This is my somewhat-belated Christmas present to you all, loosely based off InnocentGuilt's Butterfly Verse (Star Trek 2009), which is lovely and deserves a read if you don't mind a bit of slash.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. References are made to LoremIpsum's Memories, I think (because I've read that story way too many times), and also save changes to normal's Closed Break, if only because I love the idea that Ben and Riley went to college together.
1. Riley has a sweet tooth that can't possibly be healthy. Skittles, gum, gummy bears, Smarties, Kit-Kats- you name it, he'll eat it. He's even been known to nick some chocolate from Abigail's stash on occasion.
2. On the three most important debates, Riley falls in the following three camps: Pepsi, Ninja, and Google.
3. No, seriously, Riley refused to look at Ben until he made a midnight run to the nearest gas station for a six-pack of Mt. Dew, because they had work to do and Riley refused to step foot in Bens apartment until the abomination that was Mellow Yellow was eradicated. Ian was furious. Shaw laughed until he cried.
4. Riley is kind of, sort of, just a little bit ambidextrous. Ben only noticed it during finals season, when their psycho Composition teacher made them turn in a handwritten draft of their essay, and he couldn't decide if Riley's handwriting kept switching or he was just hallucinating from lack of sleep.
5. He has this weird habit of hanging upside-down off things, like beds and chairs and couches. He also has this habit of falling asleep in said position, and Ben can't begin to comprehend how he can be so relaxed with all the blood rushing to his head.
6. Riley sings in the shower when he thinks there's nobody else around. Ben is never quite sure on the song choices, but he always has to keep himself from humming whatever part of the song he heard later.
7. For as long as he can remember, Riley has taken Ben's shirts without asking. He doesn't really know why, but after the one time he caught Riley strolling around in the dead of winter with only a tshirt and jeans on because his hoodie had been destroyed beyond repair, he stopped making a fuss. (besides, he will admit, they're really comfortable)
8. Riley's favorite number is eight. (well, other than forty-two) Ben can't fathom why.
9. Green is his favorite color, and he has a pair of fluorescent green Converses he'll wear every once in a while, so bright they'll make Ben's eyes hurt if he stares at then too long.
10. Riley kind of, sort of failed his history class freshman year. He made up for it the following summer, with the help of three juniors that would have otherwise failed pre-calc.
11. Riley's middle name is James, after his grandfather (on his mother's side)
12. For a while he knew Riley as Jamie, right around when they met in college. He switched to James shortly after, and Riley after graduation, but every once in a while he'll still slip up and call the younger man 'Jamie'
13. Riley was born in California, and consequently had never seen snow until he moved to the East Coast.
14. Riley was born on July 7th. He didn't manage to figure it out until 2007, the day that Riley's book came out (because that was really too awesome of a date to miss) and he whined about having to sign books on his birthday instead of partying.
15. Riley was an incredibly smart kid, one of those kids taking classes with people years older than him, which resulted in him getting accepted into college three semesters early (history could only hold him back for so long, after all.)
16. He first learned how to use a computer for less-than-legal purposes when he was seven, and his big brother taught him how to rewrite his computer game so he couldn't lose. It was awesome, and he later figured out how to rework it so his brother couldn't win, which was just as awesome.
17. Ben's about 80% sure that Riley spent most of his teenage years in his beat-up red van. It always seemed like Riley was constantly on the move, and the clutter hastily shoved in the back whenever they drove out to find something helped confirm Ben's suspicions.
18. Riley's big brother Josh is four years older than Ben, which makes him a nearly twenty years older than Riley. They don't talk much, but as far as Ben can tell Josh is the closest thing to family that Riley's got.
19. Heights tend to pose a problem for Riley. It's not that he's scared of them- not really. He has no problem with the good views. It's more that he's terrified of falling. It causes difficulty when they're going down a rickety staircase into what feels like a bottomless pit.
20. When he thinks no one is looking, Riley will bite his lip or clench his fist or kick at a rock, nothing too noticeable but just enough to cause a jolt of pain, and that's always just enough to pull him out of whatever thoughts are plaguing him.
21. Riley hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since he turned twenty-three. At parties and fancy little gatherings he'll stuck with punch or soda or water, if there's nothing else. He claims it's because he doesn't like the taste, but that doesn't account for the way he gets tenser the more Ben and Abigail drink.
22. That being said, Riley is kind of, sort of, a little bit of a caffeine junkie. His poison of choice is nearly always fizzy, but some mornings when he isn't paying attention his favorite coffee mug will go missing and Riley'll be sitting across the table with a sleepy-smug look on his face.
23. Riley was number-two singles on the high school tennis team. (Yeah, Ben doesn't know either.)
24. He never took a foreign language, but he's fluent enough in Shakespearean English, Elvish, French, and Klingon to leave you with the vague feeling that you've just been thoroughly insulted.
25. Riley doesn't believe in Santa Clause. He'll believe in almost anything else- ghosts, UFOs, the Tooth Fairy- but he'll roll his eyes every Christmas Eve when they lay out a plate of cookies.
26. That being said, Riley kind of, sort of, just a little bit loves to bake. When it comes to actual cooking he sticks to the basics, but give him a bit of flour and chocolate and he'll whip up the best batch of brownies the Gates family has ever tasted.
27. Riley idolizes Johnny Depp, nearly as much as Abigail does. Ben doesn't get it, but they both insist that 'it's not weird if it's Johnny Depp'.
28. For sixth months during their second year in college (Riley was going for his first degree, Ben for his Master's) Riley was best friends with a foreign exchange student (Aiden) from Ireland. They still email pretty regularly, and every so often Riley will burst out into an Irish accent that will often confuse the recipient enough for him to make his escape. (It drives Abigail insane.)
29. Riley is kind of, sort of, just a little bit (ok, a lot) claustrophobic. They both still have nightmares about the time that Riley got trapped alone in an elevator.
30. He has this eye for detail that never fails to amaze Ben. The kid can't remember to eat three meals a day, but he can remember the license plate of Ian's getaway car.
31. Riley knows every line from The Princess Bride. Apparently it's a 'classic'.
32. On that note, Riley can spout random quotes infinitely. Ben has no idea where he gets them, but it always seems like he has the perfect quote for whatever situation.
33. Riley honestly never stops talking. He'll talk and talk and talk just to make sure that there's no quiet, because he can't stand quiet. If it's unimportant, he'll talk about it for hours- he complained about a splinter from their Templar adventure for months. It's when Riley goes quiet that Ben starts to worry.
34. Because here's the thing- Riley won't shut up as long as the subject is stupid or trivial or not related to him. But when things start to hit home, when something's wrong, Riley'll go dead silent, and Ben won't be able to get him to talk. If he's really hurt, he won't say anything, and then Ben fills up the silence with desperate attempts to make everything alright before it's too late.
35. Sometimes Ben is convinced that Riley stopped ageing the day he turned seventeen. It might be because of his clothes, which never quite make the jump to formal, or it might be his utter lack of tact, but mostly it's the way he'll light up over the smallest things, and Ben wonders if he ever really had a childhood.
36. Riley has this stupid sort of love for t-shirts with funny sayings on them. Abigail's personal favorites are the Mario ones, but Ben holds a soft spot for the Pac-man shirt.
37. Riley is one of the country's youngest millionaires- turns out half a percent can get you pretty far- but he is a total Scrooge when it comes to spending.
38. That being said, Riley has four nieces and nephews out West, and he spoils them rotten.
39. Riley knows how to ride a horse. Mostly because he bought one of aforementioned nieces a pony. He fell off only once but once was enough for Abigail to take an astonishing amount of pictures and hide them somewhere where he couldn't find them.
40. He has named each and every one of his laptops. His latest one is named Kylie, the one before that Miguel, and his first one ever Shelley, after his favorite babysitter.
41. He has a Facebook, a Twitter, a Formspring, a Youtube, two blogs, but not a Myspace, because "nobody ever goes on Myspace anymore"
42. This one isn't much of a secret, but Riley is a total geek. He's familiar with the 'verses of both Star Wars and Star Trek, with a little of Doctor Who thrown in on the side.
43. Riley's big brother is fairly well-known in the directing world, so every time he gets the chance Riley'll fly across the country to go to a premiere or some other event. He's been to Comic-Con half a dozen times and dragged Ben twice. Ben had never seen Riley look more at home.
44. Riley used to have a mom, a dad, and two younger sisters. He doesn't anymore, and Ben can't imagine how much that hurts.
45. On really bad days when he can't bear to go home, Riley can be found in one of two places: curled up in the apple tree in the back yard, or underneath Ben's ancient desk. He'll have something else with him, a book or his laptop or his iPod or something to distract him. But he'll also have a tiny stuffed pink rabbit, tucked away underneath his arm where he thinks nobody else can see it. Ben hasn't ever had the heart to ask about it, but he knows enough to make some educated guesses.
46. He loves nearly every kind of music, from classical to rock to blues to almost anything but country, but for some bizarre reason, Riley has this inexplicable fascination with nineties pop.
47. Riley can pick locks. Not just the electronic security kind like Ben has installed, but regular locks that need a key. He even has a little kit- Ben caught him one time hunched in front of a closet trying to find his birthday presents.
48. Riley (kind of, sort of, a little bit) has no comprehension of privacy. It's not like he walks in at bad times (although he had done that at least once), it's that he's a cuddler. It's not much- an arm draped around Ben's shoulders, a hand lingering around Abigail's waist- and with anyone else, it'd be awkward or just flat-out weird, but it's one of those things that's so undeniably Riley that Ben has gotten used to it.
49. Because here's the thing about Riley- he has this shirt he'll wear, every once in a while that says FREE HUGS in old faded letters. He'll wear it once every few months, and Ben will drop what he's doing, no matter how important, and they'll go down to the basement and spend the whole day watching movies, and Riley will fall asleep curled up next to Ben, and they won't be able to look each other in the eye the next day but Riley will feel better and Ben will feel less guilty because whenever he sees that shirt it's like a reminder that he is kind of a lousy friend.
50. Because the thing is, Riley needs Ben, not in an ew kind of way but in a way that everybody needs a best friend. Riley needs Ben because everybody needs someone to pick up the pieces when they fall apart. Because Riley didn't have the best life, and Ben will do whatever it takes to change that. He'd deny it until his last breath, but Ben is someone Riley couldn't live without.
And maybe that's the best secret of all.
I do plan on continuing with these, with one for both Abigail and Ben, but that wasn't my news.
As a Christmas gift and an early beginning of my New Year's resolution to write more, anyone who reviews can pick one of the numbers above and I'll write the story behind it. The only exceptions are 19, 29, and 44. (Mostly because I plan on writing those anyway as part of something different.)
Happy holidays to everyone!