Chapter 5 - A Step Too Far
Buffy stirred from sleep at the sound of a key working the lock. She sat up bleary eyed, looking towards the front door. Sure enough it was opening, her mother walking inside looking just like she felt. Surprise crossed the elder Summers’ face when she spotted her daughter half asleep on the sofa.
“Buffy, what are you still doing up? It’s close to mid-night.”
Buffy rubbed at her eyes for a second. “I thought you were going to pick me up after training tonight,” she reminded a little forlornly.
The realization hit Joyce like a tonne of bricks. “Oh, sweetheart, I completely--”
“It’s alright, Mom,” Buffy interrupted, standing up quickly. She fidgeted for a moment before moving towards the stairs. “I got a lift home, it’s fine. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Buffy…” Joyce called, urgency in her voice.
Buffy slowly turned on the third step, waiting for her to continue.
“Work at the gallery… We had a new shipment and I was trying to organize several things at once.” Joyce sighed as she rubbed at her temples. “I didn’t forget about you, sweetheart, your training just slipped my mind.”
Buffy nodded. “I know. It’s going to take some time to settle into a routine. I was just lucky that Spike was able to bring me home.”
She frowned a little when she recalled how strangely he had acted. He was, he had been… well polite. Definitely not the same Spike from last week, she didn’t understand what had changed.
“Spike? Is this boy a friend of yours?” Joyce asked in interest.
Buffy shook her head vehemently. “No. He’s just on the team and saw me walking, made me get in his car.”
Joyce nodded, noticing the colour rising in her daughter’s cheeks. “Well, I’m glad he didn’t let you walk home.”
Buffy stifled a yawn. “I’m really tired, Mom, going to head up to bed.” She waved at her Mom before turning around and walking up to her room.
The next few days went by without incident. Classes were as normal, more and more assignments being piled upon the students. Buffy had thought the teachers gained some sort of sick pleasure in knowing their students had no time for a social life due to the heavy workload. That was until she overheard a conversation between Principal Snyder and a faculty member and it was practically confirmed. The man revelled in making the students’ lives a misery.
When she had passed this information onto Xander and Willow, they had brainstormed possible ways to give the snivelling little man some sort of payback, but hadn’t come up with anything terribly clever or worthwhile. But it had been worth a laugh.
Angel hadn’t been at school all week, and Buffy wasn’t the only person to notice. Cordelia and Harmony had been very vocal about the fact, occasionally shooting curious glances in her direction. They hadn’t been witness to her little make-out session with the boy in question, and apparently Spike hadn’t spread the word.
That boy confused Buffy. The first few days in school he had gone out of his way to make her feel unwelcome. Then there was the kind gesture of driving her home on Monday night, then nothing. No snide remarks, no cocky grins, nothing whatsoever. She had seen him at training on Wednesday night but he had turned up late, and left early. It almost seemed as if he was avoiding her, and she didn’t know why. She also didn’t know why it bothered her.
Now it was Friday—the end of the week and just five minutes before the final bell of the day. She tapped her pencil anxiously on the desk, watching the clock tick away the seconds to the promised freedom of the weekend. She was looking forward to the training session that night; yearning for the familiar burn from pushing her body to the limits in a sprint, the sensation when she first dived into the cool water and the way all her worries seemed to slip away into the water as she swam.
A piece of folded paper passed her desk and dropped on her book. Looking up she saw Willow turned around in her seat smiling at her, nodding at the note. Buffy opened it up, and read it discretely.
Smile! Just think of the Ben and Jerry’s and movies waiting for us later tonight!
Buffy returned the smile, nodding quickly in Willow’s direction before the redhead turned back around to face the front of the class. Folding the note back up she slipped it inside her notebook just as the bell sounded for the end of class. The students eagerly gathered their belongings and quickly left the room, much to the protestations of the teacher who was trying to assign homework. It fell on deaf ears and Buffy was thankful when she heard the old woman mutter ‘never mind,’ under her breath.
“So! What time are we coming over to your place tonight?” Willow bounced eagerly by her side.
“Uh, about six-ish? That’ll give me some time to shower and de-chlorinate a little.” Her mom wasn’t going to be home until late tonight, so she’d be walking home.
“Alright, Buffy. Xander and I will see you then!”
Buffy watched as her friend darted down to the hall toward her locker.
Buffy was not the first person to arrive at training today and she was disappointed that the water had already been disturbed. She took pleasure in knowing she was the first person in, feeling solace in those moments alone. She watched the arms of the swimmer stroking above the water as she moved along the pool deck, dropping her bag by the wall and hanging a towel on a hook.
She frowned as she observed his technique—it was pretty good. She knew it was a he; broad bare shoulders gave that fact away. Returning her attention to her bag, she rummaged about inside it for a moment—an “Aha!” escaping her lips as she found the desired objects—her swimming cap and goggles.
Stripping off her tracksuit and stuffing it in the bag, she twisted her hair at the back of her head and pulled the cap on quickly. Tucking in a few stray locks, she adjusted her goggles before putting them on and approaching the blocks.
Stepping up, she watched as the boy tumbled quickly into the wall and pushed off with a burst of speed. Taking a few deep breaths, she found her position on the blocks, holding for a second before shooting off like a spring. A shiver went up her spine at the chill; the pool was a little cooler than normal. Keeping her thoughts trained on the wall at the other end, she fly kicked to the surface in a streamlined position, before bursting over the water and turning in freestyle.
A sense of calm wrapped around her as she lost herself in the motion. She saw from the corner of her eye a splash of water traveling in the opposite direction towards the wall she had come from, but paid no attention to it.
Spike punched forward towards the pool edge, his body barely slowing in time so as not to collide with the wall, touching its tiled surface and lifting his head above the water. He instantly removed his goggles and threw them up on the wall edge. He never bothered to wear caps in training, only in competitions when the coach insisted.
A splashing sound came from behind him, and he realized he was not alone in the pool anymore. He turned to watch someone, a girl, tumble turning at the other end. Reaching for his water bottle, he watched with undisguised interest as the girl sped back after completing the turn.
Squirting the water from his bottle into his mouth, he drank quickly, replacing it on the edge just as she touched. Her head lifted and he heard the gasp for breath. She dropped under the water for a moment, removing her goggles and letting the water wash over her face, before coming back up. She held her eyes closed for a moment and it took a second before he realized who it was.
As if feeling his eyes on her, the girl turned. She caught his stare, and blinked. “Spike,” she said almost nervously.
“Summers…” He drawled slowly, reaching for his water bottle again. “Why so surprised?” he asked noting her confused look.
“I… ah, I just wasn’t expecting to see you in here so early,” she stammered.
He didn’t hide the smirk that spread across his face when he realized she was nervous. He began treading water, keeping his eyes on hers as he moved closer to her. Buffy’s eyes widened ever so slightly as he came within touching distance before stopping.
“You alright, pet? You look a little bothered,” he noted with a quirk of his brow.
Buffy’s cheeks flushed and she splashed water at him, treading backwards away from him. Spike wiped the water off of his face, a grin stretching from ear to ear. “Oh, now you’re asking for it,” he grinned devilishly.
Buffy’s mouth opened to form an O when she realized what he was going to do. Pushing off from the wall, she backstroked away from him, keeping her head high so she could see where he was, splashing as hard as she could with her feet to try and deter him.
Spike gave chase, dropping beneath the water as he swam towards her.
Kicking harder, her movements were suddenly stopped by a wall. Her legs dropped and she tried to flip around so that she could spring off in another direction, but he was already upon her. He pressed his arms up against the wall, pinning her against the edge as he inched his body closer to hers ever so slowly.
“Not the best plan, luv, getting yourself pinned against the wall like that,” he tsked.
Buffy’s heart rate almost doubled as he slowly moved closer to her. She wasn’t going to get out of this easily.
He could see her mind ticking over, as she searched for an escape route. “What’s the matter, Summers? Am I a little too close for your liking?” he teased.
He rushed forward before she could react, pinning her body to the wall with his before she could retort. He felt her tiny body squirm against his in a bid to free herself, and he raised an eyebrow as his grin widened. “Or not close enough?”
It took a second for his words to sink in, but once they did an angry glare consumed her face. Lifting her hands from her sides she pushed at him roughly, freeing up just enough space for her to jump out of the water.
“You’re a pig. I thought you were his friend,” she snapped angrily as she walked towards her bag and towel.
“He’s gone,” Spike sing-songed after her.
She froze, her back turned to him. Slowly, she spun on the spot. “What did you say?” she choked the words out.
Spike inhaled sharply when she faced him, partly because of her expression; she was seething with anger, but also looked crestfallen at the same time. That and the fact that she was dripping wet wearing next to nothing. The bathing suit she had on didn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. It was a one piece racing back, clinging to her body in all the right places. He shook his head, trying to clear the thoughts that invaded his mind as he tried to answer her question.
“He’s gone, left on Wednesday. Angel’s an army brat; Major O’Neil got transferred to Miami. It was always going to happen, it was just a matter of when,” he explained.
“Florida?” Her heart dropped. So much for seeing him at school… she thought echoing his words from the other night at the Bronze. She clenched her eyes tightly, before opening them again and turning around and grabbing her towel, wrapping it protectively around her body right under her armpits.
Spike was surprised at how disappointed he was when she covered up. When he saw her reaching for her bag he climbed out of the pool and quickly moved to her side, wrapping his own towel around his waist.
“Where are you going? Training starts in ten minutes. Jonesy won’t be--” he started.
“I don’t feel like training right now, and the last place I want to be is here with you,” she spat out.
Buffy turned on her heel and stormed towards the locker rooms.
Spike watched her as she walked off pool deck. He had seen how disappointed she was when he had told her that Angel was gone.
What’s he got that I don’t have?
His eyes widened in surprise to own thoughts. What the hell is going on?
“So he’s just gone? Like that?” Willow asked with a click of her fingers.
Buffy nodded sadly. “Just my luck.”
“I can’t believe Spike… and the pool?” Willow gasped again, her own cheeks reddening at the thought.
Buffy blushed a deep crimson, trying as hard as possible to push those memories out of her mind.
“If that idiot so much as looks at you --” Xander began to threaten.
Willow lifted an arm to his shoulder, patting him. “Calm down, Mr. Macho, we don’t want you to burst a blood vessel!” she giggled.
“Yeah, Xand. I appreciate the gesture, really. But he’s not going to bother me again,” Buffy said softly. “I’ll make sure of it. It’s not the Spike thing that bothers me so much, as the Angel disappearing act. I’ve resigned myself to my fate—I’m going to be single forever.”
“Hey! It’s not all that bad, you still got me!” Xander teased playfully, wrapping an arm around Buffy’s shoulders.
She chuckled a little. After that confrontation in the pool with Spike, she had changed quickly and left immediately. She knew that coach wouldn’t be too happy with her, but she would make up the session by coming in one morning early before school. She had been half expecting Spike to come speeding up alongside her as she walked home again, and was relieved when he hadn’t. She had walked a different way home, just in case.
“I don’t know why I’m so upset about this. I mean, we only kissed once, it’s not like we were together or something,” Buffy reasoned.
“That’s the spirit!” Xander cheered. “Now, let’s play this movie. I feel the need for a sugar overload. Gummy bear anyone?”
Spike flicked the cigarette butt out of his window with a twist of his hand. He was mentally kicking himself for what had happened in the pool with Buffy. Just like him to put his foot in his mouth.
He had only been messing around with her in the pool, teasing her to get a reaction. And a reaction he got, just not the one he had been expecting—hoping for. Buffy hadn’t played along. All she could think about was Angel. So he’d acted out. He would have told her about Angel’s leaving anyway; it’s not like Cordelia or Harmony would have. It just infuriated him that her first thought was of Angel.
Jealous? a voice inside his head spoke.
No… she’s not even my type… He shook his head.
Right, because that hot little body of hers did nothing for you…
He clenched his jaw, shutting his eyes for a moment and then blinking them open when he realized it only allowed him to imagine her more clearly.
So maybe I’m a little jealous…
Joyce walked into the house, the sound of laughter echoing from the living room. Curious, she placed her handbag on the kitchen table before walking towards the noise. Buffy was sitting on the sofa watching a movie with a pretty red haired girl, and a brunette male. Must be those friends I’ve been hearing about…
The coffee table before them was covered with bowls of popcorn, gummy bears, m&m’s, you name it. And the trio was happily scoffing down the confectionary between laughter.
“Buffy, I’m home,” Joyce announced as she walked into the room.
All three turned to sound of Joyce’s voice. After quick introductions and a few jokes, Joyce left the teenagers alone to enjoy their movie. She’s made some nice friends… she thought as she went upstairs for an early night.
The next morning they had woken up in a tangled mess on the Summers’ living room floor, sleeping bags and pillows strewn all over the place. Buffy yawned loudly as she tried to sit up. But it wasn’t an easy task with Willow lying on her legs.
“Morning, guys,” she mumbled.
Willow sat up quickly, running a hand through her unruly red hair, smiling at Buffy. Xander was still snoring, and they shared a mischievous glance before both reached for some of the remaining candy and began pelting it at their sleeping friend.
Xander brushed at the falling confectionary, flinching when it hit him. But it worked; he woke, sitting up to avoid any further attacks. “Alright, I’m up! I surrender. What’s for breakfast?”
Will and Xander had left a little while after lunch, the morning having been spent joking and laughing together. The house felt a little empty now after the night and morning they had shared together. But it was only for a few hours; Willow had informed her of a party that was being held at someone’s house—whose she couldn’t remember. Willow was sort of friends with one of the host’s good friends, Percy. She had tutored him late last year and he had invited her along.
“Party bound we are,” Buffy mused, opening up her closet and eyeing her outfits, trying to select something for the night.