The Fourteenth Christmas

Rating: T

Song: Winter Wonderland

Summary: It's Christmas 1934, and Alice has been a vampire for fourteen years. She's spent all that time searching for the blonde man without a name. Will what she sees make her believe in Christmas miracles

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

The snow was falling hurriedly, covering the town with its white blanket. Inside their houses, children baked cookies for Santa Claus, their mothers watching approvingly – and occasionally intervening. Grandparents sat comfortably in chairs by the hearth, their timeless eyes remembering past Holidays long gone, from a time when young men and women had been little children in their mothers' laps.

Lights twinkled cheerfully everywhere – on rooftops, over doors and walls, lighting up the winter sky. Parties would be held, and women would attend, glittering like diamonds, the men mere eye-candy to lean on fashionably – but not until the next day. December 24 was all about family.

Alice cocked her head to the side to listen. Somewhere, a Christmas Carol Contest was being held. "Walking in a Winter Wonderland…"

She scoffed. "Walking in a Winter Wonderland indeed"

Alice had only lived for fourteen years as a vampire, and already her eyes were golden. Ever since that first, life-altering vision about the blonde man with caramel-like eyes, Alice had become determined to achieve that same color for herself.

And she had. Not without effort, of course, but little Alice was nothing if not determined. Her frail-looking, petite body was hidden beneath a large fur coat she had stolen from some millionaire's wife's bedroom. Her short, spiky hair refused to be tamed into the sleek looks that were the fashion, and she had decided to cover it with a stylish hat.

If anyone had seen her walking through the empty streets, they would've immediately guessed that she was a supermodel taking a leisurely stroll through the town. But Alice would not have been cheered by the compliment.

Her usually smiling face was frozen in a heart-breaking pout. Frowning like a child who had not gotten her way, Alice trudged through the snow drearily, her mood as foul as the coming weather.

How is this even possible? She fumed silently. I've been looking for him for ages! And I saw him… I saw him right here!

She ran a hand through her black hair, frustrated. And she had, surely, every right to be. It had been a long, long fourteen years for her. Fighting against her very instincts, it had taken all of Alice's newborn strength not to attack people, at first. Day after day she had struggled against the searing thirst, leaving scarred trees and houses in her wake.

The carols from the contest reached her ears once more "…all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games…"

The visions were definitely the worst part, though. Seeing him wandering through state after state, alone, his eyes red and hollow. And when she had visions of him snapping… oh, how she sobbed! Alice hurt for him, too, for the handsome man without a name.

She knew, with all her being, that it wouldn't have been like that if she had been there for him. His existence was so horribly dreary. One week followed another, in a boring succession that stretched on for eternity.

But it doesn't have to be that way! Alice screamed internally. All I have to do is find him! I have to! Why is this so hard?

Oh, it was hard, trailing a vampire. He changed his mind every five seconds. And just when Alice thought she was going to find him… he slipped away. Like sparkling water through her long, slim fingers – she simply could not keep a hold on him! He always managed to evade her, bless his silly heart.

Suddenly, Alice stopped dead in her tracks. The black tint of a vision had crept up on her. Like smoke, it swirled just in the edge of her mind, vanishing if she tried to look at it to closely, slowly advancing until it covered everything.

The creamy-white mansion stood alone in the middle of a forest, warm yellow light emanating from its large windows. Alice felt as if she was peeking from behind one, her eyes trained on the gorgeous scene before her.

A family was crowded into the decorated living room. No, not a family, Alice corrected herself, the family. The one she had been seeing for months. The one she belonged with – but only after she had found the blonde man from her dreams.

She had been seeing them so often, lately, she had finally learned all of their names.

The pretty blonde, she remembered, was Rosalie. Her future sister loved to shop almost as much as Alice did, and she had excellent taste in clothes – but she was broken almost beyond repair. Alice had seen her crying in her room, devastated. Grief and rage were the vampire's constant companions. Her tall, statuesque figure, would crumple into a corner, shaking, scarred.

The mother figure was named Esme. With her wavy, butter-scotch hair and soft eyes, she fretted over her youngest daughter endlessly, trying to alleviate her pain. She had, however, suffered herself. Alice had heard her break down in her husband's arms, once, crying out her dead baby's name, her clear voice shattering the silence.

Edward was the apple of his adoptive parents' eyes. Forever the perfect son, the seventeen-year-old mind reader spent most of his time either playing the piano or locked in his room reading. Alice had had several visions of him listening to records with his modern sound system – he had a whole wall covered with them. How he acquired them, though, she never understood, for the bronze-haired young man rarely left the house.

And last, but not least, was Carlisle. The doctor had a heart the size of his house, if not bigger. Exerting his amazing self-control, he managed to resist human blood even when it was right in front of him. Alice had been shocked when she first saw him performing a surgery. The man was a saint, clearly! She had been unable to believe it.

But today… yes, it was different. The vision had the rapid feel of something that would happen in a matter of seconds. Rosalie's eyes were softer, showing a side of her that the family rarely saw. Esme watched over her family from her place on the sofa, smiling proudly while Edward struggled to light a fire without getting burned in the process. Carlisle laughed merrily at his son's blundering.

"Oh, dear" Esme frowned "Careful, Edward, you'll burn yourself!"

"Don't worry, Mom" He soothed "I've done this a bunch of times"

On the radio, the intro for Winter Wonderland was playing for the millionth time.

Rosalie began singing under her breath "Sleigh bells ring, are you listening…"

Shocked, Edward nearly dropped his matches. Then, Carlisle joined "…in the lane, snow is glistening"

Esme grinned "A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight. Walking in a Winter Wonderland"

"Gone away is the bluebird" Edward sang in his deep baritone, moving towards his piano "Here to stay is a new bird"

Rosalie laughed, interrupting the harmony "God, how cliché. A family singing Christmas carols while the son plays on the piano, the mother knits socks for a charity and the hard-working father grins approvingly"

Esme's needles stopped their clatter "Well, dear, clichés are so for a reason, you know"

"I really don't see" Edward began "What exactly is so terribly cliché about singing vampires"

The family's peals of laughter were the last sounds Alice managed to hear as her vision began fading away.

She sighed dejectedly. Oh, wouldn't it have been grand if she could've found him right then? Or gotten some miraculous vision showing her his exact location? Alice sighed again. She was not one to believe in Christmas miracles – not right then, at least. She was in quite a foul mood.

Alice resumed her walking. In the house beside her, a woman burst into laughter, startling her. Snow had gathered on her eyelashes, frozen, and she swiped her hand across her eyes, pretending she was wiping away hot tears of rage.

The tiny woman jumped up and brushed her hand against the icicles fringing a closed store's roof. They dropped and shattered on the hard, wet ground with an almost musical sound. How cold it was! Alice knew it, though her vampire body was too frozen to feel it. A man passed her on the street, his cheeks and nose bright red, heart thumping loudly. Venom pooled in her mouth and she had to spit it out.

What a merry Christmas this is! Alice told herself. And what a dreadful new year it'll be! Unless… maybe…

Was that black she saw? Yes, another vision, and Alice welcomed it with open arms. She barely had time to sit on someone's doorstep before being wrapped in it entirely.

The alley was dark and gloomy. He was hidden deep inside it, crouching against the corner, keeping his prey trapped, where safety and light couldn't reach her.

The young woman struggled in vain, her long, brown hair falling around her face. The blonde ex-soldier held her steady.

"Please" Her voice broke as she whispered weakly "Please… my mother… oh…"

But the blonde had dropped his humanity somewhere, and it lay forgotten in his thirst. His fingers gripped the girl's shoulders possessively.

"Help…" She rasped, ready to try again "…someone… help… me… please"

The sucking continued more forcefully.

"God… have… mercy" Unable to speak any longer, the girl became nothing more than a rag doll in the arms of the monster draining away her life.

The man let her fall to the ground, the burning in his throat extinguished for the moment. He licked his cold, luscious lips, and three drops of blood – still warm – stained the white snow with their tainted scarlet.

Gasping for air he had not needed for a long time, the man took some matches from his pocket and set his young victim on fire. He sat down next to her ashes. "I'm sorry"

And then he began to cry. No tears fell, of course, that was impossible for vampires – but the dry, broken sobbing was eerily pathetic coming from such a strong man.

And then, suddenly, Alice could see the rest of the alley.

She gasped, horrified. The alley… all of it… was covered in ashes flowing towards the vampire in dark red rivers.

Alice snapped out of the vision and blinked rapidly. She stood, wiped the snow off of her, and looked around. No one had seen her.

Somewhere in the distance, the contest went on cheerfully "… don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la la la la. Toll the ancient Yuletide carol…"

With an exasperated groan, Alice stomped her foot like a spoiled child. Useless! Completely useless! All I see is him killing and feeding – nothing else! All I need is an address, a city name, anything will do!

She gulped, but it didn't dissolve the painful knot in her throat. Once again, Alice found herself wishing the tears would come.

Bells tinkled as she impulsively opened the door to a small, warm diner. An old waitress smiled at her.

"Good evening, miss"

"Good evening" She replied politely folding her legs beneath he as she sat down at the bar.

"And what will you be having?" The kind Grandmother-like woman asked.

"Just… um… just some hot chocolate, please" Alice stuttered.

"Coming right up" The waitress – Lucy – began pitter-pattering around cheerfully, humming under her breath "…In the meadow we can build a snowman and pretend that he's a circus clown. We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman until the other kids knock him down…"

Alice sniffed. The scent of over-cooked bacon, eggs and ice-cream had seeped in to the diner's walls, impregnating them with their disgusting – to her, at least – smell.

Mistletoe hung over the door and drawings of snowmen and Santa Claus made by the youngest customers lined the place, giving the place an altogether homey feel.

"Here you go, honey" Lucy said softly, jerking Alice out of her daydreams.

"Thank you" The woman smiled once more, making her marvel. Wasn't she repelled by her? Didn't her instincts tell her to run?

Alice wrapped her hands around the burning mug she had been handed and watched the tiny stream of pale vapor swirl in an air current wistfully. Her hands warming slowly, she watched the small marshmallows floating around in her drink, bobbing up and down to an unknown tune.

Then… blackness. Alice had had no warning, no time to prepare herself for the oncoming vision.

The blonde man stood patiently in a bustling train station. His control was improving, clearly – true, he had fed just before entering such a crowded place, but, still. Whistles pierced the air every few minutes, shocking everyone. People shouted sad goodbyes and happy hellos. Weary travelers lounged on the benches placed for their express convenience.

The woman in front of him moved and he was left standing in front of the ticket counter.

"Good evening, sir" The ticket lady said.

He cleared his throat "Good evening, ma'am. I'd like to buy a ticket to Philadelphia, please"

"Name?" Alice's heart almost beat excitedly.

"Jasper Whitlock, ma'am" He said, his southern drawl evident.

Alice was jerked into reality as quickly as she'd been yanked out of it.

"Miss? Are you alright?" Lucy asked worriedly.

"Yes, yes" She dismissed the older woman's questions with a wave of her hand.

The man – Jasper – was going to Philadelphia. Alice's big eyes twinkled. His voice spun around her head merrily. Jasper Whitlock. What a name! Oh, God, thank you.

Hands shaking, Alice pushed the cup away from her and stood up quickly, fumbling for her purse. She took out some crumpled dollar bills and lay them on the counter. "Thanks for the chocolate, Lucy. I've got to go"

The woman raised an eyebrow "So soon? Why, you didn't even touch it, child!"

Alice shook her head "It's alright. I'm in a hurry. Thanks"

She swept out of the diner and into the icy night excitedly. Glancing around warily, Alice began to run as quickly as her vampire speed would allow, becoming nothing but a black-and-white blur speeding across the streets until the houses became sparse. She went on through the forest just as hurriedly, her clothes becoming tatters as she carelessly crashed into trees and shrubs and branches.

After some time, Alice arrived – disheveled and in tatters – at the city with the nearest train station. She wasn't quite sure where she was, but she was quick to snatch clothes from their homes, also taking a few dollars with her each time. She emerged looking like the average young girl, her face glowing.

Here, too, the streets were deserted. Alice bounced merrily across the town, her mood greatly improved. She knew his name! Finally!

With a giggle, Alice sang "Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, We're happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland…"

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown

He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.

When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland