Chapter 10 - Spanner in the Works
Buffy walked in the front door of her house and dropped her school bag at the bottom of the stairs as she searched for her Mom. “Mom, are you home?”
As she walked into the kitchen she caught sight of her mother hunched over the sink, her shoulders shaking slightly. “Mom?” Buffy whispered.
Joyce turned around to face her daughter, wiping tears from her face with the back of her hand. “Hi, honey. How was school?”
Buffy stepped forward quickly, wrapping her arms around her mother and completely ignoring the question that was posed to her. “Mom, what’s wrong?”
Joyce gulped back more tears that threatened to fall as she stroked her daughter’s back. She didn’t want to upset her, but she knew that Hank wasn’t going to let up easily. Joyce released her hold as she spoke to her.
“Your father called. He keeps insisting he see you. It’s not the first time he’s called either. I’ve been told that if I don’t send you to LA to visit him, he’ll come here and pick you up himself. He accused me of being selfish and of holding you here against your will.”
Buffy’s breath caught in her throat. For a moment she couldn’t believe her father would accuse her mom of those things, but then all the fights before the move came rushing to mind and she clenched her jaw in anger.
“I don’t want to see him. I’ll tell him myself.”
“No, honey, it won’t do any good. Your father… he won’t listen. He’ll just accuse me of forcing you to say that.” Joyce sighed in frustration. “Your father can be pig-headed at times. I–I don’t know what to do.”
“I do,” Buffy said quietly. “I’ll be going to LA in a few weeks, I’ll see him then.”
Joyce looked at her daughter a little confused. “Going to LA since when? What for? And why haven’t I been told about this earlier?”
“For swimming, the coach wants me to swim at a weekend event in two weeks. I’d be staying at a hotel in LA for the weekend then coming home. I could always drop in and have lunch with him one of the days,” she reluctantly suggested.
Joyce’s expression was a mixture of joy and pain. She was happy for Buffy and that her swimming was back on track again. But she also knew her daughter wasn’t looking forward to seeing her father, was only going to do so in an attempt to curtail his harassment.
“Honey, I’m so proud of you.” Joyce professed, pulling Buffy forward for another quick hug. “If you don’t want to see your father alone, I could come with you?”
Buffy shook her head. It would be best if she saw him on her own. “So I can go?” she asked hopefully.
“Of course you can sweetheart! It’s with the school, and will obviously be a chaperoned event.”
Buffy smiled. “Alright then, I’ll let the coach know tomorrow.”
The following day Buffy walked up the steps at the front of the school, a slight bounce in her step. She was allowed to go on the swim trip to LA! Apart from staying overnight at friend’s houses, she had never gone away on her own before. She had to tell the coach, and she couldn’t wait to find Spike and tell him as well
With a bright smile stretched across her face she pushed her way through the halls and out the doors at the other end leading to the courtyard. She smiled apologetically at a girl from her maths class that she narrowly missed bowling into, and turned to move towards the pool when something caught her eye.
A familiar flash of peroxide hair…
Buffy had raised her hand to wave at Spike when a pretty brunette snaked her arms around his neck and drew his head down for a kiss. Buffy’s jaw dropped and she squeezed her eyes tightly at the sight, only opening them again as she turned on her heel and stormed off to the pool. Her cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment, her fists clenching by her sides as her temper got the better of her.
How dare he judge who I’m interested in… when he has been hiding this…
“Why do I even care who he’s seeing?” she muttered to herself when she pushed through the doors to the pool deck.
Spike felt her arms snake around his neck and before he knew what had hit him her lips were pressed against his. Anger surged through Spike and he pushed her away roughly, the shock he felt evident in his expression.
“Dru, what do you think you’re doing?” He demanded. “Why are you even here?”
Dru smiled slowly, inching toward him again, her eyes dancing as they raked over his toned torso. “Am I not allowed to come visit my boy? I’ve missed you.”
“What, college guys aren’t as great as you thought they were?” he spat out.
She paid no attention to his obvious stab at her. Apparently he was still angry. Placing a hand on his arm, she walked her fingers up to his shoulder and traced a finger along his jaw line. “I just thought that --”
“That what, Dru? You’d show up and I’d come crawling back to you? Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.” His anger faded but that only gave way to the pain he felt when he looked at her.
He closed his eyes as the memories flashed through his mind, as if it had only happen a few days ago.
Spike had dropped by Dru’s dorm room on campus to surprise her, and the scene he’d stumbled upon when he’d opened the door had brought their relationship to an end. He’d found her rolling around in her bed with some random guy - who apparently wore more eyeliner makeup than she did.
He’d run from the dorms and she’d quickly followed. A small part of him had hoped that they could work through it, but she didn’t apologise for her actions or seem to care that she had hurt him in the first place.
"You’re a junior in high school - I’m a freshman in college. We’re too different, and we’ve both got so many new experiences before us. Maybe we should see other people."
Obviously she had decided to see other people before even discussing it with him. He’d tried to sort things out, tell her that age didn’t matter to him, but she was adamant. She wanted to experience life, be with more people. So they’d broken up.
That was a little over a year ago now. And now here she was on the high school campus.
“Spike… my darling boy… you know we were good together. It can be like that again,” she promised in a lilting and seductive voice.
“Yeah, we were bloody fantastic. So great you decided to sleep around. I can do better,” he retorted angrily.
A weight lifted from his shoulders as he become conscious of the fact that he no longer cared for Drusilla. She had smashed his heart to pieces when he’d walked into her dorm room on that fateful day. But now he was over it. He had moved on with his life. Even whilst he had been with Harmony he’d still felt closed off, was still burned by Dru. But now that was over.
An image of Buffy’s smiling face passed through his mind - the way her nose crinkled when she laughed, the way she moved on the dance floor - it all brought a sense of calm over him, and he realized he was right. He could do better than Dru.
Spike turned on his heel and stormed off towards the pool, leaving his ex-girlfriend staring after him in shock.
Spike walked from the locker rooms a different man. He was looking forward to seeing Buffy. Stepping onto pool deck he searched for her, eyes falling to her tiny form speeding through the water. A slow smile graced his features as he dropped his bag on the ground and flung his towel on the bleachers, diving into the cool water.
He stroked towards her, wondering how close he would get before she spotted him. Spike stroked down the pool towards Buffy, stopped when her head lifted from the water in surprise. Smiling as he moved closer, he met her half way down the length of the pool.
“Hey, Buffy,” he greeted warmly.
Buffy’s face turned stormy when she realized who it was and she turned from him, sprinting toward the other end of the pool.
Spike frowned, clueless as to what had just happened. He followed after her, having to drop his head beneath the water to avoid the wave of water her kicking feet sent towards him.
They reached the other end and Buffy was a little surprised to see he’d followed her. She began to lift herself from the pool when she felt his hand wrap around one of her ankles, and pull her back in.
“Buffy, what’s going on?” He was confused by how hostile she was being.
“Spike, leave me alone,” she snapped, pulling her leg free from his grasp.
He responded by grabbing one of her wrists, moving his other arm over the lip of the pool to support himself mirroring Buffy’s position.
“NO! Not until you tell me what’s wrong. Why are you acting this way?” he questioned.
Buffy tried to pull her hand free, but his grasp on her was strong. “Let me go now,” she demanded in a low tone. “Let me go or I’ll scream.”
Spike’s jaw dropped at her words, and the detestation he heard in her voice, forcing him to oblige and let her arm go. “Buffy…”
“Save it, Spike,” she spat over her shoulder as she boosted herself out of the pool, grabbed her bag and ran for the locker rooms.
“What the hell did I do?” he wondered out loud.
Buffy sat in her room cradling the phone. Inhaling deeply a few times, she dialed the number scrawled in her mother’s handwriting and listened as it began to ring… and ring, and ring. Her heart began to beat a little more fiercely and she was ready to hang up when she heard it connect at the other end of the line.
“Hi, it’s Buffy,” she finally responded.
“Oh, Buffy, hey,” a male voice replied.
“So ah, you called the other night.”
“Yeah. I was just worried, and I wanted to apologise. I heard a vague story about the other night.” His regret was obvious in his tone of voice.
“Riley,” Buffy almost whispered. “Where were you? I thought you were going to meet me there.”
He paused for a moment. “I was there in the beginning but then I had to leave. One of the brothers had to pick someone up at the airport, and since I was the only sober one…” he trailed off. “By the time I got back, you were already gone.”
Buffy wanted to believe him, she really did. “Why... why didn’t you tell me you were leaving, I would have come with you.”
Again he paused. “I saw you dancing with that blond guy in the leather jacket. And then when I got back you were already gone and was told you’d left with him.” He tried to control the jealousy he felt, but didn’t think he was hiding it very successfully.
“Well, what did you expect me to do? You weren’t there, I was all alone.” She felt the tears welling up in her eyes, lifting a hand to brush at them roughly.
“So you left with the first guy you found?” he retorted.
Buffy inhaled sharply. “I can’t believe you just said that, you didn’t just say that.”
Riley kept silent, aware that he had hurt her feelings. But he was hurt also and wanted an explanation from her.
“What did you expect me to do? Hang around after one of your brothers,” she spat with sarcasm, “tried to rape me?”
Now it was Riley’s turn to inhale sharply. “What, what did you say?”
“You heard me,” she answered bitterly.
“Oh god, Buffy.” Riley’s voice broke with emotion. “I had no idea… I wasn’t told… they told me that… that you left with some guy… and…”
Buffy didn’t know why, but she believed him. And she was shocked into silence by his words, by the emotion behind them.
“Yeah, I left with some guy. Spike. He’s on my swim team. He danced with me early on to stop a drunken guy from approaching me. I had one drink, and something must have been slipped into it because within thirty minutes I was almost out cold. The same drunk carried me up to his room.” Buffy voice quivered, and the tears rolled freely down her cheeks. “If it hadn’t been for Spike breaking into the room when he did…”
Her breathing was coming in short bursts and her sobbing was no longer silent. “So yes, I left with him, unconscious in the back seat of his car. He brought me home and looked after me until morning.”
“Oh god, Buffy,” Riley gulped when it came to him. He knew who it was. The brother in question had sported a shiny blue bruise underneath one eye, and had long scratch marks up one arm. Everyone else had brushed it away after he had blamed it on an over-eager female companion. He had bragged about his conquest. Riley clenched his jaw.
“I am so sorry. I don’t know what I can say, or do to make you not hate me for this. If I had been there…” he trailed off. “He’s going to pay for this.”
“Riley, I don’t think you being there would have changed things much,” she said quietly, wiping the drying tears from her face. “He’d been watching me all night.”
“You’re damned wrong about that!” Riley fumed. “If I’d been there he wouldn’t have come within thirty feet of you.”
“No, Buffy, he needs to pay for this. I-- I’m pretty sure I know who it is. I’m going to make a formal written complaint to the university, and the local law enforcement.”
“No, Riley!” Buffy interrupted. “I couldn’t. He would know it was me and I don’t want him coming after me again. I couldn’t take that… I…”
“Shh,” he shushed. “I’ll leave the police out of it, but it needs to be reported to the Dean. It can be anonymous.” He sighed. “And this isn’t the first time he’s attempted something like this, although last time his lawyers stepped in and paid off the girl. This will probably get him expelled.”
Buffy gulped. “But he would come after…”
“No, he won’t. I won’t let him come anywhere near you.” He promised. “He’s not a local anyway, and once he gets booted, he’ll have to move back home. To New Jersey.”
She sighed lightly. New Jersey… that wasn’t even remotely close to Sunnydale.
“Alright, but on one condition.”
“Oh-my-god,” Willow breathed. “He’s really doing that?”
The final bell of the day had just been rung, and Buffy had just finished retelling Willow of her conversation with Riley from the previous night. And what they had planned for this afternoon.
“So he’s going to get kicked out of school.”
“Probably,” Buffy interjected.
“No probably about it, Buffy, if he’s a repeat offender… that’s it. He’s gone. Across the country gone. That’s got to be a minor relief,” Willow asked hopefully.
“It is,” Buffy replied.
“So,” Willow probed. “What does Spike think of all this?”
Buffy shrugged her shoulders and her expression darkened. “Why should I care what he thinks?”
“Buffy,” Willow teased. “He cares about you. You know he does.”
Buffy’s expression softened slightly, before her mouth formed a straight line again. “He looked out for me, kept me safe. And I’m grateful for that. But he doesn’t care about me. If he did, he wouldn’t have had his hands and lips all over a brunette yesterday.”
Willow gasped in surprise. “Oh, Buffy, are you sure?”
Buffy raised an eyebrow in response.
“Maybe, she’s…” Willow was clutching at straws, trying to justify Spike’s behaviour.
“I don’t care what she is,” Buffy interrupted. She looked at her watch and realized that Riley was going to be waiting for her.
“Will, I gotta go. Update Xand for me?” She turned away from her friend and walked towards the parking lot before Willow could argue.
Willow watched after her friend, troubled by the news she had just been privy to. She knew Spike liked Buffy. She could see it in his eyes when he was around her. So why was there another girl around?
Willow jumped, a surprised squeak escaping her lips. “Spike! Don’t sneak up on people like that!”
A sly smirk passed over his lips as he gave her a second to calm her nerves. “You seen Buffy? I really need to talk to her. She didn’t turn up to English Lit this afternoon.”
Willow’s lips pursed, her brows furrowing. “Why do you want to talk to Buffy?”
Spike sighed. Whatever had pissed off Buffy yesterday, Willow had obviously been filled in on. “What’s she told you?”
Willow pursed her lips together and crossed her arms over her chest. “She doesn’t want to talk to you.”
“Red!” he snapped with exasperation. “Please, just tell me where she is.”
Shrugging her shoulders she answered bluntly. “She’s with Riley.”
Spikes jaw dropped. “Riley… what? She’s WHAT?”
Willow took a step back as Spike became enraged. “Why do you even care who she’s with? She’s not your girlfriend. You’ve got that brunette to keep you occupied.”
Spike’s expression turned stormy. “What brunette? Occupied? What the hell are you talking about, Willow?” he fired in quick succession, his voice low and dangerous.
“Hey! Don’t shoot the messenger. She SAW you. Yesterday, in the courtyard.” Willow frowned, holding her position.
“Courtyard?” Realization flickered across his face. “You mean Dru? She saw me and Dru?”
“I don’t know,” Willow snapped.
“Dru is my ex-girlfriend,” he clarified.
Willow froze for a second. “If she’s you’re ex-girlfriend, then why did you kiss her?”
“She kissed me!” he replied with frustration. “And I pushed her away, told her it wasn’t going to happen. Because I had feelings for someone else.”
Willow’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. “Feelings for someone else… someone… BUFFY!” she squeaked. “I knew it!” She bounced up and down on the spot. “I could so tell!”
A faint smile crossed his face. “Yeah, well you coulda given a guy a the heads up.”
Willow laughed. “Like you would’ve believed me.” Her expression became serious. “So what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” he responded truthfully.
“Well, I can tell you what’s happening this afternoon. Come with me.”