Animalistic

 
This is for the BA_Fluff "101 Ways to Kill Riley" challenge based on the list by Annie.  I don't remember who suggested the challenge.  This story uses #36 and #98 with a slight variation.

 

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"This is all your fault!" Buffy yelled at the top of her lungs, looking at the small white mouse on the floor of her dorm room.

Willow looked flustered.  "Buffy, I…"

"I mean, I can see it now.  'Sorry, Professor Walsh, but Riley won't be coming in today because my roommate turned him into a mouse!"

"Well, if you hadn't been complaining about how none of your boyfriends are honest with you, maybe I could have completed the truth spell without messing up!"

Riley-mouse squeaked and started wandering.  Buffy scooped him up and sighed.  "What are we going to do with him?"

"I'll find someway to turn him back.  Maybe Tara will help me," Willow said.  "Meanwhile, put him in the cage with Amy."

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Change him back?  Change me back!  'Cause you're so good with reversal spells, aren't you Willow?  So, you've messed up another and I get a new roommate.  This is so unfair.

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"This is all your fault!" Cordelia yelled as soon as the door opened.

"Cordelia?" Buffy asked in shock.  The aspiring actress was standing in the hall outside her dorm room, a large black cat squirming to get out of her arms.

"Stop it!" she yelled at the cat, then replied, "Yeah, it's me.  Who else did you think it was?  Your roommate's been messing with magic again, and now she has to fix it!"

Willow was sitting by Amy's &endash; and Riley's &endash; cage looking over her magic book to see where the spell had gone wrong.  "I'm trying to fix it!" she whined.

"Fine!" Cordelia suddenly yelled &endash; at the still squirming cat, not at Willow.  "You hold him," she said, shoving the cat into Buffy's arms and pushing her way into the room.  "He's only happy with you anyway."  She paused for a moment.  "Which is a bad thing, so watch it."

The cat fell still the moment he was in Buffy's arms.  "You do realize that you make absolutely no sense," Buffy said as she tried to get the cat into a comfortable position to hold him.  The cat trembled slightly and let out a quite pitiful meow.  "I think you traumatized the poor thing."

Cordelia just rolled her eyes and turned her attention to Willow.  "Fix him!"

"I said I'm…" Willow looked at Cordelia oddly.  "What are you doing here?  How did you know about Riley, anyway?"

Cordelia looked at the white mouse in amusement.  "That's Riley?"  She laughed.

Willow looked back and forth between the mouse, Cordelia, and the cat.  "Cordy?  Who…?"

Buffy, however, found her answer in the cat's amber eyes.  "Angel?!"

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No, that's my cheese!  Get your own!

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"You know, this is all your fault," Giles said seriously once Willow let him into the room.

"Why does everyone keep saying that?" Willow cried.

"Because it is," Cordelia answered.

Buffy nodded from where she sat on the bed, Angel curled up in her lap.  "Yeah.  I mean, am I going to keep finding boyfriends turned into animals?  This is ridiculous!"  She absently stroked Angel's fur while she spoke.

"And I told you not to cast spells when you weren't focused," Giles added.

"Well, lesson learned," Willow said sheepishly.  "Could you please help me fix this?"

Cordelia nodded.  "Yeah.  I want my boss back."

Giles walked back into the hall for a moment and returned with an armload of books.  "I brought everything I thought could be of use," he explained.  He put down the books in the middle of the floor.

Suddenly Buffy chuckled for no apparent reason.  Everyone looked at her, including Angel who lifted his head from her lap for a moment.  Buffy returned his gaze and said with a laugh, "You were purring."  The two of them then noticed everyone's strange glance.  "Well, he was!" Buffy defended herself.  Angel shrugged &endash; as best a cat could &endash; stretched, and jumped down to the floor and Giles' pile of books.  He looked at the ex-Watcher expectantly.

"Right.  So, um, research."

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Research.  Why didn't they ever do research like this when I got turned into a rat?  Hey!  Go away, it's my turn on the wheel!

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Angel had given up trying to be much help on the research end.  After finding that he couldn't turn the pages with paws &endash; at least, not without great difficulty &endash; he curled up on the floor next to Buffy and tried to read the books she was looking at.

"There's one thing I don't get," Willow said at one point, looking at Angel's still human mannerisms and expressive cat noises.  "I mean, how come Angel still has his personality and Riley's just a mouse?"

"Maybe because Riley had no personality to begin with," Cordelia muttered.

Angel chuckled…sort of.

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Why couldn't you be a handsome, human intelligence, rat?  Why'd you have to be a mouse?

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"Guys, I think I've found something that might work," Willow said finally, "but…"

"But what?" Cordelia demanded.  "I don't have to go looking for a new job, do I?"

"Umm, actually…Buffy, I need you to look at this."

Buffy took the old spell book from Willow's hand.  She looked at the open page for a moment and blinked at the words.  "Love Transformed?" she asked, making sure that she was reading the correct spell.

Willow nodded.  "Yeah.  Um, you see the part where it says 'true love's true form'?"

"Oh," was all Buffy said, very softly.

"That's the part that worries me," Willow explained.  "I mean, what about Riley?"

Buffy looked stricken.  "Aren't you making an awfully big assumption there, Wills?"

Everyone stared at her.  Cordelia rolled her eyes.  Angel looked hurt and let out a very soft meow.

Buffy sighed.  "You're right.  What about Riley?"

Willow took the spell book back.  "I think…That is, Giles and I could try and modify this spell so that it works for two people that you care about.  It's worth a try."

Buffy nodded.  "Then do it."

Fifteen minutes later Willow and Giles thought they had a workable spell.  The center of the room was a circle of candles, Buffy in the center, Angel to one side of her.  The only hitch came when Willow went to place Riley-mouse in the circle as well.  As she went to put him down on Buffy's other side, Angel hissed and swiped at him.  Buffy put a restraining hand on his back, and Willow scooped up the mouse before he could hide.

"For your sake," Buffy muttered to Angel, "I'm going to assume that was feline instincts getting the better of you and not because he's my boyfriend."

Angel lowered his head and watched the mouse closely.

"Willow," Buffy said, exasperated, "let's just do this spell before anything else goes wrong."

"Right," Willow acknowledged.  "Now Giles and I will be casting the spell, but the results are going to depend on you.  I need you to picture in your mind Angel and Riley the way they're supposed to be…"

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Yes!  I've got the cage all to myself again.  Who needs a roommate anyway?  Now, if you could just find a reversal spell that would work for me, things would be great…

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"This is all your fault," Angel muttered, sitting on Buffy's bed wrapped up in her blanket.

"I'm sorry I forgot to bring clothes for you, okay?  Giles went to find you something to wear out of here," Cordelia declared, extremely tired of this.  "Smile already.  Everything else worked out great."

That it had.  While clothes, embarrassingly enough, had apparently not been a part of Buffy's visualization process, sunlight had been.  When the spell was complete and Angel found himself in human form (all be it with vampire strength because of all of the times he and Buffy had fought together) Buffy admitted that she'd dreamed of him being human everyday since about a week after she visited him in L.A.  Telling her that the dreams had really happened had been uncomfortable.  Angel's currently unclothed state made things even more awkward.  Buffy was quite purposefully standing as far away from him as she could.  Only the presence of others in the room led to their self-control.

"What I don't understand," Willow said after a moment, "is what happened to Riley?  Where'd he go?"  She looked at Buffy.  "Did you picture him somewhere in particular, maybe?"

"To be honest," Buffy replied softly, "I was really concentrating more on Angel at the time.  I don't know."

Angel looked at Buffy when she said that.  She would not meet his eyes.   Perhaps the changes in the spell had done little, and it had been true love that made the transformation possible.

"He'll turn up," Cordelia said, her tone clearly indicating that she didn't care one way or another.

They might have continued looking for Riley then, but the door opened suddenly.    Without any introduction, Xander began rambling.  "How are my two favorite girls?  I come bearing snacks, donuts, and &endash; AAH!"  Xander finally took in the whole situation.  He gaped at them.  "What the hell are you doing here, Dead Boy? …And where are your clothes?"

"Long story," Cordelia began, surprising Xander with her presence.

"A spell went bad," Willow said sheepishly.

"Apparently not that long."

Xander shook his head in dismay.  "Uh, okay.  Well, if anyone wants donuts…"  He took a step forward and everyone heard a quite loud crunch.

"Uggh," Cordelia said in disgust.  "Cockroach problem?"

"Never had one before," Buffy said, disinterested.

Willow, however, had another idea.  "Riley?"

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Huh.  Serves him right.  Eat my food, will you?

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"This may have been all your fault," Buffy said to Willow softly, "but…thank you."

"You're not upset about Riley?"

Buffy shrugged.  "Oddly, no.  I'm just glad there's no body or anything so I don't have to explain."

"Well, there is a body," Willow said, "but it's on the bottom of Xander's shoe."

Buffy laughed slightly and stared across the room.

Willow smiled and followed Buffy's gaze to where Angel sat, staring out the open window at the vibrant sunset.  "True love's true form, huh?"

Buffy smiled.  "Yeah."

Angel turned to look at them both.  "What?"

"Your true form, Angel.  Not quite human, not vampire, just…Angel.  Perfect," Buffy said softly.

"Perfect," Angel replied with a smile and stood up to move closer to Buffy.  "Think we can make this work this time?"

"Of course," Buffy replied, and they kissed as if there was no one else in the world.

Cordelia rolled her eyes.

Willow smiled broadly.

Xander groaned and looked away.

Giles shrugged and began gathering his books.

And Riley…well, Riley was dead.

So all was right with the world.

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Hey!  What about me now?!  I want to be human too!  …Darn it.

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Hope you enjoyed it.  That was fun!

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