Un-Christmas Day

It was a surprise, waking up in a darkened living room with her head pillowed against a vampire's leg, but it wasn't exactly unwelcome. It was Christmas Day. Another Christmas Day. As unobservant a Jew as she was, considering that she was beginning to embrace the tenets of Wicca, she was still Jewish and the pomp and circumstance surrounding this Christian holiday, now as it had all her life, made her feel alone, a stranger among her friends, unwelcome in a world of Santa Clauses and mangers and 'Oh Holy Nights'.

But last night… last night she'd found a friend in a fellow outcast. A lapsed Jew and a chipped vampire celebrating un-Christmas Eve with movies and popcorn and companionship. It had been wonderful, well, sort of melancholy since they'd reminisced a lot about the ones they'd loved and lost, but still… yeah, wonderful.

Even when Spike's stories had included a whole lot of really icky bloodshed. She guessed he probably found her own more sentimental memories equally nauseating, so they were probably even.

Well, except for that story about the carolers. He still owed her for that. She'd never, ever again be able to look at Christmas lights without feeling queasy; not that she was all that crazy about them to begin with.

"Mornin'." A British-accented greeting and a hand ruffling her hair pulled her from her reverie and she sat up.

She should probably apologize for his having to sleep sitting up… and… oh, she'd drooled on his leg. When was she going to stop sleeping with her mouth open? "Sorry," she offered. "I should have shown you the guest room or something."

He was staring at her and she wished she knew what he saw. "Liked it better out here with you." There was a pause, as if he was weighing his words. She understood why when he spoke. "Nicer not to be alone."

That admission – it was a gift. An un-Christmas gift. Willow cherished it, knowing that Spike didn't open up to people, to anyone, the way he had to her. Whatever she'd done to earn his trust, it felt like the first thing she'd gotten right in a very long time. "Me, too. Thanks for staying here."

She wished she could bottle last night and this morning up and save them forever. It really had been nice, waking up touching someone. Just because there hadn't been any sex didn't mean it didn't fulfill some of that need for connection. "I don't have any blood," she blurted out. Why didn't she have any blood? She knew vampires. Of course, this wasn't her primary residence anymore and she'd never had a vampire spend the night, but still…

Spike chuckled. "You've got plenty. I just can't partake, that's all. More's the pity since I'm sure it'd be the best I ever had."

Before last night, she would have found that slightly creepy. Now it seemed oddly complimentary and she smiled. "Sorry you don't get to sample my wares." Oops. That sounded a lot dirtier than she'd intended and she blushed.

Spike reached over and ruffled her hair again. "That's a right shame. Bet everything you've got is top drawer." He looked her over and her blush deepened all the way to the roots of her hair. Sure, he was kidding, but he still oozed sex appeal in a way that made Willow realize that her love life had been pretty much high school. Spike? He was all grown-up and she was absolutely sure he was out of her league. "You know, it's too bad you didn't make some totally different wishes back when you did that silly spell."

Oh god. Had she apologized enough for that? "I really am sorry about making you and Buffy…"

"Get engaged? Gotta admit that was bloody awful. Still, it showed just how much potential you'd have had as a vampire. Makes me proud I wanted to sire ya."

Willow shuddered. "Me as a vampire? Been there, done that. No offense, but I'd so rather not. I was so evil… and skanky." She left out the gay part. There was Tara Maclay from her Wicca group with whom things were getting a little… ambivalent and she wasn't sure how to handle it.

It seemed that her casual mention of her vampire doppelganger had piqued Spike's curiosity. She'd sort of forgotten that he hadn't been around then. "What do you mean, 'been there, done that'?"

"Umm… Kind of a long story, but Anya tricked me into doing a spell to try and get her powers back and we accidentally brought forth the vampire version of me from another dimension." Willow shuddered at the memory. Getting felt up by… herself. That had been so disturbing.

Spike's eyes shot wide. "There was a vampire version of you? Why do I miss all the good stuff? I'd kill… well, I'm a soulless demon so maybe it doesn't mean much, but I'd kill now, sod the headache, if I could see that."

He was serious and Willow found it weirdly flattering, even if there was nothing she'd like less than to see her vamp self again. She tried to console him. "You didn't really miss anything. Not like she was that tough. I mean, I was able to take her down with the tranq gun and I totally fooled everyone when I impersonated her at the Bronze." Okay, she was stretching the truth a bit and maybe lying to a friend. Worrying about that distracted her and she mused, "The leather was really binding." Oops. She realized that, once again, she might have said the wrong thing.

"What's this about you in leather?"

"Umm… I sort of traded clothes with her when I had to impersonate her so we could stop the killing spree at the Bronze."

Spike's eyes had gone from wide to glazed. "Nothing ever goes my way." Again, she realized she was flattered. Oz had never liked the way she looked in leather. The idea that someone might think she would look hot… well, it was sort of empowering.

"The corset made it kind of hard to breathe," she added, wondering how…

"There was a bloody corset with that getup?" He looked her up and down, obviously picturing her in the clothes she'd described. "Please tell me you kept it as a souvenir."

For the first time, she almost wished she had. Shaking her head, she had to admit, "No, I didn't." His downcast expression made her hasten to explain. "We couldn't send her back to her world in my sweater. It had smiley faces on it."

Another chuckle. "No, guess you couldn't at that. Shame. Guess I'll never see you all decked out in leather."

"You probably aren't missing much. No one else seemed to think I looked very good," she admitted, grudgingly bursting the bubble that had made her feel almost sexy there for a minute or two.

"Pfft." Spike made a contemptuous gesture to accompany the sound. "The Slayer was just jealous that you've got the nicer arse. As for Dogboy… what can you expect? We already know he's got no bloody taste. Snorted flea powder, I'd wager."

Okay, this was really petty and so very not best-friend-like, but…"You think my ar… butt is nicer than Buffy's?"

"Much."

"You're just saying that because she's the Slayer and you hate her."

"No. I mean, yeah, I'd drain the bint dry in a heartbeat if this chip wasn't in my head, but I can admit she's got a decent body on her. Yours is just better, that's all."

"Really?"

"That mutt of yours didn't half shatter your confidence." Spike put his arm around her, pulling her head down to his shoulder. "You're a beautiful woman, love. I thought so even when we were enemies. Meant what I said, you know, 'bout wanting to sire ya. And a vampire like me doesn't sire just any girl." His lips brushed the top of her head. "You're the whole package: beauty, brains, magic…" His voice trailed off and for a fleeting moment, Willow wished things had been different. Sure, the idea of being a vampire was awful, but…

She sighed. "Some things just aren't meant to be."

"No," he agreed, "guess they aren't."

A few moments passed as they stayed locked in wistful silence. Both thinking about what might have been. "I really like you, Spike," she said softly.

"Like ya, too," he said. There was more he wanted to say, she could tell – maybe because she wanted to say things too. But what was the point? Not like there was room for even this friendship in the world they inhabited. After today…

"It's not gonna be like this, is it? Tomorrow, I mean. Everything's gonna go back to the way it was."

This time he was the one who sighed. "Probably. Not much good for either one of us if it doesn't. Can't defend myself against your friends and they wouldn't take too kindly to you and me bein'… well, even friends won't suit, now will it?" At that moment, she realized that Spike had seen her as maybe becoming something more… and that she'd seen him the same way. She wished she hadn't. Her heart hurt all over again and she started to cry.

"It'll be okay, pet," he lied. She didn't believe him.

They stayed where they were for a long time.

Christmas.

Willow hated it more than ever. It was a terrible, lonely day.

The End.