SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE
Summary - It's Christmas for the Scooby
and AI Gang. But they're not exactly in
the holly jolly mood. As they race against
time to save Cordelia, who's dying from
the visions, they all begin to realize that
they have to give Cordelia Christmas.
Because it might be her last...
Sleep In Heavenly Peace
They had been searching for a cure for 5 days now. The sounds in the Hyperion were anything but Christmas-y.
Before Cordelia had gotten sick, she had insisted on putting up a Christmas tree. Now, everyone glared at it when they walked by. The Fang Gang and Scoobies, were trying to be a little bit in the Christmas holiday. For Connor, and Dawn, and little Kaitlyn. But it just wasn't easy.
Willow was on her laptop everyday, her eyes sore from staring at the screen for so long. She was always writing something down on her notebook or typing something, and some days, when silence invaded the lobby, her typing was the only sound.
Wesley and Giles both had their noses buried in their books, trying, praying for some sort of miracle. When a vision hit, and Cordelia's screams echoed through the hotel, Giles would wordlessly get up and make the younger man a cup of tea.
Buffy had given up her anger after the first two days and many holes in the walls. She took her time taking care of Kaitlyn, her goddaughter and assuring Connor that his mother would be fine. She had stepped into the role of mother along with Fred. She visited her best friend, some days, but usually she was so busy with Kaitlyn there wasn't time.
Xander had been unusually silent. The first time Buffy put her fist through the wall, he got up and grabbed a rusty old toolbox from his car and patched it up. After fixing all the walls, Gunn had told him there was an entire wing of the hotel that wasn't ever in use. Sometimes, everyone could hear the bang of the hammer as he worked.
Those sounds were mirrored by the banging of pots and pans as Anya cooked and cleaned in the kitchen, bringing everyone food and drinks when they needed it. Usually she was alone, but sometimes she had Jenny on her hip, the feel of her baby daughter bringing her a little comfort. Her eyes always strayed to the stairs when she was in the lobby. No one knew why.
Tara sat by Cordelia's bedside all the time, helping her when she had a vision and holding her hand, when she whimpered in her sleep. Tara kept Dawn and Kaitlyn out of the room, and comforted Connor when the teenager visited his mother.
Spike sparred with Angel, and the two vampires shared many looks of understanding. Spike knew what Angel was going through. He had gone through the same thing when Buffy died. He comforted Dawn and helped Buffy with the kids. But never once had he visited his friend. It was too painful.
Dawn tried to stay optimistic, playing with Kaitlyn and comforting her boyfriend. Sometimes she longed to visit the woman that had been like her mother, but Tara never let her. One day, when Tara had been catching up on some sleep, Connor had snuck her up. She never went back after that.
Connor wordlessly stepped in for Spike when Dawn began crying, and the vampire comforted her. He would spar with his father, not once minding the punches that were being thrown his way. But when the puches stopped coming, the two men, father and son, shared a look, that was soon followed by their first hug. Connor visited his mother often, holding her hand as she spoke comforting words. But somehow, they weren't that comforting.
Gunn tried to keep Fred from hurting herself as she ran around trying to be the mother, trying to take over Cordy's part. When he wasn't doing that he was out, hours on end, talking to his contacts and coming back looking like he had been in several fights, resulting in several dead vampires and demons.
Faith took her emotions out on the punching bag. Of course, by the third day, there wasn't much left of the puching bag. She joined Gunn on his patrols after that and when he got hurt, patched him up. She hadn't visited her friend either.
Fred watched over Anya, making sure she didn't burn the hotel down. She made sure Xander didn't cause the hotel to collapse, made sure Wes, Giles and Willow ate. Made sure Kaitlyn went to preschool and never saw her mother in her weakened state. Made sure Connor was taken care of. Made sure Angel drank his blood and Spike didn't drink too much. But she wasn't Cordy. She couldn't be the mother.
Lorne comsumed a spectacular amount of seabreezes, but always stayed sober enough to make sure Cordelia didn't die in her sleep. He studied her aura all the time, hoping that by some miracle, she would get better. When she had a vision, he read her, checking how long she had left.
Angel was the worst. He slept next to Cordy every night. He tried to take care of his children, hugging Kaitlyn every day when she went to preschool and tucking her in at night, assuring her Cordy would get better and come back to them. He never left the hotel, only drinking his blood when Fred or Buffy made him. He fought Spike when he needed to let out his frustration, and for the first time in a long time, he comforted his son. But it still wasn't enough. His wife was still dying. And he couldn't do anything about it.
Cordelia laid in bed, pain filling her head. She spoke comforting words to every one who visited her, assuring them that once she was gone, life would go on. She made sure Fred knew how to make Wesley's tea and Gunn's coffee and Angel's blood and Lorne's seabreeze. She made sure Connor knew no sex witout safe sex. She made sure Angel knew to take the ring off her finger when she died and give it to Connor. She made sure Kaitlyn and Connor knew they were miracles. She made sure Connor and Dawn didn't blast their music too loud. She made sure Gunn knew how to get Fred to stop writing on the walls, and made sure Faith knew the she forgave her. But most off alll she made sure everyone knew she loved them all. She didn't want to die, of course. But sometimes, you don't have a choice.
Kaitlyn Angel was only 3 years old. She needed her Mommy. She did. Kaitlyn knew what was happening. Her mother was dying. Just like Grandma Joyce had. She hadn't met Grandma Joyce, but Buffy and Dawn told her about her. When she got home from daycare, she lay underneath the tree her eyes screwed shut, mentally telling the PTB, Uncle Doyle, Grandma Joyce, Santa, anyone who would listen, that all she wanted for Chrismas was her Mommy.
Christmas was coming soon for this family, but they were to busy wrapped in their own pain to care.
The doors of the Hyperion crashed open and Connor and Dawn entered, Kaitlyn bouncing in front of them.
''It's getting cold out there.'' Connor said. ''Think it's going to snow?''
''It never snows in California.'' Buffy mumbled, taking off Kaitlyn's jacket.
''It did once.'' Dawn said gently, touching her sisters shoulder.
''Thanks Buff-Buff.'' Kaitlyn smiled, after Buffy took off her jacket and mittens and boots.
Buffy smiled weakly as Kaitlyn skipped over to the Christmas tree and lied beneath it, closing her eyes.
Kaitlyn loved that tree.
''I hate that tree.'' Angel scowled as Anya placed a mug of blood in front of him. ''I'm not hungry.''
''I don't care.'' Fred retorted, not even turning to her friend.
''I want that tree out of my house.''
''You can't take the tree down, Angel.'' Faith sighed. ''Katie loves it.''
''I don't care, it's too cheery. We are not cheery. The house shouldn't be cheery either. Katie shouldn't either. Her mother is dying and all she cares about is a damn Christmas tree.''
The sound of a knife slamming down on the counter made everyone jump. ''Damn it, Angel, don't you dare talk about your daughter like that. She is four years old, okay? She deserves a Christmas tree.'' Fred snapped. ''Now drink your blood.''
A tense silence filled the kitchen until a loud bang sounded from somewhere deep in the hotel.
''Where is he today?'' Faith asked.
''He mentioned something about the ballroom last night.'' Anya murmered as she tried to feed Jenny.
''I won't take the tree down.'' Angel said quietly.
Fred turned. ''Good.''
Suddenly a familiar piercing scream rang through the hotel, followed by Tara's yell of, ''Vision!''
Angel and Faith ran from the kitchen, as Anya put Jenny in her playpen and she and Fred started on making hot chocolate, coffee, and tea.
Kaitlyn's eyes snapped open when she heard her mother, and she started for the stairs, but Dawn and Buffy pulled her back.
''Hey, Katie, how about we sing some Christmas carols.'' Dawn suggested as Angel, Gunn, Connor, and Lorne ran up the stairs.
The banging continued from deep inside the hotel, getting louder. Spike and Faith opened the weapon's cabinet, Wesley buried his face so deep in his book no one could see him, Giles sighed and stood up, moving to get his friend a cup of tea, Willow's typing got louder, and Anya and Fred emerged from the kitchen, their arms laden with hot drinks.
Kaitlyn nodded, slowly. ''Okay.''
Buffy and Dawn looked at each other and grabbed onto the girl's hands. ''Okay, baby, sing it with us,
All is calm,''
Buffy and Dawn's voices started weak, but became stronger and slowly, Kaitlyn joined in,
''All is bright,
Round yon virgin,
Mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace''
Cordelia's screams died down, and the girls finished their song,
''Sleep in heavenly peace.''
Kaitlyn whimpered and Buffy and Dawn wrapped their arms around the small girl. Minutes later, Angel, Connor and Gunn ran down the stairs, grabbing weapons from Faith and Spike.
''What have we got?'' Faith asked.
Angel looked over his sword. ''Nester demons, downtown.''
''Cordy said 10, maybe more.'' Gunn said.
''Nasty little buggers.'' Spike shook his head, already staring for the door.
''We should hurry. As soon as we take out the demons, the pain will lessen.'' Connor said.
Dawn released Kaitlyn and stood up, moving over to Connor and giving him a quick kiss. ''Be careful.''
Kaitlyn tore herself away from Buffy and ran over to Angel. ''Daddy, I don't wan't you to go, you hafta say and take care of Mommy.''
''Katie, I have to go. If I go, then I'll be helping Mommy by killing the bad demons.''
Katlyn sniffled and wiped her nose. ''Okay.''
Angel kissed her forehead and left, with the others.
Faith knelt down in front of Kaitlyn. ''Don't worry, squirt, your Mom's going to be fine.'' She whispered. ''She's got you.''
Kaitlyn smiled. ''Thanks Auntie Faithy.''
Faith ruffled the little girl's hair and was out the door next.
Connor gave his sister a half smile and left.
Spike grinned. ''Don't worry, half bit, the Big Bad'll take care of the demons.'' He puffed out his chest comically.
Kaitlyn giggled and then he was gone.
''Hey, Katie, we have your favourite here.'' Anya called. ''Hot chocolate with candy canes.''
In a true three year old fashion, Kaitlyn squealed and grabbed her mug. That's when Lorne came down the stairs, wiping his eyes.
''Uh, hey, Katie, why don't we got get some marshmellows?'' Dawn suggested, when she spotted the green demon.
The small girl ran into the kitchen. Dawn took one last look at her friends and followed her.
''Lorne - '' it was Wesley who spoke.
''It's bad, kiddies.''
Fred shakily put down her mug. ''How long, Lorne?''
Lorne took a glance at his friends. ''Three weeks.''
Willow's hands halted on her computer and the book Wesley was holding fell to the ground.
Buffy approached Dawn and Kaitlyn, who were laughing as they made snowmen out of marshmellows.
''Hi, Buff-Buff, see my marshmellow snowman, his name is Bob and he has a candy cane for a nose, and licorice for his scarf, he's the most stylin' snowman ever!''
Buffy smiled. ''He certainly is.''
Dawn's smile faded when she saw the look on her sister's face. ''Buffy, what is it?''
Buffy sat down at the table. ''There's something you guys need to know.''
Kaitlyn frowned. ''Is it about Mommy?''
Buffy nodded, afraid if she spoke, she would start crying.
Dawn gasped. ''She's not...?''
''No, no. She's still here.'' Buffy assured her. ''But it's not looking good.'' She took a deep breath. ''Lorne doesn't think she had much time left. Three weeks, a month at the most.''
Dawn felt tears well in her eyes. ''Oh my, God. Does Connor know?''
Buffy shook his head.
''I'll tell him.'' Dawn said immediatly. ''I-I should be the one to tell him.''
Buffy nodded and turned to Kaitlyn, who was silent, with an odd exspression on her face.
''Mommy's going to...die?''
Dawn and Buffy looked at each other. ''Yeah, honey, she is.''
Kaitlyn looked down at her snowman. Somehow, during Buffy's explanation, someone had knocked over Kaitlyn's hot chocolate, and now, her snowman was melted.
Anya approached the ballroom, where her husband was either fixing up the room, or tearing it down. As she reached out for the doorknob, she found herself wishing Jenny was with her. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
''Xander?!'' She called over the banging. ''Xander, where are you?''
Someone tapped on her shoulder and she jumped, with a scream.
''Whoa, Ahn, it's just me.'' Xander took off his protective goggles and hardhat.
''Jeez'' Anya put her hand over her heart, ''you nearly scared me to death. Don't do that!'' She hit him in the shoulder.
''Sorry.'' He put his hands up in surrendar. A piece of the ceiling fell down, and she jumped again.
''Holy crap, what are you doing to this place?''
''Well, I was going to fix it up, but it was beyond repair, with the mold and all, so I'm tearing it down. Tomorrow, I'll be doing the huge dining room. That place is in pretty good shape and I'm going to fix it up. I figure we could throw parties there.''
Anya raised an eyebrow. ''Okay, well, anyways, I actually came down here to this death trap for a reason.'' Her face became serious.
''Cordelia?'' There was no trace of the humor that was usually in his voice.
She nodded. ''Lorne read her.''
''And, it's not good. Lorne, he, uh, he says she doesn't have much time left.'' She looked down.
Xander sucked in a breath. ''How much time?''
''Lorne says she'll last until after the holidays.''
''Well, we'll find a cure. We have Willow, Wes and Giles, we'll find a cure.''
She sighed. ''We better.''
Angel and the rest of the gang who had gone out on patrol stumbled through the doors, shivering.
''Damn, it's cold out there.'' Gunn shivered.
''You're lucky the cold doesn't bother you.'' Faith said, glaring at Spike and Angel.
That's when they noticed the rest of the gang and their faces went serious.
''What happened?'' Connor asked immediatly.
''Connor, I need to talk to you.'' Dawn said gently, grabbing his hand and dragging him into the office.
''Guys? What's going on?'' Faith asked.
Angel knew. ''It's Cordelia.''
''What about her?'' Spike asked. ''She's not dead, I can hear her heartbeat.''
Giles took off his glasses, cleaning them.
''I'm going to go check on Tara.'' Willow jogged up the stairs.
''I have to make dinner.'' Fred mumbled, turning and rushing out of the room.
''Can someone tell me what the hell is going on?!'' Faith yelled.
''I read her, sugarbug.'' Lorne said softly.
Faith sat down on the round couch, heavily.
''She doesn't have...much...she's...'' Wesley trailed off, taking off his fogged glasses.
''She doesn't have much time left.'' Giles spoke up, his voice trembling. ''Until after the holidays, maybe.''
There was a flash of movement and the next thing they knew, Angel was disappearing up the stairs.
Willow knocked on the door gently. Tara appeared.
''Hey.'' Her eyes were red rimmed and dried tears marked her face.
Willow's lip trembled. ''Lorne told you?''
Willow flew into her girlfriend's arms. ''I tried so hard to find a cure.'' Willow sobbed.
Tara rubbed her back. ''Sshh, I know you, did. She knows you did.''
''I just...I wanted to save her.''
''I know, baby.''
Willow sniffled. ''How is she?''
''Sleeping, finally.'' Tara looked at the sleeping seer. ''How did everyone take it?''
''Dawn's telling Connor right now, and Anya's telling Xander, and they were about to tell Angel, Faith, Spike and Gunn when I left.''
''She's with Buffy and Jenny. She didn't take it well.''
''She's been asking Doyle, Joyce, the PTB, Santa, anyone who will listen, she's been asking them for her Mommy back.''
''I know. I don't think anyone else knows.''
Willow smiled, slightly. ''Sounds about right.''
Tara frowned. ''How do you think Angel will take it?''
Just then, Angel ran past them, into the room, shutting the door behind him.
Connor sat down heavily on the couch. ''So this is really happening? She's really going to die?''
Dawn sighed, sniffling and nodding. ''I-I think so.'' She sat down next to him, resting her head on his shoulder and threading her hand through his.
''It's not fair.'' Connor said suddenly.
Dawn looked up. ''What?''
''It's not fair. I lost my birth mother, Darla and now, Mom...It's not right. And what about Katie?''
Dawn looked at Connor. ''It doesn't seem fair.''
''She's only 24. She has her whole life ahead of her.''
''Yeah, she does.''
Sighing, Connor stood up. ''I should go check on Katie.''
''Okay, I'll go with you.'' Dawn moved to stand up.
''No.'' Connor shook his head. ''No. This is something I need to do.'' He gave her a peck on the lips and left.
Dawn remained on the couch. Her eyes filled with tears. She wasn't stupid. Ever since Cordelia got sick, he had been slipping away from her. She just wondered how long they had left.
''Angel?'' Her weak voice jolted him out of his thoughts. ''What are you doing here? Did you kill the Nester demons?''
Angel nodded. ''Yeah.''
''Good.'' She sat up in bed. ''Did Lorne tell you guys what he read from me?''
Angel nodded, sitting next to her and grabbing her hand. ''But we're going to fix this. We're going to find a cure, Cordy, I promise.''
Cordelia smiled weakly. ''You really think so?''
''We have to.''
''Angel, you know as well as I do that I'm not going to make it this time.''
''Don't say that!''
She rolled her eyes. ''You should stop spending all your time with me and start spending more time with our kids. They need you, you know.''
''They need you.''
''Oh, are we going to start this again?''
''Cordy, there's just...'' Angel looked down at their entwined hands. ''There's just so much we never got to do.''
''Like what? We had kids. We got married. We saved the world, many times I might add. And hey, we made Sunnydale a giant crater. I think we did pretty good.''
''We never got to walk in the sunlight. You were supposed to be with me when I got my shanshu.''
Cordelia folded her arms. ''You know, I never realized how much you complain about life.''
Angel raised an eyebrow. ''Uh, thanks, that was...touching.''
''Angel, if I'm going to die - ''
''You're not going to die.''
''If I'm going to die, then I don't want to spend what time I have left cooped up in a bed.''
''Cordy, you'll wear yourself out.''
''I don't care. And another thing, I want Christmas.''
''Cordy - ''
''Angel, this is going to be my last Christmas. I know it. And I want it to be big. No demons, just Christmas. Can you do that?''
Angel sighed. ''Alright.''
Cordelia smiled brightly. ''I always win.''
Angel entered the lobby, to see his friends and family sitting around, looking like their world caved in.
Everyone looked at him.
''How are you?'' Buffy asked gently.
''I want you all to go to bed.'' Angel ordered.
''What?'' Willow started to protest. ''But-But I have work to do.''
''That's too bad. Some of you have barely gotten any sleep for 5 days. Go to bed and we'll start again in the morning.''
''But Angel - '' Wesley started.
''Do it, or you're all fired.''
Grumbles filled the lobby, but they all slowly headed for the stairs.
''Wait.'' Angel put his hand on Connor's shoulder. ''Not you.''
Connor rolled his eyes. ''Oh, of course not me.'' He flopped dramatically onto the couch.
''Me too, Daddy!'' Kaitlyn cried, jumping up and down.
Angel raised an eyebrow. ''Nice try, Katie, but you're going to bed.''
Kaitlyn sighed. ''Fine.'' She grabbed Buffy's hand. ''Come on Buff-Buff, you hafta read me stories now.''
After everyone was gone, Angel turned to his son.
''So, are you ever going to tell me what's going on?'' Connor asked.
''Your mother wants Christmas. Complete with gifts and decorations and everything.''
Connor's mouth dropped open. ''But...But...But Christmas is only two weeks away, how is everyone supposed to get gifts in time?''
''I don't know. All I know is we have work to do.''
''I want to help!'' A voice said making Connor and Angel jump.
''Dawn! You were evesdropping?'' Angel asked.
''Of course I was.''
Connor smirked. ''That's my girl.''
''So, where are your Christmas decorations?''
The Scoobies and Fang Gang awoke the next morning, feeling more refreshed then they had in 5 days.
Buffy exited her room, jumping when she saw Xander, Anya, Willow, Fred, Gunn and Faith standing at the balcony, staring down.
''What's going on?''
''Angel's gone crazy.'' Anya whispered loudly.
''Sshh.'' Fred scolded. ''We don't know that.''
''He has a santa hat on his head and he's talking to an imaginary person.''
Buffy peeked over the edge. Sure enough, there was Angel, a blue shiny santa cap on his head, talking to someone they couldn't see.
''Well, maybe with the stress of everything going on with Cordy he - ''
''Snapped?'' Gunn supplied.
''Just a little.''
''May-maybe he's just, uh...'' Willow trailed off.
''Morning, sugar dumplings, what are we looking at?'' Lorne yawned, coming up to them, Wesley and Giles behind him.
''Angel's cracked.'' Xander said.
Lorne frowned, peering over the edge.
''Oh, dear.'' Giles frowned. ''I was afraid this might happen.''
Buffy's door opened. ''Hey, Slayer, have you seen my...oh, hello.'' Spike gave them a smirk.
Everyone's jaws dropped. ''Oh. My. God.'' Willow deadpanned.
Faith smirked, throwing her arm around her fellow slayer's shoulders. ''Two for two, huh, B?''
Buffy groaned, burying her head in her hands.
Xander gaped at Spike, and then Buffy and Spike again. ''You?'' He pointed at Buffy. ''And you? I'll kill you!'' Xander dove for Spike.
Spike let out a yelp and hid behind Buffy.
''Xander.'' Buffy warned. ''I would appreciate it if you didn't kill my boyfriend.''
''Boyfriend?'' Wesley squeaked.
Before anyone else could say anything Tara flew out of Cordelia's room. ''Cordy's not in her room.''
The gang looked at each other before darting down the stairs.
''Honey, I'm begging you, take off the hat.''
''You said you wanted Christmas, what would Christmas be without Santa Claus.''
''Angel, it's blue...and shiny. It's gay.''
''Oh, drink your hot chocolate.''
''Love you too.''
Angel rolled his eyes, turning to a sleeping Dawn and Connor. ''Maybe I should have made them go to bed last night.''
''Aww, but then I wouldn't have gotten to see the fight between you and Connor about where to put the misletoe.''
Angel scowled at her. ''That wasn't funny.''
''I thought it was.''
Angel and Cordelia looked at the stairs. The whole gang stood there, mouths open as they stared at the now very festive lobby. Angel hastily pulled the hat off his head.
''Oh, now you take it off.'' Cordelia scoffed. ''Help me up.'' Angel pulled her up and she smiled, turning to her friends. ''Hey, guys.''
''Wha..Wha..I...You...Cordy what are you doing out of bed?'' Wesley sputtered.
Cordelia smiled brightly. ''Enjoying the Christmas season.''
''But...you're so active. Last time I saw you, you could barely stand.'' Buffy said.
Cordelia looked at Angel. ''Do you want to tell them or should I?''
''We found a healing spell. It's not permanent and it can only be used once.''
Willow nodded. ''Yeah, but I was saving that for when...when you were...close to...death.''
''Guys, this is most likely going to be my last Christmas and I want to spend it happy, not bedridden.'' Cordelia said gently.
Suddenly a loud yelp sounded from the stairs. ''Mommy!''
Kaitlyn ran down the stairs jumping into her mother's arms. ''Mommy, I missed you.''
''Hey, baby, I missed you too.''
''Are you all better now?''
''Afraid not, honey.''
''So you're still going to...die?''
Cordelia sighed. ''Yes, I'm still going to die.''
''But..But...'' Kaitlyn burst into sobs, burying her face in her mother's neck. ''You can't die. Who will look after me, and Connor?''
''Honey,'' Cordelia placed the small girl on the couch and sat down next to her, while the gang headed back upstairs to get dressed.
''Your Daddy is going to look after you, and Connor.''
''But I don't want you to die.''
''I don't want to die either, baby, but it's my time, okay?''
''We're going to make this the best Christmas ever, honey, so you'll have lots of memories of me.''
Kaitlyn wiped away her tears. ''Okay.'' She whispered.
Cordelia smiled. ''Great. Now, what do you think we should do next?''
Kaitlyn smiled slowly. ''Gingerbread houses.''
Cordelia laughed. ''Deal.''
''Oh. My. God.''
''This must be hell.''
''Somebody shoot me now.''
''This is worse than the hell dimension I grew up in.''
''Oh, bloody hell, suck it up.'' Giles groaned, putting his glasses back on.
''This is madness.'' Buffy ducked a flying soda cup as they looked around the mall.
Buffy, Giles, Connor, Dawn, Xander and Wesley were standing in the mall entrance looking in horror at the mall.
''Alright, we should split up.'' Giles stated.
''What?! Split up?!'' Xander cried. ''That's a very bad idea. Bad, bad, very, very bad.''
Giles rolled his eyes. ''Dawn, Connor, you two stick together, I'll go with Wesley, and Xander...stay with Buffy. We'll meet back here in three hours.''
''Stay with Buffy? Oh, thank god.''
''You are such a wimp.'' Buffy laughed.
''I can't believe we got stuck with this job.'' Willow grumbled, pushing the cart down the supermarket aisle.
''Hey, it's better than the mall.'' Tara said.
''I don't understand, why were those two women fighting over that ham?'' Anya asked.
''It's hickory honey.'' Willow and Tara said in unision.
''Oh, okay, that clears it up.'' Anya rolled her eyes. Jenny giggled, reaching her tiny fist out to grab her mother's coat.
''Where's the list?'' Tara asked.
Willow stopped, fishing it out of her purse. ''Oh my, God, Cordy has half the store on this list.''
''Let me see.'' Anya snatched it out of Willow's hands.
''Well, then, we better get started. What's first.''
''Where's the meat section.''
''That way.'' Anya and Willow both pointed in opposite directions.
''Why did I let her talk me into coming here with you?''
''Hey, Pal, you're just lucky there's a sewer entrance and a manager that doesn't ask questions.''
Spike rolled his eyes. ''How much booze is actually on that list?''
''A hell of a lot for someone who's supposedly dying.'' Lorne snorted.
''Don't know, if I were dying, I'd wanna go out smashed.''
''Touching.'' Lorne peeked over the edge of his sunglasses, and looked behins Spike. ''Grab a six pack of those, will you?''
Spike picked up the item in question, but his face contorted in horror when he saw what he was holding. ''Wine coolders?!''
''Okay, so what's the difference?'' Faith questioned, looking around at the Christmas trees.
''Yeah, and don't we already have a Christmas Tree?'' Gunn added.
Fred sighed. ''Don't you guys know anything?''
Faith and Gunn looked at each other.
Fred pointed to a tree. ''That's a Douglas Fir.'' She pointed to another tree. ''And that's an Evergreen. And Cordy wants a tree in every room of the house.''
''What's the point of that? We don't have enought ornaments or lights.''
''Buffy promised to buy some at the mall.'' Fred smiled.
''Ugh, fine, how many trees are we getting?'' Gunn put his hands in his pockets. It was freezing. Unusual weather for LA.
''Uh,'' Fred pulled out a piece of paper from her pocket. ''9.''
''Jesus!'' Faith yelped, getting the attention of other customers.
''What?! That's what her note says!''
''Yeah, but 9 trees?'' Gunn asked, already imaging how much work that would be.
Fred shrugged. ''It's what Cordy wants.''
Faith and Gunn looked at each other again. ''And what Cordy wants, Cordy get's.'' Faith sighed.
Cordelia stared at the tree, one hand on her chin thoughtfully, the other on her hip. Kaitlyn stood behind her, trying to mirror her mother's actions.
''Something's missing.'' Cordelia said finally.
Angel sighed. ''Cordy, we put your tiara ornament on.''
Cordelia laughed. ''No, I know, something else.'' She turned looking back at the tree.
''I think it's pretty.'' Kaitlyn sid happily.
''Angel!'' Cordelia yelped.
''What?'' Angel jumped. ''I'm right here, you don't have to yell.''
''No, idiot, an angel. We need to put an angel on the tree.''
''You want to put Daddy on the tree?!''
Connor and Dawn stood, unmoving, staring at the toy store they were standing in.
''Tell me, again, why you thought it would be better if we came here first?'' Connor turned to his girlfriend.
Dawn shrugged. ''It seemed like a good idea at the time.''
A stuffed animal came flying at them and with quick reflexes, Connor caught it.
''Does it still seem like a good idea?''
Dawn sighed. ''We have to get Katie and Jenny presents anyways. What are you getting Katie?''
Connor shrugged. ''I don't know.''
Dawn turned to him. ''You don't know! Well, think, man, think!''
''You're scaring me a little.''
''Sorry. I panic when I'm in a mall filled with crazy holiday shoppers.'' An old woman glared at Dawn. ''What? You got a problem?''
''I think you're more like Buffy then you think.''
''That was mean. Well, how about we just buy two presents. One for Jenny and one for Katie.'' Dawn suggested as they moved through the store.
''You mean like a joint Christmas present, are you sure we're ready for that?''
Dawn rolled her eyes. ''It's not marriage Connor.''
''Yeah, but - ''
''Do you want to get out of here?''
''Joint Christmas present it is.''
Dawn smiled, happily. Even thought she was in a crowded toy store that smelled like dirty diapers, she couldn't have been happier. The last time she was this happy was before Cordelia got sick.
Dawn jumped. ''Please tell me you didn't just shout out barbie.''
''Katie loves barbies.'' Connor clarified.
''Oh, well, I saw this beautiful holiday barbie over there.''
Connor rasied an eyebrow.
''What?'' Dawn snapped defensivly. ''I am a girl you know. I did used to play with barbies.'' They reached the barbies and Dawn reached for the last barbie just as another woman did.
Connor grimaced. This was going to be bad.
''Xander.'' Buffy sighed and pulled him out of the way of two fighting women.
''Am I alive?'' Xander opened his eyes.
''Please tell me you weren't afraid of two old women fighting over a shopping cart.''
''Hey! Those old lady purses are heavy.''
''I'm serious, it was frightening. I think my life flashed before my eyes.''
Buffy laughed. ''Same old Xander.''
''I heard that!'' After a minute Xander spoke up. ''Soooo, what do you think I should get Anya?''
Buffy smirked. ''You're asking me?''
''Well, you're a girl, and she's a girl, so I just figured you were kind of on the same wave length.''
Buffy frowned. ''You know that sounded sexist right?''
''Oh, come on, help me out here, Buffy, you already have your present for your signifigant other, which by the way I'm still getting used to. So help me with mine.''
Buffy sighed. ''Last week when we came here to get Katie a winter jacket she was eyeing a diamond necklace.''
Xander enveloped her in a big bear hug. ''Thank you, you're the best.''
''And don't you forget it, Harris.''
''Good, God, man, get a hold of yourself.'' Giles snapped, reaching out and pulling Wesley out from the path of an on coming shopper.
''Sorry, I was thinking about what to get Fred.''
''Ah, yes, lovely girl. Have you told her you're madly in love with her yet?''
''I beg your pardon?''
''I'm not stupid you know.''
Wesley sighed. ''Is it that obvious?''
''Apparently not to Fred.''
''How do I tell her?''
''You're asking the wrong man.''
''Maybe I could tell her with a Christmas present.'' Wesley said, thoughtfully.
Giles glanced over at him. ''Yes, or, you could kiss her under the mistletoe.''
Wesley frowned. ''Are you mocking me?''
''It's possible. Besides, if you kissed her under the mistletoe, I'm sure Cordelia would love it.''
Wesley rubbed his forehead. ''Bugger. I haven't got a clue what to get her.''
Giles stopped. Wesley frowned. ''What?''
Giles pointed to a store window. ''I find when in doubt, get them jewllery, it always worked.''
''And you know that how?''
''I have had relashonships you know.''
''Well, that's a scary thought.''
''Oh, ha, ha, very funny.''
''A little help here?!'' Willow screeched, as she tried to work her way through the crowd, carrying a turkey that was bigger than her head. She slipped in a puddle of unidentified liquid, falling on the floor, the turkey landing on top of her. ''Oof!''
''Oh! That looked painful.'' Anya winced, as Tara rushed forwards, trying to help her girlfriend up. She ended up falling too.
''Ouch! You're laying on my turkey!''
''Is that some kind of slang for something dirty?''
''No! Geez, get your mind out of the gutter MaClay.'' Willow sat up, holding up the turkey. ''I meant the actual turkey.''
Tara blushed. ''Oh.'' She grabbed Willow's hand. ''Anya, can you help us here?''
Anya glanced at Jenny, who was happily chewing on her stuffed bear. ''Oh, alright.''
Willow and Tara got to their feet, with Anya's help, keeping a firm hold on the turkey.
''I just wish I had my camera.'' Anya laughed.
Tara's eyes widened looking over Anya's shoulder. ''Um - ''
''I mean, Cordy would have gotten a kick out of that.''
Willow pointed behind Anya. ''Anya - ''
''That would have been a good present too.''
''Anya - ''
''Then I wouldn't have to spend my money that I work hard for.''
''Anya!'' The two girls shouted.
Anya turned, her mouth dropping open. The shopping cart that held Jenny was rolling down the aisle.
The three women looked at each other before darting after the runaway cart.
''Ugh, I can't believe he made us do this. I mean, look at me, I'm a tiny little woman.''
''You're a slayer, and I'm smaller than you.''
Faith rolled her eyes, as she lugged a tree into the back of the pickup. ''My point it, he makes a big deal about how he's the big strong man and then he goes and makes the women do all the work.'' She scoffed. ''Men.''
''Will you quit your bitching and help me with this stupid tree.''
Faith raised and eyebrow, but grabbed the tree, lifting it into the back. ''How many more trees do we have?''
''Two more to get in the truck, and Charles is getting the last two trees.'' Fred said, as she pulled another tree over to Faith.
Faith and Fred got the tree in the truck and grabbed the last one. Unfortunatly the back of the truck was too filled with the other trees and wouldn't fit.
''What's the problem?''
''It won't fit.''
Faith rolled her eyes. ''Of course it'll fit, you just have to push it.''
Fred shrugged and the two pushed the tree...right through the back window.
Fred gasped. ''Oh my, God.''
Fred glared at Faith. ''Oops?! That's all you have to say?!''
Fred narrowed her eyes and growled.
Faith tried to cover a smile. ''You should work on you growling.''
''Faith! Charles sold his soul for this truck! Literally!''
''What's going on here?''
Faith and Fred jumped in front of the truck, hiding the damage from Gunn.
Gunn frowned, but shook his head. ''Anyways, they only had two more trees on the lot and one of them is this one.'' He held out a small Christmas tree that barely went up to Fred's chest.
''That's a pretty sorry looking tree.'' Faith laughed.
''We bought out the lot, it's the only one left.''
''Charles, don't tell me you bought that tree.'' Fred giggled.
''It was the only one left!'' That's when he noticed the top of the tree sticking out of the window. ''Oh my, God!''
The girs followed his gaze. ''It was an accident!'' They yelped at the same time.
''I am not paying for these.''
''Princess likes them.''
''I don't care. They're wine coolers.''
''Oh, get a grip.''
''No wine coolers!''
The two were currently glaring at each other, identical glares on their faces.
''You know what, Pal, I am this close to shoving a sharp piece of wood in your, unbeating piece of dried up beef jerky heart!''
''Oh yeah? Well I'm this close to breaking these wine coolers and shoving a piece of glass in your chest!''
''My heart isn't in my chest, so there! It's in my behind.''
Spike blinked. ''I don't know how to respond to that.''
Lorne smirked, putting the wine coolers in the basket. ''I took arguing lessons from Cordy.''
Spike blinked again. ''It's times like these, I wish Buffy was here.''
Lorne grinned. ''Well, Lovemuffin, she's not.''
''I was actually aware of that, thanks.''
''You know, Sugarcakes, you and Blondie are horrible at keeping secrets.''
''You lost me.''
Lorne sighed dramatically. ''I knew about your torrid little affair with the slayer. The blonde one that is.''
Spike's mouth dropped open. ''You-you did?''
''I sure did, Cupcake.''
''Alright, that's it, stop calling me pastries!''
''Ooo, someone's testy.''
''Why did I let the two of you talk me into this?''
''Because you love us.''
''God help me.'' Angel muttered.
''What was that?'' Cordelia whipped around to face him.
Kaitlyn giggled, as she mixed white icing in a large bowl.
Angel looked around at the destroyed kitchen. ''You know, Anya and Fred are going to kill us when they see this place.''
Cordelia laughed, setting a bowl of assorted candies in front of Kaitlyn. ''Okay, Katie, go crazy.''
Kaitlyn's eyes widened, as she looked into the bowl. ''Wow, it's like a candy swimming pool.''
''Uh, Katie, you do know those aren't for eating, they're for your Gingerbread House.''
Kaitlyn's face fell a little, but quickly brightened. ''Can I at least eat some of them?''
Cordelia smiled. ''Okay.''
Angel groaned. ''Great, now she's going to be bouncing off the walls.''
Cordelia grinned, putting her hand on his shoulder. ''She get's that from you.''
Cordelia raised an eyebrow. ''So, how do you think the gang's doing?''
''I don't think I want to know.''
''Give it up, lady, the doll is mine!''
''I was here first.''
''Oh, you so were not!''
''Was..Connor! Help me out here!'' Dawn looked over at her boyfriend, who was leaning against a magazine rack, flipping through a tabloid.
Connor looked up. ''Are you crazy? There's no way I'm leaping into the fray like that!''
Dawn rolled her eyes. ''Some help you are.'' The woman yanked the barbie away from her. ''Hey!'' Dawn leapt at the woman, tackling her to the ground. She grabbed the barbie and stood up, brushing her jeans off. ''Well, I got it.''
Connor raised an eyebrow. ''Would it be wrong if I told you I was totally turned on by that?''
Dawn blushed, hitting him on the arm, playfully. ''Yes, perv.''
''That's her!'' A voice yelled.
The two turned, seeing the woman Dawn had taken the barbie from. ''That's the girl that assulted me.'' She told two security officers.
Dawn and Connor looked at each other before running.
''Two hundred dollars?!'' Xander yelped, staring at the diamond necklace in the case.
''It's the price you pay for true love.'' Buffy grinned. She sighed, leaning against the glass case, checking her nails. ''Can you please, hurry up, we still need to get presents for the rest of the gang.''
''Yeah, yeah.'' Xander looked at the saleswoman. ''I'll take it.''
''Wow, you really have changed. If the old Xander saw the price, he would have gotten Anya a gift from the gas station.''
''Tell me how you really feel.''
''I'm just saying.''
Xander thanked the cashier and the two exited the store.
''So, I helped you pick out a gift for Anya, what do you think I should get Angel?''
Buffy sighed. ''Besides the impossible.''
Xander shook his head. ''You are totally asking the wrong guy...I mean...me and Deadboy...we're not exactly friends. Or enemies. We're frenemies.''
Buffy nodded. ''Yes, so what do you think I should get your frenemy?''
''Oh! The Ring Of Amara!''
''You're killing me here.''
''Well, why are you getting Angel anything anyways?''
''I have to!''
''Because...Because...Because I do!''
''Oh, okay, that makes sense.'' Xander tried to keep a smirk off his face. He spotted something in the distance, squinting. ''Is that...Dawn and Connor?''
Buffy followed his line of vision, gasping. ''Oh my, God, it is. Are they-are they running from two security gaurds?''
Xander nodded slowly. ''I think they are.''
Buffy groaned, burying her head in her hand. ''Oh, God, what did they do now?''
Dawn and Connor stopped in front of them. ''Hi, Buffy.'' Dawn said breathlessly.
Her sister put her hand on her hip. ''What did you guys do now?''
''Nothing!'' The two teenagers yelped at the same time.
''Oh, puh-lease, like I believe you.''
Dawn sighed. ''Connor said he wanted to get Katie a barbie for Christmas, and I said I saw a holiday barbie, and this woman tried to steal it from me and so I tackled her and she called security and now we're running.''
Buffy closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose, as Xander laughed beside her. ''Tell me you paid for the barbie first.''
Dawn and Connor looked at each other. ''Well, not exactly - '' Connor started.
''You stole a barbie!''
''We were running! It's not like we had time to stop at the cash register!'' Dawn yelped.
''Drop the barbie.''
Dawn gasped, pulling the box to her chest. ''No! It's the 2007 Holiday Barbie. Do you know how much this thing will be worth in a few years?''
''I don't care, drop it.''
''Uh, guys - '' Xander tried.
''Drop the damn barbie.''
''Guys!'' Xander inturrputed. ''I hate to inturrupt this little love fest but, the security gaurds are catching up.''
''Running!'' Dawn and Connor ran past Buffy and Xander.
''Please tell me they aren't running for Santa's Village.''
Xander and Buffy shared a look, before running after the teenagers.
''My baby! What did you do!'' Gunn exclaimed, pushing past the two girls and over to his beloved truck.
''Oh, calm down, it's just a truck.'' Faith snapped.
''She is not just a truck!''
Fred frowned. ''It's a she?''
Gunn scowled at her.
''Look, it - she, was getting a little...um...worn out. Maybe it's best if you, you know, get a new truck.'' Fred said gently.
''She's not even cold yet!''
''Oh, God.'' Faith rolled her eyes, folding her arms across her chest. ''Can you hurry up, please, it is unnaturally cold out here!''
''There is a tree sticking out the window of my truck!''
Fred grimaced. ''There is. But I mean, you can fix it right?''
Gunn sighed. ''Let's just get the trees home before they turn brown.''
''Finally.'' Faith grabbed the small tree and threw it in the back.
''We're home, crabcakes!'' Lorne announced, walking into the hotel,
Angel and Cordelia stood up. ''Well?'' Cordelia asked brightly.
''Total freak out. He found out we were buying wine coolers and he started going on and on about how embarassing it is.''
''Ha!'' Cordelia held out her palm. ''You owe me 20 bucks.''
''Hold on a tic.'' Spike held his hands up. ''You bet I would freak out?''
''No.'' Angel said calmly. ''I bet that you wouldn't freak out. And look where that got me.''
''That's right, baby! I win! You lose! I am the best!''
''Okay, princess, getting annoying.'' Lorne moved into the hotel, carrying two bags.
Cordelia turned to Angel. ''Cough it up, pay up, pay the piper.'' She paused. ''Gimme it.''
Angel rolled his eyes, slapping a twenty into her hand.
''Mommy.'' A small voice groaned.
They looked towards the stairs. Lorne's jaw dropped and Spike coughed to cover a laugh.
''Oh, honey, you look great.'' Cordelia gushed.
Kaitlyn was wearing a green and red elf costume, complete with pointy-toed shoes and an elf hat with elf ears. She crossed her arms with a scowl.
''Do I gotta wear this?''
Cordelia nodded. ''Yes. Well, not now, you're just trying it on. But you have to wear it on Christmas eve.''
''But...But...Daddy! Do I have to wear this?''
Cordelia cossed her arms, turning to Angel. ''Yes, Angel, does she have to wear it?''
''I...I...Katie...Listen to your mother.''
Kaitlyn sighed dramatically. ''Fine. But I won't like it.''
''Someone stop that baby!''
''Hey, watch where you're going, lady!''
Anya, Willow and Tara frantically chased after Jenny, dodging people and food displays.
''Can't you, like, do some sort of spell to stop her?'' Anya asked.
''In front of all these people?'' Willow whispered.
''Guys, watch out!'' Tara yelped.
They dodged a woman holding a turkey. That's when they noticed that the cart was heading straight for a wall full of glass jars full of jam.
''Willow, do something.'' Anya screeched.
Willow looked around, before squinting her eyes. The cart turned and drove into a paper towel display. In the cart, Jenny giggled, clapping her hands.
Anya rushed over, grabbing her daughter. ''Oh, baby, thank god, Mommy, will never leave you ever again.''
''Stupid turkey.'' Willow grumbled, throwing the turkey in the cart.
''Hey.'' Tara looked down at the list. ''Do you think they have cranberry jelly in the jam aisle?''
''I can't believe you did that to my truck.''
''Well, it's not like I did it on purpose.''
''That truck is like family.''
''Oh, dear god.''
''We're home. And we come bearing trees. Lots and lots of trees.'' Fred smiled, ignoring the bickering couple behind her.
Cordelia's jaw dropped open when she saw the tiny tree. ''That's not a tree. That's a weed.''
''Wow!'' Kaitlyn cried, leaping to her feet and over to the small tree. ''I love it.''
''You do?'' A chorus of voices questioned.
''Yes, Mommy, can I have it in my room?''
''Uh, yeah, sure but, honey are you sure you don't want a bigger one?'' Cordelia asked, as Angel, Spike and Gunn left to get the rest of the trees.
''No! I want this one!''
''Okay, okay, how about we decorate it and then put it in your room?''
Kaitlyn nodded, forgetting for a moment the stupid elf costume she was in.
Spike and Gunn came in carrying a tree.
''Where's Angel?'' Cordelia asked.
''He's um...'' Spike looked behind him. He frowned. ''Why are you asking me?''
Angel came in, struggling to carry a tree. The tree was too heavy and he yelped, falling hard on his back, the tree on top of him. ''Who's helping me here?!''
Faith and Cordelia lifted the tree off him.
''You okay, honey?'' Cordelia helped him up.
''I just got beat up by a tree. I'm a vampire and I just got beat up by a tree.''
Cordelia smirked. ''That you did.''
''Well, that was embarassing.''
''More embarassing than the time - ''
''Sharing time is over!''
''Stupid turkey.'' A voice grumbled.
Willow, Tara and Anya entered the hotel, carrying bags and bags of food. They were disheveled and there were pieces of what looked like bread in their hair.
''Oh. My. God.'' Fred drawled.
''That's the last time we go grocery shopping at Christmas.''
''Oh, dear.'' Giles sighed rubbing his forehead.
''Is that Dawn and Connor?''
Giles nodded. ''It sure is.''
''And Buffy and Xander behind them?''
''Are they heading for Santa's Village?''
Giles looked up sharply. ''What?'' Sure enough, they were running straight for the mall Santa.
''Oh yes, there's no possible way this could end badly.''
They were approaching Santa's Village and there was no way this could end good.
Dawn stopped. ''Okay, I have a plan.''
Connor narrowed his eyes.''Well, I hope it's better than your last plan!''
''Okay, go on.''
''We hide in Santa's Village.''
Connor nodded. ''Are you insane?''
''Uh, yeah! Where have you been?!''
Connor looked over his shoulder. The security gaurds were gaining on them. So were Xander and Buffy. ''We hide in Santa's Village.''
With that, they started running. They ran into Santa's Village and hid behind Santa's chair. The security gaurds passed and so did Buffy and Xander.
''Are they gone?'' Dawn whispered.
Connor nodded. ''The coast is clear.''
They stepped out of Santa's Village, but at the last minute, Dawn turned and grabbed a candy cane from one of the elves. ''Thanks!''
''Okay, let's go.''
Someone cleared their throat behind them. They turned.
''Buffy, hi.'' Dawn started nervously.
''Oh, you are in so much trouble.''
Connor turned to Dawn. ''Yeah, great plan.''
They turned to see the security gaurds stalking towards them. Suddenly someone grabbed one of the giant candy canes from Santa's Village and tripped the gaurds. Giles and Wesley stepped out.
Wesley took a breath. ''We should run now.''
''I can't believe you stole a barbie!'' Buffy shrieked, once they were all a safe distance away.
''Yeah, and a barbie? Couldn't you have stolen something more cool?'' Xander asked.
''It's for Katie.'' Dawn snapped.
''I didn't have anything to do with it. She was the one who stole the barbie and assaulted that woman.'' Connor held up his hands defensivly.
Dawn's eyes narrowed. ''Thanks, for the backup, France!''
Buffy reached out and clipped them both of the back of the head.
''Okay.'' Buffy took a breath. ''We should run now.''
''I wholeheartedly agree, because, the burly security gaurds are coming.'' Wesley said.
Giles sighed as the other ran. ''The earth is most defiantly doomed.''
''Where's the eggnog? You bought eggnog right?'' Dawn stripped off her coat, entering the hotel. ''I need eggnog!''
Xander smiled. ''Ho, ho, ho-ly crap.'' His smile faded when he saw his wife. ''What happened to you?'' He picked a piece of bread out of her hair.
''We went grocery shopping.'' She sighed.
''And got into a food fight?''
''This woman threw bread at us when we grabbed the last can of whipped cream.'' Willow explained. ''I almost used magic on her.''
Dawn walked over to Spike and grabbed the bottle of whiskey from his hand.
''Hey! You're not even legal!''
''Don't care. Bad day.''
''You're back!'' Kaitlyn ran down the stairs, after changing back into her normal clothes.
Dawn gasped and threw the barbie over her shoulder. Unfortunatly she didn't see Lorne standing there and she hit him with the barbie. He went down, taking the barbie with him.
''Dawnie...'' Kaitlyn said slowly. ''You just hit Lorne in the head with a box.''
''No I didn't! He was drunk and he passed out!''
''Okay!'' Cordelia started. ''Let's get started on decorating these trees!''
That night, Kaitlyn lay in her bed, wide awake, staring at her tree. She sighed and pulled back the covers. Kaitlyn pulled the door open and started down the hall. She looked over the railing and saw her father and her Aunt Fred putting away garbage. Kaitlyn walked down the hall, stopping at her mother's door.
She knocked softly and turned the doorknob, poking her head in. ''Mommy?''
Cordelia looked up from her magazine. ''Kaitlyn?''
You're so fragile I know
Some things we cannot control
I am so selfish it shows
I just can't let go
Tell me three little lies
Everything is alright
It tears me all up inside
''Honey, what are you doing here? You should be sleeping.''
Kaitly hugged her stuffed bear to her chest as she crawled in bed with her mother. ''Mommy, I don't want you to die.''
If I talk to God
I don't know if He's listening
When I speak out loud
I don't know if He's home
I'm talking to myself
'Cause no one else is listening
Stay another day
And will it all go wrong?
If I talk to God
''Kaitlyn - ''
''You said Daddy will take care of me when you're gone.''
''He will, baby.''
''But who will take care of Daddy?''
I hate the words that I said
They lay so still in my head
I hope I never regret
If I just let go
Goodbye to time well spent
I've got nothing to defend
And is this really the end?
''Who will make his blood, and make him stop being so broody, and fix him when he's hurt and be his visiongirl?''
Cordelia sighed, pushing away tears. ''Sweetie, Daddy will be fine.''
Kaitlyn shook her head. ''No he won't.'' Tears streamed down her face. ''Daddy needs you Mommy.''
''Kaitlyn, sweetie, look at me.''
If I talk to God
I don't know if He's listening
When I speak out loud
I don't know if He's home
I'm talking to myself
'Cause no one else is listening
Stay another day
And will it all go wrong?
If I talk to God
''When I die - ''
''Kaitlyn, listen, you're right, when I die, Daddy will need someone to look after him.'' Cordelia took her hands. ''Can you do that for me?''
Kaitlyn's eyes widened and her heart pounded. ''Me?!''
Cordelia nodded. ''You.''
Kaitlyn bit her lip.
And you can feel me when you fall
When you backs against the wall
And you know this town we live up in
Is the lonliest of all
''Well, okay. But what about everyone else? Who's going to look after everyone else?''
''Well, honey, everyone will look after each other.''
''It's not fair.''
Cordelia wrapped her in a hug, stroking her hair. ''No, it's not.'' She sighed. ''But it's the way things have to be.''
And you can feel me when you're down
And when your worlds turned upside down
I know this place we're living in
Is the lonliest of all
''But why?!'' Kaitlyn wailed.
''I don't know, honey.''
Kaitlyn sniffled. ''Mommy?''
''I love you.''
''I love you too.''
If I talk to God
I don't know if He's listening
When I speak out loud
I don't know if He's home
I'm talking to myself
'Cause no one else is listening
Stay another day
And will it all go wrong?
If I talk to God
''Okay, baby, go to sleep.''
''Okay, mommy.'' Kaitlyn yawned. She was just about to go to sleep when her mother said something else.
''Just because I'm going to die, doesn't mean I won't look after you.''
I will be the colors in the rain
When you're lying up and wide awake
Hold on, hold on, I will for you
I will be the truth inside your lies
When you close your eyes at night
I will, I will, hold on, for you
The days passed quickly and soon there was only two days before Christmas eve. It seemed like the Christmas Spirit was contagious, because everyone seemed to be anxious for Christmas.
Connor sighed, glancing at the door. ''Connor, why are you breaking up with Dawnie?'' Kaitlyn asked.
Connor looked at his sister. ''Bacause, I want to focus on you and Mom.''
Kaitlyn frowned, but hopped off the counter when the door opened and Dawn entered, a big smile on her face. ''I think it's going to snow.''
''Dawn, I need to talk to you.''
Dawn frowned. ''Okay.''
Connor grabbed her hand, dragging her into the office. ''You should sit down.''
Dawn peeled off her coat, sitting down. ''Connor what's going on? Is it your mom?''
''No, well, sort of. Dawn...'' Connor took her hands. ''Dawn, I think that, I mean, with everything going on with my mom, I think, I think we should take some time apart.''
Dawn's mouth fell open. ''You-you're breaking up with me?''
''Not forever. Just for a little while.''
Dawn sighed. ''I-I understand. You should take care of your mom.'' She stood up. ''Friends?''
''Uh - ''
''Okay, well, I have to go and wrap the last minute presents I got.'' She smiled before leaving.
Connor stared after her. ''She took that surprisingly well.''
Kaitlyn entered the kitchen, her eyes seeking her mother. Cordelia was sitting at the table, her head in her hands.
''Mommy? Are you okay? You don't look okay. Daddy!''
''Whoa, Katie, calm down, I'm fine, I just have a headache.'' Cordelia said, pulling the little girl into her lap.
Kaitlyn looked at her mother frowning. ''Are you sure?''
''Yes, honey, I'm fine.'' Cordelia lied.
Kaitlyn seemed convinced, and she looked at her mother. ''Mommy, we have a problem.''
''Oh yeah, what's that?''
''Connor broke up with Dawnie.''
Kaitlyn nodded. ''He's doing it right now.''
''Oh my, God, he is in so much trouble.''
''You mean like I get in trouble when I eat cookies before dinner?''
Kaitlyn's eyes widened. ''Whoa.''
Cordelia smiled. ''Okay, honey, I'll talk to him.''
Kaitlyn hopped off her mothers lap, planting a kiss on her cheek. ''Good, 'cause I don't like it when Connor's sad.''
''Neither do I.''
Kaitlyn skipped out of the kitchen, humming Christmas carols under her breath.
Cordelia sighed, staring after her daughter. She stood up, but that's when pain ripped through her head. She grabbed onto the table for support, sending a glass of water crashing to the floor. A scream escaped her lips and the sound of footsteps sounded in her ears.
''Cordy!'' A voice yelled. ''Angel!''
Cordelia weakly opened her eyes and saw Fred and Buffy staring down at her.
''Mom!'' Connor ran over to his mother.
''Connor, a nest of vampires attacking a family, in the alley behind that magic shop we used to go to.''
''Mom - ''
Connor nodded, standing and running out of the room.
''Mommy!'' Kaitlyn ran into the room, Dawn right behind her.
''Dawn, get her out of here!'' Buffy ordered.
''C'mon Katie.'' Dawn took the little girl's hand, but Kaitlyn wrenched free running over to her mother.
Cordelia felt herself slip into darkness, just as Kaitlyn fell next to her.
''Mommy, wake up! Mommy!'' Kaitlyn whipped around. ''Daddy!''
Angel rushed into the room. ''What happened?''
''I don't know, we heard her scream, she-she must have had a vision.'' Fred stuttered, standing as Angel lifted Cordelia into his arms.
''Take care of Katie.''
Cordelia opened her eyes, putting her hand to her head.
She looked up at Tara. ''Tara, what happened?''
Tara smiled gently. ''You had a vision.''
''Right, I-I remember now.'' She bolted upright. ''Katie, what about Katie?''
The smile slipped off Tara's face for a minute. ''She's fine, honey.''
''No.'' Cordelia shook her head, regretting it when pain filled her head. ''No, she's never seen me have a vision, trust me, she's not fine.''
''How long has she been like this?'' Angel asked, waving a hand in front of Kaitlyn's face.
She didn't even flinch.
''Since you took Cordelia upstairs and left to go help with the vamps.'' Fred said queitly.
''She's just been through a very traumatic event.'' Wesley said. ''It's reasonable that she would react this way.''
''But she's not even moving.'' Buffy protested. ''Are you sure she's okay?''
''She will be in time, Buffy.'' Giles cleaned his glasses.
''Well, we have to do something, we can't let Mom see her like this.'' Connor spoke up.
''Well, what do you want us to do?'' Dawn asked. ''Rewind time and make sure she doesn't see her mother in agonizing pain?'' She turned to Giles. ''Can we do that?''
''Well, maybe you can sing to her.'' Willow said. ''You know that song she likes.''
''I don't think that will work this time.'' Buffy said.
Everyone turned to Angel. Buffy frowned. ''What?''
''Jenny, Katie loves Jenny. If you put Jenny next to her it'll work.''
''Are you sure?''
''I know my daughter.''
''I'll go get Anya and Xander.'' Dawn said, slipping out of the room.
''Why did we get stuck with this job?'' Anya grumbled as she hung mistletoe in the newly renovated dining room.
''Because, you didn't want to put lights up outside, with Gunn and Faith.'' Xander responded, taking a plastic candy away from Jenny.
''Oh, yeah. Well, at least we're warm and dry. I think it's going to snow.''
''It's California, Ahn, it never snows.''
''Well, maybe it'll be a Christmas miracle. I know we could all use a miracle.''
''Yeah, but the miracle we're hoping for is a cure, not snow.''
Anya rolled her eyes, stepping down from the stepladder. ''Be a little more negative, why don't you?''
Xander opened his mouth to respond, but the doors opened and Dawn barged through. ''Guys, we have a problem.''
''Well that doesn't sound good.''
''Cordy had a vision and Katie was there and now she's like in some sort of trance.''
Anya and Xander looked at each other. ''Is Cordy okay? She's not...''
''No, she's fine. Well, as fine as she can be. But Katie's not. Nothing we've done will bring her out of her trance. But there's one thing we haven't tried.'' She looked at Jenny.
Xander and Anya followed her gaze. ''Jenny.''
''Angel, are you sure this will work?'' Buffy asked as she paced the lobby.
Buffy stopped, looking at him. ''Well, okay then, where's that baby?''
''Right here.'' Anya announced, walking into the room. She stopped short when she saw Kaitlyn. ''Oh my, God.''
''She's been like that for half an hour.'' Connor frowned.
''Why didn't you come and get us sooner?'' Xander asked.
''We were kind of busy.''
Anya looked at Angel. ''Are you sure this will work?''
Angel thre his hands up in the air. ''People have really got to stop asking me that question.''
Anya took a deep breath and placed Jenny next to Kaitlyn.
The small baby reached out a hand and put it on Kaitlyn's hand. Kaitlyn blinked and turned her head towards Jenny. ''Hi, Jen.''
Sighs of relief spread throughout the hotel. Angel quietly slipped upstairs.
''How is she?'' He asked immediatly when Tara opened the door.
''Better.'' She glanced behind her. ''I'll leave you two alone.''
Angel shut the door behind him, taking a seat next to Cordelia.
''Angel, how's Katie?''
''What do you mean now?''
''She went into shock after you had the vision and she was in a trance.''
Cordelia sighed. ''I was afraid of that. But she's better now?''
''Jenny brought her out of it.''
''Good.'' There was a moment of silence for a minite, until Cordelia spoke. ''Angel, you and I both know what this means.''
''Cordy - ''
''The spell is wearing off. I'll be gone soon.''
''Cordelia - ''
''Stop doing that.''
''Stop saying my name like you want to say more and then chicken out.''
''Cordelia, I love you.''
''Not the reaction I was hoping for.''
''Well, I already know you love me, you idiot.'' She held up her hand, showing off her wedding ring. ''Why do you think I'm wearing these? For fun?''
''You are a very confusing woman.''
''I rest my case.''
Cordelia laughed, getting a smile out of Angel. ''So, are you going to, like, kiss me anytime soon?''
Angel leaned in and kissed her.
Cordelia pulled away. ''Connor.''
''Well, that kills the mood.''
Cordelia hit him on the chest. ''I need you to got get Connor. I need to talk to him.''
''Oh, okay.'' Angel stood up and started for the door.
''I love you too.''
''I know, Visiongirl.''
Connor knocked gently on the door.
''Come in.'' His mother's voice called.
He poked his head in. ''Mom?''
She smiled. ''Hey, honey.''
He slipped in the door, closing it behind him. She looked fine. A little pale. But fine. She was sitting up in bed, and everything. He didn't know what he was expecting her to look like. Sickly, on death's door, but she was fine.
''Uh, Dad said you wanted to talk to me.''
Cordelia nodded. ''Sit.''
He had learned a long time to listen to his mother, so he said nothing and sat down next to her bed.
''Now,'' she started. ''I may be dying, but I still know everything that goes on in this hotel.'' With that Cordelia reached over and clipped him on the back of the head.
''Ow! Hey! What was that for?!'' Connor yelped, rubbing his head.
''You broke up with Dawn?!''
Connor sighed. ''You heard about that, huh?''
Cordelia scoffed. ''You are too much like your father.''
''I resent that.''
Cordelia rolled her eyes, before softening. ''Why did you break up with her?''
''I just felt, that with everything going on, we should take some time apart. I should be concentrating on you and Katie anyways.''
''Oh, Connor.'' Cordelia started gently, ''that is the...stupidest thing I've ever heard!'' On an afterthought, she reached over and hit him again.
''Ouch! Will you stop that!''
''No! Not until you get your act together, young man!'' Cordelia let out a breath. ''Connor, you love her, don't you?''
He nodded. ''Yeah.''
''Well, then,'' she slipped something off her finger. ''You should giver her this for Christmas.'' She held it out to Connor and for the first time, he noticed what it was.
''Mom, that's your engagement ring.''
''Not anymore.'' She said softly. ''Now it's Dawn's...That is, if you decide to give it to her.''
Connor hesitated for a moments, before reaching out and taking the ring from her hand.
''Hey, sweetie,'' Buffy said gently as she approached Kaitlyn. ''Can I talk to you for a minute?''
Kaitlyn looked up at her. ''Okay.''
Buffy sat down next to her and Jenny. Jenny giggled when Buffy tickled her tummy.
''I just wanted to see how you were doing.''
Kaitlyn shrugged. ''I want to go see Mommy.''
''I know, and you can in a little while, when she's feeling a little better, okay?''
Kaitlyn nodded slightly.
''Did you know that your Mom and I went to school together?''
Kaitlyn shook her head.
''Well, we did. We went to the same high school. Willow and Xander went there too.''
Buffy nodded. ''Anyways, your mom was the most popular girl there, and she wasn't very nice - ''
''That doesn't sound like Mommy.''
Buffy laughed. ''Well, maybe not now, but back then she was a real bi...meanie. She only talked to us because on occasion, we saved her life. Eventually she got together with Xander, and I was with your Dad - ''
''Eeew.'' Kaitlyn scrunched up her nose. ''That doesn't sound right.''
''It doesn't, does it? Anyways, your Mom had a huge crush on your Dad, only he didn't like her that way - ''
''Yes, he does, Daddy loves Mommy!''
Buffy sighed. ''Yes, honey, he does...now. But he didn't then. Do you understand?''
''Okay, then just listen. Back to the story, so I was dating your Dad and your Mom was dating Xander, and then something bad happened to your Daddy and he went bad.''
''The happiness curse.'' Kaitlyn said, nodding.
Buffy nodded. ''The happiness curse. So - ''
''The happiness curse is gone now, Uncle Wes and Grandpa Giles took it away.''
''Yes, they did, but don't let Giles hear you call him Grandpa, you know it makes him feel old.''
''But he is old.''
''But he doesn't like to feel old.''
''I don't get it.''
''Okay, do you want to hear the story or what?''
''Sorry. Go on.''
''Okay, so, your Daddy was bad and - ''
''Angelus, he was Angelus.''
Buffy groaned. ''Katie - ''
''Sorry.'' Katie pretended to zip her mouth shut.
''You Daddy was Angelus and he was terroizing the town, and he was really bad, he was ki...your Mom will kill me when she finds out I'm telling you this. Okay, the point is, he was really bad. But then I had to send him to hell. But then he came back!'' She added hastily, when she saw Kaitlyn's horrified look. ''He came back and he was all broody and me and your Dad tried to make out relashonship right, but we couldn't and so he moved away to LA, where he met your Mom and - ''
''Uncle Doyle!'' Kaitly grinned. ''Uncle Doyle died.''
''Yes, he did. But then your Mom got the visions and she and your Dad fell in love and then Darla came back and had Connor, and then they got married, and then they had you.'' Buffy finished with a smile.
Kaitlyn was silent for a moment. ''Buff-Buff?''
''What was the point of this story?''
''Well, it kept your mind off your Mom for a while didn't it.''
Kaitlyn's jaw dropped. ''Whoa, you're good.''
''Thank you. But I have another story.''
''Is it as boring as the last one?''
''It's about how your Mom and I became best friends.''
''Oh! I love that story!''
''Good. So, when your Mom was pregnant with you, me and - ''
''The Scoobies! That's what you're called. You and the scoobies!''
''Yes, me and the Scoobies were in Sunnydale, and we were - ''
''Sunnydale's a big hole now!''
''Kaitlyn Angel, do you want me to finish?''
''So we were in Sunnydale and we were fighting the first and when we destroyed Sunnydale, we had to go somewhere, so - ''
''So you came here.''
''So we came here and I was pretty angry when I found out that your Daddy didn't tell me about him and your Mom, or Connor, or you. But then your Mom, helped me deal with it and we became best friends, and then when your Mom had you, there were these demons, and - ''
''Yes, Howlers, and so your Dad was fighting the Howlers and your Mom was having you, and then a demon tried to take you and your Mom, but - ''
''But you cut off it's head!''
''You knew that?''
''Connor told me.''
''Do your parents know he told you that?''
Kaitlyn shook her head. ''Nu-uh.''
''Good, don't tell them. Anyways, I killed the demon and then I helped deliver you and after that - ''
''They made you my Godmother!''
''Hey, I was telling!''
''Well exsqueeze me.''
''You spend way too much time with Lorne.''
Jenny giggled and both girls looked at her.
Kaitlyn frowned. ''I think she's laughing at us.''
''I think we should tickle her.''
Faith stared up at the lights on the hotel. She felt someone come up behind her and whipped around, raising her stake.
''Will you calm down, girl? It's just me.'' Gunn held up his hands.
''Oh, sorry, Charlie boy.'' She put the stake in her pocket. ''So, how's Cordy?''
''She's...okay. The spell's wearing off you know.''
''Yeah, I know.'' Faith sat down on the bench.
''I think it's going to snow.'' Gunn said slowly.
''Maybe. So what do you think?''
Gunn looked up at the festivly decorated hotel. ''I think we did good.''
Faith smirked, looking at him. He looked at her and their eyes met.
''I'm sorry about your truck.'' She whispered.
''I'm over that.'' He leaned closer to her.
''Too bad there isn't any mistletoe, huh?''
''I don't think we need it.'' And then he leaned in and captured her lips in a kiss.
They were too busy, they didn't notice the soft flakes of snow start to fall.
''Mommy?'' Kaitlyn knocked on her mother's door, entering.
''Hey, honey, how are you doing?''
Kaitlyn ran over to the bed and leapt up on it, wrapping her arms around her mother's neck. ''Mommy, you're alive!''
''Of course I am, honey. It was just a vision.''
Kaitlyn pulled back. ''So you're going to be here for Christmas still?''
''Of course, baby. I wouldn't have it any other way.''
''Good.'' Kaitlyn laid next to her mother. ''Mommy?''
''Did you give Connor the ring?''
Cordelia smiled. ''I did. Did you sneak the note into Dawn's stocking?''
Cordelia grinned and high fived her. ''Baby?''
''We are totally evil geniouses.''
They were too busy wrapped up in their plan, they didn't notice the flakes of snow start to fall.
''It's Christmas eve day! It's Christmas eve day! It's Christmas eve day!'' Kaitlyn shouted happily as she ran through the halls of the Hyperion. She knocked on doors as she ran through the halls. ''Wake up, sleepy heads!'' A door opened and two strong arms picked her up off the ground. ''Connor!''
Connor glared at his little sister. ''What are you doing?''
Kaitlyn smiled brightly. ''Connor, it's Christmas - ''
''Eve day, yeah, I got that message. I meant why are you yelling?''
''Uh, duh, because it's Cristmas eve day.''
''Stop saying that.''
''Because it's getting on my nerves.''
''Because it's annoying.''
''Because it is.''
''Because...Because...Ugh!'' Connor put her down and slammed his door.
Kaitlyn giggled. ''Works every time.'' She moved to the next door. ''Faithy, wake up, it's Christmas eve day! Faithy! Faithy open this door this instant or you're grounded.''
The door opened and instead of Faith stadning there, Gunn was.
Kaitlyn's eyes widened and her mouth fell open. ''Whoa.'' She breathed.
''Katie, girl, it's 7 in the morning.'' He frowned. ''Why are you staring at me like that.''
Kaitlyn smirked. ''Hey everybody, Charlie and Faithy are sleeping together! Spikey you owe me 5 bucks!''
''Damnit!'' A voice sounded. It was follwed by a crash. ''Bollocks, Slayer, that hurt!''
''Charlie and Faithy sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes love, then comes marriage, here comes Charlie with the baby carriage!''
''What?'' Faith appeared. ''What baby carriage, there is no baby carriage.''
''Well, this has been fun, but I have work to do, you know, Christmas-y work.'' Gunn slipped out of the room and down the hall.'
Kaitlyn smiled at Faith before skipping down the hall. She started down the stairs, but stopped for a minute and then let out a mighty yell. ''WAKE UP!!''
''Mommy?'' Kaitlyn peered over the edge of the bowl her mother was stirring something in. ''Can I have some eggnog?''
Cordelia ruffled her daughter's hair. ''Absolutly not.'' She paused. ''At least not from this batch.''
Kaitlyn sighed. ''I can't wait to be a grown up.''
''Okay, just don't grow up to fast.'' Cordelia picked up the bowl of eggnog and entered the lobby. ''Okay, people, I got booze.''
There was a flurry of movement, and a line formed near the eggnog. ''Okay, babe.'' Cordelia looked down at her daughter. ''Let's go get you in your costume.''
Kaitlyn groaned, but followed her mother up the stairs. ''Mommy, if I wear the costume, can I open one present tonight?''
Cordelia laughed. ''Okay, but only one.''
''I always win.''
''You are too much like me.''
''Oh, come on Xander, why not?'' Willow was this close to stomping her foot in frustration.
''Well, for one thing, I'm not fat! I don't have a beard! And at this moment in time, I am not jolly!''
Xander sighed, burying his face in his hand. ''Can't I just do the snoopy dance instead?''
''No. Now, come on, Kaitlyn is expecting Santa Claus, do you want to let her down? And what about Jenny? This may scar her for life. What if she never get's over it and grows up to be bitter.''
''Oh, now, that's low. Using my own daughter to guilt trip me.''
''Is it working?''
''Well, then it was worth it.''
''I can't believe I'm going to say this but...oh...fine.''
''Yay!'' Willow jumped into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck.
''Will...air...becoming an issue.''
''Oh, sorry.'' Willow quickly pulled away and held up a red suit. ''Better go get changed. Santa.'' She put her hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh and left to join the others.
Xander sighed. ''I'm going to regret this.''
Kaitlyn grumbled, tapping her elf foot impatiently as she waited for her mother to finish adjusting her hat. ''Are you done yet, Mommy?''
Cordelia stepped back, looking at her elf daughter thoughtfully. ''Yes.''
''Good, can we go back to the party now?''
''Sure.'' Cordelia held out her hand and Kaitlyn took it. They started down the hall.
''Mommy...what's Christmas going to be like next year?''
Cordelia stopped in her tracks. ''What do you mean?''
''After you're gone, who's going to boss everyone around?''
''I don't boss everyone around!''
Kaitlyn gave her a look.
''Okay, so sometimes I may be a little bossy.''
''And who's going to stop Spikey from drinking? And who's going to be an evil genious with me? And who's going to make me dress up like an elf? 'Cause, you know, Buff-Buffy is bossy and all, but she can't resist to the puppy eyes, and Daddy's a sucker.'' Kaitlyn paused. ''Literally.''
Cordelia resisted the urge to laugh. ''Honey, next Christmas will be fine, because you know what?''
''I think Dawnie's learning to be bossy, don't you?''
''And let's not forget about Auntie Anya.''
Kaitlyn laughed. ''Okay. But it still won't be the same.''
''No probably not. But you shouldn't worry about that, now. We don't want to ruin Christmas eve, do we?''
Kaitlyn shook her head. ''No.''
''Now, who's my little Elfie?''
Kaitlyn smiled shyly. ''Me.''
''That's right, baby. Now it's time for your grand entrance.''
''I feel like a tomato.''
''Well, you kind of look like one too.''
''So not helping my self confidence right now.''
''A sexy tomato though.'' Anya wrapped her arms around her husband's waist.
Xander frowned. ''Bet you that wasn't something you ever thought you would say.''
''You got me there, Santa.'' Anya looked her husband up and down. ''Hey, do you think you could keep the suit for another night.''
''Hmmm, ho, ho, ho.''
Cordelia cleared her throat. ''Excuse me. Ladies and gentlemen, witches and demons, slayers and vampires, key's and - ''
''Uh, Cordy.'' Buffy inturrupted. ''We get the picture.''
''Anyways, as I was saying before I was rudley inturrupted, I now present to you Miss. Kaitlyn Kathleen Angel, the elf.''
Kaitlyn smiled her 100 watt smile as she walked down the stairs. ''Hey, party people.''
People cheered and clapped, and Cordelia tried to smile, but her conversation with Kaitlyn rang in her ears. ''Hey, guys, I'll be right back, I'm just going to got get the cookie tray.''
She thought no one noticed, but someone did.
She didn't turn at the sound of his voice. ''I lied.''
She whipped around to face him. ''I lied, Angel. I've been acting like I'm not afraid to die, telling everyone it's going to be okay when I die. But it won't will it?''
Angel looked down. ''No, it won't.''
Cordelia looked up at the ceiling, pushing tears away. ''I'm 24-year old, Angel. I-I don't want to die.''
''Cordy, there's still hope. We can still fix this.'' He took a step towards her, she took a step back, shaking her head.
''No you can't. You can't fix this. Not this time.''
''Yes, we can. I can get the guys working - ''
''No! Now, I don't want to ruin anyone's Christmas. Today is supposed to be a happy day.''
He took a step towards her, and this time, she didn't pull away. He pulled her into his arms, and she sank into his embrace. ''You could never ruin anything.''
Cordelia sniffled, pulling away. ''I just wanted to celebrate Christmas with my family, one last time.''
''I know.'' Angel kissed her on the forehead. ''So let's go celebrate.'' He turned, starting for the door.
''Wait.'' She caught his arm. ''There's something I need to do first.'' She pushed him against the table and pressed her lips to his. When she pulled away she smiled. ''Just in case we don't get a turn under the mistletoe.''
''Too bad there's no mistletoe here.'' Angel smiled.
Cordelia laughed, starting for the door, when a loud booming voice sounded from the lobby. ''Ho, ho, ho!''
Cordelia raised an eyebrow turning to Angel.
Angel smirked. ''Was that - ''
''I can't believe I'm doing this.'' Xander muttered under his breath. He heaved a sigh, before, clearing his throat and walking down the stairs. ''Ho, ho, ho!''
Kaitlyn turned and her jaw dropped, the present she was holding, falling from her hands. ''Holy Santa, batman.''
Jenny squealed from Willow's arms, reaching her arms out to 'Santa'.
Kaitlyn stared at 'Santa' for a minute, until she finally regained her composure. ''It's Santa Claus!'' She leapt up, running at 'Santa'. She jumped on him, nearly sending both of them crashing to the floor.
''Oof! Geez, you eat way too much candy, Katie.''
Kaitlyn's eyes widened. ''You know my name?''
''Uhh, of course I do, I'm Santa Claus!'' He bellowed.
Kaitlyn winced. ''Why are you yelling?''
''Because...I'm Santa Claus!''
Kaitlyn raised an eyebrow dropping to the ground. Suddenly she didn't trust this so-called 'Santa'. ''If you're Santa, what are the reindeer's names?''
''Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donnor, and Blitzen.''
''You forgot the most important one.''
''If you're Santa, what's your wife's name?''
''Her first name.''
''Um, uh, Noelle. Yep, Noelle.''
''Ha! That was a trick question! No one know's her first name.''
''Well, then, don't you think if anyone knew it, it would be me?''
Kaitlyn's face dropped. ''Oh.'' She sighed. ''Oh, alright, fine, you're Santa Claus.''
'Santa' rolled his eyes, muttering something under his breath.
''Fred, you know, I've, uh, been wondering. Since Angel and Cordelia got together, and Gunn and Faith did, what do you think about going out with me? No, no, that's not right. Say, Fred, since the people out there are completly oblivious to the world we live in, it really does seem like we're meant to be with each other.'' Wesley frowned, looking in the mirror. ''Bugger.'' He took off his glasses, cleaning them. He looked back up at his reflection in the mirror. ''Fred, would you like to go on a date with me?''
''I'd love to. What took you so long?''
Wesley turned, looking at the woman, leaning against the doorframe. ''Fred!''
Fred smiled. ''Just so you know, the first one sucked.''
Wesley blushed. ''Well, I was, just um...''
''Trying to find a way to ask me out?''
Wesley nodded. ''Yeah, that.''
Fred entered the room. ''Well, it took you long enough.''
''You've been waiting for me to ask you out?''
''Oh, please, Wes, I've been waiting for four years.''
''That long, huh?''
Fred nodded, moving closer to him. ''I brought you a present.''
''But it's not Christmas yet.''
''I think it's close enough.'' Fred pulled something out from behind her back. Mistletoe. She held it above her head. ''So, do I need to help you out with this one?''
''I think I can manage.'' He leaned in and kissed her.
Dawn sighed loudly. All around her couples were kissing under the mistletoe, or just being nauseatingly coupl-y.
Angel and Cordelia were being all mushy, Gunn and Faith were enjoying their newfound couple-ness, Fred and Wes were off somewhere doing God know what, Willow and Tara were enjoying each other's company, Anya and the 'Santa' who looked suspiciously like Xander were getting close, and even Buffy and Spike were being oddly sweet.
''It's just not fair.''
''What's not fair?'' Giles asked from beside her.
''How come we're always the ones left out of Coupledom?''
''That's a very good question.''
Dawn pushed off the couch. ''I'm going to go get some more eggnog.'' She moved across the room, trying not to look at Connor. When she reached the large bowl the eggnog was in, she poured some in her glass and turned, yelping. ''Holy crap!'' She slapped Connor on the chest. ''Don't do that! Hum when you walk or something.''
Connor raised an eyebrow. ''I don't hum.''
Dawn rolled her eyes. ''That's nice. Well, if you'll excuse me, I have to get going. You know, back to the loser table.''
''Dawn, wait.'' Connor grabbed her arm.
Dawn sighed. ''Connor, don't do this.''
''I'm not doing anything.''
''Hey, kiddies, look, you're under the mistletoe!'' Lorne exclaimed, standing. All attention was on the couple now.
''Oh, wonderful.'' Dawn moaned.
''Well, are you going to kiss, or what?'' Lorne demanded. ''You have to, it's tradtion.'' He winked at Cordelia out of the corner of his eye.
Connor looked down. ''You know, we don't have to. Because I understand if it's too awkward or - '' He was cut off when she planted her lips firmly on his.
Pulling away, she gave him a smile. ''Merry Christmas.''
Kaitlyn huffed as she waited for the alarm clock on her bedside table to change from 11:59, to 12:00. ''Come on already.'' The bright red numbers changed.
Kaitlyn smiled, pushing off her covers and leaping out of bed. She quietly pulled open her door and snuck out into the darkened hallway. She leaned over the railing. No one was downstairs, except the lighted tree. She ran down the hallway and stopped at a door. She opened the door and tip toed in, careful not to wake the sleeping adults. The baby in the crib was wide awake and smiled when she saw Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn reached down and picked her up. ''Okay, Jen, ready?'' She closed the door behind her and carefully tip toed down the hall.
''Okay, Jenny, you and I both know that wasn't Santa. That was your Daddy dressed up like a tomato.'' Jenny giggled. ''Okay, so he was dressed as Santa, but he looked more like a tomato.'' Kaitlyn started down the stairs. ''So, we're going to wait for the real Santa, and then we're going to talk to him.'' She rushed behind the counter and put Jenny in her lap. ''Now, we wait.''
Several minutes passed and Kaitlyn looked down at Jenny. ''I wonder if Santa would mind if I ate just one of the cookies.''
''I probably wouldn't. I don't eat the cookies anyways.''
Kaitlyn gasped and stood up. ''Hey, wait a minute, you're not Santa.''
The man smirked, hopping up on the counter. ''You got me there. I'm Nick. Santa's son. Dad's sick, so I got stuck with the job of delivering these presents, because if Noelle had done it she would have whined about breaking a nail.''
''I didn't know Santa had kids.''
''Not many people do.''
''So, Mrs. Claus, her name isn't really Noelle?''
''No.'' He laughed. ''It's Christina.''
Kaitlyn frowned. ''Okay, if you're really Santa's son, then what did I ask Santa for, for Christmas.''
''You asked for your Mom to get better.''
Kaitlyn's jaw dropped. ''Wow, you're good.''
Nick jumped off the counter. ''You're more sneaky then I thought you would be.''
''Where's your suit? And beard? And sleigh? And reindeer? And sack of toys? And did you really come down the chimmney?''
''Like I would wear that suit. And I haven't shaved in two days, this is the most beard I get.'' He looked at the tree. ''Ironic. You put an Angel on top of your tree.''
''What about the other stuff?''
''I wouldn't be caught dead in that sleigh, the reindeer hate me, and I don't need a sack of toys.''
''What about the chimmney?''
''You're not very jolly.''
''Being jolly's overrated.''
Kaitlyn rolled her eyes, putting Jenny down on the couch. ''I wish Santa was here.''
''Well, he's not kid, so you're gonna have to deal with me.'' Nick snapped his fingers and a bunch of presents appeared under the tree. ''So much easier then that ratty sack.''
''I have a question for you.'' Kaitlyn put her hands on her hips.
''Did you bring me what I asked your Dad for?''
''On how you use this.'' Nick held out his hand and a dark blue velvet box appeared in his hand.
''What is it?''
Kaitlyn took a step back. ''Oh no, wishes are bad. Very bad.''
''Not this one.''
''How do I know I can trust you?''
''Can you trust Santa?''
''Of course, he's Santa.''
''Well, think of me as Santa.''
''You don't have a suit.''
''Will it make you feel better if I wear the suit?''
Kaitlyn sighed, reaching out for the box. ''Okay, fine, I trust you.'' She took the box.
''You can't use it yet.''
''Hey, don't ask me, I don't make up the rules. You'll know when to use it.''
''You just will. Oh yeah, and give this to your little friend when she get's older.'' He held out another box.
Kaitlyn took the box. ''Thanks.''
''I gotta got. So many other whiny kids to give presents.''
''Do you think my Mom will get better? I mean, just you. Do you think my Mom will get better?''
''Your Mom's a strong lady. And, I can't believe I'm about to say this, but, if you believe your Mom's strong enough to get better, then she probably will. You're more powerful than you think Katie.''
''You called me Katie.''
''Thanks for the information. Anyways, I have to go.''
''Merry Christmas. Oh, and don't tell anyone I said that. I got a rep to protect.''
Kaitlyn laughed and then, in a swirl of green and red lights, he was gone. She turned to Jenny. ''That was weird.''
Kaitlyn opened her eyes, and looked around. ''It's Christmas.'' She whispered. ''It's Christmas.'' She sat up in her bed, throwing off the covers. ''IT'S CHRISTMAS!!''
''Wow, that girl's got volume.'' Cordelia whispered, yawning.
''She get's that from you.'' Angel murmered, burying his face in his pillow.
''Yeah, probably.'' Cordelia stood up, just as the door flunf open.
''Mommy.'' Kaitlyn breathed.
''What? What's wrong?''
''What? Honey, what's the matter?''
''It's what?'' Angel sat up. ''It can't be snowing. We live in California.''
Cordelia threw open the curtains. ''What do you call that?''
''Oh my, God.''
''It's snowing!'' Kaitlyn ran out of the room. ''It'a Christmas and it's snowing!''
''Okay, baby, are you ready to open some gifts?''
Kaitlyn nodded, staring at the gifts under the tree.
In a flurry of wrapping paper, Kaitlyn was tearing off the wrapping of the presents. ''Barbie!'' She squeaked, grabbing the barbie. ''Thank you!'' She hugged the barbie to her chest as she opened the other presents.
Dawn opened the envelope in her stocking. Frowning, she read the words.
Meet me in the garden later.
She looked around, but no one looked suspicious. She raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. She wouls find out later.
Christmas had been everything Cordelia hoped for and more. Just her family, together for the holidays. But still, there was a certain amount of sadness. Everyone knew this would most likely be Cordelia's last Christmas. But no one was brave enough to say it.
There was a part of everyone that just wanted to get back to the routine they had before Christmas. They wanted to look for a cure. But none of them wanted to upset Cordelia.
Nick had been right when he said Kaitlyn was more powerful then she thought. Because she knew, as she opened her gifts, or her stockings, or as she ate Christmas dinner, she knew something bad was going to happen.
Dawn shivered, pulling her coat tighter to her chest as she sat down on the bench in the garden. Snow fell, hanging in her hair, and she sighed, looking around.
She stood up, turning. ''Connor.''
''Mom said you wanted to see me.''
Dawn shook her head. ''No. I got a note in my stocking that said 'meet me in the garden later'. Did you send it?''
''No.'' Suddenly something fell into place. ''Can I see the note?'' He took it from her outstretched hand and looked it over. ''Mom.'' He laughed. ''It was Mom.''
Dawn laughed. ''Of course.'' She smiled. 'Well, I should get back inside, it's freezing out here.'' She started for the door.
Connor watched her go. Suddenly, an odd sense of adrenaline rushed through him. ''Marry me!''
Dawn froze, turning around slowly. ''What?''
''Nothing. I said nothing.''
''You..You...Said...Oh my, God. Did you just ask me to marry you?''
Connor shifted. ''Well, sort of.''
Dawn's eyes glazed over with anger. ''The snow must have frozen your brain.'' She turned and stomped into the hotel.
''Dawn wait!'' With quick movements, Connor ran after her and grabbed her arm just as she entered the hotel. ''Marry me.''
''What?!'' A chorus of voices shrieked from the lobby.
''Are you insane?!'' Dawn screeched. ''Seriously, are you losing your mind?!''
''That's not an answer.''
''Be..Because...Because! Because we're only 18!''
''Actually I'm 19.''
''Connor!'' She reached over and hit him on the head.
''Ouch! Why do you women always hit me?!''
''We can't get married, now!''
''I didn't say we had to do it now. Just say you'll marry me. Not today. Not tomorrow. But someday. Marry me someday.''
''Oh, God, he's cracked. He has finally cracked.'' Dawn threw her hands up in the air, starting for the stairs.
''Good, God, woman, will you just stop and listen to me?!''
Dawn stopped, but didn't turn around.
''I made a mistake Dawn. When I broke up with you. I was an idiot.''
Dawn snorted. ''Got that right.''
Connor rolled his eyes. ''I am trying to apologize here. Anyways, I love you. And someday, I want to marry you.''
Dawn didn't answer.
''I'll get down on one knee.''
''No!'' Dawn whipped around. ''Don't do that! I hate that! It's corny and cheesy and...oh...fine...I'll marry you.''
His face lit up. ''Really?''
Dawn nodded. ''Let me see the ring.''
''So, was this a good Christmas?'' Angel asked.
Cordelia nodded. ''It was. It was everything I hoped for.'' She felt a pain in her head, but ignored it. She looked over at Kaitlyn. ''Did you have a good Christmas?''
Kaitlyn looked up from her new necklace she was fingering. ''Huh? Oh, yeah.'' She looked back down at her necklace.
''You know, honey, that was mine when I was your age.''
Kaitly looked up. ''Really?''
Cordelia nodded. ''My Grandma gave it to me.'' A sharp pain coursed through her head.
''Kaitlyn, can you go get me some eggnog?''
Kaitlyn nodded and ran off.
Cordelia grabbed her head. ''Oh no.''
''Cordy?'' Angel put his hands on her shoulders. ''What's wrong?''
Cordelia let out an ear piercing scream.
Kaitlyn froze, whipping around. ''Mommy.''
Buffy ran out of the kitchen, running over to Kaitlyn as Tara and some others ran up the stairs. ''Katie, honey - '' She made a grab for her, but Kaitlyn was too fast for her.
All Is Calm
Willow grabbed her new book, flipping through it, her mind floating to something she saw earlier.
Kaitlyn paused at her mother's door. You'll know when to use it. Kaitlyn's eyes widened. ''The wish.''
All Is Bright
Angel tried to restrain Cordelia as she thrashed around in pain.
Kaitlyn tore through her room. ''Where did I put it?''
''Come on, come on.'' Willow muttered, flipping through the book.
Round Yon Virgin
Heads turned to the stairs as Cordelia's screams echoed through the hotel.
Jenny reached out her hand.
''Ow!'' A box hit Kaitlyn on the head.
Mother and Child.
She looked down at the box.
Holy Infant So Tender And Mild
''Aha!'' Willow yelled. She frowned. ''No.''
Kaitlyn hesistated. Another scream pierced the air and Kaitlyn suddenly didn't have time to hesitate. She ripped open the box, and in a loud clear voice spoke,
Sleep In Heavenly Peace
''I wish my Mommy will get better!''
A white light encased the hotel, but it was gone in less than a second.
Cordelia's body stopped cunvulsing and she sank back on the bed.
Angel frowned. ''Cordy?''
Tara's breath caught in her throat.
''She's alive. Her heartbeat's strong.''
''I don't understand. What happened?''
Willow's eyes widened as words appeared on the page. ''Oh my, God.''
Nick smiled, looking at the scene. ''That's my girl.''
Kaitlyn ran down the hall, flying through her mother's door. ''Mommy?''
Willow gasped. ''I've got it! I know how to save her!''
In an alley, a swirling, blue portal opened up, and a girl jumped out. She frowned, looking around.
Sleep In Heavenly Peace