When All Is Lost
RATING: PG
DISCLAIMER: All the characters in the following story belong to Joss Whedon and co.

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Riley Finn stood in the empty street of Sunnydale, California and watched as the sun set against the trees and buildings. It faded from blue, to a brilliant pink and then into a deep purple as he stood there. He stood in the same place until the sun had completely disappeared from the sky, leaving a starless night behind. The stars hadn't been seen since it had happened, not by him.

He always thought that when the world ended, it would take him by storm. A nuclear war perhaps, wiping him and all other humans off the earth and into oblivion. He thought that the end of the world would come as a surprise and that he'd never feel a thing. Riley could have never even imagined the pain he'd feel when the world ended. When everything around him was sucked into hell and he was left alone, the one man standing, the sole survivor.

The night took over, leaving Riley cast in darkness. He carried a stake under his coat, because the vampires were the only things that survived. He knew they were hungry, they didn't have any humans to feed on and they would smell him. As strange as it felt now, Riley would welcome death, but still knew he'd fight until the end. He wouldn't go down without a fierce battle, a battle that would help ease the pain. If only just a little.

His shoes thumped against the concrete with a dull sound that echoed against the now empty buildings and schools. For Sunnydale, and for the rest of the world, all the horror had ended.

As Riley walked, his hand on the stake inside his jacket, he flashed back to the night that started it all. The night over three years earlier.


* * * *
"You're kidding, right?" Buffy Summers turned toward him, her hair flying around her head in a swirl of blonde.

Riley bit his lip and shook his head. "No, I'm not kidding. The Initiative . . . it's far more powerful than either of us ever suspected."

Buffy sighed and took a seat across from Riley in his dorm room. "So what you're saying is that the Initiative developed a virus to wipe out all the demons and vampires of the world and it backfired?"

"That's what I'm saying. You have to believe me Buffy, I had no idea that this was going on inside our walls. And when the government shut down the Initiative, they had to transport it. Their system obviously wasn't as foolproof as they thought it was."

"So now some wacko has a virus that could wipe out the entire world with the exception of vampires?" She asked. "This is horrible."

Riley nodded his agreement. "This is more than horrible Buffy. Because that wacko isn't going to wait very long before letting this out into the world. We don't have much time."

Buffy looked up at him, her green eyes wide and full of fear. "Time for what?"

Riley's own green eyes settled on hers, and when she saw them, they held a grim reality she never wanted to face. "Time to hide." He answered.


* * * *
Since that night, the person who had hijacked the virus, not only let it go, but distributed it to every part of the world that he possibly could. Now, the entire population of the world lay dead in their homes and work places. Riley Finn was the only one left and he didn't understand why.

Instead of questioning his fate, like he had done for nearly a year, Riley now wandered the town from dawn until dusk, then set out toward Buffy's home at 1630 Revello Drive. He opened the door without needing to turn the lock and wearily climbed the stairs.

Riley would then turn to the bathroom and run a shower, he still waited for the day when the water would no longer work and he'd have to go to the lake to bathe in. After his shower he would go into Buffy's bedroom and stare at it for a long moment. Then he'd turn back the covers and crawl into her bed, cradling her stuffed pig, Mr. Gordo to his chest. He'd stare at the framed picture of Buffy, Willow and Xander by her bedside and he'd remember all that they had together. He'd think about all they could have had.

Some nights passed without sleep, others he'd fall asleep so quickly that he wouldn't even remember lying down. But not one night passed without a thought about Buffy. Not one night would pass when Riley didn't think of how he lost her.


* * * *
"We have to hide!" Riley yelled at her and grabbed her arm. He tried to pull her toward the basement of his fraternity house where he knew the Initiative laboratories still lay. They hadn't been filled in with cement, he'd gone to look many times and Riley figured with the coming Armageddon, the government wasn't exactly going to have time.

Buffy wrenched her arm from his. "Hiding is not going to do anything Riley! I have to find Willow and Xander. And Giles!" Buffy whirled around, her eyes wide and her face filled with fear. "What about my mother? Oh God, mom?" She called, staring down the street. "Mom? Riley, we have to save them. Spike, Anya, Tara. I'm not letting them die. What about Oz? He could be anywhere right now."

"Buffy, the safest thing for us to do is hide." He spoke softly, trying to reason with her. He knew the way the virus moved and at the moment it was moving quickly through Sunnydale, coming closer and closer. Their friends and family were already dead.

"Come inside." He pleaded, standing at the top of the stairs.

Buffy shook her head. "I have to get to them."

"You'll die Buffy!" Riley yelled. "They're all dead already and you'll be next."

Tears filled her eyes. "Don't tell me they're dead. Don't lie to me Riley Finn! I can see it in your eyes."

In the distance, Riley could feel it coming. "It's getting closer Buffy. Please just come inside. We'll go look for them when it's over."

In one sudden moment, just when it looked like Buffy was going to consider following him into the underground labs, a rush of air flew past them both. The door Riley held open slammed shut, locking him in the dark, not knowing what had happened to Buffy. Another rush pounded against the door when he tried to open it and Riley was thrown backward, down the stairs.

How long he lay at the bottom he didn't know. But when the sounds of the screaming and the rushing wind finally stopped, he slowly got to his feet. Another hour may have passed before he placed his foot on the first stair, then the second. Finally he reached the top and strained to push open the door.

The latch had broken in the rush of the virus and was nearly impossible to open. He slammed his shoulder into it until the skin was raw, and only then did the door pop open.

Buffy was gone. There was no evidence that she had ever stood there as Riley stepped out. The virus had come and gone, eating through the only woman he'd ever loved. He had no proof that she even existed.

He stumbled out, looking around and hoping to find some kind of life form. But there was nothing.

In one instant, Sunnydale had become a ghost town.

As he walked, Riley's toe nudged something in the grass. When he bent down to pick it up, he found it was a stake. Mr. Pointy, he remembered Buffy affectionately calling it. He'd never known the origin of the name, or its original owner and now he'd never hear Buffy's voice telling him where it came from.

Riley tucked the stake inside his jacket. The place that had been its home ever since.


* * * *
When Buffy's alarm went off, Riley rolled over in the bed, tossing the pig aside and hitting the button on the clock radio. He stared at the ceiling for a long moment as the sun cam up, its ray stretching over the room and making it light. He knew the vampires that had been at the doors during the night were now gone. The only ones who could get inside, if they wanted to, would have been Angel and Spike. But Riley had no idea where they were, or if they were even alive.

Finally, he rolled out of the bed and sat on the edge of it, running his fingers through his messy hair. Standing up, Riley stretched and yawned, then pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. Then he walked downstairs and fixed something for himself to eat. Most of the food in town had been enough for him over the last three years. Nothing had gone bad, no one had, had the time to unplug their refrigerators.

When he had finished the regular routine of each morning, a routine he'd always had, which included his push ups and sit ups, he headed outside into the beautiful day and began his other routine.

The town was deserted and completely silent, that was something Riley never got over. For the most part, the animals had lived through the virus and sometimes birds still chirped and sang, but not very often.

Riley turned onto Main Street and began his walk down there. Half way down the street he stopped, his ears picking out a sound that he hadn't heard in years. At first, Riley couldn't tell what it was, it had been that long since he'd heard it. Then, after standing still and listening for a long moment, a look of realization dawned on his face. What he was hearing was a human voice.

It was impossible. There was no way in the world he could be hearing what he thought he was. Everyone had died. Riley hadn't seen anyone for three years and now suddenly someone just showed up? It was utterly impossible.

"Hello?" Riley called, trying to pinpoint the direction the voice was coming from. *I'm going crazy.* He thought. *That's it. I'm just going crazy and I'm imagining things.*

The voice silenced the minute he spoke and Riley shook his head in exasperation. There was no way he could be hearing a voice. It was like a mirage and that was the only explanation for it. He shrugged and continued on his way down the street, ignoring the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that there was something he should be paying attention to. Something he should find.


* * * *
On his way back to Buffy's house that night, Riley tried to be as quiet as possible, hoping to hear the voice again, but he had no luck. Whatever or whoever had been talking that morning was now gone. And with them, went any hope Riley had of a future. He knew now that he'd missed his only chance and that his life would consist of the same thing every day until he died of natural causes or a vampire killed him. He had a feeling that the latter was the most probable death.

He was listening so hard for the voice that he didn't hear the footsteps behind him and wasn't ready for the attack that followed. Hands slammed down on his shoulders and lifted him off the ground, slamming him hard against a building beside him.

Riley cringed and dropped to the ground, his hand on the stake inside his coat. The vampire behind him grinned and waggled its finger.

"No, no, little boy. Mustn't play with your stake."

Riley turned and saw the female vampire behind him. She was tall and slim, clad in a red velvet dress. Her long, dark hair shimmered in the moonlight and her green eyes were large and evil.

"Mummy wants to play with the little boy." She murmured, bending down and trailing a long red fingernail down his face. "I'd come to Sunnydale to see if the Slayer was really dead and it turns out that she is. You're the only human I found in this place. Not even my Spike is alive any more."

Riley frowned as she spoke about Spike. "You knew the vampire." He stated.

She smiled, obviously pleased. "I did. He was a bad daddy, you know. He wanted to be a bad boy, but then he turned good on me."

Riley had to admit to himself that the vampire standing before him was ghostly beautiful in the moonlight.

A frown marred her pretty features as she talked about Spike. "He played good boy for Buffy and friends. Wanted to hurt others like ourselves." She turned her eyes to Riley again. "Did you know it's wrong to kill one of your kind?"

A nervous smile made its way to Riley's face. "Uhh, n-no, I didn't know that. Sorry."

The vampire bit her tongue and wiggled it between her teeth at Riley. "No, you couldn't have. Not when you're a mortal like all the others."

"Others?" Riley sat up a little straighter. "There are no others. They're all dead."

She grinned, then raked her nails a little harder on his skin. "They're not dead yet. But when I get to them, they will be." She stood up and spun in a circle, her overcoat twirling out around her.

As she danced in the street, Riley slowly got to his feet with his back pressed against the wall.

She stopped spinning immediately and looked at him. "Don't you know who I am little boy?"

Riley shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't."

A smile made its way to her face. "You would be afraid if you knew. I'm Drusilla. I'm the princess." Drusilla advanced on Riley and took his face in her hands. "You're a pretty thing, you have such beautiful eyes. I'd like to gouge them out and eat them."

"There are others?" Riley asked, ignoring her threats.

Drusilla looked surprised. "Other mortals? Yes. Not many, but they're there." She licked her lips. "Some were immune. They're the most tasty. I love eating them. You'll make for a good meal."

Riley struggled to get away from the mad vampire, but she held his face tight, her finger nails digging into his skin.

"Let me go!" He demanded, grabbing her shoulders and pushing her away. Drusilla stumbled backward, her heel catching the back of her dress and ripping a hole in the hem.

"You!" She turned toward her, her eyes suddenly a golden yellow and long fangs gleaming in the moonlight. "You made me rip my dress." Drusilla took the hem up in her hands and examined the tear. "It was my last dress and you ruined it."

She flew at him, her nails aimed for his eyes. Riley caught her arms in his hands but it became painfully obvious that he was no match for the powerful vampire. She tore her arms out of his grasp and wrapped her hands around his throat, strangling the breath out of him.

Riley's hand clawed at her, trying to rip them away, needing the air she was refusing him. Only when the everything began to go black and he collapsed to the street with Drusilla finally let go.

He hitched in a breath of air, but was now too weak to fight her off. Riley lay still as Drusilla leaned in to bite him. His breath hitched as she began to drink his blood and he weakly tried to fight her off unsuccessfully.

She was there one moment and the next she was gone. Riley fell back against the building behind him and lay there, listening to the sounds of the fight going on in front of him. The fight he couldn't see. He just knew that someone was fighting the vampire, but couldn't see who it was. It could be another vampire wanting the meal, but for some reason Riley knew that wasn't the truth. There was someone else out there. Someone who took it upon themselves to save him.

The sounds of the fight continued as Riley tried to get to his feet, his vision was still blurred, but he caught sight of the vampire going down. Then the blurred action of someone's arm arcing downward and then, the fight was over.

Silence took over the night once more as Riley shook his head and rubbed his eyes. His back scraped against the building, holding him up. Finally, when he felt that he could see well enough, Riley stared up at the person who had saved him. He could have never prepared for what he saw.

"Riley?" She stepped forward, her face as confused as his. She held a stake in her right hand and was dressed in jeans and a black sweater. He suddenly knew why all Buffy's clothes were gone from her dresser and closet.

"Oh my God." He murmured, before collapsing to his knees and placing his hands flat against the concrete.

"Riley." She said again, moving forward and holding his right arm, pulling him up. "Riley, it's okay. It's fine."

His head swam at he stared at her. Her blonde hair was longer, obviously she hadn't found the scissors to give herself a haircut like he had, but the rest of her remained painfully the same. It was like looking at the Buffy he had lost three years ago.

"This is impossible." He muttered, still staring at her. "You're dead."

She shook her head. "I'm not dead Riley. God, I can't believe it's really you. I thought you were dead."

"But Buffy," he paused and stared at her, then swallowed and continued, "I tried to save you. Tried to get you to hide with me and when the virus washed over us, you were gone. You just disappeared."

"I was knocked off my feet." She admitted. "Blown far away from where you'd been. When I went back to the spot the door was yanked out of the frame and you were gone. I assumed you'd died. So I went back to my house and took my clothes. Then I went to Giles', there was no one there either."

"Where have you been?" He asked.

Buffy shrugged. "All over. I'm not really sure anymore. I walked some of the way, drove most of it. Only four days ago, I decided to come back here."

"Why?" Riley shook his head. "Why not, after all this time?"

"I don't know." She said. "I just had this feeling I had to go home. And now I know why."

"You killed Drusilla." He stated.

She nodded. "I had to. She would have killed you." A sad smile graced Buffy's face as she talked, "Most of the vampire race is dying out. There are very few left, they have nothing left to eat."

"Spike?" He asked. "Angel? What about your friends in Los Angeles?"

She smiled again. "Spike died a few months after. We couldn't find anything for him to eat. After his death I travelled to Los Angeles. Angel was still alive, so was Wesley. Cordelia hadn't been so lucky."

"Are they still?" He asked.

Buffy glanced down and shook her head sadly. "I went back there and there was nothing left. Dust, which I assume was Angel and nothing. I searched the city for them and couldn't find anything."

"I'm sorry." Riley said. "I really am."

Buffy looked at him. "Where have you been staying?"

He smiled. "Your house. I just didn't know where else to go. I felt so . . . so broken after you died." He paused and corrected himself, "After I thought you'd died. Your house was the only place I felt close to you again."

Buffy nodded sadly, then held out a hand toward him. "I think we should go Riley."

He frowned at her hand and looked up. "Go where? There's nothing left of our world Buffy. And it's not like we could repopulate it."

She laughed and shook her head. "No, I don't think that would work. But there is a world out there. We're not the only ones that are immune. There were others and they've had three years, they could have rebuilt the world easily."

"The world?" Riley asked. "I highly doubt it."

Buffy smiled. "Well, not the whole world. But they've probably gotten a pretty good start. I think that if we travel, we'll find someone sooner or later."

He paused for a long moment, then nodded. "Yeah, I think we will. Drusilla said there were others."

Buffy looked surprised. "She did?"

He nodded again. "She said there were others and that they wouldn't be dead until she got to them."

Buffy held out her hand again. "Then we'll find them."

Riley took her hand and began to walk away with her. He nodded, "We will."

After walking a few blocks in silence, Riley let go of her hand and reached into his jacket. "I believe this is yours." He said, pulling out the stake.

"Mr. Pointy." Buffy said happily, taking it from him.

"Buffy?" He asked.

"Yeah?"

"Will you tell me the story?"

She glanced up at him in confusion. "The story of what?"

"Of Mr. Pointy. Of where he came from, where he got the name." Riley stopped walking and looked at Buffy. "For three years the only thing I've wanted to hear was your voice, telling me the past of the stake." He leaned down and gently kissed her forehead. "Please help me. Tell me."

Buffy smiled and nodded. "He came from another Slayer." She began. "Her name was Kendra. Now there was an interesting girl . . ."

Riley smiled and nodded as the Slayer told him the story of the stake. He'd dreamed of that voice for three long years and now it was finally speaking to him again. Finally speaking out loud for his longing ears to hear. After hearing nothing but silence for so long, Riley craved Buffy's voice, the voice he recognized and knew he'd never forget. For she had never stopped speaking to him. On the inside, she'd always been there.


The End