DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS?
Buffy sat before the fireplace listening to everyone around her talking about the past year. Willow and Kennedy were telling Dawn about the house they were building. Xander was talking with Giles on how to become a full fledged watcher. Faith and Robin were in the kitchen working on stuffing for the turkey. Everyone else was down in the basement playing video games in the family room. All she could think about was a certain pair of blue eyes and the pain of never seeing them again.
Andrew had finally broken down and told her about Spike's return and everything that had happened with Dana. The pain it caused her still hurt so badly she couldn't find a reason to give thanks to anyone or anything. Soon after finding out about Spike, she found out a few things about her then boyfriend as well. Seems he shared a past with Angel and Spike that included having sex with both Darla and Dru.
She wasn't supposed to find out about that, but she heard Bryon, the Immortal bragging about it to his friends one night. Then he continued on to tell them how he made sure the two vampires stayed away from Buffy when they'd come to Rome. Bragging how he had them searching for a head, and running all over the city. He was the only ex she had ever killed and hoped he stayed that way. Turned out he was working with Wolfram and Hart as a contract killer.
No one noticed as she slipped on her coat and boots and snuck out the side door. The weather in Cleveland was cold and the ground covered in snow, making it look more like Christmas than Thanksgiving.
Coming here was Dawn's idea of a family get together and celebration of life. All the survivors from Sunnydale were present and accounted for, waiting for dinner to be placed on table. Since it was an American tradition they decided it would be best if they came to Faith and Robin's house.
Before she knew it, she found herself sitting on the park bench watching a few kids as they had snowball fights. Ever since Andrew told her that Spike had fought beside Angel on that dark rainy night she felt something had died inside her. It was worse than having left him to die to save the world. His not wanting her to know that he was alive made her feel almost as bad as when she'd been pulled from Heaven.
A part of her understood why he didn't want to see her again. He had a chance to move on with his life and start over and that she reminded him of times he'd rather forget. In a way she had gotten what she deserved. He in no way owed her any explanations, but that didn't make it hurt less. For she'd come to think he was different, and had come to understand her better than anyone else. But in the end, he was the same…Buffy Summers wasn't worth a second go, or a third.
"I wonder if this is why all Slayers die young?" She asked herself. "We get tired of saving the world and being left a shell of who we used to be."
"Lovely day, don't you think?" A kindly old man asked.
Buffy looked up at the man with a white beard and a cheery smile, and said, "Lovely indeed."
"You could say it like you mean it." He chuckled as he sat down beside her. "Care to tell this old man your troubles and woes?"
Buffy felt comforted by his presence. His eyes sparkled with affection that somehow matched the welcoming smile. He was robust and she swore by the tint of red to his cheeks he was a bit jolly from too much holiday cheer.
"Not sure you'd believe me." She replied as she turned away and watched as more snow started to fall. "My life would make a movie of the week."
"Then let me ask, what would you like for Christmas?" He asked.
"Christmas, Santa Claus, all merry and white. Angels, mistletoe, trees and lights and everything bright. I'm not sure I believe in Christmas any more." She told him, not hiding the sadness that was evident in her voice.
"Oh, child I don't believe you."
"I know deep down you believe, just that so much has weighed it down." He answered. "Just tell me the one thing you want most for Christmas."
Buffy thought for only a second as she told him her answer with such conviction, "Spike. I want Spike."
"Now was that very hard to say?" He asked, as he pointed across the street.
Buffy looked at him and then over to where he pointed. There was no mistaking who was standing there. No one would be caught out in this weather in that coat, let alone look so good in it.
"Spike!" She whispered as she stood up and rubbed her eyes.
There he stood, not a figment of her imagination, but really there. He seemed to be waiting for her to come to him and she didn't want to disappoint him. Breaking into a run she darted across the park and the street to stand before him.
"Are you really here?" She asked as she reached up to cup his face.
"I'm here, luv." He replied as he leaned into her touch.
"Don't leave again, please don't leave me again." She mumbled as the tears fell down her cheeks, not caring if they chapped her skin.
"Don't cry, Pet. We'll be together forever now." He told her, as he wrapped his arms around her tight. "I won't leave you, and you won't leave me. Just so you know there's a few people waiting to see you. One in particular, will have my head, if I don't get you there pretty soon."
"You've been here all along?" She asked with a confused look on her face.
Spike realized she didn't know what happened as he hugged her closer. His girl had no clue that the car hadn't missed her a few blocks back. She didn't know that she'd died instantly and was being brought back to Heaven.
"I think we need to take a walk, luv." He told her as he stepped back and took her hand in his. "I hope you're okay with this once you find out what happened."
"Will you be there?" She asked.
"Always." He promised as he leaned in a kissed her hard and said, "I love you, never stopped."
"Me too!" She replied as she returned the kiss.
Buffy noticed the sirens as they grew closer to a crowd that had gathered. She saw Dawn sobbing in Giles' arms and Faith, Willow, and Xander crying as well. Robin had tears in his eyes as he held onto Faith. The other slayers were huddling together comforting each other..
"Watch, luv." Spike told her as he moved behind her and wrapped his arms around her pulling her against him, making her feel loved and sheltered. "I'm here, never leaving. We have an eternity together now."
Buffy watched as the crowd parted and recognized the boots on the person being lifted on the ambulance cart. The person was wearing the same pants, coat, and mittens as she was. Then the person's face came to view and she understood. Spike had come to take her home.
"Will Mom be there?" she asked as she snuggled into his embrace.
"Can I somehow let them know I'm okay? I don't want them to worry about me." She asked, still a bit worried they'd try and bring her back again.
"Yes." He said, knowing she was thinking about the last time she had died, and her friends had resurrected her.
She looked at him and smiled, "Then I'm okay with this. I'd rather be here with you than there without you."
"You won't regret it, I promise."
"I really only have one regret." She said.
He tilted his head and gave her a worried look. "What would that be, Pet?"
"That we didn't make love that night and had told you then that I loved you. I never felt as complete as when you held me those nights. I never felt so loved since night you found me alone in that house."
"I guess we both came to realize what love is then. I couldn't come back and put you through all that again. Then I let me pride get in the way when you were involved with The Immortal. The battle with evil incorporated, I couldn't involve you in that either."
"You should've, but what's done is done. We're together now, and nothing else matters."
"You've grown up, luv."
"I can now lay down my conflicts and let someone else worry about it from now on. No more conflicted Buffy, now all comfortable in love Buffy."
"Let's go and see your Mum. She's going to yell at me for taking so long as it is."
"No she won't, she likes you and I'll protect you."
Buffy walked over to stand beside Dawn. Her heart went out to her sister, but her day would come to join them someday. Leaning in she kissed her cheek and whispered in her sister's ear. "I'm fine. I'm happy now, I found Heaven again and Spike's with me. Everything will be okay. Let me rest in Peace."
Dawn hiccupped as she suddenly smiled. She felt a peck on her cheek like someone had kissed her. Buffy's voice whispered to her and a peace settled over her. She knew her sister was being taken care of now by the Big Bad. All sins that Spike may have committed against her family were now forgiven, for he came to take care of his Slayer.
"She's at peace now." Dawn told the others as she looked up toward the sky. "Take care of them Spike."
No one said anything, having felt something like a kiss bestowed on each of them as well and Buffy's voice telling them she was okay. She was going home and she was not alone. Rupert smiled sadly as he prayed for both Buffy and Joyce's happy reunion.
Buffy hugged Spike after kissing the last one, her best friend Willow. Suddenly something dawned on her as she looked up at him and asked, "Who was the old man talking to me in the park?"
"Buffy, do you believe in Santa Claus?"
"I do now." She said as she pulled him down for a kiss that left them both wishing they didn't have somewhere else they had to be.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas ficlet. There is tissue warning, and character death. This is a gift for Kelly who inspires me to read, for she's an awesome story teller. As a thank you for the hard work I've sent her in helping me with my stories.