A/N: Happy Thanksgiving! Kinda. Little tardy, I know. But hey, that's life. You don't need to have read any of my stories to get this. I promise. This is just a for fun thing. Although, I guess everything is a for fun thing here. Right. So anyway, on with the disclaiming.
Disclaimer: None be mine.
"This. Is all. Your. Fault."
"Psh. Yeah? How?"
"You so did that on purpose."
"How could I have possibly done that on purpose? Riley, you can't blame me for something I had no control over."
"Oh, but I can. I don't know how you did it, Ben, but somehow, some way, you planned that. It was your idea for me to carry the cranberry sauce, which I hate by the way. As unnatural a concoction as I've ever heard of. And it was your idea for me to go first."
"It was not my idea for you to go first. You didn't want to carry the turkey-or anything else-so as soon as I placed the cranberry sauce, monstrously heavy burden as it is-was-in your hands, you took off."
"He does have a point there, Riley."
The front door opened, and Patrick stood there, looking the group over. "Abigail. Son. Riley. I'm assuming that's not blood." The elder Gates was referring to the reddish sticky stuff coating the front of Riley Poole's sweater.
Riley was about two steps away from pouting. He sent a glare toward Ben. "Oh, there may yet be blood."
Ben tried to explain, "We had a little mishap on the way in."
"It wasn't a mishap. It was sabotage," Riley insisted.
Tired of her boys bickering, though more than a little amused, Abigail Gates cut in. "Riley slipped on a patch of ice. Ben laughed. Riley's mad. At Ben and possibly all of nature. Hope you have some extra cranberry sauce." She placed a bowl of dinner rolls in Patrick's hands and kissed him on the cheek as he moved aside to let the three of them in. "Happy Thanksgiving."
"Same to you, my dear. Riley," the older man didn't even try to hide his smile. "You can probably find an extra shirt in the bedroom. You know where everything is, right?"
"Yes. You know what? Fine. All of you. Go ahead and laugh. I could've broken my spine or something. Not to mention how crazy it is for there to be snow on the ground at this point. There's a reason nobody sings 'I'm dreaming of a white Thanksgiving,' you know. So, yes. Laugh, while I go peel off this sweater which is no doubt irreparably damaged by the one Thanksgiving dish I wouldn't eat if my life depended on it. And this sweater wasn't cheap, you know." He skulked off toward the bedroom.
"Unlike a certain computer geek we happen to know…" Ben muttered, making sure he was heard by a certain computer geek he happened to know…
"Highly trained computer specialist!" Came the very loud, very indignant reply. "And I'm not cheap!"
"Those two never stop," Patrick grinned and shook his head as he went around the kitchen, scooping mashed potatoes and corn and green beans into their respective serving dishes.
Abi was already setting the table. "Never. Actually, since I've had to live with the two of them, I think I've developed an immunity to Tylenol."
The older man chuckled. Ben was less than amused. He set the turkey on the counter. "Come on. That's all him."
"You egg him on."
"They're impossible because they both have to have the last word. Which is impossible, hence…the headaches." Abigail smiled smartly at him, though her words were directed toward Patrick.
"Oh, believe me. They've given me my share of headaches."
"Okay, maybe I do goad him on. A little. But that's only because he makes it so darn easy. And besides, it's good for him."
Abi sent him a funny look. "Good for him. Really? Please explain."
Before Ben could answer, Riley came stomping back out of the bedroom wearing an MIT sweatshirt that fairly swallowed him. He was still trying to look mad, but it wasn't working as well as it usually did. "Anybody else getting a weird sort of déjà vu?"
Ben and Patrick shared a smile that went right over Abigail's head. "You look great, kiddo. Food's ready," Patrick said.
"And by the way, no one missed the fact that you magically appeared just in time for everything to be ready," Ben said.
Riley smirked. "I do have great timing."
"All right, all right. Let's say grace." They bowed their heads as Patrick said a blessing for the food and sent up thanks for their close if dysfunctional little family.
"Amen. Oh, wait, Dad, you forgot to thank God that Riley didn't break his spine."
With eyes glaring mutinously at Ben, Riley held up one hand, and said lowly, "Abi, pass me the mashed potatoes."
"You start a food fight at this table, Riley Poole, I'll make sure you don't have a whole lot to be thankful for," Patrick cut in as Abi hid a smile behind her napkin.
Riley rolled his eyes, disappointed at being preempted. "Yes, Dad." He looked down and picked at his turkey so no one would see the shy smile that always managed to escape when he made that kind of joke. That didn't stop the three other people from noticing, though. They knew to watch for it. Riley looked up in time to see the silent, collective, awwww, and he pulled a face. "What?"
"Okay, that was definitely some déjà vu," Ben said, grinning at his dad as Riley gave a huge sigh and rolled his eyes again.
Abi was looking back and forth among the three men. "What are you guys talking about?"
"Just remembering the first time I met this strapping young man," Patrick said, pointing a fork in Riley's direction.
"I thought I was there when you first met Riley."
"When? The night the three of you showed up on my porch? No, that's not when I met him. It was a few years earlier than that."
Abigail leaned forward in her seat, intrigued and a little put out that she didn't already know this. "Wait. You're telling me you two have known each other for years? Ben, I thought you told me you rescued him from some 'windowless cubicle' and dragged him off to hunt down the treasure with you."
Ben shrugged. "I did. That's what happened. Why would I pick some random guy out of some office? No, we knew each other before that. A few years before that."
She looked over at Riley who shrugged and glanced down at his sweatshirt. "Go Beavers."
Her eyes widened. "MIT? You met at MIT? Riley, I didn't even know you went to MIT."
He blinked. "Oh, did I not mention it? Huh. Well…I went to MIT, Abs."
"Okay, I want the full story. Right now. How did the three of you meet?"
"Well, I'd say Ben and Patrick met fairly early on…"
"You know what I mean. I can't believe you never told me you two went to school together." She turned accusing eyes toward her husband.
Ben held his hands up in surrender. "It never came up." She just looked at him. "You want to hear the whole thing right now?"
"It's probably better than the Pilgrim schpiel you guys do every year…" Riley couldn't help but interject.
Ben pointed a finger at him. "It's not a schpiel. It's history…"
"Well, I want to hear a little bit of our family's history," she insisted.
"I'll tell you how it happened, Abigail," Patrick said, leaning back in his chair, lacing his fingers over his stomach like Ben had seen about ten thousand times before. Story teller mode. "I've heard this story enough times and in enough different versions to give you the gist, I think."
Ben held in a sigh, sharing a look with Riley. "This should be good."
"Well, basically, the two met up when Riley was a Freshman. Ben was a third year, going back to get his degree in, what was it? Mechanical engineering. He was a commuter, though, had an apartment off-campus. From what I've been told, the circumstances of their meeting were roughly simple. Riley got himself in hot water, which set Ben off, which was how they got expelled, which is why they ended up on my porch for Thanksgiving."
The rather loud protests from both MIT alumni drowned out Abigail's gasp at the word "expelled."
"That's not what happened, Dad."
"Not even close. And who says hot water?"
"Wait, wait, wait. Let me just get one thing straight. You two were expelled?"
"No," they said at the same time.
Ben went on, "Dad, you know that's not how it happened."
"Did I get it wrong? Well, I must be confused. If you can tell it better, by all means, the floor is yours." A silent wink toward Abi went unnoticed by the younger Gates.
"All right fine. I will tell it better," Ben said, unconsciously mimicking his father's storyteller pose.
Riley sat back in his own chair, wrapping his arms around himself, feeling the warm soft fabric engulf him. He shook his head. "Man, sometimes I hate history."