A/N I am working on my other stories, I promise, but I had this idea and an epically long commute and just thought I'd go for it. 'Tis the season, right?
Are You Santa?
'Twas the night before Christmas and the house was quiet and still. Not a creature stirred, not even five year old Clara Oswald, who had snuck out of bed and tried so very hard to stay awake to see Santa Claus, but had finally fallen asleep in front of the fireplace. When up on the roof there came quite a clatter. The heavy thump of wood against wood. Clara woke with a start. She listened closely, wondering if it had been a dream, when suddenly she heard the bellow of an unfamiliar word, "Geronimo", and with a loud crash and a great puff of ash, a man came down the chimney and landed right in her fireplace.
"Why hello! Sorry, saw the chimney, couldn't resist... again. It is Christmas, isn't it? I have made that mistake before, and people look at you rather strangely if you come down their chimneys other days." The little girl looked at him strangely regardless. The Doctor looked around him, noting the small, but cozy family room with a lovely little tree in the corner. At least he got the timing right for once. He looked back at the child. Clara never mentioned a child in the family, "I think maybe I got the space part a bit wrong this time. This isn't the Oswald's residence, is it?"
"Oh good. Who might you be then? Didn't know there'd be any children joining us tonight."
"I'm Clara. Are you Santa?"
"Oh... OH! Right. Yes. Santa. Santa Claus. Mr. Claus. That's me."
She scrunched up her nose in concentration as she looked him over carefully. It was Clara's contemplative look exactly, just shrunken on a smaller face. How had be not realized it before? He could be so think some times. "Why are you skinny?"
"Oh, well... I don't know. Just sort of the body I have (though you should see the last one, he was proper skinny)."
"And you're not in red."
"No... I'm not. I think it might be a bit flash for me. But it looks good on you," he pointed to her red and white candy cane pajamas.
"Why don't you have any presents?"
"I... forgot... them," the child looked a little distressed, "...in my... sleigh. Shall I fetch them?" The little girl nodded. "Back in a sec."
He began to climb up the chimney and soon completely disappeared from view. Suddenly just his head peeked out from the top of the fireplace, "Just to double check, (always got to check it twice, you know) what did you ask for for Christmas?"
"A caterpillar? Is that some kind of toy?"
"No," she said with a laugh, as if he was being ridiculous. "The kind that becomes a butterfly."
"The insect? Why do you want that?"
"I found one this summer. I wanted to keep it as a pet. I wanted to see it change. So I put it in a jar with nice twigs and lots of leaves to eat. But..."
"It didn't change?"
"I didn't know it needed air too," the child looked genuinely dismayed, and tinged with guilt. "I'd do better this time."
"Bet you would. Back in a tick," the Doctor's head disappeared once again. Clara waited, not sure how long it took to retrieve a sack of toys from a sleigh. Only a moment later she heard a cry and watched the silly man fall down the chimney in a great cloud of ash. He got to his feet and said, "Hello Clara, I'm back. Did you miss me?"
"You were only gone seven seconds."
"Right..." it had taken a good deal more time for him to run his errands and locate a Santa suit, "I like that you counted. What do you think of the outfit? I think it brings out my eyes," he did a bit of a twirl to show off his red suit and beard.
"You're still too skinny," the little girl said through giggles.
"Well I'll have to work on that."
"Here," she handed him a plate of cookies.
He looked down at the plate, a large, goofy grin spreading over his face, "Jammie Dodgers are my favourite."
"Me too," Clara grabbed a cookie and sat down on the floor. The Doctor sat down too. He took a sip of milk and passed the glass to her, "That gives you germs."
"Yeah, probably right. But it is Christmas. I don't think germs work on Christmas."
She eyed him skeptically, but still took a sip, "You forgot your toy sack again."
"No I didn't."
"I don't see it."
"Well it's around here somewhere," he glance around him, then seemed to pat down his pockets before pulling a small bag out of his sleeve with a triumphant "Tada!"
Clara looked at him sideways, "That's your toy sack?"
"'Course it is. Why, what's wrong with it?"
"It's too small!" she cried, as if it should be obvious.
"Not to fear," the Doctor reached in (the bag was so slight it was a wonder his hand even fit). When he pulled his hand out he was holding a present about the size of a cookie jar.
The girl's eyes went wide with wonder, "How'd you do that?"
"It's b-" the Doctor stopped himself. That wasn't a phrase he wanted her to remember. "It's a bit of Christmas magic. Would you like to open it?" A great look of anticipation spread across her face and yet she hesitated. He could tell she didn't know if she was allowed. "Oh go on. It's past midnight after all. And it's a special occasion. How often do you have cookies with Santa?"
She smiled at him again and shredded the paper. She simply glowed when she saw what it was and once again the Doctor saw his Clara shining out of the little girl. The look of joy and wonder that he loved so much. That he worked so hard to illicit. How strange and delightful to see it in a small face. "What is it?" She asked, staring in concentration through the large glass jar before her.
"It's a caterpillar, just like you asked for."
"Can I hold her?" The Doctor unscrewed the lid and gently placed the insect in the young girl's hand. She held it delicately, lowering her head so she and the caterpillar were at eye level. "She's all different colours."
"That's called 'iridescent'."
"Does she have to breathe?"
"Yes. But don't you worry. I already poked some holes in the lid."
The girl looked over the caterpillar's new home. She was frowning slightly, "You don't have any leaves."
"She doesn't eat leaves."
Little Clara looked up inquisitively, "What does she eat?"
"Well that's the best part. She's an ami caterpillar, she gets energy from feelings, like you do from milk and Jammie Dodgers. She needs someone around to spend time with her, and talk to her, and laugh with her. She gets her energy from your company. So you'll have to take good care of her, because ami caterpillar can't be alone. They need friends"
"And if I look after her she'll become a butterfly!"
"I wanna be a butterfly."
"You will be."
She made a face, "That's silly. People don't become butterflies, people stay people."
"Ah, but they grow up, they change, and I bet you one day you'll even fly away." Suddenly the doctor smacked himself in the face. "I got it wrong. I thought I was meeting her here, but I'm suppose to pick up Cl-" the Doctor stopped himself just in time, no need to confuse the poor girl, "Claus, Mrs. Claus."
"Why do you have to pick her up?" the child asked, still staring lovingly down at her caterpillar.
"For Christmas. I'm taking her to her dad's place for dinner."
"But," she looked up at him strangely, "but you're working."
"All done. You, Clara Oswald, were my last stop," he rumbled her hair affectionately, which earn him a wide grin, quickly followed by a yawn. "You're tired? 'Course you're tired, it's the middle of the night." He help her return the caterpillar to its home and sealed the lid. "Time for bed for the both of you."
She nodded sleepily and got out of her seat, tightly clutching the jar against her chest. "Clara," he called, she looked back at him with tired eyes, "People are going to tell you that this wasn't real and eventually you'll believe them. That's fine. But no matter how old you get and how much you change, just remember: there is magic in the world."
She smiled, hugging the jar tightly, "I won't forget. Happy Christmas, Santa."
"Happy Christmas, Clara Oswald," I will see you soon.
A/N Yes it's cheesy, but 'tis the season for that too.