Title: Puppy School
Chapter Rating: PG
Part of The Spander FanFic Request List
AN: Anya left to join the circus, or moved to Bora Bora, or got eaten by a giant bunny, you pick.
AN2: Also, this is so unbeta'd it's the anti-beta.
Xander looked down at the thing currently trying to gnaw its way through his only pair of good shoes and tried to remember what it was he'd done to piss off a witch with a crappy sense of humour. Coming up with nothing he pulled a face at the eyes that stared guilelessly up at him. Noting the state of his right shoe he sighed and handed over the left - there was nothing to be done for them now anyway.
"Who knew you guys could do Resolve Face?" He said sometime later as he observed a pair of sleepy but satisfied eyes finally close.
Crawling into a bed that was suddenly half the size it normally was Xander was surprised to find himself lulled to sleep by the rhythmic breathing that gusted past his ear.
Waking up was never a pleasant experience, the brunette decided. Unless, of course, you were waking up to find scantily clad supermodels in bed with you. Turning his head he blinked to see if a miracle in supermodel shape had happened. Instead he found highly amused eyes staring back at him as though they knew what he'd been thinking. Giving into a childish impulse he stuck out his tongue, and could have sworn he saw the actioned mirrored. Before he had time to dwell on it the phone was shrieking. Groaning he rolled out of bed, answering with more of a grunt than a "hello".
"How can you still be in bed at this time?" A familiar voice asked with a kind laugh.
"It’s my minimum wage duty to sleep in as late as humanly possible whenever I can." He answered lightly as he scrubbed a hand over his face in an effort to finish waking up. "What's up oh witchy friend o'mine?"
"Scooby meeting in an hour." Came the reply.
"An hour? It's only..." He looked at the clock, "Almost six... At night... Right. Hence you with the surprise at me still being in bed. Count me in."
Getting dressed became an exercise in futility; every time he grabbed a shirt it would be snatched out of his hands and hidden. Eventually all he had left was a grey sweater that had hidden in the back of his closet for years. Locking himself in the bathroom just in time to save it too from a fate worse than death he pulled on the almost too tight shirt. Brushing his teeth he absently wondered just how many books Giles had on the phenomenon currently taking up more than its fair share of his bed. Making his way to the door he deliberately ignored the pitiful look aimed at him from the bed and jogged most of the way to the Magic Box.
"Hey G-man, what's up?" He asked as he sauntered over to the heavily book-laden table and flopped down on a convenient chair.
"Puppies!" Came the excited answer from the redhead next to him.
"We're gathered to investigate the evil that is puppies?" He asked with a growing sense of dread.
"What Red meant to say was; pups from hell." Spike said from where he was lounging against the stairs.
The dread grew into a ball of ice in his stomach, "Puppies from hell?" It came out sounding appropriately disbelieving with a side order of amused.
"What I'm sure Spike meant to say was we're looking for any references to Hellhounds." Came Giles' voice from behind the counter.
"Hellhounds? Like three headed giant dogs?" Xander asked, sure to keep his "donut boy" face firmly in place.
"No Xander, that would be Cerberus, guardian to the underworld, these are just garden variety Hellhounds." Half annoyance, half exasperation, all Giles.
"Right. So puppies of doom it is." He said, picking up a book from one of the many piles on the table.
"I don't think it was much of a puppy Giles, it was pretty big." Buffy said as she bounced in from the training room.
"Yes well, regardless of size we really must find out if their presence here is an indication of bigger things to come." The ex-Watcher muttered into his book.
"Which is Giles-speak for 'I smell an apocalypse'." Xander stage whispered to Willow.
Grinning, she wacked him lightly on the arm before turning back to her own book. Focusing his attention on his own he soon found a large section on the Demon of the Day and read quickly, suddenly intrigued.
"Hey guys, I think I found something. Says here Hellhounds breed in litters of two, but the mumma demon kicks the weaker of the two out of the next within the first month... Blah blah oh! They eat..." Here he stopped and couldn't help the puzzled sound from escaping. "Apparently until they mature the puppies of doom are vegetarians, well at least in the demon sense of the word. Only feed on "dead meat", whatever that means. The mum's the only one that eats "live meat". Average life span is... Whoah, two hundred and fifty years. Blah blah and more blah, oh! "The mother is easily distinguishable by the bright red coat that only manifests when she is in the breeding stage of her lifespan while the fur of the pups can vary anywhere from the colour of Inicai lava (see page 257) to black. However, the coats will eventually darken to black as a sign of maturity." Pausing to take a breath he, along with the other Scoobies present, turned to Giles to translate.
"From Buffy's earlier description of the demon I think we can deduce that what she came in contact with was the mother. Based on that I think we can do a quick sweep of the area where she was attacked and then call it a day, I doubt the pups, if there are any, will last long without the mother to hunt for them."
The last sentence had barely left the ex-librarians lips before they were up and moving, working out who was patrolling where on their way out the door.
Under the pretence of going back for the backpack he'd brought with him and deliberately left behind, Xander ducked back into the store, quickly grabbing up the book he'd been reading from and stuffing it in his bag before taking off at a trot to catch up, making sure the door latch caught on his way out.
Dropping his bag on the bed Xander flopped onto it with a groan. He'd never realised that knowledge was so heavy, but he could have sworn the book seemed to weight more every minute. Looking accusingly to the eyes that were currently fixed on him he huffed and pulled out the other thing he'd had to get before he could come home.
Padding into the kitchen he grabbed a plate from the cupboard and slapped the chunk of meat onto it before putting it on the floor. Glaring that the thing that looked distinctly like an overenthusiastic puppy - if puppies were the size of German Sheppards - he ran a hand through his hair.
"I don't make a habit of lying to my friends, you know." He said, smiling slightly when pointed ears twitched at the sound of his voice.
"No, finish your dinner." He waved the pup back to its plate when it looked up curiously.
Dragging his feet back into what counted as the bedroom he slumped on the bed, "We found your brother, or sister, couldn't tell. Some demon had... gotten there before us. I'm sorry."
Xander had to wonder whether the pup heard him when it jumped onto the bed and nestled its head in his lap. Absently he stroked behind its ears.
"Giles says you’re dangerous, you know." He got a soft whine for that, "It's ok, I won't tell them anything, but I'm going to need to get a better job if I need to keep you in meat and me in Count Chocula."
"Interesting fact missing from the book you took from the Watcher, whelp." The voice came from the doorway and he yelped, shooting to his feet.
"Wha- this isn- I mean - what're you doing here?" He finally decided on.
The blonde vampire smirked, trademark eyebrow going up, "Tangled with a hellhound back in the '20's. Strange thing about the pups; they've got no scent. Some mojo designed to hide them."
"Hellhound?" Xander asked weakly, already trying to find a way out of the situation.
"Normally," the vampire continued, "you lot smell so... distinctive. You, for instance, smell like sunshine and cinnamon. But earlier, I could only catch the barest hint of it. Now that made me think, either Red got you a pretty fancy perfume for your birthday, or the way your heart rate picked up when we started talking about the little beasties had less to do with chocolate withdrawals, and more to do with... trepidation."
Again that damn eyebrow, and the brunette had a sudden desire to see whether the other man would still manage to look so damn cocky if he shaved it off. A heavy growl rumbled through the air and he turned to find the puppy that had so recently been lying complacently standing in front of him, hackles raised and looking more than a little scary.
"Call off the watch dog, Harris." For some reason the demand pissed him off, and the growl got more menacing.
There was a flash of something in blue eyes, but Spike's posture stayed determinedly relaxed, "Tell the mutt to back off."
"I can't order it to do anything, Spike." He said eventually.
"Try." The tense word belied the casual stance.
"Hey," Xander said quietly to the agitated dog beside him. Seeing a twitch of the ear he continued, "Come on and sit down, Spike's not going to hurt you."
Figuring that leading by example might work he very deliberately walked over to the bed and sat casually, nodding to the space beside him. He couldn’t stop the chuckle that bubbled up when the puppy crawled onto the bed, and promptly spread out so there was no way Spike would fit. The vampire just snorted and moved to sprawl on the hideous orange sofa.
The hell-puppy beside him yipped and Xander turned to look at it for a moment, seeming to decide something, “What do you want, Spike?”
“A story.” He had expected demand of blood, cigarettes and whiskey. He’d expected a blatant order for hush money. He sure as hell hadn’t expected a request for a fairy tale.
“Once upon a time...” He began sarcastically, stopping at the half-growl he got in response.
He heard the growl returned from the dog – demon – beside him, automatically reaching out to smooth the hair behind its ears in a soothing gesture.
“Want to know how you came to play mum to Fido there.” The blonde said.
“Its name isn’t Fido.” The name irritated Xander for some reason.
“Well what else am I going to call the mutt?” Damn vampires with their logic.
“Doomsday.” It was the first name that came to mind, but it got a tail wag, so he counted that as agreement.
"Right. Still doesn't answer the original question I asked though, does it?" The brunette couldn't help the snort; Spike demanded, snarled, interrogated, threatened, whined - though he wouldn't admit it - and more, but he certainly didn't just ask questions.
"Ok. Well, I was walking home after patrol with the witchy duo and my Scooby senses - which are kind of like Spider Senses, but they don't have trademark problems - started tap dancing on my head when I walked passed this alley. I know, not too smart to go investigating allies, and I didn't, just stood at the front of it and had a look in. Couldn't see anything, but next thing I know this little guy -"
"Girl, Harris." Spike piped up.
"Your pup is a puppette, whelp." Xander was starting to think it was impossible for the vampire to talk without that stupid eyebrow going up at least once a minute.
"Right, ok, whatever. Next thing I know Doomsday is limping out at me and giving me the biggest puppy eyes known to man, I tell you, Willow's got nothing on her. Looked like some demon had gotten there before me and tried to make her into kibble."
Suddenly Spike piped up, "Harris, for all that it looks harmless, the pup there is a hellhound. As in demon. Why didn't you do what you Scoobies do best and kill the beastie?"
That stumped him for a moment. By all rights he should have killed her, or at least ignored her. Looking down into bright red eyes he was surprised by how much they calmed him, gave him a sense of purpose. He shrugged half-heartedly, not really having an answer for the sense of family and love he got from the supposedly evil demon curled up contentedly on his bed, soothing the raw wound left behind by Anya's departure.
"So what, she followed you home, and you kept her?" Again the vampire spoke and the brunette laughed at just how accurate that description of the events following Doomsday's finding was.
"Pretty much, actually." He said around the laughter, remembering the sound of paws on concrete; pad, pad, pad, pause, whine, pad.
Spike looked completely gobsmacked, his mouth hanging slightly open and cigarette half way to his mouth. Blue eyes flicked from him to the puppy and back again. A choked off laugh burbled out, and suddenly the vampire was almost falling off the couch laughing the words "demon magnet" and "only you whelp" vaguely distinguishable.
"Do you have any idea - no of course you don't." The man sitting on his sofa muttered mostly to himself.
Suddenly he sat up and reminded Xander of Giles in Watcher mode, "Hellhounds do one of two things with humans, eat them or ignore them."
Looking at the puppy that had been moving slowly across the space between them until she was curled up almost entirely in his lap the Scooby raised his eyebrows disbelievingly.
"So what, she didn't get the memo or something?" He asked, confused.
"Sort of yeah. Looks like she was a little confused and instead of trying to eat you she bonded with you. Congratulations Harris, you're a mum." There was only one response to a statement like that.
Apparently being a parent to a puppy from hell was almost as hard as being a parent to an actual baby. Doomsday quickly adjusted to living with Xander, but she was as boisterous as a five year old. At least she was up until two days ago. The brunette was busy pacing in front of the bed where his dog lay, looking at him with slightly glazed eyes, when Spike sauntered in.
Taking in the scene the vampire raised an eyebrow before he even started speaking, "What's got your knickers in a knot, mate?"
Being the only one who knew about Xander's secret parenthood had meant that - surprisingly - Spike had an open invitation to the basement.
"Something's wrong with Doomsday, and I can't figure it out." The man said, about ready to pull out his hair in frustration.
"Hmm, right then, sit down." The blonde sprawled on what had pretty much become his chair and looked from pup to whelp and back again.
"What've you been feeding her then?" Not that he'd admit it, but since he'd discovered Harris' secret he'd done more than his fair share of research.
"Meat from the butchers." The despondent man said, flopping down on the bed beside Doomsday and running a hand through her short fur.
"That's it?" The disapproval in the normally snarky voice made Xander look up, confused.
"The books said dead meat..." He trailed off seeing a familiar look on Spike's face, the one that said "you're a few cards shy of a full deck, aren't you?".
"Dead yeah, but what you've been feeding her is the equivalent of you living on bread and water." That little tid-bit of knowledge had been in the latest book he'd acquired. "She needs fresh dead meat mate, not week old cow."
The brunette could almost feel the comprehension spread across his face. Looking into tired red eyes he apologised softly before getting up and tugging on his boots.
"Right then, I guess it's a-hunting we go." Xander said determinedly.
It seemed that while Doomsday had no desire to attack Spike, in fact she was apathetic around him at best, other vampires were puppy chow. Because they were already dead she seemed to find them fair game, and the exercise was doing wonders for the puppy.
Xander and Spike were also fast becoming friends. The insults flying between them losing their bite and becoming something that could almost be called "friendly banter". It also seemed that Doomsday grew twice as fast every day.
"You're going to need a bigger place soon, mate." The British vampire observed one day as he watched the not-so-puppyish puppy flop on the bed with contented noises, "And a bigger bed."
"Yeah I know. I'm actually planning to go house hunting next Saturday; this new job is pretty stable." The brunette was in a similar position, stretched out on his back looking at the ceiling, his face calm.
Spike figured now was as good a time as any to bring up the observation that had been niggling at him for a few weeks, "Haven't seen the girls around lately."
He watched broad shoulder tense slightly, "They've been busy doing the school thing."
The reply was light but Spike could almost taste the undercurrents. He'd been watching the boy fade away at Scooby meetings and patrols, seen perfectly good ideas discarded and Xander shrink even further into himself. In fact, the only time he saw the brunette act like himself was around the hellpup. Making a noncommittal sound the vampire turned his attention back to the television.
The following Saturday found an excited Xander banging on the door of Spike's crypt. Grinning almost from ear to ear he barely waited long enough to here the acknowledgement from the other side before hurrying in, closing the door firmly behind himself.
"It's perfect, Spike! And it's mine!" He said, practically dancing on the spot.
"Take it the flat hunting went well then?" The bemused vampire asked mildly, eyebrow raised.
"You have to come and see!" This time the brunette really did bounce.
"Big yellow thing in the sky ring a bell?" Spike asked, chuckling. Seeing the other man's face fall he hurried on, "Why don't you get the girls to see it and I'll come over tonight?"
Surprisingly that only dampened the previously energetic Scooby's mood even more and he moved to sit on the couch, subdued. "They um... They're still doing the school thing, really busy with assignments and all that gross academic stuff."
The blonde made another noncommittal sound, not willing to upset the boy and wondering when he'd started caring if he offended anyone, let alone the mortal sitting beside him. "Don't suppose the place has sewer access?"
Again Xander brightened, and Spike was starting to get whiplash from his mood swings, "Actually it does. It's on the corner of O'Malley and Clifford."
"Isn't that a warehouse?" The vampire's memory of that part of town wasn't amazing, but he still had a fair idea where he was going.
"They converted the top floor into an apartment. Two bedrooms, bath, the whole nine yards." Suddenly Xander quieted, looking slightly nervous, "Hey Spike?"
Wary he only raised an eyebrow.
"Well I was thinking. Because you're a vampire and all the whole entry by invitation only doesn't really apply to here and I've got a spare room and Doomsday is starting to really like you and I -"
"Harris! Just spit it out." He had some idea of where the brunette was going, but he wasn't about to misunderstand.
"Well, I've got a spare bedroom, so did you wanna move in?" Xander blew out a breath and wondered why it was so hard to ask the vampire that was starting to become a surprisingly good friend something so simple.
"That depends." The young man's heart sank inexplicitly, "You got cable?"
The bounce was back, "Yup!"
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