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 , Part 19
Minutes passed and slowly the dog seemed to relax and fell limp, now leveling watery unseeing blue eyes at Xander.
Xander had never been terribly religious but kept up a mantra of “Please! If you can hear me, please help Spike. I love him… Please I love him in any guise and I’ve pledged myself to him… Please! If he dies I will always look after his offspring, his legacy, but *please* let him live… let him have a proper chance… I love him… I’ll love him in any form *please*!”
Finally Xander decided the yellow eyes were his own imagination or wishful thinking but appreciated the lull in the convulsions. It was nearly one am and Xander needed to relieve himself and desperately wanted a drink of water. He left the inert figure of the dog on the bed for a few moments, belatedly remembering that he had promised to ring both Gracie and Willow.
He found himself staring at an exhausted reflection in the bathroom mirror, black circles under his blood shot eye and the socket. He splashed water onto his face then drank some from his hands before thoroughly wetting a hand towel and returning to the bedroom.
Spike hadn’t moved, nor had his labored panting eased. Xander squeezed a little water from the towel into the half open mouth then gently wiped the fur of the dog’s muzzle clearing it from his eyes and brushing it between his ears. There was little more he could do. He would leave ringing Gracie until morning, resolving to ask her to bring Poppie back if only to say goodbye, if Spike lasted that long.
The phone call to Willow was always going to be a difficult one. Spike had been a healthy happy dog until the spell – and had been Willow’s friend. He checked on Spike one more time before making the call, it was unthinkable he should expire while Xander was out of the room.
“Hi is Willow there? Yeah Xander.” He waited for a moment and used the silence to walk with the phone to sit on the end of the bed just touching Spike’s back leg.
“Xander! Is there news?”
“Still nothing Wills. He’s still alive, just…” Xander’s voice broke as he near whispered into the phone, “The vet did everything he could. I brought him home to die.”
“Honestly we’ve been wracking our brains here trying to work out what went wrong. The Battle Brand was even contacted at the Well.”
“All he said was ‘The truth lies in blood.’ Not really helpful for us here though we have cross referenced everything we know to try to find what that means… He would say no more… Xan are you *sure* you said the pledge before everything started, I mean, I don’t doubt that… but… Oh Xan this is too terrible!”
Xander felt a pang of anger, “I did everything you told me to. It’s just… He’s dying Wil and I can’t do a thing… It’s Spike Wil, and he’s really dying.”
“Oh Xan! We’ll do everything we can, I promise!”
Xander barely ground out an apologetic, “Thanks… um… better go yeah?” before hanging up.
Xander dropped the phone on the floor and returned to lying with his loved canine friend, now colder than ever, in his arms. Spike would not die alone.
As afterthought he pulled his wrist against an exposed nail head under the frame of the side table. The pain helped and he fell asleep, not even registering a cool tongue seeking out the precious fluid as it inadvertently dripped into the dog’s mouth. And Spike held on.
Around five in the morning, as the first of the birds heralded in the new day he woke to frantic knocking at the front door. It was Gracie with Poppie, her sister and Chloe all on leads and frantic to enter. The three were nearly uncontrollable as the door was opened by a sleepy Xander.
Gracie looked apologetic as she let the impatient dogs from their tethers and was ushered in. Poppie, her sister and mother made a beeline for the bedroom while Xander was left to greet the concerned musher. Gracie quickly made it her business to look after the bereft owner of her number one sprinter, noting the blood covered wound on Xander’s wrist and guiding the obviously bereft man into his own kitchen to tend the same.
Xander appreciated the human company and stood quietly as Gracie carefully washed the wound while chatting with genuine care and concern, and a good measure of common sense. “If it *was* a poisoning, then he’s past the worst now. I’ve had dogs before that have eaten all sorts of things they shouldn’t, one who even got mauled by a steer and I figured was a gonner… if they survive beyond forty eight hours then it’s a good sign – I don’t care what the vet says. Anyway… let me see that…” As she took his hand and ran water over the torn wrist she kept talking, finally asking “Have you eaten?” When there was no reply she simply said, “I thought not.” And matter-of-factly heated some leftovers from the fridge and poured Xander a juice.
Xander slumped on his chair as the snack was placed in front of him, “There now, come on at least give it a bit of a go while I check on the patient.” He ate without tasting anything, drank the juice and moved to return to the sickroom.
He was met by a very touching scene, Chloe was gently licking Spike’s face and ears, Poppie beside her licking her father’s paws and her sister simply nestled against her father’s back warming him. Gracie was seated at the base of the bed, lightly stroking Spike’s tail, something he was very unlikely to allow were he conscious.
Gracie moved over a little to let Xander sit on the bed with her. They sat in silence for a while, each form touching the stricken loved one. Xander’s mind wandered a little as his eyes surveyed the scene. It was not unlike a Victorian death bed, the stricken one surrounded by a devoted family, Xander couldn’t help but think that William, the man who became Spike the vampire, would have recognized and liked that. It seemed appropriate somehow.
Gracie excused herself around seven, leaving the dogs behind to comfort and keep vigil. Xander led her to the door and hugged the young woman hard, “Thanks so much… You are really something Gracie… I’ll look after them, promise… And I’ll let you know OK?”
“Yeah, sure… sorry I can’t stay, but I have an early lecture, I’ll come back when I can. You take care OK?”
Xander retook his position at Spike’s rear legs, the other dogs had long since curled around the father of their line, warming and comforting. Xander patted each one in turn before sitting and absently stroking Spike’s tail to a litany of more prayers.
Sometime during the morning there was a change, Xander didn’t notice it at first, but Spike’s husky family did and Xander was shaken from his trance like state by excited whimpering and a short bark from Chloe.
Spike’s breathing was easier, deeper and as Xander rose and knelt in front of his head, he could see that the loved blue eyes were clearer and showed the intelligence he had come to love so much. A weak whimper and slight twitch of the tail was all it took, the dogs deferring to the owner/pack leader and allowing Xander full access to Spike’s head.
Xander kissed the dog firmly on the muzzle and simply said, “Oh Spike! I thought I’d lost you!” He was rewarded by a real wag of the tail and for the first time in nearly three horrible days, saw recognition in the blue eyes and a real thump of the tail, this time when he squeezed a little water into the lax mouth there was an attempt to drink and small shift of legs and body.
Spike felt and smelt his family around him, and felt Xander as he stared up with wonder into the tear filled brown eye. He wished he could speak. He had had such strange dreams and felt terribly weak, but the love flowing from Xander was unmistakable. It was as though he had been born a vampire again and could feel his Sire.
It would still be hours before he really moved but in that time, Xander pampered both him and his husky family. He licked the hand that had seen him through, recognizing the scent and soft voice. He was still here, Xander was here, Poppie, Chloe and Bella were here. He too thanked whatever Powers had brought him back, and delighted in the thought that, regardless of his current form, he was allowed to remain and love his Xander and family for a little longer.
By the time Gracie returned there was real progress. Xander had carried Spike to his mat on the back deck to enjoy the sun as the other dogs explored the back yard, Poppie leading the foray with a proud familiarity.
Xander led Gracie through the house to be greeted by four huskies, all lying quietly in the sun, the three girls with their front paws draped over the edge of the deck, and Spike fully stretched on his mat but obviously on the improve.
Gracie was almost apologetic as she stood at the back door admiring the scene. “Geez Xan, to be honest I thought he was a gonner… forget what I said… but this is *fantastic*! I have said goodbye to more dogs than I care to count. He’s a real stayer. Always knew that… You want that I look after Poppie today?”
Xander smiled at the gentle hearted musher, “You mind if they all stay until this evening? Just that… This is a new beginning sort of… and I figure family is what pulled him through.”
Gracie grinned and put a kind hand on Xander’s arm, “You know? I reckon he stayed for you. Wouldn’t you stick around if the most important thing in your life kept up the anti like you did?”
Xander smiled weakly, “I guess… yeah well… sure… but…” he shifted uncomfortably, “It’s my fault he got sick in the first place.”
He heard “*Bollocks! We *both* agreed!” in his head, but discounted the ‘noise’ and associated feelings of affection and incredulity as part of his own exhaustion, simply saying, “I guess…”
Chloe and Bella were collected and a much reassured Poppie also willingly followed Gracie to the car with Xander’s encouragement, all so owner could have time with the recovering Spike. Reassurances from Gracie were easy to believe as Spike seemed to recover by the hour, weakly but on his own relieving himself then struggling inside to take food from his bowl and find the rug in front of the heater (on despite the warm weather).
A relieved Xander pulled a cushion and throw from the couch and lay beside his dear friend. He was exhausted, though still remembered to thank all ‘abovementioned’ deities for Spike’s miraculous recovery before falling asleep still stroking over Spike’s soft fur.
Some time later he woke to a baritone voice and very real, nude blonde male form reciprocating his caress. “Evenin’ Pet… Seems as lady luck has given us the night…”
He blinked twice. It had to be a dream!
“Spike? It's really you?”