George's eyes were gleaming as he looked around the new armory. It was, Mindy admitted, an impressive sight; the Bureau might be secretive and possessed of a certain amount of bureaucracy, but when it came to spending money on weaponry and equipment, they didn't skimp.
"Anyone spotting a chainsaw?" Ed asked.
On the other hand, they might have overlooked a few potential weapons.
"I think my trusty flamethrower will serve me well enough," Father Donaher said, fondly patting the weapon in question. Peace on Earth might be the goal - to get there, Father Donaher wasn't the least bit wary of burning down a few animated Christmas trees if the need arose.
Raul had already grabbed a few rings and bracelets with spells that might come in handy in addition to his wand. He had also changed into a shirt with the text 'Last Christmas ... Is So Last Christmas' just to stay in the mood of the holidays.
Mindy sighed and selected what looked like a younger cousin of Father Donaher's weapon of choice.
George settled for a machine gun - unlikely to be very effective against walking trees but then again, most things got at least a little bit uncomfortable if you shot them often enough.
The aliens still didn't look like they really understood the whole concept of Christmas, but they seemed to like the hot chocolate well enough.
Richard and Mindy walked in, arms full of brightly wrapped packages in various shapes and sizes. "This should be the last of 'em, Ed." George and Raul carefully deposited the packages one by one into a specially reinforced steel box.
One of the aliens got up, chattering something about Santa and elves and children, but one look from George was enough to convince him (or her) to sit down again and continue drinking his (or her) hot chocolate.
"Now, then," Jessica said briskly. "We're going to explain this to you one last time."
"You think that if we ask them nicely, they're going to let us keep some of these?" George whispered to Raul. "Wouldn't mind having a few of those toys with me, next time we're going up against an Elder God or something."
"First, I think we want to make very, very sure none of those toys have been left to be unwrapped by some ten-year-old with a grudge against his brother or school teacher or something," Raul said, closing the lid on the box with a relieved sigh.
"But ... " Frostie (real name: Doctor Matthew Summers) said. "But I just wanted to make it snow!"
If Frostie's machine hadn't come close to bring about a new Ice Age, Mindy might have felt a bit sorry for the guy. George could be pretty scary even when he wasn't trying.
"Do you know how long it's been since we've had a real Christmas over here?" Frostie complained.
"By which you mean a white Christmas, I assume," Jessica said.
"Yes!" Frostie exclaimed, apparently mistaking her question for an expression of sympathy. "Exactly! I mean, how can you feel it's truly Christmas when outside, it looks like any other sunny day? Do you know what they did last year? They threw a Christmas party on the beach. The beach! People were wearing bikinis! That was when I knew something had to be done."
"Thirty-five people ended up in the hospital because of your something, Dr. Summers," Eduardo said.
Frostie's expression turned sullen. "I'm very sorry to hear that, but it's really not my fault they didn't listen to me. I did warn them. Repeatedly."
Eduardo sighed. Mindy sympathized. Sometimes, it was easier to deal with the truly evil ones, the ones with regrets or morals, than with the ones who weren't so much evil as, well, confused and brilliant. It was a dangerous combination, although the Bureau could generally find a use for geniuses, so long as they weren't bad to the bone.
Plus, in the Bureau's research facility on the Southpole, Dr. Summers was guaranteed to get all the snow he could possibly want.
For a brief moment, after the portal had closed, nobody spoke.
"I can't believe they got to have a real Santa Claus," Raul said. His shirt said 'Parental Guidance Recommended: This Shirt Contains Explicit Cowbell'.
Jessica snorted. "Given that now, they're going to get a communist Christmas committee, I'm not sure if you should really envy them."
"I think we can all agree the fat guy had it coming," Richard said. "Those elves were practically slaves, and for what?"
"Yes, I'd have to agree we've done a good thing here," Father Donaher said. "Also, perhaps now people will remember the true meaning of Christmas."
"The English are so lucky," Mindy complained.
"Not sure if I'd call getting hit with an alien invasion every single Christmas 'lucky'," Jessica grinned and helped herself to another snowflake cookie.
Father Donaher raised his hand. "One year, I believe it was demons."
"And there were a few mad scientists, too, I think. Those are always fun," Raul put in, grimacing.
Mindy sighed. "Okay, so maybe they get a lot of weird stuff over there. And a lot of it comes to London, although recently, there's also been a few incidents around Cardiff. Still, it's not as if they ever really need to do much themselves."
"Ah," Jessica said. "Him."
"Personally, I much prefer a defender I can speak with whenever I deem it necessary," Father Donaher said. "It makes for a far greater peace of mind."
"Just one Christmas, I'd like to not be working," Mindy said. "Just once, I'd like to celebrate Christmas the way normal people do."
"Well, so far, so good," Raul said. "The tree hasn't burnt down, the hot chocolate hasn't frozen, the cookies taste fine and none of the presents have exploded yet."
"More importantly: no priority calls," Jessica said.
Four pairs of eyes were drawn to the phone, as four people collectively held their breath, waiting.
The phone continued to be in a state of not-ringing.
"So there you are," Father Donaher said. "Christmas."
"In April," Mindy said with a scowl.