TITLE: Decking the Summers Hall
RATING: PG. Pure fluff.
SETTING: This takes place in my Promise of Frost 'verse, one year later. That makes this an AU mid-season 5 where Giles has custody of Holly, Spike is her nanny, and all three of them are living with Joyce, while Buffy is going strong in college.
LENGTH: 1425 words
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, which is a shame because usually we're nicer to them than Joss was.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to sadbhyl for reading this over and convincing me it doesn't suck. I don't usually do fluff. I had no sense of security about this at all. She also supplied Giles' last line of dialogue when she told me the original ending didn't seem very final, so hugs to her. :)
AUTHOR'S NOTE #2: I'll be the first to admit that I never thought I'd dabble in this 'verse again. I haven't even read Frost since I finished it. But I'm in the Christmas spirit and couldn't resist.
He sat straight up in bed as the crash from downstairs woke him out of a sound sleep. Though the blankets fell around Giles’ waist, when he glanced over, Joyce hadn’t even stirred, still lying on her side facing the other wall. It was no wonder Buffy’s slaying had gone undetected for so long, he thought as he slid out of bed. He sincerely believed Joyce could sleep through an apocalypse under the right circumstances.
No more sounds came from downstairs, but Giles grabbed the aluminum baseball bat Joyce preferred to keep around and carried it out into the hall anyway. He would have much preferred a crossbow, but those and all his wooden weapons had been kept under lock and key since last Valentine’s Day when Holly had hoped to play Cupid for him and Joyce. This would have to suffice, even if it felt far too light to do much good. Giles hoped that Spike hadn’t chosen to spend the night at the dorm again with Buffy. It would be nice to have back-up in case something went awry.
As he crept down the stairs, he saw the light spilling out from the living room, lighting the foyer. Giles lifted the bat in readiness, but on the second to the last step, hushed voices made him grind to a halt.
“There. All better.”
With a frown, Giles glanced over his shoulder, back up the stairs. Why wasn’t Holly in bed? More curiously, who was she speaking to?
Giles’ brow smoothed. Ah. Spike. Of course.
His frown returned.
What in bloody hell had been the crash then?
“Are they all broke?”
“Don’t know. Maybe…” The sound of tinkling glass filled the foyer. “Bugger.”
Giles edged down another step, daring to crane his neck and peer through the small panes of glass in the door. Boxes cluttered the middle of the room, and the couch had been shoved out from beneath the window to make room for a tree that was far too tall for the space. It listed sideways, its top scraping across the ceiling, but it was the sight of all the colored glass littering the floor that drew Giles’ eye.
Spike and Holly sat in the midst of all of it, their back to the door. The first aid kit from the kitchen was lying forgotten next to them, and as Spike shifted to paw through another box, Giles saw that his left hand was wrapped into an absurd shape with white gauze.
He bit back a smile. He did enjoy it when Holly played nurse. Spike rarely escaped without coming off looking ridiculous.
“Oh!” Holly pulled a white figure from a box and showed it to Spike. “This didn’t get broke! We can put this on.” She paused. “What is it?”
“An angel.” He cast a lingering look at the tree, head tilting back as he regarded the bent top. “But I don’t think it’ll go where they mean it to go, moptop. Probably should’ve picked out a smaller one from the lot.” He sighed, scanning over the mess he had made. “Probably shouldn’t’ve thought I could pull this off in the first place.”
Holly wasted no time before clambering onto Spike’s lap. Giles shrank back to avoid getting caught out eavesdropping, but neither was aware of his presence, Holly burying her face in Spike’s neck, his arms coming up around to hold the little girl tight.
“Don’t be sad,” Holly said.
“I’m not. Just disappointed, is all. Wanted Buffy and Joyce to have a nice surprise, not a right mess to clean up.” He snorted. “Guess gettin' through a Christmas without a spot of drama would be askin’ too much.”
The pair stayed like that long enough for Giles to make up his mind. Descending the rest of the way, he paused to clear his throat before stepping into the living room. It was enough time for Spike to spring to his feet, swinging Holly around to his hip when the child refused to give up her hold. By the time Giles entered, Spike had a proper defiant scowl in place, all traces of the vulnerability he’d exposed to Holly now gone.
Giles adopted his best paternal air. It didn’t work at all on Buffy, and hardly ever on Holly, but it was worth a shot anyway. “Shouldn’t you be in bed, young lady?”
“We were decorating,” she announced proudly.
“Really?” He looked pointedly at the boxes of Christmas baubles, most shattered now from whatever fall Spike had taken. “Is that what we’re calling this?”
“Now, it’s not what you think, Rupert—”
“I think…” He crossed to the tree, tilting his head as he tried to fathom how Spike had got it into the house in the first place. “…that we only have a few hours before Buffy arrives for breakfast.” Reaching through the thick branches, he grasped the trunk, giving it a solid yank to pull it over into the room. “If you help me get this out to the garage, I have a chainsaw we can use to cut it down so that it fits properly. Provided Joyce never looks up to see how you’ve buggered the paint on the ceiling, she’ll never know.”
Spike gazed at him in disbelief, but he didn’t say a word as he set Holly down and came over to help Giles lift the tree. “Thanks, mate,” he muttered when Holly scurried to open the front door for them.
They didn’t say anything more as they left the tree in the garage and returned to the house, Spike plucking loose needles out of the gauze that bound his injury. They walked in on Holly turning the angel over and over in her hands.
“Spike…” She looked at him with a tiny frown. “…I can’t find it.”
“The angel’s soul. Where is it?”
“It’s just a tree topper, pidge. It doesn’t have a soul.”
“But you said, angels have souls. That they come off with a good screw. But I don’t see where it is.”
At least Spike had the grace to look guilty as he took the decoration away from her, explaining in deliberately vague language that this was a different kind of angel and to please not say a word to Buffy because the Slayer had an inexplicable soft spot for said angels even if they---.
“Enough, Spike,” Giles admonished. “Perhaps you should take her up to bed. You and I can manage quite well now, I think.”
She looked stricken at the idea of being shut out, though she climbed willingly enough onto Spike’s back when he offered it to her. “Are you going to tell on us?” she asked, eyes like saucers as they fixed on Giles.
Even if the notion had occurred to him, seeing the look on her face would have undone any of Giles’ resolve. “Not if you go straight to bed,” he said.
Holly tightened her arms around Spike’s neck. “OK.”
He watched the pair ascend the stairs, their voices hushed in conspiracy before disappearing altogether, and then began to move the boxes into the kitchen to return to the basement. Spike reappeared before he’d managed to clear half the room.
“It was just s’posed to be a surprise for Joyce and Buffy,” he said, heaving two of the boxes to his shoulder and heading downstairs.
“It still can be.” At Spike’s quizzical glance, Giles added, “If you sort through the decorations and replace what got broken, I’ll take care of the tree. We can try this again tomorrow night. Without Holly’s help.”
Spike grinned. “You didn’t want to have any part of that daft Christmas Eve decorating party they had planned either, eh?”
“Oh, heavens no.” He held open the basement door. “Joyce wants to hire bloody carolers.”
“Should’ve heard what Buffy wants.”
“Me in a soddin’ Santa suit. Told her the only chimney I was goin’ down was—”
“Spike. Don’t. She’s still my Slayer.”
“So? It’s not like you don’t know what it means to shag a Summers woman.”
“Yes, but I don't kiss and tell. Repeatedly.”
“Well. You don’t tell, at least.”
Giles held his tongue. He could let Spike get the last word in this time, he rationalized. After all, he’d saved the both of them from a potentially miserable Christmas Eve. That was worth a little something, even if Giles lost another night’s sleep in order to amend Spike’s decorating disaster.
“Not that I’d put up a fuss hearing the details…”
But only this time.