It was six in the morning and Jump City was covered in a thick blanket of snow. Delicate patterns of frost decorated the windows, giving off a calm and peaceful aura.
A loud screech pierced the silence, followed by a series of faint thumps, and pedestrians on the streets turned their heads towards Titans Tower…
"Gar… get down here…!"
Hearing his name, the depleted changeling trudged down the stairs and met his leader with bleary eyes. "What… what's happening…?"
Richard Grayson whipped around and faced his comrade. "What is the meaning of this?!"
Confused and still half asleep, Garfield Logan leaned to the side, glimpsed a scene of absolute chaos, and snorted. "Seriously? You couldn't wait…" He checked his watch. "… forty-two minutes?"
Richard turned a deep shade of scarlet. "N-no, that's not what happened-" The left door to the coat closet creaked wide open, revealing a mound of fallen parcels, covered in assorted colors and designs of wrapping paper.
A feminine voice from the doorway startled the boys. "What is the problem?"
Both of them turned. "Oh, it's just you… sorry if our Boy Blunder here woke you up."
"It is all right, but…" Kori Anders, known as Starfire or Koriand'r to others, stood behind her fellow Titans. "Why are there many packages behind you? Is that- oh!" Kori darted over to the heap of gifts and pulled out a small square box, wrapped in a shiny metallic magenta paper and slightly disheveled. "This is my present to our dear friend Cyborg… why was it on the floor?"
"U-uh, sorry about that Star. I hope nothing's wrong with it?" Robin stammered.
Kori lifted the lid of the box and peeked inside. "It is, as the teenager humans say, 'all good'!"
Victor Stone was next to join the others, clad in a white T-shirt and pajama pants with blue robots on them. "What's all the noise about- hey, are those presents?!" He ran to the piles of gifts like a small child and began to rummage through them. "Hm hm hm… I see somebody remembered what I wanted for my favorite day of the year!..." The half-android fished a flat rectangular shaped package out of the pile, but was stopped from opening it when Richard slapped his human arm.
"Heyyy…" whined a disappointed Victor, reaching for his gift.
"Sorry Cy, but we gotta wait for-" Richard started to say.
"But I want my present!" Victor flailed around. "Gimme gimme gimmeee!"
"Nooo… I said NO!"
"Am I interrupting something?" Everybody turned towards the source of the risque voice and saw Rachel Roth hovering over Beast Boy's head.
She had her cloak wrapped tightly around her and her hood was pulled up to shield her face.
"Oh… hey Rae!" Garfield greeted the antagonistic sorceress.
Rachel deadpanned. "Hey… what's going on…"
The other Titans all pointed to their leader. "It's his fault! He totally messed my secret present hiding spot up!" Garfield whined.
"Now, now, small child. There's plenty of blame to go around." Rachel rolled her eyes and sat cross-legged down on the carpet.
Kori smiled pleasantly. "I agree! It is the day of Christmas, after all… let us enjoy the ceremony of opening the presents in front of everybody to view!"
At this sentence Rachel tugged her hood down even further, hiding a deep red blush on her alabaster skin. The other Titans did not acknowledge it, all choosing instead to dig deep into the mound of presents, hoping to find one labeled with their name.
"Okay, here's how this is gonna work." Victor explained. "I'm gonna take one present outta the pile at a time, and I'll read who it's from and who it's for. Got it?"
"Yeah yeah, get on with it." Garfield teased, lazily draped over the L-shaped sofa.
Victor ignored him and pulled a gigantic parcel out of the pile, wrapped in red paper with green and yellow stripes. "Now I wonder what this could be!… 'To Star, from Traffic Light…'" He ad-libbed, tossing the parcel at Kori's head, who caught it eagerly and began ripping the paper off.
"Oh, how marvelous!" The excited alien held up a pink stuffed teddy bear that was almost as large as she was. "Thank you so very much!"
Richard blubbered, "Oh, it was, um, no problem, Star, I hope you enjoy your, uh, present."
Victor was already choosing the next gift. "Let's see… 'To friend Cyborg, from
"Really now?" Victor perked up. "Ooh…" He had tugged the metallic pink paper off to reveal a brand new set of three discs: Mega Monkeys 1, 2, and 3. "Thanks, Star!"
"Oh, it was nothing!" Kori beamed.
"Who's next?" Garfield playfully shoved his friend out of the way and selected the next package, which was wrapped in a dark green foil. "Hey, this one's for me!... oh. How'd this get in here?!"
The other Titans turned at the sound of Garfield's shocked voice. "What is it, Gar?" Richard questioned.
Whipping the box behind his back, Garfield blushed profusely. "Oh, uh, it's nothing really… actually, it's sorta personal…" he mumbled, kicking the floor with the toe of his foot.
The other Titans all sweatdropped. "O-okay then, we'll let you deliver that one yourself…"
As Garfield was stepping into the elevator, Rachel stood up. "I have some things that I would also prefer delivering in private." She took a medium-sized parcel and a small box, both covered in black paper, from the pile of presents and joined Garfield in the elevator.
The doors slid closed as the other Titans exchanged glances. Finally, Victor broke the silence. "What is this, Secret Santa?"
The two Titans stood in the elevator, both silent and not wanting to meet each other's eyes. Suddenly, Garfield spun around to face Rachel, holding his present in front of him.
Rachel raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"I-it's for y-you!… I-I want you t-to have it…" Garfield stuttered.
Feeling some pity for this brief and quite pathetic speech, the enchantress accepted the gift and sat down cross-legged on the elevator carpet. Titans Tower was the tallest structure in Jump City, and as Victor had neglected to repair the elevator to the top floor, Garfield had at least five minutes to make his move.
Rachel paused before opening her present, then picked up her packages and placed them in Garfield's empty hands. "These are yours." she stated bluntly.
"Oh!… Thanks, Rae- I mean, Rachel!… sorry-"
"It's fine. I admit I have grown attached to that nickname." she replied, lifting a corner of the green paper and tearing some of it off. Garfield quickly looked away, face bright red, as Rachel pulled out a dark purple book. Flipping the cover, she silently read a note in the corner of the first page:
After almost ten years, I've fallen more and more in love with you. Please think of me whenever you read this book- it's one of my favorites.
Rachel reddened as she turned back to the cover of the book, which read "Edgar Allen Poe's Greatest Poems and Literature".
Garfield glanced in Rachel's direction, she had flipped to the first page of 'The Tell-tale Heart' and had automatically began reading, her eyes darting from one paragraph to the next. He had been joking when he wrote that it was one of his favorite books; he couldn't get past the first few sentences without having to go fetch a dictionary.
He examined the packages in his hand, deciding whether to open the big one or the small one first. After careful consideration, he tucked the small box in his pocket and began ripping the paper off the bigger one.
Rachel ended up with a small mountain of black paper shreds on her head, in her lap, and between the pages of her new book; while Garfield held a simple black sketchbook with an intricately embroidered front and back cover. He turned the cover to reveal a detailed picture… of himself.
Stunned, he continued flipping the pages, only to see more sketches of himself. He was with the other Titans in some of them, but mostly alone on each page. He was soon at the end of the book, with only one more page to go. Saddened, he flipped the paper over and saw a sentence in neat cursive at the bottom of the page. Bringing it close to his face, he read:
I love you.