Title: All I Want(ed) for Christmas
Fandom: One Life to Live (slight x-over w/ All My Children)
Genre/Category: General, Romance, Drama, Holidays, AU
Pairing(s): Natalie/Cristian, Natalie/JR, Natalie/Jared
Summary: Five Christmas gifts that Natalie Balsom Buchanan Lazarus-Laurence Vega never received. Alternate History all around.
Disclaimer: Characters are all property of ABCDaytime except for my one original; I don't own, ergo, don't sue.
Note: I've always thought that had both Jessica and Natalie grown up with their family that Viki would have named Natalie after her late sister, Meredith.
I.The Chipmunk Song
Eight year old Meredith Buchanan watched as her twin sister Jessica opened her gift from their grandpa Asa—designer cowboy boots with gold spurs. Meredith had received her own pair on their birthday—minus the gold spurs.
"Nothin' but the finest for my Jessie; my little princess." Asa turned his attention to Meredith, "Now don't you go thinkin' that I've forgotten about you. No, I've got an extra special present for my little cowgirl."
Nigel brought over a big box and placed it on the floor in front of Meredith as Asa and Clint exchanged knowing looks.
Meredith removed the lid and pushed the tissue paper aside, squealing as she saw her gift, "Grandpa!" She launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his midsection, "Thank you, Grandpa, thank you! I love it!"
Inside the box lay her very own saddle; hand carved, mahogany leather with a padded suede seat.
Jessica may be his Little Princess but she'd always be his Little Cowgirl.
II. Someday at Christmas
Twenty year old Natalie Balsom placed the last present for her mother under their sparkly hot pink tree. She had to admit that her mother was quite the character, but for all her past faults and the flaws that still lingered, she was still trying, as she did everyday, to make up for bestowing a rotten childhood upon her.
All it had taken was Natalie rushing Roxy to the emergency room when she'd had a near fatal case of alcohol poisoning a year and a half ago for Roxy to stop treating her like some sort of blood-sucking leech she'd never managed to pull off of her. It was clear that Roxy had viewed her as some sort of savior as she began treating Natalie with kindness and respect and then began to turn her own life around. She still gambled a little here and there but she'd stopped drinking. And she had a steady job as a cocktail waitress and was taking a couple of classes at the community college. Recently she'd even started talking about maybe going to church.
Roxy had also started writing to Corrine Balsom, pleading with her to allow Rex back into their lives. So far the woman hadn't budged.
Natalie supposed that it was just as well. Rex probably didn't even remember them anymore. After all, he'd only been three when their father died and Corrine came along and rescued him from the hell that was life with Roxy. He'd had thirteen years to block out whatever memories he may have had and replace them with happier ones.
But it would be nice to see him just once. Just once.
Natalie was pulled out of her thoughts by a knock at the door. She frowned, wondering who could possibly be at their door at seven a.m. on Christmas morning. Another tentative knock set Natalie in motion towards the door. With the chain lock still in place, Natalie opened the door a couple of inches, "Yes?"
On the other side of the door was a blonde teenage boy, snowflakes sticking in his hair, "I'm looking for Roxanne Balsom."
Natalie stared at the boy, her eyes filling with tears. It couldn't be. "And who are you?"
"I'm her son, Rex."
Natalie closed the door just enough to take the chain lock off and pulled the door wide open, "Rex?"
The boy looked at her, his eyes narrowed slightly as he got a good look at her face. His eyes softened as he recognized her, "Natty?"
She didn't know whether to cry or hug him or call out for Roxy or do all three so she asked him a question, "What are you doing here? How did you find us?"
He shrugged, "Aunt Corrine gave me mom's letters. I wanted to wish you guys Merry Christmas."
If Natalie hadn't believed in Christmas miracles before, she certainly did now.
III. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
"Oh look, mistletoe."
Natalie Vega glanced at her husband, "Mistletoe's what got us Diego."
Cristian pulled her into his arms and looked down at her rounding stomach, "Yeah, but it's not like you have anything to worry about right now—maybe next Christmas."
She gave him a seductive smile then pushed him away, walking into the cottage's living room, "Presents first."
"Presents first, she says," he sighed, following her to where their three year old son, Diego Benjamin Vega, named for Cristian's late father and Natalie's late uncle/step-father, sat, pulling tinsel off of the Christmas tree. He swooped the boy up and placed him on his lap as he sat on the ottoman, Natalie taking a seat in an armchair.
"Santa came, mama!" Diego declared, squirming on Cristian's lap, eager to get his hands on the presents and more tinsel.
Cristian held their son firmly in his lap, "You know, I think we should let mommy open some of her presents first."
"Diego should open his—" Natalie started.
"No, no, you should definitely open at least one of yours first. In fact, it should be that one right behind you. What do you think, D?"
Diego nodded his head and clapped his hands, "Yeah. Mama, open it!"
Natalie was surprised to see what she was sure was a wrapped canvas leaning against the wall behind her. "And who is this from?"
Diego blushed and giggled, "Surprise!"
Natalie slid her fingers under the tape and pulled the paper open then unwrapped the tissue paper surrounding the portrait. She turned the canvas over to see a finger painting depicting their growing family, including an arrow pointed at her stomach with the word "baby" written to the side of it. "Oh, Diego, it's beautiful. I love it!"
She stood up and gave her son a hug and a kiss on his forehead, "Thank you."
"I helped," Cristian added, fishing.
Natalie kissed him and smiled. She whispered in his ear, "We keep this up and we'll never make it Llanfair. And I think that Diego and our families may have a little problem with that."
"Oh, all right."
"Now, who's ready to open some more presents?"
IV. What Christmas Means to Me
Winifred guided Natalie into the living room of the Chandler Mansion where Adam Chandler, Jr. was waiting for her.
He stood and walked over to her, "Thanks for coming by, Natalie."
She had spent the drive from Llanview to Pine Valley steeling herself for another argument and round of fending off his advances, "Look, JR, if this is another ploy—"
"I have a peace offering in the form of a gift. It is Christmas time, after all. 'Tis the season and all that jazz, you know."
"Oh. I don't know what to say."
"Well, don't say anything just yet, not until after you see what it is," JR said as he handed her a long thin box.
Natalie took the box from his hands and lifted the lid off. Pulling aside the tissue paper she looked at him, an eyebrow raised as she saw the envelope inside. Holding the envelope up, "What's this?"
"It's your gift. Open it up," said, holding out a letter opener.
She shook her head and set the box down. She took the proffered letter open and slid it under the corner of the envelope flap and slit the top open. Pulling out the contents she unfolded the papers and began reading them. It was only a matter of seconds before her eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped. She looked up at JR to see a smug smile upon his face.
"Merry Christmas, Natalie."
"Are you serious?"
"What better way to prove to you just how serious I am about my feelings for you not just my interest in your family's company than a few of my shares of Chandler Enterprises?"
"A few? JR, this has got to be—"
"A quarter of my shares, yes."
"Are you insane? Your father is not going to be happy about this."
"My father's as crazy about you as I am. Besides, he approves."
"Why are you doing this?"
"I told you. Look, you've taken your place at Buchanan Enterprises and in due time you're going to climb your way to the top and by that time, hopefully my father will be ready to hand over the reins of Chandler Enterprises to me. A merger between the two to form Buchanan-Chandler Enterprises—we'd take this world by storm and rule it—together. You and me."
Natalie set the papers down, "I'll think about it."
"I suppose that'll have to do. For now."
Natalie rolled her eyes, not believing that she was about to do what she was about to do. 'Tis the season and all that jazz. She stepped closer to JR, stood on her tiptoes, and quickly pressed her lips to his. "Merry Christmas, JR."
V. Give Love on Christmas Day
Natalie had made herself scarce during the company Christmas party. The fact that her Secret Santa hadn't bothered to either show up or get her gift only further proved to her that she wasn't wanted at Buchanan Enterprises by anyone other than her family and several assistants.
Sitting in her office she listened to the holiday music playing on the intercom system.
"Excuse me, Ms. Buchanan?"
Natalie looked up at the man standing in the doorway, "Yes, Mr. Banks?"
Walking over to her desk, he said, "You weren't at the Christmas party. I just wanted to see if everything was okay, if you needed anything."
"Thank you, Jared, but I'm fine. I just needed to look over a few things."
In the past few months Natalie had noticed that Jared Banks was just as eager and determined to prove himself as she was. He'd definitely earned his place among the staff after her father had given him a trial run as reparation for the sins Tess had committed against him.
Noticing that he wasn't making any attempt to leave, she prompted him, "Anything else?"
"Actually, there is. I didn't get the chance to give this to you earlier," he said, placing a small gift box on her desk.
"You're my Secret Santa?"
He nodded, "Yeah."
There was a look in his eyes that Natalie couldn't describe—better yet, it was a look that she knew but that she'd rather not describe.
Natalie opened the box, parted the tissue paper and pulled out a coffee mug with the words WORLD'S SEXIEST BOSS on it. She was sure she was blushing as she put the mug down and shook her head, "Thank you but I'm not entirely sure that this is an appropriate gift. As a matter of fact, I'm almost positive that it's inappropriate."
"Yeah, that's why I waited to give it to you. It wouldn't look right to anyone else."
"It doesn't look right to me."
"Look, I know you're slightly higher up on the food chain than I am here and as a Buchanan that one day you're going to be running things but that doesn't change the fact that you're an incredibly smart and beautiful woman and I'd love to take you out to dinner and then back to my place."
"You are awfully forward and ambitious."
He shrugged and smiled, "I wouldn't be where I am now if I wasn't."
She fought returning his smile, "Like you said, I'm technically your superior."
"But only technically."
"I really don't believe in office romances. They can get really messy."
He was smirking slightly, "We can save going back to my place for another night."
Natalie thought for a moment. Dinner wouldn't hurt. She was hungry. And Jared was rather good-looking and intelligent and quite capable himself. And he wasn't holding any expectations for how this night would end.
"Good, I know this great little place with tons of mistletoe."