Once again, my muse proved rather festive. Here we are in my fantasy world version of the Buffyverse, in December of 2011. While this exists in the future that follows my "Season 8", you don't need to have read that freakishly long fic to understand this conveniently short one. Though it might give you something to do if you're bored over the holidays. Shrug.

Disclaimer: Notice how I said that this comes from "my fantasy world version of the Buffyverse". That means I don't own the real thing, nor would I presume to take credit for any of it. I just like borrowing the characters and *cough* making their lives a little happier from time to time.

Also, this is probably set in upstate New York, since that area strikes me as a lovely place for the Scoobies to settle down and all that good stuff. Plus it snows there.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Buffy ripped off another piece of Scotch tape and pressed it carefully onto the folded candy cane-patterned paper, then passed the dispenser to Willow, who, through diligent concentration, had managed to wrap yet another gift properly. With pride, she secured it with the final piece of tape and set the menorah-patterned gift in her "done" pile, where it sat surrounded by rest of the presents, the wrapping of which alternated between menorah, Star of David, and dreidel-covered paper. Seconds later, Buffy added this latest package to her own pile. Gingerbread men, reindeer, and more candy canes festively hid the presents they would be opening next week. Even though they always celebrated together regardless, it was nice to have Christmas and Hanukkah fall so close together this year.

They paused as they reached for the next things to wrap, looking out the large window at the sunlit, snow-covered back lawn, and felt their hearts melt.

"No wonder they volunteered to distract the kids while we did the presents," said Buffy. She smiled as she watched Angel dramatically pretend to fall, mortally wounded, from the snowball he had taken to the chest, courtesy of a four-year-old with surprisingly good aim. Her breath puffing out in bursts of white fog and her dark brown pigtails bouncing as she ran, Kathy hurried over to him, her rosy little face full of concern. Just as she reached out a small, mitten-covered hand to touch the white powder splattered across her father's chest, he came back to life with a rumbling burst of laughter and swept her into his arms. Her responding giggles were loud enough that Buffy could hear them through the glass of the window.

Willow's gaze, meanwhile, was drawn to the spot a few yards away from them, where Oz and Daniel were almost finished building a snowman. She laughed when she realized that her husband and son had somehow managed to construct a crude guitar out of snow, which the snowman now appeared to be strumming. Not far from them, Daniel's twin was working on the latest of what seemed to be a whole choir of little snow angels. The copper-colored braids trailing down from under Tara's thick knit cap were stiff from all of the snow already stuck to them, but judging by the way her mother's famed "resolve face" was currently mirrored on her much smaller features, she wouldn't be stopping any time soon.

Buffy and Willow exchanged broad smiles before going back to gift-wrapping. The former finished wrapping three different-sized boxes that contained new ice skates for herself, her husband, and their daughter—hockey skates for the latter two, as Angel wouldn't go near figure skates if he was paid to and Kathy's tomboy phase had apparently gotten an early start—and realized that there was only one thing left to wrap. She couldn't believe she had almost forgotten, even though she had only found out for sure a few hours ago.

After Willow finished wrapping a toy guitar for Daniel and a chemistry set for Tara, she noticed that Buffy had already stopped. She looked inquiringly at her, intending to ask whether they should make hot chocolate for themselves and the five playing in the snow, or get on their coats and gloves and join the snowball fight that had just begun. The expression on Buffy's face drove the question from Willow's mind, however. She was staring at something her pile of presents obscured from view, and she looked torn between excitement, awe, disbelief, and anxiety.

"What is it?" Willow asked. Buffy jumped slightly and looked up at her. She didn't reply for a minute, temporarily paralyzed by an irrational fear that saying it out loud would make it go away. She soon found a loophole in this logic, however, and simply held up the thing she had been about to wrap, excitement now dominating her expression.

For approximately a tenth of a second, Willow stared at the little plus sign on the used plastic device, before she launched herself at her best friend with a squeal of delight. It would have been quite wonderful enough news in a normal situation, but those rarely applied in this circle of friends. The fact that both Buffy and Angel had actually survived this long was a miracle on its own, considering everything they had faced, and Angel having his humanity restored to him almost eight years before had been even more miraculous.

Not long after Willow and Oz had been blessed with their beautiful twins, Kathy came along, and Willow couldn't have imagined two people happier to welcome a child than Buffy and Angel had been then. But the circumstances of Kathy's birth had by no means been smooth sailing. Premature labor and bonus complications during delivery had almost ended the fragile new life before she had even officially arrived in the world. Clearly displaying a rare charitable mood, Fate had been kind to them that day four summers ago, for now Kathy was as strong and healthy as the redheads at whom she was currently pelting snowballs.

A couple of days after her birth, when both mother and daughter were finally out of the woods, and the new parents were falling in love with the tiny, chocolate-eyed bundle that they were at last allowed to hold in their arms, a doctor had informed them sympathetically that the whole ordeal had most likely rendered Buffy sterile. That news hadn't seemed so terrible then; Buffy and Kathy were alive and well, and that was more than enough to end the day in joyful triumph.

It soon almost seemed like Kathy had siblings anyway, as well as she got along with the Osbourne twins, and then with Xander and Renée's little Jesse, who was born a few months later. As the four of them grew to toddlerhood, they were practically inseparable, and presented a force of sheer cuteness against which even "Grandpa" Giles had no defense. Connor and Dawn's son, Steven, who would be two in the spring, had been following his cousin and her friends around since he could crawl.

In spite of all of this, Buffy had still quietly lamented that she and Angel would be able to have no more children of their own. There had been one heartbreaking false alarm shortly before Kathy's third birthday, and that had hurt more than when the doctor had first told her it couldn't happen. That was why she had ignored the signs this time, not wanting to get her hopes up—or Angel's—if this turned out to be nothing. She hadn't been able to help it, though. After a week of failing to convince herself that missing one period was perfectly normal, she had caved, and bought a whole pack of pregnancy tests. They had all come out positive, and the doctor had confirmed the results that morning.

Willow spent a whole minute in transports of unintelligible delight, which didn't seem to involve ever pausing to breathe, before she regained enough dignity to break off the hug and step back to look at Buffy's shining face. "This is going to be the best Christmas-slash-Hanukkah ever," she declared.

"I know," Buffy agreed, "but don't tell anyone, okay? I want it to be a surprise." The only thing keeping her from telling Angel herself, now, was the thought of his face when he unwrapped the test, official diagnosis, and schedule of checkup dates. Willow grinned conspiratorially, before they turned again to watch their families playing together in the snow. Daniel was chasing a shrieking Kathy around the guitarist snowman with an armful of snow, while Tara was waiting to ambush them both with an arsenal of fresh snowballs. Angel and Oz, on the other hand, were busy building rather elaborate opposing forts. By the time Xander and Connor arrived with their families as well to join the fun, which should have been any minute from then, the backyard would have already become an all-out war zone. Buffy shook her head in despair. "How is it that he's older than this country and yet can still be so astonishingly childish?" A poorly suppressed giggle betrayed how much she adored that particular quality, but Willow played along.

"It's the sad truth, isn't it?" she sighed, looking fondly at Oz. "Boys never do completely grow up."

"I guess the only thing to do is make sure they don't hurt themselves," said Buffy with a wicked grin. With that, the two of them double-checked that all of the presents were wrapped and their contents unidentifiable, donned their coats, gloves, boots, and hats, and rushed out to greet the laughter filling the frosty air.

So yeah, this would be when Buffy finds out she's pregnant with Liam (though she obviously doesn't know he's a he, let alone Liam, just yet). I thought the situation was suitably adorable for a good holiday fic. I had fun with Buffy and Willow wrapping presents in themed wrapping paper. Also, Angel and Oz playing with the kids in the snow...it really doesn't get cuter than that. I decided to end it with Buffy and Willow headed out to join the fun and before Xander and Connor got there with their families, even though the snowball war probably ended up being really awesome. I imagine it would have involved boys vs. girls at some point, and since the girls include two Slayers (for those of you unfamiliar with Renée from the comics, she's a Slayer, but since this is set after my "Season 8" fic rather than after the actual season eight comic, she is not dead), they would have won. And afterwards, there would have been lots of hot chocolate, with the kids falling asleep while the Scoobies watch stuff like It's a Wonderful Life and one or both of the first two Home Alone movies. Whatever you like. Anyway, merry Christmas!