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.
Spike was right, the next three days were perfect… and despite the upset the family were in a relaxed mood as they boarded the helicopter and headed for the airport in on the main island of Mykonos where a private plane waited to take them home.
Half way, however, they were diverted to a small airport in Tuscany. Anton’s sources were concerned for their safety. They had somehow established that Master Fritz was the double agent and had him ‘in hand’. And that the Aurelian home was likely to be targeted in the next day or so.
Spike wondered, not for the first time, though this time aloud… just how far his Sire Anton’s influence and contacts truly reached. As he articulated it out loud, he noticed Gregor almost smile and send him a knowing look. As a response, he nodded to Anton’s loyal servant. The vampire was more than double his age yet willing to do his Master Anton’s bidding and serve the High Master and family with the same dedication. And for the first time Spike had an inkling of exactly why. His Sire’s very person seemed to make loyalty a given, and there was a history and love that flowed between the two. The adopted Childe of the Immortal understood the feeling and returned the look… they both knew what it felt to be valued by one so magnanimous and so old. Others less privileged would feel even more incline to ingratiate themselves with the unique and powerful individual.
As they landed at the small airport outside Florence, the family was decidedly worried. They were swiftly ushered into cars and taken to a boutique hotel for the night. The instructions were that Anton would be there for a debrief in the morning and in the mean time they were to ‘relax’.
They had been welcomed by the proprietor who was struck by the power flowing off the group and quick to let the vampire royalty know how very honored she was to host them. As she led them inside the rather portly woman with bulging pale blue eyes and graying hair added over her shoulder, “I have personally put a ward on the hotel for the duration of your stay – oh and if they happen to get past that, a few nasty surprises for anyone attempting to do you harm.”
As she rounded the reception to recover the keys she stopped in her tracks and stared in wonder as little Liam, who had been asleep in his mother’s arms now stirred and his magical signature ramped up as he woke. Xander noted the woman blink… with two sets of eyelids one set vertical the other horizontal in their action and her eyes took on a pinky red hue. All the vampires heard her say under her breath… “Blessed be… Honored… so very honored” before she shook herself out of the moment and ushered them to the three suites provided.
Despite the three ample suites, within minutes of settling, they all ended up in Connor and Helle’s room. They had all brought the bare minimum of luggage from the plane, hoping that their journey would continue the next day or at least the one after.
Spike and Xander ventured out to purchased bread, wine and various fruits and ready made hot meals as recommended by Senora Christina (and obtained blood from a source recommended by the Sire Anton in an encrypted text).
Sire and Childe were rather surprised to return to, of all things, a card game of ‘Go Fish’ in the family room. Stephanie was apparently winning and grinned at the pair, but Gregor was thoroughly relieved to see the ruling couple return. He threw in his hand and stood to assist the pair as they carried in the supplies.
Senora Christina arrived within minutes with a basket of crockery, cutlery and glasses and promised them a wonderful breakfast in the morning.
Xander grinned as Spike charmed their hostess in his inimitable style. He thanked the women with a kiss to the hand then handed her a small box of chocolates procured in the little shopping adventure. “With many thanks dear lady…”
Christina was utterly taken by the fine manners and elegant, timelessness of every one of the group, and again humbled by their gracious manner toward her. She a little overwhelmed when in the room with all the family but the mother of four could not help but focus her attention on the dear little boy who was only just crawling and apparently cutting teeth (if the drool and putting things to his mouth was anything to go by).
Helle saw the look, and grandmother to mother, understood. “Would you mind holding him for a bit?”
Stephanie looked up, worried she had abrogated her duty in some way, but Helle simply put a calming hand on the dear Nanny, and stayed her with a smile. Stephanie understood.
They would pay for their accommodation like any other guest, but this generous hostess had done far more than they expected and was a magical being and had children of her own.
The card game was adjourned for a moment as Helle stood, collected Liam and handed her recently fed son to Senora Christina. “Would you mind holding him for a minute while I get his bath ready?”
It was a contrived excuse, but the older woman beamed with delight as the tiny boy instinctively melted into her embrace and his left hand petting the folds of her triple chin and cheek resting on her shoulder in a relaxed hug. She began to coo and rock as she would her own grandchildren but was surprised when the babe in arms began to project his own pleasure. She stood at the door to the bedroom for close on an hour, her calming, soporific effect on Liam not lost on any present. In the end she was seated, still rocking gently as the youngest Aurelian sucked his thumb and heavy eyelids closed over the crystal blue orbs as the little boy went back to sleep.
Senora Christina had known the Immortal for nearly eighty years, and had been a practicing wiccan for longer. Her demon heritage dictated that at a hundred and ten she was only now entering the ‘twilight’ of her years. She had backed off the coven and many of her own family had died or moved away. Then out of the blue Anton had called her. He was brief but essentially *His* family needed, but this group… the Aurelian ruling house… suddenly she knew that all the rumors were indeed true! Genteel, attractive, and intelligent… they were everything the European demon community needed in their leaders. And now she had been trusted to hold the next generation!
The tiny blonde radiated such energy and sense of contentment in her safe arms that the grandmother Christina felt quite humbled as she stroked the downy soft white baby hair with tears in her eyes, all the time cooing and whispering endearments in Italian.
Eventually Liam stirred pulled back, touched her face with what she could have sworn was gratitude, then twisted in an attempt to see his mother or Nanny Steph. Helle felt the familial tug and moved to collect him.
Christina handed the boy over, and rather tearfully stated in rather teary Italian, “He is the dearest of children… I… Thank you Mistress Helle, Master Connor… I would never have presumed…”
Helle patted the soft, ample arms of the older woman and kissed her on the cheek, whispering in the same act, “He *only* goes to friends and only sleeps in the arms of the kindest of souls. Mistress we owe you a debt and thank you for taking us in when our dear ones are under threat.”
Senora Christina, almost floated back to her own small apartment in the hotel. The following day she set another seventeen hex traps for ill doers penetrating her wards – and appealed to several friends to boost her energy as she strengthened the wards.
Gregor stayed on watch duty with Stephanie, Helle and Liam, whilst Spike, Xander and Connor logged in on a secure line to do their own business and deal with clan matters and international issues that had been so easily ignored in the ten blissful days away. Only two laptops had been on the plane so the mail filters were appreciated. Connor and Xander worked on one computer – there were no secrets and many of the construction mails CCd anyway. But close on three hundred mails in now eleven days proved a challenge. Many could be ignored but some were urgent.
It was almost a relief when Anton arrived, but his strained look boded ill. They gathered in Connor and Helle’s room again.
They all stilled as Anton began to speak, “The Schloss was stormed by the Wolf’s forces last night.”
Spike stepped forward. “What do you mean ‘stormed’?!”
Anton simply looked tired as he answered, “I mean dear Childe, they would have subdued and taken our entire family if there… all of you and probably Gregor and Stephanie for good measure.
“The wards were destroyed, apparently with little effort, but we have all the infiltrators.”
The realization that their home had been violated added to the stress of the last few days, was enough that the fledgling demon in Xander emerged and growled with the anger, though all in the room mirrored his distress. His dear Mate and Sire bit down on his wrist and exchanged his own blood. They all needed to be strong, no matter the upset.
Connor was the first of the family to speak. “Do the *employers* of our attackers know where we are?”
Anton’s answer was blunt and honest, “I don’t know. But you are safer here than at home for the next few days.”
Spike was still feeding his Childe from his wrist but growled, “Not much of a guarantee!” then realized his error. His Sire looked exhausted and worried. He dislodged his own Childe and knelt before Anton baring his neck. “I am sorry Sire. Please… please take comfort from me.”
Anton took the offering gratefully and pulling away, hugged the High Master as though there were no tomorrow.
They all felt it through the familial link, the love, the worry, the tiredness.
In the end, the entire household had offered hugs and blood and comfort. The second night in Florence was spent as a family group on the floor of Helle and Connor’s suite. Hard as the floor was, various pieces of bedding cushioned slim hips. Whilst the huge cushions from the lounge and pillows from beds in three rooms were requisitioned for the 'nest'. The reassurance of family made up for any discomfort.
Lilah grinned as she boarded the helicopter. They had tracked the private plane finally, and had confirmation of location and the hotel. She was over using ‘the help’. This time she took a mage and one mercenary with her and would simply do the rest herself.
Senora Christina woke around four am. Someone was attacking the wards.