Santa Claws by Lilachigh
Chp 3 One Little Step by Lilachigh
Author's Notes:
I’ve been waiting for this moment for years. Well, since Spike saw Buffy dancing at the Bronze. And she thinks the worst is now over. Poor deluded girl!
Santa Claws by Lilachigh

Chapter 3 One Little Step

I thought we needed something cheerful to read as we begin the count down to Christmas! Hope you like.




Three humans, one ex demon, one energy ball and a chipped vampire sat around Buffy’s dining-table in a circle, holding hands at shoulder level

“Are you sure this will work? That this charm will summon D‘Hoffryn?” Buffy asked Anya who was sitting between Xander and Spike, her eyes shut tight, her lips moving silently as if she was praying.

Anya opened one eye. “Hush! Now you’ve made me forget where I was in the summoning charm! I shall have to start all over again.”

“Isn’t there a short version?” Dawn whined. “My arms are aching.”

Spike, who was holding her right hand, stretched his arm further over the table so the pressure on Dawn’s hand lessened. He’d gone to sit next to Buffy when Anya told them to take their places for the incantation, but Xander had made sure the Slayer was seated between him and Willow.

“Just a few minutes, more, Dawnie,” said Willow, who was finding the whole procedure dreadfully difficult. Even just being this close to magic made her feel bad and it wasn’t helped by Anya’s incompetence.

“Chenetsa, chenetsa, D’Hoffryn. Come, hear my plea. I wish to speak to thee!” Anya shouted at last. There was a loud bang and a puff of lavender smoke filled the room.

Coughing, Buffy dropped Willow and Xander’s hands and stared round. But there was no demon chief standing behind her.

“I think that was his engaged signal,” Anya said unhappily. “Perhaps he’s busy. I mean, it is nearly Christmas, and just because you’re a demon, doesn’t mean you don’t have presents and cards and family problems to sort out. I mean, D’Hoffryn has fourteen wives and countless children. Can you imagine trying to keep everyone happy at Christmas.”

“Fourteen wives - hell - ” Xander broke, his eyes shining avidly.

“Hell’s just about what it must be,” Spike added dryly.

“OK, people, listen. This hasn’t worked. Anya says D‘Hoffryn is the only one who can help us find Santa Claus. So we need another plan.”

There was silence for a few seconds, then Willow said tentatively, “I can do it.”

“Will, we’ve been through this already,” Buffy said, reaching out to touch her friend‘s arm. “We can’t afford for you to go down that magical obsession road again.”

“No, I don’t mean doing magic - well, I do, but not in the way you mean. You see - ” she fumbled in the pocket of her jeans, “Do you remember when I was all upset about Oz and made a spell that went wrong? When Giles went blind and Xander became a demon magnet and you - ”

“Spike and I got engaged,” Buffy said quietly. “Yes, I remember.” Her gaze flashed across the table to Spike and blue fire met it. He remembered as well.

“When I was in the demon dimension, D‘Hoffryn gave me a token, to call him any time I wanted a job. Of course, I told him I didn’t want one and he sent me back unharmed, super kind. But I sort of brought the token with me and I’ve kept it ever since. Just - well, just in case.”

She held it out on the flat of her hand and the others stared down at it.

“It wouldn’t be doing any big spell. I‘ll just - ” her voice died away, her eyes went black, and before Buffy could stop her she said, “D’Hoffryn - Willow Rosenberg here. Can I have a word if you’ve got a moment. Like - now!”

There was another loud bang but this time the room filled with a dark purple smoke that flashed and sparkled. As it cleared, Buffy could see the chief demon standing gazing angrily at her. And she had to admit that as he was holding a chicken leg in one hand and had a napkin tucked under his chin, they’d probably called him at a bad time.

“Miss Rosenberg - how very nice to hear from you. Not a particularly good time - oh, Anyanka, you’re here, too. I suppose it was you who tried to contact me earlier? You do realise it’s nearly Christmas, I suppose.”

“I’m sorry, Mr D’Hoffryn - ” Willow said. “And it’s really nice of you to give up your time like this.”

“So you’ve changed our mind about becoming a vengeance demon? A little late in the day, perhaps, but then you’ve experienced a lot more grief since those early days, so perhaps you - ”

“Willow doesn’t want to become any sort of demon,” Buffy broke in hastily, getting up and walking round the table to face him. “We have a problem and need your help.”

The demon vanished the chicken leg and wiped his lips with the napkin before vanishing it as well. He sighed. “The Slayer - interesting.”  He gazed round at the others. “Mr Harris - nice work summoning Sweet. Couldn’t have done better myself. I always like a good cremation, especially when the victim is still alive.” He stared at Dawn, started to speak, then stopped, frowning. Then he saw Spike. “And the vampire, William the Bloody. I had high hopes of you once upon a time. But, alas, it was not to be. You never had an Angelus side to your nature. Odd, but true.“

Spike eased his way in two long strides to Buffy’s side. “Cut the bloody chat. We need to know where to find Father Christmas.”

D‘Hoffryn looked as surprised as a demon with his face could look. “Santa Claus? Well, I wasn’t expecting that sort of request. I thought you might all want to return to the spell Miss Rosenberg cast a few years ago. But actually, the spell holds true, even today. ”

Xander jumped up, going red in the face. “What the hell are you talking about. We’re not under any spell.”

“You’re quite right, Mr Harris,” D‘Hoffryn said, rubbing his chin with a long pointed finger. “The spell has become reality, of course. Your feelings for Anyanka have become stronger as have hers for you. The Watcher, Mr Giles, is blind to what is going on in Sunnydale, even when he is here. And the Slayer and the vampire - ” he shrugged. “Well, to be honest, no spell was actually necessary in the past to make them get engaged and it certainly isn’t necessary now. Their passion is obvious to anyone who cares to look. it always has been.”

There was a silence so intense that the humming from the fridge sounded like a jumbo jet taking off.

“Passion?” Xander said hoarsely and sat down with a thud.

“No!” Willow said, her cheeks flaming. “There was a spell - I cast it. I made them get engaged. But they didn’t - well, nothing happened - well, a few kisses, I couldn’t help the kisses, but that was all, well, maybe a bit of touching, but good touching, I mean, not that touching is always bad, but Spike and Buffy, they never, it was a spell and - ”

“No it wasn’t.” Buffy heard herself speaking and was vaguely surprised, as if her voice belonged to someone else.

“Pet - ?“ Spike sounded worried, concerned. “Are you sure? You don’t have to tell them. It doesn’t matter.” His hand was on her shoulder, she could feel his strength pouring into her body, there, as always for her to lean on. She felt dizzy, as if she was very, very drunk.

“Yes, it does matter.”

There would be no turning back. She was the Slayer and once she’d set her feet on a path, she followed it to the end. As in all journeys, the first step had been the hardest, but that had now been taken. One little step - all this time, all these years, that was all was and now she’d taken it, she couldn’t remember why she’d thought it would be so hard. What awaited her and Spike at their destination, she had no idea, but at least she had started on the journey with him.

“It wasn’t a spell. Oh, a part of it was, Will. The getting engaged part. But Spike and I fell in love. You never magiced that.”

The pencil Xander was holding snapped in two. “Buffy - ” he whispered, pleadingly.

“I‘m sorry, Xander,” she began, then stopped, staring at his appalled expression. Willow was biting her finger so hard blood was running down her hand. Anya was staring, curious, uninvolved. Dawn - Dawn was smiling at her, a great wide grin that lightened her heart. “No, actually, I’m not. Look, my love life will have to wait. We’ve got work to do.”

She reached up and clasped Spike’s hand. He looked as shattered as she felt, but the glow in his eyes was brighter than a million candles and she felt hot waves rush through her veins. She had put that expression there and she felt it was one of the best things she’d ever done in her whole life.

“We still need to know where Father Christmas is right now,” she said briskly, turning back to the demon chief. “He‘s kidnapping children and it’s got to stop.”

D‘Hoffryn shook his head. “Gone off the rails again, has he? I never thought he was up for the job, but then once you’re Chosen, there’s no going back.”

“Can you help or not?” Buffy snapped. “We’re wasting time here.”

D’Hoffryn shook his head. “Never any patience in the young of today. I can send only four - but remember, whatever happens, there has to be a Father Christmas working on the 24th of December.”

He clicked his fingers, there was a bright white flash and when it faded, Spike, Buffy, Xander and Anya had vanished.

Dawn gasped and Willow reached out to wrap an arm round her shoulders.

‘“So what happens if there isn’t a Father Christmas working on the 24th?” she whispered.

D‘Hoffryn spun round twice, waved his hand and began to vanish himself back into another dimension. But his voice could still be heard echoing as he went,

“End of the world, Miss Rosenberg. End of the world.”

to be continued


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