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.
Buffy glared at the powerful Wiccan as the woman calmly stood and stated, “You seem to be carrying some deep resentments that are coloring your views, and though we all respect your need to hold onto those for now, I would ask that you refrain from insulting members of this meeting as that behavior is inappropriate, indeed merely emphasizes our need to work toward balance in these matters. The loyalty of the Immortal to that particular cause is not to be questioned. The proposals tabled deserve consideration and I propose we adjorn for now and meet again in a week’s time. Rupert?”
Giles was still somewhat thrown by Buffy’s words, but cleared his throat and replied, “Yes, yes indeed. I believe that would be the best course of action. We do need time to explore the Council’s possible contributions and the impact on our field operatives.” He stood, signaling the end of the meeting, “Thank you all for coming tonight. I take it we will reassemble here in a week’s time.”
The majority of the group filed out, leaving only the Mistress, Giles and the Athenatos/Aurelians in the room. As she departed, Buffy threw a folder onto the table in front of Spike and Anton, “And as far as Xander’s loyalty, Spike, you might want to check these out. Seems like he’s got a friend of the non-flammable variety, or should I say a groin buddy. One of the Slayers in Barcelona took these a few weeks ago.” She gave Spike a nasty grin, swished her blonde hair dramatically as she turned, and left the room.
Spike turned a quizzical look to Xander and mild concern flowed through the link, but there was only love, curiosity and a mild sense of worry coming through in return. Anton reached out and flipped open the file, smiled widely then with a genuine belly laugh, spread the contents for all to see.
The first three photos were obviously taken early afternoon on a Barcelona beach, the sun was still high in the sky and few people were evident indicating the probable time to be during the daily siesta. The first was of the backs of two male figures wandering along the water’s edge, clad only in swimming attire, obviously holding hands. In the second, Xander had turned enough to make out his grin and was splashing the other figure, who was caught on camera mid jump of surprise, and the third was Xander kissing the other man whose face was still obscured.
The consequent dozen or so photos were of the pair at various times of the afternoon and early evening, always in sunlight, and always either touching or kissing.
The Mistress joined in the laughter with the Anton and his boys, Giles the only one who was left frowning. Xander finally calmed enough to notice, elbowed Spike in the ribs, none to gently, and the pair turned to address the old Watcher, Xander taking Spike’s hand as they did so.
“Somethin’ we might have forgotten to tell you lot, though thought you might’ve figured it for yourselves. Been sunproof since L.A. mate. Still not after a tan mind, bloody English Victorian skin tends to lobster after ten minutes, but not likely to spontaneously ignite if’n I wander outside in the daytime. Bloody useful trick in a place like Barcelona, makes for some mightily relaxin’ ‘siestas au naturale’ with my mate, I don’t mind sayin’. Weren’t given the chance to tell the Slayer last time we crossed paths. Probably just as well.”
Giles managed to look intrigued, mildly embarrassed and slightly annoyed all at once, he polished his glasses, cleared his throat twice, then gave a put upon sigh, “Yes well, I should have suspected…”
It was Spike’s turn to look surprised and, his mirth suddenly evaporating, “Oh, and why is that?”
“Your adoptive Sire mentioned, in passing, that there was a prophesy regarding the two who would bring balance, so I spent some time referencing the same.
“I had assumed it was linked to a slayer and wiccan pairing, as the text had several references to a joining of two extraordinary beings who walk with the blessing of the sun, moon and the ancient forces. Of course, like many of these bloody things, it also spends an inordinate amout of time blithering on about the various ‘joinings’ of said beings in various ceremonies. And quite frankly, I discounted the more recent references to “ecstatic joining in the midday sun” as the erotic ravings of a frustrated, over sexed hermit!”
Spike smirked and winked at his partner, who sniggered and was nudged by a smiling Connor, the younger man faux whispering, “Man! That’s not a prediction – it’s field notes!”
Giles mumbled a somewhat embarrassed, “Oh… I didn’t… yes well, I should have…” then a much louder, “Be that as it may, we must now concern ourselves, particularly the Council and the slayers in our care, with how we can work with your family, Anton, as it seems an alliance is the obvious path. I am also intrigued as to why now?”
Connor, who had been silent since his brief speech during the meeting, stated simply, “Tipping point.”
Everyone in the room turned to listen to the youngest Aurelian.
“Tipping point, as in global crisis.
“The rape of the planet for profit, unsustainable growth and debt, inequality and food shortages, illegal trade and corporate greed, political corruption – and not just in the third world, and the denial of our common spiritual connection. The knee jerk reaction is to turn to anyone who can point to a quick fix.
Extremists love the chaos, physical, fiscal and psychological. It gives them credibility since they always have a simplistic reason and moronic, materialistic solution. They create an enemy to blame, an easy target group or groups who are named as the source of all the problems. Your average Joe, who just wants stability and things to go as they were ‘in the good old days’ but can’t, will be inclined to listen to anyone who promises stability and an easy life, even better if they are able to vent their anger somehow. So in selfishness and denial of facts, ignoring the common good and the need for compassion in all arenas, the easy option is chosen. Close the borders, kill the ‘enemy’, ignore Mother Earth, and provide fodder for the despots and dictators in all of their guises.
I just wish we we could get rid of them all – like on Quortoth of something, put them into the fighting pit together and let them slug it out ‘til they’re all gone by their own hand, then we could just call on the moderates to organize and unite, bringing peace by common effort and education. I don’t know… Isn’t it possible to somehow personalize this for the masses, make the suffering family their family somehow? Blitz the media, tie up the power monger’s resources… make the problem the enemy, not particular groups of people?”
All present listened quietly to the young man, admiring his passion, no doubt accurate summary, but doubtful of the apparent simplicity of the solution. Silence befell the group for a time, until Anton spoke with quiet authority.
“All you note is true little brother, and well put. This is a pattern repeated since humans organized into clans, one I have seen more times than I can count. The problem lies with the power-hungry few, if they are unable to see the benefit of all, beneficent, as it were then their leadership will be corrupted by dark forces. Sadly, and regardless of the intentions of any leader, it will be the small and the weak that suffer most.
For the current crisis there are obvious solutions of course, but they will be complex and difficult to implement, but not impossible. Balance is key.
I suggest we adjourn for today, consider our options for both the immediate refugee crisis and Gaia’s longer-term health. Let us ponder our assets, our allies and potential methods. And for today, let us adjourn. We should meet again tomorrow, say… early afternoon… would this suit you Rupert? Mistress?”
The aging Watcher removed his spectacles and pinched the bridge of his nose briefly, “Yes, yes of course. That is, if it is agreeable with you Mistress?”
The High Wiccan smiled, “That sounds like a fine plan. And I would like to extend an invitation to all in attendance to dine with us after, as I am sure some home cooked fare will be welcome by then.”
Farewells were brief and it was a rather subdued group that travelled to a rather lovely B&B of Anton’s choosing. The phonecall to arrange the same made en route.
The four were greeted enthusiastically by a plump, smiling woman who welcomed Anton like a long lost relative, kissing him on both cheeks while speaking in rapid Italian, then doing likewise to ‘his boys’, before taking the Immortal’s arm and leading them up to two generous bedrooms on the second floor of the rambling country manor.
Luggage was at a minimum as the four had only packed for overnight as an afterthought, so the men took little time investigating their overnight abode in favor of graciously accepting the invitation to take supper with the lady of the house.
Though it was quite late in the evening, Claudia was the perfect hostess, ushering the new guests into the drawing room, plying them with drinks of choice and passing around fingerfood, all the while keeping up a commentary, introducing her husband George (a portly gent who was as quiet as his lovely wife was chatty) and their two other guests, an elderly couple from New Zealand “on their first trip overseas, can you believe that!” It was a relief after the tension and worry of the meeting at the coven.