Sly Cooper sat inside a jail cell, looking at a weathered old wall calendar; it was Christmas Eve. At the end of the hallway, out of his eye sight, a door squeaked open and footfalls graced the corridor.

Adorned in a red felt coat with white trim and a red Santa hat, Carmelita Fox stopped in front of his cell. She gave a festive smile and announced, "Merry Christmas, ringtail! Thought you could just break into my office safe and be up to your old antics last night huh? Didn't think you'd be outsmarted by my new security trap, did you? And here I thought Santa Claus didn't bring presents to anyone but children."

Sly gave a smile upon seeing her happy face. "Well, well, if it isn't jolly ole saint Fox! And here I just wanted to put a little tiding of joy under your tree this year. How are ya, inspector?"

"Oh there were tidings of joy, alright!" she exclaimed. "Finding you in my trap last night makes me happier than you could imagine... Why, it put my faith back in holiday spirit! And to think just the other day the boys around the office called me Scrooge." She held a carafe of eggnog and poured a glass for the raccoon. "Merry Christmas, Ringtail. I'll even come back and visit you on New Year's Eve next week."

"You're too kind!" Sly said cheerfully, taking the liquor-filled drink. He took a sip then said, "That's rather sugary. I like it."

"My grandmother's Spanish recipe," she said. "You know it'll be Christmas day in about ten minutes."

"Midnight already?" asked Cooper. "In that case," he said coming to his feet, "I was wondering if you could grant me a little Christmas wish?"

"You're not getting a 'get out of jail free' card, Ringtail. So you can just forget about that."

Sly approached the bars and pulled a piece of mistletoe from his pocket, holding it up, above her head, leaning in between two bars. "I would never ask to be let free, Carmelita. I actually came to give this to you."

Carmelita looked around nervously; there were no guards around and the other inmates were asleep. She frowned thoughtfully, eyeing the little green plant, wrapped in red lace with a bell on the end. Her eyes narrowed for a moment then... she smiled.

"You're my prisoner. You can't get away. What's the harm in one little Christmas kiss?" She leaned in and pressed her lips to his. The kiss was meant to be a chaste little brush of the lips. However it became anything but short. He reached through the bars and cupped the back of her head while keeping the mistletoe above their noses with his other paw.

Finally the lip lock concluded. She opened her eyes, gazing down at where their lips had just met. A demure little smile danced over her visage.

"Its time we opened that bottle of wine, Cooper," she said in reference to the one she'd presented to him the night they defeated Clock La. "It's in my office, I'll be right back with two glasses and some Christmas party food; leftovers from this afternoon's office party."

"Gonna drink the whole bottle, Inspector?" Sly gave her a playful wink.

"Why not, ya freakin' flirt. I'm off work tomorrow. In fact, I'm off tonight. I just wanted to see you behind bars to remind me of that holiday spirit." She turned away from him and sauntered back down the hallway. The red Santa skirt was rather revealing and worn just for this occasion, as if to rub in his face that she had won.

In her office, Carmelita snatched two glasses and made a dinner tray. She took some of the leftovers out of the mini fridge in her office. Foxes were notorious for cashing food, after all. She put the food on a plate then set it in the microwave and heated it.

Carmelita popped the top off of the bottle and reveled in the aroma. It was the nectar-filled scent of victory. She'd held on to this wine for so long and wanted desperately to taste it, knowing that it would be the night that Sly Cooper sat behind bars.

She had more to celebrate than just his capture. She could now celebrate his kiss, that the chase ended and that she was now to be promoted. She wanted to celebrate the end of her obsession and a more meaningful future. She wanted to celebrate her New Year's resolution: To catch Sly Cooper this year. It took her fifty weeks to accomplish but she managed it and now she could finally make a fresh new resolution.

The Christmas trees were greener and the bows were a brighter shade of red. Carmelita poured the wine into each glass then snuck a little sip. It was glorious; the taste of victory and it tingled wonderfully on her tongue. It was aged just right and everything was perfect. She scooped up the wine bottle and placed it on the tray along with two glasses of wine and a hot plate of food.

Carmelita lifted the tray balancing it on her right palm. She left her office and headed down the hallway humming Christmas carols with a jaunty step.

"I've got to thank you, Ringtail!" she called out, still heading down the hallway. "If you'd not put up such a good chase, this wine wouldn't be aged so well. It was as if it was meant to be opened tonight!"

She came to stop in front of Cooper's cell, placing the tray on a wooden chair next to the gate switch. She then turned towards the gate. The mistletoe was taped to the iron bars, but Cooper was nowhere to be found.

Her jaw simply dropped. "COOPER!" she cried in anger, waking up every inmate in the row. She just stared at the mistletoe, practically dumbfounded. After a moment she reached for a slice of ham and, instead of her glass of wine, she wrapped her paw around the neck of the wine bottle, uttered "Crap," then took a long pull from the bottle so as not to waste it.

"Merry Christmas ta' you too, criminal." She reached up and snatched the mistletoe from the bars and shoved it into her pocket. He was only supposed to get forty-eight hours for misdemeanor charges of breaking and entering as Carmelita dropped the charges; that meant she couldn't technically slap him with wanted fugitive status.

She just took another long pull off the bottle, slumped into the wooden chair and stuffed a scrap of Christmas ham into her muzzle. If it wasn't midnight, on Christmas, she'd have torn off, looking for him. What she didn't know was that a fresh bouquet of poinsettias now awaited her at home...

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Y'ALL!

Love,

Kit