Day before Thanksgiving, New York 1954 (Rey's POV)
It's Thanksgiving free time so technically she shouldn't be here, what with the national holiday and all, but Rey Solo has always loved putting things together and right now the empty department store is the perfect place for Rey to work on her latest project: a set of Santa's sled complete with bronze reindeer figurines that she began last week. Christmas has always been special for the young woman. For as long as she can remember the mere mention of the festive season made Rey all tingly, gave her the feeling that anything was possible. Her foster brother Han (to whom she will remain eternally grateful for adopting her once he reached 18, not joking when he said it might be too late for her to be raised by a loving family but he promised to be the best big brother in history) says that Rey's excitement for Christmas is a byproduct of her eternal optimism. 'Happy people like Christmas, kid. And you're the cheeriest person I know' he always proclaims with his gruff voice that also manages to be adorable.
Her boss Mister Karrde is sick which means she has free jurisdiction over the shop, just how she likes it. Talon is not the worst boss Rey's ever had, far from it. (That honor goes to Unkar Plutt, a foster parent who ran a junkyard and made his 'children' work for food). The man is considerate to Rey and all his employees but he has this annoying habit of finding out everything about the people around him. Her co-worker Jessika says that Talon was secretly a spy in his army days, the girls had giggled over it but deep down she wonders if there's any truth to that theory. She sees him walk over to where her nearly-finished
Rey's thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the store's bell ringing. Oh, blast it all she forgot to put the 'Closed' sign on the door. Well, she can squeeze in a customer. After all, it's not the customer's fault she absentmindedly left the impression that they're open and overtime money is always useful. That way she can get Han a really nice Christmas present and their dog Chewie can receive a big, juicy steak for Christmas dinner with extra cheese just the way the brown mastiff likes it.
"Just a minute, I'll be right there."
She's met with the aesthetically pleasing sight of a middle aged man with a well-groomed beard & the loveliest blue eyes Rey has seen since Han and her snuck into the movies through the back to watch Errol Flynn's 'Against All Flags'. Rey was never quite sold on that premise in the old Disney movies where Cinderella and Snow White fell in love at first sight for one simple reason. The songs were lovely and the story was pretty but the concept behind it was alien to her. Even attraction at first sight was a foreign notion to her. Or at least it used to be. Guess that means I'm not aromantic like Jessika thought I might be.
Pull yourself together Rey, the poor man might die waiting if you keep fawning over his desert sky blue irises. Thinking she's been a complete dunce Rey pinches herself to prevent any further stupidity on her part. Lovely blue eyes man as she's dubbed him, asks for white hair dye, that means he's probably an actor or maybe he's just trying to make a statement against the whole 'stay wrinkle-free as long as you can' mentality. Either way it makes for an interesting picture, one she doesn't see every day. Rey watches lovely blue eyes man walk over to her nearly-finished sculpture, curiosity taking hold of his cerulean orbs as he inspects but thankfully doesn't touch. He inquires if the artist would be willing to sell it to him when it's done. Her response is that she made this piece for herself, not for money, some things are just good for the soul. Blue eyes smiles, clearly impressed.
"I have to congratulate you: this is the nicest model I've seen since the 20s. 99 percent of perfection."
Someone unbiased complimented my work, if not for the fact Talon counts all the merchandise individually and checks the cash register twice a day (He's sending someone to check on it at noon) then Rey would give him the hair dye for free.
"Only 99 percent? What can I do to earn the missing one percent?"
"You've got the reindeer in the wrong order."
"A fellow Christmas lover then? I don't suppose you could tell me the right order?"
Lovely blue eyes kindly points out that she's about to weld Cupid where Blitzen should be and Dasher should be on his right-hand slide. This causes Rey to inquire what he means by 'his' right-hand slide lovely blue eyes says that he's Santa Claus with all the seriousness in the world. Well, actor it is then. Very method of him to actually dye his hair instead of wearing a wig like most of the Santa actors that will be high on demand now that Thanksgiving's almost done with. He's not the traditional Santa's helper that she sees on the department stores but he does possess a certain air of... jolliness that Rey's only watched in the cartoon versions of the iconic holiday figure. Lovely blue eyes Santa Claus pays for his product along with a small box of sugar cookies her boss puts out for the 'Christmas market'.
"Thank you for buying with us today. I hope you had a pleasant experience."
"I did. Thank you Miss?"
"Solo, Rey Solo. You have at me at a disadvantage Sir. I don't know your name but you know mine."
"You're right, that was unseemly of me. Luke Skywalker, 435th official Santa Claus and before you ask no I am not supposed to look like an old, fat man. The first Santa Claus was a kind, charitable bishop who had a little bit of magic up his sleeve since his youth and used it to help others. Before he died Saint Nicholas passed on that magic to a disciple of his and so on and so on until finally it was passed down to me."
If Han were here then her older brother would declare him crazy, not going as far to intern in one of those horrible mental institutions but he'd definitely try to find some way to change the conversation into a topic in order to speed up his departure. That would be the logical course of action. But Rey has never been logical in her life outside of when necessity demands it, she is a woman who grew up in poverty yet still believes in fairytale endings. So she does what nobody in a reasonable mind frame would recommend, Rey believes him. On the way out he forgets his change so she ends up running out the door to bring it to him. They end up standing over the bloody mistletoe she's been avoiding like the plague. Rey stares at the man before her, wondering if he'd bother kissing the 'fugly scavenger chick' as they called her in high school. Probably not, even Santa Claus has undesirables.
"Bad memories with the mistletoe Miss Solo? You're trying to kill it with that glare."
"Well, you get tricked into being locked up in the high school broom closet for 10 hours until the janitor comes back and then I'll ask you if you still like the lousy shrub."
"Maybe I would. I'm a bit of a hopeless romantic."
"Mrs. Claus must love that about you."
"Actually, I don't have a wife. That's part of the reason I'm here. "
"And the other part?"
"Oh you know, the usual. Spread Christmas cheer, heal a few broken hearts and make some kids smile."
"That sounds lovely. Good luck on your mission Santa Claus."
"Thanks, it's appreciated. Before I forget: what do you want for Christmas?"
"A new engine for my brother's old Ford and a fat-free, juicy steak for our dog."
"And for yourself?"
"I'll settle for a nice, steady kiss under the mistletoe to change my mind about the damn weed."
That last sentence comes out of her mouth without thinking, causing her cheeks to flush. She's dictating an apology down in her brain when his lips brush over hers in the most tender way possible. Really, the whole affair is gentility personified. It makes her like something precious, something worthy of recognition. Rey has butterflies in the stomach when he retracts his lips from hers.
"Merry Christmas Miss Solo. Hope to see you again soon."
I hope you kiss me again soon..." I hope we see each other too. Goodbye Luke, have a nice trip with the reindeer."
The smile he gifts her with would convince anyone that believing him is the right decision, Rey tells herself after Luke Skywalker has been long gone but the feel of his lips still linger on her.