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.
As promised Dr Dio’s assistant arrived the following afternoon with the herbal tonic in two small, antique style, brown bottles with hand written labels. Spike smiled at the young man, “Taa mate. What do I owe you?”
The youth blinked a couple of times, then his eyes went very wide, “No no! Giatros Dio… uh… gratis… gratis… um… Zero… gratis Senor Vampiro um… Senor William… il Immortal… gratis”
Spike smiled again at the slightly panicked individual, dipped his head in a small bow and said, in perfect Italian, “Please thank the doctor.”
Xander was feeling quite groggy as he joined Anton and Spike in the kitchen some hour later. He greeted them in a hastily pulled on pair of track pants and sweatshirt, yawning as he spoke, “Afternoon, I guess.”
Spike was on his feet immediately and led his Mate to the table before leaning over the preparation bench and flicking on the electric kettle, “Almost evenin’ more like. It’s five o’clock. Was just about to come up ‘n see if you’d got the season wrong and gone into hibernation all of a sudden.”
Xander looked a little surprised by the time, then leaned over and kissed the put on pout, “Sorry sweetheart. Least it makes a change. You’re usually the late riser.”
“’M a vampire, Pet. What’s your excuse?”
Xander was instantly standing again, and nuzzled Spike’s neck growling, “Vampire’s Mate.”
Spike nipped his lover over his claim mark, “’N don’t you forget it.”
“Never.” With that Xander turned and smiled at Anton, “Afternoon Sire.”
Doctor Dio’s words the previous night had gone a long way to reassuring the former Scooby. For the first time his life and experiences seemed to make some sense. Not a lot, but enough to think that there was hope and a way forward; that his spirit might be older than he ever suspected; that he had a history that included Spike somehow; and that there was a reason and resolution for his recent emotional instability.
Later that evening, the three met Dawn and several of her university friends at a local restaurant. Dawn was her usual effusive self, introducing Anton as “my dumb ass sister’s ex, but *my* awesome friend.” The Immortal gave his usual brilliant smile and greeted each person in turn, his affect on the humans seemed to include a good measure of arousal. When it came to Spike and Xander, she took both men by the arm and proudly announced, “And these two gorgeous guys are S… William and Alexander, I grew up with them protecting me, really my pseudo big brothers… and by the way, totally taken, so hands off policy applies.”
The night was a delight. Early in the night Xander and Spike were flirted with by the girls (mostly) as they were deemed ‘safe fun’. Anton, though he looked younger than both his relatives, seemed to garner less attention, but was happy to stand back and observe, enigmatic smile in place. As the evening progressed, dinner and wine was had and everyone relaxed. Xander talked easily, and at length, to one of the young men across their table, the conversation centering on current architectural design trends in provincial city villa conversions (“or some such rot” as Spike quipped to a giggling Dawn, as they both noticed the rather passionate Roberto explaining his thoughts with rather wild gesticulations where his English failed the task).
The night was a roaring success, but the Immortal and his Childer declined the invitation to “party on” at a local nightclub, opting instead to agreeing to lunch in two days time with the former Key and a quick taxi ride home.
Their goodnights were said as they walked up the stairs, but as the Immortal paused Anton’s suite, the ancient being turned and smiled a little sadly. Spike noticed and squeezed his lover’s hand then moved to his Sire, placing a kind hand gently on the handsome cheek, “Sire?”
“I confess to feeling rather old tonight. The company of so many youthful souls… Joyful and a wonderful evening, I’m sorry… I should not be so maudlin.”
Spike brought his other hand up and cupped the features the man they had so quickly come love as Sire and family. “Come sleep in our bed tonight, Luv. Sure Xan will keep ‘is hands to himself for once.” The blonde shot a grin to Xander who supplied the requisite “Hey! Says Mr Octopus!”
Anton, who had looked a little skeptical at first, noticeably relaxed and rolled his face until he kissed Spike on the wrist before the younger vampire released him. “Thank you, William. Alex… I… That would be nice. Yes. I will shower then join you.”
“Nah mate. Just grab your jammies and whatnot an’ come now – you can bathe in our room. Leave it a bit an’ no tellin’ what you might walk in on with me an’ the boy.” This time Xander gave a rather feral grin and a wink (which was a bit pointless with only one eye, but it was the thought that counted).
Xander and Spike led their Sire up to their suite. He accepted a fresh towel and took himself off to shower.
As soon as their Sire was out of the room, Spike took a good look at his dearest. There were definite signs of fatigue. “OK, Pet?”
Xander was staring absently at the wardrobe, so startled a little, “Wha…? Oh… yeah, of course. Just a bit tired I guess… and…”
Spike closed the space between them and gently began to unbutton the brunette’s shirt, “Here let me, ‘n while I unwrap my favorite pressie… Is that all it is? ‘Cause you know I can feel your worry through the link. Is it about Sire joinin’ us tonight?” Spike dropped the shirt onto the ground and began to undo Xander’s belt.
“Ghods no! Just… well, I need to take that stuff the doc sent, and we… well we kind of don’t know what that is going to do, you know… am I going to have crazy dreams or are you or…”
“Luv, we’ve just gotta trust the doc. Seems she’s pretty clued in, ‘specially when it comes to things goin’ all wonky like they have been. ‘N I’d like to bet she’s the one of only a very few who are expert in the whole spiritual balance-memory thingy.” Spike did an almighty pull to the floor with his lover’s pants and Xander stepped out of them with a sigh. “Yeah, you’re right ::yawn:: hope we’ve got some toothpaste handy.” Just in case that stuff tasted like the last lot of horrible herbs the coven made him drink when he got back from hospital the first time. It turned out the rather sticky syrup tasted more like molasses than anything, so wasn’t at all bad by Xander’s estimation, though he still made a face, but only for the requisite “c’mere ya big baby” and sympathy kiss.
Anton emerged from the bathroom with a low-slung towel around his waist and normally perfectly coiffed hair falling around his face in pretty dark curls. When he spied his two smiling Childer, he grinned back a little self consciously, “What?”
Xander couldn’t help commenting, “Nothing Sire, it’s just… well you look…” he trailed off and blushed a little.
Spike came to the rescue, “You look bloody edible luv. Sure you don’t fancy a nice ol’ tumble before sleep. Sure Xan here is happy to share.” Xander blushed a pretty pink and slapped Spike playfully.
Anton’s baritone laugh was genuine and welcome, “If the offer is an open one I may well hold you to it! Thank you but for tonight, I prefer company to coitus.” Having said that Anton walked over to the far side of the enormous bed shedding the towel as he went, flung back the covers and stretched out on his back, arms folded behind his head. He was a glorious sight - long, muscular limbs, flawless skin and toned torso. Both Spike and Xander spent a moment to appreciate the view before joining him. Anton was sandwiched between his two Childer, with the firm arm of each man over his torso. Xander and Spike linked hands and all three sighed with contentment and swiftly surrendered to slumber.
The dreams, or as he knew now to be spirit memories, were as vivid as they had been previously, but perhaps knowing just that caused them to have a different quality. This time they seemed less confusing, less terrifying. Oh, some scenarios were just as fraught, the scenes of death just as frightening, but somehow he also felt… grounded, particularly when the transition from one to the next occurred, like something or someone powerful was calling him to move forward, like the journey had a purpose. Innately he knew that he was searching for a particular someone, some being, and that each iteration of his spirit edged him closer, or farther from his goal.
A particularly lucid moment came with the image of a bound blonde male kneeling on a slave sale block. He knew it to be Constantinople sometime during the late Roman period. He was oddly compelled to bid and won the man, the next image was of him freeing the same individual, and consequent ones of them in battles at various times, fighting back to back. The final scene was one of war with the Persians in a particularly nasty engagement where he tried to protect his faithful friend and failed. They both died.
There were a few more scenes that did not seem to include Spike, inevitably these were snippets of lives dominated by great hardship, loneliness and longing, and selfless acts borne of caring for others not for his own survival, great heroism in the face of impossible odds.
Once when in animal form, he was aware of seeking the presence of and gaining temporary comfort from another male body, knowing innately that they were somehow connected, but unable to maintain contact and forced to take different paths.
In the final scenario he was looking over a cityscape with a mountain just behind. The sky was already blackening as thick smoke continued to ooze from cracks on the top of the peak. As he watched the earth did an almighty shake, there was an enormous boom that shook the ground also, then it began to erupt. People around him screamed and cried out to the Gods, some starting to run back up the road they had been travelling, others picked up the pace toward the city.
The confusion in the crowded streets was almost overwhelming, made worse by an ever-thickening cloud of sulfur smelling fumes. Horrified, he grabbed two children who running down the street trying to keep up with their terrified very pregnant mother. He threw the smaller child up onto his shoulders and put a hand down to tug along the second little fellow whose legs were pounding along as fast as he could manage. Xander lifted the youngster over steps and obstacles in their way and they made it to the port in relatively quick time. He off loaded the children and helped the trio onto a waiting fishing boat who was ferrying those escaping to a nearby island. And then he turned back and ran.
Rocks and stones had begun to rain from the sky as he frantically wove through narrow streets and throngs of panicked residents. He kept hoping to see that familiar face among the crowd, but also, that it was unlikely he would leave his invalid mother. Turning the last corner, he spied the pale brick apartment building and sped to the wide, open doorway, narrowly missing being conked on the head by a very large chunk of jagged, black rock.
He began calling out immediately, taking the stairs to the first floor three at a time, despite the renewed violent shaking of the whole building. Eventually he found them. An older woman and… his beloved Wil, his golden haired boy, the young man who had brought an old soldier so much joy and companionship. A young man he had defied the laws of pedastry to keep by his side long after social approval of the relationship had evaporated.
Now, as the rank fumes became ever more suffocating and parts of the house began to fall around them under the onslaught of eruption debris, fire and earthquake, he kissed the man he loved passionately. “Come with me quickly… I can carry your mother.”
The older woman shook her head and grabbed her son’s hand, “Leave me, Wil. I have had my time, even if you carry me, I cannot survive the poisoned vapors the Gods send. Just hand me the small jar from the priestess and we will say goodbye.”
Wil had tears in his eyes as he handed her the jar, knowing it contained a potent poison. He lovingly kissed her on both cheeks and bade farewell. The old woman smiled enigmatically, “Remember, if the Fates choose to take you both tonight, you will find each other in another life. Even Plato acknowledged the existence of the two made one.”
Xander was aware of grabbing his lover’s hand and making for the door. The pumice stones were larger now and falling at a frightening rate, and the earth below them seemed to be in a constant state of violent movement, tossing them off their feet on several occasions. And still they continued to run. Many of the buildings around them were now on fire, the noise deafening and the atmosphere choked with smoke and toxic fumes. They were still several streets from the port when the unthinkable happened. A huge blast knocked them to the ground, all they could do was crawl to a stone doorway. Now both covered in ash and blood, they cuddled together, Xander just had time to yell, “I will find you!” They kissed, and the world went black.
Xander woke with a jolt, aware that he was crying and his throat was parched and sore. He immediately tightened the grip on the body in his arms and buried his face in the neck of his beloved. Feeling tiny fangs drop, he bit down and suckled, feeling a reciprocal sting, before realizing that Spike too was crying and his Sire was at his back with a strong arm holding them all together, grounding them in the present.
It took some minutes before he calmed enough to open his eyes a second time and slowly releasing his hold on his vampire. “Ghods Sp… Wil… Sire… I’m sorry… I…”
“Shhh Pet. I know…” Spike’s hand ran through Xander’s longer locks and he could feel the love, concern and acceptance flowing through their Mating link.
Wide eyed, he pushed up a little and stared into the azure blue eyes, “H… How??”
“I saw too Luv, felt the lot through the link but caught the last one in Technicolor.”
“I… I lost you. It was you wasn’t it, I mean the others… sometimes… were sort of then not quite… but that was us and then…” Xander rolled onto his back and arched his neck with a strangled, “Please?!”
Spike looked over his lover to his Sire who was also awake, but had said nothing to this point. Anton simply nodded and as Spike slid his fangs into Xander’s jugular Anton opened his wrist and fed his adoptive Childe.
Afterwards there was no need for a debrief, as it turned out, Spike had shared much of the final dream courtesy of its intensity and the Mating link. Nevertheless the morning was a slow one, with both Spike and Anton making sure that Xander had simple reassuring contact when he needed it. He had some heavy duty processing to do and in the end decided that sitting around simply wasn’t cutting it, so decided to try a swim in the outdoor pool near the Colosseum, the one the doctor had recommended, while his relatives ventured off to the Via Giovanni Paisiello where Credit Suisse Rome was situated.
Several hours later, a physically tired and far more centered Xander returned to their Rome home where he found Anton and Spike on the front doorstep. Apparently they too had decided that some exercise was in order and had walked back. All three were carrying shopping bags with supplies of some sort and stopped in the kitchen to unload and compare their loot.
Spike couldn’t help sidling up behind his partner whose skin was still warm from his few hours of sun exposure in the pool. “Smell like you’ve washed in bleach Pet, but you feel lovely! Nice time all on your jolly lonesome?”
“Yeah… Doc Dio is right – it’s a great spot, hardly any tourists and four lap lanes so I got in about 3 K with only one other person in my lane… perfect to just zone out. Anyway, came past a market and I thought… well anyway I got some nice vino and antipasta… and some strawberries, ‘cause I know you love anything red.”
“Brilliant luv!” Spike grinned and took a large strawberry popped it in his mouth then spun Xander and kissed his beloved, squashing sweet, red juice into the partially open mouth.
Xander swallowed and licked his lips as they parted. “Your turn. What have you two been up to?”
“Went to the bank as promised. Seems we’ve sold some of the items, paintings and such I had put up for auction for a bit more than we expected, which is a nice surprise. But money matters can wait for now. I thought I’d pick us up somethin’ special.” He handed Xander a small jewelry box.
Xander looked quizzical. “Well open it, you git!”
Inside on a black cushion were three earrings, each with a large round stone hanging from a thick twisted ring and single diamond setting. “Burmese Ruby in yellow gold is for you Pet. Colombian Emerald is Sire’s and Kashmir Sapphire ‘n white gold is mine. Settings all match, bloke who made ‘em ‘s an old acquaintance of Sire’s.”
All Xander could manage was, “Wow!”
Anton looked a little stunned at the gesture, and took his gift reverently, removing his diamond stud and pushing in the attractive piece. Spike did likewise with his own, belatedly realizing that Xander was frowning a little.
“What’s up Luv?”
“I don’t have pierced ears, well I did but it grew over… um…”
“C’mere ya big duffer.” Spike took the box and placed it on the floor, then leaned over, laved his Mate’s earlobe then let his fangs drop and delicately pierced a hole with the sharp incisor. While a rather dazed Xander was still working out what was going on, he picked up the ring and pushed it through, then licked over the area until the combination of vampire saliva and Mate recovery saw the hole perfectly healed.
Spike kissed his lover then sat back and smiled. “Pretty as a picture Pet.”
Then it was Anton’s turn. “Well I have a couple of things – far more boring really. Some sweet treats for us, and some good Nicaraguan coffee… and this.” Anton placed a small folder tied with pink legal ribbon in the center of the table.
Spike’s eyebrows went up, “This looks ominous.”
Anton almost whispered the next part, “I want to adopt you both. And before you protest that you are adults, it has been the norm in Italian society to do exactly that since early Roman times. In human terms you will be my successors in all ways. William you have no parents living so therefore it is legal, and for Alex as an adult it is your choice. It qualifies you as Italian therefore European citizens so far as the laws of the land. And before you protest, I know we exist outside normal human parameters, but for some things it is useful, particularly in some business dealings.”
Anton waited, looking uncharacteristically apprehensive and studying his hands for several long minutes while the other two pondered what had just been proposed. It was Xander who spoke first while untying the folder with slightly shaky hands.
“Where do we sign?” and with a naughty grin Spike added, “Be havin’ to call you Papa now, or just go with the rest of the teenagers an’ refer to you as our ‘old man’?”
Anton gave a good natured growl and the mood was instantly lighter, the papers signed and witnessed by Natalia who seemed to magically appear at just the right time. She smiled at the three men after date marking her signatures, “I will personally deliver these to Signora Costa di Bianci this evening. Congratulations.”
A celebratory round of blood sharing was perhaps not the norm for such an occasion, but they were hardly a normal family, so blood it was, then the three dressed and headed out for a late dinner.
The following five days were interesting to say the least. Anton’s adoption of William and Alexander was not widely broadcast, though a small announcement did appear in la Repubblica newspaper as required by law. As far as the demon and business community were concerned, nothing had changed. Xander swam on three occasions – always motivated by a night prior filled with spirit dreams, particularly when the content of the images and experiences required serious post slumber pondering.
The dreams had become clearer during the week, their message more and more pointed. He recognized the need to feel helpful and ability to empathize; his bravery in adversity and need to protect; and the need to belong, as being a natural part of his nature, no matter the time or his manifestation. And his contentment in his current role, his certainty in the love of Spike and its reciprocation evolved into a complete understanding that it was the logical completion of two parts seeking a whole, something that had taken them both many lifetimes to achieve.
Toward the end of the week, he also gained an understanding of the demon heritage forming a significant part of Alexander. The part he now shared absolutely and willingly with Spike, and their Sire, but that had also been latent, just as the input of the animal spirits that were part of him were now woken and guided some instinctive actions. He saw his experiences in Sunnydale and all that had happened since, as simply something he had to go through to get to this point. And he saw the traumatic experiences, in Africa that had thrown him into overdrive and depression, as necessary to allow him to open up to Spike and recognize his true Mate, even if only at a subconscious level.
So waking around midday after his last dose of the doctor’s potion, he found he had not only rolled toward his lover, but had his fangs embedded in his lover’s neck, not in attack mode or for comfort, simply… because. He was about to withdraw and apologize but Spike held him there with a gentle, “Stay… feels lovely.” Then he felt the prick of the reciprocal bite and the cycle of blood was complete. They were complete.
It took some time to rise. A slow round of love making with Xander giving himself utterly to the feeling of his strong vampire moving within him, around him, taking him. Their joining consummated again as Spike completed and vampire and Mate recovery time seeing Xander enter then complete inside his lover as they showered together, again with unhurried movements of lifetime lovers.
Anton had been sitting in his usual spot on the terrace for some time contemplating the wonder of the recent changes in his long existence. He had a loving family after many hundreds of years of solitude, some of it deliberate, some imposed, some simply by the fact of his status as Immortal. Despite his many roles over his time on Earth, his many liaisons, and his two great loves (his Sire and his passion, Hadrian), he had never before been given the quiet devotion, the joy, his adoptive Childer gave him. He had made his peace with his place in the world eons ago and had fully expected that his eternity was to manifest as ‘more of the same’. Now, however, he felt reinvigorated, more full of life, and genuinely surprised by his sudden realization that his future included blood relatives and all that entailed.
Anton could feel his William and Alexander in their suite nearby, hear their quiet endearments, and smell their gentle lovemaking. He knew that were he to request it, his boys would satisfy any carnal needs willingly, but simply that knowledge made it unnecessary. They were his and he theirs, something that would not change regardless of whether they were living under the same roof or on different continents. William and Alex would leave soon, he knew they must, but they would be back. He sighed, smiled and sent a humble prayer of thanks to the Ghods, then opened his folder of papers and began business of the day.