Chapter 11 - Despair
Buffy walked out of the Dean’s office, Riley’s arm wrapped protectively around her shoulder. She’d done it, formally reported what had happened. And it felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She exhaled slowly; releasing the tension she no longer had to bottle up. Resting her head against Riley’s shoulder the pair walked through the exit doors of the building and out onto the street.
It was dark. She hadn’t realized how long they had been in there: obviously it had been a longer meeting than it had seemed.
Spike was leaning against a wall to the side of the buildings entrance when he heard the doors open. Finally… he thought. He’d tried to get inside, go into that meeting, but they wouldn’t let him.
He stepped one foot forward and froze at the sight he saw. Buffy was leaning against Riley, the college boy’s arm slung around her as he led them to his truck. Spike watched in silence as they climbed into the vehicle.
The sound of the engine revving as the truck pulled away woke him from the daze, and he moved a whole two footsteps towards the vehicle before it took off down the street.
She hadn’t even seen him.
The rest of the week went by in a blur. Buffy caught up on her homework and assignments that she’d missed due to starting school a few weeks into the year. Training was going well—her sprint times were improving marginally—and the coach was happy with her results. Free time had been spent with her friends, and bit-by-bit Buffy began to feel like her old self again. The previous night she, Willow and Xander had gone to the movies. And now it was Friday. It had come so fast, the week a haze of activity. Tonight she was meeting Riley at the Bronze for their first official date.
They’d spoken on the phone every night since the meeting with the Dean. He’d picked her up from swim practice on Wednesday night and driven her home. That night the two of them had talked for almost an hour in the driveway, and he it was then that he’d asked her out… as his girlfriend.
Buffy had been flabbergasted, she was pretty sure her jaw hit the floor when he had told her that he wanted to be with her. Before she could think it over Riley had leaned forward, kissing her lightly before pulling back and looking deeply into her eyes. He looked so hopeful, and nervous all at once. It was endearing. When she’d said yes, he’d drawn her forward into a tight embrace, prompting Buffy to laugh.
He had promised that he would make her so happy, and to that Buffy had just smiled.
Now it was Friday. Buffy walked toward her final class of the day, turning the last corner in a hurry and crashing into someone walking quickly in the other direction. Her books flew from her hands and spilled across the floor.
She dropped to her knees and began scooping them up, apologizing as she went.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going.” A moment later she lifted her gaze from the floor to find that she was alone in the hallway.
A door opened behind her and she turned to see it closing. Rude much…
Frowning she continued to pick up her books and quickly made her way to class. Willow waved to her when she entered the room, and Buffy smiled as she weaved through the desks. She kept an expression of nonchalance at the sight of Spike’s empty seat beside her, but she silently wondered where he was.
She had barely seen him all week.
And she didn’t know why she cared. She was still angry about the situation she had caught him in with that brunette in the courtyard. If she was truthful with herself, she was a little hurt by it as well.
Why, Buffy? You’ve got a boyfriend now… her subconscious reminded her. She gave in. She really didn’t have a reason to stay angry with him. So he had kissed that brunette girl, it didn’t matter. She had a boyfriend now.
Spike pressed himself up against the wall of the empty music room, and took a deep breath. He couldn’t believe he’d run. He’d accidentally crashed into Buffy in the hallway, in a way not too dissimilar to how they had first met. Except this time he hadn’t stuck around.
He caught a flash of her blonde hair, heard her voice and ran for cover to the closest room he could find. Why on earth did I run? Whatever it was possessed him to hightail it out of there, Spike had no clue. Maybe it was the shock of seeing her after playing the avoidance game for the last few days. Ever since he’d seen her with Riley.
“I’m a bloody fool,” he muttered to himself. I should’ve talked to her.
Clenching his jaw Spike bashed his closed fist against the door, causing items on a shelf beside it to rattle. Taking a deep breath he walked out of the music room and headed towards the exit to the front of the school.
Buffy entered the Bronze awash with nerves. And she didn’t know why. It was a date, something she’d been on many times before. And Xander and Willow were going to be there as well, but still she was nervous. Her friends knew Riley would be joining them tonight, but Buffy hadn’t yet told them he was now officially her boyfriend.
Sub-consciously she ran her fingers through her hair, making sure it was behaving. Having decided against putting it up tonight she’d let it dry naturally after her shower, a slight wave coming through. Make-up was kept to a minimum as usual, light mascara and a hint of eye shadow matched to the deep green of her halter.
It was fitted around the bodice, and flowed lightly down to her hips. The bodice itself was beaded intricately around the keyhole that was cut out, the top shining when the beads caught the light. It was a little dressier than she would normally go for, so she’d matched it with a pair of tight fitting pale blue denim jeans that flared out from the knee, and a pair of black boots to make it more casual.
She kicked herself for not wearing a jacket as she’d walked to the club, but soon remembered why she’d decided against it when she stepped inside. It was a muggy heat, the warmth caused by a combination of a weak air-conditioning system and the sheer amount of people who had turned up tonight for the live show. The band—Dingoes Ate My Baby—was apparently very popular with the locals. Buffy had heard them play once and thought their reputation was well warranted.
She walked passed the pool tables, and toward the regular table where Xander and Willow were both waiting, deep in conversation.
Xander looked over Willow’s shoulder, noticing Buffy as she walked toward them and caught his breath as he took in her appearance. He realized it wasn’t likely that anything would happen between the two of them, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate her. Nor would he stand by and let any guy step in and easily sweep her away. They would have to prove themselves worthy, something he’d not yet seen.
Willow frowned at Xander’s distracted gaze and turned to see what, or who, he was looking at. Spotting Buffy a smile spread across her face.
“Hey, Buffy! You look great!”
“Yeah, Buff… you look… amazing,” Xander agreed.
Buffy smiled as she sidled up to her friends, sitting between them on the free stool. “Thanks! You two look great as well.”
Xander was dressed it dark khaki’s and a cream shirt. A much tamer outfit than she normally found him in. And Willow was wearing a deep blue shirt that had a scoop neck, and a pair of tan pants. Her hair was out, and Buffy noted that she was even wearing a little make-up. She wondered what the occasion was.
“So, Buffy, what time is Riley getting here?” Willow asked curiously.
“Yeah, when’s Captain Cardboard going to make his appearance,” Xander asked dryly.
“Xander!” Buffy scolded, swatting at his arm. “That’s my boyfriend you’re talking about there.”
“Boyfriend?” Xander’s jaw dropped. “Since when and why wasn’t I…”
Willow nudged him in the ribs.
“Why weren’t we, told about this?”
Buffy blushed. “I’m sorry, guys, it’s kind of a new development. Tonight will be our first official date. I was going to tell you. And I thought you guys liked him. Riley is a really sweet guy… and...”
“You don’t need to sell how great he is to me, Buff. I’m just looking out for you, you know that,” Xander said with a smile. “Just next time keep us informed, okay?”
“It’s a deal,” Buffy grinned. “So… tell me, what have we been talking about?”
Spike scanned the floor from his elevated position on the catwalk. He didn’t even know why he was here; he knew she would probably be here with him. Willow had been on his back all week to talk to her, even after he told her it was hopeless. He’d even informed the redhead about the collision in the hallway when he’d bumped into her after school today. But she wouldn’t take no for answer, practically ordering him to be here and for some strange reason he’d listened to her.
His eyes floated over the entrance, waiting for her to arrive. So far he’d been standing up here in the shadows, growing consistently more bored the longer he waited and she didn’t appear.
Spike’s breath caught in his throat and his heart instantly beat faster when Buffy entered through the door, her long blonde hair bouncing lightly around her shoulders as she walked towards her friends. She looked… beautiful. Keeping to the shadows above, he observed the trio of friends as they joked and laughed together.
His sharp eyes scanned the crowd for the college boy and he was pleasantly surprised to find him a non-attendance. Spike gathered his confidence with a deep breath; it was now or never.
Finally moving, he made his way down a set of stairs, keeping his gaze on her as he approached the group. He caught Willow’s line of sight, and she nodded slowly, a move-your-sorry-ass-or-else look in her eyes.
Spike walked up to the table, coming to stand behind Buffy. The scent of her shampoo mixed with vanilla teased him as he breathed her in. Reaching out he placed one hand gently on her shoulder to alert her of his presence.
Buffy tensed at the surprise contact on her shoulder, and turned to see who it was.
“Hey,” he greeted the group, smiling lightly at Buffy when she turned toward him. His heart pounded in his chest as he waited for her to react, relaxing when he saw her face soften.
“Hey, yourself,” she greeted.
“Hey, man,” Xander acknowledged. He looked from Spike to Buffy and back again, before shooting a confused look in Willow’s direction. Willow had an excited grin on her face, and she nodded furiously at Xander’s confusion. The penny dropped and his mouth formed an O. Not wanting Xander to put his foot in his mouth, she stood up reached for his hand.
“Xander and I are going to dance,” she informed Buffy and Spike, dragging the dumbfounded brunette onto the dance floor before he could object.
“What was that about?” Xander asked when they were a safe distance away, dancing to the music.
Willow rolled her eyes. “Just giving Spike and Buffy a nudge is all.”
“And what about Riley?” Xander questioned.
The colour left her face. “Oh, crap!”
Real smooth Red… Spike thought as he saw the grin she flashed him as she dragged Xander away to the dance floor. Suddenly feeling a little awkward, he stepped around Buffy and moved onto the seat beside her. “Hey,” he said again.
Buffy felt awkward, and dropped her gaze to her hands as she fiddled with the hem of her halter. Finally she looked up at him. “Spike, why weren’t you in class this afternoon?”
He was surprised by her question, but silently thrilled that she had noticed his non-attendance. She was aware of my absence… that’s a start…
“Another meeting with Snyder,” he informed quietly.
The silence between them was deafening. Spike watched as she fidgeted with her top and flicked her gaze over the table, her hands, his knee, and the floor.
“You look beautiful,” he complimented. And she did. He wanted nothing more than to sweep forward, wrap his arms around her and…
Buffy blushed under his scrutiny. “Thanks.”
Spike could see how nervous she was, and he didn’t want to mess things up before they even had a chance to begin. He reached out for one of her hands, holding it in his and giving it a reassuring squeeze. “You wanna dance?” he asked a little shyly.
Buffy saw the uncertainty in his eyes and felt a faint smile float across her features. “Okay.”
Spike stood up, lacing his fingers with hers as he drew her onto the dance floor. As if on cue, the tempo of the music shifted, a slow song playing throughout the club. Couples paired up, pressing against each other as they swayed to the music.
Buffy kept an awkward distance between the two of them, as she looked around at all the other dancing couples, suddenly feeling out of place.
Spike saw the expression on her face, saw the hesitation and knew she was thinking of running. Taking one step forward he wrapped his arms around her before she could leave. Her body went rigid for a moment before she began to relax, her arms snaking around his neck. When Buffy rested her head against his chest Spike breathed in her scent deeply.
They held each other closely as they danced, moving as one to the music. Buffy sighed as she relaxed into his arms, all thoughts escaping her mind.
The song peaked and slowly came to an end. Spike held onto her for a moment longer, before reluctantly releasing his grasp enough that she could leave if she wished. But she didn’t make a move to step away.
He looked down at her, lifting one hand from her hip to beneath her chin, tilting her head up towards him. Buffy didn’t resist his guidance, her green eyes meeting his deep blue ones. Shock washed over her as she read his thoughts in those eyes, seeing that look of longing. Her own eyes widened with realization a second later when she saw his face dipping towards hers.
“Oooh! Look!” Willow exclaimed excitedly, all thoughts of Riley pushed from her mind as she saw Spike inching closer to Buffy. It wasn’t too late for him to make a move. Just like Buffy had said, she and Riley was a new thing. It wasn’t set in stone… right?
Xander rolled his eyes at Willow’s reaction, but watched on with intrigue and the smallest amount of jealousy.
Spikes lips captured Buffy’s with a softness that was impossible to describe, his lips ghosting over hers light as a breath of wind. His heart soared when she didn’t resist, if anything she relaxed to his touch. His arms wrapped more tightly around her, pulling her flush against him as he parted his lips. His tongue darted out from the cocoon of his mouth, lightly running the length of her plump bottom lip, begging for entrance.
For the briefest of moments Buffy lost herself in that kiss. It just felt… right. Her mouth parted to give entrance to Spike’s tongue and that was the moment her brain kicked into gear.
Buffy’s eyes snapped open and she tore her lips from his, pushing her hands against Spike’s chest to break from his embrace.
She raised a hand to her mouth, touching it lightly as she tried to process what had just happened, not understanding how she had let it. “Oh, my god,” she whispered, turning away from him.
Spike felt her wrench away from him, and his eyes blinked open as the heat of her flesh abandoned his. Her back was turned to him and he reflexively reached out for her, grabbing her wrist to turn her to face him.
“Buffy?” That one word, her name, expressed all the confusion and hurt he felt.
“Spike, don’t,” Buffy pleaded, pulling her hand from his grasp. “Please, just leave me alone.”
“Buffy, what --”
“Spike, I’m supposed to be meeting Riley. I shouldn’t have let you --”
“Riley,” he interrupted, speaking through clenched teeth. Apparently his earlier thoughts had been correct. He threw his hands in the air in frustration. “You’re unbelievable you know that?”
“Hey!” she snapped. “I don’t owe you anything. I never should have let that happen.”
“Why?” he demanded. “Because of College Boy.”
Buffy glared, crossing her arms over her chest. “Riley is a nice guy,” she defended. “At least he’s been honest with me.”
“He’s been honest? And how exactly have I been dishonest, please, do tell me.”
“Riley isn’t the kind of guy that flirts with someone behind the back of his girlfriend,” Buffy retorted.
“Neither do I!” he exclaimed. “Do you really think that I’m that sort of person? I told you that I wasn’t with Harmony anymore.”
“Not Harmony. Some brunette, I saw you, in the quad the other day,” Buffy snapped angrily. Before he could answer she turned away and began walking towards the bar to get away from him.
Spike caught up with her, spinning her to face him. “She’s not my girlfriend. Dru and I used to go out, but we’re not together anymore.”
“Well for exes you two seemed to be very friendly with each other,” she retorted sarcastically.
Spike glared at her. “Jealous are we, Summers?”
The instant the words left his mouth he wished he could take them back.
Buffy looked like she had been slapped. She resisted the urge to hit him as he fumbled to make an apology.
“Buffy, I didn’t mean --”
“I would never be jealous. Not over you. You’re nothing to me.” Buffy turned and fled from him and pushed her way through the crowd.
Her words stung him, freezing him to the spot. She had yelled at him before, and they’d exchanged nasty words to with each other before, but that was as strangers. Her words now were filled with spite. When Spike finally reacted and stepped forward to follow her through the crowd, she was out of sight.
“Buffy!” he called, his voice drowned out by the music.
She was gone.
“Damn it!” he cursed. He didn’t know how he had managed to mess it up but he had. He thought Red had spoken to Buffy about Dru. Pivoting on the spot, he scanned the crowd before he spotted the offending girl and moved toward her.
Xander and Willow looked up as Spike approached. They’d witnessed the scene between Spike and Buffy but had no idea what had caused it. One second they were leaning toward each other for a kiss, and a second later they appeared to be exchanging heated words, before Buffy took off.
Willow saw the look on Spike’s face. “Uh oh…”
“I thought you spoke to her about Dru,” he demanded as he joined the pair.
The colour washed from Willow’s face. “Oh god, Spike. I--I completely forgot,” she stuttered.
Spike looked like a coiled spring, ready to bounce out at any second. A few seconds later, he calmed himself down, and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Doesn’t matter.”
“Spike,” Willow called tentatively. “Where’d she go?”
“She walked out of the club,” he answered. He saw the worried looks Xander and Willow shared and instantly demanded to know what was going on. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“Buffy’s Mom is out of town again this weekend,” Xander informed. “She’ll be walking home.” He paused for effect. “Alone.”
The colour drained from Spike’s face when he thought of something happening to her. “I’ll find her,” he assured, quickly turning away from the duo and rushing towards the exit.
“But, Spike, there’s something you should know,” Willow called after him.
But he was already gone.