Best Served Warm

by Ironbear

Story Blurb: You've been waiting over a year to use that line?

Title: "Best Served Warm"

Author: Ironbear

Rating: FR-18

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series and characters thereof belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Kazui Entertainment. Everyone else belongs to their respective owners too, except for my original characters, whom I suppose belong mostly to themselves.

This is a work of derivative fiction. All persons, characters, names, places, locations, entities, personages, and/or deities contained within are purely fictional, or fictional representations thereof, and any resemblance to any real persons, characters, names, places, locations, entities, personages, and/or deities are purely coincidental, or they are used in a purely fictional manner.

Summary: Christmas is a time for spreading joy to your fellow man, as long as he's not dirty, smelly, gross, or otherwise lame.

Type: Romance, Comedy, Urban Fantasy

Chronology: Takes place during BtVS "Amends"

Pairings: Xander Harris and Cordelia Chase

Author's Note(s): My version of what might have happened one Christmas, if the ME writer's hadn't had their heads planted firmly up their rear elevations.

Life in Sunnydale #1. Not a series, just a collection of unrelated or merely semi-related stories set in the BtVS universe during the pre-Chosen years.

Best Served Warm

by Ironbear

Cordelia smirked inwardly as Xander turned instantly nervous upon seeing her and Gwen sit down on the couch across from him and Willow. Following Xander's gaze, Willow became just as flustered, which made the moment even sweeter.

Or it would have if Cordelia hadn't seen the hurt look that Xander threw her way when he thought she wasn't looking...

Looking anywhere except at Cordelia, Willow more or less stammered out, "Oz and I had planned... but I guess that's off."

"Ah. Me, well, I'll be enjoying my annual Christmas Eve camp-out," Xander said, rolling his eyes. "See, I take my sleeping bag outside and I go to sleep on the grass."

'Oh, great,' Cordelia thought, 'In Sunnydale? Why don't you just hang a sign around your neck saying Free Snack and hang out in the park, Xander?'

Not that she cared, of course...

Jerking her head toward the stairs, Cordelia stood, followed by Gwen. Gwen moved off immediately, but Cordelia paused for a moment, torn between an impulse to say something about Xander risking becoming vampire chow, and a desire to take advantage of the obvious insult opportunity coming up.

"Gee, that sounds fun," Willow said.

Xander shrugged. "Yeah, I like to look at the stars, you know?" he said, "Feel the whole nature vibe."

Letting a smug smile flow across her lips, Cordelia narrowed her eyes and said, "I thought you slept outside to avoid your family's drunken Christmas fights."

The pained and hurt look that Xander gave her momentarily froze the smug smile in place before she recovered.

"Yes. And that was a confidence I was hoping you would share with everyone," Xander said, his lopsided grin turning as sarcastic as his tone.

'And... crap,' Cordelia thought. 'He's right. I shouldn't have let that slip out.'

Recovering quickly, Cordelia shrugged. "Well, I'll be in Aspen. Skiing. With actual snow," she said.

"I hear that helps," Buffy said, coming up to them.

"It must be a drag to be stuck here in Sweatydale, but I'll be thinking of you," Cordelia said, smirking at them, "Okay, I'm done."

Putting on her best self satisfied smile, Cordelia turned and strolled off, gathering up Gwen with her eyes and a sharp jerk of the head.

'Well, there was no part of that that wasn't fun,' she thought, 'Except for the parts that weren't. And damn it, so what if I let slip a confidence? The cheating jerk so deserved it.'

She could still hear the three of them as they headed down the stairs into the lounge proper, pausing to let Oz slide past them on his way up.

"She certainly has reverted to form," Buffy was saying.

"It's not her fault," Willow said. "Mm, after what happened, we gotta cut her some slack."

'Gee thanks, Willow,' Cordelia shook her head, irritated. 'How nice of you to allow that I have a right to be pissed off at the two of you.' Wouldn't have been so annoying if it hadn't been for the slight note of condescension in the redhead's voice...

Buffy's voice stopped her right at the doorway leading from the lounge out into the Quad. "Hey, Cordy? Wait up a sec?"

Her back stiffening, Cordelia stopped as Gwen paused in the door, holding it open. Gwen gave her a curious look, and Cordelia shook her head.

"Go on," Cordelia said, "I'll catch up in a minute."

"Okay," Gwen nodded and pushed on out into the courtyard.

"What?" Cordelia turned as Buffy came up to her, frowning slightly.

"Oh, just wanted to talk for a moment," Buffy said, "If you have a seccey."

"Fine," Cordelia said, tossing her hair. "What?"

Smiling at her, Buffy moved past and pushed open the door. "Let's go on out," she said.

Rolling her eyes, Cordelia followed as Buffy headed out past the doors. Buffy led the way to the left over to some of the benches along the side of the Quad and paused at one of the pillars.

"Look, if this is about what I said in there... " Cordelia said.

Buffy held up one hand in a 'stop' gesture. "Yeah, kind of. And kinda not."

"Okay... " Cordelia folded her arms over her chest, staring down at the shorter blonde. Arching an eyebrow, she said, "So what is it kind of and kind of not, then?"

"Xander's really hurting, you know?" Buffy said, looking up at her earnestly.

"Oh, for... " Shaking her head, Cordelia rolled her eyes and started to turn away.

"And so are you."

Buffy's words stopped the turn before it had even really begun, and Cordelia stared down at her again. "What did you say?"

"I said, and so are you," Buffy said. "Look, I get that you have a right to be angry at him and – "

"I so do!" Cordelia said, her eyes narrowing. "I have every right!"

"What I said," Buffy said, nodding.

"Are you going somewhere with this?" Cordelia said, putting on her best bored expression.

Shrugging, Buffy said, "Look, I get that we've never really been friends. Which is of the good, because we don't really like each other all that much."

Between her anger at Xander and Willow, her irritation and embarrassment with herself over what she'd said inside, and her annoyance at Buffy's presumption, the fact that there was a vague almost familiarity to the words didn't even really register on Cordelia.

She started to speak, only to have Buffy cut her off with another raised hand and an earnest expression.

"But you have helped to save the world on occasion," Buffy said. "So I'm going to give you some much needed advice."

"Oh, this should be rich," Cordelia said, her eyes narrowing. Tossing back her hair, she looked at Buffy. "Okay, so: lay it on me oh guru."

"Get over it," Buffy said, smiling.

"What?" it came out in almost an outraged squawk, and Cordelia hastily lowered her voice. "What did you just say to me?"

"Get. Over. It." Buffy's smile broadened. "Whatever is causing the Joan Collins 'tude? Get over it. Deal. Spank your inner moppet, embrace the pain, whatever you need to do, but get over it. 'Cause pretty soon you're not even gonna have the loser friends you used to have."

So momentarily outraged she couldn't even form words, Cordelia's mouth worked silently several times with no sound coming out.

"Instead you'll just be stuck with all of the ones that aren't," Buffy said, turning slightly to look across the Quad.

Involuntarily, Cordelia turned as well, following Buffy's gaze. Across the Quad, she saw Harmony, Aura, Gwen, and Aphrodesia staring openly at her and Summers, giggling. Or more likely... snickering.

Aura and Aphrodesia hastily turned away from Cordelia's gaze, but Harmony merely gave her a malicious look and an even more malicious smile.

Turning back to Buffy, Cordelia found her voice again. "And I think it's time you started minding your own business, Summers," she said, her voice frosty.

"Way past time," Buffy said, nodding. Stepping past Cordelia, Buffy began heading back toward the doors to the student lounge. Turning back, she gave Cordelia a bright smile, adding, "Just think about it, okay?"

A long buried, nearly forgotten memory surfaced finally for the stunned brunette, and she called after the retreating back of the small blonde.

"You've been waiting over a year to use that line?" Cordelia said, her voice slightly incredulous.

"Nah." Buffy turned partially back, smiling at her again. "Just seemed appropriate all of a sudden. Merry Christmas."

Thursday, December 24, 1998; Harris Residence back yard, Sunnydale –

A particularly loud yell from inside made Xander wince. Grumbling to himself, he rolled over inside his sleeping bag, trying vainly to find a more comfortable position.

"Boy, even for you this is a new low in stupidity," a feminine voice said from over and behind him.

"Huh wha?"

Startled, Xander rolled over and sat up. Or tried to: it took him a few moments to untangle himself from the sleeping bag.

Finally extracting himself, he shook his head at the sight of an immaculately dressed Cordelia Chase standing a few yards away with her arms folded across her chest, looking around his back yard with an expression of distaste. She had a big cross clutched in one hand, and another smaller one on a chain around her neck.

"Cordelia?" Xander blinked at her, nearly dumbfounded. "What are you doing here?"

Cordelia scowled down at him. "Talking to you. Duh."

"Well, yeah, I get that," Xander said. Irritably, he scrubbed a hand through his hair and then across his face, rubbing at his eyes. "I guess my question is more along the lines of why?"

"Sleeping outside. At night. In Sunnydale," Cordelia said, rolling her eyes. "Why don't you just hold up a sign saying 'Hey! Free meal?'"

"At the risk of starting up the argument that never seems to end lately," Xander said, "What do you care?"

"Well, duh. I don't, moron," Cordelia said, scowling at him still. "But even if I do hate your guts right now, I don't want to see you as a vampire. Jeeze."

His dad yelled something inside that was audible all the way out here. Hell, it was probably audible down the block, Xander thought. His mom yelled back, her voice strident, and Cordelia glanced toward the house, wincing.

"I thought you were going to Aspen for the Holidays?" Xander said.

"My parents went to Aspen," Cordelia said, turning back to him. It was probably a trick of the uncertain light, but he almost could swear he saw her face soften a bit as another set of yells came from inside. "I decided to stay here. Because, snow? Who needs it."

"Yeah," Xander said, his tone sarcastic, "All that luxury and white stuff just can't compete with the joy of making my holiday miserable."

A yell followed by a crash came from inside as his mom threw something at his dad. Sounded like she missed. They both winced at the impact.

"More miserable," Xander amended, "Than usual."

"Exactly!" Cordelia gave him a brilliant smile. "Because the spirit of Christmas is all about bringing joy to your fellow man and all that."


"Oh, for... " giving him an exasperated look, Cordelia said, "Get up."

"Why? So I can get my daily heaping of bile on my feet?" Xander said, sighing. "I'll pass, thanks."

"Oh, for... will you just get up?" Cordelia's tone became even more exasperated. "Come on. There's leftover ham and trimmings at my house. And the maid and housekeeper have gone home to their families, so it's not like anyone will see you there."

"Gee. And I didn't get you anything."

"Well, of course you didn't," Cordelia said, tossing her hair. "Not like you would make any effort at anything."

"Cordy... " Xander looked up at her, exasperated and more than a bit bewildered. "Why are you doing this?"

Sighing, Cordelia looked at him. "What? It can't just be because I don't want even my cheating ex eaten by vampires?"

"I'd think that'd make your entire year," Xander said, starting to smile. "Best Christmas ever!"

"Oh, please," Cordelia said, rolling her eyes again. "Buffy would have to stake you, and get all depressed. Willow would get all mopey and impossible for the rest of the year. And they'd probably blame me, like it was my fault or something."

"Me me me. It's all about me."

"Oh, shut up."

"Besides," Xander said, "I'd probably come back as a really bad ass vamp and the first thing I'd do is drain you."

"Oh, yeah. Like that would happen," Cordelia said, smirking. "In your dreams."

"Hey, I could be a bad ass vamp if I wanted to," Xander said.

"Right. Come on," Cordelia said, wincing again as another exchange of yells came from inside. "I so am not gonna sit out here all night with a cross warding vamps away from you."

"Oh, fine," Xander said. Grumbling, he finished untangling himself from the sleeping bag and stood up. "I wouldn't want to put you out or anything."

"Too right you wouldn't," Cordelia said, falling into step beside him as he headed toward the gate.

"Ham, huh?"

"Mashed potatoes, dressing, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce," Cordelia said, nodding. "It was a pretty good meal."

"Sounds good," Xander said, holding the gate for her.

"Oh, and don't get any ideas," Cordelia said, pausing with her hand on the gate. She glared at him. "We are not back together. This is not going to be some lame-o fantasy where you get to unwrap your present while she's wearing a skimpy Santa's helper outfit."

"Never crossed my mind," Xander said.

He stopped suddenly as the full impact of Cordelia wearing a skimpy red and white fur trimmed Victoria Secret Santa thingy flashed into his mind's eye.


"Do you really own a Sexy Santa's Helper outfit?" Xander asked, starting to grin at her. He waggled his eyebrows.

Cordelia's glare would smoke paint off of a building. "You'll never find out."

"Never crossed my mind," Xander said, still grinning.

Huffing, Cordelia made a growling sound low in her throat and stalked off toward her car.

Pausing, Xander called after her, "Wait up a minute after you get the car started."

"What for?" Half turning, Cordelia gave him a puzzled frown.

"I need to make a quick detour up the trellis and into my room."

"For what?"

"To get your Christmas present, duh."

The puzzled frown turning into a full blown puzzled scowl, Cordelia looked at him suspiciously. "I thought you said you didn't get me anything."

"I lied."