Title: A Kind of Christmas Carol
Pairing: Nick and Greg
Disclaimer: Characters belong to CBS and Mr Charles Dickens. I make no money from this.
Summary: Nick gets a chance to change his life, before it's too late. Beta'd by my Christmas Star anmani and banner and icon by Christmas Cracker bflyw.
Nick tossed and turned under sheets damp with his sweat, trapped in the dark world between sleeping and waking. A soft swooshing sound filled the room, bringing him to full consciousness and he opened one eye and glanced around nervously, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. He sighed with relief and closed the eye again, snuggling further under the cover.
Suddenly a light so bright that he could see it even through his closed eyelids filled the room. He squinted against the blinding light, one hand automatically shielding his eyes.
“Who’s there?” he called out. The light swirled around in a decreasing circle until it revealed the shape of a woman. The light dimmed until she was surrounded by a soft glow, as if she was illuminated from the inside.
The face looked familiar to him. “Wendy?” he stammered.
The woman smiled and shook her head. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.” Her voice was tinkling and light, like bells ringing in the distance.
“Yeah, well, you look a lot like my friend Wendy. Is this some sort of joke?” Nick fumed. “How did you get into my house?”
“I come for your welfare.” she smiled, holding out her hand.
“Don’t you think a good night’s sleep would be better for my welfare?” Nick grumbled, pulling the covers tighter around himself.
“Your reclamation, then. Take heed!'' She touched his face with her hand, and Nick felt a surge of energy flow through his body. He rose from the bed and stood next to her, and she smiled. A blast of icy wind tore past him but disturbed nothing else in the room. Images flew past him, fleeting glimpses through time, but not vivid enough to grasp hold of. He closed his eyes in fright and when he opened them again he was in a large living room, a brightly lit Christmas tree in the corner with presents spilling out from beneath it. Several children were rummaging in the present pile, trying to find those with their name on it. The image was all too familiar.
A woman walked into the room with a tray of cookies and set them on the table. The children rushed to grab them, the tray emptied in seconds leaving nothing but a few crumbs.
“Mom?” Nick said quietly “Mom?” he said again, louder this time. Then he realised he was still dressed in his boxers and T-Shirt, and tried to cover himself up, flushing with embarrassment.
“These are merely shadows of the past.” the spirit smiled. “They can neither see nor hear you.”
Jillian Stokes sighed at the sight of the empty tray. “You didn’t leave any for Nick.” she scolded. “Where is he anyway? Nicholas?” she called out.
A little boy, aged around five, came tumbling into the living room. Nick recognised the boy as his younger self.
“Cookies!” he cried out, jumping up at the table.
“Sorry sweetheart, you missed them.” His mom picked up the tray and brought it back to the kitchen. “Perhaps one of your sisters has one left.” she called over her shoulder.
Little Nick turned to his older sisters in time to see them cramming the last of the cookies into their mouths. Adult Nick shook his head and sighed. He remembered this day.
“Can I open my present now?” little Nick asked. His eldest sister Harriet pulled a small package from under the tree.
“This one’s yours Nicky.” she smiled.
Little Nick tore off the brightly colored paper to reveal a plastic fire-truck. “Neenaw neenaw!” he cried excitedly, driving the truck across the carpet. After a couple of minutes playing with it, one of the wheels jammed. He pushed harder and the wheel popped off.
His older brother Michael ran over and stuck the wheel back on the axle for him. “It always does that. When I got it two years ago it was already broken.” he said, before clapping his hand over his mouth, his eyes widening in fear.
“Michael, that was a secret!” his other sister Beth yelled.
“What do you mean, Santa only brought it last night.” little Nick asked in wonder.
“Santa didn’t bring it.” Harriet said smugly, going through her pre-teen rebellion phase. “He doesn’t exist. It‘s one of Michael‘s old toys.”
She got up off her knees and started doing a little dance, singing “There’s no such thing as Santa, there’s no such thing as Santa.”
“Harriet Stokes, you get in here this minute!” Jillian yelled from the doorway. Little Nick started to cry, the fire-truck forgotten.
Adult Nick turned away, his arms hugging his body. “I often got hand-me-downs.” he explained. “My parents made good money, but with seven kids there was never much to spare. I understood that.”
“Let us see another Christmas in this place.” the spirit said gently, touching Nick on the arm.
“I don’t want to.” Nick shook his head.
The same cold breeze overtook him, and he closed his eyes against it. When he opened them again he was standing in his old bedroom. The nine year old version of himself was tucked up in bed, wearing his favourite Spiderman pyjamas. His Mom had never known why he’d thrown those pyjamas in the fire one night.
Nick felt bile rise in his throat as a soft tap came to the door. He knew exactly which Christmas this was.
“Come in.” young Nick called out. The door opened to reveal a blonde girl in her late teens standing there.
“You should be sleeping.” she cooed. “Santa doesn’t come to little boys who aren’t sleeping.”
“Only little kids believe in Santa.” the young boy laughed. “I’m too old for that.”
“Oh, so you’re a big boy?” she smiled. “Well OK then. How about we play a game so you can show me what a big boy you are?”
“I like games.” young Nick nodded as the girl walked slowly towards the bed unbuttoning her blouse.
“Why do you show me this?” Nick cried out, squeezing his eyes shut to block out what he knew was going to happen next. “Are you that sadistic?”
“These are the shadows of the things that have been.” the spirit shook her head. “That they are what they are, do not blame me.”
“Leave me alone!” Nick screamed, trying to push the spirit away. He tumbled forward and landed on his own bed. The room was silent around him, his own room. He just made it to the bathroom in time to throw up into the toilet, wave after wave of bitter vomit. He flushed the mess away and staggered back to bed.