SUMMARY: It’s Christmas and the Fang Gang get a surprise visit from the Scoobies.
POSTED: 14 Dec 2003
CATEGORY: HOLIDAY FIC (CHRISTMAS) / SECRET SANTA
WARNINGS: None Listed
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES: Written as Kimmer’s Secret Santa present. Her criteria included 7 random elements: C/A together or getting together, a surprise Scoobie visit, Mistletoe, Lorne, Baby Connor, and Christmas Cheer
8AM Christmas Eve
Fred watched as Lorne stepped back to admire his handy work. The basket he’d been carrying around for the past hour, now sat empty at his feet.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were setting a plot to get a kiss from a certain tough as nails slayer.”
Lorne makes a half turn, his eyes roaming the Hyperion’s lobby, taking a mental count of all 43 pieces of mistletoe he’d hung around the room.
“But you do know better Sweetie. And do I detect a bit of jealousy in your voice concerning said Slayer?”
“Jealousy? Me? I’m not jealous. Why would I be jealous? Just because every Wed. night for the past 8 months you and I have been playing cards and in the past 2 months I’ve seemed to have been replaced with nightclubs, dancing and drinking and oh my goodness I am jealous, aren’t I?”
“Oh Fredikins, no one could ever replace you.”
Lorne opened his arms wide and Fred hopped over and let herself be hugged by her best friend.
“Am I forgiven? You know I was only trying to make her feel more at home since she got here. She can use all the friends she can get.”
“Of course you’re forgiven, Silly. I can’t ever stay mad at you. And I should be more friendly to Faith as well.”
With another small squeeze he released her and turned her to face the room.
“did I miss any place? Is there any possible way they can step into this room and NOT get caught?
“It’s perfect Lorne. What a great idea!”
“We’ll get those two crazy kids together yet.”
“Do you think it’s too early to start basting the turkey?
“Nope, I it’s just early enough. Come on, I’ll help.”
Angel stood in the nursery watching Connor sleep. The curtains on the window were bright with the morning sun. He had felt the sunrise subconsciously more than actually noticing it. Earlier that morning he’d also felt Connor roll over in his crib. He didn’t know how he felt it., he only knew that for a brief moment Connor’s breathing had changed and it had alerted him. Since he had been in the middle of his shower at the time, he knew he hadn’t heard it. The were new, these parent senses. And scary. And confusing. And comforting all at the same time. And what really threw him was the fact that he’d been developing these same senses for his Seer as well. Not nearly as strong or as frequent but they were there and he had to admit they were getting stronger.
Just yesterday he’d been putting Connor down for his nap when he felt a small frision of pain. Not in any defined place, he just…felt it. And immediately went down stairs to see if Cordelia was all right. As he walked in the office he saw her shaking her hand and hopping around.
She had caught her finger in her desk drawer as she was closing it.
It wasn’t until this morning, as he stood over his son watching him in the peaceful dawn hours, that he finally admitted to himself what he’d known for some time. His bond with Cordelia was growing into something much more than Seer and Champion. Much more even than best friends.
And doing what Angel did best, he brooded over it, admitted it and then promptly locked it up inside, only to be taken out and brooded over again when he was alone.
With these private thoughts safely stored away, he turned back into his room to finish getting ready for the day.
Cordelia groaned, rolled over and made a strategic, yet blind, smack at the offensive sound coming from the borrowed alarm clock. Being that she had stayed at the hotel that night and hadn’t thoroughly looked at where the buttons were before falling into bed, she missed. When the obtrusive sound didn’t stop, she cracked open one blurry eye and groped for the bedside table again. When again this did not produce the desired effect of silencing the brain melting beeping, she shoved her head under the pillow and grabbing the entire mechanism, proceeded to give it a good, hard yank, pulling the plug out of the wall and blessing the PTB’s for giving her a break.
Making a tiny sigh of pleasure, she snuggled into the covers and promptly fell back to sleep.
If anyone had been in the lobby, they would have seen two figures tip-toeing up to the front doors. They would have heard voices that thought they were whispering but in actuality could be heard through the whole room. They also would have heard both a male and female voice giggling on the other side of those doors. Then they would have seen those two figures come together in quite a passionate kiss, break apart and seem to try to compose them selves.
But since no one was in the lobby no one had to struggle with concealing the surprised looks that would have been on their faces as Faith and Wesley walked through the doors.
“Well that a relief…” Wesley said, letting a little of the tension leave his body.
“Ow!” rubbing his arm where Faith had just playfully backhanded him, he gives her a caring look.
“You know I only meant because we were both nervous about it.”
“I know. Sorry. Did I bruise you?” she says with a glint in her eye.
“Certainly not. And any way, it would have been minor compared to the ones I received last night…want to kiss them better?”
“Wes, you’re such a dog.”
Wrapping his arms around her, he pulls her in for a kiss. Leaning back he sees the dazed sexy look on her face.
“Come on. We better go find the others.”
“Yea, or we may not make it back before dinner.”
With a wink and a wiggle of her hips, she heads for the kitchen. Wesley follows at a slower pace admiring the view, then pulls up short.
“What’s with all the mistletoe?”
Only moments after Wesley and Faith depart for the kitchen, a tiny blue light eeks through the bottom of the front door. It hovers near the floor, bobbing gently as on a small tuft of breath. It slowly floats down the steps, staying close to the foot boards and slides along the wall. As it approaches the 8 foot tree, which is standing at the end near the elevator, decked out in all it’s Christmas glory, it seems to pause, than start a slow circular assent. Round it goes, blending in with all the colored twinkle lights that adorn the most recognized icon of the holiday. Reaching the top it stops and seems to be admiring the beauty of the simple gold star that sat there.
As fast as it was cautious, it whizzes in a straight line back to the door and into the small out stretched hand that awaits it. The door opens quietly wider and the petite red haired witch cautiously steps onto the landing.
*Thank the Goddess! No need for that distraction now.*
With one arm loaded with 8 tiny boxes, all the exact same size, differing only by the color of their wrapping paper. She quickly goes over to the tree and begins placing them inside the branches, tucking them in just far enough that they aren’t conspicuous.
Wishing she could stay and chat with her friends, new and old alike, her retreating steps slow to a stop.
*No Willow. If I stay there will be questions and the hiding of secrets and stuttering and … questions… I’ll come back at New Year’s and maybe the secrets will be out by then…maybe.*
Taking one last regret filled look around at all the decorations, *boy these people like their smooches.* she leaves just as quietly as she came, with no one the wiser of her being there.
Having re-showered and gotten dressed, Angel sits in his chair, sketch book in hand, pencil transferring to paper a memory so old he can’t place the date.
A small tree sits on a table in the corner, candles flickering on it’s branches, casting dancing patterns on the figures in the room. His Mother in her rocker, a ball of yarn in her lap and knitting needles clacking in the quiet of the night. His sister, cross legged on the floor as her feet, elbows on knees, chin in her hands, emerged in her latest novel. And his Father, stern and straight, standing before the fire place contemplating the fire.
With only details of the faces themselves left to draw and his hand unwilling to force the memory of them, he quickly flips the page and starts another scene.
He begins drawing a moment in time that has not even happened and yet he can clearly see in his mind, as if he were there now.
Christmas Eve dinner. The tables from the basement brought up, put together and covered with the linen they found in one of the many storage closets in the hotel. Eight place settings. One for each of the people who matter most in his life. As his talented hand guides the pencil, he painstakingly draws the joyous expressions he’s captured in memory of the ones he now calls family.
As the playful gurgling sound reaches his ears, he puts the pad in the side table drawer and with a smile on his face, goes to get his son.
Fred, Lorne, Wesley and Faith sit in a group on the couches. With the coffee table piled with chips and dip, crackers and cheese, relishes and nuts, they laugh and talk, debate and poke fun at each other.
“What? You all started without me? Here I am, up at dawn making the streets safe for society and you all are sitting on your butts shovelin’ down the chow.”
“Charles, don’t lie. I called you 2 hours ago and asked when you’d be here. And by the way, I don’t think ‘The lift kit for the truck came in’ constitutes as an actual increment of time in our society.”
“Oh. Damn. Ok. You got me. Being the bum that I am, I didn’t get up till a quarter to 11. Does that mean all I get is a lump of coal tomorrow?”
“Well, maybe not. I guess that all depends on if you’ve been a good boy all year or not.”
“Yep, I’m getting coal.”
Grabbing a chair from the office, Gunn slides up next to the coffee table and joins the others.
Cordelia shoots up in bed. Looking at the night stand, the clock read out is blank. Then looks at her wrist watch.
“12:30!” she screams and jumps out of bed heading straight for the shower.
*Why didn’t any one wake me up? I’m suppose to be helping with the decorations. Why didn’t Angel bring me Connor? He knows I like sweet baby snuggles first thing in the morning. Connor! What if something happened to Connor?!*
Without a second thought to her appearance, she bolts out the door and rushes down the hallway. Bursting into Angels room she comes to an abrupt stop.
In the middle of the room, stuffed animals and toys scattered every where, Angel lay on his back with Connor on his chest, where she could hear his muffled laughter. Connor was, in the only way she could explain it, trying to eat his face. Chubby hands kept trying to find a hold on the chiseled features of his Father. His little legs kicking, trying to balance on the broad chest. As she watched, Connor opened his mouth as his head came down again, latching onto Angels jaw line and proceeded to drool and gnaw on the area. Each time his head bobbed down again he left a wet trail across a different part of his Father’s face.
Angel wasn’t ready to cut short his time with his son, so instead of stopping Connor’s game, he turned his head and let him have free reign on his cheek.
“Hey Cordy” he said, smiling “You just get up?”
Closing the door behind her, Cordelia walked over to Father and Son and sat cross legged on the floor next to them.
“Yea, I kind of over slept. I wondered why you hadn’t come in and gotten me up but I can see you’ve been other wise occupied” she said with a smile.
“I got him up from his morning nap and just couldn’t bring myself to stop laying with him. What time is it?”
“Wow, I hadn’t realized it was that late. Everyone’s down stairs already, I can hear them all talking. I’m sure Fred will be up soon wondering what’s keeping us.”
“Or to come steal baby snuggles” she laughs.
“Yea. Or that.” He says with a chuckle as Connor latches on to a fist full of hair.
Laying on her side, her head in her hand, she watches the mock mini battle of wills play out between Father and Son.
Coming back into the lobby after basting the turkey again, Fred glances at the stairs.
*I’m sure they’re up by now. Cordy said she was setting her alarm for 9. I probably shouldn’t bother them but… I really wanna see Connor in that new outfit she got him!*
With a quick look at the group, she makes her way up the stairs.
Softly knocking on the door, she hears two voices in union call out.
Opening the door she walks in a little sheepishly.
“Hey guys, I hope I’m not bothering you…?”
“Not at all Fred. I busted in on Angel a little while ago but he’s being selfish and hasn’t let me have my morning Connor fix yet. Maybe if we team up and tickle him, he’ll cry mercy and hand him over.”
“How do you even know I’m ticklish? Hunh? I may be invincible to your plot you know.”
Shaking her head at the absurd vision of Angel rolling around in peals of laughter while being tickled, Fred sits Indian style at the feet of the little family before her.
*They don’t even realize their unconscious need to touch each other*
She sits quietly, content in observing the small intimate circle they’ve made without when realizing it.
Connor lays between them, one fist tangled in Cordelia’s hair, the other tightly holding his Father’s shirt. Cordelia’s hand is on Connor’s leg, her bare foot draped over Angel’s socked one. Angels hand cups the elbow of the arm her head is leaning on, while his other strokes the fine downy hair of his sons head.
A little romantic sigh escapes Fred’s lips and a small smile plays across her face.
“Did everyone else see our little match-making scientist sneak up the stairs earlier?”
“Well how bout we take our mini buffet here and go crash the party?”
With grins all around at Lornes’ idea, they all start loading their arms with bowls and trays of food and head upstairs.
Coming through the door first, Lorne glosses over the intimate scene.
“Well here’s Mr. & Mrs. Grinchy pants. Didn’t want to share the holiday spirit with the rest of us hunh? Well then, we’re just bringing the Christmas cheer to you. Speaking of Christmas cheer, I’m gonna go get the drinks.”
As the others file in placing the dishes of food on every available surface, Angel and Cordy sit up and look at each other, both with twin looks of guilt on their faces.
“Sorry guys. I over slept and when I came to check on Connor got caught up with playing with him. Wow, I should probably go get dressed.”
Gunn gives her a big grin as she passes and Wesley and Faith exchange knowing grins.
Feeling a bit awkward about still being in her pj’s, she makes her way out of the room and down the hall to her borrowed suite.
Pressed and dressed coming back into the room, Cordelia feels a warm joy fill her heart.
Angel sits quietly on the floor, knees bent, leaning against the foot of the bed. Half of his attention on the conversation, he other half on the sleeping child in Lornes’ arms. Everyone else was gathered around in a semi circle in various states of relaxation looking as if none of them had a care in the world.
She notices the proximity of Faith and Wes and the little caresses their fingers were giving each other hidden from view of the rest of the group.
*Now why doesn’t that surprise me?*
And listening to Gunn joke with Fred adding a shamelessly flirtatious comment at the end, she watches as the tiny woman flushes red in…
*Embarrassment? Or pleasure? This one really doesn’t surprise me at all.*
Trying to divert the topic and help her friend so she didn’t have to stumble through the response to Gunn’s comment, she interrupts.
“So, when’s dinner?”
“The turkey!” forgetting all about her flattered embarrassment, Fred jumps up and bolts out the door.
“Maybe I should go help her” Cordy says as she turns to follow her.
At her statement Lorne jumps up, baby in arms, seeing his plan fly out the window.
“No gorgeous, you don’t want to get turkey grease on that beautiful sweater. And besides, Fred said Angel was being stingy with the little peanut here and you didn’t get your dose of Connor love yet.”
Gently placing the sleeping baby in her arms he mentally pats himself on the back for the quick save.
Snuggling the warm bundle against her chest, she gives him a soft kiss on his tiny forehead.
“Well that’s not a hard choice to make at all, is it Sweetie? Holding the cuteness that is you or helping with the slimy turkey grease. No it isn’t. It’s not hard at all.”
Moving across the room, she takes Lornes’ place next to Angel.
Before leaving the room, Lorne catches the eyes of Gunn, Faith and Wes.
“Fred mentioned dinner being ready at 3. You three want to bring those tables up from the basement and set things up in the lobby?”
All three catch his drift and start to move out.
“Here, let me give you guys a hand” Angel says, preparing to push himself up off the floor.
“NO!” Four voices say in union, which abruptly stops his assent.
“We got it man, just chill.”
“Yea Boss, no worries. Slayer strength will et it done in a snap.”
“Precisely Angel. Besides, how often do you have the opportunity to just be with Connor?”
Seeing their arguments made as Angel lowers himself back to the floor, they all leave with Lorne shutting the door behind them.
Angel blinks a few times then looks at Cordelia. “What was that all about?”
Her eyes narrow as she looks back at him. “They’re up to something. I don’t know what, but they’re definitely up to something.”
Angel looks as perplexed as ever but decides it doesn’t mater what they’re up to if it gives him a little more time alone with Connor and Cordelia.
With the table prepared and the food set out, the gang stands around admiring their work. Lorne turns to Fred.
“Okay, Sweetie. I need you to go get Angel and Cordy. But you also have to make sure you’re carrying Connor and that you’re walking in front of them. Now when you come to the landing, you need to stop on the second step. Got that?”
“Second step. Got it.”
Looking at the 9 pieces of mistletoe running the width of the steps, “See? That way no matter where they are standing when they stop, we can’t miss.”
Hugging her friend she giggles “Oh Lorne! It’s brilliant!” Then doing a little turn she skips up the stairs to go get the little family.
Knocking and opening the door at the same time, she walks into the room. Angel and Cordy are sitting shoulder to shoulder, Connor propped in Cordelia’s lap against her bent knees.
Amusement crosses her face as she watches both adults make one goofy face after another, making the baby gurgle and laugh. Rocking on her heels, clasping her hand behind her back, Fred clears her throat.
“Ahhm. Dinner’s ready.” She cheerfully announces.
The couple looks up, both hiding a tiny twinge of disappointment with a smile. Fred walks over to Cordelia stretching out her arms.
“May I hold him?”
“Sure.” And she hands Connor over. Angel, having already stood, reaches down and takes her hands to help her up.
Fred turns and leads the little group down stairs cooing at the baby out load but silently repeating the mantra:
*Second step, second step. Stop on the second step.*
As she nears the bottom, she turns around to see the expression on their faces as the lobby comes into view.
Cordelia catches the inter-twinning smells of the food. “Mmmm, Fred that smells heavenly!”
“Thanks. As much as I like to eat, I had to learn to cook at an early age ” she laughs at her self.
As Fred reaches the landing, Angel is half immersed in taking in all the decorations they had put up that he almost runs into her. He sees the mischievous twinkle in her eye as she turns around and looks at him. Cordy follows her line of sight as her eyes glance up to the ceiling above them.
Seeing the mistletoe and knowing he’s been set up, Angel decides to play the ignorance card and makes sure a suitably perplexed look is on his face as he looks back down at Fred.
“Those are very …pretty. Holly berries, right? Did you put them all up?”
A small frown of confusion crosses Fred’s face, not understanding what went wrong.
Angel turns to Cordelia as he rubs his arm. Her smack not actually hurting him but doing it to show his confusion.
“Oh don’t you play stupid with me. I can see right through it.:” she says, poking her finger in his face.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. What’d I do?”
Looking even more distressed, Fred looks to Lorne and mouths “What. Do. I. Do?”
Lorne puts his finger to his lips and mimes ‘shh’ then inclines his head back to the couple.
“I DON’T know.”
Feeling a little spurned that he doesn’t want to kiss her, Cordelia goes into confident mode. “You know Angel, I was pretty experienced in this area back in high school. You may be surprised and actually like it.”
Angel’s eyebrows go up in surprise at her comment. But before he can even think about a reply, Cordelia’s moved in front of him. Putting her hands on his shoulders and pushing up to stand on her tip toes, her comes up to meet his. Only a hairs breath away, she stops.
“Kiss me back Angel” she whispers, pressing not only her lips but her entire body against his.
As her mouth silently offers him invitation, he finds himself responding without a second thought. His hands come up to cradle the sides of her face. Taking control of the kiss instinctively, he tilts his head and plunges into the warm sweetness of her mouth.
Stunned at the turn of events and the expert movements of his tongue and lips, Cordelia can do nothing less then give in to him.
Her scent invades his senses, her taste intoxicating him. The feel of her surrender sends a jolt through him, making him realize just who he has in his arms and how she got there. The revelation of the need for this woman in very possible way scares him and he retreats from the kiss. Looking into her beautiful face, he watches her dazed look focus and recognizes the questions swimming behind her eyes as they mirror his own.
They both come back to earth with the sound of applause and cat calls from their friends.
Pushing the confusing feelings down and plastering a smile on her face, Cordelia faces the lobby and bows.
“Okay, shows over guys. Lets eat!”
And as they all make their way to their seats, Angel comes up behind her and softly whispers in her ear.