Yeah, yeah. It's not the holiday season yet, blah blah blah.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. But I own the display. It makes great fire fuel.

"Ho ho ho! And what would you like for Christmas, little girl?"

Abby's ears perked up as she passed by the overly decorative 'Meet Santa Claus!' display. The old cardboard backdrop was painted with faded houses of red, blues, and greens, glitter frosting the windows, bare places here and there. Christmas lights twinkled in yellow and purple, outlining the throne of the poor sap that had been elected Chris Cringle this year. His 'elf', a surly looking woman of late thirties, leaned against the far wall, checking her watch every thirty seconds, smoldering cigarette not quite hidden from the four runny nosed children standing anxiously in line. In the center of it all sat the man in red himself, belly and beard very fake to her, but magical and picturesque to the sniffling, doe-eyed kids.

Not quite knowing what possessed her to do it, Abby found herself behind the children, waiting semi-patiently to meet this stranger whose voice held a familiarity to it that caused her gut to jump with recognition.

Closing time at the mall approached, parents ignoring their children's pleas to see Father Christmas in the haste to leave. The line ceased to exist as one by one, the kids took their turn. The elf had disappeared somewhere between the first and third child, but it didn't seem to bother the blue-eyed Santa, who was still as jolly as he had been when she'd first seen him.

Abby had just crossed the velvet rope when the five minute warning bell rang out, scaring any patrons left to scatter for their cars like pigeons, frightened at the thought of being caught in the mall after hours. Store owners were dropping their inviting smiles, pulling down the metal gates of their shop fronts, locking up for the holiday.

Santa stood, cracked his back, and looked at her apologetically. His voice still carried a glimmer of the Claus persona, the part that said he was a real life jolly person in disguise. "Sorry miss. You're a little too late to see Santa," he paused and looked at her critically, injecting more humor into his tone. "And a little too old."

Abby chuckled. "Nice ta see ya too, Hoagie." He'd been in the middle of untying his beard when he stopped and looked her in the eye suspiciously.

"Do I…" She grinned and smacked her snow soaked hat on her head. She'd been holding it in her hand because it had made her hair cold, but she didn't really care now. He'd gone fish mouthed.

"Abby!" he managed to choke out.

"Ya seem to have gone a bit round again." She teased him gently, crossing her arms. He grimaced and reached under the jacket, pulling out two pillows. He threw them behind the throne, along with the beard, hat, and boots. He stepped out of the rest of the suit, revealing his blue T-shirt and black jeans, and tossed the bundle of red velvet as well. Hoagie pulled a pair of off-white sneakers from under the chair and put them on, standing up with a 'Ta-Da!' motion that made her laugh. Abby linked arms with him as soon as he had his coat on and together they headed for the door.

The chilly air bit her and Abby wrapped her navy scarf tighter around her neck as she turned to look at him, snow piling up on her eyelashes and in her hair that wasn't protected by the hat.

"What would you like for Christmas, Abs?" he asked gently, oceanic orbs searching her own honey-brown pools. She smiled softly.

"I want to spend Christmas Eve with a friend I ain't seen in two years."

"That can be arranged," he whispered. Then he grinned in her favorite (though she'd never admit it) goofy way. "But I don't know if I'd be able to find Kuki at such a late hour."

Abby rolled her eyes and smacked him. "Smart aleck."

Okay, it's not Christmas time, sorry if you don't celebrate it at all, but I got inspired. I had to post before I started hating it. I actually sort of like this one.

Hey, go enter my contest. REVIEW?

Love always,