Hellmouth Christmas Carol, Part I

Authors: LelaRose and Gia, with contribution from RehathaAuthor’s Notes: There were certain things we didn’t want to bother with so we left them out of this fic. 1) There is no Dawn or Connor. 2) Riley did exist and now is gone fighting demons in the jungle or whatever;Borrowing the idea of Angelus talking in thought from Maquis’s fabulous stories on her site.kickdress_award

Fic Notes: <.> will represent the characters thoughts; <italics> represents Angelus’s thoughts. ** will be used to emphasize a word.

Lyrics: Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette; Various Christmas Carols

Additional dedication: Happy Holidays to everyone who takes the time to read our fics and send us feedback. We really appreciate it. I hope all of you have a Very Merry Christmas and that Santa will be very good to you.

Oh, and our apologies to Charles Dickens.

Special thanks to Rehatha for her suggestions and feedback.

In memory of Glenn Quinn. May he rest in peace.

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox, et.al.

Pairing: B/A, mentions of C/A, B/S.

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally posted: Dec 6, 2002

A fic by LelaRose and Gia, with contribution from Rehatha.

Christmas Eve In LA…

The sounds of Christmas Carols echoed throughout the hotel, as did the laughter of the group downstairs, the merrymaking jubilant and noisy. The sounds were accompanied by the aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee and cookies just out of the oven adding to the warm and homey feel.

Angel listened absently as he wrapped the small jewel box, his preternatural hearing picking up an occasional comment when he bothered to pay attention. The window was open, the cool night breeze drifting in and chilling the room. It was of little matter to him though, as external heat and cold seemed to have little influence on him these days. He always seemed to feel chilled, the cold from his body filling his heart and soul.

Cordelia has insisted on the Christmas tree and the decorations and Angel had given in without protest. He knew that she, like the rest of the AI team, really had nowhere else to be on Christmas Eve and so they would celebrate it together, a family of sorts.

For so many years prior to the last few Angel had simply let the holidays pass him by. And he had liked it that way. It was easier to stay out of the way, keeping humans at a distance, staying in the shadows.

There were other reasons too, that Angel avoided the holidays – particularly Christmas.

Once, so very long ago now, he and Darla had found pleasure in roaming the streets on Christmas Eve in search of their prey. They would watch the people happily crossing the streets, busy with their last minute errands and travels to meet with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. They would watch and wait patiently, their malice and demonic senses trained to pick and choose only the most cheerful, those with only the highest of spirits, those people who seemingly had everything to live for – and thus everything to lose. Nothing had ever been as fun as taking everything away from someone who had it all, and they had joyfully and cruelly done that.

Angel felt the guilt descend over him with the thoughts of his past. The crimes he had committed as a demon were so horrific that his own mind could scarcely contemplate what he had done. Each time he was reminded of what he had been he renewed his resolve to make amends for his actions and each time he wondered if it would even be possible.

“Hey!” A cheerful voice interrupted his thoughts. Cordelia stuck her head in the room. He’d been so lost in thought that he hadn’t heard her approach. Angel turned toward the door.

“You gonna join us, Scrooge?” She laughed at her own joke, her eyes sparkling with merriment and the glasses of champagne she had consumed.

“Coming.” Angel inwardly sighed, picking up the few gifts from the table. It was the first year he had attempted to buy presents for the team and he was a little anxious about it. He was years out of practice buying gifts. The last gifts he had bought had been. for Buffy. His thoughts veered quickly away from any further thoughts of the blonde Slayer. Purposefully, he had kept her out of his mind these past few years and purposefully, he would continue to do so. Anything else was simply not an option.

“Gunn promised to sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ acapella. I don’t think he can, but.” Cordelia giggled, “I guess we’ll see.”

Angel smiled slightly, not wanting to spoil the evening of fun for everyone. There was no need for him to burden anyone else with his own grim thoughts.

“You’re not up here brooding are you?” Cordelia admonished irritably, noting his sober expression.

“Uh, no.” Angel looked away from her, unable to look her directly in the eye and lie.

“Angel!” Cordelia returned sternly, “For once we’re going to celebrate Christmas my way and it’s going to be fun and everyone is going to be happy. We’re singing Christmas carols tonight and drinking eggnog and champagne, and then tomorrow morning we’re all getting together under the Christmas tree in our pajamas and opening gifts. Just like when we were kids. After that, Fred and I are making a big dinner and we’ll all eat until we’re suffering from carb overload.”

Angel nodded in agreement, even though he’d partake little of the planned feast. Sometimes Cordelia seemed to forget that vampires had little taste for drinks other than blood, and no desire for solid food. He silently followed her from the room.

“Merry Christmas!” Gunn shouted, lifting his glass in toast as Cordelia and Angel descended the stairs.

Angel nodded and returned the greeting, setting his packages carefully down next to the others by the tree. The bright-multicolored lights were festive and cheerful and the groups good humor contagious. He felt his earlier dark mood lift slightly.

Over the next few hours, Cordelia regaled them with stories from her youth about Christmases past, everyone laughing as she described her careful and methodical wish list presentation to her parents. She avoided, however, telling them about the tantrums that followed when her list wasn’t delivered accurately and in its entirety. When they sang carols, Angel even attempted to join in on one or two that he recognized. His voice was deep and pleasant, if somewhat hesitant.

Just past 11:00 o’clock, Cordelia herded everyone off to bed, insisting that tradition demanded that everyone be in bed by midnight. Besides, it would be an early morning for all with presents to be unwrapped under the tree.

She followed Angel to his room, stopping just outside. “See, you had fun.”

“Yes.” Angel returned her smile, thinking again that he was doing the right thing now. Cordelia was good for him and he needed her; she gave him a much-needed connection to humanity. And lately things had begun to heat up between them.

Cordelia looked into his eyes. She wanted him to kiss her, she wanted to kiss him, but she waited, hoping he would make the first move. Their relationship seemed to be heading in that direction; it was perhaps only a matter of moving the car along the track a bit. Resting one hand on his chest, she closed her eyes and pursed her lips slightly, leaning forward. There. There was no way he would miss *that* signal.

Angel paused for a moment as he stared down into her upturned face, the full lips she had puckered expectantly. This was what he wanted, he reminded himself sternly. He wanted a relationship. He wanted. love. And Cordelia understood the limitations his curse and nature set upon him.

He leaned down and kissed her, automatically sliding his tongue in to duel with hers. Their lips met and clung, a moist intimate caress and after a moment he withdrew, disturbed that he had felt no heat, no passion for her burning within him; it was just motions, just automatic, absent-minded skill. For a moment, the emptiness seemed portentous, but he dismissed his worries with a series of excuses – he was tired; he was no longer used to the effects of the champagne; he had a lot on his mind; there were unsolved cases.

The demon inside him stirred and Angel felt it, adding to his unease. <Well, well what have we here?> He leaned away, planning on saying goodnight when Cordelia pressed firmly against him again.

Pretending not to notice his reluctance, the ex-cheerleader smiled and pressed her lips against his again. She reached for the knob and opened the door to his room. With slow but steady steps, Cordelia managed to inch Angel backward into his suite of rooms, her lips still planted firmly on his. She wanted more, wanted things to go farther than they had before. And she was determined to make that happen.

Without thought, Angel’s hands wandered slowly up her waist. His moves were perfunctory, practiced. There was no real thought or emotion required, as Angel lapsed into programmed motions. His senses were tuned equally to Cordelia and to the demon now awakening within.

Wanting more, wanting him to continue when he usually left off before, Cordelia reached for his hand and placed it on her breast. Unaware that his attention was divided, she smiled inwardly at her success so far. She moaned into his mouth as he ran his palm over her firm flesh before he cupped the mound in his hand.

<Asshole!> Angel’s eyes came open as his demon suddenly released a fleeting protest, as if objecting to his actions. This made no sense. Always before, Angelus would wait quietly, hopeful of any action that would possibly set him free.

Cordelia’s lips brushed Angel’s jaw, moving toward his ear and drawing his attention back to her.

The vampire, as if to spite the beast within, renewed his attention to the woman in his arms. His hand squeezed her breast. <It didn’t feel. right. Right? It was large and firm – why is that not right? It’s not Buffy. > Angel shook away the thought, wary that thoughts of the blonde slayer had entered his mind at just this moment. He inwardly shrugged, maybe it was just the implants.

<Yeah, tell yourself that’s what it is.> The demon laughed then, mocking him then with simple words – <Mate! Lover! Slayer!>.

Feeling Angel’s momentary disconcertion, Cordelia opted for a bold move. She reached behind her and unzipped her dress, drawing it down to expose her black lace bra. She smiled at him again, sliding the straps down her arms. “Please kiss me, Angel.”

Angel swallowed as the demon laughed. While he and Cordelia had certainly engaged in kisses and a few – a rare few – heated make-out sessions, they hadn’t pushed the limits of the curse. Was Angelus’s presence a warning? Forcing his attentions back to the woman in his arms, Angel returned Cordelia’s kisses, his hands moving back to her breasts. He planted soft kisses down her chest moving ever closer to her now exposed breasts. They were large and firm, the skin stretched taut over the implants she had gotten after moving to LA. Her dusky tan nipples were hard peaks begging for his attention.

At the first touch of his mouth on her nipple, Cordelia sighed and leaned back into the couch. She knew about the curse, the risk to his soul, but that applied to his perfect happiness, which she wasn’t ready to give him. Though, there was no reason he couldn’t provide *her* a little perfect happiness, now was there?

After a few minutes, she reached for his hand and placed it on her inner thigh. Angel usually missed the subtle signals she dropped, so tonight she’d be perfectly blunt. She parted her legs and scooted toward his hand.

Angel hesitated only a moment before he did what he had perfected with years of expertise; knowing that he could keep the demon in check, he brought Cordelia to the heights of pleasure with only his hand while his lips drifted across her breasts, alternating his attentions on each rigid peak, then along her neck to return to her lips. He felt her stiffen when his tongue traced her pulse. He wondered briefly if she thought he would bite.

When she drifted back to earth, Cordelia kissed him affectionately and told him how wonderful he was, how wonderful he made her feel.

Angelus now laughed, taunting him. <Whore! She’s no better than any of the bitches you’ve fucked before. What next? Will she thank you?>

Angel shook his head, attempting to dispel the demon’s words.

“Thank you.” She was efficiently putting her clothes in order at the time, making it difficult to capture and keep any sense of intimacy of the moment.

Angel grimaced as the demon laughed again. Angelus had been right. As he watched her straighten her clothes, the vampire realized that he would have liked to have held her for awhile, the way that he often did… <Buffy. Buffy again? I need to get her out of my mind. Cordelia. Cordelia is what I want. Cordelia is who I love now.>

Once again the beast within laughed. <Love!> The word came out in a snarl. <She’s a shallow, worthless whore. Not worthy to be my mate.>

“‘Night,” Cordelia smiled brightly. Her world was falling perfectly into place. She had almost everything she every wanted. As she walked to the room she had selected for the night, her spirits lifted a bit and she smiled. What a great start!

<Good job, soul boy. Now she’ll be back every time she wants to get off. Next time at least be a man and fuck her.> The demon scoffed and went silent.

“Good night.” Angel sighed, dismissing his thoughts. He reached out and squeezed Cordelia’s hand affectionately just before she left the room without a backward glance.
Christmas Eve In Sunnydale…..

A cloud of dust settled to the ground. Buffy straightened from staking the fifth vampire of the night. She stuck the stake in the waistband of her jeans and dusted the vampires ashes off her. It had been another long night of Slaying. It seemed even the vampires were in the mood to celebrate the Holidays. Their merry making seemed to be siring more vamps. Buffy shrugged. <Oh, Well, Christmas Eve on the Hellmouth.> She turned to walk out the Cemetery.

“Hello luv. Looking for me?”

Buffy stopped and looked in the direction of the voice. It drifted down to her. She looked up to where Spike crouched on top of one of the expansive columns flanking the entrance and exit to the cemetery. As she watched, he sailed down like some large vulture and landed on his feet in front of her.

Since her break up with Riley, Spike had been following her on patrol in pretense of backing her up. He found lame excuses to come to her house. Telling her he loved her. She’d tried to discourage his interest in her. She probably should have been more convincing. Maybe she had been leading him on. Maybe in her loneliness she had been giving him mixed signals. She didn’t know. She did know that she wasn’t in the mood to deal with a confrontation with him. But it didn’t seem as if she had a choice. Buffy hooked her thumbs in the button loops of her jeans.

“Spike can we *not* do this?”

“Can we not do what luv?” He asked, innocently leaning into her personal space.

Buffy refused to back up. Refused to let Spike know that his nearness bothered her. She wasn’t stupid she knew the difference between making love and fucking. She just found it to be a very bitter moment to be sexually attracted to a soulless vampire. Because the chip was the only difference between Spike and the vamps she just dusted.

“Can we not play your little game,” she clarified, staring him in the eyes. “I’m not in the mood.”

“Then what are you in the mood for luv?”

“I’m in the mood for you to stop calling me luv and get out of my face. I’m tired and I want to go to bed.”

“So do I,” Spike said seductively, “with you.”

Buffy groaned in exasperation. She’d walked right into that one. She was really off her game.

“Look Spike, I only wanted one vampire I’ve ever had in my bed or ever wanted there and its not you.”

“Well, the feeling isn’t mutual is it, Slayer? That is, since you’re here and he’s in LA.”

“Angel left me so I could have a normal life and because being together we risked the world. You do remember the curse? Angelus? Just a couple of years ago he was fucking your girl – in front of you for all I know. Maybe that’s why you want me. To get a little bit even..” Buffy saw a flash of anger in his eyes before he was able to conceal it. She felt a moment of satisfaction as inflicting a little of his pain back on him.

A cruel smile curved Spike’s thin lips, “Oh, haven’t you heard Slayer? Angel doesn’t seem to be too concerned about his soul.”

Buffy narrowed her eyes and took a threatening step toward Spike. “What the hell are you talking about Spike?”

The cruel smiled spread across his face. “Soul boy seems to have found him another piece of cu-,”Spike paused realizing Buffy would probably take offense to being called a cunt, “another sweetheart.”

The hurt could be visible seen moving over her features. Spike soaked up her hurt knowing it brought her one step closer to him.

“I-I don’t be-believe you,” Buffy’s voice quivered.

“Well it’s true Slayer. Angel could come back if he wanted to,” Spike paused to let it sink in, “From what I’ve heard he doesn’t want to because he and Cordelia are knocking boots now.” Spike didn’t know if the Poof was fucking the bint or not. But for his purposes it was best that Buffy believed it.

Buffy didn’t know she’d gasped. She stood looking at Spike letting his revelations sink in, letting the sorrow wash over her. The shock rendering her motionless.

Buffy didn’t know she’d gasped. Angel and Cordelia. How could he do that to her? She stood looking at Spike letting his revelations sink in, letting the sorrow wash over her. The shock of his words rendered her motionless.

Spike took the final step that separated them. They were now touching. Thigh the thigh, hip to hip, chest to breast. She could feel the evidence of his arousal pressed into her hip bone. Buffy was forced to tilt her head back to look in the ice blue of his eyes. She didn’t have to tilt her head back far. He wasn’t as tall as Angel or as muscular. His eyes lacked Angel’s warmth, fire; their seductive power. She wondered for a second why she would even think about Angel. She shrugged it didn’t matter.

Spike could see he didn’t have her attention. He knew who she was thinking about. And it wasn’t Farm Boy. And it wasn’t him. The observation made him angry; reckless. He couldn’t understand why she didn’t fall for him. Why she wouldn’t accept and return his love. He’d never had trouble picking up a woman; well not since he was turned. Women flocked to him. They loved his accent. His bleach blonde looks, light blue eyes and muscular body. Okay so he wasn’t as tall as Angel. He didn’t have the whole tall, dark thing, but damn it he was just as dangerous if not more.

“If you wanted to see me in pain Spike you got your wish. What you told me hurts. It hurts like hell, but it doesn’t change anything. I can’t love you Spike. I can’t give you what you want. If it was just my body,” she shrugged the hurt she was feeling clear in her expression, “maybe. Everyone wants a few moments of forgetfulness. You’ve been around about hundred years or so you should know a little about physical pleasure. At least enough to give me those few moments of forgetfulness. If it was just fucking I could give you that, but you want more Spike. You want something I can’t give.”

“What do you think I want?” He asked already knowing the answer.

“You want my heart and soul. You want me to love you. That’s something I can’t give you or anyone. Not ever.”

Her declaration angered him. He had to prove her wrong. Without a second thought he pulled her to him in and assaulted her mouth. She gasped in surprise at his actions. He took that moment to shove his tongue in her mouth. Buffy was too stunned to do anything. She knew Spike was kissing her. His cool tongue swirled greedily in her mouth. The coolness was familiar but the taste was wrong. She wanted a cool, broad thick tongue that tasted earthy and carried just a hint of cinnamon and spices. A kiss that was loving, caring and filled with sensuality even as it devoured hers and left her weak and panting for more. Instead, her lips were assaulted by a thin chalky tongue that darted angrily in her mouth, tasting strongly of tobacco, smoke and liquor. A kiss that was nothing more than seedy lust and tasted like the downward spiral into desperation. She knew she was only doing this because she was hurt, vulnerable and angry. She knew she wanted to strike back at Angel. Give him a little of the hurt that he had given her. She knew that the last thing she really wanted was to be in Spike’s arms. Despite all of that for a few seconds she found herself responding to the kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her body firmly against his arousal. She ground against feeling a heated rush as he moaned in pleasure into her mouth. Her tongue flicked against his before she vigorously sucked on it. Then the gravity of what she was doing penetrated her lust filled brain. No matter how much she wanted to get back at Angel she couldn’t do this no matter how good it felt physically.

Buffy pushed Spike away from her so forcefully that he stumbled backwards. He regained his balance and stood staring at her his pale blue gaze filled with hunger. Buffy swiped her hand across her lips trying to wipe off his kiss.

“It can’t be wiped away, Slayer.” Spike told her his eyes flashing with anger. “You let me kiss you. I had my tongue rammed down your throat and you sucked on it and you enjoyed it,” he boasted.

“What I did, *Vamp*, was prove to myself that I might have loved and had the hots for one vamp but it certainly didn’t carry over to you,” she spit out knowing that for a minute she had responded to him.

“I think the lady protests too much.” Spike taunted a smirk curving his lips.

Buffy walked toward the exit of the cemetery, avoiding Spike. The blond vampire turned, following her every movement with his eyes.

“We kissed Slayer. You responded to me. That was your tongue tangling with mine. Admit you enjoyed it.”

Buffy knew she’d only let Spike kiss her because she was angry with Angel. Because she was hurt by Spike’s revelations. That didn’t explain. Why she had responded so fervently. Maybe she did want him. Maybe she was attracted to him.

Buffy turned and ran. She wasn’t ready to deal with why or why nots of letting Spike kiss her and responding to the kiss. She was too raw trying to comprehend that the man she loved was with another when he could be with her. That her Angel was with her nemesis: Cordelia. Didn’t he love her anymore? Had he moved on and left her still carrying an inextinguishable torch for him? The thoughts and pain flew through her mind as fast as her feet pounded the pavement.

Spike leaned against the massive granite column and watched Buffy run from him. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. His little revelation about Angel was going to bring her right where he wanted her. In his arms. He smiled to himself as he remembered the look of hurt and pain on her face when he revealed Angel and Cordelia’s relationship. He pushed away from the column. <Oh, yeah, I can literally taste the Slayer pussy on my tongue. Soon, I’ll have her beneath me. Soon.> He whistled as he walked towards his crypt.

* * * * *

Buffy walked in her room and turned on the lamp. The soft glow bathed the room. It was Christmas Eve and other than the sick little scene in the cemetery she had no one to spend the evening with. No man to hug and kiss tonight. She imagined that Angel and Cordelia were spending Christmas Eve together. Probably fucking each other’s brains out under the Christmas tree as the lights twinkled and winked over their naked passion flushed bodies. She didn’t know it would hurt this badly. To think of Angel fucking another. What did she expect? Since their break up she’d had sex with two men. She’d even taunted Angel by telling him she loved Riley. That cruel taunt was now coming back to haunt her.

She and Angel were finally able to be together and he’d moved on. He must have believed her cruel words. Believed that she loved another more than she’d ever loved him. She hadn’t done anything to rectify his belief. Angel deserved to be happy. Even if it was with someone else. Even if that someone else was Queen Bitch Cordelia. <So why does the idea of him making love to her hurt so much? Why does my heart feel as if it is about to break?> A single tear rolled down Buffy’s cheek unchecked. Her careless cruel words were probably the main reason Angel had not called to tell her about his soul. He probably thought she wouldn’t care because she loved Riley. That was the farthest thing from the truth. She would have definitely wanted to know about his soul and as much as she cared about Riley she didn’t love him.

She’d broken up with Riley a week before school let out for Christmas break. Spike had been feeding Riley’s insecurities. He’d told Riley over and over that Buffy didn’t love him. That she could never love him because she’d been marked by Angel. She had tried to convince Riley that she and Angel were over but his insecurities just ran too deep. She finally grew tired of constantly reassuring him and stopped. The situation had come to a head when Riley accused her of still loving Angel. When she did not dispute his accusation he told her that their relationship was over. Truthfully she couldn’t contradict him because deep in her heart she knew he was right. The break up with Riley hadn’t been hard which should have told her a lot. Truthfully when Riley left her she felt *relieved*. It was just the end to a relationship that had stopped being mutually beneficial long ago.

She popped in her Alanis Morissett CD and the singer’s voice filled the air. *Head Over Feet* began to play. Buffy stood still, closed her eyes and let the words flow through her.

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it

She believed she had loved him from the moment she laid eyes on him. His dark, sexy, mysterious voice enthralled her from the moment his first words to her slipped past his lips. She wondered what he was doing now. If he still thought about her. If he still remembered the schoolgirl he left in Sunnydale.

You treat me like a princess
I’m not used to that
You ask how my day was

No one had treated her like a princess since he left. They all thought that she was the strong one. He had been the only one who had taken care of her. He had been the only one who treated her like she would break. He treated her like she was the most precious thing in his life.

You’ve already won me over in spite of me
Don’t be alarmed if I fall had over feet
Don’t be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn’t help it
It’s all your fault

And he had won her over slowly day by day. Hell, who wouldn’t fall for him head over feet? He was strong, reliable and he treated her like a princess. Well, being *eye candy* hadn’t hurt either. He was certainly beautiful to behold. And he now loved someone else. He was finally able to show his feelings in the physical sense and he was making love to another. It hurt. It hurt worst than she ever thought it would hurt.

Buffy took a deep breath opened her eyes. The hurt and pain of Angel loving Cordelia bit into her flesh like a constant, persistent ache. It throbbed through her body. She flexed her shoulders and moved her neck from side to side trying to workout the kinks. She gingerly pulled off her jacket and dropped it on the floor. She sat on the edge of her bed and pulled off her ankle boots. She tossed them in the closet. She stood and slowly stripped off her sweater and bra, shimmed off her jeans and kicked them towards the hamper.

She studied her reflection in the mirror. She was thin. She had circles under her eyes. She hadn’t been sleeping well. She was looking haggard. No wonder Angel had never come back to her. Cordelia had always been the beautiful one. While Cordelia was perfecting make up, hair, nails and How to Get a Man 101, she had been learning how to dust a vampire, behead a demon, ambush techniques and Demonology 101. Not exactly a glamorous undertaking.

She let out a sigh. The bruises were fading. She had some bruises on her chest, around her neck, across her shoulder and arms and one was rapidly forming on her cheek. She’d been a little careless the other night and ran across four vampires. She should have waited for them to separate but she decided to take them all on. Big Mistake. She had everything under control until another vamp showed up and took her from behind. It had been a little scary for a few minutes. She shrugged. It had worked out. She walked away a little bruised, a lot wiser and most importantly, alive.

Buffy shook the thoughts off. Not bothering to cover herself she padded down the hall to the bathroom. She had the house to herself. Her mother was spending the Christmas holiday with her Mom and her sister Darlene. Buffy hadn’t felt like trying to be *Merry* and had come up with the excuse that the Hellmouth was too unstable for her to leave. Her Mom hadn’t liked it but she’d accepted the excuse. Thinking about Christmas reminded Buffy that she didn’t have a Christmas tree. She doubted if she’d get one. Her Mom had made it a tradition to buy a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and decorate it. Since she wasn’t here Buffy hadn’t bothered to keep up the tradition. She and her Mother had exchanged gifts yesterday before she left. The few other gifts Buffy had were for Xander, Giles, Anya. She’d bought Willow a gift but she hadn’t wrapped it because Willow didn’t celebrate Christmas.

Buffy ran her bathwater added some mineral soak Willow had given her. She tested the water with her fingers and when it felt right she sank into the soothing hot mineral infused liquid.

It was Christmas Eve but to her it was like any other night. Tomorrow she’d go to Giles. She, Willow and Anya were cooking dinner. Not Christmas dinner because Willow didn’t celebrate Christmas. Just a dinner with friends. Then maybe they’d open a few gifts and watch the Sunnydale Christmas Parade and Giles’ copies of *It’s a Wonderful Life* and some old English movie *A Christmas Carol.* Buffy smiled fondly. Giles was very excited about watching those two old movies. He told everyone they were Classics.

Buffy took the sponge and soaped her body. She thought about the incident in the cemetery. She knew why she responded to Spike. The hurt, the pain that was clawing at her. She’d wanted to hurt Angel. To sleep with his nemesis. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. Spike was chipped now. He was available. Who would know if she succumbed to his seduction? It was just a fuck. That was all it would be. She’d proved to herself with Parker and Riley that she couldn’t have a relationship with a human male. And she’d proven with Angel she couldn’t have a relationship with a souled vampire. So why not fuck a chipped vampire? At least she knew she could never love him and she knew she couldn’t hurt him emotionally. He was a vampire; he didn’t have emotions like love. He only felt lust and passion. And right now, as much as she hated to say it, he could offer her a few moments of forgetfulness. Appease her hurt pride, her wounded ego. Plus, as much as she hated to admit it she was a healthy hot-blooded female and she’d gotten use to getting laid 3-5 times a week even if Riley’s stamina hadn’t match hers. Buffy rinsed the suds off her. She’d think about it later.

She stepped out the tub and dried off. She went to her room and slipped on a tank style t-shirt and a pair of low rise sweat pants. She climbed in bed holding Mr. Gordo close. She again wondered how Angel was spending his Christmas Eve. She sighed sleepily and tried to convince herself that she really didn’t care what Angel was doing tonight.or who he was doing it with.
*** Doyle’s Ghost. ***

Meanwhile, in LA.

Angel looked out the window as he undressed, the streets uncannily still for the usual hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. It was one of the few nights of the year when things actually seemed quiet, in both the human and the demon world.

The lone person walking along the sidewalk glanced up just as Angel looked down, giving the tall vampire a jolt of surprise. There was nothing unusual about the man, either in manner or dress, other than the fact that he looked very much like someone Angel used to know. But it couldn’t be Doyle.

Angel blinked, doubting his eyes. When he opened them again, the street was empty, no one walking where the man had been. Angel looked left and right, his brow furrowing in concentration. He was too used to ghostly phenomena and creatures of the night to simply dismiss the vision out of hand, and yet, there was nothing to indicate that it had been anything more than his imagination. He shrugged, thinking it was perhaps the three glasses of champagne that Cordelia has pressed on him to drink – he was no longer used to alcohol so maybe it had an unusual effect.

Pulling on a pair of black sweat pants, his favorite sleeping attire now that he no longer slept nude (Cordelia and Fred having barged in on him just one too many times), Angel crawled into his bed.

It seemed he had only closed his eyes when he heard the sounds of a bell ringing. It was an old antique hotel bell that Wesley had given him as a joke when they had first moved into the hotel. Angel had left it on a shelf downstairs and had promptly forgotten about it. Curiously he sat up, as the ringing appeared to be coming closer. He reached for the sword that he kept under the bed.

Each ring of the bell was preceded by a clanking sound, almost as if a chain were dragging along the floor. And footsteps. The footsteps were coming down the hall now toward his door. Angel tensed, lifting the sword and preparing to attack.

In the next instant the door burst open and there was the man Angel had seen on the street earlier. Doyle. He was dressed as Angel had last seen him and was grinning widely. In one hand he held the antique hotel bell, in the other, a length of chain. Yet, his body was so transparent that Angel could see through him into the hall beyond.

“Doyle?” Angel stood cautiously, expecting that at any moment things would not be as they appeared. It was, in his experience, wise to be suspicious.

“Angel.” It was, without a doubt, Doyle’s voice. “Nice bell.” He sat it down on the chest of drawers near the door, casually looking around the room. “Nice place. Roomy.”

“What are you doing here?” Angel held the sword high, still wary, having been the victim of too many pranksters in the past. “And what’s with the chains?”

“Now that’s a bit rude.” Doyle smiled, recalling their first conversation as he continued his slow walk around the room, taking in the surroundings. “Can’t an old friend come by to visit?”

“How do I know it’s really you?” Angel continued his questions, searching for any clue or answer as to why Doyle’s ghost would appear in his room tonight.

“You don’t trust your eyes?” Doyle, distracted by his study of the pictures and other objects on the night table, glanced over his shoulder at Angel again.

“No.” Besides being cautious, Angel found the sight of Doyle disturbing somehow. He was used to being haunted by the sprits of those he had hurt or killed as a demon, even the First Evil knew that and had used them against him. But Doyle – was his death to be used against him too?

“Look in your heart, Angel. What do you believe?” Doyle replied, his expression now serious and waiting.

After a long pause, Angel gave in to his instincts. “Okay, so you’re Doyle. Why are you here?”

Angel shifted on his feet, lowering his sword somewhat but not relaxing his guard.

“I’ve been sent here. To help you. To show you.”

“Show me what? Who sent you?” Angel studied Doyle, a questioning expression on his face.

Doyle shrugged. “It’s not my place to say. Nor can I tell you what I would. I can only show you. You have to decide for yourself.”

“And if I won’t? Or can’t?” Angel was wary. All too often these types of decisions came with a high penalty for making the wrong choice. He needed to understand the stakes, what was at risk.

“No rest, no peace. Years of incessant torture. Guilt. Remorse. You already know what it’s like. Nothing changes.” Doyle’s voice was light, but there was definite truth to his words.

Angel paused, his thoughts in turmoil. Was this another test from the Powers that Be? The wind blew then, the soft howl loud in the dead silence of the night.

“You have yet a chance and hope, Angel. If you but take it. ”

Angel sighed with resignation. He had to take the risk, whatever it was. “What do I have to do then?”

Doyle thought for a moment, then grinned. “You read Dickens, right? A Christmas Carol?”

“Yes.” Angel nodded. Over his lifetime and many years in solitude, he’d read all the classics, most of them several times.

“So think of this as your own Christmas Eve tale. You get me, and I get to show you your Christmas Past, Present and Future.”

Angel almost smiled. Almost, but not quite. “You’re saying I’m Ebenezer Scrooge then?”

Doyle laughed. “I am.”

“Walk with me.” Doyle grinned again as he started toward the door, beckoning Angel to follow. “Oh, hey – did you like the chain? That was just for effect. You know, ghostly sounds and all that.”

Angel only shook his head, following the ghostly apparition of Doyle out the door.

A nearby clock was just chiming one when Angel and Doyle passed through the lobby of the Hyperion. Cursing softly, knowing that he was running a bit late, Doyle shook the hourglass that he held in his pocket.
*** Kendra’s Ghost ***

Back In Sunnydale…..

She heard a bell ringing in the distance. She was a little confused. Other than her alarm clock she couldn’t think of why a bell would be ringing. Plus she knew for certain she hadn’t set her alarm. Then she heard a throaty accented voice calling her name. She listened intently she knew the voice calling her. She’d heard it before. She knew that accent. She wondered if she was dreaming.

“Wake up Buffy,” she said softly. When Buffy stirred but did not wake she spoke louder and shook the bed. “Wake up Buffy we have much to do before dawn.”

Buffy struggled through the grogginess of sleep to consciousness. The voice was louder now. More persistent. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and leaned back against the headboard. She saw her standing at the foot of the bed. She was absolutely beautiful. She wasn’t in the traditional gown ghost’s usually wore and she wasn’t transparent. She wore a silver toned halter-top that stopped above her navel and a pair of low rise flowing pants in the same color that hugged her hips. A silver waist chain clung to her midriff.

“Kendra is that you?” She asked her voice drowsy.

“Of course, Buf-fy,” she answered in her beautifully accented voice.

Buffy watched speechless as Kendra seemed to float around her room. Buffy guessed she should have been afraid. Kendra had been dead for years yet here she was floating around her room. Instead of being afraid, Buffy was just curious as to why she was here.

“Cool chain,” she said stupidly. For some reason Buffy found the waist chain interesting.

Kendra glanced down glanced down at the metallic links that encircled her waist. “Thanks. I thought it looked good with the outfit. I remember a Sister Slayer once telling me I needed to learn how to dress better.”

Buffy smiled and took in Kendra clothes. “You have.”

“Thank you.”

Kendra stopped in front of Buffy’s dresser and ran her fingertips over the cross hanging from the lamp and Mr. Pointy lying on the nightstand.

“I see you’ve kept it.” Kendra ran her fingertips along the sharp wooden object before turning back to face Buffy. “You know I use to sleep with it. I guess I treated it like you do your Mr. Gordo.”

“The last time I saw you alive I told you that you should get a teddy bear,” she said smiling at her sister Slayer.

Kendra’s deep melodic laughter filled the air. “I remember.”

She sat on the end of Buffy’s bed.

“I thought angel’s wore white? You are an *Angel* right?” Buffy asked suddenly afraid that something evil may have taken over Kendra’s body or spirit.

Kendra felt her fear. “Relax I’m an angel,” Kendra shrugged, “White doesn’t do anything for me.”

“Too bad you aren’t a different Angel,” she mumbled. “Why are you here?”

Kendra leaned back on her elbows, “You remember a Christmas Carol.”

Buffy gave her a blank look, “Which one…Jingle Bell, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Deck the Halls…?”

Kendra let out a weary sigh, “No, not a Christmas Carol as in song. But Dickens’ Christmas Carol as the story. You know the *Scrooge* Story.”

“Yeah. I think I remember seeing it. It’s that old black and white movie right?” Buffy asked.

“Yeah, that’s the one. Well, I’ve been sent here. To help you. To show you.”

Buffy looked at her a little confused then her face scrunched up, “Ewww, wasn’t A Christmas Carol about this ugly guy who was like a 1000 years old!”

Kendra laughed. Only Buffy would be worried about that. “Don’t worry about all that. The only thing that applies here is the story. Scrooge was visited by three Ghosts; Christmas Past, Present and Future on Christmas Eve.”

“Well, you don’t get the three Ghosts just me. The Powers That Be have sent me to show you your Christmas Past, Present and Future. As for the Scrooge story, I’m going to take a few liberties. You aren’t exactly a Classic sorta person and actually neither am I. I mean I read up on the story when the PTB’s told me I was coming to guide you but the story was long and a little boring so skimmed through a lot of places. We’ll just have to wing it in certain spots.”

Buffy digested what she said. “Cool. Who are the Powers That Be?” Buffy asked.

“The Powers That Be are the ones we serve.”

“Oh,” Buffy said still not sure who the PTB’s were. “Why did they send you?”

“Who else would they send but another Slayer. Besides you have a reputation in Slayer realm for being difficult. The Powers didn’t think you’d pay attention to anyone else.”

“But why send anyone? Why do I need to see my past, present or future?”

“I think you know.” Kendra answered. “Get up we need to get going. We have a lot to see before dawn.”

Buffy reluctantly threw the covers back. She wasn’t looking forward to this but she knew there was no way she was getting out of it.

“Where are we going?” Buffy asked just as the mist swirled thickly around them.

“To see your Christmas Past?”