Title: Numbers Crunch
Prompt: The Golden Goose
Setting: Post Series, not comics compliant
Summary: All Buffy wants is a nice, perfectly normal, sort of Christmas. What do you suppose her chances are?
A/N: Suspend disbelief and imagine that Spike didn’t burn in the Hellmouth, the new Slayers weren’t all activated at once, and everyone lives happily together in a big old castle in Scotland. Yeah… it might get a little Schmoopy further on.
“What?” Click. Tap. Click. “Oh come on! Why is this taking so long?”
At Buffy’s frustrated outburst, Spike rolled over and opened his eyes. He’d told her to wake him up after her meeting with Sal, but she’d obviously not bothered. She was sitting cross-legged on the bed beside him, laptop open in front of her, and she was yawning. Profusely.
“Unless you’re downloading something incredibly interesting, I suggest you turn that bloody thing off and get some sleep.”
“There is no downloading of anything,” she huffed between clicks, taps and yawns. “There’s just budgeting, budgeting, and look, more exciting budgeting.”
Spike stared blearily at the laptop. “Exactly how long have you been at this?”
“Two.... maybe three hours. Definitely not much more than four.”
“You’ll wear yourself out at this rate, Buffy, and if it’s a wearing out you’re in need of, I’d be more than happy to oblige.”
The reward for his concern was a none-to-gentle swat to the shoulder. “No distractions! I have to finish this. And don’t bother trying to pull the plug out either cause the battery’s fully charged. ”
Spike pulled the plug out anyway (purely on principle) and sat up beside her. “I take it Sal didn’t approve of the budget then.”
Finally tearing her eyes away from the screen, Buffy sighed unhappily. “Sal did not. She told me that my expected expenses were unjustified because most of the girls were heading home for the holidays, and then she used my printouts to test drive her shiny new ‘rejected’ stamp.”
“You should’ve got in her face. Held your ground and pulled a bit of rank. She works for us remember?”
“I know, I know, but it’s strangely difficult to get angry with the person who’s keeping us all fiscally secure. Plus, she was wearing tiny plastic Santa earrings… and tinsel!”
“Yep. All artistically draped around her horns. It was very festive, and I got the impression that she wasn’t just Scrooging my plans for fun of it.”
“So what? We’re cancelling Christmas?”
“No. No cancelling! Sal said I just have to try and make it a bit less… costly. I’ve been trying, but it’s hard to make it cheaper without making it--”
“Exactly,” Buffy nodded. “I’ve cut as many corners as I can and I’m still nowhere near where I need to be.”
Spike knew he’d regret the offer the moment he made it, but he couldn’t stop the words rushing out of his mouth. “Want me to take a look at it? Fresh set of eyes couldn’t hurt.”
“Oh God yes.” Seconds later he had the laptop balanced on his knees, and a sleepy Slayer snuggled up beside him. “We only need to cut another hundred pounds, and we should be good.”
Spike scrawled through the spread sheet quickly. “Well you can cross out the ham for a start. We’ve got that pig in the barn. The one that big beefy farmer bloke up the road gave us for taking care of his demon problem.”
“We had a pig,” Buffy mumbled sleepily, “but Babe Two is officially off the dinner menu now. Andrew’s…attached. He said something about making up for past almost-transgressions.”
“Be that as it may, unless you want to be eating ham sandwiches for weeks, you’ll probably only need half of what you’ve allowed for.”
“Good,” yawn, “point.”
“And Christmas cake? Not even Clem eats Christmas cake!”
Buffy shot upright. “Clem’s coming? You said he wasn’t and I didn’t—“
“Buffy, Relax. He’s not coming. He’s spending the big day with his new girl. And we don’t need to buy a present for Clem. We can send him a card instead.”
“Oh. Good.” Another loud yawn and Buffy collapsed back on the bed. “That’ll be nice for Clem. The girl I mean, not the card.”
“Yeah. She’s brilliant, I’m sure you’ll love her to bits, and why the hell are we paying for a Christmas tree when we’re surrounded by acres of woodland?”
There was no response from Buffy save a gentle snore.
A few minor adjustments to the spread sheet later, Spike switched off the laptop and set it down beside the bed. He pulled the covers up, and nestled the sleeping Slayer in his arms.
“All done?” she mumbled groggily into his chest.
“All done, and you’re going to have the brilliant Christmas you deserve.” He felt rather than saw her lips curl in response, and kissed the top of her head gently. “Knew I could get a smile, Princess.”