Riley Finn, husband, army officer, friend, and all-around nice guy died in March. By June, Graham Miller was sleeping with his widow.
It was one of those things.
In later years, Graham would defend his actions by claiming that he never sat down and thought out how to seduce Buffy Summers-Finn during the weeks after her husband's untimely demise. And while it is true that he never actively put together a plan, his libido and his subconscious somehow managed to get him into a situation that required very little prodding from either of their ends.
Apart from his contributors, Graham also had a few vague suspicions regarding Other Forces. He was no Bible-beater, (or Koran-beater, or Talmud-beater) but he had spent enough time in Sunnydale to know that sometimes the Higher Ups took a personal interest in the love-life of the Slayer. So when called upon to give a good reason why he ended up in bed with her, he openly blamed The Powers That Be. He heard that one of Buffy's old friends had an open channel to them, and one quick phone call later he had confirmed that Miss Cordelia Chase had had a minor headache (which might or might not have been the result of the loud techno club she was attending) just as he was in the process of unbuttoning Buffy's shirt.
So he considered himself covered on that end.
Out of respect for the dead (and taste), he avoided mentioning that Riley had once asked him to take care of his wife if anything happened to him. This was a piece of evidence that Graham kept to himself, since he doubted that by 'take care of', Riley had been asking him to fuck his wife. Just a hunch.
At the time of Riley's death, Graham was stationed in Area 51 and up to his ears in demon slime and UFO freaks. It had taken him the whole of three months to convince his superiors that he was *not* planning on using his requested leave of duty to run to the nearest newspaper, magazine, or FBI agent and run off his mouth. Only the fact that he had an excellent record with ultra-secret organizations allowed him to get the leave at all. In the meantime, he had spent long hours on the phone comforting Buffy, or rather, listening to her cry. From all reports, he was the only one she could talk to about Riley, which his subconscious and libido chose to take as a good sign.
So it was that one balmy June morning Graham drove a military Humvee up to the curb in front of the Summers-Finn residence. His regulation camouflage uniform was a trifle dusty, since Humvees are not quite noted for their ability to keep out dirt, dust, and wind. He had driven straight from Area 51 to the small apartment that Buffy and Riley had shared, stopping only twice. Once for gas, and once at a pharmacy. He hadn't even booked a hotel room yet.
Now, the gas stop is fairly straight forward except for one minor detail. He left his receipt at the register, but it listed some interesting purchases.
One tank of gas
One bottle of Gatorade
One bag of Fritos
One box of Trojans (6 pack)
Yep. While filling his car and satisfying a snack attack, Graham had opened his wallet and noticed that the condom that was usually tucked inside was missing. So in today's fast-paced world of casual sex and sexually transmitted diseases, he figured that he was only being safe when he picked up a six-pack of condoms and slid one into his wallet. In fact, he was surprised that the gas station even *sold* condoms.
The box of condoms was actually the result of an enterprising new manager, but Graham chose to blame The Powers That Be in retrospect. He wasn't entirely wrong.
His stop at the pharmacy is also fairly interesting. While picking up some aspirin, he had also taken the opportunity to buy one of those little condolence teddy bears for Buffy. It was rather pathetic, really, since it was a little plush bear whose mouth was sewed on in a frown and wore a little tee-shirt saying, 'I'm So Sorry About The Loss Of Your Husband'. Not quite a Hallmark moment. But just as he was exiting the store, Graham noticed that there was a small rack of wines set up. Left over from Valentine's Day, they had been marked down several times. With an eye for both a bargain and possible inebriation later, Graham grabbed one.
It is important to note that Graham consciously planned to get good and drunk back at his hotel room. The one he forgot to reserve before heading over to visit Buffy. It is also important to note that pharmacies usually don't sell liquor, since most of the medicines they provide have the tendency to kill people when mixed with alcohol. The fact that there was a small display of wine was the result of another enterprising young manager. Graham chose to blame it on The Powers That Be, and he wasn't entirely wrong.
When Buffy let him into the apartment, Graham strongly reminded his libido that it was wrong to think of his friend's widow as sexy. His libido really didn't say anything back, but it pretty much ignored Graham.
But, the libido was right. Married life and widowhood had apparently agreed with Buffy. At twenty-four she was even prettier than Graham remembered. And it must also be said that Graham was still every bit the hottie he had been during his tenure at the Initiative.
They spent the day sharing memories about Riley, and they didn't even notice the time until an incident involving the neighbor's dog, a skunk, and some water balloons.
But that's another story.
Once that incident was cleared up, Buffy asked Graham for the number of his hotel room. At that point Graham remembered that he had yet to get one. Now, in other towns across America, hotels and motels rent out rooms after dark. Not in Sunnydale. Graham was left without a place to sleep, so Buffy very naturally offered to let him sleep on the couch. After they had settled this, Graham mentioned the bottle of wine that was still sitting in the Humvee. It was decided that a few glasses wouldn't hurt anyone.
The next morning, Buffy and Graham woke to find themselves sharing a bed. Their initial conversation went something like this:
It was one of those situations that could've become very bad very quickly. However, the sight of Graham's pants tossed over a lamp sent both into a hysterical bout of laughter that managed to put the entire situation into a certain perspective. The fact that both were extremely hung-over helped. They declared the entire situation a fluke, and agreed to pretend that it had never happened.
This might've actually worked if they hadn't both vocally agreed that the sex was great. Which is not really something to admit if you want to keep something from never happening again.
They pulled on some clothes (after another moment of hysterical laughter when Graham couldn't find his boxers) and headed out to the kitchen to get something to eat. After some strong coffee, both felt far more rational.
So they agreed that the second fluke, which occurred in the kitchen, really didn't count. Grief made people do weird thing.
Graham never ended up renting that hotel room. He stayed at the apartment for the entire week of his leave, and committed many more flukes during that time.
Now, someone might look at these events and conclude that Graham was an awful friend, and that Buffy never really loved her husband if she found it so easy to just hop into bed after he died. Both of these conclusions would be incorrect. Graham missed his friend very much, and Buffy had been very much in love with Riley.
It was just one of those things.
When he finally returned to Area 51, Graham cashed in some favors from superior officers, and ended up getting transferred to Sunnydale. He got a nice apartment, and he and Buffy saw a lot of each other, becoming even better friends.
A few more flukes happened. Finally he and Buffy gave up calling them flukes and admitted that they weren't just friends. Needless to say, this raised a few eyebrows and dropped a few jaws. One day they were sitting down for lunch, and it was over grilled cheese sandwiches that they realized they were in love. They thought things over, and Buffy moved in with him.
It was around this time that Graham was rather snippily informed by Giles that if he and Buffy had any more surprises that they wanted to share, they might as well get them out now.
So they got married.
Three months after Riley Finn died, Graham Miller was sleeping with his widow.
Seven and a half months after Riley Finn died, Graham Miller was dating his widow.
One year and two weeks after Riley Finn died, Graham Miller was living with his widow.
Two and a half years after Riley Finn died, Graham Miller married his widow.
In between that time, there was some arguing, some crying, some laughing, and the Apocalypse was averted several times. Still, it was a rather interesting two and a half years, even for the residents of Sunnydale.
At the wedding, which was Graham's first and Buffy's second, the newly married couple stood and raised their glasses in a toast to Riley Finn, husband, army officer, friend, and all-around nice guy. It was hardly conventional, but very little about the Summers-Miller couple was. Among the innovations they included into their wedding included one table at the reception that they had set aside. Plates were set, chairs were arranged, but no one was allowed to sit at it. When asked about it, the couple explained that it was for the loved ones who couldn't be there.
Few would deny that the Hellmouth is a funky place. Usually this results in lots of demons, but sometimes it has nice side effects. Even though no one could see them, that table was certainly occupied. Forrest was hitting on Kendra. Jenny Calendar was sniffling in a motherly way over Buffy's nuptuals. Doyle hadn't really known the couple, but he was there anyway. And one final guest was sitting there, looking remarkably pleased with himself.
Because The Powers That Be hadn't quite been responsible for the condoms and wine that Graham picked up on his way to Buffy's apartment that balmy June day.
Riley Finn had. It was one of those things.