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Ficlet: Don Jose Redux

Title Don Jose Redux
Author Rebcake
Rating G
Word Count 350
Character Riley Finn
A/N: Written for the still_grrr prompt for musicals or opera. I used Bizet’s Carmen.

Riley Finn knew his duty. The objective was to protect citizens from the depredations of monsters they never knew existed. He was also supposed to follow orders, but history had shown that wasn’t necessarily the best way to carry out the objective. Who was he to argue with history? He was always open to effective new techniques, for the good of the mission, and Buffy clearly had an incredibly effective approach. If she was one of the most fascinating girls he’d ever met, well, that was secondary. Probably.

However, he’d been entangled in the details. His superior officer, his mentor, had created the most horrible monster yet, and it had killed her. Then, he met another monster through Buffy, Oz, who was a great guy, the kind of guy you could barbecue with and talk to, well, not about sports, but other stuff. Seeing Oz classified as an experimental subject made him wonder who were the monsters and who were the citizens. Those questions were not about Buffy, not exactly.

But, now that he was AWOL — part of an escape plan involving not only a werewolf, but a witch, Hostile 17, and a supernatural Slayer — he realized Buffy had changed his world view. Not many of his peers would see him as doing his duty anymore. He was straying farther and farther from everything he’d thought was right, and he wasn’t sure he could ever go back. He hoped that Buffy wasn’t just a peculiar blonde temptress, a siren leading him to his doom. He felt wrong-footed, though his heart told him he was doing the right thing.

The thing was, he wasn’t sure if his heart was entirely under his own control anymore. He sat in the burned-out school, and while she stayed away, he felt as empty as the library shelves surrounding him. He would wait and wait, if only she would come to let him know he hadn’t thrown away his career for nothing.

When Xander showed up instead, bearing tales of Buffy’s old demon lover, Riley knew he’d been had.

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Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
rahirah
Jul. 11th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
Poor RIley. He never really stood a chance...
rebcake
Jul. 11th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
It was natural that he would confuse his romantic feelings with the new path Buffy set him on. I like to think he ultimately got it all sorted. He certainly behaves better than the jilted soldier from Carmen, so I'm willing to give him props.
mere_ubu
Jul. 11th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
Oh, my Carmen, she is so rusty. I really like this, though, and it's not often that I feel a lot of sympathy for Riley. Well, certainly not S5 Riley, anyway. You've really captured how out of his depth he is here.

I'm also freaking out b/c my sister and I watched "New Moon Rising" this very morning! I just left him in the burned-out high school, and here he is again. *cue Twilight Zone music* Coincidence?
rebcake
Jul. 11th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
Well, Riley doesn't stab Buffy to death outside the bullring, so he's leagues ahead of Don Jose. I know that's a pretty minimal standard of behavior, but I'm willing to give him credit anyway. Riley's not a bad guy, and he eventually puts on his big boy boots, and is able to separate his new knowledge of how the world really works from his romantic feelings for Buffy. And, hey, he's just written that way! If the writers had followed the Don Jose analogy to the end, he would've been a real villain, and I'm glad they didn't. (Though--Season 8 Spoiler Alert!--maybe he gets around to it eventually. Just sayin'.)

As to the coincidence, well, I don't believe in 'em. It's just that great minds...rewatch liberally? Hoo yeah.
riccadonna
Jul. 11th, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)
Very good!
rebcake
Jul. 11th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I figure Riley's not a real popular guy on my f-list, so I'm happy that you weren't too put off.
moscow_watcher
Jul. 11th, 2009 08:26 am (UTC)
Great job! You make me feel for Riley...
rebcake
Jul. 11th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Weird, huh? I surprised myself by dredging up some sympathy for the guy. Still, he's not so bad. Thanks for commenting.
3xcereal
Jul. 11th, 2009 08:34 am (UTC)
Poor Riley...
rebcake
Jul. 11th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
It's not the most comfortable time for Riley, but he figures things out and grows from the experience, and you can't really ask more than that. Thanks for commenting!
zanthinegirl
Jul. 11th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Nice! I've always kind of liked Riley (fake-staking Spike aside) and this is a good look at his character. And since I'm covering my eyes and pretending that Season Eight doesn't exist, I don't see him as beyond redemption!
rebcake
Jul. 11th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Riley could have gone much further off the rails than he did, so I have to give him props for dealing with his disappointment with a degree of self-control. (Not total control, mind you, which is probably what he expected from himself.) Not everybody can be Spike, more's the pity.

As for Season 8, we don't really know what's going on at this point, so what Riley's up to is anybody's guess. We're probably better off making it up. Of course, we already knew that!
(Deleted comment)
rebcake
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
I don't know how I keep missing your comments! We'll I sort of do: I was at Comic-Con that week, and it's all a bit of a blur. Report to follow. Anyway, thanks so much for your nice comments!
velvetwhip
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
I very much like this. The parallels really work here.


Gabrielle
rebcake
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:51 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's hard to see Buffy as exactly fitting the Carmen role of temptress, but she has the same affect on Riley's life, at least for a little while. Once he gets his head together (which takes awhile) he's welcome back into his old life, hopefully having learned from having his world opened.

Thanks so much for commenting!
slaymesoftly
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
Nicely done. It's nice to see Riley treated fairly and sympathetically for a change.
rebcake
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
He's just a guy, you know? Not perfect, still quite young, but at this point he's trying to do the right thing. "Thinking too much" his commanding officer would say.

Thanks for commenting!
angelus2hot
Feb. 12th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Poor Riley *hugs and pets him*

Wonderfully done!

I always adore your writing and this fic didn't disappoint, you did an amazing job with him!
rebcake
Feb. 12th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Gawrsh! Thanks for the kind words. Riley isn't perfect, just like everybody, but he really put a lot on the line for Buffy, and although I think he ultimately is better for it, there have got to be times when he has doubts. Like now.
jen_nsync_landl
Feb. 12th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Here is the question: who, exactly, is Riley's Michaela??? Some poor Iowa girl, pining away? There is a follow-up I would love to see! :)

In the meantime, this will do nicely!

*claps*
rebcake
Feb. 12th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Hmmm. He probably had a few gals lusting after pining for him, but he made no promises — another way in which he comes off better than Don Jose, IMO.

I'm glad you enjoyed it!
staringiscaring
Feb. 12th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
Aw, he was a textbook case rebound guy. Good job at capturing his essential Riley-ness.
rebcake
Feb. 12th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
He gave it his all, but he didn't quite realize what he was getting into. It could have gone much worse than it did, once he understood he was out of his depth, but he pulls himself together once he's out of Buffy's orbit. I have very mixed feelings about Rye, but I have a lot of sympathy for his situation at this juncture. Thanks for commenting!
staringiscaring
Feb. 12th, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
I agree. Thanks for posting. :)
ares132006
Feb. 12th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
You really got into Riley's mindset here. The process he went through, once he had met Buffy, changed his world view on monsters and people.

Very well done.
rebcake
Feb. 12th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
Thank you! He had a steep learning curve, for sure. His resiliency is why he's been able to make it as far as he has (S8 inclusive), and he has the lessons he learned from Buffy at least partially to thank for that, I think.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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