Disclaimers: Joss Whedon and Mutant enemy own all rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the characters therein. I am only test-driving them.
Feedback: Yes please. firstname.lastname@example.org Don't make me beg…cause I will.
Spoilers: Everything up to season 6x17
Story: Set ten years into the future, the Scoobies enjoy the holidays.
The sunlight filtered through the curtains just enough to hit Willow in the face. She groaned her protest and tried to inch further under the protective cover of the heavy down comforter. As she reached across the bed to wrap her arm around her lovers' waist, she was surprised to find the spot empty. Flipping the cover down from her face she stared at the empty space next to her. "Tara?" she asked quietly to no one.
Willow sat up in bed and her bare feet brushed across a warm patch of fur. Peeking under the covers, she spied Miss Kitty. "Hey you…where's your mommy?" she asked the purring feline. Her only response was the cat yawning widely and shaking itself awake. Miss Kitty Fantastico jumped down from the bed and walked to the door of their room. Scratching, she made it perfectly clear that she was ready to go find quieter places to sleep. Willow smiled at the cat and reached the door handle from the relative comfort of her warm bed. "There you go, lazybones." She spoke as the cat flitted through the crack in the door.
Willow slowly surveyed the room. Everything was just as she and Tara had left it the night before, except Tara's robe was missing from the hook on the closet door. Tara was probably up at the crack of dawn. She loved the mornings. Willow sighed. "Guess I should get up too." She resolved, pulling herself from the warm comfort of her bed.
Slipping on her down robe, Willow walked down the stairs leading to the plush and beautifully decorated living room. Silver bows and beads were strung around the room. Along with real boughs of holly, they were simple yet tasteful.
Willow smiled. She was Jewish and Tara was Wicca. Many times, they had been asked why the celebrated Christmas. Tara always smiled and shrugged her shoulders. She always said the same thing…Willow loved Christmas. So they would celebrate it. Every year, without fail, they would decorate the house. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day the house had a mingled smell of incense and cinnamon. She loved it. And Tara loved doing it for Willow.
As she moved through the living room, her eyes shifted to the tree. It was a potted fir tree and Tara had seven of them planted in the yard, from past Christmas'. This would be the eighth. The tree was trimmed in silver and blue bows and sprayed with white frost. It was beautiful and it was stuffed. The bottom bough's had been pushed up with various gifts. Willow fought the urge to peek at her gifts. She smiled and hurried to the kitchen.
Tara was busy at the stove. The smell of Tara's famous pancakes hit Willow as she entered the room. Willow looked at the table and saw a plate with several pancakes on it. They were little triangles, which Willow had been convinced tasted much better than regular old round pancakes. Walking up behind her lover, Willow wrapped her arms around Tara's waist. "Morning." She whispered in the blondes' ear.
Tara smiled and leaned into willow's arms. "Hey there sleepyhead. You sleep ok?" Tara asked.
Willow nodded. "Yep…but I woke up all cold and missing you." She smiled, kissing her lovers ear. Tara shivered at Willows hot breath scalding her earlobe. "Care to explain yourself, missy?" she asked, nibbling on Tara's neck.
"Well..y-you were..oh goddess…so peaceful looking and I didn't want to…um.." she closed her eyes and leaned into Willow's lips. Losing herself in Willows kisses she hummed as Willow paid full attention to Tara's soft skin and sloping neck. "Tara?" Willow breathed into Tara's ear. Tara sighed and leaned further back, missing Willow's lips. "Hmmm?" She mumbled. Willow smiled. "You're burning the pancakes."
Tara's eyes snapped open and she grabbed the pan. "Oh goddess…" she hurriedly scraped the burned triangles out of the pan. "Vixen." She turned to Willow after putting the pan in the sink. Wrapping her arms around Willow's neck she leaned in and kissed her lover deeply.
Willow sank into Tara's kiss, lingering in the feeling of her soft, full lips. Tara broke the kiss much to Willow's chagrin. "Sit and eat… I'm going to get ready." Tara turned and nimbly escaped her lovers grasping hands.
Willow pouted. "But I wanna eat with you." She protested.
Tara smiled a half smile that always melted Willow's resolve. "I'll be quick." She promised, looking over her shoulder. "Besides…" she continued as Willow began pouring the homemade maple syrup on her pancakes, " everyone will be here soon." And she went up the stairs.
Willow stopped and looked wide-eyed, the forkful of Triangle cakes she had just put in her mouth sitting there not chewed. She pulled the fork out and chewed hurriedly on the bite and swallowed. She ran up the stairs and pushed the door open leading to the spacious bathroom.
"Willow?" Tara asked from the shower.
"Yeah…" Willow called, stripping her robe and nightgown. "I just figured we could…you know, conserve water." She slid the door open and stepped into the hot shower, steam rolling out of the door. "Hi." She smiled to Tara, who was already covered in water and lather from the body wash she was using.
Tara just smirked. "Conserve water?" she queried, her eyebrow rising mischievously. "Since when did you become such a conservationist?" she asked, slipping the bottle of body wash off of the shelf and opening the cap. She squeezed the thick, lavender wash onto a puffy sponge. "Here…" she reached up and rubbed the cool gel onto Willow's shoulder. Willow shuddered at the touch as Tara began to wash. Gently scrubbing the sponge in wider circles and traveling lower on Willow's body, Tara never broke contact with Willow's eyes.
Willow shuddered at feeling Tara's hands wash her neck, shoulders and chest. Turning Willow around, Tara began washing her lovers back. The touch was gentle yet firm, slowly and deliberately scrubbing every inch of Willow from her shoulders to her hips. Willow shivered as Tara's hand crossed her waistline and began the deliberate task of washing Willows bottom and kneeled down to start on her long, slender legs.
Tara gazed up and smiled at Willows reaction to her constant pressure. Willow shuddered and a low moan escaped her lips. Standing up, Tara turned her lover around and gazed into Willow's eyes. Her pupils were dilated and her breath was ragged.
"T-Tara…" Willow began, but Tara placed a finger on Willow's lips and smiled.
"Shhh…" she smiled. Tara leaned foreword and kissed Willow softly, barely brushing the surface of her trembling lips. Willow's orgasm came quickly and without warning.
Tara smiled and held up the sponge. "Now…you do me." She raised her eyebrow expectantly. A predatory smile grew from Willow's mouth. Growling, she knocked the sponge away and wrapped Tara in a fierce embrace, kissing her passionately. Tara laughed inside and returned the kiss.
Tara finished brushing her long, blond hair and turned to Willow. "How do I look?" she asked nervously. Willow smiled and walked over to Tara, fastening her earring as she walked.
"Tara…you are beautiful." She smiled and kissed Tara.
"I think you have a biased opinion." Tara smiled. Reaching down, Tara scooped up a fuzzy second opinion.
"Well, Miss Kitty?" she asked. Miss Kitty Fantastico meowed and batted at Tara's earrings, purring.
Willow laughed. "See…I told you." Willow turned and walked to the bedroom door, opening it. "Come on…"she held out her hand to Tara. "We need to greet our guests." Tara took Willow's hand and stood.
"After you, my love." She spoke softly, following Willow out the door and down the stairs.
Willow walked down the stairs and through the living room into the kitchen. She turned and gazed at Tara.
Tara was wearing a simple white gown accented with silver beading and white mother of pearl inlays. It flowed down to her ankles and swept the floor. Her hair was done up with white flowers and pearls.
In short…she looked like and angel. Willow smiled at Tara. Sometimes she couldn't believe her luck. After all that happened over the years…her addiction to magic, her betrayal of Tara's trust, Gile's death, Buffy's THIRD death…and miraculous comeback…just how many lives did that girl have? Willow's face scrunched in thought.
"Honey?" Tara asked, snapping Willow back to the present. "Do I have something on my face?" she asked nervously wiping her face. Willow smiled and reached her hand out. "No love…just thinking about how lucky I am."
Tara smiled and closed her eyes, leaning into Willow's hand. Holding it to her cheek, Tara turned and kissed Willow's palm before letting go. "You always amaze me."
"Ahem…" came a polite cough from behind the two lovers. "Hi William." Willow spoke without turning from Tara.
"Well hello to you too, Red." William said, brushing past the two. "And the names Spike…" he smiled and leaned over, kissing Tara on the cheek and then Willow.
"Buffy said your name is William, and we should call you William." Tara said letting go of Willow's hand. Spike shook his head.
"Bloody hell…" he mumbled, turning to the table and flopping down.
"Where is she?" Willow asked.
"She said she was going to meet Xander and Anya at the airport. She'll be along.." he spoke, pulling a dusty bottle from his coat. He handed the bottle to Tara.
"Thank you…looks old." Tara replied taking the bottle. Spike grinned and shook his head.
"Don't worry, luv. It's mine." He smiled.
Tara grinned at him. "I know…just commenting." She opened the refrigerator door and placed the bottle into the wine rack.
"Thank you William…but you didn't have to bring anything." Willow sat next to him. "How are you and Buffy?" she asked.
Spike smiled and leaned back. Buffy and Spike had been a couple for the last four years. "We're doing good." He sighed. "But she took Giles' death really hard." Willow drew her lips tight.
They had all taken Giles' death hard. He was in England, the head of a branch of Watchers. They were training a new Slayer when disaster struck. A vampire nest had moved into town and Giles took the new slayer to wipe it out. When he was with Buffy, he was not exactly a spring chicken. But he was just a little too slow this time. The new slayer was exceptional. Her speed and strength was top notch. But she lacked experience, and it had cost Giles his life. Buffy didn't hold a grudge with the new slayer…but the girl took it hard.
Willow nodded and looked down. This would be the first Christmas without Giles. Spike looked at Willow. "Now, now luv…no sad eyes here today." Spike reached over and touched Willow's arm. Willow looked at Spike and smiled.
"Thanks William…I'm ok." She smiled tight-lipped. Spike stood and walked to the fridge. "All I'm saying is, Buffy has gotten out of a dark place…she's much better now." Spike opened the door and pulled a jar from the rack. Pouring the thick fluid into a mug, he went to the microwave and heated it.
"I mean, she was really down." He continued. "She still feels his loss, sometimes. Late at night when she thinks I'm sleeping…but I can feel it…" he took the mug out and tasted it. Tara walked up behind Spike and slowly turned him around. Tears were moving down his face.
"You miss him too, don't you William…" she asked.
Spike stiffened and started to protest, but stopped himself. Lying to Tara was an exercise in futility. She could always read him. "Sometimes." He whispered quietly.
"He was just coming to terms with me and Buffy…"
Tara wrapped him in a hug, followed by Willow. Spike squeezed the two witches and smiled. He was finally accepted….finally able to be with them, and not merely in their presence. Giles was the last hurdle. Even Xander caved when he saw how happy Buffy was, and when his own children took to calling him…
"Uncle Spike!!!" Two shrill voices pierced the air. Tara spun and smiled broadly. Willow scooped up one of the two children.
"Aunt Tara…Aunt Willow!!" The children hugged the two girls but they quickly squirmed away. "Uncle Spike!!" They called. Spike smiled and scooped them up.
"Well now…Jessie and Michelle." He kissed them each in turn.
Jessie beamed. He was four and had wavy black hair, just like his father. Michelle had long, thick black tresses and was only six minutes younger.
Anya had complained endlessly throughout the pregnancy but her complaints ended when she saw her children. She had loved both of her children dearly.
"Show us, Uncle Spike…show us." Jessie begged. Spike just shook his head. Xander had accepted the fact that Spike wasn't as big of a scumbag as he had thought…but he didn't like this.
"Sorry kiddies…but your ol dad hates it…you know that." He set the two down, much to their chagrin.
"Hey now…what's with all the gloom?" Xander walked into the room holding an infant.
"Oh my goddess…Xander!!" Willow rushed over to him. Xander beamed and handed the baby over to Willow.
"Easy Will…the head, get the head. Don't spin…you might drop her.." Xander smiled as he watched Willow take the baby.
"Xander…I am sure Willow knows full well how to take care of a baby." Anya walked into the room. She looked radiant. Her hair was long and waving, dropping just below her shoulders. She walked over to Xander and kissed him. "I think the kids want to see his Vampire face." She smiled at him. Xander scowled and looked at Spike.
"Hey…I said no…" Spike held his hands up and backed away, smiling.
Xander sighed and shook his head. "Just once…" he finally said. The kids squealed and stared at Spike. He smiled and cleared his throat.
A confused look spread across his face. The children looked at him expectantly. Nothing.
"Hold on…" he muttered and shook his head. The children stared.
"Aw bugger…I can't do it while you watch…" he sighed. Xander snickered.
"Can't do what?" Buffy's voice called from the living room. Walking into the kitchen, Buffy smiled and passed hugs around. Picking up the twins she kissed each one in turn.
"Is that the cutest little girl?" she squealed running to Willow and Tara, who were cooing at the new baby, much to the child's delight.
"What's her name?" Tara asked as Anya walked over beside them.
"Well…I wanted to name her after Halfreck." She smiled. Tara raised an eyebrow. "But Xander had another idea." She looked over to Xander and he smiled.
"Ladies…say hello to Miss Willow Anne Harris." He said.
Both Buffy and Willow turned to Xander and then back to the baby. Willow raised a hand to her mouth and started to cry.
"Oh Xander…" she smiled broadly. Buffy walked over to Xander and hugged him fiercely. Xander hugged her back.
"Buffy." He said softly.
"Yeah." Buffy replied quietly, tears welling in her eyes.
"Slayer strength." Xander coughed. Buffy jumped back and smiled.
"Sorry." She spoke, wiping her eyes. Spike walked over and leaned down to kiss Buffy on the forehead. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around Spike's waist. Willow rushed up to Xander and hugged him.
"Xander…I don't know…what to say…I mean…" her babble was cut short as tears streamed down her face.
Tara walked up behind Willow and hugged her from behind.
Willow turned and clung to Tara. "He named his little girl after me…" she spoke quietly as they went to sit down. Tara looked at Xander and smiled, he was beet red.
"So…when does everyone else get here?" Spike asked. Tara looked at the clock.
"They should be here soon." She replied.
As if on cue, the doorbell rang. Jessie ran to the door, followed by Michelle. "We'll get it!!"
The sound of the door opening was followed quickly by squeals of delight.
Spike rolled his eyes and sighed. "Well…it was a party." Buffy slugged him playfully in the stomach.
"Play nice." She frowned at him…then leaned up to kiss him.
"Just havin' a bit of sport, luv." He smiled, kissing her back "I'm good if you are." He whispered to her.
They had told Angel of their relationship early on, but they had never dealt with it personally.
Buffy squeezed Spike's hand and smiled. "I'm good…" she looked into his eyes and sighed. " You ready?"
Tara and Willow walked hand in hand into the living room. Cordelia was on her knees, hugging the twins. She was beaming and looked beautiful, as usual. She had several large bags with her, all filled to capacity with wrapped presents. Willow's smile was tight lipped and tense. She had not had Cordey in her house…ever. And since Cordelia was a constant thorn in Willow's side for most of her life, Willow was understandably nervous. Tara sensed her lover's hesitation and squeezed her hand. It will be ok. Tara said in Willows mind.
Willow smiled and looked into Tara's eyes. "I know." She whispered, squeezing back. Cordelia looked up and smiled at Tara.
"Hi Tara." She said, reaching out her hand. Tara clasped it and Cordelia stood up. "Thank you for inviting us." She said to Tara, then turned to Willow.
"Hello Willow." She said, looking down. Cordelia looked over her former nemesis. She had grown into a stunning woman. She had radiant red hair, and piercing green eyes. She had come a long way from high school. Cordelia mentally slapped herself.
She was such a bitch in school. She always picked on Willow and Xander and Buffy when she moved to Sunnydale. She was surprised by the invitation to Christmas from Tara. It was addressed to all the gang at Angel Investigations, which meant Cordelia as well.
At first, she didn't want to go. Too much had happened between her and the scoobies, too much bad blood. But Angel had insisted, and Cordelia agreed.
"Hey Cordey." Willow smiled. It was obviously a front. Cordelia moved foreword and hugged Willow, awkwardly. Willow stiffened for a second, and then hugged Cordey back.
"I am so sorry." Cordey whispered to Willow. Moving back, she wiped her eyes, which were beginning to mist. "I should have told you that a long time ago." She said softly, looking at everyone. Buffy just smiled and Tara squeezed Willow's hand.
"Welcome to our home, Cordelia." Tara spoke softly. The chimes rang and Cordey spun.
"Oh…I forgot everyone…" she stammered as Xander opened the door. A large black man in a Santa Claus hat stood there, his arms laden with wrapped gifts.
"Ho, Ho, Ho." He said. He walked in and Xander took some of the gifts from him. "Thanks man." The man replied.
"Hey there." Said a small woman from behind the large man. She was small and had long, curly brown hair. "I'm Fred, this is Gunn." She hooked her arm in the large man's arm.
"Hey." Gunn said, reaching his hand out to Xander. Xander shook it and smiled.
"Hi. I'm Xander." He smiled.
Gunn laughed and looked at Cordelia. "Not THE Xander?" he asked.
Cordelia turned red and nodded, glaring at Gunn. "Yes. THE Xander." She hissed, a smile playing on her lips. Gunn shook harder and clapped Xander on the shoulder.
"I heard a lot about you, man." He said, letting go. "Glad to finally put a name to the face.
Anya stepped up beside Xander and looked at Gunn. "I'm Anya…I'm Xander's wife." She said the last part, looking directly at Cordelia. Cordelia just sighed.
"Hey now, kiddies, let's not forget about moi." Said a new voice from outside the door as Xander was closing it. A figure stepped in wearing an all white suit, which framed his green skin and red horns quite nicely.
"Hi. I'm Lorne." He said, extending a hand to Tara. Tara took his hand, not able to completely hide the surprise on her face. Lorne smiled and raised her hand to hip lips.
"Enchante, Madame." He smiled. Tara looked questioningly at Willow.
"I-I'm Tara." She stammered. Lorne let her hand go and smiled warmly.
"Nice digs, sweetie. Love the whole winter wonderland thing you got going." He spun, surveying the room.
"Hey…do I smell cookies?" he said, heading for the kitchen. Cordey smiled and watched him go. "That's Lorne." Introductions were made all around and Tara offered drinks.
Buffy nodded, taking the whole thing in. She was sitting on Spike's lap in one of the easy chairs. Cordelia, Gunn and Fred sat on the couch. Xander and Anya sat in the loveseat and Willow and Tara sat in the other chair, Willow on the arm, holding Tara's hand in her lap. "Hey?" Buffy asked.
"Where's Angel?" she looked out the door. The sun still up, so coming in the front door was out of the question.
"Maybe he came in the back." Willow stated. "Want me to go see?" she asked. Buffy shook her head.
"No…" she looked at Spike, seeing his jaw clench and she could almost hear his teeth grind. She gave his hand a squeeze and looked into his eyes.
"Hey." She spoke quietly. "Relax. I'm just wondering. It's you I love." She leaned down and gave him a tender kiss. Spike kissed her back, warmth spreading through him. He still got flashes when she said she loved him.
"Hey everyone." Came from the kitchen door. Everyone turned to see Angel standing in the doorway. Cordelia jumped up and ran over to him, throwing her arms around him.
"Angel!!" she breathed. Standing on her toes, she kissed Angel deeply. Angel gathered her in his arms and held her tightly, kissing her back.
Buffy looked open mouthed at the display. Spike smiled.
"Looks like we aren't the only one's to make an announcement." He smiled. Buffy grinned and leaned into Spike and kissed him. "Guess not." She smiled.
Willow squeezed Tara's hand and looked into her love's eyes. Tara nodded and moved to stand.
"We should get started on dinner." Tara announced.
Willow nodded and the two moved into the kitchen. Gunn and Fred merely looked at each other and stood to go outside.
Spike stood, looking at Angel and moved past him into the kitchen.
Cordelia let Angel go and looked at Buffy. "I'll leave you two to talk." And she moved into the kitchen.
"Buffy." Angel spoke softly, greeting Buffy. Buffy nodded her head and smiled lightly.
Tara pulled a bottle out of the refrigerator and handed it to Cordelia. Pulling the cork, Cordy sniffed the contents and scowled.
"Are we using this for something?" she asked Tara.
Tara nodded and gestured to the center island, at the circle there. "Pour it onto the plate." She spoke softly, still a little uneasy in the beautiful woman's presence.
Cordelia shrugged and started pouring the thick, red fluid out. Blood filled the plate and Tara sprinkled some herbs over the plate and reached for Willow.
Willow paused and looked to Tara, fear evident in her eyes. "Tara…" she started, her eyes pleading.
Tara walked over to her love and smiled. "It's ok, baby. All I need you to do is lend me some power." She brushed Willow's cheek. "I'll be doing the casting…not you." She reassured Willow.
Willow still looked scared. She hadn't cast any spells for over nine years. She had stayed away because of everything it had cost her. It almost cost her Tara, she had violated Tara's mind, and it took a lot to rebuild that trust. Tara had talked about wanting to try a couple of things this year, and Willow had agreed to help…but now she hesitated.
Tara smiled and lowered her hand. "If you don't want to…" she started. Willow smiled and shook her head.
"No…I will…it's just that…you know, I'm sorta scared. It's been awhile, you know." She mumbled, a scared smile on her lips.
Tara took her hand, leading Willow to the table. "Willow…if you're not ready…I don't want to pressure you." Tara looked deeply into Willow's eyes, concern etched in her face. Willow looked terrified.
Tara let Willow's hand go. "Baby…I am so sorry…" tears were welling in Tara's eyes. "I never meant to…p-pressure you." Tara wiped her eyes and brushed Willow's cheek. "I would never force you…never pressure you…you know that." She said, making it a question.
Willow nodded, tears forming in her eyes. "I know baby…and I'm sorry….I thought I could." She shook her head. "But I don't know…."
Cordelia watched the whole affair and couldn't believe it. This was Willow. The awkward little girl she used to pick on in high school was gone. Here, in her place, was a beautiful woman so deeply in love and so deeply loved that it warmed her to simply be around it. Just watching the two witches, Cordelia knew that either one would lay down her life for the other. The love she felt was palpable, thick in the air. Without thinking she spoke. "I'll do it." She said softly.
Tara turned and looked at Cordelia. "What?" she asked, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"I said I'd do it." Cordelia repeated. "I mean, I'm no witch, but you said you would be doing the casting." She smiled. "I mean…al you need is like, a battery, right?"
Tara smiled slightly. "You don't have to, Cordelia. I can try the spell myself." She assured Cordelia.
Willow shook her head slightly, her brow furrowing. "No. You can't, it's to dangerous." She protested.
Tara just smiled. "It's not dangerous, it's draining. There's a difference." She moved to the table and closed her eyes.
Willow watched the events carefully, old memories springing to the forefront of her mind. Proper procedures, power flows, incantations…it all sprang to the front of her mind. She watched as Tara prepared the spell.
Tara reached into herself and tapped the power she held in reserve. Feeling the magic swell, she asked, no begged the power to help form the magic needed. The light inside of her flared and demanded payment. Tara offered herself, and the power accepted, pulling strength from Tara's body. The light flared again and formed into the necessary spell, which Tara then released.
Willow watched as Tara chanted, not aware of the inner struggle Tara was going through. But she remembered well the struggle that came with wielding the magic. Tara would ask, the power would demand a price; Tara would pay it and ask again. Willow frowned as she remembered when she went wrong. She demanded the power do her bidding. She didn't ask, she demanded. Coercion, Tara called it. She never coerced the power, Tara always asked. Willow was the dark one. She was the one that used power; Tara worked with it. But it would cost her, cost her in personal energies. She would open herself up to whatever otherworldly source that granted her the spell, and it would tap her energy. It could take as much or as little as it wanted and Tara would be hard pressed to stop it.
Cordelia watched Tara work the spell and awaited the result. She wasn't a witch, not even close. But growing up in Sunnydale and being around the scoobies and then being a part of Angel Investigations, Cordelia had grown to know things. So she watched, the whole time seeing Willow worry. She was scared too, but not like Willow.
Willow wrung her hands. What if she needed help? She asked herself. What if she got hurt?
Tara released the spell energy and opened herself to the power. The power reached into her and drank deeply. Tara felt the energy leave her and keep going. Suddenly, the power got diverted and Tara felt another presence. It was powerful, full of energy. The power that fed her the spell dived in and drank deeply, it sated its thirst and the new source had not even dimmed. Opening her eyes she was aware of a hand in hers. Looking over she saw Willow grasping her hand. She smiled and squeezed.
Willow opened her eyes and smiled at Tara, a sheen of sweat covered her brow. Tara smiled back and looked at the circle. In the place of the blood, sat a plate of steaming food. Roasted turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade stuffing and candied yams. It all looked delicious and smelled better.
"Oh yummy!!" Cordelia reached over and dipped her finger into the gravy and tasted it. Her face full and she looked like she was going to vomit. She ran to the sink and spit. Blood hit the sink and Cordelia turned on the faucet, rinsing her mouth out. "What the hell was that?" she asked, turning to Tara and Willow.
Tara smiled. "It was a transmutation spell. I..." she looked at Willow "We turned the blood into another shape, in this case a Christmas dinner." She beamed.
Cordelia just stared. "Ok…I'll bite...Why?" she asked. She grabbed a towel and wiped her mouth. She wasn't mad, just surprised.
Tara looked at Willow and smiled. Willow spoke.
"Well, we figured that both Angel and S…William, get tired of sitting at the table watching everyone eat and they have to drink from mugs. So we decided to make this." She gestured to the plate. "It looks like, smells like and acts like a normal plate of food, but when you put it into your mouth it reverts back to blood." She smiled proudly.
Cordelia smiled and nodded. "That was really sweet…" she said softly. Willow took Tara's hand and smiled
"It was all Tara's Idea." She said proudly. Willow leaned forward and kissed Tara. Tara only smiled and squeezed Willows hand, kissing her back. "It was nothing, really." She said, breaking the kiss.
Cordelia shook her head. "No…it is defiantly something. It was thoughtful, caring and very, very sweet." She said smiling. "They will be so surprised." Her brow furrowed. "Should we put this in the oven to keep it warm?" she asked.
Tara shook her head. "No, it's fine if it stays in the circle." She said. "But we should set the table because dinner is ready." She moved to the cupboard and pulled out several plates. Willow moved to the drawer and started pulling flatware.
"What can I do?" Cordelia asked, surprising Willow.
Spike sat in the tunnel under the house and smoked. He was worried, it was that simple. Looking out of the grate he surveyed the road leading to the secluded home and sighed. He was jealous of Angel, he was Buffy's first love and she was now talking to him about her relationship with him. Flicking the cigarette away, he sighed. He saw the cab pull up and smiled. Finally, someone else to distract him.
Dawn stepped from the cab and paid the driver. Getting her bags from the trunk she waved the driver away. Waiting until the cab left, Spike called to Dawn.
Dawn heard the voice and walked over to the grating. Kneeling Down, she peered in. She smiled when she saw the bleached head of her friend. "Spike?" she asked, pulling the grate open and dropping the bag down. She climbed down and hugged the vampire.
Spike hugged her back and looked at her. She was grown up now, twenty-five years old and a doctor. She still had long hair, but it was pulled back into a tight ponytail. Her eyes still danced and she still smiled. That was what had struck Spike the most. After all that happened to her, she still found joy in life.
Letting her go Spike smiled. "Well Little Bit...not so little anymore, eh?" he looked her over.
Dawn smiled and nodded. "What are you doing down here?" she asked, her brow furrowing. "Why aren't you upstairs?"
Spike frowned. "Buffy's up there talkin' to angel." he said softly. Dawn Laid a hand on his arm and smiled.
"You gonna be ok?" she asked. Spike smiled and nodded.
"I'll manage now that you're here, little bit." he cocked his head back to the house. "Want to go in, see what's for dinner?" Dawn smiled and nodded. Spike hefted her bags and grunted.
"God lord, don't any of you Summers' women pack lightly?" he complained. Dawn put her hands on her hips and squeaked her protest. Spike smiled.
The table was set and the three women looked at their work. Cordelia smiled and looked at the setting. It had been years since she sat down to a table for a meal like this. Oh sure, Angel, Gunn Fred and Lorne always did something on the holidays. But it usually involved takeout or a really bad meal. And it wasn't in an atmosphere like this…a homey atmosphere. She was really glad Angel had talked her into coming. Speaking of Angel, she hadn't heard any yelling or crashing noises from the living room.
She went in to check what was going on and stopped dead in her tracks. There in the middle of the room was Angel, Buffy wrapped in his arms with her head resting on his shoulder. A lump caught in her throat and she turned, heading back into the kitchen.
Dawn walked up the stairs and opened the door from the basement. She walked thru the pantry and into the kitchen. Seeing Willow and Tara in the kitchen she hurried her pace. "Merry Christmas!" she called, walking into the kitchen.
Willow spun and looked at Dawn, a huge smile spread across her face. "Dawnie!!" she rushed to Dawn and embraced her.
Tara hurriedly put the casserole she had just taken out of the oven on the counter top and rushed over to Dawn. She hugged the young woman after Willow let her go and led Dawn into the kitchen. "Why did you come in through the back?" she asked, letting Dawn go.
Dawn smiled and jerked her thumb backwards. "Someone had to help with the goodies." Spike walked thru the door and nodded.
"I'll put the presents under the tree…" he sighed, brushing past the three women. Cordelia almost knocked Spike over when she rushed back into the kitchen. Spike just twisted and continued on his way. Cordelia spun and called to him.
"Spike, wait…" she called to late. Spike entered the living room.
Spike stared transfixed at the scene before him. His mouth agape, he dropped the packages, causing Buffy to jump. Angel turned and closed his eyes. A scowl twisted his face and brought the demon forth.
Buffy stammered. "William…" she started to go to him. Reaching out her hand touching his arm, Spike jerked his arm away like he was burned. Staring at Buffy his expression went from hurt to angry and back. Spike shook his head and backed away.
"Bloody hell, mate," he said to Angel, who came to stand behind Buffy. "…you got the actress in there, couldn't leave the slayer alone though, could you?" Spike turned and stormed back through the kitchen heading out the back.
Buffy called after Spike, a panic filling her voice. "William…Spike!" she started after him. Angel grabbed her arm and stopped her.
"I'll go after him…you stay here." He sighed. "Sorry about all this, Buffy." He turned and rushed out the back.
Buffy walked slowly into the kitchen and saw her friends there. Willow and Tara both had confused looks on their faces. Dawn was equally confused, but Cordelia had venom in her eyes. She walked up to Buffy and stared her in the eyes.
"You couldn't let him be, could you?" she asked softly. With a speed that surprised Buffy Cordelia slapped Buffy hard across the face. Tears welled in her eyes and she stormed into the living room.
Dawn walked up to Buffy and with concern etched in her face. "What was that all about?" she asked.
Buffy just stared blankly. "I…William walked in and saw me hugging Angel…" she stammered.
Dawn rolled her eyes and sighed. "Oh boy…" she whispered. Buffy shook her head and scowled.
"We weren't doing anything…he just told me some good news." She said, turning to the living room. "Cordelia has the totally wrong idea." She walked into the living room and sought out Cordelia.
Tara turned to Willow, a concerned look on her face. "This isn't good." She whispered. Willow only nodded and clasped Tara's hand.
"I know…but it'll work out. It's Christmas." She smiled hopefully. Tara offered a weak smile and nodded.
Cordelia sat on the porch and wiped her eyes. All this time with Angel…she had come to trust and love him. She thought he loved her too, but in less than an hour Buffy became his world again. What was it with her? She was pretty, to be sure. Hell, she was gorgeous. But Angel had moved on. Buffy and he could never be a couple. That's why he moved to L.A. Cordy had moved to get out of Sunnydale. She had no idea Angel was even there. They had met totally by accident. She was down on her luck, things were harder in L.A. than in Sunnydale, but she was determined to stick it out. She had fallen to going to parties and wrapping the little sandwiches served at the party and taking them home. It was all she could afford after rent and utilities. Work was thin but she had many auditions lined up.
Then she saw Angel. A familiar face in the crowd. She was so excited, but she would never let him know that. She went to work for him at Angel Investigations and told herself it was only temporary until she got an acting job. Thirteen years later, she was still there. Angel and her had fallen in love. He had saved her life on countless occasions and had even taught her how to fight. She wasn't a slayer, but she could walk home at night alone without as much fear.
Buffy stood at the door and watched Cordelia. This was a side of the girl she had not seen before. It was a weak and frightened Cordelia. A far cry from the totally self-involved and in control girl that she knew in high school. She was intimidated by Buffy, and she had fallen in love with Angel. She knew how easy that was, Angel was easy to love.
Buffy opened the door and walked out onto the porch. She sat down next to Cordelia and waited. After a while Cordelia sniffed and looked at the horizon.
"I had forgotten how beautiful it was here." She whispered. Buffy nodded and spoke.
"Look, nothing was going on." She spoke softly. "Angel told me about what was happening, with you two." She smiled. "I was just congratulating him." She placed a hand on Cordilia's arm and smiled. Cordelia looked at Buffy, her eyes wide.
"You mean?" she asked. Buffy nodded. "You're not upset?" she wiped her eyes.
Buffy shook her head and smiled. "No…I'm happy for you both…really." Buffy leaned in and pulled Cordelia close, hugging her. Cordelia hugged back and Buffy spoke. "Now…let's go and eat." Buffy and Cordelia stood and walked back into the house.
Tara smiled when she saw the two girls enter the house. She nodded to the table and smiled. Dawn, Spike, Angel, Jessie, Michelle, Anya, Xander, Gunn, Fred and Willow were all seated around a large table. Spike and Angel each had a seat open next to them. Buffy walked around to Spike and sat down.
"Sorry luv…" he whispered. "I was out of line…" he was silenced with a kiss. Willow grinned and winked at Tara.
' Everyone's getting' smoochies but me' she complained to Tara. Tara smiled a mischievous grin. 'Later' came the reply. Willow's grin spread ear to ear.
The meal lasted for an hour or so, and Angel and Spike both enjoyed the experience of eating with the group. Buffy insisted on helping clean up and both Willow and Tara tried to talk her out of it. It was all for naught.
Buffy made short order of the dishes and made it to the living room for the presents. Everyone had many beautiful gifts, and everyone loved them. Tara stood and got everyone's attention.
Standing, she reached out to Willow, who stood and moved next to Tara. "We each got many beautiful gifts today, and I am sure we will all enjoy them. But Willow and I have another gift to bestow." She smiled and Willow took over.
"When we thought about what to get two certain people who had seen more Christmas night's then all of us put together, we were stumped. That's why you guys didn't get anything from us…" she smiled. "yet. But we hope you will like this." Willow nodded to Tara.
Tara's mouth curled in a smile and she sent her thoughts to Willow's mind. 'Are you sure you're up to this…I can do it alone if you don't want to try.' Concern was heavy in her minds voice.
Willow only smiled and took Tara's hand. They both closed their eyes and began to breathe. Tara began chanting in Latin and a candle flared to life in the large bay window at the front of the house. Both girls opened their eyes and smiled as one.
Tara looked at Angel and Spike and cleared her throat. "Merry Christmas." She said, moving to the draped window. With a quick movement, she flung the drapes open and sunlight streamed into the living room.
Angel and Spike both threw their arms over their faces, expecting the burns to start. Both were more than surprised when the burns did not come.
"Bloody hell…" Spike whispered. Buffy's eyes grew wide.
"They don't go poof in the sun anymore?" she asked.
"Well…they won't poof in the sun coming thru this window for the rest of the day…" Willow said, beaming.
Angel walked over to the big bay window and stared out. Spike joined him and they both sat.
Tara let a smile creep over her face. She was glad they liked their gift…it was hard to alter the protection spell. It had taken the better part of the year, and would only last a few hours.
Buffy walked up to Spike and wrapped her arms around his neck from behind. "You like?" she asked.
Spike nodded wordlessly, his gaze transfixed on the scene outside. It was just a simple view of the large front yard and trees…but sunlight filtered thru the leaves. He was staring directly into the daylight. It wasn't obscured by the depths of the sewer, like he was used to.
"I'm not on fire…" he whispered. Angel looked at him and smiled.
"That's what I said last time I saw the sun…" he leaned over and told Spike.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Angel and Spike in front of the window. Every once in a while, Spike would smile broadly and point out a squirrel or bird. Buffy was always there to smile and nod. It was like a new child discovering the world. Buffy owed Willow and Tara so much for this gift…
The sun finally set and both Spike and Angel excused themselves. They returned and told no one of the tears that fell.
Xander was protesting loudly, but was drowned out by two children and Willow.
"Xander!!" Willow's voice rang over the din the loudest. "It's tradition!" she pouted.
Xander tried to argue, but could see he would not win. "I'm getting to old for this." He said half-heartedly. Willow settled down onto the floor next to the children and gaped at Xander, preparing for the show. Xander sighed and walked up in front of the group.
Flicking on the television, Willow surfed to the right station and nodded to Xander. He sighed and began to dance.
Willow clapped and the children squealed as Xander did his traditional Christmas Snoopy Dance. When he finished, his children and Willow assaulted him. He fell under their weight and hugs. Laughter filled the room and Tara smiled.
It was good to hear laughter, especially from this group. They had all suffered so much over the last few years and would no doubt suffer in the years to come. But today, there would be joy and happiness. Tara smiled and reveled in the moment…in the day. She loved her family…. all of them.
Tara and Willow hugged the guests and said their goodbyes. The last of their guests had left and they made their way through the house. Picking up a glass or plate, scooping up a toy and piece of wrapping paper. They both busied themselves until neither could stand it. Their eyes meeting, Tara walked over to Willow and smiled. Love poured from her eyes and she brushed her hand on Willows cheek. "Did you have a merry Christmas?" she asked, her voice low and husky.
Willow smiled and nodded. "Best Christmas ever." She said softly. Tara grinned and looked down, her blond hair falling over her face. She looked at Willow thru the few whisps of hair over her eyes and she spoke softly. "Did you get everything you wanted?" she asked suggestively.
Willow bit her bottom lip and shook her head. "Well…not everything." She leaned forward and brushed Tara's hair behind her ear. Tara pouted.
"Oh?" she asked. "What else did you have in mind?" she pressed her cheek into Willows open palm, closing her eyes and enjoying her lovers' touch.
Willow sighed and leaned into Tara, softly brushing her lips over Tara's. "There is the aforementioned smoochies." She whispered into Tara's ear, her breath hot on Tara's ear sending goose bumps running down Tara's neck.
Tara shivered and spoke quietly. "O-oh…" she stammered, grasping Willow's sleeve and pulling her close. Tara kissed Willow deeply and made a trail down her chin leading to Willow's neck. Willow gasped.
"Upstairs now?" Tara asked. Willow nodded eagerly, unable to form words.
Hand in hand, the two lovers moved up the stairs and into the bedroom. Closing the door behind them, the door opened a few seconds later and a disgruntled Miss Kitty Fantastico was scooted out the door. "Sorry Miss Kitty…" Willow apologized and closed the door again. Miss Kitty sat in the hall and stared at the door. She finally decided she was not going to be let in again and walked into the bathroom to sleep in the sink…hoping neither of her mothers would be taking a shower anytime soon. She had to get her beauty sleep.
Willow lay on the bed waiting for Tara to change into her nightgown. 'Waste of time, since I don't plan on letting her keep it on for more than a few minutes.' She grinned, thinking to herself.
Tara turned off the light in their master bathroom and walked into the bedroom. The full moon full through the window, bathing Tara in a ghostly luminescence. 'I can hear you, you know' she thought to Willow.
Willow's eyes shot open, both from Tara's message and also from seeing the blond witch. She was beyond beautiful. The white satin gown clung to Tara's form and cascaded down to the floor. Tara looked regal. Willow let her eye's roam over every aspect of Tara as the blond walked to the bed. Her hair was brushed so it hung straight down, and fell partially over her face.
Willow often wondered if this was not done intentionally so Willow would brush it out of the way. Tara always seemed to do her hair that way, and Willow would always brush it back. It was what had happened first time they had made any intimate form of contact. Willow smiled at the memory.
"And what are you smiling for, little miss?" Tara asked, crawling from the foot of the bed to the head like a predator. Her eye's burned into Willow's.
Willow felt her heart race, and she seemed to lose the ability to speak. "Uh...I...oh boy..." was all she could manage as she realized just how low the top was cut on the nightgown.
Tara followed Willow's gaze to the top of her gown and smiled. "See anything you like?" she teased, rising to her knees, gazing down at the redhead.
Willow looked into Tara's blue eyes and nodded dumbly. What in the world was causing this? She thought to herself. She had made love to Tara countless thousands of times…hundreds of thousands….maybe more. So why was she feeling like this was the first time? She was practically panting. The air around them seemed to be charged. Then she realized what it was.
It was normal. Every time they made love, it was like the first time. The connection was so perfect, so right that it was always like the first time. Not unsure or scary, but full of hope and love. Tara was her everything. She was the brightest part of her life and she would grow old making love to her soul mate. Not many people had that going for them.
But Willow knew it. She felt the connection twelve years ago at the Wicca meeting on campus. She hadn't noticed the small blond huddled on the floor in the circle right away. But when she spoke, Willow noticed her. She remembered feeling the stirrings even then. Not the sweaty, lust filled stirrings she was feeling now, but something more. It was like she was pulled to her. She shook of her reverie to stare at Tara.
Tara had been smiling at the various looks passing over her loves face. She was staring open mouthed at Tara, which pleased her to no end to be sure. She still could not fathom why, to this day, Willow was so taken back by her. Of the two, Tara felt like Willow was the beautiful one. She was the one with the piercing emerald eyes, the creamy white skin, flaming red hair and the cutest freckles in the summertime. She was gorgeous. Her confidence and outlook on life was extraordinary. She had such inner strength, and Willow was in awe of her? Plain old Tara? Tara's heart filled to nearly bursting every time Willow looked at her like that. She just couldn't see what it was that Willow was so attracted to.
She didn't think she was ugly, by any means. But Willow made her feel like she was the single, most beautiful creature in existence with a look. She once asked Willow how she did it. Willow merely smiled and said magic.
Tara reached out her hand and cupped Willow face in her palm. "Baby?" she asked softly. Willow was still staring open mouthed at her.
Willow blinked twice and smiled dumbly. "Yeah?" she squeaked. Willow cleared her throat and shook her head. "I'm sorry…what was the question?" she asked, sheepishly. She was so busy studying Tara's curvaceous body she had not heard Tara speak.
Tara smiled. "I asked if you saw anything you liked?" she repeated, her whole body felt flushed, still reeling from the fact that she had such an affect on Willow.
Willow merely nodded and pointed at Tara's chest. Her lips moved but no sound escaped.
Tara looked down and raised her hands, gently brushing her fingertips across the bottom of her breasts. "What?" she asked quietly. "These?" she smiled at Willow seductively.
Willow felt her throat constrict as she tried to speak. "The…um…the gown…it's new…" she stammered. 'God…I am a complete dork!' she chastised herself. Here she was, alone with the single most beautiful creature in existence and she couldn't even put together a complete sentence.
Tara smiled. "Yes it is." She answered, tracing the lacework at the top of the neckline. "I got it yesterday." She gazed at Willow through half closed eyes. "You like it?" she asked.
Willow swallowed hard, trying to push the lump forming in her throat out of the way so she could speak. When she opened her mouth, all that came out was a squeak. Damn lump!
Tara grinned and leaned down, letting the top of the gown fall open again, and kissed Willow softly. Her lips pressed into Willows as she gently molded herself to her lover.
Willow felt herself flushing as Tara kissed her. 'Goddess, she's a good kisser.' She thought to herself. Reaching up, she wrapped her arms around Tara and pulled her into her arms. She kissed Tara back, letting the force of her lips increase as her desire increased.
Tara broke the kiss, much to Willow's dismay. She sat back up and cocked her head to one side. "You never answered me." She spoke softly. "Do you see anything you like?" she asked again.
Willow pouted. Tara was not playing fair. 'She comes to bed and she's all hot and sexy, wearing that clingy, satin-y, come and get me now, and with the kissing hot enough to melt metal…and she wants to know if I see anything I like?' she stared open mouthed at Tara.
Tara raised an eyebrow at Willow. She knew she wasn't playing fair. She had picked this gown specifically for one reason. It showed off her form. Willow had once said that sometimes, when Tara wore a certain pair of jeans or a certain T-shirt that she looked even sexier than if she was standing there naked. Tara had jokingly protested the remark, saying that Willow liked her better with her clothes on. Willow quickly backpedaled and remarked that all she meant was that sometimes, the suggestion of what someone looked like without clothes was very erotic. Tara smiled and let Willow slide, much to the redhead's relief.
"Tara?" Willow practically growled, reaching out for Tara's hand. She didn't want to talk...well…not right now. She wanted Tara. No, she needed Tara. Tara stood her ground, and resisted Willow's attempts to pull her back down. She sat back on her knees and waited. Willow pouted and sighed.
Tara Took Willow's hand and moved it up to her lips, brushing the skin softly across her lips. Willow shuddered as Tara's hot breath flowed over the back of her hand. "ahhh…." She whimpered. Willow bit her bottom lip. She was not going to…not for the second time today. She remembered the shower and shook her head.
If Tara wanted her to reach a climax, well then she would have to do it the old fashioned way. She put on her resolve face.
Tara saw the resolve face and smiled. She had learned how to beat it years ago. It was a challenge, but Tara loved challenges. She cradled Willow's hand and lowered it to her breast. She softly placed Willow's hand over her now erect nipple and sighed.
Willow felt her resolve crumble. She felt her muscles in her stomach contract. That started a cascade leading all the way down to her thighs. A low moan escaped her lips as she came for the second time with only Tara's touch. She gently caressed Tara and looked at her lovers face. Tara had her eyes closed and her bottom lip was trembling.
Willow reached up with her other hand and wrapped it around Tara's waist. Her hand slid easily over the smooth, cool surface of the gown and she pulled Tara down to her. This time, Tara did not resist. She lowered herself so she was lying on top of Willow, only the thin satin separating the two.
Tara kissed Willow softly, then stronger as the redheads hands roamed down her back and came to rest on Tara's full hips. Tara sat up, slowly breaking Willows kiss. Willow whimpered and writhed under Tara's weight.
Willow hurriedly stripped off her own T-shirt and lay back down, the cool air rushing over her nude form. Her nipples hardened and she gazed at Tara.
Tara slipped the gown over her head and slowly layback down on Willow. She sighed as their flesh met.
Willow gasped when Tara laid back down on her. The instant their flesh met, the heat seared Willow. Tara's skin was flush against hers and she could feel Tara's body heat coursing through her. Willow pushed the covers down, a difficult task since Tara wasn't moving from her lips. Willow was persistent though and soon the two were pressed fully into each other. Tara's hands explored Willows body with such intensity, that Willow was having difficulty breathing.
Willow rolled Tara over onto her back and followed her, straddling her. She began kissing Tara's neck, slowly descending over Tara's neck and shoulders. Tara felt pure bliss. Willow left a scorching trail down her body, stopping for only a few minutes to pay homage to Tara's breasts. Willow continued to descend and found herself gently pressing Tara's thighs apart.
Tara gasped for air as Willow brought her to climax again and again. Willow made love to her for the better part of the night, and when they were through Tara's whole body was exhausted. She continued to spasm when Willow wrapped herself around Tara's naked form. Tara looked at Willow and gasped for air, still shaking. "I'll take…that as a yes?" she panted.
Willow smiled and kissed Tara's lips deeply. "You'd better…." She smiled.
Reaching down, Willow pulled the covers over the both of them. Tara sighed contentedly. She loved every aspect of Willow. The way her body felt, the way she babbled, the way she smelled…she grinned…the way she tasted… Everything about Willow made her smile.
Everything about their love made her heart race. She wrapped her arm around Willow and pulled the lithe redhead closer. "Willow…love?" she spoke quietly. Willow only hummed.
Everything about their love made her heart race. She wrapped her arm around Willow and pulled the lithe redhead closer. "Willow…love?" she spoke quietly. Willow only hummed.
"Baby?" she repeated, knowing Willow was drifting off to sleep. Willow turned her head to Tara and smiled.
"Yeah?" she asked. Tara gazed into her loves eyes and smiled.
Tara sat up and reached over to the nightstand drawer. She pulled out a small, wrapped box and handed it to Willow. Willow sat up, a questioning look in her eyes.
"What's this?" she asked, taking the small box gingerly into her hands.
"It's a present, silly." Tara
smiled, folding her hands in her lap waiting for Willow to open the present.
Willow started to unwrap the small box and gasped.
A small, fuzzy box sat in her hand and tears came to her eyes. Her hands began to shake as she reached to open the lid of the box. She had to remember to breathe. She gasped when she saw the contents of the box.
A small gold ring, set with a single diamond sat there in a bed of satin. She brought her hand to her mouth and began to shake. Tara took the ring out of the box and looked hopefully into Willow's eyes.
"Willow Rosenberg?" she began, her voice shuddered. "Will you marry me?" she asked quietly.
Willow felt hot tears begin to spill down her face. She stared at Tara and nodded slightly. She tried to speak but her voice failed her…again.
Tara beamed her smile and reached out for Willow's hand. Willow raised her hand and lifted her ring finger. She sobbed tears of joy as Tara slipped the ring gingerly onto her finger.
"Oh goddess yes, Tara…yes." She flung her arms around Tara's neck and sobbed onto her shoulder. Tara began to weep as well, looking out the large bay window in their room.
The sun was rising, a new day was
dawning. The first day in the rest of their lives. She squeezed Willow and
whispered softly into her ear. "Merry Christmas, love." She kissed Willow's
cheek. "Merry Christmas."