The Most Wonderful Time
Chapter 1: Here We Go a Wassailing
"YOU. ARE. ALL. IDIOTS." In an attic in Team Rocket headquarters in Viridian City, a brown haired girl brandished a rubber-banded bundle of forms at two frightened men and a ghost.
Nekou Loki Usagi was not pleased. Leave it to her department to thoroughly ruin the holidays for her more than they already had been... yes, leave it to them. Three days till Christmas and out of nowhere... this.
"Um, if it makes you feel any better, Miss Nekou-" the black haired one began.
"Don't call me that," Nekou snapped. She hated being called Miss anything.
"-Right, if it makes you feel any better, Nekou, there's only half the work we had last year."
Nekou thumbed through the papers, the red band that bound them vibrating gently as she did so.
"Right, right, Asagi, only half-" she said, slightly mellowed now.
Asagi and his partner in crime, Ruiza, exchanged relieved glances with each other, ones that recognized the Usagi Threat Level color had dropped back from orange to yellow.
"-only half?" Nekou asked, and she snapped back up from the papers, staring directly at the two. Yasuka, the ghost present, winked at the two. "Have fun," she whispered, floating off quickly, as the reactions of the two went from relieved back to something along the lines of oh-holy-crap-we're-gonna-die.
"Um," Ruiza began, "I think that's what Asagi said..."
"ONLY HALF? That's like saying 'it's only a flesh wound'!" Nekou said. "Which is what SOMEONE here is going to have if you two don't stop standing around staring at me like a couple of beached Magikarp. Now either help me out with this stuff or get the hell out of here."
This time it was Ruiza who initiated the awkward glance. The two looked at the angry Rocket staring them down. Her loyal Sneasel, Kali, perched in her regular spot on her shoulder. Given the Pokemon's presence, the threat of flesh wounds was a very real possibility.
"Y-yes ma'am!" they both said and quickly found their way to the trapdoor ladder leading out of the Covert Operations main offices.
"And don't come back!" Nekou said, then facepalmed. Why the hell did I give them a choice? she thought. Nekou shook her head then gently lifted Kali off her shoulder and set her down on the floor. "Okay, Kali," she said. "I am going to clean up the mess those two... wastrels... left, then head to my office and get this work done... argh." The scene from earlier was a worst case scenario to say the least. Nekou had set the Covert Operations Christmas party for today, because the next two days she had PLANNED to get some things tied up before year's end to hopefully secure a nice holiday bonus before the Team all got off for the holidays till the new year, and Asagi and Ruiza had picked that party, right after the Secret Santa exchange, to spring the unfinished forms on her, ruining the party as well as her Christmas. Now all that remained of a once jolly fete was a mess of half eaten cookies, an empty eggnog carton, and some crumpled Doritos bags.
There was a knock on the trapdoor.
If this is Asagi or Ruiza so help me... Nekou thought, moving away from the door's location on the floor.
"Come on in," she said, irritated. Her irritation lessened upon seeing the face of Hitoshi, her boyfriend.
"What, no mistletoe?" Hitoshi asked, looking up.
"Not now, Hito," Nekou said, then eased up upon seeing Hitoshi's slightly disappointed expression.
"Besides, since when have I needed mistletoe to do this?" she asked, surprising him with a kiss on the cheek. Hitoshi blushed then adjusted his glasses. "What do you need?"
"Some help," Hitoshi said.
"Oh?" Nekou asked.
"Well, the Professor is getting really sick of Namba's little Santa plots every year..."
"You mean, the whole killing Santa thing?"
"Yeah," Hitoshi said. "So he asked me to, well, pretty much keep a better eye on him this year and report to him immediately when anything suspicious happened. And, well... I sort of said you'd help too."
Nekou looked at the paperwork she'd laid on the table minutes ago and then at Hitoshi. Considering Namba had a reputation among the Team for being- well, "eccentric" was too kind a word, "watching" him shouldn't be too tall an order... besides, whenever Asagi and Ruiza showed their faces again she could just press THEM into service on her work they'd so generously given her as a Christmas present.
And who was Nekou to pass up a chance to bond with Hitoshi?
"Tell me more," Nekou said.
Kali looked up at her human. Two humans talking, and it'd probably be going on for a while. Now that the Girl was distracted...
Kali slunk down the ladder. The Persian always had cream this time of year and his human was always drunk around now...
"Wendy," Giovanni said, his eyes narrowed at her, "why in Giratina's seven hells would I be giving you, of all people, a holiday bonus?
Wendy thought hard. There was the fact Team Rocket would be sunk without her crack clerical skills, the fact she always showed up no matter how much crap she took from the other ungrateful members... on the other hand, she also more or less spent a great deal of her time hassling her superior over proper filing procedures (and well, he SHOULD know them by now), and given his expression, now was a good time for a retreat, she realized.
"Well, sir," she said, "if you change your mind, I'm the first in line." She turned sharply, nodded at Professor Sebastian, who'd spent the last ten minutes in the office listening to her making her case to Giovanni for her bonus, and then in a slight huff left, muttering something under her breath.
"What is with that woman?" Sebastian asked. "I know she's Wendy, but this..."
"Last month she went with the rest of Human Resources to some musical," Giovanni said. "She's not been the same way since."
"What musical?" Sebastian asked.
"I forget the title, Giovanni replied. "I think it was... Your Mom, or something." He returned to the work he'd been doing before Wendy's verbal assault on him. "Now, Sebastian... what was it you wanted to say, before that harpy came in here and started complaining?"
"It's Namba. Something HAS to be done about him," Sebastian said.
"Duly noted," Giovanni replied.
"...You're not going to do anything, are you?" Sebastian asked. He was a bit miffed at his friend right now...
"Sebastian, I'd love to do something about Namba, but it was agreed after my mother died that all of the research department would be in your hands. I have enough to worry about now without that old coot trying to shoot a fairytale out of the sky."
As Giovanni explained that to Sebastian, Persian's nose pricked slightly. A familiar smell had entered the room, apparently as Wendy took her leave... He raised his head from his paws and noticed a round, familiar face, her eyes glowing red.
Kali beckoned to Persian with one long claw. Persian glanced up at the Man, who was distracted, and nodded, quietly creeping to the door and wedging one paw under it, managing to open it. The two clawed Pokemon slipped silently out of the office.
"...and besides, I think you're quite capable of telling the man off," Giovanni finished. "I wish I could chat a little more, Sebastian, but I honestly have to finish this paperwork right now..." He muttered curses under his breath, which Sebastian had no doubt were aimed at Wendy. "How quickly time passes..." He reached under his desk to pat Persian's head, but felt nothing there. Looking up, he noticed the slightly opened door. "Persian? Damn it, he got out again," he said.
"Should I tell anyone?" Sebastian asked.
"Don't bother. He'll come running back here once he gets hungry," Giovanni said. "Like always."
"If you say so," Sebastian said, glancing at his watch. "I'm going to get lunch. Do you want me to bring you anything?"
"No, thanks," Giovanni said. "I can't say I'm hungry right now." He looked out the window behind him... the streets were covered with snow, as they always were this time of year, the alley Persian were frolicking with the wild Sneasel, his desk was covered with a different kind of white, and everything was in its place. The utter order that could be found in the Christmas season comforted Giovanni. In all honesty... he COULD do something about Namba, but the constant of Namba, as well as Wendy's, annual pestering also brought him comfort...
Wendy sat at her desk, talking absentmindedly to Mr. Clippy on her computer screen. She knew the crudely animated paperclip really couldn't help her, but it brought her comfort- Mr. Clippy always had plenty of suggestions when she typed a question in his word bank, was always friendly, and never talked back or complained. He was an island of sanity in a sea of idiots.
"They're all so ungrateful," Wendy said. "All the paperwork in Team Rocket leaves in my outbox, and returns in my inbox. It's a circle of life. I'm the gatekeeper to the clerical division.. don't they realize I'm the grease that keeps the gears turning... the necessary middleman... the very thing keeping this team afloat?" She stabbed her ballpoint pen into the yellow legal pad she'd been taking notes on, nearly stabbing straight though to the desk. When she pulled the pen out of the paper, she looked up to see a short, bald, elderly man standing in front of her desk.
"Having a pleasant conversation there, Wendy?"
"Doctor Fernando," she said, in her mock sweet voice. "So nice to see you this holiday evening..."
"It's NAMBA, dammit!" Namba said, furious his name had once again been screwed up. "Namba!"
"Right, Dr. Namba," Wendy said, correcting herself. "What can I do for you?"
"This," Namba said, pulling out a large manilla folder of papers.
"What exactly is 'this'?" Wendy asked, raising one green eyebrow.
"This, Wendy, is my present to you. Merry Christmas. I've got those reports done you asked for."
Wendy headdesked. "Doctor... with all due respect... can they wait?"
"Oh, Wendy?" Namba asked mockingly.
Wendy raised her forehead off the desk. "It's just that.. I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay..." She returned her head to its prior position.
"Ain't it sad?" Namba asked. "Poor woman... I SUPPOSE we can come to an agreement however... to lessen your work?"
Wendy looked back up. "If that's the case, sir... I'm all ears."
Kali and Persian walked through the snow outside the building. It was nice to have some alone time together...
Persian's big ears perked up.
<Did you hear that?> Persian asked Kali.
<What, that "nya" sound?> Kali asked.
<Yes, that> Persian replied.
<I thought it was you,> Kali said.
<It wasn't,> Persian said. <I think we should investigate.>
Kali nodded at Persian and followed behind him.
As Nekou followed Hitoshi down the hall, she realized something was missing. "Hito, have you seen Kali?"
"Nope," Hitoshi said. "Sorry."
Nekou sighed. "She'll come back when she's hungry," Nekou said, hoping she was right.
~END OF CHAPTER 1~