Title: A Christmas Carol, Sunnydale Style
Author: Robyn the Snowshoe Hare
E-mail: snowshoe16@hotmail.come
Part: 1/2
Disclaimer: I don't own these people. I might try to fool myself, but the doctors tell me that the first step to recovery is to accept that I did not invent the characters of BtVS, and I do not own the rights to them. Joss does. Also, I did not write A Christmas Carol, and my theme is not original. Those credits belong to Charles Dickens. I do not own my soul. This nice man with horns and a truly spiffy cape offered me free Sprite for life in exchange for it. Sucker.

Author's Notes:

I would like to thank, in alphabetical order, those good friends of mine who inspired me to write this. They are all great people, who are filled with the Christmas (and Hannekah, and Solstice, and Kwanzaa, ect) spirit year-round. Plus they make living without sanity much more fun.

Thanks to Ana, Anja, Anya, Arymede TDB, Bedwyr, Beth, Cabil, Charlemagne, Hunter, Isis, Jai, Jeanie TTF, Joel TPW, John TFS, Julia Sen, Julie TML, Lea TVB, Mediancat, Mek, Nat, Qianca TQC, Sam, Stargrass, Stone Cold, Tia, TJ Thwaites, Vamp Baby, Windrider, and Zak.

And special thanks to Petronius, who helped me out in the 15th hour with another of his great suggestians.

Continuity Note: This is set in my alternate universe, where Amends has never happened, nor all that insanity between Willow and Xander.

Note: Words in ~~'s represent thoughts. Often brooding thoughts. Sometimes happy thoughts. Though not usually. Although-

{ROBYN! Just shut up and tell the story!}

Oh, sorry. Ahem...

A Christmas Carol...


Twas the night before Christmas when all through the hou-

{Wait, wrong story. Sorry about that.}

The story actually starts on the day before Christmas, where Angel was lying in bed, trying to settle down for a long winter's nap. Well, not that the weather in Sunnydale really qualifies as winter, but it's the thought that counts in these matters.

Anyway, Angel was brooding. Big shocker. Buffy's mom was out of town, and she had invited him to Christmas Eve dinner at her house with the rest of the Scooby Gang. Angel had mumbled something noncommitable, and had hung up the phone. He hadn't seen anyone since Buffy since the 'Evil Oven-Mitt' incident, as Buffy termed it, and he wasn't exactly eager to do so.

~Why should I go, anyway?~ He thought to himself as he took his phone off of the hook. ~No one wants me there, Buffy probably just called me because she felt obligated to. They'll all be happier without me.~

Walking over to his fridge, he pulled out a bag of blood. ~Not exactly a Christmas ham.~

Taking a swig, he was startled by the feeling of a cold breeze against his back. Twisting around, he gave an audible gasp and dropped his dinner to the floor. He didn't even notice when the bag burst upon contact with the tiles, sending blood everywhere.

Of course, the sight of Darla seated comfortably in a chair would do that to anyone.

"Hi." she said softly. Angel backed slowly against the fridge, watching for any aggressive movement from his dam. After all, he had been the one to shove a stake through her unbeating heart, and he wouldn't really blame her for holding a grudge. But to his surprise, she remained seated, looking at him with wide blue eyes. There was also something very different about her, something that he couldn't quite place, but which became more obvious with every passing second.

"Did you cut your hair?" he asked. Immediately after the words came out, he realized how truly idiotic they were, and would've been under any other circumstances.

But instead of pointing that out to him, as she usually would have, Darla merely laughed lightly. It was the laugh that finally made Angel realize the difference. In the centuries that he had known Darla, he had often heard her laughter, and he had come to loathe the underlying hint of cold violence that always came with it. But this laugh was far different, it was light, innocent, and filled with joy.

"You're not Darla." he stated.

"Not as you knew her, no." she agreed. "But I am Darla, far more so than when you ever knew her. This is what I was before I was Turned."

"Why are you here?" asked Angel, now thoroughly confused.

"To give you another chance."

"Huh?" ~Oh, brilliant comeback, Angel.~

"Tonight you'll be visited by three spirits, Angel. To show you another path."

"Wait a minute, this is sounding like something out of Dickens." he said suspiciously. Perhaps he felt the thin thread of Fate wrapping around his neck. Or perhaps he just sensed a cheesy plot device, courtesy of an author who had listened to too many holiday carols. Either way, he was suspicous.

Ignoring his comment, Darla continued. "The first will visit you at twelve this afternoon. The second will visit at one. And the third will come at two. Pay attention to what they will show you." Angel noticed that she was fading as she spoke. When she had first appeared, she had been completely solid, right down to the pleat on her navy blue skirt. But as the almost unreal conversation continued, she had slowly become more and more insubstantial, until Angel could see a table right through her.

"What if I don't want to be part of this ridiculous-" Angel found himself saying the words to empty air, as he was once again alone in the mansion.

Shaking the experience off as just a hallucination from an overactive mind, Angel cleaned the blood off of the floor and went back to bed, where he fell into a restless sleep.

He was rather rudely awakened at twelve noon by the beeping of an alarm clock. This came as a surprise to him, as he didn't recall owning an alarm clock.

Burying his face into his pillow, he jerked upright when a too-familiar voice said, "Hey, wakey-wakey, sleeping beauty."

Looking up, he realized that it was indeed the person he thought it was. No two people could possibly have such a hideous fashion sense.

"Whistler." he whispered in amazement.

"Actually," the diminutive demon said, "for the purposes of today, I'm the Demon of Christmas Past."

Before Angel could say another word, the short man interrupted him. "Just hold onto my hat, and we'll be off." Doing so, Angel found himself flying through the air, coming to a halt on the tiled floor of the library. Jumping up, he glanced out the window, and was astonished to see that it was dark outside.

Looking around the library, he realized that it was decorated for Christmas. Elves cut out of colored paper covered the walls, scraps of wrapping paper littered the floor, paper plates filled with cookies lay on the checkout desk, and plastic cups were scattered everywhere.

Angel's gaze was drawn to the library table, where Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Cordelia were opening presents with childlike exuberance, while Giles looked on with a tolerant smile. The librarian soon found himself pulled into the circle as each student handed him a gift. Angel found himself smiling as he saw the man's chagrin as he received a box of Taster's Choice from Xander. Giles thanked the smiling teen solemnly, and placed the box ceremoniously next to the other gifts, a Bay City Rollers cd from Buffy, a teacup from Cordelia to replace one that she had broken, a New Age book on demons from Willow, and a bright red stocking with 'Mr. Giles' written across the top from all of them.

"So when is Dead-Boy getting here, already?" Xander asked, holding up a pair of sunglasses tied with a red ribbon. "I want to give him his present."

The boy was elbowed by both Willow and Cordelia at the same time, Giles threw him a reproachful look as Buffy's expression became wistful.

"Well," she said, "he didn't say he was definitely coming. He just said that he might swing by, if he wasn't busy."

A silence fell over the group, as Buffy looked out the window and her friends looked at each other sadly. A damper came over the happiness of the group. Xander broke it when he ran into Giles' office, and came out dragging a huge box that had probably had a refrigerator inside it at some point. "Time for your gift, Buffy!" he said happily.

The sounds of the scene faded as Angel watched as the Buffy of a year ago opened the box, to find a smaller box. Looking at her, Angel realized just how much she had aged in the past year, how the joy in her eyes was muted.

His thoughts were interrupted by Whistler, who said, "Too bad you didn't make an appearance that year, she was really looking forward to seeing you." turning, the demon looked at Angel shrewdly. "Now why was it you didn't come?"

Shuffling his feet, Angel muttered, "I didn't feel welcome. And she deserved a normal Christmas."

"Ah, one where her boyfriend stands her up."

"No!" Angel shouted, glaring at him. "One where she's surrounded by her friends. I would've just reminded her of all the death that was waiting for her. Besides," he continued defensively, "I *was* busy that night."

"Maybe." Whistler said doubtfully. Angel glanced back at the group around the library table, where Buffy had just pulled out a small package. At least ten boxes of all sizes were scattered around her. Opening that final package, she revealed a framed picture of the entire gang, gathered around Giles' car.

Angel felt Whistler tug at his sleeve. "Come on," the badly dressed man said firmly, "let's go see what was so important that you couldn't be with her on Christmas Eve." The warmth and smiles of the library faded away, replaced with the stark chill of Angel's old apartment. Angel saw himself seated at the table, dressed in black, drinking steadily out of a bottle of whiskey with the firm intention of passing out.

"Yeah," Whistler said sarcastically, "that would be my choice over a night with friends any day. You did know, didn't you, that Buffy and Willow delayed the party for almost two hours, hoping you'd show? Giles tried to call you, but you had taken your phone off the hook. None of them wanted you to be on your own for Christmas."

"I bet Xander did." Angel said, searching for one last defense. He winced slightly as his alter self tipped over backwards in his chair, unconscious before he hit the ground. Whistler shrugged. "If that gives you comfort." Glancing down at the vampire on the floor, he said, "Time's up. Let's get you home." Again, the room melted away, and Angel found himself back in his own bed. Glancing at the clock on his wall, he noted with a fair amount of fear the time, 12:58. Darla's words rang in his ears, 'The second will visit at one.' Unconsciously, Angel pulled the covers around his shoulders in a vain attempt to protect himself. He stared at the clock as the seconds ticked by, until again that mysterious alarm went off.


Glancing around wildly, Angel was relieved to see no one. Then he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"Hey, Dead-Boy, let's get moving already. I don't have all day here."

Turning, dreading what he would find, Angel looked behind him.

There stood Xander LaVelle Harris, eating a Twinkie as he slouched against a wall.

Part 2

Ask La Poodela To Take You Home