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.
Before Xander could finish the thought, Spike’s hand had an iron grip around his wrist, preventing any further action.
“No Xan. Not ‘til we’re ready. Let it run through to the keeper. ‘E c’n leave a message like anyone else.”
“Do you really want, or need, to talk to him? Some pressin’ issue only he c’n resolve?” Spike released Xander’s wrist as his Mate shook his head and the phone stopped ringing. “He’ll leave a message Pet.”
Xander smiled weakly then took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Yeah, it’s fine. I guess just kind of… So much has changed in such a short time, I guess I just want to move on from the stuff that went on back there, and I’m not sure how to tell him… you know.”
Spike leaned over and kissed his Mate chastely on the cheek, “Yeah I know.”
Anton had taken the opportunity to stand and give the pair a little space, and was standing a little distance away smoking a cigarette and staring at the bright moon.
Spike squeezed Xander’s hand once and nodded at the Immortal. They both sensed that the night had been more than a little emotional for the ancient being who, for all his good-natured company and calm demeanour over the last week, also carried a burden of loneliness and was unused to exposing his inner thoughts and emotions. The level of trust shown toward them was extraordinary. Anton had been willing to share his past and expose his vulnerability to them, and conveyed his deep need for love and belonging.
Still holding his partner’s hand Spike led them toward the man, sidled up behind him and took a risk. Releasing Xander, he moved to stand beside their Sire to be and slid an arm around his waist, taking him in a one armed hug. Xander flanked him on the right and did the same. Anton’s initial reaction was to stiffen with surprise, then relaxed, flicked his cigarette butt away and flung an arm over each man’s shoulder.
They stood together in silence for a time before Anton pulled them a little closer and kissed each man on the hair in turn.
“Come. It has been a long night. Let us repair to the lounge for a coffee and nightcap. We can finalize the details of your ceremony and so on tomorrow.”
Late morning a laughing Spike was literally chased outside to greet Anton in their usual breakfast spot by a decidedly underdressed Xander. Spike raced around the Immortal’s side of the table, waved an item of clothing in Xander’s direction and play-taunted, “Only if you catch me!”
Xander gave his older soon to be relative a begging look, receiving a shrug and nonchalant, “I wouldn’t dream of coming between two lovers this early in the day,” for his trouble.
“Right… well…That’s it! Give me my pants Spike!” Xander lunged one way then the other, only to miss on the third time when the vampire launched himself at the balustrade atop the terrace to the orchard, vaulted over and continued at speed into the distance.
The boxer clad Xander let out a mildly frustrated humph and sat down, defeated but smiling, opposite Anton.
Anton grinned wickedly, nodded in the direction Spike had gone, and simply commented, “You know the view is rather lovely from those trees.”
A still rather out of breath Xander said, “Is it now?” then took off again to find his errant partner.
Some hour or so later, two rather disheveled, happy individuals wandered hand in hand back toward the house.
Anton was reading as they approached the rotunda for the second time that morning, but looked up and smiled at the pair. “So, you enjoyed our fine scenery I see.”
Spike gave the Immortal’s muscular shoulder a squeeze as he moved past to his seat, the act eliciting a surprised smile from their handsome host, and replied, “None finer mate. Worked up a right appetite.”
Xander sat a little gingerly and went a pretty shade of pink at Anton’s knowing wink.
The remainder of the day was like any other in the preceding week but for one profound difference, Anton. Something seemed to have shifted for the ancient being. He seemed lighter, happier somehow. At every opportunity he engaged both his guests in easy conversation, lacking the slight distantness that seemed to have been there before, though not noticed until absent. The familiarity was comfortable and reciprocated, even to the point of an occasional friendly touch, something Anton not engaged in at all until the ‘confessional night’ (as it would later become affectionately known).
The majority of the afternoon was spent arranging the coming formal mating with the date fixed for the Wednesday evening hence (ten days away) on the night of a red moon, a lunar eclipse and the first in Florence for thirty two years.
A small guest list had been drawn up for the actual ceremony, but more for the all important reception after the fact, the list was by necessity, much longer. Connor, the Immortal, the Mage Elder Luciano, four Master Vampires (one from each of the most powerful and old Courts – the Far East, Northern Europe, North America and North Africa), the High Mistress of the European Covens, the Queen of the Fae European Imperial Enclave, and the human UN Attache for Other Worldly Affairs were the eight to be present along with the happy couple and Connor and the Immortal. Sadly Drusilla had not be located, though the Immortal had tried, and so went uninvited.
Members of the entourages of the dignitaries present at the ceremony, plus numerous others were to be at the reception, including D’Hoffran and Anya, which was a nice touch. It was decided to extend the invitation list to include Buffy, Giles and Willow, though only after some serious deliberation on the part of the happy couple. It was deemed that Xander’s parents, like Connor’s adoptive parents and sisters, should visit at a later date and enjoy a quiet private celebration in the context of a European holiday.
Connor’s visit to Florence was arranged and passage organized, and via Email was able to confirm that his two sisters would join him a week later for a short summer vacation in Italy at Spike’s expense. In a separate Email from Connor’s parents they convey their immense shock and gratitude as they were informed (via Connor) that their family wealth would almost doubled, courtesy of a most unexpected gift of funds from their adoptive son’s relative and charming friend, William.
After some coaxing from both the Immortal and Spike, Xander had decided to tell his parents of his and Spike’s partnership in a long overdue phone call that afternoon. But first there was the return call to Giles to make.
Xander was on the sunny portico, sitting hand in hand with Spike as he hit two on his speed dial.
It rang twice before a familiar voice answered, “Rupert Giles here.”
“Giles. Hi. It’s…”
“Xander! I’m glad you… uhh, just a minute…” There was a scraping noise and rather curt to somewhere in the background, “Really Andrew, I think it can wait for another five minutes… Yes, I am fully aware of that. Just tell them I will be there as soon as I can.” A door was heard to close in the background and the noise of the busy house and office melted away. “Apologies for that. We have a new group of potentials arriving at the end of the week, but that is par for the course. Now, how are you? I had expected a little more in the way of contact, but I… well I also felt that Spike would alert me if there were any… ahem… problems. I take it you are enjoying your European sojourn?”
Xander could almost hear Giles pulling off his glasses ready for a good polish. “I am loving it… really. I can Email some photos if you like. We got some good ones in Zurich, and amazing scenery from the fast train through the Alps. I love Florence but I guess that has to be expected. Anyway, Anton has made it clear that we’re welcome to stay for as long as we like, so we’re going to be here at least another fortnight to three weeks… which is of the good on a whole lot of levels….”
“Xander! If I may interject for a moment… Anton? Is this someone you have met on route? Forgive me if I sound a little confused, but I must confess… I understood you and Spike were only to be spending a few days here and there as his business dealings dictated, there certainly was no mention of a lengthy sojourn away from… You must understand my concern. Have you…? You sound well.”
Xander felt Spike’s strong hand on his thigh give a reassuring squeeze and smiled, knowing full well that his Mate could hear every word. “I’m fine Giles, better than I have been for… well forever really. And we are staying with Anton, the Immortal, because he invited us and because… Giles something happened in Zurich that sort of… Giles Spike-and-I-are-to-be-Formally-Mated.” Xander paused, not so much for effect but rather to let the old Watcher process the rushed announcement.
When nothing was forthcoming and Spike’s calming love and assurance permeating the link, he continued more slowly, acutely aware that there had been a rather negative reaction to the Consort situation, and that this was so much more. “Giles? ::sigh:: Look, it’s all arranged, Anton has offered to second as Spike’s Sire and we’ve set the date for the night of the lunar eclipse here in ten days’ time, Wednesday evening. Giles?”
This time Xander did wait, and began to worry more that either Giles disapproved so much as to not be speaking, or that the phone call had been terminated somehow. Finally the ex-Watcher cleared his throat and replied, “Well… I’m not sure what I am supposed to offer at this juncture. One normally would engage in the usual… There is really no point in me trying to dissuade you I suppose. I am obviously concerned that you are so recently… well, I was going to say recovered, but perhaps diverted is a better description, from your recent troubles…
“Xander, I know how Spike has a knack for looking after people who… well, let it just be said that I have absolutely no doubt he will treat you admirably, but Mating? Forgive me if I am a little less than impressed. Good Lord, Xander! Are you fully aware the consequences and the permanency of such a step? Not to mention the suddenness of this decision, the fact that you will be condemned to a life tied to Vampire Law and all that entails including the very real possibility that Spike will turn you? And even if not there is a life of perpetual darkness – hardly conducive to your continuing recovery. Not to mention your previous foray into a long-term relationship and commitment. Good Lord, Xander! Perhaps it is best you return to the coven to ‘cool your heels’ as it were. I really do think…”
Spike had started to growl audibly as he felt his Mate’s anxiety skyrocket, breathing becoming shallow and too quick and heart rate spiking. Xander looked pleadingly at his lover and shook his head almost imperceptibly as Spike made a grab for the phone. The vampire saw that the brunette needed to do this, so settled on opening his wrist and pushing it against Xander’s mouth, smiling as Xander let the phone drop and took the offering gratefully.
Calm restored, Xander belatedly realized that Giles was still talking, so returned the phone to his ear and interrupted what now to him seemed a rather patronizing rant. He broke in to the one-way conversation with a simple, “Giles, please stop. I appreciate your concern but it is done, the decision is made. It is mutual. It is something I have never been so sure of in my short life. I cannot imagine life without Spike by my side and I his. Whatever trials we face in our existence, from now on we will face them together and with the support of a loving, amazing Sire. And before you continue, Giles, I am *fully* aware of all the implications of what we are about to do.
“My reason for calling you was to let you know that I am well, we are having a wonderful time, and to invite you, Buffy, Willow and Dawn to the reception after our formal Mating in ten days’ time. Now I see that was an error in judgment on my part and we will understand if you don’t make it. In any case, we will catch up when the dust settles – figure of speech wise of course – and Spike and I return to the UK.” The last part contained no venom or regret, but rather was said as a statement of fact.
There was silence on the other end of the phone before a clearing of the older man’s throat and somewhat subdued response, “Yes, well, that is most thoughtful of you. And as you have my opinion on the matter, it is perhaps best that we do plan to meet up in more familiar surroundings. In any case, there are some issues with the timing regards the girls. Willow is temporarily out of contact as she left yesterday to attend a month long wiccan retreat in the north of Manitoba, hosted by the traditional custodians of the land there, and Buffy and Dawn have returned to California for a long overdue visit with their father. I will of course, leave it up to you to let them know of your… nuptials, as it were, though I am sure Buffy will approve of the Immortal’s involvement, as I know they remained friends after their… dalliance.”
Xander threw a quizzical glance across to his lover getting a shrug and mumbled, “Old news, Pet.”
There was little more to say, other than a reminder for Xander that he had appointments to keep and needed to continue with his medications regardless of how well he was currently feeling. The farewell was pleasant enough, but Spike could feel the sad, dark mood through the link as soon as the receiver went down and moved swiftly to kiss the upset Mate possessively hard on the mouth.
Xander gave in for a time but finally broke contact, giving an apologetic, “Sorry Spike. I’m sorry… I would really love you to… But you know, I really should call my parents. Apart from me being OK – which will be a happy relief for them I’m sure - I would really like to tell them about you… us, I mean. They’ve known I’m bi since I came out to them when I stayed with them for that few months post Sunnydale, but the fact that I have found a partner to share my… everything with… Spike?”
The vampire was staring at him with a strangely bewildered, and at once, thrilled expression. It took him a long moment to respond to his human lover and then it was in a voice echoing his stunned state, “I… I never thought you would… that is to say I thought you might say somethin’ ‘bout travellin’ with an old friend, but… this? Will it be all right for you… to do that I mean? Don’t wanna come between kin if you prefer not.”
Xander captured the insecure vampire’s face in his hands and turned him to look him square in the eye, “I want to tell them Spike. I want to let them know that their son has found real happiness with the most wonderful being imaginable and that we intend to share our lives and all that entails. I’m not expecting them to be over the moon or anything, but… you know…” He trailed off.
Spike moved his head to kiss first one hand that had been holding him, then the other, “Yeah Luv, that would be nice. Never thought I’d say this but… I really do hope they give us the thumbs up. You deserve that at least.”
It was early morning Californian time, but Xander deemed it not too early so made the call. It rang twice then switched to answer machine so Xander began to leave a message, “Hi Mom? Dad? It’s Xander, you’re probably already heading for work so…” when he was cut off by a female voice.
“Xander, honey? Is that you? It’s six thirty in the morning… you’re father’s in the shower. Are you OK? What’s happened?”
A number of reassurances and very edited version of the last month or so with ‘William’ was detailed, before the phone went on to speaker and Xander’s father also came on the line. Once again Spike’s hand found it’s way to Xander’s and this time he opened the link fully, his brunette friend gasping at the strength of love he felt flowing from his partner in all things. And suddenly he felt a sense of oneness and calm.
“Xander? It’s Dad here. I’m not sure if you’re mother is excited or in shock, what’s happened? I just caught the tail end of it. You sound good.”
Spike squeezed Xander’s hand again as the former Scoobie replied, “I am well, better than actually Sp…William and I are in Florence at the home of a… um… a relative of his. We’ve been travelling on business for a month now. Well, William’s business really, he invited me along. And… Well I thought you would like to know… we’ve decided to make a go of it, as a couple, a serious partnership for all time.”
“Right. And does this William know… you know… what happened to you… in the past I mean?”
“All of it… Yeah… All the nasty details and a whole bunch besides.”
“I’m amazed if that’s true… You didn’t tell him about, you know, all that weird business in Sunnydale? Not saying that was all your fault of course, but still, might be best to keep a few details to yourself, don’t you think?” The last part was said almost conspiratorially, and obviously assumed that William was not in the room.
“Dad, he knows about all that and sort of just took it in his stride. He’s pretty amazing on a whole lot of levels actually.”
“Does this William have a last name?”
“Aurelius, although his mother was a Seymour and father one of the Cavendish family. They both died years back. Apparently they were both from aristocratic families. William has a half brother Connor who lives in the States, and we’re staying with a sort of older cousin who has a lot of investments and interests in common with William.”
“So a typical spoilt rich kid I suppose… How’d you meet? Second thoughts don’t tell me. Look son, I really have to get to work, Stan’s driving the car pool this morning and he’s always on time. Tell your mother the rest.”
“Oh… yeah… Um… before you go. Are you OK with this? William and I, I mean. It’s sort of not really that big of a deal the same sex thing I know that… but…”
“Just as long as we’re not paying for any… ah… forget that. You’re a grown man, so long as your mother is satisfied you’re doing the right thing, I’ll go along with it. Everyone has the right to happiness, and your mother and I happen to have found it after Sunnydale. Never really realized until recently what a hellhole that town was until it was gone. If this William can bring you back from that suicide watch Mr Giles kept talking to us about, then it sounds like he’s a pretty good sort. Now I really have to go before Stan gets here and starts honking that horn of his.”
In the end the conversation with his mother went for far longer than Xander had planned, and was surprisingly pleasant. She asked about where they were staying, Xander providing the address so she could look online at it, and the hotel in Zurich where they had stayed. He alluded to Spike’s wealth, his physical beauty, intelligence and his ‘love of martial arts’. Finally asking his mother to consider a trip to Europe in the following year, “Once we aer settled in our own place somewhere.”
It all seemed terribly normal and friendly, and as soon as the slightly tearful Jessica Harris rang off, wishing her son all the best, Xander collapsed into Spike’s arms, bared his neck and was relieved to feel the sting of fangs as a bleeding vampire wrist was lifted to his mouth.
They sat in the embrace for many long minutes, giving and taking blood and comfort. It seemed now they just had to deal with the ceremony and consequences after… It felt like a new beginning…
As if on queue Anton appeared silently and smiled at the pair, “I take it all went well? Come let us have a drink and relax shall we.” With that the pair stood and followed their soon to be Sire to the intimate lounge room in the huge villa.