CHAPTER TWO

	Christmas Day! Nobody in the house could have doubted 
it since dawn opened at the same time as all of Chris's presents 
which were under the tree.  The child's loud cries of joy at the 
sight of all the gifts Santa--actually his parents--left him under 
the tree woke everybody up at three o'clock in the morning. Sam 
remembered that back when he was a boy, his older brother, little 
sister and he always seemed to be the first ones up on Christmas 
morning; but, as he looked at the clock next to the bed he was lying 
in he did not think that even the rosters woke up as early as Chris 
did.
	Sam yawned as he, like Chris's mother, and father stretched 
and dragged themselves into the den where Chris sat on the floor, 
beginning to open up a medium sized box, ripping the paper into shreds.
	Al stood in the corner of the den by the Christmas tree, looking 
happily onto the sight before him. "Sam, I sure do miss the days when 
my kids still believed in Santa," he commented. "They all used to wake 
up in the earliest part of the morning. Every year since -"
	"Maybe, they had somebody to wake them up," Sam yawned, somehow 
feeling that his friend was behind waking the entire family up early 
in the morning, as he approached him, blinking his eyes to shoo away 
his sleepiness. "Al Calavicci, I hate you for this! It's three o'clock!" 
	Al gave Sam an innocent look while chewing on his cigar, not 
wanting Sam to know he was actually behind one of the joys of 
Christmas -- which seemed right then more of a joy when looking back 
than for the ones living through it.  Maybe, it was different when the 
child was your own, since the only grownups enjoying the moment were 
Patty and her husband, Kevin, although they looked extremely tired and 
Kevin was already almost fast asleep in his armchair. "I didn't wake 
him up, honest, Sam. I just got here."
	While reaching around for a gift, Chris spotted his "Angel" and 
"Santa" standing behind him. "Why are you still here?"
	"Well, I promised you I'd visit you," Al explained.
	"You visited me before," Chris stated, remembering how the "angel" 
came to his bedside and woke him up in time for Christmas.  In fact, his 
"angel" had visited him several times since yesterday when he met him in the 
park. Last night, "Angel Bob" read him "The Night before Christmas" instead 
of his daddy or Albert, who were the ones who usually read him bedtime 
stories.
	"Oh, really, 'Angel' Al?" Sam asked.
	"Yeah, Santa," Chris answered. 
	Al smiled at his best friend and the little kid, until then it 
slipped his mind that Sam told the boy that he was really Santa. "By the 
way, Santa, I always wondered, how do you really get down all those 
chimneys?" he joked. Chris's eyes looked up at Sam, distracted from 
opening his gifts, wondering the same thing. Sam gave them a jolly, 
disbelieving looks due to what Al said, before Al opened the lighted 
door behind him to the young boy's amazement. He was about to walk 
through the door, when he looked back at his friend. "By the way, Santa, 
do you think you can get a video game for my youngest? Saga's 'Masked 
Alien Avengers' is out at all of the stores, and he wants it."
	"Merry Christmas, Al," Sam said, trying to get him to leave.
	"Merry Christmas, Santa," Al said, before the door closed behind 
him.
			************************
	Chris sat on a yellow and white chair at the matching, linoleum 
table. He had a huge smile on his face, as he watched Kelly and Albert 
make the eggs, toast, bacon and sausages for breakfast. He babbled on 
about all of the gifts he got, nonstop since this morning, with Kelly 
and Albert being his latest victims.
	"So, what was the greatest thing you got today?" Albert asked, 
expecting the child to tell what was his favorite toy he got. He was 
already beginning to get a headache from the child's chipping, but 
the only medicine he needed for it was standing next to him chopping 
the carrots.  At moments like this, he felt like they were already 
an old married couple -- and marriage was something he was thinking 
often of the past few months due to his real, true, romantic love for 
Kelly.   
	"Angel and Santa," the boy answered Albert quickly, telling the 
best part. "Santa visited me, and so did a Angel. Santa left me lot of 
gifts and stuff, maybe Angel too. And, Angels go to heaven through big 
ol' doors which look like Timmy's flashlight." 
	"Like a flashlight, huh?" Albert never really thought of heaven 
as a flashlight, that is if he actually ever thought about heaven at 
all, and if he did think about it, he would have never thought about 
in that way. *Paradise is a place was a place where a billion chicks 
and they would--* He looked at his girlfriend, a towel thrown over her 
shoulder as she fried their breakfast in the saucepan -- *not be as great 
or as beautiful or as sweet as Kelly,* he completed. *Man, what's the 
matter with me! I'm going crazy! ... Crazy in love!* Actually, he knew 
nothing was wrong with him, only that Cupid's devotion would make him 
choose to stay by Kelly's side rather than go through a door to a place 
populated with even a zillion beautiful women in love with him, a place 
he might have once considered as paradise . . . . .  Maybe, Kelly should 
be the only one in his paradise, after all.
	  "Yeah, it's a big, bright flashlight. Angel read to me, too, and 
he reads better than you do."
	"I think Al reads to you pretty good," Kelly commented, deciding to 
put up with the invisible friend of her cousin's latest imagination.  
	"I do too," Albert fake pouted, leaning on the table.
	Chris thought about it for a moment, remembering what "Santa" 
called "Angel Bob" and what his cousin had just called her boyfriend. 
"Albert, are you an angel?" he asked the twenty-three-year-old. 
	Albert smiled at Chris, the same way  "Angel" did earlier before.  
He was surprised at what the child asked him, surprised at what was asked. 
He never really knew what would come out of the mouth of Chris, a bright, 
intelligent boy who already seemed to have as much intelligence as a clear, 
vivid imagination, (whose Destiny might lead him to a wheelchair but will also 
lead him to the halls of Project Star Bright.) Right then, though, Albert 
blamed everything on the boy's constantly active imagination. "Yeah, I guess 
you found out. I'm an angel," he said, agreeing to play along with the boy's 
imagination. "But, shucks, I left my wings back at my place."	
	"Angels don't have wings," Chris stated matter-of-fact.	
	"Well, if they don't have wings, then how do they fly?" Albert asked.	"Maybe, 
they fly in planes like you do Albert," she smiled at her boyfriend. 
"Afterall, you did say you were an angel." She shooed Chris away to go get 
cleaned up for breakfast.	
	Albert looked at Kelly, as he approached her, a devilish smile on 
his face, which could always make her blush. "Sexy, you're the only angel 
around here, I think," he commented, placing his hand up to her cheek. Maybe, 
it was fitting that "Earth Angel" would forever be their song, since the first 
time they danced to it several months ago, back in September. Just like then, 
he put his arms firmly around her, leaning her into the counter behind her, his 
lips sensuously meeting hers, as she melted into his arms.   
	Patty walked into the kitchen, stepping around the two young 
lovers. She grabbed Chris's special cowboy plate from the cabinet. The 
door slammed close, startling Albert and Kelly, who broke apart from 
each other due to the surprise of the loud noise. "Albert, it's so nice 
of you to come all the way from the base just to join us for breakfast," 
Patty said. She pretended to be ignorant to the fast that he spent the 
night with her niece in her small loft above the garage, which Kevin made 
up for her a little over a month ago.  
	Albert glanced over at the thirty-one-year-old woman, but 
remaining lost in his girlfriend's deep brown eyes. "Well, I wanted 
to come this morning, you know. It's Christmas," he said. 
	Kelly dumped the greasy food, which rested on a paper 
towel near the stove, onto the large pasta dish. She grabbed the dish, 
following her aunt into the dinning room where breakfast was going to be 
served.
	Albert reached into his pocket, pulling out the small velvet box. 
He opened it up. The 14-karat, diamond ring inside was beautiful, but 
he reasoned it would pale in comparison to the person he wished would 
wear the ring of his hopes and dreams for eternity. 


Monica