Xander stared at his duffel bag, trying to think of anything he'd missed packing. Granted he was staring at it in the dark
from his bed, where he'd been lying for the last 20 minutes, trying to get to sleep early so he'd be awake at the butt crack of dawn when Willow and her allegedly frog-safe magic portal were supposed to appear. But even if he'd had the light on, and even if there were
anything he'd missed shoving into the oversized green army duffel, he knew there wouldn't be anyplace to fit it. Every nook and cranny and pocket was stuffed to seam-threatening with presents and laundry
, some of which was actually clean
So staring at the bag was pretty much an exercise in trying to ignore the fact that sleeping in a bed on Christmas Eve just didn't feel right
. Especially a silent, comfy bed, with no sounds of yelling, cheesy Lawrence Welk Christmas albums, or broken glassware echoing from down the hall, and no intermittently rattling doorknob as one drunken family member or another mistook his room for the bathroom again.
He turned over and stuck his head underneath the pillow, but that just made it stuffier, not less weird. Sighing, Xander sat up and looked out the window. Where, if this were any other
Christmas, he and his sleeping bag and a plate of the least strange-looking food he could find in the kitchen would be. Well, if this were any other Christmas and Sunnydale instead of Fandom. He opened the window to stick his head out -- and drew it back in almost immediately, shivering. Right. He slammed his window shut. If this were any other Christmas and Sunnydale instead of Fandom, and California instead of
the freaking North Pole
Xander flicked the light on, shook his head, and crawled out of bed and into his jeans. "How do you feel about camping, buddy?" he asked Jeremiah, who just blinked back at him in the sudden light.
"No, not outside;
you'd freeze to death."
Xander dragged his sleeping back out of the closet, filled his pillowcase with every bit of junk food in the room as well as all of the extra chocolate boxes he'd bought in Chicago for last-minute gifts, grabbed Jeremiah's tank, and headed out of room 406. On the way out the door, he tripped over a package
leaning against it and almost went sprawling -- Jeremiah thudded loudly against the side of his tank and gave an agrieved croak.
"Sorry!" Xander said, righting the tank and checking to see that his frog looked, if pissier, not much the worse for wear. He scooped up the package and dropped it into his pillowcase with the junk food, then headed for the Common Room.
Which was dark. And empty. And quieter than even the Harris front lawn ever was, where at least Xander could usually hear the blessedly distant music and yelling as a faint background noise. The whole 4th floor was dark and silent.
He tromped down the stairs and peeked in on the 3rd floor - same deal.
Finally, on the 2nd, there was light, and noise.