Christmas celebrations in Meltokio are usually described in one word. Glamorous. Expensive. Flamboyant. Gaudy. But then, that's how the noblemen and all those of the upper class always had their Christmas parties. It was usually a showing of prosperity and status, and for the longest time the most overdone of these celebrations were staged by Zelos Wilder, the former Chosen of Tethe'alla. In the instances the winter holidays brought a flurry of snowflakes to Meltokio, Zelos was obviously nowhere to be found. Lucky for the Heroes of Union this Christmas wasn't too bad of one, with enough snow to make it a white Christmas but not so much that the redhead hightailed it south and vanished for the winter.
And it was with much excitement that they all received invitations from Zelos to his Christmas party, one that promised not to be so extravagant this year, which put off many of the nobles that usually showed up, but the fact that this party was special and for his friends only gave them excuse enough to not bother showing. This was all fine and good with Zelos as it gave him excuse to not talk to them any, which he always dreaded anyway.
Lloyd and Colette, eagerly planning a spring wedding for themselves after finally deciding on their futures after the Exsphere collecting journey was done with, accepted the invite whole-heartedly. Raine and Genis took time from their world traveling to make the trip to Meltokio for the party. Regal and Presea were as delighted as their upbringing could allow them to be and made plans for Altamira and the Lezareno company to run smoothly without them so they could attend. Sheena would be there, of course, as Chief Igaguri had made many subtle efforts to get his only grand-daughter married off to the man he knew she'd had her eyes on for so long.
"Okay, so that's everyone coming. We've got the presents, right, Sebastian?" Zelos remarked, flipping through pages of lists on his clipboard while various servants rushed back and forth, decorating and wrapping and cleaning up and cooking. The butler nodded. Zelos thought carefully, scratching his head with the end of his pencil as he eyed the list. "And Seles is coming, too. We have her room ready, right? She's going to be staying here from now on, y'know."
"Yes. An entire wing of the house has been dedicated to her alone." Sebastian answered.
"Right, so I called him already for the last minute detailing, which means they'll be on time for the big surprise." Zelos muttered and grinned as a knock sounded on the door. "Booyah! That's gotta be what I think it is!" Rushing to the door, he threw it open and whooped again as lumberjacks hauled into the house the grandest Christmas tree he could find. It was stood in the main foyer, gracing the mansion with the smell of pine. Zelos beamed up at it and turned to the servants.
"Okay! Rule numero uno with this thing! DO NOT DECORATE IT!" he declared, "This tree will be decorated by me and my friends as the main event of the party! I need all of you to go out and gather up materials for making ornaments. Yarn, paper, scissors, glue, all that artsy stuff. Hurry! My buds and hunnies will be showing up at any time now!" The servants scattered to get the supplies as the redhead resumed searching his lists for anything else he may have forgotten.
It was a few hours later when the gang arrived on the doorstep, laughing and singing as they hustled into the mansion with gifts and smiles. Zelos greeted each one warmly, laughing as he caught his younger sister and spun with her in a hug.
"Seles! You little charmer, have you broken any hearts yet with your Wilder wiles?!" he teased as she giggled and gripped her purse tightly.
"Big Brother! Put me down! I'm getting dizzy!" she cried. It was on that note that the servants began their patrols, serving out punch and treats as the gifts were taken up and set aside for placing under the tree later. Lloyd stared up at it in confusion before turning to the redhead.
"Zelos, why's your tree not decorated?" he asked, "Did you forget to do that?" The others echoed his confusion as they noticed the bare tree. Zelos shook his head and waved his arm at the large table that stood before the tree filled with art supplies.
"That's the point of my party, guys! We're going to make homemade decorations for it. I figure that'll be more fun than buying decorations and having the tree ready for you."
"Wow, so the idiot isn't such an idiot after all!" Sheena teased, eyes lighting up with interest and delight.
"Cool! We're gonna make decorations! This is gonna be a blast!" Genis exclaimed and blushed at Presea, "It'll be fun to do together, huh?" Presea blinked at him.
"Is making decorations fun?" she asked. Zelos clapped his hands to get their attention and pointed towards the dining room.
"Let's have dinner first, then we can start on the fun stuff. It's been a long day for us all, so let's fill up and we can relax while making decorations." he added and led the way to the Christmas dinner fit for a king.
After a wonderful dinner of roast turkey, ham and Christmas pies, the group of friends gathered around the table of art supplies and began putting together ornaments for the tree. Lloyd and Presea with their carving skills worked with the wood best as Colette and Sheena sewed and stitched fabrics into cloth ornaments. Regal was a slight shade of red as he fumbled with glue and glitter, but the grin on his face was enough to show he was having fun. They chatted happily about plans and updated each other on what was going on with their lives as they worked.
"Cheers, Bud! So you're gettin' the ball and chain, huh?" Zelos laughed as he poked at Lloyd's arm, a small fabric doll in one hand. Lloyd blushed and laughed, rubbing his head in embarrassment.
"I wouldn't say that. It's just that it seemed natural for the two of us. I'm not entirely stupid, y'know!" he declared as Colette looked bashful and focused even more on her stitching.
"Mizuho has settled quite well in Sylvarant. It's quiet and easy to gather information there. Soon, we'll know everything there is to know about both halves of the world!" Sheena boasted and sighed wistfully, "Though there are some things that may remain a mystery to us all." She glanced quickly at Zelos and then returned her gaze to her work, hoping that the subtle hint made it through.
"Zelos Wilder, Unsolved Mystery to the Hunnies!" the redhead snickered, "I like the sound of that!"
"Owww.... Why'd you hit me?" Zelos whined and held up his doll, "I messed up your hair!"
As ornaments were crafted, they were hung lovingly around the tree and Colette used her angel wings to help decorate the branches higher up the trunk. Lloyd's carvings of Sylvarant wildlife coordinated well with Presea's woodwork animals. Raine's detailed monster and plant creations of paper and various materials were an unusual addition but who could blame the Professor's strange idea of ornaments? Genis couldn't help but use up most of the pink yarn as all of his decorations bore an incredible resemblance to Presea. Regal, unused still to having free hands, had messy conglomerates of glitter and shining sequins for stars and moons. Colette had stitched happy flowers and fluffy animals and assorted religious symbols of the Goddess Martel. Sheena's stitchings were of exotic birds and people in traditional Mizuho clothing along with origami cranes and swans when she could steal paper from Regal. Seles made paper chains to circle the branches of the tree and beamed as the length covered it completely. Zelos's ornaments were carefully crafted doll representations of each of them, from a cute little Lloyd wielding the Eternal Sword to an adorable Seles in pink splendor and an voluptuous Sheena that matched the real thing perfectly.
They looked up at their tree and felt a pride in themselves and each other as the activity brought them closer together as friends. With candles lit up all over, the tree was truly a sight to behold. And just as Zelos was announcing bedtime, Colette uttered a cry of despair, her delicate hands flying to her face.
"The Christmas angel! We forgot to make her!" she cried and turned to Lloyd in near tears, "Lloyd! We can't have a good Christmas without a Christmas angel on the tree! The Goddess Martel blesses all homes with a Christmas angel on the tree!"
"We don't have much left to make an angel with." Zelos muttered, looking through all the scraps and leftovers on the table.
"Can't we go out and buy more?" Sheena wondered aloud. Zelos looked out the window and sighed, shaking his head at the darkness.
"It's late and it's Christmas Eve. There's no way anyone's running a shop now." he answered almost glumly, "Sorry, guys, I didn't think to set aside stuff for a Christmas angel." Colette began to cry as Lloyd drew her into a comforting hug.
"It's not your fault, Zelos. It was so much fun making ornaments, we got carried away too." Genis pointed out and yawned, "Man, I'm sleepy."
"The servants will show you to your rooms." Zelos muttered and looked half lost at the sight of Colette's sobbing, "Hey, little angel, don't worry, okay?" He looked around and blurted out before thinking, "I'll take care of it! There'll be a Christmas angel on that tree before midnight!"
"Really?" Colette whispered as she stared at him, large blue eyes shining with faint hope. Lloyd looked at him with one eyebrow raised, looking so much like his father at that moment that Zelos had to blink a few times to be sure it was Lloyd, not Kratos, staring at him.
"Yeah! Leave it to me, my cute little Colette! I'll make you the best Christmas angel ever!" Zelos finished quickly, forcing a smile on for good measure, "So you just go on and sleep and in the morning, you'll see it right on the tree!"
"Thank you! Come on, Lloyd! Let's go to bed! The sooner we go to sleep, the sooner I can see the Christmas angel!" Colette exclaimed cheerfully, taking her fiancé by the hand and rushing for the stairs. Zelos watched them leave, then turned and gazed at the mess of scraps on the table.
"Open mouth, insert foot. What am I gonna do for a Christmas angel?" he sighed and started picking through the bits and pieces. He managed to find some wood that the carvers overlooked and brightened at an idea. "I can pool together what's left of this stuff and make one!" With that, Zelos made a doll's body of leftover fabric, stuffing it with additional scraps and using the round ball of wood as the head, slipping it into the sleeve of fabric. Sebastian sat with him, watching with masked amusement as his master clothed the doll in white and stitched on paper wings and painted a cute face on the head.
"Well, we got that done, but it's not much of an angel if it's bald." Zelos remarked to himself and sifted through the rest of the scraps for yarn. "Huh, no yarn left. No thread either. Paper won't do for hair. Well, crap, what am I supposed to do now? I promised Colette a Christmas angel!"
"It is rather unfortunate that you'll be unable to complete the project." Sebastian added suddenly, "You were doing so well with it. I've never seen you so involved in something like this before." Zelos looked up at him in surprise, holding the angel in one hand as he rested his cheek on the other.
"Well, yeah. This is for my friends. They were the first people who believed in me for who I am, not for what I was. I felt really bad for betraying them so much, and this Christmas party was a way of making up for it." he told him and sighed, looking defeated as he twirled a lock of his hair around one finger as he studied the angel again. "But it looks like I botched that, too. I can't seem to do anything right. Man, Christmas ruined for the lack of hair, I can't believe it...."
Zelos suddenly froze, eyes wide as they slid over and focused on the lock of red wound around his index finger. Sebastian looked confused as a wide smile spread over the former Chosen's face. He could just about swear he saw a devil's horns grow up from his head before Zelos leaped up and grabbed the scissors, holding them out to Sebastian.
"Booyah! I must be a genius! I've got it! Sebastian! I'm gonna need your help with this! We're gonna give this angel the best hair in the world!" he declared. Sebastian took the scissors with an open mouth.
"Oh good Goddess!" he exclaimed.
Morning came and everyone came rushing downstairs to see the presents piled high under the tree. Colette's eyes went straight to the top of the tree and she uttered a joyful cry, leading her friends to follow her gaze.
Sitting pretty at the treetop was the loveliest angel she had ever seen, decked in white dress and golden wings, with brilliant red hair in curls and ringlets around her shoulders and framing her painted face.
"Zelos! She's beautiful!" Colette cried and looked around for the redhead, who came awake with a start from where he rested on the sofa in the foyer.
"Wh-what? Who's beautiful?" he mumbled in a daze, head bobbing back and forth as he searched the room drunkenly for the source of the voice.
"The angel! You actually got it done!" Sheena laughed as she ran up and hugged him from behind, surprising him a second time before both blushed and she leaped back from him, "Uh, good work. I didn't think you could do it, but I guess I was wrong."
"Wow! That hair looks so real! Where'd you get it so late?" Genis asked as Colette flew up to get a good look at it, cooing delightedly at the angel. Zelos rubbed his head and shrugged.
"Eh, it was just some stuff that was lying around." he remarked, not noticing Sheena take a good look at the back of his head and her eyes going wide as she noted the fiery length of his hair being far shorter than she remembered. "Well, it's Christmas, guys! So let's tear into those presents!" With cheers, the group of heroes made for the pile, laughing and thanking one another as they opened gifts and squealed with delight over what they received. Lloyd looked through his pile and cocked his head in confusion.
"Zelos? How come there isn't one from you? Did you forget a present for me?" he asked, looking a little hurt. Zelos blinked at him, then smiled.
"Because yours wouldn't get in the box!" he joked and looked at the clock. "They should be here any minute now." The group stared at him in confusion, then turned together as the doorbell rang. "Ah, that's them now!" Zelos bounced over sofas and people as he made for the door and opened it. "You made it in time! Yuan, your entries are perfectly on cue as always!"
"Oh, shove it already; I had to listen to his griping the whole trip here, don't you start too." Yuan grumbled as he walked into the mansion. He shook his head and sighed. "Ah, forgive me for that. I was in a sour mood. Merry Christmas, everyone." he amended and smiled at the group, "I trust I'm not late for Christmas breakfast?"
"Just in time for it. I told you that." Zelos remarked as the group gaped at the Renegade leader. Lloyd looked even more confused.
"Yuan brought my present?" he asked.
"You can be so dense, Lloyd." Zelos muttered and shook his head, "Come on! What kind of man do you take me for? This guy is your present! I used all my connections to Yuan to get to him and haul his sorry angel butt down here!" With that the redhead motioned to door and Lloyd stood, watching in shock as Kratos stuck his head in and growled at Zelos.
"I'm not wearing the hat!" he grumbled and vanished from the door again.
"Come on! I paid good money for the outfit! Wear it!" Zelos demanded, "It's for your son! And it's just for today!"
"I will strangle you later for this, you know that." Kratos muttered and re-entered the mansion, dressed in a suit of red and white with a funny nightcap shaped hat with white pompom on its tip hanging on one side. Lloyd burst into laughter as he leaped out and hugged his father, startling the group and the seraphim together.
"Dad! You're here! Merry Christmas!" he cried and nuzzled him, "I missed you so much! You have to stick around through spring, Dad! I'm getting married!" The surprised look on Kratos's face let the group know that he had been missing much of the events in his son's life.
"That was nice of you." Sheena murmured as she slid her arms around one of Zelos's own, catching him by surprise as he looked down at her, "Calling in Kratos to spend Christmas with his son, throwing this party for all of us...." She looked up at him slyly, "Cutting your hair for Colette's Christmas angel. You can be sweet when you want to."
"It's a gift." he joked softly and nuzzled her head, "I didn't think anyone would notice the angel hair, though." Genis glared at the curls on the Christmas angel when Colette brought it down to show off.
"Hey! This hair looks familiar!" he declared, "Zelos!"
"Oh yeah, leave it to the brat to call me out!" Zelos griped loudly, then broke into laughter with the rest of his friends as they returned to enjoying the holiday together, as friends and even better, as family.
Ha! Gotcha! Merry Christmas, Happy Haunaka(sp?), Joyous Kwanzaa and happy holidays, fans of ToS! Kiss, kiss!