Advent Calendar Fic - by ladycat777 and estepheia
GENRE: a bit of angst, lots of schmoop - holiday fic
SPOILERS: Set after AtS 5x08 Destiny - No spoilers after that.
WARNINGS: conventional pairings, a bit of slashy subtext, and a few unconventional vibes
Many thanks to sangpassionne, who beta'd this. :-)
A list of previous posts can be found here.
December 24 - Part C
Okay, so she had absolutely no business being here at this time of night, but as long as the guards who manned the security desk in the ground floor lobby didn't know that, this should work, right? After all she was the boss's personal assistant. That probably meant extra security clearance. Harmony took a deep breath and banged against the locked glass door to get their attention. When the two men looked up from their card game, she waved and flashed them her best toothpaste commercial smile, the one she and Cordy had practiced in front of the mirror, back in the day when they were still in High School, back when Harmony still had a reflection.
"Hi Carlos, hi Pete," she greeted them, when the little loudspeaker hummed with static.
"Evening, Miss Kendall," Carlos' voice filtered through. "Working on Christmas Eve?"
Harmony affected an exasperated eyeroll. "Would you believe that the big bad boss decided to work tonight? And that he needs me to find his files for him?" Sure, it was a grossly unfair exaggeration, because bossy wasn't that workaholic-y, but hey, a little lie here or there never hurt anyone, right? Right?
The guards checked their CCTV screens, toggling switches, and scanning the perimeter of the building from various camera angles. Pfft. Anyone would think she was trying to smuggle in a whole SWAT team.
When they were satisfied she was on her own, Carlos released the locks of the door, while Pete checked his watch and entered her name and the time in the log. Harmony took the time for a bit of chit chat, although the suspense was killing her - figure of speech, of course - then ran her ID card through the scanner, officially checking in, stepped into the elevator, and pushed the button for the fourth floor.
Next stop? Christmas.
* * *
"Well, aren't you going to open it?" Eve asked, watching Spike turn the envelope in his hands.
"What? You tellin' me opening this is the height of tonight's entertainment? Didn't think you'd be that hard up," Spike retorted, but he couldn't quite conceal his own curiosity. "And besides, shouldn't Angel here ask me that?" A quick sideways glance revealed little. All Spike got for his trouble was Angel's usual marble physique and a minute shrug, which might mean anything between 'it's no big deal' and 'your call.' A fat lot of help that was. Well then. Poker face in place, Spike tore the envelope open and peered inside. Bingo! The poker face fled and made room for a grin.
At a tilt of the envelope a driver's license, a fake birth certificate and several other papers tumbled out and scattered on the dining table. Spike shuffled them around. Finally! All the documents he needed to lease a flat, maybe even open his own business, and semi-legally own a car. "About time too," he griped. "Hope they stand up to scrutiny." But the possessive way he was handling the papers belied his harsh tone.
"Congratulations, sugarlicious," Lorne exclaimed. "You're a real boy now. Or well, a step closer anyway."
Charles picked up the driver's license and smirked at the photo, then gave Spike a chummy slap on the back. "That makes you almost legal, man," he said cheerfully. "Meaning you can have your own car. What's it gonna be?"
"Had a deSoto for years. Starlight black. Maybe I should get another one," Spike pondered. "Least I know how to fix it when it acts up."
Wes smiled, even added to the discussion once or twice, but mostly his attention was on Eve. There had to be a reason for her visit - other than the one she'd tried to feed them.
Meanwhile, Fred was beginning to feel kind of sorry for their unwanted guest. Not in a big warm fuzzy way, cause you don't feel that way about someone you don't trust, but Fred did feel a slight pang of guilt, because Eve was so obviously the outsider here and so utterly unwelcome. Angel's animosity reminded Fred of her own High School days when a girl with brains and a talent for physics was about as popular as dog turd on a brand-new shoe.
It was obvious that Eve was waiting for an invitation to stay. Nobody could make a single Martini last that long. Maybe Eve didn't have anyone to celebrate with? Okay, so most likely she was the enemy, and kind of condescending too, but she was here to help them keep Wolfram & Hart running, which meant that maybe she should have been included in this secret Santa thing from the start.
Fred felt she should probably say something nice to Eve. But what? Everything she could come up with sounded so lame in her head, it made her wince. Plus it sounded kind of insincere.
It was Lorne who solved her dilemma, a perfect host as ever. "So, Eve, while the boys talk about wheels and horsepower, how about I fix you another Martini?"
* * *
Why wait? Waiting was for 'good' people - with lots of self-discipline, not for an undead working gal like her. And besides, she'd always been allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. No reason to break with tradition just because she was dead now.
Harmony crouched in front of the huge tree and worked her way through the two dozen or so parcels that had been placed underneath it. Why was Fred's stack so large? Harmony glared at it. Recognizing Spike's handwriting on one of the cards she snatched up the box, shook it, then sniffed. Chocolate? That was lame but okay. Nothing romantic. Good. She put the parcel down and continued her search.
There! Her presents. "Yay!" At the top of the pile was an elegant looking envelope. That had to be some gift voucher from Angel. The only questions were, how many zeros - and clothes, shoes, or perfume? She pondered for a moment. Clothes, definitely clothes. Angel was a man who saw the sense in having a large wardrobe, unlike a certain other vampire. She put the envelope down. Better to open it in front of the boss. And she should probably rehearse some kind of thank you speech. Keep the boss happy - that was her motto.
The next parcel she picked up looked really extravagant: shiny paper, a huge bow and little jingling bells hanging from it. This had to be from Lorneytunes. Harmony's mien darkened. Nothing from Spike? Not even a tiny weenie present? So typical. Men. All the same, playing with a poor girl's feelings and then? Poof, turning into frogs.
She was about to stomp off in a huff, when she spotted it. It was only a small box, almost inconspicuous next to the larger parcels, but it looked a lot like a jeweler's box.
"Yay!" she squealed and was reaching for it, when, behind her, she heard the sound of a gun being cocked.
"Sorry to interrupt, dear," a male voice said, "but I have to ask you to step away from that tree."