Prior Claim


Part Thirteen

Victoria Station seemed like a pretty busy place to get in touch with the Oracles but Angel swore blind that his contact had told him this was where they had to go. Moving through the main station, Xander had to smile – even at the late hour, there were lots of people milling around, the typical farewells and greetings as people came and went. Spike wandered off for fifteen minutes or so, returning with a WHSmith bag (a shop in the station that sold newspapers and other stuff) which Xander looked at questioningly.

“You'll see, Pet.”

Angel had provided the main gift for the Powers due to his previous experiences dealing with them – that, and the fact that Xander was meant to be his Seer after all. He'd had a long conversation with Xander, describing his previous experiences with the pair, attempting to prepare Xander for possible disappointment. The Oracles had never been particularly forthcoming with helpful information, and he didn't want the man pinning all his hopes on them clearing up the mystery.

It was a strange experience talking to Xander now that he had both eyes – he kept staring, then worrying that Xander thought he was staring because of the eye, then worrying that Xander thought he was staring because of the sex – yeah, it was a full on uncomfortable experience and Angel was doing his best to stay away from Xander. It didn't help that the young man smelt strongly of family. A week spent wrapped in Spike's arms had infused him with his scent, and that combined with his acceptance into the clan meant that Angel's demon wanted to get (and stay) very close to Xander. Especially since Buffy was not only giving him the cold shoulder but threatening violence as well.

The five of them left the station and quickly took the steps down to the underground. Angel led them to a turnstile that was strangely quiet even while all the others were bustling with people.

“Come on.” Spike and Xander followed him through the turnstile without the need for a ticket, a sharp inhale coming from them as they stepped into a darkened cave with sandy floor, a bonfire burning in the centre. Stumbling, Spike and Xander scowled at Angel who was looking very confused. They turned to look behind them, but neither Willow or Giles came through.

“I don't understand – this should have led us to the Oracles, not the Conduit.”

“The Oracles are no longer your contact – henceforth you will speak to the Powers through us.” The disembodied voices that came from the flames were a man and a woman, speaking in an almost synchronised fashion.

“Well that buggers up my pressie then” snarled Spike, tossing the bag to the ground. Xander picked it up and opened it, smirking as he saw it was a copy of Stephen Hawking's “A Brief History of Time.” Yeah, that would appeal to Spike as a gift – part sharing of knowledge, part snarky stab at the Oracles and their predeliction for messing with time.

“Errr, yeah, sorry – I'm not sure what sort of tribute we were supposed to bring” said Angel.

“Tribute is not required. You have brought our Seer?” Stepping forward, although he wasn't sure why since he wasn't talking to anyone but was standing in front of the equivalent of a little campfre, Xander cleared his throat nervously.

“I'm here. The eye – it was from you then?”

“Yes. We wanted to thank you for your dedication to fighting for good – it cost you much but you continued to do so. And as our Seer, we want your vision to be as clear as it can be.”

“Well thanks – for the eye. And for Spike. I er, I brought this for the Oracles, but I guess you can have it.” He moved towards the bonfire, rummaging through his jacket pocket before pulling out and placing a small carving by the side of the flames. “It's not much, but it was the first thing I carved after I lost my eye.”

“It is a beautiful gift you have given us. We thank you for your tribute, Seer.”

“Enough with the thank yous! So what does this being a Seer thing mean for Xander? And what's with all this claiming stuff? I thought you wanted us working for good, but you've made it so that I'm running a friggin vampire court!!.”

“Be at ease William. You are on the right path. You are the right mate for Xander who will be your family through the years ahead, keeping you focused on what you are fighting for. You are not like our other Champion – you are not fighting for redemption, or the chance to be human. You fight for those you love.” Appeased, Spike nodded, taking Xander into his arms and stepping back. “We must warn you all – a battle is coming where sides must be chosen. Build your court well and keep your family close. You will need them in the future.”

“When in the future? Don't go back to being cryptic on us now!” Angel exclaimed.

“Your time means little to us. It could be soon or it could be well into the future. Simply do as we suggest and all will be well.” Before any of them had a chance to say anymore or ask anymore, an invisible force knocked them backwards and they found themselves back in the station on the other side of the turnstile.

“So where do we go to see these Oracles?” Willow asked, stepping through the turnstile ahead of Giles.

“Bloody hell, Red, we've already been and come back!!”

“What? But I wanted the opportunity to speak to them – ask them about some of the prophecies we are just unravelling at the new council” Giles protested.

“G-man, somehow I don't think you would have found them much help,” Xander said, grabbing Spike by the hand and tugging him back the way they had come. Giles, Willow and Angel hurried to catch up with them.

“What's the hurry Xander?”

“The hurry is Spike promised to show me the sights and so far all I've seen is the Watcher House and the inside of the Court. I want to go sight-seeing and spend some quality time with my vampire – building a court can wait” he replied over his shoulder, pulling a smiling, agreeing Spike in his wake.

“'Sides, me and the Whelp have some catching up to do – we've done a lot of sleeping together but not much else.”

“Thank you Spike, I really didn't need to hear that”, Giles retorted, blushing slightly while Willow giggled. Angel trailed behind them, deep in thought. Giles turned to him, and asked “Are you alright Angel?”

“What? Oh yes – I think I need to catch up with Buffy, try to sort things out between us. The Conduit warned us that a battle was coming, and choices would need to be made. I think she and I need to clear the air before anything like that happens.”

“Yes, right, that would make some sense.” Giles stopped in his tracks, blocking Angel's move. “Angel, I wanted to apologise. If the strain between Buffy and yourself is due to how I explained the ritual, I am truly sorry.”

“Look, Rupert, I know you weren't happy to find out that Buffy and I had gone through the Claiming Ceremony without speaking to you about it – that was her decision to make. But I would really appreciate it if you would let me discuss any future vampire lore with her. Half of the problem at the moment is that she won't let me explain how or why the ritual had to take place. Your Watcher's diaries are filled with half truths and supposition and it's dangerous.” Giles nodded, accepting Angel's anger.

“I can appreciate that, and I understand that I am no longer Buffy's Watcher – we are well past that stage. However, I would still have hesitated if she had told me what she wanted to do. Above all else, she is the Slayer and she needs to ensure that her senses are not dulled or compromised.” Angel nodded back curtly. They understood each other then. “With all that being said, I believe she was going towards Finsbury Park – that's where she goes when she needs to think.” Smiling quickly in gratitude, Angel turned and sped off in that direction, knowing it would be faster for him to run there than catch two underground trains.

Sighing, Giles turned to catch up with Willow and they followed Spike and Xander. He was eager to speak to Xander and Spike about the Oracles and find out what they had said, but he knew he needed to get hold of them before they got too involved in their plans for the evening. There was still much to do to sort out the vampire court, and figure out how they were all going to work together to handle Xander's visions to waste too much time. And frankly, he didn't want to witness Spike and Xander as they went through their honeymoon phase...

14 Epilogue

"You wanna know what I see? I see that if a certain vampire doesn't get his sexy ass out of the shower now, he won't deal with that Sn'rgal infestation in time to clean off any slime he gets hit with before we're due over at the House, which means he certainly won't be getting any hot consort sex!" Moaning and laughing, Spike reluctantly stopped groping Xander's shower slick body and stepped out of the cubicle.

"Fine, Pet, if you want to send your vamp off to his possible death without a decent shag, I'll just be grabbing a few minions and going out to risk my life for Queen and Country 'eh." He smirked at the raspberry Xander blew at him from under the water, and grabbed one of the huge fluffy towels to dry himself off. Unlife was good - unlife was better than good.

The Magnificent Pouf and Buffy had finally reconciled after six months of the pair of them brooding and complaining and generally putting a real dampener on his honeymoon with his Claimed. Angel had tried pulling the 'I didn't want to but I had to do it' card but that hadn't worked out too well for him, especially since there were times when it became blatantly obvious that if a replay was offered Angel would be in there like a shot. NOT that there was a chance of a replay - Xander belonged to Spike and Spike only. Giles had tried to explain to Buffy that it was a demonic side-effect, that Angel's demon saw Xander as part of his family, and therefore his property to do with as he wished. That set them back a good few weeks, with Angel doubly pissed at Giles and asking him to please stop helping.

Typically it was Xander who helped sort things out. A vision sent Spike and Angel out into what turned out to be an ambush, and only a second vision made it possible for the Slayer, the Watcher and the Witch to find them. To top it all off, Xander commanded the entire rescue mission from their Court, a new-found ability to 'reach' Buffy through their demonic familial link the deciding factor in everything working out. Being able to feel how Xander felt about Spike had gone some way to removing any underlying jealousy Buffy was struggling to deal with, and she had finally accepted that the ritual had needed to happen to bring them all together the way the Conduit insisted they needed to be. It was unfortunate that that same link enabled Buffy to sense Angel's continued interest in both Spike and Xander, but none of them were miracle workers - she'd have to deal with her insecurities about that herself.

Willow had proven correct inasmuch that Xander didn't suffer with the visions. He was often to be found carving in the courtyard with a notepad and pen by his side, working with the various pieces of wood and writing down the visions as they came to him. He was very popular with the Court, a fact that made Spike's demon growl whilst purring at his mate's ability to charm every one and everything they came into contact with. Many of the minions (once they had proven they were happy to live under the new rules and no longer kill innocents) were the recipients of small carved gifts, and happily escorted Xander on his trips to get supplies, etc when Spike wasn't available. Carson was like a puffed up major domo, running the court as per Spike's instructions (and often purely as he saw fit) and ensuring that his Master William and his Beloved Consort never had to ask for a thing.

The strangest thing to occur since the claiming ceremony and the return of Xander's eye proved to be the relationship Xander had built with the Conduit. To everyone else who was granted access, it appeared as nothing more than a small bonfire in a cave. But since his gift of the first carving he did after losing his eye, Xander had somehow become a favourite of the Conduit. Without making the mistake of assigning human emotions and traits onto the Being, it seemed to make much more of an effort not to be too cryptic when they had to contact it, and each time they went Xander stayed longer and longer, just talking. When Spike asked him why he couldn't just ask his questions then leave, Xander said he thought "they" sounded lonely and a little conversation was a small price to pay for them returning his eye and gifting him with Spike for eternity.

Speaking of eternity, Spike wasn't looking forward to Buffy figuring out that since the claim she had barely aged. He didn't particularly want to be around when she did - the six months of her and Angel's little tiff was bad enough - so he'd asked his boy nicely if he could tune his visions in and see when it was likely to happen that she switched on the dull lightbulb of her brain and worked it out. Xander had told him that he wasn't a TV that could be tuned in to a particular channel, which had led to Spike trying to find Xander's remote control, searching various parts of his body for any responsive 'buttons' and another satisfying day in bed was had by both.

He'd been so busy wool-gathering that he hadn't even started to get dressed by the time Xander strode naked out of the bathroom, a towel rubbing vigorously at his hair. For a moment, Spike was entranced : droplets of water sliding down the strong, tanned body; smooth skin over muscle; lean thighs, strong legs that could wrap around him so tightly sometimes that it was a good thing he didn't need to breathe. And that face. The clear hazel eyes, eyes that could be so full of warmth and compassion, but his absolute favourite was when Xander was looking up at him, eyes hazy with lust and love and need. Pouting red lips that were most often stretched in that fantastically warming smile. Tossing his towel to one side, Spike walked over and pushed Xander over onto the bed, following him down and pressing his wrists to the mattress in a tight hold. No struggles - Xander merely smiled up and him.

"What about the Sn'rgal?"

"Fuck 'em - the minions can deal with it."

"Should I be calling the House and letting them know we won't make it for dinner?" A shimmy and thrust of his hips, his legs spreading to welcome Spike between them and a smirk on his face.

"Nah. They'll suss it out when we don't show up." A hiss and a moan as Spike thrust his hips forwards, hardness rubbing against velvety smooth hardness, wet tip digging into a hip bone as they moved into a familiar yet still exciting rhythm. He released one wrist so he could reach down and take them both in hand, stroking slowly, smoothly, purring as Xander's hand came up to rub over his recently shaved head.

"Love you, Fuzzy-head." Tugged down to a deep kiss, wet, warm, darting tongue and clinging lips. Quickening strokes, panting breaths, quiet moans.

"Love you too, Pet. Looks like I'll get my shag after all."

The laughter coming from the main bedroom echoed in the corridor, and Carson smiled, gestured one of the minions over to pass on the details of the vision, and moved off to call Master Angelus, the Witch, the Slayer and the Watcher to let them know that Master William and his Seer would not be making it over there for dinner. Again.

The End

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