Spike shot straight up from the shock of it, taking the blankets with him. "Coal in your stocking? That's it?"

"Hey," Xander shouted. "Blankets. Cold air. Naked under here."

"Sorry," Spike mumbled, slipping back down and settling back up over them. "But coal?" he asked, too astonished by Xander's revelation to even think about leering at the "naked" comment.

"Well, yeah," Xander replied, as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world. "If you're good, you get presents; bad, coal."

"Not when I was a lad. Coal," he said derisively. "Plenty of people would have been glad to get coal. Used it as fuel. Could've gotten a bit of extra warmth out of it." Xander cuddled closer to Spike. While he'd never had admitted he was comforting him, the comment made him think Spike's family wasn't exactly flush when he was a kid.

"We had Blackfoot Bertha," Spike reminisced.

"Blackfoot Bertha? You're pulling my leg, right?" Xander asked.

"No, really. If you were good, there'd be a silver coin hidden in your room, inside a shoe or whatnot but if you were bad," he trailed off.

"What? You'd have to do extra chores or something?" Xander teased.

"Blackfoot Bertha would slit open your stomach, pull out your innards, replacing them with straw and pebbles."

Xander pulled away to the far edge of the bed. "A demon? Your Santa was a demon?"

"I," Spike blinked. "It was never put quite that way; just what we were told."

"Two questions: What's it look like and how do you kill it?" Xander asked, quite seriously.

Spike gave him an affectionate smile. "There's my white hat. Well, let's see. She had a big crook of a nose and was all covered in soot 'cause she'd get into the house through the chimney. Oh, and she'd lost one show, which is why she was called blackfoot, from her foot being all covered in soot."

"If you were bad," he continued, "She'd stomp her foot and then you couldn't move. You'd be paralyzed like." His voice got lower, sounding like a young boy sharing a dark story with his closest friends. "You'd hear her, getting closer and closer, but you couldn't do anything about it. I heard tell a lot of kids would pee themselves, waiting as she made her way up to them, knowing what was to come. You'd feel it, too, when she cut you open, and you'd scream, the loudest yell you could make, from the pain of it, but nobody would come."

Xander's eyes had grown wide. "How long before you died?" he asked, knowing some things were worse than death.

"Didn't," Spike whispered back. "Or I don't think you did. It was said the kids trailed behind her, dripping blood and gore. They'd eat your guts, with teeth as sharp as knives, trying to get their lives back."

"Spike?" Xander asked. "Could we stop talking about scary Christmas traditions now? I mean, I could break out the Barenaked Ladies and make you listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young but nobody wants that."

"What?" As the threat of scary Christmas music brought Spike back to the present, he noticed how far away Xander had moved. "Better be nice, Xan. Don't want your tummy slit open," he said, tracing a line across Xander's stomach.

"Eww, stop that," Xander said, slapping Spike's hand away. "Besides, I don't have to worry about being nice. Worst that'll happen to me is coal in my stocking. You're the one who'd end up with straw in his stomach. And ick, which, as a vampire, you'd survive."

"Guess I'll have to be especially nice, just in case then," Spike leered.

Xander smiled. "Guess you will at that."

Xander's eyes rolled back as Spike nibbled at his neck. "Spiiike," he moaned as his lover kissed his way south.

Spike licked a line across Xander's stomach. "Shh, pet. I'm being nice."