Silent Night
by Jennifer-Oksana

First Christmas since I got out. It's something else. I don't think Santa's coming. It's more likely that the devil himself is finally gonna swallow us up whole, one day or the other. People are doing their best, but there's not much to do with. It's the second month of food rationing and there have been six riots since the government announced the city was under indefinite quarantine. No one gets in, no one gets out. We either win or we starve to death.

It's not exactly what I was expecting, ya know? I figured I'd be in Los Angeles, but I didn't expect I'd be running a losing war in a city without hope. And not really running the war so much as staving off the last days for a few more hours.

There aren't so many of us left. We're running a rescue mission more than a war, and it's always surprising who's left, busily keeping the world going for another hour or two.

"Get the fuck out of my kitchen!"

"Goddamn it, you're wasting our resources!" A clatter of pans, a clank of knives, but no way Lilah was gonna waste her precious glass cookware on a little scuffle like this. I don't think I expected Evil Lawyer Bitch to turn out to be our cook, but she said that it made her want to not kill things and the road to salvation was paved with vegetable shortening and kitchen witchery.

I didn't mind her after a while, though she never was the same after Wesley got himself killed and she lost a few fingers trying to recover the body.

"Faith!" screamed Gunn, pounding down the hallway. "You would not believe--she made cookies!"

God help me. I'm the youngest here except for Cordy and they think I'm the mommy. But it's Christmas, and even in days like this, the holidays bring out the damn worst in people.

"Don't you goddamn yell at me!" Lilah snapped. "If it's the last Christmas ever, I want some cookies to go out with. Like my mother used to make before she went crazy. And I traded for some chocolate chips with some Mexicans in the barrio from my own stuff. I wanted cookies, so fuck you, I made 'em."

"Chuck, yo," I said, rolling my eyes. "Don't mess with the cook, or she'll feed us Wonderbread quesadillas for a week. Besides, trailer park cookies."

Lilah sighed. "I swear to God, when I die, that British son of a bitch better be waiting for me with a convertible and the keys to my mansion. Or George Clooney. I'd settle for Clooney," she said. "Anyway, the second dozen's coming out of the oven. You want to take 'em upstairs?"

Even after all this time, the bitch had instincts. I smiled and nodded.

"I think she'll like that..."

It wasn't fifteen minutes later that I walked into the room where Cordelia was sitting, her eyes looking out toward the morning that wasn't coming. Her hand was on her stomach like it always was.

"How much longer, do you think?" she asked, smiling up at me when she saw me, wearing her loose shift that gave me a nice look at her cleavage. "It seems like this baby's never going to come."

I didn't want to tell her that the baby wasn't coming, that the baby couldn't come, couldn't be born or die or we'd all be worse than dead. It wasn't fair or right, but that's how it was.

"Just a few more days, Cordy hon," I said, kissing the crown of her head carefully. It had gotten long and dark again, without the money or the hairdressers to keep up the blonde short cut. She brushed it faithfully, though, and it was satin-smooth. "Look. We got cookies."

Cordy smiled. "What flavor?"

"Trailer park chocolate chip," I said. "Pretty damn good for a Christmas treat."

She took one and ate it in all of two bites. "Not bad," she said. "Aren't you gonna give me another kiss?"

I smiled and kissed her again, on the cheek this time. "I swear, babe, after the baby comes, we're gonna go somewhere nice, you and me. Maybe Paris. Or Disney World. You and me. No doubt."

Paris. Disney World. Hell, it was at least as likely as that baby coming.

"It'll be the best," Cordelia said, grabbing my hand and kissing it. Her skin was so soft, and it smelled like roses and baby powder. "No more bickering from downstairs--"

I knelt next to her and put my head on her thigh. She was always so warm. Just the thought of how warm she was made my heart beat a little faster. "No more smelly weapons or bloody demons--"

"Just us," she said, petting my hair. "You, me, and the baby makes three."

I shivered, hoping that Cordelia didn't see that I had goosebumps. Baby indeed made three and that was the thing I didn't want to think about. Baby watching our every move, feeling our every touch. It was too much to consider.

It made it hard, wanting her. And I did. It ached, thinking of what I could have if the baby would just get born or die already. But Willow had been so sure--so damn sure before she died doing the spell that kept that baby where it was--that neither could happen. And I trusted Willow more than I trusted myself on that score.

If I knew whether or not I wanted her, or if it was the influence of the thing, the thing whispering how sweet she'd taste, how warm and wet and ready she was for me if the baby could just come--if I knew, I could make decisions and not just wait, trapped in this waiting forever. If I knew.

I didn't, and I swallowed back the wanting, the imagining that if I asked, she'd touch me the way I wanted.

"When the baby comes," I said tiredly. "It'll be wonderful."

Her hand was sweet and soft on my shoulder and I closed my eyes, letting myself dream of the day when it would all be over.

Soon enough.