Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Xander has PTSD after rescuing one too many slayers. Spike is recovering (sort of) after the battle with W&H. Fate may have it they eventually find each other - she's funny that way.
Spoilers: Sometime in season five AtS – and possibly late seven BtVS.
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.
"She's a second cousin of my mother. Lady Regina Grimston is one of the daughters of the Earl of Verulam, not the current one obviously."
"Hang on... that makes her...?"
"Not quite human? Well, to coin your phrase, 'Derrrr'." Spike quirked his eyebrow and grinned.
"No, I meant, an Earl is royalty right? So that would mean..." Spike sighed and wondered idly if another hour in the bus would be enough time to work through the confusion that was his human self's rather complex family history, but also knew that his travel companion would need to know at least the basics if they were both to survive Saturday's soiree without incident.
"That you'll have to shut your gob an' stop interuptin' is what."
Xander tried for a knowing wink, forgetting for a moment that it looked rather silly with only one eye. When Spike's look threatened to turn dark, he quickly held his hands up in defeat, "Alright already. Do continue, Your Highness."
Spike replied, "Cheeky prat," but continued, this time uninterrupted. "Right then. Mother was Lady Anna Seymour, second daughter of one of the Earls of Somerset. She was a real looker in her day they say, still had the prettiest blue eyes, even when she was... she still lit up a room when she smiled..." Spike's face softened and looked decidedly younger as fond memories flooded in, then he continued, "Anyway... she had money, well a generous dowry and allowance at least, a title and was considered a right catch. Father was Henry Cavendish, upper class, politician. Mother's family approved because of the Dukes of Devonshire connection, and the fact he was a hunting friend of her father's. They married the year she turned eighteen.
"He was twenty years her senior, a well off widower with no children besides, and she was of child bearing age with peerage background. Don't remember much of him, just that he had a bushy moustache, a pleasant smile and always smelled of cigars. Whenever I was presented to him it was always formal, usually him in his study, with brandy in hand and a book open. He died when I was twelve and still a lad at school."
Spike realized that his usual, carefully practiced, rough accent had slipped, but as a warm hand found his knee and conveyed friendly support, failed to really care and gave up all pretence. He let himself fall further into his memories, encouraged by the sense of quiet friendship and acceptance emanating from the man next to him.
"Mother always told me how proud Father was of my endeavors at school and that I was destined to follow him and others of the family into politics. In truth, it was the last thing I wished for. I was desperately shy and felt quite out of place in the society set, if it hadn't been for my cousin Richard, it would have been unbearable. He was four years older than I, a Viscount already, and was gregarious, tall, athletic and terribly handsome. Everything I wasn't. Nevertheless, he took me under his wing. We went to all the right parties and introduced me to the various pleasures that went with the lifestyle of a gentleman of the time. I idolized him and thought we would remain chums forever, but it wasn't to be.
"At seventeen Mother was encouraged to send me to Trinity College, Oxford, Father's old alumni. That same year Richard was married to some rich society heiress from New York, and we rarely saw each other again after that.
"I passed the oral entrance exams easily, studied Classics and did extremely well. It was the first time since I was a young child that I felt like I belonged. Was even named on the honor roll and won a scholarship in my third year. It was around that time that I fell truly in love for the first time.
"He was reading Law, you'd call it 'majoring', and in his final year. His rooms were just down the hall from mine but we mostly met up in the library at first." Spike's voice trailed off to a low almost whisper, "James and I had everything in common, yet were different in so many ways. He loved to laugh and everyone was his friend it seemed, he could be crass and rowdy and hold his own in a crowd, but when it was just the two of us, he was gentle and soft and thoughtful, beautiful. We didn't dare do anything beyond an occasional touch, but I remember one lazy spring day, lying in the sun, just together, happy, he kissed me. Not demanding or begging for more, just a simple kiss and caress of his hand on my cheek. We both felt it and I kissed him back..."
Xander had remained utterly silent throughout the monologue, but broke in when he sensed Spike tense a little, "What happened? To him, to you, I mean?"
"Pardon? Oh sorry... yes, well, we both graduated that year. I was called back to London as Mother was unwell, and he joined his father in their Law practise in Kent. I wrote to him once the following Christmas, but there was no reply, not that I really expected one. I saw him a few years later at a charity do. He had married well and was successful in his profession. I was happy for him.
"After that, and with mother ill, I did what was expected of me. I accepted a position as private secretary to a member of Parliament, attended the right parties and tried to mix with others of our class as was expected. I was supposed to marry and produce an heir, regardless of my leanings, plenty of others did it. I suppose I was terribly inept, always finding favour with the mothers of eligible girls, but never with the ladies in question.
"It felt like I would somehow be living a lie or would be found out somehow. I was twenty five when I was introduced to Cecily at one of Lady Regina's parties. She was pretty, popular and apparently well connected, and Mother approved and encouraged the possible match... And I suppose I saw her as... well, a solution, so I pursued her. Of course she showed no interest, but that did not stop me from trying more than once to come to her notice.
"I finally mustered the courage to meet with her privately during a party at her house in Mayfair, and was unequivocally told she was not in the slightest bit interested... I truly believed I had failed my parents, and had made myself the laughing stock of the London set. It was shortly after, when I had shamefully run from the situation, Dru found me."
Spike sniffed hard and reached for the sports bottle in the seat pocket in front. Xander knew it contained cold human blood and noticed that the vampire's hands were shaking slightly as he tipped it and emptied the contents in one go. " So there you have it Harris, satisfied? You now know more 'n all but the very privileged few about yours truly and pretty much all of 'em are six foot under."
When Xander merely stared at the hand that had previously rested on Spike's knee, the blonde became a little uncomfortable. "Well? Not goin' to mock or make comment?"
"No Spike, I'm not, mock I mean. Why would I? I mean, it's incredibly sad."
"I bear my soul and all you c'n offer is that I'm a sad sod. Didn't even need the Cliff Notes for that!" Spike snarled out the last part.
Xander knew that they were in no position to have an all out argument - nor did he want one - so he took the empty sports bottle from the hand that was now waving angrily in his direction and calmly tucked it back into the seat pocket before replying.
"That's not what I'm saying and you know it. I think it's sad because... well because it just is! I mean I knew, I guess instinctively with some of it, you know the keeping your word, protecting Dawn, going after Buffy, the sacrifice(s) you made with and without your soul. William was always there wasn't he? And we were too stupid to see, well with being a vampire and you were trying to kill us some of the time. But it makes a lot more sense now. And the gay thing, I get that, geez been there got the T-shirt. Can I ask something though? It's a bit out of left field I guess."
Though Spike was still in the throws of feeling agitated and a little confused by the almost revelation regards the man's sexuality (a question filed for later), he replied gruffly, "Fire away."
Xander shifted in his seat so he could look at Spike directly with his good eye. "Well... If you were gay, and the son of minor royalty, and well educated and all that, what happened? I mean when Dru turned you did all that just go away? 'Cause from where I'm sitting I kind of think not. But I can't figure the why and the how - you know from William to Spike? Was it just a bite from Dru and wham you go all vicious killer on everyone's arse? That sort of doesn't make sense, like, at all?"
All Spike's annoyance and defensiveness evaporated instantly as all he saw in the chocolate eye focused squarely on him was sincerity, friendship and genuine curiosity.
"OK in for a penny then I guess. But after this you're gonna answer me a couple of questions of me own, deal?"
"Deal." Xander relaxed back into his seat but continued to hold the vampire's cerulean gaze.
"I didn't change then and there. Oh I knew I had been turned alright. And pretty much had sex with Dru as soon as I rose, right then and there, twice if I recall, wild debauched f%#king in a pauper's graveyard where Dru had me buried. All teeth an' nails an'... anyway... You get the picture. For a Victorian bloke who had only ever sinfully jacked off before once or twice, it was a bloody revelation. I thought she was perfect, and for the first time in my life I felt free and like I could truly be with a woman. She dragged me back to the lair to meet 'Gelus.
"He was big an' powerful, an' a handsome bastard to boot. First time we met I reckon he took my measure pretty quick. Must've decided I was worth havin' around, even if it was just to look after Dru in her off moments. But he tested me and then laughed saying we were to be great friends, and he reminded me of cousin Richard in an odd way, Irish accent and no education to speak of aside. I had no idea so just went along for the ride I guess.
"The next day I was so excited about, well everything really, that I took Drusilla to meet Mother. I had this idea that if I turned her she could be well again, that we could all be together. 'Course that went arse over tit - didn't know that one so young shouldn't try to turn anyone. When I went back two days later to see if she had risen, well she had, but it wasn't her. She looked wonderful, healthy, younger, but it wasn't her. She was all demon. Said some horrible things, things Mother would never have said or thought even. I couldn't... anyway... I staked her.
"That night the bitch queen Darla came home, and was all for stakin' me, dragged me down to the coal room and took to me with a whip with 'Gelus watchin' just to prove I was a nancy boy not worthy of bein' turned. Reckon she figured she'd break me and have the big sod do the deed after she'd had her fun, hadn't figured on me just takin' it and more without cryin'. Hells she could wield that thing better 'n any depraved school master with a switch on a bad day, but she couldn't get me to break. Ended up orderin' 'Gelus to give me a good buggerin', which he did, before Dru went completely sack 'o hammers, screamin' an' scratchin like a dervish an' the two of 'em had their hands too busy containin' her to continue.
"Bitch never did get 'round to the stake that night, an' 'Gelus came down later an' fed me, was all sorry like, explained how things were, said I was young, but that 'e was impressed, promised to take me under 'is wing so to speak... unlife can be funny that way. Spent most of the rest of my time as vampire tryin' to get back to that... that point where he'd show me that attention, his approval." Spike looked past Xander and out the window to the passing scenery. They were close to Oxford, but Spike still had more to say, and an important couple of questions to ask his audience of one.
"Darla was ever the trumped up whore, but loved fancy clothes and posh parties an' when she found out I was 'connected' played that card for all it was worth. I was the one who could get us into the society shindigs, knew a lot of the old families, hells I was related to half of them if you went back far enough - and not so far in most cases. Really pissed her off when invites came for me 'n Dru and not her. But she managed to wheedle her way in along with 'Gelus most of the time. And that mob didn't mind a bit o' rumpy pumpy an' rough play, so long as everyone went home happy after the weekend at whatever manor house was hostin'. If one or two of the locals or the help went missin' no one seemed to pay any mind."
"I was about fifteen years turned before the Lady Regina summoned us to her, then, summer house just outside St Petersburg. Darla was in one of her usual snits and she an' Dru took off to the south of Italy for the winter at the invite of that trumped up ponce called the Immortal, so it was just me and 'Gelus in St Petersburg. Typical of her station in life her Ladyship had been turned by one of the Hapsburg mob, then took up with a cousin of the Tzarina. Royalty never really did mind the odd demon in the family. She still had a shine for me from way back when I was human, and, well even more after I was vamped apparently... anyway. That's about it for now, don't you reckon? Or was it, as you say, 'TMI' for that cute li'l noggin' 'o yours?"
"What? No! Thanks. Um... Wait, you think my nogging is cute... what the...?"
"Leave it you nit. My time for questions. How long have you known you were gay? Who was your first bloke? And do you fancy comin' as my Consort to that party Saturday?"
The bus pulled up to their Oxford stop and Spike was clambering out dragging Xander with him before the ex-Scoobie recovered enough from his shock to form even one answer.