Love
written by Exfilia


Rating: FRAO
Spoilers: through US 5/2
Summary: Riley's internship leads to a magically induced romance.
Feedback Author: Exfilia



"Why can't I go?" came a squeal echoing from the panelled walls of the school.

"Because you're a little twerp," an adolescent answered. "Now go away."

Riley caught himself grinning, and tried to stifle it, until he saw the same expression on the Headmaster's face.

"Cases of mine?" Riley asked.

"The little one, anyway. Mike Evans. Orphaned at age seven and placed with us a year ago, at nine, after running away from three foster homes. Mike has trouble fitting in with his peers. He romanticizes his life to the point where everyone is either a sterling knight on a quest, or else a troll with some malignant purpose."

"If I were in his place, I might romanticize a little, myself."

"Mr. Finn, this institution prides itself on helping these unfortunate boys become useful members of society. Most of them go on to college, and a number of our alumni are professionals with some of the most respected firms in the country. Why, just last week a young attorney who grew up here got a job with Wolfram and Hart, down in Los Angeles. The only way that sort of thing happens is if the children set themselves goals and make step by step plans about reaching them. We do not have time for romanticism here." The Headmaster took a deep breath. "Or for rants directed at new interns, either. I'm sorry if I landed on you. Come on, and I'll show you your office."

* * * * *

"So how did it go?" Buffy asked when they came up for air.

"All right."

"Just 'all right?' I thought this was supposed to be your stepping stone to a career as a psychiatrist."

"Psychologist. Psychiatrists have to go to medical school, and I'm out of money."

"Don't change the subject. Why just 'all right?'"

"I think maybe they put too much pressure on kids that are already traumatized by whatever put them in an orphanage to start with. The ones I saw all act younger than their ages, and there seems to be a mass hallucination going around."

"A mass hallucination?"

"Yeah. Sometimes kids get sent to the counselors just for saying they saw them."

"Saw what?"

"Phantoms. Vague shapes moving in the halls and on the stairs."

"Ghosts?"

"None of them actually use that word. They think they're people. One young man can point out specific members of the staff that he's seen as phantoms, but these people say they were nowhere near at the time."

"Don't you think these kids might need more help than a grad student doing an internship?"

"Buffy, I've only been there one day. I don't know what they need yet, but I do know what I need." His hand slid between the fabric of her shirt and her skin and cupped itself around her breast, and they didn't talk any more.

* * * * *

"They give me a headache," Mike said. Riley scribbled on his notepad.

"What kind of headache?" he asked. "Back or front or on the sides, or what?"

"This side," Mike said, and tapped his left temple. "It's just when I see them, and when they're gone it goes away."

"Do you get the headache first, or see the people?"

"It depends. If I'm looking away from them, I get the headache, and when I turn around, they're there. Otherwise it's pretty much at the same time."

"Do any of the others get headaches?" More specifically, did Mike know if any of them got headaches?

"Justin said he did, but Justin doesn't see them any more."

"How's that?"

"The Head took him in his office and showed him something, and after that he said he didn't see them." Mike was starting to blubber.

"Did he say anything else?"

The child shook his head, but he was still crying.

"Are any of the others afraid of the people?"

Mike shook his head. "They're afraid of getting kicked out. If you don't do what they say and be what they want, they don't want you and...." The sentance tapered off into sobs.

"There's always going to be someone to take care of you, Mikey." The child didn't look convinced. "You're a neat kid," Riley said, "and there'll always be someone who wants you."

* * * * *

"Are any of the children actually expelled?" Riley asked the Head.

"Rarely, but if someone has a bad enough attitude, we have to get rid of them."

"A bad attitude?"

"A home like this is like an organism, Riley. Each organ has its own function, and if one of us tries to evade our destiny, we throw the whole system out of kilter. If we all work together and don't disrupt things, though, everyone can enjoy the benefits."

"The children, the ones who see things...."

"The ones who think they see things, surely."

"The ones who think they see things. For some of them, this system doesn't seem to be working. It's fine if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, but you've got gifted athletes and musicians in here, too, and...."

"And those are fields in which it's much harder to achieve any success. The children will do better if we encourage them along more realistic lines."

"A mediocre copywiter as opposed to a brilliant poet?"

"The copywriter will make more money, Riley."

"Yeah, I suppose he will."

* * * * *

"Did you ever think about having kids, Buffy?"

"I'm the Slayer. I'm not going to live long enough."

"There are girls from your high school class with two kids, now."

"Two kids and a singlewide and a husband with a job at Walmart, if they have a husband at all."

"Do you want a husband?"

"Do you want a baby?"

"I don't know. I never thought about it until I had to deal with the kids at the home. They all need so much...."

"I think there are enough kids in the world who need loved without you and I making one when I'm not going to be around to take care of it."

"You don't know that."

"I'm the Slayer."

* * * * *

She didn't want children. Riley had come back to the home in the afternoon to check out the areas where ghosts were reported, and see if there was a non-supernatural explanation, but he couldn't keep his mind on it. Buffy didn't want children. She'd dodged the question about marriage. Not that he hadn't regretted it the minute he'd said it. He'd gotten a sudden vision of himself in a pink tux, but she hadn't taken it as a proposal. She hadn't taken it at all. It was as if she didn't think they had a future together. Riley was beginning to wonder if they did, and the thought sent a chill down his spine.

Well, something sent a chill down his spine. Maybe it was a draft. Riley turned around and found a door open, a door that had been closed a moment before. It was definately colder, too. He stuck his head into the room.

"Hello?" There was no one there. Okay, that didn't mean there were ghosts. It was an old building. The door could have swung open because of a sudden gust of wind, or something. Not that there was a window inside. The room might have been a large closet once, or a passage leading from the door he'd come through to the other one, in the middle of a side wall. There was no sound through there. There wouldn't be, with all the boys at dinner. Riley tried the door, and it swung open into the Headmaster's office, with its walls of bookshelves and the great French doors open to the terrace just as they had been during Riley's last visit. That would explain the draft, then. It just blew under the door.

Something had changed, though, since he'd been there before. There was a book open on the table, a book giving off very strong vibes.

Vibes, indeed. You'd think Riley was... was one of Buffy's little gang of hangers-on, believing every strangeness was a sign of demons coming to take over the world.

Was it strange? The book, not the Sco obies. Riley stood over it and peered at the open page. It wasn't any alphabet he knew, and he'd seen enough of them since he started dating Buffy, in Giles's books or Willow's spells. These letters seemed to slither across the page, and the ink was, well, glistening.

Okay, there was something objectively strange about the book. Riley was not imagining it just to get back some of Buffy's interest. The book was weird. Well, who you gonna call? If Riley asked, Giles would probably make a housecall, but Riley didn't really want occult investigation to be a subcategory on the report on his internship. There was another way. The day staff was gone until morning. The terrace doors were open, and likely to stay that way. Okay, do it before you run out of nerve. Riley tucked the book under his arm and strolled out on the terrace, and thence through the matching door to his own office. Book into bookbag, and out to his car. Nothing could be simpler. Nothing at all.

* * * * *

"You realize that what you've done amounts to breaking and entering, burglary...."

"Just look at the book, Giles. The book."

"This is... strange. Look at these symbols."

Riley looked.

"Aren't those some of the elemental symbols I've seen Willow use?"

"Yes, she took them from the Enochian alphabet. This, though, is an entire language, and not one I'm familiar with."

"It gives me the creeps."

"It's not of this world, or so I believe. It seems to be... look at that!"

Riley looked, but it made no more sense than before.

"This book, this entire book is a spell to capture the unwary, to bind...." Giles snapped the book shut.

"What?" said Riley. Giles looked at him, those intensely green eyes like sweet spring meadows to play in....

Riley jerked away. Where had that come from?

"What kind of spell?" he asked.

"I think you know."

"Come on, Giles." Somehow, of itself, no doubt, Riley's hand had risen to Giles's face. His fingers were tracing the Watcher's cheek, the angle of his jaw.

"It creates a bond between the user and a person he entices to view it."

"You mean, like when you said 'Look here,' and I looked?"

"Something of the sort, yes."

Riley's fingers wandered into Giles's hair and made tiny circles against his scalp.

"What kind of bond, Giles?"

"I can't imagine it working like this at the home, with the children. We'd surely have heard something."

"Maybe it keys to our personalities."

"Could be. You are certainly one of the most over-sexed human beings I've ever met."

Riley held Giles's face between his hands. "Is that going to be a problem?" he asked.

"I think we're about to give ourselves a tremendous problem," said Giles.

"How's that?"

"The attraction is mutual," he said, and then his lips met Riley's.

* * * * *

Riley came back out of the bathroom, still unable to locate his underwear.

"Take a pair of mine, if you like," Giles murmurred from the bed.

"I didn't mean to wake you." Riley spotted white cotton peeking from under the bed, squatted down to get it and exhaled sharply.

"Sore?"

"How long before I can walk straight? I mean, are people going to look at me tomorrow and know?"

"Have you never been with a man before?"

"Actually, no, that was not included in our list of Initiative recommended recreational activities."

"I didn't hurt you, did I? Come here."

"I need to get that book back before it's missed."

"It's barely ten. Come here, and turn around."

Riley did, and a finger probed at the tender bit.

"It's not bleeding," Giles told him. The finger worked deeper, and ecstasy bloomed.

"Giiiillessssss...."

"You like that?"

"YYeeesssss... yes, yes, yes!" He turned, and his reawakened manhood bounced off the Watcher's face.

"Here! Watch where you put that thing!"

"Yeah. Giles? Can I put it... can I do you this time?"

* * * * *

"I just left something in my office," Riley told the security guard. "I'll only be a moment." These people were unbelievable. Terrace doors wide open at three in the morning. Still, it made things easier for Riley. He popped the book back into place, opened at the same page, and then hurried back to his own office. It was incredible. Someone could just waltz in here at any time, and no one would ever know.

Riley was so caught up in that train of thought that he didn't notice the wavering figure on the terrace that followed him back through his office door.

* * * * *

Riley woke in a strange bed, with somewhat more warmth sprawled across his chest than he was accustomed to.

Giles. He'd had sex with Giles. All night long, except for a break to return the book, he'd had kinky and disgusting sex with another man.

And, judging by his body's response to the memory, he was about to do it again.

Giles whispered something in his sleep, and his mouth moved over Riley's chest until it captured a nipple. Riley felt his body flex as if to totally enfold his lover.

"Good?" Giles whispered, his eyes now open and dancing with mischief.

"Better than good. I didn't know they were so sensitive." Giles had moved to the other nipple, and Riley was actually clawing at the sheets with the intensity of his touch.

"No one's done this for you before?"

"No, Buffy's kind of...."

And like that, the spell was broken. Giles rested his forehead against Riley's chest for a moment, and then rolled away.

"Buffy," he said. "Oh, God, poor Buffy."

"We don't have to tell her," Riley said.

"Would you lie to her, then?"

"We might not have to. I mean, Buffy and I have kind of been growing apart lately. Maybe she doesn't have to know we were together before she and I were apart."

Giles glared at him.

"Buffy," he said, enunciating very clearly, "is my very dear friend, and she is going to be terribly hurt over this. We can't just wish things into being all right."

"You care about her."

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I care about you. Your whole life is wrapped up in this Watcher thing, dedicated to this teenage girl. You deserve better, Giles. You deserve to be happier than this."

"You care about me?"

"I said I did!"

"And in a year's time, will you feel about me as you feel about Buffy now?"

"Giles, it's not the same thing."

"It is exactly the same thing. Go home, Riley. This is over."

* * * * *

"I'm told you were here late last night," the Head said to Riley.

"Yes, I... to tell you the truth, I'd got lost earlier on and picked up something that I thought I'd misplaced, but it wasn't mine, so I put it back."

"Did you? No harm done, then?"

"Harm... harm is not the word I was thinking of." It wasn't. He'd been to the pinnacle of human experience, and then been plunged to its nadir. It was over. It had barely begun, and it was over.

"Perhaps you're going to fit in here better than we could have imagined, Riley," said the Head. "Come over here. There's something I want you to see." The Headmaster put an arm around Riley's shoulders, and led him to the book.

"I don't think that's a very good idea," said Riley, and stepped away from the Head.

"I don't think you have a great deal of choice," came the answer. Around him three figures shimmered into view, each touching a mechanical device.

"Come along, Riley," said the Head. "It's much easier if we don't have to use force."

It could not be. It would not be. Riley was not going to let his... his self get wound up in some organization with an amoral agenda that thought of him as a cog. The men approached, men he knew, staff from the school. He had no choice. He had to look. He had to, but he was not going to get lost.

Think of something. Think of Buffy, Buffy's breasts sweet and perky and all tight against his lips, and... and Giles. Giles sprawled on his bed, his balls swollen almost round and pressed right up against his hard cock, and Riley just barely touching the warm skin with his tongue... the book yawned open in front of him. Riley could feel space and time drawing away, leaving him alone. Alone with Giles.

* * * * *

Much later, he felt himself sag to the floor.

"It's not going to work," the Head said. "Somehow, he's already bonded."

"What shall we do?" one of the others asked.

"Kill him," said the Head. "We can't risk the operation being compromised. The people we place are going to be far too useful in the coming century. Kill him, and take him through the Portal at the ruined church."

"I don't think so," someone said, as if from far away. Riley felt rather than heard the fight, the whiz of crossbow bolts, the screams of demons. He felt the Head lose his human form and become just what he called himself, a gigantic head with vampire's fangs and a vestigial gut dangling from its neck. Idly Riley wondered where Buffy would stake the thing, since it didn't appear to have a heart. He couldn't stay awake to find out, though.

* * * * *

"Riley?"

"Buffy?" He blinked. He was warm and clean and lying in his own bed. "How did I get... how did you know?"

"Giles knew. He... he felt that you were in trouble, that you were calling for help."

"Yeah."

"He told me, you know. It's all right."

"Told you what?"

"About the spell. About you two getting all hot and sticky last night."

"Oh." He'd told her. Giles had gone to Buffy and confessed. What kind of an exhibitionist was he, telling Buffy something like that?

"But it's all right. I mean, it was a spell, right? You couldn't help yourselves."

"Yeah. It was a spell."

"Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I know, and it's okay. I mean, I understand."

"I love you." It sounded hollow, even to Riley. Buffy bent over and kissed him.

"I love you," he said again, and it was easier this time. "I love you and I want to be with you, but...."

Buffy sat up.

"But what?" she asked.

"But this spell. It's like there's a residue, an aftertaste in my mouth."

"What are you saying?"

"Help me get over him, Buffy. Help me get him out of my system."

"That sounds like fun," she said, "but first you have to promise me something. You have to promise me that if you ever get busy with a guy again, I get to watch."

"You're kidding, right?"

"I'm sitting here thinking about you and Giles, and I'm getting turned on."

"Turned on?"

"Uh-huh." She bent and kissed him again, and he could feel the intensity of it.

"You are turned on, aren't you?"

"Tell me what happened." She slipped under the covers and settled beside him, her hand teasing at his chest. "I want to hear about every flick of your tongues, every stroke of every finger, until what you did is as much a part of the two of us as the two of you. Tell me about it."

And he did.

END