TITLE: Never Again, or, There's More Than One Way To Skin A Jerk
AUTHOR: Lex, paranoid alarmist
PHONE: 1-800-CALL-FPB (kidding, just kidding)
CONTENT: Sexual activity, blood play, and EXTREME, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. I cannot stress the EXTREME, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE part enough. If this scars you for life, don't come crying to me. This makes my earlier fic, "A Woman's Remorse" look like child's play.
DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me, but I think Joss and Crew would be a little too afraid of me to claim them after this. <WEG>
NOTE: This is a first for me. I've never before written a fic with a character that has yet to be cast. But, needless to say, I'm disturbed by his rumored existence, so I had to do this. This is in response to rumors of a casting call for a 'Riley Finn', who is proported to be Buffy's Season 4 love interest. Joss says he has complete confidence in his ability to make us love this character. <snort> Yeah. Um, Joss? I'm a bit harder to win over than the average broad.
So, as per usual, I worked my character rage issues out through fic.
As the Dingoes pounded out their one slow song, Buffy tightened her grip on Riley's waist. The Bronze was packed, and it seemed like everyone in Sunnydale was jammed on the dance floor.
"What's up, Buffy? You're really tense." His low voice broke into her thoughts.
Buffy looked up into his sparkling eyes. "Uh, nothing. Just tired." She smiled wanly at him.
He looked concerned, his right hand brushing her cheek. "Haven't you been sleeping well?"
"I'm fine," she insisted, willing him silently to let it go. She couldn't very well tell him that the reason she was exhausted was because she *didn't* sleep, because her nighttime hours were spent stalking the undead.
Abruptly, he said, "Let's get out of here. Maybe take a walk? You look like you could use the fresh air."
//Oh, *just* what I want to do. Groan.// She shrugged. "'Kay." She took him by the hand and dragged him back to the table where Willow and Xander were sitting. "We're off. I'll talk to you guys later."
Willow smiled at them. "Have a nice...uh...a nice...whatever it is that you're going to have."
Xander narrowed his eyes. "But not too nice."
Buffy's lips twitched. "We'll try."
Riley waved. "Bye."
Willow waved back, while Xander just snarled, a snarl that turned into a gasp as Willow elbowed him in the ribs.
After Buffy and Riley had left, Willow turned to him. "What is wrong with you?"
"Don't give me that look. You know what I'm talking about. I don't want to hear it from you. You are so mean to Riley!"
"I'm not mean! I'm perfectly civil to him!"
"Oh, please. I thought maybe, just maybe, you were finally over Buffy."
Willow rolled her eyes. "Riiiiight."
"No, I am. I'm just wigged by how fast she's going. First it's 'Angel left, I'm going to mope myself to death', now it's 'I have a boyfriend, yay me!'. What about Dead Boy? What happened to immortal love?"
"Are you actually jealous on Angel's behalf?" Willow asked, incredulous. She stared at her best friend. "You are!"
Xander looked horrified for a moment, desperately trying to feel some of the hatred that he usually felt at the mention of Angel's name. Nothing. "She's just going WAY too fast. That's all. I don't want to talk about it."
Willow just looked at him in amazement.
Riley strolled down the street, his arm draped carelessly over Buffy's shoulders. "So, is your mother home?"
"No, she's at a convention in Manhattan."
"Oh, I don't know...I just thought we could spend some quality time together." He winked at her, and her heart sank.
She hoped he didn't mean what she thought he meant. But she kept silent until they reached her house. She was *so* not ready for anything, but she didn't know how to tell him without sounding like a nutcase.
He followed her inside, and she set him up in the living room, with HBO blaring on the tv. Buffy got them both drinks and joined him on the couch, sitting on the opposite side from him. She was perfectly comfortable with that amount of closeness, but Riley had other ideas.
Throughout the movie, he kept inching closer and closer to her, until she was pressed against the arm of the couch. By the time the movie ended, she was nearly draped over the arm, trying to give herself room to breathe. "Um, Riley? Needing air here."
Riley grinned charmingly. "I'll make you forget you have to breathe."
//Good luck, buster.//
His lips met hers softly, caressing gently.
She froze. What should she do? His mouth was insistent, slanting over hers, tongue teasing her lips, trying to incite a response from her still body.
With some surprise, she realized that it felt good. She moaned slightly, arching towards him. His hands shifted on her back until they were hovering just above her ass.
"Riley..." she sighed, the pleasure swamping her. It had been so long since she had felt this way, since Angel --
The thought of Angel immediately dampened her ardor, a cold wave flooding her. What was she doing, letting this guy touch her? What was wrong with her?
Her hands braced themselves on his chest as she called his name again. "Riley," she said, her voice devoid of passion, "Riley, stop."
He looked at her confusedly. "Stop," he echoed, "What do you mean, stop?"
"I said, stop. This is too fast for me."
"Too fast? I never pegged you for a tease, Buffy."
"I'm not a tease! I just want to slow down!"
"I don't think so. I've heard about you, about that man you went with when you were in high school. I bet you didn't tease him."
Rage flooded her. "Don't you say anything about Angel!"
"Angel," he mocked, "So that's who Angel is. Where is he now? Did he find someone else, someone better at this than you are?"
His harsh words tore at Buffy's already bruised heart. "Riley, shut up!"
"You've been promising me this all night, and I'm going to have it."
His lips descended on hers again, cutting off her protest, but before she could move to throw him off of her, his weight was gone from her body.
Dazed, she looked up, only to see Angel dangling Riley by the collar of his shirt.
"Boy," Angel snarled, "I believe she said no."
"Who the fuck are you?" Riley shouted, struggling against the strength of Angel's hold.
"What, you're back for another piece of that ass? Well, she's mine now."
Angel snickered. "You could think that...but you'd be wrong. She'll always be mine. Right, baby?
"Angel," she whispered, shocked into near speechlessness by his presence.
Riley cursed again, and Angel cuffed him on the side of his head. "Watch your mouth around the lady."
"Her? She's just a tramp --"
His epithets were cut off as his face met up with Angel's fist. Then Angel dropped the unconscious boy to the ground. "You should learn when to shut up, kid."
He stepped over the boy's body, and crouched down next to Buffy, running a gentle hand through her hair. "Are you all right, baby?" he said, the concern evident in his voice.
She nodded as her eyes drank in the sight of him. "Why are you here?" she said as she asked the only question running through her mind.
"I can't stay away. I tried. But I can't."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "I don't want you to stay away. I want you to stay with me. I don't want you to leave me ever again."
As he leaned his forehead against hers, he whispered, "I know.
Their eyes met, and neither one was strong enough to resist the temptation shining so clearly there. Their mouths touched, and suddenly, his arms were around her, and she was clinging to him for dear life.
Her thoughts were jumbling together in her mind. She knew they should be careful...but he felt so good, and it had been forever since he had touched her. Riley's kiss had only been a poor imitation of this. No one would ever make her feel this way but him, her lover, her beloved.
She moaned into his mouth, and then her skirt was around her hips and her panties were gone, and his knuckles were rubbing against her swollen flesh as he fumbled with the zipper on his pants.
Faster than she could think, he was inside of her, pushing deep within her, to where only he belonged. Her legs clenched around his waist, drawing him deeper, to the dark cavern that ached for him. Her head fell back, baring her throat.
"Angel..." she breathed, her eyes wet, her heart full.
His eyes were moist as well, and he kissed the big pulse in her throat as he whispered, "I love you."
Tremulously, she smiled at him, and caught his lips again, coaxing his tongue to play with hers. As her agile tongue caressed one of his fangs, he snarled and hooked his forearms beneath her knees, drawing her legs high and wide, making more room for himself within the haven of her body.
As she felt the deeper penetration, something inside her drew taut and released, sending her into orgasm. She clenched around him, screaming out her pleasure. Her husky voice ringing in his ears, he lunged forward, his teeth tearing the fragile skin of her throat.
As her blood nourished him, she crooned his name, her hands running up and down his back. "I love you so much," she whispered, holding him tight.
It was at that moment that Angel's iron control slipped, and he allowed a ray of pure, unadulterated bliss to flood his heart. He came violently, urgently, and slumped onto her, allowing her to support all his weight, as he basked in the warmth of her love.
Their love was a beautiful thing, the most beautiful thing that had ever happened to him.
Angelus thought so too.
In that instant when Angel had relaxed his vigilance, Angelus took advantage and slipped through, taking control of their body.
As he came down off the incredible high of being held within the tight clasp of her body once again, Angelus opened his eyes, looking down into Buffy's flushed face. The heart he would have denied having twinged at the sight of her. Of all the things he had begrudged Angel, she was at the top of the list. She was his! His to beat, his to terrorize, his to fuck, his to love. Love?
He shifted in her arms, and she moaned his name.
Right then Riley Finn made the second worst choice he had ever made. The first, of course, had been daring to speak to Buffy in the first place, but the second...good lord, the second was alerting Angelus to his presence. "So that's why you wouldn't fuck me, you slut."
It was trite, and cliche, but Angelus saw red. He leapt off the couch, growling wildly, and pinned Riley to the floor.
"What_did_you_call_her?" he rasped around a mouthful of fangs.
Confronted with the rabid vampire in front of him, Riley was understandably silent.
As he stared into Riley's face, Angel's memories meshed with his own, and recognition dawned. "You're the one that dared to touch what is mine!"
Riley stuttered out a denial, but Angelus was already lifting the boy off the ground.
"Angel, what are you -- " She broke off as she saw Angel's wicked smirk. He had only ever had that smirk on his face when he was... "Angelus?" she whispered, praying the whole time that she was wrong.
She closed her eyes as sickness welled inside of her.
"What to do, what to do. I do so love to torture, but this is the first time that I've ever tortured someone as stupid as you. To think that you could touch my woman...how stupid *are* you?" Angelus had Riley draped over the butcher block in the kitchen, taunting the boy.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Riley begged, trying to squirm away from Angelus. Angelus was having none of that, so he yanked a knife from the drain board and pinned Riley's wrist to the wood beneath with a quick stabbing motion.
Riley howled as the pain of the knife slicing through flesh and bone hit him.
"Angel, please!" Buffy said, near tears. Riley was a jerk, true, but he didn't deserve what Angelus was going to do to him.
Angelus whirled around. "Shut up and stand right there," he hissed. "I haven't forgotten that you allowed him to touch you in the first place. You'll be punished for that."
She swallowed hard, but she didn't protest, because a part of her knew she deserved it. And another part, a tiny part that she tried to squelch, wanted the punishment.
"Now, do I skin you, boy? Or do I cut off your cock and make you eat it? Decisions, decisions."
At the look of terror on Riley's face, Angelus grinned. "Skinning. Definitely skinning."
Buffy moaned low in her throat.
"And don't you go anywhere," he said to her, "You are going to hold him still. I wouldn't want to mess up his hide."
Riley had just begun to comprehend what was about to happen to him, and he opened his mouth to scream, but Angelus saw that and quickly punched his teeth in, watching gleefully as bone grated against his hand, and blood flowed down the boy's face.
"Don't scream, boy. It will just annoy me more." With that, he ripped Riley's shirt off and shoved it down his throat, cutting off the pathetic screams trying to erupt.
As he carried Riley to the bathroom, he continued his commentary. "There have to be millions of women in the world, and you had to touch mine? But you'll pay for it. You'll pay."
Riley just whimpered.
Silently, Buffy followed him into the bathroom. He would have just come back for her anyway, and there was no point in making him even more angry. Part of her brain wondered why she was letting this happen, why she was letting Angelus win again, but the rest of her knew the answer to that.
It was all her fault.
She had tried to live a normal life, date a normal man, but she wasn't normal. She was already mated to her beloved demon, and that was it. She had no more free will where he was concerned. She was his, and they both knew it.
It was only a matter of proving it to herself.
Once she participated in this act, her fate was sealed. He would never leave her alone again, never leave her aching for him. He would stay with her until she died. She would never have to experience again the gut-wrenching agony of watching him walk away from her. Riley would have to die, true, but it was a small price to pay to keep her lover with her for always.
Riley was gagged and naked, crouching in the large tub in her bathroom. Angelus had a sharp knife of her mother's in his hand. He looked at her as she walked in. For a moment, his eyes softened, but as Riley squirmed, they hardened again. "Get in the tub," he directed, "And hold him. He's going to thrash around quite a bit, but you have to hold him still. I don't want his hide ruined."
She kicked off her shoes and stepped into the tub. She held Riley with one hand on his shoulder and the other on his waist. Dully, she looked at her lover. "This would be a lot less messy if we drained him first."
Angelus shook his head. "He has to be alive for it. Where's the punishment if I drained him?"
At their words, Riley began to struggle again.
Buffy shook him. "Stop it, Riley. It won't do any good and it will just make him mad."
Riley managed to spit the gag out of his mouth, and around his broken teeth, he whispered, "Why are you letting him do this?"
She refused to face him.
Angelus answered for him. "Because, boy, she's mine, and she knows it. She's my possession, my bitch, my slave, my goddess, my queen, and she always has been. And maybe, just maybe, if she's a good girl and helps me, I won't beat her quite as badly for betraying me."
"I didn't betray you," she said quietly. "I love you."
Reaching out for her, Angelus dragged her into his arms, his lips instantly mastering hers. With a soft sigh, she arched into his embrace, her hands letting go of Riley and snaking around Angelus' neck. He kissed her until she had no more breath left, and then backed off, turning his attention back to the intruder.
"That, boy, is what you can never have." Taking the tip of the knife, he dragged it over the flat of Riley's cheek.
The sight of Angelus' eyes at that moment and the cold steel touching his face were the last clear memories Riley Finn had in his life, because after that, everything coalesced into a haze of pain and blood.
With Riley gripped tightly in place by Buffy's inhuman strength, Angelus began peeling the flesh off the boy, careful not to tear the skin any more than he had to.
Riley screamed at first, low, hoarse, agonizing screams, but Buffy soon grew tired of the sounds and gagged him again, this time with a piece of his own shredded skin.
"Creative, baby, very creative," Angelus noted approvingly, pride shining from his eyes as he continued his work. Riley's blood was everywhere, coating the walls of the tub, as well as both Angelus and Buffy themselves.
Eventually, his blood seeped from him more sluggishly, no longer gushing out in a crimson spray. Shock had set in, and Riley was no longer putting up even a token protest.
"His heart is stopping," Angelus said, pausing for a moment. He was nearly done, with only a part of the boy's legs left to skin.
"Riley," he said, "Riley, look at me."
Riley didn't respond.
Angelus pried one of his eyes open. Only the whites were showing. "Damn. I waited too long."
Buffy dumped Riley in the tub, his exposed muscle tissue contrasting gruesomely with the light blue of the porcelain. "Could you please finish? This is going to be a bitch to clean up." She heard the heartless tone to her voice and cringed inside. Was this what Angelus had made her? Was this what she had become?
"You can't hurry genius."
She rolled her eyes. "Well, *genius*, if you want to explain to my mother why Riley Finn is lying skinned to death in my bathtub, that's your perogative."
He grumbled at her. "Spoil my fun." But he heeded her, speeding up the process.
After he was finished, he carefully rolled the hide, washing the excess blood from it. "Ah, a fine piece of work. The work of a master." He grinned, a baring of sharp teeth.
"What is that, a trophy?" she said snarkily, looking up from her task of dismembering Riley's corpse for disposal.
"You're awfully smart for a woman who is about to have her ass tanned."
She stared at him. "Go ahead. Beat me for my supposed infidelities. But I didn't do anything."
"You moaned his name," Angelus insisted stubbornly, wounded more than he would have cared to admit at the thought.
Looking up at him from underneath her lashes, she said, "Why don't you make me moan your name instead?"
His eyes blazed heat, and he was on top of her in a second. "Don't ever make me feel that way again, baby. Never again."
"Never again," she swore, surrendering to his embrace.
Her friends were amazingly accepting of her decision to move into the mansion with Angelus. That probably had something to do with his reformed behavior, she mused. He was acting much more stable. She was so proud of him.
And if he laughed a little too heartily when Willow commented on the new 'leather' rug in front of the fireplace, well, she could forgive him that.
She could forgive him anything.
God, it's great to be me.