Isn't it weird that you don't know your relationship is in danger of imploding until someone else points it out to you?
But Buffy didn't have time to think about that. She had to get to Riley before he left. She had to tell him that she was sorry, that she'd never thought of him as the rebound guy. Tears glistened in her eyes before falling softly onto her cheeks. It had taken the threat of losing him forever to make her realize she was in love with him.
Without a backward glance she took off running down the deserted street, passed the parked cars and the houses with their families safely inside unknowing and uncaring that some lives were on the verge of imploding. She ran through the woods as if the hounds of hell were after her, as if her very life depended on getting to him in time. And it did.
She could hear the chopper blades as she ran. It was there to take him away. She couldn't let that happen with a burst of speed she was in the clearing but it was too late. The helicopter was already leaving and with it her heart.
"Riley!" The tears continued to fall as she yelled his name.
Inside the chopper Riley sat staring straight ahead, he refused to look down at the town that held so many memories for him. And all of them included Buffy. He didn't know how he was going to get through the next few hours much less the rest of his life without her. He'd known that when he'd issued the ultimatum he was going to lose her. But somehow he hadn't let himself believe she wouldn't come to see him leave. Even if it was only to say goodbye.
A sharp elbow jab in his side shook him from his thoughts. "Yeah?"
"Aren't you even going to say anything?"
"What the hell do you want me to say, Graham?" Riley stared at his best friend. "That I can't wait until we're gone? That I'm not going to miss...."
Whatever he was going to say was lost as Graham interrupted. "Well at least you could say goodbye."
Riley shot Graham a look as if to question his sanity, but was stopped from replying by a voice from the front.
"Sit her down."
What in the hell was going on?" Riley was unaware that he'd asked the question aloud until he was answered.
He looked down and his heart skipped a beat. Buffy. He had given up hope but she was there. Although, he couldn't hear what she was yelling, somehow he knew it was his name.
Without taking his eyes off of Buffy he repeated. "Sit her down." Riley tapped his foot impatiently as the helicopter slowly descended to its starting point on the heliopad.
Within seconds Riley was clear of the sharp blades twirling overhead and Buffy was in his arms. Neither one of them noticed as the helicopter took off once more.
"Riley, you can't...don't....I" Her words were whispered, disjointed but he understood anyway.
"I'm not going anywhere." He assured her before continuing, "I'm sorry, Buffy. I didn't mean to hurt you. I thought I'd lost you. That was the only reason I was leaving tonight."
Buffy pushed the hair from her eyes and brushed her tear stained cheek with the back of her hand. She was surprised to discover that she didn't need the apology, they'd both made mistakes but that was behind them now. Suddenly, a shiver of fear went through her. She had almost lost him. That could never happen again.
The slayer, the woman who always had to be the strong one, to be in control finally let her guard down and let him inside her heart. She wrapped her arms tighter around his body as she whispered, "I love you, Riley Finn."
He stared down at the woman he loved in complete amazement. In all of their time together she'd never said those words to him. Not once. With a shout of joy he scooped her up in his arms and spun her around. As he lowered her back onto her feet he whispered against her lips "I love you, Buffy Anne Summers. I will always love you." Standing there in the dead of night they kissed. A kiss of passion, faith, a renewal of trust but more importantly love.