Chapter 25 - Blast from the Past
An empty pool… there was nothing quite like it. Sundays were always the quietest, everyone using the ‘day of rest’ for other activities. Which is why Buffy had come here—to be alone. For the second time this weekend Buffy had shut herself away from the world in the quiet comfort of the water. And, for the second time, it was only a matter of minutes before her thoughts drifted to a particular bleach blond swimmer.
Stop… just don’t think.
Of course, there was almost zero chance of her mind obeying that, especially when she was taking it easy. The only way to completely shut it down was to push, as hard as she could. So she doubled her speed.
Buffy tumble-turned off the wall and dolphin kicked under the water, pushing herself as far as she could go before her lungs burned with the need for oxygen. Her hands broke the surface, ripples on top of the water moving outward as she sped toward the other end. She pushed herself toward—and beyond—the point of exhaustion, swimming as hard and as fast as she could. Her surroundings, her problems, the thoughts plaguing her mind, they all melted away leaving her with only the now. The next stroke, the next breath, the next turn at the wall before she sped to the other end, again and again, over and over, until her muscles finally gave up and demanded rest.
She surfaced, peeling her goggles off her head and swam breaststroke to the ladder. Her knees quaked as she hauled herself out of the pool.
She was going to hurt tomorrow.
Alone again. Shortly after her return from the pool her mother had received a call from the gallery. Something about a problem with a new shipment, and if the past was anything to judge by her mother was going to be gone all day. Not that Buffy minded, she hadn’t any plans anyway and curling up on the sofa to watch some movies by herself would be a great way to spend the afternoon.
Buffy had just settled on the sofa to watch a movie when the telephone rang. Reaching for the cordless she pressed the talk button and held it to her ear.
“Hey, Buffy, it’s me. Guess what I heard today!”
Buffy smiled at her friend’s excited chatter. “Hey, Willow. Ahh, I dunno.” She gave in immediately, knowing that if the gossip was as good as it sounded Willow wouldn’t be able to contain her excitement. Or keep her mouth shut. “Spill.”
“Someone’s back in town,” Willow sing-songed.
“Someone?” Buffy frowned, drawing a blank at first. Realisation struck and Willow confirmed her thoughts.
“Angel,” they both said at the same time.
“Can you believe it?” Willow squealed excitedly. “Apparently his dad transferred back because Angel’s in his final year and everything and he felt it was best for his son to have consistency during his final year because we all know busy we get and—”
“Will, take a breath,” Buffy instructed, unable to contain her giggles.
Willow inhaled a deep over exaggerated breath, bursting into laughter herself.
“I didn’t think he’d be back.”
Buffy’s quiet musing was like a flashing neon light, and Willow clapped her hand over her mouth at her own stupidity. “Oh, Buffy, I completely forgot about—”
“Spike?” Buffy guessed. “I didn’t.” It was what she’d been trying unsuccessfully to do all morning. But it was just impossible. She might as well carve a space out in her head because he was looking to become a permanent fixture in her thoughts.
And in her heart.
Willow caught Buffy’s sniffle and immediately began to worry. “Buffy, what’s wrong? Is everything okay between you two?” She inhaled deeply before steamrolling on. “Gosh, I’m such an idiot, bringing up Angel like that when things are going so well with you two. You make a really cute couple, you know that? You and Spike. Of course I’m talking about you and Spike, why would I be talking about you and anyone else? No reason whatsoever.” As was customary with Willow’s babbling, it eventually lost momentum. “Things are going well, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they really are,” Buffy answered, nodding to back up the sentiment, despite the fact Willow couldn’t see it.
“Then…then what is it Buffy?”
Buffy’s inhaled a shuddery breath, trying to keep her emotions at bay.
“I think I’m in love with him.”
Her voice was barely above a whisper, but judging by Willow’s excited gasps and squeals it was loud enough.
“Oh my god, Buffy! That’s wonderful.” She paused. “It is wonderful, right? You’re not having second thoughts or anything?”
“A world of no,” Buffy replied adamantly. “I guess I’m just a little…” She trailed off but Willow understood.
“Yeah.” Buffy chewed on her bottom lip. “Maybe just a teensy bit.”
“Well, it’s totally understandable, Buffy.”
“Of course,” Willow reassured her friend. “Falling in love is a scary thing. You’re opening yourself up to that person, and there’s always the chance someone will get hurt.”
“Not that I think that will happen with you and Spike,” Willow added quickly. “You two are just too cute and too sweet together for it to not work.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Will.” Buffy sighed. Willow was right. There was no point worrying herself over nothing. Things with Spike were great. Beyond great in fact. Wonderful. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say their relationship was in the realm of perfect.
She knew why she was worried. Because of her parents. The relationship each child grows up with and is supposed to use as a model. It was no secret Buffy’s parents’ relationship was a disaster. But it hadn’t always been. She had many fond memories from her childhood of the three of them playing happy families. Her father would look at her mom and it was as if he were staring at an angel, a feeling that had been more than reciprocated. Why was it that one day her mother’s love was not enough? Where had it all gone wrong? And what could Buffy do to ensure she didn’t make similar mistakes in her love life?
“I mean it. You two are perfect together.” Willow’s reply was firm and left no room for argument.
Buffy brightened her tone of voice for her friend’s benefit, knowing that Willow had her best interests at heart. “I know, Will. Thanks.”
“Talk to you later?”
Buffy ended the call and reached for the remote, preparing once more to start her movie, but was interrupted by a knock on the front door.
“What now…” she muttered.
Padding over to the door Buffy flicked the lock and opened it wide. A bunch a beautiful daisies was the first thing she saw. And behind the flowers, the previously mentioned perfect boyfriend.
“Hey, you.” Buffy smiled.
Spike returned the grin, stepping forward to wrap Buffy in a tight embrace. “Thought I’d come pay my girl a visit. Wouldn’t want her to feel lonely when she’s in this big house. All alone,” he added, leaning back so she could see his grin stretch into a smirk. He made a show of looking around before asking, “You are alone, right?” Spike waggled his eyebrows.
“Yes I am, and nuh uh.” She shook her head, fighting the grin that was creeping across her face.
“Don’t you get any ideas, Mister.” Buffy swatted Spike on the chest playfully. Wiggling out of his embrace a few moments later she snatched the flowers from his grasp and brought them to her nose. They were beautiful. “I’m just going to put these in some water. I’ve got a movie ready to go, be back in a sec.”
Buffy walked into the kitchen and removed a vase from an overhead cupboard. Filling it with cold water she arranged the flowers, inhaling their sweetness once more before she placed the vase on the counter. Satisfied with her work she set about getting some snacks to share while they watched the movie.
Spike watched Buffy from the doorway as she went about her business, a happy smile curling his lips. If it were even possible he thought she looked more beautiful now in shorts and a baggy t-shirt, with her hair tied messily in a ponytail, than when she was dressed to the nines and ready to party.
The more time he spent with her, the more he was getting to know the person she was inside. Like for instance, she hummed to herself as she busied herself about the kitchen. It was adorable, and Spike doubted she was even aware of the subconscious habit. When she disliked something but wanted to be polite about it, she’d crinkle her nose up before offering a gracious reply or comment. Again, it was another thing Spike believed she probably wasn’t aware of.
He catalogued each of these nuances, these little patterns, and kept them close to his heart.
When Buffy turned around, snacks all prepared, and caught Spike watching, her eyes widened in surprise. She hadn’t even realised he’d followed her. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Since you took the flowers,” Spike answered honestly. “Just wanted to be near my girl.”
The last few days he’d referred to her as his girl a lot, and it always caused butterflies in her stomach.
“Well, Mister Impatient Much,” she teased. “Why don’t you make yourself helpful and grab us a couple of sodas from the fridge?”
Spike mock saluted, which sent Buffy off into a fit of giggles. It was then he decided he’d do anything to keep her this happy always, to be the one that made her laugh and smile like this.
As Buffy disappeared into the other room, Spike grabbed the drinks and hurried to join her.
“Yeah, sure, mom. Of course.”
Spike focussed his attention on the television screen in an attempt to give Buffy some privacy, even though he could hear her side of the conversation quite clearly.
“I’ll be fine. Really.”
Sneaking a quick glance at his girlfriend the first thing he noticed was that she was biting her bottom lip. That was Buffy code for worried. Obviously her mother wouldn’t be home this evening as planned. He knew he shouldn’t be happy about it, especially as Buffy was obviously upset, but he couldn’t help himself. More time just for them.
“Bye, mom.” Buffy ended the call.
Spike smiled, getting to his feet as Buffy joined him in the living room again. She’d pasted a bright smile on her face but Spike could see the cracks underneath.
“Let’s go out,” he suggested quickly, an idea coming to mind.
“Out?” Buffy frowned. “But I thought we were going to wat—”
“Too nice outside to spend it cooped up indoors,” Spike explained. “I know just the place.”
Buffy hesitated for a moment before nodding her consent. “Oh, okay. Do I need to bring anything?”
“Nope. Just your delectable self.”
Buffy blushed. “All right, just let me change into something a little more presentable and a little less I’ve-been-bumming-around-on-the-sofa-all-morning.”
Before Spike could object Buffy disappeared up the stairs to change.
They’d been driving for about ten minutes when curiosity finally got the better of Buffy. She couldn’t help herself, she had to ask.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see,” Spike replied with a smile.
Buffy’s bottom lips jut out in an exaggerated pout. “Aww, can’t you just tell me?”
“Nope, it’s a surprise.”
Obviously pouting wasn’t going to work, so Buffy frowned. “I hate surprises,” she muttered beneath her breath, to which Spike just laughed again.
“All right, grumpy, I’ll tell.” He removed one hand from the steering wheel and pointed off to the left of the car. “Over that way is the high school, and the gym.”
“I know that,” Buffy rolled her eyes. “But that doesn’t tell me where we’re going.”
“Well,if you’d let me finish it would’ve,” Spike teased. “Do you remember how I took you up onto the roof the other day? The view?”
Buffy gasped in realisation. “We’re going to the lake?”
“But won’t it be busy?”
“I know a little spot where we can be by ourselves,” he promised. “You’re going to love it.”
“Okay.” Buffy turned her gaze away from Spike to stare out the front of the windshield, waiting to catch her first glimpse of the lake. As they rounded the last bend on the edge of town the woods parted and the deep glistening blue of the water stretching out before them. It was even more beautiful up close.
The car pulled up at the main lot and Buffy quickly unbuckled her belt, exiting the vehicle with a bright smile curling her lips.
“Oh my god, it’s gorgeous!”
Spike, having visited the lake many a time before, paid no attention to his surroundings and kept his focus entirely on Buffy.
To him, she was the most beautiful aspect of the view.
“Come on, let’s go.”
Buffy tore her attention away from the water and back toward Spike, her eyes going wide when she saw just how prepared he was for this. In his hands he had a blanket and a small picnic basket.
“You planned this!” she squealed.
Spike shrugged nonchalantly, even though inside he was elated that she was so happy. He could easily become accustomed to it. “So, surprises not such a bad thing?”
“Oh! Not a bad thing at all, surprises are very much of the good,” Buffy declared.
“Good. Well, shall we?”
“Lead the way.”