When Giles goes away, Buffy is left babysitting Spike for an excruciatingly long weekend, just when her family comes to stay for the holidays...

I realize that the holidays have been over for, oh, about six months but I was in the mood--don't ask--the muse strikes me at the strangest times. Anyways, R&R! I appreciate it! Thanx! Just a few more things... after the Gentlemen came, Spike kept living with Giles. Riley decided he doesn't like the fact that Buffy could beat him up, so he's broken up with her and left Sunnydale....

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"Come on Buffy, Santa left you a present," Joyce held up a brightly wrapped package. Buffy ran over and grabbed it from her mother's hands.

She tore off the wrapping paper and tossed it aside. Inside was the most adorable stuffed pig, her stuffed pig. She squeezed it tightly to her chest.

"Buffy, what a cute pig!" Joyce laughed at her daughter's immediate attraction to the pink pig.

"I'll call him Mr. Gordo! My stuff-ed piggy!" Buffy squealed in delight.

"That's a good name for him Buffy, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy-."

The Slayer's eyes fluttered open. Joyce was standing above her, holding what looked like a skillet. Buffy rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

"Buffy, come on honey, wake up!" Joyce said, "I made pancakes, do you want some?"

"Sure," Buffy replied, pushing herself up and leaning against her pillows. Christmas break...too bad Slayer's didn't get holidays off...even the really good ones!

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"You get any sleep, sweetie?" Joyce asked as Buffy sat down at the island, her head resting in her hands. Her daughter simply looked up at her; that was enough of an answer for Joyce. The sleep thing--not big for the Slayer these days.

"Where's the syrup?" Buffy managed, giving the counter a once-over and finding no maple syrup-y goodness.

"In the pantry," Joyce replied. She sipped her coffee as she leaned against the sink counter. He regarded her daughter solemnly, her eyes sweeping over the tired form of Buffy.

"What?" Buffy looked up mid-pouring. Joyce shook her head.

"I didn't say anything," she replied, turning from Buffy and putting her cup in the sink.

"Yeah, so, I know you quite well, Mom. You're thinking something," Buffy finished soaking her pancakes before staring up at her mother again. Joyce turned back and took a seat opposite of her daughter.

"Well, actually--."

"Aha! I knew you were thinking about something!" Buffy exclaimed, pointing her syrup-covered fork at her mother.

"Yes, you caught me. Mr. Giles called. He asked a very interesting favor of me--of us," Joyce paused.

"Yeah? What kind of favor? Knowing Giles it could be anything! As long as I don't have to baby-sit Spike or anything, I--." Joyce looked away, and Buffy nearly screeched.

"Mom! You didn't!" Buffy leaped to her feet.

"It's only for a long weekend, Buffy, Mr. Giles is going back to England for the holidays to see his family. And Willow and Xander both won't be here. Spike has no place to stay. Besides, it'll only be us here this year and--I just thought we could help--."

"Mom! You're crazy! Spike and me, spending a weekend together! As in, can't avoid him!" Buffy collapsed back in her chair, "I can't believe you'd do this to me..."

"Oh, Buffy, stop being such a drama queen! He's a vampire, right? So he'll be in the basement mostly during the day. You won't even have to stay here! You can go Christmas shopping--or something."

"And leave you here alone with Spike? In his dreams!" Buffy was back on her feet and heading for the door, still in her pajamas.

"Where are you going?" Joyce called.

"To sort this out!" Buffy yelled back, grabbing her coat from the nearby chair. She threw it over her pjs and walked out into the morning sunlight. It wasn't far to Giles' flat, and she was very determined. Even if Slayers didn't get holidays from slaying, she definitely deserved a vacation from Spike!

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She threw the door open and suddenly realized her anger was nothing compared to that of the bleached menace standing before her. He, Giles and Xander were in a heated argument as Willow sat off to the side.

"I am not going to stay with her!" Spike yelled.

"For once I agree with him! I don't trust him around Buffy!" Xander agreed.

"Where do you propose he goes? We can't leave him on his own!" Giles' yelled back.

"I don't want to stay with the Slayer!" Spike voice was turning into a beg now. Buffy was just waiting for him to get down on his knees.

"Buffy is the only one capable of controlling you!" Giles said, he tone seemed to finish things.

But Spike kept on, "but--..."

"Hey," Buffy spoke up, finally making her presence known to the three men, "don't I get a say in this? It's my house he'll be crashing."

"Fine, Buffy, will you help me by looking after him for a long weekend?" Giles asked. Buffy opened her mouth. She was so willing to take Spike and make his life a living hell for a weekend but when she saw his face--that pleading face with those sorrow-filled blue eyes--she couldn't do it.

"There's no where else?" Buffy asked, her voice wasn't angry or upset, simply innocent.

"No," came Giles' reply. Buffy saw Spike visibly sag beside her. Part of her--the part she liked to keep well-hidden--felt bad for making the vamp feel so much like a relay flag--being passed to the next person in line-- but she couldn't help feeling equally bad for Giles. She knew her Watcher hadn't seen his family since he'd signed up for the Slayer-duty gig, probably longer.

"Yeah, he can stay with me," Buffy said. She suddenly felt a weight lay itself on her shoulders. So much for relax-o Buffy this weekend, what with Christmas only three days away. Now she's have to make sure the Chipped- Wonder stayed out of the way and no real, fatal harm came to him, though why she didn't know. Giles, Xander, even Willow probably, would much like to see Spike as dust swept off the porch, so why Buffy felt that he shouldn't be bodily harmed she couldn't put a finger on.

"I'll get my stuff," Spike said, he slowly marched out of the living and into the kitchen. He grabbed a couple of blood packets and returned to Buffy's side, "I'm ready."

Buffy glanced at him, her eyebrow arched, "right." Then she strode over to Giles and hugged him, wishing him happy trails to England. Next came Xander, who was heading to visit the rest of the Harris clan in South Dakota. And finally Willow who's family was taking a trip north to Oregon in search of--well, nothing, but gold was always a possibility.

"Come on, Spike, and get a blanket, we have a bit of a ways to walk--or run rather," Buffy ripped the door, causing Spike to scuttle away in fright of the beating sun already high in the Californian sky. She tossed a last goodbye to her friends before trudging out into the brightness, a covered Spike by her side.

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When they reached the house, Spike couldn't get in fast enough. The sight making Buffy giggle unceremoniously.

"Oh!" Joyce exclaimed as Spike came clambering in from the sun, throwing off the smoking blanket.

"Morning, Ms. Summers," Spike nodded to the women.

"Hello, Spike," Joyce replied, laughing at the politeness towards her.

"Well, it's a good thing I can at least the Summers women laugh!" Spike joked as a still-giggling Buffy came in behind him, closing the front door.

"Okay, it still creeps me out that you two are so friendly," Buffy said, eyeing her mother's jovial face.

"Aw, Buff, we just have an understanding," Spike said.

"Next time you call me 'Buff' and there'll a nice big pile of dust where you're standing," Buffy warned.

"Buffy," Joyce warned in a similar voice. Before the argument could really break out, the telephone rang, Joyce hurried off to get it, leaving Buffy and Spike alone. They eyed each for a moment, neither speaking, not wanting to break the silence first.

"So..." Spike started, Buffy breathed a sigh of relief, "where am I sleeping?"

"Um...you can stay in the room next to mine," Buffy replied, pointing up the stairs. Spike was taken aback. He'd assumed it'd be basement duty for him. Never had he thought she'd offer a normal room.

"No, he can't," Joyce said coming back. Her eyes were wide and she was staring straight ahead.

"Mom? Are you okay?" Buffy asked, slowly moving towards her mother.

"That was Joan--."

Spike glanced at Buffy, confused. She replied softly, "sister." Spike nodded in understanding.

"What's she say Mom?" Buffy asked, touching her mother's shoulder lightly.

"She invited the family to get together--here..." Joyce replied. Buffy's hand retracted suddenly.

"The whole family? As in Aunt Judy too?" Buffy asked, her voice sounded very panicked.

"And your grandparents, and-...your father," Joyce finished. Buffy's breath hitched in her chest.

"Dad?" she managed.

"Yup. Judy is coming tonight and Joan and the grandparents are arriving tomorrow." Joyce's eyes were still wide, and now Buffy's were starting to mimic her mother's. Spike didn't know what to do. Not to mention, having the entire Slayer family was so not part of his plan, course, from the way they were acting, it wasn't in either Summers girl's plans.

"But where the heck are they gonna stay? We only have three bedrooms, one of them is really storage and, well, we could clean up the office and let the kids sleep there, but--what about Spike?" Buffy glanced at her vamp-y companion, "where's he going to stay?"

"Guess I will be in the basement," Spike answered, heading towards the door. Buffy was there in a flash, before his hand was even on the handle.

"We'll figure something out," she assured him.

Joyce seemed to have come out of her trance, "we'll try, but I'm afraid Spike may be spending his tenure here in the confines of the basement."

The look Buffy gave him was so pitiful in it's apologetic-ness that Spike felt like whatever was left of his heart was going to break through his chest. She really did seem sorry for making him sleep in the basement.

"I've had worse, pet. This is ten times better than any bathtub," he said moving her aside.

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Three hours later, after Buffy had run through all the possible horrific endings to this particular tale in her life, she waited, Spike at her side, on the couch. The family--the first wave anyway--would be arriving soon. And Mom had wanted her and Spike to be there for the introduction part of the gig.

They'd come up with a story: Spike was attending UC Sunnydale with Buffy and had needed a place to stay for winter break since he couldn't very well head back to England, the Summers' had offered him a room. He'd be spending his time in the basement studying, so they shouldn't bother him there. He also had very, very, very sensitive skin, and couldn't go in the sunlight without burning up!

Literally, Buffy thought, bringing a smile to her lips. Still, she wanted Spike to die in a never-ending battle with her, not because her family was careless and opened the door too wide.

Her mother was pacing. She checked the windows four times--on the fifth Spike had pulled her away, trying to calm her nerves. Buffy could be thankful for that. He knew how to relax her mother, for the time being, since now--along with pacing--she'd been checking her hair in the mirror in the hall every few minutes.

"Uh, Mom," Buffy got to her feet, Spike close behind. She stopped her mother from moving the one stupid curl for they three thousandth time. Joyce sighed, Buffy was right. She glanced one last time in the mirror before turning around and shrieking. She hadn't realized Spike was behind be cause of his reflection--or lack thereof-- and she she'd turned thinking he was still sitting on the couch.

"Maybe we should move this," Joyce took the mirror off the wall and tucked it in the nearby closet. As she stood the doorbell rang. It might as well have sounded like the death march played at funerals, since that's what each of the three heard.

"If we don't answer it, will they go away?" Buffy asked. Spike looked at her, considering the idea.

"Don't be silly, Buffy," Joyce said, her faux holiday cheer already in place, as she pulled the door open with a bit too much force. Buffy, herself, plastered a smile on her face.

"Joyce!" Aunt Judy squealed when she saw her sister. Judy was the fun one, much better than Joan. Too bad Erin was Joan's daughter. Erin was Buffy's favorite cousin, even though she was only five. Judy had three little girls, basking in their terrible two-years even though they were almost four.

"Judy!" Joyce replied, she opened her arms for a hug from her sister. Judy pushed the family inside, pulling Joyce to the side for more hugs and kisses and...God, it's a freaking Hallmark card! Buffy thought as she was pulled into a hug from her aunt.

"Buffy, you've grown so much! And in college! I can't believe it!" Judy exclaimed. Buffy nodded.

"Oh! And who is this adorable man?" Judy asked, her attention turned to the vampire.

"That's Spike. He's staying with us this weekend. The dorm was shut down due to fumigation," Buffy lied. Okay, so not the best excuse, but that was the only part of their story that they hadn't figured out: why Spike couldn't have just stayed on campus for break.

"Well, welcome to the family!" Judy hugged him. Buffy could tell already he was sick of the familiar sentiments, "I think introductions are in order! Girls!" the three tots lined up in a row, "the first one's Jackie, then Sarah and then Cecelia." Judy pointed to each one of them as she said their names. Spike nodded.

"Argh!" Buffy and Spike turned to the door, thankful for the distraction. A man was carrying five suitcases over the threshold and seemed to be having a bit of trouble with it. Immediately, Buffy hurried forward to help her uncle with the bags. Spike tried to grab one from him but he was still standing in enough sunlight that Spike's good intentions would end in a berating of the two Summers women and Spike on the wrong end of a pointy stake.

Seeing his anger due to his own helplessness, Buffy tossed him a suitcase. At least he wouldn't bitch about her being able to do all the work and escape the inquiry that would result for his very presence in the Summers home. Why would a young man--at least young-looking 'cause only God--and Buffy-- knew how old he really was--be staying at some fellow students house?

Captain Cardboard had most likely stayed her sometime--or rather would have had he not been too afraid of the Slayer to actually stay with her. The only plausible explanation for this, Spike realized, --which Buffy's family would probably assume--would be that they were dating. Not good! Especially for him--and not only because thinking of dating the Slayer was awfully wrong on it's own--but Buffy would get mad and then let out all her frustration on him.

"Spike! We're taking these up to my room," Buffy announced, starting up the stairs. Spike followed, immensely glad to be away from Buffy's uncle's scrutinizing eyes.

"Oh. My. God." Buffy flopped onto her bed, dropping the suitcases on floor with a thud.

"The fun's just started, pet," Spike drawled, taking a seat beside her.

"Yeah, tell me about it. Wait till my Dad meets you. He's gonna flip," Buffy pushed herself onto to her elbows.

"At least you'll find something to piss him off extraordinarily," Spike suggested.

"And what would that something be?" Buffy teased, though she knew he could only mean one thing.

"The slaying."

And she'd been wrong yet again. Okay, so, yeah, the slaying would piss him off but she'd expected Spike to call upon himself for that honor. She immediately pulled away from him slightly. Picking up the dropped suitcases and placing them gently on the bed beside Spike.

"I'm going down stairs. You're gonna come?"

It was more of a request than question. She was begging him to help her deal with this family and he knew it. So did she. She left him to stew in his own juices. He'd been thinking of saying himself. He'd been intending to, but when Buffy started playing along, he couldn't do it. Not without the innuendo that would most likely accompany a good staking, so, he'd shut himself up before either could occur.

Getting off his ass, he headed back into the mayhem that was the Summers' residence. Buffy was going to have a hell of a time explaining him to her father...that part was certain...