October 21st, 2003



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Also, people should read Brand New Start, because it's Wes & Spike & Lilah and it's fun. I love the idea of them going off to join forces together; usually there's something kind of sad about spin-offs where a bunch of characters are cut off from other characters and you watch and you think, "But where are X and Y and Z? It's not the same without them." Usually in my own fantasies, I puppy-pile characters together, bring people back who have left, crossover the Angelverse & Buffyverse crews, until it's one big happy dysfunctional family, like at the Thanksgiving dinner from hell. But this story made me think for the first time about how fun it could be to shake things up and recombine characters not just in terms of pairing but in terms of...well, anything. New business ventures, etc. It's exactly what happened when Angel (the series) was launched. It didn't grab me when everyone was talking about a series based on Faith, but apparently when the concept uses some of my favorite characters, I get all oooh, ahhh. I'm so predictable when you push my buttons.


I just realized why I was so turned on by "Equilibrium." Apparently I have this thing for evil bastards who rebel against their condition. I mean, no surprise. But the parallel between, say, Spike and John Preston is kind of interesting. Spike is supposed to be a demon, incapable of feeling remorse, with no vestiges of humanity. John Preston is supposed to be the perfect Grammaton Cleric: completely emotionless, controlled by Prozium, ruthless and unsentimental. Yet both of them change and begin to walk a path toward redemption at a time when their free will or volition should be constrained, Spike's by his demon state, John's by drugs. Spike chooses to go and get a soul, an ambiguous and conflicted choice with unclear motives, but still a choice; John destroys his scheduled interval--his drug dose--by an "accident" with subconscious undertones, then allows an opportunity for refill to go by. His actions are more or less passive at first, and yet these are the tiny critical decisions that crack the wall and allow the floodgates of emotion in.

Dude. Spike is a sense offender! He totally is. Watching "Equilibrium" gives me insights into how I think of Spike. The Librian government is patriarchal fascism stripped of all human joy and love--no art, no music, no fun whatsoever. Exactly what Spike would loathe. Imagine him in the world of Libria; this is a world where the Judge would nod approvingly at every citizen he touched. And *still* Spike would be judged too emotional, too human. Thus, a sense offender. He'd make a poor citizen. He's not "identical" to other people/vampires in the prescribed way. You've got to wonder whether there's something in him that rebels against the facist demon order. What is it that made him return to Sunnydale, fall for a slayer, help her fight his own kind when he didn't have to?

Interesting too that his change comes about aided by the trigger of the government chip; not a drug, but an artificial and imposed control nonetheless. That's actually the exact opposite of John's dilemma, since John only begins to be free when he removes what's controlling him.

I don't know where I'm going with these thoughts. Nowhere really. But there's this huge and mostly unexplored facet of BtVS mythology when it comes to the Initiative and the whole idea of drugs and technology as methods to control demons. For instance, I've flirted with the idea of experiments in drug therapy for vampires that could mimic a restoration of soul--a cocktail of antispychotics, mood enhancers, and chemicals that would lobotomize and/or reknit severed neural connections. (I have this whole wacky idea that souls might not be removed by vampirism, so much as conscience is suppressed or cut off from the host identity; or, even if souls were really gone, what if we could could create an ersatz soul, the way we might transplant an artificial heart into someone?) I could go for the idea of drug addiction as a means of achieving a semblance of sanity; that dependency would determine a vampire's existence and could be cruelly interrupted at any time, as in that famous Sherlock Holmes Peter Wimsey story (thanks, ellen_fremedon!) I totally can't remember the name of*, where the bastard husband deprives his wife of the drugs she needs to treat her thyroid condition and she therefore appears insane.

I can see watchers trying this out on vampires--or, if not the official council, then some rogue watcher; or even Wes, offering unsouled Spike the benefit of his experiments (in some variations giving him the choice, in others forcing it on him). To me, that's almost sexier than Spike-with-soul (well, duh) because it would leave Spike in an inferior condition where he's this simulacrum of humanity, looked down on everyone, humans and vampires alike. He'd be caught betwixt and between, aware of his own imperfect condition and twisted up with angst over it--like a robot longing to be human. (Silver Metal Lover!)

Men in long black coats are pretty.

So far for dinner I've had Cheetos and whiskey. My god, I'm a well-adjusted soul. I think it's quite possible I will achieve enlightenment and release in this lifetime!

[* Ooh, this synopsis puts it even better: "In the short story, 'The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey,' an unfortunate English woman living in the Pyrenees is assumed possessed by demons by all her neighbors, who believe a combination of Catholicism and local folklore. How else to explain that during part of the year, she is a beautiful woman...but part of the year she is an ugly, slobbering creature, almost an animal?"]


Angel has known Spike for over a hundred years, but has spent very little actual time with him. Spike takes over his suite at the Hyperion, puts the kitchenette to use, gets cable installed on the TV. There's always a bottle of vodka on the table across from it, cheap paperbacks accumulating like dead birds. He fills the closet with identical black outfits, heaps the floor with them, enslimed or encrusted with his latest kills.

Wes sighs every time Spike comes to a staff meeting and puts his boots on the Pledge-shined table. Cordy raises her brows into her bangs and gives Angel's progeny the stink-eye no matter what he says. Fred frowns at him, Gunn pretends not to see him.

Angel fingers the clothes Spike has hung in the closet, feels their cheapness, and remembers that he left Spike's salary up to Wesley. One evening when Spike comes in there are thirty-five new shirts on the bed, two dozen pairs of trousers.

"You're representing the firm," Angel says, maintaining a flat tone, an air of boredom as he prepares himself a mug of blood. "Clients don't trust their secrets to garage-band rejects."

Later, all that blood rushes to his cock as he slams it into Spike, who shoves up underneath him, rumpled and frustrated, angry with soul. Angel thinks of Darla and Connor and every kill he ever made, hates his own prolonged existence, the weight of prophecy. But when Spike's head falls back on his shoulder, when he slides an inch deeper into Spike's clutching body, he hates himself less for a moment.

Nothing ever lasts, except them.