AN// Lol! Well, tomorrow's my birthday, so in true Hobbit fashion, I'm giving you, all my lovely readers, the final chapter!
I only half-listened as Ben chatted with a local dispatch. I was so tired! I couldn't even imagine how exhausted Riley and the children must be. Riley had his head leaned back against the interior with his eyes closed, and the kids were blinking and nodding, trying to stay awake.
"That's what a GPS is for!" Ben said into the phone shortly. I grinned and Riley snickered. I knew Ben was tired as well, and his usual self-control was zilch. We needed help, and Ben had little patience to spare, especially with dangerous murderers running around.
"Thank you." He snapped the phone shut with a growl. He turned to me. "Apparently, the road is ahead of us about a quarter mile. They're sending a squad car to pick us up."
I groaned inwardly as Ben got out to make sure there was no one around. A quarter mile isn't much, but right now, it seemed like more than we could handle.
"We're good. Let's go." Ben carefully removed Andrew from the car to carry him. The child had finally given in to sleep.
Riley climbed over the seat with a yawn and stood next to the twins. "Geez, Abigail, you totalled another car!" he commented as we walked away from the Lexus. I knew he was being obnoxious to keep himself awake.
"It wasn't entirely my fault, if you'll remember."
He frowned in thought. "Nope. Don't remember a thing. I was knocked out by a crazy woman."
"Anyone I know?" I asked innocently.
Riley glared and I continued to follow Ben through the thick trees. We had to have been nearly to the road when he stopped suddenly and I nearly ran into him. My heart sank as three figures emerged from the trees, one of them the diminutive girl who seemed to be the leader.
"Stop where you are!" the girl ordered, waving a gun near Ben's face. She didn't even look like she knew how to use it, but Ben wasn't taking any chances. He slid Andrew out of his arms and set the child protectively behind him. Then he slowly raised his hands.
"Don't do anything you'll regret," he said quietly.
The girl laughed almost hysterically. "The only thing I regret is not taking care of all of you before you made it hot for us." she came closer to Ben while the other two kept their weapons trained on Riley and I.
"You've ruined everything," she said darkly. "But I'm going to make sure you never ruin anything again!"
To my horror, the girl raised the pistol level with Ben's head. I couldn't even scream.
"Put down the gun, miss Foster," an authoritative voice spoke loudly from the trees. "You're surrounded. You pull that trigger and you'll be dead before you hit the ground."
I still couldn't breathe, even as Amy threw her gun to the ground in disgust and armed police forces materialized from the dark trees.
I saw Detective Martin and Agent Sadusky, as well as about six others, both FBI and police. It filtered into my subconscious that it had been Sadusky who had ordered Amy to drop her gun. If I hadn't had other things on my mind, I would have recognized the familiar Brooklyn accent.
My breath came out in a gasp and I threw myself into Ben's arms, trying not to cry. He stroked my hair and held me tight until I had regained composure.
After the gang members had been handcuffed and hauled to the squad cars on the nearby road, Detective Martin approached Ben. "Mr. Gates, I see you chose to ignore my advice," he said in a slightly irritated tone.
"Mr. Gates isn't very good at following orders when he knows he's doing the right thing." Agent Sadusky looked us over with a characteristic raised eyebrow. "Well, how many felonies were committed in this latest escapade, Ben?"
Ben allowed a small smile and pretended to think. "Actually, I think I may have come out of this one scott-free for once. Thanks for your concern though."
"No problem. Well, you followed a tiny, little-known link leading to the Foster family and uncovered a gang of dangerous cultists. I'm impressed. I see you learned more at that ridiculous summer camp in Salem than how to arouse hostility in senior counselors."
Ben looked confused. "How did you know about…" His eyes suddenly grew wide and the expression on his face became extremely comical to those of us looking on. "Wait... That was you?! You were that counsellor that we... Oh man. You've, uh, changed quite a bit in 27 years, Agent Sadusky," he stammered, looking for all the world like a little boy caught in the act of practical joking.
Sadusky shrugged "So have you, Ben. You've come a very long way from hiding rocks in people's sleeping bags and rigging booby traps on the archery range. You've moved on to kidnapping Presidents and stealing national documents," he said seriously. If I hadn't been watching carefully, I would have missed the small smile that tugged at the corner of his stern mouth. "Working at that camp was a summer job. And one that I wasn't cut out for. We'll leave it at that. Miss Amy Foster can follow her ancestor's example and spend a good long time behind bars."
Sadusky caught sight of Riley who was leaning heavily against a tree, but nevertheless enjoying himself at Ben's expense. "You going to need an ambulance?"
"No," Riley said firmly.
Surprisingly, the FBI agent didn't argue. "All right, let's get you all home then. These kids' parents are waiting for them. We'll need statements from all of you, but I think it can wait until you're patched up."
We loaded the sleepy children into one of the squad cars and we climbed in the other. Riley was asleep five minutes after the car started moving.
"He needs medical attention," Ben muttered, glancing at the younger man protectively.
"That's why we're headed for the hospital, Ben," Agent Sadusky replied from the front seat. "He might get out of the ambulance trip, but your friend needs more than a few days rest."
I smiled gratefully and pushed a wayward strand of brown hair off Riley's forehead. "Thank you, Agent Sadusky."
Upon arriving at the hospital and being gently woken up, Riley proceeded to wax eloquent on all the reasons he did not need to be there. The argument ended with Ben and Sadusky bodily hauling the young man through the door just short of kicking and screaming.
Thirty-two stitches and a lot of pain-killer later, Riley was blissfully silent again, sleeping like a log in the guest room of our house. We had insisted he come home with us so that we could remind him about his medication and keep an eye on him for a few days while he recovered. He had not argued.
"Still sleeping?" I asked, coming up behind Ben as he checked on Riley a day later.
Ben nodded. "It's going to take him a few days to get back to his usual self."
"I don't know. He did pretty well at the hospital. I think the doctor was ready to forcefully evict him. Not to mention that poor nurse…"
Ben smiled. "And he wonders why he doesn't have a girlfriend."
We both laughed softly, watching Riley sleep, and feeling ridiculously like parents before our time.
"So Ben, I got a couple of interesting phone calls earlier," I changed the subject, quietly pulling the door shut to Riley's room.
"Oh really?" He raised an eyebrow.
"One was from Agent Sadusky. He wanted to tell us that all of the cult group have been apprehended. And he let me know the court dates. And the other was from Rachel Philips."
Ben looked surprised. "Rachel Philips?"
"Yes. She heard about everything on the news. She invited all of us, including Sophie, Luke, and Andrew, to her house for a barbecue." I smiled, glad to share my surprise. "She wants us to meet her parents, and I suspect she wants Riley to sign her book."
Ben smiled. "He's going to love that."
"I told her we'd be there. It's next Friday."
"What's next Friday?" Riley's groggy voice reached us as he came out of his room, still blinking sleep from his eyes.
"Riley? Did we wake you?" Ben asked apologetically.
"Nah. I was hungry." He shook his head with a yawn, then looked at us suspiciously. "Why? Were you talking about me?"
I grinned. "Actually, we were. Did you know you have a fan?"
Riley threw us a disgusted look. "What? You mean besides you two? No way." He rolled his eyes.
"She wants you to write another book," Ben said.
Riley blinked. "She? Wait...I missed something…"
"Don't get your hopes up. She's only fifteen," I added with a laugh. Riley was fun to tease when he was drugged up. "But I think you'll like her anyway. Rachel helped us find you. She's invited us to a barbecue on Friday."
Riley leaned back against the wall and smiled, crossing his arms. "Hmm...food, book-signing, fans. I think I can handle that."
On Friday afternoon, we again pulled up to the Philip's house, this time to be welcomed with smiles and light conversation from Rachel and her parents. They led us to the spacious backyard where tables and chairs had been set up to accommodate us as well as the children and their parents.
It was good to see the twins and little Andrew safe and enjoying themselves. We watched them play while we got acquainted with their parents and Rachel's family. Jason, Rachel's younger brother, practically glued himself to Ben, asking question after question about the Templar Treasure and Cibola. Apparently, Riley wasn't the only one who had a fan.
I watched Riley as he sat devouring a second hamburger and talking to Rachel at the same time. They had hit it off immediately after Riley had signed her book. She was probably trying to convince him of the necessity for a sequel.
After a while, Riley joined Ben and I, happily munching on a plate of chips. He still had some bruises, but he was healing well.
"So now we'll have to hear forevermore how Abigail saved our butts with her fantastic off-road driving abilities?" Riley questioned mischievously.
"Thank you for the overwhelming show of gratitude, Riley." I rolled my eyes and stole a chip from his plate. "And yes, now that you mention it, I think I will rub it in."
"Yeah, well, at least I can get away. You're stuck with her." He smirked at Ben.
"Huh, I don't know how I'll manage." Ben kissed me playfully.
Riley threw us a very child-like look of disgust. "Oh great," he muttered. "I've incited a 'mush moment.'"
We ignored him and continued our kiss.
"Fine. Enjoy yourselves, but let me remind you that there are kids around."
"Not the least of which is standing around making obnoxious comments." Ben told him pointedly.
"I'm not a kid, Ben."
"Yes, you are."
"Riley, don't argue with your father," I chided seriously, bringing an outburst of indignation from both of my boys.
I laughed. "You brought it on yourselves."
Ben rolled his eyes and kissed my forehead. "You ready to go home? It's past Riley's bedtime."
"Ben!" Riley wailed.
They kept it up all the way home until I threatened to make them sleep in the garage. Secretly though, I couldn't have been happier to have them both safe and sound.
AN/ Again, thanks soooo much to everyone who read and reviewed! It means a lot to me that you can find enjoyment in this story, which I consider to be full of holes! I honestly didn't expect such a lovely response to this tale. Ya'll are great! You encourage me to keep writing better and better. Thanks a million!
Long Star Trek story (Original Series) should be coming along soon if I can get a few more chapters written, (at the moment, I'm hopelessly stuck!) and get my Bonanza story finished and posted. (Maybe a few more reviews on that one would hurry things along? ;)