Angel sighed as
the doors to the elevator slid shut, finally giving him the respite that he
had been yearning for all night. His friends meant well, they always did,
but he really wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit much these days. It had
taken a great amount of willpower, and not a small amount of alcohol, to
remain as long as he did. The party had been Lorne’s idea, of course, an
“orphan’s” Christmas, which was a rather unfortunate choice of words in
Angel’s opinion. It was just the men, as Fred had headed back to Texas to
be with her actual family for the holidays, and her absence left quite a
hole in the cheer department. Hence the large amounts of booze. Even last
year that wouldn’t have been necessary, they had all been easy with one
another, a family, but a lot had happened in that time. Mind wipes,
secrecy, running an evil organization without being seduced by the
iniquity—these kinds of things tended to put a strain on relationships.
into his darkened apartment, dropping the bag of gifts onto the coffee
table. He headed straight towards the bar, unstopping the cut glass decanter
and pouring himself a largish glass of single malt. He flicked his glance
over towards the clock. 4:32. He had about an hour or so, give or take, so
he decided to look over his gifts, and sunk down onto his overstuffed sofa.
He had received quite the mixed bag.
Wesley had given
him a ceremonial dagger from what he thought was the Zhou Dynasty, if he
wasn’t mistaken. He ran his finger lightly along the edge, appraising it.
He would need to sharpen it a bit if he were ever to use it, but would
probably just mount it on the wall of his office. Lorne had gotten him
“Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits”. Angel opened the CD case and read the
inside jacket, noting there were a couple of songs he didn’t recognize, and
quickly scanned the mini biopic of Barry’s life before laying it back on
the table. He reached back into the bag, scowling when he pulled out the
envelope which held Spike’s present. A year’s subscription to Playboy. He flipped the envelope
back down onto the table. He told himself he wasn’t canceling because it
wouldn’t be polite, and also, he had heard that there were some really good
articles. The fact that he had heard that from Spike didn’t bother him as
much as it should. He pulled out Gunn’s present last. It was some kind of
hand-held video game, apparently loaded with “NHL Hockey”. He frowned as he
read over the instructions, not realizing until he was about halfway through
that he was reading the French version. The thing seemed way too
complicated and he had way too much alcohol in his system to operate the
controls, but it did hold promise of being a good time waster at work in
the days to come.
He had gone for
the easy route with everyone else, giving them all hefty Christmas bonuses.
No one seemed to mind. He had
given one “real” present, although the recipient would never know who had
sent it. He had agonized over what to give, having no idea what teenaged
boys would like these days. Desperate, he finally broke down and turned to
Harmony, and she told him the I-Pod was “like totally the ‘in’ thing this
year”. Angel had no idea what the hell that was, and was deeply suspicious
of anything with the word “pod” in it, but after a little internet
research, it seemed to be harmless. Either that, or Apple was attempting
world domination through tiny music players. Which, unfortunately, wasn’t all
that far outside the realm of possibility. He had resisted writing “From
Santa”, but only just, resigning to send the gift without any signature
attached. He wished he could see Connor’s face when he opened it, but knew
that wasn’t a possibility.
deeply and drained his glass, his slow glance taking in the both the time and
the rosy fingers of sunlight just peeking over the horizon. His body felt
the pull of dawn as well, his skin prickling just beneath the surface as a
general feeling of lethargy settled in. It was time.
swaying a bit unsteadily, making his way over to his desk. He plopped
himself into his chair, pulling his phone over. He fingered the small slip
of paper he carried in his wallet, glad that he had maintained a covert
connection with Willow. If not, he wouldn’t have been able to continue the tradition
that had come to mean Christmas for him for the past five years. He tried
to keep the deep brood at bay, to convince himself that she had been right,
that he was a man worth saving. Somehow, this year this seemed more
difficult to believe than most. He allowed himself to think back on that
Christmas Eve, when all he wanted was to walk into the sun, ending it all.
He thought about all of those who had been lost since then, who had been
lost because of him. He wondered for the millionth time what if she hadn’t
been there, what if it hadn’t snowed.
He closed his
eyes, deciding not to dwell, and picked up the receiver, dialing the number
from the slip of paper from memory. The phone rang four times before
switching over to the answering machine. She was probably opening presents
at Giles’ place, surrounded by family and friends. The recorded voice
sounded tinny and cheerful, greeting the caller in both English and
passable Italian. Angel dutifully waited for the beep before speaking,
briefly wondering if he should say it in Italian this year, but decided at
the last minute to stick with custom. He whispered “thank you” before
gently laying the receiver back onto the cradle, staring off at the massive
window that took up one whole wall of his office, waiting for the sun.
| Fiction Search | Home
Page | Back |