by Vendikarr DeWuff
December 25, 1988 — 12:22 A.M.:
Sonia Wayne lay in her bed in the townhouse she lived in with her adoptive mother, Helena Wayne. Her mom had just finished telling her a story about her grandfather, Bruce Wayne. (*) The family “history lessons” always left her head swimming.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman: Times Past, 1978: Merry Christmas, Mr. Batman.]
There was so much to being a Wayne. Sonia didn’t know if she could ever measure up. Helena told her all she expected was for her to be the best she could. But would that be enough for this family? They had all done so much for her, such as taking her in and making her feel at home after she lost her parents in that car accident. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Fear the Dark, Chapter 6: Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite.]
She stopped and thought about them. She loved her mom and dad, and missed them every day. And sometimes, just a little, felt she was betraying them by calling Helena “Mom.” Helena had never insisted on it, but Sonia did it because it just felt right.
Sonia could hear moving around outside her door, and she just knew it was Helena putting out presents. She thought about going out there and surprising her, but decided to just let Helena have her fun playing Santa Claus.
Turning to face the window, Sonia could see snow falling slowly, and it made her smile. It was going to be a white Christmas. Those were the best kind — snowball fights, building a snowman, and sipping hot chocolate while shaking off the cold. She smiled, knowing she’d able to do all of that with Helena.
She was glad they were having their own Christmas at home. Helena had thought about spending the night at Wayne Manor, and celebrate with everyone together in the morning, but she changed her mind, deciding to let Uncle Dick and Aunt Kara have the morning for their little family.
Besides, she sometimes felt a little uncomfortable in the mansion. He was always there, lurking. She couldn’t wander far without hearing him stop her in her tracks with his “Miss Sonia.” She’d thought Helena moved quickly and quietly, but Alfred Beagle could give her a run for her money. He really startled her sometimes.
“He scares me, too,” said a high-pitched voice she didn’t quite recognize.
Sonia sat straight up in her bed and said, “Who’s there?”
“It’s me!” said the voice. She then heard a pop and saw a flash of light. And there, standing on the foot of her bed was…
“Hi Sonia!” said the diminutive dark knight. “I’m flattered that you remember me.”
“How could I forget you?” replied the girl, thinking back how she’d first met the magic imp shortly before Uncle Dick’s and Aunt Kara’s wedding. (*) “Plus, Mom and I had a long talk about you.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman Family: The Wedding March, Chapter 3: Bats at Play.]
“Oooh,” said the mite excitedly. “Hel talks about me? All good, I hope.”
Smiling, Sonia said, “She told me you mean well, but usually end up causing trouble.”
“I don’t always cause trouble!” insisted Bat-Mite, but then looked and saw that Sonia was giving him an oh, really look. “Well, I don’t mean to,” said the imp with a little sadness in his voice.
Seeing he looked hurt, Sonia said to him, “It’s OK. We all cause a little trouble sometimes. But I do want to say I think it’s rude to read my thoughts.”
“But, Sonia, some of the best conversations start with unexpressed thoughts!” said Bat-Mite, who was now off the bed and hovering in midair. “Like, there was this one time…”
“Well, I think it’s rude,” interrupted Sonia. “And if you want to be my friend, you can’t be reading my mind.”
“You know I do! I can be the bestest friend in the whole world!” said the imp, the excitement rising in his voice.
“Then no more mind-reading,” was all the girl had to say. Sonia yawned, and then said, “I really should get some sleep. Mom wants us to open presents early so we have plenty of time to get to the manor.” With that, she laid down again and pulled her covers up.
“Oh, I understand,” said Bat-Mite. “Besides, Santa won’t show up while you’re still awake. He can be really fussy about that.”
She turned toward the imp hovering behind her and said, “Bat-Mite, I’m thirteen. Don’t you know that’s too old to believe in Santa Claus?”
Bat-Mite sputtered as he said, “Don’t believe? But — but Santa is real! I’m one of his oldest and bestest friends!”
Sonia looked at him skeptically and said, “Really, Bat-Mite? You’re just being silly right now.”
“I can prove it,” said the imp, getting right in her face.
“I can take you to the North Pole and show you around,” said Bat-Mite. “I know Santa won’t mind — we’re best friends!”
“I can’t go off with you in the middle of the night, Bat-Mite,” said Sonia. “I have to get to sleep.”
“OK. If you’re afraid, you can just go to sleep,” said the imp. He then casually added, “I didn’t think Waynes were afraid of anything.”
“I am not afraid!” said Sonia. Hopping out of bed, she slid her slippers and robe on. “Let’s go.”
Bat-Mite grinned and flew next to the girl. He took her hand, and in a flash of light, they were gone.
The next thing Sonia knew, she and Bat-Mite were standing out in the night, an Arctic wind ripping through her.
“I’m f-freezing,” Sonia said through chattering teeth.
Bat-Mite glanced at her and said, “Oh, sorry.” With a flip of his wrist, she was bundled head-to-toe in a parka and furs, looking like pictures she had seen of Eskimos. She may have had on too many layers, because her legs felt stiff, and her arms were extended out to her sides. A scarf around her mouth muffled her voice, and after a few attempts, she managed to pull it down to speak.
“I don’t see anything,” said the girl as she slowly took one step, then another.
“I had to land outside,” said the imp. “Santa won’t allow me to use my magic in the village.”
He took her hand again, and they walked forward. Suddenly, everything around her changed. Where before she was standing in a fierce wind, with temperatures below zero, now the air was calm, and while it was still cold, it was a comfortable cold. Sonia pulled off some of her fur and wrappings and found she could move better.
Sonia looked around and saw dozens of structures — a huge residence, factories, warehouses, dormitories, stables, and, of all things, something that looked like an airfield. She stood there staring, not knowing where to look first.
“See, I told you he was real,” said Bat-Mite, puffing out his chest, proud to prove himself right. “Now, what do you want to see…? Wait. Something isn’t right,” he said, looking around with a puzzled expression.
When Sonia finally regained her ability to speak, she said, “How did these buildings get here, and what isn’t right?”
“Oh, Santa’s village is kept in a pocket dimension,” said Bat-Mite offhandedly. “He can’t have people wandering in here all the time, so he keeps it hidden.” The imp looked around and around, spinning in midair, looking for someone or something.
“What’s wrong? It looks busy, like it should on Christmas Eve,” said Sonia.
“That is the problem; too many elves running around, and not any snowmen.”
“Snowmen? Snowmen don’t run,” said the girl as she shook her head at the imp. She wanted to walk around and see everything, but stayed with Bat-Mite. She didn’t want to get in the way or cause any trouble.
“Ah-ha, there he is,” said Bat-Mite as he flew over to a group of elves near the landing strip. As they approached, Sonia noticed sleighs taking off and landing with such frequency that she doubted Gotham International could have handled things better.
“Heckla! Heckla Dalls!” called Bat-Mite. He continued to call until he caught the attention of a balding elf in green coveralls, giving orders to younger elves. When the elf saw who was calling him, a look of panic came across his face.
“No. No, no, no, no. What are you doing here, Bat-Mite?” called out the elf as he approached the two.
“I brought my friend Sonia to see Santa’s village, to prove there is a Santa.”
“Well, just look up, and you’ll see him pass by,” Heckla said dismissively.
Sure enough, as Sonia glanced up, she saw Santa Claus on his flying sleigh, but only for a brief moment. Its speed was staggering. “Wow,” she breathed.
Looking around, Bat-Mite asked, “Where are all the snowmen?”
“Bingle Jells got himself on the naughty list, and he ran off. And he took the Snowmanimator,” explained the aging elf. “We can’t animate any snowmen.”
Getting caught up in the drama of it all, Sonia asked, “How does an elf get on the naughty list? I thought it was just for bad little boys and girls?”
“He was a very bad elf,” said Heckla. “And without the snowmen to do our heavy lifting, we are running around having to do it ourselves.”
“Heckla, I could…” began the imp, but Heckla raised his hand to stop him from finishing the thought.
“No. You know Santa doesn’t allow you to use magic here.”
“Why not?” asked Sonia.
Bat-Mite hung his head, while Heckla said, “Years ago, Bat-Mite tried to help by making it so our cows could give more milk. They produced so much milk that… well, let’s just say things got very messy. After that, Santa banned him from using magic in the village.”
Sonia realized how right her mom was about Bat-Mite. He was well-intentioned, but a disaster waiting to happen. “Is there a way we can help without magic?” asked the teenager.