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Balancing Act - A Summary....
Under the influence of a spell, Angel is forced to fall in love with Spike. Although he has the strength to see that it is a spell, it plays on emotions buried deep within, until he can no longer tell where the spell begins and reality ends. To make matters worse, his kind, loving treatment of Spike brings out repressed longings in his childe, too, and he submits to Angel's false love, trying to find some truth in that deception. They begin to spend dangerous quality time together, which brings out needs that are more potent than the desire for sex. The spell is eventually broken, but Angel finds himself in an even worse dilemma. Secretly having believed all his feelings were caused by the spell, he's dismayed to find that he still wants Spike.
Believing that all Angel's love for him was only the result of the spell, Spike decides to cut his ties with L.A., but packing up to leave, he is persuaded by Wesley (who was caught up in the dangerous influence of the spell, too) to stay. He breaks his ties with the apartment Lindsay gave him and finds himself a new home, in the house of the enigmatic Innocence.
Angel can't bear to see Spike but he can't stay away. Like a moth to a flame, he is drawn to the new apartment, jealous of Wesley's friendship with his childe. At a party, thrown by Spike to christen his new apartment, they once more find themselves spending dangerous quality time together. Eventually, passions spill over, and they have a one-night stand that leaves them sexually frustrated and emotionally strung out.
Unable to keep away, Angel returns the next day, and although he refuses to take Spike properly, they begin a strange, passionate affair.
Every time he leaves the apartment, though, Angel finds it harder to return to Wolfram and Hart. What he wants from Spike, however, seems intimately tied up with the things he's not prepared to do with his body. Confused, he misinterprets the meaning of a series of dreams, seeing himself as a destructive force that will ultimately destroy Spike as he has destroyed so much else in his life.
Pushing Spike away to keep him safe, Angel ends the relationship, deliberately hurting Spike in the process to ensure he stays away.
In a self-destructive spiral of hurt, having believed Angel's lies, Spike turns to Wesley for comfort, but in a long, four-day drinking binge, they discover that comfort can be found from friendship alone, and surfing on the edge of Wesley's lingering spell-induced passion, they find a solid and mutually satisfying friendship.
Spike's descent continues, however, until one night, broken and bleeding, he's accused of Innocence's murder. Innocence's death serves to bring the estranged vampires together again, when visited by her presence, Angel finally understands the meaning of his strange dreams. He decides it's time to clear the air with everyone: telling his team about the mind-wipe he inflicted on them and intending to tell Spike his true feelings.
At the meeting, however, Spike is told the astounding news that Innocence has left him the house and all her money: a considerable fortune that rivals the assets of Wolfram and Hart.
Instead of seeing a vulnerable childe that he wants dependent on him, Angel suddenly sees that Spike is neither vulnerable nor dependent: he's rich, powerful and independent. He cannot bring himself to declare his feelings.
Enraged, sick of waiting for Angel to realise that he's not the only one in the relationship, Spike exacts his revenge: throwing a party for all his new acolytes and treating Angel with the dismissive, casual-fuck way that he's been treated.
In a furious storm, they come together, battling all these issues. Angel is finally able to admit that he wants Spike fully, and takes him as the storm cocoons them in their private world. Waking, he stumbles out into the rain, repeating a scene played out so many times in his previous life, but realises that, this time, he hasn't lost his soul, and that Spike is safe.
In the aftermath of that first lovemaking in Spike's bed, Angel agrees to move into the apartment with him.
Now The Sequel... (download full sequal in rich text version here)
The days began to take on a dream-like quality: things moving slower, everything more intense, and a sense that they couldn't quite decide, on waking, where reality lay.
Every evening, Spike would begin to watch the clock. He didn't mean to; he tried not to, but he couldn't help it. His body was full of anticipation and responded of its own accord to the thought that he would be home soon. The ache in his balls and the rise and twitch of his cock made pretending not to watch the clock slightly ridiculous, so he gave in, watching and pacing.
He always had a drink ready for them both as soon as he sensed the overwhelming presence coming down the path. He tried not to clink the ice, tried not to give any indication of the tension he felt.
When Angel opened the door, there was always a pause in time (it never varied, was never forgotten), a brief, puzzled look at each other: Angel and Spike, sire and childe. Then Angel went outside. He always did this: arrive; puzzled look; then out into the cooler, darker green of their courtyard, as if he needed the additional air of that verdant enclosure to breathe and find a last escape before the reality hit him-they were no longer what they had been.
Then Spike would take him the drink, carrying his own in his other hand. He sometimes wondered why he bothered; they never got to drink them. As soon as his hand touched the back of Angel's, alerting him to his presence, need overtook them both.
Angel would turn and seize him, forcing him back against the wall. His cock betrayed him, twitching, and Angel would cup it through his pants, groaning at this evidence that he was needed and missed, and that it was right that he was here.
They would kiss, hardly tasting each other's mouths, something far darker and deeper being explored in that hot seeking. They sometimes fucked right there against the wall; sometimes, Angel would push him as far as the couch; sometimes, they would fall to the floor between the two places, and Spike would surrender his body to Angel's need, allowing the hard, deep penetration that was beyond his control to stop anyway.
They would fuck loudly, incoherently, each lost to his own private need, like a four-legged beast rutting on the faded rug. Individual orgasms were reached, and then Angel would pull out, panting, sweating, and confused by this humanity. He would look down at his expensive city suit; fingering wrinkles; rubbing stains resembling toothpaste on the immaculate, light wool; cursing; standing and stripping and dropping each item carelessly to the floor as he went to shower away the office. He seemed to think they owned a slave, for he never questioned who picked the clothes up after him, who took them to the cleaners or returned them to the closet, where they hung ready for him to put on - with his other masks - in the morning. These seemed to be details he had freed himself from ever having to think about again-like other things that he seemed now to overlook.
When he came out of the shower, he was invariably wrapped in a large towel, bought in for his sole use: Spike preferring to walk around naked.
He would then accept the drink, possibly curse the melted ice and demand another. Then, seemingly exhausted, he would lie on the bed and within minutes - whether from the whisky or the orgasm or work - fall asleep: heavy, languorous, breathing deeply.
These were the moments Spike waited for.
He would tidy away the evidence of Angel's other life from the floor and then climb on the bed, waiting for it to leave the troubled mind, too. Inevitably, it did. After half an hour or so - the time varied according to the amount of pain Spike could sense in his stretched, pounded backside - Angel would wake.
Then he became the other Angel- the one Spike wanted.
Then he became soft and playful.
Then he allowed Spike to play with him, which was even better.
He would lounge and talk about his day as Spike discovered places he'd already found many times before, but which always seemed so new to both of them. Then he would suddenly stretch and attack Spike, mock biting and feeding from him, laughing as they rose once more to the stimulation. They would share blood from cursed bags, feeding each other slowly in as many erotic ways as they could devise for plastic, pseudo-organs.
Then they would make love for the first time, both well aware that what they had done before was not love, but some kind of residual conflict that they still needed, reasserting with the sexual battle something that scared them with its absence: hatred for each other.
Now they allowed themselves to admit just how much things had changed between them. They kissed slowly, tasting the love in the other's mouth, kissing away the things that hung around them like the ghosts in the old house: fear, resentment, and pain. They all dissolved on the sweet saliva tongued between them.
Their bodies played their own games then, rising and stretching out for the other, passing and sharing different fluid, a slickness now forming on their bellies, causing a low ache in balls that made the kissing even more fervid and necessary.
They always held out longer than they thought they could, wanting to keep the anticipation going. Angel's probing finger usually put paid to that though. As soon as it found, entered and stroked him, Spike would arch and cry out, and as soon as he said Angel's name, with aching need catching in his throat, Angel would scramble around and push into his warmed flesh.
Then time slowed down. Then the dream-like unreality of it all began in earnest, as they bent and pushed and stroked and touched skin for hours, joined, not beast-like now but lovers, entwined.
When it was over - when Angel released his stream into Spike's body, and caught Spike's in his hands, drinking it with as much relish as he drank the blood - waking and dreaming became one, for Angel would collapse slowly onto Spike's friction-hot body and envelop him as they slept - still joined, still twitching slightly - bathed in their own unique juices, which seeped slowly out of them as the night wore on.
Mornings were when time skewed the other way, speeding up until a frantic haste overcame them. Angel was always late. He never wanted to wake and actually leave the bed. Sex was rushed and laughed at; done so quickly that they found it almost painful, but too rushed, so it had to be done again, properly, and then he was so late he didn't have time to shower, but had to, being Angel.
Then he was dressed.
Then time slowed down until it almost refused to move at all: he refused.
They were separated by the small distance between the bed and the door but more by the clothes, and Angel knew he could not return for a kiss or even a word, because if he did, he would never leave again.
Time then played the worst trick of all on them. It stopped entirely, and Angel went through his interminable days, thinking about release.
Spike went up to the old house and sat in his favourite window seat overlooking his courtyard below. He conjured indistinct, pale figures writhing under the canopy of green, and it amused him to picture them there, and Innocence here, watching them. She watched him now disapprovingly, from her vantage point on the chaise-lounge. He knew she did, and it did not bode well for his sanity that he did not find this disturbing.
He knew he was going mad.
For this, and other reasons, he always welcomed certain footfalls on the stairs, but made sure that when he turned to greet Wesley, he was his usual snarky self. No need for the human to know he was going insane.
'Shouldn't you be bloody working?'
Wesley smiled, not fooled for a minute by the welcome, and joined in the pretence of mutual antipathy. 'And that from the world's greatest sponger.'
The game begun, they often bored of it quickly, and this time, Spike only nodded and stretched, checking a new watch that Angel had bought for him. 'Want some tea?'
He only asked because he knew what the reply would be: Wesley always wanted tea. It took away the need to examine their feelings on any other subject for another few minutes.
Wesley trailed after him to the small apartment below, commenting on some bushes that were growing dangerously low over the path, telling of some office gossip involving mutual acquaintances that he thought Spike would enjoy. Once the kettle was on - imported from England, and worrying Angel so much on some fundamental level that he tried never to glance at it - they sat in front of the fire on the couch and felt a dangerous sense of friendship settle over them, afraid of what the other might say, what confidences they might share about the one who held them both in his thrall.
Spike stared at the fire for a while and then said conversationally, 'I'm getting fat.' He patted his belly and pouted.
'I'd noticed. Doesn't suit you.'
Knowing that Wesley was being facetious, Spike sighed. 'Feels like it anyway.'
Sensing that Spike's sudden concern for some non-existent fat was probably his way of leading up to something entirely different, Wesley held his peace.
'I've not been out for weeks. Evil must be running riot.'
'Well, someone keyed my car the other day. If you're in the mood for killing, can I suggest you start there?'
Spike didn't smile but got up to make the promised drink.
Wesley stretched his legs and wondered when Spike would get around to whatever it was that was bothering him. He decided to help matters along a little. 'What time is it?'
Spike handed over a mug and tossed him a biscuit. 'He won't be back for hours. You know that- relax.'
Wesley murmured something, and when Spike demanded it to be repeated, said pointedly, 'I value my balls.'
Spike did smile faintly at that. 'He'll know they've been here. He always knows.'
'My balls specifically or the rest of me as well?'
'I assume he knows they're attached-plonker.'
'Does he mind- me being here?'
'He pretends not to. But he always checks the bed first, ya know? Sniff, like a predator, scenting to see if a rival's been there first.'
Wesley raised an eyebrow then said softly, 'Assuming, of course, that Angel's fears are true - which they're not - we'd hardly be stupid enough to actually use the bed. '
A slight shift in the atmosphere was noticed by both of them.
Spike turned on the couch, pulling up his legs, tucking his bare feet under a cushion. 'No. I think we'd do it here- on the couch.'
Wesley sipped his tea, not at all sure how to reply to that. He had enough of his wits left to realise that it had been more than a casual remark and that it related somehow to the increasingly strange mood he had sensed in Spike for the last few days. 'You've given this some thought then?'
'Once or twice.'
'Oh. I thought we had rather covered that- with the vomiting on each other.'
'Oh.' He watched Spike taking a sip of his tea and said pointedly, 'Nice watch, by the way. I meant to say that yesterday.'
'Yeah. It was a present.'
'Hmm. I should think Angel gives you some nice ones these days.'
Spike smiled at the crass introduction of Angel, but gave the human credit for the attempt to make him feel guilty. He stretched his legs, dislodging the cushion, his feet now resting against Wesley's warm thigh.
'My feet are cold.'
'Wear some socks maybe?'
'Did you know that they straightened out when I died?'
Spike grinned inwardly. There was nothing like a titbit of intellectualism to deflect Wesley. 'Yeah. You get perfected when you get the demon blood. Teeth, bones in general, I guess.'
Wesley tried not to, but he glanced down at the bare feet. 'They are rather… perfect.'
'Straightened right out.'
'Did it hurt?'
'Well… it all hurt, so it was hard to separate out the individual pain.'
'Ah. All pain. I see.' Wesley trod so carefully he wondered he spoke at all, not fooled for a moment that they were now talking about the past. 'You've always intimated that it was all… sublime.'
Spike turned his head to look at the fire. 'It was. It was all pain and all pleasure.'
Wesley watched the shamelessly beautiful profile for a while and then asked what seemed to be the critical question. 'Do you regret it?'
Spike glanced down at the watch on his wrist then took it off. It seemed to be a reply of sorts.
Wesley felt a lump rise in his throat, and he frowned, not used to intense emotions for himself, let alone for another. 'I'm so sorry.'
'I don't understand Angel very well these days - not now I know there is so much between us that I don't remember - but he doesn't seem plagued by these doubts. He seems utterly… consumed.'
Spike turned to look at him with a small, rueful smile. 'No. That's me.' Suddenly, he jumped up. 'Let's go out! Come on! My treat.'
Spike grabbed his arm, playful now, the pretence carefully reconstructed around the more fragile feelings he had displayed earlier. 'I'm hungry.'
'I wish you could appreciate just how unnerving that is coming from a vampire!'
Spike grinned, but the expression did not quite reach his eyes. 'Come on! Let's go!'
Wesley suddenly caught on, getting the haste with which Spike wanted to be out of the apartment. He nodded. As he watched Spike pull on some boots, he said hesitantly, 'The house is very big. Perhaps you'd be happier with some space of your own…?'
Spike looked up from a complicated arrangement of laces. 'It's not space I need. Now, what do you fancy? 'Sides me that is.'
Wesley rose to the occasion, his heart not really in the banter. 'Hell would have to freeze more than your unpleasantly cold skin, Spike, before I could ever fancy you.'
Seemingly pleased that he'd put them back on the light, inconsequential track they'd been on before he'd tested the man with the deeper waters of his misery, Spike clapped an arm around the broad, strong shoulders and sauntered out, laughing as Wesley caught his hair once more in the over-hanging branches.
The house settled unhappily in their absence, waiting anxiously for the one who would return and find it empty. It did not want him there without Spike as a buffer to the great anger that permeated his being.
Spike also seemed to feel anxious as the time for Angel to return crept upon them. He kept glancing at Wesley's watch, talking faster and faster, drinking more and more, until at last, he blurted out, 'I have to go!'
'Have to, or want to?'
'Do you want to go back?'
Spike's eyes were wide with alcohol and the need to confess. He whispered, 'I'm going mad, Wesley.'
Wesley didn't know what to say or do. He rested his hand on Spike's arm, and it seemed the right thing to do. He felt something flutter under his palm like a wild bird he had once found stunned on the ground. A desperate need to flee from something intangible crept upon him, oozed into him from the wild creature under his hand. 'I don't know how to help you unless you tell me what's wrong. Maybe even then I can't….'
'I'm going mad….' Spike seemed unable to articulate his pain any further.
Wesley lowered his head and spoke without the intensity of the blue eyes distracting him. 'You've had too much change recently. It's not surprising you're finding it hard to adjust-dying like that; coming back; the spell; Angel; the inheritance. Your whole life has changed, Spike. Give yourself time to adjust.'
'Who am I?' The whisper was so intense that Wesley shivered.
'I think you are who you ever were. It's everything else that has changed.'
'I need him.'
Wesley felt an immediate Englishman's reticence to discuss anything intimate then forced himself to reply, 'I expect you do, but….'
'No!' The interruption was almost painful. Spike recoiled from the force of his own words and tried to calm down. 'No. What I meant was: I need him as he was.'
'Huh? I mean: sorry? As he was?'
Spike winced, his whole expression apologetic for something that he knew was immensely contradictory. 'He was my constant, Wes. I hated him. Where is that all to go?'
'Why do you need to hate?'
'NO! I don't need to hate. I need to be what I was, too!' Spike snatched his arm away, the force of the movement totally belying the analogy in Wesley's mind of the fragile creature that needed his protection. Spike stood up then leant close to Wesley's face. 'Let's go to your place.'
Wesley began to rise, too. 'We'll need to stop; I've got no coffee or tea….' His arm was seized.
Wesley looked down at the fingers on his shirt. He'd known what Spike had meant. He'd just put off the import of it for a moment, for his own sanity.
'Please. Remove your hand. If for no other reason than that we are being stared at by almost everyone in this room, and whatever part of yourself you are trying to find, I think I'm on fairly safe ground saying that desperate homo isn't it.'
This had the desired effect; the hand removed as if the words scorched the flesh of Spike's palm. He turned and went out into the night. Wesley cursed softly and followed him, walking a little way behind. Spike, he noticed, was leading him toward his own apartment.
'You are not invited in.'
'I will be.'
'Not by me.'
'You catch up.'
They kept their mutual distance for some time more.
'I'll just stop and leave you to walk on then.'
'You'd regret that.'
'Oh, are you threatening me now?'
'Do you feel threatened?'
'I feel totally bemused and sad, Spike.'
'Join the fucking club.'
'Angel will be wondering where you are. It's been what? Two weeks and you've not been apart….'
'Scared he'll work it out?'
'There's nothing to work out.'
'There will be.'
'No, there won't.' It was beginning to get childish, and Wesley blamed this for his sudden need to cry. He stopped. 'That's it. I'm not taking another step.'
Spike stopped, too, but didn't turn around. Suddenly, a very soft voice asked, 'If I said, please, would that make a difference?'
Wesley swallowed and dipped his head. 'Yes. It would. You've actually managed to make me cry now.'
Spike suddenly began to run. Wesley looked up, and all he saw was a dark figure blending with the darkness around him. He felt strangely calm and knew it was only some false state before a storm of darkness overtook him, too.
Finding some reserve of strength that he'd been told he'd once shown, he hailed a cab and gave the driver an address.
Once more, branches tangled in his hair, and he cursed, the sound neatly announcing his presence. He knew when he knocked that Angel knew it was him, and he waited, hearing his heart pounding in his ears.
He pushed open the door and found Angel standing with a drink in one hand, a large towel wrapped around his waist, his hair wet. With a sudden rush of blood to his cheeks, Wesley had a startlingly clear image of Angel in the shower, relieving his frustration at Spike's absence.
Glad the darkness covered the outward evidence of his embarrassment, but fairly sure Angel would smell it anyway, he went out into the courtyard, murmuring, 'Sorry to disturb you at this late hour.'
He knew that Angel was watching him from inside, making no move to follow. He kept his back to the vampire - his friend, his intimate colleague, his undefined more - and stared up at the faint moon behind the thick canopy. He suddenly realised that everything he knew about Angel and Spike's relationship was merely conjecture on his part. He assumed they were fucking- neither of them had, obviously, confirmed this to him. Perhaps they lived here in some vampire, sire and childe relationship. Perhaps that was what was oppressing Spike. He could not imagine that being fucked by Angel would be oppressive at all. He shuddered and was about to speak again - something inconsequential, something about work - when he felt a breath on his neck.
'What brings you here?'
He whirled around, angry now. That wasn't allowed: that transgressing of the vampire's ability for stealth. Angel saw that he'd over-stepped the mark - literally as well as metaphorically - and stepped back-in both ways. 'Drink?'
The harmless offer was accepted, and Angel went back in to mix one. Wesley followed him in and frowned as he crunched something underfoot. Without turning around, Angel said casually, 'I dropped a glass. Just as well you aren't barefoot.' If there was a slight emphasis on the pronoun, Wesley ignored it. He hedged around the apparently dropped glass and did not comment either on the stain that was spread, stinking of whisky, over the wall.
'I saw Spike tonight.'
Wesley was always intrigued by Angel's control and mirrored his, new, reserved persona on it. He fancied he saw the griffon twitch slightly, as if the creature eyed him angrily, unhappy at having his feathers metaphorically ruffled, but he allowed that even this small reaction might merely be a trick of the light that spilled in through the French windows.
Seeing that Angel wasn't going to help him out in any way, he took the offered drink and sat down in front of the fire. Angel had let it go out, and this seemed very significant to Wesley, although he could not exactly say why.
'He seemed very upset by something.'
'Spike is a vampire. He doesn't get upset.'
Angel moved out of sight slightly, into the shadows of the far end of the room, clearly dressing. Wesley fixed his eyes on the ashes and repeated, 'He seemed very upset. I don't know how else to describe it.'
'Is that all you came for?' Angel appeared out of the shadows, a menacing figure of leather and soft, even words.
Wesley shook himself. 'You're upset, too. I'm sorry. I should have realised you would be.'
Angel sat in one of the armchairs and tented his hands under his chin. 'You are mistaken.'
'And you forget that I know you too well now.'
'What did he say?'
Wesley noticed that this was neither a denial nor an acceptance of his claim. He hesitated, now in a dilemma. He could not tell Angel the truth - he wasn't too sure of what the truth was anyway. He decided to sail close to what he perceived that truth to be. 'I think he's finding it oppressive living here… in this house… too many memories, perhaps.' He saw instantly that this was a huge mistake. They both knew that the one thing Spike did love, in his crazy, mixed-up world, was this house. Wesley knew that Angel would not take long to make the obvious correction: something else was oppressing Spike.
Angel rose and refreshed their drinks, and Wesley had never felt more like trying to kill him- not to actually see Angel dead, but because he could not kill him, and the ensuing fight would release some emotion, any emotion - all emotions - that Angel kept so locked down. In a strange, uneasy, flittering thought, Wesley wondered if Angel released his emotions with Spike, and if so, what would happen if that outlet for such powerful intensity ever got withdrawn….
'It's getting late, Wesley. We have an early start. Meeting with the Krefnos of the Tribes?'
Wesley pushed his glasses higher on his nose and knew the moment had passed. Angel would not revert to anything personal now, and he was wasting his time.
He was about to rise and leave when the door opened and Spike sauntered in. He did not seem to be surprised to see the human, completely ignored Angel, and tossed Wesley something, which glittered briefly in the faint moonlight before falling onto the cushions of the couch.
Wesley held up a bunch of keys and frowned. He could not see Angel, but he sensed a stab of bitter jealousy from him at even this small exchange. He looked questioningly at Spike. Spike grinned. 'Keys. Not gonna scratch any other cars now.'
Wesley suddenly dropped them as if they burnt him. 'I was only joking! Did you…?'
Spike shrugged then circled his shoulders as if reliving a pleasant memory. 'Feel better now.'
Wesley rose and left the keys were they were. 'I'll see you tomorrow, Angel.'
Wesley gave Spike a bitter look. Spike returned this happily and held the door for him.
The mood plummeted like temperature when the human left.
to Chapter 2
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