“Come on Spike,” Dawn nagged the vampire who was completely covered in a black robe similar to a Burqa complete with UV filtering face mesh. While he could move about in direct sunlight he could not risk accidental contact with his skin, he had no desire to burst into flames.
“I do not look like bloody Darth Vader,” Spike snapped and Dawn rolled her eyes.
“So who’s picking us up?” Buffy asked as she appeared at his side dragging her luggage; Oz close behind with Dawn’s his own duffel tossed over his shoulder.
“Thanks Oz,” Dawn said and the werewolf shrugged.
“Wolf, Pomme de sang,” Spike said simply glancing around and spotting a short blond with a sign. ‘Master of L.A.’ “There.”
The group started moving towards Jason, who noticed them when they were a few yards away. More so he noticed Buffy, who was in a low cut white t-shirt and a pale pink mini skirt. Knee high boots completed the outfit.
“Hi, I’m Jason I’ll be your driver for the evening, May I take my ladies bag?” He said moving up to Buffy as Dawn rolled her eyes.
“Aww isn’t he cute?” Buffy exclaimed patting his cheek much to Jason’s despair.
“Have you already gone to pick up your Master’s coffin?” Jason asked trying not to stare at the person in the Burqa.
“I don’t bloody well travel in a coffin like some bleeding ponce,” Spike snapped.
“You’re the master of LA? How are you awake?” Jason asked in surprise. It was early afternoon; he knew Jean Claude was still asleep. But he had heard some things about this master and he knew everyone was worried about him and what he wanted.
“Does your master still look like a long haired poofter?” Spike asked with a grin though Jason could not see it.
“Jean Claude just likes ruffles a bit,” was Jason’s simple response. “The limo is this way.”
“Woo hoo!” Dawn exclaimed.
The drive to the circus was quiet short of Dawn trying every button in the back of the limo and raiding the mini fridge though both Buffy and Spike took the alcohol away from her. Spike to drink; Buffy to put away.
They arrived at the circus and the four of them piled out of the limo and looked over at the sign. It was Dawn that started the chain reaction snorting then exploding into full blown laughter.
“So who thought vampire clowns were a good idea?” Oz asked with a slight smile ignoring the laughing trio.
“Never asked,” Jason admitted opening the trunk and lifting out their luggage, surprised when a hand took one of the heavier bags. “Thanks but as Ulfric you really don’t have to…”
“I’m over here,” Oz pointed out. Jason whirled into the smirking face of Buffy who was swinging the bag like a purse.
“So, this place have showers?” Buffy asked looking around.
“Of course,” Jason said surprised. “I’ll take you all to your rooms.”
Jason lead the way into the circus and down the spiral staircase, and through the maze of corridors that were mostly empty though every once in a while the occasional were popped up.
The first room he stopped at he opened the door and nodded to the Burqa clad Spike and Buffy. “This room is for you two,” Jason pointed out.
“Cool,” Buffy said placing her bag inside the door. Spike stepped inside and shed the burqa. Jason stared at the master vampire. Bleached blond hair gelled back. Black t-shirt, worn in black jeans, and even more worn in Doc Martin boots. Spike slid off the gloves and added them to the pile and Jason saw the black nail polish.
“You don’t look like any master I’ve ever seen,” Jason said, still blatantly starring.
“You mean a Nancy Boy? No,” Spike said pulling out a cigarette, as he shrugged on his duster, only to have it taken away by Dawn.
“Some of us have lungs we actually need.”
“No, besides with all that gel you are totally flammable,” Dawn said with a grin.
“No respect,” Spike muttered. “Now let’s see your room.”
“Oh yeah, is it away from those two? They can get loud!” Dawn exclaimed causing Buffy to blush and Spike to grin. Jason then did a double take.
“Where are your fangs?” He asked suddenly hoping he hadn’t been had by this group.
“He wants to see my fangs,” Spike smiled.
“No Spike,” Buffy warned.
“Be more fun to show them off later,” Dawn pointed out.
“I like the way you think,” Spike said as they began moving again stopping at the next room.
“This is for Dawn,” Jason said as she peered into the room.
“Smaller than mine at home but it works,” she said as Oz placed her bag inside.
“This one is yours,” Jason said to Oz leading to a room across the hall.” Oz nodded placing his bag inside. “Man of little words I see.”
The Los Angles Ulfric shrugged with a small half smile.
“That’s our Oz,” Buffy said with a smile slinging an arm around the man.
Dawn slid up to Spike looking at the shorter trio in front of them, “Ever feel like we’re the only ones who had our milk growing up?”
“Everyday Bit Everyday,” he replied wrapping his arm around her.
“How long have they been here?” Anita asked as Nathanial helped to strap her into her outfit. She hated these things but Jean Claude wanted to show a united front against the LA master.
“Early afternoon, Jason picked them up at the airport,” he said from behind her and she could feel him pulling at a strap or something and she wondered how she would have gotten into this outfit otherwise.
The leather was tight but Anita still had room for two guns. And a knife tucked into her boot. She was avoiding looking at Richard, seated casually on the couch, Shang-Da standing behind him. She had noticed he looked as he had just come from school and was dressed as such and did not look inclined to change.
He was being stubborn again. Asher, Micah, and Jean Claude entered the room and Anita couldn’t help stopping to stare at Jean Claude. He was dressed in his usual monochrome fashion and Anita couldn’t say why he held her attention so. She instead glanced at Micah who was dressed most similarly to Richard.
“Let’s get this over with,” Anita said irritated breaking the silence in the room as Nathanial buckled the last strap.
“Ma petite, they can surly wait a few moments,” Jean Claude said as Jason slipped into the room.
“Hey boss, they are getting bored,” Jason said even as he leered at Anita with a cheeky grin ignoring her eye roll.
“The sun has barely set,” Jean Claude said.
Jason did not bother to comment on the fact that it had set over an hour ago and Jean Claude had risen before that. He knew his boss well enough to know his tactics and instead wandered over to sit at Richard’s legs. He felt a hand brush his hair and smiled relaxing slightly; grinning when he noticed Nathanial was in a similar position with Micah who was still standing.
“So what exactly do they want?” Micah asked.
“They claim to want to speak to the Ulfric and visit the arch, and to meet Ma Petite,” Jean Claude said.
Micah nodded his expression unreadable.
“Let us go meet them,” Asher said with a glance at Jean Claude who nodded. They fell into step one after another and into rank, Jean Claude, Anita and Richard taking the lead; Asher and Micah falling behind the triumvirate with Shang-Da, Jason, and Nathanial bringing up the rear.
Jean Claude opened the door to find ‘Spike’ sitting on a couch running his fingers through the hair of a brunette, with her head in his lap. A blond perched on the arm of the couch and the Ulfric on the floor comfortably leaning against the couch eyes shut.
“Took your bloody sweet time didn’t you,” Spike said not moving though his hand stopped running through Dawn’s hair.
“Oh ew, I don’t think I’m old enough to see that outfit,” Dawn said in horror catching sight of Anita.
“Why are you even bringing a human child into this? She has no place here,” Anita snapped. The kid couldn’t even be more than 16 and she was already in this deep with the monsters. There was no reason for it and it set her hackles rising.
“Better vampires than that outfit,” Dawn said flippantly sitting up and wrapping her arms around Spike who kissed the top of her head.
“Be nice Dawn, people have the right to look like skanks, we shouldn’t judge,” Buffy said not moving as Richard snorted. She caught sight of the person behind him and squealed. Moving too quickly to be fully human, Richard stepped aside before realizing her attention had been focused on Asher.
“Spike, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could get my hair this blond? It’s like perfect, look at it,” She said lifting a few strands for comparison with her own.
“Damn,” Dawn muttered.
“You won wolf,” Spike said with a sigh and Oz shrugged.
“Dawn, come see this,” Buffy said turning to her sister who sighed and slid off the couch walking over. “What do you think?”
Dawn paused as Asher took a step back. “Me? You’re afraid of a high school sophomore?”
“It is not me that should be afraid,” Asher said tossing his hair away from his disfigured half.
The St. Louis party held their breath waiting for the exclamation from the two women. “Asher! She’s just a child.” Dawn responded by sticking her tongue out at Anita before grabbing hold of a lock of the golden hair.
“I don’t know Buffy, he’s pretty pale, and its curly, it might be too much with your tan. You don’t want to look like Mandy in my class. White blond and super tan.”
Buffy’s nose wrinkled in horror. “Highlights?”
“Hmm maybe, we’d have to see what it looks like in the sun, maybe straighten it some, stop moving,” Dawn snapped at Asher. And Richard laughed at the look of stunned shock on the vampire’s face.
“William can you not control your people?” Jean Claude asked finally getting over his shock at the girls casual dismissal of his scars.
Spike gave no indication he heard anything picking at his nails. He glanced over at Oz instead. “Buffalo wings?” The wolf quirked a brown but nodded slightly and Spike grinned.
“William, you have come into my territory, you allow them,” he said gesturing to Buffy and Dawn, “to violate my people.”
“Violate? Woah! There was no violating! There will be no violating, I know Spike said you guys were sex freaks, and even with the dominatrix lady, and the way bad fashion sense, I was willing to give you a chance.”
“Calm down, I think he meant about touching grumpy’s hair,” Dawn said her attention called to Jason or more specifically the person beside Jason.
“Then he should say so, instead of playing games with his sexy accent, and grumpy never once did say don’t touch my hair. All he did was pull the, look at me I’m so scary I’m going to pick on a girl in high school.”
“He shouldn’t have-“ Buffy ignored Jean Claude turning to Asher.
“Did you want me to touch your hair?”
“Well you’re faster, and stronger than I am. And you can talk, why didn’t you say something?” Buffy asked innocently. “I mean hot wolf over here moved. You just stood there, so tell your boyfriend to stop whining now.”
“Jean Claude is the master of the city he is not my-“
“You’re straight? Straight? Really? With that hair? And those outfits? Not a little bit, queer? I’ve seen drag queens with less fluff.” Dawn said in shock. “And if you’re straight there is a serious boy girl ratio problem.”
“Dawnie, maybe the girls are working-“
“Oh he’s lying pet, Jean Claude and Asher, were shagging like bunnies long before this dump was a colony,” Spike said finally joining the conversation still at the couch.
“All the guys smell like her,” Oz pointed out. “Well not him,” he added pointing to Shang-Da.
“Woah TMI! TMI!”
Micah watched this and decided to join Oz, who looked half asleep despite his revelation on the floor. “Hello.”
“Hey,” Oz said popping open one eye.
“They always like this?”
“No sometimes they cause trouble,” he said simply. “Oz.”
“Not a wolf.”
“Hm. Cool eyes.”
“Thanks, Think this will be over soon?” Micah asked leaning back for once glad Jean Claude has such a lush carpet.
Oz pointed to Nathanial. Micah’s eyes widened and he moved to stand when Oz grabbed his arm. “Dawn.”
He looked at the teen and he could see that despite her complaints about Anita her attention constantly went to the Wereleopard. “Too late,” Micah said understanding head turning when he sensed eyes on him. Spike was watching him with a smirk as he pretended to search his pockets.
Not noticing the gun Anita pulled at first as he slipped a cigarette into his mouth. Buffy was faster then and slammed Anita’s hands up and back causing the gun to point to the back wall and place Anita slightly off balance.
“I don’t like smoking either but you don’t think that’s a bit of an over reaction?”
“You know, if I was that kind of vampire I could demand retribution, her life and all that,” Spike said blowing a smoke ring.
“What do you want?” Jean Claude asked knowing Anita had broken the peace agreement first. He now wished he had been more adamant about her not having her guns in this meeting.
Dawn was more proactive and snatched the vampire’s cigarette away, “I told you these things could kill you.”
“Already dead pet, been dead a long time. You can let her go,” Spike said indicating where Buffy continued to hold Anita.
“All right,” Buffy said instantly releasing her grip though she had the gun in her hand looking at it in disgust. “I hate these things.” She added handing the Browning back to Anita who smartly tucked it away.
“What are you?”
“Prom Queen,” Buffy said with a smirk.
“You’re not human.”
“And you are?” Buffy snapped right back.
“Buffy is she the chit or not?” Spike asked loosing interest in the banter as he tried to focus on Dawn and whatever she was saying to Nathanial and Jason.
“Huh? Oh. No. She was taller, had better hair, a tan and much better fashion sense; and no guns. And a tattoo right there,” she said poking Anita in the arm.
“But she might be the lady in the dream. The one that’s sleeping and about to wake up. Not sure I never saw her front.”
“You’ve had dreams of the Sweet Mother,” Jean Claude said with a gasp.
“What’s that your stage name? I have to say you were much more wiggy in my dream though.”
“It wasn’t me,” Anita said, “You’ve been dreaming of the sweet mother, the first vampire. She has been asleep for centuries, and she had been stirring.”
“I’m going to say this is not of the good.”
“No as you say it is, not of the good,” Asher agreed.
Christmas at Hogwarts was a strange affair. With the majority of students and professors home; the great hall was all but abandoned. With the twins, Harry, Ron, and a couple other students in Gryffindor most of the tables had been shoved aside.
Of the professors, only the heads of each house and the headmaster were still present and today, Willow had arrived at the Great Hall before any students. She approached the head table with a smile and approached her head of house first.
“Professor McGonagall, is it alright for students to give professors gifts?” Willow whispered bag clutched tight to her chest.
“It is not often done, but as long as it is not excessive or lavish, and you do not expect favors it is not frowned upon.”
“Okay, Happy Christmas,” She said handing a small box to her head of house. The usually stern McGonagall smiled as she opened the present. It was a small cat figurine, and it started to glow scarlet and gold. “It means a Gryffindor is nearby.” McGonagall nodded and moved it closer to Professor Sprout, and the colors turned to yellow and black.
She handed Professor Sprout a box of nearly the same size and she opened it to reveal a stylized plant of nearly the same size that glowed the same colors. When she reached Professor Flitwick she handed him the same box, and a small stack of parchments.
“The charm I developed to do it,” she explained as he looked at the parchments, neatly tied together with twine.
“Oh thank you dear.”
“Professor Dumbledore, I thought you would like this,” she said pulling out a bright red Santa’s hat. “It changes your robes to match,” she warned.
“It’s been quite some time since I was in red,” he said plopping the hat on his head, grinning when it changed the blue of his robes but not the sliver stars. Willow frowned trying to figure out what went wrong.
“I added the stars, my spell is simply stronger,” Dumbledore explained and Willow nodded neither noticing the silver stars were getting a reddish tint.
“I have no use for something that tells me information I already know.”
“That’s why I got you a chemistry set, you big grump, Happy Christmas,” she said throwing her arms around him quickly before letting go. “And I got you a snake anyway,” she added throwing the smaller box atop the chemistry set.
“And what did you get your defense professor? Who is happily missing the festivities?” Snape sneered.
“A self-help book. Maybe if he had more self esteem he would be a better teacher,” Willow said. “My mom always said that stuttering when not an actual speech impediment is a sign of low self image,” she added before walking to join the Gryffindor table now that the twins were entering not noticing Snape’s grin hidden behind his goblet or Dumbledore’s surprise.
“Well hello our honorary Weasley,” Fred or quite possible George started.
“We tried out your little charm, works on both Filtch and Mrs. Norris.”
“Yes how did you do that?” Willow pulled out another set of notes and handed it to the twins.
“Really it picks up squibs and real cats, so if Professor McGonagall was walking around as a cat it wouldn’t know. And would pick up any other squibs.”
“Still brilliant for an ickle firstie,” Fred or George finished as they made their way to the table as Harry and Ron joined them. Ron still in his Cannons scarf though it clashed horribly with both his sweater and hair.
“I have a question for you guys though, if that is Mrs. Norris. Where’s Mr. Norris?”
He grinned at Willow when he saw her; and waved the scarf around with a grin. Harry’s gift had been a wand holder, since she was tired of seeing it in his back pocket. It rested against his arm and by the lack of a wand in his back pocket she assumed he was using it.
Slipping into her seat she pulled some items to her plate, feeling as this was one of her better Christmases. Though she kept thinking about two boys with dark messy hair that were doing a very strange dance.
Despite the fact of knowing she had never met any such boys. Willow wondered if she could get Harry and Ron to do the Snoopy dance.