Felisa stood on the fringes of the dance floor, watching the others–urchins and a few adults–gyrating; it put her in mind of the occasional celebrations the Folk had when catnip was ingested. She was learning to enjoy human music more and more, though, so after a while, she made her own attempt at dancing. She broke off after a while, when food was set out.
Though several of the urchins camped by the table, eating at an extraordinary rate, she was able to enjoy her own treats.
She’d heard the adults and children talking about someone named “Steam Santa,” but she didn’t really understand who that was, or what it meant. So the sudden appearance of a large flying machine in the sky startled her badly, and she scurried back, nearly running into Miss Falcon. Nervously, she watched as the machine landed and two figures emerged–one large, fat, and dressed in red, the other smaller, with pointed ears. They went to the seats prepared for them, and the urchins lined up, ready to talk to the strange man, who evidently was Steam Santa.
Under the urging of Miss Falcon and Tepic Harlequin, Felisa joined the line, trying to hear what was happening as the urchins, one by one, sat on the large man’s lap. As the urchin who had been in line before her, Nathan, finished his turn, Lisa shuffled her feet nervously.
“Your turn, Lisa,” Tepic whispered to her. “Off yer go!” She swallowed, and walked forward hesitantly.
“Erm… hello, sir,” she said softly, stopping several feet away. She quailed inwardly under their quizzical gazes.
“Step up, girl,” the smaller man said gruffly. She looked at him rather fearfully, but went forward another couple of steps. “Hop up here,” the larger man said.
As she finally, cautiously, carefully clambered up and gingerly perched on the large man’s knee, the smaller man ripped off his goggles and stared hard at her. “What the…” she heard him say softly.
The large man looked at him. “Yes, huh?” The smaller man frowned.
Felisa shivered a little, wondering at this exchange. But then Steam Santa asked her, “So have you been good this year?”
She hesitated. She still didn’t really understand the human concepts of “good” and “evil,” which seemed so much more nuanced than how cats viewed such. Finally, she said softly, “I… I think so.”
The smaller man nodded once. “And what would you like for Christmas?” asked Steam Santa.
Lisa tried to pluck up her courage. She had heard Nat ask the man for a new leg. Could he… was it remotely possible…? She kept her head down, but looked up at Steam Santa through her eyelashes. “I… I don’t suppose you… could make me what I was?”
For the first time, she looked closely into Steam Santa’s eyes, and saw a gentle gaze behind the goggles. “Christmas is the time for magic and wishes,” he said. “Who knows what the future may bring?”
Felisa looked a bit confused, but said, “OK.” Another thought suddenly struck her. “Umm… could you also make sure all the cats are well-fed tonight?”
The smaller man sighed and grumbled, but Steam Santa smiled. “I’m sure we can put out fishy treats for the cats.”
Lisa smiled a little in return. “Thank you, sir.”
“All right, then,” Steam Santa said. “Be good, and we’ll see what we can do.”
She scrambled back onto her feet, bobbed her head to them both, and retreated. “This way, Lisa!” called Tepic, who was standing by Miss Falcon. She scurried over to them, and received a nuzzle from Miss Falcon.
She quietly told Tepic about her request for the cats of the city, and was told that Steam Santa actually delivered his gifts on Christmas Eve, which was in a week’s time. She decided not to tell any of the Folk about it, in case something went wrong. In the meantime, she would simply have to wait and see if anything would happen to her.