Cole follows a mall Santa and is surprised to find himself at the North Pole and dealing with the real thing.
T'was the day before Christmas and all through the mall, it was packed full of people making Cole feel lonely and small.
Cole was 13 years old, close to 14, though just a little small for his size. He had shaggy dark brown hair that was in need of a cut and well worn clothes that had passed down from several other owners before him. And at the moment, Corey was standing at the edge of a crowd, watching the display with the mall Santa.
As he slowly looked around, Cole frowned, feeling almost claustrophobic with all the people that surrounded him. He didn't particularly like coming to the mall that close to Christmas, but he knew that it was the only chance he had to get his Christmas presents bought.
"Gotcha," Cole whispered as he clutched the $5 bill tightly in his hand.
He'd only found it earlier that day and knew that he had to get to the dollar store if he was going to get anything. Of course, he knew that he couldn't buy much with that small of an amount, but at least he'd be able to buy something for a couple of the younger kids at the orphanage he was living at. He was a little satisfied that at least they would get something for Christmas, though he knew well that he probably wouldn't. He rarely did.
Cole frowned as he thought about the orphanage. It wasn't the nicest place to live, but at least it wasn't like some of the ones shown in the movies. However, it was very lonely, even with the other kids there. He wasn't very close to any of the others, but he did try to look after them a little. And though Cole had lived in the orphanage for several years, it was just the place he lived... nothing more.
With that, Cole looked back at the mall Santa, who had a little girl on his lap. Cole frowned, knowing what he would ask Santa for if he could... a home. A real home. He just reminded himself silently that it was too bad that he didn't really believe in Santa Claus anymore.
Still, as Cole watched the mall Santa for a minute more, he couldn't help but admit that this years Santa certainly looked a lot more real than usual. His suit didn't look nearly as cheap and Cole could almost swear that this one even had a real beard, though he was too far away to tell for certain.
Just then, Santa got up while one of the teenagers dressed as an elf hung up the 'Santa has gone to his workshop and will be back in 15 minutes' sign. A moment later, Santa went into a small building in the middle of the Christmas display with a sign on the door that said 'Santa's workshop'. A minute later, the crowd began to disperse some.
Cole remained where he was, staring at the door that Santa had gone through. It was such a small and poorly made looking shack that Cole couldn't imagine what Santa was doing in there. Feeling curious, he climbed into the Christmas display and started for the door, hesitating a moment as he stood in front of it.
"I think I'm gonna be in trouble," he muttered to himself.
And with that, Cole opened the door and froze, his eyes going wide. What he saw inside was NOT the tiny insides of a cardboard house... but something much bigger. He slowly stepped inside, barely aware of the door closing behind him. Instead, he looked around at the huge wooden room that was at least 5 times bigger than the whole Christmas display. There were workbenches all over the place, as well as tons of tools.
"Oh shit," Cole whispered in confusion, blinking several times to make sure that he wasn't just seeing things.
Then Cole noticed a window on one end and ran towards it, staring outside in amazement. There was snow out there... everywhere he looked. And then he noticed the deer who were out there as well, reindeer. He gasped, knowing that there was no way that this could possibly be in the mall.
"Where... where am I?" Cole asked aloud.
To his surprise, a man's voice answered from behind him, "The North Pole." Cole snapped around, startled to see the mall Santa standing there with his hands on his hips and a look of surprise on his face. "But how did you get here?"
"I... I came through the door," Cole answered quickly, gesturing to the door he'd just come through.
"I know that much, " Santa chuckled, making Cole relax a little, "But what I meant was that none can pass through that way unless they belong here..."
Cole just blinked as Santa came closer to him, looking more curious than angry. There was no longer any doubt that his beard was real, making him look every inch as though he were the real Santa. And from everything else, Cole was no longer sure that he was a fake.
"Are... are you the real Santa Claus?" Cole found himself asking.
"Ho ho ho," Santa chuckle, giving Cole a wink. "Of course I am. And you've somehow managed to stumble into my real workshop."
"But I just walked through a door," Cole gasped in surprise.
Santa just nodded, "It is magic of course. My sleigh may be traditional, but I find that this method is much preferable for delivering to houses without chimneys. Sadly, that's becoming the norm..." He sounded a little disappointed at that.
All Cole could do was nod at that, still staring at Santa in amazement. He hadn't even believed that Santa existed before this, or at least he thought he hadn't. Somehow, he suspected that he wouldn't have been able to get through the door if he hadn't first believed in Santa at some level.
"Come," Santa told him with a smile, "Let me show you around while I try to understand how you came here." He paused for a moment and muttered, "This is quite unprecedented."
Cole nodded again and followed behind Santa into the next room, gasping as he saw dozens of elves all over the place. They were all under 3 feet tall and dressed in unusual styles, and they were all throwing toys into a gaping black hole in the wall. The toys would vanish the moment they went through the hole.
"The other end of the hole leads through my sack," Santa explained with a smile. Cole knew that it was probably using the same sort of thing as that door he'd come through.
"Cool," Cole finally said.
A minute later, they went through several more doors and came into a huge barn that had a number of reindeer wandering about inside. However, the floors were all solid wood and Cole could see no sign of reindeer droppings anywhere.
"I still use them for some deliveries," Santa chuckled, "They need the exercise and I do get nostalgic."
It was then that Cole noticed something flying over one of the reindeer. Then he gasped to realize that it was a tiny glowing woman... with wings. Something glowing sort of sprinkled off of her and onto the reindeer, and a moment later it was floating several inches in the air. There were more of the pixies flying around overhead.
With a grin, Santa responded, "Peter Pan is not so much fiction as you might believe."
"I guess not," Cole squeaked out, wondering what else was real that he'd just thought were stories.
"Come," Santa grinned, gesturing for Cole to follow again.
Several minutes later, they were inside a huge library with Santa looking through a heavy leather-bound book. He kept glancing up at Cole then back down to the book, scratching at his beard as he did so.
"Only those who have strong reasons to be here should have been able to pass through that door," Santa explained after a minute, "But I have yet to find yours."
"I don't know," Cole responded apologetically. "I just felt like I had to come and look..."
Santa froze at that, and then responded thoughtfully, "I see..." At Cole's blank look, he explained, "It seems that you were called here."
"What?" Cole gasped. "But who... how? I mean, you're Santa Claus and if you didn't know..."
"I may know who's naughty and nice," Santa said with a grin before turning serious, "but I am far from knowing everything. I believe that it was a higher power that called you here for some reason. The one I answer to."
Cole just stared at Santa for a moment in confusion, definitely feeling out of his element. He didn't doubt that he could get back, though he was in no hurry to do so. He rather liked Santa Clause and was enjoying his visit to the North Pole. However, Santa seemed a little confused by Cole's presence so he couldn't help but be as well.
After a minute of silence, Santa sat down in a chair, staring at Cole intently. "I have a way to unveil your purpose," he said slowly. "To reveal that which is inside." Then Santa bent forward, staring at Cole even more intently than before, "But the truth is not always easy to swallow."
"Um... sure," Cole answered weakly. As he stared back at Santa, Cole knew that Santa wouldn't do anything to hurt him. He trusted the fat legend, even liking him. Then with more confidence, Cole said, "I'll do whatever you think I should."
"Good lad," Santa responded with a smile, patting Cole on the head and making him grin.
Then Santa gestured and one of the pixies that Cole hadn't noticed came rushing down from the ceiling and landed on Santa's shoulder. After Santa whispered something to it, the pixie darted off, almost faster than Cole could see.
"Wow," Cole gasped, grinning in appreciation. "This place is tight."
Santa just gave him a blank look, "Tight?"
"You know," Cole explained, "Sweet." Again Santa shook his head, so Corey sighed, "Cool, awesome... groovy."
But before Santa could respond, one of the tiny elves came running into the library with a silver metal tray in his hands. He stopped and put the tray on the table in front of Santa and Cole, exclaiming, "Here ya go boss."
"Thank you Ergen," Santa nodded towards the elf, who bowed slightly then ran back out of the library.
Cole took a look down at the silver tray and was startled to see that the only thing on it was a gingerbread man. He looked at Santa, feeling a little confused. After all, he'd been under the impression that they were going to try figuring out how he'd gotten there, not have a snack. Not that Cole minded however as he was a little hungry and not in any hurry to get back to the mall... or the orphanage.
"The truth is not always easy to swallow," Santa explained with a wink as he gestured to the gingerbread man, "but we try to make it a little easier."
With a shrug, Cole picked up the gingerbread man and held it for a moment, hardly able to believe that this was anything more than a normal one. However, from the serious expression on Santa's face, he knew that it had to be anything but.
After taking his first bite, Cole grinned, "This is good..." He wasted no time in scarfing down the rest. It wasn't very often that he got to eat a treat like that and he savored every bit of it, magic or not.
Almost the moment that Cole had finished swallowing the last bite, he gasped in surprise as a strange warmth started to fill his body. That was quickly followed by a powerful tingling that ran over his skin, not painful or even unpleasant, just surprising.
"I feel funny," Cole squeaked out as he stood there.
"It will be all right," Santa assured him gently. "This will reveal your purpose, whatever that might be."
Suddenly Cole nearly collapsed as his muscles all spasmed, then his very flesh seemed to move and flow of it's own accord. All he could do was remain there as his body began to change, too stunned to even think clearly.
Cole felt a tickling on his shoulders, followed by a swelling on his chest and a pulling in his crotch. There were other changes as well, too many for him to count or even be aware of. In fact, it was as if every part of his body was changing, all at once. Even his clothes seemed to be shimmering and flowing, reshaping themselves to his altered body.
"Oh dear," Santa gasped with a look of surprise as he stared at Cole.
Once the changes seemed to stop, Cole blinked several times and then slowly looked down at himself, not sure what he was going to see. However, he felt oddly calm about it. After all, Santa had assured him that he would be all right and he knew that Santa Claus wouldn't lie to him.
As soon as Cole saw himself, he gasped in surprise. His clothes... his very body were altered. And though he had already known that, to see it with his own eyes and have it confirmed was something else entirely. Especially once he saw what it was that had happened to him.
It was instantly obvious that Cole's body had become that of a girl, and one who was beginning to take on a womanly shape, though still had a bit of developing to do. His... her chest pushed out into two breasts that were a large A cup or small B, and without having to reach down, Cole knew without a doubt that even his equipment down below had changed.
"Oh my," Cole whispered, the voice that came from his throat that of a girl.
Cole saw that his old clothes were gone, replaced by a red skirt that cut off above his knees and a red and white striped shirt that was pulled up enough to show a bit of his stomach. He was wearing a pair of red elf shoes and a thin black leather belt around his waist. And as he shook his head, he was aware that his hair was not only a lot longer than before... but pure white as well.
"I had no idea that it would do THIS to you," Santa gasped in surprise as he stared at Cole. "But I still don't understand why the powers would..."
For a moment, Cole just remained silent as he tried to absorb everything, though he was still very confused. Then he gasped, "My name is Noel." There was no doubt in his mind about that. "Noel Claus..."
Suddenly Cole, now Noel froze and stared at Santa in shock and amazement, while he stared back with a similar expression.
"What's this dear..." a woman's voice exclaimed from the side. Noel turned around and stared in amazement at an elderly woman with white hair pulled back into a bun. There was no doubt that this was the famous Mrs. Claus.
"Momma..." Noel squeaked out, surprising herself with that but feeling that it was true somehow.
Mrs. Claus gasped then hurried closer, her eyes darting from Santa to Noel and back. "Oh Santa," she gasped in delight, tears of joy beginning to pour down her cheeks as she nearly threw herself at Noel for a hug. "How did you know..."
"The powers that be sent him... her," Santa explained, still a little confused but quickly getting his balance.
"You know that I've always wished we could have children of our own," Mrs. Claus gushed, pulling away from Noel but remaining close. "And I have prayed that some day the powers that be would let us have a child of our own... That I could one day have my own daughter..." She stared in amazement at Noel.
Noel blinked, still somewhat uncertain but she couldn't help smiling at her momma, never having had one before and deciding that she was already enjoying it. Then she looked over at Santa... her new Daddy, feeling a little nervous, a little afraid...
"Oh dear," Santa whispered, beginning to smile broadly as he stared back at Noel, "To tell the truth, I had always wished for a child of our own as well... to spend time with during the rest of the year. But this... I never imagined that the powers would..."
"This is the best Christmas present ever," Mrs. Clause exclaimed in tears, once again throwing her arms around Noel.
Santa just stared at Noel for a moment, looking rather thoughtful but somewhat pleased as well. "Welcome to our family," Santa told Noel with tears threatening to come to his eyes, "That is... if you want to stay..." The tone in his voice indicated that he would like nothing more.
Noel was stunned as she stared at him, never having expected anything like this. Not the meeting with Santa, not being changed and least of all suddenly having a family. Tears welled up in her eyes and she started crying.
"Oh Daddy," Noel gushed, "there's nothing I want more." And in an instant, she'd thrown her arms around her new daddy for a hug, feeling happier than she'd ever imagined being. She finally had a home... she finally had a family. "This is the best Christmas present ever," Noel whispered joyfully.
A minute later, Santa gently pulled himself away from his new daughter, grinning broadly. Then he looked over at Mrs. Claus before telling Noel, I wish that we could continue this, but it is the night before Christmas and it's time to start my rounds."
Noel nodded, stepping beside Mrs. Claus and watching as Santa slowly started for the door. "Be careful," she warned him, feeling a little disappointed.
Just then, Santa turned around and gave Noel a wink, "Well," Santa asked cheerfully, "Aren't you coming? You're going to have to learn the family business after all..."
"Really?" Noel gasped in delight, glancing over at Mrs. Claus.
"Go on dear," Mrs. Claus chuckled, "We can get better acquainted when you get back."
Without needing any further encouragement, Noel ran to Santa, a big grin on her face. She couldn't believe that she was actually going to help Santa... her daddy deliver Christmas presents. Then she thought of something else and grew a little more sober.
"What about the kids at my old orphanage?" Noel asked, remembering that she'd forgotten to pick up the presents from the dollar store.
"Don't worry honey," Santa assured her gently, "We'll stop by and make sure that those children get a very special Christmas."
Noel just smiled at that, feeling even better, though she hadn't though that possible. Then again, she hadn't ever thought it was possible to suddenly get turned into a girl...and not really mind. That was a tiny price to pay for what she'd gained in return. She'd gained a new family, and oh so much more. It really was the best Christmas for her ever, and she suspected that it would only get better. Yes, she was finally home for Christmas.
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