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The Curious Case of the Christmas Elf

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December 14th

Kenzi’s still drifting to wakefulness, floating on waves of pixie dust and fairy lights, when her eyes suddenly fly open. “Something is wrong. Very, very wrong,” she says, tearing herself from her covers.

She bounds down the stairs two at a time, following the trail of wrong. When she gets to the kitchen, she sees it just sitting there, innocently, steaming away.

It’s a silver covered tray, like one of those things the servants used to serve food in all those old black and white movie. It’s a silver covered tray that smells like heaven mixed with holiday and topped off with happiness.

She approaches the shiny metal cover with trepidation.

A few short months ago, she wouldn’t have looked the gift food in the mouth. But that was before the whole run-in with gift food that was actually people food—not food for people, but food made of people. Now she feels required to investigate before partaking of any gift food goodness.

She picks up Bo’s sword and taps the lid. No shrieks, no squeals, and no sudden movements. “Probably not alive, then.” She taps one more time. Nothing. “Probably.

She lifts the lid and stabs quickly in a downward motion directly at the contents of the tray, just to make sure. Luckily she does not come up with any spider-like thing, or any rat-like thing, or any weird fae-like thing. Instead, speared on the end of the sword is a beautiful, beautimous piece of French toast. There’s cinnamon. And powdered sugar. And possibly vanilla.

She looks down at the tray, at the plate that’s arranged in the very center of it. On the plate there are four more pieces of French toast, three eggs perfectly sunny side up, and six crispy pieces of bacon. She gingerly removes the piece of French toast from the end of the sword and brings it closer to better examine it.

It looks like French toast. She pokes it. It feels like French toast. And it certainly smells like French toast. She carefully sets down the piece of probably-French-toast next to the other pieces of probably-French-toast and turns to find her next implements of torture and dissection, a fork and a knife.

When she turns back to her magnificent, beautiful, manna-from-heaven surprise, she screams in terror and indignation. The five pieces of French toast are exactly where she left them, but now, the cinnamon on each piece makes a letter. And those letters put together spell out KENZI. Well, either KENZI or a mirror-verse IZNEK, and that seems to be reaching, just a bit. She drops the lid back over the tray and backs away. “Why does the magical food always have to be evil? Why?

*

Kenzi has learned many lessons during the year-ish she’s spent as Bo’s best girl (in the non-sex way) and numero uno companion. One of the things she learned: do not deal with Fae shit on your own. Since Bo is all busy with the evil du jour, and Trickster is all busy helping her, and the D-man is all busy with his own ‘completely unrelated’ Fae shit—which will probably end up being the same exact problem as Bo’s through the mystery that is Faedom, Hale is the only one she can go to with her dire, dire problem. “Dude. Hale. Mi mano. You gots to help me.”

Hale’s eyebrow arches up. “Really. I’ve gotta help you? You’re telling me that something went wrong and the first person who came to mind was me?”

Kenzi bats her eyelashes in her most helpless doe-eyed manner and says, “Well of course you were the first person I thought of. When evil of the Fae kind is around, who ya gonna call? Who other than the Fae’s finest, the Fae’s toughest. Hale! Woo hoo!” She waves her arms in an excited cheer.

Hale stares at her.

“Woo hoo?” she says with one last wave.

“Bo was busy, huh?” Hale says, tucking his chin down to meet her eyes.

“Bo? Who is this Bo you speak of? I’m sure this person, whoever she may be, has got nothing on your powers of deduction.”

Hale just arches his eyebrow and looks at her.

Kenzi tries looking at him super-innocently for a super-long time—like thirty whole seconds—and then she caves, like a super-cavey thing. “Fine. Bo was busy.”

“Mm hm,” Hale says.

“But you were totes my second choice. Come on, Hale. You have to help me.” She tries the batting her eyelashes thing again.

Hale is still unmoved.

Kenzi folds her hands in front of her and says, “Please, please, please. Please. With a little bit of cheese. On your knees. In the trees. With the chimpanzees.”

“Seriously?” Hale says.

“Swinging in the breeze,” Kenzi says.

“You are sick. You know this, right?” Hale finally pushes his way through the front door.

“Well, technically it’s considered a condition, not a disease. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is the Fae-ful of evil currently chillaxing in my kitchen.” She leads him into the kitchen and finishes with a sweeping motion that uncovers said evil.

Hale stares at said evil, looking entirely unimpressed. “It’s breakfast.”

“It’s evil breakfast. With evil French toast. And evil cinnamon.” She gestures at the evil French toast, still evilly spelling her name.

“It’s breakfast,” Hale says, again. As if to prove his point, he picks up a piece of bacon and eats it in just two bites. “Mmm. Crispy. Just the way I like it.”

Kenzi stares at Hale, speechless for a second. Then she starts pummeling him with her fists. “What is wrong with you? Why did you do that? You ate the evil bacon. Evil bacon! Who knows what evil bacon can do to you. Maybe it will kill you. Or… or… or… it might make you homicidal. You might try to kill me. Can you make yourself vom at will? Or, forget that, just stick your finger down your throat.”

“I’m not gonna stick my finger down my throat,” Hale says, crossing his arms over his chest.

Kenzi’s about to tell him that of course he’s going to stick his finger down his throat. He has to stick his finger down his throat. Then she decides to change tactics. “Fine. You’re right. You don’t have to stick your finger down your throat.”

“Thank you,” Hale says, throwing his hands up in the air as if thanking the heavens themselves.

“You don’t have to worry about a thing,” Kenzi says, stepping closer. She pats his cheek as if in comfort. And then, faster than a bunny rabbit, she grabs his jaw, as firmly as she can. “I’ll take care of everything.”

She has her other hand half in his mouth, two fingers reaching toward the back of his palate, when he starts trying to say something.

“What was that? Didn’t hear you. Didn’t your mommy ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full?” She inches her fingers ever further toward their goal.

Hale says something that sounds like a mangled 'Kenzi'. Well, either that or 'pansy'. And, really, that’s more than enough.

“I can’t believe you. Would you just sit still and let me make you vom like a good little Siren?” she says, letting go of his jaw to slap him on the cheek for his cheek.

Obviously letting down her guard for even a second was a bad bad plan. Before she could say lickity split Hale has her in a head-lock.

“Let go of me! You let go of me right now evil!Hale. Right now!” Kenzi wriggles and tries to get some of her pointy parts in his softer parts, but Hale evades her every move.

Hale clears his throat a couple times, and when he talks, his voice is low and rusty. “Little Mama, you’d better listen and listen good. The only reason you’re not sleeping the sleep of the unconscious right now, is the fact that in your more sane moments you’re pretty chill.”

“Damn right I’m chill,” Kenzi says. “Hey. You’re not evil.”

“No. As I was going to say before you attacked me, the breakfast is not evil at all.”

“Not at all?” Kenzi says.

“Not even a little bit,” Hale says. “It’s a perfectly normal, perfectly tasty breakfast.”

Kenzi twists until she can see Hale’s face. “Wait. How can you tell?”

“Cinnamon. Didn’t you know cinnamon is an herb of purity? Nothing with cinnamon on it can be evil.” Hale looks at her with his most sincere expression.

“Wait. Really?” Kenzi says.

“No. Not really,” Hale says, tweaking her nose.

“Dude,” Kenzi says, shoving him in the shoulder.

“Nah, man. What day is it today?”

“Uh, Saturday? Aka, Party day?” Kenzi says.

“No, I mean what date. As in, the fourteenth. Aka, the first day of Christmas.”

“Dude, I may have failed to attend a good portion of school, but even I know that the first day of Christmas is Christmas day.” Kenzi says, crossing her arms.

“Maybe in human terms the first day of Christmas is Christmas day, but in the Fae world, the first day of Christmas is the fourteenth of December.”

“Okay, whatevs, the Fae world is weird and wrong, yet again. But what, oh capitan, does any of this have to do with my evil breakfast?”

“Your very-not-evil breakfast is, pretty obviously, a gift of the first day of Christmas.”

Kenzi snorts. “Right.”

“What?” Hale says.

“Uhm, who, precisely, would be giving me this ‘day of Christmas’ gift? In case it’s escaped your noticed I haven’t exactly made many friends in the world of the Fae.”

“Yeah,” Hale says, getting this weird look in his eyes. “Well, Christmas day gifts don’t come from just any Fae, obviously. They come from a special breed of Fae. The Christmas Elves.”

“Wait,” Kenzi says, shocked. “You’re saying Christmas Elves actually exist?”

“Yep. That’s what I’m saying,” Hale says.

“And that they bring people gifts of awesomeness and beauty?”

“Pretty much.” Hale shoves his hands in his pockets and starts backing away. “Uh, now that we’ve figured the whole mystery out, I’m gonna jet.”

Kenzi waves her hands in acceptance, the gesture of a sovereign accepting something foolish of her populace.

After all, if Hale stayed he would only be in the way. Kenzi has a Christmas Elf to catch.

December 15th

Kenzi wakes up to a repeat of the morning before, heavenly scent drifting up to tickle her senses. This time she’s careful to be super quiet while extracting herself from her sheets.

She tiptoes down the stairs, sword in one hand and a bottle of mead in the other. She’s not sure if the whole myth about fairies being addicted to mead is true. She’s also not sure if Christmas Elves are fairies or some other thing. But, she figures there’s a chance, however slight, that she’ll be able to tempt the little… big… some sized creature to be her bestest friend in ever with it, so she’s gonna take the chance.

Although the heavenly scent from the kitchen is very tempting, she goes first to the front door where she’s hoping to find one Christmas Elf in her super awesome Christmas Elf trap made from two hockey nets, a bucket, and four dozen marbles.

She meets disappointment. Not only is there no elf, her trap was never sprung.

She tosses aside the sword in disgust, and carries the mead with her toward her consolation prize of Christmas Elf Breakfast, taking a swig on the way.

But, when she gets to the kitchen, she can’t help but notice the candy cane striped coffee mug, steaming steadily away beside the shiny silver tray.

“Score!” she says, grabbing the mug and sipping away at pure bliss.

*

“Dude, why didn’t you tell me this was some kind of exponentially increasing gift sitch?” Kenzi says, brushing past Hale to sit on his desk.

“Please, feel free to have a seat,” Hale says. “And no. Don’t take a chair. Why would you possibly use a piece of furniture meant for sitting when you could sit somewhere not meant for it?”

Kenzi fake-coughs. “Excuse me. I seem to be choking on all the sarcasm in this room.”

Hale rolls his eyes and seats himself at his own chair. “It’s not exponential.”

“Hm?” Kenzi says, kicking him in the shin.

“It’s not exponential. It’s incremental. One new gift every day, added to the gifts of the day before.”

“Really…” Kenzi says, thinking ahead. “Wait. That means ten more days of breakfasts and coffees and many many other beautiful things.”

“Yeah. That’s what it means.” Hale crosses his arms over his chest and sits further back in his seat.

Kenzi leans forward and bops him on the nose. “Well isn’t that just the best news since discovering the whole Fae thing!” She jumps off the desk and starts walking backwards out the room. “By the way, do Christmas Elves stick to glue?”

“What?” Hale asks.

“Never mind. I’ll find out myself.” She smiles one more time and walks out the door. She has to stop at a hardware store on her way back and pick up some more supplies.

December 16th

Christmas Elves do not stick to glue. They do, however, have excellent taste in shoes.

*

“Hale here,” Hale says, over the phone line.

“So, if I were a Christmas Elf, what time of the day and/or night would I be most likely to deliver my presents to my unsuspecting recipients?” Kenzi says, holding her alarm clock at the ready.

“Hello, Kenzi. Yes, I am working right now. I am working my very important job, keeping the streets clean and maintaining the peace. Which means that, no, I don’t answer meaningless questions from friends during said hours of work.”

“Jeez. Fine. Whatever. Just know that you’re to blame if I’m cranky tomorrow from not getting enough sleep.” Kenzi jabs the end button on her phone, half wishing she could jab Hale’s stupid face instead.

But now is not the time. Now is the time to set up her sting. She positions herself at the front door with a tennis racket, a stun gun, and four extra-large coffees.

December 17th

Kenzi wakes up to an ever more familiar scent.

Wait a second.

Kenzi wakes up. Which means Kenzi had been asleep. Which means… “Damn!”

She looks around herself and finds… she is in her own bed.

If she’s in her own bed, she didn’t just fall asleep by the front door. Which means that her Christmas Elf made her fall asleep. Which means… something. There’s something niggling at the back of her mind, but she can’t for the life of her figure out what it is.

She walks down the stairs relatively disheartened, but when she gets to the kitchen she finds…

“Wow, Mr. Elf is one kinky barstard,” she says, holding up the matching red lace panties and bra.

*

She decides to wear the new underthings.

They feel even better than they look.

*

Kenzi is disheartened. She is so disheartened, she’s sitting at Trick’s bar, communing with the gods known as alcohol and debauchery.

“I don’t get it. I just don’t get it!” Kenzi tells Hale, or something that looks very much like a sort of runny Hale. The glass moves. Ah, normal Hale.

“What don’t you get?” Hale says, setting his head down on the bar.

Kenzi can’t figure out why Hale would set his head down on a bar. After all, a bar is not a safe place to lay one’s head. There’s liquor. And beer. And cider. It’s not safe. And then she feels the hard sticky surface under her own cheek and, okay, yeah, that makes sense. “But really. I don’t get it.”

“What don’t you get, Little Mama?” Hale says, running a hand through her bangs.

“Uhm.” She’s distracted for a second. “That feels nice.”

“Yeah?” Hale says.

“But really. I just don’t understand.” She says shoving herself up from the bar. “If this Elf person is all gifting me things, why wouldn’t he want to show himself to me? All I want to do is thank him.”

“Maybe he’s shy,” Hale says.

Kenzi slaps in his general direction. “Dude, what’s there to be shy about? I’m totes wearing his kinky elf gift present.”

Hale chokes on his tea.

And then Trick is there. Trick is there with more beverage of goodness. Kenzi makes gimme hands at the bottle.

“And who exactly are we drinking ourselves silly over this time?” Trick says, filling her cup until it runneth over. Or maybe it’s just Kenzi’s drunkenness that’s making it run over.

“Mr. Kinky Christmas Elf man,” Kenzi says to her friendly friendly glass.

“You know Christmas Elves don’t exist, right?” Trick says. To Kenzi’s right, Hale is making some seriously weird gestures, and Trick is looking at him with something like confusion on his face. Kenzi thinks. It might just be the alcohol playing tricks on her.

“Dude. Of course Christmas Elves exist. And they are wonderful.” She raises her drink in a salute to said elves and downs it in one go.

She may pass out a little then.

December 18th

Kenzi wakes up feeling so much worse than death she actually envies death. She slowly pries her eyes open and, after a few minutes of the ceiling spinning before her eyes, she turns her head enough to notice a purple bottle that says ‘drink me’ on a little tag. Normally she would be a little wary about drinking something without knowing what it was, but at this point, she figures being poisoned to death would be far preferable to how she’s feeling right now.

She shoves herself partially upright and chugs the bottle down. It’s not until she’s swallowed it all down that she thinks about the fact that it could have been truly disgusting. Luckily, as she’s running her tongue around her mouth, all she can taste is a faint hint of Christmas.

A few seconds later, her head is completely clear. Not only is her head clear, she also remembers every second of last night, from the lovely little impromptu karaoke number to the twenty minutes of sobbing all over Hale.

She also remembers Trick’s little bit of wisdom.

It doesn’t take her long to put two and two together, but in the end she does feel a bit like a moron. “Hale, you’d better still be here!” she shouts.

She doesn’t get a response for long enough that she’s starting to look for her cell, when Hale knocks at her partially open door. “Hey,” he says with a sober look on his face.

“How could you do that?” Kenzi says with her best cold glare.

“I’m sorry, Kenzi. It just… You’re so... good. About everything. You’re always there, fighting the fight and not asking for anything in return. Fae treat you like shit, and people treat you like shit, and... I just figured it was about time someone was there for you.”

Kenzi doesn’t say anything to him, just lets him squirm.

Hale looks at her for a minute with something like hope in his eyes, and then he shakes his head to himself, mutters under his breath, “Don’t know what I was thinking.” He looks at her again, and says, “Sorry. I obviously misjudged the situation. Don’t worry. I can show myself out.”

“What precisely do you think you’re doing?” Kenzi says as Hale makes to shut the door.

“Clearing out. I’ll stay out of your hair for a while. Just... Call. If you need anything.” Hale, again, makes to shut the door.

“Just wait one second,” Kenzi says, straightening herself until she’s as haughty as she can make herself in last night's bar clothes and smudged makeup. “Don’t think you’re getting out of this that easily.”

Hale sighs and knocks his head against the door once, gently. “Fine. Of course. What else. Do you want me to stay away from the Dal? I can probably manage that. But I can’t give you Dyson. He’s still my partner, and—“

Kenzi cuts him off before he gets truly pathetic. “Just where is my breakfast?”

Hale looks at her in confusion.

“Well?” Kenzi says. “I’m waiting…”

“You—“ Hale swallows. Then he starts smiling. It hits his eyes first; they shine at her full of unsaid words and undone deeds. “Don’t know what I was thinking. That’ll be right up.”

“And the coffee.”

“As if I’d forget the coffee.” His lips turn up at the corners full of a wealth of laughter and future happiness.

“And the shoes. I’m expecting something truly exceptional. After all, you do have relatively good taste,” Kenzi feels her own smile grow too big. She doesn’t even try to tamp it down.

Relatively?” Hale says with an arched eyebrow.

"Relatively in comparison with me." Kenzi smirks at him. “And the—*cough*cough*” Kenzi says.

“Oh definitely the— *cough*cough*”. Hale’s smile has turned a little wicked. “I don’t suppose I’d get to see the— *cough*cough*… Maybe in a little different location. You know the difference environment makes for— *cough*cough*”

“If you play your cards right,” Kenzi says, her own smile turning wicked.

“Oh you know me and cards. I’m one for laying them out. Right. Now.” He walks slowly toward her.

“Well, Mister, if said cards include a brand new shiny vehicle, there may be a preview coming soon to a theatre near you,” Kenzi says, pushing herself forward until she’s crawling to meet him.

“Oh there’s a car,” Hale says, going down on his knees. “There may even be a boat.”

“Now you’re speaking my language,” Kenzi says, stealing his hat. She tilts it down over one eye. “What do you think?”

“It looks better on you. Definitely looks better on you.” He tilts her head, pecks her once, twice. He takes the hat and throws it across the room.

“Hey!” she says, tugging him by his tie.

“Looks even better on the floor,” he says. His hands slip down until he’s holding her face in both hands, and then he kisses her soft and sweet.

It’s Kenzi who turns the kiss filthy.

“Oh, Little Mama.”

*

The Christmas Elf watches in disgust. “Why can’t people give appreciation where it's due? Why does someone else always sneak in and steal the glory? When will the little people finally get their day?”

He leaves the ribbed condoms down by the rest of the gifts. If they want to get on with things, they’ll have to do it on his terms. After all, it's not Siren Day. It's the twelve days of Christmas, baby.