Secret Santa

Christmas and the Crab

© 2007 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2007/12/12

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A/N: Here's the chapter multiple people have been waiting for and asking about.  Deathmask gave me some problems, I hope I managed to do a good job.

"No way in hell!" Deathmask yelled, only to be silenced by Aphrodite elbowing him in the gut.

Deathmask had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach from the moment Athena had called this damn meeting. He should have stayed in his temple, goddess summons or no. He hated parties, and there was no way in hell he was going to buy a present for anyone. Let the others be good little Saints and do as Athena told them. He was not going take part in this Christmas thing at all.

Aphrodite was giving him a look that said he had better at least pretend to go along with everyone else. (Much as Deathmask hated to admit it, it had hurt when Aphrodite had elbowed him.) But that wasn't how he did things. Let the others do what she said, he wasn't going to. When she called his name he tired to walk out...but had forgotten that there were thirteen other Gold Saints between him and the door. After being shoved forward once, he decided that it wasn't worth starting a fight over, so he took one of the pieces of paper. It wasn't like he even had to look at it anyway. He swore that he would get back at all of them for forcing him to do this, since they should know better than to think he would actually participate in their little game.

Once Athena had left, Deathmask opened his piece of paper. It wasn't like he would actually do that stupid secret Santa thing anyway, so who cared if everyone figured out who he had drawn? That way maybe his victim could get used to the fact that he wasn't getting any present on Christmas day. A look at the piece of paper make him snarl. Aioria. Out of all the Saints he had gotten Aioria. He hated the Leo Saint! He crumbled the paper and stomped off, muttering curses in his native tongue. A few Saints were still heading down to their temples. They made sure to stay out of his way.

Once down in his temple, he decided to get rid of that tiny piece of paper...and then get drunk. If he was lucky he would forget who he had drawn, and then be able to use that as an excuse when the other Gold Saints came to annoy him about the secret Santa thing. He was sure at least one or two would.

Unfortunately he woke up the next morning with a hangover...and Aioria's name still clear in his mind. Growling obscenities he forced himself to wake up and stumbled toward the shower. He stayed in his temple after that. The other Saints would bug him about the Secret Santa thing if they saw him, and he didn't not want to deal with that right now. Athena had banned them from having anymore thousand day wars, but he would be tempted to start one just to avoid that damnable party. Maybe he could talk Camus into it. The Aquarius Saint didn't seem like he was very....enthusiastic about the party either.

"Please don't tell me you got drunk," Aphrodite's voice said from the doorway to his room. The Pisces Saint nudged one of the empty bottles that Deathmask was in the process of cleaning up. "Wasn't that a little extreme?"

"No," Deathmask growled in reply. "If I forgot who I drew then I wouldn't have to find a present for him anymore!"

"So you'd tell Athena that you couldn't participate because you got too drunk to remember who you were supposed to buy a present for?"

"Yeah. Not like I care what she thinks of me anyway," Deathmask said. "Besides, it's not like she could do anything about it."

"She might figure out a way to find out who you had," Aphrodite pointed out. "She is a goddess after all."

"I don't care," Deathmask snapped. "I'm not going to buy a present for the damn lion, and I am not going to that damn party!"

"It's Athena's wish."

"Screw Athena than!"

"Do you want to get thrown into Cape Sunion?"

"I'll lock myself in, if it means avoiding that damn Christmas party."

Aphrodite sighed and shook his head. "It's just a party, Deathmask."

"One I don't want to go to." The Cancer Saint growled. "Once I get dragged up there, I'm going to get drunk off my ass and try to forget about everything." If he was going to be forced into going, then he might as well get something out of it. Deathmask figured that even if Athena didn't have anything alcoholic at the party, Milo or Kanon would bring something. If that didn't happen, then he would just leave. He doubted if even half of the Gold Saints expected him to show up at all. The only reason he was even thinking about going was because he was sure that some of the other Gold Saints would make sure he went, even if it mean physically dragging him up the stairs.

"Do what you want!" Aphrodite said. "But try not to do something that will get the rest of us in trouble, too."

"Why should I care?" The Pisces Saint didn't respond to that. Instead he left the temple shaking his head. Deathmask grinned, then turned back to straightening up his rooms.

For the next few days, Deathmask tried to forget all about the party, the Secret Santa thing, and Christmas in general. The Cancer Saint had long ago decided that he hated the holiday. Suddenly people who had been happy to ignore his actions for most of the year decided that it was their job to make him be happy and sociable. Normally he could safely ignore it since Saints didn't celebrate Christmas, but this year...oh, this year it was as if the universe was making him pay for all the deaths he had caused. He just could not escape that cursed Christmas cheer. Aldebaran had locked himself in his rooms baking things and every time Deathmask passed through his temple, he could smell it. At one point the Taurus Saint actually tried to give him some of the Christmas cookies, but Deathmask had just told him where he could put his cookies and hurried away.

Milo's temple was worse in some ways. It was almost as if the stones had randomly decided to sprout mistletoe everywhere (how the heck Milo had managed to hang the greenery in some of those places was a mystery), and the Scorpio Saint seemed to take great delight in playing Christmas carols as loud as he could. Deathmask avoided that place like the plague.

Even the training grounds didn't offer any respite from the Christmas fever. It seemed like everyone in Sanctuary knew about the party and could not stop talking about it. They even knew about the Secret Santa thing, and there were bets on who had drawn whom. That Deathmask personally went after anyone he heard talking about Christmas didn't help, although it did make the Cancer Saint feel a little better.

On the twenty-third, Deathmask walked out of his private rooms to discover Aldebaran, Milo, and Kanon dragging a massive pine tree through his temple.

"What in the hell is that?" he asked staring at the huge tree.

"It's our Christmas tree!" Aldebaran beamed. Deathmask snarled and retreated into his rooms. Aphrodite came by shortly after they had left.

"You still haven't found a present for Aioria," the Pisces Saint said.

"What do you think?" Deathmask said. Aphrodite shook his head, and the Cancer Saint noticed that he was dressed in causal clothes. "Don't tell me you're actually doing this secret Santa thing?"

"All you have to do is buy a present for someone, Deathmask. It's not that hard."

"I'm not the present giving type," Deathmask growled. "Why should I have to do this? We're Saints, we aren't even supposed to be celebrating Christmas!"

"But we are this year," Aphrodite pointed out. "No matter how much you try to ignore it, you're going to have to do something."

"Just leave me alone!"

"Fine." Aphrodite turned to go. "But at least try to be a little more tolerant?"

"Go to hell!" Deathmask shouted, but the Pisces Saint was already gone. Muttering curses, he resolved to put the whole thing out of his mind. That worked until the next morning when he was forcefully yanked off his bed by someone. He came awake at once and jumped to his feet, Cosmo raising as he prepared to attack...then he swore when he saw just who had yanked him out of bed. "What the fuck are you doing, Aphrodite!?"

"You do realize it's Christmas Eve?" the effeminate Saint said sharply as he stood with his hands on his hips and glared at Deathmask. "And you haven't even tried to find a present for Aioria yet."

"So? What the hell does that have to do with you yanking me out of bed?"

"Because you are the only one who hasn't gone shopping yet. Even Shaka went down into Athens, did you know that?" Aphrodite said conversationally. "Oh, and Athena just told me that if you don't get a present for Aioria, then you'll have to dress as a Christmas elf for the party."

"What?" Deathmask spit out. "She can't do that!"

"That's what she just announced. Almost everyone else is up in the main temple helping her decorate, and there are several Saints who would only be too delighted to help you into your costume." Deathmask sputtered incoherently.

"Fine! I'll find something." The Cancer Saint snapped out at last.

"You can't just grab something random out of your temple either." Aphrodite told him. "Lady Athena will know. You actually have to buy it." Deathmask swore under his breath, then grabbed clothes and headed for the shower. He hated shopping, and he didn't even know why he was being forced to do this. Maybe it was some twisted sort of revenge from someone. He doubted that Athena thought of this by herself. It seemed more like something Milo or Kanon would come up with.

When he walked out into the temple, he was surprised to find Aphrodite still there.

"I'm scared to think of what you'll buy on your own." The Pisces Saint said by way of explanation. "And I don't want Lady Athena getting upset on the day of her party." Deathmask muttered something rude under his breath about the goddess, but since it was in Italian, he was certain that Aphrodite hadn't understood him.

The trip down through the three other temples was quiet. It did appear that most of the Saints were helping Athena, all though they did see Saga on their way through. He gave them a curious look but the elder Gemini didn't say anything, something Deathmask wasn't sure if he should be grateful about or not.

Down in the shopping district, Deathmask wondered if he had been shoved into some newly discovered, previously unknown circle of hell as punishment for his sins. He had been pushed, shoved, and slammed into more times than he could count by people who seemed to have nothing better to do then run everywhere.

"This is why you should have gone sooner," Aphrodite complained. "Half the shops are already closed for Christmas."

"Why should I care? Let's just grab something for that idiot lion and leave," Deathmask said, just as someone bumped into him from behind. The last of his patience vanished, he turned and raised his hand to attack...only to have it swatted down by Aphrodite.

"Don't!" the Pisces Saint hissed then scanned the area for a likely looking shop. He knew that Deathmask would just grab something in the first shop he went in, and it didn't seem fair that Aioria would end up with junk just because Deathmask didn't like shopping. "There!" The Pieces Saint spotted a likely looking shop and shoved the Cancer Saint toward it. Deathmask cursed at him, but went into it.

Inside there was a crush of shoppers, which Deathmask threaded through with much grumbling. Aphrodite looked for something, anything that would be a good present.

"How about this?" the Pisces Saint said, holding up a lion-headed pendant.

"...It's a necklace."

"No it's a pendant."

"Call it what you want, but I am not giving a necklace to another guy!" Deathmask shouted, drawing the attention of several other people. Aphrodite quickly put the pendant back and went in search of something else. Deathmask then rejected a blanket that had a lion on it, and several other gifts. The Cancer Saint was growing more and more annoyed by the moment. When Aphrodite pointed out gift baskets that held a variety of meats and cheese, Deathmask just grabbed one.

"Fine, let's get out of here!" he snarled as he headed toward the front of the store. Once outside, he headed straight back toward Sanctuary. On the way he vowed that he would find out exactly who had planted that elf idea in Athena's head and personally kill them for it.

* * *

Next chapter: Aioria goes shopping for Shion.

The End of Chapter 6 -- Continued in Chapter 7

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