Disclaimer: No infringement intended. Not affiliated in any way with anyone. Net worth is still a negative number. Nothing to sue here people, move along. No money is being made from this.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Playing Santa

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

'T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Only one creature was stirring, and it wasn't a mouse.

The stockings were hung near the radiator with care,

But it wasn't St Nicholas that would soon be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

Doubt and insecurity danced in their heads,

Mom was laid off and Dad was an honest cop,

There wouldn't be enough Christmas money to shop,

They didn't have to ask what was the matter,

With Mom's nerves so frail they feared she might shatter.

Rent, shoes and food had used up all of their cash,

One tooth ache had consumed the very last stash.

If only their poor feet had ceased to grow,

They might have more to hope for Christmas than a slight chance of snow,

Still, Dad had elected to be noble in his chosen career,

Therefore without funds they would have to persevere.

Sulking in their beds when they thought they heard a click,

They snuck to the front room, prepared for some trick.

When what to their wondering eyes should appear?

But, a tiny chimera, dressed in mostly cat burglar gear,

She slipped in through the window, so lively and quick,

They knew in a moment she must work for St. Nick!

More rapid than eagles on her course she came,

The kids squealed, and shouted, and called her by name;

"Santa!" she shouted. He corrected, "No, it's his elf!"

'Oh, damn. I'm busted.' Max thought to herself.

She drew up her head, and was turning around,

When across the room the children came with a bound.

She was all dressed in black, from her neck to her foot.

But she was topped by a red Santa cap with just a bit of soot.

∞∞∞

"Sh!" Max said, trying to quiet the children. If anyone could think fast, it was an X5. If she had ever needed to think fast, it was now. "If anyone finds out you saw me, I'll get in trouble."

"You're eyes glow in the dark!" the little girl that must be Mary said.

Max blinked and thought as fast as she could. "Not exactly, they just gleam. We …elves need to be able to see in the dark. We can't go around turning on light switches all the time."

"There really is a Santa!" the young man that must be Mark said. His eyes were as big as saucers. "Oh, my gosh. We didn't leave out any cookies 'cause I didn't think you were real."

"Where is Santa?" asked the little girl.

"Oh, he's very busy. With as many people as there are in the world now he just …organizes things."

"Why don't people believe in you?" asked the little girl who looked up at Max with such big eyes.

"Well," Max stalled. Then she knelt down to the children's level. She smiled, pleased to have an answer, any answer. "With as many billions of people that are in the world today only the very best get on the 'get presents' list. Just being 'not bad' isn't good enough anymore."

"I was that good?" she asked, amazed.

"Well, no." Max paused for dramatic effect as two cute sets of little eyes looked up at her. "But your father was, and all he wanted was for you two to get presents."

"Wow!" the said in unison and awe.

Max nodded sagely. "You should be proud of your father. He's a great man!"

"A great man?" Mark asked in astonishment. "MY Dad?"

"Yep," Max grinned. "If THE great man said so, then it must be true."

"Santa said my Dad's a great man?" Mary asks, wide-eyed.

"I heard it myself when he told me to come bring this stuff. I better get moving. There isn't much time. I have other stops; lots of good people in Seattle." Max smiled at the children and started putting gifts under the tree at amazing speed; there was no point in being subtle now.

The children smiled and nodded quietly. Then the little girl observed, "You're bigger than the elves on TV,"

"You can't believe everything you see on TV. She's not blond either," her older brother wisely explains. Then a thought occurs to him, "Are there blond elves?"

Max remembered some of her siblings, "Yeah."

"Freeze!" yelled Matt Sung from the doorway. Max blurred to Matt and grabbed the gun. She retreated to the center of the room, placed the gun on the floor, and then dumped the rest of the presents on top of it. "Sorry," she said. She blurred to the window, leaped up onto the window sill then up and into the night.

∞∞∞

Max grabbed the black nylon rope she had used to rappel down to the window and jumped up. She pulled herself up the rope and managed to get onto the roof before any of them reached the window. She laughed when she heard from somewhere in the distance, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night" and sleigh-bells.

"There's Santa!" screamed the little girl.

"Where?" asked Mark Sung.

"Where!" asked Matt Sung.

Max stifled her giggles. Logan was right. It did feel good to do good deeds. She practically skipped to the other side of the roof and down the fire escape to where she'd parked Logan's Aztec, filled the rest of the gift packages she was to deliver this night.

∞∞∞

None of her other beneficiaries woke up for their visits.

∞∞∞

Eventually Max returned to Logan's apartment.

"Where have you been?" Logan asked. He was so relieved that she was alright after being gone so long for what should have been some fairly simple deliveries.

"Out delivering the presents that you asked me to," Max replied, matter-of-factly.

"Max, it is 3 am! You didn't wake people up in the middle of the night to give them the presents." Logan paused, suddenly uncertain. "Did you?"

"No, I didn't wake anyone up. Well, Matt woke up, but that was more his kids fault than mine. I think I started too early. They were still awake."

"Max, what did you do?" Logan began to feel an unnamed dread.

"I dropped off your stuff. Like you asked me to."

"Was everyone home?" Logan was still hoping for some rational explanation of why this had taken eight hours.

"I assume so. I didn't check." She paused thoughtfully. "I hope you had all the addresses right."

Slowly, painfully, realization dawned on Logan Cale. "MAX!" he shouted, "You didn't!"

"What?" Max asked, puzzled. She did exactly what he asked her to. What was he upset about?

"You broke in to the houses?" Logan asked incredulously.

"Yeah," Max replied very slowly, waiting for the point. "So?"

"I can't believe you broke into the houses." Logan shook his head and stared at the ceiling as if it could provide an explanation for whatever possessed Max to break and enter. OK, granted he knew she had a tendency for B&E. Hell, that was how they met, but still!

"You asked me too!" she snapped.

"I didn't mean break in!" he snapped back, a little bit louder.

"Santa breaks in Christmas eve night or early Christmas morning! I triple checked, because I didn't believe Cindy when she told me. I checked with some guy at a church." Max's erratic, excited hand gestures seem to indicate she may be talking about a priest with a collar. "And I went to the library. Santa breaks in!" Max relented at the dismayed look on Logan's face. "I can bring you the book," she offered quietly.

"It's OK." Logan dissolved into laughter because he could not, for the life of him, think of any other way to react to this.


Author's Note:Yes, I KNOW that on several of the lines of verse at the beginning of this the rhythm is very badly off. I think that "Keystone cops in the middle of a ballet" was the analogy used. Here is what I want to know from you:

Survey : What it funny that way? Or should I have made it fit the rhythm of the original?