A Special Gift
With a "Ho-ho-ho" Santa bought his sleigh down onto a roof in Sunnydale and checked his manifest. The load-out for this stop was much heavier than usual and consisted primarily of shoes and weapons, though some of the recipients had less exotic tastes. And there was one special item, though he somehow doubted that that the recipient would enjoy it. He really preferred to go with coal for the Naughty list, but sometimes the Powers That Be liked to make the punishment fit the crime.
Tiptoeing past the teenagers sleeping in every corner of the overcrowded house, he left an axe here, a sword there, clothes and stylish but affordable boots for several recipients. A floorboard creaked and he froze, knowing full well that Anyanka had spread her ridiculous stories here. All right, maybe there were occasional demons that posed as Santa, but the elves usually took them out before they hurt anyone, and the reindeer could easily handle the rest. Rudolph's uncanny ability to sniff them out was the stuff of legends, though as usual the humans had most of the story wrong.
No-one was stirring, not even a mouse, and he continued once his heart rate was back to normal. He found the girl he was looking for in the smallest bedroom, and sighed as he got out the last "present" and placed it carefully at the foot of her bed. Something stirred inside it, and he whispered "You know what to do" and teleported back to the roof and beat a hasty retreat.
Several hours later the house was starting to stir when Dawn stretched blearily, got up, and noticed a brightly-wrapped package at the foot of her bed. That wasn't how they usually did things, Buffy usually gave out presents at the tree, but maybe it was a present from one of the Potentials, or something a little more private than the usual gift. She pounced, and started to rip open the paper.
With an ear-splitting scream Dawn raced down the stairs into the kitchen in her pyjamas, startling Buffy, Willow, and the Potentials on breakfast duty. "It's after me!"
"What is?" Buffy reached for a cleaver, and Willow braced herself to cast a spell.
"That!" Dawn pointed toward the door.
Somehing entered the room. A black form that seemed to be half-shadow, half mist.
"Miss Kitty Fantastico!" said Willow.
"I thought she'd run off," said Buffy, "or maybe got eaten by demons."
"We never found her."
Dawn shrieked as it got closer and climbed onto the table, which creaked slightly under her weight.
"Has to be the First again," said Willow.
Buffy threw her cleaver, and the spectral cat dodged it with an angry hiss and leaped onto one of the chairs, hooked a claw into the tablecloth, and started to climb.
"It's ripping the cloth," said Buffy. "Mom's Christmas tablecloth."
"That's weird, if it's the First it shouldn't be able to damage anything." Dawn retreated as the kitten's head rose above the edge of the table. "Maybe it's a real ghost, some sort of poltergeist. Dawn, what did you do?"
"Me? What do you mean me?"
"It's after you," said Buffy. "Why?"
"She was our cat," said Willow, putting her hand in front of the spectral kitten, "Tara and I really missed her. Nice kitty!"
The ghost head-butted Willow's hand, leaving a faint gelatinous residue. "Ectoplasm! I've been slimed!" The kitten licked her hand clean apologetically then turned back towards Dawn.
"Dawn," said Buffy, "you're looking kinda guilty here. What did you do?"
"Better tell us," said Willow, "before she catches up with you."
"I'm sorry," sobbed Dawn, "It was an accident, I was just getting the crossbow ready and it went off in my hand."
"You killed Miss Kitty Fantastico?"
"It just slipped in my hand," Dawn sobbed.
"What did you do with her?"
"I buried her under the rose bushes."
"And you never told us," Willow said coldly.
Dawn kept backing away, reached the edge of the table, and teetered on the edge. Vi put up a hand to steady her before she fell. "Stop it!" Dawn whimpered.
"I think you need to apologise," said Buffy. "To Willow, and to Miss Kitty Fantastico before she gets her revenge on and I have to get all Exorcist on her ass."
"Better do it," said Vi. "I'm not sure how I feel about helping an unrepentant kitty killer. Maybe I should have just left you to fall."
"I'm sorry," Dawn sobbed. "I'm really, really sorry!" She knelt and put out a trembling hand towards the apparition. "I'll make sure that you get buried properly, with a little casket and a marker and everything. Please..."
Miss Kitty Fantastico stopped and stared at her unblinkingly, sat and scratched her right ear with a rear paw, turned back to Willow and licked her hand again, and quietly vanished.
"Awww," said Willow.
"Better get dressed," said Buffy, "then go get the spade and start digging. I'll call Xander, he can make the casket but you're paying for it."
Dawn didn't argue as she climbed down and went up to dress. Buffy shrugged and said "Well, I guess that was the ghost of Christmas past. Let's hope Dawn doesn't need the other two."
"I guess," said Willow. "And it was kinda nice to see Miss Kitty Fantastico again. Though it would have been nicer if she'd shown up alive."
"Not really on the cards," said Buffy. "Who's for pancakes?"
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