OK a long time coming... Daisy has been not been silent but the typist has been struggling. A return to work after two months off ill both terrifying and a prompt to listen to her pleas.
Title: The Stray
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
, Part 10
, Part 11
, Part 12
By mid February the weather had begun to show some improvement so morning runs were occasionally back on the agenda. When the snow was still thick enough on the ground it was possible for them to do as they had in the Barkerville Dash with Xander on snowboard and Spike in the harness, but running together was still more fun. Spike was so much fitter than when they had first come together (and still training with Gracie’s team), that he merely trotted along patiently while Xander increased his own running fitness significantly.
In the weeks that followed Xander doted on his friend, Spike still trained with Gracie every day, the need to run a drive from within that was almost as demanding as his old vampiric desire to hunt. And though the weather in February still freezing, the bizarre weather of Calgary dictating an occasional burst of Chinook winds that brought with it days that were far from the usual freezing temperatures, but rather a day or three of fine weather and temperatures up in the teens Celcius.
If the better weather happened on a week day, it meant the building schedule on Xander’s teams worksite was altered to take advantage of the warmth and took on an almost a frantic pace. But if on a weekend (which for some reason was rare!), it brought the most joy to dog and owner.
Warm weekends meant long runs, leisurely lunches and work on the externals of house or the garden. Xander bought bulbs in readiness for a spring show and Spike reveled in being designated digger of the garden beds (though the parameters needed clear specifications after he almost dug up the lemon tree in his enthusiasm). Their camaraderie was quiet and complete at the end of such days and the ‘beer each’ was taken on the deck in the sun.
It was on such an evening, as the weather closed in again, that Xander received confirmation that Willow was going to keep to her scheduled visit but moved the date to mid-March. Though the Email was sent with profuse apologies, Spike was in a way pleased. Life as a dog was bearable at least and joyous at its best. He had come to enjoy even those times he was left alone at the house while Xander was at work.
Spike was at his keyboard and saw the concern on his friend’s face so hit reply and surprisingly quickly typed, “don’t worry about it W, means more time with X and spring is coming – can see it, smell it, and more days in the sun. ‘s life innit. S” before a surprised Xander had a chance to react fully.
Xander was a little shocked by the typed statement, and said quietly, “But you are still a dog Spike… I just thought…”
Spike nuzzled his human affectionately before typing, “Bint’s just comin’ for a look see – and there are no guarantees she can help. ‘sides tell me you don’t like your warm fuzzy bed warmer ;-p”
Xander sat further onto the floor and pulling the huge dog into his lap for a warm hug then whispered, “Yes but Spike… Oh I don’t know! I just can’t bear the idea of you… You should have forever and now it’s so short…”
Spike nuzzled a little again then pulled away and typed, “Don’t matter how long – all in the how happy innit. ‘sides Gracie’s got sommit to ask you next time you two talk… an’ I though we’d agreed to run the Mail Run again this year!?” The final statement was accompanied by what could only be described as a grin.
“Yeah and that’s only so you can get me out on that snowboard again… crazy pooch! Never said I was into half pipes – even if it was a tree last Thursday… and I happened to land without breaking anything!”
The conversation ended on a high note and the usual shared shower, drying off, then TV session in front of the heater preceded snuggling down together for sleep on their shared bed, Spike under the top cover to prevent overheating, Xander under two duvet’s but pulled close to his ‘partner’. They both sighed and fell asleep almost immediately.
In the weeks that followed, Spike enjoyed the occasional late morning sun, the returning of the birds heralding spring (he could recognize almost every song now!), and the training runs that became more and more road runs than snow runs. He also enjoyed the evermore amorous attentions of Chloe. Defore had bred with his long time mate Elsa who ran for another Calgary team and was to be a father for the fourth time, something Spike felt strangely jealous of. He was a mortal now, and it was in his nature – especially as Chloe began to show signs of coming into heat.
It was the subject of an unexpectedly candid conversation with his dear owner one night in mid February, Spike on the computer, Xander speaking as usual.
“have you ever wanted a family Xan?”
“I thought I did, but gayness not really offering a lot of options, even in Canada – well not with a permanent partner, and you *know* that hasn’t really been on the dial for a while… besides I have you. Why do I need…?”
“Xander, if this thing with Willow doesn’t work out, which if the Powers that Screw You are anything to be trusted it won’t… would you love one of mine as your own… if… you know… you and I are aware even ten years is a stretch… and I would… I would like you to have something to remember me by… You know one of mine…? Xan, you are my friend… fate knows you would have been my lover had I the choice… Even if all turns out, as we know it probably won’t… ‘s my chance innit.”
Xander was utterly overwhelmed by the notion of Spike’s demise, of the real implications of Spike’s non-return to Vampire-hood and even if it were to be so, “I… I… Oh Spike how can you be so negative, Willow is just less than a month away from coming here!?”
“But she is just on a reconnoiter at this stage, no guarantees from there.”
“If Gracie agrees, and Chloe is willing, then let me… at least give me this… my chance… children… family… please Master!” Spike pushed off the fitting that allowed him to type and simply put his furry head in his human friend’s lap begging with blue eyes that would not be ignored.
“But you’re not…”
Spike refitted the typing aids.
“Pedigree? Kosher? Bloody Bhuddist… Xan come on! You’ll get you’re ideal boy toy eventually even if aught works out with the witch and I’m dead at 12 or 15… and if I do get back to vampire or human or… whatever, then you’ll have… a replacement canine buddy – my son or daughter or both!… I… *please* Xan…”
The fittings were pulled off, this time by his human owner and Spike was pulled into another tight hug. He felt the single brown eye and dysfunctional missing one shed the tears they both felt.
Loss, grief, desperation and devotion and… deep, genuine love.
“Yes Spike, of course, yes… But only if it’s what you want!” The dog relaxed in his arms and licked his face, and Xander had his answer.
Three days later Xander rang Gracie from work. The conversation was candid and straight forward. She really did want Spike to sire Chloe’s first brood, adding that Spike’s speed and intelligence far outweighed his unknown origins, though his husky nature was by far dominant in her opinion. The other issue was that Defore and Chloe were uncle and niece – not a good combination for breeding stock of the future.
Chloe was already ‘in heat’ and had been confined to kennels when Xander drove over to drop off Spike for at least the next three days. The farewell was rather sullen and serious on both parts, but Spike licked his master, then encouraged Chloe to do the same and somehow they all knew. Whether it be the will of the Powers to aid his change back or not, there was really no going back.
Spike knew the joy of a different, simpler life now - the basking in the sun, curling up outside to ward off freezing weather, the good days and the not so pleasant. He knew how to be patient as he had learned reluctantly when a vampire waiting for darkness to come. He knew the signs and sounds of dusk and dawn, but now it was his as mortal canine as well as vampire and human memories that added to the peace he felt, and the opportunity for procreation that he had never had the privilege to experience.
As soon as he entered the enclosure, Chloe nuzzled first Spike then rubbed against Xander’s leg before prostrating herself to her mistress Gracie for a thorough scrubbing of her furry underside and rather erect nipples. She had been exuding a scent for days and dropping blood from that morning. Every male dog in the neighborhood could smell it, but she was Spike’s for the taking.
Gracie was reassuring to the point of overly grateful and Xander’s last view of his friend was that of a proud alpha male standing steadfast and determined in front of the female husky that was to accept him, and only him, as the father of her first litter. After a stiff drink, Xander held the image in his head and felt very alone as he went to sleep that night.
Spike let himself fall into full dog mode as soon as Xander left and the lights of the kennels were off. He took the willing bitch he had known for nearly a year over and over in the succeeding days. And by the end of the fourth day the vet confirmed that the joining had been a success. Spike reluctantly returned to Xander’s home, only to jump the fence as soon as Xander left for work to visit Chloe on a daily basis instead of waiting for Gracie to come by for his daily run.
He was to be a father. It would take three months or so but Spike knew, as did Xander and Gracie, there would be a litter, and Gracie promised Xander that one, if not two, would be his to take gratis. Admitting that she hoped there would be many more such joinings in the future. Defore had fathered twelve to date, there was no reason Spike should be any different in her eyes. Yet despite Spike’s apparent happiness, a part of Xander grieved.
Spike was right, there were no guarantees with Willow, and yet he counted the days until his long time friend’s visit…
Eventually the day came, Willow was met at the airport by Xander on the Ides of March, Spike waiting patiently in the car (asleep as was his habit these days, if human matters threatened to ‘draw themselves out’).
Xander was a little thrown as his long time friend walked out into the Arrivals lounge from the customs/immigration hall. Where there had been red hair there was now definite signs of grey in the single long plat that hung down the back of her green tunic-like outfit, not dissimilar to the garb of a sub-Saharan women Xander had seen in his days in Africa.
It was 8pm and well after sunset as he met his dear friend of too many battles to count, yet Xander felt like he was at high school again. He waved rather sheepishly, standing in his winter grade checked over-jacket, company light blue shirt and well worn jeans. He had not quite come straight from work, but even Spike had his eye on the time and begun to tug at the hem of Xander’s pants as he fussed over his appearance… yet again. And of course there was no need for concern.
Willow dropped all pretense of dignity, barely remembered to park her baggage trolley before flinging herself into the arms of her fellow former Scoobie, allowing him to hug her and turn her full circle before putting her down and kissing her firmly on the forehead.
Willow only belatedly remembered to say, “Hey you.” Xander mumbled an emotional “Hey yourself… thanks for coming…” The hug lasted long enough for both to feel the need to clear their throats, Xander belatedly remembering luggage and finding the excuse to break the clasp with an announced “I’ll take this” as he pushed away. There followed a comfortable silence as parking was paid for and car located.
Spike was in the rear seat of the truck snoozing when he heard the doors unlock and the sound of luggage being loaded into the back.
He pricked an ear but decided moving was of little value, the humans would probably have a lot of talking and catching up to do, but Willow’s “Oh my Goddess! Is it really you Spike? Xan he’s gorgeous!” soon put pay to that.