By Samantha Gold
Feedback: Greatly appreciated, but please, no flames. I respond to almost everything I get and if I get a flame I'm likely to tear the flamer apart.
Author's Note: Response to Kim's challenge. The requirements (there's only two!) are at the bottom.
Second Author's Note: If you like Riley DO NOT read this!!! (And look into therapy.)
Dedication: For Kim because she asked for it and because she's cool!
"Buffy, our one-month anniversary is coming up!" Riley cried excitedly.
Buffy offered him a smile. "Great," she said, with somewhat less enthusiasm. ".So what do you want to do?"
"Um, San Francisco. That is, I thought we could go. There. And, um, meet this friend of mine and her boyfriend...for a d - double date. God, I'm such an idiot! This went so well when I rehearsed it!"
Buffy pursed her lips together. He was still rehearsing their conversations?! Somehow she had never been able to get past that.
"Okay," she said simply. Why not? It wasn't like she had anything better to do. And meeting another couple sounded good. That way she wouldn't have to be alone with him.
"Okay? Yes! We're going to have the greatest time!" Riley shouted, grinning like an idiot.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed, glancing at her wrist. "Oh, Riley, look at the time! I've got to go meet Willow, I completely spaced!"
"But -" Riley started, but she went on.
"I'll see you later, okay? Bye!" With that Buffy ran off.
"But you don't wear a watch," he finished lamely, wondering how she had known what time it was. He sighed and set his shoulders. It didn't matter. They were going to have a great weekend and that was all that mattered. He watched her disappear in the distance, a quirky smile spreading over his lips.
"So you're all packed and ready to go?" Riley asked as he pulled at the trunk door, trying to close it.
"Ready as...ready," Buffy agreed. She raised her eyebrows. "Do you need help with that?"
"This? Oh no, I'm fine, really," Riley assured her. He grunted as he heaved with all his might, but the door still didn't move. "Um, why don't you close this? I'll start the car." He muttered.
Buffy laughed and easily closed the door with a single hand. Then she walked around the car and climbed into the passenger sear - Riley had been adamant that he drive.
Riley smiled over at her as she closed the door. "Be sure to buckle up," he told her with a gesture to his seatbelt as though she didn't know what a seatbelt was.
Buffy sighed, but did. Then Riley popped in a CD. Immediately, Hanson began blaring in the car. Buffy quickly stopped the CD.
Riley gave her a hurt look. "Let's not listen to any music," she suggested when he looked at her, hurt.
Riley smiled and nodded. He put the car in gear and stepped on the gas. They were on their way to San Francisco!
They pulled up in front of the hotel where they were staying. Riley passed Buffy his Visa. "Why don't you check us in?" He asked. "I got us adjoining rooms."
Buffy agreed that that was fine and went inside. As she stepped inside, she felt a familiar electricity rush through her, the likes of which she hadn't felt in months. She looked around frantically, but didn't see him anywhere, so, taking a few deep breaths, she walked on to the front desk.
The man who had just finished paying at the front desk turned around. The breath ran out of her.
"Angel," she breathed before quickly composing herself. "What are you doing here?"
"Buffy," was all Angel said.
Buffy sighed in frustration. "Look, I've got to check in. Let's just pretend."
"That we never saw each other," Angel finished for her.
Buffy nodded. "Right," she agreed, a little disturbed that he could still finish her sentences.
"Okay," Angel stated, his voice void of emotion as he walked away.
Buffy didn't watch him go, instead she went to the front desk and checked in as planned.
The man at the desk handed her two keys and gave her back the visa. She thanked him and went back outside to Riley.
Riley frowned. They were standing in the hotel hallway, outside their rooms. "These rooms aren't joining," he complained as he looked back and forth from the numbers on the keys to the room numbers and back.
Both rooms were joining rooms, they just didn't join to one another. They were, instead, across from each other.
Buffy shrugged. "Don't worry about it," she told him. "It happens, we'll deal. At least we aren't sharing rooms with demons, right?"
Riley laughed. "I guess so," he agreed.
Buffy unlocked her room with her key and Riley did likewise. She tossed her suitcase and carryon on the bed, then set her weapon bag down beside the night table. She had brought it just in case.
Meanwhile, in his room, Riley unpacked the last of the pictures of every one of his relatives. There were his little cousins milking cows, his older brother chopping firewood, his baby sister playing in the mud, and other pictures of that sort. The last picture was an eight by ten of his favourite cow, Betsy, which he set by his bedside. Then he set about unpacking the gym bag he had brought.
Buffy slipped into a black knit tank top and a long silver skirt. She studied herself in the mirror, put a light sweep of violet shadow on her eyes and added a hint of gloss to her lips, then, slipping into black heels, decided she looked fine for dinner.
She met Riley out in the hallway. (We won't get into what he's wearing.)
"They're meeting us there," he told her as they walked. She nodded.
Together they walked down the hall and got into the elevator. Soon they were on the main floor and then at the hotel restaurant.
They walked into the restaurant and spoke to the Maitre D'. He led them to their table. As they were walking, Riley commented to Buffy that the other couple was already there. Buffy nodded, but didn't say anything.
The Maitre D' showed them their table and Buffy froze. Sitting at the table was Angel and a pretty blonde.
"Riley!" The blond said, standing up happily. Buffy stood where she was, frozen in total shock. She knew he had been at the hotel, but she never suspected that fate would be so cruel to her.
Riley smiled. "Haven't seen you in a while, Kate," he said warmly. "How have you been?"
"Good," she said. She gestured to Angel, who was just as frozen as Buffy. "This is -"
"Angel," Buffy murmured, cutting Kate off, finally finding her voice.
"Buffy...um, hi?" Angel said, quite uncomfortably.
".Right. You two know each other?" Kate asked, in confusion.
Buffy and Angel stayed where they were, unmoving, their eyes locked. Neither one made any effort to answer her.
Riley cleared his throat. "Well, I guess that means we can skip the introductions?" He said with forced cheerfulness, trying to lighten the mood.
Buffy forced herself to look away from Angel. "Right," she agreed, her voice tight.
Riley sat down next to Kate, whom was sitting next to Angel, leaving Buffy with no choice but to sit down next to her one-time lover. Riley and Kate, sensing the tension between their significant others, found themselves wrapped up in their own private conversation.
"So...um, how have you been?" Angel asked, trying to break the uncomfortable silence between them.
Buffy looked down at her empty plate and didn't answer him for a few seconds. After what felt like forever, she looked up at him through hurt-filled eyes. "So everything you told me was a lie?" She asked in a harsh whisper. "You tell me that you're leaving so that I can have a normal life, then you hook up with the first bitch to come your way?"
Angel swallowed. "Buffy, let me explain," he pleaded, his voice low.
"So explain," she snapped, crossing her arms. This had to be the worst date she'd ever been on, and that said a lot considering her last date with Riley.
She controlled the involuntary shudder that came with the thought. It had seemed innocent enough. They were going to go for a drive. Then the car had run out of gas and they had had to push it to the gas station...which had been five miles away. She had wrecked her shoes in the process. When they finally reached the gas station it had been after dark and it had been infested with vampires. The unexpected slayage had completely taken all the fun out of it. She pushed the thought out of her mind, determined to be big about the whole situation and listen to Angel's explanation.
"Look, Buffy," Angel whispered in a voice so quiet that she could only hear because of her supernatural senses, and that was just the way he wanted it. "I'm not really Kate's boyfriend."
"Funny," she interrupted. "According to the brainiac I'm dating you are."
Angel shook his head. "They used to date a while back, but then they broke up. Apparently they stayed friends, though Riley has been somewhat of a jerk to her." Angel realized whom he was saying that to and quickly stopped himself. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that. I'll be quiet."
"Please, Angel," Buffy scolded him. "I can take whatever you're going to say, just tell me your side."
"Okay," Angel agreed. "Anyway, he was somewhat of a jerk and when you two got together - though I didn't know it was you at the time - he started bragging to Kate...so she started bragging too. Only he asked her to do the double date thing. I owed her a favour and she needed one... So that's why I'm here, we're not really dating."
Buffy thought about that for a few seconds then decided that he was telling the truth. "Oh," she murmured. "Look, I'm sorry that I snapped at you. This is just really-"
"Awkward," Angel finished for her. "Yeah, I know. There goes our plan for pretending we never saw each other."
"Yeah," she admitted. "How do you-"
"Keep finishing your sentences?" Angel finished once again. "I guess I just-"
"Know me too well."
They both smiled.
A few minutes passed in silence. "So is this our fate?" Buffy asked at last. "To keep on going on, trying to move on and getting thrown back together time and time again?"
Angel shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "There's not telling what the Powers That Be have in store for us."
Before Buffy could reply, the waiter showed up, asking to take their orders. While Angel, Kate, and Riley ordered, Buffy took a quick glance at the menu, quickly deciding on what she would order. She finally decided that she would just order a large salad and an iced tea.
"That's all your ordering?" Riley gaped when she told the waiter what she wanted. "Come on, Buffy. You've got to eat more than that! Professor Walsh always says that to stay strong and healthy you've got to eat nice square meals, you know, something from all the food groups."
"I'm fine, really," she told him.
"Buffy," he tsked. "You need to eat more than that! Don't worry about the money, I've got it covered."
Buffy sighed. "It's not about the money, I just don't eat much!" She cried. "I don't want to order anything more."
Riley shook his head disapprovingly. He turned to the waiter. "She'll have the smoked salmon too," he said.
Buffy stood up angrily. "I will not! Riley Finn, just who the Hell do you think you are, trying to order for me?! I'm nineteen years old, I can make my own decisions!" She yelled. "And just FYI, I hate salmon."
"I'm sorry, baby," Riley whispered. "It's just because I care about you so much. Forgive me?" He asked pathetically.
Buffy sighed. "Yeah, I guess. Just don't do it again."
Angel raised his eyebrows in surprise, but didn't say anything.
Riley nodded and promised that he wouldn't.
The waiter looked at them nervously. "So just the salad?" He asked timidly.
"Yeah, just the salad," Buffy reaffirmed.
The foursome walked down the hallway to their rooms after having eaten dinner. The rest of the evening had gone incredibly smooth compared to the events earlier in the evening. Apparently, they all had rooms on the same floor too.
Buffy stopped in front of her room and took out her key. She was surprised to see that the rest of them were taking out their keys also. She then realized that all their rooms were close to each other. Kate had the room that joined to Riley and across from Angel...who's room connected to hers.
Deciding that she didn't want to think about that at the moment, she quickly unlocked her door, went into her room, and closed the door behind her before anyone could comment.
Once she was inside the room's safety, she let out a sigh. By agreeing to come to San Francisco, she had gotten a hell of a lot more than she had bargained for.
Meanwhile, outside of the Slayer's room, Angel, Kate, and Riley were still trying to figure out how the mix-up had happened.
"How did you end up with the adjoining room to my girlfriend?" Riley asked angrily.
"It was probably just a mistake on the hotel's part," Kate murmured. "Let's not dwell on it."
"Well, I'm not happy with the hotel's mistake," Riley declared.
Angel sighed. "So what do you want to do about it?" He inquired patiently, determined not to let the boy get to him.
"I already set up my pictures," Riley answered. "So how about Kate and Buffy switch rooms?"
"I already unpacked," Kate protested.
"So? You can repack and unpack again," Riley told her coldly. "Come on, don't be so selfish! My papa always says that you got to be prepared to put up with a little inconvenience. You don't want to be a snob, do you?"
Angel opened his mouth to tell him off, Riley's logic was severely lacking! But Kate held up her hand, telling him not to bother.
"All right," she huffed. "I will but it's ultimately up to Buffy, isn't it?"
Riley shrugged. "That won't be a problem," he replied smugly. "She won't mind."
"Mind? Of course I mind! There's no way I'm changing rooms now. I unpacked all my stuff and I've got all my stuff all over the bathroom and everything already. Sorry, Riley, but you can just forget about that happening," Buffy informed him hotly.
Angel stifled laughter. He should have known that his Slayer would never put up with a load of shit like that.
Riley sniffed. "Why not? Do you actually want to share a room with that guy?" He asked, pointing at Angel.
Buffy made a face. "Did you not just hear me? It's way too much of an inconvenience over something that, ultimately, doesn't really matter. I don't care who's in the next room, I'm just not moving," she snapped.
Riley sighed. "Please, Buffy?" He begged.
"Okay, what part of no aren't you getting? It's only two letters, you'd think a TA like yourself would be able to figure the concept out," she said sarcastically.
Finally, Riley gave up. "Fine, fine, have it your way," he cried as he took off to his room. Kate left too, heading to her room.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "God, what's his deal?" She wondered out loud. She remembered that Angel was still in the room. "So."
"Why do you put up with him?" Angel asked her softly. "You could do so much better." Buffy sighed and resisted the temptation to roll her eyes, but didn't answer him, so he continued. "You don't love him, do you?"
Buffy snorted. "Oh quit the crap, Angel. This isn't about me and Riley and you know it," she muttered. "But in answer to your question, no, of course I don't love him. I've loved only one person in my entire life and you know it. You know it!"
"Do you even care about him?" Angel asked, ignoring her other comments.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "He could jump off a cliff tomorrow for all I care," she told him. "Actually, I wish he would."
"Then why are you going out with him?"
She shrugged. "Willow," she answered simply. She sighed. "There's only one way to get her off my back and this is it. She doesn't understand the concept of 'unable to move on' or 'taking things slowly'."
"Oh," was all he said.
"Yeah, should I thank you for leaving, by the way? Because, you know, I'm just so much better off this way." "You're probably still better off than if we were together," Angel told her softly.
"You really don't get this, do you?" Buffy laughed, her words hauntingly like Angelus'. "Riley is an idiot and a jerk. I can't stand him and I'm stuck going out with him because my so-called friends have decided, like you, that I don't know what's good for me and have stuck me with him. All the other guys out there either are assholes, not my type, or would get killed if I ended up dating them. You...well, I love you, even if you annoy the hell out of me when you make my decisions for me. But at least I don't have to worry about getting you killed or you telling me that I can just walk away from being the Slayer." She sighed, sinking down onto her bed and burying her head in her hands. "I am getting such a headache from all this."
Angel sat down beside her. "You don't need a man in your life, Buffy," he said softly. "If you want to just be a girl and date around and have fun, you can do that, you know. You don't need anyone else to be Buffy."
She shook her head. "Maybe I don't want to be alone," she replied softly. "Maybe I want someone in my life who I know will always be there for me...maybe I want you."
"But maybe I'm not so good for you," Angel whispered.
"Maybe," Buffy allowed. "Or maybe you're not so bad for me at all."
"I put you in danger, being around you," he argued.
"I'm always in danger, Angel! And you can't tell me that I'm safer on my own, without having you around, to back me up," she stated.
"But you're happy now, aren't you? I mean, you don't have to cope with the pain that is us," he protested.
"Do I look happy to you?" She all but spat out. "And I only find us to be painful when we're held apart by our own stupidity! You know when I was happy? I was happy that day, before we broke up. It was just before the prom, do you remember that?"
Numbly, he nodded. He had felt so hopeful then, watching her wake up beside him. It had been so special, he had thought that they would actually be able to make it work...but then Joyce had come to talk to him and he had seen how wrong he was. Or was he? He tried to remember what she had said. Thinking back to her words, he realized that she hadn't given him any valid reasons, just excuses. How could he have been so stupid?
"I'm sorry," he whispered. It was all he could think to say.
"Sorry about what?" She pressed not content with his answer.
"I'm sorry that I listened to her instead of you. I shouldn't have left and I should have considered what you had to say. It was wrong of me and I'm sorry that I did it anyway," he elaborated.
"Good...her? Who's her?"
He had forgotten that Joyce's conversation with him had remained a secret. Could he bite the bullet and tell her the truth, the whole truth? Yes.
"Joyce," he answered. "She came to me, she was the one who convinced me that I was bad for you and that I was hurting you by staying."
"My mom?" She echoed, hurt. Then she shook her head, her eyes growing angry. "I cannot believe her! I hate her! She's so stupid, how could she think that she knew best when she knows nothing about my life?!" She exploded.
"Calm down, Buffy," he begged her. "I didn't have to listen, it's my fault."
"But she knew that you were prone to feeling guilty! And I told her to stay out of my life!" She exclaimed. "But you should have considered my feelings too."
"I know and I'm sorry."
"So where does that leave us now?" She inquired in a small voice.
"I'm not sure exactly...do you want to try again?" He asked, insecure.
"Want to? Were you not listening to me?!" She exclaimed. "Yes, of course I do! .You do too, right?"
He smiled. "Yes, I want to try again more than anything," he answered.
She smiled too. "Maybe it wasn't just a coincidence that we ended up with the joining rooms, huh?"
"Maybe," he agreed.
"So, um, what now?" She questioned.
"I think that you should go to sleep and I should get back to my room," he answered. "It's late, you need your sleep."
She opened her mouth to protest.
"Don't worry, Buffy," he cut her off. "We've got the entire weekend to sort things out. For now, sleep."
Finally she nodded and Angel left to his room by the adjoining door. She quickly changed into the camisole and pajama pants she had brought then turned off the lights and climbed into bed. She soon fell asleep.
Buffy woke up bright and early the next morning and quickly rolled out of bed, showered and dressed. As she was blow-drying her long hair, there was a knock on the door that connected to Angel's room to hers.
She turned off the blow dryer and made her way over to the door, then unlocked it. "Good morning," she greeted him.
"Good morning," he echoed. She looked at him expectantly, so he fished around in his pocket for a few seconds, found what he was looking for, and pulled out his hand, balled in a fist.
"I found this in my bag last night," he told her, opening his hand to reveal her Claddagh ring.
"Oh my God, Angel, where did you find this?" She asked. She gingerly took it between her fingers, then slid it on, the heart facing inwards, just like it belonged.
"At the mansion when I first got back," he answered. "I held onto it, I'm not sure why I didn't give it back sooner...anyway, I brought it with me, call it intuition, and now I'm giving it back to you."
"Thank you," she whispered, throwing her arms around his neck and pulling him into a hug. He hugged her back, euphoric at having her in his arms again.
A knock at her door interrupted their moment. They pulled apart quickly; not exactly sure as to why they felt guilty, but just knowing that they did and that perhaps keeping their reconciliation a secret for the time being would be a good idea.
Buffy walked over to the door and opened it for Riley and Kate, who were waiting outside.
"Are you ready for breakfast?" Riley asked as Angel joined her at the door. He looked surprised to see him there, but surprisingly, kept his mouth shut.
Buffy looked at Angel. "You ready?" She asked him. He nodded and she turned back to Riley. "We're ready."
With that, they all left to the restaurant downstairs where they would be having brunch together.
Buffy returned from the buffet first, her plate loaded with a small cup of yogurt, eggs, toast, fruit, and a tiny bit if bacon. Angel came next, carrying a plate full of bacon, eggs and toast, and sat down beside her. Riley followed, two plates, overflowing with every type of food there was practically ("My momma always says I'm a growing boy and I ought to eat as much as I can," he'd explained), and had self-righteously sat himself on the other side of Buffy. Lastly, Kate had arrived, carrying only a bagel with cream cheese and fruit.
Several times throughout brunch, Buffy had felt eyes boring into her and had looked up to see Riley glaring at her and Angel. She had simply rolled her eyes and gone back to eating, but after another half-hour of that, she was ready to kill him.
Finally, she snapped, "What is your problem, Riley?!"
"You keep on making eyes at Kate's date! You're my girlfriend!" He shot back angrily.
Buffy scowled. "I am not!" She cried. Everyone looked at her. "Making eyes," she clarified.
"You are too!" He protested. "You're making eyes at Kate's date whom you just happen to know from before! .How do you know him, anyway?"
"That's none of your business," Buffy told him harshly, struggling to control herself. By now, quite a few of the others in the restaurant had noticed the argument and were watching the scene unfold curiously.
"It is my business! You're my girlfriend for god's sake!" Riley yelled. "You're mine!"
Angel growled. "She doesn't belong to anyone but herself," he told Riley in a menacing voice.
"Stay out of this, sissy boy!" Riley shouted at him, across the table.
Riley didn't even have time to react to the punch that came his way and before he knew it, he was sprawled out on the floor, groaning at pain. It hadn't been Angel that had punched him though.
Buffy stood up, rubbing her fist. "I've had enough of this bull shit, we're over, Riley," she said coldly. "If anyone needs me, I'll be outside on the patio." And with that she stormed off. Angel went after her.
Riley just stood there, his mouth agape. "I can't believe she dumped me!" He exclaimed.
"Why not? You're an ass, Riley," Kate told him coldly. "Let's not do this again? Good bye." Kate left too, heading to her room.
Riley stood up, then sat back down at the table sulking. After a few seconds, he looked up to see that everyone was still watching him. "What are you all looking at?!" He bellowed.
They burst out laughing, ridiculing him, then turned away, and Riley ate the rest of his breakfast in virtual silence.
"Buffy!" Angel called after her as he ran towards his lover who sat, head in hands, on a patio chair.
Buffy looked up in surprise. She looked from Angel, to the brilliant sun, then back to her soul mate again. She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion as Angel reached her, his hair shining slightly in the sun.
"Angel...why. You - you're not - " Buffy stuttered, in shock.
"Burning?" Angel finished for her. At her nod, he smiled at her. "It's a temporary spell that we did so that I'd be able to spend this weekend normally, to help keep my secret from Kate," he answered. "It's not too difficult to do either, but it can only be performed on someone who has a good heart, so...well, that's why it works for me and it wouldn't work for another vampire, so we don't have to worry about that."
Buffy beamed up at him and threw herself into his arms. Eagerly, he caught her and begun spinning her around. Gingerly, he put her down, then took her face in his hands and kissed her.
It was their first kiss in over half a year, since they had broken up, but it was also much more than a kiss. It was a promise. It was a promise of a future together and all the things that they would have...it was their new beginning.
As for Riley and Kate? Riley ended up going after Buffy outside, saw Buffy and Angel making out, and angrily went to run at them. Unfortunately, he slipped in a puddle, fell, and broke his neck. He was killed instantly. A pity, really.
And Kate went back to LA where she quickly forgot about Riley and ended up dating an ex-watcher who went by the name of Wesley Wyndham-Price and who was presently a "Rogue demon hunter" as he put it.
A happy ending for all, and for all, a happy ending.
@ Buffy/Riley and Angel/Kate must go on a double date
@ In the end, Buffy and Angel must get back together and there must be Riley bashing