By Amanda Pizzolatto
Word Count: 3441
Summary: The crossover world of Antillian celebrates Christmas.
Nico di Angelo slunk to the far wall as his eyes darted over the large crowd. He could just make out Hazel Levasque’s curly head. Jason Grace was busy helping the shedus* fly the ornaments to the higher half of the tree, while Reyna Ramirez-Arellano was close enough for him to see that she was flirting openly with Peter Pevensie. A soft smile appeared on Nico’s face; Peter was flirting back. He glanced over the rest of the crowd. He didn’t know everyone’s names by heart, or even all of their faces, but it seemed that all of them were with someone they loved—whether a crush, a friend, or a family member—as the stadium filled with laughter and merry chatter. Well, if one could really call it a stadium, but they really had no other word for it. Nico took a quick glance around at it; he still couldn’t believe that something so huge existed. From the entrance, rows of seats cascaded down to the field, while on the other side a giant screen hung from the ceiling. The ceiling itself curved overhead, allowing more room for the treetop to have an angel, and for Jack Frost to gather his clouds and make it snow, inside the building.
Letting out a breath, Nico turned back to surveying the preparations. He wasn’t exactly trying to be alone; he knew there were several people who wanted him to join in the festivities, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled about being surrounded by so many people. A small group, sure, but a large crowd? He would much rather not get trampled or squished, or whatever could happen in such a throng.
A gust of hot air breathed down his back as a nose nuzzled his hair.
“Verneo, what are you doing?” grumbled Nico.
The black hippogriff* laid his head over Nico’s shoulder. “Why do you not join them, master?”
“I’m not a big fan of crowds,” Nico mumbled.
“Ah, I see. Is that nature, or nurture?” Nico eyed Verneo, but gave no answer. “Why not join them? I’m sure your sister and your friends are wondering where you are.”
Nico scoffed, “They’d know where to find me. You did.”
Verneo chuckled. “Because I can sniff you out. But yes, you are easy to find, really, you’re no good at hide-and-seek.”
“Hey Nic . . .” spoke a familiar male voice.
“Don’t even think about it,” Nico grumbled.
“But I didn’t even say . . .”
“You don’t have to, Jack; you’re all about making sure I have fun. It’s getting kind of old.”
Jack Frost laughed. “Yeah, I guess so, but I was actually looking for you for a different reason.”
Nico raised an eyebrow.
“Youichi’s looking for you.”
“No, really, seriously! Your little brother’s looking for you! And he told me I had better help him look or he’ll send those mean ghosts of his after me until Groundhog Day!”
Nico snorted, “Oh, did he, huh?”
The two teens glanced over, and there stood the younger brother in question, Youichi Hijiri, with an ornament of the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come in his hand.
“I wanted you to help me with my ornament, nii-chan,” said the boy.
Nico glanced at the six-year-old, “Did you really threaten Jack with your ghost powers?”
Youichi nodded. “That way, you’d believe him.”
Nico did his best to suppress a smile. “Well, don’t do that again, alright? It’s not nice.”
“But you do it all the time!” Youichi and Jack said in unison.
Nico pointed at Jack. “That’s because you’re stupid.” He turned to Youichi. “And only I can do that. I’m the Ghost King, you’re just the Ghost Prince.”
“Oh, okay.” Youichi held up his ornament. “Can you help me now, nii-chan?”
Nico sighed, “Where do you want it?”
Youichi pointed to the right side of the tree, “Shadow-travel me to just under there; there’s a couple of empty spots.”
Nico eyed him, “Excuse me?”
“Oh, sorry, nii-chan, may you please shadow-travel me under the tree?” asked Youichi with his dead-pan face.
“Alright, take my hand and hold on tight.”
“Pick me up . . . please,” stated Youichi with his arms out.
“You want me to do what?” asked Nico as he practically recoiled from the little boy.
“Oh, come on, Nic, pick up the kid.” Jack lifted up Youichi and practically tossed him into Nico’s arms. Nico let out a little yelp as he caught Youichi. Youichi wrapped his arms around Nico’s neck while Jack adjusted Nico’s arms to hold Youichi better. “There, that’s better.”
“Jack-senpai! We’re almost ready for the snow!” shouted a little snow fairy. She was waiting with her two friends Pepper and Salt near the top of the tree, just barely visible. If they were as big as Jack, they might not look like little pinpoints, only barely distinguishable by their brightly-colored clothes.
“Coming, Sugar! You two have fun!” Jack winked at Nico and Youichi before he flew off. Nico merely growled in reply. Verneo walked over and lifted his wing over Nico.
“Alright, alright, I’m going, I’m going,” sighed Nico before he shadow-travelled to the tree. He found that he had to lift Youichi to his shoulders so the boy could place his ornament in the spot he wanted. As soon as Youichi was happy with the end result, Nico shadow-travelled back to Verneo’s side, just in time for the snow to begin falling. The two watched with fascination for a few minutes before Youichi laid his head on Nico’s shoulder.
“Merry Christmas, nii-chan,” sighed Youichi as his eyes drooped.
“Merry Christmas, Youichi,” whispered Nico with a soft, satisfied smile. Natsume Hyuga soon came by to take the sleeping child off of Nico’s hands.
“The invitation still stands,” remarked Natsume as Youichi’s head went on his shoulder.
“I know, I’m still thinking about it.”
Natsume just nodded before walking away to join Hiroto Kazama and his family. Nico leaned back on the wall as Verneo lay down nearby and watched the crowd dissipate.
“Have you made up your mind on what you’re going to do for Christmas?” asked Jack as he landed next to Nico.
“No, not really, it’s just . . .”
“So many to choose from, huh?” Nico glanced to the side. “Kind of new, isn’t it? So many people able to see you, and who’ll accept you.”
Nico glanced at the tree, “Yeah . . . nice work on the tree.”
“Well, thanks, it is my specialty.”
“It looks so perfect . . .”
“Really? Wow, I thought it . . .”
“Everything would be perfect if . . .”
Jack laid his hand on Nico’s shoulder, “I know you don’t like it when people touch you, but listen, you have Hazel now, and Jason, and me, Youichi, Erik, Scipio, and so many others. And I know it’s hard to move on, but you have to. I’m not saying that you should forget her; that’s the one thing you should never do. You have to keep her in your memory, but that’s the only place she can be for now. Living in the past won’t do you any good, because you’ll miss the present.”
“How do you do it, Jack? How are you able to get over any kind of sadness? How do you get over loss?”
“Well, getting over sadness is the easy part, the loss part . . . I . . . I don’t know, I haven’t exactly had to deal with loss . . . yet. It’ll be hard, but I’ll do my best to continue on; it’s all I can do.” Jack sighed. “I almost envy you, because you get to die. I became immortal.”
Nico grunted. “Mmm.” He let out a yelp as a snowball pelted his face, “Hey!”
“Well, I did say getting over the sadness was the easy part,” grinned Jack as he made another snowball. “What, you’re not afraid of snow, are you?”
Nico growled, “Oh fine, you asked for it, and now you’re going to get it!” He reached down and quickly made a snowball, throwing it at Jack. Laughing, Jack ducked and the snowball flew over him, but his snowball landed square on Nico’s face. “Hey, no fair, you big cheat!” Nico created another snowball and threw it, grazing Jack’s shoulder.
“Hey, would you look at that, you’re getting better already!” grinned Jack as he threw another snowball.
“Well, I should be. I’m mad, and I’m going to hit you!”
Jack just laughed as the two threw snowball after snowball.
“Verneo, get over here and help me!” shouted Nico.
“You look like you’re doing just fine,” stated Verneo as he rolled over.
“Oh, what are you good for, you dumb hippogriff!”
“Your ride home, perhaps?” came the hippogriff’s reply.
“Ugh. Ooph! Hey, I wasn’t ready!”
“Well, you need to be!” chuckled Jack as he threw another snowball. The two kept throwing, Jack not taking a break until Nico burst out laughing. Verneo’s head popped up at the sound of it and Jack’s mouth dropped open, but he recovered quickly and whooped.
“Yes, I got you to laugh! Boo-yeah!”
Nico’s eyes widened, “So, that’s what it was all about, huh? Getting me to laugh?”
“Yeah man, didn’t you know? You use more muscles to frown than to smile,” winked Jack.
Verneo approached them. “It’s a nice laugh.”
“Uh, um, thank you?” A loud bing bong echoed throughout the stadium, startling the two teens.
“Wow, it’s already midnight? You should get to bed, Nic, or Santa won’t come,” winked Jack.
“Uh-huh, right, it’s not like I don’t get to see Santa any other day,” mumbled Nico before letting out a yawn. “But I think I’ll go to bed anyway, simply so that I can rest up and beat you next time.”
“Looking forward to it,” grinned Jack before flying off.
Nico climbed on Verneo and the two took off for the house on the outskirts of town, where Nico tumbled into bed and fell asleep instantly.
*Shedu: A bipedal lion with six angelic wings, four eyes, and front paws that can operate like hands. They can easily stand about nine feet tall, guardians of the island of Antillia.
*Hippogriff: A pegasus with the mane, tail, paws, and teeth of a lion.
A Special Surprise
The phantom of the opera led Nico through the hall, glancing back at his young master every now and then, primarily to make sure he was still following. Nico could be so quiet that one wouldn’t notice if he stopped or if he left. Erik was still fine-tuning his senses to the growing powers and stealth of the son of Hades, but for the most part, there was no worry. Sure, Nico was looking down, but Erik couldn’t help but smile—that was just him trying to figure out the phantom’s cryptic message. He could almost see the gears in the fifteen-year-old’s mind churning away rapidly. Erik’s smile burst into a full-on grin on his skeletal face as he hoped his young master would like the surprise. He paused as he came to the closed door at the end of the hall.
“It is just beyond this door, my liege,” said Erik with a bow, hoping Nico wouldn’t see the big smile on his face.
“This involves people, doesn’t it?” asked Nico with a grumble.
“And what if it does? Do you not want friends?”
Nico gulped as Erik saw the tears threatening to form in his eyes. “We both know that can never happen, for either of us. With my heritage and your deformity? Not a chance.”
“I beg to differ, my liege. Allow me.” With that, Erik opened the door and marched right in, leaving Nico stunned. But when no sound of any kind reached Nico’s ears, curiosity got the best of him and he ventured in. There stood Erik in the middle of the room, still and poised, a soft smile lighting up his skeletal face.
“So . . . what was the surprise again?” asked Nico.
“This surprise!” shouted several voices. Nico yelped and jumped back a couple of feet as several people jumped out from their hiding places.
“Happy Christmas!” called out some.
“Merry Christmas!” called out others.
“Why do you say Happy Christmas?” asked Leo Valdez.
“Because it’s supposed to be happy, dunderhead,” quipped Edmund Pevensie before he tackled Leo, and the two got into a brawl.
“Edmund, Leo, for crying out loud! Will you two quit it?” shouted Susan Pevensie as Peter Pevensie and Jason Grace jumped in to break them up.
Nico gasped. “None of you are shying away from Erik!” he blurted.
Lucy Pevensie blinked. “Why, no, we aren’t. Why should we? You’re our friends! No matter how horrid you may look.”
“Hey, you’re not evil like the White Witch. I’d rather have the two of you than her, any day,” stated Edmund with a slight shudder.
“Right, and you could say it’s thanks to her that we don’t take everyone at face value. Aslan can look more terrifying than you, but he’s so good! I mean, after all, he’s not a tame lion,” stated Lucy with a grin.
“Took the words right out of my mouth, your majesty,” quipped Mr. Tumnus with an equally sly grin. Lucy grinned at him and burst out laughing.
“Nico, Nico, Nico! Come see your presents!” blurted both Bo and Tiny Tim Cratchit as they latched onto his hands and dragged him to the Christmas tree. Bo’s older brother Prosper was chatting away with Hornet, Riccio, and Scipio Massimo, the ex-thief lord, near the tree.
“Okay, let go, please,” muttered Nico, trying to pull his hands away from them. When he was close enough to the tree, they let go.
“Don’t worry, we won’t touch you for long,” stated Tiny Tim as he clasped his hands behind his back and rocked on the balls of his feet.
“And only if you’re not moving fast enough to your destination,” quipped Bo with a grin. Nico let out a groan.
“Take a look at all the presents!” exclaimed Tiny Tim’s siblings, Matthew and Lucy, as they stood on either side of the tree and opened their arms.
“Mother, may I hand Nico his first present?” Tiny Tim asked.
“Why don’t you ask Ebenezer Scrooge that?” suggested Mrs. Cratchit.
Tiny Tim rushed to the older gentleman as he entered the room and quietly asked him his question. He nodded with a big grin on his face. Tim rushed back and grabbed Bo, pulling him into a dive under the tree. The two talked excitedly in hushed whispers before taking out a present. Both handed it to Nico.
“Open your first present!” the two chirped giddily.
Nico rolled his eyes as the beginnings of a smile began to curl his lips, but he took the present and began unwrapping it. He slowly sank to the ground when he realized what it was. It was the Mythomagic starter pack.
“Could you teach us how to play?” asked Tiny Tim hopefully.
Nico opened and closed his mouth a few times, a couple of tears escaping his eyes before he finally just nodded.
“Yay!” the two cheered and jumped.
“Well, come on! There’s more!” came a voice.
Everyone glanced at the doorway. There stood Jack Frost and Santa Claus.
“Wh-what?” asked Nico as he glanced at the pile of presents under the tree.
“What? Did you expect everything to fit in this room?” quipped Santa as Jack snickered.
“The rest of the presents wouldn’t even begin to fit under that tree!” Jack said.
“Whoa, that must be a lot of presents,” muttered Tiny Tim in wonder.
“Yeah, and you’re going to have to come see for yourself, and get your presents!” stated Jack with a wink.
“But what about Nico’s presents?” asked Bo as he turned to the tree.
“Don’t worry, I took some presents from this pile and brought them to the big pile under the big tree,” stated Santa.
“Ooh, awesome! We can open our presents together!” exclaimed Lucy Pevensie as she bounced up and down.
“Well then, come on! Everyone’s waiting!” Jack exclaimed as he waved them on.
A few of them whooped as they rushed out the door after Jack and Santa. Nico, however, sat as if stunned, overcome by the friendship and care he was so unused to, amazed that he now had people who wanted to spend Christmas with him.
“Nico?” Nico glanced up. Erik and Lucy were looking down at him.
“Are you coming?” asked Lucy.
“Yeah, I just . . . I just need a moment to take this all in.”
“You must forgive him, my lady, but people like us aren’t exactly used to so much kindness,” stated Erik with a catch in his voice.
Nico noticed the lone tear trickling down Erik’s face, and felt a tear from his own eye mirror it as he nodded. “Yeah,” he whispered.
“Well, then, come on! Like Jack said, there’s more! And I should know; I can tell that mine and Hort’s presents aren’t under that tree. And I bet Jack’s isn’t under there, either. There’re still quite a few people who didn’t put their presents under that tree for you.”
“But, what about the presents that are here?” asked Nico, glancing back at the ones under the tree.
“Today’s just Christmas, silly; you have until Epiphany to open them all!”
“Ah yes, the twelve days of Christmas,” began Erik as he walked towards the door. “’On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree’.”
Lucy joined in. “’On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree’.” They paused and glanced at Nico.
“Don’t look at me; I’m not singing, but I will join you downstairs,” he quipped.
The two laughed as he got up and joined them at the door. They walked off down the hall, singing the rest of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on their way to the big Christmas tree in the stadium, Nico eventually humming the tune. But when they arrived at the big Christmas tree, Erik started a different beloved Christmas song, and everyone joined in. Nico’s spirits began to soar as the song escalated and presents were handed out. Jack’s snow drifted around them in soft flurries as the season fairies, Sugar and Pepper in particular, helped him send snowflakes to every side of the stadium. Nico just wanted to sit and watch it all, despite being surrounded by presents, thanks in particular to Tiny Tim, Bo, and Youichi. The trio were now happily opening their own presents, having made sure Nico had at least opened three. Lucy soon joined him, her smile almost as bright as the sun. Erik also walked over, his arms full of his own presents, and an enormous grin on his face.
“So, what do you think?” Lucy asked Nico. “Is this the best Christmas ever, or what?”
Lucy blinked. “Say what?”
Nico began to smirk. “Exactly what I said, what. You said, is this the best Christmas or what? So I said what.”
“Nico!” berated Lucy.
Erik burst out laughing.
“No, but really,” Nico said. “I have a feeling this is just one of many.”
“Well, that’s good. So, let me rephrase that question. Out of every Christmas you’ve celebrated, is this the best one?”
Nico smiled warmly. “Yes . . . yes, I’d say it is.”
He glanced at the tree, and noticed Frodo Baggins with his arm around his pregnant wife, Pearl. Their eyes locked on each other, their pain and sorrow flickering for just a moment before the joy of the season filled them. Frodo nodded in understanding with a soft smile on his face. Yes, this was to be just one of many.
List of Books/Movies and Anime Used
Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
(Nico di Angelo, Hazel Levasque, Jason Grace, Reyna Ramirez-Arellano, Leo Valdez)
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
(The Pevensies, Tumnus)
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce
(Jack Frost, Santa Claus)
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
(Scipio Massimo, Prosper, Bo, Riccio, Hornet)
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
(Frodo Baggins, Pearl Took)
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
(The Cratchit family, Ebenezer Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come)
School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
A Little Snow Fairy Sugar by J. C. Staff
(Sugar, Pepper, Salt)
Gakuen Alice by Higuchi Tachibana
(Youichi Hijiri, Natsume Hyuga)
Kirarin Revolution by An Nakahara