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 Immortal was deemed “completely recovered” by the good Dr Brotolio exactly a fortnight after the battle, though he had been walking without too much discomfort for three days before that. Spike and Xander still kept up a fairly regular exchange of blood with Anton but now it went both ways, was lesser in volume, and was for comfort rather than necessity.
Problems with the Scourge were placed on hold, at least as far as the Immortal and his adoptive Childer were concerned. All three were fully aware that there was still the issue of thousands of demon families still fleeing war ravaged areas, along with many times their number of humans.
It was clearly understood by the UN, via their official demon liaison officer (and personal friend of Anton’s) that the demon communities would deal with their crisis independently, as clan rules and borders often varied from human. Consultation would take place and assistance granted where necessary and possible.
The problem with the Scourge had been dealt with for now, certainly in regions in and around Rome, and Anton counseled calm rather than retribution. The focus needed to be on assimilating the newcomers – the problem hardly a new one, the Immortal pointed out sadly.
Natalia returned from her break and a decision made to remain in Rome for an extra ten days or so. There was much to catch up on and a few critical issues Anton felt needed immediate attention.
Xander’s appointment with the specialist doctor regarding his blackouts during battle was not discussed, rather it was alluded to once or twice then it simply happened, unexpectedly and, strangely easily.
Five days after Connor and the girls had departed, the three were seated at the dining table that had become a temporary office for three. Laptops were open and phones at hand, and a large set of building plans graced one end of the table (Xander’s project designate). Natalia had answered the door to an elegant, middle-aged woman identifying herself as “Giatros Senora Dio, old friend of the Immortal’s personal physician”.
Anton greeted her in his usual openly friendly and calm fashion, and nodded to Spike and Xander, excusing he and the good doctor. Spike was a little suspicious but when Xander looked momentarily panicked, he sent calm and naughty thoughts through their mating link by way of distraction. It worked and the man relaxed.
Shortly after, the absent pair emerged, still speaking quietly about, from what Spike could discern, a coven financial matter, certainly nothing to do with Xander. He whispered as much to Xander and both went back to their own business matters.
Ultimately Anton asked the good doctor to join them on the terrace for coffee and the three men and the good lady doctor took a seat on their sundrenched terrace. As Spike and Xander settled Dr Dio volunteered that she had “recently been to the same international retreat as the High Mistress Willow, though purely as a participant this year. I forewent the invitation to lead some of the sessions. She is in very good health – both physically and spiritually.”
While she was speaking Anton served the coffee kindly brought out on a tray by Natalia. Out of the corner of his eye, Spike noted Anton pouring a small vial of liquid into one, but when he turned and looked quizzically at his Sire, the Immortal gave the vampire an almost imperceptible shake of the head. Spike knew something was afoot and correctly guessed it was to do with Xander when the same cup was handed to his Mate.
They all sat and sipped the coffee amicably, commenting on the fine day and the joy of Rome’s summer season. Dr Dio had just finished explaining the location of the outdoor swimming pool right next to the Colosseum (All'Ombra del Colosseo), and Xander was responding with enthusiasm, “That sounds great, Anton do you th… Ohh sh…”
Spike was on his feet instantly and caught his Mate as the brunette’s eye rolled back and he fell from his chair in a dead faint.
Anton was also standing as Spike lifted the limp form, “Come William, it is best you place him on your bed, this may take some time.”
Spike simply nodded and moved quickly to the couple’s bedroom where he lay his unconscious lover down carefully. He then turned to Anton, concern and upset flowing freely through the Sire-Childe link. Anton’s firm hand landed on his shoulder and he was pulled back into a comforting hug while Dr Dio approached the bed.
“It is interesting that Alexander’s system has reacted thus to the serum.”
“Interestin’?! Bloody hell wasn’t he supposed to do that? What went wrong?” Spike was becoming more agitated by the second, but Anton’s grip did not lessen. “He will be fine William. Let us leave the room now and let the doctor attend him.”
“I’m *not* goin’ anywhere whilst my boy there is out of it! What’s she going to do to ‘im? Sire… please!” Despite his protests, Anton firmly but gently guided him back out onto the terrace. With a last backward glance, Anton pulled the bi-fold doors along their track as he manhandled the blonde outside.
“Sire, please tell me what is going on? Our link is so quiet!”
“William, Dr Dio simply wishes to examine Alexander’s base line aura before allowing his mind to reveal to her some of the secrets of his spiritual past. Normally a subject ingesting the mixture we are using would simply become more relaxed and suggestible. In Alex’s case, it is evident that there is more going on than we had anticipated, and his system has simply shut down to allow the process to take its course. The outcome will be the same however, and a diagnosis and way forward, satisfactory I’m sure. Doctor Dio is much older and wiser than you might think. You must trust her, dear Childe. Now we must simply wait, so sit with me, William. Let us just relax and send dear Alex our calm thoughts, it is all we can do.”
Spike sat reluctantly, somewhat relieved when Anton produced his elegant cigarette case and offered him a clove cigarette. They smoked in silence for a time, Spike straining to hear any evidence of what was transpiring in the room close by. When a few moans were emitted then Xander’s distress was transmitted through the mating link Spike made to stand, but Anton’s hand was on his knee stilling him once more. “Doctor Dio will call us when she needs us to participate. It may take some time.”
Xander felt himself falling backwards, and kept falling and falling wishing, he could land but frightened too of the consequences. Initially he fought to turn around but gave up as he seemed to have no control or no body, he was not too sure, fast coming to the conclusion that he was in fact in a very confusing daydream. It seemed as though every face he knew and many he didn’t recognize but felt familiar (humans and all manner of other demons and creatures) were appearing and disappearing in quick succession as he fell, each with a question or message that he knew to be important but could not quite process due to the speed of the transition from one face to the next.
Ultimately he did land, none to gently but at least the surface was somewhat level and dry. Sand, he thought, why sand? He moved to climb up the side of what seemed to be a terraced well arrangement and in his rush failed to notice, until at the surface, that he was unable to stand vertical, so stayed on all fours. It was all a dream, he remembered telling himself that once or twice, but it *felt* real, as dreams went. It was memories mixed up in a dreamscape.
He was running across sparsely vegetated tundra with a group of others of his ilk, canines of some description. Whatever they were doing it seemed imperative he catch up to his alpha, tell him it was dangerous, something was wrong. He sensed rather than saw another predator, then another, flanking their group. He broke off and turned toward the would-be attackers before the larger animals had a chance to react. He noticed the rest of the pack halt in their flight, and return to where he was facing down the largest of the beasts. As another of the attacking number tried to leap over him and make for the pups that were struggling at the rear of the pack, his mind switched to auto. He became aware again a few moments later with bloodied muzzle, foul taste in his mouth and two dead opponents at his feet, their throats torn out.
His world tilted and he was again in animal form, this time standing in mud up to his knees his mouth stuffed full of some sort of long succulent *grass* of all things. The bird that was gently pecking something from his ear tickled the hairs for a while, and though the scene was relaxed he was hyper aware. Once again there were predators about. The bird sounded the alarm and the herd panicked, beginning to run, but somehow organized so the majority of calves were at the center.
On drier ground now, they slowed and the larger beasts, himself included, turned toward their attackers, dogs of some description. He felt the adrenalin rush, put down his huge horned head and stamped the ground, and when that did nothing to deter the predators, he charged, not once but several times. On the third try he connected with a dog creature, impaled it on a horn and flung it. The rest became a blur and again he came to bloodied with the bodies of several badly injured dogs strewn around him.
And so the dream progressed, sometimes he was a beast, sometimes human, sometimes something ‘other’, and always with the same basic premise, usually he was aware of winning the day, sometimes of being taken down himself but others escaping, yet without exception the exact details of his actions at the height of battle eluded him.
One thing was clear - in none of the scenarios did he attack first, always fighting in defense of others or to right a wrong. And, oddly, throughout the dream (or whatever it was) Xander was aware of another presence, sometimes manifested in whatever form he was in, sometimes not, but always there at the beginning and end of battle, strangely familiar, sometimes needing protection, sometimes fighting alongside.
Toward the end of the dream, the scenes were far more real, memories of recent desperate fights, of blades, bombs and guns, and dreamscapes and carnage all too familiar. He relived the battles of Sunnydale, Africa, then flashes of Zurich, and Tivoli and Rome, then it all stopped.
Doctor Dio came to the patio doors and announced, “He is coming out of his journey now. You should come now please.”
Xander’s his good eye blinked open and as he saw Spike and Anton, tears welled up and tracked down his cheek before a huge sob saw Spike immediately by his side, hauling his Mate into his arms. “I’ve got you Pet… let it out Luv… I’ve got you…” Permission granted, Xander buried his face into Spike’s strong shoulder and cried, gripping his lover and intermittently apologizing, for what the vampire was unsure. Spike stroked the longer brunette curls and whispered sweet reassurances until the storm passed, gently wiping the tears from the empty socket where his Mate’s eye had been, and brushing away those tracking from his good eye down and down the handsome cheek.
As Xander began to weep, Anton and the rather exhausted looking doctor exited onto the terrace for a drink and quiet talk.
Some half hour later, a rather red eyed Xander was led out onto the terrace by his worried lover, Spike glaring at the doctor as he settled his partner on a lounge opposite the older pair and sat beside him, proprietary arm in place.
Grasping Xander’s hand tight and trying for calm but failing, the vampire growled, “So… Get what you needed did you?”
The doctor put her cool drink down very deliberately, took a deep breath and let it out slowly then began, “Yes. Most interesting, indeed it is far more complicated than I expected.” When she saw Xander pale and Spike growled a second time, she continued rather more hurriedly, “This is not to say it is a bad scenario, rather the opposite. I will say this at the outset, to put your minds at rest as it were, it is well you have found each other and Mated. This joining of spirits is a blessed one and has been too long coming for both of you. You were always destined to be together, indeed as you, Alexander, have just experienced in your collective memories, you have often crossed paths in the past.
“In my discussions with Anton, I can see why your conscious mind absents itself in the heat of battle, or more particularly, when William is under threat. In your case your animal spirit recollections and reactions, part of your collective memory, are extremely close to the surface at this time. This is no doubt because you have been possessed by the spirit of a primal in your current lifetime and also now share a blood and soul bond with William.”
Xander’s eyes went wide at the mention of the primal, the hyena, “But the hyena was… it was exorcised, Giles got rid of it!”
The doctor shot the brunette a rather sympathetic look, “It is not possible to entirely rid oneself of a Primal. Whoever told you that, was misinformed. No. All that occurred was that your human nature was given full control, thus your current form dictates your actions day to day. But much as with previous lives, some core instincts remain. Tell me, in any of your memory dreams did you torture or maim innocents?”
Xander’s grasp on Spike’s hand increased to almost painful, “No!!! Ghods no!”
The doctor continued on patiently, “And did you protect others in trouble – even with violence when necessary.”
“And on many occasions you ran on instinct, that is to say, your conscious mind simply ceased control in favor of full attention to removing the immediate threat, yes?”
“Did it always seem odd to you in your other… lives…?
“Not always, no. But sometimes I wasn’t human so I wouldn’t have… oh… but then…”
“Alexander your current situation is, if anything, a good thing. You have seen too much needless hatred and carnage, your mental state as human has been recently pushed beyond its limit, through no fault of your own, and your collective memories have never been allowed to merge fully, until now.
“It is my opinion, and you are welcome to seek a second or third if you are unsatisfied, that your whole psyche is merely gathering and settling its dispirit parts as you settle into your fully Mated status. Because you are now stronger and faster and a fine fighter (from all accounts) this has simply meant that the manifestation of your true, *whole* self emerges when you most need it most. Protecting your family, your Mate, being most important to your core being. Your mind does not lay down memories of the fights recently, because it has no need to. Just as the perfect performance for an athlete is beyond recollection, your body has no need to record your every action for replay afterwards, since the goal was achieved. Think of it as a survival mechanism. One that will serve you well. And before you ask, at no time did your aura indicate malevolence. Your actions were always to restore balance, or to protect, or in the majority of cases, both.”
Xander seemed to have relaxed a bit, but had one more question, “Umm OK I guess… but… what about the super strength reports.”
At this the doctor smiled broadly, “My dear Alexander, human adrenalin is known to have a profound affect on the physiology when in a crisis situation, couple that with your newly acquired Master vampire’s Mate status and I think you would agree, you have your answer.”
“So… do I need to… you know… Am I dangerous?”
The doctor looked to Anton who gave Xander a huge smile, then moved around the low table and kissed first Xander then Spike as he chuckled, “Only in the best possible way dear Alex, the best way.”
Xander was still a little unsure so continued despite the reassurance of his Sire, “But what about the bit after Africa, was that… I mean I’ve been… I mean I’ve even had to be in hospital for… well not being dangerous to anyone else, but… kind of nuts… you know?”
The doctor squinted into the distance for a minute, apparently forming the most diplomatic answer she could, “Yes, well some things should not have happened, and the diagnosis post fact was rather, how should I best put this… human medicine does not fully comprehend the needs of the spirit as yet, much less how to heal in that realm.”
Spike finally spoke up, “So what now, doc? Spiritual enema, what?”
The good doctor snorted with genuine laughter, “Oh my dear William, I must remember that line for my next research presentation. But no… no ‘enema’. In fact quite the opposite, I will prepare a small bottle of herbs, the combination is to be taken at night just before sleep. It will help you to recall and integrate your memories – of past and present life, at the same time joining fully with William’s essence, if he is in agreement. This will ground you and allow you both a measure of serenity.”
With that, the doctor stood, “I will have my assistant drop over the medicine tomorrow morning. Now I really must take my leave.” She nodded at first William then Alexander before accepting Anton’s arm to be guided downstairs and onto the street.
As they left, Spike turned to his lover, cupping the handsome face in his hands, he kissed Xander on the end of his nose then on the forehead. “OK Pet?”
Xander slumped against Spike and closed his good eye, “Yeah… I’m OK. Not as nuts… ::huge yawn::… as I thought I guess.”
“C’mon Luv, let’s have us a bit of a snooze, yeah?”
Xander gave a sleepy reply and followed Spike to their shared quarters… “’K.”