And A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Written for The Attic Twelve Days of Spander

 

 

*Jesus it's cold!  Why am I so cold?*   Xander scrunched himself down further into his sleeping bag, pulling the flap over his face.  It was freezing, and his face was wet - was it raining?  *Oh man, don't let it be raining.*   He pushed the sleeping bag back off of his face and blinked.  Then stared.  It was...

"Snow.  It's snowing?"

"S'fuckin' crazy, innit?"  The slurring voice jolted him fully awake and Xander sat up like a jack-in-the-box, staring around wildly.  There on the back-porch steps - not three feet from his little camp, was -

"Spike!" Xander squeaked.

"Know you?"   Spike squinted at him, one of Xander's Christmas cookies halfway to his mouth.

"Yes.  No!  Kind of.  Hey!  Those are my cookies!"  Xander snatched the plate off the ground and held it protectively in his arms and the vampire snorted and shoved his whole cookie into his mouth. 

"So?" Spike asked, lifting an eyebrow and Xander glared at him.  *My gingerbread man!  Oh, hell.  That's Spike.  I guess I'd rather he ate cookies...*

"So...ummmm...maybe you should ask first?"  Xander put the plate down on the sleeping bag and pushed it down towards his feet - snatched his hand back as if he were feeding a wild animal at the zoo.  Spike snorted in amusement and picked up a Christmas tree - bit it in half. 

"These're awful.  Taste like...chemicals," he grumbled, and Xander scowled at him.

"Yeah, well, they're all I could afford.  You don't have to eat them.  Why are you eating them?  Why is it snowing?"  The flakes were falling thick and fast, now, and the shoulders of Xander's baseball tee were getting wet.  The sky was strange, too - a kind of pale pewter color.  *Wonder what's going on?  What time is it?*

"Suspect it's some sort of Hellmouth - thing," Spike said, licking crumbs off his fingers. 

"What?"  Xander snapped his gaze away from *red, red lips, red tongue, white fingers, candy cane...damn...*

"The snow.  Are you daft?  Or maybe deaf?"  Spike reached into a pocket of his long black coat and pulled out a half-empty bottle of whiskey - took a long drink.  "S'prolly Angel's fault, innit?" he mumbled, and Xander pricked up his ears.

"Why would you say that?  Not that it would surprise me.  I mean - something weird?  Angel's probably in the thick of it."

"Yeah," Spike agreed, and then he sat forward suddenly, staring at Xander.  Xander recoiled, groping for the stake that he'd put under his pillow.  "I know you!  You're him!  The..."  Spike snapped his fingers.  "The hors d'oeuvres!"

"The what?"

"The little snack Angelus offered me at the school."  Spike leaned ever further forward, the bottle dangling from his fingers.  "You were cute, bein' all - smart-alec-y to the pouf."

"I'm not cute!"  Xander picked his pillow up in frustration and shook it and Spike chuckled.

"Lookin' for this?" he asked.  Xander stared in dismay at the stake Spike held up.  "An' you were cute.  Are cute.  Big brown eyes...eyes like my Dru..."  Abruptly Spike took a huge drink and slumped back on the steps, the stake disappearing into a pocket.  "Oh, Dru..." he sighed.  Xander looked around nervously.

"So - ummmm...so where is Dru?"  Spike shot him an evil look and Xander hastily corrected himself.  "I mean - I mean, your lady-friend!  Is she...around?"

"Not that it's any of your business, but no, she's not," Spike snarled.   He stared moodily at the bottle and then finished the last of the alcohol on one gulp.  He tossed it over his shoulder and it landed with incredible accuracy in the big plastic garbage can full of other empty bottles and cans beside the back door.  Xander winced as the bottle crashed into the others and shattered.  Spike jerked around, startled, and when he turned back he was grinning.

"You havin' a party, then?  That why you're out here in the snow?  Too rat-arsed to get home?  Or no, no - wait!"   Spike scooted eagerly closer along the stairs and Xander leaned warily back.  "Aunt Petunia and Uncle Hayward got three sheets to the wind an' ended up shaggin' in your bed and now you can't wake 'em up!"

"Uhhhh...no.  I mean - I don't think so.  I don't have an Aunt Petunia, thank god, and I don't think Aunt Maureen and Uncle Hank actually have sex anymore -"   Xander took in Spike's amused expression and snapped his mouth shut, angry.  "It's none of your damn business, anyway."

"Isn't it?"  Spike was suddenly right there, crouching in the snow and right in Xander's face, fist snagging a handful of his shirt and yanking him close and Xander gasped and tried to wrench away.

"Lemme go!"

"No, I don't think so...  Hrmm...."  Spike suddenly sounded scarily, completely sober and Xander wished he wasn't trapped in his sleeping bag, ten feet from the safety of his house.    Spike poked at Xander's stack of magazines - patted the camp-light that burned blue-white.  "You've got a light, an' readin' material, such as it is...supplies..."  Spike tilted the plate of cookies, which were getting soggy.  "Know what I think?  I think...you've got a houseful of fuckin' drunks in there, and your precious Slayer an' witch an' warlock don't give a fuck that you're out here in the dark...with all the monsters."  Spike's voice had dropped to a purr, and his breath was cool and smoky and whiskey-sharp.  Xander stared at him - at the too-blue eyes inches from his own.

"That's - that's not - t-true, they -"

"Yes it is, manling," Spike said, and he smiled.  "It's true.  Do they know, your little pack of white-hats?  Or do you hide it from them?  Like you hide...other things..."  Spike's gaze was slipping over him, slick and shivery like a snake and Xander pulled futilely at the fist holding his shirt - stopped with the smooth, cold knuckles under his fingers.

"I don't...know what you're talking about," he managed to gasp out, and Spike did this little grin - cat-sly and showing a bit of tooth.  And then he leaned forward and kissed Xander.

*Oh.  Wow.  He's...that's a really nice...  Tooth!  Sharp tooth!  Ahh - oh god!*  Xander pulled away, licking the spot on his lip where a fang had pricked him and Spike's face shivered back to human.

"Yes you do, sweet.  You know exactly what I'm talking about."  Spike let go of Xander's shirt and sat down on the edge of the sleeping bag, fussily lifting his coat-tails out of the snow and almost squashing Xander's legs.   Then he just slumped there looking a bit downcast.  Xander hastily drew his legs up, Indian-style.  His lips tingled faintly, and he rubbed at the circle of wrinkles in the front of his shirt.  And shivered.   The shoulders and back were damp, now, and his hair was dripping a bit, and he was starting to feel... 

*Pretty fuckin' miserable, here.  Damnit.  Demon-magnet, for sure.  And what the hell is he doing here, anyway?  Without Dru?  And - what time is it?  It feels...really early.*   Xander reached over and picked up his little radio and turned it on, fiddling with the tuner.  After a moment music spilled out, slightly tinny.   'Oh Holy Night' and Xander put the radio down in his lap.

"What'd you turn that noise on for?" Spike mumbled, and Xander chewed his lip for a moment.  He wasn't sure he wanted to have anymore 'conversation' with the evil undead.

*Oh, hell.  Why not?  Who the hell else am I gonna talk to?  He's right...  Willow's always known about me sleeping out...and Buffy found out yesterday, thankyouverymuch Cordy...  And neither one of them...*   "I wanna know what time it is.  It's hard to tell with all the clouds."

"Oh."  Spike looked up, squinting as the wet, heavy flakes fell into his face.  "It's past dawn, actually...  Christmas Day."    The sat in silence for a moment and then Spike started talking again - reciting something.         

"This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms
."

Xander stared at the vampire.  "What was...that?"  Spike -who was still looking up at the sky - jerked a little and looked over at Xander, his eyes dark and tired looking.

"It was a poem.  By a very interesting woman."

"Oh.  It was...kinda cool.    And wow, past dawn?  And you're not all - with the flames.  I bet that's really - cool..."   *And why do I care?  He's evil!  Even if does kiss better than Cordy...*    Spike gave him an odd looked and shrugged.

"Oh, yeah, cool.  Dru'd love it, she would..."  Spike sighed - long, rattling kind of sigh, and Xander just stared at him for a minute.  *Okay.  That was the 'oh, I'm so sad please ask me what's wrong' sigh.  And...I can't believe this but...   I'm gonna ask.  It's the snow - the cold.  I'm in hypothermic shock.  And I only had leftover pizza for Christmas dinner so my blood sugar is low.  And...he just quoted poetry!  I have to ask.*

"All right, all right - tell me already!"

"Tell you what?"  Spike's look of wide-eyed innocence was so completely fake that Xander actually burst out laughing.  The hugged himself, rubbing his hands up and down his arms.

"Damn it's cold.  Tell me why you're all 'woe is me' and with the drinking and stuff.  And why no - Dru."  For a moment Spike just stared at him, and then his face flashed from human to demon to human, so fast Xander didn't have time to blink.

"Not your -"

"Business.   Yeah, you already said that.  But so did I, and it didn't seem to stop you   I'll tell you why I'm out here, if you'll tell me why you are."  The song on the radio switched to 'The Little Drummer Boy' as sung by Bing Crosby and David Bowie, and Spike snarled at the radio for a second and then looked down at his lap and sighed again.

"Yeah, all right.  Well, you know - made that deal with the Slayer, didn't I?  I helped her stop Angelus getting' the world sucked into Hell and she didn't try an' stop me from leavin' with Dru.  And it worked out just fine!  Me and Dru, we went down to Brazil - got us a little villa right outside of Rio..."  Spike smiled - a wide, happy smile that wasn't even remotely...evil.

"But then!  She keeps tellin' me I'm not - demon enough for her!  That makin' a deal with the Slayer made me weak!"  Spike growled, and Xander hugged himself a little closer, wishing he had a jacket.  "M'not soddin' weak!  It was all for her!   But she can't see that - can't see me for..."  Spike stopped and looked away - turned his face up at the sky for a moment, his eyes shut.  "Dru'd love this, really.  She always liked snow - said it was like stars falling down, all around us.   She loved Prague..."  Xander watched as Spike opened his eyes and stared at the falling snow, then slowly brought his gaze down to earth again.  He held his arm out - close to Xander's face.  "See there?  Look.  She could look at the flakes for hours."   Spike leaned close to his arm, and after a moment Xander did, too, until their heads were nearly touching.  The snow landed on the chilled black leather and it didn't melt, and after a moment Xander could see individual snow flakes. They were...

"Wow," Xander breathed, entranced.  "They really are all - different.  I mean - look!  That one's like..."  He couldn't describe what he was seeing - he'd never seen snow, and it was...amazing.  He looked up at Spike, smiling, and Spike smiled back, and for a moment they were just...there.  Then Spike slowly sat back and reached into his coat-pocket.  He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and lit up, blowing a stream of smoke up into the sky.  It was thick, in the colder air - it looked like dragon-smoke - and Xander watched it swirl away through the flakes.

"So why'd you come back here?" Xander asked, and Spike smoked for a moment more in silence. 

"Wanted revenge, didn't I?  Angelus - he got her all twisted up.  Turned her against me.  That's why she's mad at me.  An' - an' I thought, 'well, I'll just get me my third Slayer while I'm at it' - bring her back a Slayer's heart, kind of a...a token of my affection.  But now..."  Spike shook his head slowly, finishing the cigarette.  He ground it out against the side of the porch and tossed the butt over his shoulder, in the general direction of the bottle he'd tossed earlier.

"Now?" Xander asked softly.  He could see tiny flakes on Spike eyelashes - sugaring his hair and catching in his eyebrows.  Making him sparkle in the strange blue-grey light.

"I dunno.  I've been away for a bit, an'...  It just doesn't seem so important, now.  Been with Dru - over a hundred years.  Never once thought I'd..."  Spike sighed, and shoved his hands into his pockets - huddled a little, as if finally feeling the cold.  "I just...  I guess I'm just gonna go walkabout for a bit.  I'm not - ready to go back.  And Angelus, the brooding git...  He's not worth it."  They both sat there in silence for a while, and Xander realized his teeth were chattering.   The radio was playing 'Jingle-Bell Rock' and it was suddenly - depressing.  The whole thing was depressing, and Xander looked down at his sleeping bag - at the sodden cookies and his Starlog and X-Men that were slowly turning to mush.  

*God, I hate this.  Hate that nobody cared enough to invite me over so I wouldn't have to sleep in my yard in the middle of the Hellmouth.  Hate that my parents don't care that I wasn't even home for Christmas.  Hate how Buffy looks at Angel and how Willow looks at Oz and how Cordelia doesn't look at me anymore...  Hate hiding...everything...so I won't upset anybody.*   He felt his eyes starting to sting a little, and he blinked furiously, willing the tears away.   Cold fingers ghosted over his hair and then Spike was lifting his chin up, leaning close again; a curious, soft look on his face.

"You're 'bout frozen solid, pet.  I've got a room over at the Sunnydale Inn - they've got a hot-tub."  Xander stared at him and then laughed softly, sniffling.  *God.  Demon-magnet.  Pretty demon...*

"I didn't tell you my story yet," Xander said slowly, and Spike unfolded like a black-leather crane, stretching his chin up a little and squaring his shoulders.

"Tell me on the way, yeah?"  He held his hand out and after a long moment, Xander reached up and took it and let Spike pull him to his feet.  The radio and the cookies tumbled to the ground, and Xander shoved his feet into his sneakers, grimacing at the chilly dampness inside.

"Boxing Day, tomorrow.  Supposed to have a party - get presents.   Bet we could find something fun at the Mall," Spike said, and he slung his arm around Xander's shoulders.  

"Boxing Day?  Is there fighting?  Oh!  This is my favorite song!"  As they walked away the radio played on, and Xander sang along, nudging Spike until he joined in.

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - a partridge in a pear tree..."

 

 

________________________________

BC - AD by Ursula A. Fanthorpe

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect.
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.