by Slade

Spike looked up at the beige tiled ceiling, and sighed to himself. His head was hurting from where Buffy had smacked him for the millionth time; there was a dull ache in his stomach from not being fed for a while; and in addition to everything else, there was a throb in his groin from the whole lack of sex. He hadn't gotten any in weeks and weeks, and that was bugging him more than anything else. He had come close with Buffy about a week ago, but that wasn't really important. He figured that spells didn't much count.

"Can I get a little bit of food in here?" he demanded, trying to get the attention of one of his captors. He heard them speaking in another part of the apartment, but from his spot chained up in the bathtub, he couldn't make out what was being said. "You could at least bring me a cookie, or even a beer would be nice..."

A moment later, Buffy walked into the bathroom, carrying a mug full of blood and a straw. She observed his position in the tub for a minute, and then set the mug down on the counter. "You've got it made, Spike," she said.

In a way that was true. He wasn't completely uncomfortable, and Anya had been sweet enough to bring him a pillow to put behind his head, so he wouldn't be leaning against the cold, hard wall. It would have been much better if he didn't have his hands and feet chained together, however.

Buffy knelt beside the tub, and placed the straw inside the mug. Spike inspected the straw, and wrinkled his nose. "I'm not drinking this through that." It was one of those blue curly straws, with a little Micky Mouse character on it. "No way."

"You're this far away from being hand-fed, and you're complaining about a straw?" Buffy asked in amazement.

"Can't you just choose one a little less...cheerful?"

"You've gone through all the other straws Giles owns. It's not my fault that you have a habit of biting things."

"Why would Giles have something as ridiculous as that?" Spike laughed.

"Xander brought it back for him when he went to Disneyland during the summer. It's either this or Minnie."

"Alright, alright," Spike grumbled.

Buffy offered the mug again, and he reluctantly sucked the blood up through it. She chuckled, watching him, and then started to laugh. The sight of Spike drinking blood through a curly straw, sitting in a bathtub, was decidedly too much to bear. Spike clenched his fists, and tried to ignore her. He was grateful when her laughs died away, and continued to drink.

She pulled it away after a second, allowing him to take a quick break before he downed the whole thing. He coughed. "It's a bit cold," he began. "Whatever happened to the 98.6 degrees treatment I got from you last week?"

"I shouldn't even have to answer that," she replied. "But if you don't like it, you don't have to drink anything at all. You're lucky that I'm the one doing this for you instead of someone like Xander. He'd just hand it to you straight out of the fridge."

"Why are you doing this for me?" Spike asked suddenly.

Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. "Because I don't have a choice."

"There's always a choice," he murmured. "In everything we do, there's a choice."

Buffy just shoved the straw between his lips to quiet him, and he started to drink once more. She couldn't stop herself from watching him again. Her attention was somehow directed to his mouth, and her mind was flooded with memories from before.

Hadn't she just been kissing those lips a week earlier? Those sweet, cool lips... She unconsciously licked her own suddenly dry lips, and swallowed. She couldn't be thinking about him like this. She just couldn't.

Spike cleared his throat, jolting her back to reality. He spit the straw out. "I'm finished," he announced, sarcastically stating the obvious.

Buffy nodded wordlessly, and then got to her feet. As she was about to leave, he called out her name softly. She turned back around to face him, and sighed. "What?"

"Do you believe in what I mentioned? About having a choice in everything?" he inquired.

Buffy nodded again slowly. "Yes. To me, choice is pretty much about control, and I like the idea of being in control of my own life."

"Do you think that we had a choice in what happened last week?"

There was an awkward silence in the room induced by his question. He looked up at her gravely, but she refused to make eye contact.

"I--No," she said brokenly, "we didn't. It was a spell, and that was it. We didn't have a choice anywhere in that."

He shook his head, and a vague smile crossed his lips. "You see...I actually believed that I did...have a choice, that is. There was nothing that happened that I hadn't thought about at least twice before."

Spike glanced back up at her, and Buffy didn't respond right away. But then, she set the mug back down on the counter with a little swear, and dropped to her knees. She pulled him as close as the chains would allow, and crushed her mouth to his passionately.

Spike tried to move his arms up to reach her, but the chains were preventing him. All he could manage was to run his fingers across her cheek and jaw. Buffy gently cradled his chin as her lips moved hungrily against his, and she felt his tongue coaxing hers to play. She pulled away then, to catch her breath.

Buffy met his icy blue eyes, and she tried to decipher what she saw in them. It was plainly obvious that Spike had wanted to kiss her, and he wanted to again, but she didn't know what else was on his mind. "Why are we doing this?" she asked quietly.

"Because..." he answered softly, "I think you know that I want you real badly, and that pretty much covers why I'd be kissing you."

"Why would you want me?" she said in disbelief.

He shrugged. "I guess I have for a little while. I don't really want to start gushing, but you're a very desirable person. Last week...there was a big part of me that didn't want it to end."

"But what about the rest of you?"

"The rest..." he let his voice trail off for a moment. "The rest of me knew that it had to."

"I would have stopped it anyhow," she pointed out.

Spike's face fell at her words. "Why? You mean to tell me that it felt that bad?" Buffy looked down at her hands, not answering. "I know that was the last thought to cross your mind," he prodded. "Of course to you, the fact that it was me made it bad."

Buffy looked up at him in surprise. She was actually making him feel bad! But that didn't make her feel any better, because...why? "No, Spike. You're wrong. I can't say that there's much left to be desired about you, 'cause...there isn't, really. Except for the whole killer bit...which you aren't anymore."

"Are you saying that you want me?" he questioned with a small smile.

Buffy struggled to find the words. She finally gave up. "You think it's that simple?" she asked him. "Every time I see you, there's the slow realization of that I want you. It doesn't go away; instead, it gets worse. I know perfectly well that I'm supposed to hate you, but that all changes the moment you come into view."

"Then why are you fighting it?" Spike wasn't sure who really initiated the next kiss, but he did know that it was every bit as sweet as the last one, maybe even more. He got the long-forgotten feeling of joy deep within him, and he didn't want it to go away.

Spike moved his mouth away, and then lowered it to her throat. Buffy gasped, and he wondered if it was out of fear or pleasure. He lavished attention on her neck with his tongue and lips, nipping playfully at the skin with blunt teeth. Buffy forced him away, and then captured his lips for another kiss.

After another moment, she seemed to realize something, for she broke the kiss. Spike growled a little in disappointment, but she hushed him. "I can't do this," she told him.

He tried to argue, but she was determined to finish what she had to say. "As much as I want you, I have feelings for someone else."

"Of course it wouldn't be me," he whispered.

She shook her head. "No, it's not that."

"But it is," Spike reminded her. "Don't bother trying to deny it, pet. I know you'd be lying."

"I'm sorry." She stood up, and was about to walk out the door, but he stopped her.

"What am I supposed to do?" he asked her in a choked voice. "Tell me what, because I don't know!"

"I don't know, either." Buffy left a bit reluctantly, despite his efforts to get her to stay.

When Spike realized that she wasn't going to come back, he let out a little sob. He wanted to howl. Why did this have to happen to him? The moment he decided to stop the defensive act, he was attacked, and his heart was torn out. What would have happened if he had told her everything? Told her that she haunted his days and nights the way no other could, and that he could finally say that he knew what it felt like to love someone with his entire being? She would have killed him inside. But felt like he was already dying.

Closing his eyes, he leaned his head against the wall and inhaled deeply, feeling a warm blood tear trickle down his cheek. His unlife was a terrible mess. He was a poor excuse for a vampire, chained up in a bathtub, with his broken heart exposed for all to see. If he couldn't have Buffy, what was there honestly left to live for?

The End