Secret Slasha — The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha — The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

The Lesson
By LolKat
For RabidX


As a military man, this was not a word Riley was accustomed to using; much less embracing voluntarily. Well, hardly voluntarily. It was made pretty clear to him that he would no longer be either useful or welcome if he didn’t attend.

So. Retreat it was.

Shrouded in darkness and foliage, the building looked like some kind of homely log cabin that would be more appropriately found in the Swiss Alps in mid December than Central Belize in the spring. He could just imagine that within lay a roaring log fire, huge oak bookshelves full of dusty tomes, and a gathering of middle aged nouveau-rich couples sitting around in leather chairs discussing the plight of the homeless whilst sipping on piping hot mulled wine.

But none of that really had anything to do with coaching people on gaining emotional balance, so it was probably best not to judge on appearances.

Though it was almost midnight, there was a warm glow of electric light clear through the drawn curtains in the windows, and the sign on the door proclaimed “all visitors welcome at all hours”.

How completely ill advised in the middle of a demon infestation, he thought cynically.

He tried the door, and of course met no resistance as it swung open into an empty (but abundantly furnished) reception area. Wow, he was going to feel safe here.

There was no bell to ring for attention, and for a while he just stood awkwardly at the desk, uncertain of how to attract attention or if he even wanted to. Maybe a pack of rabid-yet-obsessively-neat demons had already been through there, murdered everyone horribly, and moved on – pausing only to clear all the bodies and leave the place exactly as they found it. If there were no Retreat to attend, he could be forgiven for not staying – right?

He was on the verge of turning around and quietly exiting the way he came in, when a girl in an oversized and definitely over-decorated fluffy cardigan came bustling through all apologies and welcomes, spending a good minute trying to find a pencil before extracting one from somewhere within the depths of her elaborate hairstyle.

“Hi,” Riley introduced himself, “Agent Riley Finn. I think you’re expecting me? Sorry, I wasn’t sure if there was anyone still about...”

“You should have jangled the dream-catcher!” she exclaimed, indicating to a cobweb-y thing hanging from the curtain rail with tiny cymbals dangling off of it in, seemingly alarmed that he didn’t think to do this at once upon arrival.

He shrugged his shoulders by way of apology.

Flicking through the pages of the registration book to find an empty page, she casually enquired “so what brings you to us today then?”


He didn’t really plan on revealing any more, but this girl could keep one eyebrow raised for an inordinately long time, and eventually the silence became too awkward for him.

“My... superiors. Thought I needed to work through some anger management issues. Get a better handle on myself, centre my emotional chi or whatever. So...” Riley shrugged his broad shoulders and the girl seemed satisfied with the answer. She handed him a key and gave him directions to his room.

“Breakfast is through there at 8” – she indicated to a refectory area beyond some double doors – “and then it’s yoga and meditation in the Central Hall. That’s communal, so just follow everyone else.”

He thanked her and bid her goodnight – although almost as soon as he’d finished the sentence she had already disappeared. Yoga and meditation, he pondered. Don’t anticipate switching my morning push ups to that on a permanent basis.

He hated this place already.

The scent of incense hit him instantly upon entering his assigned room, and he could barely find the bed under the excess of artfully distributed pillows. This room was not designed by a dude. It couldn’t be more different from the military digs he’d spent the last 3 weeks in since his arrival in Belize, but in some ways that was a good thing – that cramped and rickety little cot made it feel like he was sleeping in a third world morgue before the rage incident. At least this would be comfortable.

He stripped down to his boxers and climbed into bed, but although it was indeed as cosy as it looked, he had trouble drifting off. As per usual, all he could think about was what Buffy might be doing right now. California was 2 hours behind Belize, so it would be coming up to 10:30 there. She was probably out patrolling; deliberately courting and then fending off the advances of demons.

Because of course Spike would be there.

He felt the anger bubble up inside of him again and directed it at a nearby pillow. The catharsis was ineffectual as the pillow was soft and yielding under his punch, which didn’t in any way hurt and made the whole experience horribly unsatisfying. He would have much rather felt the bruise forming as he struck out, heard the crack of something breaking – ideally a feature of Spike’s face. He threw the pillow to the floor.

Two hours of similarly themed tossing and turning later, he finally succumbed to fitful and restless sleep.

His experience of the Retreat during daytime managed to both meet his expectations and frantically underwhelm him. Breakfast was bland, cardboard-y granola, washed down with soya milk and juice that sounded exotic, but tasted like apple.

The yoga/meditation thing was straightforward enough, once he got the hang of timing his mantra with his breathing. Inhale on ‘Buffy is a selfish bitch’, exhale on ‘I miss Buffy.’ The instructor didn’t particularly seem to notice his unhealthy mental occupation, so long as his dog was sufficiently downward-facing.

The end of the afternoon was where it started, unexpectedly, to get a lot more interesting. He had been given a schedule of seminars to attend, the last of which was titled ‘Techniques in Self-Control’.

Having sat already through 4 hours of uninspiring new age claptrap about finding himself, communicating with his inner child, and learning to love his emotions, he was desperate to just get through this final hour so that he could go back to his room and kick some pillows.

He didn’t even look up when the lecture first started, concentrating instead on completing his assorted collection of doodled images of Buffy looking increasingly trite and lovesick. He adorned the last one with an anvil suspended above her head.

Something about the lecturer’s voice though; his short, confident and poignant style; struck a chord in an eerily familiar way, and caused him to lift his gaze.

Their eyes met, and they recognised one another at once. Riley kept himself from speaking out there and then, but actually concentrated for the remainder of the hour – even contributing to some of the discussions.

As soon as the seminar concluded, he intercepted the lecturer’s departure.

“Oz! I can’t believe it’s you. It’s... it’s just incredible to run into you here.” Riley was more than averagely enthusiastic to finally be able to talk to someone both familiar and not a total hippy.

“Well, it’s credible. I mean-” Oz gestured to Riley and then back to himself, “-Exhibit A, us being here. It’s just not likely.”

Riley conceded with a grin. “So. You’re living in Belize now?”

“Yeah. Well, currently. I’ve been on something of a world tour of self-control.”

“And now you tell other people how to control themselves.” If Riley was shooting for a tone of admiration, he fell quite spectacularly short. Oz picked up on his resentment and chose not to take it personally.

“Well, I lead a class on self-help techniques. You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.”

“You can if you have a big enough gun.” Riley reasoned.

“I don’t think that would help in this situation.”

“Probably not.”

There was an awkward pause before Oz decided to steer the conversation away from the topic of forcing people to do things at gunpoint.

“So, you’re staying here?”

“Yes.” Riley affirmed. “Well, for a while. Though if I find myself developing a sudden penchant for pot-pourri and hand woven throws, I may have to stick around indefinitely. This may be the only source in the country.”

Oz grinned and threw him a sympathetic smirk. “It can be a bit much. Listen, if you want to get away for the evening, I don’t live on site. It’s only about a 10 minute walk away but it’ll seem like another world. And I have beer.”

“That sounds more welcome than I can put into words. Lead on, Soldier”.

Allowing the military reference to slide, Oz escorted Riley out into the cool evening air and off the grounds of the Retreat. A few moments passed as they walked companionably together in silence.

Eventually Riley was the one to break it. “So you haven’t asked. About why I’m here.”

“No.” Oz observed. “I wasn’t sure that you wanted me to.”

“I’m not sure either. But apparently I struggle to keep my issues to myself” Riley admitted, “so it’s probably going to come up.”

“Well, not with all that self control I taught you today.”

Riley smiled fleetingly, giving way to a tight jawed grimace. “It’s Buffy.”

“Buffy wanted you to learn relaxation techniques in Belize.” The tone was deadpan, but Riley picked up on the question. He answered it evasively.

“Buffy doesn’t particularly care what skills I acquire or where I acquire them.”

“I take it things aren’t going well.” Oz’s eyebrows conveyed sympathy though the rest of his expression remained stoic.

“Oh, they aren’t going at all.” Riley’s response was sharp and acerbic. “Long story short - the military wanted me. She didn’t. So I came out here, where I’m needed.”

“Which explains why the country,” Oz reasoned, “but not why the Retreat. And I’m sorry, by the way.”

“Thanks. Well, it appears that I can take myself away from her more effectively than I can take her away from me. Apparently I’m ‘harbouring a lot of anger’ and it’s ‘affecting my performance’. I’ve been ‘strongly advised’ to come here to ‘put things in perspective’ and ‘work out my issues’.” Riley managed to intone the quotation marks effectively through his sarcastic sneer.

Oz knew better than to respond, and waited quietly for Riley to speak again. After a deflated sigh, he continued.

“To tell you the truth though, although I have flashes of rage at her behaviour, it’s not really her I’m angry with. It’s myself.” He thought about it for a second then corrected himself. “Well, also a lot Spike. But ultimately... I’m frustrated that I couldn’t reach her. Couldn’t make her feel the connection I know we could have had. Should have had. Once had? I don’t know.”

“Well, I didn’t see you together for very long so I can’t comment on that.” Oz responded diplomatically. “But I understand what you mean.”

“You do?” They made eye contact for a second before looking back in the direction they were proceeding.

“Sure. I mean, I came back to Sunnydale for Willow. I thought I’d become everything that was missing from what she needed me to be before. But as it turned out... she wanted something else. Something really else.”

Riley shot him a sympathetic look. “Yeah, I-“

“-Sorry I don’t mean to interrupt. But, we’re here.” Oz led Riley up a short flight of wooden steps to a small, unassuming building that looked like a temporary cabin home, and produced a key from his jeans pocket.

Riley followed Oz straight into the kitchen, where he was furnished immediately with a cold beer from the fridge. He took a long, welcome swig from the bottle.

Oz grinned at the other man’s relief, opening his own bottle but setting it down on the counter untouched. “So, you were saying?”

“I was?” Riley queried, distracted temporarily by the refreshment.

“About not being able to connect with Buffy” Oz prompted.

“Right. Because I was trying so hard to be the good boyfriend, when that was never what she was drawn to.” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t think what Buffy wanted was so different to me though. I mean sure, I’m not a vampire, but I’ve been to dark places. I changed, I got less... black and white. I saw the lure of the dangerous, the immoral. I got it. But I got it too late.”

“You don’t think Buffy ever saw that?”

Riley shook his head as he took another swig of beer. “I don’t think I made it clear enough to her. I used it to be close to her in theory, without being with her in person. When I felt like I couldn’t be.”

Riley knew that Oz wouldn’t ask him to elaborate, but clarified anyway. “I went out looking for vampires. Often after she’d gone for the night to do the same.” He looked down. “But I didn’t go to kill them. I went to let them feed off of me.” Somehow the shame of it was alleviated with the confession. “Of course by keeping it from her, she only went and sought depravity from someone else. Someone with a little more experience in that field.”

Abruptly, he thumped his fist on the counter. “I should have opened up to her sooner, let her open up to me. Make her see how much we had in common.”

“I should have done the same with Willow” Oz empathised. “We had a lot more in common than she thought as well.”

“Well yeah, you both like women.”Riley let the jibe leave his mouth before he had a chance to reconsider. He winced, “...Sorry.”

“It’s okay. And not what I meant. Kind of the opposite of what I meant, actually.”

Riley looked puzzled for a second. “Wait. So...?”

“Willow’s not the only one to embrace sexual fluidity. In fact, of the two of us, she wasn’t the first. I just never thought to bring it up with her, you know? And now I kick myself because of what I lost as a result. I mean that’s a huge part of ourselves we both kept from each other. Who knows how things might have been different if we hadn’t.” The speech was heartfelt and unusually long for a man of so few words.

Riley sucked in a long breath and exhaled deliberately before replying, clearly quite thrown by the change in direction of the conversation. “You know, it took me long enough to get used to the idea of you being part HST. Now I have to wrap my head around you being bisexual too?” He smiled to soften the gracelessness of his words.

Unfazed, Oz took Riley’s comment with the good nature with which it was intended. “But look at how well you did at coming to terms with my being a werewolf. I mean, now you worked ‘HSTs’ into your secret kinks and everything” he teased.

“You’re saying before long I’ll be thrill-seeking with the sexually flexible?”

“Well it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve made you reconsider your position.”

Riley grinned, looking away. But when he turned back to face Oz, his expression had changed to one that the other man couldn’t read. They locked eye contact for a second before Riley spoke. “Okay.”

Oz’s brow furrowed in confusion, not catching on. “Okay?”

“Okay. I came here to learn. So teach me.”

“I told you, I don’t make people do things they don’t wan–” Riley cut him off abruptly, kissing him hard.

“But I do. Want to. I came here to learn about me. Teach me about me...” the taller man implored.

Giddy with the experience, Oz allowed his instincts to take over and returned the kiss with equal passion, before pulling back as his senses caught up with him.

“Wait. Stop. Is this just because of your newfound demon thing? Because I should warn you we’re nowhere near a full moon. You’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for me to wolf out.”

Riley simply shook his head, keeping the eye contact. “I’m not.”

“Good. Because I try not to do that anymore anyway.”

Disclaimer given, Oz resumed their contact. Riley felt calloused fingers from years of guitar playing snake around the back of his neck, tracing his hairline at the base of his skull. Kissing someone small and compactly well muscled wasn’t new territory for Riley, but the feel of stubble against his face was, and took some adjusting to. He had to stop himself from pressing his lips too hard against the other man’s without seemingly pulling away.

Somehow he found his hands at Oz’s hips, and then they were under the hem of his loose fitting shirt. He could feel taut abdominal muscles – more well defined than a girl’s (even Buffy) and warm, slightly coarse skin. It passed through Riley mind to wonder if this was what it felt like to the girls who had been with him – all muscles and stubble and musk – but then he didn’t have time to think about that anymore because Oz was breaking contact to lift his Riley’s shirt over his head.

Oz took this opportunity to shoot him a look that was half desire, half seeking reaffirmation that that Riley didn’t want him to back off.

He didn’t.

Reassured, Oz quickly joined Riley in becoming shirtless, unbuttoning his jeans as well for good measure. Riley couldn’t help but notice that this allowed the tip of Oz’ erection, still contained within his boxer shorts, to protrude visibly over the opening of his pants. He was surprised to find his own body responding organically in kind at the sight, blood rushing south with such force that it made him feel slightly lightheaded.

This wasn’t the first time Riley had seen Oz in a state of undress, but it was certainly the first time he’d fully appreciated the other man’s toned, pale form and allowed it to excite him. Nonetheless, recalling the last time he’d seen Oz like this, he felt a familiar surge of protectiveness that made him want to engulf the smaller man’s body with his own.

Seizing control, he encircled Oz’s slender body and lifted him easily onto the kitchen counter, evening out their height difference. Oz put up no resistance, instead keeping his arms locked around Riley’s neck and raising his hips to allow Riley to slip his jeans off before wrapping his legs around Riley’s waist.

No longer caring about the prospect of stubble rash, Riley kissed Oz hard and pulled him forward by his buttocks, crushing their bodies together – shirtless torsos making full contact. Even more noticeably to his overloaded sensory system, this manoeuvre had now positioned their cocks pressed up against each other, and despite the three layers of material still between them Riley could feel the pulse of Oz’s blood being pumped to his groin and causing little twitches of excitement that jumped against his skin.

Just when Riley thought he was going to have to do something about the cotton barrier between them, he felt Oz’s hand sliding between their bodies, the path eased by the film of sweat that had built up between them with their grinding. With what appeared to be one continuous movement, Oz had Riley’s pants undone and his hand thrust purposefully inside, fingers clenched tightly around the shaft of his cock.

A part of him wanted to insist that Oz slow down; hold off; prevent it from being over too soon. But a more insistent part of him was burning with urgency and couldn’t bear the thought of Oz doing anything other than keeping his grip exactly as it was, fingers sliding up and down with such vigour that he wasn’t sure which of the two of them was going into spasm. Riley came quickly and messily, coating Oz’s hand and a good deal of the inside of his underwear.

Deciding to concentrate on his desire to return the favour above his embarrassment over coming so fast, Riley freed Oz’s cock from his the constraints of his boxers, reaching for it hesitantly with his fingertips. This was the first time he’d touched a penis other than his own, and he was inexplicably struck with nerves brought about by his inexperience. The size and shape felt alien to him, and he felt sure that his fumbling was erratic and uncoordinated.

He searched Oz’s expression for guidance, but found the other man’s head thrown back and his eyes closed, oblivious to Riley’s gaze. Encouraged, Riley felt brave enough to try something completely new. Sinking to his knees, his face was now level with Oz’s abdomen, and without warning he took Oz’s cock completely into his mouth. Startled by the change in sensation, Oz opened his eyes and looked down with an expression that at first bore surprise, and soon gave way to hunger. Riley felt sticky fingers in his hair and Oz emitted a low feral moan as Riley’s combination of suction and tongue work brought him to orgasm.

Riley rose to his feel, unable to conceal his pride. “You sure you’ve never done that before?” Oz smirked, after he regained his breath.

“What can I say? I’m a fast learner.” Riley grinned.

Oz nodded his concurrence. “Yes, you are. But please don’t allow your superlative performance to deter you from putting in more practise.”

“Practise does make perfect” Riley conceded, allowing Oz to pull him in for a kiss.

If the goal of this Retreat experience was to learn more about himself, Riley mused, mission emphatically accomplished.

And tonight, for once, he had a feeling he was going to have no trouble not thinking about Buffy.