer to Ben, her lips touching his ear. Abby scowled, glaring at the woman who looked like she was making a move on her Ben. The man beside her nudged her with the butt of his gun, like he sensed the anger radiating from Abby.
"You decided to take a move on your own." Ben snapped his head away. Dianne scoffed, and straightened herself out. "I didn't tell you that I was going to release it to the press. I didn't say anything that would say I'd make it public. I wasn't planning to." She walked away, and plopped down back on her chair.
"I knew you are going to do something about that… betrayal," Dianne elaborated each syllable, "your grandfather did. I knew you are going take action, even if it was already in the past." She smiled and shook her head. "Because that's who Ben Gates is. A man of action."
Dianne smiled, and held out her hand. "So… partners?"
For a moment Ben thought he saw a glimpse of the Dianne he first met. He hesitated, and took the hand and shook it. "Temporarily."
"That's the best deal I could get, I suppose." Dianne flashed another dazzling smile. "So, what else do you want to know, guys?"
"Origins, names, clues." Riley leaned back in his chair. "Reason why you want this treasure so much is helpful too." The man beside Riley made the shape of a gun with his fingers, and shot invisible targets. Riley shifted uneasily.
"Let's start with this. The Yamashita treasure is a chunk of the wealth the Japanese grabbed off the lands they conquered back around WWII. The name is taken from General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the general who assumed command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944. It is allegedly hidden in caves, tunnels and underground complexes in the Philippines. The gold and other valuables were stolen from East and Southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II and supposedly hidden in the Philippines. They were supposed to ship the stuff from my country back to Japan, but because they have suffered huge losses, they could not do it."
Dianne turned back to Ben, smirking. "That's where Paul Gates came in."
So... what do you think?? That Dianne is an evil, evil woman.
Review and Reply, please! xD