Title: Tiny Jewish Santa Goes Ballistic
Summary: The gang eagerly awaits Willow’s return from holiday shopping. With good reason.
Spoilers: All of Angel; All of BtVS (including ‘Chosen’)
Season: Post Chosen
Rating: 18 (Willow gets a little carried away)
Disclaimers: I don’t own any of the characters, situations or dialogue found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the Series. This is purely a work of fiction and no intent to defame or gain profit from this enterprise is intended.
A/N: Edited to fix a couple of errors that orangemike was observant enough to pick out. Many thanks. Please note that this is a work of fiction and no actual disparagement of anyone’s religion is intended. Also, since there are no pairings, it’s not an FFA fic. I’m just a slave to the plot bunny. Sorry it got a uber-fluffy at the end there. Happy Chanukah to all!
Xander hung up the phone and grinned evilly at Dawn, rubbing his hands together in anticipation like a mad scientist. “I think Faith, Buffy, Giles and Robin are downstairs training–you probably want to get them. That was Will. She’s on her way home and she’s had a mocha.”
Dawn’s eyes widened and she jumped up from the floor where she’d just finished wrapping Willow’s gifts. Even though Willow wasn’t a practicing Jewish person anymore, she was still a definite non-Christian and had decided while still dating Tara that Christmas had enough supporters and that she’d stick to celebrating Chanukah, which she felt was woefully under-represented. Dawn was happy about that–it was much easier to find a Happy Chanukah card than it was to find one that said Joyous Yule.
She ran to the top of the stairs, opened the heavy wooden door and bellowed down the stairs, “Hey guys! Willow just called–-she’s finished her shopping, she’s over-caffeinated, and she’s on her way home from the mall!”
Immediately there was the sound of pounding footsteps as Buffy and Faith charged up the stairs, sweaty from their training. Dawn dodged out of the way and hid behind the undecorated tree in the living room. Buffy briefly lost her footing on the waxed hardwood floor and smacked into the newel post. Faith took the advantage and, laughing, sprinted up the stairs and into the bathroom, slamming the door. Rubbing her left arm, Buffy trudged her way upstairs and stationed herself outside the door, grabbing a towel from the hall linen closet as she went. “Hurry up, Faith, or we’ll miss the beginning!”
Giles and Robin followed from the basement at a much more sedate pace. Robin was shaking his head and smiling while Giles polished his glasses. They walked into the living room and sat on the sofa.
“It’s safe to come out, Dawn. The rampaging horde is upstairs.”
Dawn peeked around the tree just to make sure. All clear. “Phew. Thanks, Giles. Xander’s really got to get that other bathroom operational before they kill somebody doing that.”
Robin twisted in his seat to look over his shoulder at her, “It’s not usually a problem, Dawn. Usually you, Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander are somewhere else. This year is the exception, with everyone in Cleveland. Faith and I only need one functional shower on a daily basis, after all.”
Dawn shook her head to clear it from the vivid mental pictures she got. Knowing precisely the image he’d painted and satisfied with the results, Robin turned around, picked up a catalog from the coffee table and began leafing through it. Giles polished his glasses and pulled an extremely thick leather-bound book off the same table, removed his bookmark, and resumed reading.
“Codex? Obscure apocalyptic prophesy?”
Giles smiled at Dawn’s question. “No, actually. Dickens–A Christmas Carol. I thought it was strangely appropriate.”
Meanwhile, at some point during the race for the slayer race for the shower Xander had entered the kitchen and begun pulling things out of the cabinets and refrigerator, seemingly at random, putting them on the center island. He studied the potatoes, onions, eggs, salt, pepper, vegetable oil and matzo meal with a critical eye and reviewed his mental catalog of latke ingredients. Satisfied, he knelt down and began rummaging through the cupboards. He reached over his head and placed a plastic colander on the counter next to the potatoes, hoping his intentions weren’t too obvious. “Hey, has anyone seen the peeler and hand grater?”
Apparently finished with her shower, Faith wandered into the kitchen in a pair of loose cotton pants, tank top and zip-front hooded sweatshirt, rubbing a towel through her wet hair, “Dude, do Robin and I even own a hand grater?”
He looked up from his position on the floor. “Yeah, we bought it for Willow last year, but she got hung up at the last minute, remember? Some kind of demon uprising in Chile, I think. Riley and Graham said she was pretty good, but nowhere near what they remembered from college. Probably still off her game after the whole Kennedy thing. Anyway, assuming you didn’t use it to kill anybody or to make your jeans all raggedy in the past year, it should still be here.”
Faith thought for a minute. “Check the cabinet next to the stove. It’s probably in the back. Peeler’s in the dishwasher.”
After placing the vegetable peeler next to the food, Xander opened the cabinet to the right of the stove. Three plastic gallon bottles marked “Holy Water” and at least twenty wooden stakes stared back at him. “Wrong cupboard.”
“Check the other side, genius.” She threw the damp towel across the room in the general direction of the washer and dryer. It landed in an empty laundry basket. Three points.
Before Xander could answer, Buffy rushed into the kitchen, dressed in a pair of jeans and a button front shirt. She also had wet hair, but she was barefoot and holding her socks. “Is she here yet? Did I miss anything?”
“Calm down, B. I still don’t get what all the excitement’s about, really.”
Buffy frowned. “Then why’d you make the mad dash for the bathroom?”
Faith smirked back. “I was sweaty and wanted to be clean. Plus you, Dawnie and Xander have given this thing such a big build up that I wanted to get the full-on experience.”
Buffy looked over at Xander, who was currently on his hands and knees and pulling assorted pots, pans and plastic containers out of the cupboard and putting them on the floor. She sat on the floor and began to pull her socks on. “Did you make popcorn?”
“Ah ha! Found it!” Xander’s victory cry was quickly curtailed by his swearing as he bumped his head on the inside of the cabinet. “Ow! Damn it!” He looked at Buffy and grimaced in pain, rubbing the back of his head. “No, I didn’t get around to it yet. You can do that while I’m putting this away.” He haphazardly shoved the pots and plastic containers into the cupboard, laying the frying pan on the stove and placing a fresh roll of paper towels on the counter next to the stove but out of range of the burners.
Buffy stood and walked quickly to the cabinet Faith and Robin used as a pantry. All the Scoobies were comfortable in Faith and Robin’s Cleveland townhouse–Xander more than everyone else, since he was helping them to restore it in his spare time, but everyone else had spent time there when they weren’t finding and training the new slayers or watchers, either just visiting or helping out for hellmouth-related things.
She took the box of microwave popcorn out of the cupboard and contemplated. She and Dawn were good for a bag on their own, as was Xander. She’d better make all three bags.
“Xander, you’re not Jewish, right?”
“Nope.” He was leaning against the cupboard, hoping that his weight would be enough to get the catch to connect. He stood up straight when he felt the snick. “Why?”
As the scent and sound of popping popcorn filled the air, Faith hopped up on the counter to the left of the stove and swung her legs. “It’s just that I’ve never seen you so jazzed about a holiday before. I know that Thanksgiving’s B’s thing, and Dawn’s way into Christmas, and Andrew’s got that totally strange kink for Arbor Day...”
Xander shuddered briefly in remembrance. They’d found their resident geek in the park in nothing but a pair of jeans and a whole bunch of leaves, running around hugging the trees and thanking them for their life-giving oxygen. “Um, okay here’s the thing...”
Buffy groaned. “Not the thing. The thing’s bad.”
He rolled his eyes at her. Last year’s resolution to be more emotionally open completely sucked ass. “Around my house, the holidays were horrible in a realm beyond imagining. My family’s way of celebrating was to get piss-faced drunk and yell at each other at the top of their lungs until they passed out. Back when we were little, Willow’s folks were obsessively into the good parent thing and wanted to make sure that she ‘appreciated her Jewish heritage,’ so they used to really do Chanukah up–lighting the menorah, singing songs, all that good stuff. They invited Jesse and me over to celebrate so we could appreciate Will’s Jewish heritage too. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the three of us being chock full of crispy potatoey-onion goodness and spinning the dreidel for chocolate coins and nuts while the candles burned behind us.”
He smiled at Faith and Buffy in remembrance and continued, crossing his arms over his chest, leaning on the counter and facing them both. “What could be bad about that, right? You got gambling, you got chocolate, you got fire...all fun things. Then we’d try not to ignite the wrapping paper when we unwrapped presents. If the timing worked out right, we'd sneak over to my house and watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. We lost a lot of that once we started getting older and got involved in all the nonstop demon-y adventure park that was Sunnydale, but it’s still the closest thing to traditional holiday family stuff I’ve got. I think I like it better than Will does, actually.”
Xander gave the kitchen a final once-over and opened the refrigerator to investigate. Yup, still there. “Okay, good. The sour cream and applesauce are both present and accounted for.” Meaning that Dawn hadn’t eaten them while he wasn’t paying attention. Satisfied that his preparations were complete, he closed the fridge, grabbed a bag of popcorn from the counter and wandered into the living room.
Faith swallowed the lump in her throat. Maybe this Chanukah/family party thing wouldn’t be so bad, even if she didn’t completely understand why part of the Chanukah tradition involved watching the Peanuts’ Christmas Special. She shrugged. Probably just a Xander thing. After all it was kinda cool finally having people to buy stuff for. Silence reigned for a moment, then Faith looked at Buffy. “So, what happens now?”
Buffy grinned at the brunette. “When Willow gets back, we get the traditional Willow Chanukah Rant. Then Xander whines for a minute, and we get potato pancakes.” She looked at her watch. “Ooh, we’d better go into the living room. She’ll be here any minute.”
Dawn had cleaned up the wrapping paper, tape, scissors, tags and ribbons and set up the silver menorah so that it held two white candles–one in the center, one on the outside edge. There was a pack of matches next to it. She had positioned herself on the floor between Xander’s feet and was snitching the occasional piece of popcorn. Xander was sitting in the armchair, which he’d moved to be directly opposite the archway into the living room.
Giles and Robin were still on the sofa. Giles was still reading, but Robin had put the catalog down and was channel surfing. Faith took a seat between them and curled into Robin’s side like a cat, putting her sock-clad feet in Giles’ lap. He didn’t even blink.
Buffy pondered her seating options. She didn’t want to sit on the floor–it was best to give Willow all the space she needed to move while she ranted–it increased the quality exponentially. She finally took a seat on the floor behind the coffee table, between Giles’ end of the sofa and Xander’s armchair. She skootched up against the back of the sofa between Giles’ legs, laid her head on his knee, and waited for the show to start, content.
For his part, Giles turned a page and reached down absently for some popcorn. Buffy handed him three kernels. He was about to complain about her miserly ways when the door flew open and Willow stormed in, bundled in winter clothes and carrying many multi-colored shopping bags. The door shut behind her with a bang.
Buffy was dying of curiosity, but she knew from experience that Willow’s best rants came when she first got home. She resolutely ignored the siren’s call of shopping bags. There’d be time for nosiness later.
Willow dumped the bags on the floor and peeled off her winter layers, hanging them on the hooks next to the front door. Dawn grinned up at Xander in expectation. He grinned back. Robin turned off the television and everyone waited for the redhead to finish getting undressed. Knowing his duty as best friend, Xander drawled, “So, Will, how was the mall?”
“Okay, first of all, I want to know whose brilliant idea it was to heat the mall to eighty degrees when it’s full of people who are coming in from outside, wearing heavy coats because it’s twenty fucking degrees outside! There should be a coatroom or something–or they should just throw a couple of rocks in the corner and call it a sauna! Then people walk around, all sweaty and stinky, because on top of all the heat is the fact that they’re doing laps around the building looking for the perfect gift for their significant other, hoping that the gift will be enough to make that person propose, or whatever. Which is a lot of pressure to put on a poor defenseless piece of jewelry, if you ask me. Not that anyone did...”
Giles put his book down and decided now probably wasn’t the best time to remind Willow about the food stands that existed to sell beverages to customers.
“Then, I’m standing in the card store, looking for a simple Chanukah card to send to my parents, assuming I still have their current fucking address, of course, and some eighty-year-old woman with purple hair who’s like three feet tall and kinda looks like the crypt-keeper pats me on the shoulder and tells me that, in the spirit of the season, she’s going to pray for me so that I finally come to my senses and accept Jesus Christ as my ‘one true savior’ and celebrate his birth properly next year. So, I’m completely speechless and can’t even come up with a good spell, and all I really want is for D’Hoffryn to send one of his minions to fix her little red wagon. But no minions show up–and did you ever notice that there’s never a good demonic minion around when you want one?–so I leave the store before I punch her and someone calls security to drag me off to the big house. Do you think there’s a mall prison?”
Faith hid her grin in Robin’s shoulder. Leave it to Red to go insane over holiday shopping. Her rant was definitely living up to all the hype.
“And what the hell is it with the Christmas carols? I think they use the same CD everywhere you go and on every radio station for a month. Or three months, now that the stores have decided that it’s best to start preparing for Christmas before Halloween’s even over. And then! Then the carols get stuck in your head and you can’t think of anything else. They use techniques like that when they’re brainwashing people–it’s gotta be a government conspiracy perpetuated by the retail industry to make you happy and increase sales, no matter how much money you’ve got when you walk into the mall. I’ve been humming Adeste Fideles for four hours now and spent twice as much as I meant to! You can’t tell me they’re not linked somehow!”
She began to pace furiously in front of the coffee table. Dawn pulled her legs up so Willow didn’t trip on them. “You don’t see Jewish people forcing their music on everyone else. Okay, there are only like, four Chanukah songs and one of them’s about a spinning piece of wood with letters on it and it’s only got the one verse that anyone knows, but that’s hardly the point. Even Barbra fucking Streisand released a Christmas album!”
A snort escaped Dawn, who quickly covered her mouth with her hand. She would not look at Buffy, she would not look at Buffy...instead, Robin caught her eye and winked. She almost suffocated trying not to laugh. Poor Willow. The redhead had moved back to the under the archway between the front hall and the living room and was gesticulating wildly as she paced, oblivious to her friends’ amusement.
“Okay, and it’s like the busiest time of the year for stores, right? Wouldn’t you think there’d be more than one cashier on the entire fucking floor to help customers? So I’m standing in line for, oh, eternity, and it’s reaching to somewhere near Guatemala when I finally get to the register, and she’s ringing me out, but the price in the register isn’t the price on the tag, which doesn’t match the price on the sign–so she’s got to call the manager. After another ten minutes of waiting, the manager comes over, reeking of cigarette smoke, and they argue about prices and ringing procedures while I stand there, holding my breath, letting my youth pass me by, and hoping for Angelus to show up to eat the manager just so I can get out of there, which I finally do, only to get stopped on my way out of the store by a rent-a-cop because the security tag’s beeping. So I have to go back to the counter and wait in that stupid line again to get the tag removed, and on my way back through the perfume department, I get sprayed with something by those rabid perfume tester women, so I spend the next five minutes walking through the middle of the mall sneezing my stupid head off as people back away from me in horror from the stinkiness that is my new coat. I’m totally annoyed at this point, so I stop and have a mocha. It calms me down enough so I can finish my shopping and barely even notice the brain-impaired moron with a Chanukah bush kiosk.”
Xander coughed to cover a laugh and handed the popcorn bag down to Dawn. She shook her head. The ludicrousness of Willow being calmed down with caffeine had Buffy turning her face into Giles’ right knee, her shoulders shaking with laughter. Robin’s mouth was hanging open.
“And I’m finally finished shopping, right, and there’s another three inches of snow on the ground, which is great–hey, white Christmas–and isn’t that just a little discriminatory?–when I notice that the plows haven’t gone by in a while and I’m not wearing any boots since it wasn’t snowing when I left the house and I didn’t get the stupid city-wide memo about wearing boots anytime between October and April. So I slip, but don’t fall. But there’s a herd of teenage boys with skateboards outside the store, and they’re applauding. So I shoot one of them with a teeny tiny bolt of lightning and get in my car.”
Giles took silent inventory. Willow’s hair was still red, her eyes were still green, and she was vein-free. Apparently that spot of vengeance had no ill effects on her, but it was still better to check just to be on the safe side.
“So, I’m on my way home and I’ve got the radio on, and the dumbass DJ is advertising the station’s non-denominational Christmas party, and I’m so pissed I almost drive off the road and turn around to beat some sense into the idiot. I’ve got news for the world–if it’s Christmas, it’s about Christ, and celebrating his birth, so it’s fucking denominational! I don’t care if a party’s denominational or not, but if you’re going to be pretend to be multi-cultural, at least have a frigging clue that not everyone on the planet worships Santa!”
Willow stopped abruptly and took a huge breath, finally becoming aware of her surroundings. She looked at Xander and thought for a minute, reviewing her litany of complaints. “Okay, I think I’m done.” The room exploded in laughter as Willow blushed.
Xander grinned at his best friend. There wasn’t anyone on the planet like her. “Thank you, God. You almost turned blue.” He stood and hugged her. “That was the best yet, Will.”
Having risen from the sofa without accidently emasculating Giles, Faith walked over and patted her on the shoulder on her way to the kitchen for a glass of water for Robin, who was gasping for breath. “Wicked cool, Red. There’s not much that lives up to advance press, but that totally rocked.”
Dawn grinned from her place on the floor. “Yeah, better than last year, from what I heard.”
Still blushing, Willow wrapped an arm around Xander’s waist. “Riley and Graham were a little disappointed, but we were in South America and it’s not nearly as commercial a holiday down there, so I wasn’t as annoyed. Mostly I was pissed about the demon revolt ruining my vacation, and there’s only so long you can go on about that.”
Buffy looked at her friend incredulously. She’d thought there was only so long you could go on about holiday shopping, but she’d been proven wrong. Again. Seeing the look, Willow stuck her tongue out at Buffy. Robin began hiccuping on the couch. Faith returned from the kitchen with the water, which he gratefully accepted and sipped slowly as he consciously attempted to relax his diaphragm.
Xander stepped into the breach again. “So, Will...since we were all so patient while you vented your spleen, you’re going to make potato pancakes for us, right?”
Knowing his game, Willow nodded and headed for the kitchen, rolling up her sleeves as she went. Dawn followed them, more curious about the food than whatever everyone else was watching on television. Willow saw Xander’s kitchen preparations and grinned. She stretched up to kiss him on the cheek. He was woefully transparent, but he was the love of her life and she adored him shamelessly.
“Why do you use a hand grater? Wouldn’t a food processor work better?”
Willow grinned at Dawn, handed her the vegetable peeler and positioned her so that she was standing in front of the pile of potatoes. “Ah, but you see, my young assistant...as my grandmother used to say, they aren’t real potato pancakes unless you get a little knuckle in them.” She rummaged for a bowl and began grating the onions into it.
Dawn wrinkled her nose as she peeled the potatoes. “Oh, ugh. Blood pancakes.”
Willow remembered the first year Xander and Jesse had celebrated with her family–Xander’d been grossed out by the idea too, if she remembered correctly. Then he’d tasted the potato pancakes and all was forgotten.
He responded before Willow could. “It’s okay, Dawnie. Adds flavor.”
Dawn looked at him skeptically, wondering exactly when it was he’d lost his mind. “If you say so.”
Suddenly, the sounds of the Charlie Brown Christmas CD filled the air. Watching Willow’s eyes water from the onion fumes, hearing Dawn swearing under her breath after accidentally peeling off one of her fingernails, and knowing Giles, Faith, Robin and Buffy were safe in the living room with no sign of impending apocalypse, Xander was fully at peace for the first time in a long time. When his song came on, he danced with abandon.