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 in central Alberta)
Things were tense when Cody and Gwen returned to the sleigh. Kevin noticed his sister's bad mood immediately; he asked what had happened, had something gone wrong, had they seen Duncan, only to get terse, one-word replies from Cody. Gwen didn't say anything without a lot of pushing, and even then she was equally monosyllabic. She wasn't going with Cody on any more deliveries, either; at first Kevin stayed with her, trying to find out more, but she wasn't budging.
"Just leave me alone," Gwen grumbled in a cracking voice, turning around to look away from him. "I don't want to talk about it."
Kevin growled quietly, and at the next house opted to go with Cody, leaving Gwen alone; he spent the whole delivery grilling Cody, who only looked awkward as he wordlessly placed presents under the tree. Kevin threw up his hands and gave up; at the next house he stayed in the sleigh with Gwen, neither looking at each other, as he stewed in anger at her, Cody and especially Duncan, knowing that somehow he was to blame for whatever had happened. There was no longer much talking or singing as they flew from house to house.
Cody deposited presents for Harold and his siblings under the McGrady Hanukkah bush, then some more at Ezekiel's farm, before flying north to a ski lodge in the Northwest Territories where Lindsay was staying with her family. He sighed wearily; no help putting the gifts out, no Christmas joy back on the sleigh...he was tempted to drop another heavy present on purpose; drafting Lindsay into the job would at least assure some cheerful company.
After what felt like a few more hours (Cody was wondering more and more about the time issue; "a few hours" somehow felt equally applicable to each province and the journey as a whole) Cody stared down at his list for the millionth-ish time. He paused for a moment, then stole a glance at the back of the sleigh. Neither Gwen nor Kevin was moving. He bit his lip, then stepped out onto the roof, walking around and tapping Gwen gently on the shoulder.
She looked up, blinking rapidly; she had either been asleep or close to it. There was less of a question about Kevin, who was snoring softly.
"WhaCody? Ugh. That sleigh thing is really still happening, isn't it?" she muttered, stretching out her sore legs and wincing.
"Heh...yeah. Anyway...I know you haven't really felt up to helping me since...you know, Duncan..." Gwen's face took on a gloomy look as she glanced away. "...but remember back at Leshawna's house, how much you said you liked doing deliveries for friends?"
"I think we're at Bridgette's place. Do you wanna come help me out?"
He tried not to look too hopeful as Gwen considered. She cast a quick glance at him, then looked away again, unsure.
Cody blinked, then broke into a surprised grin, then quickly tried to suppress it. "Okay. Cool," he said with forced nonchalance. He had learned over the years (albeit slowly) that Gwen couldn't be pushed into anything, be it dating him or a simple smile; it was better to work slowly if he didn't want to accidentally snap her right back into misery.
Gwen seemed to perk up a little as they set out Bridgette's stuff. Cody purposely tried to prod her into a happier moodhe got her to guess about what a few of the presents might be, and made an elaborate show of thinking that an obvious surfboard must be an ironing board instead. It didn't quite merit the laughing fit he had been hoping for, but he did get an indulgent eye-roll at least. That was something.
Gwen agreed to accompany Cody into the next couple of homes after Bridgette's; they didn't talk much, but Cody got the feeling that he was at least distracting her from thinking too much about Duncan. Not too long after Bridgette's place they came to Trent's house, and then Geoff's. Cody kept prodding her with jokes, shared an anecdote or two, trying for a reaction; she smiled wanly, but still seemed a little off.
"Hey, why don't you sit up here with me?" Cody asked suddenly, as Gwen was about to climb back into her usual place at the back of the sleigh. She quirked an eyebrow; Cody grinned nervously and patted the space beside him. "There's plenty of room. And I bet it's nicer than be jostled around with all those bags."
"...Alright. But you better not just be expected me to cuddle up next to you for warmth or something."
"Ha! Please, Gwen! That's hardly my only reason."
He actually got a tiny laugh out of that one. Or maybe she was coughing from the cold, it was sort of hard to tell.
They passed through the Queen Charlotte Islands and flew around the very westernmost parts of the Yukon, where the towns were few and far between. They had a lot of time to talk between houses, but unfortunately, neither of them was saying much. Cody had been hoping that the new seating arrangement would have made it easier for them to start chatting again; instead, he realized that it just made things more awkward.
He coughed nervously, turning to look at her. "So...Gwen."
"I'm, uh..." He coughed again. "...sorry. You know..." He looked forward again, watching Prancer dash through the air. "...about Duncan and all."
There was a pause. "Yeah. Me, too." Another pause. "You know, we...never mind."
"Nothing. We just...sort of had a fight, a few days ago."
Cody looked toward her again, startled. "A fight?"
"Yeah. I meannot a big one," Gwen said; she was already regretting bringing this up, but she felt the need to share her problems with somebody, and at the moment Cody was the only one available. "But...well, he was supposed to come over to our house for Christmas, but that didn't pan out. And I guess he won't be around for a while, now," she added bitterly.
"Oh." Another, longer silence stretched between them, during which Cody looked away, looked back at her, then looked away again. "Ahem...so...does that mean you guys are...b-breaking up, then?"
It was Gwen's turn to be startled. Cody didn't dare look at her, but he felt her eyes bore into the side of his head. "I don't know yet," she said, her voice barely a growl. Cody couldn't tell if the anger in her voice was for him, Duncan or both. He quickly began to stutter something (even he wasn't sure what), but she cut him off. "You know what, Cody? I really don't want to talk about it anymore."
He shut his mouth tightly, then swallowed. "Okay. Sorry."
Cody kicked himself mentally, staring out again at the snowy horizon. He felt bitter all of a sudden, though he wasn't sure if it was at himself or Gwen. After all, there was no need for her to snap at him, it wasn't like he had actually asked her out on a date even if that thought had been in the back of his mind. But he wasn't going to do it. Gwen and Duncan were still together, and unlike some annoying mohawked man-whores with bad attitudes and freakishly pointed chins, Cody didn't condone cheating. Or hitting on somebody while they were still on the rebound.
Though then again, maybe that was part of his problem he had put off approaching Gwen after her break-up with Trent, and once the show sent them home, hadn't really gotten a chance to ask her out in person until the third season began. Sometimes he wondered if he had simply waited too long—if he had tried sooner, maybe he could have had a chance with her before Duncan had to come into the scene and ruin everything for everyone.
Several minutes passed before Gwen sighed, looking around at the ground. "Is it just me, or has it been a while since we hit a houwhoa!" She jumped a little in her seat as the ground below them suddenly gave way to frigid water.
"Huh..." Cody said, scratching his chin. "We're headed north...I'd thought we'd already done all of the Queen Elizabeth Islands...hey, are we going faster?"
As if on cue Prancer reared back his head and let out a cry, and suddenly a strong sea breeze made the sleigh jump.
"Agh!" Gwen cried, grabbing Cody on instinct as he pulled wildly at the reins. At the same moment Kevin awoke with a start in the back, his head having smashed against a stray Jack-in-the-Box.
"I'm up, I'm up!" he cried, looking around in confusion. His gaze fell ahead, where he saw his older sister hugging Cody tightly. His jaw dropped. "Hey, what the he"
There was another bump, and Kevin let out a cry as all three teens were momentarily jolted into the air and out of their seats. He ducked down, covering his head with a quilt. "Oh, I'm gonna be sick again," he moaned, ten thousand houses' worth of half-digested cookies rising in his throat.
The wild ride continued for several minutes, before suddenly Cody pointed down at icebergs that were beginning to appear in the sea below them. Not long after there came floating white islands of snow, then stretches of white landCody's eyes widened as it began to occur to him what was happening, and by then Gwen had let out a cry and grabbed his hand, squeezing tightly for his attention as she pointed ahead with her other.
"It is!" Kevin cried, eyes as wide as Cody's.
A castle. A giant castle rising out of the snowy expansenot like the big stone fortresses Cody had seen in history books or Dragon-Assassin, but a picturesque collection of bright towers like you'd see in a fairy tale, covered with frost that glistened in the light of a thousand white-and-colored Christmas lights. The palace bordered a forest of fully-decorated Christmas trees on one side and numerous cottages on another. As they flew closer Cody laughed out loud to see that the cottages were made of gingerbread and decorated with icing.
From the back of the sleigh Kevin tapped his shoulder. "Hey, sorry to ruin your run, but, uh, you might want to know that we're about to crash, you moron!"
"Wha" Cody looked up and noticed the sleigh heading straight toward pair of closed wooden shutters. He let out a yelp and began to pull on Prancer's reins. "Hey! Stop, stop, stop!"
Prancer kept flying, but right before they were about to hit the shutters flew open, revealing a window large enough for the sleigh to pass through. Instantly there was bright light, warm air and the sounds of cheering, disorienting the three so much that it was hard to see as Prancer's hooves came aground on a long runway and began to slow, bringing them to a stop. The sudden loss of movement sent all three of the passengers forward, and Kevin's half-digested cookies flew out and onto the back of Cody's red suit. He let out a cry and jumped again as Kevin collapsed onto the floor of the sleigh, moaning again.
Gwen was the first to regain her senses, looking around the large chamber. The runway was on a sort of raised area, and down below she saw the cheering crowd made up of kids. Or at least, what looked like kids, except that Gwen knew what they really werethe weird outfits made up mostly of green, the curly shoes, those prominent, pointed ears...the last sliver of logic in her brain fought tooth and nail against the thought coming, but it was pretty obvious that they were
"Elves," Kevin moaned, wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket. "I'm looking at elves, aren't I?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Well, well, Cody!" a booming voice called. "It took you long enough, didn't it?"
The three all jumped and turned as the speaker came forward. He was not an elf, but an older, white-bearded man, dressed in red pajamas with a collection of holiday quilts in his lap. He was in a wheelchair that looked like it was made of giant peppermint sticks, being pushed by a similarly aged and plump woman who wore a red dress with a white bonnet and apron. One of the man's legs was elevated, wrapped in a cast.
Gwen and Kevin's mouths fell open as Cody jumped down from the sleigh, removing his hat and wringing it in his hands. "Agh! I'm sorry, did I take too long? I swear, I worked as fast as I couldthat is, we coulduh, I sort of messed up a little, but"
Suddenly the man laughed, reaching forward to give Cody a playful slap on the arm. "HO HO! I'm just kidding, m'boy, you made excellent timefor a first flight, at least, ho ho! And after all, technically you took no time at all from outside of our magic. Ah, and your little helpers!" he added, throwing open his arms and turning in his seat to face Gwen and Kevin. "Did you all have as nice a time as I always do?" He gazed at them fondly, his blues twinkling so brightly that it was almost freakish.
"Ah, let me guessa little tired, aren't you?" he said with a wink. "Ho ho, don't I know the feeling! The memory's always better after a little napyou kids should have a rest before we send you home, do you think?"
"And don't forget, you need to have a rest, too," the old woman said sternly.
The man sighed. "Yes, yes, of course, my dear..."
She wheeled him a bit off to the side, where he waved his hands to the elf crowd that had been buzzing with excitement. "Settle down, everybody, settle down! Now, let me once again congratulate everyone on another job well done, pulling together despite some truly hard circumstances! Give yourselves a round of applause!"
The elves cheered, as Gwen and Kevin continued to stare on in astonishment. Kevin pointed to the old man with a shaking finger.
"That was ?"
"Yeah," Cody said.
"As in the real ?"
"And that woman was ?"
"Ugh, I need a drink. I—agh!"
Kevin reeled back, as a silver tray had suddenly appeared right in front of him, containing three steaming mugs. After a moment he noticed that the tray was being carried over the head of a rosy-cheeked male elf; even though Kevin was pretty short himself, the elf's head only came about level with his chest. A female elf stood beside him, smiling and darting eyes between each of them in turn.
"Merry Christmas! My name is Holly, and this is Mordechai. We're here to make sure you have a jolly stay at the North Pole. Hot cocoa?"
"Um, uh thanks," Kevin said awkwardly, taking a mug from the tray. Mordechai immediately leaned towards Gwen and Cody, who took the others if only for uncertainty of what else to do. Cody took a sip of his, which made his eyes jump open as he gave a moan of pleasure. Gwen tasted hers a bit more reluctantly—it was very good, richer and creamier than she had ever tasted before.
"You're welcome! Now, please follow me to your accommodations."
"What is this, Playa des Losers?" Gwen mumbled, as the two elves took off down a side hallway. The three looked at each other, casting a quick glance back at their host and his elfin audience before following.
It was a long walk, but there was no shortage of sights to occupy them: the palace seemed to be filled with immaculately polished wood, bright colors and Christmas decorations everywhere—corridors lined with wreaths on both sides, doorframes surrounded by holly, a Christmas tree in every room they passed finally they came to a stop in front of a pair of large, thick wooden doors which Mordechai opened with surprising ease. Inside was what looked like a luxury suite half as large as Gwen and Kevin's house with two huge, puffy beds against one wall, a large and crackling fireplace and antique chairs. And of course, it was decked to the nines with holiday decorations—green and red and gold everywhere, a Christmas tree displayed prominently, poinsettias, a tray of sprinkled cookies on the nearest tables, and toys all around the walls, including a dollhouse almost as tall as Kevin. Cody and Gwen's eyes both widened at the sight of it all.
Kevin, however, immediately made a beeline for the nearest bed and collapsed onto his back. "Good, I've been hoping to take a nap somewhere where I won't have to wake up screaming," he grumbled. "Just tell me when the Tooth Fairy is ready to fly us home, okay?"
Holly blinked at him, then awkwardly turned back to Cody and Gwen. "You three can wait in here," she said. "Help yourselves to the refreshments, and if you need anything, please, just ring!" She pulled on a tasseled rope hanging beside the door, which emitted a merry jingling sound.
"Um can do, I guess."
Holly turned to Cody, cocking her head apologetically. "Before we go, we'll be needing the suit back."
"The suit? Oh!" Cody looked down at himself and chuckled nervously. "Heh, sorry—I'd forgot I was wearing it." He handed his hot chocolate to Mordechai and began to sheepishly remove the baggy outfit (almost tripping as he took off the pants, having forgotten to remove his Rudolph slippers first). Underneath the suit he was wearing a pair of green and red plaid pajamas; Gwen let out a scoff and quickly pursed her lips.
"Here you go it's, uh, a little dirty in the back."
Holly made a face as she accepted the suit, but forced a smile again. "Well, I'm sure Mrs. Claus can clean that up. Thank you!" She bowed deeply and the two elves exited, closing the door behind them.
Cody scratched his head and turned back to Gwen, whose face was still screwed up. He frowned. "Gwen?"
His friend let out a quick snort, froze, and then suddenly burst out into giggles, bending over and grabbing her stomach. Cody blinked. "Gwen? What—" She just laughed harder, now grabbing her knees to keep standing, and somehow Cody found himself chortling without even knowing why.
"Gwen! What—snort—what i-is it?"
"It's just—your outfit!" Gwen gasped.
"What—heh-heh-heh—what's wrong with my ou-outfit?"
"It's just—ha-ha-ha—you look more Christmassy than when you had the suit on!" Gwen's giggling gave forth to laughter so raucous that she was surprised Kevin didn't stir from his sleep. "You look like you're wearing this room!"
"I don't—ha-ha—I don't get what you're—pffft!—talking about!"
Gwen collapsed onto her knees as Cody stumbled into the nearest chair, shaking as he tried to suppress his laughter and examine his outfit. Neither could stop laughing. The rational part of Gwen's brain knew that she was acting crazy—they were just normal pajamas, after all, heck, they were one of the most normal thing that she had seen all night—but all of a sudden she felt crazy, almost like she was drunk, really, and the surrealism of this whole situation was collapsing in on her all at once. It was tiredness, she realized—insane tiredness, the kind she hadn't felt since the challenge in Total Drama's first season when she had had to stay up for full days at a time. When had she last slept, anyway? Delivering all those gifts had taken hours in real time, heck, maybe more than a full day if you added it all together, and before that she hadn't even slept since the night before Christmas Eve
It took close to three full minutes before Gwen and Cody had both completely stopped laughing, by which point they were gasping for breath, struggling to sit up straight and keep their eyes open. Gwen moved some hair out from her face. "S—Sorry," she panted, climbing shakily back to her feet. "I'm—not sure what came over me "
"It's—fine," Cody said, waving her away and grinning at her. "It's sort of nice—to hear you laugh again."
"Uh thanks." She felt slightly awkward at that—she wasn't sure if he was trying to flirt with her or not, but she was surprised to realize that if he was then it was the first time all night. She cast a nervous look at his face—his blue eyes were bright, his smile slightly crooked but still sunny. He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, then looked away.
"So, uh maybe Kevin had the right idea about turning it," he suggested, rising to his feet. "I mean, I don't know when they're coming back for us, but, uh, a little shut-eye couldn't hurt "
"Yeaaauuugh," Gwen yawned, stretching her arms as she followed him across the room. "I'm so tired I could sleep for a year."
Cody jumped on the remaining bed (which was quite soft and bouncy), kicking off his Rudolph slippers and closing his eyes with a smile of contentment. Gwen, however, froze in place—there were only two beds, and Kevin had collapsed onto his sideways, arms sprawled out in a way that left little room for another. "Um "
Cody opened his eyes, taking a minute to realize the problem. "Oh—oh! Um—heh-heh." His face turned slightly pink—two different suggestions had suddenly sprang into his head, and somehow the chivalrous one won out. "Here—you take this bed, and I'll—"
"Just—sit down," Gwen said, as Cody had already started to rise from his seat. To his shock she lay down on the bed next to him, though with a reasonable space between them, laying her head down on the pillow. "But don't read too much into this," she warned, not opening her eyes. "You're lucky I never killed you over that picture in Jamaica."
Cody cleared his throat awkwardly. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said (though the "dreaming" part, of course, was a pretty blatant lie). He lay back down, adjusting his position to keep a respectfully large but still enjoyably small distance between them. He crossed his arms for warmth—unlike Gwen and Kevin he didn't have a heavy jacket on over his pajamas, but the warmth from the fireplace somehow seemed to extend into every corner of the large suite. His smile fell after a minute as instead of sleep, his weary mind began to wander over the strange events of the night.
It was the news of Duncan's arrest, however, that took up most of his attention. I wonder if Gwen will break up with him over this, he wondered. I mean, this has to finally make her realize what kind of sleaze-ball he is He glanced over at her placid face. But then, even if she does, that doesn't mean that she'll be interested in me. Though we are technically sleeping together, he added with a sudden grin. That's gotta be worth something, right?
He gave a weary sigh, staring up at the ceiling. Then he blinked, sitting up again. "Uh Gwen?"
"What?" she mumbled sleepily.
"I think we're laying under mistletoe."
Gwen rubbed her eyes and sat up, glancing at the little plant suspended a few feet above their heads. Her mouth hung open for a minute, then snapped shut as she looked annoyed. "Why would anyone put that there?" she grumbled.
"I don't know. Maybe we got the honeymoon suite by mistake?"
Gwen swatted Cody's shoulder, then noticed the hopeful, nervous smile on his face. She rolled her eyes. "Well, you've shown me an interesting time, if nothing else "
Cody's smile widened as Gwen bent down and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. As she did so there was a sudden flash, and they both jumped and spun around to see Holly standing a few feet away from them, peeking out from behind a camera.
"Huh? What the hell "
"Heh-heh sorry, it's just I've been a big fan of you two since TDI," she said, rolling her eyes up playfully. "Anyway, sorry to bother you. Merry Christmas!"
There was another flash, this one sparkling green, and she and the camera were gone. Gwen facepalmed and fell back onto the bed as Cody quirked one eye, silently wondering if there was any way to get a copy of that picture for himself.