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Buffy the Vampire Slayer, PG, Characters/Pairing: Tara Maclay/Riley Finn
Summary: Your sweetness is beyond cute.
Written for the above prompt at [livejournal.com profile] comment_fic. Set during Tara’s first weeks at UC Sunnydale. File under IDEK because this isn’t a pairing I’d ever thought I’d be writing. (654 words).


Your sweetness is my weakness: shallowness

Tara is trying to broaden horizons - coming here to UC Sunnydale was about being brave - and the party that most of the girls in her dorm seem to be going to will definitely mean meeting people who aren't into Wicca or on her course. Tara says she’ll come too, swept along on a current of excitement, and it feels...nice.

There are moments where she feels less sure about her decision, when they get to the other dorm, and there seem to be so many strangers. She loses the fairly familiar faces of her dorm-mates and, for a second, some of crowd seem threatening.

She takes a deep, grounding breath and sees a table with drinks on it, finding herself standing behind a tall guy serving himself. It's not a bad view, he clearly works out, even if muscled and male aren’t what Tara normally find attractive. But she likes the way he applies himself to what he’s doing.

She's quiet and the music is loud, so everyone is shouting, but he seems to sense her and spins around when he’s filled his cup. He smiles at her, and it’s a knock-out smile.

Tara smiles back more shyly, but less than shyly than she would have before she started school.

"I'm sorry, have you been waiting long?" he shouts.

"No, no. I'm good." She has to step a little closer to him to make sure her voice carries. There’s a slight astringency to his cologne, but it doesn’t make her want to step back.

"I think it's dive in and serve yourself. What's your tipple? Not that there's a huge choice."

She looks around, mainly seeing beer.

"Oh, is that cherry liqueur left?" she yells hopefully.

"The pink stuff?" He lifts the bottle and nods. “Yep.” She picks out a cup and he plays bartender for her. There's something oddly wholesome about the way he’s doing this, and when he says, "I'm Riley Finn, by the way," she gives him her name back.

She takes a swallow and can't help the growing blush as his eyes fall to her lips and down her neck. Maybe he’s not so wholesome after all, yet Tara doesn't turn and run.

"So, you're a fan of the cherry liqueur, huh, Tara?" he asks.

She nods. He gestures that they move away from the drinks, to somewhere a little less noisy and crowded, and it’s a mixer, so why not? She finds out he's a TA, and his main impression of Sunnydale seems to be that it’s hot.

He listens when she tells him what she wants to get out of studying Art History, and she feels like she’s talking a lot, but she only stutters a very, very little.

When they’ve both finished their drinks and Tara is wondering if she really wants more, the music slows some and he asks her to dance. Tara thinks about it a half-second, nods with a little smile. They find a shelf to place their cups and Riley puts his arm around her waist. There's a sense of control behind this gesture that she likes more than she would have guessed. He’s not quite her usual shape – he clearly does work out - but the motivation behind it is what she likes, it doesn’t feel possessive as much as an echo of a gentleman taking his partner to the dance floor.

Like every other couple, they're swaying close together, not doing anything more formal. But there’s nothing about it that harries or flusters her. It’s more like stepping into a cocoon, with just enough strangeness about it that she doesn't feel she's in a stupor. The music will haunt her.

When she kisses Riley good night, because he’s sweet and cute, he says he may have got a taste for cherry liqueur, too. They part smiling, her to bed and him to patrol, both feeling better about being in Sunnydale.

Fin

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