Merry Christmas, everyone. Here's your gift.

I think Happy's a little OOC, but meh. Whatever.

Merry Early Christmas!

Once upon a time, Lucy Heartfillia would've done normal things on Christmas Eve. Like opening presents. Or eating candy canes. Or, you know, having a party.

Anything but get stuck in a chimney with a gigantic bag containing presents and her idiotic, exasperating, gets-her-in-all-kinds-of-trouble-like-this best friend, who just so happened to be able to breathe fire. And happened to do it quite often if he was nervous, which he currently was.

Which was kind of a bad thing, seeing as they were dangling directly above a fireplace, which, being a fireplace and all, contained certain extremely flammable items such as firewood.

Lucy sighed, voicing aloud her strongest thought at the current moment.

"Natsu Dragneel, I am going to kill you."

xXx

How did Natsu and Lucy come to be stuck in a chimney in the first place?

Well, the answer lies in a certain book Mira had been reading to the guild, titled The Night Before Christmas. The whole reading-time thing had gone pretty smoothly, and Lucy found it extremely peaceful and fun hearing about Santa Claus and Christmas Eve. Which was all well and good, until a certain Fire Dragon Slayer leaped to his feet.

"I don't get it!" Natsu declared. "Who's this Santa Claus guy?"

"You don't know who Santa Claus is?!" Gray asked, looking dumbfounded. "How stupid are you?!"

Natsu bristled. "I'm not stupid! I was raised by a dragon, you idiot!"

"Idiot? I'm no idiot, you're the one who doesn't even know who – "

Levy cut in after a worried glance at Erza's darkening expression. "Natsu, Santa Claus is a man who gives you presents on Christmas Eve if you're good. He lives in the North Pole, and he drives a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer."

"Reindeer?"

Lisanna sang, slightly off-key, "You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Donner, and Vixen…"

Mira joined in. "Comet, and Cupid…"

"And Donner and Blitzen!"

"You said Donner twice," Natsu pointed out, looking confused and exasperated.

"Well, sorry! I don't know the song that well!" his childhood friend huffed.

"Whatever. How does Santa Claus know if you've been good or not?" Natsu questioned.

Now it was Lucy's turn to sing. "He sees you when you're sleeping…"

Lisanna joined in. "He knows when you're awake…"

"He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sakes!"

The two girls collapsed laughing as Natsu stared, horrified. "He's a stalker?!"

This only made them laugh harder.

"Well, he's kind of a stalker," Mira admitted. "But he gives you presents!"

Natsu shuddered. "Bribes."

"He sees you when you're changing, he knows all your secrets…" Gray sang, but was cut short by a death glare from Mira.

"That's horrible!" Natsu exclaimed. "Happy, this is not okay. Hey! I have an idea!"

He ran to Lucy. "Lucy, help me! I have an idea!"

Lucy stopped laughing long enough to ask, "What?"

"Maybe if we deliver all the presents, Santa Claus won't show up!"

xXx

And that is how Lucy found herself and Natsu stuck in a chimney. Because of course, Santa Claus wouldn't feel replaced if they didn't do everything the same way he did it.

"He's a stalker," Natsu muttered. "We have to get rid of him. Think of all the poor, helpless children, Lucy!"

"You're totally deluded!" Lucy griped. "Why am I even doing this?!"

"Because you liiike – " Happy began, but was cut short when Lucy slapped him.

"I knew the chimney was too small. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it," Lucy ranted. "But nooo, Matchstick here had to go and climb in, and so I had to save his sorry butt, and look where we are!"

"It's okay, Lucy! I can just burn us out – "

"WE'RE ON TOP OF A FIREPLACE! DON'T YOU DARE!"

Natsu pouted. "Then how do we get out of here?"

Lucy sighed, fishing out one of her keys. "Open, Gate of the Maiden! Virgo!"

There was a flash of light, and then a note appeared.

Natsu blinked. "That's not Virgo."

Lucy read, "Apologies, Princess. Today's Christmas, and according to our contract, all Celestial Spirits get Christmas off. Work ethics and all that. You may punish me later if you wish. Virgo."

She threw the paper away from her, but having no place to throw it except up, being stuck in a chimney and all, the note simply fluttered back down again, landing on her stomach. "What?! Who made that stupid rule, anyway?!"

"Lucy's useless!" Happy commented.

"Shut up, cat!"

"This is horrible!" Natsu cried. "At this rate, we'll never be able to get rid of Santa Claus!"

"This is all your fault, Natsu!"

"Hey, Natsu," Happy said thoughtfully. "Isn't oil slippery?"

"Yeah, so?"

"I have a bottle of oil!"

"What?!" Lucy shrieked. "Why didn't you tell us, cat!"

Happy thought about it for a moment. "Because it's funnier that way!"

Lucy would've facepalmed, but she didn't have sufficient elbow room. So she settled for slapping Happy again.

"Natsu!" Happy protested. "She hit me!"

"You deserved it!" Lucy snapped. "Now dump the oil and get us out!"

"Dump the oil?"

'Yes!"

"Like, on top of you?"

"YES!"

"Are you sure?"

"JUST DO IT ALREADY!"

"Well, okay!"

And the next thing Lucy knew, something extremely uncomfortable and slimy was trickling down her back, and she fell.

The three teammates landed in the fireplace with a thump and a huge cloud of coal dust. Which, of course, instantly made them all start coughing like crazy.

When Lucy finally stopped coughing up a lung, she looked up. Directly into the eyes of one extremely shocked-looking four-year-old.

She said the first thing that came to her mind. "Fudge."

"Who're you and what're you doing here?!" the kid asked, looking like she was about two seconds from peeing her pants from sheer shock. "Are you a burglar?! MO – "

You have to give Natsu credit for what he did next. He tackled the four-year-old, slapping his hand over the poor kid's mouth.

"SHH!" he hissed.

The kid's eyes bugged out. "BBBRRGFFF!"

"What?" Natsu blinked.

"I think she's trying to say 'burglar,'" Happy informed him.

Lucy thought fast. "We're not burglars! We're Santa Claus!"

Well, that did the trick.

"Shhhnclsss?"

"What?"

"Santa Claus," Happy translated.

"How do you even understand this?" Lucy asked, flabbergasted. The blue cat simply shrugged.

"Shhhnclsss?" the kid repeated again, louder. Natsu thought fast, then nodded.

"Yeah! We're Santa Claus! I'm Santa, and she's Claus. Nice to meet you. Don't scream, okay?"

She nodded, and Natsu let her go. Slowly.

"But Santa Claus is an old man," were the first words out of her mouth.

"That's what they want you to think," Lucy said quickly, holding up the bag of presents. "I mean, we don't want people finding out who Santa Claus really is, do we? Here's the bag of presents, as proof!"

The four-year-old nodded. "That makes sense."

"So, uh, be a good girl and go back to bed, okay?" Natsu told her. "We have to get going, lots of, uh, presents to deliver and stuff. You know the drill."

The kid frowned. "I want water."

"Oh. Okay." Lucy shot Natsu a look. The look said, Go get the kid a glass of water already!

"Happy!" Natsu hissed, keeping a big fake smile plastered onto his face so the kid wouldn't get suspicious.

"Why me?" Happy complained.

"Because you look cuter, and the kid probably likes you more."

This was a pretty reasonable statement, and so off he went.

Fifteen minutes later, the kid was snug in bed with a cup of water, and Natsu and Lucy were sneaking back up the chimney, courtesy of Happy.

"You weigh a ton, Lucy!" the blue cat complained.

"Shut up, cat! And how come you couldn't just fly us up earlier?!"

"I was squished between you and Natsu! How was I supposed to open my wings?"

"Oh… Right. So you were basically useless."

"I'M NOT USELESS!"

"Shh! We don't wanna get caught again!" Natsu hissed.

They reached the top, where Lucy promptly gasped and whirled around. "We didn't deliver the presents!"

"Whaaat?!" Natsu cried, dumbfounded. "We have to go back down again?!"

"Nah." Lucy shook her head. "Santa Claus'll just deliver 'em for us."

Wrong answer.

Natsu's gaze hardened. "No freaking way."

And then, of course, he jumped back into the chimney, where Lucy was forced to follow.

Five minutes later, they were finally done with the first delivery. Lucy was beginning to really respect Santa Claus. The old guy had stamina.

But then again, he wasn't dealing with Natsu and Happy at the same time.

"Onto the next house! C'mon, Happy!" Natsu cheered, keeping his footsteps as light as possible as he charged across the rooftop. Lucy struggled to keep up, her boots getting stuck in the snow piled on the roof.

"Wait! Natsu! Happy!" she called.

And then the inevitable happened. They were found out.

"What're a couple of kids like you doing on top of a roof at this late hour?"

Lucy, Natsu, and Happy all froze.

"Busted," Happy groaned as they slowly turned to face the speaker.

The person behind them was an old man with quite a large waistline and a bushy white beard. He was dressed entirely in red and white except for his black boots, the floppy triangular hat on his head completing the look. Behind him was a sleigh stacked high with gift-wrapped packages, which was hooked to a team of reindeer, one of which had an extremely bright red nose.

Natsu blinked. Lucy braced herself for the inevitable scream. What person wouldn't recognize the man standing in front of them at the current moment?

Then he spoke: "I should be asking you the same thing, grandpa! Who are you, anyway?"

Yup. There it was. She knew this was going to happen, Santa Claus would never give her presents ever again – wait, what?

Lucy's jaw dropped as the man simply stared at Natsu. "You don't know who I am?"

"Well, it's not like I know everyone's name. How'd you get up onto the roof anyway? You don't look like you have a flying cat around anywhere."

Oh, Lucy inwardly gasped, That's right, Natsu had never heard of Santa Claus before Mira's storytelling time! Of course he wouldn't recognize him!

"Well, they call me Nick. Nice to meet you." The man's eyes twinkled. "Let me guess, you're Natsu?

Natsu's eyes widened. "How did you know that?"

"Unlike you, I know everyone's names. That over there's Happy, and this little lady over here is Lucy, correct?"

"Yes, sir!" Lucy blurted out. She couldn't believe this. Sweet cupcakes, I just met freaking SANTA CLAUS!

Nick motioned to his sleigh. "Well, you kids should probably get going now, whatever you were doing. It's late. Want a ride home?"

"No," Natsu said promptly. "We're on a mission. To get rid of Santa Claus."

Lucy wanted to drop dead on the spot. "No, we're not! Don't listen to him, sir, he's just had too much sugar!"

Nick's eyebrows went flying upward, and he completely ignored Lucy. "Why in the world would you want to get rid of Santa Claus?"

"Well, according to what I heard about him, he's this total stalker guy. He's creepy. We can't let him keep preying on children this way!"

"But children like Santa Claus. And whattaya mean he's a stalker?"

"'He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake,'" Natsu recited. "See? Totally a stalker."

Nick just shook his head. "Oh. Oh, no, no, no. You've got it all wrong."

"Wrong?" Natsu stared. "Whattaya mean, wrong?"

Nick laughed, motioning to his sleigh. "Why don't you get in, and I'll show you?"

Natsu stepped backward, shaking his head. "Uh, sorry, man, but stranger danger and all that. No."

But Lucy stepped forward. "No, Natsu, it's perfectly fine. This guy's safe. Trust me."

"How do you even know that? You're not a lie detector!"

"I TOLD YOU TO GET IN THE SLEIGH SO FREAKING DO IT ALREADY!"

Lucy was NOT going to pass up a chance to ride in Santa's sleigh. No way.

After quite a bit of coaxing and Lucy losing her temper again, they were on their way. And then, of course, Lucy found out one of the downsides of being Santa Claus.

The wind was intense at this height, and since it was nighttime in winter, it was SERIOUSLY cold. She was certain that her fingers were blue by now. Probably frostbitten.

But then Natsu noticed. And, of course, being the good friend he is, threw an arm around her shoulders and put his magic on low.

At that moment, Lucy instantly forgave Natsu for everything he'd done wrong that night. You would too, if he'd just saved you from death by Santa's sleigh ride.

Lucy didn't know how long they rode. She was pretty sure she'd fallen asleep at some point, but instantly woke up when they landed.

Because, to be entirely honest with you, no one but a freak of nature could sleep through the sounds of Santa screaming "WHOO-HOOO!" and crash-landing into a gigantic snowdrift.

Happy floundered around for a while in the snow. "I'M DROWNING! I'M DROWNING IN THE SNOW!"

Natsu reached in and pulled him out. He sat there for a minute, gasping.

"Thanks, Natsu."

"Welcome," Nick announced, making a sweeping arm gesture, "to Santa's workshop!"

Natsu jumped up. "WHAT?! WHAT'RE WE DOING HERE?!"

He spun around, looking frantically in all directions. "Where is it?"

Lucy didn't say anything. She was too busy being confused.

In front of them was a pine tree.

"Oh, yeah, sorry, forgot to disable the cloaking device," Nick said sheepishly. He fumbled with a small remote control, finally managing to press the button.

"Welcome to Santa's workshop!"

Lucy gasped in sheer delight. Her eyes widened, attempting to take in all the sights.

The single pine tree was gone. All around them, elves ran around, painting toys, building things, laughing and singing, while keeping a wide berth around the snowdrift. The entire room was a gigantic mess, but it was somehow organized, each elf doing his or her own part. There were Christmas trees everywhere, and the entire place sparkled with color. Above them was a huge hole in the roof, where the sleigh had flown in. Said sleigh was still on top of the snowdrift, looking remarkably undamaged.

An elf ran up to them. "Done with the batch of presents, sir?"

"Yep! I wanted to show these youngsters around. Apparently, the boy thinks Santa Claus is a stalker." Nick winked.

The elf cracked up. "That's the funniest thing I've heard all day! Hey, boys! You gotta hear this! The kid thinks Santa Claus is a bad guy!"

Natsu scowled. "Of course he is! There's even a song all about it!"

"Oh, come on. You can't believe everything you hear. In fact, I think that song was written by Stormela. That lady. Always making up lies, just 'cause she's jealous of Santa."

Natsu blinked. "So… It's not true?"

"Of course it's not true! Trust me on this, kid, I've worked with Santa for what, a hundred and sixty-seven years? The guy's epic." The elf motioned to Nick. "But you can tell for yourself, can't you? You've already met him!"

"Met him? What do you…" Natsu's eyes widened, and he pointed at Nick, shrieking, "YOU'RE SANTA CLAUS?!"

"Sorry for not telling you, kid," Nick said, looking as if he were trying not to laugh. "But hey, I didn't kill you, did I?"

"Did you know about this?!" Natsu demanded to Lucy.

"Actually, yes," she confessed. "I'm surprised you didn't!"

Natsu looked as if he were going to faint. "MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE HAS BEEN A LIE!"

"Well, not your entire life," Happy pointed out. "Just today."

Natsu looked from Nick to the elf to the rest of the workshop.

"You," he choked out, "created all this?"

"That I did, kid. Want a cookie?" Nick held one out.

Natsu looked hesitant at first, but when it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. He took it.

"Sorry for thinking you were a stalker," he mumbled through a mouthful of crumbs.

"That's fine, kid." Nick waved it off. "I can see how stuff like that can be interpreted the wrong way."

"Yeah," Lucy agreed. "And then blown way out of proportion."

Natsu swallowed the cookie. "Well, thanks for the info, gramps! Now I have something to tell the rest of the guild!"

"It's going to make one whopper of a tale," Nick agreed. "But I have to get going now. Toys to make, supplies to buy, songs to sing, that kind of stuff. So I'm gonna have to take you home."

"What?! But this place is awesome!"

"Sorry, buddy. But here, have a candy cane. Both of you. And get in the sleigh."

Lucy took hers hesitantly. "Will we ever see you again?"

Santa Claus laughed, his eyes twinkling.

"Every Christmas, Lucy," he said. "Every Christmas, I'll be back. You can count on it."

xXx

Lucy woke up in her room on Christmas Day, blinking sleepily.

Was that all a dream…?

She looked around, then sighed when she saw Natsu sleeping on the floor, Happy curled up on his chest. Seriously! Not again!

But her mood instantly brightened when she took a closer look. There, tucked neatly into the folds of his scarf, was a note, along with two candy canes.

Keep an eye on this kid. He's the real deal. And here are your candy canes. You dropped them in my sleigh. Nick.

And below that,

PS: Don't get stuck in any more chimneys. Now there's probably gonna be another version of me getting story-told around. Seriously. Santa and Claus? Oh, well. Guess I'll just have to deal it. I always do.

Lucy laughed, covering her mouth with her hands so that Natsu and Happy wouldn't wake up. She gently removed the note from Natsu's scarf, sliding it into her drawer, where she'd keep it forever.

In future days, Lucy would show the note to her friends and family. It was pretty darn good proof, though no one really believed it after Levy claimed that it could be forged.

But, even so, among the stories told and retold every Christmas Eve at Fairy Tail, a new one was added.

The tale of how Natsu, Lucy, and Happy attempted to steal Santa Claus.

The End