Spike was humming ‘O Tannenbaum’ happily under his useless breath as he decorated his crypt for the holiday. A few stolen garlands here, a few more candles there, and a strand or two of fairy lights—voila!
A grin stole over his face. Not bad if I do say so myself.
Spike turned on the TV and adjusted the rabbit ears until he could see Jimmy Stewart in all his black and white glory. Spike opened a beer and settled in for a perfectly lovely Christmas when outside his crypt there arose such a clatter—“Unless you’re Saint Nick, you’ve got fuck all I want.”
The door slammed shut. “There’s a demon terrorizing the mall.”
Spike turned and glared at the Slayer. “As I said, fuck off, I’m busy.”
She withdrew her stake from her belt and threw it at the TV, imbedding it in the screen with a shower of sparks and shattered glass. Spike leapt to his feet enraged. “Fucking bitch!”
Buffy gave him a steely look and withdrew another stake. “Don’t screw with me tonight, Spike. Some of us have actual families and friends and real plans that don’t involve a six-pack of Bud—and wow, does this place look stupid,” she added, looking around.
If looks could kill, Spike reckoned his chip would be firing a twenty-one gun salute in his cerebral cortex. “Sun’s still up, Slayer.”
“Take the tunnels,” she countered. “Get this done, Spike. If I have to miss my Christmas tonight, you’re going to have a very dusty new year.” She followed that salvo with a turn on her fashionable little heel and oh how he longed to teach the Slayer to turn her back on him.
The outer door slammed shut. Spike looked at the sad wreckage of his salvaged telly and reluctantly headed for the tunnels, thinking that if, perhaps, he got this done before the mall closed there’d be time to nick something from the electronics store.
The demon “terrorizing” the mall was nothing more than a Bracken demon moonlighting as Father Christmas to bring a few bob home to the wife and kiddies. Some fat cow was bullying her child into sitting for a photo and the bloke made a show of his spines in disapproval.
Takes a village to raise a child, indeed.
Spike gave him a fifty and told him to get the kids something nice.
For himself, however, there wasn’t a telly to be had for love or money. Some enterprising soul had marked them all down for the holidays and the electronics boutique was reduced to little more than two transistor radios and a ruddy great lot of bare shelves and exposed wires.
That plan sunk, Spike headed for the Alibi. With any luck he could still snare a bit of the house eggnog Willy made. Before he could get in the door, however—
“Spike? Oh thank the Goddess!”
There was Red, looking disconcertingly happy to see him. For a brief and pathetic moment, he had hopes of receiving a last minute invite to the festivities that evening. Hopes that were dashed as soon as he registered where they stood.
Red stood guiltily with her hand on the door of the Magic Box. “Um, do you think you could help me get in?”
Spike raised an inquisitive eyebrow. “No spell to pick a lock?”
Willow blushed. “The counter spells Giles put in place for security are making them go kerflooey on me. I just though, what with your history of evil doing, maybe you could help me break in?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “What the hell. Little breaking and entering should just about round out my night. Not that I care, mind, but what exactly are you robbing the place for? Thought you were chummy with the Watcher.”
“I am!” Willow immediately protested. “Just, I had this present for Giles picked out here but I couldn’t ask him to ring it up for himself, could I?”
“Robbing the Watcher of his own Christmas gift? Red, I am positively impressed.”
“I’m not robbing him! I’m paying for it! Look, I have the money here and everything!”
Spike chuckled at the wound-up witch. “Sure, Red. Here you go,” he said as the door swung open.
“Thank you so much Spike!” she gushed just as the unholy racket of the burglar alarm went off. “Oh, no! What am I going to do?”
Spike sighed. “Go get what you came for. I’ll watch the front.”
Willow nodded, terrified and ran to find her gift. The sound of sirens was now faintly audible and growing ever more so by the second.
“Red—” Spike warned as the flashing blues and reds turned the corner.
“I got it!” she announced, slapping the bills on the counter.
“Fantastic, now can we get the bloody hell out of here?”
Tires squealed to a stop in front of the shop, the headlights of the squad cars shining on her terrified doe-eyes. Spike growled to himself. “Red, out the back! Go! I’ll take care of this!”
Willow wrung her hands fearfully, then turned and ran out the back. With a sigh of relief, Spike turned back to the police and the guns trained on him. With resignation, he raised his hands and allowed the officer to cuff him.
Two hours in lock-up before the Watcher arrived to tell the officers he wasn’t pressing charges.
“Just what the bloody hell did you mean to do, Spike?” he asked as they left the station.
Spike debated ratting out the witch versus letting Giles work it out himself when he received his pressie. He chose the latter. “Thought I left some blood in the shop fridge. Was running low and the butcher’s closed.”
Giles pinched the bridge of his nose. “Is that all? Why didn’t you just call?”
Spike shrugged modestly. “Thought you’d be busy, what with the holiday an’ all. Didn’t want to disturb you.”
The Watcher snorted, treating the sentiment with the contempt it deserved. He let it drop, though, apparently satisfied.
Spike watched him go, left with an unfamiliar feeling of regret. He thought perhaps it was disappointment over his lost telly. He certainly wasn’t feeling the absence of that obnoxious band of do-gooders.
Spike strode into Willy’s determined to have himself a merry little Christmas.
The nog was long gone unfortunately, and a group of Buvulgnesh demons was clustered around the TV over the bar, watching a curling match with the kind of intensity he usually reserved for the World Cup.
Spike nursed a beer and admitted defeat. Any hopes he’d had of a happy Christmas were put to rest as Willy slid a bottle and shot glass before him.
“Merry Christmas, Spike,” Willy said.
“Bah Humbug,” he replied.
Nearing midnight, Spike stumbled drunkenly back to his crypt. He’d just managed to get the outer door opened when he heard footsteps in the grass behind him. Drunken reflexes being what they were, it took him the better part of a minute to get his entire body turned toward the sound and by then he was on him.
Well, his hand was on him. On his shoulder. Then it was holding him up as he swayed unsteadily on his feet.
“Whoa,” said Xander. “What distillery did you bankroll tonight?”
“M’not drunk,” Spike answered, irritably shaking off the hot hand on his arm and feeling his knees buckle as he did so.
“Yeah, of course you’re not,” replied the whelp in a very irritating tone. “Come on, let’s get you inside before something notices I’m here.”
“Scared?” Spike teased.
Xander rolled his eyes. “Yes. Of being seen with you. Shift your ass, Spike, come on.”
Spike did so but only because he wanted to.
“Wow,” said Xander as he turned on the fairy lights. “Look at this place.”
Spike beamed Xander a house-proud smile. “Nice, ain’t it?”
Xander snorted. “It’s not bad, Spike. What’d you do all this for? I didn’t think vamps celebrated the holidays.”
“I like Christmas,” he retorted, challenging him to impugn his evilness any further.
The boy nodded reasonably then caught sight of the stake protruding from the television set with a dropped jaw and bulging eyes that were really very unattractive. “Jesus, what happened?”
Spike glared at the floor. “Slayer wanted to incentivize me to help tonight. Ruined my bloody night, is what she did. An’ for what? Was only a Brachen demon playing Santa. But heaven forbid anything like her fucking calling get in the way of her Christmas with you bloody Scoobies and Joyce and her pie and you’re all stupid and I didn’t want to go anyway. What was I saying?”
Xander’s eyes were wide. He shook off the stunned expression and cleared his throat. “You were telling me how your TV got slayed.”
“Oh. Yeah,” Spike remembered. “Bloody stupid fucking holiday. Bloody stupid to celebrate, anyway.” he muttered, tired and, just tired. “Ought to stop this foolishness altogether.”
Spike missed the regretful look on Xander’s face. If he hadn’t, he might not have been so surprised to hear, “Hey, it’s Christmas eve. Why don’t you come back to my place? Spend Christmas with me tomorrow.”
Spike blinked and furiously tried to think through the foggy, boozy mist in his brain. “Why?”
Xander shrugged. “Why not? Did you already have plans?”
Spike stared gloomily at his TV. “Not anymore.”
Xander smiled. “There you go. I’ve got cable. And this way, I have an excuse to miss the Harris fiesta. ‘So sorry, friend from out of town visiting, have to try again next year!’”
Spike shook his head, gathering only every one word of three, but it was enough to comprehend he’d scored an invite to watch telly at the whelp’s. “Right, then. Best be off.”
As they left, Xander put a warm arm around his shoulder. Spike was steady enough on his pins now not to need the assist, but he didn’t say so.
“You know, we might have the party at my place next year.”
“That so,” Spike said, blandly.
Xander nodded. “You should come.”
Spike turned and looked sharply at the boy and caught the edge of a smile. “That so?”
Xander squeezed his shoulder slightly. “Yeah.”
The boy was cannier than he gave credit. Spike smiled a little. “Sure thing, mate. Merry Christmas, yeah?” Xander didn’t look near as stupid when he smiled, either, Spike thought.
His eyes seemed to sort of twinkle in the streetlight. “Merry Christmas, Spike,” Xander replied.
For once, Spike thought, it might not be by half at that.