Title: "Three Lizards and Mistletoe"
Author: Pirate Turner
Dedicated To: My beloved, wondrous, and always inspirational and amazing Jack, and our darling babies - Merry Christmas and Happy Solstice, my loves! This is the first story in my 12 Days of Solstice/Christmas for my beloved Jack and our darling babies of the year 2011.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Ace thinks he gets to hold a Christmas miracle in his arms until he's reminded of what a true Christmas miracle is.
Spoilers: None
Warnings: Het, Original Character
Word Count (excluding heading): 2,799
Timeline: Follows the author's "The First Time He Met His 'Demon' Woman", "Close Encounters", "Third Time's A Charm", "Four Fallen", "Full Moon Rising", "Where Love Never Ends", and "Of Trolls and Leprechauns"
Disclaimer: Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, and Spike are ᄅ & TM their respective owners, not the author, and are used without permission. Pet Detective Kathleen "Kat" O'Hara, Captain, the rest of the animal characters mentioned within, and everything else is ᄅ & TM the author; none of these characters may be used without permission. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.

He ran through the busy, bustling street as carolers sang and last minute shoppers fought over what gifts were left. He kept his head bent low, and his thin arms wrapped around him as he struggled to make his way down the street and against the crisp, biting air of the North Wind. It was Christmas Eve, and Ace Ventura ran apparently alone with his treasures tucked unseen by the milling humans against his scrawny body.

They should have already been home, Ace reflected sadly, snuggled into the thick blankets he kept sprawled across his cold apartment this time of the year. They should have been home and ready to unwrap the few presents he'd managed to accumulate for his best friends, the catnip mice for the cats, the couple of boxes of dog biscuits for the dogs, and the few other gifts he'd managed to squirrel away enough dollars over the last year to buy for his animal friends. He had nothing at home waiting for himself but his friends, and that was just fine by him.

He felt the pressure against his chest begin to shiver and wrapped his arms more tightly around the little puppy he'd rescued just two hours earlier. He was cold, the puppy even colder, and he knew he had to hurry and get the baby lizards curled into the pockets of his striped pants out of this winter weather for they'd surely freeze if they were out here much longer. Ace sighed and doubled his speed again. He didn't know why his car had to break down again today, of all days. If he could ask Santa Claus for just one thing, it would be for perfect happiness, harmony, and safety for all the animals in the world. The second thing would be a car, and he wouldn't even care what kind of a car it was as long as it ran the way it should, which his broken-down heap of a vehicle never had.

He was just turning a street corner when a door opened. He narrowly missed running straight into it as he skittered around it. The stale and strong scents of beer and whiskey assaulted his nose and made his newest puppy whine. Yet, with those awful scents and the loud raucous of rowdy voices doing poor imitations of Christmas songs, came a flash of heat that was most welcome in the cold. Ace would have been tempted to stop into the bar himself normally, but he couldn't afford to drown his troubles in the relief that alcohol offered lest he fail to be the ultimate protector his animal friends needed.

He was beginning to run on pass the bar when he saw a woman emerge and stopped dead in his tracks. She stumbled and would have fallen if she hadn't grabbed the door's edge. She belched, and Ace could smell the scent of whisky on her breath even from the few feet that still separated them. Still he stood riveted and held captive by her beauty as he had been since the first time he'd set eyes upon her. "Kat O'Hara," he spoke her name in surprise, his eyes growing wider. What in the world was she doing getting drunk on Christmas Eve?

"Tha' be me name," she slurred, her emerald eyes flashing all around her. "Who be stupid enough tae be callin' it?" She curled her hands into fists, her black fingernails pointing upwards, and Ace ran to her. Though he knew she could easily kill him on the spot with little more than a mere thought, he bravely caught her hands in his. Recognition dawned in her besotted eyes, and she tugged against his grasp. "Let gi o' me, ye bloody bastard, 'fore'n I fry ye!"

"You could fry me," he whispered, "but then every one on this street would know your secret." He cocked his head and gazed worriedly into her eyes. "Why are you drunk, Kat?"

"Who said anythin' 'bout me bein' drunk?" she demanded. Her slurred voice broke off into Gaelic, and chills swept through him as she ranted, her emerald eyes flashing. Then, as easily as her words had shifted into her native tongue, she returned to English. "Besides, if'n I am drunk, 'tis me own damn business tha' I am!"

He shrugged his slender shoulders as he fought down the primal urges roaring within him to take her into his arms, hold her against her will, love her as he knew she so sorely needed, and protect her from the cruelty of the humans all around them. "I just thought you'd be spending Christmas with your animal friends," he told her with an innocent smile, "like I plan on doing with mine."

"I will be," she snarled. "Who said I would nae be? I'll be back wit' 'em soon. 'Tis nae like they're goin' anywhere, nae like . . . " She paused. Pain flashed in her glowing, green orbs, and she again shot off into an angry tirade of Gaelic.

Ace had no idea what on Earth she was saying, but her beautiful voice, though filled with fury, still caressed his ears and made his heartbeat quicken. He'd love to understand what she was saying, even if she was cussing him for everything bad in the book, but the clearing of a male voice caught his ears and pulled his attention away from his beautiful Kat's tirade. It was the proud, tabby cat sitting on top of Kat's black-clad shoulders who had made the sound, and Ace's eyebrows shot up as he saw the cat pointing to something before his beloved mistress' head! Ace's eyes grew wide, and then slowly he smiled.

"Be that as it may," he told Kat suddenly in a tone far smoother than he felt, "I'd hate to be the one to break tradition." She struggled even harder against him as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer against him.

"I'll fry ye tae bloody soot, ye bastard!"

"No, you won't," he told her gently. There was neither accusation nor threat in his voice as he stated the mere fact. "I've got three lizards in my pockets and a puppy in my shirt. You won't do anything to me, because you won't want to hurt them." He wondered what Spike would think if he could see him now, but he'd left his best friend at the apartment to finish getting their place ready for Christmas.

She struggled against him like a wild animal, but if there was one thing Ace Ventura knew, it was how to hold on to and calm a wild beast. He wrapped his arms more tightly around her and stroked her back with his slightly trembling hands. The puppy whined and poked his little, furry head out of Ace's Bahamas shirt just as Kat's eyes had been narrowing in on him again. He yipped, and Kat let out another string of Gaelic.

This time, Ace knew for sure that it was a curse, but he didn't let it bother him. Instead his grin just grew, spreading further over his handsome face as he told her, "I'm not the one standing underneath mistletoe, beautiful." Then, before she could fight him any further, Ace leaned up and pressed his lips to hers. She struggled even harder against him, but he kept his arms wrapped around her and continued kissing her. He heard shouts from inside the bar as men who had watched the fiery woman congratulated him for getting this far, but they didn't matter. Nothing mattered to Ace except his animal friends and this most beautiful of the human females who shared his love for their furry, scaly, and feathered friends.

He kept kissing her, his tongue slipping out from between his lips to press against her closed mouth, and slowly he felt her begin to grow limp inside the safety of his arms. His heart warmed and then soared to heaven as he felt her, at long last, begin to return his kiss. The puppy yipped; Captain mewed. Still Ace kissed Kat, his tongue finally managing to pry her lips apart, seep pass her guard, and bury itself in the warm, sweet, and silken contours of her hot, Irish mouth. He'd told her he had three lizards in his pocket, and it wasn't a lie. The two lizards he'd rescued slept in tight, curled balls inside the depths of his pockets, and the third pressed against her womanhood between their clothes, straining against Ace's striped trousers and roaring with his need to feel her closer.

His hands swept up and down her back. His tongue twisted against hers, and he deepened their kiss. His brown eyes had been gazing into her emerald orbs all this time, but now, slowly, they began to drift shut as they were overcome with the incredible passion sparking between the two of them. He should have recognized his warning at that time, however, as Kat's own eyes popped wide. He should have known she was beginning to sober up some and realizing what she was doing, but he was too lost in the moment to see the anger beginning to flash again in her emerald orbs.

Her lips slowed against his; a whimper broke free from his mouth. He attempted again to deepen their kiss and pulled her harder against him. His brown eyes shot wide open as she stomped down on his foot, and then he yowled with pain as she bit his lip. She pushed against him, her hands shoving against his thin shoulders, as she declared, "Di nae e'er come tha' close tae me again, ye bloody bastard!" Her words again broke into Gaelic as she stormed pass him, and Ace turned slowly behind her fury to see her best friend and partner still gazing at him from her shoulder.

Captain winked at him, causing Ace's frown to deepen and his forehead to furrow. No animal had ever purposefully gotten him into trouble before, and then as he heard snow bells jingle from somewhere further down the street, Ace realized Captain's silent message. They both knew that Kat needed more loving than what she allowed herself to receive, and although she was furious at him now and would still be thrilled to get a chance to fry his butt, she had melted. For one glorious moment on this Christmas Eve, wrapped in his arms and the glowing love he offered her, the far too proud and angry Detective Kat O'Hara had melted in his arms!

"YES!" Ace shouted, jumping into the air for joy and throwing his fists up with congratulatory punches. The puppy still wrapped inside his shirt wriggled against him. His little tail beat at Ace's chest, and he barked happily. The little guy didn't have an idea what he was so happy about, Ace knew, but he'd soon learn. He'd have a mother yet!

He rubbed his head and then felt one of the lizards slide back against the thin material of his trousers separating him from Ace's skin. An icy cold touched Ace as the lizard brushed against him, and Ace's joy fell. He had to hurry home! He had to hurry and get those two babies some heat, or it would be too late!

He started to rush down the street but paused as he heard a weak, little mew. He turned around and saw a tiny, fuzzy head gazing at him from the alley way. The baby kitten was barely as big as one of Ace's hands, and her green eyes were the largest thing about her. They stared at him, and he gazed back into her pools, seeing her hunger, sorrow, fear, and coldness. He dashed into the alley and had her in the safety of his hands within scant minutes.

He would have called finally getting to kiss Kat O'Hara a Christmas miracle, but as Ace held the small, shivering kitten and pressed his lips to her furry, gray head, he knew he was wrong. Kissing any woman, even Kat, wasn't a miracle, but rescuing this poor darling, and each of the little lives he held and protected, was indeed a miracle. "Now, you," he told her, raising her in his hands and gazing up at her, "really are a Christmas miracle!" He brought her down to him and kissed her again; her playfully batting, fuzzy paws fell gently against his handsome face.

Ace tingled inside as she began to purr to him, and the tingles he felt now were far different from those his beautiful, beloved Kat had poured into his heart, soul, and body while they'd kissed. This was a true Christmas miracle, and this was what he lived for! He kissed the kitten again and tucked her into his shirt. After making sure the alley was empty of any other lives needing his protection, help, and love, Ace hurried on toward his apartment.

It wasn't much, he thought, as he jingled his keys into the door. It was small, poorly furnished, cold, and dirty, but it was home. He opened the door after the third jingle, slipped inside, shut and locked it behind him, and then leaned against his frame. He let his eyes drift shut for a moment as he felt his animal friends beginning to come to him before he even called for them. It had been a busy day full of miracles, and despite his car breaking down and the fact that he had no Christmas feast or even warmth awaiting him, Ace was happy.

It was a glorious Christmas, and he received one last Christmas wonder as he opened his eyes to the calls of his animal brethren and gazed about him in awe at the apartment. He shook his head slowly, his brown eyes growing big and beginning to fill with joyful tears. A banner stretched across the top of his ceiling, and the writing that had been scribbled on it by caring paws welcomed him home. Gold and silver lights sparkled on a tall Christmas tree, and Ace shook his head in wonder. Blankets were still strewn across his little apartment along with tattered remains of bows, ribbons, and wrapping paper, but there were more presents tucked beneath the biggest tree he'd seen in years waiting to be opened than he'd ever thought possible.

Some of his animal friends were gathering around him, eager to welcome both him and the newcomers to home, while others were beginning to push some of the presents out from underneath the tree to him. Ace gently put the puppy and kitten on the floor; they were instantly surrounded by penguins, raccoons, and other cats who would led them to milk and food.

He emptied his pockets. Two hawks swept down and gently picked up the freezing lizards in their talons. They flew through the apartment with them and dropped them directly before the heating lamp set up for the other amphibians. There, the tiny, green animals were covered by warm hands as their brothers and sisters helped them to revive.

Ace looked back to the tree and grinned again as Spike swung up and down on its branches. He chattered happily, then swung from the tree's boughs to Ace's shoulder. Ace looked from him down to his animal friends who were bringing him presents. "For me?" he asked.

"*Of course,*" Spike chittered in agreement and rubbed his face against his. He wrapped his small, furry arms around Ace's neck and gave him a big hug. "*You don't think we'd let Christmas go by without thanking our father and best friend, did you?*"

Ace blushed. He didn't know how they had managed it, but he shook his head. "No," he agreed and dropped to the floor. He was immediately covered by his animal friends, and though the presents with which he was presented were simple, old toys; saved bones; and bits of Mother Nature and things other humans had thrown away outside that somehow his friends had gotten while he was out on his errands and rescues, Ace showed that he was wowed by each and every one. In truth, it was the love he shared with his animal family that really filled him with such happiness and glee, and it was their love, and each of their lives that he and Spike had saved, that were his true Christmas miracles.

"Merry Christmas, every one!" he called out. "I love you!" Then he tackled his friends onto the floor, wrapping them in his love and spending not only the rest of the holiday but all his life rolling and playing with them and always showing them how infinitely much he loved them and that they would always be his greatest treasures of all!

The End