Title: Merry Christmas, Carl Grimes
Word Count: 2279
Fandom: The Walking Dead
Summary: Carl's only five, he should still believe in Santa.
Author's Note: It was in my head, so I wrote it. This is unbeta'd - if you see anything that needs to be fixed, let me know! As always, none of the TWD characters belong to me (sadly). I just like to take them out and play with them from time to time. No profit, other than making myself smile. :-)
Rick Grimes was pissed off. Shane had never seen him quite this mad and, to be honest, he didn't quite get it. Granted, he wasn't a dad himself. Maybe that was the problem.
"So once I finally get Carl to stop crying, he tells me that this kid on the bus, Billy somebody-or-other, told him that there's no Santa Claus. Can you imagine? Carl's only five, for God's sake! Lori tried to talk to Carl about it, but he didn't believe her. Said that Billy knows everything." Rick rolled his eyes. "I've got half a mind to go drag this kid out of school and give him a talking to. Maybe a ride in the backseat of the squad car to the station too, just for good measure. Let his mom come get him out and I can have a word with her too."
Shane cracked up laughing. "Would you listen to yourself? You seriously want to go drag some kid out of class and toss him in jail just because he told Carl that Santa isn't real? Oh wait, I know! We can break out the rubber hoses and beat him too. How does that sound?" Shane only laughed harder when Rick turned his glare on him. "Come on, man, settle down, would you? There's another way around this without you abusing your power and scaring the hell out of some kid."
"It's just... Shane, Carl was heartbroken! I've never seen him cry like that, not ever." Rick looked out the window, not wanting Shane to see the tears in his eyes. "He was inconsolable."
Shane stopped laughing and sighed as he put his hand on Rick's shoulder. "Look, I can understand. That's your boy; you don't want to see him upset. And I have to admit that I was pretty torn up when I learned that Santa wasn't real. Carl's young enough to still believe for a while. So you and me, brother, we're going to make him believe again."
Rick looked at Shane, his brows furrowed. "What do you have in mind?"
Shane just grinned and gathered up what was left of their lunch. "We're going to that new costume shop over on 12th. Then we're going to the toy store after work. Just make sure you park out back of the costume shop. I don't want anyone to see this."
He tossed their lunch in the trash can at the corner as Rick drove by and buckled in. He couldn't help the smile on his face; this was going to be awesome!
* * * * *
Three days later, Christmas Eve
"Daddy, I don't want to." Carl sat in the floor in front of the TV, clutching his stuffed bear and sulking.
Rick sighed and knelt in the floor next to his small son. "But Carl, Santa will be hungry after his long trip. You always leave him a plate of cookies and some milk. He'll be so disappointed if you don't do it this year."
"I told you, Daddy. Santa's not real. He's just something mommies and daddies make up for their kids. Billy Wallace said so and he knows everything. He's twelve, you know." Carl sniffled and hugged his bear tighter.
"Billy Wallace," Rick thought. "I'll remember that name, I don't give a damn what Shane says." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Carl," he began, but stopped speaking when Lori came over and put her hand on his shoulder. She knelt in the floor on the other side of Carl and scooped him up in her arms. "How about this, Carl? We'll go get a plate of cookies and leave it out for Daddy to snack on later. Does that sound ok?"
Carl nodded and rested his head on Lori's shoulder. She winked at Rick as she carried Carl to the kitchen. Rick smiled as he watched them. He couldn't wait for Carl's surprise. He just hoped Shane could pull it off convincingly.
* * * * *
Four hours later, the Grimes house was dark and silent. Shane pulled his Jeep to a stop a block away. It wouldn't do for the headlights to wake Carl up. He grinned and checked his outfit in the rearview mirror. He had to admit, he looked pretty damn convincing! He opened the back of his Jeep and grabbed a big red bag. He slung it over his shoulder and winced at the weight. It was possible that he and Rick had gone overboard with all the toys. He thought of the smile on Carl's face and knew it would be worth it though.
As he walked up the driveway, he just had one thought, “I hope Rick left the door unlocked and told Lori what's going on. I'd hate to get shot on Christmas Eve."
Once inside the Grimes house, Shane took his time putting presents out, making sure to make a lot of noise so Carl would hear him. He kept an eye on the stairs, watching for Carl to come down. His bag was almost empty and he was starting to worry a bit when finally, he heard the sound of little feet running down the hallway upstairs. He smothered a grin and pretended to be surprised when he looked up and caught Carl looking down at him, wide-eyed.
"Ho ho ho, little one! What are you doing out of bed?" Santa-Shane stood up and walked over to the stairs. "You know Santa doesn't bring presents unless everyone's asleep!" He put his hands on his stomach and gave a deep belly-laugh. God, this was great fun!
Carl rubbed his eyes and looked again. He could hardly believe it. Santa WAS real! "Santa, you're here! But... But Billy Wallace said you're not real. He said you're make believe." Carl walked down the stairs and stood in front of Santa-Shane, his little eyes huge with wonder.
Shane gave his best Santa laugh and scooped Carl up in his arms. "Well, Carl, I know of this Billy Wallace, and you really shouldn't believe everything he tells you. As you can see, I am real."
Carl tugged at Santa-Shane's beard. "Ouch," Shane said, mentally giving thanks that the glue held. "That hurt, young man!"
Carl threw his arms around Santa-Shane's neck and hugged him hard. "Sorry, Santa, I had to make sure. You're really real! I can't wait to tell Billy!! And Mommy and Daddy too! You want to meet them?"
Now that the shock and sleep was wearing off, excitement started to set in and Carl was talking a mile a minute. Shane let him go on for a few minutes and then said, "Let's not wake your Mommy and Daddy, ok? They work really hard and need their sleep. I tell you what, though. I'll put the rest of these presents under the tree and then we'll go have a snack in the kitchen, how does that sound?"
Carl smiled really big and wiggled to get down. "I can help!" He ran for the bag and started digging presents out. He had a comment for each present and he just couldn't resist shaking some of them. "Hey, this one is for Mommy." Carl gave Santa a big smile as he gently placed the package under the tree, right in the front. "Oooh, and this one is for Daddy!" He showed the package to Santa-Shane, his eyes alight with mischief. "What did you bring for Daddy?"
Santa-Shane just laughed and took the package, putting it under the tree next to Lori's. "It's a surprise, silly. Come on, let's go have a cookie before I have to go."
They sat at the table together, eating cookies and drinking milk as they talked. Carl was full of stories, telling about his school, his friends, his parents, pretty much everything he could think of to talk about. Shane just laughed with him and made little comments here and there. He loved this kid, had loved him since the day he was born. Finally, Carl started to yawn and Shane knew it was time to get going.
"Carl, I have really enjoyed spending time with you but I've got a lot more stops to make. I'd better get going if I'm going to make it to every house in the world before morning!" Carl nodded sleepily and said, "Will you tuck me in? I'm too little to tuck myself and Daddy's still asleep."
Santa-Shane nodded and picked Carl up, holding him in the crook of his arm. "Of course I will." They trooped up the stairs, Shane trying his best to be quiet. He got Carl tucked into bed and made sure that the nightlight was still on. Carl was so tired that he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, his teddy bear tucked under his arm. Shane bent down and kissed Carl's cheek. "Good night, little man."
He slipped out of Carl's room and pulled the door almost closed. He turned around to see Rick leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed over his chest and a smile on his face. Shane nodded his head toward the stairs and put his finger to his lips, motioning for Rick to be quiet. They trooped downstairs together and stopped in the living room, Rick's eyes taking in the tree and all the presents there. He whispered, "I've been sitting up there, listening to you two. You know we'll never be able to top this year, right? I mean, look at all this!" He waved his hand at the tree. "This was priceless, Shane. Thank you."
Shane grinned and shook his head. "Nah, it was no big deal, Rick. You know I love you guys. I was happy to do it. But I do have to get going. It'll take the rest of the night to get this beard off!"
They laughed as Rick walked Shane to the door. "Good luck with that. You're coming by tomorrow for lunch, right?"
Shane nodded and slipped outside. "Wouldn't miss it. About one o'clock?"
Rick nodded and said, "Hey, seriously, thank you for this. Merry Christmas, brother." He reached out and grabbed Shane, pulling him into a big hug. "You're the best, truly."
Shane smiled and hugged Rick back as he said, "Merry Christmas, Rick. I'll see you tomorrow."
* * * * *
Shane rubbed his hand across his jaw as he walked up the steps to the Grimes's front porch. That beard had taken a good bit of his skin with it, he thought as he winced. He knocked on the door and opened it, calling out, "Hey Merry Christmas, y'all! Did you save some presents for me?"
Carl came flying into the foyer and jumped into Shane's arms. "Uncle Shane, Uncle Shane! Guess what?! Santa came! He's really real! And look at all the presents he brought!" Carl pointed at the living room, where what looked like an entire Hallmark wrapping paper section had exploded. Rick sat cross-legged in the floor, muttering under his breath as he attempted to put one of Carl's toys together. He looked up as Shane and Carl walked in, a screwdriver clenched in his teeth.
He dropped the screwdriver into his lap and smiled. "Hey, I'm glad you're here! I could use a hand with this thing. Some assembly required, it says. Ha! The thing in is a million pieces!"
Shane laughed and set Carl down when he started to wiggle. "I'll help, Daddy!" Carl slid to a stop next to Rick, snatching the directions up off the floor and trying to direct his dad on which part went where.
Lori came in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. "Lunch is ready, guys. Let's eat now and finish torturing Daddy with the toy assembly later, ok?"
"Thank God," Rick said, standing up and running his hands over his thighs. "My legs were falling asleep! Come on, Carl, let's wash up for lunch, ok?" Rick and Carl ran off to the bathroom to wash their hands, laughing and talking about Carl's presents. Lori hooked her arm through Shane's and said, "Thank you for what you did. Carl hasn't been able to talk about anything else all morning."
Shane shrugged and said, "I was happy to do it, Lori. Can't have the little man not believing in Santa at age five. That's just wrong."
Lori nodded. "Still, it meant a lot to all of us. And thank you for my present too. I didn't expect that. I've been meaning to get a new chain for my locket for months. I've felt all wrong without it." She kissed Shane's cheek. "Thank you."
Shane hugged Lori. "You're welcome. Rick told me you needed one."
Carl came racing through the living room, calling, "Let's eat! I'm starving!" Rick followed, hot on Carl's heels. "Be there in a sec, Carl." He put his arm around Shane's shoulders and lowered his voice. "I got the strangest call from Dispatch this morning, Shane. Know what it was?"
Shane shrugged. "I have no idea but I have a feeling you're going to share it."
Rick grinned and said, "It seems that someone broke into the Wallace place last night."
Shane's eyes widened as he said, "Really? On Christmas Eve, that's a shame. Anything taken?"
Rick shook his head, barely holding in a laugh. "Nothing taken, oddly enough. But it seems that whoever did it left a stocking full of coal with Billy's name on it hung by the fireplace. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you Shane?"
Shane just laughed. "I don't know a thing about it. Maybe you should ask Santa." He walked into the dining room, leaving Lori and Rick speechless behind him.