Title: Value to Survival
Author: Venus Blue
E-mail address: greenbunygoddess at
Pairing: Willow/Riley
Rating: G
Summary: Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
Feedback: Do you like getting feedback? Then why would you think I wouldn't?
Distribution: At my site, The Bunny Warren. Probably , if I get really bored. Any lists who archive. Anyone who wants, please ask. I haven't said no yet.
Author's Note 1: Written for blaarrosir for the Fluffathon. She wanted Willow and Riley, post Season 7. Not a pairing I would write normally, but I enjoyed the challenge. Hope she enjoys it, too. Summary and title from a CS Lewis quote.
AN 2: Little FYI for my sanity, mostly. a) Tara didn't die. She and Willow split amicably. b) Kennedy? Huh? You mean the president? I don't know any other Kennedy's. No sir. c) Sam? Thinking, thinking....ohhh, you mean Riley's girlfriend. Eaten by a polar bear. Tragedy, really." There, sanity saved.
AN 3: As always, more love than exists to Meltha for the beta, and the friendship.

As Willow Rosenburg walked home after a long day at work, her mind was blissfully free of all thoughts other than whether there was ice cream left in the freezer. For the first time in too many years, she was really happy with her life.

After they'd destroyed Sunnydale, she had moved to Rome with Buffy and the others, and she'd enjoyed it for awhile. It was a new experience, and she'd loved the culture. But she grew tired of it after a few years, longing for a real hamburger and fries, and wanting to make a life on her own, away from slayers and watchers. With the trust fund she'd received when she reached the age of 25, she'd set herself up in Los Angeles, in a small yet comfortable apartment. A few weeks after arriving, she managed to land a job keeping the books for a magic shop just three blocks from her home. She enjoyed the short walk to and from work, and loved to browse in stores along the way.

She still kept in contact with her friends, and Dawn had come to see her when she was visiting her father at Christmas, but mostly she was on her own.

Reaching into her bag to find her keys, she wasn't looking where she was headed and plowed straight into another pedestrian coming from the opposite direction. Dropping her purse, she fell back slightly, startled. Looking up, the apology on her lips was frozen by the sight of the man she'd just collided with.

"Hey, Willow."

"Riley?"

"So, how long have you been in Los Angeles?"

"About six months," Riley said, sitting down across from her at the streetside coffee shop. "I've finally managed to get the army to cut me free. They didn't want me to go, but after a little pushing, I got an honorable discharge. I always did like California. How about you?"

"It'll be a year next month. I was living in Italy for a few years, but I missed this place."

"Italy? Wow."

"Heh. It's a long story."

"Yeah, heard about Sunnydale. You guys really took out the Hellmouth?"

"Well, one of them," Willow said with a smile. "It's nice to know we did a little good."

"How's the rest of the gang?"

"They're great, last I heard, anyway. Xander's in Africa, feels like forever since I saw him last. He really seems to love it over there. Buffy and Dawn are in Rome with Giles, taking care of all the slaying business."

"And you in America, all by your lonesome."

"It's not too bad. I've made a few friends, and we talk about stupid stuff rather than demons and apocalypses. It's nice to be able to talk Friends finale and Cosmopolitan without impending doom hanging over your head."

"Know the feeling."

"Do you still talk to your Initiative friends?"

"Not so much. Graham calls to check in every few months, see if I'm still breathing. And I got a letter from Martin a few weeks back. It's nice to hear from them, but all in all, it's a pretty quiet life."

Leaning in conspiratorially, Willow said, "Quiet is fun, isn't it?"

"Good god, yes!"

They finished their coffee, and Riley offered to walk Willow back to her apartment. They made small talk on the way, and when they finally reached her building, Riley asked, "What are you doing tomorrow?"

"Hmm. It's my day off. I wasn't planning much more than pajamas and daytime television."

"I was hoping maybe you'd like to do something with me. I don't have any plans..."

"I'd like that."

"Great! So I'll come get you around 9:00?"

"Make it 10:00. I like to sleep in."

"Alright. See you then."

Willow gave him a quick hug, then disappeared inside.

Willow awoke to knocking at her front door, and she groaned. She'd overslept.

Pulling on her robe, she ran a hand through her hair and went to open the door.

Riley stood there, a paper bag in one hand and a yellow daisy in the other.

"Overslept, huh?"

"Little bit."

Raising the bag, he offered, "Breakfast?"

"Wonderful. Come on in, and let me get ready."

"No rush."

Willow walked into her bedroom and grabbed a blouse and jeans from her closet. Walking to the bathroom, she spotted Riley looking hopelessly through her cabinets.

"Plates are above the stove," she called.

"Thank you!"

When she came back into the kitchen, dressed and fresh faced, Riley had the table set, and bagels laid out.

"Ah, you found my vice," she said, grinning.

Sitting down, she took a sip of her orange juice and asked, "So, any ideas of what we're going to do today?"

"I hadn't really thought about it. I figured we'd play it by ear. I've got my car, so we can either walk or drive, see the sights. Unless you had any ideas?"

"I was thinking, have you ever been to Graumen's Chinese Theater?" Willow asked, taking a bite of her bagel.

"The place with all the celebrity handprints and stuff?"

"Yeah. I've always wanted to go there, but I didn't want to go alone."

"That sounds like a lot of fun. And it's in the center of everything, so we can just go from there."

"Good plan," Willow said, smiling as she grabbed another bagel.

"Glad I thought of it."

"This is very alarming."

"It's not that bad."

"Not that bad? I share a footsize with Arnold Schwarzeneggar!

"Yeah, but your hands are much smaller."

"Not comforting!"

"Well, he had really small feet for such a manly man."

Willow glared up at him, and he grinned.

"Ice cream?"

Still glaring, but fighting a smile, she huffed, "I suppose."

They entered the cool ice cream parlor, and walked up to the counter. Riley ordered a cup of vanilla, and Willow asked for a double scoop of mint chocolate chip in a sugar cone.

As they continued their walk, Willow laughed and said, "This feels so weird. I've been in this town for almost a year, and only now am I being tourist-y."

"Don't feel bad. The most I've seen is two blocks in every direction from my apartment building."

"Thank you," Willow said, smiling up at him.

"For what?"

"For inviting me out. I'm having such a great time, and it's all thanks to you."

"More than a pleasure. And I'm glad you're having fun. So am I."

As they passed a large water fountain, Willow felt Riley's hand envelop hers. Smiling down at her cone, she entwined her fingers with his.

Later that night, as they finished dinner and Riley gave the waiter his credit card, he looked at her for a moment before saying, "Okay, I have a question for you."

"Hit me."

"Is it possible for me to ask you if you'd like to come back to my place to watch a movie...without sounding like I'm trying to get you into bed?"

Willow choked on her water, and Riley chuckled.

"It's just...I never have anyone to watch movies with. When we were stationed in Japan, I found this great store that sold all these recent American movies for little to nothing, and I stocked up. I never watch them."

"Are we talking subtitles here?"

Laughing, he said, "The titles on the cases are in Japanese. The movies themselves are in English."

"Well, then, that does sound like fun."

Standing, he walked around the table and helped her out of her seat. As they left, it was Willow who reached out to clasp hands.

"Wow, this is a lot of movies."

"Told you," Riley called from the kitchen. "Do you want something to drink?"

"What ya got?"

"Milk, orange juice, water, beer, and iced tea."

"Iced tea sounds great."

Riley came back into the living room with two glasses, and Willow turned from the DVD holder.

"I can't even begin to decide. There's too many."

Kneeling next to her, Riley looked at the pile she'd already pulled out. Grabbing one, he said, "This has always been a favorite of mine."

"Mine, too. Although, I wouldn't peg you as the Moulin Rouge type."

Standing and turning away from her to put the movie in, he said, "Well, I've always had a thing for redheads."

Feeling her face flush bright red, Willow sipped her iced tea and smiled. She couldn't believe how one day could change the way she looked at him so dramatically.

Grabbing the remote, he asked, "Do you want a pair of shorts, or sweatpants?"

"No, I think I'm good."

"Okay. Just let me know."

Willow moved to the couch, and curled up in the corner. Riley went to the hall closet and grabbed two blankets, unfolding one and laying it over her before taking a seat on the other side of the couch.

They watched the movie in silence, and just around the time the unconscious Argentinean fell through the ceiling, she grinned sheepishly at Riley and said, "What were you saying about shorts?"

Smirking at her, he paused the movie and went down the hall to his bedroom, coming back with a pair of shorts and sweatpants.

"Take your pick. They'll be big on you, but the pants have a drawstring."

"Bathroom?"

"Down the hall, second on the left."

"Thanks."

Entering the bathroom and flicking on the light, Willow's eyes widened at the sight of his shower curtain.

"And that shower curtain came with the apartment!" he yelled from the living room.

Laughing, Willow shook her head and changed quickly into the shorts. They sat low on her hips, but her shirt was long enough to maintain decency.

Walking back into the living room, Willow smirked and said, "Nice ducks."

"I swear, it was there when I moved in."

Humming "Rubber Duckie," she sat back down on the couch, a little closer this time. Riley hit her playfully with a pillow, and she yelled in mock terror.

Laughing, he pulled her gently towards him, her back to his chest. Leaning her head back to rest on his neck, she sighed and reached around him to hit the play button.

As the movie progressed, their positions slowly shifted. By the time "Spectacular, Spectacular" hit the stage, Riley was laying with his head on the arm rest, and Willow was lying on her side, her head resting on his chest. They had pulled the blankets up, and Willow was unconsciously tracing lazy circles on the palm of his hand.

When the credits rolled, Riley hit stop and looked down at the sleeping redhead in his lap. He hated to wake her, but she had already said she had to go to work the next day.

"Willow," he murmured, shaking her gently. "Willow?"

She groaned and stretched, opening her eyes. Looking up at him, she laughed sheepishly and said, "Think I got too comfortable."

"Come on, I'll bring you home."

Standing up and stretching again, she looked down and said, "I'd better change."

"You can wear those home if you want. I don't mind."

"You're sure?"

"I'll get them back later."

They walked out to his Jeep, and he held the door open for her.

Still groggy from the short nap, Willow rested her head against his shoulder for the short drive.

Parking behind the building, he helped her out of the car and walked her to the front door of the complex.

"Thank you for spending time with me, Willow. I had such a good time."

"I did, too. Thank you for getting me out of my apartment."

"So, I'll call you tomorrow after you get off work?"

"Okay. I'll see you later."

She reached out to hug him again, and he squeezed her for a long while before leaning down and kissing her softly.

Pulling back, he watched her open her eyes slowly, and smile up at him.

"See you tomorrow," he said softly.

"Bye," she murmured, disappearing into her apartment building.

end