Author Notes: I've noticed that I've read many more fics where Riley is the bad guy than the good guy. I also noticed that I've read more fics where Riley is the bad guy than Spike or Faith, who actually were bad guys. And all he ever did was lose the girl of his dreams. Poor guy. Set during Into the Woods.


First there is pain. Mmmm... I like the pain. Those long incisors of hers are beginning to puncture my skin, just above my wrist. I wonder if she's going over the same holes again from last time, or if I'll be able to count my visits.

Does Buffy think about this every time she lets a vampire bite her?

She's cold. I can feel heat on my arm, but it's from my own blood spilling out from her lips. Her cool, wet tongue laps up the overflow. My heart is beating faster now, almost like when I was still on the drugs. It doesn't help when she settles down onto my lap. The vamp wench giggles and moans, like it's doing something for her, when we both know that it doesn't. It sickens me, but when I moan it's not faked. The grunt I make when she clamps down with her jaw around my wrist is me taking pleasure in the throbbing brutalization of my arm.

"You like that?" she whispers. She's not talking to me. It's a reflex action ingrained into her from the job, like any good prostitute. She returns to ravish my flesh.

"Yes," I breathe. I'm just as trainable. More so.

Buffy never got that about me. Or if she did she grew to resent it. She never liked my preparation either. I told her about it, told her about practicing conversations with her ahead of time. I punch myself in the head. Ow.

"What was I thinking?" I mumble to myself. My vampire wench just ignores me, sucking on my blood. And I was honest about the whole thing. Women like honesty? Yeah right. Fuck me, no wonder she's bored with me.

Hostile 17, Spike, was right. I'm just not Buffy's type. I'm not dark enough. A bitter smirk passes across my lips. How's this dark for you?

I didn't want this to happen. Fell in love with a girl who was in love with danger, who shares a closer relationship with the Apocalypse than with me, and now I'm paying for it. Should have listened to Forrest. Glad he's not here to see me now. Shaking my head I apologize to him for thinking that. Just because I've sold my soul doesn't mean I should take it out on him.

Soul. Buffy has the truest soul I've ever known. Just thinking of it makes me smile. It's a little memory of that light before the dark of the real world comes crashing down around me.

I'm sitting in a gutted warehouse with a vampire whore on my lap, who I'm paying to drink my blood, shirtless, no job, no friends left, and with girlfriend who doesn't love me. The mattress I'm sitting on smells like human filth, the floor is littered with random trash, porcelain and old bathtubs. This dive is perfect for what I've become. I just couldn't be what she wanted. No matter what I did I would never be able to have her yearn for me the same way I do for her. This whore in my lap needs me more, even if it is just for food. Buffy doesn't need me at all.

I know what her heart yearns for.

She had said that she and Angel were over. I don't believe that. Every time someone dark and broody shows up Buffy ignores me. Does she have any idea how inadequate that makes me feel?

She's always thinking of someone else. Angel. Jonathan.

Spike.

The whore looks into my eyes. I can see the hunger in them, the desire and excitement from the thrill of the hunt, or the kill. This vampire bitch fuels her undead life with my blood. She needs me. She fucking needs me.

Would Buffy or her friends get it that I pay to get off on that? Fuck. I'm not sure if I get it. Why lie to myself? I don't get it, but it feels so good.

Buffy was always reluctant to let me into her life. She still is. I'm always the first one put out. Then she started training harder and ignored me even more. We used to have witty banter between us. Now the only time she really talks to me is - no wait - she never talks to me anymore. The only time she ever devotes attention to me is when we make out. It's like she's using me. Using me to get her kicks, to help break skulls, and not even that anymore now that I'm no longer a superhero.

Maybe her ignoring me isn't her fault. She's had a tough time with her mom. But she isn't turning to me for comfort. She's turning to Joyce, Dawn, Willow. And Spike.

The kicker was when I saw her holding hands with him after the Quellor demon attack on her mom. I was right there for her. She saw me. And she went to my enemy, her enemy, instead of me. She was never there with me when she cried. I was there for her and she never came to me. She said she cried, so hard she wasn't going to be able to stop; yet she never came to me.

Mmmm... arm's starting to go numb. The endorphins are washing away the pain. Maybe some of the other pain is helping to wash it away too. It feels like she's teasing my wrist now. I hope she doesn't start up with the lap dance act. Never tried the sleaze, but I'm in no hurry to start. It was never that I was after.

Buffy was so coy that one time. All about the animal instincts, about her nasty little desires and itches. I never wanted to see her like that. She said, "Am I a bad girl? Wanna hurt me?" I broke that night. She was so amazing. I remember. It was the last time I felt needed. And when I said, "I love you" she freaked. "Get off!" she yelled, like she didn't understand how this love thing was supposed to work. But that was Faith, not Buffy. The magic was destroyed. Buffy stopped trusting me. I'll never know what Buffy's real reaction would have been. And that's killing me.

Somehow I don't want to know. We always made out after killing things. We had sex for the first time after we took out the Polgara demon. There's an echo in my brain of Xander saying something about Slayers and hungry and horny. Maybe it's just my imagination.

We had sex so much that one night. Maybe we over-sated Buffy's need for me. That wasn't real either. It was just phantoms.

It's not such a stretch then that I'm losing her. I never had anything in the first place.

The vampire suddenly wiggles against me. I squirm.

"Please, just bite," I say. She seems confused. The rest of the patrons must like the dance. That's not what I'm here for.

Dawn said Buffy doesn't get worked up around me like with Angel, but I want her to, as selfish as that is. That would mean she cared. What happened to the caring, when Buffy would drop everything and do the nursing routine when I was wounded or sick?

Everyone told us that we were perfect together. Our love should have been forever. When Buffy spoke she dropped hints that she didn't love in a sensible fashion. She thought our relationship was doomed, and I realized that our love never was.

That's when I started hanging out with demons at Willy's. No one wanted me, so I had lots of time to think, to reflect as now. I learned about the suckjob brothels. I shunned them. Then I got my taste with Sandy before I dusted her. Now it's like a drug. A 95lb waif on my lap, gradually draining away my heartache, leaving behind an addicted shell of a man.

I know I'm ruining myself but I'm not going to stop it.

I fell in love with a Buffy I thought was nuts - a peculiar girl. And time stopped, and it felt like the world was made for just the two of us. Willow said that. Or something like that. "Until the day one of you leaves and rips the still-beating heart from the other, who's now a broken, hollow, mockery of the human condition." Buffy left without going anywhere, now look at me.

I can sit here quietly and watch my life crumbling. I know I should do something but I can't. It should be so easy to do something differently, to change this, but it's just too hard.

Some days I wake up in the morning and think that I'm being foolish, that I'm making stuff up because I'm worried. I am worried. I'm worried that she's going to figure out what I've known all along: That she doesn't love me.

The vampire whore is easing up on my arm now. The lack of pain is distracting because it is failing to distract my brain. Somehow through the blood loss I can still feel the hurt.

"Harder," I command, and she obliges. It's starting to disappear again...

I hear a gasp from the door and fight through the grogginess and the wonderful pressure on my arm to look for the source of the sound.

It's Buffy.

Oh God.