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Christmas With The Aetherytes - Holiday Short Story 2021

All Claire wanted to do was ignore her dark past and enjoy Christmas with her family. Unfortunately for her, there was no escaping the person visiting for the holidays. Placed in a strange predicament, she has to make a decision on how to move forward for the sake of her growing family before another war is started.

"Remember the time you almost destroyed the world?" Dartanian asked his wife. The six-foot-tall, dark man with the devious smile and short-cut hair stared at his tiny wife as she contemplated making one of the most crucial decisions of her life.

"I'm not ready yet." She said as she let her head fall. Her long, dark hair covered her face from him as she stared at the floor. He stepped closer and placed his hands on her shoulders, and kissed the top of her head.

"Why would you even bring that up?" She asked.

"My love, if you can do that and can be redeemed, then so can she."

"But that's different, and you know it!"

"Claire?" He sternly yelled. The tiny woman broke away from him and continued to grab ornaments from the newly opened packaging.

"She was going to kill you, Tanner." She said as she raised the ball to place it on a limb of the tree.

"And so did you." He remarked as he grabbed an ornament to help.

"I don't know why you keep bringing that up. It was literally a timeline that doesn't exist now."

Dartanian paused at the audacity of his wife. He looked at her with an eyebrow raised, witnessing her as she gave nothing but sassiness to him.

"Why are you so invested in her?" She asked as she headed to the kitchen. Dartanian followed closely.

"Because someone has to be the voice of reason. Besides, nobody wants to be alone on Christmas, love."

Claire turned around and looked at him. Her cheeks became rosy, and her lips poked out as she pouted.

"I know it was literally a different timeline. But do you remember that feeling? The loneliness?"

Claire's mouth twisted to the side of her face as she grew more upset. The lights flickered in the room, and Dartanian looked up to the ceiling with concern in his expression.

Claire stepped away from him and walked to the oven. Dartanian watched as she opened it and reached in with her bare hands. She grabbed the item inside and pulled it out. Dartanian immediately smelled smoke and burned sugar.

"No, no, no!" Claire yelled as the room went dark.

It had gotten quiet as the Christmas music faded, and all the motors from fans and electronics stopped.

"Dammit!" She yelped. Suddenly, her arms started to glow, instantly cutting through the darkness. Bolts of electricity extruded her tiny body and infiltrated every electronic device and light. Eventually, the power was restored. When Obsidian laid eyes on his wife again, he noticed the look on her face. Sadness swept over her as she grabbed foil to cover up her freshly baked pie.

"I don't like to be reminded of that." She said to Dartanian.

"I could understand why." He responded as he approached her.

"I don't mean to throw it in your face, love. But she has done everything she possibly could to prove herself to you."

"Except for apologizing!" She yelled as she turned to him. "My mission is to keep this family safe and finally live my life as a normal person!"

"Do normal people not have family disputes?"

Claire remained quiet, looking at her husband with spite.

"For three thousand years, I've wanted to live in peace. I was birthed in war, created the elements, was trapped in the Underworld, and killed multiple times." She stepped toward him and wrapped her arms around his neck as her eyes softened. "Can't I just have a normal Christmas?"

Dartanian saw the look in her eyes and immediately folded. He nodded in agreement and took a deep breath.

"Why is this so important to you, my love?" She asked him. Dartanian's demeanor changed.

He lifted her arms off of him and stepped away. Her eyes helplessly followed him across the living room.

"You and I have been together since the beginning of time. Your name may be different these days, and your powers may have evolved. But you are still the same woman I was destined to be with."

"What are you getting at?" She asked.

"What if we caused our own demise in our previous lifetimes because we turned our backs to the others?"

Claire went silent as she stared at her husband. Dartanian felt somewhat relieved as he thought they were on the same page. But she burst into laughter, and he suddenly lost hope again.

"Are you kidding me? I don't need those people, love." Claire said as she approached him again. "All I need is you, Alyssa, and Alexa."

"No, Claire!" He snapped. "You need me as your Obsidian Defender! I literally cannot live without you! I love you, regardless of that fact!"

Out of frustration, Claire walked away from him.

"You talk a good game about family, but you fail to realize that you are missing three components in that equation." He said as he followed her back into the kitchen. He ran around to cut her off. Instantly, her big brown eyes started to turn green, and parts of her hair started to turn white.

"Are you mad because I'm telling you the truth, Claire?" He taunted. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she attempted to calm herself.

"You want to live a normal life, I understand that. I've lived my previous life under the thumb of Hades, doing things that I am not proud of." At this point, Claire crossed her arms and looked away impatiently. "I've even put you in a world of hurt. I look forward to making it up to you this time around. But I have to address the problem here."

Claire took a moment to think about it. She took a hard swallow before saying what was on her mind.

"Okay," She squealed. "You can invite her over." For a moment, Dartanian stared in disbelief as he stepped back. Followed by a nonchalant laugh as he pulled out his phone.

"What? What's funny?" She asked, full of suspicion.

"It is a good thing I bet on you telling me yes." He said with a smile. "Because she's already on her way here."

Claire looked as if she would be sick. But angry toward her husband, she started to leave the room.

Dartanian followed behind her as she shook her head in disbelief.

"Skye, hold up." Dartanian requested.

"Do not follow me!" She snarled at him. Suddenly, the faint sound of crying was heard. Claire sighed as she stopped in her tracks. Her body tensed up as she was suddenly surrounded by bolts of electricity. Dartanian stood back, cautious of the potential backlash he could have received.

"I'll head up." He said to her.

"I got it!" She barked as she headed towards the stairs in the foyer.

Dartanian followed her with his eyes as she stomped up the stairs. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Tanner looked down at the time and headed to the foyer. As he approached the translucent glass, he could see the figure of a woman. He opened it.

"Good morning, Archon! Welcome to our home!" He excitedly greeted.

"Good morning, and thank you!" She responded as she stepped into the house. She stood at about 5' 5", a bit taller than Claire. Her hair was cut into shoulder-length layers, and her face closely resembled Claire.

Dartanian found her stunning. She smelled of sweet perfume, and she wore a white knit dress with a black belt and black heels. In her hand was a bouquet of blue roses.

"Please, make yourself at home.

"Claire is upstairs dealing with Aly and Alexa and should be down in a bit."

"Okay." She timidly said as she stared at him.

Confused, Dartanian watched, waiting for her to move toward the living room. But she stood in the foyer watching him instead.

"You good right there?" He asked her.

"I'll just wait here for Lady Skyvolt." She sternly answered as she appeared upset about something. As Dartanian stood before her, he felt something. It was a feeling of overwhelming desire and a burning need to be close to her. It was an urge that he had learned to control. But it was also the same feeling he gets around his wife.

He stepped closer to her, his eyes locked onto her.

"You can feel our emotions. Can't you?" Dartanian asked. As he waited for an answer, she appeared to be holding back tears. The answer was evident.

Dartanian's head fell as he started to feel bad for the woman. He walked past her and headed into the living room. The woman stood in their foyer alone, looking around at the beautiful home as she waited. She spotted numerous family photos all around and envied the two of them for seeming so happy. Upstairs, she could hear Claire talking with her babies and was overfilled with emotion.

Suddenly, she could hear the girl getting closer. As Claire walked down the stairs, talking with her twin girls, she smiled and joked with them. Her foot landed on the floor, and she paused for a moment. When she turned, anger burned in her expression as her eyes landed on the woman. Claire had stopped walking altogether. She and the babies stared at the woman in silence.

"Hey, my lovelies!" Dartanian howled as he stepped into the foyer. The young girls babbled with excitement as their father entered the room. He grabbed the two girls and whispered to his wife before leaving. Still staring at her visitor, Claire crossed her arms and waited to be addressed. The woman, however, stared at the little girls as Dartanian walked them out of the room.

Claire cleared her throat. Immediately, the woman's attention snapped to her. Her eyes were wide and glossy as she appeared to be filled with sorrow.

"Just so you know, I'm at full power these days," Claire announced as her eyes began to glow.

"No, Lady Skyvolt, I did not come to fight!" She stammered as she pulled the bouquet from behind her back. The unsuspecting Claire stared at the flowers with confusion as she approached the woman.

"I bought flowers for you, and I know they are your favorite."

She stepped forward and bowed as Claire took the bouquet.

"Why?" She asked. "Why are you here now?"

"Because I am drawn to them." She said, pointing to the next room at Aly and Alexa.

"My kids?" Claire screamed as her powers flared and all of her hair turned white. Suddenly, a teddy bear flew across the foyer and whacked her in the head. Claire's hair went dark again, and the blazing aura around her dissipated. She slowly turned her head to look into the living room with wide eyes and a fallen jaw.

"Not in the damn house! I just cleaned this place!" Dartanian yelled.

Completely caught off guard, she gasped and placed her hand over her mouth as she stared at Claire in disbelief. After the awkward silence, she started to snicker. Claire looked at her as if to dare her to laugh. But she could not hold back. Claire only got more upset by the second. Eventually, she allowed her guard to drop, and laughed along with her.

Dartanian continued playing with the kids as he slyly smiled, watching the two women laugh in unison. The laughter died down, and they were face to face again. Both of them, nervous.

"Maybe, coming here was a mistake." The woman said as she turned around to head for the door.

"It wasn't." Claire insisted, making her stop in her tracks. "Now that you're here, why don't I show you around."

She paused, wondering if she should take the opportunity or not. She made eye contact with Dartanian, and he gave her a thumbs up.

"Lady Skyvolt, I would love that." She said with a smile.

Claire approached her with her hands behind her back. The woman observed her, almost tempted to step back and bow.

"I'm Claire." She said. The young woman was confused. She watched her out of curiosity. Claire extended her hand, the woman grabbed it.

"I'm... Archon?" She stammered.

"Yeah, that's not going to fly," Dartanian called out. The two women looked at him as he continued playing with the girls.

Claire turned forward again, looking at her visitor.

"He's right, you know?" She said. "Archon is your only name?"

"As far as I know. The Faculty named me Archon."

Claire let go of her hand and stepped back, looking her up and down.

"You don't want a real name?"

Archon stared into the distance, her eyes glistening like diamonds.

"Parents name their children. I'm nobody's child... I'm an experiment... It's only fair that I have the name... Archon."

Dartanian stepped into the foyer again. His eyes locked on the young woman.

"You are not an experiment." He announced. "The Faculty may be gone, but you at least have one parent left."

Claire's eyes grew large as she stared at Archon in wonder. She almost seemed embarrassed.

"Well, that's disrespectful." She said to her husband.

"No, he's right. You have to give me a name."

Later that night, they all gathered in the dining room. Archon kept the children entertained as they sat in their high-chairs. To her surprise, Aly and Alexa seemed to like her a lot. They spent the majority of the time laughing as they played with her. Meanwhile, their parents tended to the food as they set the table for dinner.

"And here is the last of it." Dartanian said as he brought a large platter from the kitchen. "Ladies and tiny ladies, it is time to eat."

Claire sat next to Archon while Dartanian sat on the opposite side of the children. They sat for a while and enjoyed their meals. Eventually, they finished eating and remained at the table to talk.

"Why didn't your sister come, Tanner?" Claire asked.

"Sisters." He corrected. "I have more than one now." Claire gasped as she suddenly recalled the situation

"Yeah, I did forget that there are two more of you guys in this timeline."

Archon's eyes opened wide as she looked around at the two of them.

"You only had one sister before the Paradox?" She asked.

"Yeah, Marcianna and I came back to a world where our mom, who we'd never met before, was still alive and married to our father."

"Wow." That was all she could say.

"Where are your parents?" Claire asked.

"They visited Olympus for the holidays."

"That is... concerning." She said as she placed her fist on her chin.

"Yeah, I'm trying not to think about it," Dartanian added.

"What's in Olympus?" Archon asked.

"Our estranged daughter... Neona."

The three of them sat for a while, giving all their attention to the kids.

"Thank you guys for allowing me to spend time with you," Archon said. Claire smiled and reached for her hand. She gave the woman a huge smile and saw tears forming in her eyes.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Claire asked.

"I just feel so much pain in my heart from what I did to you guys!" She cried out. Claire and Dartanian looked at each other, shocked at the amount of remorse.

"Hey, no! That wasn't on you!" Claire said to her. "I give all the blame to Decibel."

Claire pulled her in to lay Archon's head on her shoulder. She let out all of her emotions at that moment.

"You were created as a weapon but reborn in the hospital that night. You are completely different than the monster they created you to be." Dartanian said. Claire heard him and immediately had a rogue thought. Tanner watched her as she stared distantly.

"Something wrong, Claire?" He asked.

"No... but I think I know what name to give her."

Archon's face lit up like the Christmas lights as she clasped her hands in front of her mouth in anticipation.

"Tanner and I were pregnant with three children last year instead of two," Claire said. Archon became concerned.

"One day, I got a sonogram, and somehow, the third baby was gone." She explained. "I don't believe that baby disappeared for nothing. I think it disappeared because you were created."

Claire and the woman both stared at one another in silence.

"I would have named her Alana." She said with tears rolling down her face. Archon cried with her.

"Any objections to naming her, Alana?" Claire asked her husband.

"Not one."

"I love it!" She squealed.

Claire looked at Tanner after seeing the utter joy on her face.

"Then it's settled," Dartanian said as he picked up the champagne glass in front of him and held it high. The two women lifted theirs as well. "To the newest member of the family, Alana McCallister." The glasses rang as they tapped one another, and tears flowed down Claire's face.

"What's wrong?" Alana asked.

"After so many lifetimes of being the Aether, I finally get to enjoy my life as a normal person!"

"I'm glad we were able to do so, my love," Dartanian said to her.

"Merry Christmas, you guys," Alana said.

"Merry Christmas."

If you are ready to dive into the Aether Universe, start with Book I & II of the infamous Series 0, Now on Amazon for .99 cents each!!! Merry Christmas and have a wondrous holiday!

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