It was nearly Christmas, and everyone in Cape Mary and especially at the Kaleido Stage was extremely happy.
As always, they would go to an orphanage to bring presents and joy to the children, but this year Santa Claus would be an unexpected person:
"What?" Said Anna, giving Mia a Christmas tree ball "Leon is going to be Santa Claus??"
"Yup" Mia said "And you will be one of his goblins!!! "
"Why can't I be Santa???"
"Because you are a goblin, together with Marion, Rosetta and Ken."
"Awww he is going to mess everything up!! He can't look happy!!" She said making a begging dog's face.
'Yes he can. Don't you remember he was one of the best clowns at "The Princess and the Fool"?'
"Well, but he didn't have to talk to the children, and didn't hold them on his lap and everything else Santa does."
"Come on Anna, it will be fun!!!" said Marion, holding a box full of lights to put on the huge Christmas tree they were decorating.
"Oun Oun!!! ", said Jonathan.
"See, Jonathan agrees, and you can teach us jokes!!"
"Marion, can you hand me the lights please?" Said Sarah, who was decorating the tree with Rosetta and the other girls.
"She is right Anna; don't be sad, Leon will be a good Santa."
Meanwhile, at Kalos' office:
"Do you really think he can make it? I don't think Leon is too keen on children."
"Yuri, he will be fine" said a female voice entering into the room.
"Cathy, Layla, what are you doing here?" he asked with incredulous eyes. Were they even coming?
"We decided to help here, at the orphanage. By the way, aren't you doing a play this time?"said the pink haired woman.
"Yes we are. And your help is always welcome." said the boss.
After the meeting at Kalos' office, he showed them where the Christmas tree was and Mia gave them details from the play.
"I see, so Santa Claus has lost his present bag and needs the children's help to find it! Very good, the children will interact in the play too."
"It's really good Mia, Congratulations."
"Thank you Miss Layla."
Sora, May and Leon had been working hard for this play. Especially Leon, who had to turn into something totally different than he was. The Death God, Layla remembered herself, how would he become Santa Claus in such a small gap of time, she wondered.
"Miss Layla and Cathy-san too!" said Sora, followed by May. Both girls had just rushed into the room.
"When did you get here?" May questioned.
"Well, a couple of hours ago… Nice to see you are working together."
"Yes. Leon will be Santa Claus, I am going to be Mrs. Claus, and May will be Rudolph 'The red nosed reindeer'".
"Hello Cathy, Hello Layla." said the gray haired man. "It's been a while."
"Hi Leon. Indeed it has." said Layla.
Cathy began: "I've heard you will be playing Santa Claus' role. How nice is to change a bit."
"Yes, it is." Always so rispid. She understood Yuri's worrying now; after all, he too had once been Santa in one of their plays.
"Excuse me, I have to go back to the office, give me a shout when you two are leaving." said Yuri.
They just nodded.
"If you wish you can stay at my condo."
"No Yuri, we will stay at my house, but thank you anyway."
"All right, but can I at least drive you two home then?"
"If you would like to." said the blonde one.
"It will be my pleasure."
"I think I am staying at the Kaleido Stage. I still have loads of plans to discuss with Mia, but you two can go."
"Are you sure Cathy?"
Cape Mary's beach was a really beautiful landscape to see at the sunset. It had been a while since she hadn't seen it. With so many shows on Broadway, she came every time she could, but it was getting harder and harder to be back home.
The wind dancing and playing with her hair during the ride…she missed it so much, and he knew that. The whole ride to the Hamilton mansion was quiet as the beach at night, thing not so common when it concerned both of them. Yuri had always been the person she most enjoyed to talk to, the only one to whom the Golden Phoenix ever let her fiery walls down.
But not this night. There were many thoughts and worries swimming in her head.
"You are home now."He said, stopping the car engines in front of the huge mansion.
"Yuri…" That was the first word she had spoken since entering his car.
"What is it?"
"Nothing. Just thank you for the ride."
"Anytime." He said starting his car again.
As she entered her house, she found her father sitting down in the living room's sofa.
"Good Night Shining Star."
"Father, I didn't know you were home, weren't you in Germany?"
"Yes my dear, but I was a bit worried about you."
"And why is that?"
"I heard that you have missed some rehearsals, what you never do."
"It was nothing; just my shoulder was teasing me again."
"And know you feel better?"
"Much better thank you. Sorry for worrying you."
"Never mind my treasure; I am happy because you feel better."
"Excuse me Sir, but dinner is ready." said one of the maids.
"We will be there in a moment, thank you."
"Excuse me father, but I'm going to my room."
"You ate nothing!"
"I am not hungry."
She lay on her bed and watched her mother's picture over her bedside. "Good night mother." Said, holding the portrait close to her chest as she used to do to many of her dolls before her mother passed away.
"Layla…" said her father entering the room quietly. As he saw she was already asleep, he covered her up with her blanket, for it was getting colder, and took the portrait away from her arms, putting it back onto the bedside.
Meanwhile, at the Kaleido Stage's dormitories Rosetta, Sora and May were practicing their acting.
"Hey children let's get together and help Santa finding his bag ok?" said May.
"May, you are a reindeer… you can't talk!!!!!" said Rosetta laughing.
"Oh yes…I can!!!!Wow, look at the time… I have to go, see you tomorrow."
"The Empress…" whispered Fool
"What did you say Fool Sensei?" asked Rosetta, for she had never seen Fool predict with the Tarot cards.
"The Empress means birth, isn't it, Fool?" said Sora.
"It depends much of the situation."
"I know, we are in Christmas, so every year Jesus Christ is born again…"
"Rosetta you are a genius!!!!"
"First thing tomorrow morning I will talk to the Boss!!!"
Next day, at Kalos' office
"What are you suggesting??That we also do a live Nativity scene at the orphanage?"
"Exactly sir. I was talking to Rosetta yesterday and this idea came to my mind: After all, that is the real Christmas meaning isn't it?"
"Indeed…but we have a problem here. If both you and Leon will be the Claus couple, then who will act as Joseph and Mary?" asked the manager.
"Mia and I can make some changes in the script so that it fits, in my opinion, the main problem really is the time. We have only two weeks left!." Added Cathy
"Yuri-san and Layla-san! Kalos, they could be Joseph and Mary!"
"What do you think?" said the Russian lad.
"Well…sounds good for me." replied the young lady by his side.
"I know." exclaimed Mia "Sarah is going to be an angel, right? She could then be the one telling the whole story!"
"So what are you all waiting for? Let's get moving with our plans-ans-ans!"Said a very happy Sora.
"Right." Everyone answered in a choir.
After some rehearsing time…
"Hey!"Said Sarah "I have something that may help you two getting into the characters!"
"Well, considering the lack of time, any help is welcome" answered the blond. "What is it?"
"Well, as this is the Nativity scene, we will need a baby Jesus, so I've brought you this doll!! Isn't it cute??"
"I really don't think a doll will make any difference…"
"Oh come on Layla, hold it."Sarah handed her the doll as a response for the comment.
Following the rules of the almost British education under which she was raised, not accepting something when it is handed to you from a friend would be a huge disrespect, so she did hold the doll. A few seconds later she felt two strong but yet delicate arms over hers:
"You know, that is not the right way to hold a baby." He said while changing her arm position. "Here, now it looks right."
"Well, I see you have plenty to do, so I am leaving…keep up with the good work you two!"Said the singer, leaving the room.
"Are you feeling alright?"
"Of course Yuri…why do you possibly think I am not?" answered the blonde.
"You look pale. Are you sure?" He insisted. He loved to do so, especially when he thought he was right.
"I have already answered your question." She gave him a cold and unfriendly glare, or at least it was supposed to have been one.
'Well, now she looks like the Layla I know' he thought 'and that is exactly why I think there is something wrong.'
"What are you waiting for? We have no time to lose…Christmas is in one week and we have to get this done!"She replied.
It was finally the presentation day.
"Okay everyone, you all have rehearsed a lot for today, you all know what to do, so let's put a huge smile on those children's faces!" Said a very excited Cathy to the whole cast.
"Yes!" exclaimed them all.
"Where are Layla and Yuri, Sora?" asked Marion."Yuri has forgotten his beard. Hahaha he gets soo funny when he wears it!!!"
"Miss Layla is already in the dressing room and probably Yuri is in the male one."
"And we should also change up into our outfits, don't you think? Soon the children will be out to watch the show."Suggested Sarah.
"Yup we are going to do that now."
Everything was going just as they had planned, and at eleven'o clock 'Santa's sled' stopped at the main door of the orphanage.
"Look, there are Santa Claus and his goblins!!!!"Said one of the children
"Mrs. Claus and Rudolph too!!!"
"Ho Ho Ho! Hello kids!"
"Santa Claus, Santa Claus!" said a little boy.
"Yes?"Answered Leon picking up the child and holding it on his lap.
"Where is your present bag?"
"Oh HoHoHo, looks like I have lost it... don't you think Mrs. Claus?"
"Yes my dear… what should we do now?"Said Sora, making a very worried face.
"I know!!!We can help you to find it Santa!!!" exclaimed one of the little girls.
So an unstoppable search for Santa's present bag began. Among the many children, Sora saw one girl that didn't seem to be having fun.
"Hey little one, why aren't you helping the other children?"
But the girl didn't answer.
"Don't be sad if she doesn't answer."One of the orphanage workers said. "My daughter Tiara is autistic. She won't answer like the other children…but I can tell by her eyes she is happy."
"Don't be. Her autism grade is not the highest, and she is gradually getting more contact with the other children."
"That is really good."
Behind the door of the improvised orphanage theater, the Russian couldn't help but watch over that scene.. So Leon is a good Santa huh? He thought, before being pulled back once more by his partner's hands.
"Sometimes you look like a child yourself, Mr. Killian."She closed the door.
"Sometimes you should do so, Ms. Hamilton, it is really good." He chuckled, smiling as a ten year old boy who had just opened his so desired Christmas present.
"For God's sake Yuri, if you keep like that the children will realize that there is something behind this door and you know they can't…at least not until it's time."She reprehended him.
"I can stop, but only if you take a look."The childish look on his face was priceless.
"One look and you stop it."
As she looked through the small gap between the door and the wall she couldn't keep up without smiling. So much happiness, so many smiles. Yes, that was the children effect. Even before she realized, the gap was getting bigger and bigger.
"Hey, be careful not to open too much the door. For one simple look it's taking a lot, don't you think?" He said, closing a bit the door.
"I said I would take a look. How much it lasts doesn't matter." She answered, without looking at him.
It was good to see her smile again. A jewel that never appeared could be compared to that smile.
"They are doing a great job, don't you think? Particularly I had my doubts about having Leon as Santa, but sounds like everything turned well in the end."
"Yes, it sounds so."
Suddenly, the walkie-talkie inside the room started to beep."Are you ready? The children have already found the bag, so we will soon come in." Ken's voice shouted.
"We will get in our positions, thank you Ken." Answered Layla.
"Ho Ho Ho , looks like you've found it!! Thank you for the help children."
"You are welcome Santa!!"
"Now, we have something for them, doesn't we?" said Mrs. Claus.
"Of course." Leon opened the bag and revealed many sweeties.
"Now, everyone make a line in front of Santa." Shouted Marion.
One by one, the children received their sweeties and sat down. Suddenly, for their amusement, a light flickered outside the room.
"What is that?" A little girl cried out.
"An angel!!" another one said.
Indeed, Sarah was a perfect angel when she wanted, and she did want tonight.
"Hello dear friends, enjoying your candies?"
"But I am sure you didn't forget what Christmas is all about, did you?"
"Of course not, Christmas is the day Jesus was born." A boy said.
"Oh, and may I ask where is your Nativity scene?"
"It's over there, in the theatre."The orphanage Director said. "Would you like to see it? The children did it themselves!"
"It would be a pleasure."
"Santa is coming too right?"
"We all are." The acrobats answered happily.
As they entered the room, the children got static.
"What happened?" Asked the director worried.
"They are different!!!"
The kids went all around the couple, just as many did to Sora when she dressed as a clown on her second day at the Kaleido Star. Even little Tiara couldn't stay still. Her big gray eyes shined as she let go of her mother and joined the other kids. She approached the blonde woman and embraced her with her little arms.
The little child whispered something in her ear he couldn't understand, but judging by the way her pupils expanded, he could see that it had hit her strongly.
Layla Hamilton wouldn't admit, but she was exceptionally tired after that simple stay still performance. As soon as the children left the room, she changed to her normal clothes and went out to the orphanage garden. At her watch, there were still twenty minutes to midnight, when he came closer.
"I am curious." He said.
"And why is that?"
"I don't know... maybe because you just left the room without saying anything to anyone."
"And do I have to?"
"Probably if you had talked to anyone about your feelings during the Legend of Phoenix rehearsals, you wouldn't have to run away like you did. People get worried, you know."
He made a pause. "I get worried."
"If you were so worried, why didn't you come with them to find me?" she said angrily.
"I thought we had already talked about that before, more precisely three months ago, at the premiere party of our Kaleido Star's Legend of Phoenix."
That party. Everyone had been so happy. She had been so happy. But some weeks ago, its memories emerged as a huge problem, actually the biggest one she had ever been through.
"Let me try it another way."He said. "Need someone to talk?"
"You won't give up will you?"
"Only if you need me to."
"Alright, I want you to stop."
"That is what you want, not what you need."
Word games. She had forgotten how amazing his ability of distorting words and phrases was.
"Why do not you accept help?"
"Yuri...I am pregnant."
He wanted to know; now he knew. She could see that somehow something darkened in his eyes.
"Who is the one then?"He said, bending down at the roses.
"Why didn't you tell me before?"
"I really tried to, but now that you had established yourself at the Kaleido Stage, I didn't want to mess your life up." She said, laying a hand on his back.
He looked at his watch. Only she could have done it.
"Once again, perfect timing."
"Merry Christmas, Layla."He got up and hugged her. "You know this was the best Christmas present I have ever received."Said with tears in his eyes."
Actually, now she realized after all this years she had never seen him crying, just as well he never saw her tears.
"Merry Christmas, Yuri." She said returning his embrace.
"By the way, you haven't told me what that little girl said."
"Mommy." She answered with tearful eyes and a broad smile.