Chapter 17 - Tit-for-Tat
Buffy woke up the next morning with puffy eyes. Climbing out of bed she headed for the shower, hoping that the water would wash away some of the sadness she felt. But all it did was turn her fingers pruney. It also did little to help hide the obvious signs of shed tears.
She dressed simply in a navy long sleeved polo shirt and jeans, only applying a little eye makeup to disguise her red eyes. The last thing she wanted to do was go to school, the thought of running into Spike, and him ignoring her, enough to make a girl long to crawl back into bed.
Last night hadn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs after Spike had tore off on her. After giving her mom a brief run down of her breakup with Riley, and filling her in on her successes at the swim meat—not to mention the disastrous dinner with her father—Buffy had excused herself to go upstairs and sleep.
She had immediately called Willow to repeat everything she had just informed her mom, filling in a few details extra about Spike, like how they had kissed in LA. That was a small fact she hadn’t divulged to her mother. After her father’s cheating, the last thing Buffy wanted was for her Mom to think she was like her father.
Buffy had also tried Spike’s cell phone a few times, but he’d ignored her calls.
She was dreading going to school today and seeing him. She had even thought about playing hooky and pretending to be sick to get herself out of school. The small consolation of having Willow and Xander there for any suspected badness, and knowing that she would have to go back eventually, forced Buffy to realize there was no sense in hiding. She walked out of the house with bolstered courage.
That courage dissipated the moment she arrived at school.
Spike’s car was already parked, meaning he was definitely there today.
“Have a nice day, honey,” Joyce fare welled.
“I’ll try,” Buffy mumbled.
As she walked towards her locker she realized that people were looking at her. Staring at her in fact. At first she thought that Spike must have said something and somehow word had gotten around. That was until a member of the basketball team approached her, clapping her on the back.
“Way to go at the swim meet!”
Buffy frowned in confusion.
“Coach Jones put the results up on the notice boards, everyone knows how well the team swam, and you!” he exclaimed. “You’re Buffy Summers right? You wiped the floor with those other swimmers!”
Buffy relaxed, giggling at the excited gestures the guy was making.
“The name’s Percy. You can hang with me and mine whenever you like,” he informed, quickly giving her a head to toe once over.
Buffy blushed, but nodded. “Thanks. It was nice to meet you, Percy.”
When Percy left Willow bounded over and threw her arms around her from behind. “Oh my god, everyone knows how much butt you kicked on the weekend. The WHOLE school is buzzing about you and the rest of the team!”
Buffy laughed, her anxieties about Spike slowly fading as the two girls chatted on their way to their lockers. Xander soon joined them and he too offered his congratulations, picking Buffy up and spinning her around in a circle.
Just like Spike did yesterday at the pool…
She pushed the thought away as they made their way to the first class.
Spike had seen Buffy enter the school, and watched on as several people approached her with congratulations for her efforts in LA. He had felt a twinge of jealousy when Percy had gone over to her. Spike wasn’t blind; he had seen how the basketball player had checked her out.
And she didn’t even notice. No wonder she gets herself into trouble, she doesn’t even realize the effect she has on people…
He’d thought about telling Percy to back off, but changed his mind. He was going to keep as far away from her as possible.
Harmony, Cordelia and Devon had soon approached him and he walked with them to class.
Things had gone smoothly for the morning, no Spike related incidents, which Buffy was thankful for. But now it was lunchtime. And Buffy knew she would probably see him in the cafeteria. Willow saw the worried look on her friend’s face and grabbed hold of her hand, giving it a quick squeeze before they entered through the double doors.
Buffy couldn’t help looking towards his table, and immediately wished she hadn’t. Spike was lounged back in a chair, talking with the other people at his table. And Harmony was sitting in his lap, her hands running all over his face and chest.
Buffy inhaled deeply and made her way to her table, sitting down quickly, feeling her cheeks burn. The sight of that bimbo all over Spike made her want to cry and retch at the same time.
“Buffy, he’s probably just upset. You didn’t get to tell him did you?” Willow suggested hopefully.
Buffy nodded sadly. “It doesn’t matter. He’s not going to listen to me.”
The two girls had brought their lunch from home today and opened up their brown paper bags, swapping items before munching down on their food.
Xander soon joined them, and instantly noticed their deflated moods. “Why the long faces girls?” he asked as he sat down with them, biting into a candy bar of some sort.
Willow had given Xander the short version of what had happened at the weekend before school today, leaving out a few details; namely the kisses Buffy and Spike had shared. But she did tell him about how Spike had come to Buffy’s aid with her father, and how they’d been getting along. Xander hadn’t hidden his happiness at hearing that Buffy had broken up with Riley, even though he knew that the two of them would share nothing but friendship.
“Spike’s ignoring Buffy,” Willow filled in, answering Xander’s question.
“And that skank is pawing all over him,” Buffy added quickly.
Willow’s eyes widened in surprise and Xander’s broke into a wide grin. “MEOW, Buffy! Someone’s got their claws out,” he said with a laugh, then his face fell when realization hit home. “I did not just say that,” he groaned. “Could I sound any gayer?”
Buffy laughed and Xander grinned, glad his little ploy had succeeded. But her smile faded when they heard Harmony’s annoying laughter filter across the room, an ‘Oh Spike’ punctuating her sentence.
“His loss,” Willow shrugged.
Buffy nodded, returning her attention to her food. “I’m going to try and talk to him after lunch, I’ve got a study period anyway.”
Willow nodded and Buffy changed the topic before her friend could say anything. She really didn’t want to talk about him anymore. “So, you guys know how my weekend went, what did you both do?”
“Oh, you know, the usual avoiding my parents’ drunken binges.” Xander groaned before a devilish grin stretched across his face. “And we went to the Bronze on Saturday night.”
Willow blushed, and it did not go unnoticed by Buffy.
“Will, what happened at the Bronze?” Buffy nudged.
“Nothing,” Willow answered quickly.
“Oh no, nothing at all,” Xander mocked playfully. “The bass guitarist of ‘Dingoes Ate My Baby’, asked her for her phone number,” he added with a teasing roll of his eyes.
“He asked for your phone number?” Buffy screeched excitedly.
Willow nodded, her blush deepening.
“That is so exciting!”
Willow laughed at Buffy’s excitement, even though she was still embarrassed. “Keep it down Buffy, Devon is in the band remember…”
Buffy tapped her nose. “And we don’t want it getting back to what’s his name about how excited you are.”
“Oz,” Xander filled in. “He’s a student here as well, he just doesn’t turn up to a whole lot of classes is all.”
Buffy laughed. “Oz, you’ll have to point him out to me Xander, so I can suss out whether or not he’s good enough for our Willow.”
“No!” Willow objected quickly. A smile slowly stretched across her face to replace the worry when she saw the teasing looks Xander and Buffy were sharing.
“So, tell me ALL about it Will,” Buffy demanded.
Spike heard Buffy’s laughter and looked over towards her table. She was deep in conversation with Xander and Willow, a laugh escaping her lips every now and then. Those lips…
Spike pushed the memory of the feel of her body pressed up against his out of his mind, and tried to concentrate on the conversation at his own table.
“Spike, honey… hello…” Harmony waved a hand in front of his face.
He snapped out of his daze and frowned at the blonde who had found her way onto his lap. “Harmony, why don’t you find a seat of your own to sit on,” he suggested.
“But, Spike,” Harmony cooed. “I was thinking that maybe, you know…” she trailed off with a suggestive smile. “I realized this weekend whilst you were away in LA that I was stupid to let you just call things off like that. I mean, you have no idea how boring it was at the party at Aura’s this weekend without you there.”
The bell rang, sounding the end of lunch and students began to get up from their tables and head towards their respective classes.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Whatever, I gotta get to class.”
He stood up, pushing her off of him as he did. Harmony immediately responded by throwing herself at him and wrapped her arms around his neck, standing up on her tiptoes to press her lips against his. Spike’s first thought was to push her away, because of Buffy. But then he remembered seeing her kiss that ponce Riley last night. He didn’t make any effort to deepen the kiss, but he didn’t end it either.
A few seconds later he felt Harmony pull away, a smile on spreading across her face. “I’ll call you tonight, Spikey.”
Spike watched her walk off, wondering what he had gotten himself into, and turned to head towards his class. He made it a whole two steps toward his class before he almost crashed into Buffy. Her mouth was opened in disbelief, eyes betraying her obvious shock. She looked like she had been slapped.
Spike’s own mouth curled into a smile when he realized that she must have witnessed the kiss from Harmony. It hadn’t been his intention for her to see that, but he was glad. Now she knew what it was like.
“Summers,” he greeted tersely.
“What was all that about? I thought you and Harmony broke up?” Buffy demanded, anger and hurt creeping into her words.
Spike shrugged his shoulders in nonchalance. “That’s my business, not yours.” A sneer spread across his face, surprising himself with the venom in his words. “But if you have to know, since it didn’t seem like I was going to get some from you any time soon, I decided to return my attentions to someone who was willing and able to scratch any itches I may have.”
Buffy gasped, a pained expression flooding her face. “I can’t believe you’re saying these things to me.” She turned and fled before he could see the tears welling in her eyes.
Spike watched Buffy leave before turned to exit the cafeteria. And almost crashed into another female. “What is it with you bloody women and getting in my way?” he snapped, recognizing Willow immediately.
Spike blinked when he saw something in the eyes of the normally shy girl that he had never seen before. She was furious.
“You’re an idiot! You know that, Spike?” Willow snapped, her disdain obvious.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Save the preaching for someone else, Red, I’ve got places to be.” He walked around her.
Willow watched as Spike sauntered past her, calling out when he was a few feet away. “She’s not with him anymore you know.”
Spike froze instantly, turning around slowly. “What?”
“You heard me.” Willow crossing her arms over her chest. Walking toward Spike, her gaze focused intently on his face, so she could pinpoint the exact moment her words sunk in. “She broke up with Riley… LAST night.”
Spike tried to act nonchalant, shrugging his shoulders. “And why should I care?”
“If you didn’t then you wouldn’t still be standing here, listening to me,” Willow shrugged.
Spike was stumped, until he remembered the kiss he interrupted. “No, you’re lying to me. I SAW them. He kissed her,” he snapped angrily, balling his fists by his sides.
“Yes,” Willow said simply. “And she wasn’t expecting it. I’m guessing he must have seen you in her driveway.”
Spike opened and closed his mouth a few times, not knowing what to say. His shoulders sagged when he remembered the words he had spoken to her last night.
“Whatever, I was never that interested anyway, I was just trying to see how far you would let things go…”
He slammed one of his fists into the locker next to him, cursing his impatience. He should have let her speak. But no, he’d gotten angry and spouted off the worst possible thing he could think of. “I’ve really messed things up, haven’t I?” he asked quietly, looking up at Willow.
Willow’s expression softened, surprising Spike. “Probably. She’s really hurt, Spike. She told me what you said to her last night, and I heard what you said to her just now.”
Willow narrowed her eyes; her face hardening and Spike dropped his gaze in shame.
“I didn’t really mean anything, I was angry and --”
“And you took it out on her before you let her explain,” Willow finished for him.
Spike nodded. “What am I going to do?” he muttered, running one of his hands through his hair.
Willow shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, but I’m telling you this. You hurt her again, and you’ll have me to answer to.”
Spike didn’t disbelieve her.
“She’ll be swimming after school today, even though there’s no training on. But I didn’t tell you that,” Willow informed softly.
Spike smiled broadly, and took a step towards her, wanting to hug her but then thought better of it. “You won’t regret this,” he promised.
“I hope not,” Willow said with a faint smile before she turned and walked to class.