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 suite was unusually dark, with only a small bedside lamp lighting the space. The Immortal was face down with a sheet tented over his figure, apparently asleep, but roused as soon as Xander and Spike entered.
A worryingly weak, “My boys,” was said with an audible sigh of relief. Connor was immediately around the bed to where Anton could see him from his prone position.
“We’re all here, Sire.”
“Please… I need to see…”
Xander gentled Spike into the lounge chair that had obviously served as Connor’s bed the night previous, if the pillow and rumpled blanket on the floor were any gauge, and joined the young man by his Sire.
Anton gave a sideways smile, “Ahh, Alex. I hear you acquitted yourself admirably last night. Kudos. It cannot have been easy for you.”
Xander was unsure how to respond, acutely aware that he had no recollection of events after Spike was shot, so answered with the truth, “I don’t remember Sire. Same as in Tivoli… I’m sorry… I…”
Anton stretched out an obviously blistered and badly burnt arm with significant effort and gently stroked Xander’s worried face, “You took down two full Scourge Masters with your bare hands according to the accounts of the wolves. Connor eliminated one and the other plus the driver were dealt with by our friends the wolves.”
“So… so I killed them?”
“The action was necessary. Many more would have died had we not eliminated the leaders. You were, in the words of many, lightening fast and blindingly effective against two armed foes. Their guns were drawn but no shots able to be fired. But you look worried… I must ask, Alexander, is it the fact you were successful in killing our foes, or that you cannot recall events, that bothers you?”
“Um… both I guess, but more the second one… I mean… I don’t understand… I…”
The Immortal gave his Childe’s Mate another pat, “When I am healed, we will visit a friend of mine. I think I know why, and it is not a cause of concern, rather the opposite in fact. You will understand after we have met with Senora Dio, so do not worry. As for killing - it was necessary. The individuals concerned would simply have gone on to recruit and train more for their army either here, or in other locations. Fanatics are always the same. There is no reasoning or agreements that could possibly have an effect. It is well they are gone. It gives balance a chance.”
The speech seemed to have exhausted the ancient as he closed his eyes with a groan.
Xander’s fangs dropped unconsciously as he felt Spike’s worry peak through their shared link. He looked over to his lover then opened his wrist and pushed it carefully against Anton’s lips. The offering was accepted. Anton’s injuries dictating that he drank swiftly. Just as Xander began to worry that he would not have enough left to feed Spike, Connor was beside him, reddened scalpel in hand and wrist ready to replace the brunette’s.
Eventually Anton fell away from the wrist and all fell still. Connor looked up a little bleary eyed with blood loss and fatigue. “I should get the doctor in – he said to call when we were, um, you know finished and Anton settled.”
Xander stood, noted that Spike had also fallen into a healing sleep despite his upright position, and left to find the physician.
It was not the youthful doctor of the night before, but a rather portly older gent who bowed respectfully and turned the lights on as he entered the room. “Do you wish to be present for the examination young Masters?”
Xander and Connor answered as one “Yes” and “Please”, and Spike blinked awake to observe also.
The sheet was drawn up and over a metal bar arrangement to reveal a back skinned and scorched by flame, with deep gouges from shrapnel and flying rock from the blast. And worse, Anton’s feet that were mere tatters of skin and sinew, burnt flesh and missing toes. Indeed what remained of the right foot was all but detached, clinging on by one or two ligaments on the inside of the ankle.
Xander could not help the sharp intake of air as he struggled to cope with the shocking sight, but managed to stand firm, albeit moving to where Spike was seated and grasping his Mate’s hand hard enough to hurt were the blonde human.
The doctor hummed and hah-ed concernedly then turned with somewhat of a smile, “Well, the regeneration and repair is progressing as expected, and with more familial blood, combined with his great age, I’m sure all will be well. We will know more in a week or so. Keep up the feeding and I will give you a uncture to gentle onto the worst of the burns, though for the pain, I would suggest saliva of any or all of you three Masters applied beforehand if you are able. That would also help to speed the healing process. I will also leave you Master Alexander and Master Connor, with a fortifying elixir so your blood may replenish more swiftly. Now… Let me examine the other patient.”
He moved to Spike and quickly checked the wounds on chest and leg, which Xander was very happy to note, had closed up and were healing nicely although complete healing internally was yet to occur.
After the examination and the doctor departed, Spike gave Xander a pointed look, “Lift me over to Sire would you?”
Xander looked quizzical but did as instructed, placing Spike as carefully as possible beside their Sire and held his arm while the vampire carried out the doctor’s instructions and licked the wounds on Anton’s back as far as he could reach before his own pain stopped the process. Connor watched with a mixture of horror and fascination, but eventually got past his own squeamishness and joined in where Spike left off.
Xander then lifted Spike back to the chair and returned to the end of the bed. Swallowing hard, he tentatively began laving the badly damaged feet as gently and thoroughly as possible, even venturing to lift each leg in turn and attend to the front of the almost destroyed calves. Connor and he then spread the uncture as instructed, fed the barely conscious Anton once more, then left the room.
As the three made to exit, Spike once more in Xander’s strong arms, Natalia was waiting politely. “I will sit with him. You three go and rest. I will wake you if there is any change or he calls for you.”
Connor gave a sigh of relief and exited to find the guest room, now empty of the many wounded of the previous evening, and the Mated pair returned to their suite.
Two days later presented a very different picture. Anton was able to sit up, though feet and lower legs were still several days off healing completely. Just as suggested by the doctor, healing saliva combined with familial feeding and the uncture - the makeup of which Xander was reluctant to ask about given its rather ‘blue cheese meets sickly sweet honey and eucalyptus’ smell, and goopy amber consistency – had done their job and the Immortal was well on the way to full recovery. And it was just as well. Connor’s sisters were due to arrive late evening and the Immortal and three Aurelians had no intention of worrying the two girls with their recent activities.
Despite protests to the contrary, Anton insisted that the girls should stay at his home, quietly instructing Natalia that she had earned a break and arranged for her to take five days off. She agreed but asked to remain in Rome, Anton therefore insisting she stay at the Villa Laetitia – an exclusive luxury boutique hotel – at his expense, and to accept a very generous allowance on top of her usual wage to spend as she liked in recompense for all her hard work in the previous couple of weeks. Natalia, ever the organized PA immediately rang an old school friend to announce the good news, booked the hotel as instructed, and booked tickets for two shows she had been hoping to attend.
So it was that Connor took the car and picked up Claire and Pippa at the train station around ten in the evening for their two and a half days in Rome. Meanwhile Xander, Spike and Anton tried to come up with a feasible story for Anton’s incapacitation. In the end a “sporting accident” was decided upon, with Anton insistent that despite the pain, as long as his lower legs and feet were covered and supported, he could manage on crutches if absolutely necessary, and a wheelchair would suffice for any prospective outings.
After all the worry and pressure of the last few days, the arrival of Connor’s sisters was a blessing. Claire was literally bouncing with delight as she entered their temporary abode, quickly explored the lower story, put her bags away in the assigned bedroom and bounded up the stairs to inspect the rooftop terrace and greet Spike and Xander. Pippa was not far behind, but her typical reserve dictated a more quiet entrance.
The evening was a pleasant one, clear and warm, made all the warmer by the addition of the two girls who regaled Connor and his relatives (their relatives too, as they were reminded gently once or twice) with their various adventures. Several trips by first Claire, then Pippa, were made to collect purchases to show off to their audience, and a small gift giving ceremony resulted just before everyone retired for the night.
Spike and Xander were handed a slim line T-shirt each, Spike’s reading “Fidanzato” (Boyfriend) in red, and Xander’s “Io sono con lui” (I’m with him) in green writing. They were received with much laughter and the pair immediately disappeared to put on said articles, emerging in short order to another round of giggles and clapping. Connor’s present was, of all things, a snow globe with Palermo’s Teatro Politeama at its center. It was received with a rolling of the eyes from Connor and lots of giggles from his sisters – apparently the gift a result of a sibling in-joke.
Pippa then shyly placed the girls’ beautifully wrapped gift onto Anton on his lap. “It’s not much, but we’ve had such a wonderful time and thought you might find somewhere for this.” It was a small original oil painting of two girls standing in silhouette on a beach at sunset, obviously the Mediterranean from the buildings in the background and the vibrant colors.
Anton was visibly touched by the gesture, gifting the two girls with a truly beautiful smile and a kiss on both cheeks for each delighted girl, “I will have it framed and hung in the entrance hall in Florence! That way, every time I come home I will be reminded the sea and of you two, and our lovely holiday together.”
The men allowed Connor to see the girls to their room then Xander carried their Sire to his room, relieved that the Immortal, though looking a little tired, was still smiling. Settled, damaged limbs and back treated, and fed, Anton slipped into slumber easily and his Childer took to their beds exhausted but happy.
Just before nodding off Xander gave a small snort, startling his bed buddy “What you nit? Was just about asleep.”
“Not nothin’ if’n you have to disturb a fella.”
Xander rolled onto his side and kissed his partner soundly, then stated with a smile that Spike could clearly spot in the dark, “Boyfriend… I’m with him… just… Be fun to wear them when we finally catch up with Giles.”
Spike smiled at the thought but grumbled, “Just go to sleep ya daft bugger.”
The next two days were a whirlwind of tourist activities and shopping for the girls, Connor and Xander accompanying the pair for a daytime look at the Colosseum, Parthenon, and Villa Borghese, and a number of other landmarks the pair had bypassed (or under-passed as the case may be) on the evening of the Scourge battle. The Villa Borghese park was filled with families and groups of tourists all enjoying the summer sunshine. Xander and Connor even insisting they stop to play at a special Lego exhibit in one part so they could “build stuff” with the many other ‘big children’ (read adult fathers and friends!) doing the same. The girls also wanted to see the Vatican, Castle St Angelo and the Spanish Steps with ‘lots of shopping’, but were more than happy to venture out unaccompanied on the second day which suited the men fine.
Their last evening was given to visiting the Fiesta, Anton agreeing to accompany them, despite being wheelchair bound for the occasion, the girls thrilled when invited backstage at Oz’s behest. Little was said, in part due to the next band being in full swing, however the meeting was fun, particularly for Claire who thought it “uber cool” to be greeted easily as family by Oz’s wife, Molly. Spike was still walking rather stiffly and their visit was only brief, with promises to drop in to the band’s residence when Anton was fully recovered.
The departure of the Reillys was set for 9pm the evening of the final day of their trip. The three headed out early for a final look around and last minute shop in the morning, meanwhile Xander answered the intercom and door twice for deliveries for Anton, and had just finished feeding his Mate then his Sire when the intercom buzzed for the third time. He answered in what he hoped sound reasonable Italian, “Residenza di Immortal”, only to be answered with an “Um, Hi. Um… look it’s Dawn Summers? Buffy’s sister. I’ve come to see Xander and Spike if they’re here… or you know… if you know where I might find them?… Um… If that’s OK.”
Spike felt a sudden jolt of anxiety through the link and came out of Anton’s room to investigate. “Who is it Pet?”
“It’s um… it’s Dawn… I guess Buffy must have told her we were here… well not here, here exactly but…”
“Don’t be silly Luv, let the Bit in. Not like she’s got any great beef against us that I c’n recollect.” Xander depressed the intercom button to open the security grill before Spike joined him at the base of the ground floor stairs.
The door opened and seconds later, Xander then Spike had a laughing almost sobbing, tall young woman in their arms. Spike groaning as she squeezed his injured chest just a little too hard. Finally she stood back, and to the men’s great surprise, promptly slapped both of them none too gently.
Spike’s indignant, “Oi, what’s that for?” was tempered by Xander’s quiet, “Why don’t you come upstairs and we can talk.”
Despite Dawn’s slap, she was still smiling albeit a little tearfully, and nodded then let herself be led by the hand by Spike up two flights of stairs and out onto the sunlit patio. It took several seconds for her to register that Spike was… “Oh my Ghod! Spike! You’re in the sun?!! So… What?... I mean… How?! Oh my Ghod, you’re human!”
Xander came out with a tray of cold drinks and a hastily prepared biscuits and cheese platter, placing the tray down on the patio table, he then moved to stand behind Spike and squeezed his shoulder as the vampire answered quietly, “No Pet. Still a vamp, well mostly. Seems the Powers have done some bendin’ of the rules. Not sure their agenda, but me ‘n m’ by here part of the Immortal’s mob now, so got some side benefits is all. ‘N just to let you know for the record as it were, Xan here ‘n yours truly are formally mated pair.”
“Buffy never tells me anything! You know I had to find out from Andrew that you and Angel came for a visit before… Oh Spike!... I didn’t even know you came back after Sunnydale! I grieved for you! For weeks! And Buffy was all “It’s for the best” and “He was a hero but get over it”. She is such a b-i-t-c-h! And then you and Angel were in some big battle and then nothing… and Buffy was totally “We don’t talk about it”, like we every talk about anything! And then she comes home raving mad about the Immortal – who she dropped by the way even though he’s totally dream-worthy – and something about Xander being there and some fight cause he’s all evil. *Then* one of Andrew’s Slayers comes shopping with me yesterday and was all “The Immortal’s Childer” this and “William and Alexander” that, and when she described you, I rang Andrew. And *he* had to tell me everything – well obviously what he knew from some meeting or other and Giles, but do you know what has me really pissed… *again*? Buffy doesn’t tell me anything! And I *so* would have come to see you before! And now…”
Finally she seemed to run out of puff and began to cry, saying in a breathy voice, “I totally would have come…”
Spike stood and reached down and took Dawn’s hand, taking it to his lips and kissing the back gently, “I know you would Pet. But now you know… and before we hear all your news, I should go check on Sire…”
Xander snapped into action, “I’ll go Spike – you stay. If he needs both of us I’ll call OK?”
“Thanks luv.” Spike turned and gave Xander a toe-curling kiss – as much for Dawn’s appreciative benefit as his own reassurance and measure of calm.
Dawn made a point of fanning herself while she grinned at Xander’s departing back. “Oi you! No eyein’ off my Mate’s derriere you harpie!”
“Hah, as if! I might have crushed on him, and you for that matter, back in Sunnydale but I was only a kid!”
Spike gave a theatrical pout, “Seen the error in your young ways then.”
“No way! Errors abound here buddy, anyway, I know you and Xander are totally taken (and by the way *so* gay). And by the way how did that happen, I mean you and Xan?”
By the time Xander had fed and attended to their Sire, Spike had given Dawn the abridged version of events: adventures in L.A.; his rescue by (“OMG, Angel has a son!”) Connor; return to England, where he and Xander began again; and their adventures after, including the Mating ceremony. He was just about to explain the tour of Italy with Connor and his sisters when Xander appeared again.
Spike immediately broke off his story, “Sire OK?”
“Yeah. He’s asking for you. I think he’d like to come up and see Dawn in a bit. Will you be alright to lift him?”
Spike was already on his feet, surrendering his chair to his partner, “No problem Luv. You can fill Dawnie here in on our tour d’ force ‘round bella Italia. Back shortly. An no tellin’ her anythin’ too juicy Luv… not while I’m absent anyway.”
Dawn gave a fake pout then grinned as Xander settled, “So… I guess Spike’s told you about most of it?”
Dawn leaned over and patted the brunette on the knee, “Yeah… and I’m… I’m so happy for you both. And I think it’s awesome regardless of what Buffy says. Anyway, tell me about your trip. I so would have loved to be there. What’s Connor like? And his sisters… Oh… oops… shutting up now.”
Xander, like Spike, focused on the highlights of the few days on the road and the highlights (sans violent attacks) and spoke easily of the joy of familial love the company shared throughout the journey.
Spike found his Sire eyes closed and reclining in the middle of his king sized bed eyes closed but his customary serene look on his handsome features. His eyes opened as Spike approached the bed and a broad smile greeted the younger vampire. “I take it Dawn is here. She is a special young lady is she not?”
“A right sweetheart, Sire. M’ boy says you’re up for a trip upstairs. Need a top up first?” Spike sat on the bed and bared his neck close enough that Anton did not have to move much. A cursory amount was taken abd puncture marks licked closed before the blonde sat back. “Want a quick check on your healin’ bits?”
Anton sighed and nodded, “If you would, thank you. It is many years since I have been so injured, I had forgotten how long the process can take.”
Spike lifted the soft coverings and inspected the Immortal’s lower limbs, happy to note the now in tact feet and legs that, though still raw looking, were fully covered with skin and had all toes in place. The muscles were well on their way to recovery though it would obviously take some time to rehabilitate to their previous glory.
“Be right as rain in no time Sire. Need to get you into the gym for a bit I reckon, but the doc’s advice seems to have been on the money.”
“He has never failed me in the past. Now, if I could trouble you, I would like to see Dawn, if only to explain what occurred with Buffy. I would not want her to think that I bear her any ill feeling.”
“Dawn’s her own person, always has been. Loyal to big sis, but not silly when it comes to believin’ everything she hears.”
Anton allowed himself to by lifted and carried until they were bathed in sunshine. His feet lowered, he walked with Spike’s assistance, to a seat by Dawn.
The remainder of the afternoon was truly pleasant, Connor and his sisters returned from their shopping, surprised to find a visitor and pleased to meet the pretty Californian. All three sat and enjoyed their last afternoon in Italy chatting to Dawn and their relatives. Dawn and Poppie had mutual interests in languages, and Claire was fascinated by the former Key’s knowledge and love of Italian fashion – and Italian boys.
Connor was polite but let the girls do most of the talking, excusing himself after a while in favor of packing for their return home, the girls doing likewise an hour later. Dawn took her leave at that point but promised to drop by again sometime in the following week and “totally not tell Buffy” about her visit.
Finally the Reilly’s were all packed, bags by the ground floor landing and the car ordered. The Immortal, Spike and Xander had each given Connor a nip of familial blood “for the road” – in private of course.
In the few minutes before the car arrived, Anton whispered to Xander who collected one of the parcels that had arrived earlier and delivered it to his Sire who was enscosed on one of the ground floor lounge suites. Opening the larger box with a letter knife, the Immortal proceeded to hand the three Reillys a small jewelry box each.
Pippa gasped as she opened the item to reveal a stunning set of deep blue sapphire and diamond earrings, and matching (though bigger stone) necklace all in yellow gold. Claire’s presentation box contained a similar set, though different design with rubies and diamonds, and Connor received a ring with a black diamond embedded at the base of the Immortal’s insignia. Xander then handed each of the Reillys an open return ticket “on behalf of William and I, so you can visit sooner rather than later”.
With the last goodbyes words were definitely inadequate as emotions were mixed for all present – particularly those with vampiric natures, so in the end there were hugs all around and adoration in the chaste kisses. It was enough and somewhat tearful but smiling faces were waved off finally.
That night, around the time the Reillys would be somewhere over the Atlantic, Spike and Xander made slow blissful love, Spike well enough to “give my Mate a right proper seein’ to” for the first time since the battle.