A Boy named Riley
Summary: When filling in for history day for a friend at the local elementary school, Ben comes across Riley, a ten year old boy with a history of abusive families. Can he step up to the challenge of becoming a father?
Author's Note: I pretty much love any all stories where Ben is Riley's brother/father or anything. So having read like all ten of them that seem to be available, I decided to delve into a few myself. Admittedly, I may be a little rusty at this, it's been a few years since I actually posted a story, and it's been a few months since I've had time to even write, so forgive any errors and if anyone would like to beta please let me know.
Rated: PG-13 (violent images, suggested child abuse, language)
The courtroom was packed with people, all there to show their support for the man and the child. After seven years of being utterly absent in the boy's life, his father had shown up demanding to have his son back.
Upon his arrival on the case, Jacob Jones had made it exceptionally clear to Ben as well as the boy and his case worker, that while this should be an open and shut case. The boy's father would have to be proven utterly incapable of being a good role model, for them to give Ben the child.
After four days, probably one of the longest adoption cases Jones could recall, deliberation had finally been made. And now, a boy, barely ten years old sat on the witness stand, staring out at the crowd with his big blue eyes, looking for all the world as though he were lost and alone. And he was asked the one question he knew the answer to, but was terrified to say.
"Riley, are you aware that in accordance to the District of Columbia, as well as Child Protective Services, you are not yet considered old enough to make this decision on your own?"
Riley looked up at Judge Cooper, she seemed like a nice older lady, and her heard seemed to be in the right place, that helped. But Riley was aware of this, Mr. Jones had made it very clear early on. Riley would have to testify to the abuse his father had lain on him all those years ago. But the problem was drudging that up. It had taken him two days and when he finally had, it had left him with nightmares and exhausted.
"Yes ma'am," he replied softly.
Sighing, Judge Cooper looked out at the crowd that had gathered this had become a bigger court case than she'd ever intended. But to her surprise many people had come to show their support for both Riley and Benjamin. Two men's lives were hanging in the balance, one faced jail, and one faced fatherhood. And it all came down to one little boy, who for all the world of him, looked utterly petrified. "Riley, come here sweetie," She beckoned him up to her seat, watching as he pushed himself from the pedestal and slowly made his way in front of her. "You're scared aren't you?"
He nodded slowly, "There are lots of people here…and my father looks angry," He whispered the last part so only she heard.
Judge Cooper looked over, and was not surprised to find Mr. Poole looking quite upset. "Riley, the court system says that until you're age twelve, you aren't able to make this decision because you don't think you know what's best, for you. What do you think?"
He shrugged, afraid to answer. She nodded, "Okay, I need an answer sweetie, otherwise I can't make a ruling, and I won't make one until I have an answer from you. What do you think is best for you? Do you like Ben Gates?"
"Has Benjamin ever hit your, or raised his hand in anger?"
"Has your father Andrew Poole?"
"Yes ma'am." He whispered.
She nodded, they already had plenty of proof to put the child's father away, and frankly her decision had been made three days ago when Andrew had screamed in front of the court that Riley was just a whelp who deserved everything he'd gotten. But she wanted to see that Andrew had a full trial and that Riley was sure of the decision he made.
"Okay, why don't you go have a seat with Benjamin, you're shaking sweetie," she gave him a gentle push.
Riley hurried to where Ben was sitting, he wasn't disappointed. Ben immediately lifted the boy into his lap and held him close. Judge Cooper smiled sadly and looked out over the court. "I've been ruling over cases like this, and similar to this one for the past fifteen years. And in fifteen years, I've seen parents who are brave, who are scared, and who face the rest of their life without their child. In every case, it's my decision as the judge to do what I feel is best for the child. In many cases, it's being with the birth mother, or the birth father. Or in many cases it's also handing the child over to the adoptive parents because they have the finances, and ability to support a child. Some of you probably believe and feel that this was an open and shut case. Perhaps it was, but one must know all the facts to decide the best course of action. It's never easy to make these decisions. I always hope that by making the choice I did, I've provided the child with a stable and loving home."
All eyes were on her, so she continued, "It's in my experience I've learned, nine times out of ten, not matter what age the child is. They can usually make the choice themselves. This situation doesn't appear to be any different. It's our civic duty to be good role models to the children in our country. So many children like Riley, are faced with these situations and never get the help they need. I hope we've all learned a valuable lesson here today."
"This court finds that Riley Poole's permanent guardian should be…"
Ben felt the child in his lap shiver, so much had led them here, and this was the moment where Riley's future would be decided. Whether he'd get a future was decided. Ben hated the man Riley once called father, and he didn't want to his son go to such a man. But with the boy in his arms, Ben was well aware he could lose the little boy.