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
Previous Parts here
The issue of the broken balustrade did come up later the next morning after their run but Spike just tried to look his most innocent, admitting with a series of nods that yes there had been trouble and yes it had been dealt with. The pile of dust that was located at the site of the broken wood, and Xander eventually let it slide grumbling that Spike was as bad as Buffy when it came to destroying houses.
“I’ll have to put it on my long list of to do’s on Sunday, that’ll have to be *after* I pick up Willow from the airport… Least it’ll be like old times for her I suppose… But no more destroying, you hear? Or there really will be the dog house for you.”
Spike gave a fake whimper but his eyes twinkled mischief and Xander groaned a little, “Yeah yeah, Mr Big Bad now go find your kids while I get ready for work.”
The return of the witch was something Spike and Xander both needed and for Willow it was a breath of familiar and needed ‘fresh air’.
Met at the arrivals lounge by Xander, they waited hand making small talk at the baggage collection but once the large case laden with gifts for the festive season to come and many more ‘just because’ was collected the baggage trolley was abandoned in preference for a long hug prior to a walk to the car. There was something about a ‘Willow-hug’ that felt just right.
To break the moment Xander let his left hand wander and squeeze her on the buttock cheekily, garnering a “Hey Mister! Naughty touching!” then familiar giggle as Xander gave her an unrepentant smirk.
“OK, now there is proof of the *way* too long in Spike’s company. Not that that is a bad thing of course, the gay thing I mean… and even the vampire and sometimes the lovely dog thing… See! Now you’ve got me with the babbling… Bad Xander!”
“Love you too Wills… Let’s go ey?”
“Oooh see? Right there… Canada is for you, I *told* Giles you would fit in.”
“Wha…? Oh the ‘ey’ – well too much time around Jerry and the boys I guess.” Xander had the decency to blush before they headed for the car, Willow distinctly hearing the “Wonder I didn’t say bollocks or pet” muttered under Xander’s breath and smiled.
As per her previous visit, Xander drove directly home though promised her a tour of the building site in the days to come. What was different was the absence of Spike in the car.
Finally Willow recognised some landmarks indicating their proximity to ‘home’ and could not help but ask, “Why didn’t you?”
“Three dog family now, and besides… on the brink of sunset, so not really something Spike would like to advertise… the change I mean.”
Willow could only answer, “Oh” as they pulled into the drive.
The greeting at the door was reminiscent of a Duchess arriving home. The three dogs lined up dutifully in the hall, father, daughter and son, as the door was opened. Willow knelt and made sure to greet each with equal enthusiasm.
It was only a matter of minutes after she was settled into the guest room and busying herself sorting various gifts that a very real vampire, Spike, leaned casually against her door.
“Spike! I um… sorry about the… but you know your ears… the petting thing… but Poppie and Luka…”
Spike was aware that Xander was in the next room working, so put his human hand to his lips to quiet any further comment, “Stop for a minute pet… ‘s OK. Quite like a good caress any day, from you? Consider it a bonus… Glad you’re here.”
Willow stopped her train of embarrassed thought for long enough to realise there was a much more than casual intent to Spike’s intrusion on her privacy. “Spike? What is it?”
“We’ve had visitors. Boy’s bein’ targeted by a vamp… claims he’s the Master of Calgary. Master my left foot… but that’s neither here nor there… Sommit to do with Sunnydale and all has put ‘im on the radar. Possibly even the pledge. Red? I know you get it… This is about family. *Him*, *his* family, *our* family… Only a matter of time ‘til they figure it. Bloody Hell! Boy’s my all… our all now, and what with his over workin’… don’t want to trouble ‘im. Let’s us fix it if we can. Need to keep ‘im, *them all*… safe.”
Willow had seen Spike vulnerable before, but this was different. This was a father, a lover, a dear friend, needing to protect, and she knew the feeling. Spike, Xander and even the pups to some extent exuded an unintentional magical signature that spoke to her light and dark magic, if another demon or even wiccan were to come close enough they too would feel it.
“Did the vampire who visited here threaten Xander directly?”
“Didn’t have a chance but the couple of packages of bits were meant as a warnin’. Sides Pet we’ve had a couple of other encounters, latest one might’ve been luck o the draw mistaken identity. Hard to tell – they’ve all had dusty endings anyway. Just a bit concerned that it’ll only be a matter o’ time before gets lucky and runs back to his master with news of me or starts targeting us dogs to get at Xan.”
“Outside of us and the covens, who would know your identity as a dog?”
“Bastards at Wolfram ‘n Hart for sure, although they won’t necessarily know I’m here in Calgary. Still all they’d need is a whiff of rumour before they put two an’ two together. Soon as they know I’ve been pledged to Xan… soon as they know bout me kids… no tellin’ what they’ll do, directly or not. For sure the ‘Master of Calgary’ will be in their pockets… so you see my problem. I could take out that jumped up bastard but then everyone’ll know I’m back, natural order of things would be me takin’ over his court to stop any squabblin’ ‘bout power. Then it’d be deal with the devil all over again.”
“Spike could you take him in your dog form? You know go during the day?”
“Me ‘n who’s army pet? Vamps not exactly renowned fer comin’ out to play in the sunshine, so it’d have to be on his turf, in the dark and him at full vamp strength with minions to boot.”
“I see your point. Spike do you trust me?”
“Wouldn’t be havin’ this conversation if I didn’t pet.”
“Then trust me enough to wait a little, I’m here for two weeks this time. It should be enough to at least get some answers.”
The conversation ended with Willow being kissed on the back of the hand in very William circa 1880 style. She had the courtesy to blush profusely before Spike smirked and was given a friendly slap on the arm, before departing.
Before giving in to jetlag, Willow went online writing to the coven, asking that someone (preferably Giles) go to see the Battle Brand again, the progress of negotiating Illyria’s release was still ongoing and could hold some sort of key to ending the dilemma.
The planned fishing trip was brought forward and included anyone onsite wishing to come – also extending to Gracie’s family which was a bonus for all the dogs. As a consequence, Willow too was included.
The shortening days would present quite a dilemma for Xander, as if the camping arrangements were not difficult enough! In the end Willow and Xander would bunk together but opted for a larger ‘family tent’ that included an inner sleeping quarters and outer room for the dogs plus a veranda type arrangement should the weather turn nasty. It matched several of the other family’s tents so no one queried the new purchase on Xander’s part.
When asked if his ‘male friend’ was coming by Carrie, Xander made an excuse that William was away on business. Carrie noted the ‘if only he could’ on the end of the statement and felt for the dedicated young man, it seemed he and his friend had little time to recreate together, though Jerry assured her they were still an item which was encouraging, plus he had the company of his childhood friend Willow and the three dogs.
Spike spent evenings in the tent. It was not all that tedious as the days were filled with supervising the play of Poppie, Libby and Luka as they explored the water and romped in the open spaces while fishing was undertaken. Nights of change found Xander retiring after a respectable period of time socializing with the workmates and friends, only to *very* quietly but no less enthusiastically make love to Spike in the sleeping section of the tent – Willow discretely choosing to chat for longer and join them at an appropriate time. She was thankful for their magical signature, their coupling augmenting the same to extreme levels so it was easy to pick the timing.
Three days of relaxation and convivial company did wonders for all the campers and they packed up on the third afternoon, tired but happy.
It was still daylight as they drove home and despite Luka’s car sickness (alleviated by an open window and the young husky ‘airing’ his face in the near freezing air) the trip was uneventful.
The only problem for the returning Xander and family was the ‘greeting party’ waiting as they pulled into the drive, Spike’s change was still an hour or so off.
Willow swiftly threw a ward over the RV but the numbers of vampires lurking was worrying.
Spike could feel the prickle, the self acclaimed Master of Calgary was not there, but close by. Xander made to exit the car but was staid by a cool pale muzzle and a low growl that said, “This is my fight pet. Leave them to me.”
“I’m not just sitting here and watching you dust Spike! Plenty of whittling done over the last three days – Willow can you reach the bag?”
“Got it. Here. But Xan there’s more than you can handle!”
“Spike’s with me, just keep the pups safe, and get them inside yeah?”
Spike barely heard the “No, this is my fight too,” as he opened the door of the vehicle.
Almost effortlessly, Xander dusted three with his intricately decorated whittled stake while Spike launched himself at a hapless fourth and tore his neck out then removed the head in a flurry of blood then dust before an almighty blast of power flattened both defenders and immolated the remaining twenty or so minions milling around.
Willow shrugged off her black eyes and hair, and directed Poppie and Luka inside rather than follow their natural instinct to sprint forward to assist their father.
Once the family was safely ensconced inside, Xander calmly walked out onto the front lawn, casually petted Spike who was at heel and sniffing the air purposefully. Xander said, ”Master here?” under his breath and received a slight nod with Spike pointing his nose very specifically to a group of bushes to Xander’s left.
“You can come out now, you coward.” Xander and Spike both retreated to the safety of the house before a rather slighter figure than any of the minions stepped from the cover of near darkness into the shade thrown by the next door house declaring, “Behold the Master of The Vampyres of Calgary. A very impressive display for a human, nothing I wouldn’t expect from the Sunnydale Scoobie and a she witch *Willow* but I didn’t anticipate your dog being so well trained.”
Simultaneously Willow and Xander, from the safety of the house both exclaimed, “Andrew?!” before both Spike and Xander audibly growled. But Spike knew to push the advantage of surprise (and his age). He left Xander’s side and flew at the self proclaimed Master, flinging him to the ground within inches of the waning sunlight, and held the master fast by the neck before growling. “Surprise.” Not that Andrew understood ‘dog’.
Xander was fast on scene and turned to pin Andrew even harder with a half nelson, Spike’s teeth grazing the neck but never leaving, and biting down harder to still any struggle. The ever mouthy Andrew began (as best he could given that his face was now pressed into the concrete of the driveway), “They said you were ‘out of the picture’, but still active man and worth going after.”
Xander looked to Willow who had warded the house and ordered the children to stay before she joined the scene, “And who are ‘they’ Andrew? Hmmm? The wizards?... C’mon you can do better than that.”
“Well, I have my sources, Master As I Am. So back off she witch, I am death I am…” He was cut off by a particularly hurtful increase in the power of the bite around his neck.
It was Xander who played the advantage as Willow motioned that there were no more vampires around, “…Master in your own lunch box? My dog can and will tear your head off – but all in good time. So how’s about you mention a few names whilst we all wait, a little more explanation too, if you don’t mind. Why bother with me? I’m an upstanding citizen minding my own business. Who put you up to this?”
“I’d… I’d rather not say… By the way, with Willow here, can Vampire’s dust if they’re skinned? because that seems sort of unfair… they didn’t tell me about she who is all powerful being here… and Owww, you’re hurting my arm…”
“Still waiting for a straight answer.”
“Well… I was with one of the new slayers and we were training, but there was that thing with the abandoned church… and well, the vampyre was beautiful, seductive even, a Siren… I’m not sure what happened exactly, but it was just like out of the Queen of the Night or Lost Boys – very cool movies by the way, you should watch them sometime.” His neck was squeezed even tighter. “Owww!”
Willow spoke low and slow, “Just the Cliff notes Andrew. We want names and facts. Now… Who told you about Xander?” Willow’s foot came down to slam Andrew’s head hard against the concrete, Spike changed his bite and crushed a little further, and Xander pushed the near dislocated arm further up the ‘Master’s’ back.
“Wolfram and Hart, London Branch. She… she was named Estelle… She said if I could… Can I get up because this is really hurting?!”
Spike growled low, despite having a mouthful of vampire and threateded to pulle the vampire further toward the sun. Andrew was still in human guise, his demon sensing more magical power than it had anticipated when launching the attack.
“Reasons. Andrew. Or did you forget the question?”
“I… don’t know she just said I just had to ‘take out’ all the original Sunnydale group, the ones I knew but… Owww!” Xander’s knee was now firmly planted on the small of the vampire Andrew’s back. “That’s so unfair! She said I would be all powerful… better than a watcher, which by the way was a very hard thing to prove since I had… Anyway you saw me in Italy. This way I got my own apartment and ‘minions’ and a protection racket and get to be all big bad like Spike, and how cool is… Gahhhhhh! Alright, just stop with the… She said all I had to do is get Xander and then the city was mine.”
Spike contemplated this for a moment before scraping extended canines against the pinned vampire’s neck. With Andrew at the helm and not aware of Spike the Master’s real presence then there was a chance to bargain.
Xander understood as did Willow, better a foe that was known than to leave a power void or bring master vampire Spike to the attention of Wolfram and Hart.
Xander was the first to articulate that which they all knew, “I should dust you now you know… but honestly? Can’t be bothered. Are we still warded Willow?”
A simple nod left Spike and Xander to make the call. Xander simply said “Release him, I have what I need.” And with that Spike released as did Xander and Willow, Xander lifting and kicking the ‘Master’ back into the shadows from where he emerged.
It was then Andrew’s demon came to the fore. In game face he turned and snarled, “You’ve won this time, Sunnydale Xander, but I would watch those dogs of yours it might still be daylight but the night is mine.” Andrew tried for a menacing laugh but merely managed a rather annoying giggle before skulking off in the shadows