Title: A Scooby Gang Christmas
Pairings: Giles-y genfic
Summary: It’s December, 2000, and there’s not a lot of cheer on Oakpark Street.
Warnings: Schmoop alert!
Spoilers: Middle of Season 4, as far as “Doomed”
Notes: Written for clavally, emmessann, fannishnej, glimmergirl, hobgoblinn, xdawnfirex, kivrin, lostgirlslair, meegat, mireille719, mrsdrake, penwiper26, psychoadept, secondalto, tx_cronopio, wide_rider, and my kitten. Thanks to nemaihne for picking the season 4 setting and for huge amounts of moral support.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership and am making no money.
16 parts total. 13 parts reported.
Was this going to be the worst Christmas of his life? Or merely a strong contender for the title? Rupert Giles slumped on his couch, head back, hands folded on his chest, and ticked down the upsides: No current apocalypse. Upside. Then he mentally drew a line down the page and started a second column. Olivia had just dumped him, his Slayer was ignoring him, he had no job and no prospects. He'd just been beaten up by a pack of Vahrall demons he'd really ought to have seen coming, and his face was a mess. No eager takers under the mistletoe this year.
The page was looking a bit lopsided. Giles mentally balled it up and tossed it. But he'd reached a decision.
He wouldn't bother with a tree, and he'd leave the boxes of decorations where they were, in the hall closet under a triple mace Buffy had left out all night in the rain to rust. He then contemplated getting up to make tea, but decided not to bother. He could feel miserable quite well right where he was.
His front door slammed open, admitting a gust of damp air and his on-again off-again Slayer.
"Is this the worst Christmas ever or what? My dad just called to tell me that Tahoe is off. He's taking his new girlfriend to Vail and the lodge they got has only one bedroom. So no skiing for me! And then I go home to tell mom that she'll get to have me this year and *she* says oh by the way I'm going to your Aunt Doreen's so don't make a mess in the house."
Buffy flung herself down next to him. "Hullo," he said.
Buffy continued gloomily. "Then I thought that maybe I could hang out with Riley because we had just sort of started with the smooching and all that, but he left a phone message this morning telling me he's gone back to one of those flat states that starts with an I where they grow tornados." Giles failed to mention that California seemed to have them too. In his living room, even. "I'm not sure he's going to be into the smooching when he gets back anyway. At least you have Olivia, and ohmigod that sweater she was wearing the other day? gorgeous. I so want to know where she got it. Though she's a model right? Probably got it from the designer. Who knew?"
"Who knew what?" said Giles, helplessly.
"That you were suave enough to snag a gorgeous model like that."
"It seems I wasn't, because she -"
But Buffy was already in full swing again. "It's official. I'm the loneliest person in Sunnydale. What good is Christmas anyway? It's just a horrible holiday where you buy presents for people who leave town and ignore you."
"I'm not ignoring you," said Giles, but it was too late. Buffy was at the door pulling on her coat.
"I'm going shopping with Willow. See you around!" A second gust of damp air, a second bang, and she was gone.
Giles thought that on the whole, when he analyzed it, Buffy's visit had made him feel about 50% worse!
Giles still hadn't summoned the energy to get up and make tea when Xander popped by.
He didn't knock either, but at least he didn't strain the door hinges. He sat himself next to Giles, slumped in a similar attitude. "Hey."
"Happy Christmas, Xander."
"Ha! Did you know that Anya has a family?" he said.
"Turns out she does. I'm not sure if they're actually related to her, precisely, but I do know they think she's their daughter. Her father owns like three chemical plants or something. Anya has just figured out that if she asks him for money, he gives it to her. And that she is likely to meet the sons of other chemical plant owners if she goes with him to ski in Vail instead of hanging out with the son of a guy who drills holes in custom bowling balls. Which is what my father does, and if you tell anyone I will kill you."
"Your secret dies with me."
Xander sighed. "What good is Christmas anyway? People just decide they can get more loot from somebody else, leaving you holding a Snoopy Stuffie with nobody to give it to."
Giles agreed that it was dismal.
"Well, I'm off to my basement. Where I'll enjoy the traditional Harris family Christmas. Have a merry one, Giles, 'cause I won't." And Xander was gone.
A traditional family Christmas sounded rather nice to Giles just then. He hadn't had one since he'd turned ten and got the news about his destiny. He mulled over that happy event, and was still allowing it to deepen his bad mood when wonder of wonders, somebody knocked at his door. Then opened it immediately, but Giles cherished the knock. It was the thought that counted.
Willow collapsed onto the couch next to him, her hair and coat wet with rain.
“Giles, have you ever gone shopping with Buffy?”
“Just that once, with the rocket launcher.”
“She is terrifying. Especially in a Christmas crowd. Nobody cuts through quite like the Slayer.”
Giles cocked an eyebrow at her “Hard to keep up with?”
“Did you at least get your shopping done?”
“Oh yeah, totally finished for the year.”
“What’s wrong, then?”
“It’s Xander. He’s stuck with his family again. He sleeps out on the lawn in a sleeping bag where he doesn’t have to listen to his parents fight. They drink, you know. He does the Snoopy dance for me every year. But I can’t have him over this year because my parents are home for once. They would flip if they knew Ira Rosenberg’;s daughter was even noticing Christmas.”
Willow made a wistful noise. Giles wasn't sure what the Snoopy dance was, but she seemed fond of it.
"I'm okay this year, though! Tara is showing me some nifty Solstice traditions. The only sad thing is we don't have a place to burn our Yule log. My parents have a fireplace but my mom says it's unecological to release wood smoke into the atmosphere. She did take us to pick up the log in her new SUV, which she says is very safe. Giles, what good is the Solstice if you're not allowed to do anything fun to celebrate it?"
"It keeps the seasons from colliding?"
"I wish I could see our Yule log burn." Willow sighed. She fished the in the bag at her feet and extracted a little wrapped parcel. She handed it to Giles and kissed him on the cheek.
"Happy holidays, Giles. I'm off to spend the evening with Tara in front of the ecological log."
Giles, alone in his flat again, sat contemplating his grate and cold hearth, his unhung mantle and undecorated lintels. He tried sulking a little more, but he wasn't getting any traction on the sulk. He tried grousing, just to himself, about how Christmas in Sunnydale wasn't right without snow on the ground. Deep snow. The kind you got in Scotland. The kind he'd never has as a child in London anyway.
He might be miserable, but the rest of them didn't have to be.
With that thought, Giles got up and headed toward his storage room.
At noon on the day before Christmas, Giles picked up his phone. "Xander? It's Giles. I was wondering if you could help me with something. I need an extra pair of hands. Thanks! I'll come pick you up."
He drove a puzzled but relieved Xander north out of town, to the tree ranch he'd been to earlier in the day. They had a tree set aside fro him, a seven-foot Fraser fir with a lovely shape. Xander made an impressed noise, then helped Giles manhandle it to the Citroen. Giles stood puzzled, gazing at the car, and the hank of rope in his hand until Xander snatched the rope away. He made a neat job of strapping the tree onto the car roof. The fir dwarfed the Citroen, but Giles' view through the windscreen was unimpeded. And the car had plenty of torque for the trip back, he assured Xander, despite the difficulty negotiating the streep hill leading away from the ranch.
Xander helped him carry the rain-wet tree into his flat, and maneuver it into the stand he had ready in the corner. The two men stood admiring their handiwork, brushing pine needles from their clothes. The tree smelled wonderful, almost better than the ginger snaps Giles had baked that afternoon.
"Xander, I was, uh, wondering if, you weren't otherwise occupied, you might, uh, find it pleasant to, uh, join me. In trimming the tree. And drinking the Giles family eggnog recipe. I made rather more than one person can properly drink. If you promise not to drive anywhere, that is, and you have nothing better to do. I think I'd like to get a fire going and forget about the rain outside."
"Giles! Yes. Gimme a glass and a pile of tinsel, and lemme at it. Thanks, man. You're a lifesaver. Oh. And, uh."
Xander pulled a Snoopy with a ribbon around its neck from his jacket pocket. "For my favorite ex-tweedy book buy. It's a different Snoopy than - I got everybody Snoopies. Uh."
"Thank you, Xander. I have something for you, too, but I'll put it under the tree. One more errand, though, before we dip into the eggnog." Giles exchanged the Snoopy for his desk phone. "Willow? It's Giles. Xander and I were wondering if you and Tara would like to see your Yule log burn. My fireplace is available. You would? Marvelous! We'll be over in a tick."
"Let's go get 'em, book guy."
Giles and Xander were greeted with hugs from Willow and a shy head-duck from Tara. Willow led him to the Rosenbergs' white-painted fireplace, where an oversized log sat forlorn. Giles and Xander carried it out to the car.
The girls liberated overnight bags & armsfuls of presents from where they'd been hidden in Willow's room. They were relieved to be escaping the Rosenberg home, which was hosting a rehearsal of Willow's mom's lecture on patriarchal systems and their expression in holiday tradition. The log went into the trunk; two men, two women, and their parcels went into the front. Giles drove the overloaded car carefully across town, on wet streets, toward his flat.
"What about Buffy?" Willow said as they drove.
"I've been trying to ring her all day," Giles said. "No answer. And she hasn't rung back."
Xander took one end of the log, Giles the other, and they got it down the stairs and into the house without mishap. Giles had laid kindling for it already.
Giles had two boxes of decorations, things to hang on the tree, stockings and whatnot.
He opened them, and the three young people dug in. They began quibbling cheerfully about the right order to do the tree: lights first or lights last? Were angels or stars better for the very top? Giles drank eggnog on the couch and watched his tree brighten.
"It's about time to light the log. I wish we'd found Buffy," said Giles, sadly. He stood and searched out his matches on the mantle.
Willow found his phone in the litter on his desk. "Let's give her another shot. Darn, got the machine again."
The door slammed open and rebounded off the stop Giles had had installed for just this reason: a fast-moving Slayer, inbound, with a big package under her arm. "Giles! You're here! Great! Woah, everybody's here. What's going on?"
"Party," said Xander. "We were just trying to find you."
"One sec, I got more in the car." Buffy vanished, then reappeared with more packages. She dropped them all under the tree, then flung herself at her Watcher. Giles held his armful of Slayer close and beamed. "Merry Christmas, Giles!"
"Happy Christmas, Buffy. I'll give you some eggnog if you promise not to drive anywhere. I have a sleeping bag for you."
"You're giving me alcohol?"
"Seasonal bad judgement." Giles kissed her hair and released her.
Xander handed her a glass. "Slowly, Buff, This stuff has an atomic weight of about 210."
Buffy tasted it, and her eyes went wide, "Oh my gawd, Giles, this is amazing."
"Real cream and eggs. And, er, rather a lot of brandy." Giles found his own glass where he'd left it on the mantel. "Cheers!"
"Mazel tov," said Xander.
Willow shot him a look. They all drank.
The door knocker sounded. Giles was puzzled. Nearly everyone he knew in California was here already. He opened the door to the wet night. A slim figure stood on his step, a man in leathers, dripping with rain.
"Wesley? Good lord! What are you doing riding in this?" Giles stood aside to let him in.
Buffy pounced on Wesley with a full glass of eggnog before he could even get his jacket unzipped. "Hey, Wes! Good to see you! Come get poisoned by the Giles-nog with the rest of us."
Wesley turned bright red. He handed Giles a green glass bottle, beaded with raindrops and heavy with amber liquid. He said, "Sorry! I had no idea. Was passing through and thought I'd drop off a bit of cheer. What's going on here?"
"It's a Scooby Christmas," said Giles. "Make yourself at home."