At the Horton house, Jennifer received a text message from J.J. while gushing over the Christmas tree that Jack had picked out. "Sorry I've been out of reach, but I'm visiting Haley's mom in Chicago -- didn't want Melinda to be alone on Christmas. Please don't worry about me -- I'm okay," Jennifer read aloud for Jack's benefit.
"I [really] wish that we could see him and hug him...[but] at least we know where he is, [and that] he's safe," Jennifer mused as Jack started getting things ready for the Horton family's annual tree-trimming ceremony. Jennifer delighted in knowing that Jack would finally be able to personally hang an ornament on the tree again.
At the hospital, Justin and Kayla tried to solidify their dinner plans. "Victor is still raging at me for representing Ben Weston, and I really don't want him spoiling our first Christmas Eve together, and I know Roman invited us over to the pub --" Justin began to suggest. "No -- I am not crazy about that idea. I do not want to see Kate -- [that] would ruin [our] Christmas Eve, [too]," Kayla insisted.
Meanwhile, Abigail burst into J.J.'s room and started arguing that it was silly for a person to try to go through opioid withdrawals alone. "So, Julie opened her big mouth..." J.J. grumbled. "No, it wasn't Julie, actually -- it was Eli; he saw me this morning, [and] he could see that I was very worried about you --" Abigail clarified. "So, he decided to pile on by telling you your brother's a drug addict?" J.J. incredulously summarized. "No -- [he] told me [because] he knew that you would need the support [of] the people who love you the most -- your family," Abigail stressed.
"Now, we have to tell Mom and Dad the truth about this --" Abigail continued. "No, Abs -- we're not telling anyone I'm here!" J.J. insisted. "They're your parents, and they have a right to know what is going on with their son --" Abigail argued. "[But] they have a right to enjoy their holiday, [too -- I mean], Mom just came back to us after a year in a coma, [and] it's her and Dad's first Christmas together in...forever... I don't want to ruin it," J.J. reasoned. "They're not gonna enjoy their Christmas when they have no idea where their son is --" Abigail predicted. "I just texted Mom [earlier] -- relax," J.J. countered.
"If I found out [about this], they're gonna find out, too, [so]...if you don't tell them, then I'm going to," Abigail concluded with finality. "You're threatening me?" J.J. incredulously summarized. "If that's what it takes to get you to call them and tell them, then...yes -- I'm threatening you," Abigail unapologetically confirmed, prompting J.J. to grudgingly dial Jennifer's cell phone number.
"I'm really proud of you -- [I mean], that was not an easy call for you to make," Abigail stressed after J.J. ended the call. "Well, you were right -- they were gonna find out [eventually, so] it might as well be from me," J.J. conceded. "I just don't know how to tell [Mom] that I'm addicted to painkillers," J.J. continued. "We're gonna do it together," Abigail promised.
"And, you know, it's not gonna be a big surprise -- [and] I don't mean the drug thing; I just mean that, you know, [it's obvious that] you've been really struggling for a while [now]," Abigail continued. "I've pretty much been a mess since you got home from Paris," J.J. admitted. "With good reason -- [I mean, between] Haley and Mom..." Abigail acknowledged. "I fell apart," J.J. summarized with a shrug.
"[Was that] when you started taking the opioids?" Abigail wondered. "It wasn't long after I...I...I lost Haley -- um, I punched this wall, [and] I didn't tell anybody 'cause of how stupid it was, but I went to a clinic outside of town, and they said I was lucky enough not to need surgery, but it still hurt like hell, so I got a prescription for painkillers, and I kept refilling it...and [then], when I couldn't [anymore], I found other ways," J.J. explained. "[They] can be incredibly addictive," Abigail supportively acknowledged. "Yeah...[and] I knew it, too -- I've been around drugs enough to know how much they can mess you up -- [but]...I took 'em anyway," J.J. regretfully admitted.
Jack and Jennifer arrived just then, and J.J. awkwardly accepted hugs from both of them. "When I woke up [from my coma], I could see that something was off with you, and I'm so sorry I didn't pick up on it right away," Jennifer fretted. "You couldn't have known," J.J. insisted. "Well, we know now, [and] we're here for you," Jack stressed.
"There's more..." J.J. hesitantly admitted. "[And this is] especially hard to tell you, Mom, 'cause she's your friend, [but]...I tried to kill Kristen," J.J. continued.
"[And] that's the whole story -- I'm a junkie, and I tried to kill somebody," J.J. concluded with a sigh after elaborating. "The important thing is that you did not go through with it --" Jack argued. "But I wanted to -- so badly," J.J. regretfully countered. "I'm sorry [for that, and] I'm sorry I lied to you, [and] I'm sorry I couldn't face you... I'm sorry I exist," J.J. declared, horrifying the others, who each begged J.J. to never say anything like that again. "I'm scared -- [you know, of] the road ahead, [of] dragging you all along [on it] with me..." J.J. fretted, prompting the others to each stress that it would be an honor to help out.
At the makeshift palace, Gina pretended to be Hope, and Kate played along. Rafe acknowledged the obvious tension between them. "Hope called and asked me to come over --" Kate coolly began to explain. "[Because] I need to question her [to] see if she knew anything about this place -- [after all], Stefano considered her one of his trusted confidantes, so if anyone would know whether he was here with Rolf, it would be [her]," Gina continued for Kate. "Right... [But] if she came here to answer your questions voluntarily, then why were the two of you fighting?" Rafe countered.
"I think you misread the situation -- there was no fighting; Kate just got very defensive when I asked her about Stefano," Gina claimed. "[Because] everyone knows I hate Stefano -- [or], apparently, [everyone] except for...for Hope, who has been harassing me with asinine questions and ignorant assumptions," Kate summarized.
Rafe started to ask more questions, but Gina quickly interrupted, pointing out that someone had reported an attempted robbery at the mall earlier. "That's already been ruled a false alarm by the officers on the scene --" Rafe started to reveal. "Yeah, well, just make sure, okay? There are a lot of last-minute shoppers out there today," Gina countered, and Rafe reluctantly agreed.
"Ugh -- that was tedious," Gina grumbled as soon as the coast was clear. "Okay, well, it wasn't a picnic for me, either," Kate stressed. "[Look], I just want to know what to tell Stefano, because he wants to come back [here]," Kate continued. "And I already told you -- he cannot, [because], thanks to Rolf, this place is now crawling with cops," Gina reiterated.
"Okay, well, he can't stay with me, either, because if anyone catches him there with Steve Johnson's face, then all of us are gonna go down," Kate pointed out. "I do not have time to solve Stefano's housing problems -- I have my own living situation to resolve," Gina complained. "Because John threw you out on your royal ass?" Kate knowingly summarized.
"You've been talking to Marlena," Gina realized. "She expressed concerns about Hope developing feelings for her husband, but I told her not to be concerned, because John would never choose you -- [even] if you were the last fake princess on earth," Kate declared. "You are the one who is fake -- being the loyal, trusted friend to Marlena [and] offering [her] your sympathy and support [while] knowing that Stefano and I are trying to break up her marriage," Gina countered. "Don't push it, princess, 'cause I could bring you and your little plan right to the ground [anytime]," Kate warned before storming off.
At the Brady Pub, Marlena continued knocking on the door to Kate's bedroom and calling out expressions of concern, unaware that someone else was hiding in there. "My queen..." Stefano excitedly muttered before rushing over to the door and reaching out to open it, desperate to see Marlena. "What am I thinking? Marlena can't see me like this..." Stefano quietly conceded after glancing at a wall-mounted mirror next to the door. Meanwhile, Marlena tried the knob and realized that the door wasn't locked. "I don't want to intrude, but I need to make sure she's all right..." Marlena reasoned before slowly starting to open the door.
Stefano watched from the bathroom as Marlena stepped into the bedroom and started looking around. "That's odd -- Roman said she was here..." Marlena mused. "Well, maybe I'll just leave her a note..." Marlena decided before starting to walk over to the desk, where Stefano's phoenix ring was sitting right next to a pen and a notepad.
Justin arrived just then, stopping Marlena from spotting the ring. "Unfortunately, [Kate's] not here -- uh, Roman said she wasn't feeling too well," Marlena reported. "Oh. Forgive my lack of sympathy -- I'm not a member of the Kate Roberts Fan Club," Justin admitted before telling Marlena about what had happened between Kate and Kayla the previous night. "When I see Kate, I will suggest that she keep her opinions to herself [in the future]," Marlena promised. "Thank you. I know Steve's been gone for a while now, [but] he's still a very sensitive subject for Kayla -- especially after the way he abandoned her," Justin stressed as Stefano listened with great interest.
"[After] years of being married to John while he was in the ISA, I know [that] things [sometimes] happen that we just aren't able to understand -- [that] people can sometimes disappear, and the rest of us don't get to know what happened," Marlena diplomatically acknowledged. "Steve could have sworn Kayla to secrecy and told her what was going on, [but instead, he] kept her in limbo for months [with] no phone calls [then just] sent her signed divorce papers, [and then] he didn't even show up for Adrienne's funeral -- [just] sent a signed, generic sympathy card -- [so], as far as I'm concerned, [he] can go straight to hell," Justin bitterly countered.
After Justin left, Marlena resumed the task of leaving a note for Kate -- and immediately recognized the ring as Stefano's, prompting a shudder of concern.
Justin ran into Kate outside the pub and demanded an explanation for what had happened with Kayla the previous night. "Maybe I just don't like your girlfriend," Kate summarized, shrugging unapologetically. "Leave Kayla alone! God knows you're in no position to judge anyone!" Justin countered before storming off.
Kate scoffed indignantly then entered the pub and headed upstairs. "What are you doing with this?" Marlena demanded to know when Kate entered the bedroom. "After Andre died, it just ended up with me," Kate explained with an innocent shrug. "Oh, of course -- that makes perfect sense... I'm -- I'm so sorry to be so accusatory; [it's just that] I've been frightened that Stefano might be back in Salem," Marlena admitted.
"[Anyway], Roman said you weren't feeling very well, [so I just] came to check on you -- [and] to drop off your Christmas gift," Marlena explained, gesturing to a gift bag on the bed. "Hope you feel better," Marlena stressed before starting to leave. "Actually...I'm feeling guilty," Kate admitted, stopping Marlena. "Why?" Marlena asked curiously. "Because...I...don't have a gift for you..." Kate hesitantly replied. "Your friendship is a gift to me," Marlena warmly declared, inadvertently making Kate feel even worse. Kate fought back tears while accepting a hug from Marlena. "I'm probably contagious..." Kate suggested, prompting Marlena to rush off.
"Really? You leave the door [unlocked, and your] ring out in the open? What, are you crazy?" Kate snapped at Stefano once the coast was clear. "I can hardly believe my Queen of the Night was just here... I heard her voice, I saw her face... It took everything in my power not to reach out to her," Stefano admitted with a sigh, ignoring Kate's outrage.
Justin returned to the hospital and told Kayla about what had just happened. Kayla appreciated Justin's help but still didn't want to deal with Kate, so the couple decided to have a private dinner at their place.
At the police station, Rafe curiously observed that it looked like someone had slept in Hope's office the previous night. "John asked me to move out of the townhouse," Gina explained, pretending to be Hope again. "Why?" Rafe wondered. "I don't know -- maybe, after being gone so many months, Marlena wanted John to herself... Understandable," Gina reasoned, forcing out the last word.
"Huh... Okay, well, anyway, uh, if you have nowhere else to go, you're more than welcome to stay with me," Rafe offered. "Thank you...[but] I've made other plans," Gina replied. "Oh, that's right -- uh, when's your flight?" Rafe asked. "Flight?" Gina repeated, confused. "You said you were going to Hong Kong [to] see Shawn and Belle for Christmas," Rafe recalled. "I did say that..." Gina conceded. "[So]...was that not true?" Rafe wondered. "Of course it was true...at the time...[but] with everything that's been going on -- [you know], the manhunt for Rolf and Stefano -- I decided it was best for me to stay here," Gina explained.
"Why am I justifying any of this? Ugh! It's none of your business!" Gina continued, more as a personal admonishment than anything else. "You okay?" Rafe asked. "I'm fine...[but] I'm [also] your ex-wife," Gina replied.
At the Evans-Black townhouse, John and Abe continued trying to make sense of Celeste's claim that Stefano was -- and also wasn't -- in Salem.
"[So...what, he's here] spiritually, like a ghost?" Abe suggested. "[Or maybe he's had] plastic surgery -- [I mean], that would fit Celeste's premonition, [if he] is back in the sense that [his] body is here, but he's got a new face. [And] take it from me -- plastic surgery is [definitely] in his bag of dirty tricks. Maybe he just figured [that] the only way that he could come back to Salem undetected was if he just...goes for it," John reasoned. "[But he's] probably the vainest man I've ever met, [and] I cannot imagine that [he] would want to go through life with someone else's face," Abe argued.
Abe suggested getting Hope's take on the matter, prompting John to hesitantly reveal that things had gotten a bit awkward with Hope recently. "I feel really bad for not seeing what was going on -- [I mean], Doc saw it right away -- [but] everything's cool now," John stressed at the end of the explanation. "Well, I'm glad to hear that," Abe declared.
Changing the subject, Abe wondered if John and Marlena had made any special plans for the night. "Paul's in, uh, Chicago with his mom, [so] I'm gonna shoot [over] there and visit them, but Doc and I are gonna have an early Christmas Eve dinner [first], so if you stick around, you can join us --" John replied. "I would love to, but I have a flight to catch," Abe pointed out. "Oh, that's right -- you're gonna visit Theo," John recalled. "He is completely recovered [and] thriving -- he's...he's made a whole new life for himself in South Africa," Abe proudly reported when asked.
"While I'm there, [I'll] check in with Celeste and see if I can get [more] insight into what's going on with Stefano," Abe teasingly promised. "I can't wait..." John sarcastically declared.
Shortly after Abe left, Marlena returned and told John about what had just happened. "Being [in Kate's room, with that ring], gave me the creeps; [it] was like I could feel Stefano around me..." Marlena admitted, shuddering.
The Hortons trim the Christmas tree
As Hattie decorated the Christmas tree in the recreation room at the prison, a guard handed her a gift bag. Hattie examined the contents as a cheerful Eve skipped into the room. "I just heard from Justin. I'm getting out of this hellhole. Merry Christmas to me!" Eve said. When the guard returned, he told Hattie that she was getting out. "I'm getting out now?" Hattie asked in disbelief. After a dance, Hattie followed the guard down the hallway.
Doug lit the lights on the Horton family Christmas tree, and he playfully chided a distracted Julie for not correcting his lighting work. "What's bothering you?" Doug asked. "I have been keeping the most terrible secret, Doug. I'm just afraid it is going to ruin Christmas," Julie confessed.
In the hospital, Jennifer fussed over J.J. "I would worry less if you were honest with me. No more secrets, okay?" Jennifer said. J.J. nodded yes. J.J. admitted that Julie had also known about his drug problem. Jennifer called Julie, and she assured Julie that she was not angry with Julie for keeping J.J.'s secret.
"We all know now, and J.J. is going to get the help he needs," Jennifer said. Julie said she knew that it was a difficult time, but she hoped Jennifer and J.J. could attend the party. Jennifer "promised to try." When Julie ended the call, she shouted, "Hallelujah! The secret is out!" Julie turned her attention to the tree and said, "About those lights." Doug smiled.
At the hospital, Jennifer told Jack, J.J., and Abigail that she had spoken to Julie. "[Julie] is just so relieved that everything is out in the open," Jennifer said. J.J. apologized for ruining Jack and Jennifer's first Christmas back together. Jack assured J.J. that there was no place they would rather be than with him. "No. I'm not going to let that happen," J.J. said. J.J. ordered his family to go to the party and leave him at the hospital alone. Jack reminded J.J. that Jack had said the same thing the previous year.
"The two of you are the greatest gift your mother and I could possibly give each other. What kind of Scrooge would I be if I sent you away right now?" Jack had said the previous year. That night, J.J. had played his guitar, and Jack and Abigail had sung Jennifer's favorite carol, "O Come All Ye Faithful." J.J. smiled at the memory. Jack threatened to sing again if J.J. sent them away. J.J. said that he refused to spend another Christmas in the hospital, so he suggested that they all go to the Horton party.
In the Kiriakis living room, Xander overheard Maggie saying goodbye to Sarah on the phone as he walked in. Xander wanted to call Sarah back to say hello, but Maggie warned him that Sarah would not answer her phone because she was about to meet with Mackenzie's doctor.
"I know how much you miss them, Xander, but there is no need to overcompensate with expensive gifts. Positive thoughts and prayers will do Mickey far more good," Maggie said. Xander complained that the only thing he could do was offer thoughts and prayers because Eric had shut him out of Mackenzie's life. Maggie said that she believed that Eric was wrong to shut Xander out of Mackenzie's life. Maggie stressed that though Sarah agreed with her, Sarah needed to focus on the baby and not mediate between Xander and Eric.
With a sigh, Maggie announced that she was headed over to the Horton house for the tree-trimming ceremony. Maggie invited Xander to join her. "No one should be alone on Christmas Eve," Maggie said. Xander politely declined, but he offered Maggie his driver so that she did not have to deal with the icy roads. "Merry Christmas," Maggie said as she hugged Xander.
After Maggie left, Xander thought about the previous Christmas when Sarah had still been pregnant. Xander had worn a Santa hat. Sarah had laughed and joked that she had tripped over all the presents Xander had put in the room. "I just want this angel to come into the world with the best of everything," Xander had said. Xander had promised to make sure that Sarah's child's wishes would come true. Sarah noted that Xander did not look like Santa Claus, and he explained that he was the Greek version, Ayios Vasileios.
"You do remember that you are not actually this baby's father, right?" Sarah had asked. Xander winced at the memory. Xander poured a stiff drink then called Sarah's phone. When Xander heard Sarah's voicemail message, he ended the call. "No. No added stress. You promised you'd put Sarah and Mickey first," Xander said. Xander thought about the previous Christmas again, when he and Sarah had discussed keeping the truth about Mackenzie from Eric.
"I'm really scared," Sarah had said. "I know. But you don't have to be. I'm going to be there for you and the baby every step of the way," Xander had promised. Xander looked at a photo of him, Sarah, and Mackenzie on his phone, then poured another drink. Xander thought about the previous Christmas when Sarah had apologized for not getting Xander a gift.
"I have but one Christmas wish. That this time next year, you and I and this little one won't be a lie we have to sell anymore because we will be a real family," Xander had said. Sarah had hugged Xander. Upset at the memory, Xander said, "I should have known that Christmas wishes don't come true for us blokes on the naughty list."
At the DiMera house, Chad read A Christmas Carol to his children. Chad noticed Gabi standing in the doorway. "Hey, kids. Look it. There's a Scrooge right there. Wave hi to Scrooge," Chad joked. Thomas pointed out that Gabi was not a Scrooge because she was a girl. Chad disagreed and pointed out that the description of Scrooge in the story was "miserly and mean." Gabi told the kids that their father was mad because she was going to get Kristen's stock shares, and Chad was going to get a lump of coal for Christmas.
Chad told the kids it was time to go to the Horton house, and he noted that they would see Gabi and Arianna there. Gabi corrected Chad and said that Arianna was not going because she was staying with Sonny. Chad reminded Gabi that in the story, Scrooge was shown the error of his ways and was transformed into a better person.
"All I can hope, for the sake of everyone who has ever had the misfortune of being in your orbit, is that that [Christmas] ghost, Gabi, decides to pay you a little visit one day," Chad said. With a smirk, Chad escorted his children out of the house as Gabi scowled. Gabi sat down with a drink. When Eli walked in, Gabi noted that she had fought with Chad, and she asked if they could stay in instead of going to the Horton house.
"I am not about to let Chad keep us from taking part in my family's tradition. Besides, you are my grandma's favorite person ever since you gave her Stefan's heart. Her heart would be broken if you didn't show up," Eli said. Gabi agreed to go. Eli handed Gabi a present. Gabi opened the box to find a framed pair of fortune cookie fortunes. Gabi thought back to the previous Christmas when she had run into Eli in the square. Eli had said he had not wanted to go to the Horton party because he preferred to just be in the square and mope about Lani.
"What are you up to tonight?" Eli had asked. Gabi had told Eli that she had declined an invitation to Rafe's house because she had not wanted her brother to "fuss over the widow DiMera." Gabi had told Eli that Arianna was with Will and Sonny and that she intended to go home and order too much Chinese food. Gabi had asked Eli to help her eat all the food.
"I cannot believe that you saved our fortunes from that meal," Gabi said as she looked at her present. "It turned out to be an important night, although neither of us knew it at the time," Eli said. "Dinner with a friend that turned out to be something more. A lot more," Gabi said as she kissed Eli.
When Chad arrived at the Horton house, Julie greeted him warmly. Chad explained that Abigail was at the hospital with J.J and her parents. Julie nodded and told Chad that she had spoken with Jennifer. "Fingers crossed that they do make it," Julie said. Julie changed the subject to Gabi, and she asked Chad if he and Gabi could put their differences aside for the night. Chad said he did not think he could.
"Gabi is out of control. First, she tried to destroy my wife. Now she is after my family's legacy," Chad said. Julie said she understood because she had hated Gabi more than anyone before her heart attack. "It took Gabi giving me the gift of life to see that she had changed. Darling, how can you not see that?" Julie asked.
While Chad talked to Maggie, Julie took Doug aside and worried aloud that no one else would show up for the tree-trimming party. "It's all falling apart!" Julie said. Doug assured Julie that the family tradition would be fine and that people would arrive soon. Right on cue, the doorbell rang. Julie ran to the door and found J.J., Abigail, Jack, and Jennifer.
"It's tradition! And you don't mess with tradition in this family," Jennifer yelled with a chuckle. Everyone joined Chad, Maggie, and the kids in the living room. J.J. took Julie aside to thank her for her love and support. "I am very aware that the steps to get me here today are the beginning of a long journey," J.J. said.
Across the room, Chad told Abigail that he was thankful she had shown up so that he did not have to hear Julie talk about "how much of a saint Gabi is all night." Abigail groaned and admitted she had forgotten that Eli and Gabi would be at the party. "Maybe they won't show," Chad said right as Julie escorted Eli and Gabi into the room. Eli and J.J. wished one another a Merry Christmas. While Eli went to chat with Jennifer, Gabi asked J.J. how he was doing.
"I'm sorry that you had to see me like this on Christmas again," J.J. said. "Don't be. Are you kidding me? You're surrounded by people that love you. That's why I know that you are going to get through this," Gabi said. J.J. thanked Gabi for believing in him. While J.J. walked to the corner to help Thomas track Santa on a phone app, Eli asked Gabi about J.J.
"He's hurting. Like where we were last year," Gabi said. "There's no telling what dark place I'd be in if you hadn't brought love back into my life," Eli said. "And you into mine," Gabi agreed. Chad and Abigail walked over, and a defensive Eli warned them not to pick a fight. "You're right," Abigail agreed. Abigail thanked Eli and Gabi for what they had done for her brother.
"We're really glad to have you here," Chad said. "Me, too," Abigail agreed. Relieved, Eli and Gabi both smiled. Julie announced that it was time to decorate the tree. Julie hung Tom's ornament on the tree, and she explained to Thomas that Tom was her grandfather, and Thomas' namesake. Julie and Doug then hung their ornaments on the tree. Everyone took turns hanging ornaments, including Maggie, who hung Mackenzie's new ornament.
"Get well, my little girl," Maggie whispered. When it was Eli's turn, he hung David's ornament on the tree. "You'll always be in our hearts," Eli said. Across the room, Julie asked if Gabi would hang her ornament near hers. "I feel so close to you. I feel so grateful. Not only did you give me your husband's heart so that I could live, you opened your heart. That's the true meaning of Christmas, and I hope everyone here can do the same," Julie said. Chad and Abigail exchanged a look.
"Bah humbug!" Eve said as she walked in. Jack started to speak to Eve, and she walked past him and embraced Abigail. "It was your commitment to truth that set me free. But your parents, on the other hand, are responsible for the travesty of justice which led to my incarceration, and for that, yes, they will pay," Eve announced. Eve called Jack a hypocrite. Julie warned Eve to stop talking.
"I lost a whole year of my life because of Jack and Jennifer," Eve said. Eve added that she had a special gift for everyone. As Eve reached into her purse, a nervous Eli rushed over. Eve warned Eli to back off as she pulled a plane ticket out of her purse. Eve announced that she was leaving Salem for good. "I can't wait to get away from the bunch of you losers," Eve said. Eve added, "Jennifer, I hope you and Jack get exactly what you deserve." Eve stomped out.
When Eli and Gabi returned home, Eli noted, "I really thought Eve was going to pull out a gun. I almost tackled her." Worried, Gabi asked Eli never to put himself between anyone and a bullet. Eli promised Gabi that he was not going anywhere. Eli picked up his framed gift from the table and handed it to Gabi.
"You will love somebody and they will change you. Read yours," Gabi said. "You will love somebody and they will change you," Eli read. Gabi wondered aloud what the odds were that she and Eli would have gotten the same fortune in their fortune cookies. "Probably the same odds as a man like me ending up with a woman like you. One in a million," Eli said. Gabi kissed Eli.
Downstairs, Abigail pointed out that Chad had been very civil to Gabi and Eli at the party. "I told you, Julie read me the riot act. I don't want to talk about them anymore," Chad said. Chad told Abigail that he wanted to snuggle up next to her in bed before anyone descended the chimney and ruined their night. With a giggle, Abigail kissed Chad.
Outside the penthouse, Hattie hesitated before she knocked on Marlena's door. "Before I went to prison, you said you owed me big time for saving your life, so I'm going to be holding you to that," Hattie said. Hattie knocked on the door.
At the Horton house, Doug informed Julie that J.J. was settled in his room upstairs. "Thank you, my darling, for your faith and your love. Always," Julie said. Doug and Julie kissed. Across the room, Jack and Jennifer talked about how nice it was to have the family together. "Best Christmas Eve ever," Jack agreed. Doug and Julie joined Jack and Jennifer by the tree.
In the Kiriakis mansion living room, Maggie carried in a plate of cookies for Xander, but he was no longer there. Maggie saw the Santa hat on Mackenzie's teddy bear. "Ho ho ho," Maggie said.
In Boston, Sarah opened her hotel room door to find Xander in the hallway. Sarah smiled. "I hitched a ride with Ayios Vasileios. I just had to see my two favorite girls. Merry Christmas, Sarah," Xander said.
Stefano finds a way to get close to Marlena
Kayla went to the Brady Pub to see Roman, who was in the process of baking a bunch of pecan pies to take over to the hospital as a gesture of appreciation for everything that the staff had done to help Mackenzie. "Mom's recipe?" Kayla assumed. "Do you really have to ask?" Roman confirmed.
After briefly chatting with Roman about Mackenzie's first treatment -- which, according to both Eric and Sarah, the child had handled very well -- Kayla changed the subject, commenting on the "help wanted" sign that was hanging in one of the pub's windows. "Is it too much to hope for that Kate is on her way out?" Kayla wondered. "No, Kate's not going anywhere...but I do have to replace a waitress who quit [because, apparently], she and Kate had a little problem," Roman clarified. "Hmm. Imagine that..." Kayla muttered.
"I know there's never been any love lost between you and Kate, but I didn't think you had a problem with her working here," Roman admitted. "I didn't...until..." Kayla began before telling Roman about the recent encounter with Kate. "God, that woman can be so damn insensitive..." Roman acknowledged with a sigh after hearing the whole story. "Had I known [about this], I wouldn't have invited her to the hospital Christmas party..." Roman continued. "Are you two seeing each other?" Kayla wondered, groaning at the thought. "No, no -- definitely not..." Roman insisted.
"But I do think Kate is having a relationship with somebody..." Roman revealed. "Well, I'm gonna be too busy supervising the party to worry about Kate," Kayla declared. "[You know], I really don't know why she got to me [in the first place] -- I always think of myself as having thicker skin..." Kayla continued. "[Yeah, but between] not having Joey or Steph here [for the holidays], and the way things ended with Steve..." Roman began to reason. "Yeah -- this time of year certainly intensifies the feelings, [both] good and bad, [and] I'm sure that's why Kate got to me..." Kayla agreed.
"Steve Johnson is an idiot, [and] I would love to strangle him for what he's put you through...[but] you've got another love now," Roman stressed. "And I'm grateful for that...[but] it's different for Justin -- [I mean], his wife is dead, [so] he knows that the love of his life is gone [forever, and] he also knows [that] she would want him to be happy [and] find love again...[and that means he's] free to fully love me... I mean, he misses Adrienne, [but] he's not wondering what she's doing, or what she's thinking, or if she still loves him..." Kayla argued.
"You think that, uh, Steve still loves you, in spite of the fact [that] he signed the divorce papers, [and] in spite of the fact [that] he hasn't contacted you in months?" Roman somewhat incredulously summarized. "Sadly, I do... [Look, people don't just share a] love like Steve and I shared [and then just have it] end with no reason -- [I mean], we were so in love when he left, and now there are times that I feel, when I am with Justin, that I am cheating on Steve, and it is a horrible feeling...[and] I'm not sure it's really fair to Justin, either," Kayla admitted.
"Have you and Justin talked about this?" Roman wondered. "No -- you are the first person that I have said one word to about it," Kayla confessed. "[And] he's gonna be at the party tonight?" Roman assumed. "No -- he went to Arizona to be with his kids...[since], you know, it's the first Christmas since Adrienne died..." Kayla clarified. "Okay... [Well], I think [that], in time, this guilt about Steve, [and] wondering what he's doing, and thinking, [and] all of that -- I think you're gonna get past that, [and] you're gonna be able to relax and appreciate what you and Justin have," Roman predicted. "I hope so..." Kayla replied with a sigh.
Meanwhile, in Kate's bedroom, Stefano finished sealing a gift box. "What's that?" Kate asked. "A Christmas gift...for Marlena," Stefano replied.
"I hope you don't think I'm going to play Santa for you, because I'm not...and I'm also not keeping you company today, because I have, uh, plans -- with Roman," Kate warned. "Slumming it, are we?" Stefano joked. "I am not involved with Roman, all right? He's playing Santa at the hospital holiday party, and I'm going to help him," Kate clarified.
"The faux piety of those people makes me dyspeptic," Stefano dismissively declared. "It happens to be a really lovely party -- Ari loves it, which makes me happy, [and] all of the staff shows up, even if they have the day off --" Kate defensively began to argue. "All of the staff?" Stefano repeated, suddenly interested. "Would that include...Marlena?" Stefano wondered. "Yes -- most definitely," Kate confirmed. "[And] if you want me to keep helping you, [then] you better not get any ideas, [because] John and Marlena have [already] had enough grief from that Princess Whatever-Her-Name-Is, [and] they don't need another interloper," Kate stressed.
"How did you manage to procure [that gift for Marlena], anyway?" Kate wondered. "My ability to move about has been constrained by my new face, but I still have my ways," Stefano bragged. "Too bad it's not Halloween instead of Christmas, right?" Kate joked before rushing off. "Yes -- too bad..." Stefano agreed before sneakily following Kate out of the bedroom.
John entered the Evans-Black townhouse and called out a holiday greeting. "I know I said I wasn't [going] to be home until [this] afternoon, [but] Paul and his mom, they got an early flight to San Francisco, [so] I shot right home so we could spend the whole afternoon together..." John explained. "Okay, what's with the silent treatment? [Are you] upset that I didn't spend Christmas Eve with you, sweetheart? [Because, you know], you were the one who encouraged me to see Paul while he was in the city..." John continued. "Are you even listening to me?" John wondered.
"No, I'm not listening -- [and] I'm not even Marlena!" Hattie, who was trying to read a magazine, snapped. "Hattie Adams?" John realized, recoiling in disgust.
"What the hell are you doing here? You're supposed to be in prison!" John protested. "Well, I got out on good behavior...[or] maybe it was overcrowding... Anyway, the point is, I'm free!" Hattie cheerfully explained. "No, the point is, what the hell are you doing [here], sitting on my couch, in my wife's robe and slippers? [I mean...what, did you] just bust in here and make yourself at home?" John impatiently demanded to know. "No! Unlike some people, I have manners! I was invited -- [by] Dr. Marlena Evans!" Hattie clarified. "And, by the way, the mattress in your guest room is really hard!" Hattie complained.
While passing through Horton Town Square with David, Evan spotted Sonny -- and Arianna, who was pouting. "You already got a scooter, [a] tea set, [a] dollhouse... You don't need a mini racetrack, [too]," Sonny insisted, refusing to give in to Arianna's demand. "Sounds like someone was a very good girl [this year]," Evan observed. "She's bucking for next year's naughty list, [though]," Sonny warned.
"Is Rafe at home, uh, putting toys together?" Sonny wondered. "Actually, he's working today -- you know, with Stefano DiMera on the loose," Evan clarified.
"But that didn't stop this little guy from insisting that we go see Santa -- even though I tried to tell him that this is Santa's day off after his big night," Evan continued. "Well, actually, I do know a Santa that's working today...and Ari and I are going to see him at the hospital right now -- and we're gonna thank him for the gifts that we did get, and not ask him for the ones we didn't, right?" Sonny revealed, adding the last part for Arianna's benefit. "The hospital?" Evan curiously repeated, prompting Sonny to explain the tradition.
"Do you and David want to join us?" Sonny eventually asked Evan, who had clearly been hoping for an invitation.
At Statesville, Will received an unexpected visitor. "I just -- I couldn't stand the thought of you here, alone, on Christmas," Ciara explained. "That's, uh...that's really sweet of you...um, but...this is, like, the first time you've visited me, so...I have to ask -- um, what are you really doing here?" Will countered. "Okay, fine, you got me -- um, I may have had an ulterior motive for coming in today...[but that doesn't mean] that I didn't want to see you; [it's just that] I also needed a cover story..." Ciara admitted before telling Will about what had happened with Victor.
"It's okay -- I think my ego can take [this]," Will stressed at the end of Ciara's tale. "So, how are you gonna actually see Ben?" Will wondered. "Well, that part required a little bit of work and a little bit of help..." Ciara began to explain. "From a friend," Marlena concluded for Ciara while stepping into the visitor's lounge.
"What a happy coincidence!" Marlena pointedly mused, greeting Will with a smile. "So nice of you to come and visit my grandson!" Marlena continued, speaking to Ciara. "Ah -- [so], you're not here to see me," Will summarized for Marlena, playing along. "Well, [seeing you is] sort of, uh, a fringe benefit...[but] I'm actually here to, uh...to see my former patient," Marlena clarified -- just as Ben entered the visitor's lounge. "What a nice surprise," Ben said to Marlena while eyeing Ciara. "I hope you're doing well. Merry Christmas," Ciara said to Ben -- stiffly, but with a sly wink.
Ben chatted briefly with Marlena then claimed an unoccupied table at the back of the visitor's lounge. Ciara waited a few seconds then casually walked over to Ben's table, clearing room for Marlena at Will's table. "If we [are going to continue to] see each other, we [are going to] need to get a little bit more creative," Ciara explained to Ben with a shrug.
Meanwhile, Marlena fretted about Will's safety, having heard that Clyde's latest stint in solitary confinement had already ended. "You don't have to worry, because, uh, Ben is looking out for me," Will assured Marlena, who was somewhat surprised to hear that. "It's...kind of crazy, I know...but you were right -- [Ben's] not a danger to anyone [anymore], and...actually, he's become...quite a...friend...in here," Will admitted. "Wow... Well, um, I'm glad to hear that...especially since you asked Sonny not to come and see you -- [although] I'm hoping that [Kate] was successful [in urging you to] fight for your marriage," Marlena replied.
"Um...I actually asked Sonny for a divorce," Will revealed. "I didn't want to, [but] I don't have another choice, Grandma -- I killed his mom, and as hard as we try, we're...we're never gonna get past that...and I...I love [him] enough to tell him to be happy and live the life he deserves...without me," Will explained with a shrug.
"Kate never should have told you that another man had feelings for Sonny --" Marlena began to complain. "No -- I'm...I'm glad that she did," Will insisted. "[But] you don't have all the facts -- I mean, just because somebody else has feelings for Sonny, [that] --" Marlena tried to argue. "Does not mean that Sonny reciprocates those feelings," Will concluded for Marlena.
"I know...and, you know, Sonny told me that he didn't initiate the kiss, and that he...he sees the other guy just as a friend --" Will continued. "Then why the divorce?" Marlena wondered. "Because he deserves to have a choice, [and] if he decides -- you know, somewhere down the line -- that he wants something more with that guy, I'm not gonna stand in his way," Will reasoned.
"Are you sure about this?" Marlena asked. "I am," Will replied. "Okay...[then] I will respect your decision [and] trust that you know what's best for you," Marlena promised. "I...I do... [Of course, that] doesn't mean that, um, I'm happy about it...um...but I realize that there's nothing I can do to make up for what I took from him and his family, so...the least I can do is stay out of the way and let him live his life," Will summarized with a shrug. "[Look], if you happen to see Sonny [today], can you tell him..." Will began to request. "Anything!" Marlena agreed. "Uh..." Will continued, apparently weighing various options. "Merry Christmas," Will decided, sighing.
After Marlena left the prison, Will started to leave the visitor's lounge to give Ciara and Ben some privacy, but the couple objected. "I couldn't help but overhear you telling Marlena about Sonny. I'm really sorry," Ciara stressed. "Uh...thanks... [But] it is Christmas, [so] I would really prefer to talk about something positive -- like you two," Will replied. "I truly think it's incredible that you managed to stay together while Ben's in here -- I mean, I know it's been a challenge..." Will continued while fidgeting with his wedding band, which he was still wearing.
"I, uh -- I probably shouldn't be asking you this, especially because of everything that you've been going through, [but]...see that guard over there?" Ciara began. "Say no more -- I'm your man," Will promised. "I'm actually a master at subterfuge when it comes to bringing together two people in love..." Will bragged while wistfully recalling the time that Sonny had received a special visit from Santa at the hospital while unhappily married to Leo. Will swallowed hard, shaking off the memory, then proceeded to distract the guard long enough for Ciara and Ben to share a kiss.
At the hospital, Kate spotted Sonny with Evan. "What are you doing, parading around Salem with this manny when you know that Will is trying to work on his marriage with you?" Kate demanded to know. "First of all, his name is Evan...and second of all, that's not what Will told me," Sonny countered. "Oh, really? Because I know that he asked you to come see him, so if he didn't tell you to stay away from this creep, then what did he do?" Kate wondered. "Um...he gave me my Christmas present -- a divorce," Sonny revealed, stunning Kate.
"If you hadn't interfered, none of this would be happening! Will told me he's filing for divorce because of your visit!" Sonny snapped. "Well, you sure don't seem heartbroken over it, Sonny," Kate observed. "I'll go --" Evan interjected. "No -- please, don't," Sonny protested, grabbing Evan's right arm -- a gesture that didn't escape Kate's notice.
"Merry Christmas, everybody!" Marlena cheerfully declared while approaching the group. "Says who?" Kate grumbled. "Something wrong?" Marlena assumed. "What isn't?" Kate complained.
Meanwhile, Stefano exited a nearby elevator, wearing a Santa costume that had been stolen from Roman earlier. "Oh, the indignities one endures for love..." Stefano grumbled, eyeing Marlena longingly.
Later, while Kayla was reading the Christmas story to the hospital's youngest patients, Stefano sneaked a gift box into Marlena's purse.
After Kayla finished reading the Christmas story, Stefano grudgingly handed out gifts to the kids -- and tried to flirt with Marlena a bit in the process. Kayla watched, assuming that Roman was posing as Santa -- and was surprised when memories of Steve's times as Santa suddenly surfaced. Stefano quickly finished handing out the gifts after noticing that Marlena had disappeared. Stefano rushed off in search of Marlena, and Kayla followed -- and Kate watched the whole scene unfold. Seconds later, Roman emerged from an elevator and informed Kate that the Santa costume was missing from the Brady Pub.
"Steve, is that you?" Kayla began after catching up with Stefano outside Marlena's office.
After leaving the hospital, Sonny and Evan passed through the town square together, with Arianna and David in tow. "I don't know how I'm gonna tell her that Will and I are getting divorced," Sonny admitted to Evan while Arianna was coveting some items in a nearby store's window. "You don't have to do it today, you know?" Evan reasoned, placing a hand on Sonny's right knee.
Arianna soon returned and pointedly forced Sonny and Evan apart in order to sit between them on the bench they had claimed. "Why don't we go sledding today?" Sonny suggested, clearly including Evan and David in the invitation. "No," Arianna replied. "Why not?" Sonny wondered. "I want to go with Daddy Will," Arianna explained. "Sweetheart, you know that Daddy Will can't go right now," Sonny argued. "Then I'll wait until he can," Arianna insisted with finality. "Maybe another time?" Sonny awkwardly said to Evan, who nodded in response. Arianna scowled while watching Evan leave with David.
Kate helps Stefano get away from Kayla
As Xander was preparing to leave a Boston hotel, Sarah returned from a nearby hospital.
"You're still here," Sarah observed. "You were hoping I left?" Xander assumed with a sigh. "[Well, I mean, staying] here all night [is] not exactly the best way to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas --" Sarah began to reason. "[Right] -- 'cause it's so much better at home, worrying and wondering and waiting..." Xander sarcastically countered, and Sarah conceded the point.
"I'm really glad that you made this trip," Sarah assured Xander with a smile before stepping into the bathroom to take a shower.
When Sarah emerged from the bathroom a short time later, Xander was putting the finishing touches on a candlelit dinner for two. "My favorite -- how did you know?" Sarah asked after seeing what was on the menu. "I pay attention," Xander replied with a shrug. "You're amazing... I mean, you went above and beyond when you pretended to be Mickey's father, and [now], here you are, back at it again -- you made a trip that you never needed to make, and... I don't know what to say except...thank you," Sarah raved, and Xander nodded in response.
Later, Xander gave Sarah a Christmas gift -- a tennis bracelet. "It's lovely!" Sarah declared, stunned. "It belonged to my mum. She wore it every day -- swore it warded off sickness..." Xander explained. "[Then] it's a family heirloom... Are you sure?" Sarah protested. "Oh, there's no one I'd rather have wear it," Xander insisted. "Then I'm gonna cherish it...and I'll wear it every day," Sarah promised.
"I, uh...I've held onto it for so long -- all these years -- and I kept it safe in this, uh...this lockbox..." Xander casually revealed while producing a cell phone and loading a digital photograph of the lockbox. "Oh, that's so funny -- it looks exactly like the one that Ciara had," Sarah innocently observed, confirming Xander's suspicion.
Just then, Eric unexpectedly summoned Sarah back to the hospital via text message for a conversation with Mackenzie's doctors. Xander wanted to stick around but decided to head back to Salem so Sarah wouldn't have to worry about incurring Eric's wrath. Xander put the tennis bracelet on Sarah's wrist and offered a hug of support then rushed off. Sarah smiled while watching Xander walk away.
Brady went to Eric's apartment to see Nicole and Holly, who were still living there. "I thought you were visiting Tate," Nicole admitted. "Well, the big guy and I, we had a lot of fun...but Theresa had some big plans for him -- [and], honestly, I found myself thinking about you and Holly alone at Christmastime, and I didn't like it, so I flew home [early]," Brady explained. "You're the best," Nicole raved.
"And you brought a gift, [too]? You shouldn't have!" Nicole continued while eyeing the wrapped box that Brady was carrying. "Um...I didn't -- [I found this] outside your door," Brady clarified before handing Nicole the attached card. "It's from Eric!" Nicole realized with a hopeful smile. "Brady, this is the Christmas miracle I've been praying for -- Eric's found it in his heart to forgive me! [You know], I thought I was gonna [have to] spend the rest of my life making up for this, [but] Eric is the most compassionate, loving man I know, [and] the power of forgiveness [and] the power of our love [is] strong enough to overcome anything!" Nicole continued.
Nicole's smile faded after opening the card and realizing that the gift was for Holly -- and Holly alone. "I am such a fool!" Nicole declared with a groan. "Nicole, give Eric some time -- his daughter is fighting for her life right now," Brady advised. "And I'm making it all about me," Nicole concluded for Brady, groaning again. "No, you're not; you love him, and you want to be there for him -- that's all," Brady reasoned. "But he won't let me -- and why should he? I mean, I -- I -- I lied to him, and I kept his daughter from him, and now...she could... [So], why would he forgive me -- [and] how can I even forgive myself?" Nicole fretted.
Later, Nicole thanked Brady for having spent some time playing with Holly, and the exes reminisced about their time on the run in Canada. "Ugh -- Brady, this is not the holiday I planned..." Nicole eventually admitted. "I can't tell you how long [I spent] planning this Christmas for Kristen and our little girl..." Brady wistfully mused. "I'm sorry you lost your daughter...[but] I'm not sorry Kristen left town -- [I mean], after all the pain she put you through, I was so afraid that she would break this big heart of yours all over again," Nicole stressed. "You haven't heard," Brady realized before telling Nicole about Kristen's new life in Rome.
Marlena left the hospital and rushed home after receiving a phone call from John. "I didn't, uh...expect you to be back from seeing Paul quite so soon," Marlena admitted after greeting John with a kiss. "Oh, I gathered that -- as soon as I walked in here and saw Hattie Adams making herself right at home. I think you have a little explaining to do," John countered.
"Hattie showed up on our doorstep on Christmas Eve, [having just been] released from prison, [and] she had no place to go... I couldn't turn her away," Marlena explained with a shrug. "That's because you're kindhearted and generous," John conceded. "And, normally, I wouldn't ever question any of your decisions, [but] you gave me a lot of grief when I asked Hope to move in here without checking in with you first --" John continued. "Well, now, that's not fair -- that isn't the same thing! I -- I mean, Hattie is here on a temporary basis, and -- and she doesn't have a crush on you!" Marlena argued.
"You got that right!" Hattie confirmed, joining John and Marlena in the living room. "Oh -- uh, I found this in the guest room closet, [and] I figured it was sort of out of circulation, so maybe you wouldn't mind if I gave it a go," Hattie explained while modeling a dress that Susan would be much more likely to wear than Marlena. "Well, it...suits you..." Marlena kindly declared. "In fact, uh, um...why don't you keep it? Think of it as, uh -- as, uh, a Christmas present," Marlena decided. "Oh, Dr. Evans, you are so nice to me!" Hattie raved, delighted.
"You pretended to be me to protect me when I was in a coma, [and] John and I will always be grateful for that," Marlena stressed. "What she said," John grudgingly agreed. "It's just the kind of thing that a [person] does for a friend, you know?" Hattie reasoned with a shrug. "And...yeah, I mean, I suppose that my life [was being] threatened, and I was in...in danger, and I was really scared part of the time...but I think this dress just makes up for [all of that]!" Hattie continued. "I'm glad you like it. [Now], would you like some Christmas cookies -- or...or some Champagne?" Marlena replied, and John resisted the urge to object.
"That sounds, uh...really good, and awfully nice of you, but...I'm just thinking that...that, um...you know, you two might want some alone time, so...I'll just, uh...I'll just...be on my own for a while..." Hattie declared before starting to leave the townhouse. "Where are you off to?" John -- who, like Marlena, was quite surprised -- wondered. "Uh, I, um...I...I thought I'd go look at the Christmas decorations... Yeah, that's it -- Christmas decorations..." Hattie claimed. "It's cold out there -- wear a coat," Marlena advised, handing a coat to Hattie.
"Should we warn Roman that she's coming?" Marlena suggested to John with a knowing laugh after Hattie left. "What good would it do? She's gonna track him down no matter where he is," John predicted with a scoff.
"You're not upset, uh, about Hattie?" Marlena asked. "Oh, come on -- I can never be upset with you...[and] besides, it's Christmas," John replied before changing the subject, ready to exchange gifts with Marlena.
"Come on -- aren't you ready to dive in and see what Santa got you?" John curiously protested when Marlena didn't immediately jump at the chance to exchange gifts. "Uh...yeah...sure... [It's just]...I guess I was just thinking about Will, and how Santa's never gonna bring him what he wants..." Marlena explained with a sigh. "[So], your prison visit didn't go that well?" John assumed. "Well, it went pretty well in one respect -- uh, because Ciara had a chance to see Ben without Victor finding out --" Marlena began to summarize. "That's one determined young lady," John interjected.
"[But] Ben is down to his last appeal, with an execution date looming, [so] it's too bad she's got a clock on [her efforts to prove his innocence]... On the other hand, Will -- his future is not so dire," John continued, obviously trying to make Marlena feel better. "Yeah... [I just] wish he could see it that way... It was just heartbreaking to be with him, you know? [I mean], he's so sad -- [so] lost -- [and] now...he's...talking about divorcing Sonny," Marlena continued explaining. "After everything they survived to be together?" John incredulously replied.
"I'm sorry to hear that," John stressed. "I know -- I am, too," Marlena agreed. "[But] Kate told Will that Sonny was hanging around with Evan --" Marlena continued explaining. "David's nanny?" John recalled. "Yeah... [Anyway], I imagine she was trying to...to light a fire under Will and make him fight for Sonny, but it had the opposite effect, you know? He's...he's just given up, [right] when he needs help more than ever," Marlena finally concluded. "Ugh. You know, I know that Kate's your friend, but that woman sure gets it wrong a lot, doesn't she?" John mused with a shake of the head.
At the hospital, Stefano squirmed nervously as Kayla continued talking. "I sense that it's you, [Steve] -- please...turn around and look at me," Kayla begged, placing a hand on Stefano's right shoulder.
Just then, Kayla's cell phone chimed. "I have to go, [but]...please...stay here -- will...will you do that? I will be right back!" Kayla said before rushing off.
Relieved, Stefano started to rush off in the opposite direction -- but Kate arrived just then, having realized what had happened to the Santa costume that had gone missing from the Brady Pub. "I told you to stay put -- [and to] stay away from Marlena! What are you thinking, Stefano? You have always been smarter than this!" Kate snapped. "You know how I am drawn to her -- you know that -- and it's been too long!" Stefano explained. "The feeling isn't mutual, okay? [Look], just get out -- you need to leave [now], before Kayla gets back! And you're welcome, [by the way] -- I am the one who [paged] her," Kate countered.
"Get your ass out --" Kate impatiently began to repeat when Stefano didn't immediately budge. "No! You do not give me orders, Katerina!" Stefano roared. "I'm trying to help you --" Kate tried to explain. "No one tells Stefano DiMera what to do -- no one!" Stefano maintained. "You are making a mistake --" Kate began to warn. "I know what I am doing!" Stefano dismissively insisted. "And I am so tired of this charade -- I'm tired of living in another man's body! It's time for me to get what I came for -- Marlena!" Stefano continued.
When Kayla returned to Marlena's office a short time later, Kate was still there -- alone.
"What are you doing here?" Kayla demanded to know. "I'm looking for Marlena so I can thank her for her Christmas gift," Kate explained. "What happened to that Santa that was here? Did you see him?" Kayla asked. "I don't know what you're talking about -- the office was empty when I arrived, so..." Kate replied. "He was just here -- I followed him from the Christmas party!" Kayla protested. "Okay, so...what are you doing -- stalking Santa?" Kate teasingly summarized. "Roman was supposed to be the Santa, but that was not Roman," Kayla tiredly clarified.
"Well, I just talked to your brother, [and] the man managed to lose his Santa suit, so he called in a sub, and... [Look], rather than obsessing over this, you should go home to Justin and celebrate what's left of Christmas --" Kate declared. "I am not 'obsessing' -- and I am also not leaving here until I find out who that Santa was!" Kayla stressed. "Why? [I mean], the Christmas party is over, [and] all Santas [are] the same --" Kate argued. "Not this one -- I think it was Steve," Kayla countered.
"Okay, so...you think that your former husband has come back to Salem to play Santa, [when] he didn't come back for his divorce or his sister's funeral..." Kate incredulously summarized. "I know it doesn't make any sense, [but] when he walked past me --" Kayla tried to explain. "Kayla, it's the holidays... You know, maybe...maybe you were feeling nostalgic [and] thinking about Steve -- thinking about him playing...what, uh, 'Patchy Claus,' was it? [And besides, if that really was] Steve playing Santa [earlier], why wasn't he wearing an eye patch?" Kate argued, and Kayla grudgingly conceded the point.
Hattie entered the Brady Pub and approached Roman, who was still trying to make sense of what had happened earlier. "Sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you at the party, but, uh...you know, somebody stole my Santa Claus suit! Who in the hell does that?" Roman began. "I don't know, but I'd much rather see you in your birthday suit, anyway!" Hattie declared. "Oh, my God -- you're not Marlena," Roman realized with a groan. "Christmas came early for you, Roman Brady, because Hattie Adams is back in town!" Hattie excitedly confirmed.
"So, uh...I'm sure ya got big plans now that you're out, huh? So, where ya headed? [Let me guess] -- someplace sunny, like Florida?" Roman asked hopefully while filling two glasses with beer and handing one to Hattie. "Well, uh...of course, it -- it's warm there...but I don't have any friends there..." Hattie replied, flashing Roman a flirtatious smile. "Oh, no... [So], you're...you're thinking of...staying [here]?" Roman realized, groaning again. "Yeah!" Hattie confirmed, oblivious to Roman's disappointment.
"[And] I've been staying with Marlena -- just temporarily, you know, [because] I saved her life -- [but] I don't want to impose on her, so...I guess [what] I'm thinking [is that] what I should do [is] get a place to live [and] a job -- and, lucky for us, you are hiring!" Hattie continued. "About that... You know, I tell ya, I got so many applications... I -- I got so many applications, I can't handle 'em..." Roman claimed. "Yeah? Well, then, why do you have your sign in the window still?" Hattie countered. "Well, um...you know, maybe it's 'cause I just haven't hired anybody yet..." Roman explained, squirming.
"And besides that...you know what, Hattie? I don't think this is a good fit for you -- [I mean], you are a woman of many talents, and I think there are bigger and better things out there for you than being here," Roman continued. "[So], when you needed my help to save Marlena, you were my best pal, [but now], all of a sudden, when I need a little help gettin' back on my feet, [you're telling me], 'Sorry -- [and] don't let the door hit you in the butt!'" Hattie summarized. "You're right -- you really did help save Marlena's life, and I am very grateful -- so...if you want the job, it's yours," Roman grudgingly conceded, and Hattie immediately accepted.
"[But] you're gonna have to work with Kate," Roman warned while trying to escape from Hattie's tight hug of gratitude. "Katie? Are you kidding me? Katie and I used to sling slop together back at the old diner [down] by the water! [Oh, this'll] be great -- we'll...we'll be a great team!" Hattie raved. "[Oh -- and, by the way], if you ever want a little demonstration of some of those talents [you mentioned earlier]..." Hattie suggestively offered.
Meanwhile, Stefano sneaked back up to Kate's bedroom. "Humiliation -- the Phoenix, paraded around like a fat, fictitious elf..." Stefano grumbled while removing the Santa costume. "But it served its purpose -- breathing the same air as my queen -- [and] who knows -- at this very moment, she might be opening my gift..." Stefano continued, grinning at the thought.
At the Evans-Black townhouse, Marlena discovered Stefano's gift. "What is this?" Marlena asked excitedly, showing the gift box to John. "Don't look at me," John replied with a shrug of confusion.
Marlena opened the gift box and found an ornate black-onyx brooch inside -- as well as a note that drew a gasp of concern. "A token of my undying love -- 'S'..." Marlena shakily read aloud to John, who was also troubled.
"If we're lucky, we might be able to pull some prints off of this..." John mused while inspecting the brooch with the help of a handkerchief. "[So], you do think it's from Stefano?" Marlena assumed. "A jet-black jewel to match his dark heart," John summarized. "[But] how the hell did this get in your purse?" John wondered. "Uh...my purse was searched when I went into the prison, [and] it wasn't there then..." Marlena recalled. "[But] then I went to the hospital Christmas party... What if he were there then -- what if...what if he was watching me [there]? No, no, no -- I would have noticed him, I would have seen him..." Marlena continued.
"If he looked like Stefano," John agreed. "[But] what if he didn't?" John suggested before telling Marlena about Celeste's cryptic claim that Stefano was -- and also wasn't -- in Salem. "Stefano is too vain ever to change his appearance," Marlena argued. "Abraham said the same thing, but...what if his 'love' for you is stronger than his vanity?" John countered.
Meanwhile, Hattie burst into Kate's bedroom to share the good news about Roman's latest business decision -- while Stefano was the only person inside.
Hattie talks to Stefano
Outside the Kiriakis mansion, Nicole and Brady talked about Holly's Christmas. Brady apologized for not going inside the mansion, but he explained that he had not wanted to run into Victor. Nicole asked if they could get a drink so that she could avoid spending the holiday in Eric's apartment.
At the Salem Inn, Kristen and Lani unpacked their bags. Lani was surprised that Kristen had packed their nun dresses, but Kristen explained that the outfits might be useful to keep people disarmed by their appearance in town. "Especially Gabi," Kristen added. Kristen said she was confident that she could neutralize Gabi and disarm Julie's pacemaker.
In the DiMera mansion library, Chad, Abigail, Eli, and Gabi sipped drinks and talked about Christmas. Abigail pushed Gabi's buttons by mentioning an incident where Arianna had given Charlotte's new doll a haircut.
"You could always just buy her a wig. You know, you do have some experience in that department. My bad," Gabi shot back. Gabi added that Thomas had stabbed a toy and ruined Arianna's therapy coloring books. Eli quietly reminded Gabi that Thomas had spilled the glue by accident, and Gabi whispered that she knew that. Annoyed, Abigail said she would buy a new book for Arianna.
"I would be so honored to contribute to Arianna's...therapy," Abigail said. "What is that supposed to mean?" Gabi asked. With a smirk, Abigail explained that she had meant that Arianna had not had the easiest childhood. Abigail then pointedly suggested that Gabi should get a haircut like the one on Charlotte's doll. As Gabi gritted her teeth, Eli encouraged her to let it go. Gabi fumed but held her tongue.
"How much are you going to let her get away with?" Abigail muttered to Chad. Chad's phone rang. It was Kristen. Chad pretended that it was Jennifer calling. Kristen caught the hint, and she asked Chad to meet with her in the park about the stock shares. When Chad ended the call, he lied and said that Charlotte was asking for her new doll. Chad said that he and Abigail needed to take the doll over to Charlotte's sleepover.
At the Salem Inn, Lani complained that she had to wait to get her revenge on Gabi. "How long do I have to hide away while Gabi gets everything that she wants?" Lani yelled as Kristen dressed in her nun's dress. Kristen urged Lani to have patience. "If only I could disarm that pacemaker, then I could blow that bitch out of the water," Lani muttered. Kristen asked Lani to stay put in the room, and she left. "Like hell I'm staying put," Lani said. Lani grabbed her nun's habit and changed clothes.
After Abigail and Chad left the DiMera mansion, an irate Gabi asked Eli if Abigail had threatened to cut her hair. Eli shook his head no, and said, "I don't think she meant it." Gabi complained that one of Abigail's personalities was crazy enough to cut her hair. Eli reminded Gabi that she was in power and to remain calm. Nervous, Gabi said she did not think she could wait until after Christmas to make a deal with Kristen. Eli rubbed Gabi's shoulders, and he suggested that he distract her. "We have the whole house to ourselves," Eli said.
After Eli and Gabi headed upstairs to put Arianna to bed, Lani sneaked into the house through the tunnels. "Now if I can just find a way to neutralize that app on Gabi's phone and take away her control on Julie's pacemaker, I can finally crush her and tell Eli the truth about why I left him," Lani said as she rifled through the desk. Lani heard laughter in the foyer, and she ducked into a closet to hide as Gabi and Eli returned to the library.
"Easiest bedtime ever," Gabi said. "And more alone time for us," Eli added as he poured drinks. Eli said Gabi was the only Christmas present he wanted. Gabi and Eli kissed. Lani peeked out of her hiding place and watched Gabi and Eli make out. "I don't know where I'd be without you, Eli," Gabi said. Gabi thanked Eli for reminding her that Kristen's shares were not the most important thing in her life.
"You phony bitch. Since when did you develop a conscience?" Lani thought as she listened from her hiding place. "You saved me, too. When Lani ripped out my heart and left me at the altar, you were there for me. I honestly don't know how I would have gotten over her if it wasn't for you," Eli said. Eli added that he felt like he and Gabi had always been "meant to be."
"If it wasn't for Lani, we never would have broken up in the first place," Eli pointed out. In her hiding place, Lani rolled her eyes. "Now Lani has found her man, and I have you," Gabi said. Eli told Gabi that he loved her, and she told Eli that she loved him. Eli and Gabi kissed, and she suggested that they go upstairs. After they left, Lani crept out of her hiding place.
"God, I hate her," Lani growled. While Gabi and Eli made love upstairs, Lani left the house and walked to the square. Lani saw the Gabi Chic store, and she thought about what Gabi had said in the living room. Enraged, Lani grabbed a potted plant and threw it through the store window. The alarm blared.
In the park, Kristen met up with Chad and Abigail. Abigail gasped when she saw Kristen in the nun's habit. Chad embraced his sister warmly. "Let's talk about how I can get you to sell those shares to me instead of Gabi," Chad said. "Not so fast," Kristen countered. Kristen explained that she had not made up her mind whether to sell her shares. Worried, Chad asked Kristen if she was thinking about selling her shares to Gabi.
"Gabi did make me an offer, and I haven't ruled it out yet," Kristen admitted. Chad was surprised. "I'm waiting for a sign from God," Kristen said. Chad laughed. "What does God have to do with a company built by Stefano DiMera?" Chad asked. Kristen said she had dedicated her life to her father, and she wanted to dedicate her life to her "Heavenly Father." Chad said that though he admired Kristen's faith, he wanted Kristen to remember what Gabi had done to the family.
"It's true, but my faith tells me that I need to leave my decision to the almighty, and for the greater good, I need to keep our sister-in-law in the mix for now," Kristen said. Abigail noted that if Kristen sold her shares to Gabi, it would shift control of the company to Gabi. Chad added that Gabi had already told him that she intended to fire Chad and the board of directors.
"[Gabi] is drunk with power, and her only goal is to rid DiMera Enterprises of DiMeras," Chad said. Kristen said she would pray and "see what God wants." With a sigh, Chad blurted out, "And what about what Father wants?" Kristen gasped, and she asked if Stefano was involved with Chad's plans. "Father and I, we've been in touch recently," Chad admitted. Chad explained that Stefano had urged him to take control of Kristen's shares to retake the company.
"So, the Phoenix is alive and well," Kristen said. "And insisting on discretion and driving Gabi out," Chad added. Kristen pointed out that Gabi was a part of the family. "Stefan is gone, and so is Gabi's conscience," Abigail insisted. Chad argued that Gabi did not have a right to be the head of the family company. Chad asked Kristen to work with him to get rid of Gabi.
"I will consider that. It is nice to hear that Father is alive and well, though," Kristen said. As Kristen turned to leave, Chad asked Kristen for an answer. Kristen promised to speak to Chad soon, and she left. Abigail urged Chad to call Stefano and ask him to talk to Kristen directly. "This is Kristen. There is more to this than she is letting on," Chad said.
Kate returned to the pub, and Roman was surprised to see her. "I thought you were upstairs," Roman said. Kate said she had stayed behind to help clean up after the party. Kate noticed the help wanted sign on the bar. "Who'd you find to take the job?" Kate asked. "I don't want to freak you out, okay?" Roman said.
Roman informed Kate that he had hired Hattie to work in the pub. Kate was upset. "I know it's an unconventional hire, but Hattie did me a favor a couple years ago when we almost pulled the plug on Marlena," Roman said. "You are way too nice a person. We are going to have to work on that," Kate said. When Kate asked for details, Roman mentioned that Hattie was upstairs.
Hattie was surprised to see "Steve" in Kate's room above the pub. Stefano was elated to see who he thought was Marlena. Confused, Hattie noted that it was strange to find "Patch" in Kate's room. Stefano chuckled.
"Allow me to clear one thing up from the start. I am not Patch," Stefano said. "It's true, Marlena. I'm not who you think I am," Stefano added. Hattie admitted that she was not Marlena, either. Stefano furrowed his brow.
"Stefano promised me the moon and the stars if I would just look like his Queen of the Night. I'm glad that old geezer is gone," Hattie said. Stefano's smile fell away. Hattie asked about "Patch's" real identity.
Downstairs, a nervous Kate asked Roman how long Hattie had been upstairs. Roman shrugged, and he wondered aloud why Hattie had not returned, since Kate was not there. Kate announced that she would go up and say hello to Hattie.
Nicole and Brady walked in, and they asked Roman about Mackenzie. Roman said that the doctors were hopeful. "He sure does love that little girl," Roman said. Nicole apologized for keeping the baby's paternity a secret, but Roman told her that the issue was between her and Eric. With a smile, Roman took drink orders and returned to the bar. Nicole asked Brady if he was okay with her having a drink, and Brady assured her it was fine. Brady asked Nicole if she was okay hearing about Eric and Mackenzie.
"It has been a bittersweet day. Seeing how excited Holly was about Christmas was wonderful, but knowing Eric's daughter is in Boston, fighting for her life, and I can't be there," Nicole said with a shrug. "It's hard," Brady said. Nicole told Brady that having him with her helped her. "I know there [are] a lot of Christmas miracles. Mine this year is having a real friend like you," Nicole said. Brady said he felt the same way.
After Roman dropped off the drinks, Nicole sighed happily after her first sip, then she apologized to Brady. "It's okay. Actually, I don't really miss it," Brady admitted. Brady toasted to not missing alcohol and to Basic Black. "They said it couldn't be done," Brady said. Nicole noted that everyone underestimated her and Brady as a team. "They always do," Brady agreed.
"I never knew how liberating being fired from Titan could actually be, but Basic Black has been a very good distraction for me," Brady said. Nicole told Brady that she did not understand how he could have fallen for Kristen a second time after all Kristen had done. Nicole quickly apologized, but Brady said it was okay.
"I've asked myself the same question millions of times," Brady said. Brady admitted that his feelings for Kristen were complicated. With a shake of his head, Brady said he thought the death of his and Kristen's daughter had destroyed Kristen mentally. "Until she joined a convent," Nicole reminded Brady. Brady said he hoped Kristen had found inner peace. Nicole said that despite the nun's habit, she believed Kristen was likely still only interested in helping herself.
"I know. She has hurt more people in this town than we could probably count, but she is trying to atone for her sins," Brady said. Nicole suggested they change the subject, and she apologized for bringing up Brady's ex. "I'm glad. If there is anybody in this town that I can talk openly with, it's you," Brady said. Nicole said she felt the same way.
Upstairs, Stefano started to explain what he meant when he had said he was not Patch, but Kate rushed in and interrupted. "I can explain that! This isn't Patch. This is Steve. He no longer goes by the name Patch," Kate said. With a chuckle, Hattie said that made sense, since "Steve" no longer wore an eyepatch. Hattie asked about the patch. "Steve" explained that a doctor at the ISA had restored his eye to working order.
"I'm kind of wondering why you're holed up here in Katie's room," Hattie said. "Steve" explained that Kate was his cover for a mission with the ISA. "That's why you have that fake accent," Hattie pointed out. "Steve" nodded yes. "Steve" explained that the mission was top secret and that no one but Hattie and Kate knew that he was in town. "No. Roman knows," Hattie said. Kate noted that Roman had agreed to let "Steve" use the room as a safe house. "Steve" asked Hattie not to talk to anyone, including Roman, about the situation.
"Roman already knows. Why would I not say anything to Roman?" Hattie asked. Kate explained that Roman had entrusted her to keep the secret and that if Hattie spoke to Roman, he would fire her for betraying his trust. Hattie promised not to endanger Kate's job. As a precaution, "Steve" asked Hattie not to talk to anyone, or else she might suffer repercussions from the ISA for treason.
"We could go to jail. All three of us," Kate said. Alarmed, Hattie yelled, "I can't go back to jail!" Hattie promised to keep the secret. Kate ushered Hattie out the door then asked Stefano why he had let Hattie into the room. Stefano explained that Hattie had walked in on her own, and he had thought Hattie had been Marlena. Kate warned Stefano that he was lucky and that he needed to avoid Marlena. Kate told Stefano that Hattie would likely keep their secret. "If she makes a slip, all bets are off," Stefano grumbled.
Hattie greeted Roman downstairs, and she asked when she started work. "I think Katie and I are going to make a really good team," Hattie said. Roman asked Hattie if she had spoken to Kate upstairs. "I did, and I think we came to an understanding. Wink. Wink," Hattie said. Confused, Roman raised an eyebrow. Hattie promised her lips were sealed. Roman asked Hattie what she was talking about. "I can't tell you that," Hattie mumbled through closed lips.
As Nicole and Brady left the pub, arm in arm, Kristen saw them. With a scowl, she followed them. Brady walked Nicole back to Eric's apartment. In the hallway, Nicole thanked Brady for making her Christmas "merry and bright." Brady thanked Nicole for brightening his day, as well. Nicole pulled Brady in for a kiss. "No, no, no," Brady said as he pushed Nicole into the apartment, kissing and laughing, and he slammed the door behind them. Kristen stood in the hallway, nostrils flaring with rage.