Chapter 14 - Decided
The next morning Buffy rose from bed early and changed into her bathing suit. A clear head was what she needed, and nothing worked better than doing a few laps in a pool.
Soon reaching the floor where the gym was situated Buffy stepped off the elevator, making her way toward the pool deck. It wasn’t quite twenty-five meters long, but it was decent enough for a hotel of this size.
Dropping her bag on a bench, she removed her goggles from her bag before she turned and ran at the water’s edge, leaping into the air to dive deeply into the water. Clenching her eyes shut she mentally sighed as the cool water washed over her, swimming along the bottom of the pool until she surfaced near the other end.
What am I going to do…?
Her hair was loosely tied up into a ponytail before she slipped the goggles on over her head. Kicking up onto her back she stroked to the other end of the pool, tumble turned and came back again.
She’d never done anything like this before. Buffy wasn’t the kind of person who fooled around on a partner. A part of her wanted to blame Spike, if he wasn’t so darned impossible to resist then maybe…
No, it’s not just him. Buffy knew she was just as responsible as he was. She had kissed him back.
Images flashed through her mind causing her skin to burn with the memory of his caress. No one had ever had such an effect on her before. The few boyfriends she’d had in the past had not been serious, even though she’d had feelings for them, none of them had had this effect on her. Not Riley, not even that kiss with Angel compared to what she had felt last night. All Spike had to do was look at her in a certain way and she could feel her knees tremble.
The desire and need she felt for him had come so quickly it had scared her. Buffy had never been intimate with a guy before, yet after those few kisses last night she had wanted to strip Spike’s clothes from him. Even now the temptation to explore his body was overwhelming, the deviant side of her mind providing lots of little images in her minds eye of exactly what she could do to and with a body like that.
That was why she had run last night.
The need she could barely restrain, and also because of Riley. He was a sweet guy, but she knew now that it wouldn’t work. Not after Spike had woken this fire within her. I’ve made a decision then… she thought idly.
Once she got home she would break it off with Riley. She couldn’t continue to go out with him when she wanted to be with someone else. And Spike wanted her as badly as she wanted him; she had seen it in his eyes last night.
Making herself a promise that she wouldn’t let anything else happen between them until she returned home Buffy lifted herself out of the pool. No more kisses with Spike, not until she had broken up with Riley. She owed him that much.
Buffy shivered as she made her way to where she’d dropped her towel, quickly lifting it and wrapping it around her body. She was late for breakfast.
Buffy walked into the restaurant and instantly found her teammates seated around a long table. Moving quickly, she headed over to the buffet and served herself some bacon and eggs, reaching for a couple of pieces of toast before making her way to their table. I can do this… I have to be strong. Just don’t look in his eyes…
Spike looked up from his plate when he heard someone join the table, the light in his eyes brightening when the girl who occupied most of his waking thoughts took a seat opposite him.
Her hair was wet, clinging wildly to her neck and shoulders. The simple green of her shirt set off her eyes, and the denim jeans she wore clung in all the right places. She looked heavenly. “Buffy,” he murmured reverently, her name too quiet for anyone to hear.
“Hey, Buff!” Beth greeted chirpily. “What happened to you last night? I went up to the room after you left the restaurant and you weren’t there?”
Buffy blushed at Beth’s pointed question. “I went for a walk and lost track of time.”
Beth nodded, seemingly accepting the explanation. “And been for a swim this morning I see,” she teased, fingering some of the blonde’s wet hair.
Buffy just nodded again, and lifted a piece of toast from her plate, carefully avoiding Spike’s gaze.
Spike frowned when he noticed that she was looking everywhere but at him, so he returned his attention to his toast.
Of course, this was when Buffy snuck a look at Spike. A part of her wanted him to look up, wanting to see those beautiful blue eyes. But apparently he was captivated with his breakfast. Buffy sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy. Tucking into her own breakfast, she kept her gaze lowered as she listened to the excited chatter at the table. They had a few hours until the competition started and there was talk of going shopping to kill some time.
Buffy didn’t think anything special about shopping in LA, but that was probably because she used to be a native. The rest of the team weren’t. Withdrawing into her thoughts, she blocked out the conversations and focused on finishing her breakfast.
“Penny for your thoughts, luv?” Spike’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Hmm?” she looked up, and suddenly realized they were the only two left at the table.
“Where’d everyone go?” she asked, her voice betraying her surprise.
Spike chuckled. “They left ‘bout ten minutes ago. They said g’bye but you had seemed so interested in those bread crumbs.”
Spike studied her face closely, not missing the colour that was rising in her cheeks. “You have any plans for today?” he asked curiously.
Buffy shook her head quickly. “Been there, done that. Used to be an LA local remember? Figured I might catch up on some homework.”
“Bollocks to that!” he exclaimed. “We’re going out.”
“We’re what?” she repeated, startled by Spike’s enthusiasm.
Spike stood up at the table and reached over, taking her hand and lifting her to her feet. “Let’s go.” Before she had a chance to object, Spike led Buffy out of the restaurant and toward the hotel exit to the street.
Buffy tugged her hand from his grasp. “Spike…”
“Just come with me, please?” he pleaded.
Watching him closely for a second she finally relented, nodding once.
With a pleased smile Spike took hold of her hand again and led them both out onto the street. “Do you really want to be cooped up on a beautiful day like this?”
“Wow,” Buffy breathed as she looked out at the view that stretched before her. They were high up in the bluffs that overlooked LA, a mere twenty-minute drive from the hotel. The city stretched before her and after that the ocean.
“How’d you find this place?” she asked, finally tearing her gaze away from the vista and turning to find him watching her intently. Blushing, she turned back towards the city. “It’s beautiful up here,” she admired quietly.
“Yes, it is,” he murmured in response as he watched her in wonder. The sun was behind her, and it set off a sort of glow from behind, her hair looking even more golden in the light.
Tearing his thoughts away from the vision before him he finally answered her question. “I came up here with my Mum once, when I was younger. Whenever I’m in LA I come visit here, and just sit. I feel closer to her when I’m up here, you know?”
Buffy didn’t miss the pensive tone to his voice. He spoke of his mother as if she weren’t around anymore. “What happened to her?” she asked carefully as she turned to face him.
Spike’s face hardened as the memories surfaced. “Car accident, drunk driver… She didn’t even see him before it hit us.”
Buffy gasped. “I didn’t know, I’m sorry I--”
“It’s okay,” Spike interrupted. “You couldn’t have known.” He inhaled sharply before continuing. “She didn’t suffer. That much I’m thankful for.” A tear slipped down his cheek and he brushed it away quickly.
Buffy stepped towards him and lifted a hand to caress his cheek. “You were there, weren’t you?” she whispered.
He nodded rapidly. “I was in the back of the car. Got away with barely a scratch. They said if I’d been ridin’ up front I mightn’t ‘ave been so lucky. I was only twelve at the time.”
Spike clenched his fists at his side. “Sometimes, I just wish --”
“Don’t,” Buffy shushed as she traced her fingers down his jaw line until her hand rested on his chest. “She wouldn’t want that,” she pointed out, knowing exactly what it was he wished.
He nodded, blinking away the tears that threatened to escape. “Sorry,” he mumbled before laughing bitterly. “This wasn’t s’posed to be like this.”
“It’s alright,” Buffy replied. For a long moment she just watched him, wishing they could stay up here all day. But they couldn’t. “We should probably start heading back to the hotel,” she said reluctantly, showing him her watch.
Nodding again, Spike took her hand in his and led her back to the street.
“Take your marks.”
Buffy crouched over on the blocks and coiled her body, ready to spring.
The whistle sounded, and every muscle in her body tensed as she waited for the starter’s gun.
Buffy sprung from the starting blocks and propelled her body into the air, stretching towards the water. She hit the water kicking, and her lungs burned from the first long swim under the water. Pushing herself as far as she could, she finally broke the surface, her speed increasing as her arms began stroking above the water.
One, two, three, breathe.
One, two, three, breathe.
One, two, three, breathe.
… two, three, breath.
Spike watched Buffy power through the water with the rest of the team high up in the bleachers. Beth was standing up on her seat beside him, clapping her hands and cheering loudly for her team mate, much to Spike’s amusement.
“Go, Buffy!” she shouted.
Spike laughed at the girls’ enthusiasm. You can do it, Buffy… he urged. Keep going, luv…
Buffy tumbled at the wall, kicking off with all her might. From the corner of her eye she could see the person in the lane beside her inching slightly in front.
Oh, no you don’t…
She kicked ever harder, her feet moving at a blinding speed. A wake of white water shot out behind her as she pushed her body to its limits. Her lungs screamed for air and her muscles burned as she drew closer to the wall.
Almost there… a few more strokes… she urged herself on desperately.
One, two, three, breathe…
The wall could be seen ahead as Buffy dropped her head down into the water, sprinting as hard as she could for the last ten strokes without lifting her head again for air.
Buffy’s hand slammed into the wall, milli-seconds later her head surfacing as she gasped for much needed air. The noise hit her with the force of a truck, the screaming and cheering voices all blending into one. She turned to look up into the stands and found her team mates all clapping and cheering along with the crowd. Spike was smiling at her, and she returned the grin.
A whistle sounded, alerting her that all swimmers had touched, and she lifted herself from the water, her arms quaking with exhaustion. Wobbly legs carried Buffy to where she’d dropped her towel behind the blocks. Using a hand to lean against the wall for support as she bent over, she picked up and wrapped her towel around her hips. All she wanted to do was rest. Although her lungs were still burning from lack of oxygen during the race, her heart rate was slowly beginning to return to a more normal pace. As quickly as her weary muscles would allow, Buffy moved off the pool deck and towards the stands.
It had been her last race for the night, and she was relieved by the fact. Buffy didn’t think she could swim another stroke if her life depended on it. Slowly but surely she climbed the bleachers and reached her team mates, instantly finding herself drawn into a tight embrace by Beth.
“Oh my god, Buffy, you won!! Did you see?”
Buffy shook her head and looked over her shoulder at the scoreboard. In her fatigue she hadn’t even looked for her results. There it was, in black and white. Lane four, first place. She smiled a giddy smile, as Beth let her go and bounced off towards one of the other girls.
Coach Jones walked towards her star swimmer, stopwatch in hand. “You smashed your own P.B. by almost a second. Well done, Summers,” she clapped the young girl on the back in congratulations.
Buffy smiled tiredly and slumped into a seat.
Spike leaned down from behind her, whispering in her ear, “You were amazing, luv.”
Buffy whipped her head around to face him, her grin stretching to epic proportions. “I feel like I’m going to melt into a puddle of goo I’m so tired,” she confessed.
Spike just laughed as he gathered his bag. “Time to hit the showers.”
Buffy nodded and followed suit.
The team returned one by one to the stands, where their Coach was waiting with their ribbons. They had definitely cleaned up this year.
First place in the men’s medley relay, second in the freestyle relay and fourth in the butterfly relay.
Spike, Brian and J.D all gained individual ribbons for their solo events, three first place and two second place ribbons between them.
The girls had performed equally as well. Placing second in the freestyle, and third in both the butterfly and medley relays. Beth placed fourth in her individual backstroke event and Alicia third in the breaststroke.
But it was Buffy who had been the star performer, walking away with two first place ribbons, for freestyle and backstroke, and a second place for the butterfly.
“I think this calls for a celebratory ice-cream,” the coach announced, handing out the ribbons.
Beth squealed in excitement and the others all laughed.
“That sounds great, but I’ll have to take a rain check. I’ve got to meet my Dad for dinner,” Buffy announced.
Coach Jones nodded in acknowledgment. “Alright, we’ll see you back at the hotel later.”
The group slowly began walking towards the exits. Spike took Buffy’s arm and steered her towards an empty hallway. “You sure this is a good idea?” he asked with worry in his eyes.
Buffy nodded slowly. “I’ll be fine. If I don’t do this then he’ll follow me back to Sunnydale.” She looked at the floor. “He’s already threatened to fight my Mom for custody; he thinks she’s stopping me from visiting him.”
Spike clenched his jaw. “I’m coming with you.”
Buffy looked up, shaking her head quickly, her eyes wide. “No… don’t. That’s REALLY not a good idea.”
“Buffy, he can’t make you go and live with him,” he said quietly.
She laughed resentfully. “Tell that to his lawyers.” Her face relaxed when she saw how angry Spike was. “I’ll be fine… honest. As long as I visit him every now and then it’ll be okay. I’ll be able to live with my Mom. I’ll be eighteen in a few months, and then he won’t be able to threaten us anymore.”
Spike nodded. He dropped his bag on the ground and bent over to search through its contents. Finding a pen he ripped off the corner of the events schedule for the swim meet, and scribbled something down. Picking up his bag, he stood up and handed the piece of paper to her.
“That’s my cell phone number. If anything, anything starts bothering you; excuse yourself to the toilet and find a payphone. Promise me you’ll call me if you need help,” Spike insisted.
Buffy accepted the piece of paper, and slipped it into her jeans pocket. “I promise.”
Spike drew her into his arms, holding her tightly. Buffy closed her eyes, feeling safe in his embrace. Finally releasing her, Spike pressed a soft kiss to her forehead and turned to walk back to the hotel with the rest of the team. Buffy watched him leave, before heading in the other direction.