maryperk73703: (The Void)
[personal profile] maryperk73703
The main attraction has arrived.



Chapter 4

Christmas Eve 5:30 pm

The Summers women were ready for their friends to arrive. Dawn turned on the radio to the station playing Christmas music. She danced around the living room, singing under her breath while she waited for Janice to show up.

Buffy was teasing Joyce about her new beau Brian that she'd met at her book club. "He isn't going to be bringing any African tribal masks is he?"

Joyce laughed. "One time. You're never going to let me forget that are you?"

"Never. That's my job and I take it very seriously," Buffy said with a laugh.

The doorbell rang. Buffy went to answer it. She smiled when she saw that it was Willow and Tara, their arms laden with gifts and food.

"We thought we'd open our gifts here with you guys," Willow said. "My parents are in Vegas for the holiday. So, it's just us."

Buffy nodded. "Sure, no problem. Here let me take something." She reached out to take a shopping bag of presents from Willow. Then, she directed Tara to the kitchen with the food.

After Willow and Buffy had settled the presents under the tree, the doorbell rang again. This time it was Xander and Anya who were also bearing gifts and food.

"My mom and dad are in Vegas like Willow's. Although I'm sure the reason why mine are there is far different than the reason why hers are there," Xander announced.

"Drinking and gambling?" Buffy asked. She knew the older Harris' history of drunkenness.

"You betcha." Xander stepped into the foyer. "The tree in the living room."

Buffy nodded. "Food goes into the kitchen," she said to Anya.

"My parents have been dead for over a thousand years, just in case anyone was wondering," Anya replied as she brushed past Buffy. "I never celebrated Christmas as a vengeance demon."

"Oh, well, that's no fun. I guess that means that you don't know any of the Christmas movies we're going to watch later?" Buffy asked.

"Oh yes, last year, Xander and I watched Die Hard and Die Hard 2."

Buffy laughed. "Those aren't really considered Christmas movies. Don't worry. You stick with us Summers gals and we'll have you all up to date on holiday movies." She called towards the living room. "Hey, Dawn, Anya hasn't seen any of the movies."

Dawn's head popped out the living room door. She chuckled maniacally. "Fresh meat."

"Why don't you get Anya started while I take this to the kitchen." Buffy took the plate of food from Anya's hands. "Start with something short like 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'."

By the time Buffy had delivered the plate of goodies to the kitchen, the doorbell had rang yet again. This time it was Giles and Janice, arriving separately but at the same time. Buffy stepped out onto the porch to wave at Mrs. Penshaw to let the woman know that everything was all right.

"Hey, Janice. Dawn's in the living room educating Anya on Christmas movies." Buffy fell back to the story that they usually told to explain Anya's strange lack of knowledge of modern things. "Guess the circus folk are too busy to watch movies."

"Cool cookies," Janice drawled. She sauntered off towards the living room.

"Mom's in the kitchen, Giles." Buffy glanced past the Watcher to see a man she didn't recognized coming up the walkway with a bag from Pascel's Pit, the sandwich shop in one hand and a box from Hassib's Donuts in the other. "You must be Brian."

"I am," the man said. "I'm Brian Miller. Joyce invited me?"

"Mom's in the kitchen with the food." Buffy pointed towards the back of the house. "If you brought presents, they go in the living room with the tree."

"Thanks."

Buffy ushered Giles and Brian into the house. She wasn't expecting anyone else. So, she was surprised when there was a knock at the door. Buffy moved to answer the door again, unsure of who else was supposed to show up. She opened the door.

"Hello, Slayer."

Buffy felt her jaw drop. "Spike?"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Spike sauntered up the walk to the front door of the Summers home. He knew there was a chance that even with all the good things he'd been doing for Buffy and her family that he'd still get a punch in the nose.

Spike knocked on the door. He heard Buffy make her way across the foyer to answer it.

"Hello, Slayer." Spike watched the surprise flit across Buffy's face.

"Spike?"

"Who's at the door, honey?" Joyce asked from behind Buffy. "I thought everyone was here already?"

"Uh, it's a surprise guest," Buffy answered. She stepped aside when Joyce joined her at the entryway.

Joyce's face lit up when she saw who her daughter was talking about. "William!"

Spike nodded his head in a respectful manner. "Merry Christmas, Joyce," he said.

"We certainly wasn't expecting you, but the more the merrier my mother always said," Joyce commented. She stepped back to gesture Spike's welcome into the Summers home.

Spike raised an eyebrow at Buffy before he stepped through the door. He was vaguely surprised when he discovered there was no barrier keeping him out. The Slayer hadn't revoked his invitation. He hadn't been sure about it. So, he'd sent Clem into the house with the gifts for the best women, outside of his own mother, that he'd ever met in his life.

Buffy had no idea what to say to the vampire. She was a little worried she'd blurt out something about the dream they might have shared.

When Spike got close to Joyce, he tilted his head in a questioning manner. "Are you feeling all right, Joyce?"

"I do have a little headache, but I just had surgery. I'm fine." Joyce touched her forehead. "I'll just take a couple more aspirin."

Spike turned to Buffy. "It's more than a little headache. I don't know how I know, but I do, Slayer. You need to get your Mom to the hospital right away. There's something wrong."

"Are you sure?" Buffy licked her lips while she looked back and forth between her mom and Spike.

"Yes. I'm sure."

"It's just a headache," Joyce protested.

Buffy shook her head. "Better safe than sorry, Mom. It's just a little check up."

"I too would feel better if you went." Brian strolled down the hallway towards the group still in the foyer. "You had a headache yesterday at the book club. I'm concerned."

"Okay, we're off to the ER." Buffy hustled around getting her mother's purse and coat. "Brian, could you drive Mom to the hospital? Spike and I will meet you there."

Brian took Joyce's coat and purse. "I'd be happy to." He ushered Joyce out the door and towards his car.

"Giles? We're going to meet Mom and Brian at the hospital," Buffy called out. "Can you watch Dawn for me?"

"Of course, Buffy." Giles came down the hall from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a dish towel. He raised an eyebrow when he saw Spike. "You're back."

"So it appears, Watcher," Spike drawled.

"We'll be fine, Buffy. I won't leave until either your mother or yourself is back home."

Dawn stepped out of the living room. "You're taking Mommy to the hospital. Is she okay?" Her voice was tinged with fear.

"She's got a headache. Brian is taking her in his car, and we'll be meeting her there." Buffy stepped towards her sister. "We just want to make sure that there isn't a problem. I'll call when I have some news."

"We?" Dawn asked in a confused voice. She glanced past Buffy to where Spike was standing. "Spike? You're back?"

Spike gave a self-conscious wave. "Hey, Nibblet. You've grown since I've seen you."

"Spike's going to drive me to the hospital," Buffy told Dawn.

Dawn pulled Buffy into a hug. "Okay. I'll be waiting for your call."

Spike and Buffy were out of the house and into Spike's Desoto in just a few minutes. Buffy noticed how clean the interior of the car appeared, and it smelled like polish.

"Your car is nice," Buffy said to break the silence.

Spike glanced at Buffy. "Yeah, it's my baby. I won her in a poker game years ago. Clem kept her in good shape for me. I had some issues when I left Sunnydale."

"The chip," Buffy stated. She nibbled on her lower lip for a moment. "I had a dream a couple of weeks ago that involved you."

Spike wiggled his eyebrows in a suggestive manner. "So, you've been dreamin' about the ole Spike have you, Slayer?"

"Not like that," Buffy said with a roll of her eyes. "You're such a perv. It wasn't a dream like that. It was more like a Slayer dream. There was a bunch of you. I recognized the one that was in the wheelchair and the one with the chip, but the ones with a soul ..." she trailed off when Spike gave her a horrified look.

"You saw that? The future Spike with the kids?"

Buffy nodded. "Uh, yeah. The Dream Buffy warned me about Glory. What did you get warned about?"

"Nothing," Spike declared. He looked at Buffy out of the corner of his eye. "Why would you think I was warned about something?"

"Just seemed like that kind of dream," Buffy said with a shrug. "So, where have you been for the last year?"

It was Spike's turn to shrug. He kept his eyes on the road, and when, they finally got to a stop light, he spoke. "I went to get the chip out."

"Oh." Buffy looked down at her hands. She'd come to terms fairly quickly about Spike's love and the soul. This hadn't been an option she'd considered. "Does that mean we're back to being enemies again?" she asked in a small sad voice.

"No," Spike said. He clutched the steering wheel until his knuckles were whiter than normal. "Absolutely not. At first, yeah, maybe. I wasn't too thrilled to find out about the whole soddin' soul. Thought I could go back to being what I was before. Full of bashin' and slashin'. Guess the Powers That Be have other plans." He drove forward when the light turned green.

"You ended up with the soul anyway," Buffy stated.

"Always knew you were the smart one, Slayer."

"Is the chip gone?" Buffy refused to look at Spike. She didn't want to see any denial on his face. It was too soon after Riley's bullshit for her to be able to take rejection in any form.

"Yes." Spike's answer was short and concise.

"Oh." Buffy didn't know what to say. "You didn't need to come back. You were free to do whatever you want."

Spike shook his head. "No, I wasn't free, Slayer. The dream wasn't wrong about my lovin' you. It just got me to admit the truth to m'self. I've probably loved you since I first laid eyes on you."

"In the alley behind the Bronze?"

"Nah, luv. Inside the Bronze while you were dancin' with your friends. Bright as the noonday sun."

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