Title: Fealty and Family
NB: Sixth part in the Five Gold Rings canon
Archived at: http://www.excessant.com/fiction/josie/five_rings/five_rings.htm
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Spike (High Master) and Xander (Esteemed Consort) rule the European Court, but when the pure bred brother arrives with the Immortal, and external threats are thrown in, family becomes the priority.
Spoilers: Canon is Post S7 BtVS and S5 AtS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
Spike did a two week whirlwind tour of the clans of Europe – visiting them in their own place to shore up friendships and reassure the Masters and Mistresses in each location that all was well for the time being. Unlike the more formal Court meetings it was an opportunity for them to air their grievances and display their triumphs privately to the now much revered High Master.
Connor visited Minna for a day then headed to Gottenburg, keen to finish and sign off the project and return to his dear Helle. Minna did not miss that he called his consort three or four times while staying with her.
She, like all the Court members, was thrilled by the news of the baby, but humbled and honoured as Connor asked that she and Anna agree to being “Protectors of the Line”, should anything happen to Connor and Helle. There would be a short ceremony at the next Court gathering. As he offered her a wrist, it was the first time Connor had seen Minna shed a tear.
Xander inspected the various building projects currently underway in Prague, Bonn and of course Gottenburg – as well as visiting a difficult site in Mains Germany. A company had gone bankrupt and left a half dug site in the middle of the city sector. Xander called Jim after taking numerous photos and short video of the site – plus all the specifications. It was a huge undertaking and a second opinion all that was needed. Andy arrived two days later and the two old friends inspected the site together.
The business side was so easy, so familiar, as was the friendship, but Andy thought he detected changes in his old friend. The paler look was easily the result of living in Europe through winter; more slender lines and tauter muscles probably through the extraordinarily strict diet he was on - hardly eating anything at meal times; but some subtle changes in mannerisms signaled that something was amiss. And yet, as they sat in a café on the ‘right side of the river’, Xander casually ordered a beer in perfect German and enjoyed the midday sun with his old friend. And Andy relaxed putting his worries down to changes natural as Xander had been living in Switzerland for close on nine years now.
One thing was for sure – Xander seemed to be able to hold his drink far better than when he was back in the USA! Andy felt the effects of the much stronger beer after only two glasses, while Xander seemed not to even feel it. As they sat and chatted, the reason for the change finally dawned on him, whenever William was mentioned, Xander looked wistful and a little anxious.
Andy leaned back in his chair and as casually as he could, inquired, “Don’t mean to pry, but everything OK between you and Will? ‘S cool if you don’t want to talk about it.”
Xander turned the beer glass slowly in his hand and struggled to control his demon as he thought of his Sire so far away. Staring at the glass at first, he answered quietly, initially wondering if Andy could stand the truth, but looking up, decided there was no need to burst the bubble of innocence/ignorance of the ‘other’ “Yeah… he… I… Oh look buddy… other than hospital… this is the longest Will and I have been truly apart since we left the States. And I know it’s soppy but I miss him... at a gut level… you know? He’s my everything And… I just…”
Andy now had a little family of his own and really did understand. His one year old daughter the absolute apple of his eye and his lovely pregnant again wife Kelly his rock of strength at home. He grinned ruefully at his long time friend and colleague. “Hey Xan… ‘s OK, know what you mean, you should try leaving the child and mother.” Then realized that was perhaps not appropriate but Xander simply looked at him with a grateful smile.
“Got any pictures of your ladies?”
Andy immediately went for his wallet and the rest of the afternoon was spent chatting easily and catching up with ‘gossip’ about Jim’s daughter (who had just ‘married well’) and various members of the business that were still around. When they finally returned to their hotel for the last night of their stay, both were feeling relaxed and their friendship utterly renewed.
The farewell at the airport was rather emotional and involved a lot of back slapping on Andy’s part.
The contract would be signed and the project started in the coming few months but for now all Xander could think of was Spike. He needed his Sire like he used to need oxygen.
As he sat on the airplane waiting to take off, he could feel his demon rising, screaming for release, begging for Sire. He was grateful for the spare seat beside him and business class. He turned to the window, allowed his face to change and bit his own wrist, taking solace from the blood that was as much Spike’s as his.
He had spoken to Spike everyday since they were apart but the connection with Sire, the feeling of Sire was absent, so when he felt Spike waiting for him on the tarmac as he alighted the plane at the tiny airport in Basel, he simply fell into his arms with relief. One of their new staff, a tall Swiss male wiccan called Lemar, collected the bags as the pair headed for the men’s room, closed the door and exchanged blood.
“Missed you Pet.”
Suddenly the capable business man reverted to a love struck Consort and young very needy Childe.
“Oh Sire… I… I *never* want to do that again… not even for a day… please let’s not…”
“We’ll see to that together don’t you think?” Spike then kissed his charge passionately with a blood filled mouth, his Childe tasted them both as the tongue entered and met his.
Too quickly his Sire released him from the embrace
“Now come on, let’s get us home…”
The new child Liam, was so shielded as to be safe even from the Senior Partners… testimony to Willow’s strength. But the glamour around his incredibly strong signature could only last a short time.
There had been three attacks on the wards whilst the ruling couple and Connor had been away. Willow and Stephanie – with the help of Helle – successfully repelling the threat to the precious Liam, but each one was stronger. It was as though whoever was seeking the Childe, was testing the strength of the protection. The family still had a few aces however.
Even the family had no idea of Liam’s capabilities, though all felt it. His magical signature was close to the strength of Anton’s yet he was only a few months old. The implications were unimaginable… But the family were clear on one thing, the protection of Artemis and occasionally the backing of the less reliable Powers. And all knew that the imperviousness to the sun of the ruling couple was still sequestered knowledge, privy only to the ruling family and the privileged few.
Happily the attempted photographs of Xander at his during his time with Andy and at leisure were all attempted at night, the deadly Lilah assuming that would be his time… now he was turned. (She grinned at the thought. Childer were always *so* loyal when put in a tight spot.)
Desperate times and desperate measures, but Baby Liam continued to suckle and began to reach for things and grew.
Willow went home to Giles soon to be followed by Xander and Spike, but Stephanie stayed.
She and Helle had become friends… firm friends as the gentle Stephanie cared for the mother as much as the baby in her role, once again, as Nanny to the ruling family. This time was so different and she had been counseled not to mention the reversion unless directly asked. But her nature hadn’t changed, and her natural ability to nurture small children a gift beyond measure.
Both wiccans also connected on a magical level and even though Willow had to return to England the two ‘girls’ continued to work on their magical studies together, thrilled to hone existing skills and even experiment with new ones as the two had had quite different experiences.
It was toward the end of the second month of Liam’s life, as the household had all returned and things were ‘back to normal’ – well, as normal as the House of Aurelius could be!
The two women noticed. Whenever they were practicing a spell or chanting and one of them was holding tiny Liam at the time, there was a prickle in the air and enormous boost of energy as they completed their spell, combined with a feeling of joy. Stephanie suggested it first. It was definitely coming from Liam.
They experimented with a few simple things, moving things about in the room was one, but even with this simple exercise, Liam at only just three months, became excited as the magic from his mother increased and within seconds his energy had them sitting in a whirlwind of toys, tissues, trash and treasure, all flying around at once and only stopping when Helle took the overly excited little lad to her breast. As he fell asleep everything dropped to the floor
When Connor returned from his trip Helle spoke of binding Liam’s magical energy, at least until he was able to understand, worried that he might inadvertently do harm, but Connor was adamant. Liam would grow up knowing his full potential. Helle worried until Stephanie stepped up. The young woman offered to stay indefinitely and support Helle in the training of her son.
Tiny Liam, as powerful as he was magically, was still, for the while at least, a normal human baby, content, affectionate and struggling to sit up independently, yet needed both mother’s milk and familial blood to survive. It was going to be a long haul and the infant still reacting to situations totally instinctively.
Connor had not been there when their child gave the automatic magical boost – one that could put them all in danger if there was a being close that could feel the power. Helle was hurt by Connor apparently simply dismissing her thoughts regards binding their son’s magic for a time. On the second evening of the ruling family all being together, she excused herself. When Spike joined her, a short time after, and sat on the wall shielding the library balcony from the extraordinary cliff drop, she simply leaned against the High Master and accepted a hug.
“C’mon luv… don’t need ta bear it alone… ‘sup?”
Her voice was high pitched and strained as though a young girl, “He said I was being silly! Protecting our child *isn’t* silly and … oh… William… we’ve never really argued before… not like that!”
“You love the little-un Pet… so does he… and he loves you desperately! Who knows what the right decision is, but like it or not, we’re all here for you and for Connor and for Liam… Family… what can you do?” Spike kissed her on the forehead then pulled back and gave her a warm smile. Helle said nothing, smiled weakly through yet more tears then accepted another hug.
Connor had felt his wife’s anguish through the natural link to his Consort, and heard Liam begin to cry as the whole family began to detect her distress… He was standing at the door to observe the High Master wiping away Helle’s tears and preternatural hearing allowed him knowledge of the dialogue.
At one level he felt hurt that she was still angry at him but at another he understood and was extremely grateful to his older brother (and that was truly how he now thought of Spike) for comforting and counseling. They were in such desperate times… but he wanted his son to grow up knowing his heritage and without a denial of his potential. He understood Helle’s misgivings but was certain the coven could help mask the signature somehow.
Connor’s reasoning was that those who sought to harm them, already knew their location and all they needed to do was to make it appear that the energy came from another. He was sure the coven could help.
Spike felt the full blood and knew he was listening, but let Helle have her time. He opened his wrist to her and allowed her to drink from family and calm. As he did he looked straight at Connor and the man took the hint. As Helle released the wrist and thanked the High Master formally, he relinquished his place to the full blood and smiled as he walked back into their family home. Little Liam was quiet again and the two expressing their love, concern, and Connor his apologies.
Spike smiled as his own Consort arrived at the door to greet his Sire. These days an occasional touch of assurance from his Sire was all that was needed when they were together but Spike’s open wound welcomed his Childe’s mouth, the slash knitting itself closed with Xander’s gentle laving. They embraced an kissed just inside the door as Stephanie brought the youngest Aurelian down in the aftermath of his utter distress.
Spike took the little lad from her, cradling him as he would have his own children were he ever given the chance and his lover, his consort and childe, threw his arm around his Sire. The boy was awake and squirmed a little, until Spike reopened the wrist wound with a single fang and allowed the lad to drink. Xander did likewise, and soon blissful blue eyes met the one brown and two azure blue of his uncles. Liam smiled, felt his parents’ happiness and promptly fell asleep.
The ruling couple stood for quite some time, Spike with the babe in arms, his beloved Xander with arms around the trim waist.
Tomorrow might bring all sorts of strife, but just now, life… unlife was *right*.