Title: Holiday Beginnings
Fandom: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Relationship(s): Spike/Xander, Willow/Faith
Content Rating: PG
Word Count: 2018
Summary: 2006 Spander Holiday Ficlet. Several years after the fall of Sunnydale Willow plans a Holiday get-together.
Xander sighed heavily as he walked down the same aisle for the third time, trailing behind his best friend as she searched through rows upon rows of gaudy Christmas decorations, looking for the one perfect item.
“Why are we doing this again?” He asked sullenly. “We don’t like Christmas, Willow. Remember that year that Jesse was mugged by the Santa at the Sunnydale triplex? And what about the time I spent the entire winter recess recovering from that fractured clavicle? Oh, and after we met Buffy there was that whole First Evil thing. Besides your Jewish, you’re not supposed to celebrate Christmas.”
“Xander,” Willow said patiently as she picked up a crystal star and gave it a closer inspection. “We’re not celebrating Christmas, we’re celebrating Yule, and the reason is it’s the first time for us to all be together since the whole ‘Sunnydale sunk into a Crater’ thing.”
“Not everyone,” Xander muttered.
Willow sighed. “Spike was invited. He just….” She trailed off.
“It’s a twenty-minute drive,” Xander complained. “You chose Los Angeles as the locale for this little reunion of yours. It wouldn’t be that difficult for him to come. But he chose not to. Why? You and I both know why. Because there’s someone here he doesn’t want to see and it isn’t the Buffster.” He paused and drew in a deep breath. “Why did you choose LA anyway? We could have probably met almost anywhere else.”
“Faith is here,” Willow said quietly.
“I know, Wills. She came to help out after everything went south with Woods.” Xander said as if he was stating the obvious.
Willow turned to stare at her old friend. “Faith is here.” She said again, this time with a little more emphasis.
“Oh,” Xander said stupidly. “Okay, so…decorations?”
Willow grinned at his easy acceptance and tugged him into another aisle.
“Come on, Fangs, come with me.” Faith urged as she finished buckling her boots.
Spike let out a puff of smoke. “Why are you even going to this shindig Red cooked up? I thought you couldn’t wait to get away from that lot.”
Faith grinned at the vampire. “Well, not everyone. Willow has sort of grown on me.”
“I bet she has,” Spike smirked, grabbing his duster. “Very well, let’s do this already.”
Xander finished loading the last of the brightly colored stockings and stood back, admiring his handiwork. Having only one eye was hell on his depth perception, but over the past few years, he’d learned to cope.
He smiled to himself as he heard Dawn in the next room laughing at something her current boyfriend was telling her sister, interrupting every so often to correct him. Buffy sat next to her own boyfriend and laughed softly at their antics while Giles helped Willow carry out plates of cookies and glasses of eggnog.
This was his family. They’d been through hell and back together, sometimes a little more literally than was comfortable remembering, but they were all he had, and most days that was enough. He had long ago given up and having any semblance of normalcy. He spent most of his time traveling back and forth between the New Watcher headquarters and the sites of various demon-related emergencies. Everyone he knew was either a Slayer, A Watcher or some sort of demonic entity. No one he had met in the past three years had appealed to him in any meaningful way.
He knew Buffy thought he had closed himself off after Anya died, but the truth was both more and less complex than that. The fact was he had thought he had started to fall for someone else, even before Anya’s death. When that person had appeared to die during the same battle that had killed Anya, Xander had been in a state of shock, barely able to handle corralling everyone and getting them far enough away from Sunnydale to avoid the crater that had once been their home.
After the shock wore off, they were just trying to piece their lives back together. By the time he had learned Spike was still alive, or rather still undead, too much time had passed and he figured it would be best he left the past, in the past, and moved on with his life. Being back in Southern California was making him rethink things.
He took another breath and looked at the stockings he had lines across the mantle of the fireplace. There were nine of them. Willow had picked out most of them, although Xander had picked the stocking for Andrew, who was currently explaining the difference between the Andromeda Ascendant and the USS Voyager to Buffy’s bewildered date. Xander had also bought a stocking for Spike, though he knew the vampire had declined the invitation. It didn’t feel right to not have something up there for the vampire who had reluctantly become such a large part of their lives.
His thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell. He moved towards the front door, assuming that Faith would be on the other side. She was, but she wasn’t alone.
“Spike,” Xander exclaimed, surprised. “I thought you weren’t coming.”
“You want me to leave?” Spike asked with a raised eyebrow.
“No!” Xander answered quickly, flushing slightly at the look Faith gave him as she passed him to enter the house they had rented for their stay in Los Angeles.
Spike leaned against the door frame. “Are you going to let me in, or are we going to stand here all night?”
“Oh, right. Come in.”
Spike entered the house but stayed right by the door. His eyes swept over the room, taking everything in before turning back to Xander. “You help Red with all this?”
“Yeah. She wanted it to be…nice.” Xander looked down awkwardly.
The stood there awkwardly for a minute.
“So…” Xander started.
“You look good,” Spike said at the same time.
Xander paused. “I…what?”
“You look good,” Spike repeated. “I thought it was your eyesight you had trouble with, not your hearing.”
Xander rolled his eye, feeling a little less lost now that the insult part of the conversation was underway. “I thought that’s what you said. You do too. Look good, I mean.” He smiled slightly, nervous for some reason.
Spike smiled back and looked at the mantle above the fireplace, noticing the stockings. “There are ten stockings,” Spike said in bewilderment.
“Yeah, Dawn and Buffy brought guests,” Xander explained.
Spike’s eyes darted slightly to the large couch where Dawn’s boyfriend, Rylen was still entertaining Buffy and her boyfriend, Michael before he looked back at Xander. “So there should only be nine. Watcher, Red, Andrew, You, Buffy and Niblet, with their beaus, plus Faith. That’s nine. I can count.”
“Apparently not very well.” Xander grinned. “You forgot yourself.”
Spike blinked, surprised he was included, especially since he had told Willow he wouldn’t be coming to this shindig. “You put up a stocking for me?”
Xander looked away, suddenly embarrassed. He’d thought he’d gotten over all these adolescent feelings years ago, but apparently not. “Yeah. It just didn’t seem right not to. You’re family, even if you didn’t want to come.” He paused. “Why did you come? I thought you told Wills you had better things to do?”
Spike smirked, looking across the room to where Faith and Willow were talking quietly. “Slayer needed a chaperone.”
Xander quirked his lips slightly. “They do look a little cozy don’t they?” His eyes shifted to the other Slayer in the room, sitting close to her boyfriend who had an arm around her shoulders. “Does it bother you?” He asked Spike. “Seeing Buffy again, with someone else?”
Spike stared at Xander, surprised he would ask. “No. I got over that a long time ago. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Before Xander could reply Willow called everyone over to the tree so she could start handing out presents, putting an end to their unusual conversation.
Several hours later Spike found himself standing in front of the ten stockings, noticing how they seemed to be grouped in some sort of order. He wondered idly if it was some sort of coincidence that Spike’s was at the end next to Xander’s or if it was something more.
“Hey,” Xander said coming to stand next to him, a mug of something warm and red in his hand. “I thought you might be hungry.”
Spike took the mug in stunned silence. Xander shrugged sheepishly. “I was hoping you’d change your mind.”
“Were you now?” Spike asked, trying to get some of his equilibrium back.
“He was.” Willow agreed, popping up excitedly from seemingly nowhere. She grabbed Spike in a hug, squeezing tight. “I’m glad you came.” Her eyes twinkled brightly, “Both of you.”
Spike looked a little surprised, and more than a little flustered at her obvious sincerity. Before he could attempt to say anything, Willow wrapped an arm around Xander’s waist. “Xan here was hoping you’d change your mind.”
The vampire blinked at the pair. While Xander had said as much, it was a little different hearing it from Willow. Apparently, Xander agreed because he looked at Willow as if she was speaking some strange demon language before turning back to Spike. “Yeah, I, uh…yeah.”
Willow grinned again before releasing Xander and disappearing as quickly as she had arrived.
“So…” Spike started, his eyes looking over the row of stockings and back to Xander.
“Boy is this awkward.” Xander interrupted. “You’d think we were Buffy and Angel or something.” He looked a little nervous like maybe he hadn’t meant to say that.
“Or something,” Spike muttered before drinking his blood. “Who stuffed the stockings?” He asked after a minute of awkward silence and fingering the detailed engraving on the Zippo lighter he’d found at the bottom of his stocking.
“I did,” Xander admitted quietly. “I figured…” He shrugged slightly, not able to come up with a proper justification for the gift.
“How long you going to be in town?” Spike asked abruptly, trying to change the subject before things got even weirder.
“A few weeks,” Xander said, his eyes darting around the room. “I have some…watcher business in town. Everyone else is leaving tomorrow afternoon. Except Wills. I think she’s going to stay a few days.”
They stood there in an awkward silence for a few minutes before Buffy came over and insisted Spike come and meet Dawn’s new boyfriend.
It was nearly midnight when Xander found himself alone with Spike again. They were standing out on the back porch. Spike was smoking a cigarette in his usual fashion while Xander watched in slight amusement. He couldn’t count the number of times he had watched Spike doing the same thing, back in Sunnydale, but now it was both the same, and different.
“So…” Spike began, interrupting Xander’s thoughts. “Looks like things are winding down in there.” He nodded his head towards the house where Willow and Giles were cleaning up from their little party. “It’s still early. I know a place that serves pretty good beer and onion rings.”
“Uh, sure.” Xander replied in bewilderment.
Spike nodded his head once, sharply before putting out his cigarette and going back inside.
Xander stood there looking confused. “What just happened?” He asked no one in particular.
There was an amused chuckle from the side of the house, where Faith had been standing watching the two of them act like teenage girls. “I think they call that a date. You know, one person asks, the other accepts…unless a lot has changed…” She smirked and trailed off, enjoying his confusion.
“Yeah well, it’s been awhile.” He admitted quietly.
“Yeah, for all of us.” She stepped closer. “Tell ya what; maybe we can make this a new beginning, for everyone.”
Xander smiled at the woman who had once tried to kill him. It was funny how all of his close friends had tried to do that at one time or another. “Okay.” He nodded before kissing her on the cheek quickly and running into the house.
He’d better catch up with Spike before the vampire changed his mind.