Summary: I'm blaspheming again. *tsks* Yeah, so that God?n?Lucifer fic I wrote a while back: The Joy of Losing? Well, I guess it has a sequel now. A fic for Christmas cheer and the ones we love. Hate. Tolerate.
Categories: General Fanfic Characters: Adam
Warnings: Language (mild)
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Word count: 2492 Read: 180
Published: 10 Jun 2007 Updated: 10 Jun 2007
1 by UseTheForceEm
The Morningstar thinks it?s rather morbid that everyone assumes he can?t bear to hear, see or touch anything heavenly. Propaganda, like so many other things. Surely he would prefer not to be submerged in a vat of holy water, but it?s more for the lesser demons to worry about. A control of sorts. Not that he has ever let them know that. It would not be the wisest move, and he has always been a flawless tactician.
He?s sulking again. He seems to do that quite a lot whenever the old man is around.
It is to be expected after a fashion.
?You promised you?d come down next time.?
The older man sighs and pulls back the curtain on a window. Neither the curtain nor the window actually exist, of course, but he seems to like the effect it creates, the snow falling outside. ?I know, and I am dreadfully sorry about it, but you know, time of year and all that.?
?So, why didn?t you just wait? Come down for the New Year or some such??
The Almighty peers at him out of the corner of his eye. ?Seems sort of tragic to spend this day alone, don?t you think??
?No.? Lucifer kicks a chair out from the only table, spins it around and straddles it, resting his arms across the top. He is the picture of haughty, disdainful perfection. ?Anyway, what are you talking about? You?ve got the whole bloody Heavenly Choir singing you Rudolph the fucking Red-Nosed Reindeer all day.?
?Not the same as actually having someone around to talk to.? The old man sits down across from him, placing two glasses of warm eggnog on the tabletop.
?Oh, really. You are such a sentimental bastard, you know.?
Sip. Pause. ?And what would you have me be, hm??
The younger mutters something under his breath and God is certain that he hears the word ?backbone? somewhere in there.
?Nothing gets by you, does it?? The Morningstar pulls the cup of eggnog toward him too fast, and it splashes on the table. He licks across the backs of his fingers where drops have fallen, but makes no move to clean up the mess. The old man doesn?t either.
The Almighty is keenly perceptive as ever, though the other is never sure if he?s just that good of a reader or he gets his information through other channels. ?You would like for me to be angry??
?I thought you?d be insulted,? the younger snaps, drumming his fingers on the table frenetically, distracted. ?Never mind that they have the wrong day, don?t you hate the baubles and cheap commercialism that goes with all this? I mean, what am I working for this time of year, then??
A short, honest laugh. ?No, I only hate that they?ve made it so complicated for themselves. They do have a tendency to do that, really. Make something that should be enjoyable very difficult. I have no idea what makes them do that.?
The young man snorts and almost has an amused look about him. ?Oh, I?m sure you don?t. Even with all that stress being a penalty of knowledge, I suppose.?
?That?s not fair to say.? The elder?s brow furrows and for one impossibly brief moment he looks ancient. ?It?s your choice what you do with the knowledge. You either allow it to run your life or you take it and make something out of it.?
The younger leans closer over his cup in a conspiratorial manner, smirking. ?I think you like it. The stress with the joy and the spreading of good cheer. You just like watching the whole thing play out as it will. Who will have a brilliant holiday this year and who will be stuck cleaning up after drunk relatives and throwing away dozens of presents that they can?t use.?
?Oh, honestly, you make me sound like some morbid puppeteer.? God tugs at his sweater sleeve as though he is picking off lint. He isn?t. His sweaters are incapable of carrying it, as far as anyone knows.
?All right, then. You set me straight. What do you observe during this time of year? What do you watch for and enjoy??
There is a long pause, if such things can be counted on the celestial plane.
?Did you know that there?s a man in Budapest who can speak backwards and juggle knives at the same time? Easy as you please, without even giving it a moment?s thought? Now that?s a talent that I can?t think of any use for at all, but I find it absolutely fascinating.?
The Morningstar slouches and stares out the window that isn?t there. ?You never were one for useful conversation.?
?No, I suppose not. But useful conversation can be rather hard at times, don?t you think??
Sniff. ?Seeing as you didn?t properly answer my question, I see no reason to answer that one.?
?You?re so easily threatened.? The old man actually tsks. ?You really must work on that.?
The younger is on his third gulp from the cup when he realizes that it?s tainted with liquor. He raises a wary eyebrow. ?So, how does the boy deal with all this? Does he wear a paper crown and eat mince pies and roasted chestnuts? Go to churches and watch all the children in plays that recreate his birth while the parents catch it on digital video cameras and the grandparents cough on all the important lines??
God blinks as though he hadn?t ever given the matter any thought. ?Well, he never did celebrate his birthday when he was alive, so I don?t think he?d really appreciate the gesture more now. He certainly doesn?t observe the holiday.?
Lucifer catches his tongue between his teeth and gives up for the moment. He stands up from his chair, cup in hand, and moves around the room to examine his surroundings. Advent calendar, Christmas crackers, lopsided tree. ?Well, from what I recall, he never was one to observe annual anythings. He celebrated when the wine flowed and the food was bountiful, whenever there was opportunity to enjoy what was given.?
A stool materializes under God?s feet and he leans back contentedly in his chair. ?Whereas yours seems to celebrate in the moments he creates, whether by accident or design.?
?Mm. Do you think that reflects on us in any way??
The Morningstar opens his mouth to say something to that, but pauses. And then he drifts around the room, flipping though the book of carols, sneering at the little porcelain figure of Saint Nicholas, finally crouching down in front of the crooked, stout Charlie-Brown evergreen. It is missing its star on top.
God watches the other curiously, greying head tilted as though the world rests on his ear. Whether it does or not would likely depend largely upon what day you asked him.
He has never seen the young man so quiet. Not like this.
The other finishes the eggnog in his glass in one gulp, then passes a hand over the cup. He leans forward and pours water from it into the tree?s base.
The tree does not need water, of course.
The old man chances a question. ?Tell me, do you think of silences in a conversation as comfortable or uncomfortable??
?I had worried. I never did find them uncomfortable, myself.?
The dark-haired youth will not face him. ?So I?d gathered.?
?Er, yes. Everyone has their own level of comfort, I suppose, but I must confess some curiosity as to??
The younger does not allow the completion of the question. He answers with more care than anything else he has said this night. ?Silence is something entirely different for you; like the Breath before the first dawn. To each his own definition.?
God looks Away. He has never done that before, not with any purpose, anyway. It is for the best that the other does not see it then. ?Ah. Yes. Of course.?
There is a nativity scene (highly westernized by the look of the characters, as always) under the tree too. The Morningstar seems to find this endlessly entertaining for a moment. He pokes at the wooden angel presiding over the sight. ?I remember him. He still a right pain in the arse??
A smile. ?Still. But he?s good at his job.?
?And that?s all that matters, of course,? the younger says with a roll of his eyes. They drift to another figure and he points. ?What about her? You?ve never told me the story about her.?
?I didn?t see any reason to.?
?Well, she is one of the most prevalent figures in the cast.?
The old man squints. ?Cast? Are we a troupe of troubadours, then? A piece performed across the globe for the enjoyment of all and sundry??
?The most famous there is,? answers Lucifer, picking up the figure of the kneeling lady and returning to the table, setting her down in front of him. ?Her.?
?What about her?? God asks, frowning. The crease between his eyebrows is more meaningful than the chatter of the raven or the ticking of a clock.
?Lots of women walking the earth at any given time. But you chose her.?
?I knew she would be a good mother,? the Almighty says softly, staring at the figure of carved wood and inlaid gold. ?And she was eccentric enough to handle a child who would never be average.?
??Never be average?? Well, I suppose that?s one way of putting it.? He watches the old man study the small depiction, one that probably doesn?t look a thing like her. ?I think I would have resented you for heaping all that responsibility on me.?
The Morningstar clears his throat and looks Away.
?What was her husband like??
God shrugs. ?Single-minded, demanding, old.?
?Least her taste was consistent, then.?
The old man smiles again, taking up the wooden piece in his hands and turning it over once or twice. ?You know that trying to provoke me doesn?t work. I really don?t know why you bother.?
?Because I?m bored. What?s the game this time?? The younger folds his arms across his chest and taps his right toe in an exaggerated show of impatience.
A board of black and red squares appears this time. The pieces line up accordingly.
?Draughts,? he deadpans. ?We?re going to play draughts.?
?Would you prefer red or black??
Pale, immaculate hands spin the board with precision so that the red pieces now rest on their side. ?When you come downstairs we?re playing backgammon.?
?If you like.? God stares at the unplayed board like he can read the future off of it, which can?t be far from the truth. ?You never told me who the mother of yours was.?
Blue eyes narrow. ?Didn?t think I needed to.?
?No, I suppose not.? Two more cups of eggnog appear conspicuously right then. ?But if I asked you, would you say it??
?No. Just to spite you.? Lucifer shakes glossy hair from his eyes. ?Black moves first.?
The Almighty considers the board again. ?I have a Christmas gift for you.?
The other tenses palpably.
?A fruitcake. For you to take back with you.?
And relaxes. ?I didn?t get you anything,? he says in a bored voice.
?I think I would have been insulted if you had. Besides, what could you possibly get me ? ?
? ? that you don?t already have, yes, I see. How very amusing of you.?
There is silence again, but it is comfortable for both this time around. Games fill the silence with thoughts, and thoughts are never true silence at all.
But it is Christmas. And so much that should be said never gets said, but for one or two days over the vast calendar. God would know this better than anyone.
One black piece moves forward. ?You?re the only friend I have, you know.?
One red piece joins it. ?You really are a sentimental bastard. And crazy to boot.?
When the old man chuckles the Law of Inertia ceases to apply for one shaky moment. ?Oh, if I thought you really meant it I could wink you out of existence.?
?Just our little joke.?
And indeed, his brown eyes do twinkle teasingly as the next black piece moves.
?You know, I don?t like the idea of my only friend being able to do that,? the Morningstar tells him, moving red to compensate and reaching for his new cup of eggnog. But he pauses on his way to sip and stares at the drink cautiously.
?But I never would.?
?How do I know that??
?The same way I know you?d never do it to me.?
?You don?t know that.?
?Oh, I do love it when you pretend to be unpredictable.?
The younger drinks long from his cup to stifle childish comebacks, then sets it down hard on the table. ?Your move.?
?Mm.? But the Almighty seems to have his attention caught by the tree. There is a star on top now, gold and silver knit together harmoniously, shining more brilliantly than anything. God smiles to himself and looks back down at the board.
?You never told me what?s so bloody special about Christmas.?
Black moves, but no pieces have been taken. They are both oddly non-confrontational today, it would seem. ?I would think it was obvious.?
Rebellious lips quirk impatiently at the other end of the table.
?Christmas is one of the only holidays that can be about whatever you like. You can be charitable or gluttonous, you can be with strangers or family, you can celebrate religiously or secularly, you can go to a party or sit on your couch and watch your favorite reruns. The holiday expects nothing of you, other than that you enjoy what you have.?
Lucifer hides a smile under the guise of itching his nose. ?You?re getting soft in your old age.?
?I am," God retorts proudly. ?Do you know I actually watched all of It?s A Wonderful Life last year??
?Never seen it.?
?Would you like to??
The Morningstar is only just beginning to realize how tradition warps the mind, wraps it up in thoughts of silken comfort and exploits the want for familiarity and belonging. He does not belong here. He does not need the familiar. He certainly is not interested in comfort of any kind.
He likes that Christmas tree, though. And the eggnog. Maybe if they have enough of it he could ask about that Flood without getting glared at.
?? Next year.?
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