1. Angelus and Dru
His first Christmas as a vampire was spent with bright red splashes of blood on the carpet and screams for carols. Dru danced amongst corpses while Angelus tore the throat out of his victim, the last member of a large English family.
"You should dance for the pixies, My Spike!" Dru murmured, swaying hypnotically towards him. Spike tracked the movement of her hips, the way her hands twined suggestively over her head. She danced nearer, twirling around and around until she tumbled into his arms, bright-eyed and laughing. "It is the time of revelry and celebration." Spike caught the faint whiff of child on her clothes and gently set her back on her feet. She spun away, giggling delightedly as Angelus dropped his meal to spin her in his arms.
Soike watched them, round and round, until sparkle caught his eye. An expensive glass ornament had fallen off the tree and to the floor. A delicate painting of two smiling children, no older than six, beamed up at him. The glass caught the light from the fire blazing merrily in the hearth and glinted with soft orange-yellow.
"Merry Christmas," Spike whispered as he carefully hung the ornament on the tree, facing the pristine snow-covered world outside.
He hadn't meant to get caught; Buffy was never supposed to know about the gift. Wasn't supposed to know he still had a key from when she was...gone. Gone wasn't the right world, though, because she wasn't really back.
He expected scorn or ridicule, disgust, maybe even violence. Rejection at the very least: of him, of his intrusion, of the gift, paltry though it was. He almost preferred her imagined derision to the blank, expressionless look on her face as she glanced between him and the gift-wrapped box underneath the tree.
Not wanting to cause anymore disruption, Spike nodded once, bade Buffy a quite "Merry Christmas," and slipped outside.
He sat down on the stoop and lit a cigarette with shaking hands, blowing the smoke into the cool night air. So much going on underneath the surface of this little group. So much going on with Buffy that the others were to blind to see and that he wasn't allowed to ask or talk about. He tensed when he heard the door open behind him and caught a whiff of Slayer.
She sat down beside him without a word, not even to complain about the smoke.
They watched the world lighten and the sunrise together, until Buffy pulled Spike inside and away from the harmful rays of the sun.
They were together when the world went up in flames, which seemed fitting. They fought the hordes of evil and saved who they could. Watched friends and lovers, sons and daughters die everyday, and kept on truckin'. Spike snorted; and entire generation of kids wouldn't even know what that sayin' meant. Still, they fought the good fight, put on their white hats—maybe a little more gray than they once were—and lead their ragtag group of humans and demons the best they could.
Spike approached Angel, seated atop the Sears Tower, the crunch of glass loud beneath his feet. Before them, Chicago smoldered. Spike sat down and poured Angel a glass of homemade hooch. He'd keep the bottle, thanks.
"Tis the Season," Angel toasted, raising his glass and downing it in one.
Spike glanced over at Angel, blood matting his hair, a livid scar across his face, and started laughing. A true, deep, full-out belly laugh. Soon Angel joined in, both of them cackling like maniacs until they gasped for unneeded breath and their stomaches ached. Spike found himself wiping tears off his face, Angel shaking his head wryly and downing his swill.
He glanced over at Angel—his sire, his comrade-in-arms, his...fuck, his friend. Christ, when had that happened? Angel met his eyes and Spike tipped his well-vodka swill in a mock salute.
Dawn outlived everyone but him. (Angel had gone out in a blaze of self-righteous glory years ago, leaving Spike to do this alone for the first time.) She married a good man who loved her and had a passel 'o Nibblets of her own, bright spots in dark days. Everyone of 'em had her eyes.
"You still remember," she said softly. She'd grown up so much in her time. Being a mother had taught her things; he sometimes had a hard time reconciling this wise woman, the revered and loved 'Matriarch of the Human Race,' with the young girl he'd met so long ago.
"I remember," Spike admitted. He took a drag of the fake shite that wasn't anything close to tobacco, looking out on the Enclave. The last safe haven in North America, built where London, Ontario had been and warded with the most powerful spells possible. Demons and humans wandered the streets together and voice rose in drunken celebration. People stitched together families, patchwork bonds that stood strong as any Spike had ever witnessed. As strong as the ones he'd had, last patch sitting at his side.
"'s nothin' to be sorry for, Nibblet." Spike couldn't quite keep his voice even. The faces of too many people stared out at him from outside. Dawn's frail hand settled on his arm, muscles trembling with the effort.
"They'll still be here," Dawn sighed. Spike wrapped his arms around her waist and ran his hands through her grey-white hair, fine and fragile. The laughter of her grandchildren floated up through the window. "I left them for you."
"I know, pet," Spike murmured, breathing in her scent. She smelled like Home. A dozen of her gradkids spilled into the room, yelling jubilantly for Gramma D and Unca Spike.
"Merry Christmas," he whispered.
Spike tossed back another shot and glared balefully at the black-labeled bottle. Jack Daniels. Bullshit. This pig's swill wouldn't pass for Jim Bean.
Though if he were being fair, Spike would have to admit he was likely the only person in the world who remembered what Jack Daniels should taste like. Spike eyed the shot glass and tossed it over his shoulder. Bloody waste of time. He grabbed the bottle and chugged the rest of the alcohol.
He had to give it to these new guys, though: new stuff certainly had a stronger kick.
"Spike? Hey, Spike!" Spike blinked and looked up into bright, smiling blue eyes. "You okay?"
"I am Jack's perpetual disdain," Spike said to the world at large. Spike stumbled at he was hoisted up and laid down on a bed. Blue eyes, so familiar, leaned over him.
"I'm pretty sure my perpetual disdain is directed elsewhere," the man told Spike, breathing heavily with the exertion of hauling dead weight around. "Though I might change my mind if you continue to be so thoroughly unhelpful."
Spike cracked one bleary eye open. "Yer name's Jack."
"Surprise?" Jack offered, eyes dancing with amusement. Spike groaned and pulled a pillow over his eyes. Tender fingers ran through his hair, curly and brown. The image of a younger vamp, brash and white-blond, flashed across Spike vision and he snorted, trying to block out the memories that came with that long gone version of himself. "You okay, Patri?"
"I am not your Patriarch, Jack," Spike grumbled, though it lacked heat. He'd lost this particular argument, oh, fifty years ago.
"That's not what Mama says." Spike snorted. "Or Grandmama, or Great-grandmamma or—"
"Yeah yeah, I get it."
"—anyone all the way to Dawn Summer herself." Spike sighed and knocked the pillow off his face, watching the way the shadows danced on the ceiling. Jack laid down next to him, his mortal body radiating heat and comfort. Spike indulged in memories of Jack's birth, how excited his father had been. How excited Jack's grandfather had been and the birth of his son. And on down the line until he got to Dawn, 26 and pregnant for the first time, tossing obscenities with angry fervor at her husband for getting her in this state.
"S'not the same," Spike grumbled eventually, burying his face in the covers.
It was true. Whatever you wanted to call it—Christmas, Chanukah, Yueltide, the Holiday Spirit—was an empty words these days. A few families cleaved to traditions handed down through generations without really knowing what they meant. He started when Jack twined their hands together, just touching and being touched.
"Merry Christmas, Spike," Jack whispered, a small smile on his face. Spike found himself smiling back, because not everyone had forgotten. He let Jack pull him downstairs, into a warmly lit sitting room, where the greater Clan of Summers had all gathered. There was food, and laughter, and off-key singing, and little kids running between his legs. They asked him to tell stories, family urban legends about people long gone but never forgotten. As Spike spoke, the restlessness in his chest dissipated, and the ghosts of centuries past settled comfortably around him. Merry Christmas indeed.