B/S, PG, 1/1
Posted: December 13, 2001
Please archive wherever appropriate. Any feedback is much appreciated.
Well, this fanfic appeared out of nowhere. There I was, sitting in the movie theatre, minding my own business -- and the next thing I knew, my Muse was whacking me over the head with a snow shovel, saying "You've got to write a Buffy Christmas fic! Now, dammit, now!"
And hey, who am I to argue with a shovel-wielding Muse? :)
SUMMARY: Buffy leaves a Christmas gift for Spike outside his door.
SPOILERS: Takes place sometime after "Wrecked"
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: To Linda, the best-est Beta reader ever. Ta, mate!
DISCLAIMER: Yes, we all know I don't own Buffy or Spike. Questions? No? Then on with the story...
Some might say that's an improvement. I can feel pain again. Yay me. Angsty-Buffy. Actually, I've been feeling quite a lot, ever since...
No. Just do what you came to do. Then go. Piece of cake. Easy as pie. And what's with all the baking imagery anyway? Did the people who came up with those ever actually try baking a cake? 'Cause trust me, it's not that easy.
I miss my mom. She should be here. She's the one who should be cooking the turkey tomorrow, not me. She's the one who would have hauled the tree up from the basement then helped Dawn and me decorate it while we all sat around and listened to cheesy carols. And laughed.
I miss the laughing.
I've done my best. Really I have. I got us a new tree after the last one drowned in the basement. Cost more than I could afford, but...well, we needed it. I've bought the nog, played the carols, and the turkey is defrosting in the fridge, even as we speak. I don't know if it's going to thaw in time though. And I don't know how to make real gravy, so I got one of those little packages instead. Just add water, it says. I can do that. The halls are decked, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care...
And all I really want to do is hug my mom and tell her I love her. And then I want to cry, when I can't.
No, it's not going to be a holly jolly holiday at the Summers house this year. Oh, we're all trying, all doing our best to ignore what's underneath the surface, but you can tell it's there, just the same.
Willow's doing okay, I guess. I can't really tell. I keep trying to be supportive, but I don't know how to do this anymore. I can remember what it felt like to be a friend, remember the words I'm supposed to say, but I can't seem to get them out. I don't know if it's because my own pain is simply too much, or if maybe Spike was right and I did come back changed...
No. Not going to think about that. I can't. Because I'm just barely hanging on and if I let myself think about that...then I will fall apart.
And there won't be anyone to catch me.
That's a lie. Spike would be there. I know that. Despite everything, despite the things I've said and the things we've done to each other, I know he'd be there for me. He would catch me.
That's not what I'm afraid of.
No, it's what he would do with me afterwards. And what I would become. And that scares me. Sometimes I feel like I'm sliding downwards into something dark and there's no one left to pull me back up.
So that's what tonight is about, really. That's why I'm standing here outside Spike's crypt, hiding in the cold and the dark, listening to them. I'm trying to...well, I don't really know what I'm trying to do. But I know I need to do it.
He called me a bitch. He was right. And I hate it. So maybe that's what I'm trying to change.
I didn't notice at first when Dawn slipped out after supper. Too busy trying to figure out what to do with the turkey for tomorrow. But it wasn't hard to guess where she went -- especially after our fight.
It wasn't a fight, not really. Not like the kind we used to have. No, this was more of a difference of opinion. But it was a good thing, really. Everyone's been treating me like I'm made of glass, as if a single harsh word would kill me -- again. So I guess it's good that Dawn felt secure enough to argue with me. I just wish she had picked something else to argue about.
"Buffy, you must have said -- or done -- something to him. Why else would he be avoiding me...us?"
"He never comes around anymore and I want to know why!"
"Dawnie, Spike is a vampire. We can't...we can't trust him..."
"Yes we can. You don't know him. He's changed. And just because you can forget all the good things he's done, doesn't mean I will too. Unlike some people, I stick by my friends..."
And then Dawn had stopped, hesitated as if unsure whether to burst into tears or start shouting for real this time, then had settled for taking the stairs two at a time and almost but not quite slamming the door of her bedroom.
Guess we still need to work some more on that whole being- secure-enough-to-fight-with-me thing.
But you know what the worst part was? Not that Dawn and I had an argument...but that she was right. Putting aside everything else that's happened, ignoring all the mistakes I've made -- and I'm talking major league snaky Mayor-sized mistakes here -- Spike really has done good things. And somehow along the way, I've forgotten that. I've managed to convince myself that he's not a real person, that he doesn't have any feelings to hurt, and that it doesn't matter what I say or do, or how I use him.
But I can't forget. I won't let myself. Because, no matter what else he's done, what else he might do -- he was willing to die for Dawn. For my sister.
So, where to I go from here? And I can't believe I've still got that stupid song going around in my head. I want that damned demon to come back, just so I can kill him. Slowly. Of course, that wouldn't change things. You can't take back words that have been spoken, can't change the things that have already been done.
But it doesn't stop me wishing I could.
The plastic bag feels cold in my hands. I've been standing here far too long and the night is cool. Or maybe it's just that I'm scared. I know this is a stupid idea. It's dumb and cheesy and probably a huge mistake. It'll give him all kinds of wrong ideas and I'll be back at square one -- hiding behind garlic and sleeping with a cross at night.
They're watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" -- the animated version, not the movie. I can hear it better now, standing just outside the door. They sound happy, my sister and the vampire. She's laughing and he's saying something insulting, only you can tell he doesn't really mean it. They seem comfortable together. Happy.
And I'm still on the outside, looking in.
I could go in, I know. He'd probably be pretty suspicious, after all the things I've said and done, but I know I could just go in, lay my head on his shoulder and watch the cartoon with them. And it would be all right. For a while, at least, all this hurting would go away.
But I won't do that. Because I'm the Slayer and he's a demon. Because if I allow myself to believe in him that much then I risk losing part of me. And there's so little left of me to lose.
So I'll just leave the bag on the step and go. Back to a house that feels empty, despite being full of people. Back to my first Christmas without my Watcher, without my mom. I'll open presents I don't want or need and try to be there for Willow when she needs me. I'll cook the turkey and mix the gravy and hope I don't burn the pie. And when it all gets too much for me and I go outside...will he come? Or have I finally driven him away for good?
And which do I really want?
I'm going now. I know he'll make sure she gets home safe. I don't doubt that. So I guess I do have a little faith left. I believe in him at least that much.
No. I don't know what I believe anymore.
The bag looks so forlorn and...and so incredibly stupid sitting there. He'll probably laugh. I mean, what a dumb idea. I can't believe I even considered...
But I've come this far. Might as well finish it. I'll just prop it against the door then go. Leave them to Dr. Seuss. Hey, they'll be in good hands.
Much better than mine.
* * *
Dawn stumbled slightly when she crossed the threshold half an hour later. Spike caught her arm before she could fall then set her back on her feet.
"Steady on, niblet. No good acting like you've been into the holiday spirits. Unless you had a few before you snuck over here..."
She shot him a look. "I am not drunk. I tripped over this..."
'This' was a small bag, full of blood, with a red bow perched lopsidedly on top. Dawn bent down and picked it up then turned it around quizzically a few times before handing it to him.
"That's so cute," she said at last, grinning up at him. "Someone left you a Christmas present."
Spike stared down at the bag in his hands. There was no note, nothing to indicate where it had come from...but... there. The faint hint of a scent, one he was familiar with. Intimately familiar.
"Who's it from?" Dawn was asking.
The vampire didn't look at her. Instead he shrugged and shook his head, carefully tucking the bag into the pocket of his coat. "Don't know. Must be Santa."
"Yeah, right," the teenager said, stepping out into the night and pulling her own coat a little tighter around her. "And I so don't want to hear about the Santa demon any more. Leave me some illusions..."
Spike trailed along behind her, not really listening as they moved through the cemetery. Instead, his fingers kept tracing the pattern of the crooked bow tucked inside his pocket. And slowly, very slowly, a smile began to curve across his lips.
"And a merry Christmas to you too, Slayer."