The Replacements, Part Eight: Holiday

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“So, how’s Karen doing?” Amber smiled faintly, cupping the mug of hot chocolate that Nadia placed in front of her appreciatively.

“She’s pretty worked up over the idea that she’s losing the team, but she’ll be fine.” Lucky shook his head, taking a sip of hot chocolate, then quickly gasped and brushed air in front of his mouth. “Ah! Hot!”

“I’m sorry, you didn’t say you wanted ‘cold’ chocolate.” Nadia grinned, passing mugs to ‘Wave and Danielle. “Ash, you don’t really like hot water, do you?”

“No. But the effort is appreciated.” The small potted plant in the corner of the room winked a leafy eye at Nadia.

Meanwhile, Amber was sitting back with a nostalgic smile. “It is a little weird though, isn’t it? Strategos, La Brea, and Malleus all working in the same town again.”

“You knew them?” Nadia sat back in her chair, blowing her hot chocolate, then reached for a bag of miniature marshmallows. Carefully and deliberately, she took a handful of them and sprinkled them into the drink one at a time.

“Oh, yeah. La Brea, Strategos and I were a team coming out of college, and Lucky used to team with Malleus.” Amber shook her head. “Things didn’t work out. Karen’s a good friend, but she and I… clash.”

“That’s putting it mildly.” Lucky grinned. “Your arguments beat you more than we did.” When Amber started to mock-glare, he raised his hands defensively and changed the subject. “Anyway, the Milwaukee Trio was on the verge of breakup when I switched sides. Amber decided she’d rather keep me on the straight and narrow and move home, instead of hanging around and causing trouble. La Brea did the same thing, more or less.” He shook his head thoughtfully. “Never kept in touch the way I should have. And Malleus was pretty pissed, so it’s probably just as well I didn’t stick around Milwaukee this time around.”

“Yeah, he’s got a couple of nemeses down there already, no sense you butting in.” Wave smiled faintly.

Nadia raised an eyebrow. “Is that how you pluralize nemesis?”

“How would you do it, smart girl?”

“I dunno. Nemesises. Nemesodes?”

“Nemesissies.” Danielle’s offer was met with a volley of marshmallows, and she covered her face as she ducked down away from it. “Uncle! Uncle! I’m sorry!”

“You should be. That was awful.” Wave laughed. “I don’t know, I never took English.”

“Nemeses would be the proper usage, although ‘Nemesi’ is also considered acceptable.”

Everyone turned to look at Ash. Nadia pouted. “No fair. You have the internet in your head.”

“All is fair in love and minor arguments.” The potted plant shrugged its leaves.

“Alright, then, we have a resolution. Speaking of nemeses, did I miss anything fun while I was away?” Testing the hot chocolate, and finding it acceptable, Lucky took a deep drink before adding a few more marshmallows.

Amber looked significantly out the window. “Other than about four feet of snow?”

“Other than that.”

Amber considered. “Doctor Ecchs tried to turn the downtown into a tropical getaway and then charge everyone to visit.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“It was warm, at least. But no, nothing special.” Amber said. “Everyone’s quiet for the holidays again.”

“Nice. Here’s to the holidays.” The mugs clinked together, and the friends settled back in front of the fire. Outside, snow settled over Patchwork City, the skyline, for a change, quiet and peaceful.

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