Gato: I think this will be the final chapter of this terribly clichéd Christmas tale.
Irie: You really have a talent for insulting your stories, don't you?
Gato: That I do. Anyhow, I am pretty happy as I get to go home tomorrow.
Irie: Yep, she gets to spend more time with herself and her yellow hippo clan.
Gato: shakes head You confuse me so much. Please do the disclaimer.
Irie: She only owns the plot.
Sora finished the conversation with her mother just as Marianna entered the kitchen.
"You'll never guess what I just heard," Marianna said happily.
Sora frowned quizzically, "What?"
"Sarah wants all of the servants to partake in Christmas Eve dinner. She's hired people to serve the food, so we only have to prepare it. Isn't that amazing? And, of course, we gat Christmas Day off."
"That is incredible!" Sora grinned, then paused, "But wait, that means I can't spend Christmas Eve with my family."
Marianna thought on this point for several minutes. "The only suggestion I can make if to talk to Tai. He's the one who employed you, after all."
Sora nodded, "Yeah. I have to go Christmas shopping with him anyhow. We have to buy something for his dad. What do you get for the man who has everything?"
Marianna grinned, "More of everything."
"That was tons of help," Sora replied with a laugh as she left the kitchen.
Sora met Tai in the garage once more. He glanced at her, his brown eyes expressing something other than cold, aloof scorn. She grinned at this change in her employer and asked, "What are we going to buy for your father?"
Tai shook his head, "I have no idea. I've been trying to remember one of his hobbies, but all he does is work."
Sora thought she detected a hint of bitterness under his flat tone. She nodded and forced herself to think. She found this act more difficult than usual due to Tai's eyes. She focused her eyes on the Porsche and recalled a gift she had given her father years earlier. "Does your father have any family portraits in his office?"
"No," Tai replied, "he had one for a while, but the sun discoloued it. Why do you ask?"
"I was thinking that you could get a family portrait framed and mounted. It would be a lovely gift. You could even give him a picture with Kari in it," Sora said quickly; her enthusiasm prevented her from thinking through her words.
Tai paled distinctly, his eyes lost their kind sparkle. Sora bit her lip and lowered her gaze. She hated herself for her thoughtless words. Tai's voice sounded hollow as he demanded, "How do you know about her?"
"Tai…uh, sir, I am so sorry. I shouldn't have said anything."
"How did you know?" He demanded again. His cold eyes frightened Sora.
"I…I head about it through the media a long time ago," she lied, "I am very sorry."
"Return to your place in the kitchen," Tai commanded forcefully.
Sora bit back several responses and fled the garage. As she changed her clothing, she forced the tears away. She had angered him without intention. Finally, Sora returned to the kitchen, much to Marianna's surprise. The Hispanic woman noticed her co-worker's expression and asked no questions. She merely put Sora to work on a blueberry pie. Sora mentally thanked Marianna and attempted to focus her attention on the pie crust. As she rolled out the dough, Tai's grief stricken face rose in her mind.
Tai locked himself in his room and removed the picture of Kari from his drawer. Despite his cold, uncaring charade, he still believed his sister was alive. Sora's words had brought back a flood of painful memories. His mother's desperate cries, becoming shriller and shriller when Kari did not respond. The police looking through the house; demanding if Kari had any reason to run away. The year of waiting with no news. Mr. Kamiya's decision to remove all reminders of Kari from the household.
Tai had the perfect picture to give to his father if he took Sora's advice. The photograph had been taken on Christmas Day. Tai had wrapping on his arms. Kari wore several gift bows in her hair. His mother wore her housecoat, and a beautiful smile. His father had them all wrapped in a warm embrace. Tai gazed at the picture fondly. He had treated cruelly because of his lack of emotions. Due to his pride, however, he could not apologize to her so soon. Being around Sora caused Tai a joy he did not believe he could feel. He had forced himself to be cold and hard after Kari's disappearance, but Sora slowly showed him true joy once again. Tai remained in his room, reminiscing and contemplating, until the bell sounded for dinner.
A mute and distressed Sora served dinner that evening. She performed all her tasks perfectly, but her usual smile had vanished. She felt slight elation when Tai dined with his parents again, but shrank away from his gaze.
Sora and Liza cleared the dinner dishes while Marianna scrubbed several pots. After loading the dishwasher, Sora settled on a stool with a glass of water. Marianna turned from the sink. "So, are you going to tell me what's bothering you, honey?"
Sora slowly sipped her tasteless drink, "It's nothing really, Marianna. I just said some stupid things."
"It happens to the best of us," Marianna sympathized. "Especially if we have feelings for the person we're talking to."
Sora chocked on her water. Marianna smiled lightly. Sora took several breaths and replied, "What are you talking about? I don't like Tai!"
"Of course you don't." Marianna turned back to the sink.
Sora frowned at her glass of water and nearly dropped it when Tai entered the kitchen. He scanned the room, his eyes resting on Sora. "I wish to speak with you, Sora."
"Yes, sir." Sora placed her glass on the counter and followed Tai out of the kitchen. She thought she heard Marianna snicker.
"Sora, I treated you unfairly earlier," Tai began once they reached the sitting room, "and I wanted to apologize for my behaviour…"
"Oh, no, sir," Sora interrupted. "I should be the one apoligizing to you."
Tai shook his head, "Regardless, I wish you to accompany me to the mall once more. I have ther perfect photograph for my father's present."
Sora obligied and ten minutes later, the pair left the house in a red Porshce.
Tai swaggered into an expensive photography studio. Sora followed meekly, her eyes drawn the the stunning models on the walls. Finally, her curiosuty took control and she asked, "Sir, may I see the picture you chose?"
"Yes, Sora. And, if you wish, you can call me Tai."
Sora smiled in response, attempting to fight the blush rising in her cheeks. Tai removed the pictured from it's frame. Sora gasped in wonder at the beautiful picture. It radiated the love and warmth she expected in a family. "It's beautiful...Tai."
He turned to a man clad in black and began to discuss the photograph. Sora wandered away from Tai, mexmerized by the photographs. She felt that the glossy black-and-white pictures seemed so elegant.
"Are you a model?" A male voice demanded.
Sora turned in surprise and saw the same man Tai had spoken to. She laughed lightly, "No, I'm hardly a model. Currently, I work for Mr. Kamiya."
"I see," the man murmured. "Well, if you ever need another job, you should consider modeling for this studio. We can always use more beautiful women." He handed her a small black and white business card.
Sora took the card, his flattery rendering her mute. He smiled and returned to his desk. She shook her head lightly, and saw Tai walk in the door.
"Where were you?" Sora asked softly.
"I just needed to pick something up," he replied. "Now, we have to wait about two hours before the picture is ready. I thought we could use that time to buy you a dress."
"A dress?" Sora frowned in confusion. "A dress for what?"
"For Christmas Eve. I believe my mother informed you that all of the servants will be dining with us. It is a formal occasion, and as such, you will need a dress."
"Oh." Sora paused. "I meant to talk to you about this, sir, Tai. I was wondering if I could spend Christmas Eve with my family. It would mean the world to me, and to them."
Tai frowned and regained his usual cold tone, "Well, if I remember correctly, you are working off a debt. You have no right to ask me for days off."
Sora lowered her gaze. Though his words held the truth, she disagreed greatly with them. Her emotions took control for a moment and she shouted, "Maybe if you know why I stole your money to begin with, you wouldn't be such a jerk about it."
She expected him to blow up at her for her words. Instead, he smiled. Sora gaped in wonder. She thought Taichi Kamiya had forgotten how to smile. He noticed her expression, and the smile widened. "Perhaps what you say is true. Why don't you tell me your story, Sora."
Sora stuttered through the beginning of her tale, fascinated by Tai's smile. Finally she regained her composure and retold her story as dusk settled upon the city.
Sora finished her tale and exhaled slowly. She waited for some form of reaction from Tai. Finally, it arrived. "Why didn't you tell me that from the beginning?"
"I…I didn't think you would care," she replied honestly.
Tai pondered her words. "You're right. Before I met you, I wouldn't have cared at all. But, this is going to sound strange, but since I've met you, I've been remembering the good things that happened when Kari was with us. You reminded me why she loved Christmas so much. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were an angel."
Sora blushed at his words. He slowly approached her and she found herself lost in his chocolate-kissed eyes. She knew what action would follow, and willed it to occur. Tai gently kissed her, much to his own surprise.
When they separated, he grinned once again. "I propose a compromise."
"Oh really?" She asked, curious.
"How about you stay for Christmas Eve dinner, and then you can go home to your family as soon as you are done eating. Wait, I'll do you one better. You're family is invited to Christmas Eve dinner at our house."
"Are you serious?" She cried. Tai nodded. Throwing her arms around him, she whispered, "Thank-you so much. I don't know how to repay you."
"You already have," he replied softly. "Now come on! We still have to buy you a dress."
Sora stared in shock, "Tai, this is a Vera Wang gown!"
"I know, now try it on."
"I can't afford this, Tai."
"But I can. Call it a Christmas present. Now go and try it on!" He gently shoved her into the change room. Sora gently slipped on the backless, dark-blue dress. It came down to the floor with a slight up to the right knee. She slowly stepped out of the cubicle. The sales ladies gasped happily.
"You look stunning, miss!" One cried while clapping.
"The dress, it is perfect on you," another complimented.
"You look amazing," Tai muttered. "Now change back into your other clothes so I can pay for your dress.
Sora meekly obeyed, still reveling in his praise.
The pair picked up the portrait and returned to the Kamiya mansion with just enough time for Sora to help Marianna with dinner.
"Did you have a good date?" The Hispanic demanded once Sora entered the kitchen.
"I'll tell you about it once we get dinner on the table. What are we making tonight?"
"Pasta primavera. I'll start on the veggies, you get the noodles going. By the way, you're lipstick is smudged."
Sora blushed furiously and placed a generous amount of noodles in the pot. Marianna laughed lightly at the younger girls discomfort while she sliced the vegetables.
After dinner had been served and cleared, Marianna, Andreia, Liza and Sora sat in the kitchen. Sora related the days events, interrupted every so often by squealing from the younger maids.
"That is so cute!" Liza cried.
"I can't believe you managed to get through his tough guy shell," Andreia commented. "That's incredible."
"Eeek! I just realized that I don't have a dress for Friday!" Liza shrieked.
"Oh no!" Andreia muttered, "Neither do I!"
"Oh wow, I can't believe this Friday is Christmas Eve," Sora muttered.
"That's right. And dresses should be the last thing on your minds, girls. You can find some tomorrow evening. Now, Sora," Marianna turned to the red-head, "We start prep as of tomorrow. As much as I love how much you have helped Tai, I will need you full time in the kitchen for the next few days. It's going to be hard, I warn you from now."
"Fine by me," Sora implored. "You just tell me what I have to do, and I'll do it."
Later that night, Sora called her parents to inform them of their invitation to the Kamiya household. Her mother's excited voice echoed in the empty kitchen. "Really, Sora! How lovely of them. I must get myself a new dress for this Friday. And the boys really will need some new suits."
"Brilliant. Oh, and Mom, I have the perfect way to thank them for everything. Did you talk to the girl in the orphanage? Okay. Good. What did she say?"
Marianna had not lied when she said the prep work would be difficult. Every detail had to be perfect. Sora thought she might go insane if Liza corrected her once more. The only thing that kept Sora from losing her mind was Marianna's level-headed approach. She began with the appetizer prep and worked her way to the desert, explaining each dish carefully. Sora retired late every evening only to be up far too early for her own health. By 9:00 on Thursday night, they had finished the majority of the preparations. Sora felt ready to collapse.
Marianna grinned, "I warned you that it was hard work. Well, we're done for the night, and I'm turning in early. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Good night, Sora, dear."
Sora took Marianna's advice, and collapsed into her bed at a quarter after nine. As she began to doze, she thought of her plan to repay the Kamitya's for everything. She prayed it would succeed.
Meanwhile, Tai played a game of go fish against his mother. She adored the changes in her son. He smiled, laughed, and even hummer Christmas carols in his untrained voice. She praised Sora for the miracle she had worked with Tai. Even Mr. Kamiya admitted that his son had changed for the better. He currently sat by the fire, a book open on his knee, and his eyes fixed lovingly on his wife and child.
Sora, Marianna, Liza, and all the other servants awoke before dawn the next morning. The cleaning staff scoured the house until ever surface gleamed. Sora, Marianna and several others began putting all the dishes together. Sora now understood the reason for the perfection. The dishes look divine once finished. Sora grinned, knowing she had aided in producing the meal. At four o'clock, the hired servers arrived, and all the servants dispersed to prepare themselves for the festivities. After her shower, Sora wrapped herself in an over-sized sweater and a pair of track pants. She stared at her hair the in mirror, determined to do something with the limp, red tresses. After nearly half a dozen different hair styles, Sora gave up. A knock at the door startled her.
"Hey," Liza grinned from the doorway. "I was wondering if you wanted any help with hair or makeup."
"Make-up I'm fine, but please do something with my hair!" Sora begged.
Liza giggled and examined Sora's hair critically. Finally she cried, "We're going to curl it. Hold on one second. I'm just going to get my curling iron and stuff."
Liza returned a few moments later with a curling iron, a comb, hairspray, elastics, bobby pins, and much more. She sat Sora down and took her position behind the red-headed girl with her curling iron in hand.
Nearly an hour later, Liza declared, "Finished."
Sora glanced at herself in the mirror. Her once bland hair hung in large ringlets bas her shoulders. Liza had pinned half of it off her face, leaving several shorter pieces to hang near her eyes. Sora smiled happily. "Liza, you're a genius! You should be a hairdresser!"
"Maybe someday," Liza mused. "Now, if I do my hair, can you help me with my make-up? I'm really bad at it."
At six thirty, the guests began to arrive. Andrew assumed his post by the door. Sora emerged from her room and walked over to the other girls.
"Sora, you look so beautiful!" Liza cried. She wore a floor length, black halter dress.
"You really do," Andreia admired. Her tight, forest green, knee length dress showed off her figure.
"So do you two!" Sora grinned.
Marianna exited her room in a stunning, red, flamenco dress. The three younger girls gaped in shock. She grinned, "You always need something fancy lying around, just in case. Now come one, girls. Let's go and get something to eat before the food gets cold."
Sora saw her parents arrive and threw herself into their arms. "Mom, Dad. Twins! I missed you guys so much."
"We missed you dearly, Sora," Mrs. Kamiya smiled. "Look at you, dear. You look amazing."
"So do you, Mom."
The bell sounded for dinner, and Sora led her family to the dining room, where they were greeted by a very happy Sarah Kamiya.
Sora found herself seated across from Tai at dinner. She grinned at him as he pulled out her chair. "You look beautiful," he whispered and kissed her lightly. Just before dinner began, Tai raised his glass. "I would like to propose a toast to the excellent servants we have in our household. Without them, this dinner would not have been possible."
The other members of the table murmured their ascent and raised their glasses. Tai smiled directly at Sora before taking a sip. She sipped her own drink to hide the colour rising in her face.
After the meal, which Marianna declared was the best one yet, a band began to play in the ballroom. Sora wandered into said room with her parents. A moment later, Tai approached the group. The gallantly kissed the hands of both women and bowed to Sora's father. "Sir, with your permission, I would like to ask your daughter for a dance."
Sora's father grinned despite his protective instinct and agreed. The twins snickered.
Tai nimbly led Sora around the dance floor for over and hour. Every so often, he would kiss her softly, or vice versa. After one final slow dance, Tai took Sora over to a corner of the ballroom.
"Sora, there isn't a way to thank you for everything that you've done for me and my family. However, I do want to try." He handed her a small box, "Merry Christmas, Sora."
Sora slowly opened the velvet case to see a beautiful, white-gold, Tiffany's locket. She gasped as she read the inscription on the locket. 'Sora, my perfect angel.' She threw her arms around Tai and showed his with her kiss how much the gift meant to her.
By midnight, most of the guests had dispersed. Sora knew now was the time to put her plan into action. She retrieved the car keys from her mother and discreetly slipped out of the house.
Sora's mother talked to Mrs. Kamiya, while the twins entertained Tai. Sora's father found himself in a conversation about business with Mr. Kamiya.
Liza, in whom Sora had confided her plan, told the secret to Andreia and Marianna. Tears came to the Hispanic's eyes. "Is she sure?"
"Pretty sure," Liza replied.
"I really hope so," Andreia implored. "It would be the most amazing Christmas present anyone could receive."
Half an hour later, the guests had gone and the front door slowly opened. Sora entered, much to the surprise of the Kamiya family. She removed her jacket and said, "Mr. and Mrs. Kamiya. And, of course, Tai. You have all been so very kind to me these past days. Tai gave me a second chance, and you never once questioned me. You even allowed me to bring my family to this lovely party, something for which I am eternally grateful. I had no idea how to thank you for everything, and then I acquired a piece of information at the orphanage where I volunteer. And, well, I think this will speak for itself."
Sora stepped aside to reveal a small, teenaged girl. Her light brown hair ended where the string of her camera began. Her soft eyes scanned the room and took in each member of the Kamiya family. Tears formed in the girl's eyes as recognition finally dawned, overcoming the amnesia. "Tai! Mom! Dad!" She cried, and flung herself into her family's arms.
Tears of joy slid down Mrs. Kamiya's cheeks as she wordlessly hugged her daughter. Mr. Kamiya forced back tears as he whispered, "Kari. Oh my darling Kari." Tai scooped up his little sister and hugged her for nearly fifteen minutes.
"Sora," Mrs. Kamiya began, "how can we ever repay you?"
"Just seeing your joy is payment enough."
"You truly are an angel," Mr. Kamiya said. "You should be proud of your daughter. She truly is an angel."
Marianna, her cheeks wet with tears embraced Sora. "God bless you, mija."
The Kamiya family celebrated the return of their daughter with the Takenouchis and the remaining servants. Sometime before the dawn, Tai took Sora out onto a small balcony.
"Sora, you are the most incredible person I have ever met. If you are an angel, I would give up what is left of my life just to spend more time with you. Thank-you."
And he kissed her once more, reaffirming in the minds of all the reality of Christmas miracles.
Gato: Whew done. And exhausted.
Irie: No kidding. Even I'm starting to think crooked.
TO Steve-Racer: Aww, thanks!! I'm so glad you like it!
TO Musashibf: Okay, so there was no mistletoe. Or diamonds. But there was more Taiora!!
TO Tai-for-you: Here's the update and yep, it was Kari. Thanks so much for the review.
TO Marie Darkholme: That's right, Tai studying, hehe. Glad you think my story is interesting!! Thanks for reviewing.
TO jtr: Glad you like it, and there was not huge love scene. Not that I was planning one.
TO hannah: Thanks so much!! You're so sweet. No need to be angry, the orphan was indeed Kari!
TO SoratoFan: Thanks!
TO Cool Crystal Girl: Not an army of cookies!! Hehe. Glad I exceeded your expectations! Thanks so much for the review.
TO angel-skie: Yep, that's why I wrote it. Glad you like it. Thanks for reviewing.
TO digimon-Taiora: Yep, this was the last one, and Tia was much for 'Tai-sih'. Did you like it?
TO Litanya: I updated really fast! Glad you're enjoying it!!
Gato: That's all for this story, my dear. I might make sequel type things, but not for a while. You should all be proud. I finished this story faster than I have ever finished any other story. Ever. It was hard, but I did it. Now, I must be off. So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Irie: Or, as I say, Happy Snowflake Day to all and to all a good dawn!!
PS – If any of you are Harry Potter or Inuyasha fans, please check out my other fics. I have tons of other Digimon stuff too!!