This is a short story my friend Jon Miranda and I devised for some original characters I intend to use in a larger future project. Jon created the character of Brock, all other original characters are my own. Santa is based a little on his depiction in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum.
“I wanna see Santa!” cheered Brock.
Brock was nine years old and was at the mall with his father, Rudolf, and his baby brother Ben.
Rudolf noticed the small bench area, now fitted into Santa's throne, with an elf helper. A small line of kids were there, waiting to tell Santa their Christmas wishes and get a photo with him.
“All right,” replied Rudolf, with the little chuckle in his voice that always accompanied it when he was pleased.
Brock smiled and hurried to the line as his father followed with the stroller as Ben chanted “Bwock,” the only way he knew how to say his brother's name, which also happened to be his first word. Rudolf and his husband Isaac had both tried to teach Ben their names. Surprisingly, Ben instead said “Abiguhl,” meaning “Abigail,” the name of his birth mother and aunt who was still staying with them.
As Brock got to the front of the line, Rudolf took Ben out of his stroller and helped Brock hold him as the two brothers went to see Santa.
“Toby said that there was no way the real Santa Claus would be at our mall,” Brock commented, knowing that Toby was a big liar. His father would be honest with him though.
“Why shouldn't it be the real Santa?” countered Rudolf.
The elf—likely a college student needing some extra money—waved Brock over, and the young boy walked up and was helped onto Santa's lap.
“Well, hello Brock and Ben!” chuckled Santa. He was a round, jolly man with a rich, white beard and kind eyes.
“Thanna!” cried Ben happily.
“Hi...” Brock said timidly.
“Well, Brock, is Ben being a good little brother?” Santa's voice was deep and warm.
“Yeah, um, he's good,” he replied. “Um, are you the real Santa?” He tilted his head, looking at Santa.
"Well, of course I am!” Santa laughed merrily. “Remember how I brought you a splendid copy of Thor's mighty hammer Mjolnir last year?"
Brock's mouth dropped open. “Wow, you really are him!” He began bouncing on Santa's lap.
“Now,” Santa began, “did you leave your letter on the window sill this year for my friend Kilter to pick up?”
“Yeah, my daddy told me to. He said it'd get to you faster. Does that really work?”
“Of course! Kilter goes around and picks them all up, and we try our best to fill the order. Now, you've been a good boy, right?”
“Yes!” Brock cheered, then he stopped as he remembered something. “Well, I did get in a fight with Toby when he made fun of my friend Rubien. I punched him in the eye.”
Santa looked at Brock gravely.
“Ah, him. I don't like my children fighting and hurting each other, but sometimes boys are very naughty and make other boys act naughtier. I'll try to bring him something nice regardless. Just try to restrain yourself when he turns up.”
Brock nodded. “I will, Santa, I promise!”
The elf gave candy canes to Brock and Ben and told them to smile for a photo and took it, handing a quickly made cheap print to Rudolf.
“Thank you!” Brock said as he climbed off of Santa's lap.
“Don't forget Ben!” Santa reminded the boy.
“Oh, right!” Brock said as the elf helped Ben into his arms. “He's been really good! Can you make sure he gets something really cool?”
“I will!” promised Santa. “Ben, who's your best big brother?”
“Bwock!” called Ben.
Santa laughed as Rudolf stepped forward and helped Ben back into the stroller.
“All right,” Rudolf sighed, “let's get you your clothes now.”
“No, I don't want to go buy clothes right now.”
“Come on, you're growing like a weed!” Rudolf reminded his son as he leaned over to him.“And I'll let you pick out superhero shirts!”
This changed Brock's mind and he grinned widely. “Yeah! Yeah!”
Rudolf chuckled and led his son over to H&M.
“Okay, you go find some shirts and pants,” he instructed. “Look for ones that are a little big for you. I'll pick out your socks and underwear."
“Ew, yuck,” Brock scowled as he walked over the racks of clothes and began picking out anything he might like to wear.
“Hello, Brock,” said a low, melodious voice.
Brock felt a chill ripple down his spine. Something felt very wrong. He looked around. “Hello?” he asked.
A tall man with pale blonde hair and pale grey eyes stepped in front of Brock.
“Nice to see you," the man went on, looking down at the little boy with a cruel smile. "Fancy seeing you here. I suppose you don't remember me?”
“No,” Brock said, shaking his head.
“My name,” the man said quietly, “is Damian, and I've known about you for a long time. I know more about you than your fathers have let you know.”
Brock stepped back. “I don't know any Damian… you're a stranger!” He frowned and shook his head.
“Brock, haven't you wondered where you came from?”
Brock shook his head. “N-no...”
Rudolf was a few yards from Brock, holding a packages of underwear and socks.
“Brock?” he called.
“Come on,” Damian almost whispered. “They only lie to you.”
“No,” Brock retorted, shaking his head. “Leave me alone!” He tried to walk past the man.
Ben was looking around in his stroller. “Bwock!” he cried, as if he was unable to see his brother.
Damian stepped towards Brock. “I just want to tell you the truth.”
“Leave me alone!”
A store employee asked Rudolf to calm down Ben. Rudolf lifted the baby from the stroller and hugged him, looking around anxiously for Brock.
“Excuse me,” said a deep voice behind Brock. “This child does not belong with you.”
A hand placed itself on Brock's shoulder and he looked up to see a tall old man with piercing blue eyes. He had a long, white beard over his chest and wore a scarlet robe with silver trim.
Brock gasped. “Santa?”
“Come on, Brock, I'll take you back to your father.”
He turned to Damian.
“And if you dare try to harm this child again, there will be consequences." He helped Brock pick up his clothes and took him to Rudolf.
“Dad!” called Brock as he spotted his father.
Rudolf hurried to hug his son. “Brock, there you are!”
“Better keep an eye on this one,” said the tall old man, before he suddenly changed before their eyes into the Santa they'd seen earlier. “Merry Christmas to you all!” he said and walked out of the store.
“Thanna!” called Ben happily before turning to his brother and calling “Bwock!”
“What happened, Brock?” asked Rudolf.
“Some man was trying to talk to me,” was the reply. “He told me he wanted to tell me the truth about my life.”
Rudolf sighed. “Well, there are a few secrets we have, Brock, but we'll tell you when you're ready. Right now, we just want you to be a happy boy, okay?”
Brock shrugged. “I don't know if I should trust you, though.”
Rudolf smiled. “Santa trusts us with you, is that good enough?”
“All right,” Brock replied, grinning, “I'm very happy.”
Rudolf chuckled, bought Brock's clothes and then took his sons to the car.
“We'll have a merry Christmas, won't we?” he asked as he buckled in Ben.
Brock nodded his head and smiled brightly. “I know. I love you dad.”
“Love you too, buddy,” chuckled Rudolf as he got in and buckled up.
As the car drove away, Damian watched from the parking lot.
“Someday,” he whispered to himself, “someday... I'll make them pay.”