DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet LXVI.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy and Spike have come to an agreement about Christmas and are going to Los Angeles for the holiday as their gifts to themselves and from everyone…

*************

Chapter 37: Maiden Virtue Rudely Strumpeted

The first few days were fun. Los Angeles wasn’t exactly the home of Buffy’s best memories, but a lot had happened since the last time she’d been there, and she was determined that this trip was going to grind all the others to dust. She had Spike; she had spending money; and she didn’t have anybody looking over her shoulder, telling her what she could and couldn’t do. Life was good.

Spike was amazingly good. Oh, sure, the car ride to LA had been slightly on the tense side, and even after they’d arrived at the hotel, he’d spent just a little too long out on the balcony smoking his cigarettes. But, as soon as they hit the first club and the driving beats of the stuff he called music filled the air, his tension evaporated. They were out until all hours that night, only dragging back to their room minutes before the sun came up, and he’d fucked her twice before Buffy could even get into the shower to wash away the sweat and smoke. It was too feral to be whitewashed with nicer terms like “making love,” and she’d spent the entire time under the spray amazed at how unleashed he’d been. He very rarely displayed that side any longer, not with her advancing pregnancy. It made for a wonderful change.

When she’d crawled into bed beside his naked form, ready for another go if he wanted one, though, Spike had just spooned up behind her, his hands resting possessively on her stomach.

“Thanks, luv,” he’d murmured, half-asleep.

She’d smiled. Hearing him so content and feeling his devotion so proudly around her middle was the best gift he could’ve given her.

She learned a lot in the days running up until Christmas, or at least, she heard a lot. Names like Sid and Joey and Mick and Vanian were all it took to start vehement arguments, sometimes erupting in full-blown fights, and Buffy quickly discerned that Sid and Joey were the two Spike was particularly passionate about. Mere mention of them turned him on like a light switch, and he’d often go for hours with whoever brought them up. She tried to contribute in the beginning, but quickly stopped when it became obvious she was in over her head. So, she settled for just watching, trying to dance, and taking pleasure in the fact that Spike seemed to genuinely be enjoying himself.

Though there was more to it all than the music, that was all Buffy saw. Spike seemed to take extra pains to keep her as apart from the drugs and alcohol as he could, even resorting to actually leaving early the second night when things got particularly dark. She didn’t press. He was protecting her and Schmoo the only way he knew how; not everyone who showed up at the revival cared about the welfare of the pregnant girl wandering around like a lost puppy. It was a grateful balance they carried.

Until Christmas Eve.

That’s when the trip took a definite turn for the weird.

*************

The jarring ring of the telephone startled Buffy, the black eyeliner in her hand jagging crookedly across her face. “Damn it,” she muttered with a grimace. Putting on her make-up would’ve been tons easier in the bathroom, but the mirrors in there were still all steamy from the hour-long shower she and Spike had taken. Note to self, she thought as she tossed aside the pencil. Insist on separate showers when I have to get ready to go out afterwards.

“Want me to get it, luv?” Spike called out from the bathroom. The lack of proper mirrors meant nothing to him. Lucky jerk.

“No, I’ve got it.” Picking up the phone, she cradled it in her shoulder as she reached for a tissue to wipe off the black smear. “Hello?”

“Buffy. Thank god you’re still there.”

She frowned. “Mom? What’s wrong?”

“Are you sitting down?”

“No. Should I be?”

Spike wandered in from the bathroom, running his fingers through his hair to mess it into coarse curls. “Something goin’ on back home?” he asked.

“I’m about to find out,” Buffy said.

“No, nothing’s going on here,” her mom replied. There was a pause. “Now.”

Her impatience with the conversation grew. “What happened?” she demanded. “Is it demon-y or Christmas-y?”

“It’s…Angel-y. Are you sitting down? You know it’s not good for you to be standing too long on your feet at this stage---.”

With a frustrated sigh, Buffy plopped down on the edge of the bed. “Spill, Mom. What about Angel?”

At the mention of the other vampire’s name, Spike stilled, his eyes automatically going to Buffy’s exposed stomach. The black top she wore left very little to the imagination, and it had taken all his best wheedling to convince her to wear it out in public. But it had helped her blend in with the rest of the punk crowd, even though Buffy had felt self-conscious about it the first night.

“He called here about ten minutes ago looking for you,” her mom said. “I tried being evasive about where you were, but he started going on about visions, and you being in danger, and---.”

“You didn’t.” Buffy’s muscles froze. “Please tell me you didn’t.”

“I did. I’m sorry. It just came out.”

She expelled a long breath. “So when should I be expecting him on my doorstep?” she asked. “Do I have time to run and hide?”

The mattress shifted behind her as Spike climbed onto the bed. Situating himself so that she was sitting between his legs, he curled his arm around her stomach and pulled her gently back against his chest.

“He did say something dangerous was going to happen.” Her mom was backpeddling. With a sinking feeling, Buffy realized that she was actually trying to encourage the meeting. “And it’s already dark. Depending on where he was when he called---.”

A sharp knock at the door made both Buffy and Spike jump. “I’m going to say he was close,” she said, looking at the closed door. “Thanks for the heads up, Mom.”

“I guess it was more of a head peeking. I’m sorry, honey.”

“That’s OK. Merry Christmas.”

She said it with more enthusiasm than she felt, hanging up the phone without really hearing the repeated greeting on the other end of the line. Spike held her possessively against him, his mouth just a breath away from her ear.

“Could just do a runner,” he whispered. “We’re only a few floors up. It wouldn’t be that big of a drop.” She felt him smile. “Better yet, we answer the door and toss Peaches out the window instead.”

“And that would accomplish what exactly?”

“Makin’ me feel good. And pissing Angel off. Two very important goals in my life.”

Another knock came, this one harder. “Buffy!” Angel called out. “I know you’re in there. Open up. We need to talk.”

“Where’s a bolt of lightning when you need it?” Buffy muttered. Rising from the bed, she took a deep breath, smoothing down her top to hide as much of her pregnancy as she could, and then rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. It was like trying to hide a buffalo underneath a tea cozy. There was no way Angel wasn’t going to immediately notice.

She steeled her nerves as she turned the handle on the door. She could do this. She was the Slayer, and he was just---.

“Oh, my god, you’re Santa Claus!” Buffy exclaimed.

Or a very near approximation of it, at least.

He was dressed in a red velvet suit, the black belt cinched tightly around his waist. Though the costume wasn’t padded, it did come with a hat pulled low over his ears, and a white beard that dangled from one of his hands. Over his shoulder was slung a bulky sack, but the sight of a sword hilt peeking from its gathered top hinted to Buffy that it didn’t necessarily contain any toys.

His eyes widened at the same time hers did, sweeping over her mini skirt and high-heeled boots before coming back to rest on her stomach.

“That’s a baby,” he blurted. His gaze flew back to her face. “You have a baby.”

“And you have the Christmas spirit,” she countered. “Though, technically, Schmoo’s still considered a fetus until it’s actually born, and you’re a little lacking in the jelly belly to be a real Santa.”

“Your mom…I called, but…she didn’t…” He seemed to be at a loss for words, frowning for a long moment. “Did you say Schmoo?”

“Forgot what a savant you could be,” Spike drawled from behind her. Buffy felt him round the corner that hid the main part of the room from the suite door, and chewed at her lip when he boldly leaned against the wall at her side, staring Angel down with a disdainful gaze. “’Course, seems to be more of the idiot variety these days---.”

“Spike,” Angel growled. Dropping the sack, he launched himself forward to pin the smaller vampire to the wall. “What the hell have you…?”

When he stopped and pointedly sniffed at the air, Buffy knew the jig was up.

“Let him go,” she said evenly. She stepped between them and deliberately pried Angel’s fingers away from Spike’s bare biceps, wishing that this one time, Spike hadn’t opted for the safety pin-riddled tank that he was so fond of wearing to the punk shows. The black eyeliner didn’t help his credibility, either, and even though the whole look had gotten her hot on more than one occasion over the past few days, right now, it was just getting in the way of resolving the issue with Angel.

“Are you going to tell me what the hell’s going on here?” Angel demanded. “I was on my way to go save some orphaned kids when Cordy calls to tell me she’s had a vision that you’ve been infected by some demon that’s made you balloon into Shamu---.”

“Hey! I haven’t gained that much weight!”

“---but when I call your mom to find out what’s going on, she tells me not only are you in LA but that you’re most likely fine because Spike is with you.” The look he shot the other vamp was venomous. “What’re you planning, Spike?” he demanded. “Where’s Drusilla?”

“He’s not planning anything---.”

“Since when do you bloody care where Dru is?”

Angel wasn’t listening. In spite of Buffy’s placement between them, he jabbed a finger into Spike’s shoulder. “No more second chances,” he warned. “I mean it this time. I’m---ow!”

The force of Buffy throwing Angel back into the hall made the walls shake and Spike grin. “Maybe you should toddle off to your little reindeer and make nice-nice with the kiddies,” he advised to the downed vampire. “Me and Buffy have a prior engagement---.”

You and Buffy?” All too quickly, Angel was back on his feet, and Buffy had to put herself in the doorway to prevent him from taking another swipe at Spike. “Since when is there a you and Buffy? Since when is there even a you?”

“Since a lot of stuff has happened after you left Sunnydale,” she shot back before Spike could say a word. She held up a warning finger. “Don’t you dare start laying claim to anything that’s going on in my life, Angel. You gave up that right when you walked away.”

“Leaving didn’t mean I stopped caring,” he replied. “I’ll always love you. You know that.”

“Yeah, well, you’re not exactly tops on her Christmas card list this year, now are you, pops? Or else, Buffy would’ve made sure you knew about our little---.”

“Spike!” Her head was spinning from the gibes going back and forth. Rubbing a hand over her eyes, Buffy took a deep breath, ready to divulge the one detail she was pretty sure her mother hadn’t shared with Angel.

A muffled ring from somewhere in the region of Angel’s hips stopped her from speaking. As if on cue, three sets of eyes swiveled to stare at the vampire’s red velvet crotch before Spike pulled sharply enough on her arm to break Buffy’s gaze.

“Hang on,” Angel said, reaching into his pants pocket to pull out a small cell phone. “Yeah? What is it, Cordy?”

Spike ignored the unexpected conversation taking place in the hall and tugged Buffy closer against him. “Let me be the one to tell him,” he pleaded, his tone low. “I want to see the look on the wanker’s face---.”

“No,” she whispered back. “This is going to be hard enough as it is for him to accept, and if we want to have any hope at all of keeping the peace after we get back to Sunnydale, you’ll let me take care of it.”

His face fell. “That’s what you keep sayin’, but I’m still not seein’ it.”

“Well, take a good look, Spike.” She waved toward the doorway. “It doesn’t get any more obvious than Santa showing up on your front step.”

The snap of the cell being closed made both of them look back to Angel. “I have to get going,” he said, though it was obvious from the tone of his voice that leaving was the last thing he wanted to do. “Things are getting sticky down at the orphanage. Cordy says I don’t have much time left to help the kids.”

The mention of children in peril was all it took for Buffy to snap out of her self-involvement. “Do you need help?” she asked.

Angel frowned, glancing at her bare stomach and then looking away, as if he was embarrassed for having been seen looking at it in the first place. “Maybe not this time,” he said. “In your condition---.”

Her jaw dropped. “In my condition,” she said, indignant, “I managed to kick your ass out of here, so maybe that’s a sentence you don’t want to be finishing, Angel.”

“I just meant---.”

“I know what you meant. And I’ll have you know that I’m still patrolling, thank you very much. I’m pregnant. I’m not an invalid.” She grabbed her leather jacket and marched out of the room before either vampire could stop her. “Let’s go.”

“Now, hold up, Buffy,” Spike said. He started to follow after her, but was brought up short when she whirled on her heel to face him, her arms folded across her full chest as she waited for him to speak. “Not that I’m agreeing with Angel, but maybe he’s got a point. You don’t need to be tearin’ in there. You don’t even know what it is he’s goin’ to be facin’.”

Without saying a word, Buffy turned her level gaze to Angel. After a long moment under her unblinking scrutiny, he sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Bunch of Bhryll demons, setting up a human sacrifice to raise some dead war spirit,” he said. “Nothing fancy or exciting.”

“But they’re planning on using the kids in the orphanage for their sacrifice?” Buffy asked.

Another begrudging pause. “Yes.”

“I’m going.”

“So’m I.”

Angel jerked his head up at Spike’s announcement. Buffy would’ve sworn she could actually hear the hard snap. “I’m not letting you anywhere near those orphans,” he said, his tone menacing. “Don’t think I haven’t forgotten what you did to those kids in Abergavenny.”

“That was a long time ago, mate.” Spike lifted his chin in pride. “I’m a new man now.”

“You’re not a man at all.”

“More of one than you, I’d wager. How’re your little swimmers doin’? Mine have been doin’ laps around the---.”

“Enough!” Inwardly, Buffy was cringing at the crudity of Spike’s words, hating how he always got so defensive around the men he felt threatened by. She turned to Angel. “If Spike wants to help, he’s helping. You can trust him. I promise you that.”

His mouth opened to protest, but an insistent ring from his lower regions made him snarl in frustration instead. “I’m going, Cordy!” he growled into the phone once he’d retrieved it from his pocket again. “I don’t care if they paid in advance!” A pause. “I am not cranky!”

“Someone’s knickers are all in a twist,” Spike said casually when Angel snapped his phone shut.

“Leave my knickers out of this.” He held up a warning finger, though his eyes jumped between both Buffy and Spike. “I know Spike’s up to something, and I think this is a huge mistake, but I don’t have time to argue with you about it right now. Cordy’s going to be a big enough headache when I get back as it is.”

“Spike’s not up to anything except wanting to help.”

“Save it. I’ve got a human sacrifice to stop. But as soon as this is all over, Buffy, you’re going to tell me what the hell is going on here.”

Whirling on his heel, Angel stormed off down the hallway, not looking back to see if the others were following.

Spike stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Well, this is goin’ to be a jolly Christmas Eve,” he remarked.

Buffy sighed. The only plus side to this whole situation was that she’d get to beat up a few demons before having the “talk” with Angel. Just maybe that would be enough to keep her from killing either of the vampires who loved her.

*************

When the monsters stormed the cafeteria of the orphanage, Lisa was scared.

When they grabbed her and a bunch of other kids and dragged her off to the administrator’s office to tie her to the desk, Lisa was scared.

But when Santa came crashing through the door, sporting snarling fangs and yellow eyes, and then ripped off the head of the first monster he saw, without even looking like it was very hard to do, Lisa was terrified.

She screamed. As loud as she could. And when it choked in her throat because she ran out of breath to hold it, she sucked in more air and started screaming again.

A figure loomed at her side, and warm fingers clamped over her mouth.

“Do you have any idea how annoying that is?” a woman complained.

The ropes that bound Lisa to the desk fell away. Turned her head, she saw her rescuer shift her attention to the others that were tied up around the room. Lisa’s eyes widened at the sight of the woman’s tummy, but then a figure in black blocked her view and she had to sit up in order to continue watching.

“Spike!” the pregnant lady called. “Get them out of here!”

The man in black straightened from where he’d been driving a knife through one of the monsters, letting the dead body fall to the floor. “Right,” he said. But when he twisted to grab Lisa, and she saw the fangs and yellow eyes on his face, too---was he wearing make-up?---she couldn’t help but start screaming at the top of her lungs again.

“Bloody hell,” she heard him mutter. “Thanks a lot, Peaches,” he called back over his shoulder. It looked like he was talking to Santa, who didn’t look all too happy about being interrupted. “You couldn’t have saved a Helen Keller society instead?”

“Sorry to inconvenience you, Spike!” Santa barked.

“We don’t have time for this!” the woman shouted. One of the monsters had turned its attention to her, and she was fluidly avoiding the swings from its meaty paws. “You two can whip ‘em out later. I’ll even measure them for you. Right now…” She ducked another blow, darting around to drive her heel into the small of the monster’s back. “…just save these kids!”

Spike seemed to accept the orders without question, but when he scooped Lisa up in his arms, she immediately began to struggle against the vise of his grip, trying to get free. Her foot slipped from his hold, and she drove it into his crotch. She knew it would hurt. Darren Lovelace always screamed like a baby when she did it to him, but that’s what he got for calling her a four-eyed sissy girl.

“Oi!” Spike growled as he jumped over the dead body of the monster he’d killed. “Tryin’ to save you! Least you could do is not bruise the goods here.”

“Let me go! You’re going to eat me, and then Santa’s going to eat me, and I don’t want to die or get eaten!”

He kicked open the door of an adjacent room and dropped her unceremoniously to the ground. “Can’t eat you twice,” he said. “And Santa’s on a diet anyway. Tryin’ to lose those extra ten pounds he’s got in his forehead.”

The joke took her by surprise, but it didn’t stop the question from tumbling out of her mouth anyway. “Are you going to eat me?” Lisa asked.

As she watched, his face smoothed, the fangs receding and his eyes warming to a soft blue. He looked normal now. Well, except for the make-up. She wondered if anybody called Spike a sissy girl for wearing it. “Now why would I want to go and do that?” he asked.

“Because…that’s what you do?”

“Not any more, pet.”

“You mean, you’re a good guy?”

He nodded, and then placed a finger over his lips, asking her without words to keep it a secret. “Just don’t be spreadin’ that around too far,” he said. “Got a reputation to protect.”

The grin he flashed her made her smile, too. Lisa scrambled to her feet when he ran back to the other room. She didn’t want to go back to where all the scary stuff was happening, but when Spike returned with two more kids tucked beneath his arms, she asked, “Is Mrs. Claus going to have a baby?”

Something about her question made him mad, and he leaned down until his face was just inches from hers. “That’s not Mrs. Claus,” he said. “And the little bun in the oven is mine, not St. Nick’s, got it? Don’t go tellin’ anyone any different now.”

She froze when she saw Santa looming in the doorway. The fangs and golden eyes were gone now, but blood streaked his cheeks and there was a glower on his face that meant he was still cranky.

“The baby’s yours?” Santa said, his voice tight.

Spike straightened, throwing his shoulders back as he faced off with the other man. “Yeah. Your nose must be goin’ in your old age. I would’ve thought you’d’ve sniffed it out long before this.”

“It’s not possible. Vampires can’t have children.”

“Wasn’t a vampire when it happened.”

That seemed to throw Santa, but when the pregnant lady appeared behind him, his face softened, his gaze moving to her, ignoring Spike completely again.

“The last one’s officially toast,” she announced. Her weary smile faltered when she saw the look on Santa’s face. “What’s wrong?”

He didn’t speak. He just placed his bloody hand flat against her stomach. After a moment, his shoulders sagged. “You didn’t tell me Spike was the father,” Santa said quietly. “Why would you keep something like that a secret, Buffy? I’m starting to think I don’t know you at all any more.”

Her face closed, though there was sadness in her eyes. “I told you a lot had changed since you left, Angel.”

Lisa turned a confused face to Spike. “Santa’s an angel?”

“Not really,” he replied, though the soft tone of his voice was devoid of any sarcasm.

The woman named Buffy looked past Santa to Spike, and the silence that passed between them practically filled the room. Finally, Spike nodded.

“Go on,” he said. “I’ll take care of the rugrats and finish the clean up.”

He didn’t speak again until the pair was gone, but then the words that came from his mouth were subdued. Lisa waited until she was safely ensconced back in her room before talking to him again.

“What are you?” she asked quietly. “Are you really a vampire like Santa said?”

“Yeah, niblet,” he replied, his tone matching hers. “But like I said, I’m not goin’ to eat you.”

“Is the lady a vampire, too?”

“No, she’s one of the good guys.” He turned his back on her, hiding his face as he headed back to the door.

“But doesn’t that make you one of the good guys, too?”

He paused in the doorway, his fingers pale where they clutched the jamb. “S’pose it might look that way.”

Lisa nodded, suddenly certain of it. “I think you are,” she announced. “Which is good because daddies should always be good guys.”

When he glanced back at her, his eyes were bleak. “It’s a good theory,” he said, and then he nodded. “Merry Christmas, pet.”

“Merry Christmas, Spike.”

The door closed behind him. As she settled herself to sleep, Lisa made a silent wish that the pregnant lady had a merry Christmas, too. For Spike’s sake.

*************

He waited in the car for Buffy to emerge from the orphanage. Flicking the ash of his third cigarette out the window, Spike replayed the evening’s events to try and figure out if there was something that had happened that could come back and bite him in the ass. He didn’t think so. He’d played by Buffy’s rules, gone in and helped save the day. It wasn’t his fault that the little girl with the banshee lungs had mistaken the baby for Angel’s. Buffy could hardly hold it against him for wanting to set the paternity straight. And it certainly wasn’t his fault that Angel was lurking around the kiddies when there were nasties in the next room to polish off. If his feelings got hurt, it was his own bloody fault.

Still.

Spike knew that that wasn’t how Buffy had wanted Angel to find out. For her sake, Spike wished that he could’ve changed how the scene had played out.

He was about to light up his fourth cigarette when the front door of the building opened and a sloped-shouldered Slayer exited. Her top was torn, barely covering her front, and there was a nasty gash across her cheek where one of the Bhrylls had taken a swipe at her. Still, to his eyes, she glowed with a resilience that always stole his metaphorical breath when they walked away from a fight. In a flash, Spike was out of the car and halfway across the lot to stand at her side.

“Where’s the poof?” he asked warily, shooting a glance back at the silent orphanage.

“On the phone with Cordy,” she replied. “I guess there’s some paperwork stuff she’s trying to get him to take care of with the administrator as long as he’s here.”

Spike rested his hand on the small of her back, guiding her toward the car. His palms itched from the desire to take her hand in his, but Buffy had stuffed them into her coat pockets and seemed to have no inclination to remove them, lost in thoughts he wasn’t privy to. It was maddening, even more so because he knew there was nothing he could do about it.

“He’s disappointed in me,” she said out of the blue. Her gaze remained forward, her voice calm. “He thinks I’m screwing up my life by keeping Schmoo.”

Something inside Spike twisted at the casual mention of an abortion. “He also thought he was doin’ you a good thing by walkin’ away last spring,” he said, fighting to keep his tone neutral.

“He did.” When he looked at her in surprise, the corner of Buffy’s mouth lifted sadly. “If Angel hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have gone to England, and none of the rest of it would’ve happened. I wouldn’t have met you when you were William, and you wouldn’t have come back to Sunnydale, and we wouldn’t be having Schmoo together. When you think about it, everything we have is because of Angel.” She chuckled. “He really wasn’t happy to hear that theory.”

“S’pose not,” he murmured. It didn’t exactly thrill him, either.

“I’m just glad it’s done,” Buffy continued. “I don’t have this huge thing hanging over me any more. Do you know how tiring it is worrying about that kind of stuff all the time? And try doing it pregnant. Not of the fun.”

“Is that it, then?” They reached the passenger side of the car, and Spike stepped around to force her to look at him. “He’s not goin’ to show up on our doorstep, tryin’ to muck up what we’ve got?”

His fear must’ve shown in his eyes, because Buffy’s face softened, and her hand lifted to cup the side of his face. “He promised to behave,” she said. “I had to promise him sexual favors for the next two years, but---.”

“What?”

She immediately started laughing at the panicked anger in his voice. “I’m kidding. Lighten up, Spike. It’s all good, really. Angel knows, the world didn’t end, and Schmoo hasn’t kicked me since we got here. Plus, it’s Christmas Eve and we just made the holidays a whole bunch merrier for a group of orphans. Life is good. Let’s just enjoy it, OK?”
After brushing a faint kiss across his mouth, Buffy slid into the car, waiting for Spike to join her. It took a minute of his standing there, holding her door handle, before she poked her head back out.

“Don’t tell me I’ve stunned you into speechlessness,” she said.

He bristled at the mocking tone in her words. “Hardly,” Spike replied. “Just waiting for the other shoe to drop.” His thoughts were a whirlwind as he went around to the driver’s door and slid into the seat beside her. Buffy surprised him by being there, pressing into his side, her breasts hot against his arm as she devoured his mouth with hers.

“The worst part is over now,” she whispered when she broke away. Her eyes gleamed in the silvery moonlight streaming in through the windshield. “Angel doesn’t like it, but I told him the same thing I told you. He’s not a part of my life any more. He doesn’t get a say about who I love, or who I imagine my future with. There is no other shoe, Spike. There’s just you. You’re completely shoed.”

He couldn’t help but smile at her casual destruction of the English language, though he had to admit that the relief coursing through him at her choice of words helped his mood as well. He kissed her again, tearing free from it before she expected, and then settled back behind the steering wheel.

“I don’t really want to go out to the club tonight,” he said, turning the key in the ignition. “Do you?”

“Oh, thank god,” Buffy exclaimed. She leaned her head heavily back against her seat. “I was dreading the thought of all that noise and all those bodies. No offense, but some of the people there really need to learn that soap is their friend.” She sighed. “Oh, that sounds like heaven right about now. A hot shower and a warm bed.”

“What about your own bed?”

“Huh?”

Spike navigated the Thunderbird away from the curb, aiming it in the direction of the hotel. “You heard me. Fancy wakin’ up Christmas morning back in the Summers homestead with that bloody pig tucked under your chin?”

“But…what about our holiday? And the music?” Confusion darkened her face. “Aren’t you having fun?”

Reaching across, he took her hand in his and brought it to his lips, pressing a soft kiss to its palm. “Had a bleedin’ wonderful time, luv. But truth be told, I don’t particularly relish the notion of Angel pokin’ his nose around when we’re practically in his back yard. And I know you’d much rather be around your mum and the others tomorrow. You were right. Christmas should be about family.”

He was rewarded with her arms thrown tightly around his neck, her mouth peppering kisses on every bare inch of his skin that it could find. It took all his concentration not to run the car off the road, but Spike decided it was worth it. He’d had his Christmas.

Now, it was time to give Buffy hers.

 

To be continued in Chapter 38: The Cause of This Fair Gift