A ver’ Mer’ Christmas to all! Good heavens, was it really a year ago that Tahl started off so much havoc in the AU circuit? Unbelievable.
Erin‘s Christmas present. This is the eftest way to deliver it.
Poor Helena… I subject her to so much peculiarity and all she’s trying to do is help keep things organized. Over the last year there have been various people dying, Reseda Che’s bombshell over in September, that minor issue of several-Sith, Baral Favain getting into a record ten-month sulk, and of course the superhero portal has seen its fair share of work too, with Starlight stalking around the Blue House waiting for her next turn on the Teenaged Superhero Society story.
This year, after Erin so kindly invited me over to Selay’uu in May, Helena had to very properly remind me of my manners by having the Blue House reciprocate and invite Erin over for Christmas. It’s not so difficult as it sounds: when you live in your mind palace most of the year anyway, and the Mathemagician is on hand for replications, you can be in two places at once and visit friends without affecting your work.
So I left Helena to sort out the mechanics, and I may or may not have completely forgotten to tell most of the rest of the house that Erin was coming over. Kysherin was firmly not invited – I know what she gets up to at Selay’uu and we really didn’t have time for that in the Blue House, not with the Sith situation still unresolved. This year, as well, I decided to have a summer Christmas – when in Rome and all that. Also, I figured that if Gandalf tried to lock the Magi out again, it would be easier on them if it wasn’t snowing.
So we had a beautiful sunny day, warm and dry, with all the windows at the back of the house flung open to let in the garden. And I do mean let in: there’s a remarkably sweet-scented New Dawn climbing rose that I absentmindedly planted outside the library windows. It got mixed up with the wisteria growing on the outside of the house and has a distinct tendency to clamber indoors and recline in a languid fashion along the bookshelves. Usually Qui-Gon, who volunteered to look after the garden and spends a great deal of time on the blasted rose, tells it to behave itself, but he quite reasonably refuses to be held responsible if I insist on leaving windows open.
When Erin arrived at the railway halt a few miles from the house, Lord Peter Wimsey was waiting for her with his terrifyingly fast Daimler convertible – I would have gone, but it’s only a two-seater and Peter absolutely forbids me to touch it. Around the house, I make do with a turquoise-blue ’57 Chevy Nomad that someone else has but doesn’t drive much. And everybody but Anakin flatly refuses to go joyriding with me; I don’t know why. So I stayed home, in the well-stocked armory upstairs, where I could see right down the drive if I just stood on top of a cannon and squinted a little. I knew if I waited until I could hear the car from the library, it would already be sliding to a halt on the gravel in front of the house before I could get downstairs.
Peter very gallantly came around the car to open Erin’s door for her and help her out, but she had already jumped over the door and dashed over to the door to hug me. I don’t do hugs… one does not simply hug an… oh, fine. It was Christmas, after all. And she’s taller than me and probably stronger.
I have always loved coming into the Blue House from the drive: you stand in a shadowy stone porch, open these heavy, silent dark oak doors with iron studs and details and whatnot, and instantly you come out into a light, airy vestibule with a checkerboard marble floor, a floating spiral staircase in the center, and about four stories up, a stained-glass dome skylight. This year, someone had had the bright idea of borrowing the Swarovski waterfall from the store in Austria, and installing it up the core of the staircase.
The Blue House kids had been nonplussed, insisting on having a real Christmas tree as well, so Starlight had called the Metropolis family of Kryptonians, and they all set to work on the Norfolk pine in the back garden. I wasn’t sure how much decorating was going on compared to how much swimming in the river at the bottom of the garden and dropping baubles and tinsel for the local freshwater mermaids to play with, but the tree seemed to be progressing.
“Where is everyone?” Erin asked.
“Um… Starlight and the kids are decorating a twenty-meter pine tree because I said I didn’t want any Christmas indoors. Tahl is with Pythia and Oracle experimenting on a computer program to make the air-conditioning ducts and furnace pipes whistle tunes instead of just whistling randomly whenever they feel like it. I believe Qui-Gon is somewhere in the garden, but don’t quote me on that. The Gotham and Star City crews are in the armory testing bows and a new Batarang design Anakin came up with. Obi-Wan heard you were coming and went to his room saying he had a headache. What on earth have you been doing to him over in your AU?”
“It’s a long story. But we’re both off work for today, right?”
“Yeah… unless someone comes up with something that just cannot wait to be written. Which is always a possibility.” I grinned. “Hey, wanna see something cool?” Allowing all the technologically-inclined Blue Housers to basically run rampant did have its benefits: a MacGyver-Q team-up resulted in a clap-to-activate audio-triggered glitter shower in the vestibule – and John Zatara worked out how to make the whole thing run backwards to clean itself up. John and his daughter Zatanna clean up a great deal of the mess around here.
“Snow in summer,” I quipped. Erin groaned, and she was right, it was a terrible joke. However, my next suggestion, namely heading for the kitchen and getting into the ice-cream before the kids came back inside and beat us to it, met with more approval. As well it should: eighteen different flavors in each of regular ice-cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt take up a lot of freezer space, but make for a simply glorious summer Christmas. And just to be good citizens, we figured it made sense to shove Christmas dinner way forward into the morning and start with ice-cream. When you’re living in your own mind, you can do things like that. I set a villains’ amnesty and enlisted Mr. Freeze and Captain Cold to help keep the goods from melting.
Well. The kids appreciated it. Erin went into hysterics over kiwifruit frozen yogurt – apparently they don’t call kiwifruit that in the States. Nasriel raced off upstairs to fetch Obi-Wan, who, it may surprise you to learn, has a weakness for marshmallow ice-cream. Helena orders it in especially for him. (I didn’t even know that marshmallow ice-cream was a thing, but if you can convince Obi-Wan to share, it really is worth the effort.)
Helena had tried being sensible and providing a normal Christmas lunch… it didn’t take. For some reason Sherlock brought his dog Redbeard over to play with Blaze. That would have been fine if River Sanchez hadn’t brought Wolf (for the record: Wolf is half-wolf) and Superman hadn’t brought Krypto, and Batman hadn’t let Damian bring Titus and Ace the Bat-Dog, both Great Danes. And Lady Penelope had her pug, though that hardly counts. Six large dogs, then, and one pathetic one, none of whom had the slightest problem with swimming in the river even though the mermaids would tweak their fur, or with starting quarrels between kids wanting to feed them, caused significant havoc, much to the detriment of a roast turkey Helena had cooked on account of Erin being American. It didn’t bother me, because I don’t think I’ve ever had turkey anyway, and there was still plenty of ice-cream and fruit and salad and so forth.
It was… pretty cool, actually. After a while, Erin and I headed off to the library, to find chairs that hadn’t been overgrown by rose tendrils, sip iced tea, and coordinate universes for the coming year. Because the major players, like Obi-Wan and Sherlock, don’t mind being replicated in as many as a dozen places at once, but our own characters, like Nasriel on my part and Zaina on hers, prefer to take projects one by one, it doesn’t do for two people to be running the same minor character at the same time.
At any rate, we started by coordinating universes. That ended with a crash when the Three Wise Men arrived for their annual visit with the Blue House mages, and the Swarovski waterfall clattered to the floor under the influence of several wizards’ staffs being waved around too vigorously. John Zatara was called out of obscurity to reverse the calamity, but after that Erin and I were both giggling too hard to do any meaningful work. So we spent the afternoon mostly in the garden, just… hanging out. As you do. And no doubt I’ll have Nasriel and Jiron in the office again in a few months complaining of being made to work two jobs, and I’ll cut them slack until Erin’s finished.
When the time came for Erin to go, I insisted on being allowed to drive her back to the station myself. Obi-Wan and Anakin exchanged worried glances, and Peter and Xenia, as the two best car-drivers in the House, both offered to save me the trip, but in the end I brought the Nomad around to the front door and off we set.
I did not crash my car.
I got home in one piece.
And tomorrow there’s that blasted bounty-hunter demanding attention. Still, it was nice to get away for one day. And I think there’s still some marshmallow ice-cream left…
Thanks for reading. MTFBWY.
And on that note…
And a Happy New Year.