Wednesday, December 10, 2003



Spike was loitering in the hallway, a common occupation for him. “If he’d just give me a bleedin’ office, like I’ve asked,” he grumped to himself. “Not so hard, is it? Got a nice one up near Gunn’s, too, all vacant now, isn’t it? Still smells like blood, even.”

He wasn’t going to, though, not unless Angel found him a job to go with the fancy office. Chief Executive of Annoying Angel, maybe? Supervisor of Sarcasm? The area around Harmony’s desk emptied while he toyed with different titles, so he headed over. “Harm,” he greeted, eyeing her mug of blood. She could be stingy with the damned things, sometimes.

“Blondie Bear!” Harmony’s squeal was as ear-piercing as always. “I’m off in a few minutes, want to buy me lunch?”

“Uh, isn’t it pretty much daylight outside?” Couldn’t a bloke just get a mug of blood now and again? Without having to dig into the reserve Angel’d given him? Then again, Harm probably had a corporate card of some kind.

“Silly. What kind of evil law-firm doesn’t have sunless ways of getting to the really interesting places?”

Point. He’d just thought most of them were Angel-reserved. Plus, Spike still had no idea what was happening about the reindeer-cum-people, and Harm seemed to be right in the thick of things. “This wouldn’t be lunch of the solid-kind, would it?”

Delicate eyebrows rose and then, slowly, understanding dawned. “Oh, you mean human food. Well, sure, we’re going to Camile’s. It’s owned by a vampire, so they’ve got everything. Her blood-pudding is to die for. If we weren’t already dead, of course. Now, you go stand right there,” she pointed to the specific spot, “and I’ll just grab my card.”

“Right, then. Just no talking about sodding clothes or shopping,” he demanded, moving to where she had pointed. She did have a corporate credit card, the lucky bint. Angel set her up real nice, and what did Spike get? Bit of cash. Stingy bastard. Spike contemplated stealing the card, but gave up on that quickly. More fun to steal cash from Angel—more profitable, too, since cash couldn’t get cancelled. “I mean it, now, no talking about some new frock or—Harm!”

She smiled radiantly, pointing above his head. “Mistletoe, silly. Now hold still.”

“No, I am bloody well not holding—Harm!” Dancing back a few steps, Spike kept himself poised and ready to run. Bit of a shag was one thing, but kissing?

“You’re making everyone look,” she told him.

“I don’t give a damn about—what the hell are you doing?”

“Mist-le-toe,” she said slowly. “It’s when you stand under a bit of that green stuff—what’s it called?”


“Thanks! I knew you’d know that, you always know such weird stuff. Anyway, you stand under this little spriggy-thing of Holly and you get to kiss whoever is standing under it with you. So, since you’re standing under the mistletoe, and so am I, we get to kiss.” Satisfied she’d explained everything, and ignoring the fact that Spike was no longer under the mistletoe so much as cowering from it, Harmony leaned forward to claim her reward.

Spike shied away, backing up until he thumped into a wall. “Harm, that’s a game for tweenies trying to find their first sweetheart.”

“Tweenies? What a cool word! And no, it’s not. I once saw a movie where, like, these really old married people did it. And why are you way over there, anyway? That’s not where the mistletoe is!”

By now there was a crowd. Not a large one, but gossip flew on winged sandals in this bloody office, and Spike knew he better stop this and stop it now. “Harm, I’m not int—”

Spike remembered how quickly Harmony had melted into a puddle of goo after his come-hither look. She’d obviously been taking notes, or maybe the soul was making him more vulnerable to unhappy females. ‘Sorry sod’ was a term that sprang easily to mind. Or ‘sucker’.

“Fine.” Stepping back under the mistletoe, he gave her a short peck on the check.

She pouted, adding in two liquid eyes, and why the hell wasn’t he running off now? “Oh, for bloody—Harm, I gave you your kiss.”

“That wasn’t a real kiss, Spike.” No stupid cutsifying of his name or the insipid nicknames she frequently used. None of her ear-stabbing whining, either, just a small comment, free of any kind of affectation.

So he kissed her for real.

When they finally broke apart, there was cheering and wolf-whistles coming from the enlarging crowd. Simpering under the attention and waving little hellos, Harmony linked her arm through his and started prattling on about Camile’s and the lovely treats it had to offer a bloke who liked his blood with a little substance.

And Spike. . . let her.

Thursday, December 11, 2003