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Balancing Act

Chapter 1

At first, Spike didn't get what he was seeing. It took some moments - long ones - before what he took to be a fight, revealed itself to be… a rape. The demon was leaning into the boy, and his jerking movements looked so aggressive that Spike had thought the child was being mugged. When he worked out the positions, he attacked thoughtlessly, coming out of the shadows of the alley, tearing the demon away, ignoring his expression, taking his head in one majestic sweep of his axe.

Something then hit him hard from behind, and he staggered, colliding with the falling torso, pushing it away disgustedly.

Spinning around, he recoiled at the demonic face that greeted him.

Oh, bloody hell!

Mistaking demon for human was never a good idea.

'Hey!' Spike finally recovered his senses enough to push back. 'I've just saved your bloody arse!'

The small figure appeared to recover, too, and he began to fasten his clothes. 'He wasn't very good anyway. You'll do much better.'

'Huh?' Spike took a step back, turning with a puzzled look to the head at his feet. The expression didn't look so aggressive now- it looked confused, scared.

He turned back slowly and licked his lips. 'I'll killed the wrong one.'

The creature nodded, grinning.

'Never no mind.' Spike swung his axe once more and took the thing's head, too.

He blew out a long breath and shook out his shoulders. With care, he moved the head and torso of the larger demon into the shadows and covered them gently. 'Sorry, Mate. But I'm thinking you were no saint either.'

He shouldered his axe, stepped over the smaller body and stomped through the alley toward the street, unaware that a pair of small, amused eyes watched him from their strange angle on the ground.

He wandered down the street, trying not to think about the incident. He debated cheering himself up and visiting Angel, making his sire's evening miserable, too, but decided he'd had enough fun for one night. An evening in front of the telly with a beer suddenly seemed very attractive- after a shower (or two), which still left him feeling dirty.

The next morning, Spike wandered up through the basement of Wolfram and Hart. He nodded at a couple of girls from the typing pool he recognised, and took the elevator to the main floor. As he strolled along toward Angel's office, he saw Wesley pouring over some books in his office. He leant in the doorway and lit a cigarette. 'Hey…Watcher…?'

Wesley didn't look up. 'What do you want, Spike?'

'You ever heard of a demon that can make…. Never mind.'

Wesley closed his book and looked up. 'I think Angel's in a meet….'


Wesley frowned slightly. 'Meeting. I think Angel's in a meeting. But I have something to show you.'

Spike pushed off the doorframe and came over. 'The poof's life is so bloody boring these days. What's that then?'

Wesley stood and offered his seat, and with his this-better-be-good look, Spike slid in and pulled the book closer. He began to flick the pages over. Wesley stood at his shoulder, and then, after a moment, put his hand down and held one page still. 'There, see? It's a….'

Spike heard the voice drain away from him as if he were being sucked into a long tunnel. He swallowed and began to breathe slowly. One hundred and twenty years (and counting) of weird things happening to him, and he'd finally found one that took away his ability to act.

Totally oblivious of the effect he was having on Spike, Wesley continued to stroke his fingers over the back of Spike's neck, brushing the short blond hair with his thumb.

Then he straightened a little and pushed his hips forward.

Spike turned his head and retreated voluntarily down the rest of the tunnel when he found himself face to face with a considerable tenting.

His slow breathing turned to a single, loud gulp, and he jumped up, babbling badly, moving toward the door, banging his hip painfully on the edge of the desk. Wesley began to follow. Spike began to run- to Angel's office, where he burst in and barricaded the door with his spread-eagled body.

'Bloody hell! Bloody hell! Angel! Bloody hell!'

Angel, who did not appear to be in a meeting, didn't look up. 'Get out, Spike. I'm busy.'

'Bloody hell! The sodding poof! Did you know?'

Angel looked up, bored. 'Did I know wha-? Why are you barring the-? Who's that out-?' Angel got up and came around his desk, frowning.

Spike held the doors shut and shouted over his shoulder, 'Sod off, Poof.'

Angel moved him to one side and pulled the door open. Wesley almost fell through, then straightened and clenched his jaw. 'Spike. I need to talk to you. In my office for a moment, if you….'

The growl left him open-mouthed.

At the same time, Wesley and Spike turned to the low, menacing sound. Wesley stepped back, automatically. Angel's eyes flashed amber at him, his demonic face incongruous in the bright light of the office.

'He's mine.'

Wesley's fists curled at his side. Spike began to laugh, but it had an unworldly sound to it. 'What is this shit?'

Angel suddenly ran at him and pinned him hard against the glass wall. He hissed into his ear, 'Mine,' as if that small repetition would clarify matters.

Spike shoved him off and threw his hands up in fury. He turned when another figure came in through the door and said in a pointed tone to Fred, 'One word from you about fancying me, and I'm outta here!'

Fred curled her lip prettily. 'I think you're staying then.'

Suddenly, without taking his eyes off the two males, Spike shouted, 'Hey! Harm! Get your butt in here.'

Harmony appeared in the door, hands on hips about to protest, when Spike said, 'Do you want me?'

Harmony smirked. 'Bit early, Baby, even for a nooner. Hey! We could call it a….'

'Harm! You dozy bint! Do you WANT me… passionate, lust-type thing?'

'Eww! Spike! Get a life!'

Spike nodded at Fred. 'There's some freaky spell here- ask them!'

Fred glanced anxiously at Wesley. 'What does he mean?'

Wesley shook his head. 'There's nothing magical about it. He knows how I feel. He's known it for weeks.'

Before Spike could finish a squawked, 'Hey!' he found Angel's hand around his throat, closing.

'You betrayed me with HIM?'

Spike tried to force the hand off. 'You bloody idiot! I don't need to sodding breathe! Let go! You're probably bruising me! Angel! This is a spell!'

Fred turned to Harmony. 'Get Lorne and Gunn.'

Harmony didn't seem to want to leave the entertainment, but after a giggle, she turned and left.

Fred came over to Angel and put a hand tentatively on his arm. 'Angel? Can you hear me?'

Angel turned to her, puzzled. 'Of course.'

'Okay, well, think then… this is a spell of some sort. You don't even like Spike- remember?'

Angel's hand dropped, and Spike nodded approvingly. Angel pouted, but then added, 'No, I don't like him: I love him.'

'OH! Bloody bollocks to that! NO! NO! You're not getting with the programme here! NO ONE is loving the blond vampire today. Okay?'

Gunn came skidding into the office. 'What's up?'

Fred said calmly, still eyeing Angel, 'We need to get Spike out of… Gunn?'

'Hey, man, have you been doing your hair different?'

Spike gazed at Gunn as he might watch a cobra: with a kind of sick fascination.

Gunn smiled and ran a hand over his head, as if smoothing almost non-existent hair.

'Damn, Bro, you look good in that coat!'

Angel went into game face again and hissed at Gunn. Wesley seemed to concur with this assessment and suddenly punched him.

Spike backed away from them all. 'This is madness.'

Fred suddenly stamped her foot, commanding the room. 'Wesley. This is a spell. Think! That's Spike! Think about Spike what you thought about him yesterday!'

Wesley swallowed. 'I thought his eyes were like glass alleys I loved as a boy and that his hair was as perfect as silk unravelling.'

Fred tried not to smile and turned instead to Angel, but before she could tackle him, he said softly, 'No, you're wrong. You didn't like him yesterday.'

Spike sighed a huge sigh of relief and went to stand close to Angel. 'At last! Some sense from the dead man. So, you think it's a spell that's worn off you quickly?'

Angel nodded. 'Must be.' He leant closer to Spike, put his arm around his neck and kissed him. 'We know who you belong to, Baby. Don't worry.'

Theatrically gagging and rubbing his cheek, Spike went to stand behind Fred for protection. She put a hand reassuringly on his arm and said to Angel, 'It's not affecting you as much as them, Angel. You can see the spell for what it is where they're concerned. Try harder! You can't stand the sight of Spike most days! Try to remember.'

Angel frowned deeply. 'No, that's not true. I know this isn't real. Yeah. It's a spell. But I love him. But it's not true. But why do I think about him ALL the time! Why do I want him now? It's a spell, and I want him! I want to tear his….'

'Angel!' She turned and hissed at Spike, 'Get out of here….'

Spike nodded and, with his way to the door clear, slipped out to the lobby.

The others were either making to follow him or trying to prevent that happening when they heard a shout and a scuffle.

Angel got there first and shouted as three of the accounting department mauled Spike on the floor. He heaved them off, and Spike rose, rubbing his mouth in disgust.

Angel roared at the circling group of males, and they all backed off.

Suddenly, Harmony held the phone to her chest and said nervously, 'Something's up with Lorne, Boss.'

Hardly hearing her, glaring around the lobby, Angel barked, 'What?'

'He's in… trouble….'

Angel held out his hand for the phone. 'Angel-pie, is that you?'

Angel nodded then cursed and said softly, 'Yeah. What's up?' He turned his back on the lobby and adjusted his clothes discreetly. 'Make this quick. We've got a situation here.'

At the sound of another scuffle, he turned and grabbed Spike's arm, pulling him close to his side. He growled in a low, menacing tone at the group of men until they backed off once more. He put the phone to his ear and snapped, 'Talk.' As Lorne spoke, Angel gazed at Spike's hair, wondering if it felt like silk, too.

Spike stayed in Angel's solid presence, where the madness seemed to be slightly less than anywhere else in his world.

Angel put the phone down and nodded toward the elevator. 'Let's get you out of here.' Spike nodded gratefully and led the way. Another glare from Angel kept the mob back, and Spike heard the doors shut with a deep sigh of relief, closing his eyes on the insanity for a moment.

Suddenly, he snapped them open, and then narrowed them at Angel. 'You okay now?'

Angel was standing with his head hung down. 'Don't talk to me.'

'Huh? What's wrong…?' Spike swallowed and wished he hadn't asked. A tic worked in Angel's cheek, the only outward evidence of the internal demons he fought.

Spike tried to light a cigarette to bring some normality back into his life and said evenly, 'Cus, like, you hate me, remember?'

'You need to be very quiet now, Spike. So I forget you're in here with me.'

'Look, all I'm sayin' is….' Spike decided not to say it when a tonne of vampire crushed him to the wall. Angel was silent; he didn't move, but his need was very evident between them.

Angel groaned between clenched teeth. 'If I concentrate, I can tell myself that it's only a spell.'

'Okay. I get that. And if you don't concen…?'

Angel lifted one leg and ground himself against Spike. 'If I don't, all I can see in my mind is this, sliding into you.'

Spike brought his hand up and theatrically mimed zipping his mouth.

Angel nodded. 'We need to rescue Lorne. Then we'll find out what's caused this.'

The doors to the elevator slid open, and with another groan, Angel pushed off Spike, adjusted his clothes and strode out toward the cars.

As he crossed the garage, a shadowy figure peeled off from a wall. 'Sir.'

Angel cursed. 'I can handle this…?'

'Murphy, Sir.'

'I can handle this alone, Murphy.'

'This is a case for Field Ops, Sir. There's no need for….'

Angel turned to see what had distracted the young man and cursed when he saw Spike leaning against the Viper, head down, seemingly deep in thought.

When he sensed himself under scrutiny, Spike looked up, and the young man took a step forward with a small catch of his breath.

Angel growled, 'Step back, Soldier!'

Spike suddenly cursed and strode toward them. He poked the soldier in the chest. 'You want me?'

The man nodded like a child being asked if he liked Christmas. Spike nodded and punched him unconscious.

Angel suddenly groaned softly and bent forward sharply, resting his hands on his knees. He waved vaguely at Spike. 'Get in the damn car.'

Spike meekly to the passenger seat. Angel straightened and walked back to the elevator. 'Wait here! I need to…. Suits not…. I mean….'

The doors slid closed on him. Three minutes later, he was back in leather pants and a loose shirt. Spike stared resolutely ahead and refused to consider the import of these things.

At first, they didn't speak in the car. Every time Angel's hand moved to change gear, Spike jumped slightly, which irritated Angel enough to overcome the desire to miss the gear knob, as Spike feared he would.

At last, Spike said in a low voice, 'I'm not talking, okay? Only… what's up with the green one?'

'He's run up some debts. He's being held.'

Spike wasn't too sure whether to be worried or reassured by the evident control Angel was exercising over his voice.

They pulled into an alley behind a club, and Angel kicked in the fire doors.

They threaded their way up through gloomy hallways until they reached the main bar.

Lorne was sitting anxiously in a chair, and he smiled at them when they arrived. A group of men lounging by the bar turned as one and straightened.

Angel nodded his head at his friend and said, 'He comes with us now.'

One of the men laughed. 'Yeah. Okay.' He turned back to the bar and said to the others, 'Get rid of….' Suddenly, he turned back and stared at Spike. He stepped forward, smiling shyly. 'Hi. My name's Mike. You're…?'

Spike leaned around Angel. 'I'm pissed off, Mate; that's what I am.'

The men began to advance on Spike.

Suddenly, Spike said in a low voice, 'Thought I was yours, Luv….'

Angel roared and charged the men.

Spike smirked and went over to Lorne. 'You okay?'

'I am now, Sweetie.'

Spike took a step back. 'No. Not bloody you as well.'

Lorne looked puzzled. 'Me? What honey-pie?'

'You want me…?'

Lorne chuckled, dodging a flying chair. 'Well, I guess I'm flattered - in a strange bizarre-world kind of flattered - but no, Sweet-chops, not big with the wanting. Now… Angel-buns…!' He grinned. 'Only kidding.'

Spike nodded relieved, 'Okay then. Let's go.'

'Shouldn't we - and that's the you kind of we - be helping Angel?'

'Nah, he's working through some issues.'

He led Lorne to the car, and they lounged, chatting, until Angel appeared. He looked relatively undamaged and shook out his shoulders as if something had been eased.

Avoiding looking at Spike, he slid into the driver's seat and glanced at Lorne in the mirror. 'You okay?'

'Do I still owe a big one?'

Angel shook his head grimly. 'Debt paid in full.'

'Then I'm mucho-goodo. Let's go home. And thanks, Angel.'

They drove for a short time until Spike suddenly said, 'Pull over here. I'm going home until the bloody universe stops fucking with me.'

As the word left his mouth, he regretted it, and he cast Angel a small, surreptitious look. Angel looked so close to the edge it was doubtful he even heard the small, earthy curse.

He stared at Spike, emotions flickering over his face. 'It's not safe. You need to stay with… me.'

'Angel! I'm a soddin' vampire- or have you forgotten?'

'No… everyone you meet… all the… men… on you….'

'OKAY! Stop with the visuals in your head! Angel! Focus!'

Angel grabbed the wheel as if drowning, but nodded. 'I'm okay. I just don't want you to go. Please!'

This last was said in such a passionate, hushed tone that Spike immediately leapt from the car and shouted, 'You are just damn freaky! Stop it!' Clenching his jaw, he strode off into the night.

Angel put his head down on the wheel.

Lorne said hesitantly, 'So, you've finally told him…?'

Angel whirled around, his face wet. 'What?'

'You? Spike? You've told…. And I'll just do that really good impression I do of a shutting-up thing now.'

'It's a spell! I know that it is. But I can't stop thinking what I'm thinking….' This seemed too much for Angel, and once more, he bent over at the waist for a while. This time when he straightened, he slammed the car into gear and didn't turn around again as he drove too fast back to the office.

When he got back, Wesley, Gunn, and Fred were sitting in his office looking tense. He strode in, in front of Lorne, and shuddered as he crossed the threshold. 'What was that?'

Wesley stood up, his voice low, not catching Angel's eye. 'Fred's put a de-forming spell around this office, Angel. It's very weak; we can't expand it any further, but while we're in here? We're not thinking….'

Angel nodded, looking slightly puzzled. 'How long before it kicks in?'

Wesley jerked his head back and looked helplessly to Fred. She shook her head, looking mystified, and Wesley murmured, 'Well, Gunn and I were fine straightaway….'

Angel immediately shoved his hands in his pockets. 'Yeah. There you go. All thought-free.'

He went to his desk and began to rummage for something intently.

Wesley sat back down. 'Where is…?'

Angel waved vaguely. 'Gone home.'

'Oh. Right. Well, all we've got so far is….'

'I've seen this before.'

Wesley's eyebrow rose, and Angel continued, perching on his desk. 'In Sunnydale. Somehow Xander Harris became the object of hysterical attention from all the women- even Drusilla.'

'Right. I need to contact him then.' Wesley rose and glanced anxiously at the lobby. 'I'll be back in here as soon as I can to… cleanse seems a slightly harsh word.'

Gunn looked up, his face very stormy. 'It's exactly the right word.'

Angel concurred, but his interjection seemed a little hasty.

He rose from the desk. 'If you find anything let me know.'

They all trailed out, and he rode up in the elevator, already peeling off his damp clothes disgustedly.

Suddenly his cellphone rang, and he dug it out of his discarded pants. 'Yeah.'

'It's… me….'

'What do you want? Jesus, Spike, this is the last thing I need….'



'Can you, like, come and get me? I'm kinda… stuck….'

Go to Chapter 2


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