Title: In the Dog House
Disclaimer: The St. Louis folk belong to Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sunnydale folk belong to Joss Whedon, and no profit was made in the writing of this fic.
Summary: Half a year after Don’t Stand So Close to Me, Richard finds himself in the doghouse…
A/N: I’m a horrible big sis. I missed my beta’s birthday. I’m sorry! Anyway, this fic is written for her, and hopefully she’ll enjoy it. I tried to stick to what Cameron requested in the mid-year ficathon, so I hope it passes muster.
“I guess he forgot.”
“Oh honey, I’m sure that’s not it. Richard is normally good about this stuff.” Gwen wrapped an arm around the young Vargamor’s shoulders.
“Something probably just came up at school. You know how that gets. I’m sure he’ll be home any minute now.” Sylvie comforted, while secretly planning on pulling her Ulfric into a corner and giving him a swift kick in the crotch. He invited all of his friends and then didn’t bother to show up.
“He forgot about it. Maybe he doesn’t want to come. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe he doesn’t love me anymore. What should I do?” Willow babbled nervously as the clock struck five, the time when the rest of the guests were supposed to show up.
“You could try withholding sex.”
“Anita!” Three pairs of eyes turned to stare at the uncomfortable Bolverk. “What? She could.” While Anita had learned to get along with the young witch, heck they might even loosely be called friends, she wasn’t ready for this emotional crap. Richard was going to die when she found him. How dare he insist she spend her evening off at his new girlfriend’s birthday party if he wasn’t even going to show.
“Why don’t we try him on the pack line. I’m sure he’s got a good excuse.” Gwen suggested.
“What’s the report?”
“Delayed, again.” Lou returned to his friend. He was beginning to think the people at the airlines desk would call security on him if he went up to ask again.
“Damn. The florist is going to be closed by the time the plane lands.” Richard covered his eyes and winced. “This is a disaster. I can’t imagine things getting worse.”
“Jinx!” Louis smirked as Richard’s cell phone rang. “Wait! Check who it is before answering.”
“It’s Sylvie.” Richard sighed. “I just had to say it, didn’t I?”
“Don’t answer it. She’s probably over at your place already, and you know how she is. You say you’re at the airport. She’ll blab. The surprise will be ruined.”
“You’re right.” Richard clicked the phone over to voice mail. “Look, it’s pointless for the two of us to wait here. You take my car and get the flowers. You can meet us at the baggage claim. Hopefully they’ll be here by then.”
“Sounds like a plan. Which florist did you go to?”
“Angelo’s of course.” Richard grinned. Rafael and Richard had been working on promoting a lycanthrope business community since so many of their group had problems keeping jobs. Angelo’s Flowers was one of the first, and best, success stories for the enterprising wolves and rats.
“Great. I’ll pick up your bouquet. I’m sure if they knew it was for Willow, it’ll look fabulous. See ya soon!” Lou took his friend’s car keys and headed for the parking garage, leaving Richard in front of the security check point.
“That bastard hung up on me!” Sylvie shouted.
“I hope he’s not in trouble. What if something bad happened to him? What if he’s lying in a ditch somewhere, bleeding to death?”
“Nah. I would have noticed.” Anita shrugged. “He’s probably just moping around his classroom. Besides, aren’t Tuesdays faculty meeting night? Maybe it went long.”
“Um, no. This year they switched to Wednesdays because all the home basketball games were on Tuesdays.”
‘Of course.’ Anita thought bitterly. ‘She’s the new girl friend. She would know his new schedule. I’m the ex. I’m out of date.’ “Maybe he went to the basketball game?”
She was spared the glare of death from Sylvie when the doorbell rang. “Richard!” Willow bounced up to answer the door, but the lycanthropes in the room knew it wasn’t him. Nope, it was just Jason, followed by Stephen and Gregory. With each new wolf that showed up with no sign of Richard, everyone could feel the alpha females tense.
By the fourth knock, Willow wasn’t bouncing up quite so eagerly. “Hi.” Jamil said when Willow opened the door. “Sorry we’re late. I hope y’all aren’t too hungry. Where’s Richard?”
“We don’t know.” Willow pouted.
“Damn. Missing his girl’s big day; not smooth at all.” Jamil commented. “Oh well, Da and I have the food. We may as well get the party started. Where do you want us to put this?” He held up a tray filled with spanikopita from Willow’s favorite organic deli.
“Kitchen table.” Willow shrugged, not nearly as excited about the phyllo dough as she would have been if her favorite wolf was here.
“Xander! Buffy! Over here!” Richard finally managed to find the two people he had been waiting for off the plane from Los Angeles.
“Mr. Zeeman!” Buffy dragged Xander over to their old biology teacher.
“Wow, you two sure have matured.” Richard remarked, looking at his old students. He had remembered a complete valley girl and a class clown. The two adults in front of his were just that, adults.
“Yeah, Mr. Zeeman, you look really good for your age.” Xander commented.
“Please, it’s just Richard, and I’m not that old. I’m just five years older than Willow.”
“See Buff, now that’s what’s called an acceptable age difference- five years, not one hundred and five.”
“You’re one to talk mister. How many years older is Anya, try two thousand?”
“Well, women mature faster than guys.”
“And your point?”
“I have no point. But, I’m sure Willow will explain it once we see her. So Zeeman, when do we see our Wills?”
“Let’s get your baggage first.” Zeeman smiled at the two kids’, make that adults’, antics. “Actually, since your plane was late I had to send my friend on an errand with the car, so he’ll be waiting for us at the baggage claim.”
“Yeah, sorry about that whole delay thing; there was a slight security false alarm and so they had to hold up the flight.” Buffy answered.
“Well, that’s understandable, hardly your fault.” Richard answered as they took the escalators down.
Xander coughed loudly as Buffy blushed. “Actually, it sort of was.”
“Well, I hadn’t used my traveling purse since the last time I went to LA with dad, and that was like what, two years ago? How was I supposed to remember that I had put a stake in the side compartment? It’s not like it was a big stake or anything.”
“You brought a stake on the plane?”
“No, they made her leave it at the security desk.”
“Oh, so you lost your stake?”
“Yeah, but it’s no biggie. It wasn’t Mr. Pointy or anything.”
“Don’t ask.” Xander grinned, happy that in just a few minutes they’d be reunited with their bestest bud.
“Anita, help.” Jamil had pulled the Bolverk into one of the side rooms, out of the main party.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Even you can see this party is really, really bad.”
“It could be worse, at least there’s food.”
“Anita, Richard invited a room full of wolves, and didn’t order a single meat dish. When was the last time you met a vegetarian wolf?”
“Hey, that’s not my fault.”
“Come on, you have to do something.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“And how am I supposed to do that?” Anita peeked around the corner where everyone was milling nervously around the living room, too nervous to even try to eat before the Ulfric showed up.
“I don’t know; you’re the girl.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“ It means, I don’t know what to do. Guys don’t do the party organizing thing. I mean, give us a pitcher of beer and we’re good.”
“So get out a pitcher a beer?”
“What?! I don’t know. Bug Sylvie. She’s your alpha, make her deal with it.”
“You’re alpha too, and Bolverks are supposed to take care of things other people don’t want to do.”
“Do you want me to shoot Willow? Because, that’s my
solution. I’d shoot Richard, but he’s not here.”
“Fine, I’ll ask Sylvie for help.”
“You do that.” Anita grimaced, watching the Hati wander back into the party room. Instead of following, she went further into the back bedroom, and pulled out her cell phone. She dialed the number from the memory she wished she could repress.
“Hello?” Richard answered on the first ring.
“Where the heck are you!” Anita yelled in a whisper, not wanting the lycanthropes in the next room to hear.
“Did you know that you’ve got dozens of wolves starving in your dining room, and a girlfriend that’s about to break into tears, not to mention an ex girlfriend currently plotting the best way to shoot you?”
“I kinda figured that.” She could practically hear Richard rolling his eyes. “Look, I’m at the airport. Lou should be here any minute with the car, and then it’ll be another twenty before we make it back there. Can you stall?”
“Can I stall?”
“Yeah, you know, maybe start a party game or something? I’ve got Twister in the hall closet.”
“Richard Allen Zeeman, you’re walking a very fine line. I am not going to play Twister.”
“Fine, you can work the spinny thing. Just make sure nobody leaves before I get there.”
“Why are you at the airport anyway?”
“I’m picking up Willow’s surprise.”
“Yeah. So, um, stall for me please. I’ll be your best friend?”
“Oh no, you’re not getting off that easily.”
“I’ll have Willow bake you cookies?”
“Right now, you’re going to be baking cookies for Willow until you die.”
“Please, please, please?”
“Alright. I’ll think of something.”
Twenty minutes later, the jeep finally pulled up next to the baggage claim. “Where the heck where you?” Richard asked as Lou popped open the trunk to reveal the gaudiest bouquet of fall flowers known to man.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Did the plane arrive?”
“Oh, right. Buffy, Xander, meet my friend Louis. Lou, this is Buffy and Xander.” They shook hands and began loading their luggage into the car. “So what happened? Was there something wrong at Angelo’s?”
“No that went fine.” Everyone got into the car, and Richard pushed the speed limit as they headed towards his house.
“So why did it take you so long?”
“Okay, so there was this truck full of chickens that got into a wreck right at the airport exit. Seriously, I’ve been sitting in traffic only two miles from the airport for the last twenty minutes. And the feathers! Good grief! You should get a mechanic to check your air filter soon. I have never seen such an ugly accident. Chickens every where, and you know they really do keep running when they don’t have heads.”
“That’s gross, Lou.” Richard couldn’t help but feel a bit
hungry at the idea of chickens. He hoped the catering he ordered would be good.
“Yup, sounds like a Tuesday.” Xander commented from the backseat.
“This sort of thing happen to you often?”
“Well, I think we deal with more scales then feathers, but yeah.” Buffy added.
They reached the house in a record ten minutes and sprinted out the door to get the things out of the trunk. As Xander pulled his bag, a daisy broke off the bouquet.
“Look, Richard, I’ll get the flowers; they’ll get the luggage. You need to get in there before Anita goes nuts.” Louis ordered his friend as Richard tried to stick the flower back into the bouquet.
“Um okay.” Richard let himself in through the kitchen, looking back at the guests struggling with their weeks’ worth of luggage, trying not to hit the flowers.
“Left foot blue.” Anita called out in a tired voice. Instead of moving, the lycanthropes all froze. Willow looked up at Anita nervously, who just shrugged. A moment later they heard the garage door open.
“Do you suppose?”
“It’s him? Finally?”
A minute later, the tired school teacher opened the door
and walked in.
“Richard!” Willow squealed and leaped into his arms that opened just in time to catch her. He offered her a
daisy. “Wolfie! I was so worried about you! I thought something horrible happened to you and you were going to die or move to Tibet to avoid me or something. You didn’t call or anything, and it’s my birthday, and how dare you!” The next thing he knew, Richard was being assaulted by his girlfriend. “You’re in the dog house now mister!” Willow slapped his arm hard. Granted, Willow slaps had absolutely no effect on a werewolf king, but it still hurt to be slapped by his girlfriend in public after spending all day trying to arrange the perfect gift. Willow’s shouts were joined by Anita and Sylvie who were happy to help with the wrath. Perhaps it was a mistake to encourage Willow to make friends with the pack alphas.
“Whoa there, Wills. If you spend all your energy beating up your boyfriend, you won’t have any energy left to hug your bestest friend.” Xander’s voice cut through the angry tumult and worked like a miracle. Willow turned her attention to Xander, who had just enough time to drop his bag before being engulfed by the feisty redhead.
“Hey, is there room in that hug for one more?” Buffy called, entering the house, and dropping her bag in the kitchen.
“Xander! Buffy! You’re really here!”
“Of course we’re here. How could we miss your birthday?” Xander smiled. “Zeeman even paid for the tickets.”
“Really?” Willow turned to face the boyfriend she just insulted and assaulted so horribly.
“Happy Birthday?” He offered sheepishly.
“I love you.” Everyone watched as the Ulfric and Vargamor engaged in a scandalously passionate kiss.
“That’s nice. Can we have cake now?”
“What? I’m hungry.”
A/N: And the moral of the story is... you guessed it, Too many details, not enough chickens. Happy birthday!