The Gift of Christmas

by
Suki Blue



Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8



Chapter 1
Seven days until Christmas




Xander sat down on a cold, damp bench and sighed. What a night. What a week. What a life. He always tried his best to stay in good spirits, but as time went on it became increasingly difficult. It was hard trying to smile and laugh at one of Buffy’s latest tales of comedy shopping or Willow’s silly magical mishaps, when all you wanted to do was lock yourself in a dark room and throw away the key.

When did this happen? When did he make the transition from joker and class clown to pretender? A big fake, that’s what he was now. Living life on automatic mode. Laughing and commenting in all the right places, but none of it coming from his heart. His soul felt empty.

So here he sat. One week before Christmas and he was out on his ass. Kicked out by his miserable, drunken father. Of course, all he had to do was sleep rough for a night and crawl back in the morning. No doubt his sober, but hung-over father would accept him back in flash. The Harris household always needed a skivvy

Xander made a decision. He was not going to crawl back. Not this time. Not again. Even if it meant sleeping rough for the rest of his life, he was never going back.

Xander shivered. It was getting cold. He needed to find somewhere with a little more shelter. He got up and shuffled slowly away.

**

Spike drifted over to the bench and scented the air. Chocolate faintly filled his nostrils. Must be the Harris boy. He looked up and spotted Xander walking away in the distance. Spot on.

Spike looked at his watch and sat in the exact spot that Xander had vacated.

Bloody Christmas, Spike thought with a touch of bitterness. Everybody happy, everybody smiling, excited, throwing parties and erecting stupid pointy trees. He was best off out of it. Still, it would have been nice to have been asked. Not that he wanted to attend a party or put tinsel on a tree and he definitely didn’t want to be stuck in some overheated kitchen making Christmas nibbles.

Spike lit a cigarette and stared off into the distance. What had the Harris boy been doing lurking about at all hours? Getting bloody cold, it was, considering what the weather was normally like and it looked like it was going to rain. Stupid twat hadn’t even been wearing a jacket. Not that wrapping up warm would make much difference to his health. Chances were, that the whelp would die from a demon attack before he died from the cold. Spike sighed heavily in annoyance. He’d better go catch up with the boy and escort him home before he really did become a demon supper. Can’t have the Slayer losing one of her sheep just before Christmas, eh?

William the convenient, to the rescue.

**

Xander stared up at the dark sky and cursed as the fist few drops of rain spattered over his face. Just lovely. Nowhere but a dark alley to rest his weary head and no coat to shield him from the rain. He drew his knees up and hugged himself. So things had come to this, yet again. And why was it that the fact that it was Christmas made this seem so much harder, so much more painful?

He thought back to previous Christmas’ and nodded to himself. Yup, Christmas was always painful. Full of disappointment and sadness. As a child he’d loved it, well, up to the age of about five, he’d loved it. Then he had finally realised that the holiday season was never like it was on TV. No sparkling decorations. No oven hot, star shaped cookies. No joyful family parties or dinners. No presents that made your heart leap and your eyes bulge.

A Harris Christmas consisted of fighting, drunken screaming, crappy presents and a lot of crying. Crying, it seemed, was a Harris tradition on Christmas day. They all did it, every year.

Xander wiped away bitter tears with his sleeve. What had been his worse Christmas? Oh, that was an easy one. Ten years old and he had begged for an entire year for a puppy. His parents had eventually agreed and stupid, naive, idiotic Xander had been overjoyed.
Christmas day had arrived and Xander had charged down the stairs as fast as his little legs would carry him. There was no puppy. There were no presents under the tree, no turkey defrosting on the kitchen table, no Christmas breakfast waiting for him. There was nothing.
His parents had gone.

At first Xander had thought that maybe they had popped out to get some last minute supplies at whatever store would actually be open on Christmas day. Or maybe they had gone to pick up his puppy? It was hours before Xander was able to admit to himself that they had gone and left him. Xander had been forced to spend Christmas totally alone.
For two whole days he had taken care of himself, fed and entertained himself. The time had passed slowly with no-one to talk to him, tickle him or make him laugh.
Not that his parents had ever actually done any of those things, but a boy could dream. The one thought that had haunted him throughout those two miserable days had been, if only he had his puppy. That was all he needed, one little puppy, a furry friend that would accept his love and give it back in endless, enthusiastic quantities.

Xander was sobbing now. Loud, unashamed sobbing. He had held all this in for too long. He had to get it out.

**

Spike trotted fasted along the side walk as the rain turned from a light shower to a drowning veil. Bloody whelp, Spike thought as the rain turned him from drop dead gorgeous to drowned rat in three point six seconds. Brat better be bloody grateful. Spike followed Xander’s scent to a nearby ally and was nearly knocked off his feet by the aroma of misery and defeat. It was the scent of someone that wanted to die. Spike stopped at the entrance to the ally and listened to Xander’s desperate sobbing. Was he too late? Had Xander already been attacked and was now lying broken in this dirty ally while he waited for merciful death to take him? Spike sniffed the air again. There was no blood, and he hadn’t seen any demons nearby that could have hurt him. He crept closer and sighted the boy curled up behind a dumpster. He didn’t look particularly hurt, but it was hard to tell when Xander had his face buried in his arms and knees. Spike shifted uncomfortably, his keen vampire senses were telling him that the whelp was upset and Spike was not very good at making people feel un-upset. Under normal circumstances, Spike would have hot-footed his way to the nearest demon bar and immediately forgot that some poxy human had been crying like a girl. But something in those wracked sobs and the way that Xander had curled up on himself, his body shaking with wild tremors, made him want to help, to find out what was wrong and make it right.

Spike could still clearly remember a time when he had found himself on the streets, shivering in the dark. How he’d wished that somebody could have helped him then, given him a warm drink, or a crumb of bread, even just a kind word would have helped. But they passed him by, every single one of them, no-one had cared. It was almost destiny that allowed him to seek such terrible revenge once he had been turned. That was retribution alright. Spike had often wondered if he would have still earned his nickname if he had been treated better while he had been human.

And now, seeing Xander in such a state, it tugged at Spike’s heart. This wasn’t Xander. This wasn’t the bouncing, happy-go-lucky, annoyingly cheerful bloke that he was used to seeing and that just didn’t sit right. Spike had always sensed pain on Xander, but the boy had always hid it well. He wondered what had happened to put Xander in such a state.

He had to do something.

Stepping in front of Xander, Spike squatted down and placed a firm hand on the boy’s shoulder. The sobs quietened and Spike felt the body beneath his hand, tense. Spike frowned; Xander couldn’t know that it was him. What the hell was he playing at? Did he want to get himself killed? Oh. Bloody hell.

“Xander? It’s me.”

Xander silently cursed his luck. Of all the demons in all the world, why did fate throw him that one? As if things weren’t fucked up enough, now he was going to have to put up with the bleached wonder laughing and mocking him. He screwed his eyes up tight and hoped that Spike would just go away.

“Xander? You alright, mate?”

Silence greeted Spike’s question.

“Dunno if you’ve noticed, what with all the balling, but its bucketing down out ‘ere. Why don’t we get you home?”

Xander lifted his head and shrugged off Spike’s hand from his shoulder.

“No.”

“No?” Spike repeated. “C’mon, whatever has happened, whatever is wrong, you can talk to me. But we need to get you home first. You’re bloody drenched and so am I. C’mon, we’ll go back to yours, grab a couple of beers and talk, yeah?”

“No, I-I can’t.”

“Can’t what? Drink beer or talk?”

Xander looked up and Spike’s heart melted right into Xander’s large misery filled eyes.

“I can’t go home. I haven’t got a home.”

“Eh? Don’t talk daft, course you’ve got a home!”

“Not any more. They kicked me out.”

“Oh. Sorry, mate. What for?”

“I’m not even sure. There was this big fight between mom and dad and I just got caught in the middle. Next thing I knew, I was being thrown out the door.”

“Is that what all the tears are for? C’mon, they can’t stay mad forever. Come back to mine, get some sleep and I’ll bet things will look better in the morning.”

Xander wiped at his eyes.

“I wake up every morning and it never looks better. It’s too much, Spike. I can’t go on like this anymore. I can’t live like this.”

Xander turned his head and the distant streetlight illuminated his face.

“Wot’s that!”

Spike grabbed Xander’s chin and angled his face towards him.

“Who did that, Xander? Was it your father?”

Xander let more tears slip away and he nodded his head as much as he could with Spike’s hand holding his face.

“He do that a lot?”

“Sometimes,” Xander said sadly.

“Right. I see.”

Number one rule, you don’t hit your kids, not like that. Spike certainly had been a fiendish bundle of evil in his day, but he would never have done that. Not that he ever had any kids to test that theory out.

Spike was angry. If he was to grind his teeth anymore he was going to end up with blunt fangs. With one swift movement he grabbed Xander and pulled him to his feet.

“We’re going.”

Xander tried to pull away.

“No! I told you, I can’t go back there…”

“We’re not going to yours, we’re going to mine.”

“No, I don’t want to be a pain…”

“You’ll be more of pain if you make me stay out in this bloody rain! Now, shift your arse, ‘cos I’m wetter than a beaver’s backside.”

Xander managed the tiniest of smiles as he allowed himself to be led away. Okay, so someone does care, sort of, kinda, in a Spikey sort of way.

**

Xander followed Spike into his crypt and shivered some more.

“Yikes, I think it’s colder in here.”

“That’s just ‘cos you’re all wet.”

Spike pointed to the ladder in the corner of the room.

“Get yourself down there, pet.”

Xander gulped.

“Um, that’s your bedroom.”

“Very observant, detective Harris.”

Xander stared at the vampire with wide confused eyes.

“It’s warmer, you prat! Not gonna take advantage of you, if that’s what you’re thinking?”

“I wasn’t!” Xander lied. “I was just…um…sorry, I’m not thinking straight.”

“You don’t say. Go on then, climb on down. I’ll follow you in a sec.”

Xander nodded and did as he was told. No point in trying to upset the nice, kind vampire. Now there’s a sentence he never thought he would think. He reached the bottom rung of the ladder and realised that it was warmer. Perhaps it was due to the pockets of warm air that were being pushed through the underground tunnels and collecting at certain points within the caverns. Hm, that sounded scientific. Xander wondered if he was in any way correct. He also wondered why he was wondering about pockets of warm air.

“Glad to see you made it down without breaking your neck.”

Spike realised how sarcastic he’d sounded and tried to backtrack.

“I actually didn’t mean that quite how it sounded.”

“Spike? Why are you helping me?”

Xander’s voice was sad but full of hope and Spike wasn’t even tempted to be cruel or to give an excuse.

“’Cos you need help. Because you’re in pain and I know what that’s like. Because someone’s gotta help you and you’re too stubborn to bloody ask for it. Because you’ve been good to me and I wanna return the favour. Because I like you and don’t want to see you hurting. That enough for you?”

Xander smiled

“Plenty. Thank you.”

“Pleasure. Now get your kit off?”

“Huh?”

“Clothes. Off.”

“Um, why?”

“Blimey, luv. Use your noggin. You’re soaked. Gonna catch your death.”

Spike spotted that defeated look in Xander’s eyes again. This was all so wrong. Xander should never have that look.

Xander dropped his gaze to the floor and shuffled uncomfortably.

“I...I don’t have anything else to wear.”

“Right. Err, ‘ang on, then.”

Spike rushed over to the corner of the bedroom and ruffled through a large black trunk. He came up victorious with a pair of black sweatpants and a black t-shirt.

“There you go, bung those on. There’s a towel on the bed too.”

“Thanks…um…could you not…um…look?”

“Oh! Err, yeah, sorry, I’ll just go up and erm, you know, do stuff. Back in five.”

Spike backed up and hastily climbed the ladder. He cursed himself when he reached the top. Why was the big bad so suddenly nervous? Could it have something to with the fact that there was soon to be a totally naked and wet Xander towelling down in his bedroom?

Spike adjusted his jeans, threw himself down on the couch and flicked on the telly. Not that he actually wanted to watch anything; he just needed to give Xander some time to change.

He started to picture Xander towelling himself down again and he was forced to give himself a mental kick up the backside. This was no time for vampire hormones. Xander was obviously down and Spike was determined to help him. Why? Because it was Christmas.

**

Xander waited for Spike to disappear from sight before he began to undress. His shirt came off easily enough, but his jeans were a bit more of a problem. Soaking wet, they were firmly stuck to his skin. After a good five minutes of struggling, Xander started to feel a little panicky. Spike could be back any second, and he was going to get a real eyeful. Xander tugged with all his might and finally they jeans gave way and peeled from his now tender skin. He used the towel quickly and slid on the clothes that Spike had left him. They were a little on the snug side, but at least they were dry. Xander bundled his wet clothes in the corner and climbed onto the bed, huddling himself against the wall.

Why now? Why did he suddenly feel so bad now? Why not all the other times that he’d been kicked out? Or all the other times that he’d argued with his parents? This certainly wasn’t the first time that things had escalated to a fist in the face. Maybe it was just time. Time for things to finally give. Time for him to admit to himself that his life sucked. Time to admit that he was lost, with no-one to turn to. Okay, so maybe that last part wasn’t quite true. It seemed that a certain vampire was willing to help him. And he hadn’t even had to ask. And talking of certain vampires, wasn’t that said vampire standing right there?

“Huh?”

“I said, I brought you some ice.”

“Not that I’m not grateful, Spike. But, I’m freezing here; I don’t think ice is going to help much.”

Spike rolled his eyes and plonked himself down on the bed.

“It’s for your face, idiot. It looks swollen.”

“Oh, good point, thanks.”

Xander reached out to take the ice pack, but Spike kept it out of reach.

“Get under the covers first, pet, or you’re gonna freeze your knackers off.”

Xander fingered the velvety covers. They were surprisingly luxurious. Thick layers of red and gold, matching pillowcases and a thicker throw that was flung over the end of the bed. It looked too good for the likes of Xander Harris.

“Go on, then. Bed ain’t gonna swallow you up. And I changed the sheets first thing this evening.”

Xander climbed under the covers and with help that was really unneeded from Spike, he was laid down and tucked in. Normal circumstances would have produced some kind of protest, but on this *one* occasion, he let Spike coddle him. It was nice to have someone take care of you, even if you were a little suspicious of their intentions.

Spike finished tucking Xander in and he sat back. Noticing that he’d tucked just a little to well, he leant forward and loosened the covers.

“Comfy?”

“Actually, yeah. This is much nicer than my bed.”

“Well, good quality, it is. Got it for a good price too.”

“I have no doubt. And I have no doubt that there is story behind it. And I also have no doubt that I don’t want to hear it.”

“Your loss, pet,” Spike said as he placed the ice pack against Xander’s cheek.

“Eeep! That’s cold.”

“Came from a cold place. Luv?”

Xander felt his eyes fill with a tired heavy feeling. Whether it was the cosy, comfy bed, or Spike’s soft deep voice that was lulling him to sleep, he wasn’t sure.

“Mmm?” he replied, his voice now thick with approaching sleep.

“What do you want to do?”

“You mean, am I going back?”

“Yeah.”

“No. I’ve had enough. Thanks for letting me stay tonight. I’ll get out of your hair tomorrow.”

“And go where, pet, hm?”

“I don’t know.”

“Exactly. You stay here as long as you need to. Just until you can get yourself enough dosh to get your own little place.”

“Spike, you don’t need me hanging about. I’ll only get in the way. I always get in the way.”

Xander’s eyes had slipped completely shut and Spike could tell by his slowing heartbeat that he was seconds away from sleep.

“Not in the way. You’re staying. No arguments.”

“Mm. ‘kay.”

Xander drifted into sleep, but Spike spoke to him anyway, knowing that he wasn’t going to get a reply.

“Could really use the company”







Chapter 2
Six days until Christmas


Xander woke and found that for once his heart wasn’t pounding and his body wasn’t shaking with fear. He had woken too many times to find his father inches away, ready to yank him from his bed and abuse him.

~Why haven’t you done the washing up, boy?~

~Where were you last night? Your mother was worried sick!~

~Need your rent, boy. Get your ass out of bed and get it.~

The scenarios were endless. But on this morning… He checked his watch…But on this evening, he knew there was no such scenario waiting for him. He rolled onto his other side and froze. Spike was in bed with him. Right on the edge of the bed, admittedly, but there he was, regardless.

~gulp~

Ok, Xan-man. No need for panicking. This *is* Spike’s bed after all. Where else was he going to sleep?

Xander willed himself to relax. It was difficult. His bladder was filled to the brim and too much relaxing could prove disastrous.

“Spike?”

Spike buried his face in the pillow and murmured a half asleep reply.

“Mrphh.”

“Spike?”

“…”

“SPIKE?!”

Spike jolted awake and promptly fell off the side of the bed. He sprung back up and stood in a naked fighting stance.

“What?! Where?! I got it! Stand back, Xan. I’ll kick its ass!”

Xander really wasn’t too sure what to do or where to put himself. Spike was stark bollock naked and Xander was having a nightmare of a time trying not to stare. He couldn’t believe what a beautiful body Spike had. So firm and compact, defined flexing muscles and smooth flawless skin. Whoa.

“Um, Spike? There’s no-one here. I think you were dreaming. And I also think that you’re naked.”

Spike glanced around the room suspiciously. He could have sworn there was a demon hovering over them with a sword in one hand and a tea pot in the other. He’d just been right in the middle of giving Xander a Chinese foot massage and they were very pushed for time. The queen was coming to tea.

Ah. Must have been a dream. And oops, I am naked. And I’m just standing here. My bits and bobs are hanging about everywhere, and I’m still just standing here. And, oh great, I’m hard as a rock. Why am I not moving? Am I trying to freak out the human? The human who can’t seem to stop staring. Why isn’t he looking away? It’s like we’re stuck like this.

Xander finally managed to tear his eyes away from the fantastic vampire body that had hypnotised him.

“Spike?”

“Yeah?”

“Naked.”

“Oh.”

Spike grabbed up the towel that Xander had used the previous night and quickly wrapped it around himself.

“Sorry about that.”

“That’s okay…Do you normally sleep…in the buff?”

“Yeah. I can’t get comfortable otherwise. You didn’t mind me...you know…sleeping with you…no, not *sleeping* with you. Sleeping in the same bed as you?”

“I guess not. It’s a big bed. Spike? Where’s the bathroom?”

Spike laughed.

“Bathroom? This is a crypt, pet. You expecting to find a toilet?”

“Well, yeah. What do you use then?”

“I go outside.”

“Outside? Out there? You *go* out there? What if you need to, you know, do something, a little more time consuming?”

“I go outside.”

“You just go outside and drop your pants?”

“Yup.”

“What if someone sees you?”

Spike rolled his eyes.

“Gimme some credit here, pet. I don’t just go out and randomly drop my kecks. I make sure no-one or nothing is nearby first. My vampire senses come in real handy.”

“Oh.”

“You need to go?”

“Uh-huh. Just the little thing though. No dropping of anything needed.”

“Right you are, then. There are some slippers over there. Stick ‘em on and I’ll come with you.”

Xander wasn’t sure what was more disturbing, the fact that Spike owned a pair of slippers or that Spike was going to escort him while he peed. He put on the slippers.

Hmm, comfortable. Might have to pick up a pair.

“Really, I can manage by myself. There’s no need to put yourself out. I’ll just take this sword for company.”

“If that’s what you want. Make sure you holler if something rips your throat out while you’re taking a piss, though.”

“I will,” Xander said, missing the point entirely.

Spike sighed and let the towel drop. He’d keep an ear extended just in case. Now, what was to be the plan for this evening? A small shopping trip would probably be in order. Xander would be needing a few essentials. And there was no way Spike was going to allow Xander to go back home, he might be tempted to stay there. He needed time away. Time to heal and reflect. Xander seriously needed to sort his life out, before he fell into a bigger black hole than he was in now. That boy needed sorting, fast.

Spike slipped on his jeans and threw on a plain dark blue shirt. Leaving it unbuttoned, he made his way up the ladder and towards the kettle. He stopped at the couch on the way and lifted his duster. Rummaging through the pockets, he came up with a small bundle of notes. Not bad. Could do with a little more. Yep. It was collection time.

“All done. Peeing complete and no demon interfering to be seen…You know what I meant by that, right?”

Spike looked up and grinned.

“I got the gist, yeah. So, you up for an outing?”

“Outing? I take it you don’t mean a trip to the zoo?”

“Nope. Need to stop by Willy’s. Gotta see a man about a dog. Then it’s off to do some shopping.”

“Okay, I’m not even going to ask about the dog,” Xander said, taking Spike literally. “And shopping? I didn’t take you for a shopping kind of vamp.”

“I’m not. But you’re gonna need some stuff if you’re going to be staying here for a while.”

“Oh.”

Xander suddenly looked embarrassed and he flushed brightly. Turning away from Spike, he spoke in a voice that was almost inaudible.

“Maybe I should just go home. I’ll probably end up going home anyway…”

“No!”

Xander looked up, startled by Spike’s sudden interruption.

“I mean, you don’t want to go home. I know you don’t. What’s up?”

“Nothing's up.” Xander’s face burned a little brighter. “It’s just…you don’t want me hanging around cramping your style.”

“Crikey, I thought we covered that! You are not in the way...that isn’t it, is it? What’s wrong?”

Xander toed the floor.

“Nothing.”

Spike rolled his eyes

“Spit it out.”

“I just...I should just go home. Not to stay. Just to get some stuff.”

Spike’s face hardened.

“Is that what you want?”

“No.”

“Then why suggest it?”

“…”

“Look, just say it, Xander. Whatever it is, just say it. I ain’t gonna laugh, or get angry or whatever it is you’re thinking.”

Xander looked up at Spike and he was more than a little surprised to see nothing but honesty painted across his pale face.

“Spike...I haven’t got any money.”

Spike laughed.

“Hey! You said you wouldn’t laugh!”

Spike quickly approached the affronted human.

“Sorry, pet. But you can be so daft sometimes. *I’ve* got money. Enough to get a few bits and bobs. And we’re going to Willy’s to get some more. Bloke there owes me.”

“But, Spike. I can’t expect you to...”

“Shut it. No more. I can see this argument dragging on for several hours. We are going shopping. I *am* paying. You are going downstairs to dress and wash; there is some running water down the corridor. Be back here in ten. Got it?”

Xander was tempted to argue. He wasn’t used to all this being looked after business. Still, you shouldn’t mock something until you’d tried it. He gave Spike a small grateful smile and made a beeline for the ladder.

Spike watched Xander disappear down to the bedroom. He wondered why he felt so warm inside. He hadn’t touched a drop of whisky.

**

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

“It ain’t Christmas for another six days.”

“Oh.”

The drunken Tixielix turned away from Spike and faced Xander.

“MERRY…”

“He ain’t interested either.”

“Oh.”

The Tixielix barged Xander out the way and crashed through the door onto the pavement outside.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

“You alright,?”

“Fine. Did you really have to be so rude? He was only saying Merry Christmas. What was the harm?”

Spike folded his arms.

“No harm, eh? Well then, you go outside and say Merry Christmas back to him. Let’s just see where it gets you.”

Xander looked over his shoulder at the door and flinched at a blood curdling scream that suddenly came from outside.

“What was that?”

“Someone’s Christmas present.”

“Ah. Shall we move on?”

“One minute, pet. Go tuck yourself in the corner over there. Let me just take care of some business and then we’ll move on.”

Xander complied and sat in the corner. He watched with much curiosity as Spike made his way to the bar and sat on a stool next to a tall blue frog-like creature. What kind of business could Spike have with a weird demon like that? Any kind. Xander’s curiosity grew as an argument seemed to break out between Spike and the slimy demon. Voices were raised, teeth were bared and the frog demon actually got up at one point and beat its chest with its fists. Strange.

“Thrucken blacken starken?”

“Thrucken starken blacken!”

“Starken blacken thrucken?”

“THRUCKEN THRUCKEN THRUCKEN!!!!”

Okay, so the argument seemed to be getting a little more heated.

Xander leant his elbows on the table and rested his chin in his hands. Spike was really good at all these languages. It was amazing. The other scoobies hadn’t been all that impressed with Spike’s aptitude.

~He is 126 after all. He’s had plenty of time to pick up the numerous demon languages~

Xander snorted to himself. He was barely out of his teens and he only knew one language: American, well, technically English. So if he was 126 then at the current rate he would pick up a total of six languages, maybe seven. But Spike, he knew hundreds of demon languages. He must have a talent for it. Xander wondered if he had the same talent for human languages. He’d have to remember to ask.

Spike sat down with a thump next to Xander.

“There we are, all taken care of.”

Spike had obviously won the argument while Xander had been lost in thought.

“And what exactly did you take care of? Actually, forget it. I’m best off ignorant, right?”

“Got that right, pet.”

“So, you got some more money?”

“Yup. *Plenty* more. Time to hit the mall.”

Xander groaned.

“Do we have too? The Mall’s scary.”

“Agreed. But you need stuff.”

“I guess. We’ll be quick though, yeah?”

“We’ll be as long as it takes.”

“Good. Then it’ll be quick. I don’t need much. Toothbrush….err…actually just a toothbrush will be fine.”

Spike rolled his eyes for the five hundredth time that night. He stood and offered his hand to Xander.

“C’mon, idiot. You’ll get what you’re given.”

Xander relented with a sigh and took the offered hand, allowing himself to be pulled up.

“Okay. You win. But no shoes! I refuse to go shoe shopping with you!”

“Got yourself a deal, there, pet.”

**

“God this is seriously scary, Spike.”

“Yup.”

“So many people.”

Spike looked at Xander sympathetically.

“Christmas rush, pet.”

“Well, why do they all have to rush here?”

Spike chuckled and pulled Xander into the department store.

“Sooner we do this thing, the sooner we can go back home and put our feet up.”

“Right. Quick in and out.”

“That’s the ticket! Now, what first? Clothes,” Spike said, answering his own question.

Spike dragged his reluctant shopping partner towards the clothes section of Dillard’s.

“I feel like a pinball.”

Spike ignored him and dragged him up and escalator.

“Here we are. Bit quieter up ‘ere.”

“I guess everyone is downstairs in the toy section.”

Xander got that sad look again, and it overwhelmed Spike with the need to make things better. But how? He could try to make him feel safe and give him a roof over his head, but what else? Damn it! A soul would come in real handy right now. How was a simple Master Vampire supposed to know these things?

Suddenly Spike felt some resistance and he realised that Xander had come to a complete halt.

“What…?”

Xander had stopped at the top of the escalator and was gazing up at fifteen foot Christmas tree.

“Wow! Look at that!”

Spike wasn’t sure what to say without completely demolishing his big bad image.

“It’s, err, pretty impressive. Lots of nice lights ‘n stuff.”

“Spike, it’s gorgeous.”

Spike nodded. It did look rather splendid. “I quite like the bows,” he admitted.

Xander turned to him with a big happy grin.

“I like the bows too.”

All at once the smile was gone.

“I always wished I could have had a tree like this one. Not as big as this, obviously. But a real one. All decorated nice and stuff.”

Xander shrugged and walked away.

Spike had a thought.

**

Spike checked off the items in the trolley.

“Right. We have trousers, shirts, underwear, socks, jacket, gloves, scarf, hat…”

“Spike, I’m going to end up looking like frosty the snowman. It’s cold, but it's not *that* cold.”

“Can’t be too careful. Pajamas, bed socks…hm, need to get you a robe…slippers, toothbrush, deodorant, hairbrush…I think that’s it.”

“Thank god.”

“Oh, hang on…”

Xander hung his head. “Oh, Jesus.”

“You take this lot to the check out. I’ll be right back.”

“Really? This is it? We can go home after?”

“Yep. That’s it. Unless you want to do the food shopping on the way home?”

Xander hung his head again. “Oh Jesus.”

“No? That’s okay. Bit much all in one night, eh? We’ll collect a pizza on the way home…”

Xander perked up.

“We’ll do the food shopping tomorrow.”

Xander slumped and groaned.

**

Xander licked his fingers and folded up the pizza box, pushing it firmly into the trash bin.

“I’ll take all the shopping downstairs, then.”

“Good idea, pet. I’ll be down in a sec.”

Xander nodded and scooped up his bags. Dropping them down the hole, he soon followed.

Spike watched him and repressed the urge to smile. It was nice having someone around. But things weren’t right, not yet. That kid had clearly had a hard life and Spike was determined to make it better. Ok, so you couldn’t fix something like that in a couple of nights, but he could most definitely make a start.

Spike grabbed the little bag of items he’d secretly bought while Xander was lining up at one of the main checkouts. From the bag, he pulled out a red, green and blue pen and a small note pad. He had only really needed one pen, a blue one, but hey! It was nearly Christmas and no-one said you couldn’t write notes with festive colours. The final item out of the bag was a small chocolate Santa. Spike twirled it in his fingers and had a quick think. It was time to test the water.

Not bothering to use the ladder, Spike jumped down into the bedroom. Xander was sitting on the bed, removing his new clothes and folding them neatly. Hearing Spike’s boots clomp loudly across the room, he looked up and spoke.

“Thanks for all this, Spike. This was really good of you. You didn’t have to, you know that, right?”

“Course I know it! Wanted to.”

“Thanks.”

“Got you sommit else, too.”

“Spike. You’ve bought me enough. I’ve got everything I need.”

“I know. But you don’t *need* this. It’s just a present. A little one. I spotted it while you were at the checkout. Thought you might like it.”

Spike produced the little chocolate Santa from behind his back and held it out for Xander to take.

Xander peered into Spike’s hand, and his eyes lit up.

“It’s a chocolate Santa!”

“Got it in one, luv. Take it then, it’s for you.”

Xander took it and sniffed it.

“I love these. I never get them at home. Dad says they’re a waste of money cos they’re all hollow. He says that for that price you could buy proper chocolate bars. Course, he wouldn’t buy me those either…Can I eat it now?”

Spike was taken aback. Could he eat it now??! Why does he think I bought it?!? Blinking flip.

“Course you can! Although I’m surprised you can fit anything else in that stomach of yours.”

“There is always room for Christmas treats,” Xander declared firmly, unwrapping the chocolate Santa and biting its head off.

For the first time Spike took in Xander’s appearance.

Had he always been that thin?

So that was another thing to go on the list. Fatten up new roommate.

It was time to ask the question. Spike was pretty sure he knew what the answer would be, but he didn’t want to risk fucking up, like he often did by ploughing ahead regardless.

“Xander?”

“Mrrmmr?” Xander replied through a mouth full of chocolate goodness.

“You like Christmas.”

Xander swallowed and cocked his head with slight confusion.

“Was that a question or a statement?”

“Err, both?”

Xander stared down at his half eaten treat.

“I love Christmas. Kinda.”

“Kinda?” Spike was getting worried now.

“Yeah. I love the Christmases like they have on TV or like the Christmas that Buffy has. You know, with loads of decorations everywhere, nice family bringing presents and not getting drunk and smashing up the house. And the house would be full of cooking smells and I would be helping my dad decorate the Christmas tree…”

Xander trailed off and sighed. “That was the Christmas I always wanted. Never got it, though. Never got anything near it. Anyway, doesn’t matter. No point me whining about it. You wanna share my Santa?”

“No ta, pet. Always preferred chocolate Satans, myself.”

Spike had to hold back the urge to grab Xander, hold him tightly and never let go. One thing a kid should always have, was a good Christmas. Well, maybe it was a little late coming, but Spike was going to give Xander his dream Christmas. Okay, so they were living in a poky little crypt, but Spike had a feeling that it was not going to matter to Xander.

Spike had a plan.







Chapter 3
Five days until Christmas


Spike examined his list while he waited upstairs for Xander to wash and dress.

Number one: Food Shopping.

Spike growled under his breath. He hated food shopping as much as Xander did, but it had to be done. Xander needed fattening up. Shouldn’t be too difficult a task. But he needed to be careful to fatten him on good stuff and not just chocolate and crisps, err, chips.

Spike had had a sudden thought before he’d drifted off to sleep just as dawn broke. An oven! How was he going to cook Christmas dinner without an oven?! Spike had stayed awake an extra few hours, until the shops opened again. On the stroke of eight he had used Xander’s phone and ordered a shiny new oven. How had he paid for it? Vampire trade secret. Anyway, it was due to arrive later that evening and Spike had left specific instructions for it to be installed in his absence along with some kind of gas cylinder.

Spike looked at his list again.

Number Two: Take Xander out for a Pre-Christmas drink.

Easy. After the shopping trip, they would both need to unwind and relax and what better way to achieve that than a nice quite beer? Plus it would give them both a chance to bond….as roommates of course. What else?

Xander bounced up from below.

“Ready!”

Spike jumped slightly and turned a surprised smile on the jiggling boy.

“You seem keen. You know where we’re going, right?”

“Uh-huh. Shopping!”

“So why so cheerful?”

Xander shrugged.

“Just woke up in a good mood, is all.”

Spike nodded happily.

“Good. So you’re ready to face the Kmart hordes?”

“Yep, Ready and armed.”

“Armed?”

“Yeah. With a smile on my face and a song in my heart.”

With that Xander bounced to the door and beckoned Spike to follow.

Spike made a mental note to add something to his list. Buy more chocolate santas. The sugar rush from those things must last a full twenty four hours. How the whelp got any sleep was anyone’s guess. Still, he was happy, that was what counted.

And now for the groceries. ~sigh~

**

“Grrrrrr……..”

“Spike! Shhh!” Xander hissed. “Someone’s gonna hear you.”

“I can’t help it. These people are really getting on my tits. That old bag over there has hit me three times with that bloody trolley. I’ll tell you this, Xan, if she does it again, I’m going to take that trolley and stuff it right up her…”

“Spike, calm down. We’re nearly done…Hey! Watch where you poke that French stick!”

The old bag grumbled and shuffled back to her trolley.

“Told you to watch her, pet.”

Xander rubbed at his abused backside and flipped the old woman the finger as she turned her back on him.

Spike chuckled.

“C’mon, luv. Only one or two things left.”

“What’s that?”

“Order the turkey and get erm….a few...other little bits, nothing really. Why don’t you go order the turkey for us? I’ll get the last few bits.”

Xander agreed and scurried off to find the meat counter. Spike waited until he was out of sight before he took his uncooperative trolley by the horns and raced to the confectionary aisle. He needed to get as much Christmas crap as he could in the trolley before Xander came back. So far he’d been able to pass off everything as something that he would like to eat too. But the chocolate? Xander would know it was all for him and would probably fight him all way. Spike had gotten the same reaction when trying to buy him clothes the night before. It seemed that Xander was a little uncomfortable with people buying him things. Probably not used to it. Well, he would have to get used it…eventually. But for now Spike was going to use the ‘once it’s in the trolley you can’t take it out’ rule. That had seemed to work the night before.

Spike found the correct aisle and quickly and efficiently tossed things in the trolley that he thought Xander would like, maybe things that he may have missed out on as a child.

Xander came around the corner just as the fifth bag of chocolate Santas was tossed into the trolley. He pointed in shock at the goodies that covered all the sensible goods. He opened his mouth to say something, but Spike cut him off.

“It’s already in the trolley. You can’t take it out!”

Xander was tempted to break the rule and put everything back on the shelves. But the worried look on Spike’s face was enough to stop him. Spike really looked like he wanted to do this for him. Okay, so it was making Spike happy. Couldn't be any harm in it, and besides, the treats did look tasty tasty. Mmmm. It felt weird that someone was buying things for him, and not just cheap old things, either. Nice things, things he would like, not just because they were on sale. The night before Spike had really splashed out on him, bought him nice jeans, t-shirts, and shirts. No expense was spared. Spike had bought him clothes that would look good and fit nice and not just clothes that were on sale. Xander argued a lot at first and that was when Spike had come up with the strange trolley rule. All this shopping was obviously important to Spike. Xander wasn’t sure why, but it did make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. He would go with it.

“Okay.”

“Huh?”

“I said okay.”

“You mean, you’re not going to give me any grief?”

“I didn’t say that. I just said okay. Meaning, buy the stuff and I’ll give you grief while I’m eating it.”

Xander smiled warmly and walked towards Spike, until they were nearly nose to nose.

“Thank you. I really appreciate what you’re doing for me. It’s nice to know someone cares.”

Spike breathed in the scent of Xander and stroked his fingers just once through his dark hair.

“I don’t care about much, luv, but I do care about you.”

Brown eyes stared into piercing blue ones and slowly their mouths moved to join each other…

*BING BONG* “Staff announcement, staff announcement. Vomit in aisle three. Vomit in aisle three.”

Both men jumped and separated, suddenly realising that a supermarket was not the place for a romantic first kiss.

“Um, are we done? With the shopping, that is, not the…the…are we done?”

Spike realised that he was still staring at Xander’s lips.

“Oh, err, yeah. All done. Checkout, home, unload, then, erm, you still wanna go for that drink, pet?

Xander took a deep breath.

“Yeah. Sounds good.”

**

The drive back to the crypt, then back out, had two sets of brains working overtime. The thoughts spinning around both cranial cavities were roughly the same.

Had they just nearly kissed?

If so, why had they just nearly kissed?

Were there stronger feelings going on here? Stronger than just friendship?

Did they want to try and kiss again?

Spike was concerned. Yes, he decided, he was attracted to Xander. But this wasn’t supposed to be about getting him into bed. It was supposed to be about him helping Xander, giving him a great Christmas and helping him to feel confident enough to get his life in order. The last thing that he wanted was for Xander to think that he had a hidden agenda.

Xander was concerned. Yes, he decided, he was attracted to Spike. But was this anyway to repay him for his kindness? To take advantage of him? What would Spike think? Would he think that he was trying it on so that Spike would buy him more stuff? The last thing he wanted was for Spike to think that he had a hidden agenda.

**

The two men walked into a bar…Ouch! (Sorry folks, couldn’t resist that old joke. ~dodges rotten fruit~ Hey! It’s Christmas! Give the Author a break!)

*Ahem*

The two men walked into a bar. It wasn’t a bar that Xander had been in before. It wasn’t even one that he was aware of.

“Why haven’t I seen this place before?” Xander asked.

“It ain’t that well known. It’s a nice quiet place, somewhere for a demon to come and hang his scales after a hard night of scaring kiddies.”

“This is a demon bar? I’m so not gonna fit in.”

“Don’t be daft, pet. You’ll fit in great.”

Xander halted.

“Did you just insult me?”

Spike thought about it and agreed.

“I guess I did. Buy you a beer to make up for it?”

Xander grinned and followed Spike to the bar.

“They don’t card, do they?” he whispered.

“Doubt it, luv. Oi! Bartender!”

“Spike. How are you, old bean?”

Xander was rather taken aback by the posh English accent that came from what could only be described as a lump of hairy caveman.

“Not bad, Gerald, not bad at all.”

“Jolly good. And who is this fine young fellow?”

“Oh, sorry. Gerald this is Xander, he’s a good friend of mine. Xander this is Gerald. Me and Gerald go *way* back.”

Gerald held out a huge, hairy, enthusiastic hand.

“Jolly nice to meet you, young man.”

Xander took the hand and shook it.

“Nice to meet you too.”

The cave man turned back to Spike.

“What will it be, old boy? On me.”

“Cheers, mate. I’ll have a pint of your best and, Xander?”

“Um, a beer will be fine.”

“Right. Two pints of your best please, Gerald.”

“Coming right up! Take a seat, boys, I’ll pop them over to you in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”

Spike and Xander sat in a corner booth and waited for their drinks. They were both feeling a little uncomfortable from their near kiss in the store earlier and they were both keen to not mention it.

“Tell me, luv. What would be your idea of a perfect Christmas?”

Ah! Change of subject and a fish for information. Clever Spike.

“Hmm. Just to be happy.”

“And what would make you happy?”

“Oh, you know, just stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“Just stuff.”

“Xander! Why don’t you want to tell me?”

The beers arrived and Gerald, being an ever-so polite demon, scuttled away without a word. He was never one to interrupt.

“I don’t want to tell you because you’ll think it’s stupid.”

“I won’t.”

“You will.”

“I won’t, I promise. Christ, my perfect Christmas is probably more bizarre than yours.”

Xander perked up at that.

“Okay. I’ll tell you my perfect Christmas if you tell me yours.”

Spike debated for just a second. It was only fair. If Xander was going to share then so should he.

“Deal. But you go first.”

Xander swigged his beer and nodded.

“Um, well, first I like to watch lots of TV at Christmas; the family channel is my favourite, cartoons and silly Christmas films. I always wished I had someone to watch them with. My dad always said they were stupid and he would change the channel.”

“Not stupid, pet. Some of the best films ever made are Christmas classics.”

Xander lit up.

“Do you really think so?”

“Course. Let’s see now. There is, It’s A Wonderful Life. That has to go down in history as one of the greats. Always makes me bawl, that one does.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“And then there was White Christmas.”

“I love Bing Crosby!” Xander said excitably.

“Me too, pet, me too. Big fan. What else? Oh yeah, Miracle on 34th street. The original, though, not that stupid remake.”

Xander threw his hands into the air.

“Totally!”

“Then there is, Santa Clause: The Movie, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Die Hard and who could forget the classic Muppets Christmas Carol.”

“That’s my favourite! I watch it every year!...by myself. Did I just admit that?”

“Yup, you did. Wanna know something strange?”

“Always.”

“I watch it every year too...by myself.”

“Really? You do? People just don’t appreciate the *real* humor behind the Muppets.”

“Spot on, luv. It’s not all just puppets and silly voices. There’s so much innuendo behind everything they say and do. I mean, come on, Gonzo ‘aving it off with a bunch of chickens. How twisted yet amusing is that?”

Spike didn’t let Xander answer. Instead he pointed a stern finger at him and made a point.

“They shouldn’t let kiddies watch it, yer know. It ain’t suitable!”

Xander collapsed into a fit of hysterical giggles and that was it, the awkwardness had gone. Back to normal. No more thinking about that near kiss, except that neither of them could actually stop thinking about it. Still, at least they weren’t dwelling on it or analysing it.

The rest of the evening was spent exchanging perfect Christmas dreams and wishes.

Spike discovered that Xander wanted to spend Christmas watching TV, baking, decorating, eating chocolate, drinking (not too much) and, now this was the surprise, reading. It seemed that young Xander had a real passion for the classics and he never went to bed without a good book. At Christmas, Xander loved to read Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol was his favourite, closely followed by Oliver Twist.

Spike had been surprised. He had never taken Xander for a book reader. Just went to prove, you can’t judge a book by its cover. There weren’t many that knew that Spike was also a book lover and had a particular passion for Jane Austen.

Spike made yet another mental note, to dig out some books for Xander to read. He was positive he still had some Dickens somewhere.

Xander had also found out lots about Spike’s past Christmases. Obviously there had been quite a lot of them and they stretched back over a hundred years. Xander had discovered that Spike *adored* baked potatoes at Christmas and he also loved the odd bag of roasted chestnuts and piles of oranges. Nuts in general were Spike’s thing and he craved roasted goose and mincemeat pies. It was a strange assortment, Xander thought, but then again, Spike was British. These people just eat *very* strange things. Spike had even mentioned that in England, people hang chocolates from their trees! Mad! Still, Xander would definitely be willing to give it a shot, if he actually had a tree to give it a shot with.

**

Spike climbed quietly down the ladder. Morning was about to break and it was time for all bad vampires to be in bed. He set something down for Xander on the bedside table and climbed under the covers, snuggling down next to him. Spike closed his eyes and listened to the soft contented snores from his roommate. He smiled to himself. Boy, did he have a treat for Xander tomorrow.







Chapter 4
Four Days Until Christmas


Xander woke early. Not wanting to disturb Spike, he crept up the ladder and made himself a tea. He’d have to remember to ask Spike if they could get some coffee. Not that Xander minded tea. It was just that he was more of a coffee man.

Balancing the mug of tea and a few biscuits, Xander quietly made his way back down the ladder. Spike was still sound asleep and was curled up in a ball right in the centre of the bed. With quite a lot of careful maneuvering, Xander was able so slide back under the covers without squashing the sleeping vampire.

Xander leant over to pick up his mug and, for the first time, he noticed a book lying on the table. It was a dog-eared and obviously well loved book of all Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories. Xander smiled to himself and thumbed through the volume. This was so sweet. Spike was so sweet. He could not do enough to help him feel at home and it warmed a little spot in his chest that had been cold for so long.

Xander sipped at his tea, crunched a biscuit and started reading.

**

Spike woke slowly. He was as content as a cat on a lap. A beautiful warmth drew him along the bed and he curled up around it, purring and nuzzling and…

“*Ahem*”

Spike uncurled himself from Xander’s leg and sat up.

“Xan.”

“That’s me.”

“Erm, sorry about that. I was asleep and...”

“Its okay, Spike.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. Felt nice.”

Ooopsie, that was a bit of an admission. Best move on quickly.

“Spike.”

Spike was still reeling from the ‘felt nice’ comment.

“Mm?”

“What's the plan for tonight? If there is a plan, that is. You might wanna just go and kill something. I don’t mind if you want to go alone. You must be sick of me by now. I could always go and...”

“Stop for a breath, pet, before you turn blue. We’re going shopping.”

Xander visibly sagged.

“Again?! But…but…but....do we have to?”

“No. We don’t have to. But I’d like us to. Got sommit special in mind, I reckon you’ll like it.”

Xander was suspicious and he studied Spike’s face for any sign of a trick. Finding none, he gave in.

“Alright then. It won’t take long, will it?”

“Time will fly past, luv.”

Xander got the feeling that Spike hadn’t quite answered his question.

**

Xander had the urge to groan again.

“Spike, we’re in the mall again. I thought you said I would like this.”

“Positive you still will. C’mon, it’s this way.”

Spike grabbed Xander’s hand and led him though the crowds. Or was that, barged him through the crowds?

“Sorry…excuse me…sorry about that…could you just move, oh sorry……excuse me…Spike! Slow down, you’re going to cause a fatality in a minute.”

Spike came to an abrupt halt and Xander barreled straight into the back of him.

“Ooof! Spike!”

“Here we are!”

“The Bombay Company.”

“Yup. Ready?”

“For what? What are we gonna do in there?”

Spike cocked his eyebrow and laughed.

“Well, there’s many things that we could do in there, but I think they’d kick us out on our asses.”

Xander hit him.

“Don’t be a smart ass vamp.”

“We’re gonna shop, pet.”

“What for?”

“Christmas decorations.”

“Huh? What for?”

“For the crypt.”

“Really? I didn’t think that you did that kind of thing.”

“I don’t usually. No point, not when there’s nobody to share it with.”

“And now?”

“Got you now. I know you won’t stick around forever, but as we’re spending Christmas together, I thought we could celebrate it…together. I know you love the whole festive thing, fairy lights, tinsel, garlands and shit like…and stuff like that and I just thought it would be nice. We could decorate together. We could get a tree on the way home, make it look all nice, bake some cookies. I just wanna make it all nice for you, give you a Christmas to remember.”

It was a good thing that Spike didn’t need to breathe, otherwise he would have been unconscious by now.

“You’d do all that for me?”

Spike found the floor most fascinating and he shifted uncomfortably.

“Yeah. You deserve a nice Christmas,” he said quietly.

Xander let out a slow breath and spoke to himself.

“For me.”

Spike looked up and found that he was nose to nose with Xander again.

“Thank you, Spike.”

Xander leant in the last couple of inches and placed a small chaste kiss onto Spike’s lips. He pulled back and took Spike’s hand and squeezed it.

“Shall we?”

Spike, being rather taken aback, could only manage a shaky smile and a faint nod.

**

“Oh. My. God. This is…look at…everything is so…”

“Impressed, pet?”

“Duh!? Everything is so…”

Xander caught sight of a price label.

“…expensive.”

“Naah. Quite reasonable, it is, when you consider how nice it all is.”

“It’s like Aladdin’s cave in here.”

Spike watched with warmth in his heart as Xander walked in a little circle, eyeing up all the decorations. It was like watching a kid who was in a toy shop for the first time.

“I take it you like, then?”

“Like? I love. We never had *anything* like this. I was lucky if we got a tiny plastic tree with a couple of chipped baubles and a wonky star. This stuff is so traditional looking. Maybe kinda like…English? All Victorian and stuff.”

“Yeah, that’s sort of why I like it. I knew you would.”

Xander blushed a little.

“Most people would think I was more the singing snowman kinda guy. You know, cheap and tacky? Although, and I’m going to contradict myself now, I always wanted a singing snowman. But you know what I mean?”

“I know, luv. So where should we start?”

“What’s the budget?”

“No budget, we got enough to cover us, easy.”

Xander smiled at the ‘we’ and ‘us’ part.

“A wreath! Always wanted a wreath that you didn’t have to go to a funeral to see.”

“I hear you. Wreath it is.”

And there starteth the shopping.

A nice natural wreath, complete with berries, was chosen and things soon escalated to a matching centre piece for the sarcophagus and matching garlands to drape and hang all around the crypt.

Next came festive candle holders plus candles, ornamental Santa and, lastly, a ton of decorations for a tree. Xander tried to be conservative with their purchases, but it was hard when you had Spike egging you on all the way.

They finally left the shop over two hours later, barely able to carry the mountain of stuff that they had bought.

Next stop? Tree lot.

“How about that one?”

“Naah. Too small, Xan. You’re not thinking *big* enough. How are we gonna fit all those decorations on a tiny tree like that?”

“That’s a good point. I just don’t want you to spend any more…”

“Hush, pet. Don’t want to hear it. Told you I was gonna give you a good Christmas and I bloody well meant it. Big tree equals good Christmas, yes?”

Xander beamed. “Good math.”

“Good. Now, how about that one?”

“As beautiful as it is, I don’t think we could fit it in the crypt. How are we getting the tree home, by the way?”

“Special delivery. I know a guy.”

“You know everyone.”

“That I do.”

“How about that one?”

“Yeah? That one’s good. You like that one?”

“Mmmm, smells nice.”

Like you, Spike thought. “Yeah, it does. This the one then?”

Xander simply gave him the puppy eyes.

“I guess it is. Oi! Clem! We’ll take this one!”

The floppy eared demon waddled over and waved at the two friends.

“Hey, Spike, how’s it hanging?”

“Little to the left, little to the right. You know Xander, don’t you?”

“Sure!” Clem extended a hand and shook Xander’s vigorously. “Hey, Xander. How’s it hanging?”

“Um, I’m not sure how to answer that.”

Spike grinned and interrupted. Time was growing short.

“Clem, how fast can you get this fine looking tree to my crypt?”

Clem pretended to have a quick think. Spike, being Spike, had already checked this with Clem and at the same time he had set other devious little plans in motion.

“Reckon an hour?”

“Nice one. Cheers, mate.”

Xander wandered off to admire some more trees and Spike took the opportunity to pay Clem for his services and slip him some extra.

“That’s for the you know what. Don’t start ‘til morning, though. The boy should be away with the fairies by then.”

Clem nodded briskly, his large ears flapping like a panicked duck.

“Got it. No problem. You can rely on me.”

Spike looked around and spotted Xander gazing up at tree that was covered in fake snow. He quietly approached and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Changed your mind, pet? Like this one better?”

“No! The other one is perfect. I was just thinking.”

“Thinking what?”

Xander sighed and turned to Spike.

“Snow.”

“Snow?”

“I just wish it would. Wouldn’t it be great? We could throw snow balls or build a snowman…”

“I’m starting to think you’ve got a snowman fetish.”

Xander hit him. “Can I just say, Euuww!?”

Spike pulled Xander away from the tree and back towards the car.

“Time to go, luv. You can dream about leather clad snowmen in the car.”

“Spike!”

**

“How much longer?”

Spike positioned the centre piece and glanced at his watch.

“Any minute, pet.”

“’kay...Are the cookies done yet?”

Spike could see that Xander was so very close to bouncing.

“When the timer goes ting.”

“’kay…Can we listen to it again?”

Spike reached over to his battered stereo and pressed the play button. Suddenly chestnuts were roasting on an open fire and Spike felt his stomach growl.

“Bloody hell, this song always makes me hungry. Could murder a bag o' chestnuts.”

“I’ve never had them.”

“Missing out. I wonder if you can get them around here.”

Xander grinned to himself. Spike wasn’t the only one that could organise nice Christmas things. He was going to save it until a bit later, though.

“I always fancied an open fire.”

“Yeah? Me too. Romantic, they are.”

“Mmmm,” Xander agreed.

Spike took a deep unneeded breath and gently pulled Xander towards him. He stroked one hand across a warm cheek and leaned in close.

“Maybe we could have an open fire next year?” he whispered.

Xander swallowed and had to concentrate hard on staying upright lest his wobbly knees failed him.

“Next year?”

Spike nodded silently. He looked calm on the exterior but his insides were screaming for a reaction.

“Okay.”

Spike let a smile play on his lips before his took Xander’s mouth in a gentle kiss. Xander moaned quietly as Spike lips feathered over his. He needed more, he needed to feel Spike’s tongue swirling around his mouth and his body pressed against him. In a move that was bolder than Xander would have ever have thought he could manage, he coiled his arms around Spike’s waist, pulled him closer and invaded his mouth with his tongue.

*Ting*

They pulled apart and grinned at each other. Xander was flushed and panting and Spike was wide eyed and stunned.

“Um, I think the cookies are done.”

Spike stared.

“…huh?”

“The cookies?”

“Oh! Cookies…yeah, cookies...that was…cookies…oh, the cookies are done!”

Xander released the vampire and finally bounced.

“Quickly. Get them, oh please, now.”

Truth be told, Spike was as keen as Xander to taste the wares. He grabbed a cloth glove and opened the oven door. The smell of cookies and warm chocolate hit the air and both men moaned their appreciation. Spike slid out the backing tray, laid it on the hob and admired his handy work. Six large cookies sat proudly on the tray. There should have been eight, but Xander had gotten into the cookie dough and there had been a scuffle. Xander had finally released the dough on the promise of another chocolate Santa.

Xander reached out an eager paw towards the cookies, only to be swatted away.

“Ger’ off! They’re bloody hot. You’ll burn yourself.”

Xander pouted.

The door to the crypt banged loudly enough to nearly knock it off its hinges.

“Get that, would you, luv. I’ll just stick these babies on a plate. Cool quicker.”

Xander grinned and bounced to the door.

“Hey, Clem.”

“Hi there, Xander! Where do you want this?”

Xander pointed to a space on the right side of the crypt and Clem merrily carried the tree over and began to pot it.

For the first time, Xander realised exactly how strong Clem was. The tree was a good seven footer, yet Clem carried it like it was a match stick. There admittedly was a small struggle at the door, but Clem handled it with style, grace and madly waggling, infuriated ears. Finally the tree popped through the opening and Clem went to work with a smile.

Xander went back to the cookies and poked one. Yup. Still hot.

“Xan?”

“I know, I know, still too hot…”

“That wasn’t what I was going to say.”

“Oh.”

“But they are too hot!” Spike added quickly “Anyway, just wanna say sommit.”

Spike's voice dropped to a whisper and he cautiously watched Clem, to make sure the demon was still busy potting the tree.

“Whatever happens between us, whatever has happened, and it’s all good by the way, just in case you were worrying. I just want you to know, that it’s not what all this is about.”

Spike gestured at the richly decorated crypt.

“Enjoying the babble, here. But can I say, huh?”

“The stuff. The Christmas stuff. All this. I’m not trying to get you into bed...not that I wouldn’t want to, not that I’m saying that I don’t, cos I do, but, that’s not what this is about...”

“Spike,” Xander said, looking sympathetically at the flustered vampire. “I don’t think that you are trying to seduce me.”

“You don’t?”

“Of course not! You’re Spike. Big Bad. Master of Sunnydale. If you were trying to seduce me, then I don’t think that you would be buying me nutcrackers and baking me cookies.”

“That’s true.”

“All done!”

Clem bounded over like an excited Great Dane.

“Cheers, Clem.”

“My pleasure, Spike. I’d better be off. Got lots more trees to deliver and the night is short.”

“Take care, Clem. Cheers, mate. I’m sure you’ll be *around*?”

Clem gave Spike an over exaggerated wink.

“Oh, sure, I’ll be around.”

He winked again and bounded for the door.

Xander turned suspiciously towards Spike, his eyes narrowing.

“What are you up to now, sneaky vamp?”

Spike shrugged.

“Sneakin’.”

**

The credits rolled up and Spike nuzzled at the thick mop of sable that was Xander’s hair. Sated by tree decorating, cookie eating, wine drinking and Christmas film watching, Xander had fallen asleep and was now softly snoring in Spike’s arms.

Spike heard a small rustling from outside the crypt, but he didn’t move from his place on the couch. He was well aware that it was his bat-eared friend that was moving about and doing him a good service. Spike smiled to himself and squeezed Xander a little tighter. Things were going so well. Which was strange; things in his un-life didn’t normally go this smoothly. But the proof was in the pudding. He and Xander had shared the most amazing kiss earlier, and after? There had been no awkwardness, no pushing, and no worrying. After Clem had left, they had continued to have a wonderful evening together.

Firstly, they had decorated the tree. Xander had decorated the same way that one might sculpt a beautiful work of art. The lights were arranged so carefully. Crystal droplets were placed with planning and precision, tinsel was strewn delicately and wooden ornaments and glass baubles were hung slowly and lovingly. It was as though Xander never wanted it to end. After candy canes and chocolates were added (Xander still couldn’t get over chocolate being hung on a tree), they stood back and admired their work. Xander looked a little dazed and Spike crept behind him, wrapping strong arms around his waist.

“One thing left, pet.”

“What’s that?”

Spike had released Xander from his brief embrace and crossed the room to the couch, where he picked up a large gold star. Xander smiled.

“Would you put it up?”

“Course I will, pet.”

Spike smiled at the memory of Xander’s happy face as he had place the star on the tree. Such a simple act, yet it had meant so much.

The rest of the night had been spent laughing, drinking and lastly a showing of the Christmas classic, Ernest saves Christmas. They had fallen asleep in each other's arms halfway through.

This was what Christmas was all about. Being with someone.







Chapter 5
Three days until Christmas


Yawn. Stretch. Blink. Eeep! Crick in the neck.

Xander leant back and slowly tried to work the strain out of his neck. Experience proved that it wasn’t wise to rush these things. Cool arms coiled around him and he found himself sinking back into the arms of the vampire that had come to mean so much to him.

“Evening, pet.”

“Mmmm.”

“You alright?” Spike asked, worried that Xander may be a little freaked out by the fact that they were entwined together.

“Yeah, well, kinda. My neck hurts and someone replaced my tongue with a dead rat.”

Spike turned Xander over in his arms until they were face to face.

“That will be the combination of too much red wine and falling asleep on the sofa.”

“That settles it then.”

“What?” Spike asked, a little confused.

“We need a TV in the bedroom.”

Spike drew in a breath at the ‘we’ and took Xander’s face in his hands, kissing him deeply, tasting and exploring his mouth as if it was the first time.

“I’m sure that we could arrange that.”

“Mmmm. Need to pee.”

“Xander, luv, you say such wonderful things.”

Xander displayed a huge toothy grin and pushed himself up.

Spike suddenly remembered something.

“Oh, err, I’ll come with you!”

Xander stopped at the door and turned, an amused expression plastered over his face.

“Um, there’s stuff between us, you know, we’re definitely getting closer, and that’s great, but, peeing as a couple? I just don’t think I’m ready for that.”

Spike tried not to smile at Xander’s obvious humor. He really needed to go outside with the boy. He really wanted to see his face when he saw his little surprise.

“I don’t wanna piss with you, idiot. I err, I heard someone, something, outside. I just wanna be careful. Don’t want you getting all hurt just before Christmas, or ever in fact.”

“Oh, that’s sweet. Don’t worry, though, I can take care of myself. Do you have a weapon I could borrow?”

Spike ignored the potential smutty retort that he could have given and settled instead for resignation. With a big sigh he took Xander by his elbow and led him out the crypt.

“Got sommit to show yer.”

“Um, out here? Spike, what are you…?”

Xander was stunned into silence and Spike became a little worried. Did Xander like it? Was it too over the top? Ok, so it was supposed to be over the top, but was it just *too* much? Was Xander insulted? Shit. He hadn’t thought of that.

“Da daaa!” He said nervously

Xander stared open mouthed.

“Pet? What do you think?”

“It’s…”

“Too much? Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have...”

“No. It’s not too much. It’s…beautiful. Spike, how did you do this?”

Xander gestured towards the crypt and walked around the outside gazing at every light, every flashing reindeer and smiling Santa face. The entire outside of the crypt was lit with brightly coloured lights fashioned into numerous Christmas symbols and characters.

“Clem did it for me. Thought you might like it. You said you liked tacky too. So now you’ve got both, tacky on the outside and traditional on the inside. Oh, and this.”

Spike dragged Xander back to the front of crypt and positioned him in front of a plastic snowman that was nearly as big as he was.

“Wow…”

“Hang on, there’s more.”

Spike bent down and flicked a switch. The snowman danced. Xander cried.

“Pet? Didn’t mean to make you cry, luv. I’m so sorry.”

“No. It good crying. Happy crying.”

Xander turned and flung his arms around Spike’s shoulders.

“Thank you, Spike. Thank you.”

Spike gripped the human tightly and nuzzled his head.

“S’ok, pet. S’nothing.”

“No, it’s not nothing. It’s everything. This all means so much. No-one has ever cared enough to do anything even remotely close to this for me. I just...just…this is so perfect. All I need now is the puppy.”

“Puppy?”

“Yeah. Trust me, you don’t want to hear *that* story.”

“I do wanna hear it. I wanna hear all your stories, good or bad.”

“You might change your mind when you hear this one.”

**

Spike didn’t change his mind. He wanted to run all the way to the Harris household and pull out some intestines. But he wouldn’t. That would really wreck Christmas for his boy. Instead, Spike was overwhelmed with the desire to do more to ensure Xander’s perfect Christmas. But what to do next? Spike had an idea.

“What would you like to do tonight, luv?”

“Me? I dunno. You decide.”

“Nope. I’ve dragged you around for the last couple of nights. So it’s your turn to drag me.”

“But Spike, everything you’ve done over the last few days had been for me. You should decide.”

“Not a chance. Either name sommit or it's no Christmas TV for you. C’mon, there must be *something* you’d like to do. Anything you’ve ever fancied doing at Christmas, but not got the chance?”

A small grin threatened to play at Xander’s lips.

“Well, there is one thing. The girls go a lot, but they never invite me. I reckon they think that I can’t do it, or maybe that I wouldn’t want to. But I can, and I do want to. Can we, really? Can we?”

“Course we can! You wanna go, then we’ll go! Get yer clogs on, pet, we’re going…err, where are we going?”

Xander told him

“Bloody hell!”

**

The two men sat on a bench and stared out at the icy rink.

“Are you sure about this? You really don’t mind?”

“No, course not.”

“So why have you got a face like thunder?”

“’aven’t.”

“Yes you have. Look, if you really don’t want to do this, then we should go. I’m only going to be happy if you’re happy.”

Spike put himself in check. This clearly meant a lot to Xander. He would try. Maybe he would end up enjoying himself? Stranger things had happened. Kissing and cuddling with Xander for one thing. Who could have guessed that would happen?

(Suki: Ok, Ok, you can all lower your hands. That was a question for the characters, not you lot!)

“No, Xan, I do want to do this. It’s just that…Ican’tskate.”

“Huh?”

“I. Can't. Skate. There, I said it. Mock me if you will.”

Xander was a little hurt.

“Spike, you really think I would do that? I wouldn’t.”

Xander’s eyes widened with sudden excitement.

“I could teach you!!!!”

“Yeah? Really?”

Spike’s demon groaned and kicked him from the inside. Spike ignored it. Yeah, let Xander do this. He really wants to.

“Yeah! Come on, put your skates on. I’ll show you how it’s done.”

“You sure about this? I’m a wall hugger.”

“I’ll get you off the wall. You can hug me instead.”

“I just might do that, pet.”

**

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

Xander skated past the vampire that had firmly attached himself to the side of the rink.

“It’s easy. See?”

Xander skated back past and did a little twirl for illustration.

“Yeah. Looks easy when you do it.”

“It’s just a matter of balance. You’re a vampire; I’ve seen you scale trees, jump buildings, walk along fences like a pussy cat. Me? I’m a lumbering idiot, and I can still do it.”

“You ain’t a lumbering idiot!”

Xander skated up close, stopped and shrugged.

“You look right graceful on those skates, pet.”

“Thanks,” Xander said, blushing.

“Can I watch you?”

“Not if you’re just trying to get out of skating yourself.”

“M’not. I just want to watch you move.”

Xander blushed even brighter, unsure of how to react.

“Go on, luv. Let me see.”

Finally Xander nodded and skated off around the rink.

Spike, still firmly attached to the side, watched his boy glide round and around, backwards, forwards, little spins, changes of direction. Xander was a natural. And Spike thought that he’d never looked so beautiful, so graceful and so sexy. He felt himself harden and tried to push the arousing feelings away. Firstly, it was not good to be hard around kiddies and secondly, if anyone ever found out that he, the Big Bad, was getting turned on by ice-skating, then his already battered reputation was history. Not that it really mattered these days.

Xander skated back towards him and Spike risked releasing one arm from the side to welcome his boy back. He tugged Xander closer to him and whispered.

“Beautiful, luv. Never seen anything like it.”

Xander leaned into Spike’s one armed embrace and rubbed his face into the vampire’s shoulder.

“Mean it, luv.”

“Skate with me?”

“I warn you, pet, It ain’t gonna be pretty.”

Xander laughed. It was deep and rich and it floated right into Spike and flooded his senses. The sound of Xander’s happiness was like a drug and Spike felt well and truly high.

“Just try to stay upright.”

“Duh! Bloody hell. I’ve been hanging around with you yanks too sodding long.”

Xander laughed again and held out both hands.

“Grab hold, yank-wannabe. I won’t let you fall. Well, if you do, I’ll be sure to go down with you.”

“Very comforting, pet,” Spike said as he detached his other arm from the side and trustingly gave it to Xander.

Face to face, arm in arm they slowly began to move. Xander skated backwards, pulling Spike along after him.

“Hey! I’m bloody doing it!”

“See? Easy?”

“Yeah, innit? Don’tletgothough!”

“Don’t worry, I won’t let go until you’re ready. Want to go faster?”

“A bit. Nottoofastthough!”

Xander chuckled and skated a little faster, working his hands down Spike’s arms until they were holding hands.

“You’re doing great, Spike!”

“Yeah, I am!”

“Now try and move your feet in time with mine.”

Spike gave it a go and found that it was quite easy. Course, he was still firmly attached to Xander and was not about to let go for love nor money.

“Ready to go faster?”

“Long as I can hang on.”

“Sure, but I’m going to turn round so we can both skate forwards. Grab my hips and scream if I go too fast.”

Spike complied, enjoying holding tightly to Xander’s body as they skated faster around the rink.

“Whooo! Faster!”

Xander glanced back over his shoulder.

“You sure?”

“Yeah! Pedal to the metal, pet.”

“Ok, warp nine. Engage!”

Xander skated as fast as he could and he held out his arm for Spike.

“Grab hold.”

Spike briefly let go and attached one hand to Xander’s, skating next to him at top speed.

“See? I told you. You vampire, equals good balance, equals good skating.”

“Whooo! Whoooo! Whoo….ooooo…..ooo…..Xan?!”

“Oh shit!”

Three pesky kids were skating directly at them. The choice was simple. Either crash straight into them or risk a dangerous maneuver that could potentially scare the vampire out of his wits and possibly break a few bones in the process. Crashing into the children really was not an option.

“Xan?! XAN! What are you…Whhhhooooaaaa!”

“Shit!”

“Bollocks!”

“OOOF!”

“OOOF!”

Xander groaned and tried to keep his body as still as possible while his brain registered the damage.

“I think my back is broken.”

“Eh?!”

“Not really. Are you okay, Spike?”

“Me? Super. Ta very much.”

“Are you mad?”

“Course I ain’t! Why would you think that?”

“’cause I made you go skating when you didn’t want to, and now we are lying, injured, on the ice?”

“There are worse places to be lying. And besides, I ain’t lying on the ice. I’m lying on you.”

Spike grinned down at Xander and gave him a merry wink.

“You, erm, want to go home now? I think I would be a little more comfortable on the couch. Less of the coldness. You might have to help me.”

“Course I’ll help. Erm, how do I get up?”

**

For the first time in Spike’s life, he was happy with a nice slow pace. Not that he would complain if Xander threw him against the fridge and fucked him until his fangs shook loose, but he was more than content with the brief shy touches and long tender kisses that he was getting.

It was a pace that they had both set and Spike was more than happy with it. He didn’t want this to be a good hard bang then nothing more. He really liked Xander, more than he had ever liked any human before. The growing relationship somewhat reminded Spike of waiting for Christmas. The fun was in the anticipation.

**

Xander roared with laughter as Charles Dickens’, AKA Gonzo, accidentally set light to Rizzo the rat’s tail.

“Hee! Light the lamp, not the rat! I love it!”

Spike slammed the oven door shut, sealing two large baked potatoes inside and ran to the couch.

“Fuck, missed it. That’s the funniest bit.”

Without a word, Xander picked up the remote control and rewound the tape to the beginning of the scene. The tail lighting incident occurred again and both men rolled about the couch in gales of laughter.

“Bloody funny, that.”

Xander winced slightly before nodding happily.

“What’s up?” Spike asked, concern apparent in his voice.

“Oh, nothing. My back is a little sore from earlier.”

“Is that so?”

Spike got up and pulled the tiny heater a little closer, turning it full on.

“Take you shirt off.”

“Huh?”

“Your shirt, take it off, pet. Wanna give you a massage.”

Xander swallowed hard.

“A massage?”

“Yeah, work a few of those tense muscles out. Don’t worry, luv. I won’t bite.”

Xander slowly unbuttoned his shirt and smiled at the thought that a biting Spike didn’t really scare him that much. After all, he could always bite back.

Spike did well at hiding his nervousness. Xander had unbuttoned his shirt and Spike was slipping it from his shoulders. Smooth flawless skin was revealed and Spike had to fight every vampire urge not to pounce on the warm human body and claim it for his own. However, he couldn’t resist a little worship. Kneeling behind Xander, he bent down and dropped tiny gentle kisses onto Xander’s shoulders.

“So beautiful, luv. So warm. So perfect.”

Xander moaned quietly and pushed back against Spike with a plea.

“Touch me?”

Silently Spike placed his hands onto Xander’s shoulders, kneading gently and touching every inch of skin. He slid his hands up and slowly caressed Xander’s neck; stroking and playing with his slightly too long hair.

“Mmm, nice.”

Spike lowered his hands.

“Where does it hurt, pet?”

“Down the bottom, to the left. It doesn’t really hurt. It’s just kinda sore.”

Spike lightly brushed one hand down to the indicated area and stopped.

“Pet. That’s bruising, luv. Looks painful.”

“Not really. I’ve had worse.”

As soon as the words had left his mouth he regretted them.

“Is that right?”

Spike desperately fought with his demon for control. Xander was silent and he could tell that he was not going to be happy if he threw a vampire paddy.

“Does look painful, though. I’ll see if I can work around…What’s that?”

Spike traced a finger along a long faded scar that sat just above the line of Xander’s jeans.

“That’s old. Please ignore it.”

Spike looked up at the slight tremble to Xander’s voice. The boy had hung his head and was shaking ever so slightly. Was this the time for tackling Xander’s home problems? Was this the time to make the boy spill his heart? Probably not.

Spike leant forward and placed an understanding kiss to the back of Xander’s neck.

“Whatever you want. But you know I’m here, right?”

Xander nodded.

“Now, back to work. Gonna turn your spine to mush, pet.”

And he did.

The evening ended as it had done the night before. With two bodies, one warm and one cool, wrapped and entwined around each other. The only difference was that Spike was wide awake. He lay on his back on the couch with his dark haired boy cuddled against his chest. Spike held on to him tightly, almost fearing that if he was to let go Xander would be torn from him and lost forever. Spike was troubled. He had known all along that he couldn’t fix Xander’s problems overnight. He wished he could just wave a magic wand and take Xander’s pain from him. He would gladly suffer it in Xander’s place.

An idea hit him. Two of them actually. Ooh, no, make that three. Okay, so he couldn’t fix things overnight. But he had got a long way in making this a special Christmas for Xander. But the specialness (Was that even a word?) was not going to stop here. Tomorrow, Spike was going to go Christmas shopping. No Christmas was complete without presents. Course, he would have to ditch his boy for a while, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Then he had a woman to see. A woman who could go a long way towards helping Xander have the most magical Christmas in the history of Christmases.

But how to convince her? That was going to stretch the old brain.







Chapter 6
Two days until Christmas


Xander woke and fought the increasingly desperate urge to pee. He was too comfortable, curled and wrapped up on top of his vampire. His vampire? Bet your ass! Spike was his now, Xander was staking a claim. Oooh, no, better not say ‘staking’ around a vampire. But staking aside, Spike was his. The vampire went out of his way to care for him and make him happy. No-one had ever done anything like that for him before. Obviously no-one had thought he was worth it. But Spike did.

Xander had fancied the knackers off Spike for many, many months, but never in a million years could Xander have guessed that Spike would return those feelings. But he did. Xander felt it when Spike stared into his eyes, when he held his hand and when he held him. Although Spike was fast asleep, Xander could feel affection radiating from his strong arms and tight embrace.

Time was short; it was only two days until Christmas and Xander felt like it was time to do something for Spike. But what? What could he do? How about a present? With what? Xander sighed. The only small amount of money he had was at his parent’s house. That’s if they hadn’t pilfered it in his absence. Had they even noticed he had gone? Had his friends noticed that he had not been around for a few days? If the silence of his cell phone was anything to go by, then no, he had not been missed. Sadness passed through him for a moment, until he felt Spike’s arms tighten around him.

“Alright there, pet?”

“Yeah, just considering peeing. Don’t want to leave you, though. Cosy.”

“Mmmm, cosy, too, pet. Go on, go get it over with. I’ll still be here when you get back.”

“Will you still be here, with coffee?”

“Get out, brat.”

Spike watched Xander leave the crypt before he got up to make the drinks.

Another few days and he’d be completely under the thumb.

While Spike waited for the kettle to boil he checked his re-vamped list. There wasn’t much left to do. First up was to get some gifts for Xander. Christmas day was not Christmas day unless there were presents to rip open. It had been too many years to remember the last time he had felt the joy of tearing open a present.

But what to buy? What would Xander really like? Spike had one idea, but he needed more. He’d have to have a think. Then there was the thing. Spike didn’t know whether it was going to be possible, but he was damn well going to give it a try.

**

Xander shivered and finished his mission. Walking back around the crypt, he stopped to flick the switch for the Christmas lights and then the dancing snowman. Stepping back to admire the brightly lit building, he couldn’t help the surge of Christmas cheer that pulsed through him.

“Xander?”

Xander yelped and spun around.

“Buffy?! Is that you?”

“The one and only.”

Xander clutched at his heart and sagged with relief.

“You scared me.”

“That’s my job. Say, where have you been the last few days?”

“I...”

“Oh, have you spoken to Giles? He wants us all to meet up after the holiday.”

“Yeah?”

“Research workshop. Apparently our skills need fine tuning. So what are you doing for the holidays?”

“Well, actually, me and...”

“Oh! And did you hear? Willow got hair extensions! Xander, why is Spike’s crypt lit up like Santa’s grotto?”

“Well, he…”

“And why are you in your pyjamas, outside of Spike’s grotto?”

“Are you planning on firing stupid questions at him all night or have you considered actually letting him speak?”

“Look, bleached…”

“Who you calling bleached, Miss I’m up my own…”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence! I’m very tempted to kick your ass right now. And, I’m sorry, you have to tell be why your crypt has been infected by the festive virus.”

“Thought you asked Xander that question.”

“Geez! What’s with you two? Okay, Xander. Grotto and pyjamas. Go.”

Spike tensed, wondering what Xander was going to say. He wouldn’t blame him if he lied. Xander had more than enough problems to deal with, without adding having to explain new un-dead boyfriend to the list.

“Um, well, I’m in my pyjamas, outside Spike’s grott…erm I mean crypt, because I’m staying here. My parents kicked me out, and I had nowhere to go. But Spike let me stay here. And the crypt is all lit up because Spike is trying to give me a great Christmas.”

“You're staying *here*?”

“Yes.”

“With Spike?”

“Yes.”

“Here?”

“*Yes*”

“And you are spending Christmas with Spike?”

“Yes.”

“Here?”

“YES, YES, YES. Did you go deaf or am I speaking another language?”

“Okay, okay, don’t get all tetchy!”

“I’m not tetchy.”

“Then why are you being tetchy?”

“I’M NOT TETCHY!”

“Calm down Xander, there’s no need to shout.”

“I’M NOT SHOUTING!”

“Err, pet, you are shouting,” Spike added helpfully.

Xander put his face in his hands and growled.

“Pet, why don’t you get inside? You’re going to catch a chill.”

Xander nodded, glared at Buffy and stomped inside.

“Right, Slayer. You and me need to talk.”

**

Xander grabbed the coffee that Spike had prepared for him and sat woodenly on the couch. He really did try not to listen to the argument that was going on outside, but it was quite difficult considering the shouting.

“…stupid…bitch”

“…dare…I…never”

“Suck…plastic…ass”

“You…on…my…horse”

“Yeah!...bloody…bollocks…suck…dick”

“I…believe…said that. What…about…time…you”

“Bollocks…Never…up…own…arse”

The fragments of heated conversation that travelled through the crypt walls were enough for Xander to realise that someone outside was going to end up pasted to the ground.

Xander suddenly felt so mad. Who was Buffy to think that she could just drop by and cause trouble? He had been feeling so cheerful and all full of the Christmas spirit and a little bit loved up, then Buffy comes along and spoils it all.

No, he thought determinedly, she was not going to spoil things, not Christmas and not things between him and Spike. It was time that he stood up for himself.

Xander got to his feet and set his coffee mug down with a stern clunk. If Buffy came for a fight then that was exactly what she was going to get.

**

“You can’t see what’s right under your bloody nose. That’s your problem, Slayer. Blind.”

“I am not blind. I don’t understand what you’re going on about.”

“No, course you don’t. That’s the point, innit?”

“Just shut up and tell me what’s going on with Xander.”

“Well, if you don’t know…”

“THAT’S ENOUGH!!”

Buffy and Spike were stunned into silence at the sound of Xander’s furious voice.

“That’s better. Spike, thank you for sticking up for me, it really means so much. I love everything that you’ve done for me. If it wasn’t for you then I would probably be sleeping rough or, even more probable, I’d be dead. Thank you. Buffy, you have been my friend for a few years now and I know that you have a lot on, what with you being the chosen one and everything. And I know that I have kept things from you, from all of you, and perhaps that’s my problem, perhaps that is my fault. But at the end of the day, you still treat me really badly. You have no respect for me. You never listen to me and sometimes you just make me feel like I’m in the way. That is your problem. I want you to go away and think about me, think about how you feel about me and then decide whether you think you even deserve my friendship.”

Xander pulled Spike towards him and grabbed his hand.

“And before you ask, yes, there is something between me and Spike and no, you can’t have any details. You can’t stop me from seeing him, you can’t dust him or beat up on him or insult him and you can’t change my mind. Now, me and Spike are going back inside. I’m hungry and Spike is a great cook. You will go away now.”

And with his speech over, Xander pulled his vampire boyfriend back into the crypt and slammed the door behind them.

Buffy didn’t quite know what to do with herself.

**

While Spike was frying up a delight and watching suspiciously over his shoulder, Xander paced up and down.

“That’s it; I’ve had it with that lot. Sick to the back teeth. Had it up to here. That’s it. I’m not going to put up with it any more. Sick of it.”

Spike served up the eggs and waited while Xander got things out of his system.

“Why do they do it to me? Why do they ignore me one minute and then stick their noses in my business the next? It’s not fair, you know?”

Spike nodded and added bacon to the plates.

“Sometimes, I really hate them…I didn’t mean that.”

Spike shook his head, knowing already that Xander could never really hate anyone.

“I just wish…wish…”

Xander sighed and flopped down on the couch.

“I just wish that they could treat me like an equal. And sometimes I just wish that maybe I could communicate with them better. Sometimes it seems like I’m on a different frequency.”

Spike jumped in, unable to resist the chance at an easy joke.

“Maybe if you just twiddled your knob a little bit, things could be different. You could come a long way.”

Spike grinned and Xander narrowed his eyes.

“Was that rude?”

“Might ‘ave been,” Spike said, still grinning like the Cheshire cat.

“Stoopid British vamp,” Xander replied, a small smile forming despite himself.

Spike approached with two plates. He shoved one onto Xander’s lap and sat down with the other.

“What do you wanna do about it?”

“What do you mean? What can I do about it?”

“Well, seems like you have two options. One, carry on as normal and try not to let it get to you. And two, and this is my personal favourite, call ‘em on it, give ‘em a good telling off and see what happens.”

“No! I can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“I don’t like confrontation,” Xander lied.

“Bollocks! You’ve confronted me hundreds of times. You’ve got a mouth like the Lincoln Tunnel, you'll call people out for the smallest things. So tell me why you won’t do this. You’ve already kicked Buffy’s backside.”

“Buffy is different, you can bitch at her, say whatever you want, then she’ll get distracted by nail polish, or clothes, or strappy slingbacks, and she’ll forget that it ever happened.”

“That didn’t exactly answer my question, luv. Why won’t you tell them how you feel?”

Xander shrugged.

“Because I will have to explain myself, tell them why I think that they ignore me. I’ll have to tell them that I get abused by my father and that I’m upset that they never noticed. Then…Spike, what if they don’t care?”

Spike snatched Xander’s plate away from him and placed both plates on the floor. He pulled Xander into his arms and held him.

“Luv, they will care. They do care. They’re just a bunch of selfish pricks that can’t see what’s going on right under their noses. It isn’t that they don’t care, they’re just blind.”

Xander looked up at Spike, his face as hopeful as a child on Christmas Eve.

“Do you really think so?”

“’Course. You know I’m always right.”

“Hardly.”

“Fine. Prove me wrong, then.”

“I will.”

Spike smirked.

Xander hit him and picked his plate up from the floor.

“Annoying vamp,” Xander grumbled happily as he stuffed three whole rashers of bacon in his mouth at the same time.

**

“You sure you don’t mind, luv?” Spike asked.

“No, you go ahead, Spike. I’ll be fine. Um, I might see if the guys are around. I should really show my face.”

Spike looked a little worried; he wasn’t keen on Xander facing his friends alone. What if he’d been wrong about their reaction? What if they really didn’t care about Xander? Spike pushed the thought from his mind. Of course they cared. He was never wrong, apart from when he wasn’t right. Perhaps he should ask to go along with Xander ... okay, so that would completely bugger up his plans, or would it?

“Err, pet? Where will you be going and at what time?”

“Um, now and I thought that I would go to Buffy’s. I think I remember her saying that Joyce was doing some buffet thing tonight.”

“How ‘bout I meet you there later.”

Xander bounced slightly at that.

“That would be great! Are you sure that you don’t mind? The atmosphere might not be very good by the time you get there. I’m gonna guess that Buffy will have told everyone about us and once I start having a go too, I reckon it could get ugly.”

Spike put on his duster and folded his arms around his new lover.

“All the more reason for me to be there, then, pet.”

He kissed Xander tenderly and slowly before drawing back and stroking his hand through his hair.

“Meet you there in a couple of hours?”

Xander nodded, still rather dazed by the slow but intense kiss.

Spike smiled and backed out of the crypt. He had a plan to carry out.

Xander smiled back at his lover. He had a plan to carry out, a stupid one maybe, but it was still a plan.

**

Spike glanced at his watch and started to worry. He had said that he would meet Xander in a couple of hours. Well, a couple of hours had come and gone and Spike still had one more important thing to sort out for Christmas. The last thing he wanted was for Xander to think that he had deserted him.

His last piece of Christmas business had led him to a strange demon bar on the outskirts of town. He hadn’t ever bothered with this particular bar before and now he remembered why. It was poncy. All done out in pastel colours, the bar only served spritzers and cocktails and instead of a pool table, there was a bloody great dance-floor right in the middle of the room. What a load of bollocks.

Spike went to the bar and ordered a drink.

“Sex on the beach, please.”

“Coming right up, tiger.”

The barmaid winked and slung a tentacle seductively over her shoulder. “First time, babycakes? I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”

Spike looked curiously at the bright pink barmaid. He realised that other parts of her were winking as well and he quickly averted his eyes.

“Yeah, not normally my sort of place.”

“What is you normal sort of place?” the barmaid asked as she placed a brightly coloured drink in front of her new patron.

Spike adjusted the umbrella, moved the plastic monkey and sucked down half the drink through a stripy straw before he answered.

“Someplace a little more…kicking.”

The barmaid smiled and leant on the bar, exposing three nicely rounded breasts.

“So what brought you here tonight, sweet thing?”

“Actually, that might be something you can help me with.”

“I’m intrigued. Do tell.”

“Right then. I’m looking for an old friend of mine. A woman.”

**

Xander glanced at his watch and started to worry. Spike had told him that he would meet him at Buffy’s in a couple of hours. Well, a couple of hours had already come and gone and Xander still hadn't begun to do what he wanted to do.

He had spent the last two hours perched on a wall, just a few yards away from his parent’s house. He was waiting for them to go to bed. But it was late and the upstairs light was still on. Maybe they were…euww, no, don’t even go there.

Xander sighed and hopped off the wall. It was no good, he couldn’t wait any longer. For all he knew, both his parents had passed out halfway up the stairs. He was going to have to take a chance.

Entering the house, Xander realised that all was silent. He had probably been right about his parents passing out. Carefully he crept down into the basement; he had to do this fast. Just being back here was turning his guts to jelly. He had definitely passed the point of no return. He just couldn’t cope with living his life in fear any longer. He hoped to god that he wasn’t a novelty to Spike, that the vampire wasn’t trying on his do-gooder hat on, only to find that it didn’t fit. Xander had real feelings for Spike and if the blond wonder rejected them, then it would be the last straw.

Xander lifted his mattress and ran his arm beneath it. He was sure he’d left some money under here, it was the only place that he could stash it without his dad pilfering it. Pulling his arm back out, he came up victorious. He whispered a quick cheer and counted his find. Fifteen whole dollars.

Great. Just great. How an earth was he going to get Spike a nice present for fifteen dollars? Then, an idea hit him. It wasn’t much, but it wasn’t like he had much of a choice. He could make him a chocolate Yule Log! Spike had mentioned how much he loved them.

Xander crept back upstairs and raided the kitchen. Well, why not? It wasn’t like anyone would notice if he took a couple of things, unless he took the beer of course. He opened a cupboard door and scanned the contents. Now what was in a Yule Log? Logs? He wasn’t sure. Maybe Willow and Tara would know. Yule Log sounded like something they would know all about. He grabbed the flour anyway. Yule Log was a type of cake wasn’t it? Yeah. It had to have flour in it.

Xander turned around to leave and was surprised to find that a large bulky body blocked his path.

“Dad.”

**

Spike strolled in the kitchen using the back door.

“Hello, Mrs Summers.”

“Spike, how lovely to see you.”

“Yeah, you an’ all. How’s things?”

“Things are just fine, thank you so much for asking. I’ve not seen you around much recently.”

Spike cleared his throat .

“Err, yeah, been sort of busy.”

Joyce smiled knowingly and held up a plate of star shaped cookies.

“With Xander, I hear.”

Spike accepted one of the treats before he spoke.

“Buffy told everyone, then.”

“Yes, she did. She was, let's say, taken aback.”

“Understatement,” Buffy stated firmly.

The slayer stood at the door with her hands on her hips and a look of pure venom on her face.

“Oh whatever, Buffy. I really don’t want to hear whatever it is that you are thinking of saying.”

“You will hear me.”

“What, like Xander’s just had to? No, thanks very much. Why can’t you just listen to him, rather than dictating to him?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, blondie.”

“So he hasn’t said anything to you?” Spike asked, quite confused. He was so sure that Xander was going to tell them exactly how he was feeling.

“Uh, no. But it would be a little difficult seeing as he’s not here.”

“Eh? But he said he was going to be here.”

“Yeah, he phoned a few hours ago. Said he was coming over.”

Spike stalked quickly to stand in Buffy’s face.

“When? When did he say he would be here?”

“He didn’t,” Buffy said, indignant at Spike’s proximity.

“Well, did he say where he was? What did he say?”

“He just said that he had to get something from his parents' place and that he would be over after.”

Spike’s blood ran cold.

**

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Dad…I…”

“I don’t want to hear it, boy. You crash around at all hours of the night, who do you think you are?”

“But dad, it’s only half past nine.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Xander knew he had made a mistake. The hand struck quickly and Xander had no time to get out of the way. His head snapped back and he stumbled against the kitchen counter, knocking the bag of flour to the floor where it exploded over his feet.

“Don’t be smart, Alexander. It doesn’t suit you.”

Xander clutched at his stinging face and fought back tears.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything.”

“No. You never mean anything, do you? You just swan in and out of here, expecting us to provide for you when you give nothing back to us.”

Xander continued to fight his emotions. There was so much that he wanted to say. So much that needed to be said. But where would that get him? Nowhere. His father had never been one to listen and take note.

“I’m sorry.”’

“You fucking will be if you don’t get this mess cleared up, pronto.”

Xander’s father grabbed his hair and pushed him down onto the floury floor.

“You’ve got five minutes, boy.”

Xander glanced up fearfully from under his long wet lashes and watched his father pull a beer from the fridge before walking away. He looked down at the flour pooled around him and let his tears fall freely to the floor. He stayed that way for what seemed like hours, mesmerised by his tears dropping into the flour. When the tears subsided he counted the small damp patches around him -- there were twenty of them, one for every year of his life. Each one represented a single year of misery, degradation and humiliation. This was it. This was where it stopped. He stood and glanced sadly at the mess on the floor. He would never find happiness in this house. There was no point in even trying. And besides, he had someone to care about him now, someone that treated him like he deserved. Xander headed for the door. He had a fresh bag of flour to buy.

**

Spike raced the DeSoto around the corner. He gripped the steering wheel and muttered curses and threats of death. If those bastard parents had done *anything* to hurt his boy, then he was going to rip out their intestines and make pretty Christmas ribbons out of them. He was just imagining how to make a Christmas star out of a lung when he passed the familiar figure of Xander almost merrily skipping down the sidewalk. Spike slammed on the brakes, skidded the car around and parked it right next to where Xander was now standing.

“I’m impressed. That’s almost perfect parking.” Xander said as he eyed up the DeSoto's position.

Spike ran around the car and took Xander in his arms.

“Luv? You alright? What’s this?” Spike asked as he lifted Xander’s face.

“It’s nothing.”

“Bloody ain’t nothing!”

“But it is nothing. I’ve had worse, believe me.”

“I’m bloody sure. Your fuck face, prick of a father do this?” Spike growled.

Xander nodded and smiled.

Spike was confused.

“So what ‘appened? What’s going on?”

“I went back home to get something and my father caught me.”

“Yeah? What happened? Did you argue? Is that why he clocked you? Want me to kill ‘im?”

“Nothing really happened. He just had a go and then he hit me. And no, I don’t want you to kill him.”

“So why are you looking so happy? What are you hiding? You *can* tell me. You can trust me with anything, you do know that?”

“Yeah, I know that and I’m really not hiding anything. I just realised something.”

“What’s that, luv? Tell me?”

“I realised that was it. That was the last time that he would ever hurt me. Before I always thought that somehow I would end up back there, taking his abuse and never being able to escape. Even when I said that I would never go back, there was something at the back of my mind telling me that I would go back, that I would have to. But tonight, when he hit me and walked away, I knew that was it, that I was stronger, that I didn’t have to put up with it anymore. I don’t ever have to go back. Spike, I don’t expect to stay with you forever, you might not want me to. I know we’ve got something here, but I don’t expect you to pledge your undying love, not yet anyway. But I was thinking, once I’m on my feet again, you know, with a job and some money, I could get a little apartment and maybe you could come with me, if you wanted to, which you don’t have to. You could always move in later, if you wanted to, which you don’t have to. Although, for the record, I do want you to. No pressure though. What do you think?”

“I think that was one impressive babble, that’s what I think. I also think that I feel something real strong for you. I’ve never felt this way before. I want to be with you. I can’t stand the thought of being apart from you. I would love to live with you.”

Xander beamed and kissed Spike firmly and deeply.

“Can we go home now?” he asked when he was done.

“Don’t you want to go talk to your friends?”

Xander shook his head no.

“Had enough tension for one night. Want to go home and cuddle up. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Course not, pet. Wanna watch another Christmas film?”

“Yeah! How about National Lampoons Christmas Vacation?”

“Sounds good. Pet? What’s in the bag?”

“It’s a surprise…Hey! No peeking!”







Chapter 7
Christmas Eve


Xander opened his eyes and stretched. Snuggling back up beneath the heavy covers he turned to face Spike.

“Mornin’, luv.”

Xander jumped slightly.

“Hey. I didn’t realise you were awake.”

“Sorry, pet. Didn’t mean to startle you. Want anything?”

“Just you.”

Spike smiled and held his arms open, soon receiving a wiggling Xander.

“Mmm, you’re all warm, luv. I’m tempted to keep you in my bed. My hot water Xander.”

Xander chuckled and snuggled closer into Spike’s embrace. He felt so safe and so content, which was surprising considering who he was cuddling with. But Spike had shown such a different side to himself. He had shown himself to be a better friend than anyone else in his life.

Xander tilted his head up and invited Spike in for a kiss.

Spike bent his head down and feathered his lips over Xander’s before slipping his tongue inside and gently lapping.

Xander moaned into the kiss and felt himself grow hard against Spike’s hip. He pushed his tongue into Spike’s mouth and pressed his hardening cock against Spike in a gesture that was almost demanding.

Spike trailed one cool hand over Xander’s body, touching and feeling every part that he could reach. He hesitated when he reached Xander’s stomach, still unsure if he could go further. Xander answered his silent question by pulling Spike’s hand lower and wrapping his own hand around Spike’s leaking cock.

“Please,” he whispered into Spike’s mouth.

Spike deepened the kiss and started to slowly stroke Xander to full hardness.

Xander broke the kiss and moaned loudly, tipping his head back for Spike to use as needed. It was only a matter of seconds before Spike lavished his throat with impassioned kisses, his tongue sliding over Xander’s warm flesh and his mouth sucking and tasting Xander’s essence.

“Gods, Spike. Please.”

Xander fisted Spike’s cock faster, setting a much more rapid pace. Spike was glad. He’d had the horn for nearly a week, lying next to Xander every night and just wanting to feel his cock in his hand, feel his breath panting and blowing over his skin and hear the boy moan and plead for him. He was not going to last long.

“Xan, so good, baby…”

The pace quickened, each man fisting the other, desperately seeking fulfillment. Spike felt Xander cling tighter to him, his body readying for release.

“Come for me, Xan. Come for me, baby. Need you so much.”

“Gods, need you too, Spike. Want you. Need you. Come for me too.”

Spike stroked harder and faster, his hands now slipping easily over Xander’s pre-come soaked cock. His body tensed and together they cried out their releases.

Xander released Spike’s softening member and wrapped his arms around his waist.

“Spike…that was…”

Spike waited a short while for the end of the sentence. When he realised that it wasn’t forthcoming, he joined Xander in a happy contented sleep.

**

Spike opened his eyes and stretched. Snuggling back up beneath the covers he turned to face Xander. He wasn’t there.

Although the normal part of Spike’s brain told him that Xander was probably upstairs watching TV, his over-dramatic demon side was telling him to panic. Waking up with no Xander just didn’t feel right. He leapt out of bed and charged up the ladder. He got about halfway up before the smell hit him.

A fry up.

He sprung up the ladder and landed with bounce in front of Xander, who had been coming to serve him breakfast in bed.

“AH! Geez, could you make some noise when you’re coming?”

Xander realised what he had said and he ducked his head, blushing furiously.

“Sorry ‘bout that. That for me?” Spike asked, unable to repress a smile.

“Yeah, I was going down with it…just take the damn food.”

Xander blushed some more and Spike hugged him and kissed his temple, laughing as he took his plate and headed towards the couch.

Xander collected his plate and sat next to him.

“Is the bacon that good?” he asked, referring to the huge smile on Spike’s face.

“It’s good because you made it. I can’t believe you’re going to be with me every day. That I can get bacon cooked this good everyday. Just can’t believe it.”

Xander leant over and kissed his lover.

“You better believe it, blondie. You also better believe that I won’t be cooking you bacon everyday.”

Spike shrugged, “We’ll see,” he said with a wink.

“So, what are we doing today?”

Spike thought quickly. He really needed to get Xander out of the way again, just for an hour or so. He needed to talk to Joyce, he had kind of left her in charge of something. But what with the sudden panic yesterday, he’d had to run out on her without explaining everything. He also wanted to talk to Buffy. Explain a few things to her and hopefully make life for Xander a little easier.

“Well, pet. I thought we’d pop into town. Get a few last minute bits and pieces, err, then I need to, err…”

“Yeah…I need to…um…do something…uh…”

“Yeah…we could, I mean you could…then I could.”

“Yeah, sounds good. That’s settled then.”

They both sat quietly eating, each knowing that the other was up to something. Oh well, it was Christmas. A time for sneaking, hiding things and secrecy. It was what the holiday season was all about.

**

Spike and Xander walked happily down the street together. Xander carried the shopping bags while Spike finished off his bag of roasted chestnuts.

“Sure you don’t want another one, Xan? Fucking gorgeous!”

Xander chuckled, “No, you finish them; I’ve got some Swedish fish to polish off when I get in.”

Spike popped another chestnut in his mouth and crunched. “Well, if you’re sure. These are fucking gorgeous!” He threw another chestnut into his mouth and leaned in to give Xander a kiss. “Cheers, Xan. These are fucking gorgeous. Should have let me buy them, though. I know you ain’t got much money.”

“Spike, you wouldn’t have bought them just for you. You only ever buy stuff for me. It was my turn to do something nice. And you’re welcome.”

They stopped in front of the colourful crypt and Spike helped Xander to carry the bags inside.

“Right. Now I know you’re safe here, I’ll just shoot off and do what I need to do. Won’t be long and you ain’t going anywhere, are you?”

“Nope.”

“So I won’t have to worry?”

“Nope. I’ll be right here. Hand on heart. Not going anywhere.”

“And you’re not up to anything, pet?”

“Nope.”

“Hand on heart?”

“Nope.”

“Good. See you in a few.”

Spike got about a hundred yards from his crypt before he realised.

“Hang on…”

**

Xander put away the fresh supplies they had bought. Bread, milk, eggs, bacon. When it was all packed away he started his project.

Chocolate Yule Log.

He’d gone to the local store last night after his visit to his parent’s house and had bumped into Meg. He’d known her since he was a child. Meg was a friend of his Gran’s. The times that he’d been allowed to visit his Gran, Meg had often been there. She used to bake cookies and candies for him and take them to his Gran’s just in case he should visit.

Xander had been wandering down the aisle, completely lost, when he'd backed into the old lady’s wheelchair. One thing led to another and, before he knew it, Meg was helping him pick out ingredients for a chocolate Yule Log. She’d even written down the recipe for him after a promise that he would visit her in the New Year. A promise that Xander was more than happy to keep. He was positive that Spike would love her. Meg was a little crazy, always had been and she had a wicked sense of humor. Plus, she was old, right? Spike was old. See? Plenty in common.

Right. ChocolateYule Log. Xander stared at the ingredients all laid out. Oh gods.

**

“Right, so you sure that’s ok?”

“Of course it is. I told you yesterday, I want to help out.”

“Cheers, Joyce. He’s gonna love it, yeah?” Spike asked, a little uncertain.

“How could he not?”

Spike nodded. “Can't wait to see his face.”

Joyce smiled. Xander certainly was in for a surprise.

Spike cleared his throat and put on his casual voice. It wasn’t much different to his normal voice, but he gave it a shot anyway.

“Buffy not here, then?”

“No, she went out with Willow. I think they went to the movies.”

“And you didn’t go with them?”

“I didn’t get invited.”

“Oh.”

“Sometimes, I think I know how Xander feels.”

Spike’s eyes widened in surprise. He hadn’t mentioned to Joyce how Xander was feeling and he was amazed that someone else had picked up on it. Well, if anyone else was going to notice Xander’s plight, then it would be Joyce. She was a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother. Just the sort of mother that Spike wished Xander had.

“Listen, when you drop round tomorrow with the stuff, do you…will you…you wanna stay a while? We got plenty of food ‘n stuff. I know Xander would like it. Course, I guess you got things going on here. It was a silly suggestion…”

“Spike, I’d love to. And let me talk to the girls when they get back. Maybe they would like to come round too? If that is okay with you.”

“Well, it would make Xan happy, so yeah, that’s fine with me…You’ll be lucky if get them to come, though. They don’t give a flying dog’s turd about Xander.”

“Spike, I don’t think that’s true. Sometimes they just get wrapped up in themselves, they don’t notice others around them.
And you know what Xander is like. He won’t ask for attention. Not in a million years.
And he keeps everything to himself, he’ll never say if he’s upset. He won’t ask for help. So when you combine that with the blind-sight that everyone else has developed…”

“Yeah, I see where you’re going with this.”

“But don’t worry, Spike. I’m going to give them a good talking to, including Rupert. Now, you’d better get going, or Xander’s going to start wondering.”

Spike glanced at his watch and agreed. “Yeah, best had. Although I reckon he wanted me out the way tonight. Hope he has finished whatever he was up to.”

Joyce and Spike exchanged pecks on the cheek and Spike left through the back door. He wondered with a grin what Joyce’s “talking to” was going to be like.

**

Spike made plenty of noise as he approached the crypt, making sure to give Xander ample warning that he was on his way. He had a sneaking suspicion that Xander was planning a surprise.

He opened the crypt door slowly, allowing it to emit the most powerful squeak possible.

“Xan…”

That was when the smell hit him. Sweet, hot chocolaty goodness.

“Surprise!”

That was when the mess hit him.

“Xan, pet? What you been up to?” He couldn’t help but smile and laugh a little. It looked like a chocolate bomb had gone off and Xander had been caught in the blast.

“Um, I made you something…I kinda made a mess, though. I *will* clean it. I promise.”

Spike closed the crypt door and closely inspected his chocolate covered lover.

“I’ll make you a deal. I’ll help you clean the kitchen if you let me clean you.”

“Um, okay. How are you going to clean me?”

“Like…this,” Spike said, between licks to Xander’s neck.

“Mmmm, ‘kay…no! Wait! Damn vamp, distracting me. I wanna show you what I made.”

Spike took Xander’s hand. “Lead the way, pet. Show me what you did.”

Spike had to admit, he really didn’t know what to expect. Something with chocolate icing, that much was obvious. But what culinary monstrosity was waiting for him, he did not know. Whatever it was, he would eat it, just because Xander had made it for him.

“Daa, Daaaaaa! I’m actually quite proud of it. Turned out better than I thought.”

Spike stared with an open mouth.

“It’s a…It’s a…a…”

“Chocolate Yule Log!” Xander finished.

“It’s…it’s…”

“Does it look okay? Does it look right, like it should?”

“Xan, pet, it looks perfect. Just like sommit from Marks & Spencers. You did this? All by yourself?”

“Yup, just little ol’ me…and a damn good recipe.”

Spike grinned; he couldn’t believe that someone would go to such trouble for him. He felt special.

“It’s wonderful, Xan. Thank you.”

“Oh no, don’t thank me yet. You’d better try it first.”

Spike grinned again, an idea forming in his head. He picked up the whole plate and quickly headed towards the ladder.

“C’mon then, luv. Wanna go enjoy you and the chocolate log in comfort.”

“’kay. Shall I get plates ‘n stuff?”

“Just the stuff. Forget the plates. You’re my plate.”

Xander moved faster than he ever had in his life.

**

Xander lay in arms of his lover. He’d just experienced one of the most bizarre, yet enjoyable evenings of his young life. The things you could do with chocolate Yule log. Thank the gods it was tasty. Very tasty. Spike had agreed.

Xander adjusted his head on Spike’s chest and listened to the low rumbling purr that came from the sated vampire. This had turned out to be a great Christmas. Okay, so technically it wasn’t Christmas yet. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what happened tomorrow. He had everything he ever wanted right here. How could it possibly get any better?







Chapter 8
Christmas Day


Xander felt cool arms tighten around him. He nestled further into Spike’s chest and sighed, heavily.

“Hope that was a happy sigh, pet.”

“Mmm, it was. I love waking up like this. Feels nice.”

Spike ran his fingertips up and down Xander’s arm. He spoke into Xander’s hair as he nuzzled at the sable strands. “Me too, luv,” he purred. “You make me all warm and sleepy.”

Xander stretched as much as he could with one of Spike’s arms clamped around him in a grip that was both comforting and protective. He climbed further up Spike’s body and caught his lips in a long, tender kiss.

“Morning, blondie.”

Spike chuckled and kissed him back.

“Morning, whelp. Merry Christmas.”

Xander’s smile widened; he’d completely forgotten. “Merry Christmas, Spike. Our first?” he asked shyly.

“Definitely. First of many.”

A good hour was spent with lazy kissing and touching, each man seeking to explore and remember the other’s body, learning every inch of skin and every curve of muscle. When their climax finally came it was moaned out through loving words and tender kisses.

**

They both looked at the clock and smiled at each other.

“This is the first time that I’ve ever started my Christmas celebration in the evening.”

“I think this is the first time I’ve celebrated Christmas in a hundred years.”

“Really? That’s so sad. We’ll make this a Christmas day to remember, then,” Xander said as he hopped out of bed and headed upstairs. “C’mon, Spike. We have a dinner to cook. The turkey we ordered? It came last night when you were out. *And* I got extra stuff when I bought the ingredients for the log.”

“Yeah? What did you buy?”

“Everything for a traditional English Christmas dinner.” Xander counted on his fingers, “I got sprouts, carrots, which will be cooked and buttered, sage and onion stuffing, chestnut stuffing, an onion to bake and Yorkshire puddings…well, I didn’t buy them, I have to make them, and I got those little sausages with bacon wrapped round them, and cranberry sauce and, well, I couldn’t get Christmas pudding, what is Christmas pudding? Anyway, so instead, I got stuff to make apple crumble and custard, ‘cos I remember that you said that you liked that. And then I got some chocolate mints to have with coffee after, to, um, clear the palate? Then, later, we could have turkey sandwiches and put the left over stuffing and cranberry sauce in them too.”

Spike waited for the festive babble to end before he pounced on his lover and kissed him fiercely.

“You’re gonna do all that? For me?”

Xander shrugged. “Of course. Well, I couldn’t afford a proper present and I know how much you love all this English stuff, and it was the least I could do. I just want to make you happy.”

Spike was happy, very happy. He almost couldn’t believe that this was all happening. It was like a beautiful dream.

Here he was, innocently trying to give Xander the best Christmas he’d ever had and just look what had happened. He’d accidentally given himself the best Christmas ever too.

“You have already made me happy, Xan, and you don’t need to go to all that trouble to make me happier. Just knowing that you would is enough.”

Xander blushed and looked at his feet. “Shouldn't I cook Christmas Dinner, then?”

“Oi! That wasn’t what I said!”

“Yes it was.”

“Okay, it was…but I still want the dinner.”

Xander smirked. “You have to wash up and maybe help me with the Yorkshire puddings. I’ve never been very good at making things rise.”

Spike quirked an eyebrow.

“Smutty vamp,” Xander said, hitting him lightly on the arm. “I meant making food rise. Aren’t Yorkshire puddings supposed to be all risen and crispy on top?”

“Naaah. I like ‘em soggy and flat. C’mon, then. Get your arse up that ladder and start cooking, boy. This mouth is watering and it’s either the Christmas dinner or you.”

“Okay, okay. I’m going. Last one up the ladder has to stuff the turkey!”

**

Xander groaned and twisted his head to lean on Spike’s shoulder. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt this full before.”

Spike gently patted Xander’s belly. “I told you not to have that third helping of apple crumble. You were warned.”

“Since when do I ever take any notice of warnings?”

“That’s a good point. Wouldn’t it be a good way to torture someone? Force feed them ‘til their stomach exploded.”

“Firstly. You’re not the first to think of it. That nutter did it in the film, Seven. Secondly, I can’t believe you’ve never actually tried it. And thirdly, could we put a cap on the force feeding thing, unless you want to see Christmas dinner in reverse?”

“Got it.”

“Thanks, Spike, for the best Christmas ever.”

“It ain’t over yet, pet,” Spike said, hearing the footsteps of an approaching surprise. “Wait there, luv.”

Xander looked confused as Spike shot to his feet and made a bee-line for the crypt door.

“Spike…?”

Spike yanked open the door and chatted quietly with someone on the other side.

“Spike, who is it?”

Spike turned and smiled. His plan had taken a fabulous twist, thanks to Joyce. He stepped out of the crypt and allowed all the visitors to enter, all but one.

Xander’s face lit up. His friends were here. Buffy, Willow, Giles, Tara and Dawn. They all piled in laden with presents, candies, and a good amount of Christmas booze.

“Hey, Xan.”

“Willow,” Xander breathed.

“I hope it's okay, us being here, I mean. Mrs Summers said you wouldn’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind, but…why? Why are you here? I didn’t know there was a get together planned.”

“There wasn’t,” Buffy said, “but…Mom pointed out that we hadn’t exactly been the most *attentive* friends recently.”

Xander shrugged but didn’t argue the point.

“We are most terribly sorry, Xander,” Giles said, “we were all so wrapped up in our own private lives and the slaying that we didn’t bother to see that one of our friends was, well, having a few problems. We are most truly sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

“No, no, I’m afraid it isn’t okay, Xander. We have been terrible friends. How can we make it up to you?”

“You’re making it up to me now, because you’re here. That’s all I want, to have my friends around me. I just sometimes need to know that you care.”

“We do care,” Willow said, taking Xander’s hands in hers. “We love you. We’re just really bad at showing it.”

“But that’s going to change from now on.”

Xander laughed at the determination on Buffy’s face.

“Thanks guys, it means so much that you’re here.”

Each person got an armful of emotional Xander. Giles in particular gave Xander a good squeeze, trying to convey his feelings for the boy in one great big hug. The watcher not only felt guilty that he had neglected Xander, but also that it had taken Joyce and Spike to point it out.

Joyce had phoned them all on Christmas Eve and invited them over, telling them that she had something urgent to tell them.
Once they had all arrived, Joyce had given them what for, ripping into each of them for their part in ignoring one of their best friends.
She had told them about how Xander had been evicted from his parents' house and told them all about Spike.

It seemed that Spike had done everything he could to help Xander.
He'd probably even saved his life. Giles shivered at the thought of all the ways that Xander could have met his untimely end while sleeping on the streets.

Spike had spoken to Joyce about his anger that Xander’s own friends didn’t seem to care enough to make sure he was okay over the holiday season. They all knew that Xander had a volatile relationship with his parents and had often even slept outside at Christmas just to avoid them. Yet, his friends had never seemed to care.

Joyce had particularly laid into Buffy. Apparently she knew that Xander had been kicked out, yet she had said nothing. This had earned her a near black eye from Dawn.

“Where’s Joyce?” Xander asked, suddenly concerned that she wasn’t there.

“I’m right here, sweetie.”

Joyce passed something to Spike outside the crypt and stepped inside.

“Spike has a surprise for you.”

“Another one!?”

“Two actually!” Spike shouted from outside the crypt.

“You have to close your eyes,” Joyce insisted.

“Huh? Why? What’s going on?”

Joyce laughed and covered Xander’s eyes for him, “Spike, honey, you can come in now,” she called.

Spike walked slowly through the crypt; he deliberately took his time, his mind imagining Xander’s reaction. He hoped it would be everything he thought it would be.

He stopped just two feet away from Xander.

“No looking yet, pet. Hold out your arms.”

“Spike? What is it?”

Spike answered by placing the Christmas present in his arms. Joyce took her hands away and Xander stared down at a wiggling bundle of fluff.

“A puppy? Y-you got me…?”

Xander burst into floods of tears.

“Pet? What’s wrong?”

Spike hugged his lover, mindful not to squash the little puppy that was licking the tears from Xander’s face.

“Nothing's wrong. It’s j-just that I-I…I…”

Fresh tears erupted and Spike pulled him onto couch, “Xan, baby? I didn’t mean to upset you. Was it too much? Is this all too much for you?”

Xander wiped at his eyes and turned to face Spike. He clung to the puppy, holding it gently and running his fingers through its long spikey fur.

“It’s just so overwhelming. All my life I got nothing, nothing I ever wanted, and not just at Christmas, ever. And suddenly…you give me everything. All I ever really wanted was someone to care about me, someone to know me and someone to listen to me. That’s you. You give me all that.”

“You’re worth giving it too.”

“I never thought I was.”

Xander lifted the puppy a little higher and rubbed his cheek over the soft furry head.

“I was so lonely, when I was a child. I had no-one. My only friends were Willow and Jesse, and I wasn’t even allowed to go and play with them half the time. That was why I wanted a puppy. I just wanted a friend that I could see every day, a friend that I could cuddle when it all got too much...a-and now I have that. I’ve got my puppy and…I’ve got my Spike. Thank you.”

“Course you’ve got me, always got me and I got you too.”

Spike felt Xander stroking his face and he realised that he was crying too. He didn’t care. He didn’t care that their friends were watching from beneath their lowered lashes. He didn’t care that his reputation as the Big Bad had been flushed well and truly away. All he cared about was this sweet boy that he held so tightly. Xander was happy. That was all that mattered.

“Actually, Xan, I did have one more surprise for you. But if it’s too much, I’ll understand.”

Xander shook his head, “I’m fine. Really. What’s the surprise? I can’t think that there is anything left for you to do for me. Did you buy me the batmobile? ‘Cos that would be cool.”

Spike laughed and took Xander’s hand, leading him out of the crypt. “Well, I was going to get you that for your birthday, but now you’ve gone and spoiled it.”

Spike called over his shoulder, “You lot coming?”

They all shrugged at each other and followed Spike and Xander out of the crypt.

“Everybody, I want you to meet Halfrek.”

There was stunned silence as everybody registered the demon.

“Halfrek is an old friend. She is also a vengeance demon.”

“A vengeance demon?” Xander asked. Clarification was definitely a must.

“That’s right, pet. A bloody good one too. Halfrek and I used to hang together back in the meat hook days.”

“Oh, that’s…nice.”

Spike smiled at his perturbed lover before turning to the demon.

“Halfrek, meet Xander, my better half.”

“Oh, it’s lovely to meet you, sweetheart. So you’re the one that’s got my old Big Bad all googly eyed.”

“Err, yeah?”

“How lovely. You make a fine couple. Very nice indeed. If at any time either of you wanted join in one of my org...”

Spike interrupted quickly.

“No, no, that’s fine. Shall we move on? Are we set?”

Xander was looking more confused by the second. Even the puppy was confused.

“Oh yes, all set. With reference to your earlier wish, yada, yada, yada. Done.”

Halfrek wiggled her hips and lifted one arm in the air in a grand gesture. With a small flash, she was gone.

Everybody waited, glancing around for any sign of a wish. It was Xander and his puppy that noticed it first.

One single snowflake floated down and settled on the puppy’s cold wet nose. Xander gasped and looked up at the sky just as a million snowflakes started to fall.

“Spike…”

“Surprise.”

“Spike, it’s…I can’t believe it. Guys, look.”

Xander turned around and watched Willow raise her hands into the air, waiting to catch the first flakes of snow. He turned back to Spike and kissed him.

“I can’t believe you made it snow for me.”

“I only make it snow for the one I love.”

“You love me?”

“Just said, didn’t I?”

“Say it again.”

“I love you, Xander. Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, Spike. I love you too.”



The End



Authors note: I do not condone giving pets as Christmas presents. A dog is not just for Christmas…If you are lucky, you will have enough left over for Boxing day! ~dodges more rotten fruit~ Hee! Merry Christmas everyone!!!!




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