"I don't see why you think you've got to keep me tied to this bleedin' chair all the time, Slayer! It's not like I can actually bite anyone at the -- ow! Bloody hell, Slayer, easy!" The irritated blonde vampire yelped as the tiny blonde on her knees in front of him pulled the ropes that bound one of his legs to the chair he was sitting in much tighter than was necessary.

"Gee, I don't know," Buffy smiled up at him as she checked the rope, giving it a sharp experimental tug that he suspected was also completely unnecessary, just because she was the bane of his existence and felt like tormenting him. "Maybe because the last time you managed to get loose, you ran off as fast as you could and I had to track you down all over town?" she suggested, with an innocent smile on her face.

"Well, if you lot were a bit more hospitable...would feed a bloke, not keep him all trussed up all the time...maybe I'd be a bit more inclined to stay!" he shot back in a tone of offended indignation. He paused for a moment, frowning thoughtfully. "No...I take that back...don't think there's enough dosh or blood in the whole soddin' universe to get me to voluntarily shack up with you and your bloody Scoobies! Ow!" he yelled as she yanked the ropes tight around his other leg.

Buffy sighed wearily before falling back on her old stand by, the words he had come to realize that she spoke when she was too busy or tired or for any other reason could not come up with a comeback.

"Shut up, Spike." She suddenly frowned, muttering as an after thought, "And there will be no shacking up -- voluntary or otherwise. You don't live here. You don't live, period. You're a prisoner, remember?"

"Hard to forget," he muttered resentfully. But then he smirked, catching the slightly defensive note in her voice and deciding to run with it. Why not? It wasn't like he had that much to entertain him these days.

"No, I s'pose 'round here you all like to keep things good and proper and all, don't you? Rather than shack up, you just skip straight to the engagement phase, yeah?"

In spite of himself, an image flew unbidden into his mind...sparkling emerald eyes shining up at him adoringly -- soft, full lips hungrily kissing his -- a lap full of wriggling, bouncing, and enticingly aroused Slayer...

Bloody hell! His eyes widened as he glanced down at the lap in question and then back at the Slayer, hoping against hope she would not notice the problem his memories had just created for him.

And of all times, with him tied to this soddin' chair, with not even the slightest chance of escape! He tried to think of a good excuse to get the Slayer to untie him -- if only for a few minutes -- but came up completely blank. What could he say, really?

Eh, love, mind letting me up for a bit so I can have a quick wank?

Slayer, I've just been sitting here fantasizing about you and I've got a bit of a problem, care to help me out with it?

Not bloody likely. Either way he'd end up dust.

Infuriating bint! he thought resentfully. This is her fault -- all of it. If it wasn't for her, I'd never have come back here, I wouldn't have this bleedin' chip in my head, and I wouldn't have had a soddin' love spell placed on me to where now I can't stop bloody well thinking about her every soddin' minute -- even now that the spell's broken! Gonna drain the annoying little chit dry the moment I get this thing out of my head!

Feeling a bit better after his internal but satisfying rant, and the decision he had re-made a hundred times since Willow's my-will-be-done spell had been ended, he smirked at the tense, frowning Slayer, as she tugged on the last rope to be sure it was tight enough, and then stood up in front of him with her arms crossed over her chest.

Oh, well. As long as he was in this predicament – might as well have a bit of fun with it.

"Never figured you for the type to get off on bondage, love," he sneered, curling his tongue behind his teeth in a gesture that was both mocking and suggestive and just so typically -- well, Spike.

It infuriated her almost to the point of losing control of her temper.

And other things.

Suddenly, she pulled her attention from that fascinating little motion of his tongue – bringing to mind unbidden memories of other rather intriguing things that she had found out he could do with it – when she realized just exactly what he had said.

Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open in shocked indignation – and her heart raced at the images that sprang to her mind at his words. She swallowed hard, trying for the expression of anger that she knew she should be giving him, rather than the slack-jawed, shocked look she feared was on her face.

"I – do…not," she retorted defensively, cringing at the utter pathetic lack of timing, creativity – and even conviction – behind her response.

Stupid vampire, she thought resentfully. Why was it that Spike, of all people, had the power to get her so confused and off guard, to make her feel so vulnerable and exposed. She was the Slayer; she didn't do "vulnerable and exposed".

Spike seemed to think otherwise. His knowing smirk made her flush with embarrassment even before he said a word – and his words were worse. "You forgot, love. Vampire, here. There's no hiding things like that from us, no matter how bad you might want to. Not with our superior senses, pet." He sniffed the air pointedly before giving her a lewd smile. "What is that heavenly fragrance you're wearing, Slayer? Let me guess…essence of – 'I-deperately-need-a-shag'?"

Buffy felt as if her face was on fire – among other things. To think that he could so easily tell the unwilling reaction her body had had to him was humiliating to her.

And infuriating.

Her eyes smoldered with fury as she took a menacing step toward the bound vampire, who to her irritation did not even appear the least bit unnerved by her sudden approach. He just smiled boldly up at her as she moved closer to him until she was right in his face.

"You're disgusting," she informed him in a low, hateful voice.

"And you want me," he retorted with a smug smile, his triumphant eyes telling her that he knew he was right, and was taking extreme pleasure in the power he had over her.

No, Buffy, she reminded herself. You have the power here! You're the Slayer, and he's a harmless, tied up prisoner of a vampire who can't even bite! Now remind both of you of that before it's too late!

"I want to stake you," she corrected him, a cool smiling coming over her lips as she added, "I haven't, since you're basically neutered, and it wouldn't be a very satisfying slay." She paused, her smile taking on a menacing edge, "But it's sounding more satisfying by the moment."

Spike showed no fear at her words; this Slayer talked about staking him, but she never had quite managed it – even before his chip – and he was beginning to think that she was all talk, at least when it came to him.

And why would that be? he wondered. He knew that she was attracted to him. If he admitted it, he was attracted to her too, as Red's little spell had forced them to find out, quite against their will. But that did not mean that she actually cared at all, even enough to keep her from staking him, no matter how hard he tried to drive her bloody insane.

If I was her, he thought with a sense of satisfaction. I'd have staked me by now.

The "neutered" comment was irritating, however, and his eyes narrowed in anger and triumph. "You're just afraid to untie me – afraid I'll show you just how neutered I'm not!"

"Sounds good to me!" she snapped! "I'd love an excuse to stake you!"

He clucked his tongue at her a few times, shaking his head in a mockingly reproving way. "Such hostility, love," he remarked with mock dismay. "You know, a good shag would help you get that bloody stick out of your arse. What say you let me stake you instead, yeah?"

The Scoobies gathered in the kitchen suddenly heard the very distinctive sound of flesh connecting with flesh, more specifically the Slayer's fist connecting with Spike's face, followed by an even more distinctive shout of fury and pain.

"Bloody hell!"

Moments later Buffy sauntered through the door into the kitchen, closing it behind her with a satisfied smile on her face.

Xander smirked toward the door and the annoying blonde vampire beyond it. "I never get tired of hearing that," he remarked.

"I never get tired of doing it," Buffy smiled as she sat down at the kitchen table with the rest of them, trying to put the disconcerting words of the vampire in the living room – and the even more disconcerting feelings they had awakened in her – out of her head. "I swear, he drives me absolutely insane!"

Giles glanced up from the book open in front of him on the table to comment, "I dare say, he has the same effect on me."

Buffy tried to keep a horrified look off her face that would surely reveal to her friends the nature of the "effect" Spike actually had on her, as Giles went on.

"I would like to have my full privacy back again. The unexpected houseguest is getting a bit bothersome."

"Getting bothersome?" Xander muttered. "He's never been anything but a pain in the butt! I still don't see why you just don't stake him, Buff."

Buffy sighed. Why don't I? she asked herself for the thousandth time. Aloud, she stated the chosen answer that was always her response to these words of Xander, which she heard at least several times a day. "He's got the chip. He's helpless. It would just be – wrong, somehow."

"Killing a harmless creature, well…yes, it does seem a bit out of sync with your calling," Giles agreed, with a sigh of regret, glancing toward the now-quiet living room. "But I can't see as how babysitting an impotent vampire falls under my calling as a Watcher, either."

The look he gave her was quickly joined by matching looks from the others, and Buffy suddenly felt defensive. "What?" she demanded.

"You are the Slayer," Willow pointed out hesitantly, a bit apologetically. "If anybody has to look after Spike, it should be you."

"He's harmless!" Buffy protested. "Really, I can't see why we can't just let him go, in all honesty. It's not like he could actually hurt anybody!"

"You know, you guys keep saying that," Anya interrupted suddenly. "And I really think you're making a mistake." When all she received was blank, puzzled looks, she went on, "Well, sure, he can't hurt any living thing…at the moment. But there are ways of getting around that. You really wanna hurt someone bad enough – you're gonna find a way. Even if you have to get someone else to do it for you."

At the wide-eyed looks her comment earned her, she added, "What? I was a vengeance demon for over a thousand years. What do you think kept me busy, if not the wishes of people who didn't have the power to carry out their own revenge?" She paused. "Just the fact that he wants to hurt us, means that somehow, someway – he can."

"Like," Willow nodded slowly, understanding where she was going with that. "if he managed to get the chip out, or it stopped working…"

"Or he could just get someone else to do it for him," Xander pointed out. "It's really not that difficult."

"Okay," Buffy admitted, a slight pout coming to her lips as she realized that they were right. "We can't let him go. But – I can't see staking him. Not when he can't even fight back. It's kind of – like – cheating," she tried to put her thoughts into words, not quite translating them correctly – as usual.

"Well," Giles muttered, his eyes back on his book. "We need to find some solution, because he bloody well can't stay here forever!"

Buffy was a bit taken aback by his words. She had heard Giles swear in British before, but he usually didn't, not unless he was really irritated. She guessed that his patience with the unwelcome guest in the living room was thinner already than she had realized.

Giles' attention remained on his book, but when the others looked expectantly to her again, she found herself once again on the defensive. "Okay, so we need to find a different arrangement. But I can't very well keep him in my dorm room, can I?"

"Nope," Willow replied decisively, her eyes wide at the memory that sprang to her mind of Spike in her dorm room a few weeks before. "Can't do that."

"Don't look at Xander," Anya announced, before anyone did. "I'm not having Spike watching and listening while Xander gives me orgasms. He's much too vocal, he'd probably spoil the mood just for the fun of it."

Xander gave her an incredulous look of horror. "That's your only objection to Deadboy Junior watching us have sex?"

Anya gave him a blank look and a shrug. "What other objection would I have?" she asked him. "Sex is a natural part of life. It is performed for both procreation and pleasure, and everybody does it." She recited the words as if from a textbook, then added with a shrug, "Unless you're old, like Giles. Or too ugly to find someone willing to join with you."

"Bloody hell." Giles' muttered words drew Buffy's attention with a slight wince. He had not been terribly patient lately, and Anya's words might have pushed his temper over the edge. He was really making with the British cursing today.

Of course, that might have had something to do with the little glass beside him that he kept refilling with the amber-colored beverage in the refrigerator.

She kept meaning to talk to him about that.

But when Giles looked up, his eyes were wide and astonished, and Buffy recognized the expression on his face with relief. It was not a look of anger, but rather a look that said he had just found something incredible in one of his dusty old books.

Of course, "incredible" by his definition was not necessarily the same as "incredible" by hers.

"What?" she asked him, interested in spite of herself.

A slow, thoughtful smile came over Giles' face as he replied quietly, "I think I may have just discovered the solution to our problem. What to do about Spike."