Warnings: Will appear on chapters if needed – some M/M relations
Summary: Spike survived the Black Thorn but only because one of the Senior Partners had heard Illyria refer to him as suitable for her pet and decided to amuse themselves with devastating results
Part 1 , Part 2
OOps that's what happens when you post at 2am - the real part 2 is up - sorry for the confusion and thank you to all who gave FB for this chapter!
As was expected, Claire’s mother was less than impressed with the introduction of an animal to the household – and a large, *injured* dog no less.
Spike had been settled outside on an old army blanket, just to the right of the back door, and did his best to look as docile, friendly and pathetic as he could as Claire’s mother eyed him with a mixture of disdain and annoyance. So when Claire pushed past her mother and knelt down beside him he licked her offered hand (belatedly realizing she had smuggled a little salt in her palm), wagging his tail and in the process thumping the ground with the appendage.
Claire won the day, but her mother was insistent, “His food is to come out of your wages from the chemist; you are to clean up his ‘doings’; and this is *only* until he is healed or two weeks whichever comes first, then you are to take him back to the shelter. And there is *no* renegotiating, understand?” Claire nodded. She had known it was a long shot just bringing ‘Leo’ home, so was quite relieved.
Their backyard, such as it was, comprised a tiny patio area, a pull out clothes line, two potted plants (one lemon and one cumquat) and a small patch of grass – total area around five meters by six meters. But for Spike it was just perfect.
He slept almost all of the first four days and nights, occasionally getting up to stretch and pad around the yard a little, careful always to use the one rather bald piece of dirt in the far left corner for his toileting. Claire was attentive when there, never failing to fill his water bowl or bring him a treat. Raw mince was his favorite, though the crunch of the occasional hard dog biscuit was fast becoming a favourite.
On the third afternoon Karen came to visit, the two girls walked Spike up to the clinic again.
This time the visit was a quick one, the veterinary nurse checked his near healed paw pads and the stitches which would likely be healed by a week or so hence. There was no need to report back unless he was going up for adoption – which Claire sadly reported, was very likely.
Over the course of the next week Claire’s mother warmed to the quiet canine in her backyard. His hair on the bald wound patches had begun to grow back, and the strikingly unusual blue eyes with their long black lashes looked at her with what she could only interpret as friendly interest. On Sunday morning, her only day off, Peggy sat outside in her favorite old robe at the small table reading the paper and drinking a freshly brewed coffee. Spike ventured over and when not told to leave, settled beside her chair and simply shared the moment of relaxation and enjoying the morning sun.
An hour or so later Claire stood silently at the door and watched her mother lean down and begin stroke ‘Leo’, and was privy to the one way conversation.
“I’m really sorry we can’t keep you, I really am, but you can’t live inside and you deserve a bigger space to run in and better company than we can give you. Somewhere with lots of kids, I’m sure you’d be great with kids.” Spike leaned into the stroking hand.
Eventually Peggy sighed and stood, picked up her coffee cup and paper and headed inside. Claire was still at the back door, and gave her mother an understanding smile and said a quiet, “Thanks for letting Leo...”
Peggy just patted her daughter on the arm. “He’s still got five more days here, that’s something.”
Spike knew he would have to escape somehow in four days’ time, the adoption cages were too much like the Initiative, and in that same moment he decided that he would make the most of the time he had in comfort.
The following days he slept as much as possible while everyone was out; ate with relish and licked the bowl until it shone; leaned gratefully into the hands that petted him; and tried to convey his thanks. Karen came every day and Peggy bought him a lovely T-bone steak on the second last night then filled his water bowl with milk and dropped a raw egg in the middle – claiming that it would cause his coat to shine more, making adoption more likely. Later in the evening, Claire silently, sadly, brushed him with her own hair brush as they sat outside together.
Karen arrived at Claire’s house the following day far earlier than she normally did before school, early enough to catch Peggy before work.
“Hi Mrs Kuchanski, Claire… I um… I think I’ve found a home for Leo.”
In unison the two Kuchanski women said, “That’s so great! Where?”
“Dad’s got a mate who works as a trucker and wouldn’t mind the company. He said he could take him on Saturday when he heads through to Salt Lake City. Dad said he has always had dogs, so it sounds pretty good. Do you think?”
“Well it gives us one more day and at least we get to say goodbye properly.”
Spike could hear the conversation, and much as he liked the idea of *not* being kenneled, and of ‘travel’, he wasn’t so sure of the ‘trucker’s mutt’ scenario.
He was walked daily, groomed and pampered in every way by all three women until Saturday at ten in the morning, when Jock Burbage rolled up in front of the house in his twenty-two wheel Mac truck to check out the dog. He had his doubts but the German shepherd-Husky cross was big enough to be useful and seemed obedient, time would tell.
Jock was a balding, very generously proportioned man wearing old blue jeans that rested under his stomach and seemed to require a lot of hitching up. He had a rather off-white wife beater with the trucking company’s dark blue shirt over the top and wore an aging Yankees baseball cap. Jock’s hands smelt of oil, cigarettes and whatever else he had been loading/touching that morning. His pat was rough and without the loving touch Spike had so quickly become accustomed to.
Jock shook Peggy’s hand and nodded to the girls.
“Right well, he looks a might mangy but your dad told me he’d been injured. He get a clean bill of health?”
Karen piped up, “Oh yes… he’s had all his shots and everything. The vet said he’s fine. And he’s really friendly and well behaved.”
“Hmmpf… Hope not too friendly, need a guard dog for the truck as well as travel companion.”
“Well he looks kind of big and mean?” Claire offered.
Jock leaned against the back wall of the house, lit a cigarette and stared at the dog which was now pacing rather nervously around the back yard.
Spike was on edge, he had to choose this or the adoption pens. He decided on the ‘bird in the hand’, and upped the anti by growling viciously at an imaginary foe behind the cumquat, his ears flattening as he snarled for several seconds.
Peggy was a little shocked, “Gosh, he’s never done that before!”
Jock took one more long drag of his cigarette and flicked it toward the back fence, “Well seems he might work out after all. So… if you all say your goodbyes, time I hit the road – already a half hour behind ‘cause of the detour here.”
Spike rubbed lovingly against each of the women – accepting hugs and trying to convey his heartfelt thanks and sadness at having to leave. But then it seemed to have happened that way all through his very long existence. Just as something was right in his life… it all disappeared, or was ripped away, or he cocked it up somehow… Why should being a dog alter that?
He was glad to see a large bag containing dog biscuits, two huge bones and a quantity of meat being handed over, and accepted the rough rope with slipknot as it slid over his ears and stopped around his neck. It doubled as a leash but was hardly necessary. He had ‘said’ his goodbyes and jumped up into the truck’s cabin with relative ease.
The rope stayed even though Spike waited patiently for his new ‘owner’ to hoist himself up into the driver’s seat and wedge his belly just under the steering wheel. As soon as settled, Jock pointed to the floor of the passenger side, “Down! You gotta *earn* the right to git up here with me, mutt.”
Spike got down as demanded into the rather dark, though spacious, area and curled up. He just knew he would get motion sickness if he couldn’t see, but tried to imagine he was still a vampire and was in the boot of a car for sun protection. In the end he dozed off to the hum of the engine.
Several hours (and a few too many country tunes and cigarettes) later, the truck stopped. His door opened and he was ordered out, tied to a half ring on the front of the bumper bar and told to “Mind the truck – anyone comes near you do that growl thing, got it… and if that don’t work, feel free to bite the bastards.” And with that, Jock headed into the diner.
The cabin had been air conditioned, but now he was tied up in full sun on a stiflingly hot afternoon. He tried to take some shade from the truck itself but the lead only managed to let him get half way under. He chose to let each end of him take turns at staying a little cool but really all he wanted was a drink of water. Hunger be damned – it would probably just result in him being sick in his cramped travel compartment, but thirst was becoming critical.
Jock took his time, and the sun shifted a little until Spike was able to angle his whole body into the shade but he was still panting profusely.
One of the young pump attendants must have noticed his distress, because just as he though he might pass out, a plastic container of lukewarm water was pushed near enough for him to reach. He blinked grateful blue eyes at the lad and was rewarded with a quick scratch between the ears. By the time Jock came out replete with food but minutes later, the water was gone.
Fortunately for Spike another truckie wandered over to chat to Jock and got a little too close to “Candice” (apparently Jock’s truck was female?) and Spike had his first chance to prove he should be sitting up on the seat in the cabin looking out. He growled and bared his teeth at the man, only to get a sharp smack on the muzzle from Jock for his trouble.
“Sorry Larry, mutt’s new, got ‘im today. One of them ‘rescued’ jobs, don’t know ‘is place yet.”
Minutes later the disgraced ex-vampire was again on the floor with nothing more to think about than how he had got it all so wrong. Even with Angelus at his most erratic, at least vampire rules were clear, and punishment or reward fairly evenly metered out.
By the time they reached Salt Lake City, he had been fed once – two dog biscuits and a chunk of raw meat the size of a fist; watered twice; allowed to ‘do his business’ a couple of times; and hit or kicked for a variety of misdemeanors so minor that he was beginning to cringe away every time Jock even approached him. The worst was the first night when, after a few beers, Jock decided to ‘train’ his new pooch to be ‘tougher’.
Spike was humiliated, demeaned and despite trying his hardest, given a hiding, then tied up outside with little protection from the rather cold with that whistled between the truck’s underbelly and the ground he lay on.
The load was dropped off in Salt Lake and another taken on – this time the destination was Portland (with two deliveries in between) and from there they headed for Seattle. Apparently this was Jock’s regular run, but by Seattle, Spike had had enough.
His fur was back and his injuries healed but the constant whacks and minimal food was too much. The night before they were due to do the reverse trip, he spent several hours chewing at his leash, eventually biting through the rope and disappearing into the night.