Secrets & Lies


by: Lynn
Continuation of The Chains Series



Spike opened the door to his room and groaned in frustration. He had forgotten about the mess he'd left. *I guess it'll give me something to do when I can't sleep later on. Nothing on the telly during the day anyway, except that wanker, Jerry Springer.* He used to love that show, with all of the hair pulling and chair throwing. Now there was something...off...about it. Too choreographed, not enough spontaneity. They had taken a perfectly good show and mucked it up completely. There was nothing else on in the afternoon that didn't make him feel like poking out his own eyeballs.

Spike pulled off his t-shirt, wincing as the material rubbed against his skin. He looked down at his chest, fingering the scratches and hickeys. He didn't need a mirror to tell him that his back looked the same way. Spike recalled that the Slayer had been marked up as well. It appeared that neither of them knew their own strength, or cared much about it, for that matter. It was fortunate that they were so evenly matched.

Their last go-round had been more fighting than fucking, with the Slayer thrashing against him like some wild thing. She had nearly flayed him alive, all teeth and fingernails, as if she had been trying to exorcise some demon. Well, perhaps she had been. He knew that she wasn't happy about him not having a soul, like poor, pitiful Angel. *Who gives a rat's ass? I'm me, she can take me as I am, or leave me.* He snorted. *Brave words, eh mate? You know you'd get down on your hands and knees and beg, if she ever took her gorgeous snatch and walked. You're just as fucking whipped as Angel was.*

He had been surprised at first, when she had turned into a raging, spitting wildcat, but his surprise had quickly turned to immense enjoyment. This was what he had been searching for- someone who would fight with him, someone with fire. Someone who had a brain in her head, who wasn't a deranged freak. Someone who wouldn't abandon him if something better came along.

The Slayer had a strong sense of loyalty, a sense of honor. She appeared to be frivolous, with her teenager's passion for clothes and total lack of regard for following the rules. He knew that wasn't the case. He'd seen her willing to die for humanity on a number of occasions, willing to sacrifice herself for a greater 'good'. He didn't think she would toss him aside on a whim, not unless he really hurt her. If she could see past his demon, see beyond the killer in him, they might actually have a chance. *A chance for what, exactly?* Damned if he knew, the whole thing was so bloody incomprehensible in the first place.

That was the rub. He was a killer and he refused to exist on packaged blood. Fresh was always better; he craved it, as much as he craved her. Maybe even more. It was what sustained him, after all. Spike ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "Bugger it!"

If he thought about it much longer, he'd get a bleedin' headache. Time to concentrate on something else for a change. Now that he was in charge of that motley crew downstairs, he supposed he ought to teach them a few things. Like how to survive for more than a few days. *Yeah, time to play surrogate father to Angel's 'children'.*

When Angelus had returned, he had gone about creating vampires with all the restraint of a strung out, hungry Mama Cass, looking for a fix and a ham sandwich. Once he turned them, Angel left them on their own, not even supplying them with the most basic instructions. It was a wonder any of them had lasted this long.

Spike was much more circumspect about who he brought over. There had to be something about them, some special quality that sparked his interest. The Slayer had it, but of course she was out of the question. Besides, her warmth was part of the attraction, part of what made the sex so great. That, and the fact that she was alive, really alive, with blood coursing through her veins and a heart that beat so fiercely against his skin that he could feel every vibration. It was almost like the kick he got from feeding. Like the rush you got from really good drugs. If she were undead, the spark would be gone.

Spike could feel his hyperactivity returning. It only seemed to ease when he was with her. He was going to have to keep busy, find something to occupy his time when the Slayer wasn't around. Hunting lessons for the fledglings perhaps, although he really didn't have the patience to teach anyone anything. Maybe a road trip tomorrow night. Take the boys and go to L.A., see what kind of trouble they could get into.

He was up for a concert, something loud and thrashy. The pickings would be easy, all those kids strung out on god-knows-what. They could feed and watch the concert at the same time, no one would even notice. They'd leave at sunset, be back in plenty of time before the dawn. He needed a little distance, anyway. He didn't want to be the Slayer's lapdog, begging at her window every night. He did have his pride.

Spike looked down at the marks on his chest, already starting to heal. The thought that they would be gone by morning left him feeling a little dejected. He rather liked them- the Slayer's own brand etched into his skin. Spike traced one deep scratch with his finger, willing it to stay a little longer. He cursed his foolishness and pulled his shirt back on, before heading back downstairs to tell the boys about tomorrow's trip. *Time to act like a Master Vampire, not moon over the Slayer like a bloody teenager.*

He tried to ignore the little voice in the back of his head, the one that was laughing hysterically at him and his self deception. *Everything's cool, I've got it all under control. Tomorrow night, I'll tear a path through the City of Angels- little irony, there? Maybe trip out like I did at Woodstock. Yeah, sounds like a plan.* He didn't need the Slayer- not every night, anyway. He'd go to her when he felt like it, not before.

The voice in his head mocked him as he went off in search of his new little 'family.'

Spike started the car and spun out of the driveway. There were six of them on this trip- Darius, Jason, Mark, Evan, Kyle and him. Darius and Evan sat in front while the three younger ones were crammed in the back. Jason, Mark, and Kyle were barely out of their teens- Beavis and Butthead personified. Darius and Evan were in their mid-twenties when they were changed; they were quieter, kept to themselves.

Spike rolled down the window and lit a cigarette. He loved the freedom of driving at night, feeling the wind in his hair. He drove fast everywhere he went- radio blasting, hands tapping out the beat on the steering wheel. The only thing keeping him from total enjoyment this time around was the presence of his 'charges'. He hoped they wouldn't ruin the whole trip with their pissing and moaning. His tolerance level was already low, stretched to the breaking point by Darius' insolence.

The drive started out well, music blasting on the radio, Darius mercifully silent. Gradually, though, the conversation from the back seat began trickling forward, annoying Spike to no end. Jason and Kyle were discussing which Spice Girl was the hottest. *That's easy, you fucking twits- they're all a bunch of cows.* Any mention of the Spice Girls sent a stabbing pain through his temple, as if his brain were rejecting even the mere thought of those tacky, overhyped bimbos. Spike turned up the radio, trying to drown them out with Nine Inch Nails.

He wondered what the Slayer was up to this evening. Normal teenage stuff? Patrolling, probably. Was she looking for him? Would she be pissed when he didn't come around? *Bloody hell, I can go out of town if I want to. I never said I'd see her tonight.*

She hadn't said anything, either. He didn't want to admit that it bothered him...that she hadn't asked if she could see him. He should have known that she wouldn't beg for anything. It wasn't in her nature. He liked her that way, liked that she was fiesty. Of course, it would be nice to know that she wanted to be with him.

'Closer' started playing on the radio, one of Spike's favorite songs. The lyrics brought him back to the treehouse, back to the Slayer's embrace.

You let me violate you,
you let me desecrate you
you let me penetrate you,
you let me complicate you

Spike rocked back and forth to the beat as he drove, remembering her incredible heat...the taste and feel of her.

I want to fuck you like an animal,
I want to feel you from the inside
I want to fuck you like an animal,
my whole existence is flawed

The song pounded its rythm in his head, vibrating on his skin. He could almost feel her nails digging into him, and the faint scratches on his chest throbbed in response to his thoughts.

Help me, tear down my reason,
help me it's your sex I can smell
Help me, you make me perfect,
help me become somebody else

He was hard now. He pulled his coat over his lap as discreetly as possible. *I can't keep getting stiff every time I think about her, how the bloody hell am I supposed function this way?* Spike gritted his teeth and thought about Manchester United losing, Margaret Thatcher naked, Kathie Lee Gifford...there, that was better. He glanced over at Evan and Darius to see if they had noticed anything. They were talking quietly under cover of the music.

Darius looked over at him with a defiant glare. Spike wondered where all the hostility came from. He didn't treat Darius any different from the rest. No better, but no worse.

"Still no word from Angelus and Drusilla? I would have thought they'd be back by now," Darius said, fishing for information. He didn't trust Spike any more than Spike trusted him.

"Well, you know, Angelus does what he wants. I gave up trying to figure him out over a hundred years ago. They'll be back when they feel like it."

Spike had decided not to tell them that the Slayer had killed their Sire, not yet anyway. A few more days, then he'd make sure they heard about Angel and Dru getting dusted in the cemetery. He just didn't feel like listening to Darius plot revenge against the Slayer at the moment. And they would all expect Spike to be rabid with anger, demanding retribution. *Yeah, right. I'm fucking her to death as part of my revenge.* He wasn't looking forward to the ordeal ahead.

Behind him, the discussion about the Spice Girls had progressed to an argument over who would kick whose ass- Jackie Chan or Xena. Spike could feel his jaw clench as the sound of their fighting began to drown out the radio. He tried counting to ten and got to three before he exploded.

"SHUT THE FUCK UP OR I'LL THROW THE BOTH OF YOU OUT OF THE FUCKING CAR AND LEAVE YOU THERE!" There was stunned silence from the back seat as he gripped the steering wheel and tried to calm down.

"Sorry, Spike. We'll be quiet now." Kyle was always quick to try to make amends. He was the newest and most easily cowed of the five. Jason folded his arms and tried to look contrite.

Spike rolled his eyes and turned up the radio, trying to pretend that he was the only one in the car. *Another hour of this, Christ, I'll lose my bloody, fucking mind.* He sped up, trying to get there faster before he lost control and snapped all of their necks.


******


Buffy walked through town, pretending to be an innocent victim. The usual hot spots were dead, Sunday night- no action. She thought about her afternoon with Willow, a much needed angst session.

They had gorged themselves on Ben & Jerry's ice cream and diet soda, gossiped about nothing special, talked about Oz. Buffy had been afraid to open the floodgates at first, but Willow's serene presence made her feel safe enough to vent. Willow had just listened while Buffy had rambled on, incoherently at times, about Angel. Not Angelus.

She didn't want to taint her memories by thinking about how he was at the end. She wanted to remember him as the man who loved her, not as the one who wanted to kill her. The niggling voice in the back of her head kept reminding her that they were one and the same. Angel, Angelus- two halves of a whole. She couldn't separate them just because it was convenient.

Fortunately, Xander had spent the day with Cordelia. Buffy wasn't looking forward to seeing him. He had never made his feelings about Angel a secret and his gloating was something she really didn't need to witness. Tomorrow at school would be soon enough for dealing with Xander's happy dance. If she saw him now, she might do something she would regret later, like punch his lights out.

Buffy tuned into her spider sense, trying to pick up any vamps in the area. Nothing. Where was everybody? She drifted through the playground, passing by the treehouse. Buffy tried to tell herself that she wasn't hoping to run into Spike but she knew that was just a big fat lie. The marks from the night before were mostly gone, with just the bite mark lingering, branding her skin.

Twice now he'd marked her, although he hadn't fed much, not really. It was more out of sexual release, than out of hunger that he'd bitten her. The fact that she'd enjoyed it just confused her all the more. *No sense in staying out here when there's no one around. Might as well get some sleep for a change.* She took one last look around the deserted park and headed toward home, telling herself that she didn't miss him, not one single bit.


Spike headed for Sunset Boulevard, anxious to reach his destination. He was figuring on dinner and a show- someplace loud, smoky and filled with delectable little stoners, just waiting to be drained. He racked his brain, trying to remember the name of that place that he'd heard about, some little club in East Hollywood. The Garage, that was it.

He pulled over to a phone booth and told Darius to go look up the address. Darius gave him a "go fuck yourself" look but did as he was told. He handed the phonebook page to Spike, who looked at the address and grinned. He knew exactly where it was.

The street where The Garage was located was dark, several of the streetlights having been broken long ago. Music drifted out into the street through the open door as a crowd milled about in front of the club, waiting to get in. Spike and the boys walked through the large group of people, ignoring the protests as they barged ahead of everyone else.

They paid the cover charge and entered the bar area, taking in the garage/punk decor. The lighting was dim; a red-tinged glow set off the flames painted on the walls and ceiling. Spike sighed happily- it felt like home. He motioned the boys over to a corner and prepared to give them last minute instructions.

"All right, we'll split up and work the crowd. Choose carefully, don't hit on some girl whose boyfriend is in the john. If you feed inside the club, don't kill them. Just leave 'em in a booth looking like they've had too much to drink. And if any of you draws attention to us, I'll bloody well chain you to the hood of the car and leave you to get fried...do I make myself clear? I don't care if you kill someone, just take them somewhere else first. We'll meet up at one o'clock right here. Any questions?"

They all shook their heads, and Spike waved them off, glad to finally be alone. He walked past the bar, scanning the crowd for a tender little morsel. His eye was drawn to a motley group taking up several booths along the dance floor.

A tall man with a shaven head sat surrounded by buxom women, all of them appearing to be debating quite heatedly. He blinked and took a second look as one girl who seemed to be gold and sparkly raised her glass and winked at him. Spike shook his head as he realized that she was covered in gold glitter. The girl next to her looked eerily familiar, but he couldn't figure out who she reminded him of. She managed to look gothically evil and wholesome all at the same time. For some reason, cartoon characters were floating through his head. *Why in the bloody hell am I thinking about Scooby Doo?* He caught snippets of their conversation as he walked past, something about hair gel, cows and mystical monkeys. *Too bloody weird.*

He kept going, heading toward the stage to check out the band. In another booth, a striking couple caught his attention. The immensely pregnant young girl was waving her hands excitedly at the handsome, well built man next to her. They were both tall, with lovely brown skin, the girl's black hair falling in a cascade to her waist. Another young couple sat across from them, the woman holding a can of Surge in a deathgrip as her boyfriend tried to take it from her.

The two men looked at their women with similar puppy dog expressions on their faces. Spike snorted. *Might as well wear a collar and a leash, stupid gits* Better them than him. Now that Drusilla was gone, he was done with rolling over and begging. No woman was going to tie him up in knots again. Not unless she tied him to the bedposts.

Spike could finally see the band, three girls and a guy. He squinted to make out the name on the drum set. Pussywhip. Spike groaned. *What is this, theme night?* They sounded all right, loud and thrashy, just like he wanted. They were doing a cover of an L7 song that he'd heard before- The Masses are Asses. The song pretty much mirrored his outlook on life. Spike sang along to some of the words, checking out the band members.

I still get angry, I still get sad
And the losers still drive me mad

The lead guitarist was just another tall skinny guy in retro clothing, *Christ, they're everywhere!* He had talent, though. Spike turned his attention to the women in the group. *Now this is more like it!* The girl on keyboards was quite a dish, all curves and auburn hair. Her full breasts swayed as she moved to the music, having an almost hypnotic effect on him.

Things still piss me off
And things still make me cry

The female drummer looked tall and thin, with a devilish smirk on her face and tattoos on her upper body. Spike couldn't see much of her because of the drums. His gaze fell on the bass player who was singing lead and for a moment he was captivated; her coloring and bone structure were just like his. The night was becoming more surrealistic with each passing moment, making Spike wonder what would happen if he actually got some drugs in his system.

He stared at the vision in front of him, a pierced waif in PVC. Tall, thin and tattooed, with spiky, white blond hair, she was an imposing figure on stage, growling out the lyrics in a sexy, raspy voice.

Poetic justice will come in time
And I just have to laugh
I just have to laugh

Spike could feel that spark- that feeling that here was someone special, someone worthy of being a vampire. He looked longingly at the bass player, knowing that she was too high profile for him to consider turning her. *She'd be a perfect addition to the family, and she'd be mine, not Angel's.*

Spike recalled seeing a poster outside the club saying that the band was from New Zealand. Too complicated, trying to turn someone who had traveled that far with a group of people. He argued with himself a while longer, trying to find some way to get close to her, but it was no use. With a pang of regret, Spike turned to search the crowd for other prospects. There were always other possibilities, although probably none as good as this one could have been.

Because the masses are asses
We're all asses
Masses are asses everyday
Masses are asses in every way

Spike continued walking through the club, scouting for dinner. A young girl was coming out of the restroom, glassy-eyed and reeling slightly on her high heels. He walked over and smoothly took her arm, gently guiding her toward the private booths in the back.

"Buy you a drink, luv?" He didn't wait for an answer, just kept leading her across the dance floor, arm around her waist. Once they were settled, Spike turned on the charm, staring into her unfocused eyes with what he hoped passed for desire. She was completely out of it; he could have been anybody.

He ran his finger down the length of her neck and leaned in for a kiss. She offered no resistance as his mouth followed his finger to the pulse beating in her throat. He bit her easily, careful not to tear the skin, and let the blood flow over his tongue.

Little explosions of light danced in his head as the narcotic-filled liquid entered his system. The rush hit him hard; it had been a long time since he'd caught a buzz from anything except straight blood. He drank for a minute before stopping himself, then propped the girl up gently against the seat, arranging her hair over the bite marks.

"Thanks for the drink, pet. It was fun." He left the booth and headed back toward the stage, perked up by the blood and the instant high that it had given him.

Jason was dancing with a girl over in the corner and he thought he spotted Kyle and Mark sitting at the bar. He didn't give a fuck where Darius was. His blond pixie was singing again, only this time, she seemed to be singing directly to him. Spike was mesmerized by her pale skin and large green eyes, eyes that were locked on his as she crooned her bizarre love song.

My blonde god, I love him so
wish he were here, we'd go down low
Adore the hair upon his head
I eat him up when he's in my bed
My blonde god yeah, my blonde god yeah

He was tormented by the fact that he couldn't have her. Spike could just imagine how vicious she would be, a sleek jungle cat that he could mold in his own image. *Fuckin' figures, first time in years that I feel like bringing someone over and I can't even get to her. Instead I get to play nursemaid to Angel's fuck-ups.*

Not wanting to come down just yet, he zoomed in on another obviously wasted young thing. This time, he took his meal outside to the adjacent alley and sucked her dry. Spike stuffed her body behind the dumpster and threw some cardboard boxes on top. Hunger sated and mood lifted, he sauntered back into the club, intent on having a good time.

Pussywhip began winding up their set with their signature song, Pussywhipped. Spike thought about the Slayer, wondering again if she had missed him. *Fuck! Can't I go ten bloody minutes without thinking about her?* No matter where he was, or what he was doing, he still couldn't forget the lure of her velvety softness, the way she screamed his name when he made her come. *Pussywhipped, huh? I guess there are worse things to be.*

He gave up trying to deny it. Anyway, it wasn't as if he was all sappy and in love like Angel had been. *God forbid! Never happen, mate, especially after Drusilla.* He just wanted her, wanted to bury himself inside her until he couldn't see straight. It wasn't hearts and flowers, it was sex...mindblowing sex. There was nothing emotional about it.

Now you'll never sleep with no other bitch
never get another chance to scratch that itch
don't ever try to get away from me again

Just because he didn't feel like fucking anyone else right now, that didn't mean he couldn't if the occasion arose. He still called the shots. She'd never completely control him, or even get him to change, but she did hold a power over him that few could lay claim to. All she had to do was look at him and he felt a raging lust; her kiss, her touch, her smell, all drove him insane with desire. He knew that he must have a similar effect on her, for her to even consider spending time with him. *The Slayer's miles away, concentrate on what's right in front of you, you stupid sod.*

I only do it cos I love you, you know
And you'll never get away, you'll never get away
Don't try to get away, I won't let you get away...

Spike sauntered over to the bar and ordered a beer. He'd always liked the taste, liked almost anything alcoholic. Turning, he scanned the crowd again, watching as the weirdos went by.

A tall dark haired man stood at the end of the bar near the restrooms, his eyes darting nervously as he fingered the large cross hanging around his neck. He was watching the goth kids like a hawk, a look of fear mixed with false bravado evident on his face. *Not too obvious, are you? Might as well hang a sign around your neck saying amateur vampire hunter.*

He wore a dark blue suit, the coat large enough to conceal all sorts of slaying paraphernalia. Spike almost laughed out loud at the sight of him. Every once in a while he ran across one of these types-average citizens who thought that they were comic book heroes, ready to rid the world of evil. They always ended up dead or wishing that they were. Spike decided to give him a wide berth. He wasn't in the mood to tangle with a nutcase tonight. He just wanted to enjoy the music, the lights, and the pleasant buzzing in his head.

The evening passed fairly quickly, an Austrailian band called The Living End replacing Pussywhip at around midnight. A bunch of guys in the usual skater cutoffs and ripped tees doing 'golden age punk'. Spike was less impressed with them than he'd been with the New Zealand band. The glittery girl floated by in a gold cloud, snuggled up next to Kyle, her hand firmly on his ass.

Starting to get bored now, he felt like grabbing another bite and maybe rounding up the boys. They could hit another club or even head home before sunup. He could feel the restlessness starting again- probably not helped by the various drugs he had ingested, and he was pissed that fate had denied him a shot at the bass player. He was glancing down toward the end of the bar, ready to pack it in for the night, when he spotted her out of the corner of his eye.

She was perched on a barstool, holding a glass of wine and watching the freak show on the dance floor. Red highlights shimmered in her wavy hair, framing lovely pale skin and a heart shaped face. A low cut black dress hugged her generous curves, flowing over her legs to her ankles. She was older- thirtyish, and appeared to be alone.

Spike was spellbound; she brought to mind Hecate, the Moon Goddess, with her luminous skin and lush body. He began moving in her direction, feeling her power reach out to him. As he drew closer, she turned her head and looked him in the eye, something unreadable in her expression. He was already imagining the feel of her tender throat in his teeth, the taste of her blood in his mouth.

Spike went into his charming routine, planning to sweep her off her feet. "Hello luv, here all by your lonesome? Of course not, what could I be thinking, a beautiful woman like you?" He thought that she'd be easy, a few flattering comments and off they'd go.

The intelligence sparkled in her blue eyes as she gazed back at him, an amused smile touching her lips. "Is that the best you can do? I expected something more original from someone of your age and experience."

Spike looked at her in surprise, wondering if her comment meant what he thought it did. "Someone of my age and experience? How old do I look to you?" She had his complete attention now, his curiosity piqued by the gleam of mischief in her eye.

"We both know that appearances can be deceiving." She reached down and took his hand in hers. One well manicured fingernail traced the lines in his palm, sending shivers running through him. Her eyes held his in a penetrating stare, as if she could see inside him, as if she knew exactly who he was.

"I've been watching you all evening. I want you to come home with me." Spike swallowed hard, his bloodlust rising in full force. He couldn't believe his luck, finding another human that was as interesting as the blonde singer had been.

"Didn't anyone ever tell you that it's dangerous to invite strange men into your home? I could be Jack the Ripper." She laughed, a low full-throated sound that almost brought him to his knees.

"You're not a stranger, I knew who you were the moment I saw you. I've been waiting for you for a long time. You're going to give me everything that I've always wanted." There was no need to say anything else.

He excused himself to find the boys and tell them that he was leaving. He found Mark down near the stage, putting the moves on a girl wearing a little too much hair gel that smelled like a fruit salad. Spike grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to the edge of the dance floor.

"Tell the others to find a place to crash for tomorrow. I'll meet you back here one half hour after sunset. I'm not waiting around. If you're late, you're out of luck." Spike didn't wait for an answer, just spun around and headed back to the goddess waiting for him. She was still there where he had left her. Spike took her hand and brought it to his lips. "Ready to go, luv?"

She nodded, smiling as they left the club.

Outside, near the entrance to the alley, they could see a tiny whirlwind of a woman fighting with three young men. She was using a combination of martial arts and streetfighting, crunching bones with lightning kicks and punches. For a moment Spike thought she was a Slayer, but quickly realized that she was just someone who liked to kick ass.

If he'd been alone, he would have joined her in the fun, but the goddess was beckoning to him, promising a night of dark pleasure. As he helped her into the car he asked what her name was.

"Lara," she replied as the car sped off toward her apartment.


********


Buffy tossed and turned, images from the last two years flashing behind closed eyelids. Angel, her savior, fighting the Three. Kissing her that first time, when she discovered who and what he really was. Words and phrases drifted in and out, the images coming faster and faster.

"You think I want anything to happen to you? Do you think I could stand it?"

"When you kiss me, I want to die."

"Do you love me?" *Angel's eyes are so dark* "Do you?" *I'm drowning in his eyes*

"You shouldn't have to touch me when I'm like this..."

"I love you, I try not to, but I can't stop..." Her heart pounding- "M-me too, I can't either..."

"Just kiss me..." His bare skin on hers- *He feels so good, so incredibly good, I never knew...*

"Dream on, schoolgirl-" *Angel?*

"Your boyfriend's dead."

"Some part of you must remember..."

"Dream on...your boyfriend's dead..." The words echoed, Angel's face becoming Angelus- hating her, wanting her, wanting to rip her to pieces. She saw the holy water destroying his face, the look in his eyes before he exploded into dust..."ANGEL!"

The scream reverberated in the bedroom as her body lurched upward, coming out of the nightmare. Buffy's heart pounded in her chest and she brought her hands up to feel to feel it thudding beneath her skin as she tried to calm her breathing. *Damn it!* The tears trickled down her face. There seemed to be a neverending supply of them lately.

She desperately tried to stop the tremors racking her body. *Think of something else, anything else...* Spike. He hadn't shown last night- was that the reason for the nightmare? It was beyond twisted, using a demon to keep the bogeyman away. But she hadn't dreamt the two nights before, the nights spent with him. *Wonder where he was?* It didn't matter, she didn't care; they weren't dating, they weren't even a couple. Buffy didn't know what they were. They just...were.

A glance at the clock told her that it was time to get up for school. School, what a joke. She didn't know how she was going to pass, Snyder was always on her case, and now she'd have to look at Xander in all his joyful glory. *He must be on cloud nine, knowing that Angel's dead.*

Calmer now, Buffy forced herself out of bed and got ready for school. Her mother had already left for the gallery, needing to unpack the stuff that she had collected on her trip. Sometimes it bothered Buffy when her mother wasn't around, but this morning she was grateful that she didn't have to face her. Last night had been bad enough, trying to act as if everything was hunky-dory. Buffy choked down her breakfast and headed to the library, the nightmare still resonating inside her head.

The morning passed slowly. Training before school with Giles in the library, then the dreaded French class, followed by Algebra. She dozed off in Social Studies- earning her a reprimand, then headed to the cafeteria to meet the gang for lunch. Xander and Cordy were bickering as usual, and Willow and Oz were dopily staring into each other's eyes. *Fifth wheel, once again.*

"Hey guys, what's up?" She tried to look nonchalant and had the feeling that she failed miserably.

"Buffster! How ya doin'? Cordy hates me today, I criticized her driving again." Xander always babbled when he was nervous. He was trying to avoid looking too satisfied about Angel.

"Xander, you said I drove like I was on monkey crack. What the hell is monkey crack? Besides, you got here in one piece, didn't you?"

"Barely, thank you very much. And I'm sure that old man you almost ran down is grateful, too. Who needs Kevorkian with you on the road?"

Buffy just tuned them out. She didn't have the strength to deal with them today.

"Hey Buffy, are you feeling better today?" Willow and Oz looked at her expectantly. They didn't really want bad vibes ruining their rainbow glow, but it was Buffy and they worried about her.

"Yeah, Will, a little bit. I'm still not sleeping well, but I guess it'll just take some time. Thanks for yesterday, I really needed to talk." Buffy didn't know what else to say. She still felt disoriented from the dream and Spike's not showing was bothering her more than she wanted to admit.

Willow just smiled her sweet, dreamy smile and turned back to Oz, lacing her fingers with his. "Wanna go to the Bronze tonight? It might take your mind off of things." Oz was twining a strand of her hair around his finger, oblivious to everything else.

"Uh-uh, not tonight. Maybe later this week, after I catch up on some schoolwork. Mom's back, so I'd better buckle down and study."

A voice broke into their little group, causing everyone to jump. "Summers! I hear you're taking naps in class again. My office, ten minutes." Snyder turned and marched off in search of other people to harass.

"Oh great, just what I need. Listen, I'll see you guys in the library after school. If I'm not suspended first." She jumped up and ran out of the cafeteria, needing a few minutes alone before facing the Nazi.


********


Giles stood in the library, looking over his cache of weapons. Buffy would be arriving soon and he wanted to try something different. She needed to train harder, take advantage of Angel being gone to hone her skills. You never knew what you were going to face at any given time. Older, more powerful vampires could decide to take up residence in Sunnydale. More powerful like Spike.

It galled Giles that he hadn't thought of Spike before. In all of the confusion of Angel and Drusilla's demise, Giles had completely forgotten that Spike still wandered the streets. He could be out for revenge, looking to make Buffy suffer for taking his Sire and his woman away from him. Who knew what kind of trouble he would stir up? The Parent/Teacher Night debacle, the Order of Taraka, and the Judge had all been bad enough, and Spike hadn't needed a motive on those occasions.

Giles reached down and pulled out the tonfas. As he ran his hand along the wood, Ripper appeared behind his eyes, smirking as Giles remembered a run-in with some bobbies twenty years ago. They had tried to beat him with their batons and had ended up on the receiving end themselves. He had no idea how he had stayed out of prison for 'that' little stunt. His father had almost killed him and the Watcher's Council had nearly had a collective heart attack. Giles breathed a sigh of relief that those days were behind him.

His thoughts turned to Buffy and a worried frown creased his forehead. She'd hardly spoken to him since Saturday and this morning her mind had obviously been elsewhere. There were dark circles under her eyes and she had been petulant one minute and near tears the next. Angel's death was more disturbing to her than she wanted to admit; he couldn't imagine what kind of dreams she was having. He wished more than anything that she'd never met Angel, never had to suffer as she was now.

He knew what she was going through; he couldn't close his eyes without seeing Jenny as he'd found her- neck broken, staring sightlessly at his bedroom ceiling. He sighed in frustration, his hand rubbing the back of his neck as he heard the doors open behind him.

"Yo, G-Man! What's up?" Xander called as he bounded into the library, hopped up on God-only- knew-how-many candy bars and twinkies.

"Xander, I've asked you not to call me that." Giles wasn't in the mood for Xander's foolishness. The boy constantly put his teeth on edge.

"Sorry, man. Isn't Buffy here yet? She got called into Snyder's office again. You think he's on the up and up, or is he really a perv who likes to dominate nubile young girls?"

"Xander, don't you have somewhere that you need to be? Isn't Cordelia looking for you?"

Now Giles was worried about Buffy being in Snyder's office. That pompous little troll wouldn't need much of an excuse to expel her. Giles couldn't fathom why Snyder disliked Buffy so much, but he was determined to find out before the man caused them any more trouble.

"Nope, I'm totally free and at your disposal. Watcha got there?" Xander picked up one of the tonfas. "Hel-lo, police brutality. You should sharpen the ends, then they could be multi-purpose batons. Whack 'em over the head and stake 'em, wham, bam, thank you, ma'am!"

Giles' head began to pound from the onslaught that was Xander. Suddenly serious, Xander turned toward him, something dark and unnameable gleaming in his eyes.

"So Giles, before Buffy gets here, tell me...how jazzed are you that she finally wasted that asshole?" A cruel and predatory look crossed Xander's face, a look that hadn't been seen since he was possessed by the hyena.

For a brief moment, Giles was reminded of himself as Ripper at that age. He was saved from answering by the entrance of Buffy and Willow, who were closely followed by Cordelia and Oz. *Ah, finally. Now I can try to get to the bottom of Buffy's melancholia.* He smiled warmly at the group, relieved to have a buffer between him and Xander.

"Hey Giles, what kind of fun do you have planned for today? I'm in the mood for some violence." *Ah yes, the cranky Slayer is back. She always wants to hit something when she's upset.* Giles suppressed the urge to shove Xander in front of Buffy in order to give her something to pummel. *Christ, Ripper, you're supposed to be the mature one around here!*

"Buffy, I wanted to talk to you about something. I can't believe I didn't think of it before."

She looked at him expectantly, wondering what doom and gloom he had for her this time.

"Spike."

Her eyes widened, and her heart began to pound. *He can't possibly know. There's no way that anyone knows about us.* "Spike? What do you mean? What about him?" *Stay calm, Summers, let him finish.*

Giles didn't notice her discomfort; he was busy glaring at Xander, who was waving a sword around yelling, "You killed my father, prepare to die!" Giles turned back to her and tried to return to the subject at hand.

"Where was I? Oh yes, Spike. You killed his Sire 'and' his lover, Buffy. He's got to be considered more dangerous than ever before. He'll be looking for you, wanting revenge. We should take precautions, start reading up on him. He's known to be quite vicious and you've seen what kind of fighter he is." Giles was in full worry mode, pacing and running his fingers through his hair.

Buffy closed her eyes and let out the breath that she'd been holding. She quickly tried to think of something to calm Giles regarding Spike, something that wouldn't arouse his suspicion. Struggling to sound unconcerned, she told Giles the first thing that came to mind. "I don't think we have to worry about Spike, Giles."

He spun around and looked at her, his eyes searching her face for some indication of what she was thinking. "What do you mean? Is there something you haven't told me?" He wondered if she had killed Spike also, but couldn't think of a reason why she wouldn't have told him.

"NO! No, of course not. It's just that I don't think that Spike is as broken up about Angel and Drusilla as you think he is." She looked away, twirling her hair, trying not to feel ashamed for lying again.

"I don't understand. Vampires are supposed to be loyal to their Sire. And Drusilla and Spike 'were' together for a very long time."

Buffy sighed at his denseness and filled him in. "Spike and Drusilla 'were' together, yes. And then Angelus came back. Two men, one woman...geez Giles, you do the math. I told you what Angel said, about him and Drusilla. Maybe Spike is glad that they're gone. Maybe he was tired of being humiliated." She walked over and picked up one of the tonfas, spinning it around with lightning speed.

Giles was stunned. He'd never thought about the possibility that Angel had driven Spike and Drusilla apart. That would definitely work in their favor, if it were really true. Still, he supposed that one couldn't be too careful. He decided to research Spike, try to find everything ever recorded about him.

Giles glanced over at Buffy, sensing her withdrawal. She was practicing with one of the batons, immersing herself in the freedom of movement, her face a complete mask. He shook his head and went to find some of the Watcher diaries, determined to look into Spike's past.

Continued