Title: Anuta is not Christmas Island...
Summary: See what happens when an alleged Grinch and a Christmas fanatic are snowed in together
Pairing: A slayer and a Witch - yet again;)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story, nor do I own any rights to the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". They were created by Joss Whedon and belong to him, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Television, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television and the WB Network. No copyright infringement intended!
Dedication: To the Buffyverse-characters and the people behind them (actors and writers)
Author's notes: Wrote this story in 2007 for a German Christmas challenge and finally decided to translate it :P Several elements had to be included in this fic – namely:
+ baking cookies
+ being snowbound
+ someone melancholic
+ two very unlike characters
+ a very high proof beverage
+ ruined Christmas roast
+ a sexy Santa outfit
+ not so sexy underwear
+ gift exchange
wanna find out how I worked those in, then read and hopefully enjoy ;) Merry Christmas!
Anuta is not Christmas Island
Part One of Three
"Dammit, Red...if I didn't know any better, I'd say you knew, we'd be stuck up here," a certain brunette bitched and at the same time dodged a baking sheet that 'Red', her hands poorly covered with kitchen towels, her lips forming a silent 'o-ho-ho-hoooot', now deposited on the kitchen table her disgruntled companion had been leaning against just moments before.
Actually Willow had asked the brunette slayer... who certainly wasn't her girlfriend, but Faith... to search the cupboards for a clean bowl, since she was right in the middle of baking cookies. Tons of cookies, it seemed to Faith.
But the brunette had no intentions doing such thing, instead looked for the next facility to lean her behind against, found one in form of a doorpost and regarded the little wicca with the same annoyed and dour look that had been gracing her features for hours.
Her arms were still crossed – if Willow wanted another damn bowl, she could search for one herself. Or go wash up that other one, Faith didn't care either way.
Willow did the latter with a resigning sigh, since she hadn't found a new bowl. It was possible that there was just this one. She wondered how Faith would have reacted, if she had found out about that upon her own inspection? The slayer could hardly become any grumpier, really...
This whole situation wasn't Willow fault. Nature had its own rules. Especially in winter. Especially in the northeastern part of the States.
Winter up here pretty much meant snow, icy cold, snow and... well, snow!
Trillions of gigatons of it...or something like that...
Sure, she as well could imagine better things than being snowbound in a cabin somewhere in the woods near Syracuse with a peevish slayer, but what could she do about it? Magic the snow away?
If only it was that simple...
"Or... wait... was that you? The snow, I mean". Faith seemed to pursue a similar train of thought, only her train was headed into the opposite direction. And she was serious – Willow seemed much too prepared for this situation. Faith didn't get how one person could just have all these recipes ready for use in the back of their mind – Willow must have sensed something.
The redhead took the Faith's comment as an accusation, and it probably was meant to be one. Although it didn't refer to the being stuck itself, but the being stuck in Christmas hell. This is how this place felt to Faith. Even though with the baking of cookies thing only a small part of the usual Christmas traditions was present so far.
And apparently one kind of cookies wasn't enough. Noooo... Red was so cookie-hyper right now that Faith feared she would clean out that stupid bowl a hundred more times in order to put all the ideas that seemed to jump around in her head momentarily into cookie action.
They should have just gone on driving last night. It would have only taken them about five hours more and they would have been home again...
But whose fault was it that they had spent the night here? That's right. Her own fault. She was Faith Lehane, a slayer in her late twenties; a woman, who had mastered pretty much every fighting technique and weapon...
Only she hadn't mastered every vehicle category.
Well, okay, 'mastered'... She knew how to operate most of them, but she only had a license for motorcycles.
That was the problem. She wouldn't have minded taking over the wheel; only her redheaded companion hadn't been too thrilled by that suggestion.
So, when you think about it, it was actually Willow's fault. She hadn't let her drive. Stupid principles.
Or even better – it was G-Man's fault. He could have sent Red and some other slayer on this... terribly exciting mission in Canada's wintery wilderness. One who owned a license for these four-wheeled vehicles commonly known as 'cars'. Maybe not, B, because the girl was infamous for her 'driving skills' and everyone in and around Cleveland – the location of the new slayer headquarter – feared for the safety of their own cars whenever the little blonde got behind the wheel. But Ken. She could also have helped Will defeat this demon that had been the reason for this mission, which – according to Faith – the wrong brunette had been sent on only days before Christmas.
And Willow probably would have liked that better as well. To be stuck somewhere with someone you love and who liked Christmas to some extent was certainly much more enjoyable. But now she had to kill her time with this... this... Grinch...
"Believe me, I would get rid of the snow, if I could," Willow finally replied. "We just have to make the best of this situation".
"You don't seem to have a problem with that," Faith remarked and watched Willow mixing together the next cookie dough.
It was a mystery to Faith how this secluded cabin could hold all these useful ingredients for the baking of Christmas cookies anyway. Hardly anyone strayed up here. Giles had acquired the cabin about two years ago as accommodation for transits such as this one. Only those transits didn't happen as often, since usually planes were taken on longer trips – at least when it came to the missions of slayers and/or witches. Faith knew that Giles liked to take the car on longer missions. Thoughts about the things the boss of watchers did when on one of his "missions" lifted Faith's mood somewhat.
But of course she knew how Willow must feel right now. She was melancholic, would rather be at Slayer Central, their home. With her friends – the people who shared her holiday spirit – and her self-imposed pre-Christmassy tasks. Because in the beginning of their trip Willow had already informed her about all the things she still needed to prepare for Christmas, which back then had been five and today was only one day away. Decorate the central's recreation room, decorate the Christmas tree with Dawnie, who was home from college for the holiday break, and baking tons of cookies, of course. And lastly wrap presents.
Viewed in this light, even now Willow did everything possible to stick to her holiday plan... even if 'sticking to' in their current situation meant redistributing the tasks. The only thing she could take care of up here were the cookies, which, however, today had to live without sugary and colorful garnishment and were cut into the shapes of stars, Christmas trees and hearts with the help of a knife. Because cookie cutters and glaze ingredients, and especially food coloring, were really too much to ask for in this kitchen that was mostly equipped with canned food and other much more useful things.
Redistributed she had the tasks with two calls, since luckily the phone lines hadn't yet collapsed under the heaps of snow. The first one had been to Kennedy who had been instructed to take care of the decorations and the punch and to wrap the presents as presentable as possible. Giles and Andrew – who got along surprisingly well within the kitchen area - were in charge of Christmas Eve dinner tonight anyway, so Willow had at least one thing less to worry about. The second call had been to Xander, since Kennedy couldn't possibly wrap the presents meant for herself – presents Willow had with great foresight stored separately from the ones for her friends – by, well, herself.
Why Xander of all people? The handicapped handyman when it came to wrapping gifts and tying pretty bows?
The decision hadn't been easy for Willow; she had almost set Buffy up on on the... pretty delicate lingerie she had acquired for her girlfriend. Only she knew that Buffy would probably want to talk to her about them, to ask where she had gotten them. And even though Buffy was her bestest of friends, talks like this embarrassed Willow to no end. Xander on the other hand would simply put a content hand on her shoulder, grin happily, but would – and that was the important thing – not comment on it.
"But seriously, Red," the slayer's voice brought her back from the land of thoughts, "why are you making all this fuss about Christmas? Shouldn't you of all people not actually be celebrating this other thing... this 'Anuta...?"
One could certainly read the last word in Faith's statement as question within a question; it was obvious that the brunette wasn't all sure how the Jewish holiday really was called. Well, probably not like a island in the Pacific ocean.
Faith herself didn't like it very much. Christmas, not the island... she didn't have any problems with that one. But Christmas always gave her bad feelings.
In her childhood, the days of Christmas had just been as ordinary as other days. Without presents, without tree, without Christmas dinner. Only Christmas movies on the old black and white TV and the brightly decorated streets of Boston suggested that this time of year was special.
She only remembered two Chrismases on which she had felt this specialness as well. Her first two Christmases as slayer. Of course her calling hadn't been the reason for this – rather the people whom she had spend these holidays with.
The first year it had been her watcher. As strict as she had been during their training sessions and as defiant Faith's behavior had been sometimes... on Christmas all this had been forgotten and her watcher had finally shown her true face. The face of a loving and warm-hearted women, anxious to do something nice for Faith on this special day. She had given her a beautifully carved stake and a diary, in which she could entrust all the thoughts and worries she didn't want to share with anyone.
Later she had lost her stake in the fight against Kakistos, but it had done a good job – the vampire's face had been proof for this. The diary had accompanied her much longer. For years. She had nearly filled it with writing. But when she had fled from prison she had left it behind. Had the guards had read it after her escape? If so, they either thought she was a complete looney or they finally had a plausible explanation for her seemingly supernatural powers, which other inmates had felt the effects of occasionally – and most of the times it had been their own fault.
The second year it had been the Summers women. Okay... at some point Buffy had taken off to stop Angel from killing himself and Dawnie hadn't been a woman yet. But that didn't change the fact that this Christmas … back then in this small Californian town... had meant a lot to her. It had been her first Christmas within the family circle, albeit not her own. She fondly remembered the Parcheesi games with Joyce and Dawn. Of course they had let little Dawn win to preserve the Christmas peace in the Summers house.
Two wonderful Christmases in her life... whose shine had in retrospect been robbed by similar circumstances and had left her with two sore spots in her heart. The similar circumstances could be labeled with one word: death.
As pleasant as the memories were, as painful were the thoughts about her watcher and about Joyce, two of the people she associated with the good sides of Christmas.
And this was the reason she nowadays avoided anything that had to do with this specific holiday. And she would have done this in Slayer Central; there she could have escaped this Christmas hubbub.
The person that apparently liked having this chaos around her faced her with a partly amused, partly sorrowful smile. "You mean 'Chanukkah', and this year we celebrated it early December already," Willow explained to Faith, who had left her spot on the doorpost and didn't seem as annoyed now. "And Christmas...," she paused briefly, contemplating if she should let Faith in on this secret. Maybe Faith would find her reasoning moronic. She regarded the questioning face. But maybe not. "You know," she lowered the spoon she had just used to mix the ingredients in the bowl together and turned fully towards Faith. "At this time of year, I like to remember special moments. Good old times, even if that sounds corny. Back then there was Buffy, Xand, me, Dawnie, Giles... Anya... Joyce...". Willow sighed, inaudibly for a normal human, but loud enough for a slayer to hear. "Tara".
Willow didn't have to say more to make her Christmania understandable to Faith. As soon as the name 'Anya' had left the redhead's lips, Faith had been able to follow her line of thoughts.
And she understood. Their respective arrangements for Christmas, as different as they were, they undertook for similar reasons. But whereas Faith tried to block out all her memories related to this festivity, Willow revived them every year.
One more circumstance distinguishing these two very unlike characters.
Her eyes met the redhead's and she nodded, showing sympathy. The way things were looking now, she couldn't deny Willow her need for a Christmas vibe in this lonely cabin. And she wouldn't.
"So... if you want... I'll help you with this Christmas thing, okay?" she asked encouragingly, because Willow's face slowly started to show a musing look. A look all too familiar to her; her own face having worn it many times. A look she didn't like to see.
Her suggestion seemed to have the desired effect, however, since a few seconds later Willow's face broke in a hesitant, yet hopeful smile.
Of course the decorative means in the cabin were limited and hardly suited any Christmas intentions. But they managed.
After Faith had fought her way through the heaps of snow piling up outside to snap some small branches from the trees, they had built a makeshift Christmas tree. They decorated the little twigs with some of Willow's freshly baked and – even Faith had to admit this – pretty yummy cookies. A fire was lit in the fireplace and thus created a fairly cozy ambiance.
Snuggled into separate blankets, they got comfortable on the couch of the main room and and watched TV – luckily the antenna was equally undamaged as the phone line. And thus they could rejoice in the usual suspects: A Christmas Carol, The Little Match Girl and of course The Grinch, who now held the reputation of a Christmas grouch alone.
When it got dark, the mood got lighter. There was laughter and anecdotes – of the non-Christmassy variety.
But then one of the two women had an idea... An idea that would give this night an unexpected turn.
to be continued - tomorrow!
A/N: Reviews are always welcome ;)