Hal sat watch on the late shift. Everyone else other than Aya was back in their rooms, either sleeping or moping. And the gloom permeated every corner of the ship. No new allies, Erin had gotten bit by the love bug, Kilowogg was still pining for Galia, and even Razer was more surly than usual. To keep his mind off of his own problems, Hal mindlessly checked the Earth calendar. He couldn't help but wonder how long it would be until he saw Carol again. His mind refocused for a second and he was amazed at what he saw. An idea formed and Hal simply went with it.
"Hey Aya…" Hal called out to her, drawing her attention away from the systems she had been idly monitoring. A few minutes of quick deliberation and Hal now had a full plan.
Step one required that he order the crew confined to their rooms unless on active duty. After putting up with the strange order for a few days and cabin fever set in, Hal called them into the multipurpose room. What the others found there was unexpected.
A hardlight fireplace with red stockings hung across its mantle burned between the entrances to the room. Red and green strings of blinking lights hung around the ceiling edge. But what was most unexpected was the large tree in the center of the room. Carefully decorated with hardlight refractors, the tree was a veritable extravaganza of their adventures captured in snapshots.
"What the…." The three Lanterns chorused as they tried to figure out what was going on.
"Merry Christmas guys!" Hal shouted as he stepped from behind the tree. He now wore a green Santa hat and had no mask covering his eyes.
"Jordan, what is all this?" Kilowogg asked, the first of the three to speak as he stepped into the room. Erin and Razer silently followed, drinking in the sights.
"On Earth it is currently Christmas, a winter holiday normally marked with religious and secular festivities." Aya said as she stepped into the room. Erin and Razer's jaws dropped as they stared at the festively dressed android. Gone were her tank top and shorts, replaced by a mid-thigh dark red dress that left her shoulders were uncovered. Her long gauntlets were gone, replaced by heavy bracelets at her wrists that left her entire hand visible. Her boots, now red like her dress, were slimmer and twirled with designs of holly vines and candy canes. The deep red of the dress naturally complemented her naturally glowing green complexion and white helmet.
"If I wasn't spoken for…." Erin whistled, and Razer just gaped in awe. Behind the two younger Lanterns, Hal ribbed Kilowogg and handed him a cluster of small leaves and white berries. Kilowogg watched quizzically as Hal mimed what to do. Once Kilowogg got the gist of it, he snuck up behind the two stunned Lanterns and held the cluster over their heads. Aya noticed it and pecked a kiss onto Erin's cheek.
"Well. that's what I would expect from a hot sister." Erin said as he tenderly touched his cheek. He smiled at Aya and looked up. When he saw Kilowogg holding the mistletoe and Aya moving closer to Razer, Erin put it all together. He snatched away the mistletoe and danced between the two of them. He wagged his finger at Razer.
"No, no, no. The Red Grinch here isn't ruining this Cindy Lou Who's first Christmas." Hal fell to the floor, rolling in laughter at the childish reference. Kilowogg joined in, only to laugh at Razer. Razer only growled as Erin jumped out of grabbing range and gave him a goading smile.
"Get back here!" Razer said as he chased the younger one around the tree. Eventually Hal calmed down enough to separate the two of them.
"Save it for later. Now it's time for presents." The confusion across the other's faces only deepened as Hal reached under the tree and passed the three of them small wrapped boxes. With a shared look, they tore into the packages. Kilowogg opened a plush green hammer, a perfect replica of the ones he always made. Erin found a pair of boots and a bag of small white sugary-looking cylinders.
"So that's what a marshmallow is!" He remarked, tearing into the bag and shoving several into his mouth. Razer gave him a look of disgust and looked at what he had been given: A small piece of metal stamped with the Green Lantern symbol. He looked at Hal for clarification.
"You may not have the ring, but you are part of this crew and that means you have all the authority of a Green Lantern. Just thought you might want a badge to remind you of it." Hal shrugged. Erin paused mid-chew and swallowed.
"These are all nice, but the point of a Christmas gift is to be something both sentimental and unexpected." Erin said, racing back to his room. Hal waited, his curiosity piqued. When Erin came back, he had a pile of seeming random sized boxes. He passed two to Hal, one to Kilowogg and the rest to Razer.
"This is for you Aya. A star of your own." He said, pulling a small necklace from his pocket. The finely woven chain clasp seemed almost metallic, but were nothing compared to the charm. The small clear sphere was filled with what could only be described as pure starlight radiating from a small blue crystal floating in the heart of the bauble.
"It is lovely. Thank you Erin." She gratefully accepted, and let him clasp it around her neck. Hal opened the left package and found a snow globe. Instead of the usual snow, a mixture of colored particles floated in the liquid, playing beautiful colors across the centerpiece: a perfect replica of the Interceptor in miniature.
"How did you have time? How did you figure it out?" Hal asked Erin, admiring the craftsmanship. Something like this couldn't have just been made in the short time he had been gone. Or even as long as he had been planning this surprise.
"You aren't the only one with access to a computer and a calendar. Besides, what else was I supposed to do while I was stuck in my cabin, sulk?" Erin grinned, glad to see he had made an impression. Razer snorted and opened one of the many smaller boxes that he had been handed. What he found was a small doll version of Atrocitus and a small knife in a sheath. When he squeezed it, it groaned in the same way Atrocitus had when Razer had struck him on Shard. He looked at Erin and gestured to the other boxes.
"A collectible series of stress relief figurines, just for you. They even make realistic pain noises when you hit them." Erin demonstrated by punching the tiny Atrocitus' head, eliciting a stunned moan from the doll. Razer smiled despite himself. He knew he could have fun with these and maybe work off some his issues and extra energy.
"But what about the knife?" Razer asked as he drew the weapon. It was double-edged and approximately 6" long. Razer looked at the blade's flat side and noticed something had been engraved into the black metal. It was a saying in Volkregian. Wield this star in service of peace.
"I made it using the same meteoric iron that I made into the necklace's chain. I know you carry a few so I figured, why not?" Erin remarked as Razer read it aloud.
"Perhaps it is time I give my gift." Aya said, drawing a thin object out of a hidden panel on the wall. She handed it to Erin, who looked back with amusement. Apparently he wasn't the only one trying to turn Hal's idea into an opportunity. He pulled off the paper, revealing a small frame, holding a digital screen projecting a picture. With tears springing to his eyes, Erin looked at the engraving around the picture. More than a crew, more like a family. The picture was one of the whole crew after one hilarious night in a settlement. The whole crew had crowded together and even managed to get Razer to smile for the picture. Erin wiped away the tears, joy and sorrow mingling in his heart.
"Thanks Aya, I couldn't have asked for anything better." Erin sadly smiled to her, remembering all the late night talks they had shared about his missing past.
"How many boxes did you put inside each other? Is there even anything in this?" Kilowogg muttered, breaking the sentimental moment. A pile of consecutively smaller boxes had piled around the Bolovaxian's feet.
"It's symbolic. Considering how many hoops I went through for it, you'd better appreciate it." Erin said as Kilowogg got to the final box, a small thing barely big enough for a piece of jewelry to fit in. When Kilowogg opened it, he found a small ring with a violet crystal heart pulsing on it.
"What is it?" Kilowogg suspiciously questioned. He wasn't in the mood for a prank from the kid.
"It's a tether point. It will glow whenever you're close to Galia. You can even have it project a hologram of her by doing this." Erin tapped the heart and a small hologram of Kilowogg's sweetheart sprung to life from the ring. They marveled at the tiny device while Kilowogg stared at Galia's image.
"Kilowogg, we are waiting for you on a small moon not far from here. Don't keep us waiting." The image spoke, startling the assembled crew. They looked at Erin, who threw up his hands in plea of innocence.
"You heard the lady, let's go!" Kilowogg bellowed, racing past them and to the controls. They all looked at each other in confusion, then Erin's face lit up.
"She said we!" He cried as he bolted after Kilowogg, his armor flashing violet. The three remaining crew followed in mild bemusement.
On the unnamed moon….
The Interceptor landed in the snowdrifts. Kilowogg and Erin were the first two down the ramp, looking everywhere. Hal, Razer, and Aya followed, watching as the two searched the skies. All five of the Lanterns turned as two violet meteors streaked in their directions. As they drew closer, the meteors became distinguishable as Galia and Gi'ata. They flew into the waiting arms of Kilowogg and Erin. The two couples swung in circles, excited laughter bubbling from them.
"Gi'ata, how did you find us?" Erin asked, holding onto her as if she might disappear right in front of him.
"Galia sensed Kilowogg and I knew you wouldn't be too far from your crewmate. From there it was simple to send a message and meet you here." She explained, her smile never fading. Erin and Gi'ata plopped down into the snow, holding each other close as they gazed up into the stars and talked. Hal decided now was the time for an old Jordan family tradition. He waited for the perfect moment as he packed the snow to just the right size. When Erin leaned in, his intent clear; Hal opened fire. The snowball hit the back of Erin's head forcing him to pause; his face mere inches from Gi'ata's. With a strangely serene smile, he excused himself and wiped the snow from his head. He stood up, two hand constructs packing a snowball as big as him. Hal could see it coming and started to run. Erin fired his snowball, only for Hal to dodge at the last second. But the snowball still found a mark as Kilowogg was knocked from his feet by the unexpected impact. He stood up, looking at everyone in turn. Everyone pointed at Hal as he tried to blame Erin.
The ensuing snowball fight saw extravagant uses of ring power as the couples and Hal became teams in a three-enemy war. Razer and Aya simply stood on the end of the ramp, watching the wild displays as the combatants would laugh and carry on, reveling in the simple fun. Eventually it devolved as Hal became the primary target and he was pinned behind a wall of hastily piled snow. Erin and Gi'ata slipped away walking closer to the Interceptor, and watched as Kilowogg pummeled his best friend with the help of Galia. Razer and Aya watched as Erin slipped his arms around Gi'ata's waist, nuzzling into her neck from behind. Her head turned, her pleasant smile growing as he gently kissed his way up her neck to her ear. They were too far away to hear what they said, but they could guess that Erin was whispering compliments to her and she was whispering back to him.
"So you were meddling with them?" Gi'ata asked Erin as he recounted the group's earlier celebrations.
"For their own good. Razer's emotional walls were too high at the moment, what with Hal and Kilowogg there. But I know what I'm doing. Actually, if you want to help them…." Erin whispered his plan to her, planting kisses on her collarbone as he explained. Back by the Interceptor, a small group of violet angels appeared around Razer and Aya, humming a traditional Earth Christmas tune. One angel in particular held the mistletoe from earlier over them, looking at each of them in turn before joining the humming chorus. Razer looked over at Erin and Gi'ata, but he couldn't tell if they were using their rings or not. But he didn't care as Aya took his face in her hands and kissed him. Though it only lasted a moment, Razer would remember every detail of that moment. The way her lips tugged at his. The way her sweet electrical taste lingered. How warm her lips were. And the way her technique gave him a taste of her passion. They pulled back, looking at each other for a moment. Neither could believe what had just happened.
"Are you two just going to stand around the whole time? We need help with the… what did Hal call it? Snowman!" Kilowogg yelled to them, oblivious to what had happened. Razer and Aya shared a quick smile at their secret and went over to join the others. Rather than help Erin started to sing, his tenor voice joined by a small angelic choir.
"Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
It doesn't show signs of stopping
And I've bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
When we finally kiss goodnight
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
But if you'll really hold me tight
All the way home I'll be warm
All the way home I'll be warm!
All the way home I'll be warm!
The fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we're still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"
Later on the Interceptor…
Hal looked back at the day as he sat alone on the bridge. It had been just what the crew needed. Unfortunately for the two Romeos, their girls had to go back to Zamaron to "continue the mission of love." Hal was just glad he had been able to mess with Erin for the first time since the kid had joined up. It was part of the requirements of being a crew member in Hal's eyes. As the memory gave him some warmth, his gaze settled on a small box, still unopened. Hal remembered that the box had his second gift from Erin, forgotten in the hubbub with the Star Sapphires. Hal absentmindedly opened it, and was shocked at what he found.
A picture, perfectly framed and engraved. With all my will, with all my heart. It was Hal and Carol on Zamaron, the last time Hal had held Carol in his arms. He had so many questions, but they faded as the tears came down. Hal put a hand to his face, as if unsure that it was really him crying. He could only hope that a special gift he had sent would make it back on Earth.
On Earth, Carol Ferris's home…
Carol stared at the small box, a last-minute delivery that had come that morning. She looked at the last of the Christmas decorations, which she had started to take down now that the day was winding down. She opened it, not prepared for what she found. She could barely see the beautiful gift through her tears. A golden pendant, shaped like angel's wings and tastefully coated with diamonds. She looked at the small note attached to it. It read:
For the wind beneath my wings,
For my saving grace,
And for my one and only angel.
AN: Happy Holidays Everyone! Also, I'm not entirely sorry about the terrible pun of a title. It had to be done. Which reminds me, I don't own the lyrics to "Let it Snow" sung by Dean Martin. I repurposed them a little, but they aren't mine.