“Working on Christmas,” Xenia grumbled. She checked her weapons again, as if that would help
“Well, what would you prefer?” Aerich snapped. “We could stay here in this wasteland, or we could go through the Door and hope there’s a building with four standing walls there.” They'd been in the blasted-out ruin of a city for nearly a week, looking for another Door, fearing the one they'd come through would take them someplace even worse than this. Sometimes the Doors led to entirely new places, but sometimes they led back to where they'd come from.
“Either way, we’re working.”
“The Doors aren’t that easily calibrate-able,” Alexa put in uncomfortably. “It’s not like I can say, ‘pardon me, could we have a Door to a sunny, peaceful vacation spot, please and thank you.’”
“I thought you were learning how to steer them?” Xenia was getting loaded up with gear while she talked, so she couldn’t be that upset, but she was started to stress Alexa out. Stressing Alexa out could have disastrous consequences; the last time Xen had really gotten her going… but that was something to worry about another day.
“Xen, it’s Christmas,” Cole interjected, handing her the AK-47. “And right now we’re in what could easily be the ruin of Bethlehem. Relax and let Lex do her job, all right?”
She shot him a look that threatened doom later, and Aerich gave him his own version of the evil eye, but both of them settled down, enough that Alexa’s hands stopped trembling. “Here,” he murmured, ignoring the doom-glares. “I stole you some chocolate.” Cole slipped it into Alexa's hands.
“You always come through for me,” their Opener smiled gratefully, downing the tiny piece of peace he'd given her. “Merry Christmas, Cole.”
“Merry Christmas, Lex. Ready to go?”
“Ready.” She held her hand out and, just to avoid problems, Cole took her hand in his left and Xen’s left in his right. As Alexa reached for the door handle – one of the very few things left standing in this mess – he found himself humming “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Soon, he heard Peter join in, and then Josie, then, singing in a low baritone, Aerich joined in. Reluctantly, Xenia added her sweet alto to the mix,and, humming happily along, Alexa opened the Door.
“And a happy new… oh.”
“Oh?” He peered over her shoulder. “Oh… well. Good on the positive thinking, Lex.” He stepped through, urging her and Xen through with him, Xen thus pulling Josie and Aerich through, and Peter, scowling despite the song he was still humming, following afterwards.
“I know we wished a Merry Christmas,” the dour scientist grumbled as his device read – something. Everything, maybe? “But this seems a little like trespassing.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Josie murmured. “I mean… this one’s addressed to me.” She toed one of the boxes under the stately fir tree, decorated, Cole noticed, with little festive doorways
“You’ve met dopples before,” Aerich reminded her.
“Josie Carlyle, the Cross Random Universe Exploration Team,” she read. “And this one is for you, Cole. They’re all addressed to CRUET. I think they’re for us.”
“So bring us some figgy pudding…” Alexa murmured, sitting down in a soft armchair with a thump. Someone, it seemed, had wished them a Merry Christmas.