The Godawful Conclusion,
brought to you by two least responsible guys you know,
who were somehow entrusted with wrapping this whole thing up and having it make sense.
-a short story-
brought to you by two least responsible guys you know,
who were somehow entrusted with wrapping this whole thing up and having it make sense.
-a short story-
Christina couldn't help it. Nervous energy maybe, the lightheaded feeling whiskey had put in her head, all this magic surrounding her, the curly-haired beauty of a stranger beside her... she reached out and grabbed his hand. This was going to work out okay, she was sure of it. The world, as messed as up it currently was -- Santa Claus tied up, elves asked to give up their imagination, and good god, the usual holiday horrors beside -- was still a place of beauty, a place of strange heroes who'd rush to the rescue of another, a place of magically refilling whiskey and wow, of gorgeous men... it made her head spin. Between Hubert and Cupid and her Nick... but she was getting distracted from the task at hand. Back to business, she told herself.
"So, Cupid. What's the plan here? You just gonna shoot a bunch of them arrows and make us all believe in love again?" Even as she said the words, Christina realized he didn't need his arrows. Even as she made the realization, she felt that fluttery feeling and Cupid was leaning in and they were kissing and ohmygodwhere'dthatcomefrom, but it was good, he was a good kisser (duh, Christina, she thought, he's Cupid...), and possibility was everyone, good god the magic of it all. Winter was melting, spring flowers all a-blooming and birds a-chiring and rabbits a-hopping and she could feel the trees stretching in the warm April sun, knew the joy of deers frolicking, felt the magic of the warm, clean light. Time stood still. It was one kiss or an hour, a minute or day. She had no idea. She had no idea what had just happened, but she liked it, absolutely loved the way it felt. If this was going to happen every Christmas... well, she'd get to like the cursed holiday season.
She opened her eyes. Was clearly dreaming. Closed and opened her eyes again. Maybe she was going mad. Pinched herself. Nope, it was really there. The frozen white had disappeared: flowers were everywhere. Birds chirping, bunnies hopping, deer frolicking. And, as if that wasn't a strange enough scene, people and animals had magically appeared all around them. Christina spotted a giant groundhog (Puxatawney Phil, she imagined), a guy with two faces, some dude wearing a norse helmet... all sorts of Holiday Heroes, she imagined, all of whom... had been captured by Mother Nature, perhaps? Her head was spinning, and she didn't figure it was just the kiss.
She turned to Cupid, all questions. "What happened?" He smiled gently, and Christina had the distinct feeling that he was talking to her as if talking to a small child, but she no longer cared.
"You believed in the possibility of love again, and what love is capable of. That was enough. Mother Nature was counting on your doubt, but she bet wrong."
Christina scanned the crowd once more. There were so many of them! She saw one she recognized.
"Special Agent Bryson." Hubert was cool, collected, but even so, Christina could feel herself blush under his even gaze. "I don't think I've ever been more relieved to two people than I am to see the two of you right now," he said, standing erect with a little bounce, trying out his newly thawed legs. "Cupid, by Jove, I am glad you could make it! I see the others are starting to come around. Between the lot of us, I believe we can rally and take Mother Nature by surprise. We've got to hurry though -- she still has Nick prisoner, and there's no telling what she plans to do with him."
"Last we saw him, she had him tied up and was feeding him milk and cookies," Christina said.
"Or, she was, before Patty waltzed in and started schmoozing her..."
Hubert blinked once, twice, and wiggled his nose in distaste. "Did you say Patty? As in Saint Patrick?"
"Well...yeah. He's a Holiday Hero, right? One of you guys?"
Cupid shuffled his feet and looked at the ground. "Um..."
"He is," Hubert sniffed, "and his holiday is celebrated here in America, but he spends most of his time in his native Emerald Isle, when he isn't raising a ruckus with his rather...unsavory friend from the continent. Tell me, Special Agent Bryson, did you happen to arrive on a boat?"
hristina started. "We did -- Patty's boat."
"Hmph. He'll be arriving on a boat too -- it's his way, the cad." Hubert turned to the tattered remnants of his holiday assault force. "T! Abe! Get it together! We've got to rescue Nick before his brother upstages us!"
His brother? Christina wondered.
"I pity the fool who thinks he can rescue Christmas better than T!" growled an enraged Cap'n Kwanzaa. Beside him, Abe's stovepipe hat seemed to be quivering with similar rage.
"Come on then -- let's go!" His nunchuck raised, Lincoln led the charge back towards the house, followed closely by Mr T. Hubert Hare bounded after them both, and Christina reflexively drew her pistol as she ran to catch up with Cupid, who was joining the charge.
"Hey -- hey Cupid! Nick has a brother? What's this all about?"
Looking over at her as he ran, Cupid quickly explained, "Before there was your American Santa Claus, there was Nick's big brother, who still does a little work in Europe, though he's mostly been retired for years in pursuit of his new career."
"And Hubert doesn't like him? What's the story?"
Cupid sighed. "Just a little bit of holiday rivalry, I'm afraid. Hubert has never been fond of the flamboyance of his European cousins. Ah...I think you're about to see what I'm talking about."
Dead ahead of them was the big picture window of the lake house; inside Patty and Mother Nature seemed to have gotten even closer, Nick almost completely ignored by the two of them in his chair. Patty leaned in for a kiss, taking the swooning Mother Nature in his arms and leaning her back....
...and then all hell broke loose.
A white horse kicked open the front door of the house, directly opposite the window, and in rode what looked like an older version of Nick, clad in red robes, diamonds glittering from his robe and his pointed hat. Raising his hands over his head, he shouted "Sinterklaas aall up een the motherfuckin' haas!"
At the same time, a man in a red jumpsuit leapt out of the fireplace, wielding a long stick, "And Black Pete got yo' back! You'd best check yo'self before you wreck yo'self, Mother Nature!"
A heartbeat later, and Mr T and Abe Lincoln crashed through the window and into the house. "REPRESENT!" Cupid and Hubert bounded in after them, Christina arriving last, and she briefly considered raising her gun and telling Mother Nature she was under arrest before realizing that might be the most ridiculous thing uttered so far that evening. And that's saying something.
Mother Nature, startled, tried to extract herself from the magic of St Patty's Irish kiss, raising her hands in the air as she prepared to summon another freezing winter storm, but found that between Patrick's kissing prowess and his bottomless flask of whiskey she wasn't quite able to get it together. "M-m-m-monkeys!" she cried, finally freeing her mouth long enough to call for back up. "Monkeys! To me!"
"You mean my monkeys, don't you, my pretty?" said a new voice. Christina turned and saw one of the most astounding things she'd seen yet: a tall green-skinned woman in a pointed black hat, riding a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer into the room from the far end.
"How the hell do you get a sleigh and eight reindeer into this house?" Hubert mumbled under his breath.
"Artistic license, man," Cupid whispered back. "You've got two drunk guys writing this story. Just go with it."
The flying monkeys flocked back into the house then, seemingly all at once, their terrible wings beating the winter air. Recognizing their true mistress, they ignored the other occupants of the house and roosted at the room's far end, where they chattered to themselves and calmly cleaned one another's feathers.
Finally recognizing that she was thoroughly outmatched, Mother Nature slumped in Saint Patrick's arms. Christina thought she looked very small then, not at all like someone capable of flooding a city or causing a blizzard. "Easy there, lass, it's over now," St Patty said, holding her firmly.
"So, does someone want to catch me up on what's going on?" Christina said.
"We heard ye were having a spot o' trouble on this side of the Atlantic," St Patty said, "so I called up me drinking partner, the original Santa Claus, and we got in his boat and set out from Spain to come see if we could lend a hand. We hatched a simple plan: I'd go in first and distract Mother Nature with me smooth-talkin' and me charms, while Sinterklaas and Black Pete here made their move."
Hubert looked incensed. "Oh, with your charms? Lucky, that's all you are."
Saint Patrick shrugged. "I knew she'd kiss me, I'm Irish."
Nick chimed in. "It was a great plan. Now I think we're at the part of the plan where you untie me."
Christina looked up at the figure seated on the back of the white horse, resplendent in his red robes and a ridiculous amount of bling. "The original Santa Claus? From Spain?"
"It's where I live these days. I only work the Netherlands anymore along with my partner, Black Pete."
She was having trouble tying it all together. "Sinterklaas, if you're the badass Christmas hero you say you are, how come Nick gets all the Christmas glory? I don't understand how you'd be able to just sit back so idly."
The red-robed giant just laughed. "Oh, Christinaa, how little you know! Nick is my little brother. I gave up the business becaause he waas eager for it, but also so I could go baack to raap."
Hubert recognized her confusion. "Sinterklaas is also known as Dutch rap sensastion, Vaanilla Ice to some."
Sinterklaas / Vaanila Ice nodded. "Yeaah. My paal Flaavaa Flaav and I aare working on a new, how you say, collaaboraative work? He loves that word, Flaavaa Flav does, collaaboraative."
Christina nodded. Some things she was okay with not understanding. "Okay, so Wicked Witch... err, what'd you say your name was again?"
Her voice was velvety smooth. "Silvia. I never told you what it was before. You never asked. As usual, you ignored the 'Witch.' Everyone does, you know. Ignore me. Maybe because they're afraid, maybe because they think I'm evil."
"Hey, you know who else is totally being ignored right now?" said Nick, struggling against his binds. "Me."
"Whoah, I never said anything like that," Christina said, holding up her hands. She really needed some more of that magic whiskey, or even some of the cheap kind. This was all a little much. "I'm just trying to figure out how you tie in with all this-- with Christmas, and Nick, and Mother Natu-"
Silvia raged. Nostrils flared, her face went hard and angry. "That bitch!" She was spitting words now. "As if forever rubbing in what a fool Dane was wasn't enough, she had to steal my effing monkeys, too."
Seeing the puzzlement on Christina's face, Sinterklaas explained. "Dane Cook -- the Aapril Fool -- waas Silvia's son. Mother Nature and the Wicked Witch, excuse me, Silvia, are sisters. There may have been words a long while back... and none since, if you get my drift."
Silvia nodded, "Yeah, that temperamental bitch said that my failure of a son was a reflection on me. It's not enough that I always take the fall for her bullshit. Really, why do you think they call me the 'Wicked Witch?' It's all her damn doing."
"I should never have said that about you," Mother Nature said. She sighed, and slumped even further. "I was so in the wrong. Silvia, I'm so sorry."
Silvia stiffened. "And should I believe you? I don't get you at all, how you can go from being so temperamental and manic one moment to so passive and calm the next. Why do you do it? It's almost like you're two different people sometimes."
Mother Nature looked around, searching, meeting everyone's eyes, looking for understanding. She found it in Christina, who said, "I think I understand. You almost have to be, don't you? You do the weather over the whole of the Earth. It's winter here, and we're getting ready for the snow storms we expect in the Christmas season, but it's summer in Brisbane, clear skies in Buenos Aires."
"It's totally the Christmas season," Nick piped up. "The season where we untie Santa Claus so he can go do his job."
"You have to be one entire season in the northern hemisphere, and completely the opposite in the southern hemisphere," Christina went on, understanding beginning to dawn on her. "Having to keep up two entirely different seasons like that -- well, it's no wonder you can be so...bi-polar."
Mother Nature nodded, relieved that someone finally got it. The other Holiday Heroes looked on her with new eyes, taking in this simple revelation that should have been so obvious to them all.
Then they all grew silent as Silvia cleared her throat. "Look...sis. Dane was sort of a colossal dumbass. I don't blame you for not liking him. Maybe...maybe we can try starting over again, you and I. It's been a long time." She got very quiet then, and said, "A really, really long time."
"You know what else has been a long time?" Nick said. "The total amount of time I've spent tied up to this chair. To which I am still tied. Just sayin'."
"Yes," said Mother Nature. "I think I'd like that. Silvia."
"I think I'd like for someone to cut this Christmas ribbon now," said Nick. "In fact I can guarantee I'd like that."
"I think there's just one more thing I don't get, but...Silvia, why did you have Santa's sleigh and eight magic reindeer?"
"Oh, that. Well, you see, Nick took my broom out for a spin, and he broke it. He promised to bring me a new one for Christmas, but until then he loaned me his magic sleigh so I could still get to my Pilates class on Mondays and Wednesdays. He doesn't use his sleigh much in the off-season."
"And I will bring you one," Nick said. "It would be easier to go about doing so if, you know, someone could help me get out of this chair."
"A Nimbus 2000? You promised, Nick."
"I will. Say, maybe someone can grant Santa's wish this year, and untie me. How about that?"
"Yikes! Sorry about that, partner." Christina holstered her pistol and moved to start untying the knots that bound Nick to his chair. He shook off the Christmas ribbon as she loosed him, and stood up, slowly, staring at Mother Nature.
"Sorry about that, Nick."
He held his breath, about to say something, and then let it out in a long exhale. "Oh, fine. I mean, it wouldn't exactly be in the Christmas spirit of me to hold a grudge, would it? Let's just move on, and focus on what's important: Christmas is coming." He looked up at his older brother, still seated on the back of his horse. "You're not wanting to take the franchise back, are you?"
"No, Nick, I gave thaat aall up a long time ago," said Sinterklaas. "You make a fine Saanta. Besides, I've got to go lay down some phaat traacks in the studio. I'm getting ready to release my next album, DutchyStyle."
"Okay." Nick looked down. "But if you wanted to stick around and help out..."
"I feel baad for you, son, but I gots ninety-nine problems and your Christmaas ain't one."
"Look, I can manage," Nick said heatedly, "but maybe you just want to hang out sometime? I hardly see you anymore."
Sinterklaas nodded. "Why don't you come visit me in Spain aafter Christmaas, Nick? You caan bring your paartner Christinaa."
"Okay," Nick said. "It's a plan. I can make time for that. See you soon, bro."
"Take care, Nick." And with that Sinterklaas and Black Pete rode off, back to their boat.
Christina looked around, unsure of what was supposed to happen next. Nick had been saved,
Mother Nature had surrendered peacefully... "So, I guess that's a wrap?"
"Dear, you've given me my sister back. I know this is going to strange, especially because you know first-hand what a douchebag my son was -- and I'm sorry that you were subjected to that -- but, well, how would you feel about me adopting you as a daughter?"
Christina felt her face go blank. Of all the crazy things that'd happened, a witch asking to adopt her was not one she'd foreseen. But, as far as families went, she already felt closer to all these crazy heroes than she did her own folks back home. Ugh, Christmas, she thought, before catching herself.
"Silvia, I'd be honored." The not so wicked witch beamed. "Christina, thank you. Really, you have no idea how much it means. And that brings me to a second request." She paused, looking a little unsure of herself.
"Really, Silvia, please... just ask."
"Well, I was wondering if you'd like the April Fool position. We do need someone to fill it now. Of course, if you can't, or don't want to, I completely understand."
Christina blushed. "Really, I'm honored. But I don't think the FBI would be to happy if one of their agents was also the April Fool. We have enough trouble getting good press as is. Thank you, though."
"I understand, of course, dear. Thank you for considering it."
Hubert spoke up. "You know, of course, that there are privileges that go along with saving Christmas. You are of course an honorary member of the Holiday Heroes now."
Reading Christina's face, he continued. "And no, you can't argue that. Just take better care of Nick, okay?"
Christina felt Nick's eyes on her, and under that steady gaze, her cheeks growing warm. There were worse jobs, she was sure. "Yeah, I can handle that."
She looked at the group assembled. "Thank you all for your help. I'm glad to have Nick back, and it wouldn't have happened without you." She hooked her arm through Nick's, and started
walking him towards his sleigh. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a duty to make sure Santa Claus gets home safely in time for Christmas."
...and that's the entirely true tale of how Special Agent Christina Bryson saved Christmas. In her honor, we hope you will all drink copious amounts of whiskey this year, and wake up with a hearty holiday hangover this Christmas season.