Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue!
Timeline- ALDI-verse
Summary: Christmas fluff to make up for all the angst flying around.
Rating- PG-13 because I use naughty words….

The Anit-Santa

So he admits that he's a terrible father, and a lousy husband, and he put off buying the last of the Christmas gifts until when?

Christmas Eve, of course! When else!

And so he lets himself back into their cozy apartment in the city, trying to be as quiet as possible. He's carrying bags of wrapped gifts, and his keys are in his mouth as he sets about silently closing and locking the door. Yes, keys taste gross, but over the years it's a taste he's grown immune to. He drops the bags and struggles out of his coat, before taking the bags back up.

It's four in the morning, and hordes of family would be invading their house in mere hours. And so he hurriedly rushes into the living room where their tree sits, trimmed, with a very paltry amount of presents underneath it. Yeah, that's his fault.

Poor little Alice, with her head of dark curls and her four year old eyes, wondering how many gifts Santa would bring, and if she could catch him in the act to ask him exactly how fist the reindeer are able to go.

He'd had to bite his tongue hard to keep from blurting out that there is no Santa, and parents have to buy tons of gifts for their spoiled children; that the holiday season is a miserable time that is commercialized six ways to Sunday, and should be banned. That Santa is a fat old fuck, and that Christmas trees are originally pagan symbols; that reindeer smell, mistletoe is poisonous, sugarplums don't taste all that good, and the words "Good Will Toward Men" mean jack shit to more than half of America.

He sighs quietly as he spits out his keys onto the carpet, and sets to work at placing presents under the tree. On a blue couch to the side lies his little Alice, curled up under a quilt that her grandmommy had made for her, fast asleep.

He watches her for a moment, before shaking his head. He wonders how long it will be before she becomes jaded like he is. He finds himself hoping she never is.

She curls up a little more, and he frowns, wondering if she's cold, or uncomfortable.

And all he can think about is how much of a sucker he is these days.

He shakes his head and accidentally makes too much noise as he pulls a couple of more presents out of their bag. Alice shoots up to a sitting position, seemingly wide awake.

"Santa!"

Jess nearly jumped five feet in the air. "No…Hi…"

"Where's Santa?"

He doesn't look at her as he keeps placing gifts under the tree. 'Come on, Mariano, think fast…'

"He had to go quick," he tells his daughter. "He's running late, so he asked me to put all the presents under the tree."

"Then what are those bags?"

He scoffs. "Give him a break, Ali."

Alice giggles and lies back down. She frowns again. "I missed him…"

Jess shrugs as he unpacks another bag. "Sorry, kid. Maybe next year."

"I should set out cookies next year," Alice nods factually. "Emma does it."

'Like he needs anymore cookies,' he thinks bitterly. 'The guy's gotta be six-hundred pounds! He's just gonna have a heart attack and-'

"Makes sense," Jess nods. "He'll stay longer for something to eat."

Alice nods back, her expression serious. "And milk…or…beef! Or Coffee!"

'Oh my god, I've fathered a Gilmore…'

He only nods again. "He'll need something to keep him awake….lotta houses to get to."

Alice nods and yawns, her eyes shutting tightly, her baby teeth showing.

Jess smirks as he finishes unpacking. "Well, now that he's come and gone, let's get you to bed, okay?"

The little girl nods and holds out her arms to be carried.

"I'm coming," he says as he gets up, and lifts his daughter into his arms, quilt and all. She's never slept without it since she's had what is widely known as "A big-girl bed." He walks quietly down the hall to her small room, and sets her down on the mattress, tucking her in, and placing Hephaestus in her arms.

"Night Daddy."

He nods. "G'night, Ali."

She closes her eyes, and he watches her as she drifts off. He leans down carefully and kisses the top of her head, before slowly leaving the room, closing the door nearly all the way.

"Hey, Santa," says a tired voice behind him. "Where's my present?"

He grins and turns to his wife, shaking his head. "Dirty."

She shakes her head and takes his hand. "It's really early."

"Had to take care of something."

"You are so irresponsible sometimes," Rory mutters. "God forbid you do the Christmas shopping early."

"No fun," he says seriously as he follows her into their bedroom, and slips off his shoes and shirt.

She lies back down on the bed and watches him get ready to sleep. "You're gonna be grumpy in the morning."

"I'm always grumpy," he replies, as he slips out of his pants, and then slides back to lie down next to Rory. "Merry Christmas."

"Humbug," she says playfully before kissing him. "Night."

He kisses her shoulder as she rolls over on her side of the bed, not replying. He lets out a deep breath and closes his eyes.