Title: “Lending a Helping Hand” OR “How to be Santa for Thirty Minutes”
by: Sage SK
An old Christmas fic I wrote last year at the end of finals week, this time fully edited. I thought the idea was so cute that it had to be written, even though my ideas seemed to be a little farfetched. Well, when it’s finals week, anything seems to go…I’m terrible. ? Questions, comments and chocolate go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
The snow fell relentlessly as cold weather brought its announcement to subtropical Megakat City. Snow really wasn’t common, but maybe this year there was a slight change in the manual. The snow- white blanket that gave the color its name covered mountains of scrap metal. The Megakat Salvage Yard no longer displayed the mounds of car parts and rusted metal. There was no sound whatsoever; no traffic sounds, no helicopters on patrol. Then again, it was Christmas Eve. People probably decided to take their noise to the Megakat Shopping Mall and hunt down for their kitten’s presents. Hopefully a good seventy percent weren’t going to wait until last minute store discounts. The scenery was perfect. It was so…peaceful. No artist could ever capture such splendor.
Jake Clawson couldn’t agree more. It was Saturday, and with the amount of snow falling, he doubted anybody was crazy enough to drive off into the middle of nowhere to have a car fixed. Smiling warmly, he sat back and enjoyed the view whilst sipping a cup of hot cocoa, snuggling in the navy blue wool sweater his mother had sent from Ireland…at least, that’s where his parents said they were at last.
“What I wouldn’t do to be in Anakata,” he muttered. “But, I suppose this is the next best thing.” He was about to swallow the next sip of chocolate when a sudden scream caught him off guard, causing him to spit it out abruptly. “Chance?” He set his cup down and ran towards the closed bathroom door, trying to figure out what was causing his partner to be waking up the world with such a racket. “Chance? You okay?” he called, as he knocked on the door.
“IT’S *FREEZING*!!” came the shrieking reply. “THE *WATER’S* *FREEZING*!”
Jake sighed and rubbed his eyes as he walked back to the living room, thankful that it really had been a false alarm…at least in his case. He wasn’t too sure about his partner, though. Perking his ears a few minutes later, he heard stomping sounds leading to the next room, followed by a few mutters and maybe even teeth chattering. He picked up his cocoa and took a sip, suddenly squinting in disgust. Nothing worse than cold cocoa. Trotting back downstairs, he put the cup into the microwave, rubbing his cold paws together once he set the timer. “And, the thermostat’s cranked to the max.,” he muttered. “Sheesh, it’s that cold?”
“You tell me,” said a gruff voice, accompanied by marching footsteps into the kitchen.
Jake grinned, almost afraid to burst out laughing. “Enjoyed your shower?”
“How ’bout I take you out into the frozen pond and I show you?” growled a not-so-amused Chance Furlong, as he crossed his muscled arms over his chest wrapped up in the extra large sweater he’d bought for such an occasion. “You were supposed to leave the heater on.”
“I *did*,” laughed Jake, unable to hide his amusement any longer. “The problem is your fifteen minute shower became a half hour.”
Chance smirked, making a face as he walked over to get a cup of chocolate. “Still. You shoulda left it on since this morning.”
Rolling his eyes, Jake got his cup out of the microwave and felt the heat travel through his paws. “You outta know,” he said, “that the heater’s been on since last night, and, I had a pretty warm shower this morning.”
“Ah hah! So it was *you* that stole all the hot water!”
“Gimme a break, Chance. I didn’t take more than ten minutes.”
Chance took a sip of chocolate, deciding to get off the subject, much to his partner’s gratitude. “So! You set? You know we’re never gonna get that tree at this rate.”
“That, and the prices are gonna go through the roof,” agreed Jake, as he drained his cup and set it into the sink. “You got all the ornaments…?”
“Outta the attic, yeah, yeah.” Chance threw on his coat as he grabbed the pick-up’s keys and went to meet the snow outside, Jake following behind while putting on his winter coat.
The caramel tomkat hadn’t gotten far from slamming the garage door behind him when he felt an ice-cold tap on his shoulder, then a whole mountain of them when a pile of snow fell on top of him, covering him from head to toe. Pushing his way out, Jake walked to meet the face of his smirking partner.
“Enjoyed yer shower?” laughed Chance, mimicking his partner’s voice.
Jake didn’t reply. The chattering of his teeth as he made his way to the warmth of the pick-up was enough to give his partner the satisfying remark.
“This has got to be some misunderstanding! Please! You don’t understand!”
The Enforcer guard rolled his eyes as he walked the chubby old kat towards the commander’s office, sullenly wishing his shift to be finally over. He wanted to get back home to his wife, and he abruptly realized that he still hadn’t bought his kitten’s Christmas gifts.
“Just keep walking, pops,” he said. “I wanna get outta here as much as you do. You just cooperate and we’ll let you go in no time.”
“But it is important that I must go! I have a schedule to keep!”
“Yeah, yeah, and so do the rest of us. Keep moving.” He walked into commander’s office, pausing before his superior to give a quick salute. “Sir.”
Commander Feral looked up from the mounds of paper before him, arching a brow immediately after the salute. “Any reason for you to be coming in like this, sergeant?”
The sergeant gulped, keeping his stance, then turning to the old kat beside him. “He would be the reason, sir. Parking in an unauthorized area.”
Commander Feral stood up, unable to believe his ears. “And you brought him all the way over here to tell me that he parked in an unauthorized area?!” he barked. “What happened?! You ran out of tickets?!”
“N-no, Sir,” quavered the sergeant, almost ready to drop in a dead faint. “It’s that…well…” He paused, suddenly walking towards the window and motioning towards the commander. “I believe you should come see for yourself, sir.”
Growling, Feral made his way towards the window, peering down towards the streets in the direction the young enforcer was pointing, disbelieving his eyes.
“It was very hard to explain, Sir.”
“So he’s a little delayed for the Macy’s Christmas Parade.” Feral turned to the old kat. “Is there any reason for you to have a sleigh with eight moose parked in the middle of the street?”
“They’re not moose, my lad,” replied the old kat, stroking the white beard covering his entire neck and the apparent smirk beneath it. “If you’d look closely, they are smaller than that and the antlers are quite a tinier size than that of a moose. I call them reindeer.”
“Just had to take the shortcut, didn’t ya’?” Jake gripped his seat rather hard, muttering something about blessed be the kat who had invented seat belts.
“Will ya’ stop whining already?” Chance stated, as he stirred onto Main Street. “We got outta that shortcut ten minutes ago.”
“Still,” muttered Jake, commanding himself to calm down and relax. “It keeps one traumatized for a good two hours.”
Rolling his eyes, Chance was about to backfire on his partner’s comment when he suddenly slammed his foot into the brakes of the pick- up, causing them to come to an abrupt stop.
“Chance, why are you stopping? The tree seller’s not for another mile.”
Ignoring that remark, Chance stepped out of the pick-up and made his way to the front, not letting his green eyes escape what stood before him.
Jake, unable to contend the curiosity, got out of the truck himself and went to take a look, staring blankly as he finally caught what had caused his partner’s gaze of awe.
“Please tell me I’m seeing things,” Chance murmured.
“You’re not,” said Jake, making his way towards the strange vehicle planted in the middle of Main Street. “Looks like a sleigh to me…”
“I can tell it’s a sleigh.” Chance walked towards the spot where his partner was standing. “What I’d like ta’ know is what it’s doing planted smack in the middle of the road?”
Jake shrugged. “Maybe Macy’s is keeping it there for a while ’til reload.”
“Much to the inconvenience of others.” Chance went up to the front of the sleigh, frowning a tad in confusion as he stared at the eight tiny animals in front of it. “Um, Jake? Most of the displays at Macy’s are supposed to be plastic, right?”
“Most of ’em, yeah.”
“These look pretty real to me.”
Jake blinked when he finally stood beside his partner, trying to figure out why they were glaring at eight…deer, or whatever they called those, out in the middle of the streets causing traffic… Well, not exactly traffic considering they were they only ones out there, but at the rate Chance was going about complaining about the whole thing…
“Seems like one of ’em’s hurt,” stated Chance, breaking Jake out of his thoughts.
Chance went up to the second row of the eight now sitting four legged creatures, squatting down beside it.
“This ‘un. Looks like a busted leg.” He checked the animal’s hind leg, calmly telling it to keep still as he looked for signs of swelling. “Busted leg,” he confirmed. “Looks like he took it pretty bad.”
“How do you know it’s a ‘he’?” Jake asked when he came back with the first aid kit.
“How many females do you know by the name of ‘Dasher’?”
The two kats had already set the cast, trying to figure out how to move the animal without having it put any pressure on its leg. That was when they perked their ears to an array of shouts coming from two kats coming across the streets.
“But you don’t understand! I must keep my schedule! Christmas is only a few hours away and it is imperative that…”
“Yeah, yeah. Move that thing off the streets or else I’ll have the City Salvage Yard take it away for scrap metal.”
Jake and Chance exchanged glances, wondering what was causing Officer Travis, a good friend of theirs since Enforcer days, to be picking on an old kat that appeared to be in his late 60’s, probably 70’s if the beard was removed.
“Um, Travis?” Chance began, watching the young Enforcer officer as he tried to get his point across.
“Help me out here, Furlong,” pleaded Travis. “Please tell this guy that…”
The old kat paused, eyeing both Jake and Chance with a look of much surprise.
“You…” he told Jake while Chance was distracted with Travis.
“Me?” Jake arched a brow towards the old kat, wondering what was going on in his head.
“Yes, you!! You’ve got to help me!” The old kat grabbed Jake by the collar, looking directly into his brown eyes. “I’ve got a schedule to keep, and only you and your partner are capable of helping me!”
“I don’t understand…”
“Don’t what understand?” asked Chance, as he approached the two kats, leaving Travis walking back to the Enforcer building grumbling.
“You two…you are the only ones capable of doing the job!”
“Will you kindly stop beating around the bush and tell us what this is all about?” The old kat walked back to the sleigh, dragging a curious pair of mechanics behind him. Sighing heavily, he pointed towards the strange creature they’d tended earlier, kneeling beside it and patting it gently on the head. “It’s about this year’s Christmas…how am I to deliver the toys when Dasher is injured?”
“Deliver the toys?” Jake arched both brows, suddenly beginning to wonder what this old kat was under… Too much eggnog, perhaps?
“No, I don’t drink eggnog, Jacob,” stated the older kat.
Chance squinted, perhaps a little too hard. “How did you know his name?”
“I know who you are,” said the kat, suddenly standing in front of the sleigh. “I know about you, Chancellor. You were the one that asked for a shiny platinum F-14 model when you were a kitt.”
Now Chance had to blink once, no, maybe two or three times to make sure he heard well. “But…but that was back in…I mean…I was…”
“Ten, if I am not mistaken.”
Unable to stop blinking, Chance turned to his partner. “Jake…did you…”
“I heard,” said a blank-faced Jake, suddenly turning to the old kat. “If you know our names, then that means that you know…”
“Of course, I wouldn’t say it out loud in public.”
“R-Right…” Jake exchanged absent-minded glances with Chance, then spoke up again. “So, what are we supposed to call you? Santa? Mr. Claws? Kris Kringle? Mr. Kringle? Nick?”
“It doesn’t matter what you call me right now, Jacob,” replied Nick, heading back to his sleigh and stepping inside to make sure everything was in place. “As for now, I must get this sleigh back on course, but with my poor Dasher out of commission, there’s no way I can set this schedule!”
“But, isn’t there any way you can ride with only seven reindeer?” asked Chance.
“They feel each other’s pain, Chance. If one is hurt, the others will stay and try to protect it. There is no way I’ll be able to fly this sleigh if all my reindeer are out on a mission to keep Dasher from any harm until he heals.”
Jake sighed, then rubbed his eyes a tad. “Chance, better help Santa with the sleigh back on the pick-up. We’re gonna hafta’ take him to the hangar.”
T-Bone paced in the hangar, not too fond of the idea Nick had proposed, and not too fond of the fact that Razor had agreed to it out of the kindness of his heart.
“So lemme get this straight. We fly towards the Mayor’s place and just deliver the gift in the Turbokat?”
“Just be glad it’s the only house left, T-Bone,” said Nick, as he mended Dasher’s broken leg once more. “I was able to complete that world round trip just a few hours ago…that was until my poor little Dasher broke his leg.”
“So I suppose it requires us going around saying ‘Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night’?”
“Nah, nobody could hear it anyway,” said Razor, moving to a safer area of the hangar. “But, considering the way you yell, I don’t think anybody would have trouble…” He ducked, dodging the gauze T-Bone tossed in his general direction. “Hey! Those are supposed to aid the sick!”
“It’ll be aiding you in a couple minutes once I actually start cracking your bones…”
“Children! Children! It’s Christmas Eve! If you want the mayor to receive his gift, you must take off now!”
T-Bone paused, then gave out a small sigh. “Okay, fine…let’s do this…” He marched to the Turbokat, Razor tailing close behind. Both SWAT Kats hopped into their precious mode of transportation. “Gift ready?”
“Ready,” said Razor, holding the golden wrapped box in his paws.
“And remember,” began Nick.
“Yeah, yeah. Eat the cookies and drink the milk.”
The Turbokat was revved up and in no time took off from the underground hangar. As the jet headed towards that destination in the merciless piles of snow coming in towards the cockpit, each SWAT Kat had the same thought in his head — was a clump of coal really worth the trouble?
The roof of the Manx residence was a lot larger than T-Bone had imagined. He was able to find a landing space for the jet without difficulty. Hopping out to the roof, both him and Razor wandered across the snow covered surface, wondering just which one of the ten chimneys would take them to the living room where the tree was located.
“Why don’t we just used the front door?” demanded T-Bone, peering down into a seemingly smaller chimney.
“Because it destroys tradition,” simply replied Razor, as he pointed down the chute where the chimney appeared to be showing them towards their destination.
“Um, Razor? Chimney, small. T-Bone, big. No way am I gonna fit down that thing.”
“Oh? And, how do you suppose we deliver the mayor’s gift without getting inside the traditional way?”
“Simple, Oh Small ‘Un,” said T-Bone, grabbing his partner by the back collar of his g-suit. “*You* go down!”
Razor never had time to react as he was literally thrown down the chimney to meet the ashes and soot waiting for him at the bottom, gift and all.
“It’s a promise…you’ll pay for this one, Furlong,” came a pained voice through the helmet intercom.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” replied T-Bone. “Just be happy. You’re not the one freezing your tail off on the roof of the Manx residence at midnight.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Razor picked himself off the soot and brushed off the ashes from his g-suit as best as he could. He was about to make another comment when he suddenly paused, feeling his eyes fly wide at the marvel before him. “Whoa, T-Bone….you should see this…”
“What’s so breathtaking that’s making you take forever to leave the gift and bring your tail up here?”
“It’s…the tree… I mean, it’s…wow.” Razor’s eyes couldn’t help but admire the majestic Christmas tree that stood in front of him, flashing its blends of green, red, blue and gold, surrounded by snow white tinsels and colorful globes, ending with a golden star on the top. It was a masterpiece. He was about to mention this last part to T-Bone when he suddenly felt a breathing sensation down his neck, sort of like a snort. Feeling the fur on his neck stand on end, Razor abruptly turned around, finding himself face to face with a set of gnarling fangs. Gulping, he spoke into the intercom. “T-Bone…”
“Didja put the gift under the tree?”
“Razor! I’m freezing my tail up here! What’s taking you so long?!”
Razor leaped to his feet and ran, managing to toss the gift below the tree as he made his way to the front door, the Doberman chasing close behind snarling. “T-Bone, I’m going out the front door.”
“But didn’t you say that…”
“Never mind what I said! I got Blitz on my tail and I can’t risk getting caught!” The SWAT Kat burst out the front door and into the cold driven snow, trying his best to escape the watchdog following him close behind. ‘Wonder if Santa had this problem,’ he thought, as he scampered up a tree. His tail, however, was a few seconds late, as the feeling of teeth sinking into the tip caused him to yelp out into the night. There Razor remained for a good while until the Doberman decided it couldn’t take the cold anymore and ambled its way back into the residence. “Watch dog without a doubt,” he muttered through clenched teeth, getting off the tree branch and fighting against the snow clinging to his g-suit. “T-Bone, mission accomplished. I really appreciate a ride as of now…”
“That’s a big affirmative, partner,” came the voice of T-Bone, and then the faint sounds of jet engines coming in his way.
“It is hard, isn’t it?” Nick asked as he hitched the sleigh, satisfied with the fact that the last present was delivered, as well as his reindeer’s leg healed in no time.
“Indeed…” Chance chattered, soaking his cold feet into yet more boiling hot water.
“And painful,” added Jake, wrapping an extra Band-Aid to the bite and cut to the tip of his tail.
“Well, take it from me. I have to be up all night, one house after another. I’ve been chased down by more watch dogs than you have, Jacob.” Nick pulled the reindeer out into the yard, pulling the sleigh out of the hangar opening. “Is there anything you two learned from tonight?” he asked, as they followed him outside.
“It’s obviously the giving.” Chance smiled. “Look, Santa…uh…Nick, anytime you need our help again give us a holler.”
Jake nodded. “What he said. We’ll be here to help you.”
Nick smiled, the grin shown through the white beard hanging over the crimson red suit.
“You children take care of yourselves. You have each other, and that’s the most important gift you each have to give. Your friendship has been built up to be something even more valuable than what money can buy.” He hitched the sleigh, shouting a small order of commands towards his reindeer. “Merry Christmas to both of you.” As he took off into the night, the slightest hint of his voice was made audible as he gave off one last greeting. “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
The two tomkats stood there contemplating the disappearing figure, then exchanged glances, each giving each other the hint that it was better to go back inside than just freeze to death.
“Hot chocolate?” Jake asked while they ambled into the kitchen.
“Hot chocolate,” was Chance’s reply as he made himself into the living room. There had been a pause between his paces and his sentences, but the young tabby finally managed to spill it out. “Hey, Jake?”
“Do…you believe in miracles?”
Jake smiled as he mixed the ingredients together. “I do. Do you?”
Chance let a toothy grin form on his face as he stared at the majestic Christmas tree that stood before them in their living room, almost like the one he’d seen only in his dreams….the one they never got… “I do, buddy…” he answered towards his partner, adding a silent prayer of thanks. “I do…”
———- The End ———-
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