Alternate Universe: Unexpected
Story Title: Can't Buy Me Love

Chapter Title:


If We Make it Through December

Chapter Summary:


Spike's done the math and has a plan to make the kid's Christmas wishes come true … will he succeed?


Time line:

December 2010



MacKenzie Verity Weckerly born October 9th, 2010

Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010

Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004

The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.

Annie was born on February 14th, 1999

Spike and Buffy  were married in  February 1999

Buffy was born January 19th, 1981

William/Spike was turned by Dru in 1880 1890; first came to Sunnydale in September of 1997


All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.

Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.

The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.



Quick note: I should've reminded everyone before, there are no Scrunchies in Buffy's world - whatever Hallie did with her wish somehow changed history and prevented them from being invented. Despite Buffy thwarting the wish by breaking William's heart and sending him into Dru's clutches, she did not actually *reverse* the wish, thus there are still no Scrunchies in this world ... yet.

Music Referenced:

If We Make It Through December, Merle Haggard,


ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:



Thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter. Any mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling ...

Rating / Warnings:

NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.

(After talking with Tara about Scrunchies) Saturday, December 18th, 2010, 10:00am, Sunnydale:


After Buffy got off the phone with Tara, she went to her office and began to dig for the phone number of an old friend … she hoped he would remember her; it had been a long time since she’d talked to him – at least as far as she remembered.


After four rings, a female voice with an English accent came on the line. “Hello?”


“Hi,” Buffy replied. “Is Lindsey available?”


“No, I’m afraid not,” the coven witch hedged.


“Oh … could I leave a message?” Buffy wondered. “This is Buffy … Buffy Summers-Weckerly.”


“Oh… Buffy – I’m sorry, he isn’t with us any longer,” the witch informed her.


“He’s not … with us?” Buffy asked with a bit of alarm. “You mean he’s …”


“In Nepal…” the witch finished when Buffy hesitated.


Buffy took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Oh, wow – you scared me for a minute.” 


So that was one thing that must’ve stayed the same as the pre-wish world. When everyone got back from ‘helping’ Angel take down the Black Thorn and fight the armies of hell in the other dimension, Buffy called Lindsey to tell him about what the Lindsey in that dimension had done to hide himself from Wolfram & Hart.  Apparently, ‘their’ Lindsey had decided to take on the challenges in Nepal to gain the magical cloak so he could safely leave the coven.


“He does call from time to time – I can give him a message, but I don’t know when he’ll call. Is there anything I can help you with?” the witch offered.


“Ummm … no, not really. I wanted to see if he could help me with some legal advice on how to get a patent, but he’s probably a little busy just now …” Buffy offered. “But tell him I called anyway and I hope he’s doing okay.”


“Alright, I’ll give him the message when he calls next time,” the witch promised.


Buffy sighed when she hung up the phone. Willow and Tara liking the Scrunchies made it unanimous among her friends and family – Annie, Dani, Anya, Faith, and Amanda had all liked them too. Granted, that was a pretty small focus group, but she still thought the world at large would like the fancy ponytail holders; after all, they had before Hallie’s wish changed history and somehow removed them from the world. Now she just needed to figure out how to patent them and market them and produce them in mass … and make that million dollars she’d once promised Spike she would make for them. She just wished she could do it before Christmas.




(Later that day) Saturday, December 18th, 2010, 5:00pm, Sunnydale:


Spike woke from a long, restful sleep feeling better than he had all week, which was a good thing since he had another fight in a few hours.  The rosters were never announced ahead of time, there was no chance to do any research about the demon you were fighting; if you didn’t know how to defeat him going in, you had better figure it out quickly. All the years spent on the Hellmouth with Buffy and the Scoobies had given Spike a pretty broad knowledge of the demon population, but there always seemed to be more where they came from, and the chance at $500,000 drew the biggest, meanest, nastiest demons from around the world to their town.  He only had to win three more fights to get that prize … it would be three of the hardest battles he’d ever faced, he had no doubt about that.


Spike found Buffy in the baby’s room sitting in the rocking chair holding MacKenzie with one arm and some papers in her other.  She looked up from the papers with misty eyes when he stepped in.  He gave her a questioning look, What the bloody hell now? and she motioned for him to close the door.


“What’s wrong?” Spike asked her when the door was closed. He was getting so very tired of asking that.


Buffy gave him a sad smile and handed him the papers she’d been reading.  It was a letter to Santa, from Billy and Dani, but was clearly Annie’s handwriting; apparently she got voted the stenographer for the group, despite the fact that their eldest daughter had long ago guessed that Santa was actually her parents, and, according to the letter, had tried to dissuade Dani and Billy from even writing it:


 Dear Santa,

Everyone in our family has been very good this year, mostly. Dani did hit JJ a few times, but he hit her back, so we think it’s ok. MacKenzie hasn’t been here long enough to get into trouble, even though she spits up all over Mama’s shirts, Papa says she doesn’t mean anything by it.  We don’t know what she wants so you can choose for her.

Annie says we shouldn’t write to you this year, but Dani and Billy think that maybe you can fix stuff and make sure everyone gets what they want for Christmas. They hope it will all fit in your sleigh.

Please bring Mama and Papa a trillion dollars so we can get off welfare and stop eating chicken fried rice. Then Papa can quit work and go to Dani’s soccer games and Annie’s dance recitals and Billy’s tumbling shows and Mama can stop juggling bills because she says she’s tired of doing that.

Please bring Papa a Gem of Amarra … for most of the same reasons as requested above and so Mama can stop telling him to ‘be careful’ and worrying all the time.

Please bring Mama the strength she keeps praying for when she doesn’t think we can hear her and a new blue car with air conditioning and an iPod dock and DVD player and power windows and room for all our stuff plus JJ.  This will also be for Papa so he won’t have to go out and check Vader every time Mama goes anywhere in it.

Please bring Dani the Rollerblades she wants, the red ones that go really fast, and new soccer cleats, and a David Beckham poster to go in her room, and a Wii Sports video game which she’ll share with everyone but has first dibs on.

Please bring Billy a Kindle Fire (or a Touch if you don’t have enough Fires) and a Guitar Hero game.  Billy wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a new Stormtrooper uniform either.

Finally, please bring Bess home.

If everything won’t fit in your sleigh, you can keep the socks, shoes, underwear, and new jackets until next year or give them to someone else who would like them. We really have enough of those. It’s ok if some of it is a little late because you need to make two trips, we don’t mind.

Please be careful when you land ‘cos we have a new roof. If you break it, Mama will be very mad and Papa will probably have to beat you up because she will have a ‘bloody conniption fit’. We aren’t sure what that is, but Papa says we don’t want to know. You might want to just land in the driveway and come in the garden doors like everyone else does.

 Thank you for remembering us.

 Dani, Billy, MacKenzie, and Annie Weckerly

The big house with the new roof on Crawford Street

Sunnydale, CA USA


At the bottom of the letter, in Billy’s scrawl, was an addendum:

PS: Please bring Annie the new laptop computer she wants or an iPad. This is so she can do her homework on her own computer and not have to use Mama’s or the one at the Magic Box, not because she wants new games to play that won’t work on those old computers or because she’s tired of waiting forever for YouTube videos to play. She would also really like the Wii Dance on Broadway game.  Annie’s been good all year and only got one ‘B’ on her report card, but that was in math, so I don’t think it counts.




Attached to the letter was a page full of pictures of the items they wanted taped to a piece of red construction paper, including a picture of a bag of money, a shiny green emerald (to represent the Gem of Amarra), and a ‘Celestial Blue’ Cadillac Escalade.



Spike swallowed back the lump in his throat and tried to make a joke. “Well, at least they picked out a nice ride for ya … blue too. We’d need that trillion dollars to fill up the bloody tank, I’d reckon.”


Buffy smiled and nodded, but when her eyes met his she could see the pain and heartbreak in their blue depths.  When had life gone from snagging the last ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ to iPads and Wiis and Guitar Heroes? When had Christmas turned into a nightmare? When had December gotten so depressing?


“Well, at least they didn’t ask for anything unrealistic like a pony,” Buffy agreed. “What’s a trillion dollars to Santa? He must print it up by the sleigh loads and he probably has lots of little Chinese elves building computers and iPads for him now…


“And what’s wrong with my chicken fried rice? I thought they liked it …” Buffy moaned as she stood up and laid the sleeping MacKenzie down gently in her crib.


Spike shook his head as he looked back down at the letter. “Dunno … probably’d rather have Worms in Mud for dinner …”


“Yeah, that’s gonna happen in my lifetime,” Buffy bantered lightly as they both tried to shrug off the feeling of inadequacy and hopelessness this holiday was heaping on them.


Buffy walked up to Spike and leaned her forehead against his shoulder in despair. “Do you think IOUs would work? I mean, we could wrap them up in great big boxes the size of refrigerators and fill the boxes with green and red Styrofoam peanuts and confetti and they could shift through them to find the prize … like a supersized box of Cracker Jacks.”


“I reckon that would be just as thrilling as the prizes they put in Cracker Jack boxes…” Spike agreed dryly. 


Spike wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a hug. His heart ached for her and for them and that feeling of not being the man they deserved tightened his chest yet again. That feeling was only intensified by the fact that they’d asked for things for him and Buffy as well, like the Gem and a new car and a trillion dollars so he could come to their activities. What they were really asking for was the same thing he wanted: a happy, stable home with a mother and father that could both be involved in their lives and passions. He knew they could all certainly live without any of those things they’d asked for, but he also knew that if the Grinch stole Christmas from them, particularly Dani and Billy, it would be a heart break they’d remember their whole lives.


Spike folded the letter up and tucked it into his back pocket then dropped a soft kiss on the top of Buffy’s head. “I haveta go, pet…” he sighed grudgingly.


Buffy nodded slowly and pulled back, giving him a sad smile. “Please be careful … the demons seem to be extra twitchy on Saturdays.”


“No worries, pet. It’s my…”


“…middle name,” Buffy finished. “Let’s make it your first name tonight, ok?”


Spike snorted a sad laugh and nodded, touching her cheek gently with his palm. “No worries…” he repeated before pressing a kiss to her lips, then dropping another soft kiss on their little Testarossa’s forehead and heading out to ‘work’.




(Later that night) Sunday, December 19th, 2010, 12:00am, Sunnydale:


Spike thought that his sternum had most certainly collapsed all the way down and hit his spine as his body pancaked unto itself after being body-slammed down onto the unforgiving granite of the pit.  A kaleidoscope of brightly colored stars exploded in soft cascades of color before his eyes as his head cracked against the hard floor of the ‘ring’.  If his skull being split against the stone hadn’t sent a dizzying mixture of agony and anxiety shooting through his mind and body, the display would’ve actually been quite beautiful … almost serene and peaceful – as it was, it only served to give his opponent an even greater advantage than he already had.  


The Fyarl demon that now stood over his prone body, gloating with loud grunts and growls, which were completely unintelligible to the yuppie onlookers, was the largest and strongest and perhaps even the meanest Fyarl Spike had ever encountered – and he’d known a good many in his long life.  Through the fog in his brain, Spike could hear the crowd yelling, screaming – admonishing him passionately to ‘get the fuck up!’  Over the last weeks, the undersized blond vamp, the once unknown underdog, had become a fan favorite, and Mr. Andreev began scheduling Spike’s fights later and later to keep the patrons in the club spending money, buying drinks, and making bets as long as possible.


Spike shook his head to try and clear it as the Fyarl stood over him. The large demon’s arms were being alternatively raised in victory and pounded against his chest like King Kong as he roared and growled his declarations of triumph to the angry crowd.  Spike had him just where he wanted him …


Spike slowly and painfully pushed up to sitting. The larger demon didn’t seem to even notice Spike move as he straddled the downed vamp and continued to taunt the crowd with his success over their golden boy.  For all their size and power, Fyarls weren’t the brightest bulbs in the box and they were exceptionally susceptible to silver. Although no weapons were allowed to be brought into the pit, no one had ever said anything about Spike’s rings …


Spike blinked and willed his eyes to focus, then took his shot – he bit down on the Fyarl’s upper thigh with his fangs and shook his head violently, drawing a painful cry from the larger demon as his flesh tore and thick, green blood spewed from the gaping wound.  The demon swung an iron fist down at Spike’s head, but Spike released his bite just in the nick of time and ducked the blow as he raised his right hand and slammed his fist deep into the maw on the Fyarl’s leg.


His opponent screamed again in renewed agony and fell to his knees atop Spike. The vamp’s hand, which was embedded in the Fyarl’s leg, bent at an acute, unnatural, backwards angle at the wrist as the larger demon fell.  Spike heard and felt all the tendons in his wrist pop grotesquely and his roar of pain joined the larger demon’s as he struggled to keep his right hand, and the silver skull ring that it sported, inside the wound and in contact with the Fyarl’s blood for as long as possible.


The Fyarl’s large fist crashed against the side of Spike’s head and those stars began to explode again but only momentarily … just before everything went black.


“Whatcha doin’, luv?” Spike asked Buffy as he walked out into the bright mid-summer sun to join her near her Sherman-tank sized SUV.


“Just getting the cheese,” she replied as she stacked huge wheels of cheese in the back of a large, Celestial Blue Cadillac Escalade which actually looked celestial, with stars and moons and suns dancing and glinting brightly over its exterior.


“Don’t I get any?” Spike wondered, reaching a hand out towards some Pepper Jack cheese.


Buffy slapped his hand away. “No – you’re cheesy enough,” she informed him curtly.


“I thought you liked cheese…” Spike pointed out.


“I wear the cheese. The cheese does not wear me,” she snapped, giving him a stern look.


Spike pulled back a bit and looked at her like she’d lost her mind. “What the bloody hell are you on about?”


“These will not protect you,” Buffy offered earnestly, holding up two slices of American cheese.


“Right then …” Spike agreed, looking at her with confusion. “I’ll try t’ remember that.”


“You really should wake up – there’s no space for the cheese with this fog in here…we really need more space for the cheese,” Buffy told him with a firm nod of her head.


Spike sat up coughing as he tried to expel the acrid aroma of the smelling salts from his nostrils and remember where he was and figure out why he suddenly had a craving for some deep fried mozzarella and marinara sauce.


He looked up and saw Raj standing over him with the smelling salts and Spike collapsed back down onto the granite at his back and closed his eyes.  He’d been unconscious … he’d lost.  All the cutouts of the Christmas gifts the kids had asked Santa for in their letter mocked him by replacing the stars behind his lids and exploding into dust one by one … the iPad, the Wii games, the Rollerblades, the Kindle … each one appeared then painfully burst into a million tiny bits … just like he knew the kid’s hearts would do on Christmas morning when there was nothing from their letter under the tree from Santa.


Spike had done the math on his way to the arena earlier. If he could win this bout, he’d have enough money to buy most of those things for the kids and still pay off Mr. Shark after the fight scheduled for Christmas night … but of course, that was all predicated on the assumption that he would win both bouts … and he’d lost.


“Kiwi Spike!” Raj called when Spike dropped back down onto the floor. “You go now! Get money! Fifty dollar Raj!”


Spike blew out a defeated breath as Raj pulled his left hand to try and get him up. When Raj grabbed his mangled right hand, Spike scrambled to his feet and nearly leapt right out of his skin as he screamed and pulled it away from the boy.  “Raj sorry, Kiwi Spike! Money now!” Raj continued, pulling Spike by his good hand towards the door of the pit.


“There’s no bloody money…” Spike moaned as he stumbled forward, letting the boy pull him out of the pit and back down the corridor to the locker room. The patrons had already departed from the arena, as had his opponent – how long had Spike been out?  He wasn’t sure.


“Yes! Ticket money – Raj bet, Kiwi Spike win!” Raj prattled happily as they made it into the locker room and Spike collapsed down onto the bench near his locker.


“You moronic blighter! There’s no soddin’ money and I told ya before, I’m not a bloody Kiwi!” Spike spat at the boy angrily as he held his mangled wrist against his chest to keep it from moving.


Raj frowned and looked at Spike with large brown eyes full of hurt and disappointment. That fifty dollars Spike had been giving him for placing his bets each week had been a godsend to him and his family.  Raj tried again, pulling the betting slip out of Spike’s locker and holding it up.


“Raj get money now?” he asked hopefully, waving the paper in front of Spike’s eyes.


Spike roared in anger and grabbed the betting ticket from the boy’s hand and ripped it into four pieces, using his good hand and his teeth, and tossed the pieces in the air.  “No bloody money!” Spike snapped at him. “No money, no Christmas, no Saint-fucking-Nick!” he continued to scream, pulling the ‘Dear Santa’ letter out of his back pocket, where he’d left it for ‘luck’, and ripping it into several pieces as well and tossing them at the now frightened boy.


“Sod off!” Spike scowled at the clean-up boy, waving his good arm towards the door. 


Raj’s frown deepened, but finally he turned dejectedly and left Spike alone in the locker room. 


Spike looked at the floor littered with broken hopes and dreams, and tears stung his cut and blackened eyes. He dropped his head down into his good hand and bent forward, propping his elbow on one painfully exhausted thigh as he tried to swallow back the hurt that sprang up from his heart … not from the beating he’d taken, but from the knowledge that he’d let his family down – again.


“Well, that was a rather unlucky turn of events,” Mr. Andreev offered as he entered the locker room.


Spike snorted derisively and shook his head where it rested in his hand. “I reckon…” he agreed sarcastically as he tried to clear the mist from his eyes.  He didn’t need to be labeled a ponce; he may get another chance in the next tournament … it would be too late for Christmas, but he may still be able to get his family out of their financial predicament, just a little later than he’d hoped. Providing, of course, that he survived whatever Mr. Shark would do when Spike didn’t have his money repaid on time.


“I should disqualify you. That’s what I should do…” Mr. Andreev continued, his voice bordering between angry and exasperated.


Spike sighed heavily as that last hope that he’d be able to come back and compete next time started slipping away.  He knew using the silver to try and defeat the Fyarl was … questionable, but … he had no choice at that moment, nothing else he’d tried had even made a dent against the giant, unbelievably strong demon.


“Lucky for you, you’re popular with the crowd … you put on a good show, give them the brutality they want and keep them coming back and spending money,” Mr. Andreev continued as he dropped $2,000 in hundred dollar bills onto the bench next to Spike.


Spike saw it out of the corner of his eye and furrowed his brow, then looked up at his boss.  “What’s that for?”


Mr. Andreev shrugged. “Your winnings … but I’m warning you, don’t try another stunt like that again.”


“My … winnings?” Spike’s mind raced, or, perhaps it stumbled and lurched and finally stammered slowly … “I won?”


“Yeah … unconscious wins over dead …” the small man explained before turning and heading out of the locker room.


“Bloody hell!” Spike exclaimed in a panic. “RAJ! RAJ! Get your skinny ass back in here!” he called out the door.


When Raj reappeared in the doorway, Spike was gathering up the ripped and scattered papers from the floor with one hand and laying them out on the bench he’d been sitting on like puzzle pieces.


“Why the bloody hell didn’t you tell me I won!?” Spike demanded as he tried to piece everything back together.


Raj looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “Raj tell! Kiwi Spike win! Get money!” he defended as he moved into the room and helped Spike get the rest of the paper up from the floor.


Spike sighed and rolled his eyes. “So you did…” he admitted. He just wasn’t hearing him … he knew that he’d lost, he thought Raj was just an idiot.


“Got any clear tape?” Spike asked the boy and Raj shook his head, not understanding.


“Tape, glue, adhesive, Stickum … bloody flour and water!” Spike tried, demonstrating with his good hand that he wanted to put the papers all back together.


“Scotch!” Raj exclaimed, his eyes widening and nodding eagerly.


“Don’t need a soddin’ drink! I need tape! Glue! What the fuck!? … Ruban adhésif!” Spike tried in French then, “Bànchuānggāo,” in Chinese … Spike didn’t speak Vietnamese.


“Raj get scotch!” Raj agreed, turning and running from the room.


Spike sighed and rolled his eyes. He actually wouldn’t mind a stiff drink, but that wasn’t gonna get that betting slip put back in one piece … he hoped they’d take it taped back together – they might not; if he was the bookie, he’d tell the idiot that tore it up to sod off.


Raj returned quickly, smiling widely and holding a green-checkered Scotch tape dispenser up in triumph.


“Bloody hell…” Spike moaned, but nodded and motioned for him to help him get the betting ticket put back together.


Up at the betting window, Spike handed the repaired ticket to the woman who’d called him a Fenian.  She looked at it dubiously, raising her brows and looking up at Spike.


Spike shrugged. “Ticket had a bit of a row of its own … but good as new now,” he offered, trying to forget her earlier insult and give her his most charming smile, but he figured the grime, mixed with the bruises and red and green blood all over his face, clothing, and teeth probably wasn’t projecting the desired effect. Maybe he should’ve cleaned up first.


“I’ll have to check with the boss…” she told him, getting up off her stool and heading out of the small booth on the demon side of the betting cage and closing the door behind her so Spike couldn’t see or hear the conversation on the ‘human’ side of the fortress.


Spike shifted nervously back and forth from one foot to the other as he concocted and rehearsed a story … sad and heart wrenching, to deliver to whoever was making this decision about his ticket.  It was a lot easier when he was a ‘real vamp’ … he’da just ripped someone’s head off and that would’ve been the end of that argument.  Sometimes having a soul sucked…


After many long minutes, the woman came back into the small booth and sat back down on her stool. “Mr. Andreev says you’ve used up your good will,” the woman started and Spike’s gut twisted and wrenched and any air he’d had in his lungs to weave his tale of woe evaporated like fog in the noon-day sun.  


Not only had his stupidity cost him the $3,000 he would’ve won this night, it had cost him the $3,000 he’d bet, as well … one rash moment had cost him $6,000 … and so much more. He wouldn’t have the money for Christmas, or the money to bet next week to get enough for Mr. Shark … he just got buggered in the ass, but he’d buggered himself; it was a feeling Spike wasn’t completely unfamiliar with.


“No more favors … this is the last rule he’s gonna bend for you,” she continued as she counted out six thousand dollars and slid the stack of bills through the slot in the window to Spike.


Spike nearly fell to his knees as relief washed over him; at that moment he believed there was a God – it was a short-lived but welcome epiphany.  He grabbed the money before anyone could change their minds and stuffed it down into the pocket of his duster before heading back to the locker room where he’d left Raj taping the letter to Santa back together.


Raj smiled – as he often did, when Spike walked in. Spike didn’t know why the kid liked him so well … maybe because of the money he gave him, but maybe it was just because Spike treated him like he was a person, not an indentured servant – well, usually.


“Pretty picture!” Raj declared, holding up the red construction paper with all the pictures taped to it, which was now nearly completely laminated in Scotch tape, front and back.


“Yeah … pretty,” Spike agreed, taking it from his hand and looking at it.  He didn’t know how much that stuff cost, but he was going to do his damnedest to get every bit of it … well, not the Escalade or the Gem, of course, but the stuff for the kids.


If he spent $3,000 on Christmas and gave Buffy $1,000 for the bills, that would still leave him $4,000 to bet on Christmas night – if he won, he’d have the $10,000 to pay off Mr. Shark. He wouldn’t have any left to bet, but that didn’t matter because if he won that fight, he’d be in the final – he’d be one fight away from half a million dollars.


Not ‘if’ – when! Spike admonished himself silently, as he took a deep breath – then winced as pain shot out from his crushed sternum and collapsed lungs.  A little Slayer blood, a little rest … he’d be good as new by next week.  Spike tried to move his wrist, but didn’t get far before he decided better of it.  Didn’t matter, as long as he could move it by next Saturday, it didn’t matter right now.


Spike pulled a hundred dollar bill out of his pocket and handed to Raj … he’d give Buffy nine hundred for the bills. It was the least he could do, Raj had, after all, tried to tell him that he’d won and to go get the soddin’ money.  Truth be told, he should give it all to the boy … but he couldn’t, not now.  After the half million … then he could give the boy his due.


Raj smiled wider – he usually got fifty and that had been more than anyone had ever given him, even the Tasm’ni demons, who seemed to genuinely like him, never tipped him more than five dollars. “Kiwi Spike, the best! Super-heavy-duty! A-number-one!” Raj enthused as he tucked the gift into his pocket.


“And don’t you bloody forget it,” Spike drawled as he turned and headed out into the cool night. If he hurried, he could make it to the Bronze before closing and pick up some fried cheese and marinara sauce…




(later that morning) Sunday, December 19th, 2010, 10:00am, Sunnydale:


Buffy cast Bess’ locator spell for the third time and for the third time nothing happened.  She stood at the research table and blew out a frustrated breath, folding her arms over her chest as she tried to figure out what she was doing wrong.  She’d done the same thing she’d done every morning for the last six months … nothing had changed, expect now it wasn’t working.


Buffy touched a hand to her neck – the fresh bite was still a little tender and red – had she been giving too much blood to Spike? Had it weakened her and that’s why the spell wasn’t working anymore? She felt ok, but maybe it was taking something away that she wasn’t aware of; some power that the magic needed to work. She’d been donating regularly of late – at least once a week, sometimes twice.  Not that it was a whole pint every time, but enough to help Spike heal, and last night was one of those nights.


Spike had come home in the small hours of the morning beat all to hell – again. Despite his promise to be careful, he’d run into a Fyarl demon on his way out of work who’d jumped him and tried to steal his dart and snooker winnings from the night – and Spike wasn’t giving it up.  Buffy could understand that, but at the same time chastised him for forgetting his ‘careful’ promise.  Of course, she couldn’t stay mad at him very long when he started talking about doing it for her and the bits; the nine hundred dollars he dropped on the nightstand didn’t hurt, either.  She decided to take some of that money and buy the kids things they needed for Christmas – it wouldn’t be what they wanted, but perhaps she could swing one of the video games that they could all share and the requisite semi-annual supply of socks, underwear, and shoes, and a new winter jacket for each one of them.  Hey – it was more than some kids got, they should be grateful.  Now, if Buffy could just convince herself of that …


Buffy had also sewn up a large supply of Scrunchies and Anya was selling them at the Magic Box for her. Despite not having the patent she wanted yet, and the Magic Box not being the most logical place to sell them, she had to do something to bring in more money.  She started with a Christmas / holiday selection for now and thought she’d make some magic themed ones after the first of the year.  They actually were selling pretty well, considering it wasn’t a place you’d typically shop for hair products. 


Buffy tried to go online and figure out how to apply for a patent herself,  but the forms were daunting and honestly, she couldn’t really even figure out what the fee was, they had so many different ones – plus, even if she figured it out, she didn’t have the money to pay the fucking fee…  She hoped that she could make enough from selling the Scrunchies in the Magic Box to cover the fee to patent them and the fee for a lawyer to help her file for the patent.  It was starting to look like a Catch-22 … she just hoped no one jumped on her bandwagon and stole ‘her’ idea before she could get that done.


Buffy sighed and picked up the phone and dialed Willow and Tara’s number – maybe they’d have better luck finding Bess.


After several minutes of waiting on the phone, Willow came back on the line. “I didn’t get anything either…” she said worriedly. “I tried four times – nada.”


Buffy sighed and thanked her friend and confirmed that they were coming down for Christmas and what time they’d be there before hanging up the phone.


Buffy bit her bottom lip as she tried to think. The possibility of something dire happening to Bess was nearly non-existent … but not impossible, after all, Kralik had discovered the Gem and stolen it from Spike, but that was so bizarre it hardly seemed possible that something like that could happen twice.  Unless someone knew where to look for it … but who would know? As far as Buffy knew, the only two people that knew where on Bess’ body the Gem had been hidden were her and Spike – and not even Buffy knew exactly where it was, only that it was in her thigh, and Bess had never been told at all.


“Whatcha doin’?” Billy asked, pulling her from her musings and making Buffy jump.  She’d been so engrossed in her thoughts she hadn’t even heard him come down the stairs.


“Looking for Bess,” Buffy explained. “I can’t find her – have you talked to her lately?”


Billy looked at the dark map then back up at his mom – he was afraid this might happen. He nodded slowly. “Yeah … a couple of nights ago,” he admitted.


“And … was she ok?” Buffy prodded when he didn’t elaborate.


Billy shrugged. “Yeah, I think so, but she was asking a lot of questions about … stuff.”


“Stuff? What stuff?”


Billy scrunched his face up, pursing his lips and moving them back and forth as he often did when he was thinking intently.


“Billy, what stuff?” Buffy pressed again.


“Magic stuff …” he admitted. “I might’ve accidentally told her we knew where she was…”


Buffy sighed. “And she didn’t like that?”


“I don’t think so … She said something about being a grown up and that she didn’t need a babysitter…” Billy related with a sigh. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to tell her that, it just slipped out and … then she got to asking questions and …” Billy shrugged despondently.


“It’s ok, baby.  I guess if I was her I wouldn’t want a babysitter either,” Buffy admitted as she folded up the map and put the magic supplies away. A palpable sense of loss descended over Buffy as she did that – as if she’d lost Bess all over again, but she didn’t want Billy to feel badly, it really wasn’t his fault, so she tried to hide the hurt. She was the one that encouraged him to talk to Bess again – and Buffy had been happy to hear that she’d at least started speaking to him again in the dreams. Obviously, Bess had figured out there were amulets that blocked locator spells and where to get them…


“I don’t guess she said what her plans were, then…” Buffy ventured.


Billy shook his head. “She said she had a friend she wanted to go visit, but she didn’t say where or who. I’m sorry, Mama…”


Buffy smiled and knelt down to his level, taking both his hands in hers. “It’s not your fault, sweet boy. I know that she’ll come back one day – I can feel it in my heart, can’t you?”


Billy looked down at the floor and nodded slightly, before raising his eyes back to Buffy’s. “I think she wants to … but I think she’s scared.”


Buffy brushed some of his unruly curls away from his face and nodded. “Well, we’ll just have to wait for her to be ready and do everything we can to make sure she knows this is her home, won’t we?”


Billy nodded thoughtfully and Buffy pulled him into a hug as she blinked back tears. 


“Don’t worry Mama, Santa will bring her home – we wrote him a letter,” Billy assured her, returning her hug. “He knows where everybody is…”


Buffy laughed lightly and nodded her head as a tear rolled slowly down her cheek. This was shaping up to be a heartbreaking Christmas if ever there was one…




If We Make It Through December, Merle Haggard


If we make it through December
Everything’s gonna be all right I know
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shiver when I see the fallin’ snow

If we make it through December
I got plans of bein’ in a warmer town come summer time
Maybe even California
If we make it through December we'll be fine

I got laid off down at the factory
And there timings not the greatest in the world
Heaven knows I been workin' hard
I wanted Christmas to be right for daddy's girl
Now I don't mean to hate December
It's meant to be the happy time of year
And why my little girl don't understand
Why daddy can't afford no Christmas here

If we make it through December
Everything’s gonna be alright I know
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shiver when I see the fallin' snow

If we make it through December
I got plans of bein' in a warmer town come summer time
Maybe even California
If we make it through December we'll be fine



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