Title: And so this is Christmas
Disclaimer: All things SPN belong to Eric Kripke, et al. All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al.
Word Count: 2,034.
Summary: Christmas at the Cleveland House.
Series All Weather Inspiration
Warnings: Take a look at the pairing... this is slash. Nothing too explicit.
Notes: Written for the TtH Holiday Fic-a-Thon 2007 for KaylaShay
Notes2: the title comes from Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon.
Hearing a rattle at the bedroom door Ash grumbled, refused to open his eyes, and rolled over. It was Christmas day and way too early for anyone in the house that had defeated an apocalypse the night before. Well, not so much an apocalypse, more of a half-apocalypse? A mini-apocalypse?
"It was some demons messing up on their dates so it was just a battle, and it's Christmas, so never too early for those girls."
His eyes shot open to see Xander smiling above him.
"Nope, I'm not reading your mind, it's just what was running through mine."
"Oh, absolutely!" Xander agreed.
If he had had the energy Ash would have done something about it, he managed a halfhearted glare instead.
Xander smiled and leaned down to brush a kiss across his lips,
"You know you love me."
The door rattled again, this time Xander sighed,
"Whoever it is won't wait much longer before they come in."
"Mmmn," Ash answered and tried to roll over, forgetting that Xander was leaning over him.
"Not gonna work, Ash."
"Yeah, but you woulda had Christmas without me if you had."
"Ah, you waking up a little? That almost sounded like a real word there."
This time Ash's energy was returning so he made use of an elbow, knocking Xander, unfortunately causing him to fall down... onto Ash.
"Oof! Yeah, that worked."
"Guys!" Came a shout from the hallway, "Breakfast in ten!"
Ash rubbed a hand across his face, trying to get his brain and mouth to connect,
"You guys have a timetable on Christmas?"
"Yeah, place this big it's the only way to get it to work," Xander answered, finally moving off the bed and reaching for a discarded pair of jeans, "don't worry too much, one of the neighbourhood control freaks'll keep you right."
"Time is it?"
"Did you even look at the clock?"
"Nope, but this early we can't be off schedule already," after chucking on a t shirt Xander reached over and dragged Ash out of bed, "come on, or Wills'll start rambling and Giles'll start doing the clicky thing."
Ash finally put down his fork and leant back from the table, breathing a deep sigh of contentment.
"Wow, did you guys work up an appetite last night, or what?" Dawn snarked.
"Yeah, Dawnie," Xander answered, "it's called a battle."
"Why don't I-"
"Children!" Giles shouted, "if we can manage to reach the present opening before devolving this far?"
Dawn and Xander looked at each other and laughed. Then Xander turned to Andrew, and Dawn to Buffy and each held out a hand. Both Andrew and Buffy sighed, reached into pockets and handed over five dollars each. Ash looked between the four and back to Giles who was somewhere between disgruntled and grinning.
"Mr Giles?" A junior slayer called from further down the table, "does that mean we can open our presents now?"
At this everyone laughed and began to clear from the table. Willow tried to shout above everyone,
"Under the main tree in five, guys!"
Ash stood in awe of the madness in the doorway to the parlour of the Council house. Twenty teenaged slayers, thirty watchers and the core of the original Sunnydale gang all piled into the room round the giant tree he'd helped Xander haul in the week earlier. Someone must have been up earlier than everyone else as there were giant mounds of presents under the tree.
He let Xander pull him into the room and down next to Buffy and Dawn who were cuddled into one of the large sofas. He almost laughed as Willow stood by the tree, clipboard in hand. Buffy leaned over, tapped him on the arm, and spoke,
"I wouldn't, you wouldn't believe the organisation that goes into this. The younger ones even have a competition to see which four get to hand out the presents."
Even as she spoke four of the youngest bounced up to Willow, eagerly awaiting direction.
"Ok," Willow announced, "for those of you who weren't here last year, Carrie, Mel, Jen and Becca will hand out the presents," she paused as the junior slayers let out a giant whoop of delight, "uh huh, anyway. Once that's done it's each to their own with family presents and stuff from out of town. Then when we get to the secret Santa presents we take it in turns, k?"
Ash watched as the four girls burst into action, it only taking twenty minutes to distribute the piles of presents under the tree. He was surprised at the size of his own hoard, even if a lot of the presents did look similar.
"Isn't a bit weird, how into Christmas Willow is?" he muttered into Xander's ear.
"We don't mention it - she's Willow... she does things how she does and that's the way it goes. Plus she does solstice stuff too." Xander muttered back, using the need for quiet as an excuse to pull Ash further in towards his body.
"You good?" he asked as he threaded his arm around Ash's waist.
"Mmm," Ash answered, snuggling into the warmth.
"You gonna open any of those?"
Ash sorted through his presents, discovering that all but the secret Santa present were the same size and feel.
"Some sort of theme this year?"
"Very possibly," Buffy answered from his other side with a knowing grin on her face.
Ash picked up the first, reading the tag from Sam and Dean
, snorting and wondering when the hell those two had had the time to go Christmas shopping. He pulled open the wrapping paper and pulled out the present. He blinked disbelievingly. Silk boxers? Silk boxers with Rudolf on them?
"Huh," he decided it was Dean playing a joke on him and reached for another package, ignoring the snickers coming from Dawn's direction. The next package was from Jo and Ellen, knowing Ellen it would be more sensible than the first. He unwrapped the parcel and pulled out another pair of boxers, silk again, and this time with elves frolicking across the backside.
Dawn burst into giggles.
Ash frowned an looked up at her,
"Don't you have presents to open?"
"Nope, I'm all done."
He picked up a third present, this one from Willow; he looked up to see her sitting down with her hoard of presents next to Dawn.
"This one's from you, Willow."
She grinned at him,
"I know, open it!"
He did. And scowled again. Silk boxers. Silk boxers with Harry Potter style wands on them.
"Don't you like them, Ash?" Willow asked, a small pout developing.
Ash sighed and stuck his tongue out at her, ignoring the slight shaking coming from his boyfriend, who wasn't laughing at him, at all.
The next parcels were the same, a pair from Buffy (axes), a pair from Giles (laptops), a pair from Missouri (crystal balls), a pair with a card that looked like it had been signed by a bunch of hunters, probably ones who had been through the roadhouse in the week before Christmas (guns), a pair from Xander (plain black silk - marginally better than the rest).
By the time he came to the last of the parcels Dawn was almost hanging off the sofa from laughing so hard, and most everyone else weren't too far behind. This final parcel was from Dawn, again silk boxers - this time with the words Bite Me
written in a blood red shade across the backside.
"Are you guys trying to tell me something?"
Dawn barely managed her answer of, "who us?" before collapsing into further giggles and holding up her mobile phone with Jo laughing on the other end.
Only Xander's hand grabbing onto the back of his jeans stopped him from launching himself at Dawn for a tickle war.
"Ok, guys," Willow started, "I don't think anyone's going to complain if we let Ash open his secret Santa first, right?"
Everyone, including the youngest of the slayers who could barely contain their excitement over the day, shook their heads.
Ash slowly picked up the box,
"It's not just a box full of more silk boxers, right?" He asked, pretty sure it wasn't, but you never knew with this lot.
"Nope," was Dawn's only answer.
He carefully undid the wrapping and opened the plain box.
"It's-, I-, wow."
He sat staring into the box. Sitting innocently on one side of the box was a collection of CDs that Dean Winchester himself would be jealous of. On the other side was a leather jacket that he'd found himself drooling over the last time Buffy had dragged him shopping. And in the middle was another, smaller box.
He picked it up and shook it softly, listening to it rattle.
"How did whoever-? I thought there was a limit?"
"There is," Dawn answered, "but everyone gave your Santa some money towards your present, you know, to make up for the boxers?"
"Are you going to open the box, Ash?"
"Hmm, oh, yeah."
He opened it carefully. Inside was a set of keys; he'd seen similar sets many times; Buffy had a set she kept dropping behind the bar at the roadhouse; Xander had a set that were often dropped onto his bedside table.
"I-, I don't know what to say."
"I do," Willow said, "I know I wasn't too, you know, at the start," ignoring the snorts from various directions, she carried on, "but you're one of us now. So no matter where you are, you can always come here. Always."
"Thank you," was all he could manage as he put the keys into his pocket and leaned once more into Xander.
Willow smiled softly at him and then glanced at her clipboard,
"Right, then... Jessica? Your turn."
Ash faded half out of consciousness, barely taking note of all the other secret Santa presents; all he truly noticed was the warmth and the happiness of the season.
Later in the day, long after the present opening session, and the most filling Christmas roast he'd ever devoured, everyone gathered out on the back lawn. This time the eldest two of the junior slayers followed the youngest two, who passed out candles to everyone, and lit them.
People stood in small groups all staring out into the forest behind the Council House, or up into the night sky, mostly silent.
The names carried on for several more minutes and then faded into silence once more. After a few moments all the candles suddenly went out and a second later a giant bonfire in the middle of the lawn was lit.
The group broke further apart; some sitting on the benches placed at a safe distance around the bonfire others, sitting closer to the house. He followed Xander who was chatting quietly to Buffy and Dawn to the nearest bench. He wondered how many names would be added to the list next year, if is own would, if Xander's, if maybe the Winchester's wouldn't make it.
"You know what Anya would be saying about now?" Dawn asked, a small smile on her face lit by the flickering bonfire.
Buffy and Xander grinned and Ash shrugged,
"The real Santa story."
"The real Santa story?"
"Yeah, see... there really is a Santa-"
A few hours later Ash was lying in bed, watching as Xander threw off his clothes, and thinking back on the day.
"Good Christmas?" Xander asked as he crawled under the covers.
"Good Christmas. You?" Ash said as he curled around Xander's warm body.
"Yup. Hey, you know we could have some fun with those boxers," Xander said as he turned towards Ash with a grin across his face.
"We could? I figured they were just a joke, get back at me for all the times people walked in on me naked."
"Well, yeah, they were that too," Xander laughed, "but they were silk, have you ever had silk that close?"
Xander held up his hand, showing the plain black boxers he'd bought for Ash, and waggled his eyebrows.
"Fancy some inspiration, boxers style?"