What if Angel had never lost his soul?
8 Christmas Days through the years.
site: Kittens in the Dark
He notices it’s Christmas when the tenants of the upper floors cheer and fireworks start somewhere in town. Somewhere. He still doesn’t know enough about Sunnydale to pinpoint the exact source.
His moment of celebration is still two hours away, enjoying the holiday with her parents.
Fireworks remind him of her, the one girl strong enough to pull herself from the despair he witnessed. He hopes she’ll pull him along; he’s willing to protect her in return.
He thinks of Christmas, wonders what it used to mean, back when he was alive. He can’t remember.
Now he thinks of hope.
He wasn’t expecting her.
She was to spend Christmas with her father and come back before New Year, just in time to play the good ‘your-divorce-doesn’t-affect-me, no-way!’ daughter and greet 1997 with Mrs. Summers.
He is sure he’s smiling foolishly. He should bid her inside and stop staring at her. Yes, good idea. Any second now he’ll remember his manners and do just that. For now, though, he’s content watching her.
“Don’t you want it?”
She is pouting. Why is she pouting? He drags his eyes from her face to her hands, to the small package she’s holding.
He and Buffy had planned to spend the day together until she dutifully returned to Revello Drive. Instead they’d driven across town collecting shaken Scoobies and sat them in Joyce’s living room, all the while being haunted themselves. Hopefully, Wesley’s spell will hold.
No, not his idea of a romantic Christmas Eve.
But everybody is alive. Considering their enemy, that’s miracle enough is.
“What?!” Joyce sounds bewildered at his explanation. She shudders at the idea of the dead visiting her.
He can’t blame her.
“Angel?” Buffy’s voice, still scared.
Joyce looks at her daughter, then at him.
One secret less.
It’s a simple misunderstanding.
He and Buffy have had these before… Just because he can’t remember one example doesn’t mean anything. They must be good at resolving them. For starters, he is a vampire and she is a vampire slayer, how is that for compromise?
He just doesn’t want to leave the guys on their own during the holidays. That Initiative thing, even though he doesn’t wholly trust it, can watch over Sunnydale for a couple days.
Why doesn’t Buffy want to come, anyway? Ever since Thanksgiving she’s been weird about visiting him and she won’t talk about it.
Just a misunderstanding.
Staring at the phone, he feels useless.
“No biggie,” Buffy has just said, as if they hadn’t planned Christmas in Sunnydale for weeks.
“I don’t mind.” Her voice said rather that she didn’t care. Lately, her only care has been her mother’s health; he almost misses their bitter fights when Darla just resurfaced.
“Look, Angel, I gotta go.” And she hung up. No I-love-you. Not even an I-miss-you.
He misses her.
He’d gladly run to her and make everything better, go through with their holiday plans. But the world never pauses to accommodate his love life, and Wolfram&Hart even less.
Buffy was always hesitant to handle Connor, so, when he opens the nursery’s door and finds his son sound asleep in her arms, Angel is understandably surprised.
“Stop gaping.” Her head shakes amusedly as she shifts the sleeping baby, “Say Merry Christmas to daddy, Connor.”
Oblivious, Connor sucks on his thumb.
If things were different, this scene would be his favourite present ever. Instead: “Merry Christmas to you.”
Buffy smiles at him, but the silence becomes uncomfortable and she finally sighs. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”
He nods. “I love you too.”
But it’s not that simple.
“I’m going with you.”
Buffy smiles up at him, caresses his cheek lovingly. “Of course not.”
He lowers himself to her side, pulling a sheet over them. “It’s the First; you will need me.”
Her eyebrows rise challengingly. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, honey.”
“It almost killed us once,” he reminds her sombrely.
“I was young, stupid…” She grows serious at his frown. “And you weren’t responsible for an entire city.” A sigh. “Let it go, Angel. Fred and Will battled hard to get us this present. I say we don’t waste it.”
“No.” And she kisses him.
Buffy watches as LA explodes in fireworks.
The office doors open; footsteps come closer and then his arms pull her against his chest.
“Merry Christmas, love.”
A kiss against her hair heralds his murmured greeting. “Dawn is asking for you,” he adds.
“Figures. She can’t wait for the gift exchange.” With a chuckle, Buffy turns around. “Aren’t you curious about your present?”
“I’d be happy with another night without interruptions,” Angel answers readily.
“Mmm, sounds nice.” She smiles at last year’s memory. “And tomorrow we face the world.”
Whatever comes, they’ll face it together.
Best Christmas present ever.
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