Apologies for the tardiness of this chapter and its short length, my life partner had a stroke a few weeks back (now recovering with help) and with work still busy too, some things just had to give… Anyway things are on the improve, so on with the story…
Archived at: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=rngrdeadhttp://archiveofourown.org/users/rngrdead/works
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.
Xander’s day began with a minor stress of deciding what clothing would project the right image, not too corporate lawyer, not too rich kid, not too old fashioned boss, just not too… whatever. A problem resolved when his still sleepy lover growled, rolled up and gave him a “right good snogging”, then busied himself choosing the appropriate outfit. As a consequence the brunette departed dressed in a figure hugging, thin cream pullover, deep chocolate jacket and expensive pale chinos, with gold jewelry according his station and a leather fashionable leather satchel containing the notes he had made regarding the project.
At the door, Spike kissed him soundly and reassured him that his cell phone would be on all day should the rather nervous Xander wish to call, and reminded him once again that he was the investor, therefore could do no wrong.
The ex Sunnydale ‘loser’ need not have worried. He was met at the door of the downtown, shiny corporate building by a young, male PA Claudio, who spoke perfect English with a slight American accent, and appeared far more nervous than Xander felt (which in retrospect was probably logical).
The Aurelian/Athenatos money was critical to the project and the junior executive’s bosses had already warned him that their guest was an extremely well connected and very well informed individual who had been the source of all manner of specific queries regarding the project plans, marking his obvious experience and expertise the construction sector. Indeed the visiting corporate heavy weight’s credentials, checked as part of initial due diligence, had been woefully difficult to locate, the assumption being that his records of formal studies in architecture or engineering must have been lost when UC Sunnydale had been destroyed in the natural disaster that had befallen that institution, and intervening years of work lacked detail as a direct result of the very private nature of the family business conglomerate his role in the same.
Spike and Anton had both counseled their relative to simply be himself, that he was competent and absolutely qualified to cope in this type of meeting, despite being used to the role as building foreman rather than investor and therefore ‘one the big bosses’.
He was ushered into a smallish boardroom and polite introductions gave way to a presentation by the architect and update of status from the project manager. His asked to articulate his opinion but was aware of nine sets of eyes taking concerned furtive glances in his direction, apparently to gauge his reactions. For once he was grateful for the eye patch and his status as vampire Mate, not to mention a newfound calm as a result of Dr Dio’s therapies.
He was pleased and a little surprised to note that each of his queries had been directly addressed, though there were still some questions regards the ins and outs of the site team management and day-to-day issues of such a big build. Wisely he decided to ask these when they were actually in situ the following day. Of greater concern was the timeline and budget. The economic downturn in Europe had not being kind to Spain, and this project was, in part, an attempt to bolster employment in Barcelona’s flagging building industry. It also carried with it a responsibility to succeed and be replicable. He asked to meet with some of the young, newly recruited apprentices at the end of the week, and have a discussion with their mentors at an appropriate time during his visit.
Xander’s quiet attention to detail and very obvious knowledge of leading such a project as their own left the Barcelona group impressed and pleased by the good fortune of signing with the Athenatos/Aurelian Investment Group. For his part, Xander found himself settling into the role of objective observer more easily than he expected, swiftly gleaning that his hands on knowledge of the construction industry, and his experiences in Africa dealing with different cultures and new social morays, allowed him to assess political agendas, personal tensions and potential power plays amongst the group for what they were.
The meeting adjourned early afternoon with the agreement to inspect the site late morning the following day. Rather than a taxi back to his residence, ‘Mr Alexander’ was encouraged to accept a ride with the elder statesman of ACS construction group and uncle of the founding director, no less.
Frederico Perez was an extremely tall, thin silver haired gent who had been relatively taciturn during the meeting. He waved Xander forward and politely opened the rear passenger door of the top of the line, black Maserati for his guest. Once the driver pulled into traffic, he turned to the brunette with a smile and Xander felt very much like the ignorant country cousin as he was again addressed in perfect English, “I congratulate you on your choice of Mate and Sire, it is well a being such as yourself is now with family. And it seems William is finally embracing his true potential.” He chuckled at some private joke then continued, “I confess I am relieved for our Immortal, he has been alone too long, and I feared… but all is well now.”
Xander was utterly thrown by the statement, but still managed a polite, if rather higher pitched than normal, “Um…yes… thank you, Sir. I am very lucky.”
The older man looked somewhat puzzled for a moment then laughed heartily, “Ah Alexander, I see you have no idea who I am, yes?”
Xander had the fleeting Sunnydale thought, “accepting rides from strangers, not always of the good”, but outwardly smiled and replied politely, “You speak fondly of Sire Anton and my Mate William, so I assume you are a friend and perhaps far older than you appear in human years. I know you are a man of great importance in the corporate world, other than that… I’m… Sir?”
Frederico chuckled and his eyes danced with amusement, flashing deep amethyst purple and gold for a moment, “Ever the well mannered statesman… you really do have a long and bright future ahead, Alexander. I am, as you have no doubt surmised, a long-lived being, a lucky human who, like you, found my soul mate in my beautiful Arianna. We discovered each other in the late 1500s by circumstance rather than deliberate act on either of our parts. I had no idea she was one of the Muses, and had you told me at the time I would have laughed at the absurdity of the suggestion, but Muse she is. My darling Muse, as surely as I am hers. The Gods approved, stars aligned and we found ourselves with… forever.”
The older man paused in his monologue and smiled with a combination of pride and absolute love. Though unsure whether to speak, the young Aurelian swallowed, unsure of what was expected of him but said quietly, “You are blessed indeed.”
Frederico smiled broadly and nodded, seemed to consider his next words carefully and finally continued, “My Arianna informed me many months ago that the Immortal was to take a family, and that it would be a source of joy and balance. So now I am duty bound to pledge our clan’s fealty to the House of Athenatos and pledge our support should you need it, as inevitably, you will.”
Xander was somewhat stunned by the sincerity of the statement and still a little confused by the topic of conversation, so answered in the only way he could think of, “Umm, thank you. We are honored and pleased. I will inform my Sire and Mate… But… please forgive me if I seem a little confused, but I thought we would be discussing business, I… sorry I am new to all this… I thought you might be worried about the building project or something and my involvement... I… Sir?”
Frederico, who had been so sincere but seconds before, now looked positively delighted, his eyes sparkling with amusement and a broad grin on his elderly, handsome face. “Oh my dear Alexander, I, that is the ACS group, is thrilled with the involvement of your family corporation. But to put your mind at rest, only a handful of the trusted few know of your true identity, the colleagues at ACS you met today were impressed by *you*, a highly intelligent, well informed investor who has the intention and the knowhow to be an asset to the project. Now, I have a favor to ask…”
Xander knew to stay quiet at this juncture, choosing simply to wait.
“I happen to know that your Mate is making himself known to the arrogant and xenophobic Master of Barcelona today. I am sure he will make his own assessment confirming that fact, and though young in physical years, you both have the enduring spirits of your other… incarnations to assist your judgments as to how to deal with the current influx of refugees in the demon community. We have yet to have any coordinated strategy amongst the various demon clans and I would ask that while you are in our region, you might… head a gathering so we might draw up a viable plan. We are keen to assist our fleeing brothers and sisters, just as many of our human counterparts are, but as always, it cannot be at the cost of the peace and prosperity of our realm.
"I wonder would you speak to Master William and, if you are both willing, agree to a meeting with at least my family and some key friends, to work through the logistics of such a venture? I offer my home and a grand dinner as a starting point. Say this Friday if it suits? I will speak to you sometime after site inspection tomorrow afternoon for your answer. Now… here is your address. I must say, you chose well with your accommodations.”
With that, Senor Perez smiled, and Xander thanked him and shook the thin, elegant hand as the doorman hurried to open the car’s passenger side door.