Holiday Spirit

Author notes: This takes place during Season three, post Choices, pre Graduation Day pt 1.

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

As Faith relaxed back against the comfortable-yet-stylish couch, a couch which of course nicely matched the room's tasteful décor and came with a loveseat and throw as well to complete the ensemble, she kept her eyes cast towards the TV before her without really paying attention to its showings. On the screen a black and white Jimmy Stewart ran frantically about the snowy streets of George Bailey's hometown, having had his wish to never have been born granted, and receiving now in an Ebenezer Scrooge fashion a supernatural showing of the results that would have occurred had this been true. Faith had wished for the very same thing on more than one occasion; still, the movie failed to capture her full interest, and her thoughts drifted. She was very aware of the fully engaged, eagerly smiling presence of Mayor Richard Wilkins III beside her, and it was him, rather than any antics of Jimmy/George, that she found herself focusing on.

It was nearly May, hardly the time of the year that most would watch old Christmas movies, but of course, that had not mattered to Faith's boss. The moment he had realized from one casual comment of hers that Faith had never seen the movie It's A Wonderful Life, he had gasped, utterly appalled.

"Never saw It's A Wonderful Life before? Why, the Christmas season is not complete without viewing the story of George Bailey's discovery of love and Christmas spirit- and of course, a little ritual sacrifice, but that's a lesson for another day. Well, Faith, this simply won't do," he had exclaimed, shaking his head. "You will not be dismissed tonight, young lady, until you have witnessed that movie in the proper context of the Christmas season!"

"Christmas ain't coming for eight months yet, Boss," Faith had pointed out, raising an eyebrow, but the Mayor was not to be deterred.

"Christmas is all year round when you have the heart and spirit for it- and gingerbread cookies!" he declared, and he aimed at Faith one of the overly happy, cheesy, yet somehow endearing smiles she was beginning to grow accustomed to…even fond of. "Come along, Faith, where is your holiday spirit?"

Buried somewhere back in December, along with all the other hopes she had lost along the way, was Faith's unspoken reply. But Wilkins had stood for the no other response than yes, and she had gone with him to her apartment to prepare- for according to him, they could not simply watch the rented video without "getting in the mood" first. He had made hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, gingerbread cookies, and used holly berry napkins and candy cane mugs, laying actual candy canes alongside them. He had put on a tie with bells on it, and made Faith, to her own disbelief, put on a knit hat with a bell on top. The only reason she hadn't promptly thrown it in the trash was the stern look he had given her at the face she had made, and because it had so closely resembled the look in his eyes when he spoke of how trying it would be to replace her as well as Mr. Trick.

And then he had topped it all off by handing her a small bell rather like the one on her hat and his tie. When she stared at it in bemusement, rolling it around in her hand, and asked what it was for, Wilkins had beamed and shook his head.

"You'll see, Faith- it's an essential part of this holiday experience. Why, watching It's A Wonderful Life without a bell is like not washing your hands after cutting someone's torso open- quite appalling! It simply won't do! Now, enjoy your cocoa and watch this with the proper holiday spirit!"

And Faith had, with amusement just as much as embarrassment. Her boss was one weird, corny guy…but she wasn't about to tell him no. And really, she didn't even want to.

Sitting with him now, in the apartment he had bought for her, on the couch he had bought for her, looking at the TV he had bought for her and sipping at the cocoa he had made for her, Faith snuck a glance over at him, observing him carefully. Wilkins' eyes were fixed on the screen; he was leaning forward slightly with sparking eyes and a delighted smile, all for this ancient, silly, black and white movie that really wasn't even all that interesting. Faith looked at him, and felt a quick swelling in her of such sudden and strong love towards him that she had to swallow and look away. But when she turned her head slightly towards him again, she felt her lips curve softly into a faint smile.

She had an urge to kiss Wilkins. Not with the passion of a lover, but with the affection of a sister to her brother…a daughter to her father. She wanted to lean her head against his shoulder and feel his arm circle her, to see him smile down at her with pride and affection. She wanted to feel warm and safe near him, touching him…she wanted to feel small and young and taken care of, treasured and cherished like a daughter, like a beloved child. She wanted to be a child as she had never been, even back when she was one in reality.

She wanted to be loved. More than anything Faith wanted to be loved for who she was, who she could be. And she wanted Wilkins to be the one to love her.

She did not kiss or cuddle him or any of the other actions she felt urges to carry out, nor did she even touch him, but she did move closer, enough so that they almost did touch shoulders. The end of the movie was drawing near, and Wilkins chuckled, not appearing to notice her proximity as he spoke.

"That Zuzu! What a character!"

When the bell ornament rang on the Baileys' Christmas tree, and George's child said that it meant an angel was getting its wings, Wilkins turned to Faith with a wide smile, gesturing to the bell he had given her earlier as he picked up his own.

"This is it, Faith! Ring your bell with me, and somewhere, two more angels will get their wings! Come on now!"

As Faith looked at him, a different Angel came into her thoughts…Angel, and Buffy. She could just picture them staring at her, the disgust and judgment in their eyes, and she forcefully tried to shove them out of her mind. They couldn't touch this. They couldn't understand what she had with Wilkins, and they didn't need to. What did she care what they thought anyway?

It didn't matter who Wilkins was or what he did. It didn't matter what he wanted from her or what he asked. It didn't matter what she herself was or what she had to do, as long as she could stand at his side as his employee, his best kept weapon…his family. If she could have that…if she could be that…

Well, Faith would kill for it. Literally.

Letting a small smile cross her lips, Faith gave the bell a shake. If somewhere one angel was getting his wings…well, she knew of one angel and one Slayer that were headed for a fall.