She doesn't know what to expect for the holidays after Archie takes her in. It's not like Christmas was anything to look forward to in her foster homes; all she got was time off from school to spend more time with a family she didn't want and that didn't want her either. So she doesn't think anything about the passing time, the days growing colder.
Archie leaves her for longer periods of time, and she wants to ask if he's spending more time with his family, if they've missed him in the days he's been training her. She doesn't, though, because she doesn't like to think of them. They're his family and are just another reminder that she doesn't really belong anywhere with anyone.
That's why when Christmas morning rolls around, she sleeps in just like normal. Archie has to wake her up, and he decides to do it by ripping the covers off her.
She curls into a ball and growls in protest. "It's too early."
"But it's Christmas morning." He sits down on the edge of the bed and nudges her arm. "I thought you would be excited, kiddo."
She props herself up on her elbows, her blonde hair spilling over her face. "I've never gotten presents on Christmas before."
"Well, there's a first time for everything. Come on."
"What about your family? Shouldn't you be celebrating with them?"
"I will. I just wanted to give you your presents." He stands up and tugs on one of her big toes. "Now, let's go. I have your favorite cereal."
"Captain Crunch?' She jumps up and claps her hands in excitement.
"If that's your favorite, then yes."
She races out of the room, and he chuckles as he follows after her. When she gets to the main room, she skids to a stop, her eyes widening at the sight of the small stack of presents. She starts to reach out to touch them then pulls back.
"Are these all for me?" She turns to look at Archie over her shoulder.
He nods his head. "Of course, scamp. Go ahead. Open them."
She scrambles forward and grabs the largest package, tearing it open. She lifts a harness out of the destroyed paper.
"I'll teach you how to use it later," Archie says. "I think you'll like it."
She grins and moves on to the next present. She doesn't stop to examine it, just ripping the paper off another package. When she finishes, she steps back to examine the gifts, a huge smile on her face. She trails her fingers over a new set of lock picks, a stuffed bear, and two stuffed envelopes of money. She lifts one of the bills to her nose and sniffs it.
"Do you like them?" Archie asks as he comes up behind her.
She bounces a little on her toes. "Yes."
He squeezes her shoulder gently. "Good. Listen, I have to go, but I'll be back tomorrow."
"Okay." She tears he gaze away from her presents long enough to look back at him. She bites her bottom lip and shuffles her feet before launching herself at him, flinging her skinny arms around his neck. "Thank you. This is the best Christmas I've ever had."
When she steps back, he looks so sad, and she wants to say something to make him feel better. But she can't find the words, so she stays quiet.
Archie smiles down at her and says, "Now, have fun with your presents, and don't try playing with your harness until I can show you how to use it. Understand?"
She smirks and gives him a mock salute. "Yes, sir."
He laughs and musses up her hair as he walks past her. She watches him leave as she stands in the doorway, just inside the shadows so no one will see her and realize she's living there alone.