Chapter 2: We Need A Little Christmas
I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder
The Peanuts Christmas. That thing had to be 900 years old but there was something so arresting about the stilted, choppy voiceovers and crappy animation. Something so simple about it. So pure.
Jet sighed for a moment in deep thought, letting the magic of the Snoopy Dance envelop his tired brain. He was quickly jerked out of his trance, however, when he heard a collective and hearty chorus of profanity explode from the lounge. His roommates were carrying on about something. He couldn't even tell what. All of their voices blended together into a shrill hum. He leaned back out of his room to see if they were doing any sort of serious damage.
The girls were chasing the dog, which had a hot dog in his mouth. The last hot dog, if Jet had remembered correctly. He thought he remembered someone shot gun it. "Shot gun" was the closest thing to order they had on this ship. It was really the only indisputable law that governed the crew, and there were all sorts of complex collieries to it that Jet himself did not always understand. He did not shot gun things, since it was understood he had a right to everything. It seemed Ein also excused himself from the reign of the shot gun, which obviously upset his crew. A bit of their world had just crumbled beneath them. They chased the dog angrily around the lounge, not teaming up against him exactly but competing separately amongst themselves while Spike screamed at them to sit down and shut up. It seemed the initial shot gun was nulled on account of dog. It also didn't seem to bother them that the hot dog was already in the canine's mouth.
His crew. Fighting over food with a dog. He looked back to the TV screen to see all of those sweet, pumpkin-headed children singing Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, then looked back to see Ed dive out of the way of a torpedoed paperback. Spike's paperback. Though Faye seemed to throw it without his permission which was yet another thing to be yelling over. Looking back and forth between the television and his dismal reality was about as jarring as comparing a children's choir to The Lord of the Flies. This was his Christmas.
This was sick.
Human beings celebrated Christmas. It had pretty much gotten to the point that all human beings celebrated Christmas, whether they acknowledged the holiday's namesake or not. The whole birth of the Savior thing had been whittled down to "Family and Togetherness," which , let's face it, is an idea everyone could stand behind. And the retail industry could certainly stand behind it. So while (almost) all the human beings of the world were getting ready to gather their loved ones and eat poultry, his crew was clawing at each other to pry a hot dog out of a Welsh Corgi's mouth. They weren't human beings. They were animals. The creepy, ruthless kind that eat their own young. Well, Jet was tired of living his life like an on going National Geographic special. He was a human being, dammit. He jumped up out of his chair and walked right by the small Circus Maximus that was still in progress, grabbed his wallet out of his hiding spot, threw on his jacket and left the ship. He was having a Christmas whether his retarded roommates cooperated or not.
Jet took a few steps back as he looked the tree over. He had never gone tree shopping before but he had an idea. "Can I help you?" the proprietor asked eagerly.
"Uh...yeah. I was looking for something in a mid-priced pine, streamlined, high mileage. I'm gonna be taking this thing all the way back to Ganymede with me and I don't want it crap out on the way. Something practical but with a little style." Jet nodded as he spoke, trying to picture his dream tree in his mind.
"I think I have just the thing," the storeowner smiled as he took him over to a thinner but relatively full tree in the back of the lot. "We also carry it with a spoiler," he joked, but Jet was already preoccupied.
The tree as it was would not fit in the Bebop, which meant it was up to him to shape it. He circled the thing tentatively, trying to feel it out. There were certain trees in this world that were happy as they were and there were certain ones with a greater tree inside, itching to come out. Ones with artistic little flourishes in the branches and leaves that came to carefully manicured points. He decided that this was such a tree. "I'll take it," he grinned.
His partners did not even notice him shove the tree into the ship. They didn't really notice him arranging it in several different corners, looking for the perfect spot. They barely flinched when a branch got bent in the doorway and then snapped back, flinging a pinecone into Ein's dish. Big Shot was on, and all three of them were absolutely engrossed. Finally, Spike leaned his head lazily over the back of the couch as he spotted Jet with his new project. "Whatcha got there, Jet?" he said through a yawn. The girls both whipped their heads around in interest.
"It's a tree," Jet said flatly.
"I gathered as much," Spike smirked, rolling over on the couch so that he was on his stomach, his torso dangling over the back limply. "Why do you have it?"
Jet lowered his shears in exasperation. He really assumed this was a conclusion they could have leapt to on their own. "It's Christmas," he grumbled, going back to work on the touch ups. "This is what is known as a Christmas tree."
Faye and Ed looked at each other. "I didn't think we were Christmas-y type people," Faye mused.
"No, you are not Christmas-y people," Jet agreed whole-heartedly. "I, however, am. And considering I bought the tree with my money and decided to put it on my ship, I don't see why there needs to be anymore discussion about it."
The remaining Bebop crew just looked on in silence. "What's Jet gonna put on it?" Ed said finally.
"What do you mean?"
"A tree's gotta have stuff," she pointed out. "Doodads, watchamacallits, knickknacks, DOOHICKEYS!" she exclaimed with growing enthusiasm.
"Thingamajigs, even," Spike agreed with a warm sort of amusement. Jet's latest feeble grab for normalcy was striking him as funny.
Jet scratched his head. "I dunno. I haven't gotten that far."
Had Jet been more progressive, he would have realized that the First Annual Bebop Christmas Tree was actually a masterpiece in pop art. As it was, he thought it looked like utter crap. But it had temporarily caused his crew to behave in a sort of jovial way, which was enough to appease him for the time being.
The tree itself was adorned with just about anything they could dig up. Dog food cans, cigarette cartons, shot glasses, data disks, a tie, Faye's bra, Spike's boxer's, Ein's collar, Ed's goggles, a sock, a fork, a Raman noodle container, chop sticks, Styrofoam cups, a sauce pan lid, a Bic lighter, twine, and at the very top, teetering precariously on the highest branch, was a roll of toilet paper. Ed drew a star on the front of it with Faye's lipstick.
Everyone sort of stared at it strangely when it was completed, not knowing exactly what to say. The truth was...it was sort of sweet. It was essentially their lives splattered on a bit of shrubbery. There was no denying it was a sad, pathetic life. But something about it hanging on a Christmas tree made it look so damn merry. It was weird. And so the crew, as they usually did when faced with issues of emotional significance, shrugged and went to bed.
"So what is all this?" Spike asked his partner later on the couch. Neither one found they could sleep that night, which in itself wasn't unusual.
Spike gestured to their now slightly lop-sided tree with his foot. "The sudden interest in decking the halls? I've been your partner for three years now, and this is the first time you ever did anything like this. Are you like...wigging out?"
Jet snorted a bit. "Putting up a Christmas tree means I'm wigging out?"
Spike smiled. "Around here...it's a possibility."
"I'm not wigging out. I'm just getting old. And I'm starting to get a bit tired of living like a college kid. So I was thinking, Christmas is in four days."
"I know when Christmas is, Jet."
"Just checking. I wanna have like a real dinner. One with meat and where people actually sit down. And maybe like...plates."
"You mean no more crowding the pot like pigs at the trough?" Spike stretched out.
"Just for one night, you know? I just wanna...I dunno. Do something normal."
Spike blew a puff of smoke up at the ceiling. "So one proper meal for the sake of your sanity," he weighed it out in his mind. "It sounds fair."
"Then it's settled. We are gonna celebrate peace, love and togetherness, even if I have to kill every single one of you to do it."