NB: By request, seventh arc in the Five Gold Rings canon
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.
He looked across to his partner, they were both quadrupeds, large male dogs, of the ‘bordering on wolf’ variety. They each sported the same leather muzzles and broad collars, and had leads held by the dog handler. Instinctively the darker, larger male knew his alpha was the blond dog facing him.
Spike would always be his alpha. They both felt the hunger, they had not been fed that morning, there were ‘games afoot’. Minutes later they were led to the battle field released from their muzzles and leads and moved to flank their master’s horse as the young man watched and prepared for battle. Anton was mounted - as all the nobles on the field, but the dogs would keep up and keep him safe, he knew that from experience.
As the cry went up for the second wave to attack, they sprinted alongside their Master, leaping at assailants, biting limbs, ripping human flesh and tearing out necks.
It had been Anton’s idea to take his two beautiful wolf-like beasts into war with him. They were unwavering in their loyalty to their young Master and revelled in the thrill of battle.
Three weeks later, and the battle won, they were finally back home, now lying tethered on long wide leads attached to an olive tree at the rear of their Master’s home. They were feeling lazy after being given water and a huge mound of fresh sheep bones – with plenty of meat left on them, to chew on. Though only their third night back and missing the excitement of the fight, it was nice to have a full belly and rest. And as the young Master made off to a victory party at the house of a friend, there was one unexpected reward delivered to them. A young, in heat, almost jet black female was tied with them. She was apparently the family pet, and a pretty one at that. The message was clear, she more than willing, and her scent subsuming any human foibles regards sharing or servicing a female ready to mate.
Very late that night as the three lay sated, Spike and Xander both woke with a start, strained against their collars and sniffed the air in alarm.
Mere hours later the family was grieving. Anton had not returned from the party. The dogs heard the scenario. He had left the party with an unknown new 'friend'. And consequently his favourite dagger, parts of his robe and a gold clasp with family emblem was found strewn near cliffs not far from the house where the party was held – and within sight of the small temple dedicated to the Goddess Artemis. There was no doubt that foul play was involved with his disappearance, and the suspicion that his body had been disposed of in the ocean.
Xander chewed through Spike’s leash and the act was reciprocated, and on the third evening after Anton's disappearance, the two took off toward the house where they knew their Master had last been seen.
Spike scented the ground around the base of the stone wall marking the garden of Anton’s trusted friend and fellow soldier, and Xander did likewise. Smells of the party and of numerous humans were apparent, but Xander had it. One short yip later and he and Spike were hurtling up the hill toward the temple.
Temporarily forgetting their own and Anton’s history – or their true beings, their pace increased as they approached the modest temple, almost glowing in the moonlight, and saw their Master sitting on the lowest step his head in his hands. Both slowed as they approached, he smelt odd, of tears and blood. All but prostrating themselves as they might the alpha of any pack, they belly crawled the last few inches until able to nuzzle the surprisingly cool legs and lick over dusty cold feet.
Their Master then did something most surprising for the two dogs, he collapsed down, all but falling between them, and began to cry in earnest whilst hugging his two canine friends and sobbing out, “Not human… no more… never again… have to leave you… Am so sorry… can’t… you… look after everyone yeah? Please!?!!!”
Both dogs nuzzled their Master, encouraged him inside the temple again, and lay down either side of him to accept the instinctive bite of the fledgling who fed a little for comfort then fell asleep between them.
The two dogs felt the shift and the world moved again.
Spike suddenly found himself in a body that felt… frail. The white haired elderly senator was seated in a pleasant courtyard opposite apparently equally aged, most trusted advisor. They both looked a little nonplussed but rallied as a young man was dragged in bound and gagged by the Imperial Guard and tossed at their feet.
“Esteemed Senator, I apologise for this intrusion, but Emperor’s Magistrate Cassius would have you deal with this… ” the large brute of a soldier kicked the already kneeling male hard in the ribs, “excuse for a man,” another kick, “…personally.”
“But… Legion… Why me? Surely the Magistrate can deal with most matters? I am a law maker - not a judge! What is his crime exactly?”
“Defiling the temple of Diana – he was sleeping in it… Bloody vagrant… We tossed him in the cells for a few weeks but it seems he’s a bit of a smooth talker, jailers went all soft, took him to the magistrate, claims he’s part of your household… your Grandmother or some such. Sorry to bother you, reckon the judge simply wants you to check the story before he puts the liar out of ‘is misery.
“He doesn’t seem the violent type… but you want that we stay?”
Spike looked down at the sorry figure kneeling at the soldier’s feet, wrists bound tight, head bowed and body covered in grime, the recent evidence of a whipping easily visible across his back.
“I can’t think why we would need you. I will call my guards if there is a problem.”
“Right. Well, I’ll send someone back to pick ‘im up in a couple of hours then. Tell your guards that if he’s any bother a few good kicks ‘ll sort it.”
After the soldiers departed, Spike bent down and reached for the filthy chin with a groan, his old frame objecting to the position. He gently eased the man’s face up to look at him so that he might inspect the features. Even though they suspected the scenario, both Senator and Advisor gasped as they recognized the beautiful and so well known face buried under grime and bruising. Anton’s pretty tear-filled green eyes stared up at them, the expression one of sadness and resignation.
“You say you know my family.”
In Latin with an ever so slight accent, Anton replied quietly with tears in his eyes, “Your… the women.. your… and I was… was… Oh Goddess… I am… worse than noone… but I had to see… I had to know… I just wanted to know”
Anton began to try to turn his face away so his tears might fall privately, but the old man, a true believer in their Gods and their strange ways held him fast, and both Spike’s knowledge and the memories of the original owner of the body blended as Anton’s next whispered words confirmed something he suspected, “I needed to know, you see?! I needed to know every once in a while… just needed them to survive… I… Oh goddess… I am not what I seem… Please!... But you could never…!!” Anton pulled away and attempted to fold down to the ground but stilled and turned to look up at the man in utter amazement at the aging Senator’s next words.
“Show me your *true* face... I believe I know who you are.”
At just over a hundred and thirty years young, Anton was thin and drawn, and appeared like what he was, an outcast from both human and demon society. Yet he could not help but obey the order. His fangs dropped and eyes changed but other changes seemed to come and go. The usual vampire ridges were all but absent. What was present were blood tinged tears streaming down the man’s face as he fell forward to rest his cheek against the aging knees of the kindly gent and gave up to the feeling of being utterly lost.
Anton knew, as did Senator Illias and his aged friend Alexandros, who had also leaned down to put a kind hand on the shoulder of the young man, the Senator was a direct descendant of one of his illegitimate daughters.
A blue eyed, dark haired beauty, she had married a young soldier who later became a highly decorated member of Kleisthenes army. Despite (or because of – no one could remember) the three children resulting from the marriage went on to be well educated and take various well placed positions in society as the Roman Empire began its rise to greatness.
Post Licinian Rogations and now at war with Samnite confederacy the Roman Empire was a Republic but still on the rise to its ultimate power. Rome began the process of voting to appoint those in public office even when Anton was human. Illias was the grandson of a freed slave, but was a learned, well respected man, spoke several languages and had proved himself time and again as a wise and just public servant (and no harm on the battle field).
Spike, in his aged guise, ordered a servant find him a knife. Anton flinched but stayed down expecting to be punished for his empassioned outburst. Instead of being tortured, however, his bindings were sliced, he was bathed and clothed, and when his jailers returned they were handed a sum of money to pay for Anton’s freedom. There was no objection, merely a grin and wiggle of an eyebrow. Spike felt a little ill, realizing that Anton was pretty enough to have provided ‘sport’ and that there was an assumption that his role in the Senator's household would be utilizing just such ‘talents’.
Anton looked from Alexandros to Senator Illias in wonder as the front door of his rescuer's rather generous abode closed.
Spike simply squeezed his arm, raised him to his feet and said, “You are family. Stay for as long as you need. What is ours we have because of you. My grandmother spoke of you.”
As a servant came forward and ushered a still rather stunned Anton to the small room that had been prepared as his sleeping quarters, Spike and Xander’s worlds shifted yet again.