A Shadow Hearts Christmas

(One of those silly DSLNet challenges I just can't seem to resist!)

I don't own Shadow Hearts, unfortunately, but I listen to the music every day. That's probably why I'm demented. Hehe.

Alice Elliot placed the last little candle in its holder on the large branch of the tree and stepped back to survey her handiwork. The tree, a silver fur, was redolent with that piney aroma that so reminded her of Christmas's she had known as a child. For some reason the season itself, a holy time for her faith, had always been magical because of the tree. It was a sinful thought, she knew, but then magic had become a major part of her life when her God given gift had awakened to its true power in China. Behind her, sitting on the floor and surrounded by string and popped corn, was her fiancé, Yuri Hyuga. He had rescued her and protected her during their year of travail and travel and now, he sat like a little child on the carpet, trying to string popped corn for the tree. As she watched, he took a handful of the popcorn and stuffed half of it in his mouth.

"Yuri Hyuga! That's for the tree!" she cried in mock dismay,

Yuri looked up, his Eurasian features giving him an almost pixyish expression. "Mmmph mmmph iss good an' mmmph hngy," he mumbled through the food in his mouth.

"We'll have tea in a little while, but leave the popped corn for the tree, please," Alice said and turned back to the tree before Yuri could see her smile break out. "Really, you're more of a child than Sharon or Joshua!" she exclaimed.

"Am not!" Yuri said after swallowing the mouthful of popped corn. "'Sides, I didn't get breakfast."

"And whose fault was that?"

"Well ..." Yuri rubbed the back of his neck. "I was trying to get the last of the decorations from your mother's attic and I didn't mean to leave it for this morning, but I got distracted by all the pictures up there and I just had to stop last night and look and then I found the chest with the toys and thought that the kids might like 'em so I brought them down for Halley to take over to the house and I forgot Halley had already left for America so I had to take it over myself ..."

"Yuri, don't forget to breathe!" Alice said and finally laughed.

Yuri took a deep breath, and then laughed. "Are the kids gonna come for dinner do ya think?" he asked.

"Do you mean for Christmas dinner? Of course! I invited them and Old Carl; after all we're the closest they have to family now that Koudelka and Halley are in America."

"Ya know, they coulda waited to leave," Yuri said with a pout.

"But Halley wants to find his father, Yuri."

"Yeah, like his old man gives a damn," Yuri responded, then ducked as Alice threw a wooden ornament at him. "Well, he didn't even marry Halley's mum for crying out loud! Halley's a little bastard, jus' like I always said." Again Yuri ducked as a larger wooden ornament bounced off of him and he took a handful of popped corn and tossed it at Alice. The popcorn fluttered over the floor and sprinkled the carpet like snow. "Damn!"

"Clean it up, Yuri. The mess too, please. Mum will be back from the Hospital Volunteers in a little bit and I don't want a mess for her to see.

"Yeah I know, I know. She'd take it outta my hide," Yuri said with a chuckle. "She sure is a bi ... um, bear when she wants to be."

Alice turned from her decorating and glared at Yuri as he picked up the errant popcorn. "Yuri, if you ever say that again I will bash you with my bible so hard your body won't catch up to your head for a week!"

Yuri looked up and caught Alice's ice-blue eyes as they flashed.

'Ooops,' he thought. 'Mad Exorcist Alert!' "Okay. Sorry."

Once order and discipline had been reestablished, the decorating was finished in good time and Alice was able to begin preparation for tea. While Alice prepared sandwiches and fruit, Yuri set up the kitchen table with the cloth and plates and silverware with his usual grace and style. The three settings were neatly arranged before each chair; the silverware arranged in the water glasses, the knife blades, fork tines and spoons all standing on their handles in the glasses. The first time Alice and her mother had seen Yuri set the table it had taken nearly half an hour to stop laughing. It was now routine to accept Yuri's oddball attempts at house holding. The only time it had backfired was the Sunday supper attended by the local pastor last month; but as that worthy had a sense of humour, all had faired well, in spite of Yuri's idea that silverware stood in glasses, bowls were on the table with plates set on top and napkins draped overall.

That evening they put up the final decorations, and set out the early presents under the tree. A large red-wrapped box had a card addressed to Yuri and he insisted he wanted to open it, but Mrs. Elliot insisted he not, punctuating that demand with a swat with Alice's bible. Yuri, pouting, put up the wreath on the front door instead.

Adjusting the holly wreath with a little tug he turned back to find Alice standing in the vestibule doorway. She was smiling and stood with her hands behind her back.

"What?" he said.

She turned a little to the left then back again, swinging her shoulders and her smile grew a little more.

'I swear she's gonna drive me ...' Yuri thought then caught sight of the small sprig of greenery hanging from the doorway.

"What's that for?" he asked, pointing up at the greenery as he closed the front door.

"It's mistletoe. Do you know what to do under the mistletoe?" Alice asked.

Yuri looked from the mistletoe to Alice and rubbed the back of his head. "Uhm, no?"

"You kiss someone under the mistletoe, Yuri," Alice answered with a coy smile.

"Oh yeah?"

"So, are you going to kiss me?"

"Um, I dunno," Yuri said peeking around the corner to locate Alice's mother. "Is she gonna kill me if I do?"

"Nope. It's legal under the mistletoe."

"Oh yeah!" Yuri needed no further instruction, pulling his diminutive fiancé into his arms and kissing her, his mouth tasting her sweet breath and his tongue threatening the bastion of her teeth.

"Open up will ya," he said quietly, pulling back for a breath.

"I'm ... I'm not sure I speak your language," she said, a little breathless.

"I'll teach ya."

"I've never been good at tongues."

"It just takes practice."

"And a little divine inspiration?"

"I saved the world. I'm all the divinity ya need," he said and kissed her again.

'My hero.'