Title: Red Jello
Disclaimer: I don't own National Treasure. Disney does. They own everything. If you check, you'll see they own your soul.
Summary: Riley's sick. What more can you want?
Note: This is set between the two movies, very close to the ending of the first. Sorry for the first post of this. For some reason, the uploader took off all my quotation marks.
Chapter I: Orange Juice and an Empty Apartment
"A jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well." Henny Youngman
Ever since finding the Templar Treasure, Riley had been trying to give Ben some space. He wasn't angry at the treasure hunter, and he'd even gotten over the whole having to split one percent. No, the reason why he was trying to give Ben space was because for the first time since he and Ben had been friends, Ben was in a serious relationship, and Riley didn't want to crowd the two new lovebirds. However, Riley was really wishing he had someone to talk to considering how miserable he felt. He had a fever, his entire body ached, his chest was tight, his head was stuffed up, his throat burned, and to top everything off, it felt as though his lungs had been filled with jello. That last part really irked him; he hated jello, especially red jello. In fact, Riley didn't know anyone who liked red jello.
The only thing that was keeping him sane at the moment was the laptop sitting on his legs. There were four programs running on it: a chat box that was depressingly void of conversation, Microsoft Word, a program writer, and a game of Tetris.
Feeling a familiar tickle in the back of his throat, Riley grabbed a tissue from the box sitting on his coffee table and coughed loudly into it. He was hoping it was only going to be that one cough, but of course it wasn't. The first cough led to a second which was followed by a third, and before he knew it, Riley was in the middle of a full blown coughing fit. It went on for several minutes, and by the time it was over, Riley lay on the couch panting and covered in a cold sweat.
"Water," Riley said in a raspy voice. He reached pathetically toward the kitchen, but sighed when his hand fell about ten feet short.
With another raspy cough, Riley threw the blanket off his legs and made his way to the kitchen. He grabbed a class from the cabinet and filled it with water. He drained the glass quickly and then filled it again. Riley took the glass back to the couch and crawled back under his blankets.
"I am miserable," Riley said to his ceiling. He was disappointed by his ceiling's lack of sympathy.
With a low groan, Riley leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He'd only meant to close his eyes for a moment, but before he knew, he'd fallen asleep.
It was dark out when Riley woke up, and he'd wondered how long he'd been asleep. Reaching for his cellphone which was laying on the coffee table, Riley let out another raspy cough; it was amazing how his lungs could as though they were filled with some disgusting fluid, but his throat just burned from dryness. Riley opened the phone and saw that it was 5:00; he'd been asleep for two hours.
In all honesty, Riley didn't get sick that often, but when he did, it was quite a show. His freshman year of college, he started getting sick during midterms. He tried to work through the illness, but after three straight days of studying and no sleep, Riley had passed out during a java exam. He'd ended up hospitalized for three days; Riley swore he would never go through that again.
Seldom getting sick meant another thing for Riley; he didn't really know what to do when it happened. He always heard people say to rest and get fluids. He was lying on the couch, and there were sodas and energy drinks in his fridge. A nagging, little voice in the back of his head, which sounded suspiciously like Abigail, told him that what was in his fridge were not what people meant by "fluids."
"Anyone want to go to the store for me?" Riley shouted to his empty apartment; there was no response, and with another disgruntled sigh, Riley got himself off the couch. He could take his car down to the convenience store, but searching for his keys in the mess he called an apartment seemed like a more daunting task than just walking the block to the convenience store. Grabbing his hoodie from the kitchen counter, Riley made his way out the front door.
He noticed that the sky was looking pretty dark for it only being a little past five, and the clouds looked awful ominous. For a moment, Riley considered going back inside and getting his keys, but by the time he found the keys, he could have already gotten to the store.
His walk to the convenience store was not horrible, but the cool D.C. wind was not doing much for his already aching chest. He entered the store and relished the warm air that entered his lungs when he did. Riley made his way straight back to the drink coolers, pulled one open, and grabbed six bottles of orange juice. Riley carried his drinks back up to the front of the store and set them down on the counter.
"It's really coming down out there," said the clerk, a thirty-something woman with short brown hair, as she began to ring up his drinks.
"What?!" Riley looked out the doors and his heart fell; it was pouring down rain. It seemed that in the minute and a half he had been in store, someone had taken the liberty of splitting open the sky.
"Maybe it will lighten up?" said Riley hopefully. A flash of lightening and a crack of thunder dashed his hopes.
"$9.82," said the clerk.
Riley paid for his drinks and took the bag from the clerk. For a moment, Riley rested his hand on the door and watched to see if the rain showed any signs of tapering off; it didn't. With a heavy sigh, he pushed open the door and made his way out into the rain.
Riley was only about halfway back to his apartment, but he was already soaked through. He was freezing, and his aching body and joints were screaming at him to get out of the rain. For some reason, Riley thought it would be a good idea to run, considering it would get him out of the rain fast. Riley took off, but only after a few yards, his foot slipped, and he went crashing to the rain soaked sidewalk. The drinks went all across the sidewalk, and Riley rolled onto his back to grab at his now throbbing elbow.
For several seconds, Riley lay on the ground and stared up the sky, which was still pouring buckets of rain onto him. "It's because I stole the Declaration of Independence, isn't it?" Riley shouted up at whatever deity was starting down at him. When no response came, Riley rolled to his knees, gathered up his drinks, and got back to his feet.
Riley made it back to his apartment without further incident, but his clothes were soaked through. All he wanted to do was change into some nice, dry clothes and curl back up on the couch.
Dropping the bag of drinks on the kitchen counter, Riley made his way to his bedroom. He had to change all his clothes, including his boxers, before he could enjoy the lumpy comfort of his couch. Relishing the feel of warm, dry clothes on his freezing and aching body, Riley made his way back out to the living room. With another raspy cough, he all but collapsed onto the couch. For several minutes, Riley contemplated getting back on his laptop, but before he could make up his mind, he'd fallen asleep.
An annoying ringing woke Riley from his rather peaceful sleep. Throwing back his blankets, Riley groped for his phone as he sat up. Flipping open the phone, Riley broke into yet another couching fit; this one was wore that any from before, probably because he had gone running through the rain.
As the couching finally died away, Riley could hear someone saying his name. He looked around the apartment, but didn't see anyone. It took him another few seconds to realize it was coming from the phone in his hand.
"Hello?" said Riley into the phone.
"Riley? Thank God! Are you okay?" It was Ben's worried voice on the other end.
"Yeah." It came out as a rasp, so Riley cleared his throat and tried again. "Yeah. I've just got a cold."
"You sound horrible."
"Thank you. That makes me feel a lot better."
"Sorry." There was a pause. "I was calling to see if you wanted to come over for dinner tomorrow."
"Dinner?" Didn't Ben want to be alone with Abigail?
"Yeah. Dinner. It's a custom a lot of people follow which involves food and conversation. We haven't seen you for awhile, and Abi and I thought you might like a free meal."
As nice as the dinner sounded, Riley didn't really want to be a third wheel to Ben and Abigail, not to mention that spending anytime with him would probably make them both sick.
"That's nice of you, Ben, but I don't want to make you or Abi sick."
There was another pause. "How sick are you, Riley?"
Riley didn't know how to respond. If he told the truth, Ben would get all worried and insist on coming over, and as much as Riley would have enjoyed his friend's company, he didn't feel like getting Ben sick. On the other hand, Riley was miserable, and he didn't know how well he could play off the "It's just a cold" card. He decided to try anyway.
"It's just a cold, Ben," Riley lied. "I swear."
"Do you need anything?"
"Got a couch and orange juice. What more do I need?" To be honest, it was a real question.
Riley laughed, which turned into a brief coughing fit. "Not if you're making it, Ben. I've had your cooking."
"Hey! I'm a good cook."
"Yeah." Riley scoffed. "To the poor unfortunate people without taste buds." Both friends laughed.
"Are you sure you don't need anything?" asked Ben.
"I'm fine, Ben. If you make the offer for the weekend, I'll come over."
"I think that could work out."
"Good. I'll see you then."
"Kay. See ya, Riley."
Riley flipped the phone shut and leaned his head back. The phone call had taken a lot out of him, and he could feel his eyes drifting shut.
"Maybe walking home through the rain wasn't the best idea," Riley thought to himself as another set of coughs wracked his body. In a little while, when he had more energy, he'd get up and get some of the juice he bought.
As Ben walked into the kitchen, he set his phone onto the kitchen counter and let out a sigh.
"Is he coming?" asked Abigail, who sat at the kitchen table reading a book.
"No," said Ben, not bothering to hide the disappointment in his voice. "He said he would come over this weekend."
"Why not tomorrow? We haven't seen him in forever."
"He has a cold." Ben took a seat next to Abigail.
"You don't sound convinced."
Ben sighed. "Oh. I'm convinced that he has a cold. I'm not convinced that it is just a cold."
"Did he sound that bad?" Abigail sounded worried.
"In all honesty," said Ben, "he sounded horrible."
"Why don't you go over there?"
"I offered," replied Ben, "but he kept saying that it was just a cold, and that he didn't want me to get sick."
Abigail set her book down. "This isn't right. Riley shouldn't be by himself when he's sick."
"Should I just go over there?" asked Ben.
She shook her head. "No." She paused for a moment to think. "I've got it. I'll make a big batch of chicken soup, and you can take it over to him tomorrow."
Ben started laughing, remembering his conversation with Riley from earlier.
"What's so funny?"
Ben looked up at her. "What?"
"What's so funny?" He mouth dropped open. "Are you laughing at my cooking skills?"
Ben was shocked. "What? No!" He tried to collect his thoughts. "No. You see…earlier-"
"Just for that, you can go to the store for me."
"But it's 9:30!"
Abigail smirked. "You'd better hurry then."
Ben sighed as Abigail began to list the things she needed.