It’s been pointed out to me that I haven’t posted a short fic or multiple-parts fic in over a month by someone who shall remain nameless and bitchy *coughs*[info]savoytruffle*clears throat*. Anyway, sorry ‘bout that, to any of you’se been dyin’ to read my fic. . . .

*fidgets in the deafening silence*

Alrighty, then! To kick off my comeback, here’s a fairly late Christmas fic I promised to [info]cricketpoor, who’s been kind enough to let me beta her fic *smooches* Merry belated Xmas, kiddo.

Pairing: X,S (pre-slash)
Rating: R for language.
Disclaimer: ”Fa-la-la-la-la. . . La-la-la-la!”
Feedback: This is all for [info]cricketpoor, because I promised (but if anyone else suffers from an overwhelming need to comment, feel free).
Notes/Spoilers/Warnings: AU, Xander and Spike are still living the dream in the Basement of Doom, S5. Anya? Anya, who?
Summary: Xmas snark/humor with a touch of angst.



Predictability,
or
Xandy Claus and The Christmas Elf


by
Beetle



“Well, well, well. . . if it isn’t the jolly fat man, himself.”

Xander ignores the snark, hangs up his Santa-suit, drags himself over to his sagging couch and flops down. “Pocket of the suit.”

“Brung me an early Christmas present, didja, Xandy Claus? Ta, very much.” The snark only barely covers Spike’s pleased surprise. Xander smiles.

Rifling sounds then the click of a lighter. After a minute, the scent of unfiltered nicotine fills the basement and Spike makes a contented sigh. “Well, God bless us, everyone. . . so, have fun playing dress-up, at the mall, Harris?”

Spike’s mocking him, but Xander’s too tired to turn his head and mock back. Instead he settles for a growl that comes out as more of a groan.

“Shut up or fuck off, bleachy.”

“Tsk, tsk, is that any way for Pere Noel to speak to a good little boy like me?”

Little boy?” Xander does have the energy to snort derisively at that, it seems. The good part doesn’t even bear remarking on. “What are you, like, 300 years old?”

“I’m not even 150!” Spike sounds truly affronted around his cancer-stick. Xander wonders if they can still be called cancer-sticks if the smoker-in-question can’t possibly get cancer. Hmm.

“Why are you here at this time of night, anyway?” Xander waves away thick smoke. Spike’s probably hovering over him and leering, which should wig him out, but does the exact opposite. “Aren’t you supposed to be out menacing puppies, knocking over garbage cans or whatever it is you do, Big Not-so-bad?”

A question Xander’s been asking for weeks now. Spike’s answer is always a variation on the same theme.

“Woulda left this stinking pit hours ago if there was anything - or anyone - to do in this squalid little town.” Spike’s grumbles are coming from across the basement, now. Vampire stealth, gotta love it.

Cue the sexy pout. . . .

“Spike - you’ve been moping around the basement for weeks, bitching about how there’s nothing to do. If you’re so bored, why don’t you get a job or something, maybe pay for your own blood and smokes.”

This time, Spike’s the one who snorts. “‘M not that bored, tosser. ‘Sides, I like being a kept vamp. Especially when the only work to be had involves dressing up like some roly-poly, old git in a red suit at the sodding mall. What kinda yobbo would wanna do that?”

“Yeah, tell me abou- hey!” Xander’s finally found the strength to open his eyes and glare at Spike, who’s draped all over the torture-chair like a cat, his eyes half-closed in amusement.

“Took you long enough.” That deep, wicked chuckle as Spike takes a long, thoughtful drag and stretches. Xander also wonders if that pose is as blatant and purposeful as all of Spike’s posturing, or if the vampire really has no idea how - touchable he looks when he does that.

“Anyway, a job isn’t gonna cure what I’ve got, mate.”

“And that would be - the clap? ADHD? A serious case of dead?” Xander smiles, letting his eyes slip shut again. Their routines are as well-established as any old married couples’.

“Sodding - If I didn’t have this chip, I'd -”

“- you’d rip out my eyeballs and show ‘em to me before I died, I know. Is Springer still on?”

“Oi, Harris, I’m not your -”

“- not my bloody tv guide, yeah, but you’ve been home all evening, bleached blunder. And I’m sure I heard the siren call of angry, white trash as I was coming down the stairs.”

A silence that’s heavy with vamp-glare. Xander’s smile cranks up a notch.

“Think you’re so bloody smart, you do, well -” The snark is thick enough to cut with a knife, just the way Xander likes it.

“- if I was that bloody smart, I wouldn’t be twenty and still living in my folks’ basement.”

“Yeah, you - oh, bugger, you’re no fun when you’re in one of your moods.” Spike actually sounds disappointed.

“One of my moods? Spike, you’re a vamp with extreme pot/kettle issues.”

“‘M not ! Pot/kettle issues is you implying that I’m -!”

“Predictable? I’d never imply that.” Though I’m thinking it pretty hard. . . .

“I’m very unpredictable - and evil! And I hate you and your raggedy little bunch of white hat Scooby-do-gooders!” The venom in Spike’s voice sounds less venom-y than usual, as well as unpleasantly surprised.

“You’ll kill us all, once the bloody chip’s out,” Xander agrees and starts to chuckle.

“Damn right, I. . . .” Spike trails off as the chuckles get louder, but his gaze is as hot and tangible as sunlight on Xander’s face.

“Got me all figured out, do you, St. Nick?” Spike’s voice is soft and snark-free, something Xander totally doesn’t expect.

“I - well - not totally, but - yeah, you’re kinda predictable.”

“Am I, now?”

Xander’s eyes start open at the nearness of Spike’s voice and the sudden weight that is Spike straddling his legs. Blue, blue eyes stare down into Xander’s own. In their depths he can see hints of gold, hints of the demon.

“Sometimes.” Xander smiles and looks down at his hands on Spike’s thighs - how did those get there? - and runs them up the rough, tight denim.

“Look at me, Xander.”

Xander looks up just as Spike leans down. Xander knows Spike will taste like smoke and whiskey and copper. His eyes slip closed again, in anticipation of this taste, this kiss. . . that still doesn’t seem to be happening.

“Uh. . . Spike -” what’s the hold-up? Xander wants to ask. He’s been waiting for this - they’ve both been waiting - since the Gentlemen came to Sunnydale last winter.

But suddenly there’s no weighty vamp-gaze, no weighty vamp. Just silence. For a moment, anyway, then the door at the top of the stairs slams shut.

“Okay, um, I didn’t predict that,” Xander admits to the now empty basement.


~*~*~*~*~


It’s four days before Christmas and Spike’s been gone for nearly a week.

Xander hasn’t been sleeping very well. Every time he closes his eyes, he sees blue with gold in it’s depths. When he dreams, it’s of a cool, smoky/coppery mouth opening under his own. . . .

He’s always tired, lately. Not from the lack of sleep, not from working his two jobs like a dog, but from worry. Worry for Spike.

He hadn’t been able to admit that to himself till day five of the vampire’s absence.

“Spike’s a big boy. A Big Bad boy. Vamp. Whatever. He can take care of himself.” Xander mutters as he struggles into his Santa-costume. He’s running late, not that he fears firing this close to Christmas, but those psychotic kids - and their psychotic parents - get even ruder and more demanding the longer Santa takes to put in an appearance.

“Hey, hubby, you look like hell.” The candy-cane patterned curtain twitches aside to admit a tall, heavy-set chicana.

“Ho-ho-ho, to you, too,” Xander snaps at Inna, one of the mall’s photographers/Mrs. Clauses. She grins, looking around the tiny “backstage area” that doubles as their changing room.

“I can’t wait till this shift is over. These damn tights are already riding up.” Inna digs the offending tights out. After five weeks of changing in the same room, Xander doesn’t even avert his eyes anymore.

“How’re Silvio and the kids?”

“The kids are still the cutest, rottenest little brats ever and Silvio’s still milking that sprained ankle for all it’s worth. Why a man as clumsy as he is chooses to work in construction is beyond me.” Inna’s voice is fond and exasperated all at once. Xander envies her.

“Hey, clumsy guys gotta follow their bliss, too. And I hear construction pays pretty well in the ‘Dale.” Xander knows why it pays so well, too.

“Yep, pays well enough to keep our kids in junk food and Silvio in gauze and iodine.” Inna laughs and it’s completely unrestrained. “Oh, Coleman’s not gonna be here, today. Or any day, really.”

“How come?” Xander’s real gut churns anxiously and his fake gut just doesn’t seem to want to stay in place, even with the belt.

“He says he’s been getting these weird, threatening notes taped to his door and the windshield of his car. Die, elfboy, die! and shit like that. I told him it was just teenagers playing a practical joke, but he’s really spooked. He called this morning to quit.”

“Oh.” Xander’s relieved Cole’s alright, but he knows the shift’ll be tough without his Santa’s helper-elf to keep the kids calm and the line moving. “Too bad.”

“Auerbach hired some new guy to cover his shifts. Pity, though, I was gonna invite you both over for Christmas dinner.” Inna shrugs and adjusts her striped apron. “Invite’s still open to you. If you don’t have any plans, there’s always more food than we can finish in one day. Or four, for that matter.”

Xander blushes and pulls on his beard to cover it. “Oh, I couldn’t impose -”

“Nonsense. Stringy boy like you could do with a good, homemade dinner and all the leftovers you can carry home. I insist. Besides, you and Silvio’ll get along real well.”

“Inna, I couldn’t -”

“You could, you will, and that’s the last word about it. I’ll email you directions to the house. Hey, your beard’s crooked -”

“But -” It’s hard to protest with syntheti-beard fibers in his mouth. Also, he really doesn’t want to.

It’s not like spending another Christmas camping out alone appeals more than home-cooking and a houseful of noisy kids.

But, camping out wouldn’t have been so bad if Spike was camping out with him, the two of them crammed into Xander’s sleeping bag, trying to keep warm. Trying to keep quiet -

Xander smiles a little.

Sexiness aside, Spike is just fun. I miss him. . . .

Where the hell
is he? None of us have seen him for days. . . what if some demon attacked him? God, what if some human attacked him?

What if he just left and isn’t coming back -


Inna’s dragging him out past the candy-cane curtain. Show time.


~*~*~*~*~


“So, little boy, what’s your name?”

“If you were the real Santa, you'd know my name, dingus!”

Xander glances at the boy’s mother, who looks horrified, but pastes on a fake smile, then he glances at Inna, who winces and continues setting up her camera. Xander chucks the little monster under his chin. “Santa’s a very busy man, you can’t expect him to remember the names of every boy and girl.”

“The real Santa would, so you’re not the real Santa Claus!” The boy exclaims as loudly as he can, all insolent grey eyes and red face. The line of parents and children still waiting to see Santa is fidgeting and crying, respectively.

The boy’s mother clears her throat timidly. “Davy, we always use our indoor voices when talking with Santa -”

“You took me to see fake-Santa! I wanna see real-Santa!” The boy is yelling, not a tear in sight. The kid is actually enjoying himself.

Xander wants to straighten his leg and let the little bastard slide off, but doesn’t. Instead, he does his job.

“But I am the real Santa, Davy,” Xander asserts. The line is dissolving into a milling, pissed off crowd and this evening has all the earmarks of a disaster.

“No you’re not! You’re just a liar! Liar, liar, liar!” Davy chants and reaches up, grabbing a grimy, fistful of syntheti-beard, obviously about to yank for all he's worth. Xander inwardly groans, resigns himself to a violent mob of angry parents and wailing toddlers.

“Oi, David! You don’t wanna be doin’ that, mate.”

Both Xander and Davy freeze. Then they turn as one to face the issuer of the command.

Not ten feet away, practically screaming Christmas-splendiferous from the top of his green elf-hat to the tip of his pointy elf-shoes, is Santa’s new helper.

“Oh, fuck.”

Spike is leaning against one of the pylons supporting “Christmas Village”, looking surprisingly elfish in the knee-length green tunic and red and white swirled stockings. The pose, however, is all Spike, and still manages to convey the attitude - if not the reality - of bad-ass. Or maybe it’s the unfiltered cigarette lodged in the corner of his mouth that does the conveying.

Either way, the overall effect? Unbelievably hot. Wrong in so many ways, but unbelievably, undeniably hot.

“Of course he’s not the Santa. He’s just one of Santa’s minions,” Spike says matter-of-factly, shifting his gaze to Xander. Xander squirms a little and tries to think Christmas-y thoughts.

Davy frowns. “Minions?”

Spike takes a quick drag, then drops the cigarette, stubbing it out on a swath of red and green carpeting. “Yeah, minions. You think Santa’s God, or something? Can’t be everywhere at once, can he? Course not. So he has minions to do his bidding.”

“What’s a minion?” Davy looks as confused as Xander actually is.

“Like a servant - an oafish, none-too-bright servant - who does all the grunt work. The minions find out who’s naughty or nice. They find out what all the children want and they deliver all the toys - or the coal.” Spike gives Davy a measuring glance that has a flash of gold in it. The boy pales, his eyes going wide as saucers. “All the real Santa Claus has to do sit back and design toys. And shag the Missus. Decent work, if you can get it,” Spike adds.

“If - if S-santa was real, he could do all those things without m-minions,” Davy insists lowly enough that it doesn’t carry. He’s cringing in Xander’s lap, now.

Spike prowls across the stage, never breaking eye contact with Davy, who’s shaking like a leaf. Inna’s stepped from behind her camera to get an unobstructed view of the proceedings. Xander knows he should do something, stop this before it gets even more out of hand - Spike really is scaring the bejeezus out of the brat - but he doesn’t. In spite of himself, he’s got to see whatever Spike’s going to do or say next.

As Spike smiles down at the poor kid - flashing a bit of fang - Xander hopes like hell the chip’s still working.

“Listen here, you spoiled little shit, I’ll see to it you never get another present again, if you don’t shut y’ cakehole. Santa’s minions might put up with backtalk, but I’m a bloody elf. I’ll nail your arse to a board.” Spike’s voice and smile are sweet as Christmas candy but his eyes - oh, god, his eyes have changed color completely. Thank goodness no one but Xander and Davy are close enough to see.

And boy, is it way past time to regain control of this situation.

“Haha! Yes, my little helper, thank you for clearing that up!” Xander pushes Davy off his lap and the kid immediately stumbles toward his mother, throwing terrified glances back at Spike, who grins and waves.

“Run along home, son, I’m sure there’ll be a nice pressie under your tree on Christmas morning!” Spike calls as Davy, nearly in tears, frantically drags his mother away from Christmas village. There’s sporadic applause from the waiting crowd of people and Spike nods in acknowledgement.

Xander and Inna share a glance and a shrug just before a hefty toddler in a pink coat and mittens is plopped into Xander’s lap.

Startled, he looks up at Spike, who’s smirking benevolently at the scattered line.

“That’s right, people, there’s a new sheriff in Christmas Village!” He announces in a peppy tone that brooks no argument. Those big, blue eyes are inspecting the quickly re-forming line of parents and children, many of whom are now standing at attention or shifting nervously under Spike’s predatory brand of Christmas cheer.

“You know - this would be funny, if only it weren’t so very horrifying,” Xander sighs and sags in his chair. Spike, threatening children, while dressed like a Christmas elf. . . a manly, disturbingly sexy Christmas elf. . . .

His life just couldn’t get any weirder.

A deep, low, evil chuckle starts and ends as a puff of cool breath in Xander’s left ear.

“Still think I’m predictable, Nummy?”

“God, no!”

“Bring the costume home, shall I?”

This very intruiging, rhetorical question is followed by a gentle, teasing nibble of Xander’s earlobe, rendering him momentarily snarkless. By the time Xander recovers, Spike’s already standing up. His eyes are shifting from gold, back to a guileless blue that Xander doesn’t believe for one moment.

Very glad the syntheti-beard hides his blush - and the suit’s padding hides everything else - Xander looks down at the waiting toddler. Her smile is big, mostly toothless and beautiful. Xander returns it and bounces her on his protesting knee. The resulting giggle is beautiful, too. Drooly and beautiful.

“Merry Christmas, little lady! What can Santa do for you, today?”




The End





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