rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,
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The Stray # 4

Title: The Stray
Pairing: S/X
Rating: NC/17
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 , Part 3



PART 4

In all his travels, Spike had never been to Seattle, until the boom of Boeing and Microsoft and all the spin-off industries, it had really been of little significance in America, other than as a port.

Jock’s truck had stopped somewhere east of the main city to do their delivery, late afternoon.

Spike was pulled from the truck as usual and tied to the ring at the front, while Jock and a number of other men used a fork lift and trolleys to unload… Spike could care less. He read ‘Bellevue’ on a few signs around and decided if he could determine which way was ‘up’ from here, he’d take it.

An hour or so later, approaching dusk, they were finished.

Spike knew better than to hesitate when he was untied and ordered into the cabin. The pick up was in the morning, so the truck was parked outside a rather stingy hotel by an industrial estate somewhere in the area close to the depot. Spike had listened carefully to Jock on his mobile as he repeated directions to their destination then caught a long look at the rather tatty map Jock tossed to the ground in frustration as he tried to find the correct route to his hotel for the evening.

They were to stop somewhere in a place called Everett, further north of Seattle city than they had been, Spike knew that much, and tried desperately to memorize the names of the towns or suburbs… whatever to the north of that.

Spike knew Jock was heading back south after the pickup, and had tied him up for the evening then gone for a beer and food. Before he left, he had the sense to fling a few dollars at the son of the hotel owner, and told him to “Give the mutt some water and fling him some dinner scraps if you think of it.”

The boy did as he was told and more, and Spike was given not only tasty meat scraps but rice and some vegetable leftovers all smothered in the remainders of the evening’s gravy. It was a wonderfully sumptuous repast compared to his usual fare. He thanked the boy by wagging his tail and pressing his nose into the boy’s hand. And not long after Jock returned and retired to his room, his escape was made.

Without the sun to guide him he sought out Highway No. 5 and keeping it as much as possible within sight by traveling on parallel roads. Initially it was on his right and he ensured the signs indicated Marysville, then crossed under the highway to head for Stanwood, then Conway. By morning he had traveled nearly thirty two kilometers but still felt relatively fresh as the sun lit the sky in the south east. He would be ever thankful that he had at least retained the ability to read!

Jock would only now be awake and realize ‘the mutt’ was gone. Spike hoped his next dog was a pit bull prepared to bite the hand that occasionally fed him – or better still a Hell Hound… He wondered idly, as he trotted along, if Jock had ever thought of doing a delivery run to Cleveland, they had a nice healthy Hellmouth where he could find himself a mighty ‘attentive’ canine. How the ex vampire wished he still had his true bite, he’d turn the bastard as the lowest minion and give him to the Master of Mexico City to play with.

Spike amused himself for a good hour or two with various revenge scenarios – none of which were practical – but still, it didn’t hurt to dream.

Mount Vernon was a much bigger centre than the ones he had passed through for a few hours, and in daylight, with no owner and no collar – bar for the chewed through rope, which he belatedly realized was still around his neck – he would be seen as a stray if caught. As a consequence he did as he had done in LA and for most of his 140 or so years as a vampire, he kept to the shadows and backstreets, trusting his sense of direction until able to think of something else. He still had no clear idea of where he was going *to*, just that he felt the need to keep moving.

He had successfully navigated through the back streets for a time but needed to re-orientate himself, so headed for the main road again, this time using the sun to the south to navigate. He had just rounded the corner when he realized he was walking past a small local shopping precinct and was suddenly on full alert. He glanced sideways longingly as he passed each of the food shops and was very tempted to pick up the half eaten bagel from the edge of sidewalk, but resisted as it would draw notice to him. It was then he spotted her.

A very young, pretty cocker spaniel was tied up outside the drug store whimpering and occasionally barking pitifully, her owner obviously inside the shop. Spike recognized the sense of abandonment, be it permanent or very temporary, and could not help himself.

He moved cautiously toward her and though she looked decidedly afraid for a moment, he nuzzled her gently and she lay down in a submissive pose calming a little. She could only have been three months old by his reckoning, and Spike’s natural protective nature kicked in with a vengeance. He settled down beside her and made sure she could feel his soft fur, his breathing and heart beat. He may have been dusty and thirsty and hungry, but for now as the little pup snuggled into him and relaxed, he felt strangely happy to be able to do something for a fellow creature.

Her owner was amazed to see a large shepherd/husky cross lying beside her new pet, and did not fail to notice that ‘Bella’ was calm and almost asleep, rather than in distress as she had been for the first few minutes of separation from her owner (her cries audible from inside the shop).

Spike looked up and was ready to bolt but a kind hand reached out – again he sniffed it dutifully before the hand began to scratch behind his ears.

“Now who are you, you lovely thing?” Brenda was a rather portly woman in her mid forties, and had a soft spot for all animals. She didn’t fail to notice signs of neglect and abuse. The thinner than normal frame, the chewed through rope and missing fur and chafe marks around the neck as she gently tugged it loose then removed it completely, and the flinch of pain as she ran her hand over the dog’s thickly furred flank.

Little Bella stirred stood, yawned then wagged her tail rather awkwardly.

“Well, I really can’t take you home for good, but Bella and I can certainly give you a big thank you from us, can’t we Bella.” She petted the pretty spaniel’s soft fur, untied the lead and indicated to Spike to follow, “Come on, we’re just around the corner.”

Though he still felt the need to put more distance between himself and bad memories, he knew offers like this did not come along often for a dog like him and for the second time since his change, Spike was taken in for the night by a kindly soul who washed and fed him. He snoozed the afternoon away on the front patio of Brenda’s tiny apartment with Bella happily resting with him while Brenda worked on her computer inside, but as dusk approached had knew he had to make a move.

He rose and pawed at the glass door that had been closed as the cool of the late afternoon chilled Bella’s owner who was working on her laptop at the small dining table. Both dogs were invited in and Bella padded along beside her big companion happily. Spike wished he could stay but knew it was not to be so made his way to the front door and indicated he needed to get out.

“OK sweetie, I know you can’t stay, but you be safe…”

Spike wagged his tail a little then leaned down and licked Bella as he let a near subsonic rumble calm her. Brenda picked up her little charge as Spike turned and took to the road once more – this time looking back just once to see the two still standing at the door watching him leave.

Spike had a plan and this time found the railway yards, padding along the security fence until he found a hole big enough to squeeze through. He had traveled the trains many times before – with and without tickets but this time had to be careful to find a carriage that was open enough to escape from but complex enough to hide in. Many of the carriages on the goods train that he could see must have been heading north, were simply a tray with a shipping container on it or completely covered and secure, but there were some with logs and another three with new cars. He chose to use one of the vehicle carriages and hid behind the left wheel of a new Jeep Cherokee ® destined for Canada.

The whole long train began to move at around eight that evening. It stopped at Bellingham briefly but then continued on. The inspection at the border was cursory – though there were torches and customs officials who looked in and around the carriage Spike had chosen to take refuge in. He had been cautious and jumped down to hide near the train’s wheels as the inspection passed then returned to his spot. In the space of an hour or so they were pulling up near the Vancouver inland dock, and a relieved Spike alighted.

The night was still young, but he decided rest was a better idea – as he really did not know where he wanted to go. As a dog, it was easy to go unnoticed on the docks. But there was very little to eat and he had a rock thrown at him more than once as he approached some of the workers in the yards.

Vancouver was a confusing city with too many choices. He desperately needed to see a map, develop a decent plan, and somehow find a purpose... for all this. So far he had just been running, just as he and Dru had after China, but then his purpose had been to keep her safe, and much of the running was to do with war, her whimsy, fear of being set upon, or for the sheer excitement of it all. Dru was as dotty as they came, but at least they had been together. Even Sunnydale had ended up somewhat bearable just before his martyrdom, indeed so had LA… sort of. Now… ?

Spike had not been concentrating on where he was going and ended up outside a hotel where a group of humans were getting onto a tour coach that had ‘Discover Holidays’ written on the side. He watched and listened as the group discussed their itinerary but in the end made a snap decision and while the driver was distracted helping the passengers aboard, he dove for the last remaining open luggage door and buried himself amongst the suitcases, packs and bags.

The first part of the trip wasn’t so bad, and the compartment relatively warm, he even managed to muffle the roar of the diesel engine by tucking his head between two relatively soft duffle bags. Then they began to climb a little, though the road was relatively straight, he knew that. Eventually he slept in defense as his growing thirst and hunger gnawed at him. The bus stopped for a break – apparently the group visiting a salmon gate and restaurant. The luggage doors remained closed and Spike tried to count his blessings, at least the noise stopped for a time.

The next section was still bearable but as the day wore on the road began to wind more and Spike’s stomach lurched, though there was nothing to be sick with. His tongue was hanging out and he put up with the noise in preference to panting through the nausea, though that made him feel even more dehydrated.

After three more sightseeing stops, Spike had all but lost consciousness so when the bus stopped for the evening and the doors to the luggage compartment were opened he hardly registered that he had not only been spotted but that the shock of his discovery swiftly turned to concern then action.

He felt the bags around him shift away, a slip chain push over his ears to rest around his neck as two sets of strong hands encouraged him to stand, then pushed him gently into the cage. He didn’t fight, merely staggered forward and flopped onto the base of his temporary prison.

He was aware enough to read ‘BCSPCA – Kamloops’ on the front of the jacket of the rescue officer as his cage was loaded for travel.

Two days later he had been fed and watered, washed and checked over by a vet. Just like in LA, his quiet nature and intelligence was noticed immediately and despite his recent ordeals, he was in relatively good condition, though very thin and rather worryingly quiet.

Spike was not just quiet, he was utterly listless and depressed. There was nothing for it now but to hope that someone might take a shine to him and pay the CA$200 to purchase a full grown dog of undetermined age – if only they knew! The alternative was the oblivion bringing needle in a month, which now, for Spike, was looking more and more inviting.

He watched over the next two weeks, as a litter of tabby kittens, two cute as a button black Labrador/something crosses, and a small very arrogant fully grown Shiatsu were adopted. The kittens made him think of Clem and kitten poker… and in the coming days as the hours dragged, he tried to recall in minute detail as much of his long life as he could. He was walked twice a day by one of the sweet volunteers, Tracy, who had the charming habit of chatting to him about her girlfriends, boys she liked, school, and all manner of other things. So much so, that Spike could have sworn he was walking along with the girl in human form as he had with Dawn years ago.

But then he was returned to his cage, fed and watered… and waited. In ten days time he would not have to wait for anything anymore.

The following afternoon he had his back to the ‘viewing end’ of the cage. It was mid afternoon and he knew there were a couple of males visiting the adoption room with an intent to purchase a dog to replace a recently deceased companion.

The two walked along the row. There were only four dogs in at the current time of which Spike was one, but the other three were younger and certainly livelier at the current moment. He listened to the conversation.

A rather booming baritone was accompanied what heard like a slap on the back, “So? Don’t worry if it’s not the same type of dog – these guys need a chance just like your Mace did – and if it hadn’t been for that bloody tumor, he would have gone on for years! And stop beating yourself up over it – vet said he was in terrible pain – geez even I could see that. You did the right thing Xan… Now the best thing to do is get back on the horse so to speak ayy?”

Spike’s heart skipped a beat when he heard the name but then felt stupid, there was no way it was the Scoobie from Sunnydale, and even if it was, there was no way he could think of how he might convey who he was… and even if he did, that might simply mean rejection yet again. But he couldn’t help but take a look and that meant standing, shaking himself and turning in the small cage.

The large man was wearing a thick corduroy jacket, blue jeans and work boots on, and as soon as he saw the pretty blue eye and rather striking markings, thick coat and all over attractive features, he let out an impressed whistle. “Come on Xan! At least squat down and have a look. If you like him I’ll give you half what you need to pay – think of it as an early Christmas present.”

Xander squatted down as requested and Spike almost fainted. Xander Harris, ex Scoobie, now sporting goatee beard and longer curly hair, and a sheepskin lined jacket… but it was definitely him. And now Spike felt *utterly* hopeless. There was nothing he could do to convey who he was, but to lick the fingers that were poked into the cage then rub his muzzle against the bars as he would Xander’s leg given the chance. He leveled his crystal blue eyes to Xander’s brown, trying to *will* him to see the truth.

But then the figure stood and turned to go, “I don’t know Jerry… I mean he’s a nice looking dog and all… and obviously pretty friendly… but… Maybe it’s just too soon after Mace you know?”

“OK buddy, ‘s OK… Just thought it was an alright idea and since we were passing… Anyways, let’s go find the hotel eyy.”

Spike curled up in a small ball and did a pretty good impression of a dog crying. His only hope, the whelp, the Zeppo, his jailer for a time, and in the end friend,,, was not going to be his rescuer.

He had just about completely given in to the notion that there were nine days to go before he could say good bye to his current form and the world generally. At least it would be painless, a lethal injection of anesthetic then eternal sleep. Better than burning up, or being staked… at least there would be some remains to throw in the furnace post mortem – had to be happy about that. Every other time there had been nothing to show for it.

He began to muse as to where his soul would go… he knew it was still there. But surely it was still a human soul? Lord knows he did not want to end up in doggy heaven with all that *barking*.

The viewing session was exceptionally quiet on the next day, a Wednesday, and Spike did as he had decided to do for the rest of his stay – facing the wall instead of the prospective adopters. Toward closing, Spike was snoozing, so jumped a little as the cage door opened. It was around walk time – he just must have overslept. The supposition was supported by the fact that a lead had been attached to the ring on his collar – along with another tag.

The young dog walker was very sad to see her charge go but knew it was for the best. The darker man did seem nice, “Paper work is all done… Thanks so much for your support.”

A very puzzled Spike was led out to a double cabin pickup with tool trailer attached. He assumed he would be outside in the tray for the ride to wherever they were going, but instead Spike got the entire back seat to himself. He wondered whether Xander knew Jerry had bought him, but then noticed no Xander and his heart sank again. Still he was at least out of that place.

Jerry started the truck and drove up the street. Spike wondered if the way he had acted toward Xander put him off.

Then the vehicle stopped and a brunette hefted himself into the truck.

“D’ya think he’ll be ok in the back all the way to Calgary?

“Looks pretty happy I reckon”

Xander gave a definite grin and reached over to stroke Spike. “Yeah,… Home Jeeves! And don’t spare the horses”

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