I don't own these characters; Disney does. Oh, wait, there's a cornucopia of OCs in this one. I do own the following: Trin, Shin, Tatsu, Isabel, Kane, Shinichiro, and Tashawna.

3: Peace

"So, how are things going between you and Tatsu now, sunshine?" Anne inquired, currently cutting up items to make the salad.

"Everything is better, but there are still some problems. We talk a lot more now, so I know one of the problems is that she's still nervous about the family thing," Trin replied. She was concentrating on making chicken dumplings. She figured that it would be good for Christmas dinner since she knew her mother had already cooked most of the food for tonight.

"Well, I'm sure that'll come with time. It was difficult getting her to come out here?" the redhead guessed.

"It was a little difficult. It was a bit harder than with Thanksgiving. I think she views Christmas a bigger deal because of the exchange of gifts. She was very nervous about buying things for you, Dad, and the boys."

A small smile worked its way onto Trin's face as she recalled taking Tatsu shopping a couple of times. Every time Tatsu picked an item, she asked "do you think your mom/dad/brother will like this?" only about dozen times. Trin knew for a fact that everything Tatsu picked out be used and appreciated, but the mechanic was not put at ease. Tatsu seemed to think that presents made the holiday and Trin knew that was because most of Tatsu's Christmas experience came from watching TV.

Anne's forehead wrinkled a bit. "She shouldn't worry about that."

"I've told her that. She just needs to experience it a bit and I'm sure she'll adjust to things," Trin stated.

Anne nodded. "Before or after she stops tensing every time someone hugs her?"

"I'm working with her on that too. Mom, I don't think it's my place to tell you what kind of home Tatsu spent much of her life in, but needless to say, there was not a lot of hugging and affection to go around," the blond explained as best she could.

Red hair swayed as the doctor shook her head. "That's a shame. Well, your father and I will continue to work on making her feel like she's a Possible because we know at this point, she is."

Trin smiled. "Thanks so much, Mom."

A smile lit up Anne's face and then there was a little sparkle in her eyes. "So, any chance of a special Christmas proposal?" the brain surgeon asked. She had been dropping hints to Tatsu whenever she saw her that it was about time to put a ring on Trin's finger. She hated to think that she was just going to have to come out and ask Tatsu when she was going to ask Trin to marry her.

"I doubt it, Mom. I'm not going to do it because I don't want to pressure Tatsu and Tatsu seems to still be trying to settle into living in a new city with a new job…which occurs about every two weeks," the blond answered.

"She's still having trouble with employment?" Anne asked with a sigh. Talking with both of her daughters often, she was somewhat up-to-date in their lives and knew that Tatsu was not doing well in the area of employment after closing her garage in Middleton and moving in with Trin. As Trin told it, Tatsu was not used to working with a boss or with other people. She also had a bad habit of making unrequested additions to the few cars she was allowed to work on.

"Unfortunately, yes. It's starting to get discouraging to her. She thinks that she doesn't know how to handle people, which isn't true. She just happens to pick very bad locations to work in with people who don't seem to think that she can do the job. I'm doing my best to be supportive, but there's only so many times one can be fired or have to walk away from a job before it starts to deflate your ego a bit." A sigh escaped the grad student and she shook her head a little.

"I'm surprised there's no favors you or your sister can call on to help."

Gold locks swayed as Trin shook her head again. "Tatsu wants to do it on her own. I think it goes beyond her pride, but I think that sometimes Tatsu looks at us like a traditional couple."

"And, at those times, she feels like she's the man," the brain surgeon guessed.

"Yes, in a way, which means she feels like she has to take care of me. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense, but so much of how Tatsu thinks is shaped by what she sees in 'normal' society. Slowly, she's changing, but she still has a long way to go. I don't mind her looking at things that way since she's not so traditional that she'll be walking through the door and demanding supper or something crazy like that. It'll make her happy to be able to get a job and take care of me, which is good enough for me. So, I suppose there won't be any proposals until she has steady work and she can start paying for things again," Trin explained as best she could.

"I think that's a reasonable thing. Can I expect grandchildren in the next few years then?" Anne inquired with a teasing, but sly grin.

"MOM!" The blush burned her face so badly that she thought her face might ignite.

"Oh, just one or two will do," Anne added, still smiling.

"MOM!"

The doorbell saved Trin from farther embarrassment because Anne went to answer the door while James kept the guests in the living room entertained. A bright smile over took her face as she swung the door open and greeted two of her oldest friends.

"You made it earlier than you said you would!" the neurosurgeon proclaimed as she stood face-to-face with the Toriyamas.

"We miss our baby and our not-so-little nieces and nephews!" Tashawna replied as she grabbed Anne into a tight hug. The pair embraced as if it had been a hundred years since they last saw each other.

"They're going to be so happy to see you. Hey, I'm happy to see you," Anne declared, which was evident in how tightly she was holding her friend.

"I know what you mean," Tashawna stated, a bright smile spread across her caramel face.

Once they were done hugging, Tashawna rushed into the house leaving Shinichiro behind to greet Anne on his own. He smiled at her and grabbed her into tight hug with his thick arms, which she returned with a groan. Smiling, he let her go and she scolded him for playing around so much. He stepped in and the door was shut behind him. He found his way to the living room, noticing that it was much more crowded than usual.

"There better be enough food for everybody," Shinichiro remarked. "But, if push comes to shove Shin, you're eating Trin," he added with a delighted grin.

"Gross, poppa! I know where she's been, after all!" Shin joked, making a twisted face in the direction of Tatsu.

"Then you know not to go near her," Tatsu replied, shaking her fist at him.

Shinichiro laughed. "Tatsu, it's always a delight to have you around to crack this boy's skull," he commented, slapping his son on the back rather roughly.

After tapping his son on the back, Shinichiro went and shook hands with Tatsu. He was the only one that respected the fact that she was not comfortable with hugging. Everyone else was just intent on getting her used to the open affection exchanged by the family. He just wanted to make sure he did not do anything that frightened her off, knowing that Trin had life plans for Tatsu.

Shinichiro then turned his attention to the surprise guests. "Imagine this, Isabel Go, attending the same family holiday gathering as me. The planets must be aligned in some special formation," he said with a mischievous a sparkle in his eyes. The stern hand on his wife on his shoulder told him that his mischief better not go any further than some fun banter or he was going to be in a lot of trouble.

"What are the odds that my daughter would somehow connect herself to your family," Isabel replied, sounding rather bored. Kane laughed a little at the exchange.

"I didn't think anything of that. I just think it's a bit weird for you to show up, but then again, your family is just so…family-orientated. It's a little creepy," he taunted her, grinning widely as he spoke.

Isabel looked bored and rubbed her knuckles on her chest before examining her fingernails. "Yes, we can't all be adopted by ninja schools and forced into doing their bidding by some of the worse mind control known to mankind," she countered drolly.

"Isn't that what family is?" Shin quipped, earning a smile from Isabel and outright laugh from his father. The clever response put a temporary end to the teasing.

"Have you met my husband, Kane Go?" Isabel asked Shinichiro, motioning to the auburn-haired man next to her, who was having a very animated conversation with Kim.

"I've heard a lot about him. So many people are still wondering how you managed to find someone to stay married to you. What about you? Have you met my wife, Tashawna Toriyama?" Shinichiro countered, putting his arm around his slender, mocha-skinned wife.

"I have not had the pleasure," Isabel replied, leaning forward to shake Tashawna's hand. "You must be a very strong woman to be able to stomach Shinichiro and the fact that he cloned himself with your son," she teased.

"You have no idea," Tashawna sighed, but smiled.

"I might. Besides my little firefly over there, I have four sons and they all have some aspects of their father in them," Isabel stated, grabbing onto her husband's hand. He smiled proudly.

"Will you stop calling me that!" Shego huffed, throwing her hands up in frustration at her mother's repeated use that silly pet name for her.

Tashawna and Shinichiro were able to join in with the activity in the living room with no problem, catching up on everyone's lives. Shego looked particularly grumpy, but when Kim smiled at her, she could not fight off a smile back. Once she looked a bit more appropriate for the holiday, Kim turned her attention back to Kane, who was telling just about every funny childhood 'Shona story that he could think of. Shego had not made any moves to stop him; James had already told her every funny and crazy story from Kim's childhood.

Soon the doorbell rang again and Kim was going to get it, but her father rushed to the door before her, specifically telling her to stay put. She thought it was strange, but she ignored it. It was possible that he just wanted her to take it easy while she was home; the idea was not unheard of, after all.

James grinned as he got to the door. Swinging it open, knowing who was already there, he engulfed the visitor in a hug. She groaned as he held her tightly to his chest. She never would have guessed he was so strong.

"Uncle James…you're crushing me…" Joss breathed out the complaint.

"Oh, I can't believe you actually came!" James proclaimed and then in a much lower voice, he continued on. "Your cousins are going to be so happy to see you."

"I hope so," Joss replied as he released her. She adjusted the strap of her bag on her shoulder.

James ushered his niece in quickly and shut the door behind her. For a moment, he paused and took a good look at her. She had gotten taller since had last laid eyes on her, but he doubted she would look much different to anyone else since his daughters and wife had seen her over the summer. There was a delighted glint in her eyes that brought a smile to his face. It was easy to tell that she was eager to be there and he knew why. He was about to lead her to the living room, but thought the better of it. He stopped her from going deeper in the house.

"Wait here," he implored her and rushed off before she could answer. He marched into the living room, going right to Kim. "Excuse me, Kane, please, let me borrow Kim for a moment. I need to give her and her sister an early Christmas gift," he explained.

"Oh, by all means. I'll just monopolize another lovely lady around here," Kane remarked with a good-natured grin. He turned his attention to anyone in the room whose ear he could talk off.

James did not think anything of the remark, mostly because he was so excited. He took Kim by the hand and pulled her into the kitchen to get Trin. The blond did not get a chance to inquire what was going on before James' grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the kitchen. Trin looked at Kim, wanting an explanation. All Kim offered was a perplexed expression and a shrug. They found out why their father was so excited when they got to the small foyer of the house.

"Joss!" Kim grinned and rushed their younger cousin, grabbing her into a hug. They had not seen Joss since August when she had lived with them. While it had been a rough start, by the time Joss left, they were all very close. So much so that Joss called them every couple of days, wanting advice, help with her homework, or to just talk. Plus, there were the constant instant messages or texts or other forms of communication. She had done a complete 180 in her feelings for Trin and her feelings for Kim seemed to have returned to as they were before finding out Kim was a lesbian.

"I'm surprised your mother let you loose in this state, let alone come to our house and on Christmas no less," Trin commented dryly, calling attention to herself. Joss let go of Kim in order to embrace the blond. Trin could not help smiling, remembering not too long ago, Joss would not come within ten feet of her, let alone think to hug her. Now, Joss embraced her without thought, as if they had been close forever.

"My mom was very against this, but my dad said it was all right. He bought the ticket and everything. He even drove me to the airport and smiled when I left," Joss explained, sounding both excited and tearful. "I felt almost guilty leaving him alone." Her eyes drifted to the floor for a moment, but a gentle hand petting the back of her head got her to look at her blond cousin again.

"It's all right. I'm sure Uncle Slim wanted to give you this gift and he would want you to enjoy it," Trin replied in a surprisingly compassionate voice. In the past, such a tone would have frightened Joss, but now that she knew Trin pretty well, she understood that Trin actually had emotions and would express them toward people that she cared about.

"I know, I know. Oh, my dad gave him this to give to you and Kim," Joss said, pulling back and shifting her backpack. She went into the front pocket and pulled out a card envelope.

"What is this?" Trin asked as she accepted it. She shifted to the side a little to share the thin package with Kim.

A shrug was her response. "I dunno. My dad sealed it before he gave it to me. All he said was make sure Shorty and Kimmie get this."

Trin opened it and the sisters read through it. A frown slid onto Trin's pale face while Kim just lightheartedly chuckled. The frown did not seem very genuine, so Joss figured the message in the card was nice, but probably referred to Trin as "Shorty" through out the whole thing.

"Well, Joss, it seems your father has commanded us to show you a good time, so I feel obligated to do so," the blond declared, reaching out and putting a hand on Joss' bicep. The younger woman smiled from the contact.

"Come on, Joss, we're all in the living room. You get to meet Shego's parents. They're great! Her father is really funny… He actually reminds me of Ron a little bit. Her mother is a famous martial artist too," Kim informed her cousin, pulling the younger woman into the living room.

The rancher girl did not object, smiling all the way into the living room. There was a flurry of activity going on in there with everyone talking to someone…except for Tatsu, who was curled up in a corner. Joss was not surprised by that, but was not put off by it either. Tatsu was the first person she went to after she was introduced to those that did not know her.

"You still be all grumpy?" Joss asked the mechanic as she sat down next to the older woman.

"Not grumpy. Just…watching," Tatsu answered. She felt like she watched everyone and the way they acted, she would be able to figure out how she should act and then maybe, just maybe, she would join in.

"Just watching what? This ain't TV, you know," Joss pointed out with a grin.

Tatsu nodded and there was a ghost of a smile playing on her lips. "It helps, though," she informed the younger woman.

"Helps with what? You need to just jump on in. That's what Kim would do," Joss proclaimed.

"I know. I don't do that, though. I need to…just be sure…"

"There's nothing to be sure of, Tatsu. You should get up and talk to everybody. That's what a family get-together is all about. What do you need to be sure of anyway?" the teen asked curiously.

Tatsu's mouth curled up to the side and she scratched her cheek. "I just…wanna know how to talk to everybody…" she answered. Well, it was something like that, she figured. She was not exactly certain what she needed to be sure of.

"You wanna know how to talk to everybody? You just go right into the conversation. Watch," Joss declared and she got up.

Joss dived right into the conversation that was taking place to show Tatsu how it was done. Turning around, Joss engaged Jim and Tim in some talking, going on about school and everything that teenagers talk about. She glanced over at Tatsu every now and then, trying to urge her into things. Tatsu remained where she was, watching Joss and everyone else that was in the room.

Kim had gone back to talking to Kane, but she noticed that Shego looked miserable. Excusing herself again, Kim pulled Shego away from the group, going to talk on the stairs. Shego went willingly, even though she continued to look displeased for some reason.

"Sweetheart, what's the problem?" Kim asked curiously, leaning her body into the older woman's to show sympathy and to coax an explanation out of her girlfriend. She was aware that Shego enjoyed getting sympathy, even over the smallest things.

"Trin and Shin are going to hammer me when we get back home after this," Shego admitted in a grumble, putting her arms around the petite redhead.

The answer caused Kim's brow to wrinkle. "Is that all? Baby, parents are off-limits with those two. You could act completely pathetic when it comes to your parents and those two won't say a word. Shin is total baby with his mother and you know how Trin is with our parents. You never make fun of her," the hero pointed out.

Shego sighed and shook her head. "Yeah…something about making fun of her about your parents just seemed…I dunno, wrong and hurtful."

A small smile graced Kim's face. "I'm glad you were somewhat considerate of my sister for once. Trust me, Shego, Trin and Shin won't use anything you do with your parents or what they say against you…except calling you Sheshona. Shin looked like his eyes were going to fall out when he heard that was your given name," she commented with a light laugh.

Emerald eyes stared down at Kim imploring her to be right about things. "You sure? The last thing I want is for your sister to go around calling me 'firefly' or some other bullshit. I don't mind Sheshona. I mean, I was called that name by damn near everyone that knew me for the first fifteen years of my life, so that's nothing."

"I promise, Shego. I'll tell Trin about the firefly thing because she might not consider nicknames off-limits. But, if she does call you that, just call her sunshine like you know you will anyway and move on," Kim stated.

"You make a point, Princess," Shego replied with a wicked grin spreading across her face like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

"Only call her that if she calls you firefly. She only lets our parents call her that and they only do it when they're trying to cheer her up now, so you can't go crazy with it," Kim warned, shaking her index finger at her trouble-making girlfriend.

"Okay, okay, okay!" Shego held up her hands in surrender before putting them back around Kim's waist. They stood there for a moment. "You like my dad?" she asked curiously.

"He's a great guy. He's also either prone to exaggeration or you were a very crazy kid," Kim answered with a playful smile.

"It could be a little of both," Shego said with a laugh.

The pair retreated back to the living room, finding that Trin and Anne were sitting in with everyone now too. Trin made herself comfortable against Tatsu, who was still sitting on the floor in the corner. Tashawna was close by, speaking with Trin and trying to get Tatsu to open up some.

"So, tell me about yourself. You treating my niece well?" Tashawna asked with a teasing smile.

"Trying…" Tatsu mumbled. Tashawna was already aware that Tatsu was a mumbler no matter whom she was talking to or what the answer was.

"That's good. Trin was telling me you're a mechanic," Tashawna said and Tatsu nodded, not offering anything else as a response. Tashawna chuckled a bit and then looked at the blond. "She's a bashful one still."

"She's still nervous around everybody," Trin replied, caressing Tatsu's arm with the hope that it would get her to calm down and try to be engaging, if only a little.

Tashawna pouted a bit. "Tatsu, when are you going to just accept that you're stuck with this crazy family? We're here to stay, so you might as well tell us a little more about yourself. I'd like to say I had one in-depth conversation with you once before I die, Tatsu."

"Sorry…" Tatsu scratched her head. "I'm not good at small talk."

"All you have to do is answer the questions I ask if you feel comfortable with it. You might even be able to ask me some if you're brave enough. Remember, I know a lot of embarrassing stories about Trin," Tashawna commented with a sly grin.

"I don't like the sound of that," Trin muttered, glancing away.

For a moment, tropical blue eyes drifted to Kim, noting the animated discussion she and Kane were still having. Isabel seemed to be in on it, but Kane and Kim were doing most of the moving. Trin wondered if she should move over there and just find out what they were talking about, if only to ignore her aunt telling Tatsu all of her crazy childhood tales. As she shifted her attention, she found out unsurprisingly that Shego's childhood was far from normal as well.

"So, eventually we found what happened was that Shona had somehow crawled into the dyer and was so small that she was buried underneath all of the clothes," Kane finished his explanation, his hands going along with his words.

"What he fails to tell you is that he was supposed to be keeping an eye on her," Isabel added drolly, cutting her husband a mock glare.

"Seems like Shego had plenty of adventures before she could barely walk," Kim commented with a smile.

"I get the feeling you were the same way," Isabel said. Kim and Shego were a little too similar for Kim to have been a normal child.

"She was," James groaned and Anne just covered her face with her hand, shaking her head in a weary manner. Kim's mouth dropped open, incredulous that her parents would say such a thing about her.

"Oh, don't look like that. We could take our eyes off of you for one second and next thing you, you're diving off the roof," Anne said.

"We had to remove our pool from the backyard thanks to her and that one," James added in, pointing at Shin, so they knew who "that one" was. Shin, knowing he was being talked about, smiled big and proud, even though he doubted he was being complimented.

"Oh, she had help in the matter," Kane commented, throwing Shin a "thumbs' up" and getting plenty of disapproving headshakes at that one. The disapproval did not seem to faze Kane at all. "Sheshona had her big brother," he added with a happy smile.

"We should start touring the country and just tell families to never have more than two children," Isabel joked.

"Please, Bella, you baby our kids so much, you know you wouldn't know what to do with yourself if we only had two children," Kane teased, patting her thigh.

Isabel smiled softly. "He's right," she admitted.

"We wouldn't trade our four for the world either…no matter how many times they blow the garage up," Anne quipped and then she cast her husband a glance. "With their father's help."

"Oh, your one of those type of fathers too? Way to get in trouble," Kane grinned, moving to hit James on the back. The rocket scientist could only smile, even though he did try to contrite for just a second.

The crew continued to enjoy each other's company. Eventually, Shin, the twins, Kane, and Tatsu went back to playing video games. Tatsu was playing because she knew that Trin wanted her to interact with everyone and she knew that she had to. This was her family, Tatsu told herself. She needed to get comfortable with everyone.

"We need to play soccer!" Jim declared loudly, for no reason at all.

To the dismay of everyone else, someone broke out the motion control and all hell broke loose with all players diving all over the living room. Whoever was not playing the game eased out of the room to avoid serious injury. The doctors Possible hoped that the living room would survive.

Kim, Trin, Shego, and Joss vanished upstairs while the parents all made themselves comfortable in the kitchen. Anne started heating up the food, so that they would be able to eat dinner at a reasonable hour. They all came back together when the food was ready to be served.

It was clear that they would not all be able to fit at the table, so they decided on a picnic-like setting in the living room. The food and drinks were set out on the dining room table and everyone made their plates (or had a mate make it for them). Once everyone was loaded up on what they wanted, they settled into spaces and merry discourse continued on. As the Possible family experienced this, all they could do was smile, knowing that their family had grown again. Isabel and Kane knew this too and it only pleased them.

"Wow, Anne, you cook a hell of a meal," Kane commented, patting his belly. He could not believe he had eaten four servings, but damn it, it was so good! Isabel and Shego could believe he had eaten four servings; he was greedy.

"I second that!" Shinichiro said and then turned his attention to his wife. "You think you could roll me home?"

"I'll leave you here to sleep on the floor," Tashawna informed him, leaning against him.

"To hell with it," he decided and fell out. Tashawna yelped as she fell with him.

"I hope you all have room for dessert. There are pies and some cake," Anne informed everyone.

Even though most thought that they did not have room, they had dessert anyway. After that, it was silently decided to start filing out for the day. Anne made sure the Toriyamas left with food, even though they were coming back tomorrow to open gifts and have more food. She also made sure Isabel and Kane left with food and let them know when gifts would be open if they wanted to be at the house for that. They were also told what time dinner would be tomorrow—Christmas day.

With company gone and bellies full, everyone else decided to remain huddled in the living room. They watched the movie "A Christmas Story" twice before calling it a night. Anne showed Joss to a guestroom and also distracted James, so he would not notice Shego going to Kim's room or Tatsu going to Trin's room. Sure, he seemed fine with the arrangement, but she was sure it would be best if he did not have to see the couples going into the room.

"Joss, are you all right?" Anne asked, checking in on her niece once more before retiring for the night herself.

"I'm fine. Thanks for everything," Joss answered, crawling into bed now that she was in her pajamas.

"Thanks for coming, Joss. It means a lot to your cousins."

A smile worked its way onto Joss' face. "It means a lot to me too, Aunt Anne. You were really right about Trin. She's great and I'm happy she likes me. I really glad me and Kim are okay again too. And I forgot how much I love hanging out with Jim and Tim."

"We're happy to have you, Joss. Come by anytime and I'm sure you know you can go see the girls whenever you want too."

Joss nodded. "I know, but I just want to thank you because you're the one that talked some sense into me."

Anne smiled. "I like to think that you already had the sense. I just needed to remind you of that."

"I don't know about that, but I'm glad you talked to me. Now, you need to go talk to Tatsu because that girl is just about the most anti-social thing I ever did see," Joss commented, laughing a bit.

"Trust me, I am working on her. She's a little more delicate than you, though, so I have to be careful with what I do. Your uncle and cousins are helping out. We'll work her out of her shell soon enough," Anne promised.

"That's good. She makes Trin happy, so she needs to keep that up. I never would've guessed that Shego was the better girlfriend between the two of them," Joss remarked, earning a laugh from aunt.

"Not better, just a little more experienced. Don't worry about them. Kim and Trin have their girlfriends under control. Now, get some sleep because there are gifts down there with your name on them too, so we need you up and alert in the morning," Anne said.

"'Night."

"Good night."

-8-8-8-8-8-

Christmas morning found the Possible family (plus two) and the Toriyama family gathered in the Possible living room. James was passing out gifts for everyone to open. Joss was surprised to find there were some waiting for her, even though Anne told her last night that there would be presents for her. Apparently, almost everyone present had mailed her a gift, only for her father to forward them to James' house. Shego and Tatsu were surprised that they had gifts waiting too.

"Shego, your parents aren't coming?" Anne asked curiously.

"No, they probably won't show up until dinner. We actually don't celebrate Christmas," Shego replied, glancing away and there seemed to be a small, sheepish blush staining her cheeks.

"No?" James said with a perplexed expression. Of course, he was aware that there were plenty of people in the world that did not celebrate Christmas, but it was still always a shock to him when he met those people face to face. Christmas was such a great holiday for him that he wished he could share the joy with everyone.

"No, we don't really follow any religion and growing up my parents sort of spoiled us, so they didn't need a holiday to buy us a bunch of stuff," she explained with a shrug. She and her brothers never got the big deal about Christmas. Their parents never needed an excuse to buy them gifts nor did they need an excuse to have a family get-together. All either of those took was a word from Isabel.

There were nods and that was accepted. "I didn't celebrate Christmas either until I married this one," Shinichiro commented, motioning to his wife. "I didn't know until the moment I was freezing my ass off buying an overgrown pine tree that she was the one in charge!" he joked.

Tashawna smiled, a sly expression. "Trust me, he knew way before then," she remarked. Shinichiro wisely laughed and then embraced his wife around the waist.

Everyone turned their attention to their gifts. Shin was the first to show off as he discovered that his father gave him a new katana. He jumped up and immediately started moving with the sword, doing a series of katas.

"Shrew, you're going down the next time you draw that butter knife you call a sword on me!" Shin declared with a happy grin. They were not surprised when he did a little dance on his tiptoes and squealed with delight.

"Oh really?" Trin inquired as she held up her own new blade with a wonderfully pink scabbard protecting the polished metal.

Shin's face dropped instantly. "Poppa!" he whined, throwing his hands up in defeat. How the hell was he supposed to teach her a lesson if she got the same cool gift as he did!

"What? You know I'm not that creative at gift giving!" Shinichiro defended himself. Seriously, all of the fighters in their group got the same gift from him because he thought they would all like a new weapon. For the ladies, he got them all bracelets. For the twins and James, he got them models of space ships. He was just not that good when it came to buying gifts. He did pride himself on knowing what everyone was interested in, though.

"I think I'll put this one display in the living room, Uncle Shinichiro. This one is really nice," Kim said, running her thumb down the short sword that she received. It was not her first sword and she doubted it would be her last. She had them all in a case back at her apartment in the spare room.

"You got good taste, old man," Shego remarked, enjoying her own sword, which had a black blade. Shin's father might not be creative when it came to variety, but it was clear that he knew what he was doing in customizing the weapons.

"I hope you can use that because you're going to need it if you call me old man again," Shinichiro playfully threatened her, shaking his fist in her direction.

"There will be swordplay today!" Shin proclaimed, pointing to his weapon at Trin. The blond did not seem to notice, moving onto another gift. Kim chuckled as Shin pouted from being ignored.

Eventually, Shin gave up and went back to opening gifts like everyone else. The scene was controlled chaos, but eventually someone would open a gift that paused everyone. The first one was Tatsu, who opened up a jewelry box. It was too big to be a ring, but everyone did wonder what was inside.

"Wow…" Tatsu muttered as she freed a charm bracelet from box. Immediately, she turned to her lover. "It's so pretty…" The bracelet was platinum with jade charms on it, all shaped like different types of cars and motorcycles.

Trin smiled. "Not as pretty as you, baby," she replied. "Want me to put it on for you?"

"Yes, please," Tatsu answered, sounding almost childlike.

The blond continued smiling as she took the bracelet to put it on her beloved. She then turned her attention to Kim. "I guess all ladies do love jewelry," the elder sister said.

"I hope you're right," Kim replied, eyes trailing over to a small gift that was sitting at the top of her lover's pile of presents.

Shego eventually reached for and opened the curious gift that Kim had looked at for a moment. A small, black velvet box got everyone's attention because that one looked like it could hold a ring. Eyes went to Kim, who was too busy staring at Shego to notice that all eyes were on her. Shego noted the scrutiny and teased everyone by opening the box ever so slowly.

Shego gasped and dropped all pretense when she saw what was in the box. "Oh, my god, Princess, this is beautiful," she commented, pulling out a platinum necklace with an amethyst teardrop in the center of a platinum heart pendent.

There was almost a collective sigh of relief when everyone saw that it was chain and not another, more significant piece of jewelry. There seemed to be a silent consensus that Kim was not old enough to get married. She would have to finish school first and if she did not, Trin would blame Shego for it and they would have a problem.

Kim quickly connected the necklace and let it fall against Shego's neck. They both smiled as Shego lightly fingered the new piece of jewelry that she planned to never take off. Shego then found herself blushing as Kim's placed a gentle kiss to her lips in front of everyone. She never expected even a simple display like that in front of Kim's family! She was dumbstruck.

Nothing else was as dramatic as that moment. Once all of the gifts were open and the clean up was finished, James grabbed hold of Tatsu for a moment. He pulled her away from the group, going to speak privately by the stairs.

"Is there something wrong, sir?" Tatsu asked, eyes focused on the floor.

"Several actually. One, I've told you time and time again to call me James. Two, you always act like I'm going to bite your head off when I want to talk to you. Three, you still haven't proposed to Trin!" His voice was low, but the excitement was there.

"Was I supposed to?" she inquired curiously, dragging her eyes up to meet his face ever so slowly.

"We were hoping. A Christmas proposal would be very romantic and you've been with for four years now," he pointed out.

"I know…" Blue eyes looked away and she bounced on her heels for a moment.

"I'm not trying to pressure you or anything, Tatsu. I want to help," he assured her, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. To both of their surprise, it helped calm her down. She was able to maintain eye contact after that.

"I know. I really do know. I appreciate you and…Anne…trying to gimme the push in the right direction. I just can't now…" she mumbled, trying her head and looking a bit distressed.

"Why not?" he asked, concern laced in his tone and expression. "Anything I could assist you with?" he begged to know. He would do anything for her and he wished that she would believe that. "I'm here for you, Tatsu, just as much as I am for Trin, Kim, and Shego. I'm here, so is there anything I could assist you with?"

"No. It's just that right now I'm not in a good place to take care of Trin. I lose jobs so easily and I pretty much live off of her. I couldn't ask her for a commitment while she's pretty much supporting me in everything I do. Hell, if I bought her a ring now it would be with her money," Tatsu explained. Yes, she had savings from when she had her own garage, but she was using that money to pay whatever bills she could afford at the apartment. She would not be able to buy her beloved a decent ring until she had regular money flowing in.

James nodded; that was probably the most he had ever heard Tatsu speak at once to someone other than Trin. It only added to the distress that he could see creasing her forehead and putting worry lines under her eyes. He smiled a bit and patted her on the shoulder.

"You're a good person, Tatsu. I'm glad Trin found you," he said and his words surprisingly got a smile out of the mechanic. He hoped that meant he got through to her and she would start opening herself up more, be it to him or the rest of the family. He just wanted her to know that she belonged.

Eventually, dinnertime rolled around. Isabel and Kane returned to feast with the family. Ron also came by with Yori in tow. Yori practically fainted when she met Isabel, having been groomed to cheer the woman on when Isabel was defeating ninjas at Yori's school. Thanks to Shin and Trin, Yori had never figured out that she was supposed to dislike Isabel and ended up turning into quite the fan-girl.

Just as it had the night before, conversation flowed easily between everyone in the house. Ron fit right in, especially with Kane, while Yori needed a little coaxing. Amazingly enough, Joss was the one to try and bring Yori out of her shell. Joss basically just stood with Yori and talked her ear off until Yori started talking back.

"I'm proud of you, Joss," Kim said, whispering the words while standing next to Joss. Joss only smiled.

"Hey, everybody! We have a surprise outside for everyone!" Jim and Tim announced.

James and Anne looked at each other, feeling a familiar dread. They then looked at Trin and Shin, who both shrugged, as if they had no clue what was going on. Sighing, the doctors walked outside with everyone else and wondered if they should just put 911 on hold to see what surprise their boys had cooked up.

"Okay, everyone, this surprise is brought to you by us obviously, but wouldn't have been possible without the support—and money—of Shin, Trin, Tatsu, and Shego. Thank you guys for the best gifts!" the twins announced. Not a surprise in the least, the twins had a plethora of rockets lined up in the backyard.

"When did they even have time to put this together?" Kim wondered aloud.

"They dragged Tatsu out here while you were busy kicking Shin's ass in that snowboarding video game," Shego answered. Shin had gotten several new video games for Christmas had to play them all that day, dragging any and everyone to play with him.

The rockets were lined up on a scaffold that looked shockingly sturdy for something the twin's made, but then again, that was where Tatsu came in. Fuses were lit, the rockets blazed off into the air, and exploded in a delight of red and green lights. The sky was on fire with the words "Merry Christmas to all and peace on Earth!" The couples in the group all held each other as they stared at the enlightening marvel.

"It's beautiful…" Anne muttered.

"You're beautiful," James whispered to her. "Actually, our family is beautiful and this holiday was beautiful."

Everyone silently agreed with those sentiments. All eyes stayed on the fireworks before they began turning to each other, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and praying to be able to have another family gathering with all of them there. Because, as James said, it was beautiful.

-8-8-8-8-

The end.

I hope you were all happy to with short glimpse back into the Pariah universe. Hopefully there will be more to come from this universe. Happy Holidays and goodwill toward all!