rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,
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The Stray #29

Title: The Stray
Pairing: S/X
Rating: NC/17
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



PART 29

Spike’s change was mere minutes after Andrew departed. “Well that was a surprise. Not the fact the nit was turned, just I can’t imagine any self respecting vamp wanting to Sire him as a Master. Master of the Annoying. Bet the bastard still plays ‘I Spy’ with his minions ‘n make’s ‘em wear Star Trek pyjamas to bed.”

Xander and Willow both giggled, before Xander added, “And gives lectures for hunting using a whiteboard.” He smiled but sobered quickly, “Spike… Do you know this Estelle? I mean she must be pretty powerful if Wolfram and Hart are using her?”

“Last I heard, ol’ balmy Charlie was the Master of London. Have been out of the loop for a time though. When Angel ‘n I visited Drogan it was hardly a meet the family affair in London, we landed the jet at Gatwick, got the car and Bob’s your aunty. Reckon this Estelle bird’s come from elsewhere ‘n in Wolfram ‘n bloody Hart’s employ.”

Willow looked a little puzzled so Spike continued, “Vamp 101 Pet, so long as she’s old enough ‘n got some backing mojo (not to mention as loopy as Dru) she’d be a right candidate for the job. Just like ‘em to pick a Watcher to turn, figure they did their homework. Andrew knows all the Sunnydale crew. Best get on the blower Pet, your lot over there, along with Buffy and co. deserve to know.”

“They wouldn’t attack the one Slayer who defeated the First’s army surely? And not while she’s with the Immortal?”

Spike growled at the mention of Buffy’s chosen partner before continuing, “Immortal’s in their pockets too – so I reckon she’s safe… but Giles and the others, better they be warned.”

Willow nodded, “I’ll Email tonight. Battle Brand as well.”

Spike looked incredulous, “He’s *online*??!”

Willow smiled indulgently, “Well, you were even as a dog! It’s not like he’s got his own MySpace or anything.”

Spike’s response was a wicked grin and made before he headed out to tend to the still rattled Poppie and Luka, “Xander has.”

Willow grinned knowingly then swiftly searched for Xanman, Scoobies, and various other combinations, eventually coming up with Xanman_Alta1 that contained a basic (complimentary) profile and various photos from the Milk Run plus a couple of manipulations that made even Willow blush.

She would mention it to Spike ‘later’. For now it was a Google search for “The Master of Calgary”, and as expected Andrew was all over the ‘Net’. MySpace, FaceBook, youTube, even his own website!

Willow also searched for Xander, several references logged back to Andrew’s own site, and with a location reference and a “Call to arms against dogs of the ‘dark’” online for any Calgary based… ‘vampyres’.

Willow emailed the Battle Brand with an urgent message, “*Your* only family at risk… Call in the favour.”

The children had been bathed by both Xander and Spike then settled, Luka needing extra time in front of the fire in his father’s lap. Poppie chose to sit by Master, who petted her until her fur was dry. The well known film of Balto was playing as they relaxed until witch Willow joined them.

Xander eased Poppie down to the floor to join her father and wierily joined Willow in the kitchen.

“Cheese toasties OK with you, ‘cause I’m beat.”

Willow smiled and made for the fridge, “Team effort then? You got the toaster, here’s me, ingredients gal. Fire away with the orders head chef.”

Xander went to smile but a tear escaped first, immediately melting Willow’s resolve as she too shed a tear.

“Oh Sweetie… I… I… can we just…”

The nod from Xander was one of thanks as they silently ate without a word, followed up by carrying cups of tea into the lounge to join the now sleeping Poppie and Luka and a thoughtful Spike.

Spike rose from his position of comforting his children on the floor, “So, you’ve had your time. Care to fill a lad in… ‘cause threats to family ain’t exactly taken lightly.”

Willow had the courtesy to look remorseful, “I should have let you…”

“Don’t sweat it Pet… Heard the lot… just spill.”

“He… he said they would be made… the two with you… the ones that constantly take of you… He said they would be made human, Illyria is involved… I will tell you more when I know more.”

“Fabulous Red… But if you don’t mind, would rather leave the children at bay.” Spike’s voice dropped low, “Don’t care what they *are* girl an’ boy ’re mine… Like Xan… Won’t put them at risk for my benefit.”

Two days later and a fortnight before Willow’s departure the news from the Battle Brand Connor was a welcome and unexpected shift.

Illyria had been very reluctantly freed from her Wolfram & Hart confines, on agreement that balance was more important than her individual power. Spike had felt the pull, as did Willow, and willingly added to the cause.

Illyria was apparently to be released on the full moon with a bargain that would forever mark her as the jurisdiction of the Powers rather than the Senior Partners. But Connor had not forgotten his stricken relative in the exchange.

With the Battle Brand’s help, negotiations included that Spike’s current state would be made permanent with the possibility that any children residing with him would also be able change, tied to the curse/blessing of changeling status.

“What’s the catch Red?”

“Why would there be a catch?”

“’Cause there always is… now spill.”

“Spike they will change like you, but you also need to feed them your blood, to seal the deal as it were. They need to be…”

Spike’s demeanour went dark, “If I turn them their souls would be… No! Not havin’ Hell Hounds on my watch!”

Willow was frantic, “Spike wait… Wait ‘til the Battle Brand confirms it but I’m sure he wouldn’t have sanctioned it if... The children will retain their souls, I’m sure. It has to be part of the deal, dark and light, balance, that sort of thing. The first step is to allow them to change as well.”

“What?!! You mean the lot get to be human?”

“Yes. Well not all your children, just the two here… Poppie and Luka… to protect them. Andrew is not smart enough to realize you have more that are just as important to you I know – but at least that means they’re in no danger.”

“Danger meaning what? And if it’s only about that prat then forget it.”

“Spike it will protect you all. And if you turn them later, then their souls’ will stay put…”

“’N what about the boy? Do I need to turn him too? Come on Luv this is gettin’ complicated even for me.”

“I don’t know about Xander, the pledge, that sort of thing but… Spike we need to keep the children safe, don’t you agree? If Andrew can’t find the dogs at night, then he can’t do anything about them to hurt Xander. Sweetie I still need to go home next week. Let’s just do this.”

Spike, was still desperately worried, knowing the dramatic downturn his own change had brought, but dutifully led his two children onto the familial mat beside Xander’s bed and curled up beside them.

The three lay together as Willow, and across the world, the Battle Brand, began to chant. It was not so much a spell as a call for Illyria to deliver on her promise to Spike.

A very anxious Xander was conscious of another essence in the room, not just the magic of the coven, but an older, stronger feeling.

Spike howled a long wolf-like sound and was joined by his pledge’s growl as three forms including the two innocents endured the nightly change Spike had experienced for more than three years.

But that was only the physical.

Spike took a moment to adjust then stared at the human form of his a sixteen year old daughter. In his presence was a strikingly beautiful young blonde woman on her hands and knees staring at him with an expression of wonder, fear and love. He knelt and lifted her human chin to bring their eyes to the same level, then pulled her into a close hug.

She was slim and as pale blue eyed as in her dog form, plus obviously fearful of her change, though understood it in a way far better than her little brother who was but a metre away, lying in a foetal position, whimpering.

Xander and Willow realised with wonder that the little lad was giving them a near perfect picture of Spike, of William, as a boy the same age. Blonde curls, blue eyes and an elven, beautiful face. It was the human son Spike had always wanted but never had until now, though Luka in his husky form had brought great joy also.

Willow stayed Xander who was about to assist, forcing him to wait patiently as Spike kissed his daughter on the temple then pulled both she and the small almost seven year old boy into his lap and began to rock them both, all the time crooning baritone sweet nothings and letting his own tears fall.

Still holding Xander at bay, Willow cast a secondary spell to add to that of the Battle Brand and Illyria. It gave a voice and the ability to articulate in English to Spike’s two temporarily changed children.

Poppie was the first to speak, staring at him with begging eyes, “Papa! Please… I’m cold… Luka?… My fur?... Papa… Please? Why?”

“Keepin’ you safe luv… shhhh just keepin’ you safe… Lean on me, that’s it… Just lean on me… Master is here… we’re all safe…”

Luka was crying quietly as Spike pulled the two even closer and shot a begging look in Xander’s direction while opening his wrist to his changed daughter.

To the human’s credit, a still stunned Xander ran to the lounge and grabbed the soft cashmere throw rug, and belatedly tugged the fake-fur blanket from Willow’s temporary bed on the way past, tossing both (the latter fur side down) over the two youngsters and their father. The former Scoobie then sat as close as possible to Spike’s right side, tucking the blankets even tighter around them all, his own warmth lending itself to the changelings.

It was almost half an hour before all were resting comfortably and Luka said his first words, muffled by his position on Spike’s chest. “Papa?...”

“Yes, dear love?”

“Why do we change like you? Why does Master not change?”

Spike cuddled the boy close, opened his wrist and said as the boy drank familial vampire blood instinctively, “Master may do in time, but for now, dear heart, you are my son, my favourite boy, and we are all in danger. This way you will be stronger, but it is not forever. Just until sunrise… just until sunrise each day.”

Spike opened both wrists and was thrilled by the sensation of his children drinking of him prompting a full blast of love flow through the pledge link causing both Xander and Willow to swoon a little.

Spike lifted Luka fully into his lap and let Xander take of his wrist as Poppie dropped away and fell asleep against her father.

Spike let his gaze drift to the witch who was sitting exhausted against the far wall, “So every night until the next full moon? What about after?”

“The children will change nightly with you, the Battle Brand has negotiated it.”

“Knew the boy was good for somethin’…” Spike paused long enough for Willow to see the tears threatening again in azure eyes.

“I’m fairly certain he was keen to keep family safe too. You and he are sort of brothers aren’t you?”

“That’s what he said… Sire… just before… But Xan?”

“Is tied to you all... for all time. Battle Brand confirmed it. You and he, and they, will grow old together.”

“That doggy time or my time or human time, luv?”

“I don’t know, just that all you’re essences - vampires and dogs and souls are all tied to Xander’s.”

At that moment Luka stared up at his father with pretty blue eyes that matched his father’s, and slowly pulled off the wrist. “Papa?”

Spike immediately shifted his attention, “Yes darling heart?”

“Why crying?” A small hand tentatively reached from under the rug and brushed away a tear that Spike had not even registered flowing.

“I’m just so happy you are well… just so happy. My beautiful boy… always, my beautiful boy. Hush now…” Spike kissed the pale forehead and brushed an unruly lock back before cuddling the young human boy to his chest.

It seemed enough for the youngster who, like his sister, fell asleep almost immediately.

Xander leaned over and wiped away another tear from Spike’s cheek before drawing him into a chaste kiss – somewhat awkward with the lap of children, but nonetheless gentle and loving.

The family were again dogs the following day, but the rise of the moon and the sunset brought a far more relaxed picture.

Spike had engineered the event so that both children were in the bathroom as the change came, bath at the ready, and gently lifted each nude form into the warm suds to sit opposite each other, their father at the side ready with sea sponge and bottle of shampoo.

Luka was a little over excited by his change this time and splashed with delight (and not a small measure of mischief) as soon as placed in the warm liquid.

Poppie protested loudly as her long locks were drenched, so was more than relieved when Master entered the room.

“Oh Geez, Sit!” The command was directed at Luka but obeyed by all, though Xander shot a rather bemused apologetic look to Spike who had also done as told (with not a small measure of incredulity from Xander).

Nevertheless Xander pressed the issue, “Master says that you will be bathed, but there is to be *no* shenanigans… got it? Now heed your father… Please?”

An already very wet Spike moved from the side of the bathtub and in an overly theatrical gesture, leant against Xander’s leg in a loving gesture as he would when in dog form. The act would have been repelled but for the (somewhat) thankful look in Spike’s eyes.

Xander continued his Master of the house guise, “Good. Now wash and dry and dress. We’re having visitors...”

Spike looked quizzically at Xander then realised the pause was causing concern for Poppie so added, “Anon… No arguments and you two - best behaviour. Willow has provided your clothes.”

Indeed Willow had done a fine job at shopping for the two, Poppie eventually dressed in a pretty white fitted shirt and dark blue jeans, and Luka similarly shirt and pants, though at Spike’s insistence the pants were only knee length. The “Not old enough for long pants is ‘e.” greeted with a knowing smile from both witch and human. Spike was ever a product of his generation despite all protests to the contrary.

What had not been anticipated, was the very real difficulty the two had standing and walking on only their second night in human form. Those skills would take education to master but there was no time. In the end, they were dried with fluffy towels and assisted to dress, before Spike carried each one in turn to the lounge, settling them, bolstered a little by cushions, on the large settee.

Jerry, Carrie and the boys arrived around seven as planned, as did several other of the crew, along with Gracie and Russell. They were introduced to the children as William’s relatives and all assumed they had arrived with Willow from England. Luckily for the changelings, there was little need to interact whilst adults talked shop and whatever else.

The story was made all the more plausible as both Poppie and Luka had perfect upper class English accents, like their ‘uncle’. Luka immediately scooted onto the floor to join Jerry’s two and their dog (in true life his sister!) to play a game of first ‘magnetic marbles’, then something, as it turned out, he was rather good at, a matching game the boys had brought along with them. The youngster had mastered his changed hands and was soon flipping the thick cards with dexterity and an uncanny ability for remembering the positions of all the pictures (much to the twin’s dismay and passing respect).

Meanwhile Gracie and Russell settled themselves with Poppie who was obviously a little uncomfortable with the goings on outside. The young woman in her real guise had listened to Gracie regarding college on every one of their training runs and visits. She too had an excellent memory and seemed quite comfortable with the company of the two, exchanging ideas about various issues and declined the offer of a root beer.

Gracie grinned at Russell and quietly said “See?! It’s not just me! I hate anything with bubbles.” Gracie received a surreptitious kiss from Russell before he too passed up the offer of a real beer from Jerry, who’d come in to check on the boys.

Dinner was served in a rather haphazard way inside, a platter of food was placed on the coffee table in front of the couch, leaving the ‘oldies’ outside to their buffet. The boys remained on the floor, happy to share tit bits with Libby, eating all the potato wedges then consuming most of the cut up fruit. And, rather remarkably, at no stage were Spike’s children required to stand, walk or show their vulnerability.

Russell took charge of the TV controls as ice cream cones were served to all, and a DVD to Gracie’s approval (Pirates of the Caribbean III) was quickly selected. The three boys were more than happy sitting on the floor in front with Libby (though the enthusiastic tail wagging needed counselling, Luka growling lower than the human hearing with immediate results) and Poppie kept up lively conversation with Gracie about dog racing until the show began.

Gracie was the first to yawn mid-movie and leaned against Russell, Poppie in her pretty black and crimson outfit taking the other end of the couch whilst the sleepy boys and Libby all settled in under an old blanket provided by a grinning Xander.

The presence of Willow and the easy way with which she acted with Xander somehow put everyone at ease, adding to the quiet presence of William who seemed to effortlessly take on the role of host for the evening, serving drinks and making polite conversation, and ensuring everyone was fed whilst keeping an eye on the group in the lounge room.

It was an act not missed by Carrie. Jerry and ‘the work boys’ might have been oblivious to Spike’s hard work but she slipped away from the crowd to join Spike (William) in the kitchen as he stacked the dishwasher ready for the next load.

“You’re good for him you know. And to put up with the hours they keep lately…”

Spike turned to see Carrie with yet another set of plates and utensils ready for washing, “Umm yeah… thanks… just put them over there would you, taa.” He stopped before familiarity bred contempt, and indicated a space on the kitchen bench.

“Oh Please… I know how hard it is…The night’s been terrific… Not least because I didn’t have to stay home for a change!”

Spike gave in to old habits and genuine sentiment, “You an’ me both Pet. Your boys are a delight, must be very proud.”

Carrie peaked in at the lounge – all three young boys were propped up on elbows entranced by the footage on the widescreen, Libby doing her best to watch also. “They are my pride ‘n joy.”

Spike smiled at her with compassion beyond what she perceived his years, “No doubt about that.”

Carrie interpreted the comment as to do with the niece and nephew, and gave a knowing nod, “Family is always that little bit more special… isn’t it.”

All in all, the night was a roaring success. The stragglers left at around midnight. Poppie and Luka were both asleep in bed (courtesy of Spike) by the time the guests left, the excuse of ‘jet lag no doubt’ accepted easily.

………………………

The following evening was quite a different occasion. The children had been for their run and visit with Gracie in their dog forms, so were relaxed and almost happy when the change came with their father’s.

Xander had hired a Zimmer Frame for the children to practice their walking with from the same establishment that he had sourced the writing tools for Spike in dog form.

There was no need for a therapist as Willow and Spike gently worked with the children in the evenings after dinner, easing up each child in turn and encouraging them to balance and step forward with the support of the frame. If they were ever to truly pass as human, walking and even running were vital skills, as was learning to read, though Spike was far more confident that *that* was something they might pick up in either form with his assistance and appropriate material.

On the eve of Willow’s departure the decision was made to take the children out for dinner. Their walking was still an issue but covered up by ‘William’ carrying Luka piggy back style and Poppie steadied by Willow on one arm and Xander on the other. It was their usual outdoor haunt and the two children had been there in their dog form so were quiet excited to be sitting at the table rather than beside it.

As planned David and Chris joined them, Poppie blushed profusely as David complimented her on her “gorgeous blonde curls” insisting that “William you simply *must* bring them both by the salon for a complimentary style. And you my dear Poppie will have *all* the boys simply drooling over you at school.”

Poppie looked a little worried at that reference. How would she ever go to a regular school? She trained with Gracie during the day and though Willow had talked of studying with a coven just outside Calgary her father had insisted that home schooling would be more appropriate until the two were older.

The talk of age had other implications. If the two aged in dog years as seemed the case then she would be turning twenty one in a year’s time. And she had so looked forward to having a litter of pups one day but the logistics of that seemed insurmountable. She kept her worries to herself but resolved to have a quiet talk with Willow before she left. Perhaps the Battle Brand would be able to shed some light on the situation.

The evening was a delight, both children eating more ice cream cake than Xander thought possible. Ostensibly it was to celebrate Willow’s departure but Xander announced that it was also for the children’s birthdays that had been missed.

Returning home Spike hurried the children inside. He literally smelled a rat. Sure enough the decapitated creature was found in the letter box along with a note. “We will have your animals ratted out too once the witch is gone. Then you won’t be so cocky with the stake. Master of Calgary.”

</lj-cut)
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