Hey everybody!

Okay, this is technically my first stab at writing a one-shot. This is an extended version of a drabble that I wrote for myself a year or so ago, long before I knew of the wonders of fanfiction. And, since it's Christmas, I thought I might as well post it. I've corrected all the technical errors I made when I first wrote it (at least I 'think' I have), and I've added a couple more spoonfuls of sugar into the mix just to make if light and fluffy. It's completely random, but I enjoyed writing it last Christmas. I hope you enjoy reading it, too!

Standard Disclaimer: I do not own the Thunderbirds, nor any of the characters therein. I've had a chat with Father Christmas, and he says he's going to see if he can get them for me this year, but until then they are not my property. Yes, it is tragic.

Okay, let the one-shot begin!


'Twas The Night Before Christmas

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It was the twenty-fourth of December, and millionaire ex-astronaut Jefferson Grant Tracy was loading the last of his grocery bags into the backseat of his black SUV. He wasn't usually one for doing last-minute shopping, but he'd been at an office party all afternoon and had been unable to get to the store before now. His wife, Lucille, had realised halfway through the day that they were short on supplies; namely Eggnog and the bare essentials, such as bread and milk. But Eggnog was clearly the most important item, since Jeff's closest friend, Thomas Palmar, was coming over to spend Christmas day with the Tracy family. And two men couldn't celebrate Christmas together without Eggnog.

Sighing heavily, Jeff closed the side door to his car with a satisfied 'thunk', allowing himself to relax. With his fetch-and-carry duties officially completed, he wouldn't have to worry about running out of supplies for at least a couple of days. Taking his car-keys out of the pocket of his suit, he opened the driver's door and slipped into his seat. Closing the door behind him, he reached over his shoulder and caught hold of his seat-belt, pulling it across his chest and buckling it in, humming softly to himself.

Suddenly, his cell phone began to ring, playing a lively rendition of 'Deck The Halls'. Grinning at the tune his wife had set to ring for their 'home number' earlier that same week, Jeff reached into his jacket pocket and extracted the device, flipping it open and putting it to his ear.

"He-ello?" he drawled warmly, putting one hand on the steering wheel and running his fingers over the smooth surface.

"Jeff," Lucille's voice replied lightly. "Are you lost?"

"Umm - nope, don't think so," Jeff answered teasingly, putting the key in the ignition and reversing out of his parking space.

"Then what on earth is taking you s-" There was a short pause, then, "Jefferson Grant Tracy! You'd better not be driving with the phone in your hand!"

Jeff nearly dropped the phone in surprise, his car stalling as his feet slipped from the breaks and he fumbled with the gear-stick. Dammit, how does she do that?

"Okay, okay, I've put the phone down," Jeff assured his wife, setting it in the holder on the dashboard and flicking on the speaker. He turned the key in the ignition again and started the engine back up, waving apologetically to the driver in the car behind him. "There, I'm now being a good citizen and driving according to your rule book, Lucy."

"Good," Lucille replied with a soft chuckle. Jeff grinned, rolling his eyes.

"Hi honey, how was your day?" he asked sarcastically, putting on a hurt voice. He heard Lucille laugh gently, the sound filling Jeff's heart with warmth.

"Don't sulk, baby, I only do it because I love you," she assured him. "You're worse than the boys sometimes. And believe me, they can be very difficult when you're not here."

Jeff smirked proudly.

"And wipe that grin off your face, space-boy," Lucille added firmly. "I've just spent the last fifteen minutes battling with your son."

Jeff couldn't help but grin again. "Which one, Luce? We have several."

"A certain four-year-old who is adamant that Santa isn't gonna be able to give him any presents this year," Lucy elaborated, sounding slightly amused.

Jeff pulled out of the parking-lot, heading along the main road and increasing his speed as he relaxed into his seat. "What makes him think that?" he inquired, drumming his fingers on the top of the steering wheel as he drove.

"We don't have a chimney," she explained. Jeff let out a short laugh. For a four-year-old, Virgil was far too clever for his own good. And his inquisitive nature had gotten him into trouble with his father on more than one occasion. In that respect, he took after Scott.

"What did you tell him?" Jeff asked, turning right at the traffic lights and dropping a hand from the wheel, tapping his leg absently.

"That his daddy would explain everything when he got home," Lucille replied innocently. Jeff pouted.

"That's not fair," he complained. "I thought you loved me?"

Lucille laughed. "Suck it up, rocket-man. If I didn't love you, you wouldn't have four sons."

"You gave me them because you loved me?" Jeff demanded incredulously, enjoying the chance he had to tease his wife.

"Jeff!" Lucille scolded jokingly. "Don't talk about my babies like that!"

Jeff pouted again. "I thought I was your 'baby'?"

Lucille laughed again. "I swear, Jeff, you regress to a six-year-old at Christmas," she stated, fondly. "You and Tommy both. What time does he arrive tomorrow, anyway?"

"Eleven-thirty," Jeff replied. "He's staying over at his folk's place this evening, so he has to make the flight tomorrow morning. And anyway, what d'you mean 'regressed'? Tom's never grown up."

"True," his wife agreed. "But would we have him any other way?"

Jeff smirked, shaking his head. "Never. Life would be too dull."

"Although," Lucille reasoned. "He can be mature when he wants...uh-oh. GORDON! No, no, no, put those down, baby! Oh darn....Jeff? You still there?"

Jeff smirked triumphantly. "Nope."

"I'll hang up," Lucille warned. "It's hard enough to juggle four of your offspring without you making things difficult for me. Gordon's managed to find the scissors again. I think he's trying to make snowflakes - you know, the paper ones that Virge and I made last week? Well anyway, I need to go and find out what vitally important document of yours he's gone and ripped to shreds. I'll see you when you get back. And don't go breaking any speed limits, 'cause I'll know if you have. I can see everything."

"Lucy!" Jeff groaned, sounding more like one of his sons than like a thirty-year-old businessman.

"What? I know you, speedy," Lucille countered. "You haven't grown up since you were a kid in that respect. You're still as much of a speed-junky now as you were when we first got married. And you'll probably still be tearing around the place when you're eighty years old."

"Probably," Jeff agreed. "Anyway, weren't you supposed to be rescuing my papers from our littlest terror?"

"Oh yes!" Lucille exclaimed. "Jeff, stop distracting me! I'll see you later, babe. Love you."

"Love you too, honey." Jeff smiled, feeling like the happiest man in the world. "I'll be back soon."

As the call disconnected, Jeff sighed in satisfaction, settling back in his seat and putting his foot on the accelerator. I'm not a speed-junky. I just like fast cars. And bikes. And planes. And rockets. Okay - maybe I am a speed-junky. Ah well, at least I get to places on time. And besides, I don't drive fast when the kids are in the car. And I never drive fast when Lucy's with me. That's practically a form of suicide. That woman is my heart and soul - but dammit, she scares me when she's mad.

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Eight-year-old Scott knelt in the window-seat as he clutched at the rim of the living-room window, peeking out at the dark night sky. Clad only in a pair of pyjamas - his favourites, the ones covered in tiny little fighter-planes - and his navy-blue robe, Scott waited impatiently for his father's return. Suddenly, two white lights caught his attention as they began to move towards him up the driveway, the street-lamp illuminating the bulky frame of the SUV as it came to a halt near the front door. Scott grinned as the driver's door opened and a familiar figure stepped out into the dim light.

"Mom, Dad's home!" he yelled, before hurtling past the Christmas tree and out of the living-room, sprinting up the hallway and towards the front door. As the handle turned and his father stepped into the house, Scott threw himself at the older Tracy's stomach, wrapping his arms around Jeff's waist and hugging him tightly.

"Whoa!" Jeff laughed, wobbling slightly as he found his movement restricted. "Easy, tiger! Nearly sent me flying, there."

Scott stepped back, looking slightly ashamed as he noticed that his father was holding paper bags filled with groceries.

"Sorry, Dad," he murmured softly, looked up at his father through his eyelashes and leaning his head to the side. Jeff set the bags down on the floor beside the door, unbuttoning his coat and crouching down so that he was at Scott's eye-level.

"C'mere, Sparky," he invited, opening his arms wide. The eight-year-old needed no further invitation, and was hugging his father without a second's hesitation.

"Dad, it's nearly Christmas!" he cried excitedly, putting his arms around his Dad's neck and allowing Jeff to pick him up.

"Is it really, Scotty? Man, you're getting too big for this," he muttered, grunting as he set his son down on the floor again. "What have you been eating - rocks?"

Scott giggled, shaking his head. "No. Mom said that you didn't eat vegetables when you were younger, so you can't lift as much stuff as Dr. Palmar."

Jeff frowned slightly. "When did you're mom say that?" he asked, wondering why Lucy would make such a bizarre - and blatantly untrue - comment.

"I didn't wanna eat my vegetables at dinner," Scott explained confidently. "And Mom said that she wanted me to eat all of them 'cause she didn't want me to grow up as wussy as you."

Jeff gave an outraged cry, grabbing Scott around the middle and pulling him towards his chest, tickling his midriff. "Well you can tell your mom," he growled playfully, as the boy giggled and tried to wriggle away. "That I'm the strongest guy in she's ever met."

"Really?" Scott asked, gasping for breath as Jeff paused in his torture.

"Really," Jeff confirmed, straightening up and giving Scott a playful swat. He bent down to pick up the grocery bags, before heading down the hallway and towards the kitchen, by-passing his study and the music room as he went.

"Stronger than Dr. Palmar?" Scott pressed, jogging along at Jeff's side energetically. Jeff paused, thinking momentarily.

"Well," he began, before looking into Scott's admiring face. "We'll have to check that another time, I'm not really sure," he finished evasively, stepping into the kitchen and setting the bag down on the counter. Glancing around and sniffing the air, he smiled appreciatively.

"Did your mom bake cookies?" he asked, taking off his coat and setting it down beside the bags. Scott nodded his head, leaning against the side of the counter and watching as his father moved about the kitchen.

"Uh-huh. Virge wants to make sure 'Santa' has some fresh cookies when he comes tonight," the boy explained, grinning. Jeff looked up from where he had been taking a jug of lemonade out of the fridge, and shared a knowing look with his eldest son. Scott had realised almost a year ago that Jeff was the one who filled up their stockings at night.

"Well, I guess that 'Santa' is just gonna hafta wait until later to have a cookie, then," Jeff sighed, spotting the plate of goodies on the table. "Hey Scott, d'you think your mom would notice if I nicked one?"

Scott nodded again. "She's Mom," he stated, by way of an explanation. "She knows everything."

"Why thank you, baby."

The two male Tracy's spun around to face the kitchen doorway, where Lucille Tracy stood with her hands upon her hips, a bright smile on her face. She strode into the room, by-passing Jeff completely as she swept over to the work-table. Picking up a cookie off the plate, she held it out to her eldest son.

"Here you go, Scotty," she cooed. "Since you've been Mommy's little helper this evening, I figured you deserved a treat."

Scott grinned and shot Jeff a look that said 'Hah! I win, you lose', reaching out to take the cookie and allowing his mother to plant a kiss on his cheek. Jeff blinked in mild surprise, musing over the fact that his eight-year-old son seemed to become more of a teenager with every passing day. It was a frightening realisation.

"Thanks, Mom." Scott took a bite, sighed in exaggerated bliss, then swallowed, looking over at his father. "Hey Mom, aren't you gonna let Dad have one?" he asked innocently.

"No, we need to save the rest for 'Santa'," Lucy replied, trying to hide her smirk as she emphasised the word. Scott giggled and took another bite of cookie, his twinkling eyes returning to where his father stood beside the sink. Jeff stuck his tongue out at his son and pulled a face.

"Jeff, stop being rude," Lucy scolded, reaching up to retrieve a glass from the cupboard. Taking the jug of lemonade that Jeff still held in his hands, she poured him a glass and returned the pitcher to its place in the fridge.

"Sorry, Mom," Jeff deadpanned. Scott giggled again, nearly choking on a mouthful of cookie. Jeff shot him a mild look.

"Are you laughing at me, Scott?" he asked gravely. "Because that is strictly against the law. And I will be forced to do horrible things to you if you've broken the law."

"Jeff, stop it. You'll give him nightmares." Putting her arms around his neck, Lucy sighed in content, snuggling up against his side and resting her head on his shoulder.

"Mom, I'm not a baby!" Scott complained, stomping his foot as he tried to defend his maturity. "I don't get nightmares any more. And even if I did, they still wouldn't be about things like- Eew, yuk! That's gross!"

Scott covered his eyes with his hand and turned away as Jeff bent down to kiss Lucille tenderly on the lips. At Scott's over-dramatic retching noises, Jeff came up for air and rolled his eyes, keeping an arm around his wife as he took a casual sip of lemonade.

"What's the matter, Scotty?" he asked mildly, sharing an evil grin with his partner. Scott peeped out from in between his fingers, breathing a sigh of relief when he realised that the romantic interactions had ceased.

"All that lovey-dovey stuff is gross," he stated, eyeing his parents with disapproval. "D'you hafta do it all the time?"

Jeff nodded, the grin still plastered on his face. "Get used to it, short-stuff. When you get married, you're gonna be doing the exact same thing."

The look on Scott's face told Jeff that his eldest son clearly thought him mentally insane. With another shake of his head, Jeff tipped the glass back and emptied its contents in several large gulps. Sighing in satisfaction, he placed the glass in the sink behind him and leaned over to kiss his wife's cheek. Scott made another retching noise, and Jeff contemplated kissing Lucy again, just to wind the boy up. However, another small voice interrupted his plans.

"Daddy?"

Looking up, Jeff smiled when he spotted his six-year-old son - dressed in his space-themed pyjamas - standing in the doorway. Lucille had bought him about six pairs of a similar design, since John was always happiest when he was close to his beloved stars.

"Hey, baby." Facing her son, Lucille smiled, detaching her arm from around Jeff's midriff and moving over to the door. Putting a hand to John's forehead, she pulled him closer to her side for a gentle hug. "Are you feeling any better?"

Jeff frowned slightly. Was John sick? This was the first he had heard about it. Bending down slightly, he opened his arms towards his second-eldest, smiling as the young boy scampered over for a hug.

"Hey, kiddo," Jeff greeted, picking John up and sitting him down on the counter, resting his hands on John's legs. "What's the matter, hmm? Weren't you feeling too good today?"

As John shook his head, Lucille came to stand beside Jeff, reaching out to brush a stray lock of blond hair away from John's forehead. "He had a bit of a fever earlier on this afternoon, didn't you, Johnny? But it seems to have gone now. Does your head still ache, sweetie?"

John shook his head. "Not any more, Mommy. Virge and Gordy were good and didn't make lots of noise when I was tryin' to sleep."

"That's good," Lucille smiled, before glancing over at the clock on the wall. "Speaking of which, it's time I put a certain young man to bed."

Seeing that it was nearly seven-fifteen already, Jeff smiled. "I'll do it, if you like. You know how excitable Gordy gets on bath-night."

Lucille raised an eyebrow, but merely reached up to peck him on the cheek. "Thanks, Jeff," she smiled. "But I'd change out of your suit first. You know what Gordon's like with water. He'll cause a tidal wave, more likely as not."

Jeff grinned. "I'm sure I can handle it," he replied smoothly, pushing himself away from the counter. "Where abouts is he?"

Suddenly, a loud 'thunk' and an almighty wail resounded from upstairs. Lucille pushed Jeff towards the door and turned to fuss over John.

"Oh, just follow the sounds of death and destruction," she stated lightly, rubbing noses with John affectionately as the young boy giggled. "And you should find yourself in Virgil's room. Now step on it, speedy, before you're two youngest sons try to kill each other."

As another loud cry floated from one of the floors above, Jeff let out a resigned sigh and strode swiftly from the kitchen. Walking down the hallway and towards the staircase, Jeff ascended them two at a time, being careful not to dislodge the long string of tinsel that had been spiralled around the banister. His feet hardly made a sound as they padded up the carpeted steps to the second floor of the house, where he could hear the distinct sound of distressed children. By-passing Scott's bedroom, Jeff stepped up to Vigil's doorway, wincing at the level of noise that came from within the bedroom as an almost war-like cry echoed through the wood. Pushing the door open, he leaned against the wooden frame and peered into the room, immediately hiding a smirk at the scene that met his eyes.

All of Virgil's stuffed toys had been piled into the centre of the room in front of the bed, along with Virgil's Spider-Man duvet and pillows. The boy himself stood balanced on the edge of his mattress, arms outstretched as though attempting to fly. Virgil was grinning like a Cheshire cat, his eyes sparkling in excitement as he bent his knees in preparation to jump. At the last moment, he spotted his father, and the grin on his face widened to infinite proportions.

"Daddy!" he grinned. "Look at me! I'm flying!"

Then without further ado - other than to let out a gleeful "Weeee!" - Virgil launched himself off the edge of the bed and onto the soft mound in front of him. There was a soft 'flump' as he landed, nowhere near as loud as the noise that had been heard from downstairs, and then Virgil was on his feet again. Red-faced and excited, he ran straight into Jeff's legs, hugging them tightly.

"Daddy! It's nearly Christmas!" he yelled happily. Jeff laughed, bending down to scoop up the four-year-old and settle him on his hip.

"Is it?" he asked, feigning shock. "Nobody told me!"

Virgil giggled, planting a kiss on Jeff's shoulder. "You're silly, Daddy."

Jeff opened his mouth to say something else, but was cut off when an almighty 'bang', followed by a loud wail, could be heard from somewhere in the room. Jeff glanced around for any sign of his other son, frowning slightly when his search came up with nothing.

"Virgil, where's your brother?" he asked, as the 'bang' sounded again.

"In the closet," Virgil replied calmly. Jeff looked at him incredulously, before setting him down on the floor and striding over to the built-in closet on the far wall. Pulling open the sliding door, he revealed Gordon's tear-streaked face amongst a pile of clothes and toys.

"Daddy!" the copper-haired tot wailed, throwing up his small arms towards his father. Jeff immediately reached out to extract his youngest child from the closet, picking him up and hugging him close.

"Gordy, what were you doing in there, huh?" Jeff asked softly, bouncing the two-year-old up and down soothingly. He kissed Gordon's forehead, extracting a hand from around the small form so that he could brush away the tears.

Gordon let loose a long string of sobbed nonsense, burying his head in Jeff's shoulder and pointing an accusing finger at his older brother, who stood rather guiltily beside his father's leg. Jeff just about managed to grasp the words "Virgie", "meanie" and "closet" in the rush of muffled words. Jeff turned to look down at Virgil, raising a questioning eyebrow as he gently rubbed Gordon's back.

"What happened, Virge?" Jeff asked with a small sigh, moving to sit down on the edge of the boy's bed. Virgil stayed where he was, looking at the floor and scuffing at the carpet with his sock-clad foot. Jeff began to suspect that whatever Virgil had done, he wasn't going to like it.

"Virgil?" he prompted, putting on his no-nonsense tone of voice. He crooked a finger, beckoning his son closer, and Virgil shuffled ever so slowly towards him. Gordon snuggled into Jeff's shoulder, turning his head towards Virgil long enough to shoot his older brother a hurt glare, before settling back down in Jeff's lap and reaching out to play with the buttons on his shirt.

Jeff smiled down at the young boy, before returning his attention to the older brown-haired child. Virgil stood with his hands on Jeff's knee, peering up at his father with those all-too-adorable honey-burnt eyes.

"We was only playin' hide an' seek," he explained softly. Jeff raised another eyebrow.

"Then why weren't you looking for him when I came in?" he asked evenly, a hint of disapproval in his voice. Virgil's eyes began to fill with tears, as his bottom lip trembled pitifully. Jeff swallowed. Man, he hated it when his kids cried. Lucy was right, he was way too soft.

"I - he - he kept ruinin' my - my thingy," Virgil whispered, his voice taking on it's usual note of sadness - the one that all but broke Jeff's heart when he heard it. The boy pointed a finger at the pile of soft materials on the floor, giving an almighty sniff and drawing an arm across his face. "I didn't mean to ma-make him cry."

"Virgil, did you push your brother in the closet?" Jeff asked seriously, although inwardly he was laughing a Virgil's resourcefulness. Smart kid. Wish I could do that to some of my clients on occasions. No, stop it, Jeff. You're supposed to be teaching your kids to behave, not congratulating them on their disobedience.

Virgil nodded his head slowly, looking up at Jeff with those big eyes. "M'sorry, Daddy," he croaked, a single tear trickling down his face. Jeff crumbled.

"You were very naughty to push Gordy in the closet, Virgil," he stated, nudging his youngest son gently to stop him from nodding off. "So you need to say sorry to him for making him cry, alright?"

Virgil sniffed again and nodded, reaching up to give Gordon's head a wet kiss.

"Sorry, Gordy," he mumbled. "I was mean. I shouldn't'a pushed you in the closet. Wanna cuddle?"

Jeff smiled fondly as Gordon nodded, wriggling off Jeff's lap so that he could plop down onto the floor and throw his chubby little arms around Virgil clumsily. Virgil returned the hug gently, before patting Gordon's head and wiping away the last of his tears.

"Virgie?" Jeff called softly. "C'mere."

Virgil came to stand between his father's legs, looking up at Jeff with only a small amount of hesitation. Jeff smiled at him, leaning forward to kiss his forehead and ruffle his hair. As Virgil smiled happily, he pressed the boy's nose with his index finger.

"No more pushing your brothers into closets, okay?" he warned. Virgil shook his head.

"I won't be bad again, Daddy," he promised. "I'm really, really, really, really sorry. Honest!"

Jeff grinned at his son's enthusiasm. Turning him towards the door, he gave him a gentle shove. "Alight, kiddo, go play with your older brothers downstairs whilst I put Gordon to bed."

Virgil looked over at him in confusion, his eyes darting towards the pile in the middle of the floor. "I don't hafta clean my room?" he asked, surprised.

Jeff glanced over at the mound of materials,his way-too-soft side battling against the 'Lucy-voice' in his head. Ah, what the heck. It's Christmas. The kid was only trying to have a bit of fun. Lucy doesn't need to know about this.

Putting on another smile, Jeff shook his head. "Nah, it's okay, buddy," he stated. "I'll tidy this lot up before you go to bed. Remember, you get to stay up a little bit later tonight because it's Christmas Eve."

Virgil's face lit up. "Thank-oo Daddy!" he grinned, before running for the door as fast as his feet could carry him.

Jeff shook his head, grinning. The only reason he ever let the kids stay up late on Christmas Eve was so that he would be sure that they were fast asleep when he entered their rooms to fill up their stockings. With Virgil and Gordon still adamantly believing in Santa - well, Gordon to a lesser extent, as he didn't fully understand the concept of Christmas - Jeff wanted to be sure that neither child would awaken whilst he was giving them their presents. Man, that would be a hard situation to explain himself out of. Grimacing at the thought, he ran a hand through his hair and glanced over to his left so that he could mention the word 'bathtime' to Gordon - only to realise that his youngest child was no longer there.

A sudden loud crash from down the hallway alerted him to the fact that his son was on the move again. Jumping to his feet, all thoughts of peace forgotten, Jeff made his way swiftly out of the room.

It was time for the battle to commence.

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Jeff descended the stairs slowly, drying his damp hair with a towel. Never had he known a boy to have the ability to splash quite like Gordon. Furthermore, Gordon was practically the opposite to every other two-year-old that Jeff had ever known; getting him into the tub was as easy as pi, it was getting him back out again that was the major struggle. How had he come to produce such a strange child? He was sure that his genes had no crossovers with fish. But Gordon was most definitely an aquatic creature of some kind.

Hearing voices coming from within the living-room, Jeff dropped the towel from his head so that it settled around his shoulders, leaning against the doorway of the living-room and smiling at the scene within. Lucille sat on the large red couch at the far end of the room, Scott and John on either side of her as Virgil sat on her lap. She was reading aloud from her grandmother's 'Old Classics' book, and Jeff smiled as he heard the words.

"'Twas the night before Christmas," Lucille read softly. "And all through the house; not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

Jeff stood there and listened as his wife continued to read to their children, grinning as he noticed how Virgil had already started to drift off, his small hands clutching lightly onto his mother's blue pullover. And Lucy herself seemed to be the personification of perfection - at least in Jeff's eyes. Her blond hair fell around her shoulders, a few stray wavy locks hanging lightly down the side of her face. Her warm smile seemed to add a cosy glow to the festively decorated room, bringing with it a feeling that no amount of money or fame could have bought him. Her blue eyes sparkled in the dim light, and her gentle voice washed over Jeff like waves of pure bliss. Oh yes, everything was perfect.

As Lucille closed the book on her lap and handed it to Scott, Jeff pushed himself away from the door frame and walked quietly towards his family. Smiling at Scott as the eight-year-old shuffled over to make room for him, he took a seat beside his wife and sighed in content

"Have a nice swim?" she asked him lightly, rolling her head to the side to look at his damp hair. Jeff shot her a mock-glare, before smiling as Virgil clambered across to sit on his knee, suddenly seeming wide awake.

"Hi Daddy! Did you put Gordy to bed?" Virgil gushed, not giving his father a chance to respond. "And did you have a nice party at work, Daddy? Did you see lots of people? Did it snow? Was there a big tree at the rest'ront? And guess what, Daddy, guess what!"

Jeff couldn't help but chuckle at his son's enthusiasm. "What, Virgie?" he inquired, bouncing the boy up and down on his knee.

"Daddy, we saw a Rudolf a 'da store today!" Virgil exclaimed proudly. Scott let out a laugh.

"It's called a reindeer, Virge," he stated matter-of-factly. "Duh! Don't they teach you anything in playgroup?"

"Scott," Jeff warned softly, locking his eyes with his son meaningfully. Scott dropped his gaze with a mumbled apology, and Jeff his another smirk. Scott had meant no real harm with his comment, but Virgil was only four. Kids at that age were very easily offended.

"Daddy," Virgil said suddenly, his face serious.

"Yes, son?" Jeff inquired. Virgil frowned, looking thoughtful, before glancing over at the fireplace, where an electrical fake-fire was 'lit'.

"Daddy, you gotta build a chimney," Virgil announced. Jeff felt Lucille begin to shake with silent laughter as he fumbled for the correct response to his son's request. Unable to come up with anything just yet, he instead opted for questioning the boy further.

"Why's that, kiddo?" Jeff asked, wondering if he was going to later regret doing so.

"We need a chimney, 'cause Santa needs to get into 'da house," Virgil explained. "And if he can't come in, then we don't get no presents, right?"

Jeff sent a pointed look towards Scott, who seemed ready to break the truth to his younger brother. At the stare, Scott deflated again, pouting moodily and crossing his small arms over his chest. Jeff rolled his eyes and returned his attention to Virgil once more.

"Well, Virge, Santa doesn't need a chimney," he stated. Virgil frowned.

"Yes he does," the four-year-old countered adamantly, crossing his arms over his chest and unknowingly mirroring Scott's position.

"No, he doesn't," Jeff replied patiently, smiling as Virgil's eyes flashed.

"Does too!" the four-year-old cried, fixing his father with a suspicious glare. "That's what the book said when- when Mommy read it last night!"

"He's got you there, Jeff," Lucille murmured, clearly enjoying the power she had over her husband at this point in time. Jeff turned his head towards her and stuck out his tongue. Lucille just smirked triumphantly.

"Virgie, Santa doesn't need to use the chimney 'cause he's got a spare key," Scott explained, nudging Jeff in the ribs non-too-gently. "Right Dad?"

Jeff was grateful for his son's quick thinking, and sent him a warm smile. "That's right, Scotty," he agreed. "Santa has the spare key to our front door. So there's no need for us to get a chimney for him, see?"

The light of understanding dawned in Virgil's eyes. "Oh," he said softly. "Okay."

Jeff grinned, reaching up to ruffle his son's hair gently. "C'mon, sport, bedtime," he stated, as Virgil yawned widely.

"M'not tired," the child replied, his words muffled as his head began to droop. Jeff shared a knowing look with his wife, before standing up with Virgil in his arms, balancing the boy on his hip. Virgil's smaller arms came up and around his neck, clinging to him loosely.

"Let's go, kiddo," Jeff smiled. "It's Christmas tomorrow, and you're gonna need lots of energy. So it's off to bed with you."

"But I wanna make sure that the cookies are still on the plate," Virgil complained wearily, pulling away slightly and giving Jeff a pathetic little pout. Jeff grinned.

"You and Mommy left out the milk and cookies for Santa, huh?" he inquired. Virgil nodded.

"Uh-huh. And a carrot for Rudolf," he replied, before letting out another huge yawn.

Jeff smiled. "I'm sure Santa will appreciate it," he remarked, kissing Virgil's forehead and turning towards the door.

Lucille suddenly stood up off the couch and extended her arms to Jeff. "I'll take him," she stated. "You already got to put Gordon to bed. My turn."

Jeff raised an incredulous eyebrow, but handed his second-youngest child over to his mother. "How come you get the easy kid?" he grumbled good-naturedly. "Do you realise how energetic Gordon is?"

Lucille pulled a face at her husband, adjusting her grip on Virgil's small frame. "Yes, Jeff, of course I do. I happen to be the one who takes care of him all day. And trust me, his battery was on 'low' this evening. Just wait until he gets his hands on the candy tomorrow."

Jeff frowned at the disturbing thought, but made no further comment, instead moving to sit back down between his two sons on the couch. As Lucille walked towards the door, she glanced back over her shoulder and smiled warmly.

"John, honey, you can stay up for another twenty minutes, okay?" she stated affectionately. "And then it's bedtime for you, too."

John nodded obediently. "Okay, Mommy."

Lucille's smile widened. "Good boy. Oh, and Jeff? Make sure you give him another dose of Tylenol before he goes to bed, just in case his fever comes back."

Jeff nodded his head, grinning at Scott before turning back towards his wife. "Okay, Mommy," he said sweetly. John and Scott both giggled, and Lucille sent him a look that said 'I'll deal with you later'.

Jeff grinned triumphantly. Jackpot.

As Lucille left the room with Virgil, Jeff felt a small finger poke him in the side. John's hopeful face stared up at him.

"Yes, Johnny?" he prompted, putting an arm around the boy. John inched closer to his side, dropping his voice to a whisper.

"Daddy, can me and Scotty have a choc'lit from the tree?" he asked, practically batting his eyelids as he gazed up at his father with those adorable blue orbs. Jeff smiled slightly. John was quite fond of chocolate. It was rather a surprise to both the Tracy parents that their six-year-old son was still as thin as a rake.

"Have you already asked your mom?" Jeff inquired, knowing his son's tactics all too well. John's face fell slightly, and he nodded. Jeff raised an eyebrow. "And what did she say?"

"She said it was too close to bedtime," he huffed, as though such a statement was completely outrageous.

Jeff grinned, making a show of looking left and right before bending down close to John's ear. "Just one," he whispered. "And not a word to your mother."

John's eyes lit up, and he leaped from the couch, grabbing Scott by the arm and yanking him over to the tree. Jeff chuckled, sinking further back into the couch cushions and pushing the towel off his shoulders, allowing it to fall to the floor. He'd pick it up later. He was far too comfortable at the moment. The odours of the sweet-smelling pine tree filled his nostrils as he inhaled deeply, the hint of cookies and cinnamon apples lacing the air with warmth. Oh boy, he was content. With the two terrors in bed, he'd be able to enjoy a nice, relaxing-

Flump!

Something soft hit Jeff in the centre of his chest, and his eyes snapped open, staring around the room. There was no sign of his sons, and it was far too quiet. Something was terribly wrong with the whole scene. Looking down at his feet, he spotted a red cushion sitting squarely beside his shoe. Deciding that he'd best not let his guard down until his sons had reappeared, Jeff leaned his head back against the cushions, pretending to close his eyes. Through the thin slits, he saw two heads emerge from behind the couch on the other side of the room, wearing identical grins. He had to fight to keep a smirk from appearing on his own face. So that's what they're up to.

As he watched, Scott picked up another of the small cushions from the couch, before raising over his head and tossing it as hard as he could in Jeff's direction. Using the lightening-quick reflexes that every father acquires through both necessity and practice, Jeff reached out and caught the cushion in both hands, opening his eyes and grinning manically at his young children. John began to giggle, and Scott tried - and failed - to look apologetic.

"Sorry, Daddy," he murmured 'guiltily'. Jeff raised an eyebrow, before standing up slowly, still clutching at the cushion.

"Boys," he began formally, adopting a defensive stance. "This means war."

And with those words, madness broke out in the Tracy living room.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Jeff sighed in relief as the movie ended, turning his head to the side and nuzzling Lucille's neck.

"The things I endure for you," he began dramatically. Lucille turned to him and frowned, holding up the DVD case and waving it in front of his face. The words 'Little Women' were alarmingly close to Jeff's eyeballs, and he blinked, pushing it away.

"It's a classic, Jeff," Lucille stated, throwing the box to the side and wrapping her arms around her husband's neck. "You can't tell me that you didn't enjoy it."

"Oh yes I can," Jeff answered, shaking his head as he grinned. Lucille slapped his shoulder gently.

"C'mon, it was romantic, and cute, and cuddley, and sweet," she teased, running a hand through his hair and snuggling closer to his side.

Jeff surprised her by kissing her passionately on the lips, his hands cupping her face. As they pulled away, breathing heavily, he gazed into her sparkling blue eyes and smiled. "You're even sweeter," he stated.

Lucille was about to reply, when the clock on the wall chimed, signalling that it was eleven o'clock. Jeff grinned, jumping to his feet and extending a hand down to his wife. At her frown, he rolled his eyes.

"C'mon, Luce, 'Santa' has to do his rounds," he grinned, grabbing hold of her wrist and pulling her upright. Then without further comment, he yanked her out of the living room and into the kitchen, softly humming a Christmas tune under his breath.

"Ho-Ho-Ho!" he cried, spinning her around in the air by her waist. She laughed softly, pulling at Jeff's hands.

"Let me go, you moron!" she whispered, her grin almost as big as Jeff's. "You're gonna wake the kids!"

Setting her down again, Jeff walked over to the counter, jumping up to sit beside the plate and glass that Virgil had left there for 'Santa'. Two perfect cookies sat on the plate, along with a note in Lucille's handwriting that said, "Supposedly the property of Santa Claus. However, one cookie belongs to the Mrs."

Laughing, Jeff set the note down and picked up a cookie, beckoning for Lucille to come over to him. When she was close enough to reach, Jeff grabbed hold of her hand and pulled her close, breaking off a piece of cookie and popping it in her mouth.

"To Mrs. Claus," he stated, raising the glass of milk in a toast to his wife. Lucille covered her mouth as she snorted in amusement, chewing on her mouthful of cookie. Jeff drained the glass quickly, before setting it down and picking up his own cookie. He looked at his with his head cocked to the side, studying the snowman-shaped treat.

"Die, Frosty," he mumbled, before promptly biting the snowman's head off.

Lucille looked at him with a raised eyebrow, reaching out towards the plate and picking up the rest of her cookie. "You're such a child."

"Aw, c'mon, Luce," he whined. "It's nearly Christmas! Gimme a break."

Lucille leaned against the counter and regarded him mildly. "I already have given you a break this evening," she replied evenly. "When you forgot to tidy up a certain four-year-old's bedroom. Muggins the mug was left to do it."

Jeff clapped a hand to his forehead, remembering the mess in Virgil's room that he had promised to sort out. Smiling sheepishly at his wife, he swallowed his mouthful and batted his eyelids. "Sorry, Muggins."

Lucille retaliated by stealing the last of his cookie.

"You need to save room for the carrot, Rudolf," she reminded him, grinning evilly. Jeff frowned.

Sometimes, he mused, being a popular flying, furry mammal wasn't half as fun as most people would expect it to be.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Thump!

Jeff muffled a yelp, dropping the stocking on the floor and clutching at his bruised foot, resisting the urge to hop up and down. Glaring at the floor, he spotted the offending item upon which he had stubbed his toe. A box of toy cars sat innocently in front of him, the metallic surface of the objects glinting maliciously in the light of the open doorway. Jeff's eyes narrowed. If you've gone and woken Scotty up, there'll be hell to pay.

Glancing over at the silent form on the bed, Jeff sighed in relief. Although Scott didn't believe in Santa any more, it still would have been an unfortunate occurrence for the boy to have woken up. Knowing Scott, he would've been too excited to go back to sleep, and then he'd be fit for nothing on Christmas day. No, it was better that the eight-year-old got a full night's sleep. Jeff would just have to put up with his hyper behaviour the following morning. After all, Christmas came but once a year.

Besides, he's not gonna be anything close to hyper in comparison with Tom. Man, that guy's so much fun at Christmas. I'm just glad that his rotations fell either side of Christmas, since he hasn't been on earth for the 25th in over six years. He's almost always spent Christmas on the space station ever since he started the job. Tomorrow's gonna be great. Sure, we'll drive Lucy mad, but hey! It's Christmas. I'm sure she'll let me get away with it just this once. I just hope she likes the necklace and earrings I bought for her. Thomas recommended them, and he knows what ladies like. Must be 'cause he's dated so many of them during his free time, the old dog.

Hanging the stocking carefully at the end of Scott's bed, Jeff straightened up and regarded his sleeping son with a fond smile. He could hardly believe that another year had already gone by. His boys were growing up so fast. Even baby Gordon was getting bigger - and he wasn't even a baby anymore, come to think of it. He was two. Two! When did that happen? Man, I'm getting old. I'm thirty! My gosh, I'll be dead soon. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was asking Lucy to marry me? And then her parents freaked out. Poor Luce. I don't blame her for having moved away after college. If my parents had tried to control my life like that, I probably would've left home, too. Well, I guess I kinda did. I went up into space. But I did it with my parents backing me up the whole time. Man, Dad was so proud when I completed my six-month junior astronaut training. I only took it so that I could take the shuttle-ride up to the station and work as an engineer. But still, I've never seen him smile so much before.

Jeff sighed, stepping carefully over the box on the floor and heading towards the source of light. Stepping out into the dimly-lit hallway, he pulled the door closed behind him, leaning against the wall and smiling. Mission accomplished.

Unable to resist the temptation, he crept along to Gordon's bedroom again, opening the door and peering inside. Gordon lay on his front on the small bed, the duvet twisted around his legs as he lay precariously close to the edge of the mattress. Jeff rolled his eyes. Not ten minutes ago, he had entered Gordon bedroom to deliver his stocking, and had adjusted his son's position on the bed. But it appeared that, in true Gordon fashion, the young child had somehow managed to wriggle his way out from under the duvet and towards the edge of the mattress once again.

Grinning and shaking his head, Jeff stepped into the room. A loud 'ping!' almost made him jump out of his skin in surprise, and he looked down to find one of Gordon's toys lying next to his foot. Pushing it aside carefully, Jeff sighed again. Oh well, at least I didn't stub my- Ouch!

His shin connected solidly with the frame of the small bed, and he bit back a curse, gritting his teeth and exhaling slowly through his nostrils. Dammit! Clumsy oaf. Oh well, at least this proves that pride certainly does come before the fall.

Reaching down, he carefully moved Gordon closer to the centre of the bed, extracting the duvet from around his legs and draping it over the form carefully. Gordon grunted and stirred, his breathing patterns changing as he brought up a hand and rubbed his eyes, before rolling back onto his side and putting a thumb in his mouth. Jeff smiled at him fondly, gently running a hand over the soft copper hair.

"Goodnight, tiger," he whispered, leaning down to plant a tender kiss on Gordon's forehead. Gordon responded with a gentle snore, and Jeff's grin widened. His children were so adorable when they were asleep. Judging from Gordon's angelic appearance as he slumbered, you would never be able to guess how much of a terror he was in daylight.

Jeff stood up, making his way back over to the door, taking care not to tread on anything as he felt through the semi-darkness with his feet. Christmas was a wonderful time of year and all, but did it have to result in so many stubbed toes?

Pulling the door closed behind him, Jeff rubbed a hand across his face and yawned. Man, it's been a long day. But it's not even midnight yet. I guess having four lively boys can really drain a guy. But it's worth every minute I spend with them. I wonder if Lucy would think of having another. Sure, four boys is quite a handful and all, but still - the more the merrier? Nah, I don't think she'll buy that argument. Except she has hinted that she'd like a girl. Well, it's not like I can pick and choose the gender. Sure, I'm the one that hands over the deciding chromosome, but I can't select which one it is. Oh my gosh - I'm actually thinking about high school biology on Christmas Eve! That's totally wrong.

Shaking his head, he made his way to the end of the hallway, pushing open his bedroom door. It was dark, and the sound of Lucille's heavy and steady breathing filled the otherwise silent room. Jeff smiled, taking off his robe and draping it over a chair beside the dresser. Walking over to their king-sized bed, he pulled back the covers on his side, sliding beneath the duvet and settling back against the pillows beside his wife. He rolled over onto his side, sliding an arm over Lucille's hip and kissing her forehead, breathing in the sweet scent of her bath soaps and shampoo.

He gazed at her for a moment, drinking in the small but wonderful details of her fair face, his thumb brushing lightly over the silk of her pyjamas. He smiled lovingly, before closing his eyes and settling down, his and Lucille's foreheads still touching lightly. The warmth of her body spread through the duvet and encased him in a bubble of content. Sighing happily, he allowed every muscle to relax, his cup of joy overflowing within him. Oh yes, Jeff Tracy loved this time of year.

Opening his eyes again and glancing over his wife's head at the digital clock on the bedside table, he blinked, remarking to himself that his timing had been spot-on. He watched the clock silently for several seconds, waiting for the right moment. Then as the numbers changed from '23:59' to '00:00', he grinned, nuzzling at his wife's neck lovingly. Every fibre of his being completely satisfied, he closed his eyes again and whispered the words that came from his heart as he drifted off to sleep.

"Goodnight, Mrs. Claus."

- The End -


Ta-daa! That was Little Miss Bump's first ever one-shot. I told you it was random. It seemed to encompass all my warm and fuzzy feelings about Christmas, even if it had no direct plot. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading it. Please feel free to REVIEW, so that I know whether or not I'm a half-decent one-shot writer. Having only written multi-chaptered stories, I haven't really tried anything like this before on fanfiction. What did you think of it?

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas,

God Bless,

Little Miss Bump xoxoxoxoxox