Merry Christmas, Robin

by amiwakawaiidesu

(Based on characters and situations from "Witch Hunter Robin", created by Hajime Yatate and Shuko Murase.)

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After the collapse of the Factory, life at Raven's Flat changed in many small ways. Some changes were purely practical; for example, the hunters no longer hunted witches with orbo, but rather used special tranquilizer rounds to subdue witches, who were then conveyed to a government psychiatric hospital for observation and treatment (if practical). But there were other more subtle changes as well; the personnel of Raven's Flat were more like a family after the collapse, less formal in their interactions and less concerned with the protocols that once prevented socializing and forming bonds of friendship outside of work hours.

Thus--about a year after the collapse--Dojima proposed something that Chief Kosaka would not have approved of in the past: a Christmas gift exchange.

"That sounds like a wonderful idea!" Robin said. "I always used to love Christmas...when I was younger."

Sakaki lifted an eyebrow.

"You're still pretty young, Robin-san," Sakaki noted.

"That's true," Robin said. "What I meant was, I used to love the Christmas celebrations at the convent when I was younger. I used to help the nuns arrange the candles for the special Christmas masses, and when it was time to set up a Nativity scene, I would bring a little toy lamb I had and set it near the baby Jesus...

"But then one year there was a fire in the church; my craft had just awoken, you see, and I thought it would be clever to light all the candles with my power. But I didn't have control of my power, and I ended up torching most of the Nativity scene and badly damaging the church. After that, I wasn't allowed anywhere near the candles or the Nativity scene at Christmas, and all the nuns were afraid of me; Christmas was never much fun again after that..."

All of a sudden--surprising even Robin--a tear came to Robin's eye as she remembered the night she changed in the eyes of those around her, from a sweet little girl to a terrifying monster.

"Oh, you poor thing!" Dojima said, giving Robin a hug. "Sakaki, get Robin a tissue!"

"I'm sorry," Robin said, accepting a tissue from Sakaki and wiping her eyes; "I guess I'd forgotten how much that affected me..."

"Well, we don't have to have a gift exchange if you don't want," Dojima said, "especially if it's going to bring back painful memories. Our doorman will be leaving on a ski vacation next week, and Amon and Karasuma will both be visiting Solomon branches in Europe until after New Year's, so maybe this isn't such a good idea..."

"No, it's a fine idea," Robin said reassuringly; "you've all been such good friends to me, I think it's a wonderful idea. I was just caught off-guard, that's all...

"Anyway, we still have you and Sakaki here, and Michael and Hattori and Chief Kosaka, so there'd be an even number of people at least for the exchange."

"Oh, I'm so glad you feel that way! But you're sure you won't mind...?"

Robin shook her head, and Dojima was thrilled. She was soon off to talk with Chief Kosaka, although she was sure that his approval was just a formality.

Robin, for her part, lingered a moment where she stood before moving to her desk to look at recent case information. In her mind, though, she was still thinking of that terrible scene six years ago, when Father Juliano had taken her to her room and left her there while he and the nuns cleaned up the mess she'd made. In her hand she had held her little toy lamb, now burned and blackened from the fire.

In time, Robin had gotten over the catastrophe; she learned to control her craft and it wasn't long before she was one of the youngest hunters working for Solomon Headquarters. But that night she had cried and cried and cried, and when she remembered the burned little lamb in her hand, her sorrow was magnified even more; before she climbed into bed and cried herself to sleep, she hid the lamb away in a dresser drawer and never looked at it again.

In a way, it felt like part of herself died along with that toy.

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The next day--after the daily hunting was over--Dojima enlisted Sakaki's help to bring a Christmas tree up to the office, and Michael supplied a string of lights which blinked on and off according to a very clever pseudo-random algorithm of his own devising. The tree and the lights were beautiful to behold, and Robin's sadness gave way to joy as she remembered that this was her home now, and this was her family.

Unfortunately, Robin still had another problem, which was wondering what to buy as a gift for the gift exchange; Christmas was just two weeks away now, and Robin had a hard time imagining what kind of gift (with a cost limit of 10,000 yen) would not only express her own personality, but also be appropriate for anyone who happened to receive it.

In her free time, Robin visited stores both huge and small, but was frustrated by the limitations of the exchange. Then, finally, she decided to imagine what she would buy as a personal gift for Amon if Amon could be there; Robin still wasn't sure exactly what Amon felt about her, but she knew what she felt for him was love and deep friendship. Thus, Robin finally found satisfaction in a black wool scarf that she imagined Amon might appreciate on a frosty winter evening; although Amon wouldn't be the recipient of the gift, Robin's love for all her comrades, and her desire to protect and sustain them, would be embodied in the gift all the same.

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Since everyone at the STN-J (even Michael, now freed from imprisonment inside Raven's Flat) would be off on Christmas day, the actual exchange was set for the evening of the last Friday before Christmas. To Robin's delight, there was snow falling outside the windows that night, and a sense of warm camaraderie inside as people gathered around the box of presents next to the tree. Michael had just created a random list to determine which people would receive which gifts, so all that was left now was for Dojima to parcel them out.

Even as Kosaka, Michael, Hattori and the hunters were gathering around the tree, though, they were surprised to hear the elevator moving and turned with surprise to see Amon and Karasuma standing before them, their dark coats dusted with snow.

"Are we too late?" Karasuma asked.

"We brought presents," Amon said, pulling a small box out of his pocket.

"Oh, you guys made it!" Dojima said, running from her seat to greet her friends. "Here, Karasuma, you can hand out the presents!"

"Why me?"

"Well, you're psychic, of course; you'll know what's best for each person to receive."

"Don't you have a list that tells you who gets what?"

"Yes...but this will be a lot more fun!"

Karasuma looked at Amon dubiously, but then finally agreed to go along with Dojima's spontaneous suggestion; she added Amon's present and her own to the box, then moved to hand out presents with the aid of her psychic powers.

"This is from Chief Kosaka," Karasuma said, reading the tag off a small gift with ornate paper as she picked it up. She then closed her eyes, concentrating on the gift. "This feels like it wants to go to...Dojima-san."

Dojima lifted an eyebrow, but received the gift and opened it up, revealing a book on effective time managagement.

"Uncanny," Amon said.

Next was Dojima's gift, which had been very neatly and professionally gift-wrapped, and was very light.

"This feels like it wants to go to...me," Karasuma announced.

Karasuma opened the gift and revealed a gift certificate for the trendy Venus Fort mall.

"Are you sure you're not just faking this?" Sakaki asked Karasuma.

"Hush now," Karasuma said. "I must have quiet, so I can focus my powers..."

And thus it went, with Sakaki receiving a new martial-arts videogame from Michael, Michael receiving a book of McDonald's gift certificates from Sakaki, Chief Kosaka receiving a box of Chinese tea from Hattori and Hattori receiving a very beautiful gold Christmas decoration from Karasuma.

"Maybe she's not faking it," Amon commented. "But what about Robin and me?"

"I'm getting there..." Karasuma said, fishing out the last two gifts and handing one each to Amon and Robin. Amazingly, Amon ended up with Robin's scarf after all, and--to Robin's enormous relief--he actually liked it.

"This will come in handy when I go to St. Petersburg next month," Amon said. "Thank you, Robin...and Karasuma."

"So what did you get?" Dojima asked Robin.

"Yeah," Sakaki said, "let's see what Amon got you."

"Oh, all right," Robin said, suddenly feeling butterflies of nervousness in her stomach. She hadn't expected Amon to be there at all, so she hadn't prepared herself for the possibility that she might receive a gift from him; would it be something peculiar, or something so esoteric she would have no use for it? Amon was so inscrutable, it was hard to imagine what he would consider an appropriate gift for someone else...

Nonetheless, Robin unwrapped the gold paper with slightly trembling hands, then opened the wooden box inside the paper to reveal the gift inside.

"Well, what is it?" Sakaki asked.

For a moment, Robin appeared to look at the gift without recognizing quite what it was; she knew what it was, but how could it be here, after all these years...?

"It's a little lamb," Robin said, holding up a simple toy lamb painted pristine white, wearing a peaceful expression on its tiny face. "Amon, where did you get this?"

"Well," Amon said, "we happened to be in Italy, so we dropped in to see Father Juliano and he showed me this toy they found when they were going through your old things. That was in a box marked for disposal, but I thought somebody here might appreciate it, so I took it to a toy shop and they fixed it up a little...

"Anyway, I hope you don't mind; If you still want to throw it out, I can always take it back where I found it..."

"No, I just..."

Suddenly, Robin was crying again, and she moved to throw her arms around Amon in a deep embracing hug.

"Thank you, Amon-san!"

"You're very welcome," Amon said softly, putting an arm around Robin; "Merry Christmas, Robin-san."

Dojima, meanwhile, smiled with suspicious satisfaction at this turn of events.

"So," Sakaki said, "you planned all this, didn't you, Dojima-san?"

"Who, me?" Dojima asked. "Karasuma was the one handing out the presents."

Sakaki continued to be suspicious, but didn't pursue the matter further. As for Robin's lamb, it was accorded a place of honor underneath the Christmas tree surrounded by other gifts, and--though few of the staff were actually Christian--the lamb would soon be joined by other animals, shepherds, and the holy family of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, which the various members of the staff contributed to make their very own authentic Nativity scene.

And thus, Robin's lamb would never be lonely again.

THE END