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Balancing Act

Chapter 2

Extracting Spike was easier than Angel feared after the tense, furious call. He'd holed up in a broom cupboard, and when Angel got him out, he wasn't sure which part of Spike was more in tatters: his body or his dignity.

He'd been surprised when Spike had called him, even more surprised when he'd said where he was, but not surprised to open the doors of the public library to find a small, all-male mob crowding against a door in the hallway.

He hesitated, studying their faces, wondering if the same mindless lasciviousness was on his. He went to join them, made them notice him, felt their stares of jealous anger, then murmured the word window and tried to sneak away. As he'd planned, the cry went up that he knew something they didn't, and they gave chase. When he'd lost them, he doubled back and knocked softly. 'It's me.'

After a moment, the door opened.

Angel uncharacteristically cried out and fell to his knees. Spike painfully rose from his. 'Get me outta here.'

Angel rose and put an arm around his shoulders and half-carried him out to the car.

He propped Spike carefully into the passenger seat and drove angrily through the traffic to Wolfram and Hart.

'And why the hell where you at the freaking library?'

Spike frowned and gave him a look through swollen, blackened eyes. 'You ever 'eard of books then, Pet?'

'You use a public library?' This seemed to worry Angel on some fundamental level.

''Sides, they've got computers….'

Angel turned to him. 'But I'd have bought you books, and a computer, if you'd wanted them!'

Spike laughed, but it turned into painful coughing. 'That's the spell talkin'. You've bought me jack-shit, Angel- even blood when I was starvin', remember?'

'I didn't know you were….' He shut up swiftly, as an image of Spike tied to a chair, the bones of his face so prominent he'd hardly recognised him, flashed into his mind.

'I'm sorry; I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry.'

'Stop it! You're freaking me out again!'

They drove in silence the rest of the way, except for the occasional groan: Angel's in remorse as he tormented himself with remembrance of mistreating his precious, and Spike's in pain.

They rode Angel's elevator to his suite, and Angel helped Spike to the bed. Spike resisted and said sharply, 'This is not a good idea, Angel.'

Angel nodded. 'Fred has a containment spell. I'm going to ask her to put it around the suite- it takes away the power of the spell. It will reassure you that this is real.'

Spike was about to get very angry, but instead he glanced down. Angel's hand was making slow circles on his thigh. 'Maybe now then…!'

Angel winced and reluctantly pulled his hand back. He looked as if he was about to try and plead his cause, but then left.

Spike stretched out on the large bed and tried to get the faces out of his mind. Voices played in his head, begging him, threatening him, as they'd dragged him down and hurt him.

Angel rode back up without the spell, Fred unable to summon more power for it, prepared to tell Spike he had to leave- that he couldn't trust himself. He tore himself apart with guilt when he thought about not telling him this and tricking him into staying….

He'd wound himself up to tell him, when the doors slid back, and he found Spike sprawled on his bed asleep.

Angel didn't fake resistance, even to himself; he went and sat on the edge of the bed, knowing he would not let Spike leave.

He eyed Spike's wounds with a frown then went to the bathroom to fetch some supplies. Spike woke to the feel of his shirt being unbuttoned. He tried to sit up, but Angel eased him back and held a cloth up to his eye line. 'I need to clean you up, Spike: human nails, teeth….'

Spike winced. 'I just need a shower.'

Angel nodded and helped him sit up. 'Everything you need is in there.'

Spike gave him a small glance. 'The de-spell spell isn't in place, is it?'

Angel pouted as if he resented the implication that he wouldn't be so kind or generous without a spell. Spike patted him, 'Yeah,' and went slowly and painfully into Angel's bathroom.

He decided he wanted one of these. There wasn't much of Angel's new wealth or possessions he envied, except the cars. Now he added the shower to his list. He twisted and turned and felt his healing powers working. The wounds were unattractive, and once more, the sounds of grunting and the feel of pawing came to mind. He sighed, the pleasure of the shower gone, and turned off the water. Tying a towel so tightly around his waist that it almost lapped him, he padded back into the bedroom.

When he emerged, Angel was still sitting on the bed, twisting the discarded shirt around and around in his hands. He looked up when Spike came in then unconsciously let his eyes travel down the semi-naked body. Immediately, he rose and went to stand by the window, his back to the room.

Spike toed his ripped pants furiously. 'Can I borrow something?'

Angel twisted his head around. 'You can't leave!'

'Angel! I can't stay here!'

'No!' Angel came back. 'I'm okay. This is the only safe place until we figure this out. I'm the only one who can control it.'

Spike sneered. 'Yeah, you've got your natural hatred for me helping you out there!'

Angel crossed the gap between them so swiftly that Spike tried to take a step back, but failed. He grabbed Spike's hand and thrust it to the top of one thigh. 'You think I'm finding this easy?'

Something jumped under Spike's hand, something that lay heavy and thick under the black leather.

Spike twisted his hand out of Angel's and shook it as if he could flick the memory of the touch away. Feeling strangely abashed, he sank to the edge of the bed. 'This is utter madness. It's a cosmic joke, isn't it?'

Angel sat next to him but kept his eyes fastened on the ground.

'I'm the least lovable person in the world. That's why it's picked on me- cosmic joke, see?'

Angel frowned. 'Why do you say you're not lovable?'

Spike turned to look at him. 'Jeez, Angel. Work it out for yourself! Only two people 'ave ever loved me- an' one of those was me mum, so she don't count.' He pouted, looking down at his nails. 'And then the other one- my dark princess. Emotional intelligence of a….'

'But she did love you….'

Spike shrugged. 'Didn't take 'er long - oh, about three hours - to shrug off one hundred years of loving me for your bed again though, did it?'

Angel's hand lay heavy on the bed between them. Hesitantly, he lifted it and put it on Spike's back. 'Don't resist this now then. Let me love you, Spike.'

Spike shook his head. 'I wish I had this on vid, yeah? I'd play it back when you're over it.'

Angel began to circle his hand. 'I haven't touched anyone like this for so long. We're both starved for it.'

'Angel, stop it. It's freaking me out.'

'Think what it could be like… if you allowed it to be…. We'd be together- never alone.'

'Don't do this, Angel, please.'

'We could travel together again. Do you remember all the places we went?'

'Yeah, I remember.'

'Rome? Vienna? Prague?'

'Please, Angel.' He lay back on the bed, his body offering far less resistance to the seductive memories than his brain.

'Whenever you looked up- I'd be there. Whenever I thought about you- you'd be there.'

'Stop it, Angel. It's madness.'

Angel seemed to hear some capitulation in his words, and he eased closer. Tentatively, he rested one hand on Spike's thigh, just below the towel line.


'Please. I need to… touch you.'

'This is sick.'

Angel began to circle his hand on the shower-warm skin.

'Think what our bodies would be like together…. Can you picture it?'

Spike's towel stirred, and he closed his eyes. 'If you do this, Angel, everything that holds our relationship together - the long history, the shared lovers, the souls, the occasional flash of friendship, the bitter hatred - will all be gone, and when you wake up, free of this spell, there will be nothing left.'

'You think too much.'

'Maybe. Maybe.'

Angel bent his head and fastened his teeth gently over Spike's nipple, murmuring, 'So, maybe, stop thinking…?'

With a half-sob, Spike pushed him off and sat up. 'I have to go.'

Angel came closer and slid his arm around Spike's waist, leaning his face on his back. 'Please don't go. I'll…. I mean…. I'll sleep on the couch, but please, don't go…. If anything happened to you….'

'Stop it! You hate me! Nothing would make you happier than if I got dusted one day!'

Angel rubbed his face gently over the smooth expanse of skin. 'I think about you all the time, Spike- wondering what you're doing, what you're thinking, what you're thinking about me.'

'Angel…. Don't, please. This is a lie, and it'll destroy us.'

'When we argue, I want to drag you to me and kiss you instead.'

'You'll destroy me, Angel.'

'I think a lot about kissing you. What does your mouth taste like?' He eased closer, curling around Spike slowly. 'Do you know who I picture when I touch myself?'

'Stop it!' Spike stood up, but Angel held the bottom of his towel, preventing him from stepping away.

'I'm sorry. I promise- lie down.'

Angel moved to the far side of the bed and folded in on himself. Grudgingly, Spike climbed back on and turned his back to the silent figure. He pulled the covers high over his shoulder and let the pain of the night overtake him.

It was strangely quiet without Angel's seductive words, so he played them back in his head and fell asleep to the thought that now the madness was no longer just external.

He awoke with Angel watching him from a few inches away, an intense look of adoration on his face. Sleepy, warm, Spike pouted, and it seemed to take away Angel's control, for he leant forward and kissed him. 'Morning.'

For a moment, Spike wondered if the spell was catching- if he'd caught it sleeping alongside Angel all night. His gaze dragged down from Angel's dilated eyes to his lips. Angel groaned at the provocative invitation and leant forward again. Spike opened his mouth to protest, and Angel's tongue flicked in for a moment before he pulled away. Heat and desire poured off Angel's body in waves.

He came back again and this time, whispered, 'Please,' into the kiss.

Before he could ask what, Spike felt a hand opening the front of his towel- parting the folds.

He whispered, 'No.'

'Please.' Angel kissed him again.

When the hand found him, Spike arched like a bow, and any consciousness of who this was deserted him along with the blood rapidly deserting his brain.

When Angel's mouth left his and the dark head slid out of view, Spike could no more have stopped him than he could have once stopped breathing.

When Angel took him in, he arched again, scrabbling madly at Angel's hair. 'No. Off.'

With a surge of intense pleasure, he released strong pellets of cum, like white shooting stars, which then splattered down on his belly and chest.

Rational thought returning with the release, he cried out with embarrassment, flinging his arm over his eyes.

He moved his other hand to his stomach in an automatic reaction to wipe the cum away, and found Angel's hair once more. A powerful tongue began long strokes over his glistening skin.

Angel lapped him up like a cat enjoying cream, and just as this analogy struck Spike, he heard a soft rumble, like purring, and he knew his madness was complete.

Angel seemed oblivious to Spike's anguish. He smiled broadly when his face reappeared, and he kissed Spike swiftly, the taste of salt strong on his lips. 'Feeling better?'

Spike nodded dumbly.

Angel play-slapped him. 'Come on, let's go see what's on for today. Hey! Maybe we can go kill things together.'

The joy in Angel's expression was infectious, and Spike smiled wanly, despite knowing he was now insane.

He went into the shower once more, leaving Angel to find him something to wear.

When he emerged, Angel was putting the phone down. He watched the dark expression for a moment. 'What's wrong?'

'The anti-spell around the office has faded. Fred said she's working on acquiring ingredients for another, but even with all our resources, it's going to take some days.'

'Oh. Bloody hell. So…?'

'You'll have to stay up here.'

'No way.'


'No, Angel! What if we never solve this! I can't live like a hermit; you know that. A minute ago, you were dead-keen to go down!' He saw Angel's expression become furtive. 'Oh! I get it! You thought you'd keep the others in the office and have me all to yourself, and, oh God! What am I saying? This is madness! Okay, I need to stop saying that, too, and come up with something else to describe this utter….'

Angel stopped his mouth with a kiss, and although he resisted, although he pushed Angel away, there was an element of humour in his voice when he held up a censorious finger. 'You…!'

Angel grinned, pleased with himself, and glanced at the bed.

'Angel!' Spike repressed a smile but not very well.

Angel edged closer.

Spike backed away. 'Clothes!'

'I prefer you like that….'

'So would Wesley….'

While Angel was suitably distracted, Spike stomped to the closet and rummaged in his clothes for something to wear.

He found a pair of surprisingly slim jeans and held them up, puzzled.

Angel came forward.

Spike stuck a finger through the hole in one knee. 'These aren't yours.'

Angel took them from him. 'No.'

Spike frowned. 'Something you want to tell me? Cus, like, where this spell had its amusing moments, it's just become more… serious- you've got another bloke's jeans in your wardrobe.'

Angel nodded. 'It's not what you think- at all.'

Spike breathed out. 'Okay. Can I wear them then?'

Angel held them possessively to his chest for a moment, then frowned and looked at them again. 'There's no comparison between what I felt for him and how much I love you now.' He looked up perplexed. 'How can I love you more than him?' He turned to the window and stared out over the city. 'Darla and I created life together-real, human life. He was with me for such a short time. He hadn't even started to turn over by himself. Then he was taken from me, and when he came back - just a few days, jeez - he fitted these.'

Spike came to stand alongside him silently.

'Things went very wrong between us, but now he has a new life. He doesn't remember me, and I saw to it that no one remembers him.'

Hesitantly, Spike put a hand on Angel's back. 'I'm sorry, Pet. Bet you made a great dad, too.'

Angel smiled, but the look was so sad that Spike, after considerable thought, hugged him.

'That's why you're here, isn't it? The deal you made?'

Angel nodded, not speaking, concentrating on the hug.

'This hug is making you feel better, isn't it?'

Angel nodded.

'Much better…?'

Angel chuckled.

'Give me the sodding jeans, Angel, and let's go kill something, yeah? Oh, and you can talk as much as you bloody like about the owner of these… only… mention Darla and anything gynaecological? I'm outta here.'

He pulled the jeans on then grabbed one of Angel's shirts, ignoring the look he knew he'd be getting behind his back.

When they got down to the office, Angel summoned his colleagues. Fred and Lorne arrived together, chatting cheerfully. Wesley slinked in, not looking at anyone. Spike stayed by the window, his back to the room. They waited for Gunn for a few moments, but when he did not appear, they started without him. Angel perched on his desk then clapped his hands together, smiling happily.

'So, research. Wes?'

'Has he been here all night? Up there? With you?'

Angel frowned. 'That's none of your business.'

'I think it is. You're keeping him from me! Poisoning his mind against me.'

Spike suddenly drawled lazily from his intense study of the view, 'I am here, by the way.'

It didn't help. Wesley rose, his jaw clenched on clearly painful emotions. 'Spike, please, just listen….'

'Sit down.' Angel didn't raise his voice or move, but Wesley obeyed. Angel added, looking at Fred, 'Cure?'

Fred smiled, agitated by something in the room even she could sense. She glanced at Lorne. 'We don't have a cure, but we know more about it. Lorne got me thinking… why wasn't he affected? And you less than them? And me not at all?'

Angel frowned.

Fred glanced again at Lorne, but he folded his hands neatly in his lap and said amused, 'You tell him, Honey. He won't rip you a new one.'

Fred smiled an insincere thank you and said, 'I think it's all to do with degrees of susceptibility.'

Angel looked relieved.

Seeing this look, she mumbled something. Angel heard, but he asked, 'What?'

She repeated, 'Reversed….'

Everyone thought about this for a moment, and then Spike turned and raised an eyebrow at Lorne. He dismissed him with a wave. 'Poppet, don't get excited. I'm not susceptible to you in particular, just not much for the ladies- if you get my meaning. Course… being the only green thing in this city is gonna be sticky to get a date of any… oh, and aren't I just wishing that word hadn't emerged.'

Angel was still frowning. 'So, the less likely you were to have this kind of unnatural obsession, the harder it hit you?'

She nodded. 'I would be the most likely - being a woman an' all - then Lorne, then…. Sorry.'


Spike smiled to himself at Angel's outrage, but he murmured for his ears alone, 'It's a vampire thing, Pet.'

Angel quirked his lips at the intimate tone. 'So… solutions?'

'Somehow, the natural balance of things has been reversed- we need to find out how.'

'Any joy contacting Xander? Wesley?'

'You won't even let me talk to him.'


'Spike! Oh, God, I can't stay here like this! In those jeans… his knee just peeking….'

Wesley suddenly ran out, and Spike murmured to Angel, 'Security maybe- case he hurts himself?'

Reluctantly, Angel made the call.

Fred and Lorne rose, promising to keep on with the research.

Angel studied his nails for a moment and then turned to Spike, grinning.

Spike looked immediately nervous. 'What?'

Angel grabbed his arm and dragged him toward the elevator. 'I've got a good idea.'

Spike was protesting, but not as hard as he felt he should, when Angel punched the down button. Angel smirked, as though he knew exactly what Spike had been thinking and said mysteriously, 'Something just as good.'

He pushed Spike into one of the cars, and they drove out into the bright sunshine.

'I will never get used to this.'

Angel tipped his head on one side. 'I don't make enough use of it. We could have a house made of glass. Everyway we turned- bathed in light.'

'Yeah. Angel….'


'Take your hand off my thigh maybe?'

Angel pouted but removed it.

'What are we going to do if Fred can't find a cure?'

Angel shrugged. 'It won't make any difference to the way I feel if she does.'

Spike rolled his eyes. 'Yeah. Okay, let's humour the vampire. What about Wesley and the other three billion men in the world?'

Angel didn't reply; he kept glancing at Spike and then said softly, 'You taste good, by the way.'

Spike shaded his eyes. 'It was a vampire-in-crisis moment, Angel. Let's never mention it again.'

'I want to talk about it.'

'I don't.'

'I love you.'

That silenced Spike completely, and despite pleading or teasing or sulking, he refused to be drawn further.

Eventually, Angel pulled up in an underground garage and climbed out. 'Coming?'

Spike frowned and climbed out too. 'What is this, Angel? I'm not spending another day sitting in a soddin' broom cupboard.'

Angel laughed. 'I don't think that'll be necessary in this part of town. Come on.'

They waited for an elevator. Spike flinched when a couple of young men came up and stood alongside them. They gave him a frank once-over and then did the same to Angel, but other than that, they stepped calmly into the elevator and carried on with their conversation. Spike frowned at Angel, and Angel raised an eyebrow, leaning close. 'Most likely?'

Spike got it and spent the rest of the ride eyeing the couple suspiciously.

When they emerged, Spike discovered he was in a large mall. Before he had time to take this in, Angel grabbed his arm and dragged him into a shop, saying in a very self-satisfied voice, 'Anything you want.'

Spike looked around the huge bookstore and swallowed. 'You've bought me shopping for books?'



'Because you like reading, and because I love you.'

Spike's face creased up a little, and to cover, he went to the nearest shelf and busied himself reading.

Angel smiled and came up behind him. 'This may be West Hollywood, but I'm staying close just in case.'

Spike nodded without lifting his face.

'This is what it could be like, Spike.'

Spike put his hand to his forehead for a moment, and then said raggedly, 'I know, Angel. I know.'

Whether it was Angel's strategy of bringing them to a part of town where the men were immune to Spike's magical charms, or whether it was his dark, menacing presence alongside him all day, other than endless glances, they had a quiet time shopping.

After the bookstore, Angel wanted to buy him clothes, and as Spike was feeling increasingly small inside Angel's shirt, he agreed.

They wandered the racks, rejecting things, choosing others, and when Spike had an armful, he stopped, looking thoughtful.

Angel rearranged something on the top of the pile. 'What?'

'We haven't stopped talking for the three hours since we arrived in here.'

Angel smiled shyly. 'Yeah. Maybe I'm past my taciturn and broody phase… now that I'm in love….'



'No! Angel! Don't you see what all this is doing?'

Angel put a hand on his arm, but Spike wrenched away, dropping the clothes. 'No. I can't believe I've been this stupid.'


'I've let you in. I swore I'd never do that.'


'No. I'm not mad. I'm totally sane, and this is insanity. I can't do this. I'm sorry, Angel.'

He turned and ran out of the store, blindly seeking the exit in the vast, confusing place.

He found a stairway and wrenched the door open, flinging himself against the rail for a moment. Angel skidded in after him.

Spike spun around and backed up as far as he could go.

Angel came close and put a hand on his shirt. 'I'm sorry. I just wanted to spend the day with you.'

'Spend the day with me when this is all over, Angel. That would be nice.'

'Yeah. Sure. Why do you fight this? I won't change how I feel about you now.'

Spike began to laugh, and he couldn't stop. Tears began to form, and he wiped them away. 'Do you actually remember Buffy?'

Angel tipped his head on one side, curious where this was going, but didn't reply.

'Do you remember how you felt when you heard I was shagging her?'

Angel's eyes darkened slightly, and he hung his head as if to cover this.

'Do you want to know her favourite kink with me? Shall I tell you where she liked me to….'


'Thank God! Think, Angel! Remember!'

'I can't stand to think of you… touching her….'

'Yes! Exactly! Now, picture trying to kill me!'

Angel snapped his head up. 'You should touch me like that. Why won't you touch me?' He clenched his jaw but then blinked rapidly.

Spike rubbed his eyes but held out an arm, and Angel came to him, leaning in, whispering, 'I'm so confused.'

Spike nodded. 'I know, Luv. I know. We'll get through this.'

'Take this thing away. It hurts too much to love you like this.'

'It'll be over soon, Pet, an' we'll be back to snark and fighting.' Suddenly, he pushed Angel off, but began to make a show of straightening the vampire's shirt. 'So, what's happened to my nice day out then? Seems to me something is missing….'

Angel frowned, confused by the rapid change of emotion.

Spike grinned, gave Angel a little tug on his arm and pushed back through the door into the mall. 'Come on.'

Spike led them unerringly to a small café. Angel looked bemused as Spike slid in behind a table and picked up a menu. He glanced around then did the same, unsure what he was supposed to do. Spike made it simple for him by pointing to a garish picture of ice cream heaped in a large bowl, and then leaning back and lighting a cigarette.

Still feeling slow, Angel got up and went to place the order.

When it arrived, Spike frowned. 'Where's yours? Don't tell me you're still doing that vampire-not-eating shit?' He saw that Angel wasn't listening, that he was staring at a table off to one side. Spike turned and looked, seeing a man hunched over a coffee, reading a newspaper. He turned back to Angel. 'What?'

'He was looking at you.'

Spike was about to point out that after yesterday that was pretty tame, when he saw that Angel's comment went deeper- that it had little to do with spells or false emotions. The words had been raw, brought forth from a place of pure darkness, and with a stab of something intensely exciting, Spike realised that he now had power over Angel: power to make him jealous.

No one had ever been jealous of him before. No one had ever wanted him exclusively enough before to experience that belly-wrenching emotion. He saw it now though in Angel's eyes and in his rigid stance.

Gently, he laid his hand on Angel's arm. 'Hey….'

Angle flicked his eyes back. Spike raised an eyebrow and held out his spoon. Before Angel could refuse, he eased the cool substance between his lips.

Spike laughed with genuine pleasure, filled it again and fed Angel once more, watching with greedy fascination as he licked his lips to the unfamiliar sweetness.

Spoonful by slow spoonful, he fed Angel all his ice cream. He took none for himself, but every so often, before filling it again, he would put the spoon in his mouth and swirl it around, licking it clean. The first time he'd done this, Angel looked faintly repulsed, hesitant to take it in his mouth again, but then he'd flicked his tongue out, licking at the bowl, and Spike could see that Angel was thinking of something else that he had licked and enjoyed earlier.

At the knowing look in Angel's eyes, a sharp prick of desire made Spike open his thighs slightly and adjust the torn jeans. The dark eyes changed once more, and Spike knew that Angel was enjoying the reaction he was causing.

For one startling moment, Spike had an image of how they would look to an outsider- to the man at the other table, for example: lovers. They would look like beautiful, intimate lovers.

He let the spoon drop into the glass with a clatter that startled them both. He laughed, a brittle sound in the artificial air. 'Bloody hell.'

Angel wiped his palms on his thighs. 'Let's go home.'

Go to Chapter 3


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