Disclaimer: I tried to file a patent; it didn't work. Joss beat me to it.
Note: Part of the 2003 Slash Advent Calendar - Dec. 12th
"What about here?"
"A little more to the right. No, little more. Liiiitle more. There!"
Buffy and Dawn stepped back, gazing proudly at the wreath that now hung cheerfully over the door.
"Oh! We still have to hang up the mistletoe!"
Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Do we have to?" she whined playfully. "They're bad enough without the encouragement!"
Dawn sighed dreamily. "Yeah." With a smile, she quickly began to hang sprigs and bunches of mistletoe all over the apartment.
"Dawn? Dawnie! No mistletoe in the bathroom!"
Willow and Tara glanced up as Dawn raced past with an armful of mistletoe. Seeing Buffy chasing her frantically, they looked at each other and giggled, then went back to stringing cranberries.
"What time is it," Willow asked her girlfriend.
Tara glanced at the clock on the opposite wall. "Just before 6:00," she answered. "Ow!" She dropped the needle she was using to thread the berries and examined her finger. A droplet of blood welled up, and she stuck her finger in her mouth to soothe away the hurt.
"Let me." Willow reached out and took her hand, pressing a soft kiss to the injured digit. "There, all better," she grinned.
Blushing softly, Tara leaned over and pecked her on the cheek. "You always make me all better." Her lips met Willow's in a loving kiss.
"Is this sort of thing catching? I mean, we don't even have mistletoe out here yet!" Buffy stood before them, hands on hips as she admonished them with a bright smile. "Back to the cranberries, I say!"
Willow rolled her eyes and once more resumed stringing cranberries, but not before sending Tara a heat-filled look that promised further exploration later.
The doorbell sounded, and Dawn emerged from the hallway. "I'll get it!" She raced towards the door and pulled it open. "Giles! Are those presents? Did you bring mine? Which one is it?"
"Dawn," Giles grunted as the teen stood in his way, barring entrance. "If you would be so kind as to move, I could bring these in."
"Oh, right. Tree's in here! Unload and have something to drink. Want any mistletoe?"
"God forbid," he muttered, dreading the thought of what Spike and Xander were bound to do upon discovering the bunches of mistletoe that were scattered liberally throughout the house.
Dawn glanced at the clock. "Buffy! It's after 6:00! Do you think they forgot? Maybe we should call."
"No thanks." Buffy shuddered. "They're probably doing the nasty; I get threatened when interrupting that. It's...scary. I didn't know anyone could actually do that to someone else."
Dawn giggled. "Spike wouldn't really do anything he threatens," she assured her sister.
Buffy snorted. "Spike? Who said anything about Spike? It's Xander who scares me!"
The doorbell rang again, and Dawn squealed. "They're here!" Again she rushed to the door, almost yanking Spike and Xander inside once she'd opened it. "Wait until you see my decorations! Tree's over there, cough up the presents."
Xander blinked and watched her dart away. "Um, Buffy? How much sugar has she had today?"
"Too much," was the grumbled response. "I'm about to go knock over a drug store for some sedatives."
While Xander laughed, Spike took the presents from him and placed them under the tree. He also handed over a jug of his own patented form of eggnog. "Er, better not let the bit have any of that," he instructed Buffy, who took the jug with a roll of her eyes.
Spike gave her an unrepentant grin. He then took a quick look around the room, and with a wicked smile grabbed Xander. "Stand right here, pet."
"Why--oh." Xander grinned at the large ball of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling, then pulled Spike closer. "Just for the sake of tradition, you understand."
"Right." Spike captured his lips and began to nibble lightly, tongue pressing in as he kissed Xander more deeply.
Giles and the girls watched in awe as the kiss went on. And on. And...on.
"Um, guys? Hello? Hungry people here, the food is going to spoil if you keep this up much longer." Buffy tapped Spike on the shoulder. "We have fresh blood. And ew, I can't believe I just said that."
Spike finally released his lover, keeping hold of him as Xander's legs buckled slightly.
"My camera!" Dawn shrieked. "Wait, I missed it, do it again!"
"I'm sure there will be further opportunities before the night is over," Giles stated firmly as he placed a hand on Xander's shoulder and steered him towards the dining room. "If we might eat before being forced to witness any more displays?"
Dawn clapped. "Food! Hey, guess what I made? Sugarplum pudding!"
Dinner was eaten. Presents had been exchanged and torn open amid shouts of delight. Now, the group sprawled in front of a warm fire and simply relaxed.
"I think this has been our best Christmas ever," Willow said softly. "All of us together, happy, surrounded by the people we love." She squeezed Tara's hand.
"You lot aren't going to go getting mushy, are you? There are us manly types here, you know."
"I dunno, Spike. I like making you mushy." Xander batted his eyelashes comically.
"Xander!" Buffy gasped out, then snickered. "Did not need that mental image!"
"I did!" Dawn chirped.
Xander leaned down and kissed Spike on the nose. "Lemme up. I gotta use the bathroom."
Spike lifted his head from Xander's lap. "Hurry back, luv."
Xander nodded and left the room.
The rest of the group lounged in comfortable silence. If wasn't often they got to simply spend quiet time together, and each of them cherished this moment.
A few minutes later, Xander returned. "Um, Spike? Can you come here?"
With a questioning look, Spike stood. "What is it, Xan?"
"I have to show you something. In...the bathroom." He flushed, then pulled Spike from the room.
A few minutes later, several muffled thumps were heard from the bathroom. Buffy lifted her head and frowned. "I wonder what--Dawn! I said no mistletoe in the bathroom!"
End of Holiday Cheer series.