Event Notice: The characters from the CSU story "Sentenced to Life" have been used with the original author's written permission, in blood, on the papyrus specified by some guy in a hat that coincidentally, I met at a Denny's. This means I wrote myself a note and have it right here on my desk to prove that I gave myself permission to use said characters from said story. Seriously. Why would I lie about something like that? It's right there! Characters from other CSU stories who may or may not have been mentioned gave their own permission via Kylegram, since they weren't actually used but thought about and had their names all written out on cards that will be in full view of all in the following featured Denny's restaurant. All rights should be reserved, unless not. Then all bets are off. (Offer void in the state of insanity, as it should be.)
Joey sat and watched on in awe as Marc, Danny, Caleb, Noah, and Jerry started stringing lights onto the tree in the living room of the Furst household on Sullivan's Island. Hunter was giggling as his new brother was struggling to untangle a string of lights with his good hand while trying to get used to his android replacement fingers on the other; which sometimes were uncooperative. But the boy was laughing too hard to be upset thanks to his brother Hunter. The group was enjoying each other's company building what they hoped would become their new family tradition. Joey watched from the couch while the others all focused on the task at hand, occasionally urging the little android to join in.
Entering the room with a tray loaded with mugs with hot cocoa and peppermint sticks, KC handed everyone a mug before plopping down on the couch next to his little brother.
"Watcha thinkin' creep?" KC giggled as he handed the little guy a mug.
"Why awe dhewe gonna be wighds on dhe dwee?" ("Why are there gonna be lights on the tree?") Joey tilted his head and asked gaining the attention of Hunter and Ron who made their way over, sitting on the edge of the coffee table.
"Cause it's festive," KC replied and set his mug down. "It makes the tree pretty for when Santa comes and leaves your presents under it."
"Bud why? He doesn'd need dhe dwee do weave pwesends in dhe house. He couwd jusd piwe dhem up ovew dhewe," ("But why? He doesn't need the tree to leave presents in the house. He could just pile them up over there,") Joey got out pointing to the corner.
KC crossed his arms and sat back on the couch as Noah nudged Caleb and motioned toward the little ones that were gathering around KC. This got the attention of the rest of the older boys as they listened in on the conversation.
"So, you think we shouldn't do anything for Christmas? Just get presents?" KC smirked. "Where's the fun in that?"
"I dunno," ("I dunno,") Joey shrugged and took a sip of his cocoa, "Id's weiwd do pud a dwee in dhe house and sdawd sdicking sduff aww ovew id." ("It's weird to put a tree in the house and start sticking stuff all over it.")
"But then we wouldn't all be hangin' out together and enjoyin' weird questions from weird little brothers. Besides, it's fun and gets everyone in the holiday spirit."
"Whad's a spiwid?" ("What's a spirit?") Joey asked in an innocent way that only he could, which KC thought was the cutest part about his new little brother.
"It's a feeling you get when everyone is excited all about the same thing. We all find a way to share that excitement. I guess someone a long time ago figured out that if you get together as a family and decorate a tree, it makes the holiday special. Something no one will ever forget."
"I forgot you never had a Christmas Joey," Hunter said as he and Ron climbed onto the couch next to the two androids.
"Yeah, I keep forgettin' too," Ron added.
"Dhad's okay. I gods wods of famiwy and I gods a weaw body an evewydhin!" ("That's okay. I gots lots of family and I gots a real body an everythin!") Joey said as he scowled at the tree, "Dhe dwee's supposda be oudside." ("The tree's supposta be outside.")
"I guess if I never saw a Christmas tree before, I wouldn't get it either," KC nodded, grabbing his hot chocolate and taking a sip.
After the tangle of lights was figured out, the tree finally had colorful lights from top to bottom and in no time was partially covered with decorations. Some very old and fragile from Marc and Danny's past. Some had even been recovered in Danny's personal items that had been in storage since well before he had been activated, from both his family and his nephew Kevin's, some brand new with each of their new family's names from all around the world. Once the group had finished their drinks, they all stood back and admired their work.
"I'm hungry." Danny absently stated as Marc came up behind him and wrapped his arms around him, resting his chin on Danny's shoulder.
"Me too." Most of the room said in almost perfect unison.
Laughing, Noah kept twitching as his other half kept poking him in the side. "Okay fine!" Noah loudly conceded. "I want a Grand Slam! There, I said it. You happy?"
"Denny's?" Danny laughed. "All the places we could go and you want to go to Denny's?"
"Well, yeah." Caleb giggled. "It's the only place we can all go that won't horrify the waitresses now. Remember that little Italian place we went to a couple weeks ago?"
Everyone in the room went wide-eyed and got deathly quiet for a moment. No one was willing to talk about the incident.
Noah smiled and looked at KC, "There's always the Waffle House right across from the Denny's we normally go to."
"No. No way. The people working there almost quit," KC laughed, "and I STILL say I never moved that mop bucket."
"I said I believe you," Noah laughed.
"Fruity waffles sounds really good. Can we go to Denny's please?" Hunter pleaded looking at Danny, Ron mirroring his brother's hopeful expression.
"I don't see why not." Danny laughed pulling out his communicator. "Danny to Kevin."
"Kevin here, what's up Uncle?"
"What's your location? We may be changing our plans." Danny smiled.
"I'm at the Sirois' house. They're getting their stuff together now so I'll we'll be on our way back soon. What's the change?"
"Noah and Caleb want to go to Denny's and of course, now we're all hungry. Do you know if the boys have eaten yet?" Danny said as he watched Jerry begin to collect the empty coffee mugs.
"Nope, so if you're taking a vote you can add three more. So, the Denny's on Ashley Phosphate Road?"
"You got it," Danny smiled. "You and the Sirois boys head there and warn the staff that we're on our way."
"Sounds good. See you in about 20 minutes then. Kevin out."
"Hear that punk?" KC laughed as he poked Joey in the sides earning a giggle for his efforts, "You get pancakes, a forest in your living room, a field trip, and you get to do most of it with your buddy Alex."
"I didn'd know Kevin was going do go an pick up Awex and his bwodhew!" ("I didn't know Kevin was going to go an pick up Alex and his brother!") The little android said as he began to bounce in his spot on the couch, "Can we go now?" ("Can we go now?")
"Both cars?" Noah asked as he and Caleb stood up and stretched.
"Yeah," Danny said as the group all started milling about the room, "Marc and Caleb get shotgun, the rest get to pick a ride, Camaro or Mustang."
Without any real discussion, Hunter and Ron climbed into the back of Noah's Mustang while Jerry and KC climbed into Danny's Camaro, Putting Joey in the middle where he loved to ride so he could see where they were going.
It only took just over twenty minutes before the Denny's sign came into view and the retro 'Chrome and Glass Diner' style building shined bright enough to stand out from the surrounding businesses, causing stomachs to began to rumble. Parking next to Kevin's Older Camaro, Danny got out and smiled looking over the modernized replica that the two had enjoyed in their human years, earning Marc's attention.
"He's taking really good care of that car." Marc said with a grin. As the brood began to assemble, Alex bursting out of the exit and tackling Joey with a shout.
"He is," Danny smiled and looked at the group, "this is really turning out to be a special year."
"Yeah it is." Marc agreed and watched as everyone made their way to the entrance. "C'mon, before they order all the food and leave us nothing."
"Again..." Danny and Marc both began to say, ending in a laugh.
After everyone got settled and placed an order that would make any short order cook hang up his apron, any cook except the one in this Denny's because he's gotten used to the group and its various additions that have taken up more than half the of the restaurant with some of their gatherings in the past couple of months, Joey and Alex sat on the floor looking at the Christmas tree the wait staff had set up, with signed name cards for each and every regular customer on ribbons as the primary decorations.
"I sdiww don'd ged id," ("I still don't get it,") Joey said to his best friend.
"Get what?" Alex giggled as he tried to neatly write his name on the card he had been given by the waitress to add his name with the rest of his friends which were already on the tree from their last visit.
"Why a dwee?" ("Why a tree?") He asked, earning a scowl from his friend.
"My teacher said it's s'posedta stand for life during dark an' cold winter nights an' that most people made it a part of the stuff the family does together," Alex said with a grin.
"Bud why a dwee?" ("But why a tree?") Joey tilted his head in question.
Alex thought for a moment and then smiled wide, "Cuz in the winter when all the other trees kinda get all crappy lookin', these trees look 'xactly the same. No matter how cold and snowy the place you live gets."
"Oh." ("Oh.") The small android said as he looked at the snowy holiday pictures that surrounded the tree as well as previous Christmas trees the restaurant had decorated in previous years. "Bud now id's gonna die wike aww of dhose did." ("But now it's gonna die like all of those did.")
"And a new one would be planted in its place," One of the waitresses said as she walked by, ruffling the hair of the two cute little boys sitting on the floor as she went by. "But if you want to know a secret, that one is really old and fake."
"I knew," Alex giggled.
"No you didn'd," ("No you didn't,") Joey giggled. "Id wooks weaw." ("It looks real.")
"But you can't smell it." He said as he stood up and hung his name on the tree after finding Joey's.
"I can smeww my pancakes dhough." ("I can smell my pancakes though.") Joey laughed as he stood up and they both rushed back to the main group.
"More coffee?" The waitress offered, laughing when Caleb said yes and asked how many creamers she had in her apron, again.
Joey giggled as the entire group fell silent. All watching Caleb stare down Danny as he 'ruined a good cup of coffee' as Danny always said with a laugh, and then doing his best to build a pyramid with the empty creamers; as well as empty yet another sugar shaker. Benny, Hunter, and Ron were busy talking about some video game while KC, Danny, and Noah were talking about cars and trying to plan what car would be good for KC's first, only barely excluding a bumper car. His dad and Marc were discussing something related to St. Mikey's Hospital and getting really excited about something that had just been donated or something, he didn't know what. But as he thought to himself that this was his family, while watching Alex color on the back of his placemat, he looked back at the tree and thought about the ornaments that went on the one at home.
He thought about the stories that went with all of the old ones, each representing a missing family member or an important event. He considered the new ones, with each of their names, including their new family scattered all over the planet and possibly even further away. He finally got it. The tree was just the thing they focused on, and looked at, and thought about. The real tradition that had the most meaning, was simply the fact that even though some were far away, family was as close as that tree would ever be as long as you were thinking of them. The tree just reminded you to think of them, and every year at the same time, there would be another just like it; like the many trees before it that they been discussing from way before he had ever been thought of. He looked at everyone and smiled, got up from his seat and walked over and gave his dad a big hug.
"What was that for?" Jerry asked as he returned the hug and the table went silent.
"Fow addin' me do dhe dwee." ("For addin' me to the tree.")
Happy Holidays from the entire A.I. Division of Clan Short and our Family!