Ryan & Michelle - The Good ElfbyChiara23©
As usual this story is my property and may not be republished or redistributed without my express permission. This story is a work of fiction, any resemblance to people living or dead is a coincidence.
Ryan loved Christmas, it was his favorite time of year. All the hustle and bustle, kids bursting with excitement and parents trying to keep up with them. That's probably why he'd worked as one of Santa's Elves since he was sixteen, and had continued doing it for the past ten years. He loved it so much that he always took his vacation in the two weeks before Christmas just so he could be an elf.
He was probably the only male elf around and his friends all gave him a hard time about it. He didn't care though, he got to work with cute girls and check out some hot moms. The only downside was the long hours, and his tights itched like crazy.
This would be his first Christmas alone since his grandmother had died. She had raised him from the time he'd been a toddler, when his parents left him at her door and took off. He didn't feel sorry for himself though, his granny had more than enough love for him.
With Christmas eve being on a Friday the mall was absolute pandemonium with people racing around doing last minute shopping. Ryan was snapping photos like a madman he was so busy.
Near the end of the day it started to slow down a bit and Ryan was chatting with Tania and Felicia the other elves. They hadn't had any customers for a bit when Ryan saw a pretty young woman leading two boys down the main hall. The kids looked to be about eight and ten from what he could judge. The girl looked way too young to be their mom.
"Picture with Santa miss?" Ryan asked hopefully.
The girl looked at Ryan and shook her head, "No, no thanks."
Ryan had an idea and called out to her, "Last picture's on the house miss!"
Tania and Felicia looked at him and he gave them a little nod. The girl slowed and the kids looked at her hopefully.
She gave the kids a smile and looked up at Ryan, "Thanks, this means a lot to the boys."
"No problem, come on up guys! Santa needs to head back to the North Pole soon and get everything ready for tonight!"
The boys scampered over to Santa and got on his knees, both whispering their wishes in his ears. Santa ho, ho, ho'd and gave the boys a candy cane each.
"Your little brothers give you much trouble?" Ryan asked softly while they waited for the kids to finish.
The girl jumped a bit and looked surprised. "Huh? Oh no, they're my nephews."
"Giving their mom and dad a break so they can wrap presents then?" he asked.
The girl gave Ryan a sad look, "No, their parents died two years ago. They live with me now."
"Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to..."
"No, it's okay. It's been tight but we manage."
Ryan got behind the camera and took a picture of the boys then told their Aunt to get in with them for a second one. "Okay every one smile!"
Ryan took their picture and the girl came up to him, "Listen..."
"Ryan," he told her.
"Ryan I can't afford to get both pictures. I'm just hoping I got them what they wanted this year."
"Look Michelle, they're on me okay? Our printer's been acting up so can you come back in about a half hour?" Ryan lied.
"How do you know my name?" she asked a bit surprised.
Ryan chuckled and touched the side of his nose as he grinned, "Christmas magic, that and I heard your nephew call you Aunt Michelle."
Michelle laughed and grinned back at Ryan, "So that's how Santa does it, spies everywhere!"
"Now you know my secret. A half hour okay?"
Michelle smiled again, "See you then Ryan."
When they left Felicia waved Ryan over, "What the heck was that about? The printer's fine."
"Well my little Elf-girl sometimes Santa works in mysterious ways. Just get everything ready okay?"
Ryan went and had a quiet talk with Santa for a few minutes.
"Hey girls cover for me. I have a few things I need to pick up before everything shuts down." Ryan called out as he bolted away.
Twenty minutes later he got back with several shopping bags and tucked them under the counter.
"So what's this all about Ryan?" Tania asked with a smirk.
"I'm just making sure that Santa doesn't miss anyone," Ryan said with a slight blush.
Felicia giggled, "Let me guess, that pretty girl with the two boys?"
"Yeah, call me a sap but I just can't see kids disappointed at Christmas."
Tania patted Ryan's cheek and laughed, "God you are such a sweetie Ryan! If I didn't already have a boyfriend I'd snap you up!"
"Tell me about it," Felicia said. "My boyfriend's great but I don't think he'd do something like that for a total stranger."
Ryan's ears burned as he blushed deeply, "My grandmother always told me that Christmas was more about giving joy and sharing with others. We always had an extra body or two at the table on Christmas day."
A few minutes later Michelle and her nephews showed up. "Hi Ryan. Thanks for everything, I really appreciate what you've done for the boys today."
"Don't worry about it Michelle, it was my pleasure." Ryan said as he handed Michelle her photos.
"Thanks again," Michelle said with a smile as she turned and left with the boys.
Ryan watched them walk away and hesitated for a moment, unsure if he should do what he was thinking about.
"Hey Michelle hold on a sec," he called after her. Ryan quickly wrote his address and phone number on a card and ran over to her.
Michelle turned and waited for Ryan to catch up to her. "Yes Ryan?"
"Listen, I don't want you to think I'm some sort of weird psycho stalker, but I have a turkey and home made pies that my grandmother made before she died last month. There's no way I could eat all that food by myself. Here's my address and phone number, the food's getting cooked no matter what, but I'd really like some company if you're interested."
Michelle's brow furrowed, "I don't want your charity or guilty sympathy. The boys and I will be fine."
"No, it's nothing like that. It's just, well I don't have any family close by and Christmas was always a big deal for my grandmother and I. We always had a few friends over, but this is my first year without her. Tell you what, just call and let me know either way. If you decide to come you can bring mashed potatoes, or even just make them up when you come over. Mine are always lumpy." Ryan said with a shy smile.
Michelle smiled back and said, "I'll call you later Ryan, and thanks."
"Aunt Michelle? Are we going to go to Ryan's for dinner tomorrow?" her younger nephew Patrick asked.
Michelle smiled at him, "Maybe sweetie. We don't really know him, but it was very kind of him to offer."
"Well it would be way better than fried bologna and Mac and Cheese." snorted his older brother Andrew.
Michelle smiled sadly at Andrew, "I'm sorry buddy but we had to be a little tighter so I could get you some gifts. Maybe next year it will be better okay?"
"I know Aunt Michelle, it's just that...I wish, well..." Andrew said as he started to cry.
"I do too honey," Michelle said as she hugged both boys close. "I know it's been hard for you boys, I promise you that no matter what I'll always be here for you okay?"
The past two years had been a bit of a struggle financially for Michelle. Sure her sister and brother-in-law had had life insurance, but his family had fought tooth and nail for custody of the boys. She had been executor of their wills and had dug in her heels relentlessly. Marie and Paul had wanted her to have custody and that's the way it stood. Sadly for Patrick and Andrew, Paul's family had turned their backs on them.
Michelle had decided that most of the money from their life insurance went straight into a college fund for the boys. She had been in college when her sister and brother-in-law had died, and Michelle ended up quitting school to make sure she was there for the boys. She had a day job working in an office now, and was continuing her college through online courses, many times staying up all night studying just to keep up.
She knew that Pat and Andy deserved a lot more than she could give them, but she always gave them every ounce of love she had. Michelle often cried herself to sleep out of frustration. Suddenly becoming a mom at twenty-two had been a big shock for her.
When they got to her car Michelle went to start it and it made one click and died. She tried again and it only clicked again. Michelle hammered on the steering wheel in frustration. "Damn-it, damn, shit!" she yelled.
"Stay in the car boys," Michelle said as she popped the hood latch and got out to see if she could find the problem. She checked to make sure the battery connections were okay, and looked at a few other obvious quick fixes but everything looked okay.
Michelle pulled her head out from under the hood and looked around. 'Just my luck, no one around for a boost. It's probably the effing starter anyway' she thought to herself, knowing that it had been acting up for a while.
"Hey, having car trouble?"
Michelle looked around and saw a car stop in front of her's. "Yeah, either my battery's dead or my starter's fucked."
The guy did a quick spin around of his car so the cars were nose to nose, then hopped out and grabbed some booster cables from his trunk. When he came back around to the front of the cars he laughed, "Hi Michelle! We've got to stop meeting like this or people will start to talk!"
"Ryan? What are you doing here?" she chuckled.
"Well I saw you pop your hood so I thought I'd come over and see if I could help. I didn't expect to see you here though."
"I'm glad you stopped to help Ryan."
"No problem," Ryan said as he connected the cables. "Try it now Michelle."
Michelle got back into her car and turned the key again only to hear a single click. She hit the steering wheel again and tried to hold back her tears.
"Let's give the battery a chance to warm up and get a charge. Why don't you and the boys hop into my car to stay warm while I fiddle with a few things."
Michelle bundled Patrick and Andrew into Ryan's back seat and climbed into the passenger seat. Ryan checked to make sure the cables had a solid connection, and crawled under the car and whacked the starter a few times with a wrench.
Ryan got into Michelle's car and tried to start it. It clicked a few times then died again. He got out and unhooked the cables then dropped the hoods and walked over to his car and got in. "I think it's your starter Michelle, sorry but I think your car's spending Christmas at the mall."
"Crap! I hate to be a bother Ryan but could you give us a lift home? We're not that far..."
"Sure Michelle, but only if you grab what you need to spend the night, and come to my place with me. I've got lots of room and could use the help trimming my tree."
Michelle hesitated, "Well I'd hate to impose, you've already been a huge help Ryan."
Ryan grinned at Michelle with a twinkle in his eye, "It's settled then, my place for Christmas, right guys? We'll play some Christmas music, drink egg nog and hot chocolate, trim the tree and put cookies out for Santa!"
The boys cheered from the back seat and Michelle shook her head in resignation. She guided Ryan to their apartment and asked him to wait while she and the boys got what they needed.
They returned shortly with a couple of backpacks and a bag with some wrapped gifts in it.
"We'll have to put your stuff in the back seat with the boys Michelle, my trunk is full right now."
When everyone was strapped in Ryan looked over his shoulder, "So Patrick and Andrew, are you ready to have a blast?"
"Hey! How do you know our names?" Patrick asked.
Ryan touched the side of his nose and grinned at Michelle. "I'm one of Santa's elves, I have Christmas magic!"
Ryan ushered Michelle and the kids into his house and flipped some lights on. Everywhere they looked there were decorations, little statues of Santa, a tiny lit village with moving skaters on a pond. Ribbons and garlands and all sorts of decorations of every type.
"Whoa!" "This is totally awesome!" The boys said in awe of the Christmas display Ryan had set up.
"Go ahead boys, check it all out!" Ryan said.
"Just don't break anything!" Michelle called after them.
"Don't worry Michelle, everything here is for kids."
"Are you sure Ryan? It all looks so fragile."
"I'm sure, there's nothing here that can't be replaced. Here, let me show you where you guys will be sleeping."
Ryan led Michelle upstairs and pointed out two bedrooms. "The bathroom's over there to the left and that's my room there."
"Thanks so much Ryan, you've really gone above and beyond today. I haven't see the boys this excited and happy since before their mom and dad died."
Ryan looked into Michelle's eyes and blushed slightly, "I'm glad I was able to do this then. It's all about the kids anyway isn't it?"
Just then Ryan's stomach growled and he laughed, "Well I think my stomach is telling me that the bagel I had this morning is lonely. We should probably get some food into Andy and Pat too. Little boys are always hungry if I remember correctly."
Between the two of them Michelle and Ryan got a quick dinner together. Once dinner was done Patrick and Andrew helped bring in the tree that Ryan had purchased a few days before. Once it was up they all stepped back for a look.
"Wow Ryan! We never had a real tree before." Patrick said, grinning from ear to ear.
"The cool thing about having a real tree, is that by tomorrow morning the whole house will smell like a forest." Ryan said as he smiled at Patrick.
Ryan opened the boxes full of decorations and the four of them began decorating the tree while Christmas music and laughter filled the house.
"Okay now we just have to put the angel on top guys, who wants to do it this time?" Ryan said, not even realizing what he'd said.
The boys started arguing over who should put up the angel when Michelle stepped in, "Guys you can take turns, Patrick you get to do it now okay?"
Patrick and Andrew stopped arguing and shared a look, both just getting what Ryan and Michelle had said.
"Go ahead Patrick, you can put the angel up. I don't mind waiting." Andrew said with a grin.
Ryan picked Patrick up so he could put the angel on top of the tree.
"There we go!" Ryan said with a smile, "Now we just have to put the presents under the tree, and get some cookies and milk for Santa then it's time for bed!"
"Aw Ryan! We're not tired yet!" Andy and Pat moaned.
"Tell you what, get the presents, and stuff for Santa and you can stay up and extra fifteen minutes okay?" Michelle said as she laughed.
Patrick and Andrew ran to get the presents and treats for Santa.
There weren't many gifts to put under the tree but both boys were excited just the same. The extra fifteen minutes got stretched out to a half hour but they went to bed with no argument.
After the boys were down for the night, Michelle and Ryan pulled out the gifts from Santa and put them under the tree as well.
"Why are you doing all of this for us? I don't mean to sound ungrateful or anything, but why us?" Michelle asked quietly.
Ryan chuckled, "To be honest I don't really know. When I saw you and the boys a little voice in my head said I should talk to you. After my grandmother died it's been pretty lonely for me here, Christmas was always a big thing for us."
"I never would have guessed Ryan," Michelle laughed. "Mind you all the Christmas doodads were a bit of a clue."
Ryan looked at the clock and grinned at Michelle, "We should be able to catch the last half of 'White Christmas' if you like Michelle."
"Sure Ryan, I'll top up our egg nog."
Egg nog ready, they sat and watched the movie. Neither one realized it but as the movie progressed they slowly inched closer together until Michelle was cuddling under Ryan's arm. Both of them were having similar thoughts about the other, wondering what they thought of each other, and thinking about how things sometimes just happened for no apparent reason.
When the credits rolled they looked at each other and smiled. Ryan leaned down until their lips brushed lightly. Michelle touched his cheek and gave him a dreamy look. Their lips met again, but with a bit of heat this time. Michelle and Ryan's tongues danced for a few moments, and intertwined together as their passion kicked up another notch.
Michelle broke their kiss, blushing and laughing. "Whoa, hey where'd that come from?"
"Oh! Uhm yeah. Sorry about that Michelle." Ryan stammered, embarrassed and blushing as well.
"Don't apologize," Michelle said as she smiled at him. "You weren't alone in that kiss Ryan, I'm pretty sure my tongue was in your mouth just as much as yours was in mine. I was more surprised than anything else. It's just that since I got the boys I haven't really had time for myself."
"I know what you mean Michelle, when my grandmother had her stroke last year it was pretty bad. I moved back home to help her out. I had a nurse come during the day and I helped her at night."
"Looks like we've both had to put our own needs aside for the people we love Ryan."
"Yeah, I think so. But maybe we should take it a bit slower? Not that I didn't enjoy that kiss, because I did. I think maybe we should get to know each other a bit more that's all."
"But not too slow okay?" Michelle giggled as she playfully nipped his lower lip with her teeth.
"Okay, not too slow Michelle. In the meantime I think we should get to bed. Something tells me those boys will be up at the crack of dawn looking for presents."
Michelle looked at the small pile of presents under the tree with a sad look, "I just wish I could've gotten them more stuff. They're good kids who got a raw deal. They deserve better than I can give them."
"Do you give them all the love you have Michelle?"
"Yes, every bit I have. Then I find a bit more for them." Michelle said as she wiped a tear from her eye.
"Then you've done everything a mother can do." Ryan said as he hugged her close and gave her a light kiss. "Go to bed sweetie, get a good nights sleep and worry about tomorrow when it comes. I've got a few things to do before I hit the sack. Sweet dreams Michelle, I'll see you in the morning."
"Goodnight Ryan, thanks for everything. See you in the morning." Michelle replied as she gave Ryan a brief kiss and hug.
Ryan waited for a while to make sure Michelle and the kids were all sound asleep, then went out to his car and grabbed the bags from the trunk. He spent the next hour wrapping and tagging gifts then stacking them in neat piles under the tree.
"He came! He came! Aunt Michelle he was here!"
Andrew and Patrick piled onto Michelle's bed and were bouncing with excitement.
Michelle sat up and gave both boys a hug. "Merry Christmas guys!"
"You should see all the presents Aunt Michelle! There's a big pile for each of us!" Patrick told her.
Ryan came to Michelle's door and leaned on the jam, grinning at Michelle's confusion. She looked at Ryan and tried to give him a nasty glare but failed, so she waved her fist at him instead.
Ryan laughed, "Okay guys let your Aunt get out of bed then we can go and open presents, but only after Aunt Michelle and I get our coffees."
Patrick and Andrew both groaned in frustration, eager to see what they'd gotten for Christmas. "But Ryan! That isn't fair, you let us see everything then you won't let us open it!"
Michelle laughed, "It's only a couple of extra minutes guys!"
Once the adults had their coffees they all went into the living room. Michelle was surprised to see three neatly stacked piles of presents in addition to the gifts they had put out the previous night.
Michelle leaned over and kissed Ryan on the cheek then whispered in his ear, "You didn't have to Ryan."