Spike gets dragged into the spirit of the holidays kicking and screaming, but is Santa all he seems? A bit of a comedic piece of fluff.
Season 5, Two days after "Listening to Fear" aired. That was the episode where Joyce was in the hospital and Ben summoned the Queller demon to deal with all the crazy people Glory was creating.
Categories: General Fics Characters:
1. Part 1 by pfeifferpack
2. Part 2 by pfeifferpack
Nothing dared get in the way of the grumbling vampire slogging through the sewers of Sunnydale, headed for the manhole nearest the mall. Any demon that had seen him coming would have given him wide berth. No one would have confused the cursing member of the undead community with St. Nick or expect that his mission had anything thing to do with that "happiest" of times in the year.
It was nearly a week to the day since that other stupid holiday when, once a year, Americans got together for the express purpose of overeating, watching too much of that nancy boy football and uttering comments filled with forced cheer and gratitude.
Spike had been surprised when Buffy invited him to the festivities. "So with mom in the hospital and Glory on the prowl, I thought I’d try to make something close to normal for Dawnie. I’m having everyone over for Thanksgiving this year and Dawn would love for you to come too."
"You cookin’, slayer? Traditional bird and fixins with gravy and cookies for the vamp?" Spike hoped he didn’t sound too interested.
"Well, yeah, that’s what we humans do. I’m sure Giles would enjoy another snobby Brit to help make fun of football while Xander’s watching the game, even if it would be you helping him," Buffy replied.
"So, let’s see, turkey, whipped potatoes, peas, pies, bears…," he prodded.
"Yup, turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, pies, bears ….NO! Wait, no bears!" Buffy swatted Spike on the arm. "Bears are of the bad!"
"Told you so at the time as I recall," Spike said.
In spite of the snark, Spike was pleased at the invite. Not just to be included in a Scooby moment, but in this particular one. He secretly saw American Thanksgiving as an anniversary of sorts. A day marking his choice to go to the Watcher for help instead of setting up minions to kill for him when the bloody military doctors shoved the chip in his head a year ago.
That day had been the start of his new path, his new way of living. A path that had led to his coming to know and love his Slayer. Not that the path had been smooth or had led to any returning of his feelings by the lady in question, mind you. In fact, that lady was still blissfully in the dark about Spike’s change in plan for her future, his desire to plant something other than his fangs deep within her.
"So, spacey boy, are you coming or not?" Buffy asked again. "You can bring beer if you want; it’s not like I expect you to cook or anything. I’m fixing most of it with Tara’s help. Dawn’s doing the pies and Willow’s supplying the after dinner games and guilt. I DO expect you to be my partner if she insists on Trivial Pursuit, ‘cause we can kick serious ass with the history questions, you having lived through most of it," she rattled on.
"Hah, bloody hah, Slayer. Not that old. I’ll have you know that I’m one of the youngest vamps to make Master status!" Spike pretended insult convincingly and Buffy laughed at his expression.
It had come to this, Norman Rockwell vamp in small town America! Spike was outwardly dour but secretly chuffed to be included.
"So Red’s against overeating or is it overpadded sissies trying to play watered down Rugby that she dislikes?" Spike teased.
"Naw, she’s down with the whole massive amount of food bit and I think she’s a closet football fan. I mean, tight pants on buff bodies…who isn’t?" Buffy glanced up at Spike with a teasing smile of her own. "It’ll just be the annual lecture on how we’re celebrating the destruction of an indigenous people and their culture. Kinda takes the giving out of Thanksgiving if you ask me. She wouldn’t bring it up if mom were here instead of in the hospital. Mom never lets anyone ruin the holidays." Buffy looked suddenly sad and worried.
"I love Willow to death, but I wish she’d leave some of the book knowledge and angst at home for the season. This Slayer is looking forward to some down time that hasn’t got evil all over it somehow," Buffy muttered.
Spike had shown up early on Thanksgiving morning, having promised the Bit he’d be there to watch the soddin’ parade with her. Dawn had been afraid that Spike would back out and not show up at all since the Scoobies had never been very nice to their hired muscle on social occasions. So she had been the odd human haunting Spike’s crypt for the entire week before the event, forcing him to promise over and over that he would show.
"’Cause I totally need you there," she’d begged. "I love the gang, but they all treat me like a kid. If you’re there, we can be all bratty together and drive them nuts." Dawn’s eyes gleamed at the prospect of having a partner in crime.
So he’d arrived just as the first marching band was mangling "Livin’ La Vida Loca". They sat and ate the nutritionally void breakfast of popcorn and soda Dawn had insisted was also a Summers tradition. They companionably watched as cartoon balloons and overfluffed floats passed by in far off New York City.
"What is it with these high school band directors that they have to look at the lame top 40 and ruin already bad songs by convertin’ ‘em into fodder for a marching band?" Spike looked truly mystified by the musical phenomenon.
At the end of the parade, which was actually one long shopping reminder from the famed department store to encourage excessive holiday spending, came the traditional beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The red clad (probably drunk)_ fake Santa called out his equally false, "Ho! Ho! Hos" and "Merry Christmas!", while scruffy, phony elves pelted kids with bits of hard candy.
Afterward, those same darling delinquents would be pelting mom and dad with small fists and temper tantrums, whining about the lists of desires their acquisitive selves felt they deserved from the fat bastard this year. "Ah, the holidays," Spike groused.
Back in the day, parents were ready to practically pay vamps to feed off the little annoying buggers with their "I want this" and "I have to have that" wails before a week had passed. Good times that!
It was due to that certain older yet equally acquisitive child and her pelting fists of demands that Spike was currently trudging through the sewers of Sunnydale to a mall packed with more emotion-fueled blood than a vamp should be near without a good bloodletting. It was that other tradition, not so much of the pleasant variety: Christmas shopping.
Dawn had not been shy about what she was hoping for in her stocking this year and Buffy’s budget just was not going to stretch far enough, not with the clan mother up to her ears in medical bills. Time for Spike to prove himself yet again to the Slayer of his heart. No nicking anything either. Slayer’d make the Bit return every item if she suspected theft. Nope, cold hard cash and lines of less than happy shoppers were the order of the day. Spike fought the urge to cry.
He’d gotten a decent price from the pawnbroker for a few items and was properly prepared for the payment; he just wasn’t ready for the actual picking out process.
He decided to pass his own personal favorite store, Hot Topic, and move on to his other familiar haunt, Tower Records. Carefully avoiding the Punk and Heavy Metal sections as well as the eyes of clerks who knew him, Spike sidled up to the section with the latest offerings from the boy bands his Bit loved so well. He would have to try to be sure to pick a checkout person that was seasonal help and not likely to remember him in the future or his entire mystique was about to be blown with these purchases.
Spike had tried his hardest to educate the Niblet to what constituted good music, music of the ages. She had tolerated the Ramones, but he would never forget the skeptical look she had given him when she first heard the Sex Pistols. No, instead Spike had been treated to the Bit rhapsodizing over Justin, Howie, Lance, JC, AJ, Nick and other interchangeable servers of tripe and hair gel, glorified dancers that passed themselves off as singers.
Armed with a selection of Backstreet Boys, O-Town and N’Sync wastes of plastic, Spike headed for the checkout. Then he headed back and added discs from Britney Spears and Faith Hill as well, thinking Buffy would likely enjoy them. "At least the Hill bird can actually sing," Spike consoled himself. He had already picked up the latest from Matchbox 20 and Red Hot Chili Peppers for himself. It wasn’t the same as the classic goodness of the Clash or even Green Day and Rancid, but some of their tunes held up. Spike was, after all, well rounded.
Having managed to avoid any clerk that knew him on sight, Spike quickly headed for the next stop on his list: the cosmetics counter and an assortment of paints and polishes for his girls.
He dropped by the Suncoast video store and picked out a couple of classic films for Mrs. Summers to make sure her stocking had a little something in it as well. "Poor mite will be recuperatin’ likely and nothing helps pass the time like a good flick on the telly," he thought.
He was dreading the last stop on his shopping spree-- the electronic toy store to hunt down and procure the season’s "most wanted". It was Dawn’s most wanted as well and Spike was determined to fulfill her wishes, even if he had to eat the other shoppers to get one! A headache from the carnage would pale before the hurt look on his Niblet’s face to not receive the one gift she had none too subtly hinted that her entire happiness depended upon receiving.
"Oh, Spike, isn’t that the CUTEST thing ever?" They had seen the blasted TV news bit on the year’s hottest trends and it had been love at first sight for the girl.
"Mom and Buffy say we can’t have a real pet because no one is home enough to take care of it.
Look at that Poo-Chi, Spike! It’s a lot like a real puppy even if it can’t walk like that other robot dog.
Awwww, look at the eyes, Spike, they’re just like yours! You can see all its emotions by its eyes, just like you!"
"My eyes don’t change shapes, Bit. You see my eyes go all heart shaped, you stake me, yeah? ‘Sides, it’s a bloody robot; it doesn’t HAVE emotions." Spike had known it was a useless argument and that the bloody tin pet was going to find its way under the Summers tree come hell or high water.
"Giles says vampires don’t have real emotions either, but he’s wrong!" Dawn had pouted.
As Spike feared, the entire population of Sunnydale’s parent division was looking for the same item for their little cherubs. "Like tryin’ to find a spare human at a vamp convention," Spike muttered in frustration. He spotted one of the metallic puppies that had been knocked under a table in the buying frenzy and sidled up to it, intending on nabbing it before any other shopper snapped to it. His glower managed to turn many a shopper from the area and he was able to snag the item without having to resort to anything that might set off his chip.
Spike sighed deeply in contentment. The annual nightmare he had avoided for over a century was over. All he’d have to do was get the bloody things wrapped and delivered in time for the festivities. He would have loved to buy a nice necklace or bracelet for the Slayer but knew instinctively that she would reject the gift, probably accompanied with a verbal stake for his efforts. No, the CDs would have to suffice.
Captain Cardboard would likely shower her with goodies and Buffy’d shower Riley with ……"No! Don’t even think about it, mate! Slayer’s bound to realize she can do better in time. Even if it never is me like she said, least it won’t be him. White Bread’s not her happily ever after and the silly bint knows it."
As Spike made his way through the mall to the sewer access and tunnels home, he spotted the Slayer in question near the area where every child in Sunnydale was waiting in line to sit on the lap of the hapless drunk done up in red velvet and fake fur. Like the proverbial moth being unerringly drawn to the flame, Spike changed direction and headed for Buffy.
"Slayer, looking to sit on someone’s lap? Got one here, no line or anything," he leered. "Got some secret kiddy I’m not aware of tellin’ the bloke in red their list of gotta-haves?"
Buffy rolled her eyes in exasperation at the vamp. "As if! And as for your offer, can I just say ‘ewwww’? What are you doing here, Spike? This whole scene just does not say ‘Spike belongs in this picture’ to me. Aren’t you supposed to be off somewhere regretting the fact you can’t be eating the little kiddies anymore?" She looked at the bags he was carrying and completed the thought, "Isn’t that the kind of Christmas shopping a vamp does?"
"Vamps do all kinds of things besides just hunt and eat, least the ones worth knowin’ do." Spike wished Buffy could see beyond his fangs just for once. Anything that didn’t fit neatly in the box marked ‘Typical Vamp Behavior’ by her soddin’ Watcher was ignored or dismissed.
"And that would be implying there are vamps worth knowing, Spike." Buffy made a move to distance herself from the pest only to have him follow like a leashed animal.
"Won’t know what you’re missing ‘til you get to know me, pet." Spike advised. Her shake of her head and another eye roll gave him all the answer she was going to give to that. "So, what’s so interestin’ about the fat fake with the equally fake white beard? You getting all nostalgic about your childhood?"
Buffy looked at Spike with narrowed eyes as if she was trying to decide if he could possibly be of any use whatsoever. Okay, the vamp was always saying how he liked helping her, now was a chance for him to prove it. "I got a tip that the mall Santa might be something more sinister than just a wino renting himself out as a kiddie chair for the season. I can’t really get close enough to tell, but my Slayer radar is picking up something. Well, something more than just an irritating blond vampire in the mall anyway. You notice anything weird about Santa?"
"Other than a full grown man done up in red velvet and surrounded by short people pretending to be elves? Not really. Then again, I didn’t really pay that much attention. Like you said, I’m not shoppin’ for kiddy meals and I know what real elves look like, so I didn’t look too closely." For the first time, Spike glanced over at the tableaux in interest.
One of the elves must have felt the burn of their eyes, because he turned and caught sight of Buffy and Spike. The elf broke into a delighted yet shy grin and waved at Buffy. "Hi Buffy! Remember me?"
Buffy moved closer to the fenced area where the elf was handing out candy canes to the children when they finished their talk with Santa. She tried to look past the green tunic, red tights and curly toed shoes to the boy in it. Suddenly, recognition dawned. "Jonathan! I didn’t recognize you with all the ….you know, curly shoes and bells and pointy cap and all. Looks like you’ve got a way to make some Christmas cash this year. Congratulations."
"Yeah, thanks. I wanted to be the guy who takes the pictures of the kids on Santa’s lap, maybe get into a nice job in a photo lab later, you know. They took one look at me and handed me an elf hat." Jonathan looked sheepishly at his fellow graduate of Sunnydale High. "They think short guys can’t do stuff, I guess, except be short. I mean it doesn’t take height to click a camera for geez sakes."
"Maybe you elves should unionize or some such," Spike offered with a smirk.
"No, the elves over in Santa Rita tried that and they fired every one of them, even the ones that weren’t going to join! They imported elves overnight from Santa Rosa to replace them all! We can’t chance that." Jonathan looked at Spike curiously. "You aren’t with mall management, are you?"
"Not bloody likely." Spike laughed and moved closer to the fence to check out the suspicious Santa better.
"No, Spike can’t manage anything, not even his big mouth." Buffy tossed at his turned back.
"I heard that, Slayer," Spike said in an affronted voice. "Doin’ your job here, show a bit of gratitude, yeah? Go on back to talkin’ with the boy."
"Um, Buffy, is it safe for the evil undead to be that close to all those kids?" Jonathan was looking at Spike with fear tinged with a wee bit of envy of Spike’s commanding presence.
"Oh, yeah. Spike can’t so much as lick an infant without a migraine. Your tax dollars at work. So, what’s Santa like? Is it the usual drunk picking up whiskey money or a real kid lover this time?" Buffy figured Jonathan had spent enough hours in the past week to have some sort of opinion about this year’s mall Santa.
"He’s kind of weird. Doesn’t associate with the elves much. Thinks he’s so much better than us, I guess. The kids all seem to like him though. No crying babies at all. They get in his lap and get all quiet except for telling him what they want for Christmas and where they live." Jonathan looked at the floor and continued in a shamed voice, "My dad would roll over in his grave to see his nice Jewish son playing sidekick to a Christmas icon. I’ve gotta get a better job than this! Taking pictures would be one thing, but this just isn’t right."
"Hey, you! We don’t pay you to be talking to your girlfriend. Back to work, elf." The "head elf" was scowling at Jonathan as he ordered him back to work.
"Wow! He actually thinks you’re my girlfriend! Maybe this job isn’t so bad after all," Jonathan preened. "Bye, Buffy. Nice to see you." He appeared to grow at least 5 inches taller as he headed back to his position, a small strut in his walk.
"Well, Slayer, looks like your sources aren’t wrong," Spike said in a solemn voice.
"I could be wrong, but Santa there looks like he might be a Mimblix demon, very rare this side of the equator. Look human enough but their insides are different; diet’s different too. Like the wee ones best of all. Not usually canny enough to think of this sort of plot to get their larder full, gotta hand it to him. They’ve got one hell of a thrall, even able to put Drac under and he’s a master at it. My guess is he’s doin’ a bit of his own shoppin’, food variety. Thrallin’ the mites then payin’ a visit later. With that thrall they won’t even cry out. Home one day, milk carton photo the next and no one the wiser."
"Are you sure?" Buffy was understandably horrified by the description of this previously unheard of demon. "I don’t want to seriously scar these kids by lopping the head off Santa Claus unless I have a really good reason to do it. I only heard of a couple of missing kids so far. How many would one of these eat anyway?"
"Depends on the size of the kiddy. Like I said, they like ‘em small so it takes two or three of the toddler size. If they go older, maybe one every other day or so would do it. If only a couple have gone missin’, you may only have this one to deal with instead of an extended family or colony." Spike looked deep in thought for a moment. "My guess is Santa there has a mate to feed. They bulk up in breeding season and he looks like he’s plannin’ to lay in a nice supply. Why do you think so many kiddies go missing in Central America? There’s at least a couple of colonies of these buggers in Honduras alone!"
"How do you know so much about this Blistex demon?" Buffy looked at Spike suspiciously.
"Me and Dru ran into a tribe of ‘em on our way south after that whole Acathla fiasco. Dru pissed ‘em off by takin’ their catch for a tea party. Little hellions got away while Dru was arguin’ with the head male over rights of ownership. They were off into the rainforest quick as rabbits as soon as the yellin’ started. Dru loved givin’ parties and such to little ones. Loved the kiddies, she did. Poor daft thing meant well too, just halfway into one of her little parties she’d forget how much she loved the little dears and the demon would remember what else they were good for."
Spike got a faraway look for a moment, "Good thing vamps can’t be havin’ babies. Dru had all those motherin’ instincts and desires but was so Glocky she’d have just eaten her young sooner or later."
Buffy looked at Spike as if he was as mad as Dru. "The entire visual of Dru as mother of anything is just too yucky to even think of, thank you very much." She shivered at the idea.
"Okay. If this Santa IS a Memorex demon, how do I kill it? I really don’t want to waste time hunting down Giles and doing the whole research thing before I take it out." Buffy was fingering something in her pocket and Spike had an inkling it was one of her standard stakes on the ready.
Spike gave her a half grin. His Slayer was never less than prepared even when Christmas shopping instead of patrolling. She must have been paying attention to his lesson a few weeks before when he told her the first rule was to always have a weapon because the vamps always had theirs. Good on her!
"I’m not sure if there’s a special way, ducks. I find most demons stop existin’ without their heads though. These survive more because they pass for human than any special powers or from being harder to kill. I’d just lop Santa’s noggin off and call it a day," Spike suggested.
"Well, I can’t do it in front of half the children of Sunnydale! That’d ruin Christmas forever for them, even after they learn there’s no Santa." Buffy’s eyes were large and filled with horror at the thought.
"There is, you know," Spike said.
"Is what?" Buffy asked.
"A real Santa." Spike gave Buffy a nod as she looked at him in incredulity. "I’m not makin’ up stories here, pet, just fillin’ in a bit to make up for your sad lack of education in all things demony. Ask Anya if you don’t believe me."
"A real Santa Claus?! Right. And I suppose there’s an Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy too. Just how gullible do you think I am, Spike?"
"I wouldn’t bring up the Easter Bunny to Anya. There’s a reason she’s afraid of rabbits. The girl is many things but not a coward." Buffy continued to look at him as if waiting for the punch line to a joke. Buffy was a bit unnerved as Spike stood in silence for a moment as if in memory then shuddered before continuing. "I’m serious. There is a real Santa Claus. No, he doesn’t live at the North Pole, more like the Falklands, different direction altogether and more hospitable climate. Doesn’t have elves workin for him either; they’re dwarfs. Elves are tall and slim. Dwarfs are the stubby ones."
Buffy continued to look at Spike as if he’d run mad. "Santa lives in the Falklands with a bunch of dwarfs. I suppose Snow White is his housekeeper there."
"Well, technically, I guess you could say that. That old story was about his wife and how the dwarfs got roped into the whole thing. Her name’s really Talvi, that’s Finnish for Winter. She was from a little village outside Helsinki when they met. He took her on and all her Dwarf buddies with her," Spike explained.
"So, if there IS a Santa Claus, how come all kids don’t get stuff for Christmas?" Buffy asked, hoping to trip the vampire up in a lie.
"He retired early in this century. He’d cut back a lot anyway, but when the little tykes started wantin’ somethin’ more than handmade toys and oranges and nuts, he got disgusted with the greedy lot of ‘em. Then those advertising blokes at Coca-Cola started messin’ with his legend and looks. So he closed up the shop and moved to the Falklands." Spike looked like he was serious even if Buffy wasn’t buying it.
Buffy stared at the vampire for quite a while, as if trying to decide whether he was pulling her leg or was simply insane. Finally she shook her head, deciding it didn’t really matter in the long run. Besides, she was having lunch with Anya the next day and would see what kind of answer she got from the notoriously honest ex-demon about the reality of seasonal myths and legends, avoiding the Easter Bunny, of course.
"Okay, gotta say this tall tale is at least less grisly than the ones you tell my little sister. But for now we’ve got to figure out a way to make sure this Santa is a Mimic demon and take him out. Any suggestions on how to prove it?" Buffy was loath to kill a mall Santa based on Spike saying he ‘looked like’ a child-eating demon. Many a mall Santa looked like that but were perfectly human.
"Suppose you could just hold off and see how many little Johnnys and Suzies go missing over the next few weeks. Ow! Watch where you’re hitting me, Slayer!" Buffy landed the blow too close to his dangly bits for comfort when she had swung at him as he stood up.
Buffy’s face reddened as she saw where she had hit him. She had aimed for his chest while he had been sitting. "I am not waiting for this demon guy to have a full pantry just to be sure. But then again, I can’t just kill him if you’re wrong. After all this IS your information we’re talking about!"
Spike looked at Buffy in amazement. They had their differences, but he had always played straight with her, especially when it came to helping her in her battles against the demon population of Sunnydale. "Hey, I wouldn’t lie about something like this. I said I’m pretty sure. I didn’t try to sound like I was positive, even though I’d bet my next order of blood that I’m right. You don’t need to be hittin’ me in my personals and then insultin’ me. Just tryin’ to help here." He started to walk off in a huff.
"Wait! Spike, wait. I’m sorry. You’re right. It wasn’t fair of me, or nice. I really didn’t mean to hit you there, you know. And I know you were only telling me what you really think Santa is. Don’t leave. I can use your help with this." Buffy didn’t want to grovel, but she did feel uncomfortably guilty for her last comment. Spike had been quite a help lately and he didn’t deserve the insult.
Spike stopped in his tracks then turned to sit back down next to the Slayer. He sighed and suggested, "If the witch were here she could do a quick spell to make sure. Red on your speed dial?"
"No, Willow and Tara are off on a Wiccan retreat of some kind. You know, back to nature, ‘everything is all part of one whole’, that sort of thing. No cell phones or anything like that. They’ll be back on Friday, but that will be too late if you’re right." Buffy looked thoughtful and then brightened as she remembered something Willow had once mentioned. "I might know someone who could fill in though."
"Yo, Levinson! Your girlfriend wants to see you on your break," the head elf barked to Jonathan.
"Girlfriend?" Jonathan looked over where his boss was pointing to see Buffy waving at him from the fence. "Oh, yeah, girlfriend. Yup, that’s Buffy. Kind of bossy but makes up for it in other ways." He blanched as he saw that Buffy had been able to hear his remark.
His boss caught the unspoken bitch out on Buffy’s face and chuckled at the comeuppance his short employee was likely to receive for his comments. "Oh, man, has she got you whipped! Go on, it’s only five minutes early. Take the break now, but I want you back here on candy cane duty in fifteen minutes, not one minute late even if your girl does cut you to ribbons!"
Jonathan pulled the offensive pointed cap off his head as he headed toward Buffy and Spike. "Sorry about that, Buffy. I just kinda liked him thinking I could get a girl like you for a girlfriend. I didn’t mean any insult."
Spike muttered, "Take a number, mate," and received a dirty look from Buffy.
"Never mind, Jonathan. It’s okay. I don’t care what some middle-aged guy in an elf suit thinks about me anyway!’ Jonathan looked relieved to hear her reaction to his artless remarks. "Willow said you were in her magic club in high school. Do you still do any magic?"
"Some. I’m not nearly as talented as Willow or Michael though. They were the best. If you need some magic done, Willow would be your best bet," Jonathan suggested.
"Well, we know that!" Spike had an edge of exasperation in his voice. "Wouldn’t be asking you if Red were around, now would we?"
Jonathan cringed a bit at the vampire’s snark and turned to Buffy, "I’d be honored to help if I can."
"We need a spell done to see if Santa is a Wheatabix demon. We kinda need to know right away too, ‘cause if he is one, then he’s eating the kids and that is just SO not Christmasy." Buffy looked at Jonathan with pleading eyes no man could resist.
"Sure, I could do that. Well I don’t know if I could be specific about the kind of demon, but I could do one to be sure he is a demon of some kind." Jonathan began to think about what supplies he’d need and where they could get them.
After a bit of discussion, it was decided that Buffy and Spike would gather the supplies needed at the Magic Box, confer with Anya about Mimblix demons and making a spell more specific then meet Jonathan during his lunch break at 1 p.m.
"Well, of course they live in the Falklands." Anya’s eyes lit up at the mention of the Claus family when Buffy asked about Spike’s outlandish tale. "About fifty miles outside of Port Howard on the western island…unless they’ve moved. Talvi always made the best cloudberry tarts! It was after they got married that Nick started packing on the pounds; before that, he was really sort of buff. I haven’t seen them since Nicky got all huffy at the way ‘his’ holiday became too commercialized and packed up his toys and dwarfs and retired."
Spike’s expression clearly shouted, ‘I told you so,’ but he was smart enough not to say it aloud.
"Buffy, are you here to purchase anything from my inventory or just to waste the valuable time of a hardworking shopkeeper during this busy time of the year?" Anya had noticed a small line at the cash register. Her seasonal help was trying to keep up, but with so many holidays falling in the same time period, the store was doing a booming business.
"We’re here as customers, demon girl. Don’t get your knickers in a twist," Spike offered.
At the thought of another sale, Anya visibly relaxed a bit. "Oh, in that case, welcome to the Magic Box, how can we help you?"
"Need a bit of information, some spell refining and supplies." Spike got to the point right away.
"What sort? You will need to be more specific. We cater to all kinds of magic here and that request is far too vague for me to work with, Spike."
Buffy decided to take over the request department. "We think the mall Santa may be a demon." Anya was clearly not phased by the information.
"Demons have to be employed in some way, Buffy. They don’t all just hunt and live in hovels. You will be paying for this, right? This isn’t going to be one of those ‘it’s Slayer business, Giles will sign for it’ sort of transactions, is it?" Anya was beginning to wish she had been less welcoming to the duo.
"Yes, we’ll pay." Buffy didn’t want to waste time arguing the issue and Giles would pay her back later. "Spike thinks he’s a Mumbling demon." Buffy could tell from the look on Anya’s face that she was unfamiliar with the species.
"That's Mimblix, pet," Spike corrected and Anya's face brightened in understanding.
"Oh, that would be bad. They really shouldn’t work that closely with human children. They don’t usually come this far north. I’m surprised." Anya looked vaguely interested in this nugget of information.
"I want to be sure before I get rid of him. Like you said, he could just be some harmless demon making a bit of money during the holidays. I have a friend who can do spell casting, but we kinda want it to be more specific to be sure it’s one of those Netflix guys. Can you help us out?" Buffy looked at the former demon in hopes of a positive answer.
Anya was mentally doing an inventory of the items she had on hand that might fill her customers’ needs, finally smiling in contentment as she hit on the correct items. "Naturally, we can help. The Magic Box is a full service metaphysical supplier, after all. You can’t find a better source for all your spell casting needs," she said proudly. "Wait here, I’ll get what you’ll need. I think I even know a perfect spell that I can copy out of the book for you, unless you want to purchase the entire book. The copy will cost you one dollar, but the book would be $29.95. The book WOULD make a lovely gift for Willow for Christmas though, so you might want to consider it."
"We’ll just take the copy for now, but I may come back later for the book." Buffy had seen Anya’s face fall at the $28.95 difference in sale price and wanted to regain her willing support with the hint of future purchases.
"The sale price may go up before you come back, Buffy. I’d think about buying the book now if I were you," Anya tempted. "Believe me, Willow would just love this book; it’s filled with lots of tried and true spells and rituals."
"Okay, sold," said an impatient Spike. "I’ll give the bloody thing to the witches if it’ll move this along."
"You are a good friend, Spike." Anya positively glowed at the easy sale. "Perhaps you would care to see a selection for Tara’s gift as well?" Anya stopped her attempts at getting any further sale out of Spike when she saw his glower. She decided to get back to a sure sale. "I’ll write out the change and mark the place for the spell you’ll need. I suppose you want all the supplies it’ll take too. I’m afraid the incense isn’t a sale item, Buffy, but the candles are. No refunds or exchanges on sale items though."
"Whatever. Just get the soddin’ things and let us get back to Santa’s village before he eats half the third grade." Spike was getting antsy with all the humans milling about the shop. He’d already been around more people than any chipped vamp should ever have to be at any one time. He wanted this over with so he could take his bags, pick up some pigs’ blood and go home to his comfy crypt. He wouldn’t turn down a foot massage either but knew not to push his luck with Buffy.
Twenty minutes and $78.52 later Buffy and Spike exited the Magic Box to the sounds of Anya’s cheery, "Thank you for shopping at the Magic Box. Do come again." They quickly headed back to the Sunnydale mall and their meeting with Jonathan.
The spell was simple and after revealing the sad fact that Santa was indeed a Mimblix, Jonathan still had time to head to Hotdog on a Stick for his lunch.
"I think we need to take him out during his next break. Jonathan says Santa demon usually takes his breaks in that little house behind his throne thingy. We can ambush him there before he knows anyone is on to him." Buffy wanted to just get it over with so she could do a bit of Christmas shopping herself.
"All right, love. Looks like no one’s payin any attention now, what say we slip in and wait on Santa?" Spike suggested.
They stealthily moved into the miniature Queen Anne Victorian house that was a part of the setting for the "jolly old elf" and kept as far from the fake windows as possible to make certain no one caught them in there before they could dispatch St. Nick.
"Suppose we should ask the bugger where the wife is? If she’s breeding she won’t want to hunt for herself but will if we kill her mate." Spike didn’t think there were more than just two Mimblix demons in the area. They were blessedly rare most places.
"Good idea. We’ll grab him when he comes in and tie him up until we get all the 411, then off with his head," Buffy decided.
"Might not be too free with the bean spilling, pet. You willing to do a bit of torture if you need to?" Spike just couldn’t see Buffy torturing anyone, demon or not.
"Let’s just get him tied up and we’ll worry about how to make him talk after, okay?" She hadn’t really thought about what it might take to get the demon to reveal the location of its mate.
Time seemed to crawl as the duo waited in silence cramped together in the small space. To keep from being seen, they were in a far corner, sitting on the floor. Spike was secretly enjoying the feel of Buffy’s firm thigh as it rested against his own in the tight space. Any time Buffy shifted it created a delicious slide of limb against limb that was making it more and more difficult for Spike to sit comfortably. He was fighting the urge to just grab the Slayer and kiss her senseless.
Buffy could feel the almost imperceptible tensing of the muscles in Spike’s well formed leg as they sat next to one another. She remembered how firm all of his muscles had felt that time the previous year when she had spent the better part of the day in Spike’s lap, compliments of Willow’s spell gone wrong. She glanced at his crotch through lowered lashes and wondered just how firm THAT particular muscle might be. Judging by the impressive stretching of material around his zipper, it most likely would be enough to give any girl a happy for the holiday. "No! Bad slayer! No vampire yumminess for you. You kill his kind, not have fantasy sex!" Buffy tried to think of anything other than the physical closeness she was experiencing with this persistent would-be suitor. Still, those kisses had been the best she’d ever had.
Lord knew she had tried to forget how they felt.
Buffy let out a deep sigh at the same time Spike did and they looked at each other sheepishly. "Wish Kris Kringle would bring his padded arse in here so we could get this over and done with. I still have a couple of things to buy before I can get out of this hellhole!" Spike would rather have been whispering words of undying devotion to his beloved but knew there would likely be more than one dead demon if he pressed his luck that far. No, at least he could zero in on the sensations created by Buffy’s nearness and play with the memory later when he was home.
"So," Buffy whispered back, "Is that what you were doing? Christmas shopping?" At Spike’s bashful look, she decided to tease a bit. "Who’re you getting for and what did you buy? Is there some kind of weird demon gift exchange thing I don’t know about?"
"Happens to be that I have friends. That’s what you do, give presents to your friends at Christmas. You’ve got your Scoobies; I’ve got my own pals to buy for," Spike said defensively.
"Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply you don’t have friends. Just because I’ve never met any of them doesn’t mean they don’t exist." Buffy was a bit embarrassed to admit Spike probably knew more about her than she did him. "Let me see the loot!" She grabbed at the larger package and pulled out the robot dog.
"Oooh, it’s a Poo-Chi! Dawn wants one of these sooooo bad but they’re almost forty dollars." Buffy caught the uncomfortable shifting of Spike’s body and his closed eyes. "It IS for Dawn, isn’t it? You bought this for Dawnie!" Buffy looked at the vampire and could swear he was blushing. "That’s so sweet! God, she is gonna love you."
"Never said it was for the Bit. But if it is, it’s not some bribe to make her like me. Platelet likes me just fine without the prezzies," Spike huffed.
"True, you are her knight in black armor. Still, it is sweet of you to get it for her. Mom wanted to, but with the surgery, hospital bills and after care costs, it’s going to be a real small Christmas this year." Buffy sat silently for a bit, then the realization hit her. "Wait a minute! This stuff…it’s ALL for Dawn, isn’t it?"
"No," Spike denied, "Some’s for your mum too. Last thing she needs is to be worrying over her baby’s empty stockin’s. Your mum’s been right nice to me, treats me like a friend, welcome and everything. Don’t get on your high horse and tell me not to do this, Buffy, ‘cause it isn’t all about you, you know." Spike was waiting for the command to return the items and not ever consider worming his way into her family life again, but the words were not spoken.
"Thank you, Spike. That’s really…kind of you." Buffy was struck by the truth of that. This vampire, this creature that--according to the Council—was unable to feel any positive emotion, was showing more kindness to her family than any of her other friends. Not one had asked if Dawn was going to have presents or if her mom needed any help making a nice Christmas for the adolescent. Spike was constantly surprising her in ways that challenged all she had been told by Giles, the Council and Angel. There were times she hated him for that, for shaking up her convictions. Other times, like now, she almost felt like she could love him. It would be frighteningly easy.
"Yeah, well, it’s not like I have any family to do for anyway. ‘Sides, the Bit would be all pouty and annoying if she didn’t get her due under the tree." Spike tried to brush off the whole issue.
They both heard the sounds of the approaching Santa demon at the same time and rose to greet him.
Spike came at him from behind, pinning his arms while Buffy moved in to deliver a chop to his windpipe to subdue him. They had the demon tied up and gagged before he could regain his breath. The only problem was that Santa had chosen to eat at the food court this day and his lunch break was nearly over. They would need answers quickly if they didn’t want anyone coming back to check on his whereabouts.
There was a knock on the door and the voice of the head elf was heard announcing that the line forming for Santa’s second shift with the kiddies. "Five minutes, Mac, nice long line waiting and we don’t want to disappoint the little brats!"
"Damn! Why did he decide to wait ‘til now to get in here anyway?" Buffy was trying to figure out how to get the information they needed and kill the demon before anyone got the wiser.
Buffy looked at the wide-eyed demon and back at Spike and had an idea. "Spike!
Quick, strip Santa here and put on his suit."
"You’ve got to be bloody kidding me, Slayer! No way in hell am I gonna put on that outfit and play child chair for half the kids in Sunnydale! Nothing you can say or threaten will get me in that suit!" Spike looked like he was ready to make a run for it.
"Spiiiiike. Someone has to play Santa and, judging from your bags, you already have been, so why not just dress the part for one teeny tiny time? You can send Jonathan in and he can do a truth spell, I can get this guy to talk and you can go back to your basic black. Come on, for me?" Buffy fluttered her eyelashes at the befuddled vampire.
"NO! And again, no. I am not sitting there with crawlers and droolers all over me, tellin’ me what good little boys and girls they’ve been while their mums look on in adoration." Spike was horrified at the mental picture that was forming. Picture! That was another thing. "They’re taking photographs, Buffy. It wouldn’t just be a few minutes of extreme humiliation. It would be captured on film forever! I’m not doin’ it. I’ll kill the bugger, torture him too. YOU put on the damn suit."
"I can’t. My voice is too high. Besides, you already have the white hair. It has to be you, Spike." Buffy smiled in premature victory as an idea hit her. "Tell you what. You go play Santa just until the next break and I’ll sooo owe you. Name your price. It’s your lucky day, Spike."
Spike stood with his mouth agape, wondering if he dared push his luck with a request for what he really wanted.
"What’s the matter, Spike? You know I’ll come through. Name your price. I can always get money from Giles if that’s what you’re after. Some nice bagged human from the hospital? Can do. What will it take to get you in that suit?" Buffy figured Spike would want something she could ferret out somewhere.
"A date." Spike stared straight into the Slayer’s eyes, unblinking.
"A what?" Buffy had the feeling that the floor had suddenly moved downward at least a foot.
"You heard me, Slayer. A. Date. You know, you’ve had a few. Don’t worry, I’ll be payin’. The whole nine yards …dinner, dancing, kiss at the door…a date." Spike thrust his chin up, defying the slayer to back down on her carte blanche offer.
Buffy felt her heart leap in her chest and her pulse increase alarmingly. A date. With Spike. A perfect excuse for a date with Spike. An excuse that neither Giles nor the Scoobies could find fault with for a date with Spike. Maybe the demon WAS Santa Claus, because Buffy had a feeling she just might have a nice holiday surprise herself, all in the name of a good cause too.
She gulped and bit her top lip before answering, her reply so quiet that Spike almost couldn’t hear it. "Okay. A date. I assume you mean with me?"
"No, with Xander! Of course I mean with you, you silly bint!" Spike replied. He had to restrain himself from grabbing Buffy and spinning her around in happy circles and then kissing the frightened looking demon who had brought about this wonderful opportunity.
"All right. But you have to try to be a convincing Santa, Spike. No snarking at the kiddies and making them cry!"
"I can do that. Best turn around while I put this monstrosity on." Spike had begun stripping the Mimblix as he spoke. "And if you dare laugh at me, It’ll be a mite more than just a goodnight kiss you’ll owe me."
Buffy decided that a laugh was not just inevitable but essential under those circumstances.
He really looked kind of cute with the overstuffed coat and the fake beard that nearly matched the color of his shocking white hair. Buffy had loosened his curls before setting the red cap on his head and shooing him out to the waiting kids. "There! You make a better Santa than this guy anyway. You should get some glasses, Spike, they look cute on you."
"I’m stealin the soddin’ negatives of all those pictures too, Slayer, and you can’t stop me. And don’t you dare tell anyone about this, got it?" Spike grumbled.
Buffy mimicked zipping her lip and promised, "Not a word will pass these lips, I swear."
"Okay, let’s do this. I’ll send in the elf boy." Spike threw open the door with enough force to rock the small house and marched out to his humiliation. He could hear Buffy’s chuckles behind him. "I heard that, missy. Don’t think you’re not payin’ the price either!"
She waited until Spike was out of earshot before whispering, "I sure hope so. Wonder what I’d have to do to earn even more punishment?"
"Um, Buffy? Santa said you needed me in here? Gosh, there’s Santa there! Who’s that then?" Jonathan looked from the underwear clad demon to the suited up Santa now seated on the elevated chair with a small child on his lap.
Buffy looked past Jonathan in time to see the little minx on Spike’s lap tug on his hair as if to pull off a wig and look wide-eyed at the "real" Santa she discovered. She could almost hear the "bloody hells" Spike was no doubt thinking. She had to laugh again at the sight of the Big Bad playing Father Christmas.
"I need a truth spell on this guy and quick, before anyone notices you’re missing," Buffy ordered.
It wasn’t too hard to dispatch the Mimblix after Buffy found out where his mate was hiding. The nicest part was that after his head was removed, the body dissolved into a puddle of greyish goo. No pesky explanations were required for why Santa was suddenly looking more like John the Baptist than St. Nick. Mall management would have to hire a new Santa for the next day, because Buffy was 99 and 99/100% sure that Spike wasn’t going to offer to take the job.
Spike had actually done quite well with the children, with only one screamer the entire time he played Santa. True to his word, he managed to nick the negatives for all the photos taken during his turn at bat.
He was more relieved than he could remember when he finally got out of the outfit and was back to his basic black classic look. Having spent far longer at the mall than he had expected, it was past sundown when he and Buffy were able to leave without drawing attention to the change in Santas.
The two walked companionably side by side as they headed for Spike’s Desoto for the short trip to the Mimblix’s cave lair. "So, about that date…Saturday free for you, Slayer? Probably not a good thing to mention the reason to Captain Cardboard if you have to cancel a date with him."
"Saturday’s good for me. Riley has stuff to do and we were just going to hang out at my house Saturday night. I’ll tell him I have Slayer stuff to do. No big." Buffy hoped Spike couldn’t tell her heart was racing at the thought of her payment for his help with the demon.
"I’m thinking I don’t really want the date to end on a dusty note, so maybe we should take a drive up the coast for dinner and what all." Spike looked at Buffy from the corner of his eye, trying to judge her reaction to the suggestion. He noticed her pulse accelerating and dared to hope she was at least a little excited at the idea of spending the evening with him.
"Sounds great. Should I dress up or just be casual?" Buffy fished for clues.
"You look good in anything, but I’m thinking I’d like to show you off. Dress up. We’ll do this first class." Spike decided it was time for another trip to the pawnbroker. He wanted plenty of cash ready to lavish on his girl. Who knows, if the date went well, maybe he’d be buying that necklace for her stocking like he only wished he could earlier in the day.
"I can do first class." Buffy had a dreamy look on her face as she began to imagine Spike in something other than his typical jeans and tee shirt. She began to blush as she began to imagine him in far less. If she read his payment demand correctly, that goodnight kiss would lead to possible salty goodness, maybe even getting a little groiny before the night was finished.
"If we’re taking this heap, you’d better clean it out, ‘cause I’m so not going anywhere dressed up in this mess!" They had arrived at the DeSoto and Buffy took in the empty bottles and wrappers in the back seat of the old car. "And I mean detailed too, buddy! This bucket better shine or the whole deal’s off."
Spike lifted an eyebrow and smirked at his Slayer. "I can do clean."
The drive to the cave was filled with companionable silence as each indulged in his or her own private fantasy of how Saturday was going to play out. Neither seemed to notice how quiet it was in the car.
The Mimblix’s mate was as easily dispatched as he had been. The two toddlers tied up in a small nook were returned to their homes, unharmed except for some nightmare worthy memories of the ‘bad lady that was going to eat us’. Spike and Buffy were treated as heroes by the relieved parents, who were only told that the children had been kidnapped by a deranged woman who was not a threat any longer.
Spike let Buffy off at her house and took the DeSoto to the underground garage where he stored it. He was already planning on spending the next day getting his chariot ready for his goddess to ride in.
Buffy snuggled closer to the fully sated vampire at her side. She had never enjoyed a punishment more in her life! The date had been even better than her imaginings and her speculations on Spike’s muscles were proved inadequate as well.
They had eaten fresh seafood at a lovely restaurant that was actually on the beach and followed that up by dancing at a trendy little club until Buffy thought she couldn’t dance anymore. Spike was a perfect partner in looks and movement.
Spike had looked at Buffy in awed wonder when he had picked her up. She had opted for a sleek, violet slip dress in clingy silk. The deep vee neckline showed a respectable amount of cleavage and the small amethyst necklace that nestled there drew Spike’s eyes right to her assets. She hadn’t taken time to dress this well since she had started dating Riley. For some reason, Finn liked more casual dates like picnics and sporting events. She hadn’t gone out of her way to be elegant in ages.
The look on Spike’s face when he had seen her had been worth the effort. He looked a perfect partner for her too. Gone were the black jeans and boots, replaced with a suit that could easily have been from the pages of GQ. He was still in black, of course, but the shirt was a deep, deep blue that made his eyes look even more blue than usual. Buffy felt she could swim in them forever.
On the dance floor, they had drawn the eye of every other person in the club. Not just because they danced together as if they had been doing so their entire lives, but they looked so completely right together. Every move was instinctively in sync as their smoothly fitting bodies touched and dipped and glided across the dance floor.
The DeSoto had gleamed and sparkled. Spike had even removed the shoe polish from the windows since they weren’t going to be driving in daylight anyway. The old car finally looked like the classic Spike had always claimed it was.
Buffy had been the one to suggest Spike come in for a cup of tea when he took her home and gave her that promised goodnight kiss. Her mom was still at the hospital and Dawn was staying over at Janice’s for the night. Buffy wondered if she was going to have to remind Spike that she had laughed at him in the Santa costume to urge him to punish her further as he had promised he would do.
Buffy hadn’t been too sure of how far she wanted this date to go when it started, but as the evening continued she only wondered why she had been so blind for so long. All her insistence that her greatest desire was for a vanilla life with a normal guy went out the window with the first soul-melting kiss on her front porch. It was as if a light had suddenly turned on and she could see at last.
Maybe it wasn’t fair to Riley to do comparisons, but there really weren’t any in the long run. Spike wasn’t Riley; he wasn’t Angel either. He wasn’t like any man she had ever been with. She knew there would be rough waters ahead as her friends and family all would try to weigh in with an opinion about the mistake she was making by choosing the sexy vampire at her side, but being with Spike would be worth the headache. He was her perfect match.
Spike was in a daze. He had hoped to manage a nice long snogging session at the end of the date. He hadn’t counted on the Slayer taking it further. It had been her soft hand that had undone his belt and lowered his zipper. Her warm grasp that fondled him into near climax as her mouth teased his with kisses even hotter than the ones he remembered. It was that same hand that took his and led him upstairs to her room and helped undress him as well.
As he lay in the dark, Buffy cuddled in his arms as he gently caressed her arm and pressed kisses in her hair he vowed that this would not be a one-time thing. He’d be the man she needed at her side and prove himself in any way she demanded. He would wipe away all the pain of her past experiences with men and replace the memories with ones of wonder and delight. He could hear her heart beating for both of them and knew that when her heart finally came to a stop, he would be dust.
For this honor, he would wear any silly costume the lady demanded, accept any trial, fulfill any request, even try to make friends with her gang of annoying twits. He would gladly play the lover’s fool in the court of his queen.
There was a new year looming and a new beginning for them both to look forward to.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.