The sisters had been the first to arrive, being ready and willing to help with the preparations, making Emily eternally grateful.
She had never hosted a Christmas party as big as this before.
Come to think of it, this was the first time she had ever hosted a Christmas party, period.
To think about all the different personalities she was going to be cramming into this Finnish resort (Armo and Adeline had been kind and gracious enough to offer up their property as a place for her to host the event) was more than a little nerve-wracking.
Not to mention some characters were going to be coming from the forties and some from different places and eras in the galaxy, thanks to Stark’s new time travel “toy”.
“Hey Em, where do ya want these!?” A high pitched, albeit still masculine voice laced with a drawl that came from the deep south called out as he entered.
Emily had to bite back her laughter at the shocked look of Jasmine and Victoria’s faces as Austin entered lugging three trees protected by garbage bags. One may wonder why such a sight would be so hilarious at first glance until they examined just how the trees just so happened to be tied.
Jasmine and Victoria, both homicide detectives in Washington DC for the other 363 days out of the year, looked mildly alarmed, but Emily was quick to reassure them.
“Set the trees right over in the corner, Austin. We still have yet to find the ornament boxes, but when we do,”
“Me n’ my siblings will take care of it,” Austin assured her with a smile.
Upon realizing appearances could be deceiving, Jasmine broke out into a grinned, thoroughly amused by the “prank”. Her sister was still eying the bags somewhat suspiciously, ready to “slap the cuffs” on this new strange young man the moment things started to head south.
“I have no idea what possessed the two of you to tie these trees up so that they looked like bodies, to begin with,” another young woman’s voice could be heard coming through the door complaining loudly.
“Come on, thith,” Sam protested. “You can’t tell me that it wath not funny”.
“We go from the middle of the trenches in Bastone, to this frozen wasteland,” Dixion grumbled, coming in and shaking wet snow from an army issue coat that looked very out of place in the year 2017.
“At least no one is shooting at us now, Dix,” a female voice attempted to console him.
“And trees were not exploding all around us, either,” a slightly younger male voice added.
Around this time, Armo and Adeline had rounded the corner, lugging with them the said boxes of Christmas ornaments Emily had been speaking about just moments earlier. They both halted in their tracks at the sight before them, too taken aback to say much else.
“Hey Chloe, where did ya go darlin’,” a deep voice that both Armo and Adeline recognized as none other than Ben Ross, bassman for the Country vocal group, for King and Country entered, glancing around and finally smiling as he spotted his petite blond wife, going over to give her a peck on the forehead despite the glare she shot at him.
“You are the one who hid my peppermint candle. Just fess up!” His wife demanded.
“I was protecting you from your pyromaniac tendencies,” Ben said, not missing a beat as he captured his wife in one of his trademark hugs from behind, resting his chin on her head, which Chloe secretly adored.
Jasmine and Victoria had, in the meantime, approached the entryway, curious to see what all the clamor was about.
Emily’s smile only grew bigger at the sight before her eyes. Despite the fact that she was nowhere near ready for the festivities to start, the fact that about three-quarters of her intended company had arrived overjoyed her.
Though, admittedly, there were some complications that she had yet to truly work out. Like, how was she supposed to tell her World War Two paratroopers over there that they were in 2017, and that the war they had been fighting had been over for over 70 years?
She wished Stark would hurry up and bring her guests from the “future” with her. Everything would be made slightly easier for her if only she had a super soldier World War Two veteran whom she had forced to deal with being in the twenty-fourth century with star ships and the like.
Plus, he could possibly explain the whole concept of time travel so that it made more sense.
Then again, could anyone possibly explain time travel to that it could be comprehended?
Tony had told her it was supposed to be something similar to the Wardrobe in the Narnia books. When they left their own times, mostly by being transported while they were in the middle of their “routine” tasks of everyday life, no second would pass in their world, while an infinite amount of time could pass in this “real” world.
OK, Emily, focus. Time to welcome whose here. She took a deep, somewhat nervous and shaky breath in while stepping forward.
“Welcome one and all, to Emily’s character Christmas party of 2017!”
“Wait….” Jasmine spun around, narrowing her eyes at Emily suspiciously.
“Character Christmas party?” Daniel Summars, the younger of the three decked in World War Two garb, questioned.
“Yes,” Emily’s cheeks reddened, somewhat embarrassed by the trap she had stepped in to.
“Let’s just say, that my, ern, pen and my imagination brought you into being?”
“Wait…..” Chloe said, trailing off in confusion.
“Did not the good Lord himself do that?” Victoria finished what was on the younger woman’s mind.
“Well, yes in a matter of speaking. The good Lord game me the idea to make all of you”.
“Makes sense, to a point,” Adeline, who along with Armo, had been quiet up until now, said from the corner.
Ben was nodding along in agreement. “He gives us the minds to create other things. So we really are an indirect creation of Him, in a sense”.
Chloe rolled her eyes, both amused and slightly irritated that Ben would be so easily accepting of this. She looked at Armo and Adeline. “So, have you all gotten our rooms sorted out?” Out of everyone here, it was helpful to have at least a couple of familiar faces to look to with all the weird things happening.
“We do,” Armo stepped forward, his arms still loaded with boxes. “If you all will just line up at the desk, we will get all of this sorted out”.
Everyone assembled glanced around at each other and shrugged. They had all been invited to a Christmas party, after all. There was really no point in leaving before the festivities even had a chance to start.
Once everyone had gotten as settled as they could, they all met back in the common room of the lodge.
“So, looks like you were just in the middle of setting up,” Susan, the young female paratrooper, commented, glancing around at the trees propped in the corner and the boxes of decorations scattered every which way.
“Yeah,” Emily remarked ruefully, hiding a smirk as Ben was now playfully dangling a piece of fake mistletoe he had snatched up over Chole’s head, eyebrow quirked. Chloe made a huge show of pretending to be annoyed, before stretching up to give him a peck on the lips.
“Jaz and Tory here came early to help set up, but now that you all are here…”
“We can make it a communal effort,” Adeline, or Del, said with a smile, grabbing a box of outdoor Christmas lights as she nudged Armo.
“Come on, Hun. It’s gonna be dark soon. We had better light this place up so the remaining guests will know where to come”.
Armo took the box from his wife’s arms, being ever the gentleman, smiling from ear to ear. No one ever had to tell him twice to go spend some time outside.
“Wait, MORE people?” Jaz asked, holding the ladder for Austin -whom she had found to be attractive upon introductions earlier- as he was hanging the evergreen around the perimeter of the communal room.
“Yeah...only a few….” which, amounted to about six or seven, if Emily was doing the math right with the total number of people she invited. She kicked herself internally, not for the first time that day, for hosting this party to begin with. How she was going to manage to keep everyone straight was going to be a miracle.
Victoria sighed. She knew when someone was hiding something; after all, it came with her line of work. However, she was slowly starting to feel the Christmas spirit, despite her pessimistic outlook. So, she took Susan’s hand, being curious about the uniform, drawing her into the kitchen to help with the misappropriations.
“Never fear, people, the life of the party has arrived!” Emily was relived at the sound of the voice coming from the entryway of the lodge. The one person who had made a promise to her to help her co-host the party, had finally arrived. By the sound of the clamor in the passageway, Mr. Tony Stark was not alone, either.
“Tony! It’s about time you showed up!” Emily greeted the older man with a hug.
“Well, it took some time dragging these two from their Galaxy-class space liner in the 24th century,” Tony gestured to a familiar blond and brunette just behind him. “To be honest, put a man like me with tech like that, an you have a match made in heaven. I almost stayed, but, after all, I am a man of my word”.
The one and only Captain Steve Rodgers, clad in a red star fleet command uniform instead of his “typical” red, white, and blue garb that he had commonly worn in this era ; along with having been frozen one too many times to really be fazed the the concept of time travel, scoffed and shook his head incredulously at Tony’s last remark. Once the same Stark, always the same Stark. His gaze shifted until another familiar, yet older, uniform caught his eye worn by two gentleman -who had previously been “meticulusly” arranging the creche they found in a box on top of the piano- were now staring open-mouthed at him. Steve sighed, hanging his head and rubbing the tension from his neck. This was going to take a heck of a lot of explaining to two world war two “brothers”.
“Can you blame us?” Daisy asked, crossing her gauntlet-clad arms in front of her chest. She also was wearing the four pips on her collar recognizing her rank in star fleet as captain. Yet, instead of the blood red uniform that her husband wore, hers was jet black, accented by command red piping along the torso and down the legs.
When this Tony, which she had been under previous assumption that he was long dead, based on Steve's stories, had showed up on their ship saying that they had been invited to a Christmas party, Daisy Rodgers had been curious, yet reluctant to travel into the past. There was so much negative history surrounding this time period, yet the long-lost tradition of an ancient earth Christmas had always intrigued her.
“Quite frankly, if anyone could actually invent time-travel Tony, it would be you,” Steve remarked, though Daisy could hear regret in his voice as he looked to the two men dressed in World War Two uniforms.
Oh…. Daisy made the connection, glancing at Steve sympathetically. If his old buddy Tony now had the means of time travel, that meant….
She fought back a twinge of jealousy. Peggy had been so long ago for Steve now, practically two lifetimes ago if one went about ti with a “literal” perspective. He really would not revisit the past, would he?
Come back tomorrow for part two!