Written by: Elysabeth
**Author's Note: This is the first fic that I've written for posting on the web and hopefully I was successful at it. I want to personally thank Dan, who was there with me writing this thing, if not on Instant Message chatting, then in spirit. Thank you so much for letting me share in your good ideas and for our "idea parties" at two in the morning. Aly, thank you for our talks and for giving me encouragement when I needed it. And to both of you and Kristof for inspiring me to write.Thanks to all the fabulous and talented people responsible for bringing us these wonderful characters and thanks to Greg and Dave for posting my work on your fabulous sites.Oh yeah, I almost forgot, all characters in this story belong to Disney and are not being used for profit, so don't sue me. It would be very un-Christmassey.
This story was written with the question in mind: "What can you give to someone who has given you so much?" Happy Holidays!**
Kit Cloudkicker was having a bad day. He was supposed to be happy and excited like most children are on Christmas Eve, but he was having a crisis. Here it was, the day before Christmas and he had yet to get a present for his father. Not that he didn't have the money. He had been squirreling it away for several weeks, but he just couldn't find what he wanted. Not one store had the perfect present for Baloo and he really didn't even know what the perfect present was.
The cub walked dejectedly back to Higher for Hire, the cool air nipping at his nose and ears. It was chilly that day, something that was not common for the tropical port of Cape Suzette. He was worried about what Baloo might think of a child who couldn't even get him a present. But to Kit that was just the thing; how can you find the right gift that expresses your true feelings for the person who has given you so much.
Of course the boy had never really had much practice at giving gifts. Orphanages don't really do much and you just don't give gifts out on the streets. He felt horrible and obviously it showed because the owner of Higher for Hire stared at him when he came through the door.
"Goodness Kit, did you lose your Christmas spirit?" Rebecca Cunningham asked upon seeing the face of her young navigator. The boy didn't answer her, slipping out of his coat and sitting down into the easy chair. Rebecca put down the lights she was stringing around the Christmas tree and walked over to the easy chair, sitting on the arm and putting her hand on the cub's shoulder. "Kit, what's wrong?"
"I couldn't find anything for Baloo." He whispered. "I went to about a zillion stores and nothing. I just couldn't find what I wanted and now the stores are closed. What am I going to do?"
"Aw honey, don't worry. It's Christmas and it's not just about getting gifts."
"I know, that's what they always told us at the orphanage when nobody donated anything."
Rebecca stared at the boy. "You're kidding?"
Kit shook his head. "Every year they did some charity toy drive for the orphanage and a couple of year nobody donated anything, so we went without any presents. Those years they would feed us the old "Christmas is not about toys" line, thinking that would help a bunch of kids who never really had much to begin with."
"You poor thing." Rebecca whispered. "I didn't know that's how they ran those places."
"Yeah, kinda makes a kid really dread Christmas. I thought this year would be different, y'know. I could be excited about it coming being here with you and Baloo, but I don't know…" The cub's voice trailed off. "I guess I'm not used to all this."
"Of course not, sweetheart. It takes a while to get used to something you've never had. So that's why we're going to make this the most special Christmas ever."
"I wish you and Molly were staying here for Christmas Day."
"Me too, Kit, me too." She sighed. "But I promised my mother and father we would be at the home tomorrow. Molly and I leave on the 11:00 flight tonight to Winger City."
Rebecca stood up and pulled the cub to his feet, giving him a gentle push towards the tree. "C'mon, let's stop being so down and finish decorating this tree. Molly will be home soon from shopping with Baloo and she will want to see this tree done. "
"Okay." Kit allowed himself to smile at her and together, the two finished putting the decorations on the tree.
"Mommy, Mommy! We're home!" Molly Cunningham yelled as she raced through the doorway, followed by a big, gray bear who was struggling with an armload of packages. She rushed up to Kit and jumped up and down in front of the boy. "I know what you're getting. I know what you're getting."
Rebecca put her hands on her hips and frowned at her daughter. "Molly Elizabeth Cunningham, don't tease Kit. It's not nice. Now leave him alone and come over here so I can get off that coat."
"I'm gonna go upstairs for a little while and practice my trumpet." Kit said softly.
"Okay, sweetie." Rebecca said, tossing the boy a smile while taking off her daughter's bight pink jacket. She watched the boy race up the stairs and shook her head.
"Don't practice so loud, L'il Britches. I got a splittin' headache." Baloo called up to the cub.
"Now tell Mommy all about shopping." Rebecca said.
Baloo put down the packages and settled into the easy chair. "Yeah, pigtails, tell yer mom all about the lines and crowds and people pushin' left and right. Thought I was gonna get killed in that toy store. All those people fightin' over some stuffed toy, a Furdie I think they called it. All the fussin' an' fightin' over that thing. It's ridiculous." He settled deeper into the chair and pulled his pilot's cap down over his eyes. "I'm beat."
"Yeah Mommy," Molly said, her mother scooping her up. "Baloo almost got run over. But we got the special present. Baloo picked it up."
"Did you get the one I ordered, Baloo."
"Yeah, Beckers. The lady at the store wrapped it up for me."
"Good, Kit will be so excited."
"Yeah, he's been wantin' a new one for months now. Ever since he broke his old one."
Rebecca smiled at Baloo. "This is going to be one special Christmas."
"Yeah Becky," The pilot said, looking up at the ceiling as Kit's own rendition of "Jingle Bells" sounded from their bedroom and smiling. "The best."
Baloo pushed the bedroom door open and found Kit sitting cross legged on the bed putting his trumpet back in its case. A red and green sweater sat on the edge of the bed, neatly folded.
"Ya sounded real good there, Kiddo. All that practicing's really startin' to pay off."
The boy smiled. "Thanks Baloo."
"Becky wants ya downstairs so we can do the Christmas thing. It's seven o'clock now an' she an' Molly are leavin' at ten. Boy, kid, it's quite a set-up downstairs. That gal's really knocked herself out. Made a nice dinner an' everything."
"Okay, I'll be down in a second."
Baloo turned and started to head back downstairs, but stopped. "Oh yeah, Becky said for you to put on that sweater she bought for you. She said ya had to look festive."
Kit rolled his eyes and sighed, reaching for the sweater. "Okay."
The boy watched Baloo leave and looked down at the sweater in his hands. He didn't feel much like being festive. How could he? He didn't have a gift for Baloo. Kit sighed heavily and slipped his green sweater over his head and put the red and green one on. He gathered up the two wrapped gifts for Molly and Becky and went downstairs.
He reached the bottom of the staircase and let his mouth fall open. Never had Higher for Hire looked more beautiful. There was the big tree in the corner, with all its twinkling lights and Rebecca had draped evergreen garland all around the office.
"Wow! This place looks great!"
"Thanks Kit." Rebecca smiled at him from the dinner table. "We finished it while you were upstairs. Now come on, dinner's going to get cold."
Kit put his packages under the tree and headed over to the table, where Rebecca, Baloo, and Molly were now seated. The boy settled down into his chair and looked over the table that Rebecca had decorated with a Christmas tablecloth and candles. There was a big turkey and bowls of mashed potatoes, corn, and stuffing, almost as much food as Thanksgiving.
"There is so much food and it all smells so good."
"Well, you and Baloo should have enough leftovers while Molly and I are gone." She laughed. "Now let's say grace and eat."
They all clasped hands and bowed their heads. "Lord, we thank you for this wonderful food and for allowing us to all be together on this Christmas Eve…" Rebecca began.
"Thank you for givin' me my son and allowin' me to give him the most special Christmas ever. I don't know what I'd ever do without him in my life. Amen." Baloo squeezed Kit's hand. The boy felt a tear slide down his cheek and he quickly wiped it away before anyone saw.
"Amen." He whispered and eagerly accepted a bowl of mashed potatoes.
Kit and Molly were stretched out on the floor in front of the tree, waiting rather impatiently to open their gifts. Rebecca had settled herself on the floor next to the tree and Baloo was sitting in the easy chair.
"Look at them." Rebecca laughed. "They look like they are about ready to jump out of their skins." She handed each cub a package and watched as the two children eagerly ripped the paper and bows off of their presents.
"Thanks guys." Kit exclaimed, looking down at the stack of comics.
"Thank you Mommy, thank you Baloo." Molly said, holding up her new doll.
Baloo and Rebecca watched with a parent's delight as the two cubs finished unwrapping their gifts.
Molly was asleep in the middle of her presents, clutching her new doll and wearing the new dress Kit had gotten for her. Kit leaned back on his arms and smiled happily.
"Did ya get everything ya wanted, L'il Britches?" Baloo asked, stretching sleepily in the easy chair and smiling at the cub.
The boy nodded and watched as Rebecca unfolded his present to her.
"Kit, I love this. It is so beautiful." She ran her hands over the delicate stitching on the quilt. It was a soft purple color with blue, green, and yellow squares; the delicate embroidery on the corner said: "To Rebecca, Love Kit. Christmas 1938."
"I'm glad." Kit said with a smile. Then he looked over at Baloo, who was watching him and Rebecca from the chair. Kit suddenly felt terrible; here he was enjoying his gifts and he hadn't given Baloo anything. He had tried all evening not to let it get to him, knowing that he had tried his hardest to find his father a gift, but now the feelings of guilt were overwhelming him. He started to say something to Baloo, but Rebecca's fumbling around under the tree stopped him.
"Ah, look what we have here. One last gift." She peered at the tag. "It's for Kit."
She handed the boy the wrapped package and smiled at Baloo. The big bear winked at his boss and watched with delight as the cub unwrapped his gift.
Kit peered into the box and lifted out its contents. His face lit up and his jaw dropped as he studied the shiny golden object in his hands. It was a compass, with his name engraved on the front of it.
"Ohhh…" The cub breathed. He opened the cover of the compass and looked in the inside. Inside the cover was a picture of Baloo, Molly, and Rebecca. All three were dressed up in their best and smiling happily. On the gold edging around the picture were the words: "No matter where your wings might take you, your heart will always be home. We love you."
Kit looked at both adults, tears in his eyes. "Thank you." He whispered. "Thank you."
Baloo settled deeper into the easy chair, watching the lights on the tree flicker. It was well into the early morning hours and Kit was curled up on him, sleeping soundly and still clutching his new compass. He reached over, careful not to disturb the sleeping cub, and grabbed the blanket that was sitting on the crate next to the chair. He draped it over the two of them and wrapped both arms around the boy. Kit let out a soft sigh and snuggled deeper into Baloo's arms, prompting a smile from the big bear.
He watched Kit sleep, like he did every morning. It was the most special moment in each day, to watch his son's chest rise and fall with every breath, to see the look of total contentment on the boy's face as he slept, and to look forward to Kit waking up, eyes bright and smiling. He realized every morning that he was the luckiest man to ever walk the earth, knowing that this child in his arms was the greatest gift ever bestowed upon him.
He felt Kit stir and sit up, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
"What time is it?"
"About four thirty. You've been asleep fer a few hours."
"Oh…" The boy smiled. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, L'il Britches. Ya like yer new compass."
Kit nodded happily. "Yeah, I love it. It's the best present I've ever gotten. Next to being adopted of course."
Baloo smiled. "Good. I'm glad ya like it."
Suddenly the boy's face fell and he looked up at Baloo, tears forming in his eyes.
"I am so sorry I didn't get you a present." He whispered, tears sliding down his cheeks. "I couldn't find what I really wanted to get you. Honest Baloo, I looked and looked but…"
Baloo put a finger to his lips and wrapped an arm around Kit's shoulders. "Shhh, don't worry 'bout it."
The boy pulled away and stared at the bear, slightly taken aback that Baloo wasn't even the slightest bit disappointed. "But…"
The big bear gathered the cub up in his arms and held him tightly. "It's okay, Kit." He said gently, wiping the tears from the boy's cheeks. "You've already given me enough presents already. Better than anything from a store."
"Really?" The boy sniffled.
"Yeah," the bear said, planting a kiss on the top of the cub's head. "Really."
Kit smiled and snuggled closer to his father, safe and happy in the comforting atmosphere of twinkling lights and the warmth of the love between a father and son. Baloo held his child against him and together they waited for the Christmas dawn.