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A Minor Christmas Miracle

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Keith moved through the festive crowd, careful not to tip over any stray small children. One or two stared up at him, terror-struck, only to be guided away by a flustered parent. As he walked in the general direction of Santa's chair, a very particular laugh caught his attention. It was, to be blunt, a very girly giggle, but the owner was definitely not a little girl. Keith stopped and looked around, fruitlessly trying to spot Anderson in the crowd.

The giggle came again, and Keith tracked it to somewhere near Santa. Was he accompanying someone with a small child, coming to meet Santa? He scanned the line, but nobody even remotely resembled him.

Weird...

He moved closer to the roped-off area and immediately stopped. It was him. Unmistakeable, even side-on and under a silver beard and huge Santa hat. The blue eyes shone out brighter than Rudolph's nose. Keith didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

 

Later, settling down to sit in their usual spot, Keith was eager to share his gossip with Rachel. His mind raced through each scenario. Which to choose to hit her funny-bone? The cryptic comment was an old favourite ploy. Best to wait until Anderson joined them to get the full effect.

Sipping her drink, Rachel then pursed her lips. “Okay, Olbermann, what's going on?”

Keith raised his eyebrows, “Don't know what you mean.”

“C'mon, you're dying to tell me something! Spill.” Rachel prodded him in the side.

Keith could only shrug, the time wasn't right. Thankfully, Anderson chose that moment to arrive and keep Keith from exploding with the anticipation.

 

“Rachel, Keith,” Anderson smiled as he greeted them. He kept smiling as a waitress appeared and placed a glass in front of him. “Thank you.”

Keith winked at Rachel. “The wait staff know who's been naughty and who's been nice.”

The waitress laughed, “Oh, all my good tippers are on my nice list.”

Anderson nodded, “You deserve all the best tips, especially this time of year.”

 

Keith had carefully watched Anderson for any reaction, but his comment seemed to go over his head. A vague discomfort grew within him. Only a minute ago, he'd been so keen to rib Anderson over his moonlighting, but now saying something felt like he'd be spoiling everything. It was a strange feeling, like telling a small child that Santa wasn't real. Keith shook off the thought, aware that Rachel was poking him again.

 

“Thinking of what Santa's going to bring you, Keith?” Rachel teased.

Anderson mused, “Well, that'd depend on how good he's been, hasn't it?”

Keith gulped, guiltily, “I've been good!” He blinked in surprise at his own vehemence. “I think I'm turning into Colbert.”

Rachel giggled, “You'll always be a Grinch in my heart, Keith.”

Anderson laughed. “I saw him today. Stephen, not the Grinch. He was mesmerised by all the Christmas lights. Totally enthralled. He even sat on my lap.”

Rachel raised an eyebrow, “Your lap? Were either of you sporting a Yule log? ”

“Almost.” Anderson descended into a fit of giggles. “I didn't tell you, did I?”

“You didn't tell us that you and Colbert are playing Santa and Mrs Claus make a grab for the North Pole? No, you didn't.” Rachel chuckled.

Anderson grinned. “Not quite. I worked a shift as Santa. It was fun! I was lucky enough to see sunshine in kids' eyes.”

Rachel squealed with joy. “Why didn't you tell us? I would have come to see you. At least tell me you got a picture taken?”

 

At this, Keith pushed his phone across to her.

She stared at the photo. “You knew? You knew and you didn't tell me? I hate you.” She landed a punch on Keith's shoulder in mock anger.

Anderson frowned. “You were there? Why didn't you come over?”

Keith opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again. Finally he spoke. “Well, I wanted to rag on you. Then I saw all those happy kids and I decided to do it here, with Rachel. Then things got out of hand and I just couldn't do it.” He shifted in his seat, unsure of just what he was feeling.

Anderson checked Keith's empty glass. “Did three ghosts visit you or something, Keith?”

“What can I say? You really looked the part and finally melted my bitter, shrivelled, and misanthropic heart.” Keith sighed.

Rachel gave her special signal to the waitress. “All I can say is that this is a Christmas miracle, and it deserves a round of drinks.”

Anderson smiled and proposed a toast. “Merry Christmas, the compliments of the season, and here's to peace and joy for all humanity.”

“Especially Grinches,” Rachel added with a hug for Keith.

“I'll drink to that,” rejoined Keith as their glasses clinked together and glittered, shining like the love in their hearts.