Rating:  G, not to worry, pet

Feedback:  If you like it, thanks.

Spoilers:  Takes place during Christmas of Season 4

Distribution: Here.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Spike finally has the chance to smash the Scooby gang once and for all.  Will he? And if you said yes, get some freaking Christmas spirit already!

Author's Note:  This was the first fic I ever wrote, so it's a bit rough.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose charcters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

A Sunnydale Christmas

It was a lovely, Christmas-card-perfect scene.  In the still night air, pretty little lights twinkled from the eaves of the suburban houses.  The scent of roast turkey wafted from open kitchen windows.  Since this was California, there was no snow; however, one lone figure was softly humming "White Christmas" as he made his way towards the Summers's home, his black leather coat billowing behind him.  Spike was in an unusually good mood.

You've really pulled it off this time, lad, he thought to himself.  Crigey, what a bit of luck that was.  Who says there aren't any Christmas miracles for the other side, eh?

It really had been a most extraordinary coincidence.  He had been over at Willie's pub, downing a Yuletide punch of equal parts whiskey and A positive, when in had walked a man with a very thick Russian accent.  The foreigner seemed more than a bit paranoid, and deservedly so.  Spike could tell in an instant that he was definitely mortal.  Bored with the usual crowd of demons and vamps that lurked around the dive, Spike decided to strike up a conversation with him.  He had a strong premonition that this stranger would prove highly interesting.  He was not disappointed.

"Don't seem to be from around here, comrade.  Shame to spend Christmas in this dump.  Barkeep, a couple vodkas, and don't try to give me that cheap stuff."

"Is very nice of you, but am looking for information, not drink," said the stranger.  "You, you are English, yes?"

"Yeah," came the reply as Spike took a deep swig of his innocent-looking beverage.

"You are not, perhaps, Rupert Giles, are you?"

Spike nearly performed a classic spit take.  He was about to violently correct the man's incredibly bad guess, chip or no chip, when it occurred to him that this could be useful.

"How'd you know my name?" Spike asked in an attempt to cover his reaction.  It worked.

"But how am I to know that you are real Rupert Giles?  You could, forgive me, not be telling truth."

Spike quickly racked his brains. "I was fired from my job with the Watcher's Council.  There, that's not exactly common knowledge, now is it?"

"Thank goodness!  I have been looking for you three months!  Come, come, we must talk in private, away from any," he looked around nervously, "unfriendly forces."

The Russian led Spike out of the bar and into a deserted park down the street.  Chap's not very bright, is he, he thought, but this looked quite promising.

"Now, who exactly are you?"  Spike asked in his best imitation of Giles's professor-like attitude.  Cor, this was going to be fun.

"Name unimportant. Do you know about the Key?"

"What's that?"

"We know another of our order was killed here in September.  He was unable to tell you about Key first?"

"No, no, never met him.  Please, explain."  Jackpot!

Over the next half hour, the Russian told Spike everything about Dawn:  she wasn't really Buffy's sister, everyone's memories had been modified, she needed to be kept safe from some unspeakable power, everything.  Spike's eyes widened to the size of half dollars as he ate up every tasty detail.

"Am so glad I found you.  Now I can sleep soundly for first time in many months."

"Don't worry about a thing. I promise, everything will work out just fine, or my name isn't Rupert Giles," said Spike.  He watched the well meaning but incredibly dumb man leave, then he melted quietly into the shadows.

That is how Spike happened to be in such a wonderful mood. In just a few minutes, he would wander blithely into the Summers living room and utterly destroy their Christmas in one fell swoop, all without the least twinge from the chip. 

When he arrived at the back door of the house, he had quite a surprise waiting for him.  Running at full tilt towards the open door frame, he suddenly felt as though he had slammed face first into a concrete wall.  He swore loudly.

"Well, that's a Christmassy sound.  Hey, look, it's bad, old, fangless Spikey-wikey!" came a mocking voice.  Xander stood in the kitchen cradling a freshly popped bowl of popcorn.  "What's the matter; can't get in, Mr. Nasty-Pants?"

"What the..." he started, but Xander cut him off.

"Hey Will, Tara!  Looks like there's an unexpected bonus to your Christmas present.  You uninvited Spike with that house blessing thing!  Nice job, Wicca chicks!"

"What?" came Willow's voice as she entered the kitchen.  "We did?"

"Nice going, Red; I'm locked out.  Undo it, will you!"

She surveyed him skeptically.  "I don't know.  Maybe it's not such a bad idea leaving you out there.  You don't seem too full of the holiday spirit.  Buffy!" she called.  "Should we let Spike in?"

"No!" came a slightly too quick reply.  "You two better hurry back or you're going to miss the Snoopy dance!"

Xander and Willow turned tail and ran to the living room without another word.

"Well," Spike muttered. "Tidings of comfort and joy to you lot, too."

Not to be defeated, he ambled his way to the front of the house and peered in the living room window.  He briefly thought of yelling the news to them from the front lawn but decided to wait for a more dramatic moment.  The Scooby gang was gathered around the TV, watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  Joyce and Giles had even joined in, although both Riley and Dawn were nowhere to be seen.  He could just hear their conversation.

"Why does the dog sleep on the roof out in the snow?"

"It's a cartoon, Anya.  Just try to go with it," Xander urged.

"But it doesn't make sense.  He's supposed to be a really smart dog, and he's going to catch pneumonia because he sleeps on the roof!"

"Anya, please just watch the animation and don't presume to question the logic of Mr. Schultz," was Giles's exasperated but slightly amused comment.

"Anyone want some hot chocolate?" asked Joyce kindly.

"Yes, please Mrs. Summers," Tara replied timidly.  "Especially if you, you know, have any of those little marshmallows… if it's not too much trouble."

"Ohhh, I love those too," Willow chimed in.

"I think we do.  I'll just bring everybody back a mug," Joyce said as she left for the kitchen.

Everybody but Spike, he thought.  Hang it all, I really like those little marshmallows.

"Boo!"

Spike whirled around so fast he darn near got whiplash.

Dawn was standing about two feet away from him.  He'd obviously been more distracted than he had thought if he hadn't heard her coming.  He rolled his eyes.

"Look, ducks, don't be stupid!  You don't want to go around startling vampires like that!"  Not that I could have done anything to you anyway, he glumly added to himself.  He noticed she had something clutched in her hand and immediately became suspicious.  "I can't get in the house.  There's no need to squirt me with holy water or whatever it is you've got there."

Dawn laughed.  Strange to think the kid was a fake.

"Farm boy isn't lurking about out here too, is he?"  He didn't fancy being staked by the giant hall monitor, especially not before he had a chance to spill the beans about the Key.

"Riley is in Iowa visiting his family.  I heard you downstairs and, well, here."  She shoved something small into his hand.  He stared at it.  It was a small package wrapped in the most ludicrous Christmas paper he'd ever seen; it was covered with pictures of reindeer with lights wrapped around their antlers.  He was unpleasantly reminded of Drusilla's chaos demon.

"I am not the bloody postman.  Deliver your own parcels… unless you've got twenty quid or so."

"It's for you."

He looked at her blankly.  The annoying, klutzy kid was giving him a Christmas present?  Covered in tacky reindeer?  Was she nuts in addition to phony?

"I just thought, well, you're like, over a hundred years old, so your family's gotta be dead…"

Um, yeah.  I killed most of them, he thought.

"And that Druscilla chick dumped you…"

How could this kid eat with her foot permanently stuck in her mouth like that?  All the same, at Dru's name he felt an unpleasant little pang.

"So, like, well, I don't think anyone should be alone at Christmas.  Besides, you haven't killed anybody lately.  So," Dawn gave him a smile, "aren't you going to open it?"

He was completely dumbstruck. Almost without thinking, he unwrapped the paper and briefly thought, if this turns out to be a Backstreet Boys CD, chip or no, she's dead.  With a faint scent of herbs, a small, black leather pouch dropped into his hand.  He had no idea what it was.

Seeing the blank look on his face, Dawn said peevishly, "It's a protection spell.  I had Willow make me some for Buffy and Mom, and I had one left over.  I figured you'd like a leather pouch better than those little velvet ones, so I sewed you this one and put the herbs in it."

"You're giving me a protection spell?"  He had gotten exactly one other Christmas present in the last 120 years.  Druscilla had actually remembered the holiday once and charmingly presented him with a pink basket brimming with blood-filled chocolate eggs.  She had always been a very confused girl.

"Umm, yeah, thought I made that pretty clear."

"I don't get it.  What's the catch?  I put the thing on and explode into flames or what?"

Good God, she actually looked hurt.  And when she looked hurt, she reminded him strikingly of Buffy.  He could never stand seeing her with that look.

"Look, pet, I'm…" his lips fought him saying the word for a moment, "sorry. It's a habit."  She still looked dangerously close to tears.  "Look, I'm putting it on!"  He slipped the cord around his neck and dropped the pouch under his shirt. Well, he thought, I didn't spontaneously combust.  And she looks a bit happier.  Wait a minute, why exactly was that a good thing again? 

But he knew it was.

"Look, I…" he paused.  "I know your little secret, pet.  About the Key."

"Huh?" she said in a confused voice.  Her face was a picture of innocence. 

That's when it hit him.  She didn't know she wasn't real!  The Russian had managed to forget to tell him that bit.  He had to think of something, fast.

"The key… to the front door.  The one you keep under the mat."  It was a sheer guess, but it proved on target.

"What about it?"

"Well… you shouldn't put it there.  First place a robber'll look, isn't it?  You'd best move it.  Say, why aren't you in there with that lot?"

"Sick of dealing with Buffy.  She treats me like I'm such a kid.  I am sooo tired of her picking on everything I do.  She's just so…, so…"

"Overprotective?"  Apparently she should be, if the kid is willing to come outside in the dead of night and play Santa's elf to a vampire. 

"Exactly.  Sometimes I wish she wasn't even my sister."

"Well surprise, surprise kid, but Buffy isn't really…" It was a golden opportunity.  She had set it up so perfectly it was almost beyond belief.  The words danced on the tip of his tongue, but… no, he still couldn't do it. "that big a pain.  She's just concerned about you.  She's seen a lot of bad stuff, that one has.  Just wants to be sure you're safe is all.  Speaking of which, get back in there," he couldn't resist.  "Xander still has to do that stupid dancing bit again at the end of the show.  Wouldn't want to miss that, now, would you?"

She giggled.  I hate gigglers, he thought.  She is amazingly annoying, but…. He looked at the lump over his non-beating heart.

"Go on, scat!"

"You never said thanks."

"Fine."  His lips formed yet another unaccustomed word. "Thanks," he mumbled as quietly and quickly as possible.

"You're welcome.  Merry Christmas!" she said before, with no warning, she briefly flung her arms around his shoulders and gave him a swift hug.  He went rigid with shock.  Not sure what else to do, he awkwardly patted her on the top of her head, rather like a dog. 

"Uh, yeah, you too, kid."  What the blue blazes am I saying, he thought. 

She scrambled back up on the porch.  "I'd invite you in, but after that thing with Harmony I think Buffy might slay me."

"You're right.  She would," said an amused voice from behind the screen door.  It was Buffy.  "Get in here, Miss Elf."

"'Bye," Dawn chirped as she darted in the door.

Buffy and Spike just looked at each other through the screen door. Just how long had she been standing there?

"Thank you," she said, suddenly.

"For what?"

"I heard just about everything.  How did you know about the Key?"

"One under your mat?"

"No, I mean…" she looked carefully around to make sure Dawn was gone.  "I mean her."

"Oh, so you do know."

"Just me and Giles.  And apparently you.  How…?"

"Long story, luv.  Don't worry, she won't find out from me."  Was there something wrong with that pouch?  He almost swore he could feel a small warmth around where it lay.  Cor, he wasn't getting all fuzzy, was he?

She gave him a long look.  Then, very slowly, she opened the screen door.

"I'm inviting you in." 

He looked at her in disbelief.  A second Christmas gift?

"Come on.  I'm not standing here with the door open all night.  And like you said, I don't want to miss the repeat of the Snoopy dance either."  She actually smiled at him.

"Xander acting like an idiot.  Now there's something you don't see every day," he said sarcastically as he entered.  He happened to look above the doorframe and was astonished at yet another piece of remarkable luck.  He suddenly swooped down and gave Buffy a quick kiss.

"What are you…" she started angrily.

He pointed up at the green sprig overhead.  "Mistletoe.  Tradition, luv." 

Anger appeased, she rolled her eyes in exasperation.

"They better not have eaten all those mini marshmallows," he muttered as he joined the rest of the gang on the couch.