Home for the Holidays

Rating:  PG, for Spike's use of Spike-like words

Feedback:  Yes, thank you very much. Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Takes place after "Wrecked," but ignores everything after it.

Distribution: The Bunny Warren and fanfiction.net.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  It's Christmas during season 6.  Spike ends up playing Santa for Buffy and Dawn, but the results are... well, not always optimal.

Author's Note:  The quote is from Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," and yes, there are hints of "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry.  Two other things:  Dawn has completely forgiven Willow for the car accident, and my version of the Scoobies (particularly Spike) is a bit kinder and gentler than the one Joss gave us this year.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters 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.

Dedication:  To the darling people who had to wait until AUGUST for me to finish this fic, yet didn't complain even a little bit.

Home for the Holidays

Beep.

"Hey, Willow.  It's Dawn.  Right, well, I guess you'd know that from my voice and stuff.  Um, things aren't going too well here at Dad's.  He was called out of town on business or something at the last minute, so we're coming home early.  The first flight back that was available is on Christmas Eve.  You don't have to worry about picking us up at the airport, though.  My dad fixed us up with a cab."

A long pause resonated through the house.

"I know we don't have a tree up or anything, but maybe, could you, like, stick my present to Buffy in front of the fireplace or something?  We were gonna exchange gifts when we got back home, anyway.  It's in my closet on the top shelf, just behind Mr. Quackers.  Oh, and Buffy's present to me is on top of the fridge in the kitchen.  I know it's kinda stupid, but, well, it'd make the place feel a little more Christmassy."

Another pause filled the air before Dawn's voice continued, cracking slightly.

"Willow, are you there?  If you are, could you pick up, please?"

Silence.

"Sorry.  Just, you know, missing my mom and stuff.  So, uh, guess I'll see you and the rest of the gang on Christmas Eve.  Bye."

The tape automatically began to rewind, leaving a stunned vampire standing in the living room of the Summers home. 

The call had been made hours ago, but he was the first one to hear it.  He was also going to be the only one to hear it.  Xander had surprised Anya with a ski trip to Colorado as an early Christmas present, and the two of them were currently swooshing down the slopes.  Willow had managed to convince Tara the previous night that she was, in fact, giving up magic for good, and the two reunited Wiccans had decided to celebrate with an impromptu trip to Disneyland.  Spike didn't even bring up the irony of going to the Magic Kingdom for the occasion.  Giles was, of course, still in England.

Willow had stopped by his crypt before leaving, asking him to pick up the mail and keep an eye on the house.  So here he was, the big bad: a house sitter.

Spike immediately told himself that he shouldn't be bothered in the least by the Nibblet's message.  After all, it wasn't even meant for him.  Still, he supposed he could at least stuff the presents by the fireplace and have done with it.  With a roll of his eyes, he climbed the stairs and proceeded into Dawn's room.  He smiled in spite of himself as he opened the closet door and saw a cute little yellow duck seated on the top shelf.  Obviously, this must be Mr. Quackers.  He picked up the stuffed animal and groped around behind it, searching for the gift.  A flat, thin, square package wrapped in green paper and topped with a red bow was revealed.  He stared at it.

"She got the Slayer a calendar?  That's her only Christmas gift?" he said aloud in disbelief.  There was nothing else it could possibly be.  "Huh.  Kids."

He shoved the present under his arm and went downstairs to the kitchen.  There, sitting atop the refrigerator, was a Kleenex-box-sized package wrapped in gold and red striped paper.  He picked it up and gave it a good shake. Something thunked softly inside.  His curiosity getting the better of him, he pulled out a pocketknife from his duster and carefully slit the tape, making sure not to harm the paper.  His eyebrows raised in confusion.

"Bedroom slippers?"

The box did, indeed, contain a pair of plain, light blue, terrycloth slippers.

"That's it?"

He'd known that the two of them were strapped for cash, but judging from their practically bare stockings, they were far worse off than he'd imagined.  Grabbing a roll of tape from a nearby drawer, he fixed the wrapping on Dawn's slippers, then carried the meager presents into the living room and plopped them in front of the chimney.

Pathetic did not begin to describe the scene.

No tree.  No decorations.  No family.  No friends.  And this is what Buffy and Dawn would be coming home to on Christmas Eve after their father had dumped them once again. 

Spike stood by the fireplace, his eyes squinting with conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, Buffy hadn't even spoken to him since the night they'd taken Dawn to the emergency room.  The Scoobies were, as usual, barely tolerant of his presence.  On the other hand…

"I am evil.  I am evil.  I am evil," Spike started repeating to himself like a mantra.  "I am evil.  I am evil.  I am…," his eye caught the photograph of Joyce which was sitting on the mantle.  She seemed to be staring directly at him. "… not going to let them have a miserable Christmas," he finished in a resigned tone.

Three days remained between now and Christmas Eve.  With a sigh, he grabbed the pen and paper by the phone and jotted down a brief list of things to accomplish.  If he was going to do this, he was bloody well going to be organized about it.