The Night Ala Alba Saved Christmas
"Chachamaru?" Evangeline stuck her head out of her room and glanced down the stairs. "Where are you?" The girl grunted and pushed her feet into her slippers before making her way down into her living room. The robot was nowhere to be seen, but Eva knew she was nearby. The muffled noise of Chachamaru's jetpack emanated through the wall. The small girl tightened her robe and pried open the door.
Frigid wind bit at her cheeks as she peeked her head through the opening. Chachamaru hovered next to the roof's edge, systematically picking at a large knot of Christmas lights. Her hands fluttered around the snarl, slowly unraveling the string and hooking the loose length to the overhang.
"Chachamaru, what are you doing up there!-?" Eva could feel her nose starting to stuff up.
"Oh, mistress!" Chachamaru's head turned to face the vampire girl. The rest of her body continued affixing the lights to the cottage. "Good morning. Breakfast is in the kitchen. I left it sitting on the stove."
"Forget breakfast!" Eva stuck her arm out the door for the purpose of shaking her fist, but the chilled air made her immediately reconsider. "What are you doing out here?"
"Hanging Christmas lights." Chachamaru turned back to her work, gradually ascending with the slope of the roof as she hung the lights.
"I can see that." Eva had to look straight up to see Chachamaru, who had reached the apex of the roof. "I want to know why."
"We didn't decorate at all last year, and I thought that the house might look nice if we hung some lights." She halted her descent to deal with a particularly nasty snag.
"You didn't spend any of my money on that stuff did you?"
"Of course not, mistress. My own funds are entirely sufficient."
"Okay, good. Now stop messing around with those things and get in here! We have a lot to do today." She slammed the barely-open door as loudly as she could manage. Her hands were still shaking as stepped into the kitchen. Breakfast was indeed sitting on the stove. Eva wasn't really hungry, but she snatched a roll off of one of the platters.
"So what's she up to out there?"
Eva turned to see Chachazero propped up on the counter, leaning against the fridge.
"Hanging Christmas lights. I don't know why she's taking so much trouble. It's pointless."
"Wow, you're a real Grinch. Or like Evanezer Scrooge or something. Get some Christmas spirit. Or at least some eggnog."
"'Evanezer Scrooge?'" Eva ripped a hunk out of the roll with her teeth. "Since when do you give a crap about this stuff?"
"You kidding? I'm all about the holidays. I'd be out there helping if I could actually move. Hell, if I got the chance I'd pop on some rubber ears and pass myself off as an elf."
Eva poured herself a glass of orange juice.
"Somehow, I don't think that Santa would really appreciate your help. What would you do, give the action figures actual knives or something?"
"Of course not. I'd get a hold of the naughty list and spend Christmas Eve busting heads. I mean, lumps of coal? Lame. If Santa wants kids to behave, he needs to rule through fear."
Eva's response was cut off by the sound of the door slamming behind her. Chachamaru stood on the doormat, chipping bits of frost off of her joints.
"Done with your decorating?" Eva poured herself more orange juice.
"Yes, the outside lights are all hung. I just have to finish the interior."
"Good to hear that you're-" Eva choked on the juice as she registered Chachamaru's second sentence. "The interior!-? What were you planning on doing inside!-?"
"I was going to put up a Christmas tree." She kicked the snow from her feet. Eva sighed.
"We don't have time for that today!"
"No! I need you to go downstairs and get the transporter set up, remember?"
"Oh, right." The robot's eyelids sagged slightly as she began to walk towards the basement.
"You can finish messing around with the tree or whatever if we have time when we get back." Eva picked up another roll. "And make sure you're fully charged before we leave. I don't want you crapping out on me."
"Can I at least hang the stockings up?" Chachamaru gestured at the three stockings draped over the recliner in the living room.
"Go get ready for tonight!" Eva banged on the table. "We don't have all day, you know!"
"Yes, mistress." Chachamaru glanced forlornly at the fireplace, but began her descent to the basement.
"Stockings, seriously?" Eva grunted as she sat at the table.
"I could finish decorating." Chachazero offered. "Just give me some of that magic juice stuff that you got from Haruna and I'll have this place looking like one of those overdecorated suburban homes by the time you get back."
"Hell no." Eva snorted. "If I did that you'd have the house surrounded by severed heads on pikes. And the last thing I need now is the headmaster yelling at me for letting you kill the students." She leaned back and stared at the ceiling. "I have better things to waste my time on than hanging socks on my wall."
"I can't believe that Evangeline is making us train on Christmas Eve!" Asuna stomped through the snow. "When it's this cold out you're supposed to sit inside and drink hot chocolate."
"Maybe Master will let us train in her resort." Even with his magic boost, Negi was having trouble keeping up. "I mean, that's where we usually train. Or maybe that castle."
Asuna grinned widely. The possibility of visiting Eva's resort had somehow escaped her mind despite the fact that it was the most-used training area.
"Okay, maybe it won't be so bad..." She turned to look at Negi, who was floundering in a snow bank behind her. "Oh come on, Negi. After all you've been through I would think you could handle a snow bank!"
"Sorry, it's just really deep..."
Negi and Asuna turned to see an enormous white tiger barreling toward them. In an instant Negi and Asuna had staff and sword pointed at the oncoming cat. As it neared them, they noticed the straps on its back, trailing off into the whiteness. The tiger slowed, coming to a halt a short ways away. A large white sleigh glided out of the billowing snowflakes. As they examined the bizarre sight, Asuna and Negi realized that Haruna was holding the reins. Yue and Nodoka poked their heads out of the back of the sleigh.
"Would you like a ride, sensei?" Nodoka's voice was barely audible over the wind.
"Sure!" Asuna clamored into the contraption. "I'm assuming the tiger was Haruna's idea?"
"Of course." Yue banged her juice box on the inner wall of the sled. Frozen solid. "I myself think it's a little over the top."
Asuna reached over the edge to drag Negi into the sleigh.
"I could care less as long as I don't have to walk- ugh!" She grunted as Negi lost his footing and toppled awkwardly on top of her. "Get offa me!" She rolled him awkwardly into the seat next to her.
"Alright, let's go!" Haruna snapped the reins and the giant tiger lurched forward.
"Okay, is everything set up?"
"Are your power banks full?"
"Good. You may go back to hanging tinsel or whatever it was that you were doing until everyone arrives."
"Thank you, Mistress." Chachamaru bowed slightly. She lifted her stocking off of the chair where it had been hanging. Konoka had embroidered the robot's name across the top of it. Chachamaru gently hung it on one of the nails above the fireplace. On the other side of the mantle, she hung Chachazero's; normally she would have let Chachazero put it up herself, but it would probably be a while before Eva allowed her enough freedom of movement to do that.
There was a gap in the middle for Eva's stocking. Chachamaru looked at the sock in her hands as she debated whether or not she wanted to hang it. Mistress wasn't exactly a fan of all this decoration. But then again, Konoka had taken the time to embroider the stockings for all of them, and it would be a pity to not put it somewhere...
Her inner debate was interrupted by a knock on the door and muffled voices from beyond.
"Open the door, Eva! It's cold out here!"
Chachamaru left Eva's stocking on the coffee table. The girl would have to decide for herself whether to hang it or not.
The door practically sprang open as Chachamaru turned the knob, and the group poured into the room, sending cold air and snow everywhere. The robot shooed her guests away from the door and tried to close it before a snowdrift formed on the welcome mat.
Asuna stomped across the room, leaving wet, slushy footprints in her wake.
"You idiot!" She marched into the kitchen where Eva now sat, dressed in her typical gothic lolita fashion. "Why they hell are you making us train on Christams Eve! I thought you said we would have the holidays off!"
"I know, right?" Chachazero chimed in.
"Shut up." Eva threw a dinner roll at the puppet before turning back to Asuna. "Christmas Eve isn't a holiday, it's the day before a holiday."
"Oh come on! That's stupid. Everyone knows that Christmas Eve is a holiday!"
"Mistress." Chachamaru stuck her head into the kitchen. "Konoka and Setsuna have arrived. The have Anya with them. Asakura called to say that she, Sayo, and Chamo are on their way."
"Good." The short girl stood up and strode out of the kitchen, completely ignoring the redhead who was fuming behind her. "Have everybody go wait in the basement. As soon as Kaede, Chisame, and that dog boy show up, we'll be good to go."
"Hey wait a minute, I'm not done-"
"Oh hush up, Kagurazaka. If you do well this will all be over quickly. If it takes all night you'll have only yourself to blame. Now go down to the basement with everybody else."
Asuna snorted in defiance, but reluctantly shuffled out of the room. Evangeline followed after her down the narrow stairwell into the cottage's cellar.
"So can we go into the resort already?" Haruna was wringing her hands in anticipation. "It's cold down here!"
"We're not going to the resort!" Eva looked down on the group from the top of the stairs. "This is a special occasion, so I have other plans for you guys."
"What!" Yue and Nodoka were forced to latch onto Asuna's arms to prevent her from giving Eva a fist to the face. "That was the only good part of this whole freaking training regimen!" Her rant rapidly degenerated into a mess of generically angry syllables.
"Just wait here. We'll be ready to go as soon as everybody else shows up." The vampire slammed the door and began to walk towards the kitchen in hope of eating another muffin before they had to depart. Konoka, Setsuna, and Anya were loitering by the doorway, kicking snow off of their boots.
"Hello, Eva!" Konoka was way too happy for having just dragged herself through that kind of weather. "Did Chachamaru bring the stockings back?"
"Why are you making us train on Christmas Eve! You're such a grinch!" Anya stomped her foot, scattering bits of ice and frozen dirt across the floor.
"Yeah, yeah." Eva waved them towards the basement door. "Everybody else is waiting the basement. See if you can't get Kagurazaka to calm down a bit. She doesn't understand the value of practicing." She turned to glare at Anya. "And neither do you, apparently." The room seemed to dim slightly, and a chill ran through the air. Anya went silent and shuffled behind Konoka.
"Okay. I'll see if I can calm her down a little." Konoka put her hands on Anya's shoulders and directed her towards the cellar. Setunsa and Eva exchanged nods as they passed. Eva was about to head back to the kitchen when a flash of red caught her eye. A richly embroidered stocking sat on the coffee table in the middle of the room.
"So this is what Chachamaru was going on about..." She lifted the sock off the table for a closer look. Across the top edge, Konoka had embroidered "Evangeline" in bright gold thread. Eva glanced at the mantlepiece, noting the gap between Chachamaru's and Chachazero's stockings. She looked back down at the soft item in her hand... Was it really such a big deal to hang this thing up..?
Her thoughts were interrupted by yet another knock on the door. She dropped the stocking back on the table and looked up to see that Chachamaru was already answering the door. Within seconds, Kaede, Kotaro, and Asakura were all standing in the living room.
"Christmas Eve? Seriously?" Kotaro snorted. Eva just nodded towards the basement, and Chachamaru began directing the new arrivals into the basement. It was probably getting crowded down there, but there was only one person that they were still waiting on. They could just get over their personal space issues.
"Eyaah!" Askara shuddered before pulling out her neckline with her fingered and staring down the front of her shirt. "What are you doing!-?"
"Sorry." A small, white, furry head emerged. "It was getting kinda stuffy in there."
"He's right!" Another small white, but less furry head emerged. "If I wasn't already dead I would probably have suffocated!"
"Well, it's not exactly comfortable storing both of you in there." She plucked Sayo's diminutive voodoo doll from her cleavage and placed it on her shoulder. Chamo clamored out on his own, scrambling down Asakura's body, and across the floor into the kitchen. Asakura gestured in the ermine's general direction. "He has other plans."
"I figured as much." Eva muttered over her shoulder as she finally managed to get into the kitchen, where she was met with the sight of Chamo and Chachazero sitting on the counter, an open bottle of eggnog between them. She shook her head at them and picked up another muffin. Blueberry. It was halfway to her mouth when she was interrupted by another knock on the door. "Chachamaru, get that, will you?"
The only sound from the other room was more knocking.
"Chachamaru! Get the door!"
More knocking. Eva sighed. The robot must have gone to the basement with everyone else. She took a bite of the muffin anyway. More knocking. Eva unenthusiastically shoved herself to her feet. Loath as she was to actually bother, the effort of answering the door was less than the combined annoyance of the incessant knocking and the conversation being held by the ermine and the puppet, discussing the plethora of symbolism in Fight Club.
As she strode through the living room for the millionth time that day, the knocking intensified. She twisted the knob. It turned about halfway before stopping. Lock must have frozen over. Eva gave it a shake. If it weren't for the stupid seal on her powers, she could have solved the problem with a small fireball, but as it was, she'd need to get Chachamaru to use her blowtorch extension.
She turned away from the door to shout down the stairway. "Chachamaru, the lock is frozen! Get up here!"
"Yes, Mistress..." Eva could barely pick her servant's voice out of the rumble of complaining and other miscellaneous discussion. She slammed the door shut again before any of the yelling was directed toward her.
The knocking still emanated from the doorway, along with some muffled shouts. Eva tried to ignore it as she plopped herself on a chair and waited for Chachamaru. She had picked a good muffin. From the other end of the house, she could hear Chamo and Chachazero fighting over the relative merits of brandy and whiskey. And of course, there was a virtual roar of voices coming from the cellar.
She felt herself sink into the chair. How had her life come to this? Years of solitude, and how she had a gang of weirdos accosting her from every direction. And they were there at her own insistence... Maybe she was losing it...
The sound of a slamming door snapped her out of her reflections as Chachamaru emerged from the basement, and made a beeline for the door. There was brief spurt of flame from the tip of one of her fingers and the door popped open.
"EVANGELINE!" Chisame barged past Chachamaru.
"Yeah, I know, you're mad that I'm making you train on Christmas Eve." Eva stared at the ceiling and flapped her hand at the girl. "You'll get over it."
"DO YOU KNOW HOW COLD IT IS OUT THERE!-?" Chisame flailed her arms in a seemingly random direction. Her glasses seemed to be totally frosted over. "HOW HARD IS IT TO OPEN THE FREAKING DOOR!-?"
Eva put a hand to her forehead. She was already getting a headache and the training hadn't even started yet.
So, as usual, the story ended up being much longer than I anticipated and as such I'll have to add more chapters later.
I pretty much started with two ideas: Eva being a grinch as Chachamaru decks out the house, and another idea that I will not diclose at this time because it will give away later chapters. That undisclosed 2nd reason is why I had to have Ala Alba show up. That and because they're in the title, after all. Hopefully I'll be able to give Chachazero a little more dialogue before the end of this.
The story probably needs quite a bit more polishing, but I'm kinda in a rush to get this finished before Christmas, so I had to skimp on the editing a little.
I'm not sure why Eva is eating so many rolls and muffins, I just wanted a low-maintenance breakfast food.
But yeah, the actual plot will pick up in the next chapter. This is mostly setting up Eva's attitude and other background info. Now that that's been established, the next chapter will be a bit more action-y.
Also keep in mind that while I have a rough overview of the idea, for the most part I'm making this up as I go.
Blah blah please review blah blah thanks for reading blah blah Merry Christmas :)