Title: Christmas by Moonlight
Author: Lamia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: Dawn Summers/Richard Zeeman
Challenge: Bah Humbug, twisted shorts.
Word Count: 1325
Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it. All things Buffy belong to Joss et all; all things Anita Blake belong to LKH.
Summary: Dawn’s first Christmas in St. Louis.
A/N: Part of the Moonlight series. And yes, I know I shouldn’t be writing sequels before the first story is done, but I saw the challenge, and I couldn’t resist.
Christmas By Moonlight
Dawn sat at her desk as the last of her students left for the day. Actually, she sat at her next nearly the whole day. The last day before Christmas break was no time to actually try to teach anything, so she went through a full day of classes letting her students spend their time socializing. She was actually proud of herself. She went through six classes and an entire lunch hour listening to rambunctious thirteen year olds plan out their holiday activities, and she only had to stop herself from banging her head on the desk four times.
It was sad, really. Christmas used to be one of her favorite times of year. Family, presents, and lots of food, what wasn’t to love about that? Of course, this year her family was six hundred miles away. That took a lot of the fun out of opening presents and gorging on endless food. Richard had invited her to spend the holiday with him at his mother’s house, but she didn’t want to intrude on his family moment. Besides, it just wasn’t the same if she didn’t have to fight Buffy for the last of the cranberry sauce. She wiped an escaping tear from her face, happy at least that none of her students decided to linger and catch her crying.
Taking a deep breath, she sat in the silence of the empty classroom, trying to figure out when she had become so pathetic. She was the one who wanted to move away from Cleveland. She was the one who wanted a life outside the council. Okay, Dawn, get it together. Tonight is the last time you’re gonna see Richard for a week, and you don’t need to broadcast your dweebness.
Her mental berating finished, she dug a tissue from her desk and dried her eyes just in time to see Richard enter the room.
“Hey you.” She gave him the best smile she could manage, which was considerably better now that he was there. He always made her feel better, and she was gonna feel as better as she could before he left.
“Hey you.” He closed the door before crossing the room to sit on her desk. “So, you gonna tell me why you were crying, or do I have to tickle answers out of you?”
“I wasn’t…Fine. I cried a little. But it’s no big. Just getting sentimental in my old age.” That earned her a smile. God, the things that smile did to her…”So, what are we doing tonight?”
“Well, since you seem so determined to spend the real Christmas all alone, I thought we’d do it a bit early.”
“Do what early?”
“Christmas. Go home, get dressed, and come by my house to get your present. And I’ve got a surprise for you.” She wasn’t sure she liked the look in his eyes when he said that. Which is why she had to ask.
“Is it a good surprise, or an I’m-gonna-spend-years-plotting-revenge surprise?”
“Good surprise. Promise.”
“Is it a naked surprise?” Naked smoochies would definitely make her feel better.
“You’ll just have to come by to see.”
* * * * * * * *
Two hours later she pulled up in front of Richard’s house. Stepping out of the car, she smoothed her dress over her hips before walking up to the door. She was still dreading the holiday, and being alone for it, but Richard wanted an early Christmas, so she decided to at least act festive. This was why she was wearing a forest green dress, complete with matching heels. The dress even had red trim across the top, which covered just enough to be in public, and the hem, which was just low enough to get one of her students sent home if they wore it to school. Richard never really answered the ‘naked surprise’ question, but this dress was sure to help her in getting there.
She knocked on the door, and a moment later Richard stepped out onto the porch, closing the door behind him. Just the sight of him made her knees go weak. God, he was only gonna be gone a few days, but she was gonna miss him something awful.
“Ready for your present.”
“Is it something I need to prepare for?”
He just smiled as he handed her a small gift-wrapped box. She carefully removed the paper to find a velvet jewelry box, just the right size for...
“Richard, it’s beautiful.” She looked up from the gold and diamond ring to find Richard kneeling in front of her. A few seconds later, she remembered to breathe.
“So, you gonna make an honest man of me?” She just stood there, unable to speak around the rapid breaths she seemed unable to control. His chocolate eyes danced at her, obviously enjoying her moment of speechlessness. After what felt like an eternity, she gave up the effort to form word and tackled him to the ground, her lips finding his, putting all the words she couldn’t say into a kiss. When they finally broke the kiss, he just lay there, pinned beneath her, and smiled.
“Is that a yes?”
“Yes it is.”
“Good. Now you get your surprise.”
Dawn jumped to her feet, dragging him up with her.
“That wasn’t my surprise? ‘Cause, I’m not sure I could take anything more surprising and not have a heart attack.”
“Just one more.”
Richard opened the door and they stepped into darkness. As soon as he flipped on a light Dawn was almost deafened by the massive shouts of “MERRY CHRISTMAS DAWNIE!”
“Oh. My. God.” Dawn stopped dead in her tracks, looking around at the people standing in front of her. Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, Faith, even Andrew, were all gathered in Richards’s living room. “How?”
No answer came. Not at first, anyway. Dawn was passed from hug to hug as her friends and family all spoke in a rush of greetings. The next several hours were spent catching up, decorating the tree, and drinking lots of eggnog. She got the story in bits and pieces. Richard was worried about Dawn being so obviously depressed about Christmas, so he called Buffy, who got everyone to St. Louis. Even Angel and Spike, who were staying at the Circus, where the ‘official Scooby Christmas party’ would be the next night.
Later in the evening, Dawn drug Richard into the kitchen, looking happier than he’d seen her in days. She said nothing, just gave him the look that he knew meant “spill it.”
“Un-uh. Spill. How long have you had this planned?”
“About a week.”
“A week? But, you’re supposed to be leaving tomorrow to go to your mom’s for Christmas.”
He shrugged. “And you’re supposed to be setting in for a good long pout. I couldn’t actually leave you all alone for Christmas, I love you too much. So I called Buffy so you’d have your family here. The proposal was actually supposed to be later, after we were alone, but I had to distract you. The surprise wouldn’t work if you were paying enough attention to hear the six extra heartbeats in the house.”
“Oh. So, when are you leaving?” She was torn between being ecstatically happy, and utterly depressed that he was still leaving her for the holiday, just not utterly alone.
“I’m not. I called my mom after I called Buffy. Her and my brothers will be here tomorrow. We’re all gonna have Christmas dinner here.” He pulled her into his arms and held her close while he continued. “Family should be together this time of year. And, as long as you marry me before you realize you could do much better, you are my family. Which makes your family my family. And this made a lot more sense in my head.”
“Does this mean no naked surprise?”
“I’m sure we could work that out.”
Maybe Christmas wouldn’t be so bad after all.