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Overview

It’s that time of year already, and what better way to celebrate than with the Marvel Heroes? Answer: there is no better way. Join Spider-Man and Wolverine in a quest to get a cake to Aunt May’s house, and to…stop a rogue Santa from destroying the city?!? Plus, the Loners relives holidays past, and much, much more including story from the past by Fred Hembeck!

(The apartment of Mickey Musashi - Christmas Day)

In the upstairs bathroom, Namie (the new Red Ronin) stares at her reflection in the mirror. She celebrated her first Christmas today; the first one she can remember, anyway... Namie's actual desire is answers. She wants to know who she is and why she doesn't recognize the face staring back at her. Namie reflects on how everyone told her that she is the next generation Red Ronin. A cyborg. Namie clenches her fists; forget who she is - she doesn't even know what she is! Memories would make her holidays a lot happier. At the same time, Johnny Gallo (Ricochet) calls her downstairs.

Walking into the living room, Namie notes the gifts laid out on the coffee table. Sitting around it are Johnny, Chris Powell (Darkhawk), Mickey Musashi (Turbo) and Julie Power (Lightspeed). Namie is grateful that she is no longer alone; she's been taken in by these 'Loners' who found her. They're ex-superheroes attempting to live normal lives and they've been trying to help Namie do the same. As if anything about her life can be considered normal...

She looks at Julie Power who gained the ability to fly from an alien and became Lightspeed. Julie is eager to start Secret Santa. Namie then looks at Mickey Musashi, who inherited her costume and became the hero, Turbo. Mickey, unlike Julie, isn't excited about the Secret Santa as she feels it goes against their vow of not hiding anything from one another. Name turns to Chris Powell, who possesses a crystal that transforms him into Darkhawk. Chris tells Mickey to lighten up. Secret Santa is just a game. Finally, Namie looks at Johnny Gallo, a mutant with acrobatic skills and who once called himself Ricochet. Johnny smugly stares at Chris and tells him that every group needs to have its own grinch...

Namie finally sits down. Julie, excited, suggests that they open the presents from biggest to smallest. Johnny, however, tells her that he'd like to go first. He hands her his gift, telling her that he hopes the gift will put things right between them. Julie is stunned that he picked her name. Johnny tells her that he is glad he did. He knows she's been mad with him about what happened with Mattie (Spider-Woman III), but he just wants his friend back. Julie opens Johnny's gift and smiles as she takes out an olive branch. Johnny, however, tells her that isn't the only thing in it. Julie, shocked, takes out a $50 gift certificate for In-N-Out. He tells her that he knows In-N-Out is her favorite restaurant. He was hoping they could bond over double-doubles like they used to. Johnny tells her he really missed her. Julie smiles, and hugs Johnny telling him she missed him as well.

Mickey then suggests this year's Christmas is a forgiveness for all of them. She picks up her gift for Chris. Johnny's not the only one who is using their gift as a means of apology. Chris opens up her gift and finds it is a yin and yang necklace. It symbolizes the unity of opposites for which Chris is a study of. Mickey realizes that the Darkhawk is a big part of him. There's his kindness and his rage. They try to lead normal lives, yet still feel the need to be heroes. The symbol reminds them that they need to find balance between the different aspects of their lives. How they have to accept those differences, not only in themselves, but in each other. Chris wraps Mickey around into a kiss. Pulling away, Chris feels slightly deflated - his gift for Mickey was meant to be thoughtful, but is going to come off as underwhelming. Chris tells Mickey that her life is almost too balanced. Everything in order, every aspect planned. She leaves no room for chance. Chris just wants to see her throw caution to the winds and shake things up. Mickey opens up her gift to find it's a magic eight ball. If she asks it a question, she has to let the ball decide what she's going to do.

Julie, surprised that Chris and Mickey got each other, calls it romantic. She admires the eight ball, and asks if she can give her gift. The ball replies with a no. That leaves Namie to give out her gift for Johnny. Johnny opens Namie's gift, and finds a New York cap. Gleeful, he asks her how she knew. Namie tells them she heard them all speak fondly of New York, which most of them call home. A home is something she doesn't have, so she figured bringing them a piece of theirs would be an acceptable gift...

These Loners had welcomed Namie into their lives and made her feel at home. As much as someone like her can 'feel' anything. Most people would assume that anger would be easy for Namie to understand, given her situation. Like anger, jealousy (which Mickey sometimes directs towards Chris and his powers) is something most people would assume Namie is familiar with. Emotions, however, are nothing more than words to her. She knows their meanings, but she can't share the feelings. Love. Hate. Joy. Fear. Even humor. They're all sentiments she can comprehend, but can't share. No matter how much she'd like it to be the case... the feelings these friends have for each other haven't rubbed off on her yet.

...Or have they? Johnny jumps up for joy and tells her that he loved Namie's gift - it was really thoughtful of her. It wasn't acceptable; it was awesome. Johnny takes off the Santa hat which he was wearing and puts it on Namie's head, telling her that it looks much better on her anyway. Julie jumps up, telling everyone it's finally time for her to give her gift... to Namie.

At first, Julie had no idea what to get Namie. She barely even knew her. Namie tells her not to worry - she barely knows herself. Julie tells Namie that there are a lot of people out there like her, who aren't sure who, or what they are. People who are searching for meaning in life, like she is. Julie was one of those people. She still is. So, she keeps a diary... Namie opens her gift and finds out that Julie has given her a diary. Writing about her life helps her come to terms with it. It allows her to sort out all her thoughts and get past the confusion. Getting everything out of her head and onto paper helps her deal with whatever she's going through. Julie's diary is like a road-map of what makes her... herself. She thought that Namie starting one would help her find out a little more about who she is as well. Namie tells Julie it is extremely kind of her; Julie responds by saying that it's the least she could do. She wishes Namie a Merry Christmas.

Mickey stands up, and stares at the smiling group. To prove that she is no grinch, Mickey tells them she has one more gift to give. A present for all of them. She knows that the year had been tough for them, to stay out of costume, not use their powers. Their success was... limited, to say the least. She now sees that maybe going cold turkey isn't the answer. Maybe they need to find a happy medium... a balance... they must realize there's a time when they have to gear up and do what's right for the greater good. Which is why, in the spirit of the holiday... she's decided to let them get back into costume!

...That is, holiday costumes! At the mall, kids are lining up for Santa, who is actually Chris dressed as Santa. Beside him, Julie is dressed as a reindeer and is entertaining the kids. At the same time, Mickey, Johnny and Namie are dressed as elves and are carolling.

(Later that evening)

Namie sits in her room, sharing the apartment with a fellow Loner. Smiling slightly, she picks up the Santa hat which Johnny gave her and puts it on. She also picks up the diary Julie had given her. She may not know who she is, or what she is, but at least now she knows she's not alone. Maybe there is hope for her after all. Someday, she might get her memories back and find the answers she's looking for. She's just started taking her first steps towards feeling human... and that's the greatest gift of all. Namie finally sits at her desk, picks up a pen and opens her diary.

Note: Pin-Up by Frazer Irving.

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