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 , Part 8 , Part 9
Xander seemed to have forgotten the typing incident the following day. He rose just before dawn and rather than taking his usual run, he simply set about fixing up the house. He swiftly put all the electrical equipment back in place and tidied the cupboards that had been left ‘for tomorrow’ the previous night. After police reports and charges and spending time with the neighbors (as a thank you), both dog and master were exhausted.
After watching Xander race against time to get the house in order (and really unable to do much at all bar carrying some of the smaller items), Spike gave his Master a tug by the shorts. It was almost seven and Xander was hardly ready for work so the dog pulled him toward the shower.
“All right, all right buddy! I’ll have a *quick* shower and we’ll sort anything else later OK? I told Jerry I’d be a bit late…” He distractedly pulled his shirt over his head and wandered into the bathroom. He stopped disrobing with his pants around his knees and looked up at Spike. “Hey… Gracie’s not running you ‘til Friday… You wanna come with today? We’re onsite most of the day – long as you can behave. Can’t happen everyday but just for now… I’d really like you with me today, and if it rains you can sit in the truck yeah.”
Spike was watching from the bathroom door and more than a little distracted by the view of a more mature, leaner Xander’s form (with very nice thighs and nether regions). He mentally shook himself as he realized what was being said. The prospect of a trip out for the day – to be included in Xander’s day – was wonderful. He wagged his tail enthusiastically then turned to leave Xander to his ablutions.
Spike knew the breakfast would be rushed, so helped himself to dry food and an egg (shells *blagghh*), drank water from his bowl then carefully pulled a bottle of orange juice and the milk from the front of the fridge, put it on the table then found the granola box in the cupboard and did likewise (bowl and spoon were absent due to cupboard and drawer issues). Finally, he hit the lever on the auto-coffee maker and the pre-prepared machine burst into action.
Xander was so distracted in his rush to get ready that he did not really notice, absently getting bowl, cutlery and glass… until… “Where’d I put my paper?” He suddenly realized his routine was all off. He had not let Spike out for an early morning tinkle, in fact neither of them had been outside. He hadn’t put out the breakfast materials, nor had he turned on the coffee. Xander pondered the implications as he opened the back door, Spike quickly relieved a near bursting bladder in the usual spot then leapt the side fence, picked up the paper from the front lawn, returned the same way and dropped it at Xander’s feet as he sat munching on his breakfast.
“How did you? OK that means you can jump the fence!! I should have known… Anyway, no time to worry now. I guess you’ve already closed the door… so get your lead while I grab a coffee to go and we’re off.”
Spike complied immediately but then gave himself a mental kick as he leapt up into the backseat of the truck… The simple act of collecting the paper may just have cost him the side fence freedom trail.
The trip to work was pleasant and Spike sat up, appreciating for the first time, the city of Calgary. Xander pointed out the University, gesticulated toward city central and general direction of Edmonton (apparently where Jerry’s wife was taking the boys to some mall or other – Spike could think of nothing worse). Finally Xander began to chat about where they were really headed and what was planned that day… until finally they were at the site.
The skeleton of a large structure’s foundations, obviously near completion were somewhat dwarfed by the other similar infant structures gracing a very large site. The cranes were already onsite and Jerry waved Xander over to the group of men standing by the cluster of construction cabins. The work Xander and Jerry were overseeing today was the successful pouring of the base foundations on building one and the second team setting up the scaffolding for the following week’s pour on the adjacent site.
Both were part of a multimillion dollar development - an estate of ‘upscale’ office buildings, each large structure, a maximum five stories high and designed to have its own unique personality and style, linked by broad expanses of parkland with one of the largest underground carparks in Calgary. The car park was the most difficult part of the build as far as the project managers were concerned as it had to run underneath all seven buildings, though a not unfamiliar idea considering the freeze of the Alberta winters.
Spike saw mostly a *massive* hole, and thought privately to himself that he could have saved them a whole lot of digging if only there had been a Hellmouth and he had an amulet. He was still in reminisce mode as he followed dutifully behind Xander – the lead irrelevant - so much so he almost ran directly into Xander’s legs when the man stopped. He quickly took right flank and sat in perfect form.
“Geez Harris! This the dog Jer tells us brings beers and catches thieves.” The speaker was a strapping young, blonde, bearded, man who Spike could easily imagine having Viking horns poking from his hard hat. “He looks just like my Jess eyyy.” The Viking (Ben) squatted down and gave Spike a sniff of his hand then proceeded to give him a good old rough up of the fur. “Yeah got a good one here Harris. Gonna race ‘im?"
“He’s been training with Gracie Cleary most days – just to get a run – you know…”
Ben stood and grinned, “Yeah then he’ll be racing alright – she’s got an eye for the good ones.”
Spike felt a sting of pride but then was reminded of his place on the site, that of Xander’s pet with the requirement that he be on his best behavior. Xander unclipped the lead and Spike stayed at heel as Xander listened to the rest of Jerry’s overview briefing, then took over with the details and assignments for each of the crews. Spike could see just why Jerry and Xander made such a good pair, where Jerry was a big ideas man, Xander was meticulous with detail and had the same easy rapport with the other workers as he had with the Scoobies of old – although the level of respect he commanded was obviously significantly greater.
Spike followed Xander as he went over various parts of the site with the foreman of each crew as he checked all aspects of the preparations and consulted with then, until finally, around mid morning the call was made to begin the pour and the purpose made huge nozzle directed into the site from above, began to pump concrete at an amazing rate.
Lunch was called in two shifts, Xander and Jerry checking in with all the crews as they came in – there were some minor concerns but essentially there was nothing too major and as the day was fairly sunny, most sat outside to munch and talk. Spike benefiting from the occasional piece of ham or chicken thrown his way, and as he refused to eat dust covered food, the skill of catching the tidbits (practiced with popcorn every ‘movie night’) caused great amusement and found him garnering more food than the workers probably meant to offer.
At one stage Xander leaned down and whispered, “Better watch it… that racing figure of yours ’ll end up as sumo puppy!” Spike tried for a disparaging look but wasn’t quite sure if he pulled it off.
The second half of the day was more of the same, so Spike simply flopped down near Xander’s truck on the shady side and slept. He was having a wonderful dream with rather confused imagery of him as vampire hunting alongside Dru somewhere in Belgium; then it was muddled with a chase of some description and they were running; which changed to Angelus and he in St Petersburg running in the snow laughing; before changing again to Xander and he running toward a fight in Sunnydale; finally it was the sled team and him as a vampire but still tethered in his place on Gracie’s husky team, and they were running toward… the alley, toward where he had last seen Holland Manners but it was Xander standing on the spot. Xander had his arms open, welcoming him, cheering him on, calling for him by name. “Come on, come to me Spike… I need you to come to me. Come on… Spike come on.” And he was running so hard, but just as he made it into the beloved arms…
He woke in his dog form to Xander’s gentle petting. “Come on buddy, you were having a bad dream… you run like that in your sleep all the time and you’ll be too tired for our morning run!” Spike shook himself a little, dreams like that didn’t just happen by chance. He spent the next twenty minutes lying at Xander’s feet desperately trying to figure the meaning.
The crews were heading home but Jerry and Xander stayed behind for a time planning the basic goals for the following day. As it happened they had been discussing keeping track of all workers on site as the days continued and the mechanism for ensuring everyone’s safety. Spike was lying patiently at Xander’s feet until Xander casually mentioned Spike’s escapades the day before with the thieves and also the morning paper incident.
“It’s part of my thinking you know… There’s more to him… There’s a whole bunch of stuff that makes him seem more than… you know, a dog.”
“Hey Xan… come on he’s just a really bright, well trained *canine* companion, anyone would think that… I’ll bet he can spell too… Look… You’ve had bad luck in love, and regardless, your dog should be your best friend and Spike is loyal, strong and smart. Just appreciate him for what he is eyy? Don’t read more into it, that’s just getting too weird.”
“Yeah I guess you’re right. The newspaper thingy this morning has me worried though. I mean he jumped the fence and bought in the paper this morning. Jer… that means he can escape anytime and be hit or end up God knows only where… I just couldn’t bear to lose him you know…”
Jerry patted his colleague on the arm, “It’s called a microchip Xan - vet puts it just under the skin and Bob’s your uncle. Vet we go to ‘ll do it for just under fifty dollars pretty much on the spot.”
Xander grunted his acknowledgment then started to discuss other things, but Spike heard enough – lab, white coat, chip… Gahhh!!!
He took off in the direction of Xander’s car and hid underneath curling up as small as he could near the back wheel. Xander would really chip him again would he? Why? Why would a friend do that to him? Xander had *seen* what happened when the last chip went wrong! He’d witnessed the agony, seen the helplessness time and time again… How could he even consider it?
By the time Xander found him (after a considerable number of frantic minutes of both he and Jerry calling and searching the site) Spike was all but comatose with fear. When Xander’s hand touched him he visibly flinched and whimpered.
“Jeez Jerry… What do you reckon has spooked him?”
“Dunno… maybe he just saw something that reminded him of, you know, something from before you got him…”
After several minutes of unsuccessfully attempting to coax the terrified dog from under the vehicle, Xander finally resorted to crawling under the pickup and clipping on Spike’s lead then physically hauling him out and pushing him into the car. A hurried farewell was followed by a very worried Xander driving home as though on automatic but for constantly checking his rear vision mirror to try to assess Spike’s condition.
Usually if they had been out and about, Spike bounced from the vehicle enthusiastically. This time it was a reluctant drop to the ground and tail down dejected walk to the door. He was to be chipped. Xander had mentioned the vet several times on the way home in the car, and though it really had been in the context of Xander worrying regards Spike’s sudden change of demeanor and listlessness, Spike’s mind had been kidnapped by thoughts of “Chip, Pain, Hunger, Chip, Pain, Pain”.
As soon as his lead was released Spike padded slowly to the bedroom and curled up miserably on his sleeping mat. He couldn’t seem to sort out what to do. He didn’t *want* to run away again... there was no where to go. One simple selfless act of fetching the paper and he was being condemned. He heard Xander call Gracie and talked to her at length. She arrived half an hour later.
The bedroom light went on and Spike heard his master’s voice, “He’s in here.” Two sets of hands began to gently pet him but he was too tense and upset to even respond other than a nervous twitch as his ears were touched.
Where Gracie’s voice when they were training was normally shrill and commanding, it was now quiet and concerned as she spoke to him like she would a frightened pup. “Come on sweetie… What’s wrong hmmm? Did some big old bad thing frighten you? Come on… Where’s my handsome leader of the pack? Your master is *so* worried… Gracie is worried for you too. What’ll we do tomorrow if you can’t be there? Chloe won’t run without you to chase… She really does fancy you, you know. Come on love… Come on… You can tell Gracie…”
Spike simply lifted his furry chin onto her lap closed his eyes and let both humans stroke him for the next few minutes while they talked.
“Xander, I really don’t think he looks ill per se. You know dogs like your beauty here are incredibly switched on to things around them – you know emotions and such. Do you remember when he went to hide?”
“Not really – Jerry and I (you know Jerry…) were discussing tomorrow’s work is all – I guess we were worried about the safety of the men that sort of thing, few things happened today that could have gone wrong but luckily didn’t and we need to tighten things up a lot. Some of the guys haven’t worked on a job this big before and they simply have to keep tabs on each other. Maybe that’s what Spike picked up on.”
“Could be… Maybe he’s worried about you too… if he thinks you are in danger and he can’t be there every day (well I’m assuming that). Look, if he’s still like this tomorrow give me a call – I’ll come over early and take him for a walk by himself before training – distract him a little while you’re at work.”
The conversation ended there. Spike and Xander slept restlessly, both having eaten little and worried much. And the following day Gracie did as promised, plus gave Spike a lovely brush down before their training session. Meanwhile, every time Xander had a spare moment he worried, and pondered several things.
What had been said *really* between he and Jerry… they were talking about the men then he had talked about Spike, then the vet had been mentioned… The Vet! That had to be it… and here he had gone saying that word on the way home too. Then he contemplated Gracie’s “I wish you could tell me” statement, and remembered the Email from the day of the robbery. If Spike really could spell, type, maybe…
The end of the day could not come quickly enough and as the very first light dust of late autumn snow fell, Jerry sent him home early.
Xander arrived home minutes before Gracie delivered Spike, claiming he had run well and seemed ‘cheerier’ than the previous day.
Spike expected the warm welcome but not being immediately led into the home office where the computer was already booted up. In that moment he realized what Xander was up to and knew, this was his chance, perhaps his *only* chance, to open real communication.