IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS
Author: Lamia Archer
Buffy is making gingerbread men. She found the recipe, bought the ingredients, made the dough. Rolled the dough into sparkling brown sheets. Now she is pressing shining, man-shaped cookie cutters into the rolled-out dough, carving out an army of cookie men.
Angel is very concerned.
“So . . . you don’t like gingerbread,” he says, watching her from a safe distance. The kitchen makes Buffy weird. There’s all sorts of throwing things, and curses so filthy he’s honestly shocked to hear them in her sweet voice, and knives embedded in the wall.
Or there’s this, which is somehow more unsettling.
“Correct,” Buffy answers sweetly. She continues cutting out her little men.
“So . . . we’re making gingerbread men because . . . ?”
Buffy shoots him an evil, evil look. He relaxes a little; he’s used to seeing that kind of expression on her in this room.
“Because it’s Christmas,” she says, and she turns back to her project.
And begins to hum.
Angel considers calling a doctor. Or a priest.
“Have you ever had gingerbread? Or will this be a new taste for you?”
Since shanshuing, Angel has been heavily invested in discovering new tastes. Unfortunately, his newfound interest in food began while he was still healing from the assault on the Black Thorn, and it wasn’t until Spike made a comment on his fat ass that Buffy only defended with, “He’s not fat! He’s just a little . . . chubby, and I think it’s adorable,” that he realized he had to get off his ass, still broken or not, and hit the gym, if he wanted all that the culinary world had to offer.
A year after his Alamo, Angel is both healed and trim, and refuses to admit that Spike ever taught him anything ever.
“Um, no, we—we used to have it when I was a kid. I still don’t understand why you’re baking . . .”
Buffy isn’t listening. Buffy is humming again, humming a song Angel can’t place, and cheerfully hacking little men from her dough.
It would be okay if it was just the gingerbread men. (Okay, no, it would still be weird and unnerving.) But there are also sugar cookies, cooling on the counter waiting to be frosted, and two dozen macaroons in the oven. And yesterday, there were pies. Pies. Plural. And there’s a turkey in the fridge and she’s already made the stuffing, he saw her—
Angel places the song. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.
Okay, something is definitely wrong here.
Angel, with complete disregard for his personal safety, takes some steps toward his wife.
“Buffy . . . are you feeling all right?”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, ev’rywhere you go. Buffy smiles. “Sure, sweetie. I feel fine.”
Soon the bells will start—
“Nothing . . . bothering you at all?”
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing—
Right within your heart.
Angel sidles closer. Buffy is almost out of dough to puncture. “Nothing at all?”
Buffy looks up at him, her mouth parted slightly, her eyes wide and shining with Christmas cheer. “Angel, no! I’m fine. Stop pestering me!”
She shoos him away, but he stays put.
“You’re not—you’re perfectly fine?”
Buffy nails him with a straight-up glare. “Yes. Perfectly fine. Go away!” When he doesn’t budge, Buffy picks up the wooden spoon she mixed the gingerbread dough with, and brandishes it like a weapon. “Seriously, mister. Have you ever been spanked with a wooden spoon?”
“Yes,” Angel answers before he realizes it’s a rhetorical question, a silly threat, and not a legitimate query.
Buffy blushes. “By who?”
She’s just too pretty when she blushes. Angel forgets his concerns over her obsessive baking; he closes the distance between them, slips his arms around her waist. Buffy drops the spoon as Angel’s mouth finds hers, as he lifts her off the ground as though she weighs nothing at all. She’s in the air, and in his arms, and she lets her weight fall against him, against his broad chest and clever hands and warm mouth, because the only alternative is to let the air have her.
Angel spins them for a moment, indecisive. Buffy closes her eyes; she feels like a music box ballerina, controlled completely but still dancing. She relaxes against Angel and she milks kisses from his sweet mouth.
He lays her gently on the kitchen table. Her hair fans out over the edge, and for a moment he just looks at her, flushed and beautiful and waiting for him. He kisses her mouth and his hands are cradling her jaw, snaking up under her sweater, over her flat belly and up to her warm, soft breasts. His fingers slide beneath the lace of her bra, and she pebbles for him, like magic, a sorcerer bringing a dormant flower to life. He undoes her bra and her breasts fall into his hand, heavy and hot, and her neck is arched and his flat human teeth close gently on her soft flesh, and she closes her eyes and lets him bite her.
The sweater’s gone, and the bra’s gone, and his mouth is on her chest, his teeth pinching the sensitive flesh of her breasts, and his hands are caught up in her zipper and her tight jeans and her tiny panties, and Buffy gasps and surges against him, and her voice is a throaty purr tickling his ear, now do it now.
Seconds and he’s inside her, and he’s underwater drowning and he can’t breathe, bright flashes of light blind him. So, so warm and home, and Buffy moans a siren’s song calling him calling him calling him. He should know better, but he always ends up shipwrecked on her shores.
Baby, yes, so good, and her nails dig into his arms, and it hurts but he wants any sensation to last as long as it can, forever, and he just closes his eyes and feels the pain and feels what it’s like to be inside of her, and the tightening agony of climbing to release. Buffy is lifting her hips, rolling her hips like the waves coming and coming and coming, and his name falls from her lips like an act of gravity.
Sweating and panting and home, Angel rests against her. She is still, and he is still, and he stays inside her even after the act is over. Home home home.
Buffy’s small hands cradle his face. She kisses him, and he feels seasick. There’s no way he’ll be able to walk in the real world, on the unstable land, not after this.
“I just wanted you to have a good Christmas,” she says. Her voice is low, and breathy, and Angel can feel the words echo in her chest. “It’s your first one, so I wanted . . . I wanted it to be perfect. Did I get crazy with the baking?”
“I don’t need cookies to be happy, to have a happy Christmas.”
“Oh yeah?” Her mouth quirks, the I’m up for your challenge quirk, and if he wasn’t already head over heels, he’d fall in love with her right now. “What do you need?”
He kisses her and kisses her. “Just you. I just need you.”
The macaroons burn, and no one notices.