All I Want For Christmas
The door to the Snack J slammed shut. “Scrooge,” Keyop muttered to no one in particular.
“Keyop? Is that you?” Princess called from the kitchen.
“What’s wrong? Where’s Jason?” Princess said as she walked out to the counter. “I thought he was going to help you pick out a tree.”
“He … did.”
“Then where is it? Why didn’t he come in with you?”
“Tree’s … outside. He … left.”
“Why did he leave? I thought he was going to stay here with the rest of us tonight.”
“Fight … with Mark. Said ... see you ... tomorrow.”
Annoyed, Princess said, “Those two. They’re always fighting about something. What was it this time?”
“Santa,” Keyop said as he flopped down on one of the bar stools.
“They fought about Santa?”
“Yeah. Don’t ... know how it ... started.”
Mark and Tiny walked in with Chief Anderson. “Hello, Princess, Keyop. Where’s Jason?” the Chief asked.
Crossing his arms and turning his back, Keyop replied, “Ask ... Mark.”
Startled, Mark asked, “How would I know where he is?”
“Keyop said that you and Jason were fighting about Santa,” Princess said.
The others turned to look at Mark, who replied, “He insisted on perpetuating the idea that Santa Claus is real. Everybody knows he isn’t. It was a stupid argument.”
Princess put her arm around Keyop, who looked like he was about to cry, and then glared at Mark. “Mark! How could you?” She steered Keyop up the stairs toward his room.
“Yeah, Mark. You know that Keyop still believes in Santa. Jason just plays along with him. Is it too much to ask that you do the same?” Tiny asked.
“He’s old enough to know better. What do you think, Chief?” Mark inquired.
“Oh, no you don’t. I’m not getting into this,” Chief Anderson responded as he went to sit down.
Princess came back downstairs. “Mark, this is the one time of the year that Keyop looks forward too. Jason plays along with the charade. Why can’t you?”
“Keyop is old enough to know better.”
“So it’s all right to hurt his feelings?” Mark didn’t reply. “I was hoping that we all would be here tonight, but you ruined that, didn’t you?”
The rest of the evening was quiet. Tiny was able to get Keyop out of his room long enough for dinner and Mark got the cold shoulder from his teammates. The Chief just pretended that nothing was wrong. It was especially quiet as they decorated the Christmas tree.
After everyone else had turned in for the night, Princess got up to fill Keyop’s stocking. She looked up in time to see Jason sneak in the front door.
“And how, may I ask, did you get in?” she inquired.
“You need better locks,” came the bemused reply. “What are you still doing up?”
“Playing Santa. I thought you weren’t coming.”
“I didn’t want to let Keyop down. Besides, who said I have to talk to Scrooge?”
Princess sat down on the couch and pulled Jason down with her. “Remember how you used to sit up with me when we were kids waiting for Santa?”
“Someone had to keep Mark and Tiny from making fun of you.”
“My hero. You’d make hot chocolate and we’d talk and eat all of the Christmas cookies. We never do that any more.”
“We talk all the time and you can make your own hot chocolate whenever you want. You seem to have forgotten that the Chief used to yell at us for eating all the cookies.”
“Now who’s being a scrooge?”
“I have a reputation to uphold.”
Princess snuggled up to Jason. “What do you want for Christmas, Jase?”
“Zoltar’s head on a plate.” He got smacked upside the head for that response.
“Be serious! What do you want?”
He considered it for a moment before replying. “An end to the war and a chance to have a real life.”
“You don’t ask for much, do you?”
“I’m always on the ‘naughty’ list. I might as well ask for something I won’t get anyway.”
“We’ll see about that. What’s in the bag?”
“You actually bought Christmas presents?”
“No, I’m moonlighting as an elf.”
“You’re incorrigible. Since you’re so full of it tonight, why don’t you make us some hot chocolate?”
“Why don’t you make the hot chocolate? Even you can’t screw that up.” He laughed as he caught Princess’s hand as she was about to hit him. He narrowly blocked her other hand. “OK, OK. I’ll make hot chocolate. You wouldn’t happen to have any Christmas cookies, would you?”
“I do unless Tiny found them.”
As Jason went to make their hot chocolate, Princess finished filling Keyop’s stocking. She placed the rest of the presents under the tree and found her gift to Jason. “I think I’ll give this to him tonight.”
“Here you go, Ms. Claus. You need more marshmallows.”
Princess took the steaming mug from Jason’s hand. “Ouch. That’s hot.”
“Well, it is hot chocolate. If it wasn’t hot, all you would have is chocolate milk with marshmallows floating in it.”
“Bah humbug, to you too,” she replied. Jason just grinned at her. “Here. This is for you.”
“What is it?” he asked suspiciously.
“It’s your Christmas present, silly.”
“Uh huh. Weren’t you listening? I’m on the naughty list, remember?”
“Don’t give me that. Open it.”
Jason sat cross-legged on the floor by the tree and very carefully started to remove the wrapping paper from the gift knowing how it drove Princess crazy.
“Jason, open the present!”
“I am,” he said as he tried to look innocent, but failed miserably. After removing the paper, he sat looking at a large photo album. He looked up at Princess. “What’s this for?”
“Just look at it.”
Jason shrugged and started to turn the pages slowly, taking in the images on each. “Where did you get these?” he asked quietly. The pictures in the front of the book were when they were little, maybe seven or eight years old.
“Oh, I had a little help.” Princess sat on the floor next to Jason as he flipped pages and looked at the photographs.
“I remember when this was taken,” he said as they looked at a picture of the team. “We had just gotten fitted for our birdstyles. Right after that, Tiny gained 20 pounds and Mark and I grew two inches. The designers had to start all over.”
They continued to look at the pictures and reminisce until early into the morning. When they finished, the first rays of sunlight were starting to peak over the horizon. “Merry Christmas, Princess.”
“Merry Christmas, Jase. We may not be able to have a normal life, but at least for now, we can have a little peace.” As soon at the words were out of her mouth, Keyop came barreling down the stairs.
Jason snickered. “You were saying?”
“Santa was ... here!” He slid to stop when he saw Jason and Princess sitting on the floor by the tree. “No ... fair. You got started ... before everyone else.”
“Santa wanted Jason to open his gift early,” Princess said.
“Yeah, shorty. Since I only got one, he didn’t want it to get lost in your loot.” He started to laugh as Keyop tackled him.