"Great," Raphael huffed as he stared at the stranger who was unconsciously resting on the couch, "Just… just terrific."

Earlier that day (around seven o'clock at night, that is), the turtles had rescued an elderly man who had collapsed in the middle of Central Park, and felt it necessary to bring him back to the sewers until he came to. Though the rest of the boys in green had to continue their nightly patrol, Raphael was chosen (in a game of rock-paper-scissors) to stay behind and explain the situation to the civilian once he woke; and Raph was not happy. He just never knew what Christmas was about anymore: it all seemed so pretentious. The holidays already put Raphael in a sour-enough mood: this was just the cherry to top the grumpy-dump cake. It was more than enough for him to have a stranger amongst his personal space, let alone care for him. He was a ninja- not a babysitter!

"At least he's not the lively type," Raph said to himself as he stared at the elder, "I mean-"

Suddenly, a though occurred. Without so much as a second of hesitation, the red-clad turtle ran to the sleeping old man and rested his head against his chest to make sure he was breathing: one can never be too careful when it comes to senior citizens. Easily recovering a heartbeat from the stranger, Raph sighed with relief as he gazed upon the little old man. Well, in all actuality, he wasn't very little- not in the least! In fact, the man was so plump, it took three of the four turtles to get him through the manhole cover and transport him through the sewer tunnels. Talk about a major workout!

Besides this, however, Raphael squinted with his green eyes as he noticed other characteristics. He took note of his white, curly beard/mustache combination; as well as his fair complexion, rosy cheeks, and bright…eyes! Uh-oh… he was awake.

"Uh, er, h-hi there," Raph exclaimed as the old man's bright blue eyes met his "Umm… s-so, don't freak out, but-"

"Why of co-hourse not, young man," the man smiled cheerfully as he sat up on the couch and rubbed his head, "Oh-ho, goodness…my head. Why on Earth-"

"Um, I can explain that, sir," Raph intruded politely, "Y'see… you, um, fainted today; a-and my brothers and I found you lying there and-

"Wait… You're not freaked out that I'm a giant talking turtle?"

"Oh, my boy," the stranger laughed heartily, "Why should I be? You seem perfectly kind enough- why you've welcomed me so kindly into your home, allowed me to rest on your couch: really, such a kind thing to do! It's rare to find kindness like this nowadays…"

"Aw, gee," Raph blushed as he helped the man sit up, "I-it's no trouble, but… Sir, what the heck-"

"Oh, please, mah boy- call me Mr. Grinkle," the old man smiled as he showed him his wallet.

"Uhh sure, you got it," Raph shrugged as he continued his conversation, "M-mister Grinkle- what the heck happened to you back there? I mean, you were knocked out pretty good! Were you mugged? D'ya remember their faces? Cuz, believe me- I can set 'em straight-"

"Oh-ho-ho!" Mr. Grinkle laughed heartily, "No, young man- not a soul harmed me! Perhaps I had one of my dizzy spells. Y'see, what with the weather being so darn hot, I-

"'Hot?'," Raphael exclaimed as he checked the near-frozen thermostat, "Mr. Grinkle… i-it's twenty degrees outside!"

"Is it," the old man question, stroking his beard curiously, "Hmm… Warmer than I imagined."

Noticing the dumbfound look on Raphael's face, the old man knew he had some explaining to do.

"Let me shed some light on things, son," Mr. Grinkle elaborated, "I'm not from around here. I, actually, umm… well, I-I live up north, and-"

"Oh, I get it," Raph nodded as-a-matter-of-factly, "You're from Canada, aren'tcha?"

"'Cana-' o-oh, yes! Er, Canada- exactly," the old man winked, "What gave it away?"

"Just a feeling," Raphael shrugged as he went back to the conversation, "Now, if you live up in Canada, then what the heck are you doing in New York City?"

"Ah, I figured you'd be wondering: clever boy, you are," Mr. Grinkle smiled as he adjusted his square glasses, "Y'see, I'm here on business, and-"

"What kind of business?"

"Uh, I work with toys, and-"

"Oh, nice! So, uh, which company: Matel? Hasbro? Playschool?"

"Oh, none like that, mah boy: i-it's an independent toy company."

"Yikes, really?! That's gotta be tough: running a business like that in today's economic… well, I'm no expert on these things, but I imagine it's pretty hard to manage. Is it taking off?"

"'I-is it taking-', oh-ho-ho-ho! Y-you could say that, mah boy," the old man exclaimed as he chuckled deeply.

Just to be polite, Raphael laughed along, too (though it was nothing compared to his laugh). Remembering what Leonardo had told him about having guest- though it seemed a bit odd, since the blue-clad turtle had never once be a host to any guest of any kind.

"I'm completely embarrassed, Mr. Grinkle" Raphael admitted as he walked towards the kitchen, "Here you are, being a perfect guest, and I haven't even offered you any refreshments. What would you like? Tea? Some soup?"

"Oh, no thank you, lad, I… Well, actually- if it's not an imposition, of course, do you happen to have any, er… cookies lying about?"

"Cookies?" Raph repeated quizzically, "Uhhyes- as a matter of fact, we do. I'd love to getcha some. A-and we've got milk, too, if you'd like."

"Splendid! Splendid, mah boy," MR. Grinkle jested, "If you're sure it's no trouble-"

"None at all," Raph nodded, now yelling from the kitchen to the old man, "A-and feel free to call your family on the phone: they must be worried sick over you!"

"Such a kind young man," Mr. Grinkle hummed quietly to himself before calling back to Raphael, "Capital idea, boy! Thank you!"

Smiling as he searched for the milk in the fridge, Raphael found himself whistling Chritmas carols as he prepared his guest's snack. He couldn't put his finger on it, but… something about that little old man made Raphael seem… peppier: jovial, even! Never had Raph been so filled with the holiday spirit! Why was he so happy all of a sudden? What happened to his grumpy-dump cake? …When did he learn the melody to "Jingle Bells"?

"Hmm," Raph puzzled as he placed some cookies on a silver plate, "I wonder-"

"H-hello, Jessica? Jessica! Hello, dear! What? … Y-yes, I'm fine-"

Listening to Mr. Grinkle speak on the phone from the other room, Raphael smiled whilst grabbing two tall, crystal glasses from the cupboard.

"Why, yes- I'm sure of it, dear," Mr. Grinkle chatted, "You know me with the warm weather! I… oh, no, dear- I'm not alone! A nice young man took me in… Yes, how thoughtful, eh? Don't see good-will much like this anymore…"

Smiling even wider, Raph grabbed the carton of milk from the fridge and began to fill up one of the glasses. However, after finding Mr. Grinkle's voice to become more hushed, Raphael paid a bit more attention to the telephone conversation rather than the milk as it poured over the sides of the cup.

"W-what's that dear? …Ah, yes- th-the rooftop of the Chrysler building will be just fine! I… what? Oh, no, Jessica- you won't need to send all eight of them… huh? Whoops: nine! I always forget him, ho-ho-ho! …Alright, buh-bye, dear! See you soon!"

And as Mr. Grinkle hung up the phone, Raphael walked in with the snack of cookies.

"Was that your wife, Mr. Grinkle," Raph asked stupidly.

"Ah, yes," the elder replied as he took from his pocket an old picture of himself and his wife, "Jessica. This was from our first Christmas."

As Mr. Grinkle stared at the photograph, Raphael stared at Mr. Grinkle. What a kind man- so filled with happiness and acceptance. Were this anybody else, Raph was sure that they would've fainted by now and called the police; claiming to have been kidnapped by a large talking turtle. But not him… not Mr. Grinkle. What a guy… what a saint!

"Yes, she's always taking care of me," Mr. Grinkle giggled as he rose from the couch and stuffed the picture back in his pocket, "In fact, she's got a ride waiting for me right now."

"O-oh, really?" Raph reacted as he placed the tray of goodies on the coffee table, "Wouldja like these cookies to go? I could, y'know, throw 'em in a bag for ya! And I'm sure we've got an extra thermos for the-"

"My boy, you have done more than enough for me," Mr, Grinkle grinned as he hopped from the couch and place his large hands firmly on Raph's shoulders, "You've been a very good boy, Raphael. Though your temper does get the better of you at times, your heart is always in the right place. It's a shame I have to go… Y'see, I have a habit for paying short visits... but I never leave my host empty-handed," he continued as he pointed to the sewer's Christmas tree.

Raph looked a bit confused as the old man continued.

"Such a nice tree! But what's a Christmas tree without a little something underneath it?"

Puzzled, Raphael scoffed, "But, sir, there's no-"

And with eyes wide, Raphael stood shocked as a present stood beneath the tree.

"No way," Raph mumbled beneath his breath before turning back to the old man, "Wow, Mr. Grunkle! How'dja-"

But like flash of light, Mr. Grinkle was gone without a trace. Completely dumb-founded Raph stood eerily in place as he heard the boisterous sound of his brothers returning home.

"Yo, dude!" Mikey cheered as he went to high-five Raph (who was still standing dumfoundedly).

Staring at the couch, Donatello cried curiously, "Hey, Raph- where'd our little friend go?"

"Uhh-humm-na'eee, uhh," Raphael blubber inconherently.

"Say, you feelin' alright," Leonardo laughed as he slung his katana belt on the sofa.

"I… umm," Raphael tried to choke out before being interrupted by Michelangelo.

"Hey, Raph," Mikey cried, kneeling beneath the tree, "You got a present?! Aw, from who? I want one!"

As Raphael walked over to the tree in a zombified fashion, Donatello and Leonardo stared at eachother as they watch their two brothers.

"How did you get a present," Mikey whined, "I-it's not even Christmas yet!"

"Who's it from, Raph," Donnie inquired.

Reading the tag aloud, Raphael dictated, "'To: Raphael, a very good boy. From: Mr. GrinKle.'"

"Who's that, Raphael?" Leo asked curiously.

Smiling, Raphael replied, "A good friend."

And without another word, the red-clad turtle left for his bedroom to privately open his gift. Opening the present, Raphael couldn't have looked happier if he tried as he found…

"I DON'T BELIEVE IT! A RED RIDER REV-AND-ROLL RACECAR! With Captain Rocket right in the driver's seat! Aw, man- he was my hero when I was a kid! But… But I never told anybody…"

Then, Raphael noticed something about the tag he hadn't noticed before as it read;

"P.S. Do you notice something peculiar about 'GrinKle'?"

After minutes of squinting and reviewing the evidence from the day's events, it finally hit him! Or… at least, he thought it did. Oh, heck- he didn't care! And he would never be entirely sure. This sign was enough for him… and he was glad that he had now found a reaffirmed belief in what the holidays were truly all about.

-FIN-