The ham has been eaten, the nog has been drunk, the presents have been opened, and now it’s time for something new. They’ve decided that it’s a year to make new traditions; to break away from old schedules and activities in favor of something they’ll all enjoy; something that they can look forward to as a group
Gone is the standard viewing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story while wearing their pajamas and drinking hot cocoa. No one cares if Ralphie shoots his eye out this year because they’re all too busy getting dressed up in their outdoor gear and talking excitedly.
Actually, not everyone is excited about this new tradition. Giles has opted out in favor of reading a book by the fire and Andrew is still protesting even while putting on his snow pants. Still, he’s joining in because really, who wants to miss out on seeing a bunch of slayers and their bestest of friends go sledding on Christmas night?
“It finally stopped snowing out,” Kennedy announces as she comes in from outside, stomping her boots off on the mudroom floor.
“Perfect timing,” Faith replies. “Everyone got their sled?”
Xander blows one more lungful of air into the inner-tube he’s been working on for the last ten minutes and then closes the valve. He’s a bit out of breath but he still finds his smile. “That’s the last one. I think we’re good and ready for some death-defying holiday antics.”
Everyone grabs an inner-tube or sled and makes their way out of the door, following the path Kennedy shoveled to the driveway and then out to the street. Their boots crunch loudly on the snow but the night is otherwise silent, all of their neighbors safe inside their houses for the evening.
Faith carries one inner-tube under her arm and the other by the handle so that she can still hold hands with Buffy as they make their way down the street to the empty lot at the end of the block. Buffy looks a bit like an Eskimo with only her nose, eyes, and cheeks showing but even still it’s obvious that she’s smiling; her eyes totally give away her happiness.
Dawn runs ahead of the group and reaches the lot first, her warm breath creating plumes of while smoke in the frigid night air. She turns around and waves everyone over, a huge smile on her face.
“We’re the only ones here,” she announces. It’s a pleasant surprise; usually the three-acre lot is full of neighborhood children and adults. The farmer who owns it doesn’t care if they use it for sledding; in fact, he’s been known to keep a few extra sleds around for those in need. “Last one down is a rotten egg!”
She grabs Andrew’s hand and yanks him down onto the two-person toboggan she carried there. He tries to protest but before he can do anything about it, they’re halfway down the hill and Dawn’s loud whopping is almost loud enough to drown out his scream.
The rest of the gang reach the top of the hill and place their sleds and inner-tubes in the snow, looking down the slope and across the fields that lay before them. Without being asked, Willow chants a few quiet words and holds her arm out to the sky. When the chant is finished a few bright lights shoot out of her fingertips and linger above them in the air, giving them a bit more illumination.
One by one they head down the hill, Kennedy first, then Willow and Xander, and then two slayers who happen to be staying at the house with them.
Buffy and Faith watch them slide down from the top of the hill, still holding hands and still smiling. Buffy has snuggled herself against Faith’s side and Faith casually leans down and presses her lips to the top of Buffy’s head, kissing it through the knit cap and hood covering it.
“This is the best Christmas in the history of ever,” Buffy says, her words a bit mumbled because of the scarf pressed over her mouth.
“Kinda is,” Faith agrees. “Hey B?”
“Mmm-hmm?” Buffy asks, turning slightly so that she can look up at Faith.
“You’re the best present I ever got.”
“Well I should hope so,” Buffy replies, smirking. “I mean, I know that jacket I bought you this year is pretty awesome but I mmmph . . .” Her words are cut off by Faith who kisses her softly, thumbs caressing over her cold cheeks.
Faith pulls away after a few seconds and they both smile at the razzing they’re getting from the bottom of the hill.
“C’mon,” Faith says, sitting down on one of the inner-tubes. “Let’s show them how this is done.”
Buffy grins and sits down on the tube between Faith’s legs, resting back against her and holding on for dear life. They take off down the hill at record speed, laughing and dodging snowballs that their friends throw at them.
It’s not the most eloquent of holiday activities and probably one that they’ll pay for with sore muscles and frostbite, but it is, without a doubt, the best Christmas they’ve ever had.
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