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.
Spike took a long draft of his blood and carried the mug with him as he made his way around the small kitchen island, closing the distance between himself and Xander who was now standing with his hands on his hips looking at once incredulous and a little fearful.
“I said Consort pet.”
“I know you said ‘Consort’, but if that means what I think it does, I’m not sure I qualify – apart from anything else, I read all those weird watcher books back in Sunnydale! And I’m telling you for nothing now, I not eating bugs or wearing a collar ‘cause you say so. And anyway why is me going as a Consort that important? Whose party is it? Some vampire royalty thingy from ye olde days? Or, those demon business partners from LA? Or, just some weird human cult gathering? And why are you, well us, invited again? I mean you said we need to dress up, I mean nice clothes and stuff so…”
“Bloody well breathe Harris, before you have an aneurism!” The statement had no heat in it but had the desired effect. Spike finished his snack and placed the cup carefully on the bench and moved to take Xander’s hand. When it was refused he put his own up in surrender, walked past the annoyed human and flung himself down on the lounge suite. He patted the spot beside him, “Come ‘n sit down luv. Was gonna wait for a bit before we talked all this out, but needs must an’ all that.”
Xander sat down, his shoulders still tense, but allowing Spike to take the hand closest in his pale one, squeeze it reassuringly and meeting the calm blue eyes with a worried brown one.
“Right, now we’re sitting comfortably I’m gonna ask you to just listen for a bit pet. This may not all come out right, but bear with me yeah? Vamp to human friend, comrades ‘n lovers ‘n all that.”
Xander relaxed ever so slightly, “Yeah, OK.”
“First… Party is bein’ thrown by Lady Regina, socialite, old money and before you ask, yes, vampire. Lot of folks in those circles either don’t know or care less. She’s connected up the whazoo as far as the aristocracy an’ rulin’ classes are concerned, an’ got her fingers in all sorts of pies where the ‘New’ moneyed lot are concerned. Got herself business interests right across the continent and some in Asia, like I said, old money well managed.
“She never liked ‘Gelus or the Aurelian lot much but had time for Dru ‘n me, well me particularly I suppose. See I had the ‘breeding’ as a human, knew all the manners an’ such, plus actually had an education, and could use it. Dru loved dressing up, is a right looker, and fitted in perfectly with her fragile mental state and eccentric ways.
Spike stared off into the distance for a time obviously remembering with a period of time (or three) with measure of bemused fondness. “Lady Regina always did fancy that she had a finger ‘on the pulse’ as far as demon society was concerned and had the typical socialite ability to swan around with the human upper crust as well. Money talks after all, and a title always helps. She’s been bloody useful at times ‘specially after I was turned, an’ I’ve managed to help her out a time or two, not so much lately obviously.”
Xander’s worry was still present, but he seemed more intrigued by the discussion of the past than terrified now. “So that’s how she knew you were in town? You know, the flowers and invitation? I mean, we still don’t really know who told her right?”
“Not really worried about that rot.”
Xander snorted in abject disbelief, “Not worried?! You were all for ripping off the head of Sahil at the off license, if I’m not mistaken!”
“Yeah well, didn’t though, did I… Still gonna have words with the little piss-ant. Not his place to go tattling on ‘is betters, any which way you look at it.”
“OK… whatever… Can we get back to the consort thing?” Spike couldn’t help notice Xander’s hand drifting unconsciously to the obvious bite mark on his neck, rubbing it gingerly then groaning as a spark of excitement seemed to ignite a path from the healing wound all the way to his groin. Spike’s free hand made a reciprocal gesture with much the same result.
“What about it, pet? That you are coming with me as my Consort? Well yes. That you are my Consort? To the outside demon world, that’s most likely, at least for now. They’ll see my mark on you and yours on me tomorrow night. We’ll (hopefully if you still want me) smell of each other, unless this morning was a once off and you’ve gone off me already.”
“What? No! Of course not! It’s just… what do you mean ‘at least for now’?”
“Listen Luv, don’t know what you read in those ol’ Watcher books, but a Consort is a partner in everything, Claimant and Claimer. They have status in vampire society if a Master Vampire is involved. But it doesn’t just happen with a nibble on the neck in the throws of passion, it’s a marriage of mind, body and spirit, fully consensual, and binding for all time. Has consequences too, good and bad for both concerned. Not somethin’ I would want to, or could for that matter, foist on you without warnin’.”
Xander took time to process the information. “So it’s not just the biting during sex?”
“Bloody hell no, but it is part of the whole process, an’ a very nice part of it at that.” Spike paused and rubbed his mark again. Xander did likewise.
“And people will think we’re together like that at this party, you know, sort of married or something.”
“Guess you could say it’s like a marriage if you want to use that term… but it’s so much more than that. Anyway for this weekend that’s what the crowd’s expectin’ so it’s what they’ll see. And I’ll be proud to have you on my arm pet.”
Xander stared at their joined hands and seemed to contemplate the words for a time, then looked up almost pained. “But you… Spike you wouldn’t want me as your Consort… not really, would you? I mean you’ve been so… well… caring and thoughtful, and treating me like I’m not some sort of freak and then with the amazing… you know, this morning, so I had, you know, kind of hoped… Anyway it’s OK, I guess, if you don’t, ‘cause I really am still… OK probably was and now more so… a total screw up, damaged goods! Like they said at the hospital, it’s my stupid self projecting again… anyway, we’ve kind of only just… and you’re so… Gahh you are so gorgeous and smart and heroic… There’s just no way…” Xander made to pull away but was held fast then pulled toward the vampire where his lips were met by a determined, passionate kiss before he was pushed onto his back, pinned against the couch by a cool
“Right, you finished? Now, not another word from you ‘til I’ve had my say good an’ proper. First, and for the record, never said I didn’t want you as my Consort. And it’ll have to be the whole deal. ‘S somethin’ any self respectin’ Master Vampire has to have, standard status symbol like. Second, I’m a romantic, love’s bitch through and through, fall deep and true and I crave that sort of devotion in return. Third, you are so far from the ‘F*%$ up you keep sayin’ it’s not funny. You’re brave and handsome, and generous and funny, and don’t make me go on ‘cause it’s a bloody long list, and I refuse to start spoutin’ poetry. Let’s just leave it with you’re a right marvel in the sack.
“Now as for me wantin’ to join with you in everything – Master Vamp ‘n Consort goes both ways – I need to know that you want me like that, Harris. Me with all me flaws ‘n foibles, history and hurt, soul an’ demon, man and vampire – and the way I see it, that’s a pretty big ask, yeah? No one has ever come close to wantin’ me like that, not really. Would need you to be positive, for you to know in your gut, that it was right, because there’s no goin’ back.
“Getting married as a human is different see, as much as they put it in writin’, exchange rings ‘n throw a big wedding do is part of it, it’s not binding. Not like Consort and Master – that’s forever literally until death. One dies, the other does too. Hardship happens it’s shared, just like the good times. There’ll be a cravin’, physical and mental, a need to feel connected that goes beyond what you’ve ever known, not in a bad way unless the other is threatened mind.
“I like what we have now, and the promise of more to come gives me tingles in all the right places, but I reckon we let it grow deeper, really let it happen naturally, I won’t pressure you. No need to rush it just for some bloody party. An’ though I’m short in the patience department, I’ve got time, we’ve got time, to get it right. Question really seems to be - do you want me that way? All of me, for all time? You want us to try for that? You willin’ to have me? An’ before you go a babblin’ again, I’m not expectin’ an immediate yes. Just a willingness to try and let happen.”
Spike finally sat back but Xander followed him up, leaning in to give Spike a swift, chaste kiss. “Thanks, and yes I do want that, the full package, you… I think… but waiting… waiting and wanting is of the good. You’re sure though – you know – that it’ll be OK to kind of pretend at the party?”
Spike smiled almost conspiratorially, “It’s not pretendin’ if we intend to do it eventually now is it? An’ we’ve already made a good start. Don’t mean we can’t ham it up for the crowd though… could ruffle a few feathers, it’d be fun. Anyway we’ll worry about that anon. We all square for now?” He received a sincere nod in reply. “So why don’t you go get changed and we can head out for a bite to eat and maybe find a pub or some such, we can a bit of a clothes shop tomorrow.”
Bags were put into their respective bedrooms and both were down the stairs and out into the street in a matter of minutes. Stopping only briefly for Spike to check their locked letterbox in the small lobby.
Xander was rather surprised that the vampire sorted quickly through the few envelopes, took the two apparently addressed to him, and replaced the rest for collection when they returned. As they walked through the back streets toward the main road, Xander’s curiosity got the best of him. “So who’s sending you mail, Spike? I mean we’ve only just sort of got here.”
“Montague, the banker I met with when you were swanin’ around the Museum solo, promised to fix me up with a couple of things, fast track finances ready for Zurich and such. If I’m not mistaken one of ‘em is a new credit card from the bank so we can sort things day to day. The other’s probably the introduction letter to one of ‘is mates over there he promised, smooth things along when it comes to identification, no questions, that sort of thing.”
Xander slowed his progress as he stared in surprise at the vampire’s handsome profile in the waning afternoon light. “I… that’s of the good… isn’t it?”
Spike turned and gave his friend a blinding, genuine smile, “Bloody brilliant actually. An’ when we sort things at Credit Suisse it’ll be even better pet. Need to liberate a few bits ‘n bobs, sort the funds an’ start treatin’ you to the way I hope you’ll be accustomed yeah?”
No further questions marred their evening, other than trivial ones regarding preferred foods and queries centered around which pub had the best local boutique beers, the latter resulting in an impromptu pub crawl. Xander was slightly tipsy by the time the evening was drawing to a close, but not so much that he missed the slight change in mood as they approached Sahil’s off-license to pickup Spike’s supply of blood.
Sahil was his usual effusive self, immediately rushing around the counter to greet them and bowing deeply to first Spike then Xander in turn. “Master William! Esteemed Mr Alex! I have your order ready, very fresh today. Is there anything else I can help you with while you are here?”
Spike looked over to a rather bemused Xander and winked, “Think my consort might like a few treats. Go pick up what you want pet, sure Sahil will be happy to deliver whatever you don’t choose to carry home.” He quirked his eyebrow at Sahil, “Of course Master William. I am always happy to serve.”
Xander wandered the small shop, selecting some fruit, bread and variety snacks, and adding a six pack of beer, some bottles of juice, milk, pack of breakfast cereal, and finally a selection of teas. Spike added to the pile with a large bottle of single malt scotch and couple of packets of cigarettes. Tearing open the envelope containing his new platinum credit card, he reached over the counter, snatched a pen and signed the back, before handing said item over to Sahil.
“Charge it will you mate, an’ set us up with a proper account here, will you. Plan on bein’ around for a bit, ‘n don’t do small change if I can help it.”
“Yes Master William, of course! It will be an honor to have your custom.”
As the small dark man fussed behind the counter momentarily, three small shy faces peered around the curtain shielding the rooms at the back of the shop. A child’s voice ventured, “Papa? Can we please…?”
Sahil shot a worried look in Spike’s direction. The vampire didn’t respond, simply standing arms folded until three young children moved silently into the shop and stood as close to their father, tops of heads barely reaching the height of the counter. Their faces were trained in wonder on Spike. Sahil had been frozen for a moment, but swiftly finished what he was doing and pushed the children into a line in front of him directing them urgently to bow with a “Manners! Remember what I taught you.”
The tallest of the three, a pretty dark girl dressed in a sari and gold jewelry stepped forward and bowed low. Her siblings did likewise and they all intone in singsong fashion “Honored to meet you Master William and esstream Mr Alex.”
Xander smiled at the three and nudged Spike’s arm at which Spike seemed to warm to the scene, “Thank you children, you do your family proud with such a lovely greeting. My mate Alex ‘n I are pleased to make your acquaintance, and you are?”
One of the two (obviously twin) boys piped up enthusiastically, “I’m Raj and this is Emil and my sister is Rhani, and Grandma wants to meet you too but she’s a bit scared ‘cause she says you are a really powerful Master Vampire. But I can go get her if you…” He was stopped by a low growl from Sahil whose eyes flashed to their reptilian form momentarily. “Raj! Hush!”
The boy looked up pleadingly, “But Papa! I know she really wants to meet Master William and his esstream.” The boy looked back to Spike, “It would be alright if she meets you wouldn’t it Master William? She’d be ever so pleased.”
Xander was still trying to reconcile the very Londoner accent with the size and ethnicity (or ‘somewhat human’) status of the shop owner and his children, when an ancient woman appeared through the curtains leaning heavily on her walking stick and shuffling to stand beside her grandson. She made an effort to bow and would have tipped too far forward had she not been for her stick and the counter beside her. Her voice was thin and heavily accented, “Master William and your Esteemed Consort Alexander. Welcome back to London. I trust Sahil is catering to your needs.”
It was Spike’s turn to look surprised as he recognized the face. He moved around the counter, took the slim wrinkled hand in his own cold pale one, gave a formal shallow bow and kissed the middle finger of the hand lightly, “Sushri Manjit. It has been many years, your family does you honor.”
The old woman beamed and seemed to lose years in age as her eyes flashed to deep green and her glamor dropped. All in the small shop seemed to relax as the old woman chuckled, “Master William, you are as charming as ever. Thank you. Now you do remember that promise I made you? I expect you will collect on it sooner rather than later.”
“Indeed. You are as ever, wise in such matters.” The two exchanged a conspiratorial wink and looked pointedly at Xander who was left to puzzle exactly what kind of promise was to be kept.
Loaded up with enough supplies to see them through until morning and with a promise that the remainder would be delivered promptly at ten the next day, they departed for the short walk to their apartment.
The mail which had been left behind earlier (all addressed to Giles or ‘the Householder’) was collected as they passed through the lobby. Upon entering the apartment, the pair packed away their groceries in relative silence. Spike heated up some blood and read the second of his own letters while Xander made himself a late night sandwich, poured a juice and fired up his computer to scan emails whilst he ate.
He read through notes from Giles and Willow, frowning at the innuendo of concern for his wellbeing and encouraging him to exercise all caution considering his delicate state. They were well meaning, but he did not really identify the person they referred to as that man anymore. He noted a couple of emails from members of the coven informing him of domestic goings on there and reflected on how his life had altered in one very short week, and it was about to change more and quickly, he suspected.
He avoided answering any of them but resolved to call the coven in the morning just to put people there at ease and reassure them that he was being well looked after and enjoying himself. It wasn’t the time to reply at present, he was tired and would make little sense if tackling the task at such a late hour. It was nice to be worried about in a strange sort of way, but at the same time Xander wished they wouldn’t, though with his recent history of difficulties, there was little that could be done to alleviate their concern, other than to ask for space – and get and remain well.
Spike saw the frown and tense profile as he passed the lounge Xander was perched on and wandered up the stairs to the balcony for a cigarette. He had barely put the lit cigarette to his lips before Xander joined him in the night air and stared across the little darkened park opposite their block.
They stood companionably until Spike put out the spent butt and flicked it into the night. “Don’t know about you pet, but I’m ready for some shut eye. Big day tomorrow and fancy we’ll both need to be in top form.”
They wandered back inside and parted company with a chaste kiss goodnight. Xander changed into his sleeping sweats and was busy cleaning his teeth when he heard a frustrated growl and louder cursing coming from Spike’s bedroom. He rinsed out quickly then gingerly pushed open the door from the bathroom to Spike’s room. “Are you OK?”
Spike was obviously nude and reclining in the bed reaching for the light switch, but stopped abruptly to look sheepishly at his friend. “Sorry ‘bout that. Forgot to turn on the electric blanket is all. Hate getting’ into cold sheets if I don’t have to.”
Xander stifled a snort of laughter. Spike’s hair was obviously ruffled and the image was one of a small, annoyed boy unable to settle in the middle of an enormous bed. He stared for a moment longer then seemed to decide something, promptly flicking off the lights of his bedroom and the bathroom and marching directly across to the disgruntled vampire.
“Well, scooch over. Least I can do is lend some body heat for a while, that is if you think it would help.”
To his amusement, the blonde looked momentarily stunned and sat motionless and wide eyed as Xander moved to the bedside and promptly joined him under the covers.
“ You sure about this Harris? Not lookin’ a gift horse in the mouth mind… just…”
“Well, like you said we both need sleep, and I figure this way at least I won’t hear you complaining all night. Just keep the naughty touching to a minimum and we’re good.”
Spike smiled broadly and snuggled down beside him, flicking the side lamp off as he did so. “Right. Just so we’re clear, much as I’d like to pin you to the mattress and have me way with you, I really am ready for some shut eye Mind you wouldn’t mind a bit of a snog an’ a cuddle with my favorite boy… for soporific purposes only of course.”
“Whatever… Come here.” Xander reached over and was met half way in the dark, fully aware that Spike could see him clearly despite the lack of light. The kiss was passionate as they intertwined limbs, but it went no further and they both sighed contentedly as sleep took first Xander then the body and soul warmed Spike. The new day would bring challenges, for now this was just… right.