This one-shot fic is an entry for the multi-community Holiday Fanfic Event,
Tagging the mods of participating communities:
Getting a new position at SM Entertainment just a month before Christmas was unexpected. It was also a huge relief. Six months ago you had moved to the city and gotten your own apartment when you scored a position in the graphic design department at a promising new tech startup. Four months ago, the tech startup had turned out to be a lot less promising than it had seemed; it folded and left you without a job.
Not wanting to give up the small but nice apartment and the newfound freedom of living on your own, you dedicated yourself to finding a new job. You applied to every graphic design position you could find but were always passed over in favor of someone more experienced so you started applying for just about any office job you could honestly say you could handle. Even that didn’t help, at least not until you were sitting in a waiting room with several other girls interviewing for a temp job and you overheard one of them mention another job she’d interviewed for that day, a receptionist job at SM. According to her, the position had opened up suddenly and HR intended to fill it right away. You emailed your resume from your phone while sitting in the waiting room and a few hours later you got a call to come for an interview. Whether is was due to the no-nonsense manner in which you approached the interview, the fact that you were the final interviewee of the day, or pure dumb luck, you walked out of the interview officially employed by SM.
Your mother’s weekly phone calls (and daily emails) asking if you’d found a new job yet, if you’d tried tweaking your resume with her suggestions yet, and, if not, would you “please just move back home already” had started to get on your nerves. At least now when you went home for the holidays you wouldn’t have to keep hearing those questions. Of course, she’d probably just switch to asking if you’d found a nice boyfriend yet and start trying to set you up on blind dates, but that was a problem for another time.
SM had pretty good security and everyone employed in the building seemed to be motivated and professional so your new job was neither difficult nor unpredictable. It didn’t take more than a day or two for you to get the hang of things: answering and transferring phone calls, directing people to conference rooms, placing orders for catering or flowers, and making an effort not to stare if and when the talent walked through the lobby. It wasn’t furthering your career in graphic design but the salary was liveable and the work was pleasant enough.
On your third day, your immediate supervisor suggested that you sign up to volunteer your time for SM’s newest positive PR initiative, SMiles for the Holidays. SM employees, including some of the talent, were volunteering their time to make the holidays a little brighter with various (public-relations-friendly) activities. She made sure to mention that all of the other reception staff had already signed up. Realizing that this not-so-subtle hint meant that it was important for you to make yourself part of the corporate culture, you found the bulletin board in the staff lounge and looked into the matter.
Volunteer sign-up sheets for many of the events had already been filled, especially ones where SM artists would be participating. Wrapping Christmas presents for the elderly at a retirement home with Luna and Amber of fX was filled up. Decorating the Christmas tree at a children’s hospital with Baekhyun, Suho, and Sehun of EXO was not only filled up, someone had added a sticky-note “waiting list” at the bottom in case someone needed to cancel their spot. In fact, all but two of the sheets were completely filled; you could choose between handing out free hot chocolate on New Year’s eve with some trainees rumored to be debuting next year or being an elf in a North Pole village with no artists on the sheet. The North Pole village sheet was the emptiest and you didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve freezing outside the SM building and handing cocoa to strangers instead of at home with your family; you signed up to be an elf. Only two other people had signed up to be elves and there was no name next to “Santa”, just a big red dash and “filled”.
The following morning when you checked your work email there was a message in your inbox informing you of the date and time for your elf shift and instructing you to visit the wardrobe and styling department to get fitted for an elf costume that afternoon. When you signed up for this you’d somehow forgotten that it must entail wearing a costume. “Great,” you thought to yourself, sarcastically. “Pointy shoes with bells are going to be so much fun.” The fitting wasn’t bad and it was fascinating to see some of the costumes and clothing saved by SM’s stylists for possible reuse. You were pretty sure that your elf costume looked suspiciously like something repurposed and altered from costumes you’d seen in an MV a few years ago but you didn’t dare to ask. Other than the shoes, pointy and with bells as you’d predicted the costume was comfortable and not unflattering, a simple red and green dress and hat.
The North Pole village would be open for one Saturday so underprivileged children could come and visit Santa and each get a gift, courtesy of SM. You were instructed to pick up your costume and report to the village half an hour before it opened. You stopped for a mocha on your way there and still arrived 15 minutes early, passing the time by doing a little online gift shopping on your phone. When the SM employee tasked with overseeing the event arrived he let you and the other two elves into the building and showed you where to change. Once in your elf costume you walked, jingling with each step, through the fake snow and fake evergreens and stood next to a large chair draped in red velvet to await Santa. The building was normally used for shooting MVs and was turned into a winter wonderland just for this. Once someone switched on all the christmas lights on the fake trees it almost did look a little magical.
Five minutes before the children were due to arrive, Santa walked in and sat down, flashing a jolly, gleaming-white smile only slightly obscured by his glossy white fake beard. He was heavily padded beneath the red suit with white faux-fur trim to look the part but his cheerful demeanor brought enough jolly to make up for lacking the bowl-full-of-jelly belly. Aside from his eyes and his smile, almost every inch of his face was covered by his hat, wig, or fake beard, and yet he looked oddly familiar. That thought didn’t stay with you for long, though, as the room suddenly filled with the chatter and footsteps of excited children.
Things went smoothly enough. One of the other elves stood at the front of the line and made sure the children waited in an orderly fashion, handing out candy canes and asking them if they were looking forward to seeing Santa. The other elf handed each child a gift from a giant stack of perfectly wrapped toys as they walked back out from visiting Santa. Your task was perhaps the most fun; you walked each little boy and girl in through the trees to visit santa when their turn came. Some were eager and you had to stop them from running. Others were more reluctant and you patiently encouraged them not to be afraid and to sit on Santa’s lap and talk to him. With few exceptions the children, even the hesitant ones, ended up smiling and telling Santa about what they wanted for Christmas and promising to be good. You couldn’t help but watch and enjoy how happy the children were or how good Santa was at being Santa. Sometimes Santa would catch you staring and you could swear that he winked at you once or twice.
After you walked the last little boy up to visit Santa and sent him along to the elf with the gifts, you turned to walk back to the changing area. Of course, that’s when it happened. One of your pointy-toed elf shoes caught on the lush green carpeting that surrounded Santa’s chair and you went flying toward the floor. If Santa hadn’t sprung up from his chair and nimbly caught you then you’d almost surely have ended up hurting yourself. You tried to thank Santa as started to stand back up but as soon as you put weight on your left foot, pain made you wince and stop mid-sentence.
“Does it hurt?,” Santa asked. You nodded. “You probably twisted it,” he said. “Come on, let’s get some ice on it.” Without waiting for a reply, he scooped you up and carried you to a small break room. In the process his fake beard went a bit askew; Santa had a little five-o-clock-shadow under there. He gently placed you on a couch and retrieved some ice from a refrigerator in one corner of the room, wrapping it in a small towel. He obviously knew his way around. He pulled up a chair in front of the couch and reached for your left leg placing your foot on the chair and the makeshift ice pack on your foot. “That should help,” he said. “I’ll wait while you let it rest for a bit.” With that, he sat beside you on the couch and kicked off his shiny black costume boots. “It was worth it to see the kids’ faces light up but these things are really uncomfortable. At least mine didn’t trip me, though.” You laughed. “What department do you work in? I know it’s not reception or security but you do look familiar,” you wondered out loud. “The accounting offices are near the reception desk on my floor. Do you work in accounting?” He smiled a strange sort of smile and asked in an unsettlingly serious tone, “are you really an Elf?” What kind of question was that? Suddenly you didn’t feel so safe sitting alone in a break room with him. You decided to assume that was a joke and reply in kind. “Are you really Santa?”
That seemed to satisfy him because he immediately started to remove more of his costume. First the hat, then the wig, and then the beard. After that his question made a lot more sense; the man in the Santa suit was Choi Siwon of Super Junior. He certainly did not work in accounting. He reached over and gently touched your sore ankle. “Feeling any better?” You wanted to say yes but it still hurt and you knew that trying to walk on it would be useless. “No,” you said, “but I’ll be okay. Go ahead without me. I’m sure you’re busy.” He shook his head. “I’m afraid that if we hang out in here much longer they’ll lock us in. You’ll have to go, too.” He left the wig and beard on the couch, slipped his hat and boots back on, and hoisted you onto his back. “Come on, little elf, Santa will take you to get this ankle checked by the North Pole’s finest doctor.” You didn’t argue. You just nestled your head into Siwon’s neck and nodded in assent, letting the situation sink in: you were dressed like an elf and Santa Siwon was giving you a piggyback ride to the hospital. You were going to enjoy every minute of this despite the constant jingling of the little bells on your elf shoes.