The winter chill nipped at the paws of the cats waiting out in the square and twirled around their muzzles. Frost lined the streets and the little tree two of them had set up in a small part of town. One of the two cats had to pull her scarf up higher so that it touched her large pink nose to shield it from the cold. She cursed her sudden lack of shaggy fur: ever since she evolved, most of it had turned into sleek grey hair.
The cat a few pawlengths away from her was less cold. He was wearing a small gold-embroidered jacket, not to mention the many mugs of cocoa in the box in front of him. He yawned, grabbing one of the mugs in one of his tails and took a long sip before glancing around.
"Where is everyone?" He huffed, his gaze jerking over to the she-cat. "Didn't you say they'd be here soon, ma cherie?"
The swoobat took a deep sigh. "That's what I thought would happen," she meowed, eyeing his jacket. "I guess we have to wait a bit longer. But Asara, you of all cats should be patient, considering you have something to wear in this cold. It's me who should be anxious!"
The swoobat nearly jumped out of her pelt, surprised by the sudden arrival. She turned around to face to newcomer: a mudkip by her looks. Wendy sighed and smiled warmly at the blue cat, waving her tail.
"Hey there!" She exclaimed. "Welcome! The festivities will begin momentarily, but right now we just to wait for... a-anyone else who bothered to show up! While we're waiting though, you can go over to my friend Asara and grab something to drink, 'mkay? Thank you!"
She put her paws onto the mudkip's shoulders and pushed her over to where the drifloon cat was standing. He smiled before picking up a mug of cocoa and offering it to her.
"A pleasure to see you again. Mago, correct?" He purred as she took the mug in her paw. She shot him a soft smile in return, nodding.
"Yeah. Small island to run into each other again, hm?" Mago replied before walking away towards the sparsely decorated tree to admire the few baubles it had.
Wendy watched her for a few moments without seeing the crowd of cats coming in from a short walk away. Her attention was drawn to them as they approached her, plastering a grin in her face.
"Welcome everybody!" She meowed to little group of cats: an azurill, Aire, Lionel and petlil. "I'm glad you all showed up! For a minute there, I was worried nobody would bother to come..."
"I'm surprised, Wendy!" The little riolu mewed. "We're friends (I think...), of course I'd come!"
The swoobat nodded, though she was a little unnerved by how Lionel was looking at her. Something was a little off about him. Was that mistrust she was sensing?
"To be honest, Lionel dragged me here," the petlil sighed, a smile also plastered on her face. "That doesn't mean I wouldn't have come, though! I just didn't really, uh, know about the party, ha ha..." She shook her head and put out a paw, offering it to Wendy. "I'm Nikki. I don't believe we've met before?"
The swoobat shook her paw, shaking her head as well. "Nope! I'm pleased to meet you, though!" She then withdrew her paw and directed it towards the drifloon cat to her side, who was currently giving one of his mugs to a bulbasaur cat. "While we wait for anyone else, you can go over there and get some hot chocolate. Feel free to chat amongst yourselves and help decorate the tree!"
The four cats wandered over to Asara's post and each grabbed a mug for themselves. The purple cat smiled as they each took one, and his gaze drifted over all of them.
"Aire, Lionel, it's a pleasure to meet up with you again," he purred before sipping his own drink.
"It's good to see you too, Asara!" Aire exclaimed, waving her tails in greeting. The riolu simply nodded before taking a swig of the cocoa and turning to Nikki, trying to engage her in conversation.
"Ooh, Lionel, mind introducing me to your pretty friend over there?" Asara said, his sight shifting over to the petlil. Nikki blushed and began heading towards the tree, while the riolu only watched her go. He swung his head back to the drifloon and stomped closer to him, scowling.
"Watch it," he grumbled before putting his drink back up to his mouth. This didn't phase the drifloon one bit, though.
"Jealous, are we?" He sneered, to the riolu's anger. He opened his mouth to say something when something behind him called his name.
He turned around to spot a blue she-cat, joined by a mareep, a scyther and a scrafty. He blushed and his ears were sent forwards a little more. "Oh, h-hey there, Farah," he meowed. "Didn't think I'd s-see you here!"
She smiled happily at him. "It's a party! Duh I'm coming!" She laughed before turning to the three cats behind her. "And I guess these are Kiki, Blade and Zane. Guys, this is my friend Lionel!"
The mareep, Kiki, smiled and took a mug. "It's nice to meet you!" She said sweetly before trying a sip of the cocoa. The scrafty nodded and waved his tail in greeting before taking a mug and heading towards the tree. The scyther did the same.
"The hot chocolate's really good, thank you!" Kiki said to Asara, taking another sip. He nodded as he started to close up the box--only a few were left, and there didn't seem to be anyone else coming. The mareep left the scene and headed for the tree, and was watched by Farah as she left. Her gaze eventually returned to the little riolu cat and she twitched her tail.
"Well, I guess I ought to go over there, too," she meowed. "It looks like Wendy's gonna start talking any minute now!" She motioned her head towards the swoobat, who had left her post and was standing in front of the tree. The dratini cat smiled and turned to trot towards the tree, and grabbed a bauble from a little box of decorations near it to hang on a slender branch. Lionel stared at her for a few moments before Asara leaned down to his shoulder, grinning.
"So it's two girls you're eyeing, hmm? You're quite the little player, aren't you?" He remarked, trying to make the riolu feel uncomfortable.
"Shut up, Asara," he grumbled as he left the area to play in the snow near the tree.
The drifloon chuckled. It worked.
"Attention, everyone! Can I have your attention please?" Wendy yowled. "We're going to start momentarily, so just look up here if you'd please!"
She hovered in the air a few feet above the other cats, a genuine smile on her face this time. She was excited to get these games started.
"To start us off, let's play some games. We'll split into two teams of six, and we'll name your teams once you're in. I'll be the referee, of course!"
She cleared her throat and shot a look towards Blade and Zane, who were whispering about something. They fell silent as she turned away from them to begin speaking again.
"On the first team is Nikki, Mago, Asara, Sandi, Farah and Zuri. You guys are the Jolly Elves! And, on the second team are Kiki, Blade, Lionel, Aire, Zane and... Er..."
Wendy trailed off to count the teams again. It dawned on her that there weren't enough players, and she began to panic. She didn't know what she would do if her party wasn't perfect, and the Elves would have the upper hand if the other team only had 5 players. And she certainly couldn't be on the team--she had to referee, and if she was on a team it'd be biased.
Think, Wendy, think... she thought, looking around frantically.
That's when a shape on top of a building caught her eye: she recognized it as an absol.
That's it! she thought before zooming up to the rooftop. He was gonna help out whether he liked it or not.
"C'mon, Sol!" She loudly meowed, jerking the absol out of his nap. He growled something under his breath, stretching as he looked up.
"Wendy? Is that you?" He muttered. "It seems like everyone's evolving these days..."
"Now's not the time! There's an emergency and I need your help!" She said, a tone of urgency rising in her words. The dark-type sprang to his paws, his ears perking.
"An emergency?! Is there a shifty cat going around killing people?!" He exclaimed, suddenly wide awake.
"No. Just follow me!" Wendy said before flying a short ways off of the roof and swooping down to her previous location. Sol followed, leaping off and onto another roof. He repeated this until he was near ground level, and he jumped onto the ground and raced after the swoobat with widened eyes.
They narrowed again as he reached the crowd.
"We really really need you on a team, Sol! We can't play any party games without you!" Wendy called to him. He hadn't come too close to the mass of cats.
"...I have better things to do. Sorry, Wendy," he said with a sigh, rolling his eyes as he turned and started to walk away. He was stopped by a swoobat skidding across the pavement, and then latched on to one of his back paws. He turned his head to her and she looked up at him, widening her eyes.
"Oh please please pleeeeeease, Sol? With a cherry on top? Don't be a party pooper!"
He sighed and shook her off, turning back to the crowd.
"Fine," he said blankly, "but don't bug me again for the rest of the week. I prefer to be left alone."
He was showered in thanks by Wendy, who promptly named his team the Ice Monsters and returned to where she was before, on the ground this time.
"Now that that's been sorted out..." She started to mew, "Does anyone have a suggestion for a game?"
Sandi raised her paw, and the swoobat nodded in approval.
"How about we play, 'Let's all go to sleep and not bug each other?' I'm only here for the hot chocolate." She was sent a few glares from some of the other cats, though their attention was brought to another speaker very quickly.
"How 'bout we all have a spar, hm?" Blade blurted out. He smiled, pleased with his suggestion.
"I think I'd rather play something a little more traditional than a big fight," Zuri suggested, and some of the other cats nodded in agreement.
"Gah, yer all wusses," the scyther meowed, displeased.
"How about tag, or hide and go seek?" Farah mewed with a raise of her paw.
"I think we should play truth or dare. It could be interesting," Asara purred, glancing at Lionel. "Unless, like mon ami Blade said, you're all wusses."
"Those are the best two suggestions we have," Wendy said, raising her paw. "We'll do truth or dare first, then tag. After that there's some other stuff I've planned out for us to do!"
The partiers began to whisper amongst themselves, only to be silenced again as the flying cat cleared her throat.
"Alright then, how about we get in a circle? I'll go first!"
She was called by a voice from the back of the crowd as the cats began to form a circle. It belonged to Aire, who had been relatively quiet until now.
"Excuse me, Wendy, but how do teams tie into either of those games?" Aire asked. "A little unnecessary if you ask me."
Wendy had to think for a moment. "You're right," she said after a while. "We'll just drop the teams!"
Sol perked up. "Does that mean I can leave, then?"
"No. Now get in a circle," Wendy ordered.
Once the cats had all gotten into the circle, Wendy looked around, trying to decide who her first victim would be.
"Ok, uh.... Sandi, right? Truth or dare?" Her focus shifted to the bulbasaur cat, who shot her a look.
"Truth," she muttered.
"Ok then. So, who do you hate here most of all?" The swoobat said with a chuckle. This would be good.
"Trick question," she sneered. "You're all idiots. My turn." Her vision drifted over the crowd before landing on Zane.
"Ok, big shot elite," she meowed, "truth or dare?"
"Dare!" He exclaimed, happy to be chosen for some odd reason.
"Compliment me," the bulbasaur snapped. The scrafty sat in silence for a few minutes.
"It's hard for him to compliment you. I think we can all understand!" Blade suddenly said. He was, unfortunately, sitting by Sandi herself, who put a paw on his head and pushed it into the ground.
"Quiet," she grumbled, glaring daggers at Zane.
"Uh, you're very... Very... Well-built?" The scrafty mewed, a smirk returning to his face. "I think girls that have that much muscle are--"
He was cut off by one of Sandi's vines that had pushed him down.
"Doesn't anyone know when to shut up anymore?" The grass-type muttered.
The scrafty pushed himself back up and shook off a bit of dirt from between the cracks in the cobblestone. "I think it's my turn now? Ok, then,
Zuri, truth or dare?"
"Dare?" The azurill said, startled that she was picked. She took a sip of her hot chocolate as Zane began to order her.
"Push Sandi down for me." The azurill immediately tensed up and moved her sight to the bulbasaur, who was giving her an icy cold stare.
"I-I-I-I want to sk-skip this, please, miss Wendy?" She said frantically, looking over at the swoobat. She nodded and placed a paw on the azurill's shoulder.
"No fair, that could've been funny. Why does she get to skip?," remarked Blade, who had just sat back up.
His question remained unanswered as Zuri began to speak. "Kiki, truth or dare?"
"Truth!" The mareep said happily.
"What's your favorite thing to do?" The azurill asked. A few unentertained groans emerged from the circle, due to the boring question.
"Uh... I don't really know!" The sheep cat replied. "I'm a pretty dedicated ranger, but I love to hang around with friends, too! Now that that's answered, uh, Asara, truth or dare?"
"Truth," the ghost-type meowed out, his vision shifting from Lionel, to Nikki, to Kiki.
"What do YOU do in your spare time?" Kiki asked, the groans returning.
"Me? Oh, I create the most astounding fashion creations this tacky little island's ever laid eyes upon! You should know, ma cherie, since I designed you that dress for the lotus festival."
The she-cat's mouth shaped into an 'O', nodding. "It's your turn then, Asara!"
Excellent, he thought. "Lionel," he purred, his gaze shifting to the riolu as he finished off his cocoa. "Truth or dare?"
"T-Truth?" The startled riolu blurted out, immediately regretting his choice.
"Tell me, then. You've got a little crush at this party, don't you? Tell us who they are."
The riolu's cheeks went red with embarrassment as all of the cats looked at him, curious.
"I-I-I-I don't have o-one!" He stuttered, his eyes wide with fright.
"Oh, please," Asara snickered. "I saw the way you were looking at--"
"I think that's enough!" Wendy yowled, running up behind Asara and covering his mouth with her paws. "It's starting to get late, and there's stuff I want to get done, so we'll just not play tag tonight. We're going carolling instead! Sounds fun?"
"No," Sandy and Blade said in unison, though the bulbasaur seemed to dislike the idea much more.
"Yeah!" Aire, Farah and Zuri exclaimed.
"I know a few good ones," Aire said, turning to the azurill. "I just made one up right now! Jingle bells, Sandi smells, Mago laid an egg! The Zanemobile lost it's wheel and Team Rocket got awaaaaay!" She sang happily, making Mago chuckle happily. Sandi, as usual, wasn't as happy.
"I don't smell that bad," she muttered.
Aire giggled. "Maybe not to you," she whispered jokingly.
The group began to walk away from the meeting place and paraded through the streets, fronted by Wendy and Nikki, and began to sing happily.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, ev'rywhere you go! Take a look in the five and ten, glistening once again, candy canes and silver lanes aglow! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, toys in every store! But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door!"
The carollers sang a few more songs before returning to the meeting place to finish up their drinks and talk amongst themselves.
"Well, Wendy," said a voice behind the swoobat as she watched the cats starting to say their farewells, silhouetted by the slowly rising moon. it was later than she had thought. She turned to see Sol approach her, and she twitched her tail to her side.
"You've done a decent job with the party. I don't really like gatherings this big, but I have to say, it was sort of entertaining."
"I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," the swoobat mewed, smiling.
"I have to go now, though. Thanks for everything," the Absol said before bounding off towards a high building. The swoobat figured he was just going to sleep on the roof again, and giggled a little at the thought.
"Asara!" Lionel said angrily, approaching the drifloon. "What were you doing back there in truth or dare?! Were you TRYING to make me look like an idiot?!"
"Perhaps," he purred. "Lighten up a little, mon ami. It's all in good fun. We're at a party, after all."
"Good fun?!" The riolu fumed. "That's what you call fun?! I was mortified, you damn idiot!"
"Language, Lionel. That'd be a bad impression on your girlfriends, both of them."
"I-I don't have any girlfr-"
He was cut off by a cheerful voice behind him, belonging to Farah.
"Hey Lionel, what's up? Asara giving you grief on something? You look like you're going insane over here!" She laughed good-heartedly, and stood next to the riolu.
"Uh, y-yeah, just a little," he said, "but nothing I can't handle." He blushed, his ears back a little. Asara dropped his head down to Lionel's shoulder grinning. "I think I'd best leave you two alone," he said.
"Shut up," Lionel whispered happily.
All of the partygoers had soon left, and some of the Christmas decorations on the little tree had disappeared with them. Wendy didn't mind one bit: it was the season of giving, wasn't it? She considered it a gift from herself. The swoobat was the only one left to help clean up, and luckily for her it was mainly just a few mugs and ornaments. She sighed once she had collected everything and looked up into the sky. It was snowing lightly again, and Wendy thought that of all the times it could have snowed today, this was the best time. She loved how the silhouettes of the flakes looked against the moonlight. It just seemed so poetic.
She sighed, content with her work, as she latched her claws onto a box of empty mugs and ornaments and rose into the night sky, heading towards her home in the ranger's station. As she flew, she felt the carol slip out of her mouth again into a final song:
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing,
Right within your heart!"