Riley bumped the door open with his hip and set down the stack of files he'd carried from the car on top of the table in the front hall. He heard a familiar laugh and grinned, letting the sound lead him to the living room.
He expected Xander to be watching television, maybe catching up on the phone with Willow or Dawn. He usually got home before Riley, so hearing him as Riley walked in was no surprise.
The other occupant of the room, though, was a surprise.
"Sam?" he asked in disbelief.
"Riley!" She made as if to hug him, and then kind of clapped him against the back with one arm briefly before stepping away. It reminded him of the way his frat buddies or the men in his unit hugged each other.
"What are you --"
"I'm in town just a few days! I couldn't swing through and not check in on you, and when Xander here said I should stay until you got home --"
"Xander," Riley repeated, turning to look at Xander standing next to Sam.
"Hey," Xander said, an eyebrow arched.
"Hey," Riley answered in some confusion.
After hearing about the military business bringing Sam through the area, they set her up in the guest bedroom over her protests ("I can go back to the hotel! I mean, it's completely modern and soulless, but trust me, I'm looking to sleep my way through the experience,") and started in on dinner while she took a nap.
"Weird seeing her again?" Xander asked. He deftly sliced a green pepper into thin strips and slid it into the saucepan already holding sauteeing onions and mushrooms.
"Yeah. No. I don't know. Unexpected, definitely."
"I probably should have asked you before saying she should stay," Xander began.
"No, really. That's no problem. She's welcome here."
Riley took a loaf of bread from the freezer and wrapped it in foil, hitting the pre-heat on the oven with his back to Xander.
When he slid it into the oven and stood after closing the door, a warm hand touched the small of his back, pressing in a slow circular motion. Then Xander stepped away to finish the pasta sauce.
Dinner was a great success, with Sam exclaiming over having a home-cooked meal and regaling them with stories of the latest demon her team had taken down.
"Hey," Xander said again when Riley turned out the light that night in their bedroom.
"Hey yourself." They had already settled into bed, Riley going through his usual routine in five minutes while Xander puttered around with no particular order to his tasks, jumping out of bed a few times to take care of this or that forgotten thing.
"Weirder seeing the two of us talking together," Xander said in a drowsy voice.
Riley cleared his throat. "Yeah." Seeing his ex-wife's head bent next to Xander's, the two of them speaking conspiratorially, the easy smile Sam gave him when he walked in: all of it rattled him something awful.
Xander nodded and turned on his side, stretching his arm over Riley's chest. "That Sam. She's great."
"Yeah." Riley swallowed.
"She's one crazy lady, though, deciding the two of you should split up," Xander said through a yawn. "But since it got you clear to hook up with me, she's pretty much my second-favorite person ever for it."
Riley gave a short laugh. "Hope I'm the first-favorite."
Xander squeezed his shoulder lightly, and his voice betrayed how close to sleep he was. "Long-haul guy here, Riley. Staying with you, 'kay?"
Xander was asleep before Riley could answer. He didn't think it mattered much, though, considering his reply was nothing more than a stupid grin he wore up until the moment his eyes fell shut.