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Santa

Santa
by Hayley May

Rating: G
Warning: *very* unbeta-ed <vbg>
Warning: Fluffy, very fluffy. Hey, it's Christmas! <g>
I know I've already written something for this challenge, but I got a vague idea and it refused to go away. Then when I was looking through a list of Christmas songs and carols, I found one song, and it all seemed to fit... kind of. <g>
This story is a one of a kind. I have *never* written something so fast (started Monday night, finished Tuesday morning) and the only reason it took me two days was because there just weren't enough hours in the first day and I needed some sleep. <g> I never expected this story to be even half as long as this.

*-*-*

Part One

"Ah, Hannibal, why'd I have to do it?"

Hannibal smirked, tipping his head down to light his cigar. "Because, kid, you're the only one who can."

Face stared at the Colonel, his mind spinning as he desperately tried to think of another option.

"What about you?"

"Can't, someone's gotta keep order and be on the look out for Decker."

"Well, why can't you let me do that then?"

Hannibal just grinned at him.

"Too dangerous. There're too many good looking women around, you'll get distracted, and anyway, I'm pulling rank."

Glaring, Face didn't like the way Hannibal's eyes were gleaming, but he got the impression there was no way he was going to get anywhere with this line of argument.

"Okay, what about Murdock then? Get him to do it."

"He can't."

"Why not?"

"He's already dressed up."

"Dressed up? What as? An elf?!"

Hannibal's eyes gleamed.

Face groaned. "You're serious? Murdock? An elf? W-what were you thinking?"

Hannibal shrugged. "He volunteered for the job and anyway, he's got the legs for the tights."

"Tights?!"

"Yeah, nice festive green ones. Tawnia's dressing up too. They look pretty cute in their outfits. They'll be your little helpers."

"But, Hannibal..."

"No, buts, Lieutenant. There's no way you're getting out of this one. We owe the store after that little run in we had with Decker last time we were here. This is the least we can do."

"But..."

"Look, kid, the children want Santa, so we're going to give them Santa and you're gonna be him. BA would love to do it, but he can't, so it's you. Now stop whining, put that beard and hat on and get out there to the children. You don't want to let them down, do you now? That would just ruin Christmas for them."

Face sighed. He didn't want to ruin Christmas for the hundreds of screaming kids he knew would be coming through the store that day, but that didn't necessarily mean the wanted to have them all climb on his knee either. But it looked as if there was no other choice.

"Okay, Hannibal, I'll do it."

Hannibal grinned, clasping the red padded shoulder of the younger guy's Santa suit. "And you'll be great. Just remember, smile, be cheerful and say ho, ho, ho."

Sighing again, Face pulled on the fake, itchy beard and red hat, before stepping out to be greeted by a big, juvenile cry of, "SANTA!"

*-*-*

If there was ever a time when his conman skills were pushed to the limit, this was it. If he had just one more snotty nosed, spoilt kid sit on his knee and demand a pony, or a life sized dolls house, or a go-cart or a fully automatic, realistic, life sized Ghostbusters' proton pack then he was sure he was going to scream. That's what the problem with today's kids was, it was all me, me, me, more, more, more, now, now, now.

"And then, Santa, I want Sun Golden Malibu Barbie and Crystal Barbie too, the one with the big pink dress and one of those cars that they can go around in 'cause Sammy - that's my annoying brother - broke my last one because I threw his stupid little car out the window. It was his fault 'cause I never wanted a little brother. So I want another Barbie car, a pink one not the yellow one because Jessica Hart's got a yellow one and she's spoilt and stuck up. Pink's better anyway. Oh and can you take my brother away because he's really annoying and keeps hiding all my dolls. I think that's it."

Face tried hard to bite back the sigh and was suddenly thankful that most of his face was hidden behind the fake beard.

"Ho, ho, ho," he said in the deepest voice he could manage. "That's rather a lot of toys. Have you been good this year?"

The little girl just looked at him as if he was suddenly speaking another language, before expertly tossing back her golden ringlets.

"Tina Jacobs says you don't have to be good, you're going to come anyway. It's the law."

"Is it now? Well, we'll see about that." Relaxing his leg he slipped her off his knee, plastering a smile on his face. "Now run along, and Merry Christmas."

He watched as Murdock showed the kid back to her parents. Never had a he felt so relieved to see the back of a child.

"Tired, muchacho?" Murdock asked when he returned. The pilot's eyes seemed to hold a very unnatural twinkle in them, although Face did have to admit, his friend did look quite fetching in green tights. No one else would have been able to pull the look off, but somehow Murdock had.

"Exhausted," Face groaned, careful to keep his voice down. "Tell Hannibal I need a break and don't you dare take 'no' for an answer. Understand?!"

Murdock grinned just as Tawnia appeared with another child. "Yes, Santa," he replied, moving out the way so Tawnia could introduce the next little boy.

"Hello, Santa, this is Timmy."

Face looked down, his breath catching momentarily in his throat as he looked into the saddest set of blue eyes he had seen in years.

"Hello, Timmy, do you want to come and sit on my knee?"

The kid didn't reply, just didn't object when he was lifted onto Face's lap.

"Now, Timmy, what do you want for Christmas?"

The kid looked away, his face scrunching up at the words. Face was very taken back. It was the last reaction he had been expected. All the other children had been so eager to ask for the world, but this little boy...

"Timmy?"

The boy looked at him then, only briefly but it was enough for Face to be able to see the tears in his eyes.

"Hey, kid, what's wrong?"

"You're... you're not going to be coming this year."

Face frowned.

"Not going to be coming to visit you? And why do you say that? Santa always comes to visit."

The little boy shook his head, his little voice trembling.

"Not this year. Mrs. Bradley said that you, you won't be coming this Christmas."

There was something in the tone that made Face freeze. Suddenly it all seemed all too familiar. The sad eyes, the reluctant movements, the soft admittance. Something told him he needed to tread carefully here.

"Who's Mrs. Bradley, Timmy?"

The boy sniffed.

"She runs the children's home where I live. She said Santa couldn't come this year."

Face closed his eyes lost briefly in his own memories.

"I'm sorry, Timmy."

He wasn't sure why he said that.

"S'okay. I understand. We... no one wants us."

Face tensed, cursing himself for his words. He of all people should have known better.

"Now listen, Timmy," he replied more forcefully than he had planned. "That's not true. You may feel like that at the moment, but one day you'll find someone who wants you, and anyway, Santa wants all children. Now, tell me, if I could get you anything in the world, what would it be?"

Timmy was silent, but then Face just caught the whisper. "I want my mommy and daddy back."

Face's heart clenched as he cursed himself again for his thoughtlessness.

"But I know you can't do that," Timmy continued, "so want a teddy, any teddy will do. My bear was lost. He died along with..."

Face hugged the kid closer to him as the voice trailed off. He was already feeling the sharp pricks of tears forming in his eyes and his voice was surprisingly rough when he spoke again.

"I'll see what I can do, Timmy. Where do you live?"

"The Grace Children's Home in South Westwood."

Face nodded.

"Well, Timmy, I'll make sure to look out for you."

The boy nodded before slipping to the ground.

"Thank you, Santa."

Face watched as Tawnia led the boy away.

"Something wrong, muchacho?"

He looked up into Murdock's big brown eyes.

"No, uh, I'm okay. I need a break though." He rose quickly to his feet, leaving before he could find out if Hannibal had said he could have one yet or not.

*-*-*

He resorted to splashing cold water on his face, wasn't too sure why, he just had to do it.

"Hey, man, you okay? Murdock said you left in a hurry."

Grabbing a towel, he turned to find BA stood behind him. The big guy looked funny all decked out in festive red and green, but he was still wearing a few gold chains although not nearly as many as usual.

"Yeah, BA, I'm okay. Just had to get out of there for a while. You know how it is." He cracked his best conman smile in the hope it would work.

BA just grunted. "Yah look a little pale."

"Suit's hot," Face replied without thinking. "I'm fine. Just takes a lot out of you, you know, listening to all those kids ask for the moon, mars and the entire universe." And a teddy bear. He pushed that thought aside. "I just don't know how you deal with them all the time."

BA shrugged. "Yah get used to it."

Face absently shook his head. He would never get use to it. He suddenly stopped his movements.

"BA."

"Yeah?"

"You know of a Grace Children's Home in South Westwood?"

BA nodded. "Yeah, why?"

"You know anything about it?"

The big guy shrugged. "Smallish, only about twenty children, all orphans from about the age of three to ten. Why?"

"They in financial trouble?"

"Could be, lots of places are struggling righ' now. Not enough money going round. Why?!"

It was the third time BA had asked why and he was starting to sound a little impatient.

"No real reason," Face admitted. "Just wondered."

He saw BA's eyes narrow.

"Som'thin' happen, Face?"

"No, just had a little boy from there, that's all." He quickly pulled the beard back on and grabbed the hat. "Now, what you say I get back out there?"

Passing the big guy, he fixed himself a conman smile and made his way back out to meet the eager crowds of children.

*-*-*

Closing time couldn't have come soon enough for Face. He was exhausted, his back hurt, his knees ached and if he *ever* saw another spoilt brat again it would be too soon.

"You, okay, kid?"

Looking up, he found Hannibal looking at him, another cigar in his mouth.

"I'm fine, Hannibal, but if you *ever* try and make me do that again..."

He wasn't impressed when Hannibal grinned. "Relax, Face, it was a one time only thing. You did a great job though; the mothers all thought you were really good with the children."

Face's eyes just narrowed. Most of the kids had been okay, some had been complete nightmares, and then there had been Timmy. He sighed.

"Yeah, well."

He should never have said those things to the kid, he should have left it well alone, he had seen the signs, they had all been there, yet...

"Ah, Hannibal, I've got to make a phone call. I won't be long."

Escaping, he quickly found the pay phone, dropping in some quarters and dialed the number before his brain could catch up with his body.

"Yeah, I'd like the number for Grace Children's Home, South Westwood, please." A minute later he was dialing for a second time. By the time it starting ringing his mind had caught up with his body and was screaming at him, asking him what the hell he thought he was doing. Realising he was about to make a big mistake, he moved to put down the phone, but then a woman's voice answered.

"Grace Children's Home."

For a split second he froze and that was all it took for the conman in him to take over.

"Yeah, uh, hi, is that Mrs. Bradley?"

"It is."

"Ah, my name is Templeton Peck, I'm the Santa at the store Wearside Toys and I believe I met a little boy of yours today of the name Timmy."

"Yes," there was a slight pause then, "he said something about sitting on Santa's knee."

"Well, uh, he told me that Santa wasn't coming this year, I was wondering if that was true."

There was a longer pause at the other end of the phone, then a sigh. "Yes, Mr. Peck as much as it pains me to say it, I'm afraid that is true."

"How come?"

"Excuse me, sir, but I don't think that's of any concern of yours."

Face mentally kicked himself hearing the tension rise in the woman voice.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you, it's just Timmy made a real impression on me and I would like to help in some way."

"That's nice, Mr. Peck, but if it's guilt you're feeling we really don't want you charity."

"It's not charity and it's not guilt." Pausing, Face sighed, gently rubbing at his forehead. "Look, I just want to be able to help in some way. I don't have a family or know of any children I can buy presents for, especially children who really need them. I also know what it's like to not get anything at Christmas, so please, let me help in some way."

The silence at the other end of the phone was consuming. Closing his eyes, Face held his breath and waiting.

Finally he heard a slight noise at the other end of the phone.

"Okay, Mr. Peck, you sound serious. What is it you want to do?"

He let out the breath.

"I thought I could get each of the children something, anything, I don't really mind, and maybe something for all of you."

"That would be nice, Mr. Peck, but it would be hard for you to buy individual things."

"How about I get a variety of things then; toys, dolls, sweets, things that can be shared, and get them all something small each, something universal so there's no arguing."

He could almost hear the smile in her voice, but the doubt still remained.

"That would be better, Mr. Peck, but we have twenty-five children here, that's going to cost a lot of money."

Looking up, he caught a reflection of himself in the shop window; smart suit, shined shoes, expensive hair cut. He smiled sadly to himself.

"Don't worry about the cost, Mrs. Bradley, that's my concern. Do you have a Christmas tree and decorations?"

"We have a small tree and a few decorations, mainly what the children have made, but it's fine for us."

"If I got you a six foot tree with decorations on it, would you have room to put it up?"

"That's not necess..."

"Please?"

He heard her take in a breath.

"Yes, we would be able to find somewhere to put it."

He smiled.

"Thank you. Tomorrow's Christmas Eve so I know there's not much time left. I'll be getting the stuff tomorrow. Could I possibly bring it round later that night, after the children have gone to sleep? That way it would be more of a surprise for then."

There was another calculating pause, and he waited, mentally crossing all his fingers.

"Okay," the voice replied slowly, "we're going to be up quite late anyway preparing the Christmas meal, so what time were you thinking? Ten? Eleven?"

"Eleven will be fine, if that's okay. The later the better."

"Okay, Mr. Peck. This is all very generous of you."

He shook his head, realising she couldn't see him. "It's Christmas," he replied softly. "It's a time of giving."

He didn't get a reply, probably because there was no reply that she could give.

"Uh, can I take your address, please?" he suddenly asked, realising that after all this, after all the promises he still didn't really know where the Children's Home was situation.

"Of course, Mr. Peck. It's 1047, Lower 2nd Street, Westwood."

Closing his eyes, he committed it to memory.

"Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow night, and thank you, thank you for allowing me to do this."

He swore he could hear the faint sound of laughter in her voice.

"We'll see, Mr. Peck."

Bidding his farewell, he slowly hung up the phone, a big smile slowly creeping onto his face.


Part Two

"Hey, Face, who you talking too?"

It was almost nine the next morning when Murdock ambled into the kitchen of the apartment Face was currently scamming. They had managed to get Murdock released for the holiday and he had ended up staying in Face's spare room. That suited Face fine, after all, he figured that he would need some help to accomplish all he needed to do today, and anyway, who better to help him pick out children toys than the biggest kid on the team.

Motioning to Murdock to fix himself something to eat, Face didn't stop his conversation.

"Look, Tawnia, you wanted to be part of the team and now I'm asking for your help... Yeah, I know you're busy, just a few hours this lunch time. I just need some female advice... No, not *that* type of female advice. Look, I can't ask any of my other female friends because... well because. Okay, I'm going shopping today to buy some toys for some kids... no, I don't have any children I'm not telling you about, they're just some kids I know and I'm getting them Christmas presents, which is great except I have no idea what to get for the girls, which is why I need your help... Yes, I'm asking for help... No, you should be flattered... Okay, thank you. Shall we say to meet at 'Toys R Us' in two hours... Yeah, that one, by the airport. Right, good, see you there."

He put the phone down and sighed as Murdock grinned at him.

"I *really* wish Amy was still here," he moaned.

"Yeah, muchacho, so do I. So, what was all that about then? You going shopping for toys?"

"Yeah."

He watched as the pilot's eyes lit up.

"Do I get to come?"

Face grabbed a seat to sit on, a smile spreading across his face.

"I'm counting on it."

He watched as pure childlike delight spread across the pilot's face. It was always so much fun to see the pure candid excitement engulf his friend's expression. For a moment it seemed as if everything would be alright in the world.

"When do we leave?" Murdock almost seemed to be bouncing.

"I told Tawnia we'd meet her at eleven, so that should give me enough time to sort out a few other things first."

"Okay. So, what we buying? Who's it for? Why we getting them? And how much we gonna spend?"

Battered by the questions, Face raised his hand to calm the pilot down a little.

"The presents are for twenty-five orphans who live at the Grace Children's Home, in Westwood. You remember little Timmy yesterday, the little boy I had just before I took a break?"

The pilot nodded. "The little one with the big blue eyes."

"Yeah. Well, he told me yesterday that Santa wasn't coming, so after we finished, I phoned up the Children's Home and said I'd get them some presents since they're short of money this year. So that's what we're gonna be doing, and uh, we'll spend what we need to."

Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, he looked away from Murdock's probing gaze. Shifting slightly in his seat, he waited for the pilot to say something, but the silence was overwhelming.

"Uh, Murdock?"

Within seconds the pilot was out of his seat, round the table and pulling Face into a tight embrace.

"Uh, Murdock, what are you doing?"

Finding himself being released, he looked up to find Murdock's big warm eyes gazing down into his. Suddenly he found himself feeling really self conscious.

"What?"

Murdock just gently shook his head. "You're just som'thin' else, Faceman," he replied with a smile, "and you don't even know it."

Shrugging it off, Face pulled away fully and quickly resumed his seat, a little embarrassed by the feelings behind the words.

"Yeah, well, it seemed like the least I could do."

He watched as Murdock just looked at him before returning to the other side of the table not saying anything else. The big brown eyes were still shining though.

"I thought that Tawnia could help us since none of us really known what girls are into," Face explained quickly, "but I figured that between the three of us we'd be able to buy everything."

Murdock's smile reached his eyes.

"Good planning, Batman. Is that a list you've got?"

"Kind of." Face handed it over trying to ignore the 'hhmmm's and 'aaahhhh's Murdock responded with. "There's not much there, I know, but I thought it would do as a start."

Murdock handed it back over to him, his eyes gleaming.

"It's a good start, muchacho," the pilot grinned, "and since you've got me on your side, nothing can stop us!"

*-*-*

The minute they stepped into the store he had a feeling it had been a mistake. Murdock went wild. It was worse than letting a bull loose in a china shop, it was like... like letting a kid loose in a giant toy store having been told that anything and everything was theirs to choose from. It was like watching a kid in adult's clothing.

"Murdock! Calm down!" Face hissed as he grabbed his friend's sleeve, conscious of the stares they were getting from the other shoppers.

"Calm down. Calm down!" Murdock protested in a sing song voice. "Don't you realise what you've done, Face? You've given me the world. The world I say. Look at all these toys. All this choice, all the possibilities."

"Calm down or I'm taking you home!"

The threat worked and Murdock quieted instantly.

"S'okay, Face, I'm just excited. We're going to be able to give those kids a proper Christmas."

Face nodded, a smile growing as he thought about it. "Yeah, Murdock, we are. But let's get going 'cause we don't have that much time."

As it was, even with the three of them it took them hours to get round and pick up everything they could possibly need. Trolley after trolley was filled with games and toys, planes and cars, dolls and soft toys, puzzles and sports gear. Twenty five beautifully crafted stockings joined the growing piles, Murdock's idea for the children's individual presents. With them went in packets of pens and colouring pencils for each stocking, notebooks to be written in and chocolate bars and candy canes to make them all feel ill. But the crowning moment had to be the big electric train set, every little boy's dream.

Face knew it would cost him a fortune, but he didn't care. It was worth it, and besides, he was having fun. Never would he have expected the joy that could come from thinking so much about other people. A joy that stayed with him even when they finally got all the toys through the till and the final price was announced. He didn't moan, he didn't whine; he just handed over a few cards and flashed the till girl a big smile. It was only money after all. It probably wouldn't have lasted long anyway; a few tailor-made suits, a pair of new shoes, a few dates at those extortionately expensive restaurants he was so fond of.

"You know, Face, I would never have suspected you had such a generous side," Tawnia gushed as the toys were all being packed away.

"Yeah, well," Murdock grinned, jumping in for his friend's defence, "that's our Faceman, the guy we all love."

"Yeah, uh, thanks Murdock."

"No problemo, muchacho, but have you thought how you're gonna get all this stuff out of this store and back to your place."

Oops, he knew there was something he should have thought of. Caught up in the rush of buying the gifts he had forgotten that somehow they still needed to transport everything away from the store. He looked at the hundreds of bags before him. There was no way he would be able to get even a quarter of them in his vette.

Murdock grinned at him. "You wait here, muchacho, I'll go call the big guy."

Half an hour later, they watched as the familiar black van pulled up in the loading bays near the front of the store. Two figures stepped out, spotting them when Murdock stood up to wave. Face watched as BA and Hannibal approached, their eyes taking in the sight of the hundreds of bags.

"Hey, Face, whatcha got there?"

"Something you're not telling us, Lieutenant?" Hannibal observed wryly, nodding to the huge mound of brightly coloured bags, containing even more brightly coloured presents.

Face stared at them, then glanced across at Murdock.

"You didn't tell them?"

The pilot smiled and shrugged.

"Thought you'd want to do that, muchacho."

"Yeah," BA growled, finally taking his eyes off the array of bags. "Fool didn't say anything, just that we hadda get here quick wiv the van."

Face bit back a sigh. He hated having to explain stuff like this.

"Well, uh, as you can see, me, Murdock and Tawnia who had to leave went shopping to get some toys for a few children I know of."

Hannibal raised an eyebrow. "*Some* toys, Lieutenant?"

Face shrugged. "Well, you know, we kinda got a little carried away."

"But they're for really needy orphans," Murdock piped up, knowing that Face would be reluctant to fill in the full details, "the Grace Children's Home in Westwood. Santa couldn't afford to come this year so Face asked if he could get some things for the kids instead."

Three pairs of eyes fixed on Face and he shifted uncomfortably under their gaze.

"Is that true, Face?"

"Uh, yeah, Hannibal, that's true. I figured I could do something to help."

"Hmmm." Hannibal nodded as he fished around in his pocket for a cigar. Finding one, he looked up and grinned, his blue eyes twinkling with the jazz. "Well, I certainly think this is a job for the A-Team. What you say, Sergeant?"

BA didn't need to say anything; his eyes were shinning and fixed on the toys. Within seconds he was scooping down and picking up bag after bag, carrying them to the van.

Face smiled slightly in relief, looking up to find Hannibal still watching him.

"What?"

But the Colonel just shook his head slightly, still grinning as he too picked up some of the bags, following BA to the van.

Surprised, Face looked around, noticing Murdock still standing there.

"Was it something I said?"

But the pilot just grinned at him, before slapping a hand to his shoulder.

"You just don't get it, muchacho," he replied enigmatically, "and that's what's so great about you. Come on, let's help the others."

Letting it go, Face watched as the pilot shot off with a few more bags, before grabbing a few himself and joining them.

*-*-*

"Ouch."

Four hours later and Face's apartment looked like a toy store. Most the bags were still intact, but a few had had to have been emptied so they could find everything they needed. Popcorn covered the coffee table; more out of the bowl than in it, more eaten than had actually been threaded onto the string. Mainly it was Murdock's fault; neat and tidy really wasn't in his vocabulary when he was excited.

On the phone once more, Face ignored the pilot's exclamation at poking himself with the needle again. All his concentration was currently used on trying to keep his control.

"What do you mean you don't have a tree? I called you this morning, you said you had one... Yes, I know it's Christmas Eve... Yeah, well, that's just not good enough..."

He winched as he was abruptly cut off. Okay, so she should have been more diplomatic, but he really wasn't in that type of mood at the moment.

"Problem, Face?"

He ran his hand through his hair as he put the phone down, before looking up to meet Hannibal's gaze.

He sighed. "Yeah, no tree."

The Colonel looked sympathetic. "No luck then? Shame."

Defeated, Face just slumped down onto a chair. "Really hadn't expected to find one, it's late after all, but you know."

Hannibal nodded, but BA just rose to his feet.

"Don't yah worry, Face," he declared firmly, "I'll get yah one."

With that the big guy grabbed the van's keys and disappeared out the door. Face raised his eyebrows. "He serious?"

Hannibal just smiled. "Well, when BA sets his mind on something, nothing can stop him."

"Yeah," Murdock picked up, still sucking his sore thumb. "If anyone can do it, BA can!"

Face nodded, rising to his feet himself. "Well, uh, I've got a few more things to get. You two gonna be okay here?"

He just got grunts in reply and some shoos to get him out the door. Finding his vette keys, he went.

*-*-*

FAO Schwartz, the most prestigious toy shop he could think of. He had only one more present to get now and he wanted it to be perfect. Walking the isles, he quickly made his way to the stuff toy department, amazed by the selection of bears he found there. There were hundreds of them, all shapes and sizes. Little bears, *huge* ones, light brown, dark brown, milk chocolate brown, white, cream, pink, even blue bears. There were bears with big eyes, bears with small eyes, bears with ribbons, bears with bows. Any bear you could possibly think of, it was here.

Scanning them, he slowly walked along, impressed but nothing quite seemed to grab him. In the end, he almost missed it, but the second his eyes rested on the bear he *knew* it was the right one. Picking it up, it was perfect. Soft and extremely furry it was a very simple bear. Big brown eyes with blue rims sat on the chocolate brown fur, a matching brown ribbon going around its neck. It was just the right size too, big enough to cuddle, but small enough to be taken to bed. He had found his bear.

*-*-*

"All set, Lieutenant?"

Five to eleven that night and Face nodded, finding himself extremely nervous for some reason. Running his hand through his hair, he climbed out the van, looking at the building in front of him. Immediately thousands of memories came flooding back to him. It didn't look that much like the Catholic Orphanage where he had grown up, but there were still a few similarities. Taking a deep breath, he slowly walked up to the front door and knocked.

It seemed to take hours for the door to open, but it did, a woman opening it far enough so she could see him.

"Mrs. Bradley?" He smiled brightly as she nodded, "Templeton Peck. We spoke yesterday on the phone."

He waited as she took a moment to look him over. From her expression he got the impression he wasn't exactly what she had expected. Then it was as if her guard dropped and she opened the door wider stepping out slightly.

"We didn't think you'd come," she offered matter of fact.

"Well, uh, I have and I've got everything I promised," and more, he added silently. He pointed back to where his three friends were now standing by the van. "Everything's over there. Can we bring them in, please?"

Looking across at the van, her eyes seemed to stop on the tree firmly tied to the top of the van, and she smiled, nodding. "Of course, Mr. Peck."

He grinned back at her. "Please, call me Templeton."

*-*-*

He wasn't sure how they did it, but they did. They managed to get everything into the big room that was usually used as a main play room. The huge tree that BA had some how managed to get a hold of stood tall and proud in the corner, decorated in strings of tinsel, gold lights and popcorn strings. Below it were the toys, all stacked and overflowing across the floor. BA was sat down there with them, carefully putting together the big train set so it ran right around the tree a few times. He had refused to allow anyone to come near it.

Murdock was decked out in his elf's hat, grinning away as he chatted to Hannibal and the other helpers of the Children's home. The pilot was having the time of his life while Hannibal clearly still had the jazz shining madly in his eyes.

Face sat alone though, watching everybody, smiling to himself.

"You seem really far away, Templeton."

He looked up to find Mrs. Bradley - Beth, he corrected himself - looking down at him, offering him a glass of something. He took it, smiling.

"I was just thinking, remembering stuff."

Watching, she took the seat beside him.

"It's wonderful what you've done here, the children will be ecstatic," she told him.

He nodded. "I'm glad I could do something."

She smiled slightly, not taking her gaze from him. "You said something on the phone yesterday that got me thinking."

He turned to look at her.

"You said you knew what it was like to not get anything for Christmas. I hope you don't mind me asking, but what exactly did you mean by that?"

He bit back a sigh, turning away from here again.

"Just that," he admitted after a pause. "I remember when I was a boy, maybe just a little older than Timmy, and I was told that Santa wouldn't be able to come that year. I was devastated, thought it was because he didn't care about me or something. No one cared about me, about us, it was easy to apply that to Santa too. Didn't stop me from dreaming though. I thought... I thought that if I prayed long enough then maybe Santa would still come. If I confessed all my sins, promised to be a good boy, then maybe, maybe I would find something by my bed. But I didn't. Santa didn't come. I know now why he didn't, that it had nothing to do with me, but then..."

His voice trailed off as a soft hand touch his shoulder. He looked across into caring eyes.

"An orphanage?" she questioned softly.

He didn't need to nod to confirm it.

"When Timmy sat on my knee and told me that Santa wasn't coming, it brought everything back. I wanted to help him. Give him something to believe in again."

There was a pause, silence as they both tried to think of something to say.

"Thank you," she finally whispered nodding to everything around them. "I wish you could be here in the morning to see the children's faces when they see all this."

He nodded slightly but smiled, his gaze taking in the whole room. The decorations, the tree, the lights, the presents, the train set now up and running. He didn't need to be there to see the scene the next morning; he could imagine it well enough. The happy, excited faces, the smiles and laughter, the shouts and play. Even so, part of him wished he could be there, if only to see the look on one little boy's face as he hugged his new bear, opening the little card to read the words, 'To Timmy, as promised, Merry Christmas, Santa.'


The End


Santa by Hayley May

 

 


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