I hope I managed to do this justice! Enjoy 🙂
Deal or no Deal
Christopher poured the tea himself, then reached for the bowl of sugar cubes “Three, right?”
Nicholas nodded. The scent of chocolate and cinnamon rose from the mug; it reminded him of home. He only ever drank tea when he came here, much preferring the thick and creamy hot cinnamon cocoa that Rebecca made special for him, or a good spot of brandy when time was short.
Christopher sat across from him in the small den and raised his cup. “To friendship and good health.”
“And Christmas,” Nicholas added. He took a sip of the tea. Yes, he wasn’t a tea drinker, but damned if this wasn’t great tea!
“It’s always a pleasure to have you here, Nicholas, but I’m afraid my answer will be the same as last year…and all those before.” Christopher wasted no time in addressing the purpose for Nicholas’ visit—the intent was always the same and had been since the very first one.
Nicholas set down his mug. “I think you would do well to reconsider.” He surveyed the small room they sat in: the small hearth, the patchwork chairs. “Imagine what you could do with the money.”
“Retire. Buy a bigger home. Take Anagaia on a date that will leave her breathless. We’ve been through all this many times before,” Christopher chided him with only the slightest hint of irritation. His affable and tranquil spirit was not something easily destabilized. “I do not believe that I need these things to be happy.”
“I’m sure Anagaia would beg to differ.”
“I am certain that Mother Nature has made important things to occupy her mind,” he said with emphasized finality. “We all have your duties, Nicholas. I am still not ready to give up mine.”
Always the same story. Every year. Nicholas couldn’t remember how many times he had tried now to convince Christopher to walk away from a title he had carried for more than a thousand years. He was nothing if not persistent. Stubborn, Rebecca called him.
“One day you will be. Why not this day?”
Christopher bestowed upon him his trademark stare of sage experience. The man might have been in the business longer than he, but it did not condone his high air of ‘father knows best’. “Will there ever come a day when you will be ready to step away from your Night Ride?”
“Maybe.” Christopher’s stare intensified to the ‘father knows when you’re lying’. “Okay, I don’t think so. But you deserve to rest and let a younger man take over.”
“And perhaps one day, I will pass on the mantle to that young man. But you are no boy anymore.” Christopher pulled at his white beard, a long tail that fell past his knees.
Nicholas instinctively reached for his own. He kept his far more trimmed, nice and round about the face. Perhaps he was a few hundred years old, but he was relatively younger than the old man before him.
“Have you not monopolized enough of the world already?”
Nicholas had done a good job of amassing his territorial jurisdiction. Canada had been an easy steal. As had France. The others had taken more time and more effort, but now he held three full continents and all of Europe, except for the coveted UK. “Manifest destiny, Christopher. It is my birthright. The children here already believe that I’m the one who gifts them. Why not satisfy their delusions?”
Christopher’s expression grew melancholic. “Perhaps you have forgotten why we do this, Nicholas. It is not for the recognition or the fame. It is for the joy we bring to the children and the joy that we feel in turn. I do not need them to believe that Father Christmas brings their presents. I just need them to know that they will receive what they deserve. Hopeful expectation met by joyful delivery.”
Nicholas shrugged. “I know that.”
“Then respect my choice to stay. It makes me happy.”
“If you say so.”
He did not overextend his stay after that final refusal. He knew that there would be no success this year. But he would try again.
Christopher knew the same. “See you next Epiphany, Nicholas. Take care of yourself.”
“You too, Christopher.”
He exited the small hut in the Scottish Highlands where his sleigh waited. Blitzen pawed the ground with excitement upon seeing him, but fell to solemnity at the look of disappointment on his face.
“Hey, Santa! How…not good, eh?” Head elf Holly frowned. She passed him the reins as he came to sit beside her.
“Not this year,” he confirmed. “But don’t worry. There’s always the next.”
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,
© 2015. Faith Rivens.