Who Is Santa?

Fang stared at the door of the en suite bathroom. What on earth was Lightning doing in there? "The Christmas party was fun this year, don't you think?" In fact it was so fun that the other former l'Cie had chosen to crash at their house for the night.

"It was." Lightning's voice came clearly through the bathroom door along with the crinkling of a paper bag of some kind. "And thank you for not trying to kill Hope."

"Yeah, well, it's Christmas." Normally, Fang wasn't the sort of person to get too enthusiastic over a holiday, especially one from Cocoon, but Christmas was different. Sure, it was a little creepy. After all, who wanted a jolly, fat man with magical, flying reindeer stalking them all year round? But Christmas had also been the day when Lightning had finally, finally agreed to make their relationship a romantic one. "I can always get him at New Year."

Lightning chuckled. "Fang… I can understand that you're upset about finding Hope in bed with Vanille, but it's not like the two of us waited until we were married."

Fang's lips curled. They certainly hadn't. "I guess." She shook herself and looked for something else to think about. "I was listening to the girls, they really do think they've got it all figured out."

"You mean about Santa?"

Fang nodded, even though there was no way that Lightning could see the gesture. "Yeah. To be honest, I'm surprised they didn't work it out a little sooner. I mean they are pretty sharp, so they were bound to notice that every time Santa comes down the chimney you're nowhere to be found. Even Diana is convinced that you're just dressing up as Santa."

"Well, I sort of am," Lightning said. There was the sound of a paper package being ripped open. "Although that's only because certain somebodies keep voting for me to dress up as Santa when there is another certain somebody who could do it too." Somehow, Fang could actually feel Lightning's glare through the door. "Isn't that right, Fang?"

"I guess." Really, what was taking Lightning so long in there? "But that's only because you do such a good job of it. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing you in that outfit Serah always wears." Fang grinned, picturing Lightning in a short, red dress, black boots, and white gloves. Oh, and of course, the Santa hat, she couldn't forget that.

"Fang, stop ogling my sister." Lightning's voice was firm, but Fang could hear the smile behind it. Both of them knew that only person Fang would ever ogle was Lightning. "And don't forget, this year, you're the one dressing up as Santa."

"I know, I know." Fang rolled her eyes. After overhearing the girls talking, Lightning had quickly devised a plan to have Fang replace her as Santa for a year. "Now, what's taking you so long in there? It's only a few hours till I have to clamber down the chimney, so I'd like to get some sleep."

"Sleep?" Lightning stepped out of the bathroom and Fang forgot all about sleeping. "Is that what you want to do?"

Fang swallowed thickly and shook her head. Lightning had just come out of bathroom dressed as the sexiest Santa in the whole damn universe. Mental note: never, ever make fun of Christmas-themed lingerie again. "Not anymore."

Lightning grinned and pulled off one long, white glove, tossing it at Fang. "Good, because you've been a very, very good girl this year."

"I have?" Fang couldn't remember being especially good. Then again, her brain wasn't exactly working very well right now.

"Yes." Lightning sat on the edge of the bed and reached out to guide one of Fang's hands to the clasp of her bra. "In fact, you even get to open your present a few hours early."

Fang watched the bra fall away. Christmas. Best holiday ever.

X X X

Diana looked up and nearly head butted Averia in the chin. "Do you think we're right, Claire? Is my mom really just dressing up as Santa?"

"Watch what you're doing," Averia growled. Not only did she have to share a bed with Diana because Claire was sleeping over, but Claire had gotten her bed. At least, Diana hadn't poked her in the eye with her hair again.

"I guess." Claire looked over at Averia before continuing. "I mean your mom is never around when Santa comes, and no one else thinks Santa has a gun blade."

"But then how would he keep the bad kids from stealing the presents?" Diana replied. "But you're right about our mom. She's never around when Santa comes."

Averia heard the disappointment in Diana's voice and shared another look with Claire. The two of them had been talking about it earlier in the day, but they hadn't meant for Diana to overhear them. It was one thing for a nine year old to not believe in Santa, but it would have been nice if her sister could have believed in him for a bit longer. "Maybe it isn't mom. You know, she is always busy doing things, like cleaning up after the party and stuff."

"I don't know." Diana sighed and snuggled up to Averia. Her sister was actually quite cuddly, even though she'd never admit it. "But who else could it be?" She made a face. "And how would Santa even deliver all the presents? Not even Mr Snaggles could fly fast enough to go everywhere, and he's way faster than reindeer, even if they are magical."

"I suppose." Claire nodded. "Well, we should get to sleep. We've still got a few more hours until it's tomorrow."

Diana closed her eyes. "At least we'll find out if Santa is real."

Holding her sister close, Averia hoped very much that her parents would come up with something. Someone like Diana shouldn't sound so disappointed about Christmas.

X X X

The alarm went off and Diana sprang out of bed. There was a muffled cry behind her as Averia tumbled to the ground, but she paid not attention to it. It was finally tomorrow, and it was time to see if they were right, to see if her mom really was just dressing up as Santa. As she threw the door open and ran down the stairs, she heard Claire and Averia stumble after her. She grinned. Slow pokes!

When she reached the living room, she flicked on the lights and leapt over her Grandpa Sazh as he blearily sat up and looked around, his clothes still a little crumpled from sleeping on the couch.

"Huh, what's going on?"

"Santa is coming!" Diana shouted, dodging her Uncle Hope and her Uncle Dajh as they shook themselves awake from where they'd fallen asleep on one of the other couches. "Or maybe it's just my mom dressing up."

As her Aunt Serah and Uncle Snow came down the stairs with her Aunt Vanille, she took a few moments to admire the Christmas tree that she, Averia, and Claire had decorated. They'd managed to fit heaps of ornaments on it along with lots of Christmas lights. It looked almost like a robot, and right at the top of it was Mr Snaggles, holding a shining metal star.

"You're up quickly."

Diana blinked and turned around. It was her mom, and she was standing right there next to her. "Mom? But… don't you have to be somewhere?" This couldn't be right, she'd heard Averia and Claire talking and they'd said that her mom was the one dressing up as Santa, and they'd even talked about it earlier before going to sleep and…

"Not really." Lightning smiled. "I thought it might be nice to meet Santa with you."

"Oh." Diana looked back at Claire and Averia, but both of them had weird looks on their faces. She was just about to ask them what was going on when there was a whoosh from the chimney and a familiar figure appeared.

"Santa!"

X X X

Fang coughed. Stupid chimney. She really needed to clean it more often, although she was just glad that she hadn't gotten stuck. They should have gotten Serah to do this. Not only was the younger woman agile enough to pull it off, she was small enough that the trip down the chimney wouldn't be too bad. But no, Lightning couldn't subject her delicate younger sister to the horrors of chimney travel, though she had no problems subjecting Fang to it. Still, if jumping down a chimney was what it took to into Lightning's good books, and if getting into Lightning's good books meant more surprises like the one she'd gotten earlier, well, Fang was prepared to jump down a few thousand more chimneys.

"Santa!"

Fang felt a broad smile slip across her face as Diana stepped forward. The little girl was looking at her in absolute awe, like she couldn't even believe that Santa was right there. So far, so good.

"Merry Christmas!" Fang shouted, deepening her voice as best she could. "Has everybody been a good this year?"

"Yes!" Diana shouted. "I've been really, really good!"

Fang nodded. "Well, in that case, I have a few presents for all of you."

And with that, Fang went around the room handing presents to all of the others. The former l'Cie accepted their gifts with good cheer, while Averia and Claire both gave her puzzled looks. Finally, she got to Diana.

"Are you real?" Diana asked softly. "My sister and my cousin were talking and they said that it was just my mom dressing up as you, but my mom is right there." Diana pointed at Lightning. "So it can't be her…"

"Of course, I'm real." Fang laughed merrily and lifted Diana up into her arms. "See? You even got a hug from Santa." She put Diana down and walked over to Lightning. "I'll even give your mom a hug too." She grinned. "Now, do you think I'm real?"

"I do, Santa, I do!" Diana laughed happily. "I just wish my mommy was here because she's from Gran Pulse and they didn't believe in Santa and now I can show you to her!" She frowned. "But I can't see her…"

Fang's eyes widened. Crap.

"Mommy went into the kitchen to get some cookies and milk for Santa," Averia said, her eyes never leaving Fang's. "She should be back in a minute."

"Oh." Diana looked at Fang. "Can you stay a little longer, Santa? I really want you to meet my mommy too."

Fang shook her head and did her best to sound sad. "I'm sorry, Diana, but I have to get going since I have so many presents to give." She handed Diana her present. "Here, and I hope that you're a good girl next year too so I can give you another present." Waving one last time at Diana, she went back up the chimney.

Roughly two minutes and twenty-three seconds later, Fang walked into the living room with a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. "Damn, did Santa leave already?"

Fang winced as Diana hurtled through the air at her. Somehow, she managed to keep the milk from spilling as Diana clambered up into her arms.

"Mommy! Mommy! You just missed him. He was here and he was so cool. He gave me a hug, and he even gave mom a hug, and mom didn't punch him or anything the way she punches Uncle Snow!" Diana grinned. "Averia and Claire said it was just mom dressing up as Santa but I knew he was real, I knew it!"

"I know. Maybe I can catch him next year."

Diana gave Fang a serious look. "You're not going to spear Santa for hugging mom, are you, mommy? Because that would make lots of kids really sad."

"No, I am not going to spear Santa." Fang smirked. "In fact, you could say that Santa and I are on very good terms."

Later, when Diana was busy showing her newest set of plastic blocks to Vanille and Lightning, Fang went over to Averia and Claire. Her lips twitched up into a smile. "You knew it was me, didn't you?"

"Maybe we did," Claire said. "But that didn't mean Diana had to."

Averia nodded. "After all, it is Christmas, isn't it?"

Fang looked around the room and smiled. Her whole family was there, and all of them were happy. "Yes, yes, it is."

X X X

Author's Notes

As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.

I've been looking forward to writing this chapter for some time now. The original A Very Farron Christmas (i.e., Chapter 1 of this story) is a sort of prelude to both Ordinary Heroes and Tell Me A Story, so it's only natural that this chapter include Diana, Averia, and Claire.

With regards to the actual content of this chapter, I wanted to try and get across a lit bit of the Christmas spirit. I think there is something really magical about the belief that children have in Santa. Sure, it doesn't make any sense, and the idea that some guy is going to watch all of us all year around before flying across the world using magic reindeer to deliver presents is utterly ridiculous. But that doesn't matter to kids, and I think that's a good thing. Personally, I can't remember a time when I believed in Santa (I was a little too smart for my own good and so was my sister), but I do remember my father taking the time and effort to dress up as him, and that's something I'm grateful for even today.

Now, the first half of this chapter is definitely the Fang/Lightning part. In my defence, it is vaguely necessary plot-wise in that they do mention their plan. However, it's the part about the girls that I think drives this chapter. Averia and Claire are old enough to realise that Santa isn't real, whereas Diana is still young enough that she wants him to be real. When Fang appears as Santa, Diana falls for it – she wants to fall for it – but if they wanted to, Averia and Claire could easily have told her what was going on. But they didn't. Why? Simple. They love Diana, and they understand that maybe it's better if she goes one more year believing Santa is real. That's why Lightning came up with the plan to switch, and it's why the others went along with it too (Serah, of course, has the added motivation of not wanting to be the one going down the chimney).

Finally, there are two more things I'd like to do. First, I'd like to mention a blog I've got that I will be dedicating to writing related things and to keeping you posted on updates and the like. It's at razieltwelve(put a dot here)wordpress(put a dot here)com. I'll do my best to keep it updated weekly, and you can look forward to not only progress updates on my stories, but also posts related to writing (e.g., some tips on writing fight scenes) and my thoughts on various issues (e.g., I'm thinking of talking about why digital publishing is a good thing for readers and writers).

And lastly, I'd like to thank everyone who has reviewed, favourited, followed, or in any way, shape, or form had something to do with the stories I've written. Writing isn't always easy, in fact, it can often be quite tortuous, but you, the readers, make it worthwhile.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.