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Leading Lines #1 (Arc 7 of Five Rings Series)

Title: Leading Lines

NB: By request, seventh arc in the Five Gold Rings canon
Author: josie_h@yahoo.com
Archived at:
http://www.excessant.com/fiction/josie/five_rings/five_rings.htm OR
http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=rngrdead
Pairing: Xander/Spike
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: The Immortal Anton is now universally accepted as the Sire of the High Master William Aurelius (aka Spike) and his Esteemed Consort, now Childe, Xander, just as he is to the Full Blood Aurelian, Connor. He has supported them all in the past, perhaps now it's his turn
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.



Part 1

The High Master leaned back against the slightly larger form of Ruling Consort and smiled as the strong arms of his Childe enveloped him. Xander squeezed Spike just a little and they both relaxed staring out the window of their bedroom suite as snow covered hills turned pink with the sun set.

After the initial thrill of walking in the sunlight twenty plus years earlier, the two vampires had reverted to old habits borne of instinct, and generally chose to sleep from just before sunrise until early afternoon each day. The usual pattern was then to shower and eat before addressing their financial interests and human dealings in regular ‘business hours’.

The first renovation of the chateau was completed some fifteen years earlier and had seen a large office established (with all the facilities of a modern workspace), adding to the existing hall for the whole court gatherings and the ‘private study.’

The lower floor of the East wing had always been the ‘work’ end of their home, now even more so.

The High Master and his Mated Childe had their rooms over the ‘business end’ of the chateau/castle while Helle and Connor had the upper west wing of the big house.

At forty seven, Connor, the full blood vampire, had come to terms with the idea that he would never age more than maturity, for all time appearing as though in his late twenties, early thirties, his dear Helle equally preserved by their mating. It was odd as his oldest son Liam (at twenty three) now appeared for all the world like his father’s younger cousin rather than son.

The tall blonde Liam had the musculature of an athlete, his father’s talent for numbers and fighting and his mother’s calm nature. There was no need to ‘groom’ their eldest child for leadership, it came naturally – as did his studies and dedication to excellence.

Just finishing an honours year in ‘Classics’, he was not deemed perfect by any means, enjoying far too many ‘wild nights’ with university friends according to mother Helle. But the entire family knew that there were many more nights when he studied solo or had the same friends invited to his home rather than venture out to the Basel nightclubs, or some other party.

Liam, the oldest child and a quite extraordinarily strong magical being, gravitated toward Anton whenever the Immortal was present at the home. Like his Great Uncles and father he listened attentively to his Grand Sire, and apparently took his own role as the eldest most seriously. Vampire Law, international politics, financial dealings, he took all on board – along with the idea that he was needed by the family.

Liam’s many friends did not stay in the ‘big house’ anymore, there was no need. Two years previous, the rarely used, old U-shaped building that had once housed farm equipment and winter stables had been gutted and redesigned to become independent abodes for Helle and Connor’s three eldest children. The residents and equipment normally held in the old buildings had long since been moved to new, better fitted buildings, constructed in a style in keeping with the original, yet far more practical, and conveniently located behind the east wing of the main house.

Though still under the protection of family, the now adult children of Connor and Helle had ample space and a sense of freedom rarely gifted the offspring of ruling families – let alone vampire ones.

The older three children were attending university but also studied the ‘dark and light’ arts in private and regardless of their similar upbringing, the children could not have been more different.

They had various strengths, the eldest, Liam had an instinct for spells, a taste for blood and a magical signature that had always been so strong that his mere presence caused prickles for all members of the court; his younger brother by barely a year, Antonio was a far different character, he was a fighter, even challenging his two vampire uncles at times, and perhaps the most vampiric of Connor and Helle’s sons.

Antonio seemed to spend most of his time in the gym or sparring with anyone entering the workout room – though to be fair, was no slouch at his studies. A much quieter character, Antonio was gifted when it came to all things creative, a fine guitarist and favourite with his female compatriots at university. But Antonio found magic far harder to master than his elder brother, and for that matter, his immediate younger sister, Amelie.


The raven haired, nineteen year old sister, Amelie, was a powerful wiccan with a connection to the earth like no other sibling. She stunned them all at twelve with the revelation that she could open portals at will and could see and read auras as though the most natural thing in the world– the latter treated as a party trick by her siblings until their Grandsire Anton was told. Aunt Willow was consequently engaged immediately as the girl’s mentor (often ‘online’ rather than face to face’) and the ‘palace’ all but rippled with power thereafter.

It had been apparent from the beginning that Amelie was blindingly intelligent and had an ethereal beauty normally attributed to the fae folk. *She* decided at aged fifteen that she would pursue her two passions – fashion design and magic. And what Amelie decided, Amelie got. Her moving to ‘The Mews’ (as the newly renovated stables became known) was a relief to all as she and Helle had recently clashed regularly, both women extremely strong willed and similar in nature.

Spike adored the girl, and she was often seen in his company, and he even asked (and funded) Willow to visit and tutor his niece personally at least twice a year. Amelie reminded him very much of Dawn in her youth, all enthusiasm and creativity, with a large side serve of determination countered by youthful self doubt, the latter something Spike regularly offered to “… beat out of you Pet” and the offer always met by the standard “It’s OK Uncle… I’ll let you know when a spanking is in order ” followed by a knowing wink and affectionate hug.

All three older children spent time with family at the big house according to custom or whim, though studies, sport and fun regularly took them away from home as they grew older.

Of the younger three children, tall blonde Pelle, now fifteen, was a gifted athlete who displayed much of the vampiric speed and ruthless determination of his father, both on and off ‘the field’. Sadly he seemed not to care for his academic or magical studies instead had taken to spending a lot of time with his Uncle Xander.

Xander seemed to understand him, said nothing of his ‘failing’ formal schooling, rather, he treated the strapping lad like an adult, took him down to the workshop and taught him to turn wood and make *real* things. Several picture frames, a nest of tables and four matching candle sticks were the beginning, and six months later a lovingly restored dresser in his parents’ bedroom was the mark of pride for the middle son. Helle had shed a tear as the boy she had worried about so very often, led her and Connor to their private suite and asked that she might reveal the fruits of his labour. The ‘french polishing’ was near perfect, the brass fittings all complete and shining, and the damaged legs restored.

Since that day, he had been allowed to ‘skive off’ his studies whenever Xander had time to work with him. The Consort Childe was more than happy to share his knowledge and passion for wood and the skills of the building trade – along with strict attention to tool maintenance and a measure of project planning. Connor often wondered as he looked in on Pelle in the workshop. How could his children all turn out so very differently?!

At twelve years of age, the last of ‘the older five’, Giselle, was surprisingly tall (at just shy of five feet eleven), raven haired and ethereally beautiful. She not only appeared as, but felt like one of the fae folk to the entire family. She was solitary, studious and shy. Giselle preferred to spend her reading hours in the fork of an ancient tree, or ensconced in the bell tower of their home, surrounded by pigeons, her connection with nature acutely obvious and her preference for the shadows and for literature seeing her gravitate toward her the High Master, Uncle Will, to debate some classic or other.

Like her siblings, she was to be tutored at home until university, though… unusually, at the age of five, had requested Nanny Stephanie be the one to instruct her. The wiccan (who had now resumed her Nanny duties due to the newest addition) was thrilled and took on the role of educator in both academic and magical studies with ease.

Stephanie had stayed on with the family. She and Gregor now shared quarters, and a bed. With the Immortal’s encouragement, Gregor had taken her as Consort during Pelle’s first year. Anton blessed their joining and the entire house rejoiced, all of them noting the subtle change in Gregor. Still devoted to his Master and the household, he was also, obviously, happy. He and his partner were a rather typical mature couple, continuing their regular duties and respecting each others’ need for their own time, but when together, were most often seen hand in hand strolling around the estate of an evening, often requested the car for an occasional dinner or show, and obviously, quietly adored each other’s company.

The youngest addition to the family Olivia, had been the result of a joyous private afternoon during their regular family holiday on Kimolos, and a consequent surprise to both Helle and Connor who had both assumed their breeding days were over.

Now aged three, the pixie faced little blonde was everyone’s favourite, sporting blonde curly hair, long black lashes framing dark green eyes, and had a smile that would melt stone. She was extremely outgoing, having been both the centre of attention and expected to ‘muck in’ with all the others. Her older siblings adored ‘little O’ and she was rarely without company for more than a few minutes. Her own favourite, rather surprisingly, was Nanny’s partner. Gregor rarely said much, but picked her up onto his knee whenever he was passing, receiving a hug and, at first babble, but now happy chatter as he silently gave her his undivided attention. And each time he did so, Stephanie loved her life partner more.


Spike and Xander stood in a quiet embrace. Normally the ruling couple would have gone down by now but this night was different.

It was the thirtieth anniversary of their first meeting in Boston at a poetry reading on the Common.

Spike was in a rather contemplative mood, and though the silence was far from awkward, Xander let his fangs drop just enough to scrape the elegant pale neck lovingly before whispering, “Melancholy deserves a poem, Sire.”

Smiling just a little as his beloved sighed in agreement, Xander began Lord Byron’s melancholy piece that had marked their meeting all those years ago on the Boston Common.

“I watched thee when the foe was at our side -
Ready to strike at him, -or thee and me -
Were safety hopeless - rather than divide
Aught with one loved - save love and liberty.”

When Xander paused, Spike found Xander’s hands, entangled the fingers and pulled the arms even tighter around him as he took up the next few lines with the perfect diction of an upper class gent.

“I watched thee in the breakers - when the rock
Received our prow - and all was storm and fear,
And bade thee cling to me through every shock -
This arm would be thy bark - or breast thy bier.”

Xander took his turn, the poem so well committed to memory now that the act bordered on instinctive.

“I watched thee when the fever glazed thine eyes -
Yielding my couch - and stretched me on the ground
When overworn with watching - ne'er to rise
From thence - if thou an early grave hadst found.”

Spike was struggling to hold back tears, and was sending wave after wave of tumultuous emotion through the Consort/Childe link, yet managed the next stanza in all but a whisper.

“The earthquake came and rocked the quivering wall -
And men and Nature reeled as if with wine -
Whom did I seek around the tottering hall -
For thee - whose safety first provide for - thine.

Xander kissed his Sire’s left ear then turned the blonde vampire gently until they were face to face before sliding down to his knees, still holding Spike in his embrace, but now having his cheek resting over the High Master’s navel as they both continued.

“And when convulsive throes denied my breath
The faintest utterance to my fading thought -
To thee - to thee - even in the grasp of death
My Spirit turned - Ah! oftener than it ought.”

So engrossed in the moment, neither vampire noticed the magical surge as their Sire entered the room, but rejoiced as the Immortal’s liquid baritone added the final heartfelt verse.

“Thus much and more - and yet thou lov'st me not,
And never wilt - Love dwells not in our will -
Nor can I blame thee - though it be my lot
To strongly - wrongly - vainly - love thee still.”

By the time Anton had finished, all three were kneeling and exchanging blood. It should have been joyous, but as the three rose, Spike suddenly realized that there was something wrong. It was one of the few times he had witnessed their Sire to be anything less than composed.

He immediately kissed his Sire’s hand as did his Mated Childe and both wrapped themselves around the ancient being in a tight hug proffering necks and puzzled as to why they were not taken. Instead salty tears fell onto the willing Childers’ necks and Connor felt the jolt of pain through the familial link even though in Geneva for the day on business.

Spike was the first to pull away, the confusion and upset flowing from their ancient patriarch all too reminiscent of the emotions that flowed on the day he and Xander connected all those decades ago.

“Sire please?!!! How can we…??”

“Buffy… She… she… inoperable, malignant… brain tumour… she… she can’t be turned… Slayer plus vampire demon no match… and… she didn’t want it… but… Oh my boys!!!” For the first time in their unlives, the Immortal collapsed into their arm, his grief tangible and the provision of familial blood but a slight buffer to the agony of losing his beloved.

Spike and Xander both recognized the look of pain, knew the panic of losing someone so dear, and snapped into action. Unbeknownst to them, Buffy had travelled with a nurse and their Sire, the original Slayer’s energy so low and unconscious state such that she her presence was not felt by all the magical beings in the home.

Dawn and Willow were contacted immediately, as was the new Watchers’ council and all slayers in Europe, then two staff from the best hospice in Basel were engaged. The whole vampire Court would gather in due course to support the Immortal, but for now it was about family.
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