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 , Part 5 , Part 6 , Part 7
Xander’s wardrobe was easy enough to access since it was not quite closed. Inside it was IKEA™ neat and not a sign of the garish clothes of a decade before. On one side was a large set of built in drawers and half hanging space, and the other was a full length space with suits and a couple of great coats, scarves etc with shoes placed in pairs underneath. Spike contemplated re-pairing them all then closing the door to let Xander worry, but decided to leave that for another day. It was then he spied a smallish chest – obviously Xander made – in the back right hand corner. Spike tugged it by the brass handle and was very pleased when it came easily, though knocked two pairs of shoes aside as he tugged it out into the room.
The latch was up, so he pushed hard at the lid with his nose and managed to flip it open. And now wasn’t this a surprise. Harris either had a serious kink, or was simply adventurous. Various lovely toys for boys plus lube, chocolate paint (already open) and a few ‘accessories’ were inside, nothing too extreme – just interesting. Lined cuffs, silk rope, one glass and one latex dildo, vibrator or two, very simple gag and a set of anal beads (in an unopened packet) were all in there. Spike was tempted to leave the items strewn on the floor but in the end packed them away and decided to look through Harris’s CD collection in the lounge room.
He found four albums of dismally soppy love songs, a number of dance music (rave variety) CDs, some classic rock albums, a few musicals and ‘French Conversation’ I, II and III. Spike decided then and there that if he *ever* got back to human form it would be his mission to instruct the whelp in *real* French language – of the Parisian variety along with a good smattering of culture and some decent French porn just to round out his education. In the end he left the tall stack alone and went to lie on the old couch. It was silent in the house but for the aerator in the large fish tank built into the wall between the hallway and the lounge.
With all quiet inside the house now, he pricked his ears as he heard a motor bike rev and turn the corner nearest their home, and registered at least three cars drive past around five thirty. Small children next door could be heard playing in their yard (neighbors on the right) and the sound of a radio and whistling from the neighbors on the left.
Half snoozing, Spike finally heard a car pull into the driveway around 6.45pm and literally bounded off the settee and sat by the front door, letting go his ‘human/vampire’ thoughts for a moment and switching to excited canine companion. He stood and sat, and stood and sat, and just could not seem to control his tail which alternately almost knocked over the occasional table in the hall or hit then thumped the floor with vigor, depending on his position.
Finally the key was in the door and Xander, carrying all that he had taken with him that morning and more pushed his way into the house, almost tripping over his excited new pet. “Hey! Steady on!! Give us a chance to put this lot down would you! Geez!!!!”
Spike backed off and lay down in supplication… but he *had* waited *all* day! He whined a very high pitched begging noise and blinked as though almost in tears. Xander threw his work things in the study then came back to his now rather upset looking welcoming party and squatted down in front of the dog.
“Geez Spike… Look… I missed you too, but I needed to put things down so we could have a proper welcome, OK? So come on buddy, come here and let me give you a good ruffling of the fur.” And with that Xander tipped to a kneel and began scratching and petting and definitely ruffling… Spike gave up all pretext of big bad vampire and ended up a panting excited mess of a dog.
Eventually Xander’s knees were becoming tender so he stood up and wandered to the back door, opening it again for his furred friend with a “Figure you might need it”, then retreated to the study to sort out a few things. Spike did need ‘the facilities’ and relieved himself then sniffed about a bit in the late dusk of the evening.
Upon going inside he spotted Xander sitting in the lounge, jacket off and a folder of papers open on the coffee table in front of him He had his head in his hands just looking tired. Spike didn’t bother entering the room – simply went to the fridge and grabbed a beer, taking it to his… Xander, and placing it carefully on the table. He sat quietly for a while then shuffled closer and pushed his head between the arms and the strong thigh, eventually resting a furry chin on the suited leg.
Xander stayed in the same position for a while, but gradually sat up and took the beer, stroking his fast becoming treasured companion between the ears, tugging on the one closest gently, and whispered “Thanks buddy… Not gonna share today?” And strangely Spike, who had not really even thought about himself with the move for the bottle, felt quite moved. He lifted up a little and put his paw on Xander’s thigh for a moment and looked into the chocolate brown eye with his azure blue pair, willing Xander to see his gratitude. He then turned and fetched another beer then his bowl.
Xander poured a half into Spike’s bowl and watched quietly as the dog lapped with relish for a few moments but stopped – just like a friend at a pub might when preparing for a relax and a talk. Xander flicked on the sound system, quietly playing rather unusual music by ‘VAST’ and began by also taking a swig of his beer and sighing heavily, then addressed the dog.
“Sorry buddy, just had a hard day… You wouldn’t understand… Couple of things went wrong on site… I mean it wasn’t that bad, just a delivery didn’t come and the guys were a bit antsy ‘cause I asked them to change tasks at the last minute. Then we had a thing with the new apprentice Chris. The guys have decided he’s gay and… Ahhh geez Spike, don’t know why I’m telling you this.” Spike simply blinked and waited, accepting the stroking over his ears for what it was, a comfort for Xander rather than an attempt to pleasure his dog.
“Chris probably is gay… but how that could possibly be anyone else’s business, I’ll never know… besides he’s just a baby when it comes to any matters of the heart – he’s only nineteen! I had to say something to Jerry, but if we move him out of the general crew, he’ll be compromised on his work placement and experience. Jerry advised talking to Chris and encourage him endure until the week after next, but also have him document the incidents as they happen – to get a feel for the severity and how to deal with the taunting…” Spike rubbed his downy soft cheek against Xander’s leg then jumped up onto the couch and placed his head in Xander’s lap as his owner took the last swig of his beer in hand then reached for the second and held it without twisting off the lid.
“Could have been me though Spike… don’t you see… I am the one who should have been getting all the taunts. Demon magnet, charity case, ex-vengeance demon’s whipped boy, closet gay hankering after some blonde menace tied up in my basement (and doesn’t that sound wrong now on so many levels). Ghod Spike I remember the first time, I was just back from Africa and kind of getting back on my feet with a construction company in Portland… It was with an older guy, Mark, and I was so scared and he was… just so wonderful… and it felt like I had found myself in that moment, but then reality hit. I could never really tell anyone except for a few of my most trusted friends, and even then would have to choose carefully.
“Two weeks later, Mark announced he had a ‘regular friend’ and had really just wanted to open my eyes to who I really was. I mean, he was nice about it and even introduced me to a bunch of his friends, but I still felt… you know, like Zeppo Xander again, with a bit more dress sense and a hankering for the male form to partner with… Ahhh Spike… what I’ve found out since then… I really don’t want sex without love… I want companionship, friendship and… You know I wish you were human, or at least the blonde menace of a vampire… I *really* do. I think we’d make a fine pair.”
He continued to stroke Spike gently and lay his head back, sinking into the couch and closing his good eye. Consequently he missed the slight shift in the magical signature of Spike and associated momentary flash of light over his ex-vampire, dog shaped friend. But… Spike felt it and wondered at the reason for the jolt through the fabric of the magical world.
Shortly after, Xander groaned and pushed himself up, “C’mon buddy – Salmon steaks and pasta for tonight… Figure you would like a bit of fish for a change… Stella at work even brought in some fresh lemons for everyone to take if they wanted them… So…”
Xander made his way to the kitchen with Spike close at heel. The dinner was prepared quickly. Water was boiled, Italian tomato sauce (basil, oregano, garlic and tomatoes) ‘nuked’, and pasta cooked, as both sides of the thick salmon pieces were seared and lightly cooked in butter with a hint of dill and pepper. Spike looked on with more than a little curiosity. He had not eaten fish since he was human and honestly could not really remember the flavor.
Xander served up and this time put Spike’s bowl right beside his own chair, Spike somewhat relieved that the human had thought better of leaving it on the table. Much as sitting there would have been nice, balancing on a normal kitchen chair and eating in that position would have been, sadly, very awkward at best in his current state. Instead he finished his meal quickly and sat patiently while Xander finished his, offering Spike the very last piece of salmon from the human’s plate. He ate it with relish – fish or at least salmon – was quite delicious.
Dinner over and kitchen tidied, Xander did a little more work then sat watching television for a time, Spike invited to lie on a rug on the couch beside him. There was certainly a thrill in that. Bedtime was earlier than the previous night, and the daily pattern was repeated with the exception of Thursday when the run was replaced by a workout in the gym due to early morning rain (and later that day Spike had taken advantage of his ability to leap side fences in a single bound, availing himself of a walk in the park).
By Saturday morning Spike was itching for a whole day of company. Sure it had been fun flying solo during the week, snooping, reading, television, lazing in the backyard… but the activities were really only a fill in until Xander came home. He had read through most of Dawn, Willow and Giles’ letters Xander had kept in the box – abandoning the idea of trying to get the rubber bands back around the cards and letters and satisfying himself with simply placing them all back in the box.
He learned that Buffy was still in Italy and still with the Immortal as she had been when he and Angel… despite it seeming a lifetime ago he still growled regards the Immortal then grieved for his Sire and all that had happened. He knew Dawn was in England at Willow’s coven and that Giles was a regular visitor. He also knew now that Willow had returned from South America recently having had an amicable spilt with Kennedy who had apparently ‘moved on’ to a fellow slayer less than a month after Willow’s leaving the country. He also learned from Willow’s letter that she had every intention of visiting Xander over the coming Christmas.
Spike had pondered that information all week. He had to have Xander realize his predicament before the witch arrived. She was the strongest witch on the planet – with all the ‘right’ connections (and the wrong ones if she went off the rails again) and perhaps his only hope of changing back. There was time… And he had to question his own thinking… Spending June to December in dog form was a long time – but it had already been two months or so. His worry was how easily his canine instincts seemed to kick in lately… He resolved to increase his reading and try to stay on top of the ‘human world’ intellectually.
Despite his contemplations and after all the private worry, Saturday was a joy! He literally bounced along as they went for the later morning run in bright morning sunlight – the smells of summer filling the air and the babble of the clear water coursing beside the running track making the whole experience just right.
Once again Spike was let loose from his lead and knew to stay close to his master’s side when other humans were around – particularly children. He also knew to slow his easy trot as his Xander slowed on the way back and they climbed the rise to the main road again.
Xander’s day was lazy - washing, cleaning and shopping all done in the company of his rather extraordinary new dog. He forewent going to the supermarket in preference to visiting the Farmer’s market further out of town. Spike walked at heel and even carried one of the Hessian shopping bags for Xander as the human collected fresh produce then filled Spike’s bag with a chicken, a bag of brown rice and lentils, and finally meat and home dried beef jerky. Xander carried the box of fruit and vegetables.
Xander stopped to chat to the butcher, Mike - one of Jerry’s friends from school days apparently. Spike put his bag down and sat patiently at Xander’s feet as the two chatted, and when the crowd of shoppers eased a bit, was rewarded by the Mike’s daughter with a lovely handful of diced beef on a Styrofoam tray. Spike ate carefully, licked the tray, then lifted it toward the girl as she finished serving yet another customer. She took it graciously, smiled then accepted the paw offered in thanks and grinned, exclaiming “Hey Dad! Check this out… How about this for manners?!”
Mike snorted and looked back at Xander, “Well blow me down with a feather! Haven’t seen that sorta thing since Lassie or Balto were on the TV… Where’d you say you get him?”
“Month ago, Jerry found him in a Kamloops pet rescue place… apparently he was found in the baggage compartment of one of those cross Canada tour buses. He’s certainly quite an intelligent dog – and well trained. Can’t imagine anyone getting rid of him! But he had no collar when he came to them.”
Mike grunted, “F#$%ing city bastards… looks like a Malamute – but could be a husky cross… have the same sort of taller stature and good nature. Looks like he’s got all the energy in the world – not to mention devotion to the ‘pack’ ie you!”
“No arguing here… Just worried he can get enough exercise. I’m away all day – trying to take him for a run every morning – but … anyway you don’t need to hear all this – thanks for the meat… Oh and Jerry said to tell you the Independence weekend for fishing – all welcome – we’ve got a few of the work guys and families and are just going to camp on Larry’s father’s property for a couple of nights. We figured everyone has a bit of camping gear and we can make a real weekend of it.”
“Market is on that week so we’ll have to come up late… but yeah… I’ll ring Jerry meself… Tell ya what, just a thought, we’ve got a couple of bitch Malamutes (mother and daughter) and have been doing some amateur sled running with them (summer stuff – wheels etc) Get Katie to take him out of a day when you’re at work. She usually runs them around eleven before going to college or helping me with deliveries. Get a bit more condition on him and you’ll be surprised just how strong the breed can be.”
And so, after a weekend of compacting crushed rock, spreading and evening sand (with Rob the neighbor and Jerry’s kind assistance), then laying pavers, the back was all but done – next weekend and many to follow would be taken up by more visits to the hardware store and the plant nursery, and gradually transforming the backyard into something beautiful for Spike and Xander to enjoy.
Spike had a wonderful day in charge of keeping Jerry’s twin boys occupied and out of mischief. Xander permitted them play in the front yard – with strict instructions to Spike to keep them safe. Spike would have rolled his eyes if he could. They developed their own game of tag, the boys tucking a tea towel into their pants and the aim was to try to grab each other’s tail. The boys had the advantage as far as having two arms and tails that didn’t hurt if tugged – but Spike was so much quicker.
They were joined by Rob’s three children not long after and were all eventually invited to the park by the mother of the three, Pippa, who smiled as she leaned on a tree in their yard and observed the innocent game and the actions of their neighbour Xander’s dog. He was magnificent – and though in her opinion a little too thin – was gentle and patient – even allowing himself to get ‘caught’ once or twice, but fast redeeming himself by stealing three tea towels in a quick succession and handing them to her youngest (the 6 yo), as though it had been Jess’s win before the others even realized.
Game over, cool drinks were delivered to the workers and the ‘players’ then the children were escorted to the park, Spike putting up with the lead but making sure Pippa could see he was so well behaved it was unnecessary. Pippa also had their own little Tilley – a very young rather excitable West Highland terrier, on a lead. Spike made a point of growling low when they first met. She immediately rolled onto her back in submission and he licked her acknowledging his role in the pecking order. She was sweet and irrepressibly happy about going for a walk on the sunny spring afternoon.
A suitable supervision bench was found for Pippa and the dogs sat patiently for a time until finally, when most of the other children in the park had departed, they were let off their leads and allowed to participate. Tilley ran around enthusiastically but really didn’t understand the game of modified T-ball at all. Spike smiled internally as he tagged yet another of the twins before they made it to the only base.
Tristan complained bitterly as he joined the field again, “Oh hey! I say we ban Spike from tagging – he’s too quick!” Carl the second of the pigeon pair rolled his eyes.
“Hey *whiney boy*! He caught me out… You’re just a bad sport now get on the field and shut it!”
It was getting late, Tilley had long since ‘retired’ to a place at Pippa’s feet so the game was called. The children all ran on ahead a little way but were trained to stop at intersections so there was little worry. Pippa patted Spike’s side as he waited patiently for the lead to be reattached to his slip-chain collar and said in a soothing singsong voice, “Good boy… Good boy Spike… You did *so* well with the children… Good boy!” Then switched her attention to Tilley, this time it was baby talk and if Spike could have been ill he would have – no wonder the mutt was slightly daft!
“That’s it my baby… you just sit in mummy’s arms and I’ll carry you, poor little love… Dinner’s waiting when we get back… You’ll like that won’t you… Yes you will…”
Spike was relieved to greet Xander again. He had exercised enough to feel calm but really was over the ‘child’ factor – of any species! The evening was a barbeque using the newly purchased gas ‘Super-Grill’, swiftly created salads by Jerry’s wife Carrie and a blushing Pippa - the latter courtesy of the announced ‘another one due’ by proud dad Rob, and toasted by beer and a hastily purchased bottle of champagne some hour later.
Children were fed first – sausages and bread with a few ‘compulsory’ greens - then the five were set up (with the dogs) in front of the DVD – Madagasgar the choice. Spike absented himself as soon as all were settled, preferring adult company.
By the time he pushed through the open back door, the adults had all but finished their meal. The odd variety of chairs were now circled around a ‘brasserie’ of sorts – really an old washing machine inner – perfect for the purpose once on a home soldered stand. The fire was warm, the conversation likewise. Spike initially lay at his Xander’s feet but eventually sat up and placed his chin on Xander’s right thigh, resting for the rest of the evening and accepting the gentle petting. The company didn’t miss the affection or the calm of their usually ‘driven’ host in the presence of his new pet.
The following four weeks all passed easily. Weekends were spent fixing the garden, and weeks were very similar, though Spike was now walked by Pippa whenever she ventured to the shop on foot – his presence apparently calming the skittish Tilley.
His experience as ‘summer sled dog’ was reportedly delayed due to an ankle spraining at basketball by the ‘driver’, but it mattered little. Spike felt settled – well as settled as one could be as a vampire changed to dog. Xander seemed to forget he wasn’t human when they were alone of an evening, and if he were honest, it felt very like the few times pre Hellmouth closure when they were… if either of them had been honest… friends.
The following weekend was the fishing trip. That marked five and a little months left to convey his predicament to Xander.