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27 December 2006 @ 08:04 am
Let Nothing You Dismay 1  
Everyone else so full of food they can't move?
My half-siblings got a fancy new iMac for Christmas. I haven't used an apple for nearly ten years and they've moved on a bit. Had a bit of a fright when the control v button wouldn't work and I'm secretly hankering for the old, crappy evil Microsoft computer.
And it's finally my posting day for Noel_of_Spike, though only just. I'm posting it here too, because I'm kinda anal. Altogether there's going to be five chapters and an epilogue, most of it tomorrow, probably.
Huge big thanks to slackerace for going over and above the call of beta-ing, with the encouragement and research and listening to me whinge. Hope you had a great Christmas.


Let Nothing You Dismay


Chapter One


Three days before Christmas, the nights as long as they ever got in California, and still it was barely dark when Spike left his crypt. There'd been worryingly little around for him to kill just recently and the vampire found he was getting antsy in the day time, not sleeping through and not wanting his own company. Bored of flicking through stolen books, bored of the drone of his stolen telly. Afraid to sit with no other distraction than his own right hand and persistent imaginings of his mortal enemy in the altogether.

Standing in his mortal enemy's front garden, mooning up at her window, that was so much better.

Aside from a faint glow behind the closed living room curtains, the house was in darkness, and still Spike found he didn't have anywhere better to be. Except maybe inside. But he knew his girl's routine; she almost invariably came home for some kind of family meal before the main patrol and he didn't want to be caught rifling through her underwear drawer when she did. Spike spared a thought, and a smirk, for Riley, who was unlikely to ever catch Spike doing anything ever again. If anything, the soldier boy was more persona-non-grata than Spike himself. Not that the Slayer had been particularly grateful for his timely intervention but she was certainly single now, so score one for the vampire.

Single, and lonely, and unsatisfied. Make that absolutely gagging for it, because Spike couldn't imagine shagging that enormous hall monitor had ever been much of a thrill ride. He could be patient. Okay, patience not exactly his forte, but give it a week or so and she'd get bored of her fingers and her empty bed and he'd be right there waiting to fill that hole.

Spike added another dog-end to the increasingly noticeable pile of the front lawn and within seconds lit a second cigarette. That window was so tempting, and he'd bet good money the door would be open too. He could come back when she was asleep, creep in while she was tossing and turning in that dissatisfied sleep he imagined, and show her what a real man was. Okay, vampire. She might not think of him as boyfriend material but Spike knew the desire was there; give him an hour in her bed and she'd not want to go back to boys.

"Have you adopted that tree?"

Spike's head shot up in annoyance. He'd apparently been so lost in his... er... daydream that he'd let a teenager sneak up on him. Again.

"Fuck off, little sis."

"You're in my garden."

Well yeah, he couldn't argue with that one. He watched Dawn struggle to balance a ridiculous stack of packages in such a way she could see over the top to glare at the vampire. Spike indulged in a brief fantasy of vamping out and watching her scatter the lot over the front lawn, then decided he couldn't be bothered. The child was too damn stupid to be scared of him.

"Was looking for your big sis; there's rumours afoot in the demon world."

"Well she's not here. She's still at the mall, choosing my gifts, so she'd better be a long time. I got a lift home with Janice. Would you give me a hand with some of these boxes?"

"No."

"Oh c'mon! I'm going to drop something."

"Then I shall stand here and laugh at your misfortune. Evil, remember?"

"Your present is the most breakable."

Oh what did she take him for? Even William the Bloody wasn't currently so devoid of reputation that it couldn't be lowered by helping some chit with her shopping for the promise of a novelty mug come Christmas Day. "You got me a present?"

"Sure. It's in that box at the top."

"Won't want me accidentally seeing what it is, then," said Spike with a smirk.

Grumbling the whole time, the girl managed to lean her purchases against the porch support, freeing up a hand to get at her key. Spike waited until her hand was firmly wedged in her skin-tight pocket before he reached out and turned the unlocked handle.

"Oh you are such a jerk."

"An evil jerk," he corrected. "And wasn't me that left your front door open. Why, anyone could just walk in here."

Dawn glared some more, mostly from habit, then her eyes suddenly narrowed, making Spike unaccountably nervous. "Is that what you do?"

"What?"

"You're always lurking around our house. Do you just let yourself in?"

"Nah," breezed Spike with fake insouciance. "Nothing in there worth nicking."

"Oh you do!"

He glowered at her, to disappointingly little effect. It wasn't so much that she wasn't scared that bothered him, though it did bother him in a 'found it worryingly endearing' way. It was the way she treated him as an equal. Socially, he was now on a par with possibly the brattiest teen he'd ever met. Just because her tiny, self absorbed teenage brain lacked the imagination to picture him in his glory days, casually ending lives and inflicting suffering, she considered him just another excluded Scooby runt. His own fault, really. He'd encouraged the feeling of camaraderie when he'd been held prisoner by the Slayer, found it useful to have someone to talk to who occasionally shared his hatred of the bossy elder Summers and of course to smuggle him extra blood and the occasional bottle. This complete lack of respect was the price.

"Do not." Oh great, now she really had dragged him down to her level. If he sank any lower Spike would be signing up for Greenpeace marches and finding Star Trek endlessly fascinating. "Fuck off."

"You're in my house."

Okay, technically he was standing in the hallway, that wasn't a reason to get snippy. "Fine. I'm leaving. Wishing you a shitty Christmas and a miserable new year."

He turned for a stompy, swirling departure, the effect somewhat marred by the lack of good swirl room in the hallway and a rather limp exit line. Made no odds, the whole thing was thoroughly ruined by Dawn.

"You can help me put up the Christmas decorations if you like."

"No I couldn't! I'm eeeevil."

"Jeez, who peed on your Weetabix? You helped me do stuff before."

"Have not!"

"What about breaking open Giles' brief case? Or teaching me to swear in French? Oh! Painting my nails black!"

"That was evil stuff. Doesn't count."

"Christmas lights are evil. We're celebrating the commercial spirit that's suffocating good old fashioned Christian values."

"You do it then. I'll offer the benefit of my evil wisdom, helpful advice and such."

"Spike! I can't reach the ceiling. I need a man."

"Not falling for that line, bit, not some pillock that needs a little girl to feel manly, that guy left town. 'Sides, I don't think a half inch is going to make a difference, give it another year and you'll be taller than me." Bigger bollocks'n all, the way his luck was running. She'd be beating him up too, then, only a matter of time before the Summers violent genes came shining through. It'd be 'put the decorations up or I'll break your nose' and then he'd have to stake himself for sure, best not get anywhere near the top of that slippery slope.

"Oh go on. I want it to look nice when Buffy gets home."

"And I want you all dead. If wishes were horses... Where's your mum to? Shouldn't she be stringing the lights?"

"She's gone to visit Great Aunt Hilda in Wisconsin."

"And left her girls all alone for Christmas?"

"Well the doctors told her she should rest up, and Buffy thought she wouldn't rest if she was here making Christmas dinner. Besides, Aunt Hilda's really old; she's probably going to be dead by next Christmas. And Buffy gets out of everything by being the Slayer."

"And you?"

"Well I don't see why I should kiss up to a bunch of old people just because Buffy wants me out of town," said the teen in a sulky tone that told Spike there'd already been much discussion on this subject. "It's not like she has a boyfriend to get snugly with, she just wants to get me out of the way all the time."

Well there was an idea Spike could get into. The Slayer all alone over Christmas, needing some yuletide cheer, that traditional seasonal pick-me-up of a good hard fuck. In fact he got so into the idea that when reality resurfaced he had to check back to make sure he'd not said that out loud, but Dawn was still busy opening boxes, scattering shiny things around the kitchen in seemingly random piles.

"The old man?" he asked.

"England. He flew out two days ago, didn't you know? Fact finding mission, researching that skank that beat Buffy. And 'the opportunity to celebrate an ancient pagan festival without invoking the spirit of cartoons.' Were you really here to see Buffy or were you going to break in?"

"It's not breaking if you don't lock the door. And yes, I was after your sis. Thought she might like a patrol buddy seeing as all the demons have gone to ground."

"You're just scared those soldiers were looking for you. You want the big bad Slayer to protect you."

"Do not. What soldiers?"

"You know, the commandos Buffy saw."

"No I don't know! No bugger ever tells me anything."

But Dawn was just exercising her mouth, unaware of the vampire's sudden interest. "I think she's just missing Riley. Now she's imagining burly guys with tasers all over the place, I think she should-"

"Dawn!" Spike caught her arm in a grip that had his chip tingling with warning. The girl looked up at him in surprise. "What soldiers?"

"The ones Buffy saw," she answered in a duh tone of voice that had Spike wishing he could transfer his grip to her neck. "Like Initiative, only we can't find the actual Initiative. Buffy checked the old one, it's all abandoned and full of dead demons. She wouldn't let me go, like I'm a child or something, I'm way old enough to look at dead demons. She even tried to stop me going on my sleepover tomorrow, she's such a b-"

"And she didn't give me a heads up?"

Dawn shrugged. "It not like we care if they take you. You're eeeevil, remember?"

Oh that was it. He ever got this chip out she was getting rubbed right off his 'not to be eaten' list. To add insult to injury, or potentially injury to insult, when Dawn passed him a box of assorted Christmas lights he just took it. Resigned to his probable fate of balancing on furniture spreading joy and Christmas cheer. Double fuck.

Dawn herded him towards the living room and he let himself be herded. Soldiers were worrying news and he wouldn't mind hearing more, it's not like he had anywhere better to be. Besides, new men were the thing, magazines and chat shows all agreed and Spike suspected his Slayer was one for magazines, maybe stringing lights would be the thing to help her see him in a new light. Or earn him a broken nose, the guessing kept it fun.

"Jesus," he exclaimed as Dawn pushed the door open. "This is undecorated?"

The tree was up and lit, and almost every spare inch of the ceiling festooned with gaudy baubles and tinsel. The only thing, that Spike could see, that was lacking was a few genuine candles to incinerate the lot.

"This is unfinished. We need lights. Mom put up all the dangly stuff before she left but the lights were broken."

Wordlessly Spike pointed to the tree, undeniably lit up like... well, like a Christmas tree. Dawn waved him away. "Those are Tara's lights; she and Willow put the tree up yesterday, we had Scooby Christmas dinner early because their flight was this morning. Buffy cooked, it was disgusting. We need lights in the window and stuff."

"The witches away too? Nice to know I'm not left out of the loop."

"Like you care. It's just going to be us and Xander and Anya for Christmas dinner, isn't that strange? Now stick that end on the curtain rod. Be careful."

Spike jumped up on the end of the sofa, taking an annoyed satisfaction in the boot prints he left. "As you wish, Mistress. But some of these are gonna have to go on the outside of the house or your ceiling's going to collapse under the weight of it all."

"There's some for the kitchen," prattled Dawn cheerfully. "And that string can go on the tree too. Be careful! Those ones are really old, Buffy took them all to get new bulbs and it was really expensive."

"She'd be a bit miffed if I strangled you with them, then?"

"Yeah. Willow already broke the star for the tree and Buffy spent hours looking for one in the mall. She goes into Martha Stewart overdrive when mom's away. We couldn't find one. Doesn't it look bare?"

Spike looked, really he did, but the tip of the tree wasn't even visible through the forest of danglies. "Bare," he agreed straight faced. "You couldn't find a plastic star, in a shopping mall, the week before Christmas?"

"This was a special one, we put it on the tree every year since, like, before I was born. It was blown glass with glitter in it."

Spike hooked the last of the lights over the end of the rod and tossed the flex to Dawn. "That's me done. These Christmas lights are completely devoid of evil, not so much as a frayed wire."

Dawn made a noise like a puppy being trodden on. "You can't go! What about the kitchen?"

"Sod the kitchen."

"Oh! I'll get bored, I've got so many presents to wrap and Buffy won't be home for hours."

"Do I look like a bleeding child minder?"

Dawn eyed him critically, Spike vamped out. "Maybe we should get you something more Christmassy," said the teen, unfazed by the bumpies. "A Santa hat."

"That's it, girl. Chip or no you're Christmas dinner."

"If I pretend to be scared will you stay? I really can't reach the kitchen window."

Damn girl. Just had no right going around reminding him of her sister by being completely unafraid of him. "One more string. And you have to pretend to be terrified."

Christmas Eve's Eve


Spike closed the book with an angry snap. Such a simple spell. A year and more he'd spent enslaved to this hateful chip and all the time the solution had been hidden in plain sight in the Magic Box, in a book a child could understand.

Spike'd never wanted to read Magic and Medicine in the first place. He had slid some books under his coat during his last visit to the Magic Box, in the hope he could cause some mayhem or exchange them for cash, but then he started leafing through in one of his many moments of idleness as he waited for the sun to safely set. Just a bunch of namby pamby half baked white wiccas and their schemes for helping people. Spells to stop bleeding, numbing spells, spells for removing shrapnel... There it was, all laid out for him, written in English, helpful diagram, an idiot could do it. Hell, given a week or so's careful coaching, Harmony could do it. White magic, how pathetic was that? All that research, asking around in the demon world, kidnapping Initiative doctors, and the solution to all his killing people needs was sitting in a book of white magic. All he required was a suitable nurse/mage and he was off.

He opened the book again, checking it wasn't a hallucination. Bookmarking the page was a note scribbled on the flyleaf that Buffy had pulled out of one of Giles' priceless old tomes. It was hardly a love letter - not like he was keeping it as a memento, just a handy bookmarker was all. A handy bookmarker that read: 'Spike. There’re soldiers in town. Keep out of sight. B'.

She'd obviously stopped off at the crypt on the way home from the mall, most likely while he was lounging in her kitchen, plugging in enough brightly coloured bulbs to make the national grid beg for mercy. Not that he cared; it didn't exactly warm the cockles of his unbeating heart, it was just a useful bookmark. That happened to be drawing his eye more than the spell that would finally allow him to be the big bad again and rip the bitch's throat out. And if Spike hadn't realised he'd left it too late before, he did now. Because instead of rubbing his hands gleefully and plotting his first carnage this year, Spike's mind kept wandering to the Christmas gift he'd stolen last night.

Bloody Slayer had taken over his brain and damn near beaten it into submission. He shouldn't care if her tree went without its traditional star. He sure as hell shouldn't have been balancing over the town hall display at three o'clock in the morning stealing said star and trying to justify it as vandalism and therefore evil. He should get the chip out, kill the bitch, drape her body under the tree with the other presents - that would be evil. Spike knew with a dreadful certainty it was never going to happen.

Stunningly awful as it was to admit, Spike liked the status quo. It had given him a fright, waking up to realise he'd somehow fallen in love with his mortal enemy, but a couple of small temper tantrums later and he'd adapted. Soldier boy had conveniently exited stage, leaving Buffy with a niche that was just Spike sized and an inner voice that shouldn't have been able to exist in a vampire's head suggested he put the book away, worry about the chip after Christmas. He'd gotten caught up in the soap opera that was Scooby life and it was his turn to play the romantic lead. Just yesterday he'd been cursing the stupid lump of silicone and how vulnerable it left him to even the most unarmed and brain-dead of soldiers but that was before he'd found her note. Soldiers weren't so scary if the Slayer had his back.

Spike's evil side, which he'd kidded himself until recently was all of him, tried to argue but it too was being distracted by thoughts of Buffy. And when even his evil inner voice was calling her by her given first name it was time to admit he was incurable. The closest he was coming to an evil scheme was how to best time his gift to catch Buffy alone, and like most of his schemes nowadays it segued straight into images of her shagging him. Spike wasn't stupid; on some level he knew that he didn't have much of a chance with the Slayer even now the field was clear, but a chance was a chance and a bloke had to try.

He'd never get the chance to live in her world again. Once Buffy discovered he was chipless, they'd be enemies again whether Spike wished it or no. He could almost hear the sacred duty speech leading up to their final fight. And good though the fight sounded, Spike didn't see it getting him laid. Not that he was getting laid regular now, unless you counted Harmony - and Spike didn’t - but he had other things. He'd not fallen so low to consider hanging Christmas lights a privilege but it was something. He got to wander into her home whenever it took his fancy; be an accepted, if unwelcome, part of her life in a way she'd not allow if he was killing people. Sometimes Spike craved the kill so much it almost took him over, but that wasn't the same as wanting his old life back. And besides, his old life wasn't there to go back to; if he was honest with himself old Spike no longer existed to go back to it. And he knew he couldn't take her with him.

Of all the crazy schemes and unlikely alternatives he'd run through his head this evening, he'd never considered turning her. Maybe back in the day, when he'd been sure he wanted her dead and life was simple, he'd toyed with the idea of what a formidable vampire this Slayer would make. But this vampire knew better than most that turning was an inexact science and whatever formidable vampire he might be left with, it wouldn't be Buffy.

He had to have her. Had to try for her. Couldn't spend the rest of his unlife chipped now that he had a choice, but he wasn't ready for the do or die stand either. He wanted her so damn much he was even willing, for once, to stop and think before making any rash decisions. There were always side effects to magic, always catches to getting what you wanted, and as good as it would be to stalk the night without having to worry about human threats, there was always a downside. Thinking some wouldn't dust him. Fuck it, even the thinking could wait till after Christmas - Spike had a gift to deliver.

Chapter Two

 
 
 
timeofchangetimeofchange on December 27th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
Whoo! Loving this!
constance_bconstance_b on December 27th, 2006 12:42 am (UTC)
Thanks! Hope you had a merry Christmas.
petzipellepingo: boxing day andrew by eyesthatslaypetzipellepingo on December 27th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
He had to have her. Had to try for her. Couldn't spend the rest of his unlife chipped now that he had a choice, but he wasn't ready for the do or die stand either. He wanted her so damn much he was even willing, for once, to stop and think before making any rash decisions.
Nods. A very Season Five Spike thought and you've got a terrific Dawn voice going here.
zanthinegirl: Spike & Dawnzanthinegirl on December 27th, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
Loving this!

Dawn herded him towards the living room and he let himself be herded. Soldiers were worrying news and he wouldn't mind hearing more, it's not like he had anywhere better to be. Besides, new men were the thing, magazines and chat shows all agreed and Spike suspected his Slayer was one for magazines, maybe stringing lights would be the thing to help her see him in a new light. Or earn him a broken nose, the guessing kept it fun.

Boy, you've really nailed Spike at this this point in the series!

Very nice Dawn, too. I'm off to check out the next chapter!
Shapinglightshapinglight on December 27th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
Hi, just to let you know this is one of the fics I'm bookmarking to catch up with after the New year.

Looking forward to reading it.
Basiliobasilio_the_cat on February 24th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
Great start! :) I'm liking it already