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.
Xander seemed distracted as he undressed and was standing shirt in hand staring blankly at the open window of their bedroom as Spike sidled up behind and touched him on the shoulder, “Penny for your thoughts Luv.”
“Wha..? Oh. Sorry. Just…” Spike was jolted by waves of regret, sadness and uncertainty, and images of numerous faces of young women, some recent from the coven, some obviously much earlier Sunnydale memories, and many more of the girls he had sought out in Africa. It was particular the latter images that were the burning ones coming through the link. “I… it’s just that I can’t help thinking that… I mean it’s stupid I know, but I kind of feel like all the women I try to help end up… I don’t know… hurt… or worse.”
“What are you on about Luv? You tellin’ me that every female you meet is at risk somehow? What a load of bollocks! Think of all the times you helped the women around you, even the ones you didn’t know. And I hardly think you’re the common factor when it comes to trouble. Granted, your friends I’m talkin’ here, Red, the Slayer, even Anya and the Bit had a time of it, an’ some still are, truth be known, but that’s hardly your doin’. Hell Pet, there’s a good chance none of us would be here at all if it weren’t for you.
“Fact of the matter was and still is, dangers we face with demons an’ such are different from the norm, and for the most part, the rest of the world goes on none the wiser. And if Connor’s Pippa n’ Claire choose to hang about their brother long enough, they might need some protectin’ by you, but don’t mean they’ll get hurt – and certainly not because of you. So what’s this really about?”
“Buffy said… she was so angry. I mean F#$% Spike she threw a stake! You’ve done nothing to hurt her and she just decided… because of me… she just…”
Spike took his lover in his arms, gently pushed his head down so the brunette’s lips were at his neck where a pulse should have been before continuing, causing Xander to feel as much as hear the rich baritone. “And Anton caught it. Listen to me, Pet. Slayer has and will always have her own agenda. She has to see things in black and white, appoint blame and act on instinct. Anything else goes against her nature. Add to that a good measure of female temperament and self involved California gal to the mix and you’ve got your answer.”
Spike felt the hint of a smile into his neck at the last part, as Xander nuzzled softly, but it was only fleeting as his own painful memories of his Grandsire’s last moments leaked unbidden through their link.
“She was thrown by the whole Angel dyin’ ‘is final death, I reckon. Don’t seem to ‘ve registered that he’d moved on, had a right pretty wolf girl there towards the end. He weren’t blissfully happy but they were good together. We’d patched our differences, but then family an’ all.” Xander chose the pause in monologue to let his small fangs drop and pierced his lover’s neck baring his own at the same time and feeling the sting and reciprocated comfort suckling.
They stood for many minutes before Spike pulled away and looked Xander lovingly in his good eye. “She made her choices pet. Didn’t bother to even see you when you were really crook now, did she? ‘Cause she doesn’t bloody well get it!” Xander looked sadly at his lover but did not counter the point.
“You cannot deny it luv, she has no bloody idea what a real human warzone is like. Can’t accept that demons are a bit like little boys in the playground, bit of biffo to establish the pecking order then things calm down, that there are rules albeit most are instinctive but there none the same. Humans on the other hand… Seen enough wars meself to know… fanaticism ‘n hatred of difference, heck the term collateral damage was invented by that lot I reckon… be it religion, colour or creed, don’t matter. ‘S why the Scourge is so bloody dangerous, actin’ like the worst humans, ‘n why the rest of us need to sort ‘em out quick ‘n proper.”
“Now Slayer’s got that plus a good measure of her own prejudice agin all things vamp related, so of course she’s gonna blame me for anythin’ we’ve got goin’. Question comes back to this Luv. Are you happy with us, with you bein’ mine and me yours for all time?”
“Spike how can you even ask that?! I love you! I’m yours, all of me every… Ghods Spike you are my everything!”
“And your changes? And Anton in our lives?”
“I can’t imagine life without him now! He has shared so much of himself with us… and it feels… I feel complete. As for the changes…” He paused, felt his small fangs drop and deliberately nicked his tongue then licked his lips provocatively, then all but growled, “Wouldn’t be without them…”
Spike’s was immediately in his own game face and extremely aroused by the sight, “Right then…”
The next two minutes were a blur as the two lovers stripped at breakneck speed, found their way to the bedroom and with a flurry of fangs and hands and limbs. Xander felt his mate’s love and desire as though it were a living fire bursting forth from his very core and lighting every cell as it spread. With a minimum of preparation he was breached as both lovers sank fangs into their partner’s throat. They came within seconds but the blonde remained embedded to Xander’s great relief. He wrapped his legs around his partner and held him in place, waiting the few requisite minutes before they both felt arousal anew and Spike began to move once more.
This time rather than frenzied, the whole event was permeated by gentle kisses the pace was slow and tender expressions of love and soft moans of appreciation. Sated for a second, then third time, the two curled up around each other, Xander maneuvering his darling vampire until he spooned him completely from behind. The last few words exchanged were those of adoration and complete, quiet contentment. Each softly smiling man drifting into slumber feeling whole, home, complete.
The pair woke around midday to bright sunshine flooding the terrace just beyond their bedroom. Anton was seated outside cigarette in hand and small coffee cup on the table. His morning newspaper was neatly folded off to one side as he focused intently on the folder of documents in front of him.
Spike was showered and dressed before Xander had fully registered the blonde had moved. It gave the blonde the perfect opportunity for a “modicum of evil” as he eloquently put it, as bed clothes were whipped away and his lover left exposed to the cool air of the bedroom. All was forgiven as kisses peppered the bronzed torso and mouth, but rather than another round of lovemaking (as Xander hoped) the human was promptly lifted and deposited in the bathroom with a curt, “Come on Pet, get a wriggle on. Sire needs us I reckon.”
The remainder of the day was spent taking phonecalls and reviewing battle plans for the night. The three were in the dining room with maps, laptops and all manner of printed documents spread in front of them, when their ‘war meeting’ was interrupted by the clearing of a male throat from the doorway. They turned as one to see a grinning, if somewhat tired looking, Connor leaning against the entrance. “Hi. Got a spot for the Destroyer on your team?”
Anton stood immediately and with preternatural speed, had enveloped the young man in a welcoming embrace, “You are most welcome… Most welcome my dear boy…”
They settled the sandy blonde with a coffee and some hurriedly prepared snacks and waited for an explanation. Spike’s patience and curiosity was the prompt for the inevitable question, “So how the hell did you get here so quickly, why and where are the girls?”
Connor grinned around his focaccia, swallowed the large mouthful he’d just bitten off and gave the summary, “You know I logged out part way through the second half of the meeting. After that, I talked to Pippa not about the whole Scourge thing, but about wanting to spend some more quality time with you guys. We agreed to split up for a couple of days – to be honest I was a bit over churches, monuments and shopping expeditions – and before you ask, it was all good, just figure the girls need some bonding time and I’d kind of like to be here for… you know… Anyways, we were only four hours away, so I jumped on the early train. All roads lead to Rome apparently, and here I am. Oh and girls will be here Sunday. They’re planning to hang for couple of days before the flight home. So… that’s me. Now what’s the what for tonight?”
It was dark by the time the four left Anton’s home and on their way to the agreed pre battle meeting point, and the Immortal was genuinely looking forward to whatever the night might bring. His adoptive Childer were everything he could possibly hope for: individually and collectively powerful; loyal and loving toward him and family above all others; intelligent and wise beyond their years; and (he mused with a smile) quite easy on the eye and fun to be around… Ah yes, the powers of dark and light had truly blessed him after so many years alone.
He smiled benevolently at his boys as they all piled into the waiting car. In truth he looked, to the outside world, like a sibling or young cousin, until one saw the depth of age and power revealed only by his eyes, and the wisdom of the ancient spirit within. They would be tested tonight, but he knew they would prevail and the city would be safe.
The meeting place was in a large cavern underneath the Trajan’s Market – the restored Roman forum complex. Rather than being filled with demon fighters as Xander half expected, there were representatives of each clan present to check in for any final instructions and to share the most recent intelligence. The small crowd parted for the Immortal and his Childer, whispered confirmation of the identity of Connor causing a good number of gasps of surprise and furtive glances in the young Aurelian’s direction.
The plan was to track the Scourge, allowing them to gather in numbers until they approached their target area for the night, as had been their habit, then attack from all sides, cutting off all means of escape, destroying the main group, and capturing leaders where possible. Andrew and his Slayers (minus Buffy apparently) would follow the lead tracking party and protect any innocents caught in the crossfire.
An hour later in the Rione VII Rigola sector near the banks of the Fiume Tevere, a small skirmish between a lead party of vampires and a small scouting party of the Scourge marked the beginning of the battle for the supremacy of Rome. It quickly became evident that the altercation was occurring both above and below ground, as the noise of a blast and consequent shaking of narrow alleyways and buildings in the near vicinity was accompanied by blood curdling screams and the sounds of a vicious clash under the feet of the street fighters.
As warned, the Scourge carried human weapons, guns, and used them with varied success on their opposition. Being forewarned of the possibility, most of the demons who were naturally bullet proof – in the most literal sense – around certain body parts, had added armor over their vulnerable regions and were able to penetrate the surprised Scourge mob with relative ease, cutting a ‘V’ through the main line and forcing hand to hand combat with the much faster, more vicious vampires and others with similar gifts for fighting, following immediately behind the first push.
Spike and Connor were in their element, flanking their Sire, with Xander shoulder to shoulder with Spike. Each had a short sword and vicious dagger, though the latter had yet to be drawn by anyone, as the fangs and body blows brought down all they encountered.
At some point, the battleground shifted entirely underground as they followed the trail of destruction, a point not lost on Xander who grimly noted the scattering of not just demon but rotting human remains in several larger caverns. The stench of decaying flesh was acrid, almost palpable and horribly familiar. His jaw clenched and he swallowed bile as he slashed his way free to take on yet another attacker with renewed determination, and worthy of his Aurelian name and growing reputation.
More and more waves of Scourge members seemed to be appearing from all sides, as the net of Anton’s forces pressed the battle into an ever smaller area, and despite the rate of kills and/or disabling of their opposition, the numbers were threatening to overwhelm their fighting force.
Spike looked over to his Sire as the magnitude of their task became evident. Anton’s grim countenance said it all. They simply had to prevail for the sake of the city and beyond. They had discussed this. Breaking the Scourge here would have long lasting and dramatic repercussions right across Europe. After a moment to catch Anton’s eyes and give a curt nod of acknowledgement, he redoubled his efforts and managed to cut a path to a tunnel junction, meeting their own forces who were pressing the throng of Scourge inward.
It was evident to the Aurelians and the Immortal that the leaders of the fanatics were not with their fighters. It was Connor who saw him first. A Scourge member with back armband and some sort of insignia had an earpiece, who was obviously both sending and receiving information and had begun to retreat. Wordlessly the youngest Aurelian conveyed his line of sight to his family members and took to the tunnels behind him, Spike, Xander and Anton, and five other vampires including the Master of Rome in hot pursuit.
The fighters they encountered down the particularly narrow tunnel were not the ‘cannon fodder’ Scourge members of earlier, but obviously trained, armed and deadly militia. It was only Anton and the Master of Rome’s knowledge of the tunnels that truly saved them as gunfire deafened everyone in the confined space and smoke impeded even those with night vision. Ducking into recesses in the tunnels and taking short detours around areas now blocked by either bodies or rubble, Anton’s group managed to avoid serious injury and fight their way through the melee to reach what appeared to be a sealed bunker with two of the biggest demons Xander had seen to date, both armed to the hilt.
Spike finished off the last of their opposition but pulled up short as Xander hissed, “Explosives. Big guy on the right. Leaders safe on the other side no doubt.”
Connor heard and ducked back to a side tunnel he had sheltered in some twenty meters behind them, as he thought he had noticed a street access evident in there. Forgoing climbing the ladder, he vaulted half way up, pushed free the cover, checked the surrounds swiftly then returned before the others had realized his absence.
He moved silently to where Anton was waiting shielded by a kink in the tunnel wall. “We have a way out – and they must have another access. If they blow this tunnel to hell, leaders might make a move.”
As Anton nodded, The Master of Rome edged forward and muttered, “I know where we are, and I think I know their exit point beyond the blockade. Strategy?”
Anton looked back to his Childer then over to the Master, in a low, growled reply he answered, “Take these two out as they intended and let the Generals think the battle is won on this side. Catch the rats as they flee or trap them in their own safe hole, it matters not. Get everyone out of the tunnel and lead us to the other exit. Now!”
The other Master vampire wasted no time, taking his four Childer and silently moving to the exit Connor had cleared. Spike waved Connor back also and he followed, pulling a reluctant Xander behind him.
Anton turned briefly to Spike, “Give me your dagger, then leave.”
Spike’s eyes widened, “No Sire… please! If you kill one…”
“The other will detonate the explosion. I know. I am old, and faster than you. Now go. You must be ready to take the generals. Please.” Anton caressed Spike’s game face, nicking his thumb as it passed sharp fangs and smeared the blood on the blonde’s lips, “Trust me. I will be behind you. If not, then you may have some digging to do when the battle is won.”
Spike licked his lips reflexively, receiving his Sire’s blessing in the process. He kissed the dark man squarely on the lips and whispered, “Ghods speed Sire.” Then ran for the escape exit.
Xander was waiting anxiously on the surface and pulled Spike clear as soon as the blonde emerged. Seconds later the an enormous underground thump and explosion was heard, buildings shook and the street developed a distinct bulge then seemed to collapse in on itself. Tiles and debris began raining down from several of the apartment blocks and car and house alarms rang out. Spike flung himself back to the manhole they had exited from, which was now exuding a huge flume of dust and smoke. He reached down blindly, hoping upon hope… and a strong hand grabbed hold.
He pulled hard just as a second blast rocked the area and a very battered, dusty, but in tact Anton was all but ejected from the hole with the force of the consequent shockwave.
The three were all laid flat for a moment, but only a moment, as each regained their senses. Between them Xander and Spike hauled their Sire up to standing and took off at a run, following the others to where they suspected the Scourge leaders would try to make their escape.
Connor was waiting worriedly at the corner of the next street and waved them over, looking less than reassured as the extent of Anton’s injuries became clear as the three approached. The Immortal lifted his head momentarily and attempted a smile, “Got the bastards, now put me down here and you three go finish the rest.”
Spike objected first, “Sire you’re back and legs are a bloody mess. We can’t just…”
“William, just go. The Master of Rome cannot do this without you. If I am not here when you get back, go straight home. I will meet you there.” With that Anton slumped against the wall he was propped up on and seemed to pass out.
Spike gave an almighty roar of anguish then turned to the others, “Come on. You heard Sire. Let’s finish this.”