Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, I just claim the way I have strung my words together. I also do not own Christmas. I just celebrate it and try to make it fun.
A/N: Thanks to Dinx for beta'ing, hand-holding, and the inspirational pictures. Thanks to nowforruin for beta'ing and responding to the great Title SOS of 2010. Thanks to Scorp112 for pre-reading parts of this, making suggestions, and calming my nerves when they were the most frazzled. And thanks to shelikesthesound for helping me with the title. You ladies are better than Christmas. :) Also, thank you for the reviews! :)
A Christmas Theory
Edward pressed his lips together and looked at me carefully before blurting the last thing I'd ever expected him to say. "I'm Santa Claus."
I felt I deserved some credit for trying, and I really tried hard. I bit my lip and dug my nails into the palms of my hands, but it was in vain. I laughed harder than I'd remembered ever doing before. Even when Mike had been blown off by Alice in the cafeteria I hadn't been gasping for breath like I was now. It wasn't just the fact that he claimed to be Santa Claus, but the whole thing was just too surreal. I had just accused Edward Cullen of being a vampire, and, in turn, he
claimed to be Santa Claus. If Alice had come bouncing in, announcing that she was the Easter Bunny, it would have been complete. Maybe when I graduated high school, I was going to move up in the ranks and become the Tooth Fairy.
"You'd believe that I was a vampire, but not Santa Claus?" Edward asked me when I had calmed down a little. "How is being a jolly man handing out gifts more ridiculous than being a bloodsucking corpse?"
He had a point. "You don't look like Santa Claus," I said.
"But I look like a vampire?" He was looking a little amused now.
Another good point. I didn't actually know what a vampire looked like. I just knew that he didn't look like Santa Claus, and that it almost made sense in my head that he was a vampire. "Um, I don't know…?"
He laughed. "Well, maybe the fact that you were ready to accept that I was a vampire will work to my advantage. I am curious to how you arrived at that conclusion, though."
I sighed and leaned back against a tree. This was not working out the way I had expected. "I know you won't admit it, but the way you saved me from the falling tree? No one is that fast. No human, anyway. Your skin is ice-cold, and I have never seen you eat or drink, even if you did compliment my brownies. And you know things sometimes…it's unnerving."
"And that automatically spells vampire to you?"
"Well, someone down from the Quileute Reservation might have talked about an old legend with werewolves and vampires last night…"
He laughed a little and rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm not entirely human, Bella, but I am not a vampire. Trust me."
"You're…Santa Claus," I said, trying to make it sound less like a question and more like a statement. I was semi-successful.
Edward nodded. "Yes, I am."
"Oh." I didn't know what I was supposed to say. I had readily thought that he was one mythical creature, so believing that he was another shouldn't have been that difficult…right?
He took off his scarf, folded it up and put it on a fallen log. "Please, sit down and allow me to explain," he said, gesturing with his hands. I sat down. It was a little chilly, but I was too occupied with the need to learn the truth to care.
Edward paced a little in front of me. "I've never actually told anyone this before," he confided in me.
"Then why now? Why me? You could have just laughed at my vampire theory and had me committed to the closed ward."
"I'm tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella," he said softly.
"Then don't," I murmured.
He smiled at me, but continued as if I hadn't spoken. "And you got it right when you said that I know things that I shouldn't know. It's what allows me to know if kids have been good or naughty. The List, you know? It's like a sixth sense I have. I read people. One glance at them, and I know the very essence of their heart and soul. You are nothing but good and honest. Your heart is the most beautiful one I have ever experienced."
I swooned a little before getting concerned. "You know everything about everyone?" That was slightly disturbing.
He chuckled. "No, I don't know any details about why someone is good or bad. I just see their essence."
It was difficult to believe the things Edward told me over the next hour, but I reasoned that since I had been so willing to believe that he was a vampire, then I could at least hear him out. He explained to me how he had taken over the role as Santa Claus after his dad last summer, and that he was nervous about being in charge his first Christmas, which was coming up. Carlisle Cullen had been Santa for centuries and had felt it was time to pass on the torch to his son, now that he was coming of age – and apparently a Santa-to-be came of age when he was around a hundred years old.
"I'm a hundred and nine, before you ask," he said with a smirk. "I go by eighteen out here in the real world because that's what I look like. When you're at the North Pole, you don't actually age. It's not an actual place, you know. It's a magical place that only exists for those who believe, and you can only get there in Santa's sleigh. Because I needed to age, I was sent out to stay with aunts and uncles for periods of time growing up. This time, my parents came along because my dad wanted to experience what he calls human retirement, but of course he can't stay away from the toys. It's been a while for both of them since they were out here for longer than just a few days."
He continued to explain that his skin was cold because even though he never really felt it, it was really cold at the North Pole. It took months to thaw out properly. And putting on the red Santa suit on Christmas Eve meant that he would transform from looking like an eighteen year old kid to a big, jolly man with a white beard. The clothes made the Santa, apparently. I couldn't imagine it no matter how hard I tried.
"What about Alice? Is she actually your sister?" I asked.
Edward laughed. "No, she's not my sister. Alice's name is not even Alice. She's a naughty elf by the name of Dinx who hid in a big suitcase when we came here. She's been begging my dad for a chance to go out in the real world for decades, and since we didn't discover her until we got here, we decided to let her stay if she behaved."
"An elf…of course…" I muttered. Then I remembered something. "Did you bring a reindeer, too, by any chance?"
"Yes, how did you know?" he asked curiously.
"I'm pretty sure it led me to your house the first time I went out there," I replied.
He chuckled. "Yeah, once in a blue moon Emmett acts like he's well-behaved. Which he isn't, by the way."
"Your reindeer is called Emmett?" I asked incredulously. Out of everything, that was maybe the hardest thing to comprehend. "But what about Rudolf and Vixen and Dancer…and…"
"Back at the North Pole," Edward replied with a smile. "Emmett is my favorite, even if he is pesky, so I couldn't leave him behind. Besides, if he was left alone for a while, he'd be making too much trouble. He's too undisciplined to be part of the team for the sleigh."
"Speaking of the sleigh, how do you get around the whole world in one night? Does the thing run on jet fuel?"
"No, on magic. And you've already seen that I'm fast. It's a combination of the two," he replied.
"Why do you never go out in the sunlight? And what's with the never eating or drinking anything?" I asked.
"I have sensitive skin from living at the North Pole for so long. In fact, we all do. You rarely see the sun there. That's why we stay out of the sunlight. And the diet there is also different from what you eat here, so we just eat at home."
"Milk and cookies?" I guessed, not entirely sarcastic.
He smirked. "Not solely, but yeah. Brownies are nice, too. Pizza and fries, not so much."
I snorted and covered my mouth with a laugh. Then I shook my head. "This is crazy. I can't believe I accused you of being a vampire, and now you're telling me that you're the new Santa Claus."
"Are you not convinced I'm telling the truth?" he asked.
I shrugged, not knowing what to say.
He smiled. "Come with me, then," he said and held out his hand.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm just going to prove a few things to you," he replied easily.
Before I knew what was happening, he had flung me onto his back and was running through the forest – or maybe he was flying? I had no idea. But it was like that time I had let Jacob talk me into going for a ride on an old dirt bike he had fixed up. He had lost control of it, and we had barreled in between some trees at thirty miles per hour. Only this was faster.
"Edward! What the hell!" I screamed, possibly right into his ear.
A low chuckle that made his chest vibrate was all the answer I got, and I closed my eyes before I became nauseous. Of course, vomiting on him would be nothing more than he deserved for not warning me before taking me on a suicide mission.
Eventually he stopped, and when I opened my eyes, I was face to face with a reindeer. I gasped, and I would have bet my iPod that the animal was laughing at me. I slid down to the ground on wobbly feet, glaring at Edward. "A little warning would have been nice, you know."
He just shrugged and smiled crookedly. "Bella, meet Emmett."
I looked at the large animal carefully. Its fur was light brown and looked really soft. The antlers were huge and pretty impressive – they looked like a giant crown. It also still looked like it was grinning. "Hello, Emmett," I greeted it. I looked at Edward. "Can I pet him?"
Emmett the Reindeer quickly shuffled closer to me. I squeaked and jumped back, and Edward just laughed. "There's your answer," he said. "He'll be your friend for life if you scratch him behind the ears."
I had never been an animal person. I was scared of dogs, and my only pet had been a gold fish when I was ten years old. It died because I overfed it, claiming it looked hungry all the time. Rose had not been impressed with me. Emmett looked friendly enough, though. I slowly reached out, patting him softly on the head. He closed his eyes and leaned into my touch.
I giggled. "Aaww, you're a cute one, Emmett."
"Okay, stop hogging the girl, Em," Edward said. "Come on, Bella. I have one more thing to show you."
"You're not doing a grab-'n-run again, are you? I'd rather get a lift from Emmett or something. I bet that's more comfortable."
Emmett promptly kneeled down, offering me a ride. Edward swatted him. "Yeah, you're a real comedian. Now get lost." He grabbed my hand and led me through the trees. I turned around and waved at Emmett. I swore he looked all sullen now.
"Where are we going? Couldn't Emmett come with us? He looks so heart-broken."
"He's a good actor," Edward said with a smirk. "I want to show you the sleigh."
"Edward, there's no snow-…" I hesitated. "Oh, the sleigh. Really?" I asked excitedly. "So, how does it fly when all the other reindeer are at the North Pole?"
"Since they are magic reindeer pulling a magic sleigh, one reindeer is enough," Edward replied. "We just like to go all out for Christmas. My dad usually took Dancer with him whenever he was coming down here for occasions other than Christmas, but I've kind of grown up with Emmett, so he's my favorite. Plus, as I told you, he'd just make trouble if he was left home alone."
We had made it to the Cullen house. Apparently Edward had covered quite the distance while I had kept my eyes closed. Now the elaborate Christmas decorations and all the lights made a lot more sense than the first time I had seen them, both because it was December, and because I now knew exactly who lived in the house. Edward led me to the garage and pulled out a key to unlock the door.
"This is the moment of truth," he told me before opening the door. "If you don't believe, you won't be able to see the sleigh. It's magic, remember?"
I wasn't worried. Edward had convinced me – I believed him. And believing him meant believing in him. Believing in Santa Claus. I almost giggled. I never thought I would say that again.
Leading me into the garage, Edward turned on the lights and went ahead of me to pull off a big, red cloth covering. I gasped. The sleigh! It was dark green with intricate carvings that wished anyone who saw it a merry Christmas. It was polished so it sparkled, and looked as if it was ready for use. Garlands of holly with small, yellow lights were wrapped around the edges. The seats were covered in red velvet, promising a comfortable ride. I stared at it in awe. It was the holy grail of everything magical about Christmas.
"I just want to try something," Edward said, taking my hand and stepping into the sleigh. "Come on."
I followed him into the sleigh and sat down next to him on the seat. It was like being a part of a fairytale. He instantly pulled me into his lap, and when I looked into his eyes, the intensity there took my breath away.
"So Santa fell in love with the girl," Edward said softly. His cold hand was cupping my cheek, and I was so sure that he was going to kiss me.
"What a lucky girl."
"What a blessed Santa," he countered and leaned in to touch his lips against mine. They were cold, but he still set my whole body on fire. I was the one who deepened the kiss, but my Santa caught on quickly.
I wanted to squeal. I was not only making out with the hottest and sweetest guy I had ever met, the same hot guy who I had fallen in love with, and who had just confessed that he felt the same for me – I was also making out with Santa in his sleigh! This was the stuff dreams were made of.
~ ~ ~ ACT ~ ~ ~
I woke up the next morning to the sound of Santa Baby coming from my cell phone. It was a message from Edward, although I didn't know how or when sneaky Santa had changed the tone settings. The message told me that he was picking me up for school.
I replied that I'd be ready out front, and leaned back in my pillows with a happy sigh. About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was Santa Claus. Second, there was a part of me, and I didn't know how dominant that part might be, that was incredibly excited about being able to believe in Santa again. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
"A certain little elf was so excited that you knew the truth that she immediately blurted it to Jasper, too," Edward told me when he opened the car door for me an hour later. He had greeted me with a cold morning kiss, and ironically enough, it had almost made me melt.
I giggled. "And now Mr. Science is calculating how many thousandths of a second you have to deliver each gift?" I guessed.
Edward nodded. "Something like that."
School was surprisingly bearable when I had Edward walking me to and from each class. At lunch, we laughed at Jasper, who was trying to calculate how Santa Claus had time to deliver gifts to children all over the world in only one night. Rosalie, Angela, and Ben were not in on the big secret, but they didn't need to be in order to think that Jasper was wasting his time.
After school let out, Edward and I went back out in the forest surrounding his house. I had had a full night to mull things over, and had come up with a lot of questions I hadn't thought to ask the day before. Questions like, Did one become immortal if they stayed at the North Pole forever, and how many elves lived up there.
"Yes and three hundred and fourteen," Edward replied with a chuckle when I launched my first two questions at him. Then he kissed me, and I forgot all about the rest of my questions. He pressed me against a tree, effectively making me forget about everything but the feel of his lips and tongue against mine and the way his body felt pressing mine into the tree. Nothing appeared to be out of order with Santa's equipment. I could feel him through our clothes, and I almost turned to liquid when one of his legs found its way between mine and an adventurous hand found my breast. I moaned, and through a haze of lust I heard it almost echoing from who I assumed was Edward. Except…
I broke away from Edward and looked for the source of the sound. I had a feeling I knew what it was, but I'd hoped I was wrong because that would be a bit too embarrassing…even if he was a reindeer.
I blushed. "Hello, Emmett," I said weakly.
He sounded like he snickered. And then the strangest thing came out of his mouth. I turned to Edward. "Did he…did he just say…cowabunga?"
Edward ran a hand through his hair and nodded. "Some of the elves were bored one day, and somehow they taught him to say it."
I giggled and turned back to Emmett. "Can you say anything else?"
The strangled noise that sounded eerily like cowabunga came again. "Okay, I guess not. But on the bright side, that's one word more than you're supposed to be able to say. You might be the brightest reindeer ever!"
Edward groaned. "Please don't feed his ego. It's already bigger than his antlers."
I giggled and patted Emmett. "Don't listen to him," I whispered.
"Oh my God, Bella – you found it!" I whipped around at the sound of Rosalie's voice, and I saw her come trudging through the brush. "Oh wow, is it tame? It's so cute!"
I was quickly forgotten as Rosalie's attention was apparently more interesting than mine. I didn't know a reindeer could be charming, but Emmett pulled it off.
I walked back to Edward. "How are we going to explain a tame reindeer? Rose isn't going to let it go; she'll be calling every zoo in the state to find out if anyone's missing him."
"Can she be trusted?" he asked softly.
I nodded. "I've known her my entire life, and I've never known her to break someone's trust or spill a secret."
"Does she believe in Santa Claus?" he asked, winking at me.
After I was done melting over the wink, I laughed. "She's more likely to believe in Rudolf than Santa."
But after Edward told her who he was – assisted by a lot of nodding from me and Emmett, she did believe in Santa Claus. I had been right, though. Even if Emmett was not Rudolf, she was much more fascinated by the flying reindeer than Santa.
Edward excused himself for a moment, saying he needed to pick something up back at the house. I watched Rosalie tell an enthralled Emmett about how much cooler than regular reindeer he was, and within minutes, Edward was back.
He stalked right over to Emmett and waved an empty candy box. "Emmett! I thought I told you to stay away from the candy in the sleigh! It's not yours! I don't even understand how you got into the garage – wait, what am I saying? Of course I know. That pesky, little elf!"
"Stop yelling at him!" Rosalie defended Emmett and patted his head reassuringly. "So what if he ate a little candy? I don't care if you are Santa Claus. I can still report you for animal cruelty!"
"He ate the candy I got for Bella after I specifically told him not to!" Edward argued. "How is me being angry about that cruelty?"
"It just is!" Rosalie stated and turned to Emmett. "Aaww, my poor little reindeer being yelled at by the stupid Santa. I'll buy you your own candy tomorrow. What's your favorite? I bet it's chocolate. Or maybe gummy bears?"
I tried to keep the giggles at bay and pulled Edward away from the reindeer and the bad influence. "Ignore them. And thank you for wanting to give me candy. It's so sweet of you, but there's actually something I want even more than candy."
"Oh yeah? What's that? I'll give you anything, Bella," Edward said and wrapped his arms around me.
"To get back to what we were doing before Emmett interrupted," I said with a grin. "So why don't we find someplace where there are no interrupting reindeer and no accusing best friends?"
"On it," he said and picked me up. I was screaming before he even started running. I really should have been more specific and said that we should walk someplace where there were no interrupting reindeer and no accusing best friends.
~ ~ ~ ACT ~ ~ ~
December was magical like never before. At times I still pinched myself when I thought about everything that had happened lately. I was dating Santa Claus. And then I pinched myself again. I was dating Edward Cullen. And he was the sweetest, most attentive guy I had ever met. A real gentleman, except when we made out in the sleigh…or his car…or in my room when my dad was at work and on his dates. Then Edward was every bit the teenage boy he looked.
Edward had asked me to the Christmas dance. I wasn't really a big fan of school functions, but I'd accepted. It was one of the last days he'd be in town before going back to the North Pole to prepare for his busy Christmas night. I had asked about the presents. How did they all fit in the bag and in the sleigh, and how did he know what to get for everyone? Magic, was his answer, of course.
So I went to the school dance, not wanting to miss out on a second of the time Edward had left in Forks before Christmas. He had promised to come back and spend the remainder of the school year in Forks, but after that he had to return to the North Pole. He said that he couldn't afford to age too much at once.
"Bella, please consider coming back with me next summer?" he'd asked me one day. "I know it's a lot to ask, but I love you, and I can't bear the thought of being without you. I'll do everything in my power to make you happy, I promise."
I hadn't answered him yet. He had insisted that I think about it, and I was grateful for the time. It was a major decision.
The night of the dance, Edward picked me up, enduring my dad's if-you-hurt-my-daughter-I'll-hang-your-balls-on-my-Christmas-tree talk that kind of got watered down when he rushed out to go on his own date. He looked good enough to eat. Edward, that was, not my dad. Ugh. My dad's velvet suit from the seventies was highly embarrassing – just as embarrassing as the red jumpsuit Edward's dad wore the day I met him at his toy repair shop in town. I believed Edward when he said that his dad was having some difficulties adjusting to his new non-Santa life. I just wished my dad had an excuse, too.
Alice – I could not get used to calling her anything else – had been granted her great wish, and was at the dance with Jasper. She was wearing a dress that looked like the one she had been wearing the day I'd met her, only this one was red. The multi-colored knee-high socks were in place, too, and Jasper could barely drag his eyes away from her legs.
Angela and Ben were around somewhere, but Rosalie had stopped attending school dances after the previous year's Christmas dance where Lauren Mallory had shown up wearing a fur coat. Rosalie had lost it, and while the principal didn't exactly ban her, she swore off the dances herself. She was spending the evening out at the Cullens' with her new best friend. I had been replaced by a reindeer.
Edward and I slow-danced to "The Christmas Song" and rocked it out to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." Naturally, Edward knew every word to every Christmas song played.
"Hey, wanna leave early?" Edward asked me, the promise of something better than a school dance twinkling in his eye.
I nodded with a big smile.
We waved goodbye to Alice and Jasper, who had disappeared into the unlocked janitor's closet at the same time as Edward and I left. I was starting to feel bad for the janitor. If he needed something in his closet at the wrong time…well, who knew what he'd witness.
I didn't ask where Edward was taking me. My curfew was still hours away, and I just wanted to spend as much time as possible with my Santa. It started snowing a little while we drove. It was pretty rare we got snow in Forks, but I had stopped questioning the Christmas magic this year. Of course there would be snow when I had Santa by my side. Anything else would be wrong.
We were headed toward the Cullen house, but instead of going the whole way down the lane, Edward stopped halfway, just where it split. He parked and exited the car. Seconds later he was opening my door and helping me out. He sent me a crooked smile and took my hand, leading me down the lane to the right.
It was dark, but the moon reflecting in the snow that was starting to cover the ground lit the night up. It was so beautiful and silent.
I giggled. Okay, not so quiet. But it was still beautiful. And the feel of Edward's hand encasing mine gave me butterflies.
"I have a surprise for you," Edward said with a smile. "How would you like a ride in Santa's sleigh?"
"Oh my God. Really? Like…flying?"
He grinned. "Well, I thought we'd start out with a normal sleigh ride, but maybe…"
I launched myself at him, hugging him and kissing his jaw while he laughed. Then I heard a giggle and another cowabunga. Looking up, I saw the sleigh a few feet ahead in its entire splendor. The little lights on the holly garlands were shining, and strings of bells had been added. In front of the sleigh was Emmett, and next to him stood Rosalie, waving. He had a saddle strapped on, and I guessed that was for Rosalie.
I sat under a warm blanket on Edward's lap in the sleigh. He had the reins in one hand and the other one around my waist. The bells jingled softly as Emmett trudged down the lane, and I had never been more content in my life. I turned my head and waited for Edward to do the same. It wasn't like he needed to steer Emmett – there was only one way to go, and that was forward. My favorite, bright reindeer could handle that, and if he failed, Rosalie could pull his antlers or something. I needed Santa kisses.
Edward looked at me and grinned as if he had read my mind. His lips were as cold as ever, but his kisses ignited a fire inside of me that would keep us both warm – even at the North Pole. I had made up my mind. There was no way I was letting my Santa go.
"Do you realize that I haven't heard you say ho ho ho yet?" I asked. My mitten-clad hands were cupping his cheeks and our noses were almost touching.
"Yeah, I don't actually say that, you know? I try to get around undetected, so the last thing I want is calling attention to myself by sounding like a cliché," he said and stole another kiss. Okay, maybe not stole since I let him, but still. Now was not kissing time, now was "ho ho ho" time.
"You're bursting my illusions," I told him. "You're Santa Claus – you have to say ho ho ho."
"Says me! Won't you even say it for me? You know, the girl who is leaving the world as she knows it behind, and following you to the North Pole after graduation?"
His smile widened impossibly, and the kiss that followed the smile was unlike any kiss we had ever shared before. It could have probably melted the whole damn North Pole. "Really?" he asked.
"Only if you ho ho ho," I said with a shrug, unable to hide my smile.
The ho ho ho that echoed through the forest was heartfelt and sounded exactly like I had imagined it would sound. Only I never thought a cowabunga would follow it.
A/N: Thanks for reading. I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)