I considered skipping this one. I didn’t really have anything special going on Christmas Eve or Christmas. After destroying a bunch of toys and beating up a couple heroes, it’s a bit of a letdown to say “Oh, I took a break off from wrecking Christmas to go to a Christmas party.”
Anyway, I took a break off from wrecking Christmas and went to a Christmas party. I got invited to the hero and villain parties, as organized on over the networks run by my company, so I sorta played a trick. Rescheduled a couple things. I wanted to bring people together, and getting the hero and villain parties scheduled at the same time and place accomplished that goal.
See, there’s an informal truce around major holidays for various reasons. I’ve mentioned it before in regards to Halloween, especially. No one wants to fight their nemesis and it turn out to be an enthusiastic trick or treater. People on both sides have kids they have to worry about, too. It’d be about as acceptable to them as stealing candy from a baby.
Well, that happens for Thanksgiving and Christmas, too. Generally a lot of super crime tapers off this time of year. There’s shopping to be done, and even heroes understand that family dinners are one of the worst times to burst in and arrest someone. No matter how much some of the family wishes they could get out of the dinner that way.
So, this reminder concluded, I manufactured a mixup at a hotel convention room. The staff stood ready to provide for the gathering, a fact I knew from tapping the camera feeds. The organizers for either side arrived and immediately got into a standoff. I could give names and costume descriptions, but it all boils down to people in tights with funny names standing around in funny poses with glowing body parts. Both sides accused the other of conspiracy and gatecrashing. Finally, the hotel manager spoke up and yelled at both groups for daring to risk messing up the room at that time of year.
Both sides put their body parts away and began to talk. Then, they decided, in light of this odd coincidence, they’d have a truce and throw the parties together. After all, it’s Christmas. Besides, they never knew when they’d get another decent shot at consensual sex with people on the other side of the law. They didn’t actually say anything about that part, but they’re also human beings. Of course, they soon realized they had to keep a close eye on people joining the party and send messages out to make sure no fights broke out on the way there.
Food was handled by potluck, which mostly worked out. Ash Burner, villain, and Revere, hero, got into an argument over their cookies. Revere insulted Ash Burner by claiming he burnt his cookies, while Ash Burner thought Revere ran off with his before they were even finished. Just two big, muscular dudes, one a pyromaniac with fire powers, the other a strongman with a tricorn hat, arguing over who made the better cookies. Even though the Fire Gang looked ready to join in on the side of Ash Burner, a member of said crew of fire-based supervillains, a mutual enemy ended their confrontation. Helio, a hero with a sun theme, wondered why they were arguing over such a womanly thing.
Helio made a few enemies at the party.
See? That’s why I don’t want to go around naming names and describing everyone. So many damn people in tights. Enough that the place was crowded by the time I arrived on Wildflower’s arm in my Banshee costume.
“That’s hot,” Helio said, standing nearby with a drink. He walked over to us. “Hello Flower. Who’s your friend and how much does she want me?”
“I want you like a punch in the head,” I said.
“Oh yeah?” He stepped closer, holding his cup out toward us. He looked me in the eyes and ran his tongue over his lower lip. “Flower knows I can light up your life.” He nodded toward my date.
I punched him flat in the nose and sent him stumbling back, spilling his drink on his costume. It smelled like fruit juice and alcohol. Spiked punch. People on both sides brought beer and liquor, but someone still went out of their way to spike the punch. That’s people for you.
And it’s not like I meant something by calling Wildflower my date. We’re not dating, clearly. She’s keeping track of a villain that she’s on friendly terms with, and I’ve got a soft spot for bestiality with my homo sapiens cousins. After all, if bestiality wasn’t awesome, why does it have “best” right there in the name? Either way, I was Wildflower’s date to this event, and that’s all I meant by referring to her as such.
My resorting to physical violence caused a small uproar, but mostly from Helio. “Get rid of that bitch! Arrest her! Do something, did you see that?”
I made a show of sniffing the air around him, “Whew, someone’s had too much to drink, don’t you think?” I asked Wildflower.
“Definitely. He just tripped himself. You didn’t spike the punch, did you?”
Helio stood up and tried to wipe the bright red liquid off his costume before it stained. Good luck with that. “Of course not, don’t be ridiculous. She punched me!” He pointed at me.
I held up my hands, “I swear, I didn’t see a thing! I don’t know what he’s talking about. He came over, slurring his words, trying to hit on me. When I told him no, he called me a ‘fuckin’ dyke’.”
A disapproving murmur ran through the crowd like a streaker in a football stadium. A wild-haired man in a cape took Helio aside for a chat, but the didn’t eject him. I don’t think anyone at the party wound up “ejecting” him.
Wildflower and I mingled a bit, catching a few large grins from the men, but mostly just going around saying hello to a bunch of people I didn’t know. I had to shut down the identification program because it went crazy in there, so that’s one reason I’ve given up completely on saying everyone’s codenames.
Funny thing is, about four different people stopped me along the way to thank me for pinning the spiked punch on Helio. Note to self: don’t drink the 200 proof punch. The first one, a villain of some sort, even told me, “You don’t wanna know how drunk some people we all got off it at last year’s party.”
Oh, gee, I wasn’t invited to that one.
That said, I soon found myself facing Venus just before she and Wildflower did a bunch of happy hugging. When they finished, Venus held out her arms for one from me, and Wildflower shoved me into it.
“It’s nice to see you here,” she told me.
I grinned awkwardly, “Wow. Nice? You had any of the punch?”
She let me go, laughing a little too loud. “No, not at all. I’m just happy to see you.”
“Sorry,” I broke into a small grin, “Very few people are enthusiastic to see me.”
“Aw, that’s a shame, but it’s Christmas. Try to have fun.” She let us go then.
Walking toward the food tables, I asked Wildflower, “She’s nothing like I thought she’d be in this situation.”
“She’s been a little interested in you since you control Hero Net, and she knows we’ve been spending time together.”
“How does she know that?” I grabbed a piece of cheese out of a tray and looked over the other offerings.
“She saw us out at that Italian place.” Wildflower helped herself to a pig in a blanket.
Obviously, she’s talking about another time that wasn’t a date. She was hungry, I was hungry, and I suggested we take care of both at once at some Italian place I wanted to try. Just a meal.
I held out one of the pigs for her. “Here, try this. They’re really good.” She ate it out of my fingers, so I figured it was as good a time to ask, “By the way, are we dating?”
Wildflower held a hand over her mouth to keep from spitting anything out when she started laughing. After she finished chewing and swallowing, she smiled at me. “I guess?”
“Like, a relationship. Are we in one?”
“Um, yeah, kinda?” She answered, blushing lightly.
“I don’t even know your real name,” I told her. After a moment’s thought, I added, “And you don’t know me.”
Wildflower scooped up some macaroni and cheese and turned to me. “I’m Rachel, and I didn’t think I was into women, but I accidentally started dating one. I know her name and her life story, but now she says I don’t know her at all, so I’m starting to wonder what’s up.”
“Um…” I looked at her, feeling wrong for some reason. I’d say it’s a crisis of conscience, but I didn’t know I had the conscience, let alone why there’s a crisis. Maybe because I told her she didn’t know anything about me for real. Yeah, that’s a good one. I’ll go with that. I hadn’t said anything, so I used my brain to dial my phone. “Oh, whoops, let me get that.” I pretended to look at the number. “Yeah, this is important. Work-related. I gotta go take this somewhere quieter. One minute.”
I walked away. I really needed to get out of there. Happy people? People who like to see me around? And I’m dating someone now? No one’s running around, playing out a bunch of angles, trying to take advantage of each other. The sick fucks. I didn’t know how I got into this situation, other than following a chain of events that led up to it. No wonder I never get invited to these sorts of parties and actually hang out with most people for long periods of time.
So I ditched Wildflower and got away from the party.
Oh, and on Christmas morning, I woke up to a very lump bed. Even in my sleepiness, I felt dirty. Dirtier than usual. No, I wasn’t waking up next to Wildflower, either. When I opened my eyes, I found my bed full of coal. Pieces of coal, all over the place. Under me, next to me, on top of me. I was covered in black dust, accounting for the extra dirty feeling that morning.
“Dick move, Santa. Real dick move. But I suppose it was your call to make.”
I slipped out of bed and shook myself off. I ran my hands through my hair and found a few more pieces. “By the way, dirty old man, I better not find any coal hidden in me anywhere.”
A bit peeved, I fired off a low-priority email to Crash. “Find me a buyer for some coal. You can tell them it’s magical. It’s more than would fit in a stocking, but I didn’t put one up.” Next stop, the bathroom, where I hoped to take a shower. Except, when I turned on the shower, I got blasted with more coal dust.
Coughing and gasping, I jumped out onto the bathroom floor and tried to clear it all off. “Dirty pool, old man. Dirty pool.” I told Santa again, wherever he was watching from. “I’d ask what that’s for, but that’s a lot longer list than the kids.”