Christmas In Your Heart
She said yes.
Buffy stood in front of the huge window in the kitchen, cup of coffee in her hand, gazing out at the mounds of snow that covered the front lawn outside. She could hear birds whistling, tweeting and chirping in the trees right outside the window, and she swam in a feeling of complete and utter relaxation.
Thwack! The sound of a snowball hitting the glass pane in front of her startled her into pulling her head back with a jerk. She glared out at the chortling face of Xander Harris, who was busy making another snowball with his cold-reddened hands. Buffy idly contemplated burying him in the cold wet stuff. That is, until another thought intruded upon it.
'Wait a minute. It doesn't snow in SunnyDale. What the hell?' High pitched, squealing, childish laughter caught her attention and her eyes zeroed in on a little girl that had just threw a snowball at the back of Xander's head. She appeared to be three or four years old and had a shock of reddish blonde hair tied in the back into a braid. It whipped around her head as she laughed in delight and she watched as Xander turned to look in mock menace at the child.
"Come and get me, Unca Xander." The child cried, wiggling her fingers against her head in a 'Nya Nya' gesture.
Xander snorted like a wild bull, stomping his foot in the snow, causing the girl to squeal all the more before he charged at her. The girl spun and ran on her heels, giggles echoing back as she ran, before she tripped and fell in the snow.
Xander caught up to her and started tickling the actively wiggling child, and her gales of laughter floated to Buffy's ears on the wind. A wistful look filled her eyes as she watched them play, wishing she could be out there with them. A clearing of a throat caused her to turn her head, and she saw a very pregnant Willow standing next to her holding her coat. "I think you should go play." Willow suggested, a warm smile gracing her lips.
"Are you sure?" Buffy heard herself asking, but knew she wanted to be outside playing with her daughter.
"Yes. I'm sure. Trust me, I'll let you know when the time comes." Willow said, ruefully, patting her extended belly.
A huge smile grew over the Slayer's face as her eyes glowed brightly. "Thanks, Will." Buffy said, kissing her lips lightly while slipping into her jacket, then she slipped out the kitchen door, entering the white wilderness that greeted her with an icy nip at her nose and cheeks.
The red headed girl noticed her almost the very second she left the house and was upon her in half that time as she screamed her name in glee. "Catch me!" The child cried, before she launched herself into Buffy's arms.
Buffy caught her, then threw her up in the air, listening with heart pounding joy as the child laughed wildly, her blue eyes flashing brightly in the sunlight as she caught her and hugged her tightly.
The details became fuzzy as the dreamer awoke, and she reached out for it, clinging tenaciously to the wisp that had been her dream world.
Buffy sighed as she opened her eyes, blinking against the brightness of the room. Her head rested on the soft chest she had fallen asleep on last night after making love. Fingers flexed against the softness she lay upon, tracing gentle circles into the rounded curves of her lover. She peered sightlessly as she tried to bring her dream back to her in living color. It played impishly around the recesses of her mind, letting her see it in bits and pieces, but never completely and not evoking the feelings that she had felt within the dream. She sighed, mystified at how real that dream had seemed. Often she would have prophetic dreams, most of them had been nasty, but this one had been wonderful, if it was prophetic. She could've just been imagining what her daughter would look like.
She caressed the slight slope of the gently rounded abdomen curiously. "Was that you?" She whispered, placing a ghost of a kiss on Willow's navel. Hearing a soft chuckle as the surface under her lips moved, blue eyes looked up startled into sparkling green.
"Who are you talking to?" Willow asked, a sleepy grin lighting the rosy cheeks.
A slight blush flushed the Slayer's cheeks as she answered. "Our daughter. I had a dream about her. It seemed so real." The blue eyes turned mystified as she called up the scattered images of her dream once more. One long arm reached down to brush the long blonde hair out of her eyes, and Buffy caught a brief sparkle from the charm bracelet that dangled from Willow's wrist. She had given the bracelet to her as a Hanukkah gift. It had three charms on it at the moment. A tiny rocking horse, symbolizing the coming of their baby, a witches hat, celebrating the spell that had brought them together, and a golden heart, symbolizing her own heart which she had given to Willow from the day they had met.
"You did? What did she look like?" Willow's voice was quiet as she watched Buffy's face morph from bemused to beaming.
"She was beautiful Will…she looked like a miniature you, all red hair and freckles." Blue eyes shined as she remembered, the sound of the sweet laughter still echoing in her ears.
"Do you think it was one of your special dreams?" Willow pondered, bewitched with the idea that Buffy had actually seen into their future.
"I don't know." Buffy said, shaking her head. "It seemed real, in a strange kind of way…but I guess I could have just been imagining what she would look like."
Willow absorbed that silently for a moment. "Do you want her to look like me?" Buffy picked up on the touch of insecurity that filled her voice. Her eyes gentled as she looked deep into her love's eyes. "I do. I want her to look just like you." Her voice was soft as she gently caressed Willow's face, the fingers of her right hand tracing a path over the hacker's eyebrow and cheekbone, then moving softly over the pink lips. A warm hand covered hers on Willow's stomach as they gazed into each other's eyes losing themselves in the love they each held for the other. "So beautiful." Buffy whispered before their lips touched, sending warm waves of joy through them.
Willow sighed blissfully into the kiss, content to bask in the warmth that spread between them. Buffy felt the morning creeping upon them, however, and groaned as she risked a glance at the clock, resting her head once more on Willow's chest. "We have to get up. It's almost nine. Everyone will be here soon."
Willow moaned in dissatisfaction, belatedly remembering what day it was. "It's Christmas."
Buffy eyed her wryly. "Merry Christmas, Will." She smiled, slightly kissing her quickly before she climbed out of bed, groaning slightly while putting her robe over a body that just did not want to get out of bed.
"Right back at'cha" Willow chirped back, as she stood up and put her robe on also. Buffy had done her best to give her the best Hanukkah ever, somehow knowing that not being with her parents this year for Hanukkah was depressing her. While Xander had insisted on singing both versions of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, Buffy had surprised her one night with a beautiful rendition of "Oh Hanukkah". Willow smiled brightly as she remembered Buffy's sweet voice lifting to the old tune…
"Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,
This had earned Buffy a grateful kiss, which had Xander whistling at the intensity of it, and Willow blushing to beat her hair when she had finally relented on the out of breath Slayer. Each night, after a traditional Hanukkah meal, which Buffy and her mom took turns in preparing, a candle had been lit. Willow said the Hanukkah prayer while lighting the candle, and as she did so, she was shocked once again as Buffy joined in, her melodic voice adding to the richness of Willow's own. After that, they would play the dreidel game, Xander usually winning most of the pots, which consisted of chocolate coins that Buffy had bought for the occasion. At some point during the evening, Buffy would present Willow with a Hanukkah present, watching in delight as she opened the tiny tokens of her affection. The charm bracelet that dangled from Willow's wrist had been her favorite, but each of the gifts was accepted with love.
After all of the effort that Buffy put into making this year's Hanukkah special for her, Willow was just as determined to make this Christmas just as special.
Oz was just getting up when they came downstairs, he was just finishing rolling up the sleeping bag he had used to sleep in on the couch for the past two weeks. "Merry Christmas, guys." He said, in greeting, noticing the rosy glow the two women had about them, and trying not to let it bother him.
"Merry Christmas, Oz." Buffy and Willow greeted at roughly the same time, and grinned at each other in reflex. "How's the couch treating ya?" Buffy asked, a slight smirk quirking at her lips. Oz had pretty much settled into the new routine around here, but Buffy sometimes still couldn't resist teasing him. The 'Nya Nya' principle was still alive and well.
"Not bad." Oz commented, choosing to ignore the ache in his lower back that had seemed to settle there. He finished tying the sleeping bag closed then excused himself, so he could go put it in the van. Oz and Xander ran into each other as one was coming in and the other was going out. They gave each other a cordial Merry Christmas before they continued on their way.
"Let it snow…let it snow…let it snow." Xander belted the song out as he entered the house, Anya in tow, carrying an armful of presents. He put them under the tree, as Buffy and Willow greeted their friends in the living room.
"Buff…Will…how decadent." Xander said, noticing the matching bath robes. "Not going to dress for the occasion?" He asked, eyeing the similar dressed women with an appreciative eye.
"We thought we'd get dressed after the present unwrapping thing." Willow explained, flushing brightly as she remembered the true reason for their present state of dress. Buffy's blue eyes lit up as she watched Willow go into the kitchen, the little sashay of her walk making her breathe a little faster in appreciation.
"I've said it before, and I shall say it again. Christmas at eight-five degrees is positively obscene." Giles greeted the group, wiping his sweat covered brow as he sat the large pile of presents he carried in his arms beside the Christmas tree, then took the bottle of wine he carried precariously in his arm pit into the kitchen.
Buffy watched him with amused eyes, knowing that he still missed the Christmases he had held in England, but was glad that he could bear with the weather enough to be with her for the holidays. The watcher was almost like a second father to her. And Christmas, this Christmas especially, would not be the same without him.
Xander eyed the huge pile of presents that surrounded the Christmas tree and rubbed his hands together enthusiastically. "I get to be Santa." He said, his eyes lighting up at the thought.
"This is a silly tradition." Anya commented, caustically, but she was ignored for the most part by Xander and Buffy who were both contemplating the presents at the moment. She sat down with an impatient huff in the recliner, still unhappy with Xander for stopping her attempts this morning to have sex. Xander had been in a hurry to get over here to open gifts and it had put her in a rather sour mood.
"Are we ready to start?" Xander asked, casting a glance at the kitchen door as he wondered what was taking the others so long. Joyce chose that moment to come through the door carrying a tray of sweet rolls and an urn full of coffee, sugar and cream. Willow came out behind her, carrying a teapot full of apple-cinnamon herbal tea for the non-caffeine drinkers. They sat the breakfast treats on the coffee table, and everyone gathered around to get their fill.
They were all eager to get to the main festivities of the day, so they gathered around the tree, Anya stayed in the recliner, Xander was going to be passing out presents so she found no reason to move. Oz sat down on the floor, not far from her, Joyce sat in the overstuffed chair, which Giles perched precariously on the arm of, and Buffy and Willow sat together on the sofa.
Xander passed the presents out, the epitome of the perfect 'Santa', waiting for each of them to open their presents so they could ooh, and ah, over what they received before he moved on.
Willow's treasures piled up, she smiled as she unwrapped every baby toy that Buffy hadn't been able to resist buying. Buffy had been right of course, having received the same kind of thing from her Mother and Willow. They received non-baby items as well of course, but most of their presents consisted of things for the baby.
Giles most prized treasure he received from Joyce. It was a hardbound copy of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas carol." "Thank you, Joyce. I've always appreciated this timeless classic…in fact, when I was a young lad growing up in England, my father used to read it to me every Christmas."
"Hey, maybe you could read it later, Giles." Buffy said, shrugging at the odd look she got from Xander. "It would be nice to start some traditions." A gentle rub of Willow's belly was all the answer Xander needed for the perceived loss of the Slayer's mind.
Giles just smiled sedately at the Slayer and nodded his head. "I think that can be arranged." Buffy grinned back at him in thanks.
Joyce received a gold heart shaped locket from Giles, with pictures of Buffy and the slayerettes inside. When she looked at Giles in question, he replied. "You once accused me of trying to take your daughter away." He said simply, not wanting to bring up bad memories on such a splendid day. "This is kind of my way of letting you see that she was always yours, I was just graced to be a part of her life."
Joyce nodded, swallowing a little at the sentiment, then looked him directly in the eyes. "I'm glad you are a part of her life. I always want you to be." They exchanged a long look of understanding, and then the air cleared around them as the present exchange continued.
Buffy watched their exchange with curious eyes, receiving an elbow by her couch companion who noticed her distracted state. They looked at each other, then back at Joyce and Giles and just shrugged. Whatever was happening wasn't really any of their business, and Buffy wasn't all too sure that she wanted to know.
Finally Xander looked under the tree to see if he had missed any presents, but the tree was as barren as when they had first brought the large firtree in here, except of course for the lights and bulbs that decorated it. "Well, that's all of them." He said, looking around at the mess of wrapping paper and unwrapped presents that littered the living room. Everyone seemed to be happy with what they had received, and even Xander had to admit that he was pleased by the presents he had received.
"Actually, Xander…there's one more…but it isn't under the tree." Buffy said, hesitantly, her eyes resting on Willow, lightly.
"Ah, yeah…I agree, that's quite the present you have there, Buff." Xander said, thinking that she meant the unborn babe that at the very moment was growing inside Willow.
"Huh?" Buffy turned her head, distracted from her perusal of Willow's loveliness by Xander's comment. "Oh yeah. Well, that too." Buffy said, blushing slightly.
"Well…if that wasn't what you meant, what did you mean?" Xander asked, confused, sitting down on the floor beside Anya's chair.
As Buffy looked around at the faces of her family and friends, she decided that now was the right time to say what she really needed to say, and to let them all know how much she cared about them, especially the red-head sitting curled up at her side. "You know all of you guys mean so much to me. I don't think I could have gotten through half of the things I've been through without your support and love. So, I wanted to just take the time to thank you for all you've done for me." She met all of their eyes individually, expressing her feelings through the deep blueness of her own.
"But there's one person in this room, that I don't think I could stand to live without. Someone who's taught me what it means to be a true friend, and what it really means to love somebody totally, and unconditionally and have them love you back the same way." Her eyes met Willow's and she lost herself in the deep expanse of green, completely forgetting the other people in the room that sat watching. She took the red head's hand in hers, holding it gently as she communicated the words of love that she'd always wanted to say. "Will, you've already given me so much. An ear when I needed to talk, a shoulder when I needed to cry, a mouth when I needed reassurance, and a hand when I needed guidance. You've given me the best gift any person could ever be graced with." She slipped to her knees, caressing the belly where her child grew with a trembling hand and tried desperately not to cry the tears she felt building in her eyes. "If I lived to be a hundred, it wouldn't be long enough to show you how much you mean to me…and all I want to do…is spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you."
The room held it's collective breath as they waited for the question they knew was coming. Giles and Joyce cast a brief glance at each other, reading the love and hope in each other's eyes before they turned their attention back on the pair before them.
Buffy gulped the tears of emotion out of her way, as she took out the small square box out of the pocket of her bathrobe. She could see the silver of tears building in Willow's eyes and her heart filled with love at the sight. She opened the box with trembling hands, displaying the diamond ring that rested in the red velvet within. "Will you marry me?"
Willow bit her trembling lip and nodded her head, trying not to burst into happy tears. "What was that? I didn't quite hear you." Buffy teased her lightly, with a trembling voice, her own tears starting to slip unheeded down her cheeks.
"Yes." Willow whispered softly. "Yes, I'll marry you." She said, louder as she wrapped her arms around her neck and hugged her tightly. Buffy put the ring down gently, before she hugged her back enthusiastically, her arms tightening around the red head's waist. "I love you." Buffy said, kissing the top of Willow's head.
"I love you so much." Willow whispered back, fiercely. They stayed like that for a long time, feeling the waves of love floating through them then Buffy pulled back, picking up the ring from where she had put it on the floor. She took the ring out of the box, then slipped it on the red head's finger, consciously controlling the tremors that shook her whole hand. Seeing the sparkling ring on her soulmate's finger made Buffy want to cry again, but she simply kissed the shaking hand, then pulled Willow back into her arms, cradling the woman she held dearest to her heart, against her.
Everyone gave them a few moments to bask in their love, then they surrounded the happy couple, congratulating them at the new dimension in their ever-changing relationship. Buffy and Willow accepted them graciously, receiving warm hugs from Joyce, Giles and Xander. Oz shook Buffy's hand awkwardly conceding that the best person had indeed won. Buffy gave him an impish grin, then hugged the startled guitar player enthusiastically. It was indeed, a very happy Christmas.
While Joyce prepared the Christmas dinner, with Giles help, Oz and Xander watched the Christmas movie marathon that was playing on television. Buffy and Willow disappeared for an hour upstairs, but when they returned, they were both fully dressed, and their smiles were brighter than the still twinkling lights on the Christmas tree. They finished watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with Xander and Oz, their happy laughter filling the living room, and edging into the kitchen where Joyce and Giles sent tolerant looks at the kitchen door.
"This has truly been a remarkable holiday." Giles noted, watching Joyce as she checked on the bird that was roasting in the oven.
She finished basting the bird, closing the oven door before straightening up to look at him. "I certainly wasn't expecting that. Were you?" Joyce asked, referring to Buffy's earlier proposal.
Giles shook his head. "No…I think she caught us all by surprise…especially Willow. She turned so pale I was surprised she didn't faint."
Joyce chuckled at the image. "I was surprised Buffy managed to get the words out. Did you see how badly she was shaking." Joyce shook her head in amusement. "Poor girl." She chuckled again in sympathy.
"I don't think I've ever seen her shake that badly." Giles agreed. Buffy had faced the worst of the Hellmouths horrors without coming as unglued as she had been on bended knee in front of Willow.
Joyce smiled at the memory, then gazed at him with soulful eyes. "You're not sorry that we're not…" She hedged at the question, not sure how to finish it.
"No. This is their day…our day will come soon enough." Giles sighed, placing a tender kiss on Joyce's mouth.
"Hey, is the food ready yet. I'm starving." Xander called from the living room, disturbing the mood.
Giles cast a baleful look at the door, annoyed at the interruption. "No. Not yet, Xander." Joyce smiled at Giles' annoyance and kissed him lightly on the chin, before she turned back to the feast preparations.
Home Alone 2 was just wrapping up when Joyce called them to the table for dinner. Buffy helped Giles set the table. Then everyone gathered around the long wooden table in the dining room, and Giles proposed a toast, lifting his glass of wine, Buffy and Willow had their wine glasses filled with caffeine free Ginger ail. "This could possibly be the best Christmas I've ever had. I'm surrounded by all the people that I care about, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend this holiday. I propose this toast to Joyce for making this splendid feast which we are about to consume, to Buffy and Willow for stepping out on that limb of love together…and to everyone here for making this holiday one to remember." The glasses met with a clink, and they drank to the toast enthusiastically.
The food was consumed in the natural way, everyone eating far more than they should and ending up looking like they were vying to match Willow in the pregnancy corner. "Anybody up for pie?" Joyce asked, wryly, receiving a round of groans for her trouble.
"Uh…maybe later mom." Buffy replied, patting her extended stomach, a slight grimace crossing her face. "I really shouldn't have eaten so much." Willow looked at her appraisingly, reaching over to feel the rounded tummy. She nodded in sympathy before commenting. "You're bigger than I am, now."
"Thanks, Will." Buffy said, wryly.
"Anytime." She chirped, grinning impishly before kissing her lightly. She stood up, stretching before she pulled Buffy up out of her chair. "We'll clean up." Willow offered, starting to grab the plates and silverware off of the table, while Buffy grabbed the leftover food.
"You know…this will get cleaned up faster if we all help." Giles said, giving a meaningful look to Oz and Xander. The boys hopped up like they had been kicked, and started cleaning up the table.
Things were cleaned up in record time, and they soon found themselves back in the living room, sipping contentedly on hot cocoa and warm apple cider. Giles began reading "A Christmas carol" in his deep soothing voice, relaxing the group gathered around the tree. Willow lay ensconced in Buffy's arms, her head lying on Buffy's chest. Buffy's arm was wrapped around Willow's stomach, their hands entwined, a carefree thumb playing with the ring that rested securely on Willow's ring finger. Buffy watched as the ring sparkled in the glow cast off by the Christmas tree and had to agree with Tiny Tim's sentiment. "God Bless us, Every One."
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