Lately what fics I've been writing have been inspired by songs, and this one's no different. The inspiration was How You Live by Point of Grace. I encourage you to listen to it, the first verse and chorus heavily influenced the first half of this story.
This was Beta'd by Angelic Prophecy. Thank you for putting up with my dirt poor comma use!
A knock at the door and golden waning afternoon sunlight streaming in through an open window stirred Riley Poole from his dreams. Blue eyes blinked blearily as his fuzzy brain tried to make sense of his surroundings. He was forced to squint into the sun, but managed to make out the blurry forms in his living room. The knock came again and the tech flailed a hand in the direction of the coffee table and managed to snag his glasses. Clumsy fingers pushed them onto his face as his brain tried to get his legs working. Another knock sounded, louder and more insistent than the others.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Riley mumbled, standing up and stumbling to the door.
It opened with a small groan of protest, revealing an oddly sheepish Ben Gates.
"Ben, what are you doing here?" Riley asked, eyeing the rumpled blue shirt that offset Ben's eyes quite nicely, the wrinkled jeans and the jacket, and the CD the treasure hunter held in his hands.
Wait, did he just think that Ben's eyes looked pretty? How did that manage to get out? He was usually better at keeping a lid on such things. And what was with the CD?
Riley blinked slowly as his brain started to wake up.
"Um, we're supposed to be practicing. It's your turn to sacrifice your cramped living room."
Funny, words were coming out of Ben's mouth but they weren't making sense.
"Practicing what?" Riley asked, raising a brow.
"We're supposed to be practicing for the Gala that Abigail is insisting we attend," Ben replied.
Riley frowned. A gala? He couldn't think of any gala, except for the one celebrating another successful discovery by Team Gates, where they were the guests of honor. That was in a couple of months right? He blinked before his eyes widened.
The party was in two days, and he and Ben had been taking turns hosting dance practices all week. Abigail had called them hopeless, before threatening them to learn to at least waltz. Naturally he'd stuck out his tongue in response. It wasn't like he could help having two left feet.
"Ah, uh, right. Come in," Riley muttered moving out of the way.
"I'm glad I wasn't the only one who'd forgotten about it," Ben told him, stepping inside and pausing to toe off his shoes.
Riley shut the door with a click motioning for Ben to take off his jacket, and watching the wrinkles and creases disappear as the material stretched over broad shoulders, and a strong back. He could feel himself mentally drooling, and slapped himself. Mentally, of course; that would be painful otherwise. He really needed better self control. One of these days something would slip out.
"I hope you don't mind me dressed like this. It's just that I was working and looked up and saw it was 5:30 already and I was going to be late. I didn't have time to change." Ben looked adorably sheepish. Another mental slap.
Riley ran his eyes over the slightly disheveled hair, the rolled up sleeves that revealed muscled forearms, and the lanky legs hidden underneath the jeans. Ben looked perfectly fine to him. Then he glanced at himself and winced. He was barefoot, wearing a ratty old pair of baggy jeans, and an IT t-shirt. The skin peeking out was pale, a testament to how much sun it had seen since Cibola.
Riley covered his embarrassment with a shrug, "I'm sure I've got something you could change into if you want."
Ben's answering smile threw him a little, "That'd be great!"
"Okay, hold on a sec," the tech slowly answered, moving away toward his bedroom.
"Hey, Riley?" he heard a few moments later.
"Yeah?" he yelled over his shoulder, distracted.
Darn it, where was that pair of pants that his mother had given him last time he'd came home for a visit? They were a size or two too large and would probably fit Ben.
"What were you doing? There's food carton's scattered all over the place," Ben's voice sounded from the living room.
"What? Oh, I stayed up late last night watching a sci-fi movie marathon. You know the one with all those old cheesy zombie movies?" Riley explained, walking out of his bedroom with the pants and a shirt in hand, "I was sleeping when you came over. Here, you can go freshen up in the bathroom."
He tossed the cloths to Ben who gave him a thankful nod and meandered towards the apartment's one full bath. The tech couldn't help but watch as the older man disappeared. Turning away, he began to gather all the trash he'd left strewn around the room. He was conscious of the sound of running water, and any other sound that came from the bathroom. Honestly, he really couldn't help it. It was as if Riley's subconscious had to add its two cents worth whenever Ben was around and kept him from thinking non-Ben related thoughts. Having a crush was really annoying, but would be bearable if the object of his affection actually could ever return his feelings. He snorted; like that would ever happen. The treasure hunter was obviously wrapped around Abigail's little finger, and why would he ever have feelings for a twiggy, jumpy, pale, nerdy computer tech when he had her?
Riley heaved a world-heavy sigh as he dumped everything into the trash.
The deep voice behind him made him jump and whirl around. He swore that wasn't a scream either.
"Jeez, are you trying to give me a heart attack!?" the brunette snapped, glaring at Ben who was obviously trying not to laugh.
"Well, I try."
Riley's glare just earned him a grin. He snorted, snatching the offered CD and marching over to his stereo system. He slapped it in and stabbed the play button. Soft low notes began flowing out the speakers.
"I still don't see why anyone would want to dance to this stuff. It's so slow," he grumbled, stepping out into the middle of the limited space in his living room.
"True, a fast song would suit you better."
Riley glanced up sharply at the warm affection he swore he could hear hidden in the deep voice.
"Come on, let's get this over with," Ben added, holding out his hand.
Riley took it and was pulled almost flush against Ben's body. He swallowed thickly as a large warm hand settled on his hip and the other grabbed his hand. He willed any thoughts away, trying to focus solely on the music and its gentle rhythm.
They began to slowly sway, getting the feel for the music. Then Ben took a step back and after a brief pause Riley followed. Another step and they moved backward, another and they moved to the side. They moved in silence for several moments before Riley broke it.
"Why do I have to be the girl?"
"Well I'd prefer to keep my feet intact." Ben's crystal blue eyes sparkled in mischief.
"Hey, I only stepped on your feet twice!" Riley indignantly snapped.
He stepped wrong, throwing off his center of gravity. Ben steadied him, "Well considering you almost broke my toes both times…"
"Oh, ha ha," Riley sarcastically remarked, watching his feet.
"Hey, stop looking at your feet. Stay focused on me," Ben reprimanded.
As if he'd be able to concentrate while he was forced to look at the older man's face. Sure enough, he stumbled with the next step and almost knocked Ben over as he fell into his chest.
"Hey, careful," Riley felt his cheeks flush a little at the treasure hunter's gentle tone.
"Sorry," he muttered, getting back into the correct stance.
"It's okay. How 'bout I let you lead for awhile?"
Riley chose to ignore the teasing tone, though the sparkle in those blue eyes was a little more difficult.
"Well if you think I'll leave your feet in one piece…" he snidely quipped, taking the first leading step.
Ben just followed a smile tugging at his lips.
Forty-five minutes later, Riley was ready for a break. His small apartment didn't leave much room for dancing, and he was getting tired of staring at the same wallpaper over and over.
As if somehow sensing this, Ben spoke up, "I think that's good for today. How 'bout you?"
"Sounds great to me. Oh, and look, your toes are still in one piece," Riley pointed out, Ben just rolled his eyes, "Hey, do you want something to drink? I'm rather parched."
"Sure." Ben meandered over to his kitchen table and sat down.
Soft music was still playing, and Riley had to blink before he managed to tear his gaze away from his friend and focus on the drinks. No one had the right to look that dorky and yet cool, draped over his kitchen furniture.
The tech was halfway through pouring good old healthy Pepsi, none of that diet crap, either, when Ben spoke up.
"Hey Ri, um, would it be okay if I, uh, I spent the night here?"
Riley nearly spilt the soda he was pouring. He slowly lowered the two liter and screwed the cap back on.
"I don't see why not," he replied without turning around. Ben Gates! On his sofa!! Well, that wouldn't be very comfortable; maybe he should sleep on the couch instead. Then again, they could just share the bed…
Riley quickly spun around and marched over to the table, sliding Ben his drink and refusing to think certain thoughts.
"But why do you need to? If you don't mind me asking." Riley casually sipped his Pepsi, leaning against the table corner.
"Um, Abigail sort of kicked me out of the house," Ben told him, the look on his face telling him he was just as confused as the techie about it.
"Did you guys have a fight and break up or something?" Riley asked, mentally crossing his fingers.
"We're not dating; we broke up a month or so ago. Where have you been?" Ben quirked a brow, while taking a drink.
"Um…" Riley tried to think where he actually had been. This was news to him.
"Locked in your apartment, by the looks of this place," Ben offered, eyeing the various bits of this and that scattered around.
"Hey, excuse me for taking some down time after nearly getting killed again," Riley huffed, crossing his arms defensively over his chest. How dare he insult his apartment!
"You wouldn't have a spare pair a pajama's or a toothbrush would you? I really didn't have a chance to pack."
The tech heaved a sigh and dropped his arms, "I just so happen to have an extra toothbrush and I'm sure I have some PJ's somewhere. Where would you be without me?"
"Sleeping on the street?" Ben smiled.
Riley couldn't help grinning back.
"Hey, there's just enough light. We could go for a walk," Ben said, glancing out the window.
Riley followed his gaze. The sun had nearly set and the outside world was trapped in the dusk that was sliding past the window. The early summer heat had faded away, and he could see the first fireflies beginning to flay around. He enjoyed this time of day best. If he was up to see the sunrise, it was too early.
"It'll be dark soon," he half-heartedly protested.
He glanced down when he didn't receive a reply and saw Ben staring at him with an odd expression on his face. Riley squirmed under the heavy blue eyed scrutiny.
"What?" he snapped, uncomfortably.
Ben seemed to come out of a daze.
"Sorry. Come on, let's go," Ben stood and strode over to the door.
Ben really hadn't sounded that sorry. Riley just stood there and watched him put his shoes on.
"We're going for a walk. Come on, get your shoes on," Ben prodded, looking up from tying his shoes.
Riley stumbled into action. He quickly tugged on his old converse, and grabbed a coat before Ben was hauling him out the door.
"Wait, we forgot to turn off the stereo!" Riley cried horrified.
"It'll be fine," Ben replied, leading the way down the stairs in all the peeling paint glory.
"Yeah, well, it's not your electric bill," Riley muttered.
"Riley, you live in an apartment. Amenities are included in your rent."
They walked in silence down the street, after Riley got in his, "You couldn't say electricity like a regular person could you?", of course.
Ben lead him towards the park. The sun had set, and lingering light hung behind them. The sky was a periwinkle purple dotted by a few darker purple clouds. Birds were still staking their territory, so the night was still loud with birdsong. Even the crickets had decided to get in on the action and added their own tone to the rolling song. The side street they were traveling along was void of any street lights, and the concrete side walk was rough under his shoes. A slightly chilly breeze blew through occasionally, ruffling his bangs and he was glad that he'd remembered a jacket. He had to admit that Ben did look rather handsome in his brown suede coat.
"Ah, here we are."
Ben's murmur made him look up, as they crested the top of a hill. The park was laid out below them. They were coming in from the west side near the baseball field, and he could see there was a little league game in progress.
"Did you ever play little league?" Ben asked, watching the kids play.
Riley tilted his head and lifted his eyebrow, "Do I look like I was ever an athletic kind of kid?"
Ben laughed a little. "I guess not," he agreed.
"Hey, look, a shaved ice vendor," Ben grinned, taking off towards the small cart stationed in front of the ball field.
"Ben?" Riley had no choice but to follow the oddly acting treasure hunter. What was up with Ben anyway?
"What kind do you want, Ri?" Ben asked once he got closer.
His heart did a little flop at the sound of the nickname. It was the first time Ben had called him something other than Riley, and he couldn't help but blush a little.
"Um, grape please," he stuttered out.
Was that a satisfied smirk on Ben's face? The look was gone too fast for Riley to tell.
"Here." And a grape sno-cone was pushed into his hands.
"Um, thanks?" Riley said.
"You're welcome. Now come on, we can watch the game from that rise over there," Ben told him, grabbing a wrist and tugging him toward the small hill and its grass and tree.
"Uh, okay," Riley said, letting himself be towed forward.
Ben stopped once he found a suitable spot. Dropping the techie's wrist, he sat down with a grunt, rearranging his long legs comfortably. Riley silently mourned the loss of Ben's warm hand, even though he wouldn't admit it. Nope. What was he supposed to miss? That was until the older brunette looked up at him with mischief twinkling in his blue eyes.
"Come sit, Riley," Ben said, patting the ground next to him.
Riley nodded silently, before he slowly and warily sat down. What was Ben up to? He watched Ben watch the little league game. Blue eyes were dancing with something and the treasure protector had a gentle, quirked smile on his lips. It took an effort to stop staring, but Riley managed to pull his gaze elsewhere with the help of sudden cheering coming from the stands below.
"Looks like they're having fun," he said, chuckling as a little boy who'd just ran to home was jumping up and down in joy.
"Yep, I played little league in the third grade," Ben offered.
"And how did that go?" Riley asked, having trouble picturing someone as addicted to books as Ben playing any kind of sport.
"Well you know, I got kicked off the team half way through the season because I was reading instead of practicing," Ben turned to give him a grin.
"My mom tried to get me to play soccer, but after the third time I tripped over my shoe laces she called it quits," Riley replied.
"Well it's good to see things really haven't changed since then," the treasure protector quickly said before ducking a slap to the head.
"Hey!" Riley snapped indignantly.
"You know I've been thinking a lot lately," Ben began, suddenly sobering, and it kind of scared Riley a little.
"Considering you do that a lot on a daily basis. What are you thinking about this time, exactly?" Riley asked, while the intense stare he was receiving made him squirm.
"About a puzzle, and I think I've finally figured it out," Ben told him, and those eyes were absolutely not making Riley's heart speed up.
"Oh really?" he ground out Was it just him or did Ben's face look closer?
"Oh, so, um, what puzzle did you figure out? Are we going to be going on another treasure hunt?" Riley asked, a little breathlessly. His heart felt like it was doing the tango in double time.
"You could say that." And then Ben's lips were on his.
His first coherent thought after was 'Wow' and apparently he'd said it aloud too, considering Ben's grin doubled in size as he pulled away.
"So… Um?" Riley stuttered out as he licked his kiss swollen lips and stared at Ben's.
Riley blinked quickly several times and shook his head, hoping to get some coherent thoughts going.
"So, uh, does this mean? You-? Me-? That-?" Coherency was slow in returning.
Ben slowly reached out a hand, before thinking better of it and dropping it to play with a blade of grass. His eyes flickered away before returning to Riley's, "Yeah. If you want it to."
The sight of Ben unsure about something finally snapped him out of the realm of stuttering incomplete sentences.
"Yeah!" he said, startling them both with his enthusiasm. "Um, that is, if it's uh… okay?" Riley ducked his head with an apologetic smile.
Ben answering grin seemed to light up the growing dusk around them.
"That was kind of awkward," the treasure protector commented, "Let me try this like I was supposed to do it."
Riley's smile faded. What was Ben doing now?
"Riley Poole, would you care to accompany me to the Gala Friday night?" Ben's face was formal and his gaze piercing again.
Riley felt as though he was being thrown for a loop. He'd just been asked out, hadn't he? And he'd said yes. Why did Ben need to ask again? He could care less if Ben did it properly or not, as long as he'd finally asked. Riley snorted, rolling his eyes. Wait, Ben had just asked him out! He stiffened still staring into those crystal blue eyes that were now crinkling in confusion.
Ben got to, "Riley, what-?" before he found himself flat on his back with an enthusiastic techie snuggling into his chest.
"Of course I will!" Riley said, wrapping his arms around the older man's torso and resting his chin on Ben's sternum. He knew he had a dopey grin on his face but he couldn't bring himself to really care, considering Ben was wearing one of his own.
"Good," Ben chuckled, his bright blue eyes crinkling at the edges.
Riley just grinned at him until a sudden thought hit his brain.
Ben stilled, startled, and his brow creased in confusion.
"I left the stereo on!" Riley said sounding horrified, as he scrambled to his feet.
His worn converse slipped on the grass and he fell back down onto Ben's chest.
"Yeah, and I told you to leave it on before we left," Ben told him, reaching out to steady his thin frame as he struggled to get to his feet.
"So? You're not the one who has to pay the electricity and it's been hours!" Riley finally managed to stand upright.
Ben slowly followed him, when the tech made an impatient wave with his hand.
"Come on." And with that Riley grabbed Ben's arm and took off.
"Hey," the treasure protector said tugging Riley to a stop.
He immediately lost his balance and they ended up standing chest to chest as Ben leaned down to whisper something in his ear.
"Don't worry. I'll pay you if your electric bill skyrockets this month."
Then Ben kissed him again, and it was just as good at the first, but Riley couldn't resist pulling away just long enough to murmur, "I'm going to hold you to that."
Reviews are love! R&R