Looking good hot stuff." Lorne adjusted his Santa hat and the mistletoe in his lapel; with one last look in the mirror he headed out front. It was the annual Caritas Holiday/Solstice celebration.

 He'd laid in copious amounts of Wassail and mulled wine, (one bowl mixed with blood and one without), along with the usual eggnog and hard liquor. There was a free buffet with various goodies: stuffed olives, melon wrapped prosciutto, baby dills, etc., and those little Vienna franks that the vampire contingent just adored. He was humming a little Perry Como tune to himself when he got the first inkling not all was right with his world. He sidled up the bar. Rogezio, his new barman was setting up glasses and keeping one eye on the dark haired woman sitting alone at a table near the door.

"How long has she been here?" Lorne asked while stirring the Seabreeze the bartender handed him. He watched in interest as the woman turned a large glass snowball with an old-fashioned Victorian house inside, around and around in her hands.

"Just came in about ten minutes ago." He said, "She sat down, ordered some tea for her doll, just as polite as can be; didn't want anything herself. She just keeps playing with that snowball."

"Be a dear and hand me the phone would you?" Lorne smiled at the young man and dialled. "Angel, sweet cheeks, I'm standing here at the bar and you'll never guess who's here - that delightfully ethereal daughter of yours." Lorne raised one eyebrow as Drusilla closed her eyes and turned the snowball upside down; glittering silver white flakes swirled in a miniature snowstorm almost obscuring the house inside from view. The Host just caught the words "I

"Oh my. Angel, you might want to hurry."

* * * * * * * *

"Look Fangless, I'm not going to say this again, shut up!" snapped Xander. "I can't believe I got stuck with you again!" Xander huddled deeper into his sheepskin jacket. He was spending Christmas Eve being taunted by the world's most annoying vampire, on what had to be
the coldest night of the century and he was miserable.

They were checking out the cemetery for any activity because Giles thought he'd found a prophecy about some demon cult that was going to try to open the Hellmouth tonight. So the gang had dutifully split up to search for signs of the nameless cult. The sad part was that
none of them had to cancel other plans to do it. And the really sad part; it was still more pleasant then the Christmas's of his childhood.

Spike smirked, "What's the matter whelp, can't stand to hear the truth; you proposed to Demon girl and she took a runner. She couldn't even face you, had to do it in a pathetic 'Dear John' letter." Spike laughed cruelly, stopping to light his cigarette. "Merry Bloody Christmas, eh pet?"

"That's it!" Xander whirled around knocking the vampire's lighter out of his hand and grabbing him by the coat lapel. "At least my girl didn't cheat on me with something that drips slime; slime Spike! Your Looney lady preferred something that oozed to you." Xander pulled the snarling vampire up close, " Which one of us is more pathetic?"

"Dru loved me!" Spike growled, wincing as he tried to disengage Xander's hand without setting off his chip.

"Well Anya cared about me too, she just couldn't take the Hellmouth anymore!" Xander snapped, shoving Spike away.

Spike grumbled as he bent down to look for his lighter. Xander rubbed his hands briskly, blowing into them, trying to get warm. It felt like the temperature had dropped ten degrees in the time they'd been arguing. Something white fluttered past his face, quickly followed by more fluttering, snowflakes?

Spike straightened, having found his lighter and trying to get the bloody thing to work in the cold. Oh hell! He was just going to have to use his matches; then he noticed the snow.

"Well this is just peachy! I'm going back to the Watcher's place." Spike snapped. "I'm not blundering around out here, freezing my arse off, looking for crazed Christmas demons!"

The snow was coming down rapidly now and a brisk wind had started to blow. Xander pulled his collar up and raised his voice. "I hate to say it but you're right. We're not going to be able to see our hands in front of our faces in a minute." The snow was already starting to mound and drift against the tombstones. Xander and Spike dropped their heads and started trudging back towards the entrance to the cemetery.

Xander cursed as he stumbled over a gravestone and bumped into the vampire. "Damnit, Spike, I can't see a thing. Are we even going in the right direction?"

"How the Hell would I know; vampiric vision doesn't exactly help in a snowstorm." The vampire groused. He squinted, just making out a hazy light ahead of them. "This way, whelp, I think I see the street light." Spike reached back and grabbed hold of Xander's sleeve, tugging him forward toward the halo of light. Xander let himself be led. The tips of his ears were numb and his cheeks felt raw with cold. He hoped they made it soon or he was heading for a case of frostbite.

As they trudged forward, Spike started to feel a little strange, giddy almost, definitely excited but in a bouncy sort of way, like he was waiting for a surprise.

Xander felt funny. At first he thought it was the cold wind working its way inside his coat; it was a kind of shivery feeling, a pleasant feeling of expectation.

* * * * * * * *

Angel slid into the seat across from his wayward childe. Dru was humming 'Greensleeves' under her breath and watching the swirling snow in the crystal. She looked up as Angel sat down and smiled at him gently. "Hello my Angel."

"Hello, Dru." Angel said quietly. "What do you have there?" He gestured to the snowball.

"Isn't it lovely? The pretty lady with the forever eyes gave it to me." Dru glanced back at the crystal. "She said I could make a wish, but only one and it had to be for someone else; someone I loved." She looked up at Angel. "I thought about making a wish for you my Angel but it's Christmas, and Christmas is for children." Dru stared off across the club, rocking slowly. "All my little ones whither and die." She focused again on Angel. "All but my Spike. He's been a bad dog but mommies love their children, even when they're bad. Do daddies love their children too, even when they're bad?" She asked forlornly.

"Yes Dru, many of them do. I do." Angel said softly, taking her hand. "What kind of a wish did you make?"

She gave a secretive smile, "Just a little one for my little one, so that he could be happy and have prezzies and a friend to spend the time with." She sighed and held out the crystal, "Look and see my Angel."

* * * * * * *

Spike ran into the door with a surprised grunt. He must have bumped into a crypt by mistake. He fumbled blindly for the latch. The door swung open more easily then expected and he fell forward in a graceless heap, the boy landing on top of him. Spike cursed and thrashed trying to turn over but he seemed to be awash in clothing. He felt Xander roll off his back and
heard muffled grunts coming from the brunette. With a final yank, he freed his head and sat up, and tried to get his bearings. The sheepskin jacket across from him convulsed and Spike's eyes widened as a brown haired, mop-headed boy of about six sat up blinking owlishly.

"Oi, who are you?" Spike asked and then frowned. His voice didn't sound deep enough and did he just lisp?

"Spike, is that you?" the little boy asked. He reached out a tentative hand and poked the vampire on the arm. "You're just a baby and you're hair's all curly," he giggled.

Spike looked own at his little hands in horror, then he touched his head and did indeed encounter an abundance of curls. He tugged one down within eyesight; oh no, his hair was back to its original honey blond color; that meant he looked like a nonce. Then the rest of Xander's sentence sunk in; "Oi, you, I'm not a baby!" he snarled, vamping out or trying to,
judging by Xander's reaction, he was less then successful.

Xander giggled louder, "What are you trying to do? You're face is all scrunched up and it's getting splotchy. You look silly." The little boy finished with the loftiness of the very young.

Spike brought his hands up to his face, no ridges, nothing. He felt his lower lip begin to tremble. Xander was laughing at him and he couldn't even shift to game face. And, he'd heard puppies snarl with more conviction. He sniffed.

Xander stopped laughing and with quick sympathy, scooted close, patting Spike's hand gently. "I'm sorry. You don't look silly. I was just being mean." Xander looked him over critically. "Open your mouth."

"Why?" pouted Spike.

"Because I think you've still got fangs. Can you feel anything?" Xander watched Spike open his mouth wide and run his tongue over his upper teeth. "You do!" Xander exclaimed, "But only two on the top, just like those old fashioned horror movies."

"But no 'grrr' face," Spike finished dejectedly.

"Maybe you just need to concentrate more. Go ahead, try again." Xander encouraged.

Spike took a deep, unneeded breath and scrunched up his face really hard for about a minute and then relaxed. "Anything?" he asked hopefully.

Privately Xander thought that the only change was that Spike looked a little more flushed but he smiled and said, "I think your fangs are a little sharper." Spike sighed but nodded his head.

Xander looked around. They were sitting in the entry hall to a large house. The chandelier was lit and the whole house felt warm and inviting. He peered down inside his now oversized jacket trying slip it off. He looked up at the vampire suspiciously. "Where are we Spike?"

"I don't know, do I." The little vamp answered "I wouldn't even be in this mess if it weren't for you lot. I'd be at home in my nice warm crypt." He huffed, arranging his too big t-shirt around himself. Stupid Scoobies, one of the witches probably did some spell or something and sucked them into an alternate dimension.

Xander having slipped out of his jacket now shifted his sweater and started rolling up the sleeves. Stupid baby vampire; he probably led them into some sort of alternate dimension or something by following that light.

Xander and Spike stood up. Spike's t-shirt was dragging on the floor while Xander's sweater was around his ankles. Xander was the taller of the two by an inch. He was also lankier. Spike resembled nothing so much as a cherub with stubby fangs.

"We should see if there's anyone here and try to find some clothes or something to wear." Xander said while trying to keep his folded sleeves from falling down his arms.

"Here now, who says I have to do what you say?" Spike grumped. "I'm older." He declared. The vampire having to hold his t-shirt hem up to keep from tripping over it ruined the effect of outrage.

Xander stepped forward, "Because I'm bigger," he said using age-old logic. "Now c'mon." Xander turned and led the way. Spike grumbled and cursed under his breath until Xander turned and glared at him. "No cussing!" he snapped. As soon as he turned his back Spike stuck his tongue out at him, but followed reluctantly.

They came to a pair of double doors. Spike and Xander both put their ears against the door. When they didn't hear anything inside they cautiously pushed the doors open and then stood in the doorway in awe: inside the room was a Christmas dream come true. There was a merrily blazing fire in a fireplace. The mantle was decorated with holly, evergreens and pinecones; two stockings stuffed to overflowing hung at each corner. There was a giant tree ablaze with lights made to look like miniature candles. Sugar cookies, paper chains, popcorn strings and ornaments dotted every branch of the tree and on the very top; a star of exceptional beauty seemed to shine with its own internal light.

Underneath the tree were numerous gaily-wrapped packages of various sizes and shapes and winding its way among those packages was train, track and town. And laid out neatly on a chair by the fire were two sets of children's clothing, just waiting to be worn.

Spike recognized many of the furnishings and decorations from childhood Christmases of long ago. He went to move into the room but Xander put out his arm.

"No Spike," he whispered. "What if this is like a Hansel and Gretel situation? Maybe there's a bad witch somewhere and as soon as we step into the room, she'll grab us right up."

Spike scented the air and peeked carefully inside the room, "I don't think so mate. It feels all right to me; don't it feel okay to you too?" Spike looked up at the bigger boy expectantly. Xander wrinkled his nose in thought.

"Well we do need something to wear. You wait here and I'll run in and grab the clothes and come right back. If nothing happens to me then we'll go in and poke around."

"Oi, just because you're bigger doesn't mean you get to make all the decisions. I'm faster, you're just a human." Spike said haughtily.

Xander narrowed his eyes at the blonde and then smiled smugly. "I'm not just bigger, I bet I'm older then you now too. You're just a baby, so that means you have to do what I say."

Spike frowned dangerously then lowered his head and rammed Xander right in the stomach. Both boys went down in a tangle of limbs. Spike might have been smaller but he was feisty and it took Xander a good two minutes before he was able to roll the vampire to his stomach and sit on him. "Say uncle!" yelled Xander. "Say it or I'm not letting you up and no

Spike let loose with a howl and staged a truly impressive tantrum but Xander kept his balance with grim intensity until the blonde finally exhausted himself. "I hate you!" wailed the vampire. "Uncle, you bleedin nonce, now let me up!"

Xander scrambled off the younger boy and watched him use his t-shirt as a large handkerchief. Spike rubbed his nose and stared at the brunette defiantly.

"Did you mean what you said?" asked Xander softly. "Do you hate me?"

"Yes, now go get the clothes and I hope there is a witch in there and she eats you." Spike said

Xander's soft brown eyes looked wounded and Spike swallowed an unfamiliar feeling of guilt. Xander turned dejectedly toward the room but as he stepped through the doorway, Spike was right beside him. Xander glanced at him out of the corners of his eyes.

"If she eats you I won't get me clothes now will I?" the vampire said.

Xander smiled widely. "Hey Spike!" Xander said suddenly, "Your chip didn't go off when you threw your tantrum."

"I did not throw a tantrum." Spike lisped. "I'm a Master Vampire, we don't throw tantrums." Xander looked sceptical.

"But you're right, it didn't, neat!" Spike crowed. "That means I can eat you if I get hungry."

"Do you want to eat me?" Xander asked a little worriedly.

Spike looked the taller boy up and down. "Nope, not right now. I'll let you know." Spike gave him a fang gaped smile.

"Thanks," Xander said. They reached the chair and Xander reached out a finger to touch the clothes before quickly pulling it back. Then Spike reached out hand and ruffled the clothing. Nothing happened; the boys shared a look, grabbed the clothes and dashed back out of the room. They peaked around the doorway. The room remained unchanged and the clothes hadn't tried to eat them. Shrugging their shoulders they quickly got dressed. The clothes consisted of underwear, warm pants and shirts, woolly socks and sturdy boots. Everything fit perfectly.

"Want to try again?" asked Xander. Spike nodded. They walked over to the tree and Spike started examining the stockings while Xander was drawn to the train set. He'd always wanted one when he was little. It was one of a long list of Christmas presents he never received from his parents.

He found the switch box for the train set and flicked one on and with a 'toot toot' the train began to move around the track. Xander's eyes lit up as he flipped various switches and buttons causing the lights of the town to turn on and different crossing arms to go up and down. Upon further exploration he found several types of 'cargo' in the form of marbles, rocks and such to load on the train. He was busy loading some sand in the back container when he noticed a little box with his name on it. He carefully picked it up, shook it and then opened it. Inside was a stripped engineer's cap, just his size. With a joyful squeak, he set it on his head.

Meanwhile Spike found that the socks were carefully embroidered with his and Xander's names. He had to stand on an ottoman to do it, but he managed to
manoeuvre his stocking safely to the ground. He dumped it upside down and out rolled apples and oranges and nuts along with several traditional Christmas Crackers. He whooped and clapped his hands. He hadn't pulled any of these open since he was a child and his parents had still been alive. When they had perished in a coach accident he and his little sister had been sent to live with two stern, unmarried great aunts. They hadn't held with frivolity as they called it so there had been no more Happy Christmas celebrations.

Spike took hold of the cracker and pulled. There was a bang and the cracker broke open and out spilled candy and cookies, a wooden puzzle, a ship, a small book on pirates and a silver key. Spike picked the key up turning it around in his hands, wondering what it was for before popping it into his pocket and reaching for the next cracker.

Xander played with the train and then setting it on automatic crawled forward to check out the rest of the presents. All the boxes were either addressed to himself or Spike. He glanced to where the vampire was waging a naval battle with several sailing ships, one of which was flying the Jolly Rodger.

"Hey Spike, do you want to open more presents?" Xander asked hopefully, motioning to the boxes.

"Sure mate." Spike said, crawling over to Xander, being careful of the train set. Xander had never seen the vampire look so relaxed and carefree. There was no sneer on his face or frustrated look in his eyes. He just looked like any other kid on Christmas morning, well except for the fangs.

Xander handed the blonde a box and picked himself out one. Spike tore his open with abandonment and then gave a cry of delight; inside was an entire set of brightly painted toy soldiers complete with cannon.

Xander opened his box more carefully. His mouth dropped open and then he grinned. "Score!" he yelped, pulling out a complete junior magician kit. There was a top hat, cape, wand, scarf, cards, magic handcuffs and a complete instruction booklet guaranteed to have
him performing magic within the hour. He carefully replaced his engineer's cap with the top hat and eagerly started flipping through the book.

Spike reverently set aside his soldiers and then found another box. He laughed as he revealed a little red drum and drumsticks. He started to sing the "Little Drummer Boy" with percussion accompaniment. Xander looked up and clapped in time. Spike didn't know anything except the first verse and apparently neither did Xander but they enjoyed themselves. Spike helped
Xander take down his stocking and explained about Christmas crackers; then they finished opening the rest of the presents. Every gift was something both boys had wanted and never received when they'd been little. There were only two gifts left in the back. One was a long rectangular box and the other a rather large square box. Both boxes had both boys' names on

They carefully dragged the rectangle out first. Inside was a bright red sled. The boys shared a look of rapture.

"Wow, she's beautiful!" Xander breathed in awe.

"I bet we can go about a hundred miles an hour on it." Spike added smoothing his hands over the runners. Spike ran over to the window, standing on tiptoe to peer outside. The full moon shone so brightly it could almost be daylight. Behind the house, Spike could see
the perfect sledding hill. "Mate, we've got to try it out." Spike turned to Xander with a pleading look on his face.

Xander's eye's shone with excitement. "You bet, let's see what's in the last box then we'll go outside and play."

Spike ran over and reached for the lid to the last present. He sniffed, hesitated, and then sniffed again. Xander raised his eyebrows in question. Spike raised the lid and looked inside and gasped. Xander stared over his shoulder. Inside was a beautiful little border collie. It was curled up and napping but when they lifted the lid off completely it opened one
eye and yawned looking up at the boys intelligently. It looked to be about six months old and after waking up, hopped out of the box and shook itself. Xander reached his hand forward and the dog gave him a lick then stepped over to Spike and did the same thing. The collie had a collar and Spike reached forward to read the tag. The name 'May' was engraved in script on the little gold tag.

"Hey, she has one brown eye and one blue," Xander noticed with a giggle. "That means she definitely must be ours."

Spike gently scratched behind the dog's ears. "I've always wanted a dog."

"Me too. My parents said pets were a pain in the neck." Xander patted the puppy.

"My aunts said they were dirty." Spike said softly. The boys shared a commiserating look. "C'mon, let's go play!" May jumped up in agreement and the little group ran to the door. Not surprisingly, there were coats, scarves, hats and mittens waiting by the door. There was even a half coat for May.

They dragged their sled outside and headed for the hill. The trio stood at the top of the slope
contemplating the plunge. It looked much steeper then it had appeared from the house. The boys sat on the sled, adjusting their mittens and scarves in preparation.

"Ready mate?" asked Spike. He was sitting in front because he'd won the coin toss. "Ready," Xander answered giving his best push. May barked worriedly and they were off. They flew down the hill, screaming all the way, hitting a bump and wiping out
spectacularly. Xander raised his head in a daze. Spike was flattened into the side of a snow bank.

"You okay Spike?" Xander asked. The vampire raised his snow-covered head and blinked. "Cor, that was great." The blonde enthused.

"We nearly died." Xander said dryly, brushing himself off.

"Yeah. Want to go again?" Spike grinned.

"You bet!" Xander agreed with a big smile.

They made the trip up and down the hill at least five more times before they were both too tired and cold to continue. They trudged happily back to the house where they found hot chocolate with the little marshmallows waiting for them. They sat in front of the fire, getting warm, sipping cocoa and eating cookies from the tree.

Spike told Xander about the Christmases he'd celebrated when his parents had been alive. The plum pudding they began five Sundays before Christmas and how they would each take a turn stirring the bowl and making a wish. The Family Stirabout, it was called. Then on Christmas Day the pudding was boiled, then covered in brandy and lit and served garnished with a sprig of holly.

"When I was little, Christmas lasted until January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany." Spike smiled fondly. "When me mum and dad was alive our house was open to everyone for all twelve days of Christmas. There was a Wassail bowl and carollers." Spike trailed off sadly.

Xander hugged the younger boy and May put her head on his lap. "My mom and dad are alive and I never had anything like that. You have some happy memories, at least." Spike nodded. "Hey," Xander asked brightly, "want to see some magic?" Spike raised an eyebrow.
"You know what I mean." Xander giggled, jumping up to retrieve his top hat and cape.

"Okay, now pick a card, any card." Xander offered the deck with a flourish. Spike laughed and Xander proceeded to perform several tricks. Spike clapped enthusiastically until they got
to the magic handcuffs. Xander got them on the vampire fine but then they got stuck. They might have stayed on permanently if Spike hadn't remembered the little key in his pocket. Spike had grumbled but was amazingly patient. He explained that it wasn't the first time he'd been stuck in handcuffs. Xander's eyes had gotten very big but he'd refused to ask any
further questions.

The fire was starting to burn down and Xander's head was beginning to nod and Spike was already asleep. May got up and tugged on Xander's sleeve. Xander woke up enough to help the sleepy vampire stand up then the two little boys followed the puppy into a bedroom with
a cheery fire burning in the grate. There was a large feather bed that took up half the room.

Two sets of pyjamas were laid out on the bed. Xander got undressed and then slipped into his pj's. He then helped Spike get into his pyjamas as well. The little vampire was only half awake throughout the entire procedure. They both crawled into bed and May jumped up on the bed, turning around three times before settling in for the night. As Xander was on the edge of sleep, he felt a kiss brush across his forehead and heard a whispered "Sweet Dreams".

* * * * * * * * *

"Did I make a good wish?" Dru stared at the dark haired vampire anxiously.

Angel gazed into the crystal at the peacefully sleeping boys. He reached across and placed a kiss on his childe's forehead. "Yes Princess, you made a wonderful wish." He stood up gracefully as Lorne came over and slipped a glass of mulled bloodwine in front of the vampiress.

"Have a Happy Christmas Dru."

She gave him an innocent smile. "Happy Christmas my Angel." She said and again began to hum 'Greensleeves' to herself.

* * * * * *

Xander awoke fully rested for the first time in months. He opened his eyes slowly and found himself staring into the sleeping features of a fully-grown Spike. The second thing he noticed was that he was in his own bed and no longer wearing pyjamas. He stretched and bumped his feet into a warm mass. He glanced down the bed to see a furry puppy fast asleep. He grinned; this was starting out to be a great day. He looked back to find a now fully awake vampire staring at him with deep blue eyes. He noted with interest that Spike too, was no longer wearing pyjamas.

Spike glanced up at the headboard. Xander followed his gaze and saw a strategically placed sprig of mistletoe. Spike gave him a cocky grin and waggled his eyebrows. Xander bent forward and gave the blonde a sweet kiss. "Merry Christmas Spike."

"Merry Christmas, luv."

The End