Chapter 15 - Spiteful
“All I’m saying is you could have gotten one of your team mates to take your bag with them,” Hank snapped.
Buffy nodded, and dropped her gaze to the tabletop. She had only been sitting at their table for five minutes, and already she wanted to leave. Her dad’s girlfriend had been unavailable to meet them tonight, something she was mildly thankful for. It being just the two of them, there was no one else to take some of her father’s attention away from her, which meant the critical comments were laid on a little thick. And he wonders why I don’t want to live with him…
“How is your mother?” Hank asked with feigned interest.
Buffy’s eyes snapped up from her plate, anger rising in her as she bit back the words she so desperately wanted to throw in his face. Why would you care? You left us remember?
“She’s fine. Busy with the gallery,” she responded in an even tone.
“Not too busy to look after you, I hope. Perhaps I should come down there --” Hank began, frowning.
“No!” Buffy cut him off. “We’re doing fine. Her workload is big but she never neglects me,” she added, stretching the truth slightly. It wasn’t her mother’s fault that she had to work late nights occasionally. It was his. Buffy clenched her fists beneath the table, as she plastered a fake smile across her face.
“Let’s order shall we?” she suggested, picking up the menu.
Spike paced his room. She promised she’d call… and she hasn’t so she’s fine… he told himself.
Flopping onto his bed, he switched on the television and tried to distract himself with the movie that was showing. But it wasn’t working. All he could think about was Buffy.
“So what are your plans for next year? Which colleges are you applying for?” Hank asked between mouthfuls of his steak.
“I haven’t decided exactly, but I have a few places in mind,” Buffy answered truthfully. All she knew was the school she finally decided on would have to have decent pool for her to swim in, and hopefully a swim team. She would apply on a scholarship of course; she didn’t want to burden her Mother with tuition fees.
“Well you really should start sending applications out Buffy,” Hank chastised. “I’ll speak to Howard over at admissions office LAU and see if there is anything I can do to --”
“No,” Buffy interrupted. “That’s not necessary.”
“Buffy, if you think I’m going to pay for you to go to some lousy little college so you can be near your friends, then you’ve got another thought coming. No daughter of mine is going to waste her college years away in some dump,” he said pointing his hand at her as he spoke.
“What I meant, is I’m applying for scholarships,” Buffy tried to explain.
“Nonsense,” Hank admonished. “Now, let us finish our dinner and then we’ll order some desserts.”
Buffy ate the rest of her meal in silence.
Spike paced his bedroom in silence, occasionally opening the door and sticking his head out into the corridor to see if she had returned. Every time he found the hall way empty. Frustrated didn’t begin to explain how he felt right now.
Buffy had promised. If something was wrong she’d call. There’d been no call.
So why was he getting himself so worked up with worry?
“But…” Buffy struggled to find words. “Mom needs me.”
“And I don’t?” Hank reached for his wine glass, finishing the last few drops before signalling a waiter for a refill. “You know I never wanted you to move to that pathetic little town.”
Hank certainly wasn’t sugar-coating his opinion that was for sure. Buffy didn’t know why she was surprised; her father had always been domineering and commanding. Bastard was a choice word that came to mind, not that Buffy would ever have the courage to call him that out loud. The one time she’d sworn at him as a child, Buffy had been left with a red handprint on her face for two days that’s how hard her father had slapped her.
“I want to stay in Sunnydale.” Try as she might, she couldn’t manage to keep the tremors from her voice. “I won’t ask you for money for college, and if I apply at UCSD then I’ll be close enough that I can live at home with Mom.”
Buffy’s father despised renting. He hated to think of his hard earned money paying off someone else’s mortgage. Hence the finance tactic she was trying in the conversation. She was hoping her money saving ideas would get her on his good side, and could help to convince her father that she was old enough to make decisions for herself.
“Your mother couldn’t afford to buy the place and if that gallery she’s working at fails like I expect it will, she’ll have to move into something more… compact.” Hank smiled arrogantly. “Who do you think paid the deposit Buffy?”
Her jaw dropped. Buffy hadn’t known this, why hadn’t her mother told her? Shaking away the thoughts for a later time, she came forward with another suggestion. “I could get a job, to help Mum with bills, and --”
“You will not be sacrificing your education just because your mother can’t manage money. When you come out here to live next year, I’ll help her out.”
Buffy shook her head adamantly. “No, dad, I want to stay. I can --”
“Are you answering me back, girl?” Hanks face was red with fury. This argumentativeness obviously came from spending so much time with Joyce. Well, he was going to put a stop to that. “You will be living in LA with me, and that’s final.”
Seeing that Buffy was about to object again, Hank interrupted. “My name is on half of the papers for that house in Sunnydale, you do not want to make me angry.”
Buffy blinked away the tears that threatened to fall.
“Do you understand what I’m saying, Buffy?” Hank questioned seriously.
A bell-dinged, sounding that the elevator had just stopped on his floor and Spike threw the door open, taking a couple of steps into the hallway.
Buffy exited the elevator; her shoulders slumped in defeat, her eyes glistening with unshed tears as she stared at the floor.
“Buffy!” Spike called in relief as he jogged towards her. He took her bag from her, throwing it over his shoulder. He instantly noticed the tears shining in her eyes, and reached for her chin, lifting her face up to his. “Buffy, what’s wrong?”
Buffy let out a sob and threw herself into Spike’s arms. Spike walked her back to his room, steering her towards the bed and sitting her down on the edge as he got up to close the door to give them some privacy. Placing the bag on the floor, he joined her, sitting down beside her. Once again he tilted her face towards his.
“Talk to me, luv,” he whispered softly.
“He-- he’s going to make me move back to LA,” she said between sobs.
Spike’s face blanked. “He’s what?”
“For college. He’s spoken to some friend of his, who has basically shot down every college I said I was applying for, even the ones outside of Sunnydale. He’s going to make me apply at LAU, and a couple of Ivy League schools.”
Spike didn’t know what to say. All he knew was that he couldn’t make her do that. “Pet, he can’t make you leave Sunnydale if you don’t want to. Like you said, you’ll be eighteen soon, he won’t be able to make you leave then.”
“Yes, he can,” Buffy replied sadly. “The house… my house… he helped Mom to buy that. His name is on some of the paperwork, and if I don’t apply where he wants me to, and move back to LA and live with him, he’s going to sell it from under her.”
She dropped her head into her hands. “So you see? It doesn’t matter that I’ll be eighteen soon. If I don’t do as he demands, my Mom isn’t going to have a place to live.”
Buffy leaned against his shoulder, sobbing into her hands.
Spike held her tightly, his jaw clenching in anger. He wanted nothing more than to beat the living daylights out of her father for pulling a stunt like this. “Shhh. It’s all right, pet. We’ll figure something out,” he promised. “You won’t have to leave if you don’t want to.”
Buffy looked up at him, her eyes brimming with more tears ready to fall. He traced his fingers across her cheek, wiping the fallen tears away as he looked down at her.
Buffy didn’t even think about what she was doing as she tilted her head upwards, seeking out his lips. She captured them with her own and kissed him gently, her shoulders shaking from the sobs that were trying to escape.
Spike broke away from the kiss a moment later, holding her protectively. She was hurting, and needed comfort. He didn’t want things to go somewhere they wouldn’t have if not for these circumstances. “You should probably get some rest,” he suggested regretfully. He didn’t want her to leave, but he knew that it was the right thing to do.
“You’re right,” she sighed, wiping at her face as she slowly stood.
Spike stood with her, drawing her to him for one last quick hug, pressing a gentle kiss in her hair. “It’ll be okay. You’ll see.” He dropped his arms from around her. “Goodnight, pet.”
Buffy turned and left his room, closing the door quietly.
Headlights flashed through the side window, the brightness blinding as William turned toward the sound of screeching tires on asphalt.
A warning scream…
The crunch of metal against metal…
The long drone of a horn…
Spike sat up abruptly, gasping for breath as remnants of the dream latched claws into his conscious thought, refusing to fade as most dreams did upon waking.
It was dark within his hotel room and it took a few deep breaths and the flick of a light switch before he realized where he was. The dream had been so real… so vivid. Except it wasn’t a dream, it was a memory. Two silent tears trailed down his cheeks as he flopped back against his pillows.
The events of that night hadn’t visited Spike in sleep for quite a long time and generally speaking, when it did it wasn’t without reason. In fact, when he thought about it long and hard, the last time he’d dreamed about the accident was those first few weeks after Drusilla had broken his heart. Only when his world was crumbling down around him, did the vision of his dead mother in the driver’s seat of car haunt him so.
However life at the moment was pretty good. Relations between Spike and his father were good, his training was going well and even the teachers at school had been keeping off his back. So what had worried him enough to return the memories from that night like a ghostly spectre?
That rat father of hers was going to take her away from him.
“Like to see him bloody well try,” Spike muttered into his pillow, rolling over to find a more comfortable position. He’d made a promise to Buffy that they’d find a way to allow her to stay in Sunnydale.
And that was a promise he intended to keep.
In her room, Buffy had wrapped herself up in a little ball beneath the covers, arms wrapped protectively around her knees. A pillow muffled her more vocal cries while tears ran unbidden down her cheeks and onto the sheets.
Buffy didn’t want to live in LA, it would mean leaving too many things behind in Sunnydale.
Willow and Xander.
With a vocal sob Buffy clenched her eyes shut, crying herself to sleep.