For an anonymous (but sponsored) prompt.
The Agency’s Primary Response Team (the PRaTs, as they were called by just about everyone, including themselves), had decided to do a Californian version of “secret santa.” Bastards, second sons, and third daughters all of them, they were a mongrel and nastily sarcastic group, for all that they were Tir na Cali’s heroes.
Being all of that, their “secret santa” idea had turned into a practical joke session almost before it started. Nocturne-no-last-name, the team’s surveillance expert, began finding little “gifts” from her Santa almost immediately – toy mice, for a while, because her last, ill-fated boyfriend had liked to call her Kitten. Then chocolate – she was allergic. A hideous Christmas sweater – since almost no-one in Tir na Cali celebrated Christmas, her Santa must have gone to great lengths to find the monstrosity.
Since she couldn’t get revenge directly, Nocturne instead decided to go about her vengeance sideways, and thus tormented her gift-ee. Belial, third son of a minor noblewoman and a captured missionary, found Bibles stacked in his locker, advent wreaths, Santa hats.
Not to be outdone, Belial then inflicted his embarrassment on Taguia, whose origins no-one but the Boss knew. Taguia got maps (she had a bit of a direction-sense problem, and had gotten them lost when required to navigate), compasses, a GPS, an emergency beacon…
…and found her way to Davros’ locker, where she started leaving every single plastic insect she could get her hands on, along with several of the living variety. When Davros was done picking them all out of his locker, he moved back to his cunning plan of wrapping (having wrapped; none of the PRaTs were poor) five hundred small boxes, the sort a ring might come in, and placing them, one hundred twenty-five at a time, in his gift-ee’s locker.
When this led to Anastasia having a breakdown in the locker room, even the PRaTs agreed that things had gone too far. It was nearly Yule, though, so, by unspoken truce, nobody presented any more strange gifts for the remaining five days. Tiny, peace-offering treats appeared instead, as if the whole team was, very carefully, backing away from each other slowly. Didn’t mean it, sorry. Didn’t mean to make a mess. Here, have a cookie and some tea? They eyed each other uncertainly, nervously. They all liked pranks, right? They all ribbed each other, in that extra-rough way that siblings can get away with. They didn’t know how the line had been crossed, or ever where, exactly, the line was, but they knew that something had gone wrong.
On Yule, when the reveal was supposed to happen, people, instead, shyly left presents in the common room when no-one else was looking, and, just as shyly, all gathered together for an eggnog lunch to open their presents. They all pretended not to notice that Anastasia’s hands were shaking.
Agon, who was responsible for starting all this with Nocturne’s gifts, was more than a little hesitant, too, opening his present. It was awfully small, they all noticed, just about the size of hundreds of boxes in Anastasia’s locker. Was this going to be another prank? Had they all gone serious for nothing?
“Oh.” It was barely an exhalation, as Agon stared at his anonymous gift – anonymous, but obvious, as everyone but Anastasia leaned forward to look.
“Oh…” Davros and Belial murmured, and Taguia whispered a reverent-sounding “shit.” Nestled in the tiny box was a gold ring with a ruby. A Consort’s ring. An offer of a title none of them had to offer.
The PRaTs, staring at that box, silently agreed to never try this secret santa thing again.
Notes: The Agency is Tir na Cali’s answer to the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and the DOD. Possibly also SHIELD.
A Consort in Cali is a royal’s non-permanent partner, a “marriage” that can be with someone of any status level, including slave.
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