Slats: Moments in Time
Snapshots from the Bridges universe
Disclaimer: I sent them back to their original owners after borrowing them a couple years ago. They decided to come back for a visit.
Spoilers: Buffy Season 7, Stargate Season 8 (SGA Season 1). My story Bridges
found by clicking on my penname.
Rating: PG - swearing
Immense thanks go to Kei for the beta.
The first thing Xander learned about puppies was that they had to pee every two hours, day or night, and if they couldn’t hose down the grass, they had no problem going wherever they were when nature called. Xander had this running phone conversation in his head to Jack where he complained about that and the chewing and the utter inability of the little runt to learn how to heel. In the last week alone, he’d walked probably a mile in circles around the back yard until Buffy had yelled at him about distracting the girls. Xander had read more dog training books in the last two weeks than demonologies, which, considering he led three sessions a day on How To Figure Out What You’re Dealing With, was pretty remarkable. He’d tried the choke collar, he’d tried the dog treats, he’d tried everything short of yelling which is what he wanted to do but that all the dog books said it was a bad idea, and he still couldn’t get the dog to heel.
“He’s just a baby, Xander,” Christa, fourteen and a self-described dog trainer, said. “He sits and stays, and he’s handling the Long Down okay, aren’t you, Ace? Aren’t you just so cute and wonderful?” At the center of attention, Ace’s tail thwapped excitedly on the floor as Christa ruffled his ears.
“Ace, down,” Xander said before he got any ideas. They were twenty minutes into the half hour of enforced stillness at the end of another long day of Slayer Camp. “Good boy.” For all the frustration an excited puppy was in a full house, he was pretty cute and wonderful.
“They like it when you say it excited like a question,” said Christa.
“Good boy?” asked Hillary from the couch behind them. They were in the den in front of the new dancing American Idol
show, girls packed like sardines on the couch, the armchairs, whatever was stolen from the dining room, and most of the floor space. Christa had snagged the best spot in the house on Ace’s other side, chatting training techniques during the ads to a rapt audience.
That was the second thing Xander had learned about puppies: with a couple of exceptions, girls loved puppies and would do just about anything to keep puppy playing privileges. With things this summer in more upheaval than normal, it was one extra weapon Xander had for his side.
“What a good boy you are!?” Christa demonstrated, making everyone laugh and Ace thump his tail wildly. There followed a chorus of praise disguised as questions until Ace couldn’t stand it any more and jumped up to lick the nearest face, Christa’s of course. Xander checked his watch. Twenty three minutes. Not bad for a roomful of eager distractions.
“Ace, down,” Xander grabbed the puppy and put him back into place, ignoring the giggles around the room. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves, corrupting the young,” Xander told the girls in his best mock severe voice, getting even more giggles in reply. It was mostly the younger set up here, the thirteen and fourteen year olds who sometimes got driven off by the high schoolers from the basement and the absolute privacy of the tv down there. Xander didn’t want to know and made a point of only going downstairs if he was specifically invited to fix a problem.
Once Ace had settled somewhat, Xander released him and let him bound off. The books were always very adamant about that, making sure that your puppy knew he still had to listen to you.
“Are you going to teach him to be an attack dog?” asked Becky. Ace bounced from girl to girl, licking and nosing and wiggling happily. He was so innocent and didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Thinking of him putting himself in danger, a weapon, scared Xander in the same way that sending these kids out into battle did. More so, because Ace was tiny and helpless and not built to take a beating. That was the part of the phone conversation to Jack that Xander left out. He had a feeling his dad knew how much he loved Ace without it being said anyway.
“I gotta teach him to heel first,” Xander answered. Jerry Cho said he had a friend who worked with police dogs if Xander was interested, and had brought up the point that given his proximity to a life high in violence, Ace, like the girls, was probably better off trained.
Jerry was a good guy, and Xander had certainly thought about his offer. Dawn had found his karate studio last year when she’d wanted more training that wasn’t designed for slayers. Jerry was sharp and by the end of the year he’d pieced together enough to be dangerous so Dawn had made an executive decision to see if he would help them instead of turn them over to social services. It was the best decision she had made. Once the Council money came through, Xander offered him a summer contract to put the technique behind the brute strength of the slayers. The results had been impressive after he knocked the older girls down a peg or two, even Buffy who for once had the grace to be a good example and not complain about it where anyone but Xander could hear. It was not long after that that Jerry was teaching Buffy how to teach better and taking in Xander and Andrew for human sized lessons.
The last five minutes of the show was back on and the girls settled down to watch the final words from the judges. Ace had made it to Kelly’s lap and was contentedly getting his belly rubbed, tired at last from a busy day. On his left, Courtney leaned a little bit more against Xander’s shoulder, resting her head. That was the third thing Xander had learned about puppies: that they had enough energy to keep up with slayers but, like slayers, when they crashed, they crashed hard.
The show wound down, the voting lines opened, and while the girls fished for cell phones, Xander went and retrieved Ace who licked his face in greeting when Xander picked him up. “Lights out in an hour,” he said, getting only a few absent hand waves in acknowledgement. He wasn’t worried. They would whine and complain and pretend to ignore him for however long it took for them to cycle through the bathrooms, but they’d more or less be in bed in an hour. Good kids, every one.
“Come on you,” Xander rubbed his cheek against Ace’s soft puppy fur and took him outside.