Christmas Shoes

Short Summary: It is Christmas Eve, the weather is bad, and Alice decides Jasper needs new shoes.

Song: Christmas Shoes

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Author does not own the song, or any public/recognizable characters, including those from Twilight, by S. Meyer

"Jazz," Alice calls from within our bedroom.

"Yeah, Alice?" I mumble through a mouthful of toothpaste. I lean against the door frame between the bathroom and the bedroom so that I can hear her better as she is in our closet getting our outfits together for tonight.

Alice pops out of the closet and states, "You need new shoes for tonight."

I shake my head turning back into the bathroom to spit out the toothpaste and rinse my mouth. I hope she isn't planning on us going out today to get shoes. I am tired and just want to relax with the family tonight, you know, enjoy my little time off. Work has been brutal. The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but throw in a mental illness or grief and they can become unbearable. For that reason, business picks up more starting in November and often lasting into the New Year. We hear from patients we released six months or more ago, because they need a little extra help during this "happy" season. And no matter how hard a psychologist tries to keep themselves separate from their patients' problem, even the best of them can feel down after hearing their struggles. Plus, I have been working extra hours to see all my patients so that I could get a few days off for the holidays. This year I was lucky to be able to clear my schedule for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day; though, I am on call.

Walking out of the bathroom and over to Alice who is back rummaging through the closet, I ask, "Why?" She turns towards me. "If you thought I needed new shoes why didn't you pick them up when you picked up your dress last week in Port Angeles?"

"I didn't think you needed new shoes last week. Today, I feel like you need new shoes."

"Alice," I sigh, "tonight's not formal. Yes, we dress up some, but no one is going to care if my shoes have a scuff or two. I really don't want to drive all the way to Port Angeles on Christmas Eve." I attempt to give her puppy dog eyes, but apparently I'm not doing it right as she turns towards me with a determined look on her face and her hands balled into fist on her hips.

"Jazz," she states slowly. "you can just go to Thom and Louise's Shoes in town." I quirk an eyebrow at her as the local store isn't typically stocked with her choice of shoes. "Don't look at me that way," she snaps, raising her index finger to point at me. "They have a few decent things, you know. I have even used them in a pinch a time or two. Remember last Fourth of July when Bella broke the heel on her shoe and needed a new pair? Anyways, you really need to get shoes today. Please? For me?" her tone changes at the end as she pleads with those sad puppy dog eyes – darn she's good.

I nod and Alice visibly relaxes. "If it is that important to you, I will go get new shoes," I sigh dramatically as I glance out the window into the pouring rain. The weather is only going to get worse as the temperature continues to drop.

Alice lifts up on of her tiptoes to kiss me chastely on the lips. "Thank you," she murmurs against my lips. She kisses me again before bouncing into the closet.

She hands me my boots as I turn to the dresser to retrieve a sweater. After pulling on the sweater and shoes, I grab my wallet and keys from the bedside table. I go over to the vanity where Alice is sifting through her jewelry and kiss her softly on the cheek. "I'll be back soon. Is there any thing else you need while I'm out?"

She shakes her head. "Nope," she chirps, popping the 'p'. "Shoes are all that's needed." She pauses as I turn to exit, but then exclaims, "Wait! Can you take the tray of cookies to the hospital since it is right around the corner from the shoe store? That way we won't have to stop on the way to your parents' house tonight."

"I thought those cookies were for us, for tonight," I reply, confused as we always take cookies to Mom and Dad's on Christmas Eve and I only saw one tray this morning.

"No. Yes. I mean," she sighs, trying to stop tripping over her tongue. "I made enough cookies for both the hospital and for tonight. I have only plated one set so far. So if you take the one already made in the kitchen I will wrap up the other one while you're gone."

"Okay. I'll take it." I sigh again, resigned that I will be out for longer than I want to be. Honestly, if it was up to me I would be sprawled out on the couch until it was time to leave for the Christmas Eve dinner with the family. I leave the room and walk to the front door grumbling under my breath about the things I do for the woman I love. After donning my jacket, scarf, hat, and gloves, I retrieve the cookie platter from the kitchen.

Ten minutes later, I am walking up to the reception desk at Forks General Hospital. "Jasper Cullen!" I am greeted by the graying, but cheerful nurse behind the desk. With Dad being the Chief of Staff, and a sister-in-law as clumsy as Bella, the family is known by all the staff.

"Merry Christmas, Gloria!" I greet her before placing the tray down on the desk. "Alice has sent Christmas cookies for all who have to work today to enjoy."

"That's so sweet of her. Please tell her thank you very much."

"Will do, ma'am." I dip my head to her and turn to leave. But, before I do, I see Dad strolling through the hall which is decked with holly.

"Dad," I call to him.

"Jasper, son! What are you doing here?" Dad pats me on the shoulder. He looks weighed down, as if carrying a heavy burden.

"Just dropping off cookies. Is everything okay?"

"Oh, the staff will love them," he states absently, looking at the chart in his hands. "Oh, uh, it's nothing. Just worried about a patient is all," Dad adds when he sees my concerned look.

"Okay. I'll see you later tonight. Alice told me I needed to buy shoes."

Dad chuckles lightly. "Alright, son. Be careful; it looks like it's getting nasty out there."

We both stare out the window at the darkening sky and wintery mix for a moment. "You too, Dad." I wave as we go our separate ways.

I rush quickly down the block to the store. Soon, I am standing in the small men's section of Forks' local shoe store. For how small the town is I should be thankful that it has a shoe store. There was no way I would have driven to Port Angeles today. The roads were becoming slick as the rain turned to sleet and I am sure it will soon be ice. I scan the limited selection, find a pair similar to the pair already in my closet (I have no clue really what to buy since Alice does all the shopping), and head to the register to check out. There are several other people in line. I look around at the other customers in the store before I notice the young boy fidgeting in front of me. His scrawny arms are wrapped snugly around a woman's shoebox. I glance around, but he seems to be here by himself. Curious, I strike up a conversation to see if he is really here by himself. When I catch his gaze, I smile and ask, "Are you buying a present for your girlfriend?"

"No, sir," he answers politely, while shaking his head back and forth. "These shoes are for Mama." He opens the box to show them to me. I notice, then, the crumbled bills clutched tightly in his fist.

"Those are very pretty shoes. I'm sure she'll love them."

"I think she'll look real pretty in them," the boy agrees. The line moves and the boy turns back around to step forward.

I glance out the window and see a lady loitering outside under the awning. I smile. I remember when Mom would take my brothers and me shopping for Christmas presents. She would wait outside the store while we went in to purchase her gift so that it could still be a surprise. I am drawn from my memories, when I hear the sales person say, "I'm sorry, son, you don't have enough."

I see a few dollars and coins spread out on the counter and take in the worn and tattered clothes the young boy is wearing. It is the words that come out of his mouth, though, that truly break my heart. "But, sir, I need these shoes. You see, they're for my Mama. She's been sick a long time and I know these shoes will make her happy. I want her to be pretty when she meets Jesus," the boy implores sincerely of the clerk.

Blinking tears from my eyes, I pull out my wallet and lay the cash on the counter to cover the cost of the shoes. The little boy turns to me with a look of awe in his eyes. "Tell your Mama 'Merry Christmas'," I say to him, handing him the shoebox.

The boy politely murmurs, "Thank you, sir," before taking the box from my hands and running from the store.

I numbly pay for my shoes and exit the store. I barely register the drive home – lost in my thoughts of when I had a sick and dying parent. I hope he isn't all alone. I don't know what I would have done after losing my father if it hadn't been for Aunt Esme and Uncle Carlisle taking me in. I shake my head to dislodge the dreary thoughts. I was so young, but they opened their arms and home to me and made me their own. I hope that little boy has a happily ever after in store for him.

I quietly enter the house; slowly, I unwind the scarf from my neck, pull off my hat and gloves, and hang up my jacket in the hall closet. As I step into the kitchen, Alice looks up from the cookies she's plating and smiles lightly at me. "Did you get the shoes?" she asks as she continues to plate the cookies.

I hold up the bag and answer softly, "Yeah."

She nods her head. She glances up at me once again with a knowing look. "Good. Why don't you go change, we need to leave in about twenty minutes."

Moments later, I am in the bedroom removing my jeans, sweater, and shoes to put on the slacks, dress shirt, and Christmas tie Alice picked out for me to wear. I sit on the bed and pull the shoebox out of the bag. I slowly slide the lid off the box. I close my eyes briefly as I remember the little boy's face. He couldn't have been more than eight or nine. The lady I saw outside wasn't his mother and I didn't see his dad. They must be at the hospital. A parent dying is something you try to keep from a boy so young, particularly at Christmas time. So either he is really perceptive or she is so bad off there is no hiding the truth. I'm thankful Alice decided I needed new shoes today.

I am tying the laces as Alice comes into the room. "About ready to go?" she asks as she slips on her heels.

I stand up from the bed and walk over to her. I squeeze her arm gently as I place an adoring kiss on her forehead. "Yes," I breathe. Stepping back to admire her, I reverently whisper, "You look beautiful tonight, my darling. Merry Christmas."

She smiles happily and kisses me on the lips. "Merry Christmas to you." Taking my hand she leads me from the room.

Twenty minutes later we pull into my parents' driveway. I leap from the car and trot around the front to open Alice's door before opening the back door to retrieve the tray of cookies she made. The rain has briefly ceased, but a glance at the sky tells me there will not be a midnight clear tonight. Perhaps a white Christmas is in store for us.

I trail behind Alice through the house and into the kitchen where Mom is putting the finishing touches on dinner. My brothers and their wives are already there taking food and dishes into the dining room. I nod my head in greeting to them as I place the cookies on the kitchen island.

Alice, meanwhile, has rushed to Mom and wrapped her arms around her, squealing, "Merry Christmas, Esme!"

My mom laughs lightly while grabbing a towel to wipe her hands. She returns Alice's embrace and whispers, "Merry Christmas to you, sweetheart."

Alice releases her and Mom steps forward to wrap me gently in her arms. I melt into her warm embrace. "Merry Christmas, Mama."

"Merry Christmas, my darling son." She gives me one last squeeze before releasing me. "Your dad called and he's running a little late."

"Is everything alright?" I ask with concern, remembering the weariness I saw in his eyes when I was at the hospital.

"Yes, dear," she answers, patting me softly on the cheek. "He said that he had a patient that wasn't doing very well and wanted to check on her one last time before heading home. Will you take this pitcher into the dining room?"

We had just finished setting the last dish on the table when we hear the front door open and Dad heartily shout out, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!"

The girls giggle and my brothers and I roll our eyes at Dad's traditional Christmas Eve greeting. Dad enters the dining room to a chorus of Merry Christmases from all of us. I notice the melancholy expression in his eyes, and Mom must too. As she pulls him into a tight hug, I hear her whisper, "Are you okay?"

Dad wraps his arms around Mom's tiny waist and drops his head to her shoulder briefly before looking around the room at his children – not by blood, but by love – with a warm smile. When his eyes land back on Mom he nods his head and then turns her in his arms to guide her to her seat. My brothers and I take this as our cue to seat our wives. After everyone is settled, Dad says the blessing, remembering, in particular, the sick that they may find peace and comfort during this holiday season. My mind is immediately drawn to the little boy in the shoe store and I send up my own silent prayer for him and his family.

Dinner is a joyous occasion with animated conversation. Though I notice Alice is a bit more subdue than normal and I can't quite shake the sadness that has been draped over me since the shoe store. Eventually, the dishes become empty and Emmett finally declares himself full, to which Rose replied, "It's a Christmas miracle!"

As we stand to clear the table, we hear the house phone ring. Dad quickly excuses himself to answer it.

He still hasn't returned by the time we have the table cleared. "Let's go on into the living room for coffee and dessert. Edward, love, will you grab the coffee tray?" Mom directs as Bella picks up one of the trays filled with sweet treats. Alice picks up the platter of cookies and leads the way.

We fix our coffee and each take a treat, or two (or five in Emmett's case), before finding a place around the lighted Christmas tree to sit. Alice and I sit on the couch next to Mom, while Bella and Edward snuggle on the floor and Emmett and Rose curl up together on the loveseat. We leave the overstuffed chair for Dad. There is murmured conversations as we sit in the candlelit room just enjoying the silent night of Christmas.

Shortly, Dad enters the living room. Bella is the first to notice him and asks, "Carlisle, what's wrong?"

Dad walks further into the room; he grabs Mom's hand while sitting next to her on the arm of the couch. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, "That was the hospital. One of my patients died." The women gasp and I pull Alice tightly to my side where she buries her face in my chest. Shaking his head, Dad continues, "I was really hoping she could hold on until after Christmas. She has a young son." He pauses to draw in another deep breath, before continuing, "At least the last time he saw her, she was smiling brightly. He had just bought her a new pair of shoes for Christmas."

Startled by this little fact I stare out of the window where snow has begun to fall. Could this have been the little boy in the shoe store? Did his Mama meet Jesus tonight? Then I remember Alice said that she felt I needed to get shoes today. I rest my head on top of Alice's, pressing a gentle kiss into her hair. The room is silent except for the quiet music playing in the background. I recognize NewSong's Christmas Shoes.

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line.

Trying to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood.

Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously.

Pacing 'round like little boys do,

And in his hands he held a pair of shoes.

And his clothes were worn and old,

He was dirty from head to toe.

And when it came his time to pay,

I couldn't believe what I heard him say.

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please.

It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.

Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time.

You see she's been sick for quite a while,

And I know these shoes will make her smile.

And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.

He counted pennies for what seemed like years.

Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here."

He searched his pockets frantically.

Then he turned and he looked at me.

He said Mama made Christmas good at our house,

Though most years, she just did without.

Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,

Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes.

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out.

And I'll never forget the look on his face when he said,

Mama's gonna look so great.

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please.

It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.

Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time.

You see she's been sick for quite a while,

And I know these shoes will make her smile.

And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love.

As he thanked me and ran out.

I knew that God had sent that little boy,

To remind me, what Christmas is all about.

Sir I wanna to buy these shoes for my Mama, please.

It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.

Could you hurry, Sir?

Daddy says there's not much time.

You see she's been sick for quite a while,

And I know these shoes will make her smile.

And I want her to look beautiful,

If Mama meets Jesus tonight.

I want her to look beautiful,

If Mama meets Jesus tonight.

As we sit quietly, lost in our own thoughts, I look around the room. My eyes a light on each of my family members; I am so very thankful for each of them. Finally, my eyes rest upon the love of my life. Our eyes lock onto each other and we share a smile full of love, devotion, and understanding. Alice places her hand over my heart and leans her head on my shoulder as Dad rises. Kissing Mom on top of her head, he reaches for the family Bible that has been passed from father to son for countless generations. Taking his seat in the overstuffed chair, he begins reading Luke chapter 2.