WORD COUNT 2225
SUMMARY: Spike tries to celebrate Christmas Eve- the first one after Xander's passing
WARNINGS: Character Death Mentioned.
NOTES: This is something new I'm trying, so, I want HONEST opinions. Goes along with Tonight, Smile, In the Still of the Night and "Into the Dark" but you don't need to read them to understand.
DISCLAIMER: You recognize them? I don’t own them.
Spike balanced his goddaughter on his knee. In front of them, the twelve foot Christmas tree was brightly lit. She screeched happily, reaching out for a candy cane. He glanced down, suppressing a chuckle before speaking.
"It's pretty, ain't it, Little Bird?" he asked, gently bouncing her on his knee. "Happy first Christmas, Miss Xander-Rose." He buried his nose in her curly brown hair, inhaling the scent of her lavender baby shampoo. "Your mums will be back. Had to get batteries and pick up Grandpa Giles at the hotel." He turned, grabbing the baby bottle from behind him.
It was the first Christmas since Xander had passed away. Spike wasn't sure how he was getting through it other than the fact that Buffy and Willow had kept him occupied with the baby, trying to prepare for her first Christmas.
"You're named after a great person who I miss very much." As he fed her, he glanced into her brown eyes. "You remind me of him too. It's your faces, Little One." He cradled her against his shoulder and began to firmly pat her back.
"Well, ain't gonna dwell. Not right now anyway. You deserve a good first Christmas. The rest may be nuts, knowing your family but we are gonna give you a good first one. Xan would have wanted it that way." He stood, still cradling her. "When he was sick, he would talk about wanting to meet you. You were one of the things that kept him going when the end was so close. Eventually, we had to let him go. It wasn't that he didn't love you but he was very tired." He sighed. "Your Mommy wanted to name you Antigone for bit. Lovely name- not the best story. When I shared that with Xander, he sat straight up in the hospital bed-which wasn't an easy feat for him and he chirped 'You are not naming her for an incestous daughter!' Still to this day- we have no idea where he got the strength to be so forceful."
The door opened.
"Hello, Miss Xander-Rose," Buffy chirped, grabbing her from Spike. "Were you a good girl for Uncle Spike?" She gently kissed the baby on her chubby cheek.
"She's been plotting to get a candy cane the entire time. Can't understand why- nasty little things. Peppermint." Spike grimaced. "She didn't cry. She ate a little. Burped s bit amd we were just talking."
"She learned to talk?" Willow held up a drugstore bag. "We found the batteries!"
"Well, I did the talking. She did the listening. Good at that- she is," Spike said. "Did you forget Giles?"
"No, had to get my gift for the baby out of the trunk." Giles walked in, carrying a large suitcase. "She's gotten so big."
"Well, compared to seeing her in the hospital, she has," Buffy said. She squatted, placing Xander-Rose in her swing. "She's still pretty small to us." She set the swing and watched as it moved back and forth.
"How old is she now?"
"Five months. We just started her on the bottle a bit so she doesn't have to be tied to me. So far, she only takes it from Spike and we can't figure out why," Willow murmured, setting the bag down. She glanced around, her hands flying to her hips. "I almost feel like we should wait til morning for gifts."
"Have the same vibe, Red," Spike admitted. "Just doesn't feel like Christmas." His eyes flew to the baby, still swinging away. "Like I said before you came back, we need to make it Christmas for the little bird. It's how Xan would have wanted it."
Over a bottle of fine red wine, they sat in a circle and talked about Xander. When the baby began to fuss, Giles was more than happy to pick her up and bring her to the circle. Surprisingly, she sat still in his lap, just watching the people around her.
"I remember wishing she'd have Xander's eyes. No offense, Wil." Buffy reached over, lightly squeezing Willow's knee. "I love your eyes but..."
"You wanted her to have his so there was no way we'd forget?" Willow finished her sentence.
Spike sometimes found it rather strange that Buffy and Willow seemed to be psychically connected at time. They reminded him of the way he had been with Xander, only girlier and slightly more serious.
"I don't think it's possible for us to forget Xander," Giles said. "Lord knows I keep expecting him to call me "G-Man"." He passed the baby to Willow and then sipped his wine. "Might I make a suggestion?"
"Of course." Buffy spoke, answering for the rest of the group.
"Light a candle for Xander, wish him a merry christmas and then put him to rest until December twenty-sixth." Giles sighed, staring at the carpeted floor. "I know it's cruel but..."
Buffy was visibly aghast.
Spike rushed to answer before either woman could begin to chew the older man out.
"He'd want the entire day devoted to her. All her other Christmases may not be this peaceful. She deserves a good first one with those who love her. I agree with Giles."
In all the years he had known Giles, he had never imagined that he would ever agree with him. This time though, he saw no other choice. Xander WOULD have wanted the holiday focused on Xander-Rose and after all, they had spent Thanksgiving, getting drunk and mourning him. Giles hadn't been able to be there but he had certainly heard about it.
Willow brought out a cupcake scented candle and a long guitar shaped lighter.
"Does someone want to say something?" She set the lit candle in the middle of the circle.
"I do." Buffy handed the baby to Spike. She waited until the candle flame was flickering. "Wherever you are, Xander, merry Christmas. If you are with Angel, give him a hug for me and tell him that everyone misses him- just as much as we miss you. I know you never got to meet Xander-Rose Harris Summers but just know she has your eyes and will ALWAYS know about the role you played in getting her here." She sniffled softly.
"Me next." Willow stared at the flickering flame. "It's Christmas. I can't wait to keep our traditions alive with Xander-Rose. I didn't watch 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' this year because it just didn't feel right. As soon as she's old enough though, I'll keep it alive with her. Merry Christmas, Xander."
"Xan, I'm sitting here, surrounded by family, holding the daughter you helped to bring here. She's happy and healthy and looks more like you and Willow with each day that passes. She wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. It's the first Christmas without you and I think we miss you more because of that. I love you, Alexander Harris. Never forget that. Just never forget that."
"I don't want to share. Nothing against everyone but I wish to share in private later." Giles sighed.
"We blow this flame out so you may rest with our messages for the holidays. Know you are loved and with us forever and always." Willow leaned in and blew the candle out with a single puff of breath.
As hard as he tried, Spike was unable to get Xander off his mind. The only respite he got was when Xander-Rose was in his arms. He wasn't sure what it was about the baby that helped him but he took great comfort in her.
"It's past her bedtime." Spike stood up, cradling the sleepy baby against his chest. "Do either of you mind if I put my goddaughter down for the night?" He held her tightly.
"Go ahead. She always goes down better for you." Willow glanced from her watch to Buffy and back. "Do you think she needs to be nursed?"
Buffy flipped around, grabbing a bottle of milk. "Let Spike feed her. We both know she'll be up at 2 AM for her regular feed and cuddle." She beamed as she spoke.
Willow tucked the bottle under Spike's arm.
"If she gives you any trouble, just give me a call and I'll come right up. Also, don't forget to change her. We don't need diaper rash."
Xander-Rose sighed sleepily.
Spike wandered into the nursery. He sighed, taking in the lavender walls. He settled into the glider, switching his grip on her. As soon as he was sure she was comfortable, he pushed the bottle nipple between her lips. He sighed, watching her seize it and beginning to suck furiously.
"I love you, Little Bird. You remind me so much of my Xander. You're named after one of the greatest people I've ever known and I can only hope that you grow up, knowing about the man you were named after. I loved him with all my heart." The runners of the chair softly squeaked.
Moonlight drifted in through the curtain lace. It illuminated Xander-Rose's sleepy eyes. Spike bit hard on his lip, trying to ignore the rush of pain that made his stomach clench.
She looked exactly like Xander.
"Okay, Little Bird." He set the bottle down. "Let's get you into a clean diaper and some sleeping clothes and then it's off to sleep."
He quickly changed her diaper and dressed her in a pink and brown long sleeved sleeper. Then, he grabbed a pink cashmere blanket and lovingly swaddled her.
"We can rock a bit, Little Miss." He settled back into the glider with her. She sighed, shifting in his arms. "You're going to love this world. As soon as you're walking, we'll have you exploring the world. We've only been settled this long because of Xander and waiting for your grand arrival. Now you're here, happy and healthy."
"Isn't she?" Spike glanced up, and audibly gasped.
Xander was right in front of him.
"Bloody Hell. Am I hallucinating?" Spike instinctively held Xander-Rose closer to him. "You're dead!"
"I am?" Xander glanced down at his feet. He smirked. "Oh right- I am." He squatted next to the glider, peeking into the cashmere bundle. "She has my eyes." He smirked.
"Only you could just stroll in here after having been dead for seven months and act like nothing ever happened." Spike's facitious nature hid his real feelings. As confidant as he acted, he was quite baffled and slightly frightened.
"I've been watching since she was born but it's so different seeing her up close." Xander reached out, lightly stroking her cheek with his index finger.
"Why are you here?" Spike flinched, realizing how blunt he sounded. Here he was, having a moment that most people would kill for and yet, he was being putzy about it. "Thought it would be a while before I saw you again."
"So did I. But I was informed it was a clause people could active. The Love Light Clause. In the first year after passing, one can opt to return for a little while on Christmas Eve. I wanted to see you and meet the baby."
"Do you want to hold her?"
"No. If I hold her, I'll never want to let her go. I'm happy watching you hold her."
"Are you happy?" Spike cleared his throat. "Truly happy?"
"As happy as a man can be when he's not with the ones he loves. I'm always watching though,"
Spike had always thought that if this moment ever happened, he would have a lot to say, all meaningful. Yet, now that it was happening, he found that he was content with Xander's mere presence.
"Well, I've got about two minutes more." Xander glanced at the crystal chandelier. "Buffy?"
"Should have seen the way they fought. Buffy wanted the nursery to be girly. Willow wanted it to be practical. This is what they settled on. Once they found the cow bedding, there was no turning back," Spike murmured, realizing that Xander-Rose was sound asleep. He moved slowly to his feet and moved to the crib. Setting her down, he turned to face Xander. "We'll see each other again, won't we?"
"When it's your time. I know you intended to join me as soon as you could-but I need a favor." Xander reached out, lightly caressing Spike's cheek.
Startled, Spike pulled back. Xander's touch was cold even for him...
"Wait until you know Xander-Rose doesn't need you. She's going to need someone to balance out her crazy moms."
"For you, I will." Spike leaned in. "Have to leave soon, don't you?"
"Another minute." Xander tilted his head towards Spike.
Their lips barely touched, just grazing each other. Slowly the kiss deepened. Spike swore he could taste the sheer essence of Xander. As he pulled away, he gazed deeply into the eyes of the man he loved.
Who knew when he would see them again?
"I love you," he said in the faintest whisper. "I love you, Xan."
Xander glanced up from the shag carpeting. "I love you too, Spike. We will meet again someday. I promise. And we all know Alexander Lavelle Harris is incapable of lying." He closed his eyes, biting down on his lip.
Then, he was gone.
Spike blinked back tears, visibly confused.
Xander was gone again like nothing had ever happened.