Note: This is the third story in the Jack of Truths series. You'll probably need to read the first two to understand damn near any of this. :p Merry Christmas!
A Holly Jolly Jack Frost Christmas
What was once fluffy white snow was now frozen over and crisp, crunching noisily under her boots despite her attempt to be stealthy. Her foe was nearby, just across the yard and completely unaware of her presence. She wished that the snow would disappear so that she could make a sneaky approach and attack up close, but if it hadn't been for the snow, she never would've had this chance in the first place.
Peeking out around the tree she was hidden behind, she took in the sight of her enemy and gripped her weapon in her hands. His back was turned to her and the opportunity to strike was now or never.
Quickly jumping out from behind the tree, she wound her arm back and threw with all of her might, grinning when her target was hit dead-on.
"Ow! No fair, Jilly! That hurt!"
"Gross, there's snow in my ear now."
"Then maybe you should've kept your hat on like Ma told you to do," Jilly teased, lightly tossing another snowball up and down in her gloved hand while Jackson struggled to shake the snow from his ear.
"And mess up my hair? Yeah right."
"Then you've got it coming!"
She quickly tossed the second snowball at Jackson and laughed when it hit him on the chin, making him splutter as it exploded around his mouth. It took him a few seconds to get his bearings but then he was focused on her, an angry glare on his face.
"Just you wait, Jolly. As soon as I get my powers back I'm gonna magic you like crazy."
"Then I'll kick your magic butt, Jack Frost," Jilly taunted.
There was no truer way to incur their rage than by using the Christmas nicknames Faith had given them the year before, especially tauntingly.
"How about we stop playing the waiting game and settle this now?"
"Bring it, Mama's Boy."
Jackson's eyes narrowed and he began to clench his gloved hands. It didn't matter that he was a mama's boy; no one got to call him that and get away with it! Jilly clearly wanted to get her butt kicked, he thought, and since it was Christmas and all he figured he'd give her what she wanted. It was the least he could do.
Taking a running start towards each other, they met in the middle of the yard, collapsing into a clumsy mess of bulky winter jackets, snow pants, gloves and scarves. They rolled around in the snow, neither one of them able to get the upper hand as the snow crunched and started to stick to them in awkward places.
Jilly managed to climb on top of Jackson and scooped up some snow while he struggled. He was too busy trying to push her off to notice that she'd unzipped his jacket and was scooping snow into it.
"Ahh, cold!" he yelled.
Jilly giggled and let herself be pushed over into the snow. She tried to roll onto her side so she could get up but if Jackson was anything, it was vengeful. He was already kneeling next to her, trying to push her face-first into the snow until she'd beg for mercy.
Vengeance was a dish best served cold, after all. Cold as snow.
The sound of the back door opening pulled them both from their snow battle just as Jilly's face touched the snow.
"You two knuckleheads had enough fun yet or do I have to come over there and kick your little monkey butts?"
They both froze and turned to look over at Faith who was watching them with her arms crossed over her chest, a big smirk on her face. This wasn't the first time she'd walked out on a scene like this since it had started snowing a few weeks before. In fact, she'd walked out on similar scenes since Jilly was able to walk. Now that the kids were six and nine years old, this was pretty much tradition.
"She started it," Jackson said as he removed his hand from the back of Jilly's head and tried to straighten out his clothes.
"That's my little instigator," Faith replied and winked at Jilly who giggled when she stood up, snow caked to her little red face. "Now hug it out."
"What?" "No way!" Jackson and Jilly cried simultaneously as they took a huge step from each other.
"Just get it over with so we can go inside already. Your Ma is making hot chocolate. There may even be cookies involved, not that I stole some or anything."
Faith stealthily reached into the front pocket on her hooded sweatshirt and took something out, quickly popping it into her mouth before the kids could see what it was. She crunched happily as the kids looked on in mock horror.
"Stop eating our cookies!" Jilly said with a stomp, the smile on her face long gone and replaced with a look of indignation.
Faith had already made her way through all of the Christmas cookies Buffy had made the week before. There was no way they could let her finish off the batch Buffy had been making when they went outside to play!
Suddenly both kids charged at her and Faith quickly opened the door and stepped back into the house, holding the door open for them as they came barreling clumsily toward her. She grabbed Jilly by the back of her jacket and lifted her over her shoulder, laughing when the little girl smacked away at her back and pulled at her sweatshirt. Her other hand went to Jackson's forehead, keeping him at arm's length as he swung away in his puffy jacket.
"When are you guys gonna realize that I always win?" Faith asked, laughing. "I'm the boss and you're the bums. I'm the queen and you're the peasants."
"No, I'm the queen," came a voice from the hallway. Faith and the kids turned to see Buffy standing there, one hand on the doorframe and the other on her hip. She was smiling that smile that made Faith's heart flip in her chest and made Jack and Jilly groan.
It meant that there was about to be kissyface.
Faith easily let Jilly down, her eyes never leaving Buffy's. The kids groaned and complained as Faith walked over to Buffy like she was on autopilot, stopping only when her arms were wrapped around Buffy's lower back and they were chest to chest.
"You're definitely my queen, B," she said, then leaned closer and whispered in her ear, "and later I'll have to get down on my knees and . . . worship you."
Buffy laughed and shared a knowing look with Faith. "It's good being the queen."
Looking away from Faith for just a moment, she quickly glanced up at the doorway above them, then back at Faith with a little smile on her face. Faith raised an eyebrow before looking up at the doorframe and then laughed as she met Buffy's gaze again.
"Mistletoe? You did that just for my benefit, didn't ya," Faith said rather than asked.
"No, this one is for my benefit. All of those," Buffy lifted her hand from Faith's shoulder and indicated all of the other doorways in the house with sprigs of mistletoe hanging from them, "are for your benefit."
Faith looked around and laughed, her eyes lighting up with excitement. Rather than finding something funny – or naughty – to say, she followed centuries of tradition and leaned in, peppering Buffy's lips with several soft kisses.
They completely ignored Jack and Jilly's groans and complaints, just like they did most days when the kids caught them randomly kissing throughout the house.
The kids walked to the back closet and opened the door, careful to stay on the small carpet Buffy had placed in front of it so they wouldn't get snow all over the floor.
"What the heck is a missile-toe?" Jilly asked as she and Jackson took off their coats and outerwear, hanging them up on hooks like they were used to doing.
"I'm pretty sure it's something evil. Toes are just gross, and Uncle Xander says that missiles make things blow up; maybe they're gonna smooch until they explode."
Jilly looked utterly horrified by Jackson's explanation.
"But if they esplode, who's gonna give us our Christmas presents?" she asked anxiously.
Jackson shrugged as he placed his gloves by the heater. "I think it means that we don't get them."
"But what about Santa?"
Jackson rolled his eyes, "Don't you remember last year, Jilly? Santa turned into a demon and tried to eat us. There's no real Santa, and if there is, he's probably in on the whole missile-toe deal."
Jilly couldn't believe what she was hearing. No presents? No cookies and hot chocolate? No Christmas!? This was an outrage and she couldn't just sit by and let it happen!
"Jack-Jack, we have to do something. If they esplode, it's gonna ruin Christmas!"
"Well what are we supposed to do about it? Look at them," he said and they peeked around the corner to find Buffy and Faith still smooching innocently against the doorjamb, smiling against each other's lips. "There's no stopping it now; it's too late."
Jilly sighed and looked around anxiously, determined to do something to save Christmas. She was pretty sure that her moms had bought her the new Hannah Montana microphone and makeup kit and such good presents couldn't just go to waste.
Suddenly an idea came to her. This problem only existed because of the stupid missile-toe. All they had to do was get right of it and they could get back to Christmas Eve as scheduled.
"We have to get rid of the missile-toe, Jack-Jack. All we have to do is take it down and no one will esplode because Mom and Ma will stop smooching."
"Yeah, I doubt that," Jackson said under his breath. He'd been around for longer than Jilly had, and he knew that the smooching never stopped. Ever.
"Well we have to at least try," she said. Seeing that Jackson looked unconvinced, she decided to use the ace up her sleeve. She stuck out her lower lip in a perfect Buffy-esque pout. "Please, Jack! Oh please, oh please, we have to try!"
Jackson watched her beg and tried to keep his resolve but between the whining and the pouty lip, he got roped right in to her little scheme. He was just like Faith; there was no way he could resist the pout. And besides, when he wasn't busy threatening little sis? They were actually best friends, and he always did whatever she wanted to make her happy.
"Fine," he finally said. "But we need to hurry before the missile-toe makes them explode."
"Hurry, bend down!" she instructed him.
Jackson eyed her warily for a moment – looking just like Faith whenever Buffy suggested something silly – before sighing deeply and bending forward. He definitely wasn't prepared for the way Jilly jumped onto his back and scrambled around. He stumbled forward a few steps and only narrowly avoided bashing his head against the wall before finding his footing.
"What the heck are you doing?" he asked.
"Trying to get on your shoulders. Now stand up, Jack-Jack. I'm ready."
Jackson summoned his strength and locked his legs, pushing until he was standing up straight with Jilly sitting on his shoulders, her hands resting on top of his head.
"Don't mess up my hair!" he said and nearly tossed Jilly off of him when he reached up to check that his little mohawk was still perfect. He tucked her lower legs under his arms and struggled to regain his balance with her added weight on him. "Yeesh, Jilly, what did you have for breakfast this morning? A horse? You . . . ow ow ow ow!"
Jilly grinned and stopped pinching his ear after he stopped teasing her. "There's plenty more where that came from so I'd watch what you say about me. Now, come on . . . walk that way, I can almost reach this missile-toe."
Jackson grumbled for a moment before walking slowly closer to the doorway to the kitchen. He stopped just beneath the mistletoe sprig hanging in the doorway and tried to look up as Jilly reached for it.
"Come on, reach those stubby little arms, Jilly!" he encourage her.
"They're not stubby!"
"Yes they are, just like short-Mom's."
"Well these stubby arms are gonna smack your head like a piñata just as soon as I can get . . . this . . . missile-toe!" Jilly gave one last big stretch and was finally able to yank the mistletoe from its hook. "Got it!"
Jackson stumbled forward a few steps but quickly righted himself. "Now where?"
Jilly pointed towards the doorway between the kitchen and the other hallway where Buffy and Faith were smooching. They made their way over quietly and even managed not to fight for a few minutes so that Jilly could quietly grab the mistletoe without disturbing their parents. With a sprig of the plant in both hands, they needed to find somewhere safe to put it until they could bury it out in the snow.
"Put it in the Christmas tree!" Jackson said as he struggled to walk with Jilly on his shoulders, her added weight feeling heavier and heavier with every step.
"Good idea, they'll never find it buried in there!"
Jilly rustled the branches a little as she threw the two sprigs into the tree and then leaned forward to make sure that Buffy and Faith hadn't seen them. With the coast clear and Buffy and Faith still smooching away, they made their way to all of the other doorways they could reach, stealing the mistletoe sprigs and hiding them deep within the branches of the Christmas tree.
They were on their very last doorway – the one to the living room from the back hallway – and Jilly's arms were almost as tired from reaching up and grabbing the mistletoe as Jack's legs were from carrying her around.
"Hurry up, I need a break," Jack grunted.
"I can't feel my hands," she complained as she swatted away at the last sprig.
She finally managed to get her hand around it and gave it a quick tug. It didn't detach though, so she gave it a much stronger tug and it finally came loose. The extra bit of momentum from Jilly's falling arm sent Jack stumbling across the living room. Jilly nearly fell off of his shoulders so she panicked and wrapped her arms around his head, effectively blocking his eyes with her lower arms.
"Move your arms, Jilly, I can't see!"
"Don't drop me, don't drop me!"
They spun and swayed and Jackson nearly managed to catch his balance . . . that is, until his foot landed on a present peeking out from the bottom of the tree. Jilly flew backwards into the tree and Jackson followed closely after her, sending it tumbling to the ground with a swooshy thump.
They made a mad dash to scramble to their feet and survey the damage. They looked over the broken ornaments, the hundreds of pine needles on the ground, and the loads of presents for their Aunts and Uncles that were all in various states of disarray. There was no time to salvage any of it, they knew that much, but maybe they could run away quickly enough to remove the blame from them . . .
If only their moms weren't slayers with slayer hearing and slayer speed.
"The kids!" Buffy yelled frantically.
"My tree!" Faith yelled, falling to her knees beside the prone tree, cradling a smooshed present in her arms.
Both Buffy and Faith were now staring at the kids who were visibly panicking. Jackson's hand was slapped over his forehead as he continued to stare wide-eyed at the mess on the floor while Jilly fidgeted and whipped out the pouty lip before even knowing if they were in trouble.
"We were saving Christmas!" Jilly said excitedly.
"Why, was the tree evil?" Faith asked.
"Jack-Jack said the missile-toe was gonna make you smooch until you esploded. We were just trying to save you!"
Buffy and Faith looked at each other, blinked a few times, then burst out laughing.
"Baby, it's mistletoe, not missile-toe," Buffy explained, still laughing. "It's not gonna explode and it's not magical, it's just tradition. Anyone who stands underneath it has to have a kiss."
"Like you guys don't kiss enough already," Jackson said, trying to hide his smile when Faith grinned at him. "What? It's true."
"Maybe it is," Faith replied. "But it's the holiday season which means you little monkeys get piles of presents and I get piles of kisses without you two groaning and complaining like usual."
"I have an idea," Buffy said, kneeling next to Faith and picking up a few ornaments. "Let's clean this mess up, redecorate the tree, have some cookies, and then maybe if you two can manage that without slaying anything else, you can open up an early present. Just one!"
Jack and Jilly's faces immediately lit up and they began to crawl around the floor, picking up ornaments and debris as quickly as possible. Faith stood up and reached through the fallen tree to the trunk, then set it upright and tried to make it balance in the stand again.
Buffy started picking the ornaments and stray branches that had fallen into the kids' toy box when she suddenly stopped and smiled.
"I think I know where the mistletoe was hidden," she said.
"In the tree?" Faith asked, laughing.
"Uh-huh," Buffy replied.
She reached into the toy box again and pulled out one of Jilly's silly headbands that had two little glittery stars sticking up from the top of it on small silver springs. Grinning, she plucked off the stars – much to Jilly's huffy dismay – and affixed a piece of mistletoe to the spring.
The kids watched as Buffy put on the headband, stood up, and wrapped her arms over Faith's shoulders. The mistletoe dangled between them and before Jack or Jilly could groan with disgust, Buffy and Faith were smooching again.
"Oh great," Jack groaned quietly.
Jilly grumbled as she hung a non-broken ornament on the deformed tree. "Hannah Montana so isn't worth this."