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The 12 Fics of Christmas

Happy December everyone!

I’m excited to be joining in with the Secret Santa fanfic challenge again this year. It’s been a few years since I participated but between 2005-2016 I wrote a Tribe Christmas story every year. I’ve been going through them to get me in the festive writing mood and thought it might be nice to put them together in a thread for people to read so every day from today I’ll be posting one here.

I’ll keep this first post as an index so people can pick and choose which to read.

N.B. Some are better than others. :rofl:

**

Day 1 - 2005 - Love Me Do
Synopsis: My first one-shot. Bray/Danni pairing. Danni thinks Christmas is the perfect time to bring feuding siblings Bray and Martin together. Originally posted on Eyeboards as part of the Christmas Treats challenge 2005.

Day 2 - 2006 - Lonely This Christmas
Synopsis: One-shot Trudy/Lex pairing. The Mallrats return to the city to find their home looted. While the rest of the tribe look on the bright side, Trudy finds comfort in the most unlikely of places. Written for the Eyeboards Christmas Treats challenge 2006.

Day 3 - 2007 - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Synopsis: One-shot Trudy/Jack pairing. As the Mallrats prepare to celebrate Christmas, Trudy finds Jack’s festive spirit infectious. Written for the Tribe Talk Secret Santa Fic Exchange 2007.

Day 4 - 2008 - You’d Better Watch Out
Synopsis: A quiet year for the Tribe community so this fic is based on TheTribe.co.uk’s ‘Sector 4’ fan series. As the Strays prepare to celebrate Christmas with Breeze, it’s not Santa Claus but the Chosen who are coming to town. Can they reach the farm safely?

(I recommend watching both series of Sector 4 to get the most out of this one!)

Day 5 - 2009 - I Saw Three Ships
Synopsis: Alice experiences her perfect Christmas, but everything is not as it seems.

Day 6 - 2010 - A Winter’s Tale
Synopsis: Mega is up to his usual tricks as winter comes to Tribeworld, while old feelings resurface in the mall. One-shot Trudy/Jay pairing, written for the Tribe Revival Secret Santa event 2010.

Day 7 - 2011 - A Tribal Christmas Carol
Synopsis: Amber resolves to change Lex’s attitude to Christmas, with the help of the rest of the tribe.

Day 8 - 2012 - Home For Christmas
Synopsis: In the wake of Mega’s Virus, Tai San returns to the city in search of the Mallrats. Meanwhile, in a remote Techno facility, Jack and Cloe are also on the hunt for their missing friends. Written for Tribe Universe’s Secret Santa challenge 2012. AU - Jack didn’t return to the city in S5.

Day 9 - 2013 - Christmas Island
Synopsis: Lia and the Priestess observe their new friends as the Mallrats prepare to celebrate their first Christmas on the island. Follows on from the novel ‘The Tribe: A New World’ by A.J. Penn. Written for the Tribe Universe Secret Santa event 2013.

Day 10 - 2014 - Secret Christmas
Synopsis: Frustrated by how the Chosen are driving him and Salene apart, Ryan tries to do something special for his family. Written for the Tribe Universe Secret Santa Fic Exchange 2014 (and my 10th annual Tribe Christmas fanfic, woo!).

Day 11 - 2015 - Marshmallow World
Synopsis: A lift home from winter camp from Bray and Ebony turns sinister for Lex. Pretribe Christmas one-shot written for the Tribe Universe Secret Santa Fic Exchange 2015.

Day 12 - 2016 - The Christmas Angel
Synopsis: Rejected by Salene, May flees the mall and drowns her sorrows in Reality Space. But is the virtual world any better? Written for the Tribe Revival Secret Santa Fic Exchange 2016. Very loosely based on It’s A Wonderful Life.

6 Likes

Love Me Do

Written: 2005
Synopsis: My first one-shot. Bray/Danni pairing. Danni thinks Christmas is the perfect time to bring feuding siblings Bray and Martin together. Originally posted on Eyeboards as part of the Christmas Treats challenge 2005.

CONTENT WARNING - domestic violence

**

Original challenge:

Character(s): Bray, Danni, Lex, Patsy, Brady
Pairing: Bray/Danni
Tribal/Non-Tribal: Non-Tribal
Three Lines:
“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… uhm…something…strange”
“That’s my Christmas present?”
“Oh my God, you, it was you ? You got rid of it? YOU? I don’t believe it!”
Three Objects: dead cat, Beatles record, pink thong with Bray’s name on it

**

Thursday 1st December

Bray stood in the queue at the department store, waiting for his turn to be served. It was only the first of December but already the city centre was packed with shoppers, all trying to beat each other to this year’s must-have items. He didn’t understand it. It wasn’t like he was a Scrooge, far from it; he loved Christmas! He loved hearing the Christmas songs on the radio, loved walking down the high street on a chilly winter’s day, just as it was getting dark, with the Christmas lights illuminating his way. He loved acting like a kid again and having snowball fights, and he loved sitting by the fire, laughing and sharing memories with his friends, having stuffed himself with turkey and mince pies. One thing he definitely did not love, however, was shopping. Why did people insist on rushing around, stressing themselves out when there was plenty to go around? ‘Let It Snow’ was blaring out of the store’s speakers and he sang along happily to it in his head, trying to ignore the jostling he was getting from the impatient customer behind him. He took a step forward to give himself some space but the prodding continued. Finally he turned around, only to be confronted by an irate young woman with blonde Zulu-knots.

‘Are you deaf?’ the woman snapped, giving him another poke for good measure. ‘It’s your turn!’

Next please!’ one of the sales assistants shouted, not sounding best pleased. The rest of the queue, now halfway down one of the aisles, muttered angrily, wondering what the hold-up was for.

‘Sorry,’ he said simply., before heading over to the front desk and handing over the fruits of his hour spent in the store - one A4 pad of plain paper.

‘Is that it?’ the woman at the till asked him, somewhat surprised.

‘Yes, that’s everything,’ he said.

‘Would you be interested in any of our Christmas special offers?’ the woman said mechanically.

‘No, thank you,’ he replied just as mechanically.

‘Would you like any stamps?’ she persisted.

‘No, thank you,’ he repeated politely.

After what seemed like an age he finally paid for the pad and walked away, an icy breeze hitting him as soon as the automatic doors slid open. Too busy thinking about how glad he was to be out of the stuffy store, he didn’t notice the raven-haired woman hurrying in the opposite direction until it was too late. The pair collided and hit the ground, the woman squealing as she fell on top of him, unable to steady herself with all the bags she was carrying. Bray immediately helped her to her feet before dusting himself off. ‘I’m so sorry, are you…Danni?!’ he spluttered, recognising the woman standing before him.

‘Hey Bray,’ she smiled. ‘I was hoping to bump into you today, although not quite so literally!’ She noticed the bag he was carrying and raised an eyebrow. ‘Christmas shopping already? That’s not like you!’

He chuckled and ran a hand through his mane of chestnut-brown hair. ‘Afraid not,’ he said. ‘Lex is babysitting his nieces again this week and he wants me to go over tonight and entertain them so he can get some sleep. He’s got some meeting or something tomorrow morning and he doesn’t want to turn up looking like one of the living dead.’ He showed her the pad. ‘We’re doing origami!’ Danni chuckled. ‘What?’

‘Oh, nothing. You’d have thought I’d be used to your little quirks by now, wouldn’t you? Anyway, stop distracting me or I’ll forget what I was going to ask you!’ She punched him playfully in the arm.

‘Ouch!’ he joked. ‘And what would that be?’

‘If you’re free for a little pre-Christmas get-together at our place next Friday? Around seven?’

‘I don’t know, Danni,’ he said, tensing up. ‘I don’t think that’s such a good idea.’

‘Oh come on, Bray. Ever since you two fell out I’ve hardly seen you, and don’t you think that Christmas is the perfect time for you two to make up? He is family after all! Ooh, have I shown you what I’ve got him for Christmas?’

‘No,’ Bray smiled. ‘But I’m sure you’re going to.’

‘You know me too well! Here…’ She picked out one of the bags she was carrying and handed him a flat, brown paper package from inside it that he proceeded to unwrap carefully. ‘Do you think he’ll like it?’

He uncovered an old-looking record in fairly good condition. It was ‘Love Me Do’ by The Beatles, his brother’s favourite. ‘He’ll love it,’ he replied before rewrapping the gift and handing it back to Danni. His brother Martin was an aspiring musician, a saxophonist, and had been given the nickname Zoot after the saxophone player in The Muppet Show. He didn’t get much work, however, and paid the rent on the flat he shared with Danni by working casually as a truck driver. Danni didn’t know it, but she was the reason the pair of them had fallen out all those years ago. Bray had told his brother how he felt about Danni, then the very next day found the pair of them holding hands in the street. Martin had just winked at him, and the two had barely spoken since, even after their parents died. Now Danni was sporting an engagement ring, and he would have to pretend to be happy for them all through dinner next week.

‘Would you like some help with those bags?’ he asked her. ‘You seem a bit weighed down there.’

‘You’re an angel Bray!’ she said, offloading some of the bags onto him. ‘My car’s not far away. I just got a bit carried away with my retail therapy.’

‘By the amount of stuff you bought you must have really needed it!’

‘Yeah. Ebony died the other day.’

‘Oh Danni, I’m so sorry. I know how you loved that cat.’

‘Thanks Bray. It’s pretty sad, but at least we still have Trudy.’

It wasn’t long before they reached Danni’s car. Bray waved her off and continued down the street. Checking his watch he decided he had just about enough time to get changed before he had to go to Lex’s house.

Some time later, Bray arrived at Lex’s place armed with the spoils of his shopping trip earlier that day. The huge holly wreath on the door reminded him that Lex was perhaps the one person in the world who loved Christmas more than he did. As soon as the brass knocker hit the wood the thump of small, eager footsteps coming down the stairs was heard. ‘Uncle Lex! Uncle Lex! Bray’s here!’ a small voice shouted excitedly as the festive door swung open. Bray just had time to recognise Patsy, Lex’s niece, before she scampered off to find her uncle. His friend soon appeared, sporting a pair of plastic reindeer antlers and a flashing red nose. Coupled with his glasses they made him look ridiculous, but Lex was a big kid when it came to Christmas, so he wasn’t surprised to see him dressed up for the occasion. In fact, it was a mark of the man’s restraint that he hadn’t had the full Father Christmas suit out yet.

‘Am I glad to see you, Bray!’ he said. ‘Zandra gave them sweets before she brought them over, and they’re practically bouncing off the walls with all the E-numbers!’

‘Uncle Lex! Brady’s trying to catch the fish again!’ Patsy shouted from inside. Lex gave a small yelp and quickly ushered Bray in, before gently prying his youngest niece away from the aquarium.

‘Okay,’ he said, when Brady had been safely positioned at the other side of the room from the fish. ‘I’m off to bed! You know where everything is right?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Thanks mate, I owe you one…again!’

Bray laughed. ‘Don’t forget to take those antlers off before you get into bed!’ Lex looked up and took the antlers and red nose off before going upstairs, leaving Bray alone with the kids. ‘Right you two.’ he said, brandishing the pad of paper he had brought with him. ‘Time for origami!’

Patsy looked aghast. ‘But you know I’m a vegetarian!’ she wailed. Bray scratched his head, realising he was going to be in for a long night.

Some time later, surrounded by screwed-up balls of paper, he put his master plan into action. ‘Alright then, Patsy you’re starting. Quietly though, we don’t want to wake Uncle Lex. Ready? One, two, three: on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… uhm…something…strange. What is that?’

‘It’s a partridge in a pear tree!’ the little girl said angrily, holding up one of her origami creations.

‘It looks like a giraffe!’ Brady squealed, laughing so hard that tears were beginning to fall down her face. Patsy did not look amused.

‘Okaaay, maybe the Twelve Origami Days of Christmas was a little ambitious…’ Bray decided.

‘You think?’ Patsy replied curtly. ‘I’ve had enough of this, we’re going to bed now. Come on Brady.’ The two girls stood up from where they had been sitting on the floor and went to their room.

‘Um…goodnight then!’ Bray said, then started to tidy up the mess the three of them had made. He pocketed one of his paper animals - that one had never been meant for tonight - but deposited the rest of them in the bin. When the room was tidy he mechanically set up the couch bed like he had done so many times before, and went to sleep.

Friday 9th December

Putting his car park ticket on the windscreen of his car, Bray replaced his gloves on his hands and checked his watch. He prided himself on his punctuality but tonight he was running slightly late by his standards, and would have to walk at a brisk pace to get to Martin and Danni’s apartment on time. He wasn’t particularly looking forward to tonight, he had to admit, but he didn’t want to let Danni down. Despite this, he still felt a foreboding sense of dread as he walked down the street on which his brother lived. No sooner had he thought this than he felt the unmistakeable sensation of ice beneath his boots. One minute he was striding down the pavement, the next his legs had flown out from under him and he had landed ungracefully on the ground looking up at the clear, star-filled sky. Just as he was thinking his dignity could suffer no more, he heard a group of children laughing at him. Quickly he got up and brushed himself off, walking the rest of the way to the apartment block at a slower pace, wary of more ice.

‘Just come right up, Bray!’ Danni said cheerfully when he pressed the buzzer. She greeted him again at the door to her and Martin’s third-floor apartment, where he produced something from his back pocket.

‘What is it?’ she asked after a pause.

‘It’s supposed to be a cat,’ he smiled. ‘I made it last week when I was looking after Patsy and Brady for Lex. I guess it must have got squashed when I slipped on some ice down the street.’

‘Aww, that’s so sweet! Thank you Bray!’ She gave him a peck on the cheek that made him blush slightly.

‘I know it can’t replace Ebony…’

‘It’s ok, it’s cheered me up, really it has.’

Danni led him inside where he was greeted, in a manner of speaking, by his brother. It was clear that Martin didn’t want him to be here, but he seemed to have let Danni have her way for once. Perhaps he was feeling generous with it being so close to Christmas. During the meal, Danni placed herself strategically between the two of them, and afterwards Bray only stayed for a couple of drinks to be polite before feigning tiredness and asking to be excused. Danni looked disappointed that her plan to get the two brothers to stop fighting hadn’t worked, but seemed to understand. As he left, he noticed that the paper cat her had given to Danni was perched on the mantelpiece, among her collection of precious things.

Monday 12th December

A few days after the disastrous dinner, Danni was alone in the apartment. Martin was out working a shift for the trucking company and she had decided to take the opportunity to clean up the place before Christmas. It had taken her most of the morning but finally the place was spotless. Suddenly she noticed that the little cat Bray had given to her when she had last seen him was missing. Had she thrown it away by accident? Frantically she gathered together all the bins in the small apartment and overturned them in the middle of the living area. All the rubbish from the previous week had been collected earlier that morning, so if she had thrown it away it should be easy enough to find. As she scrambled through the rubbish, Trudy entered the room, mewing with curiosity. She approached the pile of rubbish and started playing with it.

‘Oh, go and play somewhere else, Trudy!’ Danni said absent-mindedly to the cat. ‘Have you got Bray’s cat?’ Trudy ignored her and started playing with a ball of paper. After searching the pile three times, she finally decided to give up. She was surprised to find tears rolling down her face - it was only a squashed paper cat, why did it mean so much to her? It was at this moment that Martin returned home. He took in the scene - a crying Danni sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by emptied waste bins. Instead of rushing over to comfort her like she wanted him to, he rolled his eyes and smirked at her.

‘Something wrong, Dan?’ How she wished he wouldn’t call her that.

After his reaction she felt silly explaining what had happened. ‘M-m-my paper cat,’ she sobbed. ‘I think I’ve…thrown it out.’

Martin threw back his head and laughed, actually laughed at her. ‘That piece of junk?’ he said when he had finished. ‘Nah, I chucked that yesterday.’

‘Oh my God, you, it was you ? You got rid of it? YOU? I don’t believe it!’

‘Woah, calm down! I was doing you a favour! I know how you hate having clutter around, Dan!’

‘Ugh!’ she moaned. ‘If you knew me so well you’d know that I hate being called Dan!’

Martin screwed up his face and she suddenly felt frightened. ‘Ungrateful cow!’ he snapped, bringing the back of his hand firmly across her jaw. She fell backwards towards the mantelpiece and several of her ornaments fell to the floor and smashed, as did a framed photograph of the pair of them on holiday together. Shocked, Danni backed away from her fiancé, towards the door.

‘That’s it, Martin. I’ve had enough, I’m leaving!’

‘Going to run off to Alice again are you? Well I’ll be here waiting, just like every other time you’ve ‘left’ me.’

‘You’re going to be waiting a long time, because this time I’m not coming back. And you can have this back too, I won’t be needing it.’ She tugged off her engagement ring and threw it into the pile of rubbish on the floor. It landed, quite appropriately she thought, in one of the bins. As soon as she had done this, she fled the apartment without stopping to gather any of her belongings, in case he got violent again. As she reached the bottom of the stairs she heard his voice shouting after her.

‘You’ll be back!’ he screamed. ‘And when you do come back, I’ll be wanting an apology! You can’t treat me like this!’

She slammed the front door behind her, cutting off his angry yells. In floods of tears she raced from the apartment as fast as she could.

Monday 19th December

One week after Danni had left him, Martin sat opposite a street-corner café, watching her eating lunch with Bray. He might have known she would go running to his baby brother. Bray had wanted to get his grubby hands on her for years now, and he’d always thought the pair of them had spent too much time together for his liking. Anger began to bubble up inside him but the last straw came when the two of them stood up and hugged each other. With a smile on his face and a mad glint in his eye he started to think up ways to get his revenge.

‘Hello?’ Bray said, answering the telephone.

‘Hello Bray.’

‘Martin? Is that you?’

‘Yes. I need to talk to you.’

‘I don’t have anything to say to you. Goodbye Martin.’

‘No! Wait! Don’t hang up. This is important.’

Bray hesitated for a little while, then sighed. ‘I’m listening.’

‘She’s really done it this time hasn’t she? She’s not coming back.’

‘Look, if you expect me to feel sorry for you then you can forget it. You’ve had this coming for a long time.’

There was a pause on the other end. ‘I know, and…I’ve been doing some thinking, since she’s been gone. I’ve been so stupid, I just want to make everything right between us.’

Bray let out a slight, mirthless laugh. ‘I really don’t think that’s going to happen. She hates you right now.’

‘No Bray, between you and me. I’ve shut you out of my life and tried to stop you seeing Danni and that wasn’t fair. I need to apologise to you properly, but I don’t want to do it over the phone. Can we meet up to talk?’

‘Um, yeah. I guess so. How about I come over in ten minutes?’

‘No, I can’t do it now. Can you meet me at the depot after my shift tonight?’

‘Okay, sure. When do you clock off?’

‘Eleven.’

‘Eleven? That’s a pretty long shift.’

‘Well, what can I say. Making money takes time. See you at eleven then?’

‘See you later Martin.’ Bray put down the receiver and went to sit down. Martin certainly sounded remorseful. Maybe after all these years the two of them could reconcile after all.

And so it was that Bray found himself being driven to the depot that night by Lex, who wasn’t quite as impressed by Martin’s change of heart. ‘I still don’t trust him,’ he said. ‘Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?’

‘Relax Lex, he’s my brother. What’s he going to do?’

‘If you say so. Well, here we are. See you later.’

Bray stepped out of Lex’s car into the blanket of snow that covered the ground. He waved to his friend as he drove away and made his way towards the wooden portakabins that made up the offices of the truck company, passing by the rows of trucks glinting in the moonlight. Only his own footsteps and the now distant tyre marks from Lex’s car marred the snow’s surface, indicating that the depot had been empty for some time. He hoped he hadn’t missed his brother. Suddenly, bright lights obscured his vision and he had to raise his arm to shield his eyes. One of the trucks grunted into motion and began heading straight for him. The unmistakeable face of his brother visible in the carriage as his eyes became adjusted to the light. Shocked by what he saw, he found himself unable to move, his feet rooted in place in the snow.

‘BRAY!’

Immobilised by fear, Bray heard Lex’s voice but couldn’t think clearly. Lex, the truck and even the snow seemed to be in a different world. He barely felt his friend thudding into him, the pair of them flying out of the path of his insane brother in the truck and hitting the snow. As soon as the truck passed them by, everything rushed back into place inside his head. He rolled over in the snow to see Lex clutching his leg in agony. Apparently they didn’t quite make it out of Martin’s path completely unscathed. ‘Lex!’

‘Bray! The truck!’ Bray turned to see the truck making its way back towards them. As it came nearer, Martin leaned out of the window and began yelling at him. ‘If I can’t have her,’ he shouted. ‘Then nobody can!’ Suddenly Bray noticed that his brother was not alone in the truck. Next to him, bound and cowering with fear, was Danni. It was then that he realised that Martin was not attempting to run him down anymore. Helplessly he watched as the vehicle sped past him, straight into the nearest portakabin with a great crash and a splintering of wood. With barely a thought he ran over to the truck and yanked open the door to the passenger side.

‘Bray!’ Danni shrieked. ‘Help me!’ Minding the broken glass, he scooped the girl into his arms and carried her out of the vehicle. She had cuts on her face and arms but other than that seemed relatively unhurt. Sirens blared in the distance - apparently Lex had called for help before he came back to rescue him - but the only thing on his mind was Danni. He held her in his arms, checking her for any further injuries. The pair of them caught each other’s glance and held it. They just sat there for a while, looking at each other, and then Danni reached up, putting an arm around his neck so that she could kiss him deeply.

Soon afterwards several police cars and an ambulance arrived. They removed Martin from the truck and took him into the ambulance on a stretcher. Lex, Danni and Bray himself followed, so their own injuries could be treated. At some point, Bray was aware of the police talking to him and being asked to give a statement, but the rest of that night passed in a hazy blur.

Sunday 25th December

The following week passed by almost as quickly. On Christmas Eve, Bray received a knock on the door. It was Lex, who practically forced him out to spend the night at his house with Patsy and Brady, and of course Danni. ‘How can you still be in the mood for Christmas?’ Bray asked.

‘Because we have lots to celebrate!’ he replied. ‘We’re all fine, just about.’ He motioned to his right leg, which was in plaster. ‘Martin’s off to jail, where he won’t be able to bother any of us for a long time; Zandra’s letting me have Patsy and Brady until tomorrow afternoon, and it’s forecast more snow for tonight! Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that you and Danni have finally got it together after all this time!’ Bray blushed.

The next morning he found himself in Lex’s living room, along with Danni, Lex and the girls. Light shone on him as Patsy threw the curtains open and squealed with delight at the snow covering the garden. ‘How fun is this!’ she exclaimed. ‘Come on Brady, let’s build a snowman!’ Brady looked up excitedly, dropped the cookie she had been eating and beat Patsy to the door.

‘Don’t forget your hats and scarves!’ Lex called to them as they were about to leave. Patsy had anticipated this and managed to get out of the door before Brady had finished putting her scarf on. ‘So,’ she said, turning to Bray and Danni. ‘Who’s for presents?’

Bray looked at Danni, who nodded, and produced a present from behind the sofa. ‘This is to you, Lex,’ he said. ‘From both of us.’

‘Joint gifts already, eh?’ Lex joked. ‘It must be love! Ooh! Thank you!’ He held up a full-size Father Christmas outfit and inspected it, a broad grin on his face. ‘I’m going to put it on right now!’ Grabbing his crutches, covered in tinsel of course, he hobbled up the stairs to try on his costume.

‘Now that he’s gone,’ Danni whispered. ‘I’ve got something for you.’ She picked up a sparkly pink gift bag from underneath the tree and passed it to him. ‘Happy Christmas, Bray.’ He reached inside, frowning a little when he felt the contents. He pulled out a small pink thong with his name emblazoned on it in a glittering gold material.

‘That’s my Christmas present?’ he said, slightly confused. ‘I don’t think it’s quite me!’

Danni laughed at him. ‘No, silly!’ she said. ‘That’s just the wrapping.’ She slipped her dressing gown over one of her shoulders, revealing the bare skin beneath. ‘I just thought I’d help out a bit and do the unwrapping for you.’ She smiled sultrily, and he responded by leaning over and kissing her, as passionately as he knew how, while snow once more began to fall outside.

2 Likes

Yay… Stories for me to read… Yayayayay… It’s really Christmas :heart::star_struck:

So you made Bray the younger one… I like how you mixed in some names a little different… Making Brady Lex niece… I like that Lex and Bray are best buddies…

But woa… Martin is quiet the assh*le here :scream: he got what he deserved for sure!

I will read them all :grin:

Ooh, good spot! I didn’t even notice that when I did my re-read. Not sure if that was a conscious decision at the time or just a mistake!

Thanks for reading!

1 Like

Given that he was, is and always will be my fave… I spot every tiny about him in every story​:joy::joy::joy:

You even let him run in a sour Amber woman :joy::joy::joy:

1 Like

Lonely This Christmas

Written: 2006
Synopsis: One-shot Trudy/Lex pairing. The Mallrats return to the city to find their home looted. While the rest of the tribe look on the bright side, Trudy finds comfort in the most unlikely of places. Written for the Eyeboards Christmas Treats challenge 2006.

**

Original challenge:

Character(s): Trudy, Lex, Salene and Brady (and anyone else you want to write)
Pairing: Trudy/Lex
Tribal/Non-Tribal: Tribal
Three Lines:

  1. “Does it look like I care?”
  2. “That’s what you get when you mix love with hatred.”
  3. “Who put you in charge?”
    Three Objects: mirror, a red bow, a puzzle (jigsaw) piece

**

Trudy’s heart skipped with joy as the boat stopped and Darryl and the trader hopped out to tie the vessel securely to its mooring. As she stepped onto the wooden jetty she breathed out a huge sigh of relief. ‘Home!’ she said. ‘We’re finally home!’ They had been away from the city for months, trying to survive on a small island up the coast, but as soon as they felt it was safe everyone had been in favour of returning to the city. The journey back had been long, and the less said about Gel the better. Had Ebony not been suffering from severe seasickness, Trudy was sure that the younger girl would have been thrown overboard.

But none of that mattered now. They were home. Trudy followed the rest of her tribe back to the mall, carrying a sleeping Brady in her arms. When they got there, however, the place was in a state of chaos. Looters had ransacked the place while they had been away, and it appeared that everything that hadn’t been nailed down had been taken. The Mallrats all rushed off to inspect their rooms.

‘What have they done to our home?’ Salene cried, when everyone was assembled once more by the fountain.

‘Where’s all our stuff?’ the kids wailed. Lottie held out her hand to reveal a single jigsaw piece, apparently all that remained of her toys. The initial joy Trudy had felt at being back in the city had turned to a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

The tribe stood around in a depressed silence until Jack gave a small cough and produced a key from his pocket. ‘There might be something left,’ he said quietly, and made his way to the basement stores. Most of the tribe remained where they were, but Trudy, Salene and Lex followed him, intrigued. He led them to the furthest part of the room, where a shelving unit had been pulled over to reveal a door. Jack let out a sigh of relief when he saw that the heavy padlock was still intact and proceeded to unlock it with his key, open the door and step inside. The others followed him and found him standing by an open cupboard, holding a tin of beans. ‘There’s not much,’ he said. ‘But there should be enough to last until we can get back on our feet.’

‘That’s brilliant Jack!’ Salene enthused, walking further into the dark room. ‘What else is in here?’

Jack shrugged. ‘Just some stuff that was stored in the mall before the Virus,’ he said. ‘I never had a chance to sort through it all.’

‘Hey, look at this!’ Salene said. ‘A box of Christmas decorations and a tree! We haven’t celebrated Christmas in ages. Why don’t we do it now?’

‘What have we got to celebrate?’ Trudy asked, still reeling from the sight of the trashed mall.

Salene laughed. ‘Being back at home of course!’ she said. ‘Come on guys, help me carry this stuff upstairs.’

‘Who put you in charge?’ Lex moaned.

‘Come on guys,’ Salene repeated. ‘It’ll be fun! Just the thing to cheer everybody up!’ She tossed a Santa hat in Lex’s direction but he made no effort to catch it, letting it fall to the floor and giving Salene an ‘I wouldn’t be seen dead in that’ look. Her persistence paid off, however, as Trudy, Jack and Lex all found themselves carrying dusty boxes up to the mall.

Salene’s idea went down well with the rest of the tribe. Amber and Jay were delighted, the kids excited and even Ebony and Slade were won over when they found a stash of mistletoe in one of the boxes. Before long everything had been planned out. That night there was to be a Christmas Eve party, with presents the following morning. Each Mallrat had been allocated another tribe member to find a present for somewhere in the mall. Although she wasn’t in the mood for celebrating Christmas, Trudy thought it unfair to force her unhappiness on everyone else, and so she spent the afternoon present hunting, eventually finding three different sized balls to give to Darryl as a juggling set, and helping Brady to choose a dress for the party. In the end they settled on one that was made of a shimmery silver material that made her look like an angel. She finished it off by tying a big red bow in her daughter’s hair.

‘Thanks Mommy!’ Brady smiled. ‘Come on, party!’

‘Oh, no sweetheart,’ Trudy said. ‘Mommy isn’t coming to the party.’

Brady’s lip quivered and her eyes began to glisten with unshed tears. ‘Mommy not coming?’ she sobbed.

‘Well, okay,’ Trudy said grudgingly. ‘But only for a little while.’ Instantly placated, Brady skipped off to join the party. With a sigh Trudy quickly checked her appearance in the mirror and followed. Negotiating the dance floor, where the rest of the tribe were dancing to a medley of Christmas songs that Jack must have dug up from somewhere, as well as the usual cheesy pop songs that they got out at every party, she sat down where she could keep an eye on Brady but still be miserable in peace. Or so she thought.

‘Well haven’t you got a face like a wet weekend?’ Lex said, emerging from the shadows next to her, clutching a bottle.

‘Does it look like I care?’ she replied acidly. 'Of all the people that could have spotted her, why did it have to be Lex?

‘Lighten up Trude,’ he said, taking a swig of his bottle. ‘It’s Christmas, apparently.’

‘Some Christmas,’ she mumbled.

‘What happened to you anyway?’ he continued, and to her horror he sat down beside her. 'You were sickeningly happy this morning.

‘That was this morning,’ she said. ‘Before we came home to this.’ She gestured with her hand, past the Christmas tree with everyone’s presents underneath it and the fairy lights hung from anything and everything, to the walls covered in fresh graffiti and the rubbish swept to the wall to clear space for the dance floor.

‘So we live in a pigsty,’ Lex said. ‘Big deal.’

‘It’s not just that,’ she sighed. ‘It’s like whenever we manage to crawl out of one nightmare, we end up falling head first into another one. It never ends. It’s just…’ she trailed off.

‘It’s all too much,’ Lex finished.

‘Exactly,’ she said, a little surprised. ‘And it’s alright for Jay and Amber. Even Ebony.’

‘But it’s harder when you’re on your own.’

‘Yes,’ she said softly, looking at him. He sat with his head bowed, his long hair obscuring his face. With his tough guy exterior it was easy to forget that Lex had lost people too, and more than most. At least she knew for sure that Bray was dead and Jay was alive – even if he did seem to be permanently attached to Amber’s face these days. Lex didn’t know if he should be mourning Tai San or out looking for her.

‘She would have loved all this,’ he said, taking in the happy faces. ‘I miss her Trudy.’ He turned to look at her and she was surprised by how vulnerable he looked. Instinctively, she reached out and wiped a tear from his eye. He did the same; she hadn’t even realised she was crying. Then they kissed. How it happened and who instigated it she couldn’t say, but it happened.

‘No,’ she said, suddenly pushing Lex away. ‘This is wrong. I mean, we hate each other! How can this be happening?’

‘Well I guess that’s what happens when you mix love with hatred,’ he said.

‘No Lex,’ she replied, shocked. ‘Don’t say you love me. We’re both lonely, that’s all, and you’ve had a little too much to drink. It was a terrible mistake.’

But Lex wasn’t listening. ‘Love and hate,’ he mused. ‘Tai San used to say there was a fine line between them.’

‘It’s a very thick line,’ she argued. ‘Surrounded by a very large hedge. And a fence.’

‘Hedges die,’ he said, brushing her cheek gently. She didn’t stop him. ‘Fences can come down. Didn’t it feel better for a while?’

She tried to stop herself thinking about the kiss but couldn’t help herself; she remembered it all too well, and he was right. For a brief moment she hadn’t been lonely or afraid. She had felt safe. With Lex! She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

‘It would never work.’

‘It doesn’t hurt to try,’ he said, and kissed her again. This time she didn’t pull back.

‘It’s past midnight!’ Jack yelled from the stairs. ‘Merry Christmas everyone!’ The sound of cheering filled the mall, but Trudy barely noticed it.

‘Merry Christmas Trudy,’ Lex whispered in her ear.

‘Merry Christmas Lex,’ she replied.

2 Likes

Deaaaar me :astonished::astonished::astonished::astonished::astonished::astonished::astonished::astonished::astonished:

  • lost of words a moment * * takes a deep breath *

What a cute little Christmas “fairytale”

Jack the hero! Laughed imagining Slade and Ebony snpgging wildly under the mistletoe :joy: And the idea “Oh well the Mall is in ruins… But hey let’s celebrate Christmas” :joy:

Oh and Trudy still can magically find a good dress for Brady… Hihi… And alcohol is still there too…

That’s true tribal spirited (there always were things that made you think “Wait… How do they get all this?!”)

Though I’ D wish someone “better” to Trudy… Well the dating chances aren’t fat in the Mall… And at last… Maybe Lex learns one thing or the other about gentleness and care…!

(Though I now picture the entrance opening and the lost Mall Rats walking in with wide eyes… Imagine Tai-San :sweat_smile::scream:)

1 Like

Not got round to 2005, but had to read 2006’s Lonely This Christmas.

:heart: I want more. You already know I love your writing @MallRatMatt and if I got this as my SS I would be smiling from the rooftops. Epic. Somehow I think they would work you know, HAHAHA.

1 Like

Haha, not a pairing I’ve been tempted to write again - not sure it would work for longer than the next morning! But I do like this story still. I love how Secret Santa makes you think outside the box.

Thanks folks!

2 Likes

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Written: 2007
Synopsis: One-shot Trudy/Jack pairing. As the Mallrats prepare to celebrate Christmas, Trudy finds Jack’s festive spirit infectious. Written for the Tribe Talk Secret Santa Fic Exchange 2007.

**

Original challenge:

Characters: Jack, Trudy, Brady (and anyone else you want)
Pairing: Jack/Trudy
Props: Santa hat, christmas tree, book
Words/ Sentences: “I love you”, “I don’t believe in Santa”
Set: Tribeworld

**

It was early in the afternoon but already all the lights were on in the mall. The city was in the grip of a winter the likes of which hadn’t been seen since before the Virus; the days were dark and miserable and it had even started snowing a couple of days ago. The little ones of course thought this was fantastic and started building snowmen on the roof but the older members of the tribe, although at first delighted by the snow, soon began to fear they would be trapped in the mall and that the traders would be unable to bring food into the city. The general mood was one of depression.

In her room Trudy shivered with the cold and pulled the blanket she had around her for warmth tighter. She was listening to Brady reading from a book, one of a set that Jack had managed to find somewhere in the mall. She was amazed at how quickly her daughter had grown up; sometimes it seemed like only yesterday that she and Bray had arrived here, other times it felt like she had been here forever.

‘Mommy?’ Brady asked, screwing up her face in confusion. ‘What’s Christmas?’ She pronounced the new word she had read with difficulty and Trudy smiled. How long had it been since last Christmas?

‘Christmas means different things to different people,’ she explained. ‘But usually it involves people coming together with friends and family for a big celebration, and giving them gifts to show that you love them.’

‘I love you Mommy!’ Brady said.

‘Aww, I love you too sweetie,’ Trudy replied.

‘Why don’t we ever have Christmas?’

‘I don’t know, Brady, I guess we just never seem to have the time. Maybe we should.’ Brady laughed and started jumping around on the bed in excitement. ‘Why don’t we go ask Amber?’

Amber had been sceptical at first of course, but it hadn’t taken much to win her over to the idea. All the older members of the tribe were excited about having Christmas again – even Lex was enthusiastic, although he tried to pretend he didn’t care – and the younger ones were curious but looking forward to a party. The mood in the mall lightened overnight – it was just what the tribe needed.

The person most caught up in the festive mood was Jack. He had thrown himself into the preparations wholeheartedly, rummaging through the mall to find anything that could be used as decorations. He even managed to find some old Christmas CDs and a Santa hat, which he now wore all the time even though it was too big for him. His Christmas spirit was infectious and Trudy started to find reasons to be in the same room as him, taking Brady with her so they could both enjoy watching him in his childlike merriment, but more and more often she found herself going to see him alone.

It was on one of these occasions that it happened.

She had planned it so she was in the café on Christmas Eve when Jack came in to decorate the Christmas tree – where he had got it from she didn’t know but he had come back with it having been out most of the previous day. The rest of the tribe were busy finding presents for each other so it was just the two of them, not that there was anything wrong with that. After all, they were just friends. She smiled as he hummed carols to himself, tying pieces of string to various shiny metal things scavenged from his workshop and hanging them from the branches, and draping some of Gel’s feather boas around to act as tinsel. It was the strangest Christmas tree she had ever seen but it was wonderful. She laughed in delight.

‘You could help you know,’ he joked, twisting around on the small stepladder to look at her. He kept having to push his Santa hat up above his eyes so that he could see her.

‘But you’re doing such a good job by yourself!’ she replied, smiling at him. He quickly blushed and turned back to the tree; she also felt her cheeks colouring and looked at the floor. When she looked back up Jack was balancing on top of the ladder trying to perch a broken doll on the top of the tree for an angel. As he stretched to his full extent his hat once again fell over his eyes and he lost his balance. ‘Jack!’ she cried, putting aside her mug of coffee and rushing over to his aid.

‘I’m ok,’ he said confidently before the stepladder fell from underneath him with a clatter and he was left dangling from the top of the tree.

‘Hold still!’ she cried, trying to grab hold of his flailing legs but to no avail. As the tree fell under his weight he managed to jump off into Trudy’s arms and the pair stumbled and fell on the floor. The crash of the tree and its metal ornaments next to them brought the rest of the Mallrats rushing in to investigate.

‘Jack,’ Trudy said breathlessly as he lay on top of her.

‘What is it?’ he asked, looking into her eyes.

‘You’re squashing me.’

Startled, Jack quickly got up and held out his hand for her to do the same, while the rest of the tribe fussed around them and inspected the damage. The image of his face so close to hers remained ingrained in her mind. That and the suspicious look Ellie had shot her afterwards, and the resulting feeling of guilt, made her realise what had happened; she had fallen for Jack, and she was pretty sure he had feelings for her too.

Later that afternoon he came to her room.

‘Trudy,’ he said as he entered. ‘I came to…’ he trailed off.

‘Yes Jack?’ she said softly, her heartbeat quickening.

‘I came to…to see Brady,’ he finished in a rush. ‘I wanted to see what she was asking Santa for,’ he said.

‘I don’t believe in Santa,’ Brady stated confidently. She had gone round asking everybody about Christmas and now considered herself an expert on the subject.

‘You don’t believe in Santa?’ Jack asked, feigning shock. ‘Well I do, and I’m writing a list of what everybody wants so he knows what to bring tonight. You don’t want to get something you don’t want do you?’

No longer so sure of herself Brady answered, ‘A doll please,’ then quickly added, ‘But I still don’t believe in Santa!’ Trudy laughed.

‘Alright then,’ Jack said. ‘I’ll go and finish my letter to Santa. Bye Brady. Bye Trudy.’ He gave her a last lingering look before he left.

‘Bye Jack,’ she said sadly.

That night Trudy was lying in her bed, unable to sleep for thoughts of Jack, when she heard a shuffling noise from outside her room. ‘Who’s there?’ she asked softly so as not to wake Brady. The noise stopped and she lay her head back down on her pillow, then a short while later somebody came in. It was Santa, or rather someone dressed as Santa. He looked at her for a few moments, then put a present by Brady’s bed and made as if to leave.

‘Wait!’ she said, diving out of bed to intercept Santa, although even before he turned round and she saw his eyes she knew it had to be Jack.

‘Trudy,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry if I startled you. It’s just that…I had to see you again. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you all day. I thought if I could tell you while you were sleeping it would be easier, but I couldn’t.’

‘I feel the same way Jack,’ she said. ‘I don’t know how it happened but I do.’

‘But…what about Ellie? I can’t…’

‘I’m not asking you to leave Ellie,’ she said. ‘Just kiss me. Please, just once.’

Jack’s mouth flashed in a brief, nervous smile and he gave the barest of nods before pulling down his beard. When their lips touched, both of them knew that it would not be for the last time.

From her bed Brady smiled as her mommy and Santa kissed. He must be real after all, she thought. How else could he have known that what she really wanted for Christmas was a daddy?

4 Likes

Oh it’s so nice to read something with breakfast​:heart:

And awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! (and many “aaaw’s” more!)

Though of course I feel now very sory for “my” Ellie(:joy:) it’s touching how they fall for each other. And imaginable for sure. Given that they all have grown up… Why shouldn’t Jack see that he has outgrown his normal relation… And Trudy is alone for so long (let’s not count Jay here) and Jack has somehow given her hope back with his festive mood…

And I can clearly imagine Jack like that… So enthusiastic about Christmas. :heart:

Uhuuu… And Brady… So cute… But now I imagine also the drama when she maybe innocently tells she saw mommy kissing Santa… :see_no_evil::joy::sweat_smile:

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I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa :heart:

This was just so magical and had me smiling throughout. Thank you @MallRatMatt I really hope you are my SS this year. :slight_smile:

1 Like

She totally would!

You’d Better Watch Out

Written: 2008
Synopsis: A quiet year for the Tribe community so this fic is based on TheTribe.co.uk’s ‘Sector 4’ fan series. As the Strays prepare to celebrate Christmas with Breeze, it’s not Santa Claus but the Chosen who are coming to town. Can they reach the farm safely?

(I recommend watching both series of Sector 4 to get the most out of this one!)

**

‘I still say this is a bad idea,’ Alexandra sniffed.

‘Give it a rest, will you?’ sighed Zander, slamming the grille shut and then checking to make sure it was secure.

‘I’m just saying,’ Alexandra said in a put-upon tone. ‘That flimsy bit of metal didn’t stop us from getting in; it won’t stop anyone else who wants to get in either. We could come back and find the place trashed, and for what? It’s not even Christmas!’

‘It might be,’ Grace argued. ‘It’s not like anyone has calendars anymore, and it’s the right time of year for it. Anyway, it was really nice of Breeze to invite us over, and it’ll be good to see Blaine and Syan again. Don’t let’s spoil it now.’

‘You don’t have to come if you don’t want to,’ Drake added, folding his arms.

‘I never said I wasn’t coming,’ replied Alexandra, holding her hands up defensively. ‘Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.’

‘Duly noted,’ Zander said sarcastically. ‘Now let’s go, we don’t want to be late.’ He took Grace’s hand and set off, with Drake following behind pushing a barrow full of presents they were taking to the farm, a few batteries and bottles of water. Alexandra looked back at the Youth Centre, shook her head, and followed.

Their first port of call was the Trading Post, where they were greeted by Jaz and Esme. Grace shivered as she saw the empty stall at the end of the row. Evidently the Traders still hadn’t found anybody to take over the running of Tobias’ stall. Turning back, she saw Zander and Jaz hugging and unconsciously twisted the engagement ring on her finger, the way she always did when the two of them were in close proximity.

‘Have you set a date yet?’ Esme asked her. ‘For the wedding?’

Grace forced her hands back down to her sides. ‘Not yet,’ she replied. ‘Things have been a bit hectic lately.’

‘Of course,’ Esme nodded. ‘You’ve made a wonderful recovery. You’d never guess, looking at you, that, you know…’

‘That I had the Virus? It’s ok, you can say it.’

‘Yes, well,’ Esme continued. ‘It’ll be nice to have something to celebrate, won’t it? And don’t forget, if you need caterers…’

‘You’ll be my first choice,’ Grace said, smiling weakly.

‘Excellent!’ Esme smiled, turning back to her stall. ‘Jaz! What are you doing?’

‘Don’t worry, I’ve paid for them!’ Jaz replied, slipping some tins of food into Drake’s wheelbarrow. Esme nodded, and Grace went to join the rest of the Strays.

‘It’s quiet at the Trading Post today,’ Zander noted.

‘It’s been quiet all week,’ Jaz replied. ‘People are scared of something. Esme reckons there must be some new tribe throwing their weight around.’

‘The perfect time for us to leave our home and take a walk in the woods,’ Alexandra said, but Zander ignored her.

‘It’s early days yet,’ he told Jaz. ‘It could just be a rumour.’

‘Better to be careful though,’ said Drake. ‘Everyone keep together; no wandering off.’

Zander nodded. ‘We’d better get going again,’ he said. ‘Get there while it’s still light.’

With a little less enthusiasm than before, the group rejoined the road that led out of the City. ‘Have a nice time!’ Esme shouted, waving them off.

‘She’s not coming with us?’ Zander asked.

‘I did ask,’ Jaz replied. ‘But she said somebody had to stay and look after the stalls.’

The Strays carried on walking, reaching the edge of the woods by midday. Jaz and Zander led the way, followed by Grace, Drake and Alexandra.

‘You’ve finally accepted it then?’ Alexandra said to Grace after a while.

‘What are you talking about?’ Grace replied.

‘Why, those two of course.’ Alexandra motioned in front of them with her head. ‘Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed? If he were my fiancé, God forbid, there’s no way I’d let them carry on like that.’

‘They’re only walking, Alexandra,’ Grace sighed, twirling her engagement ring.

‘If you say so,’ the other girl smiled. ‘But…’

‘Alexandra,’ Grace interrupted. ‘Just shut up.’

‘Charming!’ Alexandra replied. ‘I was only trying to…ow!’ Grace looked around to see Alexandra rubbing the back of her leg where Drake had run into it with the wheelbarrow.

‘Sorry,’ he said to her with a flat-eyed stare. ‘I wasn’t looking where I was going.’

As Drake and Alexandra argued, Grace walked into the woods for some peace and quiet, though staying close to the edge so she could still see the others. It was warmer in the wood, with the cover of the trees, and she found herself relaxing muscles she hadn’t realised she had tensed. Birds chirped above her head and she saw squirrels darting behind the trees as she passed. Just then a twig snapped behind her, deeper in the woods. The birds fell silent and she froze, tensing up again. Slowly she turned around, searching for the source of the noise. She saw nothing, at first, then a flicker of movement drew her eyes to a dark shape – a shape that resolved into a crouching figure in a dark robe. Then the figure stood up and she screamed. Within moments the rest of her group were there, but the man in the cloak had vanished.

‘What is it, what’s wrong?’ Drake asked.

‘Are you alright?’ echoed Jaz.

‘What were you doing on your own?’ spluttered a worried Zander.

‘I saw someone,’ she explained. ‘Behind that bush, watching me.’

‘Just stick with me, ok?’ Zander said, putting his arm around her. ‘In fact everyone, stay together. It’s not far now.’

They continued on their way, but closer together and moving more quickly than before. A short while later Alexandra walked up to Grace’s side and, with a look that took in Zander’s arm around her shoulder, gave her a wink and whispered ‘Nice work!’ Grace just shook her head. Before long the party was completely surrounded by trees, and it was beginning to get dark. Every sound made them turn their heads and quicken their step. Finally the clearing where the farm lay came into view and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Then a rustling in the bushes made Grace turn around, but this time it was Alexandra who screamed as robed figure after robed figure emerged from the trees and started to walk towards them.

‘Run!’ Zander shouted, grabbing Grace’s hand, and everyone ran for the farm. It soon came into view, with its welcoming lights, and the smoke from the chimney bringing the delicious smells of farm cooking. Drake was last to the gate, struggling with the wheelbarrow that he hadn’t abandoned, but a look behind showed that he was in no immediate danger. The blue-hooded figures, eight in total, stood watching from the edge of the wood, then one by one they returned to the darkness.

‘Who are they?’ Drake asked, panting.

‘I don’t know,’ Jaz replied. ‘But it looks like Esme’s rumours are true. No wonder people are afraid to come and trade with those creeps about.’ She shivered, and looked to Zander, but all his attention was on Grace. Instead, Jaz knocked on the heavy oak door, eager to be safe inside the farmhouse.

‘Breeze!’ she cried as her friend opened the door, wearing an apron and covered in flour. ‘It’s so good to see you!’

‘Jaz! You made it!’ Breeze beamed. ‘But you all look like you’ve seen a ghost! What’s the matter?’ As the Farm Girl led them inside to the warmth of the main house, the Strays told their tale, with Breeze looking more and more worried by the second. ‘Dawn thought she saw something in the woods yesterday,’ she said. ‘But I had no idea…If I’d known how dangerous it was out there I’d never have asked you to make the journey. If you want to stay a few days until it’s safe…’

‘Thanks Breeze,’ Zander said. ‘But we’ll just stay the one night like we planned, then we really should get back and check on the Youth Centre.’ Alexandra gave a self-satisfied smile but Breeze just nodded.

‘Of course,’ she said. ‘I’ll ask Dawn to take you to the City in the cart tomorrow. There’s a route that cuts off the woods altogether.’ The Strays and Jaz murmured their thanks. ‘Well,’ Breeze continued. ‘Now that’s all sorted, there are a couple of people here who are going to be so pleased to see you!’ She opened the door to the kitchen and two black dogs appeared, barking happily at her feet. The noise caught the attention of the other occupants of the room, Blaine and Syan, who instantly stopped their preparations for dinner and came to greet their friends. There were hugs for all, even Alexandra. Syan was soon drawn to Grace’s engagement ring, then loudly asked Blaine when he was going to get one for Breeze. His cheeks turning a bright crimson, he was spared from answering by a knock at the door that made the Strays tense up and give each other worried glances.

‘It’s ok,’ Breeze cried, slipping through the crowd to answer the door. ‘I invited a couple more people, that’s all.’ Sure enough, a familiar voice soon came from outside.

‘Breeze, Happy Christmas!’ Vanessa greeted. ‘How is Ellie?’

‘A complete recovery!’ Breeze replied. ‘She’s in the City with Alice at the moment. Come in, come in! How is…your friend?’

‘Oh, much better,’ Vanessa replied. ‘Still not talking, but calmer.’ The muffled tone left her voice as she entered the kitchen, followed by the blue-haired kid she had taken under her wing the last time the Strays had seen her. Grace and Syan were particularly pleased to see her, since it was thanks to her that they had found out about the antidote to the Virus. She spent some time talking to the pair of them, enquiring as to their recovery, while her companion latched onto Blaine, who he seemed to have taken a liking to, and started poking him. It was quite a chaotic scene with so many people in the kitchen, but before long Breeze had control of the situation, sitting everybody around the table where they were joined by Dawn and the remaining Farm Girls for a dinner of goose, potatoes and vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies.

‘That was the best meal I’ve had since before the Virus,’ Grace said, holding her stomach, and everyone agreed. Blaine and Syan, either side of Breeze, smiled at each other, proud of their involvement in the cooking.

Afterwards they exchanged gifts, with the Strays and Jaz each receiving a basket of fresh vegetables, bread, milk and cider from the Farm Girls, and a First Aid kit and medicines from Vanessa. Breeze used one of the batteries she had been given to set up some music, and soon everybody was talking and dancing and having a good time, even Alexandra. Vanessa’s companion amused himself by chasing the dogs around the table, Drake spent time talking to one of the Farm Girls, and Blaine finally managed to get a few moments alone with Breeze.

‘Merry Christmas,’ he said to her, holding up a slightly withered piece of mistletoe.

‘Blaine!’ she giggled. ‘Where did you get that?’ She kissed him lightly on the lips. ‘Merry Christmas to you, too.’

The party continued long into the night, until finally Breeze showed her exhausted guests to their beds. In the morning, fog shrouded the woods, and the fear of what might lie in wait there returned to the Strays’ minds. As promised, though, Dawn readied the cart and took them back to the City by a different route, waved off by Breeze, Blaine, Syan and Vanessa, who was staying at the farm an extra day.

When they were well clear of the woods, and the more substantial buildings that signalled the outskirts of the City came into view, Dawn stopped the cart and let them off, wishing them well. As they said their goodbyes to her, and then a short while later to Jaz, back to the Trading Post, the Strays started to think about their home and what might have happened to it while they had been away. Zander tried to keep their spirits up by reminding them of the night before, but even he looked worried. When they got back to the Youth Centre, though, they found the grille still shut tight and the building secure, with no sign that anybody had tried to get in or even been in the area. Settling back into their normal routine, they soon forgot about their run-in with the hooded strangers, and the Farm Girls never saw them in the woods after that day. In fact it was to be many months before anybody on the farm or in Sector 4 met them again.

And by then the whole City would know of the Chosen.

3 Likes

Okay… That’s a good write… But of course it’s confusing for I sat there like “Huh?! Who are they?!”

So Sector 4 is a fan made series? Those Strays live as a Tribe there and their paths sometimes cross with those of the Mall Rats?!

1 Like

Thanks! Yeah, this is quite a niche story!

Yup, Sector 4 was the first fan series from what became Tribe Sector 4 Productions. I joined the later ones but wasn’t in Sector 4. They’re mostly set in the same timeline as the Mallrats so they do get referenced, and later on some of the Tribe cast got involved with some voice acting, which was really cool!

The productions can all be found here.

1 Like

That is just the special thing on that series… It inspires people and opens them for creativity!

1 Like

I Saw Three Ships

Written: 2009
Synopsis: Alice experiences her perfect Christmas, but everything is not as it seems.

**

Alice hummed happily to herself as she placed the tray of mince pies in the oven, and adjusted the scarf that held her hair back from her face, leaving traces of flour amongst the auburn curls. She checked on her sauce and the potatoes, then removed her apron and hung it on the peg on the back of the door; a few minutes to relax with a glass of wine, then she would return to her Christmas dinner preparations. She didn’t notice the person sneaking up behind her until a pair of large hands cupped themselves over her eyes and a man’s voice jovially barked ‘Guess who!’

Wriggling free from her captor she turned to face him, her smile turning to a confused frown when she saw that it was Ned. This can’t be right , she thought to herself.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked, then gave a cheeky grin. ‘Were you expecting somebody else?’

As soon as he smiled at her she forgot whatever had been bothering her and smiled back. ‘Of course not,’ she said warmly, kissing him on the cheek. ‘Why don’t we go through and see the others?’ A small voice at the back of her head told her that something was wrong, but she quickly suppressed it, like swatting an irritating fly. Taking Ned’s hand she opened the door to the farmhouse’s main living area and walked through. She beamed in delight at the scene that greeted her. The long oak table in the middle of the room was decked with wreaths of holly and pine cones from outside, and the light of candle flames flickered from the large iron candle holders hanging from the ceiling. The whole place had a warm, welcoming glow. At one end of the room Tally and Andy sat dozing by the fire, their paper hats sitting skewed on top of their heads as they rested against each other. Next to them Ellie stood halfway up a stepladder, pausing in the act of placing a star on top of the Christmas tree to smile at her sister. A moment later her attention was elsewhere again as she playfully slapped Jack’s hand as he reached for one of the candy canes hanging from a branch below her. Only KC seemed out of place, staring at Alice with sad eyes from a stool in the corner of the room, his face smeared with dirt and sand, and his clothes torn. She sighed regretfully as the voice at the back of her head returned. This time she knew why.

‘What’s the matter?’ Ned asked, putting his arm around her. ‘I thought you’d like it. I thought you’d be pleased.’ Ellie, Jack, Tally and Andy were now all looking at her with disappointment on their faces. KC was nowhere to be seen.

She turned to face Ned. ‘It’s perfect, love,’ she said, a wave of sadness washing over her. Gently raising a hand to his face, she stopped herself short of touching him. ‘It’s too perfect.’ A flash of anger passing through her, she strode to the centre of the room, turning on the spot and shooting accusing looks at the walls, ignoring the people in the room who now only stood looking dumbly ahead of them. ‘Congratulations!’ she spat as she turned, the whole world suddenly flickering queasily. ‘You nearly had me that time! What next? The Virus never happened?’ The world flickered ever more violently and she heard voices around her; voices she recognised as the enemy. She cried out in pain and anger as the world was suddenly ripped away from her and she was left in darkness.

With a gasp she sucked in air as if she had surfaced from underwater just short of drowning. It seemed to take forever but gradually her rasping subsided and her mind remembered the reality she was in. With a sigh of resignation she lowered her head, her hair falling sweatily in front of her face.

‘Again!’ a female voice somewhere above and in front of her demanded and a bright light came on, illuminating the previously dark room and revealing a man standing in front of her, dressed in the black uniform of the Technos and holding the Reality Space headset he had removed from her. Though she was tied and bound in her chair, he looked worried. She made a show of lunging towards him, snarling, and he leapt back as if she would break through her bonds. I’m safe as long as they’re afraid of me , she told herself.

‘Again!’ the voice repeated, impatiently. Alice tossed her head to move her hair away from her face and glare at the half dozen or so Technos on the dais above her. They all ignored her.

‘I…I don’t think that’s a good idea,’ the Techno in front of her stammered. ‘She’s practically feral already!’ She snarled again and the Techno yelped.

The female Techno on the dais sighed in vexation. ‘Very well then, take her away,’ she snapped. ‘Bring the next one in.’ Immediately two guards dressed in samurai-like armour appeared at her side and undid the straps that held her to the chair, though not the chains that bound her hands and feet. Native islanders, they had been gathered up by the Technos when they set up their prison camp here. Her attempts at switching their allegiance had remained unsuccessful, however; they had completely thrown their lot in with the Technos.

Letting herself be led away by the guards, she forced herself to concentrate on each step, of the feel of her boots on her feet, and the weight of her chains; the friction of the cuffs around her wrists and legs. It was the only way she could distinguish between real life and Reality Space. As she emerged from the concrete building that housed the Techno garrison, the muggy heat of the island hit her and she averted her eyes from the glare of the sun. Light glinted off the armour of the Islanders she passed as she was taken down the rocky path that led to the beach cells, and she began to feel dizzy. By the position of the sun in the sky she judged that she had missed the prisoners’ midday meal, and it would be hours before they would be brought food and water again. They had never kept her that long before, but she tried not to think about what that might mean. Before long she reached the huge cage that housed the prisoners. The guards at the gate stirred as the gate was unlocked, ready to repel any resistance from inside, though that had long since been driven out of everyone’s minds. One of the guards who had escorted her back from the cliffs gave her a rough shove and she tumbled inside the cage, falling to her knees as the cage door clanged shut. She felt as though she would never stand up again.

She felt a shadow falling over her but didn’t raise her head. Then a hand placed itself gently on her arm and she heard a familiar deep voice.

‘Here,’ KC said, pushing a water skin at her. ‘I saved some for you, but don’t let them see.’ He meant the other prisoners as well as the guards, she knew. He spoke in a determined whisper, sympathetic but not about to let her wallow in her own self-pity. It was the way they spoke to each other each time one of them returned from that concrete building, and it spurred her to stand shakily and let KC lead her to a more secluded part of the beach. There, resting against the cage wall, she wet her parched lips with the water before pouring what was left down her throat. KC took out a squashed piece of bread from his pocket and gave that to her, too. ‘It’s all I could hide,’ he said apologetically, but she ate it ravenously, making noises she hoped passed for thanks as she did so. Their eyes met as she passed back the empty water skin and she looked away quickly. It always pained her to see KC’s eyes. Captivity had hardened them all, it was true, but she remembered KC’s cheeky smile and the mischievous glint in his eyes he had had before the Technos arrived, that had so much been a part of him. He was physically older too, of course, and as tall as she was now. Even in his dishevelled state he had grown into a handsome young man, except for those eyes.

At the flicker of movement they both tensed like coiled springs. A group of prisoners shuffled past them and sat down in the sand. One of them had blood on his face. At the sight of their tribal markings, two clock hands, one on the forehead and the other on the cheek, KC relaxed. It wasn’t just the Technos and the Islander guards you had to look out for here; there had been many fights among the prisoners too, but the Timekeepers wouldn’t dare start any trouble, certainly not now. Alice did not relax, however, but stared at them through narrowed eyes. They noticed, and became visibly nervous.

‘It’s not their fault, Alice.’ KC said softly, putting a hand on her arm.

Almost a fortnight ago the Timekeepers suddenly became excited. As a tribe they held to the old calendar where others had forgotten it, and they had announced that it was the start of Advent, that soon it would be Christmas. They had meant it as a way of keeping their spirits up; after all, everyone had to hold onto something. Indeed for that first few days the mood in the camp was lighter, but the Technos noticed. It didn’t take long for them to ferret out the reason, and since then their Reality Space experiments became even more twisted, torturing the prisoners with visions of celebrations they could never have, then turning them into the stuff of nightmares. It was even more unfortunate for the Timekeepers that the Technos chose this time to introduce their upgraded headsets.

‘It’s worse than you can imagine, KC’ she said. Her fellow Mallrat hadn’t yet been subjected to the new experiments, but this was the second time she had been taken. At first nothing had seemed any different, apart from the new headset, a lightweight visor over the eyes rather than a helmet. But then some of the prisoners started talking about seeing impossible things in Reality Space, dead parents and long lost friends, and it soon became clear that the Technos weren’t just using virtual copies of people they had scanned into their systems anymore. These new headsets could pull someone out of your very memories. Anyone who was ever close to you, anyone you had ever lost, could appear to torture you in Reality Space. The first time it had been her mother, so disappointed with her, weeping and blaming her for Ellie’s death. Only the belief that her sister was alive and well out there, somewhere, had kept her sane during that one. And this time, Ned. The life they could have lived, together, at the farm.

‘It’s not real,’ KC said in the guilty way of someone who knows it is easy to say. ‘We just have to keep telling ourselves.’

‘Every time it gets harder to tell,’ she sighed.

‘That’s why we’ve got to be there for each other,’ KC pointed out. ‘All of us. We have to stick together or the Technos have won.’ With that he stood and walked over to the group of Timekeepers. At first they exchanged nervous glances among themselves and cowered from the advancing Mallrat, but KC just knelt among them, talking softly. Alice couldn’t hear what he was saying, but a nod here and a pat on the back there and soon the Timekeepers were beaming and looking up at him in awe. One of them looked over to Alice and smiled, and she forced herself to nod back. The pain of what she had seen was still too fresh to do more, but KC was right. It wasn’t the Timekeepers’ fault.

The smiles soon stopped at the clang of the compound gate. The escort of Islanders and Technos returned, and Alice felt relieved when they headed for the opposite end of the camp. Soon after they came back, with the Guardian marching alongside them as if they were his personal guard. The supporters he had somehow gathered since his arrival cheered as he was led away. It was a mark of the Technos’ contempt that they tolerated his having followers at all. With another clang of steel they were gone, and everything was back to normal. KC came to sit beside her once more.

‘No prizes for guessing what he’ll be seeing,’ he muttered.

‘Almighty Zoot in a manger no doubt,’ she replied, her mouth twisting in distaste. ‘At least all this Reality Space testing doesn’t seem to affect him. I almost envy the guy.’

A sudden commotion made her look up, to where a crowd was gathering at the other end of the camp, where the Guardian had just passed through.

‘Another riot?’

‘I don’t think so,’ KC frowned, taking a step. ‘Something else.’

‘Look!’ One of the Timekeepers cried, rushing towards the mesh followed by her comrades. Alice joined them, peering out of the gaps in the direction they and the rest of the prisoners further up the beach were looking. Out to sea.

‘KC!’ she gasped, disbelievingly.

‘I see them,’ he replied in the same tone. He was also at the mesh, pressing himself as close as he could.

Ships. The first signs of human life they had seen from off the island for months. These weren’t the familiar Techno transport vessels either, but two large fishing boats heading for the cove, and one smaller boat chugging along a short distance behind them. The whole compound was gathered along the beach watching the shore now, including the Islanders and the few Technos who were outside. The Guardian’s escort, halfway up the cliff now, had also seen the approaching vessels and were making their way back down, apart from a lone Techno who was racing up to the headquarters building.

‘They weren’t expecting this,’ she whispered. The Timekeepers murmured excitedly among themselves, but KC just kept watching the boats.

‘They might not be friendly to the Technos, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be friendly to us,’ he said flatly.

It seemed to take an age for the first ship to reach the shore. When the first figures disembarked the mood in the camp darkened. It was more Technos, bringing a large amount of prisoners. From the way they were dressed Alice thought they were from the City. The guards on the beach relaxed and went to meet them, then suddenly everything started happening at once. The Technos from the boat began to fire their weapons at those on the beach, and the ‘prisoners’ let out a war cry and rushed forward too, their bonds actually bats and clubs and flails. Soon the beach was awash with the noise of battle, clubs and chains against Islander spears, and zapper against zapper. Alice and KC stared at each other in disbelief, and some of the other prisoners started cheering and throwing stones over the cage walls at the guards, who were torn between staying where they were and joining the fight. After the initial advance of the invasion force, the Technos and Islanders had regrouped, and reinforcements were rushing down from the cliffs, but already the second boat had landed, bringing with it another wave of City forces and a small number of Technos. Alice didn’t understand it, but right now she didn’t care. Soon she and KC were cheering just as loudly as the Timekeepers and everyone else in the compound.

‘Power and Chaos!’ the Guardian cried from the middle of the beach, raising his arms above his head. He brought them down again so that the chain that linked his wrists wrapped itself around the neck of the one guard that remained with him. The Islander made a choking sound and tugged vainly at the chain with his hands, before the Guardian let him fall to the sand. He then grabbed the loop of keys from the guard’s belt and freed himself, dropping to his knees and muttering to the sky, talking to Zoot. Bringing the keys over to the cage, he tried each one in the lock in turn, laughing to himself as he did so. Finally he found the correct key and the gate swung open under the force of everyone pushing their way out.

‘Come, my children!’ he shouted triumphantly. ‘Join the Chaos! Zoot has delivered us!’

KC took a step towards the gate and Alice put a restraining hand on his shoulder. He looked back at her, confused.

‘Tell me this isn’t Reality Space!’ she pleaded.

‘It’s real, Alice!’ He gave a cheeky grin and suddenly he was the old KC again, and she knew it was all really happening. She grinned back and they stumbled forwards in their chains to the now open gate. Another of the prisoners, one of the Timekeepers, had wrested the keys from the Guardian, now giggling madly by the cage, and was removing the chains from everyone who wasn’t impatient enough to leave still bound. Most of those were being taken down by the guards, though some, like the Guardian had, were using their bonds as weapons. Flexing her wrists as her chains snapped open, she laughed and clapped the Timekeeper on the back so hard that he almost toppled over.

‘Come on KC,’ she told her friend, who was rubbing his liberated ankles. ‘We can’t let the others have all the fun.’

The pair of them strode out onto the battlefield, Alice’s fists itching for a fight and KC’s eyes scanning for any incoming zapper fire. It was KC who saw them first.

‘Alice, look!’ he yelled over the noise. ‘The boat!’

Alice looked, and laughed in delight. The final boat, the smallest of the three, had finally landed, and some of its passengers looked very familiar. Two Technos stood on deck still, their weapons ready to fire at anyone who approached. Behind them stood Amber and Trudy with their children. The rest of the Mallrats, and others Alice did not know, were already joining the battle. Ebony fought side by side with a man in a red leather jacket, bringing down Technos and Islanders alike. Close by, Lex and another young man were fending off a group of the Islander guards, struggling against the enemy’s weapons but soon bolstered by the arrival of May and Salene to even the odds. Others had come off the boat too, but Alice only had eyes for one. Ellie stood on her own, fighting against two Islanders, but giving as good as she got and soon despatching both of them and moving on in search of her next quarry. As the next one fell she looked up and saw her sister. Utter shock and then delight crossed her face and she started towards her. Alice did the same, leaving KC behind for the moment and swiftly dealing with anyone who got in her way. Two Islanders stepped into her path and she cracked their heads together, pushing them in opposite directions to clear her way. A Techno aimed a zapper at her but she kneed him in the groin and stepped over him as he lay doubled over in pain. Then the female Techno who had ordered her to be tortured again that afternoon was facing her. Surprise crossed both their faces, but only for an instant.

The female Techno gave a satisfied smirk. ‘Oh, this will be a pleas…’ she began, then fell to the floor unconscious as Alice punched her in the face.

‘Blah, blah, blah,’ Alice muttered to herself, without breaking her stride. ‘Write me a letter if you have so much to say.’

‘Alice!’

‘Ellie!’

The two sisters reached each other and embraced.

‘I was afraid I’d never see you again!’ Ellie said, her words muffled by her sister’s body pressed tightly to her.

‘DUCK!’ came a shout, and somebody careered into them, knocking them both to the floor just as the pulse from a Techno weapon flew past Alice’s ear. She turned her head in time to see KC hitting the owner of the weapon with a baseball bat before she landed on something uncomfortable.

‘Can’t…breathe,’ the thing wheezed.

‘Jack!’

They all three stood up and brushed the sand from their clothes, and Ellie hugged Jack. It was clear that the battle on the beach was nearing its end now, with the City invaders the clear winners, though not without casualties. The Mallrats were heading towards each other again; May was supporting an injured Lex, while Ebony looked as though she was nursing a broken arm. Elsewhere Salene had found KC and looked like she would never let go of him, and Amber was making her way onto the beach. One of the Technos had his arm around her.

‘What’s wrong Alice?’ Ellie asked, and Alice realised she was crying.

‘They were right,’ she laughed, wiping her eyes. ‘It really is Christmas.’

Ellie and Jack looked at her in confusion, but she gathered them up with an arm around each and walked along the beach towards the rest of her friends, laughing all the way.

2 Likes

Absolutely! There’s a reason it’s stayed with so many of us for so long.

EDIT: Oh, and just as a fun fact - I also referenced the Strays in Light of Day, when Link was investigating Sector 4. So they’re canon in my world too! :rofl:

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@MallRatMatt This is all putting me in the festive mood even though I’ve tried to sworn it off! Happy to see my gal Trudy get herself two Merry Christmases, though hoping they won’t be the last :wink:!

I also enjoyed the last one with Alice.