TITLE: Christmas With Bill Harker
AUTHOR: Matt, December 2004
SUMMARY: It's Christmas Eve and Buffy has a visitor – set approx. 10 years after BTVS's Chosen, 8 after ATS's Not Fade Away
DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Mutant Enemy's, but while the tale is mine I make no money from it.
NOTE: I've had this idea in my head for a while. Finally, I've decided to put it into words. It's not been beta'd, so any constructive criticism is welcome (although blatant flames are not).

Buffy pulled the door closed behind her and hastened down the path to the sidewalk. A swift glance at her watch told her she was in good time, which at least meant Dawn wouldn't glare at her this year and then say later that she'd thought her older sister wouldn't show up. But once a Slayer always a Slayer, and when that vampire had come out of nowhere last year, she'd had no choice but to show it her pointy stick and then display exactly what she could do with it.

If there was any hope that she'd avoid any of the undead this year, it disappeared as she caught sight of the figure skulking at the bottom of her path. Although it was a figure she'd not seen in a number of years, she still recognised it instantly. It was hard not to. Despite the obvious change in hairstyle, the coat and the cigarette gave her the biggest clues.

"Spike!" she exclaimed in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

The cigarette was thrown to the ground where a booted foot stamped it out. "I'm back," he said dramatically, flinging his arms out wide.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Obviously. I'm just amazed you managed to stay away for so long."

The arms dropped. "Wait a bloody minute. This was supposed to be my big moment, telling you I'd come back from the dead. How can you be so offhand about it?"

"You should have known Andrew wouldn't keep a secret like that. I've known you were back and how since his visit to LA. It was just a matter of time before you hunted me down." She smiled at his crestfallen expression. "I just didn't think it would take you so long. Now, excuse me, I have to be somewhere."

"At this time of night? I make this big return and for what? No hug, no kiss, not even a bloody threat all because you have to be somewhere?" He paused for a moment and the anger disappeared from his face, leaving only a concerned expression. "You're not going patrolling, are you?"

"Not that it's any of your business, but no, I'm not." She glanced quickly at her watch, and set off walking again. Spike was forced to chase after her in order to continue the conversation.

"So, where are you headed then?" Apparently, he believed it was his business.

Buffy sighed and paused briefly to look at him. "If you must know, I'm going to church."