Hellmouth Christmas Carol, Part V

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

*** Amends ***

<Wake up. Wake up lard ass. Get up. Get the fuck out of bed and change our future. NOW!>

Angel blinked. He was in his own bed, in his own room at the Hyperion. He took a quick look around the room again, as if needing to confirm his surroundings. Glancing at the window he made sure that it was dusk, safe for him to venture out. He had a lot to do in a short amount of time if he truly wished to make amends, to change the future yet to come.

Showering quickly, Angel dressed in his usual attire. Black slacks, charcoal sweater. He ran his hands quickly through his hair, attempting to force the unruly locks into some sort of order with a dab of hair gel. He was anxious and more than a little nervous, yet he felt a strange sense of calm and bubbling happiness. It was as if a weight had been lifted.

<Hurry up.>

Quickly he packed a bag, shoving in clothes and other necessities for several days.

Opening the bottom drawer of the chest in his room, Angel extracted the small jewel box that had been carefully tucked away in the back corner all these years. He’d found the ring on the floor in the mansion not long after he returned from hell, near to where the ash from his body had marked the floor. He’d known it had been Buffy’s the minute he had held it in his hand. Tucking it carefully in his pocket, he grabbed his coat. It was time to reclaim what he had lost.

He took the stairs two at a time, rapidly making his way toward the door as he shrugged into his coat. At the bottom of the stairs he gave in to the urge, and he laughed. The sound drew Cordelia and Fred out of the nearby room to stare at him curiously.

“Angel?” Cordelia frowned, wondering what had happened to the vampire while he slept. He was behaving strangely this evening.

“Christmas Carols. Do you hear them?” Angel cocked his head, his preternatural hearing picking up the sounds of ‘Silver Bells’ playing in a car passing on the street. “What’s today?”

Cordelia looked at Fred, still frowning, then turned her attention back to Angel. “December 22. Same day as when you went upstairs earlier. Are you okay? Because you’re acting awfully strange. Did you fall and bump your head or something?”

“No. And I haven’t missed Christmas! The Powers… they really did set things back a few days.” The last words, Angel muttered to himself. He looked then at Cordelia, really looked at her. Her brown eyes lacked warmth; her smile was beautiful yet touched with insincerity and avarice. How could he have missed it before? The superficiality was easily detectable, especially for someone with as much experience observing and scrutinizing people as he had.

<If her cunt was as cold as her heart, even a vampire would get frostbite. Stop fucking around and get going.>

“I need the number for that cleaning crew that we did that demon removal for. The one that said they owed us a favor.” Angel searched his pockets, checking for his keys. “I’m sorry, but I won’t be here for Christmas. I’m leaving for Sunnydale after I make a stop.”

Angel turned then, whistling a happy but off key version of “Jingle Bells.”

Cordelia gave Fred another worried look then came around the desk. She touched Angel on the arm catching him before he reached the door.

“You. Are. Not. Okay.” Her frown had deepened to a scowl at the mention of Sunnydale; her cropped dyed blond head shaking slowly back and forth as if to reinforce her words. “What happened?”

“No, I’m not okay. I’m better than okay, actually.” Angel smiled then, an honest to goodness real smile. Which made Cordelia even more nervous.

“Wes! Gunn! Can you come here please?” She kept her hand on his arm as if to restrain him.

<Oh, look. Sugar dumpling is worried that I’m back…>

Angel waited patiently, his expression, well, it could only be described as angelic. He’d soothe their worries and fears – at least, what little he could soothe in oh, say 10 minutes, then he was out the door. He didn’t have time to placate them beyond that.

“Yes?” Wesley appeared, but Gunn was nowhere to be found. Fred volunteered to look for him and in the next second she nervously raced off.

“Angel says he’s going to Sunnydale.” Cordelia kept her eyes on Angel, but talked to Wesley like she was talking to a small child. She still gripped the vampire’s arm tightly, as if she could keep him there with that simple touch.

“Really?” Wes looked from Cordelia to Angel then back again. “And why is that? Is there trouble there? Perhaps we should all-”

“No.” Angel interrupted, stopping Wesley before the rest of the words could be spoken. “No trouble. I’m going alone. I need to see if I can’t correct some mistakes that I made.” He met each of their eyes, his own telling them that he did not wish any company.

“And then?” Cordelia pressed, a nervous dread washing over her.

“And then? Well, if I’m really lucky and things work out as I hope, then I’m going to get laid and I’m going to get married. Maybe not in that order.” Angel grinned, turning back toward the door. He was anxious to be on his way.

<Laid. Hell, yes. About time too. But married? Soul boy, we gotta talk.>

“You’re going back to that bitch, aren’t you?” Cordelia shouted after him.

<…Hit her…Hit her now.>

Fred and Gunn looked from Cordelia to Angel curiously, having entered in time to hear the last bit of the conversation.

“Yes.” Without turning Angel waved and disappeared through the door, whistling once again.

“Damn it!” Cordelia muttered.

“Who’s he going back to? That girl Bunny?” Fred asked timidly.

“Buffy.” Cordelia forced herself to spit out the slayer’s – and her rival’s – name.

“Whoa! Back up a minute. I didn’t think Angel could- you know, with his ex?” Gunn had heard the stories.

Wes smiled, despite the tension radiating from Cordelia. He’d known since that very day when Angel’s life had been threatened by Faith’s poison arrow just how much the young slayer loved him. Personally he thought them well suited. Buffy was Angel’s light, and he was her shadow. “Well, apparently he can now, or perhaps he just doesn’t care. My money is on the former. Now then, Fred, perhaps you can help me, I was just researching this T’lara dimension…”

Wes turned then and left the room, Fred and Gunn following.

Cordelia seethed in the lobby, angry that she had apparently lost Angel to Buffy again. As if she had ever had him…

***
In Sunnydale…

Buffy felt an alien coolness encircling her trim hips and lifted up her tank top to see the silver waist chain her sister in spirit had bequeathed her.

A slow smile stretched across her face; it hadn’t been a dream. It was real. It was all real. She looked at the clock radio on her dresser: the LCD reading was December 22. The Powers had kept their promise and had given her three days. Three days to un-muck her life. Three days to make a reality out of that scene in the mansion that Kendra had shown her only a glimpse of.

Buffy ran to her closet and started pulling out clothes. She had so many things she needed to do. But the first thing was to make a trip to LA and get her man.

***
In LA…

The post office was bustling when Angel stopped the car just outside. That made sense of course, all the last minute shoppers now shipping their gifts in hopes that the would arrive in time for Christmas. Angel checked his pockets again. In one pocket he had Buffy’s claddagh ring, in the other, the ring he had purchased for Cordelia. He hoped that the Oracles would accept Cordelia’s ring in payment for what he had to ask.

He made his way to the portal and waited. After a few minutes, he was granted entry.

“Warrior. Why are you here?” The female Oracle stepped forward. They had known of course that he would be coming.

“I need to know. Is my soul bound?”

“What have you brought?” The male Oracle joined them, his gaze unwavering as he looked at Angel.

“I have this.” Angel held out his hand with the diamond ring. The female Oracle suppressed her excitement as she held out her hand. The ring drifted to her through the air. She put it on as her brother soothsayer watched.

Angel waited patiently for them to examine the object.

“Yes, your soul is bound.” Finally the male Oracle replied.

<Ahh, fuck.>

“When?” Angel felt the unwinding of the coiled tension in his body, even as his feelings of nervousness and excitement increased.

“The Romany curse was broken once you understood the key. When your soul was returned to you, it was bound.”

“But, but…” The tall vampire stammered. How could this be? How could he have not known?

“Make no mistake. Your demon still exists, it is still part of you.” The male Oracle warned.

<No shit. See me waving?>

“And it can escape with magic or supernatural influence. You must not be complacent.” The female mystic, more empathetic to their warrior of shadow, added.

<Well…hope springs eternal.>

“Now leave us. You know what you need to.”

<Yeah. Go home to the wife. Fuck like minks. Beat the living shit out of the boy. Kill stuff together – relax soul boy, I meant killing other nasty demons. Things being what they are – and what they could be, I’ll take what I can get.>

And with the Oracles last words, Angel went sailing back through the portal through which he had entered. As he dusted off his clothing from the tumble to the floor, Angel smiled. And once more checked his pocket to make sure that he hadn’t lost Buffy’s ring during the fall. It was still there. As long as he held it, he felt he had hope.

The drive to Sunnydale, despite the short distance, seemed longer than ever. Angel checked his watch several times and toyed with his cell phone every few miles, debating his next steps. Should he call her and let her know he was coming and wanted to see her? Should he wait until he had things in order – the way he wanted them?

Finally the indecision gave way to eagerness and Angel dialed Buffy’s number just a few miles outside of town.

“Hello?”

When she answered on the third ring it caught Angel by surprise. Since she usually was out patrolling by this time of night, he had been expecting the machine and had been mentally preparing a message. Now he wasn’t sure what to say.

“Hello?” Buffy queried again as she felt a curious sensation streak through her, a familiar pang.

“Buffy?” Finally finding his voice, Angel spoke.

“Angel?” The surprise in her voice was obvious. She’d just been packing to go to LA to see him, her visions, complementary of Kendra, filling her with a determined purpose to make things right with her vampire ex. Of course, if things went as planned, he would be an ex no longer.

He savored her voice, the sound of his name on her lips. It had been too long since he’d heard her say it in that breathy little way that she had. “How are you?”

“I’m good. You?” Buffy felt a shiver of excitement mixed with surprise. Was it purely coincidence that he was calling just as she was packing to go see him? Or was this fate?

“Good.” Angel stopped the car outside her house on Revello drive. He looked at her window, the light was on. He thought he could see her shadow as she moved around the room. He cut the ignition.

“Buffy-”

“Angel-”

They both spoke at once, both trying to come to grips with recently renewed hope, scarcely daring to believe that they were allowed, no – more than allowed, that they were destined to be together. Finally. After all this time. Visions of Christmases past, present and yet to come danced through both of their minds building this hope that love still existed between them.

“You first.” Buffy relented. She felt a return of her earlier tingling sensation, her Angel sense, only it stronger now.

“No, you.” The cleaning crew should have the mansion cleaned by noon tomorrow and decorated to his specifications. At the price he had agreed to pay them, they promised both speed and perfection.

Now that she could tell him all the things she wanted, Buffy felt a touch of fear. What if he rejected her? What if he no longer felt the same way about her? Could she stand it?

“Angel, where are you?” The question was a delaying tactic. She searched her mind for how to begin; his call had caught her off guard. She walked to the window and glanced outside, looking up and down the street.

He could see her now, looking out. Angel opened the car door and stepped out almost cautiously. What if he couldn’t convince her now that he loved her? What if he couldn’t convince her to trust him?

“Here. Sunnydale.”

Buffy nearly gasped in surprise when she spotted him, now standing across the street in front of her house; he was a dark figure in the dim glow of the streetlights, yet she would have recognized him anywhere.

Without a word, she hung up the phone and made her way down the stairs and out into the street. When she reached him, she stopped. They stared at each other in silence, both uncertain about what to say.

“I missed you.” Finally, Angel spoke, his deep voice breaking the quiet of the evening.

His words took her by surprise. Her heart lurched in her chest and Buffy felt a tremor of excitement, a beat of anticipation. Why was he here? She needed to know.

She cleared her throat. “What are you doing here?” She winced; that hadn’t come out as she had planned. “Oh, I mean- it’s uh, good to see you.”

Angel smiled slightly, understanding her uncertainty. He felt it himself. They had hesitated for so long…”An old friend told me something last night. Something I should have realized”

“An… old friend?” Buffy felt a shiver at the strange coincidence. Had Kendra been to see Angel too?

“I’ve made some mistakes Buffy, a lot of mistakes. But I want to try to fix those.”

Buffy pulse rate increased, beating a wild tattoo. “What mistakes?” Were they for once in accord?

“Yes, mistakes. Leaving you for one.” Angel shifted slightly, moving closer to her. “I’ve really missed you.” He brushed a stray hair back from her face as he restrained himself from gathering her in his arms.

“Me too. Missed you that is. A lot.” Buffy looked at her feet, then returned her eyes to his face. “And I had a visit from a friend as well. Last night.” Frowning, she reconsidered her words. “I mean three days from now. If that makes any sense.”

Angel studied Buffy’s small face in the moonlight, his preternatural eyesight making it easy to see her clearly. She was so beautiful, more so than he remembered if that was possible. But it wasn’t her just physical beauty that moved him. It was everything about her, her humor, her confidence, her strength, her vulnerability despite all of it and most especially her heart.

<Yeah, right.> The demon snorted, stirring. <Tell yourself it’s her *heart* when you’re running your hands over that ripe flesh just above it. What are you waiting for anyway? Shouldn’t you be between her thighs by now, soul boy?>

With a wry smile Angel continued speaking, “I’ve been making decisions with my head that I should have made with my heart.”

The words triggered something in Buffy’s memory; that day so long along with Angel had broken up with her before the prom. How he had said then that he had been trying to think with his head instead of his heart… Her eyes shot up to his face. “Really? How long have you been doing that?”

Angel lifted his hand, wanting to touch her but hesitated. The last time they really and honestly spoke to each other had been in the sewer – and in the day that wasn’t. After their breakup, she had closed him out of her heart and mind, no longer sharing her thoughts with him; she had been afraid of what other pain he might cause her. What if she would not let him return from his self imposed exile?

After a moment, he finally answered her throwing all reservations aside. “Since the moment I told you I didn’t want your life to be with me. I lied. I want to be with you so badly I ache with it. I want every moment of your life to be with me. I want every moment of my life to be with you. I want to be with you. I want you.”

Buffy closed her eyes, savoring the moment. The words she had wanted to hear from him for so long. Small fat tears trickled from her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she smiled a tremulous smile. “Can I have a drawer?”

Angel smiled, remembering her request two years ago, shortly before they had broken up. “You can have anything you want.”

Brushing away the tears from her cheeks, he stepped closer. Some magical force had brought them back together, and surrounded them even now. Their eyes locked, hazel drowning in rich chocolate brown as they searched each other’s soul for a sign that this was what they both wanted, that their hopes were not in vain. Buffy swayed toward him slightly as he leaned down, his hand cupping her face as she tilted her head back. Their lips met in a soft and tender kiss. It was a promise from her to him and from him to her…

When their kiss finally ended Buffy opened her eyes to look at him. Her hand was resting on his wrist while his hands still cradled her face. When she spoke, her words sounded like a soft sigh, “So where do we go from here?”

“I hear that this place – the Bronze – serves coffee. I thought maybe you and I could get some. Sometime. If you want.” Angel smiled as he recalled the words that he had said to her all those years ago. Those words had led to their first ‘official’ date. It was a way to begin again.

Buffy smiled, her eyes sparkling brightly in the moonlight. “How’s tonight? Does tonight work for you?”

“Tonight’s perfect. I’ll pick you up in an hour or so?” Angel worked to control his enthusiasm. He wanted to be careful and not screw this up. “I just got back into town and I’ve got a couple of things to take care. Won’t take long.”

“An hour then.” Buffy tried hard to keep from grinning. This was exactly what she had wanted. There was so much she wanted to say to him, so much she wanted to know. Determined to keep him this time, the blonde slayer was not above using her physical attributes to her advantage. Her mind was fast sorting through her clothing for the perfect outfit to knock one tall, dark and gorgeous vampire off his feet.

Angel nodded in response. Bending slightly, he kissed Buffy lightly on the lips once more before he turned and got into his car.

“Oh boy.” Buffy let out a breathy little sigh as he drove away. In the next minute she was bolting up the stairs to get ready.

<So that was romance? It wasn’t bad…Are we getting laid tonight?> Quiet for so long, the demon stirred again. And as usual, Angel ignored him.

When he left Buffy’s house, Angel sped through town, his first stop the mansion on Crawford Street. Even now, despite the relatively late hour, the place was bustling with workers. Several of them were slightly unusual, being that they were demons, but the work was of top quality.

Angel inspected their progress and then spoke with the man in charge, taking the time to give specific orders for food and personal supplies Buffy would need. He made a shopping list that included her vanilla shampoo, soap, bubble bath and perfume and then added silk sheets, comforters, towels and bath accessories.

The two men agreed on the items remaining, then Angel paid for the completed work. Afterwards, he grabbed his bag from the trunk of the car and made his way through the workers to his old bedroom.

Angel carried his bags in his room then he unpacked, showered and changed. Grabbing his duster as he walked out the Mansion, he stopped only briefly to survey their progress. He told the demons he wanted this place clean and everyone gone by the time he got back; they nodded their understanding.

Satisfied Angel left to pick up his date.

<Now. If you can refrain from saying anything stupidly noble – or just plain stupid, like we don’t deserve her, maybe we can score tonight. Of course, you do remember who’s waiting in LA if you fuck this up… Dyed blonde? Big tits? And coffee? Why are we wasting time on coffee? Can’t we just have the coffee in bed? We don’t want to have coffee, it makes us jittery, remember? We just want her. She wants us. We want her…Can’t believe you walked away…idiot.>

As usual, Angel tried to ignore the demon as he drove towards Buffy’s house. No matter how right the demon was.

Buffy stood in her lace bra and thong and studied everything in her closet. Her underwear was the only thing she could decide on after her shower. She really wasn’t sure what the proper attire was to seduce an ex. Plus she didn’t really know what he wanted. They hadn’t done a lot of talking. At any rate she had to find something to wear. She wanted to be alluring…and she wanted to turn Angel into a gibbering fool the instant he saw her.

She looked over everything in her closet, finally deciding on a two-piece peach colored jersey knit set; the long sleeve boat neck top barely reached the waistband of the fitted skirt that fell to her ankles. The set showed off a generous expanse of midriff while Kendra’s gift played peek-a-boo between the top and the waistband of the skirt. She stepped into a pair of ridiculously high 3 1/2 inch heels and posed in the full-length mirror.

Buffy loved the outfit because it was both demure and provocative: the top emphasized her slim neck, full rounded breasts and narrow waistline. The fitted skirt skimmed her hips and caressed the curves of her hips and behind.

Xander had once told her she could stop traffic in this outfit; well she wasn’t interested in stopping traffic, she was only interested in setting a cold vampire, her cold vampire, on fire.

She wondered briefly how she compared to Cordelia and then dismissed the thought; Angel was here to be with her. She wasn’t sure what he wanted, but she did know if he wanted to be with Cordelia he’d still be in LA, not here in Sunnydale taking her out for coffee. Buffy refused to let Cordelia ruin her night.

Buffy let her long hair hang loose around her shoulders and fussed nervously with her makeup. She emphasized her eyes with liner and added some peach lip-gloss to her lips. She needed no blusher as Angel’s presence in her life had brought back plenty of color to her cheeks.

The doorbell rung just as she was fluffing her hair for what she certain was the hundredth time. She checked her reflection in the mirror, took a deep breath and went to answer the door.

Buffy opened the door and they stared at each other, shocked momentarily speechless by simultaneous surges of hunger.

Angel was dressed in a black, cashmere pullover and a pair of faded denims, looking more casual than Buffy ever remembered seeing him. Her gaze flicked over him appreciatively, taking in his lean physique; he’d put on more muscle since leaving Sunnydale and it showed – especially in the depth of his chest and shoulders.

For a brief moment, she grappled with the nearly overwhelming urge to pounce on him. She was the Slayer; she had little doubt that she could take him to the floor without a problem. And once on the floor, she could rip his shirt off and explore his every muscle with her lips. No, she told herself firmly. Talking. Getting to know each other again. She was no longer a hormonally driven teenager who couldn’t control herself around her gorgeous boyfriend.

<Umm, yeah. I don’t see any panty lines. Do you see any panty lines? I don’t see any panty lines. Ohhh…she smells good. Forget the coffee. Grab her. Grab her! Floor. Couch. Errgh… Don’t make me wait any longer…>

Angel resolutely ignored his demon’s continued clamors for immediate physical gratification. He licked his lips and belatedly realized that Buffy was staring at them. He cursed himself and his lust crazed demon silently. He was the oldest here. The more experienced. He needed to get himself under control and act like it.

“These are for you,” he said handing Buffy an exquisitely cut crystal vase filled with twelve roses and baby’s breath.

Buffy took the vase and stuck her nose in the roses inhaling their delicate fragrance. “They’re beautiful, Angel. Thank You.”

She stood up on her toes and kissed him on his lips: a soft, chaste kiss. He decided to let it stand for now.

<Just a little…a feel… grab her! She wants to be touched. Now. What are you waiting for?!> The demon raged, frustrated at Angel’s continual ignoring of him.

“They can never compare to your beauty.”

“Flattery will get you admitted,” she teased. She stepped back to let him in and he walked through the door, his invitation still intact.

“That was not flattery, that was the truth.”

Buffy blushed but accepted the compliment. “Thank you. Let me put these down and we can go.”

She placed them on the living room table, knowing that she’d take them to horde in her room when she got back home.

“Where’s your Mother?” Angel asked, noticing the lack of a Christmas tree and lights.

Buffy picked up her purse off the sofa. “She’s spending Christmas with Gram and Aunt Darlene. I wasn’t in much of a festive mood and decided to stay home.”

“Have you changed your mind?” Angel asked as he helped her on with her coat.

“About what?”

“Your festive mood?”

She stared at him for several seconds before replying, her eyes searching for something; he hoped she found it.

“My mood is improving.”

It was enough for now. They headed out the door and Angel watched the sway of Buffy’s slim hips.

<Damn it! I don’t want to have coffee. I want to go back in and have sex on the floor…and on the couch…against the wall on the stair landing…and in her room…at that window.>

Angel paused; for a few seconds he gave it serious consideration.