Popcorn and Cranberries - Part II
By: Highlander II
Category: Angst, Drama
Archive: Please ask.
Rating: PG-13: language
Summary: Christmas fic challenge response. Christmas with the Scoobies.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss Whedon and are property of Kuzui/Kuzui Entertainment, Mutant Enemy Productions, WB, UPN, FOX etc. etc.
Feedback: Highlander II
"Hi, Spike," Dawn called to the leather-clad form leaning against the outside of the crypt, cigarette perched between his lips, bottle of beer in one hand.
"'Lo, Nibblet," he replied around the cigarette.
Dawn took a deep breath. "I, uh, brought you some pie. Anya made it." She held out a plastic container to him.
He plucked the cigarette from his mouth with the hand holding the beer and accepted the container. "Yeah? Thanks."
"Missed you at dinner," she said softly, looking at her feet.
He shrugged and his duster creaked. "Wasn't gonna go."
"I know. Not after…" she trailed off and looked up at his face.
Spike closed his eyes and took a drag from his cigarette. "Come inside, Nibblet. Don't fancy eavesdroppers." He pushed the crypt door open and let her enter first.
"Angel, he hasn't even come to get his gift." Buffy sat on the couch and stared at the Christmas tree with the solitary, foil-wrapped box beneath it.
Angel sat beside her. "I don't see why you're so upset about this. He's never been high on your list, Buffy."
"I know," she said softly. "But today was different. I was there, at his crypt, and it was so beautiful. I can't believe I just said that about a crypt." She took a breath. "Angel, it was… different. Not Spike. Then he got this great gift for Xander for the Pollyanna. I just don't understand, I guess."
"I can't believe I'm going to say this, but Spike does have this ability to do something nice. It's not a trick he often pulls out of the hat, but when he sets his mind on something…"
"He does it right."
Angel nodded and put his hand on Buffy's. "Ever think that you should just accept this for what it is… Spike being in the Christmas spirit."
"As opposed to Spike just trying to look good so I won't kill him?"
Angel smirked. "This goes a little beyond Spike attention getting, Buffy."
"I know that." She sighed and looked at the tree again. "Angel, would you do something for me?"
"You didn't even come by to get your present." Dawn blinked up at him, holding back tears.
He took a long pull from his beer and fell into his chair, tossed the plastic pie container on the table, then looked up at her. "I had a present?"
Dawn smiled. "Yeah. You were part of the Pollyanna, you get a present."
He twitched his eyebrows. "Keep it."
"I didn't draw your name, Spike. But I'll tell who did that you don't want the gift, if you want."
"Yeah. Do that. I don't want it. Don't want that sodding tree. Or the sodding candles. Or the bleeding rug. Take whatever you want. 'Cept the popcorn string. Like that."
Her smile grew wider. "You do?"
"You made it, right?" Dawn nodded. "Big sis didn't help?" He watched Dawn shake her head. "Yeah. Like it."
"You're really angry at her, aren't you?"
"Can we talk about something else?" He drained the rest of his beer.
"Spike, she was really disappointed when you didn't show up for dinner tonight." Dawn was trying; she wanted this resolved. She knew Buffy could be nice and could even be nice to Spike. She also knew Spike had tried; he had put up the Christmas tree and other decorations. Where he found them, she had no idea, but his crypt looked really festive. Then, Buffy screwed everything up with one comment. Dawn looked to the ceiling and noticed the mistletoe was still there. "Hey, Spike."
"Come here." Dawn positioned herself underneath the mistletoe.
Spike pushed himself out of the chair and walked to where she was standing. "What?" Dawn pointed over her head and Spike looked up and sighed. "No."
"Hey, it's like tradition or something, or so Anya says." She smiled at him and grabbed the front of his shirt, tugging him toward her.
"Nibblet," Spike groaned.
"Spike," she snarled back, tugging harder. He relented and let her pull him close. She smiled up at him now. "You know the drill, Big Bad. Kiss me."
He smirked back at her. "You know, Nibblet…" he stopped when she placed a finger over his mouth. "Right. Mistletoe." He lifted her from the ground and she let out a squeak, then he pressed his lips to hers as she wrapped her arms around his neck. It only took a moment before she began kissing back, sliding her fingers into his hair, trying to keep him close. He pulled away and put her back on the ground, but she kept her arms around him. "Nibblet, let go." He tugged gently at her arms until she released him.
"Just thought you'd want something nice for Christmas."
"Thanks. Had something, 'til she took it back."
Dawn sighed. "What did she take back, Spike?"
He glanced toward the tree, then back to the floor, and began digging in his duster for a pack of cigarettes.
"Oh. Yeah. I told her about that."
"Yeah?" Spike asked, raising his head, cigarette in one hand, lighter in the other. "What'd she say?"
Dawn frowned. "Not much really. She was acting different though. Had Angel take down the mistletoe at home."
"Angel," Spike huffed. "Bloody figures."
Dawn sighed. "Do you want me to go?"
Spike lit his cigarette and leaned against the support pillar, thinking. "Buffy was disappointed?"
Blinking rapidly, Dawn gave Spike a confused look. What the hell was he talking about? She thought for a moment, then remembered… "Oh, yeah. She kept watching the door, like she was expecting you to show up. It irritated Angel, if that makes you feel better."
Spike snorted a laugh at her. "Maybe a little. Why, Nibblet?" She gave him another look of confusion. "Why couldn't she just…" He waved it off and took a drag from his cigarette.
"I don't know, Spike, but…" Dawn stopped when she heard the knock at the door.
"Buffy, you gonna be okay?" Willow asked, handing her friend a warm mug of cocoa, then sitting by her on the couch.
Buffy drank a sip from the mug. "Yeah. I guess. I just don't understand."
"You or him?" Willow asked and caught the confusion in Buffy's face. "You don't understand yourself or Spike? What are you more upset about? That he didn't come and ruin your Christmas dinner and give you the satisfaction of throwing him out, or that he didn't come to get your present. Or, is it that he actually did something nice and it's thrown your universe out of whack?"
"I don't know, Will." She set her mug down and lowered her head to her hands. "I just don't know. Everything was going so well. I was sure he was going to show up and make a pain of himself. Then, I saw what he gave Xander for Christmas, and I was sure he was going to show up and surprise the hell out of me by playing nice. But, he didn't do any of that. He just holed up in his crypt and…"
"Surprised the hell out of you in a bad way?" Willow offered.
"Yeah. I don't get him."
"Get the bloody hell out, Angel! Now!" Spike snapped and threw the beer bottle in his hand across the room, missing Angel's head by less than an inch. Dawn shrieked and ducked behind the concrete bier.
Angel whipped around and snarled at the blond vampire. "Are you insane?"
"No. Pissed off. Get out! I'm not going to that sodding house! She can keep her bloody present! And be sure to tell her she's not welcome here!" Spike punctuated his last statement with a fist to Angel's jaw. The broody vampire took the hit, then turned back and caught Spike under the chin, sending him flying across the crypt.
"You can yell at me all you want, Spike, but when you hit me, I hit back." Angel rubbed his knuckles, he had hit Spike harder than he had intended, but the bastard had pissed him off. "I'll tell Buffy to leave you alone. Dawn, I think you'd better come back with me." He extended a hand to the girl, still crouched behind the bier.
Slowly, she rose and walked across the crypt, taking Angel's hand. "I'm sorry, Spike." Then, she turned and left the crypt.
"It's not your fault, Nibblet," Spike mumbled and rubbed his jaw.
"What?" Buffy snapped. "What do you mean he doesn't want to come?" She stopped in the middle of the living room and glared at Angel and Dawn.
"He said he didn't want to come," Angel stated plainly, calmly.
"And what? He decided, instead, to beat you up?" Buffy snarled, pointing at the bruise on Angel's face.
Angel sighed. "No. That was a punctuation mark," he indicated the bruise. "So, I punctuated back. He's fine. I'm fine. Buffy, just leave him alone."
"I agree to host dinner here. I agree to play Pollyanna, even don't object to letting him play. I draw his name, of all the names in the hat and buy him a gift - rather nice one too, by the way. And he doesn't want to come here for Christmas at all?"
Dawn stepped forward. "Uh, Buffy, I think you're missing an important part of that timeline." Buffy blinked and glared at her sister. "The little trip to Spike's this afternoon? The wreath? The popcorn on a string? The tree and mistletoe? Ring any bells?"
Buffy stepped around and sat in the nearby arm chair, her head in her hands. "I ruined Christmas."
"That may be taking things a little too far, Buffy," Angel said.
She looked up. "No. I did. I wanted it all to be perfect. And, you know… no, you know what. I didn't ruin Christmas. He did. He was invited, he didn't come, his problem."
"Yeah right," Dawn mumbled.
Dawn put her hands on her hips. "I said, yeah right. You want Spike to get that gift so you can throw it in his face every time you see him after this. So it's a constant reminder how you did something so nice and he, in your eyes, never does anything right. Whatever. I'm going to bed." She turned on her heel and stomped up the stairs.
Buffy took several breaths, then looked up at Angel, who was just standing there, hands in his pockets, expressionless. "I just wanted Christmas."
"So did Spike, apparently," Angel commented.
"He doesn't want my gift?"
Angel shook his head. "No." He waited, patiently, but Buffy said nothing. "So, what are you going to do with it?" he asked.
Buffy blinked at him, took a glance at the gift under the tree, then turned back to Angel. "Leave it under the tree."
Read part 1.