A/N: Meh. School is the modern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. I'm not sure how that fits as an analogy, but deal with it. XP Lol. Thank you so much to everybody who's still supporting me:
Rajat Ravi: Aw, thank you! –glomps- Thank you thank you!
Sarah the Insane: Lol! I know…except Kaethe either didn't want to bring attention to it, or thought (thinks) Saber lacked/lacks tear ducts, so dismissed it as her imagination…thank you for your review!!!
Wabibito: Yes, but lurking is also a form of torture for writers who LIVE on reviews…whose very fruit of life IS reviews…Haha. …Oh. 00 Wow. I really haven't updated in a long, long time, have I? Lol. Coffee and sugar…I so need that in the morning. But I like long reviews! Hehe. Thank you!
Dee Deity: Haha!! –laughs head off- Realistic? My stories?? My poor protagonist is stranded in the North Pole surrounded by Christmas-obsessed elves…realistic, huh? Lol. Thank you for the compliments, though; seriously. –huggles-
Ridley Jack: Thank you. I had fun with that, lol…Oh my gosh, that's great. Yeah…I don't know. I can't understand some people's need to clean, either, but what the hell. Oh, gosh, it's okay…I'm a terrible updater, and I freely admit it. –pauses- Of course, it probably doesn't help that I have, like, two other stories I work on updating…haha. True. I do have more of a life now, but also homework. –wails- I want to go back to 8th grade! And writer's block sucks. It takes me, like, a month and a week to write up ONE chapter. ONE. Ugh. Ah well. –blushes- It's so crazy to get that compliment…and…gah. At loss for words. –huge huggle- Thank you so much!
Riku E. Fallon: I know! I want Spin as a mother. Except it's very odd, picturing her as a mother…still, I'm adjusting to it, lol! Yay! I'm glad that Kaethe is, well, cooler now. And…thank you. –head reels- Too many compliments coming from all directions…impossible to dodge…aah! -head swells and explodes- Yup. Cause of death, right there. Ahahahaha!! That's a great image…a rather disturbing one, too, but I'm updating now! (Uck. Try six chapters in nine months…ew.) Oh my gawd…where did my cool Jared go? -frantically digs- Poor guy…he's, like, the butt of everybody's jokes now…I almost feel sorry for him. Maybe I'll make him a little cooler in chapter 7, whenever my muse decides to fart it out. (um. I'm sorry; I can be vulgar sometimes.) Oh, when I said 'pre-written' I meant that I had bits of it written out, and all I had to do was somehow squish it into the chapter. And currently training to survive those pitbulls. Lol! Thank you so much for your lovely review!
Thea Lowe: -grins- Thank you…Kaethe's quite a fun character to write, and I loff her. Thanks for your review!
Liv-star: Lurker: Lurk-er n. 1. One of those evil under-the-skin pimples that will lurk in a reddish sort of way for the next couple of years despite all attempts to incarcerate it.
2. The lowest of the low; the people who never bother to leave even one review after reading a story that is written not for profit, but for the author's enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. –growls- Those little buttheads.
Haha Lol. And that, my dear, is the definition of a lurker. And you are not one. –huggles- hehe. And I'm glad you liked my way of describing "the inner Saber" (if, you know, there is one, because we're still not quite sure…XD). Yeah, I guess it's sort of a metaphor, but I was also kind of making fun of the way people always have to reveal someone's "inner self". But yeah. Thank you so, so much!!!
Amaris Luclin: -hands up in the air- Yay! Review day is fun because I like reviews. (Obviously.) Lol. Aaaw, thank you. Meh. I don't know what to say, because your review is so complimentary and I do really badly with compliments. –pops ego balloon- Thank you thank you thank you!!
Fireworks in a back pocket: At least, I think that's your name…fictionpress kind of cut off the rest of it. : ) Thank you for your review!
Tomato-greens: Ah, yes. And my very, very awful humor strikes again. I think I'm slightly obsessed with using the idea of aliens as a means of humor…And…wow. –glomps- You have no idea how flattering that is. That you like my characters, I mean, and that you like the fact that this story is absurd, and…just, thanks. –superflyingtacklepounce- Thank you so much…it means a million.
Vampyresse: Oh, you ain't seen nothing yet. –cackles- Ehehe. Yeah. Odd. I'm the poster child, right here. Yeah. I'm awful at grammar if I'm in a rush, and then I often forget to go back and recheck, which is probably very…bad…of me. As for the made-up words…yeah. There're kind of a lot of those. I mean, they're fine when you're doing it from first-person point of view, and then you have the excuse that it's the character talking, but in third-person it's a bit more problematic. Haha. Oh, wow, are you kidding me? The crap I'm writing? It is crap, but I guess some people see it differently. Lol. Thank you so much for your review!!
Para Noya: -snatches cookie- Thank you so much! And I'm glad you like my stories…;D It's always nice to hear that, lol.
Eolandella: Aw, thanks so much!
Startrekempress: Will fix that immediately. Now, in fact. –fixes- Thank you! And, um…yeah. This story is so not going to be finished by this Christmas. Next Christmas maybe. Augh, I am such a terrible updater…But thank you!!!
Rah! I love you guys. Muah. Hershey kisses to all of you.
"Get the hell off me, woman."
Saber cursed the streak of competitiveness that quite literally raced throughout his family's genes—and, apparently, Kaethe's as well. What kind of scary Vikings had to have given birth to the character that was the human? It was entirely plausible that Kaethe had been the product of some sick brat's test-tube experiment.
Augh, nasty visual.
Frankly, though, Pictionary was not a game to get so competitive about that one would stay up to unseemly hours simply to even out the score, and then fall asleep while in the middle of creating a lovely, anatomically superb diagram of pantyhose.
The woman currently digging her abnormally pointy elbow into his inner intestines yawned.
The abnormally pointy elbow just traveled considerably lower.
"Off! Woman! Now!" Saber choked with flailing limbs, helplessly and somewhat pointlessly batting at the appendage currently cutting off circulation to his Very Tender Bits. "Oh my Gooood, I think you've killed me…"
"Whuh?" A very sleepy human subtly changed her position.
"Mn?" A few feet away from him, his mother had woken up. "Who's that? Good morning, whoever you are." Blessed be, but his mother was a morning person. "Jared? Get up or I'll make you coffee."
"I hate you." And up comes our lovely morning daisy. For a moment Saber was distracted from his (frankly, quite excruciating) pain. Said morning daisy groaned and fell back on the couch and…giggled. "No, I don't. I loff yooouuu." Jared reached over and, to Saber's disbelieving eyes, patted Spin's bum.
Oh yuck oh yuck oh yuck. They couldn't do the nasty while their son was right there. No kissing, no touchies, no displays of affection in front of the product of their loins because while Saber was 22 and had been the receiver of many touchies in the past couple of years, it was quite a different thing when your parents proved that yes, in fact, they had married each other for love and that yes, indeed, there had been some squeaky bed springs when their children were made. What was that? No, Saber, of course you weren't made in a test tube.
It was beginning to look like the better option as his parents started kissing each other—oh, thank the lord, no tongue action.
"Help. Me." Saber squeaked as Kaethe dug her elbow in even harder, cemented its position, ground it (painfully) into the area to make it more comfortable for her damn arm and snuggled (snuggled, like he was some overgrown teddybear, a vestige of days when she was as young and innocent as she had ever been) into his stomach. She smelled rather odd…an unpleasant odd, for she hadn't taken a bath or shower in the past two days, had she? "Oh goddy god god, darling God, lovely God—if You are a woman, please find it in your lovely, feminine heart to take pity on me and if You are a man You'd better as hell sympathize with me and if You are an asexual being then I feel sorry for you—I promise I will take responsibility for that brick incident if you will only let this woman get off me—OH GOD!"
The Spawn of Satan cooed and, without delay, slammed her fist into his crotch.
His eyes rolled up to the back of his head and Saber promptly passed out.
Altogether, Kaethe had to conclude that Spin wasn't a very sympathetic mother. Of course, it might also be said that Spin simply found the ridiculous in almost every situation—even in the fact that her son might not be able to produce children anymore.
On second thought…
No. No, that was very mean and ill-natured of her! Everybody should have the choice to spread around their DNA (without leaving STDs or HIVs), mix it in the gene pool, leave something for the next generation.
"Oh, God, Saber? Are you all right? Saber?"
Experimentally, Kaethe tapped his cheek and noted that he needed a shave. Finding that it didn't work, she hit him a little harder.
Just a little harder.
She settled back on her knees, feeling a small measure of relief that she wasn't responsible for his death, and an overwhelming amount of disappointment that Saber was awake again. "Are you all right?"
"You just brained me! And cut off all possible circulation to my balls! Of course I'm not all right, you…you…" He sucked in a deep breath; Kaethe got the impression that he was readying himself for fire as a ship lets loose her sails to catch the wind. "You…hussy! You scheming, deliberately malevolent harpy! You murderer of infant animals; inhaler of far too much of the precious oxygen on our planet!" Another deep breath. "You…you…you castrator."
Kaethe's jaw dropped open. "Am I to believe that you are this furious with me because while I was asleep, I accidentally hurt your precious dick?"
"Of course I'm furious." He hissed. "You nearly killed me. With the death of this precious organ comes the death of me. And your language is revolting."
"And you resemble a 19th century dandy who spends far too much time with his grandmother. What, don't you swear? Or does it hurt your precious ears to hear it?"
"Shoe's on the other foot, bitch."
"To be quite honest with you, Kaethe, you don't sound like an Ivy-league student. I wasn't aware that they had a vocabulary permanently speckled with expletives."
"Oh, no. It's only the ones who don't constantly feel the need to demonstrate how intelligent they are that swear. We're a special breed."
On the couch, Spin and Jared had raised their heads, interested in the situation at hand, and silently stifling laughter. "Aw, they're so cute." Spin snickered.
"They're this close to murdering each other."
"But aaw, they're so cute."
"Like dogs?" Saber continued in reply to Kaethe's earlier comment.
"And I repeat—you're a bitch." It was very interesting how once the juices started flowing, they didn't stop. Every since Kaethe had met—or, you know, encountered—Saber, her language had steadily deteriorated until sooner or later she wouldn't be able to go out into polite society any more. On the bright side, it might mean that she would be able to avoid her grandmother more and more often.
A muscle in Saber's jaw twitched. Kaethe's eyes narrowed.
And they looked at each other. Kaethe glared at Saber as he stared right back, both willing the other to run away or suffocate on the spot or somehow lose the contest, but abruptly…abruptly, Saber's mouth started twitching.
"You're not bad, you know."
"Thanks." She shot back in an aggressive tone, still convinced that he was trying to insult her.
A funny snorting noise was Kaethe's only warning before Saber erupted into chortling, hysterical glee. He threw his head back and leaned back on his hands, faced the ceiling and abruptly closing his eyes when they encountered the bright ceiling lights overhead. Which only increased the guffaws that sent shudders of mirth coursing through him.
Somehow it was contagious.
She started snorting. And then snuffling. And then cackling with laughter so hard that she was forced to lean against Saber for support, promptly bowling him over as his muscles turned to jelly under the influence of laughter.
"AhahahACHOO!" Saber sneezed special elf snot all over her silly maid's outfit. And how bad was it that he found it the most amusing thing he'd ever seen in a long while?
"Ew! Ew! Eeew!" She shrieked, still hysterical, and rolled around on the carpet, trying to rub it off. "Oh my God, I just cleaned this carpet ahahahaha!"
"Sto-o-aha-op giggling! It's completely—ahaha—girlish—Hahahaha!"
It was all downhill from there.
Jared looked at his wife and raised an eyebrow, snorting when she tried to push the offending entity back down. "I think they've gotten over the dislike."
She sighed mournfully. "There's no hope for them anymore."
Quietly, the two elves slunk out of the room and clicked the door shut behind them, before heading back towards their rooms for a much needed bath.
It was probably a little unnatural that they had formed some odd connection only after she had caused him to pass out with pain, and he had insulted and degraded her to the point of insanity. Not to mention the small complications involving Kaethe's unwilling immigration to the North Pole, and the fact that 99 percent of the Towers still regarded her as an alien creature that people would pay big bucks to see through the bars of a cage.
"So you want the proper tour of the Towers now?"
"Yes, I want the proper tour of the Towers now." Kaethe said stubbornly. "And I want proper clothes. Now, if you please."
"Which would you rather have first?" Saber sighed. By now he'd decided that humans weren't abnormal—no, it was merely Kaethe's very abnormal lack of shame and her idea that if she asked firmly enough and pestered enough, she'd get what she wanted.
She could be a telemarketer.
"Clothes. Clothes would be nice. The shower was all very well, and I thank you kindly for it, but I'd rather not continue wearing your cast-offs. Surely you have some presents that I could wear?"
He gaped at her.
And continued gaping at her.
She looked rueful for a moment. "Oh. Right. Sorry to defame your religion…profession…obsession and stuff." The ruefulness vanished and was replaced by irritation again. "But I look like I just crawled out of your bed, wearing your boxers and your—absurdly tight and feminine—shirt. And it looks weird. I look weird. How can you not look weird wearing this?"
Throwing an injured look at her, Saber pouted. "I think I look adorable."
Growing quickly exasperated, and shooting a glance towards the quickly brightening sky, Kaethe shook her head. "Forget it. Can you at least show me around? Properly? Instead of that god-awful, cut-and-dry tour you gave me yesterday?"
Inwardly, Saber swore. He'd forgotten…the complications of kidnapping were many. "Kaethe…"
"Do you…at home…your parents…?"
"Oh." She shrugged unconcernedly, somehow catching his meaning. "They won't really know I'm gone. I don't really talk to them that much, except on Thanksgiving, and after that I tend to stay mad for about ten months."
"And your friends…?" He felt ridiculous. He wasn't a very good kidnapper at all.
She laughed shortly, her face clouding over for a small moment. "It's okay. I don't have too many of those—Work!"
"What?" He found he had instinctively moved towards his den, where most of the Santa-work documentation was completed.
"Work! I'm missing work! I can't miss work…I miss work and I get fired! Only they can't fire me if I'm not there…If I miss it…But if I'm not there, they will."
"I know." He almost felt…bad. "I'm just being an idiot. Uh…" Solutions. There had to be a solution. He had approximately five seconds before Kaethe got hysterical. Come on, solutions…for God's sake, he was a Christmas elf, son of Jared and Spin, thus he was a master at coming up with solutions and wriggling out of sticky situations. "Are you really so fond of this job?" Plaintively.
"Oh." Blast. "Are you willing to risk life and limb, to give up all and anything, to go through Hades and come back out for this job?"
"Ye—no. Not that much." She seemed a bit disappointed by this fact.
"Well, it's all set, then. You're a smart woman; you can get another job when our deal is done."
"And how do you suppose I explain my year-long absence?"
"I'll set up an illusion at your home—a distant cousin, let's say, who will tell everybody who comes a-knocking that you've gone to Europe for the year."
"Yes, Europe. Nobody cares what you do in Europe. When you're in Europe, you can happily vanish and nobody will do anything about it." He beamed before sniggering at his own joke.
Where was this so-called charm that Kaethe had heard elves whispering about while she dusted and mopped and aired and polished? She peered at Saber. All she could see was a rather self-centered, kind of dorky, clueless, lazy, sometimes-stammering, mostly-articulate-to-a-fault, two-faced man that had the oddest sense of humor she had ever come across.
He was very pretty, she admitted to herself. Quite literally pretty. It was a bit unnerving, and if he had been a girl Kaethe would have been overcome with jealousy.
"Can we start the tour, then?" she asked after a while.
Saber's laughing faded, and he grinned, holding out his arm. "But of course, ma'am. Come on…I promise I won't let you get hurt by the big, bad elf children. At times they are violent, especially towards dinner."
She suppressed a smile, determined not to encourage him, and tentatively placed her hand on his arm. Maybe that was the charm. His complete…oddity of behavior, combined with a general attractiveness of appearance, and coupled with a natural flair for the dramatic drew people in.
I could get used to this.
Until he bared his teeth at her, let out a whoop, let loose another freaky glowing ball, and zipped to at least 120 miles per hour with her still clinging onto his arm for dear, sweet life.
Or maybe not.
"What's it like, being a Christmas elf?"
Part of the real, down-and-gritty tour apparently entailed visiting the workshops, where all the presents were made through a combination of hands-on craftsmanship and magic. Kaethe didn't see a single machine in the entire room—which was saying quite a lot, as the room was the size of a small country. A very small country, to be sure, but a country nonetheless.
Oh, wait. There was an expresso machine off to the corner, where many de-caffeinated and weary elves lined up by the dozen.
"Being a Christmas elf?" He shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "I don't know. It's just…there."
"It's just like…a job, I guess. We don't really get personal with everything…it's just a race."
"Oh." It was a disappointing answer. It didn't reveal much of the life of a Christmas elf at all, and she wanted so very much to understand what was going on here.
"Uh…here." Saber grabbed her arm and dragged her forward. "I'll show you something."
He wasn't used to this sort of stuff. The becoming-of-friends was a strange turn of events for at least one of them—Saber, more prominently. He had never had a female acquaintance not related to him that was simply a friend, and nothing else. He had never had a friend, period, so he was quite new at the business.
Raice didn't count, as he was more like a brother. Hence Raice's guilt-free urge to run to tell Spin or Jared whenever Saber did something bad. Hence Raice's guilt-free hysterical laughter whenever Saber fell off the roof or stabbed himself with a letter-opener or got slapped by another girl.
Huh. Why was Saber so fond of Raice?
Kaethe, on the other hand, at least had pretentions towards beinga professional at making friends—Saber could somehow sense this in the easy, open way she dealt with people. She had dryly informed him beforehand that in her line of business, the ability to detect Bullshitters was one that had to have been acquired at a very young age, and she had been born with the talent, and he was not going to be able to get away with taking the cookie away from the cookie jar. Protesting, Saber had sniffily notified her that he was 100-percent natural. His innate talent was an ability to act natural. And he did have the most swoon-worthy sniffs.
According to the human girl, though, an ability to act natural was actually fake, as one can't possess the ability to act natural because it meant that the ability had in fact been developed, and naturally couldn't be developed or it wouldn't be natural at all.
Her logic puzzled him. It was like trying to untangle an ill-wound ball of yarn, and Saber wasn't particularly adept at knitting, embroidery, or anything else that involved needles and animal or plant hair or fiber products.
Which was exactly why at age 12, when he had ruined a shirt to fantastic proportions by cutting off a sleeve and messily sewing on various zips and buttons, he had been instead regaled to the ranks of vehicle mechanics.
Sadly enough, the ruined shirt had caught on and the fashion was brought back. Humans and their ridiculous lack of creativity.
"What? What're you going to show me? Is it something scary? Because I don't do well with scary stuff. I do very badly, in fact, and when my parents gave me a surprise 5th birthday party, I went into hysterics and they had to take me to the hospital because I was having trouble breathing."
He paused. "Seriously?"
He was momentarily distracted, especially when he realized that Kaethe's eyes were a startlingly bright shade of green as she looked at him mock-solemnly, but quickly recovered once the affect was spoiled by her yawning. It effectively blocked any glimpse of her eyes and made her face stretch out like a grotesque statue built by depressed medieval architects.
"Anyway," he cleared his throat, "I want to show you what you've been bugging me about for the past few days."
"Where the toilets are?"
"Just…I'm going to show you my Ice-glider."
"…Huh?" What was an Ice-glider? Was it like a Zamboni machine? Did Saber pave all the pathways with it to make the ice extra-slippery so he could laugh and point whenever someone fell down on it?
"It's…uh, it's the equivalent of your Porsche, only…it flies. Only about five meters max above the ground, but…" He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "It's, uh…it's nice."
"Okay." She grinned. It did sound lovely, and humans had always wanted to fly. "Tell me about it."
"Well, I made it myself, so there's a few extra stuff that the mainstream ones don't have…"
In the stables, the reindeer grew restless. Reindeer as a rule are not particularly attractive creatures. They weren't designed for the purposes of elegance, or to possess silhouettes with flowing lines that are further exaggerated by glowing moons in the background. They aren't very slender, or tall, or graceful.
When they're flying, though, they can look almost beautiful. They are the penguins of the North Pole.
Rudolph was the epitome of reindeer practicality. His body was short and stocky with a thick coat of wiry hair to retain the heat much needed in the frigid North Pole. His wide chest harbored powerful lungs used to alternatively suck in huge volumes of air while exercising, or to suck in huge volumes of air while bellowing grumpily at his companions and various elves that could understand him.
Elves which were few and far between, not only because when Rudolph lost his temper his words became a garbled, unintelligible mess, but simply because few people possessed the ability to communicate with the creatures. Besides, the reindeer kind of got a kick out of knowing that they could say anything they wanted to some people and they wouldn't even know.
"It's cold." Vixen whined, bringing her hoof down on the liberal amount of hay piled into her stall.
"No shit, Sherlock."
"Shut up, Rudolph! I'm freezing and you can't even dredge up the slightest bit of sympathy for me?"
"Stop whining and maybe I'll find it!"
She subsided, hurt.
"Both of you. Please. Be quiet." Comet muttered tiredly. "It's…well, I don't know what time it is, but it's late. Early. I don't. Care."
There was a moment of blessed silence for all, before Rudolph opened his mouth again. "Listen, though. I think I hear…I think I feel…"
"I have something to tell you!" Rudolph's big-muscled, smaller-brained cousin trampled in, roaring his ugly head off and lumbering in as if he was about to destroy the place with a big-ass nuke.
"What is it?"
This was a surprise. Rudolph hadn't seen his cousin in, oh, five years or so. Last time he'd seen Ralphoedo, members of the Reindeer Mafia had been shooting at him with odd guns specially configured for the opposable-thumbs-less reindeer. In fact, Ralphoedo still had a scar from his close encounter with a few of those nasty bullets.
"Abe." Ralphoedo growled. His eyes glowed rabidly.
Ah, Abe. Rudolph sucked in a breath. His nemesis of old. The dirty, two-faced, yellow-tailed…
"Who's Abe again?"
Someone had once asked her when her best Christmas had been. She hadn't answered, and had instead changed the subject to whatever trivial matter she had deemed best to discuss that day.
It wasn't because she hadn't ever had a good Christmas—far from it; for all her Christmases were always wonderful. The Fletchers were quite famous for their elaborate Christmases. No. It was because Kaethe simply couldn't choose.
Were her best Christmases from the years when she believed in Santa, and left a plate of cookies and milk in the living room just for him? (Overlooking the suspicious bag in the garbage can in the morning.) Those years, when the glitter and crystal of the holiday was still so new for her? Or had they been when she'd stop believing in Santa, and instead snickered her way through writing out lists to him and innocently telling her parents that yes, of course she still believed in Santa Claus, because how else would she get those extra parents?
She'd usually get what she wanted every year, that way, because her family got it for her because they loved her.
Loved her, love, love, loved her, left her, loved her, left right wrong right black white.
Sometimes she wished she still believed in Santa.
A/N: Done. Done done done done DONE, baby! Er…with this chapter. But it's close! Anyway, apologies for spectacularly bad writing where nothing really happens lack of plot. Yay. I'm not sure where I'm going with this…I think it might develop a plot eventually. I seriously need to get out of this weird phase where I concentrate too much on characters and not enough on plot, though.
Oh, and the end section? I think it was inspired from something else I've read…I'm not sure; I wrote that end bit a while ago and I can't remember what I borrowed what from. Just as a little disclaimer…
Anyway, thanks so much for reading and reviewing! You guys are my ROCK and I will love you FOREVER! Gah. I'm beginning to give up on this, but I love the characters too much to let them go, so…I'm not making sense. –scratches head- Eh, whatever. –snickers- Eh. Aboot.
…Sorry, Canada. I'm not mocking you, I swear! –huggles friend Canadians- And besides, you guys have moose. We have no moose in America. The closest we get to moose are stag. Which are evil and can kill you. Seriously! Running deer are freaking scary! They've got these clip-clip-clip-clopping hooves of death…
Er. I'll shut up now.
Thanks again! Remember that I love you all…so please review! (Haha.)
With a cherry on top?