A breath is but a soundless whisper by Blackoberst


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Chapter Notes: As soon as I saw this prompt, the answer came to me, so I just had to write it. Many thanks to Mari for her fabulous beta work and to Sotia for all her help.
He strode confidently down the tunnel that would lead him to his goal.



When all else had failed to cure his beloved Dru, Spike had taken it upon himself to find out if the rumors about elder blood were true. And truly, who could be more of an elder than Old Batface? Swallowing his pride for the time being, he was prepared to play nice for a while when he entered the cavern the Master had been trapped in for decades. As he crossed the threshold where the barrier was supposed to be, he was expecting to see the head of his clan on his throne with mindless minions milling about waiting at his beck and call.



What he did not expect was the lack of barrier and finding Peaches seemingly frozen in place next to a shallow pool. After a brief moment of disorientation, Spike altered his plans to meet the current circumstances, and approached his Sire.



“Well, well, well, fancy meetin’ you here, Peaches. Did the alleys run out of rats or somethin’?” His words trailed off as he noticed what the older vampire had been staring at so intently that he had missed his great entrance. There, face down in the dirty water, was a girl with blonde hair, a white dress and blood dribbling from the two puncture marks in her neck.

When he reached Angel’s side he was finally able to sift through all the rank smells in the air and realized what had happened: she was the Slayer that set the Master free with her life. Dru had been going on and on about this very image for about a year now; one of the reasons he’d tried to distract her with a detour through Prague.



“You’re too late, Spike. She was supposed to be my salvation and I failed her. And now she can’t even be your third. So leave. The Master is somewhere up there wreaking havoc, why don’t you go with him?” What startled Spike was the resignation in his voice, the broken tone that should have warmed his unbeating heart with the knowledge that the Poofter had been kicked down another notch.



But instead… it made him mad as hell!



He got down on his knees and pulled the girl out of the water, surprised to discover that even in this state, with her soaked hair clinging to her pale skin, her eyes closed and the wound in her neck, she was still beautiful. These Chosen birds are always lookers. Pity that. What drew his attention, however, was that feeling he got when someone was not quite dead yet, she was on the verge of the moment when a bloody wrist was dangled in front of his preys’ faces to give them the chance to become the hunters of the night.



Turning his stormy blue eyes towards the still immobile Angel, he got a very bad idea. The idea was so bad that it could lead to nothing but pain and destruction. Just how I like ‘em.



“You do know that the bird’s not dead yet, Gramps. I’m willin’ to bet all it would take would be a couple of huffs and puffs and she’ll break Death’s door down.” Angel’s guilty look told him all he needed to know: the ol’ bastard knew! With a twinkle in his eye, he decided to see how far he could take this new information. “So seein’ as how I’m a right helpful bloke and all, I’ll even tell you what to do to save the ‘One bird in all the realm’.” He opened the girl’s slack mouth and looked up at the silent vampire. “All you gotta do is hold her quirky nose and use all that hot air nature gifted you with to help her breathe a bit.”



Glancing down at her body, he moved his hands lower, gliding them barely an inch over her still form until he reached the center of her chest. “Then you put your grubby paws between these perky little breasts and push a few times and ta-daaaa,” he said with a broad grin, extending his palms like a presenter in a circus. “You’ve got live Slayer again.” His grin threatened to split his face when the only answer his little show and tell garnered was a flinch and a tormented look.



“I can’t.”



“What was that, Peaches? Speak up. I think maybe I got some water in my ears, but I thought you said you can’t?” Spike faked being surprised so badly, a blind man could have spotted it.



“I can’t, all right? It’s-” Angel shuddered once, then jerked back as if something had bitten him. “I can’t touch her.”



“Could it be that the widdle bitty Poofter is afraid the smell of her blood will make him drain her dry instead of giving her CPR?” Spike was enjoying this so much he was sure the memory alone would make him giddy for years to come. “Or is her cooling body so enticin’ that you’re havin’ all those bad thoughts the gypsies found so bloody outrageous? Fancy a roll in the dirt with the Slayer’s corpse?” He had been expecting a punch, a growl, anything except the deer caught in the headlights look on Angel’s face. Spike just couldn’t take it anymore and he burst into an all out laughter.



Realizing his mistake, Angel quickly tried to backtrack and started spluttering denials and shouting his outrage, only to cause Spike to dissolve into even heartier gales of laughter. Between gasps for air he did not really need, Spike threw more jibes at the bane of his unlife. “Methinks he doth protest too much.”



Suddenly, somewhere deep within his brain, a proverbial light bulb clicked on and his laughter died in an instant. All traces of mirth having left him, he focused back on the girl sprawled at his feet. He raised one hand and caressed her cheek, tucking the strands covering her face behind her ear. Whispering almost to himself, he mused out loud. “Unless I save her.”



Angel was so shocked by the words coming out of the younger vampire’s mouth that he wasn’t even able to come up with a response as Spike proceeded to do just what he had been urging him to do in the first place.



With his right hand holding her nostrils closed, he used the fingers of his left hand to make sure her mouth would stay open. He leaned in closer to her face, fighting every urge in his body that told him to finish the obviously half-done job of draining her dry. He focused instead on the girl’s vital signs, or lack thereof at the moment. When his lips touched hers, his brain registered for a second that this was almost kissing, but then proceeded to exhale deeply, filling her lungs. As he came up for air, he knew he would see this through.



“What the hell kind of a game are you playing at, Spike? The Slayer of Slayers suddenly decides to rescue one? What’s the catch?” Angel asked, entranced by his grandchilde’s movements. He was gentle, caring almost, diligently performing the procedure that could save Buffy. He tried getting closer, but the smell of her blood was now so powerful, it took all of his self restraint to keep himself from kicking the other male away and having his way with her body. Like in the good old times. The thought sickened him.



Not bothering to answer Angel, Spike started pumping the Slayer’s chest in an attempt to get her heart going again. He wasn’t sure exactly why he was doing what he was doing, but it felt right.



Bloody ponces, the lot of them. I bet the bastard used thrall to get her. He snorted to himself in disdain. It’s one thing to have Dru do her magic on some poor git or bird when it’s almost dawn or you’re on a cruise, but using it to bag a Slayer? That’s just cheating. I bet that other pillock, Lothos, used the same tricks on the others. Heard this one got him, though, so ol’ Batface must have caught her at her weakest. A shame, really, seein’ as how she could have been my third. I bet she would hav- His inner thoughts were derailed as the Slayer’s heart started beating on its own and she started gasping for air and coughing up water.



Caught by surprise as he was closing in for another round of mouth-to-mouth, his eyes locked with hers and time seemed to stop for a moment. Green eyes like the grass in spring. Like the waters of the Mediterranean on a sunny summer’s day. What the bloody hell am I thinking? Just as quickly as it had started, the moment ended as Buffy pushed the stranger off her and raised herself on surprisingly steady feet. Angel’s jaw was so slack he couldn’t form any words.



“The Master?” Buffy asked, not bothering with any pleasantries.



“Was gone when I got here, couldn’t have been more than five minutes ago.” Spike was lighting a cigarette and sizing her up and down. Good instincts, quick reflexes, steady muscles, a relaxed pose disguising a fighting stance, prioritizing threats. Looks like I got me a challenge.



“And you are?” She asked, raising an eyebrow and crossing her arms over her chest.




“Name’s Spike. Best remember that for our next time.”



“You’re a vampire with the name of a dog that apparently just gave me CPR. What am I missing?” Her foot started tapping impatiently.




“I’m not named after a bloody mutt, Slayer, so watch your mouth. Is that how you treat those that save your pretty little ass?” Spike added a leer for good measure, his hands now framing his crotch, leaving little to the imagination about his idea of a proper treatment for saviors.



“As if! Now tell me why I shouldn’t make you like in the Kansas song?” That earned her a chuckle from the bleach-blond vampire.



“First off, Goldilocks, you seem to have misplaced your stake.” At his words, her eyes widened a bit and she started thinking of ways to get her hands on one. “Second of all, I just saved your ungrateful hide, so I think you owe me.” She merely huffed with impatience as her eyes finally landed on the discarded stake on the other side of the water. “Third, I think you have bigger fish to fry than little ol’ Spike. If I know anything about Old Batface, then he’s probably on his way to the Hellmouth tryin’ to end the bloody world.” He smirked at the brief flash of alarm on her face. “So don’t mind me, seein’ as we’ll meet again to play catch up.”



Looking at the dumbfounded expression on Angel’s face, Spike felt he had a little something extra to add. “Sorry to ruin your necrophilia fetish, Gramps, I guess you’ll have to taste her cunny and blood another way.”



“Ewww, how can you-” Buffy froze in place at Angel’s reaction. He wasn’t outraged. He wasn’t denying it. He looked guilty and a bit annoyed, like someone being caught at a lie. Her heart shattered as her stomach churned. Steeling herself against anything that was trivial, however, she decided it could wait. When she turned to ask Spike something else, he was gone, presumably down the tunnels and into the labyrinth underneath Sunnydale. He, too, would have to wait.



“Angel, you go to the library and hold off there, I’ll take care of the Master.” Her voice was hard and her eyes were cold, something Angel hadn’t really seen in her before. It made a chill run down his spine.



“It’s not like he implied, I-”



“I don’t care right now. The world could end tonight, so we can have the Springer thing another time. Let’s go.”



“Are you sure you’re ok, Buffy?” Angel asked tentatively, trying to touch her shoulder. He felt hurt when she flinched and stepped away from him. So that was Spike’s game. And I played right into it.



“I said later, Angel. Library, Giles, fighting, now!” Without even a backward glance, Buffy started marching towards the exit and away from any possibility of a relationship with the souled vampire.



“Yeah, fighting.” he mumbled, dragging his feet over the decades of dirt.




~~~***~~~



It was all over. The Master was dusted, the Hellmouth was closed, all her friends were alive and she had saved the world again. Her happiness was short-lived, however, as thoughts of what had happened in the Master’s lair came crashing down on her after the battle. Her death and Angel’s apparent betrayal were weighing down on her like lead. Slayers don’t cry. Thinking about the lair, however, brought back the image of her savior and she turned to Giles, who was currently sweeping the floor in a vain attempt to set some order in the world.



“Giles, what can you tell me about a vampire called Spike?”



That got the elderly Brit’s attention and he paused from his sweeping to clean his glasses. “Yes, well, I don’t believe the name rings a bell just now. I’ll have to research it.” Buffy almost smiled at her Watcher’s need for research, but that died too as she felt the sting of his betrayal. How could he have kept that Prophecy from me? What, I didn’t deserve to know I was going to die?



Her thoughts were interrupted by Angel’s voice and she flinched in distaste. “Look him up under William the Bloody.”



“Who’s that, Buff, some new guy trying to fill the Master’s shoes already?” Xander asked, still feeling the effects of the adrenaline pumping through his veins. At Buffy’s silence, he turned to ask Angel something else, only to find him gone. “We really need a bell collar for that guy.”



Giles came back from his office, after checking on the Watcher diaries. “Oh, dear. It says here he is also known as the Slayer of Slayers, the only vampire to have killed two Slayers in less than one hundred years. The moniker Spike comes from his penchant to ram railroad spikes in his victim’s heads in the first days of his turning, back in the early 19th century. He was sired by Drusilla, now presumed dead, who was sired in turn by Angelus. Together with Darla, the four of them made up the Scourge of Europe before Angel’s ensoulement.” He raised his eyes to meet his Slayer’s at the end of his short presentation.



“Whoah, G-man, that’s some serious vampireness. Please tell me he’s not here, Buffster.” Xander pleaded with his eyes, while Willow clutched his arm tight, still not fully recovered from the night’s ordeal.



“How, may I ask, did you come by his name? Did Angel mention him as a potential threat, or-”



Looking sadly at the people around her, Buffy shook her head, the rapid-fire of information having left her emotionally drained. “He’s the one that saved me in the Master’s lair. He brought me back from death.” With those words, the Slayer circled her arms protectively around herself and slowly started to make her way home, leaving the stunned Scoobies to look helplessly at each other.



From his concealed position in a dark corner of the upper stacks of the library, Spike smirked and slinked away into the shadows. So our dance truly begins.
Chapter Endnotes: There may be a sequel.

Edit: There will be a continuation.


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