Christmas at the Castle

A Kingdom Hearts fanfic by Raberba girl

This fic is dedicated to Infamousplot, who inspired it. :)

Summary: After Demyx manages to pull off a majority vote for a Christmas party, Axel's left to explain the concept to the kids. Now Roxas & Xion are faced with Christmas shopping for eleven jerks. (No pairings...mostly.)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my best friend gave to me...

Chapter 1 - ...Twelve blazing light-swords...

"Is there any last business before we conclude?" Xemnas asked, surveying the meeting room imperiously.

The Melodious Nocturne raised his hand. "Oooh, ooh, I have something!"

"What is it, Number IX?"

Demyx enthusiastically slapped his hands down on the armrests of his seat. "I propose we celebrate Christmas this year!"

There was a rustle of surprise from the rest of the Organization.

Xemnas frowned. "Christmas?"

"What is the point of celebrating Christmas?" Xaldin rumbled. "Even if we had any interest in the first place, such drivel has ceased to have any importance to us now that we have shed our hearts."

"For you, maybe," Demyx pouted. "But - we've got kids now, you know!"

Everyone looked at little Number XIII, who squirmed uncomfortably under the sudden scrutiny.

"We've never celebrated Christmas," Zexion pointed out. "Even before we became an Organization." He glanced at Vexen for a moment, then away.

"Saïx and I never got an Organization Christmas, either." That was from Number VIII, who was lounging in his chair with an amused grin. Saïx looked as if he would sic a giant banana on anyone who dared suggest he might want a Christmas.

"Aw, that's only cuz you all joined before I did," Demyx said. "Man!" This was to the room at large. "How heartless are you people, depriving these poor kids of a fulfilling childhood?"

"If that was a joke, Number IX," Zexion said coldly, "it wasn't funny."

"Seriously, dude," Xigbar smirked. "Must be running out of good Nobody puns if 'Heartless' is the best you can come up with."

Demyx waved his hand dismissively. "Aw, I'll think of a better one later. The point is! Now that we have kids and I'm here, we have to have Christmas! Roxas, you want Christmas, don't you?"

"What's Christmas?" Number XIII asked cautiously.

There were a few groans and facepalms around the room.

Axel leaned over the side of his chair. "Buddy. You remember Halloween Town?"

"Yeah."

"Christmas is like that. Only shinier, and without the skeletons and exploding pumpkins."

"Oh."

Saïx stared at Axel, shaking his head a little in a show of disbelieving disgust.

Unexpectedly, the Savage Nymph now spoke up. "Well, I'm in favor of the motion." She was grinning at Marluxia for some reason.

"What?!" Demyx burst out in horror. "Never mind, I don't wanna do it anymore!"

"I second the motion," Marluxia said, smirking back at Larxene.

"Thirded," Axel said at once. "Roxas is in, too."

"I am?"

"Yes, you are."

"...Okay."

Zexion buried his face in one hand, his voice a mumble. "I have no objections to the venture if it has a majority vote."

Saïx closed his eyes, as if in a polite version of rolling them. "I have no preference either way."

Xigbar stretched his arms over his head lazily. "Ah, what the heck, I'm in."

Xemnas looked around the room. "What say the rest of you? Number III?"

"Useless drivel," Xaldin said firmly.

"Number IV?"

Vexen sniffed. "I have better things to do with my time than cater to the childish whims of our lower members."

There was an affronted rustle, but none of the grumbling was audible.

"Number V?"

"No preference."

"Number X?"

Luxord shrugged. "Why not? It could be interesting."

"Very well, then. We shall celebrate Christmas. When do you propose to hold the event, Number IX?"

There was a long pause.

"...Superior," Xigbar finally drawled in an amused tone, "Christmas is December 25th."

"That is nearly one month from now," Xemnas mused. "Number IX."

"Yeah?"

"As instigator of this plot, you shall be its organizer."

"What?!"

"You will make regular status reports to Number VII."

"Awww!"

"You all are dismissed." With that, Xemnas opened a corridor of darkness and vanished from his seat.

Larxene laughed. "Well, isn't this gonna be fun! Good luck with your new project, honey." She blew Demyx a sarcastic kiss and disappeared as well.

"Gah, I hate her!" Demyx looked around imploringly. "Come on, guys, someone help me out, here!"

"Dig yourself out of your own mess for once, Number IX." Xaldin vanished pitilessly, along with several of the others.

Demyx's eyes fell on the Key of Destiny. "Hey, Roxas! Little buddy!"

Axel abruptly stood up on his seat. "Don't even think about it, Dem. Roxas, the Proof."

Roxas nodded. He opened a corridor of darkness to the Proof of Existence and was already knocking on Vexen's door by the time he heard Axel materializing behind him.

It was not one of Vexen's Nobody servants, but rather, a small black-haired girl who almost immediately came out to meet them.

"Roxas, Axel! Vexen came back, so that means the meeting's over, right?"

Roxas nodded. "Yeah." He turned to Axel. "Hey, Axel...I had some-"

"Questions, I know." The older Nobody rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. "Xion, I guess it's safe to assume that you have no idea what Christmas is, either, right?"

"Christmas?" Xion said in confusion. "Is that the Heartless we're fighting on our next mission?"

"God bless your clueless little non-existent heart, no. Come on, we're going on a field trip." He turned and opened a corridor to Halloween Town, amused when the younger Nobodies came trotting after him like puppies.

"We decided at the meeting that we're gonna celebrate Christmas," he heard Roxas explaining behind him. "Axel said it's like Halloween, but this time those kids won't blow up pumpkins in our faces."

"Oh, good," Xion said fervently. "I don't like when they do that."

"Me, neither. It hurts."

"You might want to duck, then," Axel advised.

"Huh?"

They stepped out into a dark, dreary courtyard. Just as they were looking around to orient themselves, an orange ball came flying out of nowhere.

"Ahh!" The two young Nobodies instinctively ducked behind their mentor. Axel batted the pumpkin bomb away and smiled in satisfaction when the rebounding prank blew up in the faces of its creators.

"Ahhhh!" Coughing and gasping, Lock, Shock, and Barrel frantically discarded their masks so they could rub soot out of their eyes. Then they leaped back, screeching, when they caught sight of the flame-wreathed figure towering over them.

The fiery spectre of doom smiled. "The next time you trick-or-treating punks play a prank on my friends, I'll roast you alive - that is, after I've shoved these chakrams so far up your little butts that you'll have more stitches than Sally."

"Oogiiiieeee! Save us!"

"We won't do it again, we promise!"

"Meanie!" The tiny hooligans ran away, still gibbering.

Axel laughed and extinguished his flames. "Heh, brats." Then he turned and tilted his head a little. "What's up with you guys?"

Roxas and Xion were huddled together, staring at him with huge eyes. As one, they looked at each other and then flung themselves at him.

"Axel, you were scary!"

"Like some big...fire...monster...thing."

Axel rolled his eyes. "Fine, I won't do it again in front of you." After a minute, he shook his arms, trying in vain to dislodge them. "Come on, guys! It wasn't that scary, you're just jumpy cuz you're in Halloween Town!"

Eventually, he managed to coax them down a road lined with tombstones, out to a forest that was just as dark and eerie as the rest of that world. That is, all except for one part of it, a clump of trees emblazoned with bright, colorful doors.

"I didn't know this place was here," Roxas murmured. He peered at the clover-shaped door, frowning thoughtfully.

"Is this what you wanted to show us, Axel?" Xion asked.

"No. The tree with the tree on it is the one we want."

Roxas and Xion looked at him strangely.

"The Christmas tree! The one with the ornaments- Oh, forget it." Axel marched past them to the Christmas door and opened it. They came over and peered into the black depths. "Hoods up. It's gonna be cold; don't want you getting snow up your ears or something when you land."

"Land?"

Axel placed one palm on Roxas's back and the other palm on Xion's, and shoved.

"Aaaahhh!"

They eventually landed in a pile of snow, which they were pretty slow to get out of since they were so riveted by the sight before them. They were on a white hill overlooking a colorful village, so much cheerier-looking than Halloween Town that it seemed to dazzle their eyes. Tiny multi-colored lights gleamed everywhere, reflecting softly off the snow.

"Heads up!" Axel came crashing into them, but they were too enchanted to care much.

"Axel! Oh, it's so beautiful!"

"Axel, what is this place?"

"Christmas Town," the red-haired Nobody grunted, shaking snow out of his spiky locks. "Come on."

Axel had to admit, it was fun just watching the two kids' first exposure to Christmas magic. He found himself smiling way more than he had a right to as Xion danced in the snow; as Roxas ran to look in the windows, the Christmas lights glowing on his awestruck face; as Xion squealed at her first sight of an elf and threw herself on her knees to hug it; as Roxas cautiously licked a candy cane that another elf handed him and opened his eyes wide at the taste.

"All right, enough already, let's get moving," Axel said gruffly.

"Axel, taste this!" Roxas poked the peppermint stick in his face. "It's like...like...eating a flower-cloud!"

"Roxas..."

"Oh." Roxas peeled off the rest of the wrapping and offered up the candy cane again, this time turned the other way.

"Look, forget the candy cane, there'll be a ton of them on the 25th. We need to start the tour before Saïx realizes we're not on a mission and comes bugging us with assignments."

"There'll be more candy canes on Christmas?" Roxas said eagerly.

"Yeah, like hanging on the tree or in the stockings or something."

"Stockings? Why would anyone put candy in stockings?" Xion asked.

"Yeah, and you keep talking about trees. There aren't any trees at the castle, are there?"

Axel sighed. This was going to be a long afternoon.

o.o.o.o.o

The elf at the clothing store gasped in surprise when the three customers entered her shop: a man in his mid-20s, and two teenagers who huddled close to him but looked around with bright, inquisitive eyes. What startled her was the horribly inappropriate way they were all dressed, shrouded from neck to toe in black, as if they were some of those ghastly Halloween Town citizens.

"Goodness gracious!" she exclaimed. "Christmas is a mere twenty-five days away, surely you don't mean to dampen the festivities with those outfits!"

The children looked down self-consciously, but the man only gave her a haughty sneer. "Why d'you think we're here, Granny? We're aiming for some appropriate attire." The way he enunciated his syllables was condescending, but he was, after all, a paying customer, and was apparently making an effort to rectify his sad state.

"Well, you've come to the right place," she said briskly as she moved around the counter. She smiled at the children, who smiled shyly back. Really, once she had them dolled up to satisfaction, they would be quite precious. "Madame Holly will have you spruced up in a jiffy!"

From long experience, she knew to send off the girl with a large pile of outfits to try on and then keep a close eye on the males, who usually tired much more easily. She focused on the boy first. "Now, then, what's your color?" She took hold of his chin and frowned thoughtfully into his face, charmed by his beautiful sapphire eyes.

"He'd look good in tan," the boy's brother suggested decisively.

"Tan? Nonsense! It's simply a matter of deciding whether he'll look best in green or red."

"Are you kidding?" the man exclaimed.

"Perhaps white."

"Axel," the boy said hesitantly, "I don't mind wearing green or red."

"That's not the point, Roxas!"

Madame Holly tried several variations of traditional elf suits, custom fit Santa styles, and a few costumes such as a snowman and a reindeer, but eventually, she was forced to admit that little Roxas looked best in a uniform...which included tan pants. Since she thought the brothers would be adorable in matching outfits, she found a larger set of the pants and the red buttoned coat for Axel as well.

"We look like freaking tin soldiers!"

"That's the point," she snapped. "If you want something ridiculous, go next door to Halloween Town."

"Define ridiculous," Axel growled, but did not protest too much. He seemed to be worn out from the mountains of clothes he had been made to try on. Roxas looked a bit tired himself.

Xion, on the other hand, seemed to blossom as she came out every couple of minutes to model for them. Roxas praised her each time, since she looked cute in everything; Madame Holly had much the same reaction, but with a more discerning eye. Axel soon resorted to flashing weary thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs. "Oh, for crying out loud...go with that one," he finally burst out. "Look, Roxas doesn't know what hit him, you're gorgeous. Just buy a dress already."

"Well, if you say so," Xion said happily. She tugged at the edge of her skirt in self-conscious pleasure as Roxas told her that she was pretty again.

"Oh, dear," Madame Holly fussed, "it's lovely, but I'm sure a more festive color would be better..." She was cut off by the sound of Axel firmly slamming a pile of munny on the counter.

The trio finally walked back out into the snow, Axel and Roxas in their tin soldier uniforms, Xion in her short purple Santa dress. She adjusted the hat and shivered a little, despite the fact that she also wore boots and leggings. "It's even colder out here than in Vexen's room. Axel, can we please go somewhere else warm?"

Axel rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Guess it's time for Christmas Lesson Number Eight: Hot chocolate."

As he had known they would, they began to chorus in unison, "What's hot-?"

"I'll show you when we get there!" He led the way to a restaurant, where he ordered the works - hot chocolate, apple pie, fruitcake, eggnog, everything. "Now, here's what we're gonna do. We'll spread the food out, you get a little taste of each, I'll tell you what's Christmasey about it, and afterward, you can stuff yourselves as much as you want. Deal?"

"Okay," Xion agreed.

"Axel, how much is all this gonna cost?" Roxas asked worriedly.

Axel practically beamed with pride. His little buddy was getting smarter. "Ah, it'll be fine. Go out and bash some Heartless if you're worried. The evil jack-in-the-boxes leave some good munny drops, just make sure the ones with rifles don't shoot you in the face."

Xion sagged. "I guess this really is still Halloween world, even in the Christmas part of it."

Axel sighed and reached over to fluff her hair. "Hey, could be worse. We could have Jack Skellington planning our Christmas party instead of Demyx."

Roxas ended up voting on the gingerbread cookies as his favorite, and Xion picked the candy canes. Thinking it would amuse him, Axel let them both get tipsy on eggnog, until their waitress finally made a disapproving remark and took the pitcher away.

"Look, Xi-Xi!" Roxas gasped breathlessly, pointing at Axel's hair. "Axel! His head! Looks like it's on fire!"

"He's the Furry- Foofy...Fluvy?" Xion slurred.

"Flurby," Roxas corrected. "Of Dangling Flames."

"Juuuust like the flaming pudding!" Xion shrieked, and the two of them dissolved into hysterical laughter.

Axel surveyed them distastefully. "I changed my mind, this is not amusing, we're going home."

"AHAHA!"

"Flaming Pudding Head!"

"HAHAHAAA!"

"Furly of-"

"HAHA, DON'T!"

"Caramelldansen-!"

"Noooo, I'm gonna pee!"

"Flame-boiled-!"

"Don't, don't, really, I-! ...Axel, I wet my pants."

Axel slammed his hand down on the table. "Forget it, you two find your own way home!"

"Noooo!"

"Axel, don't leeaave meee!"

"You and your wet pants get away from me!" Axel slung his coat around his shoulders and threw himself into a corridor of darkness, but not before both kids flung themselves after him and Roxas hit the floor face first, knocking himself out. Axel was forced to carry him, with Xion clinging to his arm, practically in tears the whole way.

"Last time I ever, ever let you two touch eggnog again...or anything with alcohol in it, for that matter..."

o.o.o.o.o

Saïx happened to be in the Proof of Existence when Numbers VIII, XIII, and XIV materialized nearby, all of them with disheveled coats that only partially concealed the irregular costumes beneath. The Luna Diviner watched as Axel herded both of the children into Number XIII's room. There was some yelling and crashing, and then Axel came out again, collapsing back against the portal's frame with a loud groan.

"Trouble with the subordinates?" Saïx said dryly.

Axel glared. "Aside from having to baby-sit a couple of dorks with bladder control issues and zero tolerance for alcohol, I'm peachy. Why do you ask?"

Saïx frowned. "They're underage. And were supposed to be collecting hearts, anyway."

"...Time was you'd smirk and make some insulting joke. You've gotten so boring, man."

"Are you trying to goad me? An exercise in futility. You should know that."

Axel rolled his eyes and wandered over to lean more comfortably against the wall. "Must've lost your sense of humor along with your heart, buddy."

Saïx merely raised his clipboard and began taking notes again, murmuring orders to a few waiting Dusks nearby.

"Oi, Sai. You remember our last Christmas in Radiant Garden?"

Saïx paused. "You mean the one where you set your stepfather's pants on fire?"

Axel grinned. "That's the one. Man, that was ages ago. You think Christmas'll really be any fun, now that we're not kids anymore?"

"I'm sure that the absence of a heart has a negative effect on the experience, if nothing else."

Axel looked away, thinking resentfully, 'See, this is why I stopped hanging out with you. You're so dang depressing now, Isa.'

There was a long, quiet moment, as Saïx kept working and Axel considered leaving. Then Saïx said quietly, "For what it's worth, I still find the recollection of those flaming pants to be faintly amusing. Odd, isn't it? I should have no emotional investment in the memory at all."

Axel smiled. "Yeah, well, you can't go wrong with a pair of combusting pinstriped trousers."

"I can think of many, many ways such a thing could go wrong."

"Which was why it was always me setting things on fire instead of you."

"True."

To be continued...

Author's Notes: Slightly AU, because I wanted to include the entire Organization.

Technically, I suppose that eggnog could make someone drunk if they consumed enough of it and had a low enough tolerance for alcohol, but the effects are probably exaggerated here for humor purposes. *sweatdrop*

Infamousplot's fic A Different Sort of Love had a line in it that gave me the idea to write a story where Roxas & Xion go Christmas shopping for the rest of the Organization. XD It was originally just supposed to be a one-shot, but then I found myself adding in all this stuff about daily life in the Castle That Never Was, and the trio traveling to worlds that weren't in Days, so it got a LOT longer than planned. Eventually, I decided to do a "Twelve Days of Christmas" chapter theme, so I split up the material accordingly.

...Funny how the first one to actually say "flaming pants" was Saïx, not Axel. XD XD XD Ah, nostalgia...that scene right there at the end was my first attempt at AkuSai friendship, which eventually became my OTP. X3

This fanfic, being my first Kingdom Hearts non-crossover canon-based multi-chapter, became the foundation for much of my KH headcanon. Many of my later KH fics reference it in some way. ^^