Buffy wandered around the house, checking windows and doors were secure. Since her mother had died, it had become her final task of the day and it always gave her a feeling of loss. This was a grown up’s job. She bore her responsibilities as Slayer with a good grace but at home she wanted to be babied and that would never happen again.
Tonight, the feeling was intensified because it was Christmas Eve. Dawn, Willow and Tara had gone up to their rooms a little while earlier, after much giggling, board games and tree decorating. It had been rather forced to begin with; Willow and Tara were cheering up Dawn, Dawn was pretending that the first Christmas without her mother was going to be as happy as any other. Gradually, some seasonal magic had made the laughter real, not forced, and Buffy hoped that tomorrow would be as happy. She wanted this Christmas to work, for Dawn’s sake more than anything.
For herself – she wasn’t sure. She didn’t have high expectations. Buffy walked to the stairs and then paused. Every Christmas Eve, she had sent a list to Santa flying up the chimney before bedtime. Even when she had found out the awful truth, she had kept on doing it, until they moved to Sunnydale and it had been one more tradition that hadn’t survived her parents’ divorce. Impulsively, she grabbed a pencil and an envelope that had contained a card from Xander and Anya. After a moment’s thought, she scribbled a short sentence and threw the paper on the dying embers of the fire they had kindled when the temperature plummeted below 60. It curled up, the edges blackening, and then a sudden draught sent it flying out of sight, glowing red. Buffy smiled, a sense of peace filling her. She switched off the lights, turned to go to bed and then hesitated, feeling too sleepy to climb the stairs. She decided to sit and finish her glass of wine curled up on the sofa, bathed in the warmth and light of her Christmas fire.
Buffy woke some time later, chilly and disorientated. The fire had almost gone out and the room was full of shadows. Something had woken her up, some noise. She listened carefully and heard it again. It was a knock at the front door. Glancing at the clock, she saw that it was past midnight. She must have dozed off for a while. Cautiously opening the door – Christmas or not, this was Sunnydale – she gasped in shock.
Spike stood on the doorstep, wearing his black boots. Just his black boots. He didn’t even have his blanket with him.
“Spike, what in God’s name are you – oh, my.” Buffy’s eyes had been drawn irresistibly south. Spike was a vampire. He didn’t get goose bumps and cold air did nothing to diminish his impressive attributes.
“I’m freezing my bloody knackers off, is what I’m doing, Slayer. Not to mention giving everyone an eyeful. Are you going to shift out of the way and let me in, or what?” Spike’s voice was urgent and he looked around him nervously.
“Not until you tell me why you’re –”
“Is that you, dear?” called an inquisitive voice. “Is there a problem? Should I send Mr Craddock over?”
“Who the hell is that?” Spike hissed wildly.
“Next door,” Buffy said in a resigned voice. She called back, “No need, it’s my long lost cousin from the nudist colony.”
Ignoring the excited chattering floating over the fence, she grabbed Spike’s arm and pulled him across the threshold. He made straight for the fire, threw on another log and stood, warming his hands, giving Buffy an excellent chance to take in the sleek lines of his back, the muscular curves of his backside, the – she shook herself and demanded, “Spike. You’re a vampire. You don’t feel the cold. Now cover yourself up and start talking.” Glancing around, she saw a throw on an armchair and took it over to him. Standing out of reach, she tossed it at him. He nodded gratefully and slung it over his shoulders before sitting down on the sofa.
Buffy sighed. “How about wrapping that round some other parts of your body?”
Spike glanced down and looked up at her with a grin, beginning to relax now he was safely inside. “Tempting you am I?” he asked hopefully.
“Yes, but I don’t have a stake handy,” she said, hoping that dealt his ego a crushing blow as there was no way she was fighting Spike when he was naked.
“I do,” he murmured huskily, “and if you want to share this blanket, I think you’ll find it’s big enough to –”
“Spike! Enough with the pathetic chat up lines. For the last time, before I let Mrs Craddock get her paws on you, what are you doing here?” Her voice was getting dangerous, though she was instinctively keeping it low. The last thing she wanted to do was wake the others.
Spike shrugged, the blanket sliding off his shoulders and pooling around his waist in soft folds. Buffy swallowed as the firelight flickered over his smooth chest, dappling it with gold and red. She was finding it difficult to look at him without looking, well, at him. There were no safe areas on Spike tonight. Inspiration struck. His boots! Yes. She looked at his boots as he began to talk. “I was in my crypt, minding my own business - and fully dressed I’ll have you know - when suddenly – I wasn’t. You know the rest. How about some brandy to warm me up? Leave something out for Saint Nick did you? Been years since I had a mince pie.” He glanced around and saw a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. “That’s it? Huh. You’ll be getting lumps of coal in your stockings, shouldn’t wonder. He’s fond of a little nip, is Nick.”
Buffy shook her head in disbelief. “Spike, are you under the impression that you just explained yourself?”
He glanced up at her through his lashes, the intense blue of his eyes gleaming. “Well, yeah. Can’t say anymore, because I don’t know any more.” He looked wistfully at the Christmas tree in the corner, its branches shimmering with tinsel and laden with glittering ornaments. “Little pressie under there with my name on it, is there?”
“No, there is not!” said Buffy indignantly. “Christmas is for good people, for human people, for non evil people.”
Spike stood, the blanket forgotten. “No, Buffy,” he said softly. “Christmas is for everyone who wants it. And I do.”
He walked towards her with a cat-like grace and she froze, her heart hammering, her body tingling with need. His image was burned into her mind. She knew that when she closed her eyes, all she would see was his face, blue eyes blazing, full lower lip begging to be nibbled, sharp cheekbones just made to be caressed by gentle fingertips. Standing close, not touching her, he glanced upwards. “Perfect.”
She looked upwards, following his gaze and saw that somehow she was standing underneath the kissing ring of mistletoe. With her face tilted, her mouth was so close that Spike only had to move a little to capture her lips with his. Buffy felt his cool mouth press against her and responded instinctively. As she felt his arms wrap round her she stamped down hard on his foot. His booted foot. With her bare foot.
Spike raised his head and smiled. “That hurt you more than it hurt me, I’ll wager,” he remarked. “And serve you right for being so lacking in respect for traditions.”
Buffy wrenched herself free with an effort of will and glared at him. “There is nothing that says I have to kiss naked men in the traditions!”
Spike raised his eyebrows. “Well, there should be,” he said reasonably. “They’re the sort that appreciate it most.”
Buffy found that she was trembling. She was only wearing a thin silk nightdress and matching jacket, but she knew that wasn’t the reason. It had been the sensation of Spike, so close to her as they’d kissed. Nothing had prepared her for the onslaught of emotion, the lust that had swept over her so suddenly that it had almost hurt.
“Spike – just go,” she choked. “Take the blanket and go.”
Spike’s face was tender as he reached out to stroke her hair. “If that’s what you want,” he said quietly. She pulled back from his hand, tears in her eyes and nodded mutely. When he left, she would burst into tears and bite a cushion with frustration, but she couldn’t give into her desire for Spike. Not here, not on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t be right.
Spike turned away and strode over to the sofa to pick up his blanket. He was a truly delectable sight from any angle, Buffy thought miserably, biting her lip as she resisted the urge to rush over to him, run her hands through those sleek locks and tousle them into curls. She was alone, in the dark, with a naked man – vampire – who was built to please and wanted to do nothing else. And she was kicking him out without even kissing him. “Mad,” she thought. “I am completely mad.” She opened her mouth and then stopped. Spike had exclaimed with pain and was sitting down, yanking at the laces on one of his boots.
“W-what’s the matter?” she asked, her voice quavering a little, as she realised how close she had come to giving in to her arousal fuelled fantasies.
Spike shook his head. “Something digging into my foot, love,” he answered absently. “Give me a second and then I’ll be gone.”
“Take your time,” she replied unthinkingly. With his head ducked down, she could look her fill at his bare arms, the muscles flexing under the pale skin as his fingers pulled at his laces. His feet were planted apart and she could see that he wasn’t erect. This was reassuring and yet slightly insulting. She was a few feet away, in a slinky, silk number. Shouldn’t he have been straining at the leash? She stared at him and pictured him hard and ready. It was too much. She whimpered softly and his head jerked up sharply. When he saw the direction of her gaze, he didn’t smirk knowingly, as she’d expected. Throughout his visit, he’d shown little embarrassment about his lack of clothing but now he reached for the blanket and draped it across his lap. He couldn’t blush, but she could and did. What she took for a dignified, silent reproach made her feel as if she had been taking an unfair advantage.
“I don’t mind you looking, Slayer,” he said quietly, amused by her reaction. “I just have a feeling that I might give you a bit more to look at than you’re prepared to deal with.” He finished untying his boot and pulled it off, turning it upside down and shaking it.
“I wish you would,” thought Buffy. “I’d deal.”
He glanced up, shock on his face and for one horrifyingly dizzy moment, she thought that she’d spoken those words, not thought them. “Buffy,” he said. “I found this in my boot. That’s what was digging into me.” He held something out to her and she walked over to take it from him. Glancing down, her face mirrored his. It was a piece of stiff card, a gift tag, and written on it flowing gold letters were the words, “To Buffy, who has been a good girl, from Santa.”
Buffy’s head twisted to the fireplace and she gasped as a feeling of pure joy swept through her and her mouth curved in a grateful smile.
“What is it, love?” said Spike.
“Nothing,” said Buffy, going over to him and sitting on his knee. His arms went round her at once, to hold her steady, and he looked into her eyes with a bewildered hope. “Am I going to get my kiss, after all?” he said.
“Oh, yes,” said Buffy, giving him the first one on his scarred eyebrow, lingering over it. “But you don’t get the rest until I finish unwrapping you.” Sliding off his lap, she knelt between his knees, unable to resist one more kiss on the way down to pull off his boot. Spike gasped at the location she chose, growling deep in his throat and she noticed with satisfaction that her imagination had fallen short of the reality.
As she triumphantly removed his boot and leaned back to look at her present in all his glory, she thought back to what she’d written on her list.
“To Santa. For Christmas I would like something to make me happy again. Thank you, Buffy.”
As Spike began to kiss her, reveling in her warmth, lost in the moment, he spared a thought for the heap of clothes he’d left hidden by Buffy’s gate. If some bugger nicked his coat - He’d been planning to slide a Christmas card under the mat, nothing more, when a scorched piece of paper had floated down from the starry sky and hit him. He had read it, his face softening as he’d thought of the hell Buffy had gone through the last few months. A whimsical plan had occurred to him, designed to cheer her up, if nothing else. After peeking into the room through the window to make sure she was alone, he had stripped and knocked at the door.
He couldn’t believe it when she let him come in. When she had told him to go, he’d been regretful but not surprised. When he’d found the gift tag in his boot, he’d been stunned. And when he thrust deep inside her and felt her eager response, he knew for certain, that soul or no soul, this year he’d been nice.
And now he was going to be naughty. Very, very naughty…
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