Who's Afraid of Red, White, Green
By LadyCat and Estepheia
Download the Ebook (please use right click and save as)
Monday, December 1, 2003
"Oh my god, it's so pretty! Can we keep it? Pretty please?" Harmony
squeed, bouncing up and down and clapping her hands, oblivious to the incessant
phone ringing that emanated from her deserted desk. Her enthusiasm was
completely unbecoming for both a creature of the night and the assistant of the
CEO of an evil multi-dimensional corporation.
"What the hell is that?" Angel asked, arms folded, craning his neck
and squinting at the huge and dazzling object that had completely taken over
the hallway outside his office.
The phone rang.
"Well, it's a Christmas-tree, boss," Harmony informed him in her best
duh-voice, her pitying glance clearly saying 'don't you know anything?'
"I know what it is," Angel said with false patience. "What I
want to know is, what's it doing in my lobby?"
The phone rang.
"Your lobby?" Spike said, drawn to the hot spot of bossy ire
like a stray cat to a fish-monger's trashcan. He sauntered up to the older
vampire, stopped right by Angel's side, arms folded in front of his
chest—imitating Angel's posture—and studied the enormous pine tree before him.
"Last thing I heard, your supreme sourness was just runnin' the
place. Didn't know you owned it, too."
The phone rang.
Angel studiously ignored the blond annoyance, though the tangible aura of his
displeasure went up a notch. "Harm. The phone?"
"Oops. My bad. Sorry, boss." She scurried back to her desk to answer
the phone and hopefully to mix him his morning blood.
Angel scanned the room full of the Monday morning crowd of briefcase-carrying
lawyers, secretaries, scientists, and security guards who had stopped on their
way to their offices and labs and were now lingering in the lobby, gaping at
the huge tree in various stages of incredulity and unease.
The pine tree was enormous, more than twenty feet high. Its evergreen branches
laden with red and white striped candy canes, red ribbons, glitter balls, and
tinsel in silver and gold. Ornaments added a carefully orchestrated wave of
color, warm gingerbread-men and the cold, clean line of snowflakes keeping the
eye from being overwhelmed. Hundreds of burning candles, real ones from the
smell of it, flickered slightly whenever the elevator doors opened to admit
more W&H employees. Fake snow covered the floor around the tree and
something sparkling amongst the whiteness hinted at the presents a tree like
this invariably represented. A strong scent of resin, beeswax, oranges,
gingerbread, with a hint of moist, dark earth filled the lobby.
Beside Angel, Spike was greedily breathing in the mixture of scents. His
obvious zest didn't exactly improve Angel's mood. "Lorne!" Angel
"Let me guess, you think it looks a bit bare without entrails and
such," Spike commented, sarcasm tinged with just a hint of pettiness.
Gesturing towards the crowd of suits he added, loud enough for everyone to
hear: "You could eviscerate a few of your law-thumpers here, string 'em
up, like you used to. Would make the rest of 'em feel right comfy and
nostalgic, I bet. Plus they'd work their evil little asses off, so as not to be
next on the chopping block. "
There was a hush and all eyes turned to Spike. Several people turned a whiter
shade of pale.
Angel shot him a withering glance. "He's kidding," he barked into the
Spike smiled evilly.
"Angelcakes," a cheerful voice could be heard, and then the
green-skinned demon barged through the crowd, two stressed looking personal
aides trundling in his wake frantically balancing cell phones, writing pads,
and a dozen mail order catalogues.
"Isn't it ab-so-lute-ly gorgeous?" Lorne exclaimed, beaming
with pride. His blindingly red and white suit had obviously been picked to
match the candy canes on the tree, and the lapel of his jacket boasted a twig
of mistletoe. "Best pine to be had, flown in especially from Canada, no
expense spared, and we didn't even chop it down. See that Italian terracotta
pot? Roots still intact. Once Christmas is over this fantabulous puppy will walk
"Not literally, I hope," Angel said with a frown. He was about to say
more but was interrupted by Fred's arrival.
"Oh Lorne, it's absolutely beautiful!" she exclaimed, taking her time
to admire it.
"You do realize this is the first time we've ever had a Christmas tree in
this building, right?" Knox told her quietly, but loud enough for the two
vampires and the Pylean to make out his words.
"Really?" Fred asked him, "but I mean, how can people not
celebrate Christmas? It's like the best time of the year, right? What with the
cookies, and all the nice smells, and the eggnog. Who'd want to miss out on all
"The whole birth of the savior thing? The firm wasn't really big with the
'saving' theme," Knox explained, grinning ruefully. "But you know, it
does kinda spell 'Under new management,' so yeah, I guess it's cool. I'm sure
it will be lots of, you know, fun, once we all get used to it."
"You'll see, by the time it's Christmas Eve you'll all be full of
anticipation, just like the rest of us, Knoxy, and hanging your stocking from
that umpah-umpah machine."
"Yeah, you're probably right. Anyway, I'll be in the lab." With a
cheerful wave and a nod towards Angel and the other members of the new
management, the scientist headed for the elevator.
Meanwhile, Lorne seemed to take Angel's prolonged silence as complete approval,
and he continued babbling about all the things he had planned, including
several parties that the bossman was expected to attend.
Wesley approached cautiously when he noticed the congestion in the lobby,
looking from tree, to Angel, and finally to Lorne. "It is rather
festive," he commented slowly, feeling out each word before speaking it.
"You did say you wanted something, um… upbeat, Angel, didn't you?"
Angel's frown deepened.
"Lorne, can I talk to you for a moment?" he said, gesturing towards
his office. "Now?"
"Well, I guess Cameron, Drew, and Lucy can wait. Let me just postpone my
breakfast appointment and then I'm all yours, oh bossy one." Lorne
dismissed his two aides with a string of rapid instructions, before following
Angel to his office.
Spike was the first to shrug and swagger after them, thumbs hooked into the
waistband of his pants. Fred and Wesley exchanged a glance and silently tagged
along as one.
"I don't remember asking you, Spike," Angel said, a sour look on his
"Wanna sue me for takin' an interest?"
Angel sighed. But he waited until Wesley had closed the door, before addressing
Lorne: "So, what's with the tree, Lorne?"
"It's my little drop of white paint, muffin."
Definitely not the response any of them had expected. "Your what?"
"Well you know what they say, sweetcakes, there's black and there's white,
but add just one drop of white to the black and it will be forever gray. The tree,
the parties, the sweet anticipation of presents galore are my drop of white,
and I'm going to make it as big a splash as possible."
Lorne rubbed his hands, oozing determination and a busier than thou vibe.
Nobody present had the heart to burst his bubble.
"See," he beamed, again deciding silence was approval, "I knew
you'd see my point. And now, my precious, you'll have to excuse me, because the
lovely Ms. Barrymore and I are supposed to discuss cameos for Viggo and Elijah
in part three, and if I'm very, very lucky I might even get her signature on
this itty bitty contract here, which could turn this hot local band I came
across, Dingoes something or other, into another Evanescence caliber success.
Remember Daredevil? Think bigger. Toodles!"
And with that he swept out of the office.
The others stared at the spot the Pylean had just vacated, and at each other.
The almost oppressive silence lengthened.
Finally Angel said what everybody was thinking: "If there's one thing we
have enough of, it's shades of gray."
Spike sighed. "Word, mate. Word."
Continued in Tuesday, December 2, 2003