"Cecil!" There was pounding at the door. "Cecil I know you're in there!"
A dishevelled Cecil sporting several days of stubble and several years of bags under his eyes answered. Old Woman Josie forced her way in followed by several Erikas.
"Erika tells me that you've been cooped up in here for a while." He shrugged, scratching his head. "They want me to invite you for Christmas dinner." He looked shocked.
"Oh Josie, I couldn't, really. I'm just going to have a quiet Christmas this year, maybe go visit Khoshek and his kittens something like that. Thanks though." It was Josie's turn to shrug. "I like the Erikas' matching sweaters. Did you make them?" He said, changing the subject.
"I sure did, they're alpaca wool; hypoallergenic. They get cold in the winter, even in our desert." The Erikas nodded together, exchanging glances.
"Well, thanks for visiting Josie, happy holidays!" He politely ushered them out of the door and slid down the other side to the floor. He'd barely touched the ground when there was another knock at the door. He sighed and stood up to open the door again. It was Steve Carlsberg.
"What. Do. You. Want?" He said through gritted teeth.
"Look Cecil, I know you don't like me. I can't say I know why, but you don't. However, I promised Janice I would ask you to come over for Christmas dinner." There was an awkward silence. "So will you come? It would mean a lot to her, and I know Monica likes you coming over." They stood like that, one on each side of the door for at least 30 seconds before Steve's phone rang.
"Hi," "Yeah, I'm asking him right now." "No, not yet." "Sure."
Steve gave the phone to Cecil.
"Uncle Cecil, I'm at the store. Do you like cranberries? Because we don't usually get them but if you like them I'll buy some! You are coming, right?" He couldn't help it. Janice meant the world to him, and really what else would he do? He could always visit Khoshek before dinner.
"Of course I am, how could I miss it? I'll see you tomorrow." "Love you too." He gave the phone back to Steve but he heard Janice yelling "Oh wait!".
"No, I don't like cranberries, it's fine." He grinned, smiling for the first time in a long while. "Okay, bye, bye!"
Steve hung up and smiled at him.
"Thanks step- half- brother, this means a lot." He pulled Cecil into a hug and The Voice stood as still as he could. "I'll see you tomorrow."
And with that, Cecil had plans for Christmas and needed to shower and shave.
Cecil pulled up to Steve's house at 2 the next day. Janice immediately opened the door.
"Uncle Cecil! Merry Christmas!" He leaned down give her a hug.
"Merry Christmas, Janice."
"I was just about to start playing the Christmas songs, come sing with us."
He followed her into the living room where he was greeted by Monica and handed a glass of mulled wine.
They stood around and sang as Janice played all the Christmas classics: 'Jingle Bells', 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland' and, Cecil's favourite, 'Celebrate The Year (You're not dead or worse)'. The turkey was about to be carved when Cecil got a phone call.
"Carlos?! It's so good to hear from you, Merry Christmas!" He grinned down the phone.
"Merry Christmas to you too, Cecil. I'm so sorry I can't be there to celebrate with you." Carlos said, and Cecil could just picture how sad he looked.
"It's okay Carlos, I know you're trying to find a way home. I know you are." A sad tone made its way into Cecil's voice.
"Is that Uncle Carlos? Can I talk to him?!" Janice called.
"Cecil, what was that? Where are you?"
"It's Janice, she wants to talk to you, I'll put her on."
"Hi Uncle Carlos, Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas, Janice. I'm so glad you're there with Cecil!"
"Yeah, he's at our house, we're about to eat dinner. Do you have dinner?"
"Ah, no, Doug and the others here don't celebrate Christmas, but it's okay, I'm pretty busy anyway. So you look after Cecil and enjoy dinner, okay?"
"Okay Uncle Carlos, he's in good hands! I'll put him back on." She grinned and passed the phone back.
"It sounds like you're having a good time, Ceec." The Voice sighed.
"Not as good as if you were here."
"Aww, I miss you too. Hopefully I'll see you soon? Anyways, I'll call you tomorrow, Doug's calling. I love you."
"I love you too, Carlos." The phone went dead and Cecil felt himself getting down again.
"C'mon Cecil, the Turkey's here!" Steve called from the dining room. He forced Carlos to the back of his mind and went in to enjoy his family Christmas, no matter how much he missed his scientist.