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 , Part 13 , Part 14 , Part 15 , Part 16 , Part 17 , Part 18
The Stampede came and went, and Xander’s project was all but finished, as it turned out, before time.
A fishing trip was again on the offing, and Xander readily accepted, arriving to Jerry’s boys joy, with two dogs on leash.
Poppie was the delight of the trip. Jerry’s little boys were allowed to join her upstream (supervised by two of the wives and Spike) where they tiptoed through shallows, the boys threw small rocks in, which she dutifully pounced on, then joined them in the curious inspection of all things aquatic. She discovered that river weed tasted nasty, the small humans were worse than her at scaring away birds and that all enjoyed making a splash and trying to bite it. She was in her element. Even when the three youngsters scrambled up the muddy bank together she didn’t mind getting her paws soiled, it was all part of the fun. The only thing she really didn’t participate in was the fishing, it looked quite boring except when one or other of the big male humans pulled a salmon from the river with much struggling and cheers from the others.
There were new areas to explore and all manner of unfamiliar smells and sounds, and wonderful tidbits provided from all quarters whenever a meal was prepared, though she always kept her father within sight and followed his lead in all matters of etiquette (well almost all). They were tethered outside Xander’s tent of an evening and with the clear sky she could see stars so clearly it seemed they were making a twinkling blanket overhead. She looked for as long as she could then snuggled into her father’s side and slept fitfully readying for a new day of adventure.
Spike too enjoyed the weekend outing, but unlike last year, chose to fall into pure dog, at least it prevented him from thinking. The day of reckoning was soon, and as much as he would enjoy a bipedal existence, he loved his life now. It was all too hard to contemplate – particularly the enormous risk of something going wrong… again. If he became pure vampire again the night would be all he would have (apart from Xander… and he had him as friend and companion already after a fashion). How would Poppie react to him then? How would Xander… really? For all his wishing to bed the boy there were really no guarantees… it was really easier to give in to light slumber than try to over think the possibilities.
The return home marked two weeks until the meeting with Blue Feather, and the promised night. Spike begged to ‘bed’ Chloe again, and while Poppie and her sister were taken for a special run by Gracie, he did just that, impregnating her a second time. This time it was done most lovingly with knowledge on both his and Chloe’s part, and she was a very willing partner. If something did happen to him to finish his existence, at least Xander would have a second pup, and his line would continue.
The timing of the New Moon was unfortunate in as much as it fell on the day of the formal handover of the project Xander and Jerry had headed up so skillfully. The celebrations were formal onsite but carried over to a wine bar not so far away. Xander was conscious of the time. His instructions from Blue Feather were to be with Spike at midnight, he was not sure for what, merely that he needed to get home.
Jerry picked up on the agitation of his usually unflappable colleague. “You alright buddy?”
“Yeah… yes of course… just end of an era I guess.”
“Are you kidding? This has launched the company up the corporate ladder! You heard the boss – now we go into serious tender writing. Alberta’s the state of opportunity and we won’t need to stop there! Come on… lighten up ’n tell me you’re not glad to see this one under our belt. Here I’ll get you another beer.”
“Thanks anyway Jerry, but I think I’m gonna take off. See you in a week or so. Figure we’ve all earned the holiday.”
“Not wrong… Listen, we’re headed up to the wife’s folks farm. Just call my cell if you feel like visiting, I’m sure they won’t mind the extra company, and the boys always love having the dogs around.”
“Yeah, thanks, I’ll see how things go. Still got some work to do around the house, and the weather seems to be holding.”
“OK your choice… Have a good one.” With that Jerry nodded and rejoined the rest of the celebration.
It was just on eleven as Xander pulled into the drive of his home. There were no lights on but that was nothing, and he could just make out the shine of the television in the front room. Sure enough Poppie and Spike were lying comfortably on the plushy mat with apparently no care in the world for such a momentous night.
Xander squatted down to pet Poppie then Spike in turn. “You ready for this Spike? ‘cause I know I’m not, not really… I need to ring Willow then we’ll know what the set up is, OK?”
The dog thumped his tail less than enthusiastically but rose to follow into the study leaving Poppie to snooze on.
Xander had already collected two strange jars and a number of odd looking dried articles from Blue Feather earlier that week in a clandestine meeting that had all the hallmarks of a drug heist. He had followed the instructions to the letter, taken a detour on the way home from work, met a short man dressed in a suit just a little too tight for him in a sleazy bar, had a hurried beer and with few words exchanged, then accepted a beaten looking duffle bag containing ‘the merchandise’ from Ms Feather.
The speaker phone was on, Spike could clearly hear the ringing then Willow’s rather strained voice, “Xander? Oh thank Gaia, I was kind of worried when you didn’t call earlier… Is Spike there?”
Spike’s low growl confirmed his presence before Xander could answer.
“I’ve got all the stuff Wills… But gotta say blue sand and yellow sand and a bunch of stuff that looks like old road kill, not really with the confidence here.”
“The first thing you need to do is make a pentagram out of the blue sand, big enough to draw a circle in the centre for you two to be in – all the bits… you know… all of Spike,”
"OK… stay on the line, I’ll just do that now.” He grunted as he removed the lid from the first jar, the seal had been very well screwed on, then proceeded to carefully draw the large star shape on the carpet.
“Done… just doing the circle now… does it matter how accurate the circle is?”
“Just do your best Xan.” Another grunt and sound of twisting lid then several seconds later, “OK all done.”
“Now take out the dry things and place one inside each triangle formed by the star points. Start with the north point then place them while walking anticlockwise around the edge.” Some rattling of a paper bag then “Done.”
“OK now you and Spike need to step into the middle of the circle without touching anything and sit down touching each other.”
Willow heard “Careful Spike… back legs Spike!” Then “OK we’re in.”
“Now I guess all we do is wait…”
“How exactly will we know it’s about to start, you know… to work?”
“I’m not sure Xan, pretty much everyone here is on high alert until we’re given the signal to start chanting.”
“So do we need to chant? Or do anything at all?”
“Just… You’ll know the time I guess. It’s about pledging yourself to Spike and he to you, I guess that will have to be growls in his case – and I’m not too sure what else at this stage… We’re trying to channel some of the energy from Illyria’s release and incarceration to make the shift for Spike – it should work as a reversal energy according to the Battle Brand.”
“But he keeps his soul right?”
“The only thing I know is that he keeps his soul… I just don’t know if it will work over such a distance… Xan I *wish* I knew more I really do. I have to hang up now. Call me after… you know.”
The new moon shone brightly through the study window and all was quiet as the two simply waited.
“Might take a while I guess… I am going to pledge myself to you, you know, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. I’m yours Spike my friend, my confidant, my beautiful, loyal, intelligent, amazing Spike. I love you and will continue to love you no matter what OK ‘til death us do part… That sound like a pledge to you?”
Spike looked Xander square in the eye then with lightening speed bit Xander’s wrist drawing blood and following it with a similar act on his own then rubbed the two bleeding wounds together and licked Xander gently on the face.
“Figure that’s a good sign at least we are blood brothers now… thanks Spike, it really was good thinking.”
Another fifteen minutes went by, both dog and owner letting their blood drip into a combined puddle between them, there was little else to do but watch each drop fell, until both wounds congealed and the carpet bore a wide red mark.
“Guess we just sit here until *something* happens. And if it doesn’t I suppose we just wait for Willow to ring.”
The circle was big enough to sit in, but not to lie down with any comfort and the need for both parties to relieve themselves seemed to be augmented by their inability to move from their designated spot, so they waited. And waited… and waited.
Almost an hour later the two were still sitting patiently, Xander’s arms around Spike’s strong furred torso. Xander fancied he saw the yellow sand glow a bit some twenty minutes into the proceedings but when nothing changed he wrote it off as his imagination, though had at the time made a solemn wish that the magic had taken and hugged the dog a little tighter – so much so Spike let out a little grunt.
After another half hour, just as Xander’s backside was becoming utterly numb, there was a definite flash then the smell of rancid burning as the objects in each of the triangles caught fire and burnt until they were but ash on the sea-grass matting that was the floor rug/carpet in the study. Likewise the blue sand glowed bright before it too turned to a dirty grey and all but disappeared. The room was filled with thick smoke and the fire alarm in the hallway began to shriek its protest.
Poppie was up instantly and rushed into the room skidding to a halt as she saw her father and master in a firm embrace in the middle of the smoke filled study. She barked her protest and desperate worry then broke the circle in an effort to get to those she loved and wished to protect. Spike wriggled out of Xander’s embrace. Deciding then and there, since there was no change, there would be none.
But as he stepped from the circle the dog fell, his writhing form leaving Xander and Poppie stunned at first then bursting into action. The spell was forgotten as a frantic Xander ushered Poppie to the car and carried a now unconscious, fitting Spike to the same. He drove at speed to the nearest animal hospital.
By the time they arrive (Xander having rung ahead) Spike was foaming at the mouth and barely breathing. If there could have been a worst case scenario this was it. The vet assessed Spike quickly, deciding to intubate the writhing husky with some difficulty, but as a high powered sedative took effect the breathing tube was finally successfully driven home.
“Do you know if anyone in the area has been baiting for rats or anything?”… “Has he been in contact with any dogs with distemper?”… “Were there any warning signs prior to the fit?”… “Was he showing any signs of distress or malaise of late?”… “When was his last meal?”… “Do you know the history of his line?”
Question after question was fired at Xander as he alternatively held his dear friend down or stroked the now sweat matted fur. It was all too terrible.
“We will have to keep him here until morning. If the fitting continues after the sedative wears off, I’m afraid there may be little we can do. I’m sorry Mr Harris, we have flushed his stomach contents but until further tests we really don’t know what we’re dealing with. In the worst case scenario, I would be recommending euthanasia, but let’s give it until tomorrow since your other dog appears to be fine. I’m afraid some of the pathology and scans can be quite pricy…”
Xander was beside himself, “Just do what you have to do! Please!”
At dawn a miserable Xander left Spike at the clinic to deliver a distressed and confused Poppie to Gracie’s for the day before returning to the clinic to sit by the cage Spike had temporarily been placed in to ‘rest’.
Spike’s breathing was being assisted by a respirator and his pulse was impossibly weak as the vet approached desperate owner. “I’m afraid, Mr Harris… I’m afraid there is nothing more we can do. We can’t seem to detect any toxins in his system, and the pathology lab reports that… well it seems that the fit is akin to a human ‘rolling epileptic fit’ meaning it is unlikely he will recover. We have administered anti-convulsion medication intravenously but… I’m sorry… there is nothing more we can do… We will take him off the ventilator shortly which will likely mean there will be a little time before death. Would you like us to deal with the body or shall you?”
Xander kept stroking the stricken canine, his head reeling with the news, “What?... No, no! He comes home to die… at least I can give him that… Oh Spike! If only we hadn’t… Geez… um…” A tear escaped Xander’s good eye and the vet patted his shoulder gently.
“If it’s any consolation, I don’t think he is in pain, nor felt any...”
“Yeah… um… thanks… Can I, you know… Take him home now.”
“Sure, I’ll fix it with the desk to send you the bill shall I.”
Xander simply whispered, “Thanks” as tubes were removed and he lifted the not too significant weight of the dying dog in his arms.
Xander didn’t register much of his drive home, his whole being consumed by grief. He could still hear the rasped too fast breathing of Spike but knew that the strange rattle was little but that of the last death throws of the body on the back seat.
Rather than placing the dog on the floor in front of the heater, he rushed to put an old towel down on his own bed, then placed the inert body of the dog gently on the towel and covered him with a fluffy duvet before climbing under it to cuddle Spike. If this was to be his dearest friend’s end, then it would be one surrounded by his master’s arms and love… so much love.
Xander must have slept a little, even though the house still smelt of the dreadful smoke and the body next to him was becoming increasingly colder. When awake he recriminated himself over and over for going through with the risky idea of changing Spike back and of trusting the coven with the vague, ridiculous idea of reversing what was.
He took two breaks, one to ring Willow only to discover that indeed the idea to fix Illyria on the earthly plane had been successful, and to report Spike’s imminent demise, and a second to relieve himself. And so Xander held on, hugging, coaxing, caressing, and begging both Spike and any ‘Powers that might be listening’ to save Spike somehow.
There seemed no end to his misery as Spike continued to pant so lightly and quickly that it was difficult to tell if he was truly breathing or that his system was merely working on reflex as it gave up the fight.
It was almost twelve midnight when Xander woke again, this time to more serious convulsions and *yellow* begging eyes.