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 week leading up to the ballet was a whirlwind of meetings (some demon, some business related), shopping for clothes on the high street, and of course, yet another of Lady Regina’s lavish private parties.
This time, however, Xander’s experience at Lady Regina’s could not have been more different from the first time around. Now he was the full Mate of Master Vampire William the Bloody, and the adopted Childe of the Immortal. Apparently his reputation as a fighter and force to be reckoned with in his own right had established itself firmly in the minds of all the demons he met, individuals who, rather than ignoring William’s odd brunette human as before, now actively engaged with him, and treated him with the utmost respect and deference.
He enjoyed the feeling of Spike’s amusement and love through their strong link, and the calm hum of Anton’s presence in the background of the same, as he watched both his lover and their Sire ‘work the room’. He happily accepted compliments regarding the goings on in Rome and a few congratulating he and Spike on “finally putting Master Edgar and co. in their place”. No mention was made of the fact that he and Spike were deliberately attacked, and he chose not to comment as his audience, and by this omission, garnered even more respect from his audience.
Lady Regina was ever the gregarious and gracious hostess, insisting she dance with not one, but all “her Athenatos boys” as she laughingly put it. The swing band employed to entertain for the evening were more than happy to oblige with a series of tunes finishing with a tango as Anton swept the dear lady away from Spike and swirled her delighted form around the floor.
As they had done on the previous occasion, their departure was timed to be after a reasonable duration and interaction with most attendees interested in the trio, and politely low key, after all but the latest arrivals toddled in ensuring the party was still in full swing. They all received kisses from Lady Regina, and before leaving, promised her an invitation to their housewarming party for the new Cotswolds home some time in the next few months.
Friday came quickly and the mood prior to the ballet was a jovial one, with Spike stifling laughter as Xander emerged from the bathroom, bowtie still undone and a pout firmly in place.
“What’s wrong Pet?”
“Why doesn’t this thing come with a clip? The one I had for the wedding-that-wasn’t came with a clip!”
“Well…” Spike stood and moved over to his lover and reached for the bowtie, “Apart from you lot not teachin’ the Queen’s English at school, they don’t teach you how to get dressed! Here let me…” He quickly and efficiently tied said article, brushing over Xander’s Mating mark and leaving his hand pressing gently to the handsome torso.
“There. Look a right treat you do. Have the ladies in the boxes swoonin’ at your feet, some o’ the blokes too I’ll wager.”
Xander gave a weak smile then made for the bathroom where he checked himself in the mirror, his voice preceding his return to collect the top coat, “Well it’s alright for you Mr ‘Viscount, I was alive before the invention of the spring clip’. How are we doing for time?”
“All good Luv, fashionably punctual for the pre show drinks. Let’s go find Sire shall we?”
The quick trip to the Sadler’s Wells Theatre only took around fifteen minutes, despite heavy traffic, and they were delivered to the door in time to meet Lady Armitage at the door. Pleasantries and small talk abounded in the small bar prior to the show. The small group shared a bottle of Henri Giraud Rose bubbles and toasted the evening to come.
As they took their well-positioned seats and the Overture began, Spike felt Xander’s tension rise through the link. He leaned toward his Mate and said privately, “OK, Pet? What’s got you worried?”
Xander whispered into Spike’s ear, “What if I don’t understand it?”
“Sure you will Luv. Just sit back ‘n snooze if you get bored.” He squeezed his partner’s hand, bussed him on the cheek and sat back, smiling and nodding to their Sire, as the curtain rose.
It was *nothing* like what Xander imagined. The sheer athleticism of the dancers, the sets, costumes, choreography and beauty of form and… the exquisite bodies of the male leads had him transfixed. The storyline was different to the traditional Swan Lake, but made complete sense, and he was intrigued and amazed when the main group of swans were all male.
The former Scoobie identified with the sadly stifled, misfit Prince and when he met the main white swan for the first time, he could but think of Spike in that role. The untamed wildness, the glorious physique, the joy of living, all and more were embodied by the principal dancer, and all applied to Spike also.
Spike too identified with the Prince, but this time it was his own upbringing that resonated. The falseness of the girlfriend, the desperation and idea of freedom and the fascination and excitement of observing the swans in action all things he could easily understand the Prince experiencing. When it came to the dark stranger and ending he found himself remembering some of the cruelties of Angelus and clutched for Xander’s hand.
They were both swept up in the emotion-charged finish and as the dancers emerged for their bows, the Mated Couple stood as one with tear-filled eyes, and joined the rest of the audience in four standing ovations.
Lady Armitage excused herself from joining them at the Savoy for supper, observing it was “already past my bedtime, my dears”, but invited them for afternoon tea at her Mayfair residence the following Monday. The three chose to walk back to the hotel, despite the late hour.
Most of the walk was in comfortable silence, occasionally bumping shoulders and feeling companionship and family flowing through the shared link. Each of them quietly mulled over the night’s entertainment, considering not only the story and spectacle, but also the emotional reaction they had to the ballet and why.
Finally as they rounded the corner and began to meander down Victoria Embankment something about being next to the Thames and walking a route he had stomped many times in his hundred and sixty plus years led Spike to be the first to speak his thoughts aloud.
“Don’t reckon I’ve seen a better play in all my years, ‘n never figured to see the day a love story like that one would find its way into a ballet… just… stroke of bloody brilliance really.”
Anton beamed, threw his arm across Spike’s shoulder pulled him a little closer to kiss his Childe’s blonde locks. “It is that. The writer is an intriguing and gifted individual, one I think you would like enormously, if only for his bravery in breaking the mold for the classics.”
Xander, though unsurprised at the implied acquaintance of said choreographer, still had to ask, “You’ve met him?”
“Only the once at the Ravenna Festival – his wonderful piece “Dorian Gray” was playing – intriguing story as always, the dance wonderful, though the music was a little abstract for my tastes. He is quite charming - a complex, thoughtful man and inspired artist. You would both like him I am sure.”
Spike snorted, “Dorian Gray!? Bloody hell… Bloke was a demonic narcissist! So, Bourne not fond of the comedic side of humanity then?”
“Oh I think you’d find many of his works are exactly the latter. I know there’s a filmed version of his ‘Infernal Gallop’ on Youtube, I think that might convince you. Anyway, Xander what did you think of Swan Lake?”
Xander felt like it was a test of some sort for a moment, but received only love and openness through the link, so gave as honest a response as he was able, “Sometimes I felt like the Prince’s story was mine, not like the whole royal family thing, but the having to do certain things in your life, and never being good enough, and being sort of trapped. I kind of fancied Spike as the main Swan – even the dark stranger to some extent – it sort of fitted in an odd way… not exactly but… anyway… I loved it, all of it... I… it was nice that it was two men in love, even if the ending was so terrible for both of them… I can understand him dying of a broken heart, that would be me if Sp-William died, even without the Mating.”
Spike reached out and took his lover’s hand and squeezed then did not let go, “What about you Sire?”
“I see parts of my Sire, and Hadrian in the main Swan, and parts of the Prince also, and I can also see where the Prince might relate to me a little, but mostly I enjoyed the tragic love story. It is one seldom told so beautifully, yet so often played out in reality, whether or not one or other of the pair dies in the end. And yes I felt is was an excellent way to spend an evening, even better that it is thought provoking beyond the theatre doors.”
They turned into the Savoy’s grand lobby, Anton nodding at the doorman before asking, “Shall we have drinks in my suite, or would you prefer the bar down here?”
Spike replied for both of them, “Definitely your suite Sire, if you don’t mind.”
“Perfect. I much prefer to drink in comfort.”
The ensuing three weeks passed swiftly, Spike and Xander prepared for their move to their new home upon their return from Spain, and Anton leaving the day after their tea with Lady Armitage. In his short time with them, Anton managed to engage the services of a very obliging interior decorator who as it happened, was part demon, a highly respected antiques expert, and fine reputation for a modern take on using them in his room designs. After meeting the flamboyant, human looking, Thadeous Green, Spike was satisfied and Xander felt a great sense of relief as he had previously lost the argument Spike’s blanket rule of “no bloody Ikea!” leaving him in fear of living in a museum space.
The upmarket-retro clad Thadeous was obviously thrilled to be engaged by the Immortal’s family. A F’ldaak demon of extraordinary energy, he swept through the rooms of their soon to be (thankfully now vacant) house on their first visit, waving his arms, expressing his opinion on this or that feature and speaking aloud so many options that his rather bemused clients finished up giving him carte blanche for all but a few of Anton and William’s ‘family pieces’ that needed to be included in the décor (photos and measurements promised).
Spike and Xander packed up their room at the Savoy, shipping a suitcase of superfluous clothing and ‘extras’ directly to their new address and made for the airport once more. This time it was Xander’s turn to shine in his capacity as big investor, knowledgeable in construction, coming for discussions and inspections.
As they settled into their business class seats bound for Barcelona, the somewhat human Xander could not help but comment, “I hope I don’t disappoint you… I mean… I know what to ask and all that but… Ghods Spike! I only ever met the big bosses of the company once or twice… and they hardly stopped to talk to the foreman unless there was a serious problem!”
Spike leaned over to accept his pre-flight drinks from the rather pretty, male flight attendant, and nibbled his partner’s ear as he did so whispering, “You’ll be fine, Pet. Now quit worryin’ an’ concentrate on the inflight entertainment for a bit. Soon as that seatbelt sign goes off, we’ll head for the Mile High Club ‘n get you proper relaxed.”
Xander’s “Huh?” received a smirk and eyebrow wiggle, after which he found himself flushed and struggling to think about anything but how quickly the plane could get to cruising altitude.
Swan Lake (2010 version – available on DVD – Recommended!)
And The Infernal Gallop