Secrets & Lies


by: Lynn
Continuation of The Chains Series



Buffy stared into space, the phone slipping unnoticed from her fingers as every nerve in her body went completely dead.

*Dead...Oz...dead...nooooo...not again, please don't let this happen again...* Her legs gave out and she crumpled to the bedroom floor, wrapping her arms around herself as if they could keep her from coming apart.

Giles had been near hysteria himself on the phone, most likely caught up in flashbacks of Jenny's death. Vampires...it had been...

"It'll be all right, baby. I'll take care of everything," she dimly remembered Spike saying that night after the Bronze. *Oh god, he wouldn't...he couldn't have...* She began to rock and moan as horrible images assailed her mind.

No, Spike wouldn't kill Oz...he had promised. Giles had said several vampires, not one. But Spike was Master- would he have sent them after Oz and Willow? "You belong to me. You're mine." Had he felt that threatened?

*God, Willow...go...I have to...I need to go see her...* From what Giles had said, the hacker was nearly catatonic. She choked off an anguished cry and lowered her head to her knees. *My fault...it's all my fault...I promised her that they'd all be safe...*

A sound at the window broke through her thoughts. She looked up to find Spike climbing through her window, grinning and glassy-eyed.

"Hello, luv. What are you doing down there on the floor?"

Buffy looked away, surreptitiously wiping her eyes on her shoulder. "You're late."

Spike's eyes narrowed at the coldness of her tone. "Didn't know I was punching a fuckin' clock, pet." The iciness in his voice nearly matched hers.

"Where were you?"

No greeting, no flinging herself into his arms...nothing. Just that distant stare and the accusation in her voice. His first impulse was to leave as his impatience flared, but instead, he found himself answering her. "The blasted starter went on the De Soto. I've been working on the bloody thing all night."

Buffy snorted. "You were working on the car." She tamped down the hysterical laugh that tried to escape from her throat. For a brief second, he was like any other guy, late because he'd been fooling around with an engine. But he wasn't just any guy. He was a vampire, and he'd definitely fed tonight. *Fed on who? Is he lying? Was he there when they...?*

"Yes, I was working on the car," Spike said, his irritation growing by the second. "I always do my own repairs. I've had 'er for nearly forty years and I'm not going to let some git go mucking about in there."

He was baffled by her behavior- she'd never acted this way before, not even in the early days of their relationship, when they'd both been fighting their feelings. A thought occurred to him and he sniffed the air as Buffy stood up and began stuffing items in a duffle bag.

She considered what he'd said as she shoved clothing, stakes and holy water into her bag. It had the ring of truth to it, but that still didn't change the fact that Oz had been killed by his followers. *Oz...*

Spike growled in frustration as she effectively ignored his presence. "All right, I know y'er not on the bloody rag, so exactly what the fuck is your problem tonight?"

"Oz is dead." She said the words matter-of-factly, her face closed off, devoid of any emotion.

Spike froze. "What? How?" *Jesus bloody Christ, no wonder...*

"How do you think?" she replied, bitterly. There was something in her eyes that scared him, something that he wished he didn't see.

"Vampire..." *Shit, fuck...who would dare to...?*

"Vampires- plural. If there had been only one, Oz would still be alive." She turned away from him. "I have to go, Willow needs me."

"Willow...Christ, is she all right?"

"No, she's not all right. She was there...she saw what they did to him. I don't know if she'll ever be all right..."

He took a step toward her and reached out, wanting to hold her, comfort her. "Buffy..."

She backed away from his touch. "Don't..."

The look in her eyes stopped him cold. "Hold on there, pet. You don't think that I had anything to do with...?" Her answer was evident by the uncertainty on her face. His undead heart felt as if it had been ripped from his chest. "Thanks a bloody hell of a lot, Slayer."

She almost went to him when she heard the pain in his voice, but then shoved the impulse away. Willow needed her, and that was all that mattered at the moment. She couldn't deal with this- with him- not now. "I can't do this, not now. I can't..."

Buffy looked at him helplessly, not knowing what to say, what to feel. Everything felt dead, numb. *Oz is dead, he's not coming back...ever...*

She turned away and grabbed her bag. At the door she paused, and spoke without turning around. "Don't wait for me, I'm not coming back tonight." Without waiting for an answer, she walked out of the room and down the stairs.

Spike stood there in shock, unable to believe that everything had fallen apart so suddenly. Twenty-four hours ago they had been wrapped up in each other's arms and now, tonight, she had looked at him as if he was a stranger. He dragged a hand through his hair and pulled it back to punch the wall, stopping himself at the last minute as he remembered that her mum was home.

His thoughts were a jumbled mess, jumping all over the place as the image of her face, full of fear and distrust, refused to leave his head. *Slayer...Buffy...how could you think...?* And then the implications of Oz's death hit him.

*Vampires...more than one. The fucking revolution appears to have started, eh?* He was willing to bet that Darius was the ringleader. Anger surged through him as he recalled the many times that he'd refrained from snapping the younger vampire's neck.

Angelus' fledglings had been a thorn in his side from the very beginning. His gaze drifted over to the closet and the object that sat at the bottom. He walked steadily across the room and dropped to his knees in front of the trunk.

Throwing it open, he shoved aside the crosses and garlic, ignoring the burning pain as they singed his flesh. Finding what he sought, he stared at the stakes and bottles of holy water for a second, before gathering them up and stuffing them in the pockets of his duster.

As he ran his hands over the rough edges of the wood, he imagined them tearing through undead flesh, inflicting as much pain as was inhumanly possible. It was time to take control- for himself, for the Slayer- before it was too late. *Time to do what I should have done a long fucking time ago...rid the earth of every last trace of Angel and his progeny...*


******************


Buffy walked into the hospital like a zombie, unaware of her surroundings. Despite the lateness of the hour, doctors and nurses bustled about in the hallways on their way to various emergencies. The Hellmouth kept the medical personnel in Sunnydale pretty busy, and many of them lived quite well on the overtime pay.

She spotted Giles pacing outside Willow's room, running his hands repeatedly through his hair. He looked haggard, as if he hadn't slept in days.

Running toward him, she threw herself into his arms, the way that she wished she could have done with Spike, and he held her tightly, his own tears burning behind closed eyelids. It was like reliving Jenny all over again...only Willow was just a child, too young to have to experience losing the man she loved. Too young to have to face that kind of terror.

Buffy wiped at her face and pulled away, staring at him intensely. His eyes were filled with pain behind lenses that were smudged with dried tears. "Tell me what happened, Giles...tell me everything."

He took her hand and led her to the bench outside Willow's room. Pulling off his glasses, he rubbed his eyes and tried to find his voice. "I- I'm not entirely sure 'what' happened. Apparently, they were in the warehouse district when Oz got a punctured tire. The vampires attacked when he stopped to fix it. H-He forced Willow to run and she managed to escape before they...before they..." Giles paused for a moment as the thought of Willow meeting the same fate overtook him.

Buffy shuddered. "If Willow got away, then how did she see...?"

"She made her way back and watched from an alleyway. Someone driving home from the Bronze spotted her in the street and called 911." His gaze moved to the door of Willow's room. "She- she wouldn't leave him, they had to pull her off of his body. She's been in shock since the ambulance brought her in."

Giles had been terrified for her safety when Xander had called him and told him what had happened. Xander himself had been nearly incoherent with worry and Cordelia had finally taken the boy to the snack machines to try to calm him down. Willow's parents had been persuaded to leave after being assured that their daughter was all right and that they could come back in the morning.

Buffy followed his gaze with her own. "I should have been with them. She asked me to go and I said no..." Tears filled her eyes again.

Giles took hold of her hands. "Buffy, you can't blame yourself. It's quite possible that the van's tire was tampered with." He paused for a moment before continuing. "They must have been watching all of you...they knew that Oz was a werewolf. He was stabbed through the heart with a silver knife. Evidently, this was a planned attack."

Planned attack. They knew...they 'knew' that Oz was a werewolf. Was it as Giles had said and the vampires had been watching all of them, or had someone told them to come prepared?

Giles was wrong about one thing, though. She 'did' blame herself, for getting involved with Spike in the first place. Part of her wanted to tell Giles everything, but she held back. This wasn't the time, not with Oz dead and Willow almost comatose. "I need to see Willow," she said, scrubbing at the wetness on her face as she stood.

Buffy entered the room and her heart broke in two as she looked at her best friend. The bed was slightly raised up, and Willow's eyes were wide and staring as she lay there, her fists rhythmically clenching and unclenching on the blankets.

The Slayer approached the bed and sat in a nearby chair, taking one of Willow's hands in hers. The nurses had apparently cleaned her up, for there wasn't a speck of blood on her anywhere, not even under her nails.

"Willow?" The redhead's hand was like ice, and continued clenching as Buffy held it. "Will, I'm so sorry...please be all right..." The sobs came bursting forth and her head dropped to the mattress. "I should have...I'm sorry...please don't go away...we can't lose you, too..." The words came pouring out in a torrent, making little sense as all of her grief and guilt came with them.

After what seemed like hours, her tears slowed and there was only a slight shuddering of her body as it gradually calmed. Her eyes had just begun to close when she felt Willow's hand tighten painfully on hers.

Buffy's head shot up. "Willow?"

Slowly, the other girl turned to look at her with vacant eyes. "Buffy?"

Willow's eyes focused as she stared at the room around her, with its disinfectant smell and pale green walls. Her head felt so fuzzy. She realized that she was lying in a bed and looked back at Buffy with a puzzled expression. "Why am I in the hospital? What-?" And suddenly it all came back to her- Oz, the vampires, the blood. "Oz is dead, isn't he?" she asked, her eyes filling with tears.

Buffy nodded. "Will, I'm so sorry...I should have been there...I'm so very sorry," she began, but Willow wasn't listening. She was caught up in her own guilt over what had happened. Buffy was shocked at the bitterness in Willow's voice as she interrupted her.

"Yeah, I'm sorry, too. I ran, Buffy...like a coward. Just left him there to die. And then I hid and watched..." She turned her head away. "I should have let them kill me, too."

Buffy grabbed Willow by the shoulders and shook her, hard. "Don't you ever say that! Ever! Oz wanted you to survive, and he'd hate it if he heard you blame yourself."

She pulled the redhead into her arms and held her as they both cried for the werewolf who'd sacrificed himself for the woman he'd loved. Through her tears, Willow heard the Slayer murmur, "If anyone's to blame, it's me. If I'd been there, if I hadn't gotten involved with Spike in the first place, then he wouldn't have..."

Willow was silent for a moment before she pulled away, shaking her head. "Spike wasn't there, Buffy. They said-" She took a deep breath. "They said that it was payback...because you killed Angel."

Buffy went cold. Oz 'was' dead because of her. "How you must hate me," she said, feeling as if her entire world had crumbled to pieces.

Willow started to shake her head in denial, then stopped. She stared down at her hands twisting in her lap. "I don't hate you...I could never hate you. But maybe...maybe part of me does blame you." She looked up at Buffy's pain-filled face. "If you weren't the Slayer...if you hadn't killed Angel...then maybe Oz would still be..." Willow's gaze lowered again and she continued in a ragged whisper, "If only...if only I hadn't left him..."

Buffy grabbed Willow's hands. "If you hadn't left him then you'd be dead, Willow!" Fresh tears started in both girls' eyes. "You're my best friend, I couldn't stand it if I lost you, too..." They held each other again, crying for Oz, for themselves, for the way that their lives were forever changed by one senseless act of revenge.

After a few minutes, Buffy realized that the others didn't know that Willow had come to. She pulled away, smoothing back the redhead's hair. Willow grabbed her arm. "Don't go!" she said.

"I should go and tell Giles that you're awake. He's really worried about you. Xander and Cordelia, too." Buffy tried to smile and failed. She patted Willow's hand to reassure her. "Don't worry, Will. I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying right here for the rest of the night. I'm not going to let them hurt you anymore." She turned a left the room to get the others, thoughts of Spike filling her head.

She didn't want to believe that he'd had anything to do with this. That the man who'd been so loving toward her could have done such a horrendous thing. *Was I wrong about his soul? Was he only just a demon?*

He'd looked incredibly hurt when he'd realized that she hadn't trusted him. And he'd seemed genuinely concerned about Willow. Buffy shook her head, trying to clear it. *I can't think about him now. I have to stay here with Willow and watch over her. I'll deal with Spike tomorrow.*

Pushing him from her mind, she hurried over to Giles and Xander to tell them that Willow was awake.


***************


Spike paced restlessly outside the mansion, forcing himself to wait for the right moment, just before daylight. He wanted the minions trapped, unable to escape his vengeance. What was the saying? *It's always darkest before the dawn.*

It was going to be dark, all right. Darker than the blackest night. Blacker than the thoughts churning inside his tormented mind. He lit a cigarette with shaking hands and tried to stem the tide of images that burned a path through his brain.

The Slayer...her face flushed with passion, her eyes hot with need..."Love me, Spike, please...You're all I see...all I feel...I need you...I love you, Spike..." Those same eyes turning cold... "Where were you?...Oz is dead..." The eyes of a stranger...not the lover whose bed he'd warmed for the last seven weeks.

Spike doubled over as the pain hit him full force. "Slayer..." he moaned, grabbing his head and falling to his knees. "You fucking bitch!" He rocked back and forth, his game face flickering as hurt and betrayal warred with the rage that threatened to consume him. "You made me love you...made me feel...made me weak..."

"I love you, Spike..."

With a snarl, he sprang up and grabbed a wrought-iron bench, throwing it across the lawn. *You don't know what love is, Slayer.* How could she, and still think that he was capable of murdering her friend? Love him, but not trust him? *Doesn't fucking work that way, pet.*

Spike shoved his hands in his pockets as he began pacing again and his fingers brushed against the stakes that he'd stolen from her. *Don't think about her, think about the death and destruction to come. Think about Darius.*

Darius. Not dusting the little prick when he'd had the chance had been a major fuckup Spike seethed, disgusted with himself over his failure to keep control of the minions. *Too busy thinking with my dick, and look where it got me.* Alone again, scrambling to find a way out of this mess.

His hand wrapped around one of the stakes, driving slivers into his palms. He relished the pain, letting it focus his attention to where it should have been all along. It was time to act like the Master vampire he was and rectify his mistake. Darius had crossed him for the last fucking time...and it had been too long since his demon had been let out to play.

Just before the sky began to gray, he stubbed out his last cigarette and made his way inside, his human face devoid of all expression. To the casual observer, he would appear calm, unconcerned...until you noticed the murderous glint in his icy blue eyes.

The sound of raucous voices and heavy metal floated out from the dining room as he entered the main hall. Spike looked over at his fledglings, who sat huddled together on the couch and surrounding chairs in front of the fireplace. They watched his approach fearfully, pressing closer together as their eyes darted to the archway that led into the other room.

His cold gaze swept across them and his tone was deadly as he inquired, "Where's Darius?"

The fledglings glanced at each other and lowered their eyes, each of them unwilling to risk giving the wrong answer. A minute passed, adding to the tension already filling the room.

Spike's jaw tightened and a muscle twitched in his cheek. "Don't make me repeat the question."

One of the girls- he still didn't know their fucking names and it mattered even less now- raised her eyes and bravely answered him. "H-He's in there," she said, indicating the dining room with a tilt of her head. "Celebrating his kill. They said it was a werewolf." Her expression became one of anger and she tugged at her shirt, which was torn in several places. "It made them...hungry...for...other things."

She gave him a look that was part outrage, part humiliation, then lowered her eyes again in submission, a gesture which would have pleased him under normal circumstances. Spike barely noticed; he was too intent on crashing Darius' 'party'. Now, he also had the violation of his fledglings to add to Darius' long list of transgressions.

"Did any of you hunt with him tonight?" he asked, the implied threat fully apparent in his voice.

They all shook their heads as one and he nodded, satisfied that at least his own blood hadn't betrayed him. Without saying another word, he turned and headed for the other room, already anticipating the carnage that was sure to follow.

Spike stood in the open doorway, staring at the scene before him. Darius sat at the head of the long table, leg slung over the arm of the chair, drinking from a bottle of tequila that Spike recognized as coming from his own personal stock. Chairs were flung in all directions and tapestries were ripped from the walls.

Mark and Jason were at the bar, chugging Jack Daniels and punching each other between slugs, while Kyle and Julian sat on either side of Darius, flicking beer caps across the table. They were all covered with dried blood. The wolf's blood. Metallica blared from the boombox resting on the sideboard next to the door.

Suppressing his demon as the scent of blood filled his nostrils, Spike reached over and silenced the music. Five pairs of eyes looked up at him defiantly, four of them containing a glimmer of fear.

Darius smirked as Spike held their gaze for a moment, then dropped his eyes to the knife that lay on the edge of the table. He took a step forward, running his finger along its blood crusted surface, before picking it up for a closer look. *Silver. Isn't he the clever one?* Darius had planned the whole thing in advance, probably tampering with the van in order to ambush the wolf. *No, not the wolf. Oz. At least refer to the boy by name, you fucking wanker.*

Spike lowered the knife until it rested point down on the table. He idly scratched a pattern in the wood, still not saying anything. The minions shifted restlessly in the silence, glancing at each other uneasily. Slowly, Spike began walking toward Darius, dragging the knife along the table's surface as he went. The only sound was the scraping of metal against wood, until Spike broke the silence.

"Organize a little raiding party tonight, Darius?" he asked softly, his voice deceptively mild. He raised eyes that burned with blue fire, until they were locked on Darius.

The younger vampire stared back insolently, the wolf's blood giving him a false sense of security. Darius' arrogance almost amused Spike as the minion replied, "I thought it was time to make our move against the Slayer. We were tired of waiting."

"YOU thought. You seem to be under the misconception that what you think actually matters to me. Haven't you learned yet, Darius, exactly who is the Master here?" Ice cold, dangerous, Spike's expression never wavered.

Darius continued on, completely unaware of how imminent his death was. "We took a vote, Spike, and you're out. 'I' killed the werewolf, while all you've done is talk for the past two months. I'm taking over as Master."

Spike rocked the knife on its point, digging a small hole in the table. "And how do you propose to do that? Did you think that killing that boy tonight made you my equal? You arrogant little fuck, you have no idea who you're dealing with."

Darius stood. "I know that you're through here in Sunnydale. You're a joke, Spike...a has been..."

Out of the corner of his eye, Spike saw Jason make a move toward him. He hefted the knife in his left hand and threw it, embedding it in Jason's throat, then whirled and slammed a stake into Julian with his right. As the vampire turned to dust, Spike vaulted over the table and rushed Jason, grabbing the knife out of his throat. He drew back with all of his strength and sliced the blade cleanly through Jason's neck, severing his head. *Two down.* His duster billowed out behind him as he turned to face the other three.

Mark flew at him and Spike spun, catching the other vampire in the face with a perfectly timed kick. Dropping to his knees, he swept Mark's legs out from under him as Kyle grabbed him from behind. Spike threw his head back, connecting with Kyle's nose. He slipped free of the hold and swung around, slamming both fists into Kyle's face. Spike grabbed the minion's arm and twisted, hearing the satisfying crack of bone as it broke. He wrenched it once again, smiling as the radius jutted out from torn skin. *God, I love the smell of bloodshed in the morning.*

Darius and Mark circled him, both still cocky from the blood high. *Let's see what's behind door number two...* Spike reached into his pocket and let fly with a bottle of holy water, smashing it in Mark's face. The vampire screamed as flesh sizzled and burned, his eyes melting from the acid-like effect. Spike dodged a kick from Darius and withdrew another stake, plunging it into Mark's chest.

Kyle came at him, broken arm dangling by his side. Spike evaded him easily, then reached out and grabbed him by the hair. With an almost casual motion, he grasped Kyle's chin and twisted it, snapping the minion's neck.

Dropping the body to the ground, Spike turned to face Darius, an evil grin lighting his human face as he shrugged out of the duster and tossed it on the table.

"Still think you've got what it takes?" he asked, slowly stalking toward his prey.

Darius backed up, grabbing a chair and flinging it at Spike, who avoided it easily. His demon was thoroughly enjoying itself, and it wanted to savor this last bit of violence.

He taunted Darius, wanting to keep the younger vampire off balance. "C'mon, Darius. Make your move...let's see how big those wrinklies are..." He caught the telltale flicker in his opponent's eyes, and set himself, just before Darius rushed at him in anger.

Spike caught the minion as he slammed into him, knocking them both to the floor. He rolled, jabbing an elbow into Darius' face and forcing a knee into his crotch. Darius roared in pain and threw Spike off, struggling to his feet. They faced off again and Spike smirked as Darius slipped into game face, snarling with fury. Angelus' childe was rapidly losing control, while Spike remained entirely composed.

Darius spun and threw a kick at Spike's head, catching him by surprise. He recovered quickly, wiping at the blood that trickled from the corner of his mouth. Spike licked the crimson fluid from his fingers, never taking his eyes from his adversary. He smiled, then slammed his fist into Darius' face.

"Have you figured it out yet?" he growled. "Do you know who you're dealing with?" Spike began driving Darius back toward the wall, backhanding him repeatedly.

Darius stumbled, and grabbed onto Spike's arm, stilling it momentarily. The younger vampire looked into Spike's eyes with a burning hatred. "Yeah, I know who I'm dealing with," he hissed. "The Slayer's new bitch..."

Spike froze, his eyes narrowing as he stared at the sneering face in front of him. Darius laughed at his surprise. "Did you think it was a big secret, you fucking the Slayer? How does it feel to get Angel's sloppy seconds?"

Spike's left hand shot out, wrapping itself around Darius' throat. He slammed the minion up against the wall and held him there, suspended above the floor. Spike growled menacingly, moving in close until their faces were almost touching. "Quite the little spy, aren't you, Darius? Always sneaking around..." He tightened his grip, feeling the the neck bones shift under his hand. "Doesn't matter now, though, does it?"

Darius struggled, clawing at Spike's hand. "Fuck you, Spike," he croaked. "The Slayer will end up dusting you, just like she did Angelus."

Spike smiled evilly. "Who do you think helped her, you stupid git? Did you really think that she killed them both by herself?" Darius' eyes widened as his larynx was crushed under Spike's fingers. "You know what, Darius? You're beginning to bore me...and I hate being bored."

Spike shifted into game face and tore open Darius' throat, drinking greedily as the blood flowed from the wound. He could taste the power of Oz's blood, still lingering in the minion's veins. His demon revelled in the savagery of the act, the potency of the werewolf's essence. *It's been so long since I've had a decent spot of violence...*

He ripped his fangs from the tattered flesh and looked at Darius in disgust. The vampire was barely alive, his eyes wide and staring. Spike let his demon wallow in the pain and fear emanating from the beaten minion. As a final humiliation, he planted a bloody kiss on Darius' mouth, snaking his tongue past swollen lips. Spike pulled back, licking his lips as he grinned into his helpless victim's face. "Goodbye, Darius. Wish I could say that it's been fun..."

He lifted Darius and heaved his body through the blackened set of windows on the eastern wall, hitting the floor as they shattered. The young vampire exploded into flame as soon as the sun's rays touched him, his near fledgling status making him more easily combustible.

Spike moved away from the light, his eyes drifting restlessly over the room. Spotting Kyle's still twitching form, he crawled through the shadows until he reached him, looking down with disinterest at the twisted around head. Spike watched as the the body squirmed in agony, trying desperately to heal itself. Almost as an afterthought, he picked up a stake and calmly drove it into Kyle's heart.

He grabbed a bottle of Jack from where it had fallen during the skirmish and made his way to the door, taking care to stay out of the sunlight streaming through the broken window. His fledglings were still there, staring in awe at his bloodstained appearance as he strode into the main hall. He looked at them with dead eyes, taking in their slack jaws, the fawning worship in their eyes. All he wanted was to be left alone, left to find some sort of drunken oblivion and forget that he'd ever met the Slayer.

In a cold voice, he said, "I'm not in the mood for company. I suggest you all retire for the day." Spike lifted the bottle to his lips and drank, relishing the burn as it went down. "As soon as the sun sets, I want you gone. All of you." He turned his back to them and threw himself on the couch, staring at the fire roaring in the fireplace.

The fledglings looked at each other, relief flooding their trembling bodies. They were eager to be away from the mansion, away from their strange Sire and his ever-changing moods. Far away, in light of his recent rampage. There were safer, more exciting places to be, like L.A., or San Francisco, and without the added pressures of the Hellmouth. Yeah, it was time to head for the big city and leave Sunnydale far behind.

Spike watched the fire, warmed by the flames that reminded him of the Slayer's heat. He chugged from the bottle, lost in thoughts of the tiny blonde who tormented his every waking moment. He wondered if he would ever be able to drive her from his mind, wondered if it would take a stake through the heart to remove her presence. He cursed the day that he'd arrived in this godforsaken town, the biggest mistake he'd ever made in his long, undead life.


Continued