Chapter 16 - Home, Sweet Home
Buffy rubbed the towel over her upturned head, smiling when she thought over the day’s events. Spike had met her downstairs for breakfast, and they had been eating in a comfortable silence. That is, until Beth had joined them, chattering away excitedly about the most random of topics.
The rest of the team had soon joined them and they made their way together to the pool. They walked away with another five ribbons for the events they competed in that morning.
Buffy smiled when she remembered how Spike had picked her up and spun her around when she had won one of her solo events, the 200metre freestyle sprint. And now here she was, packing her duffel and waiting for the bus to arrive for their trip home. There was a knock on the door.
“The bus is here,” Coach Jones’ voice filtered through.
“Coming!” Buffy called, throwing her duffel over her shoulder and giving the room a once over to make sure she hadn’t left anything behind. She could hear her coach knocking on the next-door down, alerting Alicia and Carla that they had to leave.
Spike had managed to keep her mind off of her father’s ultimatum for most of the day, always finding something to tear her out of her thoughts. And she was more than grateful for it. If anything, it convinced her even further of how breaking up with Riley was the way to go. Buffy felt guilty, knowing she would be ending things with Riley immediately. He seemed like a decent enough guy and she really hadn’t given them a chance. But she was certain it was the right decision to make, especially after the last two days she’d spent with Spike.
Spike flashed Buffy a warm smile when she walked out of the elevator and into the lobby. A bright smile mirrored her own face when she saw him, walking over to his side before they both left the hotel and made their way to the bus.
Buffy climbed in first, and sat a few rows from the back just like on the ride up. In the quiet she found herself withdrawing into her thoughts, and her eyes glazed over again. Spike slumped down beside her a few moments later, noticing the look in her eyes. Taking one of her hands in his, he gave it a quick squeeze before leaning his hand against his leg, not letting hers go.
Buffy smiled and rested her head against his shoulder, preparing for the long drive home.
Buffy had slept part of the way back to Sunnydale, and for a while Spike had just sat there and watched her rest. She looked so peaceful, a hint of a smile gracing her face as she dozed. He wanted to protect her from her father; he had to find a way to allow her to stay in Sunnydale. A small part of him felt guilty for wanting her to stay, felt selfish for wanting to keep her in town so he could be near her. But he pushed that thought away. She wanted to stay.
They had talked for a while before she had drifted off to sleep, avoiding mentioning her father. And Riley… Spike thought with a frown.
He was certain Buffy had feelings for him. And as far as he was concerned, she should tell the frat boy to sod off. But she hadn’t even brought up his name, even when he had hinted about him in the conversation.
“So, you catchin’ up with everyone when you get home?” Spike inquired.
Buffy shrugged her shoulders. “Willow and Xander I’ll see at school. It’ll probably be just me and mom tonight.”
Spike sat silently in for a moment, before changing the topic, but not his motive for the questions.
“And after training on Monday night, you goin’ to need a ride home or is someone pickin’ you up?”
“Not sure yet,” she responded.
She had avoided talking about Riley. And that worried him.
Buffy shifted in her seat, and Spike kept his gaze fixed on her as she slowly woke from slumber. Her eyes fluttered open slowly a few times before she woke fully. She turned towards him, as if sensing his eyes on her.
Smiling shyly, Buffy sat up properly, moving herself off his shoulder and looking out the window. But she didn’t let go of his hand. Trees flew passed the window on her left as the bus drove through the outskirts of Sunnydale. They were getting close to the High School, close to home. She was looking forward to seeing her Mom.
Spike sighed in relief when ten minutes later the bus finally pulled up in the parking lot at school. Reluctantly removing his hand from Buffy’s, he grabbed his backpack and began walking off the bus.
Joyce Summers was waiting for Buffy anxiously, and Spike recognised her instantly. There was a striking resemblance between mother and daughter. He moved to collect his and Buffy’s larger bags from the under carriage, and handed hers to her as she got off the bus.
Buffy’s jaw dropped.
What is he doing here…? she panicked.
Spike caught Buffy’s look and followed her gaze. Walking up to stand beside her Mom was a tall, sandy brown haired guy.
Riley… he thought through clenched teeth.
“Buffy!” Joyce called to her daughter, waving her over.
Buffy walked towards her mother, and dropped her bag on the ground, immediately finding herself being swept up into her mother’s arms. She hugged her tightly, fighting back the tears that wanted to escape at the relief she felt to be home.
Spike walked up beside her, and Joyce frowned slightly. Buffy looked over at him, and blushed.
“Mom, this is Spike. Spike, this is my mom.” She took a deep breath. “And this is Riley.”
Riley tensed at the name. So this was the knight in shining armour who had saved Buffy at the party. Riley gave him a once over, not missing the way in which Spike had been looking at her moments ago. He took a second, before extending a hand out for him to shake. “Nice to meet you, Spike.”
Spike shook Riley’s hand, his expression hardening.
“Spike, I’ve heard so much about you,” Joyce exclaimed, smiling warmly. She too had seen the way in which the boy had been looking at Buffy.
Buffy blushed. “Mom…”
Joyce laughed. “Okay, so truthfully, all I know is you’re on the swim team, and that you drove my daughter home from practice one night. Which I am very grateful for,” Joyce added with a genuine smile. “Did you need a lift?”
From first impressions, Spike liked Joyce. “No thanks, Mrs. Summers. I’ve got my car here,” he said pointing to his Desoto.
“Great,” Riley spoke up. “The car is over this way, Buffy,” he continued, pointing in the opposite direction and holding out a hand for her.
Buffy blinked in surprise. “You came together?” she asked with a frown as she looked at her mother.
Joyce nodded. “Riley insisted on being here, he dropped by the house and offered to drive,” she added with a smile.
“I’ll bet,” Spike muttered. He waited for Buffy to make a move, waited for her to tell the Ponce to bugger off. But she didn’t. He clenched his jaw, his cheek bones jutting out even more sharply than normal when he saw Riley step forward to take Buffy’s arm. The college boy leaned towards her, placing a soft kiss on her lips, and she didn’t flinch away from him.
“Well, I’ve got somewhere to be. See you, Summers,” Spike said coolly as he turned on his heel and walked towards his car.
Buffy’s face fell a little when Spike walked off. She’d been caught off guard by Riley’s kiss and hadn’t had a chance to react. And now Spike was walking off. But it was probably for the best. First she would sort things out with Riley, and then at school tomorrow she would talk to Spike.
“Bye, Spike,” she called, but he was already halfway across the parking lot.
Buffy sat down on her bed and picked up the phone, dialling the number scrawled on the scrap of paper. Spike’s cell phone number. Tapping her free hand nervously on her bedside table, she waited for it to pick up at the other end.
Buffy’s shoulders relaxed when she heard his voice on the other end of the line. “Spike, it’s Buffy.”
Spike was surprised, but didn’t let her know that.
“About before… I didn’t have any idea that Riley was going to be there… I…” she explained, trailing off when words failed her.
“No need to apologise, Summers, I get it. Your boyfriend wasn’t with you and I was close by. Convenient,” Spike replied sarcastically.
“No, Spike, it wasn’t like that at all. I wasn’t going to tell you this yet, but…” she started to explain.
Wasn’t going to tell me what? Spike wondered when her words cut off suddenly.
“Buffy, your mom said dinner is ready.”
Buffy swivelled towards her door; Riley was standing just inside the door. She almost forgot that she was on the phone.
Spike heard the voice and clenched his jaw.
“Tell her I’ll be down in a minute. Thanks,” she said quietly as Riley nodded and turned to walk back down the stairs. Buffy turned her attention back to the conversation. “Spike, I--”
“Save it, Summers. Go have dinner with your boyfriend, he’s waitin’ for you,” he interrupted angrily.
Buffy sighed, placing the receiver in its cradle and going downstairs.
Spike paced his bedroom floor, kicking the edge of his bed as he walked passed it. Why did she affect him so much? The girl drove him completely insane. Just being around her this weekend had made him realize how much he liked her, how much he cared for her. When he’d kissed her his whole body had seemed to come to life. And when she had kissed him back, it had felt so right.
It was just a couple of kisses… it’s not like she’s your girlfriend… His subconscious told him, throwing what he had once said to her back in his face.
“Why didn’t you let her finish what she was goin’ to say, you stupid git?”
He kicked at his bed again.
He had to speak to her…
Picking up his keys off the nightstand he swept out of his room, muttering an explanation to his father who was reading in the lounge, before slamming the front door and running out to his car.
Buffy walked down the stairs slowly, meeting Riley at the bottom. He looked up at her questioningly.
“Is everything alright?” he asked, leaning forward to brush a few strands of hair off of her face, tucking them behind her ears.
Buffy closed her eyes, guilt washing over her. Riley had been so kind to her and she didn’t want to hurt him, but she had to do what she felt was right. He deserved someone who wanted to be with him, no reservations. Buffy had reservations. She’d developed feelings for Spike. Who knew if anything would come of them, especially after the way he had hung up on her. But she could do the right thing by Riley, and end things before they got too serious.
“No,” she replied quietly. “I need to talk to you about something.”
Riley took a deep breath, having a vague idea what they were going to talk about. “I’m listening.”
Joyce walked into the hall. “Dinner’s ready.”
Buffy turned quickly and nodded at her mother. “We’ll be right in.”
Joyce nodded and walked into the kitchen. She had sensed right away that something was up, and she just hoped everything was okay.
“After dinner?” Buffy suggested hopefully.
Riley nodded, following her as they walked into the kitchen.
Spike drove in circles around the town for almost half an hour before he finally turned around and started to head towards Buffy’s house. No time like the present…
The longer he delayed it, the more nervous he got. She had sounded so upset on the phone when he hadn’t let her finish, and his curiosity was getting the better of him.
Maybe this weekend wasn’t just about convenience…
Maybe she felt something for him, just as he felt for her. Her kisses had told him she had.
He turned down her street and parked his car across the road from her house, holding the steering wheel tightly for a few seconds before climbing out and walking towards Buffy’s home. A familiar green truck was parked in the driveway, and he balled his fists in anger, hesitating for a second before walking up the driveway.
“I’m really sorry,” Buffy apologized with shining eyes as she looked up at Riley.
Riley’s suspicions had been confirmed. I’m not sure I’m ready to be in a relationship… there is just so much going on in my life right now… it wouldn’t be fair to you…
He’d argued that he would wait, but that had only upset her further. Riley had a feeling that this Spike guy had something to do with it all. They’d spent the weekend together, and Riley hadn’t missed the looks the two had been giving each other before they’d noticed he was there in the parking lot.
Riley felt a jealous pang when he thought of that guy replacing him. They were on the same swim team; they were always going to spend lots of time together. Could he ever compete with that? Riley just hoped Buffy came to her senses sooner rather than later. He knew she hadn’t given them a real chance, but he did suppose it was better to get out before he started to feel deeply for her.
Riley raised a hand to wipe the tears away from her eyes as she opened the front door for him to walk through. “I’m okay, Buffy, really.”
Buffy was relieved, and she smiled softly as she stepped outside onto the porch with him.
Riley took her hand in his and brought it to his lips, pressing a soft kiss on it. “If you ever need anything, I’m just a phone call away.”
If you change your mind, I’m a phone call away…
Buffy nodded, blushing slightly when at the gesture.
Riley caught movement out of the corner of his eye, immediately recognizing the guy from her swim team, Spike, walking up the driveway. Smiling at Buffy, he leaned down to capture her lips in a gentle kiss, knowing that it wouldn’t be missed.
Buffy was once again caught off guard, but Riley ended the kiss pulled away before she could react. She looked up at him with surprised wide eyes as he let go of her hand.
“Goodnight, Buffy,” Riley bid farewell with a smile, stepping off the porch and walking towards his truck.
Spike stood frozen half way up the driveway, his expression hardening as the college boy’s stare flickered over him, a smug smile creeping across the taller guy’s face.
Buffy’s gaze followed Riley as he walked to his car, and her jaw dropped to the floor when she saw Spike, standing halfway up her driveway, his expression hard as he looked up at her.
Riley’s car backed out onto the street, the movement shaking Spike from the daze he had been in. He caught Buffy’s surprised gaze, and his expression turned stony as he turned around to walk back to his car.
“Spike!” Buffy called, jumping down the two stairs from the porch to the path, and running across the grass to catch up with him. She reached for his arm to stop him, but he shook off her hold.
“Spike!” she pleaded. “It’s not what you think.”
Spike whirled around, his eyes flashing with anger. “Really?” he asked sarcastically. “Because it looked pretty clear to me.”
Guilt flashed over her face as she tried to explain. “Spike… Riley and I were just talking.”
“And most people talk with their tongues shoved down the other person’s throat!” Spike retorted angrily. “Whatever, you know what, I DON’T care. I don’t know why I even bothered drivin’ over here.”
Buffy opened her mouth to object but he continued speaking.
“I should’ve known you were that sort of girl, lead a guy on then move to the next one. That explains Angel’s interest in you, he always was one to go for the easy ones,” he sneered.
Buffy eyes widened in shock at what he was saying to her, tears welling up in her eyes. “Spike, you know that’s not true. I’m not like that, why would you say --”
“Whatever,” Spike interrupted. “I was never that interested anyway, I was just tryin’ to see how far you’d let things go.”
The tears broke free from her eyes, spilling down her cheeks as she gasped in shock. He did not just say that!
Spike felt a stab of guilt when he saw how deep his words cut, but he quickly shook it off. He walked away from her, never looking back as he jumped into his car. It roared to life when he turned on the ignition and peeled off down the street, leaving Buffy behind crying on her front lawn.