Christmas day came, at last.
Buffy had visited Spike a time or two, started arguments that led to wild sex and, as always, ran out vowing to never darken his door again. Other than that, Spike had not been around the Summer’s place or the Magic Box at all.
Buffy was a bit surprised, and hurt if she’d admit it, when no present from Spike found its way under her tree. True, she had not picked anything out for him either, but he was supposed to love her! She had expected the vampire to use the excuse of a holiday to try to ease his way into her heart as well as her bed. It "didn’t seem like him to let a chance for a romantic gesture pass without jumping on me…..it, jumping on IT," she thought.
It wasn’t as happy a Christmas as some years past. Willow and Tara were still separated and Willow was still having withdrawl from the magics. Willow moped around the house with the shakes and Dawn avoided her sisters best friend as much as possible.
Still, the scoobies all came for dinner and a gift exchange. Tara even dropped by for dessert and brought presents for everyone. Giles had called from Bath to wish them all a joyous holiday. All was calm, all was bright, but, no Spike at all.
Xander was the one to voice it. "Hey, Santa got my letter and dusted dead boy, jr. I guess. Nothing less would keep the bleached stalker from using a Christian holiday to try to get to Buffy. Pass the eggnog and let’s have a toast to old saint Nick!"
Dawn huffed and left the room. Buffy just looked away, not wanting to give any indication that she and Spike were anything but enemies currently fighting on the same side. Tara decided it wasn’t right to just let that lay out there and softly said, "Xander, Spike isn’t all bad. He helped a lot last summer and saved our lives lots of times. I don’t think Christmas is the best time to bring up old issues, do you?" Willow looked at her lover hopefully, maybe she would extend those feelings to her as well, she thought.
At the end of the evening, Willow had to console herself that Tara had spent a few hours in her company even if all was not forgiven. Buffy had to convince herself that Spike probably had something private planned at his crypt for later. She decided to drop in just in case he had something for her. "Oh, yeah, he’ll have something for me," she thought and then told herself to shut up.
Dawn and Willow headed up to bed after Buffy said she was going to do a quick sweep to protect all those going to midnight services and that they shouldn’t wait up for her.
As she headed for the door, she saw an envelope on the table where they put the mail. There had been no mail delivery that day, but there was a red and green envelope addressed to her in typed letters. She put down her stake and took the envelope to the living room to open it.
Inside there was a carefully typed letter that read, "This Christmas you are to be given a day of heaven on earth, or as close as possible, anyway. All of your friends feel terrible for pulling you out of heaven even if we are all glad to have you here. Maybe this day will give you a rest from the troubles you have had since you got back. Arrangements have been made for you to have the next two days off from the Doublemeat Palace and here is some cash to cover the pay you will miss. You will find gift certificates enclosed to be used the day after Christmas. Please take the whole day for this. I have arranged for Spike to take Dawn duty both days. He did okay with her last summer and she will be safe with him there. Merry Christmas, Buffy. Your Secret Santa."
Enclosed were certificates for a two hour full body massage with aromatherapy. Full spa treatment at the new, highly touted local day spa. Every possible pampering from head to toe was covered and it would take a whole day to have it done. There was also a certificate for dinner at the best Italian resturant in Sunnydale and for the local movie theater to be used the day after the spa day. Two days of rest and "me time" for Buffy, Dawn sitting included.
Buffy couldn’t figure out who the secret Santa could be, but figured the gifts cost too much for just one of her friends to have set this up. She decided they must have all chipped in to give this to her and wiped the tears that had escaped her eyes at the thought of how much love had gone into the gift. She figured that Tara had put the envelope on the table when she came in earlier and had likely been the one to talk Spike into watching Dawn.
She headed for the crypt with a lighter step than she had in a long while. Her friends loved her and she loved them too. They had thought they were helping her by bringing her back and it was time to put aside those hard feelings at last. Spike had even been decent by agreeing to keep Dawn safe while she took a break from the drudgery that was her life. Life could be good, she thought.
Spike’s crypt wasn’t precisely festive, but he was a vampire, after all. Yet, he had lovely red and green candles all aglow and a yummy Merlot open in anticipation of a visit from Buffy. He had a small gift of a lovely jeweled dagger he said he had dug up a few years before. There was a big gift downstairs in his bed, she thought with a naughty grin, that required them to both do a bit of unwrapping. Then, as usual, Buffy left before the sheets had even cooled and headed home.
Maybe it was the spirit of the season, but this time she didn’t say a single bitchy thing, didn’t kick, or hit him and didn’t claim that she would never be in his bed again. Things were looking up.
Spike’s smoldering blanket had become a fairly common sight in the Summers home. On the day after Christmas, he showed up soon after breakfast, grumbling about humans not having a clue about vampire’s sleep patterns.
"Well, I’m here like I promised. Hope the bit cuts me a little slack ‘cause this is the middle of the bleedin’ night for me. Don’t know why she needs a keeper anyway, Glory’s gone and it’s daylight out there," he muttered as he scowled.
"Maybe I’ll let you off the hook if you tell me who my secret Santa is," Buffy cajoled.
"Not lookin’ to get dusted, luv. Promised to keep it to myself and don’t go back on my word," he replied. Then he leaned in and placed a quick kiss on his beloved’s lips.
Buffy headed out to the spa and a day of pampering and bliss. If she had looked back she would have been treated to a look of pure pleasure on Spike’s face as he anticipated how good she was going to feel all because of him.
He was pretty sure that Buffy would have turned down his gift if she had known it had come from him. This way was nearly as good. He had some time with Dawn and was happy knowing that he was responsible for Buffy being treated like the goddess she was, if only for a day or two.
Dawn came into the kitchen just as her sister left. She looked at the expression on Spike’s face and shook her head at the silliness of Buffy’s holding herself back from such a great guy.
"Hey, what’d you bring for us to watch while Buffy is getting all greased and fluffed?", she asked Spike. "It better be good since I’ve been such a good girl in not telling who played Santa, AND didn’t even pitch a fit at having a babysitter. So, Princess Bride?" she asked eagerly and reached for the sack in Spike’s hand.
"Bloody hell, bit, we watched that nearly every night last summer. Don’t you want to expand you horizons a bit?", he teased. She had pulled the Blockbuster bag open and squealed at seeing the favored movie and a couple of other chick flicks that Spike knew she would love. He really was the best, she thought. She didn’t even mind that it looked like he also planned for them to see Dawn of The Dead at some point too. Maybe she’d be asleep by then.
When Dawn finished telling Spike her plans for the next two days he began to think that the cost of this present was higher than any vampire should have to pay. Monopoly he would agree to, twister only got her a frown and a resounding, "No!" These were going to be two very long days, he thought.
Buffy returned home from the spa feeling like a happy limp noodle. The masseuse had managed to untie every knot in her muscles. She felt boneless and as content as a well fed kitten in front of a fire.
She had to smile at the sight of Spike and Dawn asleep on the couch with the blue screen on the TV showing they had probably missed the last of whatever movie they had watched.
She had to fight the urge to brush the soft curls from Spike’s forehead. He looked so innocent when he slept. She wondered how he would look if she just stayed and slept with him after sex. He always wanted to cuddle, maybe he would look something like this. She felt herself growing warm at the thought. Time to wake the vamp and send him home before she made a very large mistake.
Dawn nearly sleepwalked to her room while Spike prepared to leave.
"Thanks for watching out for Dawn, Spike. Not just tonight, but all last summer. I don’t think I said thanks for that," she said, and laid a hand on his arm.
"S’okay slayer, I said till the end of time and I meant it," he reminded her.
They smiled at each other and kissed gentlly at the door. Buffy watched as he walked towards his crypt, smiling at how normal it all felt.
The next day, Buffy slept in, grateful for the days off from the Doublemeat drudgery. She hadn’t felt this rested and content since she’d been back. She could hear Willow and Dawn downstairs and decided to let them work out their issues by themselves for once.
That evening, right on time, Spike arrived to keep Dawn company while Buffy went for dinner and a movie. She had convinced the scoobies to join her without letting them know that she knew the gift had come from them. Only Tara and Dawn were not going to join her.
The movie was forgetable, but it made for a nice change just being out. Dinner, on the other hand, was wonderful. The resturant was excellent and everything was tempting. As Buffy ate her shrimp scampi, she felt she had to thank everyone for the lovely gift of the past two days. They were the best friends anyone had ever had and she wanted them to know she did not take them for granted.
"I really thank you guys for this", she said. The three friends looked at her and each other in puzzlement. "Well, Buff, you’re welcome, but thanks for what?" Xander asked.
"Come on you guys, none of you could have afforded yesterday and today by yourselves. I know you all chipped in for this. I just want you to know that I really appreciate all the love that went into this Christmas gift. I have the best friends in the world," she said, tearing up.
"While I agree that we are the best friends in the world, I gotta say ‘huh’ to the thanking bit," said Xander with a confused look.
"Buffy obviously thinks we spent our hard earned money to give her the day spa and days off. She must think we are dong much better than we are, sweetheart. Obviously your gift had to come from Giles because he’s the only one with money like that to throw around," Anya added. "All our gifts came from the Magic Box, as you should remember, because you claimed to really like the Mugswold mask of visions when you opened it on Christmas. Really, Buffy, we aren’t made of money you know," she finished.
"Yeah, it was probably Giles, Buff. You know how he worries about you all the time," agreed Willow. "Besides, who else could blackmail Spike into staying with Dawn," she concluded.
"Huh, I though sure it was a group gift from all of you. I mean, some of the things that were arranged at the spa….well Giles wouldn’t have had a clue," Buffy said.
"What kind of things do you mean?" asked Willow.
"You know, the scent used for the bathes and aromatherapy for one, and my favorite lotions and polishes…stuff like that," she answered. "I mean, Giles, love the guy to pieces, but I’m sure he’d pay someone NOT to know those things about me," she said.
"Maybe you should beat up Spike for an answer to who the secret Santa is. That’d be a win-win. You’d get your answer and get to beat up captain peroxide. Hey, maybe I could watch!" Xander said gleefully.
"Spike! No, it couldn’t be. Where would he have come up with any money for a gift like that? But, who else would know her so well. Who else knew how much it had hurt being pulled from heaven. Who else had a romantic streak a mile wide," she realized as she thought it through.
"Spike," she said aloud.
"Yeah," Xander agreed. He missed the look on Buffy’s face that explained that the calling out of Spike’s name was one of realization, not a plan to beat information from the vamp.
When dinner ended, Willow decided to drop by her parent’s house for a short visit, probably not coming home for a few hours. Xander and Anya headed back for the many orgasms that Anya had declared Xander owed her for the holiday. Buffy prepared to go home to thank her benefactor.
Once again, Spike and Dawn had fallen asleep on the couch, video still playing. It looked like they had some sort of Monty Python festival tonight.
Buffy woke Dawn and sent her to bed, asking Spike to wait a moment for her to come back down.
Spike ran a nervous hand in his curled hair. Buffy had an odd look on her face when she had asked him to stay a while. He wasn’t sure if he could read what was going on in her head and that scared him a bit.
"Well, Spike, got any decent movies in that bag of yours, cause I’m up for a late show and a cool arm around me," she said shyly.
Spike wasn’t sure what he was hearing and it showed. "Slayer….. Buffy, what’s going on here. Are you playing with the lovesick vampire, you bored, or what?" he asked.
"No, I just want to spend some snuggle time with Santa, that’s all. Kinda’ a night out of time. Just like your gift to me was like a moment out of the regular world, same here. Tomorrow we’ll probably be back to the same angst and drive each other crazy. Tonight, I’d kinda like to drive each other crazy in a good way," she said.
"Thank you for the beautiful gift. Funny how a vampire is the one to try to give a bit of heaven to the slayer, and not in the drain you dry and kill you way, either. You’re one of a kind, Spike. I don’t know if I’ll ever figure you out," she finished.
"Not much to figure, pet, I just love you and want you happy s’all. Nothing new there. Told you once that I’m love’s bitch, and told you I’m your willing slave. Not my fault if you have to make it more complicated than it is," Spike said tenderly.
He looked at her the way he had when she had first returned from the dead….that heart in his eyes look that haunted her sleep ever since that night. The look that made her question everything when she thought about it. That look that took her back to his crypt night after night trying to appease a hunger within her, a need.
She sat put a tape in the machine and sat next to a very surprised Spike. Then she further shocked him by snuggling next to him with her head on his shoulder as the film began.
"Pet, what if Willow comes home or Dawn comes downstairs?" he asked.
"For tonight, why don’t we both agree to not care, just enjoy," she said, much to his delight.
When Willow got home she saw them curled into each other on the couch fast asleep.
"Woah, I’d better wake Buffy up before she freaks and stakes him without thinking," she said to herself.
"Buffy", she whispered. "Buffy, you need to wake up. I think you fell asleep and fell on Spike and I know you don’t want to be encouraging him or anything," her well meaning friend said.
"What," Buffy said groggily. "Hey, Wil, you’re home early. What did you say?" she asked sleepily.
"Um, you, Spike, sleep," Willow blushed as she tried to clue in her friend.
"Ooooooh," Buffy said, suddenly awake. "I guess I fell over when I dozed off. Better wake the undead."
Spike jerked awake at her touch. His mind trying to catch up with his body in alertness. As he struggled to straighten himself and move away from the warm and lovely Buffy he dropped his lighter behind the couch cushion without realizing it.
"Hey, Willow. Must’ve fallen asleep. All those early hours when all good vampires usually sleep catchin’ up with a fella, I guess. Woah, hey, Buffy, you got home!" he said. He then pretended to be surprised to see Buffy there, much less next to him.
"Well, I’m off then. Say goodnight to the bit for me. Night Red, Buffy," he said on his way out.
Willow looked at Buffy oddly as she thought she heard her friend say under her breath, "and I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight, merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight. Goodnight Spike, and thank you."