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Christmas comes early by Lilachigh
Chp 1

The tension round the table was intense. Every pair of eyes was fixed on Xander as he slowly pulled up his shirt and exposed –
“Bloody hell!”
“Eeeuuwww – that’s gross!” Dawn’s voice reached a scale unheard by humans before and a demon quietly doing his Christmas shopping on the other side of Sunnydale, shook his head to clear the ringing in his ears.
Xander’s podgy chest was covered in pink spots. He dabbed ineffectually at them. “Oh god, Willow. I’ve been demonized. Something’s got at me. Get rid of them! Quick!”
Anya leant forward, her eyes bright with interest. “They’re not demonic,” she pronounced.
Buffy looked up from present wrapping, trying to unstick her fingers from the tape, wishing Spike wouldn’t stand so close behind her. He’d only been invited round because Dawn was sulking about him not being asked to their Christmas dinner.
“You’ve got chicken-pox,” she said succinctly. “Go home, Xander – you’re infectious.”
“Too late,” Willow said gloomily. “We’ll all probably catch it now – if you didn’t have it when you were little.”
“I did,” Buffy said happily.
Anya shrugged; it was impossible to remember back that many hundreds of years.
Dawn’s look of growing horror made them all think she’d realised that green energy people could still fall sick.
But it wasn’t the thought of itchy spots that had struck her. “But Xander, you can’t be sick. You’re being Santa Claus for the school’s Christmas Fair.”
“Sorry, Dawnie, there is no way I can sit there in that heavy red outfit and white beard, itching and infectious.”
Dawn looked round wildly. She was in charge of Santa Claus’ grotto and she and Xander had been practising his “Ho, ho, ho,” for weeks.
The witch shook her head. “Small, thin, female and Jewish. I don’t think I’d fool any of the children.”
“Dawn, I’m sorry, but I’m too busy. You’ll just have to ask one of the other girls if their Dad or brother will do it. Perhaps Janice’s father? He’s quite – well – large!”
Dawn nodded unhappily and sank back on her chair, scowling at Xander who was busy scratching. Where on earth was she going to find a man who could be persuaded to wear a long white beard and red costume and let little children sit on his lap…..?

Buffy had forgotten about the Christmas Fair. There had been an explosion of vamps and demons for the past five nights, every one in the highest of holiday spirits – till they met her. She was beginning to feel like a proper killjoy.
She remembered the Fair halfway through the evening and guiltily cut up through the cemetery – for once glad that Spike wasn’t around - across the road, into the High School.
She was amazed at how busy it was. Stalls selling all sorts of Christmas goods were doing a roaring trade. She bought five dreadful Christmas cards, some candy canes and a battered garland that looked a lot like the one that she had made for their front door last Christmas!
There was a long line of teenage girls waiting outside Santa’s Grotto which had been set up in one of the staff offices. As Buffy watched, one girl came out and joined the end of the line again. She whispered in a friend’s ear and they both burst out giggling. Obviously Janice’s Dad had got the whole thing under control.
“Hey, Dawn, this is great!”
“Buffy! You came! I didn’t think you would.” Her little sister looked pleased and – yes, the expression was definitely one of apprehension – all at the same time.
“I wanted to see how you were doing – hey, it’s obviously a success. Oh, hi Janice. Your Dad’s making a good job of being Santa Claus.”
The other girl looked puzzled. “Dad? Oh, yes, he did the little children this afternoon, but Dawn’s friend’s doing the evening session.”
There was a long silence. “Dawn’s friend?” Buffy asked sweetly, her eyes sparkling with disbelief at her sister’s guilty face.
“I don’t know who he is because he’s totally old, probably someone you know, Buffy, but he’s cool and fit. He’s making all the girls laugh. Jeez, some of the things he says!” And she wandered away.
“Dawn!” Buffy breathed, trying to unclench her fists. “You couldn’t – you didn’t – not even you could –? He’s a vampire! OK, chipped, but - ”
“There wasn’t anyone else!” Dawn pouted. “He only has to sit there and say “hello little girl, have you been good this year, what do you want for Christmas?” Then he tells them a joke, gives them a present and they go. It isn’t difficult. Buffy.”
Buffy raced to the top of the line and flipped over the notice that said Open on one side and Closed on the other.
“Santa is going for a rest,” she said brightly, ignoring their groans and moans. “Probably for the rest of his life! Yes, yes, off you all go. Buy some candy, make yourselves sick, enjoy!”
She pushed open the door, slammed it behind her and stood, gazing down at the figure sprawled out on the chair in front of her. The tight jeans and boots hadn’t changed but a red tunic was buttoned up over the black Tshirt and a red hood hid the platinum hair.
Bright blue eyes stared up at her under the shadow of the hood and even through the cottonwool beard she could see the mouth she lov- – hated! – turning up in an evil smile.
“Hello, little girl – ” he patted his legs suggestively. “Would you like to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him all your nasty little secrets.”
“Spike – get out of here! What the hell have you been doing?”
The vampire pushed back the hood and grinned. “Slayer! How nice of you to drop into my grotto. Would you like a kiss from Santa?”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “You haven’t been kissing them? Spike, they’re - they’re teenagers!”
Spike shrugged, unrepentant. He’d been having a really good evening – up until now! All those firm young bodies wriggling about on his lap – no wonder Father Christmas wore baggy trousers! - all those pert breasts pressing against his chest. If he’d had a heart that was still beating, he reckoned he’d have been in intensive care by now!
“You’d be surprised at some of the things they’ve whispered in my ear today. Bloody amazing!. Did you know that the little brunette with big brown eyes has a boyfriend who makes her – ”
“Spike! Take off that outfit and go away!”
The vampire stretched out his legs and tapped his boots together. “Sorry, Slayer,” he said, his eyes sparkling. “I promised Dawn I’d play Father Christmas until ten this evening and I always keep a promise to a lady.”
“Dawn isn’t a lady, she’s a child!”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “So a promise doesn’t count?”
“Yes. No. Yes, of course it does!”
Spike nodded and his expression became angelic. “Then I’m afraid I shall have to stay here until I run out of customers, Slayer. Are you sure you wouldn’t like a lollipop? I’ve got a big one just for you.”
Buffy glared at him. He was enjoying this! And there was nothing she could do. She glanced at her watch. Half past nine. Another half hour before she could drag him out of here.
She reached behind her and turned the key in the lock. Now, at least, no one could get in and put themselves in danger.
She felt quite virtuous. She was protecting the female population of Sunnydale. This was her job, her calling, her mission!
OK, it meant she would have to spend the next thirty minutes with Spike, locked in a small dark room.
She sighed and began to unzip her jeans. Christmas was coming early this year!