Spoilerz: Into the Woods and an instance in "Scarlett" a book by Alexandra Ripley inspired the idea for this fic. Summary: New Years costume party at The Bronze, Buffy sits alone, watching her friends dance, dreary, when an unexpected guest arrives.

^Alone, always alone^ Is that what Dracula had said? Buffy supposed it was true. She was always alone, even in the arms of someone she loved. She needed some indescribable material to keep a relationship going in her world. Her costume was cheery, happy, vintage, and lovely. She was dressed like Marilyn Monroe. Her pale pink pumps were no longer comfortable, but they caused a stinging sensation in her heel, it hurt. She looked onto the dance floor where her friends were having a great time. Xander a pirate, and Anya his wench. Willow was Pippi Longstocking, and Tara, she had no costume, she made up a feeble excuse, saying she was a modern day witch.
Suddenly someone stuck out. A tall man in a corner, he had sandy brown hair. No, it couldn't be, but he was so tall. Could it be? Possibly? No, no citizen contact. Really, or was that code for don't try to get in touch with me? He turned her way, seeming not to notice her. He wore one of those cheap plastic masks, covering his face. She noticed his costume, he was dressed like a fairy tale prince, that was what he was, Prince Charming. She glared down at her shoes, cursing them silently. The pink became more vibrant in her gaze. A hand was in front of her face, offering itself.

"May I have this dance, Ms. Monroe?" The voice asked. No one had guessed her costume, Xander thought she was the girl off the Camel cigarette package. She had answered a quick 'no, the girl wears gold.' Yes, it was Riley's voice. She panicked. She gazed up at him, they were his eyes too.

"Sure." She answered briefly, wiping one of the tears that was about to trickle down her cheeks. She put her hand is his and grasped it in a hard sweaty grip. They were on the dance floor, he looked at her. His eyes clearly emotional.

"So Ms. Monroe, why is such a pretty thing like you sitting alone on a night like this?"

"I just got out of a serious relationship, kind of gun shy." She played along.

"Oh really?" He said in a tender voice.

"Riley, you can stop this, you're not being real inconspicuous."

"How'd you know it was me?"

"Your eyes, the way you carry yourself, I know these things, plus, the voice."

"Am I that obvious?"

"Pretty. Why are you back? I thought no civi contact." She smiled.

"Oh, the mission was pretty easy, quick. I was thinking I'd go back to Iowa, but not after getting my things. I saw an article in the newspaper, the party looked like fun, so here I am."

"You don't have to go back, to Iowa, I mean."

"There's nothing for me here, no job, no secret government conspiracy. There's simply nothing."

"I've missed you, even in the two weeks you were gone."

"You missed me?"

"Like hell! Riley, there were things, that I regret not saying. I want you to hear them."


"One, I need you. Two, I want you. Three, I love you. Four...."

"Wh-aa-tt? The third, what did you say?"

"I love you."

"God, and I was surprised by you needing me."

"Did you think? Did you think I didn't? You know me better than that."

"Do I?"

"Riley, I opened up to you in ways I've never..... to anyone... Riley, had you any clue? Go to LA, ask Angel, he knows."

"He found out before me?"

"First time I told a male boyfriend I loved him, got burned, he killed friends, he tried to kill me, he left. So I thought if I didn't say it but showed it...."

"That I'd turn evil too? Buffy, did Angel, did he tell you?"

"Once or twice."

"Buffy, I've told you like a million billion times, you can tell me. I swear, I think I said it once a day."

"Okay. Did you know? Did you know I ran after.... after the helicopter?"

"Thought I heard something, maybe my imagination I thought. Buffy, I want you." "And you don't think that I don't want you? Every night... every night, I pretend I'm in your arms. Safe, secure, loved. Riley, God, I love you." She embraced him and kissed him passionately on the lips.

All of a sudden: "It's one minute till midnight, people. 60, 59, 58, 57...." The manager said. Then, the gang ran over to Buffy.

"Who's that?" Xander asked.

"Boyfriend, back from Belize." She answered simply.

"Ri? That really him?" Willow poked at his arm. Her fake yarn pigtails bounced.

"*him* is standing right here." He grinned tearing off his mask. Willow hugged him.

"....... 30, 29, 28......." The speaker yelled again.

"Welcome back, big guy." Xander laughed.

"....15, 14......"

"Ri, you ready to greet the new year?" Buffy squeezed his hand.

".....10, 9, 8....."

"With you? Of course, my lady." He smiled.

"...5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Happy New Year, folks!" He grinned and went off stage. Riley smiled and they kissed. The age-old Scottish ditty, "Auld Lang Syne" was heard over the speakers. It would be a good year after all.

Authors Note: This idea, oddly enough, came to me in the shower. Thought it'd be good fanfic material. Pure fluff. Boo to Spike! BOOO!