Disclaimer: I own nothing. If someone wanted to give it to me, though, that'd be great.

The Greatest Hunger

For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger

of mankind. Loring A. Schuler

I.

The whisper of snow falling all around is like thunder as they crunch through the deserted streets of predawn Sunnydale. There are wise words somewhere which warn of the darkness before the dawn, but like so much of her rationality, Buffy can't remember them when he is around.

They don't talk as they round the corner in front of the movie theater; they have never been defined by words, and in the face of a miracle, language is suddenly superfluous. Buffy swallows the words that do come to mind as she watches him, still trembling, though she knows it is not from the cold. Words have failed her, one of the few times she has dared put her trust in them.

II.

"What now?" asks Angel at last, as they come to a halt in front of the path up to his mansion. They have come nearly full circle in their walk, and Buffy wonders for a moment whether he is really still talking about their destination.

"Can we just…stay here? Right here? In this moment?" She isn't sure where the words have come from, but in this snow-whitened instant, all the complications that threaten to suffocate her have disappeared.

Angel gives her a sad little half-smile, and barely shakes his head. "In a perfect world."

"Well, it's Christmas, and a perfect world is what I want," Buffy counters, a hint of good-natured petulance creeping into her voice. "I've been good this year." She can almost hear the nonexistent crickets chirping. "Mostly. Doesn't that mean I should get what I want?"

Angel's smile widens, though the ever-present hint of darkness never leaves his eyes. "Come inside."

III.

"Will you be all right?" She is lounging in front of the fire, curled up in Angel's arms under the guise of warming up, though his body is as cold as the snow.

"The ghosts—whatever they were—are gone," he says flatly, and Buffy is keenly aware that he hasn't answered her question.

"The First probably brought this snow," he continues a moment later, and Buffy feels her entire body go cold in spite of the roaring flames. Is it too much to believe, for once, in a genuine miracle? For them the answer will always be yes, and Buffy exhales in a long sigh of frustration.

"But somehow that doesn't matter anymore," Angel says, surprising her. There is something different in his voice, something at once comforting and terrifying.

"What do you mean?" Suddenly she can't quite catch her breath.

"Whatever these—things—were here for…it doesn't matter. Because they did show me why I'm here. What I have to do. Through you." He pauses, drops his head to lay a quick kiss on the place where her neck and shoulder meet. "Merry Christmas, Buffy. Enjoy your perfect world today. Every second of it."