• Published 7th Aug 2018
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The Bug In The Basement - Skijarama

A changeling egg is left in the human world by its mother in a last-ditch effort to save it.

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Chapter 17: Boxes Under A Tree

One Month Later.

Eventide looked on silently from his place at the bottom of the basement stairs, watching Beebee sleep. The content smile on the little guy’s face was enough to make Eventide hesitate. He really didn’t want to disturb such a peaceful rest; Beebee had woken up crying more frequently than usual ever since his sickness, and only last night had he managed to go the whole night without suddenly waking up with tears in his eyes.

Beebee’s sickness had passed in its entirety about two weeks after catching it. It had been persistent, that was for sure. The worst of it had gone by the start of the second day, but there had been a lingering cough and physical weakness that went well beyond the bug’s usual frailty. Eventide had made sure he got plenty of bed rest and capitalized on his immobile nature as well as he could. He would bring the storybooks down and read to Beebee, sometimes for hours at a time to keep the little guy in a good mood.

And now he was sleeping so soundly, it was almost enough to break Eventide’s heart. Did he really have to do this…?

But, alas, there were things that needed to be done today. It was morning, just a few minutes short of ten o’clock when Beebee was supposed to usually wake up. Eventide had been up for hours already to get things prepared, and was still trying to shake off his own drowsiness. Still, he had a plan, and he wasn’t about to back out now. It was too late, anyway, and he had to make sure it all went perfectly.

Eventide’s thoughts were torn away from his day so far when, finally, his phone began to vibrate in his pocket, telling him that it was time. So, with a warm smile, he sidled up to the bed and reached down to give Beebee a gentle shake. “Hey, Bee, time to wake up,” he called gently, while Beebee groaned in defiance and buried his face deeper into the pillow.

“Daaaadddyyyyy…” The bug whined pitifully when his father didn’t let up, turning a groggy and annoyed pout on him. “I don’t wanna. Five more minutes?”

Eventide rolled his eyes in amusement. “Oh, quit your complaining. I got a surprise for you,” he said with a happy wink. “And no, it’s not more snow.”

Beebee looked at him for a few moments, his eyes narrowing. Eventide could almost hear the tiny cogs turning in his brain, trying to figure out what was going on. “What kind of surprise?” Beebee finally asked while sitting up and rubbing his hooves into his eyes.

Eventide just gave a cheeky little grin and backed away from the bed. “Just come upstairs to the living room. You’ll see… and I promise, you’ll love it~!” he called in a sing-song voice before disappearing up the stairs, leaving the door open behind him. After a few moments of yawning and stretching, Beebee did as instructed. He flew up the steps with his wings buzzing away on his back, rather miffed that his sleep had been disturbed. Granted, he was used to getting up at around this time, but he wasn’t used to his dad waking him up personally. Usually, he was woken up by his voice over the baby monitor, and that was it.

It became apparent why today was different when he came to the top of the stairs and buzzed out into the living room. His wings stiffened, and he fell to his hooves on the floor, looking on with wide eyes and a hanging jaw. In the middle of the living room was a large, lush green tree, covered from top to bottom in spherical ornaments of several bright and vivid colors, namely red and blue. Joining those spheres was a coiling wire of some sort, lit up with green, white, and red bulbs, ascending the tree in a spiral shape. Under the tree itself, was a circular rug colored in green and red, on top of which, six boxes of varying sizes could be seen, all wrapped in multi-colored paper.

Eventide and Buddha both sat under the tree, the former watching Beebee expectantly while the latter busied herself with shoving her nose against one of the boxes and sniffing at it. After a while, Eventide made a beckoning gesture. “Well, Beebee? What do you think?” he asked, finally snapping Beebee out of his stunned trance.

“Uh…” Beebee slowly walked forwards, then sat on his haunches a few feet away to look up at the tree in awe and wonder. “It’s pretty, but… Why is there a tree in the house?”

Eventide chuckled and gave said tree a shake with his hand, making the decorations jingle and the leaves rustle. “It’s a Christmas tree. I would have put it up sooner, but, well…” he flashed Beebee a sideways grin. “I wanted your first Christmas to be a surprise.”

Beebee looked at Eventide in confusion. “Chwis… Chwisa… Chrismu…” he tried several times to say the unfamiliar word. “Christmas?” he finally managed, looking at Eventide hopefully.

“That’s right, you got it.”

“Yay!” Beebee clapped his hooves together a couple of times before looking at the boxes, then the tree, then at Eventide again. His smile faded, and he tilted his head. “What’s Christmas?” he asked, clearly bewildered.

Eventide looked down at the boxes, his smile growing. “It’s a holiday. Once a year, people all over the world give their family and closest friends gifts and presents to celebrate kindness and generosity. It’s all about giving to others. It also tends to come with a lot of chocolate, special songs, and time with the people we care about the most,” he explained before picking up one of the boxes, a wry smirk on his face. “And every Christmas Eve, or the day before Christmas, while children are asleep, Santa Claus himself comes down on a magic sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, to give presents of his own to all of the good kids.”

“Santa Claus?” Beebee asked, his voice filled with fascination and childish wonder. He rose to his hooves and started to trot towards the boxes again. “Who’s that?”

“He’s a wonderful man with a heart of gold who lives in a workshop at the north pole, with his wife and an assortment of elves to help him out. As I said, he brings toys to all the good kids on Christmas Eve, leaving them under the Christmas tree for them to find and open in the morning,” Eventide explained before leaning down towards Beebee, who was now sitting right next to him. “But you’d better not be naughty because he gives coal to the bad kids.”

Beebee gasped quietly, his hooves flying up to his mouth and covering it. “But that’s mean!” he squeaked out in protest.

Eventide grinned, “Well, then don’t be mean. Now, then…” he looked at the box in his hand, then lowered it down towards Beebee. “I found this under the tree… and look!” he pointed at some writing on the top that Beebee hadn’t noticed.

To: The Basement Bug.
From: Santa Claus.

“It’s for you!” Eventide said excitedly before putting the box down in front of Beebee, whose eyes were now as wide as dinner plates and shimmering with excitement. “You’ve been good, right?”

“Yes, yes, I’ve been good!” Beebee replied hastily while putting his hooves on the box. “Can I open it? Can I, can I? Can I?!”

Eventide nodded happily and put a hand on Beebee’s back. “Sure, go right ahead.”

With a happy chirp and purr coming from his throat, Beebee nodded and scrutinized his present for a few moments, trying to find a lid or something he could pull on. When nothing presented itself, he pouted and looked up at Eventide with an adorably helpless expression. “Daddy, where’s the lid?” he whined pitifully.

“Oh, you tear the paper off,” Eventide explained simply while reaching one of his hands down. “Here, let me get you started…” with one swift motion, he pulled a large chunk of the paper away from the box, revealing what was underneath.

Beebee grasped the concept immediately and set to work tearing the remaining paper off with his teeth. When at last it was all torn away, he looked at what had been concealed. It was a nicely made cardboard box, the lid already flapping open. Inside the box was an assortment of various pieces of colored paper. Beebee set about pulling the paper away, trying to find his gift at the bottom, all while Eventide looked over his shoulder. “What is it, Bee? What did Santa get you?”

“It’s a…” Beebee’s muzzle scrunched when, at last, he beheld the present. He studied it for a few moments, trying to find the right word to describe it. He ran a hoof over the soft item within before it clicked into place in his mind. “It’s a coat! I think,” he exclaimed before pulling out the item in question. Sure enough, in his hooves was a vibrant blue coat with a furry inner lining and a thick hood. What was shocking, though, was the fact that it looked like it fit him perfectly. There were even holes for the wings!

Eventide’s smile grew when he saw the jubilant look on Beebee’s face. “It is a coat! And it looks like it fits you, too!” He then looked down into the box and raised an eyebrow. “Oh, look, Santa left you a note, too,” he said while reaching in and pulling out the slip of paper. Beebee knew that look, and immediately put down his coat, sat down on his haunches, and waited for Eventide to start reading.

“Okay, let’s see,” Eventide murmured before clearing his throat. When he began reading again, he made his voice sound significantly deeper and more energetic than normal, giving Beebee the impression of a delightfully jolly man. “Merry Christmas to Eventide Oath’s Son, the Basement Bug: Beebee! I know you can’t read yet, but I’m sure your daddy will be happy to read this to you,” Eventide paused and nodded. “He’s not wrong, you know.”

“Keep going, keep going!” Beebee exclaimed with his grin growing. “What does Santa say?!”

Barely containing his chuckles, Eventide continued. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you recently became sick in bed with a high fever and that you do not like the snow very much. I am so sorry you had to go through something like that, and I do hate hearing about children being cold. So I decided I would help you solve one of those problems with my present to you this Christmas. I made this coat myself; every single thread, stitch, and tuft of fluff was put together with the greatest of care to make sure you don’t have to be cold if you ever go out into the snow again.

“I also put some chocolate into your stocking on the wall. I know you don’t eat food like your daddy does, but I encourage you to at least try it. You might find it tastes delicious. I know I always enjoy a good bit of chocolate in my cookies after a long night delivering presents! Ho, ho, ho!”

Beebee tilted his head at the odd exclamation but did not interrupt.

“Now, then! I must get back to my rounds, as there are many more nice children all over the world who need to have their presents delivered! Be a good boy, Beebee, and have a very merry Christmas! Sincerely yours, Santa Claus.”

Eventide set the letter down and watched Beebee for a moment, curious. The little guy seemed to be processing, his mouth wide open and his eyes glistening. “Woah… he’s nice.”

Eventide burst out laughing at that. “Heh, yeah he is! Now, why don’t you put on that coat and see how it fits, eh?” he suggested cheerfully, scooting a little closer. “I’ll help you if you need it.”

For the next few minutes, Eventide and Beebee worked together to fit him into his new coat. It was, perhaps, a little tight over the wings, but the expertly placed holes had made that a relatively small issue. Once it was on all the way, Beebee looked significantly warmer than normal, and the way his face lit up made it clear he enjoyed it.

Still, Eventide had to ask. “Do you like it?”

“I love it!” Beebee replied enthusiastically, walking in circles a few times while looking at himself all over. “It’s so warm and fuzzy!”

Eventide nodded happily, his grin widening. “I imagine Santa had to go to a lot of trouble to make that for you. I’ll be sure to tell him you liked it.”

Beebee looked up at Eventide with a happy nod. “Yeah! Tell him I said: ‘Thank you very much, Santa Claus! I love the coat very much!”

Eventide laughed again. “I’ll do that, don’t worry,” With that, he reached over and poked at another box. “Anyways, we have some more presents to go through. Fluttershy and I each got you one, and there’s also two for Buddha from Fluttershy and me,” he explained, finally ending Buddha’s silent torture by opening up one of hers. It was a new squeaky toy in the shape of a bone. The dog let out a happy bark, took the toy in her mouth and then ran away into one corner, presumably to mangle it in solitude. The sounds of the toy squeaking could be heard echoing all through the house.

Beebee giggled merrily as the dog went rocketing by him, then looked around in expectation. His smile faded somewhat after a moment, and he looked at Eventide questioningly. “Oh… uh… where is aunt Shy?” he asked, sounding disappointed.

Eventide just smiled and pulled Beebee closer to his side. “She’s with her family right now, celebrating Christmas with them. We won’t be seeing her today. Sorry, bud,” he explained simply.

“Oh…” Beebee looked sad for a second, then watched as Eventide picked up another of the boxes for Buddha. He looked at it for a moment, then looked at Eventide. “Daddy?”


“Um… I didn’t get you a present…” he said, his voice coming out quiet and guilty. “I’m sorry… please don’t be mad.”

Eventide shook his head with a quiet laugh. After a moment, he gently lifted Beebee up and looked into his eyes. “Hey, Beebee?” he began in a quiet voice.


Eventide’s smile grew. “You don’t have to get me a present this year… for me, the best gift in the world is getting to spend time with you.”

Beebee’s eyes widened in shock. “Really?”

“Really,” Eventide nodded while setting Beebee back down onto the rug. He gave him a few scratches at the base of his fin, then looked up towards the corner Buddha had gone and hidden away in. “But I don’t want you to miss out on the present giving, so…” a conspiratorial smirk appeared on his face. He leaned down and whispered into Beebee’s ear. “Why don’t you go and give Buddha this present from Fluttershy, eh? Our little secret.”

Beebee looked at the box, finding that it was surprisingly small. Still, he took it in his hooves, and while it was a little heavy for him, he could carry it just fine. He looked up at Eventide with a twinkle in his eyes, then ran off to do as his dad had instructed him. After a moment, Eventide could hear Buddha give off another excited bark, and Beebee giggling.

Well, she liked it, apparently…

Later on that evening, Fluttershy found herself sitting on the front step outside of her house, looking out at the snow-smothered landscape with a small smile on her face. She was covered in warm winter clothes, and the warmth in her belly from the hefty dinner she and her family had just finished eating was enough to make her drowsy. There wasn’t much cloud cover outside that day, so the setting sun was fully able to cast long orange streaks across the fluffy white terrain, making the world come alive with the sparkles of snowflakes and the glow of reflected sunlight.

Her attention was drawn away from the serene view when her phone began to ring in her pocket. Curious, she checked the caller ID and found it was Eventide. With a frown, she answered the call and held the phone to her ear. “Hello? Eventide?”

“Hey, Fluttershy. Just calling to say thank you so much for getting that coat for Beebee. I was floundering there for a while, trying to come up with a good gift for ‘Santa’ to give him, but you pulled through for me.”

Fluttershy smiled happily at that and nodded. “Oh, it was no trouble at all. Did he like it?”

“He said, and I quote, ‘Thank you very much, Santa Claus! I love the coat very much!’ Right now he’s playing with Buddha in the living room. I think she liked the fact that you got her a full tin of her favorite dog treats.”

Fluttershy giggled softly at that. “Well, he’s very welcome. Have you two opened the rest of his presents yet?”

“Yeah, we went through them all in the morning. He also wanted me to tell you thank you for giving him that new ant plushie.”

Fluttershy smiled. “I saw how much he liked the old one, but it was getting kind of tattered. Plus, it used to be a toy for Buddha, so I figured he’d like something specifically for him.”

“Oh, he did. Interestingly, he’s taken to weaponizing it to smack Buddha in the face, and then he cuddles it protectively when she goes to retaliate. Those two have a very strange relationship.”

“It works for them, though.”

“Yeah, it does… now, uh, I actually called you because I want to ask… how did you get that coat? The thing is a masterwork! It fits him perfectly and even has holes for his wings! Did you sow it yourself?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “No, I didn’t. And I’m not telling you how I got it. I don’t want to ruin the magic of the day for you,” she replied in a teasing tone, and she was just able to stifle a giggle when she heard Eventide snort on the other end of the line.

“Gee, thanks,” he replied sarcastically before chuckling in amusement. “Alright, well, I gotta go. Beebee’s at the door and I told him we’d spend the day together. I think we might go through some of those Christmas story books I got… anyways, Merry Christmas, Fluttershy. Bye.”

“Merry Christmas to you too, Eventide,” Fluttershy answered before there was a loud click and the line went silent.

Author's Note:

A Christmas chapter in October. I would have held off to write this, but I want the story to follow the chronological order of things. Sorry if this ruffles anybody's jammies, but eh.


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