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 meeting was a surprisingly polite affair with an air of pragmatic determination regards the threat facing the demon world from the Scourge, though the conversation did encompass the need to address problems caused by fanatics of all persuasions.
When details of the use of human weapons (in particular guns) was tabled, there was a general consensus that magic users from a number of clans would engage in protection spells that could either render the weapons unusable or shield those in the firing line. A resolution was passed that meant each group would be guarded in such a way on the evening of the attack on the Scourge. It would mean that no other magic could be used, but for the vast majority, fangs, talons, brute strength and fighting skills of traditional variety would be ample to the task when numbers were on their side.
Andrew was uncharacteristically quiet during the first part of the meeting, which for the two former Sunnydale crew, was a little unnerving, but given the overwhelming determination and cohesion expressed by the demons present regards mutual rights and community protection strategies, it was unsurprising. Slayers and the Watchers were hardly known for their tolerance of the ‘other’, indeed it was only the emergence of the New Council and calling of all Slayers post Sunnydale, that there had been any effort to open dialogue with demon clans at all. Agreements had been forged but it was an uneasy alliance at best. That being said, both sides recognized the need to work together on matters of mutual security. The Scourge was just such a concern.
There was a short adjournment an hour and a half into proceedings, Natalia inviting all present to a light supper in the adjoining breakout room, stressing that the business center had also been made available so delegates might communicate with other clan/family members and in some cases, seek out information at the request of the meeting members. Andrew ushered Buffy and the other Slayers outside without pause.
Anton and ‘his boys’ made their way to a private enclave to the rear of the conference room and exchanged familial blood for reassurance, before rejoining the main group where Spike and Xander were all but swamped by vampire clan members wishing to meet the pair and establish a connection with the new Childer of the Immortal.
Other demons were a little less forthright, to the point Xander took it upon himself to engage first a group of petite women wearing traditional Middle Eastern attire, jeweled veil firmly in place, in quiet conversational Arabic. He then moved to some almost human looking Folgarths, this time speaking through one of their number who thankfully spoke English, asking politely about their families and particular concerns.
Spike was very familiar with the traditions of the Vampire courts of Europe and had also been well versed by Anton regards recent inter and intra clan power plays. For the clans, William Aurelius was an unknown quantity despite his former violent ‘William the Bloody’ reputation built over his many years in Europe. He was apparently ensouled, had been dusted, worked for the Powers of Light, killed their kind, took down armies, had taken a human lover… So many rumors had circulated that nothing short of meeting the blonde in person would satisfy the burning curiosity. Rather than the reckless young fledge, maverick Master, or self important ‘White Hat’, the Immortal’s adopted Childe was a quietly spoken, highly intelligent, extremely powerful Master whose magical aura was dark and light entwined, and whose essence was unmistakably linked to both Anton and his Mate Alexander. Their conclusions were unanimous at the end of the break. They were in the presence of something unique, the equivalent of Demon Royalty.
As a consequence, by the end of the break, the general atmosphere of the meeting had shifted. All present seemed to defer to the powerful three rather than just the ancient Immortal, Anton.
Once again Anton began proceedings, focusing delegates on the desired outcome – an immediate timeline to carry out their plans for a coordinated and thorough elimination of the Scourge and dismantling of the extremists’ networks.
Surprisingly it was Andrew who was able to provide times and places for the Scourge’s next targets, having had the foresight to hack social media accounts of a number of Scourge members stupidly set up to promote their cause and crowd source support from less savory quarters of (in particular, but not exclusively) Rome and surrounds.
The meeting was a triumph. Immediate plans included the utilization of the skills and resources of all clans, families and organizations present in a single night of action, thus beginning the longer process of societal reform (at least where demons were concerned). The initial effort was to rid the city and surrounds of the Scourge and, if successful expand the effort across Europe. Following that the inter clan agreements and strategies were aimed at preventing a repeat of a Scourge rise in the foreseeable future.
The main action would occur two nights hence allowing clans and demon groups to move families out of the way and make appropriate preparations for battle. Wolfram and Hart CEO, Ms Di Bianci, volunteered the special services of their ‘cleaning staff’ to deal with any conflict remnants (bodies and ichor in particular). Spike had been more than a little concerned that their involvement had more nefarious reasons until Anton had pulled him aside during the break to explain that the company had many clients who were threatened by the Scourge. They were apparently losing money and customers as a direct result of the actions of the fanatics, particularly affected, their lucrative business of assisting demon refugees to enter Europe and settle.
Andrew volunteered his slayers to patrol the areas surrounding the conflict with the express purpose to ensure the safety of humans, and to pick off any enterprising unaffiliated demons intent on taking advantage of the confusion.
Xander had been quiet throughout the meeting, listening to all views via a quiet interpretation (when necessary) from Spike. It was only as details were being finalized that he spoke up. In a clear, authoritative tone he stated, “The Scourge members we encountered were carrying human weapons, guns and knives to be exact. If your fighters are vulnerable to these, which I think most of us here are, precautions will need to be taken.” The resulting uproar eventually died down as the leaders determined methods of dealing with the issue.
Finally, as the meeting drew to a close, it was decided that a series of special warded communication channels were to be laid open from a full day before to a week after the action, so any follow up necessary might be dealt with swiftly. It was enough. Clans had their designated meeting points, were clear about their roles and generally comfortable with the strategies, and the meeting was adjourned.
Andrew and his young Slayers left almost immediately, but Spike noticed Buffy making her way across to as Anton thanked Alonna for Wolfram and Hart’s assistance was bidding farewell. He was decidedly unsure of what to say to his former comrade in arms and sometime lover, so chose instead to assist Natalia and Xander (who was also obviously uncomfortable with the prospect of meeting Buffy again) as they tidied the conference room.
Finally as all but the Immortal, his Childer and Buffy remained, Natalia politely absenting herself with a quiet nod and “I will meet you back at the house.”
There seemed to be no good way to begin the conversation with the oldest surviving Slayer, so Spike took Xander’s hand and walked toward Anton. The Immortal smiled his encouragement as Xander took the lead and simply said, “Hey Buff.”
The blonde woman stared for a moment, her attention obviously on the closeness of the vampire and the Scoobie of old. Finally she cleared her throat and replied, “Hi, Xan… Spike, or is it William these days?”
Spike smiled a little, “Answer to anythin’ so long as it’s not rude. You and the Bit well?”
Buffy was obviously still a little thrown, despite having just spent the better part of three hours in the presence of the other two. “Oh… I… Huh? Yeah she’s good… but… you…? I thought everyone died in the alley? I mean they said… and then it was confirmed… Spike what happened? Did Angel…?”
Spike’s pained expression and slight shake of his head said it all, but he answered in a near whisper anyway, “He went down a bloody hero to the last. Took on a dragon… dragon died… took Angel with ‘im… No idea why I…”
Buffy’s reply was surprisingly hurtful and became increasingly agitated as she spoke, “And yet you did… You’re standing here and you’re fine. Better than, it seems. I thought Angel was supposed to get some ‘sandshoe’ rewardy thingy if he was all atone worthy? What happened with that? Did you get that instead? What? Explain to me…”
Xander felt unfettered grief and helpless regret flowing from his lover, and a desperate need to fight or run. Anton too was receiving the emotions clearly through their Sire/Childe link, made all the stronger for the top up feeding the three had been engaged in.
Anton was about to move forward to defend his relative, but it was Xander, still holding Spike’s hand tight, who stepped forward to face the petite blonde, “I don’t think Spike needs to explain anything Buffy. He had nothing to do with the outcome of that night, other than to support Angel in taking out the Black Thorn. It took Connor to pull him out of the rubble and look after him for any sort of physical recovery, the other is a work in progress. He lost his Grandsire, and has had to come to terms with things he can’t change. Let’s leave it at that, OK?” Xander’s stance was not quite as self-assured as his demeanor in the more public meeting and Buffy noticed a flinch as she stepped forward to argue her point. Interpreting the move as a challenge of sorts, she drew her own conclusions and went on the offensive. Scourge be damned, this was personal.
“Well I would, except that you’re not exactly Mr Objectivity these days. Giles said there was something up with you and they pulled you out of Africa ‘cause you were all ‘boo hoo, can’t deal with the world’ crazy. So a couple of slayers you were looking for got killed. So what? It happens. We all know that life’s not fair, but you went and chose to get yourself turned instead? How could you??! Have you even told Willow, ‘cause gee mister, you’d better be all soul having or else! And just FYI? There’s no point denying it, you may still look like Xander, but I can feel you, or have you forgotten my Slayer senses?” She glared at Xander and her hand slipped behind to her belt as fingered the stake the three men knew would be resting there.
It was Anton’s turn to step forward and put out a placating hand before Master vampire and Mate had an opportunity to fully react. “Buffy there has been no turning, but you are correct in one respect. Xander is different. He is William’s full vampire Mate. Their joining was completed in my presence according to tradition a few weeks back, while you were visiting your father, I believe.” When Buffy’s hand did not shift from her grasp on the stake, he continued, “I have formally taken the Aurelian Master William, his Mate Xander and William’s Full Blood vampire brother, Connor, as my family, my Childer, to cherish and care for.”
At the last statement Buffy’s eyes widened and she stood in silence for a moment, staring at her former lover, then turned to Spike with an accusatory glare. Her tone matched the look, “So not only did you stand by while Angel dusted, but you took my friend and turned him into your gay lover, and then went to my ex for backup with your little scheme. And I don’t know who this ‘brother’ is but I’m pretty sure he’s some easily led loser too. I wouldn’t put it past you to have stirred up all this demon trouble just to gain some sort of, I don’t know, status in the demon community. So what, you thought you would invite me and the other Slayers just to rub it in? Is that what this is? ‘Cause I’ve got an answer to that.”
In a move that was as swift as it was well practiced Buffy’s stake was flicked from her belt and sent hurtling with perfect aim toward Spike’s chest, but Anton was quicker. He snatched the stake from the air mid flight and was immediately standing in front of his childer, fangs to the fore facing the angry blonde.
Both Xander and Spike felt cool rage through the link with their Sire, and sent love and devotion back. The Immortal shook his head slowly and the fangs retracted. When he spoke it was in a quiet, measured tone that emphasized his age authority and wisdom, with a good dose of tacit disappointment. “You will not attack my Childer, neither verbally nor physically. Xander and William have made their choice and I am honored to call them family. The partnership was prophesied and sanctioned by the Powers of Dark and Light. You have made accusations that are as false as they are hurtful. When you are able to listen without malice, able to accept the truth and wonder of these two beautiful beings, then we will have more to discuss.”
Anton held his arms open and the two men acknowledged their full connection by taking their positions either side of their Sire in a protective embrace. Anton smiled at each of them and received love and devotion via the link in return before he turned his attention back to his former lover, “For now it is enough we rid ourselves of the Scourge threat and move on with our lives. Should you choose to assist in the coming action, well and good, but you will stay away from my family until you are ready to accept our clan.” With that Anton turned heel, tossing the stake casually at the Slayer’s feet as he made for the door, Spike and Xander close behind.
The short drive home was a quiet one, each man caught up in their own thoughts as they pondered the hurtful words of their sometime friend and ally. Finally, seated with drinks in hand on the balcony of Anton’s home, staring out over the park and city skyline, the Immortal ventured his opinion of the interaction with the oldest Slayer. “Buffy’s nature and calling does not embrace the notion of the other, of significant deviations from the norm. Her position will always be one of suspicion of demons and limited capacity to accept the horrors that are human cruelties. I do not condemn her for this and will not distract her from her task, however she must not threaten you.”
Anton finished his drink, stood and stretched, then yawned, “I think it’s time for bed. I, for one, need to rest. We have much to do tomorrow.”