Never Time Enough
They went riding together with the retired Watcher the evening Giles arrived. Giles was accomplished, as were both Spike and, to his surprise, Xander, although it was hardly surprising given what he now knew of the now boy’s past.
They led off at walking pace, but Spike soon whispered into his charge’s ear and accelerated at a pace that excited the others. Xander’s steed was given his head and a rather stunned Giles had to urge his on in order to keep up and bring up the rear.
The sprint lasted across two of the coven fields, a fence and several small streams. It may have been only a mile or so but still had the adrenalin rush and then calming needed to have the discussion needed.
Giles was still panting from the chase, “So you two are… happy then…”
Xander was quite relaxed as he steadied his stead. “Of course! C’mon Giles another gallop?”
“No, no! A moment... I was… this is a spirited gelding and quite… I’m used to my warm blood mare… quite a different… Arabians were never…” All horses slowed and Giles looked decidedly relieved, “Oh thank goodness, we’re back at a walk.”
Giles panted for a while then urged his steed back to the gentle trot that his horse was forced to adhere to as the two others pulled away either side and they made their way back to the stables.
As the three dismounted Spike grinned at the aging gent, “So, Watcher, what say you to the boy’s skills, mighty fine seat wouldn’t you say?”
Spike leaned forward and slapped Xander on the rear affectionately causing Giles to blush a little at the familiarity before replying. “Yes I must say, he equips himself very well. I take it you had…?”
Xander shot a look of wicked resignation to Spike then smiled at his old mentor, “Experience in the saddle? More than you know Giles. Came with the times… and the… ahhh… escapades.”
The three rode on at a quiet walk, each caught up in their own thoughts. Giles recalled his time as a youth on his uncle’s estate, his sister Hettie (she preferred the nickname she had picked up at university and even introduced herself as ‘Bob’ to some of his friends). Older than her Rupert by two years, she was a feisty redhead studying the classics. Intelligent to a fault, she and her horse were just as spirited. When they were both home for a summer break, riding really was the only time they spent alone together. Secrets were told, hopes shared and a good deal of friendly rivalry resolved on the gallop home.
Hettie had indeed become a fine tutor of Latin and Ancient Greek at Cambridge and was well on her way to a PhD when tragedy struck in the form of an out of control petrol tanker and two other cars. She had been visiting friends for the weekend, by all accounts death had been instantaneous. In a way it had been the beginning of Rupert’s ‘wild days’, and it wasn’t until he was seconded to the Watchers’ council that he ever rode again, then of course in Sunnydale it simply was not as accessible. Now, back at the coven, Giles realized how much he genuinely enjoyed the power and grace of his warm-blood mare… and the reminders of innocent joys past.
Spike looked over at Giles as the older watcher’s eyes glazed over and he allowed his memories to dominate. William’s riding had been with family on occasion though he was always a little nervous, not helped by several embarrassing occasions when he was a senior at school. He had been invited to his friend George’s home on the weekend of a hunt. Later it would transpire that George, a rather red-faced portly lad, had been encouraged to ask William by George’s mother who misheard William’s last name and assumed the young lad was one of the Surrey ‘connected’ gentry.
He had been offered a rather flighty filly and managed quite well until being thrown at the third hedgerow, nevertheless had arrived at the tail end of the main group and toasted the event whilst nursing some rather spectacular bruises.
A second incident occurred at University when the borrowed horse he was astride decided a flapping set of white sheets on a line on a hill several leagues away warranted blind panic. It took almost three miles before the steed slowed.
Later… post his Mate Xander… he had ridden recklessly, not caring if he lived or died. It had paid dividends, Dru and he safe after a mad sprint through the black forest, or across the Lake District, or more recently out of Prague and into the countryside. Angelus had been a fine rider and good instructor. And William/Spike in those first few years a willing student.
Xander on the other hand, contemplated joyous rides, exhilarating escapes and very satisfactory aftermaths.
He had been tutored by the best, at Angelus (!) insistence. William and he spent endless evenings practicing jumps, dressage, just plain hacking… until he was utterly confident. He remembered their last ride together before he was dragged away. It was a flat sprint toward the country estate they were now in. The horses pushed to their limit as they raced across moonlit paddocks, over low built walls and scantily manufactured wooden fences, and for no other reason than they had made themselves late by … well it was the moon and they were there… and lovemaking could be so time consuming!
Xander was pulled from his revelry by Giles as he was asked a direct question. “But what of the slip from one to another… do you have insight as to the cause… surely…?”
It was Spike who answered, “Thought that was yours to play with Watcher. Boy here is the original… Our query is the possibility of the second claiming… You know… the second grab across dimensions.” Spike stared hard at a rather puzzled Giles sitting atop an unfamiliar Arabian steed. “Bloody hell Watcher! Do I need to spell it out? Is the boy gonna disappear again or what?! How… Do… We… Stop… It?!!”
“Yes well ummm,” Giles, though initially taken rather aback quickly shifted his position and stiffened. “You are not the only one who is concerned here Spike! We are all working to the same end… albeit yours is a life…unlife… threatening one but nevertheless! Xander you still have not shed any light on the whereabouts of your essence when you did disappear from the time altered realm… As it was over 100 years there and but three or four years here it is likely there was dimensional travel also. Tara has suggested hypnosis along with a dynamic aura reading to try to tease out the details. She and Willow are in agreement – it may even reveal the reason for the shift in the first place.”
Xander pulled his horse in a quick 180 degree turn and faced the old Watcher. “I hope you are prepared for what you learn then… Because as much as I know I want to find out if this could happen again, I also know what I lost. And I suspect Spike is worse off than me in that regard.”
Giles nodded silently and closed his eyes momentarily in obvious pain, “Some of us suffered on this side too, Xander, some of us non vampires missed you too. I will… I am doing my best.” The older man took the reins in one hand and rubbed over his eyes with the other in an expression that spoke silently of fatigue.
Spike saw it and whispered to Xander… “Anything you can remember… words, colours, sounds?”
Xander nodded reached to squeeze his lover’s hand then rode on for a time, finally saying as though an automaton, “When all seems lost, he will be found. The Dark Plum makes it so.”
Spike and Giles locked gazes then said in unison, “Drusilla.”
And so it was. Two days after the joyous ride Xander was in a darkened room that smelt of incense and prickled with magic.
Tara, Willow and three other senior wiccans were chanting Spike was pacing and Giles simply absented himself until proceedings began, after which he would touch Tara to add his own magical ability to the mix.
Xander was lying in the middle of a circle of salt that had been consecrated and formed the centre of a pentagram with a candle and chanting witch at each corner. He tried to relax but it was almost an impossibility, given the circumstance and the company!
After the chanting began Spike was eventually encouraged to lie down at the peak of the pentagram prostrate, touching Willow’s feet.
Tara chanted and reached out touching Xander on the arm and melding with his aura.
For both Xander and Tara, the images were vivid and compelling, the emotions equally so. As a consequence all felt it. Giles drew breath as the depth of care and adoration flowed between Vampire and Mate, the hurt of their separation peaked its full force flawing all present, and the magical energy likewise pushed every creature in the near vicinity sensitive to the pulse to the point of pain.
But through it all came images and a very clear message. It had been Drusilla who chanted the spell that opened the rift – that was true – but it was Darla who was behind the push.
Images of the family in the last days permeated all the chanting witches’ minds and they saw clearly that the Grand Dame Darla was jealous of Angelus’ favour for his grandchilde and her ‘Boy’s’ tolerance of the human Mate/Consort. The terrifyingly brutal Angelus was ‘mellowing’.
The witches all felt the affection Angelus had for his Grand Childe, the appreciation of his company and the relief he felt when the Consort occupied Dru by braiding her hair and playing tea parties on the estate while Angelus and William shared the hunt. It drove Darla to distraction. The instant she returned to London she could see it, feel it… taste it - his preference for sharing the slaughter with another male, even joining in the seductive art of skimming or simply dividing the plunder, not with her, with… William! Returning from her magnificent Master, she had seen ‘the look’ clearly, her Sire had warned of it. It was time to take back control, and William was the key.
Images of the Master enjoying her attentions then listening to her plight were blurred but apparent, but the result of the counsel was crystal clear. On her third evening back, she called for Drusilla – claiming they had been invited to an evening of cards and frivolity by a minor royal. She even allowed Xander to dress Dru’s and her hair then smiled enigmatically as the two women departed their London abode.
Xander was becoming increasingly distressed within the circle of salt and two of the withches were crying openly caught in the myriad of memories and images channeled via their subject.
Spike could feel his partner intensely and began to shake violently, finally collapsing to the floor, arms over his head, keening and rocking as wave after wave of distress and horrendous memories came, both his and Xander’s.
Giles looked across but dared not take his hand from Tara’s back for fear that the magical boost might be lost, despite the fact that Xander was now writhing in distress.
The five wiccans all saw the lead up, and the moment. The boys were about to embark on a joyous evening of parties, plump women delighting in the attentions of handsome men, ‘likely lads’ fancying themselves as gentry and deserving of seduction, followed by a celebratory carriage ride to finish the night.
Angelus took to the carriage first, William kissed his Mate and squeezed his arm promising “Games are afoot mate… c’mon! This is me warm up… Will love ya into the floor afore the night’s over!”
Those observing the circle saw Xander begin to cry.
As the Consort meant to alight their transport for the night, something happened. His feet were as though bolted to the ground. He tried to reach for the carriage but his arms were… disintegrating. He became aware of a bright light surrounding him and pain. He kept sending love to his Mate, kept sending but he no longer had control. He watched in horror as his legs disintegrated then were sucked into the swirl… he reached out… just… if he could just?! And then it was… nothingness. He could feel his Mate at the outer edges of his… essence. He felt the extremes – the extreme grief, the physical pain, the… desperation and devastation.
But there was no real sense of time… it was as though ‘two parts removed’ from the fact.
The Mistress called the session as soon as the ‘return’ was visited.
It had been close to four hours of meditation and draining energies. But the most profound and sustained affect was the forced abduction of Xander and his essence and the affect on the bereft vampire.
They all saw it, William’s desperation, his anger, tirades, vicious attacks on any who crossed his path; his self destructive inclinations and willingness to create ‘trouble’. Nothing stood in his way, no-one was safe - Darla rejoiced, Angelus tried to control him for a time, then simply kept the family safe, and Drusilla was as oblivious as ever.
‘Spike’ became a way of finding his anger manifest.
They had taken him – possibly humans! Darla fed the thoughts by suggesting it was the humans who had plotted against the Aurelians, claimed back their own, dragged Willaim’s dearest from the realm because of his own weakness and yet??
William’s dedication to family? Was that the reason for the catastrophe? Angelus had been drained by his Sire, Drusilla was wailing inconsolable and William??? In the ensuing months, William played the game according to the She Bitch Darla but not because of her. He was desperately vicious, acutely violent, and splattered the name of William the Bloody, aka Spike the Aurelian, across Europe. Angelus was with him blow for blow, soulless though not the less affected by his boy’s distress. And more than that, his ‘Dark Plum’ was removed from his grasp as Darla claimed her boy exclusively once more.
Xanda was adrift… a nothing… a thought or soft pass of a breeze. He tried constantly to push his essence into William’s realm but was denied again and again.
Xander remembered floating in and out of contact, sometimes so close it was… just … not… tangible! And remembered crying in frustration, grief, bereft of all that meant anything… so close and yet… He watched William become Spike, tear apart, torture, maim, mark and define himself through violence borne of the deepest distress…
He saw Darla condemn Angelus, deliberately, in a fit of jealous rage after her Childe refused to chastise his Grandchilde for an attack on the local beer house.
Angelus disappeared, William was burdened and blessed with the full time care of Drusilla and Darla tolerated the two for a few more years, but fled the family part way through their China adventure and returned to her Sire. The revisit of Angelus in his souled form sickened her, more that she could not bring herself to stake him than his ‘beaten puppy’ persona.
And Xander had been forced to watch… Watch his dear heart struggle to survive, his lover take others out of spite or simply to forget… Every dark haired boy, every pretty pair of brown eyes, every… he kept looking… but it was never him.
At the edge of Xander’s mind he could hear Spike, “Where are you sweetheart? Where were you? Please don’t leave me… Please!!! Not again I can’t… I can’t…”
It was followed by the sensation of Darla’s “Never”; Angelus’ weak “No! Will!”; and Darla’s, “Weeeeee… cakes for tea!”
Xander was immediately awake. The strength of the magical blast bringing him to the present also throwing all the wiccans and Giles back from the pentagram several meters!
Spike watched in horror as the smoke and fire of the blast subsided and all in the room rushed to the assistance of those injured, except for the inert splayed figure of his beloved limbs still smoking in the centre of the room. Spike crawled desperately toward the non breathing figure of his beloved.
He pulled Xander’s unbreathing, still and blackened (in places) body to his chest, tried desperately to brush charred and wizened strands of hair from an ashen face, tore open his wrist with a viciousness that spelt desperation, and tried desperately to force the blood into an unresponsive mouth. He then massage the lax throat just enough as bloodied tears fell, all the while crying, “Why? He’s did nothing! Why!!!???? I love him… I love him… GrandSire! Giles… Mistress… Oh Goddess… I… Love… Xan… If you can’t then take me with you… Then please take me!
In full game face Spike rounded on the wiccans, the former Scoobie still clutched tight to his chest. His Game Face was focused on noone! “Come on! Have at it I’m not bloody doing this again… Finish him and hell… there are plenty of trees around, grab a stake and have at it! I die, he dies… it’s what you wanted isn’t it?... What you all wanted isn’t it?... Bloody hell just do it! Don’t take him again... Not like this!!!”
It was only Tara’s calm and Willow’s eye for detail that spotted it. A small garnet and gold ring on a necklet had surrounded Drusilla’s neck during the last vision as the rift was invoked. It was a ‘gift’ from Darla, and one that the rather dotty vampire handed on to her Chaos Demon friend, so consequently destroyed as the two jumped into an Icelandic volcano whilst chanting a love spell – apparently to consummate their love. Resulting in the rather minor ‘show’ of blue and crimson sparks amongst many that manifested with the full lava flow that evening. Darla was dust, as (apparently) were Drusilla and ‘Bfflart’ – and the rift opening pendant went into the fiery abyss along with its rather deranged wearer.
It took some minutes for all to recover but eventually Tara took control. She stood unsteadily, but planted both feet and grasped the hand of the wiccan to her right, and placed her left on the grief stricken figure of Spike. The same was done around the circle, surprisingly even including the Slayer and Giles in the wiccan show of strength, as the blast of energy drove skyward.
Spike passed out with the extraordinary pulse, as did most of the wiccan circle. But Tara, Willow and Giles maintained consciousness. There would be no reversal of Xander’s status. He was in this realm to stay… or at least the realm of Spike (aka William the Bloody), Willow was not taking any chances!
Two days later a rather shaky Xander sought the counsel of Giles. Little could be done regards the existence or otherwise of the talisman, and the upshot seemed to point to the demise(or otherwise) of Drusilla – or at very least the elimination of the stone that held the power to open the rift.
Everything seemed to indicate its elimination… that was something. In the same conversation Xander eventually (via a rather convoluted route) tried to explain the whereabouts of his essence… ‘there but not there’ eventually being about the best he could come up with… Giles polished his glasses, Xander apologized and the two reassured each other. There were no real guarantees but it did seem, at least judging by the portents and the visions, that he and Spike would… be.
That night, in private, Spike and Xander made love as though it was their first and last time. Both were exhausted, both unconvinced it would be anything but their last joining. Any but the most bold would have turned away or at least had cause to blush. Passion gave the two strength for a time but their final act was one of abject hope… hope that this was all there was… hope that this was who they were… hope for love… that was truly… forever.
Late that night Spike rang Angel again. This time he had a quiet hand holding his right as he spoke candidly to his Sire. The conversation threw Angel for a loop. It was William on the other end of the line. Something had shifted. The Mate was returned he knew that, but…
William was back. But it was a quietly spoken, measured, mature, William who was holding his consort’s hand whilst asking for his Grandsire’s approval to ‘attend the Aurelian Court’ and asking that they might ‘wipe the slate clean’ regards some altercations of late.
Angel was about to hang up, assuming the blonde menace was drunk, when he heard a quiet tenor voice ask “Request Grandsire that he might come riding… In Surrey… in three days’ time. He knows the address of the coven, and I am sure we can find somewhere for him to stay.”
“You heard the boy…”
Angel closed his eyes for a moment – unsure whether to be angry or thrilled. In the end he settled for resigned, “Yes… alright – but only a week to ten days… I have a business…”
He was cut off by a short, “Good then get the girl Friday to send us yer details and we’ll arrange a pickup.” Followed by a click.
Xander had informed the coven of Angel’s impending arrival, and Spike broke the news to an over excited Adrian Crent’ath who immediately a) ordered a car and driver for the duration of Angel’s visit, and b) sent out dinner invitations to all the who’s who of the Surrey ‘set’ and more than a few influential Londoners besides, despite Spike’s protests that Angel was ‘less than inclined’ regards large parties these days given the soul having and remorse. He was answered with a flip of the hand and dismissive “Nonsense William… It will be a night to remember… a night worthy of this fine house and the Aurelian line!”
Angel arrived in a handsome limousine some seventy one hours later, not so much bewildered by the flight or personal service… but certainly thrown by how familiar the estate looked. Other than the accoutrements of modern, wealthy households, it looked virtually the same as when he had last visited.
William had been out of control for weeks and Darla simply would not let it rest. The bloody rampage across the city had not stopped at likely demon perpetrators of the abduction of his Mate, but extended to any human that crossed his path. William was well and truly out of control.
No manner of thrashings or torture seemed to make a difference – indeed the blonde begged for more so the pain outside might match that he was feeling internally.
Darla had very quickly tired of running, insisting that Angelus take her to Europe or stake his wayward Grandchilde or preferably both! William was hurting, so reckless and uncaring of the need for the family to hunt in safety that were chased out of many old haunts for fear of the angry mobs out for dust. Darla blamed Angelus for William’s misdemeanors and the ongoing annoyance of the mad as a hatter Drusilla. She demanded Will be punished for days at a time, strung up stripped bare, beaten until he was aught but a mass of bruises or flayed skin.
Fingers were broken, toes, nose and ribs certainly, and arms too on occasion… though nothing that would slow down their progress should they need to move in the opulence to which she had become accustomed.
Nothing mattered to Will. He knew somehow that Darla had taken his Mate. His only solace was his mad Sire. She licked his wounds with glee, ran soft fingers over his bruised form and rebroke fingers “With a whack and a crack! And we all fall down!”
And through the haze of pain, Will knew his Grandsire was hurt almost as much as he. When the She-bitch was not present, he would be let down from the ceiling restraints, cradled in strong male arms and fed his Grandsire’s blood, all the while Angelus appealing to him to stem his behaviour.
They were in Romanie – fleeing from England until ‘things settled’. William was again strung up. Drusilla and Darla were sharing a bed next door, and Angelus was allegedly continuing to ‘teach that pathetic pup a lesson!’ with a short training whip, as wet and vicious as it was light weight, quite capable of drawing blood at each strike.
William was beyond anything but a rasped grunt as the forty-first blow struck, “I d’nay want t’ hurt ye Will… c’mon boy… don’t give her grist fer the mill! Just steady… Ahh Geeezus! Forty two!... In truth ye always were a soft one, but now I see yer strength… Forty three… Just do this for me Will… I tire of beatin’ ye at Darla’s command… But t’would best be me not her… Forty four… Please Will!!!… Care for your Sire and look for yer lover… your Mate… anon. I care for ye Will… Please.”
Sadly for Angelus, Darla had caught the end of the conversation. The following evening she let William down from his torture, allowed both Drusilla and Angelus to tend him gently, and two nights later fed Angelus a gypsy virgin in honor of his turning day.
That night the rest of William’s world fell apart.
Angelus just… disappeared. Explanations from Darla were laughable at best but with Dru crying hysterically and the gypsy’s blamed what was one to do?!
William the Bloody was true to his name, painting the ground in blood wherever he went. Short sharp ends to so many lives and all in the name of the GrandSire, the Mate, the Sire, the… the... It didn’t matter any more! He and Dru were in and out of Darla’s favor – she tolerating them only that her own reputation for brutality might be bolstered in the eyes of her dear Master.
He took on the moniker of ‘Spike’ and immersed himself in the blood, the crunch, the kill. Nothing else mattered now. He would please his Sire, his dark plum, and keep her safe from the bitch. Somehow he knew Darla was behind his boy’s… he couldn’t… to think of it hurt… made it real. Dru swooned he caught her and kissed lips that were too cold and too slim, yet they yielded and it was all he had left… all he had left.
After sixty or so years things had evened out. Spike had seen Angelus come and then, for reasons *Darla and soul* related, *go* in China. Abandonment – just when he had killed his first slayer, just when he needed his Grandsire’s approval, just when… just... Spike buried William the evening the bastard abandoned them for the last time, buried William for good, and became Spike.
Dru, bless her, was none the wiser. She loved WWII and their sojourn afterward in Monaco then Italy (a love affair which saw them spending nearly every summer in the south of France or Italy proper for the next fifteen or so years!). WWI had been “too much of that nasty gas that makes them taste funny and makes my eyes sting”. Added to that Spike (as he was known in all circles now) was more than happy to absent them from the killing fields after a happy sniper managed to lodge two bullets in his right buttock! After only two weeks they took their feeding to easier pickings, away from the fields of war in the Dardanelles and back to the confused streets of Paris.
Spike was more than happy to indulge his lady… it was all he lived for now… just like when he was first made – she was his destiny… But even then Spike never really stopped looking for his Mate, the brown eyed boy.
He had done his research (privately so had Angelus pre his ensouled days). A dimensional rift and consequent taking could fling one forward – but not back (?) – even his limited knowledge of universal laws seemed to indicate that. At least he thought it did?! And he knew that if Xander was dead, then he would be too, that was a given according to the laws of magic – and he wasn’t dead so Xander was… somewhere?!
So he kept looking, his dotty Sire joining in the fun by pointing out every dark haired boy, every muscled back, every soft toned voice with an American accent… Much as she innocently rubbed salt into his wounds, he loved her for it but never truly stopped looking.
And Xander strangely… had known. There was something, in the preservation and return of his essence there were residual flashes. He knew he was loved.
Angel was met by an effusive Adrian at the base of the stairs and all but got back in the car, then saw Spike… not Spike… William hand in hand with a slightly taller, well proportioned brunette male.
A wildly enthusiastic handshake from Adrian distracted him for a moment.
“So glad you were able to fit us into your busy schedule… It is such an honour to host you again Master Angelus”
Angel tore his stare from the couple at the top of the landing and focused back on Adrian, “Actually it’s just Angel… Thanks for the…”
True to his flamboyant style Adrian rounded on their guest, waving frantically at the staff to sort the luggage and ushered Angel up the stairs, “Of course… gypsies! Pffftt! Our family had had none of their nonsense for five hundred years. No scruples any of them.” Adrian all but dragged a rather overwhelmed Angel up the steps toward the main entrance where his Grandchilde and Mate waited. Xander the boy… man he had known so many years ago… the altered memories mixing with originals yet it still felt right, especially in this context, this house.
Adrian was still chatting away enthusiastically, “Come in and let us get you settled. I’ve put you in the east wing – the rooms are a little smaller as you’ll remember but you will have your own sitting room and the views are… well you remember the views from Grandmama’s day – we’ve kept…” He fell suddenly silent when he realized Angel was not listening, instead was entirely preoccupied by the two at the door.
A soft baritone said “Sire” as Spike bared his neck. Xander did likewise.
To his credit Adrian realized the privacy and importance of the moment and waved the staff inside, leaving the doors open and the three figures exchanging blood quietly in the moonlight.
The altered memories seemed to have shifted the relationship between the two vampires in subtle ways. Though initially both vampires were rather stiff, it soon fell away, Angel pulling Spike in to him hard, and through the link Xander felt the difference. This Angel, soul having perhaps, but this Angel was… “Sire” again at last. The two embraced long and hard, blood taken and given. And as he waited Xander pondered.
His greatest difficulty was understanding the impact of his disappearance in both realms. Still, vague flashes of the ‘interim’ his three/hundred plus years away… the gap to him was nothing, a mere heartbeat, yet now, thanks to the intervention of the coven he knew just what an impact his impromptu, unintentional departure had been. Darla had managed, in a simple act to do something equally as devastating when she ensouled then banished William’s Grandsire.
Along with that, Xander now had an insight into the period between when Angelus tried to manage the strife caused as William spun out of control and the consequent beatings and the becoming of ‘Spike’… And Xander understood the Grandsire’s need to run when the soul was handed to him. The Grande Dame Darla had won the day again, and in the blink of an eye was well rid of the soulful version of her Childe.
But now, with Xander, his Mate and Consort at his side, and in his Sire’s embrace, Xander saw Spike become William once more. Not an insipid, young poet William, but the magnificent vampire, the beautiful male who all but glowed in the wane light of the moon as he took his Sire’s blood whilst held in a full loving embrace.
Angel tasted it, but was neither envious nor angry. Spike had his Mate back and now it was up to the Grandsire to reestablish the connection with family (such as it was).
Eventually, after blood was had on all sides, the three moved quietly indoors. Spike nodded to Adrian’s PA and Angel was shown to his rooms.
Just past three in the morning, as the household slept, Spike and Xander had made love, but were both a little too awake to rest peacefully, so instead, Spike took his Mate’s hand and they padded silently through the corridors to Angel’s room.
Nothing was said, but the duvet was lifted by the incumbent vampire, and shortly after three male forms embraced in a quiet familial embrace, the warmth of the Mate heating Spike’s back as he was spooned from behind whilst resting a chiseled cheek on his Grandsire’s strong chest.
Angel was not there to provide answers to anything particularly, rather they were together to consolidate family once more.
Angel was heard to sigh contentedly before all three gave in to slumber.
The three Aurelians woke slowly early afternoon but all chose to remain in the too long forgotten three way embrace, Xander’s heat permeating them all and the duvet pleasantly comforting.
Finally Spike broke the silence.
“So… Anyone for a fondle?”
It was such a silly statement and so typically Spike (not William) that it required a slap from his Consort and a grunt of mild annoyance from his Grandsire although…
Angel had not really felt at ease to let his demon loose other than when fighting for a hundred years plus, but the new memories and the presence of the mated pair drove the original Angelus to the surface of his conscience. And the interesting part for the ensouled one was that there was no conflict any more. His boys were back. He nipped his wayward Grandchilde lightly on the shoulder and grumbled “Go back to sleep.” Much may have changed but the new and old memories of their time were so strong, and here in this place…
Spike gave a rather bemused “Ow!” at the nip, then slapped Xander back, grinned wickedly at his mate and winked. He then leant over and kissed his surprised Grandsire square on the lips before tweaking Angel’s dark nipple hard, flicking Xander in the nether regions and promptly launched out of Xander’s grasp and over his Sire and out of the bed.
What ensued was a rather impromptu – and very uncharacteristic (for Angel of late) chase down the hallway and around several flights of stairs and was only halted at the appearance of Adrian’s PA on the ground floor. It resulted in three rather ‘underclad’, smiling, and consequently somewhat embarrassed group of gents being invited to take ‘brunch’ in the atrium (their disheveled appearance much to the bemusement of Adrian).
The vampires sat drinking, Spike still occasionally stealing food from Xander’s plate to crush and mix with his blood, and Angel smiling for the first time since…? What interested the consort was the number of times Spike casually reached across and touched his Sire – the thrill being the reciprocal gentle caress of hand or knee and the subtle invitation for the consort to touch too.
Their host Adrian enjoyed the scene immensely – this was what his grandmother had described – but it was so much better in the flesh! They were a family, anyone could see that, but essentially he was there to remind them of the momentous event to come that evening – the ball was to welcome back the Aurelians to their home!
Adrian chose the moment carefully, but the presence of the three semi-clad beautiful male forms did tend to have his quills emerging… Adrian’s P.A. was already instructed to assist them with costumes and ‘notes’ on the invited guests.
Angel seemed in a rather odd mood, saying little as usual but strangely relaxed. It was over a hundred years but somehow… he felt at ‘home’. He was still trying to reconcile what this meant… was this really his ‘shanshu’ perhaps? Not to become human or find perfect happiness (whatever that was) but to be at peace at last? Though still trying to come to terms with the new memories and far older ones, he did feel right, resolved, and in a way redeemed, he had his soul *and* his family back. He smiled as he noted Xander lift his wrist for his Mate to take – and surprised to again see the boy’s tiny fangs drop as Spike reciprocated. He then gave himself a mental slap. The ‘boy’ was no longer truly human, his new memories knew that.
The three were broken from their reverie by an insistent Adrian as he read through the guest list, they all recognized a number of names. Adrian had been careful to invite (where longevity allowed) any allied demons from Angelus’ time before the ensouling, and before Xander’s disappearance.
Ever the showman, Adrian, requested that the three Aurelians (two vampires and one consort) descend the stairs together after the main group of guests had arrived, and in costume as was appropriate.
He had deliberately demanded that all the guests dress in the nature of the late 1800s – and offered to dress the three Aurelians from his personal dresser’s own collection. The high collared waistcoats and classic navy blue and gold formal garb of the English Military of the period did not sit so well with Angel (Irish sensibilities still to the fore) though he was familiar with the style and the effect was striking.
The three descended the stairs as a proud family group, greeted by various demon and human socialites and dignitaries, and chatted surprisingly easily.
Despite the fine, appropriate aperitifs and drinks, Angel tugged at his high collar a little uncomfortably for the first half hour, Spike noticed and opened his wrist, resulting in a rather stunned Angel taking from his Childe in a small alcove behind the stairwell then offering his own, feeling the connection on a visceral level… literally, and calming.
It was an epiphany of sorts. And one from which there was no return. He would not abandon this again. This was family and love and history and unconditional devotion and… home, after more than a hundred years. It was William and his Consort and he, once more, truly felt like… the Aurelian Grandsire.
The change was subtle but noticed by Spike and Xander, and both grinned knowingly as Angel gradually relaxed, stood a little taller and chatted more easily with guests, even offering to dance graciously with a few of the ladies as the music became the focus.
Adrian was ecstatic, the night was a triumph and he immediately began speaking of a ‘mid summer ball’ to various guests (much to his PA’s dismay!). Such an event took weeks to plan and she had hoped for a little respite during the balmy nights of summer.
For Xander the whole event was incredibly, and at the same time puzzlingly, familiar. His disconnect with this type of thing was but weeks old… for the other two it was a century and more. Nevertheless Spike rose to the occasion, dancing with his beautiful Consort and even his Sire for one round and wooed many a giggling lady (of all species) onto the floor, to do as both his Sire and Consort did, dance and flirt with them.
At one notable point in the evening Spike noted the worried look on Adrian’s pretty PA’s face, this night was very much of her making. She was dressed in a radiant sapphire satin period dress, and Adrian had made sure to provide lend her some of his own mother’s stunning ruby and diamond jewelry. Nevertheless she looked quite strained having worked so hard in the upcoming days to the event.
Spike quietly instructed the small live orchestra, then approached her, bowed deeply and requested her company in a dance. What resulted was a lively polka, to the rather classical “Shall We Dance” from “The King and I”. She found herself being swept around the floor her long train flung over her gloved arm and dark tresses almost coming loose from their stays. Mischievous twinkling blue eyes, strong guiding arms and a grin that spoke of thanks had her letting go for the first time in… years. So they danced and it was infectious. In the end Xander, Adrian and even Angel were swirling partners around the floor – along with fifty or more guests of all persuasions/species.
As the music finished, the dear PA was left grinning, almost breathless in her beautifully beaded gown, and really did need the fine bone fan she had been gifted on the night by her boss.
It was to be the first of five more lively classical pieces that left the participating guests panting and taking more of the wonderful fruit punch (and other beverages of choice). The evening ended well beyond two in the morning as weary guests toddled to their chauffeured private cars, and line of taxis.
As the last guest left, Adrian pulled the rather exhausted Aurelians, and his entire staff, into the atrium at the rear of the house and issued them all with fresh, large bulb glasses, proceeding to pour ‘a snifter’ of his finest brandy into the base of each.
“A toast to a fine evening of food, wine, women, song, dance… and everything in between! To all of you… Salute!!”
Glasses were raised in unison, kitchen staff, casually hired waiters, the small orchestra and two singers – even by a smiling Angel – all toasting the other staff and their host “Salute”.
Spike sidled up behind the ensouled version of his Grandsire, empty glass in hand and whispered over his shoulder at a vampiric level “Not brooding again are we? Penny for your thought’s?”
“Oh Sp…*William* tonight has been just… Perhaps this is my Shanshu… finding family again after all I’ve done… after all this time… How can you forgive? I…”
Unexpectedly Xander joined the two, sliding his hands around the blonde vampire’s waist as Spike whispered, “Just did what the bitch of a Sire of yours dictated by jealousy, stealth, meddling, pure evil and hate…” It was said with so much justified venom that both Grandsire and Childe fell into game face.
It was Xander who spoke next “Grandsire can we be happy – even just for tonight…”
Spike grinned then intoned “May as well! Knowing us, it will all go to hell on the morrow! No happiness ever truly lasts… Not for us anyway. Well truth be known, not for anyone on this ridiculous earth.”
Angel turned and kissed his Grandchilde then Xander on the neck in full view of Adrian and the staff, “So come on let’s us pay our respects and let family be family… I think we need to retreat as in days of old.”
What followed was a dignified and very gracious thank you to all concerned from the Aurelians, then a slow ascent to the second floor and their respective suites. But just as previously, Angel opened the covers of his bed. This time to three highly aroused males exchanged blood and enjoyed dreams enhanced by touch and familial memory.
The following morning was somewhat different. Angel Investigations was calling with an urgent message to return, the Swiss and London banks managing Aurelian accounts were calling, and Xander’s parents were on the phone determined to plan a visit.
The three Aurelians were still a little buzzed by the previous evening’s function as they woke mid afternoon to a bedroom floor that attested a good time had by all. It was littered with their attire that was duly collected and placed in a ‘to be laundered’ pile after a single then dual then triple shower was taken. Still smiling Angel, Spike and Xander took a leisurely ‘breakfast’ then determined to address real life again.
There were tasks for each to do and Adrian’s PA lived up to her reputation for organization as she swiftly produced the phone messages and suggested the study for their use.
Angel was the first to make his call, while Spike went online to ascertain what all the fuss might be about regards investments and Xander tried to work out the best dates for a visit prior to booking tickets online for his parents.
The news from Angel Investigations was not as dire as the Grandsire suspected it might be. Just a few ‘tricky’ cases; a vision from Cordelia that included a vague image of a new Master vampire setting up a lair LA; then an expression of real concern (and some condemnation) that he might ‘be Angelus’ again given his rather uncharacteristically happy tone as he brushed off the requirement to return immediately and described the previous evening to the seer. In the end he reassured Cordelia that all was well and had Xander then Spike both reassuring her personally of his none Angelus status (the latter implying that there may have been shagging but all in good fun, for which he got a growl from Angel and light slap on the backside from Xander).
In the end it was settled. Angel would return to LA within the next few days, on the proviso that he was to keep safe and return to the familial home in England at least four times a year. Adrian’s PA committed to providing dates of significant social events and organize any other itinerary items deemed appropriate for the Grandsire to justify his future visits.
Satisfied that his Grandsire would return frequently, Spike made the calls to his investment banks and various business advisors. Angel was not so much amazed by the process as the astute and competent way Spike dealt with the modern investment system. Twice during his time on the phone Spike had looked up to see his Grandsire smiling with pride in his direction.
After the third ‘look’ he finished the conversation (in fluent French) hung up and spun his office chair to face the other vampire, “What?”
“Just impressed William. I always thought I was OK with money, but that was something else. Just glad I gave you the ‘keys to the castle’ I guess.”
Spike looked taken aback. “Well ’s your money too technically. Maybe you’d like an update occasionally since you’re all corporate ‘n ‘over the drink’. You can do it online you know – so long as you remember the bloody long password number for that Swiss mob – banker wankers! We should take a trip to Zurich next time you’re here and we can check out that safe deposit vault too – reckon there might be a few bits and pieces worth somethin’ from back in the day.”
Spike winked at Angel – the older vampire trying to remember just how much might be there and winced as he remembered just *how* they had come by the various items. Selling some items via Sotheby’s as suggested by Spike seemed an option Angel was willing to entrust to his Childe *after* their visit to the bank vault in Switzerland in a month’s time
Spike saw the signs of a good ‘brood’ coming on, “C’mon ya ol’ wanker. Stuff’s that old no one remembers where it came from – and I reckon that applies to you too. But next time you’re here, let’s just do it for old time’s sake yeah? But in the mean time, I’ve sent Angel Investigations a bit of a shot in the arm ‘for services rendered’.”
“What do you...? How?”
“You really are behind the times aren’t you! Cordelia said business has suffered as you are not there, got your account number and just pushed through an extra Euro or two from the Aurelian profits to make sure ‘all’s well at mill’. Can’t have you or your pets on the streets can we? And according to that girl Friday o’ yours, she’s due a bonus, figured a bit of a fiscal boost might help with that.”
“Means *financial*… money? How *do* you run a business is beyond me Sire!”
“I know what it means, just hadn’t heard you use that sort of language until now.”
“Well get used to it. And if you want some help with your books, I’m reasonable in that department these days – and if not me then Adrian.”
Spike was graced with a blinding smile that reflected pride and a little sadness from Angel, “Now what’s got yer knickers in a twist Sire?” It was enough and he was pulled into a full hug and kissed on the neck, over his claiming mark no end. It almost undid him, and the next words did it. His demon to the fore he shed three blood red tears following the, “I do love you William, always did, always will.”
Xander entered the room just as the two pulled apart, but sensing the nature of the distress withdrew and gave them their time together. He would speak to Spike later and they would discuss a possible trip to LA sometime in the future after Angel’s return and a visit to Switzerland to assess the ‘sale of some of the loot’. The reciprocal visit would be a gift of sorts, for Angel’s peace of mind that the deal went both ways re family.
The discussion prior to Angel’s departure two days later included the impending visit of Xander’s parents, booked on a flight to England three months hence, so the timing for a return visit from Angel (all being well in LA) was set for six weeks away, and consequently a tentative date was also set for their venture to the continent.
Adrian, never one to be left out of the loop, was both enthusiastic and his apparently tireless PA (who had been given a week’s leave with pay following the triumph of the ‘welcome home party’) was more than able to make all the arrangements.
The parting of Xander and particularly Spike and Angel at Heathrow was as heart wrenching as it was reassuring.
“So we’ll see you on the 25th next month and head out with me Consort on the 27th to the ‘neutral state’ yeah? Don’t want to sell off anything you want to keep” Spike tried to smile but ended up bearing his neck in a private ‘amenities’ booth.
Angel took the gift gently but drank three full drafts, causing Spike to pale a little more before Xander stepped up also exposing his neck (on the other side of his claiming). Angel took two small sips of Xander’s familial blood before rather tearfully saying “Thank you… Thank you both. I will see you soon William, you know I will.”
“Bloody well better ya ol’ ponce! Several ladies expectin’ another round on the dance floor from ‘your highness’ at the next ball, and I don’t fancy Adrian’s ire if he’s sorted your room an’ you don’t front!”
Xander stifled a grin. It was perfect Spike, abrasive when at his most vulnerable, and to farewell his Grandsire now was painful, he let his own tiny fangs drop, opened his wrist and momentarily let Spike take a draft.
The three left the amenities as though nothing had transpired, but everything had changed. As they approached the entrance to the ‘passengers only’ door, Angel turned for a moment.
Only vampire hearing could have picked up what was whispered, “You have made me so happy Will. I trust you with the Aurelian accounts, I canna make head nor tail of this new banking system as ye well know. But I will be back and we *will* together, with your Consort, rid ourselves of the spoils of evil. See you soon… And Will? I do so still love you… Family… You’ve gifted me with that again.”
And with that he walked through the door, leaving Xander to hug Spike chest to strong chest for a minute or two before they made their way to their awaiting limousine.
Spike had no desire to establish himself as High Master of the region of Southern England, however during the ensuing weeks was inundated with personal appeals from the Master of London, and Masters from the surrounding areas that he might take on that moniker and task.
His priority was to ‘settle’ and pleasure his Consort in all ways possible. The other Masters, and Adrian however, were persistent. The current ‘High Master’ was failing in his duties and there needed to be a ‘changing of the guard’.
Having a court meant turning more to his peaceful intent. Xander proved his strength as Consort and took many of the calls with a diplomacy that belied his rather ‘average’ Sunnydale education, rather his knowledge of the true Aurelian agenda.
After the thirtieth email, countless phone calls and appeals, Spike agreed to a meeting with all the Masters, including the rather young ‘High Master’ of the region who had learned of ‘William the Bloody’s return.
There had to be a meeting and it was not going to be an easy one.