Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. All others belong to us, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask us first. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.
Spoilers: through "Lady Heather's Box". AU
She couldn't sleep. It just wasn't possible.
Daisy flopped over onto her back and sighed. She'd been in bed for forever, and it still wasn't morning yet; how was she supposed to wait?
Mommy had kissed her goodnight and told her to go straight to sleep so that Santa could come, but that was ages ago. Daisy kicked off her cover and stared at the glowy stars Daddy had painted on the ceiling, wondering if he'd come in and give her a kiss when he came home. He'd gone somewhere after dinner to give presents to kids who didn't have homes. He'd looked kind of embarrassed and said it was just for work, but Mommy had said he was sweet.
Daisy sighed again, and decided she needed a drink of water. Sliding out of bed, she grabbed her blanket and trotted out of her room, heading for the little bathroom at the end of the hall, the one with her nightlight and stepstool and her Grover toothbrush and cup. But before she reached it, she heard voices. Mama?
The hall light was out, but down the stairs was brighter. Daisy padded over to the first stair and crouched, listening hard.
Yes, it was Mama, but Daisy couldn't hear right. She sat down on the step and slid down a few, using her feet to keep from going fast, and peeked around the spindles. Her mouth dropped open.
Mama was next to the front door, talking to Santa! Daisy almost ran down the stairs to see him, but remembered just in time that she was supposed to be asleep if Santa was there. But she couldn't go back to bed, she had to see the presents he brought, so she stayed quiet as a mouse, clutching her blanket and watching.
He looked just like he did when she'd talked to him in the mall, and Daisy heard Mommy laughing a little at something he said, but his voice was all hoarse like he had a frog in there and Daisy couldn't understand him.
Mommy reached up and smoothed Santa's beard, running her fingers through it, and he laughed and pointed up at the leaves that Daddy had nailed up over the door when they'd put up the Christmas tree. Daisy couldn't remember what they were called, but she knew that they were some kind of grownup thing. Mommy and Daddy and Zoë and Grandma all laughed about it.
Mommy leaned over and kissed Santa, right on the lips. Daisy's tummy felt funny when she saw it. Mommy wasn't supposed to kiss anyone but Daddy! That wasn't right!
Daisy saw Santa's arms go around Mommy in a hug, and felt her chin start to shake. She turned around and went back up the stairs, trying to be a big girl and not cry, but she was all hot and confused inside.
She was going to go back to bed, but as she walked down the hall Zoë came out of her room, almost running into Daisy. "Hey, kiddo, what are you doing up?"
Daisy forgot all about being a big girl. She wrapped her arms around her sister's leg and started to cry.
Strong arms came around her and lifted her up, and Zoë hugged Daisy close, rubbing her back. "Oh, now, what's the matter, sweetie? Did you have a nightmare?"
Daisy shook her head and pushed her face into Zoë's shoulder. Zoë kept hugging her, and Daisy felt them moving; after a minute they sat down on Zoë's bed, and Zoë rocked her gently, letting her cry.
Finally Daisy was finished, and Zoë held a tissue for her to blow her nose, then looked at her seriously. "Okay, what's the matter?" she asked again.
"Mmmommy was kissing Santa," Daisy said, hiccupping a little. "She's not supposed to!"
Zoë made a kind of choking noise. "Um, can you, uh, tell me more about this? Mom was kissing Santa?"
"Downstairs, right by the front door. And she was hugging him too!" Daisy insisted. "I saw them! Mommy's only supposed to kiss Daddy!"
Zoë blinked a couple of times, then bent her head and put her arms around Daisy. Daisy could feel her sister shaking a little, but she wasn't making any noise, and finally she straightened again.
"I understand why you're worried," Zoë said firmly, though her mouth kept curling up. "And you, um, I know what you mean about Mom kissing somebody who's not your Dad."
She smoothed her hand over Daisy's hair, pushing the tangles away from her eyes. "But Mommy kisses you and me and Grandma too, right?"
Daisy nodded. That was true.
"Well," Zoë went on, "I think Mom was probably just telling Santa thank you. I mean, he brings all those presents, right? He should get a hug for that."
Daisy thought about it. Santa was pretty nice--he'd been comfortable and not scary when she'd met him, and he'd given her a lollipop.
"Okay," she agreed slowly, and Zoë smiled.
"You're lucky, you know, not many kids get to see him right on Christmas Eve." She stood up, taking Daisy with her.
"Did you when you were little?" Daisy asked. Her sister was a grown up, which was special; none of the other kids in Daisy's playgroup had grown-up sisters or brothers.
"Nope, not in my house," Zoë said, carrying Daisy back to bed and laying her down. "You're the only one I know who has."
She tucked Daisy in, folding the sheet over the cover all smooth, and just as she patted it down the door opened again.
"Daddy!" Daisy grinned at her father, and he came over to give her a big bear hug and a kiss.
"Mmmm. Why aren't you asleep, kidlet? Christmas can't come until you're dreaming."
Daisy sighed. "I tried, Daddy, but I can't."
Zoë laughed. "Why don't you try again? If you're still awake in a little while I'll come read you a story, how's that?"
"Okay." Daisy nodded and let Zoë tuck her in again. Her bed was warm and soft, and she was already starting to feel sleepy as Daddy and Zoë stood up. Her sister blew her a kiss, and the two of them went to the door.
"By the way, Saint Nick--" Zoë was saying to Daddy as she closed the door behind them. Daisy didn't understand, but it didn't matter; she was going to wait, nice and cozy, until Zoë came back.
And soon it would be Christmas.