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 next day was a lazy start with the tired travellers taking the opportunity to sleep in then enjoy exploring the grounds. Xander had taken the trouble to stock the little fridge in Pippa’s residence and the pile of fresh towels with a note “Feel free to avail yourselves to the facilities, A & W” in Spike’s Victorian script meant that the siblings were found sprawled on the pool lounges soaking up the late autumn sun.
Pippa had slept surprisingly well given the revelations of the previous night, though in the mild sunshine of the new day, it seemed like some sort of strange dream, except it apparently was anything but. She had always had a sense of ‘other’ about her little brother, but had dismissed it, as his naturally loving and chivalrous nature seemed to dominate their interactions (sibling squabbles and friendly jibes notwithstanding).
Connor had said little beyond his usual grunt and muttered “Thanks Pip” as a coffee was pushed toward him prior to their morning meander around the property, but once walking, conversation picked up.
“So are you OK with all this? The stuff Will said, I mean. I know I kind of freaked for a while when I found out.”
“Was that when Mom and Dad took you to LA for all those tests? You know, the whole car accident thing and then you guys got mugged, and Mum and Dad decided there was something wrong with you? And somehow it was supposed to all be OK?”
“Yeah, well… That’s when I met up with my real Dad – Angel, and Will, although he went by Spike back then. Eight months later there was some major battle, Dad… um… Angel was killed along with everyone else he worked with, except Will, although it was a close thing there too…” Connor paused in their walk for a moment, remembering finding the badly injured Spike and nursing him back to health.
Pippa picked up on her brother’s dip in mood, grabbed his hand and squeezed lightly until he returned the act and began walking again.
“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t say anything Pip… ‘specially when we were with Anton last year, but I just didn’t know where to start… You’re my sister for goodness sakes and I love you. I don’t want anything to ruin family Pip, I mean, I know Will is sort of family too, but that bit’s complicated, even for me.”
Pippa considered her little brother, and his bizarre origins and apparently magically altered reality of which she was a part. Now his world was to be hers it seemed, but after last night’s revelations and lack of feeling any sense of malice or evil emmenating from something she previously considered the stuff of movies and legends, she decided. Family was family. Will had been nothing but kind and considerate to her, Anton and Will’s lovely partner Xander were generous, good company and really did feel like favored distant relatives somehow.
Connor was now standing off to her right staring into the distance, his shoulders tense and she belatedly realized that she had not only ceased walking but had apparently been silent for a little too long for her brother’s comfort.
“Connor, look at me.” As her brother turned she realized the depth of his worry as he leveled rather desperate blue eyes at her hazel. “Listen little brother… You don’t get rid of me that easy! Just because this is a bit of news I hadn’t been expecting, Ghods who would, it doesn’t change a thing. I am thrilled to be here working in a job I could only dream about since I’m straight out of university. I get to travel, to work for a family company (OK of sorts but still!) and hang out with some genuinely great people. My bosses are handsome and rich and I know them well enough that they give me a place to live and promise opportunities to learn on the job. OK? As for you and our family… It changes nothing. I can still beat you in an argument and I figure I’ll always be older than you, will always have something to say if you screw up and… have better dress sense, so there.”
What ensued was a rather weepy hug, followed by a quick slap on Connor’s arm. “Now come on. Let’s get back. I’ve got some calls and work to do. Will wants to have this trip to see this guy called Rupert Giles organized for tomorrow and I just know Anton is itching to arrange a house warming – and his PA is coming over to show me the ropes so I need to organize for that too.”
Their return to the house was at pace and just in time to greet Anton who was settling outside to catch up on emails and other news. He smiled at the pair, noting the easy banter between them and the comfortable closeness indicating that all was well in his adoptive family. The coming days, indeed weeks, might well prove trying. They would all need the trust and strength that only familial bonds could provide.
Late afternoon two days later, the Aurelian/Athenatos men left Pippa and the recently arrived Natalia to plan the coming house warming party, and made their way to the coven – with Spike driving their luxury Jag atypically within the speed limit. There was little dialogue en route as much of the discussion regards their coming visit had already taken place. Instead the men travelled in comfortable silence only broken by Connor’s occasional comment comparing the south-east England countryside to California, and Spike’s cursing this or that driver’s perceived violation of traffic etiquette.
Their arrival was on schedule, coinciding with sunset and without fanfare. Before entering, and out of eyeline of the building, wrists were offered and blood exchanged in an act of reassurance and solidarity.
An aging wiccan met them at the door and ushered them up to Giles’ office.
To Xander, it seemed a lifetime since he had been the invalid guest of the establishment, so much had changed, and yet he still felt like he had been called to the high school principal’s office. Spike detected an increase in the normally impossible slow heartbeat, so reached out to squeeze his Mate’s hand, whispering “It’ll be fine Pet.”
Giles was at a bookshelf to the left of his desk as the four entered and turned with a polite smile. He placed the book in hand on his desk and greeted the newcomers with a nod.
“Ahh. Xander, Spike. Good of you to come.” The word “finally” was left unsaid but Xander heard it in the tone nevertheless protocol dictated he do the introductions.
“Senior Watcher Rupert Giles, may I present my adoptive Sire, Anton Athenatos, the Immortal, and my brother in law and lore Connor Aurelius Reilly.”
Connor offered a near nervous handshake, while Anton was his usual charming self and gave a rather surprised Giles a traditional Roman warrior greeting, gripping him at the elbow and bringing their forearms into line, rather than shaking his hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you at last Rupert, and wonderful to be back at the South East Coven at last. Your work here is most admirable, and I thank you for all the care you have shown Alexander over the years. Is your sister Beatrice well?”
Giles spluttered a little then regained his composure, “I believe so. I did not realize you were… acquainted.”
Anton gave the man a delighted smile, causing Spike to wonder if Beatrice Giles had been one of his Sire’s many human lovers, and wouldn’t that be priceless…
“I have only met her once or twice but am the proud owner of several of her watercolors of the Lakes region. She is one of the few contemporary artists able to capture the ethereal nature of the morning light across the landscape, a wonderful talent. Do you dabble?”
Spike smirked, he had rarely seen the watcher quite so flustered, and honestly had no idea Giles even had a sister. He looked over to his lover, Xander too, seemed to be silently enjoying the exchange and shrugged, both men acknowledging the extraordinary ability of their Sire to make a genuine, personal connection with almost anyone and thereby encourage accord – or at least more amicable negotiations.
After a short followup exchange, Giles led the four to the formal dining room, now conference room that was already buzzing with voices.
Spike put a calming hand in the small of his lover’s back and whispered, “Slayer’s in a right tizzy pet, let’s leave the talkin’ to Sire to start eyy?”
Xander acknowledged the statement with an almost impercebtible nod and felt love wash over him from their link. Connor saw and heard the exchange, and positioned him at the rear of the group accordingly. Spike acknowledged the move as one typical of the boy’s biological father, ‘always protect your perimeter’.
When Giles and Anton entered the room fell silent, but as Xander and Spike made their way to their seats, closely followed by Connor, the temperature seemed to turn positively icy as Buffy stared daggers at Spike and managed a rather dismissive snort as she noted the reassuring touches exchanged by all four newcomers the Athenatos/Aurelians took their places.
Giles addressed the group from his position at the head of the table. “Immortal Anton, High Mistress Eleanor of the Surrey Coven, ladies and gentlemen welcome. For those of you unfamiliar with the Immortal’s family…” At this Buffy snorted loudly garnering a number of raised eyebrows at her rudeness.
“May I also introduce William and Alexander Aurelius and William’s brother by blood Connor. We are pleased and honored to gather such an esteemed group today to discuss current issues facing the magical and nonmagical communities of England and particularly our corner of it.
“We currently have a crisis throughout Europe caused by human wars in other regions and a refugee influx of both the human and magical/demon variety leading to a rise in nationalism and inter group conflict. High Mistress Eleanor, if you would please fill our visitors in regards the steps the covens are making to assist and integrate magical newcomers to our shores…” and so the meeting proceeded like so many others Anton and his adoptive Childer had been a part of recently.
The issues were familiar, though dates and places may have varied in their detail. The calm presence of the Immortal and the inner serenity the High Mistress seemed to exude seemed to encourage others to discuss the issues sensibly and for consensus regards actions to be reached with a minimum of fuss.
Anton gave a brief overview of some of the difficulties arising, such as the Scourge, housing and food resources, permenant resettling of various demon clans, and threats to the stability of the magical community with the movement of so many beings and practitioners of that ilk, and strategies being tried to allieviate the worst effects.
Xander and Spike reported on the projects in Barcelona and the positive outcomes observed when the community embraced refugees, including demons, fully. Connor presented a number of well thought out proposals, both legal and economic, that might assist human policy changes designed to assist the situation, and Anton added weight to the same by citing a number of historical precedents for similar arrangements.
Other participants in the meeting listened with interest, interjected with questions and some of their own suggestions. Plans were made, investigations of options planned, and another meeting scheduled, and there was positive vibe in the room as the close of proceedings approached. But not all present were happy. A very agitated Buffy stood abruptly, thumped the table and glared at Xander and his adoptive family.
"Well, now all that's wonderful and friendly, and I'm all for the savage of little fluffy non violent demons, but let’s talk reality people. Who makes the decision as to who is good and who is dangerous? When does that happen? And what about us protectors of the humans? How we going to tell who's who? I mean, we're supposed to what, ask for some sort of certificate or something from every demon baddie before we can get with the slayage? And how do we know these four aren't all leading us into a trap? I mean did you people even ask these guys about their history? Not exactly stellar citizens, I mean in Rome Anton there is friends with both sides of the evil/good divide, and those two Childer as he continues to call them, both with the crazy and very recently so no telling there…”
As the blonde continued her rant, Spike sought out the hand of his Lover, and noted Anton’s calming touch on Connor’s arm as his biological father was mentioned and his own origins questioned. The four shared calming thoughts through their familial link as they waited out the storm of hurtful words.
Finally it was the High Mistress Eleanor who silenced the Slayer with a sweeping wave of her hand and stated firmly, “Enough!”