Living Underneath the Surface (Storm)

How long have I been in this storm?

So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form

Everything was fuzzy and out of focus, like someone had removed his glasses. It was hard to breathe, and the more Riley struggled to sit up, the more difficult it became. As he slumped back to the ground, he was vaguely aware of voices around him, urgent in tone, but the words were indistinguishable from the ringing in his ears and the throbbing of his head. He barely remembered what happened, but the pain radiating throughout his body was enough of a clue to fill in the gaps his fuzzy brain had left behind.

"…don't think…be okay…much blood."

"He...get to…hospital."

"…go now….can't lose him."

The words faded in and out, much like a radio getting bad reception, but to Riley, they meant nothing. His surroundings, which had been blurry (at best) to begin with, were rapidly fading into nothingness. Briefly, as he lay…wherever he was…a saying he had once seen on a tee-shirt crossed his mind: The light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience. It had been funny before, but in his current condition, it seemed hilarious. He made a mental note to mention this to Ben whenever he woke up.

Water's getting harder to tread

With these waves crashing over my head

Feeling around with his hands, Riley noticed that the surface underneath him was wet with liquid. However, it didn't mean anything one way or another – he was too far gone to think about the possible complications. Looking around as best he could, Riley noticed it was mostly dark, with some light coming from a lantern sitting somewhere out of view. The more he concentrated on trying to figure out what was going on, the worse he felt.

If I could just see you

Everything would be all right

If I'd see you

This darkness would turn to light

Screwing up the last bit of effort he could muster, Riley tried to focus on his surroundings. It was only partially bright wherever he was, the source of the illumination being somewhere out of his direct line of sight. It was cold, getting colder by the second, and he still couldn't make much sense of anything. He noticed that the walls towering up around him seemed to be made of some sort of rock before he shifted his focus to the two people sitting by his side. The last thing he made sense of were the faces of Ben and Abigail before the darkness took him.

And I will walk on water
And you will catch me if I fall
And I will get lost into your eyes
I know everything will be alright
I know everything is alright

As Riley began regaining consciousness, the first thing he noticed was how bright it was. Not radiant like sunshine, but like the lighting found indoors – the kind that burns your retinas if you've been in the dark for too long. Screwing his eyes up tightly (not that he could open them fully in the first place), Riley continued to survey his surroundings the best he could. His limbs felt like they had been infused with lead, and no matter how hard he tried to move them, he couldn't even get his fingers to twitch. The one thing that stuck out completely was how his environment smelled. It was clean – almost too clean. It was the smell Riley had learned to associate with hospitals.

'Well,' Riley said to himself, 'at least I know where I am. Now to figure out what happened.'

I know you didn't bring me out here to drown

So why am I ten feet under and upside down

Laying in the hospital bed, Riley breathed slowly in and out, trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind. He had established where he was; the only things left to do were to figure out how he had gotten here and what he had been doing before ending up in this sterile-smelling nightmare.

So, Riley began to think. However, he quickly realized that wracking his brain for answers made his head throb, so he stopped, deciding instead to focus on the sounds around him. He could easily pick up on the beep-beep-beep from the heart monitor near his head, and – was that snoring? Becoming insanely curious as to what who could be making the noise, Riley resumed his battle to open his eyes. Twenty minutes later, he had managed it. To describe the hospital room around him as bright was the understatement of the century. Everything within sight was hospital white (there really wasn't any other way to describe it), and for Riley, blinding. It took an additional ten minutes for his eyes to adjust enough so that he could keep them open for longer than five seconds without his head beginning to throb again. Taking a deep breath, Riley looked around, taking in his surroundings for the first time.

He was lying in a stark-white bed with matching sheets; an IV hooked up to his right arm. His glasses were lying on the bedside table (he could see their fuzzy outline), sitting next to a bundle of (what he assumed were) 'Get Well Soon' balloons. However, these things didn't hold Riley's interest for long. What he really wanted to know was the source of the snoring. Shifting his head for the first time since waking up, he noticed Ben Gates sleeping in the chair next to the bed, his feet propped up on the edge. (Riley couldn't make out Ben's expression, but he assumed that the older man was calm; he had been around Ben long enough to know that he only propped his feet up when he was at ease.)

Suddenly, the near-silence was broken by the sound of a door sliding open, and Riley quickly turned his head in time to see Abigail coming into the room.

Barely surviving has become my purpose

'Cause I'm so used to living underneath the surface

"Riley!" she exclaimed, instantly regretting the volume of her cry as she saw the younger man wince.

Riley wasn't the only one affected by Abigail's enthusiasm; Ben shifted in his chair, still soundly asleep, but enough so that it knocked the chair off balance and him onto the floor. Waking up with a muffled curse, the historian looked around wildly as the chair clanged to the ground.


As Abigail went over to help Ben up, Riley felt an extreme sense of jealousy flare up. It wasn't unexpected; after all, he had realized months ago that he had fallen in love with his already taken, straight-as-an-arrow best friend. As Ben dusted himself off and stood the fallen chair back up, his gaze fell on Riley. Realizing that the younger man was awake, his eyes sparkled as he spoke.

"You're awake," he stated obviously, pulling the chair closer to Riley's bedside. "How're you feeling?"

Jealous. Angry. Envious. In horrible pain. Pick any or all of the above.

"Bad," was all Riley could get out, the word sounding kind of choked from his voice's lack of use.

Ben reached out and grabbed Riley's hand; the younger man registering the warmth in the gesture. Standing up, Ben spoke again, his gaze travelling back and forth between Riley and Abigail.

"I'm going to go get the doctor. I'll be right back."

Smiling at Riley, Ben left the room, sliding the door closed behind him with a soft whoosh. Riley shut his eyes as Abigail sat down in the chair next to him, trying to hold onto the feeling of Ben's hand in his. Abigail began to speak, but Riley's mind automatically tuned her out as he began to remember the circumstances that landed him in this wretched hospital.

For months, Ben had been researching the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Riley, personally, had thought that the research was pointless – plenty of people had tried to find the Lost Colony for centuries, and none had succeeded. Although, the other part of Riley's brain had reasoned, none of those others had been Ben Gates. So, squashing his doubts, Riley had agreed to help Ben and (sadly, in his opinion) Abigail, in their hunt for the Lost Colony.

If I could just see you

Everything would be all right

Riley had always felt inferior to Abigail for many reasons. First, Ben had chosen her after finding the first treasure. No matter how many times he tried to find a reason behind Ben's choice, he always ended up feeling worse for the wear afterwards. Second, the two were such a pair, it was almost unbearable to Riley. If it wasn't for the fact that he loved Ben and would go to the ends of the Earth for him, Riley would have left D.C. long ago. The list went on and on, but Riley had decided that if he was going to work on another possible treasure hunt with the two, he was going to try his best to make it as painless as possible for himself. (After all, he had accepted long ago that Ben would never want him the way he wanted Ben.)

Almost a whole year after the research began, Ben had stumbled upon a clue that had lead them down to Virginia. They had tracked the colonists down to a tree at the Atlantic's edge, which had led them (with the help of the clue Ben had found in some obscure book) to a dimly lit cave nearby. Everything had been okay until Riley had leaned back against the wall, complaining that the search was taking too long. Evidently the piece of wall he had been leaning upon was an unsteady support beam, and the added weight caused it to shift, making part of the wall collapse…right on top of Riley. The rest had really been a blur.

If I'd see you

This darkness would turn to light

Riley came out of his flashback (memory? Trance? He wasn't quite sure what it was.) just as Ben was walking back into the room, carrying a cup of what Riley assumed to be coffee in one hand and another cup of water, complete with bendy straw, in the other. Walking over to the younger man, Ben sat down on the bed, placing the cup of water on the small table that transected it. Smiling, he spoke.

"Do you want some water? It might make you feel better."

Riley nodded (to the best of his ability), then watched as Ben picked up the cup and lifted it to the younger man's lips. As Riley took a couple sips of the ice cold drink, a feeling of longing, of want, crossed his brain. This was what he wanted out of life: somebody to love him, to care for him when he was sick. However, he didn't want just anybody. He wanted Ben Gates.

And I will walk on water

And you will catch me if I fall

And I will get lost in your eyes

And everything will be all right

Riley sighed. He knew that dream would never be more than that – a dream. Ben was with Abigail, and he was happy. It was a fool's hope to think that one day Ben would leave the (Riley hated to admit it) good looking, intelligent Abigail for himself, the scrawny, pale, computer tech. However, Riley couldn't help admitting to himself that if it ever did happen, he'd be content with his lot for the rest of his life.

And I will walk on water

You will catch me if I fall

Feeling a hand on his shoulder, Ben turned slightly on the bed to see Abigail looking down at him with kind eyes. Squeezing the shoulder once, she smiled quickly at the historian before speaking.

"I'm needed back in D.C.," she said quietly.

Ben raised his eyebrows, his expression clearly one of disbelief.

"Liar," he replied with a grin.

Abigail shrugged, at the same time pulling her purse strap higher up on her shoulder so that it wouldn't fall down. Smiling again, she spoke.

"It is so much for me to want to give the two of you some time alone? I'm sure you're more than capable of booking a flight back to Washington, Ben. Plus, I should probably let your father know where you are."

Ben rolled his eyes at the mention of his father. He wasn't a child, but if Abigail was going to let him spend some much-needed alone time with Riley, he'd let her use whatever excuse she wanted, no matter how ridiculous. Nodding at Abi, he smiled at she let herself quietly out of the hospital room. As the door shut with another small whoosh, Ben turned his gaze on the younger man lying quietly in bed.

"Wha - ," Riley broke off, coughing.

Ben grabbed the half-full cup of water off the table and lifted it again to the younger man's lips. After drinking a few more sips through the pink curly straw, Riley let it drop from his mouth and tried again.

"What was Abi talking about? You two are practically inseparable. Where's she – ?" Riley cut off as Ben held up a hand, signaling for him to stop talking.

And I will get lost into your eyes

"We broke up. It was a long time coming, actually," Ben said, grabbing Riley's hand and squeezing it slightly as the younger man opened his mouth to speak. "I realized that the person I had wasn't the person I wanted."

Riley opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before figuring out what he wanted to say.


Ben laughed at the eloquence of the statement.

"I want you."

I know everything will be all right

Riley gaped at Ben, open-mouthed. Whatever he had expected the older man to say, it certainly hadn't been that.

'This must be some sort of dream,' Riley reasoned to himself, as well as his injury-addled brain could. 'Or a joke, but it really isn't like Ben to pull something like this…'

"Ben…what're you saying? And I need you to spell it out for me, really slowly, and no joking, okay? I don't know if I can take that kind of joke, not now, not with you…" Riley's voice softened with every word until he trailed off, dropping his gaze to look at the stark-white sheets.

Maneuvering himself so that he was closer to Riley, Ben grabbed the younger man's chin and lifted it up, so that the two had locked gazes. Eyes twinkling kindly, Ben spoke, his tone soft, meant to be comforting.

"Abigail and I broke up because I realized I'm in love with someone else. Riley, I'm in love with you."

Looking much like a child with pure hope in his eyes, Riley responded softly.


Ben threw his head back and laughed, the sound echoing in the almost-empty room. Grinning at the younger man, he nodded.

"Really really."

"You sure?" Riley asked, looking as if, depending on the answer he received, it would either make him or break him.

Ben, sensing this, was sure to reply in a way that wouldn't leave anything open to interpretation.

"Pretty darn."

I know everything is all right

There was silence for a moment as Riley broke out into a grin. In Ben's opinion, it made the younger man look healthier already. Ben returned the gesture, leaning forward to gently hug the techie.

"Love you, Riley."

Riley's face sunk into a pout as Ben sat back into the chair. Ben, noticing this, pointed it out.

"What's with the face? You got what you wanted, didn't you?"

Riley sighed before replying.

"Yeah, I did," he said, smiling slightly before letting the expression fall away. "But what good is it to have a boyfriend who loves you if you can't do anything to show him how much you love him back?"

Ben laughed, at the same time reaching over and ruffling the techie's hair lovingly.

"In time, Ri, in time."

Everything is all right

Everything is all right

A/N: The idea for this fic hit me while on a bus on the way to class, and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. So I did. Credit for this amazing song ("Storm") goes to Lifehouse. Please R&R!!