Four Little Words
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Buffy stared at the clock on her nightstand and then rolled away from it, staring at the wall instead. She didnít need to be reminded of the passage of time, because time was something she was trying to outrun. For two days, she had only gotten out of the bed to shower or brush her teeth. Willow brought her food, Willow brought her homework and Willow made excuses, telling everyone that Buffy was either out patrolling or had gone to sleep. Now Willow was at Taraís for the day and Buffy was alone with her thoughts.
And it was a terrible place to be.
Riley had slept with Faith. Of course, it was Buffyís body with Faithís soul inside, but it was her just the same. It was Faith who knew that Riley was a slow and tentative lover. It was Faith, who now shared intimate knowledge about his body, and Faith, who had climaxed under his ministrations. Buffy could have dealt with that. She could have talked about it and worked through it had it not been for the four small words that Riley had mumbled to her after his admission.
"She had her fun."
Buffy shivered and pulled the cover over her head. Never in a million years would she have expected Riley to say that. Parker had said that. Parker had said it was all about fun and had cheapened the night they shared and then Riley said the same thing, forcing her to realize exactly what she meant to him. She was his fun. She had mistaken everything they had shared, everything they had gone through, as something more and he had put it into perspective with four small words.
She took a deep breath, trying to push the pain out of her chest and failed miserably. When she had been with Riley and woken up next to him, she had been so tempted to tell him that she loved him. Loved him for being there. Loved him for holding her until she fell asleep. Loved him for being cast in the morning sunlight that streamed through his window. But she hadnít said a thing about love and now she was thankful.
Because love would complicate his fun.
The ringing telephone cut into her thoughts and she closed her eyes, hoping that Willow had left the answering machine on. On the fourth ring, she poked her head out of the cover and stared at the desk, willing it to stop. On the fifth ring, the machine picked up and she waited patiently for the caller to speak.
At the sound of the beep, Rileyís voice filled the room. "Buffy, itís me. Are you there? Look, please pick up if you are. Iíve called you a million times and I canít help but think that Willow isnít being honest with me. If you were patrolling as much as she said then the vampire population in Sunnydale would be nonexistent."
There was a soft knock on the door, pulling her thoughts from the sound of his voice. Buffy shook her head and got out of the bed, expecting to find Giles waiting on the other side. She half listened to Rileyís words as she walked across the room. "Buffy, if you are avoiding me for some reason, I want to know and I want--" With a deep sigh, she pulled the door open and gasped. Riley stood on the other side with his cell phone at his ear. He stared at her for several seconds and added, "to see you. I want to see you."
"Riley, I-" She bit her lower lip as her gaze roamed over the expression on his face. He looked so hurt and so annoyed at the same time. His dark blond hair was hanging across his forehead, begging her to run her fingers through it and his eyes, so green and clear, were pinned to hers. "I- I meant to call you."
"Did you also mean to pick up just now?" Riley forced himself to keep his tone soft as he closed his cell phone and took in her appearance, the tangled hair and puffy eyes. "Whatís going on, Buffy?"
She stared at the floor. "Nothing. I canít do this right now. I canító"
"You canít talk to me?" He reached up slowly and tilted her chin so she was forced to look at him. "You donít have to talk, but you do have to listen."
Buffy started to protest as he brushed past her into her room, but one look over her shoulder at him sitting on the edge of Willowís bed with his arms crossed, convinced her it would be futile. She closed the door and padded back to her bed, sliding her feet under her as she sat.
Riley watched her for a few seconds and cleared his throat. "You know, I told myself that Willow wouldnít lie to me. When I called the first three times and she said you were patrolling, I believed her. Although I went looking for you and didnít see any signs that you were out. Sheís on the other side of town, I told myself. When I called the next three times and heard that you were in the shower, I figured that you couldnít be aware of the water restrictions on campus since your shower would have been about, oh, five hours long."
Buffy shifted uncomfortably and ran her hands through her hair, trying to smooth out the tangles. "Iím sorry."
"No, just listen to me." He stood and paced toward the window, then turned and squatted in front of her. "If what my gut tells me is right, youíre upset about me sleeping with you and not knowing it was her. Iím sorry. I should have known that you would never be that way."
"What way?" Buffy asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Just-just so-" Rileyís eyes met hers and he swallowed hard before he continued. "Do you want to hear this?"
"I think I need to."
"Fine. You were cold. It was like sleeping with someone who was dead inside. You ó she ó you, whatever, wanted something fake. It was like a game. I swear, I should have known, but I smelled alcohol on your breath and figured that it was the beer making you so different." His gaze quickly pinned her and he added, "You werenít drunk. God, Buffy, I would never take advantage of something like that. I knew you werenít drunk, but I chalked it up to the alcohol. One thing led to another and we had sex. It was almost mechanical and detached and it scared me."
Buffy couldnít bite back the harshness in her voice as she asked, "Why? You didnít get your kicks? It wasnít fun enough for you?"
"Fun enough for me?" Riley repeated her words and shook his head, clearly taken aback by her tone. "Buffy, whatís going on?"
She got to her feet and walked toward the door, opening it and keeping her back to him. "I want you to go."
"Look at me and tell me that." Rileyís heart was thumping hard in his chest and it was all he could do to keep from begging her to forgive him. When she didnít turn and face him, he stood and closed the distance between them in three long strides. His hand found hers on the doorknob and he repeated his request. "Look at me and tell me that, Buffy, or shut the door and talk to me."
Buffy glanced at their hands, his large and completely concealing hers, and shook her head. "Donít make this harder than it has to be, Riley. Just go."
"How can you tell me to just go? After everything weíve shared, how can you expect me to walk away from you for something as stupid as this?" He moved her away from the door and slammed it. It hit harder than he had intended and he caught her as she made a rush for it again, her eyes huge in her pale face. "Iím sorry. I didnít mean to shut it that hard. Buffy, please? Come on, donít do this."
"Let me go." Buffy pushed his arms off hers and looked up at him, square in the eyes. "You are such a good actor. I swear to god, you could fool me right now if I didnít know the truth."
His forehead creased and he stood up straighter. "What truth? What is this really about?"
"I wonít let you hurt me. I wonít." Moving around him, she grabbed her jeans and a sweater off the back of her chair and headed back toward the door. "I wonít be anyoneís fool again."
"Buffy, I have never thought you were a fool and I would never hurt you." Leaning back against the door, he put his hand over the knob and stared down at her. "Now tell me the truth."
"If you want me to move, youíre going to have to move me."
She clutched her jeans tight and squared her jaw. "I could, you know."
"I know and if you really wanted to, you would have."
"God." Tossing her clothing on her desk, she stomped back to her bed and flopped down on it. Her pajamas, shorts and a tight tank top, did little to cover her and she crossed her arms over her chest, feeling naked as he stared at her. "You want the truth? I canít be with you anymore."
Riley kept his back against the door and was grateful for the support it provided since her words would have floored him otherwise. "Why?"
"I donít want to."
"Faith and you." Buffy pulled her pillow into her lap and hugged it against her chest. "And what you said."
"What I said?" Riley walked slowly into the room and sat on the edge of her bed. "She told you what I said to her, I mean, you? She told you that I love you and thatís scaring you?"
It felt like someone had punched her in the gut and she gasped. "You- you said you love me?"
"Didnít she tell you?" He studied her face, trying to gauge her emotions. It had been the worst moment of his life when he had admitted his feelings and she had leapt from the bed, almost afraid of him. And if Faith had not told her, then he was opening himself up for that hurt again.
"No." It was digesting slowly, what he had just confessed, and she felt like she had heard what she wanted to hear instead of what he actually said. Her heart pounded against her chest, threatening to explode and her mind berated her for being so blind and foolish.
"Then what were you talking about?"
"You-you said that Faith had her fun. I thought that was all sex is to you. Fun." She watched his face cloud and his body tense and continued. "I have issues with that. With sex being equated to fun and nothing more. When you said that, it reminded me of Par-, uhm, someone I had a short relationship with."
"You think Iím like Parker?" Riley shouted, jumping to his feet. "I am nothing like him, Buffy. Nothing! And I have never had sex with you! I made love to you and how dare you Ė" He paused and looked down at her. "How dare you?"
"Iím sorry." She reached for him, but he backed away. "I know you arenít like him."
"No, you donít know me at all. If you would think that, you donít know me."
"And you donít know me either!" Buffy cried, standing as well. "You didnít know it wasnít me and you said yourself that you should have."
"That is neither here nor there." Riley stated flatly.
"Oh, of course not." Buffy threw her hands in the air and shook her head.
"Iím gonna go." Riley scratched the side of his face and closed his eyes, unable to look at her. He turned quickly and started to walk away.
He stopped, but didnít turn. "What?"
"All of this happened because of a misunderstanding. Because of four little words." She took a deep breath and added, "Please look at me?"
Sighing, Riley turned to face her and shoved his hands into his pockets. "Iím looking."
"Iím hoping that four little words will fix it." She swallowed hard, searching for courage and finally found it when he started to speak again. "I love you, Riley."
He said nothing, no words were needed. As soon as she had uttered his name, he was across the room and pulling her against him. Holding her tight, he brushed his lips over her hair and then down to her cheek. She sagged against him, her arms locking around his waist and he felt her breathing hitch. "Shhh."
Leaning back, she looked up at him and tilted her face into his palm as he brushed the tears off her cheek. "Iím so sorry."
"Weíre okay." He lowered his head slowly and captured her mouth with his, savoring the familiar taste of her lips.
She pulled away and sat on the edge of her bed. "Make love to me?"
Riley kneeled beside the bed and took her hands in his. "Buffy, if you want to wait and not rush our relationship, thatís okay. I donít have to make love to you to know that I love you. If this all went too fast for you, I understand."
"No, itís not too fast. Itís just right." She cupped his cheek and then unbuttoned the first few buttons on his shirt, leaning down to kiss his neck.
He closed his eyes and lowered his hands to her waist, letting her work the rest of his buttons. She slid off the edge of the bed and kneeled in front of him, pushing his shirt over his shoulders and staring down at his chest. She let her fingertips dance over his nipples and down toward his navel, then she frowned when she encountered the bandage that was wrapped around his waist. "Are you still sore?"
"Iím fine." He slid his fingertips under the hem of her shirt and tugged slowly, sitting back on his heels to watch as her breasts tumbled free. As soon as the tanktop was over her head, his hands skimmed her nipples, just as she had done his.
She moaned and arched into him, causing him to focus on her mouth, and more importantly, her tongue, as she darted it out to moisten her lips. He pulled her against him again, crushing her to his chest, skin to skin, and tangled his hands in her hair and plundering her mouth with his. He felt her fingertips digging into his back, felt her breathing quicken, and lifted her, putting her on the bed.
Buffy protested when he pulled away and he smiled at her, cocking one eyebrow suggestively. He moved to the foot of the bed and gripped the waist of her shorts, sliding them over her hips. As he moved them lower, he began to kiss behind them, trailing them as they slid down her thighs and over her feet. When they were tossed to the floor, he turned back to her and lifted her leg, kissing her ankle, then her calf.
He moved without urgency, despite the fact that his pants had grown so tight against his groin that he feared for his circulation. Planting small kisses up her leg, he lingered over her sex for a split second and moved to the other leg, taking great pleasure in the exasperated sound that came from her. When he reached her other ankle, he grinned up at her and she narrowed her eyes at him. He made a great show of sticking the tip of his tongue out, sliding it up her leg and lapping at the ticklish flesh behind her knee. She giggled and pushed her hips off the bed, trying to squirm away, and he caught her.
Buffy cried out when he gripped her legs and lowered his mouth to her sensitive folds. She felt his tongue dance out, flicking lightly across her clit, and her eyes rolled back into her head. When he slid a finger into her moist channel, she exploded, crying out his name and raking her fingers through his hair. He pulled his head away and watched as her body clenched and unclenched around his finger, then he stood and unbuttoned his pants.
She gazed at him with admiration as he shoved his black jeans over his firm thighs and stood before her. He was beautiful. The hair between his legs was light and his erection stood tall and proud. She made a move to sit up, wanting to give as good as she had gotten, but he pushed her back and settled between her thighs. "I want to be here. I want to look you in the eye."
He braced himself on his elbows and stared down at her as he sheathed himself in her heat. She was still riding the waves of her orgasm and the friction of him moving into her caused the quivering to begin anew. She surged upward and he caught her hip with one hand, kneading her flesh as he pulled back and thrust again. His gaze never left her face and she gazed back at him through hooded eyes.
It seemed to last forever, the passion, the heat and the emotion. He wanted to keep going, keep loving her, but her next orgasm forced his own, and he lowered his mouth to hers as he came. Exhausted, he pulled away and brushed the hair off of her face, smiling at how sweaty she was. "Youíre beautiful."
"Youíre not so bad yourself." She pushed the hair off his forehead and sighed with contentment. "Dare I say that we should fight more often?"
With a smile, he rolled to his side and pulled her into his arms. "Only if I get to hear you say you love me afterwards."
She realized suddenly that Faith was only one obstacle they would face. One day she would be forced to tell him about her past with Angel. Given Rileyís feelings toward socializing with demons, she had no doubt that it would be horrible when the truth came out. And one day, he would probably be forced to choose between her and the Initiative. "I love you. Youíll hear that without a fight."
"I love you too." He leaned his head against hers and closed his eyes.
Buffy lay awake for some time, listening as he dozed off. She didnít know what the future held for them, but they did have a future. His heart beat steady and strong in his chest and hers replied, beating a language that was understood now. When the time came for truths to be told, for pain to be revisited and for them to overcome the odds, she hoped that his love for her would survive.
He shifted in his sleep and pulled her closer, murmuring her name.
And she had no doubt that it would be just fine.
Love was the strongest weapon of all.
Four little words would always be enough.
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