Title: Christmas Time
Author: Vicky
Category: romance
Summary: "I saw Mommy kissing Santa!"
Rating: G
Archives: my website, others ask please, I never refuse
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: This fic was written for Day 22 of the Sparky Advent Calendar on john_elizabeth. This is set in the same universe as Silent Communication and Family Moment.

Ely Sheppard was a bright, four years old girl. She had inherited her mother's looks, and much to both of her parents' disappointment, her father's hair. She had also inherited from both of them their curiosity. Which was why, after her parents put her and her baby brother to sleep, she was trying to sneak downstairs unseen. Her mommy had told her that Santa would be coming soon, and she wanted nothing more than to see him. The previous years, they had spent Christmas at home in Atlantis, and she hadn't been able to stay awake long enough, but tonight, they were at her Grandma's and she wanted to sneak on him.

As she was putting her foot on the last step, she heard voices coming from the living-room. She stayed quiet, holding her breath and hoping they wouldn't find her before she accomplished her mission. When no one came her way, she let her breath out and finished descending the stairs. She walked on her tiptoes towards the living-room, and hid behind the doorjamb. The Christmas tree was just on the other side. She could hear her mother's voice more clearly now, as well as another, muffled voice. Peeking around the corner, she smiled widely as she saw that Santa was there, putting presents underneath the tree.

She was about to run into the room when Santa straightened up and turned towards her mother to kiss her on the mouth. Her mouth dropped open, and instead of running into the room, she turned away, and went back up the stairs and to the room she shared with her brother. She lay awake for a few minutes, thinking about what she had just seen, before sleep finally claimed her.

When the morning came, Ely wasn't thinking about what she had witnessed the night before anymore. Now, the main thought on her mind was that Christmas had finally arrived and there was presents waiting for her. Going to her brother's bed, she woke him up, and together, they went into their parents' bedroom.

"Wake up! Wake up! It's Christmas!" Ely shouted as she jumped on her parents' bed along with her brother. "Come on, wake up!" she repeated as they ignored her.

"Why did we think that having children was a good idea?" Elizabeth asked, with a sleepy voice.

"I don't know anymore," John replied, before sitting up in bed. "Ok, Ely, Matthew, calm down, we're awake!"

"Presents?" Matthew asked, sucking on his thumb and snuggling into his mother's chest.

"Yes, presents," she replied, dropping a kiss on her son's head. "But we have to wait for Grandma to wake up."

"Can I go and wake her up?" Ely asked with eyes that her parents found hard to resist.

"No need, you've already done it," her Grandma said from the doorway, smiling at the sight.

"I'm sorry Mom," Elizabeth was quick to apologize, wincing.

"Don't be. It's been a while since this house has been woken up on Christmas day by children's voices. Come on, let's go and see what Santa brought you two!"

Ely jumped from the bed, and joined her grandmother at the door, but refused to go until her parents and brother were out of the bed as well. Though they hadn't thought about fooling their daughter for one second, they still sighed as they got out of the bed. Matthew, who would soon turn three, refused to leave his mother's arms, and so Elizabeth had to carry him downstairs. As they entered the living-room though, she put him down, and he was quick to join his big sister who was already looking at all the presents underneath the tree.

The three adults watched as the kids took in the scene before them. There were probably too many presents, but for their first Christmas outside of Atlantis, and with a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one, they wanted to make things right. They finally joined Ely and Matthew and settled on the floor. They passed presents, starting with the kids', and watched as they tore the paper they had so carefully wrapped the presents in. Squeals of joy filled the room, as each opened present was welcomed by the children, but it soon stopped as the last present was unwrapped by Matthew.

"No more?" he asked with a sad tone, and his sister mimicked his tone with a pout.

Elizabeth resisted the urge to laugh as she saw them surrounded by presents, and wondered what more they could possibly want. It was already going to be hell taking all this back to Atlantis, and they expected more. Shaking her head, she was about to answer, when John did it for her.

"There are more presents, but they're not for you. Why don't we let Grandma take her turn opening her presents?" he said, handing over the two packages Elizabeth and John had brought with them.

"This scarf is gorgeous!" she exclaimed having unwrapped the first present. "Where did you find it?"

Elizabeth smiled widely as her mother fingered the scarf they had found on a market off-world. If only she knew where it really came from, she wouldn't believe it.

"The other is a bit different," she warned her, as she watched her mother took the frame with a photo of the four of them from the box. "We wanted you to have a recent photo of us that you can show your friends when they come visit."

"Thank you, you two."

Elizabeth's mother hugged each of them in turn, touched by both the presents. She watched as Elizabeth handed John his presents. One was from her, and she couldn't help but laugh as John's mouth hung open as he saw what was inside the box.

"How... How did you?"

"My friend is the mother of one of the team's coaches. When Elizabeth told me you were a fan, I asked her for a favour."

Elizabeth peeked into the box to see that it contained a jersey with his name on the back, with several signatures on it. She smiled at the sight of John's face; he was sporting the same look their children had on their faces when they were opening their presents.

"What is it, Daddy?" Ely asked, curious as always.

"The best present ever," John answered, showing the jersey to the children.

"A shirt?" she replied, dubious, before looking at her mother who just shrugged.

"Thank you, it really means a lot."

"You're welcome, John."

"I guess my present to you won't be as great as this one," Elizabeth started, taking a box from underneath the tree, "but I remembered you talking about it, so..."

"Music sheets?" John said, having opened the box. "For Johnny Cash's songs? Wow! That's great!"

"Really?" Elizabeth asked, a bit unsure.

"Yes, yes. Now, I can learn to play them, like I've been meaning to. Thank you." He leaned in to kiss her, lingering for a bit longer than he meant to at first. "Now, your turn."

"Ok, then," Elizabeth replied, taking the box her mother was handing her. Unlike her children, she unwrapped the paper carefully, to reveal the first edition of The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats. "Oh, Mom, that must have cost you a fortune!"

"Don't worry, about it, honey," her mother reassured her, before turning to John to explain. "When she was a teenager, she was a big fan of Keats' work. She could read his poems for hours on end, and recite them by heart."

"She still can," John said, smiling as he remembered a few occurrences when she had quoted the poet. "Mine now," he continued, taking a long velvet box from underneath the tree.

"John... This is gorgeous," she whispered, as she opened the box to reveal a white gold necklace with a pendant.

"The children's and our birthstones intertwined. Turquoise for you, topaz for Ely, amethyst for Matthew and rose quartz for me," he said, indicating each stones in turn. "May I...?" he asked, indicating to the necklace.

She nodded in answer, and handed him the box before turning her back to him. He quickly fastened it around her neck, and she turned around to kiss him, fingering the pendant with the hand that wasn't currently in his hair.

"Thank you. It means a lot," she whispered against his lips, before sharing another kiss with her husband.

They were quickly brought back to reality when Ely remembered what she had witnessed the night before, and decided to inform her family about it.

"I saw Mommy kissing Santa!" she exclaimed, making her parents break the kiss and look at her with wide eyes.

"What?" Elizabeth asked, unsure that she heard her daughter right.

"I saw you kissing Santa," Ely repeated, slowly, in such a perfect imitation of her mother that the adults couldn't help but smile. "I saw it, last night. I wanted to see Santa, and I saw you kissing him."

"And what were you doing up at this hour, young lady?"

At her mother's question, Ely had the decency to look sheepish. She knew she might just be in trouble for that. Her parents had always told her that barring an emergency, once she was put in bed, she had to stay in bed, even if she couldn't sleep. Christmas night was no exception, but the possibility of seeing Santa Claus had made her forget all about it.

"Sorry," she said, looking at her mother with the puppy dog eyes she inherited from her father. "But why were you kissing Santa?"

"You don't love Daddy?" Matthew added, putting a thumb in his mouth. He might not be three yet, but he still understood what kissing meant; he saw his parents doing it a lot every day.

"Of course, I love Daddy," Elizabeth reassured her son, taking him in her arms.

"Don't worry about it, kids. Mommy's going to be punished for having kissed another man than me. Now, why don't you two play with your toys while Grandma, Mommy and I prepare the breakfast?" John suggested.

He got up from the floor, and helped his mother-in-law, and then Elizabeth to do the same, before following them to the kitchen.

Once the door was closed, Elizabeth turned towards her husband, with what he had dubbed as her death glare trained on him. He held his hands up in defence, trying to soothe her by using the look he passed onto his children.

"I'm going to be punished?" she repeated his previous words. "May I remind you who decided that it would be fun to dress as Santa while he put the presents underneath the tree?"

"Come on, I bought this costume, and I couldn't not wear it. And if I hadn't worn it, Ely would have known about Santa," he added in a whisper, not wanting the kids to overhear.

"And now, they think I've kissed someone else than you, and you just comforted them in this idea by talking about punishing me for this."

"Children!" Elizabeth's mother warned. "Now's not the time for that. When the kids are old enough, you'll tell them the truth, but for now, let them believe in what Ely saw. And it's just like in the song, she just saw her Mommy kissing Santa, that's all."

"Yeah, it could have been worse, she could have walked in on us... Ouch!" John complained as Elizabeth elbowed him in the gut. Looking at the third person in the room, he decided that her knowing about what he did to her daughter might not be a good idea, after all. "I'm sorry," he told his wife, wrapping his arms around her. He drew her into a kiss, making it last far longer than she would have probably liked. "I'm still planning on punishing you, though," he whispered in her ear, making her blush as she immediately understood what he meant.

"Stop it, you two, and give me a hand, will you?"

"Of course, Mom," Elizabeth replied, pecking John's lips quickly before taking his hands off of her hips.

John watched his wife and mother-in-law as they started to cook breakfast, before deciding to help them by setting the table.

It was Christmas morning, and he was with his family. That was all that mattered right now.