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.
Xander sat fidgeting in his seat, adjusting his new back satin eye patch for the fifth time.
“You look fine pet. More than truth be known.”
“I just… I mean, shouldn’t I be wearing something that says I’m your Mate or something.”
“What are you suggesting pet? Ring? Tattoo on your forehead? Or collar perhaps?” The vampire smiled easily and waggled a cheeky eyebrow at his human, who rolled his good eye in return.
“No, of course not. It’s just… you know…”
“You’ll be fine luv. This meetin’ ‘s just a courtesy. Let ol’ Marcus know that some of his minions got out of hand whilst he was away, an’ we had to dust ‘em, savin’ him the trouble. He’ll want to know – like I would – who is behind it, if anyone, and why they might be messin’ with the good folks like Franz as keeps his household in blood and supplies, that’s all.”
Xander was about to say something when an elegantly dressed older gent and entourage entered the Rive Gauche Terrace and was pointed in their direction by the helpful maître de.
Spike stood as the group approached and, despite his usual outward appearance of casual confidence, Xander felt an extraordinary level of tension and excitation through the link. Spike was ready for anything and he realized, perhaps for the first time, just how dangerous his vampire had actually been when they were back in Sunnydale, and how extraordinarily well Spike masked his true emotions. It was a point to ponder at a later time – and to discuss with his the blonde - as he struggled to remain as outwardly calm as his Master vampire.
Two of Master Marcus’ group held back and Xander noted them taking a position at the elegant bar while the tall, silver haired Marcus and three others continued the low glass table and comfortable chairs as directed.
Spike stepped forward, Xander noting that it was an act that shielded him from any possible threat, but to the casual observer, nothing more than a natural, polite move to welcome their guests.
“Master Marcus. Thank you for coming, I see you’ve brought company. Gentlemen.”
The older-looking gent nodded and, Xander noted, did not extend his hand or make any other gesture of greeting. “Master William. May I introduce my Childer, Andreas and Stefan, and my mage, Kristof. I see you have a second present also.”
Spike shifted slightly to allow Xander to be in full view of the group, though still half a step behind. The two childer could have been brothers. The two hazel eyed blondes were both were around the same height and build as Marcus, who at six feet something and muscular, made him feel like the class wimp but the still shorter Spike seemed unperturbed. He turned and took the human’s hand as he said, “This is Alexander, my fully Mated Consort.” Spike noted the sideways glances of the two Childer, and the assumed air of disinterest on the part of the Master and his mage, information for later. He waved toward the chairs opposite, “Can we offer you gents a drink?”
All present took their seats, the waiter was summoned and orders taken, with the instruction to put it all on the Aurelian tab – including drinks for the two at the bar, a gesture not lost on Marcus.
Spike did not break the silence that followed, merely lounged back in his chair and idly reached for Xander’s hand, which was dutifully accepted, as they waited for their drinks to arrive. Xander reached out to Spike through their link and found a residual level of caution present but also an older feeling, one that somehow equated to calm superiority. He squeezed Spike’s hand and looked quizzically at his partner, who smiled enigmatically back at him but continued to say nothing.
The drinks arrived and were duly distributed. Master Marcus took his large cognac and sipped it once, before relaxing back and resting the glass on the arm of his chair. “I felt it necessary to thank you in person Master William, as I was rather suspicious the caller had used your cognomen as I was under the distinct impression that the Aurelian line had gone the way of so many of the great houses and been wiped out. I see now that my sources are sorely mistaken.”
Xander noticed the mage taking a particularly large swig of his drink at the statement.
“Of course this is good news. I cannot abide interlopers, of which I might add, we have had a number over the years, particularly those claiming allegiance to the courts of old Russia and the Czech republic. Some of course were genuine, but tenuous and generally minions seeking refuge. We absorbed those who were useful and ‘redirected’ the rest. It is important to the Swiss cantons that we keep our lines pure as I am sure you appreciate. Protecting our bloodlines and borders has always been something we are extremely proud of.” Marcus’ smile accompanying the last statement failed to reach his eyes and Xander began to understand Spike’s reluctance to deal with the Swiss courts.
Spike’s reply was measured and deliberately off hand, “The Aurelian line may be reduced in number but we still adhere to common courtesy, Master Marcus. My Mate and I are here on a business trip, and would have had no need to interrupt your conference but that we happened to be attacked, as I explained on the phone. It was common courtesy to alert you to the actions of some of your servants whilst you were away, since it seems those attacked are on good terms with your household, as are other groups who claim to have been similarly targeted and with whom you have business arrangements. Rules of the old courts dictate Alexander and I should at least make ourselves known in case we had happened upon a bigger plan to discredit your household in your absence. Seems as though those blokes of yours had hooked up with some pretty unsavory humans.”
Marcus looked slightly bemused by the last statement, “Ahh, yes. Well the white supremacist groups here in Zurich have had somewhat of a resurgence of late. Not always a bad thing as far as my court is concerned. We always need canon fodder and a number of their more violent members have proven quite useful in the past. The group you encountered were probably just enjoying the company of old… colleagues.”
There was definitely anger in the link but Xander schooled his expression, as Spike did, to be completely neutral and took a long draft of his strong German beer. Spike toyed with his glass for a moment, considering his reply. “That may well be, must say we were a little surprised that they seemed to have it in for your food supply. Would have thought Franz and co. would have a free pass, not least as they were singing your praises for keeping the status quo where demons are concerned.”
“Yes well… We have had some trouble with itinerants from time to time, nothing serious of course. We prefer a firm but fair hand with local demons, and a very strict policy regards the refugee riff raff – all blacks, infidels and gypsies, particularly from the south, none of pure bloodlines of course. Our rules are no more strict than the human laws for this country, just enforced a little more ‘enthusiastically’, let’s say.” The last statement was accompanied by a cruel smirk and flash of yellow eyes before Marcus again seemed to revert to his businesslike demeanor. “You may be assured there will be no more problems in the warehouse district and dietary supplements whilst you are in Zurich are quite safe... Now let us speak of your nuptials… I take it your Sire approves?”
Xander felt like raw wound had been poked as a spike of anguish flowed unchecked through the link. He struggled not to react physically but did manage to squeeze his partner’s hand and was relieved to see Spike smile in his direction, he knew in thanks, their audience would see it as merely a sign of affection.
The answer was succinct and formal, “Master Marcus, my true Sire, Angelus, is no longer with us. He dusted in battle taking on a dragon single-handed. He won as far as I can tell, but paid the ultimate price. Grandsire Darla is dust a few years back, and Drusilla was somewhere in South America the last I heard. We’ve not been together for some years now, and she was never one… for tradition.”
Master Marcus looked surprised and somewhat pleased at the statement, then swiftly switched to a concerned expression of an older relative, “Master William, I am saddened to learn of your loss. Angelus was a terror to behold, and it seems the various stories of his whereabouts and ensouling are highly fanciful if what you say is true. Darla is a great loss also, of course, but I am surprised that you and your paramour parted ways. I seem to remember you two visiting my Sire’s court in Bern in the fifty’s wasn’t it? I was just turned… A fine time was had by all as I recall! And Drusilla? What a vision of cruel loveliness, so deliciously unpredictable and deadly to a fault. Still, it is important to strike out on your own no doubt. I’m sure you will unite the clan eventually, and what a surprise it will be when they find you have mated with a human…”
Xander felt an uncomfortable prickle like ants crawling under his skin, and recognized it as magic. He followed the feeling rather than fighting it and trained his good eye on its source. Kristof cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in his seat like a schoolboy caught cheating on a test. Nevertheless the mage nodded knowingly at Master Marcus who replied likewise and continued “… of sorts. I can see the attraction despite his impediment. I take it he lost the eye in battle?”
Spike’s ire was up as he too had detected the spell being cast, but knew better than to call the other vampire out, so calmly replied, “My Consort, now Mate, was born and bred on the Hellmouth. He’s been possessed by a primal and survived; ran with the Slayer for years; faced down Angelus and lived; partnered with the vengeance demon Anyanka; and lost his eye fighting The First and it’s lackeys in the fall of Sunnydale. Since then he’s been in more war zones than Master Micah of Byzantium. As to his more obvious attributes… that’s strictly family business. And forgive me for being impolite, but I would ask that you keep your mage in check, we are meeting as a friendly courtesy, not intrigue.”
“Of course, of course… my apologies. It is merely a precaution, and you must forgive my curiosity.” Master Marcus looked hard at Xander, as if trying to reconcile the casually dressed, rather handsome brunette human with the other Master’s descriptors. In the end he decided to validate the information at a later date through his own sources, and decided to turn matters back to business, “I take it your return to Europe this time is to further your interests here? I had heard from my sources that you and the Immortal had some joint investments.” He immediately held up his drink as for a toast. “I congratulate you there. The Immortal is not one to be trifled with, his tendrils of influence go long and deep. We, of course, are on good terms as I am sure you know.”
Spike knew Master Marcus was fishing for clues, but chose to simply return the toast and keep silent, so Marcus finished his drink in one gulp and put the glass down resolutely. “Well this has been most pleasant, but we must take our leave. When you are next in our city I must insist you accept my hospitality. My chalet is a little way out of town but the view are spectacular, and I am sure you and your Mate Alexander will be warmly welcomed at court.”
The group stood, as did Xander and Spike, and with no more adieu the Master and his followers swept out.
Spike turned to the brunette and pulled him into a passionate kiss, leaving Xander half hard and rather dazed, “What was that for?”
“Just you, pet… Just remindin’ you how bloody precious you are, and me how lucky I am to be away from all that rot. Bloody trumped up ex Nazi sympathizer and his little lackies. Still… could’ve been worse. Thank Ghod ‘is Sire was offed in Cyprus during the sixty seven invasion. ‘S what you get for meddlin’ in race politics ‘n chasin’ other people’s wars.”
At Xander’s rather shocked expression and sudden jolt of guilt through the link, Spike stopped short and grabbed his Mate’s hand, “Not you, you daft git. Nothin’ like what you were doin’. No savin’ souls or mendin’ bodies… Ahh s#$t Xan… Just forget it OK? Let’s have another drink, an’ get you fed proper. Tomorrow’s a big day. Got us a doc to see for you then we’ll sort the finances an’ head out for Anton’s.”
As they made their way to a table in the restaurant for supper Xander suddenly remembered something that had been bothering him, “What did Marcus mean ‘human - of sorts’?”