Title: The Way to a Man’s Heart is Through his Tools
Fandom: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Content Rating: PG
Word Count: 1700
Notes: Originally written for Lazuli’s Spander Advent 2009;
Summary: Xander thinks he’ll be spending the holiday alone. He’s anonymous gift giver has a different idea.
The first time it happened, Xander thought it was a mistake. He came home from work to find a brightly wrapped package leaning against his front door. The package wasn’t large; however, it was heavy. Xander turned it around to see if there was a card. There wasn’t. He thought about leaving it out in the hall, assuming that whoever had left it had the wrong apartment, but then he decided it was probably safer inside the house.
This was the first Christmas he would be spending truly alone. Willow had gone on a trip with her parents trying to break the awkwardness between them that had sprung up in the past years. She brought Tara with her, and Xander was unsure whether he should feel bad for Tara or for the Rosenberg’s. Buffy had taken Dawn to visit their dad and his new family. They weren’t entirely certain how that would work out, but Xander gave her points for putting forth the effort.
With Giles back in England, that meant Xander was alone unless one counted a snarky vampire as company. And he wasn’t even positive if Spike would make an appearance. He was unpredictable that way. Xander was past the times when he would camp out on his parents’ lawn to avoid the violence and the drinking. He had his own life now, his own apartment, but still, the isolation made the holiday less than merry.
The arrival of this gift, which surely must have been placed on his doorstep by mistake just reminded Xander that things had changed. He wasn’t the scared teenager hiding away from his parents’ anger anymore, but neither had he moved on.
Maybe it was time he did so. After he took his shower, he’d take the package out in the hall. Hopefully, whoever had left it there would realize their mistake. Then he’d drive into town and get something to eat. There was no reason he needed to sit in his apartment alone.
Of course, having made a plan, it was now fate’s turn to muck it up.
Xander had just stepped out of the shower when he heard the front door open. “Go away!” He called into the living room, knowing there was only one person who could possibly be annoying enough to come barging into a man’s apartment without knocking, and without the benefit of a key.
“Oy! I brought beer.” Spike called from the kitchen.
Xander pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweater and stepped out of his room. He stood in the doorway watching as the vampire rifled around Xander’s kitchen as if he owned the place. “Who did you steal that from?” Xander asked, eyeing the six pick of beer with the shiny red bow on the top. He stepped further into the room. “I don’t drink beer.”
“I know,” Spike smirked and held up what looked like a wine bottle in his other hand. “This is for you.”
“I don’t drink wine either.” Xander pointed out, needlessly. Spike had spent too much time on Xander’s couch not to know about Xander’s aversion to all things alcoholic.
“That’s why it isn’t wine,” Spike said slowly as if he were speaking to a particularly dense child. “It’s that sparkling apple cider with the splash of cranberry you were all atwitter over last year.” Spike rummaged in a drawer looking for the bottle opener. “Had a hell of a time finding it too.”
Xander blinked. “You didn’t steal it?” He asked, surprised.
“Stole the beer,” Spike admitted. “This I had to buy. “ He waved the cider around as if it had personally offended him. “Who the bloody hell drinks this shit but you, anyway?” He asked after opening the bottle. His eyes strayed to the counter where the wrapped box still sat. “What’s this then?”
“Just something that someone left on my doorstep by mistake.” He looked at Spike, “And no, you can’t have it.” He took the glass of sparkling cider from him and leaned against the counter. “What are you doing here?”
“How do you know it was a mistake?” Spike asked as he stepped out into the living room, a bottle of beer raised to hip lips, eying Xander critically. There was something off about the boy.
Xander narrowed his eyes at the vampire. “Who would leave something on my doorstep?”
“Maybe you have a secret admirer…or it’s one of those Secret Santa things.” Spike offered with a shrug.
Xander rolled his eyes. “I don’t think so. So, what are you doing here?”
“Thought you might like to buy me some of that chili from the place down the street.” At Xander’s incredulous look he smirked. “Wot? I brought the beer.”
“I was about to go out.” Xander admitted, shaking his head in amusement. “Come on, Blondie.”
Spike grinned and handed Xander his coat.
Xander knew he could have just told Spike to get out, but he’d already tried that, and in all the time he’d been on a somewhat friendly basis with Spike that had never worked. He hadn’t wanted to be alone anyway.
He wasn’t sure when being with Spike became preferable to being alone.
When he came home the next day for some forgotten paperwork, there was another package leaning against his front door. This time his name was written along the side in bold black letters. It was wrapped in the same paper as the previous package.
His brow furrowed as he entered the apartment and placed the new package next to the first one. Clearly they were from the same person. Just as clearly, if his name was anything to go by, he was the intended recipient. Who would give him gifts? More importantly who would just leave outside his apartment?
He vaguely entertained the idea it was Spike. Except that gift giving wasn’t in Spike’s nature, not unless there was something specific he was hoping to get out of it. No, this was definitely not Spike’s style, even if a small part of him hoped he was wrong.
Besides, Spike had still been crashed out on Xander’s couch when he left for work that morning, which meant Spike was likely asleep in Xander’s bed right now. On more than one occasion Xander had left for work with Spike asleep on the couch. Invariably, he returned to find Spike asleep in his bed. He’d long ago given up trying to get Spike to wait out the sun elsewhere, or at least remain on the couch instead of crawling into Xander’s bed the moment the human had left for work. It was a lost cause, and he’d stopped caring where Spike slept. Besides, he kind of liked the way his sheets smelled after Spike had been sleeping the day away in them.
He looked at the clock hanging in the living room and realized he had a little time before he had to be back to the site. He took the first gift, and brought it over to the coffee table and took a seat on the couch.
He ripped open the shiny red paper and pulled it away from the box inside. He blinked in confusion at seeing the contents of his gift. Carving tools. Wood carving tools, nice ones too. Who would buy him wood carving tools? Curious, he opened the second package. This one contained a beginner’s wood burner set.
He set both boxes down and stared at them. Who would know him well enough to know that he had an interest in wood crafting, but felt it necessary to make the gifts anonymous?
Even if he discounted the anonymous nature of the gifts, it still brought up the question of who would know he’d even like these types of gifts. He hadn’t spoken to anyone about his interest in wood carving, not even Willow.
Shaking his head, he decided he’d think about that later. Right now he needed to get back to work. He grabbed the paperwork he’d left on his desk and headed towards the door. Halfway there, he paused and headed towards his bedroom. He stuck his head inside his bedroom door, blinking in the darkness as he stared bemusedly at the lump huddled under his blankets. The only part of Spike visible was the top of his platinum head.
Xander grinned wryly. If he didn’t stay late at the site, he might even be home before the vampire made his escape.
It was past sundown when Xander returned home. He was mildly surprised to not find any new gifts leaning against his door. His surprise was short-lived, however.
Stacked in the center of the kitchen table were a variety of solid wood pieces, in various sizes and wood types. They were stacked in a vaguely Christmas tree shape. Xander stepped closer and picked up a piece near the top of the stack. It was rectangular, about three inches thick, and made from some type of oak.
He looked up from the table and stared in bewilderment at Spike who was sitting on top of the kitchen counter, an odd look on his face.
“You did this?” Xander asked in confusion, setting the wood down and moving towards the vampire. “Why?”
Spike shrugged as if it didn’t mean anything. “I thought it might keep you out of trouble.” He hopped off of the counter. “It doesn’t mean I like you or anything.”
“Really?” Xander said, stepping even closer. “That’s a pity, I was kind of looking forward to thanking you properly, but if you don’t even like me…”
“Well, let’s not be hasty.” Spike said, grabbing a hold of Xander’s wrist as he moved away. “It’s only good manners to say thank you properly.”
Xander let Spike pull him closer until their chests were brushing. “What do you know about good manners?” He whispered, his lips close enough to Spike’s that his warm breath puffed out over the vampire’s lips.
The kiss was slow and not entirely unexpected. They’d been dancing around one another for longer than either of them wanted to admit to.
“Thanks,” Xander whispered when he pulled away to breathe.
“Happy Yule,” Spike whispered back.