Note: Although this is a stand-alone fic, it takes place after Requiem of Trust and Modern Problems. All the characters are lovably out of character, and everything will make a lot more sense (and be more humorous) if you've read the other two. That said, you don't have to. I mean, I'm not coming after you. I'm probably a giant land mass or an ocean away. Merry Christmas, one and all!

A Castlevania Christmas

"Merry Christmas." "Merry Christmas." "Merry Christmas."

Shanoa's monotone voice echoed through the first floor of Leon's house as she walked around the room from person to person, handing each the same slip of paper.

"Merry Christmas." She said, handing a paper to Leon.

"Merry Un-Christmas." She said, handing one to Joachim.

As Shanoa continued around the room, Joachim dared to open the slip of paper. The vampire blinked a few times, then read it out-loud in disbelief. "I owe you five free Starbucks drinks. Not redeemable on the same day." He glanced up at her. "Doesn't Starbucks have giftcards?"

"Yes, but those aren't free. I'd have to pay for those. These I can just write out on the back of my electricity bills and make them for you off-the-clock." Shanoa handed Maria a paper and responded without bothering to look up. "Merry Christmas."

Leon flipped his paper over. The I-owe-you was indeed written on the back of her electricity bill.

"Mine's a water bill," Soma said, proudly showing Charlotte that his was different. "Fuck yeah."

"Lucky you," Charlotte said, rolling her eyes. She'd received an electricity bill too.

As Shanoa reached Juste, she pulled a different slip of paper from her pocket and handed it to him. "Merry Christmas, Juste."

The silently beautiful Juste Belmont read his slip and arched an eyebrow. "Twenty?"

"You know… if you feel like coming by to visit more, I wouldn't mind," she commented casually.

"Hey, that's not fair!" Soma exclaimed.

She glanced sidelong at him. "You don't have to come by at all. If you want, I can rip up that water bill in your hands. I've done that to a bunch of others already."

Soma pulled the paper close to his heart, shielding it as if his life depended on it. "No way!"

As Shanoa sat down on the couch beside Juste, Leon cleared his throat and said, "Thank you, Shanoa. Your gifts are truly appreciated, but that's not exactly how the White Elephant gift exchange works."

"It's not?" She frowned.

"No," Leon shook his head, pointing to the gifts sitting underneath the large Christmas tree in his front room. "See, everyone brings one wrapped gift and puts it under the tree, then we draw numbers to see who will pick a gift first. And each following number can choose to steal a gift or to pick a new present."

"Sounds like a Yankee Swap to me," Jonathan pointed out. "You could have told us about that before we came."

"He did, you two just weren't listening," Charlotte muttered from beneath the Santa hat she was wearing.

"Fine, then wait a moment," Shanoa scowled, digging around in her purse and pulling out an old ebay receipt. She hastily scribbled something on the back of the paper, folded it into a paper airplane, and threw it into the Christmas tree.

"Nice," Jonathan commented, nodding in approval.

Leon glanced around, mentally taking note of where everyone was sitting. Richter, Maria, Isaac, and Hector were sitting on the largest couch; Shanoa and Juste were on the smaller loveseat. Charlotte, Jonathan, and Soma were on a third couch. Joachim and Leon were both sitting in chairs. Two empty chairs remained. "Mathias and Alucard are still missing," he noted.

Suddenly, the door bust open, and the latecomers strolled in. "It's Dracula," the lord of the night reminded Leon, shaking snow off his cape onto the rug.

"My apologies," Alucard said, bowing slightly to them as he placed their gifts beneath the tree and took a seat.

Once Dracula sat beside him, Leon stood and passed small folded pieces of paper to everyone. "Does everyone have one? Good. Look at your number now. Who's number one?"

"Right here!" Soma instinctively said, pointing to himself.

Maria frowned. "You also have a number one?" She asked, showing him her little slip of paper with a "1" written on it.

Charlotte leaned over and glanced at the paper in his hand. "No, his says 9."

"But I'm the best!" Soma complained.

"Ok, so Maria's actually number one," Leon interpreted. "Go ahead and choose a present."

The auburn haired warrior woman stood and walked decisively over to the pile, perusing her options. Shanoa's paper airplane was stuck in the tree. Beneath the tree, there were five presents shoved into decorative Christmas themed bags and stuffed with tissue paper. Two other presents looked like they were wrapped more with tape and string than paper. One was a beautifully tiered set of three gifts, pristinely wrapped in gold paper with red satin ribbons. One gift appeared to be wrapped in the comic section of the newspaper… and another in the obituaries. A clearly wine-bottle shaped present was shrink wrapped with what looked like gold and adorned with a giant gold bow. And then there was the one that caught Maria's eye.

A giant box. Wrapped in shiny green paper, it stood taller than her. With a sidelong glance at Isaac, the ends of her lips quirked into a grin. "Bigger is better, right?"

Isaac grinned back. "Naturally."

Maria easily hefted the giant box up and placed it next to her spot on the couch.

"Number 2?" Leon asked.

"Here," Charlotte said, waving her hand in the air.

"Do you want to pick a gift from the pile, or steal Maria's?" Leon asked.

The girl glanced doubtfully at the large box. "I think I'll take one from the pile."

Kneeling beside the pile, she let her fingers run across the presents until they stopped atop the beautiful three tiered present. "Ooh, Alucard, it's beautiful!"

Alucard's delicate brow furrowed ever so slightly. "And why do you suppose that one is mine?"

"Because none of the rest of us would have spent the hours it must have taken you to wrap this," she responded smartly, picking up the present and sitting back down on the couch. "And you just put it down."

Alucard wanted to argue, but he couldn't deny that.

"Three?" Leon asked.

"Me," Joachim replied. Drifting over to the pile, he plucked Shanoa's paper airplane from the tree. "I think I know what this is. And my addiction to coffee is greater than my addiction to blood. So none of you had better steal it."

None looked like they dared.

"I'm four," Leon said, choosing a rather humble looking plain green bag from beneath the tree. "Five?"

Silence filled the room for a moment, while nobody moved or spoke. Eventually, Maria nudged Richter. "Are you five?"

"No, I'm 23," Richter said with a pout. "Why do you keep asking me that?"

The woman sighed. "No, I mean, does it say five on your paper?"

Carefully, Richter looked at the paper in his hands. "Yep!" the Belmont responded proudly.

The woman sighed even deeper. "Go get a present."

Richter trundled merrily over to the tree, chose the present wrapped in the comics, and sat back happily in his seat.

"Six," Jonathan said, pointing to himself. "And I already know which present I want."

Charlotte jumped a little as he snatched the three tiered present away from her. "Hey! That's my present! You can't take it!"

"Oh, but I can," the blonde replied with a wide grin. "Stealing is legal in this game."

"That's… that's so…!" she folded her arms across her chest. "You just want it because it's mine!"


"Charlotte, you are allowed to select another present," Leon informed her.

"I know, but… there's no more pretty ones," she frowned.

"Mine is radiant!" Dracula roared in protest. "It is powerful and magnificent!"

"It's something all right," she agreed, eyeing the gold wine-bottle shaped container. Eventually, she selected a gift bag with cute little Christmas bears on it and sat back down.

"Who has seven?" Leon asked, moving things along.

"I do," Juste said cryptically, rising from his seat. As he walked gracefully across the room, blue after-images followed him to the tree. His eyes fell across the box wrapped in the obituaries, and his gracefully long fingers selected it. "Fitting."

"Eight," Isaac informed the room. Not really caring what he took home, the man chose a lopsided present that looked like it was wrapped with more duct tape than wrapping paper. It probably was.

"Finally! It's my turn, number 9!" Soma exclaimed, setting his eyes immediately on the giant box in front of Maria. "Maria, I want yours. The biggest is the best."

The woman nodded. A real woman didn't bitch and complain when things didn't go her way. "I agree. Very well, come get it."

The pale haired youth bounded over to the present, placed his hands on either side of it and lifted.

The present wouldn't budge.

Exasperated, Soma glanced at the box, then at Maria. "How did it get so heavy?!"

"I don't know what you mean," the woman said, though a playful glint in her eyes and quirk of her lips indicated that she did indeed know.

"I mean, how did it get heavier since you picked it up?" he grunted, trying and failing to lift the present again.

"Why, it's always been the same," Maria said, rising from her seat and easily lifting the present. Casually, she placed the gift next to where Soma was sitting. "If you needed help carrying it, you could have just asked."

With his head hung low, Soma returned to his seat, mumbling, "I didn't really need help…"

"So now I select another, correct?" Maria asked, then glanced beneath the tree. "Hmm, the wine bottle should do."

Dracula beamed happily as the woman took the golden bottle from beneath the tree and sat back down. Then he rose from his seat with a flourish. "I am number 10! And I choose—" he spun around with majesty and pointed at Jonathan. "Your gift!"

Jonathan made a fake motion of grabbing his chest in agony. "No, not that! How could you be so cruel?"

Unfortunately, sarcasm was lost on Dracula, who swept away the present and answered, "because it is Adrian's present."

"Why must everyone point that out?" Alucard muttered, slightly annoyed.

"So I pick again, right?" Jonathan asked, making a show of choosing between the last few presents. Eventually, he selected a sparkly red bag and sat back down.

"I'm eleven," Hector mumbled. Though his confidence seemed to have improved since they last saw him, he still appeared far too thin and frail. Slowly, he selected a gift bag with a large sparkling Christmas tree on it and sat back down.

"I believe I am number twelve," Alucard said, rising gracefully from his seat. Shanoa and Charlotte both watched in captivated awe as he smoothly power-walked across the room and dared to take a gift bag with a candy cane taped to the side. They sighed as he silkily walked back across the room and sat down, his gentle platinum waves of hair falling about him both messily and beautifully.

"What luck, I'm last," Shanoa murmured, holding aloft her number 13 as proof. "And number thirteen. Wow, that's not cliché."

"Just take the last shitty present," Soma grumbled.

"Maybe I don't want the last shitty present?" Shanoa challenged, glancing at the poorly wrapped ball of blue wrapping paper tied together with both string and tape. "Maybe I want yours."

"You wouldn't!" the pale haired youth cried.

The woman laughed. "No, I wouldn't. It's obviously too heavy to be of any practical use, but—" she glanced around the room, eyeing everyone's gifts carefully. Then, she walked over to Dracula and took the beautifully wrapped three tiered present from his lap. "I'll take this one."

"Noooo!" the lord of the night cried in devastation.

Gently, Leon placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, "it is ok, Mathias. You still get a present. See? There's still one left under the tree."

With all the happiness stolen from him, Dracula didn't even have the heart to correct Leon's name mistake as usual. Too sad to retrieve the gift himself, he sent a bat to lift the present and drop it in his hands. Dracula didn't even notice as the bat exploded into firework-like flames, its ashes raining down onto Leon's white carpet.

Leon glanced around the room at all his guests, a happy glint in his eyes, "and now—it's time to open our gifts! Starting with number 1, Maria!"

The auburn haired woman nodded and held up her gold bottle. "Cheers," she said, tearing open what looked to be real gold wrapping off the bottle. What she found was, expectedly a bottle of wine, but there was something odd about it. "There's no label," she murmured, furrowing her brow.

"It's a vintage port, aged several centuries in oak barrels beneath Castlevania," Dracula proudly explained.

"Oh, that'll go well with that 600 year old scotch of yours," Maria commented to Isaac, who nodded in return.

"Tonight," he decided, causing the woman to incline a fine shapely eyebrow and grin.

"Guess I'm next," Charlotte sighed sadly, staring at the three tiered present in Shanoa's hands longingly. After a few seconds of staring, she began pulling tissue paper out of the bag with little Christmas bears in front of her until her fingers found something solid. Cautiously she pulled them out of the bag. "Beer pong cups?!"

"There are ping pong balls in the bag too," Maria added, chuckling at the girl's unfortunate draw.

Jonathan's laughter earned him an elbow in the side from her. "What am I supposed to do with these?!" she wailed.

"You know, for all those wild and crazy parties of yours," Jonathan ventured. "Now you don't have to use those cheap red party cups anymore!"

"But I never—!" Charlotte began to protest.

"My turn!" Joachim declared, carefully unfolding his paper airplane. After reading it through once, he smirked toothily, "I owe you ten free drinks at Starbucks. Thank-you, Shanoa!"

The woman silently nodded her head.

"I'm next," Leon announced, holding aloft his plain green bag. He pulled a very familiar looking box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies from the bag and puzzled over it for a moment.

Meanwhile, Joachim tried to look inconspicuous. It didn't work.

"Joachim—are these from the basement?" Leon wondered aloud.

"Maybe," the vampire said noncommittally.

"Oh good! I was hoping I had some left," the Belmont beamed happily at Joachim, whose jaw dropped a bit in surprise. "Thank you, old friend."

"You're—not upset that I used your own cookies as a gift?" Joachim asked skeptically.

"No, should I be?" Leon asked in return, tilting his head to the side in puzzlement.

Eager to finish the Belmonts' turns, Maria nudged the dark haired Belmont sitting beside her. "Richter, it's your turn to open your present."

"Ok, let me finish reading this one first," Richter said, puzzling through line after line of comics on his box. After finishing one, he looked up at Maria, "Dear lady… what is a 'sell p-hone'?"

The woman sighed deeper than she had all night and said, "Richter, open the box carefully and you won't rip the comics. Then you can read them all week if you want."

And so Richter did. For five minutes.

Eventually, he successfully pulled the undamaged sheet of newspaper away from a box of homemade Rice Krispie treats. "What are these?"

"They're rice puff and marshmallow treats," Charlotte piped in happily.

"Marsh—mallow?" the dark haired Belmont murmured, conjuring images of a marsh filled with mallow reeds in his mind.

"They're desserts," she explained, flicking aside a lock of her honey brown hair as she thought of a way to say things that Richter would understand. "Crunchy. Good. Yum."

Opening the box, Richter dared to eat one. His eyes lit with amazement and surprise. "Dear lady, these are amazing! I must show these to Annette!"

Maria snorted beside him. "If you think that health-nut is ever going to make you something other than spinach and sprout sandwiches, good luck."

"I'll just start opening this over here," Jonathan cut in, having eagerly awaited his turn for a while now. Digging into the sparkly red bag, he pulled out a Greenday CD. Then Blink 182. And Paramore. Jonathan began listing, "Savage Garden, Nirvana, Bad Religion, Rise Against, Fall out Boy, The Ramones, Led Zeppelin, Papa Roach, Dead Kennedys, Sum 41, Sex Pistols, The Offspring, My Chemical Romance, Eminem—ok, who's cleaning out their closet?"

"CD players—do not exist in my time," Juste explained sorrowfully.

Jonathan pulled the final CD out of the bag and snorted, "Good Charlotte. Pfft, no such thing."

This earned him another shove from the angry Charlotte sitting next to him.

"Juste, thanks bro, I'll listen to em, but save me and open yours quick!" Jonathan squeaked, bracing against Charlotte's fists of fury.

Shanoa watched as the silently beautiful Belmont blinked his silver lashes and inhaled slowly, reaching gracefully to his side to gently but firmly grasp the box wrapped in the obituaries. As he turned to the side, she could see the lean muscle of his powerfully built body beneath the stylish crimson long coat he had worn this evening. He slid one elegant finger beneath the crease in the paper, his sharp fingernail slicing easily through the tape and paper like an antique letter opener. Before he continued, the Belmont turned to her, placing a gentle pale hand atop her arm and said, "breathe."

Sharply, Shanoa inhaled, realizing that her world was becoming darker from lack of oxygen. As the world brightened and sharpened around her, she smiled at Juste, "thank you."

The dazzlingly gorgeous Belmont nodded and continued unwrapping. When he finished and pulled out the box, Shanoa gagged on her own spit and began turning a little blue in the face. Juste looked around the room until his eyes fell on the only person he could think of that would bring this present to the party. "A flavored lubricant set?"

"Makes things interesting," Jonathan explained.

"How would you know—" Beside him, Charlotte's cheeks turned tomato red. "Jonathan! How could you?!"

"Aaa! Relax! It's a joke gift I bought at Spencer's!" Jonathan cringed from her expectantly.

Isaac knew when a bro needed to be saved. "Hey," he said, instantly commanding everyone's attention with his deep, sexy, manly voice. Holding aloft his ball of duct taped paper, he said, "my turn."

Maria watched as Isaac's manly fingers tore powerfully into the gift, ripping the duct tape to shreds with a savage force. He flexed his biceps instinctively as he pulled the remainder of the paper and tape away from the present.

In Isaac's hand was a wad of $1 bills.

Soma looked around inconspicuously and happened to offhandedly comment, "wow, it must have taken someone a lot of time to collect all those ones without his mom noticing… I mean, to save up that much money!"

"Indeed," Isaac agreed.

"So hey, it looks like it's my turn!" Soma said, feeling hot under the collar. He eyed his giant box, and all of his embarrassment went away. Eagerly, he tore through the wrapping paper. Beneath, was a wooden crate. "Uhh… Leon, do you have a crowbar or something?"

Jonathan flipped a knife casually in Soma's direction. The pale haired youth squealed a bit, ducking out of the way as it hit the box next to him. "Geez! Do you always carry dangerous blades around?!"

"Yep," Jonathan agreed, then patted his knee. "And dangerous knees."

Richter suddenly stood, a happy gleam in his eyes that instantly made Maria suspicious. "Blades? I'm great with blades! THOUSAND—"

Knowing who Richter liked to target, Jonathan dove under the coffee expectantly. Just the opposite, Hector jumped in front of the Belmont, ready to sacrifice himself. But thankfully, both Maria and Isaac caught the Belmont as he began to pull handfuls of knives from his pockets. "Not inside Leon's house!" Maria exclaimed.

"Oh. Ok," Richter happily put the knives away and sat back down.

Meanwhile, Soma had ignored the entire ordeal, opting to use the sturdy knife to begin prying open the crate. After a couple minutes, he managed to open one small part of the top. Growing impatient, Jonathan jumped forward with a flying danger knee and broke the crate apart into pieces. "Ha!" he exclaimed. "Told you my knee was dangerous!"

As the crate fell aside, Soma squeaked in happiness, then covered his mouth from the embarrassing sound. "Oh FUCK yeah! Isaac, you're a fuckin' BEAST!"

Inside, was one of Isaac's trademark hand-crafted motorcycles.

Soma couldn't wait to try it out, but as he grabbed the handlebars to do just that, Alucard cleared his throat, catching his attention. "Aww, Grandma, can't I try it now?"

"Not until after Leon's party. Do not be disrespectful to him," the dhampire lectured.

"Fiiiiiine," Soma sighed, slumping back down in the couch.

"Mathias, I believe you are next?" Leon asked, turning to Dracula expectantly.

"It's Dracula," the lord of the night sighed, still saddened to have missed out on Alucard's gift. He held up the lopsided present wrapped in paper and string, snapping the strings off with his sharp claws. As he pulled aside the paper, the vampire shrieked and dropped the gift to the floor.

On the floor was a beautiful silver gilded cross, glowing with holy radiance.

"It's a super holy charm!" Richter exclaimed, smiling proudly, "I blessed it one hundred times last week!"

"Delightful—" the lord of darkness scowled, scooting his chair away from the hazardous charm. "Leon, could you—?"

"You do not want it?" Leon asked, surprised.

"Of course not!" Dracula roared in response. "I am a vampire! I cannot touch holy things. Especially not holy crosses that have been blessed 100 times!"

"Oh, I see," the Belmont agreed, swiftly retrieving the charm and moving it away from the vampire.

"Hey, watch it!" Joachim complained, as Leon held the cross in front of his face.

"Oh, sorry," Leon apologized, placing the cross in his own lap.

Richter watched the exchange sadly. "He doesn't want my present?"

"Mathias can't have it," elder Belmont explained.

"Dracula." The lord of the night cut in.

"But I'd love to have it, if you don't mind giving it to me," Leon continued.

Richter beamed happily. "Of course, Grandpa!"

"Thank you, Richter. I shall treasure it," Leon said truthfully. He already had a place on the mantle above the fireplace that he wanted to display it. Ready to continue, he turned to the silver haired man sitting beside his descendant. "Hector, I think it's your turn?"

Hector sighed, sad that Richter hadn't managed to kill him earlier, and opened the Christmas tree bag. He pulled out perhaps the most hideous Christmas sweater any of them had seen in their lives. The knit sweater was brown, orange, and green, and on the front was something resembling a little girl's cross-stitch of two reindeers pooping.

An expression of surprise crossed Hector's face, and Leon felt bad, deciding that he had to explain this one. "I'm sorry, Hector, Sara gave that to me the other day. She said that's what I reminded her of. I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I didn't throw it away. But she's kind of a bitch, so I didn't want to keep it either, and—"

And then Hector did something none of them were expecting. He started laughing. "Leon, this is perfect!" he exclaimed, wiping away tears of happiness. "It's just like Julia's sense of humor too. She'll love it!"

Isaac arched an eyebrow, not aware of this side of his sister, but he didn't comment.

Alucard picked up his Candy cane bag and murmured, "I suppose I should open this?"

Instantly, Charlotte and Shanoa's eyes glued to the beautiful blonde haired dhampire as he lightly held the strings of the candy cane bag in front of him. With a daring ferocity, his deadly fingers swiped the candy cane off the front of the bag, placing it gracefully into his lap. They watched as he first plucked a white, then a red, and finally a green tissue from the bag, allowing each to fall beside him with an elegant swoop of his wrist. The dhampire inhaled, accentuating the fine fabrics of his stylish black long jacket, blinking his daring steely grey eyes twice as he pulled the gift from the bag.

It only took a couple seconds for Alucard to toss aside the tissue papers and pull the set of Bath and Body Works soaps and body washes from the bag. Having paid careful attention to who gave what, he knew that this gift must be from Hector. "I thank you," he said politely, nodding his head to the silver haired man who apparently also appreciated nice smelling body washes.

Finally, it was Shanoa's turn. It felt sinful to unwrap the red velvet ribbons and tear apart the perfect gold wrapping paper, but she did it in less than five seconds. The three tiered present revealed a set of elegant white plush towels. As she pulled each towel from the box, Dracula wept louder and louder. There were two bath towels, two hand towels, and two wash cloths on top. The towels were embroidered with a champagne glass design and a champagne colored swirl pattern near the fringes of the towels. They were beautiful and so Alucard. "Thank you," she murmured to the beautiful dhampire sitting across the room, finding that her voice was much quieter than usual.

"My pleasure," he responded with a nod of his head.

"Well, it looks like that's all the presents! I hope you enjoyed the gift exchange! Let's head to the kitchen now and—" Leon began.

"Wait!" Richter cried, calling everyone's attention as he pointed beneath the tree. "There's one more!"

"But that's not right, everyone already has a gift," Leon frowned, walking over to the tree and picking up an oddly long shaped present wrapped in multicolored paper. The label simply read "To: Leon, Jonathan and Charlotte."

Perplexed, the Belmont ripped off the paper, revealing an oddly familiar looking Shovel and a note on pink rose scented paper. While Leon read the note, his eyebrows slowly raising in surprise, Jonathan and Charlotte's attentions both flew to the Shovel.

"Oh no, not you two again!" the Shovel cried.

Nobody but Jonathan and Charlotte heard Shovel's screams as Leon absently handed it over to them. Slowly, he read the note aloud.

"Dear Leon,

I told you it would all end well, didn't I? Merry Christmas.


Your favorite self-insert"

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Still confused, Leon placed the note to the side and walked through the foyer. When he opened the door, he found a woman with long loosely braided dark hair wearing nothing but a white dress and an odd golden belt. Her teeth chattered as Leon quickly ushered her inside. When she spoke, her voice held an odd accent that reminded Leon vaguely of an antiquated Scottish. "Please, good sir, might I seek refuge here for the night?"

"Certainly," Leon responded, shutting the door behind her and quickly offering her one of his coats. "What brings you here?"

She smiled sadly, "that, I am afraid, is a very long story."

"I would not mind hearing it," he offered.

"Perhaps tomorrow. This evening, I fear I am too weary," she said.

"May I at least know your name?" Leon asked.

"My name is Marie," the woman replied. "Marie Belmont."

Where had he heard that name before? Leon knew it sounded familiar, but he also knew she was not one of his descendants.

"And your name is?" Marie asked.

"Please forgive me," he said, unaware of the fact that he had the attention of everyone in the other room. "My name is Leon Belmont."

Marie gasped, "Belmont? But Gabriel told me he had no relatives."

"Gabriel? Where have I heard that name before?" Leon puzzled aloud, not recalling anyone by that name, though it sounded extremely familiar.

"Couldn't possibly be the guy who was following us a while ago. Or his obnoxiously loud narrator that spoke all in bold," Joachim murmured sarcastically.

"Why yes, it could be!" Leon exclaimed. "Joachim, you are brilliant!"

"I know I am," the vampire agreed.

"But," Marie continued hesitantly, fidgeting with the pleats of her white dress. "I do not wish to fool you. You may not wish to house me after I tell you this, and I would not blame you. You see, I died a long time ago."

Leon shrugged and indicated towards Joachim and Dracula. "So did those two. If I may be so bold, I would love to invite you to join us. It's Christmas Eve, and tonight is a night of celebration."

Like a true gentleman, he took her hand in his and led her into the living room, pulling up a seat for her beside his.

Dracula watched the exchange, and he knew if his heart was truly frozen, as everyone said it was, it would have melted a bit. He had a feeling things were looking up for Leon Belmont and that though there was more to this story than anyone knew, things were bound to move in the right direction. Perhaps there was something more to this "Christmas" that he so despised after all.

Maybe it wasn't all about worshiping the birth of the son of that deity that caused him pain and grief. Maybe it was more about being with the people who were dear. And maybe it was even about the shared joys, sorrows, and laughter that came along with one of Leon Belmont's classic Yankee Swap White Elephant gift exchanges. Yeah, he couldn't believe the Belmont had thought of it a thousand years ago either.

"Hey Drac! Are you gonna keep reminiscing over there or are you ready for the fucking fruitcake fight game?" Soma shouted from the kitchen, where it seemed everyone had already gathered.

Leon had many ideas he was never so crazy about, fishing and picnics being two of them, but this one was always his favorite. Anything to get rid of those horrid fruitcakes Sara, Elisabetha, his mother, Leon's mother, and anyone else gave them was worthwhile. And what better way to dispose of them than whipping them at each other in all out kitchen warfare?

Alone in the living room, Dracula gazed into the lights of the Christmas tree and smiled. Things were looking up for Leon, and perhaps they would be looking up for him soon too. The vampire said nothing as he turned and walked into the kitchen, instantly receiving a fruitcake in the face.

Perhaps next Christmas.

LateNiteSlacker's Notes:

1 – Merry Christmas! Or whatever it is your choose to celebrate/not celebrate. Festivus for the rest of us, whatever you want.

2 – Here's a handy-dandy Present Guide for those of you interested in who gifted what.

Who got what:

1 – Maria – Giant box – Gold Wine bottle

2 – Charlotte – Three tiered present – Christmas bears bag

3 – Joachim – Paper Airplane

4 – Leon – Green bag

5 – Richter – Box wrapped in comics

6 – Jonathan – Three tiered present – Sparkly red bag

7 – Juste – Box wrapped in obituaries

8 – Isaac – Duct tape ball

9 – Soma – Giant box

10 – Dracula – Three tiered present – String ball

11 – Hector – Christmas tree bag

12 – Alucard – Candy cane bag

13 – Shanoa – Three tiered present

Who brought what:

Isaac – giant box – Motorcycle

Charlotte – Comics box – rice crispy treats

Jonathan – Obituaries box – Flavored lubricant set

Richter – String ball – helpful magic cross charm

Soma – Duct tape ball – a wad of 1 dollar bills

Shanoa – Paper airplane – Starbucks I owe yous

Alucard – Three tiered present – Matching set of towels, bath, hand, and washcloths.

Dracula – Gold Wine bottle – wine aged a few centuries and recently bottled. And gold.

Maria – Christmas bears bag – Beer pong cups and ping pong balls

Joachim – Green bag – Girl scout cookies from Leon's basement

Leon – Christmas tree bag – Ugly Christmas sweater

Hector – Candy cane bag – bath set of shampoos and soaps

Juste – Red sparkly bag – punk rock CDs

Mystery present for Leon – a talking Shovel that only Jonathan and Charlotte can hear.