Fools for Love, by DoofusPrime
Notes - Hey everybody. This story's title is a joking reference to the season 5 episode 'Fool for Love', but it is set during season 4 of Buffy, soon after Faith switched bodies with Buffy and ran off to LA. That's just the background setting though, and it's mentioned in the story - no specific knowledge is needed to read. This is the first of three chapters.
Spring was in the air, and despite all the things weighing on his mind, Xander Harris was in a good mood and wanted to keep it that way. He whistled a jaunty tune which floated through the trees and mixed with the chirping of birds. Flowers bloomed, warm breezes blew, and college coeds threw frisbees back and forth on sun-drenched fields as Xander cut his way through the UC Sunnydale campus on his way to Giles' house. A Scooby Meeting had been called, and while he had been called in for a little construction work that morning, it wasn't a long shift. Now, he was free for the rest of the day.
Xander turned and waved at the sight of Buffy's boyfriend approaching him from a campus building.
"What's up, Riley?"
"Just got out of a class. We're all meeting at Giles' house, right?"
"I'm guessing not," said Xander. "It sounded like your regular 'hang out and bother the stuffy English guy' kind of deal. Nothing too major."
"Good to hear."
The two of them fell in step and walked together, enjoying the scenery as they cut through a recreational area dotted with trees and benches. Giles had given Xander a call about the meeting earlier, about the same time he got off work. Calls for meetings weren't unusual, and Giles didn't sound alarmed, so Xander wasn't expecting much. His best guess was that they would be going over any updates about Faith, which – as far as he knew – were nonexistent. But at the same time, he knew he wasn't the only one who had been feeling antsy ever since Faith took Buffy's body and then made a run for it when she switched back, disappearing without a trace.
Xander was actually looking forward to the meeting. It was always nice to talk to his friends, especially when they had been getting so caught up in the college life lately. Even more than that, however, today was a special day. The month of April had begun, and Xander was looking forward to catching Anya at the meeting. He had even asked Giles if she would be there, just to make sure it was worth taking his present along instead of leaving it at his house for later.
"So what's in the box?" asked Riley, pointing at the package in Xander's hands. He pulled it a little tighter to himself, not wanting to give his surprise away.
"Nothing. Just a box. A box I'm carrying around for Anya."
"Like a present?"
Xander looked around to make sure no one was eavesdropping – particularly Anya. The only people nearby were a couple of girls who only seemed interested in sunbathing. Xander also found their sunbathing very interesting, but he remembered Riley had asked him a question and tore his gaze reluctantly away. "It's something I picked up after I got off work this morning. Sort of an April Fool's joke," he admitted. "But keep it quiet, okay?"
"Uh oh," laughed Riley. "Playing a joke on the girlfriend, huh?"
"What can I say, I'm a jokester."
"You guys make a cute couple."
"Uh, thanks," said Xander. From the sound of his compliment, Xander got the impression that Riley was trying to find a charitable way to describe his relationship with Anya. He had to admit it probably seemed strange to others. It was strange enough to him, after all.
The two of them grew quiet as they left the campus grounds and took the sidewalk along a road which eventually led into the suburban Sunnydale neighborhood where Giles lived. Xander remembered when he first came to the Watcher's house; it had been strange to realize that a Sunnydale High School librarian had a life outside of school. Or any of his other teachers, for that matter.
Xander reminded himself that he and Giles were actually in a similar boat. Now that the high school had been blown sky high, Giles probably felt as out of place as Xander did. The man sure had a lot of time to research demons and ancient magics in his bachelor pad now that he wasn't tied up in library duties, after all. Sometimes he wondered what Giles did with all that free time. Now that he thought about it, maybe it wasn't really even a bachelor pad. Seeing Giles with that smoking hot girlfriend a while ago had definitely raised some questions. Xander frowned as his mind began going to a very bad place, but fortunately, Riley broke the silence.
"Hey Xander," he said, "has, uh – has Buffy said anything to you lately? I mean, about us?"
"You and the Buffster? Not that I can think of, nah. But it's not like I get the chance to talk to her anymore as much as Willow does, what with their fancy college lifestyle and all. Why do you ask?"
Riley frowned and fell silent, as if considering how to put something delicately. As Xander waited for an answer, he began to wonder if he had just unwittingly plunged himself into an awkward relationship conversation. His fears were confirmed when Riley finally spoke up.
"Things have been a little weird between us the last couple of days, ever since Faith was in her body. Let's just say that, uh – well, let's just say Faith and I got into an awkward situation, and Buffy's been kind of avoiding me ever since I told her about it. I'm just worried I might have messed things up, you know?"
Although Riley wasn't spelling out exactly what happened, the emphasis he placed on the phrase 'awkward situation' told Xander everything he needed to know. His head-over-heels crush on Buffy was a thing of the past, but Xander still felt a little awkward when he got into anything related to Buffy's love life, even if Riley seemed like a nice guy. But then, he could sympathize. Apparently Faith had a knack for getting people into 'awkward situations'. He knew that from personal experience.
"Here's the deal," said Xander as he gave Riley a pat on the back, which got a confused look in return. "First of all, you didn't mess anything up. You didn't realize it was Faith in Buffy's body and not Buffy, so it's Faith's fault. That girl's a tricky one, take my word for it. Second of all, I think it's pretty natural for a situation like that to make things weird for a little while. Not to mention that Buffy has a bit of a checkered past with the guys. She's probably just a little skittish, you know? Doesn't want to be hurt again."
"Well, I definitely don't want to hurt her."
The way Riley said it was almost comically earnest, but at the same time, Xander couldn't help but believe him. "You guys'll be fine," he said. "Just give it a couple days and she'll come around. I mean, look, Riley – you're a step up from her last real boyfriend, believe me."
Xander was about to explain, but stopped himself as he realized Buffy might not be happy with him if he spilled too many details of her past relationship with Angel to an unknowing Riley. He wasn't sure just how much the two of them had shared with each other so far. Maybe it was better to stay quiet on the subject of Buffy's exes.
"Let's just say that it's nice to see her with someone who isn't Jekyll and Hyde."
Riley smiled at Xander's joke. "So, a total monster, huh? At least she wasn't dating a vampire."
The two of them laughed uproariously, although Xander's laughter was tinged with nervousness. Fortunately, after Riley's amusement died down, he didn't seem to be interested in pursuing the topic much more. Xander breathed a sigh of relief. He was happy to give Buffy's boyfriend some reassurance, but sometimes he wished he could get himself to shut up before he said too much.
Fortunately, it would only be a few minutes until they reached Giles' house. Buffy and Riley might be having their rough patch, but Xander had definitely been warming up to Anya, and he was looking forward to seeing her. She'd definitely get a kick out of his April Fool's joke.
Notes - That's it for the first chapter. I have a couple of Angel stories up already, but this is my first story for Buffy. Hope you guys enjoyed it, and any reviews are appreciated! It looks like I got this thing up with 40 minutes to go on April Fool's Day, haha. Whew.