Oh, well. For those of you (all two or three of you) who have been breathlessly awaiting part 2 of It's a Dog's Life, here it is.
*wide rider I haven't forgotten your request. it's next, promise*
It’s A Dog’s Life – part 2
Joyce Summers was fixing supper and trying not to worry about her daughter. Sometimes, not often, she wished she was still in the dark about Buffy’s destiny. Life had been much simpler then. Joyce sighed. Simpler, yes, but at least now she and Buffy talked. The back door opened and the object of her thoughts stood in the doorway. “Hi, sweetie.”
Buffy hovered on the porch, eyeing her nervously. Joyce frowned slightly. “What’s wrong? Why are you standing there, come”. Joyce broke off quickly and looked at Buffy in horror.
Buffy hurriedly stepped into the kitchen. “Sorry, Mom, didn’t mean to wig you out, but good catch. Never invite anyone in after dark, even me.” She fidgeted slightly. “Um, I’ve got a little problem and I wondered if some guys could stay here for a couple of hours.”
A dog, a German Sheppard, came through the doorway and nudged Buffy. She looked down. “I told you to wait outside.” She looked back at her mother. “No, not a Slayer problem, but it is a Hellmouthy problem.” She looked back down at the dog and sighed. “Go fetch the others.”
At the word ‘fetch’ the dog gave her an irritated look and a little woof. Buffy clapped her hand over her mouth. “Sorry.” The dog continued to glare. She giggled. “Really, I didn’t mean it like that.” With one last look the dog went out the door.
Joyce had watched the exchange with a puzzled frown. Why was Buffy talking to the dog as if it could really understand her? And surely it must have been her imagination, but the dog had looked irritated. Before Joyce could ask Buffy anything, three puppies tumbled through the doorway, followed by the larger dog.
The first puppy, a Cocker Spaniel, rushed up to Joyce and barked. He sat back on his haunches, tail wagging rapidly, and looked up at her with a happy expression. One of the other puppies, she wasn't sure what breed he was, crossed the room and sat next to the first. The third puppy huddled closer to the big dog and Buffy.
Joyce looked at Buffy, then at the puppies at her feet, then back to Buffy. "This is going to sound strange, but this Cocker Spaniel puppy looks familiar."
Buffy nodded. "This is the Hellmouthy problem I was telling you about. Mom, take a really close look at this guy." She patted the Sheppard on the head. He looked Joyce straight in the eyes and she was startled to notice he had green eyes. Green eyes? She looked back at the puppy at her feet. Soulful brown eyes gazed back at her. She looked back at the larger dog. He cocked his head slightly to one side. A suspicion formed in her tumbling thoughts. "It can't be."
Buffy nodded. "It is."
"Mr. Giles?" The dog gave a soft woof. Joyce looked back at the puppy. "Xander?" He yipped and jumped up, putting his paws on her knees.
"Spooky, everyone figures that's Xander right off. The other two, in case you were wondering, are Oz and Wesley."
"Amy. We're pretty sure it was an accident, but we have to find her and get her to change them back. I need someplace safe for them," she gestured to the puppies, "to stay while we look for her. I hoped you wouldn't mind them being in the basement. Puppies and accidents, you know. We don't know how much of them are in there, although Giles seems to be pretty aware, and Wesley knew Faith."
"It won't be a problem." Joyce looked around the kitchen. "I might be able to fix something for them to eat" she began, but Buffy cut her off.
"No big. We stopped at the store and got food. We just need something to put it in and some water."
Joyce nodded and bent to open a cabinet door. Xander jumped up and licked her face. Giles snapped a sharp bark, and Xander backed away. "It's alright, Mr. Giles, Xander has given me a peck on the cheek before when I've fed him." She pulled out a roasting pan, along with a couple of cake pans. "Will these do?"
Buffy crossed the room to take them. "Perfect, Mom. Okay guys, downstairs." She opened the basement door. Faith and Willow came in carrying two bags of food, one for puppies and one for adult dogs. Everyone went down to the basement and got the dogs settled. Buffy watched Giles sniff at the food and walk away, although he almost emptied the water dish.
"Wow, guess he was thirsty. We should have thought of this before."
"I did look for something in his office, right after it happened, but there wasn't anything I could use." Willow looked a little anxious. "Do you think it hurt them, not having any water for a couple of hours?"
"I'm sure Giles would have let you know if he needed anything," Buffy reassured her. She looked at the two girls. "Well, the guys are safe, time to try and find Amy. I think we should split up. I'll go to her house, Willow you check out the magic store, and Faith you go to the Bronze. We meet back here in an hour, and if we haven't found her by then, we'll discuss where else to search. Okay?"
The other two nodded and headed up the stairs. Buffy gave the puppies one last look and started up as well. Giles moved after her, climbing the steps by her side. "No, you stay here where you'll be safe." He ignored her. She caught him by his ruff. "Giles, I mean it. Stay here." He shook his head, dislodging her hand and hurried up the stairs. Buffy went up a few more steps, until she was level with the green eyes in the dog face. They stared at each other until Buffy gave in. She huffed and finished climbing the stairs. "Okay, you can come, but don't blame me if your paws get sore from following me all over town." She continued to admonish the dog at they left the house.
Joyce, Willow and Faith stood in the kitchen, watching in astonishment. After a couple of minutes Willow gave a little chuckle. “Looks like Giles is getting a little revenge for all the times she wouldn’t do what he wanted her to do.” The others laughed as well, then Willow and Faith left to begin their own search.
After finding that Amy wasn’t at her father’s house, Buffy decided to do a quick sweep of a couple of the nearest cemeteries before going home. The first one was easy, just one newbie that was quickly dispatched. The second cemetery was quite another story. The demons had seemed to come from nowhere, surrounding her before she could react. Giles snarled and sprang, his canine jaw grabbing the nearest demon’s right knee. It screamed and went down, dissolving into a pile of goo.
Buffy spun and kicked; momentarily overwhelmed by the group until she saw Giles attack another one on its right knee cap. Again the demon dissolved. So, the right knee was the weak spot. Good to know. She lashed out with her right foot and slammed it directly into the knee of the demon next to her. It screamed and dissolved. The other demons backed away, trying to put distance between them. Giles ran behind them, snapping and snarling, driving them back towards her. One of the demons kicked, sending Giles flying into a nearby headstone. He yelped, but lay still.
“Giles!” Enraged, Buffy attacked the demons and quickly finished them off. She raced to the still figure. “Giles?” She reached out a trembling hand and touched his head. There was a large lump. He whined, moving his head away. ‘Oh, Giles, not your head again. Do you think you can walk home?” He rose unsteadily to his feet, weaving slightly. “I take that as a ‘No’.”
Buffy crouched down and picked up the dog. He whined again, and struggled in her arms. “Just keep still, it’s not that far. Slayer strength here, remember?” He stopped moving, and Buffy stated walking.
A couple of blocks from her house his head lifted and he started growling. Buffy put him down and checked her surroundings. A figure moved in the shadows. Giles moved in front of her, his growl deepening. The figure moved into the light. “Buffy.”
She relaxed. “Angel.” She started to step forward, but Giles didn’t move. Buffy looked down in surprise. The Sheppard’s fur was standing up on his ruff, and his growl continued. “What is your problem? It’s just Angel.” She stepped to the side and started to move forward. Giles moved, keeping between her and Angel.
“You got a dog?” Angel moved cautiously closer, stopping when the dog snarled, his lips drawing back to show a mouthful of sharp teeth.
Buffy reached down and grabbed the ruff. “Yeah, I’m trying him out on patrol. Seeing if he could give some additional warning against vamps.”
“Looks like it works. He certainly doesn’t like me.”
“Angel, maybe you’d better go. I’ll talk to you later.” Buffy felt Giles’ muscles tense just before he started to lunge towards Angel. She knelt and put her arms around him, holding him still. “Or maybe tomorrow would be better. Just go.”
Angel nodded and walked away, glancing back once to look at her. Giles barked, and tried to go after him. Buffy slapped his rump. “Stop that! I’m so embarrassed. What’s got into you? You know Angel isn’t dangerous.” Giles ignored her, the growl deep in his throat continuing. “Oh, God, you’re losing it. The longer you stay like this, the more like a real dog you become. I’ve got to get you home and find Amy.”
Buffy picked him up again and started back down the sidewalk. Giles lay his head against her arm, a very human look of satisfaction in his green eyes.
Buffy walked into her house, put Giles back on his feet, and looked into the living room. She saw Amy sitting on the sofa between Willow and Faith, the puppies laying quietly around the room. ‘Good going guys, where was she?”
“I found her at the magic shop,” Willow said. “She was looking for ingredients for a spell.”
“The spell to change the guys back? Cool, let’s do it.”
Amy looked at her in panic. “I didn’t do it! Honest! I don’t have that level of power. You have to appeal to some pretty powerful beings to get that level, and I haven’t. I don’t want to be like my Mom.” She glanced at the puppies and back at Giles. “Besides, I like Mr. Giles, he helped me when my Mom did that spell that switched us. I would never do anything to hurt him.”
Willow looked at Buffy. “I believe her.”
“Then why was she looking for spell ingredients?”
Amy blushed. “A love charm, to get Greg back from Harmony.”
Buffy sighed in frustration. “If she didn’t do it,” she looked back at Willow, “and if you didn’t do it, who did?”
Amy started to cry. “I wish,” she was startled when Willow suddenly clamped a hand over her mouth.
“Never say the ‘W’ word. You never know who might be listening.”
Amy pushed her hand away. “The ‘W’ word?”
Willow rolled her eyes. “W-I-S-H.” She sat up in shock. “Earlier, in the library, you started to say I,” she hesitated, “you know, then you stopped.”
Amy frowned as she thought back. “That’s right. I was thinking about Greg and I started to say I W-I-S-H, and I stopped. Then I made that stupid remark about dogs.”
Buffy and Willow exchanged looks. “We need to talk to Anya.”
As if on cue, the front door swung open. “Where’s Xander? He was supposed to meet me at the Bronze over an hour ago. If I was still a vengeance demon he would be in such trouble.” The Cocker Spaniel puppy ran over to her, barking happily. Anya frowned at him. “What’s with the dog?” She stopped abruptly. “Xander?” He barked again, wagging his tail wildly. She glared at Buffy. “Who did this to Xander?”
“We don’t know. We were hoping that you might have some ideas.” Buffy filled her in on the events at the library.
“Well, I didn’t do it. I don’t have that kind of power anymore.” She walked on into the living room, Xander following her closely. “But I know who does.” She looked at Willow. “Do you have any of your supplies here?”
Anya looked frustrated for a moment, then her face cleared. “We can probably find everything we need in the kitchen. Where is it?”
Joyce, who been sitting quietly, got up and led the way. Anya looked through the spice rack. “Not exactly what we need, but close enough.” She spilled a few of the spices together on a saucer, picked up the salt box, and walked back to the living room. She poured the salt out in the shape of a pentagram, and gestured for Willow and Amy to join her. Anya placed a candle in the center of the pentagram and sat at one of the points. Willow and Amy sat at two of the others.
“Will that work, with just the three of you? The pentagram has five points.”
Anya gave her a serious look. “If you want, you and Faith can take the other spots.”
Buffy looked at Faith. She shrugged and moved to sit down. Buffy sat at the last point. Giles moved behind her, laying his head over her shoulder. Wesley, Oz and Xander snuggled next to the other girls. Anya frowned in concentration, then sighed. She started to stand.
“I forgot that I need a match to light the candle.”
“Got it.” Amy waved and the candle lit.
Anya gave her a look, but didn’t say anything. She began to chant in a language that Buffy didn’t understand. Every few seconds she paused to throw a pinch of the spice mixture into the candle’s flame. As she finished the chant she emptied the rest of the spices onto the candle. It flared brightly, then went out in a silent explosion, smoke billowing. When the smoke had cleared, a demon stood in the middle of the pentagram.
Scowling, the demon looked around. “Anyanka. How did I know that you would be involved?”
“D’Hoffryn, I need your help.”
“You know what I told you. You haven’t spent enough time as a human before I will consider taking you back.”
“That’s not what I what.” She gestured to Xander. “Can you tell who did this, and why?”
He frowned at Anya. “You didn’t ask for this?”
“No,” she gestured to the others, “none of us did.”
D’Hoffryn turned in a circle, taking in all the girls and the dogs. He focused on Amy. “There isn’t one for you?”
Anya spoke up before Amy could answer. “She started to make a wish, but stopped. I think someone screwed up.”
D’Hoffryn leaned towards Amy. “May I?”
She blinked nervously, but nodded. He placed a hand on her forehead. There was a brief flash of light, then he drew back. “Sofia!” he bellowed. A girl appeared next to him.
“Yes, Sir?” She looked around in confusion, saw Anya, and blanched.
“You!” Anya spit out.
“Sofia, you took advantage of a wish, a wish that wasn’t even properly voiced, to take personal vengeance against Anyanka.”
Sofia shook her head, trembling. “No, Sir. It was a mistake, just a simple mistake. It wouldn’t have lasted past midnight anyway. They’ll be normal then. No one has been harmed.”
“That is not the point. You did this to cause Anyanka pain, no other reason. I have talked to you about this before. You will get no more chances.”
“No, Sir! Please!”
D’Hoffryn waved his hand and Sofia vanished, her scream hanging in the air.
Joyce asked, in a shaken voice, “What did you do to her?”
“The worst thing I could do. I made her human again, and returned her to the time and place where she was recruited. She will live out the rest of her life, her original life, remembering what she once was and can never be again.”
“You mean like what you did to Anya?” Buffy asked.
“No,” Anya said quietly, “much worse. In a few years, if I want, he might take me back, and he didn’t make me go back to my original life. I would rather be dead than go back to that.” She shuddered.
D’Hoffryn ignored the by-play. “Do you have someplace I can take them?” He gestured to the dogs.
Buffy was instantly on her feet, pushing Giles behind her. “Why?”
“So that I can change them back in private.”
“What’s wrong with doing it right here?”
D’Hoffryn smirked. “Very well, although I didn’t think you would want all of them” he gestured to the others, “to see him naked.”
“Do you see them wearing clothing?”
“But, I thought that the clothes disappeared when they changed and that they would come back when they…”she gestured “poof.”
Willow stood up and went to the far side of the couch. “No, I grabbed all their clothes for safe keeping back in the library. Wes and Xander had started to play tug of war with Wes’ tie.” She handed a bag to D’Hoffryn. “Come on, let’s go in the kitchen.”
The others moved quickly to the other room, but Buffy knelt in front of Giles. “See you in a couple of minutes.” She touched the lump on his head. “And if you’re not feeling any better, I’m taking you to the emergency room.”
D’Hoffryn knelt next to her, frowning. “He was injured while in this form?”
“He insisted on going on patrol with me.” Buffy looked up at him, worried. “It seems that the longer he's been a dog, the more like a real dog he's becoming. He growled at Angel.”
D’Hoffryn smiled and patted her shoulder. “Perhaps, but I will change him back now and you won’t need to worry about that.” He urged Buffy to her feet and gently pushed her towards the kitchen. “And the sooner you leave, the sooner he will be changed.”
Buffy took the hint and left, but not without one last look at Giles. He gave a little woof and nodded his head. She smiled and went on through the kitchen door.
After what felt like forever, but Joyce later said had only been five minutes, Xander stuck his head through the kitchen door. “All clear.”
The girls surged into the living room. Xander and Oz grabbed their respective girlfriends, swinging them around. Faith went over to Wesley, nudging him with her shoulder. “How ya feelin?”
“All right,” he said, not looking at her.
“That must have been freaky, being stuck in a dog body like that.”
“I don’t remember much. Just flashes.” His eyes stayed glued to the floor.
Faith took his arm. “Come on, you’ve had a rough night. I’ll walk you home, make sure you get there okay.” She led Wesley to the door, turning back to say, “See you in the morning.” Looking at Buffy she added, “I’ll do patrol after I’ve seen Wes home. You can stay in tonight.”
Willow went over to Amy. “We’re going to the Bronze, you want to come with?”
Amy shook her head. “I’ll just see Greg there with Harmony.”
Oz joined them. “The others from my band will be there. You can sit next to Devon and make Greg jealous.”
Willow smiled. “Definitely. Being seen with a member of a band is much cooler than a bench warmer from the football team. He’ll be green.”
Amy grinned. “Okay.” She walked over to Giles, who had been standing quietly with his hands in his pockets, his eyes also on the floor. “I’m sorry, Mr. Giles. I never wanted anything like that to happen.”
“That’s quite all right, Amy, I know you weren’t responsible. The, uh, gentleman explained everything after he changed us back.”
To everyone’s surprise, Amy gave him a quick hug, then hurried out the door. Xander and Any followed her. Willow went over to Buffy. “Bronze?”
“Maybe, later. No promises.”
Willow nodded and she left with Oz.
Buffy went over to Giles. “How’s the head?”
He looked up at her. “I’m fine.” Buffy gave a little snort. “No, really, the, uh,”
“D’Hoffryn” Buffy supplied.
“Yes, D’Hoffryn, took care of things. No lump, no headache. You don’t need to worry about me. Why don’t you go catch up with the others?”
“I’m walking you home.” When Giles started to protest, Buffy waved him down. “There might be reactions. No arguing, Watcher-mine.”
Giles smiled and nodded. “Very well.”
Buffy tuned back to Joyce. “Mom, I won’t be very late. You heard Faith say that she’s going to patrol. I’m going to walk Giles home, maybe stay with him for a while, or maybe go to the Bronze for a bit. Not sure yet.”
“Okay, sweetie. See you later.” Joyce nodded to Giles. He nodded back, and followed Buffy out of the house.”
The pair walked for a few minutes in silence. “What was it like?” Buffy finally asked.
“I don’t remember much. Just bits and pieces, like Wesley said.”
Buffy frowned. “But, you seemed to be there. Not like the others, they were really puppies. Even though you were in a dog shape, I thought I could see you, your mind, your personality, when I looked in your eyes.”
Giles didn’t answer for a long time, and Buffy was beginning to think that he wasn’t going to, when he suddenly said, “In the beginning, yes, it was very much me. It was strange how the dog body seemed both natural and wrong. I knew and understood you and Willow while we were at the library, but the longer I was in that shape, the harder it was to remain me.” His voice softened and without her Slayer hearing Buffy wasn’t sure she would have heard him. “In many ways it felt like a violation of my deepest self.”
Buffy didn’t know how to answer that, and they walked the remainder of the way to Giles’ apartment in silence. Giles opened the door and stepped in, but turned quickly, blocking her path. “Thank you for walking me home, Buffy, but I would really prefer to be alone now. I need time to settle back into my skin, as it were.”
Buffy eyed him anxiously. “You’re sure?”
“Can I come check on you in the morning?”
Giles smiled. “Yes, you may come back in the morning. I’m sure I’ll be better company then.”
“Okay.” Buffy gave him a quick hug. “Night, Giles.” She turned and crossed the patio.
“Goodnight, Buffy.” He stepped inside and closed the door, leaning against it weakly. A sudden surge of awareness flowed across his senses. He re-opened the door and looked out. At the edge of his patio, at the top of the steps leading to the parking lot, Buffy was standing with Angel.
Angel put his arms around her, pulling her to him for a brief, but intense, kiss. The kiss ended and the couple started down the steps, arms around each other.
Giles watched, eyes narrowed, the hair on the back of his neck standing up. Deep in his throat, he growled.