A/N: Despite the extreme amount of time since my last update, I haven't yet fallen off the face of the earth! Are you proud? I do apologize profusely for my lack of writing =( I'm on spring break this week, so hopefully I'll have the next chapter of Soft Skeletons up soon. Anyways, here's some one-shot Riley/Ben goodness for you. Yay!

Thunderstorms have never been my favorite weather phenomenon. When I was a kid, I was terrified of them. I began to shake and cry every time I heard even the smallest crack of thunder. As an adult, my fear is gone, but the deeply-rooted, irrational dislike remains engrained in my brain. By my own admission, if one pops up in the middle of the night, as it did that night, a little childish fear precedes my adult pride.

The first crack of thunder shocked me out of an already fitful sleep. My eyes empty of the usual bleariness that accompanies waking, I glanced at my bedmate. Ben was still sound asleep.

On and off for the past few months, we'd been sleeping together. I kept telling myself it was nothing but mutual loneliness that was driving us together, but my eyes couldn't dent the constantly deepening attraction I felt to him; if he gave me the right look, my heart would pound at the very sight of his eyes boring into mine.

Another glance confirmed my previous observation, so I turned from the window and tried to shut my eyes against the pounding rain. After a few quieter rumbles, I supposed that the storm was moving away, and I began to relax enough to return to sleep. Just as my breathing slowed, however, another louder clap of thunder sounded, and I let one muted curse escape.

Ben's eyes slowly opened, and I realized the word must not have been as muted as I thought. "What's goin' on?" he asked, still half-asleep.

"Nothing," I answered, a little testily.

Just then, another rumbled of thunder made me jump. He raised his eyebrows.

"I don't really like thunderstorms," I explained with an embarrassed sigh.

"Are you going to be okay?" he asked, a concerned frown momentarily darkening his features.

"I'll be fine," I assured. "Go back to sleep."

Although he didn't look convinced, he shut his eyes, and after a few minutes, his breathing slowed and quieted. I gave him one last glance before slipping out of the bed, grabbing my sweatshirt from the floor next to the bed, and quietly walking out. I wandered down the hall and into the living room, where I opened the drapes and raised the blinds. Satisfied with the view the window would provide, I pulled and overly large armchair into the center of the room and gathered my knees to my chest, settling in to watch the storm. I became completely absorbed; each strike of lightning illuminated the ground; rain poured down sideways; the thunder constantly rumbled; the wind howled on occasion.

A hand on my shoulder shocked me out of my near-reverie; by the time I'd regained enough composure to look up, he'd already seated himself in a chair opposite mine.

"I thought you said you don't like thunderstorms," he said, appearing to be more awake than he had been a few minutes before.

"I don't," I answered. "It helps if I can see it, though. I feel more…in control, I guess."

He nodded and didn't say anything more. The silence that filled the room was awkward, and although he could sit completely still, I was fidgeting under his gaze. My attention having been diverted from the storm, I jumped again when a particularly loud crack of thunder sounded, and then I gave him a slightly annoyed glare.

"You can go back to bed," I said, trying to hint subtly. "I'll be fine."

"What's really on your mind?" he asked, trashing my defenses as usual.

"Is there anything that doesn't get past you?" I asked.

"Not much," he admitted with a gentle smile.

I avoided answering by gazing out the window. I watched the lightning strike, counted the seconds softly out loud, and then heard the thunder roll. I looked back at him. "I'm just…thinking."

"About what?" he prodded.

A quiet rumble of thunder rolled over the house. "Thunder," I answered with a sly smile.

He frowned at first, but quickly covered it with more of a curious look. "What about thunder?"

"Thunder is…very uncommitted." If he wanted to talk code names, I could talk code names.

"What do you mean by that?"

I had to think about my response for a moment to ensure it didn't sound insane. "Thunderstorms are completely random. They aren't caused by anything anyone does, they just…happen."

He blinked once, then answered, "Scientifically, thunderstorms are caused by—"

"Outside of science," I interrupted. "It's much too late to try and think about the actual reason thunderstorms occur. What I mean is that nothing sets a thunderstorm off, and there's nothing you can do to stop them."

He nodded slowly, catching up to the metaphor. "And this makes thunder uncommitted?"

"It's not like thunder sticks around after a thunderstorm," I said. "It just goes on its merry way, completely unaware of its power or the effects it had on the land it left behind."

He squinted. "Technically thunder has no affect on land."

I sighed loudly. "You get the point!"

"Yeah, I get the point."

He didn't say anything else, so I looked out the window again. The storm had mostly let up, although an occasional, muted rumble of thunder rolled. The rain had slowed a bit, and the wind had stopped.

"I always liked this part of a storm better than the rest," he said. "The quiet, the smell, the soft rain. It's nice."

I nodded, unsure if he was speaking metaphorically or not. When I looked at him, his eyes were focused out the window, glazed over as if he was thinking hard about something. "What are you thinking about?" I asked, my voice hardly above a whisper.

"Would you prefer that thunder stick around all the time?" he responded.

I then decided the metaphor wasn't quite perfect. "It should choose, I think. Either it should always be around, or it should never be around."

"I thought you didn't like thunder," he said again, a smile half-appearing on his face.

I pursed my lips. "So it wasn't the most amazing comparison ever."

"Certainly not," he agreed.

The silence bothered me suddenly, and I stood. "Now that we've had this unproductive conversation, I'm off to bed."

I began to make my way out of the living room, but not before he could catch my elbow and pull me back. He stood eerily close, and I very much wanted to kiss him. I held myself back, and he looked directly into my eyes.

"It isn't random," he said. "Thunder, that is. There's a reason, whether you can see it or not."

"It's still frustrating when it leaves," I replied.

"So it'll stick around for a while. Would that help?" he asked.

"Yes." My voice was much breathier than I expected, and I was a little embarrassed. "That would help."

"Alright then." He let go of my elbow and began to walk away, and I sighed in frustration. I caught up to him and pulled his head close to mine, beginning a kiss I hoped wouldn't end for a while.

Life is beautiful

But it's complicated; we barely make it

We don't need to understand

There are miracles, miracles

"Life is Beautiful" Vega4

A/N: That was more amusing than I expected it to be, haha. Alright. …review, please?