Summary: A Total Drama fanfic. After accidentally putting Kris Kringle in traction, Cody is charged with delivering all the remaining presents in Canada! Fortunately, another accident lands him some help part-way through his run. Cody/Gwen, some Duncan/Gwen.
(Somewhere near the Ontario-Manitoba border)
The next few million deliveries passed in a blur of activity. The job seemed to go much faster now that the three of them were working together, and as the hours passed without changing they slowly made their way in a north-and-south wave, heading ever westward across the country. At times they were incredibly busy, like when they flew over cities and towns, but during long stretches of northern countryside they had time to just pause, talk and enjoy the scenery.
Cody was finally starting to enjoy himselfthe work was still long and exhausting, but passing the time with Gwen (oh, and Kevin) couldn't help but make him grin like a little kid. Even as they went to home after home after home he never seemed to lose the energy and enthusiasm he had just from the two of them being together (er, three of them). They joked and teased and set up gifts and ate cookies (even Cody, eventually) and in the longer rides between houses had long, rambling conservations about nothing or sang Christmas songs at the top of their lungs.
...Well, that last one was mostly Cody, actually.
"OHHH, you better watch out, you better not cry,/You better not pout, I'm telling you why"
"GAH, make him stop!"
"Cody Claus is com-ing to TOOOWWWN!"
Cody threw back his head and extended one arm dramatically, keeping his other hand firmly on Prancer's reins. Gwen and Kevin, meanwhile, were grimacing, only now removing their hands from their ears.
"Man, it's like watching that stupid season all over again."
"Pfft, try living it."
"Oh, come on, you guys!" Cody said, chuckling as he took the reins with both hands again. "It's Christmas! We're flying through the sky on Santa's sleigh! Doesn't that just make you want to sit back and belt out some holiday tunes?"
"NO!" Kevin snapped, giving Cody a cold look. He looked away, pulling his jacket tighter around himself, then looked up again to mutter, "Why didn't you sing on the show if you like it so much?"
"The show! There were like, a dozen different episodes in a row where everybody else on your team sang and you didn't. What's with that, Mr. Rock Star?"
Cody looked sheepish as he turned in his seat to glance at Kevin, who crossed his arms and glared coldly. Gwen sighed to herself, rolling her eyes. Even though he had defrosted a bit, Kevin seemed to find reasons to snap at Cody every couple of minutes. (Not that she could disagree about the singing, of course.) He never had been one to get over a bad mood very quickly.
A farm appeared below them; Prancer swooped down and landed lightly on the house's roof. Cody glanced at his list and jumped down from his seat with practiced ease, pressing the Destirinator and hefting his sack. "You guys coming?"
"Um, actually I think I'm gonna sit this one out," Gwen said, giving him an apologetic smile.
Cody blinked. "Oh. Okay." He gave his other companion an awkward look. "Kevin...?"
"Pass," he said, ignoring Cody to raise an eyebrow at his sister.
Cody trudged across the snowy roof and vanished down the chimney. As soon as he was gone Gwen gave Kevin a light slap on his heavily-padded shoulder.
"Hey!" He swatted her away, grimacing. "What was that for?"
"Why are you giving Cody such a hard time?"
"Gwendid your ears freeze shut? His singing is terrible," Kevin said, switching to a loud whisper as if afraid Cody might hear him. "I mean, at first I thought the show's auto-tuning was a cop-out, but"
"I don't care how bad his singing is! And yeah, it is bad. But that's not the point! The point is that you keep looking for any opportunity to snark at him! He's just trying to make the best out of a bad and, admittedly, really surreal situation."
"Well, excuse me for making fun of your boyfriend!"
"He's not my boyfriend! My boyfriend's the other guy you're constantly ragging on," she added sarcastically.
"Yeah, for now."
"What's that supposed to mean? !"
"Well, Gwen, it's not exactly a secret that Santa Klutz there wants to play reindeer games with you," Kevin sneered (ignoring Prancer as he cocked his head in confusion). "And you've already gone through both of the other guys who liked you from that show. It's just a matter of time before he becomes the you to your Duncan."
"I mean...you know, you break up with Duncan, and...forget it. You know what? I'm your brother, I reserve the right to hate any guy who likes you, okay?"
Gwen rolled her eyes again. "So you're not even gonna start waiting for me to go out with a guy before you start giving him the Duncan treatment, is that it?"
"Pretty much." He paused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Though actually, I would prefer Dorkus to the Criminal. Stupid Guitar Guy, too. At least this one hasn't cheated on or with you yet. Though my first choice is still you dying alone."
Kevin shrugged, looking away pointedly.
The two remained in silence until Cody came back a moment later. "Hey guys. Have a good time without me?" he asked, still looking confused as he stared from one annoyed sibling to the other.
"Fine," Gwen muttered. For some reason she found it too awkward to meet his gaze now.
Cody smiled weakly and got back into the front of the sleigh. They took off again, passing over the snowy Ontario countryside. After a few moments Cody began to softly sing "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."
Kevin groaned but, catching a look from Gwen, just put on a pair of thick earmuffs and pursed his lips tightly.
There were a lot of houses, and every million people or so, they found somebody they knew.
Shortly after Leshawna's apartment they had come to the suburban town of Twig Harbor, where they had found Katie and Sadie having a sleepover together at the latter's house. Later they loaded sports supplies under Tyler's tree, filled Owen's stocking with candy and unloaded about a hundred pounds of books and video games at Noah's crowded abode. (Three of his siblings were home with their families.) Cody pointed and laughed as they passed over his own empty house, and in Winnipeg they found an oddly festive home that turned out to be Courtney's. Izzy they discovered in a Nunavut cave, cuddled up with some grizzly bears for some reason beyond any of their comprehension. Garlands and tinsel adorned all the stalactites and stalagmites.
Seeing their fellow contestants' homes sometimes struck up a conversation.
"So wait, Sierra really is dating Justin now?" Gwen laughed. "I thought that was just a tabloid rumor!"
"No, it's true," Cody said, laughing along with her. "I think she's the only person who's ever loved him as much as he does! But reallyI think they make a good couple. He actually likes it when girls stalk him, so it kind of works out. She was really nice company on the Drama Brothers' last tour."
"Ah, yes, the band," Kevin muttered, rolling his eyes. Gwen shot him a warning look. He held up his hands sarcastically.
"We were actually thinking of putting out another holiday album this year, but it didn't pan out," Cody continued, pulling the reins so that Prancer flew up to avoid some tall trees. "Did you ever hear that one?"
"Of course, you and Trent both sent me a copy last year. It was really" Gwen paused, biting her lip. "Er, something."
Cody chuckled nervously. "Yeah. Not our best work, I admit." Kevin opened his mouth to say something, but Gwen kicked him in the leg. "Oh!" Cody cried, suddenly laughing. "Do you rememberheh-hehthe song Harold got Leshawna to do back up on?"
Gwen covered her mouth, but couldn't hold back her chortles. "You mean thepfft'The Dreidel Rap?'"
"Yo, in the year 165 C.E./There was a brutha named Judah the Maccabee"
Cody and Gwen both burst out laughing. Kevin pursed his lips tighter, but after a minute the song was echoing in his head and he fell onto his hands and knees, giggling like a maniac.
They visited a few more million homes in Saskatchewan, including Heather and her siblings in Regina. After the obligatory jokes about coal they got into a vague discussion about what had happened to her after World Tour, but none of them really knew anything except for some tabloid rumors.
"I'm almost positive she didn't really get back together with Alejandro, though," Cody said as they flew over the cityscape. "I visited the burn ward where he and Ezekiel were staying and he sounded really bitter about what happened during the last challenge."
"I'm not surprised."
"You know, I really do hate her, but it was satisfying to see her nail that douche in the kiwis."
The three laughed; even Kevin was becoming friendlier now, toning his vitriol down to Gwen-level sarcasm. Cody grinned to himself, gazing down at the town below. "The view looks magical, doesn't it?" he breathed. "No wonder Santa's always so jolly!"
The siblings in the back rolled their eyes, but gazing down at the pristine snow and glowing houses they couldn't really argue the point.
On and on they went in their wavy path, about three-fourths of the way through the country now. The thought surprised Cody, and he wasn't quite sure whether he should feel relieved or depressed by it. Prancer flew down to another house, seemingly the same as all the others in this particular Saskie neighborhood. Cody gave his list a perfunctory glance. "Let's see herethe Stone family. Well, let's see wh"
"Waitthe Stones?" Gwen asked, startled. She suddenly looked around, peering into the inky night. "Where are we?"
Cody blinked. "UmI'm not sure. I think we're still in Saskatchewan, but we're probably close to Alberta...why, what's the matter?"
"I...think this is Duncan's house."
Kevin groaned and began rubbing his eyes. Cody gave a sort of strangled gasp. He looked down at his list again, then frowned confusedly again.
"Are you sure? He's not on the list."
"Pretty sure...let me see that."
Cody handed the parchment to Gwen, who skimmed through the eight or so names. "He's not here..." she murmured. "But I'm sure this is his house. 'Conrad Stone, Bradford Stone'...those are his older brothers' names, and I'm pretty sure he mentioned an aunt named Dorian coming. But why isn't he...?"
She looked up and gave Cody a questioning look; he shrugged helplessly. "I...don't have any idea. Maybe it's just a coincidence?"
"None of those names are particularly common," Kevin pointed out.
The three were silent for a moment. Duncan had never come up during their happy conversations between houses; all their good moods were suddenly quashed, for different reasons. Kevin glared down at the rooftop hatefully, imagining that jackass sleeping under his feet. Cody suddenly felt awkward, looking away from Gwen as he remembered that for all the fun they had been having together, she had chosen someone else over himtwice, in fact, and most recently someone he hated almost as much as Kevin did.
And Gwen...wasn't really sure what to think. She thought back to their fight, but more to all the good times they had together before that fight. She wasn't even totally sure if the two of them were still together. She stared back down at the list, which seemed just as unsure as she was. Why wasn't his name on here? This had to be the right house, so why were all of his relatives there but not him?
After a long moment Cody cleared his throat. "I, uh...guess we better get going," he murmured. "Do you guys...?"
"I'll sit this one out," Kevin muttered. Since Gwen won't let me kill him in his sleep, he thought.
Gwen hesitated; Cody searched her face, frowning slightly. Gwen forced a smile, pushing down her uncertainty. "I'll come," she said, falsely-cheerful. "Come on."
They headed for the chimney, not looking at each other. Kevin scowled and sat back in the sleigh, picking up a paddle-ball and half-heartedly trying to pass the time.
In all of the tense emotions, none of them realized one important thing: Cody had forgotten to use the Destirinator.
When Cody and Gwen materialized in the Stones' living room, the first sound they heard was a loud sob coming from the next room.
They both jumped, another strangled gasp escaping from Cody's throat. "Get down!" he hissed, as the two ducked and crawled behind a futon.
Glancing around, the two soon found the source of the noisean open pass-through to the kitchen. Sitting up as high as they dared they could just make out two figures sitting at the kitchen table. One was a man who looked enough like Duncan that for a wild moment Gwen wondered why her boyfriend had dyed his hair blond; it was only after a moment that she realized this guy was several years older. The other figure was a woman, also blonde, with her head down on the table. She was the source of the sobbing sound.
"Come on, Ma...don't cry, okay? It'll be alright."
The woman half-lifted her head and sounded like she was about to say something, but all that came out was a sound between a hiccup and a gasp. Another woman about her age came into view now, carrying a tray of steaming cups. "Here, Emily...have some tea to calm your nerves. You too, Conrad."
"Thanks, Auntie Dorian."
It was a moment before the blonde woman raised her head again and, still sniffling, took a shaky sip of her drink. Then she began to dab at her eyes with a napkin. "It's justthis h-hasn't h-happened in more than a year. I thoughtI thought we were past this! And on ChrChris"
She began crying again. Cody and Gwen's faces were screwed up in confusion when suddenly they heard the front door unlock. They quickly ducked down again and covered their heads, listening as the door open and two male voices entered the house, muttering. The residents of the kitchen stirred, chairs pushing back, as the two men passed by the chair and joined them, leaving the kitchen door open behind them.
"What happened? Where'scouldn't you...?"
There was a short silence. Cody and Gwen were both desperate to raise their heads again, but neither dared try. Finally one of the newcomers spoke.
"Sorry, Ma...the bailiff wouldn't let us take him home this time."
Instantly the blonde woman started crying again. "Why not?" Auntie Dorian asked, speaking louder over the sobs.
The second newcomer answered; he sounded bitter. "Duncan has a reputation for skipping court appointments." (Gwen's stomach tightened as Cody's eyes went wide.) "And he's eighteen now, so the rules are tighter. The least he could have done was commit another felony before his birthday..."
"Dad." Conrad's voice was tense as Duncan's mother began to cry harder.
"I don't understand this," Auntie Dorian said, sounding irritable. "Are they sure they even have the right man? I mean, Duncan still has, what, twenty thousand dollars in the bank from that TV show? Why would he even need to rob anybody anymore"
"That has nothing to do with it, Dorian!" the second man suddenly erupted, making Gwen and Cody both flinch. "That boy will do anything, anything, if he knows he's not supposed to! Always has, always will!"
"Dad! Can't you see you're upsetting Ma? !"
"No, Duncan's upsetting Ma. Dad's just stating the obvious."
"Brad, shut up!"
"Now, let's all calm down! The kids are hopefully asleep upstairs," Aunt Dorian said. "Are you sure there's nothing you can do? It's Christmas! It's not like Duncankilled anybody or something, surely the bailiff"
"Aunt Dorian, there's really nothing..."
"Well, did you see him? Are you sure he's alright?"
"He didn't want to see us."
"What? ! Why not?"
"Ha! Aunt Dorian, didn't you see the way Duncan stormed out of here? That's how he always acts when he's mad, he just blows everybody off and goes breaking and entering..."
Duncan's mother gulped, then said, in a teary voice, "WeW-We'll go see him in the m-morning, though. W-We'll take him his presents..."
"Oh great, just what I wantedto spend another Christmas visiting my son in jail!"
Duncan's mom started crying louder again; his father sighed and, in a softer voice said, "Come on, Emily, let's get to bed...don't worry, we'll work things out in the morning..."
"Yes, yes, let's all get some sleep...things always look brighter after a good night's rest."
"...Does this mean I get Duncan's bed?"
Cody and Gwen heard the group trudge upstairs, Mrs. Stone still sobbing softly. Then they heard the sounds of footsteps over their heads, and then, after several minutes, silence.
The two slowly turned to each other, both of them shaking slightly. Gwen looked like she was about to cry too. Cody's eyes were soft; he opened his mouth to say something, then closed it, looking awkwardly away.
They slowly came out of their hiding place and set out the presents, for all the Stones but one, in silence. Cody found the cookies and milk that Duncan's niece and nephew had left out and threw them, untouched, into the trash.