CHAPTER EIGHTEEN – Riley Returns
Magic Box – Midmorning
Anya stood at the register happily counting the money; it was an activity that she found particularly soothing. Xander had griped since Buffy had left the shop yesterday morning. She’d tried to talk to him but he hadn’t listened.
Anya knew her husband had missed his friend and the he wanted her to come home. She just had to find a way to make him understand that the way he was going about telling her was going to alienate her. But when it came to Buffy he was stubborn.
Xander had a very clear idea of what he thought the Slayer’s duty was and he thought that duty was to be done in Sunnydale. Anya wasn’t sure what she needed to do to make him understand that being the Slayer did not mean being tied to the hell mouth. Really in her 1,100 years of existence Anya didn’t know of any slayer other than Buffy who had lived permanently on the hell mouth.
Anya closed the cash box. Counting the money was not soothing her in the way it normally did. Perhaps checking the inventory would distract her. As she reached under the counter for her inventory binder she heard the bell above the door jingle. A customer – making money was even more soothing than counting it.
Anya stood up and turned toward the door and saw Riley Finn enter the shop. “Well, this is a surprise. I thought after you got vamp suck jobs and then left town we wouldn’t be seeing you again.”
Riley had the grace to look chagrined, “Anya, as blunt as ever I see. I’m looking for Buffy. I went by her house but no one was home.”
“Well that’s because she doesn’t live there. Luckily for you she should be here soon. She’s meeting Giles for lunch. You are welcome to spend money while you wait. I have a very nice supply of healing crystals you might be interested in.”
‘Some things never changed,’ Riley thought to himself. Aloud he said, “I’ll just sit over at the table and wait.”
“Hmmph! The least you could do if you’re going to be here is spend money.” That being said Anya returned to her inventory.
A few minutes later the front door of the shop opened and Rupert Giles hurried in and stopped with a shocked look on his face when he saw Riley Finn. “Riley, this is a surprise.”
“Anya said the same thing. It seems it’s my day to surprise people.”
Giles walked further into the shop. “What brings you here today?”
“I needed to see you and Buffy. We have a problem. Ethan Rayne escaped.”
At this Giles took off his glasses and began to rub the lenses on his handkerchief. “I thought the military was holding him in a secure facility,” he said angrily.
“We were but for some reason the wards failed for a minute. We don’t have all the details yet on what caused them to fail. Our mages are trying to find out if he had help from the outside or if this was merely an some type of isolated incident.”
“Do you think he’s headed here?”
“What do you think, Giles? He holds you and Buffy responsible for his imprisonment. That hasn’t changed over the years. Every time he’s been interviewed he’s stated that he holds the both of you responsible for his predicament.”
“I see. This really couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Buffy has just returned to Sunnydale for a short visit and now this. Ethan always had impeccable timing, damn him.”
At Giles’ statement regarding Buffy Riley’s eyes widened. “She hasn’t been living here?”
Giles looked at Riley with disgust. “It’s been five years did you expect her to be just as you’d left her.”
Both men turned at the sound of the jingling of the bell over the door to see Buffy, Bronwyn and Jack enter laughing.
“Riley,” a surprised Buffy exclaims.
“Hello, Buffy,” said an equally surprised Riley. Of all the ways he’d imagined seeing her again it was not with a husband and child. Riley turned a critical look at the man who walked in with Buffy. He was obviously older and if he was any judge military as well. No, this was definitely not how he’d expected Buffy to end up.
Jack returned Riley’s stare and extended his hand in introduction, “I’m Jack O’Neill.”
Riley returned the handshake, “Riley Finn.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at the posturing between her ex and Jack.
“Momma, whos dis?” Bronwyn said.
“Sweety this is a friend of momma’s that she went to school with. Riley, this is my daughter Bronwyn.”
The little girl stared at Riley intently but did not extend her hand for him to shake. The small child began to look around the room and squealed holding out her arms when she noticed Anya. “Hold me, peas!”
Anya came around the counter and took the child from Buffy. “I’ll take her in the office. I have some of the girls’ toys back there so we can play. She’s cute enough that I will forego any possible sales.”
Buffy smiled at Anya, “Thanks.” Then she turned back to Riley all business, “Why are you here?”
Giles answered for him. “I’m afraid he’s brought some bad news. Ethan Rayne has escaped. Riley thinks it’s likely he’ll head here to Sunnydale.”
“Just great! I should have known I couldn’t come home for a trouble free visit.”
Jack turned a quizzical look to Buffy, “Who’s Ethan Rayne?”
“A former associate of Giles’ and a large pain in my ass. We’ve had several confrontations with him. He’s a Chaos Mage. The more trouble he can cause the better he likes it. He rented cursed Halloween costumes that turned me into a Victorian lady and nearly got me killed, tainted band candy that caused an unfortunate liaison between my mom and Giles, summoned a demon and turned Giles into one. It was the last incident that caused him to end up in prison.”
Giles’ face had reddened at the mention of the band candy incident. He certainly hoped that Buffy would not go into details about that instance.
Buffy turned and gave Giles a mischievous look but resisted the urge to comment further on the band candy incident. “Giles you know Ethan best. What do you think we should expect?”
“Frankly, it could be anything. You know as well as I do that he doesn’t have any particular goal other than causing a maximum chaos. My concern is he’s had five years to think about his revenge on us. One thing we do know is that every plan he’s implemented against us has not been designed kill us but to render us helpless to the particular situation. In addition he hasn’t had to be a direct participant. The main reason his plans haven’t succeeded is because he’s so arrogant and he feels the need to watch his plans come to fruition. If he’d simply left town his plans could very well have succeeded. His ego is our greatest advantage and we should use it against him.”
Buffy nodded. “You’re right. I think we need to call everyone here to warn them and start working on a plan to counteract any of Ethan’s actions.”