"It was a total accident, I didn't even mean for it to happen."
"I'm sure Buffy doesn't blame you."
"You blamed me."
"I did not-"
"Did too," She corrected. "You like glared at me for the last two days almost."
"I was just taken aback-"
And that was putting it mildly, she thought.
"-I mean, wouldn't you be?" He asked.
She paused, taking a moment to consider his words; it was true enough, she would be a little peeved (or "taken aback") if happened to her. It wasn't everyday your sister's boyfriend took you to an amusement park and wins an antique necklace - purported to have been created from "the tears of a seafaring bride" that lost her beloved the day of their wedding - for you. And all for guessing where it might've been hidden in the fortune teller's stuffy wagon prop. Dawn remembered being impressed he found it on the first try, Riley, being the humble guy that he was, shrugged his shoulders, dubbing it a lucky break. "Could've been anywhere," He told her as they got in line for the Ferris wheel. They'd spent the better part of their time going back and forth to the Merry-go-round and super swings in-between visiting vendors before Riley escorted her back home. She intended on showing Buffy the prize Riley had won for her, but remembered she left in the necklace in Riley's jacket and wouldn't get it until tomorrow.
He'd come that morning to give it back to her, let into the house by Mom, when he walked into the path of sink's hose. Buffy had deliberately ducked behind her big strong boyfriend just to avoid getting wet and that was when everything went to pot. Riley fell over, barely managing to catch himself on the island, but that hadn't even been the worst of it. Between her mother's screaming and the dumbfounded looks of both Buffy and Riley, Dawn remembered being unable comprehend what she was looking at as Buffy closed the distance between them and demanded to know what she'd done. It was without a doubt the worst thirty seconds of her life.
"Dawn?" Riley's voice snapped her out of her reverie. She sat up straighter on the stool, tightened the grip on her mug as she did her best to look aware of her surroundings. Where were they? Oh yeah, Buffy and the blaming her for stuff. "Sure she does! Buffy thinks I'm a hell spawn or something, she blames me for everything!"
"But, it's true! One time, she said it was my fault she put her chunky sweater in the washer because I 'distracted her' when I came into the laundry room!" She stopped long enough to take a bite into the ice cream piled above the rim of the yellow mug before resuming her tirade. "I bet she blames me for being short too."
He chuckled, readjusting his arms on the top of the bathtub. She noticed he seemed to looking for something to say in response, fingers scratching the side of his face as his arm caught the reflection of the light above. "Dawn, your sister's a lot of things, but vindictive isn't one of them."
She snorted. "That's easy for you to say, you don't have to live with her," Dawn muttered, biting into her ice cream again. "Plus, you're her boyfriend, so you can't say anything mean about her."
"Well, I wouldn't go that far. I have a mind of my own, even Buffy bugs me sometime."
"Liar, your just saying that to make me feel better. Angel used to do it all the time."
There was a profound silence after that statement before he decided to say anything. "Really? He doesn't strike me as the coddling type." He remembered the bruises to say otherwise as well. The youngest Summers girl waved a dismissive hand at him. "Believe me, Angel was just as awkward as you are around me sometimes. Sure, he was all dark and mysterious with Buffy, but if I came into the room and he looked at me like I was an alien or something."
"I wouldn't say you're alien, Dawn. Unique, maybe, but not alien," He said, eyes shifting to the right.
"I guess," Dawn looked unconvinced and resumed trimming her rapidly melting ice cream. "Hey, how are you doin', anyways?" She asked after a moment. At the his raised eyebrow, she continued. "That's I wanted to ask when I came in here, but-" She made a weird gesture with her free hand, bobbing her head from side to side. "You know."
"Yeah, I know." The question seemed to bring him back to the state of their (or rather, his) situation. Rolling his shoulders, he pressed his back against the wall of the tub and tapped his clawed fingernails on the rim. Watching him flex his muscles, relearning what he barely had time to memorize was bizarre given his physical state. "Is that weird?" She asked quietly. "I mean, having no legs or other vital stuff?"
Riley shrugged, eyes scanning his lower half. In place of his legs there was smooth, glimmering fin that extended beyond the length of the tub. The transparent fin curled in on itself, flexing idly not unlike the tail of a cat when it relaxed or content. His hands, while they still maintained their human appearance, were webbed like the feet of a frog, talons serving for fingernails. His arms up to his elbows were covered in scales, fins jutted forth from his back down to waist of his fish body and continued to the end of his tail. For all intents and purposes, he looked like Riley in all the important places, it was his arms and non-existent legs that were from somewhere else entirely.
"Sort of," He said. "But I'm adjusting." The slight waver at end the response made her think otherwise. Some part of her was angry for Buffy for getting angry at her for what happened to Riley, other part (the part she refused to acknowledge openly) did regret tugging on his arm like an excitable twelve year old, asking to be taken to get her fortune told just so she could scoff at the words of a pretend gypsy fortune teller.
Who turned out not be so pretend after all, considering.
She never took the whole magic thing with Buffy's group seriously, she took every opportunity to mock them with Harry Potter and Disney jokes until she was marched out of the Magic shop by Buffy or befuddled by a remark from Anya. Now her sister's boyfriend was sitting in their tub, trying to stay hydrated while Mr. Giles looked for any information on the necklace and Buffy went to "pay a visit" to the amusement park (code for "kick the ass of the baddie who cursed her guy"). Whatever the spell was, she hoped there wasn't a sunset clause somewhere in the binding, as the idea of Riley stuck as merman taking residence in their bathroom resulted in rather uncomfortable thoughts.
"I'm sure Buffy will figure this out," She told him, hoping it would make him feel better.
"Oh, I know she will," Riley grinned. "She'll want to use her bathtub again after all."