Disclaimers: I don't own any rights to Cordelia, Angel, Buffy, Xander or Doyle. Wish I did. Also don't any rights to A Christmas Carol - that's all Charles Dickens. But why am I disclaiming that? People rip that off every Christmas and never mention that it's not theirs. But I digress.
Notes: Yes, it's another Christmas Carol morality tale. I couldn't help myself. 'Tis the season!
"Why is every freaking station playing Christmas music????" growled Cordelia Chase loudly from the front of the office.
"Maybe because it's Christmas?" Angel yelled back.
Appearing at the doorway to his office, she looked annoyed. "Yeah, well, that's no excuse! I want regular music. You got any CD's downstairs?"
"Yeah, I do. But, I kind of like the Christmas music." He seemed apologetic. "C'mon Cordelia, you've been like this for weeks."
"So? What the hell do I have to be thankful for this Christmas? Huh???" She folded her arms over her chest and leaned back against the doorframe, glaring at him, daring him to answer.
"Well, you're alive for one thingâ€¦", he began.
"Yeah, I'm alive. Whoopee! Let's take a deeper look into my charmed existence." She began to list things off on her fingers. "My dad's in jail. My mom's a drunk and living with my grandmother in San Bernardino, and neither of them want anything to do with me. I make barely enough to live on working for a Vampire with a soul, whose profession regularly puts me in peril. I have no acting career to speak of. I have a Phantom for a roommate who scares away all my dates. I have no friends. And lets not forget my favorite: Doyle's gone, and he left me with the amazing ability to see the future or whatever, which comes along with brain splitting migraines, and the prospect of having my eyes stolen by demons for auction. Let's run out and celebrate! Where's the nog?" She gave him her best withering look. He was undaunted.
"Cordelia, it's not as bad as all that. You have me. I'm your friend, and I need you."
"Yeah, you need me to light your way to the lost souls you have to save and to make coffee and do your paperwork. And, yeah, I know you care about me, and this life might be enough for you Angel, but it's not for me. I feel so useless and angry all the time. You know what? The PTB can kiss my butt! They've dealt me enough losing hands. And you know what else? BAH HUMBUG! I am sick of Christmas!" She turned on her heel and stormed out of the room, purposely knocking over the Christmas tree as she grabbed her purse and slammed the door on her way out of the office.
Angel watched her go with a look of sadness on his face. "Merry Christmas, Cordelia", he sighed.
Slamming her front door behind her, Cordelia dropped her purse on the coffee table and hung her coat up on the coat rack. Walking into the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of Iced Tea and then flopped down on the couch. Man, her life sucked.
There was no part of her that wanted to enjoy the season this year. All she wanted to do was curl up in her bed and cry. Pride wouldn't let her, however. So she fell back on her routine bitchiness. Placing her glass on the coffee table, she grabbed the remote and flicked on the TV. A little mindless channel surfing should take her mind off things.
She flipped through the few channels that she got with basic cable. What was on? "Jingle All the Way", "Home Alone", "A Christmas Story" and her personal favorite, "It's a Wonderful Life." Yeah right, she thought to herself. It's a crappy life. Suddenly her glass moved across the table. "Cut it out, Dennis. I'm not in the mood."
The glass moved back to its original position, and the remote floated out of her hand. The channel changed to reveal another Christmas movie. "Scrooged." Grabbing the remote, she shut off the TV with a loud click.
"Yeah, well maybe I am a Scrooge, but I have good reason to be," she told her ghostly roommate. "And besides, what do you care anyway? You're dead, and you can't even celebrate!" Throwing the remote control back onto the table, she again began to mumble to herself. "Christmas Eve and nothing normal is on. Why do people get so wrapped up in this damn holiday anyway? It's just an excuse to waste tons of money on people you don't really care about and stuff they don't need. I was right before- bah humbug." She punctuated the last statement by grabbing the blanket off the back of the couch and wrapping herself up in it. Rolling on to her side, she got comfortable. A nap was just what she needed to forget about this stupid holiday.
The Powers That Be looked on from the other realm. This one had much to learn. "Alright, send out the Spirits," called a voice. The Oracles looked at the sleeping girl, knowing what she was about to experience would change her life.
The sound of rattling chains woke her up. "Damn it, Dennis, shut off the TV. Can't you see I'm sleeping," she grumbled.
The sound continued, and in fact got louder. "Dennis, I'm warning you. I know people who would be more than happy to perform an exorcism. I've done it before." Rolling to face the back of the couch she tried to ignore him.
That was when she heard it. It was a moaning whisper. "Cordeliaâ€¦ Cordeliaâ€¦" Opening her eyes fully, she stared up at the ceiling. "What do you want Dennis?"
The rattling continued, as did the moaning. The voice was starting to take on a familiar tone. She tried to place it. "Xander?"
She rolled over again to come face to face with her ex-boyfriend. "What the hell are you doing here? And what's with the new look?"
He stood in the center of the living room, wearing typical Xander attire, except he was draped from head to toe in cast iron chains. He smiled at her.
"Don't just stand there. How about an explanation?"
Sighing, and rolling his eyes, he started to speak. "You have lost the Christmas Spirit, Cordelia Chase."
"Yeah, so? What do you care?"
"I am here to warn you. You must change your ways or face the consequences."
She sat up on the couch and raised an eyebrow at him. He relented. "Okay, so forgive me for trying to put a little effort into this!"
"Into what?" It was at that point that she noticed she could see through him. Gulping, she blurted out, "Oh my god, you're dead!"
He laughed, then took pity on her. "No, actually, I'm not. The real Xander is at home in bed with Anya. I have taken on his likeness so as not to frighten you- I am here as a warning. To let you know that you will be visited tonight by 3 spirits."
"You're doing that spooky thing again."
"Oh sorry. So, three spirits are going to come tonight to convince you that you shouldn't give up on Christmas. The first will be here at the stroke of midnight. So you better be ready."
"Yeah. You do remember the deal right? They are going to show you around your past, present and future so you can see things aren't that bad."
"Okay, sure, whatever." She rolled over again, ignoring him. "You got in, and you can let yourself out. And trust me, I don't know what you and Anya are into, but the Chains look- big turnoff."
"You have been warned, Cordelia Chase." And with those final words, the rattling stopped, and quiet once again invaded the room.
"Yeah right, 3 spirits. Leave it to Xander to come busting into my dreams on Christmas Eve and ruin my nap." And with that, she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
A loud bong invaded her dreams. It continued until it had struck 12 times. It was then that she remembered she didn't have a grandfather clock. Opening her eyes, she was greeted with the sight of her former, well, I guess she could be called friend, the Slayer, Buffy Summers.
Groaning, Cordelia sat up on the couch. "Oh, Buffy, go away, I am so not in the mood for this crap."
Buffy rolled her eyes and stepped forward, grasping Cordelia by the arm and hauling her to her feet. "C'mon Cordy, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. Now we get to go check out what things were like for you when you were a kid. I am actually dying to know. I bet you got all kinds of great toys."
"No, Buffy, I really just want to sleepâ€¦"
"SILENCE!" came the booming voice of the Slayer. At Cordelia's widening of the eyes, her voice softened. "I love doing that! Anyway, I am in charge here. You don't get a choice- we're going whether you like it or not."
"Wait a minuteâ€¦ how are you here and in Sunnyhell at the same time?"
"Damn, girl, don't you pay attention? Xander said you were being stubborn but, manâ€¦ Like he already explained, the real me is at home in bed. But since I am a spirit, I have to take on the likeness of someone you know so as not to scare you too badly. And Buffy represents your past very well, no?"
"I guess. Okay fine, let's go. We aren't driving are we, 'cause as I recall, you are a worse driver than I am."
Buffy laughed and grabbed Cordy's hand. "No, we're flying."
Cordelia grumbled something like "It better be first classâ€¦" before she was lifted off the ground by an unseen force, and Buffy flew them out the window towards the past.
They touched down outside Cordelia's old house. Dragging the unwilling girl toward the window, Buffy looked inside.
"My god, you guys had a lot of money! Look at those decorations!"
Cordelia frowned. "Yeah, well gold plated stars, fir wreaths, and 15 foot trees only get you so far in life."
Buffy squealed in delight as a little girl came out of the kitchen. "Look, is that you?"
Cordelia glanced at the child. Shoulder length, chestnut hair, done up in curls and ribbons, a flowing, spotless white dress with black patent leather shoes. "Yeah, it's me."
"Nice dress! You were cute. Where are your parents?"
Cordelia groaned. "Who knows."
Buffy looked at her strangely. A woman in a black dress with a white apron followed the girl. "Cordelia, come on. It's time for bed."
"But Esperanza, they promised. They said they would be home this year!"
"Ay dios mio! Cordelia, sweetheart, I know they promised. And I know you wanted to look special for them. But it's after 10. I don't think they are going to make it. Why don't you go get changed for bed?"
"But it's Christmas. I didn't even get to open any presents." The child frowned as she shuffled out of the room.
Buffy looked over at Cordelia as a tear ran down her cheek. "Way harsh. Did they ever make it home?"
Cordelia brushed her cheek, drying the wetness. "It depends. How old am I there?"
Buffy looked at the scroll she held in her right hand. "You're 6."
"Yeah, they came home. 3 days later. And they bought me a pony."
"Well, that's pretty nice of them, right?"
"Well, it would have been if they had remembered I'm allergic to horses.
They laughed when Esperanza reminded them, like they were saying 'Who could
possibly be allergic to horses?'"
"Ouch." Buffy quieted as Cordelia re-entered the living room in cute pink footie pajamas. Esperanza waited for the child, who climbed up into her lap. "'Speranza, will you tell me a bedtime story?"
The maid kissed the girl's head and hugged her. "Of course, mi nina, but first I have something for you."
Cordelia's face brightened as the maid reached behind the couch and grabbed a large package, wrapped in bright red paper, with a shiny bow on top.
Tearing into the paper, Cordelia screeched in delight as the wrapping revealed an Easy Bake Oven. She nearly strangled the maid with her hug. "Thank you so much. It's just what I wanted!"
Esperanza smiled. "I know, and I am going to help you bake beautiful cakes and pies in it!"
Buffy looked at the present Cordelia next to her. "I didn't know you liked to cook."
"I used to sit in the kitchen all day watching Esperanza bake all these great things for my parents. All I ever wanted to do was cook. But my mom didn't like the idea. Said it was beneath me to prepare food. She threw the oven out."
Buffy and Cordelia watched as the maid carried the child off to bed. "Can we go now? I think I've had enough of this depression."
"But, don't you get itâ€¦ you still loved Christmas, and hoped that one day your parents would show up." At the scathing look she received, the spirit changed tactics. "Okay, fine, we're almost done. But we have one more stop to make." Grabbing her hand, Buffy again floated them off throughout time.
They landed in a foot of snow outside a ski lodge. Buffy looked to her companion. "Do you know where we are now?"
"Yeah, we're in Aspen- last Christmas."
"You don't sound thrilled. You told us you had a great time."
"Well, guess what, Buffy? I lied! I lied about a lot of things last year." She stepped toward the window and peered in. The now grown up version of herself sat on the couch with red eyes, watching a movie.
Suddenly, her mom appeared from the hallway. "Delia, what are you doing?"
"Just watching a movie, mom."
"Well, the snow is great. Aren't you going to take a few runs?"
"No, mom, in case you forgot, today is Christmas. The lifts are closed."
"Oh. Well, can't you find something to do for a few hours? You know, away from here?"
"Why mom? Is Claude coming over for a quickie before dad gets here?"
"Oh, shutup! And stop crying over that loser boyfriend of yours who screwed around on you!"
"He's not a loser, mom! He's a nice guy! Just because his family doesn't have any money doesn't mean he's a bad person!"
"You're defending him? He was cheating on you for Christ's sake! Have
some pride! God, sometimes I wonder if you're really my daughter." She
her heel and stalked out of the room.
Cordelia wiped a tear off her face with the tissue she was clutching in her hand. "I wish I wasn't."
Outside, Buffy looked at Cordelia. "Where is your dad anyway?"
"Well, right about now, he's probably in a meeting with the IRS, who are telling him that he's going to be investigated for Tax Fraud for the past 12 years. He'll come stumbling loudly into the house around 4 am stinking drunk, wake us up, crying that it's all over- how he's probably going to go to jail."
"Man that sucks." They watched again as the Cordelia inside stood, pulling on her boots and her coat. 'Where are you going?"
"I went for a walk around the resort." She stopped talking as she watched herself pause at the Christmas tree, picking up a particular present. She threw it into the trash on her way to the door.
"Who was that for?" asked the Buffy-spirit.
"Xander. I had bought it before... and I was just kind of hoping we would get back together."
"But, you wouldn't even talk to him."
"That doesn't mean I didn't love him." She faced the ghost. "Can we go now?"
"Yeah, I guess." Buffy grabbed her hand and thew flew off into the night.
Arriving back in her living room, Cordelia walked back to the couch. "Aren't you done here?"
Buffy shook her head. "I'm supposed to ask you want you've learned so far."
"That my life, and especially my Christmases, suck. Is that what you wanted me to see?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I see you haven't learned yet. Another spirit will come. At the stroke of 1. Be ready."
And with a poof she was gone. Cordelia covered herself with the blanket and went to sleep.
This time when the non-existent clock bonged in her ear, Cordelia opened
her eyes immediately. She was dying to see who they sent to her next. But
only person in the room was Angel.
"How did you get in here?"
"You invited me a long time ago, remember?"
"Yeah, but you don't have a key… Oh I get it- you're the next one."
"Yes, I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Are you ready?"
"I guess so. Where are we going this time?"
"We are going to visit your friends. To see how your gloomy outlook and your absence has affected others this year."
"But… oh fine, let's go." She held out her hand. Angel didn't take it. He snapped, and she found herself in the office. "That was quick. So, we're at the office- where are you?"
"Look around", was cryptic guy's answer.
She wandered through the main part of the office into Angel's inner sanctuary. He sat at his desk, sipping a shot glass full of Whiskey.
"So, he's bummed, doesn't he have a right to be?" The Angel ghost made a shhh noise and motioned for her to listen. The Angel at the desk began to speak.
"I'm sorry, guys, I'm so sorry." He picked up a picture from the corner of his desk and looked at it. It was of himself, Doyle and Cordelia. "Doyle, I know I didn't know you for too long, but honestly, you were the best friend I had in years. And Cordelia- I was hoping Christmas and all the decorations would help cheer you up a bit, but I know it's useless. You miss him too much." He put the picture down and finished the whiskey, and poured himself another shot.
The Angel ghost looked at Cordelia and rolled his eyes. "And you thought I was broody before. Look at him- he's turning into a pathetic mess. I'm surprised he doesn't stake himself."
The Angel at the desk opened a drawer, and pulled out another picture. It was of Buffy. He stared at it for a minute, then broke down into tears. The ghost turned to the girl at his side. "He's hurting, too, you know. And if you had been just a little receptive to his help, maybe he wouldn't be like this. He deserves a Merry Christmas, too, and let's face it, you're all he's got now. But with you off sulking, it looks like Angel's in for a pretty miserable time."
Cordelia made a face of disgust. "He is pretty pathetic. But it can't be all my fault! I didn't kill Doyle, and I didn't decide to become a Vampire again after I got everything I ever wanted in life."
Spirit Angel shook his head in annoyance. "Well maybe we should go look at some of the others."
"Others? What others? Nobody else give a crap what I'm doing."
The spirit lifted his hand, about to snap his fingers. "You'll see, Cordelia. You'll see."
The snap brought them to Sunnydale, where Giles, Buffy, and Willow sat in Giles' living room drinking hot chocolate. Well, Giles was drinking tea. Cordelia turned to her guide. "You're trying to tell me these losers still care about me? Yeah right- I bet they haven't given me a second thought since I left!"
Angel motioned to the group, silently telling Cordelia to listen.
Buffy sipped her cocoa, then began to speak. "Man, this sure isn't like last Christmas."
Giles grimaced. "You're right. There was snow last Christmas. But the same amount of moping."
Willow looked up at Giles. "Yeah, Buffy, he's right. We're just as miserable this year."
Buffy looked at Willow. "I know Oz is gone, but he'll be back. You just have to keep believing."
The red head looked incredulous. "Believing? I believed last year that Oz and I would get back together, and we did, but look how it turned out. And what about you? Angel's gone for good now, after all you did to keep him alive last Christmas, he still walked out on you." Willow took a sip from her mug to punctuate her sentence.
Buffy exhaled loudly. "I know. I was just trying to look on the bright side. Maybe Cordy and Angel are having a good Christmas in LA."
Willow scoffed. "Any Christmas for Cordelia has to be better than last Christmas. I mean, yeah she got to go to Aspen, but I mean, after what Xander and I did... she still had to be pretty hurt. I wish I could tell her how sorry I am. I mean, I know what that feels like now, and I wouldn't wish that on Faith, never mind Cordy."
Giles got up at that point, and walked over to the window. "I think we could all use another Christmas miracle."
Cordelia looked at her spirit guide. "Are you saying that just because Willow feels bad about what she did that I should forgive her, you know, in the Christmas Spirit?"
"No, Cordelia, what I am saying is that they haven't forgotten about you. You may think you're friendless, but I know you still have a few left in Sunnydale."
Giles turned away from the window to look at the girls on his couch. "Where is Xander tonight?"
"He's doing his annual Christmas campout. Although I think he got a tent this year." Buffy grinned as she said it.
"Why, because of last year's snow?"
Giggling, Willow answered Giles. "Yeah, well, that and I think Anya's sleeping out with him this year."
The watcher's mouth formed a round O, and the girls started to laugh.
"See, Xander doesn't care anymore- he's having a great Christmas with Anya- he's forgotten all about me!" exclaimed the bitter ex-head cheerleader.
Angel raised his hand again, about to snap. "Let's just go find out, shall we?"
They popped into Xander's back yard, where there was indeed a tent set up. And a light was on inside, making shadows appear on the side of it. Xander and someone feminine, one would guess Anya, were currently involved in a tickling war.
Cordelia rolled her eyes in obvious disgust at the giddiness coming from the tent. Glaring at Angel, he again motioned for her to listen.
"Xander, not there!" Anya gasped. "You know my feet are the worst spot!"
In a mockingly deep voice, he replied, "Too bad, for I am Xander Harris, victorious in all tickle wars. I show no mercy!" He laughed and continued to torture the former demon.
"Xander, stop, I swear I am going to wet my pants!"
"Do you concede?"
"Admit that I won and I'll stop."
"Okay fine, you won. Happy now?"
The Xander shadow pulled away and raised his arms over his head in a victory stance. "Aha! I win again! Winner, and still champion- Xander 'lightening fingers' Harris."
Anya, still regaining her breath, made a noise of disgust and blurted, "You're such a… Dorkhead!"
Everything froze. All motion ceased and slowly the words were spoken, "What did you call me?"
"Um, Dorkhead." she replied. Seeing his look of shock, she continued. "What? Did I say something wrong? Is that a huge insult or something?"
Xander took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "No, it's nothing really. It's just that, well… that's what Cordelia used to call me."
"Oh." All was silent for a minute, until Anya, queen of tactlessness, decided to speak. "So do you still love her or something?"
He nearly choked on the water he had been sipping. "Love? Me? Um, can we not talk about this?"
The former demon, still not great on the human perception skills, got angry. "You do, don't you? You still love her, and I am just a cheap replacement you can have sex with until something better comes along!" She grabbed her coat and starting to put it on, headed for the door flap.
"Anya, wait!" He grabbed her arm as she was unzipping the tent. "Please sit down. I guess this was all going to come up sooner or later, so we might as well talk about it now."
She complied, and sat down again, waiting for him to continue. "Well?"
He began slowly. "I did love Cordelia very much, and I guess part of me always will. And I do miss her now that she's gone. But I screwed that up- bigtime. And I think that I will never fully get over the fact that I hurt her so badly. That was my mistake and I am trying to learn from it. But what we have is different. You are definitely not a replacement for Cordy because you are so completely different. With you, it's like I see you grow more human every day, and I like being a part of that. Every day I like you more and more, and even though I don't know if I love you yet, I know that I want to be with you. I want to discover whether I love you, like you're discovering how to be a regular person. Do you understand?"
The female shadow wiped at her face. Xander moved closer to her, pulling her hand away from her cheek. "Are you crying?"
Anya laughed. "I guess I am. I didn't know I could do that."
"Well, now you do. So, are we okay?"
In answer, she simply moved in for a hug. Angel looked at Cordy, who sat speechless on the grass outside the tent. "Okay, so maybe he does still care. Can we go home now?"
Angel looked at her intently, wondering if she had been affected at all by the revelations so far. But before he could ask the simple hug inside the tent turned into an intense make-out and groping session. He snapped his fingers before they were treated to a taste of the Xander/Anya lovefest.
Back in her apartment, Cordelia looked at the spirit as he turned to leave. "So who's coming next? Christmas Future, right?"
"Have you learned nothing?" asked Angel.
"Yeah, I learned that if I wanted I could go back to Sunnydale and people wouldn't cringe. Whoopee! That so makes my life worthwhile!"
Angel pointed at her, meeting her gaze intensely. "You only have one
chance left Cordelia. The last spirit will be here at the stroke of 2."
The clock sounded twice and Cordelia sat bolt upright on her couch. A short figure dressed in a hooded cape stood before her. "Okay, we're so not doing the Father Death look. Who's under there?"
The figure pulled back the hood slowly to reveal a familiar face. Cordelia jumped off the couch and ran for him, her arms winding around his neck in a fierce hug. "Doyle? Is it really you?"
Hugging her back, the Irishman laughed. "Well, sort of. I'm as real as can be expected since I'm kind of dead at the moment."
She pulled back and punched him in the arm angrily. "What were you thinking?"
"Well, I'm sorry I gave you the visions, but someone close to Angel had to be able to see what was going on."
"Not that. What were you thinking jumping on to that thing? How could you die on me?"
He looked at the floor sheepishly. "It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time." She hugged him again, not quite believing it was him. He pulled away to say, "C'mon, we have to get going. We don't have much time you know."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah... I have to get back my Christmas Spirit, I know. But I'd rather spend this time with you. I miss you a lot you know."
He brushed the hair off of her face. "I know. But right now this is
more important." He waved him arm in a half circle in the air, and they
faded out of her living room.
They faded into a place she had never seen before. "Where are we?"
"Your house." He answered. It was a huge spacious house, much like her childhood home, and it was decorated for Christmas in bright bows and lights.
"Wow. I must marry someone rich! This place is nice!"
"Actually you did marry a rich guy- take a look." He pointed to a man coming out of a study, fixing his tie.
"Not bad," she said, but broke off as a young woman came out the door after him. He looked around the room, turned and kissed her. "Okay, so we're clear on the plan?"
She nodded her head and went back inside the study. He called out, "Cordelia, honey, time to open your present!"
Cordy looked at Doyle. "He's cheating on me right under my own roof?"
"I guess so." The conversation broke off again as Cordelia entered the room. She was still thin, but she looked old and tired, with frown lines on her forehead and crow's feet at the corners of her eyes. She was also drunk.
"Oh my god! I look terrible! How old am I here?"
Doyle looked at her sadly. "Princess, you're thirty five."
"What? I look fifty! What the hell happened to me?"
Taking a deep breath, Doyle asked, "Do you really want to know?"
"Yes, I really want to know! How could I let this happen?"
"Well, let's see. You never went back to work for Angel after that Christmas.
Told him you couldn't stand hanging around the office anymore- too depressing.
So, you got a job in a bank. As a teller. And you started to drink. Not
too much at first, just enough to get you through the rough spots. But
then you met Jeffrey. He was a manager at the bank, handsome and definitely
upwardly mobile- you knew he'd be runnin' the bank someday, if not a whole
chain of them. So you married him. Problem was that the whole time you
were gone, Angel had been looking for a way to bring me back. And he finally
found a spell to do it, and when I showed up on your doorstep, you fainted.
When you woke up, the shock was so great that it caused you to miscarry
the child you were pregnant with. After you recovered, you went into a
deep depression because of the loss of the baby. Also, you realized you
could never get back your old life, and if you had just had faith that
could come back, you would be happy. So that led to more drinking. Then about 2 years ago, Angel and I died in a run-in with the Scourge. You were devastated, and you had no one to turn to, because by that time, your husband was sleeping with his secretary. And that pretty much brings you up to date."
Cordelia looked at the scene in front of her in horror. "My god, what did I do to myself? I turned into my mother!"
She watched as her husband poured her a large drink, and handing it to her, sat down next to her. "So Cordelia, are you having a Merry Christmas?"
"Oh shut up, Jeff," she slurred. "I hate you."
"Not as much as I hate you, dear."
"Well, if you hate me so much, why don't you divorce me?"
"And give you half of my assets? Not likely, hon."
"Will you stop with the Hon's and sweeties? There's no one here but us. You don't have to pretend."
"You're right, you drunken witch. I don't. Thanks for reminding me."
"Why don't you just leave? Go to your secretary's house for a quick lay- what's her name, Paula, Petra…?"
"Her name is Pamela. And speaking of her, I decided it was time the two of you met. Pam? Could you come out here?"
Cordy looked at her spirit guide. "What the hell is going on? Is he nuts?"
"Yeah, I think he just might be," came the response.
The young blonde they had seen before came strutting out of the study like she owned the house. "Hello Cordelia. Merry Christmas."
Cordelia stood up, sloshing her drink on the floor. Walking over so she was eye to eye with the girl, she spoke in a tone that belied her anger. "Merry Christmas? You little whore! Get out of my house!"
"Why? You know you don't love him anymore. Why go on pretending that you do?"
"Why? Why? Are you insane? He's my husband for Christ's sake! Mine, do you hear me you bitch!"
Behind Cordelia, Jeffrey stood, and grabbing the poker from the fireplace, swung it like a bat, striking Cordelia in the back of the head. Both Cordelia and Doyle gasped as they watched the blood begin to pour down her back and her body crumple to the ground.
"Not any more," he whispered menacingly before striking her again to finish the deed.
Leaning over the fallen woman, he kissed the blond soundly on the mouth.
Waking up in a cold sweat, Cordelia screamed, "NO! I don't want to die! Doyle, help me!!!!"
The heavy knocking at the door woke him out of his deep sleep. He stumbled to the exterior door and opened it to reveal Cordelia with an armful of presents and a Santa hat on her head.
"Merry Christmas, Angel!"
"Merry Christmas to you." He mumbled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
Shoving the presents at him, she walked over to the kitchen. "Okay, what have you got to eat around here, because I am going to make us the best Christmas feast ever!"
"Cordelia… I thought…"
"Well, I had a change of heart, okay? So do you happen to have a ham or turkey in your freezer? Cause that would be so yummy."
"No, I actually have a roast that you could defrost though, if you really want to cook. Do you know how to cook?"
"Of course silly! I love to cook. You know, I used to want to be a chef. That was until I realized most Chefs enjoyed their cooking way too much. Packing on the pounds wouldn't work for me."
He was silent as she began to pull pots and pans out of the cupboards. She turned around to see him standing motionless. "Well don't just stand there- go get dressed! Then you can help me, because I am going to need it. I haven't done this in a long time. After we eat we can open presents- I know you're so going to love the stuff I got you."
He smiled and headed for his bedroom door, but paused as she called his name quietly. "Yeah?"
"I just wanted to say that I appreciate you trying to get me to feel better about Doyle. And I am sorry I blew up at you yesterday."
"One more thing- are you still looking for ways to bring him back?"
He nodded and looked at the floor silently.
"Good. Keep trying. I think someday, it might work out." At her smile, he stepped into the bedroom and grabbed some clothes. He walked into the bathroom and shut the door.
As she heard the shower turn on, she began to peel a potato. Grinning to herself, she muttered, "God bless us, every one."