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The True Spirit Of Christmas?

Frank combed his fingers through his hair, tugging at the knots and trying to get it into some sort of shape that resembled hair. There was a kid standing next to him of an unknown sex thanks to the impossibly huge bobble hate pulled down over his, or possibly her, head. It had a slightly awed look on it's face.

"Are you an elf?" It asked breathlessly.

Frank blew a stream of smoke towards the ceiling, catching his boss' disapproving eye. "Yeah." Frank said past his cigarette. He pulled his elf hat over his tangle of hair- and he was never going to one of Wentz' parties ever again- and regarded the child suspiciously. He wondered if it was sticky, children generallly were.

"Didn't your mummy ever tell you about talking to strangers?" Frank asked. The kid thought deeply about this for a moment.

"D'you know Santa?"

"Yup." The kid was holding one of those maniacally grinning horses, the bright pink kind with suns on it's arse. In Frank's opinion, horses should not grin. They looked like they were up to something. Frank realised he should probably stop talking to this kid in the shadowy smoking corner.

His eyes scanned the crowd for a worried parent, or a pedophile alert squad, but he didn't notice anything out of sorts. Some kid somewhere was crying, and all the other keener, not hungover elves were beaming around in a rather strained way at the equally strained parents. Santa's Grotto looked overly glittery and peppy,  the sleigh was covered in shrieking children, and one boy looked like he was in danger of stabbing his mother in the ear with the wooden sword he was flailing around. Everything was normal, just another day in hell.

He turned to his bobble hatted companion. He, or more likely she, was galloping the menacingly pink horse along Frank's arm. Frank stepped away carefully. If there was one thing he hated more than children, it was crying children.

You're probably wonderng why Frank was doing such a child heavy job then, and really, it was because he got sacked from his last job at the bar because he might've beaten up some guy who had said something about his mother. Frank had seen that guy a few days ago and his nose still looked like a particularly worried mole rat. And anyway, Christmas is damn expensive, it was better to have a shitty job than no job at all.

"Where's your mummy?" He asked, tapping some ash into the nearest cheery plant. Frank hated cheery.

"I don't have a mummy." The kid said reproachfully. Frank made a hissing sound between his teeth. Way to go, Frank, he thought, the kid's probably going to shove that horse into your neck and start crying. Frank had seen that many times, often with different creatures and different orifices. His favourite was a shark in the eyeball of a very enthusiastic elf a couple of days ago. Santa's grotto was many things, but uneventful it was not. "But my daddy's buying comic books. He said I should keep you company."

Frank was speechless for a moment. What kind of parent would send their kid towards Frank? Frank had made sure that parents would never bother him with their children. He fumbled for the annoyingly pointy red collar, and it had bells on it, for christ's sake, to make sure his scorpion tattoo was visible. It was. Frank questioned the sanity of the bobble hat's father.

"What's he called?"

Frank met the eyes of his companion, who was pointing at his tattoo with brow crinkling seriousness on it's half obscured face. He or she was also pointing with the horse, Frank noticed. It was a unicorn, which, translated into Frank, was a horse that came to a point. Nothing special. And should horses really have glitter around their noses? It looked like a drug abuser, which would explain the grin at least.

"It doesn't have a name."

"Can I call him Mark?"

"Go ahead." Frank said, looking intently at the Christmas tree next to him. His boss kept on trying to catch his eye, and he looked frighteningly close to looming, and Frank didn't want that. He gave him a 'one minute' gesture with his cigarette  before turning to look in the direction of the nearest comic book shop. From here he could see it was pretty empty, comic book nerds obviously didn't get up early for their fix, and apart from the bored cashier there were only two people in the shop. He wondered which one of them was the kid's dad. He hoped it was the one in the rather smart peacoat and the many scarves, and not the one with the mullet and the 'gamers do it better' shirt, which was strangely depressing.

"What's your name, kid?" Frank asked. The bobble hat straightened up. Frank was impressed, it almost came up to his knee.

"My name's Ellie Way."

Frank nodded. He would have been worried if his bobble companion turned out to be a boy with a My Manic Pony obsession.

"I'm six."

"Oh really." Frank stubbed out his cigarette in the cheery plant pot and considered lighting a new one.

"My daddy smokes those, but not around me."

"He sounds like a saint."

Frank had his eye on the peacoat and scarves guy. He was paying for a comic book. Frank prayed that he was Ellie's dad, he didn't think he could spend another minute with her without making some kind of child faux pas. It happened quite regularly. Frank had the scars to prove it. Also, note to all toymakers: you're making Barbies hands too sharp.

And hurrah! Peacoat guy was walking briskly towards the, and hello there hot guy. Frank straightened up, suddenly very interested. Black hair, wide cheekbones, big eyes. A nice body too, solid and wide shouldered. All wrapped up in a nice black coat a too many scarves. He held out a hand and smiled. Frank likes his teeth, all small and pointy.

"I really hope she didn't bother you too much, but you looked decent enough and she doesn't like comic books." He said in a strangely pleasant nasal voice. Frank wasn't sure which part of him was decent, but whatever. Maybe the hat.

Frank shook his hand, finding it held firmly and flipped upside down. The guy was examining his tattoos with interest. "What's the significance of Halloween? I'm Gerard by the way. Nice tights."

"It's my birthday. I'm Frank." Frank said in a slightly dazed voice.

"Frankie Iero, smiley vampire face, the word fuck."

"Pardon?" Frank said. He was a little confused. If that was an apt enough word. It wasn't really, but Frank wasn't sure whether 'juhfwiufbh4gh3' could come up in a regular English dictionary.

"That's what it says on your name tag." Gerard said matter-of-factly. Frank wasn't sure, but he was maybe in love. "Ellie seems to have taken a liking to you."

She was galloping that horrible pony up his leg now, making soft clicking noises. Frank wasn't all that comfortable with that horse being so close to his crotch.

"Please tell me you didn't buy her that horse." Frank said, because if he didn't he might have done something he would've regretted. Like blow Gerard in front of his daughter. Or something.

"Unfortunately, I did. It haunts my dreams, but she likes it, so." He shrugged. "I don't like the way it grins."

"It's planning something!" Frank burst out before he could stop himself, then felt silly.

"Exactly!" Gerard said, eyes wide.

Right now, there were a couple of thoughts running around Frank's head, occasionally colliding only to pick themselves up, make an inappropriate hand gesture at the other, and continue on. One was 'Jesus Christ, that horse is galloping a little too close to my dick', and the other, louder and more urgent than the first was 'PLEASEBESINGLEPLEASEBESINGLE'. Of course, as there always is, a random thought of 'Good god, The Smashing Pumpkins are so damned good', bumbled around amiably.

"I think we should stage an operation to uncover it's evil plans." Frank supplied. What? It was that or screaming 'are you single?!' at the top of his lungs in a busy shopping centre. This was supposing he was gay, anyway.

"Maybe we could have a sleepover and draw up plans for it's demise." Gerard glanced towards Ellie, who had one hand splayed against the back of Frank's knee and the other walked the horse along the ground. "Ellie, why don't you join the line to see Santa? I'll be along in a minute." Gerard said, eyes trained on Frank's neck. He was looking at Frank's tattoo. Frank swallowed nervously.

"'kay." She said amiably, pushing herself to her feet and walking off. She didn't even look back. Frank reckoned she'd be one of those hardass girls when she grew up.

"So." He said awkwardly.

"I really want to kiss you." Gerard said quietly.

Frank almost fell over. He really did. He had to lean against the wall to gain his balance, and suddenly Gerard's smartly coated body was pressing against his. He kissed Frank's neck, his tattoo, then his jaw, then very quickly and carefully, his lips. It was little more than a peck, and Gerard moved back, eyes all over Frank's face. Frank wasn't having any of that, and pulled him by his hips- round, solid hips oh my god curvycurvycurvy -back to his body. It wasn't passionate, or anything hardcore, but some tiny part of Frank's brain was screaming BONERBONERBONER at the top of it's worried voice. He pushed Gerard away, who was a little pink in the face. It was probably the amount of scarves which was making hot, and really, was that amount necessary?

"I like your lip ring." Gerard said after a moment of silence which Frank was using to catch his breath.

"I've been told it feels nice when I kiss people." Frank said quickly. Gerard looked rather dazed.

"You know what, I like your tattoos and your ability to have that pony so near your crotch. We should continue this...conversation later." He said carefully. "But now I must go get my daughter, I'm afraid she'll expose the Santa guy in front of all the other kiddies. She does it every year." He pulled a pen from one of his many pockets, and tugged Frank's motionless arm towards him. It took all his restraint, but Frank didn't punch the air or whoop. He did jingle a little it though, which was a little embarassing. Gerard laughed and tucked his pen away.

Five minutes later Frank was standing next to the other elves, feeling a lot less hungover and Grinchy. A child was poking him relentlessly in the back and sniggering. Despite the child, Frank was walking on air.

Though he did come down long enough to threaten the kid with violence. His mum looked affronted, but Frank was too happy to care.

Okay, fine, maybe telling the kid that Santa didn't believe in him so he got no presents was a little harsh, but Frank didn't agree with things like careful parenting.

And besides, he had a date.

Merry Christmas to him.


patrick stump
Chuck Fucking Norris

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