Author's note: Season's greetings, one and all! The fic you are about to read is the product of an entire year's worth of my time, tears and sweat. (Yes, mostly my sweat.) The idea originally came from watching "The Muppets Christmas Carol" on TV last December and noticing a striking resemblance between Scrooge and our dear friend Mr. Krabs. At first, I had planned to make a comic strip of Dickens' epic holiday tale featuring the cast of SpongeBob, but in all honesty…I just didn't have the time or technology. Therefore, instead, you lucky patrons will be treated to the written version! Hoo-rah!

You know the disclaimer score. If you recognize it, I don't own it. With that, bon voyage.

"The SpongeBob Christmas Carol" by DiamondTopaz

"Welcome, friends, to another day in ze undersea paradise known as Bikini Bottom," an omniscient French voice began. "And not just any day…today is Christmas Eve. Ze day before ze happiest event of ze year." Indeed, most the town of Bikini Bottom was adorned with Christmas decorations...but there was one place that did not join in the festivities. The Krusty Krab stood alone and bare; no colorful Christmas lights hanging from the roof, not even a festive holiday wreath on the door. In fact, the only noteworthy thing about the place was the large, empty patch of soil beside it, where the long-gone Krusty Krab 2 once stood.

"But unfortunately, at ze Krusty Krab, it is not turning out to be a joyeaux noel," our French narrator continued.

It didn't look much better inside the fast-food eatery. There was no one standing at the cash register, and an awful lot of commotion could be heard coming from the kitchen. Then finally, a flustered-looking SpongeBob emerged through the door into the dining room, carrying a tray. He rushed over to a seated customer and placed the tray on the table in front of her.

"Here you are; sorry about the wait!" he announced cheerfully. "One Tofu Patty meal!"

The customer gave him a reluctant look. "Um…Tofu Patty?" she repeated. "Uh, I'm sorry, but I ordered a Super Carnivorous Patty Deluxe."

Tears formed in SpongeBob's eyes, as though he had just made the biggest blunder of his entire life. "You…did?" he squeaked…followed by an agonized wail. "Oh, how could I have been so blind!" he sobbed. "That's the second time today!"

His customer inched away, looking weirded out. "Whoa, hey man, it's cool. Just take it easy; tofu is…eh…fine," she assured him.

He sniffed. "Are you sure?"

She looked unsurely at the Tofu Patty, then hesitantly took a bite. Instantly she made a face, but tried to mask it with a smile. "Mmm. Yum." She gave SpongeBob a reluctant thumbs-up.

He beamed. "Okay, then! Enjoy your tofu! Oh…and Merry Christmas!" He turned and headed back toward the kitchen, not noticing the customer retch and spit out the tofu. Before he could make it back to the kitchen, he was intercepted by a fish dressed in hippie attire.

"Dude, where's my Tofu Patty?" the hippie asked. "I've been chilling here for, like, ten minutes now! What's up?"

"You ordered the tofu?" SpongeBob realized. "Oh no, I must have switched your order with that Super Carnivorous Patty Deluxe by mistake! Um, I'm sorry, sir, but I could make you the Super Carnivorous Patty Deluxe on the house, if you want."

"No way, man! Like, I'm a vegetarian! Not cool!" the hippie spat, waving his fins angrily. "When are you corporate machines going to learn? The longer you continue to make your Krabby Patties out of living, feeling beings, the longer you blah blah blah…"

As the hippie continued his tirade, SpongeBob stood there, looking crushed that his service had failed to meet customer standards. In the meantime, behind the door on the opposite side of the register, Mr. Krabs loafed in his office oblivious to the unrest taking place right outside. He relaxed in a lounge chair in front of his desk, clad only in Speedos and a pair of sunglasses, a solar lamp beaming on him and several bags of money beside him. "Ahh, life is good," he mused. Then he heard the hippie's rant coming from outside. He sat up immediately and began sniffing the air. "Uh-oh. That smells like an angry customer complaint…"

The hippie was just finishing his speech--"to bring peace and love back to the world!"--when Mr. Krabs hurried out of his office, fully clothed and bearing harsh tan lines where his sunglasses were.

"Uh, excuse me sir, is something wrong? I'm the owner of this establishment; is there a problem?" Mr. Krabs asked him.

The hippie shook his head. "Just forget it, Man! This place is totally not with it!" he pushed his way past Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob and left the Krusty Krab in a huff.

Mr. Krabs looked sternly at SpongeBob, his claws on his hips. "SpongeBob? What was that all about?"

SpongeBob shrugged. "I'm not sure, Mr. Krabs. Somewhere in between 'corporate machines' and 'totally bad vibes,' I couldn't quite understand what he was talking about."

"You tried to give a meat product to a vegan again? That's the third time this week!" Mr. Krabs put an arm around SpongeBob's shoulders. "What's the matter with you, Boy? You used to make and deliver orders like it was nothing."

"I know…but it's just that things have gotten a lot harder, and--" the yellow sponge started.

"Harder?" his boss interrupted, a false and theatrical hurt expression on his face. "SpongeBob, do you think it's easy for me that we haven't seen a profit in over a month?" He held his claw to his chest. "Don't you think I suffered when we had to close down me beloved Krusty Krab 2 and strike it for resources?" he punched the sky for extra gusto. "Yes, times have changed, but that's why I need you to be strong now!"

SpongeBob looked down. "I'm sorry, Mr. Krabs, but I had no idea that running the kitchen and the cash register at the same time would be so…demanding." He closed his eyes sadly. "Things have sure gotten a lot tougher, ever since Squidward was lost in that red tide." He sniffed and brushed away a tear.

"Aye," Mr. Krabs nodded, feigning sympathy. "It was indeed a tragic loss, and we certainly can't let poor old Squidward's memory go in vain. That's why we have the tip jar!" he pointed casually to a jar on the counter beside the register. It was simply labeled 'Squidward J. Tentacles Memorial Tip Jar," and there were a few loose coins inside it.

"Whatever you say, Mr. Krabs," SpongeBob complied doubtfully.

"Good! Now, it looks like the lunch rush has dies down a bit," Mr. Krabs observed, handing SpongeBob a broom. "Why don't you sweep the floor, make yourself look economical?"

"Aye-aye, sir." SpongeBob saluted wanly, took the broom and started sweeping. But just as he did, the floor and entire building began to shake. He looked quizzical…until he saw that the cause of the "earthquake" was Mr. Krabs's mammalian daughter Pearl entering the front door. "Oh, hi Pearl!" he greeted her.

"Hello, SpongeBob! Merry Christmas!" Pearl beamed.

SpongeBob walked over to a jukebox that had been conveniently installed in the Krusty Krab recently. "And a merry Christmas to you, too!" he chirped, inserting a quarter in the jukebox. The first chords of 'The Very First Christmas' began to play, and the ever-spirited SpongeBob pretended to play his broom like a guitar along with the music.

Pearl giggled. "Oh, SpongeBob! You are such a little kidder!" With that, she walked over to the register, where Mr. Krabs is busy inspecting the tip jar. "Hi, Daddy!" she exclaimed.

Mr. Krabs put the jar down almost embarrassedly. "Why hello, Pearl! What can I do for me sweet little oyster today?"

"Well, I was just wondering…" Pearl held open a teen magazine to a page in which a fish supermodel was wearing high-heeled boots. "Can I have these boots for Christmas? Flipper Slippers are so last season; these Anemone Boots are all the rage now."

"For Christmas!" Mr. Krabs repeated. "Don't be silly, Pearl; we ain't celebrating Christmas."

"What?" Pearl gasped.

SpongeBob instantly stopped playing his broom in the background. "What?"

"All Christmas does is give lubbers an excuse to take a day off, stuff their faces with tasteless fruitcakes and puddings, and butter up their friends and family with expensive gifts," Mr. Krabs scoffed. "It's a waste of time…and more importantly, a waste of money. And in my house we will have no part of it."

Pearl's eyes welled up with tears. "Dad…you're so unfair! Why is everything always about money with you!" she ran out the front door, sobbing.

Mr. Krabs sighed. "You see, SpongeBob? That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Christmas just brings people down."

SpongeBob looked up at Mr. Krabs with big, starry, corny eyes. "That's not true, Mr. Krabs. Christmas is a time for giving, for bringing us all together and sharing joy."

"Ahh, SpongeBob, SpongeBob. When will you learn?" Mr. Krabs shook his head. "Anyone who tells you that is trying to sell something."

For a second SpongeBob looked crestfallen, but that changed when he heard the next two people to come through the front door.

"Look lively, young ward! Let us try asking here!" Mermaid-Man declared, standing imposingly in the doorway.

"Sure, why not? We've already been everywhere else," Barnacle-Boy said with much less enthusiasm.

SpongeBob gasped ecstatically. "Mermaid-Man and Barnacle-Boy!" he rushed to the elders' side. "Oh, worthy heroes! Permit me the honor of sweeping a path for your righteous feet to trudge upon!" he wielded his broom and quickly cleaned the floor leading to the register. The two superheroes, paying little attention to their spastic young fan, approached Mr. Krabs at the register.

"Hello, gentlemen. Would you like to order something?" Mr. Krabs asked.

"What Mr. Krabs means is, "To what do we owe this tremendous honor, Your Heroships?" SpongeBob cut in.

Mermaid-Man fumbled, as though trying to remember what it was they came in for. "Oh? Well, uh…in light of this Holiday Season, we want to…hmm…that is…"

"We're accepting donations for the retirement home," Barnacle-Boy finished for him.

Mr. Krabs looked unimpressed. "Yeah? And?"

"And, uh, we were wondering if you could help out with a donation," Mermaid-Man said.

"Ha! You can just forget it, Old-Timers!" Mr. Krabs sneered.

"Mr. Krabs is right! You can just forget all your worries, because we'd love to help out any way we can!" SpongeBob exclaimed, missing Mr. Krabs's point entirely.

"Really? That's great; how much can we put you down for?" Barnacle-Boy asked.

"Oh, you guys are mistaken…" Mr. Krabs started.

"That's right; you're mistaken if you think we'd give up any less than $100!" SpongeBob continued.

"SpongeBob!" Mr. Krabs snapped.

"Oh, right; sorry. Better make it $200!"

"Okay, that's enough!"

"Enough low-balling, you mean? Boy, you sure know how to drive a hard bargain, Mr. K! $500!"

"I'm warning you, Lad! If you don't stop this…"

"…at any other price, it just wouldn't be fair. $1,000 it is, then!"

"Wow, $1,000. Thanks, you've been a big help. Will that be cash or check?" Barnacle-Boy asked.

"Neither!" Mr. Krabs spat, starting to get very frustrated.

Once again, SpongeBob could be counted upon. "Yeah! Take it out of his retirement fund!"

"Can do!" Mermaid-Man answered as he and his young ward lumbered toward the exit. "Thanks again, and Merry Christmas!"

SpongeBob waved after them. "Merry Christmas, oh Great Ones!"

Poor Mr. Krabs was at a loss for words. He gritted his teeth, turning a brighter shade of red than usual and twitching with anger. Oblivious, SpongeBob looked at his boss happily. "Ah, it sure feels good to help out a noble cause, doesn't it Mr. Krabs?"

At that, Mr. Krabs literally exploded. "AAAAGH! THAT'S THE LAST STRAW! SPONGEBOB, YOU'RE FIRED!" he screamed.

SpongeBob yelped. "But…but…"

"But nothing! I've had it with you!" Mr. Krabs interrupted. "You may have been the best fry cook in the land, but you can't even keep an order straight anymore, and now you've just lost me one thousand of my hard-earned dollars!"

"But Mr. Krabs, it's Christmas, SpongeBob protested. "And Mermaid-Man and Barnacle-Boy are the superest superheroes ever; I was just trying to…"

"Oh, will you forget that ridiculous Christmas nonsense already!" the infuriated crab shouted.

The yellow sponge's face was the most pitiful it had ever been. "Mr. Krabs, please don't fire me. The Krusty Krab is my whole world," he pleaded.

"I know, Boy, but my decision is final! It's time to move on." Mr. Krabs declared.

Defeated, SpongeBob lowered his head in shame. "Then I…guess there's nothing more I can do," he whimpered, turning to leave. "Just so you know…I still think you're the greatest boss there ever was." He tried to restrain himself from crying as he trudged out the front door, but once he's outside Mr. Krabs heard him wailing uncontrollably.

"Ah, he'll get over it," the old crab shrugged.

Author's note: I have the next chapter ready to post (it's one of my favorites, and I think you can take a guess what it is), but I'm going to wait a few days and see how this one goes over first. But don't worry; the whole thing should be posted in time for Christmas…