An HBO Christmas
Disclaimer: I know, I said I'd never do another and there was much rejoicing. Particularly from Louis, who had to defile his precious site with the HBO Halloween. And particularly from all the forum goers who had their names splattered all over HBO Halloween. Guess what? I lied.
Disclaimer: Part Two: Everything within is a work of fiction and should be treated as such. All discrepancies are the authors own.
Authors Note: This, in no way, is intended to tread on Michael M's toes. I'm just a very Christmassy person and this idea just would not go away. Next time, people, just hit me over the head with the yellow banshee.
George comes from here.
Louis Wu hid a yawn with the back of his hand as he entered the forum. He cleaned out the coffee filter - damn Brits, always leaving the coffee in as long as possible - and started a cup for himself. He settled down to look over the night time forum posts, cradling his coffee in one hand.
There was a draft as the door opened and winter snow blew inwards. He grunted a 'hello' to the newcomer and looked over an interesting post by BOLL. The MC as a Christmas tree, who'd have thought?
There was a strange and undeniably alien sound behind him. Spilling his coffee, he spun around, to be faced with a small Elite. It clutched its blanket in one hand, the other clinging to its adoptive mother's.
"Hi Louis, you saw my post, right?" Jillybean asked hurriedly. She dumped a large hold-all at Louis' feet. "I hope you don't mind. Thanks so much for doing this by the way. We had some trouble finding a babysitter since - well, you remember what happened to Sergeant B . . ."
"And George really likes you," she hoisted the Elite onto her hip. "Oo likes Grandpa Wu then? Mmm?"
The baby Elite turned baleful eyes on Louis and clamped its mandibles onto Jillybean's hair.
"Little darling," she muttered, pulling half the hair off her head in an attempt to escape. "Anyway, thanks for babysitting. There's bottles in the bag and spare nappies and emergency numbers and a thermometer and his chew-toys in case he gets bored," pausing only because she needed to breathe, Jillybean gave Louis a smile. "So thanks again. I'll be back tomorrow to pick him up? Unless of course the police pick me up again, you know I really don't see why trying to rid humanity of Cortana is a crime - but apparently it counts as murder and all that."
"Does it?" Louis asked, a little bewildered.
"See that's what I thought too," Jillybean replied. "Anyway. You boys have fun. And if he starts eating the servers, just say 'no' very firmly. Oh - and Lou? Don't feed him after midnight."
She left and Louis stared at the baby Elite.
"You'd be George?" he asked.
"Wowt, wowt, wowt."
"Ah hah!" Louis cried triumphantly. He had finally found Jillybean's post. Damn Wado for teaching her html - it was in extremely small font, with white writing. But yes, she had asked him to babysit. After that she had added a section in legal code - silence is an affirmation.
"So . . ." Louis turned to find George was chewing on a section of posts. "Hey!"
George snarled, revealing a ferocious set of teeth.
"Ooohkaay," Louis fetched another post. Jamirus99's, they never mattered. "Have some more." He watched the little creature drool all over his forum and winced.
"Hey, hey, hey, hey!" Ross called as he walked in. He took one look at the scene and quickly turned around.
"Oh no you don't!" Louis grabbed his arm and pulled him back. "I think you're babysitting."
"Uh, uh. Don't do kids," Ross replied. He took one long look at George. "Especially ones with claws."
"Wowt," George hiccuped.
"He likes you," Louis said.
"I take it Jillybean's gone Cortana hunting again," Ross said thoughtfully. "Did you hear what George did to Sergeant B?"
"No - but I saw the scars."
"Well . . . why not try Shishka? He inspired George."
"There are so many ways that could be interpreted," Louis agreed.
"Best keep it clean," Ross suggested.
After much deliberation concerning George and his walking harness, Ross and Louis managed to get him to Shishka's page. Shishka opened the door and abruptly slammed it shut again.
"Aw come on Shish!" Ross wailed.
"No!" Shishka replied through the door. "I'm really, really busy!"
"Shishka I will ban you for life if you do not take responsibility for your drawings!" Louis threatened.
"Shut up, Grandpa," Shishka retorted. "I . . . I'm busy thrashing Bentllama at Halo."
"Now I know that's a lie," Ross muttered.
"It's true!" Shishka protested. "I'm the Lord of teh Skies!"
"This is getting us nowhere fast," Louis grimaced. George was looking hungry again. He kept staring at Ross's leg as if it were a chicken drumstick.
"Try Stuntmutt!" Shishka called. "He owes Jillybean 'cause she didn't put him in the Halloween fic."
"Yeah," Ross grumbled. "Thanks a lot Shish."
They returned to the forum to find a few more people lazing around. Stuntmutt, thankfully, was there.
"Hi there," Ross began pleasantly. He tried to angle his body so that Stuntmutt wouldn't see Louis struggling to get George to let go of Louis' hand.
"Hey . . ." Stuntmutt replied, rightfully suspicious.
"How are you with kids?" Ross asked, as if it were part of every day conversation.
Stuntmutt raised an eyebrow. "Are you serious?"
"Stuntmutt!" Louis finally managed to get George to release his hand. "This George! Have fun!" With this, he and Ross beat a hasty retreat.
Stuntmutt stared at the creature in his lap. It returned his gaze with small, reproachful eyes. With deliberate menace, George began to mash his mandibles together.
"Like drawing?" Stuntmutt asked.
The forum slowly started to fill up with the regulars and newbies. And for the most part they were all resigned to standing around the walls. George liked paints. George really, really liked paints.
One may go as far to say that George and paints were like bacon and eggs. Like pancakes and syrup. Like bangers and mash. He especially liked to eat the paints.
"Uh - Stuntmutt?" Red Loser asked, dodging purple coloured spit. George leered at the forum goer through a happy glaze of colours.
"Hey!" Stuntmutt cried defensively. "I got lumbered with him. If anyone else wants a shot . . ."
"I couldn't possibly,"
"When you two are getting along so well?"
The varied responses bubbled down to a big, fat 'no'. Stuntmutt sighed heavily.
"Look at him, he's a complete mess!" he reached a tentative hand forward and withdrew it quickly when George snapped at him. "Nice . . . baby."
"You're scaring him-" Hikaru-119 said. "Be nice." At this Hikaru crouched down and crawled forward. "Heya little guy-"
George spat paint on his face and began laughing hysterically. "Wowt! Wowt! Wowt!"
"Oh yeah. Smooth, real smooth," Pico drawled.
They watched as George abruptly yawned and set the tube of yellow gloss down. He blinked a few times are turned to Stuntmutt, extending chubby arms in a demand to be lifted and hugged.
"Um . . . check that bag over there," Stuntmutt waved Sketch Teno in that direction. "See if there's any wet wipes."
"You know - little cloths that mums use for babies." Stuntmutt circled George warily.
"Moms," Sketch Teno corrected. He tossed the little packet over to Stuntmutt and hid back in the ranks of the HBO'ers.
Stuntmutt gingerly reached forwards and wiped George's face clean. The baby Elite sneezed.
"Heh," Stuntmutt finished and George was reasonably paint-free. "He's not that bad."
"Wowt," George agreed solemnly. He lunged forward and fixed his mouth over Stuntmutt's hand. The screaming could be heard all the way to the Seventh Column.
Stuntmutt was rushed away by LietLives and Toby Dillman, while the others in the Forum circled George, warily.
"Maybe he's hungry," C0ld suggested.
"No, I'm sure he just ate Stuntmutt for the fun of it," Sarah drawled.
"You know, you're a girl . . ." Michael M began. "Surely you should have some sort of . . ."
"Woman's touch?" Sarah asked.
"Forget I mentioned it," Michael waved it away.
Littlebigman ventured closer and then turned back to them. "Hey, guys . . . he looks kind of . . . grumpy."
"Grumpy?" Devin Olsen repeated. "Grumpy!"
"Calm down, man, you're getting a little hysterical," Jakedagreat told him.
"Wowt . . ." George growled. "Wowt. WOWT!!!" With this the baby started up an almighty bawling.
"Make it stop! Make it stop!" Geary wailed.
"Someone do something!" Chester the Destroyer added. "Pick him up! Sing a song!"
"You do it," Kyreck retorted.
Chester sighed and scooped the Elite into his arms. "Hey there . . . big fella . . . wanna shut up?"
George wailed louder.
"Oookay! Um . . . rock a bye baby, on the tree top . . ."
"Tell him a Christmas story!" an anonymous voice from the back suggested.
"Wado, that you?" Warbow asked. Wado was dragged forward and promptly forced to sit with the baby.
"Well now, George," Wado began peaceably. George watched him suspiciously. "Do you know the story of Christmas?"
"Wowt," George muttered resentfully.
"Now I'm sure you think it's all presents and fun and games," Wado continued. "But the real meaning of Christmas is -"
"Dude," Moddedcyborg interrupted. "What if he ain't a Christian?"
"What?" Wado asked.
"What if he's one of them other religions? Like . . . Judaism, Buddhism, Paganism . . ."
"You just want to complicate things. Don't you?" Wado retorted.
"Well, he might find Christmas offensive." Moddedcyborg looked abashed. Everyone turned to look at the baby Elite, chewing on the side of someone's post.
"Oh. Yeah. I see that," Wado agreed with as much sarcasm as he could muster.
"Never fear! The Pancake is here!" Bentllama entered the forum with his usual flare.
"Methinks I have found a solution," Wado said (with what he hoped was cunning. He had never actually seen 'cunning' in action and had been trying to emulate it for quite some time). "Bentllama?"
"Yes, my dear?"
"Feed George," Wado escaped quickly.
The phone started to ring just as Louis captured the flag. He cursed, this was the red line. The one he used to get passes to all the Bungie gigs. Of course, that line was too important to be ignored. Even if he had to sacrifice the game of the century - his one chance at glory . . . going . . . going . . . Louis Wu was killed by P_40E.
"Hello," he snapped.
"Jillybean . . . how . . . why . . . who gave you this number?"
"Hmm? Oh never mind about that the now. Can I ask you to look after George for a wee bitty longer? Gotta go to Mexico for a while,"
"Aw you're a wee star. Slightly OT, I know, but is Yap Yap the Grunt still doing false passports?"
Louis hung up.
"How's George?" Blackstar asked as Bentllama returned.
"Stuffed with pancakes and watching Red Dwarf re-runs. It'll keep him occupied, at least until the episode where Lister discovers he is the beginning and end of the human race."
"Well, you bought us some time at least," Blackstar said thankfully.
"You're not gonna believe this," Nemesis said, "but Louis says we're to look after him for a few more days. At least until JB can get her fake ID sorted out."
"That means we'll have him over Christmas," Blackstar said in surprise. "Aw - the poor little guy."
"Wow. We should make it nice for him," Elfster suggested.
"Presents," Simpsons Rule said.
"Food," Bentllama added.
"Christmas decorations," FOrunnER agreed.
Berconius and Dispraiser were left in charge of decorating the forum. They headed out to Timberland for a tree and cut the biggest one they could find.
"Are you compensating for something?" Sarah asked when she saw it. Berconious shot her a glare.
"As a matter of fact," Dispraiser retaliated, "this is all for George's benefit. The little guy's gotta have a good Christmas," he said.
"So pass us the purple tinsel, wouldja?" Berconious asked.
"Right!" Socrates ran towards Ben Roth and Boxer. "The guys at Bungie and Red vs Blue have all pulled together. They've donated a tonne of action figures - and I'm really not sure where RvB got theirs from, but they donated too."
"How are we gonna wrap 'em all though?" Ben asked. "Without George eating the wrapping paper?"
"Hmm . . ." Boxer grinned. "What do all kids want to do at Christmas?"
"Visit Santa Claus?" Socrate suggested.
"Exactly," Boxer rubbed his hands together in glee. "So I say we let George meet Santa Claus!"
"This is above and beyond the call of duty," Louis growled.
"Think of it as a service to humanity," Wado soothed.
"He's a bloody Elite,"
"And? You're Santa. Live with it." Wado waited outside the Red Base on Sidewinder, watching for the procession making its way across the snowy fields.
Ben Roth checked once more that George's scarf hadn't unwound from his neck, and that the mittens were still over his finger.
"There, there, you're not cold, are you?" he fussed.
"Wowt," George leapt into a snow drift and re-emerged, pelting Ben, Exogenesis and That Guy Over There Who Smiles Just A Bit Too Wide with snowballs. Snowballs that were more like ice than snow. Snowballs that drew blood when they hit bare flesh . . .
"Little tyke," Ben said affectionately. "Look! There's Santa's house!"
They entered the Red Base and found Santa sitting on his rocket launcher, laughing cheerily.
"Ho, ho, ho," he began.
George took one look at him and wailed.
"Tone it down a bit," Wado hissed.
"Now, now there. Don't cry," Santa beckoned George closer. "And what would you like for Christmas, little George?"
"Wowt?" George chewed on the end of his scarf thoughtfully. "Wowt," he decided.
"Well then, we'll see what we can do," Santa ruffled George's head and sent him on his way.
"See, was that so bad?" Wado asked, quite enjoying his new role as Jiminy Cricket.
Louis grunted something indiscernible.
"What! Do you call that a Christmas Pudding!" Bentllama demanded of one of his slave chefs.
"No, sir. Sorry, sir," Shishka hung his head in shame.
"And this? Is this supposed to be custard?" Bentllama dripped the lumpy, yellow mix down into the sink. "This is ridiculous! How can I create in such a squalor! Have these kitchens ever seen a cook before?"
"We usually just use it for-"
"Enough!" Bentllama cried, knocking Shishka out with an expansive wave of his hand. "I must work a miracle!"
"Wow!" Ben Roth exclaimed when he and George returned from Sidewinder. "Look, George! Look at all the presents!"
"Happy Christmas, George!"
George approached the presents slowly, cautiously. He picked one shiny parcel up and shook it.
"Open it," Sarah prompted.
George pulled the paper off, tentatively, and found his own model Banshee inside. "Wowt," he said, making it soar through the air.
"Yes, that's right!" Ben Roth cooed. "Wowt!"
"Isn't that adorable?" Exogenesis sighed happily. "Now my present! Open my present!"
"Wow," Stuntmutt said. "A signed copy of the original One One Se7en! Hold on to that, George my boy, it'll be worth something one day?"
"Wowt?" George stuffed the comic into his mouth, chewing methodically.
"You hate me. Don't you?" Stuntmutt said.
"Don't be ridiculous," Sketchfactor scolded. "He's just a baby. Are you having fun George?"
George looked up from his replica rocket launcher and blinked innocently. The rocket went skipping off to blow half the forum out of order. "Wowt," George said in his most adorable voice.
"Are you hungry, my little bambino?" Bentllama asked as he swept in. "Well we have just the Christmas dinner for you!"
All the forum-goers that Bentllama had roped into cooking for him traipsed in. Each carried a dish and waited attentively on the little Elite.
"Bon appetit!" Bentllama said, kissing his fingers.
"And while you eat-" Wado said. "I shall regale ye with a tale-"
"No," Sarah shushed him. "The Subnova gang are singing. Remember?"
"No," Wado muttered resentfully.
The Subnova gang started to sing 'Deck the Halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la. Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la. Don we now our gay apparel . . ."
"Don't you know any Halo songs!" shouted an anonymous voice from the back.
"Shut up, Wado!" Ross yelled back. "As a matter of fact . . . we might."
"On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Twelve marines afighting
Eleven Pelicans landing
Ten Cortana's crashing
Nine grenades ablasting
Eight grunts asquealing
Seven the magic number
Six Marty's marching
Fi-ive M! C's!
Four captain Keyes
Three guilty sparks
Two Brutes agrunting
And a conspiracy in the H-SP."
"But George, you see," Wado began after they'd finished. He set a hand on the baby Elite's shoulder. "The real meaning of Christmas isn't the-"
"Aww look," Miguel Chavez walked forward and picked up the sleeping baby. "We tired him out."
"Hey," Jillybean said softy when she returned. She dismissed the handcuffs on one arm as a new fashion accessory.
"There you go," Miguel handed the sleeping George back to her. "Mind his head."
"Was he good?" she asked, shifting his weight a little so she could carry the hold-all at the same time.
"Well, Stuntmutt's hand might be infected and there's been a lot of server downtime . . . but he was fine," Miguel replied.
"Aww. Well it looks like you all had fun here," Jillybean said as she looked around.
"Yes," Wado popped up. "But you see, this is the true meaning of Christmas?"
"Single mothers who don't have enough time?" Miguel asked, perplexed.
"Yes- what? No! Don't confuse me!"
"Well you've got exactly five seconds to tell us this 'true meaning'," Louis warned. "Because the nineties called, they want their morals back."
"You can't put a time limit on the story of Christmas!" Wado cried out.
"Oh look at the time! We'd better go," Jillybean said, beating a hasty retreat.
Wado looked around the empty forum.
"Guys? Uh . . . . guys? Hello . . . darkness. Do you know the true meaning of Christmas? Because it's not the gifts, or the tree . . ." and Wado rambled off into the night