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.
There was little said as the two barely conscious individuals were held up in the shower by their Sire who had stripped swiftly and positioned himself in the large cubicle to lovingly and systematically sluice the blood and residual semen from the bodies of first Spike then Xander. Connor dried each as they were passed to him and carried them to the waiting bed to gentle each down, then returned to the shower room when he realized he too was covered in the Mated pair’s bodily fluids.
So intent upon his task, Connor had barely registered that Anton was nude during the proceedings, so now stood at the door, rather embarrassed and reluctant to enter. Anton sensed the young man’s presence and heard the raised heartbeat of the brave youth. He turned and smile holding out his hand in a gesture of welcome, relieved when it was accepted as Connor shrugged off his senatorial robe and joined Anton under the hot spray.
Connor’s eyes closed and he stood immobile allowing the Immortal to pursue his intimate task of washing hair and sponging down his new relative’s lithe form. As the final suds drained away, Connor relaxed and his eyes blinked open to the kindly, stunningly handsome face of the ancient being he now called Sire. In a gesture of thanks and trust he tilted his head, exposing his neck and was surprisingly relieved to feel the near painless prick of Anton’s fangs as they penetrated skin, then the suction that followed.
Anton scored his own wrist with a razor sharp fingernail and pushed the wound to Connor’s mouth and the circle was complete for a few perfect seconds. Anton broke contact and reached for two fresh towels as Connor shut the water off.
As they entered the bedroom, Connor noticed that Spike and Xander had instinctively reached for each other and were now curled together eyes still closed, gently stroking one another. Xander’s back was exposed to his observers and Connor could clearly see the intricate tattoo that now ran the full length of his spine. An intricate pattern of intertwined vines, leaves, ancient runic symbols, married with semi portraits of natural and mythical creatures, it left him wondering at the full meaning of the piece. He was about to ask when Anton spoke for the first time since entering the suite.
“It is a blessing from the fae and the wiccan of the earth, and a symbol of balance within and without, it binds the two to all that is in this realm, and more importantly, it commits them utterly to each other. I could not help noticing as we showered, that you have the familial tattoo of Aurelius. It is well that you have marked yourself thus. I too bear a mark, indeed several - all very old, and definitive of my birthright, my history and my role in this existence. I hope you would agree to bear my family crest on your right shoulder as I would request the right to wear that of Aurelius.”
Connor just managed to nod his agreement when a groan from the bed signaled a return to full consciousness of first Spike, then Xander.
Azure blue eyes blinked open and attempted to focus, “Sire?”
Anton flew to the blonde vampire’s side, “Here, William. Connor is here also.” The Immortal pushed stray curl of damp hair from Spike’s forehead. “Are you well, dear one?”
Spike paused for a moment before answering, wonder evident in his voice, “I can feel you, and little brother, but… oh Sire! I can… with Xander it is like we are… utterly as one. I see what he sees, feel what he feels… Oh Sire! He has all my memories, as I have his… and he still… He loves me completely. Thank you for giving us this. I thought when we Mated unofficially that it was good, but this… Why do so few go through with the ceremony?”
Anton waited until Xander had rolled to look at him also, “That is because, my dear Childer, the act is extremely risky. Your intentions toward each other had to be borne of truth and your acceptance of each other absolute, otherwise the marking would have killed you - an agonizing, terror-filled demise, too horrifying to behold. But you two are extraordinary beings and as one there is no precedent.” His voice thickened with emotion, “I am so lucky to have… thank you.”
Spike pulled Anton down and kissed chastely on the lips, “Ya ol’ duffer… Keep that up ‘n we’ll all end up teary! Hows about you help a couple o’ chaps into their strides, feelin’ right woozy after that lot – sorry ‘bout before, the washin’ ‘n such. Don’t remember much, though I reckon we got ourselves in a right mess.” Spike noticed Connor blushing a little and had the courtesy to add, “Sorry if you saw more than you needed little brother. Still, vamp sensibilities ‘n all. Besides, m’ soul loves the person not the gender. Ain’t that right, Pet.” The last part was accompanied by a loving kiss to Xander’s temple, and a happy “Hmmm” from his slowly waking partner.
The reception was a far cry from the solemnity and formality of the Mating Ceremony. The number and variety of guests emphasizing just how important the event was for not only the demon and vampire communities but also for Spike and Anton’s human business contacts. Although the human parents of Xander and Connor were absent, there were plenty of well-wishers of the warm blooded variety, making the event ‘press worthy’. Photographers were invited guests and known to the Immortal, so careful as to who was pictured with whom.
Anya looked radiant in a slinky, vibrant pink creation by Valentino, congratulating first Spike then Xander with a kiss and light slap on the shoulder, accompanied by a whispered, “I know you grieved for me – thank you.” Then a louder, “Don’t you just love the dress, D’Hoffran knows all the best designers, and they are gay just like you – but obviously you’re taken.”
A rather stunned Xander could say little except, “Well… yeah, um…” before Anya whirled away to engage a rather handsome looking male he assumed to be human of Nordic extraction, until he spotted the tail poking from below his long evening coat.
Lady Regina was present with her retinue, as was Montague, Daniel Groenwald, and a number of other business associates. Connor circulated and chatted with a relaxed confidence that left Xander convinced must be nurture not nature, as he could not possibly have inherited such an ability from Angel. And the Immortal was charming and attentive to all present. Xander watched him for a while, belatedly realizing he could feel the Immortal on the edge of his consciousness. He focused in and was rewarded with a mental caress and shared pleasure at such a successful social event. And at every turn Spike was there.
Even when they were in different rooms, Xander could tell precisely the location of his lover, and exactly what he was feeling. Occasionally he was even sent mind pictures of this or that person, some less than complimentary, cautionary or downright hostile. But when he looked for Spike, his vampire always seemed to be smiling and the perfect guest of honor.
The only residual discomfort from the evening’s formal proceedings was his healing back. Though to the naked eye it was entirely mended, subcutaneously it itched terribly. Twice he found himself sneaking away to grind his spine rigorously up and down against a doorframe. Senora Paccio caught him on the second occasion, guessed the reason and gave him a clean wooden pasta spoon from the kitchen, with non-verbal instructions as to its intended use.
Xander’s discomfort was noted by Spike who managed to ignore his own irritating back in favor of sending love through the link and focusing on the various conversations he was beholden to engage in. Anton deftly guided the guests of honor to each of the contingents present, introducing them where necessary and leading the conversation so that Xander William and, when appropriate, Connor, could engage in pleasant and meaningful dialogue, quickly coming to know the status position and meaning of the roles each guest played in the fabric of their, now global yet exclusive, network of beings.
Addressing the Queen of the Fae, Anton bowed low, then kissed the sparkling ring on the pale, slender hand she held out to him. The other three men did likewise to the faerie’s obvious satisfaction. “Many thanks for your Blessings, Your Majesty. Your contribution to this auspicious occasion is greatly appreciated.”
The beautiful female gave a blinding smile and with a tinkling laugh replied, “Ah my darling Antinous, you have waited so long for this day, for these beings to join you, the Fae community rejoices with you. If you will permit me, I would like to present a small gift to each of you, a trifle I assure you, but a token of our ongoing friendship.”
The ethereal woman seemed to shimmer in front of them, her gossamer wings emerging and hair, previously piled up behind an exquisite tiara of diamonds and pearls, fell in soft curls to her waist. Her assistant produced a tiny pair of gold scissors and proceeded to cut four matching locks of hair that were swiftly plaited into lengths then silently tied around each man’s wrist. The knot fixing each disappeared as soon as the presentation was complete.
“These tie you to the fae and will allow safe passage in our realm. Alexander, your spirit guide, the primal, will know the way should you need us. Keep her close, strong and happy. We may call on you, just as you may have need of us some time in our long future on this plane. So, may we meet againmany times in happy circumstances such as these.”
With the final statement the leader of the Fae kissed Anton on both cheeks, spun on her heel and she and her attendants swept elegantly from the room.
High Mistress Eustace was in deep conversation with Mage Julian as Queen Lilliana paused on her way out the door and kissed the woman on the forehead. The middle aged wiccan looked pleased but surprised at the act and Spike distinctly heard the whispered, “Solstice in Bergen, we would be honored.” The wiccan was graced with a nod and smile, and Eustace turned her attention to her hosts.
Mage Julian excused himself immediately, recognizing the need for a private meeting with the wiccan and Eustace held out her hand to Anton, pulling him toward some alcove seating. As soon as the four were settled, the white haired woman exhaled slowly and spoke, “My congratulations to you and your Childer Immortal and forgive me for sounding smug, but was it but a year ago today that I foretold this joyous turn of events?”
“Indeed High Mistress, and if you recall, at the time I was less than convinced.”
Mistress Eustace gave the Immortal a cheeky slap on the arm, “Less than convinced? Pffft! Cheeky boy, I seem to remember you scoffed and said you were too old to hope for the impossible!”
Anton tried to appear apologetic, but was could not keep the joy of his new situation shining through, “I bow to your powers of prediction, Mistress.”
The Mistress turned her attention to Connor next, “You have suffered more than your years deserve, full-blood Connor, yet it was necessary it seems. You now have two families, uniting human and the other. Your future is bright, as the portents have indicated. All things happen for a reason. Be well young Aurelian.” She pushed a small gold amulet into his hand, “A keepsake for your first born.” Connor was about to say something – first and foremost that he didn’t even have a girlfriend yet, but was silenced by the knowing look from the Mistress before she turned her attention to the Mated couple.
“Alexander, William. Light and dark have married through your partnership. Your union is blessed. You will have challenges ahead, but stay true to each other, to the balance, and all will be well. You have your Sire to love and support you. Heed him. You have your hearts to guide you. Follow them together. You have Gaia, the Powers of Light and the Powers of Dark to manifest within you. Embrace their strength.” She kissed first Xander then Spike on the forehead, “You have the blessing of the covens. We will answer your call should you need us. Blessed be.”
And with that, all solemnity seemed to evaporate and a smiling Eustace turned to Anton, “Now where is the lovely Senora Paccio, I simply must ask for her baklava recipe before I return home! You don’t think she would mind?”
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur, formal introductions to the Master Vampires and their Childer present were conducted then many more casual conversations. The deference with which the three Aurelians and their Sire were treated seemed entirely fitting and graciously accepted. Speeches were brief, the toasts to the happy couple many, the dancing enthusiastic, and several business deals done. All in all it was a resounding success, with all but family and Monty remaining to see the sunrise.
There was to be a number of meetings the following afternoon and into the night later on the new day, so as the pinks of dawn and the sun made its presence known in full, the household finally retired and slept.
At brunch a week later, the picture was still one of family harmony, though Xander had begun to realize that the day to day running of his and Spike’s business interests, when mixed in with Anton’s, really did need coordination and a good deal of helpful organization on the part of Anton’s long suffering P.A. Phonecalls were screened, trips to Florence for meetings were maximized, visitors to the Villa were exclusively closest contacts, and even the exercise and quiet times, generous though they were, needed some scheduling.
The light breeze and warm sun of late morning reflected the mood of the four men.
Connor had spent the week coming to grips with what it meant to be part of the Aurelian family, including the immense wealth that apparently included. He had also been busy planning some specific studies in Europe geared for his planned to return to the continent closer to Christmas, and after several calls to his supervising professor, and a number to a key academic at the University of Geneva (made by Anton on his behalf), it seemed his Masters in International Commerce was set to proceed without a hitch. His was still a little thrown when offered a wrist on the occasions when the four were together in private, but was fast coming to enjoy the intimacy it afforded that went beyond words. His sparring was, in his words, “Back up to scratch with lots still to learn from the oldies.” A backhanded compliment that always extracted an “Oi enough with the old whelp!” from a smiling Spike.
Anton was his usual calm, steady self, but there was a sparkle of mischief and hopeful joy in his eyes whenever he was addressing his younger relatives that had not been present previously. The love flowing from him was unmistakable – with or without the Mated Pair taking blood – and was returned tenfold. He was an attentive and kind Sire, who slowly told ‘his boys’ more and more of his past. It was apparent that, despite having a reputation as great lover, he rarely benefitted from any such engagement emotionally, indeed described his new status as having “filled a massive void… a realization of profound happiness and contentment.” As he shared more, he seemed to grow in stature, not diminish. If anything his magical signature became stronger, still the perfect balance of dark and light but immense in its power.
Close business associates noticed a subtle difference, but wrote it off as the Immortal’s natural enthusiasm for new ventures and the recent amalgamation of sections of his own investments with some of the Aurelian interests. Household employees, who had known him for decades, welcomed the far more affable, less aloof, Anton. The ancient being seemed to have renewed vigor in all activities. His interest in the growing season, plans to refurbish some of the outhouses, planting of some more vines, and the purchase of new stock and two maremma sheep dog pups, all seemed to indicate an intention to remain at the home rather than take off for long periods as had been his habit in the past.
Spike reveled in the steadying presence of a Sire, who matched him intellectually and was appreciative of his company. The blonde was noticeably more settled, his composure still energetic but less frenetic, and for the first time… ever… he seemed to have a sense that there was a long future ahead, one to be embraced and most importantly, one to be shared. The larger than life personality was ever present, as was his love for violence, but there was also a willingness to expose his softer side and generosity of spirit that lacked the rough bravado so necessary to cover insecurities. He too spoke of establishing a home and territory of sorts, though the location was yet to be fixed, and proximity to their Sire was, at least in the short term, tantamount to any plans.
But it was Xander in whom the Mating change was most noticeable. He still had moments of nervous self-doubt, but it seemed more out of habit than need, and was soon dispelled by a kind word or mental caress from his Mate. Gone was the awkward Scoobie, the damaged Watcher, and in his place, Alexander, the Master Vampire’s Mate, who had his own powerful magical signature, a near human who stood tall and spoke quietly with a measured authority.
His desire for Spike’s touch matched his need for his vampire’s blood and an increasing urge for violence. Spike, Anton and Connor had taken to training him in the dojo. He still swam daily, but tended to do so after a session of martial arts exercises and increasingly fast sparring. The major building project was going ahead and promised an outlet for his natural talents in construction and people management. He too thought of the long future with Spike, though tried to keep focused ‘in the moment’ on the advice of Anton.
Spike and Xander’s love-making had taken on an entirely new dimension after their Mating night of passion. The much enjoyed blood exchange had become an imperative that required satisfying throughout the act, and recovery time meant that inevitably they took turns topping and experimented even more than Xander had with Anja. Whether joyous, cheeky, tender or frantic the defining factor was their absolute connection, bodies and minds merging to one. More often than not they fell asleep still joined.
Connor’s sisters were due to arrive late on the Saturday after the Formal Mating. Xander and Spike were woken earlier than usual by a soft knock on their bedroom door. A semi clad Spike answered the door to a rather worried looking Anton.