NB: Sixth part in the Five Gold Rings canon
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.
Two days later found the family at home in Switzerland, Buffy took an instant like to Helle and smiled at Stephanie as they met again. The older Slayer would never forget the kindness the woman had shown to Xander and Spike during their regression.
Liam was left in the care of Connor and the household for an entire weekend whilst mother, friend, and nanny, all availed themselves to a private car and a whole two days of a ‘girls weekend’ of shopping and rest at a five star hotel in Basel.
Connor was so used to having Nanny Steph and Helle around that he worried dreadfully, so Liam was never better attended. He was carried everywhere by his father, played with, over fed – both human food and father’s blood - and no doubt changed more often than he ever had been in his entire young life. But the love flowing between father and son was something that even Helle, a city away, felt at the edge of her mind.
The little lad was a happy distraction, particularly for the Ruling Couple. The various worldwide initiatives all needed attention and Spike and Xander’s ‘to do’ list seemed to get longer and longer. But little Liam was reveling in the full time attention of his father and his energy joined with his father’s, pushing such joy through the link that the two Masters seemed to need to show their affection for each other constantly. They sat side by side at the enormous desk in the library-come-office, each with a laptop and phone operating at the same time but still managing to touch knees, caress occasionally or exchange kisses – chaste, passionate or bloody depending on the opportunity.
Anton too benefited. He felt the joy flowing from his relatives and twice fell to his knees with a prayer of thanks to his dear Artemis and the Powers for the gift he had been afforded.
He had spent so long without direct connections and now… he had generations and an extended family that openly adored him. The Court all referred to him with reverence as the High Master’s Sire rather than some obscure ‘Immortal’. He had a human lover who was also the oldest surviving Slayer (with Faith only a few months behind!), and three loving Childer plus one consort… and now a GrandChilde. It now seemed worth the loss of loved ones, the millennia of loneliness, his search for ‘truth’, struggles for power, and numerous meaningless ‘relations’.
Xander was happy to give Connor the time with his child despite their Mains project – the full blood had been tireless with the work of the construction company and the Court since his arrival. Xander whispered to his Sire that they really should encourage the Helle and Connor to take some time for themselves too. And Spike sent a private message to Anton to that effect.
The Sire held much more sway with the High Master’s sibling and might listen to the counsel of Anton regards a holiday following the presentation of Liam at Court at the end of the coming week.
When Anton discussed it with Connor however the reaction was a flat, “No… Not without our son.”
Anton patted his Childe on the arm and simply said, “Then Stephanie travels with you, as does Gregor. One for nurture, the other for protection. You must take a break Connor. Please! We need you well and rested. Take your family and have a break. My… relatives have a place on the Greek island of Kimolos and would be happy to host you. It is secluded and warded so you should find safety and enjoyment. After the Court meets… Please, if only for my peace of mind.”
Even after Connor said, “Spike put you up to this didn’t he!?” and Anton may or may not have nodded, Connor took the proffered wrist. After a few sips of family blood, he raised bloodied lips and gave a grateful smile accompanied by, “That would be nice… thank you.”
The women returned the following day having enjoyed their time immensely.
The dinner that night was a jovial affair with the women showing off their various purchases and extolling the virtues of a ‘girls weekend’. Anton smiled indulgently as Buffy positively bounced, but also noted her distress as she saw Xander quietly (and as far as Sire and Childe knew, unobserved) take sustenance from his Sire.
“Go talk to him sweetheart. I know you worry.”
“Not so much worry… but will I have to…” Anton silenced her with a kiss.
“After all these years and you still ask that!??” He kissed her again then smiled indulgently. “Talk to him … privately… I’ll tell him his GrandSire insists.”
Buffy’s breath hitched as she realized for the first time, completely, the truth of the statement. Her old friend was a vampire. She had felt the ‘prickle’ as they met this time, but there were so many vampires in the household it was difficult to discern one signature from another. Xander was still his sweet self, and the powerful Consort of the European Court, and able to walk in the sun like Anton… Connor… and now Spike. She had all but forgotten his real status, but the game face and the needy drinking of a fledgling from his Sire…
She watched as her stunning partner move to the ruling couple, speak quietly to Spike, then touch his GrandChilde on the arm and whisper into his ear. She only realized later that he had taken a quick nip of Xander’s neck, and blood had been exchanged as he laved the tiny wound closed with his own bleeding tongue. It was reassurance for the vampire youngster.
Xander stood immediately and moved to take Buffy’s hand leading her out onto the balcony on the balmy early autumn. They stood for a time saying little, but Xander still holding the hand of the woman he had lusted after for a time, then followed as part of the Scoobies on and off for years. He instinctively rubbed his thumb back and forth over the hand he held in an effort to calm himself as much as the Slayer.
His young demon desperately wanted to sprint back to Sire… or anywhere, and he now understood why little Liam had cried hysterically when Buffy had tried to hold him. Some instincts don’t change.
Sire felt his panic as did Anton and Connor – all sent love and reassurance so he stayed and waited for Buffy to begin the conversation.
Xander heard the heartbeat rise and Buffy finally looked up to her friend. He never expected tears, not for him, and certainly not from Buffy.
“I… Oh Xan,” She pulled the cool hand to her own chest. “What they did… But I… oh Xan… you feel so different! My Slayer instincts want to pull out a stake for goodness sake!
“I already had the tingle with the whole Consort thing but now you’re… *cold* and *dead*, so what am I supposed to …” She trailed off but in usual Buffy style, her lament didn’t touch Xander as much as Willow’s as it was largely her own dilemmas that seemed to bother her. Still, he understood her calling and appreciated the angst.
“Leave it Buff. If you don’t want anything more to do with me then I get that… really I do. But we are family now if only through GrandSire,” Xander didn’t miss the hitch in breath as the title was used. “And nothing has changed, bar the fact that breathing… no longer an issue; the body’s in better shape than ever; and Christian symbols and churches… not so good. But then – my history was a once off with them and I ran away from the ceremony anyways!” The try for wry humor failed as Buffy fully processed the implications and simply looked horrified.
“Oh c’mon Buff – joke, yeah? OK Xanman here not always on target but…”
He waited patiently, begging through the link for some support and receiving a boost of love and reassurance before Buffy spoke again.
In the end she dropped his hand and said in a flat voice, “Xander, you do know you’re dead don’t you? Doesn’t that bother you?... I mean Xan, I know you and Spike…”
“Hey! I figured you were cool with Spike and I years ago Buff?! What’s changed exactly?”
“Xander you are a *vampire*. I’ve killed tens of thousands over the years – and now you’re one of *them*. I saw you at Spike’s wrist Xan! I saw the change, the bite! And with the Master feel… Oh God Xan! How am I supposed to…?”
Xander pulled away and Spike felt the flow of strength, it was as though Xander had stepped up another notch. Buffy was so caught up in her own upset that she really didn’t recognize the level of hurt. Xander knew his status; knew he had staked his friend Jesse years ago; knew how proud he felt to be Spike’s Childe and an Aurelian Master in every sense of the word; but was also still a vulnerable fledge and the sensitive soul who had acted honorably and selflessly for so much of his life… and unlife.
Xander tore opened his shirt, exposing his chest to Buffy, “Yeah Buff I’m one of *them*… You know it… You feel it! And I drink blood – I have to, just to survive, and if the demon in me bothers you so much, then just do it Buffy… Kill the Consort and your partner’s GrandChilde. Come on kill me… I’m *just* a vampire now… that’s me, you can feel it… a vampire and proud of it!” As Xander pulled open his shirt, he had unconsciously fallen into game face and deliberately bit hard into both his own wrists before standing face Buffy, blood dripping onto the floor from open arms like some macabre imitation of the crucifix.
Spike and Anton were in the room immediately, but Buffy was already backing off horrified as Spike grabbed Xander with lightening speed, open his own chest and pushed Xander on to feed, laving the torn wrists to close them as he did so before literally growling at Buffy.
Anton recognized the warning for what it was, and left his partner in preference to biting down hard on his Childe’s neck. Spike whispered “I’m sorry Sire, but I just… I apologize. I…” The last words were lost as his Mate rallied.
Anton accepted the apology, seeing Xander’s genuine distress, “No matter William – attend your Childe. His needs must come above ours, and I will counsel my loved one.”
Anton squeezed the arm of his Childe then left him cradling Xander whilst he turned to his own partner and took her into a loving, comforting embrace.
They spoke late into the evening. Anton knew it would always be hard, his dark magic and vampiric feel was masked by his unusual status, but the signature of a pure vampire and that of the slayer would always be in opposition, yet he was sure that it was not impossible to reconcile.
That night, for the first time in many months, Buffy took a draft of her lover’s blood and she understood. Her partner was now so connected to the other Aurelians that she felt them too.
The following day she sat next to a very nervous Xander after dinner, and leaned over to squeeze his hand, then simply said, “I… I’m sorry I upset you last night… love you Xan… as a friend… No slayer-vampire thing… I just… You are a friend OK?! And an outlaw too since Anton and I still are not officially married!!” She gave a attempt at a cheeky smile with the last statement and Xander relaxed a little. The prickle was still there but felt like pins and needles not daggers as her guard fell. He relaxed and his Sire and GrandSire exchanged a relieved glance as they felt the shift. One more family crisis averted.
The Court gathered for their quarterly meeting the following week.
This time their numbers had swelled as a members from international courts joined them – to the point that two neighboring chalets and a small local hotel were all taken over. Minna’s partner Anna was in her element as she organized blood supplies and various other special needs for the guests. It was becoming more and more like a conference meeting of top CEOs, something not lost on the Masters from each region.
They were met at the airport then transported either by helicopter or bus (depending on sunrise imperative), greeted with a package of information that included meeting agendas, times and all their accommodation details – plus the special dinner arrangements at the Aurelian Court.
The Ruling Couple, were now without a doubt, both Master Aurelians, a mated couple not merely Sire and Childe. Everyone in the room felt it – there were to be more surprises. Buffy a slayer and the Immortal’s partner walked down the steps with Sire Anton for the first time, but it was the final three Aurelians that caused the stir as they stepped into the room.
All magical beings present ‘felt’ the tiny figure held in the arms of a stunningly beautiful Helle as she descended the stairs on the arm of her leather clad partner, the full blood Connor. The woman, dressed in a long, fully beaded black, figure hugging dress gave off waves of strength. It was to be expected, she was Consort of the Full Blood Connor Aurelius and mother of Liam. The little lad in her arms was wearing a blue and white jump suit with a picture of a rabbit on the front and holding tight to a soft toy (a fuzzy rhinoceros, his favorite). He looked like any other small child approaching his sixth month, but the magical jolt felt by all as he entered the room caused even the most cynical of attendees to pause in wonder.
After giving guests a little time to regroup, Anton stood on the last step of the staircase with the three, put a reassuring hand on Connor’s shoulder, and tapped his ring on the rim of his wine glass. The room was instantly silent, “May I present to members of the Aurelian Court and honored guests, Liam James Aurelius. Son of our full blood brother Connor and claimed Consort, the wiccan Helle. We rejoice in the addition to our Court in this time of strife for our global clans and I ask that you raise your glasses and celebrate with us. To Liam.”
All in the room raised their glasses – regardless of contents and replied, “To Liam.”
Ceremony over the adults mingled, Helle happy to hand Liam over to Nanny Steph after a short time, as the little boy began to squirm and his rhino’s fur caught on her rhinestones several times! Liam was tired and Stephanie quietly made her way upstairs. One observer in the audience did not miss the act, or the fact the child was very human, and noted both for his new employer.
The rest of the event was wonderfully orchestrated to be both casual and yet allowing all present to have ‘their time’ with the relevant members of the Aurelian group.
The High Master Spike smiled gratefully to Minna and publicly offered both she and Anna his wrist toward the end of the night as acknowledgment and confirmed to all present that the following evening Minna and Anna were to be acknowledged as Liam’s chosen protectors. The applause supporting the High Master’s gesture and words caused both popular Mistress Vampires to hold hands and blush with the blood gift of their ruler.