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The Festival of Jesus' Wingman

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“Ooh! Please tell me you got the cranberry sauce.” Samantha says to Shepard as they set the dining table for Christmas lunch in the Normandy's mess.

“Umm... no? I thought you were getting it.”

“Agh! Christmas turkey without cranberry sauce?! That's it. The day's ruined already.”

“Calm down, it's only cranberry sauce.”

“But... we always have cranberry sauce...” she says, her bottom lip aquiver and eyes welling.

“You have the exact same dinner every year?”

“Of course! Don't you?”

“Well, not the exact same dinner.”

“Turkey, pork, roasties, sprouts, carrot and turnip... Well I say turnip, it's usually a swede...”

“Doesn't that get boring?”

“It's traditional! I mean, don't you guys basically do the same thing at Thanksgiving?”

“Well yea! But that's Thanksgiving, that's... well that's... anyway! There's just no way we're getting cranberry sauce now so that's that really. Sorry, Sam.”

“Happy merry!” Garrus shouts as he walks into the mess.

Traynor sighs.

“Almost, Garrus. Nice effort, anyway.” Shepard says.

“Merry happy?”

A hand now comes up to Traynor's nose.

“I got it!” Garrus says, “Merry new year!”

“Close enough.” Traynor concedes. “Now you're here, you can put these up.”

She hands Garrus tinsel covered garlands and a staple gun.

Garrus takes the items and looks at the staple gun, “Engineering is going to have a fit. Never mind EDI and Joker...”

“For fuck's sake! It's Christmas!” Traynor snaps. “Can't people just... just... agh!”

Then she storms from the mess. Garrus looks to Shepard puzzled and open mouthed, his mandibles slightly twitching.

“Don't ask...” Shepard stops him, “Just... put up the decorations. Please?”

“Okay... but if engineering-”

“That's an order, Vakarian.”

“Well that, I can work with. Thank you.” he responds then begins stapling the garlands to the upper area of the mess walls.

“Not just straight, Garrus, we want a bit of droop.”

“What now?”

“You know, so they hang a bit.”

“Really?” Garrus sighs.

“You want to make Specialist Traynor cry?”

“Fine! How many centimetres?”

“Hilarious, Vakarian. Now shut up and carry on stapling.”

“Where'd ye want me, Commander?” Donnelly asks, appearing in full Scots regalia. “I've brought me pipes for a wee bit of carolling.”

“I thought generally only the human females wore dresses or skirts?” Garrus says.

“Aaah no, now that's where you are very much mistaken, ma turian friend. This, Garrus, is a kilt! Worn by brave Scots warriors for centuries. And these, these are ma pipes. Let me get 'em warmed up for ye.”

Donnelly begins blowing into one of the pipes to start inflating the bagpipe's sack, then a low whining drone wails it's way out.

“What the...” is all that Garrus can get out before the full blaring cacophony of the pipes is unleashed upon him with a rendition of 'Amazing Grace'.

After only a few bars Garrus walks over to Ken, slaps the pipe from his mouth then the bag to the floor and they hit the floor with a high pitched squeal, then a deflating groan.

“Don't do that again.” Garrus simply says with a point of a finger, then calmly returns to his task of stapling.

Ken stands stunned for a moment, then sheepishly picks up his bagpipes which let out a final sad moan and he shuffles away.

“Who'd you get for Secret Santa?” Shepard asks Garrus.

“What is Christmas, exactly? Was Santa some kind of hero? Jesus' wingman or something?” he stops to puzzle.

“No, it's... well Jesus was real but not Santa.”

“I see...” Garrus ponders further.

“Well there's a guy from history that Santa is based on but it's not actually him.”

“Hm.”

“But it's not really about Santa.”

“Oh. It's not?”

“No... Garrus, I'm pretty much aethiest as it is. Christmas? An excuse for some good eating and maybe kick back for a while. Traynor? I don't think she's religious, not to that extent anyway. For some people though, it's one of the biggest things in their year. I reckon she's had a bum Christmas or two in the past, that usually makes people antsy about the season of good will.”

“Soooo... Santa Claus is more like a fairy tale...? Hm. Why stick that onto a credible religious festival?”

“No idea. As far as I'm concerned, the whole thing may as well be a fairy tale.”

“You humans are weird. You have a festival where you celebrate the alleged saviour of all humanity, then he barely gets a mention on the day. It's all dinner, and decorations, and Santa, and trees and fairies. You don't think that's weird?”

“It's all sky fairies to me, Garrus. People can celebrate their supernatural delusions any way they choose, all the better if I get to have a lie in a few drinks to boot.”

“Hm. Fair enough. Still weird though...”

Ashley whistles 'Jingle Bells' with a bounce in her step as she enters the mess then stands front and centre with a huge grin.

“Merry Christmas!” she shouts with glee then grins some more.

“Whereas Williams...” Shepard gives a presenting hand.

“What can I do?” Ashley enthusiastically asks then stops herself. “Oh! Wait right here.” then she goes again.

“Yup...” Garrus says quietly to himself as he staples another length of decoration, “veeery weird...”

“I'm fine. We'll just have to cope.” Samantha announces as she returns. “So. Where are we then? What's going on with the stove? The sprouts aren't going mushy are they? I can't stand mushy sprouts!”

“Everything's fine! They've barely got going.”

“Will they be ready in time?!” Sam now panics.

“Sam! Everything's fine. Stop fretting.”

“Here we are then.” Ashley now returns. “One pot of cranberry sauce, as promised.”

“Oh it was you who was on cranberry duty! Thank the Goddess!” Shepard says.

“Oh Ashley, I could kiss you!” Sam cries.

“Let's not go overboard, eh? It's only a bit of sauce.”

“You're a bit of sauce.” Sam winks.

“Commander? Do I have to take this?” Ashley protests.

Liara enters still in her dressing gown, yawning and her eyes lids heavy, seemingly unperturbed by the festive activity around her. She goes to the coffee pot to find it unplugged, so unplugs whatever was using the pot's usual socket, causing the fairy lights bordering the kitchen to dim.

“What's that sound?” Liara puzzles, “EDI?”

“Yes, Liara?”

“Are the engines running okay?”

“Yes, Liara. Is there a problem?”

“Hm, I can hear like a grinding sound.”

“I can detect no problems in the ship's systems.”

“Um... Liara?” Shepard attempts to bring Liara's attention to Samantha who is baring gnashing teeth at her.

“What?” Liara asks quite innocently.

“You unplugged. The fairy lights.” Samantha says as though Liara had just used her bed as a toilet.

“Oh. I'll plug them back in once I'm done!” Liara says brightly.

“You'll plug them back in now!”

Liara plugs the lights back in and picks up the coffee pot, then stares around the room with bored disgust.

“Tell when your holy day is over. I'm going back to bed.” then she is gone.

“If Liara can just go back to bed-”

“Don't even think about it, Vakarian.”