Side Note: I have never seen a funnier sight as once when I saw a guy get tangled up when he tried to take off his poncho after he came in from the rain. Just thought I'd mention that, as it does play a very minor role in this story.
A Note Even More To The Side: Andra, you wanted fluff - this is fluff. *g* Also, I threw in some Angel-bashing just for the hell of it.
Sunnydale was in Southern California, but even they were subject to the whims and petty caprices of La Nina. So it was that the usually blue skies of the town were now filled with what could only be described as a torrential downpour. The residents of Sunnydale crouched down in their homes, looking out upon the rivers that had replaced their streets with quiet desperation as the fifth day of the rains hit, and there were no signs that it planned to abate.
And then, of course, there were those who responded to the situation with unquiet desperation.
Riley Finn paced across his room, an activity that he had been fully absorbed in since the second day of the rains. He usually prided himself on his patience - after all, he was from Iowa. Staring at cows was a completely acceptable hobby back home - but three years in the warm climes of Sunnydale seemed to have completely stripped him of that ability. When patrols were called off, the scientists having decided that any HST willing to tramp around in this weather was too stupid to be of any research value, he had been eager for his unexpected holiday. There were so many things he liked to do that had to get shoved to the back burner due to the demands of his work. He could go driving, hang around with Forrest and Graham, read a little, and clean his room.
Well, by the second day he had read every Star Trek book he owned, cleaned his room to the point to the point where one of the medical staffers had complimented him, realized that driving was no fun in a constant downpour, and as for the rest...
He loved Forrest and Graham like his own brothers - but after five days in their constant company he had realized that like his brothers, there was only so much of their company he could take. Also, they had their own ideas of how to spend the sudden free time. Graham had produced a stack of about two hundred crossword puzzles, and Forrest had rustled up a copy of "South Park". He could hear their voices echoing up from the rec room right now, and it was annoying the hell out of him.
"WHEN CANADA'S DEAD AND GONE, THERE'LL BE NO MORE CELINE DION!"
"What band produced the song, 'Everybody Hurts', three letters across. Ha! REM! I *am* the crossword king!"
Finally reaching his breaking point, Riley clomped down the stairs to where Forrest sat cackling at the TV screen and Graham tried to remember the correct spelling of 'Salvador Dali'.
"Guys!" Riley yelled, all of his agitation finding an outlet in one word. Neither of his friends seemed too impressed, as Forrest only turned the volume up louder and Graham merely asked, "Riley, what's a nine-letter word for a kind of scent, first letter 'p' and fourth letter 'c'?"
Riley gave the strangled whimper of a man finally driven past the edge, and dropped onto the couch, cradling his head in his hands. It was at times like these that he wished that it was socially acceptable to get wasted at 3 in the afternoon. Graham misinterpreted the source of his distress, however, and gave him a consoling pat on the back, saying, "Hey, it's okay, no one else knows the answer to that one either."
"It's not the crossword. I am just so, freaking, BORED." Riley said.
Forrest looked up from where Satan was performing a big musical number, and rolled his eyes. "So get out of here, man. You're bugging all of us with your pacing."
"And go where?" Riley responded morosely. "Everything's closed downtown, and everyone is holed up in their dorms."
"Go pay a conjugal visit to your girlfriend." Forrest advised with a leer. "That should liven things up a little."
"I can't, you dumbass," Riley snapped. "She's out of town helping out some ex-boyfriend of hers. I told you that almost a week ago." That had been one major factor in his recent bad mood. Buffy had broken the news to him about her ex's undead status, and then had to run to save his butt. The idea of Buffy in LA with her tragic former lover for six days had not been one to give him happy dreams.
"She got back in on Wednesday. Called to let you know. Didn't I tell you?"
It was only through the greatest test of willpower that Riley restrained himself from throttling his friend right then and there. As it was, his voice dropped almost to a growl and he ground out, "She WHAT?"
"She called to tell you that she was back. You were in the shower, so I took the message. It sounded kinda important. You're sure I didn't tell you?"
Forrest was admittedly a rather intelligent guy, but five days of watching the South Park movie continuously had dulled his edge slightly. It was only after he turned to glance at Riley that he realized just how deep in shit he was. However, it was then that his survival instinct kicked in, and he managed to tear out of the room just a step in front of his enraged commanding officer.
Ten minutes later, Riley returned to the rec room, slightly dishevelled but feeling far better for having kicked Forrest's ass. That was more of a temporary solution, though, and he turned to Graham for guidance in just how he could get his girlfriend to forgive him.
"So, let me just sum up," Graham said, several minutes later. "Through no fault of your own, you don't call your girlfriend back or go to see her for four days after she comes back from a trip to visit her ex-boyfriend. Huh. Well, you're in a situation that could charitably be designated as 'screwed'. I'd love to help you, but I have only one more word on my puzzle and then I can move onto the next one."
"So, if I help you with the puzzle, you'll tell me how to make it up to Buffy?"
"Yep. Nine-letter word for a kind of scent, first letter 'p' and fourth letter 'c'."
Riley considered a moment, then went upstairs to his room. Returning to the rec room half an hour later, he said, "'Patchouli'. Now, how do I make it up with Buffy?"
"How'd you figure that one out?" Graham asked curiously as he carefully marked the word into the puzzle.
"I called my mom. Long distance, to Iowa, and then had to sit through a lecture on the importance of dental hygiene. Now, for the love of God, just tell me how to make it up with Buffy."
"Roses and Godiva truffles."
There was long pause, and then Riley asked incredulously, "That's IT? That's your great advice?"
"Hey, don't knock the advice. It works."
"But I don't have any of those things, and the stores are closed!" Riley wailed, flapping his arms helplessly.
"So improvise. And better hurry, too. The longer you wait, the more pissed she'll get."
With that, Graham returned to his crossword puzzles and Riley started a search through the whole frat-house to find something to appease his girlfriend.
An hour later, Riley knocked tentatively on the door of Buffy's dorm. Shifting, he held a plastic bag in one hand as he tried to remove his water-soaked poncho with the other. He had managed to completely tangle himself in it when he heard the door open and Buffy say, "Riley, getting yourself stuck in a poncho - however adorable - will not erase the fact that you didn't call for four days."
Finally managing to remove the poncho, Riley did the smart and manly thing by dropping to his knees, holding out the plastic bag as a peace offering, and blaming the whole thing on Forrest. He was acutely aware of the fact that he was still out in the hallway, and also that numerous frosh were standing around and snickering at him, but he plunged onward, continuing to apologize for any slight he might've paid her, or might pay her in the future. After five minutes of this, Buffy finally relented and invited him in. He knew he wasn't in the clear yet, and mentally crossed his fingers as she opened the plastic bag and pulled out two packages wrapped in taped-together crossword puzzles.
Buffy raised one eyebrow at the unique wrap, and he just shrugged helplessly. Riley had learned the hard way that no one in a frat house owned wrapping paper. Graham had helped him improvise.
Tearing both open quickly, Buffy gave a bubbling laugh of amusement. "A box of popsicles and a six-pack of diet coke," she said sardonically. "Why, Riley, you've just swept me off my feet."
"There wasn't much around the frat house," he apologized. "I'll get you something nicer when the weather clears up and the stores open again. A teddy bear, or something equally cute and fluffy."
"See that you do." she said with a grin, before sitting down on her bed and looking up at him expectantly.
"So...." Riley floundered for a moment. "Casual night?" he gestured to her attire of an oversized tee-shirt and silk boxer shorts, both which he recognized as his.
Following his glance down, Buffy shrugged. "Willow went to Tara's with the latest issue of 'True Confessions', so she'll probably be spending the night. I wasn't expecting any other visitors, so..."
"So..." Riley repeated, finding the brunt of the conversation responsibility again fall to him. Struggling a moment, he tentatively broached the subject that had been hovering over his head like a doom-laden fairy. "Didn't get much of a chance to talk to you before you headed off to LA. Everything alright with Angel...?"
What he was really asking, of course, was if she had for some reason decided that she was going to ditch him and try out the whole vampire thing again. Buffy hadn't spent four years around Giles, Xander, and Oz, though, without picking up some of the nuances of guys. She picked up on this at once, and gave him the full story right up front, having also learned her lessons about keeping important secrets from significant others.
"Oh, geez, it was a mess. Angel had gotten really angry and punched out some guy, and the guy turned around and pressed charges. So, Angel gets hauled into court, and it turned out that the guy he punched hired this great lawyer named Mary Ellen-something-or-other. I actually had to serve as a character witness to his stability and mental health. It didn't go over very well. He has to see a court-assigned therapist for six months and pay damages."
"Oh, really." Riley blinked a moment, registering everything. "Well, that's really a shame, I mean, with legal proceedings and everything. It can happen to anyone - that's a real pain for Angel. I hope he gets by without too much of a hassle."
Translation: 'HA! Aren't I a much snazzier boyfriend? *I* don't drag you into court to serve as a witness and subject you to the reptilian embrace of prosecuting attorneys because I lost it and pounded some guy! Ha!'
Again, Buffy understood both the spoken and unspoken words. With a quick grin, she cut off Riley's gloating by pulling him down next to her and kissing him thoroughly.
Relaxing and tugging her more closely against him, Riley reflected that this was one rainy day activity that he could get used to.