Thanks to loosestring and Ozma914. Sorry for the delay!

"This Time She's Right"

"I'm sorry. I couldn't stop myself… But that's no excuse." She mumbled, grabbing one of the pieces of wood from the floor, grasping it as if for dear life.

"You have to believe when I say, that all I want is for Connor to be safe. And I'm not well, and I don't trust myself." Angel could see that Darla was about to kill herself. But he couldn't seem to bring himself to stop her in that moment.

Angel watched on in silence as Darla, his sire, the mother of his only child, down on her knees with a stake at her chest.

"I'm so, so sorry Angel. That child is the best thing that we've ever done. I don't know or understand why I tried to take that away. Don't let him grow up to be like us- like me." She pleaded tearfully. Closing her eyes, she pulled the stake back arms length. Just as she was about to plunge it in, she heard a loud, firm, "Don't." Angel turned and saw a very angry and very distressed Drusilla.

"Darla, put it down, now." She commanded. Darla looked at her with teary eyes full of confusion, but she put it down.

"Dru, what are you-"

"Not now, Daddy. Someone's been poisoning our Darla, driving her to the purest blood of the little lamb. It put voices in her head. It's not her own doing." Drusilla explained as she slowly walked towards the fallen blonde vampire. She lowered herself on her knees and slowly began stroking Darla's hair.

"What are you saying, Dru?" Angel asked, his anger towards Darla abating slightly.

"The blood she drank, it was full of Connor's. They want him to die."

"Who?" Dru looked at Angel as if he were the one who was insane.

"Holtz, of course. He's been working with the Wolf, the Ram and the Heart as well. Angel, didn't you know?"

"Holtz is back? When did that happen?" Angel in fact, had not known. And just when he thought that things were going to get easier…


Buffy couldn't help but feel that something was definitely going on, but she couldn't put her finger on it. It seemed as if Spike had been gradually pulling away from her the last few days. She didn't believe that her mind was playing tricks on her, or that somehow or other she was gradually becoming delusional, but Spike barely looked her in the eye lately. It was disturbing. What was even more disturbing was that she had yet to find a way of bringing the situation up to him. Of course he would deny, and deny it and call her crazy, so she had to find an alternate plan. She just hadn't come up with one yet. But she was darn sure that she would. She still didn't. Feeling antsy and on dancing on the lines of desperate, she decided to have a nice talk with Willow and Anya at the Magic Box.

Actually, she would have preferred just Willow, or Willow and Tara, but Anya more or less refused to leave the shop. When she tried to get Anya to go for donuts or something, but Anya being Anya, stated simply that it was her duty to stand in close proximity of the cash register, in case something not so good occurred. She then said that Buffy, Willow and Tara were fully capable of getting donuts themselves if they wanted them so much. Tara volunteered. Buffy, feeling much impatient, began telling her tale, even if she did have to face Anya and her not so tactful self. Then she thought that perhaps it was for the best, since Anya could never hold back on honesty. 'An honest opinion,' Buffy thought, 'should really be for the best.'

"So like, I dunno. I just get this feeling like Spike is having an affair or something."

"Oh, Buffy no! You are all Spike thinks about, I'm sure of it!" Willow yelled, with her worried face. She didn't know how to handle the situation.

"Wills, calm down. I don't mean like, physically or with a woman or anybody, just… It's like he's got guilt written all over him, ya know? And I don't know what it is." Buffy explained.

"Maybe he's having second thoughts." Anya said thoughtfully.

"Second thoughts? About what?"

"Well, let's see. I mean, first he's like this total Master Vamp, who's killed two Slayers and banged a third."

"Hey-" Buffy started, but Anya continued.

"Then, when he comes back to see said Slayer, perhaps to kill you or bang you some more, who knows? He finds out that you're knocked up with his child! Which is almost unprecedented for vampires, cause they shoot blanks. So, miracle, prophecy, the gem or ring or whatever, made this all possible. Then, he's kidnapped by some psycho genius who's made up of demon, human, and machine parts who turns him into a human, of sorts. Over a century's passed, and now he's stuck with a kid and a heartbeat. I mean wow! That must have been an awful shock for someone who used to kill to live and probably for his own entertainment as well. Now all of a sudden, he's just this average Joe, with super powers, mind you, who's stuck playing house until the kid grows up, or one of you dies." Anya finished.

"Oh, come on Anya! That is so, so inaccurate in certain parts. Spike loves Buffy and Joy very, very much." Willow said passionately, looking Buffy in the eyes.

"I know he does, Will. But still, something's way off."

"I told you already! He has problems coping. I mean, former demon sitting right here." Anya said irritably.


"No, Willow. Maybe, maybe there's some truth in it. I don't know, but there has to be a reasonable explanation to why he's acting like this. Like he's distancing himself from me, literally. We snuggle up close at night, but in the morning, he's on the other side of the bed or not even there at all! He said he 's been out walking, but… nobody likes to walk that much, I'm sure of it."

"Is he still all gushy and affectionate with the baby?" Anya asked. Buffy furrowed her brow in concentration. He was still close and caring and loving to Joy since the day she was born, but lately, though…

"Sad eyes." Buffy blurted out. Anya gave her a perplexed looked as Willow said "huh?"

"Every time he's with her, he gives her these sad, forlorn eyes. I don't know how to explain it, but…"

"Oh, Buffy I'm so sorry." Anya said sadly, grabbing one of Buffy's hands and giving it a squeeze.

"What? Why?"

"Anya, what are you thinking?" Willow asked cautiously.

"You guys, in my past profession, I've seen it a thousand times. This was the reason for about 35 of the time women sought vengeance. Dammit, I knew he couldn't cope." Anya said ruefully.

"What is it Anya? What do you know?" Buffy asked worriedly.

"Buffy, Spike is gonna leave you. The signs are literally written on his face. If you take a closer look, I'm sure that you'll see-"

"Enough, Anya. You're wrong, and you shouldn't be worrying Buffy like this." Willow said in a low voice.

"I'm telling you guys, but if you don't want to listen, then fine by me. I'm not saying that Spike wants to go, but he's obviously in a lot of pain right now. Maybe he doesn't want to weigh it down on you, whatever it may be." Buffy thought solemnly that Anya may be right.

TBC in "Secrets and Lies"