Maybe a year or two after I wrote Chapter One I started getting ideas for a sequel which has brought us here. A little continuation that gives a happier ending for our favorite witch and resistance leader. Under the SnowThree Year Anniversary!
I do not own anything.
"You ever wonder the place would look like if we could add magic?"
"Kyle, magic isn't meant to be used like that, at least mine isn't. Maybe one day when either you or Selena have learned enough you'll be able to decorate your homes using magic. Granted if you do you'll probably make the neighbors jealous."
The fourteen year-old looked to his mother with something of a half-grin on his face. "If it earns us brownie points I don't see the problem. Who knows, one day it may be enough for me to be invited over for Christmas dinner."
Alicia and her son shared a short laugh that produced twin clouds of frost-covered air. Mother and son were standing almost five feet from the freshly decorated row house they'd come to call home for years. Countless white, red, and green lights colored the patches of snow myriads of colors just as other homes were. Christmas lights and decorations hung from every possible ledge giving no indication the home's occupants were anything out of the ordinary. Anyone who passed the finely decorated home never would have suspected it was home to the Bullet Witch Alicia and one of the most famous members of the Human Resistance and their children.
"Did we should have added a cross somewhere?" The dark-haired youth innocently questioned.
"Not sure what it could have done, besides everyone on the block knows who were are and accept us. Besides, I prefer the snowmen and reindeer." The semi-retired witch responded with a lazy smile. "We can always ask your father and Selena what they think when they get back. Granted I'm not moving anything up on the roof, that job goes to him."
"You know he's nowhere near as nimble or delicate as you are right?"
"Your father can be nimble when he needs to be. For your sake I'll leave it at that." She smiled then turned her head when her sixth sense felt the approaching presence of the rest of their family. "Come on, Dad and Selena are back."
Turning their backs the two saw a black SUV coming up the road before pulling up in front of their house. The front doors swung open to reveal a semi-bearded man and fourteen year-old girl as equally buddle up as Alicia and Kyle were. Stretching out her legs the girl's bright blonde hair was visible beneath the blue cap she wore to protect her hand from the freezing cold Christmas Eve had brought with it. Even with all the buddle clothing it was plain as day Selena took after her mother, the shape of her face, the way her hair fell, and the mysterious aura she walked with were all reminiscent of the Bullet Witch herself. Her green eyes which usually carried that eerie glow her mother's did lit up upon seeing the decorated house. Quickly forgetting about her father she marched through the snow up to the Cougar household with stars dancing in her eyes.
"You guys did…I…" She well and truly didn't know how to respond to the light-covered row house that she only barely recognized as the home she'd grown up in. "You guys…did well without us." Was all she could say when she felt her younger brother's peerless smile fall on her. "You did alright without me Kyle, of course mom probably had to do most of the hard work."
"Not true Selena." The younger sibling cackled walking up to her. "Who do you think did the roof? Or cleared away all the snow so we could have rooftop lighting."
"Yo! In case you kids are done mind helping out your parents?" Boomed the voice of the children's father.
The deep green of Selena's eyes met the pale blue of Kyle's moments before their faces broke out in cheesy grins. "Coming dad!" They said together and jogged back to help their parents.
"Anything you need me to teleport inside?" Alicia whimsically asked her husband as he hoisted the largest shopping bags into his arms while their children made their way over.
"I'm sure you can already answer that question." The soldier answered already knowing she'd had an idea what it was they'd brought home. "Better question, why don't you just teleport all of this stuff inside and save us all the time?"
The answer manifested itself shortly after the Cougar children jointed their parents. The door to their home saw all four of them making trips back and forth to the car back to the house, each time carrying an arm full of bags. This scene was plain to all manners of life walking along the street that evening, which were quite a few people. It was late in the evening with many couples returning home from shopping and parents to their children. A handful of eyes turned to the quiet home which looked no different from others despite the fame of its occupants. Besides a few still-blasted ruins there wasn't much to see on 26th Street except for the home of the two people who'd restored hope to most if not all of North America, and to a degree the world. In a way the family were the local celebrities of Charles Village and Baltimore as a whole.
Bit by bit humanity had recalled their world from the Geist, even if it had taken the better part of twenty years and over three million lives. That wasn't to say the fight was over, but most people could agree with most if not all of the Omegas and greater demons dead or sent back to the Demon World the odds were in humanity's favor. The United Nations had been restored somewhat and civility was being brought back to a world that had cowered in darkness for two and half decades. While many could say the war was in its final stages there were still parts of the world where chaos and anarchy reigned with an iron fist; sometimes the fist in question didn't belong to demons but human dictators who'd grown too attached to the savage hell Earth had become. Every other day the people were reminded with the various working news networks reporting from across the globe where tanks and legions of soldiers attempted to take back another region for the human race.
For the United States ironically the east coast was the safest, universally agreed to be because it was the heart of Maxwell Cougar's resistance movement. Of all the east coast cities Baltimore, Charleston, Richmond, Bridgeport, and Boston were amongst the cities faring better under reconstruction. Naturally each of these cities had become heavily packed with survivors from all walks of life. What few satellite images the populace received always showed them to be shining like stars in a barren sea.
Again, what made Baltimore particularly interesting was it was home to two people widely credited with making all the previously listed possible. The witch and the soldier, two icons of human resistance were commonly spotted throughout the city, either leaving for missions or tending to family life as they were now.
Shutting the door once the last of the cargo was inside Kyle slid back against the doorframe exhausted by the sheer cold he'd endured. "You guys weren't followed were you? I don't want to look out the window and see a news van watching me practicing in my room or worse bugging me."
"Last time it was you they tailed home for Thanksgiving." Selena shot back already unloading most of the groceries. "Sorry little brother, but you're still the clumsy one."
"Least I haven't broken anything around here." The younger sibling huffed joining his sister in the kitchen where he began helping out while their parents got undressed.
"So how was the trip?"
"You know I think next time you should go out with me, you know do the whole family shopping thing again." The blond laughed placing his coat along with hers on the hanger.
"I already went with you when we went shopping for a tree." She playfully fired back moving towards the living room where their family tree sat. A short number of steps later and she was standing before the five foot tall heavily decorated tree topped with an all-too real ball of light that literally hummed with luminous energy. Her personal finishing touch she'd added when they'd set up everything up.
"I never get tired of seeing that you know." Came the voice of the husband followed by the warm feel of one of his arms draping themselves around her shoulders. What tipped their tree was only a small display of the mundane uses of Alicia's magic. He never got tired of telling her how happy he was she found a way to make use of her magic in everyday life despite her continued insistence it wasn't meant to be used for such things. "You know if the neighbors could see this they'd be pretty jealous." Maxwell said placing a kiss on her forehead.
"Why do you think I keep the light so dim? The last thing I want is someone else calling us something stupid like the Magic or Weird Cougars." The witch joked.
"I'm still trying to find the guy responsible for giving us that stupid nickname." Huffed the blond.
"Uh, didn't we ask you two not to do that sort of thing in front of us?" Called their oldest causing the parents to break into laughter. "I mean come on, we're just barely two rooms away."
"What? You're not interesting in maybe having another younger sibling?" Maxwell laughed much to his daughter's annoyance.
"Another Kyle to look after? No thanks dad, I'll just take my telescope for Christmas and call it even."
"I'm not sure the house could handle another Selena running around." Kyle offered beside her.
"Okay, okay, I suppose having you two around is more than enough." The dark-haired woman waved off having teased her children enough. "Don't you two have some Christmas party you have to get to by eight?"
"We do, we just wanna make sure you two will be okay while we're gone." Kyle blurted out before his sister could stop him.
"Make sure we were okay?" Maxwell questioned with a raised eyebrow. Seeing the shame on the faces of his kids gave him a clue what was running through their heads. Sometimes he forgot they weren't a normal family, even if during this one time of the year they gave it their best effort to be such a thing. Sharing a smile with his face he walked over and pulled both his children into a family hug. "Get a move on you two, I promise if some crazy nutcase with a cross or demon comes knocking your parents will be able to defend themselves without you two here backing them up."
"Remember we were able to handle ourselves before you two showed up." Alicia added running her hands through Kyle's dark green hair so much like her own. "We can do for a few hours without you."
Pulling away the two returned their parents' smiles before taking off to their rooms upstairs to get ready.
"I was always scared of when they'd reached this age." Maxwell sighed running hand over his still spiky hair. Not even winning the war had been enough to get the soldier to properly groom it like a man who wasn't living under constant warfare. Since the military itself was still only half way back to being put together he was able to get away with it, that and being such a high ranking officer he could ignore the pre-apocalypse regulations.
"You're speaking too soon Maxwell." Alicia chided him spinning on her heel with a smile on her face. "Wait until they turn sixteen. Wait until Selena starts bringing home boys."
"They won't happen." The veteran soldier deadpanned.
"Who knows, she may meet someone at this party she's going to. She could be asking to spend Christmas with someone or ask us to let someone spend Christmas with us." The witch added enjoying the dread mounting on her husband's face.
"I think I liked you better when you were near emotionless and couldn't tell a joke for crap."
"Would you rather I go back to being that person?"
In one swift move Maxwell wrapped his muscular arms around the witch and rested his chin on top her beautiful pine-green hair. "Not for all the world sweetheart."
"Okay we're gone!" Came Selena's voice.
"We'll be back before eleven!" Kyle proclaimed before the door sounded shut leaving the two parents alone in the living room.
As the snow crutched beneath their footsteps the siblings looked up to the gray sky which continued depositing frozen moisture across the already whiten city. "Do you seriously think we'll be having a little brother or sister?" Kyle off handedly asked keeping his eyes to the sky. "I mean I seriously wouldn't mind if it made mom or dad happy."
"It's not like space is an issue for us, either way I don't see it happening." Selena answered for her brother.
"Did you look into the future or is that just you guessing?" he asked with a grin.
"Who knows? Who cares? I don't just as long as we get to spend this Christmas together." The older of the two responded with a short laugh.
It was often said Selena and Kyle were gender-swapped clones of their parents, given how they looked there was quite a backing to that. Save for her blonde hair and eyes many had said Selena truly was a miniature Alicia right down to her magical abilities. Yes, like her mother she was a witch, one who was already capable of casting magic spells though not on the same scale as her mother. Between her slaying of the Omega and her marriage to their father Alicia the Bullet Witch had become a feared yet adored woman known the world over. She'd fought and defeated demons that had brought humanity to its knees, not always walking away unscathed, but living none the less to tell the tale and repeat the feat. Selena had been told a great deal of her mother's magical power had passed onto her when she was born, only time would tell if she would rise to the same level of awesome power as her mother did. Frankly she didn't care too much as all she did care about was living the happy kind of life her mother had been denied before she met her father. Magic, demons, and saving the world, she cared little for all of it. Perhaps it wasn't surprising as she grew older she began to take more after her mother in personality, she was quiet and introspective. Only in the presence of her family and trusted others did she feel it was safe to let her guard down and be herself. In that regard she greatly resembled her mother before and after she met her father. Beyond that Alicia had told her she took after her side of the family upon discovering her daughter's love of history.
On the other side Kyle well and truly was a miniature Maxwell in terms of appearance. Unlike his sister he hadn't been born with the powers of a witch, or a warlock to be precise. No, his sister had taken most of their mother's magic powers when she was born. Kyle had been…given something different, something that made him not quite human. Yes his power had come from his mother as well, but it did not make him a magic user, at least not one in the traditional sense. The older he got the more aware of that fact his family became; however, they never stopped loving him for who he was in their eyes and that was what mattered. Despite being fourteen he already had a rather muscular physique that would one day be comparable to his father. As Selena followed their mother in personality and general mindset he did their father, at least most of the time. Between the two of them he was much more social and hands on with matters. If one were to say Selena was the brains then he was the brawns, and quite proud of it.
Regardless of who they took after both children had inherited their parents will and fortitude in the face of adversity. Thankfully it was something that had been gradually installed in them rather than beaten into them by the harsh environments their parents had been forced into. Both of them were also deathly protective of both parents, a fact many a demon and human had learned years earlier. Darkness had put it best when their abilities began manifesting, Selena would make a fine witch and Kyle would make a fine idiot soldier.
All of that would come later though, for tonight they were simply two kids enjoying their Christmas Eve as best they could.
"Hey Kyle, have you already got your present for mom and dad yet?" Selena asked waiting for the light to change allowing them to cross the street.
"Yeah, but I have a feeling you've got something else in mind." He answered looking at his sister with a grin. "How good's your teleportation spell?"
"Good enough we can beat the clock." She answered back returning her brother's smile.
Since their first year together Alicia always knew staring at the photos over the fireplace made her tear up even when she used all her willpower to stop herself. No matter what she did it was always a losing battle. Sixteen years ago she never would have pictured herself here or believed any of the images in the photos framed before her could be real. Some of them yes, but many of them she never believed in her wildest dreams could happen, yet the undeniable proof sated her right in the face.
A wedding photo of her in a pure white gown in the arms of a suit-wearing Maxwell. Every detail of that day had been burned into her mind just as much as the day she died as a human albeit for entirely separate reasons. The only thing either event had in common was both had been major turning points in the lives of the Bullet Witch, one signaling her birth as the Demon Slayer…and the other as Alicia Cougar. Subconsciously she found herself lightly rubbing the gold band around her finger that Maxwell had placed on her finger. It was proof she'd not only found a connection to her previously lost humanity, but someone who'd stay beside her until death to remind her of it. Moving on from the wedding photo were a few others, some of battlefields, some with friends and allies they'd made, and one or two with them standing in front of their current house. After that came the one of her holding a newborn Selena in her arms, and after that of her and Kyle mere moments after he'd entered the scared world.
Tears cascaded down her flawless skin just as surely as rain slid off the leaves of trees and flowers. What were the tears for? Joy that the life she'd thought would be forever denied to her was now playing out before her eyes? Anger at what it had taken for her to arrive at this point? Over one billion people dead? A world forever scarred by the Geist? Her father? The fact her father couldn't be here to see his daughter happy and laughing or smiling with his grandchildren? Every year she looked at his photos and emotions good and evil battled inside of her until she felt as if her entire being was going to unravel right there.
However each time that happened the same warmth always came. A pair of strong firm arms wrapped around her and brought her close while a cool breath scented over her. Immediately she'd close her arms around this person who'd brought light back into her dark world and cry into his shoulders. He was her rock and her light to which she was forever grateful for.
"I-I'm…I'm sorry I make you do this every year." She whispered into Maxwell's shoulders.
"Don't be," The soldier offered holding his wife close as if she was going to disappear any second. "God knows if anyone deserves a time to cry and breakdown it's you Alicia, I just refuse to let you do it alone." He may not have been the sharpest person around when it came to deciphering people's feelings, but Alicia was a special case. At first he believed it was because her powers were keeping her humanity suppressed until he released she was the on doing the suppressing. Feelings she'd been so disconnected to he could see clearly and wanted her to see as well. "You can cry as many times as you want to, because I'll be here to wipe away your tears." The blond smiled pulling back so they were face to face.
The line was incredibly corny and cliché, but that was what Alicia loved about Maxwell. Mostly because she knew it was true. What Selena and Kyle didn't know yet were all the hurdles and dangers their father had gone through for her. He was a simple human who'd walked through demons and hell for her, and that was why out of all the men and hunters she'd met on her crusade she chose to give her heart to him. Looking back Alicia believed it was that Christmas so many years ago when she first began falling for him. The same snow globe she'd made for him sat quietly on one of the shelves still working in perfect condition while up in their closet hung the same army jacket he'd given her. Something they'd each given from the heart.
"Thank you Maxwell." She laughed before eagerly pressing her lips against his.
"Ya know we haven't put any mistletoe up…" Seeing Alicia's sly grin caused the soldier to look up to see a string of mistletoe magically suspended in the air above their heads. "The perks of having a witch for a wife." He chuckled to himself before resuming the kiss with his wife.
Almost five minutes later Selena and Kyle returned covered from head to toe in drying snow. Perhaps it was their fledging sixth sense or their ability to read the mood, regardless they immediately homed in on their parents. The parents gleefully embraced their children and listened intently to their stories with keen interest.
"Hey mom, dad" Kyle asked pulling away from his parents if only for a moment. "There's a question Selena and I have been wanting to ask you for a while."
"What's up with the snow globe on the shelf over there?" The blonde female asked pointing to the magically-created object sitting on the couch where their parents had left it.
The soldier and the witch laughed as if their children had just told a rather telling joke. Alicia told them to change out of their clothes and join them in the living room for the story of the snow globe. Catching the twinkle in their eyes the two did as instructed and disappeared upstairs.
"So," Maxwell began. "What exactly do we tell them?"
"That sometimes, just sometimes Christmas miracles can happen." Alicia giggled holding the precious fusion of glass and metal in her hand. "Or for us, one did."
He had lived for eons and during that time he had witnessed few things that could be called miracles. Of those few half had turned out to be nothing but fate pulling a cruel prank. It was one of the many reasons he was so cynical of everything and everyone in this world, he's seen the evil and horror through the eyes of many leaving him too bitter and broken to believe in such things as miracles. That being said he could admit he was capable of being proven wrong, Alicia had done so and to a lesser extent so too had humanity. His opinion of the human race hadn't greatly changed, they were still a pathetic band of wrenches and weaklings at the mercy of powers greater than themselves. They did however possess a backbone that surprised even him when pushed for enough. Alicia had shown him when given the chance they could fight back with a fury that startled even the lords of the Geist Army long enough for their heads to roll.
From what he had seen when they started their crusade against the demons to where he was now it almost qualified as a miracle. The fight wasn't finished by a longshot, they still had work to do and sooner or later Darkness was going to have to remind Alicia of that. That time would come…after she'd enjoyed her life as a human, if it was only for this one night.
What did you give them this one night for? He questioned the stars every Christmas as he surveyed whatever landscape they'd found themselves in. Over the past ten years he'd slowly come to find the answer. Though lacking a physical body Darkness could still hear, smell, see, and feel everything around him as if he were a physical entity in the world. He could become one if he wanted to, but had chosen against it. For the past ten years he'd anchored his presence to this house, this seemingly normal little hut in a great city still rebuilding itself. Below him celebrated the family of four, her partner, her mate, and their offspring.
He was their silent guardian every year, their vanguard against any who'd take this opportunity to attack when their guard was done. No matter how many times he chastised Alicia the results were the same so he eventually gave up. There had been some benefits, such as the sounds of joy and laughter. In this world he'd come to believe such things were rare, and from certain people even rarer.
For him to hear such sounds coming from Alicia-that were enough to make him believe in miracles. What was playing out beneath him was a miracle, if only a small one, yet it was one he'd cherish right up until the end. When the time comes Alicia…you will have regained all that you have lost. For that…I suppose…I am grateful.
Overly optimistic and full of fluff, I get that way this time of the year, especially when the year in question has been extremely hectic and long. Happy Holidays readers!