AN - It's not Christmas at all anymore, really. This just took a while to write! I'm not sure if this is even canon for Obscura, but it was fun to write a side story about the season in the universe. Enjoy!
[tentacleTherapist has begun pestering turntechGodhead]
TT: What do your plans for Christmas entail?
TG: i dunno i think me and harley are gonna chill with bro
TT: Would you be adverse to coming up to spend the holidays?
TG: like, to new york and shit
TT: It may be nice to have everyone together for once, and the proximity of this to the holiday season is a nice set up.
TG: so like you want us there now or what
TG: i mean harleys over but she doesnt really have a lot of things
TG: cant come over without some clothes you know
TG: bum around naked wouldnt be the best choice
TT: Take your time. I am shockingly not going to be going anywhere.
TT: And bring your brother.
TG: why do you want that douche
TG: ruining christmas with his talk of puppet smut over dinner
TG: hey these shades hows it going
TG: good thanks egbert senior say have you seen my lastest masterpiece
TG: i call it the smuppet carol
TT: He is still family. And my mother enjoys his company.
TG: fine whatever ill ask
TG: you better be prepared for the worst xmas of them all with him though
TG: he considers a feast an extra burrito beside his twelve sandwiches
TT: I will keep this in mind as we prepare dinner.
TT: I do hope you all come, Strider.
TT: Bec is invited to stay as well.
TG: okay sure
TG: ill get back to you then lemme talk to my peeps about this
TG: democratic decision and all
[turntechGodhead has ceased pestering tentacleTherapist]
Dave looked to his left, where Harley had been sitting the whole time, reading the conversation over his shoulder.
"We're going," she said flatly.
"Do we have to," Dave muttered, leaning back on the couch. "I just want a quiet holiday."
"Okay! You can stay here all alone. I'll take your brother with me."
Again, he shot her a sidelong glance. It was all over her face that she knew she had won. That damn smirk was at least pretty cute.
"Whatever," he relented. Harley let out a small shout, giving him a sideways hug.
"We're gonna have so much fun!"
Jade knew she had been totally right when she said they were gonna have fun. She had packed a fair bit of clothes into a suitcase, and turned off a lot of the electronics and other things in her island home. Bec was curled on her bed, resting before she departed back to Dave's to pick him up on their way to Rose's.
She had never really had a big Christmas before. John had had her over for one ages ago, back before either of them had gotten so...different. But that was it! Otherwise it was usually just her and Bec, and she would spend it on the beach or relaxing or fixing the heat.
With one last survey, she turned to Bec. He seemed a bit tired, and she couldn't blame him. He was such a good dog toting her and her boyfriend everywhere!
She scratched behind his ears, hauling the suitcase close, and in a flash the two of them were standing in Dave's living room all over again. Bec immediately went back to resting as Jade left her suitcase in his care.
It wasn't hard to find Dave. He was still puttering around his room, and didn't seem to notice her. Perfect. She slunk across the room, and the moment he paused to stare at his suitcase she grabbed him from behind.
"Aww! You knew I was here?"
"My Strider senses were tingling."
"Of course they were." She leaned up to kiss his cheek. "So you're packing extra sweaters for me right?"
"First thing I grabbed. It's fucking cold up there."
He began to close the suitcase up, and Jade dropped her arms.
"You don't mind going, right? I don't usually get to see you guys and I've never spent Christmas with a really big family before..."
He turned, brushing her hair behind her ear. "I don't mind going."
"I'll be good and sleep and everything! So thank you for coming with me."
"I know, Harley."
When their lips met, Jade was certain he didn't intend it to be a long kiss, but that was what he was going to get. They had told Rose they'd be coming as soon as possible but that was about the last thing on her mind. Their leaving would just have to be delayed until she was done.
"Rose, don't worry. Jade and Dave and probably just doing each other, and that's why they're later than she promised."
Rose sent a glare to her boyfriend, who was so casually reclining on the bed. "Not only was that not what I was thinking about, it was not something I wished to imagine was occurring, however likely it is."
John gave a large laugh. He was still far too thin, but he was eating as of late and that seemed to be at least improving his mood. Though she could really do without some of his jokes like that.
He patted the bed beside himself, and she sighed, sitting down next to him. He draped a thin arm around her shoulders.
"Hey, your marks will be up when they get up. Try and enjoy Christmas, alright? I know its in a few days still but that doesn't mean you should worry now."
There was no point telling him they were up and she hadn't checked yet. For a moment, she closed her eyes, allowing John to run his fingers through her hair and blather on about the holiday. It was certainly nice being with him, however frighteningly cold he presently was.
"You need to put on a sweater."
"Turn up the heat," he replied, unmoving. She shifted from her seat, meeting his eyes.
His smile was faint, but still present. "Fine, fine. I know that face. I'll get a sweater."
It was better that he was in one, but watching him put it on still hurt a bit. It was so easy to see how nonexistent he was in a hoodie that normally would have been baggy on him. She carefully studied his face, noticing how a flicker of something passed across his face before he took his spot again.
"Try not to stress either, John. We are all going to be here."
He slid an arm around her again, giving a small sigh, but not replying. Rose leaned against him, listening to the rise and fall of his chest and the murmured speech of their parents the floor below.
Jade was immediately greeted upon arrival by the biggest hug from her ectobrother ever. It was almost as if he had known where she would be appearing! She giggled, hugging him back.
"I've missed you so much John!"
"Me too! ...Isn't that Dave's sweater?"
"Yeah! I don't have many warm ones."
John flashed her a toothy grin and she kissed his cheek. "I think you wear it so much better than he does, don't worry."
"Hey, I thought we had something Egbert. Thanks for ripping out my heart." Dave was trying to look super serious, but Jade could see the faintest twitch of his lips.
"Merry Christmas," John replied, catching Dave in a headlock. They struggled for a bit, John laughing.
Jade glanced around. Rose seemed to be making polite conversation with Bro, so Jade took it upon herself to get Bec a drink. She rubbed his ears, making her way into the kitchen with him in tail.
"Ah, hello Jade," Mr Egbert greeted, his pipe sitting on the table beside a half empty bottle of wine.
"Hello Mr Egbert! And Ms Lalonde," she returned, giving a grin at the couple. They were just too cute, sitting in the kitchen together. Jade made herself busy grabbing a bowl as Bec allowed himself to be pet by Rose's mother.
"Such a lovely dog," she said gently, scratching his head and rubbing his fur. "He must love you very much."
Jade thought back to a comment John had made about being unable to tell if this woman was drunk, but she seemed sober enough. So instead of passing it off as nothing she gave a grin.
"He's a very good dog. And thank you for having us all over!"
The two adults shared a glance that Jade didn't understand. She filled the bowl with water and set it down for Bec, before either adult replied.
"I have a large house and you are all important," Ms Lalonde explained. "Might as well have you all over for the..." she hiccupped strangely. "Holidays."
Okay, maybe she was drunk.
"Jade?" Rose's voice came from down the hall. "I'll move your stuff upstairs."
"Coming!" she replied, turning again to the adults. "Thank you again."
Another mysterious look from the two parents, and Jade took her leave, wondering exactly what it was they had been thinking about.
It wasn't often the four of the got together, especially not for a big event like this. They'd gather for everyone's birthdays - a big group in early December if they could and then, of course, for John's. And John had to admit he was pretty excited over spending the holidays with his buddies.
They were, unsurprisingly, all sitting in one way or another on Rose's bed. John and Jade were essentially lying on the blondes, and Jade herself was giggling.
"You guys don't have very comfy legs!" she was whining.
"Your body is none to comfortable on them either, never fear," Rose was quick to reply. Jade stuck out her tongue and John ruffled her hair, resulting in a shoving war between the two of them. It lasted for a while until Jade rolled on top of him.
"Ow, fuck, watch it," Dave growled. The siblings paid him no attention, rolling off the bed entirely as they continued to wrestle.
It wasn't really surprising when Jade won. In the back of his mind, John knew he was the weakest out of them, but Jade didn't seem to lord it over him that much.
"Yeah, I kno-"
"Loooose!" she sat on his chest, grinning.
He laughed. He could feel his chest beginning to burn, though. He didn't like it and it had to stop. "Get off."
It hurt. And that was too damn familiar. "Jade, get off me."
She immediately scrambled off him. He sat up, running a hand through his hair, clutching his shirt. It wasn't so bad. He could breathe. There had just been too much pressure from her weight, and it had been a bad spot to sit. His one scar ached and he knew he couldn't focus on it if he wanted to seem okay.
Hands were fluttering around him, and he tuned back into the conversation.
"John, John I'm so sorry, I-"
"Jade, I'm fine."
"You're white as a fucking sheet Egbert," Dave's voice was louder than John remembered, and a second set of hands were around him, easing his hand off his shirt. Jade wrapped her arms around his neck and he leaned forward, as Dave, or maybe it was Rose, he hadn't checked, patted his back.
He held his sister close, burying his face in her shoulder for a few minutes. It hurt.
His eyes fluttered open immediately, used to being woken in the middle of the night. It took a moment for him to realize that he wasn't next to Jade. She had insisted that she wanted to sleep with Rose, leaving the two boys to take the one spare bedroom for now.
"Sup Egbert?" he said, his brain slowly churning to a somewhat alert state.
"Who hugs in their sleep now?"
What the fuck did that mean? Dave was about to pass it off when he suddenly realized what he was doing. He scowled briefly, immediately moving his arms from around John, who was busily laughing.
"Fuck off," he muttered, rolling over. He would have said something more when John clung to his back, but the kid was too damn cold and he was too tired to care. Too many fucking tentacles.
Rose smoothed her hand over the computer keys as her laptop continued to boot up. The house itself was quiet - she had seen Mr. Egbert up, and her mother could not be far, but otherwise the crew was asleep. She had settled herself in part of the hall, a bit away from her guests.
Of course, she knew she had to go back to Jade shortly. But she knew her marks had been posted for at least a day, and she had not bothered to look. Or, rather, had stopped short of checking each time.
She stared at her browser, wondering if it was really worth it. She hated this part, seeing how she did. While contemplating refusing to check and putting it off until after Christmas, a body slid down next to her.
"Marks should be up, Lalonde."
"Go back to sleep, Strider," she muttered, slapping his hand away as he reached for the trackpad. She motioned to grab the laptop and close it, but Dave was just as fast, pressing the screen back. Her glare met his sunglasses for a few moments before she sighed.
"How many times do I have to fucking tell you the marks don't matter and you did fine," he muttered. Rose ignored the comment, choosing to open the browser herself as her ectobrother refused to leave.
"Might I have some privacy to see these?"
"Type your damn information in and open your marks, Lalonde."
Even with the shades, she could feel his stare. Choosing to ignore her brother, she opened the school site, hesitantly glancing over her final marks. Beside her Dave let out a low whistle.
"If you say something negative about two 90s and a fucking 92 I will end you right now on Christmas Eve."
"...It was a ninety five."
He grabbed her around the neck and wrestled her into a headlock. She shoved at his side, afraid of damaging the laptop. He proceeded to give her a huge noogie and she could only imagine the state of her hair. Finally, he relaxed his grip, keeping an arm slung around her shoulders.
"Holy shit, you're smart. Just holy crap. I knew you worked hard but this is ridiculous. You had nothing to worry about."
She closed the laptop itself, keeping her back straight and trying to shift out of his arm. "I need to go back to Jade."
Of course she got nowhere. "Egbert woke up the same time as me. He's watching her."
"He needs breakfast."
"We'll feed him when we get Jade up then."
"Shut up and feel good about yourself. You worked hard and you earned those marks."
With a glance at his face - smirking, the ass - she relaxed. A few minutes wouldn't kill her. She leaned in against his chest, feeling his arm tighten around her shoulders. A few minutes. That was all.
"Shut up, Strider."
"Love you too."
"Rose this is such a nice Christmas tree!" Jade stood in awe beneath it. It was massive! Like, probably as big as that silly wizard statue that was always watching. The presents were all piled beneath it, looking welcoming.
"It is entirely too excessive," Rose replied from her spot on the couch. John had somehow conned all of them into watching Christmas movies, but Jade was super fidgety! She never celebrated like this and there were just so many decorations!
"It's really nice though!"
"My mother picked it solely because I despise large trees."
Jade rolled her eyes and she glanced over, noticing John ruffling Rose's hair. Good. Dave had said they needed to be super supportive for her that day but hadn't really explained why. Which was alright!
But Jade still really liked the tree. The more she looked at it the more awesome it was! And the presents under it made her smile! They weren't really getting each other all that much, but she knew Dave was gonna love his gift and that made it worthwhile. She rubbed under her eyes.
Jade looked over. Dave had turned on the couch, and motioned for her to come over. She sat down on the couch arm beside him, looking down. "What?"
"Just watch this crap with us, alright?"
He brushed her hair back, and she gave him a small smile, leaning in close. "I'm fine, Dave."
"Just making sure."
An arm slid around her waist, and she raised an eyebrow at her boyfriend. But he had turned his attention back to the movie, and Jade laughed. It was nice spending time with him. All of them. And it was nice not feeling awful doing it.
John was shaken awake, hands clutching his shirt. It took him a moment to get oriented, but when he did, he was worried. Jade getting him up.
"You okay?" he asked, looking over at his sister. Her hair was a bit of a mess and she did have bags under her eyes. And it was seven am according to the clock. Damnit, he knew that the two of them shouldn't have slept like this. Rose or Dave would be better.
"John it's Christmas!" her face broke into a huge grin, and she threw her arms around his neck. He gave a small laugh, returning the hug.
"Merry Christmas Jade."
She kissed his cheek, still grinning. "I'm fine. I woke up about ten minutes ago but I'm just really excited!"
"Rose is gonna kill us if we go see her and Dave now. Cmon. Lie down and get a bit of sleep." He left out the part where neither of them had fallen asleep until rather late, and he also ignored the fact it had been Christmas when they went to sleep, technically.
"I don't wanna!"
Reluctantly, she lay back down next to him. They curled up together, and John pulled up one of the blankets they had kicked off. From there, the two of them fell in and out of sleep for a while, until he was again woken up to being shaken.
"It's nine. Can we go get Rose and Dave up now?"
John laughed. "Get dressed."
She grabbed some clothes, leaving the room, and John also grabbed a change of clothes. Like always, he changed quickly, without really looking at himself. It made it easier. And it was Christmas! He couldn't upset everyone.
He pulled open the door to see Jade there about to knock. He was about to say something but Jade covers his mouth, throwing her pajamas in the room and dragging him off.
For a moment he was confused, but when she dragged him to Rose's door he couldn't help but start to grin. They pushed the door open silently, poking their heads into the room.
Rose and Dave were so cute when they had moments together. Despite their arguments about spending a night in the same room, they seemed to be sleeping well. Jade exchanged a look with him, and John winked a reply.
"Guys, it's Christmas!" Jade yelled, throwing herself on the bed beside Dave. John walked over, standing at the foot of the bed as Jade ruffled hair and kissed her boyfriend despite his protests.
Rose stirred, sitting up and removing herself from her brother's grip. She took one look at Jade and Dave before raising and eyebrow to John, to which he gave a shrug and offered her a hand. The blonde pulled herself out of the bed, walking with him into the hall.
"Not quite what I expected to see waking up," she commented dryly. John grinned, smoothing down her hair before giving her forehead a quick kiss.
"Merry Christmas, Rose."
"Merry Christmas, John."
"Lame!" called Jade from the room, pelting them with the pillows. "Get a room!"
"You're in it!" John called back.
She launched forward, and John booked it down the stairs, hearing her come laughing after him. He spun into the kitchen, hearing her footsteps pause as he took a few deep breaths.
Both his father and Rose's mom were staring at him. Bro was there too, but it was hard to tell what his face was behind the shades. John put a finger to his lips as Jade grabbed his arm.
She dragged him to the table, and before he could even begin to protest they were all sitting down, and he was eating a piece of toast as Jade talked with Bro about some show they were watching. John kept a steady eye contact with his father throughout the chat. But he had already resolved that nothing like that was happening that day.
When Rose and Dave made it downstairs, the four of them went to the living room where the ridiculously large tree was to open gifts. The thought brought a smile to John's face. There was just so many awesome things his friends were gonna just adore. There had been so much planning and searching involved. It was so worth it.
The adults were gonna open their presents later, and it was nice to just get to be with his friends. Curled up under the tree, presents in front of them. John gave each of them a short glance, before clearing his throat.
"Jade goes first."
"Duh!" Jade agreed, immediately tearing apart the wrapping on her first gift. John watched Rose suppress a smirk as a bundle of knitted squiddles exploded from the box. Jade gave a squeal of delight, immediately hugging the other girl.
"Roooose! These are so cute!"
"I figure you did not possess nearly enough of them."
"Of course not! Ah, they're just adorable!"
She tore into the next gift, which Dave and John had worked together to get. Her face seemed to glow when she pulled out the toolkits, opening them and running her hands over the different devices.
"You guys..." her voice was quiet.
"You haven't done much but fix up your place, and you're a smart kid, Harley," Dave explained, leaning back. "I'm hoping maybe you'll try building something."
She stared at the box in her hand, before closing it. "You guys are the best. I mean it. This...I haven't done anything like this in so long." She got to her feet, giving first Dave a hug and then John. "Thank you."
She turned again to Dave. "Your turn."
"No, fuck that. Rose is next."
"I disagree," Rose argued coolly. John smiled to himself. He knew that tone. Dave had already lost. "You are the next eldest."
"That is not why Harley went first."
"Too bad!" Jade chimed in, giving him a short kiss on the cheek. "Open up!"
He gave a groan, but when John shoved over the gifts there was a faint twitch of the blonde's lips. A Strider grin. He opened the package carefully enough, his face growing a bit more surprised as he peeled it off.
"Yup," John replied, smiling. Even with the shades it was obvious that Dave didn't really understand what he was seeing.
After all, they had pooled together to get him two new camera lenses.
"You shits, this is so fucking expensive," Dave said, staring at the box in his hands. "And you got two?"
John didn't bother to hide his grin, although Rose and Jade had a bit more tact. Dave opened the one case, looking over the lens within it.
"Yeah, you guys are pretty much assholes," he commented, as Jade kissed his cheek. The blonde shook his head slowly. "Thanks."
"Rose's turn!" Jade chirped. John rolled his eyes. His sister seemed to have taken charge over the day. He was alright with that.
Dave and Jade exchanged a few words as Rose opened her gift. John watched her face. He knew what was gonna happen. She was gonna raise an eyebrow and be all 'Really, this gift is far too-'
"John, stop smirking like that," she chided.
"Like what?" he immediately tried to straighten out his face. It failed miserably.
"I haven't even opened it yet."
"Cause you're slow!" Jade chimed in. Rose rolled her eyes and finally unwrapped the gift.
And she did raise her eyebrow. Oh, man, John couldn't wait for her snarky comment about-
She held the books close. She wasn't even smirking! Rose was so cute.
"I was not expecting to receive original printings of Freud this Christmas," she commented. "I am supposing Strider had a hand in selecting this."
"He's your favourite, right? Even if he's a total weirdo."
"That's why he's my favourite."
She gave both Jade and Dave brief hugs, before turning to John. She poked his cheek before doing anything else.
"You look ridiculous."
"But you're so happy!" he replied, pulling her in for a short kiss. "That makes me happy."
Rose rolled her eyes again, but settled down beside him regardless, the books still in her arms. She was just so happy without being obvious about it and he loved her so much for it. Best Christmas gift ever.
Besides, probably, whatever his friends had gotten him. The one thing was obviously a poster - that was kinda hard to hide - and the other one was smaller and rectangular. He tore at the poster first, unrolling it.
Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman's large face greeted him. Was this...a Star Wars episode two poster? Signed by acting legend himself Hayden Christensen? John felt himself grin from ear to ear.
"Best movie, right Dave?"
But wait, was there...another one? He unrolled the second poster as well. Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher smiled at him. What Happens in Vegas was such a good movie too. Oh man these gifts were just perfect and he had no idea where he was gonna fit them in his room. But it didn't matter. Kutcher and Diaz had the best chemistry.
Okay, that was amazing. But he wanted to see what the other thing he got was. He carefully opened the second package, as Jade giggled a bit. Oh, this was gonna be good.
Inside was a box. He opened it, pulling out a deck of cards and a letter.
Your friends tell me you've had a rough time lately. I know the feeling. Just keep pulling through and maybe try some of those old magic tricks you used to do. Just remember to put the bunny back in the box when you're done.
This was a letter.
From Nicolas Cage.
Specifically to him.
He didn't know what to say. Or do. He just stared at the letter in his hand and slowly reached for the deck of cards. He used to do magic tricks, hadn't he? And when had his friends even met Nicolas Cage?
"You guys..." was all he got out before Jade tackled him in a hug. Rose pulled the letter from his hand, placing it in the box before she also wrapped her arms around him. Even Dave shuffled closer.
"Thank you guys," John murmured, running a hand in Rose's hair as the two girls clung on. He glanced over at Dave, who was sitting pretty close. "Cmon, Dave. It's Christmas."
Dave settled in, giving John a brief hug before leaning back. Eventually, Jade followed suit, but Rose still kept her arms around him.
He opened the deck of cards slowly, beginning to shuffle the back and forth in his hands. Jade went over and began pulling out all her tools, while Dave wandered off to probably grab his camera. Rose stayed close, pressing open a page of her book. A smile crept across John's face again as he read over the note, trying to commit the words to memory.
"Merry Christmas, John."
"Same to you, Rose."