Let It Snow
A Tekken Christmas One-Shot
By Lord Noon
# Oh, the weather outside is frightful…
"I wouldn't go that far," mused Anna Williams quietly, her sultry, melodic voice reaching no ears bar her own. Placing one hand against the floor-to-ceiling window, she suppressed a shiver as the cold passed through her bare skin and flooded her system – and for a moment, she was thousands of miles away, a child again, rolling out of bed at half-six on Christmas morning and already full of manic energy.
Every year was the same; before even thinking about presents or turkey or sitting down for a movie, she would throw a thick coat over her pyjamas and slip into her bright red wellington boots, then jump up on her sister's bed – usually waking her up in the process – and stand on her tip-toes to see out of the high window, pressing her hands and nose to the cold, frosted-over glass and hoping she'd see the rolling green field outside smothered in a pearly white blanket of glorious snow. And every year, it was, like magic. Then she'd run out of the room and down the stairs two at a time, scamper around to the back door, stopping only to pull her well-worn sled out of the cupboard on the way, and leaping out into the wide, frozen turf with cries of delight that echoed for what felt like miles. The hill the field was planted on was steep, but her sheer enthusiasm made her indefatigable, and she'd climb that slope a dozen or more times, until the grooves left by her sled made it too slippery for her boots to get a grip on.
And then she'd just slip back down without the sledge, still laughing.
Nina would join her in time, sometimes a full hour later, always at the insistence of their father – and she'd always trudge out with a sulking expression, wrapped up in so many layers she looked twice her normal size. But that attitude would never last, and soon the air would be thick with thrown snowballs, the weapon of choice for both and so much more pleasingly impactful than the cap-guns they resorted to in the springtime. Together they would laugh with each successful strike, yelp at each hit taken, and throw themselves back into the thickest of snowdrifts each time they 'died'. Of all the games they played, this was the one that Anna would win every time, almost without fail; if this was down to skill or simply her sister's fondness for diving into the snow, she didn't know nor care.
The sky would be getting dark by the time their father came outside to call them back in – sometimes taking their hands and dragging them to the door while they dug their boot heels into the slippery ground in defiance. But, they were both good girls at heart, and would go along with his demands, squirming out of their soaked outdoor clothes and being wrapped in thick towels, then being left to sit before the fire with their feet in a basin of hot water, shivering, while father tended to dinner.
And there, when they were alone, leaning against each other for comfort, with only the crackling of the firewood to be heard; that was when the sisters exchanged their presents, every year. It was never anything big, or expensive – in fact, sometimes the gifts she gave Nina were attractive things she had simply found, Anna knew, and she suspected the same was true of several items she'd received from Nina over the years. But it didn't matter. They would tear open each other's clumsy wrapping efforts, say 'thankyou' with a sneeze, and keep the presents in their clutches for the remainder of the day, only putting them down at bed-time, where they would go in the special locked drawer 'til next Christmas.
That was the routine, and it meant a lot to her. No other day, not even her birthday, had the same…magic to it. On any other day, she could take nothing for granted; there was no guarantee her father would be so lenient, nor that her sister would want to play fair…or that she herself wouldn't cheat, for that matter. Even if the snow was still there on the 26th or the 27th, she would not care to play in it. That privilege was for Christmas alone – because it always snowed on Christmas…until, one year, it didn't. Anna was 12 by then, orphaned by tragedy and exiled by the fierce mutual hatred that had flared up between herself and Nina, but after the first few months the pain had started to dim. Surely Nina couldn't stay mad at her forever?
And then Christmas came, but the snow never fell. She cried for almost the whole day – she couldn't help it, even though she knew on some level it was silly. That was when she knew those days were gone forever.
The years slipped by in a blur of cocktail parties and back-alley dealings, Martinis for dinner and death for breakfast. Rarely staying in any one country for more than a week at a time, Anna – often by design – never saw another white Christmas. It didn't seem right, too pure a vision to coexist in the same world as the decade-long feud between herself and Nina; a bitter struggle without end and, increasingly, without meaning, one she took what hollow pleasure she could from.
But today, the snow fell in Paris, and Anna was there to see it.
It was already a foot thick, laying across the sidewalks and parked cars like a massive, fluffy carpet, and here and there she could see packs of children dashing out of their homes to roll up snowballs or craft a rounded manikin with a cheerful smile made of coal. Closer, the amber glow of the city's lights makes the fallen flakes sparkle like the diamonds currently circling Anna's neck…and catching her reflection in the window, her good mood vanishes.
Just look at yourself, Anna thought darkly, what sad little cause are you vamping up for tonight? In truth, she barely remembered the details. Some dreadfully boring arms shipment that her current employer wanted to go through at a little less cost to himself. So, she scammed herself an invitation to the gala used as a cover by the gun-runners and would try her best to sweet-talk a better deal out of these scumbags…or strong-arm them if that didn't work.
"And who is this be-yoo-tiful creature before me, hmm?" The vaguely Mediterranean accent made her guts curl with disgust, but as she turned around, she forced an easy smile and rested one hand at her waist, the better to draw attention to her voluptuous hips. She recognised the talker – fat, five-foot-five, greasy hair, pockmarked face – as one of the higher-ups she was looking for and, not for the first time, wondered what horrible things she'd done in a past life to deserve as cruel a fate as the one she'd been dealt.
"Name's Amelia Lockhart, sweetie," she purred, offering her other hand for the man to kiss, something he did with altogether too much relish. The false name went over without comment, and the fat man started what looked set to be a very long, very boring monologue about all his meaningless wealth and influence, things that Anna could strip from him in a matter of hours if the mood took her…the man's voice levelled out into a numbing drone, and Anna found her attention wandering to the windows again…
Maybe…maybe this year was the right time to extend an olive branch of sorts. She hadn't seen hide or hair of Nina in months, and truthfully, she missed her. It would be good to track her down, even if it only led to another indecisive and painful fight.
But they never fought at Christmas before…
"Ah, excuse me, I'm looking for a miss Anna Williams?" A new voice entered the 'conversation', much younger and polite to the point of shyness. Anna blinked, and then turned towards the speaker, a man – a boy, really, barely in his 20s – wearing an express delivery uniform. He carried a parcel wrapped in brown paper under one arm.
"That would be me," she said, ignoring the look of flabbergasted confusion that played across the fat man's face in response. To hell with the cover story, she had a tingle running down the back of her neck telling her this was important, and she'd learned long ago to trust her instincts.
The delivery boy checked a little PDA for confirmation, before offering her the parcel. "This is for you, ma'am. Overnight delivery, already paid for, I just need a signature – "
She grabbed the parcel greedily, feeling something loose shake inside. It was light, too light to be a bomb – though she didn't honestly expect it to be one – and the label bore no address, just her name, in a blocky computer font. "How did you know to come here?" Anna's voice was all business; a blind man would swear it was a different woman speaking, compared to the honey-toned temptress heard before.
Flustered, the delivery agent scratched his head, eyes rolling skyward as his mind raced. "Uh, the customer, she – at least I think it was a she, I didn't get a good look, but she said that you'd be here at this kinda time, and something about your 'schedule'? I dunno, miss, I wasn't on desk duty when she came in, I just overheard – and I really need your signature…" He gestured to his PDA again, but Anna paid him no heed. Shredding the brown paper apart with her long, manicured fingernails, she was left with a simple shoebox, with no labels or markings. And inside it was…
Anna flinched as she flipped open the lid, almost thinking she'd been wrong and would be killed by an obvious trap – but then her eyes went wide as they fell upon the small, round object sat within a cradle of balled-up newspaper. It was a snowglobe, and sat inside the tiny glass sphere was a little model of a red-brick house blanketed heavily in ice – not the same as, but similar to, her old home. As she carefully grasped it in one gently-trembling hand, it shook, and a cloud of white foam flakes drifted lazily around the house.
Nina…she didn't know what would possess her sister to do something like this, after all these years. She honestly thought the last dregs of kindness had vanished from Nina's heart a long time ago. And yet, she now held proof saying otherwise. After all this time, and everything that's happened, you remembered what this day means to me – to us, sister?
And Nina was in Paris, tonight.
"Excuse me, madame - !" The slimy management creep was turning beetroot, virtually trembling with rage at her sheer audacity in ignoring him. With a sigh, Anna nonchalantly tossed the snowglobe into the air, then pivoted, drove her right knee into the lard-bucket's solar plexus, and struck the back of his neck with her left elbow, driving him to the floor in silence. Her hand deftly caught the globe again before it dropped to waist height. Giving the delivery boy the signature he so desperately longed for, she turned and strode for the elevator amid shocked whispers and petrified looks, withdrawing her encrypted phone from her bra as she went. The man on the receiving end knew to let her speak first.
"Put me through to our contact with the Sûreté, I need someone in the city tracked down, fast. Oh, and make sure my AmEx is still valid. I'm going shopping."
The window opened with a stiff creak, making Nina wince and look up and down the alleyway, even though she'd checked and re-checked it already. She couldn't help herself; she was jumpy. Tonight's hit had gone to plan, her getaway had been note-perfect, not a trace of her was left at the scene, and the only tiny problem she had was all her own damn fault for being so stupid…
She grumbled incoherently as she threw the battered trombone case holding her rifle through into the kitchen of the dingy, run-down, unoccupied ground-level flat she'd commandeered for the duration of her stay, before slipping through the gap herself. She paused, sat on the edge of a sink, and said aloud, "What were you thinking…?" But the cold, empty room offered no help there. Nina shook her head and slid off the sink, turning around to pull the window shut again – and paused, her crystal-blue gaze fixed on the snow still falling outside.
That was it, she mused. The snow. Though her memory had largely restored itself after her two-year bout of amnesia, there were still old thoughts and feelings that were too distant to remember clearly, until something – a word, an image, a sound – brought them bubbling to the surface, unwanted. She had been ten minutes out from her target destination when the first flakes began to fall across her helmet's visor; pulling her bike to a stop, she'd pulled it off her head and shaken her hair out, then gazed wistfully skyward as the gentle trickle turned almost blizzard-thick. Every drifting crystal touching her face felt like a kiss…she couldn't remember getting off the bike, but she did recall falling backward into a rapidly forming snowbank and laughing, genuinely laughing, for the first time in years as those halcyon days of childhood came crashing back to the fore.
And that had been enough to warrant putting off this evening's mission long enough to go rooting through some terrible little tourist-y shop for a silly little decoration to be sent to a woman she could barely stand the sight of. Never mind that the one and only reason she even knew where Anna would be today was to make certain she wouldn't get in the way…no, by all means, let's send her a worthless trinket and an 'I'm Here, Come And Get Me!' note.
Not that it was meant to be worthless; the look of the little house inside the snowglobe, and the simple fact it was a snowglobe, had done enough to further provoke the cloying sentiments in Nina's then-confused mind that she was sure it would have been a much appreciated reminder of simpler times, if things between her and Anna weren't…whatever they were. Homicidal, usually.
Growling with frustration, unable to deal with the complexities of her mind right now, Nina picked up her rifle's case and walked back out to the hallway, heading for the living room where her relatively light luggage was stashed. She couldn't take back her mistake, so she needed to leave, and soon, before –
She froze at the sound of a car pulling up outside, the wheels skidding slightly in the slush. Great, she thought with a curse, gingerly lowering the case to the floor and withdrawing her sidearm from the drop-down holster on her thigh. She pressed her shoulder against the living room's door-frame and ducked down slightly, controlling her breathing as the unmistakable sound of high-heels on concrete came from beyond the front door. Anna.
The footsteps stopped, and Nina raised her pistol, centering the sights roughly where Anna's heart would be given her height and where she was standing. So much for the Christmas gift. In reciprocation, her only blood relative was going to give her a door-knocker C4 charge, or maybe just a firm kick and a flashbang grenade…the letterbox squeaked, and Nina frowned. Getting creative, sis? There were easier ways to blow someone up, she knew from experience. And what came through the letterbox didn't look like a bomb – in fact, it was the same sort of beaten-up shoebox Nina had used to deliver that snowglobe earlier in the evening. It fell to the floorboards with a soft whump, and Anna's footsteps sounded again, this time in retreat. Nina drew back further into the living room, anticipating the worst.
Two minutes after the car had pulled away and still nothing had exploded. Nina was feeling impatient, but in the name of due caution she pulled a spare ammo clip from her waist and, leaning back into the hallway, threw it toward the box. It struck the thing's side and shunted it a few inches, ineffectually. No motion trigger, either. Taking a chance, she stepped out into the hall and advanced on the box on tiptoes, despite knowing how unlikely it was that Anna would somehow be watching and waiting to detonate the package remotely. Up close, she could see it sported no address, just her name, 'Nina', scrawled on the top side in Anna's distinctly loopy handwriting.
Ducking down again, still aiming her pistol at the box as if there would be something tiny and alive inside, Nina got two fingers under the lid – then pulled it off quickly. What she saw nearly made her drop her gun in surprise. Her mouth fell open, slackly, and she choked.
It was a pair of slippers. Her size, furry, and styled to look like the cat from those old 'Tom & Jerry' cartoons she used to laugh at. Best of all, they didn't explode.
No; actually, as Nina put her pistol away and picked them up, she corrected herself inwardly. That wasn't nearly the best part. The best part was that…it felt like Christmas again.
Fifteen minutes later, Nina had the living room warming up from the disused but unblocked fireplace, and the TV was tuned onto one of the music stations. Getting comfy in a dusty armchair and propping her feet up on the coffee table, she grinned at the sight of the silly cartoon faces covering her toes. Sure, tomorrow might be different; it might be Hell, she could be at Anna's throat with a knife again in a heartbeat. But not tonight. On this one day of the year, even family could be forgiven.
And with one of her old man's favourites being crooned out of the TV, and the fire crackling gently, the assassin shut her eyes and thought that this day really might be magical after all. Merry Christmas, little sis.
# The fire is slowly dying
# And my dear, we're still goodbyin'
# Long as you love me so
# Let it snow, let it snow
# Let it snow!
Disclaimer: Tekken and all related characters are the property of Namco Bandai.
'Let It Snow' originally performed by Frank Sinatra.