Author: Eloy Brightdreamer
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: PG-13 for mild ass-kicking
Summary: Riley finds out who hurt Buffy in her past.
Spoilers: Everything up to "Doomed."
Setting: Between "Doomed" and "A New Man."
Category: Drama, Angst, AU
Date Started: 1-19-00...will be done soon! Got the first 3 parts done.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Inc., 20th Century Fox, and the WB. (Can I borrow Riley and Angel for awhile? <EG> I'll be nice...I promise. Heh heh.) Story is mine, though.
Archive: Yes to Jen for FINNatics, everywhere else, ask please!
Author's Notes: This particular plot bunny was thought up by my roommate after watching "Doomed." I couldn't get it out of my head, so here's the story. I know, everyone and their brother's dog has written a "Riley meets Angel" story, but here's my version. :) Special thanks to Randa for answering all my continuity, plot, and characterization questions!
Riley Finn whistled happily as he strolled along the darkened sidewalks at UCS. Tonight was going to be a special night with Buffy-he had made sure of that! No beeper or cell phone would interrupt them tonight. He had left both in his room-with the permission of Professor Walsh, of course. Spying Stevenson Hall in the distance, he quickened his pace, eager to see his girlfriend. The tall graduate student shook his head in amazement. His girlfriend... Only a few days ago she had been protesting vehemently that they could never be together, that it would never work out, and now... now... A grin spread over Riley's face as he recalled the kiss that she had planted on him that day. Just as he had been despairing that his whole life was over, she turned everything around. So what if the Initiative was going to be found out because of him? So what if a few people knew he was fighting the forces of evil? Buffy was his!
Lost in thought, Riley didn't notice the demon in the bushes until he was almost on top of it. A blow to his ribs got his attention, however, and he turned quickly to face his attacker. His eyes widened as he saw that this demon was unlike any he'd ever seen. Towering over him by a good six inches, the creature had a head full of short, spiky horns, with a single curved horn nearly a foot long protruding from the front. Long, evil-looking fangs jutted out from it's salivating mouth, and razor-sharp claws clicked at the end of fingers easily as long as Riley's hand. Riley swallowed hard. No weapons, no backup... I don't stand a chance against this thing, he thought, backing away slowly. But the demon was not about to let his prey get away that easily. Darting forward almost too fast for Riley to see, the fiend grabbed him and shoved him into the side of a large tree, knocking the wind out of him. Black spots swam in the young commando's vision, and for a moment he was afraid he would pass out. Stunned, he slumped to the ground and lay still, hoping the creature would leave him for dead. No such luck, he thought grimly, as the monster advanced yet again. I'm not going to die here... I've got to fight!
As the demon drew near, Riley lunged at the brute's legs, bringing them both crashing back to the ground. He pummeled the monster with his fists, hoping for any advantage, but it wasn't long before he found himself flying through the air. Somehow, he managed to twist around and get his legs underneath him before crashing into-and breaking-a wooden park bench. A third time he launched himself at the creature, kicking and punching with all his might. Just as Riley thought that he might be gaining the upper hand, the beast's eyes glowed red, and it slashed downwards with its wicked nails. Riley jumped back just in time to avoid being gutted, but the claws grazed his chest, ripping his grey sweatshirt and drawing blood underneath. Off-balance from his hasty retreat, Riley was unprepared for the next attack, and was thrown against the base of a stone monument. His head slammed into the hard marble, and he fell to the ground, dazed. The demon stood back, appearing to gloat as his victim struggled to stand. This is it, Riley thought, fighting to stay conscious. This thing's gonna kill me.
As the demon advanced again, Riley closed his eyes, resigned to his fate. Suddenly, he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Looking up, he saw a tall, dark-haired man in a long black trenchcoat run forward and attack the creature. Gaining new strength from the stranger's appearance, the commando pulled himself to his feet and returned to the fight. With their combined might, he and the stranger soon sent the demon howling and fleeing off into the woods. Dizzy and breathing heavily, Riley turned to his rescuer, ready to thank him for intervening. He stumbled backwards as he saw the stranger's face for the first time. Yellow eyes, furrowed brow, elongated teeth-his savior was a vampire! Riley looked around frantically for a weapon, finally spying the broken park bench. He staggered over to it and grabbed the first sharp piece of wood he could find. Turning back to the vampire, he was startled to see its face morph into a human one. Kind-looking brown eyes surveyed him with what appeared to be concern.
"Are you all right?" the being asked, starting toward the wavering student.
"Stay away from me!" Riley exclaimed with as much force as he could muster. "I know what you are."
"I won't hurt you."
Riley managed a sarcastic laugh, backing away from the creature. "Yeah, right." Not watching where he was going, he stepped into a small hole next to the sidewalk. Caught by surprise, he stumbled and fell hard. To his surprise, he was unable to get back up-his arms and legs seemed to be made of lead, and waves of nausea threatened to overwhelm him. God, I didn't think it hit me that hard. As the world spun crazily around him, he turned his head and saw Buffy racing down the path. He opened his mouth to call out and warn her about the vampire, but his vision blurred, then all went black.
Heat. Darkness. Riley felt as if his whole body were on fire as he slowly regained consciousness. A coolness touched his brow, and he forced his eyes open to see Buffy's face smiling down at him.
"Hey, welcome back," she said, removing a cold compress from his forehead. Riley looked down to see that he was lying propped up on pillows in Buffy's bed, the covers pulled up to his waist. His chest was bare, save for a few bandages covering the areas where the beast's talons had raked him. Buffy was sitting next to him on the bed. He tried to sit up, but even that small movement caused a wave of dizziness that knocked him back down onto the pillows.
"Wha... how... why..." His tongue felt like a lead weight.
"Shh... don't try to talk," Buffy said, brushing back a lock of his hair that had fallen across his left eye. "You've got a high fever... the demon's claws were poisoned. Don't worry," she quickly added, as a look of panic crossed his face. "Willow and Giles are making an antidote right now. You're lucky it didn't cut you any deeper, though."
"Did you kill it?" Riley managed to ask.
"The hostile... um, the vampire... it helped me," he slurred. "I think it wanted... well, I don't know what it wanted."
Buffy looked toward a darkened corner of the room. "No, I didn't need to..." Her voice trailed off as a figure stepped out of the shadows. Riley immediately recognized the face of the stranger who had rescued him.
Oh, God... she's working with him, they're going to kill me... no, why would she do that? A thousand wild thoughts flew through his fevered brain. Maybe he's already turned her into one of them... but why would she be taking care of me? It doesn't make sense... He must have looked terrified, because Buffy immediately placed her hand on his shoulder as if to reassure him.
"Riley, it's OK, he's on our side," she soothed.
"W-what? But he's a... a..."
"I know what he is. Angel is... different, OK?" She looked up at the tall vampire who had come to stand by her side. "To make a really long story short, he's got a soul."
"I don't understand," Riley said, still apprehensive.
Angel placed his hand on Buffy's shoulder. "I don't know what I can say to make you believe me," he said. "My soul torments me for what I did while I was evil. Now, I'm trying to make up for all I did... fighting demons is just part of that." Riley wanted to ask more questions, but was interrupted by a knock at the door.
"Come in," Buffy called, and Willow entered, carrying a small flask.
"I got it!" she exclaimed happily, handing Buffy the container. "That should make him all better in no time. I also put some stuff in it to help him sleep," she added, as Buffy slipped her arm behind Riley. Helping him to sit up, she held the potion up to his lips. He almost gagged on the foul-tasting liquid, but managed to choke it all down. Closing his eyes, he felt Buffy lower him back down to the pillow. Her lips brushed lightly against his, then the darkness claimed him once more.
Riley watched as Buffy fought the demon that had injured him. Seeing that she was in trouble, he tried to rush forward, but something seemed to be holding him back. Two more demons jumped out at her, and she went down, still fighting as the creatures tore her apart. Riley screamed her name in horror, but no sound crossed his lips. He cried out again silently, turning his head to see what was keeping him from his love. As he looked over his shoulder, he saw Angel, pinning his arms behind him. He watched in terror as Angel's face turned into the vampire visage, fangs bared, leaning toward his neck...
"No! Buffy!" Riley yelled, sitting up in bed, his body covered in sweat. Disoriented, he had a moment of panic before he remembered where he was. He felt a hand touch his shoulder, and looked up, hoping that Buffy would be there. He was slightly disappointed to see Willow.
"It's OK," she said, pushing him back down gently. "It was just a dream." Laying the back of her hand against his forehead, she smiled brightly. "Your fever's down... how do you feel?
"Better... where's Buffy?"
"She and Angel went to kill that demon before it hurts anyone else."
Riley closed his eyes. "She should've waited for me... I've got to find her!" He sat up again suddenly, but fell back as bright flashes of pain exploded in his head.
"You're not going anywhere except back to sleep," Willow said firmly, pulling the blankets over him and sitting on the edge of the bed. "Buffy and Angel will be able to handle that demon, no problem," she added as Riley struggled to rise.
Riley relented and leaned back. "Fine. But do me one favor, OK?"
"Tell me about Angel."
"Wh-what do you want to know?"
"Everything. Tell me everything."
Willow sighed. "Well, Angel is... different," she began.
"I know," Riley interrupted. "He's got a soul or something. But there's more to it than that, isn't there? I saw the way Buffy looked at him-there's something else going on."
"Riley, I-I can't tell you. You'd have to talk to Buffy..." Willow's words hung in the air as she stared intently at her hands.
Riley clenched his fists under the covers. "He's the one, isn't he? The one who hurt her?" Willow said nothing, but the expression on her face told Riley all he needed to know. A myriad of emotions washed over him. Jealousy, anger, protectiveness, sorrow-he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block the psychological overload. When he opened them again, there was no stopping him. Nobody hurts Buffy and gets away with it, not while I'm around. He threw back the blankets and climbed out of bed, ignoring his pain and Willow's protests. Although his steps were shaky, his resolve was not as he pulled on his shoes and yanked his tattered sweatshirt over his head. Somehow he made it out of the room and stumbled down the stairs.
As he barged out the front door, he glanced to the side and saw Buffy and Angel rounding the corner of the building. Quickly, he concealed himself behind some bushes, lying flat on the ground. I hope they didn't see me. As the two approached Riley's hiding place, he began to pick up snatches of their conversation.
"...still haven't told me why you came back," Buffy's clear voice echoed in the night air.
Angel's response was harder to hear. "...vision... needed me... help you..."
"Why?" Riley could hear the confusion in Buffy's voice. "It was just a demon-I could have taken it on by myself easily enough."
"There's something else-I don't know what it is yet. I know you need me for something, otherwise Cordelia wouldn't have had the vision." The two stopped just outside the front doors of the dorm. "I don't think I should go in," Angel said. "Your friend seemed pretty upset by me last time."
"Boyfriend, Angel," Buffy said firmly, almost as if she were trying to convince herself as well. "Riley's my boyfriend."
Angel looked down at his feet. "Yeah, I know. I just gotta get used to the idea." He looked back up at Buffy, then leaned over and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. "It's almost sunrise... I'd better get going. I'll see you tomorrow night, OK?"
"OK," Buffy replied, turning toward the door as Angel strode away. Riley considered just going inside after his girlfriend, but decided that he was too angry at the vampire to let him get away. The thought crossed his mind that maybe he should call the Initiative for backup, but, as had no way to do so, he waited until Buffy went inside, then emerged from hiding and followed Angel as quietly as he could.
Riley trailed Angel to a small clearing, where the tall vampire stopped. "I know you're there," he called out. "What do you want?" Riley stepped out of the shadows as Angel turned to face him. A look of surprise and concern crossed Angel's face as he saw his follower. "You shouldn't be up yet," he said. "The antidote doesn't work that quickly."
"I don't care," Riley growled, stalking toward the vampire. "I know you're the one... the one who hurt Buffy. Do you know what you've done to her?"
Angel stepped back. "I never meant to... It never would have happened if..."
"I don't care!" Riley repeated, louder this time. He swung his fist at Angel in a clumsy-looking punch which the vampire easily dodged. Riley fell to his hands and knees in a move designed to make his adversary think that he had overbalanced himself. But, as Angel was still side-stepping the earlier blow, Riley spun around and tangled his legs with his opponent's, bringing him crashing to the ground. In a flash, he was on top of the vampire, striking him over and over in the face. Just as quickly, however, Riley found himself flipped back onto the grass. Looking up, he saw Angel towering over him, wiping a bit of blood off the corner of his mouth. He scrambled to his feet and stood facing his opponent, fists raised.
"I don't want to fight you," Angel said, backing away.
"You don't have a choice," Riley replied angrily before lashing out again. They fought for what seemed like hours, Riley attacking furiously and Angel blocking or dodging all of his attempts. Through a red haze of anger, Riley wondered vaguely why Angel hadn't vamped out yet, but dismissed the thought as he concentrated fully on the fight. The effects of the poison and his injuries from the demon began to take their toll, however, and Riley soon found himself barely able to stand, let alone fight. His legs seemed to turn to jelly, and he collapsed to the ground, lightheaded. Colorful spots of light flashed before his eyes, and he quickly closed them to avoid blacking out. When he looked up again, he saw Angel kneeling in front of him, looking worried.
"Are you all right?" he asked. "I hope I didn't..."
Riley held up his palm in a warning gesture. "Leave me alone," he muttered. Angel reached out as if to help him, but Riley knocked his hand away. "I said leave!" he shouted. Angel stood up and slowly backed off. "This isn't over yet," Riley warned as the vampire turned away. Angel's back stiffened, but he made no reply as he strode off into the shadows.
After Angel disappeared into the wood, Riley attempted to rise and make his way back to Lowell house. He only made it a few steps before the world started to spin crazily around him. Sitting down quickly at the base of a stately oak tree, he leaned his head back against the rough bark and closed his eyes. It's only for a few minutes... then I'll... I'll... Weak and exhausted, Riley fell asleep before he could finish his thought.
Riley couldn't see. A thick white mist surrounded him, hiding his surroundings in impenetrable obscurity. A faint noise reached his ears, and he strained to hear better. It grew louder, and he soon recognized it as the sound of someone sobbing. He fumbled around blindly, trying to find whoever was in pain, but the cries seemed to come from all around. The noise grew deafening, and Riley clamped his hands over his ears, trying not to hear as the voices began calling his name with Buffy's voice, Riley, Riley, Riley...
"Riley! Riley, wake up." The voice cut through the haze of semi-consciousness surrounding Riley's brain and dragged him back to reality. He felt a hand shake him gently, and opened his eyes to see Buffy kneeling beside him, an anxious look on her face. "Are you OK?" she asked.
"I've been better," Riley replied, pulling his knees up to his chest and resting his chin on them.
"I've been looking for you everywhere! Willow said you left in such a rush... I can't believe you did that! Well..." She stood up. "We'd better get you home and back in bed."
"We need to talk," Riley muttered.
Buffy frowned. "Now? Can't it wait?"
Riley shook his head. "No, I don't think so."
Shivering a little in the early morning mist, Buffy sat down on the ground next to him. "I think I know what you want to talk about," she sighed, pulling her light blue sweater a little tighter around her.
She sighed again. "Yup, I was right."
"Who is he? How do you know him? How did he hurt you?" The questions tumbled out of Riley's mouth like an avalanche.
"Well, we... how do you know he hurt me?"
"Lucky guess, I suppose. And Willow didn't deny it when I asked her."
Buffy looked at him sharply. "What did Willow tell you?"
"Nothing." Riley reached over and touched her hand gently. "But I want to know everything."
She looked down at their hands. "I don't know if you really want to know all this. You might..."
Riley interrupted her by moving his hand to her face and tilting it up to look at him. "You told me once that I didn't know about your past-that there was pain, death, and apocalypse. I told you then that I was dying to find out. I still am, Buffy. I want to know everything... and nothing you say can change the way I feel about you, OK?"
Buffy stared deep into his eyes for a moment, as if trying to see into his soul. He held her gaze intently, trying to gain her trust. Finally, as the first rays of light shone through the trees, she looked away and began to speak. Riley listened in silence as her tale unfolded. When she spoke of falling in love with Angel, he felt as though his heart had been ripped out of his chest, yet he stayed silent. When she told of Angel losing his soul and the torture that he put her and her friends through, Riley's stomach turned, yet he stayed silent. As she spoke with a slightly wavering voice of her pain after sending Angel to Hell, he wanted to cry and hold her close, yet he stayed silent. Finally, when she finished with how Angel had left her here to move on with her life, he reached out and wiped away the single tear that had made its way down her cheek. She looked at him with an ironic smile. "So, now you know..." she said, her voice trailing off as her eyes searched his face.
"Yeah," he replied, his throat tight with emotion. He sat still for a moment, trying to sort out his feelings. So Buffy had been in love... and with an HST! The more he thought, however, he discovered that the fact that her first love had been a vampire didn't really bother him as much as he thought it would. She's been hurt, and what she needs now is for you to get past this and be there for her...
Abruptly, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her, pouring his heart out with the kiss. All the feelings he couldn't put into words, all his love, he tried to express in that one simple act. Finally he pulled away and gazed into her expressive blue eyes, his hands cupping cheeks reddened from the effects of his caresses. One question burned in his mind, and he knew if he didn't ask now, he might never get another chance.
Before he could open his mouth to speak, however, a low rumbling sound filled the air, growing louder by the second. The rumbling was immediately followed by tremors in the ground, gaining in intensity to match the sound. Riley quickly pulled Buffy to him, wrapping her in his arms and curling his body around her in an involuntary protective instinct. After a few moments, the shaking subsided, and Riley slowly released Buffy from his embrace. "Wow, two earthquakes in less than a week," he joked, trying to lighten the tension. Buffy immediately stood up and looked around apprehensively. Riley joined her a moment later, his hand on the tree for support. "Think it was the Hellmouth again?" he asked quietly.
She shook her head. "No, this was different. I can't explain why, but it was."
Riley nodded. I'll just pretend I understood that. "What should we do?"
She turned to him quickly, snapping into Slayer mode. "You aren't going to do anything except go home and rest. I'll go see what I can find out, and I'll let you know as soon as I do."
Before Buffy had even finished her sentence, Riley was shaking his head. "I can't let you go alone," he protested.
She smiled back at him. "Don't worry. If it's demon-related, nothing will happen before dark. So you've got all day to rest, and I've got all day to figure this thing out. If it makes you feel better, go tell your Initiative scientists about it and see what they come up with." Standing on tip-toe, she reached up and pulled his head down for a quick kiss. "Now, c'mon, I'll walk you home."
As the birds began greeting the day in their cheerful manner, Riley and Buffy walked in silence back to Lowell house. Riley's mind was racing with all he'd seen and heard the previous night, but he kept his questions to himself, as Buffy appeared to be preoccupied with her thoughts. Instead he stayed quiet, walking with his arm draped over her shoulders-partially for support (he was still a little unsteady), and partially because she seemed a bit flighty ever since the quake.
After a quick kiss good-bye at the door of Lowell house, Riley stumbled up the stairs to a much-needed shower. He winced a little as he removed the bandages from his chest, but was relieved to see that the scrapes didn't look as bad as they felt. Once in the shower, he stood for a long time under the steaming spray, letting the hot water wash away all the grime and aches from the previous night. God, what am I going to tell Walsh... He leaned his head against the relatively cool tile. The truth, Riley, you've got to tell her the truth... but I'm sure Buffy wouldn't want the Initiative knowing about Angel. Wonder what they'd do to a vampire with a soul? By the time Riley got out of the cubicle, his mind was made up. I'll tell her the truth, but not the whole truth. Returning to his room, he pulled on a clean red T-shirt and jeans, then made his way downstairs to the Initiative.
Maggie Walsh took one look at Riley and practically ordered him to the infirmary. She finally relented after numerous reassurances that he was all right, but insisted that he spend the day resting in his quarters. At least I won't be questioned too heavily, Riley thought with relief. He gave her a quick-if somewhat ambiguous-report, then made his way slowly back to his room, where he collapsed into bed, immediately falling into a deep sleep.
Riley was kissing Buffy. Her warm body pressed up against his as he traced small circles on her back, occasionally slipping his fingers slightly under the hem of her shirt. A small shiver passed through him as he felt her tongue brush tentatively against his lips. Pulling her even closer, he deepened the kiss, bringing one hand up to tangle in her blonde hair. Suddenly, he felt her body grow ice-cold as she pulled away. Looking up, he saw her move over to Angel, who had suddenly appeared behind her. Riley felt as though someone had punched him in the stomach as Buffy kissed the vampire with searing passion. After a few moments, she turned back to him. "I'm sorry, Riley," she said. "But I've always loved Angel." She grinned as her face morphed into a vampire's twisted countenance. "And I always will." Riley stood frozen in place as she lunged at him, sinking her fangs into his neck. He felt his body grow cold as she drained his blood, and a loud ringing sound echoed in his ears...
Riley awoke from his nightmare with a jolt, heart pounding. Half-asleep, he smacked the snooze button on his alarm several times before realizing that the phone was making the noise that had awakened him. He quickly picked it up.
"Riley," he mumbled.
"Riley? Were you asleep?" Forrest's voice came through loud and clear.
"Why?" Forrest sounded concerned. "It's like 7 at night."
"I..." Riley didn't want to go into detail. "I wasn't feeling well."
"Oh, sorry, man. I won't bother you then."
Riley sat up further. "No, it's OK, I'm better now. What's up?"
"I'm calling from downstairs. Man, there's something big going down... everyone's going nuts. They haven't told us what it is, but I figured you might want to get down here."
"I'll be right down," Riley replied before quickly hanging up. Cautiously, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, waiting to see if any of his earlier symptoms were still present. He was relieved to find that the room stayed stable and his head didn't feel like it was going to explode. Hurriedly, he clambered out of bed, stooping down to retrieve the blankets he had kicked off in his sleep. So that's why I was so cold. He paused for a moment, reliving the events of his nightmare. He shivered slightly, remembering the look on Buffy's face as she attacked him. Shaking his head, he sat back down and pulled on his tennis shoes. Get a grip, he berated himself. It was just a dream. He grabbed a piece of cold pizza out of the fridge and munched on it as he made his way to the Initiative elevator.
Once down in the cavern, he tried to stay out of sight, not wanting to be sent back to his quarters. He spied Dr. Walsh briefing the teams, and hid behind a nearby pillar to listen.
"We believe that the Yalanra demons will hatch tonight. The quakes have been caused by the eggs drawing enormous amounts of energy from a concentrated source of supernatural power, located at or near the old high school."
So it was the Hellmouth, Riley thought.
"Agent Finn encountered one of these demons last night-we think it hatched early. These new ones may be even bigger than the one he fought. Fortunately for us, the mother demon of this species dies soon after laying her eggs, so we shouldn't have to worry about anything but the babies. Hopefully you will be able to reach the nest before the eggs hatch, but if not, use whatever force necessary to destroy the demons. Under no circumstances are you to let them escape-they could cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Any questions? Good. Agent Gates will lead Alpha team."
As Forrest stood up and began assigning the teams, Riley slipped away quietly. He knew Walsh would never let him go with the teams, but he couldn't just sit around. Buffy will be out there fighting those things, I know it. He hurried to the locker room to change into his military gear, then found a phone and dialed Buffy's number. When no one answered, he hung up, then dialed his access number for his voice mail. He clenched his fist in frustration as he heard Buffy's voice on the message.
"Hi, Riley. Looks like I've missed you. We figured out that the earthquakes were the Yalanra demons getting ready to hatch and go all berseky on us. Angel and I are going to try to find them before they do. If you're going out there, be careful."
Riley cursed softly as he slammed the phone back down on the hook. Missed her. He hurried to the armory, hoping he would beat the other teams there. The agent at the weapons window didn't even give Riley a second glance as he checked out a taser gun and a regular pistol, along with several clips of ammunition. Slinging the taser over his shoulder, he quickly slipped out one of the back entrances, silently making his way to the surface door.
Once outside, Riley closed his eyes briefly, breathing deeply of the cool night air as he tried to decide which direction to go. Buffy would know where to go. Think, Finn! The Hellmouth... they've gotta be near there. Resolute, Riley set out for the old high school, ready to face whatever he might find there.