A/N: Just a short ACMSES festive fic for you all.
This occurs after: White In The Winter Night (by Aliso).
Insert Goodwill To All Men Here
"Come on Allie!" Louise called to her friend through the closed bathroom door. "The others are all waiting outside for you."
"You really are going to make us do this, aren't you?" came her friend's voice from within.
"Hell yeah, they deserve a Christmas just as much as the rest of us."
"This is your repentance for your guilt, isn't it?" Alice opened the door to see the reaction on Louise's face. The elder agent stared at the floor. "I knew it!"
"I'm coming hon," Alice smiled at her friend. "Just let me put me pants on."
Louise smiled. Alice may have been a British agent, but she did come out with some wonderful Americanisms on occasions.
The pair of them joined the others in the Library corridor outside. Waiting there were Valerie, Dave, Robert and a couple more brave souls. Louise had talked them all into becoming a small carol-singing group.
Dave had his trombone in his hand, and Valerie, upon her arrival, had been handed a pile of sheet-music. It now balanced precariously in the Chief Medical Officer's hands.
As the best friends arrived, Louise collected the sheet music from Valerie, and handed out a pack to each volunteer.
"Now, we are going around the other agents offices, and are going to shake these…" she plucked a handful of metal tins from inside her room. As they moved, a metallic rattle came from within.
"What's in there?" Robert asked.
Louise shook the first tin, handing it to Robert. "Money, but we need more."
"So, we're carol-singing for charity?" Valerie asked.
"Who's the charity?" Rhia asked.
"The Sues!" Louise explained without much fanfare. "They deserve a decent Christmas too. We're going to be buying a small Christmas gift for each and every one of them."
Robert nodded in approval.
"WHEEE!" came a sound from around the corner.
"I know that sound," Valerie muttered, ducking out of the way as a little black and yellow creature came whizzing around the corner.
"Hello Miss Allie!" Combee squealed as she came to a hovering halt above the gathered agents.
"Hello Combee sweet," Alice replied.
"Sweet…" she squeaked, "where?"
"Never mind," Alice sighed.
"What are you all doing here?" Combee asked, looking down at the motley collection of agents below her.
"We're going carol-singing," Louise explained.
"Wheee!" Combee buzzed up and bounced off the ceiling. "Can I come too?"
Unseen by Combee, who was continuing to bounce off the Library ceiling, the agents all looked at each-other. It was clear on their faces that no-one was particularly enamoured by Combee coming, but all also knew that trying to stop her would take nothing short of a miracle.
"Of course you can come," Robert answered, coming to the conclusion quicker than the majority of the others.
"Thank you Mr Robbie."
Robert winced slightly. He was only just getting used to Combee, and the concept of Pokémon in general. The little bee's habit of using the diminutive of a person's name was still unusual to him. She was, however, the only Library inhabitant that was permitted to call him 'Robbie', although Robert had only given in to this once he heard that Adrian was 'Mr Kitty'.
"Now…" Louise clapped her hands for attention. "Do we all have the music?"
There were general murmurs of assent.
"Who are we going to first?" Rhia asked, flicking through the sheet music in her hand.
Everyone thought for a moment. Alice and Robert agreed that Michael would be funny, given that they had Combee in tow, until the little bee got bored. Louise wanted to go and bother the Librarian and Tash.
In the end, they decided to go stick their heads into Rhia's kitchen and the mod-sofa lounge, taking in the majority of the offices en route.
Dave gave them a starting note from his trombone, and the group began to sing as they walked.
"Once in Royal David's City…"
A couple of people stuck their heads out of their offices as the group passed along the corridor; there was the tinkle of money being put in the metal tins that a number of the singers carried.
Alice leaned towards Louise as they walked.
"I think you might want to talk to Robert, Lou?"
"Why?" she whispered back.
"He is seriously out of key."
It was true now that Louise listened. Her oldest friend in the Society was clearly not cut-out for singing. Valerie looked side-long at him as he squawked out the chorus to 'We Three Kings' with the others.
Louise sidled up to Robert as the group collected money from Ben and Lily, both of whom donated generously.
"Robert?" she slipped her arm through his, and led him away from the group for a second. "You aren't a singer, are you?"
The Society's newest agent grimaced. "No," he admitted. "Is it that obvious?"
Louise nodded sheepishly.
"Should I go…?"
"No!" Louise interrupted. "Here," she thrust a collection tin into his hand, "go knock on the doors."
Robert took the tin, and the others sighed inwardly. He had not been awful, but their ears had been complaining for most of the time.
"Mister Robbie!" Combee called from the ceiling.
"Yes, little one?"
She swooped down, landing on his collection tin.
"Are we going to see Daddy soon?"
"I think so."
"Whee!" with a bounce, she was in the air again. Robert watched her go, a slight smile on his face.
"Michael's room next," Louise announced, as the group turned into the corridor that held the leaders' rooms.
"DADDY!" Combee shot off down the corridor ahead of the carol-singers. "DADDY, WE ARE SINGING FOR YOU!"
Michael, however, was not the agent that stuck their head out of their office. One white head, complete with kitty ears, followed by a head of long blonde hair appeared from the door at the far end.
"Oh dear," Louise murmured, recognising the Librarian and Tash.
Tash looked up at Combee, flying above her.
"Aunty Tashy!" she squeaked. "And Mr Kitty!"
"What are you doing here, Combee?" Tash asked.
"We are singing!" Combee answered.
"Oh?" Adrian looked down the corridor at the approaching agents.
"Mm-hmm," the little bee nodded.
"Are you singing too, Combee?" he asked.
"Oh no," Alice muttered as she came into ear-shot of Combee.
"Oh Christmas Bee, Oh Christmas Bee…" Combee was singing at the pair.
"Combee…" Valerie called to the little Pokémon, "It's Oh Christmas Tree, not Bee."
"But I'm a bee!" Combee protested. "Daddy says that I'm a special bee! Aren't I, Aunty Tashy?" she turned to face the Assistant-Librarian.
"Of course you are, little one. You're a Christmas bee."
Combee turned and grinned childishly at Valerie.
"Oh dear..." Rhia muttered to Louise.
The main band of singers and tin-shakers joined Combee outside Tash and Adrian's office door.
"So," Rhia bounded up to the couple shaking her metal tin, "how much will you two be donating?"
"Donating?" Adrian asked.
"For the Presents for the Sues fund," Rhia explained.
"Presents for the..." Tash gulped. "What?"
"They deserve a present just as much as the rest of us, Natasha!" Robert exclaimed. "Even those of them who are in the blue t-shirts down there."
Tash looked a little abashed. "I didn't mean..." she started to explain.
"I know you didn't mean ill, Natasha," Robert placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"Here..." Adrian reached into his pocket, and pushed a handful of notes towards Robert. "Towards your fund," he smiled.
Robert thumbed through the notes, wide eyed. "Why Adrian..."
Louise and Alice stared at the money in their friend's hand, and then up at the Librarian.
"That's a hell of a lot of money," Alice gaped.
"Five hundred dollars," he explained.
Alice lifted the lid, and slipped the money into Robert's collection tin.
"Tash, are you donating?" Valerie asked.
"Of course," she disappeared back into her room, emerging about a minute later, purse in hand. "I've got a collection of Guernsey and UK notes and coins, is that okay?"
"Anything is wonderful," Dave commented from the back of the group with Louise. Despite the fact that it had been many months since the basement incident, Louise was still a little nervous about the Librarian, and had taken to retreating from a room when he arrived, or, hiding at the back of a large group.
Tash tipped a handful of coins into Rhia's tin. "Thanks Tash," Rhia supported the tin as the coins hit the bottom.
"Where are you lot off to now?" Adrian asked.
"My kitchen," Rhia explained.
"And then the mod-sofa lounge," Alice joined in.
"I think a lot of people are in the mod-sofa lounge," Tash chimed in, "they're watching one of Aster's anime series."
Rhia's kitchen was empty of all but Tyler, who was raiding one of the smaller fridges.
"Tyler!" Rhia's voice cracked out like a whip. "That's for the Society Christmas dinner!"
The Society's smallest agent turned around, his hands full of stuffing.
"Tyler!" Alice gasped. "That's raw stuffing!"
Tyler shrugged. It was obvious that he didn't care about the taste of the food he was eating.
"And now I'm going to have to make an entire batch of stuffing again!" Rhia snapped. Tyler dropped his handful of stuffing back into the bowl, and, as Rhia darted for him, shot from the room as fast as his little legs would carry him.
"Hey!" Louise called after him, "how about a donation?" but Tyler was long gone.
"The holly and the ivy…" the song changed as the group left the kitchen and headed for the mod-sofa lounge. "When they are both full-grown…"
"HEY GUYS!" came a cry from behind them. "Wait up!"
Emily was running head long down the corridor to catch up with them. In her hand was a large bag, jiggling from the weight of the coins within it.
"What's this, Emily?" Valerie asked as the young girl arrived, out of breath.
"It's…" she panted. "It's the donations from the tech labs."
Alice peered into the bag. "Oh my goodness! I don't think this is going to fit."
"Just carry it then!" Louise gave her a nudge in the side. Alice grumbled as she heaved the bag up, rubbing her side with her spare hand.
"Thank you Emily," Valerie smiled at the young girl, who smiled back.
"Anyways, I need to be back in the labs. I'm giving Charis a hand with one of her new gadgets!" Emily called as she ran back down the corridor in the direction of the Society's tech labs.
"Just the mod-sofa lounge to go," Rhia commented, her eyes still on the bag of money that Emily had brought.
Alice looked from the American agent's gaze down to the bag she was carrying. "We're going to have a hell of a lot of money by the end of this – what with Adrian's donation, and all of this!"
The group chuckled.
"People have certainly been generous," Robert pointed out as the group made its way past the hospital wing. Thankfully, the place was currently empty. Many of the agents had disappeared back to Real Life for Christmas, and therefore there hadn't been many missions while they had been away.
"It's more than I could have hoped for," Louise noted. "We will be able to buy all the Sues presents with this."
"Then let's see if we cannot get some more," Alice called. "The mod-sofa lounge is over there. I can hear the television inside."
Inside the mod-sofa lounge, there were a number of agents gathered. The majority of them were sharing stories from their Real Life Christmas holidays. As the carol-singers entered, Jess turned to them.
"Hey guys," her eyes fell on Dave's trombone and the money bag in Alice's hand. "What on earth have you been up to?"
"Carol singing!" Combee cheered from her spot on the bell of Dave's trombone.
"You too, little bee?" Harriet asked from her perch on the arm of one of the sofa mods.
"Mm-hmm," Combee agreed.
"So, are you going to sing for us now?" Jess asked.
"Are you going to donate money for the Sues' Christmas presents?" Louise replied
"Jingle bells, jingle bells," Combee started singing before anyone could reply to Louise's snide comment. The entire group joined in, voices mingling into one another. Even the agents who were not part of the original carol-singers broke into song.
The money tinkled into the tins that the group had left on the side, so by the time the group had sung themselves hoarse, the tins were full to bursting.
"Now for the counting, and the spending."
"How much have we got?" Valerie asked as she entered the room to find Alice, Louise, Robert and Dave surrounding a huge pile of money, consisting of both notes and coins.
The look on Dave and Alice's faces told her that the money was more than anyone had expected them to get.
"Well," Louise looked down at the sheet of paper in front of her. "We have: 138 British pounds; 637 American dollars; 65 Japanese Yen; 30 Korean Won and randomly 13 Danish Krone."
"I think that's possibly due to Pete," Alice explained.
"Maybe..." Louise pondered quietly.
"Well..." Alice picked up the different bags of money from the table, "once we have all this converted to one currency, we can start work on buying the presents!"
"Here you go," Alice handed Tabitha her present.
The feline-Sue blushed and murmured a quiet 'thank-you'.
"Well, we thought that you all deserved something for Christmas," Louise explained to the others.
"You're a little late!" Ash snapped from the back of the room.
"Well some of us had families to visit!" Rhia countered.
"Yeah, and forgot about all of us down here." Ash's voice cut across the silence of the basement.
"Oh shut it, Ash!" Reena snapped from her neighbouring cell. "At least they thought of us."
"And look at these presents," Kerrie held up a lovely sketch book and set of pencils.
Whilst it was true that the Sues hadn't received many visits while the majority of the agents had been away for Christmas, they had not gone without the essentials. Louise gritted her teeth to prevent her from, like Reena had, shouting at the ungrateful Ash.
"Hey!" Alice cried from outside Tabitha's cell. "We got something for you too! Just be patient!" It was like she was talking to an impatient child, who couldn't wait to get their hands on the newest toy.
Eventually, all the Sues were presented with their gifts. Most of them were happy to have received something, and even Ash and Roxelana grudgingly accepted theirs in good grace.
"Well," Robert spoke, as the female agents collected up all the wrapping paper and stuffed it into the large bin bag by the main door, "I hope you all enjoy your presents."
There was a chorus of thank-you's from the majority of the basement inhabitants, making the newest member of the Society smile briefly. Alice groaned as she lifted the bag of rubbish up the stairs, followed by Louise.
Robert turned to face the Sues and Stus again.
"Remember," he told then, "I'm your Basement Welfare Officer now. I am here for your benefit, to make things better for you. If you want to raise anything, all you need do is ask for me."
And with that, he followed the girls up the stairs, closing the basement door behind him.
A/N: I hope you all have had a very merry Christmas, and have a prosperous 2012!