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Whispers 2a/4

My first Spuffy fic, Whispers, has never been posted to my journal (it’s at seven_seasons ), so I am doing that now.  If you’ve already read it, there isn’t anything new.  I just wanted to have all my stories available on my journal.  Also, if anyone felt like making a banner for it, I wouldn’t say no :)

Title: Whispers
Chapter: Two, Part A ~ She Said, She Said
Rating/Warning: NC-17 for sexual situations and blood play.
Summary: After Spike endures torture at the hands of Glory to protect the identity of the Key, Buffy is forced to reconsider everything she ever thought she knew about the vampire, leading to some startling revelations.
Setting: Season 5, immediately post-Intervention.
Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.  They are being used out of respect and admiration, and not for the sake of profit.  No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: This story is self-beta’d and I know that there are errors and other things that could be fixed to make it better.  However, this is the way it was first posted and I am leaving it be.  The chapters are massive so they have to be posted in pieces.
Banner: xtanitx 
Previous Chapter: Chapter One, Part B

 


 

Chapter Two, Part A
She Said, She Said

*~*

 

Buffy had truthfully intended to patrol.  Her one disastrous punching bag encounter hardly satisfied her need to hit something, and her fists positively itched with desire to sink themselves into the squishy and demonic.  This was one of those times when she was forced to admit that she not only enjoyed, but needed the physical rush she received from fighting.  The existence of this darker part of herself, the part she always tried to hide away in order to embrace normalcy, was partly to blame for her feelings of hardness, of turning into stone, as she’d told Giles.  She hated knowing that, even as she fought for the light, darkness existed inside her that she not only had to live with, but suspected was actually a good part of what gave her strength as the Slayer.  What truly galled her, though, was that Spike knew all about it, called her on it, refused to let her deny it, no matter what words she formed to the contrary.

 

Of course he would get it, she mused, scanning the quiet graveyard as she wandered slowly amongst the headstones.  That vampire is way too perceptive for my own good.

 

Though her bones ached for a good fight, her mind kept straying to Spike.  She felt just distracted enough that she feared she’d be unable to maintain her usual vigilance.  All she needed was to get caught up in another argument with herself long enough to miss the arrival of an opportunistic creature of the night.  Thoughts of heading home crossed her mind, but she recalled with unsettling guilt the image of the beaten vampire she’d left behind in his crypt that afternoon.

 

With a resounding sigh, Buffy made a decision and headed toward town, hoping she could scrounge enough dollars to get what she needed.

 

*~*

 

Paper bag clutched protectively beneath her coat, Buffy approached the crypt with caution, all her senses wide open in case anything lingered nearby.  She detected nothing, but kept her guard up all the same as she reached the door, noting with some relief — and how strange was that? — that the door remained tightly shut.  After a moment of indecision, Buffy chose to knock softly.  She waited, and when no answer came from within, she pushed it open.  The creek of its hinges echoed in the silence.

 

Moonlight touched unlit candles and cast bluish shadows over the room.  The sarcophagus where she’d left Spike was vacant, but the nearby trapdoor stood open.  Edging inside, Buffy closed the outer door and waited for her eyesight to adjust to the dimmer light filtering in through the crypt’s high, dirty windows.  The relative darkness revealed a muted glow flickering up from the lower level, and Buffy made her way cautiously across the crypt.

 

“Spike?” she called softly.  She heard a muffled moan as she reached the hole in the floor, and peered down into the opening.

 

Spike was sprawled face-down in an uncomfortable pile of twisted limbs on the cement block at the base of the ladder.  It looked as though he had fallen through the hole and simply remained where he landed.  Buffy felt a rush of alarm flash through her, and she quickly navigated the narrow stair.

 

“Spike?” she repeated as she crouched next to him, fingers feathering over his shoulder, unwilling to jolt him awake or inadvertently hurt him by touching too firmly.

 

Spike mumbled something unintelligible, then fell silent a moment before his whole body grew rigid with tension.

 

“Spike, it’s Buffy,” she whispered.

 

Spike’s right eye snapped open, the left one swollen so much his lashes barely twitched.  “Slayer?” he croaked, taking in an obvious breath through his nose and then grimacing in pain.

 

She should have realized his injuries had affected his sense of smell when he didn’t mark her right away that afternoon.  “It’s me,” she assured him.  “Do you think you can stand, if I help?”

 

Spike groaned and turned with visible effort onto his back.  “Mind closin’ the door first, love?  Meant to do it myself, but my legs had other ideas.”

 

“Why’d you come down?” Buffy asked, as she pulled the heavy slab to cover the hole and descended the ladder.

 

“Figured it better’n waitin’ round up there for hell bitch’s lackeys to show back up,” he answered tersely, clearly agitated over his helplessness and likely her witnessing of it.  He sighed then and she heard the pain behind it.  “I come down here, ‘f I need to lie low a while.”

 

Buffy stepped gingerly around the supine vampire, climbing down to stand on the dusty floor while a groaning Spike managed to sit, legs dangled over the block’s edge.  She could see the amount of energy required for him to maintain the position, and knew he hated showing even temporary weakness, especially in front of her.  Although some of the abrasions had faded, his fall from the ladder had most likely aggravated his internal injuries, and his arms trembled from holding himself up.

 

She realized she was staring at him and quickly shifted her gaze, though she felt the lingering presence of Spike’s appraising eye.

 

“Why are you here, Slayer?”

 

She looked back up to find him staring at her intently, and she realized that some of the tension she saw in his body stemmed from anxiety over her presence. 

 

Probably expects me to take back what I said before, Buffy thought, knowing with sudden, self-depreciating certainty that such a turnabout from herself would be neither unexpected nor unprecedented.

 

She sighed, unsure of whether to smile at him or affect a more familiar expression.  She settled on more or less neutral, though she hoped she managed to convey her lack of hostility.  “Let’s get you off that block, okay, then we’ll talk.”

 

Judging by the surprise on his face, he clearly hadn’t expected those words from her.  He warred with himself over his response; Buffy saw his features flit between guarded and hopeful, irritated and pleased.  After a short inner conflict, he tilted his head to the left, toward the wall beside them.

 

“Got a couch round the corner there,” he answered, now looking more or less resigned to the fact that he needed her help to get to it.

 

It took several attempts, multiple curses, and her hitting her forehead on the block before they finally succeeded in getting him down.  As soon as he tried to take his weight, Spike’s knees buckled and Buffy had to brace herself against the concrete to keep him upright.  With Buffy’s shoulder wedged firmly into his armpit and her arm around his waist, they limped and stumbled their way around the wall and into the open room. 

 

It seemed Spike had made some effort to tidy the crypt since her last disastrous visit, for all but one of the dusty coffins with their dustier contents that had previously littered the space were now stacked against the side wall.  An oversized, well-made wooden casket sat in the middle of the room, with a few tables, shelves, and boxes of knickknacks — clearly scavenged — scattered nearby in a semi-ordered cluster, as though Spike had not yet figured out where to put them.  Buffy could see that what she had originally thought only a small, blind alcove actually contained a rubble-filled opening back to the ladder, as well as a doorway into yet another room.

 

Spike nodded toward the opening and Buffy half dragged, half carried him around the obstacles and through the opening in the back wall.  The room was about half the size of the alcove and almost entirely blanketed in darkness.  The glow from the torch near the stairs lit only the doorway, but it was enough for Buffy to make out the shape of a couch in the darkest corner.  Upon reaching it, Spike let himself fall away from her and onto it, wincing and muttering something like bloody hell.

 

“I...I’ll be right back,” Buffy said, backing toward the door, wanting to give him a little dignity while he arranged himself more comfortably.

 

She hurried back through the alcove and around the corner to the ladder, retrieving the paper bag from where she’d left it on the ground near the block.  She leaned back against the concrete for a moment, taking in a breath and steadying her nerves before heading back to Spike.  Not for the first time, she questioned her decision to come back here tonight, though the thought of him lying helpless, when anything could just wander in and take advantage, made her thankful that she had.  Showing concern for Spike’s wellbeing still felt foreign, but it was the least he deserved after everything he had gone through today.  That knowledge didn’t make it any easier, though, and in and of itself, it wouldn’t help her convince him of her good intentions.  That part was entirely up to her.

 

Buffy took down the torch from its place on the wall, reminding her of the night she’d first visited the lower level of Spike’s crypt.  The archway to the side passage where he had chained her stood empty, and the shrine of drawings, photographs, and clothing had fortunately disappeared.  She feared her resolve might have fled had she been forced to look at that reminder of the obsessive side of Spike’s feelings for her.  While she grudgingly admitted to herself that he did love her, things like that and the robot served as reminders that despite his changes, he still didn’t always understand the boundaries between appropriate and everything else on the other side of that shaky line.

 

When she returned to the small room, Spike sat with his back against the arm of the couch and his legs stretched across the cushions.  He leaned with clear exhaustion against the couch’s back, and watched her with a guarded expression as she touched the flame to the unlit torch on the wall nearest the couch, and then placed hers into the empty sconce by the doorway. His position left a small open space at one end of the couch, and she sat there, feeling awkward.  The tension in the room was obvious and Spike’s searching gaze oscillated rapidly between her face and the paper bag she held on her lap. 

 

“I uh...brought you some blood,” Buffy explained, tilting the bag forward so that he could peek at its contents.  “It’s just pig, but I thought you might need it.”

 

She could not read Spike’s expression, though she’d caught the brief flicker of surprise following her announcement of the bag’s contents.  His eye focused intently on the bag, but his face remained impassive.

 

“Have you eaten?”

 

Spike jerked his head back and looked at her as though only just realizing she was there.  The almost wild look in his eye faded immediately into recognition, giving the impression that he’d suddenly come out of a trance.  “Just what I had upstairs.  Wasn’t much.”

 

His gaze drifted immediately back to the bag and his fingers clenched and unclenched themselves against his jeans.  He was clearly starving.  What small amount of blood he’d consumed to this point hadn’t been enough to sate his hunger, more potent than usual due to the severity of his injuries.

 

Buffy reached into the sack and pulled out a plastic bag of blood, reaching across the couch to hand it to him.  With trembling fingers, Spike eagerly took it as his face shifted.  With a feral growl, he buried is fangs and his whole face into it, rooting like an infant in one instant, shaking and pulling at it like an animal the next.  He swallowed great, greedy mouthfuls, neither noticing nor caring that the excess dripped from the corners of his mouth and ran down his neck.

 

Buffy watched with a mixture of fascination and disgust, at once strangely intrigued and instinctually appalled.  She had seen Spike feeding before, from bags, bottles, and mugs, but never with the full, vampiric intensity he now displayed.  It spoke to both how hungry he was and how good he had become at controlling his instincts.  Chip or not, Buffy knew with certainty that any other vampire in this state of hunger would have braved the migraine and gone for her neck, tearing into it with the same ferocity as Spike showed devouring the bagged blood, or frying his brain in the attempt.

 

Spike quickly drained the bag, dropping it to the floor and wiping his face with the bottom of his ruined shirt.  He looked at her apologetically, an expression made more potent for the fact that it appeared on his demonic face, but took the second bag from her without complaint.  The immediacy of his hunger staved, he held it a moment, expression shifting toward curiosity.  “It’s warm?”

 

“I asked them to heat it there,” Buffy answered, mouth turning up in a tentative smile.  “Warm’s better, right?  The butcher didn’t even bat an eye, but I did catch him checking for my reflection.”

 

Spike’s mouth twitched with humour, though she saw his lingering uncertainty.  It wasn’t enough to make him question her generosity yet, though, and he calmly pierced the film of the second bag and drank.  He now showed far more restraint, sucking slowly but eagerly at the punctures without the violent, predatory motions, and by the time he finished, his hands no longer trembled and his face had returned to its human form.  He leaned back against the couch, meeting her eye quizzically.

 

Obviously, he wanted to know the reasons behind her uncharacteristic compassion, but Buffy didn’t know how exactly to explain it.  She could hardly just open her mouth and blurt out everything she’d been thinking since that afternoon, and she hadn’t thought far enough ahead to realize that he’d want an explanation.  She returned his look uncertainly, and this seemed to ease some of Spike’s wariness. 

 

“You’d be surprised,” Spike remarked, breaking the silence, “how many of us patronize that butcher.”

 

Small talk, Buffy thought with some relief, was something she could handle.  “More chip-heads out there?”

 

He scowled subtly at that, but let the slight go.  “Just me, as far as I know,” he answered.  “But every vampire has a night where food’s scarce and fresh pig’s better ‘n goin’ hungry.”

 

Buffy raised a sceptical eyebrow.  “And they couldn’t just eat the butcher?”

 

Spike chuckled at this.  “That’s been known to happen.”

 

“I have more, if you need it,” she offered, setting the bag on the floor below the couch.

 

Spike looked pointedly at the bag and back at her, the humour gone from his face and replaced with that hardened mask she’d come to realize represented his most guarded expression.  Whatever he was thinking or feeling, the pursed lips and slightly jutted jaw offered no clues and managed to appear menacing all at once.  “Yeah, about that...”

 

She thought she should feel offended that he would automatically question her motives, but found she could not.  Her treatment of Spike in the recent past offered him no reasons at all to trust her without suspect.  That afternoon, as she’d tried to express her gratitude for what he had done, she’d still been cold and businesslike, aside from the chaste kiss she’d given him.  How many times had she roughed him up, knowing that he could take it but was unable to fight back?  She didn’t make a practice of physically lashing out at harmless creatures, but while Spike could hit demons, he was harmless, in the physical sense, against her.  She had simply considered it the best way of dealing with Spike — violence was something he knew — never thinking that she might get better results appealing to other aspects of the vampire’s personality.

 

Aspects she hadn’t let herself recognize until tonight.

 

Intelligence sparkled behind those blue eyes of his, not just the rapacious hunger or wanton destructiveness she usually noted in vampires.  Certainly he glinted with that feral look at times, but never did Spike appear purely an animal.  Perhaps that was a result of existing for over a century or perhaps Spike really was that unique.  Whatever the reason for it, she could not deny it any more. 

 

“I wanted to thank you,” she answered, tentatively, “for today.  For what you did.”

 

He maintained the expression, what Buffy could only define as his Spike-face. “Already did that.”

 

Buffy felt her sense of defensiveness rising in the face of his continued standoffishness, and she crossed her arms over her chest.  “Yeah, well, I wasn’t exactly nice about it.”

 

Spike leaned forward slightly, unable to fully suppress the grimace of pain in response to his movements.  “Just got done revelling in the afterglow of rompin’ with the robot,” he retorted. “Didn’t expect nice.  Sure didn’t expect a return visit with offerings of warm blood.”

 

A stab of fury tore through her and she glared down the couch at him.  “God, are you trying to make me change my mind?” 

 

Buffy knew he’d said it in a blatant attempt to goad her into anger, likely hoping that she’d lose patience in whatever game she was playing and get to the real reason behind her visit.  Nevertheless, Spike had the ability to get under her skin, to crack the surface of her resolve and poke at everything she tried to conceal like no other, and if he wanted her mad, he’d certainly get it.  Even though she knew it, she could no more prevent her response than he could start his heart beating.  “Why do I bother?”

 

He cocked his head to the side in a way that seemed both curious and filled with mockery.  “Why do you?”

 

She had no answer for that, at least not one she was ready to give him, and so narrowed her eyes and set her jaw, doing her best to maintain the expression as she stared at the beaten but determined face of the vampire at the other end of the couch.

 

When he spoke, his voice was low, grave, but thick with emotion he couldn’t bury despite the pointed nature of his words.  “If you’re here outta pity, I don’ want it,” he spat.  “Thanks for the snack but you can take your perky li’l hide and get gone.”

 

Buffy jumped to her feet so quickly she didn’t even recall moving, and was standing in front of Spike, gripping the tattered remnants of his t-shirt in her fists, face inches away from his.  “I’m not here out of pity, you jerk, I’m here because I wanted to help—”

 

“Don’ need—”

 

“No, you don’t, but I don’t know, maybe you might want it?”  She let go of his shirt with a violent opening of her hands, resisting the urge to shove him backward.  “Lord knows you deserve it.”

 

Buffy stood back and they stared hard at each other, his face unreadable, hers brimming with indignation.

 

Slowly, Spike’s facial mask fell, and one corner of his mouth curled in snide humour.  “Who are you, and what have you done with the Slayer?”

 

Buffy tossed her arms in the air and turned away from him, biting back a number of responses likely to lead to nowhere but more of this defensive posturing.  “God, you’re an idiot, you know that?” she growled, rounding on him again.  “I’m here because I wanna be.  I want you to know how much it meant to me what you did today a-and I wanted to make sure you were okay.” 

 

The last slipped out with far more candour than she was accustomed to using with Spike, leaving him clearly taken aback by her forwardness in admitting her concern for him.  The stunned expression that had replaced the sarcasm shortly faded into wariness.

 

“Trust me,” she said, sinking back down to her place on the couch, “it’s as weird for me as it is for you.”

 

If Spike had truly felt any measure of the hostility he’d expressed, his countenance showed no signs of it now.  He appeared contemplative, and regarded her in quiet speculation.  “And on that, we agree,” he decided at last.  “What gives, then?”

 

He was looking at her expectantly, and she searched his face for a moment, trying to read him.  She couldn’t quite place his expression, except to say that it seemed to hold a certain degree of guarded anticipation, as though he expected her coming words would either make his day, or ruin it entirely.

 

“What you did today,” Buffy began, trying to ignore the fluttering nervousness rising in her chest.  “Spike, you let her torture you!  You had the answer she wanted and you let her do...this...to you.”  She gestured vaguely in the direction of his battered face.  “You didn’t have to do it, but you did, and...it’s...incredible.  I’ve spent all evening trying to get my head around it.”

 

Buffy almost didn’t hear him answer.  Spike dropped his head and appeared to be watching his fingers pick at his chipped black nail polish.  When the words sounded, they came on a whisper of breath.  “Had to.”

 

“What?”

 

“I had to,” he repeated, keeping his head down, intently focused on the motions of his hands.  “I meant it, what I said before.  Couldn’t do that to you.”

 

When he looked back up at her, the depth of the emotion radiating from him overwhelmed her.  Intense, painful, vibrant feeling poured out to her from his one open eye, and from the honest, desperate expression on his broken face.  All pretence had vanished, and it was just Spike, open and vulnerable and laying his heart out before her. 

 

“I know it don’t matter much to you, Slayer, but I love you,” he continued, and this time the confession didn’t prompt her to turn away.  “’M fond of the Niblet, too, an’ whether you want me or not, I don’t hurt my women.  Not ever.”

 

Buffy recalled very few instances during the course of her life where she could say with any honesty that time actually stopped.  The most recent occurrence marked the singular most devastating moment of her existence, when her mother’s lifeless body lay before her and the world had come to a crashing halt.  Other occasions, no less significant, had likewise defied the laws of nature — the moment she truly understood the meaning of her calling, the day her father walked out of their home and away from her life, and a single, blissful, stolen moment during that fateful, rain-soaked night when innocence ceased to exist.

 

Spike’s words weren’t revolutionary; he had not divulged anything she had not already known.  Yet undeniably, something, some combination of timing, of tone, or her own newly acquired acceptance, rendered time and motion completely irrelevant.  Buffy’s stomach lurched, then dropped away altogether into weightlessness, and she sat, frozen, gaping with unbridled astonishment.  When her heart started beating again, it pulsed loudly, insistently in her ears, whispering its vehement demand for acknowledgement of the significance of the moment.  Time didn’t stop for just anything; what transpired in that instant may well have changed the world.

 

A beat passed and time resumed, and she struggled to form a coherent word.  After several arrested attempts, she managed an uncertain, “I...”

 

Spike closed off in a flash, clearly misreading the half-witted expression signifying her disorientation.  “Just...don’t,” he grumbled, looking down again at his hands.  “I know you don’t believe it’s real, just do us a favour and don’t rub it in.”

 

“But—”

 

“I mean it, Slayer.  If you—”

 

“I believe you.”

 

 
*~*

 

 

>>Chapter Two, Part B


 
 

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