Genre - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Word Count - 1723
Prompt: Buffy with a Yule theme, with Christmas tree history tossed in, too.
amethyst_witch, I hope you enjoy your story. Thanks for a fun prompt and a nod to sparky955 for her beta.
Buffy studied her target carefully, moving first one way, then another as if to discover a momentary flaw, one not normally seen.
“Buffy…” Xander’s voice had a definite edge to it.
“Shh!” There was no room in her tone. “They sense fear.”
“I’m sensing frost bite,” he snapped back. “There are parts of me, important parts of me that I want to keep intact.”
“Xander, it’s 57 degrees out. Now be quiet and let me work.” She squinted. “Maybe that one.” She pointed and Xander sighed.
“Finally.” He gave the evergreen tree in his left hand an impatient tap on the ground and then looked down in dismay at the ring of needles that covered his foot. “Oh, man.”
“Definitely not that one.” She took the tree from him and returned it to the pile.
When she wasn’t looking, Xander gave in a tap as well. A few needles trickled down and he sighed. “This one, then?”
She rolled her eyes. “All right, we’ll take that one, but if my mother complains, I’m sending her to you.”
“Oooo, with cookies?” Xander’s stomach gurgled happily at the thought of Mrs. Summers’s Christmas cookies as he dragged the tree towards the cashier. He grunted and groaned at the task.
“No! No cookies for you. This is the first time Mom has let me pick out the tree by myself and I just want it to be perfect.”
The man running the lot looked at the pair and grinned. “Okay, for you, $50.”
Buffy shook her head, her blond hair flying. “Too much. $30 and you tie it on the car.”
“Why don’t we ask your boyfriend, sweetheart? We don’t want you to get worry lines on that pretty face of yours.” He patted her butt and suddenly he was on the ground with Buffy’s stylish yet functional boot on his neck.
“First, you are going to apologize for your boorish behavior. Second, you are going to agree to a more reasonable price and third, he is NOT my boyfriend.”
“It’s true. Her boyfriend is way bigger and meaner than me.”
The man’s mouth moved for a moment and he finally croaked out, “Sorry.” She helped him to his feet and brushed the sawdust off his coat.
“Thanks. I’ll give $35, no more.”
“Just take it, a token of the season.”
Buffy shook her heard. “No, that’s not fair.” She placed the money in the man’s hand and took the tree from Xander, lifting it as if it weighed nothing. “C’mon, our car is over here.”
The lot man looked at Xander and then to Buffy and back to Xander. “Is she for real?”
“You have no idea how real she is and if she catches word that you’ve been messing with other customers, she’ll be back in a New York minute.”
“Honest Sam, that’s me!”
“Yeah, and I bet the rest of the year, you sell used cars.”
“How did you know?”
Buffy carried the tree into the entry hall of the Summers’s home and leaned it against a wall. Xander closed the door and took off his jacket. “That was pretty cool, Buff.”
“Well, he has no right to just assume that because I’m a girl, I’m helpless. Xander, do I have worry lines?” Buffy studied her forehead in the hall mirror.
“Never.” He gave her a brotherly hug and looked around. “Where is everyone?”
They looked in the living room. The fire was crackling in the fire place and a window was open to moderate the heat. No one needed a fireplace in Southern California, but it was the thought, especially at this time of the year.
“If they aren’t here, I’d try the kitchen.”
She led the way to the kitchen and sure enough Giles and her mother were sitting at the table, drinking coffee and talking.
“Buff, are you sure it’s wise to leave your mother alone with Giles. I mean, they do sort of have a history.”
Buffy covered her ears. “No, no bad disgusting thoughts. No!” She walked in, “Hi, we’re back.”
Both adults jumped slight at her louder than usual voice. “Oh, Buffy, we didn’t hear you come in.”
“Yeah, I could tell. Whacha doing?”
“Nothing.” Giles’s hand moved to cover a piece of paper.
“Oo, is that your list for Santa?” Xander said, laughing. It caught in his throat as Giles glared at him.
“No, it most certainly is not.”
“Would you two like some hot chocolate? Did you get a nice tree? You didn’t let him bully you into spending too much, did you?”
“Ah, yes, yes and nope.” Buffy reached into her pocket. “Here’s your change.”
Joyce looked down at the bills. “I don’t understand… this is practically what you left with.”
“What can I say? I drive a hard bargain.” She smiled and sat down next to Giles. “Are you going to help us decorate it, Giles?”
“Well, I hadn’t…”
“Oh, stay. It will be nice to have another adult around to referee the tinsel wars.” Joyce checked the oven. “I’ve got a roast in. There’s plenty if you want to stay, too, Xander.”
“That would be great, Mrs. Summers.” To Buffy, he murmured, “Anything to avoid the canned soup and stale chips that I usually have for dinner.”
Buffy shook her head sadly. She hated that Xander had such a horrible home life. She put her arms around him and hugged hard. “Then stay!”
“Nope, Mom’s roast beef.”
“No, my ribs.”
“Oh, sorry!” She released him and then looked back towards to entry hall at the sound of a muffled knock. “Who could that be?”
She went to the door and opened it. On the other side was a figure encased in a fake fur trimmed parka, its hood obscuring the person’s face.
“Ah, can I help you?”
“Buffy, it’s me, Willow.” Heavy mittens worked to pull fabric away from her face.
“Willow, it’s at least 58 outside. Why are you dressed like that?” Buffy gestured her friend in.
“Buffy, I’m Jewish. I can’t be seen attended a Christmas thingy.”
“We’re just decorating a tree, Will.” Xander joined Buffy. “We’re not plotting mass genocide.”
“You don’t know my mother.” Willow pulled off the coat and wiped the sweat from her face. “She would disagree.”
“She did try to burn Willow at the stake for being a witch, Xander. She can over react at times.” She looked back to where her mother was talking quietly with Giles. “Mine, too. She keeps trying to go out on patrol with me.”
They walked into the living room and Buffy rubbed her hands together. “Let’s do this.”
By the time the adults joined them, the three had managed to get the tree into its base, relatively straight and were stringing lights.
“Hey, Giles, I’ve always been meaning to ask, why a pine tree at Christmas.” Xander fiddled with a bulb in a string of lights. It flickered and then came to life. “Pretty sure they didn’t have any of these in the desert.”
“Well, the common belief is that the evergreen nature of the pine tree represents the everlasting love of God.” He took off his glasses and his expression grew distant. “Do you know that the first trees were actually hung upside down from chandelier hooks?”
“Really?” Willow giggled. “Those crazy Brits.”
“Yes, well, the British did not invent the conception of a Christmas tree. There is still a raging debate of the first documented use of a tree. Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia both claim that they were first, although Tallinn has the earlier date of 1441 and Riga is 1510.”
“I don’t understand the confusion,” Buffy said. “Even though I’m a girl and blonde, even I know that 1441 is less than 1510… wait, that’s AD, right? ‘cause otherwise it’s the other way. Right?”
“The two countries operated a joint association of local merchants. Each country claimed they were the first.”
“Okay, that’s just confusing.” Willow adjusted the lights on a branch and smiled. “It’s just pretty.”
“Actually Martin Luther was credit with possibly being the first to bring a tree inside in the 16th century. Before then, the trees stayed outside, although they were often decorated with small items, like nuts, apples, dates and even paper flowers.” Giles replaced his glasses and looked at the tree as if seeing it for the first time.
“Who’d thunk there was all that history to a Christmas tree?” Willow said as Buffy handed first her a box of ornaments and then Xander. They each took a third of the tree and started hanging the brightly colored balls.
“Look at this.” Buffy held up a badly-creased piece of paper she’d found on the bottom of the box. On it was drawn a representation of the Nativity in a child’s hand. “I made this in the first grade.” She frowned. “I never realized how much my wise men looked like vampires.”
“You knew even back then.” Xander finished with his box and started on another. “Foreshadowing.”
“Yeah.” She carefully folded it and replaced it. She really should be out patrolling, not playing happy family.
Suddenly music started playing and the group looked over at Joyce Summers. There was a look of determined happiness on her face. “I love Christmas carols, don’t you?” She walked over to the group and gave her daughter a hug. “Well, don’t you?”
Buffy smiled in spite of herself and nodded. “I do… and Christmas garland and the lights and the cookies and the fudge…”
“Mmm, fudge,” Willow murmured as she hung her last ornament.
“Well, just a piece for each of you. It’s nearly dinner time.” Joyce took the top off the decorative tin and held it out.
“Thanks, Mrs. Summer.” Willow’s eyes rolled back at the first bite. “Yum. You guys have to try it.”
Heads together, they compared notes on the deliciousness of the fudge.
“Hey, Mom, do you have the…” Buffy trailed off. At the entrance to the living room hung mistletoe and it was there that her mother and Giles stood, sharing a kiss.
“Ewwww,” she moaned as Xander and Willow joined in.
“Careful,” Joyce warned them as she smiled at Giles. “I know where all your presents are hidden.”
Buffy laughed, feeling an explosion of happiness within. Christmas didn’t get any better than this.