Merry Christmas, everyone! (What he said!) Hey, Angie, you're on a very good mood today! (Of course I am, Acosta! I mean, being angry or moody in Christmas isn't exactly the best way to spend the holidays… especially because I'm getting something I had been waiting for the whole year.) I should have known… what's your gifts' list? (Not too much… some new clothing, a pair of boots I saw at the mall, a basket with Christmas cookies, a new cell phone…) Anything who doesn't come from a store? (Yes; some quality time with my parents, a snowballs' fight with my friends… and the chance of standing under the mistletoe with Finster while drinking some hot cocoa. –Angie blushes slightly-) Really? That's very nice, Angelica. (Well, I might be a material girl, but even I have a corny sentimental side.)
Okay, can you please read the disclaimer? (Of course I can; DISCLAIMER: Ramiro here doesn't own any Rugrats character portrayed in this story, all of us copyrighted by Nickelodeon. This story is done without any profit intentions.)
Thanks, Angelica. Now, it's my turn to explain something to the readers; what's a Pastorela. (Yes, I want to know that too; it sounds like some sort of meal or candy.) Nope, it isn't; is a play, set during biblical times, referring to the first Christmas ever, when Jesus was born. There are several versions of this play, some serious, some comedic, and, the most times, mixing a little of both. (And why it's called Pastorela?) Simple; in this particular play most of the characters are villagers, usually shepherds, and, in Spanish, the word for 'shepherd' is 'pastor'.
(Well, guess that explains everything; one last thing; there will be some narration in this story, which will be written in italics, plus yours truly and company will appear in our Rugrats' personas. Now that the author's notes are over, as well as the cultural segment of this story, it's time for me to say… on with the show!)
A Rugrats' story by Acosta Pérez José Ramiro.
"Merry Christmas, bro!"
"Merry Christmas, Drew!" Stu Pickles greeted his brother with a tight hug. Angelica and her mother were right behind Drew, the three of them with winter clothes, and entering the Pickles' home, where everyone will celebrate the Christmas' party.
Once Stu greeted both Charlotte and his niece, Angelica, carrying a little bag, walked to the living room to see the Christmas tree while the adults headed to the kitchen to chat and end the dinner's final details. As expected, Tommy, Dil, the DeVilles and the Finsters were there as well, looking at the spheres and lights, and at the many gifts under the tree, as well as a few Hannukah's decorations (something logical since Tommy and Dil's mother is Jewish) so, for the time being, they didn't spot the blonde.
Angelica took the chance to hide her bag under the largest couch; it contained several gifts for the babies, chosen by her and her parents, but Angelica wasn't particularly eager to give them. Maybe, she thought, if hiding the gifts, her parents would forget about the bag, and she would be able to pick it later and keep the presents for herself.
"Hello, Angelica!" Tommy finally noticed his cousin, right after she was done hiding the bag, "Merry Christmas!" Tommy and his companions chorused.
"Uh… Merry Christmas to you too, babies." Angelica replied, not exactly cheerful, but handled to show her usual fake gentle smile, "So, what did you ask Santa for this year?"
"I asked for a new doll so my Super Thing can have more company." Kimi giggled.
"I want a new bucket and a shovel to make mud cakes and dig worms out." Phil chuckled.
"I want more bows for my hair, on many colors." Lil commented.
"I just want something nice for Dil, and maybe a toy car for me." Tommy said as Dil giggled at him.
"I couldn't think about anything, so I'll be fine with anything Santa decides giving to me." Chuckie ended, shrugging.
"Finster, you really are hopeless," Angelica rolled her eyes, "at least the other babies could think about something. I was a very good girl this year, so I know Santa will give me a lot of gifts."
As every time Angelica claimed to be a good girl, the babies looked at each other, puzzled, and wondering at what time she acted like that; it surely was whenever they weren't around.
At that moment, the doorbell rang, and Didi, Tommy and Dil's mother, opened it, greeting Randy and Lucy Carmichael and their children; Alisa, Buster and Edwin, being the elder ones, went to play outside after greeting the host, while Susie headed to the living room.
"Merry Christmas, everyone," Susie greeted Angelica and the babies, who greeted her back, and then noticed something about their friend; under her jacket, Susie was wearing a white robe with a gold-colored rope around her waist.
"Your clothes are very pretty, Susie." Kimi commented as everyone else but Angelica nodded in agreement.
"Don't you get too cold with that, Carmichael?" Angelica asked her, arching an eyebrow.
"No; I have normal clothes under the robe," Susie explained, "I'm using this because today we had a play at the church, and I participated; I had no dialogues, just a little chorus singing."
"Why you went church today?" Angelica asked, puzzled, "It's no Sunday."
"No, but it's Christmas, and if you go church you have to go this day, especially if participating in the play," Susie told her.
"And what was the play about, Susie?" Tommy asked her.
"About the first Christmas."
"Santa was at the play?" Lil asked, a little bit too cheerful.
"No, Lil, he wasn't; on the first Christmas, there was only one baby getting presents, so Santa wasn't needed."
"What? A dumb baby got all the presents?" Angelica got an annoyed look, "That's unfair! Why he had to get all the cookies, and toys, and clothing, and the pony ride, and…"
"It wasn't like that, Angelica," Susie rolled her eyes, and then got a happy expression, "Hey, what about I tell you the play's story?"
This time, even Angelica nodded, since she really wanted to know why a baby would get all the presents. Susie sat at the largest couch, with Angelica sitting next to her, and the babies sitting around; once they were all comfortable enough, Susie started her narration.
Many, many years ago, when not even our grandpas' grandpas were born, in a very far away land called Bethlehem, a very special baby was born. The day it happened, a star appeared over the place his family was staying, and an angel flew all around the world to tell people about this baby so everyone could go and see him, using the star's light as a guide. Many people ignored this, but many others didn't; almost all of them were humble people, including a group of shepherds.
The scene shows a desert-like place, with several rocky formations and some plants here and there. There's a lambs' herd advancing through the place, with several little sheepherders guiding them. Tommy is at the front, leading the group; Kimi, Lil, and Phil are walking among the lambs, while Chuckie and Harold (AN: You thought he wasn't appearing here?) are at the back to keep an eye on the slowest lambs. All of them are carrying backpacks.
"Hurry, up, friends," Tommy turned at his companions, smiling, "We have to take our presents to the baby."
"We are hurrying up, Tommy," Lil comments, softly glaring at Phil, "but Phil is slowing down the lambs."
"I'm not, Lillian," Phil replies as checking a moving lamb's flock, "I'm just getting sure they have no fleas… and if they have, well, there's no use on wasting them." Phil smiled as finding a flea, and immediately munching it, what caused Chuckie and Harold to get nauseated looks.
"I'm going to lose my lunch." Chuckie commented, holding his tummy.
"If I find it, can I eat it, Chuckie?" Harold asked eagerly while munching a piece of bread. The other red-haired boy rolled his eyes and nodded, just to avoid giving more explanations.
"I still don't know why I couldn't bring my Dummie Bears' collection." Kimi complained.
"Because you have many, Kimi, and we already have a lot of work traveling with our lambs." Tommy explained without stopping his march.
"And we have to hurry up because, the sooner we arrive, the sooner we can return home," Chuckie added, giving a nervous look around him, "I don't like traveling in the desert… what if we get attacked by a wolf, or a snake, or a rhino, or an abominable snowman?"
"There are no abominable snowmen in the desert, Chuckie. They live in cold places with a lot of snow." Kimi tried to calm down her brother.
"And what if there's one on vacation around here?" Chuckie gulped at the idea. The rest of the kids ignored him, and kept walking, following the star's guide.
Meanwhile, on a very ugly place, where all bad people get punished, three little devils were waiting to receive orders from their boss.
The scene changes, showing a large cavern, and three children arguing; they're Angelica, Savannah, and Timmy, all of them with red clothing and a large devil-like tail. Timmy has two little horns on his forehead, while Angelica and Savannah's pig tails are pointer than usual and slightly curvy, giving the impression of being horns as well.
"I want to break a house's windows!" Timmy snapped at his companions.
"We did it yesterday! Let's spoil someone's dinner switching the salt and the sugar, and then steal the cable signal!" Savannah folded her arms.
"No way; let's fool a fairy and make it destroy a city for us!" Angelica got a sly grin while her companions rolled their eyes.
"Please! Even that green haired one isn't fool enough to destroy another city… which was that last time? Xanadu?"
"I think it's now called 'Pittsburgh'." Timmy corrected Savannah. Then, a loud voice made them stop arguing and stand up straight in soldier-like positions.
"Timmiel! Savannel! Angeliel!"
"Your orders, Boss!" The three little devils chorused, half-scared, half-serious.
"The competition is playing a major stunt right now! A representative of them has just appeared on Earth, to be more exact, at Bethlehem, taking human form, and people are already heading to meet him and offer their respects! Your mission, devils, if you decide to accept it, is to stop them at any cost… if you get captured, of course, we'll deny any connection with the three of you. And, if you decide not accepting it, is a major punishment for the three of you, and grounding for three hundred years, or until the fall of the Roman Empire, whatever happens first."
"Any information you can provide us, Boss?" Angelica/Angeliel asked, making a military salute.
"Yes. Limit yourselves to just trying to stop the shepherds that are going to Bethlehem; don't try, I repeat, don't try to perform a direct attack on the baby… don't even approach him! THAT'S AN ORDER!"
"Okay, Boss!" The three devils replied, still on the military-like tone.
"Okay, that's all. Bad luck, Devils."
"Thank you, Charlie." Timmy/Timmel replied, getting puzzled looks from his companions; he immediately gulped and corrected himself, "Sorry, Boss! I don't know where that came from!"
"WHATEVER, JUST LEAVE! Oh, and one more thing… this cavern will self-destruct in five seconds… four… three…"
"We lose many caverns this way." Savannah/Savannel gulped right before her and her companions dashed out of the cavern.
"… two… one…" The voice stopped, yet nothing happened. The voice then chuckled evilly. "Those fools… after all this time, they still don't realize when I'm lying to them!"
Back on Earth, the shepherds and the lambs stopped at a water hole to take a break. They all were pretty tired, but still had full intention to continue their journey.
The three devils approached the group, hidden behind some bushes.
"They're just a bunch of babies and a fat fool; this will be easy." Angeliel rubbed her hands in anticipation.
"Maybe I can just punch and bully them; that way we can finish early." Timmel proposed.
"Don't be silly, Timmel! Remember, whenever we perform a direct action, the competition comes, and they usually arrive at a bigger number than ours, or take a powerful form to battle us." Savannel reminded him, "Remember what happened with Team Devil Rocket?"
"Yes; the competition sent that yellow hamster that looked so nice and helpless, and then… Lightning Attack, and Team Devil Rocket gets blasted off again!" Angeliel rolled her eyes, and then her expression brightened, "I got it! Let's just scare them, and, when they're separated, make them an offer they can't refuse so they drop this journey aside."
"That's a good… I mean a bad one!" Timmel rubbed his chin, "And I know exactly how to separate them."
The shepherds made their lambs to move again, and started heading away from the water hole, when the devils placed a sign in front of them, and ran to hide again.
"What does it says there, Tommy?" Phil asked his leader, who scratched his head in confusion.
"Don't know; I can't read yet." Tommy then turned at Harold, "You are already learning, right?"
"Yes… I can't read too fast, but I can try." Harold shrugged, and moved in front of the sign. "Let's see… la… lamb… chops… barb… Oh, I get it! The sign says 'Barbeque pit ahead. Today special is lamb chops'; yummy!"
The lambs wide opened their eyes, and a split second later…
"No, stop!" Tommy and the other kids tried to stop the lambs, that started running away and separating, "Nobody is going to eat you! Wait!"
A minute later, there was no lamb on sight.
"Sorry, guys… I never imagined lambs could understand everything we say." Harold got an ashamed look.
"Is okay, Harold; this wasn't your fault." Lil commented as placing a hand on the kid's arm, and then got a thoughtful expression, "But if aminals understand these things, it would explain why my goldfish gets so nervous when my mommy says we are having seafood for dinner."
"Friends, there's no time to lose!" Tommy got control of the situation, as usual, "We have to separate and look for the lambs before going to Bethlehem."
"But we can't do it, Tommy!" Chuckie gulped, "It might be dangerous, and what if we have to walk a lot to find them?"
"I have an idea!" Kimi proposed, "If it takes us a lot of time to find them, then everyone will take the lambs he or she finds to Bethlehem and meet the others there."
"Good idea, Kimi," Tommy nodded, and once everyone agreed, they separated to start looking for the lambs.
"I still think this is not such a good idea." Chuckie sighed yet followed the plan. Once he and the other sheepherders were out of sight, the devils jumped out from their hiding place.
"I don't like this," Savannel rubbed her chin, "The boss said we had to stop them all, but what if one or two of them can escape, and go Bethlehem anyway?"
"I'll handle that problem." Angeliel pointed at herself, "I'm heading to that town, and set a trap for the shepherds; that doesn't count as a direct attack as long as I make it look like an accident."
"Fine then, but remember what the boss said about the baby; stay away from him, or the three of us will be in troubles." Timmel reminded her. Angeliel nodded, and ran away, heading to Bethlehem, while the other devils separated to set their own traps for the shepherds.
Harold got lucky and found two lambs. The fat kid smiled widely, and guided them back to the waterhole. However, after walking a few minutes, he stopped, sniffing at something.
"Chocolate… cookies… pizza… roast chicken…" Harold smiled widely, and, followed by the lambs, ran behind a nearby bush, his jaw falling at the view. Right in front of him, there was a large table, with lots of food on it; besides what he already had sniffed, there was ice cream, turkey, pies of several kinds, cake, smashed potatoes, salad, roast beef, and many other things.
"Hello?" Harold called loudly, "This is anyone's food?" He got no answer. "Can I eat something?" Still no answer, "I'm taking that as a 'Yes'; I suppose it's fine if I just take a little snack."
The lambs, weirdly, arched an eyebrow at him.
"Fine… a little snack of everything." Harold sighed, yet conserved his happy mood, and started serving himself a large dish. The lambs shrugged, and started eating some salad as well.
At a distance, Savannel got an evil smirk, and left Harold with his feast; with that distraction, the kid would surely forget about the special baby and his friends as well.
"Hey, Lillian, look, I found three lambs!" Phil found his sister when heading back to the waterhole.
"And I found four, Philip." Lil got a proud look as showing the lambs to her brother.
"This is no competition, Lil." Phil groaned as Lil chuckled. The twins then put their lambs together to get back; if they hurried, maybe they'll still catch their companions before they decided to go ahead at their own.
Suddenly, Phil noticed something at his feet, and looked down, smiling.
"Hey, Lil, look! There's a lot of mud in here!"
"Not just in here… it's all around us!" Lil said in joy as looking around them. The whole area in front of the twins was a huge mud hole.
"I don't think Tommy will mind if we play a little before going to Bethlehem." Lil said as sitting on the muddy ground. Phil was about to do the same when noticing something moving next to him.
"A worm!" Phil exclaimed in happiness, "Start playing, Lil; I'll try to get some bugs for lunch!"
Lil nodded at her twin, and started making a mud cake while Phil picked up the large worm. The lambs, noticing the twins weren't directing them, decided to play at the mud as well.
Behind them, Timmel chuckled, and retired silently to look for another sheepherder.
On the meantime, Angeliel arrived at the town's entrance, and prepared her traps; a series of holes covered with a thin layer of branches and leaves. Anyone approaching the city would surely fall, and hurt his or her leg; therefore, that person would need to go see a doctor and forget about the baby.
"Guess this will be enough," Angeliel commented to herself. She was about to leave when hearing someone approaching her from behind, obviously a villager that wasn't affected by the traps. The blond devil used her powers to hide her real look; a second later, she was using a stylish dress, and her hair was on a bun.
"Hello, Mini," the person, who was a teenage girl carrying a guitar, greeted the blonde, "My name is Taffy; are you alone here?"
"Uh… yes, Miss Taffy," Angeliel replied gently, "I'm waiting for some friends; they might arrive soon."
"Well, I don't think you should be here on your own; I'm going visit someone over there," Taffy pointed at a distance, and then looked back at the girl, "it's not so far, so why about you come with me for a while so you don't need to wait alone for too much?"
"Sure, why not?" Angeliel smiled, hiding her anger; she wanted to be close to the holes to see the people falling on them, but it wasn't a good idea to get into troubles with the teenager. Taffy smiled at her, and took the girl's hand; the blonde sighed, and offered no resistance.
Kimi found three lambs hiding next to a large bush. She was about to call them when hearing a sound coming from behind the plant; the girl recognized the tune, and moved the animals aside to get a better look.
"Sing the happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy song… sing the happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy song…"
Kimi got her widest smile ever; there was a huge TV set in front of her, showing a Dummie Bears' movie, and, around the TV, the largest collection of stuffed animals the girl had ever seen. Besides the obvious Dummie Bears, there was bunnies, lambs, puppies, kitties, and any animal the girl could ever remember at the time.
"This is wonderful! I found the perfect place!" Kimi giggled, and sat in front of the TV, hugging the closest stuffed animal, and started singing the happy song. The lambs moved next to her, and, hypnotized by the song, fell asleep.
"This is just so funny." Savannel, hiding behind the bush, chuckled, and left Kimi alone with the lambs and her favorite TV show.
Chuckie sighed in relief when finding two lambs. The boy guided them, as always, when spotting a third lamb; it was inside a large cage, but, unlike most cages, this one seemed quite comfortable. It was filled up with toys and cushions, and a little table with cookies and milk at the middle.
"You found a nice place, lamb," Chuckie smiled at the little animal, and then shook his head, "but we have to leave now. Tommy and the others are waiting for us."
"What was that?" Chuckie and the lambs got scared at the loud howling, "It… it's a wolf!" Chuckie hugged the lamb at the cage, and carried him out, "Come on… we have to go before the wolf finds us!"
Chuckie froze when hearing the howling again, a lot closer than the first one.
"On a second thought… everyone get inside the cage!" Chuckie dropped the lamb gently, and then guided the other two inside the cage as well. Then, he closed the gate and locked it from the inside.
"Well… we'll be safe here," Chuckie sighed, and then got a second look at the gate; after a few seconds, the boy shrugged, and approached to the table, "At least we are in a nice, safe, and comfortable place where nobody can hurt us."
As Chuckie started sharing the cookies with the lambs, Timmel howled a last time, yet not as loud as the previous ones, so only he could hear it. The devil boy chuckled, and left Chuckie and the lambs at the cage.
Tommy, who had found five lambs, was already at the waterhole, waiting for his friends, and getting more worried with every passing second.
"I know we agreed to go town on our own if it took us a lot of time to get all of you," Tommy sighed, directing to his lambs, "but I thought there would be at least one of my friends here. I don't think all of them are having problems to find your brothers and sisters."
Tommy sat next to one of the largest lambs, and got a look around. He was tempted to leave and follow the plan, but he was pretty worried about his friends, so decided to wait a little more.
"I'm just waiting for two more minutes, okay?" Tommy said to the lamb, that gave him a weird look; Tommy sighed, and looked down, "Don't look at me; I have no clock… guess we'll have to wait a lot then."
Behind the bushes, Savannel and Timmel spied at Tommy.
"What are we going to do with him?"
"Nothing," Savannel told her companion, "he is so worried about those silly kids he'll stay here on his own waiting for them."
"He'll better take a large nap… because that's not happening soon!" Timmel and Savannel laughed loudly, and left the place, with Tommy petting his lamb and sighing sadly.
The little devil followed the teen inside a large cave, located close to the city's entrance. It was actually an improvised barn with some animals and grain sacks in there, and, in the middle of it, there was a couple looking at something inside the animals' feeding place that served as an improvised crib.
"Hello, Mister and Mrs.," Taffy greeted the couple with a large smile, "I came to see the little messiah… I hope is fine with you."
"Of course it's fine," the man (Stu) shook hands with the girl, and made the proper introductions, "My name is Joseph, and the lovely woman is my wife, Mary."
"Glad to meet you, your holiness." Taffy bowed respectfully in front of Mary who was no other than Didi, wearing the adequate clothing for the age and place.
"Glad to meet you, Taffy." Didi/Mary placed a hand under the teenager's chin to make her look up, "but don't call me like that. I'm just a simple woman who was blessed in a very special way."
Angeliel rolled her eyes, and decided to leave before the elders noticed her, but wasn't that lucky.
"Oh, and who are you, little one?" Stu/Joseph called her. The devil girl felt slightly uncomfortable at the kind tone the man used; back at home, she usually only heard yelling and other not very likable sounds, many of them actually caused by herself.
"Uh, I just came here with Taffy while my friends arrive, sir," Angeliel finally said in her well practiced kind girl's tone.
"Oh, it's so beautiful!" Angeliel turned at the women when Taffy got a look at the baby; the teenager then turned at the blonde, "Come, you have to see him!"
The devil girl hesitated a moment, remembering her boss' warning, but, as any other little devil, she was very curious, and decided that a fast look couldn't hurt. The girl approached the women, and then leaned to see the baby (Dil) partially covered in hay, with a sleepy face.
"This is the special baby?" Angeliel whispered to herself as arching an eyebrow, "What's the big deal about him? He isn't even the son of a king or something like that."
The baby opened his eyes, and looked at the blonde's. Then, the girl got a weird feeling; it was as if the baby could see through her disguise, and know her true nature. Her devilish soul was clear for him, and Angeliel realized this after a few seconds of mutual staring.
"Oh, no… he knows what I am!" The blonde thought while gulping hard; for the first time in ages, she felt uncomfortable with herself. Somehow, being a little devil, something she was usually proud, made her feel ashamed in front of this newborn kid.
What happened next surprised the devil girl even more; the kid smiled at her, and, extending his little hand, touched her face, as if saying he was fine with her visit.
"Oh, he likes you!" Taffy and Mary said at the same time; Angeliel got a half-shocked expression, and moved a few steps back.
"I have to leave… my friends must arrive soon." The blonde, surprisingly, found extremely difficult to lie this time. The adults and teen nodded at her, and then directed their whole attention to the baby.
"I don't have a proper gift for you, little messiah," Taffy whispered at the baby as placing the guitar on her lap, "but a little lullaby I wrote for you. Hope you like it."
As the teenager started playing, the devil girl gave a last look to the group, and, getting a sad look, walked out of the cave. She could still hear Taffy's singing, and the image of the baby was now fixed on her head, without any visible chances of getting rid of it.
Harold ate his third sandwich in a row; each one of them was filled up with anything he could accommodate from the table. The boy then drank a little soda, and, after burping, decided to prepare another sandwich.
"I wonder if roast chicken and potato salad taste good with peanut butter and jelly," Harold said to himself while looking for the needed ingredients for his culinary experiment; the moment he was about to grab a piece of bread, he got surprised by a nice female voice coming from nowhere.
"That's a very interesting combination."
"Uh? W---who is there?" Harold looked everywhere, trying to locate the person talking to him. "Look, if you are the food's owner, I'm sorry I started eating without permission… I thought this was a buffet or something!"
"Relax, I didn't want to scare you, just talking a little." The voice calmed Harold down, "So, what are you doing here, and why are you traveling with those lambs?"
"Well… I'm a shepherd, and was on my way to Bethlehem when the lambs escaped, and the gang had to split up and search for clues… I mean, for the lambs!"
"I see… well, you obviously found the lambs; why are you still here?"
"I saw this table, and couldn't resist… everything is so delicious!"
"Yes, but I think you are missing something here."
"I know… I should have started with the peas, but I don't like veggies that much."
"I mean, that you are eating alone. Tell me, when you eat with your friends, how do you feel?"
"I like it," Harold confessed, "sure, I like to eat tasty things, and sometimes we only have dry bread for lunch, but when we are eating all together it doesn't really matter… that's why the lunch time is my favorite time of the day… besides breakfast and dinner, of course."
"And, do you think it's okay to be here eating on your own when there's people waiting for you to go visit the special baby?"
"You're right… hey, lambs!" Harold called the animals that stopped munching the fruit salad, and walked next to him, "Guess I'll better leave now. Thanks for talking to me, Voice."
"You're welcome." The voice said to the kid as he walked away with the lambs behind him.
"I like a lot in here, Phil." Lil said to her brother, both laid at the middle of the mud hole.
"Me too… maybe we can take a nap before leaving." Phil proposed, and then he and his twin closed their eyes, getting ready to sleep.
"Are you two comfortable?"
"Who said that?" Lil opened her eyes and sat while Phil shook his head and did the same.
"Just someone who is curious about you two; is that place comfortable?"
"Yes, it is," Phil answered, "and has a lot of worms… I would like staying here forever."
"Sounds like a plan, but… how about your friends? They are waiting for you."
"The voice is right, Phil! We had been playing and resting in here for a long time now. Tommy and the others might be worried."
"But I want to stay, Lil," Phil whined, "in this place we don't have to work… just rest, eating worms, and playing in the mud."
"It's good to take a rest at times; your body and your mind need it," the voice said, "but you can't do it forever. Imagine if everybody stopped working at all; some things have to be done so the world can still go on."
"Yes… it wouldn't be nice; nobody making nice clothing, or feeding their kids… or visiting a baby who had to get born inside a cave because nobody received his mommy and his daddy at any home." Lil said to Phil as both twins got hit by realization.
"We'll better go now, sis," Phil said to her as helping Lil to stand up, "You get the lambs while I take the towels out of my back pack so we can clean ourselves."
Once the twins took the animals out of the mud hole, and used the towels to clean themselves, and then the lambs as well, they thanked the voice and guided their little herd back to the water hole.
Kimi smiled widely as the next movie was about to start. Whoever left that TV on had every single Dummie Bears' movie ever made, and Kimi planned on seeing them all.
"Having fun, Kimi?"
"Who talked? And how you know my name?" Kimi looked around for the person who just directed to her.
"It doesn't matter now," the voice said, "I had been looking at you for a while. You like Dummie Bears a lot, right?"
"Yes, they are the cutest, softest, and nicest things in the whole world!" Kimi replied happily while hugging her stuffed animal.
"Even more than the baby you were about to visit?"
"The baby!" Kimi slapped her forehead in realization, "I totally forgot about him… but… this place is great, and I don't want to leave. I found it by accident, and I don't know if I'll be able to find it again."
"Sometimes you have to make choices, Kimi," the voice explained, "and it can be very hard, so just ask this to yourself… I have to do the easiest thing, or the right one?"
"The right one… as Tommy says, a shepherd has to do what a shepherd has to do!" Kimi got a determined look, and released the bear. Then, she called her lambs, and, after thanking the voice, walked away from the Dummie Bears' paradise.
"Here, take another cookie," Chuckie offered a cookie to one of his lambs that immediately munched it. The kid smiled at the little animal, but got a slightly sad look a moment later as looking through the cage's bars.
"Are you okay?"
"Yikes! Who said that?" Chuckie got his usual concerned expression as looking around hoping whoever talked to him was friendly.
"Don't be afraid; I'll never hurt you. It's just that I am a little confused; you were fine until just a moment ago."
"Well… it's just that I'm a little worried about my friends. I know they're waiting for me at the waterhole so we can all go to Bethlehem, and I should be on my way there." Chuckie explained, relaxing a little.
"That gate gets open from the inside; why don't you take your lambs and go with them?"
"Because in here, I'm safe, Voice." Chuckie said, looking down, "I am afraid something terrible will happen to me or my lambs if we get out… what if I get lost, or a wild beast attacks us? Without Tommy, Kimi, and my other friends, I'm just too much of a coward to guide the lambs by myself."
"There's nothing wrong with getting afraid; everyone feels fear once in a while… but you feel it a lot more than anyone around you; can you explain me why?"
"It's because… I am older than most of my friends, and I'm supposed to protect them… but there are so many things that can hurt us… and they aren't like me; they like adventure, and doing things I would never do on my own… that's why I'm always afraid! If anything bad happens, I have the obligation to face it, and I don't want to fail them… That's why I always hide behind a braver person, so someone else can face danger; I'm totally useless." Chuckie confessed, almost crying.
"Nobody is totally useless," the voice calmed him down, "and even if you are so easy to scare, you still stand up for your friends when they need you. You had never failed them because you are always there, even if afraid, and that talks highly about you." The voice paused while Chuckie's expression brightened a little, "And about the cage, well, it's good to have a place where you can rest and feel safe, but, if you stay there all the time, nothing will happen to you, neither good nor bad, and you would be wasting your life. Once in a while, you'll need to face risks, but, even if something goes wrong, you can learn from the experience, and there's always the chance of things going fine."
Chuckie stared at the gate for a few moments, and then made his choice.
"If I help my friends just by being there, then I have to do that," Chuckie said while opening the gate, "besides, living with 3 lambs for the rest of my life… I wouldn't be able to stand the smell!" The kid chuckled and called the animals, and, after thanking the voice, left the place. Chuckie realized he was pretty close to Bethlehem now, so decided to head there and wait for his friends at the city's entrance.
Back at Bethlehem, the devil girl finished filling on the last hole.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," Angeliel said to herself while eliminating the trap, "Just one look at that dumb baby and my job is ruined!" The blonde kicked some dirt in anger, yet her furious expression turned immediately into a puzzled one. "What's wrong with me?"
"Nothing at all… that's why you are so puzzled."
"Oh… Of course, who else would be?" Angeliel turned when hearing a familiar voice. "You came to ruin my fun as usual, Carmichael?"
Susie, wearing a bright white shirt and skirt combination, silver sandals, and showing two large blue wings at her back and a golden halo over her head, smiled at the blonde.
"Actually, I was sent to save the shepherds from any trap you and your companions prepared to stop them, and I was about to get rid of these holes… but you did it first." Carmichael shrugged. Angeliel sighed deeply, and looked down.
"Yeah… I don't know why. I just… got a look of that baby, and… this never happened before!" The blonde devil snapped at the angel, "I mean, can fill all the pages of the Old Testament with the lectures you had given to me, and I never heard to you, but this kid appears, and with just one smile, I can't do my job without feeling guilty!"
"Well, that's his power, Angeliel; he carries a lot of my father's kindness and wisdom with him, and transmits it to anyone willing to accept them… and, if you got influenced, I suppose you still have a little bit of Heaven inside you."
"Guess you're right… for a moment, it was like… if I had never left that place." Angeliel sighed again, getting a little smile. Like most devils, she used to be an angel, but got severely punished and turned into a devil when revealing against her creator.
"And, what are you going to do now?"
"Honestly? I don't know; I can't go back with my boss after disobeying him… he can think about tortures that make the Egyptian plagues look like a King Salomon's party," Angeliel got back her sad expression, and cut the angel when she tried to talk, "And don't even think about offering me going back Heaven. I have done some pretty horrible things, and I'm sure no longer deserve to be there; I mean, before David fought Goliath, I tried to switch his rocks with marshmallows! Not to mention my fraud selling apartments on Babel Tower."
"I know, but there's another option." Carmichael placed a hand on the devil's shoulder, "You are no longer as evil as a devil, yet you're far from being an angel… therefore, you qualify as a human being. You can live on Earth, and suffer all the things mortals have to, like diseases and aging… but also experience all the good things as well, and have a chance for redemption. That way, your actions will be the ones taking you to either Heaven or back with your ex-boss."
"You think I can do that?" Angeliel smiled slightly at her former rival, her eyes showing hope for the first time in ages.
"Father has faith on you." Carmichael gave the blonde a fond smile. Angeliel nodded at her, and, a moment later, a bright light covered the soon to be ex-devil.
At the water hole, Tommy sighed sadly for what seemed to be the millionth time. Then, when he was about to start looking for his friends, dropping the journey…
"Hey, Tommy, we are back!" Lil greeted her friend as she and her twin guided their lambs. Tommy smiled widely, and sighed in relief.
"I am, too." Kimi appeared from a different side.
"And I am three… actually, three and a half." Harold added as his lambs reunited with the others.
"It's great you could return, friends!" Tommy said in happiness, "I was about to go look for you."
"Hey, where's my brother?" Kimi noticed Chuckie wasn't around.
"Well, all of you could find many lambs and return here; maybe Chuckie had to look more than you, and is too far away to return." Tommy guessed.
"Then, we're waiting for him, or going to Bethlehem?" Phil asked.
"He had never failed us before, so I am almost sure he is on his way there." Tommy pointed; the other kids nodded, and then guided their herd to continue the journey.
"We're sorry, Boss!" Timmel and Savannel chorused in fear, cowering at their boss' voice as he lectured them at another cavern.
"YOU THINK I CARE? YOU USELESS LITTLE DUMB DEVILS! NOT JUST YOU FAILED IN YOUR TASK, BUT NOW ONE OF MY MOST MISCHIEVOUS AND CLEVER DEVILS ABANDONED US!"
"It was her fault, Boss!" Timmel fell on his knees, in a begging position.
"Yes, she should have obeyed you!" Savannel added, getting a similar position.
"I KNOW THAT! BUT SHE ISN'T HERE, RIGHT? THEREFORE, YOU TWO WILL GET YOUR PUNISHMENT ALONG WITH HERS!"
At that moment, a large door appeared next to the devils.
"For starters, you two are going to clean this bathroom I cancelled last century! And you are doing it bare-handed."
The devils gulped, and opened the door, gasping at the sight and smell.
"This place hadn't been cleaned in a century?" Savannel said, covering her nose and mouth.
"I cancelled it last century, but it had been lacking maintenance for a longer time."
"For how long, Boss?" Timmel said meekly, fearing the answer.
"Remember when Noah built his ark? IT WAS RIGHT BEFORE THAT!"
"EEEEWWW!" Both devils said before fainting.
"Hey, we are here!" Chuckie said to his lambs as arriving to the town's entrance, "I don't see my friends… let's wait for a while here, and if they don't come, we'll go to see the baby and wait there."
Chuckie sat on a rock to rest and wait while keeping an eye on the animals. A moment later, he heard someone approaching from behind.
"Who's there?" Chuckie turned, finding one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen. She had medium-length blond hair that fell loosely at the sides of her head, and was wearing regular villager's clothing.
"Hi… my name is Angelie… I mean, Angelica. You came to see the special baby, right?" Angelica said to the red-haired, in a kind tone that, for once, was totally honest.
"Uh… yes. I'm waiting for my friends so we can all go there… my name is Charles, but everyone calls me Chuckie." The boy stood up and, shyly, offered his hand to the girl, who shook it a moment later.
"I already saw him, but I'm about to return. Can I join you and your friends?"
"Sure; they wouldn't mind." Chuckie blushed a little and offered her a seat… actually, a rock next to his so she could sit down as well. Angelica smiled at him, and then sat; the duo chatted for a while until hearing several other lambs approaching them.
"You were right, Tommy! He is already here!" Lil said to her friend as she and the rest of the children approached Chuckie and Angelica. The boy made the proper introductions between them and the blonde, and then headed to the cave.
Once there, the teenager received the shepherds; they greeted the baby and his parents, and then gave them the presents, nothing too fancy, just some wool blankets and assorted clothing, as well as some food. They also offered to help the teen clean the place a little to make it more comfortable for the family, and the former devil girl, who was the only one without a gift, leaned at the baby and whispered something at him.
"I can't give you anything right now… except an apology, and a promise you already know about."
And it was enough for him.
Susie ended her narration, getting awed looks from her friends, including Angelica.
"That baby was really important!" Kimi said after a few seconds.
"Yes, he was, and he became a very important man," Susie said as standing up, "That's why we celebrate Christmas; it's that baby's birthday, and everyone is invited."
"Kids," Didi approached the children, "we are about to eat. Come on."
The children followed the woman, except Angelica. She gave a look at the couch, getting a slightly sad expression. After a few seconds, however, her look brightened, and kneeled to take the sack from under the couch.
"It's just once a year… and I don't want to ruin anyone's birthday, so guess I can be nice this time." Angelica said to herself as carrying the bag, and then got a cheerful tone, "Hey, babies, Santa asked my mommy and my daddy to get your presents this year, and me to deliver them!"
So, what do you think, Angie? (You want to hear the truth, or us to remain friends?) Gee, thanks a lot, Angelica. (Oh, cool down, Acosta! I'm just playing with you; I liked the story, honestly.)
Thanks, Angie. Can you please say the second disclaimer? (Sure; as you guys noticed, we had some references and mentions here concerning other series; we had from Fairy Odd Parents, Charlie's Angels, Mission: Impossible, Scooby Doo, and Pokemon, none of them owned by Acosta. If you find any from another show, is pure coincidence, not counting the many biblical references we had as well.)
Thanks to everyone reading and reviewing this fic, and, as always, keep the good writing! And, Angelica…
(Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! And where's my gift, people?)