Disclaimer: I own Hopie (and Anni, though I'm not sure if she's going to make an appearance in this ficlet).  Everyone else belongs to Joss.

Author's note: ARRRRG.  Five hours of studying film criticism and film history, and I am burnt out on film studying, at least for now.  So, for a quick break, a nice little Hopie bit before I digress into the world of hybridization bonding for Chemistry.  Aren't finals grand?  Anyway, since I don't really have time to start on Things Unseen yet, I figured I'd give y'all a little something to tide you over.  It's probably going to be four chapters eventually.  Please review if you read it, because it makes me feel happy and fluffy inside.  (Oh yeah, and phillic added to the end of a word means the opposite of phobic, in case you were wondering.  So someone who really likes spiders is arachnophillic and so on.  Just wanted to clarify and I hate inserting Author's notes in the middle of stories).

Author's Note the Second: If you haven't read Only Hope or Le Bella, just know that Hopie is Angel and Cordy's adopted daughter.

A Very Hopie Christmas (cheesy title, I know, but fluffy goodness follows)

            Hopie Chase Angel was excited.  Very excited.  It was Christmas time, and that meant…

            "Shopping," Cordelia said excitedly, smiling wickedly and rubbing her palms together.  Connor and Angel groaned.  Angel couldn't believe it.  His first day in the sun since Hopie had Shanshued him, and he was stuck at the mall, complete with Christmas traffic, a sullen teenage mini-broody boy and a hyper weaponphillic four year old with a chocolate smudge on the edge of her mouth.  Angel smiled despite himself. 

Family, he thought.  This is my family.

            Cordelia rattled off her things to do list in the no-nonsense manner of a mall drill sergeant.  "Okay, Connor and Hopie need help shopping for each other, I need to get something for Angel, we all need stuff for the rest of the gang, and Hopie really should go see Santa Claus before we leave."  Angel groaned, just thinking of the lines.  He needed to find the perfect gift for Cordy, too, and he mentally estimated the amount of anguish that would mandate.  He was an awful shopper.  There was a reason that all of his clothes were black; it helped the decision making process go a little faster.

            "Santa!" Hopie cried happily, thinking very carefully about what she would ask him for. 

            "That's right, baby," Cordy said.  "Santa Claus."

            Connor looked confused and was about to open his mouth stating his non-belief in Santa when Cordelia shot him dagger eyes.  He got the message and wisely kept his mouth closed.

            "Is my Connor going to see Santa too?" Hopie asked, tugging on her brother's sleeve. 

            "I think I'm a little old," Connor said.  Hopie wrinkled her brow.

            "But haven't you been a good boy, Connor?" she asked.  Connor smiled at her, hoping she'd let the subject drop.

            "Okay," Cordelia the shopping demon said briskly, "Let's split up.  I'll take Hopie and you take Connor, Angel.  We'll meet back here in one hour and switch up."  Having been dismissed, the troops dissimilated. 

            Cordelia and Hopie walked straight to the photography shop.  Cordy approached a man she had talked to earlier in the week.

            "Ah, Miss Chase," he said.  "Did you bring the rest of the pictures?"  Cordelia nodded and handed a small package to the man.  She had been working on Angel's gift for a very long time. 

            "And who's this little girl?" the salesman asked, shooting Hopie a toothy grin.

            "This is my daughter, Hopie," Cordelia said.  Hopie, in a moment of rare shyness ducked her head. 

            "What a little sweetheart," the man said, tousling her hair. 

            "Say hello, Hopie," Cordy instructed.

            "Hi," Hopie said, overcoming her shyness and frowning at the man's huge grin.  "You look like a Tyrontos Demon.  They have big teeth too." 

            The man shot Cordelia a confused look.

            "Television," she said by way of explanation, ushering Hopie out of the store.

            "That wasn't very nice," she told her daughter firmly.  Hopie batted innocent eyes at Cordy, and she finally broke down and laughed.  "But you're right.  He did look like a Tyrontos Demon."

            The girls left, already onto their next task.

            Things were going significantly more slowly for the boys.  Connor groaned as Angel looked through the display cases nervously.

            "What do you think of this one?" he asked, holding up a gold necklace with diamond inlays. 

            Connor glanced around the store, feeling as if a jewelry store was the last place he should be.  He was a fighter, not a… well, he just wasn't a person who should be in a jewelry store looking at tiny delicate pieces of female decoration.  Then it hit him.  Female.  Dawn.  He needed to get Dawn a gift.

            Angel noticed when Connor became more entranced in the looking process, and the two males set to the painstaking work of picking out presents for the girls in their lives.

            Connor saw a silver ring, with a small heart and a small key on it.  He smiled and pointed it out to Angel.

            "Not really Cordy's style," Angel said.  Connor stared at him.

            "For Dawn," he clarified.

            "Oh," Angel said.  "Perfect.  Now help me find something for Cordelia.  Something that says I lov-, well you know what I mean."  Connor grunted gruffly.  He knew exactly what Angel meant; they were both just too darn male to say it.

            "Connor will love it!" Hopie said decisively.  Cordelia stifled a giggle.

            "Hopie, are you sure that's what you want to get Connor?" she asked, careful not to hurt the little girl's feelings.

            "Trust me," Hopie said confidently.  "Connor really wants one."  Cordelia sighed and went to stand in line to pay for the stuffed Grover doll Hopie had picked out.  Hopie ran to the back of the store and returned with something small in her hand.

            "For Daddy," she said decisively.  Cordelia melted into giggles and put the rubber ducky on the counter next to Hopie's present for Connor.  She couldn't wait to see them open their presents from Hopie come Christmas day.

            Half an hour later, the four of them met up and Angel took over Hopie duty while Cordelia took Connor to find a gift for Hopie.  Angel groaned when he saw the line for Santa Claus.  The person who had invented mall Santa's was surely a demon.  There was just no other explanation.  Hopie stood in line.

            "I got you a present," she said in a sing song voice.  Angel felt a thrill of excitement.

            "Whaddya get me?" he asked, surprisingly childlike.

            "Not telling," Hopie replied smugly.  Angel groaned.  The child was clearly evil, torturing her poor Daddy that way.

            "What did you get Momma?" Hopie asked.

            "Not telling," Angel replied.  Hopie looked at him.

            "You haven't gotten it yet, have you?" she asked him.  He shook his head.

            "Not yet."  The line crept slowly forward.

            "Connor, you cannot seriously mean to get Hopie a flame thrower for Christmas.  She's four."  Cordelia tried to talk some sense into her son.

            "But you know how much she loves playing with Buffy's," he said.  Cordelia sighed in resignation and Connor smiled in victory.  Hopie was going to love it.

            "Do you have any child sized ones?" he asked the salesperson.

            The salesman looked at Connor incredulously.  "Child sized flame throwers?" he asked.  Connor stared at him seriously.  Finally the man shook his head.  "No," he said finally.  "We don't carry flame throwers in a children's size." 

            "Then I'll take this one," Connor replied.

            Finally, it was Hopie's turn to sit on Santa's lap.  She walked up to him without any fear, her long dark hair bouncing behind her in the ponytail Cordy had put it in that morning.        

            Angel smiled goofily at his little girl.

            "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas," Santa said.  "Have you been a good girl this year?"

            "Mostly," Hopie replied earnestly.  " 'Cept for the time I brought Crossbow to school and the time I ran after a…"

            Angel cut Hopie off.  "She's been a very good girl this year."  Hopie beamed at him.

            "What would you like this year for Christmas?" he asked her.

            Hopie leaned in and whispered something in his ear.  Santa's eyes widened.  Had he heard her right?  One of the elves took their picture, Hopie beaming directly at the camera, her eyes wide and innocent, looking as cute as was humanly possible, and Santa with the most confused expression on his face as he absentmindedly handed Hopie a candy cane.

            Hopie ran up to Angel.  "That elf," she said.  "The one with the red tights.  He feels wrong."

            Angel looked at the elf closely.  Hopie was right.  That wasn't a person dressed up as an elf.  That was a real elf, and not a happy, skippy elf at that.  They had a problem.

TBC… this one's only gonna be a couple of chapters long.  One or two more here and then a Christmas Day chapter.  Please review if you're reading, otherwise it will prob get shelved from lack of interest.