It's A Wonderful Christmas
Disclaimer: Christmas? I believe it is owned by Coca Cola. "A Christmas Carol"? Dickens gets the credit for this genius. B/A? Owned by the Devil. AKA: Joss Whedon
Author’s Notes: Here's a Christmas present!
Summary: Buffy gets a visit from the legendary three ghosts and it changes her Scrooge-like views
Category: AU, B/A, Buffy-centric
As Buffy Summers stalked up the stairs to her bedroom, she bemoaned the fact that she had given into her mother and sister and watched “It's A Wonderful Life” to celebrate Christmas Eve. That movie really pissed her off. All the misery and the crappy pay-off at the end? She hated it. Not that Jimmy Stewart wasn't charming and such a good ol'All American hero, but hello! Didn't he care about all the shit he had gone through? He just kissed that banister thingie and forgot all the despair.
As Buffy was pondering this, a voice in the back of her mind was telling her that she might have missed the point of the movie, but she steadfastedly ignored it. What was the point of being happy anyway? Her boyfriend had enjoyed when vampires sucked on him! Wasn't that completely fucked-up in ways she didn't even understand? He needed help. Of the professional variety.
She was almost glad he was gone. Now didn't have to deal with their relationship anymore. She had used to want to. Used to yearn to make things work between them. But now…all she yearned for was for this godforsaken holiday to be over, and for a nice cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.
Re-routing, she turned around and walked to the kitchen, noticing how silent the house was with her mother and Dawn already upstairs and asleep. The lights from the Christmas tree twinkled merrily, casting strange shadows around the rooms. Buffy shivered slightly and got out the kettle plus some cocoa, milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla extract and marshmallows. She made kick-ass hot chocolate and right now she craved a cup of it more than anything.
Setting the kettle to boil, she leaned against the counter and wondered briefly why she wasn't happier. After all, her mother's condition was improving everyday. The operation had done wonders. And Glory hadn't made any return appearances. Spike was being marginally less annoying. She actually sorta enjoyed his company now. There hadn't been a lot of vamp action in a while and all her friends were doing fabulously. Besides the Riley thing, what did she really have to be sad about?
The little voice started up again, whispering her the answer to that elusive question, but she ignored it.
Adding a couple spoonfuls of cocoa to the hot water, she added all the other ingredients and took a long satisfying sip, feeling the liquid slide down her throat like nothing else did.
That was the first thing she heard. Buffy jerked and looked up at the door to the kitchen. The knob turned slowly. It had to be Dawn. Up for a snack on Christmas Eve. Buffy called softly, “Dawn? Is that you?”
There was no answer, but there didn't need to be one. The door was opened and Buffy saw who had been on the other side of it. “Who the hell are you?” she choked out.
A small thin man stood before her, bedecked in robes of red, a golden chain holding it closed and trailing lightly down his back. His eyes were clear, kind and his mouth curved in a sweet smile. “Why child? You don't recognize me? I am the Ghost of Christmas past.”
Buffy stared. And then started to laugh. “You're what? Yeah, and I'm Santa Clause.”
He looked slightly offended but bowed to her. “I assure you, I am telling the truth. I am indeed the Ghost of Christmas past. I have come to teach you a lesson.”
Buffy stopped laughing. He seemed so serious. But how could he be? There was no such thing as the Ghost of Christmas Past. “Look, I saw this movie,” she informed him. “And frankly, it wasn't that good. What kind of demon are you? Really?”
“Demon?” he replied, perplexed. “I have told you what I am, child and I expected no arguments. And I know of no movie. I am, however, a little dramatically portrayed in the book, “A Christmas Carol.”
Buffy considered for a moment. “I never read that. Isn't that by Charles Dickens?”
He nodded and looked pleased, his beard twitching as he smiled with pride. “Yes, quite a famous writer I hear. Imagine our surprise and pleasure when he chose to write a novel about us.”
“Us?” she questioned and he looked affronted, stroking his white moustache and regarding her.
“Why, the three Ghosts, child,” he answered a tad petulantly. “The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.”
“Oh man…” Buffy moaned, putting down her mug of cooling hot chocolate. “You came to show me my past? I thought…I thought that only happened to Scrooge like people. I may be unhappy but I'm no Scrooge.”
He shook his snowy-white head. “That is simply a myth created by Mr. Dickens, child. We come to those who are lonely…who are unhappy and need to face the truth. For dramatic effect… and because people are unhappier at this time of year, we come on Candlemas.”
“Excuse me?” she repeated. “Candlemas? No such day going on here. Guess you can leave.”
He laughed softly, “I do apologize child. I have been around so long…occasionally I use old terms. Forgive me, I meant Christmas day. Now, if you have finished, we can go.”
“Go?” she repeated, and he nodded, holding out a pale, smooth hand to her.
“To see your past, dear.”
Without even thinking she took his hand. She wasn't sure why. His eyes were hypnotic, and she had a wild need to see why she was unhappy. Could he really help her?
When their fingers locked, he instructed her to close her eyes. “Nothing's happening!” she complained and then his softly amused voice spoke.
“Open your eyes, child.”
She did and gasped, startled as she realized where she was. On the hill beside the mansion. A lone figure stood overlooking the town. “Angel…” she whispered, recognizing him. What was he doing here? “Angel!” she called, but the little man beside her shook his head.
“He cannot hear you, child.”
“Why not?” she snapped, and then realized why when she saw a girl running up the hill towards her. The girl had blonde hair, up in a messy ponytail and wore all black except for a light bluish/white jacket. “That's me…” she said aloud, wearily and then suddenly it hit her when this was. She actually had stepped into the past. This was the night she had saved Angel. The night she had stopped him from killing himself. Had it really been two Christmases ago?
She watched as her past self and Angel struggled, fought, their voices breaking with emotion. How long has it been since I felt so deeply about something? she wondered to herself, seeing her past self cry, tears streaking her cheeks as she screamed at her suicidal lover.That girl had emotions. I don't even remember her anymore
She watched as her past self hit Angel, who knocked her to the ground. She could hear what they were saying, their voices carrying with the wind.
“Am I thing worth saving, huh?” Angel gasped, his voice breaking. “Am I righteous man? This world needs me gone!”
Buffy's heart cracked as she was forced to listen to the words she had uttered so long ago. “What about me?” her past self murmured plaintively. “I love you so much. And I tried to make you go away. I killed you and it didn't help!” Her past self pushed Angel from her as if she was trying to rid her skin of the need to be close to him. “And I hate it! I hate that it's so hard, and that you can hurt me so much! I know everything you did…because you did it to me. God…I wish that I wished you dead. I don't,” her past self whispered. “I can't.”
“Buffy please,” Angel muttered, sniffled, tears running down his face. “Just this once. Let me be strong.”
As Buffy's past self began to speak, Buffy murmured the words along with her. She remembered what she had said then. “Strong is fighting. It's hard and it's painful, and its everyday. It's what we have to do. And we can do it together.”
Together. when had that word become null and void? When had the idea of she and Angel fighting side by side become an impossible one? She didn't know. She had never really known, but she had chosen not to dig deeper.
As she watched her past self continue to speak to Angel, she saw the first snowflakes begin to fall. And the feuding, weeping lovers ceased their speech, glancing around, finally their eyes locking as they realized what the snow meant. Redemption.
“Time to go,” the Ghost spoke quietly and Buffy was startled, as she had forgotten he was even there. He took her hand and her eyes closed.
Suddenly she found herself on one of the streets in Sunnydale, snow blanketing the ground, and her past self and Angel walking towards them, holding hands. She turned to the Ghost, but he wasn't there. “Helloooo?” she called, but there was no answer. Stumped at how to handle this, out of the corner of her eye she watched as her past life self and Angel looked at each other lovingly.
Her heart ached. Where had that look gone?
Shocked, she whirled around and saw a very tall, looming figure before her, dressed in robes of green. “Ghost of Christmas present?” she asked and he nodded solemnly.
“You are right, Ms. Summers.”
“But I live in the present,” she informed him. “How can you show me what I've already seen?”
He shook his head and his greying hair swung out in abandon. “I won't be showing you your life. I'll be showing you someone else's Christmas.”
“Who's?” she inquired in a small voice and he looked at her reprovingly.
“I think you know,” he replied and held out his head. Obediently, she took it and closed her eyes.
“Open,” he instructed and she did. She was in a room she had never seen before. It looked faintly like a hotel room, but lived in. Turning slowly, she felt him before she saw him. “Angel…” she whispered, but knew he couldn't hear her.
He sat, his legs sprawled out, in a huge chair by the window, one of his hands holding a glass of something that looked suspiciously like alcohol and his other hand held a picture. Edging closer, she looked over his shoulder and her hand went to her mouth. The picture was of her, alone, lying on the grass outside the High School. Her hair was short and shiny blonde, her smile wide and innocent, her body tanned under capris and a tank top. She looked…young and happy.
Glancing at Angel's face, she could see that he was smiling faintly down at the photo. But his eyes were filled with hot tears.
“He still…?” she asked the Ghost and he nodded.
“Yes, Ms. Summers. He still thinks of you, often. He still loves you. Christmas is a very hard time for him.”
“Why in the hell didn't he go out with Cordy or something?” Buffy muttered angrily. She hated to think of Angel, her Angel, being alone for Christmas. He was alone enough as it was.
“Ms. Chase rejoined her family for the holidays. His other friends invited him out, but he chose to stay here. And think of you,” the Ghost informed her simply and she closed her eyes, reaching out with a hand to touch her former lover.
His eyes snapped open suddenly. “Buffy?” he whispered, turning around, and the Ghost grabbed her, pulling her away.
“The connection between you… it is still strong. He sensed you.”
She was light-headed and stared back at Angel, who was looking around the room, lonelier than ever. “How could he? I didn't think anyone could see or hear or touch us!”
“They cannot. You two…there is powerful love there. More than anyone else in the world has ever known.” The Ghost lay a hand on her shoulder. “I will go now. The Ghost of Christmas Future will join you shortly.”
“Thanks,” she murmured absently, still gazing back at Angel. It made her feel strange to see him. After seven months or so. She had missed him, she realized. More than she would let herself admit.
She turned wearily and stuck out her hand. “Show me my future, O Wise One. I know you're gonna anyway.”
The Ghost looked wary and she took in his appearance, noting that he looked much younger than the other two. His hair was like tendrils of mist, his eyes a startling blue and his body lean. “Wow.” Was all she could muster, and he grinned.
“I may look young girlie,” he remarked, as if he could read her thoughts, “but I'm older than those other two. Much older. I assume you know the drill by now?”
She nodded and took his hand, closing her tired eyes. A little breeze across her face and it was over. She looked around, noticing that she seemed to be in a house of medium size. A tree was decorated in one corner, and the lights twinkled, just as the fire crackled merrily in the fireplace. “I feel like I've stepped into a Hallmark card,” Buffy grumbled to the Ghost. “What is this?”
He smiled. “It is what your future,” he stressed, “could have been.”
A woman entered the room, and startled, Buffy realized it was her. But she was a good ten years older. Her hair was long and a honey blonde, her flesh still unlined. There were new curves to her body, but she was by no means overweight. A spring and a bounce to her step proclaimed that she was, without a doubt, happy.
“I like future me,” Buffy remarked decidedly and the ghost shook his head mournfully.
“That isn't future you. I'm showing you what could have been. Not what will be.”
She had no time to comment on that, because she was distracted by the entry of a man. Angel, she recognized. He took future her in his strong arms and nuzzled her neck. She purred and giggled, unbuttoning his shirt as her hips grinded against his ever so slightly.
“Oh my God,” Buffy hid her eyes. “What am I doing? We can't do that…bad curse!”
She could hear laughter and realized it was the Ghost's. “What?” she peeked at him and he chucked her underneath the chin.
“There is no curse in this future. After the end of days fight, Angel was Shanshued, which means he was granted humanity. You and he had gotten back together and you fought together. You won and he became human. You no longer were the Slayer, and you two married and had two children.”
Buffy felt inexplicably sad. She stared at the entwined couple, who were dancing slowly to a weepy love song. “When did we get back together?”
“It was seven months ago. When he and Riley got in the fight, you chose him, instead of Riley. You apologized for the things you said and he admitted his true feelings for you. Love was declared and from then on you two were inseparable. You fought together and your love became unbreakable.”
“But I didn't do that,” she whispered and looked once more at the future versions of herself and Angel. “What is my real future?” she asked, suddenly very afraid. His fingers clasped hers and he smiled sadly.
When she opened her eyes again, she was in a cemetery. “What?” she snapped. “Is fighting vampires forever my destiny?” That was when she saw the name on the gravestone. Buffy Anne Summers.
Gasping, she fell to her knees, reading the inscription on the cold stone.
BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS
1980 – 2005
What more can be said about a Hero?
Beloved daughter and friend
It was a flat statement and he made no comment. “I died?” she repeated. “I died?”
Finally the Ghost sighed heavily. “You are going to die when you're Twenty-Five,” he told her. “During the End of Days fight.”
“How does Angel tie into all of this?” she asked through numb lips.
“Look at the other gravestone,” he pointed to the next one over and she walked over slowly over and touching the letters with suddenly trembling fingers.
Left this earth August 21st 2005
Friend and Warrior
He will be Remembered…
“Cordy chose the inscription,” the Ghost murmured thoughtfully. “He committed suicide after you died. His pain was too great to even function. Everyone agreed he should be buried beside you.”
“What can I do to prevent this?” she asked, her tone desperate, pleading almost. She couldn't stand to look at the two graves anymore. This couldn't happen to her and Angel. She wouldn't allow it to happen. They had to get that fairytale ending. Not this cruel fate.
The Ghost stared deep into her green eyes for an indeterminate amount of time. “I cannot tell you,” he finally said, “It is for you to figure out. You must forgive …you must start over from scratch. There must be healing.”
She nodded, a little frustrated, but knew he would tell her no more.
“Take my hand, Buffy,” he said softly and she did, her eyelids shutting.
When her eyes were re-opened, she found herself back in her kitchen, staring down at the cold mug of hot chocolate. Scribbling a note to her family, she grabbed what she needed and headed out the door.
In the morning, Joyce came downstairs with a yawn, opening a carton of coffee to make a fresh pot. A piece of paper scrawled with messy writing she knew to be Buffy's fell at her feet. Picking it up, Joyce read the words, and for the first time in a long time, she smiled.
I've gone to LA. There is someone there I have to wish a Merry Christmas. Sorry I couldn't be there to open the presents, but I'll be home soon. Hopefully, not alone.
I love you both so much. Merry Christmas,
PS: I think I finally get “It's A Wonderful Life”!
PPS: Oh yeah, Mom, you aren't mad I took the car, are you?
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