Disclaimer: DC owns everything YJ. No infringement is intended.

Thank God Christmas Comes Only Once A Year
By Rea

Robin ducked to avoid a handful of popcorn. "For cryn' out loud Bart, leave the popcorn in the bowl! It's meant for the Christmas tree!"

"Sorry Rob, I was aiming it at Kon-el." Bart held up a half eaten popcorn string. "He was eating my trim!"

"Hey man, it's not my fault!" Kon protested from the air around a mouthful of 'trim' "The Kid is a growing boy. Can I help it if the girls are late bringing supper?"

"So starve!" Impulse harumphed, taking his bowl and retreating to the table, "Geez, I bet you ate all the candy canes too?" Robin cocked an eye at Kon, who blushed. Impulse spotted the candy wrappers and slapped his forehead in frustration. "Geez, at this rate we're not gonna have any decorations! Rob, do something!"

"Do what? I think you have the situation well in hand." Robin grinned at Impulse's squawk and turned his attention back to the tree. "Now where should I put these lights? Ah, there." Adjusting a string of blinkers, he stepped back to scrutinize their positioning. He was thoroughly enjoying himself. He was glad the gang had insisted on having a tree for their Christmas party. Decorating the Christmas tree was his favourite part of Christmas. The fact he was doing it with his best friends on Christmas Eve made it all the more enjoyable. "Kon, where did you put the extension cord? I need to plug these lights in."

"No, *choke*, idea, *gak* Rob."

Robin turned to see Kon desperately trying to throw an irate Bart off his back. The speedster was stuffing popcorn in the Kid's mouth. "Come on, Kon, eat it! Since you've completely scarfed my decorations you might as well finish the bowl!"

"For cryn' out loud guys! It's Christmas!" Feeling like a parent, Robin stepped between the two. "Can't you not fight for one night? What would Santa say?"

Impulse gasped. "That's right! Aw man, do you think he'll take back my GameBoy cuz of this?"

"Man, you don't still believe in--Ow! Kon rubbed his stomach grumpily. "Jerk." he grumbled, glaring over his shoulder at Robin.

"Go look for that extension cord." Robin ordered, before turning to Bart. "Don't worry, Bart, Santa won't take your gifts back, not with all the good you do."

"But, I was stuffing popcorn down Kon's throat! He'll dock me points for that!"

"Just leave some extra cookies and milk," Robin joked, returning to his tree lights. "Who knows, he might even leave you something extra."

"You think so?"

"Sure Imp. If you're lucky it'll be a brain." Kon said sarcastically. "Rob, your cord."

Robin scowled as he accepted the cord. What was the matter with Kon? "You'll have a good Christmas, Imp. We all will."

"I sure hope so." Impulse bent down to pick up the scattered string and popcorn. "I asked him to bring Max something too. Something I thought he could really use."

"You did?" Robin connected the blinkers and stuck the lights into the socket. Nothing happened. "Drat. Must have a loose bulb somewhere."

"What'd you ask him for?" Kon demanded, unravelling a row of garland. "Better yet, what'd you get me for Christmas?"

"I'm not telling!"

"Why not?"

"It wouldn't be a surprise. Hey!" Impulse pointed to the tree. "Rob's got the lights going!"

The tree glittered with lazily blinking lights, flashing red, green, yellow and blue hues over the walls of the Justice Cave. Silence fell over the boys as they admired the lights. Robin broke the spell. Grinning he jutted a thumb at the tree. "That my friends, is a tree ready to be decorated! Shall we?"

A while later...

"Aw man." Kon-el slammed the phone on the cradle. "This is just great!"

"What's the matter?" Robin frowned, adjusting a miniature nutcracker ornament on the tree. "Was that C & C?"

"Yeah... There's a snow storm. A really huge one outside our door that has everyone being told to stay put. The girls are at Cassie's place. They're not coming."

"Snow?" Impulse zipped past carrying a strand of green garland. "Can we got out and build a snowman, Rob? We could do snow sculptures of the team! That'd be cool."

"I don't know about the snow sculptures, but maybe we should take a look. If it's really bad, none of us may be getting home tonight." Robin set aside his ornaments and headed for the entrance of the cave with Kon and Bart in tow.

Opening the door, the boys were met with a wall of snow and a blast of frigid air that left them shuddering.

"Wow." Bart breathed. "That's a whole lot of snow."

"Visibility's bad." Robin stated. He could see more than two feet a head. A large lump of snow to the right told him he wouldn't be driving home tonight. In fact, none of them would be leaving.

"Oh shit." Kon-el complained, peering over the large snowbank in front of the door. "We're not gonna be able to get take out! Cripes, and I was looking forward to that pizza!"

"We better phone our families," Robin shut the door and lead his friends back to the interior of the cave, "and let them know we're okay."

"Max is gonna be majorly bummed." Impulse ran ahead, wanting to be the first to get to the communications board. "He's big into the whole 'together' thing. He wasn't too keen on our Christmas party being tonight."

"Mine won't." Robin said drearly. "My Dad and stepmom are in Europe."

"So you were spending Christmas by yourself?" Kon was surprised. He'd have figured Robin would be celebrating one of those nostalgic Christmases he'd seen on tv--the ones with big parties, tons of food and presents packed to the ceiling. To find out the Boy Wonder was spending Christmas solo--go figure.

"Not completely." Robin stood beside the console, waiting patiently for Bart to finish with Max. "Batman invited me to spend Christmas day at his place. Alfie insisted I come for Christmas dinner."


"Yeah." Robin paused, unsure of how much to reveal. "He's um.... well... he sorta looks after us all."

"Sounds like one of Santa's helpers to me. He wear green and red tights too?"

"Ha, ha."

"Your turn Robin!" Impulse spun from the console. "Max is sorta PO'd but he thought it was cool I was mature enough to phone. He says to get home as soon as it's safe. Think that'll be a in few minutes?"

"Not likely." Kon grumped. "Cassie said it's supposed to last for the next twelve hours. Man, I'm starved!"

"There's rice cakes!" Bart shoved the bag in his face. "They're good, really."

"Right." Kon-el batted the bag away. "You and the Wonder Boy can eat them til your hearts content. The Kid, does not do health food."

"The board's all your's Kid." Robin stepped aside to allow Kon-el access to the console. He was mildly surprised when Superboy made no move to call out. "Batman said the storm should let up early morning. He's going to fly the Batbird in to pick us up soon as the weather permits."

"Cool!" Impulse hopped up down beside Robin. "Can I fly?"

"I don't think he'd let you." Robin laughed. "He doesn't even let me fly. Kon could maybe take the wheel though. He's the resident flyer of our little trio."

"Whoopee." Kon huffed. "Thanks, but no thanks. I can fly myself home. I don't need a ride from Batman & Batboy."

Robin stared hard at him for a moment then shrugged. "Suit yourself. Hey, Imp, how's about we finish that tree?"

Some Time Later...

"Guys, we do good work." Robin clapped his friends on their backs. He stood admiring the tree. Even with the half-eaten popcorn strings and lack of candy canes, the tree looked good.

Colored bulbs glowed softly beneath the twinkle of the lights. Tinsel and garland sparkled while the assortment of wooden ornaments he'd swiped from Alfred's Christmas box at the manor added the final touch. The tree was a little lopsided. The stand had been bent when Impulse had gotten his feet caught in the garland and plunged head first into the plastic pine. Somehow, he reflected, it seemed fitting. Young Justice was far from perfect. A lopsided tree symbolized the group eloquently in his opinion. Beside him, Impulse and Superboy were equally impressed. Well, almost...

"This really sucks." Kon complained. "Why'd there have to be a stupid snow storm? I'm starving and there's nothing to eat but popcorn strings--"

"You're not eating my decorations!" Impulse howled.

"And lousy cappuccino--"

"What's wrong with my coffee?" Robin demanded, pouring himself a cup.

"And stupid oatmeal cookies in the kitchen! I mean, who eats shit like that?"

"I do." Robin snapped, slightly hurt. "What's wrong with oatmeal? It's healthy for you."

"I like 'em." Impulse zipped away and returned, bag in hand. "Hey, theses kinda taste like Gingerbread!"

"Oh great!" Kon slapped himself in the forehead. "That's just peachy! A stupid snow storm has me trapped in a stupid cave with the brainless Wonder. Thank god Christmas only comes once a year!"

"Kon-el!" Robin frowned. "It's not that bad. The storm'll pass over by morning and we can still spend Christmas day with our families." He grinned and threw his arms wide. "It's just the guys, tonight! Red Tornado's spending the evening with Traya, and Secret's with C& C. Come on, the sack-out will rock! We haven't done this since we first formed Young Justice. We can listen to some tunes, watch some tv. There's the pool table and I think I spotted some cards and chips in the rec room. Anyone up for some poker?"

"I am!" Impulse said around a mouthful of cookie. "Rob's right. This seriously rocks! Just the guys." He leaned in close to Kon and smirked. "Hey, SB, we can bond!"

"Blow me."

"Alright Kon, what's eating you?" Robin eyed his friend seriously. "Did Natalie leave for New York? Is that what's the problem?"

"No, she'd spending Christmas with her boyfriend. For a detective, Rob, you sure can be dense." Kon-el hovered above Robin's head, arms crossed in front. "It's not Natalie and I'm not upset."

"Could have fooled me."

"Blow me."

"Is that your answer for everything?" Impulse smirked. "Geez Kon, isn't that something you'd say to a girl? Is there something you need to tell us?"

"Shut up, Impulse! I'm not in the mood."

"Hey, you're the one that said, 'blow me'."

"So help me, I'm gonna pound you!"

"Guys!" Robin shouted, "Cool it!" He jabbed a finger at Kon-el's hovering form. "Spill it, Kon. What's eating you?"

"What's eating me? Being stuck in this stupid cave with you two on Christmas Eve!"

Robin stared around in confusion. The tree glittered prettily and the wreaths Impulse had hung on the walls made the HQ quite festive. "What's wrong with the cave? It's all decorated and-"

"Yeah, you'd have no problem with it. You live in a cave with bats. Hey, Rob, you even know what daylight looks like?"

"That's not very nice." Impulse said around a mouthful of cookie. "Santa's gonna be really P.O.'d."

"Santa! There is no freakn' Santa, Imp! Those presents are from your parents!"

"Huh?" Imp snorted, amused by the notion. "Right, like Max would pitch for a GameBoy. As if."

"If," Kon retorted, ignoring Robin's warning glare. "There is no Santa. He's a myth. Pure and simple. Christmas is a farce."

"Really?" Impulse glanced uncertainly between Robin and Superboy. "Robin, is that true?"

"No," Robin stated firmly. "There is a Santa. Just not everyone believes in him. Imp, go make another pot of coffee--SLOWLY. I want a moment with Kon."

"Um... okay." Impulse zipped off, leaving Robin to face down Superboy.

"That was a cruel thing you did." Robin said quietly, seating himself at the young Justice table. He motioned for Kon to sit as well. "Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. Bursting Imp's bubble like that..." He shook his head. "What the matter, Kid? You two fight, but you've never been mean before."

Kon hovered over the table, refusing to sit. He didn't like the concerned look on Robin's face. He didn't need this. So what if he said there wasn't a Santa? Impulse was gonna find out sooner or later. He watched as Robin leaned forward expectantly, clasping his hands patiently. The movement aggravated him. At that moment all he wanted to do was throttle his friend. What right did he have to pry?

"Kon?" Rob's voice dripped with concern.

It was enough to make him sick. Kon-el's eyes narrowed. What did Robin care? "Always the perfect one, eh Rob? Always the one to listen and play 'Dear Abby'. I got news for you. I don't need your advice and I sure as hell don't need you to judge me.

"I'm not judging you, Kid. I'm your friend, and I'm worried about you. It's Christ-"

"--mas. Yeah, yeah. Know what I have to say about that? Bah Humbug!"

Is that what this is about?" Robin demanded. "You don't like Christmas?"

"A real brainiac tonight, aren't we?" Kon said bitterly. "What's to like about Christmas? You're preaching to me about warm fuzzy feelings, but you know, I don't have any warm fuzzy feelings. Not a one. Christmas sucks. It's just an exaggerated, over-used term to help people forget how miserable they are for a couple of days. To be thankful for what few good things happen in their pathetic lives. It's all over tv, the Internet, the radio. Come together with family and friends. Celebrate with loved ones. Be happy, be happy. Hey, news flash. I ain't happy. No joy-joy feelings in this clone."

"That's it, isn't it?" Kon watched Robin's eyes widen as understanding hit. "You're all alone for Christmas, aren't you?" Kon winced and turned away. "That's why you're so angry. All this time, we've been talking about presents and family--and, you don't have that, do you? All your friends, and associates from Hawaii, they're spending Christmas with loved ones. In all the hustle and bustle you've been shoved aside, forgotten, and you don't like it. Not one little bit."

"You sound like a Dr. Zeus book."

"Don't change the subject." Robin climbed onto the table and snagged Superboy's leg before he could move. "Kid, I understand where you're coming from. I've spent too many holidays alone not to understand how it feels. It hurts. You watch those around you being happy and excited while all you feel is that huge void in the middle of your chest. An emptiness that seems to grow instead of shrink. I felt this way for the longest time. Until finally, someone let me know how important I am. That I am cared for."

"Good for you." Kon said bitterly. "Let me guess, Batman right?"

Robin nodded. "Yeah. He made me a part of his family." His gloved hand gripped Kon's ankle. He started to reel the Kid in. "But you know, I'm a part of another family too. A really cool family. A family, in which one of its members is seriously hurting right now."

"Don't pull this sentimental crap with me Rob." Kon complained, ignoring the sting beginning in his eyes. "It won't work."

"I care about you Kon. You're my best friend." Kon felt himself drop an inch. Against his will, he found himself slowly being lowered. With a little TK he could easily get out of Robin's grasp, yet, he allowed himself to be pulled down. "Let me in, Kon. You're not alone. Imp and I are here for you."

"Rob--" His feet touched down and he found himself pulled into a hug. It felt weird, being hugged by Robin. Yet, it felt good too. Like he was wanted. For the first time, he thought he might not be alone.

A blur of wind and Impulse was there. "Awww. Is this a group hug?" Another set of arms wound themselves around his shoulders as Bart joined them on the table.

Damn, hugging another guy--no, make that guys--on top of a table. This had serious mental trauma written all over it. If he didn't feel so emotional Kon would have objected. But it felt good to be hugged. Thank god the girls weren't around. He didn't want anyone to know about this.

After a moment, Robin released him. The Boy Wonder grinned. "Feel better?"

Kon blushed and rubbed quickly at his eyes. "Actually I do." Thank God Christmas only came once a year. If he got any more emotional he'd turn into a girl.

"Geez guys," Impulse grinned goofily. "did we just have a bonding moment or what?"

"Maybe, Imp." Robin laughed, hopping down. "Let's not tell anyone okay?"

"I'm with you." Kon agreed. "So, uh, what now?"

Robin looked at his watch. "It's midnight." He looked up and flashed a smile. "You know what this means?"

"We wish each other a Merry Christmas?"

"No!" Robin shouted. "We open presents!"

"Huh?" Kon-el watched Robin and Impulse race for the tree. Weird. He felt a grin tug at his lips. This was probably the only time he'd ever see Rob so excited. "Uh, guys, there are only six presents under there. What's the big deal? I mean..." He watched as Robin pushed Imp out of the way in the dash for the tree. "Hey, Fearless Leader, play nice!"

Three Minutes Later....

"Cool." Robin held up a new coffee cup with his name emblazed on the side in gold lettering. "Thanks Kon." He held up a packet of French Vanilla coffee. "I'm gonna get good use out of this."

"Did you like the ear muffs?" Imp demanded, pulling on the pair of striped toe socks from Robin. "I had to hunt everywhere for Pikachu."

"They look good, Imp. They're really, um... neat." Robin reluctantly put the yellow pokemon ear muffs on. "I'll get good use out of these too."

"They keep your ears really warm." Imp said proudly. "I bought them so you can wear them on patrol with Batman."

Kon-el sputtered and nearly spit out his cappuccino. Robin merely nodded. "I'll do that Bart." Kon wondered how he said that with a straight face. "Did you like your gifts, Kid?"

"Definitely." He adjusted the new sunglasses from Rob and managed to stay solemn while trying on his new Spice Girl mood ring from Bart. "The babes will dig this."

"They'll dig the ring too." Impulse said confidently. "Chicks love the Spice Girls. My friend Carole goes ballistic when anyone even mentions them. You'll get lots more girls wearing that ring, Kon."

"I'll bet. This ring has more umph, than the Green Lantern's." He shared an amused grin with Robin. "So, Imp, whaddya think of the new yo-yo?"

"Radical. How'd you manage to find one that changes color?"

"Luck." Kon watched as Impulse batted the toy around at superspeed.

Robin watched and prayed the string wouldn't break. At that speed the darned toy was more lethal than a bullet. "Be careful. I don't want anything broken."

"No way." Bart said two seconds before the string broke. Robin barely ducked in time as the yo-yo flew over his head and smashed into the wall. "Uh oh." Imp said, holding his ripped string in surprise. "Um, maybe we should go to bed now, huh?"

6 am....

"Robin? Impulse! Superboy!"

Robin sat up and rubbed blearily at his eyes. "Wha?" A dark shadow stood over him. "Batman?"

"No. It's the ghost of Christmas day, come to deliver you and your friends outta this cave."

"Nightwing?" Fully awake, Robin stared into the grinning face of his surrogate brother. "Where's Batman?"

"Impatiently tapping his fingers in the Batbird. Gather your friends and let's skidaddle."

"Okay." Gathering up his gifts, he roused his friends from their scattered positions around the tree. Moments later the three boys were climbing into the Batbird where they were greeted than a less than chipper Batman.

"What took so long?"

"Hey, you ever try to rouse three sleeping teenagers at an ungodly hour of morning?" Nightwing flashed a grin. "It ain't easy. Besides, it's not like we have anywhere pressing to be. A quick stop at Impulse's then home to Gotham for some plum pudding and Alfie's famous apple cider."

"My engines are freezing." Batman scowled at the three boys squished together in the rear of the Batbird. "Buckle up."

"Is he always this hacky?" Impulse whispered rather loudly to Robin, who cringed.

"Only when I'm forced to wait for tardy passengers." Batman quipped. "And teens who think I'm deaf."

Impulse was silent for the rest of the trip.


"Coolness! Max waited for me before opening presents!" Impulse zipped into the house, spraying Robin and Superboy with kicked-up snow.

Robin pulled ice out of his hair. "You sure you want to do this?"

Yelling ensued from the house as Max berated Impulse for opening all the presents under the tree. "Not all of these were for you! There are other people in this house besides you, Bart! Wrap them back up! NOW!"

Kon chuckled nervously. "Um, I'm kinda having doubts... but... I'll stick it out." He shrugged. "It'll be interesting."

"That's for sure." The two watched Max chase Impulse around the living room in his housecoat. "If you need to bail early, give me a call, okay."

"Will do."

Overhead, Batman leaned on the horn. Robin growled and rolled his eyes. "For cryn' out loud, you'd think he could be a little less impatient on Christmas day."

"No way, it'd be too out of the character!"

"No kidding."

The two looked at each other. Kon kicked aimlessly at the snow. Robin pretended to ignore the horn blaring over his head. "Well, I guess there's only one thing to do, then."

"Guess so." Kon took a deep breath. "Merry Christmas Rob."

"Merry Christmas, Kid."


Robin watched his friend leave. Breathing a sigh of relief, he thanked the gods Christmas only came once a year. He didn't know how much more Christmas stress he could take.

"You certainly took long enough." Batman growled as Robin climbed into the Batbird. "You were invited for supper with Impulse's family too. Did you want to stay?"

Robin buckled himself in next to Nightwing. "Nah. I've got my own family."

"Then let's go home." Batman eased the Batbird up as Nightwing popped in a Christmas tape.

He ignored Batman's glare. "What song do we want, Tim? Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls?"

"We wish you a merry a Christmas!"

"Not again." Batman moaned as his sons started singing the annoying carol at the top of their lungs. Bracing himself for six hours of non-stop carolling, Bruce thanked the gods that Christmas only came once a year.

Back at Impulse's Max was thinking much the same as Superboy and Impulse got into a food fight over the mashed potatoes and candied yams. A plate of plum pudding sailed across the table successfully knocking off the Grinch hat, Bart had so proudly presented to him thirty seconds ago. Max dropped his head into his hands and thanked the gods that Christmas only came once a year.

The End

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