Run (Or The Elf Who Stole Christmas)
what now, genius?” Dean demanded, stomping out
of the Twin Pines Motel office just as a flickering
“NO” was illuminated in red neon next to
the word “VACANCY” in the sign in the window.
“This hunt was your idea, man.”
followed him out of the office, Dean barely glancing
back at him as the younger brother thrust his hands
deep into his jacket pockets, a chill wind biting at
their faces. “It was your idea to take care of
the Casper before we found somewhere to stay, Dean,”
Sam returned grumpily. “It’s not my fault
the motel’s full—”
is the fourth motel we’ve tried, Sam,” Dean
pointed out, glancing up at the yellowing sky and shivering.
“Looks like it’s gonna snow, too.”
He shoved his key into the Impala’s driver’s
side door before adding, “And let’s not
forget it’s Christmas Eve.”
snickered despite their dire circumstances. “There’s
irony for you,” he observed, wandering around
to the passenger side of the car. “Christmas Eve
in Bethlehem and no room at the inn.”
grimaced at him over the roof of the car. “Unless
there’s somethin’ you wanna tell me, Sammy,
neither of us is a pregnant virgin,” he observed.
“Not to mention there’s no wise men anywhere
within three counties, no dude in a dress who wants
to give me gold, Frankenstein and myrrh—”
the only ass around here is you.” Dean once again
raised his eyes to the snowy sky and virtually growled.
“I hate this friggin’ town. Bad mojo every
time we come here.”
Dean, show a little Christmas spirit!” Sam grinned
sunnily at him, only further darkening Dean’s
already dark mood.
any snow had dared to fall right then, Dean’s
scowl would have melted it. “I’m glad you’re
finding the prospect of sleeping in the car on Christmas
funny, Sam,” he groused, yanking open the car
door with such ferocity the old Chevy squealed in protest.
expression softening, Dean patted his girl’s roof
as he swung himself down into the driver’s seat.
“No offense, baby,” he muttered lovingly.
“You know I’ll always love you more than
ask if you two need to get a room,” Sam commented,
sliding into the seat next to his brother, his grin
widening. “But under the circumstances…”
up Sam,” Dean growled dangerously. He sighed,
fingers of one hand curling around the steering wheel
as he started the engine and eased the Impala out of
the parking lot and onto the highway.
man, it’s not my fault this hunt went
sideways!” Sam protested, yanking on the Impala’s
heat before Dean slapped away his fingers. “Sure
as hell looked like a poltergeist been turning those
stores into demilitarized zones.”
for the ectoplasm that wasn’t really ectoplasm,”
Dean grunted, scowling at the blacktop in front of them
and daring the snow to come down while he was still
out on the road.
whoever heard of a crime scene covered in chocolate
syrup, anyway?” Sam demanded.
it was a poltergeist with a sweet tooth,” Dean
rolled his eyes. “C’mon, man, you gotta
admit, that was weird, even for us.”
shrugged. “Yeah, well. Our weird is probably someone
else’s Christmas party,” he pointed out.
nodded, sighing heavily. “So where are we going?”
he enquired finally, blowing on his hands as the Impala’s
heater took its sweet time stuttering into life.
there’s somewhere over in Allentown we can get
a room,” Dean hazarded, shaking his head before
thumping his fist against the steering wheel in frustration.
“Or hell, why don’t we just drive to Philly,
get a nice cheese steak for Christmas dinner?”
we’ll figure out what’s going on here,”
Sam assured him softly.
so it was Christmas, they had no money, nowhere to stay
and it looked like they were about to get caught in
a blizzard, but as always Dean’s kid brother seemed
to know exactly what it was that was really
making Dean crazy.
blew out a breath, reminding himself that this was neither
Sam’s nor the Impala’s fault as he stroked
his fingers soothingly over the big Chevy’s steering
wheel. “Sorry, baby,” he murmured, before
sheepishly turning his attention back to Sam. “I
just don’t get it, man,” he admitted at
length. “Who’d wanna trash the toy department
of every department store in town a week before Christmas?”
That would be me.”
brothers spun toward the back seat at the sound of the
oddly high-pitched voice, Dean’s foot slamming
against the brake as the Impala fishtailed to a graceless
stop in the middle of the blacktop.
old lady driving the tiny Toyota behind them honked
her horn as she swerved around them, flipping them the
bird as she passed by, and Dean’s ears turned
an interesting shade of pink as he lip-read the curses
issuing from the old broad’s mouth.
distracted from the stowaway in the back seat, he cast
a brief half-glance over his shoulder before pulling
the Impala over to the side of the road, slamming on
the parking brake and spinning once again toward the
rear of the car. “Who—what the hell are
you?” he demanded, not entirely certain whether
he was startled or angry or a mixture of both.
thing in the back seat just gazed up at them with huge,
liquid eyes, blinking innocently out from under a gaudy
red and green horizontally striped hat piled high on
top of his oddly pointed head. His face was strangely
ageless, a crooked little nose and a wide mouth over
a long chin, and if Dean had to guess, from the way
the thing’s little legs stuck out straight in
front of him, pointed red patent shoes at strict right
angles to his green and white stripy-stockinged legs,
he would put him at no taller than three feet.
fingers clutched at a plain manila envelope that glittered
peculiarly in the late afternoon winter sun.
the little dude said with a broad grin, sticking out
one of his tiny hands which, glancing once at Dean and
shrugging, Sam cautiously shook.
Sam said slowly, smiling a little awkwardly. “Uh.
Nice to meet you. I guess. I’m Sam, this is—”
brother Dean, I know.”
raised an eyebrow, which did nothing to soften his steely
gaze. “Who the hell are you and what the hell
are you doing breaking into my car?” he demanded,
pointedly ignoring the hand the creature had shoved
in his direction.
thing blinked innocently. “I didn’t break
in,” he insisted. “She let me in.”
frowned. “Who let you in?”
creature tipped his head to one side as if that should
be obvious. “She did,” he clarified,
not at all helpfully. “Your car.”
exchanged a loaded glance with his brother. “Sure
she did,” he said, shaking his head in exasperation.
“Just what we need,” he growled in Sam’s
direction. “A buckets o’ crazy dwarf in
the back seat of the car on Christmas.”
the creature piped up brightly.
an elf. Not a dwarf.”
Gimli,” Dean commented wryly, turning his eyes
briefly heavenward. “That makes all the difference.”
Eric repeated emphatically. “Elf! Not
dwarf! Gimli was the dwarf, Legolas
was the elf!”
raised an almost amused eyebrow. “Sorry, Orlando.
Eric!” the little elf insisted, cheeks
turning a ruddy scarlet. “Eric!”
held up a placating hand. “Eric. Sure. Sorry,
dude. I got it,” he said, fighting back a grin
as he cast a sidelong glance in Sam’s direction.
“Y’know, someone should tell Peter Jackson’s
casting people they really screwed the pooch on this
Sam warned his brother.
I’m just sayin’…”
The elf narrowed his eyes and virtually growled. “I
knew this was a bad idea,” he mumbled, clutching
the glittery envelope even tighter to his chest. “Asking
Winchesters for help…”
Sam interrupted, swiveling a little more in his seat.
“You need our help?”
would an elf need our help?” Dean asked,
before fidgeting a little uncomfortably and adding,
“Not that we believe in elves. For all we know
you could totally be a shapeshifter. Or—or a thoughtform.”
He grinned slyly at his brother. “You always did
have a thing for elves, Sammy. Maybe this thing’s
a manifestation of your deepest desires or somethin’.”
scowled at him. “Dean, I was six years old!”
he protested. “And maybe you’re
the shapeshifter! I mean, it’s not like you to
use words longer than two syllables.”
returned Sam’s scowl with added interest. “Go
ahead, College Boy, play the ‘I’m so much
smarter than my big brother’ card. It’s
not like that’s getting old or anything...”
elf’s nasal whine interrupted politely from the
back seat, and both brothers shifted their attention
behind them, Sam a little sheepishly, causing Dean to
roll his eyes.
Sam apologized, casting one quick “quit it”
glance at his brother before offering the elf his complete
attention. “You need our help?”
little creature nodded. “Yes. And I was told if
any humans could help me, it’d be you two.”
frowned. “Who told you that?”
shrugged. “Friend of a friend.”
little elf sighed impatiently. “Guy who runs the
sled pool,” he replied. “Has to get parts
from the human world occasionally.”
me guess,” Dean hazarded. “Singer Salvage?”
Singer apparently speaks very highly of you both.”
sure he does,” Sam agreed, shaking his head.
so much for our references,” Dean interjected.
“But what exactly do you think we can help you
blinked huge doleful eyes at the boys before taking
a deep breath. “I need you to help me find Santa.”
blinked right on back at the elf. “Come again?”
Eric insisted. “Santa Claus. He’s missing
and I need you to help me find him.”
was Sam’s turn to blink. “You need us to
help you find Santa Claus?” he parroted a little
dumbly. “Uh. Okay. So. He’s…disappeared
someplace I guess? Where to?”
shot the younger brother a withering glance. “If
we knew that he wouldn’t be missing,” he
tilted his head slightly, a chagrined half-smile toying
with his lips. “No, I get that,” he said.
“I just meant—”
Dean held up a hand suddenly, interrupting both his
brother and their odd passenger. “Let me just
recap. You’re telling us—” He paused
and shook his head in disbelief. “You’re
telling us Santa Claus is MIA? On Christmas
Eve? And you need our help finding him?”
nodded. “It’s a disaster,” he agreed.
“He’s never done anything like this before
and Senior Management—”
senior elves. I just—I just didn’t agree
with their contingency plan and couldn’t sit by
and let them ruin Christmas!”
senior elves have a contingency plan for Santa being
MIA on Christmas Eve?”
Eric confirmed. “And it’s not a good one,
believe me.” He sighed heavily. “In Santa’s
absence, they’ve decided to give children all
around the world exactly what they asked for.”
they asked for?” Sam attempted to clarify.
Christmas,” Eric confirmed.
raised an eyebrow. “And that’s a bad thing?”
a terrible thing!” Eric insisted. “They’re
just pandering to the whims of children without any
regard for the suitability of the toys they asked for.”
is always careful that children aren’t given toys
that might be unsuitable for them,” Eric explained.
“I mean, have you seen some of these
video games children are asking for these days? Sure,
they’re aimed at adults and have warnings all
over them that children shouldn’t be playing them,
but they are playing them, and they’re
so violent! It’s worse than giving little
boys toy guns to play with! I mean, what kind of life
lessons do these games teach young children? That causing
mayhem and destruction is the way to get ahead in life?
That life is cheap, and you can shoot someone six times
and they’ll get up and walk away? That you can
get thrown off a building, or blown up, or crash a car
into a road block at a hundred miles an hour, but it’s
okay because you’ll still have three lives left
after? That you get extra points for shooting soldiers
and police officers, the very people kids should be
looking up to as role models?”
frowned as Eric paused to draw breath, his cheeks scarlet
and his hands balled into tiny fists. “C’mon,
man, kids aren’t stupid,” he said. “They
know the difference between fantasy and reality. Just
’cause they get an extra life for blowing up a
police car in a video game don’t mean they’re
gonna go out and do the same thing in real life!”
kids, maybe,” Eric conceded. “But Senior
Management are planning on delivering games like this
to six and seven-year-olds! Just because that’s
what they’ve asked Santa to get them for Christmas!
Santa would never do that! All the violence
in the world—we should be protecting little kids
from it, not glamorizing it! Not bringing it into their
bedrooms! Not giving them guns to play with and targets
to aim at! What effect is that going to have on them
in later life?” The elf looked meaningfully from
one brother to the other before adding, “I mean,
look how you two turned out!”
Dean threw a glance in Sam’s direction, trying
to figure out whether his little brother was as affronted
by the elf’s comment as he was. “You saying
we’re damaged goods or somethin’, Gimli?”
It’s Eric!” the creature remonstrated.
“And you two aren’t exactly poster boys
for human mental health!”
if our dad hadn’t trained us the way he did, we’d
be dead right now—”
not every child needs to know how to use a gun aged
six like you did, Dean.”
had no real answer for that. And if he was honest with
himself, he was more than a little freaked out that
the elf knew so much about his and Sam’s childhood.
right,” Sam said, taking a breath. “So you’re
not happy Senior Management are planning on doling out
violent toys in Santa’s absence,” he clarified.
“Okay. Still doesn’t explain why you need
our help finding your missing boss.”
I’m told you have experience in this kind of thing,”
Eric replied easily. “Finding missing fathers.”
cast another loaded glance in Sam’s direction.
“Our father, man!” he pointed out.
“Not friggin’ Father Christmas!” He
frowned suddenly, a thought occurring. “Wait.
Bobby knew Santa existed and never told us?”
Concentrate,” Sam interrupted.
guess Mr. Singer didn’t want to deny you your
faith,” Eric explained as if Sam hadn’t
Dean burst out. “Man, I stopped believing in Santa
Claus when I was friggin’ four years old!”
you say,” Eric chuckled, an annoyingly knowing
glint in his eye. “Don’t stop believing,
I don’t think Journey were talking about Santa
Claus when they wrote that song.”
we get back on topic here?” Sam once again attempted
to interrupt, turning his attention back to Eric. “Eric,
I still don’t understand what it is you think
we can do to help you.”
little elf fidgeted slightly, fingers fussing with the
envelope still clutched in his hands. “I-I kind
of—I’m kind of on the lam,” he admitted
at length, peering up at them from under the brim of
his hat. “And I could use some—uh—muscle,
I believe is the correct term.”
Eric agreed. “While I’m looking for Santa.”
from what?” Sam asked, and Eric sighed heavily.
was hiding,” he said slowly, eyes downcast. “In
the toy stores. Somewhere familiar I suppose. Somewhere
I felt safe. But they found me. They always find me.
And that’s how the toy departments were destroyed.
When they tried to capture me. When I escaped.”
Dean said slowly. “I guess that kinda makes sense.”
He frowned, mulling that pronouncement over for a second,
before shaking his head and adding, “No, on second
thoughts, it really doesn’t.”
‘they’?” Sam interjected before Dean’s
brain could become really twisted. “Who’s
Wayward Elf Interception and Retrieval Department,”
Eric explained, his voice hitching slightly.
thought about that for a second. “WEIRD?”
he burst out a little incredulously. “Seriously?”
nodded. “They’re after me. Trying to bring
me back to the North Pole.”
Goon Squad, huh?” Dean said. “Man, even
the North Pole sucks.”
have no idea,” Eric agreed. “They’re
really not to be trifled with.”
Sam began with a frown. “They’re elves,
right? Like you?”
squinted at the younger Winchester uncertainly. “Just
because you’re a giant and elves—aren’t—doesn’t
mean the WEIRD elves aren’t dangerous.”
elves,” Dean snickered. “That’s never
gonna get old.”
rolled his eyes. “So why are these—”
he sighed in defeat, casting a sidelong and very long-suffering
glance in his brother’s direction. “Why
are these WEIRD elves after you, Eric? They want to
stop you finding Santa?”
squirmed awkwardly. “Not exactly,” he admitted
slowly. “Although Senior Management don’t
seem too upset that Santa Claus has left the building,
so to speak.” There was a thread of angry disgust
in his voice. “Still, I suppose maybe my superiors
view his absence as their big moment to shine. The moment
when they finally get to be the boss.”
what’d you do to piss ’em off so royally
they’d destroy a bunch of department stores to
get to you?” Dean asked. “You steal their
candy or somethin’?”
their candy,” Eric said carefully, fingers reflexively
clutching and unclutching the envelope.
raised an eyebrow. “But you did steal
something?” he prodded. “Something
peered up at them sheepishly. “Not valuable in
the monetary sense,” he explained. “But—but
priceless all the same.”
Dean had to applaud the inherent threat in Sam’s
attempt to cajole the elf into a confession.
figured if the Mail Room didn’t know where to
send everyone’s Christmas presents,” the
creature reluctantly admitted, “then—then
maybe I might be able to stall Senior Management long
enough to find Santa…”
did you do, Gimli?” Dean asked suspiciously.
swallowed. “I—uh—I sort of—er—”
it out, Shortstuff!”
sort of stole the Lists.”
frowned, glancing over at Sam, who shrugged.
Lists?” the younger brother asked. “Eric?”
sighed heavily, eyes downcast and little feet kicking
backwards and forwards nervously. “Santa’s
Naughty and Nice Lists.” He looked up at them
suddenly, blinking his huge eyes as if they should know
what he was talking about. “Y’know?”
looked at Eric. Looked at Sam. Looked back at Eric.
“The—the—” he broke off, turning
desperate eyes on Sam. “I got nothin’ man.”
Sam held up a hand. “Those lists are real?”
nodded, eyes slipping to the envelope in his tiny hands.
followed the direction of the elf’s gaze thoughtfully.
nodded, clearly assessing Dean’s threat level
and pulling the envelope even closer to his chest.
affected his best pose of complete disinterest before
casually asking. “So—uh—you seen those
things? The Lists?”
nodded again, expression wary.
Dean continued slowly, “—there’s just
kids on there?”
cast his brother a questioning look as Eric shook his
Dean was so laidback about his next question he figured
he might as well be horizontal. “So…which
list might I be on?”
barked out a choked off laugh, causing Dean to scowl
at him furiously.
missin’ you back at Seaworld, Flipper?”
snickered. “Big bad Dean Winchester, wants to
know if he’s on the Naughty or Nice List!”
He shook so hard from peels of uproarious laughter that
his stupid bangs fell forward into his eyes. “That’s
that’s adorable, Dean!”
gonna be adorin’ my fist if you don’t
shut the hell up!”
can’t tell you anyway,” Eric suddenly piped
up. “The contents of the Lists are Santa’s
most closely-guarded secret.”
just looked at him. “I have a gun, dude.”
point exactly!” the little elf burst out triumphantly.
“Not everything can be solved using violence,
a lot of things can, Gimli.”
is exactly why grown-ups shouldn’t be teaching
little kids that shooting people is the way to get ahead
Dean realized there wasn’t really an answer to
that—and that the way he and Sam had been raised
wasn’t exactly normal.
you steal the Lists,” Sam interrupted after a
pause, clearly attempting to steer the conversation
back on track. “Then the Mail Room doesn’t
know what to send where and Senior Management can’t
just hand out grown-up games and toys to kids willy
Eric agreed with a hearty nod that set the bell jangling
on top of his hat.
sniggered, turning his attention from the elf to his
brother. “Dude, did you really just say
me, Pint Size,” Sam retorted.
yeah?” Dean sat up as straight as he could and
did his best to get in Sam’s face, which wasn’t
easy when Sam was doing exactly the same thing and even
sitting down still seemed to have four extra inches
polite—but decidedly short-tempered—cough
drew both brothers’ attention back to the little
elf, who was frowning at them as he drummed tiny fingers
against the Impala’s upholstery.
know, maybe Mr. Singer was wrong about you two being
able to help me—”
exhaled a long-suffering sigh. “Don’t mind
him, Eric,” he said, inclining his head in his
brother’s direction. “He never managed to
get a handle on that whole ‘grown-up’ thing.”
Dean protested. “I’m right here y’know!”
ignored him pointedly, his attention remaining on the
elf. “Okay, Eric, what can we do to help you find
Santa?” he asked.
it’s not exactly like we know the guy or where
he likes to hang out,” Dean noted, his forehead
wrinkling slightly. “I mean, what does
Santa Claus do with his days off?” Suddenly a
bright grin lit up his features. “Maybe we should
go check out the nearest strip joint or something!”
sighed again. “Not everyone likes to spend their
free time like you do, Dean,” he pointed out.
it’s not like Santa usually gets days
off,” Eric explained. “Christmas doesn’t
just happen overnight you know. It takes a whole year
of planning and preparation.”
how do you expect us to know where to start looking?”
Dean asked. “We can’t exactly go walking
up to people in the street and ask them if they’ve
seen Santa Claus.”
I have a few ideas,” Eric said, stroking his chin
thoughtfully. “Red-Circled kids, for one—”
the bubble,” Eric attempted to clarify. “You
know? Borderline between Naughty and Nice? Usually Santa
sends out one of his deputies to check them out—”
has deputies?” Dean quirked an amused
eyebrow. “Like stunt doubles or somethin’?
They get a badge and gun?”
exactly.” Eric shrugged. “You’ve probably
seen them—collecting money for charity, or taking
requests from children at the mall—”
Santas?” Sam burst out incredulously. “They’re
of them,” Eric confirmed. “Sometimes Santa
needs to check on a child’s Naughty or Nice Quotient
in person, sometimes he sends a deputy.”
focus drifted off into the middle distance. “Deputy
Santa Claus,” he muttered. “How the hell
do you end up with a gig like that?”
could put a good word in for you,” Eric offered.
“If we ever find Santa.”
attention rapidly skidded back to the elf. “What?”
he asked, trying to regain his air of casual disinterest.
“Me? No way! Who’d wanna spend all day with
whining brats sitting on their knee dripping ice cream
into their beard?”
smirked. “You seem to have given this a whole
lot of thought, Dean,” he said, barely disguising
a snicker. “I thought your guidance counselor
said you were gonna wind up doing thirty to life in
supermax? Bet she never thought of suggesting ‘Mall
Santa’ as an alternative career path.”
me, Gargantua,” Dean retorted, before
turning back to the elf. “So you think that’s
what Santa could be off doing?” he asked. “Checking
out these Naughty but Nice kids?”
Eric agreed noncommittally. “There’s one
not far from here and Santa was last seen in Pennsylvania—”
Why d’you think I’m here?”
shuddered before glancing at his brother. “That’s
a pretty freaky coincidence, dude,” he pointed
out. “Us and—and Santa here at
the same time.”
tiny smirk toyed with Sam’s lips. “Maybe
you’re the one who’s been Red-Circled, Dean.
Maybe Santa was checking how naughty you’ve
been this year!”
positively bristled. “Me? Naughty?”
he burst out, face a picture of innocence. “Dude,
I’m the poster child for Niceness!”
sure,” Sam agreed sarcastically. “Stealing
another kid’s Christmas presents must have gone
down really well with Santa Claus!”
did that one time, dammit! You’re like
an elephant! Or a chick! That’s it, man! You’re
a total chick! You never forget and you never let anything
Eric suddenly piped up from the back seat. “You—you
might want to start the car.”
blinked at the elf, a little confused at being unceremoniously
thrown from his train of thought. “Huh? Why?”
swallowed hard, eyes like saucers as he craned his neck
to see out of the side window. “They’re
here! They found me!” he burst out, trembling
visibly. “Oh my. Oh my.” He was fumbling
nervously with the envelope, the bell on the end of
his hat tinkling as he shook with fear.
turned his attention back to the road, but the only
other vehicle braving the impending snowstorm was one
of those weird-looking Euro contraptions that got about
six million miles to the gallon and looked like someone
had sliced off the back end.
them! It’s them!” Eric cried out in abject
terror, as the little car drew level with them.
had to resist the urge to vomit at the tiny car’s
gaudy candy-pink and silver paint job, forcing down
a derisive snort as he caught sight of the splattering
of pale little faces pressed up against the windows.
“Dude!” he burst out. “It’s
a clown car!”
WEIRD!” Eric explained, virtually bouncing in
the back seat.
can say that again,” Dean muttered.
no, WEIRD, WEIRD, the—the goon squad!” Eric
clarified desperately. “They’re here! They’re
coming for me!”
made a face. “Dude, chill. You’re in a Chevy
Impala built like a tank with a V8 engine under the
hood. They’re in a pink hairdryer on wheels. I
think we can outrun ’em.”
the engine and shoving the Impala into drive, Dean virtually
stepped on the gas, the old Chevy shooting away from
the curb before the pink monstrosity had even managed
to overtake them.
grinned smugly. “No problem. Only solutions—”
he began, before there was a sudden, deafening roar
behind them and a blur of pink as the pursuing elf car
rocketed—quite literally—past them, flames
shooting out of twin exhaust ports sticking out of the
back end of the car.
crap!” Sam commented, Dean yanking on the wheel
as the elf car skewed to a halt in front of them.
the elf car came to a stop, both doors were roughly
shoved open and a whole mess of little people in brightly
colored, mismatched outfits tumbled out like the Anthill
Mob on steroids, odd-looking Tommy guns held up in front
of them and pointed in the direction of the Impala.
Sam warned as the Impala fishtailed dangerously.
got it,” Dean growled, instantly correcting their
trajectory and pulling the Chevy onto the opposite side
of the road before once again slamming his foot against
the gas pedal. “Hold on to your lunch!”
let out a terrified squeak as Dean yanked the Impala
around the elves’ impromptu roadblock, the little
creatures raising their guns as the car sped past them.
swear to God,” Dean hissed, “one o’
those little ass clowns puts a single bullet in my car
bullets, Dean—” Eric began to explain, but
was cut short by the thick gloopy substance suddenly
shooting out of the goon squad’s Tommy guns as
the Impala swerved around them, completely coating one
side of the Chevy from hood to back fender.
the hell—?” Sam began, instantly drawing
away from the stuff still spraying against his window
while Dean cursed a blue streak at the attacking mini-goons.
he began to growl through gritted teeth, but had to
bite off the rest of the curse as the Impala suddenly
started to spin on the spot as the wheels on Sam’s
side of the car completely seized up.
virtually stood on the brake, trying desperately to
turn into the skid and avoid the old Chevy rolling onto
its roof, the engine choking and dying as smoke billowed
up from the suddenly rubber-coated blacktop.
let out an annoyed “Oof!” as Sam was catapulted
down the seat and slammed into him, the younger Winchester’s
bulk almost crushing him against the driver’s
seriously, what the hell…?” Sam repeated.
drew in a sharp breath as the old Chevy finally stopped
spinning and ground to an unnatural stop, and for a
second he was unable to move due to a combination of
a crushing fear seizing his chest and a humongous little
brother crushing him against the side of the car.
Dean burst out, shoving Sam off him. “Personal
long have I been asking you to get seatbelts installed
in this thing?” Sam demanded irritably, attempting
to crawl back into the passenger seat with little success.
me again when we’re not being ambushed by midgets
in a toy car!” Dean retorted angrily, trying to
gauge the nearness of the enemy through the sludgy gloop
smeared across half the windows. “What the hell
did they do to my car?”
reached out one finger to touch a trail of the gooey
stuff seeping in through the window seal.
No, don’t touch it!” a little voice piped
up from somewhere in the vicinity of the back seat,
but it was too late, Sam had already scooped up a finger
full of the stuff and was sniffing at it curiously.
Dean commented. “You’re like that Mountie
guy off TV. He was always sniffing disgusting stuff
and—whoa!” Dean nearly jumped out
of his seat as Sam suddenly shoved his finger in his
mouth and licked it clean. “Duuuuuude! You
know how disgusting that is?”
chocolate.” Sam held up his now-clean finger,
forehead scrunching into an amused frown. “It’s
good. Want some?”
drew back in horror. “No! And—what?”
chocolate syrup,” Eric explained, the tip of his
gaudily-colored hat just visible from where he was huddled
on the floor between the front and back seats. “And
they’re elves! Not midgets!”
Dean was completely unable to finish the sentence, disbelief
causing him to blink out through the front windshield
like a startled goldfish.
of the miniature gunmen were approaching the Impala
by this time, weapons held warily aloft, and Sam swallowed
before observing, “Maybe we better get out of
chocolate!” Dean remonstrated.
chocolate,” Eric amended. “We get that on
us we won’t be able to move for hours!”
looked down at his finger, bending it experimentally.
“Feels okay…” he began, before Eric
we have to go!” he remonstrated. “Right
now! If they catch us, I don’t know what
they’ll do to you two!”
can handle ourselves against a bunch of munchkins, thanks
Eric corrected him yet again, sighing in exasperation.
“Look, those guns can fire more than just paralytic
syrup you know! You don’t want to mess with the
laxative frosting or the vomit-inducing raspberry sauce!”
just looked at his brother who shrugged at him.
got nothing, man.”
shook his head in disbelief. “Well okay then,
let’s get the hell out of here before Santa’s
army of ninja midgets gets us with the maple syrup.”
nodded his agreement, putting his shoulder against the
chocolate-covered passenger door and shoving hard. But
the thing wouldn’t budge.
sets like concrete,” Eric informed them. “You
won’t be opening that door any time soon.”
actually growled dangerously. “Those little bastards
are toast!” he grit out, pulling his
.45 out of the glovebox.
Sam insisted, putting his hand on the Colt’s silver
barrel. “You can’t shoot an elf,
not, Sam?” Dean demanded. “Look what they
did to my car!”
growled again before stuffing the .45 in the back of
his jeans, grabbing Sam’s sleeve and unceremoniously
dragging him back down the seat toward the steering
wheel while simultaneously shoving open the driver’s
side door. Glancing in the rearview, he added, “C’mon,
Frodo, we’re leaving!”
Eric!” the little creature grumbled.
“How many times do I have to tell you? Elf!
Not hobbit! Not midget! Not dwarf!
anything if you don’t get your freaky ass out
of the goddamn car!” Dean barked, swinging himself
out of the Impala before reaching around, wrenching
open the back door and yanking the little elf out of
the back seat by the scruff of his neck.
Eric yelled. “I’m not a puppy either!”
Well you’re about to be puppy food if
you don’t move your butt right now!”
humans,” Eric grumbled, managing to find his feet
on the icy blacktop.
glanced over the roof of the Impala at the advancing
hoard—if you could call six elves a hoard—of
gun-toting little people, their gaudy mismatched clothing
and little bells tinkling on their brightly-colored
hats strangely incongruous with the murderous set of
what now?” Sam asked, a similar half-amused, half-uncertain
expression on his face. “They’re gonna gunk
us with more chocolate syrup?”
told you, it’s a paralytic!” Eric reiterated.
“One shot of that and they’ll be dragging
me back to the North Pole to face charges, and then
Christmas will be ruined and children around the world
will wake up on Christmas morning to gifts encouraging
them to be unkind and hateful. What kind of Christmas
message is that?”
just looked at him. “I sure as hell hope you’re
not the ghost of Christmas Future, pal, ’cause
I don’t think I can take another one like this.”
He glanced over at his brother, who was rather unsubtly
doing that whole puppy dog thing at him, which Dean
knew he really should have built up an immunity to by
now, but never seemed to have gotten around to.
about himself to get a lay of the land, he noted an
alleyway behind them that seemed to back onto a couple
of abandoned-looking industrial units or warehouses.
attention snapped back to the approaching elves, one
of whom had stepped in front of the group and was waving
his gun threatening. Or as threateningly as a three-foot
elf dressed in red knickerbockers could possibly be.
it up, Eric!” the head elf continued. “We
just want the Lists! Give us the Lists and no one gets
didn’t believe that for a second, and he didn’t
even know the little guy, the scowl on his face and
the way his pudgy finger hovered over the trigger of
his syrup gun suggesting quite the opposite.
have to go—” Eric began, just as a spray
of thick gloopy brown stuff arced over the Impala in
a direct line toward the elf.
purely on instinct, both Dean and Sam made a lunge for
the little guy, yanking him backwards away from the
syrup, which splattered harmlessly onto the blacktop
in front of them, instantly solidifying into a thick,
dark brown shell.
yelped, casting a panicked look down at his hand, where
a couple of spots of the brown gunk had landed, the
envelope slipping from suddenly frozen fingers as the
elf sucked in a terrified breath.
got it,” Dean reassured him, scooping up the envelope
before examining Eric’s hand, which had curled
up into a claw as muscles spasmed and froze.
be okay,” the elf insisted, sounding not entirely
sure of himself anymore. “Like I said, it only
lasts a few hours.”
Dean echoed incredulously, eyes straying to the finger
Sam had used to eat some of the chocolaty goo. “Sammy,
you feeling okay? I mean some of that stuff—”
he indicated his brother’s stomach awkwardly,
and Sam just shrugged.
fine,” he insisted. “And my finger’s
okay where I touched it.”
you’re immune?” Eric hazarded, before casting
his eyes at the stranded Impala, held immobile by the
thick coating of syrup hardening against her steel shell.
“Your car sure isn’t. I hope she’ll
frowned. “That’s my line, dude,” he
said. “Don’t go tryin’ to steal my
she’s a one-man vehicle, believe me,” Eric
assured him, before Sam suddenly caught his arm.
need to go,” the younger Winchester reminded them,
just as another stream of sludgy syrup arced in their
at the sight of the sticky gunk dripping from his beloved
Impala and mortified at the thought of leaving her there,
abandoned in the middle of the street, Dean nevertheless
found he had to agree with his brother’s assessment
of the situation.
way!” he instructed, tucking the glittery envelope
inside his jacket before tugging on the elf’s
other arm and urging him in the direction of the alleyway
he’d seen earlier, Sam bringing up the rear.
elf moved surprisingly quickly for a guy with such short
legs, and Dean actually found himself struggling to
keep him in sight, simultaneously having to constantly
check that, first and foremost, Sam was okay and still
behind him, and, secondly, that the pursuing elves weren’t
quite as quick on their feet as Eric was.
the elf ducked into the alleyway, Dean drew his Colt,
but frowned uncertainly as he brought it to bear on
he burst out, shoving the .45 back into his waistband
as Sam skidded into the alleyway behind him. “Shooting
at elves will get us on the Naughty List for sure, right?”
snickered. “Dean, I think it’s a given you’re
already on there, man.”
scowled at the injustice of it. “Well if I’m
on there, so are you!” he insisted, hating how
whiny he sounded. “I didn’t see you
helping any little old ladies across the street this
you didn’t see me hitting on every waitress in
every diner from here to Seattle either, did you?”
Sam returned. “Not to mention those triplets in
a second, Dean forgot they were being pursued by Santa-less
elves toting paralytic chocolate syrup guns. “Mandy,
Sandy and Randy…” He sighed distantly at
the memory. “And boy was she ever—”
coughed. “Sure,” he nodded, coming back
to himself. “Save the badly-dressed elf, save
the world.” Glancing back down the alleyway, he
added, “Speaking of…”
followed the direction of his gaze. “Eric?”
he called out to the empty alleyway.
the hell did the little Smurf go?” Dean demanded,
casting one last glance back over his shoulder at the
pursuing elves before heading off in the direction he’d
last seen Eric. “Hey! Eric!”
he remembers my name!”
felt tiny fingers grab onto his sleeve and tug him into
an open doorway, Sam following close on his heels.
then he was blinking up at a silent production line,
a high-roofed building crammed full of machinery and
conveyor belts, wheels and pulleys and all kinds of
mechanical crap Dean vaguely recognized but couldn’t
seem to put a name to. None of it moved, the people
who worked here presumably having all gone home for
you get in here, Frodo?” Dean asked, glancing
down at Eric quizzically.
elf scuffed his toe on the floor and shrugged innocently.
“Door was open,” he said shortly.
hell,” Dean returned. “Next you’re
gonna tell me the factory let you in, just like the
looked up at him, squinting one eye. “Something
like that,” he said slowly. “Mechanicals
respond well to me. What can I say?”
grinding noise behind him informed Dean that Sam had
slid the big metal door closed, but no sooner had he
shut out the cold wind and pursuing goon squad than
there was a loud thud against the door followed by the
unmistakable high-pitched voice of an elf calling for
can get out the back,” Eric suggested, inclining
his head in the direction of the double doors on the
far side of the cavernous room, and Dean nodded his
agreement, just as another thud sounded from outside,
and then suddenly the door began to creak ominously
as a gelatinous green substance started to leak under
think we better go,” Sam suggested, Eric nodding
Jell-o,” he informed them. “They’ll
have that door down in seconds!”
lime Jell-o?” Dean clarified.
nodded, the bell on his hat tinkling at an alarming
rate. “Eats through anything,” he explained.
“Turns metal into English trifle sponge.”
wasn’t sure he even wanted to know what that was
but for some reason his brain flashed on peas and Jennifer
Aniston. “God, it’s like a scene out of
The Blob,” he commented, enthralled by
the yellowy-green goo creeping under the factory door.
Sam interrupted. “Go? Now? Let’s?”
Yoda, keep your green on!” Dean returned, ushering
Eric toward his brother, who was beginning to thread
his way carefully through the machinery encumbering
their path toward the far door.
back to the doorway for a second, Dean’s eyes
lit on a control panel set into the wall, and he grinned
a little maniacally to himself. “This should keep
his hand against a big green button helpfully labeled
“Start,” he was rewarded by the panel lighting
up and a loud rumbling noise emanating from the machinery
behind him as the conveyors juddered into life, wheels
and spindles and cogs sputtering and spinning.
glee was somewhat short lived, however, as a loud crunch
sounded from the direction of the doorway, and the big
metal door suddenly exploded in a shower of slightly
soggy sponge pieces.
to avoid the deluge, Dean slid easily under the nearest
conveyor as a splodge of yellow goo splattered against
the wall where he’d just been standing.
run!” he heard Eric yell from somewhere
across the room. “Custard! It’s the custard!
Don’t get any on you! It’ll kill you!”
custard?” Dean yelled back. “Who the hell
ever heard of homicidal custard, Bilbo?”
Dean! Eric!” The elf’s annoyed
retort was somewhat muffled by the mechanical grumbling
of the machinery between them, but Dean didn’t
fail to hear the rest of Eric’s dire pronouncement.
“Do you want to die on Christmas, Dean?”
he yelled. “Because that’s what’ll
happen if you get any of that stuff on you! Did you
ever see that movie Alien? Acid for blood?”
can be very ingenious!”
sucked in a breath. “Remind me never to eat in
an elf restaurant,” he commented, ducking behind
something that looked like a cross between Johnny Five
and R2-D2 just as yellow gloop splattered all over it,
thick globules of the stuff dripping down onto the rubber
conveyor belt beneath, which abruptly started to melt
wherever the gunk landed.
crap,” Dean muttered, eyes huge as he watched
the custard eat through not only the rubber but also
the metal infrastructure underneath. “These guys
up the pace, he dodged another couple of blasts of custard
and a particularly nasty splattering of lime Jell-o
as he sprinted after his brother and the little elf,
diving under another hunk of machinery just as custard
splattered where his head had been, the metal hissing
himself flat on his back under a set of metal rollers,
Dean cast a horrified glance upwards, as an unholy mixture
of green and yellow goo slowly started to dribble through
the machinery and onto the inexorably rotating cylinders
right above his face.
man,” he muttered. “Death by Jell-o and
custard? I’m never gonna live this down.”
before his face could be eaten away by an elf-enchanted
dessert, he was suddenly being yanked backwards, custard
and Jell-o dripping onto the floor where he’d
just been lying, the concrete sizzling and steaming,
as Sam’s fingers tightened around his wrists and
pulled him clear of the production line and back up
onto his feet.
a second the two of them just looked at each other,
before Sam managed to remark, “So are you gonna
thank me for saving you from the flesh-eating Jell-o
and custard or what?”
thought about that for a second. “Thank you for
saving me from the flesh-eating Jell-o and custard,
Sam,” he finally managed a little breathlessly,
frowning to himself before adding, “Now there’s
a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself saying.”
glanced back over his shoulder, only to be met by the
sight of the pursuing elves swarming through the Jell-o
and custard-covered production line, the gloopy stuff
seeming not to have the slightest effect on any of them.
protective clothing,” Eric explained, as if reading
Dean’s mind. “It’s a hazardous profession
being in the WEIRD squad.”
sure,” Dean agreed, for the hundredth time that
day shaking his head in disbelief. “C’mon,
let’s get out of here before they get out the
looked up at him, head tilted slightly to one side.
“Reddi-wip?” he echoed. “Now Dean,
that’s just ridiculous.”
sighed. “Of course it is,” he muttered,
following his brother and the elf through the double
doors and into what looked like a break room, tinsel
and garlands festooning every available surface and
Christmas cards stuck all over the front of the fridge.
through another door on the far side of the room, a
long corridor led thankfully to metal fire doors, and
the trio raced toward the exit, Sam’s hand slamming
against the release mechanism just as a splodge of custard
splattered across the wall above Dean’s head.
the threads, dude!” Dean yelled at the elf in
the red knickerbockers, who had just appeared in the
doorway behind them, gunk gun held high and aimed seemingly
right between Dean’s eyes.
just want the Lists, Eric!” the elf cried. “Just
give us the Lists and we’ll let your human friends
hell!” Eric shouted back, Dean actually doing
a double take at the elf’s ballsy retort. “We
both know that’s not true! I won’t let you
ruin Christmas, Elvin! You’ll never take me alive!”
Dean mouthed the name at Sam, who merely shrugged, shoving
open the fire exit onto another alleyway, this one backing
out onto what looked like the of a row of stores and
restaurants, the smells from a multitude of kitchens
wafting toward them through the frosty air.
figured this was probably an inopportune moment to realize
he was hungry, his stomach growling incongruously as
he darted after his brother and the elf, little footsteps
pattering ominously behind him.
back here, Eric! We don’t want to hurt you! But
we will! You and your pet humans!”
actually skidded to a halt at that, one hand on the
fire exit door as he twisted back in the direction of
their pursuers. “Who you callin’ a pet,
Gizmo?” he demanded haughtily, Sam abruptly grabbing
him by the collar and yanking him into the alleyway
just as a generous splattering of custard hit the fire
do you have to antagonize everyone we run into?”
Sam demanded, slamming the doors behind his brother.
thought about that for a second. “Yes,”
he finally pronounced emphatically. “I’m
a big brother. That’s my job.”
besides, he’s just a dwarf—”
Eric virtually screamed at him, still visibly shaking
from his encounter with his erstwhile colleagues. “How
many times do I have to tell you?”
held up his hands. “Sorry man,” he apologized.
“Don’t get your—what are those, breeches?—in
you two have finished bitching at each other—”
Sam interjected, having made his way to the nearest
dumpster, which he proceeded to begin dragging back
toward the fire doors. “Remember those elves with
guns we’ve got chasing us? Huh? Ring a bell with
glanced at Eric a little sheepishly before following
his brother’s lead, helping maneuver the dumpster
until it was firmly wedged in front of the fire doors.
loud thudding could be heard from inside the building,
several squeaky little voices raised in protest.
that you little—” Dean glanced
at Eric again, who was still scowling at him icily,
“—elves!” he finished lamely, looking
to the little guy for approval.
expression didn’t change much, and he merely sighed
before asking, “So where now? I don’t think
you two are ever going be able to help me find Santa!”
we will, Gim—uh—Eric,” Dean assured
him, smiling brightly. “C’mon, there can’t
be that many places Santa Claus would wanna
hang out on a Christmas Eve in Bethlehem.”
sounds—weird,” Sam commented uncomfortably.
Dean agreed, casting his eyes around the alleyway for
the most likely escape route. “Maybe we should—”
never got to finish the sentence as he suddenly found
himself being thrown across the alleyway, a huge explosion
ripping through the fire exit doors and tossing the
dumpster several feet into the air.
back slamming into one of the buildings opposite, he
slid inelegantly down the wall before landing with a
thud on the ground, barely having time to do little
but close his eyes and grit his teeth as two-hundred-twenty
pounds of little brother came sailing toward him, Sam’s
inertia barely slowed by his colliding with several
trash cans on the way.
breath was knocked right out of him as Sam landed on
him with a startled yelp, and it took Dean a good couple
of seconds to figure out which of the eight limbs flailing
around in the trash cans’ scattered contents were
doubt utilizing the superhuman strength Dean had heard
often came with an intense rush of adrenaline, he somehow
managed to push Sam’s bulky form off of him, struggling
to his feet uncertainly as the buzzing in his ears threatened
to tip him right back over into Sam’s lap.
was looking up at him, blinking and mouthing something
Dean couldn’t quite hear over the buzzing, and
Dean reached out a hand to help his brother to his feet,
assessing Sam for any damage before turning his assessment
onto the building opposite.
out a breath, he observed, “When the people who
own that place get back from the holidays, they are
going to be pissed!”
area where the fire exit doors had once been was now
a smoky, yawning hole, the doors themselves a twisted
hulk of metal embedded into a fire escape twenty feet
above their heads, which rained yellow goo incessantly
onto the alleyway below.
dumpster was nowhere to be seen, but from the sound
of honking horns and raised voices just about penetrating
the ringing in Dean’s ears, he was pretty sure
it must have ended up out on the main road at the end
of the alleyway.
he heard himself yell as he examined the wreckage in
all directions. “Eric?!”
tiny tinkling was the first indication that the little
elf had survived the blast, the bell on the tip of his
hat sticking out of a trashcan lying on its side to
Sam crouched down to free the elf from his current metallic
incarceration, Dean turned his attention back to the
hole in the wall opposite where, as the smoke began
to clear, several of the WEIRD elves were beginning
to emerge. Elvin, the leader, was at the front of the
line, goop gun raised threateningly in front of him.
it up, Eric!” he insisted, bringing the gun to
bear on his adversaries as Sam finally managed to set
the elf back on his own two feet. “You’ve
got nowhere to go. You’re surrounded. And we’re
armed. We don’t want to hurt you. Just give us
glanced about himself as the lead elf spoke, confirming
just a little bit too efficiently that Elvin was correct—there
really was nowhere to go.
were completely cornered, the alleyway to their left
coming to an abrupt halt at an eight foot high chain
link fence topped with razor wire which bordered an
unevenly-asphalted parking lot, while the pursuing elves
had already managed to position themselves between them
and the alleyway’s entrance to their right.
Eric insisted. “I’d rather die than let
Senior Management ruin Christmas!”
took a step toward them, followed by seven of his miniature
cohorts, guns all raised menacingly in the direction
of the Winchesters and their elf companion.
right,” he said coolly. “But your human
friends go first.”
what?” Dean burst out, more than a little alarmed
by the idea of having his flesh melted off his bones
by acidic custard. “Let’s not be hasty here.
I’m sure we can come to some kind of—”
didn’t even have time to yell as he suddenly found
himself being shoved backwards by the force of eight
jets of custard splattering against him, covering him
from head to toe in bright yellow gunk.
Dean!” he heard Sam yell from somewhere off to
his right, but his brother’s protests were abruptly
choked off as he too was almost knocked off his feet
by a powerful blast of sugary yellow goo.
himself once again slammed into the wall behind him,
Dean drew in a sharp breath, expecting it to be his
last as he waited for the acidic confection to eat into
his skin as it had the machinery in the factory.
took another breath.
waited some more.
took another breath.
then Sam’s voice was suddenly right in his ear
demanding, “Why aren’t we melting?”
in a voice that almost suggested he was disappointed.
to wipe custard out of his eyes as he spat more of the
stuff out of his mouth, Dean managed to choke, “I
dunno, ask the Wicked Witch of the West over there,”
before shaking convulsively as the cold, slimy substance
began to soak through his shirt.
to blink bright yellow gloop off of his eyelashes, he
squinted at Sam, who was busily licking the stuff off
Dean burst out. “I already told you how gross
that is, right?”
just custard, Dean,” Sam replied, fruitlessly
attempting to wipe some of the stuff off his face.
supposed to be flesh-eating custard, Sam!”
Dean barked back, turning his gaze down to Eric, who
was completely custard-free and was staring at them
in mild shock. “Right, man? I saw it eat through
metal, dude! You said it’d kill us!”
Eric’s forehead creased into a frown. “That’s
very odd,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve
never actually seen it used on a person—or an
elf—before, but I just assumed—basing my
conclusions on the effect it has on inanimate objects—that
it would have the same effect on organic material as
it does on everything else.”
shook his head a little. “Lemme get this straight,”
he began. “We’ve just been chased through
a factory by elves armed with metal-melting custard
that has no actual effect on humans? Except,
y’know, to make us look like circus freaks? Just
because you assumed it’d melt the flesh
off our bones?”
Eric replied. “That would seem to be a logical
conclusion.” He laughed nervously. “Better
safe than sorry.”
Dean honestly felt like his head was going to explode.
“You have got to be freakin’ kidding
remonstrations were cut short by a booming voice suddenly
emanating from one of the buildings behind them.
all this hullabaloo?” the voice demanded. “Can’t
a fellow get a nice backrub in peace anymore?”
had to scoop another handful of custard out of his eyes
before he was able to focus on the tall figure striding
out of the rear exit to one of the storefronts behind
them, a huge bear of a man with a shaggy mane of white
hair and a bushy white beard, currently clad in nothing
more than a downy white bathrobe and fluffy pink slippers.
He appeared to be removing slices of cucumber from his
actually looked like his own eyes might pop right out
of his little skull as the elves across the alley all
drew in a collective breath, gazes downcast as they
immediately lowered both their weapons and their heads
my goodness!” Eric burst out, glancing quickly
at the Winchesters before turning his head back to the
man striding down the alleyway toward them. “You
did it! You actually helped me find him!”
blinked, causing more custard to splatter off his eyelashes.
“Huh?” he managed, looking first at the
big guy, and then at Sam, who was grinning inanely.
Sam stage-whispered, his cheeks coloring visibly despite
the thick covering of custard. “Don’t you
get it? It’s him!”
frowned. “Who him?” he demanded, his attention
returning to the elderly gent with the fluffy slippers.
him!” Sam clarified, the dimples in his cheeks
accentuated by the yellow gunk plastered all over his
face. “Dean, we found Santa!”
maybe it wasn’t Dean’s most eloquent five
seconds, but he really couldn’t think of anything
else to say as the guy with the fluffy slippers finally
made his way over to them, discarding the cucumber in
one of the overturned trashcans before hooking his thumbs
into the belt of his bathrobe in a disturbingly familiar
gesture and chortling loudly.
me he didn’t just say ‘ho-ho-ho,’”
Dean mumbled, causing Sam to snort custard out of his
nose in a distressingly unattractive manner.
just said ‘ho-ho-ho,’” Sam confirmed,
stuffing his gooey hands in his gooey jeans pockets
and jittering around on the balls of his feet like he
had that time Dean took him to see his first mall Santa
when he was five.
get a grip,” Dean mumbled. “There’s
no such thing as—”
well, well! Dean and Sam Winchester!” the bathrobed
behemoth boomed loudly. “Have you been good boys
mouth fell open dumbly and Sam grinned so hard he looked
like his face might set like that, which, Dean figured,
might actually happen considering how fast the custard
was drying on his skin.
big guy—no way he was going to refer to him as
“Santa,” Dean decided right then and there—turned
to examine the devastation around him before adding,
“Hmm, you boys always did have a talent for destruction.
Maybe you’ve been naughtier than I suspected—”
was about to protest his and Sam’s innocence when
Eric stepped in instead.
no, this wasn’t the Winchesters’ fault,”
the little elf explained, casting a venomous glance
over his shoulder towards Elvin and his companions.
“It was the WEIRD squad, sir! They were going
to kill us—!”
you?” Santa—the big guy—okay, maybe
Santa—echoed. “Well whoever heard of such
a thing? I go away for a few days to detox and get a
little spa time before the Big Night and this is what
time?” Dean parroted uncertainly. “You’re
turned an amused eye on the older brother. “Son,
you think these rosy cheeks of mine just glow of their
own accord?” He glanced at a big gold wristwatch,
frowning. “And now I’ve missed my turn on
the sunbed! You think children want to see a pale and
interesting Santa on Christmas Eve? Hmm?”
blinked stupidly, and even Sam couldn’t seem to
manage a coherent reply to that question.
sir?” Elvin suddenly piped up from across the
alleyway. “Begging your pardon, sir, but Eric
here is under arrest.”
raised a thick bushy eyebrow. “Oh he is, is he?
What did he do exactly?”
stole the Lists, sir.”
looked down at Eric, who lowered his head, abashedly.
this true, young man?”
nodded. “Yes sir.”
why on earth would you want to do such a thing?”
elf looked up sheepishly. “Because Senior Management
were sending out the wrong toys, sir.”
were sending what the children were asking for, sir.
Those nasty video games and toy guns and—”
Santa raised a hand. “I see. And that’s
why you stole my Lists? So this wouldn’t happen?”
nodded. “Yes, sir. I didn’t think you would
approve, sir, and in your absence—”
ho!” Santa agreed. “Perhaps next year I
should schedule my vacation time a little earlier in
the year? January perhaps.” He looked the Winchesters
up and down again. “What about these two?”
glanced over at the brothers. “They were trying
to help me find you, sir.”
my car covered in chocolate flavored concrete sauce
for our trouble,” Dean added, squinting at the
old guy irritably. “Not to mention getting chased
by midgets with metal-eating custard and—”
he raised his arms to indicate his current state of
pursed his lips thoughtfully but made no comment regarding
Dean’s list of grievances. “So where are
my Lists, Eric?” he asked instead, although his
eyes never left the Winchesters.
patted himself down, panic clearly thrumming through
his little body. “I—I—they—”
sweat it, Shortstuff,” Dean reassured him, reaching
one custard-covered hand into his jacket and fishing
out a soggy envelope. “I got ’em.”
looked down at the proffered envelope before shaking
his head. “Well that will never do.”
laying one hand on Dean’s shoulder and the other
on Sam’s, Santa closed his eyes for a second,
and Dean suddenly felt as if he was being buffeted in
a wind tunnel, custard sucked off his clothes and his
hair and his skin until he was as clean as—well
as clean as he got.
shook himself, his hair falling over his forehead as
he glanced up at it, apparently to confirm it was no
longer thick with custard. He smiled up at Santa Claus,
cheeks dimpling once again, before mumbling, “Thanks,
Dean muttered, causing the big guy to raise an eyebrow
as he finally took the envelope—now clean and
dry and completely back to its glittery self once again—out
of the younger man’s hands.
might be pleasantly surprised when you get back to your
car, too,” Santa assured him with a little chuckle,
before carefully opening the envelope and pulling out
two sheets of perfectly ordinary-looking paper.
they obviously weren’t ordinary, as when
Dean craned his head around to get a look at what was
written on them, they appeared completely blank.
met his quizzical gaze before winking conspiratorially.
“Invisible ink,” the big guy informed him.
“Only myself and my most trusted elves can read
Dean said, the skepticism obvious in his voice.
Claus “ho-ho-hoed” a couple of times under
his breath, turning one of the sheets of paper into
the weak winter light and squinting at it thoughtfully.
dear,” he said, glancing up at Dean before looking
back down at the paper with a shake of his head. “Well
that’s not good. Not good at all.”
fidgeted uncomfortably, once again attempting to see
what was written on the paper. “What’s not
good?” he asked, shifting his weight nervously
from foot to foot.
didn’t answer, merely examined the other sheet
of paper before smiling, and looking up at Sam. “Well
that’s better,” he said with a grin. “I
knew I could count on you, Sam.”
smiled back a little uncertainly. “Uh. Sure,”
he managed, exchanging an awkward glance with his brother.
“Definitely. You can always count on me, sir.”
on him for what?” Dean demanded, but Santa’s
attention had drifted away from the papers in his hand
and instead turned to the little band of WEIRD elves,
still congregated a few feet away from them, the little
bells on their hats oddly silent as they contemplated
the curled toes of their shoes.
is a sorry state of affairs,” Santa intoned, his
voice becoming a little sterner as he strode toward
Elvin and his crew. “Brother against brother?
Honestly, Elvin, what were you thinking?”
hesitantly risked looking up at his superior. “We
had our orders, sir,” he said. “Senior Management.
They said we should bring the Lists back at all costs—”
at the risk of endangering human—and elfin—life?”
Santa asked, shaking his head sadly. “You know
better than that, Elvin. It’s a good thing humans
are immune to most of your weapons or one of these boys
could have been seriously hurt! Honestly, what were
looked up at him sheepishly. “We just wanted to
make sure the children got what they wanted for Christmas,
sir,” he stammered, once again lowering his eyes.
yes?” Santa returned, laying a huge but gentle
hand on the elf’s narrow shoulder. “Son,
you may discover that what children want isn’t
always what they need or what’s in their best
interests.” He glanced around at the other WEIRD
elves, ensuring they all understood what he was saying
before casting a quick look in Eric’s direction
and winking. “Perhaps Senior Management should
be reminded of that fact too.”
his attention to the destruction that had been wrought
on the alleyway and the factory behind them, Santa put
his hands on his hips and blew out a long breath. “Well
I think you boys should perhaps clear all this up before
the humans get back to work and wonder what on earth
happened,” he suggested.
WEIRD elves just looked at him, mouths hanging open
Santa insisted. “What are you waiting for?”
only the barest hint of a grumble, the elves turned
and began to apply themselves to the task of tidying
up the alleyway, although a couple of them just stood
at the bottom of the fire escape, looking up at the
factory’s blasted off fire doors uncertainly.
smiled indulgently. “Don’t worry about the
doors, boys,” he said. “I’ll take
care of those.”
elves blew out a collective sigh of relief, and headed
off to start clearing up Jell-o and custard from the
inside of the building.
frowned at the old guy. “Couldn’t you just—y’know?”
he said, clicking his fingers and indicating his miraculously
grinned conspiratorially. “I could,” he
agreed, nodding his head sagely. “But what lesson
would they learn if I was always here to tidy up their
messes? Sometimes a father has to let his children learn
the hard way.”
was pretty sure he’d heard that before somewhere;
The John Winchester Guide to Parenting was
crammed full of such pearls of wisdom. He smiled slightly
at the thought, causing Santa to squint at him.
find that funny, son?” he asked.
shook his head. “No. Yes. Maybe.” He shrugged.
“You kinda reminded me of someone for a second
inclined his head slightly before gently squeezing Dean’s
shoulder. “Your father was a wise man, Dean,”
he said soberly, before a tiny grin slowly began to
light up his features. “Although for a wise man,
it’s quite astonishing how often he was on the
squinted at him. “Like father like son, huh?”
chortled, once again turning his attention to the pieces
of paper in his hand.
know what?” he said, squinting at whatever it
was he could see written there. “I think there’s
been a clerical error. Let’s see now.” Staring
hard at the paperwork, he carefully touched a finger
to one of the pieces of paper, before sliding it over
to the other piece, as if he was dragging something
across a touchscreen. “There,” he said finally,
a broad grin splitting open his rosy-cheeked face. “I
think someone may have gotten on the Naughty List by
mistake,” he proclaimed, patting Dean on the shoulder.
“Can’t think how that happened.” He
winked, and Dean did his best to stop himself grinning
like a loon while determinedly avoiding Sam’s
gaze, his little brother just standing there looking
at him with that big goofy smile on his face.
rolled his eyes, before turning his attention back to
the old guy. “Uh, thanks, dude,” he said
a little sheepishly. “This mean I’m getting
hooked up with Megan Fox for Christmas?”
grin broadened considerably. “Oh my boy, if only
I were a few years younger! I could show you a trick
or two with the ladies!”
eyebrows almost disappeared into his hairline. “Seriously?
Man, who’d o’ thought Santa Claus was a
babe magnet in his youth?”
chuckled. “You should see Mrs. Claus!” he
said, nudging Dean none-too-gently in the ribs and winking
as if suddenly remembering where he was, and, perhaps
more importantly, when he was, Santa straightened and
peered at his watch. “Well I think the elves have
this situation under control,” he declared, rubbing
his hands together as he took in the scene in the alley.
followed his gaze over to the factory’s fire exit—where
the doors were miraculously back in place, not a scratch
did you…?” Sam began.
guess Santa works in mysterious ways,” Dean declared,
causing his brother to wince.
so going to Hell, Dean.” Sam predicted. “Again,”
shrugged. “Hey man, we just found out Santa’s
real. I’m pretty sure after that, I can deal with
cast a disturbingly knowing glance back in Dean’s
direction. “Oh Dean. You always believed in me,”
he intoned. “You just forgot, that’s all.”
looked as if he was about to launch into a protest,
but Santa silenced him with a wave of his arm.
you never believed, then how do you explain Sam?”
he pointed out with a chortle. “If you
hadn’t believed, he would never have
believed. And he’s never lost his faith
in me, no matter how old he gets.”
blinked at him.
he blinked at Dean.
Sam began, but seemed unable to complete the sentence,
his cheeks coloring until they were roughly the same
shade as Santa’s.
Dean agreed, shaking his head and shuffling his feet
uncomfortably. “You took the words right outta
my mouth, Sammy.”
anyway,” Santa continued, “I really must
be shaking a tail feather, as I believe you young people
since the seventies,” Dean informed him.
shrugged dismissively. “It’s sure been nice
to see you boys again,” he added, a wistful glint
in his eye as he paused to look at the Winchesters appraisingly.
attention shot back to the guy in the fuzzy slippers.
wistful glint in Santa’s eye seemed to have suddenly
spread to his whole face. “When you were young,
Dean, you told your Auntie Kate you were worried I wouldn’t
be able to find you after your house burned down, didn’t
discomfort became more heightened, his feet shuffling
even more determinedly as a vague memory of a long-ago
conversation with Dad’s friend Mike’s wife
tickled at the back of his brain. “I don’t
you did!” Santa burst out, clapping him so hard
on the back he nearly face-planted into the asphalt.
“But I always did! Always found you both. Even
when your dad…well. Let’s just say he always
wanted to be there.”
cleared his throat pointedly and Dean deliberately avoided
looking at him.
because you’re all grown up now doesn’t
mean I can’t drop in to check you’re okay
every once in a while.”
face wrinkled. “Dude, that’s kinda creepy.”
sweet,” Sam added hurriedly, making a face at
his brother. “And—and thoughtful of you.”
snorted. “You’re a terrible liar, Sam Winchester,”
he informed the younger brother. “Which is probably
why you’re never on the Naughty List.” He
chuckled softly to himself, before continuing. “Anyway,
you boys did a good thing today. A very good thing.
A nice thing. If you hadn’t helped Eric—”
he looked down at the little elf, who was still beaming
up at him proudly, “—I don’t know
what would have happened.” He shook his head,
grabbing both Winchesters and pulling them into a bear
hug so fierce it pretty much knocked all the air out
of Dean’s body. Putting the two of them back on
their feet, Santa clapped each of them on the shoulder,
chortling happily. “The Winchesters who saved
Christmas,” he told them grandly. “Mr. Disney
should make a movie.”
the elf,” Dean added, casting a quick look in
Eric’s direction. “The Winchesters and the
elf who saved Christmas. That’d be a better
blinked up at him, clearly stunned. “You—you
didn’t call me a midget!” he burst out.
“Or a dwarf. Or a munchkin. Or a Smurf. Or a hobbit.
yeah, we get it, Frodo,” Dean cut him off shortly,
a tiny flicker of a smile tugging at his lips. “Point
is,” he added, again shuffling his feet awkwardly,
“you did pretty good today too, dude. You’re
the one who saved Christmas. We just stopped you getting
your ass creamed. Or syruped. Or custarded.” He
squinted at Sam. “Is that even a word?”
Sam replied shortly. “You should stop talking
chuckled again. “Eric, time to go,” he said,
turning to the elf. “We have presents to deliver.”
eyes widened to epic proportions. “We?”
he burst out. “I—I’m—”
think you earned a ride on the sleigh tonight, my boy.”
Santa turned his face up toward the snowy sky, shielding
his eyes from the whiteness before looking down at himself.
“I really should go and put some clothes on before
Rudolph and his colleagues arrive,” he commented,
considering his current outfit thoughtfully. “It
could be quite embarrassing—not to mention chilly—climbing
down a chimney in nothing but a bathrobe and furry slippers.
People might not recognize me. I could be arrested for
breaking and entering!”
raised an eyebrow. “Or indecent exposure,”
he suggested. “Which. Y’know. Awkward to
explain to the missus.”
snorted. “Wouldn’t be the first time, son,”
he chuckled. “The stories I could tell you…”
Santa?” Eric tapped a contraption on his wrist
that might have been a watch in some alternate universe,
and Santa nodded.
boys need a ride back to your car?” he asked,
his outfit having transformed into his familiar red
suit and hat in the time it took Dean to blink.
glanced up into the sky, squinting as a dark shape slowly
began to descend toward them, a red light glowing fiercely
hard, he shook his head firmly. “Uh, no, that’s
okay, dude,” he assured Santa, completely failing
to keep the tremor from his voice.
snickered. “He’s afraid of flying,”
he explained to Santa, who nodded his understanding.
was Rudolph to begin with,” he said. “You
get used to it when you’ve got as many frequent
flyer miles as I have!”
well, I prefer to keep my feet—or wheels—or—or
hooves on the ground, thanks very much,”
Dean assured Santa, taking a nervous step back as the
sleigh—and its attendant reindeers—made
a sudden rapid descent, hooves pounding on asphalt as
Santa’s ride touched down in the alleyway, coming
to a sudden but somehow unnaturally graceful stop right
in front of them.
considered them lazily, his nose glowing like one of
the Impala’s tail lights, before turning his attention
to his master.
patted him on the nose affectionately. “Always
on time, my boy! I don’t know what I’d do
Eric toward the sleigh, he helped the elf up onto the
bench seat before following him into his transport,
winking at Dean as he patted the upholstery. “Mr.
Singer salvaged this from an old Chevy when the last
seat wore out,” he told him. “Thought you
might appreciate it!”
good to buy American,” Dean replied, keeping a
wary distance between himself and the reindeer, one
of whom he was sure was trying to get into a staring
contest with him.
mind Blitzen,” Santa said. “Always looking
for a fight that one.”
blinked. “Dude, I’m not fighting a reindeer.”
reindeer snorted, and Dean took a cautious step back,
a little mortified when he realized he’d edged
slightly behind Sam’s shoulder.
a seven foot Wendigo or a nest of vampires doesn’t
bother you, but you’re afraid of a reindeer,
Dean?” Sam snarked.
scowled at him. “Not afraid,” he insisted.
“Cautiously wary would be more like it.”
Sam said. “Now I know why you never wanted to
take me to the zoo when I was a kid.”
shrugged. “You seen the size o’ those friggin’
antlers, man? Gimme a Wendigo any day!”
thanks again, boys!” Santa interrupted their discussion
politely. “I’ll make sure you get something
nice for Christmas!”
Fox!” Dean returned. “Remember? And a book
of poetry or somethin’ for Samantha here.”
huffed. “Bye—uh—Santa,” he managed,
waving as the sleigh wobbled slightly, the reindeer
gearing up for take-off.
care of each other!” Santa instructed.
remember,” Eric added, “If you’re
naughty, Santa knows!”
frowned. “Still creepy, but thanks for the advice,
Fro—Eric,” he stammered. “We’ll
be sure to remember.”
I’ll be sure to remind him,” Sam added with
hell,” Dean muttered, taking another cautious
step back before grabbing a handful of Sam’s jacket
and yanking him back with him.
little helper,” Dean returned.
the boys continued to bicker, the reindeer pushed off
from the asphalt with a collective snort, the sleigh
soaring up into the snow-laden sky with only Eric’s
heartfelt cry of “And thank you!” floating
back on the chill wind, leaving the Winchesters standing
in the suddenly-deserted—and unnaturally pristine—alleyway
without a clue what to do next.
Dean said at length, snowflakes coating his eyelashes
as he continued to gaze up into the heavy white sky
as the snow began to fall in earnest.
Sam returned, following his gaze.
shouldn’t really be surprised,” Sam reasoned.
“I mean, if demons and angels and monsters are
real, why not Santa?”
you always believed in him?” Dean demanded
shrugged. “I always believed in you,” he
said quietly. “And you always believed in him.”
swallowed, his cheeks beginning to burn. “You’re
such a girl,” he managed, his voice a tiny bit
strangled as he shoulder-checked his brother gently.
snorted. “Merry Christmas to you too, Dean.”
sighed, taking a breath before shrugging as he turned
to head in the direction of the Impala, Sam close on
his heels. “Yeah. Merry Christmas, Sammy,”
he said seriously, taking a few steps in awkward silence
before adding, “But I better find my car clean
enough to eat off of and Megan Fox in the back seat
with pie and eggnog or Santa’s off my Christmas
never know,” Sam added with a chuckle, “she
might bring custard. For the pie.”
shuddered. “If I never see custard and Jell-o
again, it’ll be too soon, Sammy…”