a/n: So, I finally took the plunge and have decided to try my hand in a new fandom. This is my first BtVS fic, so I'd really love to know how I did. This story came about as I was rewatching old episodes on dvd and revisiting all of those Buffy/Spike moments that left us all wanting more. There's dozen's of stories that tackle "Intervention" and I thought I'd share with you my version.

Disclaimer: Just love Buffy and Spike, don't own 'em.


It's just …the guy was so thrashed."

Buffy Summers shook her head as she stalked through the cemetery towards Spike's crypt. She kept hearing Xander's words in her head, and the faint accusatory tone in which he'd said them. Xander actually felt bad for Spike. The vampire had built a Buffy-bot so that he could play whatever sick, revolting games that he wanted, and Xander felt bad because his little playmate had been broken. Thrashed. Who cares? Spike probably deserved every blow. Besides, Xander was the last person who should care at all about Spike. Xander hated Spike. Come to think of it, Xander hated any man who dared to look at Buffy, but that was not the point. The point was, Xander was way off base on this one. Spike had given Dawn up. Glory had to know who the Key was and where to find her, and where had she obtained this information? Spike, that's where. Spike did not have one single honorable bone in his undead body. He'd probably folded so quickly that Glory beat him senseless just to amuse herself and pass a little time. If she knew Dawn's secret, she didn't need to act quickly. She probably enjoyed torturing the treacherous vampire.

Still, there was the nagging outside possibility that Buffy and Xander had broken up the party before Spike had been broken. There was a chance that Glory did not find out what she needed to know. If she hadn't asked the right questions, or if Spike was feeling particularly obstinate, it could have taken some time. So, in order to be completely certain, Buffy had taken the pink, skirty outfit from that disgusting robot and set out to Spike's lair to give him exactly what he deserved. Maybe she'd finish what Glory started. Thrashed. If Spike had betrayed Dawn, she would give him a beating so fantastic that thrashed would look like a walk in the park.

Buffy knew she was right. How many times had Spike proclaimed that he was he "Big Bad" in Sunnydale, just buying his time until he could slay himself another Slayer and move on. So what if the vampire had helped Buffy and her friends out of a few tight spots. He only wanted money, and he only even offered because the government put a chip in his head. Spike did not have a soul. He wasn't seeking redemption for a life of misdeeds, and he certainly did not want to help people or make the world a better place. So, why in the world did Xander care what happened to him? Thrashed. Again, she thought, so what?

And, yet, even as she brushed off Xander's concern for the vampire, a tiny part of herself felt … guilty. Buffy had told Xander and Giles that she'd wanted their visit to Spike to have a dusty ending. The anger, that wish for Spike's death, it had been a bit forced. In reality, Buffy's stomach had turned when Giles reported that Spike had been too badly beaten to speak sense. Thrashed. Even Giles seemed appalled by how horribly Spike had been hurt.

Slowing her pace, Buffy approached the crypt. She'd left soon after Xander and Giles arrived at the Magic Box. She told herself that she needed answers from Spike, right away, no time to lose. But, if she were being honest with herself, a teeny tiny bit of her, was almost starting to care. She took a steadying breath, remembering that no matter how concerned or guilty she felt, she had come to interrogate Spike. She ascended the steps to the crypt, careful to imitate the springy, unnervingly cheerful gait of her robot look-alike.

Throwing open the door to the crypt, she bounced towards Spike's prone form lying atop a stone sarcophagus. He didn't move. Buffy's breath caught in her throat. This was not what she was supposed to find, much less feel. Thrashed. The word barely came close to describing what Buffy saw when she looked at the vampire. He was practically battered beyond recognition. His ivory skin was marred by deep cuts and bruises, and his face was so swollen that she doubted he'd even be able to open his eyes. "Spike," she exclaimed, unable to keep the concern from her voice. He stirred at the sound. "You're all covered in sexy wounds," she quickly finished, hoping the completely inappropriate remark would sound robotic enough to pass.

Groaning, the vampire's right eye fluttered open. "Yeah," he said, his normally strong, proud voice reduced to a rasping whisper. "I feel real sexy." Slowly, Spike pulled his brutalized body into a sitting position. Swinging his legs over the edge, he leaned heavily on bruised arms. "Where've you been?" he asked, fixing his blue eyed gaze on Buffy.

"I fell down and got confused. Willow fixed me," she said, then hastily added. "She's gay." Extending her hand, she rested her fingers on Spike's knee. Buffy couldn't help it, he was thrashed, and she figured the robotic version of herself would want to offer Spike some comfort. She was having a harder time admitting that the real version wanted to offer him some comfort too.

"Will fixed you?" Spike repeated what she'd said, seeming to find it hard to believe. "I figured they'd melt you into scrap."

"They were confused too," Buffy said, flashing Spike a smile that a sex-bot would deem suitable. "Do you want to ravage me now?" She sort of wished he'd smile too and show some sign of the old Spike, but he didn't. His arms were starting to shake, as if holding his weary body in an upright position was too much strain. Nowhere in his body language could Buffy see the roguish vampire she was used to seeing. All she saw was a beaten, broken man. Buffy pulled her hand back, feeling Spike tremble beneath her touch was nearly breaking her resolve to hate him … to severely dislike him, anyway. He just looked so … thrashed.

"Give us a minute. Got some bones that need mending."

Buffy swallowed. She could feel her hatred growing, but not her hatred of the vampire in front of her. She could feel herself detesting that insane goddess even more than before, because of what Glory had done to Spike? Taking a breath, Buffy tried to get back on track. Spike had betrayed her. He had betrayed Dawn. Yes, he'd been very badly hurt, but it was no less than he deserved. Right? "Why did you let that Glory hurt you?" Buffy asked, careful to keep her voice mechanically neutral. Careful not to care too much about his answer.

Spike took a ragged breath, probably more to calm himself than because he needed the air. "She wanted to know who the Key was."

Stopping herself from reacting as real live Buffy would, she forced herself to merrily respond, "Oh, well, I can tell her then you won't have – "

"No!" the vampire's voice sounded torn from his throat. Buffy stopped abruptly, turning as Spike's body was wracked by a fit of coughing. Startled, Buffy realized that she was deliberately holding herself back. She wanted to help him, but something was preventing her from doing what she was beginning to think her heart really wanted. "You can't ever," Spike went on, as soon as he was able. "Glory never finds out." In those words, she heard resolve. In his blue eyes, she saw strength. Spike meant what he said. He hadn't told Glory, and he wouldn't.

Complete confusion colored Buffy's face, and for once the expression was not forced. She wasn't pretending to act like a robot, she was truly perplexed. "Why?" she said.

"Because, Buffy … the other less pleasant one, if anything happened to Dawn," Spike paused, briefly meeting her eyes. "It'd destroy her." His voice was so soft, so unlike the way he usually spoke. "I couldn't live, her being in that much pain. Let Glory kill me first." He paused again, taking a shuddering breath. "Nearly bloody did."

Buffy's mouth fell open. How could this be? Thrashed, because of her. Spike hadn't betrayed anything? He'd taken one of the most brutal beatings she had ever seen because he refused to betray her secret? Buffy could feel a stabbing pain in her chest, tears were forming just behind her eyes. This vampire, her enemy, had nearly gotten himself killed to protect her. Finally, Buffy let her heart take over. Whatever had been holding her back, pride, anger, sensibility, she brushed all of them aside as she stepped closer to Spike. Closing her eyes, she found herself doing the very last thing she had expected to do when she'd stormed out of the magic shop, she kissed Spike. So soft and sweetly their lips met, Buffy trying to be mindful of his injured body and spirit. The vampire kissed her back, and she could almost feel his pain. And, then, suddenly, he pulled away from her.

Spike's swollen brow furrowed, as he regarded her. Buffy held his gaze, determined that he should see that she was truly grateful, and that, while the kiss didn't mean what he may have wanted it to mean, it did mean something. Tilting his head to one side, Spike's mouth opened as though he wanted to speak but could not. Buffy turned away quickly, saddened by what she saw in Spike's face. Disbelief. He was having a very hard time believing that the Slayer had actually done something nice. Was that really how he saw her? Cold. Hard.

"And my robot?" he said quietly, the shame undeniable in his question.

Buffy turned back to him, the thought of the robot once again beating down any sympathetic feelings she was having. "The robot is gone," she said firmly, unable to hide her disgust. "The robot was gross and obscene."

"It wasn't supposed – "

"Don't," Buffy interrupted him, and her words seemed to utterly deflate the vampire. He was completely ashamed. Spike was never ashamed of anything. "That thing wasn't even real," she said, not knowing how to handle his response. Again, she turned to go, and again something stopped her. "What you did," she started, speaking over her shoulder. "For me and for Dawn." Spike lifted his head and their eyes met. "That was real," Buffy said, her heart almost breaking at the wounded, hopeful look on the vampire's face. "I won't forget it," she said, and finally made her way to the door, stepping out into the sunlight and sealing the crypt behind her.

Thrashed. Buffy leaned her back against the iron door that separated her from the vampire who she so wanted to hate. Spike was the "Big Bad" in Sunnydale, the Slayer of Slayers who'd come to town to add another notch on his fangs. He was one of a very few foes that had ever frightened Buffy. Spike had never actually bested her, but what frightened the Vampire Slayer was that she had never bested him either. She had been forced to really watch her back where Spike was concerned, always looking over her shoulder. If the government hadn't put a non-violent computer chip in his head, she'd still be warily looking over her shoulder, expecting Spike in every dark shadow. He was after all, a soulless, killer vampire … who had nearly sacrificed himself to keep her sister safe. Buffy heaved a sigh. He was after all, much more than that.

A burning behind her eyes, told Buffy that if she let herself go she'd be crying in seconds. Crying, again. Angel. Parker. Riley. Her mother. Dawn. Glory. Buffy did not want to do any more crying.

Buffy took a deep breath. She needed a purpose, something to keep her mind off of her real life. She needed to properly thank the vampire who had bought her a bit of time with that hell god, Glory. After all Glory had put him through, Buffy needed to protect Spike and make sure he lived to see another day fighting. Turning around she re-entered the crypt. Through eyes somewhat clouded by tears, she saw that Spike had laid back down on the stony tomb. He was on his side with his back to the door. His black tee-shirt was ripped open revealing more angry slashes across his back. Again he didn't stir when she approached. Picking up the blanket that was folded on the ground next to the sarcophagus, Buffy covered the vampire and quietly sat down on one of his junkyard armchairs. Drawing her knees up to her chest, Buffy watched Spike sleep. It wasn't like watching a person sleep, for the vampire was completely motionless. There was no rhythmic deep breathing to assure Buffy that Spike was lost in a restful slumber and well on his way to recovery. He didn't look like he was sleeping at all, he looked … thrashed … dead.

Before long, Buffy felt herself beginning to doze. She wanted to stay awake to be on guard, in case Glory or her leprous monks came looking for their punching bag, but she'd had a traumatic day and couldn't fight off sleep. Moments earlier, no one could have paid her to spend unnecessary time in Spike's lair, but now she knew of no other place that would be so quiet, so far from the stresses of the Slayer's duty.

"You're right," the Buffybot intoned mechanically. "Spike's evil, but you should see him naked. I mean really." She grinned broadly, nodding her head slightly as though she couldn't help but agree with her own words.

Buffy's lip curled into a sneer. Why ever would she want to see a naked vampire? Especially a vampire who she couldn't stand the sight of even if he was fully clothed. She rolled her eyes. Couldn't Spike have made his sex robot at least mildly intelligent? Not like he needed to have conversation with her, but maybe it would keep this Buffy shaped hunk of metal from saying such stupid things. See Spike naked? Why on earth would she want that?

"Because a little bit of you loves it," the Buffybot answered, exactly mimicking his English accent, her eyes suddenly an icy blue instead of their programmed green.

Buffy's own green eyes widened, and all at once she was in a dark alley behind the Bronze. Giles, Willow, Xander … they were all gone and she was alone with Sunnydale's big bad vampire. He was on his knees in front of her. "Because a little bit of you loves it," his voice said again, as he slowly rose to his feet. His body was only inches from her own and even though it should be cold as death a heat radiated from his flesh almost burning her. "A little bit of you."

Backing away, Buffy shook her head. "No," she said. "No, I don't."

He smiled slowly, a smirking, mocking smile. "All those years fighting us," he started, his working class English accent replaced by an Eastern European one. "Your power so near to our own." His blue eyes grew dim and black, and his bleached blonde hair darkened and grew to hang around his face. "And you've never once wanted to know what we fight for?" Again he smiled and strode towards Buffy, as she retreated until her back connected roughly with a cinder block wall. The two small scars on her neck began to throb and bleed. He closed the distance between them and clapped his hands together inches from her face, instantly blonde and blue eyed again. "Not even a taste?" he asked, his mouth hanging open seductively.

"No!" Buffy screamed, pushing him away. "No," she said, resolutely. "Not ever."

The dark night suddenly brightened into a yellow-tinged fluorescent glow. Rows of plastic seats extended to either side and she clung to a broken pole for support as the floor beneath her lurched to a stop. At her feet lay a Slayer whom she'd never met. In front of her, he stood, smirking. His darkly lined eyes were different somehow, angrier. "Sooner or later, you're gonna want it," he said.

Sitting bolt upright in the chair, Buffy awoke suddenly, her heart hammering in her chest. For a few excruciatingly frightening seconds, she couldn't remember what she was doing or where she was. But as her eyes adjusted to the dimly lit tomb, she remembered. Slowly, she stood up and crossed the room to where the vampire lay on the stone bier. He was still huddled underneath the blanket she'd found for him. Facing away from the door, his brow was furrowed and his lips were moving at a fevered pace. He was dreaming. "No … " he pleaded to the assailant inside his mind. "Please … stop." Not dreaming, having a nightmare.

Perching on the edge of the sarcophagus, Buffy gently laid her hand on Spike's shoulder. His whole body was shaking. "Spike," she said softly, not wanting to startle him. "Spike, wake up."

Spike's breath hitched, and not needing one, he did not take another. Groaning, he pulled his body into an upright position. Leaning on one arm, he protectively clutched at his side with the other. "Slayer?" he said hoarsely. He peered at her through eyes that he could not fully open, clear blue eyes that were brimming with pain. Eyes that obviously wondered what in the hell she was doing in his crypt.

"Vampires heal faster than people, right?" Buffy asked, keeping her voice quiet and even, as though she were dealing with a frightened, rabid animal. For so long, that was exactly how she dealt with Spike. She and her friends had treated him like a monster, an animal who was beneath all of them. And, now that he'd done something so purely noble, Buffy did not quite know how to act.

The vampire nodded slowly in response to her question.

Pressing her lips together and shrugging slightly, she said, "What can I do to help?" Buffy smiled a smile that she hoped was honest and reassuring. She had come to Spike's crypt to beat him senseless, well, more senseless. She had wanted to punish him for betraying Dawn's secret, to make him pay for being such a sniveling, lying, soulless son of a bitch. But she had been wrong. So very wrong, and Spike had been so … thrashed. He was a bloody, battered shell of the vampire she was used to, and, in a way, it was all her fault. She had to help. "Blood," she said suddenly, "That's what does it, right?" Spike did not respond, he simply stared back at her, still not seeming to believe that she was really there. "I'll find some," Buffy went on, as though Spike had answered her question. "Downstairs?" she asked, indicating the rickety staircase that went to the cavern below Spike's crypt. Still, nothing. "I'll find it," she said, descending the stairs. "Be right back."

Somewhat relieved to be away from the vampire's scrutiny, Buffy busied herself with finding some healing blood for him. The cave was illuminated by several candles affixed to the stony walls, casting a warm flickering light around Spike's lair. In an alcove to her right, stood a rather impressive four-posted bed made out of a rich dark colored wood and covered with burgundy blankets that a vampire couldn't possibly need. Beside the bed was a small nightstand that almost matched, which held a large round candle, unlit for the moment. Along the alcove's wall, stood a dresser, with only three of it's four drawers. Beating down her curiosity to snoop through a vampire's belongings, Buffy walked past the makeshift bedroom to the other end of the narrow cavern. A small generator ran in a dark corner hooked up to an old, harvest gold refrigerator, a microwave, and, presumably, the television above. A small white table, with two mismatched folding chairs sat near the fridge, in what must have passed for a vampire's kitchen. Buffy almost smiled, seeing the red plastic bowl containing a bunch of bananas that sat upon the little table. It almost looked homey.

Opening the refrigerator door, which nearly fell off it's hinges, Buffy found a supply of blood that looked to have been stolen from some medical facility, as each bag was neatly labeled with a date and a type. Idly wondering if they actually tasted different, Buffy grabbed a bag of A positive and forced the refrigerator door back into a closed position. Squatting down on the floor where the microwave sat, Spike must not have found a suitable trash heap table yet, Buffy discovered a row of three coffee mugs, one containing a pair of scissors. Cutting open the bag of A positive, Buffy emptied it's content into a mug from the Grand Canyon and placed it in the microwave. Not knowing how long it took to warm blood up to 98.6 degrees, Buffy set the timer for three minutes and stood up to wait.

Buffy's eyes drifted back to the bedroom and girlishly she wondered if Spike had shared that bed with Drusilla or Harmony, or countless other lady vampires. Spike seemed to be always lurking in the shadows of Sunnydale, popping in to the magic shop or her house to constantly annoy her and the rest of the gang. She, or Xander or Giles would always tell him to get lost and eventually he would. Buffy found herself wondering what a vampire who couldn't bite people did with his spare time, but the beep of the microwave halted any further speculation concerning Spike's every day life.

Carrying the warm mug of blood back upstairs, Buffy almost laughed at herself, the Vampire Slayer who was playing nursemaid to a vampire. Had she really just warmed up some blood in an effort to make Spike feel better, like she was bringing hot cocoa to an ailing friend? What was wrong with this picture? What was wrong with her? Wasn't she supposed to want to kill Spike? She had told herself that ever since he'd had that chip implanted in his head, she wouldn't dust him because it couldn't have been a fair fight. But, really, what did she care? Spike wouldn't know a fair fight if he was in one. Spike was a villain who had used every unfair advantage he could find in an effort to slay himself another Slayer. A fair fight, how ridiculous. Spike was a vampire. She was a Vampire Slayer. He had no soul. He was no exception. So, why had she made excuse after excuse? Why hadn't she just done her job and dusted him years ago?

She stopped in the upper level of the crypt, noticing that Spike was no longer on the stone bier. Casting a quick glance over the small space, she found him lying on the couch in front of the TV. Wrapped tightly in the blanket she'd covered him with, he appeared to have drifted back to sleep. Crossing the room, Buffy noticed the drips of blood that marked a clear trail from the couch back to the sarcophagus. Stupid, proud vampire, she would have helped him. But, he doesn't know that, she admonished herself silently. He probably thinks that he imagined this whole situation. That would make more sense than the Slayer here taking care of him.

Exhaling, Buffy sat on the edge of the couch. "Spike," she said gently.

Slowly, the vampire opened his blue eyes. "Slayer," he whispered, his voice still gravelly, but this time, not questioning. Pulling his body upright, Spike seemed to have come to terms with the fact that Buffy was indeed, really in his crypt. Still, his swollen and bruised eyes never left her face, as though he were searching for the real reason she was helping him, for some ulterior motive. Funny, how many times he'd told Buffy that he was in love with her. He'd tried to kiss her and tried to convince her that she was his perfect match, and yet, in spite of his feelings, he did not seem to trust her.

"Here," Buffy said, turning the mug around in her hand so that he could take the handle. He did, and for the first time, Buffy noticed the bruises and broken skin encircling his wrists. An image of him chained, in Glory's hotel room, helpless before the hell bitch goddess flashed through Buffy's mind. Clenching her jaw against the unbidden emotion caused by the image, Buffy focused her attention back on the mundane, "It's not too hot, is it?"

"No," Spike said, drinking slowly from the mug, the tremor in his hands would've been imperceptible if Buffy's hadn't the heightened senses of a Slayer.

"Too cold?" she asked, almost wishing the English vampire would begin rambling on about something as was usually his custom.

He shook his head. "Perfect," he said, silent gratitude in his blue eyes.

Buffy smiled, not knowing why his single worded compliment had caused such a warm, fuzzy feeling in her chest. "There's a bed downstairs," Buffy started, "I'm sure it's more comfortable that this." From her perch on the edge of the threadbare sofa, Buffy could feel a spring poking her in the thigh. She didn't actually know what shape the bed was in, but from her perfunctory inspection, it sure looked better than the junkyard couch.

Spike lowered his eyes at her suggestion. Taking the mug back from him, she was unsure what she had done to upset the ailing vampire. "I, um …" he started. "I can't …"

"I'll help you," Buffy interrupted, slightly startled to find something in common with Spike. She was the Slayer, the Chosen. She had strength far beyond an ordinary person. She absolutely hated asking for help. Giles had once told her that it was, in fact, a show of strength to accept aid from others. She had told him that accepting wasn't the problem, asking was. Apparently, Spike felt the same way.

Standing, Buffy waited for Spike to free himself of the blanket. He looked embarrassed, and, though she was loathe to admit it, Buffy's heart ached for the vampire who still looked so thrashed. Leaning heavily on the arm of the couch for support, Spike managed to rise shakily to his feet without any assistance, but, before he had to suffer the indignity of falling flat on his face, Buffy slung his arm around her shoulders and took a firm hold of his back. Remembering the deep slashes she'd seen earlier, she tried to be as gentle as possible. Hesitantly, Spike began to limp towards the stairs, favoring his right knee. Buffy matched his slow progress, taking more of his weight as he began to tire. She almost found it strange that his breathing became labored, as he no longer needed to breathe at all. Maybe old habits took more than 120 years to die.

The wobbly stairs proved to be much more difficult than Buffy had originally anticipated when she suggested this grand move. Barely wide enough for her and Spike to descend side by side, she had a hard time supporting the weary vampire. But, Buffy decided with grim determination, she'd be damned if she'd let him fall. He was only in this battered state because he had decided to help her … no, he hadn't helped her, Spike had saved her. If he'd have told Glory that Dawn was the Key, it would have been the end. Glory would have found Dawn. Glory would have killed Dawn, and that would have killed Buffy. She wondered if any of the rest of her friends would have been able to stand firm against the kind of pain that Glory could clearly inflict. She wondered if this broken vampire hadn't been her best hope against Glory.

After a seemingly endless struggle, they finally made it down the stairs to the cavern below. Spike was near the end of his reserves. He was trembling uncontrollably and the arm that was around Buffy's shoulders was barely able to hang on to her. His head was drooped, and he was fighting to keep his eyes open as they laboriously made their way to the bedroom. Stumbling, the vampire almost fell, but Buffy managed to position herself to catch hold of him before he took them both to the ground. "Easy, Spike," she said, hoping her voice would soothe him. "We're almost there."

"Oh, God," he groaned, when they were finally at the bed and he literally crumpled down on the mattress. Pulling his heavy, steel-toed boots from his feet, Buffy lifted his legs onto the bed, and pulled the thick covers over his shivering body. Thinking he had passed out from the exertion, she turned to leave when his hand shot out and closed around her wrist. Years of training and Slayer instinct made her pull away, but the vampire held fast, strong despite his severely weakened condition. Buffy searched for some explanation in his light blue eyes. "Th – Thanks, Slayer," he said.

Swallowing, Buffy took Spike's hand from her arm and held it between her own as she sat on the edge of the bed. Softly, she rubbed the back of his palm. "I owe you this much," Buffy said.

Spike shook his head, wincing at the pain caused by even such a small movement. "You d-don't owe m-me anything," he said, his voice coming in uneven gasps that were breaking Buffy's heart.

Reaching out to the vampire, Buffy ran her fingers through his light blonde hair. Out there, in the world, she would have to figure out what to do next. Everyone would look to her for a plan, for answers. She'd have to think about protecting Dawn and fighting Glory. She'd have to be the almighty Slayer. Down here in a cave with an injured vampire, she was just Buffy. "I want to be here," she said, and surprisingly, she actually meant it. For the first time, she found it comforting that Spike did want anything from her, he just wanted her.

Blue eyes sparkling, Spike smiled weakly. Retrieving her hand, Buffy got up, heading to the kitchen to warm up some more blood. "No you d-don't," she heard the vampire whisper as she walked away. Buffy paused, wanting to turn back and tell him how wrong he was, but she could not. She was admitting to herself that she cared just a little bit about what happened to this vampire, she was not quite ready to admit to much more than that. After waiting the three long minutes for the microwave to do its job, Buffy returned to the bedroom. Spike's eyes were closed and his body was slack. He was asleep. Rest was always what the doctor ordered when human beings were in need of recovery, and Buffy figured the same held true for undead human beings. She set the mug on the nightstand, and lit the large candle.

Unconsciously, she began examining the contents of the cave's small bedroom. There was one drawer in the small nightstand, but it was empty. Idle curiosity taking over, Buffy walked over to the dresser. Spike's tee-shirt was ripped to shreds. She really should find him another one, she told herself, when in reality all she wanted to do was snoop. Although, she paused with her hands on the drawer knobs, maybe she didn't really want to know what a vampire kept in his bedroom. Pulling open the top drawer, she found just what one expected to find in a man's dresser. Several pairs of socks and a single stack of black tee-shirts. Pulling a shirt from the pile, Buffy closed the drawer. The second drawer contained a blue shirt, a khaki green sweater that Spike had probably stolen from the Initiative, a red button down shirt, and two pairs of black pants. Looking around the Spartan cavern, Buffy was surprised that after over 100 years of life Spike hadn't acquired more … stuff. Someone could wander into this mausoleum and think a homeless man was squatting there, not a century old, preternatural child of darkness. Rifling through his things, Buffy could not hope to learn anything about the sleeping vampire, other than his penchant for pinching things that did not belong to him, and she already knew about that.

The third drawer was missing in action, so Buffy knelt on the ground to open the final drawer, more to finish the job than in anticipation of actually finding something. But, again, she was wrong. For, filling that one, bottom drawer were the precious few things that a 120 year old vampire had deemed important enough to keep. Placing the black tee shirt on her knees, Buffy lifted out a dagger with a long, curved blade. Turning the knife over in her hands, she noted an inscription on the blade in a language that Giles probably would have known, but didn't mean anything to her. The only other thing in the drawer, was a black, wooden box, ornately carved and sealed with a silver latch that looked like the head of a gargoyle. It was beautifully crafted, and probably worth more than Buffy could imagine. Carefully, she opened the lid. Inside the box, was a gilded heart, hinged on one side and latched on the other so that it closely resembled a large locket. Looking inside, Buffy found a tiny portrait of Drusilla. Buffy silently chided herself for the jealous twinge that the woman's likeness caused. The high cheekbones, ruby lips, and dark, fathomless eyes of Spike's longtime lady love stared back at the Slayer. Dark beauty, that was what Spike had once called Drusilla, and Buffy had to agree. Nuttier than a Snicker's bar, but Drusilla was exotically beautiful, and she was the woman that Spike had been in love with and devoted to for decades.

Re-sealing the locket, Buffy moved on to the stacks of paper that were the box's only other contents. Pages and pages, ranging from tattered, brown parchment to college-ruled loose leaf. Each paper was covered nearly edge to edge with verses written in a lovely, swirling script. Poetry. Thumbing through the papers, Buffy's mouth fell open and her eyes wandered back to the bed. Spike's poetry. Buffy had been curious about the vampire, but holding these pages in her hands she almost felt like she was intruding. Hastily she put the papers back in the box and was about to close the lid, when the top page caught her attention. She blinked and reread the passage. Her breath caught in her throat, and her eyes instantly filled with tears.

Standing in the living room, Buffy looked around a house that hardly seemed like her own anymore. Two days ago the woman who'd made this building a home had been laid in the ground never to return. Now, all that remained were rooms filled with flowers from people who couldn't possibly understand who they'd lost. "Willow," Buffy finally spoke to her friend who'd been standing silently beside her for almost fifteen minutes. "Do I have to send these people Thank You cards?"

The red haired witch walked over to the couch and sat down. The coffee table in front of her was covered with several sympathetic bouquets. "I don't think they expected anything when they sent the flowers," she said, fingering the petals of a white rose. "They just wanted you to know that they were, you know, thinking about you."

Buffy sat beside Willow and began to pick the small cards out of the bouquets. Someone her mother had worked with. Someone who'd met her in the hospital. Some long lost aunt in Milwaukee. Buffy stopped at the next bunch of flowers, small and unassuming compared to the others. Yellow and white daisies tied with a cord that looked like they'd been picked from a garden not purchased in some fancy boutique. Buffy smiled sadly. These where what her mother would've chosen for herself. She wouldn't have liked dozens of showy roses and expensive baskets, she would have liked wildflowers, simply arranged. "You don't know who sent these, do you Will?" Buffy asked, curling the twine around her index finger.

Willow stared at the flowers as though she were remembering something, but she shook off the memory and said, "Nope."

Buffy pulled on the cord and the bow started to unravel revealing a small folded piece of paper that she caught before it fell into the water-filled vase. "What's this?" she said, more to herself than to Willow. Unfolding the paper, she saw a note written in a very careful, ornate script. She'd never seen handwriting like that before. Willow moved closer to read over her shoulder.

For Joyce,

The Lady sleeps. Oh, may her sleep

Which is enduring, be so deep.

Heaven have her in its sacred keep.

Far in the forest, dark and old,

For her may some tall vault unfold -

I pray to God that she may lie,

Forever with unopened eye,

While the dim sheeted ghosts go by.

"Wow," Willow breathed, after she'd finished reading the poem. "It's beautiful."

"It's not signed," Buffy said, wishing that she knew who'd written such lovely words for her mother. Wishing she had the opportunity to thank this one other mourning soul who actually seemed to understand loss. "I didn't know I knew anyone who could write like that."

Willow didn't answer for a long moment. "Me neither," she said finally.

"What're y-you doing pet?" Spike's voice interrupted Buffy's reverie.

Turning back to the bed, Buffy held the vampire's poem in her hands. She had a hard time even focusing on Spike for the tears that filled her eyes. He was propped up on one elbow, blue eyes fixed on her. He did not look happy. Remembering the tee-shirt on her lap, Buffy turned over a dozen excuses in her mind, searching for some innocent and plausible explanation for going through his belongings, but all she could manage to do was stare back at him, with tears running down her cheeks.

Tilting his head to one side, Spike's expression softened somewhat. "Buffy?" he said quietly.

Buffy pressed her lips together, trying to stop the sobs, trying to regain some composure. Spike almost never called her by her name. Slayer, or pet, or some other nickname always said in a faintly condescending tone, that she was used to. Her name sounded different in his English accented voice. It sounded stronger, prouder. "You sent those flowers," she said, hating how vulnerable her own voice sounded. "You wrote this." She stood up, the spare tee-shirt falling forgotten to the floor. Sitting on the edge of the bed, careful not to hurt the vampire, Buffy laid the poem down in front of him.

Spike didn't look at it, he was watching her, his jaw tightly clenched. Again, he lowered his eyes, and the arrogant vampire who'd never looked ashamed of anything ever, looked ashamed for the second time that day. "Buffy, I'm sorry that I - "

"Spike," Buffy interrupted his apology. "It's beautiful."

The vampire stopped midsentence, Buffy's words seeming to hit him harder than a stake through the heart. Hesitantly, his clear blue eyes rose to meet hers. And, for the first time since he'd come to Sunnydale, Buffy stared into the eyes of a poet, the eyes of a man who'd never been appreciated for his true passion, the eyes of a man named William, who'd been buried for so long beneath the arrogant swagger of an immortal vampire. Spike's battered face broke into the most genuine smile Buffy'd ever seen there. "You really think so?"

Buffy nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Her heart was aching for this vulnerable man that she'd discovered beneath so many layers of pride and bluster. This vampire had just survived torture so brutal that everyone who despised him had suddenly felt for him, including the Slayer and now ... She couldn't believe that Spike actually cared what she thought. She didn't really know anything about poetry. Sure, she'd taken a class in college, a class that she hated having to drop, but that certainly didn't make her an expert. Before she could realize what was happening, to analyze or stop the action, Buffy reached out and laid her hand against Spike's bruised cheek. She was suddenly very sad that she never got the chance to meet the man who'd become this vampire in front of her. A quiet poet who understood love, and loss and the darkness intertwined in both. What would that man have been like?

Reaching for the mug of warm blood on the nightstand, Buffy handed it to Spike. Taking the poem and placing it back in the box in his dresser, Buffy ended a serenely sweet moment. The vampire drank from the cup and sank back onto the bed. Exhausted, the mug fell from his hand and broke on the stone floor. Still kneeling on the floor, Buffy watched the glass shatter into thousands of tiny pieces. Somewhere in the back of her mind, the broken glass symbolized so many different broken relationships in her life. Was this just one more dysfunctional bond that would hold for awhile just waiting to be broken like a glass coffee mug? Thumbing again through the pages in the vampire's dresser, Buffy took a deep steadying breath. The vampire's dresser. Vampire.

The happiest day – the happiest hour.

My seared and blighted heart hath known.

The highest hope of pride and power,

I fell hath flown.

But were the hope of pride and power

Now offered with the pain.

Ev'n then I felt – that brightest hour

I would not live again.

For on it's wings was dark alloy

And as it fluttered – fell

An essence – powerful to destroy

A soul that knew it well.

Buffy closed the carved, black box and re-sealed the bottom dresser drawer, locking up the few precious memories of a man and a vampire's life. She would have liked that man, she knew it. Loathe to admit it, she was starting to care for the vampire. Many things he had done, awful things, but Spike had never pretended to be anything but what he was. He was her enemy. He was her ally. He loved her, and she ... she didn't hate him nearly as much as she wanted to.

Returning to Spike's makeshift kitchen, Buffy found a washcloth and a bowl. Filling the bowl with warm water she went back to the bedroom and cleaned Spike's wounded body. She had no idea if a vampire could succumb to infection. She didn't think so, but she went through the motions anyway. Clinically, with as little emotion as possible, Buffy tended to each cut and bruise. She tried not to imagine the kind of blow that would cause the deep wounds around his eyes. She tried not to picture him chained and helpless. She tried not to hear his voice, caught in a dream, pleading for the pain to stop. She tried to tell herself that she was not the cause of all this hurt.

As Buffy was finishing, the vampire awoke. Just as she knew that it was night despite the lack of windows, Spike knew it too and his vampire self awakened him to that night. She concentrated on completing the task at hand, not wanting to meet his blue eyed gaze. Still, she could feel his eyes on her, boring holes into her skull, into her heart. "How does a soulless vampire write like that?" she asked, suddenly breaking the silence.

Spike laughed, a laugh that sounded more like a cough. "Not ev'ry man t-that has a soul is good," he said. "Not ev'ry man without one is s-so bad."

Buffy and the vampire locked eyes. She smiled. He held her gaze, not backing down, not ashamed. Standing up, her work finished, Buffy kissed the vampire softly on the forehead. "Be well, William."

The End.

a/n: One more short note, the poetry in this story is not from me. I borrowed both poems from Mr. Poe, thinking that if anyone could understand the darkness in a vampire's heart, it would be him. And, I know William was supposed to be a terrible poet, but after 100 years, he's bound to improve, no? Anyway, thanks for reading, and let me know what you thought.