Disclaimer: Jingle Bells, lack of ownership smells, but I couldn't afford it anyway. Fox's executive head would order me dead, and then I would be slay - ed!
Disclaimer to the Disclaimer: Note that the above disclaimer is only effective when sung aloud.
Angel stretched out on his couch, a copy of Dickens in one hand, a tall glass of blood in the other. A fire crackled enthusiastically in the fireplace. The vampire was supposedly reading, but his eyes kept skipping from line to line until the misadventures of David – no, Oliver – or was it Pip? – got well and truly scrambled in his head. Angel set book and blood on the floor and closed his eyes. After the night he'd had, he definitely deserved a nap.
Groaning, Angel didn't bother opening his eyes. Couldn't they leave him alone for one day? Just one day? It wasn't that much to ask, was it?
"Hey," repeated the voice.
Eyes still shut, he heard heavy boots tramp across his living room. The owner of the voice sat down on his other couch. Reluctantly accepting that she wasn't going to leave, Angel opened his eyes. "Faith, go away."
The brunette Slayer lay sprawled on Angel's couch, her heavy combat boots dangling over the arm. She was dressed conservatively in a pair of worn jeans and a long-sleeved red shirt with a black tank underneath. Faith stared at Angel with open curiosity. "Merry Christmas."
The vampire groaned again. He was starting to wish he'd stuck with Dickens. "Faith, I had a long night."
"That's what B said. I guess she thought I deserved the story, since I was up watching Joyce all last night. I'm thinking she might have left out some of the juicy details, though."
"Is that why you're here?" Angel picked up his blood and drank deeply. "You wanted to hear about how the crazy vampire tried to off himself?"
"Just a little. Mostly I came over 'cause I'm bored and I figured you'd be alone."
"I didn't realize you cared." It came out snappish and angry. Angel was sick of these Slayers messing with his life.
"No one should be alone on Christmas," Faith said quietly.
Angel instantly softened. She wasn't just talking about him. She probably would have been alone today, too. He couldn't see her spending the day at the Summers', no matter how good Joyce's cooking was.
"Anyway, your place is nicer than mine, and I thought you might have a TV or something. My cable keeps going out." She glanced around the large room. "But I guess I was wrong about that." Angel just looked at her. "So can I stay?"
He didn't really want company. Christmas wasn't exactly a big holiday for vampires, and Angel needed sleep. But he knew it must have cost her to ask. He also knew Faith was probably much lonelier than she let on. Sighing, he acquiesced. "Sure, you can stay."
A slight smile lit the Slayer's face. "Thanks." She meant it. "So what do you want to do?"
"That isn't very Christmassy."
"I'm a vampire. Vampires don't celebrate Christmas."
"Well, what did you used to do for Christmas? Back when you were human, I mean."
"You know, I can hardly remember. It all seems so faint now. There are pieces that stick out, painfully bright against the rest of it. My mother's eyes. Katherine's smile. My father lecturing me. The night I was turned. Everything else seems to run together. It fades more and more with every day."
"Why don't you write it all down? The stuff you still remember. Then when you forget, you could go back and read it."
Angel sat up. "That's a good idea."
"No need to sound so surprised. I do get them every once in a while. C'mon." Faith got to her feet. "Let's go make a snowman."
"How often do you get snow in Southern California? C'mon, big guy. We have to go play in it." She extended her hand.
Rolling his eyes, Angel took it. "How old are you?" he asked as they walked to the door.
Faith raised an eyebrow. "Why do you want to know?"
"Just curious. " They stepped out into the snow. It was barely two inches thick and melting quickly, although the sun was still hidden behind a layer of clouds.
With a shout, Faith jumped on Angel's back and knocked the unsuspecting vampire into the snow. She leapt off before he could retaliate, then stood back to admire her handiwork.
"What the h#$ was that for?" Angel demanded through a mouthful of snow, spitting and spluttering.
Faith grinned wolfishly. "I wanted to make a snow angel."
"Oh?" Angel reached out and grabbed the girl's ankle. He yanked her down and rubbed a fistful of snow in her face. "Well, now we have a snow Faith – or whatever you'd be called."
She struggled to get free, but Angel didn't relax his grip. He had no desire to be shoved in the snow again.
"Let me go!"
He ignored her. "What did your family do for Christmas?"
Faith jerked loose. Her eyes went hard and blank. If eyes were the windows to the soul, someone had just closed the shutters on Faith's. "Depends," she said woodenly. "Depended on how much booze my mom'd had, which loser she was screwing at the time, how much trouble I was in. Christmas could be great, or it could be terrible. Some years it was just me and her. We'd make cookies and decorate our tree – one of the little Charlie Brown kind, you know? – and sing Christmas carols. She had the most beautiful voice, when she wasn't drunk. Other years I'd be hiding in my closet listening to her fight with her latest boyfriend, praying for them to go away. I don't pray anymore," she added softly.
Angel looked at Faith. She disturbed him, this girl. He hardly knew her, but every so often she would drop her hard, jaded woman of the world shell, just for him, and he saw through to the hurt child within. Whenever she was around, Angel felt a strange mixture of exasperation, confusion, and pity.
"I'm sorry," he said inadequately.
"Just the way things are." Faith stood and brushed the snow off her jeans. "This is a miserable excuse for Christmas snow."
"Faith, this is California."
"Pfft. In Boston, we" –
"Boston? Ha! I'll have ye know that I'm from Eirelan', lass." Angel dropped into an impossibly thick Irish brogue. Faith couldn't keep from smiling. "An' in Eireland in the good ol' days, there'd be snow piled higher than yer windowsill, and great wolves howlin' 'bout your doors of a Christmas Eve, and that ain't the 'alf of it . . "
Faith followed Angel back into the mansion, listening happily as he crafted a tale of magical Christmases long, long ago.
A/N: Please review! And have a merry Christmas!