Hellmouth Christmas Carol, Part II

Author: LelaRose and Gia, with contribution from Rehatha

Author’s Notes:

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 22, 2002

*** Angel’s Ghost of Christmas Past ***

In the blink of an eye, Angel found himself with Doyle in what appeared to be Sunnydale, just outside the library of the Sunnydale High School.

“Welcome to the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

“Christmas past?” Angel inquired, slowly recognizing his surroundings. His stomach tightened with both excitement and dread. He had locked this place away from his thoughts, its memory precious, yet filled with anguish.

“Specifically, your past.” Doyle began walking, or rather floating further into the room.

“Why are we here?” Angel without any effort of his own seemed to glide along with Doyle.

“Your redemption if you will.”

He saw her then. Buffy. She was standing in Giles’s office near his desk talking to him earnestly. At the first sight of her, Angel was flooded with a thousand thoughts, hopes, joys and cares long forgotten. His throat tightened and his heart constricted in his chest. He hadn’t thought that seeing her again would stir such emotion.

“Buffy.” Her name came out as the merest whisper.

<Hmm… hello lover…> As if attracted by her presence, Angelus stirred within him.

Doyle said nothing as he took in the look on Angel’s face, the pain and yet the expectant hope.

“You recognize the lass, then?” Doyle asked.

“Yes.” Angel murmured a catch in his voice. He hadn’t seen her in what, two years now? Longer?

<At least, you whining pathetic loser.> His demon taunted him.

“You know where we are then? You remember?”

“Yes, of course I know.” Angel glanced at him irritably. It was inconceivable that he would ever forget her; surely Doyle knew that.

“You haven’t been back for awhile. I wasn’t sure.”

Angel wanted to go to her. Unconsciously, he stepped forward.

Doyle’s voice stopped him. “They are nothing more than shadows of something that has been. She doesn’t see or hear you.”

It was only then that he realized that he could hear Giles speaking.

“You had a dream about Angel.”

” I was *in* Angel’s dream.” Buffy’s expression was worried, serious.

Giles removed his glasses, glancing at Buffy with a look of exasperation. “I’m not sure that’s…”

Buffy interrupted, her mission at the moment clear. At least to her. “Giles, there was stuff in this dream that I couldn’t possibly know about. It was Angel’s past, he was dreaming it, and somehow I got sucked in.”

Once more glancing at Buffy, Giles considered again Buffy’s apparent connection with Angel. Before he could say anything, Buffy spoke again. “There’s something wrong with him.”

Angel could feel her concern for him. It rolled over him, steeping him in comfort and love. Buffy had been the first person that cared for him, truly cared for him as a man. She had been the first to make him believe in himself, to make him want to be something more than what he had been.

<Yeah, me.> Angelus snorted.

He realized then that he missed her concern, her devotion. He knew then that he wanted her back. And at the moment, he wouldn’t have cared about the risks, the dangers.

<Missed her sweet little body, her hot little mouth, her tight little pussy. Yeah, you bet you missed her. Fool!> The demon inside echoed his thoughts, albeit with his own carnal twist, greedily wanting her back.

Giles glanced down at the book on the desk, his own thoughts in alignment with Buffy’s. “I know. I’ve seen him. He wanted to know why he was back.”

Buffy felt a small measure of satisfaction, of progress at Giles’s admission. “Is there a way for us to find that out?”

Angel could almost feel her heart leap with hope.

“Uh, possibly. I-I’ve been looking.” Giles put his glasses back on again and looked back at the book on the desk.

“Well, let me look, too.”

Giles looked back at Buffy, his expression coldly appraising.

Without hesitation or fear, Buffy returned Giles’s glance. With or without her Watchers help, she’d find a way to help Angel and Giles needed to know that. “I’m not seeing him anymore. I’m trying to put all this behind me, and I’m not gonna be able to as long as we’re both doing guest spots in each other’s dreams.”

Leaning back in his chair, Giles considered her words. As much as he didn’t like it, he knew that she was determined.

Angel could sense Giles’s reservations, his reluctance to allow Buffy’s participation. But she stood firm and unwavering.

<The prancing fop!>

Despite the demon’s words, Angel smiled, his heart swelling with pride, with warm feelings of love and devotion for her, his determined little slayer. <His? Where had that come from? She was his no longer.>

<She’s mine. Never doubt it.> Angelus snorted.

“So we’ll help him?”

“Yes.” Giles sighed, resigned.

Doyle turned to him then, breaking the silence that had fallen for the moment between Buffy and her Watcher. “She fought to help you, even knowing that her Watcher, her friends, her Mom – the lot of them would never approve or support her.”

There was no need to elaborate further. Angel knew the rest. He knew that her family and friends had engaged in emotional blackmail, forcing Buffy to choose between their acceptance and him. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he thought again about her unconditional love, her stalwart defense of him despite all of it.

Within him, Angelus snarled. <Gonna cry, pussy?>

Angel glanced at Doyle, his next words difficult. “Yes. She did.” He felt a pang of regret that he hadn’t been there for her more often. He should never have let her walk home alone on her 18th birthday, the day when she was weak and beaten so badly by Kralik. He should have been there when she was nearly burned at the stake by her own mother for being a witch, or when the Mayor and Mr. Trick attempted to stage “SlayerFest” trapping her and Cordelia in the woods. Angel sighed. Doubtless there were other times he had failed her as well, maybe even more than he knew, more than she had ever told him. Yet, she had never let him down. She had even risked her life to give him back his own…

<She was delicious, wasn’t she? Sweet, ripe… tasted so good… everywhere, didn’t she?>

“All right, then. Moving along.” Doyle interrupted his thoughts as he moved, silently and swiftly, Angel carried along with him. In the blink of an eye, they were standing in downtown Sunnydale just near the Christmas tree lot. When Doyle pointed, Angel glanced in that direction.

Buffy was walking toward them with a determined stride. When she kicked the gate in, Doyle whistled. “I have to say, she is a hottie. Even when she’s mad.”

Angel shot him a dark and somewhat possessive look as the beast within growled. Doyle only grinned and shook his head unapologetically. After a few minutes, they followed her into the Christmas tree lot, watching closely as she hacked at the ground with an ax or pick. When she dropped into the hole she had dug, they followed, seeming to pass through the solid earth to the cave beneath.

The First Evil appeared as Jenny Calendar and appraised Buffy. “Hmm. I’m impressed.”

Buffy hesitated only briefly before she spoke, her words firm and defiant. “You won’t get Angel.” There was no doubt in her mind or her voice.

The First spoke again, “Hmm. You think you can fight me? I’m not a demon, little girl. I am something that you can’t even conceive. The First Evil. Beyond sin, beyond death. I am the thing the darkness fears. You’ll never see me, but I am everywhere. Every being, every thought, every drop of hate.”

Buffy interrupted, her patience worn thin. “All right, I get it. You’re evil. Do we have to chat about it all day?”

The First Evil was irritated that Buffy did not cower and beg. “Angel will be dead by sunrise. Your Christmas… will be his wake.”

“No.” There was that tone again, resolute and unwavering.

Angel felt a return of his earlier pride in Buffy then, along with another wave of recrimination. She had never failed him, but he had failed her.

“You have no idea what you’re dealing with.” The First Evil ground out, the voice coming from the visage of Jenny Calendar almost a growl.

Still undaunted, her voice now dripping with sarcasm, Buffy replied. ” Lemme guess. Is it… evil?”

The First Evil changed then, shifting from the apparition of Jenny to become a huge horned and clawed beast, charging and roaring at Buffy with its eyes glowing red. Just as quickly as it appeared it faded leaving Buffy to stare in surprise at the place where it had been.

A last warning echoed through the underground cave, “DEAD BY SUNRISE!”

Buffy turned then and ran, terrified now for Angel.

Doyle and Angel followed her when she left, running toward the mansion at Crawford Street.

“Angel! Angel!”

His heart constricted in his chest when she called his name, racing down the street and through the mansion. Angel felt tears in his eyes and he could see and feel her panic, her fear for him as she desperately sought to find him on a night when she should have been at home with her family and friends.

<Or warming my sheets…>

In the next instant, their confrontation played out in front of him, Angel seeing himself through Buffy’s eyes for the first time.

“I bet half the kids down there are already awake. Lying in their beds… sneaking downstairs… waiting for day.”

Buffy pleaded with him, breathing heavily from her run through town. “Angel, please. I need for you to get inside. Th-there’s only a few minutes left.”

” I know. I can smell the sunrise long before it comes.”

“I don’t have time to explain this. You just have to trust me. That thing that was haunting you…” Her words came out in an anxious rush.

He interrupted her, not wanting to hear anything that would change his mind about greeting the dawn. “It wasn’t haunting me. It was showing me.”

“Showing you?” Confused, Buffy looked at him.

“What I am.”

“Were.”

Watching her, Angel smiled ruefully at her words. She had always separated him from the demon, loved him in spite of what he had been or done.

The demon snorted. <Still are. Don’t kid yourself, soul boy. I’m not going anywhere.>

“And ever shall be. I wanted to know why I was back. Now I do.”

“You *don’t* know. Some great evil takes credit for bringing you back and you buy it? You just give up?” Buffy was incredulous, and angry. Angry that the seed of lies the First Evil had planted had taken root and begun to grow.

” I can’t do it again, Buffy. I can’t become a killer.” The words were angry, harsh.

<Too late. You are a killer.> Angelus taunted.

Angel winced, watching himself, unable to believe he had been so cold and unfeeling to her while wallowing in his own pain and self-pity.

Determined not to let him quit on her, Buffy persisted. “Then fight it.”

“It’s too hard.”

Time was increasingly short and Buffy was growing desperate, Angel could hear it in her voice.

“Angel, please, you *have* to get inside.”

” It told me to kill you. You were in the dream. You know. It told me to lose my soul in you and become a monster again.”

” I know what it told you. What does it matter?”

Angel watched as the shadow of himself turned to face her, his voice now loud and yelling.

“Because I wanted to! Because I want you so badly! I want to take comfort in you, and I know it’ll cost me my soul, and a part of me doesn’t care.”

They both considered his words, the ramifications of them, for a moment.

“Look, I’m weak. I’ve never been anything else. It’s not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It’s the man.”

“You’re weak. Everybody is. Everybody fails. Maybe this evil did bring you back, but if it did, it’s because it needs you. And that means that you can hurt it.”

Angel vividly recalled how her words reached into his heart, into his very soul. He’d wanted so much to believe her then, but he’d refused.

Once again, Buffy pleaded with him. “Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster.”

Watching, Angel could feel her panic increasing as the sky began to lighten around them.

“Angel, please, the sun is coming up!” Buffy begged, her voice frantic now.

Unconsciously Angel attempted to retreat as he watched the scene unfolding, but he was blocked by Doyle standing behind him observing quietly.

“Just go.” His words were cold, unfeeling.

” I won’t!”

” What, do you think this is simple? You think there’s an easy answer? You can never understand what I’ve done! Now go!”

Buffy ignored the fact that he was shutting her out again, relentless and determined to help him. She’d move him physically if necessary. “You are not staying here. I won’t let you!”

“I said LEAVE!” He jerked away from her and Buffy punched him, driven by her fear and desperation to get him inside. If necessary, she’d physically move him.

Angel watched as his past self shoved her away roughly; sending her sprawling hard into the ground, face first.

“Oh, my God…” He knelt over her and grabbed her by the shoulders, turning her around to face him.

Angel’s stomach turned over in shock and disgust that he had hit her. He hadn’t remembered…

<Nice move. Who knew you had it in you, soul boy?>

Her short cry when he grabbed her shoulders alarmed him. Had he hurt her? In the next instant he felt anger, anger at her and at himself. His actions only proved that he was everything that he claimed to be – unworthy, not worth saving.

” No! No!”

He threw her attempts to help him in her face, holding her roughly by the arms and shaking her to emphasize his point. “Am I a thing worth saving, huh? Am I a righteous man? The world wants me gone!”

Buffy began to cry then, and Angel felt his heart wrench as the scene played out in front of him.

“What about me?” she whispered softly, her eyes filling with unshed tears. “I love you so much… And I tried to make you go away… I killed you and it didn’t help.” She swallowed, her voice thick with emotion. “And I hate it! I hate that it’s *so* hard… and that you can hurt me *so* much. I know everything that you did, because you did it to me. Oh, God! I wish that I wished you dead. I don’t. … I can’t.”

Angel felt his own tears now, her last whispered words nearly breaking his undead heart.

<Please, sissy boy. Your crying and whining is making me sick.>

“Buffy, please. Just this once… let me be strong.”

“Strong is fighting! It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do. And we can do it together. But if you’re too much of a coward for that, then burn. If I can’t convince you that you belong in this world, then I don’t know what can. But do *not* expect me to watch. And *don’t* expect me to mourn for you, because…”

Doyle touched his arm, “She was blind and unselfish in her love for you.”

Angel watched his shadow self walk down the hill with Buffy toward town, the snow now falling steadily. He sighed. “Yes, she was.”

“Slayers lead lonely lives.”

For long minutes Angel couldn’t think. He could only feel. It was the sharp stabbing pain of emptiness, of want. There was a hole in his heart, in his soul, in his very being that only Buffy had been able to fill. After he had left her, he had tried hard to pretend that the aching void didn’t exist. When pretending had proved unsuccessful, he tried to fill the void with other lesser things…lesser people. But he knew now that it hadn’t worked. His love for her was still strong.

<Big surprise there, moron? Does the words soul and mate mean anything to you?> Angelus laughed, delighting in his own sense of humor.

“She deserves more. Sunlight. Picnics. Children.” Angel replied softly, his mind slowly attempting to recall again all the reasons why he had left her.

Doyle turned to look at him then, “What about love? I mean the real kind of love – not the stuff of fairy tales and poets, but the real stuff. The every day, good with the bad yet earth shattering, do anything in the world, sell your soul kind of love. The kind that can bring a demon back from the depths of hell.”

<And fucking. Don’t forget, plenty of fucking..>

Angel was uneasy with Doyle’s question, particularly phrased in such a way.

“Ah well, then again perhaps she doesn’t deserve that.” Doyle lifted his shoulders slightly, answering for Angel in the long silence.

“What?” Angel growled, turning on Doyle in anger.

“Well, that’s what you decided then, didn’t you? You took it from her.”

The demon growled. <You did leave without so much as goodbye.>

Angel stopped short, Doyle’s words and the demon’s echo surprising him. Not liking the direction his friend’s words had taken and unable to face the fact that he had been responsible for most of the pain Buffy had felt in her young life, Angel growled. “Doyle, I’m done. I don’t want to see anymore. I want to go home.”

“I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. They are what they are. You can’t change them or blame me.”

Almost angrily, Angel replied. “Then why show me?!”

Doyle shrugged. “Because you need to be reminded.”

Angel sighed heavily. “You know the story. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t be around her and not be with her, it was too hard.”

<Say it! Say it! You couldn’t stand being around her. You couldn’t stand hearing her voice, smelling her skin, breathing her in day after day and wanting her so desperately you thought it would drive you mad. Hell, you thought it would drive us mad. Admit it. You wanted to fuck her. Taste her. Lick her. Oh, and don’t forget, bite her…>

Meeting his gaze, Doyle lifted his brows. “For you or for her?”

Angel was quiet for a long while and when he finally did answer, Doyle barely heard it. “For me.” The words were difficult to say and even harder to acknowledge. He didn’t want to admit that he had been so wrong, that he had lied to himself all these years about why he had left her.

“I know it’s difficult. But if you were able to do so, would you choose differently now? Would you still leave, knowing that she doesn’t have much time left with this life?”

Angel glanced sharply at Doyle, his senses heightened with alarm.

Doyle continued. “Of course, being immortal you have the luxury of time. After a while, these few years in Sunnydale will be a dim memory, Buffy a dream you once had. The pain, if you remember it at all, will diminish with your recollection of it, so perhaps there’s no reason to change at all.”

Angel’s thoughts returned to Doyle’s earlier words. “What are you saying? Will she die?”

Sadly, Doyle nodded his head. “Yes.”

<No!> The demon roared, the word stark and loud.

“Can it be prevented?” Angel stared back his gaze unwavering. He wanted to hear only one answer.

Doyle only shrugged, unable to give Angel the answer that he wanted. “It depends.”

Anger and frustration filled him; what purpose had this served? To remind him of what he had lost? He suffered that every day. To remind him of the bad things he’d done? Hell, he’d done far worse as Angelus. Even to Buffy. To tell him that she would die? Unless, maybe… it could be prevented? Could *he* prevent it, somehow?

“Take me back.” His voice was nearly a growl. He didn’t want to hear any more. He couldn’t. What if he was wrong?

Doyle resisted a smile, knowing Angel’s mind was in turmoil. After another long pause, Doyle asked. “What?”

“Nothing. Take me back.” Angel refused to look at him. Would she die knowing how much he loved her?

<What’d you expect?>

“Sure about that?” Slowly they began to move back toward the downtown area of Sunnydale.

Angel sighed heavily. He couldn’t change what had already been done and he couldn’t change the curse. Sure, he had his regrets, but what did it matter now?
Meeting Doyle’s persistent stare, Angel finally answered. “I wish I had told her goodbye. Told her that I still loved her. That I would always love her. I could have at least done that much.”

“I thought you loved Cordelia now.”

<Yeah. Remember her? Big, firm tits? Thighs clamped around your hand while she got off?>

Angel opened his mouth to speak then closed it again. He wasn’t sure how to answer that question. Cordelia was what he wanted, right? She was what he needed. Then why didn’t it seem right to verbalize it to his friend? Or rather, the ghost of his friend?

It was Doyle’s turn to sigh. “You fear too much. Deep down you know that you are not what you were. The happiness that was promised when you and Buffy were one in heart is weighed down with misery now that you are apart. Together you were strong, apart you are divided and weak.”

Angel looked at him and started to speak. He needed to know more.

“Oops. Time’s up. We gotta run.” Before Angel could get the words out, Doyle noted the time on his watch. Drawing the hourglass he began to shake it just as the Sunnydale Baptist Church bell began to chime two.
*** Buffy’s Christmas Past ***

Back In Sunnydale…..

Buffy looked down at the tank top and sweats she had on. She shrugged it would probably do. She managed to step into her sneakers just as her room filled with a cold gray mist and she felt weightless. <What the hell is going on?> she thought as she felt herself literally floating in the air. She could actually feel the air, time and space shifting and moving around her.

When the mist settled she was standing beside Kendra in downtown Sunnydale. Kendra didn’t have to tell her where, when or the time. She knew. She’d held this day in her memory, her dreams, her heart for years. She looked around at the snow-covered streets. Snow was falling heavily around them. She tried to reach out and touch the snow but it went right through her hand. She looked over at Kendra.

“It’s a mystic thing. Haven’t you noticed you don’t feel the cold?”

Buffy did notice that. She was in a tank t-silk shirt, her stomach was showing yet, she didn’t feel the cool biting air or snow. To be exact she didn’t physically feel anything.

She turned to ask Kendra what was going on and out the corner of her eye she saw herself, as she was that Christmas. The Christmas that in her mind was a perfect day. She and Angel were walking down the middle of the street holding hands, the snow falling steadily around them, looking into each other eyes with pure love; love that had lost the illusion of innocence and newness, survived pain and heartache. On that day at that moment she thought that their love was so strong nothing could break it. Nothing could come between them.

Buffy looked from herself to Angel. They looked so happy then.

Angel looked down at her his eyes misty, “I love you Buffy. Regardless to what happens in our lives.”

“I love you Angel. Always.”

They hugged. They were so much in love back then. So content to just be together. She remembered how happy she’d been that day. How grateful she was. The snow had been a miracle, just as the love of a Slayer and a Vampire was a miracle. She’d felt blessed just o be with Angel. She hadn’t realized that she was crying until Kendra spoke.

“Yes, Buffy look at the past. Your life with the person you loved. The person who loved you in return with his most precious possession. His soul.”

“Why are you showing me this?” Buffy sobbed. “He’s moved on. We’ve both moved on. Why are you making me relive something I can never have again? Is this a punishment?” She asked bewildered and hurt.

“All of your questions will be answered in due time,” Kendra said cryptically.

As much as she hated to see her sister Slayer hurting she knew Buffy had to endure the gauntlet of pain before she could be rewarded. Kendra intended to see Buffy rewarded. She’d watched her give too much too many times not to finally have a little happiness. Kendra’s resolve was solid.

Buffy turned from Kendra to watch as she and Angel walked down the street. Without even thinking as they neared her she fell in step with them and Kendra followed closely.

Angel and Buffy walked to the mansion in silence moving slowly. Angel’s arm was around her waist holding her closely as her arm circled his back. The fingers on their other hands were entwined and Angel kept lifting them to his lips to press cool kisses on her knuckles.

They didn’t speak. There was no need for them to say anything. They both knew that they had been given a miracle that day. Another chance to make things right. Buffy remembered how it felt that day. How blessed she felt. She thought Angel being saved from his suicide attempt was a sign that they were meant to be together forever. Buffy snorted a laugh. Buffy snorted a laugh: the naivety of youth.

Kendra looked over at her. “He loved you more that day than he could ever tell you. He loved you so much it hurt,” she told Buffy softly.

Buffy shrugged nonchalantly although her heart was breaking from the memory. “Doesn’t matter how he felt that day in the end he left me. And from what Spike tells me he has a new love. He’s in love with Cordelia. They are probably lying in bed together holding each other tightly as I speak.”

Kendra heard the pain, the loneliness and the bitterness in Buffy’s voice. She knew Buffy was hurt but she could feel the love Buffy still had for Angel. The tears Buffy was shedding weren’t tears of hate but of regret and sorrow. Kendra knew exactly what Buffy regretted and the source of the pain and sorrow. If Doyle was doing his job right before the night was up she’d make sure that regret, hurt pain and sorrow were no longer a part of Buffy’s life.

Buffy watched heartbroken as Angel built a fire in the fireplace. They shed their coats and cuddled on the sofa. Angel laid his head in Buffy’s lap and she stroked his hairs murmuring soothing words to him as the fire crackled and the aroma from the scented candles filled the air. It was like she was back there again. Buffy walked in front of the sofa and looked down at herself and then at Angel. Not only was she a Slayer that day and a friend. But she was a lover. A lover protecting the most precious gift she ever been given in her life. Angel.

Buffy reached out and tried to touch her past Angel but her fingers just slipped thought him. She pulled her hand back and clutched it to her heart. She had loved him so much. No, she *still* loved him so much. And a he’d left her. Left her heartbroken and listless.

Buffy turned to look at Kendra the tears still streaming down her face. “I want to go home. I can’t stand this pain another minute.”

Kendra nodded. She knew her sister Slayer could stand no more.

In a wave of her hand mist circle all about them. Buffy could only see the cloudy mist swirling around her when it cleared she was back in her bedroom.

“Rest, Buffy. I’ll be back shortly.”

Buffy didn’t need to be told twice. She curled up on her side in bed and let her tears fall.