Disclaimer: All non-original characters herein belong to persons such as Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, WB, etc, etc, etc, rather than me, myself and I. No compensation is received by me, only the pleasure I take in writing it.
Distribution: The Mystic Muse http://mysticmuse.net
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Spoilers: BtVS: Post-Chosen. Watchers: Season 1
Author’s Notes: This story was written for Kaz of Near Her Always as part of her Willow-a-Thon fiction challenge. After I got over the shock at the assignment, my friend CN Winters advised (once she stopped laughing at me, that is) that any good writer worth her salt can write anything; even if it’s something she wouldn’t choose to write. This story can only stand on its own merit to prove her point. Thanks to Kaz for the inspiration and to CN and Irena for the strong shoulders.
Summary: Willow receives a gift from a lost friend and returns the favor in her own unique way.
Willow and Giles sat comfortably close together playing chess in the library. The warmth from the glowing fire kept them toasty, but every now and then Willow would glance up at the window and shiver at the sight of falling snowflakes just beyond the frosted panes. This was her first winter in Cleveland and she still felt the occasional pang of homesickness for the balmy climate of Southern California.
Giles noticed her wistful look as he completed his move and rose to change the album on the turntable. "You'll get used to it eventually, Willow," he said, thumbing through his stack of music. "Just like I had to get used to that infernal weather in Sunnydale."
Willow chuckled, "Well, other than that one Christmas Eve, I've never seen snow before. It's gonna take more than one winter here to get used to it, I'm afraid."
"We'll adjust," he said and the soothing sounds of Procol Harem emanated from the expensive speakers mounted throughout the room.
Willow chuckled at the music, "Don't you think we've got enough whiter shades of pale outside with the snow?" Giles simply smiled as he returned to his chair and Willow continued. "I know I'll adjust," she said. "It's just that it's nearly Christmas and..."
"A new home, a new challenge, a new evil to fight," he completed as he took a sip of his tea. "I think you're missing your friends more than you are the weather."
"So very shallow, aren't I?" she smiled and finally made her move on the chessboard.
Giles frowned at the board, trying to anticipate her maneuver. Playing chess with Willow was always a challenge—even after all these years he was still unable to formulate any specific pattern to her strategy. "No, not shallow, just human. It's natural to miss your loved ones at Christmas. But you have friends here too, you know."
"I know," Willow sighed. "I'm so glad to be with you and the others, but I miss Buffy and Dawn and I just wish Xander was here...at least for the holidays. Who's going to do the Snoopy dance on Christmas?"
"I can assure you it won't be me. Andrew, perhaps?"
Willow chuckled and as if summoned, Andrew walked into the library.
"Uh, Willow?" the nervous young man said. "Somebody left this for you. I don't know what it is."
"Let me see it," the redhead asked.
Andrew gingerly handed her a small box. Willow opened it and a tiny puppet on a spring popped out.
"A jack-in-the-box?" Giles asked.
Willow put the box on the table next to the table. "It's from Sam Finn," she explained. "One of her secret codes."
"Oh cool!" Andrew gushed. "What's it mean? Is it like that time Tim Robbins left the box for Morgan Freeman under the rock with a bunch of money so Morgan Freeman would know Tim Robbins had made it out of jail and was waiting for him down Mejico way?"
"Not so much," Willow said. "I have to go meet her."
"Now?" Giles said. "It's getting late."
"I'll be fine," she said, standing up.
"Take my car then," he said. "It handles great under any conditions."
Willow laughed. "Thanks, but no. This is all way too James Bondy for me as it is. I'll just take the Council's Jeep."
"Be careful then," he said as Willow left the study with Andrew following along asking more excited questions.
Willow eased the large vehicle out of the spacious garage and sighed in relief when she felt the tires take a firm grip on the slick road. Just for safety's sake she put it in four-wheel drive. Despite what she'd told Giles she was still nervous, not only because of the weather, but also because Cleveland's city traffic could be much worse than any nightmare concocted in California. Fortunately, Sam's prearranged rendezvous was not too far from the Council's headquarters and in short time, Willow had arrived.
The soft chirp of the Jeep's alarm seemed to be absorbed by the nearby lake and despite her warm leather coat, Willow shivered from the cold.
"Sam?" she called softly looking around at the deserted marina. The place which had been full of activity just months before looked completely different in the still winter night. Boats hung hoisted and abandoned out of the frozen water and the sound of the tide lay buried under a tomb of snow-covered ice. A soft noise broke the silence and Willow heard footsteps crunching through the snow. She turned around and through the falling flakes she saw a figure too large to be Sam Finn approaching.
"Sam?" she repeated, one hand on the stake in her pocket and a protection spell on the tip of her tongue.
As the figure moved toward the streetlight she was standing under, the features became clear. "Riley?" she asked. "Where's Sam?"
One look at his face told her the story. "Oh gods," she whispered.
"It was a total waste," Riley Finn said, staring into the glass resting by his hand on the table.
Willow had managed to bundle the distraught soldier into the Jeep and drive him back to his hotel. The hotel's bar was closed at this late hour, but Willow ordered a bottle of Scotch from room service, knowing Riley needed it and feeling the need for a drink herself. Her and Sam had only met that one time in Sunnydale, but they had maintained a pleasant email correspondence in the time since. Sam had written her long letters after Tara's death, which in a small way helped Willow pull herself out of the suicidal depression she was in during her time in England. And the brave soldier constantly expressed her pride in Willow's efforts at rebuilding the Watcher's Council and continuing the fight against evil.
And now Sam was dead. Willow felt the familiar cold rage eating into her insides. "What happened?" she asked.
"We had just finished a clean up op in Columbia. Nest of Hagroth demons had taken residence in the jungle outside of Cartagena. Not much of a problem for our squad and since we were done sooner than we expected, Sam and I decided to take a little R&R and enjoy the beaches." Riley paused in his narration to down his drink.
"So, there we were...just two ordinary tourists in civvies, wandering around the marketplace. Sam bought you something," Riley stood up and rooted through his duffel bag. He returned to the table a moment later and handed Willow a small, handmade doll. Willow took it and a small smile graced her lips at the sight of it.
"A bruja with red hair?" she said. "I thought the witch dolls traditionally had black hair?"
Riley returned the smile, but Willow could see it was strained. "She haggled with the vendor for twenty minutes trying to get her to make one with red hair just for you. We were there to pick it up when I heard shots from down the street. I pulled my piece, but it was a drive-by. Nothing to do with us—just one drug lord going after another. I didn't even get a good look at the driver, it happened so fast. By the time I turned back around to see if Sam was okay, she was gone. Single bullet, straight through the heart."
Willow paled at the description. "Oh gods, Riley."
The soldier was silent for a few minutes while Willow tried to process this information. "Sam liked you, Willow," he said. "She loved it when she had an email message waiting for her when we returned from a mission. She said she looked forward to it even more than a hot shower."
"I liked her, too, Riley," Willow said, pouring herself another drink, hoping it would dispel the coldness inside her. "She helped me a lot after..."
"I know," he said, looking into her green eyes. "She wanted to be there for you...hell, we both did, but we couldn't get away. It would have meant putting a lot of lives at risk."
"No, that's okay..." Willow said.
They both fell silent again.
"Riley?" Willow finally asked. "The ones who killed Sam...what happened to them?"
Riley's eyes darkened. "Officially, the warring drug lords wiped each other out."
"Our squad did what they do best. Clean up op."
"Were you there?" she asked, knowing he was.
"Not officially," he answered.
Willow gave a sarcastic laugh. "Not officially part of an unofficial operation. Leave it to you government boys to come up with that." Willow stood up and began to pace around the room. "And now that her killers are unofficially gone, what now Riley? Are you still part of the Initiative?"
"I'm on temporary inactive duty," he nodded. "Standard operating procedure, you know. But I go back soon. I'm grabbing a flight out tomorrow."
"Why did you come here?"
"I wanted to tell you about Sam," he said, looking away and Willow knew he was lying.
"You could have just sent a message...why drag yourself all the way to Cleveland in the middle of winter?"
"I..." he began.
Willow could feel his pain and knelt before him as he slumped over in the chair. She took his hands and forced him to look at her. "Why, Riley?"
"I needed..." he began again. "Will it stop, Willow? Will the pain ever end? You know how it feels. You're the only one I know who could possibly know how I'm feeling."
Willow nodded her understanding. She did know how it felt...how the pain tore at your heart in a never-ending stream, until you wanted to rip the offending organ out with your bare hands just to find some relief. Cutting herself off from her friends during her grief had resulted in her murderous rampage. She knew Riley was close to falling into that same pit and while he didn't have the means to end the world, she knew he could end up losing much more than he already had. She couldn't let him cut himself off.
And more importantly, she wanted to help him. He was an old friend who had fought beside her and gave freely of himself until he needed to move on to his own space. She had been sad when he left, but she was happy for him when he found his purpose in life and a partner to share that purpose with. Now that Sam was gone, Riley needed something to continue that fight and she knew she could help him.
"Riley," she said, softly caressing his face.
He looked at her, his face dry, but his eyes glassy with unshed tears. "Willow...I need..."
"I know, Riley," she whispered and gently pressed her lips against his.
Riley stiffened and pulled back. "Willow...what...?"
"You're in a dangerous place right now, Riley," she said, looking into his eyes. "Your heart is filled with pain and vengeance. The only thing that saved me...that saved the world...was one human being reaching out to me and filling my heart with love again. Can I do that for you?"
Riley looked deep into her eyes for a moment and then pressed forward meeting her lips with his and she felt him slowly relax. Willow closed her eyes as the kiss deepened and she let out a soft moan as he opened his mouth, giving her access. He tasted of Scotch and passion and Willow felt her body responding to him.
Riley wrapped his arms around Willow's back, pulling her closer to him. Willow leaned into him, enjoying the feel of his strong arms enveloping her. She brought both hands and wrapped them around his neck, opening her mouth wider and thrusting her tongue deeper into his mouth.
"Oh Willow," he groaned, moving away for a moment. "Is it okay? Can we do this?"
Willow looked deep into his eyes, knowing he knew the answer, but understanding he needed reassurance anyway. "It's okay, Riley. I want to. I know you do, too."
"It's been so long," he said, kissing her again, pulling Willow up on her knees so she could press her body fully into his. She could feel his strong muscles under her breasts. She moved slightly, enjoying the sensation of the soft silk of her bra as she rubbed her quickly hardening nipples against his chest.
Riley stood and easily lifted her to her feet as he reached down with one hand and gently cupped her ass, pulling her even closer into him. She moaned when she felt his hardness pressing against her. Willow wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist as he lifted her off her feet, again pulling her in for a deep kiss.
Riley carried her over to the bed and, kneeling on the covers, gently lowered her to the pillows, never once letting go of her lips. They continued the passionate kisses for a few minutes longer, until Willow felt the need for more contact and reached her hands under his chest and pushed him upwards slightly, giving herself more access to pull at the buttons on his shirt. After a moment, Riley realized her intent and sat up to pull the shirt off of his head. Willow watched him with darkened eyes.
"All of it," she demanded. "I want to see all of you."
"Okay," he agreed and stood up to pull off the rest of his clothes. Willow watched him for a moment, then rose and moved around him, looking at his scarred, but well-toned body. Willow liked what she saw—Riley was a fine example of the male species and with his firm, narrow hips, broad shoulders and hardened muscles, he was so very different from other lovers she'd had in the past. Her breath quickened as she looked at him and she felt her growing wetness making her eager to touch him completely.
She wondered for a moment if his body would respond to her touch as Oz's had, growing firmer and higher and aching to be merged with hers. She could recall the wonderful feeling of being filled and it inflamed her desire even more. Riley just stood there, his head swiveling around as he followed her circuit.
"Nice," she said.
"Glad you like," he replied, the heat from her gaze raising goosebumps across his skin.
"My turn," Willow said, pushing him back on the bed in the same place she had just vacated. Riley lay still as he watched Willow strip for him. She merely removed her clothes, not making any move towards seduction, but Riley watched her as if she were. Willow looked him straight in the eye as she removed article after article of clothing until she stood nude before him.
Finally releasing his eyes, she gave a small smile as she looked at his throbbing erection. "Glad you like, too," she said. "But I think we need something..."
Riley frowned for a moment, before he realized what she was getting at. "Oh," he said with a smile. "In my wallet," he pointed towards his jeans. "Back pocket."
After locating the square foil package, Willow moved back to the bed. She straddled Riley's waist and leaned down to capture his lips with hers, thrusting her tongue passionately into his mouth.
Riley threaded his fingers through her hair and held her closer to him. He then ran his fingers down her neck and along her back, before moving around her waist and up to her breasts.
Willow arched her back into his hands and moaned softly as his palms pressed against her nipples. Breathing heavily, she pulled away from his lips and placed the condom down onto the mattress, so that both her hands were free. As Riley continued to massage her breasts with his hands, she moved her forehead to rest against his.
With slow movements, she tentatively stroked her hands along his torso, lightly scratching her nails against his chest and stomach. Riley strained upward, his breathing heavy. Spurred on by his reaction, Willow moved her fingers up to his nipples, pinching them hard.
"Willow, please," he begged. "I need you."
In response, Willow moved her lips down and pressed a kiss against his chest, all the while using her thumb and forefinger to play with his nipples. She would always be a breast gal, and nipples were great, no matter who they belonged to. And the way Riley's moans were getting harsher and his breathing shallower, brought a smirk to her face. Obviously male nipples weren't as insensitive as I thought, she laughed to herself.
With that, Willow moved her lips and pressed her tongue against Riley's left nipple. She circled it slowly, before biting down on it gently.
"Mmm," Riley moaned, squeezing her breasts hard in response.
"Mmm," Willow echoed, moving to pay the same attention to his right nipple. She teased him with her teeth, before sucking hard, enjoying herself immensely.
"My turn," Riley surprised her by rolling her over. He grabbed her hands and pinned them up above her head, before lowering his lips to her left breast. He worked his tongue around her nipple, teasing it to a peak before taking it into his mouth.
"Gods, Riley," Willow sighed, beginning to feel an all too familiar ache between her legs as her wetness increased. She arched herself upwards, hoping to rub against his hardness, but met with his thigh instead. Good enough, she thought to herself, pressing her clit into his leg.
Riley released Willow's hands when he felt her wetness and lifted himself up for a better view. He responded to her moans and hip thrusts by moving his thigh, quickly learning the type of rhythm she needed.
It had been a while and pretty soon Willow could feel herself cresting. Her release came suddenly, but was over quickly and she was left feeling as if she'd only had a preview of what was to come.
And she was right. Before she had even recovered completely, she suddenly felt her legs being lifted to Riley's shoulders, as his lips pressed against her nether lips.
Riley loved the taste of a girl, loved her scent, and he was quick to drink in all Willow had to offer. It was great to lose himself in a girl's muskiness. It helped him to forget his pain for a moment. When he'd taken all Willow had to offer, Riley thrust his tongue inside her slit, hoping to elicit more for him to taste.
Willow could no longer feel her legs as Riley explored her. When she suddenly felt his tongue leave her, she whimpered from the loss. However, a second later she felt a warm, wet, pressure against her clit and all was forgiven. She gave herself over to her own lust, arching herself against his tongue, clutching at the bed sheets beside her as she once again reached her peak.
When she'd finished trembling, Riley lowered Willow's legs back down to the floor and covered her body with his. He pressed a soft kiss against her lips, but as he moved away, Willow's arms reached for his cheeks and pulled him back down.
"I wanna taste myself on your lips," she said huskily, before thrusting her tongue into his mouth.
Riley moaned in response, finding her words incredibly sexy. As the kiss deepened, Riley moved his hand down to the mattress in search of the condom.
Before he could locate it however, Willow had released his lips and was now pushing against his shoulders.
"What is it?" He asked, lifting himself up.
"It's your turn," Willow replied, rolling him over and straddling his hips. She spied the foil package next to her left thigh and quickly tore it open. With a sexy smile, she positioned it on the tip of his throbbing cock. Before Riley could say or do anything, she moved herself downward and placed her lips against the top of the condom.
"Oh God," Riley gasped sharply, as Willow used her mouth to slide the latex sensuously down his length. When she could no longer take any more of him into her mouth, Willow used her fingers to roll the rest of the sheath to his base. Holding it in place, she then slowly lifted her lips back upwards, gently sucking him out of her mouth.
"I want you now," Riley demanded, his balls aching with the need for release.
Willow smiled and moved her body upwards until she could feel him against her wetness. She slowly moved back and forth, sliding the length of his shaft against her slit, reveling each time the head of his cock pressed tight against her clit.
"Mmmm," she purred. "So nice. You feel so good."
"So do you," he said, looking up at her. Reaching his hands upward he first gently caressed each of her breasts and then more roughly as she groaned her appreciation of his touch. Feeling a new flood of wetness, Willow finally lifted herself up and easily enveloped him.
"Oh yes!" she whispered as he filled her completely. She threw her head back as she ground her hips against him, squeezing her internal muscles.
"Oh god!" Riley cried as he felt the pressure along his entire length.
Willow pulled back out then, wanting to tease him a little first.
"Hey," Riley moaned in protest.
Willow smiled and placed a finger against his lips—silencing him. She then un-straddled his hips and moved to lie down on her stomach next to him. Spreading her legs, she lifted her ass upwards, and moved her right hand up to her own clit. She grasped her wrist with her left hand for more support as she began to thrust her hips.
Riley's eyes widened in shock as he watched Willow pleasuring herself. He couldn't believe the utter sexuality the redhead was displaying. She was incredible. Unable to restrain himself any longer, he moved his own hand to his throbbing shaft.
Out of the corner of her eye, Willow noticed his action. "No," she managed to gasp out, not stopping her movements. "Me," she choked out.
Riley smiled as he realized what she wanted, and quickly lifted himself up. He moved to his knees behind Willow and grabbing her hips, he thrust himself deep inside her as she continued to work her own clit. He moved in and out slowly, marveling at the sensation along his cock as he enjoyed the show Willow was putting on for him.
"Oh Gods," Willow gasped, increasing the speed of her movements. She was so close now. When Riley thrust inside her again, a little harder this time, she lost all feeling in her legs and the muscles of her ass contracted as she pressed her fingers hard against her clit, drawing her own orgasm out of herself.
Riley continued to pound his cock into her as he watched her come, moving harder and harder each time, relishing the feel of her muscles surrounding him. When she eventually finished convulsing, Riley pulled out of her completely and pushed Willow onto her back. He wanted to look into her eyes as he came.
Willow spread her legs wide as Riley thrust back into her, and moved her hands to his shoulders. "Riley," she gasped, pulling herself up. He sat up as she repositioned herself, wrapping her legs around his waist, the new angle pushing him even deeper into her. Riley bent his head and sucked a nipple into his mouth, causing her to throw her head back as she hung on to his neck.
"Riley," she leaned forward to whisper in his ear. "Promise me something."
He let go of her nipple and enveloped her in his arms, pulling her closer as he continued to thrust deep into her. "Anything, Willow," he panted, licking a trail along her damp neck. "Just tell me."
"Promise me you'll live," she said, digging her nails into his back as her orgasm approached with the inevitability of a summer thunderstorm. "Promise me you'll stay alive, living every day to fight the next fight. Do it for you. Do it for me. Do it for Sam."
"Oh god, Willow!" he cried as he felt her internal muscles spasming again against his throbbing cock. "Yes! I promise!"
Willow felt her explosion overcoming her as her whole body tightened as if trying to pull him completely inside her. She dimly heard him roar as her own cries combined with his to fill the room. After what seemed an eternity, she felt her breathing begin to return to normal and she lifted her tired head off his shoulder.
"Hey," she whispered leaning her forehead against his. He smiled weakly as his lidded eyes gazed into hers.
"Hey," he finally breathed.
"You okay?" she smiled.
"Yeah, just give me a minute to catch my breath."
Willow chuckled. "I meant, will you be okay?"
He paused, remembering the promise he made. "Yes, I'll be okay. You've known me a long time, Willow. I always keep my promises."
"Good," she said. "I have enough to worry about here in Cleveland. I don't want to add the worry about you doing something foolish to my list, okay? I mean, if I hear of you taking stupid chances then I'll just have to hunt you down and whack you over the head with that shovel I keep handy. Remember, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times; a vague disclaimer is nobody's friend. Got it?"
"Okay, I got it," he laughed and hugged her tighter for a moment, enjoying her warmth and closeness. "Willow? Will you stay? I mean, tonight?"
"I'd like to," she agreed. "Can I ask something in return...well, I mean in addition to everything else?"
"Sure," he said.
"I'm gonna miss Sam's emails," she began. "Do you think...maybe...I can write to you and you know...maybe...every now and then you could reply?"
"I think I can do that," he said.
"And do you think...maybe...you could, when you had the chance, I mean...come visit or I could meet you somewhere? Because I don't like this once every year or more thing. Okay?" She gave him a little hopeful smile.
"Okay, Willow," he said, suddenly feeling a lessening of the heaviness that had filled his heart for a long time. "I'd like that. I don't have many friends in this world. You're one of my most precious."
"About time you figured that one out, mister!" she laughed and finally disentangled from him, pulling the covers off the bed as he quickly turned off the lights. Sighing softly she snuggled tightly against him.
"Thank you, Willow," he whispered, holding her close. "Thank you for saving me."
"Umm," she mumbled as she drifted into sleep, the small redheaded witch doll guarding their slumber.
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