characters: Xander, Faith, Dana, Tara, Buffybot, Kara
Warnings: decoration death (!)
Disclaimer: All characters, except the OC slayer Kara, belong to Joss and co.
Summary: The gang discovers still another danger of dealing with a slightly deranged slayer. 890 words. (Note: This takes place in my "Four Friends" universe, in which two questionable magical spells, one intended to repair Dana's shattered mind, led to the resurrection of the Buffybot and the secret return of Tara to a more or less living body.)
Female shrieks and the sound of a struggle brought Xander and Faith running for the Watcher’s Headquarters day room. Xander froze in the doorway, shocked into silence by the sight before him.
Red was splattered across the entire lounge. It spread in an explosion-like pattern across the carpeting, clung to the walls, settled over the now fallen Christmas tree. Here and there were also bits of white, and on closer inspection Xander realized, to his horror, that the white appeared to be hair.
In the middle of the mess, still plugged into the wall, a small fan lay on its side, covered in dents and making sickly buzzing noises as its blades contacted the plastic housing.
“Whoa,” Xander finally managed to say.
In the middle of the room Dana struggled, unable to break the grips of the Buffybot on one side and the slayer Kara on the other. “He’s evil!” Dana screamed. “Evil!”
Looking around, Xander caught sight of sandal-clad feet and a green skirt with white snowflakes, sticking out from under the Christmas tree like a winter themed version of the Wicked Witch. How appropriate that comparison was became apparent when Faith brushed by him, rushing forward to move the tree and help Tara to her feet. The young witch's hair was a tangled mess, and she was covered in ribbons of red, but otherwise she appeared unharmed.
“What’s going on?” Xander demanded, as a bemused looking Faith brushed pieces of balloon-like material from Tara’s clothes. After a moment Faith stopped, giving Tara’s torso a puzzled look; that’s when Xander realized the front of the witch’s green sweater had been torn off, revealing a white camisole. He gulped and turned away.
“Evil!” Dana screamed. She arched her back, forcing Bottie and Kara to brace themselves.
“It’s not real, Dana,” Bottie assured her in a calming voice. Kara, her eyes wide, couldn’t seem to get any words out.
“This –“ Something fell from the ceiling, landing on Xander’s head. He grabbed at it with a barely stifled scream, and came up with what appeared to be a ball of cotton at the end of a small cone of red cloth. “Um …”
Someone was giggling. Looking around, Xander realized it was Faith, who smirked as she picked a small white cylinder from Tara’s hair. “Hey, Dana gave Tara the finger.”
Tara sent Faith dazed look. “I just walked in the door and she grabbed me by the sweater …”
“Why didn’t you just go all ghost on her?” Faith asked.
“It happened so fast ... guess I’ve been working too hard on interacting with the real world.”
“Sorry,” Dana murmured, sounding contrite but still on the edge of hysteria. “He was trying to feel you up.”
Everyone fell silent. Faith, eyebrows arched, looked at Tara, who defensively crossed her arms over her chest.
“Who?” Kara finally ventured.
“Him!” Dana pointed at the fan, just as it sparked and ground to a stop. “Santa Clause is a pervert!”
“He is?” Bottie asked, confusion plain in her voice.
“He’s a stalker!”
“A stalker?” Kara repeated.
Dana nodded vigorously. “He sees you when you’re sleeping … he knows when you’re awake … he knows when you’ve been bad or good – he’s everywhere! And he wants us to take presents from him!”
Another silence. Generally, Xander reflected, there were a lot of silences during conversations with Dana.
Faith grinned at Tara, whose mouth was gaping open. “You had him on your chest. Santa copped a feel!”
“Well …” Tara’s hands fluttered, until she caught Xander’s gaze and crossed her arms again. “It wasn’t the real Santa …”
“It wasn’t?” Dana asked, sounding flummoxed.
“No,” Xander told her, “and neither was the one by the door.”
“But he said ‘ho ho ho’ when I walked by. That’s not a nice word. It means ‘prostitute’. A prostitute is someone who –“
“We know!” Xander held a hand up. “We know. But he didn’t mean it that way. And he wasn’t a he, he was an it, and it wasn’t alive.”
“He was moving!”
“Yeah, that would be the air being blown up his skirt." Xander motioned to take in the bits of red and white rubber scattered around the room. “So, whose bright idea was it to decorate first, then surprise Dana?”
Very slowly, Bottie and Kara raised their hands.
“The inflatable Santa was on sale,” Kara explained.
Someone made a choking sound. Xander was able to track that to Faith, who had a hand cupped over her mouth.
Well, thought Xander, crisis over -- unless Andrew walked in the door with a pillow strapped to his belly. He flashed a concerned look toward the door. “Say, why don’t you guys take Dana to some non-decorated place and explain to her again the whole fantasy-reality thing?”
Nodding, Kara and Bottie took Dana by the hands and began leading her away. Their friend gave the broken fan a hard stare as they passed. “I’m not sure I killed him enough.”
Tara followed, arms still crossed. “Um, I’m going to change.”
Faith stopped laughing long enough to choke out, “Don’t put on the elf sweater!”
And Xander heard Kara explain, as they moved out of sight, “See, Santa’s not real – sorry for the fright.”
“There was a Saint Nicholas,” Bottie said, nice as she could.
Dana nodded thoughtfully. “Oh yes -- he was good.”