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.
Xander jolted awake when a long cane slammed onto the narrow wooden desk between them.
“Zjot? Rolf? Surely I don’t bore you *that* much!”
After an emphatic and embarrassed apology to the Master, both tried to straighten on the uncomfortable pew to no avail. It was hard to concentrate when sitting for so long caused actual pain.
“I wonder if you, Zjot, would like to offer your opinion?”
Xander could still vaguely feel Spike, but focussed on the speaker and realized to their horror that he was… back at school… though not school? University! In front, on the lower pew, were twelve or so young men – all dressed in the hooded greyish gowns of the University of Florence (once again located in Pisa at the behest of Francesco 1 de Medici succeeded his father Cosmino the Great).
He knew from another's memories that they, including his cousin, Rolf aka Spike, were being taught by the brilliant young linguist and philosopher, Master Anton. Young Zjot/Xander was a little embarrassed and his first thought was that he had not completed the reading from the previous day, despite his cousin’s assistance, plus his back was aching and his lower legs were itching again the heat of the summer.
Spike had answered two questions very well – even citing an exact quote from the text – the other students sitting next to him murmured their approval, and squinted hard at the hand written text in front of them. Xander struggled to concentrate as he wriggled a bit to try to relieve the itch but knew better than to move much more than that when the Master was speaking. He noted that his cousin looked rather uncomfortable also, despite his ‘excellent performance.
“Zjot?… what is your opinion of Plato’s Protagorus and his notion of virtue? Do you like he believe it might be taught – or do you believe it to be innate?”
“Your thoughts on Plato’s – or in the case of the dialogue – Socrates’ opinion?...”
“I… um…. I… um” the other students were beginning to snigger, but as he looked at the changed form of his cousin Rolf/Spike he rallied a little, “Who knows what good and evil *is*? We’re *all both, you can’t be good all the time… I… um… I don’t think Plato really knew either, he just wanted us to think about it. ”
Anton nodded his approval but saw his acolyte squirm in position uncomfortably and knew it was not just the difficulty of the concept and public answer that was making the boy uncomfortable. It was why they remained here under his tutelage and protection. To prevent them becoming fodder for the witch/demon hunters that currently roamed the countryside.
It had been early spring and the two were helping with the search for a group of missing ewes heavy with lambs when they had come across what they thought was some sort of wild animal on the upper slope of Zjot’s father’s land.
They could see the rest of the flock in a panicked group down the slope so shouted to the farm hands behind them to flank the group as it came through and usher them home.
Zjot and Rolf had charged the Iptigh demon and the creature had simply done as nature demanded, defending its kill ferociously when rudely interrupted by the two boys with sticks and short daggers as it fed on one of the family’s precious, pregnant sheep.
The very angry demon had managed to score both boys several times with the barb in its tail as they fought it. Unfortunately the ensuing struggle also saw demon’s blood fall on their wounds, mixing with their own and the poison from the barb, and consequently entering their blood streams before the creature had finally broken free and fled.
Open wounds obvious and still bleeding, the boys had hobbled for home, happy that the rest of their family flock of ewes were safe, but unaware that their defence, wounding of the creature and the consequent death of the demon had sealed their fate. In its last moment it murmured the spell that activated its poison and guaranteed the continuation of its species.
After the death of their assailant some hours post attack, both were struck by a fever that lasted three days, then apparently, simply lifted. Little more was made of the incident as the wounds healed and, as had been planned for many months, the two rode to Pisa to begin their studies as had been planned. The family was reasonably wealthy and their landholdings substantial. It had long been planned that the two boys receive education well beyond the usual rudimentary instruction.
The boys had only spent a month at the University when Anton began to smell the change, and in the context of talking about country versus city life and associated experiences, was privy to the tale of the demon attack. He knew the demon species and worried as the distinctive musky scent became stronger on the two young men. By the second month he was positive, there was nothing he could do now but to support them as they adjusted to their new status. He shared his concerns with Anton, and sought out a demon physician for advice and future assistance with the pair.
And so it was that on a late spring morning, three months after they arrived, both cousins reported feeling irritated and unwell. Zjot had politely asked Anton that he and his cousin return to their rooms at the first break in study, citing stomach upset as the reason, but within minutes both men fell to the ground vomiting and convulsing. Anton knew, it had started.
They were assisted to their rooms where they immediately fell unconscious. Master Anton had sent Gregor to monitor the boys and take what ever action was needed as their forms shifted. That evening Anton had dripped his blood into the slack mouths, had the two boys moved to his own quarters, and spent time meditating and praying to his dear Goddess for clemency for the two innocents.
The combination of appeals and Anton’s blood would eventually arrest the complete change allowing their facial features and hands to remain recognisably human and their original memories to be maintained.
A day later the two changelings were still unconscious and writhing in the restraints that tethered torso, wrists and ankles to their beds. It would be seven full days of unconsciousness before the two former humans woke to agonised, itching skin, aching limbs and a strange desperate craving for raw meat.
Lying on their sides facing each other, their restraints gone, they were told calm and that Anton and the physician had been called.
Zjot let out a worried whimper as he moved to scratch an itchy leg and felt thick fur, then looked across to his compatriot, to find a familiar face but set of terrified blue eyes that now had slits rather than circular pupils. They were the first of many shocking discoveries that day, though it could have been worse, their transition to a voiceless no opposing thumb Iptigh demon arrested before it was complete via a combination of Anton’s blood, physician’s serum and prayers to the gods for clemency. Even so, the catalogue of non human features was extensive.
It took a full two weeks before either had been able to walk upright without assistance or support, as fur covered legs now articulated as that of a cat rather than human, a tail needed to be controlled and strange paws with their sharp talon like nails often slipped on the hard floors of Anton’s home.
They both now preferred the crunch of bone and taste of raw meat to other food and struggled to learn to speak clearly around elongated canines, they also sported pointed, fur tipped ears.
They had been assisted by a patient Gregor as they worked out how to manage their monastic robes so as to conceal demon forms from prying eyes, large hood and overly long wide sleeves covering a multitude of differences. Their tails were the biggest difficulty until both had learned to wrap then around slim waists, though relatively uncomfortable to do and giving the two rather a ‘portly’ look, it was effective. Soft suede, ‘winter’ shoes worn year round meant paws and claws were concealed.
But it was the notion that they were now outcasts that was the hardest to deal with, and one that their Master Anton was still helping them with. Unable to go home or mix with humans other than when cloistered in the safety of the University, it had taken many months before the two were even confident enough to venture out to the sunny patch of lawn in the middle of the mews.
Now sitting in class across from Rolf/Spike, the changed Zjot/Xander smiled a little as he suddenly realized that Master Anton, too, struggled with the idea of virtue, its definition so often society driven, or church driven, or power driven. It was no different in demon circles as he and Rolf (and their alter egos) now knew.
A year previously, Master Anton, accompanied by Gregor, had introduced them to ‘the other’, the demon communities. It had been a relief and a shock all at once. They entered a long tunnel from a cave mouth on the outskirts of the city terrified of what they might find, but with the legendary Immortal at their side they were treated with a deal of respect and for the first time since their change. Within a half hour they were completely at ease with showing their true form, relieved to finally be able to walk with their tails at ease and hoods down as they wound their way through the bizarre bazaar in the small set of catacombs underneath Pisa.
They followed Anton until he ushered them into an enormous cavern filled with all manner of demons and other world creatures. Both boys’ stared in disbelief at the array. The aim that night was to unite the demon clans of the Italian region so a series of ‘safe houses/places’ in cities and rural locales might be established as the black death, self appointed inquisitors, church leaders and witch hunters captured and murdered, and drove the human population to fear and seek to eliminate the ‘other’.
Xander had Zjot’s memories of that night. Their remaining human-taught prejudices and struggling sense of self had been confronted, in particular by a young Iptigh demon who immediately treated them as relatives – though their change was not quite complete. She was a very attractive creature with pale fur, refined features, pretty chocolate eyes and a tail that seemed to have a mind of its own, venturing under their robes to find first their tails then their private regions as they stood chatting.
She smelt wonderful and Xander remembered feeling acutely embarrassed as his body responded, tail refusing to be controlled and erection emerging from its now furry encasement to brush the inside of his robe and drip a little fluid. His cousin had been similarly affected and he had smelt the arousal courtesy of heightened demon senses.
Master Anton was magnificent as leader of the meeting, the demon clans all recognized the strength of the magical signature, bowed to his age and listened intently to his wise counsel. He did not discriminate between those who were killers of humans and those who were not as food sources and natural prey was not the matter under question. The only topic on the agenda was the safety of all magical creatures in their region and the associated strategies to achieve that.
The two had felt strangely reassured. Both had experienced the bloodlust associated with their new form and had occasionally given in to the urge, hunting in a nearby forest or paying a farmer for a live piglet or goat. Pure blood Iptigh always preferred red meat on the hoof and did not kill humans unless in self defence, but they still expected criticism and punishment from Anton for giving in to their desires when he seemed to contain his own so easily.
But that night they saw a different Anton and understood why he did not condemn them for their instinctive acts. Half way through the meeting a group of young maverick vampires led by the Master of Rome began to threaten the tenuous agreement and alliances made around the middle of the meeting. The Childer and Minions of the Master Stavros (and with them a few other demons) began to heckle, yelling loudly over the others and claiming that they were all giving in to the humans and ‘running scared’ when they should be targeting the demon haters and kill everyone associated with them.
Anton knew the Master’s reputation, and his connections. His call was not based on need but on gaining power over the gathered group. As their protests became violent and the more passive of the beings present began to cower and attempt to move toward the dais or exits for safety, Anton struck. In moves so swift and violent that few of the protestors could even track him, the Immortal dusted the dangerous Master, then all but drained five of his ‘support team’, while Gregor gagged and tied three of the slower dissident demons who had cheered the vampires on.
The show of strength was appreciated and the meeting concluded an hour later with seventy safe houses, twelve underground locations, and a number of warning strategies established to assist their diverse magical community.
Xander/Zjot came back to the present as Rolf’s tail snuck from the confines of his robes to find and intertwine with his cousin’s appendage. The effect was electric and Rolf/Spike turned to give Zjot a wicked grin.
As Anton took his chalk piece and turned to scribe some of the major points made by Plato on the blackened wall, Rolf/Spike leaned in close and whispered, “I’m glad we’ve been changed… now virtue is in making love not denying it.” With that his non writing hand slid under Xander’s robe and began to gently stroke and massage the furry member between Xander’s legs.
Anton smelt the arousal and turned from his writing, only to be met by unrepentant, affectionate grins from the two demons, his charges, in the front row. From where he stood he could see the tails wrapped around each other and undulating slightly. He smiled a little as he turned back to his task, deciding that virtue, like love for another, was difficult to define and may or may not be approved of by society and therefore, perhaps, innate. After ‘that night’ and the consequent instigation of the ‘safe house’ system (and saving of hundreds of the magical community) the system spread like wildfire across Europe – as did Anton’s reputation as leader/elder. And Anton, the Immortal, found himself absolutely comfortable with the role, truly straddling ‘good and evil’ for the first time in his very long life.
He was leaving for Rome for a few days – unbeknownst to his students, he would check on the new Master Vampire there, with the full knowledge that the city was his should he want it – it seemed his Immortal blood donated to the eldest Childe of the departed Master Stavros after the night of the ‘Alliance’ had that effect.
Later that evening in their shared small room, Zjot silently joined Rolf on his narrow bed. Tails wound together and began to move just enough, the soft pelts of their underbellies rubbed together deliciously and sharp nails scraped against furred shafts until both were exposed, erect and leaking. In the end, the only solution was to rotate, tails still holding each other, enabling mouths to take appendages and working toward conclusion.
As their world went into a sated black, Spike and Xander felt the shift begin again.