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 Spanish building project was going ahead as planned and Xander was keen to visit the project sooner rather than later, so the date for a month hence was arranged. The couple agreed to return to Florence with Anton, but only for a couple of days after which they would travel on to Amsterdam for a day of business, and from there to London.
In the week of their departure, Dr Dio paid another visit, pleased with Xander’s progress and reassuring in her assessment that full spiritual recovery was well on the way. There were some elements of the dialogue that Xander was still not quite sure he understood, particularly when it came to “training for a full relationship with your essence”, but Anton seemed to know what that was about, so he chose not to worry. She also had a word to Spike about his “journey of the soul” and handed him a vial, emphasizing that it should be used only when the mated pair felt more settled in their roles. A promise to meet with her again in a year’s time was made and both men kissed her hand in farewell.
The trio met midweek with the now recovered Master of Rome at his stylish old villa in the embassy district of the city, more as a courtesy than necessity, and all present pleased that his domain had returned to relative calm. The Immortal was most pleased by the respect paid his Childer and the open invitation to accept the hospitality of the Court at any time in the future.
They caught up with Molly and Oz and their brood. The four young weres all greeted ‘Unca Anton’ in their own way, their mother, the petite blonde (and pregnant again) Molly rolling her eyes as the twin seven year old, red headed boys, (Max and Leo) scrambled to be first to the family friend, whooping with joy as new box of Lego was produced as expected. They barely had time to thank the ancient before racing off to “destruct new fings”.
Xander smiled as the little four year-old, Sybella, the spitting image of her mother, quietly took Anton’s hand and simply stood with him, looking content. Her older sister, eleven year-old Imogen, smiled shyly from beneath long black curls as Anton produced a small jewelry box from his pocket and handed it to her with a wink and “Just for you, OK?” She nodded then whispered “Oh Uncle Anton, it’s beautiful… thank you”
Imogen then addressed all three visitors politely in English that had a decidedly Aussi twang to it, “Um… Dad said you’re going back to Florence this week. Are you going to come visit us for Winter Solstice? We’ve got a really cool party planned, then we’re all going to Australia again for the Summer Festival circuit. Mum says I’ll still have to do school work, but that’s OK. Benny and Patch are going to stay behind and manage the studio. Are you going to visit Australia with us one day, Uncle Anton? You did promise.”
Oz wandered in just as the question was asked, snaked an arm around Molly’s tight tummy, “Welcome anytime, ‘n bring your kids, man.” Anton grinned at that and Spike gave the expected “Oi!”, Oz simply winked at Xander and continued, “Pretty laid back place, figure you’d all enjoy. Tour dates are on the website. Fit you in anytime.”
Nothing was organized in the end, but it didn’t matter. They would all travel ‘down-under’ one day soon, Spike reassured Xander. It was simply that there were a few too many unknowns to sort before they could plan more holidays.
Dawn joined them for lunch at Anton’s home the day before they left – swearing secrecy regarding Spike’s sun-proof status when she witnessed the three sitting on the terrace celebrating the late summer afternoon. She was decidedly teary as she hugged them all goodbye, but still managed to slap Spike and smile in response to whatever he whispered to her as she departed.
The house was finally closed again around midday and Natalia headed for the airport to fly back to Florence so she might be at Anton’s villa a day before the others arrived. Marco drove the three men via the main highway, the E35, only deviating to stop for the night in Chianciano Terme and pay their respects to Anton’s friends, the family Bortolis. A pleasant evening was spent in the rural setting just east of the town, with the entire extended family arriving laden with food to share on the lovely evening eating alfresco, overlooking the family’s property and its rolling hills covered in olive groves and vinyards.
News must travel quickly where the Immortal was concerned, and particularly when it involved matters of Rome and demon communities. It seemed the Bortolis had already been informed of the very serious battle with the Scourge and the heroic acts of the Immortal and his Childer. As a consequence several of the younger Bortolis seemed to stare at Spike and Xander in awe throughout the evening, finally gaining the courage to converse in shy, respectful manner as the night drew to a close, and only when prompted by direct questions.
The next day’s travel began early by vampire standards, and saw the car pulling up the drive mid afternoon to a warm welcome from Senora Paccio who fussed over the men and insisted bustling them into the sitting room for an afternoon snack. Seated sipping freshly made coffee and enjoying tidbits from a large platter of freshly made savory snacks, there was very little discussion, just an overwhelming sense that nothing and everything had changed since they had been there.
Anton had a family, an extended one; the Immortal’s reputation in the demon community had strengthened by his adopted Childer in ways he could never have imagined; Xander’s spiritual health was on the way to being addressed; Spike and Xander were more than comfortable with their Sire and their own relationship was going from strength to strength; and Master William, his Mate Alexander and the Full Blood Connor were firmly established as equals of their Sire - extremely powerful and charismatic; measured negotiators in both human and demon matters; benevolent and respectful to all deserving of it; and fearless, swift and deadly in a fight.
Some issues remained however. Buffy had made her opinions of Spike and Xander’s new status (and that of Anton) clear – and had no doubt relayed her ‘observations’ to the Watchers’ Council. Xander’s worry over meeting Giles again was valid given their conversation prior to the Mated Couple’s nuptials. Willow needed to be told – and hopefully would take the news well. Neither Xander nor Spike had a clear plan for their longer-term future, most importantly, where they would live. And so the list went on.
Yet at this moment, as they sat in Anton’s wonderful country home, what felt like the *family* home, each male simply sat and was grateful for their life and unlife at that moment. The silence was comfortable as each individual considered their experiences of the last few weeks, the lessons learned and mused regards what the future might hold.
Finally Anton placed his drink down carefully and leveled a fond gaze on his adoptive Childer, “My dear boys, I shall miss having you close. It seems you have been part of my long existence forever, yet it is no time at all. You provide me with love in a way I have never before experienced, and reminded me that the lover I lost might once again find me in another incarnation. I have so much to thank the Ghods for, thank you two for, and Connor… and his sisters in their own way. Would you mind terribly if I follow you to England in a couple of weeks? I know you are yet to decide on a home of your own, but perhaps by then you will have a London base, or at least a permanent English abode in mind, so I expect you will want your Sire’s input and approval?” The last comment was said with a definite twinkle of mischief in Anton’s eye and received the snort of amusement from Spike it deserved.
The blonde then put on a faux simpering tone, “Oh yes! Please Sire, save us from the evil Real Estate Agents and guide us to nicer neighborhoods!” He grinned then answered more seriously, “It would be nice to have another opinion, ‘specially since you’ve been in and around England a lot more and recently than yours truly and buggalugs here.”
Xander wasn’t sure whether the name was an insult or endearment but chose to smile anyway.
By evening the following day, various dates had been set, their accommodation and tight meeting schedule for Amsterdam arranged, and a meeting with George Caridis, property consultant to a ‘well to do, very *special*’ client base, and a personal friend of Lady Regina plus a significant number of Demon clan leaders, as well as rich but not wishing to be famous, humans. Anton was to join them a fortnight to the day, wherever they happened to be in the UK.
Somehow leaving the next morning was less stressful knowing they would meet up again very soon. A loving embrace and three way blood exchange before the Mated couple took the car to the airport, grounded them all, and the whispered, “Love you ya ol’ bugger,” from Spike, and “Ditto, see you soon,” from Xander was enough to earn them a trademark, blindingly handsome smile and cheerful wave as they headed off.
Amsterdam was lovely, raining lightly but still warm enough to be pleasant. Their boutique hotel “Penthouse and Garden Suites” was a delightful building backing onto the Zomerpad in the museum district, well within walking distance of their meeting venue at Coster Diamonds headquarters. Outside the building looked similar to others in the street but the inner sanctum was a glorious garden with a view from every suite as promised. Spike and Xander’s multilevel suite was intimate and beautifully appointed with blonde wood and clean white lines.
They christened the huge tub almost immediately. Relaxing into the warmth, knowledgeable hands caressed all the favorite nooks and crannies of their partner’s body lazily, until both came without need for penetration.
Dressed in complimenting, casually chic outfits, Xander could not help but give a snort of laughter as Spike tucked a small package into his jacket and patted himself down one last time before they left the rooms.
“What now, ya daft bugger?”
“Nothing… It’s just… ::grin:: Well you look like the quintessential rich kid,” Xander sidled up to Spike and bent his head to kiss the nape of his sweetheart’s neck, “A deadly, ::kiss:: gorgeous, ::lick:: rich, ::nip:: young man. And you’re mine.” And at the last statement Xander let his tiny fangs drop and penetrated the now extended white column with the utmost care.
Spike growled his approval, but did not directly reciprocate, opting to turn and kiss the blood tinged lips with promised passion, “You’re a bloody tease Pet! You know we have to go. Reckon you’ve earned a good bit o’ punishment from your Master Vampire when we get back.”
Xander grinned unrepentantly as he picked up the room key and made for the door, “Counting on it.”
The diamond dealership, Coster Diamonds, was in an enormous building with a large number of people milling about in the foyer, the vast majority apparently part of various tour groups. Xander was intercepted by a chirpy young woman wearing a name badge and Coster Diamonds uniform, on their way to the information desk, causing Spike to growl a little.
“Hi, I’m Emilie. Are you with the eleven o’clock tour?”
Spike reached for Xander’s hand and tugged him so quickly that all the brunette could manage was a quick, “No, sorry,” before being pulled away by an annoyed lover who was grumbling, “Bloody tourists, who’d want to see the help at work anyway.”
At the desk Spike’s attitude switched to extremely polite as another young woman looked up from her computer. “Excuse me Miss…” Spike read her name tag, “Marianne, we are here to see Madam de Jong. I wonder if you might direct us to her office. We have an appointment at eleven.”
Marianne checked something on her computer screen, “William and Alexander Aurelius, of course! Please, if you will wait one moment, I will have her assistant come down to meet you.”
Less than a minute later they were following a rather harried slender man in his early twenties as various security doors were swiped open and shut behind them. A lift took them to the third floor where plush carpets, shiny decor and original artwork dominated the space. An immaculately dressed blonde woman in her (perhaps) forties greeted them at an open oak door at the end of the open area.
“Messers Aurelius, wonderful to meet you in person. I am so pleased you are trusting our humble establishment with your business. Come, we shall sit.” Rather than leading them to her enormous desk, they took their seats on a plush leather lounge, Madam de Jong waving to the assistant Stefan and ordering coffee for the three. Stefan scurried off, returning barely a minute later with a stylish Scandinavian design pot and matching set of cups. He politely poured for all at the table then retreated to the room next door.
“Now, Mr Aurelius…”
“William, please. And this is Alexander, my partner.” Xander smiled at his lover’s upper crust English accent, something that always emerged without effort and was a reminder of his human heritage.
“Yes, of course, thank you. And as we are dispensing with formalities, Pamela.” She gave the pair a genuine smile, “How can we be of service? I have a note here from your broker, my good friend Montague, who I believe recommended us, you have some inherited gems in your possession. Were you wishing GIA reports for the gems?”
Spike pulled the pouch from the pocket of the vest he was wearing and tipped the contents onto the black felt board that lay in the middle of the coffee table for just such a purpose. “Amongst other things, Pamela.” The diamond expert’s eyes went wide at the collection of precious stones spread in front of them, and looked up with interest as Spike continued. “I have recently accessed our family vault in Zurich, as I am now the sole survivor of our arm of the family and have an interest in consolidating my investments.” He reached for Xander’s hand at this point and patted it, “Our investments. That is not to say this is an exercise liquidating all assets, merely diversifying where appropriate. To that end a valuation would be appreciated, and I am interested in selling at those in this sample that you consider would be of particular appeal.”
Pamela smiled at the last part, and the vampire, knowing this to be a business transaction, decided to establish that he was well aware of what was on the table, literally. “I think you will find the diamonds are all between two and three and a half carats, D or E color and flawless to VVS2. The four rubies are Burmese, the two large sapphires are from the Kashmir mines, and the emerald is Colombian of course. I only have provenance for the colored gems as they have been in the family for well over a century, rather forgotten I’m afraid, and the diamonds were stored in rather a haphazard fashion, hence the need for valuation, with a view to sell of course.”
“But of course. I will have Gerard Van der Waal assess them immediately, if you are prepared to leave them with us overnight. He can at least give you an estimate of both insurance value and selling price as I am sure you would appreciate both, but it will take up to a week to finalize the formal valuation paperwork, and I will include our proposed price for their purchase. Is this agreeable?”
Spike smiled and nodded, saying, “Agreed. We will drop by tomorrow, if you could spare us the time. I am more than happy to finalize the decision to sell or not at that time, and sign any documents required.”
Madam de Jong waved away any concerns with a bejeweled hand, her diamond encrusted bangle glinting in the overhead lights, “Of course! You may be assured that we are renowned for our integrity in these matters. Shall we say eleven o’clock tomorrow?”
The afternoon was spent wandering the museum district and enjoying a very late lunch by a pretty canal, despite the light drizzle that had persisted on and off all afternoon.
By the time they were making their way back to the hotel, Spike noted his partner’s mood beginning to falter. He held his tongue until they were back in their suite, but as soon as the door closed, spun Xander to face him and pushed him back against the nearest wall, plastered his body against his lover and claimed his mouth possessively. Pulling away, the brunette was wide eyed, breathless and obviously aroused, but before he had a chance to dive in for more Spike pulled back, took his hand and tugged him until they sat close, hand in hand, on the nearby settee.
“Now Pet, what has your knickers in a twist, hmm? Not worryin’ ‘bout sellin’ the family jewels or some such?”
“What? No nothing like that… I… I just realized that I haven’t contacted Giles since… you know…”
“Said you’d see him when we got back, didn’t you. Sort it out in person, all face-to-face like.”
“Yeah, but I mean, I’ll have to call him, arrange a meeting… and I… um…” Xander dragged his gaze from his hands to meet Spike’s eyes with a pleading look.
Spike honed in on the rising heartbeat and made a swift decision. He pulled out his phone, searched for a minute and then hit call. “Spike! What are you?? I *can’t * talk to him… not at the moment!”
“You’re not goin’ to Pet… Hello? Rupert Giles please… William Aurelius… Yes, of course it’s important!... Look, tell him it’s about the boy… Of course he’ll know what that means!... Thank you.” Xander couldn’t stifle a snort of laughter at Spikes frustrated growls, and rather insincere threats of evisceration as he raided his bag for the good bottle of Scotch Anton had gifted him before they left. He screwed the top off one handed and took a swig, gave his partner a smile then turned his attention back to the phone.
“Yeah Rupert, it’s me… No, Amsterdam… Heading back tomorrow evening, matter o’ fact… Well we thought we should give you a heads up… Appreciated, wasn’t sure if you’d want… No, well… Yeah, he’s here, do you want… Right… No, sure he’ll be fine… Best we find accommodation close by I should think… No, understood… If you must… See you day after tomorrow then… Evening obviously…Yeah, I’ll tell him.” Spike scowled as he tapped the screen to end the call. “Well that was a slap ‘n a tickle.”
Xander looked decidedly worried. “What did he say?”
“Want’s us to meet him at the coven day after tomorrow. Reckons he might need some Slayer protection I’ll wager.”
Xander looked even more distressed, “I… Oh, OK.”
“He’s going to contact Willow. Get her there as well. Best we face it all at once. Anyway, Luv, it’ll be me they’ll want to stake, not you.”
“NO!!! Oh Ghods Spike, we *can’t* meet with them if that’s what they’re going to do! I’ll go by myself. You just…”
Spike had his arms wrapped around his now shaking Mate and was making shushing noises, licked the Mating mark then bit down as gently as possible, at the same time encouraging Xander to reciprocate. Seconds later he was rewarded with the sting of small fangs, and they both took what was needed.
As usual the act led to a shedding of clothes and reassuring “Bloody marvelous” coupling. Xander needed Spike to take control at that moment, and the vampire was more than happy to oblige, taking his Mate over and over until both were exhausted, sated and relaxed.
Xander roused enough to snuggle even further into Spike’s body, mumbling the reply, “Hmm… sleepy time.”
Spike thought about getting up to find the packet of blood he knew to be in the small bar fridge, but it was just too far to contemplate. He could eat tomorrow.