A Quiet Conversation
Author's Note: This is a story I had long thought lost, but which a friend of mine was nice enough to find for me.
This AU takes place after Restless
but before To Shanshu in LA
, so seasons 4/1.
Also: Buffy is not portrayed in the best of lights -- but this is not Buffy-bashing. I don't do that. Towards the end of Buffy's fourth season -- especially given Buffy's behavior in the two late-season crossover episodes with Angel -- I thought she was getting somewhat more reckless and out of control.
This is not a path the show's writers chose to follow. But I think you can see it in the relevant episodes.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all. I own nought.
X X X X X
Riley Finn surprised Angel in his bedroom one night. The former soldier was holding one of those taser rifles Buffy had told him about.
Angel said, “Riley, what are you doing here?"
The normally calm and collected Riley Finn came across the room and stopped about ten feet away. Then he pulled out a cross as well, pinning it onto his shoulder. At this distance it couldn't affect Angel, but it made it difficult to get close.
The rifle, of course, also made it difficult. A couple of shots from that thing and he'd be down for the count.
"What the hell are you doing?" Angel said.
"Making a point," Riley said. "Look. I know you and Buffy parted on good terms but I’m not quite sure that’s enough.”
“I'm still fairly sure she doesn't want me dead," Angel said, stepping forward.
Riley pulled the trigger on the rifle, once, and fired it. Angel, of course, went down like he’d been blackjacked. Then Riley went over to Angel’s twitching body. “I'm not going to kill you,” he said quietly. “Buffy wouldn’t stand for that. I came here to talk with you. To ask you to stay away from her in the future. You’ve caused her more pain than you’ve brought her joy.”
Angel slowly started to stand up, and Riley didn't stop him.
Then they were both startled to hear a voice from behind Riley. “Oh my God, what –" Riley
turned his head and saw a tall, dark-haired woman on the stairway. She held a crossbow. “What the hell are you doing!”
And then Riley made his mistake. He spun around, still holding the rifle in a firing grip.
X X X X X
The intruder standing over Angel’s body turned towards her holding a gun.
Not a chance in hell. Praying for a lucky shot, Cordelia let the crossbow bolt fly.
It struck the intruder – Cordelia didn’t care where – and he went down. Then Cordelia ran over to Angel. “Are you okay?”
Shakily, Angel said, “Yeah, I think so. What happened to Riley?”
Riley? That had been Buffy’s Riley? “I don’t know –“
It was only then that Cordelia noticed the blood pooling beneath his body. Angel ran over to him and grabbed his wrist. Then he looked at the location of the wound and paled, ripping open the shirt around the protruding bolt.
“Should I call 911 and get an ambulance?” Cordelia said.
“Don’t bother,” Angel said grimly. “It was a clean shot – right through the heart. He’s dead.”
X X X X X
Giles, numb, spoke into the phone. “Wesley, are you certain? No, of course you’re certain. Thank you for calling me first.”
Then he hung up.
Riley was dead.
And of all people, Cordelia
had killed him.
He had to find Buffy. Quickly he dialed the phone.
She wasn't at the first place he tried.
Willow had no idea where she was. Neither did Xander. Finally inspiration struck and he called Joyce.
“Yes, she was just here,” she said. “She needed to borrow money – something about getting to Los Angeles as fast as possible. Why?”
“How is she getting there?”
“By bus – there’s one leaving the terminal in fifteen minutes.”
“Meet me down there. We have to stop her from leaving.”
Puzzled, Joyce said, “Why? What’s the problem?”
“No time. I’ll explain when we get there.” And then he hung up.
Fourteen minutes later, Giles pulled into the parking lot of the bus terminal. Joyce Summers was standing impatiently by her SUV. “Okay, now, what's the problem?” She asked.
“And he died in LA – from a crossbow bolt to the chest – in Angel’s apartment. Now we really must try to stop Buffy from boarding that bus.” And he began to run into the terminal.
A hard grip on his arm stopped him short. “Why should I want to stop her, then?”
“Because,” Giles said exasperatedly, “Angel didn't kill him. But if I know Buffy she’ll assume he did.”
Joyce nodded her head. “Right.” Then she looked at her watch. “The bus leaves now.”
They ran through the building – Giles actually jumping over the turnstiles while Joyce explained that “their daughter” had forgotten her medication – only to discover no bus to LA sitting there, or even one pulling away. When he got back to the ticket counter Joyce said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Giles. It left five minutes ago.”
“Of course it did.” It was all Giles could do to keep from slamming his fists into the wall in frustration.
“It’s okay,” Joyce said. “Let’s just see if we can beat her there. And for god’s sake let’s use my cell phone to call in advance. The last thing we want is to have them not be ready for what's coming.”
Giles could do little but agree.