TITLE: Christmas With Bill Harker

CHAPTER THREE

It wasn't hard to spot Dawn. She was the brunette in one of the rows, about halfway back, who was continuously looking at her watch. No doubt, Buffy thought, her sister was thinking she'd be late again.

Apparently, Spike had spotted Dawn as well, because he strode down the central aisle without a care in the world. Dawn didn't even sense his approach, and Buffy wanted to immediately berate her for thinking she could be relaxed in a church. Vampires could enter churches just as easily as the living, and they knew even better how to blend in with the crowd. With a sigh, Buffy walked quickly after Spike.

"Those two seats beside you going spare, luv?" he asked.

Dawn squealed and jumped up, immediately engulfing the vampire in a hug. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

He chuckled as he released her. "Thought I'd pay a visit to your sister, only to discover she was meeting you. And I couldn't very well see her and not you now could I?"

Dawn looked behind Spike. "Wow, Buffy, doesn't he look different? Oh, this is amazing." She grinned. "And he even got you here on time."

"No nasties this year," Buffy shrugged as she made her way into the pew. "Well, except one, and I can't seem to get rid of him."

"Hey, is that anyway to treat an old friend?" Spike took a seat between the two women.

"Old being the right word," Dawn said with a laugh.

"Hey, I can bite you know," Spike warned.

"And I've got a stake," Buffy said with a hiss. She really didn't want the other members of the congregation staring at the three of them. Trying to appear normal, she began perusing the bulletin she'd been given upon entering the building.

"Dawn, Buffy, merry Christmas."

Buffy looked up to catch the eye of Pastor Davis. "Hello, Pastor," she said quietly, waiting for what she knew was to come.

"Buffy, it's good to see you again," the minister replied. "Though I do wish we'd see you here more often."

She forced a smile on her face. "I keep pretty busy, you know."

Pastor Davis smiled. "I do know. I'm always asking Dawn how you are." His gaze moved to the person sat next to her. "I'm glad to see you've brought a friend with you this year," he said, extending a hand. "I'm Pastor Davis. Are you a friend of Dawn or Buffy's?"

Buffy wanted to curl up and die. Though not a woman who tended to pray often, she began to pray now; pleading that Spike would do nothing to embarrass them. A vampire and a man of the cloth could be an explosive combination if not handled right.

"I'm Bill Harker, an old family friend."

The cultured English accent caused Buffy's head to jerk up in surprise. Spike was actually behaving himself?

"It's good to meet you, Bill. Do you live here or are you just visiting?"

"I've lived in this country now for a number of years." Spike laughed. "I can't seem to get rid of the accent though."

Liar, Buffy wanted to say. Still, his former accent was better than any attempt at an American one.

"From London?"

"Yes."

An elderly woman came up to the minister and it was obvious she needed his attention. "Do excuse me, ladies, Bill, it's good to see you all here."

There was a muttered chorus of "thank you," and "it's good to be here," and "to see you too, Pastor." Once the minister had disappeared, Buffy let loose with what she had wanted to say earlier.

Spike's face crinkled in confusion. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said sarcastically. "Did you want me to tell him my name was Spike aka William the Bloody and that he should address me as Master? Because I can, you know." He began to rise from his seat, only to be pulled back down by Dawn's hand on his arm.

"Buffy's just being idiotic," Dawn said, with a glare at her sister. "I think it's really nice that you're making the effort."

"Do anything for you, I would."

"Thank you."

Buffy decided that maybe she should look up the first hymn. It would keep her occupied, and maybe stop Spike from trying to antagonise her further.

"Look, Buffy." Spike's head came closer to hers. "I'm just trying to keep things cool for tonight, okay. I've no wish to embarrass you or Dawn, I was just trying to make polite conversation with the man, okay?"

If there was one thing that Buffy had issues with when it came to Spike, it was the knowledge that he could be right about a lot of things. He could have pulled the punk attitude, maybe even shown a little fang, but that wouldn't have been who he truly was. He might have annoyed at her times in the past, but he'd also tried desperately to do the right, even if misguided, thing. Besides, hadn't she missed him over these past years? Maybe she should just let it go for one night.

TBC