Chapter 2 - Returning to Routine
“So how was your first day of school honey?” Joyce asked as she cleared the plates from dinner.
Buffy shrugged her shoulders, standing to help her mother. “It was okay I guess. I made a couple of friends.”
Joyce smiled. She was glad her daughter had made some friends, it would make adjusting to their new life a little easier. The move had been sudden and she knew that Buffy was still hurting from it. So was she…
Buffy sighed, clearing the table quickly then moving to give her Mom a kiss on the cheek. “I’m kinda beat, gonna to go to bed early tonight.”
Her mother just nodded and watched as her daughter left the room.
Buffy lay in bed awake at 1am, staring at the roof. She had tossed and turned in her sleep for a few hours but she was now wide-awake. Frustrated she peeled the covers away from her and swung her legs to the side of the bed and standing up. Might as well make the most of it… she thought as she moved over to one of the boxes that was still to be unpacked.
She worked swiftly, removing her clothing and placing it on hangers in her closet or folding it away in the dresser. A few photos were stuck on the mirror and books, trophies and ornaments placed on the shelving about her room. Which is what it looked like now… a room.
She yawned, admiring her handiwork not even realizing how long she had been up. Now that she was tired she would be able to get some sleep. Climbing back into bed sleep found her quickly and she was soon dreaming of a time long gone when everything in her life made sense.
She awoke the next day to the ring of her alarm and she reluctantly got out of bed. It was Friday, almost the weekend. Showering quickly, she dressed for the weather, in a knee length denim skirt and a thin cotton shirt, pale yellow in colour that buttoned down the front. The sunshine greeted her as she stepped out onto the porch after a quick breakfast of cereal and juice. Her mom was still inside, frantically running about the place gathering her belongings for work.
Buffy couldn’t help but smile at the role reversal, it was normally she who kept them waiting whilst she tried to find something. Lifting her hair off her neck she tied it back into a ponytail. Day two… she thought a little unenthusiastically before she remembered, she’d made friends. She brightened at the thought of having someone to talk to and climbed into the car as her mom rushed from the house juggling her stuff.
“Bye Mom,” she called as she watched the car peel out of the parking lot.
A look of surprise crossed her face, the car had concealed the people walking on the other side of the lot, and now she was standing right in front of them. Spike, Harmony and Cordelia. The young man’s arm was thrown lazily over the blondes shoulder. A flash of recognition passed over his face when he noticed her standing there, and Buffy blushed slightly before turning on her heel and moving quickly towards the school.
Spike didn’t suppress the grin that flickered across his face at the new girls hasty exit. He watched her as she quickly slipped into the building. Dropping his arm from Harmony’s shoulder and ignoring her pout, he removed his cigarettes and lighter from his duster pocket and lit one up. Taking a few long drags on it he flicked the butt towards the trashcan and entered the school flanked by the two girls.
The day looked promising.
So long as I’m not given another detention…
Buffy walked into the cafeteria at lunch and immediately scanned the room for her friends. She scrunched her nose in disgust at the sight of lunch but accepted the tray and began moving to the table she had sat at yesterday. At least there’s fruit…
She was a little disappointed to find that Will and Xander weren’t there yet, but she figured they’d be along shortly. She ate silently, flicking over the course handout she had been provided for English and sighing at the amount of work she was going to have to complete in a few short weeks.
A group of boys noisily entered the café and Buffy lifted her gaze to follow them as they walked through the room. She gasped a little and held her breathe when she her eyes floated over the dark haired boy who walked at the front of the pack. Tall, dark and brooding… she mused as she watched with interest as he made his way to the table in the centre of the room.
Figures… she thought. The best looking guy in the school and he sits with THEM.
Spike made his way in for lunch through one of the side doors and started making his way towards the centre table. A ghost of a smirk flickered over his face when he saw Goldilocks sitting by herself, nose in a handout. He was tempted to make a sarcastic retort in her direction when the loud entrance of half the football team interrupted his thoughts. He lifted his head in greeting to Angel, who walked in the middle of the pack. The footballer returned the gesture as he continued on his way to their table.
Spike glanced in the blonde girls direction again and was surprised to find that she wasn’t reading her notes anymore. He watched as her gaze tracked the group of football players into the lunchroom, one player in particular. He frowned at the look of awe that was stretched across her face, and then an idea came to mind. A smirk played across his face as he walked up behind her and lowered his face right next to her ear.
“See something that takes your fancy, luv?” he questioned.
Buffy jumped back in her seat in fright. Her cheeks coloured in embarrassment as she spun in her seat, the look of surprise curling into one of distaste when she found the owner of the voice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said nonchalantly as she returned her stare to her notes.
He saw the blush creep over her cheeks and that only broadened his smirk. “He’s out of your league. Do you really think that he would be interested in you?” he punctuated his words with a chuckle.
Turning on his heel he walked over to the table where his friends sat, a look of curiosity splayed across Cordelia and Harmony’s faces.
Buffy looked up to see Spike look in her direction, that smirk never leaving his face as he leaned in to Harmony and whispered something in her ear. A burst of laughter erupted from the blonde’s mouth and she in turn leaned towards Cordelia, whose eyes widened as she heard the message Harmony passed on.
Her cheeks now aflame Buffy grabbed the banana off her lunch tray, gathered her books and quickly left the cafeteria as another ring of laughter resonated from the middle table.
The grin faded slightly from his face when he watched her sudden exit before he was drawn back into the conversation.
Willow saw a flash of long blonde hair move quickly from the cafeteria and out into the courtyard, instantly recognizing the fleeing girl as Buffy. Tugging on Xander’s sleeve to get his attention Willow took off after the new girl, finding her a few moments later sitting on the grass by a large tree.
Frowning, she joined her on the ground, lightly touching her on the shoulder. When she looked up with shining eyes, Willow’s worries sank in deeper. Xander dropped to the ground beside the girls slightly out of breath.
“Will, what’s going --” He stopped when he noticed the looks on the girl’s faces. “Who?” he asked angrily, clenching his jaw and fists.
Buffy looked up seeing the concerned looks on her new friends faces and smiled weakly. “I’m fine, really…” She tried to sound convincing, but at their disbelieving looks she knew it was of no use.
“I… I just had another run in with Billy Id… Spike,” she remembered.
Willow nodded, waiting for her to continue and Xander fidgeted nervously.
“He caught me look--looking at a group of guys who walked into the cafeteria. A particular guy. And he was just nasty. But…” She broke off, taking a deep breath. “But that wasn’t as bad as the looks and the laughter that were shot in my direction after he whispered something to Harmony and the others on the table.”
The red head drew in a sharp breath. “Wow…” she said in shock.
Xander clenched and unclenched his jaw—partly in anger at Spike’s behaviour, and a little because of the jealousy he felt when he thought of Buffy admiring someone that was not him.
Buffy wiped at her eyes, brushing away the tears that threatened to fall. “The last thing I need is some rumor floating around the school. This is only my second day!” she said with a nervous laugh.
Willow ran her hand up and down Buffy’s arm, trying to comfort the distressed girl… asking her a question with just as much nervousness. “Whi--which guy?” she stuttered.
Buffy frowned. “Huh?”
“Which guy were you looking at?” she clarified.
Buffy’s cheeks blushed. “I don’t know his name. He’s on the football team I guess. Tall, dark and brooding?” she described, a slight dreamy expression floating over her face before she snapped back to reality.
“Oh… Oh!” Willow responded to the description, knowing exactly who she was talking about. “That would be Angel, he’s the quarterback. He is pretty good looking,” she added with a chuckle, which brought a smile to Buffy’s face.
“The guy who Cordelia is trying to get her claws into, and he is one of Spike’s friends,” Xander added.
The smile disappeared. “Oh god this is so embarrassing!” Buffy exclaimed. “I’m going to be laughed out of class! And it’s all Spike’s fault…” A glare fixed on her face as she tore a handful of grass from the ground. “I hate that idiot! Why couldn’t he just keep his mouth shut?” she shouted.
“It’s not going to be that bad,” Willow tried to comfort. “Hey at least its PE this afternoon. You could take some of that rage out on a punching bag. Pretend it’s the bleach head’s face?” she said hopefully.
Buffy laughed, genuinely at that. “That’s not such a bad idea…”
The bell sounded for the end of lunch and the three friends reluctantly made their way to class.
“Miss Summers, may I speak with you?” Coach Jones called.
Buffy looked at Willow who nodded saying she’d wait, and Buffy turned and jogged quickly towards the PE teacher. “What was it that you wanted to speak to me about?” she asked curiously.
Coach Jones gathered her whistle and the bag of balls and began carting them to the storage room, Buffy following her with the stack of cones.
“Thank you,” the teacher said as she locked the equipment away. She turned to face the young blonde girl who fidgeted nervously. “I won’t keep you long.”
Buffy visibly relaxed and followed the teacher to the bleachers and sat down beside her.
“When were you planning on joining the swim team?” the teacher asked.
A look of pure shock crossed Buffy’s face as she stuttered out her response. “Swim team? I didn’t…”
Coach Jones smiled lightly. “Your transcripts were sent to the school with your grades, that included a list of your extra curricular activities. I see you made it to the state championships last fall,” she said as she lifted a file from the stack that was sitting beside her.
Buffy nodded mutely.
“Did you really think I was going to let someone with such talent slip through the cracks? There is a training session Monday night after school. I expect you to be there.”
Buffy froze, excited and nervous about the prospect at the same time. I don’t have to try out for the squad? she thought.
As if reading her mind Coach Jones continued. “Normally we have try outs but they were held last week before you arrived at the school. Your achievements speak enough about your abilities and I want you on my team.”
Buffy nodded. “Wh--what time?” she asked.
“4pm, right after school. I’ll have a bathing suit ordered for you, until then just bring your own.” The teacher stood, gathering her papers, smiling at Buffy. “I’m sure you’ll fit in fine with our team.”
Nodding again Buffy stood up. “Thank you.” When the teacher turned to leave Buffy turned and jogged out of the gymnasium.
“Wow, Buffy, I’m happy for you,” Willow responded to her friend’s news. A thought plagued her at the back of her mind, and she wondered if she should tell her, but she didn’t want to spoil Buffy’s good mood, especially after the day she had just had.
“Yeah, I don’t even have to qualify; I’m straight on the team. My Mom is going to be so excited!” Buffy said with a little spring in her step.
The girls chatted as they made their way to their lockers and packed up their bags for the day. As they stepped into the sunshine after the final bell, Xander bounded up to them.
“What with the happy? Get some good news?” Xander asked eyeing the smiles on both girls’ faces.
“I was asked to join the swim team!” Buffy replied excitedly “Coach Jones got a copy of me transcripts from Hemery and asked me to join. I start training on Monday. God you have no idea how much I’ve missed being in the water!” she finished with a bounce.
Xander frowned, “But isn’t Sp…”
One of Willow’s hands flew out and whacked Xander on the shoulder, giving him a deadly look.
Buffy having missed the attack turned to Xander. “You were saying?” she asked curiously.
“I was going to say,” he drawled slowly, looking at Willow who shook her head quickly, as he grasped for something, anything to say. “But isn’t SPECIAL news supposed to be greeted with ice-cream? My treat?” he completed with an internal sigh of relief at his quick cover.
Buffy’s smile broadened and she jumped forward, wrapping Xander in a hug, then giving Willow the same treatment.
Willow nodded over Buffy’s shoulder at Xander, mouthing at him: I’ll explain later.
A car horn tooted and Buffy looked towards the lot, seeing her Mom waiting there patiently for her. “I gotta go guys, rain check on that ice-cream?” She turned and bounced down the steps and climbed into her Mom’s SUV.
The two friends watched as their new friend’s car pulled out of the car park. “What was all that about?” Xander questioned indignantly, rubbing his shoulder.
Willow frowned. “She was just so excited, I didn’t want to ruin it for her. And if swimming is as important to her as it sounds. I’m sure having him on the team won’t be that much of a bother. It’s not like they’ll be talking or anything during training,” she rationalized.
“I hope your right Will,” Xander replied. “But this IS Spike we’re talking about…”
“Oh honey, that’s great news!” Joyce said sharing her daughter’s excitement. Internally, she was relieved. Swimming had been one of Buffy’s passions back in LA, one thing that seemed to give her peace even when the situation at home was like a war zone. She was glad she would be getting back into it.
“I know. I can’t wait,” Buffy agreed enthusiastically.
The car pulled into driveway of their new home on Revello Drive, and Buffy climbed out of the car. This town was beginning to feel like a home; things were finally starting to settle down. Grabbing her backpack Buffy ran up into the house. Willow had said she would call, but their detour via the supermarket meant that she might have missed the call.
Sure enough, the answering machine was flashing a little red light. Buffy heard her Mom move into the kitchen behind her, and she pressed the button to play the message as she retrieved a glass from the cupboard and started pouring herself some juice.
“Hello Joyce, it’s Hank,” came a voice over the machine.
Buffy dropped the glass she was holding, it shattered into a million pieces at her feet, juice spraying everywhere. She heard her mother gasp as she moved closer to the machine.
“I’m back in LA. Joyce we need to talk. Call me on my cell when you get the message. Give Buffy my love. Bye.”
Joyce looked at the distraught expression on her daughters face and moved to her side, wrapping her tightly in her arms. “It’s alright,” she shushed. “We knew he’d call.”
Buffy nodded, too shocked to respond verbally. She wondered why he was back in the country so soon, and an angry voice in her head told her she shouldn’t care. HE had left them. For his secretary no less. The memory of him walking out of the house, a few weeks back, ignoring their pleas for him to stay was too much. Buffy felt her eyes well up with tears and she only fought them back for a moment before letting them fall, sobbing as she clutched at her mothers arms.
“Shhh,” Joyce soothed, one arm lifting from her daughter’s back to pat her hair. “We’re going to be fine.”
Buffy sat on the stairs leading to the second story of her new home, listening in on the conversation her mother was in. She could hear the rage, the hurt in her mother’s voice.
“NO, Hank, that’s not acceptable. You can’t just expect to come into town and take her away for the weekend…”
Her mothers voice stopped, obviously interrupted by her father.
“No. NO! Hank, give her some time…” Another pause. “Well how in the hell did you expect her to react?”
Buffy stood up, not wanting to hear anymore. She reached her bedroom door right about the time she heard her mother shout and slam down the phone. It rang again almost immediately but she just picked up and hung up again.
Buffy closed her bedroom door and threw herself onto her bed, crying into her pillow. A few minutes later there was a light knock on the door.
“Buffy…” her mother’s voice came through the door.
When Buffy didn’t respond Joyce knocked a second time. “Buffy, can I come in sweetheart?”
Buffy sat up, knowing her mother wouldn’t just walk away. “I’m fine Mom, going to get some sleep.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk? What if your friend calls?”
She thought about it for a moment before replying, “I’ll call her tomorrow. Goodnight Mom.”
Buffy heard her mother’s footsteps retreat down the hall and a door close. The tears continued fall and Buffy wrapped herself tightly in her blankets, crying herself to sleep.