Well, I'm back from quite a break. I did not intend for the break, and I'm gonna have to work my butt off to get the next few chapters out on time now, but oh well, that's life. You might be asking, "Hey! Where the heck were you the last few days?! You promised us chapters!" And, to put it simply, my family just went through a bit of a hectic pre-Christmas crisis. I wanted to update, but I'm sorry, guys, when my family is having the issues they were dealing with the past three days, they come first. I'm not going to go into detail about what happened, but it's all good now. Everything is fine, and we are back on track for the holidays. More good news, the world hasn't ended today yet! Yaaay! Merry Christmas, Day 6!
"You haven't told him yet?"
"Well… I… I don't think it's time, yet. Do you?"
Drew was a green haired pokemon coordinator from the Hoenn region. He was not used to the colder weather of Johto, but inside the pokemon center he was able to sport his normal black shirt and purple short-sleeved button up combo. His hands were currently touching his hips in a manner that suggested a bit of an attitude as he stared down his equally young brunette friend, May.
May spun the green bandana around her head with a single finger in a nervous fashion. "Well… it's just… he's only eight, right?"
Drew and May had been traveling together for a few months now, and May's younger brother, Max, had only recently joined them on their journey. Max was usually labeled as kind of a know-it-all, and he deserved to be. The dark haired boy was extremely intelligent for his age, as clearly indicated by his thick glasses and collared green shirt. This is why Drew was so shocked to find out that Max still believed in Santa Claus at his age.
"And… his father hasn't said anything yet?" Drew asked.
In truth, May's father, Norman, never was a huge supporter of Santa Claus. It was her mother that kept Father Christmas alive in their house. May had often feared that it would come to this, a Christmas where she was somehow alone with Max and there was no one else around to play Santa.
"Well… it doesn't… really…" her voice murmured off into silence. She crossed her arms a little bit in defense.
Drew realized that May was in an uncomfortable place right now, and he walked over to his friend to give her a pat on the back for comfort. "Hey, don't worry about it." He assured, "I'll take care of the whole thing for you."
May perked up at the sound of that. "Really?" she smiled, "You'd do that for me, Drew?"
"Of course!" he shrugged, "What are friends for?"
"OH! Thank you so much!" she squealed as she clomped onto the boy with a giant hug, "I owe you SO MUCH for this one!"
Drew was starting to blush from this position. "Hehe… Don't… mention it, May… I'll even take care of it right now!"
The girl pushed off of her friend in confusion. "Wait. How are you going to do it right now? It's like 2:00 pm."
"What's time gotta do with it?"
"Time has everything to do with it. It might be Christmas Eve, but Santa doesn't show up until late at night."
"Wait…" Drew stopped her, "I think there's a communication issue here. What do you think I'm going to do?"
This time May put her hands on her hips. "Every year at my house, my mom hires someone to show up dressed as Santa Claus to give us all our gifts. You just volunteered to do it for me."
"WOAH!" Drew yelled as he waved his hands in front of his face, "I was just offering to go break the news to Max that Santa doesn't exist! I was never offering to look like an idiot!"
"What?! Are you crazy?!" she shot back, "I don't want you to tell him Santa doesn't exist!"
"Well, why not? Mommy and Daddy aren't around. What'll they care?"
"Excuse me?" May was getting angry now, "Imagine if you let your little boy go off with his older sister on an adventure to another region! If he came back telling you that he didn't believe in Santa anymore, don't you think you'd be a little ticked?"
"I don't know!" Drew cried, "I've never had a kid!"
"Hey, May!" Max peeked his head into the bedroom, "Are we gonna wish Mom and Dad a 'merry Christmas' over the phone before we leave again tomorrow?"
"Umm… sure, Max…" she mumbled, trying to determine how much of the previous conversation her brother might have heard, "Are you okay with not being home this year?"
The boy simply smiled and gave his sister a small shrug, "I don't know why ya keep askin' me that, sis. I'm doing fine! It's kind of like a vacation."
May nodded. "You just miss Mom and Dad is all."
"Exactly." He confirmed, "It wouldn't be in the Christmas spirit to just ignore 'em. In fact, I'm gonna try to make a phone call to everyone I know tomorrow!"
"That's nice." She smiled at him.
"Alright, Max. We need to have a talk." Drew interrupted.
"Sure, Drew. What's up?"
"You know Santa-" May stopped her rival short by covering his mouth with her hands.
"Uhh… What's up?" the kid asked again.
"Oh, it's nothing!" May chuckled, "Drew was just shutting up, right, Drew?"
The boy only grunted and growled in response as he tried to pull May's hands off of his face.
"Something about Santa, right?" Max prodded, "He's still gonna come tonight, isn't he?"
"Hehe, of- of course he is, Max!" May tried to defend, "He goes around the whole world on Christmas Eve!"
Drew was really getting his whole body into it now. He was about to push May over. "MMMM-MHMMH-FMHMMF!" he screamed.
"Alriiiight…" the boy continued, "What were you going to tell me about Santa, then?"
"Oh, it's nothing." The coordinator chuckled, "It's just that… um… Santa has been working out a lot this year."
Max raised an eyebrow. "Working out?"
"Yeah…" May sat her eyes back on Drew, "In fact, he might seem a lot shorter this year than you're used to."
Drew's eyes narrowed. "MMM-FMHM!" he insisted.
"Is… that… it?" Max asked.
"Absolutely!" his sister chirped back, "Feel free to get back to… whatever it was you were doing!"
Max shrugged again as he slowly left the room. "Alright… Well, thanks…" He had some weird family.
As soon as the younger boy had safely departed from the room, May let go of Drew's mouth.
"WOAH!" he screamed as he began to gasp for any air, "May! …You've got one heck of a grip!"
The girl sweatdropped and rubbed the back of her neck a bit. "Yeah… Well, I guess you never know what you're capable of until you're put on the spot…"
After Drew had finally caught his breath, he looked May straight in the eyes again. "You do realize that you've just delayed the inevitable, though?"
May almost spoke again, but Drew cut her short. "And I am not wearing a Santa suit tonight!"
"Look," she volunteered, "my mom and dad will tell Max the truth when the time is right for them, but as for now, you need to STAY OUT OF IT! It's none of your business!"
"Well, I'M NOT WEARING A SANTA SUIT!" he countered again.
"Fine!" May shouted, finally giving up the whole thing, "I'll just make a few phone calls tonight and see if I can get a fake Santa to show up, but you do realize that under most circumstances, you would be crushing a little boys dreams, right?"
"Please. He's eight. In two years he'll be out traveling on his own." Drew began to walk out of the room, "You've gotta grow up eventually."
May simply watched the boy make his way into the hall. He could make her so furious sometimes! Drew had no idea how annoying he was!
The coordinator walked over to the red backpack that sat on her bed, and she pulled out a small pokegear device. If she was going to find a fake Santa on Christmas Eve, she was going to need to make A LOT of phone calls.
The night seemed to come faster than it normally did. In just a few hours, all of Johto was covered with a black, star speckled sky, along with a fair layer of snow, and inside the pokemon center, Max was getting restless.
"Alright!" the little boy cheered as he finished helping Nurse Joy decorate a beautifully large tree, "How long do you think it will be until Santa gets here?"
Joy smiled at him. "Well, dear, I was always told that Santa didn't come until all of the little children were in bed."
Max chuckled. "Well, maybe so, but you also don't decorate your tree until the very last second."
"Well, this is true." She said, giggling along with him, "I suppose everyone has different traditions."
Now, Max let out a HUGE grin. "Santa visits me personally!"
"Oh, he does, does he?"
"Yep. My family's got connections."
Joy's smile slowly turned into a frown. "Well, honey, there's no guarantee that he's going to come tonight, you know? He may not know where you are."
Max shrugged that suggestion off as he began toward the back hallway. "Nah, he's magic. He'll be fine."
May and Drew were back in their room again, discussing the night's plans.
"And he should be here any minute now." May finished with a smile.
Drew simply leaned against the wall with a sigh. "Nothing good will come of this."
"Oh, don't be such a Grinch!" she insisted, "I'm lucky to have even found this guy! He has an official suit, an official sled, and even an official beard! He demands payment on the spot!"
Drew smiled at that one. "Oh really? On the spot?"
"Yep." May smiled, "As soon as he shows up."
"Okay, then how do you plan on giving him the money right away without Max noticing?"
May's eyes grew wide. She hadn't thought of that yet.
"And speaking of that," Drew continued, "All of our presents are still in here, under your bed."
May's eyes darted over to her bunk this time. It was crammed with gift wrappings, shopping bags, and presents underneath. "Santa" did not have any of them. She hadn't thought of that either.
"Did you think any of this through?" Drew nagged, "Santa is going to walk through the door of the pokemon center with an empty bag and immediately ask 'Where's my money?' At least it'll be a Christmas Max never forgets."
"Oh no!" May whispered, "I… I've gotta find a way to get this stuff to him before he bursts through the front door looking like a crazy hobo thief!"
Drew laughed at that. "Sounds like a merry Christmas to me!"
"Hey, guys!" Max's voice echoed from down the hallway, "Get over to the lobby! I just finished the Christmas tree, and Santa will be here any minute!"
May began to freak out. "Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! What do I do?!"
"Get a hold of yourself!" Drew commanded, grabbing her by the shoulders, "Just bring the money and the presents out to the front of the center, and meet Santa there!"
"Right… right…" She calmed down a little. She ran to her bed and pulled the bundle of gifts out from underneath. "Okay, how do I get to the front of the center without Max noticing?"
Drew opened the room's window and motioned outward to his friend.
"Ugh!" She sighed, "You have GOT to be kidding me."
With no other real way out, May stumbled through the window and out into the snow with her arms full of presents.
"Alright, are you good?" Drew asked from the inside.
"Last chance to be the good guy and help!" May offered.
Drew pretended to think about it for a second, but he quickly dismissed the idea by slamming the window in May's face.
"Jerk!" she called back in, "I'm not even dressed for this!"
May would have kept yelling at the boy in vain, but she was interrupted by a stark "Ho Ho Ho!" coming from the front of the building. She left in a rush to investigate.
Sure enough, a fat man in a red suit with a white beard and a hat was making his way to the front of the pokemon center.
"I think I'd better give it one more practice…" he muttered. The man cleared his throat, complete with a slight amount of coughing. "Ho Ho Ho!"
"Excuse me! Excuse me, sir!" May announced as she ran up to the phony Saint Nick.
The man turned around to find a girl covered in presents charging for him.
"Hey! What's goin' on?"
May screeched to a halt without thinking, and everything she was holding came flying out of her hands and right into the face of the Santa Claus. The collision pushed him to the ground.
"Oops…" she whispered.
May bent over in a panic and took the presents from the ground. "I'm SO sorry!" she emphasized, "I've just been in such a panic, and Max is right inside the pokemon center, and you didn't have your money, and-" she stopped.
After lifting a present off of the man's face, she froze completely. The man was not responding or moving in anyway. He simply lay in the snow with his eyes closed. Only now did May realize that she had knocked Santa completely unconscious.
"OH MY GOSH!" She screamed, "What have I done?!" She pulled a few more boxed and bags off of the portly old man, and she tried to stand him up on your feet.
"Come on... Come on..." she muttered, "You're fine..."
He proved to be too heavy, and he fell over on the girl.
After fighting to get out from underneath the imposter, May was even colder than she had been earlier. After all, the guy did just slam her into the snow. Shivering, the young coordinator reached into Santa's coat to try to find a pokegear or an ID or something.
"Well... I can't just leave you out here in the snow..." she admitted, but as she shuffled around in his pockets, all May could come across was a small business card.
The card clearly read:
"Should something happen to me, put on the suit and board the sleigh. The stantler will know what to do."
May shrugged and put the paper in her side fanny pack. "Stantler?"
The girl turned around to find a miniature sleigh with eight tiny stantler attached to the front via rope. "Oh boy... This guy goes all out..."
Drew was waiting.
It was just one of the typical "cool guy" things he did. He was waiting.
He was leaning up against the side wall of his bedroom at the pokemon center, waiting.
The boy smiled as he thought about the different things that might come out of this unusual predicament. He was either waiting to hear a man yell, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!" from down the hall or hear a man yell, "Hey, everybody, I'm here ta play Santy Claus! Can someone tell me where I can find a 'May Maple?'" Either way, this was going to be good.
Drew peeked up from his day dream. Where had that voice come from?
It sounded like May. Drew turned his head around the room slowly, settling again on the only window. May was outside, covered in snow, tapping on the glass and biting her lower lip.
Things may have just gotten even more unusual.
The boy made his way over to the glass and opened the window silently.
"What's going on?" he whispered.
May did not respond with words, but, instead, she just ran back out into the snow, motioning for Drew in a very frantic manner.
The boy released a long sigh before he decided to go ahead and follow his friend.
May led Drew straight to the sleigh out back and showed him the unconscious Santa Claus that she had somehow managed to prop up against it.
Drew immediately busted into laughter. "What on Earth did you do?"
"I... I was just trying to give him the presents we needed..." she whispered solemnly.
"What how are you going to trick Max now?" he scoffed, "I mean, this guy is out cold. Pun intended."
May did not look at Drew. She turned her face to the ground and began to cry.
"Ok... May..." he began, "May... I didn't mean that you should cry."
"It's no use!" She sobbed, "You were right! In my infinite stupidity, I ended up ruining the only chance I had to keep Santa Claus alive in Max's eyes! There was never any way that this was going to end well! I screwed it all up..."
Drew pushed May's chin up as ice cold tears were still running down her cheeks. "Hey, I didn't mean it like that." he assured, "I'm sure everything will be fine. There's no reason to get upset like this. Max was bound to learn the truth eventually."
May just sobbed a little softer, pulling away from Drew's hand and pointing her face at the ground again.
The green haired coordinator let out his second long sigh of the day. "What size do you think this guy's suit is?"
Max was sitting in a soft chair in the pokemon center. It was one of those chairs that trainers often used when they were waiting for their pokemon to heal. He was just biding his time until Santa showed up, and, although the average onlooker might think differently, he could not contain his excitement.
When, all of the sudden, the pokemon center doors slid open, and in strode a short old man with a beard an suit. In only a moment, Max recognized Santa Claus.
"SANTA!" the little boy screamed with cheer.
Nurse Joy was almost completely asleep, but that woke her up with a startle. "HELLO, AND WELCOME TO THE POKEMON CENTER!" she began, but as her eyes fixed on the figure in the lobby she gasped in disbelief. "Santa Claus?!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" the jolly old man laughed, "Is there a little boy in here named Max?"
"IT'S ME, SANTA!" Max laughed as he ran over and hugged the skinnier version of his favorite gift giver, "DONCHA REMEMBER ME FROM LAST YEAR!"
"Oh, geeze..." the man muttered, "Uhh... Yes! Of course I do!" He let out another cheerful laugh, "You sure have grown a lot. Is your sister, May around?"
Max grinned. "She and her boyfriend decided to go to sleep early this Christmas. If you leave me with their presents, though, I'll be sure to deliver them tomorrow!"
BOYFRIEND?! Drew growled a little bit, but then, to his surprise, May appeared outside of a window behind Max. She snapped her fingers a few times and then pointed at her brother with a determined and serious frown.
'Pay Attention!' she was saying, 'Snap out of it, and remember what you're supposed to be doing!'
Drew shook his head a few times and got back to the problem at hand. "Okay little boy. So, have you been good this year?"
Max was giving Santa a second look over, and he was becoming suspicious about what was going on. "Man... May wasn't kiddin' when she said you were working on your figure this year."
"Uhh... Weightwatchers." he replied with a sweatdrop. "There are some things even magic can't take care of?"
Max raised an eyebrow at this new Santa. "Well, why are you just getting thin now? You've been around for hundreds of years."
"Exactly! And Santa would like to be around for another few hundred years, thank you!" he grunted. Drew was getting tired of this. This whole episode needed to end. He started to reach in his sack of gifts. "Okay... You've been a very good boy this year, and I-"
"You know, I also notice that your beard is less flowy than normal..." Max continued.
Drew looked back at the window that May was in for advice. The girl just shrugged.
"Uhhh... Diabetes." Drew explained. May facepalmed herself. "Diabetes. Santa has diabetes from all of his cookies. That's why I'm on a diet this year. As you can see, it has already affected my beard."
Max was really thrown off by that one. "Ooookay... Then why is your hat on so tight?" he asked again, "I can't even see your snow white hair."
Drew pulled the hat on tighter. "Santa is going bald, and he is embarrassed.
May was now outside the window hitting herself with repetitive facepalms. This was not going well.
"Sooo... You're dieting, you have diabetes, and you're going bald?"
"It's been a rough year for Santa." he growled, "Now, can we just open your presents?"
"Hold on!" Max said one last time, "I'm just trying to verify here. I'm gonna ask you something only the real Santa would know..."
Drew began to sweat. He looked over at May, who shrugged nervously again. "O...Okay..." he conceded.
Max looked at him with a completely serious complexion. "What did I get for Christmas last year?"
Drew sighed, and he looked over to the window, where May was motioning her hands up and down as if something were opening and closing. Then, she imitated a typing motion. Drew smiled.
"YOU REALLY ARE SANTA!" the little boy cried, pulling Drew into an embrace.
At that moment, the young coordinator realized that dressing up as Santa was totally worth the fashion crime. He smiled. "Ho! Ho! Ho! Alright, let's acutually get to opening up your presents then, shall we?"
The rest of the night went off without a hitch, for the next few minutes, Drew handed Max his new Christmas presents, including the ones intended for him and May, and he laughed at the joyful sight of Max ripping into them with eagerness. Drew reminded Max to be good next year too, and he even gave Nurse Joy a hearty laugh and a 'merry Christmas.'
When things were all done, he began to walk outside the center, and Max began to follow him.
"Where do you think you're going, little boy?" he asked in a teasing voice.
Max shrugged. "To be honest, Santa, I kind of wanted to see your sleigh. Recently, I've been doubting whether you were even real of not."
Drew leaned down and spoke to Max on a personal level. "Santa is always real." he explained, "Every time you give a gift to someone or even do a good deed, not expecting anything in return, you have the spirit of good ol' Saint Nick inside you."
"Wow." Max gasped with a smile.
"But now I must be off! I can't have little boys sneaking rides on my sleigh!"
And with that, a bright light bursted through the outside door, the heat resonating inside and nearly onto Max's clothes. Then, when the boy could finally see through his squinting eyes again, Santa was gone.
The little boy ran back inside with an excited and renewed feeling in his heart, ready to play with his new toys.
"Well, did it work?"
Drew looked up to May, who was sitting on the roof of the pokemon center with his roselia next to her. The boy coordinator currently dangled from the end of a vine whip, half way up the side of the pokemon center.
"I think it actually went really well." he responded.
The girl helped him up to the very top of the center, and then she called her blaziken back into its pokeball. The trick they had pulled off was actually quite impressive. May had used Blaziken to shoot a burst of fire in front of Drew while he was standing at the center door, and then, before it cleared out of the way, Roselia vine whipped the boy up away from the door, making it appear as though a bright light had appeared and Santa had just vanished.
"Now, doesn't it feel good to be the good guy?" May asked.
Drew smiled. "Well, don't get used to it." he looked back to the ground, "Hey... Where did Santa go?"
May peered into the snow as well to notice the man and his sleigh from earlier had disappeared completely. "I guess he just ran off. I didn't even get to pay-"
Her pokegear rang. The coordinator answered it with a shocked expression.
"What's up?" Drew asked.
"It's the Santa I hired..." she began, "...He says he can't make it tonight."
Both coordinators looked up in the sky for a sleigh.
Author's Note: Dear valued reader, please forgive me for my inability to finish this fic before Christmas. Things got out of hand. As a result, I will be putting this fic on hiatus, effective immediately. We will return to "12 Christmases" again next year, when the holiday season is cheery and ready! But I can not and will not finish this story outside of the Christmas season. It just doesn't seem right to me. I need my holiday magic.
Could Not Think of a Good Name