So Jack and Nick haven’t made up yet…is today the day? Or, like the chaos-loving writer I am, will I make you wait longer? Read on to find out!
Time to catch up…
Once Santa dismissed me, Cocoa rushed to my side.
“What is your ploy here?” she snapped.
“What?” I asked, though I had a slight idea of what she could be referring to.
Please, no. Jack, what have you done?
She sighed. “That brother of yours. I don’t know why I agreed to take him to see the Master List.”
My heart dropped. “What did he do?”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer.
“He tried to edit the list. He could have ruined the whole thing! It’s a good thing I was keeping a very close eye on him.” Cocoa placed her hands on her hips. She also shot me a glare that made me shiver.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
“Look, I don’t know why you’re here. But this whole experience has brought some things to light,” she sighed. “It has become clear to me that you and your brother are not elves. I don’t know what you’re doing here or why you’re here, but I want you out of my list-keeping room. Now.”
I sucked in a breath. Jack and I didn’t have anywhere else to go until Christmas Eve.
“Where are we supposed to go?”
“I don’t know. And quite frankly, I don’t care,” Cocoa said. “Your brother nearly got me fired. He can stay in Candy Cane Jail for all I care.”
“Candy Cane Jail?” I questioned. The North Pole didn’t seem like a place to have a jail.
“Ugh, as if I needed more evidence that you aren’t an elf! I’ll have Peppermint take you to see your brother.”
Cocoa snapped her fingers and Peppermint soon entered the room.
“I’ll take you to see Jack,” she offered.
I looked back at Cocoa. There was no pity in her eyes.
She seems glad we’re leaving.
It was quiet as we walked to Candy Cane Jail. The only sound was that of Peppermint’s red heels clicking against the marble floor.
At least that was better than being berated by Cocoa.
“Here’s Jack’s cell,” Peppermint pointed to a jail cell made from literal candy canes.
It didn’t even surprise me at this point. Everything I’d seen in the past few days was proof that there was more to this world than I could ever have imagined.
“I’ll give you two some time alone,” Peppermint offered. “The big guy still needs to be updated. I’ll return soon. Hopefully, I’ll have good news.”
I slunk against the cell. Once I heard the click of Peppermint’s heels fade, I decided I couldn’t put off talking to Jack any longer.
“So,” I muttered.
“So, I may have attempted to change your name on the list…” he replied.
I sighed. “I told you that I didn’t want you to do that.”
“But that’s the whole reason we came here!”
“And look where it got you!”
I paused when I heard my tone shift into an angry tone. My heart sank. Anger wasn’t how I wanted to repay my brother. I’d wanted to make up with him, not create a further divide between us.
“For?” Jack looked puzzled through the bars. I supposed I didn’t have as much a reason to be sorry as he did. But I couldn’t help feeling guilty for the hurtful words I’d spoken towards my brother.
“Well, I shouldn’t have said all those things. I didn’t really mean them.”
“Oh.” He stared at the floor. “I guess I’m sorry too.”
“Why?” According to Jack, he’d only had my best interest at heart. What did he have to apologize for?
“I thought about what you said. You’re right, I guess. I never really considered what you wanted in all this. I was just thinking about what I’d want in your shoes.”
“I know.” I smiled. “You meant well. But that got you trapped in these bars!”
A smirk crept across my brother’s face. “Are you implying that I don’t already have a plan that can get me out of here?”
“I doubt there’s one that doesn’t involve you eating all the peppermint.”
“You may have a point…”
I heard a familiar pair of footsteps, along with new, heavier footsteps click toward us.
I gasped when I saw the figure following Peppermint. Santa had come all this way to deal with Jack himself. This could either go really well or really badly. I was definitely hoping for the ‘really well’ option.
“I hear you tried to change my Master List.”
Santa’s voice boomed through the halls. His voice seemed even less friendly than when I’d heard it earlier.
Jack slowly nodded. “That’s right. And, I’m not sorry about it.”
I gasped. A look of shock flashed over Peppermint’s face. Only the big guy remained unsurprised.
“Is that so?”
“Yes,” Jack firmly stated. “I did it for my brother. And I’d do it again.”
“I see. The ends justify the means then?” Santa asked.
“Well, I guess,” Jack sighed. “But it didn’t work.”
“I suppose now I have to decide what to do with you,” the big guy said. “Your actions were naughty, but you were also trying to be nice. And you didn’t actually succeed.”
“Please don’t punish him!” I cried out. “It was my fault.”
I hoped he’d still take us home.
Santa stroked his beard. “Yet you were with me the whole time…”
“Well, I suppose that since your intentions were nice, and you are just a child, I’ll let it go. You two can get back to work in the list-keeping room until Christmas Eve.”
“What happens on Christmas Eve?” Jack asked.
Santa let out a chuckle. “Did that brother of yours not tell you? I’m taking you two home!”
“We get to go home?!” Jack reached for me through the bars. “Er…can I get out of here first?”
Santa nodded and Peppermint began to lift the candy cane bars.
“Thank you, your highness, erm, Mr. Santa Claus sir!”
I noticed Jack’s use of respectable titles. He must be attempting to be polite for once.
“We won’t disappoint you, sir,” I added.
He simply nodded and left.
Peppermint led Jack out of his cell.
“You guys should be able to find your way back. I’ll let you have some time alone.” Peppermint turned to leave.
As soon as she was out of earshot, I encircled my brother in a hug.
“I’m so sorry I yelled at you,” I cried.
“It’s okay,” Jack replied. “You were right.”
Feeling the warmth of my brother’s love, I knew then that we would be okay. Brothers fought sometimes. That was just how the world worked. But I knew that our bond was stronger than any fight. We’d given up so much for each other already. Jack did all this for me, and of course, I’d given up a lot for him. I thought of my sacrifice.
That was the entire reason we were here in the first place…
So they made up! And that totally isn’t a mysterious, cliffhanger ending or anything…
See you tomorrow for the Small-Fry Gift Exchange!