(Ifalna POV. Miss Aerith… I posted this one with you in mind.)
They had a symbolic Christmas - green pudding for lunch, red wine for dinner. A cardboard cutout of a branch of holly hung in a non-committal way above the lounge room curtains, and everyone worked pseudo-merrily to a Carols CD an intern had bought as a joke.
In all the pleasant awkwardness of the day, what Ifalna found most amusing was the effect of alcohol on one Simon Hojo. Her initial intention in buying the sparkling red was to get Vincent to loosen up, but in no time at all it found its way around the dinner table, and in no time at all Simon’s pale olive complexion was rosy pink.
He insisted he wasn’t drunk, but he did let her tie his long fringe up over his head with one of her ribbons.
When Gast came into the lounge to remind everyone that tomorrow wasn’t a public holiday, the bottle was empty and Lucrecia was already asleep in the sofa nearest the fireplace. So it was true; geeks and alcohol really didn’t mix well. Lucy and Simon only had a couple of glasses between them, while most of the bottle was shared between Vincent and Ifalna. To her disappointment though, neither the Turk’s attitude nor colour changed a bit. She’ll just have to try harder next year.
After she made sure Simon could find his way up the stairs alright (though he had no problem, because he ‘wasn’t drunk’), he turned at the door and pressed a little decorated box into her hand, then chuckled heartily at her startled expression. He raised a finger to his lips.
"Shh…Don’t let Lucy see that or we’ll be in real trouble."
And he turned, waved, and closed the door in her face.
She stood with the box in hand for a moment, wondering if all of Jupiter’s moons have suddenly aligned or something similar. Then, walking slowly back to her own bedroom, she opened the box carefully, half expecting paralysis powder to fly out at her…
…and found a small handful of pressed flowers, plus a note saying: I like them better this way.
Next Christmas, she decided, she was definitely going to save up for more wine.