“OK, what did you do this time?”
“Me? Why is it my sodding fault?”
“Five reasons, Spike - one, we’re standing here in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night. Two, it’s bitterly cold and I want to go home. Three, it’s Christmas Eve; four, I have a house full of Potentials who are upset because they’re missing their families this holiday and five, I don’t think the First is going to take time off to play Secret Santa.”
“And again I ask, this is my fault because…?”
“You were holding that demon glass funnel thingy Willow found in the antique shop while I was trying to write Christmas cards. You said if you looked through it, whever it was pointing at, that was where you went. You must have had it pointing out of the window.”
“I also said, if you remember, Miss Clever-Clogs, that you had to press the red button on the Szlonbe to make it work. You said it was broken and you were the one who insisted on trying to take it away from me to mend it so we were both holding it.”
Buffy glared, wishing it wasn’t quite so dark because that had been a particularly good glare and it was being wasted in the desert night.
“So have you any idea where we are?”
Spike shrugged. “One bit of desert looks a lot like another to me, pet. There’s sand, stones, lots of nothing.”
Buffy shivered and didn’t pull away when he silently placed the black leather coat round her shoulders. She peered up at the sky. “Wow, the stars look huge out here away from town. Look at that one up there! It’s blinking. I bet it isn’t as star, I bet it’s a satellite. You know, Willow can tell exactly where she is by the stars.”
“Red also has all these neat magic tricks to help her. Pity she wasn’t holding the Szlonbe instead of you.”
“I think that’s East, over there,” Buffy said for no good reason other than she was determined to be in charge.
“We’d better start walking then and if you could manage not to let the coat drag in the dirt, I’d be grateful. And mind the bloody sheep droppings. They’re every bloody where!”
Buffy glared again, but after a few yards, she had somehow managed to slide her arm round his waist and his arm lay heavily across her shoulders.
“Hey, there’s some buildings down there! It’s a village,” she said suddenly as they crested a rise. “And I think I can see a light.”
“Weird looking place, Slayer,” Spike muttered. “Flat roofs. Little doors. Looks sort of foreign.” He stopped, pulling Buffy to a halt. “I’ve got a funny feeling about this. Gives me the creeps. Roswell wasn’t on the telly when you were looking through the Szlonbe, was it?”
Buffy sighed. “Spike, there’s no vamps, demons, or aliens down there. I’d sense them. We’ll be fine. Come on, I want to get indoors out of the cold. And I know someone will be up. I can hear a baby crying.”
They raced each other down the slope as above them the giant star pulsed in the midnight sky and thousands of miles to the West and two millenia away in the future. on a table in a little house in Sunnydale, California, a Christmas card nativity scene shimmered.
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