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as cuddly as a cactus

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“There is an elf. On my shelf,” Captain Holt pronounces.

It’s entirely possible he sounds more aggrieved than usual - Jake can never tell.

Amy’s frowning though, and as the leading inhouse expert on all things Holt, she’s most likely frowning because he’s unhappy.

Or she could be frowning because she just remembered she forgot to floss that morning.

“I didn’t put it there,” says Amy.

“ - Name of your sex tape!” Jake says, because it’s basically a reflex at this point, like punctuation, except he doesn’t use punctuation so that’s a bad example. Scratch that analogy - but the point remains.

Amy’s biting her lip. Maybe it’s the floss thing after all.

“You misunderstand,” says Captain Holt. “I placed the elf on my shelf.”

There is a long pause. “His name is Jingles,” Captain Holt offers, as if this will clarify proceedings.

Jake blinks. Twice.

“It’s a game,” Rosa says.

"Yes," agrees Captain Holt. "The objective is to place Jingles in a variety of scenarios around the office in tableaus that are both festive and hilarious, and take photographs to document Jingles' journey. I myself will award a prize for the photo that receives the most votes. You will each have a set period of time with Jingles. Santiago - I trust I can leave it with you to arrange a schedule?"

Amy fervently nods - apparently the combination of spreadsheets and Captain Holt's unerring faith in her has temporarily short-circuited her ability to speak. 

“Elf on the shelf?” says Terry. “Oh, my wife and I play this with the twins. Last night Jingles climbed the Christmas tree! He used the tinsel as his climbing rope!” He chuckles to himself. "His little hands were reaching for the star!"

Jake stares at him, still not comprehending.

Terry reaches for his iPhone, and swipes across. "Here, I've got the whole album in the Cloud," he says eagerly, as Captain Holt leans in to inspect the photos. 

"Gina. Pinch me," Jake says urgently. 

Gina obliges. The resulting shriek causes Boyle to run from the kitchen. 


Boyle is conducting a taste-testing of New York’s finest Christmas puddings for his blog, and has been plying them all with samples for the past week.

“Seriously, Boyle, if I see one more glace cherry, I am literally going to explode,” Jake says.

Amy rolls her eyes. “I hate when people use the word literally incorrectly,” she says. “It’s my one pet peeve.”

“Just one?” Gina enquires, saccharine sweet.

Amy flushes. “It’s one of my pet peeves,” she corrects. 

"At some point, you have to let go of the term 'pet', and embrace the fact that you are in possession of a farm, and your sole harvest is peeves," counsels Gina. 

“For the record, I stand by my usage of the term literally,” says Jake. “Because if I ingest one more morsel of Christmas pudding, I will literally - and I do mean literally - explode. It will be the dictionary definition of excessive internal pressure leading to a messy and violent combustion.”

He puts his head on the desk, and when he lifts it up a few seconds later, he finds himself looking directly into the unblinking stare of Captain Raymond Holt.

"Peralta, I'm legally obliged to report any credible threats of potential explosives to the Mayor."

Jake slow-blinks.

In his peripheral vision, he sees Amy's eyebrows have shot up to previously unforeseen heights.

"Aha!" Jake says. "That was almost definitely a joke."

“It was indeed a joke,” says Captain Holt. “You may have noticed that I have a tendency to get caught up in the merriment of the silly season. Kevin finds it most embarrassing ”

Jake’s face twitches against his will.

“Jake, dear Jake. Unlike our patron saint Lady Gaga, you do not, actually, posess a pah-pah-pah-pah-poker face,” Gina informs him helpfully, which a) he is well-aware and b) ...hurtful, much?

She eats his portion of pudding when Boyle’s back is turned, though, so he forgives her.


“All of this figgy pudding is seriously messing with my workout regimen,” says Terry. “Jake, do my muscles look smaller to you? I think they're smaller.”

Jake stares at Terry’s impressive biceps. “How would you tell?” he asks.

Gina makes a thoughtful noise. “I don’t know, Terry,” she says. “I think they might be smaller, although it’s awfully hard to tell for sure with your shirt in the way.”

Jake does not think this is true, given the way that Terry’s shirts are continually straining as if his muscles can’t be contained by a mere cotton and polyester blend.

Nonetheless, Terry obediently starts shrugging out of his button-down.

“Put your shirt back on,” says Holt, who has suddenly appeared in the doorway.

Terry obediently starts shrugging back into his button-down.

Gina looks crushed.

Jake slips her another piece of pudding.


“Sorry I’m late. I was making a list,” says Scully, as he walks into the briefing room.

“And checking it twice?” asks Terry.

Scully nods absently.

“Going to find out who’s naughty or nice?” Rosa chimes in.

Jake grins - Rosa can front all she wants, but secretly she lives for these moments the same way they all do.

Scully squints at them suspiciously. “That’s our job,” he says, cautiously.

“Hey, Scully, did you hear who’s coming to town?” Terry asks.

“Who?” Scully asks, eyes wide.

“Guys,” says Amy, sounding actually aggrieved. “This is too easy. It’s almost cruel.”

“I genuinely cannot tell if he’s doing this on purpose,” says Jake. “Can anyone else? 


The Kris Kringle gift exchange is presided over by Amy Santiago - who Jake insists on calling Santa-ego. He's hilarious, he doesn't care what anybody says to the contrary.

"In that case,” Amy says, archly, “you can be Mrs Claus.”

Sweet,” says Jake. “I get to stay home and eat all the cookies.”

“Mrs Claus actually drives the sleigh,” Gina interjects.

“Huh?” Jake asks.

Gina flashes him a smile. She’s been sucking on a candy cane until the end is a sharp point, so it's now more of a candy shiv. She could do some serious damage with that thing.

“What, do you think the reindeer just sit patiently on the roof by themselves?” Gina asks. “No, Jake. Be logical. Somebody has to stay with them. And besides, it’s not like Santa can navigate his way out of a paper bag. The man gets stuck in a chimney, for goodness sake.”

“You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into this,” says Jake, backing away slowly to the other side of the room.

When Amy unwraps the music box, Rosa is the only one to shoot him a knowing look.
Maybe his poker face is improving, after all.


Scully is on the phone, taking down a witness statement, and then he hangs up the phone with a decisive clatter.

"That should make him easier to track down," he says in satisfaction.

"What's that?" asks Boyle.

"The suspect was punched in the face and it sounds like it probably broke his nose, so it should have swelled up by now."

"Oh," says Rosa. "So, you're saying he should have a very shiny nose?"

Scully nods.

That's Jake's cue. "Would you even say it glowed?"

Scully tilts his head to the side, considering. "I'm going to go find a sketch artist," he announces, and wanders away.

Gina is staring in open fascination. "Twice is a coincidence," she says. "Three times - "

"Would be bingo, baby," Jake says, and then Gina looks at him, and at the same time they say: "Bingo, Santa Baby," in unison.

They exchange a high-five under the table, away from Amy's glare.

Amy elbows him in the ribs - sharply.

“Ouch,” Jake says, because Amy has the pointiest elbows in the business.


The entire precinct is awash in tinsel - Gina had volunteered to decorate this year, and nobody had realised what was happening until it was too late.

Some of her decorating choices are - characteristically - eclectic. That's the polite term that Boyle would use. Jake prefers zany-kooky-oddball, but as Amy loves to remind him, nobody listens to him anyway.

Still, it seems some traditions have been kept intact.

“Hey, Santiago," says Jake. "We’re standing under mistletoe."

“Correction,” Gina says, “you’re standing under mistle toes.”

Jake blinks. “Wait. What.”

Gina points.

Jake looks up, and sure enough there are a cluster of dismembered plastic toes, nestled amidst the more traditional berries.
Jake stifles a shriek, before reminding himself he’s a hardened police officer who has witnessed a case involving actual dismembered toes.

“Halloween decorations were half price,” Gina says, as if that explains anything. Then again, it's Gina, so it probably does.

“So, I guess we don’t kiss then?” Jake says. He keeps his voice purposefully light.

Amy grins. “What’s the matter - put off by dismembered appendages?”

"Name of your sex tape -” and then suddenly Amy is standing on her toes to kiss him and as it turns out, that requires all his attention.

“Oh,” she says, blinking wide eyes up at him. Her hair is improbably shiny. He feels dazed.

“Oh, what?” he asks, still reeling.

“So that’s what it takes to shut you up,” she says.

“Nope, I'm still talking.” He smirks. “Sorry to disappoint.”

“Name of your sex tape,” she says, and she fist pumps the air as she runs up to the scoreboard, and chalks up a point next to her name.

She turns around, as if to see if he will challenge it.

Technically, it’s for scoring cases, but it’s Christmas so he concedes the point. He can defend his title next week. 

He reaches a hand to wipe away any traces of stray lipstick. “Merry Christmas, Santiago,” he says.

Scully walks into the bullpen, brushing snow from his coat.

“Brrr,” he says. “The weather outside is frightful.”

From across the room, Amy snorts with laughter, and then looks mortified.

(Bingo, Santa Baby.)