Disclaimer: I don't own the Santa Clause or the characters from the series. Disney does.

This is the first installment of a series of one shots about Bernard. Some will be long, some might be short. The rating is likely to change to T later. I hope to eventually add a more humorous story or two. I'd like to do some that take place before the first movie as well. Knowing myself there will probably be at least one darker one shot. As Christmas comes around each year I will probably be inspired to write a few Bernard one shots so hopefully I will add more each year.

Another installment should be coming soon, I've already finished writing it I just need to proof it and make a few changes. It's about Bernard and his first snow globe. Whenever I watch the part of the first movie when he gives Charlie the snow globe I always find myself thinking "How long has he been carrying that around and why does he carry snow globes in his bag?" But more about that story later.

This one takes place a year after the first movie, so the Christmas after the Christmas at the end of the first movie. In the first movie Charlie's mom dropped him off Christmas Eve and he was going home Christmas Day, same deal here.

A Surprise Gift

"Well don't just stand there, Curtis! Santa leaves in twenty minutes to deliver gifts. Go make sure the sleigh is getting loaded and ready!" Bernard snapped at the number two elf. It had been a long Christmas Eve and last minute preparations had been a nightmare so far. That morning they had discovered a mistake in the count of finished toys which put them 400 toys behind schedule. Luckily, the mistake had been discovered early enough in the day that they had been able to make enough toys without cutting any corners or substituting toys that their soon-to-be owners didn't want.

"Why me? Can't you do it?" Curtis jabbed at Bernard's chest with his finger. Bernard smacked his hand away, his irritation rising with the threat of boiling over.

"Because I have to make sure that Santa is getting ready," his voice rose in anger. "If you don't like working late Christmas Eve than maybe you shouldn't have accepted your current position," he suggested sharply before abruptly turning on his heels and heading towards Santa's personal rooms.

When he arrived Santa was sitting in his favorite arm chair pulling on his best boots. The door was already opened so Bernard knocked on the door frame to get Santa's attention before walking in.

"Are you ready to deliver the gifts?" Bernard walked past Santa and towards his closet to pull out Santa's coat and sash.

"You bet. I just hope I have enough room for all the cookies and milk," Santa patted his belly as he let out a chuckle.

Bernard smiled. "You always find room," he walked over to Santa and held the coat out. Santa stood up and Bernard helped him into the coat.

"Are the reindeer ready?" Santa tied the sash around his waist.

"They are being hooked up to the sleigh as we speak," Bernard stepped around to face Santa.

"The presents?"

"Packed and ready to go," Bernard clasped his hands behind his back. Even standing straight and tall he was still shorter than Santa despite being the tallest elf at the pole.

"Charlie?" Santa tugged his hat on.

"He's with Larry; he wanted to help load the gifts."

"And Curtis?" Santa asked, finally noting the elf's absence.

"Sent him to check back in with the gift packing and reindeer," Bernard walked over to Santa's desk and picked the up the pair of gloves laying there.

"Wanted to get him off your back for a while, huh?" Santa asked with a smile.

"Santa, you know me well," Bernard answered with a grin. He handed the gloves over to Santa. "Ready to go now?"

"Let's get this show on the road," Santa started for the door.

"Dad, why can't I go?" Charlie pouted

Santa leaned over the side of the sleigh to look at his son. "Because I promised your mom I wouldn't take you plus it might get a little dangerous out there tonight. The northeast U.S. is getting pummeled with a storm tonight, not just snow but high winds and parts of Europe will be experiencing the same thing. I don't want to risk you getting hurt, you'll be safer staying here tonight" he patted his son on the head.

"But I want to go!"

"Charlie, I can't let you come tonight and that's final."

Charlie lowered his head with a look of anger playing across his young face.

"Charlie, don't be that way," guilt pulled at Santa's mind. "Tomorrow is Christmas, it's going to be a great day and if your good and don't argue about this anymore, I'll let you ride Comet after he rests up from the trip."

"Really?" Charlie looked up. His anger had been replaced with excitement at the prospect of finally getting to ride a reindeer.

"Yes really, and don't stay up late. You don't want to sleep through half of Christmas day like you did last year," Santa wagged a finger at his son.

"Two minutes to go, Santa," Bernard walked up beside Charlie. "The elves are opening up the door for you to get out."

Santa glanced up and could just barely make out the opening to the outside. "Okay, I think I'm ready," he picked up the reins and situated himself in the seat. "Bernard, make sure you take Charlie back to his room after this and don't let him stay up late."

A look of surprise crossed Bernard's face. "Oh, uh, of course Santa."

Both Santa's and Bernard's watches beeped. "That's the signal for me to go!" he gave his son one more glance, "I'll see you in the morning," he turned back to the reindeer. "Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!" Charlie and all the elves joined in on the rest, all shouting in unison, "On comet! On Cupid! On Donner! On Blitzen!" the sleigh lurched forward and over the village. The elves cheered and yelled. Once the sleigh made it out of the opening Bernard radioed to the control center to close it back up. The elves watching dispersed for the night, their tired faces still cheery and animated.

"Bernard, what now?" Charlie asked as he looked up at the elf.

"Hmm? Oh," Bernard had still been looking at the now closed opening to the outside, lost in his thoughts. "Time for you to get to bed, sport, come on," Bernard turned and headed back inside the toy shop.

"He's going to be okay this year, right?" Charlie struggled to keep up with Bernard's long strides.

Bernard didn't need to ask who he was talking about. When they made it to the bottom of the stairs he slowed his pace. "Of course, we are keeping tabs on him at all times by radar and radio. The E.L.F.S. squad is on call and will be ready at a moment's notice if Santa needs any help. Quentin is keeping him updated on the weather from the control center, everything will be fine." Bernard had to admit, new technology had helped not only toy production, but it had really helped with the toy delivery process too. Instead of just seeing Santa off and waiting for him (or a new Santa) to come back, now they could monitor his progress and keep in radio contact with him, which allowed them to lend a helping hand when needed. It also meant that Bernard stayed up until Santa made it back instead of getting some shut eye as soon as he left like in the old days.

"If something happens, you'll come tell me, right?"

Bernard turned and led Charlie down another hall. "I'll come tell you if anything happens."

"Promise?"

"I promise," Bernard stopped in front of a door with painted red and green glass on the front. He opened the door and ushered Charlie inside. "Go get changed, I can't leave until you're in bed." Charlie grabbed his bag and headed into the bathroom while Bernard wandered over to the desk where Judy had left a thermos of hot cocoa and a plate of reindeer shaped sugar cookies. He couldn't resist the temptation to steal a cookie. He had only had a sandwich and cocoa for dinner and he still had all night to go yet. He munched on the cookie as he wandered around the room. He had seen Santa's room plenty of times but he was rarely ever in this one. He had forgotten about all the Christmas artwork that had recently been hung on the walls. A string of colored Christmas lights had been hung around the edges of the room for Charlie.

Seeing the snow globe he had given Charlie the previous Christmas sitting on the bed side table, he picked it up and inspected it. So far Charlie had been as good as his word and taken excellent care of it. He gave it a shake and watched the snow swirl around the house inside the globe. The snow settled back to the bottom and he gently sat it back down.

Suddenly a pair of small arms wrapped themselves loosely around his waist from his side. He relaxed when he realized it was just Charlie.

"Is something wrong sport?" he gently freed himself from Charlie's arms and kneeled down in order to see eye to eye with him

Charlie shook his head no. "I just wanted to say thanks for watching over my dad. If you guys hadn't been keeping an eye on him last year, my dad would have been stuck in jail and I would have been stuck on my roof. So… just thanks for watching over my dad" he finished quietly.

"There's no need to thank me, I'm just doing my job. I live to make Christmas happen and that includes keeping Santa as safe as possible. As long as I can help it I won't let anything happen to your dad or you," Bernard stood back up. "Oh, and Judy left you a midnight snack," he went back to the desk and picked up the thermos and plate of cookies. "Here you go," he handed the thermos to Charlie and sat the plate of cookies down beside the snow globe.

"We are friends, right Bernard?" Charlie asked suddenly.

The question caught Bernard off guard. "Why wouldn't we be?" Bernard had never been asked such a question before by any of the kids of past Santas. None of them had ever been very concerned with whether or not they were friends with any of the elves. But then again, Charlie was also the most involved out of the kids that had been to the pole. Within an hour of Charlie arriving for any of his visits Bernard always found him in the research and development department. The kid had a lot of good ideas and he was more than eager to follow in his father's footsteps.

"It's just that I never see you very much. I see you around Christmas time and sometimes when my dad is visiting me," he shrugged and opened the thermos to take a large gulp of the cocoa. "I wish my mom could make cocoa like this."

"Talk nice to Judy and she might give you some to take home with you tomorrow," he eyed the plate of cookies longingly. "Can I please have a cookie?"

"Sure, go ahead," Charlie sipped at his cocoa again.

Bernard grabbed his second cookie and contentedly shoved it whole into his mouth.

"Oh, before I forget," Charlie grabbed his bag of clothes and rummaged through it. He pulled out a small present wrapped in green paper with a red bow. Turning back to Bernard, Charlie shoved the present into his hands.

"What's this?" Bernard looked at the gift in surprise.

"You gave me the snow globe last year but I never gave you a present. I didn't know if I would get to see you before I leave tomorrow so I wanted to give it to you tonight."

"Well thanks sport, I didn't get you anything though," Bernard realized with a frown.

"It's okay I didn't expect you too. I just wanted to give you something since you gave me the snow globe," Charlie sat down on his bed with his thermos of coco still in his hands. Bernard carefully unwrapped his gift. He peered inside the box to find a green mug inside. He pulled it out to get a better look at it. The green mug had the words "#1 Elf" emblazoned on it in red.

"It's not magical like the snow globe but I figured you could use your own mug for cocoa since you don't have one and you drink it all the time. Both my mom and Neil each a have a mug that they use to drink their morning coffee in every day," Charlie explained.

"I'll be sure to use it," Bernard gave Charlie a big smile and suppressed his urge to laugh. He really had no idea where Charlie could have gotten the mug. He saw mugs that said "#1 Dad" or "#1 Mom" all the time, but "#1 Elf" was completely unexpected, especially when paired with the mug's Christmas colors.

A sleepy grin appeared on Charlie's face. He let out a long yawn.

"Okay, get some sleep; your dad will be home in the morning. I gotta get going; Quentin is waiting for me," Bernard packed his gift back up and headed for the door.

"Remember to wake me up if anything happens!" Charlie called out after him.

"I will," Bernard replied before closing the door behind him. He carefully tucked his gift safely beneath one arm and headed to the control center where Quentin and Judy were waiting for him.

"It's been smooth sailing so far, things might get a little bumpy once he makes it to eastern Ohio, the wins are really picking up in the northeastern U.S." Quentin updated Bernard as soon as he walked in.

"Hopefully there won't be any problems this year," Bernard plopped down onto the seat beside Quentin.

"What's that?" Quentin eyed up the gift Bernard sat down in front of himself.

"Charlie gave me a gift," Bernard answered simply.

"What is it?" Quentin grabbed the box before Bernard could stop him. Bernard tried to protest but Quentin ignored him. A burst of laughter escaped Quentin when he pulled out the mug. Startled by the sudden laughter, Judy came over to see what was going on. "Hey, Judy, look at what Charlie got Bernard!" Bernard sunk down in his chair as if trying to disappear.

Judy glared at Quentin. "I think it's sweet that Charlie got Bernard a present. It was very thoughtful of him," Judy took the mug away from Quentin and handed it back to Bernard who cast a glare at the research and development elf.

"Yeah I guess so, but that mug is kind of tacky," Quentin shook his head. "It'll be a shame though when we get a new Santa and we won't see Charlie around anymore. He's a bright kid," Quentin turned back to the monitor in front of him.

Bernard frowned. That wasn't something he particularly wanted to think about. The kid had grown on him and found the soft spot in Bernard. He had grown fond of the boy's love for the North Pole and his eagerness to help. Once they lost the new Santa, losing Charlie too would be heartbreaking. Bernard wondered if anyone else would feel the loss as strongly as him. He doubted it.

"It will be a shame," he answered quietly. If Quentin heard him he didn't show it. Bernard put the mug back in its box with a sigh and turned to look at the monitors. "So how's Santa doing?"