Five People Buffy Summers Didn't Spend Christmas With This Year
SUMMARY: Buffy spends Christmas remembering.
And at the top, a white-and-gold angel with a broken trumpet and a stiff cardboard gown.
Her mother's angel. She smiled lightly, remembering the arguments every year of star vs. angel. Buffy and Dawn usually won, choosing the light-up star.
If she let herself float away enough, she could smell the gingerbread cookies coming out of the oven. Hear Joyce scolding them for picking at the decorating candies, and Dawn laughing at the lopsided cookie men because they couldn't wait for them to cool and harden before decorating them.
She was sitting curled up on the couch, watching Dawn shake the boxes beneath the tree in hopes of figuring out what was in them. Joyce came and sat next to her, setting down a cup of egg nog. They sipped lightly as Dawn tried to peek in the stockings without being caught.
She smiled, felt a tear slip down her cheek, and opened her eyes to her dark, bare apartment.
We will string popcorn and cranberries and loop them around the tree and tack all our cards up on the walls. One from Giles, from Dawn, from Willow and Tara, Xander and Anya. From Andrew. Even one from Cordelia.
We'll sit together and drink coffee with sugar and cream, and watch our children tear the ribbons off their new bikes, and set up their train set. Ripping through the packages and trying to steal popcorn off the tree before breakfast.
We'll boil fresh corn on the cob and cook a ham while the children steal chocolates out of their stockings and you will forever be Buffy Anne Finn.
If Faith were here now, she would hug her and apologize for everything in their past and give her a warm coat that would survive winters in Boston, and maybe she would kiss her under the mistletoe.
Maybe she wouldn't even wait for Faith to walk under the mistletoe. Maybe they would be standing in the kitchen while Andrew passed out cups of egg nog and Willow and Tara made the decorations truly shine. Xander would be setting the tree up while Anya directed him and Dawn untangled lights. And Faith would look out the window, up at the stars, and would say something deep and wonderful, and Buffy would kiss her cheek lightly.
And when she turned to look at her, Buffy would kiss her the way she'd always wanted to.
Buffy supposed that one Christmas miracle per lifetime was more than most people got. Snow in southern California, an effort from the Powers That Be to save Angel's life. They had big plans for him, and him kissing daylight wasn't a part of that. And she had been so endlessly thankful that the Powers stepped in where she could not, that things for once had worked out for the best.
And then there was this Softshoe prophecy, or whatever it was called. Fred had told Willow, who had told Giles, who had been on the phone discussing it with Wesley when Buffy picked up the extension.
Human. Angel would become human. They could be together, have a life together. If she lived long enough to see him live, of course. She'd seen a lot of miracles in her life. Dawn's creation, her own ability to save her sister from an untimely death, Xander falling in love, the awakening of Slayers all over the world. She herself had been brought back from the dead against all odds.
So, taking all that into consideration, would it really have been out of the question for Angel to show up on her doorstep Christmas Eve, rosy from the cold, his heart beating, breath filling his lungs? They could light a fire, roast marshmellows in it, sip wine and make love among the tinsel. Eat breakfast in bed in the morning, and live happily ever after.
Well, there was always next year.
The replacement angel looked lonely by herself, so Buffy had lit candles and lined them up alongside her. She'd started with two--one for her mother, and one for Tara. Then she found herself lighting another for Anya. Then Amanda and Jonathan. For Harmony, and Jenny Calendar. She lit some for the kids who'd died at graduation, and a few more for the Slayers lost in battle. For Jesse, and even Dr. Gregory, the only teacher who had believed in her in high school. For Principal Flutie, and reluctantly enough, for Principal Snyder as well.
She found herself digging candles out from everywhere. Willow's spell stash that she kept at the apartment, decorative ones in different shapes and colors from Dawn's room. She stuck birthday candles in the pot of a plant that had long since died, and lit one for each Slayer she'd ever even heard about.
When she'd finished, she stood by the fireplace, the candles glowing brightly in the dark of the room. She said a silent prayer for all of them, all of her ghosts, before turning away. No, it wasn't the Christmas she'd fantasized about, the Christmas she wished she could have. But maybe it was better this way. Maybe every year, someone had to remember those who couldn't be there to string lights and wrap gifts. Maybe it was just her turn this year. To remember, to care.
She sighed and picked up the handset on the end table, and dialed the number that was scrawled on a scrap paper beside it. It rang once, twice, and then..
"Hey, Dawn. It's me…"