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.
The sun was streaming into their suite by the time a knock on the door roused Spike. He extracted himself from the limpet like hold of his lover, careful not to jostle the injuries, that though still obvious, were healing faster than for a normal human. The injured elbow had swollen above and below the dislocation site and Spike gave a wry smile, mentally noting saving the ‘Popeye’ comment for when Xander awoke.
He pulled on a pair of jeans and was still pulling on a button up shirt as he opened the door to an apologetic look from Connor and a stifled giggle from Claire. “Sorry William, Claire here insisted on seeing the patient. I told her to wait but…”
Claire smiled brightly and held up a small, red bag with ‘First Aid’ written across the side, “Well Connor said you guys got in some fight,” she shot Connor a reprimanding look, “and that Alex had been hurt. So I figured that since Mom insisted we bring this, I could put it to good use.” She bustled inside before Spike could refuse and continued talking as she unzipped the bag and began removing the contents, “And don’t worry, I’ve got a First Aid certificate so I kind of know what all this stuff is for.” Apparently satisfied she had all the necessary tools, she turned and grinned at the rather disheveled and bemused vampire, “So… I guess all I need now is the patient.”
Spike frowned for a moment then heard a movement from the bedroom, “Just a tick Luv. Boy’s only just wakin’ up. Look give us a few minutes to get sorted and we’ll take it from there.”
With that he returned to the bedroom, cursing under his breath regards busy body youngsters and making a mental note to try to shore up his defenses against “teenaged bloody girls and their manipulative, innocent smiles”.
For the audience Spike announced loudly, “Righto, Harris. Wakey, wakey, got us some visitors.” For his lover however, he sat gingerly on the side where the tuft of brunette curls indicated Xander was facing, gentled back the covers and gave the softest of kisses to the exposed bruised and cut cheek, whispering, “Come on Xan… wake up for ol’ Spike yeah…”
A bit of a snuffle, a muffled “don’wanna” and another kiss later and a bleary eye struggled to open and focus.
“There you are pet. Young’un’s come to play nurse… She’s happy to wait but don’t reckon we can put it off too long. You up for playin’ patient?”
Xander processed the information slowly, eventually struggling to sit up. Spike was there in an instant, pillows adjusted to cushion the new position and pair of boxer shorts in hand. “Better let me get these on you in case of a full body exam.” At Xander’s horrified expression, Spike looked down at the tented covers over Xander’s groin, “Problem there pet? Or just pleased to see me?”
Xander rolled his eye and looked skyward, “All of the above D.”
“Well I c’n fix that in a jiffy, but how’s about we take it to the bathroom. I’ll help you out with that, you can do your thing and Claire will be none the wiser. Little brother might have somethin’ to say seein’s as he’s inherited ‘is daddy’s sense of smell.”
“Imagery!! And Ghod could I feel more embarrassed! Thanks a lot, oh evil Master!”
“An’ don’t you forget it. Come on then, Pet, let’s get you sorted.” With that he threw back the covers, carefully lifted Xander into the bathroom and closed the door. Leaning heavily on the towel rail, Xander’s slightly shaky legs were given little chance to acclimatize to their supporting role before a cool mouth engulfed his morning erection and he was expertly brought to completion. Sitting heavily on the toilet panting, he reached up with his uninjured arm and was soon being kissed passionately, tasting himself in the process.
Spike almost lost track of what they were supposed to be in there for, but eventually broke off the passion, “Better do your human thing and get out there before they call foul Pet.” And with that he let himself out of the room to rejoin the others.
The concerned look on Connor’s face disappeared as soon as he detected the slight odor of sex floating from the bathroom. Spike smiled cheerfully and decided to distract Claire until Xander was ready to emerge. “So Pet, what’s on the agenda today? Apart from the fashion shoot o’ course.”
“Oh, well, we’re already packed and Anton said we’ll take the photos at the Villa Adriana. So Pippa and I are going to go back to the Villa Este and check out the museum first. Connor said he wants to hang with you guys so we’ll take the car and be back by one when you guys are ready to leave. Anton said that leaves us plenty of time to look around then… well yay, Naples! I still can’t believe we’re here, you know… and Pompeii is going to be sooo cool.”
Spike glanced at the bedroom door every so often as the young woman enthused about the day to come. Finally Xander appeared, his brown leather eye patch in place and only one arm in his shirt, leaving his injured elbow free. The master vampire noted, with some satisfaction, that some of the bruising from the previous night had already reduced. Cuts visible to observers were red but obviously healing. The elbow, however, was sporting a wrist to upper arm, spectacular black, blue and purple bruise apart from obvious swelling.
Claire was obviously shocked but rather than voicing her concern, simply got on with the task at hand. “OK well can you sit here Alex. Connor said that William put your arm back in but it’s going to have tendons that are all stretched and that’ll be sore and really shouldn’t be moved around… so… I’m going to put a compression bandage on it, then we’ll put it in a sling, OK?”
Xander looked over to Spike who shrugged and answered with a smile, “You’re the doc. Compress away.”
Claire was all business as she carefully but expertly wrapped Xander’s arm, checking intermittently that it was not too tight, and each wrap around the arm was positioned just so. Finally she stood back, happy with her work, then frowned and looked at the various scratches and long slice on Xander’s cheek, “I think you should have some butterfly plasters on the cut, you know just to make sure it heals neatly. I guess you’ll still have a scar though.”
Xander smiled at the girl, touched by her genuine concern, “’S OK. At least it was on my blind side. And there’s… well… there’s already scars under the patch anyway.”
Claire paled a little at the mention of the missing eye. Connor had told her of Alexander’s work in African war zones, and she had drawn her own conclusions, “Oh I’m… geez sorry.”
Xander quickly put her at ease. “Claire… It’s alright, I mean, really alright. And thanks for all this – I mean Sp… William is great at patching me up but I think you just took it to another level.” Spike was about to protest but noted the pleased blush and smile from Claire so settled on, “You’re a right champ Pet. Lovely job, n’ lucky you came prepared. Now all my lad needs is a good breakfast and we’ll be ready when you and Pippa swing by for us men.”
Connor ushered his sister out and Xander let his smile drop. Spike turned to his Mate, “You really OK there Xan?”
“Yeah. But to use one of your terms, it bloody hurts like hell. I thought it might have healed more by now. Shouldn’t I get some painkillers or something?”
“Here, this’ll have to do.” With that Spike sliced his wrist on fangs that appeared and disappeared almost before Xander could register what was happening. He latched on and took several long drafts, worrying the wound until it closed completely. He sat back heavily. “Better luv?”
Xander’s reply was a rather dazed, “Much. Thanks.”
“Go lie down for a bit Pet. I’ll tidy up, have meself a wash and get us ready to leave. Anton will want to debrief over brunch, no doubt. More rest you can get now, the quicker you’ll heal.”
An hour later the two were in the small courtyard of the Villa enjoying coffee and a light snack with Anton and Connor. When they had first arrived Anton had been reluctant to ‘talk shop’ choosing instead to discuss the trip beyond Naples and what Connor might like to see for the week to come with his sisters.
The conversation was light and easy, and it was not until the dialogue turned to Xander, Spike and Anton’s plans for Rome that the discussion became a true debrief of events the night before.
Anton’s tone was serious as he broached the issue, “I spoke to Tristan after we left you last night. It seems the Scourge has only just arrived here in Tivoli. I think it is safe to say the matter is dealt with for now as far as this town is concerned, but the First Childe reported that their captive was quite the font of information, once adequately persuaded. It seems the Scourge has garnered support from some rather surprising places, and it is not just an issue for Italy. We will need to tread carefully and use old alliances, call on traditions and pledges some seem to have forgotten, or at least ignored in the current climate.
“The refugee numbers in both human and demon populations have been growing steadily and have the effect of destabilizing communities, particularly in poorer regions. Blame begins to be leveled at certain minority groups and it becomes easy for extremists to recruit supporters, be they aggressive and open, or passive, in their actions against those targeted.
“The Scourge are simply one of a number of such extremist organizations, in their case, it is the demon population, or more particularly mixed breed and ‘non native’ demons who are the target. I was unsurprised to learn that they are on the rise again. They are relatively small in number, but no less dangerous players, in a bigger network of hate driven groups determined to further any number of crackpot causes and nefarious schemes. The hatred of the ‘other’ and racial cleansing mantra is one recurring theme in human existence – and demon for that matter. I have seen more times than I wish to count. It will never be eliminated, but balance need to be restored and maintained. That will be our aim, it is always my aim…”
Anton sighed and Spike felt Xander’s worry heighten through the link. His Mate had seen racial hatred of the human kind up close and personal too many times. He reached down and squeezed Xander’s knee, conveying his love and support as best he could, before addressing the Immortal. “You have our support Sire. What is it we need to do?”
Anton smiled, “Nothing for now. I have sent word ahead to Rome, and further afield, but strategizing is an issue for another day. Let us enjoy our time together now. And speaking of that, I see our driver has returned… Shall we?”
Less than an hour later, the car was parked at Villa Adriana, and a happy extended family was being carefully seated on large marble steps with the grand pool in the background by a camera wielding Lucius. The young man had already taken several shots of the Pippa and Claire, managing to capture each in off guard moments, and also some more formal photos of the women posing on the stone platform with the back drop of the Serapeum, the grand grotto like structure near the long pool.
Spike had argued, in private (or so he thought) that vampires didn’t show up in photos – even the digital ones. His protests were silenced when Lucius announced that new technological advances in photography meant his high-end camera operated with no internal mirrors. When Spike looked quizzically at his Sire, Anton merely quirked a knowing eyebrow at him and looked back at their photographer, at which point Spike noted the unusual shimmer of scales around Lucius’ wrists, which he had previously interpreted to be tattoos or some sort of jewelry and smiled to himself. He should have known!
Lucius promised to remain with the group while they explored, happy to take some more impromptu shots and look around for locations for future clients. He wandered off with Claire, Pippa and Connor, chatting happily.
Xander was about to follow them, but was staid by a gentle hand on his no injured arm. “Think Anton needs us Pet.” His eyes were drawn in the direction of Spike’s gaze. The Immortal was standing at the end of the hundred meter long pool, staring its depths.
Spike walked up behind the Immortal, and placed a cool hand on the slumped shoulder, “Hope you’re not contemplatin’ a dip Sire. You’re household lifesaver here is on the injured list, an’ I’m about as fond of water as you’re local tabby.”
The dark haired ancient gave a rueful chuckle and turned enough to give his adoptive Childer a small smile. “I don’t recall many who would swim the Canopus willingly… I would ask you to walk with me. I wish to show you our… Hadrian’s… favorite part of this complex.”
As they walked Xander was struck by how very sad the place seemed when compared with the splendor of Villas Este and Gregoriana. The buildings were hardly more than outlines and piles of rubble, with the exception of the area they had just visited. He and Spike had been walking hand in hand as they followed the Immortal, but squeezed his Mate’s hand and silently conveyed his concern for their silent Sire through the link. Spike turned to him momentarily then nodded as they split and flanked the ancient, taking a hand each and continued on as one.
Anton spoke quietly as they progressed through each area. Here had been the Great Baths, there, the smaller baths and Three Excedras. That huge area to the left, with its lake and wide flat space, had been a multi purpose area on a huge scale and the Emperor’s private entrance to the huge Imperial Palace via the “Building with Fishpond” – better described as the Winter Palace. Further to the left was the Antineon. Antony’s voice dropped as he explained its purpose - shrine to him, Antinous, complete with obelisk and Egyptian statues, honoring his memory and the Goddess Osiris. Quiet sadness was the general mood as the three progressed.
They walked on until the three came to a less destroyed building, the Philosophers’ Hall, slowing as they came upon a recently built wooden walkway.
The three passed through a doorway and were faced with a circular moat with a small classic style Roman villa on a central island and were led around the edge to a small stone bridge access, and Anton began to explain in earnest, “This was the Emperor’s private space. This bridge was a retractable wooden one when I lived here. We could come here and be… just be. Away from prying eyes and the world… While all his visitors had to walk around the outside of the moat, the Emperor the center of their world, the Known World, embodied by the promenade centerpiece.”
Spike and Xander let go Anton’s hands as they stepped into the ruin. Their Sire immediately sat heavily on the remains of a marble column and stared into the space, speaking to himself more than his audience, “I used to love it here. The central courtyard was full of statues and beautiful frescos, art works Hadrian most loved from all over the Empire.”
He pointed in various directions, “There were lounges there, and there, where we would sit, and I would read to him, or sometimes he to me. Oh, there were servants here still, but they were hand picked for their discretion and trustworthiness. This was a private retreat for the man so owned by his people, beholden to his position, dedicated to his Empire and its welfare. We spent so much time on the road, at a time that travel was not always easy. The demands on his time so great wherever he went and decisions he made sometimes so very difficult, the outcomes so critical to Rome, he would suffer headaches through worry and lack of sleep. He deserved this inner sanctum. I used to massage his neck and back until he relaxed and slept after long days… I… I only wish I could have… but it was not to be… yet I loved him so much… I still love him…”
Spike noticed the drips on the ground just as Xander picked up on the fact that their Sire was crying. Silently the pair seated themselves either side of the upset man, each easing a comforting arm around the mourner and remained quiet for a time. Somewhere off in the distance there was a guitar playing accompanying the sound of a female voice wafting gently via a light breeze. It seemed like a fitting lament.
Spike communicated his intention to Xander via their link and the brunette agreed. Vampiric features to the fore he tore open his wrist and put it to Anton’s lips. The Immortal looked utterly shocked at first then took a long draft. Xander’s wrist with dripping wound on his good arm soon replaced his Mate’s, and as Anton licked the second offering closed he sat back, looked each man in the eye in turn and said in a serious tone, “I wish to share something more with you… if you are willing and I am able. William… Alexander… may I show you a glimpse of how it was?”
As one, the equally intrigued Spike and Xander replied, “Of course Sire.”
Anton smiled gratefully, his fangs dropped and the sharp teeth drew a line across each wrist, which were then presented to his adoptive Childer as he began a low humming chant.
Their world fell away, and the building around them seemed to grow in size and completeness, rich colors replaced barren stone and their position in the structure seemed to shift until they were all apparently sharing a single body.
Young, strong, human legs were propelling them with long strides, across the central atrium and into a bedroom where a lone figure was reclining on a richly decorated purple and gold coverlet. The handsome, bearded, older man turned and smiled widely, holding his hand out in welcome. A deep baritone voice rumbled, “A my darling boy… I take it Plotina has retired for the night. Did she accept my apologies?”
Spike and Xander were both aware of each other in this odd experience, but too caught up in the scene to do anything but send reassurances, first to each other then their Sire, as the man, who was obviously Hadrian, pulled his lover down into a warm hug. Antinous hugged him then lay on his side, stroking through the short, curly brown locks and scratching through the well-manicured beard. “She is happy we are home and will see you tomorrow before the senators arrive.”
Hadrian lay back and closed his eyes momentarily, “It is well. Now, are you too tired tonight, or will you consent to indulge your Emperor with your loving body and sweet tongue.”
Spike and Xander were then privy to the sensation of slow passionate lovemaking by proxy, and odd sensation but so intimate, so beautiful as to have them both painfully hard, yet unwilling to relinquish their hold on their Sire’s shared memory. They were aware of Antinous slicking himself with some unction from a jar, stroking his lover to hardness and lowering himself onto the hard shaft, riding his beloved, his Emperor, his all, until they both came hard.
The two interlopers were conscious of the gentle cleaning of the lovers using a white cloth from the strategically placed water basin, and then the younger man snuggling into his beloved’s side. The last thing they were aware of before the scene faded was the older gent saying, “My darling boy, you bring me such comfort, such joy. Would that we should remain thus for all time until I am no more.”
Spike was first to regain his composure as the real world crashed back into his awareness. He looked across at his rather confused Mate, and noted that they had all ended up in a semi reclining position on their pillar. Anton was still only half aware, caught up in his own memories, and he was hard, his erection obviously straining against the zipper of his designer jeans.
Spike quirked a scarred eyebrow at Xander, who nodded, and Xander kissed their Sire on the lips while Spike lowered the zipper and swallowed Anton’s member to the base, creating as much suction as he was able. It was mere seconds before the Immortal came, breaking from Xander’s kiss and crying out.
Spike swallowed and licked the softening appendage clean, before he zipped up and smoothed down Anton’s clothing, sat back and reached across the reclining figure to take and squeeze his Mate’s hand. They sat again in silence, honoring the intimate moments present and past shared with their new Sire.
Anton eventually sat up and looked in wonder at first Xander then Spike, evidently at a loss for words. “I… I… I didn’t…”
Spike spoke as he stood and brushed his knees off, “I know it was not your motivation Sire, just that we thought you might need and deserve it. So thank you for allowing us to share this with you…” Xander nodded and smiled before the blonde continued, hauling his Mate up as he did so, “Now we better get back to the group and head south don’t you think. This rate we’ll be having supper looking over the Bay of Naples by nine I should think.”
Anton nodded and though still a little dazed and certainly in a contemplative state, still managed to steer them on to the Greek and Latin Libraries, across another atrium and into the ruins of the Imperial Palace where Spike spied, with some relief, Connor and the girls.
With a wave of recognition, the group was soon reunited and walking back to the car in the waning light of early evening, all happy to be on their way to Naples and the “Grand Hotel Vesuvio” as planned.
(Note: For Hadrian’s Villa Information and images: http://vwhl.clas.virginia.edu/villa/index.php )