December 25th, 2012 – 21:00, Lyon, France

"Promise me you won't love any other girl than me." Carmelita's eyes twinkled in the soft illumination of the fire roaring in the hearth.

Sly glanced over at the glistening tree at the far corner of the living room then returned his gaze to Carmelita and said, "I can't."

"Not even one full year and there's already someone else in your heart? Hmph."

Cooper tilted his head a bit. His left ear flickered listlessly then he said, "Yes. And she looks exactly like you but younger. And one day soon, she will call you, "Mommy!" Mrs. Cooper."

Carmelita replied with a foxy smile. "Oh you're a clever man, Sly. Because any other answer would have resulted in unforgettable punishment. How'd we get to this point?"

"Well, when we wrote one another's vows, mine had a code in them, tricking you into a promise to become a Master Thief at my side. Then we drove here, because it's close to your job."

Carmelita gawked at him. "Yeah, right. Me? A 'master thief,' huh? You have big dreams for such a small chance in hell that I'd ever…" She smirked and crossed her arms over her chest. "Do you have a mission?"

"Me? No, I promised I would give that up."

She looked him over then said, "You said you'd stop stealing in order to make me marry you. Now that we've married, I half expected you to go right back to it."

Sly shook his head firmly. "Nope. I've kept my promise."

"I never mentioned stealing… or a lack there-of in the wedding vows I wrote for you."

He grinned. "I'd noticed. And I appreciated it. Still do. Very much so. But I did promise you, way back when, that there would be no such thing."

"What's the job, Sly Cooper?"

He looked around furtively then leaned in close. Carmelita's ears perked up then the vixen leaned towards her raccoon husband. He smiled inwardly then said, "Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to …uh." Sly trailed off, humming the theme song for 'Mission Impossible.' After a brief pause, he snapped his fingers and said, "Compete against me in the trials."

"Nice try. I know that look. Someone has contacted you and wants to know if you'll pull a heist. What's the job?"

"Well, according to Sci-Fi author, Arthur C. Clarke, the core of Jupiter is a diamond the size of planet Earth. We were gunna go steal it."

She eyed him, half ready for anything at this point. After a moment of staring into one another's eyes, she shook her head and said, "No. Not falling for it. You really do have an offer for work, don't you?"

"Well, if I did, I'd need a partner in crime. And you wouldn't even consider that. So I turned the job down."

"What was it?"

"Well, a covert operation for French Intelligence. Oh, and there was an offer for MI-6. Oh, and the CIA needed something. Israeli Mossad called me. I told them Tel Aviv wasn't romantic enough for my wife. They, uh, didn't seem to like my bluntness."


"Nope. I promised, no more stealing. Not even information."

She put her paws on either side of his face and kissed him softly. The married couple enjoyed the kiss then she broke the lip-lock and said, "National and International security is okay. Besides we DID just survive the so-called END OF THE WORLD, last week."

Sly tapped her nose with his finger. "Well in that case, I'll just go ahead and call back Patrick, Sir John, Michael and Tamir. You wanna help?"

"You're not kidding are you? Wait. You're on a first name basis with the directors of each agency?"

He offered a shrug then turned away from his wife and lay back, so that his head was in her lap. Sly looked up at her and grinned. "Maybe. So. We have a fire going and it's about fifty degrees outside. Sorry, you prefer Celsius. Forgot. So it's ten exceptionally warm degrees outside right now. You want to consider taking a vacation from Interpol this week?"

She stared at him for a moment then said, "Sly. If there's something going on… you should consider doing it. After all, if things go sour, I don't want to be at fault because you couldn't be commissioned to save the day."

"We have a family to think about now."

"All the more reason you should make the world a safer place if that's really what's being offered, here. And," she trailed off for a moment then, in a softer voice, asked, "Why would you want me to go along with you?"

"You've done stakeouts. You can handle it. You're a pro. C'mon. We could be a husband 'n wife team. How cool would that be?"

"Oh my goodness, Sly, who would watch the baby?"

"Well, Penelope and Murray are both good with kids and…"

"Sly Cooper, this had better not go like things went the year before you married me."

Sly sat up and got to his feet. He stretched then turned to face her and laughed. "Oh, Carmelita. That was so then. And this is so now. Besides, we only just sold the publication rights of the story to Sanzaru; they haven't even pressed the first copy. Probably won't even get it out to the world until February. That was so totally under wraps. That was then. This is now. New, fresh, exciting. World's greatest parents out to save 'greatest world.' What could go wrong?"

Carmelita waggled her finger at her husband. "Oh don't even ask that question. You know as well as I do that the proverbial 'stuff' could hit the fan the minute you have that stupid stick in your grubby lil' paws again."

Sly shrugged nonchalantly. "No big deal. I won't do it. Problem solved."

"Oh no you don't! You're not laying this one at my feet. You're going to get your ringed tail on that phone first thing in the morning and make some phone calls."

"Oh yeah? Should we sell the rights to this mission to Sanzaru when we're done and it's no longer classified?"

"I don't know. You'll have to talk to Matt Kraemer and Glen Egan again. I have their business card in my purse. Uh… you just need to find my purse. You know how often I use one of those things."

"Yeah," said Sly with a firm nod, "Almost never."

"Exactly. I'm sure it's in the Rolodex." Her tone suddenly turned scolding, "Stop rushing this sort of thing. You've got to make a decision about this job first. Not only that, Mister Egan will want to make sure the story of your last adventure will sell before he'll want to hear you pitch a new one. And this one would be classified at this point anyhow. And for that matter, you've got to live through it. Oh, and on that note, I have to decide if I'm even willing to let you near that damned cane again." She pointed a finger in his face then poked him in the nose in unison to saying the word, 'cane.' "You think you're pretty slick huh? Cajoling me into being your buddy while out on an adventure… hah. I can't be swindled that easily."

"Like I said, Carmelita, I don't even have to return anyone's phone call. We can just ignore it all."

She fidgeted. "Every year we've had a nice Christmas. For the past six years, we've had Mistletoe, a glass of wine, nice food… well, okay, there was that one year where I couldn't find you until New Years' but… other than that, we've always have a quiet Christmas. Now you want to come in and break up the pattern. Is that it? You figured since Baby's first Christmas couldn't be a white one, you didn't want it to be completely boring, so you wanted to start an adventure, is that it?"

"Nope. I made a joke, you called me out on something that was at the back of my mind… I'm content to stay indoors and play with the baby while you're doing paperwork in your corner office in that building sitting at 200, quai Charles de Gaulle 69006, Lyon France. Oh, hey," he said, changing the subject, "Remember the time I broke into Interpol headquarters dressed as a delivery boy and brought you flowers?"

She blushed and nodded her head. "You made a mockery of security by slipping through with ease. Sly, when is the job?"

"I don't know. I haven't talked to anyone about it yet. So are you going to kiss me and be all romantic for Christmas?"

"Ready to have another kid so soon after the first?" She smirked. He smirked in reply. She folded her arms and they glared at one another. Finally, Carmelita asked, "Why don't you just join me and become a cop?"

"Because when it comes to catching crooks, I'm better at catching a cold."

"Well, that's a lie."

"Okay, true. I was okay at it. I had more fun being a crook, though. I liked being chased. By you."

"Oh shut up and kiss me."

Sly reached for the mistletoe he had in his pocket. He held it up, leaned forward and just before his lips collided with hers, they both froze at the sound of a baby crying. He licked his lips.

Carmelita laughed softly. "It's your turn, 'daddy.' You'd better hop to it."

"Yeah, I know, I know." Sly stuffed his paws into his pockets then left the living room and walked into the baby's room. Seconds later, Carmelita heard the baby's room grow silent.

She shook her head then called out to him, "You might be a pretty good husband. You might be a really good father. But you'll always be a criminal, Ringtail!"



A/N: So, I've been working on my own original story as of late. I invite you to read it – the link is at the beginning of my profile. Go click on my pen name, up top, and it will take you to my profile! It's over on FFnet's sister side, Fiction Press, so you can sign in with the same account you have, here, for THIS site!

Also, I know it wasn't super romantic and drawn out this year. It's been one HECK of a year, let me tell you! Plus I wanted to give pause and offer the possibility that, even married, Sly might not be 'finished' with his 'career' quite yet. For those of you who don't know Sanzaru Games, that in-story joke was simple: They're the publishing company who is making the new Sly Cooper due out this February! :D

Now, please, I'm begging of you… check out my story-in-progress, it's called A NECESSARY EVIL. For those of you who liked my other Sly Cooper stories, I've taken all my original characters from my other stories and brought them together for the new original story… so a lot of them will feel familiar from my Sly Cooper trilogy. Enjoy! Love you guys! Merry Christmas! Stay safe and by the next time I update the Sly Cooper holiday short stories, we should be about ready to play the fourth Sly Cooper game. Hooray!