Author's Chapter Notes:
I think I’ve fixed the problem! If you are reading this, my computer has let me post it!
Santa Claws by Lilachigh

Chapter 4 Red Mist Closing

There was a bone-chilling cold, so deep that Buffy felt every drop
of blood in her veins had frozen into ice. She knew her eyes were
open: she couldn't blink. Vaguely she was aware of Spike's hand
in hers.

Were they moving? She couldn't even tell - the darkness was
complete and suffocating and she was going to die again!

Then - pop! Her feet hit ground, her knees crumpled and she was
rolling over and over, tangled up with Spike's arms and legs, so
cold, so very cold....

And she could see again!

She forced her frozen lips to say, "Wow!"

A little way away, Xander and Anya were picking themselves up,
groaning, shivering, gasping for breath.

Spike was still sitting on the ground humming what sounded
suspiciously like Jingle Bells. He looked up at Buffy and grinned.

"Oh what fun it is to ride in a - bit cold for you, was it, pet?"

Buffy glared. "I suppose you enjoyed that?"

"Well, nice little trip. Cold didn't bother me, quite restful, really."
He stood up and stretched, then wrapped an arm round her
shoulders. Buffy couldn't help watching the easy play of the
muscles across his chest. Sometimes he reminded her of a panther,
the way he moved.

In comparison, Xander stumbled across towards them, tripping
over his own feet. Buffy could hear his teeth chattering.

'Where on earth are we, Buffy?"

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Well, on earth is probably wrong for a

"I wasn't talking to you, bleach boy! And take your hands off

"Xander! Chill out. We're not going to start arguing about my
relationship with Spike. We're here to - Actually, Spike, where
the hell are we!"

She gazed round, her green eyes widening. They were in some sort
of cavern, a space so vast, so high and wide, she couldn't see the
roof or the walls. Every foot was filled by shelves, boxes, cartons,
crates. They towered up into the blackness above their heads.

"It's like that final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark," Xander said
enthusiastically. "When the government are storing the Ark in
some huge warehouse. Only this is - bigger, much bigger."

Spike swung round slowly, scenting the air, then he glanced across
at Anya who'd been silent since their arrival.

"Different dimension, do you reckon?" he asked.

She nodded. "Yes, but not demon. Just - very old. There's no
ending - and no beginning. You could walk for days and never get
to the last shelf."

Buffy sighed. "So, big and non-demony place. I'm guessing Santa
Claus store room, right?"

Anya shuddered. "It's too cold. It all feels dead, Buffy. There
should be light and warmth and - " she hesitated, and Spike broke
in - "happiness, pet. This place is sad. Bloody tragic. Can't you
sense it?"

Buffy pulled a face. What he said was true. She could feel the
gloom and despair in the air.

"Well, tragic or not, we're here, so Father Christmas must be
somewhere close by, right?"

Anya shrugged. "It depends on D'Hoffryn and what sort of mood
he was in when he sent us here. We could be on the other side of
this universe from where we need to be. We could walk for years
and still not get to the end. We could - "

"OK! Getting your point, Ahn!" Xander broke in. "So, what's the

"We split up," Buffy said firmly. "You and Anya go that way - "
she nodded to the left - "And Spike and I will try over here. And
remember, we're looking for the children he's taken. They must be
our first priority. We have to rescue them. We can deal with Santa
Claus later but the kids must be saved."

"I know it's probably a silly question," Xander said, "but exactly
how are we going to get back with the kids, even if we find them?
I mean there isn't any sort of big glowing portal thingy with an
arrow pointing through it marked 'Way Out', is there?"

Buffy bit her lip. She'd already realised that their escape route was
non-existent. She only hoped that somewhere, in that other,
happier dimension, Willow and Dawn were working on the

'Spike - give me your shirt!"

The blue eyes danced as the vampire gravely pulled off his leather
coat and slid the red silk shirt off over his black T shirt. "Any
excuse to get the clothes off my back, Goldilocks," he murmured
under his breath.

Buffy resolutely ignored him and dropped the shirt on the ground.
"Right, try and remember which way you went. Mark the route if
you can. Move boxes. Scatter the contents. Make like Hansel and
Gretel, but get back here to this spot in half an hour, Xander. OK?"

He nodded and taking Anya's hand, walked off into the dark
alleyway between the towering stacks of goods.

"Hope they'll be OK," Buffy said anxiously.

Spike hugged her briefly. "They'll be fine. Anya's got brains and
bloody good instincts. She'll hide if she has to. She won't let
anything happen to your pet boy."

They turned and walked together down the opposite aisle, their
footsteps echoing in the silence.

"Why did you do it, pet?" Spike asked at last.

Buffy didn't bother to pretend she didn't know what he was talking
about. She'd told all her friends that she and Spike had been in
love. There was no going back from that now.

"Are you sorry I did?" she said quietly, a dreadful thought
burrowing into her head. She'd been so sure he would be pleased.
But what it he wasn't? What if being marked down as the Slayer's
boyfriend, lover, significant other, or probably some even ruder
demon nickname, was the last thing William the Bloody really

Making love to her might be fun for him. He might say he loved
her, sincerely and often, but that was just between the two of them.
Having their relationship out in the open - well, that was
completely different.

Spike stopped and pulled her roughly round into his arms. He
glared down at her, his eyes furious. "How can you even think
that?" he snarled, vamping into game face, and the fury in his
voice burnt away the last sticky pieces of uncertainty that clung to
her mind.

Then his mouth was on hers, searching, asking an age-old question
that could only be answered by her lips, her tongue.

"Yuck! That's gross. You'll get her spit all down your throat!"

Buffy pulled away, her heart racing and spun round. To her
amazement, little Eric, the small boy she and Spike had met at the
children's home was standing there, staring at them, his jeans and
T-shirt torn and dusty, his blond hair a tousled mop, and a look of
horror on his freckled face.

Spike was busy buttoning his duster and Buffy swallowed a smile.
She knew exactly why he was pretending he was cold. The
physical reaction to their embrace was all too obvious!

"Eric, how on earth - " She stopped and glanced around, her gaze
hunting for enemies in all the dark shadowy places. "Did Santa - ?"
"He came to get me last night," Eric said cheerfully. "He said he
needed one more and it had to be the youngest. I was the youngest
left. Why were you kissing her? Is she your girl friend? I thought
you were a mommy and daddy. I thought you might be looking for
a little boy."

His voice trembled and then his face toughened and Buffy's heart
flipped. No one of six years old should look like that - ever!

"We were kissing because - "

"Because it's a nice thing to do when you love someone," Spike
broke in swiftly. "Listen, kid, where's Santa Claus now? Do you

Eric regarded him from under dark lashes that rivalled the
vampire's for length. "He's gone away - he won't be back till
Christmas Eve he said. We've got lots to do till then. Does she
taste funny?"

Buffy dropped to her knees, wondering if every male she met
today was going to explore her love life in detail. "Eric, can you
take us to the other kids? Do you know the way?"

He treated her to a long look of scorn. He was a six year old in a
giant toy-shop. How could he not know the way?

She stood up and held out her hand. Eric took it, then automatically
took one of Spike's and skipped along between them, swinging his
feet off the ground every three steps and giggling.

"Should I go and find Xander and Anya, pet?" Spike asked over
the child's head.

"No, we'll handle this on our own for now. I don't want to have to
watch their backs if it gets physical."

Spike nodded. The longer he was away from Xander's accusing
glare the better. He was still trying to come to terms with what
Buffy had done tonight. There was no going back from this. He
wanted to shout and yell with happiness, with the sheer delight of
her final declaration of their love for each other.

But there would be consequences. He'd lived too long and too
well not to understand that. He'd seen the look on Xander's face
long after Buffy had turned away. That hatred and rejection
weren't aimed at the Slayer, they were aimed at him.

They turned another corner and were faced with an even longer
aisle, stretching on into infinity. He glanced down at the blond
head by his side and smiled. Eric could have been their child, if
things had been different. He was a good kid. Brave. Sharp teeth -
Spike's finger still ached from where he'd bitten it. Teeth were
useful in a fight.

Their child! Well, that was never going to happen and in the future,
would she regret that? Would she wake up one Christmas morning
and wonder why she wasn't hanging up a couple of stockings for
her own hostages to fortune? When that day came, would she look
for someone else to give her what she needed?

He frowned and fought to keep his human face. He didn't want to
terrify the boy by vamping. But the thought of anyone else
touching her, sleeping with Buffy, making love to her - No!

A quarter of a mile away, Xander and Anya were arguing.
"Sweetie, I know it's interesting and appalling and fascinating, but
don't you have any other topic of conversation except for Buffy
and Spike having sex?"

Xander scowled. "They probably haven't - well, you know."

"Yes, you're quite right there. I mean you could see from their
expressions and the touching and the body language that getting
naked and indulging in sexual intercourse had never crossed their

"Anya! This is Buffy we're talking about. How dare that filthy,
perverted, evil - thing - think that I'd allow - "

Anya stood stock still in the middle of the passage-way, all
the impatient good humour draining from her face. "You allow?
Xander, what is wrong with you. You don't own Buffy! She isn't
your wife, or fiancée, or even your girl friend. In case you've
forgotten, standing right here is the person who has that role in
your life. Why do you act as if she's your personal property?"

Xander had the grace to look shame-faced for a second or two.
"Nonsense, Ahn. She's a friend, our friend. I won't let her be taken
for a ride by another dead creature. Angel was bad enough - and
that's a pun I didn't intend to make - but Spike? At least Angel
was tall, dark and brooding. Spike's just - pathetic."

Anya started walking again, quickly, her heels tapping out a cross
tune on the floor. "But sexy," she shot back over her shoulder.
"Very sexy," she added firmly.

Xander stood watching her go, his fists clenched by his sides.
Now even his girl friend was saying she preferred the vampire. He
could feel the bitter ache of jealousy burning through him. All his
life, there had always been someone else in front of him who was
bigger, better, stronger, more interesting. And usually it was
someone who Buffy loved - Angel, Parker, Riley.

He didn't know why he felt so strongly about Buffy and Spike. Did
he envy that togetherness that he'd seen tonight? He and Anya
were close. And he loved Anya, he really did.

But when Buffy had told them, his mind had raced back to seeing
Spike in bed in his crypt, a few weeks ago when Buffy had become
invisible. Exercising, he'd said.

Now, with sweat beading a face that was still cold from travelling
into this other dimension, Xander played out the scene and realised
with a sick, sinking sensation, exactly what the Slayer and the
Vampire had been doing.

Ignoring Anya, he turned on his heel and headed back to find
them. A red mist was closing in on his brain and all he knew was
that Spike must never touch Buffy again.

To be continued

You must login (register) to review.