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.
Spike was not in the apartment when Xander walked in. It was a typically hot, late afternoon in Barcelona, but the breeze was off the water, so Xander put down the stylish leather satchel he had been carrying and threw open the balcony doors to let a breeze enter, then ventured to the bedroom and changed out of his work clothes, still contemplating the conversation en route home.
Flopping onto the bed in just his boxers, he reached out through the Mate link with Spike. Unsurprisingly, the emotions he felt were a hint of aggression and a great deal of frustration. If what Senor Perez had said regards the Master of Barcelona, he would be expect that at least. He sent back love and one or two visuals that he hoped would encourage Spike to hurry home.
He must have snoozed for a time, semi aware of the hum of traffic and noise from the street outside, but bolted upright as the door to the apartment flew inwards and a very annoyed Master Vampire burst into the adjacent room, swearing loudly in a number of languages. Xander rose and pulled on some soft cotton pants and padded into the small lounge room shirtless.
Spike was facing away from him, shakily pouring a substantial scotch into a tumbler on the sideboard. Xander knew his lover well, so waited, concerned but patient while the blonde downed the drink in one and poured another, but twisted the glass repeatedly on the bench rather than raising it a second time.
Eventually his vampire turned, yellow eyes bled to blue and he sighed heavily as he moved to accept a hug as Xander opened his arms with a rueful smile, “Bad day, I take it?”
Spike was wrapped in warm arms and nuzzled his lover’s neck without replying. Xander gave comfort in the best way he knew how. He leaned his head back, exposing his neck further and simply whispered, “Please…” He was rewarded by the sharp prick of needle sharp fangs, reciprocal offer of blood and a reassuring renewal of the mating link.
Eventually they both pulled back, licked clean their mark and rested foreheads together. “Need to tell you a few bits ‘bout today pet. Figure you’ve some news too. Shall we go for tapas close-by? Reckon we’ll need to sort some bits ‘fore we chat to Sire.”
It took the better part of two hours, several cervezas and dinner before the Aurelian pair had debriefed from their respective days and had moved on to one of the many small noisy bars to discuss possible solutions to the various issues raised by Spike’s meeting with El Sodorna, Master of Barcelona.
Xander smirked as various women (and men) tried to catch Spike’s attention. Something about his partner being ‘riled up’, as he would put it, gave him a dangerous edge seemed to magnify his sex appeal tenfold. The flirting was dissuaded, politely, but leaving no doubt that the handsome blonde was with the one eyed brunette – permanently.
Eventually Spike leaned back, toyed with his local beer and frowned in concentration, “So what’s Perez’s take on the whole thing? He got another agenda do you reckon?”
Xander followed his lover’s example and finally relaxed enough to consider possibilities rather than problems, “I don’t really know. Although it seems he had the Master of Barcelona pegged right. He said he knew you, or of you…”
Spike took a long draft of his beer and looked off into the distance, “I vaguely remember his family from a time I was here with Dru, but we only stayed a week or so while she fawned all over Gaudi, then the stars started chattin’ and we were off down the coast chasin’ moonbeams or some such. As for the Perez bunch… reckon they mostly steered clear of vampires seeings their business interests were mixed up in human society, we only met one or two of ‘em ‘cause we were at some arty do. Reckon Anton would know more.”
“Do we need to find out more first? I mean… we’ve only been to a few meetings and… just… won’t we be bothering him?”
“He’s our Sire pet. And this will come back to bite us if we start meddlin’ in somethin’ without the bigger picture or Sire’s opinions at least.”
Xander pulled out a small notepad and pen and began scribbling something.
“What’s that all about Pet?”
“I’m just trying to get my head straight with what we have to do in the next few days. I’ve got a bunch of meetings and things that need sorting with the construction stuff, and now with this, I just… I don’t want to let you down by forgetting something important.”
Spike leaned over and stopped his writing hand with a gentle squeeze, “You won’t, Luv. We won’t. Got a lot of balls in the air I know, and there’s goin’ to be a whole lot more in the future. So I got a bit of a proposal for you.”
Xander’s good eye looked at him with a combination of worry and curiosity.
“Nothin’ bad mind. Just thought we might invest in a P.A. is all, you know... an’ chattin’ to little brother before we took off from jolly olde, well if he’s keen to come our way at some point, join the family business so to speak, it’ll mean another layer to the complexity of our lives. And since he suggested that Pippa is pretty keen to come to Europe and get some experience in business too, internship he called it, well I’ve been thinkin’. I know she was chattin’ to Sire’s Natalia when we were in Rome… So what do you reckon we take her on as a P.A.? Seems like a logical choice.”
“But… She doesn’t even know about… you know, Vamps and Immortals and… well any of the weirdness really… does she?”
“Well then she’s as blind as the next person she bloody well will soon enough. And you think it’s gonna bother her that much? Xan, she knows her brother is different. Knows he’s adopted and all that, and I’m pretty sure she’d take most things in her stride when it’s family involved. Anyway, I’m pretty sure she realizes a few basics about little brother, I mean we weren’t exactly playin’ tiddly winks back in Italy! An’ little brother an’ I used to do the occasional patrol near home.”
Xander sat for a moment chewing on his lower lip. The proposal was logical, but his own memories of Sunnydale and his own first foray into the magical realm meant it seemed oddly unfair to drag another individual into their strange world, and yet…
“It would be her choice, pet. We ask her in principle then let Connor have his say. He’s already agreed that it’s time she knew the truth – as much as makes sense to any of us. But if you’ve got reservations, we’ll scrap the idea an’ look for someone else. The Bit might have a friend or two interested and Anton’s no doubt…”
Xander stopped him with a thump on the table “No!” Then looked apologetically at his Mate and briefly checked that no one sitting close by had noticed his slight over reaction. He leaned forward and took his lover’s hands in his own and stroked them gently for a moment, noted their perfect soft appearance and calmed, “Look, if Connor’s OK with it then we ask family first. I’d… I’m… yeah, let’s just ask Connor. But that’s not really why we’re here is it? What happened today… you know, what do you think is going on?”
Spike withdrew his hands from where they were joined and toyed with the stem of the glass of complimentary red wine that had come with the tapas they had ordered. Xander could feel the worry through the link, but chose to remain silent. “The ol’ Master of Barcelona’s ‘el Sodorno’ is a right bastard, a crazy as batshit bastard surrounded by minions not worth a penny, and a clique of the sycophants all lookin’ to ingratiate themselves and line their own unimaginative nests. The Court would be a joke on its own, but like that Jahal said last night, he’s stirrin’ up trouble on account of all the newcomers to the city.”
This was close to what Perez had told Xander so did not come as a surprise, “So what? He’s going to align with the Scourge like in Rome?”
“Nahh. Not stupid enough to call those bastards onto his turf. Reckons he’d rather make a profit an’ grab more territory by denouncing the peaceful types as are tryin’ to do the right thing and give the refugees a fair go. Stupid bastard don’t see that Spain was built on the migrants from other territories. Hundreds of years of humans and demons have come and gone from here, sure they’ll bring a bit of a challenge in the short term, but they’ll add to the place too. Economy needs a bit of a boost anyway, and providin’ a safe haven is no skin off anyone’s nose if it’s done right. So he’ll knock off a few of the key folk in top families, stir up trouble with the fearful an’ ignorant, create a good bit of mayhem with his minions, push a few folks’ to think it’s the immigrants and their supporters, then grab what he can whilst they’re all squabblin’ ‘n killin’ each other.”
Xander looked horrified, “And he just told you all this?”
“Didn’t have to pet. ‘S what ‘Gelus would have done, if he could have been arsed to stay in one spot for long enough. ‘S what most power hungry leaders do. Get everyone roused up about the ‘them or us’ survival thing when all along workin’ their own agenda. He became Master here and stayed by offing his opposition, don’t see that changin’ any time soon.”
“But why now? Hasn’t he been around for like… hundreds of years? Why start trouble now?”
“Dunno pet. Not really. Best I can guess is he’s not keen on some of the newer Masters in other cities, or the demon clans here – the ones that have embraced the twenty-first century and are making a real go of it. Suppose it gets to the point with some really old Vampires that change is just too hard, and this is a way to rule his little part of the world as he always has.”
“So can we do anything? Should we do anything? I mean, Senor Perez is worried and wants us to meet with some of the other clans.”
“As in, Frederico Perez? Bloody hell pet, I knew the clan name but figured it was just a common one around Spain. You’re tellin’ me that it's the ol' head of the Sonclastas clan is one of the Directors of ACS?! Bloody hell, no wonder Anton was keen for us to invest with them! If he’s worried then this goes deeper than we think. C’mon Luv, finish up your drink an’ let’s go ring Sire.”
They paid for their tapas and departed minutes after, electing to take a shortcut home via a series of narrow alleys. Xander felt a prickle of excitement coming from Spike and was unsurprised when he was pushed against a wall and manhandled until he was being kissed passionately. What he did not expect was the whispered, “Be ready Luv, we’ve got company of the demon variety. Three minions, maybe four I reckon, reek of malevolence and a bit of age. You got a weapon?”
“Wannabe Boy Scout Spike. You say when.”
Xander could see the shadowy figures pause momentarily at the entrance to the alley, obviously assessing the position of their quarry and deciding an attack would not be noticed until too late, given the currently distracting activities of William the Bloody and his Mate. The attackers’ attempted stealth and speed was met head on by an enraged Master and his deadly Mate. The result was swift, dusty and almost anticlimactic for the Aurelians.
Xander tucked his knives and stake back in their respective sheaths and pocket, and waited while Spike brushed them both down, fussing a little as he noticed a bleeding scratch on Xander’s cheek. “Bastard got you!”
“Yeah, but he was dust in the wind a second later, and you get to kiss it better, so it’s all of the good.”
Spike smiled lasciviously and grabbed the brunette’s hand, “C’mon luv… race you home, got me a post fight shag comin’ before we ring Sire… First home gets to top…”