Tell someone who you think might like it ^_~
Merry Christmas everyone! May your day be merry and bright, and may your Happy New Year be nice and happy! Thank you all for sticking with me this long, and I hope you stick around for all the books I write in the future<3
Now, on with the show!
Century Claus (part 2)
“I must stop this from coming, I must STOP THIS WHOLE THING!” Skye yells as she dances around the room Century’s working in. He tries not to laugh as she stops in front of the family dog, cooing over it. “You’re a good boy, yes, you are!” she says, scratching them behind the ears. “Well, unless you’re a girl, that is, then you’re a good girl!” she says.
“And we’re done,” Century says, standing. “Next house, Sugar,” he says, holding out his hand to her. She looks at his hand.
“Shouldn’t you be wearing gloves?” she demands, just barely touching his hand. “Spending this entire night holding hands was NOT in my contract!” She drags him through the wall, heading straight into the next house.
Century checks his phone, finding the information at hand and then reaching into the magic bag to get the presents. It goes smoothly, as Skye happily eats the Christmas cookies left for Santa. The hand-holding issue is completely forgotten as she makes the gingerbread men battle it out before biting their heads off. He takes one of them away from her, finishing it off. “This burns a lot of energy, sugar,” he says.
“I was just about to have them turn into zombies,” she complains. “On to the next one!” She grabs his hand this time, pulling him on to the next house and then looking around the place with big, sparkling eyes. “All these ornaments, all the trees, all the pretty stuff! I LOVE IT! Hey, hey, let’s sneak into my base and leave presents for the girls!”
“That was Kris’s job, Sugar,” he says. “I’m just doing the southern hemisphere this year.”
“I bet he didn’t, though,” she says, playing with some of the ornaments. “I never got Christmas presents from Santa. But, I guess since I was always moving around, it makes sense… that and the fact that I’m ALWAYS naughty!” She poses, but her grin seems a bit fake, now. He stares at her, his hands coming up, and then going down again as he forces himself to stop.
“I will personally make sure that doesn’t happen again,” he says quietly.
“Eeeeh, I’m grown up, now,” she says, looking around. “Hey, what’s that white berry stuff? I keep seeing it in all the houses.”
“That?” he asks, coming over behind her and pointing at it.
“It’s something you probably don’t want to know about,” he says.
“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to know!” she says, glaring at him.
“Then that, my dear, is mistletoe,” he says. Her expression of shock has him laughing. “See? I told you that you didn’t want to know,” he teases her.
She gives him a look before walking stiff-leggedly to the wall. “That was not fair.”
“I didn’t kiss you,” he points out, following along and reaching for her hand. He doesn’t take it, leaving her to do that part.
“But it was—there was—oh for crying out loud, Christmas is a TERRIBLE holiday!” she declares. “I get why the Grinch wanted to steal it!”
“Because of mistletoe?” he asks, trying not to laugh. She grabs his wrist and hauls him through the wall.
“Because of mistletoe!” she agrees. “Mistletoe could force you to do terrible, terrible things!”
“I thought you were bragging just last week about how seductive a villainess you are,” he says as they enter the next house. Had he known this would be THIS entertaining, he wouldn’t have dreaded it so much.
“I AM a seductive villainess! But I’m not working as a villainess tonight, I’m working as an ELF!” she says. “And elves don’t kiss every Tom, Dick, or Century!”
“Well, that is true,” he says, “to a point. But elves have been well known to enjoy mistletoe, Sugar. It’s one of their favorite first Christmas date traditions.”
The surprise on her face almost makes him laugh. She shakes it off. “I want to put the presents out this time!” she says, grabbing the bag off of his back. “Hey, elves! We need presents for um…” she pauses, looking around for a moment before tapping on her watch and rattling off coordinates. She starts pulling presents out, looking extremely busy.
Century saunters over to the cookies and milk, helping himself as she does his work for him. She stops as she grabs the next present, and goes, “Toodles, do elves kiss under EVERY piece of mistletoe? Because Century implied that they do!”
“I said no such thing!” he says, almost choking on his milk.
“He made it sound like elves couldn’t keep their lips to themselves!” Skye goes on.
“I did not!” Century protests. “I said that mistletoe is a favorite for your first Christmas dates!” The sound of elves roaring with laughter from the other side of the bag’s portal almost has him tugging on his collar.
“And I told him that elves aren’t in the habit of kissing every Tom, Dick, or Century!” Skye says, prudishly.
“Now who’s being naughty?” he mutters as she makes a face at him.
“Well, it depends on how well the date is going,” he hears Toodles say. “How’s your first Christmas date going, Skye?”
Skye turns bright red, and then goes, “Oh, look at that, all the presents are delivered. Time to go to the next house!” she says, jumping to her feet and closing the bag quite emphatically. The sound of Toodles laughing comes from inside the bag, but she ignores it.
The night was a flurry of present giving and teasing. Now Skye is sound asleep against his shoulder as he flies the sleigh up to the North Pole to drop it off. “Skye, sugar? Wake up, sweetheart,” he says, gently.
She mumbles something and moves closer, not waking in the least. He gives up, landing the reindeer on their target spot and waiting for the platform to go under the ice. Toodles and his brother are standing there, grinning widely at the sight of them. Toodles rushes forward to undo the reindeer. Other elves step up, leading them away to their stalls for a warm meal and a well deserved brush down.
“So?” Santa says, “From what I heard, it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be.”
“The company made it a lot more palatable, “ Century admits, tossing him the hat and trying to get out of the suit without waking Skye. When he’s handed that over, he scoops the sleeping villainess up, looking at her with a smile.
“I was expecting you to take Voltdrain with you,” Santa says.
“Voltdrain spends the holiday months helping out with a food drive for the homeless, “ Century says. “I wouldn’t take him away from the most important day for that.”
“I see,” Santa says. “But how did you get her to go, in his place?”
“She followed me,” Century says, moving her so her head is on his shoulder. “She thought I was sneaking around.”
“On who?” Santa asks.
“I wonder,” Century says, taking to the air and heading away.
“They’re so adorable,” Toodles says with a happy little sigh. “Now, I’m going to take a nap. I want to call Malina in a few hours.” She walks away, yawning largely, completely ignoring the mistletoe she walks under.
Santa looks up at it for a moment before sighing, and heading off to get the gifts for the Cape High schools ready.
So here we go! Final story of this Advent Calendar, and I must admit, this was a LOT of fun to write. Not just this story, but all of it! Oh, there were more serious moments, but I loved how much I got to show of our lesser seen characters, even with short little stories like these^^
Now, we all know (I hope) that Century traded a few years of Santa work for Dolly, and he honestly doesn’t regret the trade. Dolly is doing a wonderful job! But he STILL doesn’t really look forward to the work, itself. Well… he didn’t, that is, until this happened^_~
Century Claus (part 1)
So, Century, how DID you get a full blooded Toy Box line elf? He hadn’t answered, but Mastermental had almost started laughing. Oh, sure, the man’s face had SEEMED blank, but the others have known him long enough to know something was up. That’s why, right this moment, on Christmas Eve, Century is being sneaky.
He turns, releasing the time stop on the land far away, hoping to convince them that he’s still back in Texas. Right now, though, he’s a bit lower. He’s right on the equator, waiting on the roof of a rather beautiful building, for his brother to show up.
“Darn Marigold,” he mutters, sipping his coffee. “She just HAD to get Rocco, didn’t she?” He has TWO coffee thermoses in a bag, both full with coffee so thick that it doesn’t qualify as liquid. He’s not looking forward to tonight, and that’s a fact. Oh, sure, there’s a chance his brother will send him a helper, but he doubts it. This is most likely Kris’s revenge for skipping out all those years ago.
“Oooooh, this isn’t looking good for yoooou,” a sing-song voice says from behind him.
“You ain’t whistlin’ Dixie, Sug—“ he stops, jerking slightly and looking over his shoulder with shock.
“You’re running around for a secret rendezvous!” Skye accuses him, pointing and posing dramatically. “Just WAIT until this gets out to the world! Century is CHEATING!”
“Oh, Sugar, you don’t know HOW happy this makes me!” he says with a cheer, running over and picking her up, swinging her around in a circle.
“Hey! Hey! This is not happy cheering time! This is I CAUGHT YOU! Time!” she protests, even though she doesn’t slip out of his hold until he hugs her. “What are you doing, running around strange places in the middle of the night?” she demands.
“I’ll tell you,” he says, his eyes gleaming, “but only if you promise to do one little thing for me.”
“I don’t trust you,” she says, suspiciously. “You’re supposed to be out here meeting a scandalous person!”
“On Christmas Eve?” he asks, blankly. “Sugar, you’ve got one fascinating imagination.”
“I was going to post it online!” she says.
“Well, I suppose it IS a bit true,” he says, changing his approach. “I won’t be able to tell you, Sugar, because it’s a secret. One that cannot be told to ANYONE.” He moves closer, reaching up. Her eyes grow big, until he plucks the hairpin out of her hair. “I can’t let this record me, Sugar.”
“HEY!” she says as he hides it in his suit.
“You understand, don’t you? This is top secret. A secret between you and me,” he says. “But you want to see who I’m meeting, right?”
She nods, and a tiny smile pulls at his lips, even as she jerks away, glaring at him. “You stop trying to be smooth!” she snaps, pointing at him. “You’re out here meeting another woman! You don’t get to flirt with me!”
“Woman?” he repeats, blankly. He snorts, and then bursts out laughing, much to her irritation. “So if I’m not here to meet a woman, I can flirt with you?” he asks, boldly. Oh, this is going to bite him in the end, and he knows it, but he’s feeling reckless right now. He NEEDS her tonight—well, not need, honestly, but he sure as hell doesn’t want to do this on his own, and her powers are perfect for the job!
“HA!” she says. “Why else would you be skulking around and leaving false time-stops everywhere?”
There’s a jingling overhead, one that she doesn’t even notice because she’s ranting about how he’s being “unfaithful” and then trying to backtalk about WHO he’s being unfaithful to—
“HO HO HO!” a familiar voice says. “It looks like you’ve already brought a helper, Charles!”
Skye goes still, her mouth still open, and then looks up slowly, staring at the sleigh and reindeer overhead. “That’s—“ she says, pointing.
“That’s right, Sugar,” Century says, wrapping an arm around her waist and whispering into her ear, “I need you to help deliver presents to the world tonight. You will be the unknown hero of millions.”
“You’re not meeting a woman… you’re playing SANTA?!” she yelps, pointing at him. Even as she says that, the suit drops down on Century’s head. “Well… that’s not scandalous at all,” she decides a second later, pouting.
“I never said it was,” Century says. “Other than the Hall Leaders would surely try to use this method to get some of the best elves. The world doesn’t deserve a Marigold Santa. It’s not been that naughty.”
It startles a giggle out of her, which turns into a flood of laughter as he slips the uniform on and puts the fake beard on. Once he’s wearing the hat, he looks EXACTLY like his brother, save for the expression in his eyes.
“Give me a second,” Kris says, sticking his head into the bag. “That’s right, we need a female elf uniform for Skye—thank you, Toodles,” he says, coming out with a package in his hand. “And here we are, Skystep, I’m certain that you’ll make a wonderful helper elf for my brother,” he says, handing her the package and then flying off before she can protest.
“Oh… um… huh…” she says, pulling it out of the wrapping and looking at it curiously.
“You can keep it, if you give me a hand,” Century says temptingly.
“Nobody will find out?” she asks, examining the uniform.
“Not a one,” he promises.
“Theeeennnn… I’ll do it!” she says, slipping the uniform over her suit and posing. “All the jingling!” she cheers, and then runs over to hug the reindeer. They look a bit surprised, but don’t freak out, thankfully. “You guys are AMAZING! And so handsome!” she tells them, making sure to pat each one before getting into the sleigh and grabbing the reins. Before she can do any damage, Century slides in next to her and takes them.
“You can play with them after tonight, Sugar,” he says. “This is the only night when time is not negotiable.”
“Okaaay,” she says, only to turn and peek into the bag, instead. She goes deeper and deeper, until only her legs are sticking up in the air, and he hears her say, “TOODLES! HI!”
“Hi, Skye! Did Ariel come with you?” he hears Toodles ask.
“No, no, I wanted to be SNEAKY and she’s busy making it snow in random places over Texas,” Skye says. Century reaches over, pulling her out of the bag with a roll of his eyes.
“We’re almost to the first town, Sugar, and you need to help me. You’re going to get me into the houses.”
“You should go down the chimney!” she says.
“Well, sugar, I COULD do that, but… I can’t, really,” Century says. “That is a skill that was only taught to the official Santa. I always had to pick the locks, which takes too much time. That’s why I need you, so I can get this done and still take gifts to both of the Cape Highs in the morning.”
“Ohhhh… so only the real Santa can go down chimneys?” she asks.
“That’s how it goes,” he agrees.
“Then we will do it MY WAY!” she says, waving her arms in the air. “DO A LOOP DE LOOP!” she calls out to the reindeer. To Century’s shock, they do exactly what she says.
A Very Liberty Christmas (part 2)
“Here we come a waffling, a waffling we come!” Emily sings. What’s funniest, Trent thinks, is that BOTH Ditto and Repeat look at her like she’s crazy. “What?” she asks the others.
“How do you waffle?” Ditto asks her.
“Is there syrup?” Repeat asks.
“I’m getting hungry,” Emily admits. The elderly lady in the doorway is choking, her shoulders shaking with laughter that escapes her as all three start singing “the Waffle song.” By the time the made-up song is over, the woman is clapping along, giggling like a child.
Trent steps forward, holding out the basket to her with a smile. “Merry Christmas,” he says, leaning down and kissing her on the cheek.
“Thank you, honey,” she says. The others in the building start cheering from their apartment doorways, and Emily and her doppelgangers gracefully bow to all of them.
“Thank you, thank you! Merry Christmas, everyone!” she says, waving both arms at them. “Waffles for EVERYBODY!”
They start roaring with laughter.
“Okay, everyone! Wonderful job!” Jeanie says as the singers head out the door slowly, chatting with each other. “I can’t wait for the big day!”
“Thank you, Jeanie, I never thought we’d be able to sound so good!” one of the women says, taking her hand and giving her a smile.
“Of course you do!” Jeanie says. “You’re very talented people.”
She waits until they’re all out of the room to head to the basement where the kids should be. She’s a little worried about leaving them alone with Jack, but Aubrey is with them, so nothing too bad should—she stops as she sees half a dozen kids hanging off the metal surfboard. A few of them look like they’ll fall off at any moment, but they’re too busy squealing with excitement to care. She starts forward as one tumbles, only to stop as he starts floating thanks to his belt buckle.
“See, I TOLD you to wear something metal!” one of the kids calls down to the floater.
“Jack, honey,” she says, only to shake her head and laugh, giving up as he looks guilty. “Did you eat ALL of the kids’ treats?” she asks.
“Aubrey hid a couple of boxes,” he says, finishing off the cookie in his hand.
“Thank you, Aubrey, you saved Christmas,” she tells Aubrey, who laughs. “Now, all of your parents should be heading this way, so gather your things and don’t forget to put your hats and gloves on! It’s cold out there!”
“Yes, Miss Jeanie,” the kids sing-song, but they only get off when Jack lowers the surfboard to the ground. Some of the younger ones stay on it, jumping up and down as if they can get it to move.
“Is Trent back?” Jack asks.
“His job takes a little longer,” Jeanie says. Jack taps on his watch as they both look towards the stairs. His illusion is back in place as the parents come to collect their kids. The kids proudly show off the angels they made, much to their parents shock.
“How did you get them to stay together?” one mother asks. “Did someone use a power tool in here? I’m not sure how I feel about—“ her kid stops her, pointing at Jack and tugging her down to whisper. “Oh… oh, I see. Well, as long as no one was hurt. It’s a beautiful angel, baby! We’ll put it on the tree as soon as we get home.” She nudges her child out of the room as quickly as she can, not looking very comfortable.
Another kid heads over, holding up his angel to Jack. “Can you sign it?” he asks.
“She’s got a nice Mohawk,” Jack teases him, taking the angel and writing on it with a finger. The words “Cold Steel” are tiny, but can be seen on the back of the angel’s dress. The kid grins at him, hugging the angel when he gets it back.
“Remember, no telling anyone, okay?” Aubrey tells him, holding a finger to her mouth.
“NEVER,” he says. “Can I come on Sunday?” he asks another kid.
“Sure!” the kid says.
“Do you… really believe all that?” the big-mouthed prisoner asks Ken as Ken packs up his things. “You know, Jesus, and all that?”
“I believe it with every cell in my body,” Ken says. “You know, I know that things don’t always work out how you want them to, but there IS hope. God loves you. He loves you so much that he sent his Son. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, He knows all about it. He’s not mad at you, He’s just waiting for you to accept his Son’s free gift, so you can be His child.”
“Huh,” the prisoner says, looking away. Ken places a hand on his shoulder.
“I’ll be back. I try to come on a monthly basis. You think about it between now and then, okay? If you really want to talk about it, tell your warden, and he’ll get a hold of me. I’m always willing to tell people about God’s love.”
“What if there isn’t a God?” he bursts out. “What if you’re just imagining it all—do you know how crazy it would be if America’s Son was delusional?”
Ken gives him a little smile, swinging his bag over his shoulder. “If you really don’t trust me, well, I won’t blame you. Maybe you should start by asking Him whether He’s real or not.”
“That makes no sense!”
“It will,” Ken says cheerfully. “Start asking, start looking, start praying, all with an open mind, and see what happens.” He pulls out a bible from his bag, handing it over. “Start with this. I’d suggest the New Testament, first, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff in the Old.”
“Aren’t you going to deny the ‘America’s Son’ thing?” the prisoner asks as Ken walks away.
Ken just shoots him a grin over his shoulder, waving before he heads out the door.
“He won’t deny it,” the unofficial “leader” says. “That would make him a liar. But he won’t confirm it, either.”
“Yeah, a lot of us have asked him and gotten that response,” someone else agrees.
“Shouldn’t he use it?” the prisoner asks. “Like, I’m THE America’s Son, and I believe this, so you should, too?”
“We don’t believe him because he runs around in tights, man. That would be stupid.”
“Really?” the prisoner asks.
“Yeah, man, running around in tights is one thing, personal beliefs are something completely different! That’s… personal!”
“Exactly!” someone else agrees. “You might like an actor’s movies, but it don’t mean you agree with everything they think is right. Same goes for supers.”
“So you don’t believe him, either, right?”
“I believe him,” one says.
“Yeah, I believe him. He’s not lyin’.”
“You just said you don’t agree with supers—“
“No, we agree with the ‘Preacher Man,’” they say. “Completely different thing.”
The big-mouthed prisoner groans, rubbing his temple. “Y’all don’t make any sense.”
“It will, with time,” the “leader” says. “Just get to know him, not as America’s Son, but as the preacher man. You’ll see what we mean.”
“Merry Christmas, honey,” Jeanie says that night as Ken steps into their apartment. She pecks him on the lips, hugging him for a moment. She leans her head against his chest, taking a deep breath and letting it out again.
“You’ve got patrol tonight, don’t you?” he asks reluctantly.
“I do,” she says, still hugging him.
“Want me to come with you? We can go swing over the Plaza lights.”
“Would you?” she asks, hopefully.
“I would love to,” he says, kissing her again. “Let me go change, and we’ll head out.”
“You have patrol tomorrow, don’t you?” she calls after him.
“I think so, check the schedule,” he says, coming out in uniform.
“Boys, we’re going on patrol!” Jeanie calls out as she glances at the schedule with a wry smile. “Be good!”
The only reply she gets is the sound of snoring.
I couldn’t very well just focus on ONE Liberty when it’s Christmas, so for these next two days, you get a glimpse of all of them in their crazy, crazy Christmas time. Enjoy!
A Very Liberty Christmas
Holidays for the Liberty family are… a bit crazy. Jeanie looks at the mess at the dining table, amused. “Okay, so we have it scheduled?” Ken says. “I’m going to be preaching at the prison. Trent, you’re on present delivery to the home-bound, Jack, you’re in charge of the kid’s Christmas gift making at church, and Sandra is getting set for her Advent day with Reaper. Jeanie, how is the Cantata going? You have another practice this evening, right?”
“I talked Alyssa into joining us, again, so it’s going wonderfully,” Jeanie says. “But are we sure the boys can handle that all on their own? I mean, I know Trent will be fine, but…” she looks at Jack, who rolls his eyes.
“I got the pieces set out and made sure they won’t cut. Besides, Aubrey’s coming along,” he says.
“Oh, good,” she says, letting out a sigh of relief. “It isn’t that I don’t believe in you, sweetie, but you might be dealing with very young children, you know? And unlike Cubby, they might be… delicate.”
“Emily’s coming with me for the present delivery,” Trent says. “She’s going to use Ditto and Repeat and do caroling while we’re at it.”
“Wonderful!” Jeanie says. “Now, everyone eat quickly and we’ll move out! We only have a few hours to do it before bedtime, and you both have school in the morning, right?” She sits down, placing the last platter on the table, and they dig in, eating quickly. Once they’re done, they all stand and head their different ways. Well, almost different. Jeanie hops on the back of Jack’s surfboard, along with Aubrey.
“Jeanie, you look beautiful tonight!” Aubrey says.
“Why thank you, sweetie! You look wonderful, as well!” she says. “You know what all you’re going to do tonight, right?”
“We’re making metal angels,” Aubrey says. “Jack tossed together a nice selection of pieces so they should all be unique. But do we need to pick up Alyssa? She’s going to be in the practice, right?”
“She said she’d meet us there,” Jeanie says. “Shall we get going?”
“Got it, Ma,” Jack says, taking off. “’Course, if the world sees you riding behind me, they’re going to talk.”
“You are my son, and regardless of what wickedness you might be up to, I will always love you,” Jeanie says, as Aubrey tries to hide her snort of laughter. “Besides, it’s always so much fun to ride on the surfboard. We should try actual surfing when we go to Liz and Taurus’s wedding!”
“Can’t,” Jack says, “I’ll stick to the sky. Falling in water isn’t part of my life plans.”
“I’ll try it with you, Jeanie,” Aubrey says. “I’m so excited about it! I’m a little sad that the school can’t come, but honestly, I don’t think the island will be big enough for all of us.”
“Do you know what island it is?” Jeanie asks, only to stop as they land in front of the church. “I’ll ask Liz, later,” she says as Alyssa appears with a poof. The sound of the piano warming up is already coming from inside.
She runs in, apologizing for being a little late, profusely, much to the amusement of her singers.
Ken looks out over the angry looking men in orange, and smiles, placing his bible on the table next to him and pretending to sit on the chair. “So,” he says, “how is everyone doing?”
A newcomer to the prison stands, getting in his face. “You think I want to hear this?” the man demands. “Take your prissy tie and get out of here, preacher man!” And then he starts cursing, trying to intimidate him.
The rest of the group, even the most dangerous of them, look at each other, starting to choke on laughter. Those that have been there the longest have a theory on just who this preacher man is. They’ve never gotten a straight answer from him, but the rumor has spread to the point of becoming fact, in their minds.
Ken, on the other hand, looks down at the tie in question, pulling it out. “You don’t like my tie? My wife got it for me,” he says. “Look, the lights turn on!”
The prisoners behind the big-mouthed one start roaring with laughter as they see the Christmas lights on the tie start blinking cheerfully.
“I can see that!” one says.
“Yeah, man, I could totally see Star Spa—you know, his wife, picking that one out.”
“Sit down, kid, and let the preacher man speak!” one of the inmates shouts. “It ain’t gonna kill you to do it!”
“How’s your adopted kid doing, preacher man?” another calls out. “Is he still getting in trouble?”
The big-mouthed prisoner, who had hoped to make a name for himself, stares at them in astonishment. “He’s a hypocrite –“
“He ain’t a hypocrite,” the unofficial “leader” of the prison says, speaking up for the first time. “Everything he says, he lives by, unlike the rest of the world. Now sit down and educate yourself, boy.”
The big-mouthed one looks at Ken, who’s just watching him with a little smile, and then at the group, reluctantly heading for his chair. He kicks his feet out in front of him and crosses his arms over his chest, trying to look tough.
“Thank you,” Ken says, giving him a wide smile. “And as for Jack, well, he’s been too busy lately to get into real trouble. Christmas is an extremely busy time for my family, you know? But it also means I get to share my favorite story.”
“Tell the one about the food fight, again!” someone calls out.
“That’s just my SECOND favorite one,” Ken says. “I’ll tell it after I tell my favorite one.”
“Who is he?” the big-mouthed prisoner asks the guy next to him.
The other man leans over, shielding his mouth and whispering. A second later, the big-mouthed man falls off of his chair.
“Okay, everyone, we have wings, here, bodies here, heads here, and hair here. The rest of this stuff is for random accessories,” Aubrey says to the kids sitting at the tables. “You need to pick out whatever you want to put together your angels.”
“Yeah, but how are we going to keep them together?” one kid asks. He’s a newcomer, Jack notices, probably dragged along by one of the church families. He doesn’t look very happy to be here, either. “Glue? It’s metal, metal doesn’t glue worth beans. This is stupid.”
The rest of the kids look at him, and start to laugh. “What?” the kid demands. “And what’s with that guy? He looks like a reject from those movies about turtles!”
“He’s bringing the Mohawk back!” the other kids chime in.
Jack taps on his watch, and the illusion disappears. The kid’s mouth drops open, and he stares, the color draining out of his face. “I’m bringing the Mohawk back,” Jack says.
“I—I—“ the kid stutters.
“Now, everyone pick out your parts and put them together. When you’re absolutely sure that you’ve got it how you like it, call me over,” Jack says, and heads over to the table of snacks to grab a cookie… or ten.
“That… does he come to this church?” he hears the kid whisper to another.
“Don’t tell anyone, otherwise he’ll get mad,” the other whispers back.
So This is Christmas (part 2)
“I just… I used to be her hero,” Isotonic says as they head to the first house. “Not just Olivia’s, Jazz’s, too. Sure, she’s a hero, too, but she…” He sighs, moving slightly, only to stop. He’s not sure that the old truck won’t break if he moves too much. It looks like it’s on its last wheels. “Why didn’t you use the church van for this?”
“It’s in the shop, again,” Mack says. “So you disappointed your wife—“
“Ex wife,” Isotonic says.
“No, when you disappointed her, she was still your wife, right?” Mack asks.
“I disappoint her, now, too,” Isotonic says. “I keep trying my best, you know? I wanted to do what was right for our daughter, but now she’s even mad at me for that. This is supposed to be Christmas, right? Where everyone sets aside their differences and gets along!”
Mack starts laughing, and Isotonic shoots him a look. “Sorry, sorry, it’s just… you’ve never worked as a pastor,” he says, wiping a tear away. “Christmas is a lot like Christ, did you know that?” he says. “It’s a beautiful day, and a lot of people celebrate it, but it also brings out a lot of stuff that’s usually hidden away. Old arguments that you thought were forgotten can come up, old resentments, feelings of inadequacy, all sorts of things that sometimes even we don’t realize we’re carrying.”
“You’re saying Jesus does that to people,” Isotonic says, disbelievingly.
“Of course He does,” Mack says. “But when Jesus does it, He helps with the clean-up. When a DAY does it, well, you get a bigger mess than just wrapping paper. What’s sad is that most of the time people shove those feelings back in their boxes and wrap them up for the next Christmas.”
“Then why even celebrate the day, when even Christians know what it can do to people?” Isotonic mutters, since that statement had hit far too close to home. He’s old enough to know better, he tells himself, but he’s doing exactly what Mack had just said, and he knows it.
“Because,” Mack says, pulling to a stop in front of a little house, “when a Christian puts Christ in Christmas, amazing things can happen. But I won’t tell non-believers to not celebrate,” he goes on, hopping out of the truck and heading for the back. Isotonic follows, grabbing one of the trees when Mack tells him to. “Celebrating is important, no matter what you believe. It gives people a chance to spend time with the ones they love, and take a break. Well… sort of, at least.”
He knocks on the door of the house, and they hear children running towards the door. The door bursts open and Mack is mobbed by two little kids as he goes, “HO HO HO! Merry Christmas, guys!”
“Wha’d you bring us, Pastor Mack?” a little boy demands. His big sister is staring at Isotonic, but even when she nudges her brother, he doesn’t notice. He’s too intent on the bags Mack is carrying.
“Jimmy!” the sister hisses, nudging him harder. “LOOK!”
“The TREE!” he says, heading for the tree, only to jerk to a halt as Isotonic puts it down. His eyes go huge and his mouth drops open, completely speechless from shock.
“Merry Christmas, Jimmy,” Isotonic says, leaning the tree against the wall. “Want to help me set up the tree?”
“YEAH!” Jimmy says, excitedly as Isotonic shows him the stand they’d brought.
“Pastor Mack, I can’t thank you enou—“ a woman starts out, coming out of the kitchen. She stops mid-sentence, though, as she sees who’s helping her son put up the tree.
“Sally? Would you like to help me get the rest of the things?” Mack asks the daughter.
“Um… okay,” Sally says, running out the door.
“Put your coat on, young lady!” the mother calls out, brought back to sense by motherly instincts. “Not just your coat! Where are your SHOES?!”
Isotonic quickly sets the tree in the base, tightening it while Jimmy “helps.” “I’ll be right back, okay?” he says to the boy.
“Okay!” Jimmy says. Isotonic heads out the door, to find Sally struggling with a pile of presents as Mack tries to convince her to go get her shoes and coat, first.
“Here we go,” Isotonic says, scooping both the little girl and the presents up and heading inside. She lets out a shriek of laughter, having not expected that, and he grins at her. “Guess I should have asked, first. I apologize, Sally. I just used to do this to my own little girl.”
“You have a little girl?” she asks.
“I do,” he says, putting her down in the front room. “She’s a bit older than you are, now.”
“PRESENTS!” Jimmy says, forgetting all about decorating the tree and racing over. “I want one!”
“Not until Christmas morning!” his mother says. “I can’t thank you gentlemen enough,” she says to Mack and Isotonic. There are tears in her eyes. “You’ve really made their Christmas.”
“We’re glad to help,” Mack says with a hint of amusement. “But we really should get going. We have other deliveries to make.”
“Wait!” Sally says, only to throw her arms around Isotonic. “This was the BEST Christmas EVER!” she tells him.
“But it’s not even Christmas, yet,” he says, patting her head. “Be good, kids. Santa really does have a list, you know.”
“He DOES?!” Jimmy asks, with a hint of terror.
“Of COURSE he does,” Sally says. “I TOLD you!”
Isotonic manages to not laugh until he and Mack are out in the truck, heading for the next house. “Feeling a little better?” Mack asks him.
“Yes, actually,” Isotonic admits, “Even though nothing’s been resolved.”
“True, but you managed to make someone’s day, nonetheless,” Mack says. “You know, you might be a hero, but I don’t think you’ll ever be perfect, will you?”
“Of course I won’t,” Isotonic says. “Even Superior is… WAS nowhere near perfect. It’s not possible, even for the strongest of capes.”
“Maybe you should remind yourself of that fact the next time you speak with your ex, then,” Mack says. “She knows it just as well as you do, I bet.”
“True.” Isotonic pulls out his phone as it rings, looking at the screen before smiling and answering. “Hi, honey. What’s up?”
“Dad? Would you be my helper for the Advent Calendar day?” Olivia asks. “It’s a couple of days from now. I know it’s a bit sudden, sorry.”
He opens his mouth, about to jump on the chance, but stops himself. “You know, honey, I would love to, but…” he feels like he’s choking on the words, but he forces them out, anyway, “your mother has been missing you so much… maybe you should ask her to be your helper, this year. I promise that I’ll be there on Christmas day.”
“You think she’d mind?” she asks.
“I think she’d love it,” he says. “It’ll make her Christmas.”
“Okay, then I’ll just call her. Bye, Dad!”
“Love you, Olivia,” he says.
“Love you, too!” She hangs up, and he stares at his phone for a long moment before putting it away.
“That might have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he tells Mack, sighing heavily.
“That’s how you put Christ in Christmas, though,” Mack says. “I’m proud of you.”
“By giving things away that you’d rather keep?” Isotonic asks.
“He did it first,” Mack says. “The story of Christmas is all about His birth, but it’s what He came to give up that makes it worth celebrating now, two thousand some years later. There’s no greater love than laying down your life for a friend. But for the rest of us, well, laying down your wants isn’t a bad start.”
“It’s too late, though,” Isotonic says, as they pull to a stop in front of the next house. He stops as his phone rings, looking at the screen before reluctantly answering. “Hello, Jazz,” he says.
“Olivia just called,” Jazz says. “She asked ME to be her helper!”
“I’m happy for you,” Isotonic says.
“I… have no idea what we should do for it,” she admits. “What would you have done if you were chosen?”
He looks at Mack, who gets out of the truck and heads for the back. “I think I might have an idea,” he says.
I tried to cover all of the Hall leaders in one way or another in this Advent. I know we haven’t done Century, yet, but he’s got a special job to do this Christmas^_~ We’ll be seeing him later. For now, well, not all Christmases are picture perfect, even when it involves a Hall leader… What matters is how you deal with it.
So This is Christmas
Isotonic looks at the man sitting on his couch, wondering how things turned out this way. “I still say we should stick you in the Cape Cells,” he says, heading for his chair with a glass in his hand.
“Where’s the love for your little brother?” Tonic asks, although his eyes are glued to the television. “I heard that the Halls have walls that turn into televisions. Why don’t you?”
“Because it costs,” Isotonic says, not about to mention that he’s thought of that, himself. He’s been told that it costs less if you go directly to Technico. He sighs, taking a drink. He almost jumps as his phone rings, a hint of trepidation running down his spine. His ex wife told him earlier that she was going to call him to discuss what would happen with Olivia over the holidays. He doesn’t want to talk to her. It always makes his heart hurt. Er… his head. It makes his HEAD hurt.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?” Tonic asks.
Isotonic pulls his phone out, hesitantly looking at the screen. His right eye twitches after a moment, and then he lets out a heavy sigh. “Isotonic,” he answers.
“I am NOT letting my daughter stay there with your random, out-of-nowhere ‘brother’ living with you!” his ex-wife’s voice echoes through the room.
“He’s not living here, he’s just staying here until we decide what should be done with him,” Isotonic says.
“I don’t care,” she says. “Olivia will be living with me through the holidays, as soon as she gets home. And why haven’t you started the North Branch Cape High, yet? I miss my daughter!”
“I miss her, too, you know!” he says, losing his temper. “”I’ve acquired the land and I’m in negotiations with Technico’s daughter right now—“
“His daughter’s SIXTEEN!”
“And she put together most of South Branch’s school,” he says, running a hand over his face and letting out a sigh. “Look, Jazz, I…” His brother isn’t even pretending to not be listening. “I understand how you feel, but Olivia is the happiest I’ve ever seen her right now. She has friends, ones that don’t care about what she turns into. She’s talking to me more now than she did even before the divorce. You have to admit that it wasn’t a bad choice. I know you swear everything I do is wrong, but I know this wasn’t.”
She’s silent for a moment before sighing. “She’s not coming home until after Christmas, is she?” she asks, sounding downright pathetic. His heart throbs, and he rubs his chest, trying to ignore it.
“I’m going down there on Christmas day,” he says. “Would you… like to come along?” he offers reluctantly.
She’s silent for a long, long moment. “Are you delivering another present for the school?” she asks.
“They wind up donating most of it,” he admits. “So this time I thought I’d take cash and let each child decide what cause they want to support.”
“How altruistic,” she says with a hint of sarcasm.
“What would you have me do, then, Jazz?” he asks. “Buy them all ponies?”
“I don’t know!” she says, sounding frustrated. “She likes you better than me, now, because you supported her moving halfway across the country just so you didn’t have to watch her on the weekends—“
“That was uncalled for!” he snaps. “I did it because she was losing control in school, Jazz! Sooner or later she would have been outed in public. Kids her age have their phones on them at all times, and she would have been posted online, as well! That’s what happened to the healers,” he says. “I don’t want to fight with you, Jazz. I’ve never wanted to fight with you.”
“So you just back out and pretend that everything is fine, just like always,” she says. “You can’t work anything out that isn’t work related, Paul. You just throw in the towel and focus on what you deem more important. You did it to me, now you’re doing it to our daughter, as well.”
“I just wanted both of you happy,” he says softly. “I…” he sighs, looking out the nearest window. “I’ll speed up the school process, once the holidays are over. I’ll bring her home.”
“I… I know she has friends. And I know… I know it was dangerous for her,” she says, her tone softening. “I just… I hate all of this. I miss…”
He takes a deep breath and let it out. “It was never that I didn’t love you, Jazz. You know that, right?”
There’s a pause before she says, softly, “Merry Christmas, Paul.” There’s a little click and she’s hung up, leaving him listening to a dial tone.
“So…” Tonic says as Isotonic stares blankly out the window, “I guess now isn’t the time to mention Helga, huh?”
“Helga’s being watched closely by the elves and Superior,” Isotonic says unemotionally. “She’s fine.”
“Who’s she staying with, then?”
“The elves, but she has a tracking bracelet on, just like you do,” Isotonic says. “Technico made them both. According to Mastermental, she really regrets what happened. She wants to become a real elf, someday, and if she keeps behaving herself, I’ll put my support behind it.” He grabs his coat, heading for the door.
“Where are you going?” Tonic asks.
“To have a chat with someone,” Isotonic says. “Don’t make a run for it—actually, DO make a run for it. Once I catch you, I’ll have no problem tossing you into the Cape Cells. You kidnapped a Legend, after all. Running away from house arrest will just cement things.”
“I’ll just be here, watching the football game, then,” Tonic says, only to get up and head into the kitchen. “Can I at least order a pizza? You’ve got a running tab with that one place, right?”
“Yeah, but only order four, and only eat two of them,” Isotonic says. “The other two are mine.”
He heads out before Tonic can reply, taking to the air and flying straight towards a tiny little church in the middle of the woods. He hadn’t even known this place existed before Bear made his way through his territory. Now that he does, though, he’s made a habit of stopping by once a week, or so, to chat with the pastor.
Just as he’s thinking that, Mack pulls into the parking lot of the church in a beat up old truck, with a tree strapped to the roof. Isotonic lands, his confusion showing. “I was sure the church was already decorated,” he says.
“Don’t just stand there, give me a hand,” Mack says, motioning him to follow him into the church. “That’s not just one tree, there are three of them, they’re just skinny,” he goes on, leading Isotonic to the kitchen. “We need to get these meals delivered to families. Of course, I made sure to find out if they have the means to cook them, first, so don’t worry about that part.”
Isotonic is stunned silent as the pastor opens one fridge and hands him three large hams, and packages of butter. “We also have to get the bags over there,” he says, nodding to the side before opening the other fridge and grabbing some more things. “You don’t have levitation skills, or anything, do you?” he asks, staggering slightly.
“Unfortunately, no, but I can carry more,” Isotonic says, grabbing the bags. “What are we doing?” he asks as Mack heads out the door.
“This is Christmas, Iso,” Mack says, as if that’s the only explanation it needs. When Isotonic doesn’t reply, he grunts, fighting with the door, and goes on. “There are families in the area that can’t afford the Christmas meal. I can’t blame them, it isn’t cheap. But it would be a shame for them to miss out on one of the most important parts, right? So our church tries and helps them out. Oh, this isn’t all of it, of course. We joined in with a community project to sack meals, as well, but these three—“ he places the bags in the back of the truck, next to a small pile of presents, “are for families in our church.”
“I see,” Isotonic says. “Then now isn’t the best time to talk, is it?”
“Actually, it’s the perfect time to talk, as long as you don’t mind helping with deliveries,” Mack says. “You’ll make their Christmases.”
Isotonic pulls out his phone, sending a text to tell Tonic to put the pizzas in the fridge, and gets in the truck.