Just a quick, Christmas-y oneshot I decided to write on a whim! Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: Only the names of some of the characters are mine, but the actual characters technically aren't. Everything else belongs to 2K/Irrational Games.
WARNING: There are BioShock 1 spoilers throughout this story.
December 25th, 1960
A small hand reached out from underneath the sheets as it grabbed the alarm clock on the nightstand and quickly switched it off. The hand was soon followed by a little girl around six years old as she yawned and stretched her arms over her head.
It was six o'clock in the morning, but that didn't stop her from excitedly leaping out of bed and dashing across the hallway to his room. After knocking on the wooden door and not getting a response at first, she frowned for a second, but then smiled again as another idea entered her head.
Giggling to herself, she sprinted around the whole second floor of her average-sized house in Mount Kisco, New York, knocking on four other doors in rapid succession. One by one, they opened, revealing four other girls around the same age, all yawning and wiping the sleep out of their eyes.
"Wake up, everybody!" the first Little Sister said excitedly, "It's Christmas!"
One of the other brunette seven-year-olds, Kathy, flexed her fingers as she smiled sleepily. "Already?" she asked, "That's why you got us up so early, Ginny?"
The first Little Sister, a tiny brunette, round-faced girl named Virginia, nodded proudly. "Uh huh!" she retorted, "I tried waking up Mr. B, but I didn't want to go in there alone."
Kathy giggled. "I see," she said, "You want us all to wake him up at the same time?"
"Yeah!" another blond, six-year-old Little Sister, Janet, piped up in an excited tone of voice, "Let's wake him up!"
"Shh!" Ginny shushed her, raising a small finger to her lips, "We have to be quiet so he doesn't hear us."
"Oh," Janet replied, giggling again.
"Come on!" Ginny whispered, leading Janet, Kathy, another six-year-old blonde named Theresa, and a five-year-old redhead named Lynn into the room where "Mr. B" was sleeping. Kathy was a few inches taller than the others, so she reached up, turned the knob, and slowly opened the door in time to catch "Mr. B" snoring as he flipped over onto his side. Lynn giggled.
"He sounds funny when he snores," she laughed, covering her mouth with her hand. Ginny giggled in agreement before she noticed that "Mr. B" was moving again.
"Hide!" she whispered, quickly throwing herself down on the ground as the other Little Sisters did the same. They waited for "Mr. B" to stop moving before they carried out the final part of their plan.
"All right," Ginny told the other girls, "On three, we'll jump on the bed. One…two…three!"
Suddenly, all five of them jumped up and began crawling all over the sheets, tossing them back as they bounced up and down excitedly.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. B!" they all shouted.
With that, "Mr. B", Jack Ryan, finally opened his eyes as he sat up in bed and took in all five of the Little Sisters surrounding him. Despite the fact that he was feeling tired, he couldn't help but laugh along with the girls.
"You all had this planned, didn't you?" he chuckled, wincing a little bit at the sound of his altered voice, though the Sisters didn't seem to mind.
"Sure did!" Ginny cried, clapping her hands, "Let's go, Mr. B! I want to see if Santa brought me anything!"
"Have you been a good girl this year?" Jack asked, wagging his finger.
"Yes, Mr. Bubbles! I have!"
"We all have!" Janet added.
Jack laughed again. "Good," he said, "Why don't you all go downstairs? I'll meet you there." Before he could move an inch, the Little Sisters were already rushing out of the room, talking excitedly as they returned to their own bedrooms, threw on their bathrobes and slippers, and raced downstairs. Once the room was silent again, Jack stretched his legs as he climbed out of bed, catching sight of the tattoos on his wrists. He instantly remembered where he and the Little Sisters had come from four months ago. The place he hoped to never have to see again.
Jack couldn't help but scoff to himself; his first real memories had been of that once beautiful underwater city, ruined by the greed of Frank Fontaine and the hypocritical ways of Andrew Ryan.
Andrew Ryan, he thought bitterly, My father.
When Jack had discovered that his previous existence growing up on a farm somewhere in Kansas was all a lie, he had been devastated. He had always held the concept of family close to his heart, and Ryan and Fontaine had wrecked it for him. Fontaine had even taunted him a few times in an attempt to break him, to make him not want to save Brigid Tenenbaum and the Little Sisters, who he considered to be more of a family than his own biological father.
"You think you're some kind of hero?" Fontaine had asked him at one point when he was trying to find the Lot 192 in Apollo Square in order to cure Code Yellow, "I ordered you up from Suchong like a Chinese dinner. A little from Column A, and a little from Column B. What do you plan on going back to? Your fake family? Your phony dreams? Putting you out of your misery will be the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you."
Jack shook his head, returning to the present for a second as he spotted some Christmas drawings the Little Sisters had made in an attempt to prepare for the holiday. He smiled as he remembered the day they had presented them to him.
"For you, Mr. B," they told him, handing him the drawings and then kissing him on the cheek.
"T-thank you," he had gasped, not knowing what to say at first to this kind gesture. These girls were sweethearts.
Jack pulled on his slippers and crossed over into the bathroom across from his bedroom, throwing on his own bathrobe as he splashed some water on his face. He paused to look at himself in the mirror as he took in his brown eyes and brown hair. Hell, he even looked like a clone of Ryan. No traces of his mother, Jasmine Jolene, anywhere on his face.
"Where are you gonna go? Your life? Your family? They're a fairytale, kid. No more real than something you read about in the Saturday evening post. Poor bastard. A motherless freak whipped up in a half-baked science experiment."
At that moment, in the library in Point Prometheus, Jack Ryan had known exactly what he was going to do. He was going to leave Rapture and take the Little Sisters with him. They had helped him throughout his entire journey down there; it was time to repay them.
The minute Fontaine had turned the tides against him and sent a wave of security bots after him, Kathy and Ginny had been the ones to guide him to Tenenbaum's safe house in Olympus Heights. Lynn was the Little Sister that had helped him open the door to get to Fontaine. And they all had been the ones to finally overpower the power-hungry monster and drain him of the last of his ADAM.
They were his family now, and Jack Ryan wouldn't give them up for anything.
"He was just jealous, Mr. Bubbles," Kathy had reasoned one day when she had caught him feeling depressed over the events that had taken place down there.
Jack had to give the Little Sisters credit; they were a lot more perceptive than the rest of the Rapturians had thought. Although Jack wasn't sure jealousy was Fontaine's issue, he knew there was something the mobster didn't like about their new family.
"…Maybe one day, I'll get me a real family. They play well with the suckers."
Jack scoffed again. It was ironic in a way; he was the one with a real family now, not Fontaine.
And it made him feel good.
Jack made his way downstairs, where stockings hung on the walls and a large Christmas tree stood tall and proud in the middle of the living room. The fireplace blazed, and Lynn and Janet sat close to it, warming their hands as Ginny, Theresa, and Kathy explored all the presents that were under the tree. Before he sat down, Jack turned on the lights on the Christmas tree and played a record that had Christmas carols on it.
"Look, Mr. B!" Theresa cried excitedly, "Santa brought me something! He brought me a present!"
When the six of them plus Tenenbaum had first arrived on the surface, they had gone through a lot to adjust to living somewhere other than under the ocean (or in Jack and Tenenbaum's case, readjust). Simple concepts such as going to the park and holidays had escaped the Little Sisters. This was the first Christmas for them on the surface, and Jack intended to make it special for them, including letting them believe in Santa Claus, as he was sure such beliefs had been banned down in Rapture.
"I told you I was a good girl this year!" Theresa exclaimed, "No coal in my stocking! Why coal, anyway? Why not ADAM?"
Jack sighed quietly. So they were still hooked on ADAM, huh? "Let's open our presents!" Ginny suggested, diving into the pile of presents again and looking for one with her name on it.
"Careful, Ginny," Jack warned her, but Ginny soon found a small present with her name on it.
"Oh!" Kathy squealed, "What's in there?" The other Little Sisters crowded around Ginny as she quickly tore through the wrapping paper, holding up a new box of toys that she had had her eye on for a while now.
"Hooray!" she shouted, "Santa knew I wanted this, and he gave it to me! I love Christmas!" Jack laughed, happy to see that she liked her first gift.
"You open your gift next, Theresa," he said, nodding at Theresa as she sat down and dutifully plowed through the wrapping paper, eventually revealing a beautiful blue sweater.
"Ooo!" the Little Sisters cried, clapping their hands and looking thoroughly excited at Theresa's present. Their innocence and pure happiness made Jack smile until he thought his mouth would ache.
They took turns opening presents, with each Little Sister ooh-ing and ahh-ing at what each of them received. The concept of opening Christmas presents never got old for them, which made Jack wonder what the holidays were like for them before they had been cured.
"You open one, Mr. B," Janet said to Jack next, handing him a large, poorly wrapped present, though that didn't matter to him.
"We did it ourselves," Ginny explained, and all five Little Sisters watched eagerly as Jack unwrapped their present…only to find a teddy bear similar to the ones they had left him at all the Gatherer's Gardens in Rapture. There was a card attached to one of the bear's paws, and Jack opened it in time to see a photograph of all the girls with Tenenbaum, as well as a written message.
"We love you, Mr. Bubbles."
And although he tried not to cry, Jack did anyway, feeling tears of joy as he took in the gift.
"Thank you," he whispered, "Merry Christmas to all of you." And with that, the Little Sisters all moved forward and hugged him tightly.
Later on that morning, Jack was dressed in snow boots, two layers of pants, a hat, a scarf, gloves, and a thick coat as he shoveled the snow in the driveway, tossing it into a pile on the lawn next to him. The snow was still falling down, which he knew would make the girls happy. They had never seen snow before.
Jack glanced up as Ginny finished throwing a snowball at Theresa.
"What'd you do that for?" Theresa asked as Ginny giggled.
"It's a snowball," the brunette explained, "I learned it from a boy at school. He said you have to make some snow into a ball and throw it at someone. He also said it's a lot of fun."
"Well, that hurt!"
"It's just snow, Terri," Ginny tried to reason, and Jack realized he was going to have to intervene. He set the shovel down and approached the girls.
"Okay, what's the problem?" he asked, kneeling down in the snow to reach the girls' heights.
"Ginny threw a snowball at me, Mr. B!" Theresa whined, pointing at Ginny, who was busy making another snowball.
"Is that true?" Jack asked her as her cheeks turned slightly pink from the cold.
"I…well, um…" Ginny stammered as she dropped her snowball in the making, "I overheard these boys in my class talking about them, and I didn't know what they were, so I asked them. And they told me. They said it was a lot of fun."
"I've never heard anything about this snowball," Theresa retorted, "It hurts!"
"Ginny," Jack said, turning to the six-year-old, "You know better than to do something and not tell the others. Why don't you explain what a snowball is to the rest of your sisters?"
Ginny took a deep breath and began to tell the others what she remembered her classmates telling her, scooping up some snow in her hands and compacting it until it was in the shape of a ball.
"And then you throw it like this!" She got ready to throw it at Theresa again when Jack stopped her.
"Here," he said, "Throw it at me instead."
Ginny seemed to like that idea, so she threw it at Jack instead, who immediately made his own snowball and chucked it at her.
"See?" she said to the others, "That's the whole fun of it!"
Kathy, Janet, and Lynn seemed to catch on, and Lynn quickly made her own snowballs and began throwing them at Ginny, who retaliated by throwing hers back at the five-year-old. They laughed and squealed as they attempted to hide from each other behind trees, bushes, and even Jack's growing snow pile.
Only Theresa didn't seem enthusiastic about joining the snowball fight. Instead, she stalked off to the side, sitting on the stairs leading to their house as she sighed. Jack picked up the shovel again and approached her. "What's wrong?" he inquired, taking a seat next to her.
"I don't like snowballs," Theresa answered bluntly, "Is that okay?"
"Of course it's okay," Jack assured her, "You don't have to like the same things as your sisters. That's why the world is so interesting, which you'll learn over time."
Theresa buried her face into her hands. "I just hope they'll understand…" she mumbled.
"I know. But there are other things you can do with snow, too, besides have snowball fights."
"There are?" Theresa looked thoroughly surprised at this revelation as she lifted her face away from her hands.
"Sure," Jack said, "You can build snowmen or make snow angels. Here, I'll show you." Both of them got up and moved away from the snowball fight.
"How'd you learn all this, Mr. B?" Theresa asked in a curious tone.
The truth was, Jack had had trouble getting Christmas right upon first moving here; he had resorted to watching Christmas movies, reading books, or asking Tenenbaum. He would never tell his new daughters that, though.
"I remember building snowmen with the other kids that lived around my area," he explained, though he felt bitter for a minute as he realized that was probably another fake memory.
He shook his head. There was no time to think about that. That was a thing of the past. He was going to concentrate on making real memories now.
For the next ten minutes, Jack and Theresa concentrated on building a snowman, which grabbed the attention of the other Sisters. "What are you doing?" Janet asked as they dropped their snowballs and approached them.
"Building a snowman," Theresa said happily.
"What's that?" Ginny questioned.
Jack quickly scanned their street to see if any other families built a snowman. "Look over there," he said, pointing at a house not too far from them, "That's a snowman. They're pretty easy to build, if the four of you want to help."
The girls just glanced at each other before breaking out into wide grins. "Yeah!" they cried, immediately kneeling down next to the others as they helped to build the biggest snowman they could.
Hours later, when Jack was finished shoveling the snow and the girls got tired of playing outside, they went back inside the house, where the five Little Sisters changed into warmer clothing, pulling on dresses, stockings, and shoes. They were getting ready to have their first Christmas dinner and Dr. Tenenbaum would be here any minute. None of them could contain their excitement; this holiday was turning out better and better every minute.
"How do I look, Mr. B?" Ginny asked as she twirled around in a white dress.
"Good," Jack assured her, surveying her sisters as they entered the room in either red or green dresses, "You all look perfect."
"Thank you!" they all thanked him.
"I can't wait for Mama Tenenbaum to see us," Kathy sighed as she sat down on the couch, "She'll be so proud."
Jack had to agree with her. They weren't doing too bad for their first Christmas on the surface. They seemed to have everything down pat.
For their first Christmas, they were going to have antipasto, followed by lasagna, hot sausages, and pasta in case they didn't like the lasagna. Cooking the lasagna had been a challenge; none of them were professionals, and it took Jack three days before he finally managed to whip up something edible. The Little Sisters had helped out as much as they could, though they didn't know how to cook anymore than their adoptive father.
"It's okay," Jack encouraged his daughters, "We'll get the hang of it. I'm new at this, too."
Some of the Little Sisters felt their stomachs rumble just as the doorbell rang. "I'll get it, I'll get it!" Ginny, the most vocal and spirited of the Little Sisters, declared as she raced towards the door and pulled it open, revealing Dr. Tenenbaum, who was dressed in heavy winter clothing.
"Mama Tenenbaum!" the girls cried, launching themselves into her arms as Jack stood back and let them greet her.
"Hello, my Little Ones," Tenenbaum greeted, smiling as she returned their hugs and patted their heads. When she was finished with them, she glanced up at Jack, who hesitated for a second before smiling.
"Hello, Dr. Tenenbaum," he said, slowly moving forward to hug her. His initial reservations had stemmed from the fact that Tenenbaum, alongside Yi Suchong, had been one of the scientists to be a part of the brainwashing and mental conditioning that he had endured, like the infamous "Would you kindly" trigger that had become the bane of his existence. But she also removed that trigger, Jack reminded himself, which helped him to relax even more. Tenenbaum had been more of a friend to him than the man who had pretended to be an Irish rebel leader named "Atlas".
No. He wasn't going to remember that, either.
"I told you that you can call me Brigid," Tenenbaum insisted, smiling as she shrugged her coat off. Jack took it from her and hung it up in the closet.
"All right then…Brigid," Jack said, leading Tenenbaum into the kitchen, where all the food was situated on the table.
"We made the food ourselves," Lynn explained, tugging on the hem of Tenenbaum's dress and looking very proud of herself.
"I see," Tenenbaum said, "It looks like you all are doing very well."
"We are!" Ginny assured her, "Mr. B's been taking good care of us!" She twirled around in her dress for emphasis.
"They've pretty much gotten settled on the surface," Jack added.
"I am glad to see you are also getting adjusted," Tenenbaum whispered to him, "I knew you'd be able to take care of my Little Ones. Thank you."
The girls crowded around Jack as he wrapped his arms around all five of them. "You're welcome," he retorted as the Little Sisters smiled at him.
Tenenbaum nodded and then took something out of her bag: a camera. "Before we eat," she mused, "I'd like to take a picture of all of you to remember your first Christmas together."
Jack perked up. "Oh!" he gasped, "Sure! Let's go over by the tree." He began heading towards the living room, with Ginny leading Kathy, Janet, Theresa, and Lynn right after him. They crouched down in front of the brightly lit tree, with Jack in the middle and all the Little Sisters on either side of him.
Tenenbaum raised the camera and snapped a photo, watching as it developed right away, revealing the happy family she was visiting right now. She even vowed to make a copy of it for Jack and his new family to keep. She knew that they would all remember this day for the rest of their lives.
Unlike everything else pre-Rapture, this would be a real memory, indeed.