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.
Over dinner, strictly speaking the short period of time Spike observed Xander wolf down a fine poached trout and salad, and deigned to share his dark chocolate flan and cream, Spike tried to answer the brunette’s most pressing question, the notion of being identified as ‘somewhat human’.
He had done his best to explain in terms of Mated status, though had his own suspicions that there was more, fueled by the reactions of both his old Oxford don and Marcus’ mage to Xander’s presence.
As he had said so forcefully in defense of his Mate, the ex Scooby’s ability to survive just about anything had been proven time and time again. His ‘demon magnet’ status seemed a permanent feature, as was the bravery and loyalty in adversity. Now that they were mated and all that made them was shared, there was so much more to Harris than he had ever thought possible… in anyone, demon or human. He was privy to the man’s nightmares as well as his deeper feelings and memories, but something just out of reach niggled. It was an under current of… something more… that seemed to tug and caress his demon and his soul in equal measure. It wasn’t a bad presence or whatever, quite the opposite, but it was somehow otherworldly and he felt like it was something he should recognize somehow… like an old memory just out of reach.
As they lay replete after yet another round of passionate, slow sex, he stared at the ceiling and gently caressed the wispy hair on his sleeping mate’s torso. Perhaps Anton might provide some answers, since he’d been around… forever, and was widely acknowledged to be the most highly educated individual on the planet – demon or otherwise – where matters spiritual and anything ‘other’ were concerned, and since they were headed his way, at least it was worth asking.
Satisfied with at least some way forward, he focused on his mate’s steady heart beat and slow breathing and joined him in slumber.
They rose late the next day, completed ablutions and breakfast in double quick time and headed off to the hospital where Franz’s personal physician and Xander’s surgeon were both on hand for a cursory check up. In reality Spike had made sure to bite over the mark left by the now dusted minion during the previous evening’s love making as Xander’s healing rate was now matching his own, so awkward explanations were kept to a minimum, though Franz’s doctor held back as the examination concluded and whispered a hearty ‘Congratulations on your Mating… Capital news!”
Their next stop was the bank. After some swift signature signing and general paperwork, a rather nervous Xander followed Spike and Daniel Groenwald down to the vaults. They stopped short by the Aurelian vault and Daniel provided his key, then politely took his leave.
Spike stood silently as the door swung open to what appeared to Xander to be a fair sized storage unit, a far cry from any safe deposit box he had ever seen. He had seen the pictures Spike had taken of some of the contents, so knew academically that there was a fair collection of valuable items to sort, but somehow the reality seemed rather overwhelming.
“Here we are pet… What do you think?” Spike reached back and pulled his ‘somewhat human’ inside the artificially lit space.
There was evidence of Spike’s careful sorting on his previous visit, with a number of ornate trunks and tea chests obviously recently opened, but the carefully stacked, antique, exquisite furniture was a surprise. He gingerly touched the edge of an intricately inlaid table and gave a low whistle of appreciation at the workmanship. Peering further back revealed some of the paintings he had seen in Spike’s photos, but many more were propped vertically in a large stack along the back wall. And there was a bureau with drawers obviously brimming with documents of some sort with two good sized, ornate jeweler’s travel boxes perched on top. It was this group of objects Spike led Xander to first.
“Now Pet, I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff so to speak, at least as far as this lot goes.” He indicated to the box on the left and opened it out so the drawers hinged back to show the contents. Xander gasped.
Every one of the ten flat, black velvet lined drawers was filled with jewelry of some description. Much of it obviously antique, and the vast majority set with precious stones of various colours and shapes. Xander noted that the top seven drawers were devoted to feminine items whilst the lower three had rings, tie pins and cuff links, plus the occasional neck chain of masculine sizes and designs.
“Spike this must be worth a fortune!”
“This lot is mostly bits ‘n pieces without provenance.” When Xander looked confused, Spike rolled his eyes then explained slowly, “Things that come from owners unknown… proof of backstory absent? History missin’? Come on Harris!” Spike was aware of something akin to shame leaking through the link and softened his tone immediately, “Ahh Luv, not your fault ‘Antiques Roadshow’ doesn’t spin your dial. Look, all I’m sayin’ is that it’ll all need valuin’ properly, by someone as knows their stuff, since I’m not even sure of the origin.
“Still, for what it’s worth, that’s the loot I thought we’d take to auction, not all at once mind, wouldn’t do to flood the market. Plan on usin’ Monty’s contacts at Christies ‘n Sotherby’s, that way we should see things offered at the best auctions over the next year or so, and find some good private collectors to boot, long ‘s we play our cards right. Now… if you see anything as catches your eye there pet, pick it up, otherwise I’d like us to look through the other case… I’ve put the more interestin’ pieces in there.”
With that he handed Xander a guilded Louis XIV parlor chair, placed his own alongside and proceeded to open the second case.
Xander chose a small gold tiepin dominated by a large emerald with diamond swirl design across its length and put it to one side then focused on the newly opened case. Under the fluorescent lighting the myriad of jewels seemed to shimmer and sparkle of their own accord, it was like nothing he had ever seen before.
He took some time to say anything, finally whispering, “Ghods Spike! I… Just… I…”
Spike snorted a laugh and kissed his partner on the cheek whilst squeezing the tense hand closest to him. “I second that opinion. Reckoned you’d like this lot. Each one has a story to tell an’ I’m the man to tell it, well most of it at least.” He picked up an enormous pearl hanging from a gold setting on a wide gold silk ribbon adorned with intricate patterns of Chinese origin. Holding it up for a moment and letting swing, he gave a rueful smile, “This was from a fat Qing official’s place. Dru wore it all the way across India after the Boxer Rebellion, said the robin that laid it was singing to her.” He laid it carefully back onto the tray and picked up a carved ivory hair comb inlaid with emeralds, rubies and mother of pearl, “And this was from maharajah Daulat Singh of Idar’s second wife for… ‘services rendered’.”
Xander turned to his lover as a small jolt of arousal pushed through their link, his reply was a naughty grin and raised scarred eyebrow, then faux offended, “Oi what? She was gorgeous, more than willin’, and what’s a nibble between friends if everyone’s happy after!” Xander smiled and shook his head, and they proceeded to examine each precious piece with accompanying tale of origin. Most stories were matter of fact regards location and prior owner, some were amusing, but just occasionally Spike would look saddened by a piece.
When a hand embroidered silk handkerchief was unfolded to reveal a tiny child’s gold bracelet and good number of faceted diamonds, Spike’s unneeded breath hitched and Xander looked at his lover with concern. This time he reached out, drew the vampire’s hand away from the collection and squeezed it, “You don’t have to tell me everything.”
“No pet, but… it helps, you know?”
Xander nodded, replied quietly, “Yeah.” And waited.
“Middle of the war, Czechoslovakia, during the Reich rubbish. Jewish were bein’ rounded up, men shot on the spot. She’d been raped, repeatedly from what I could tell, tied up to a beam in their house ‘n the bastards were still in the area, reckon they were keepin’ her for a second go. Dru was off somewhere eatin’ her fill. Name was Rachel, she… she begged me to end it for her. Her family were all dead, soldiers even slit ‘er little un’s throat right there in front of her afore they took their pleasure. She… she paid me to end it for her, pointed to a hidey hole with this lot in it… and paid me to finish ‘er.” Spike’s voice was barely above a whisper as he finished the story, “I did it all gentle like. Held her like a lover and… She was so starved and injured, was barely a mouthful before her heart gave out. Lay her out all respectful like, took this lot an’ set fire to the house… and me, supposed to be without a soul…”
Xander kissed the back of the hand he held, then Spike’s cheek for good measure and whispered, “I know.”
They sat for some time in silence, allowing upsetting memories and comfort to flow back and forth through the link. It was important, not so much a healing of old wounds but an acceptance of sorts. Acknowledgment of things they could not change, an understanding of circumstances beyond their control and actions at the time, admissions of guilt and permission to grieve. It was as cathartic as it was unexpected in the circumstances.
Spike eventually pulled his partner away from the table and onto the end of a brocaded chaise lounge where they leaned back in a comforting tangle of limbs. Xander knew he was crying and felt Spike’s tears also as he exposed his neck and pushed closer to his master vampire, “Please drink sweetheart, please… I need…”
Spike’s gameface came more slowly than usual, and Xander felt an extraordinarily odd sensation in his mouth. As Spike’s fangs penetrated his skin, he had an overwhelming need to do the same to the vampire, sliding elongated incisors into the pale neck and biting down. The act that began as one of love and sharing had them panting and aroused beyond measure as blood flowed both ways. They slid to the floor, struggled to remove inconvenient clothing and were joined face to face seconds later, Spike penetrating his willing mate and both finding their bite marks to renew the connection. Need drove the none too gentle act that had them both climaxing almost painfully hard and in a wanton, panting heap on the floor of the vault.
Fangs retracted without conscious thought and Xander sat up wide-eyed at the sight of Spike’s very definite, still slightly bloody bite mark. “F$%# Spike?!”
The vampire smiled and gave a satisfied sigh from his prone position, “Yup, reckon that’s what that was luv. And a bloody spectacular one I’d say.” He grinned all the more and reached out to stroke Xander’s nude torso, “Hmm… must admit, never thought a vault could be so interestin’ from this angle, present company an’ all that.” He angled his body up and kissed the side he had just caressed then flopped back down, arms akimbo, but Xander had not moved. Instead he had a finger to his mouth and was feeling along his teeth.
“No I mean… I bit you!”
Spike lazily replied from the floor, “That you did pet, and a mighty nice bite it was too.”
“No, I mean, I bit you with real fangs! Spike I’ve got proper fangs, as in… but that makes no sense as in, not at all of the sensible. I mean, how can I have fangs without the whole bumpies creature of the night, turned type thing?”
This time it was Spike who sat up with a start. “What? You couldn’t have… Show me luv… can you… you know?”
Xander concentrated hard, tried frowning then growling (which caused his lover burst out laughing and didn’t help), made fists and took some great whooping breaths, all to no avail. In the end he stood in frustration dragging Spike with him and began to angrily dress, mumbling, “Ridiculous, stupid… can’t even…”
Spike pulled him to a halt just as he pulled his belt one notch too tight, “Stop for a sec pet. Just calm, yeah?” Xander paused and turned until their bare chests were almost touching. Spike stroked over where a pretty eye had once been and down the handsome face then growled low, “Want you to bite me lover… Want you to taste and savor, take me in and share what is yours by right… Want my blood in you… now pet… now… do it Xan…”
Spike hugged his lover close and licked over the claim mark on the man’s neck, exposing his own, and waited.
This time, when it happened, Xander was fully aware of the change. He felt the teeth almost pierce his lower lip, noted altered vision and more acute hearing, and embraced the overwhelming urge to bite. They both groaned as yet another exchange of blood occurred, this time, however the result was less… carnal but no less satisfying as wounds were licked and they both calmed then finished dressing, both pondering the implications of the discovery.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent systematically sorting items to be valued and sold in the near future, pieces that would be kept for sentimental value or for a ‘rainy day’, and larger artworks and furniture items that would stay and might, one day, grace their home. It was the latter grouping that had them both in a lighter mood as they finished up and called for Daniel to arrange the valuation meetings. They had a future together, even a home base to plan. It was a nice thought.