Title: And Then There Was The Labradoodle Incident
Pairing: Ben/Riley (established)
Disclaimer: Not mine. Duh. Keep all rabid mice away from me, plzkthnx.
Notes: Inspired by shadowclub's "17 Things About Bones" on LJ. Humor, crack, exploring the characters, abuse of tenses.
Teaser: Fifteen things that Ben and Riley find out about each other, and two things they haven't. Well. Yet.
And Then There Was The Labradoodle Incident
1. Riley actually has more love for "proper" (hah) music than Ben, who could seemingly survive on a diet of nothing but classic rock and actually has a collection of vinyl records, what the hell, and one night when Riley almost drops one, Ben kind of freaks out and goes on a rant that includes the words, I saw Freddie Mercury at Wembley, Riley! Mercury! Wembley! (Riley manages to calm him down because he has his ways but still.) And Riley likes Ben's taste in music, he likes it a lot actually, but he also likes opera and classical even if he has no understanding of any of it. Not that he'd ever admit to liking it. Ever. On the other hand, Ben knows everything about everything and can list off all kinds of historic connections when he gets dragged to the theater with people who think such activities are a Sign of Great Things— and yet he always comes home looking like he's just been forced to write lines on a chalkboard for hours. "Nails on a chalkboard," Ben corrects the fifth time it happens after they are 'official,' his voice muffled in the pillow after he faceplants onto the bed still wearing his tuxedo. Then he presses his face into Riley's hip and makes fuzzy noises of pain. After this apparently traumatizing incident, Riley takes pity on him and goes with him. He enjoys himself way more than he thought he would, and successfully saves Ben's life when he distracts Abigail before she can see that Ben's already fallen asleep in the middle of the first act.
2. Ben is a pack rat, which Riley learns only after they move in together. Ben will, of course, deny this until he is blue in the face, insists he's just living by the 'waste not, want not' motto, but the simple fact is that he will keep every single object that comes into his possession because there's always the potential it could be useful later on. ("Don't throw away that shoe box, Riley, I can keep my receipts in there.") Unfortunately for anyone that has ever cohabited any dwelling with him for more than a week, this includes old receipts, empty boxes, old clothes, cheap books that he already has a second copy of falling apart at the spines and, well, everything else. But then, Riley buys old computer parts from flea markets and thrift stores so he doesn't really have anything to say and Ben never once looks at him oddly about the aforementioned electronics gathered up in several of the side rooms and, really, he doesn't actually mind anything Ben does because it's still something Ben is doing. (When Abigail visits the house, she rolls her eyes and mutters something that sounds suspiciously like "thank god you can't breed.")
3. Riley was certain he wanted a nice, secure desk job until he had said desk job. Within four days, he realized that his father's violent dislike of all office work was… not crazy. He was only there for six weeks when the history geek with the bored-maybe-a-little-sleepy stare and the questions about a job opportunity showed up. When he realized the guy wasn't just somebody the jerks in the office hired to mock him over his conspiracy theories, he practically climbed over the damn desk to follow him out of the office.
4. Ben doesn't clean the toothpaste off the tube before he puts the cap back on. Ever. No matter how many times Riley waves it at him to get his attention, carefully cleans it off himself and then properly closes it. It will later become a Gates legend that the only time Riley Poole kicks Benjamin Gates out of the house is because of the toothpaste, a fact that Ben is forced to admit to his parents when he shows up needing a place to sleep for the weekend and, no, Ben will never live this moment down. (Abigail makes sure of it.)
5. From the age of eight to sixteen, Riley was raised by his aunt and his father with his cousin because Dad had only retired because he had married Mom and his aunt was too driven to retire, period. At first he really didn't mind, and then he really loved it. Sometimes it was irritating when they moved but, you know, he got a sister in Hadley, which made up for anything that he couldn't deal with. Hadley was the evil genius because she was older and smarter and let's face it, could kick his ass with one arm behind her back, and he was the sidekick because he always got too nervous to be the evil genius and, hey, he kind of liked being the sidekick. By the time Dad retired again after the Labradoodle Incident, they were able to communicate with nothing but facial expressions. (And if he sometimes felt bad about maybe loving his aunt just as much as he had loved his mom, well. He doesn't know how he feels about that until his cousin shows up years later freaking out because his aunt has been kidnapped.)
6. Ben talks in his sleep. A lot. Sometimes randomly but always when he spends too long working on a project or is worried about a lecture the next day. And it always goes the same way. He mumbles a little, goes quiet for a minute or so, and then sits up and starts talking to the empty air offering up historical information like he's giving a lecture. The first twenty-three times this happens, Riley jolts awake in surprise; the next thirteen times, he tries to ignore it. After this, used to it, Riley smacks him with a pillow when his talking goes on longer than three minutes and then simply goes back to sleep.
7. The Converse were the result of a bet with his cousin when he was in college. Hadley swore by them and insisted they were the greatest thing since sliced bread; Riley thought his cousin was a poohead (a regular insult thrown back and forth between them since the age of five) and completely wrong and finally bet her that he would still hate them after wearing them a week. Riley lost. Really badly. (As in, he side tackled her when she tried to steal them to prove that he wanted them.) He still has his first pair but Hadley sends him a new pair every year with a card that reads, "In honor of your [insert number here] anniversary of losing, you loser. Love, H."
8. Ben doesn't like labels. Riley doesn't believe in labels. At all. (According to Riley, his first crush was Vince Miller, who lived down the street when they lived in Nebraska, and his second crush was Ms. Francis, the teacher he had in his last year in high school. And the people he's had sex with are actually a pretty even split.) So neither of them actually believe in labels but when things first develop, Ben does not, at first, handle it so well. Because other people like labels, like putting people into boxes in a way that drives Ben crazy. So it's hard, at first. (Until the incident with the gala. And the President. And the thing with his mother hitting him upside the head with a textbook.)
9. Ben finds out on their way to find the Charlotte that Riley's Dad installed and maintained security systems for years. What he doesn't know but figures out easily enough because he's brainy like that, is that when Mom (and later his aunt) was out of the house, Dad taught Riley (and later Hadley) how to get past the basic alarm systems because "you never know when it'll be useful." Even after he retired the second time, he kept up with security technology because he actually loved his work and took a lot of pride in it. On the other hand, he's deeply suspicious of computers. "This is the boot, son," he always says, staring at his son's laptop like he's sure it's about to start bar-coding everybody, "this is the boot that will be stomping on our face." Riley nods and says "yeah" and then brings the theme from The Omen up on repeat because his Dad giving the computer a slightly frightened version of the evil eye is really too good for words and almost enough for him to want to bring Ben to meet him not that, you know, he will. (Not that he has a choice in the matter when it does happen anyway.)
10. Ben is possessive. Riley had known that he had the quality, had seen it expressed with Abigail, but he'd never expected to see it for him since, well, Ben had never acted possessive of Riley. Then Abigail drags them to one of the penguin parties and he meets the head of a gallery who wants advice on improving their security system and, hey, this person actually realizes that alarms do not work at all because they do not stop anyone ("they make a lot of noise, Ry, but that's all they really do, always film everything and get a few dogs," Dad's voice always always says in the back of his head) and he doesn't realize Ben is glaring a hole in the poor woman's head until Abigail starts shooting him a control your boyfriend look that he is completely baffled by because Ben is not like that— holy shit, he's burning a hole in the lady's head. But Riley still doesn't get it because it doesn't compute. At all. Not even when Ben does him right there in the back of the limo on the way home like he's been celibate for the last two years which is totally untrue, by the way. No, it isn't until hours later when he wakes up in the middle of the night with the familiar warmth of Ben at his side, one arm locked almost too tightly (but not quite) around him, that he starts chuckling like an idiot because, heh, Ben's jealous. It's possibly the giddiest moment of his life. Better even than the first moment he saw his car and knew it was The One (Except For Ben).
11. Riley was once chased through a warehouse full of stolen goods by a Labradoodle. It was a bad experience. Bad enough that he developed a serious fear of extremely fluffy, medium-sized dogs. Years later when Ben gave him the chocolate lab puppy because, yes, Riley, I am serious about this in case us sharing the house didn't prove it for you, the bad experience was no longer quite so bad. (As an added plus, the next time he is chased through an enclosed space by a vicious, fluffy dog, he is saved by his own dog.)
12. There is a reason Ben tries never to get drunk in public. He doesn't get belligerent or stupid (far from it: he can recite historical facts on demand and is mostly tactful right up until someone drinks him under the table) but he does lose a few of his mind-to-body filters that keep him from making too much of an ass of himself (in ways that don't include forgetting birthdays because on this day hundreds of years ago, Thomas Jefferson did something with some guy, oh, my god, I'm going to Abigail's, you can call me when you mature). Like the filter that kept him from physically molesting his object of visual molestation of more than a year when his parents were bickering in the next room over about the proper way to cut the pie and his ex-girlfriend was sitting right there, nodding him on and watching carefully. The exact conversation that Christmas may have gone something like this:
"We could play Poker."
"I'm drinking eggnog."
"Strip poker, Riley."
"You suck at Poker."
Maybe. (And this isn't going into the incident at the Fourth of July celebration that ended in the back of the car while Abigail found herself dragged around by the crazed chocolate lab from one end of the National Mall to the other.)
13. Riley steals Ben's coffee. Constantly. He spends five minutes getting it just the way he likes it, turns away for two seconds to get his breakfast and turns back to find Riley sucking it down while checking his e-mail. Even if Riley isn't around when he left his coffee alone, even if Riley was in the shower when he left his coffee alone, he turns back to his mug and it is gone. Gone. Being rapidly swigged down by a computer nerd in his Marvin the Martian boxers and old AC/DC shirt with his hair sticking up in sixteen directions and a red mark on his cheek from where he'd rested his head on Ben's shoulder through the night. "That's mine," he says the first few times and Riley nods and says "'s good" in that sleepy way that he usually adores and Ben decides that he'll get his coffee the next morning. (He's still waiting for his coffee.)
14. Ben's grandfather was a diver in the Navy, and a really good one. Ben remembers how tons of people showed up to honor the work his grandfather did at his funeral and has never been embarrassed to admit that this is why he had to learn how to dive. Because there's nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to following in his grandfather's footsteps.
15. Riley Poole hates the creepy antique chair that looks like it wants to eat him when he comes downstairs in the middle of the night to get a drink (or watch Conan, you know, whatever). He wants Ben to get rid of it. Ben refuses. The third time Ben finds him poking it with the handle of the broom in the dark, half-asleep, Ben starts keeping a glass of water on the bedside dresser. This doesn't work, since Riley is convinced that the water sitting open will cause him to swallow some kind of lethal dust residing in Ben's creepy fucking house with the creepy fucking chair and if maybe this is just a way of him getting his way when it comes to the chair? Well. His aunt has a saying: "Don't nag your spouse to get a new refrigerator; give them a hot beer and see what they think then." Riley Poole loves his aunt. (When Emily and Patrick come by several weeks after this ordeal begins for dinner to find the chair put in Ben's office, Emily will smile and nod and look pleased that the ways are still being taught.)
16. Ben may be reconsidering his views on marriage. Maybe. He's not at all sure what this means, and he feels kind of crazy when the realization comes one day while Riley is sitting on the couch across the room while their dog tries to use his best puppy eyes to get a piece of the sandwich (their dog still doesn't realize that Ben is the only one who can get his way with Riley with the use of any kind of pout) and he's still wearing his clothes from the night before because he's trying to get a simulation going and there's the vague realization that they've been doing this together for three years now (just counting the official time) and then he decides that he really wants to keep doing this. Not for a few months or a few years but hopefully for as long as he can. It's jarring. But not. Because Riley looks up right then and starts nagging for coffee ice cream since he's going to be stuck doing what he's doing for a while and I need it, don't we have some in the freezer? and, well, the feeling is still there. (Although he probably needs to get a handle on the toothpaste thing before he brings this up.)
17. The aunt that helped raised Riley may technically be defined as a thief by several countries. And she may have been the one that taught him the 'have some random kid run in to get your info' trick. Maybe. So when Sadusky came in after they stole the Declaration to talk to him alone and smirked at him like he was working really hard not to start laughing, he kind of panicked. And by panicked, he means "close to hyperventilating because oh god, I'm going to jail on principle alone" until Sadusky said, "you're not as slick as your aunt, are you?" When Riley stared at him dumbly, Sadusky laughed and nodded and that was that. There were no attempts to use him to get to his aunt. No suspicious looks about his dad. When Ben told him that other little fact about Sadusky later, he spent a good hour muttering to himself about history freaks and kind of wanted to bang his head into a wall because why, why, why didn't he stay in the cubicle? Then he took the thought back immediately, because he knew why he couldn't stay in the stupid cubicle that was closing in on him like those trick walls from the creepy movies. Still, Riley has always believed in the value of a good amount of complaining, just to get it out. Either way, the card he got from his aunt a few days later ("I knew you had it in you" and one of the little hearts she always draws when she forgot herself) was carefully tucked away in the hat box where he keeps his family pictures and the hard drive of his first computer where nobody will find it. (Until Ben does, and then he panics and lies about it and then feels like shit because they never lie to each other and then everything comes out anyway in the middle of the kidnapped aunt drama and, god, he is stupid but at least the stupid antique chair gets shot up before it's over.)
an: there is a good chance i have a series being written in this universe. first the exploration of how they actually got together beyond the christmas incident, and then the question of what the hell that last one is about. why? because i may have an obsession with these two. because they are secretly deep. and need more fic. yeah. they really do.