As many of you should know, last year, around Christmas time, I started a story called "A Christmas Carol". I finished, a bit late, but I still finished it.

And it was a complete failure. Horridly unoriginal, almost a carbon copy of the book with replaced names, and just… not… good. I promised to rewrite it in a much more appealing form, and the original has been posted on a site along with all of my other failures.

So, it being near Christmas now… Let's hope I don't mess this up again.

A Christmas Carol

A 39 Clues work of fiction (re)written by Music4evah.

Chapter 1

The snow was whirling in an unmerciful storm. Each stab of ice that cut the bare skin was only made worse by the bitter wind that blew the flakes and turned them into missiles. Yes, this particular December 19th was definitely not a day that you wanted to be outside in New York. No children were playing in the parks, and the holiday shopping had slowed to only the bravest and most determined shoppers.

Not that Ian Kabra cared about any of it. No, everyone could freeze to death outside for all he cared. Maybe all of this foolish 'Christmas cheer' business would end, then.

It would be an understatement to say that Ian wasn't fond of Christmas. In fact, he loathed it. The weather was never good. The snow was always creating a dreary atmosphere, and, on days like these, it was even worse. Everyone always expected him to be nice. "There are so many poor and unfortunate people living on the streets!" they claimed. "Surely someone as rich and powerful as you could help them." And every year, Ian always told them "No." He wasn't about to go out into the streets and become a one man charity! No, that wouldn't do at all. And how could he part with his precious money for absolutely nothing in return? That was just out of the question.

Carolers always came around to his penthouse. The minute they started to sing, he would slam the door in their faces. Some were persistent, though; they only sang louder. Others got the message and left him in peace. But the worst time was the year before, when someone had had the nerve to send him a Christmas Gram to cheer him up. The carolers burst into his office and started singing a traditional Christmas song, and that was the last straw. Ian had never hated Christmas more.

The lights in the window shops were blinding, and the decorations were ridiculous. Who was stupid enough to put lights on trees? And to think that before electric lights had been invented, they had used candles! The slightest accident could burn a whole house down. And then there was the whole deal with that fat man in a silly red suit… What was appealing about that?

Ian could go on and on about why he hated Christmas so much. He hated a lot of holidays, but Christmas was definitely the worst. Why was everyone so bloody cheerful?

"Cursed idiotic awful…" Ian continued to mutter complaints and profanities as he shuffled through his paper work. He was in his office, which took up half of the floor of the building. It was lavishly furnished, nothing less then what a Kabra would have. 'The best of the best, and certainly no less,' was one saying that Ian was fond of. He had actually thought of it himself, and he was very pleased with it. It was better than his father's 'FLO' idea, at least.

Somehow, however, that saying couldn't rid him of the irksome happenings of his everyday life. His art-dealing business (and occasional acts of stealing) was better than ever this year. He had even more money, and he was one of the richest men that were currently living in the United States. But his good luck had one down side; the paper work. He would leave it all to his numerous workers and interns, but so much of it had to be dealt with so carefully… He just couldn't allow those buffoons to muck all of his hard work up.

"M... Mr. Kabra?" a timid voice asked.

"What?" he snapped, raising his head to glare at the woman standing nervously before him.

"I… I just wondered, if you were done with your coffee, perhaps I could refill it for you?"

"Yes, yes…" Ian waved a hand and brought his focus once again to the more important matters at hand. She left with his mug, not daring to say anything else. She had learned quickly not to irritate her boss, especially when he was like this.

Unfortunately, Daniel Cahill, who had been working for Ian longer than anyone else then, didn't seem to pick the message up.

No one knew why Dan had been able to hang on to his job when Ian fired worker after worker for their 'incompetence' so quickly and without mercy. After all, if anyone was incompetent, Dan was. It wasn't possible for him to be bribing Ian. He probably didn't get very good pay anyways, and a whole year's savings wouldn't move Ian. His wealth was far greater than that. Some wondered if his antics were simply an act, and that he was really Ian's right hand man, sworn to secrecy. Such theories were quickly dismissed and declared 'stupid'.

But whatever the reason, Dan was bound to get fired sooner or later, so when Ian's foul mood was so completely vile that day, they were certain that the time had come.

"MERRYYYYYYY CHRISTMAAAAAAAAS!" Dan bellowed in a deep voice that he normally did not use. "HO, HO, HO!"

Ian swore. "Don't tell me…"

Dan burst into Ian's office looking quite unlike himself. He was wearing a red suit trimmed with white fur, black boots, a shiny belt, and a soft red hat. He wore a fake white beard, and there was obviously a pillow stuffed into his coat to make him look fat. There was a velvet bag that he carried over his shoulder, and much to Ian's regret, he realized that Dan was dressed up as the Christmas character called Santa Clause.

The other employees started making bets on how long Dan would last.

"MERRY CHIRSTMAS, IAN KABRA!" Dan called cheerfully, still using his deep Santa Clause voice. "HO, HO, HO! What do you want for Christmas? Perhaps some chocolate? A nice teddy bear?"

A pin drop could have been heard in the silence that followed Dan's statement.

Ian stared at Dan for about seven seconds before he started yelling at him. "What are you THINKING? Who do you think I am, some silly Christmas lover?"

"I just thought-" Dan began, losing his Santa Clause voice.

"Nothing! You weren't thinking anything! How dare you barge into my office dressed as… as…" Ian looked Dan up and down, his face showing complete and utter disgust. "Dressed as some bloody fat man! And you offer me chocolate? And a teddy bear? I am a grown man, not a stupid child! How dare you!"

"B-but Ian!" Dan fumbled for an excuse. "It's Christmas! People do things like this! It's just to get a good laugh, you know?"

"You were trying to make a fool of me?"

"No, no! That came out wrong…"

Ian growled and gave an annoyed wave. "Oh, for goodness sake, take that stupid costume off!"

"But I haven't given out any presents yet!" Dan protested.

"Presents?" Ian asked skeptically. "Teddy bears for everyone, I suppose?"

Dan shuffled his feet nervously. "…Maybe."

"Oh, well, why don't you pass them out, then?"

"Really?" Dan perked up.

"No! Get out of here! Get out of those stupid clothes, throw away the stupid presents, and GET BACK TO WORK! Where's my coffee?" Ian stormed back into his office, and Dan took a few slow steps back before turning around.

"Huh, I wonder what his problem is," he shrugged.

Everyone else who had gathered to watch Dan get fired was amazed.

"Ha! You owe me a hundred, Fred!"

"But… How did he not…? I don't understand!" Fred stammered.

"There's something about Dan Cahill," his friend said with a shake of his head and a pat on Fred's back. "Now pay up."

Dan continued walking past the mumbling workers. He knew they didn't know how Dan could have passed Ian's wrath, but Dan just kept an aura of nonchalance. On the inside, however, he was shaking with his own rage.

How could Ian still hate Christmas so much? I thought that Christmas Gram last year would have softened him up!

Christmas had been Dan's favorite holiday for as long as he could remember. All of the presents, food, and candy were just the tip of the ice berg! He loved the snow, and played in it like a little kid whenever he could. The Carolers could sing the Christmas songs better then he could, and it was fun to dance to their music whenever they came by. And there was always the perk of playing an occasional prank on them! The decorations were another great part. Who wouldn't feel as jolly as old Saint Nicholas with a spectacular tree and bright lights?

Ian Kabra would.

Dan sighed as he pulled off his red coat and let the pillow that had been concealed by it tumble onto his desk. I still can't believe that the Christmas Gram didn't work last year. Dan had tried a few plans to get Ian to let in the Christmas spirit. When there was Christmas spirit, everyone was happy, didn't care if you were late for a job, and gave you a few days of free time to spend with your family. Was a little break so much to ask?

"Apparently, it is," Dan muttered to himself as he tore of his beard of cotton balls.

He had to put an end to Ian's loathing.

Later that night, Dan went to visit his good friend Hamilton. They'd been through a lot together, and Dan knew that he could complain to him about almost anything. And so that was exactly what Dan was planning to do now. He was fed up with Ian, and even if things would never change, at least he could vent to Hamilton about how unfair it all was.

"It's all just so unfair!" Dan cried. "He's always grumpy, especially around Christmas! And that's my favorite holiday, too."

"It's hard to not like Christmas," Hamilton agreed. "I mean, what with all the good food and presents going around…"

"Exactly!" Dan sighed. "I wish I could get him to like it, at least a little bit! You'd think he'd be greedy enough to enjoy the presents. I've tried everything, though. I sent him a Christmas gram with a bunch of singers, and I dressed up like Santa Clause. I was going to give him chocolate and a teddy bear!"

"Everything?" Hamilton laughed. "That's only two plans that I wouldn't expect to work, anyways!"

"Well, I don't know what else to do!" Dan sighed. "I'd just quit, but Amy would kill me if I had to go looking for another job. What would it take to fix him?"

Hamilton grinned, cracking his knuckles. "I'll be more than happy to help you straighten him out," he chuckled.

"Whoa, not that kind of straightening, Hammer!" Dan cried, eyes wide.

"What?" Hamilton asked. "But I thought you me wanted to…"

"No, no, I'm not that upset." Dan made a face. "I think." He shrugged. "Anyways, if we tried to beat him up... Well, if you did, then I think he'd just get more angry. Even if it would be funny to see him start crying."

Hamilton chuckled in agreement, then grew more serious. "This whole thing kind of reminds me of a show that I saw last night," he suddenly realized. "You know, 'A Christmas Carol'? Ian's like Scrooge, and you're kind of like Bob Crachit. Except you're not married and you don't have a crippled son…" He shook his head. "If only we could get ghosts to change him, like in the movie."

Dan leaped up. "Hamilton! You're a genius!"

"What?" Hamilton asked, confused once again.

"Ham, don't you see? We'll do our own Christmas Carol thing! We can get some people to help us out with it all. Dude, look, I can be one ghost, you can be another ghost, and we can get somebody else to be a third one! We'll be Past, Present, and Future!"

"Dan, I'm not sure this is going to work," Hamilton said doubtfully. "I mean, this is Ian we're talking about. He doesn't believe in ghosts. At least, I don't think he does. And he's not going to think we're ghosts- he'll recognize us!"

"That's why we have to wear costumes!" Dan grinned. "And we need special effects. You know how to do all that technical stuff, right?"

Hamilton shrugged uncomfortably."It depends on what you want..."

"Smoke, lights, eerie sounds, cold air..." Dan started to list. "You know, ghost stuff! And you know what? I bet I could get Natalie to fix us some costumes!"

Hamilton stared at him, silently concluding that Dan had finally gone mad.

Dan sighed at his friend's look. "Okay, so maybe we'll only be able to borrow them, but hey, she's nicer than Ian," he pointed out. "And maybe we can get her to be a ghost, too! This is going to be easy, man!" Dan gave a whoop of excitement and started strutting out of the room, congratulating himself for being so smart.

With a sigh, Hamilton got up and followed his friend reluctantly. "I'm really not liking this plan..."