Be Good For Goodness Sake
Pairing: Sk/K implied
Notes: For Ursula's Christmas 2002 Challenge (Having a character undercover as Santa)
Notes Pt II: Thank you to Peach for her fast betaing and Terry Pratchett for his
inspiration of Christmas which is so much more real than reality =)
"Smile, Walt, when you think those words". Alex grinned as the dark cloud over Walter's head turned darker and more turbulent. "Besides, I think you look just fiiine in those green tights..."
Walter was bedecked in Christmas green cheer from his head to the tip of his toes. All that sheer material would have made him look like the Jolly Green Giant were it not for the slippers with the bell-tipped pointy turned up toes and the smart little elf's hat he wore. Alex eyed him appreciatively. For the children's sake, the bright green tunic with the big black belt and silver buckle covered enough that there was plenty left to the imagination, but since Walt had yet to put the green felt top on, Alex could enjoy the scenery.
Scully had been dressed in a natty dark red short skirt, trimmed with white fur, her hair suiting the part to a tee, shiny black shoes and dark green pantyhose. Mrs Claus was ready for action, although also somewhat distracted by the current landscape.
"Now, now, sir, this is precisely the reason you're not in the Santa Claus role, you'd scare off the children with that face."
Walter's muttering subsided to a muted grumble as he slipped the tunic over his head.
Alex grinned wider and turned to the mirror as his distraction was covered, and continued to whiten his eyebrows with the makeup. Cheek pads glued carefully to his face rounded out his general appearance, and the careful application of staining agent reproduced a cheery rosy cheeked look that was child-smooch safe. He practiced.
"Ho, ho, ho!"
A wry look from Scully.
"You sound like Muttley."
Alex snorted, slightly offended, and tried again, deepening his voice an octave.
"Ho, Ho, Ho!"
"Better." came the Claus auditor's judgement.
A rash of kidnappings had occurred recently, with children being snatched from various Santa Claus queues across the area. The Santa Snatchers seemed to be a group of well organised crooks, easily overpowering the staff and low security at the Grottos. They usually struck near the end of a session, and dragged the children to the sewer access where they would easily escape along the myriad paths. So far, no ransom requests had been made, but the FBI considered that it would only be a matter of time before they had kidnapped enough children to make their imagined quota. In response to the threat, the FBI had simply taken over most of the Santa Clauses in each shopping mall, the companies and Santas that were usually there gladly allowing the replacement, the career Santas even giving various agents lessons on "Santa Clausnics for Dummies".
Walter had refused outright to be a Santa, but agreed to take part. Their force turned out to be only the three of them, with various agents scattered near the exits as a safety measure. Walter had nearly backed out again when he saw what he had to wear, but had been offered a free trip to Guilt, USA (Population: You!) by Alex who had casually mentioned what would happen if he wasn't there visibly to help.
Alex slipped on the padding, a soft rubber substitution, better than the usual foam padding, since it felt more realistic. It was heavier than the traditional padding, but Alex felt it gave more credence to how the body would carry, and he was more than capable of trundling around in it. He'd be sitting down most of the time anyway.
The age yellowed curly white beard was carefully glued on, with adhesive strong enough for the most determined toddler, sideburns placed with care, the wig with attached hat was slipped over a stockinged scalp and secured snugly. Contact lenses turned the green eyes to a faded blue. He gazed into the mirror as he pulled on the jacket, sealing the Velcro closed over the padding and completing the image. Walter strode over and tugged slightly on one side, realigning the material properly.
"It's very good." He stated, impressed. "I wouldn't recognise you at all."
Alex grinned a pure unmistakable Alex-got-the-canary grin at his lover.
"Ah, now you look like the Cheshire cat in a Santa suit." Walt grinned back.
Alex clumped around the small 'Santa House' that sat at the back of the Grotto, settling his shiny black boots. He ran the catchphrase again, deepening his voice and adding a gruff tone he'd often heard from Walter.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!"
He took Scully's grin as approval and continued his circuit of the low ceilinged house, head slightly ducked, trying not to think how he'd overheat in the outfit. A knock on the door signalling the beginning of the shift brought all three heads up like alerted meerkats, causing two of them to slam their heads against the ceiling, hard.
Scully couldn't help but laugh at the stereo yelps of pain as they walked out of the hut, ready for their audience. The sacrifices we made for show business...
The Grotto was a rather impressive deal, with the children going into one entrance and exiting out the other, most of the parents deigning not to enter, but waiting at the other end. It was like some huge commercial assembly line that output happy shiny children from the irritated, tired inputs. A fact that drew parents from all over the mall to the attitudinal child wash. The layout also lent itself to the Santa Snatchers perfect setup. The Grotto backed up to the maintenance corridors, and snatching the often parentless children would be a snap.
If it weren't for the large, six foot plus, built like a linebacker elf looking over the children with a jaundiced eye, that is.
"Walt!" Alex whispered sharply, "Stop scaring the kids!"
Alex beamed at the incoming children. "Don't worry about him. He's Grumpy, my head elf."
Walter grunted in disgust.
A small child, padded in woollen clothing to the point where the gender was questionable, waddled up to his leg and peered up, blinking widely. Walter glared down for a second. The child giggled and treated him to a wide grin and a hug on the leg before waddling onwards towards Santa.
Santa grinned at his head elf's dumbfounded expression and looked down at his first customer, lifting the child onto his knee.
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Hello little..." He glanced under the large woollen beanie. "... girl. What is your name?"
"...neeff" The name was said around a mouthful of mitten.
Alex blinked a few times as he mentally translated before booming "Well, Denise, have you been a good girl this year?"
"And what would you like for Christmas?"
"A pony, eh? And what colour pony would you like?"
"Ho! Ho! Ho! We'll have to see what we can do! Now look over at Mrs Claus over there and smile for the photo!"
The small child focussed on Scully and beamed a wide eyed smile at the flash. Alex received a wet smooch on the cheek before the soggy half chewed mitten made its way back into her mouth. He handed her a candy cane which immediately replaced its woollen counterpart and Denise toddled off to the exit giggling all the while.
Alex shared a warm smile with Scully and Walt before turning to his next customer.
"And what's your name, young man?"
"Arthur, and I don't think you're really -the- Santa Claus, Robert in my class says that you're just a fake and that you're just a normal guy dressed up as Santa and that all the Santas are really just fakes and none of them are real and you don't really exist and it's all just our parents who do the presents and everything and he says that the others like the Easter Bunny are really our parents too and all this is just a way to make money, he says it's a gross abuse of capitalisation and commercialism."
Alex was somewhat impressed with the boy's breath control. He stroked his beard to cover his grin.
"Is that so, young man?"
"Yes, so the only reason I'm here is to look after Joe, my baby brother who's over there in the line and since you don't really exist and stuff I don't believe in you, but he does and mom says that I can't spoil the surprise for him and tell him about you so I won't but it's not nice to lie to people about this sort of thing you know."
Walter and Scully exchanged looks, snapped the photo and Arthur went back towards the queue to keep his brother company.
Alex checked his sack of candy and noticed it was getting a little low. "Grumpy!"
Walter's expression boded for an interesting punishment later on. Alex grinned in anticipation, but handed him the sack, and Walter ducked back inside the house to refill it.
A riot of high-pitched screams signalled the beginning of pure chaos. Alex and Scully darted forward towards the crowd of milling children as they ran hither and yon.
Walter burst out from the house like an avenging angel, albeit one that had either gone very mouldy or had an odd taste for the colour green. Three men dressed as elves had snatched a couple of children and had bulled their way out through a service exit, knocking many children aside in their rush.
The Clauses gave pursuit.
They all ran full pelt through twisty corridors, Walter in the lead of the pursuers, as Alex was having difficulty attaining his normal speed due to his costume, and Scully, despite the years of practice was wearing high heels. Just as they neared the sewer access, Walter threw himself at a trailing childnapper, in a move that would have done any footballer proud, and the two of them went down in a tangle of limbs.
Unfortunately, due to the narrowness of the corridor, this blocked the way for Alex and Dana, and the remaining kidnappers escaped through the sewer access with the children.
Walter wrestled for a moment before grabbing the kidnapper by the hair and slamming his forehead into the ground. The man went limp and Walter disentangled himself. Alex gave him a hand up, and the two of them handcuffed the felon to a nearby concrete pillar.
"There's no way we can track them now." Scully remarked angrily, "We still need to go back up and check no-one was hurt."
Alex pursed his lips, considering. "You two go up. I'll keep an eye on our Grinch here."
The other two nodded in acquiescence and headed back up to the Grotto.
The kidnapper was lucky he wasn't awake to see Alex's expression.
The Grotto was filled with crying children and harried parents as they attempted to search for their offspring in the dim confines of the cave. Dana reached around the door and flipped a switch, flooding the area with light. The two of them worked their way around the crowd, comforting wailing children, reassuring parents and restoring order to the chaos. They worked their way through the supply of candy canes and paired up children with their respective parents. None of the remaining children had been hurt too badly, with only a few suffering from some scrapes and bruising from being shoved roughly aside as the kidnappers made their escape.
The two kidnapped children turned out to be Arthur Jennings, he of the unbeliever, and his younger brother Joseph Jennings. Dana comforted the distraught parents while Walter co-ordinated the other agents to cover the scene. He caught Scully's eye and nodded to the service exit, where they had left Alex guarding the remaining kidnapper. Scully nodded, passed the parents off smoothly to a nearby agent to get their details and followed her AD, pausing only briefly to change shoes, both moving swiftly before anything else happened.
Unfortunately for the two of them, they were a little too late.
Their prisoner was uncuffed and curled up in a corner rocking back and forth and muttering "I've been good all year, I've been good all year..." over and over again. He flinched violently away from Scully as he caught sight of her dress and whimpered as he scrabbled away, pushing himself as far into the wall as he could go. A sheet of gaily coloured paper had been pinned to his back and Scully pulled it off before passing it to Walter and reattempting to check out the mental state of their prisoner.
Walter scanned the sheet and snorted. Alex had been a busy boy. Passing the note back to Scully he gazed sadly down at the Santa Snatcher. Poor boy would never see Christmas in quite the same way ever again.
Moving quickly, they followed the directions outlined on the gaily coloured note, avoiding the worst of the sewerage and making their way relatively unscathed. The way was fairly convoluted, but the instructions, written in green crayon, were clear enough for them not to get lost.
Alex turned around and motioned for quiet as they came up to him. He was around the corner from where the captured Snatcher had detailed their lair to be. The Santa Snatchers had refurbished their corner of the sewer, walling off a section with fibro board and installing a cunningly concealed door that almost blended in perfectly with the other walls. Being thin, however, made listening in to be an easy task.
Ears to the wall, the murmur of discussion could be clearly heard, along with the soft sobbing of the children. Alex readied himself in front of the door and the others arrayed themselves behind him, guns out. Holding out a gloved hand, remarkably, still white, Alex counted down from three before lashing a booted foot out with all his strength, and following it with the rest of his body.
The blocked off tunnel within, held little furniture. A table covered in plans and schematics. A pile of sleeping bags sat in one corner on a large pallet. A small kitchen area with a generator lurked in another corner. The children were tied up in the back, furthest from the now very broken door. The older ones had herded the younger further away from the kidnappers, and were attempting to comfort the softly sobbing children.
The kidnappers had good reflexes; Alex had to admit as they barrelled into the room. They had been seated around the table in deep discussion, but quickly flung themselves at the intruders.
A shot rang out, and Alex spun from the impact as it hit his arm.
One of the kidnappers blinked in surprise as the portly figure hit the ground in a well controlled tumble.
"Oh my god! You shot SANTA!"
Thanking the social upbringing that caused even hardened criminals to check twice before attacking imaginary festive figures, Alex flipped himself to his feet from the ground, the weight of the costume almost tipping him off balance, before diving at the gunman with a grace that only a large red, fur-clad, rotund bringer of gifts could manage.
Evidently, the power that the suit held to confuse and befuddle people not expecting a ballistic Claus, held Alex in good stead, as the gunman stood stock still, gaping, making an easy target to bring down.
Grumpy was in fine form, taking down another two kidnappers, who despite their occupation, had not been prepared to be elf-shot. Mrs Claus had slammed a police baton into the arm of the last member of the gang, breaking his wrist and forcing him to drop his weapon, and now had him under gunpoint, snarling silently at him as he sat in shock at the sheer surreality of the situation.
The children gazed wide eyed at the groaning kidnappers as they were herded into a corner and kept under the eagle eye of the large elf. Mr and Mrs Claus came around and untied them from the ropes binding them, checking them for injuries.
Walter called the other agents in, pulling all the other teams from the field, giving directions and starting the clean up. Fairly swiftly, the small room was bustling with activity as the gang was taken care of and the children attended to.
Arthur Jennings had been completely quiet, during the whole debacle, the windiness obviously blown out of him by the turn of events. He tentatively reached out to tug on Alex's arm in wonder, and gently touched the bullet hole in the fabric. Walter looked on and smiled. He'd been so relieved to see that it was the left arm that was hit, and not the flesh and blood right arm.
Arthur, however, had become a believer.
And soon the story spread and grew, children told their friends at school, who told their siblings and cousins. Santa had brought an army of elves, led by the brave Head Elf, Grumpy, and Mrs Claus with her wooden spoon of Mommydom. They had stopped the bad men from whatever bad plot they were hatching and the children of the world were safe.
And the rest of the bad people in the world?
You'd better watch out...