Chapter 6

He really looked kind of cute with the overstuffed coat and the fake beard that nearly matched the color of his shocking white hair. Buffy had loosened his curls before setting the red cap on his head and shooing him out to the waiting kids. "There! You make a better Santa than this guy anyway. You should get some glasses, Spike, they look cute on you."

"I'm stealin the soddin' negatives of all those pictures too, Slayer, and you can't stop me. And don't you dare tell anyone about this, got it?" Spike grumbled.

Buffy mimicked zipping her lip and promised, "Not a word will pass these lips, I swear."

"Okay, let's do this. I'll send in the elf boy." Spike threw open the door with enough force to rock the small house and marched out to his humiliation. He could hear Buffy's chuckles behind him. "I heard that, missy. Don't think you're not payin' the price either!"

She waited until Spike was out of earshot before whispering, "I sure hope so. Wonder what I'd have to do to earn even more punishment?"

"Um, Buffy? Santa said you needed me in here? Gosh, there's Santa there! Who's that then?" Jonathan looked from the underwear clad demon to the suited up Santa now seated on the elevated chair with a small child on his lap.

Buffy looked past Jonathan in time to see the little minx on Spike's lap tug on his hair as if to pull off a wig and look wide-eyed at the "real" Santa she discovered. She could almost hear the "bloody hells" Spike was no doubt thinking. She had to laugh again at the sight of the Big Bad playing Father Christmas.

"I need a truth spell on this guy and quick, before anyone notices you're missing," Buffy ordered.

It wasn't too hard to dispatch the Mimblix after Buffy found out where his mate was hiding. The nicest part was that after his head was removed, the body dissolved into a puddle of greyish goo. No pesky explanations were required for why Santa was suddenly looking more like John the Baptist than St. Nick. Mall management would have to hire a new Santa for the next day, because Buffy was 99 and 99/100% sure that Spike wasn't going to offer to take the job.

Spike had actually done quite well with the children, with only one screamer the entire time he played Santa. True to his word, he managed to nick the negatives for all the photos taken during his turn at bat.

He was more relieved than he could remember when he finally got out of the outfit and was back to his basic black classic look. Having spent far longer at the mall than he had expected, it was past sundown when he and Buffy were able to leave without drawing attention to the change in Santas.

The two walked companionably side by side as they headed for Spike's Desoto for the short trip to the Mimblix's cave lair. "So, about that date…Saturday free for you, Slayer? Probably not a good thing to mention the reason to Captain Cardboard if you have to cancel a date with him."

"Saturday's good for me. Riley has stuff to do and we were just going to hang out at my house Saturday night. I'll tell him I have Slayer stuff to do. No big." Buffy hoped Spike couldn't tell her heart was racing at the thought of her payment for his help with the demon.

"I'm thinking I don't really want the date to end on a dusty note, so maybe we should take a drive up the coast for dinner and what all." Spike looked at Buffy from the corner of his eye, trying to judge her reaction to the suggestion. He noticed her pulse accelerating and dared to hope she was at least a little excited at the idea of spending the evening with him.

"Sounds great. Should I dress up or just be casual?" Buffy fished for clues.

"You look good in anything, but I'm thinking I'd like to show you off. Dress up. We'll do this first class." Spike decided it was time for another trip to the pawnbroker. He wanted plenty of cash ready to lavish on his girl. Who knows, if the date went well, maybe he'd be buying that necklace for her stocking like he only wished he could earlier in the day.

"I can do first class." Buffy had a dreamy look on her face as she began to imagine Spike in something other than his typical jeans and tee shirt. She began to blush as she began to imagine him in far less. If she read his payment demand correctly, that goodnight kiss would lead to possible salty goodness, maybe even getting a little groiny before the night was finished.

"If we're taking this heap, you'd better clean it out, 'cause I'm so not going anywhere dressed up in this mess!" They had arrived at the DeSoto and Buffy took in the empty bottles and wrappers in the back seat of the old car. "And I mean detailed too, buddy! This bucket better shine or the whole deal's off."

Spike lifted an eyebrow and smirked at his Slayer. "I can do clean."

The drive to the cave was filled with companionable silence as each indulged in his or her own private fantasy of how Saturday was going to play out. Neither seemed to notice how quiet it was in the car.

The Mimblix's mate was as easily dispatched as he had been. The two toddlers tied up in a small nook were returned to their homes, unharmed except for some nightmare worthy memories of the 'bad lady that was going to eat us'. Spike and Buffy were treated as heroes by the relieved parents, who were only told that the children had been kidnapped by a deranged woman who was not a threat any longer.

Spike let Buffy off at her house and took the DeSoto to the underground garage where he stored it. He was already planning on spending the next day getting his chariot ready for his goddess to ride in.

~~~
Epilogue:

Buffy snuggled closer to the fully sated vampire at her side. She had never enjoyed a punishment more in her life! The date had been even better than her imaginings and her speculations on Spike's muscles were proved inadequate as well.

They had eaten fresh seafood at a lovely restaurant that was actually on the beach and followed that up by dancing at a trendy little club until Buffy thought she couldn't dance anymore. Spike was a perfect partner in looks and movement.

Spike had looked at Buffy in awed wonder when he had picked her up. She had opted for a sleek, violet slip dress in clingy silk. The deep vee neckline showed a respectable amount of cleavage and the small amethyst necklace that nestled there drew Spike's eyes right to her assets. She hadn't taken time to dress this well since she had started dating Riley. For some reason, Finn liked more casual dates like picnics and sporting events. She hadn't gone out of her way to be elegant in ages.

The look on Spike's face when he had seen her had been worth the effort. He looked a perfect partner for her too. Gone were the black jeans and boots, replaced with a suit that could easily have been from the pages of GQ. He was still in black, of course, but the shirt was a deep, deep blue that made his eyes look even more blue than usual. Buffy felt she could swim in them forever.

On the dance floor, they had drawn the eye of every other person in the club. Not just because they danced together as if they had been doing so their entire lives, but they looked so completely right together. Every move was instinctively in sync as their smoothly fitting bodies touched and dipped and glided across the dance floor.

The DeSoto had gleamed and sparkled. Spike had even removed the shoe polish from the windows since they weren't going to be driving in daylight anyway. The old car finally looked like the classic Spike had always claimed it was.

Buffy had been the one to suggest Spike come in for a cup of tea when he took her home and gave her that promised goodnight kiss. Her mom was still at the hospital and Dawn was staying over at Janice's for the night. Buffy wondered if she was going to have to remind Spike that she had laughed at him in the Santa costume to urge him to punish her further as he had promised he would do.

Buffy hadn't been too sure of how far she wanted this date to go when it started, but as the evening continued she only wondered why she had been so blind for so long. All her insistence that her greatest desire was for a vanilla life with a normal guy went out the window with the first soul-melting kiss on her front porch. It was as if a light had suddenly turned on and she could see at last.

Maybe it wasn't fair to Riley to do comparisons, but there really weren't any in the long run. Spike wasn't Riley; he wasn't Angel either. He wasn't like any man she had ever been with. She knew there would be rough waters ahead as her friends and family all would try to weigh in with an opinion about the mistake she was making by choosing the sexy vampire at her side, but being with Spike would be worth the headache. He was her perfect match.

Spike was in a daze. He had hoped to manage a nice long snogging session at the end of the date. He hadn't counted on the Slayer taking it further. It had been her soft hand that had undone his belt and lowered his zipper. Her warm grasp that fondled him into near climax as her mouth teased his with kisses even hotter than the ones he remembered. It was that same hand that took his and led him upstairs to her room and helped undress him as well.

As he lay in the dark, Buffy cuddled in his arms as he gently caressed her arm and pressed kisses in her hair he vowed that this would not be a one-time thing. He'd be the man she needed at her side and prove himself in any way she demanded. He would wipe away all the pain of her past experiences with men and replace the memories with ones of wonder and delight. He could hear her heart beating for both of them and knew that when her heart finally came to a stop, he would be dust.

For this honor, he would wear any silly costume the lady demanded, accept any trial, fulfill any request, even try to make friends with her gang of annoying twits. He would gladly play the lover's fool in the court of his queen.

There was a new year looming and a new beginning for them both to look forward to.

~fin