This spec comes with the usual range of spoiler warnings, especially for Memnoch. It's utterly silly — you have been warned. Do not archive this story without permission.

'Tis the season to be silly

The door opened almost before the slim white finger touched the doorbell.

"It's you! Oh, you're all here — come on in!"

Louis stood in the hall, beaming. The hall was decked with boughs of holly. Also mistletoe, tinsel, blinking red, blue and green lights, a row of hollow glass Santas with candles inside, and a stuffed reindeer that had hopefully been a little less depressed-looking when it was alive. Louis wore black pants with ripped knees, a moth-eaten black sweatshirt, black socks with holes in the toes, and to add that special festive touch, had tied his hair back with a Christmassy red ribbon.

Marius strode in, regal in red velvet. "Louis, so nice of you to invite us! Love the decorations." He began to look around for somewhere to put his cloak.

"Hey, Louie boy!" Daniel bounced in. "Where's the party?"

"Here?" Louis suggested timidly.

Armand elbowed Daniel aside. "Hello, Louis."

Daniel growled. "Hey, why'd you do that?"

"So you'd end up under the mistletoe." Armand jumped on Daniel and they fell into a corner with squeals and smacking noises. Louis turned to greet the rest of the guests as Maharet, Mekare, Jesse, Gabrielle, Eric, Santino, Khayman and David filed in.

"Isn't there someone missing?"

"Oh no." Marius had draped his red cloak over the reindeer. Now he sighed and walked back to the door again. A moment later he was back, pushing Pandora in a wheelchair. "Sorry about that. I'll have to get an electric model. I left her in the mall once by mistake and she ended up modelling clothes in a GAP store."

"Oh no, too bad," Louis sympathized. "That's a bit too young for her, really."

Jesse twiddled one of the reindeer's horns, and the muzzle started to glow red. "Whoo, it's Rudolf!"

Louis frowned. "That's odd. Maybe it came with batteries included. Please, come into the living room, everyone. Armand and Daniel, why don't you just bring that mistletoe, okay?"

Maharet put her arm through Louis' and followed him into the flat, leaning down to whisper in his ear. "You're frowning, Louis dear. Is something wrong?"

"I'm, well, a bit worried about Lestat," Louis said.

"What's he done now?"

"Well, I find him talking to himself in the mirror all the time."

"And what does he say?" Marius asked, wheeling Pandora's chair over Mekare's foot in his eagerness to get involved in somebody else's problems.


"Nonono, that's not it," Louis waved his hand dismissively. "Mostly he says, 'Well, if it isn't the vampire Lestat.' I think it's scary. Who does he expect it to be, for heaven's sake?!"

"Sounds like perfectly normal behavior," Marius said. "For Lestat, that is. What does he say the rest of the time?"

"'Damn, but I'm gorgeous!'"

"Well then, nothing to worry about. You shouldn't worry so much, Louis, you don't have to, really."

"Yes, I do."

"You do?"

"Yes, it's part of the job description. That Rice woman conned me into signing the contract before I'd had the time to read all the fine print."

"Uuun nghgn ddnng nnnt!"


Louis looked at Mekare. "I think she's saying that if you don't move that wheelchair off her foot, you and your plastic blow-up doll are bonfire material."

"Oh! Ooops! Sorry!" Marius rushed the chair forward and slipped on the parquet floor. He fell on his shapely Roman derriere and the chair, with Pandora in it, sailed across the room and straight into the Christmas tree.

There was an outraged howl and a tall blond figure pushed through the crowd.

"Look what you're doing to the poor tree!"

"Oh lord, it's nature boy," Armand tore his lips away from Daniel's to mutter. "I thought you weren't inviting him."

"I didn't," Louis said helplessly as Mael kicked the wheelchair back across the room and cradled the pine in his arms. "Mael, watch out for the candles—"

"Ow! You're trying to kill me, right? And how do you think the poor tree feels! How would you like to have burning candles in your hair, you sadist?" Mael backed off still patting a branch comfortingly and saying "It'll be all right, come to daddy!"

Louis looked around helplessly. Pandora and her chair had hit the Armand/Daniel pretzel and they were all lying in a heap making funny noises. Most of the tinsel off the tree was now hanging around Mael's ears. Mekare was scolding Marius about her foot — at least, he thought that was what she was doing. Khayman was asking Jesse in a very loud voice who he was and why he was here, and there was still no sign of Lestat!

He backed away and headed for Lestat's bedroom and rapped on the door. "Are you in there?"

"Well, if it isn't — what?"

Louis opened the door. "The guests are all here! You have to — oh my God, what are you wearing?!"

"Snazzy, eh?" Lestat pranced in front of the mirror. "Especially the pumpkin head, I fancy."

"Lestat, this isn't Halloween! It's Christmas!"

"It is?" Lestat blinked. "I could've sworn it was Halloween just the other night. Isn't it funny how time seems to pass faster the older you get?"

"No." Louis crossed the room and lifted the pumpkin mask off Lestat's head. "Now you get dressed in some proper clothes and get out and talk to our guests at once, or I'll — I'll—"

"You'll what?" Lestat asked, clearly fascinated.

"I'll be severely annoyed, that's what!"

"Ooh, scary stuff." Lestat tore out of his costume and pranced across the room, pausing to admire himself in the mirror yet again. Then he vanished into the closet.

"And not one of those infernal Brooks Brothers suits again!" Louis yelled after him.

"Yadda, yadda, yadda. You're just jealous 'cause I look so good in them. I know I do, I read it in a book."

"You wrote the book!"

"So I know it's true." Lestat reappeared wearing a pair of red leather pants and a tight red cotton sweater. "Seasonal enough for you? I can put some tinsel in my hair too, then everyone will know what night it is. C'mon," he grabbed Louis' arm, "can't keep the guests waiting. Is Armand here?"

"Of course he is."

Lestat bounded into the living room and hugged Armand, smiling broadly. "Hiya doll! How's my favorite little charcoal briquette?"

"Fine. I was just telling Mael about your secret fantasies involving him and a grove of 500-year-old oak trees, hope you don't mind. I think he's planning a real special Christmas present for you."

"If you're going to sulk all night over one little typo, I'll lock you and Daniel in the kitchen. You can always amuse yourselves by stuffing the turkey."

Jesse crowed with laughter. "LeBrat! Come over here and give me a kiss!"

Louis cleared his throat pointedly. "Excuse me. If you'd all like to come into the kitchen you can get your own drinks."

"Louis, I hate Bloody Marys," Maharet said firmly.

"What's a Bloody Mary?" Khayman asked. Louis gripped Khayman's sleeve and steered him out into the kitchen where a large pot stood on the stove. He filled a mug and handed it to the ancient one, who took a tentative sip and broke out into a wide grin.


"It's hot wine with spices and sugar and blood and vodka," Louis explained. "It's something they do in Scandinavia."

Khayman nodded with an air of experience. "Oh yes. Very bloodthirsty folks, those Vikings. I remember once back in, oh, 803 it must have been—"

Louis hung a kitchen towel over Khayman's head. It worked every time, just like with parrots.

Everyone filled a mug and filed back into the living room. Lestat sprawled on the couch and pulled Jesse down on his lap; Mael sat under the tree. Mekare downed her glögg in one gulp and headed out to the kitchen for more. "What do we do now?" Gabrielle asked.

"I thought we could sing some carols," Louis said.

"Yes!" Lestat waved his mug enthusiastically. "Being the only rock star present, I'll lead the singing — on a beat of four — y'all ready?"

He tapped the table vigorously and on the count of four burst out singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". At the same time Jesse began to sing "Ding Dong Merrily On High," hitting one note in four while making it sound like a cookie commercial, Marius and David broke into "Good King Wenceslas" and Louis attempted to remember the words to "Silent Night". Mael, slightly bewildered, clung to the tree and started a druidic chant, and Mekare, who was well into her second mug and feeling no pain, grunted her approval and tried to stamp her feet in time with it all.

Armand and Daniel, still glued together at the lips, quickly put their hands over each other's ears.

Louis closed his eyes in despair. They're not doing it on purpose, he reminded himself. They're just not used to celebrating Christmas, that's all. I'm sure they're enjoying it, really. He heard a thud and a scream, and the singing stopped. I'm sure if I just open my eyes nice and slow, that won't have been the Christmas tree falling on Mael, or Mael falling on Pandora, or Armand and Daniel falling off the couch.

His eyelids flew open. Mael and the Christmas tree had fallen on Pandora, and her hair had caught fire. Louis quickly closed his eyes again, but he could still hear.

"Marius, do something!"

"Do something yourself, brat prince! I can't be helping you out of scrapes all the time."

"But I didn't do this!"

"Mekare, don't pour the glögg in your mug on the fire!"


Something fell in Louis' lap and he felt obliged to look up. Lestat was smothering the fire with Louis' favorite rug. Mekare was standing next to the tree with a guilty expression on her face; what was left of the contents of her mug was soaking Louis' jeans. And Pandora was running into the kitchen, trailing fire like a comet. He heard the sound of running water and decided it was the duty of a good host to go after her. Rising from the couch, he stumbled on Armand and Daniel, who were lying on the floor in a clinch, completely oblivious to everything around them.

Louis found Pandora with her head under the tap. Hearing his footsteps she looked up and glared at him. "Some host you are. And why did you invite that boring Druid?"

"I didn't," Louis said vehemently. "He just turns up anyway, all the time. You wouldn't believe the trouble we had with the maypole. Hey! You're talking!"

"I never realized you had this uncanny talent for pointing out the obvious. Having your hair set on fire isn't the best way to wake up, so you'd better walk softly around me. Lend me some clothes, okay?"

"S-sure," Louis stammered. "Want some glögg?"

Pandora sniffed at it, then scooped up a generous mugful of the steaming brew. "Mmm." She downed it all in one long swallow and got herself some more. "Now that was good." She came closer and pinched his butt playfully. "So, those clothes? Let's go play in your closet and you can show me what you've got."

Louis nervously let her walk ahead back into the living room, where Lestat had righted the poor Christmas tree and Mael was cuddling it and kissing it to make everything better. Maharet had taken Mekare's mug away and was chatting with enforced politeness to Marius, who spun around like a top when he saw Pandora.

"Pandora! My darling!!"

"One out of two ain't bad, but it ain't good," she said and swept past him. Then she caught sight of Armand and Daniel on the floor and grinned broadly. "Well, isn't this nice! Hey boys, mind if I join you?" She turned her head and smiled at Gabrielle. "What do you say?"

Gabrielle smiled back. "They're too short. I like the way your hair looks now, by the way. I'm sure the singed look is the coming thing. Ask Armand."

"Why don't you come with me and find me some new clothes," Pandora said. "And we can find some for you, too. You look like a secret agent in a boring thriller. C'mon!" She took Gabrielle's hand and they ran from the room.

"So!" Lestat looked around brightly. "Isn't this nice!"

"Isn't what nice?" Louis asked sourly.

"The way everyone looks at me when I speak. I really like that."


Louis looked around the room again. There was David over by the book shelf, reading. Well, he was an easy guest, anyway. But where were Eric and Santino? They weren't in the room! He'd have to go look for them, but first, something to occupy the rest of the guests. Drinking glögg hadn't worked, singing carols hadn't worked; what else did people do at Christmas?

"We could play charades," he suggested.

"Yes!" Lestat took to the idea at once. "We'll mime book titles! I'll start!" He stepped out to the middle of the floor and stood there smirking expectantly.

"Well, when are you going to start?" Jesse asked from the couch.

"I've already started! C'mon, what do you think I am?" Again, Lestat stood stock still in the same silly pose.

"Dostoyevski's 'The Idiot'," Louis muttered under his breath.

"I heard that!"

"You're The Vampire Lestat," Jesse said and leaned back and put her feet on Armand's back under the mistaken impression that he and Daniel were a footstool. "We all know that. Anyway, that's not how you play charades really, come here and I'll teach you."

Leaving the game in Jesse's capable hands, Louis set off to search the house for Eric and Santino. The kitchen was empty, though he had to rescue the glögg; someone had turned up the heat under it, and what remained was boiling and turning brown. There wasn't a trace of them in the hall, where the reindeer's nose kept blinking on and off. Passing Lestat's bedroom, he heard laughter and the sound of people moving around, but since neither Eric nor Santino were naturals at soprano giggles, he deduced that Pandora and Gabrielle were making fun of Lestat's wardrobe.

He hurried on and finally ran the two to earth in his own study, where Santino was just putting the phone back on the hook. Louis cleared his throat and they spun around and looked at him.

"Oh!" Santino looked embarrassed. "I — I hope you don't mind that we used your phone."

"I hope so, too," Louis said. "Who did you call?"

"Well, we realized it's Chistmas and no one's gotten any Christmas presents," Eric said with a happy drunken grin. "So we deshi-desh-decided to order some." He looked at his watch. "They'll be here real soon."

Louis looked apprehensively at Santino. "What on earth..."

"You'll see," Santino said reassuringly and put his hand on Louis' arm and steered him back towards the living room. When they went in they saw Mekare miming "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", making creative use of Marius and a banana peel.

"She's a natural," Eric said.

"Well, she's had a lot of time to practise," Santino said. "If you'd spent five millennia without a tongue you'd probably knock the stuffing out of every street mime in the world, too."

"I do that anyway. And they don't even taste good."

Jesse, cheering Mekare on, stamped her foot down a little too hard on Daniel and heard a murmured "Armand, you're hurting me. Do it again..." from beneath her feet. She looked up at Louis who was standing behind her.

"You think I should do it again?"

Louis shook his head. "I want 'em to keep their clothes on."

Jesse looked down. "Well, it may already be too late for that."

The doorbell rang. He looked around. "I thought everyone was here already!"

Jesse smacked his rump. "Well, go see who it is!"

Protecting his derrière with both hands, Louis scurried out into the hall. He flung the door open and saw a short man wearing a funny hat, who held out a clipboard towards him. "Sign here."

"What for?"

"Acknowledgement of delivery," the man said impatiently.

"What delivery? I didn't order anything." A hideous suspicion struck him. "Is it in the name of Lestat de Lioncourt?"

"Nope. Now just sign here."

"What am I signing for?" Louis wailed, feeling like Josef K.

"Them," the man said laconically and pointed backwards with his thumb. Louis looked over the man's shoulder and recoiled in horror.

"No, please. Take them back!"

"I can't." The man gripped Louis' hand and traced an unreadable signature on the receipt. He touched his cap, said "Thanks!" and hastily vanished into the night. Louis was left staring at ten muscular young men wearing gold lamé g-strings and ten curvaceous young women draped in about two feathers and five sequins each.

At some invisible signal they began to whoop and cheer and rushed forward, sweeping him along into the house. All of them tumbled into the living room where they formed a line with the flustered Louis in the middle and began to do the cancan. Spangles and sequins flashed, and Louis wailed, "Get me out of here! I think I've strained a thigh muscle!"

The music shook the house. Over at the stereo Santino and Eric whistled and shouted. "Way to go, Louie!"

Pandora and Gabrielle entered the room dressed in some remnants from Lestat's time as a rock star that Louis had hoped never to see again. Seeing the dancing mortals, they looked at each other and spoke at the same time. Louis couldn't hear them over the music, but he could lip-read. "Yum yum!"

When the dance was over Santino turned the music down. "Everyone! This is a Christmas present from me and Eric — have fun!"

"Well, well," Pandora said, strolling up and snapping the elastic on the nearest young man's g-string. "So, tell me about yourself, darling! What blood type are you?"

Louis watched in amazement as every vampire in the room turned their attention to the delectable mortals and grabbed one or two. He was still trying to catch his breath and straighten his clothes from the cancan when a feather tickled his nose and he found himself staring into a pair or brown eyes. "Hello, handsome. Let's sit right here in front of the fire and get comfortable, what do you say?"


"Oh, I just love shy men." She tugged him down with a firm grip, wound around him like a boa and stuck her tongue in his ear. Louis swallowed convulsively. Looking up he saw that Khayman had fought his way out of the kitchen towel and was already nibbling on someone's neck. Lestat had one arm round a young man and one round a young woman and was telling them stories that all began 'when I was a rock star' while they smothered their yawns behind glasses of wine. Pandora, Gabrielle and some of the Christmas presents were getting together a conga line. And David, well, David was still reading, but now he was reading the Kama Sutra.

Wait a minute, Louis thought, I didn't know we had a copy of the Kama Sutra! It was probably part of the package. Order twenty dancers, get one book free.

"Do you like it when I do this?" the young woman asked. Louis went pink. "And this?" He turned from pink to scarlet. The conga line shuffled past and accidentally kicked over the fire irons. "Ooops, I think the catch on my bikini top came undone." The dancer wiggled suggestively against him. "Wanna look?"

The door bell rang again. Louis bounded to his feet with a sigh of relief. The dancer pouted and called after him, "Don't forget to come back!"

He flung the door open and looked out. What he saw was a big fat man in a red suit carrying a large sack. "Ho ho ho!"

"Ho ho, yourself," Louis said politely. "Are you lost?"

"I hope not," the fat man said, stroking his luxurious white beard. "Isn't this the residence of Lestat de Lioncourt and Louis de Point du Lac?"

"Um, yes, but—"

"Good!" The man shouldered him aside and walked in. "Then I'm in the right place. Ho ho ho."

"Ho ho," Louis agreed. "Look, I don't remember inviting you."

The man turned around and poked Louis' chest with his fingers. "No complaints, okay? I do not make chimney deliveries when there's an open fire. You wouldn't believe the premiums on my fire insurance. Just this beard is so flammable... Anyway, ho ho ho and all that."

He walked into the living room and Louis scurried after him nervously. "Ho ho, I mean, excuse me, are you going to—"

"Having a bit of a party, I see!" The man stroked his beard again. "Well, well. I may as well make a personal delivery. Don't often take the time for it, but seeing as everyone is here I might as well. Can you get them to shut up?"

"No," Louis said honestly.

"Then I'll just have to do my best. HO HO HO!!!"

The windows shook in their frames and all the ornaments that were left fell out of the tree. Everyone in the room fell silent, and in some cases, snapped to attention. David lowered the Kama Sutra and his left leg, and tried to turn his head the right way around again. Armand and Daniel, who were by now wearing a g-string and some feathers respectively, even managed to sit up. Khayman dropped his dancer and looked embarrassed.

"It's Santa!" Jesse squealed.

"That's right," the fat man in red beamed. "Santa Claus Surveillance and Delivery, Inc. Who's been a good vampire this year, then?"

"Me!" Lestat instantly said. "I'm really bad at being good, I mean good at being bad!"

Santa peered at him "That would be Lestat, yes?" He set the sack down, untied the string and began to rummage around, finally pulling out a box tied with a red ribbon. "This one's for you. Merry Christmas!"

"Thank you!" Lestat immediately tore it open and plucked out a mirror. He looked at himself for a moment, then grinned. "Well, if it isn't the Vampire Lestat! Mirror, mirror in my hand, who's the fairest in the land?"

"Louis," the mirror said promptly.

"What?" Lestat shook it. "Hey! Hey mister, Santa, there's something wrong with this one!"

"Ho ho ho!" Santa rumbled menacingly. "You takes what you gets, okay? Now I have a present for one Louis de Point du Lac — that's you, right? Here you go. Merry Christmas."

Louis untied the string and ripped the paper away, revealing a slim paperback. Looking more closely at it he saw that it was entitled "Novel-Writing Without Tears".

"Er, thank you."

He looked over at Lestat, who was making faces at himself in the mirror, and wondered whether there had been some kind of mix-up, but decided not to try to straighten it out. Instead, he made his mind up that he was going to use this present.

Khayman got a hearing aid with an instruction leaflet in hieroglyphics. Maharet got an appointment book thick as two phone directories, so she could write down the birthday of every single member of the Great Family. Eric and Santino got the bill for the twenty dancers. Gabrielle got a cellular phone. She looked thoughtfully at it.

"Don't forget to use it," Lestat said. "Better yet, give me your number and I'll call you."

"Not too often," Gabrielle said. "I'm a grown person, I have my own life!"

"Once a week? Hey, mom, I just want to make sure that you're okay, eating regularly and all that. I know you think you're old enough to make your own decisions, but to me you'll always be my little fledgling."

"What do you want me to do, call every half hour and assure you that I still love you?"

"That'd be perfect!" Lestat beamed.

Santa Claus rummaged in his sack again. "And here are presents for one Daniel Molloy, and one Armand. How come half of you don't have surnames?"

"I'm saving up for it," Armand said. "I already have six coupons. Which one's for me?"

"Here you go — and you — ho ho ho and merry Christmas."

"Ho ho," Daniel chuckled and fell back onto the couch, tearing into his present. Then he stopped.

Jesse elbowed him. "What did you get?"

"Oh, nothing."

"Show us!" She grabbed the box away from him as Daniel, blushing, tried to get it back. "Ooh look, handcuffs! And a whip! And a black leather harness, very stylish, Danny darling. Don't you agree, Armand?"

"Very," Armand agreed, pokerfaced, and stuffed his one year's subscription to Playgirl behind a pillow before anyone could see it.

Mael was dragged out from behind the Christmas tree and presented with a bonsai and a roll of duct tape. Mekare got a box of heart- and brain-shaped chocolates. Marius got a box of crayons and a vintage painting-by-numbers book with pictures of weeping harlequins. Jesse received a handy carbon-dating pocket kit. David got next year's catalog from the Body Shop. Finally, after presenting Pandora with a jumbo-sized box of Prozac, Santa tied the sack together again and straightened up.

"Well, that's it," he said, "ho ho ho, I'm off."

"I'll walk you to the door," Louis said. They went out into the hall.

"Nice place," Santa said appreciatively. "I really like the decor, it's almost like home. Oh, I believe this one's mine." He patted the reindeer. "C'mon, Rudolf, quit sneezing sawdust. It's time to work."

The reindeer snorted, and wiggled out from under Marius' cloak. It padded at Santa's heels like a huge dog, and paused in the doorway to turn its head and wink at Louis. Then they both disappeared into the night and only a distant "Ho ho ho" could be heard, and then the sound of bells, and then silence.

Louis shook his head, bewildered. Then he turned around and went back to his friends in the living room. The party was in full swing again. Jesse and Gabrielle were nibbling at opposite ends of a mortal. Khayman was fiddling with his hearing aid, trying to get it to pick up Radio Luxemburg. Down on the floor Armand and Daniel were trying out Daniel's presents with the enthusiastic aid of a couple of dancers. And Mekare had apparently found Lestat's secret stash of cognac.

Maybe, Louis reflected, maybe it had been a mistake to censor the Vampire Chronicles quite so heavily. To be sure, blood and moral anguish made for good stories, but there were other best-selling topics, too. Okay, he'd signed a contract, but what were lawyers for? Maybe it was time to rethink who was going to call whom a blood-sucker. He stood for a while quietly taking notes, as the Christmas tree shook alarmingly, Lestat began to sing a medley of his own greatest hits while looking at himself in the mirror, Eric went down for the third time behind the couch at the bottom of a heap of dancers, looking rather happy about it, and Mekare found a step-ladder and began to paint the Legend of the Twins across the ceiling with Pandora's lipstick.

When Santino put on a record of Barry Manilow singing Christmas carols just to drown out Lestat, and Mekare fell on top of Marius, who was being carbon-dated by Jesse in some rather intimate places, Louis decided that he'd seen enough. He retired to his study and locked the door. Then he settled down, picked up a pen and began to write.

"Sex, Drugs and Violence among the Undead, or, My life as a Vampire..."

"Ooh, that sounds like fun," a voice cooed in his ear. Louis looked up in horror to see the dancer he'd escaped from earlier. She slowly began to pull his shirt open. "I can help you with your research..."

"That's not neces-mmmf!"

"C'mon, live a little! You have to know what you're talking about." She dragged him down on the floor and dove for his zipper. "Merry Christmas!"

"Ho ho ho," Louis agreed.

* * *

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