Willow was lying on a cloud. It was soft and warm and enveloped her. There was an angel singing nearby.
"Silver bells, silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city."
Willow rolled over and pulled the cloud over her as a series of bells began ringing, accompanying the angel.
"Ring-a-ling, hear them sing, soon it will be Christmas day."
As Willow began to wake up more she realised that she was lying in bed rather than on a cloud and that the bells were her alarm clock. However she had been right about the angel singing.
"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style"
After a few moments Willow realised that there wasn't any more coming. Opening her eyes, Willow turned the alarm off then, sitting up, she asked, "Why did you stop?"
Tara was sitting over by the dresser, brushing her hair. Turning to Willow she said, "I don't know any more."
"Isn't today the day that Dawn gets back from University?"
Tara nodded, "And the day we find out who we're Secret Santas for."
"Oh yeah," Willow said. "I'd forgotten about that."
Tara looked skeptical, "Okay, two things. One you've got an almost perfect memory. Even if you didn't, Buffy's been reminding us about it for the last week. So how did you forget it?"
Willow smiled as she remembered how excited Buffy had been since she had come up with the idea. At first Willow had been uncertain, till Buffy had told her she would be someone's secret Jewish Santa. "So we're going over there this evening for the great name drawing?" Her face fell as she added, "I suppose Faith will be there."
"Well she does live there." Tara sighed. "Can't you try to be nice?"
Willow humphed, "I'll have you know I'm always nice." Willow looked hurt as she went on, "In fact I'm nicey mcnice nice."
Tara got up and went to sit next to Willow, putting her arm around her. "I know, I wish you could just get along with Faith better."
"I do too," Willow said in a quiet voice.
"I mean I know you have a lot of history which makes things hard but..."
"That's not it, I mean I'm totally over those things. It's just Faith and I don't really have anything in common. Whenever we're alone there's just this awkward silence, then I get nervous and start babbling and I know she thinks I'm an idiot and is laughing at me."
"Now no one could think you're an idiot," Tara said.
Willow sighed, then said, "I guess we just don't mesh."
"Maybe." Tara looked thoughtful as she said this.
The scene at Buffy and Faith's house was markedly different, with the two slayers already up and doing their morning exercises. Faith, who had been doing sit-ups, paused to ask, "When are we leaving to pick up Dawn?"
Buffy had been working on a punching bag. She stopped to turn to Faith to answer, "In a couple of hours."
"And when are the others coming?"
"At six, just like all the other times you asked."
Faith did another couple of sit ups then paused again to say, "I guess Willow will be along."
Faith had tried to keep her voice light as she asked this. She had apparently failed since Buffy asked, "What does that mean?"
Faith avoided Buffy's eyes as she said, "Nothing."
"I wish you would make more of an effort with Willow. I mean it's hard having your girlfriend and best friend not liking each other."
Standing Faith said, "It's not that I don't like her. I mean she's pretty likeable I suppose. It's just we don't have anything in common. I mean when we're alone she's normally talking a mile a minute and I'm suddenly monosyllable girl and I know she's thinks I'm an idiot. She's probably laughing at me."
"There's no way Willow thinks that you're an idiot."
Faith shrugged, "I guess that we just don't mesh."
"Maybe." Buffy looked thoughtful as she said this.
Later that evening everyone gathered at Buffy's house. They were sitting round the living, waiting in breathless anticipation waiting for Buffy to explain the procedure. Xander and Anya were kissing under a piece of mistletoe which had mysteriously appeared. Tara and Dawn were thumb wrestling. Giles was cleaning his glasses, Willow was checking her text messages and Faith was looking through a motoring manual.
"Okay so...” Buffy stopped when she realised no one was paying attention. “Ahem!” When everyone had turned to her she went on, “I've put everyone's names on a piece of paper and I've put them all into a hat," Buffy explained.
"What about if we draw our own name?" Dawn asked.
"Obviously you put it back in and draw again. Um, don't tell anyone who you drew..."
"D'uh," Dawn said, rolling her eyes.
"And no swapping," Buffy finished, ignoring her sister with well-practised ease.
As Buffy was taking the hat around Willow leaned over and whispered to Tara, "I can't believe this."
"We've got Goddess knows how many computers between us and she's drawing names out of a hat."
"Well this is probably quicker," Tara reasoned.
"I wrote a random number generator last week..." Willow stopped as she realised that Buffy was standing in front of her. Willow reached into the pile and began feeling through the pieces of paper, trying to find one that felt right.
"Can you pick one before Christmas?" Anya asked.
Annoyed, Willow grabbed one of the pieces of paper. Willow had always been uncertain whether God existed. Looking at the paper she realised there was a God. That there were many Gods and that they all hated her. The paper read, "Faith." For a moment Willow considered pretending it had been her own name and redrawing but Buffy had already moved on. Sighing, Willow wondered what on earth she could buy Faith.
Once everyone had drawn a name Buffy put the hat away before saying, "I'll get some drinks. Tara could..."
Before Buffy could finish Tara had stood up saying, "I'll help you."
Going into the kitchen they both said at the same time, "We need to talk."
"You go first," Buffy said.
"No, you," Tara insisted.
"No... We could do this all night. Okay then I want to talk about Willow and Faith."
"Me too," Tara said. "As long as you mean the fact they don't seem to be able to get along and you're not going to suggest a foursome."
Buffy looked shocked for a moment before saying, "Oh this is more of that spicy talk, right?"
"Am I getting better?" Tara asked, looking hopeful.
"I'd stick to being all empathic and knowledgey if I were you. Anyway what are we going to do about our girlfriends. Having them not get along is really causing a strain."
"I know." They both thought about it a moment. Suddenly a light bulb went on above Tara's head. Tara stepped back, looking up in surprise.
"Oh yeah, that light's been playing up for a while now," Buffy explained. "I really need to get the wiring checked on it."
"Well anyway I've got a plan," Tara said.
Walking home Willow asked, "So what were you and Buffy talking about?"
"Well she suggested that we all go out on a shopping expedition, pick up some supplies for Christmas, look for presents, that sort of thing."
"So it'll be me, you, Buffy and Dawn?"
"Well Dawn won't be able to come, but Faith will be there."
"Oh well that's okay then," Willow said, trying to sound cheerful.
On the Saturday of the trip Willow got up saying, "I'm going to take a shower."
Tara didn't move. A couple of weeks ago Anya had decided she was going send seasonal cards to all her regulars. Tara had been in the shop at the time and Anya had managed to persuade Tara to help. Tara had left a note reminding her about it on the dresser, hoping that Willow would see it.
"Hey Tara," Willow said.
"Yes?" Tara answered in a sleepy voice.
"When were you going to help Anya?"
Resisting the urge to cry out with joy Tara sat up, a shocked expression on her face, "Oh no, that's today."
"Well do you think Anya could do it another day?"
"I don't know, she seemed quite insistent that it be today. Maybe she can do it without my help," Tara looked thoughtful a moment then said, "Maybe you should go without me. I mean it'll be a chance for you to catch up with Buffy, you haven't seen her in a while."
"I guess," Willow said, not seeming too enthusiastic.
"And maybe I could pick up a surprise for when you get back.
"Okay then," Willow said, seeming to perk up.
When Willow had left Tara whispered to herself, "The perfect crime."
Willow poked her head back in, "Did you say something?"
Tara assumed an expression of angelic innocence as she said, "I just said, I love you."
Willow grinned, "I love you too."
An hour later Faith's car pulled up. Going out, Willow was surprised to see that Buffy wasn't in the front seat. Getting in, Willow looked round in the back. Buffy wasn't there either. Willow was about to look in the glove box when Faith said, "Buffy isn't here, something came up." Faith looked out the window before saying, "Isn't Tara coming?"
Willow shook her head, "Something came up."
"Well do you still want to do this?"
"Well we probably should. I mean it'd be a shame not to after we got all ready and everything. Also the shops will be busy if we go later, well busier I guess because they're already pretty busy now."
You're babbling, Willow thought.
I know, I can't help it, She thought back to herself.
It's easy, just close your mouth and stop talking.
Willow shut her mouth and a silence descended over them as Faith pulled out and started driving towards the mall. After a while the silence began to grow awkward.
Maybe I should say something, Willow thought.
No, that's the last thing you want to do.
Faith began tapping her fingers against the steering wheel.
Well we can't sit in silence the whole way, Willow argued to herself.
Shortly after Willow had gone Tara got ready to go to the Magic Box. She glanced at the clock on the way out, about nine o'clock. Tara figured she'd take an hour, at most two in order to finish helping Anya, then she'd have the afternoon in order to find something for Willow and Xander.
Arriving at the Magic Box she greeted Anya, "Morning."
"Good morning Tara, are you ready to start working?"
"Yes I am. I..." Tara stopped as Anya came through with two large boxes of cards.
Seeing Tara's expression Anya said, "Don't worry we've got another couple of boxes in the back room."
"Are we going to need that many?" Tara asked.
"Of course. I've got a list of all the people I want to send cards to." She got out a few sheets of paper which all seemed to be covered in names.
"They're all regulars?" Tara asked.
"Well they've all visited a couple of times."
"But I thought it'd be just people who came at least every month."
"No we'd hardly attract new business like that, would we?"
"I guess not," Tara said as she started to understand the point behind this. It occurred to her that her estimate of two hours was probably optimistic, though she expected she'd still have most of the afternoon for present buying.
"I'll just get some pens," Anya said, going into the back room.
As Tara moved over to the table she spotted a note on it. Reading it she called, "Anya when's this meeting for the Small Business Guild?"
Anya came rushing into the room saying, "Oh hell. That's today. I would skip it but there's a really important vote. Is it okay if I leave you with the cards?"
"I guess so," Tara answered, thinking she'd have to leave her shopping till the next day.
"Thanks, I appreciate this," Anya called as she rushed out of the shop.
It occurred to Tara that if she was a cartoon character she would have changed into a lollipop with the word sucker written on it.
As Anya walked away from the shop she smiled to herself with relief at avoiding doing the cards. "The perfect crime."
Once Faith and Willow had parked the car they headed into the Mall. They had just reached the entrance when Faith stopped and asked, "Is it getting hot?"
"Yeah, also I can smell brimstone."
A short distance away a portal opened and a tall demon stepped through. Her body had pieces of metal going through it at several points, many of which were adorned with shreds of human body. She pointed at Willow and growled, "You. You have thwarted me twice so far but this time I will...."
Before the demon could say any more a bus slammed into her, sending her flying into a wall.
"Not again," The demon moaned, before, with her body crushed, her spirit was yanked back to hell.
"That was one ugly demon," Faith commented as they walked into mall.
"Not so good with the road safety," Willow added. "Or the oral hygiene."
Faith glanced back at where the demon had been before saying, "Reminded me of an ex girlfriend."
As they stepped through the entrance to the happy, fun shopping land the first thing that struck Willow was how busy the place was. All she could see was a sea of people milling round the various shops. The next thing she noticed was the noise, As well as the sound of the crowds there were several different Christmas tunes being played. Finally Willow noted the decorations. Mostly these comprised of glitter and lights but there were also several robotic mice, dressed up like Santa Claus. For a while part of her wanted to turn and run away. Not seeming to feel any of this trepidation Faith just forced her way through the crowd. Willow followed quickly behind, using the opening that Faith was creating to get through.
After they'd been going a while how long Willow noticed a shop she wanted to visit and said, "I need to go and pick up the present that I bought for Tara."
"That was lucky, I mean drawing Tara."
"Oh I didn't, but I thought I'd buy her something anyway. I mean you're getting something for Buffy, right?"
Faith looked doubtful a moment before saying, "Oh yeah, of course."
Finding the correct shop, Jana's Jewellery Emporium, Willow was relieved to get away from the crowds. Going up to the counter, Willow pressed the call button. A few moments later an oldish woman came in. "Ah, Ms Rosenberg, the bracelet you wanted is ready. I'll just get it." She went out into the back room. A few moments later she came back out with a small box. She set it on the counter and gently opened it.
Once Tara had told Willow about how her mother had given her a charm bracelet and that she had spent years collecting charms for it. That is until Donny had stolen it from her and thrown it in the river. While browsing the on-line catalogue for this shop she had seen a bracelet that she had thought Tara would like. She had phoned them up to order one and to ask them to make five charms for it, each representing one of the elements.
Picking the bracelet out of the box Willow said, "It's beautiful."
"That'll be one hundred and ninety nine dollars please."
Willow put the bracelet back into its box before taking her wallet out and handing her credit card to the woman.
Tara ticked off another name from the list and rubbed her wrist. Reading the next name on the list she thought, "That can't be right." Putting a note next to that name Tara looked at rest of the list she sighed with dismay. She was only a quarter of the way through it. She just knew that she was going to have a bad case of writer's cramp by the end of the day. "I just hope Willow will massage it better." Thinking about Willow made her remember what she had done. "Oh no, Willow's probably going to hate me. She'll hate me and with this stupid cramp I won't be able to make it up to her."
Tara was broken from her thoughts by her phone ringing. Getting it out of her pocket she saw that it was Anya. Answering it she said, "Anya, I thought you had a meeting?"
"Yes, I was just able to nip out to make this call. I really need to ask you something."
"Well you see I want to get Xander something nice for Christmas but I don't know what to get. I thought you might be able to help."
"Why me?" Tara couldn't help asking. She didn't know what she should buy for Xander, so she didn't really see how she could help Anya.
"Well you always seem to be able to understand people, so I thought you might have some insights into what he might like."
"I'll think about it, okay?"
"Before you go, there's a name on your list for a Maru Wilkins, is that right?"
"Let me think. Oh no, that must be a typo, it should be Mary. I need to get back into the meeting. I'll talk to you later." With that the call ended.
Tara was going to go back to the cards but decided she needed to get a drink first. Walking through into the training room she grabbed a cup and filled it from the water cooler. As she slowly sipped from the cup Tara wondered how she had managed to get herself into this situation.
As Tara went into the magic box Anya was just finishing up with a customer.
“You and your money have a nice day,” Anya called as the customer made his escape. Turning to Tara she said, “Good morning Tara.”
“Good morning. You know it's our anniversary next week.”
“Yes, I made a note of it in my calender.”
“Well, remember how Willow went to all that trouble to put on a surprise for me.”
“You want to do something in return for her,” Anya guessed.
“Yes, only keeping it secret will be difficult. Making the arrangements and everything.”
“Well I can help with that.”
Tara smiled, “I was going to ask that, thanks.”
Later, when Anya had asked for help with the cards it had sounded like a small price to pay for Anya's help. Now though she wasn't so sure about that. She just wish that she'd known what she knew now when she'd agreed to do this. If only there was some way to warn herself, such as a postbox that sent it's messages back in time. Tara shook her head, wondering where that idea had come from.
Willow walked following Faith around the mall getting more and more agitated. How was she going to buy Faith's present if Faith was always around. Not that she knew what to buy. She'd spent the whole morning with Faith but still couldn't think of anything the Slayer would want.
Finally growing tired of walking round looking in overcrowded shops Willow said, "What about going to get some lunch?"
"Sure, I could do with a drink." With that they started to the cafe area.
"Must resist urge to kill," Faith thought as a woman with a double stroller barged in front of her, almost tripping her up. So far the trip was something of a bust. She hadn't seen anything Buffy would like, plus there was no way she'd be able to buy anything for Willow with the redhead hanging around. Not that she had any idea what to buy Willow. She just hoped that once she'd gotten some food in her and a drink she'd be able to think better.
After buying some sandwiches and drinks they began looking round for a free table. At one point they got separated from each other. Faith turned round, scanning the area for any sign of Willow.
"Faith, over here."
At first Faith didn't know where the call had come from, but then she spotted a flash of red and headed in that direction. Eventually she found Willow standing by a free table. They sat down and started eating. As the silence dragged on Faith grew more and more uncomfortable. She wanted to say something, but wasn't sure what. Finally she remembered something that Tara had told her, "So I hear you've just gotten some sort of grant."
"Oh yeah, Well actually it's a fellowship from the McArthur Foundation, um," Willow hesitated, not sure how to explain the fellowship without sounding like she was boasting, "for very clever people."
"'Super geniuses', was the phrase Tara used."
"Oh, well um..." Willow blushed at this, "Richard Stallman and Stephen Wolfram have both received it in the past."
"Well if I had any idea who they... Wait a minute, Wolfram? Aren't they the lawyers?"
"Oh no. He's a mathematician, nothing to do with the law firm."
"Well that's okay then. Did you hear that I got a promotion?"
Willow nodded, "Yes, Buffy mentioned it." Six months ago Faith had been Looking through the local paper when she noticed an ad from the local cave rescue service looking for recruits. This was dangerous work with the constant danger of earth-quakes, cave-ins and vampires, so they were regularly looking for new people. Faith had signed up, as a short term thing to start off with. However she had found she had a real knack for it. This along with the fact that the mortality rate had dropped since she joined meant that she been noticed by her superiors. Faith had recently been put in charge of one of the rescue teams. "Congratulations on that."
Faith seemed uncertain, "Well I'm still not sure this is what I want to do."
"From what Buffy says you're really good at it."
"Well I think she's just doing the loyal girlfriend bit. Though I guess I'm okay at it." Faith shrugged.
After throwing the paper cup away Tara started to go back to her work when her phone rang. This time it was Dawn.
"Hi Tara. I was going to buy Giles' present but I wasn't really sure what to get him."
"And you wanted some help."
"I thought since you like a lot of the things Giles does, well you might know something he'd like."
"Well you know, you just need to think about something personal that you can give him, something that will make him think of you when he looks at it. Those are the sort of presents I appreciate most."
"Okay, and if that fails I can buy a really old book, right?"
"That'll work too."
"Thanks Tara, bye."
"Bye." No sooner had Tara hung up than her phone began ringing again. "How am I supposed to get these cards done with all these interruptions," Tara muttered before answering the call. "Hello Buffy."
"Hey, Tara. Just a quick call. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on what to buy for Dawn."
Tara took a moment to digest this before saying, "You want help buying a present for your sister?"
"Well sure. The two of you are always hanging out together, so I'm sure you know what she'd like."
Tara suppressed a sigh before repeating the advice that she had given Dawn.
As they left the cafe Willow and Faith both started to say, "You know there's..."
"Sorry, you go first," Willow said.
"Oh I was just going to say there was a sports store I wanted to check out and that you probably wouldn't be too interested in, so I thought maybe if there was somewhere you wanted to go..."
"Oh, I was going to say I needed to pop into the computer store."
"Oh well that works out then."
"Yes it does." As they went their separate ways they both breathed a sigh of relief that it had gone so easily.
Willow walked along the shops thinking, "Well I managed to ditch Faith but what do I buy for her? What do I get for the cleavagey slut bomb who has everything." As she paused in front of one of the shops Willow thought, "What's Faith into. Well there's slaying, but what else. Of course there is sex." Willow smiled as she thought, "Slaying and laying. Maybe I could get something that combines the two, like a stake that could be used as a vibrator. Though you'd need to be careful about splinters and... OUCH!" The smile vanished as she thought, "Buffy and Faith have been together for more than a year. I should know her better than this by now."
Willow turned and continued walking, still trying to remember something she knew about Faith.
Passing an engineering store Willow stopped. She remembered Buffy saying that Faith spent a lot of time fixing up old cars. To be precise she remembered Buffy complaining about Faith coming in covered in oil after fixing up an old car. She was sure she'd find something that Faith could use in here.
Faith walked away from Willow trying to think of what to buy. Her cave rescue job, whilst rewarding spiritually, wasn't so rewarding financially. Which meant she wouldn't be able to spend much on either Willow's or Buffy's present. She was broken from this chain of thought as she passed a computer shop. Stopping to look in it she thought, Isn't this the shop Willow wanted? Looking back the way Willow had gone it occurred to her that Willow had gone completely the wrong way. I guess even super geniuses can get lost. I should remember that next time I'm feeling intimidated by her. This thought made Faith stop short. The woman who had been following close behind Faith had to sidestep around her, scowling as she did so. Faith was oblivious to this as she went over what she had just thought. She had faced Vampire lords, demons and plagues of rabbits. It was ridiculous to think that she was intimidated by a diminutive redhead with a tendency to babble and a fear of frogs. Yet it was also true, Faith realised. She did find Willow's intelligence intimidating. All her life People had told Faith that she was stupid, sometimes she had believed it herself. So it wasn't surprising that she was a little put out by how smart Willow was. More than that, she realised, she was worried that Willow would decide she wasn't good enough for Buffy and that she would try to come between them. Faith realised that this fear had gotten in the way of them being friends. Resolving to do something about this, Faith continued onwards through the crowds.
Tara glanced at the list and was relieved to see that she had nearly reached the end. Putting the pen down she rubbed her hand. "So the question is, do I finish the list then go for coffee or go for coffee now and finish the list later." After giving it a moments thought she decided, "Well I'd better get this finished now." No sooner had she made this decision than her phone started ringing again, "I ought to turn this thing off." Looking at it she saw it was Anya again. "Hello Anya, has the meeting finished?"
"Actually no. You see Carleen came to the meeting today and she's set one of her famous challenges, so the meeting's overrun a bit."
"I was wondering if you had any ideas about my question. You know, what to buy for Xander?"
"I'm afraid not. I'm still thinking about it though."
"Oh well, okay then. Bye."
"Bye." Putting her phone away and looking back at the list of names, Tara decided she really needed that coffee. Getting up and going to get the keys for the shop Tara left and went to the Espresso Pump.
Willow met up with Faith near the information center. "So did you get what you wanted?"
"Yeah," Faith answered, "What about you, weren't you going to some computer shop?"
"Oh, yeah. They were sold out."
Faith nodded, "Not surprising, given the number of people here. Well there was something I wanted to show you." Faith got a box out of one of the bags she was carrying to reveal a finely made silver necklace, fitted with Buffy's birth stone, along with a pair of matching ear rings.
Looking at the gift Willow didn't know what to say. For once in her life she was speechless.
"Is this a good silence or a bad silence?" Faith asked. Still getting no response Faith went on, "This is starting to creep me out. I mean normally you can't stop talking." As Willow still remained silent Faith said, "if you don't say something then we're going to have to have you committed."
Finally Willow said, "It's wonderful."
Smiling with relief Faith asked, "You think Buffy will like it?"
"I think she'll love it." Looking up at Faith she added, "Almost as much as she loves you."
"Really, you think she loves me?"
"As you'd say, It's wicked obvious."
They stood in silence a while till Faith said, "Are we bonding?"
Willow shrugged. "Looks that way."
"Do we have to hug?"
"I don't think we're that far along yet. I think we're still at the friendly handshake stage."
Faith held her hand out and Willow took it. Faith then shook her hand, squeezing a bit more firmly than was strictly necessary.
"That wasn't friendly," Willow said through gritted teeth after they broke contact.
"I really surprised you, didn't I? I mean you weren't expecting me to have bought something like that."
"To be honest, yes you did."
"Don't worry, I surprised myself as well."
Reaching the Espresso Pump Tara ordered a coffee and went to sit down. As she sat nursing the drink she thought about the day she had had.
A waitress who had been wiping down a nearby table looked over at her. She went back to wiping the table, then putting the cloth over her shoulder she walked over saying, "If y'all don't mind me saying, y'all seem rather sad."
"I was just thinking."
"Well if you want to talk about it..."
"Not rea..." Tara stopped as she realised that she did want to talk about it. "Well firstly Anya decided she wanted to send Christmas cards to pretty much everyone in Sunnydale in order to drum up business for her shop, and she tricked me into doing them all. Then there's the fact that my friends are doing the secret Santa thing, and I got Xander."
"Don't you like him?"
"Oh I do. I mean he's nice. Super nice actually. It's just I don't necessarily get him, you know."
The waitress nodded.
"I mean the only thing I know that he likes is Anya, and he's already got one of those."
"Well you know, you just need to think about something personal that you can give him, something that will make him think of you when he looks at it. Those are the sort of presents I appreciate most."
"That's what I've been telling everyone. Which is the other thing, everyone seems to think I'm some sort of present buying genius. All day I've been getting calls from people wanting me..." Tara stopped as her phone started ringing, "See?"
"Well I better get going, I'm supposed to be taking my wife and son to dinner tonight."
"Well thanks for listening, um..." Tara read the waitress's name tag before saying, "Elvis?"
"It's kind of a private joke."
When Elvis had gone Tara got her phone out. She was surprised to see it was an unrecognised number, "Hello?"
"Hi, Tara." A bubbly voice answered, "I wonder if you could help me."
"Um, who is this?"
"You know, Harmony."
"Harmony?" Tara tried to remember where she'd heard the name. When it came to her she said, "Aren't you a..." Tara glanced around then finished in a hushed tone, "vampire?"
"Oh, yeah. So are you going to help me?"
"What do you want?" Tara asked, hoping it wouldn't be help causing an apocalypse.
"Oh you see I wanted to buy Cordelia a present, something to say sorry for the whole trying to kill her thing and I've heard you're good at understanding people, so I thought that maybe you could help."
This is getting surreal, Tara thought, Now I've got a vampire I've never met asking advice on what to buy someone I've only met once, what do I tell her?
"Sorry, I was just thinking. What sort of thing do you think Cordelia would like?"
"Well she likes clothes. Ooh there's a new expensive dress shop."
"That's it. You could buy her something from there."
"Buy?” Harmony sounded shocked by the suggestion, “I was going to kill the staff and take it."
"I don't think that would be a good idea, I mean it would probably ruin the gift."
"Oh yeah, you can never get blood out of a silk dress. Fine I'll 'pay' for it."
"That is it." Tara said as she turned her phone off and resisted the urge to throw it away, "I'm going to finish off doing those cards then I'm going home to my Willow."
Willow and Tara arrived home about the same time. As they went inside Willow asked, "How has your day been?"
"Has Anya been overworking you?"
"I think I've got writer's cramp," Tara said with a pitiful expression.
"Awww, poor baby," Willow said taking Tara's hand in her own and kissing each of her fingers.
"So how was your day?" Tara asked, "Did you and Faith get on okay?" but Faith didn’t have a similar moment where she understood Willow, wasn’t that part of it?
"Yeah. I think that she and I understand each other better now."
Tara couldn't help smiling at this.
"There's no need to look so smug about it."
Tara wiped the smile from her face.
"Don't think I don't know that we were set up."
"But it worked out well, didn't it?"
“Well I suppose so,” Willow admitted, “As long as this was a one off thing.” Willow gave Tara a firm look, “I mean it, don't even think about setting me up on a shopping trip with Anya.”
“I wouldn't dream of it,” Tara said with an innocent smile.
The big day
On Christmas morning Willow and Tara walked to Buffy's house. They were greeted at the door by a rather anxious looking Faith, “Am I glad you're here.”
“Willow and Tara are here!” They could hear Dawn saying from the living room, “We can open the presents now!!!”
“But Xander and Anya...” Buffy started, sounding more than a little fed up.
“Why aren't they here yet? I bet they're having sex and they're holding everything up,” Dawn whined.
“What's wrong with Dawny?” Tara asked.
“Uh, well somehow the caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee got mixed. Dawn had had three espressos before we realised.”
“Oh dear.” Willow and Tara entered the house and watched in dismay as Dawn ran around the living room, flitting between the different chairs like an over-caffeinated humming bird.
“I suggested giving her some alcohol to counteract the caffeine but Buffy didn't like the idea,” Faith explained. “So we're hoping she'll tire herself out before too long.”
It was half an hour before Xander and Anya arrived, by which time Dawn had crashed from the exertion of the morning.
“Merry Yule,” Willow said as she gave Tara her present.
“Happy Hanukkah,” Tara replied as she gave Willow a gift.
“Have a crazy Kwanza,” They heard Xander saying, but they violently ignored him.
As Tara opened the present Willow had bought her all she could say was, “Oh!”
“What, don't you like it?” Willow asked, panicking.
Tara grinned. “It's wonderful.”
“Oh well I remember you saying you used to have one.”
Tara smiled, “Thank you. Now come on, open the present I got you.”
Willow opened it up to find it was a
“Is it okay?” Tara asked.
Willow answered by leaning over and kissing her.
Later that morning Faith tracked down Willow and walked over to her saying, “Thanks for the present. I've been needing a new toolbox for a while.”
“How did you know it was from me?”
“From your secret Jewish Santa? That was a bit of a give away.”
Willow's face turned a deep shade of red, as if trying to outdo her hair. “Oh, I guess that was a mistake.”
“Nah, it's alright. It's not like anyone here's any good at keeping secrets.”
“True. Oh and thanks for your present.” Willow held up the present in question, a device for backing up the data from her phone's SIM card, “It's surprising how often your phone can get wiped while fighting demons.”
Faith gave Willow a curious look, “Okay, how did you know?”
“Well you're the only one who calls me Red.”
They stared at each other a moment before saying, “Wow, that's weird.”
“Do you think our better halves fixed it?” Willow asked.
Faith shook her head, “I'm not sure Buffy's that sneaky.”
“She was sneaky enough to trick us into going shopping together.”
“True. I'll have to ask her about that.”
Standing in the kitchen Tara and Buffy had heard all of that exchange. Tara turned to Buffy, an eyebrow raised as she asked, “So did you?”
“Did I what?”
“Fix the draw?”
“Do you honestly think that I would?”
Tara decided it was best not to answer that.
"I promise you, I had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was the powers that be," Buffy speculated, "Trying to get Willow and Faith closer so they'll be able to work together better against the forces of darkness."
"Or maybe it was a coincidence," Tara said.
"Yeah, or maybe that." Buffy shrugged, “At least they're talking to each other now.”
Willow woke up to find herself on a cloud, with an angel singing nearby, with bells accompanying her.
"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks. Dressed in holiday style.”
Willow realised that the cloud was actually a sofa and that the bells were a game being played in the other room. She'd been right about the angel though.
“In the air there's a feeling of Christmas.”
Willow sat up, feeling a burst of pain in her head as she did so.
“Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile."
Willow rubbed her forehead, waiting for the room to stop spinning.
"And on every street corner you'll hear..." Tara stopped as she saw that Willow was awake, “Did you enjoy your nap?”
“I had too much nog.” Getting up Willow walked over to Tara asking, “What are you doing?”
“I was just trying to work out how to put together the desk Mr Giles bought me. There isn't any English instructions, but, fortunately there is a set in Latin.”
Willow leaned over to kiss Tara, “Cool, do you want some help?” Willow sat down next to Tara and began helping her. While they were working they both began singing,
"Silver bells, silver bells,