Tex smiled as she looked out the window at the two ten-year-old children playing outside. Alex fell to the snow as a snowball hit him square in the side of the head. Tex chuckled as Alessa stood over him laughing.
"You can tell she's your child." Simmons joined her by the window. "Hey Grif, can you call the kids in? I think we're ready to start decorating the tree."
"Why don't you do it?" Grif bit off a bit more of his cookie. Simmons glared at him. "Fine, I'll go get them." He pulled himself up off the couch and moved to the doorway.
"Wow, you got him off his lazy ass." Tex smirked at Simmons. "Can I ask, why do you seem to always wear maroon?"
Simmons looked down at the maroon sweater. "I wear it because it's my favorite color. The big question is why does Grif still wear orange. He isn't that big of a fan of it." Simmons looked out the window at Grif, who was now chasing the two children, his orange sweater all the more hideous due to the reindeer on his chest. The two children ran from him and he struggled to get even close to him. "I think you're going to need to help him."
"I'll be right back." Tex set down her hot chocolate on a table and moved to the door. She opened it and stuck her head out into the cold. "Time to decorate, anyone that's not back inside in three minutes doesn't get any presents on Christmas."
The three all raced back inside. Surprisingly Grif was the first one through the door. "Damn kids are harder to get a hold of than Simmons when we're in public."
"Your kid is a bit young for you to be making those kinds of jokes around him." Tex scowled at the orange soldier.
"Hey, he doesn't understand either why Simmons is so shy in public. I swear, we got the best kid ever. He doesn't have the slightest issue with me and Simmons." Grif smiled as he watched Alex run over to the tree. "Not to mention he's adorable. He sort of looks like he could be related to me or Simmons."
Tex shook her head. "You maybe, but not Simmons. His features just don't look right for it. Come on, we have to get the tree decorated before the others arrive. If Caboose gets here and it's not decorated he'll think that Christmas isn't coming."
"I don't want a repeat of last year. Took us forever to convince him that Christmas was still happening." Grif shook his head. "Come on, kids. We've got to make the tree look good for Santa."
They spent the next three hours decorating the trees. Part way through, Alessa attacked Alex and tied him up with tinsel. It took Simmons and Grif five minutes to get him untied. They had another fight when it came time to put the angel on top. Alex wanted to put it on, but in the end Alessa won out as it was her home.
When they finished and were sure that the tree was decorated properly, the guests started to arrive. Tucker was the first to arrive with Caboose and Sister. Sarge and Donut arrived a few minutes after them.
"All right, I think I have a good idea. How about we write letters to Santa?" Simmons smiled at Alessa and Alex.
"Oh, I want to do that." Caboose jumped up and down with Donut.
"Sure, why not." Tex moved through the kitchen, grabbing some paper and pencils. She set them out on the table. Alessa and Alex sat on one side while Caboose and Donut sat on the other.
Sister moved over and sat down beside Caboose. "So what are you asking Santa for this year?"
Caboose looked up from his letter, not understanding at first. A smile spread over his face as he came to an understanding. "I'm asking Santa for a puppy."
Sister frowned. "Caboose, you know you can't have a dog."
"Yes, but Santa can do anything." Caboose looked back down at his letter. It wasn't so much a letter but a picture of a badly drawn dog.
Sister sighed. There was no way she could tell him that he was wrong. "How about you, Donut?"
"I'm asking Santa for a new pair of designer jeans. Sarge washed my last ones and ruined them." Donut frowned and looked across the table. "What are you asking for, Alex?"
"I'm asking for a bike. I'm tired of having to walk everywhere. It takes too long." Alex didn't raise his head from his letter. He had to focus on wording it right or Santa might not bring him what he wanted.
Tex walked over to stand behind Alessa. "What are you asking for, Sweetie?"
Alessa looked up at her mother and smiled. "I'm asking for my dad to come home." The room fell silent and Alessa turned back to her letter. "I think that if I word it right and don't ask for anything else then Santa will bring him home."
Tex knelt down beside her daughter. She couldn't find the words to explain to her daughter that it couldn't happen. Simmons broke in before she could address the issue, suggesting that they go caroling, which was a mistake. They got attacked by three people who had gone off their meds and a lecture from a woman about some things called 'forerunners'.
Alessa woke up on Christmas morning. She jumped out of bed and raced downstairs. She ran to the tree but stopped as she looked around. Tex joined her several minutes later. Alessa looked up at her mother, a heartbroken look on her face. "Mom, why didn't Santa bring home Dad?"
Tex sat down on the couch and patted the seat beside her. Alessa moved over and sat down beside her, curling up at her mother's side. "Honey, your father can't come home. I know it's hard to understand, and I know it's not fair, but it can't be changed."
"But Uncle Caboose said that Santa could do anything. He should be able to bring Dad home." Alessa clung to her mother's side.
Tex took a deep breath. "You can't argue with your Uncle Caboose, and the things he says are usually wrong. He's not getting that dog he asked for. It's against the rules and he can't change that and neither can Santa."
"But it's not against the rules to have Dad." The little girl started to sob into the fabric of Tex's robe.
"But it's not possible. You know that your father isn't around anymore. Not by choice but because he isn't with us anymore." Tex rubbed her daughter's back. Tex stood up and moved over to the tree, pulling out a single present. She set it in her daughter's lap. "Here, I have a feeling this present might make you feel a bit happier."
Alessa hesitated but she knew that her mother wouldn't let it go until she opened it. She tore away the bright blue paper and opened the box. Alessa pulled out a picture frame and stared down at the image. She ran a finger over the handsome face that smiled back at her. "Is this…"
"It's your father." Tex smiled as she saw the joy on her daughters face. Tex had so few actual pictures of Church, and she'd kept most of them in her room or in a box of items from before the war. It was the first actual picture that Alessa had gotten of her father. Tex wondered if it was even the first time she'd seen his face. She never went into Tex's room, so she likely wouldn't have seen the several pictures that were in there.
"He looks so nice." Alessa stared down at the image, completely in a spell.
"He really was, and he loved you very much." Tex leaned forward and kissed her daughter on the top of her head. She then went back to the tree and started to pull out presents and they spent the rest of the morning opening gifts.
When they'd finished and Tex had set to gathering up all the blue wrapping paper, because red would be a sin in their house, Alessa ran upstairs. She stood in her room for a while then finally moved to her bedside table. She set the picture up beside the one of her and her mother. She smiled as she sat down on the bed and lay down. She scooted the frame just a bit so she could be sure that when she woke up she'd be able to see both her mother's face and her father's.
Alessa sat up as something caught her eye. She reached over to the frame and turned it around. The corner of a worn piece of paper was sticking out of the back of the frame. She opened the frame and pulled out the folded paper. She then set the picture back down and opened the paper. It was a handwritten letter and a smile spread over Alessa's face as she read it.
Dear Beloved Daughter,
I know that I cannot be there with you. I wish that I could but it is not so. I want you to know that everything I do, every fight I fight, and every wound I receive, I do because I love you and I want to give you a better life. I want to keep you safe and fighting is the only way I can. I know that you will hate me for not being there, you have the right to, but I know that one day you'll forgive me and know that I regret missing those important moments. Sacrifice is a part of life, and until I have nothing left to give, I will sacrifice all I can so that you don't have to.
With all the love in the universe,
Your loving father
Church looked out the window at the gathering snow. "That's actual snow." The words mirrored the surprised look on his face. "It never snows." He glanced over his shoulder at Pyramid Head. "Why is it snowing?" The metal helmet turned toward him and he frowned. "Right, you don't speak English." He looked back out the window. His eyes became unfocused. "It must be winter. They'll be celebrating Christmas soon. I bet she has the happiest look on her face while she's opening presents." A smile slowly spread over his face. He heard Pyramid Head stand up, but Leonard ignored it.
Church just sat in the window watching the snow fall. He only turned around when he heard Pyramid Head return and walk over to him. He stared up at the rusted metal helmet and tilted his head to the side. His eyes grew wide as the monstrous butcher held something out to him. "Is that for me?" The head slowly nodded. Church reached out and took the weapon from him. He held the katana, and looked it over with wonder. He looked back up at Pyramid Head. "I feel bad. I didn't get you anything." He bit his lip and frowned. "I'll tell you what. The next time that It has us working together, I'll let you have all the best kills." Church smiled as the monstrous creature rumbled.
Sirens rang through the air and Church grinned. "Looks like it's time to open your present."
A/N: A little Christmas special for you. I hope you enjoy it and happy holidays.