Katy hated being in the hospital. She'd accepted that she needed treatment long ago but at seventeen she felt like she'd spent more time in than out. In September she was in to have her wisdom teeth removed and even that relatively minor procedure required special care and consultation with three departments. Christmas was the worst, though, even with the superhero window washers wearing Santa hats and the festive decking of the hallways. She watched the snow falling over Pittsburgh and wished she was home with her dad and her dogs and her horses.
Her mother had fallen to sleep in the chair next to her bed about twenty minutes before, exhausted after a day's worry over her, and she was starting to doze off herself when the door to her room creaked open. She knew she wasn't due for another dose of medication till 4AM so she opened her eyes sleepily to greet whoever was coming to check her vital signs. Her glasses were safely in their case in her mother's purse so by squinting she could make out the outline of someone big and male in a long fur-edged coat with a beard.
She hadn't believed in Santa since she'd found her mom's hiding place for presents when she was eight. The hospital St. Nick wouldn't be around for another week and he visited during the day. So who was this guy?
She watched as he pulled a wrapped box from a huge bag. He took a second to unsmoosh the little bow and set it carefully on the table next to her head. As he stepped back he looked at her face and froze when he saw her watching him. "Hello," he whispered.
"Hi," she whispered back, noticing in the light from the hallway that his coat was blue instead of red. "You're not Santa."
"No, I'm not. I'm, uh, one of his helpers."
"And you're British. Shouldn't you be working for Father Christmas?"
He looked perplexed for a second. "I, um, emigrated. Green card."
"You mean red and green card, right? Does it have a flashing Rudolph nose?" she grinned at him.
"It might but I think I left it in my other coat." She could see his eyes twinkle. "So, have you been good this year?"
"I'm always good. Even when they mess up my meds and take ten sticks to find a good place to take blood. I'm going to be a phlebotomist and come back here and show them how to do it right."
"That's a fine goal."
"Plus the phlebotomists get to dress as vampires for Halloween and you can't beat that."
He laughed and her mother stirred in the chair behind him. They were both silent till she resettled herself. He dropped his voice back to a whisper. "Is there anything you want for Christmas?"
She thought for a second and shook her head. "As long as I'm out of here by then I'm good. I've been trying to find a Rick Grimes action figure for my mom, though."
His brows shot up. "Rick Grimes from 'The Walking Dead'? I might be able to help you out with that one."
"Really? That would be awesome because I've looked everywhere and I can't find one."
Her mother turned in her chair again. He pulled a business card out of his pocket and handed it to her. "Call that number and tell them, uh, Thorin says to get you whatever you want."
"Thorin? No offense but that's a weird elf name."
"Dwarf. Not elf." He picked up his bag and turned to go.
"Have a good Christmas, Thorin-dwarf-not-elf," she whispered after him.
"I am already. Take care."
He shut the door quietly behind him. She wondered what was in the box but decided to wait till Christmas morning to open it. Whoever that guy was he was really nice and she fell asleep smiling and dreamed zombie dreams.
(This post was inspired by three things: Richard Armitage's wish for a POP!Vinyl Thorin, a Tumblr comment that he'll have an avalanche of them by Christmas and the readmission this morning of a very special 17-year-old to UPMC Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Stay strong, K).