The P in Perfection

Isabelle

Disclaimers: All characters belong to Joss Whedon and ME.

Rating: PG (yes, I can write those too *eg*)

Summary: What melts the slayer's heart of stone. (B/S)

Spoilers: Up to Wrecked

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, it was a disaster. The chicken was over cooked, the green beans were hard, the mashed potatoes were not getting smashed and the gravy tasted like water and broth.

Buffy bit the inside of her lip to keep herself from crying, it was bad enough that she didn't have the money to be buying all these extra groceries but she had messed them up as well.

She was just trying so hard, she could've sworn that she had followed all of the instructions from her mother's notes. But she didn't have her mother's hands and she didn't have her mothers touch.

She was just not meant for cooking.

Se took a deep breath and pulled the dry chicken from the oven. Carefully she cut off the parts that were edible with the new carving knife. She placed her resolve face on and continued whipping the gravy. If she had to soak the chicken in the liquid to make it chewable she would! She didn't care; she was doing this for Dawn and most importantly for herself.

Willow had suggested that she magically prepare the perfect dinner. Buffy had refused, together they were going to beat their 'addictions', they could do it--they had fought all types of hellish creatures the least they could do was have a nice Christmas.

She could hear the witch decorating the tree and Dawn trying as best she could with her arm in a cast to disentangle the lights.

Xander and Anya were bringing the refreshments and desert and Tara was providing the plates, napkins and plastic flutes.

Well, she though, at least we can have desert...Christmas desert would be good. The thought made the tears that she had been holding in seep from the corners of her eyes.

She hated this, she hated pretending that everything was alright, that her life could be a happy cheer of song filled night when inside she was peeling and breaking.

She opened the faucet to mingle her small sniffs and whimpers. It worked, the girls stayed in the living room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike looked at the stone cemetery angel before him, the wings were spread and there was a look of peace upon its face.

He took a deep breath and begun. "Buffy..."

The angel stared back at him with the same expressionless face. Yup, it definitely reminded him of her.

"I know we said we would stay away from each other...so I am, not saying that I'm coming over to just be with you," he started pacing. "Not like us vampires celebrate this poofy holiday or anything, I'm the big bad as you know...and well I'm just, well I wanted to ask, no, scratch that, I wanted to just take a peek to see if you were having your holiday cheer nice and proper like...but you caught me hanging out in the shadows but there's a good explanation for that, you see I just wanted to see you..." he sighed and ran his hands through his hair. "Bloody 'ell, this ain't going to work."

He looked back at the angel, same face. He wanted to kick it, but he had no other way of practising, he had already broken all the other figures in his graveyard and the mannequin was the first thing he had burnt when she had died.

"A little help would be nice," he shouted at the figure.

They should make stone flexible, he thought idly.

"Ok, so we'll start again from the beginning," he confided in the stone. "Ready for round two?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dawn came into the kitchen to find the chicken all carved up, dipped in the mysterious gravy and placed in an elegant serving plate. She smiled.

"Smells good," she commented as Buffy turned around and smiled. She placed the large serving dish in the middle of the table.

"Well let's just hopes non of us dies from food poisoning," the slayer answered lightly.

Dawn walked around to see what she had done with the rest of the food. "Buffy?" she asked. "Why are the potatoes that color?"

Buffy shifted nervously and pushed her away from the potatoes. "They just...they need more smashing."

Dawn bit her lip. "Hum...did you try putting milk?"

The slayer looked up at her alarmed with large green eyes. "Milk? There's milk to be put?"

Dawn gave her a 'duh' look.

"Milk! Of course there's milk! I was just going to add it!" she said cheerfully and nearly bounced to the refrigerator in relief.

Dawn sighed almost in relief, she knew her sister was not a great cook, but what bothered her was insistence that she knew what she was doing...typical Buffy.

"Anything else you need help with?" she asked hopefully as she eyed the green beans.

"Nope, I'll just add this milk here and all will be fine." she poured just a little too much milk on the potatoes, Dawn cringed...they would be watery.

"Are you sure?" she asked again.

"Sure is sure...you go on and help Willow decorate the tree, the gang will soon be here," she said as she began whipping the potatoes.

Dawn moved closer and kissed her sister's cheek. Buffy was started and looked at her.

"What was that for?" she asked quietly.

Dawn smiled shyly. "You know, whatever happens having you here is better than anything. Although I know that you might not like it here with us..."

"Dawny that's not it." Buffy told her. "You think I'm hating the time spent with you and Willow and Xander?"

Dawn shrugged.

"Listen Dawn, I might not always say it but I love you guys and you especially...you guys are the only thing that's kept me sane and I want to thank you for your patience with me."

The sisters shared a smile and gave each other a warm hug before pulling away. "Now let me finish dinner and all will be well."

The youngster nodded and walked out leaving the slayer to look at the watery mashed potatoes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I read it was customary for invited guest to bring wine! It's tradition!" Anya insisted as they walked the pathway from Xander's car to Buffy's front door.

"But Buffy and alcohol do not mix! You have no clue the trouble she has gotten in because of innocent alcoholic beverages!" Xander informed his fiancée.

Anya pouted and tucked the bottle into her bag of goodies anyway.

Xander sighed and rang the doorbell.

Willow opened the door with a smile on her face. "Hey guys!"

"Will," Xander greeted warily, he had been careful around her since the confrontation they had after the car crash incident.

"Willow! I hope you're no using any magic!" Anya said cheerfully.

Willow's face fell.

"Ahn!" Xander chided.

Anya looked around confused. "What?"

Xander smiled apologetically to his best friend and Willow nodded in understanding.

"Come in guys, Buffy's preparing a feast," she said letting them in. Before she closed the door she saw Tara walking towards the house.

In the past few weeks they had talked and sorted some thing but the distance was still there and Willow has accepted that it would remain there until the trust could be restored which could take a long time but for Tara she was willing to wait.

She waited with the door open and a small smile on her face.

"Hey you," Tara greeted.

"Merry Christmas...welcome--you're the last one," she said smiling.

Tara nodded and entered. "Better late than never," she said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy finished setting the table and dried her hands on her dirty apron. Everything was more or less perfect.

She sighed and untied the dirty cloth from her waist.

She could hear Xander and Anya arriving and the soft whispers of Tara and Willow. Everyone was here.

Everyone except for one but she was really not going to think of that at the moment.

Xander entered the dinning room smelling the chicken.

"And Xan-man says yum!" he smiled at Buffy. "So everyone's here?"

She smiled back. "Yup, we're all here."

"So where's resident evil, Anya made him those little cinnamon cakes he loved," he said completely missing Buffy's staggered expression.

"Spike?" she asked confused.

Xander looked at her strangely, she looked pale. "There's only one who bleaches his hair."

"Well...I'm sure he's...out causing mayhem," she said quickly and turned to the kitchen.

Xander followed her looking at her strangely. "Buff?"

She ignored him and started the wash the few dishes that were left.

"Listen Xander, no Spike tonight...just us...the way it should be," she said quickly and Xander reluctantly nodded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike walked slowly to the house, it was very cold, colder than Sunnydale should be.

Looking up at the sky he could've sworn that it was going to snow but shook the though away.

The house was in the distance and he could see the lights on, a few bushes were decorated with rainbow lights that turned on and off and he could see the lights of the Christmas tree from the inside.

This was a bad idea he told himself but he somehow couldn't help being drawn to the warmth inside the Summer's house.

So walked until he could hide behind one of the bushes and look in to the dinning room.

And there they were. All the scoobies sitting around the table laughing and drinking and having roast chicken and watery mashed potatoes.

Looking in from the inside he had never felt more alone in his life.

They were all dressed up, nibblet with a lovely dress and Buffy looking radiant, even her hair was up which he hardly ever saw, soft tendrils touched her face and she smiled and laughed at something Harris had said.

They looked happy.

Taking one last look at the picture perfect holiday he stuffed the small present back in his pocked and walked away.

This was no longer his home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy was laughing at Xander's impression of a camel when she felt that familiar presence that always came with that damn Peroxide Vampire.

She could tell he was staring at her but she continued as if nothing...why couldn't he just go away? Leave her alone and pretend she didn't exist.

But that's when she saw him. He was peering in and all you could see was his face, no longer the cocky arrogance...it was completely replaced by vulnerability and solitude.

He was staring at them with such...longing, as if he was sad that there they were having a good time clinging on to the only family they had and he was out in the cold.

Her heart did something that it hadn't done in a long time. She felt a wave of shame fill her. She hadn't even bothered to invite him or to ask what he was doing at Christmas.

She felt like the biggest hypocritical bitch in the planet.

She watched his head fall and turn and walk out into the cold night.

Standing up she excused herself telling them that there was an errand that she had to do, they all looked at her like she lost her mind but lately they didn't push her to anything.

She grabbed the container that Anya had brought for Spike, filled with Cinnamon cakes and headed out the door.

The night was freezing and by the looks of it it was going to rain which meant snow.

She smiled at the thought a white Christmas; she hadn't had one since she was very little that they spent the holidays in her aunt's house at Michigan.

She followed his scent that he left clearly behind and found him walking through his cemetery.

"Spike!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike froze as he heard her call his name.

He was sure he was hallucinating. But tempting his sanity he turned around to look. And sure as hell there she was wrapped in a long ivory coat with her hair up and a container in her hand.

He gapped at first but then decided to play it cool.

"Slayer," he greeted casually.

"Spike," she answered.

They stared at each other for some time until a cold wind blew and chilled her making her shiver out loud.

"You should go back inside, you could catch a cold," he suggested.

But she walked towards him and extended the container filled with cakes.

"What's this?" he asked suspiciously.

"Anya made them for you...cinnamon cakes." Buffy told him.

His entire face lit up and almost made Buffy want to hold him, but she held herself back. Like a little boy he grabbed them from her and opened them.

"The girl's something else," he said happily as he devoured the first one.

Buffy felt bad, this must be the only thing he would receive for Christmas...Anya had been the only one to think of him? Ok, now she might cry.

"I didn't know you liked these," she commented and she nearly fell laughing when he gave her a small grin showing teeth filled with cake crumbs. "Spike, you're a pig," she said burst out laughing.

He stared at her hurt but then saw that she wasn't laughing at him but more of having fin with him. He couldn't help but grin more, which only made her laugh more.

She tried to catch her breath but she kept seeing Mr. Big and Bad grinning with cake crumbs all over his teeth.

"Oh my god, Spike--you've made me laugh," she said once she had calmed down. Her cheeks were flushed and her sweet tendrils framed her face.

He stared at her with a silly grin on his face, and he couldn't help but think that she'd never looked more beautiful.

Reaching out for her waist he pulled her against him and did what she never expected him to do.

*He* kissed *her*.

She melted into his familiar touch and the gentleness of his lips. And just...let go.

They embraced, squeezing the remains of the cinnamon cakes between them.

They didn't notice when it started snowing or when the large statue of the angel that stood directly behind them smiled down at the snow sprinkled couple.

The End

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