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 and Xander bade goodnight to their Sire and little brother at the door of their shared room, the explanation for the impromptu ‘executive meeting’ the following evening being a simple one from Anton. “It will be necessary for us to discuss our thoughts tomorrow before the meeting – so we might offer some advice to Giles and the coven. But in the coming weeks, without the entire coven group and assorted slayers and watchers being privy to the full agenda we, as a family, will need to work through our plans fully and privately. Sometimes fewer opinions can bring clarity to a proposal or proposals for the wider group. So sleep on it my loved ones and let us face that prospect in the morning with clear heads.”
The mated pair stripped without comment en route to their bed, whereupon Xander collapsed face down and groaned.
Spike sat for a moment before taking advantage of the position to pepper kisses up the muscular back from buttocks to shoulder. Xander turned to face his lover and accepted a chaste kiss on the lips then rolled onto his side as the blonde eased down to mirror his position. Long slim fingers stroked away an unruly lock of dark brown as a liquid baritone voice inquired, “Want to offload, sleep then shag, or do it in the opposite order Pet?”
“Can I have the first option on repeat?” was the reply, accompanied by a somewhat rueful smile, “Kind of need to talk, process then hold you while I sleep before I’m good for much else.”
Spike sighed but understood completely and stroked his beloved down the side he could reach. “OK Luv… You start and I’ll try to keep up… though if you begin with the slayer’s pictures I might have to take matters into me own hands so to speak.”
Xander sniggered, “I can’t believe she did that! You know… I’ve got the certificate to say I’m insane, but I never did, would never do that… to anyone! I mean, what was she trying to achieve? It wasn’t like that was going to change the course of history, or any sort of negotiations, even if it were true… And boy howdy! She sure doesn’t know me if she thought I would cheat on you, on anyone, like that! Even that kiss with Willow when we were kidnapped by you… that was because we thought… well we were terrified and children really, and we thought we were going to die! Anya was a different issue and we sorted our differences after, just before…”
Spike could feel the anxiety rising to fever pitch through their link and stroked down his lover’s cheek, but let his mate continue for the moment, knowing that the former friend of the Slayer needed to work this out on his own.
“Ghods Spike! What is her problem? I mean I know I was loop dee loo there for a while, but I’ve been doing OK since you. More than OK! And I’m happy, and I have family, I’ve even talked to my birth family and they’re… well anyway… they seem happy that I’m doing OK, and with you. So what’s her deal? And yes… shutting up now… but… aren’t you just a bit angry?”
Spike kissed his lover then leaned back and conveyed as much love and compassion as he could as he stared into the chocolate brown eyes of his mate. “ ‘S not about you, or about us particularly Pet. Slayer’s not really capable of thinkin’ beyond how the world should centre around her. Don’t like it when her ‘minions’ do well and pass her by. All made worse if they succeed where she’s failed. An’ before you go protestin’ think about it Pet. All she sees is Sire, Anton, her ex-, adoptin’ yours truly an’ you as kin, takin’ on little brother as well – Angel’s son. An’ her tryin’ to get back at me through you, for survivin’ when Ang… when Sire…” Spike sniffed hard and finished, “Stupid selfish bitch, give Harm a run for her money… So I wouldn’t worry Pet. Backfired didn’t it. She tries anythin’ else an’ we’ll deal OK?”
Xander gave a rather subdued, “Yeah.”
Spike stroked his mate’s cheek, “What else is goin’ on in that noggin of yours?”
The brunette gave a heavy sigh, “It’s just… How do you do it Spike? More to the point, how does Anton?”
Spike decided to deliberately misunderstand, “Well, with blokes it generally involves alcohol and a whole lot of lube, chits too – though lube is optional.”
Xander snorted and smacked his lover on the arm, “Evil vamp mine! That’s not what I meant and you know it!”
Spike gave his partner another kiss, this time barely brushing lips, “I do that, luv, but made you smile. Seems we’ve had precious little of that today… So what do you mean by ‘it’?
“Seeing the injustice and cruelty of humans to humans… I mean demons have kind of an excuse… but… I saw stuff in Africa, hell, I did stuff, and it was all crazy… the whole lot… and eventually it swallowed me… I… I don’t know how you see that time and again, war after war, screw up after screw up by humanity, and not want to… I don’t know, shake some sense into them all, just try to get everyone to get along or something… see the bigger picture… How can I do it? I’m pretty much still plain old Xander in my head.”
Spike had been stroking Xander’s arm and considering the words carefully, his answer now needed to be honest, even if the truth sounded a little like the catch phrases from some new age self help book. Nevertheless he replied without ceasing the caress, “Can’t speak for Anton, so I reckon you an’ little brother should have a bit of a conflab with him too at some stage. But as far as me? Yeah, I’ve seen some things as would make you wonder why humanity hasn’t wiped itself out already, evil in men (an’ women) of the human variety as would have ol’ Angelus cowerin’. An’ from me own study of the classics, same has been repeated so long as there’s a bastard in the room with visions of grandeur and a populace what’s needy.
“Those in the know have it figured out see… it’s all about power an’ greed. You get a bunch of folks who are sufferin’ or whose comfy lifestyle is threatened, and feed ‘em some bollocks ‘bout who’s to blame and keep ‘em fearful. Don’t matter if it’s truth or fiction. Stir the pot hard enough, then stand back to watch the caos. Only people who really win are the ones at the top. Sure the ones at the top might change names, even mean to do good at the beginnin’ but the result is the same. Ever read Orwell pet?” Spike paused his stroking and waited as Xander processed what had been said.
“You mean Orson Wells? War of the Worlds?”
The ensuing groan from the vampire was accompanied by, “Bloody hell… *Orwell*, famous books ‘Animal Farm’, ‘1984’?”
“Is that the one with ‘all pigs being equal’? ‘Cause I really didn’t like that one, I read the first bit and the last chapter, then kind of let Willow do my book report.” Spike felt the pang of guilt and embarrassment through the link but pressed on.
“Yeah, that one. Know why you didn’t like it, luv?”
“Well, it was pretty obvious that it was all going to go wrong right from the start, if you blame one group and throw out everyone in charge, ditch everything that works, then you have to have something better to replace it. If you don’t then… Oh…”
“Yeah… ‘s why most revolutions fail an’ most wars line the pockets of those in the know. Sure you might fix some problems, help some as deserve helpin’, but in the end stability is about respect for the needs of everyone, balancing power, looking about to see what’s wrong and havin’ a proper idea of a good future – not perfect mind, none of that ‘everyone will be rich’ bollocks, just a fair future. Right to feed an’ a roof over your head, some down time to rest, a sense of belonging, love, respect (call it what you will), an’ the occasional treat. It’s all about balance…” At that thought Spike suddenly stopped, his gentle strokes ceased and his demeanor changed as realization struck and he whispered, “And that’s what those in the know called us innit… ‘the balance’. Don’t really know as to what that really means though…”
In a move that Xander could hardly track, Spike was up out of bed and half way to dressed, turning in an almost afterthought to throw some jeans in Xander’s direction. “C’mon luv. Gotta see Sire. Let’s get a few things sorted.”
The pair arrived at Anton’s door, a little surprised to find it partway open, a quiet conversation already underway inside despite the late hour. Spike, ever the polite Victorian, still knocked and, taking his mate’s hand, politely waited.
A tired but smiling Anton greeted them as the door was pulled wide open, “I was hoping you would both come. Connor too, I imagine. It seems sleep evades us all this night, so we had best discuss what troubles us.”
The suite was relatively small by Anton’s standards, but leant itself to the task at hand. Spike and Xander took up a place side by side on the bed while the other two resumed their occasional chairs, pulling them around to make a circle. A quiet calm fell on the group as each person gathered their thoughts. Finally, it was Anton who sighed heavily then spoke.
“We have all seen conflict up close, violence and suffering too difficult for most to comprehend let alone survive. We are all participants in parts of our world most humans cannot or will not understand. And now we are seeing the culmination of many factors, the resolution of a number of prophesies, a changing of times.
“I have seen times like these before, eras of peace peppered by small uprisings in, as far as the populace of the larger empires are concerned, remote and mysterious climes that have little if anything to do with their own lives. All the great Empires have something in common. Rulers keep their territories in check by promoting the advantages of citizens belonging to a particular place with promises of peace and fear of the other, meanwhile consolidating their own wealth and power. For the best rulers, this is done through genuine devotion to their peoples. For the others, it is a matter of playing on the ignorance and basic desires of a predictable life to the masses – promoting an external, vague (or not so vague) threat in order to engender fear and nervousness, whilst manufacturing enough controllable local or distant crises to keep citizens ‘busy’.
“A few informed thinkers in any Empire can see the follies inherent in systems that are exclusive rather than inclusive, that deny the basic need to be at one with each other and the earth, and the minor, yet no less real, sacrifices required to address the real issue - balance. These few will try to communicate that truth and knowledge but if the system is corrupt, they will be silenced, eliminated in one way or another, by the evil few in power.”
Connor looked desperate, “So when the distant conflicts gains desperate knowable faces, but stay distant, it’s OK but when masses of individuals start fleeing warzones and famines, when the truth is undeniable to all…”
Anton replied quietly, “Then we must act as advisors to those seeking to restore balance, draw together individuals and groups committed to sustainable solutions. Many will still die and empires will no doubt still topple. It has happened before… many times in human and demon history, and the greater the population, the more caotic and uncontrollable will be the interim. There is a way forward, there always is.” Anton reached over to Connor who stretched out his hand and clasped the Immortal’s. Spike and Xander rose from their seats and knelt in front of their Sire and little brother, also joining hands to complete a circle.
Anton’s resonant voice washed over them as the four men instinctively closed their eyes, “Place your thoughts, your spirit, into our circle. Let us be one with each other, with the light and the dark, the stars and Mother Earth. Let us be at peace and allow the energies of all realms to wash over us and strengthen us, that we might sleep fitfully and dream collectively tonight.”
The blood link flew wide open as the Immortal fell quiet. Initially, high emotions and a wave of jumbled worries, memories and thoughts flowed between the four. Recollections of people and places in history from Anton, battles won and lost, power plays, betrayals, bloody sacrifice and exploitation on the part of humans and demons. Spike’s memories too came into the mix, people and places, desperate circumstances, scenes of torture, and loss of life by disease, starvation and bloody murder.
Connor’s experiences in Quortoth were shared, beasts unimaginable, fear, fury and abandonment. Xander’s recollections of Africa flowed into the mix, the overwhelming terror, loneliness, pandemics, starvation and genocide. Then, more interestingly, Xander’s thoughts turned to unparalleled acts of kindness amongst the mahem, of small triumphs, of gratefulness for the gift of life and friendship, and of quiet times in the madness when the beauty of nature and domesticity could be observed.
It was Xander’s latter thoughts that shifted the focus for all in the group, and more such memories flowed from the four. Images of Hadrian flowed from Anton; Spike’s thoughts swirled with memories of his human mother then Xander; Connor of his adoptive parents and flashes of Angel; and moments later calm descended and they were as one. They all saw and felt each other’s conscious and unconscious minds with complete clarity and were comforted and reassured. Unconditional love, strength and fealty was felt through every fiber of their beings and they returned to consciousness was accompanied by the contemplation of what they had seen and the many things that had not. For all the anguish and pain, there were also residual memories of triumph over evil in its many guises, and the assurance of family.
It was enough. They returned to their individual status slowly. There was no need for words, just loving hugs before they parted and moved to their own rooms.
Xander gently undressed Spike before the favor was returned. They arms and legs intertwined as they curled around each other. Now sleep would come.